Who were York County’s most influential citizens? – Part I
William C. Goodridge, a former slave who became a respected York businessman, was an influential 19th-century figure in York County. He is on a short list of top newsmakers in York County in the past 250 years. Background posts: List of luminaries from Dover lengthens, How come so few in York know about S. Morgan Smith?, Samuel Small tops community contributor list.
On Sunday, we’ll post a sampling of 25 of York County’s most influential residents. Actually, there are 26.
The suggestions came from members of the public, York Daily Record/Sunday New staff and the newspaper’s editorial board.
As a warm up, we post here a list from “Never to be Forgotten” of a group of 30 influential residents from York County’s past… .
Martha Bailey was a pioneering female physician in York County. (See a brief bio below).
Your additions/corrections to this list are welcome:
1. Susanna Wright — This native of England comes to Columbia in Lancaster County in 1726, before York County separated, and lives in the river town for the rest of her life. This daughter of widowed Quaker John Wright runs the household that launches several prominent Wrightsville-area families. In addition, she mediates legal disputes, writes poetry and essays, owns an extensive multi-language library and corresponds with Benjamin Franklin and others of prominence.
2. James Smith — This noted lawyer signs the Declaration of Independence and serves in the Continental Congress during the Revolutionary War. But his local influence also reaches into areas of the military, business and the law. In the legal arena, he serves as tutor and mentor to many young county lawyers.
3. Hugh Henry Brackenridge — This writer and essayist is the first of at least five attorneys who live all or parts of their lives in the county and gain seats on the state Supreme Court. Brackenridge gains his seat on the bench in 1799. Ellis Lewis, Jeremiah S. Black, Jacob Hay Brown and Herbert Cohen are the others. Black also serves as U. S. attorney general and secretary of state in President James Buchanan’s administration.
4. Richard McAllister — This tavern owner and store keeper founds Hanover. But his lengthy resume of later contributions to county public life includes colonel in a county militia that fights in the Revolutionary War and service as county judge.
5. Thomas Hartley — This Revolutionary War colonel serves as the county’s first congressman, a state legislator and a member of the state body that adopts the U. S. Constitution. Hartley is trained as a lawyer, as are many of the county’s early leaders.
6. Archibald McClean — This surveyor comes to York as a chain-bearer for the Mason-Dixon team, charged with the mission of establishing a border between Pennsylvania and Maryland. He makes his home here, holding several county positions in times when order is needed in a chaotic start-up government. As a further sign of his standing, the U. S. Treasury is located in his Centre Square house during the Continental Congress’ nine-month stay in York.
7. Henry Miller — This Lancaster County native spends his early and later life living outside the county, but his prime years are devoted to heading a county military unit during the Revolutionary War and later serving as York’s first chief burgess — or mayor — in 1787. He also joins President George Washington’s forces in quelling the Whiskey Rebellion.
8. Shinah Etting — A visitor to York in 1773 admires this young matriarch of what is believed to be York’s first Jewish family. “Those who have known York . . . cannot fail to recollect the sprightly and engaging Mrs. E. , the life of all the gaiety that could be mustered in the village,” he wrote. After her storekeeper husband dies, this mother of eight relocates to Baltimore, where her family gains a spot on a short list of the city’s most influential and respected.
9. James Ross, John Rowan, Matthew Quay and David Holmes — These four sons of immigrant families are born in the county, move away when young and later gain seats in the U.S. Senate in the 18th and 19th centuries. Ross and Quay serve from Pennsylvania. Kentucky voters elect Rowan. Mississippi voters elect Holmes. Ross also makes three unsuccessful bids for Pennsylvania’s governorship. Quay becomes a controversial and powerful Republican party boss.
10. Ann Matthews Jessop — The recently widowed Ann Jessop comes to York in the 1780s, the genesis of one of the county’s most influential and productive families. Jessop, a Quaker minister before her move to York, resumes her widespread missionary travels after she establishes roots in her new home county. Her teen-age son, Jonathan, is the most prominent 19th-century Jessop, making contributions as a clockmaker, storekeeper, civil engineer and apple grower.
11. Frederick Valentine Melsheimer — This Lutheran pastor in Hanover moonlights as a student of insects. In the early 1800s, he publishes a major work on entomology, the study of insects, and his mounted specimens end up at Harvard University.
12. George Small — This grandson of a German immigrant founds a store that grows into a business empire. His sons, P.A. and Samuel Small, expand his far-flung business interests, including milling and banking. George Small’s sons, their children and cousins are a dominant force in 19th-century county social, business and philanthropic life.
13. Charles A. Barnitz — This dean of county lawyers is honored as the presenter of the July 4, 1826, address marking the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. His descendants continue his legacy as leaders in the York community.
14. William C. Goodridge — This freed son of a slave becomes visible on the county business scene in the decades before the Civil War, operating a major retail store in a multi-story building. He uses his railroad cars to provide overground transit to slaves seeking freedom via the Underground Railroad.
15. David Small — This cousin to P. A. and Samuel Small serves as York’s chief burgess for nine consecutive terms in the 1860s and owns The York Gazette, the dominant Democratic newspaper in a heavily Democratic county. As chief burgess, he heads the delegation that meets the Confederate Army as the rebels draw near in the days before the Battle of Gettysburg. His committee pledges that York would not resist the Confederate advance in return for a promise that the town would be spared.
16. Mary C. Fisher — This respected nurse at the Civil War Hospital in York travels to Gettysburg after the battle to tend to the wounded. The experienced nurse later writes that “no imagination could paint the picture in that wood” as she aids the fallen soldiers.
17. Aquilla Howard — This freedman is so respected that he carries a wreath on behalf of York when Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train stops in town. In a life covering large parts of the 18th and 19th centuries, Howard is a leader in the black community. He served for many years in the important lay position as Sunday School superintendent in the Small A. M. E. Zion Church.
18. Catherine Meyer — This Red Lion businesswoman becomes one of the most respected business minds and developers in the area. Her business ventures include development of a general store and rail station, and she plays a role in the incorporation of Red Lion in 1880. For her leadership, she gains the title of the “Mother of Red Lion.”
19. A.B. Farquhar — This manufacturer’s long life spans chunks of two centuries, bringing success in business, community involvement and philanthropy. Farquhar sells his York-manufactured farm machinery throughout the world. When a young industrialist, he uses his business and social connections to introduce York’s fathers to the Confederate Army before the rebel occupation in 1863.
20. John Luther Long — This Hanover native, trained as a lawyer, publishes a short love story in 1898. He sets “Madame Butterfly” in the Orient without ever visiting the Far East. The story gains play on Broadway and elsewhere. The great composer Giacomo Puccini learns of it and turns Long’s work into an internationally acclaimed opera.
21. P.H. Glatfelter — This Spring Grove resident starts or develops two major 19th-century manufacturing companies with staying power. He founds the paper company that bears his name, plus strengthens York Manufacturing Company, later York International and Johnson Controls, when the ice machine maker is struggling. (We’ll give P.H. a tie for first place among the county’s all-time most influential industrialists. S. Morgan Smith’s legacy companies include Johnson Controls, Precision Components, Voith-Siemens Hydro, and American Hydro.)
22. Martha L. Bailey — This Dillsburg native, one of the county’s early women medical doctors, starts as a country doctor. Her contributions to health care extend thousands of miles further. She contributes to rural health care with the Pennsylvania Health Department, serves at a Presbyterian mission school for blacks in Alabama and works for native American and Alaskan rights.
23. Anna Dill Gamble — This Paris-born, York County-educated writer and lecturer serves as county chairwoman to convince men to vote for women’s suffrage — the right for women to vote. Gamble spends about two years in an intense campaign, defeated in the county and state in the General Election in 1915. But the effort is part of a growing nationwide suffrage movement that goes over the top with the U. S. House and Senate’s approval of the 19th Amendment in 1919.
24. Henry “Hinkey” Haines — This Red Lion native plays baseball with the World Champion New York Yankees and football with the first place New York Giants, both in the 1920s. Haines is one of several residents to excel in professional sports but is the only one to play on championship teams in two different major league sports. In fact, some reports list Haines as the only American athlete to do so.
25. George W. Bowles — This physician is known for his lifelong work of building relationships between the races and as a spokesman on issues affecting blacks. This York High graduate also becomes prominent in medical organizations at every level, including presidency of the National Medical Association in 1938.
26. Alexander Goode — This former rabbi at Temple Beth Israel gives up his life so that another would live. Goode provides his life jacket to another man on the S. S. Dorchester after an enemy torpedo strikes the ship during World War II. Goode goes to his death with three other chaplains.
27. Jacob Devers — This four-star World War II general is a prime example of a local boy who makes good internationally. Devers directs the Allied invasion of southern France. He returns home after V-E Day to a hero’s welcome, parade and all.
28. Katharine Beecher — This businesswoman founds Katherine Beecher Company in Manchester, one of thousands of small county businesses that have grown into larger companies. The military’s demand for candy during the war nourishes the candymaking company. Beecher is at home in the company’s kitchen or dealing with customers and other business matters. The company continues to feed sweet tooths today.
29. Mattie Chapman — County voters elect this Albany, Ga. , native to the post of county prothonotary in 1975, thought to be the first black woman elected to county office. She starts in the prothonotary’s office as a clerk 19 years earlier. She led the ticket in winning a second term.
30. Harry Schaad and Lillie Belle Allen — One white and one black die in the York race riots, two summers of racial unrest – 1968 and 1969 – that also result in numerous injuries to people and the city’s reputation. Schaad is a white York City police officer, shot in the line of duty. Allen, a black woman, is shot while visiting from South Carolina.
For a York Sunday News column on the above topic, I whittled the list down to 25 and gave S. Morgan Smith a full entry. See 25 influential people from York County history.
Also, visit post Who will lead York in the future? for additional background.