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The York Dispatch's full archive, dating back to 1876, now available to public

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
The York Dispatch reported on the now-famous "Hex Murder" of Nelson D. Rehmeyer in the Nov. 30, 1928, edition of the newspaper.

The York Dispatch has reported a wealth of local news in its 143-year history, but until recently, the majority of the newspaper's archives had been relegated to microfilm.

That's no longer the case.

The full archives of The York Dispatch are now available to the public online at Newspapers.com, a service of Ancestry.com.

"It’s extremely important for researchers of local history and people doing genealogy here," said Nicole Smith, director of library and archives at the York County History Center.

The most valuable aspect of the digital archive, Smith said, is that users can conduct a keyword search within The York Dispatch's archives and bring up all pages and clippings containing that word or phrase.

Genealogy researchers can call up marriage notices, birth announcements, divorce listings and obituaries.

"In the past, you would have to know the day or the month and just scan through the entire paper," she said.

Readers can see the original reporting from sensational cases such as the "hex murder" of Nelson D. Rehmeyer, a North Hopewell Township man, in November 1928, and the subsequent trial of his killers.

John Blymyer, Wilbert Hess and John Curry were convicted of beating Rehmeyer to death and setting the body on fire to hide the evidence of the crime, according to reports in The York Dispatch. 

Blymyer, a practitioner of German folk magic and healing known as "pow-wow," reportedly believed that Rehmeyer had put a hex on him.

As sensational as the hex murder was, many of the old newspaper stories are the same as what you'd see if you picked up a recent edition of the paper.

On Jan. 6, 1920, the paper reported the Red Lion Borough Council's reorganization. And a story published Aug. 25, 1959, reported that students at Friendship Elementary School in Glen Rock should bring packed lunches because of a delay in the opening of the school cafeteria.

This story from Jan. 6, 1920, edition of The York Dispatch updates readers about the Red Lion Borough Council's reorganization meeting.

Astute readers in the late 1960s would have seen two reports of an unfortunate girl named Rosemary Belcher who lived in the 200 block of South Grantley Street in York City.

On Aug. 19, 1967, the 12-year-old Belcher was reportedly bitten by a dog, according to a short bulletin in the newspaper.

About two years later, on Dec. 30, 1969, The York Dispatch reported that Belcher, then 15, had once again been bitten by a dog, this time ending up in the hospital with 44 stitches on her scalp.

The newspaper reported that the dog belonged to a neighbor who lived a few doors down on South Grantley Street.

Patrick DeLany, editor of The York Dispatch, said this project has been a long time coming.

"Digitizing The York Dispatch’s archives has been a yearslong goal of ours, and we’re excited to see it finally come to fruition," DeLany said. "Now York County’s long history, documented over nearly 150 years in the pages of the Dispatch, is literally at our readers’ fingertips."

A subscription to Newspapers.com allows users to access the full archive for The York Dispatch and more than 15,000 other newspapers. A basic membership costs $7.95 per month or $44.95 for six months.

Alternatively, the York County History Center's library and research room is open to nonmembers for $8 a day, and this includes access to the history center's Newspapers.com account.