by Robert L. Scott
(Added When Book Was Reprinted in 1976)
In this Bicentennial year the York County Historical Association desires to make available one of the classics of York County history which has been out of print since 1937. We believe that the people of our county are basically aware of their heritage and appreciate the foundations laid by the pioneers. We have added a Table of Contents and an Index to make the book more serviceable.
As we think back on those pioneer years we can better appreciate the progress that has been made in our nation since that time. We may also be reminded of the responsibilities of each generation not only to preserve what is worthwhile in our heritage, but also to build upon it in order to make the next century, or two centuries, better for those who come after us.
That, apparently, was the reason Joseph G. Alden, almost forty years ago, printed this compilation of memories jotted down by some of the pioneers and their children. Alden was born one hundred years ago (September 7, 1876), during our nation’s Centennial year. In 1917 he became the owner, editor, and publisher of the York Republican, a leading newspaper in the county for about seventy-five years. As its name implies, Alden was active in Republican party politics, and in 1916 served as campaign director for Judge S. H. Sedgwick.
Alden was also active in civic and social affairs in York. He was a member and served as president of the Rotary Club, and was on the board of directors of both the Commercial Club and the Country Club. As a member of the Christian Science church, Alden served as a reader. His interest in the history and heritage of York County was evident in his political, social, and religious work. That interest led him to publish some of the memories of the pioneers.
In most instances the writers of the articles in Cradle Days in York County remembered the sensational aspects of life – Indians, storms, sod houses, grasshoppers, dugouts, and the inconvenience of travel and transportation. They seldom mentioned the political affairs of the county or the social life of the people. The book would have been more complete and more serviceable to a wider range of readers if a few more political and social observers had been among the authors.
Concerning the Indians the same impressions were always evident: they were friendly, they appeared infrequently, they were always feared by children, and they took what they needed.
The great storms were naturally remembered – for example, the Easter Storm of 1873. The writers remembered the good work of teachers in caring for their pupils, the bravery of farmers in caring for their animals, the sorrow at their losses, and the sense of relief that the losses were not greater.
Important in the lives of the pioneers were the rivers and creeks, the availability of water, the railroads, the homestead, various mills, schools, crops, and religion. Naturally, most of their lives revolved around farming and its success. In 1976 farming continues to be a very important factor in the success of York County.
It is our desire in reprinting this little book that both young and old in York County will once again enjoy learning about the hardships and joys, the aspirations and disappointments, the dreams and realities, the ideals and verities that made the pioneers what they were. Those qualities and circumstances prepared this county for us. May we continue to prepare it for the coming generations.
Robert L. Scott,
York County Historical Association