Preserving York – Building Community in the New Year

On behalf of Preserving York, I’d like to wish all of our readers and supporters a very Happy New Year. We hope 2015 will be filled with warmth, happiness, and prosperity for the entire community.

Even though Preserving York as a whole was quiet during 2014 due to personal challenges faced by the organizer (that’s me), the group continued to grow and support has certainly flourished. Our Facebook discussion group now has over 1,500 members and our “official” Facebook page is nearing 300 “likes”. For the record, the discussion group is where you will find a wealth of historic York County information and photographs from members. Our FB page is our official presence and where news and related items are featured. We feel it’s important to not only join the group, but also LIKE our page.

Community Gatherings and Tours

Preserving York has always focused on building community through the use of York County history, and 2015 will certainly be no different. We hope to make this our most successful year ever.

The first tour we ever organized was at the historic Rex/Laurel Fire House in the city of York. Greg Halpin, Deputy Fire Chief of the York City Fire Department was a wealth of information and always entertains. Guests were fascinated by the intricate features of the property, many that you would never expect to see in such a setting. We’ll be working with Greg to set up another tour, which has been requested quite often.


Who can forget the great picnic and tour held at Indian Steps Museum? The community enjoyed a potluck lunch where everyone brought food items to share, followed by a tour of the unique Native-American themed museum. Some members shared pieces of York County history found in their collection and overall, everyone had a great time. We’ve received many requests for another picnic on this site, and we’ll planning one this year. There is a fee that we will work on raising for the use of the pavilion.


There are some new tours and events we have in mind, such as a tour of historic York city churches. We’d like to secure the use of a chartered bus to take guests to and from each site, so hopefully we can make that happen.  This could be a fun event where we not only learn about the beautiful churches in York, but also enjoy a meal as a group in the downtown area.

Christ Lutheran Church postcard

Another exciting function we’re working on is one that would allow community members to share their York County collections with the public. It would be interested to see the types of items people have acquired over the years. Guest speakers could also be present to help educate the community about local history.

Preserving York display

Events and Fundraising

It would be great if a group like ours could be operated without worrying about finances and funding. Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world. Even though we have very few overhead costs besides fees for web space and domain name renewals, there are still some other financial aspects that need to be handled.

As mentioned in our October, 2014 story, “Preserving York and its Revival – A Story of Determination“, there are projects and events we would like to organize that require funding. We also have aspirations of acquiring a high-quality digital recorder for oral histories and a DSLR camera. Both would allow us to document the rich history of York County before we lose important stories and landmarks.


The anonymous note shown above was sent to the Friends of the Hoke House with a donation of $2.00. The widow who sent it felt that even though she couldn’t offer much, it would go to a good cause. She was right. A lot of people donating a little can quickly add up and take a group like the FOHH and even Preserving York a long way.

How do we plan to raise funds?

  • Preserving York Fundraising Yard Sale: York Countians are passionate about yard sales, and if you’ve ever stopped by an area flea market, there are hoards of people there looking for a good deal or an item for their collection. We’re asking the community to donate items that we can sell at our fundraising yard sale this which will help support Preserving York and it’s future plans. Volunteers will also be needed to help with the sale.
  • 100 Pounds for Preservation: This idea came to us as we watched college students working to raise money for their fundraiser. We’d like to place collection jars at area businesses where patrons can drop some loose change (paper money or checks work too) to help support our efforts. We won’t cash it in until we collect 100 pounds of loose change, which will be our goal. We feel this is a simple and fun way to raise funds, with an exciting finale after we see what we’ve raised.
  • Business donors and sponsors: We would also like to find area businesses with a love for York County and York City to step forward and become one of our sponsors. In return for their generosity, we are working on ways to bring their business to the attention of the community.
  • Individual donors: The community has always been our main area of financial support, and we’re extremely thankful for their kindness. They’ve been there for us in the past, and we know they’ll be there for us in the future.
  • Crowdfunding: There have been extremely successful online campaigns to raise funds where there were thousands of dollars donated by people across the country. Maybe this is something we could try.

A New Year to Preserve History

Preserving York has always been about the preservation of York County history, and we mean ALL aspects of its history. We’re determined to document properties and stories. We’re passionate about the preservation of area photographs, memorabilia, and ephemera. There is literally nothing in our minds that’s too small or trivial to save and preserve.

As an example, we were looking through the remnants of a local barn recently and found a discarded milk container from a local dairy, circa 1970s or so. It was in bad shape – nothing special – but to us it was worth saving.

Do we go overboard? Perhaps. Is it worth it in the long run? Absolutely.

If you are an individual and would like to make a donation or a business who would like to become a sponsor, I urge you to contact us. We can’t do it alone. We need your help and support.

Happy New Year to the entire York County community, and to those no longer living in the area. Let’s work together to make this a great year for all.

Blake Stough
Founder, Preserving York

Preserving York and its Revival – A Story of Determination

Have you ever had a time in your life when you tried to accomplish something but your heart, mind, and soul were all focused on other things? That’s where I’ve been for the past several months.

The hiatus of Preserving York…

In the final quarter of 2013 my life was facing major changes as I entered the early stages of divorce. Fear of the unknown, uncertainty, and doubt were only a few emotions that I faced on a daily basis. On top of that, my household was going from a two-income existence to only one income which caused additional stress. As time went on, I needed to make a decision that I regularly regret – I needed to step away from Preserving York and get my life back on track.

I was always lurking in the background to make sure things were running smoothly. Our Facebook discussion group continued to grow and although it typically ran smoothly, there were times when some moderation was needed. As personal finances became increasingly limited I chose to let Preserving York’s web space renewal lapse, thus losing all of its previous postings. I also chose to sell my Nikon DSLR camera equipment which was difficult to do, but it got me through some tough financial times. I didn’t tell anyone because in a sense, I was embarrassed and ashamed. My camera was an important part of my work with Preserving York, and now I use the camera on my phone which has many limitations.

Reincarnating a Dream…

My life has finally started to settle and I’m physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared to raise Preserving York from the ashes and place it back into the community where it belongs. The group – and I mean each and every one of you – has accomplished so much, but we still have so much more to do. Together as a team, there are no limits of what we can achieve.

There are costs involved in sustaining the group such as fees to renew web space and domain names, as well as history-related projects that could use our attention. It’s my goal to develop a plan to raise funds through a number of different means:

  • Individual donations
  • Business sponsorship
  • Fundraisers
  • Crowdfunding
  • The sale of York County historical memorabilia

To those who donated in the past, your generosity has not been forgotten and kept the group operational when I was unable to personally fund it.

In the future, I would also like to acquire a replacement DSLR camera to pick up the work where my other one left off. I would also like to add a quality digital audio recorder to the Preserving York arsenal, because recording oral histories given by residents of York County has been a dream of mine for a long time.

I’d like to offer my heartfelt gratitude to each and every person who supports Preserving York and its mission, which is to build community through York County’s rich and interesting history. We’ve succeeded in doing that in the past, and will continue well into the future.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for your continued support.

Blake Stough
Founder, Preserving York

And now, back to the history…

We’ll begin our journey with two pins that despite being small, have a story waiting to be discovered. Shown below, they measure 3/4 inches by 2 1/4 inches and are composed of an unknown metal. Slid inside of of each is a small piece of paper containing both typed and printed information. The typed text shows G.W. Graff and York while the handwriting shows Atlantic City, 1939 and 1941 respectively. On the lower left of the top pin is a faint, handwritten AGT.

Preserving York

G.W. Graff pins – Atlantic City – 1939 and 1941

The identity of G.W. Graff is a mystery, but we find a George W. Graff in 1940 United States Census records living at 318 Reineke Place in the city of York, Pennsylvania. He is listed as 44 years old and living with wife Ethel H. (age 41), daughter Vivian W. (age 21), son George H. (age 19). Also living in the household are in-laws William V. and Nellie K. Harner (ages 69 and 64).

In these records, George is shown as an agent for an insurance company.

There is also a G.W. Graff mentioned in the March 18, 1943 edition of The Gazette and Daily newspaper. The article references gas mask training for the “Defense Against The Use of Chemical Agents” given to Company I, First Regiment, Pennsylvania State Guard at the state armory. Captain Joseph Kling was in charge while Captain G.W. Graff, Executive Officer of the Gas Defense and Decontamination Unit was listed as assisting in the instruction.

Are both of these referencing the same man? Were the name tags for  Atlantic City conventions with insurance or military topics? The jury is still out, but I’ll keep hoping the answers will present themselves one day.


  1. Preserving York would like to organize history-themed tours and events as we did in the past. If you have suggestions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
  2. To help get the word out that Preserving York is back, we’d love for you to spread the word and share this story with others.
  3. Tweaks are still being made on the Preserving York website so please excuse any changes you see over the next few days and weeks.