The following history of Chanceford Township is taken from the book: A History of Chanceford Township, York County, Pennsylvania 1747-1997, by Brogue Community Lions Club:

On the western bank of the beautiful Susquehanna River lie Chanceford and Lower Chanceford Townships, bordered on the west and south by Muddy Creek, and on the north by Beaver and Fishing Creeks. The origin of the name is a mystery. Tradition says the name means “take a CHANCE and FORD the river”. The late historian, Henry James Young, discovered that the English town Chelmsford in Essex was pronounced “Chenceford”. It seems probable that Chanceford is in fact named after Chelmsford, England, considering other townships like Windsor, York, Hellam and Manchester are also derived from English localities. Chanceford was first known in American history when the northern part of Lower Hellam Township took the name “Chanceford”.

Chanceford Township was established by authority of the Lancaster Court in 1747. It was originally part of Lower Hellam Township, which included the present townships of Chanceford, Lower Chanceford, Fawn and Peach Bottom.

Lower Chanceford Township and Felton Borough were originally part of the original Chanceford Township. Chanceford and Lower Chanceford Townships were separated by the York County Court on February 15, 1806. In early records after the division, the northern township was sometimes referred to as “Upper” Chanceford.

The early native American inhabitants of the area were known as Shenk’s Ferry People, who lived here perhaps as early as 1300 A.D, and it appears their ancestral roots were from the Potomac Valley. It is believed that around 1575 they were defeated by the Susquehannocks and were either absorbed or displaced by them.

The first group of Europeans to make permanent settlement in Chanceford Township was the Scotch-Irish. They were not a mixture of Scotch and Irish people as their name would imply, but were pure-blooded Scots who happened to live in Ireland for several generations before coming to America. The migration of the Scotch-Irish west of the river began about 1730 and increased rapidly after 1736, when the Indians sold their rights to this territory. The first settlers crossed mainly at Peach Bottom and McCall’s Ferry. By reason of feuds between the Germans and Scotch-Irish, the Proprietaries instructed their agents not to sell any more land in York County to Scotch-Irish.

The second group to settle in Chanceford Township was the Pennsylvania Germans. The Pennsylvania German settlers of Chanceford Township almost all lived in other areas before moving to Chanceford Township. The 1762 tax list of Chaceford Township contains less than 10 identifiable German names among the many Scotch-Irish. Many Pennsylvania Germans moved into Chanceford Township when many Scotch-Irish settlers moved to the west.

Schools

Chanceford Township One-Room Schools – Click on the hyperlink to be taken to the page with more information on many of the one-room schools that were in Chanceford Township

Communities

Brogue – Located at the juncture of five roads: Delta, York, Lucky, Muddy Creek and Canning House Road. Major John Finlay settled here about 1751 and built a tavern as early as 1758. Some have speculated that the tract was called “The Brogue” because the survey was roughly shaped like a shoe. The traditional story reported in county histories states that Brogue got its name when a traveler, seeing the house had no sign, hung up a wooden shoe, known as a brogan and said, “let that be the sign.” Hence the name, “The Brogue”.

Collinsville – Named for Alexander Collins who is said to have built the first house here. It was sometimes referred to as Chanceford, because the first post office in the township was located here from 1824 to 1914. One of the earliest settlers in the vicinity of Collinsville was David McKinley, ancestor of President William McKinley, who settled here in the 1740’s. David’s son John McKinley, operated a tavern about two and one-half miles from the Brogue from 1758 to 1778.

Churches

Guinston United Presbyterian Church – Located off Muddy Creek Road on Guinston Road. It was first organized in either 1753 or 1754 by Alexander Gellatly and Arnold Amolt. Guinston has been recognized as the oldest
United Presbyterian congregation in the United States. Early meetings were held in the home of Alexander Wallace. An early meeting house indicated on land surveys may have stood where Downies Graveyard is now located on Sechrist Road. On August 25, 1773, Rev. James Clarkson was installed as the first pastor. In November of that year the stone church which is still standing was erected on land purchased from James Cooper of Chester County.

St. Luke’s (Stehli’s) Lutheran and Reformed Church – Located on Burkholder Road, east of the community of New Bridgeville. Lutheran and German Reformed congregations were organized on August 15, 1772 in a local German school house. The founders of the church entered into an agreement “to build a common church on Jacob Stehli’s land, which church shall remain Reformed and Lutheran so long as sun and moon exist.” By December 1772, work was in progress on a log and plaster church building. The log church stood ninety-four years until 1866, when it was replaced by a brick structure, located east of the log building. In 1869, the Lutheran congregation purchased the rights of the German Reformed congregation for $300, after which the German Reformed congregation disbanded.

Bethel United Methodist Church – It was originally organized as Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church by Reverend James Ewing about the year 1828 in the stone house which was once the Grahamville Post Office. Some historical records indicate a class was organized as early as 1821 by Rev. John McKinley and Rev. Daniel Kline. On April 14, 1830 a deed was obtained for one acre and 36.8 perches of land at the present site. The original church building was destroyed by fire on March 14, 1874. A new and larger building was erected the following summer.

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