Meet Ken Conaway, a former York County resident who contacted me not long ago about a unique York Fair item that he found 40 years ago. Passionate about local history, he found Preserving York and enjoys learning new aspects of local history.
Now living in Arizona, the 1969 West York graduate made the discovery while removing wainscot from an old farmhouse in the early ’70s. A small opening between the wood and wall plaster had captured items that had fallen including coins, combs, and a few old postcards that were probably a feast for hungry silverfish.
One special piece would be cherished by Ken for several decades.
Ye Grand Old York Fair
Found in that small opening was a unique York Fair calendar card from 1913. During that year the fair ran from October 6 – 10 and was labeled as the “LARGEST 25¢ FAIR IN AMERICA“.
My, how times have changed.
Now this isn’t your typical advertising card made of heavier paper. This piece is actually made of very thin metal and is the same size as a typical business card. I checked to see if the card was attracted to a magnet, which it isn’t, so it’s possibly composed of aluminum or some other non-magnetic metal.
Ken has been trying to learn more about this piece with little luck. He was told it might have been given to life members of the York Fair, but that hasn’t been confirmed.
The Mundorf connection…
Found in very fine print is the name of the person who created this card, Chas. M. Mundorf of York PA. Over the years his occupation has been listed as a printer, advertising novelties, and manufacturing (lithograph).
Charles was born in the 1860s and appears to have lived in the city of York for his entire life. He was married to Edith and together they had at least two daughters, Grace and Frances.
We are able to track the whereabouts of the family through the use of various records. A listing of residential addresses are shown below, but I can’t be certain if any of them were also used for the business, except for the 1904 address which has been confirmed.
- 1900: 48 South Pine Street, York (U.S. Federal Census)
- 1903: 159 South Pine Street (1903 City of York Atlas)
- 1904: 159 South Pine Street (Bedford Gazette newspaper)
- 1910: 822 South George Street (U.S. Federal Census
- 1920: 822 South George Street (U.S. Federal Census)
- 1930: Charles died during this year.
Charles is also listed in the Typographical Journal, Volume 27 which was published in 1905. In the listing it states that Charles S. Day, age 21, was “at trade 7 years, learned the trade in the office of Charles M. Mundorf, York, PA“.
Regular readers may remember a story I wrote about a painted banner from the Shady Dell stand at the York Fair. That was created by John Mundorf, who was likely a relative of Charles.
It was evident while exchanging emails with Ken that this card means a great deal to him. I truly respect his feelings, and admit I have pieces in my own collection that I feel the same way about.
Ken’s wish is to share this piece of history with others who will enjoy it as much as he has over the past 40 years. Learning more about Preserving York, Ken offered the card with one simple request: display the century-old item at the 2013 York Fair and make sure he receives a photograph of it with any ribbons it receives.
It would be an honor to do that for you Ken, and to share it with the thousands of visitors who view the displays each and every year of the York Fair.
- At the time this story was published the Preserving York group on Facebook is nearing 300 members. Who will be the next person to join?