Jamie and Domi’s YoCo Backstory

Newberrytown

Newberrytown Y, Etters, Pa.

The situation

Historian Jamie Noerpel & Archivist Domi Miller are conversational. They’re fun. They’re passionate about local history. Without flinching, they take on challenging stories about York County’s past. Their base is the northeastern York County village of Newberrytown. That’s where they live. And they move to sites around YoCo to talk about their native county. They are the co-hosts of Hometown History.

Jamie, a teacher, holds a doctorate in American studies, blogs about local history and culture and operates this digital site, WitnessingYork.com. Domi, a federal court archivist, holds a master’s degree in library science and local history and moderates the Preserving the History of Newberrytown Facebook group. She is a re-enactor in the 87th Pennsylvania.

Here are some of the goals driving Jamie and Domi and “Hometown History,” complete with a YouTube channel and podcast.

  • To introduce next generations of York County residents to York County history.
  • In so doing, present the history of all people in a way that has weight and is winsome
  • To test, refine and practice a conversational way of storytelling about history.

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In Season 4, Episode 1 of “Hometown History: Jamie and Domi’s YoCo Backstory,” Jamie and Domi explore a 1750s stone house in West Manchester Township, in a show titled “Peter Wolf House restored: ‘We need to wake up before the only history we have is in a book.’

The Peter Wolf House, near the Route 30 and Route 116 intersection in West Manchester Township.

Description: West Manchester’s Jan Watt is living the dream in her restored West Manchester farmhouse – the Peter Wolf House. “It’s almost like I see it new every day,” she told the YDR several years ago. That, despite the view of a gas station from her bedroom window and the rumble of cars speeding by, as the YDR reported some years ago. The old farmhouse that Watt and her husband, Steve March, have restored – and are restoring – is surrounded by a Rutters (and soon a Wawa), a warehouse, a car dealership and its former barn, now a commercial site. The Peter Wolf House, thus, tells a story of York County and its transition from a key role in an agricultural community to standing in a mishmash of commercial and residential development. And yet, this testament to York County’s farming past rises tall today thanks to the perseverance of its owners.

Episode 1, was livestreamed in the Retro York and Preserving the History of Newberrytown Facebook groups at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 17. The show was streamed at Peter Wolf House, West Manchester Township. Because of space limitations, there will be no live audience.

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Hometown History, Episode 1, Season 4: Jamie and Domi visit the Peter Wolf House in West Manchester Township. Here is Part I. Part II is here. Interview with owner Jan Watt.

In Season 4, Episode 2 of “Hometown History: Jamie and Domi’s YoCo Backstory,” Jamie and Domi explore a 1750s stone tavern and house in Spring Grove, in a show titled “The Hoke House In Spring Grove Is Getting Ready For Its Move.”

Hometown History, Season 4, Episode 2: “The Hoke House In Spring Grove Is Getting Ready For Its Move.”

Description: The Hoke House is one old property that was THE hottest frontier spot during the 18th century. People lived here. They gossiped here. They built York County here. Built around 1750, the Hoke House first functioned as a tavern that lasted into the next century. In this episode, Jamie and Domi focus on the building’s role during the Revolutionary era.

Episode 2, was livestreamed in the Retro York and Preserving the History of Newberrytown Facebook groups in late January. The show was streamed at the Hoke House, West Manchester Township.

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Hometown History, Season 4, Episode 3: “The Dill Tavern brings back the booze, but with a history twist.” Also, S4, E3 Extra: Sam McKinney at the Eichelberger’s Distillery.

In Season 4, Episode 3 of “Hometown History: Jamie and Domi’s YoCo Backstory,” Jamie and Domi explore a stone tavern in northwestern York County’s Dillsburg in a show titled “The Dill Tavern brings back the booze, but with a history twist.”

Description: Dill Tavern in Dillsburg dates back to the 18th century when taverns joined mills, stores and churches at the core of social life. In this episode, Jamie and Domi trace the stone structure’s history back to when the first glasses of whiskey were sold up to today with the opening of a “new” distillery.

Episode 3, was livestreamed in the Retro York and Preserving the History of Newberrytown Facebook groups in late January. The show was streamed at the Dill Tavern/Eichelberger Distillery, Dillsburg.

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In Season 4, Episode 4 of “Hometown History: Jamie and Domi’s YoCo Backstory,” Jamie and Domi explore York County history books and reading in a show titled: “Hometown History’s Jamie and Domi tout these York County history books as must reads.”

Description: In 2003, Eric Ledell Smith looked at the local history enterprise in York County, writing in a statewide journal that York County was experiencing a “renaissance” of history writing. In the 20 years since that assessment from this noted Pennsylvania historian, York County has amassed a wealth of local history research in thoughtfully written books and digital platforms. These works about York’s past have surfaced the best of what it means to be a York countian, without inflating our reserved personality that has always represented us so well. These books have illuminated moments where we have fallen short as a county without deflating our indefatigable community spirit that seeks to make things better. “A room without books,” an ancient philosopher said, “is like a body without a soul.” In their February “Hometown History” episode, Jamie Noerpel and Dominish Marie Miller will tell how shelves ever filling with books about York County’s past have strengthened our souls and deepened our community understanding. And they will talk about their favorites. To paraphrase another sage, we are planning a future by casting away the planting of cut flowers and putting into the ground those that will grow long roots in our rich limestone soil.

Episode 4 was livestreamed before a live audience at Red Land Community Library, Yocumtown, at 6 p.m., Feb. 15.

Hometown History, Season 4, Episode 4: Hometown History’s Jamie and Domi tout these York County history books as must reads. Also, S4, E4 Extra: Interview with trails expert Silas Chamberlin.

In Season 4, Episode 5 of “Hometown History: Jamie and Domi’s YoCo Backstory,” Jamie and Domi explore the Codorus Creek and planned improvements of this important York County waterway in: “Some see it as a foul canal, but Codorus Greenway will turn the creek into a park.”

Hometown History, Season 4, Episode 4: Jamie and Domi talk about the Codorus Creek in: “Some see it as a foul canal, but Codorus Greenway will turn the creek into a park.”

Description: Codorus Creek in York has graduated from its “Inky Stinky” class, but few would call it a winsome waterway, with those high banks and scant creekside access. The Codorus Greenway project is seeking to rehab the creek and make it a city recreational showpiece. Plans call for more creek access to fish or boat, places to sit along its bank and a new trail on the west bank to offer the same recreational fun provided by the York County Heritage Rail Trail on its east bank. That park and trail also will connect west end neighborhoods with the downtown and with each other, giving a way for many to walk or bike to work. This project will broaden the way people view and use a one-mile stretch of the creek in York, transitioning the waterway from flood control alone to an enjoyable park and trail system that will still keep the city and its people safe in heavy rains. Simply put, plans call for the Codorus canal, as it’s been called, to be remade into a promising park. Jamie Noerpel and Dominish Marie Miller will talk about this greenway project and take a deep dive into the use – and abuse – of the stream in history and efforts over time to clean it up.

Episode 5 was livestreamed before a live audience at Logos Academy, 250 West King Street, York, at 6 p.m., Feb. 15. Details: (7) Hometown History: Some see it as a foul canal, but Codorus Greenway will turn the creek into a park | Facebook

In Season 4, Episode 6 of “Hometown History: Jamie and Domi’s YoCo Backstory,” Jamie and Domi explore the Welsh quarrymen of the Delta/Peach Bottom area in: “Peach Bottom Welsh quarried slate to make roofs that seem to last forever.”

History, Season 4, Episode 5: Jamie and Domi talk about Delta/Peach Bottom Welsh quarrymen in: Peach Bottom Welsh quarried slate to make roofs that seem to last forever.”

Description: In the 1840s, the Welsh came to the Delta-Peach Bottom area to quarry slate, as they had in Wales for generations. The quarries boomed for 75 years and then declined from the World War I era to World War II, but the Welsh influence remains today. When high school students from Wales visited Delta in 2023, some felt that they were in their native country. Some found their hometowns inscribed on tombstones in Slateville Presbyterian Cemetery. “The Welsh cracked the stone in one direction,” the region’s primary history book states, “and split it in the other to make roofs that seem to last forever.”

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The story of the Delta/Peach Bottom region is a story of “and.” It’s about a ridge filled with slate and a river home to eagles above and fish below. It’s about slate used as outdoor building material and green marble quarried nearby for indoor use. It tells of Welsh quarrymen and before them English and Scots-Irish and African Americans, and today commuters from Maryland and Amish farmers from Lancaster. It’s set in one of the most remote places in York County and the mid-Atlantic region and houses nuclear and gas-powered generating plants. It’s about a region that includes Pennsylvania and Maryland and the Mason-Dixon Line splitting Delta and Peach Bottom and Cardiff and Whiteford. That’s a lot of complexity and history in a rural region that some might view as plain and simple.

Episode 6, a discussion about the Welsh, their quarry work, their culture and their lasting influences, was streamed at 6 p.m., April 18, from the Welsh quarrymen’s village of Coulsontown. It was livestreamed on Facebook via Retro York and Preserving the History of Newberrytown.

Hometown History, Season 4, Episode 6: Hometown History’s Jamie and Domi talk about the Delta/Peach Bottom quarrymen outside and inside one of the restored cottages in Coulsontown. Also, S4, E4 Extra: Interview with Old Line Museum’s Don Robinson.

The witness

Hometown History: Season 1, show notes.

HH: Season 2, show notes.

HH: Season 3, show notes.

HH: Youtube channel

HH: Podcast

The questions

One of Jamie and Domi’s goals is to engage the next generation. They’ve found that, if local Facebook audiences are any indication, at least half are above 50 years in age. To fuel local history interest in those south of 50, these videos, with podcast, are meant to reach a broader audience, interesting people of all ages in York County history. However, this is just the first step. How else can we get our kids and grandkids into history?

Hometown History talks about the Penn-Coates Memorial, a deteriorating building near the park’s center.

Related links and sources: Episode 1: Interesting parts of Peter Wolf House aren’t visible to motorists (ydr.com). Episode 2: Relocated York houses: Can you move an entire house? Yes, but it isn’t easy (ydr.com). Episode 3:Exploring north of the Conewago: ‘There are really 4 York Counties’ (ydr.com). Episode 4: Black & Latino history studies: Logjam breaks in York County – Witnessing York. Top photo, Blue Sky Tavern in Newberry Township, the Jamie and Domi’s Hometown History’s home base.


— By JAMIE NOERPEL and JIM McCLURE

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