SEE ALSO: York County Archives running out of room

The scribe's elegant lines and loops belie the subject matter: Someone owed 50 bushels of rye and never paid for it.

A little later in the book, the scribe reports a defendant has died and never did pay the debt.

And so were the dramas as they unfolded in York County in 1757, according to an old Common Pleas docket found at the York County Archives.

The book, bound in weathered leather, is among the pampered old volumes kept at the archives. This one is so old, the plaintiff in each case is listed as "The King" because York was still part of England.

Though there are older books, with some dating back to York County's creation in 1749, this book is the favorite of 25-year-old archivist Amanda Donley. Its roughed-up appearance makes her feel it has earned a right; she likes "him" for "his" aesthetic, she said.

With a master's degree in archives and record management, she admits to uncommon passion for paper.

She loves the smell of the books and can discern them from each other using this sense. She said her "dorkiness freaks out" for the old styles of script and the stories they share.

"Like, here," she said, offering an age-stained page from a volume she pulled from a shelf. "This is just one sentence about Conrad Bott. It's just a snapshot, but we know what he was doing on May 7, 1769."


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Open to the public: Preserved for history, the old books and documents are open to the public for researching genealogy and other purposes. Papers are stored in acid-free folders after being unfolded and brushed clean of any dirt that might have accumulated.

The employees here don't lose their passion for preservation despite the overwhelming volume of paper they're trying to house, said archives director Christy Depew.

"We're like librarians around here," she said in a half-whisper. "We love paper. We love our records. They all tell stories."

That includes the old dog licenses, for which Donley explains her interest.

"They're not glamorous, but they're not a waste," she said, adding that nobody would realize "Major" was such a common name for a dog in the 1880s without them.

Other books provide endless fodder for fact-craving, curious people.

Those interested could pore through these papers and learn about 19th century York County Sheriff Lemon Love, whose name has made him the subject of fascination for the women working at the archives.

One can read about the 1857 estate sale of Henry Kauffman (no known relation to the author) in Windsor Township, noting Isaac Tyson paid 14 cents for a looking glass there.

One could also view the original plans for the 1906 York County Jail and see the trap door for hanging prisoners drawn right in the middle.

"It's all pretty fascinating," Depew said. "There isn't really a limit to what you could learn -- if you have the time -- about the way we used to do things."

-- Reach Christina Kauffman at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.