York Town Square

Part of the USAToday Network

York community loses three respected historians

booksThe late Gary Collison penned this well-regarded book, “Shadrach Minkins: From Fugitive Slave to Citizen.” Google Books says this about Collison’s work: ‘On February 15, 1851, Shadrach Minkins was serving breakfast at a coffeehouse in Boston when history caught up with him. The first runaway to be arrested in New England under the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, this illiterate black man from Virginia found himself the catalyst of one of the most dramatic episodes of rebellion and legal wrangling before the Civil War. In a remarkable effort of historical sleuthing, Gary Collison has recovered the true story of Shadrach Minkins’ life and times and perilous flight… .’

The York County historical community has lost three thoughtful and authoritative writers in the past 15 months: … .

York College’s Carl Hatch wrote regular newspaper articles for a popular audience and also produced handy grist for researchers.
His work included indexes and summaries of York County in World War I, the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s. He co-authored a booklet detailing county presidential election results from 1800 to the 1970s that still aid researchers trying to understand historic voting patterns.
— Penn State’s Gary Collison was active on numerous community historical committees and was particularly interested in black history.
For example, he and student assistants researched York County blacks who served in the famed 54th Massachusetts Regiment, featured in the Civil War film “Glory.”
On the national academic front, he had been the editor of “Markers,” the annual journal of The Association of Gravestone Studies for the past seven years.
William H. Shank’s works focused on the history of transportation in Pennsylvania. But York County popped up regularly in his work.
His books, readily available at state historical attractions, first exposed me to Pennsylvania’s intriguing past when I visited the state as a teen in the summers. I didn’t know it then, but he lived in York County.
The local historical scene misses all three men.