Early History

  • Early research and data prepared by Jonathan R. Strayer, May 1981, indicates that York County was erected from Lancaster by Act of August 19, 1749
  • Hellam Township was the Lancaster County township from which most York townships were formed
  • The Susquehanna River has never been part of York County.  It lies in Lancaster County
  • Adams county was erected from York on January 22, 1800.  The town of York was laid out for John, Thomas, and Richard Penn by Thomas Cookson in 1741

Windsor Township formed a part of Hellam, which was laid out by authority of the Provincial court at Lancaster in 1739. Windsor remained a part of Hellam Township until 1753 when a petition was presented to the court at York, signed by John Wright, Jr. asking that “Hallam Township be divided by a line on Stony Ridge, running across the valley to the next ridge of hills on the south side of Grist (Kreutz) Creek Valley, and also eastward along the last named ridge to the river Susquehanna.” This new township, York, included the current townships of Windsor, Lower Windsor, York and a portion of Spring Garden. Five years later, Windsor Township (which included Lower Windsor Township) formed out of York Township. “Gibson, page 724” 

In April 1758, the following petition was presented at the April session of court: “We, your humble petitioners, hereby state that when the Townships of York and Hallam were in one, a division line was obtained which did not prove convenient or satisfactory; therefore we request that commissioners be appointed by your worshipfuls to lay off the new township.” The presiding justice, Thomas Armor, then appointed John Shultz, John Schyrack, Christian Shank and Michael Bart, to view and run the boundary line which was as follows:

Beginning at the plantation of Peter Peterman, thence with the road to David Hunter’s, thence with the same to Shrewsbury Township (now Springfield and Hopewell), thence with the same township and the township of Chanceford to the Susquehanna, and up the same to Hallam Township, thence along the middle of that ridge of hills to Peter Peterman’s plantation and place of beginning, which last described township is to be called by the name of Windsor.

The name Windsor is attributed to Thomas Armor who was born in Windsor, England and was a large landowner, in addition to being the presiding justice. “Gibson, page 724”

In 1783, the population was 1,118. There were 190 barns, 184 houses, 10 mills, and 22,054 acres of assessable land.

Windsor Township population figures:

1820 1830 1840 1850 1860 1870 1880 1890 1900      
2,096 2,760 1,110 1,250 1,627 2,024 2,155 2,372 2,516      

Windsor Township had fourteen schools known as Anstine’s, Cedar Hill, Frysville, Cross’ (Raubs), Fairview, East End, Smalls’, Grove’s, Miller’s, Brilhart’s, Tyson’s, Wambaugh’s, Gehley’s, and Diehl’s.As with most early communities, churches were very important, and many times the church was the beginning of a neighborhood or village. One such church was Emanuel’s Lutheran and Reformed Church, known as “Frysville Church”, founded March 28, 1771. The surrounding land was owned by Conrad Fry, an early settler, who deeded one and one-half acres for 5 shillings, to Jacob Segner, Adam Heindel, Jacob Ruby and Stephen Slifer in trust for the “Lutheran and Presbyterian congregations.” The German Reformed Church was thought to be the same as the Presbyterian, except that the worship of the German Reformed Church was conducted in German. As early as 1745, land surrounding the church was used as a cemetery. Headstones of sandstone were the first placed and later slate tablets. The inscriptions on the stones were in English even though the settlers were German. There are several patriots of the Revolution buried there. There are many unmarked graves, and the earliest marked graves were from 1748 of Anna Frey and Mary Nichols.

Zion United Brethren Church was founded around 1820. In 1843, the first church of the United Brethren in Christ was built in York County, on the lands of Adam Stabley.
A new church was built in 1899 at a cost of $9,000.

Bethlehem Church was formed around 1835. Services were held in members’ homes. Land was given by John Landis and a church know as “stone pile” was built in 1853 and was called “The New Bethlehem Evangelical Church of Windsor Township”. In 1871 a new church was built.

Union Church, located near Windsorville held services in the home of Michael Heindel, Sr. until a brick church was built in 1853.

Windsor Bethel was located about a mile north of Windsorville and was a part of the “Lower York Mission” of the Church of God. This sect belonged to an order of Baptists and originated in Lancaster. Preaching was held in the homes of Daniel Holtzinger and Gottlieb Barley for about twenty years and then in 1876, a church building was constructed for $1,400.

Locust Grove, a Reformed Church, was built in 1866 at a cost of $1,500.
Some early settlements or villages located in Windsor Township are Windsorville, Frysville, Springvale, and Holts.

WINDSORVILLE is located in the southern part of the Township. George Anstine owned a 300 acre farm and succeeding generations of the Anstine family generated political and merchantile activity from this site. Much activity centered around Anstine’s store for more than fifty years. The cigar making industry emerged and a village developed around the Anstine store. There was a post office as early as 1830 a short distance south of the present borough near the Chanceford Township line. Most of the people living in Windsorville worked in the tobacco and cigar business. George W. Gable was a prominent cigar manufacturer and operated on a large scale. In 1907, he employed 100 workers. On June 5, 1905, Windsorville was incorporated as the Borough of Windsor. George W. Gable was the first burgess.

FRYSVILLE (Freysville) was named in honor of Conrad Fry, an early settler. Freysville is situated on a tract of fertile land on Springetttsbury Manor. The region in this area was settled by white settlers in 1735. Cigar manufacturing by M. F. Ziegler, Daniel Anstine and David Ziegler was the main business.

SPRINGVALE is a small village in the southern end of Windsor Township and was founded around 1820. The York and Peach Bottom Railroad reached Springvale in 1874 and a station was established. In 1876, Springvale had a railroad station, a freight depot, a grist mill, a saw mill, a tannery, and a general store. In 1877 a post office was opened. Dr. William B. Bigler practiced medicine from 1881 to 1910. In the early 1900’s, H. G. Barnhart owned and operated a cigar factory and later an automobile dealership.

HOLTZ was a small village with a post office, in the area around the current intersection of Mt. Pisgah and Freysville Roads. Holtz was named in honor of George W. Holtzinger, farmer, cigar maker, and mercantile business owner. He was elected a County Commissioner in 1905.

Revolutionary Prison – Camp Security
In the northeastern part of Windsor Township, a short distance north of East Prospect Road is the site of the Revolutionary prison, Camp Security. The prison was built in the form of a circle. The posts were fifteen feet in length and were placed closely together Indian fort style. The prisoners built huts inside.  One-fourth mile from the larger pen, was a smaller one. Farmers later used the posts for fence rails. There were a great many British and Hessian prisoners kept at different times in Lancaster, York, Carlisle, Reading and Lebanon, and eventually a number were sent to western Maryland and Virginia. The first prisoners arrived in central Pennsylvania around December 1775. The York County Militia guarded the prisoners most of the time. In 1781 a fever broke out among the prisoners at York and in Lancaster. It was called “jail fever” or “camp fever”. At the Windsor prison, many died, mostly Hessians. They were buried in a small valley to the east. A poem, written by Henry L. Fisher, a prominent member of the York County Bar, entitled “Hessian Thal” and means “The Hessian Valley” describes this burial area.

Daniel L. Gehly was a prominent citizen of Windsor Township who operated a woolen mill on a large scale. It was the oldest mill of its kind in York County. It was founded as a fulling mill in 1780. Large quantities of stocking yarn, flannels, blankets, cloths, satinets and carpets were made. Before 1850, large quantities of linsey-woolsey, consisting of half linen and half wool, were made at this factory. The factory was operated by Daniel L. Gehly and later by John W. Gehly.