The Founding Story of Jefferson Borough, York Pennsylvania

Frederick Kraft (1776-1836) was the founder of Jefferson. He was a Baltimore native and is listed in the 1808 Baltimore directory as a tavern keeper. In 1812, this piece of land, now known as the town of Jefferson, was nothing more than a crossroads and had been used for half a century for the commercial trade between Baltimore and York. In fact, Codorus whiskey found its way to Baltimore markets by way of this route.

On February 1, 1812, Peter Hamm of Codorus Township sold the 23 acres of land that contained the crossroads to Kraft for $675.00. Kraft quickly established a tavern and store (which is no longer standing). It is assumed that he knew that a tavern, store, and important crossroads were standard ingredients in the founding of a new town. In 1814 Kraft hired John L. Hinkle (1781-1846), a Hanover surveyor, to lay out a town on the crossroads.

Frederick Kraft named the town for Thomas Jefferson because of the strong Democratic ties of the residents. In 1828 a post office was established in the town.  However, the name Jefferson was already taken by a town in Greene County near Pittsburg.  The new post office in Jefferson, York County took the name of Codorus Post Office, after the township in which it resides.  The name of the town remained Jefferson while the Post Office was called Codorus.  In 1866 the town grew to a point where it was incorporated into the Borough of Jefferson.  Both names remain to this day. 

Kraft spent the last 22 years of his life in Jefferson and died in July of 1836.