Dover Pennsylvania



Brookside Park

Brookside Park

Maureen App, my correspondent in Dover, Pennsylvania, tells me that her town is a, “wonderful place. We still have lots of agricultural land so rolling hills, cows and crops are common sights and we are conveniently located to several large cities.”

Situated in York County and with a population of 18,150 (2000 census), the large cities close to Dover, include: York, the home of the county government offices and main local employment, this includes the Harley-Davidson motorbike industry. Harrisburg, capital of Pennsylvania, 25 miles away; Baltimore, Maryland, 60 miles away; while both Philadelphia, and Washington, DC are 90 miles away, in different directions.

The first counties in Pennsylvania, known as Penn's Woods, were established in 1681 under a charter granted to William Penn by Charles II. Settlement initially occurred in the east until the conclusion of the Indian Treaty of 1736, when the limits of Lancaster County were extended westwards. By this time Pennsylvania had become the richest and most populous British colony in North America. The State was in the front line of the American Independence movement adopting the Declaration in July 1776.

What was to become Dover township began in the 1740s-50s when a man named Graves opened a hostelry for passing travellers. About 1764 Jacob Joner purchased 200 acres of land and laid out the town called Joner's Town which last until 1813. Then the US Mail established a post office and adopted the name of Dover. Apparently so called because of an unidentified person's nostalgia for Dover, England!

In 1901 the electric trolley reached Dover from the City of York, which was celebrated by an ox roast feast attended by some 2,000 people. A 32-acre woodland tract was used for the celebration, which was afterwards developed into a picnic area, renamed Brookside Park. This has remained even though the trolley service ceased in 1932.

Like Maureen, the people of Dover are proud of their township, so all new housing must conform to ordinances many of which, I feel, DTC may think of adopting! One such regulation requires that “weeds and grass may not exceed the height of twelve (12) inches and yards must not be cluttered with an excessive amount of rubbish, trash, debris or discarded items.”



Pennsylvanian farm

Pennsylvanian farm

In recent times this tolerant philosophy has led to a conflict with the US government regarding the teaching of biology in schools. In the US, as in the UK, external exams are standardised, and Darwin 's theory is accepted as the only theory of evolution. However the Dover School Board argued that children should be made aware that there was another theory, Intelligent Design which has it 's roots in Creation theory. Thus, before lessons on Darwin 's theory began, teachers use to read out a statement on 'Intelligent Design '.

In 2004 -5, the reading out of the statement was challenged through a Federal court, on the grounds that the school board had violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the US Constitution. However, the Judge, in a 139 page decision, found that the mandate was unconstitutional and barred Intelligent Design from being taught in state school science classrooms. Tolerance in Dover was not reflected at national level.

Thanks to Maureen App,
Geographic Information Systems Project Officer,
Dover Pennsylvania




beautifully embroidered Dover Fire Department badge

Madelyn Shermeyer, a respondent from Dover, Pennsylvania, sent a beautifully embroidered Dover Fire Department badge, part of which, it is believed, shows connections with Dover, England.

This is certainly true for at the centre of the badge is St Martin of Tours, the patron Saint of Dover, England.
St. Martin of Tours died on 11 November 397 and is usually depicted in the most famous incident of his life when he cut his cloak in half in order to give part of it to a beggar.

In the 7th Century after a victory in a battle attributed to St Martin's help, King Widred of Kent built a monastery in his honour on the west side of Market Square, in Dover, England. Rebuilt a number of times, the church was razed to the ground by the troops of William the Conqueror in 1066. Angry, William ordered another, much larger monastery, to be built and this was St Martin-le-Grand, which was so large and important that it embraced three separate parish churches within its walls.

However, during Henry VIII's Reformation the church was closed and finally destroyed in 1535. Most of the remains were removed in 1892. The last remnants, demolished in 1955, were incorporated into the front wall of the bank on the NatWest Bank in the Market Square.

The feast of St Martin, on 11 November, was Dover's Holy Day, or holiday, and initially lasted three days. About 1160 the fair received its Royal Charter and the popularity increased as did the number of days - to 10 ! However, in 1845, following pressure from local shopkeepers, Dover Corporation put an end to the annual festivity and the fair gradually ceased.