York, Pennsylvania, was named after the city of York, England, and was a little known participant in American history that was an important one.

York is called the birthplace of the Articles of Confederation and is the first place in the country where the words “The United States of America” were said.

  • Around or before 1741, two surveyors decided to lay out a town on the Codorus Creek banks. However, it wasn’t until later that Ulrich Whisler and Baltzer Spengler formed the first town west of the Susquehanna River. These surveyors worked with the family of William Penn.
  • In 1777 the British were advancing in Pennsylvania, and the Continental Congress made the decision to move the central government of the colonies from Philadelphia to an area in Lancaster. The officials thought the Susquehanna would give them time to set up in the Town of York.
  • It was while they were in York that the Articles of the Confederation were adopted by the Congress, established Thanksgiving as a National Day, and signed the French Treaty of Alliance. All of these important situations happened in the nine months that York was the official Capital of the United States.
  • Thomas Cookson laid out the city of York in 1741, and they began to sell the first lots. When 23 of the lots were sold, York became the first town west of the Susquehanna River. By 1733 the area was populated by a lot of Lutherans, and the congregation decided that they needed a church. They built a log cabin church in York, and this became the first church west of the Susquehanna. Today that same land has the Christ Church.
  • A majority of the first homes in the 1700s were made from wood from the local forests. However, in 1734 the Schultz brothers built the first of many stone homes in York County. The 2 ½ story home owned by John and Christian Schultz is believed to be the first stone home west of the Susquehanna, and it’s east of York. Martin Shultz constructed his stone home in Hellam, Pennsylvania.
  • The importance of York wasn’t lost on members of the Continental Congress. In 1777 a few of the members stopped by the home of John Schultz to rest and for refreshments. The people in the area were quite excited when they looked at their saddles because they weren’t used to seeing saddles that were so luxurious.
  • An old Indian trail that included Wrightsville, parts of Maryland and Virginia was known as the Monocacy Road. In 1739 it became the first road laid out in the York County limits.
  • Another first happened in 1812 when the owner of The Golden Lamb tavern in York decided to build a hall. It was listed as the first location for entertainment in the town of York. It was also visited by a number of entertainers that were famous actors.
  • As the era of the telegraph began to expand, the first telegraph line was spanned from Baltimore to Washington. It was in 1850 that York finally got their telegraph line. By 1853 Joel M. Ettinger had exhibited the first small electric motor at the county fair. Electricity didn’t get to York until 1881, and it was mainly for the telegraph. In 1882 a group of Yorkers organized and bought a charter from West Virginia for the incorporation of the York Overland Telephone, Telegraph, and Electric Light Co. 1881 was also the year that brought the first telephone to York.
  • The first coal-burning locomotive was built in 1832 by Phineas Davis in York. It was the result of a prize of $4,000 being offered by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad to anyone that could invest a coal-burning engine that was a success.


What city and country was York, Pennsylvania named after?
York, England

York was the home where what famous American quote was first said?
The United States of America

Why did Congress move their meeting from Philadelphia to York?
The British were too close

What famous document was written in York?
The Articles of Confederation

What famous treaty was signed in York?
The French Treaty of Alliance>

What technology was built in York that revolutionized the railroad industry?
The first coal-burning locomotive