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The HIStory of York County - Zer Netmouse
March 26th, 2015
01:07 pm

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The HIStory of York County
I am currently reading the 1981 edition of To the Setting of The Sun: The Story of York, about York PA, where I now live. The author, Georg R. Sheets, got to page 16 before naming a single woman (Christina Schultz, homesteader, who with her husband John built a two-story stone house). It has been so long since I read a history that so completely elides the active participation of women that I find it baffling.

For instance, his only acknowledgement that William Penn married (twice) and had a family was to mention that Springettsbury Manor was named in honor of his grandson, who was his heir, and later to name his son and two grandsons. Otherwise, he simply referred to the people who managed his estate after him as 'The Penns'. William Penn, effectively the founder of Pennsylvania, was married to Gulielma Springett in April 1672. They had five daughters and three sons, one of whom was named Springett. It seems odd to mention it was his grandson's name yet omit that it was first his first wife's family name. Gulielma died in 1696, at the age of 52. Two years later the 52-year-old Penn married 25-year-old Hannah Margaret Callowhill, with whom he had 8 children, of whom 6 lived past infancy. When William had a stroke in 1712, Hannah became the proprietor of the Pennsylvania colony, and remained so until her death in 1726 (Penn himself died in 1718, leaving her as his executor). Her portrait now hangs in the Governor's office among other portraits of people who have run this state.

As of pg 39 the book is getting into the Revolution and has named approximately 176 men (including several local historians he has cited), and precisely 7 women, including Mrs. Schultz whom I mentioned before. Two of the named women were criminals: a handkerchief thief given 15 lashes and a murderess, hanged. The other four are listed as wives or mothers, sometimes with details as to whose daughter they were or how many children they had: Anna Barbara Spangler, who married a brewer named John Barnitz and had two sons; Catherine Hay, daughter of Colonel John and Julie Maul Hay, who married Anna's younger son John during the Revolution; and Mary Dill McAllister, who was the daughter of Colonel Matthew Dill, who had commanded a regiment in the French and Indian War, and married Colonel Richard McAllister, who founded Hanover in 1763. The McAllisters had 11 children, 2 of whom commanded companies in the Revolution.

There is a 2002 edition of this book, and I note that in between editions Sheets collaborated with photographer Blair Seitz on a book called Pennsylvania Heritage: Diversity in Art, Dance, Food, Music, and Customs (RB Books, June 2001) that has a woman on the cover, so I'm slightly optimistic that the more recent edition is improved on this subject. I will have to get a hold of one at some point and see. I hope it also includes a modern-day map of York County. Lacking such, the 1981 edition is a bit confusing, since many of the places it names are only geographically described in relation to modern-day towns and landmarks. In his forward Sheets recommends giving the book to out-of-town relatives, but people who are not from here are not likely to be able to follow such references without a map.

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From:apostle_of_eris
Date:March 26th, 2015 08:06 pm (UTC)
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What, sir, would the people of the earth be without woman? They would be scarce, sir, almighty scarce.
— Mark Twain
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From:the_leewit
Date:March 27th, 2015 03:34 pm (UTC)
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Maybe you should see about a collaboration for an updated edition. That could be fun.

I recall what a revelation A Man Called Intrepid was to me, how all that, "Oh, yeah,women also existed in World War II, Rosie the Riveter yay y'all are so fucking empowered that the state of Illinois ordered us to put a paragraph in here," in our history books was not only staggeringly boring and patronizing but an out-and-out lie. Women were codebreakers, spies, most of the Resistance. (Apparently, the winners were writing the history while staying home on Saturday night. No, that's needlessly cynical for an era in which one of the standards for being a "lady" was, literally, to never have one's name appear in a newspaper.) It's one of the reasons I like the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast so much--- the stuff that falls through the cracks is so often what is missing from history in order to make it three-dimensional.

Edited at 2015-03-27 03:35 pm (UTC)
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