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Dover, PA

posted Apr 23, 2010, 5:51 PM by James Wise   [ updated Sep 1, 2010, 8:40 PM by Travis Wise ]
The form of Dover Township is irregular, with the southwestern boundary as a base resting upon Jackson and Paradise, Washington and Warrington to the west and north, and Conewago, Manchester and West Manchester to the east. The Conewago Hills begin in the western part of the township and Conewago, Manchester and West Manchester to the east. The Conewago Hills begin in the western part of the township and extend in a northeasterly direction to York Haven. From the first ridge of the Conewago Hills, near Mount Royal, along the public road to Rossville, the observer is afforded a landscape view to the south, east and west almost unrivaled for its enchanting beauty. The panorama unfolds to the eye large portions of the counties of York, Lancaster and Adams. Dover Township is drained by the Great Conewago which forms its northern boundary and the Little Conewago, which crosses its southeastern part. Township Formed. This township was organized under the authority of the Lancaster County court in 1747. Its exact limits were not then well-defined but it seems to have included a part of the present area of Washington Township. Dover also included the western two-thirds of Conewago Township which was formed out of Newberry and Dover in the year 1818. Nearly all the original settlers in the township of Dover came directly from the Palatine country along the Rhine in Germany. Many of them settled in colonies while others migrated across the Susquehanna from the eastern counties of Pennsylvania. Some of these General Early settlers belonged to the German Baptist Church, but most of them were Lutheran and Reformed. These General Early Germans brought with them the customs of the Fatherland, also the church and the school. For nearly three-fourths of a century the training in the parochial and private schools of this township was given in the German language. Fruit and Berries. Most of the land of the township is fertile, producing abundant crops. Part of the area of Dover Township is red shale and the balance is sandy loam. There is a small outcrop of limestone in the southwestern corner of the township. Corn, wheat and potatoes are main products except in the northern part, where peaches are cultivated in several large orchards. Milton Betz of this township has raised peaches in large quantities. Since 1880, strawberry raising has been an important industry in the northern part of the township. In 1884 Jesse Crone raised 7,700 boxes on two acres, which were disposed of at seven and a half cents a box. Henry Wilt, of Conewago, raised 2,500 boxes; Henry Fahs, of Dover, 1,300 boxes; Joseph Boring of Newberry, 8,000 boxes on four acres of land. The Ball Hill country, mostly lying in Newberry Township but adjoining Conewago and Dover, is noted for the raising of small fruits and peaches. The land here is pure red shale, and generally slopes to the south, absorbing warm rays of sunlight during the General Early springtime. By proper cultivation the strawberry crop on this land yields luscious fruit abundantly. The sandstone, for the trimming of the Harrisburg Court House, was quarried in Dover Township by Philip S. Crone. Furnace stones containing sixty cubic feet were also obtained near the base of the Conewago Hills. A quarry was opened on the Drawbaugh farm in 1884. Population. The population of Dover Township in 1820 was 1,816; in 1830, 1,874; in 1840, 1,920; in 1850, 1,918; in 1860, 2,258; in 1870, 2,281; in 1880, 2,378; in 1890, 2,349 and in 1900, 2313. Schools. The present public school system, under act of 1834, was not accepted in Dover Township until the passage of the act of 1848, which recognized all school districts in the state as having accepted the system and during the winter of 1849-50, the great contest arose in this township to introduce the “free schools.” John Sharp, Peter Stough, Peter Boyer, Jacob Emig, George Beck, and Samuel Meisenhelder, composed the first board of directors. Schools had been regularly kept up before this time, under the supervision of two directors. Andrew Dinsmore, in the fall of 1849, held the first examination. After the acceptance of the public school system in 1848, private and parochial schools were discontinued. The children of this township for many years labored under a disadvantage. They spoke the German language at home and on the playground but were taught entirely from English books. It is not easy to understand how good results could be accomplished by teachers who had to undergo such difficulties; yet by persistent effort, it can be said, to the credit of the teachers of Dover Township during the last thirty years, that the improvement shown in public school of this district has been encouraging. There are now within the limits of the township, sixteen schools, containing modern improvements and large playgrounds around the school houses. The names of these schools are as follows; Ramer’s, Davidsburg, Julius’, Emig’s, Weiglestown, Lenhart’s, Rupert’s, Stough’s, Hoover’s, Sheffer’s, Roler’s, Mt. Royal, Harmony Grove, Marsh’s, Trimmer’s. John Sharp served thirty-two years as a school director for Dover Township. He was a son of Captain George Sharp, who was killed in 1814, by being thrown from a horse near Weiglestown. Confederate Invasion. On Sunday morning, June 28, 1863, General Jubal General Early with three brigades of division, about 6000 men, crossed the lower part of Dover Township toward York, over the Canal Road. His other brigades under General Gordon entered York over the Gettysburg turnpike. Gordon had encamped the previous night at Farmer’s Post Office and General Early in the vicinity of Big Mount. The Canal Road extends east and west a few hundred yards south of Davidsburg. In order to see the Confederate invaders, some of the people of the village sat on the fence along the Canal Road and watched the movement of the troops toward York. Among these was John B. May, who held a York newspaper in his hand. General Early with his staff was riding near the head of his column. When he saw the newspaper in the hands of Mr. May he asked for it and it was given to him. He immediately began to scan it as he rode along stating, “This is just what I wanted.” He expected to find some information of local value in it. General Early’s troops were nearly all infantry. When he arrived at Weiglestown he sent a detachment of about 200 mounted men, belonging to the Seventeenth Virginia Cavalry, to the mouth of the Conewago at York Haven. They were ordered to that place for the purpose of burning the railroad bridges there, which they did about noon of the same day. General Early crossed from Weiglestown to the Harrisburg turnpike, and entered York from the north. He remained at York until the early morning of June 30. Having been ordered to fall back to Gettysburg, he returned westward, nearly over the same route he had gone to York. When he arrived at Davidsburg about noon of June 30th, he ordered dinner for himself, his staff and two of his brigadier generals, Smith and Hayes, in all twenty men. At this time, General Early did not know but that he might meet an opposing force of Federal troops in the Paradise valley that afternoon. While the dinner was being prepared by the family of William Julius, proprietor of the hotel, General Early and his Brigadier generals held a conference in a small room where they spoke in low tones, discussing the situation,. The staff officers sat in a front room, some of them reading pocket Bibles which they carried, for they all knew a desperate battle was soon to take place. These twenty men, sat around a long table for half an hour eating their midday meal, which they all seemed to relish. There was very little conversation at the table for a serious air seemed to pervade the entire room, all the time they remained. As General Early and one of his officers passed out the front doorway of the hotel, they heard the booming of cannon toward the southwest. “I suppose a battle has begun,” said General Hayes to his chief, as General Early mounted his horse, which was then being held by the proprietor of the hotel. Before leaving the hotel, General Early handed the proprietor four five dollar Confederate notes, in payment for the twenty dinners that he had engaged to be prepared. One of these bills has been preserved and presented to the Historical Society of York County by George W. Gross, of Admire, Dover Township, in 1904. The booming of the cannon which the officers heard as they rode away from the hotel came from Hanover, where an engagement was then taking place between the cavalry and artillery forces of Kilpatrick and Stuart. This prevented a collision between General Early and Kilpatrick in the Paradise Valley, while the Confederates were on their march toward Gettysburg. On the morning of July 1, the day following General Early’s retreat, General J. E. B. Stuart, who had been defeated at Hanover, crossed Dover Township with nearly 6000 mounted men. His troopers captured a large number of farm horses in this township and exchanged them for their worn-out nags which had seen hard service on the long march into Pennsylvania. They were never returned and many Dover horses were killed in the battle of Gettysburg two days later. The story of Stuart at Dover is told in the history of the borough, found elsewhere in this volume. History of York County, Pennsylvania Prowell Volume I 1907

Centre Square, Dover, PA 

Because it was situated on the well traveled road to Carlisle, the community of Dover saw its first “public house” erected as early as 1752. It was that year that Gerhart Graeff (later Graves) asked the justices of York County for a license to accommodate those using the road which was described as “greatly burthened with travelers passing…” The hotel seen on the post card was operated by George Darron beginning in 1809. The business was handed down later to Darron's son, and still later to the grandson of the original owner. In 1859 the business became the property of the Wiest family and remained in that family until 1889. Meanwhile another member of the same family, Peter Wiest, had moved his dry goods business from its site near the hotel here to a property in York on West Market Street. That business prospered after some serious setbacks and eventually became one of York's landmark stores. In the days before railroads, the Hotel Dover served wagoners who transported goods from Philadelphia and Baltimore, through York, to places such as Pittsburgh, Wheeling and other western destinations. In the winter time the working men would unroll their own blankets onto the floor of inns like the hotel pictured and sleep next to other travelers lodged there for the night. When weather permitted, the travelers slept in their wagons, on the ground or in barns along the way. In these seasons the public house became a center for providing hot meals, refreshing drinks and news of current events. One of the favorite drinks of this time was also one of the most common products being shipped on the wagons originating in York. For almost 50 years (from 1780 to 1792 and from 1800 to 1830) more whiskey was made in York than in any other Pennsylvania county. Four to five horse teams carried loads of barrels (called hogsheads and holding 150 gallons each of the alcoholic nectar) to destinations outside York where corn whiskey sold for 24 cents a gallon and the best rye whiskey fetched 80 cents a gallon. The most common recipe for corn whiskey of the time called for 5853 parts of corn to 1941 parts of rye to 438 parts of yeast and 273 parts of malt. The waste products were fed to animals. By the time the Hotel Dover was opened on the site seen on the postcard, York County had 559 distilleries and was known far and wide for its inexpensive but high quality liquor. Later the business of brewing beer found similar success throughout the county. The Hotel Dover served travelers as well as local citizens for more than 100 years. With the coming of the Railroad Age and then the Age of the Automobile, intermediary stops like this one were forced out of business. The Hotel Dover, like many other such inns, became a sad casualty of the changing times. Today, 2004, Tom’s Exxon Gas Station and the Drovers Bank are located where the Hotel once stood.

Dover Canal Road
Canal Road. On motion of James Smith, Esq., on behalf of Caleb Lowe and others, viewers were appointed April, 1768, to open a road from Lowe’s ferry (now York Haven) to intersect the road leading from York to Carlisle. This afterward was known as the “Canal road.” The petition of sundry inhabitants of Newberry and Dover, July, 1768 apprehended that “a road from James Rankin’s house to Great Conewago, at or near a place called the wolf pit, and from thence to a ferry on the Susquehanna would be useful.” Whereupon the court appointed James Welsh, Exq., John Garretson, Sr., Henry Entzminger, Joseph Hutton, Peter Sneider, and Ellis Lewis to open the road. It was laid out in October. Its length was sixteen miles.” It began at Lewisberry and ended at New Holland, on the Susquehanna. Petitions in 1769 from a number of “Quakers of the townships of Newberry, Warrington, Huntingdon, Tyrone and Menallen, were presented for a road leading westward through the different townships mention, for them to pass and repass to and from their different places of worship; to begin at Mc Graw’s? mill, thence along by the meeting houses at Huntingdon (York Springs), and Warrington, and to intersect the road leading from Lowe’s ferry to Carlisle, at or near the Newberry meeting house.” This road was opened by John Blackburn, Ellis Lewis, Charles Coleson, Robert Nelson, and James Rankin: It terminated near the present village of Newberry. A petition of sundry inhabitants of York County was presented to court, January, 1769, for a road “for the passage of large wagons from Tate’s ferry and William Willis’ mill into the great road from Carlisle to York near Widow Noblet’s house, which would be some miles nearer for the Baltimore trade.” In April, 1769, the inhabitants of Hellam, Windsor and Chanceford requested that a road be made from Hellam Forge, at the mouth of the Codorus, across said townships toward Rock Run and Baltimore and join the road already laid out to John Finley’s tavern. Viewers were appointed and the road opened. It is still known as the “old Baltimore road.” In 1769 citizens of York and surrounding townships asked for the opening of a road in behalf of Thomas Usher and Joseph Donaldson, who, “at great expense, had erected a merchant mill on the land formerly owned by Zachariah Shugart, near lands of David Jameson, Esq., Henry Spangler and Michael Hanks. This road would be of great advantage to the town of York. The road was opened. In 1769, in answer to many petitions in behalf of James Cooper, who had built a merchant mill near Peach Bottom, a road was opened from the ferry to said mill. James Dickson, at April session, 1769, stated that “he had contracted with commissioners and built a bridge across the Little Conewago, at Henry Sturgeon’s house, for 100 pounds, and to uphold the same for seven years; at the same time had the verbal promise of the commissioners that they would not see him at a loss, for they said that it would be wrong to let one man suffer by the county. Accordingly they told him to lay his bill of expenses before the grand jury; that nevertheless he had not yet obtained redress: The court appointed six men to view the bridge, whose report was favorable to the contractor, and the court ordered the county to relieve him. It is doubtful if a contractor would be so favored now. In July, 1770, a road was opened from Yonerstown (Dover) to George Ilgenfritz’s mill, in Dover Township, by Michael Quickel and others. The same year a road was opened from Hellam iron works, at the mouth of the Codorus, to York. History of York County, PA Prowell Volume 1 1907


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