1907 York Gazette Newspaper Article Detailing York’s Black Elite community in the Early and Mid 1800’s

Some of York’s Black Elite portrayed in this 1907 newspaper article included;

Mrs. M.E. Joice – Mrs. Joice conducted one of the oldest hair dressing and manicure parlors of its kind in the city. Her trade had a reputation for the very best service. She was a property owner and a very careful businesswoman,

Samuel E. Johnson – Mr. Johnson was a stenographer and secretary to the General Superintendent of the York Manufacturing Company. He was a product of York schools and held the prestigious position for seven years. He was a property owner and had the respect and confidence of both races in the community.

Edward W. Faucett – Mr. Faucett was the proprietor of a barber shop, cigar store and pool room at 122 South George Street. He also conducted a boarding and lodging  house at 118 West Prince Street. He had splendid qualities and his establishment were especially attractive to the traveling public.

Harry G. Woods – Mr. Woods ran a cigar, tobacco and pool room on the corner of George and King Street for more than 12 years. He owned several other nice properties and was a well-respected citizen.

Robert Diggs – After twenty years as a public waiter Mr. Diggs started his own restaurant and lodging business. He had splendid quarters at 201 South Beaver Street which had been tastefully fitted with a soda fountain, confectionary and ice cream bar.

Rev. John Joice – One of the first Black Ministers in York and an original trustee of the Mother Zion A.M.E.Church.

Mr. John Reeves – Father of Mrs. Helen Reeves Thackston. A prominent porter at the National Hotel for over 31 years. Proprietor of the Hot Oyster Sandwich shop. A stalwart supporter of the A.M.E. Zion church. Mr. Reeves was able to earn and save enough money selling oysters that he was able to buy and give each of his three daughters their own home.

Mr. William Butler – Mr. Butler Drove oxcarts to drag lumber to the sawmills. Was the first janitor of the Smallwood School from the time it was built. He also worke for Eli Lewis the President of the First National Bank for about 35 years. Close friend of Aquilla Howard.

Miss Susan Marrs – Mrs. Marrs was born in York in 1809. She worked for the prominent James Lewis Family. She was given a plot of land by the powerful lawyer Charles Barnitz on which she planted mulberry trees to breed silkworms.

Mr. William Wood – A master machinist. A member of A.M.E. Zion since its beginning. Lived on Newberry Street for over 50 years. Designed and built many innovative impliments for steam locomotives and steamships.

The Schales – They were carpet weavers who lived on Water Street.

The Clarks – Lived on Philadelphia Street near George Street. They wer scourers, dyers and tailors.

Mr. Aquilla Howard – Longtime superintendent of the A.M.E. Zion Sunday School. Came to York in 1860. Worked for the Phillip Small family for 43 years.

Mr. Drowery – Mr. Drowery was a shoemaker who made shoes for many of York’s prominent white citizens.


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Another Photo of Historic Scout Troop #11 at Crispus Attucks Center circa 1954


Historic Crispus Attucks Cub Scout Pack #11…….Front Row l – r; Butch Thomas, Benson Beattie, Dwight McKinney, Ray Williams, Tommy Owens, Butch Hawkins, unknown, Leonard Beattie, & Bill Holland. Second Row l – r; Cameron Colston, unknown, McKinley Orr, Ritchie Holmes, Bennett Sexton, Steve Ballard, Dale Saxon, Wayne Holland, unknown, & Buddy Hill. last row l – r; Mr. William Holland, Al Foster, Mrs. Beatrice Ballard, Mrs. Helen Thackston, Mrs. Mae Jenkins, Mrs. Daisy Owens, Leroy Hunter and Mr. Joe Jenkins……


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1929 Photo of York, Pa. Girl Scout Troop #4

Fantastic 1929 photograph of one of York, Pa’s earliest scout troops, Girl Scout Troop #4. This Troop was formed long before the Penn Laurel Girl Scout Council was established in 1959. The first charter for Girl Scouts was presented in York in 1928. Girls identified in this 1929 photo taken at Pine Grove Furnace include standing at rear l – r; Troop 4 Captain Joanna Harris, Gertrude Murray Irons, Alma Ransom, Mildred Butler, Georgianna Smith Hawkins, an unknown camper, & Earl Redman the cook; second row; Rosetta Young Thomas, Lois Lambert Reeves, Francis Holmes Hunter, Ernestine Ransom Thomas, Pansy Irons, Unidentified camper, Harriet Harris Williams & Ruth Hunter, Front Row; Dorothy Handy, Helen Ambush, Carrie Williams, Augusta Sease Hill, Irene Hawkins Felton, Melvina Henderson, Delores Simpson, Carrie Palmer Ford, Viola Palmer, Virgie Hopkins Charms & Mary Dorm Washington.
The girls would meet at the Emergency Girls Club on West Princess Street. The Emergency Girls club was one of two groups which joined together to form the first Crispus Attucks Association in 1931. It was organized out of Faith Presbyterian Church and was led by Mrs. Ida Grayson and Mrs. Alma Montouth. When the original Crispus Attucks was formed in 1931 the troop began meeting there.

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Black History Month Event


You are invited to come out to a Fabulous evening of Art & Gospel celebrating Black History Month in York, Pa. The evening will feature a variety of artwork by several of York’s prominent Black artist including Mr. Jesse Manning longtime Yorker and a painter of York iconic art for many decades, Ms. Ophelia Chambliss one of York’s most prolific artist. Ms. Chambliss’s murals grace many of York’s wall and open spaces, Mr. Milton “BT” Ritter who recently moved to Harrisburg has painted some of the Giants of the Music world, Mrs. Joyce Breeland Martin another lifelong Yorker who has recently moved to Harrisburg Joyce paints many abstract paintings and uses various mediums which intensifies her pieces., Mr. Kerry Kirkland a lifelong Yorker who began painting seriously in his later years, and Mr. Norman Webster Brown a 95 year old Yorker who has been painting for over 60 years. Mr. Brown also does carvings and plays a mean guitar. The evening will also feature a retrospective on Old Time Gospel Songs meaningful to the Black community. Performing will be the newly reorganized York High Gospel Choir under the direction of Ms. Britney Brooks, Mrs. Cecelia Harris one of York’s singing Angels fron the New Covenant Community Church, Mrs. Judy Ritter Dickson a York City Councilwoman and a singing member of the Fairview Full Gospel. Missionary Baptist Church, and also featuring York’s Sensational Men on a Mission Gospel singing group. It will be an evening to remember. This event is presentated free of charge by the York African American Historical Preservation Society and will be held at the Crispus Attucks Association 604 South Duke Street on Thursday February 16, starting at 4:30 pm and goes until 8:30 pm. All are welcome.

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Black History Month Event


Please join us for a Black History Month presentation on The History of York’s African American Community. Mr. Jeff Kirkland, MHS will present information and photographs relative to the presence of African American presence in York from the early 1800’s until the present day. Don’t miss  the fun filled and informative evening celebrating our Rich and Glorious History here in York. The program will run from 4:30 pm until 6:30 pm on Saturday February 18,2017 at the Shiloh Baptist Church 740 Locust Street York Pa. You can call Jeff Kirkland at 717.434.8504 for more information.

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Rev. Thomas E. Montouth, Sr.

Rev. Thomas Montouth, Sr. & Family

Rev. Thomas Montouth born in Georgetown Guyana, came to York in 1905 by way of New York through Lincoln University. Rev. Montouth operated a newstand at 298 West Princess Street where he distributed Black newspapers and other literature such as the Baltimore Afro American and the Pittsburg Courier. He was an outspoken advocate for Negro Rights in this community for decades in the 1920’s, 30’s and into the 1950’s. He became the Minister at Faith Presbyterian church in 1928. Rev. Montouth was one of the founders of the Community House a precursor to the Crispus Attucks Association, he was a founding member of the Crispus Attucks Association, the Lincoln University Alumni Club and the Powerful Citizens Club. He was a prolific writer and a fearless advocate for justice and would publish letters in the local newspapers on many topics related to the uplift of the Black man in York, Pa. He was ….….in 1932 his letter entitled “The Dawn of a New Day” called for the Negro elite of the community to come together to identify and resolve the major problems facing the Negro here. Other articles he wrote included one on Brotherliness, Racial separation and the Negro Church. As head of the local NAACP he would lead investigations into many acts of racial injustice or discrimination without Fear. He was a strong advocate for those wrongly charged by the criminal justice system

In 1947 he was involved in a well-publicized discrimination suit against Howard Miller, the owners of the Dinner Bell Restaurant at 155 South Queen Street. The suit grew out of waiter Millard Dinges’ refusal to serve Rev. Montouth at the diner. Although the refusal to serve was witnessed by two York City policemen, Corporal Ira Bohn and Edward Pinkerton, the suit was denied by a local grand jury in what was termed “a capricious and arbitrary act totally disregarding the facts and the law”.

Although he was not an attorney, as head of the NAACP Rev. Montouth would appear in court to defend any who he felt were wrongly accused. One such incident in 1950 involved the case of an 18 year old Negro male arrested for smiling and winking at a white woman. The youth was sentenced to pay a $25.00 fine and spend 30 days in Jail. Afer visiting and petitioning the Mayor at the time Mayor Bentzel the unjust sentence was overturned.

Another notorious case was the 1941 case of Mr. Alfoster White, 31 years old at the time. Mr. White was charged arbitrarily with disorderly conduct after a car he was riding in operated by Mr. Charles Washington was struck by the car of a white man, Grayson Deardorff. The officer alleged that Mr. White was arguing with Mr. Deardorff and refused to move along. Rev.  Montouth happened to be a witness to the incident and upon his testimony the case was dismissed.

In 1931 Rev. Montouth joined with Dr. George Bowles and several other community leaders to organize the Crispus Attucks Association. They envisioned an organization which could take the lead in building and uplifting the growing Black community. Crispus Attucks became the Heartbeat of the Black community during this era.  The Negro community as well as the community in general came to the support of the program. In the 1943 membership drive 957 new members signed up in support of the center. Of the 1400 employable colored citizens in the city of York at that time, 877 purchased memberships. If ever there was a renaissance for York’s Black community it came during the 1940’s, 50’s and early 60’s when Crispus Attucks provided leadership, direction and purpose for individual and group development. The leadership were proponents of W.E.B. Dubois philosophy of the “talented tenth” which described his belief that one in 10 black men who have become leaders of their race through methods such as continuing their education, writing books, or becoming directly involved in social change, had a responsibility to give back in an effort to uplift the Race. These leaders were outspoken and direct in their belief that we should assume responsibility for the development of our community both collectively and individually.

In 1972 Rev. Montouth was awarded the “Service to Mankind” award by the Sertoma Club of York. This award was presented to a citizen who has given freely and unselfishly his or her time and service to their fellow man.

Rev. Montouth’s home and business was destroyed in the floods spawned by hurricane Agnes in 1972. He then moved in with his daughter Ms. Alma Montouth, a retired school teacher who lived on the corner of Pershing Avenue and Maple Street. Rev. Montouth died in 1977 and is interred at Lebanon Cemetery.



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