Taken From the History of the counties of Berks and Lebanon : Rupp, I. Daniel. Lancaster, Pa.. G. Hills.
Pages 302 to 322
Lebanon county was formed from parts of the counties of Dauphin and Lancaster, by an act of Assembly, passed February 16, 1813. Its present limits are as follows: It is bounded on the north-east by Berks and Schuylkill counties, on the south-east by Lancaster, on the south-west and north-west by Dauphin; length and breadth, seventeen miles - containing two hundred and eighty-eight square miles - being a little more than one-fourth the superficial area of Berks county.
Though Lebanon is small, yet it is one of the finest counties in the State of Pennsylvania. It forms a part of the great transition formation, lying chiefly between the south mountain and Kitlatiny range. "It is distinguished for the fertility of its soil, and the value of its agricultural productions. The limestone land is generally considered the best; but in the calcareous portions of the slate formation, there are many excellent and highly productive farms" (C. B. Trego's Geo. of Pa., pg. 274).
The greater proportion of the original settlers of this part of Pennsylvania, was German, except the Western and North-Western part of Lebanon county, Londonderry township, which was originally settled by Scotch and Iris, whose descendants however, have nearly all disappeared, and given place to the present industrious, frugal and thrifty German population.
The history of the early settlements and Indian massacres, is so completed merged with the history of Berks, that little of interest, separately considered, remains to be noticed. Beside, but little has been preserved, by record or tradition, of the early history of the portion embraced within the present limits of Lebanon county. What has been preserved, and what has been gleamed, is, however, of an authentic character. The best sources have been resorted to.
Lebanon Township was, till 1739, a large township, when in May of that year, the Court of Lancaster, ordered that Bethel township be erected, which was then bounded as follows: -
"That the division line begin at Swatara creek, at a stony ridge, about a half mile below John Tittle's, and continuing along the said ridge easterly to Tolpehocken township, to the northward of Tobias Pickles, so as to leave John Benaugle, Adam Steel, Thomas Ewersly and Mathias Tise, to the southward of the said line; that the northernmost division be named, and called Bethel - the southern division continue the name Lebanon.
When Berks county was erected the greater part of Bethel was included by and separated with that county.
Lebanon township was first settled by Germans; many of whose descendants are still the owners of their ancestor's first warranted lands. The first settlers of the county were some families of the Tulpehocken settlements, in the western part of it - now within the eastern limits of Lebanon. These have been noticed before.
The rude huts, erected and occupied by these and other first settlers, have long since perished, and in their stead, others were erected, and these in their turn are superseded by others of more durable materials, and more commodious. Where the scrub oaks stood thick, there are now highly improved farms, fertile fields, and smiling gardens. The persevering efforts of the husbandman are richly crowned.
The first settlers, for the want of better ones, had to help themselves, as well as they could, with simple and rude utensils, furniture, fixtures, both culinary and agricultural; their accommodations and comforts were agrestical. Wide contrast - instead of puncheon floors, carpets deck smooth plained ones.
One instance - hundreds might be given - of the first settlers in this township will be noticed. The writer's father's maternal grandfather, Michael Burst, a Palatine, on arriving in Philadelphia in 1729, wended his course by Manatawny and Tulpehocken, westward some seventy-five miles into the wilderness, from the town of Philadelphia, squatted among the Indians, on a tract of land two miles north-west from the present site of the town of Lebanon. The farm is now owned by Joseph Light, near Lebanon.
Burst's nearest white neighbors were the Noacres and Spykers, and others, who had settled in 1723 to 1729, at the West End of the Tulehocken settlement. To answer his wants, he erected a cabin or hut - not unlike the shanties put up by the Iris a few years ago, near the same place, when excavating the canal.
When Michael Burst, or Boarst, left Germany for America, he was accompanied by rising of seventy Palatine families, making in all about one hundred and eighty persons. They were imported in the ship Mortonhouse, James Coultas, master, from Rotterdam, but last from Deal, as by clearance thence dated, 21st of June 1729. They arrived in August, and signed the following declaration the 19th of August
"We, subscribers, natives and late inhabitants of the Palatinate upon the Rhine, and places adjacent, having transported ourselves and families into this Province of Pennsylvania, a colony subject to the crown of Great Britain, in hopes and expectation of finding a retreat and peaceable settlement therein, do solemnly promise and engage, that we will be faithful, and bear true allegiance to his present Majesty, King George the Second, and his successor, King of Great Britain, and will be faithful to the Proprietor of this Province; and that we will demean ourselves peaceably to all his said Majesty's subjects, and, strictly observe and conform to the laws of England, and of the Province, to the utmost of our power, and best of our understanding."
Among others who sailed in the same ship, were the following: Jon Philip Rank, John Miller, Michael Urelick, Jacob Bowman, Dirick Adam Weidle, John Rice, Christopher Bumgarner, Johannes Orde, Jacob Fetter, Jacob Eshelman, Christopher Fry, Jacob Over, David Mantandon, Martin Alstadtant, Adam Schambach, Valentine Fikus, Conrad Killinor, Johannes Brinkler, Casper Dorest.
The region of country in which he located was previously known among the Indians as "Quitopahecta," i.e., Snake Harbor; for Burst's first work, in the morning, was, to kill snakes, in and outside of the hut. For the want of earthen ware, they used gourds or calabashes, as drinking cups and for "milk pans."
Burst's location formed a kind of nucleus for a more dense and extended settlement. George Steitz soon followed Burst, and located south-east from him, on the Quitopahila creek. The greater proportion of land between Steitz's and Burst's, was located by Casper Wiester, the brass button-maker (and son-in-law of Mr. Zimmerman, of Lancaster county) who sold several hundred acres, in 1738, to John Licht, grandfather of Joseph Licht, or as now spelt - Light. The Deed describes the southern boundary of this farm, "South by George Steitz's settlement," &c.
Among others who settled in and about Burst's and Steitz's besides Licht, at this period, were Peter Keucher, Martin Meylin, Henrich Klein, John Adam Kettring, John George Hederick, Jacob Rieger, Anastatius Uhler. Though many of them commenced with small means, they acquired so much of this world's goods, as to render them not only comfortable, but many grew rich. From the subjoined inventory of goods and chattels, the property of Michael Burst, deceased (*Michael Burst died in 1741. The widow, Barbara Burst, administered, entered into bond, to faithfully execute her trust. Her sureties were George Steitz and Amatatius Uhler. Bond entered at Lancaster, Nov. 3, 1741) it will be seen that he was well calculated to settle a new country. It is evident he had all the necessaries to get along, and help his neighbors.
This part of the county being the garden spot, soon a large number of families, Mennonites and others, settled thick around here. The massive three story house, with a "hipped roof," erected by John Licht in 1742, was a regular monthly meeting place, where the Mennonites met for worship. The Moravians also had a house of worship erected prior to 1743, hard by the Quitopahila, a mile east of the present site of Lebanon, and a few hundred yards north from the stone Oratorium, which was built in 1750.
The Moravian communion was considerable. In 1748, they held a synod for the transaction of Ecclesiastical business in the wooden building, on the banks of Quitopahila. Loskial says:
"Soon after Bishop Cammerhol's return from Shamokin, a synod was held in Quitopahila; in which the mission among the Indians was considered with much attention, and the following principles reviewed and approved:
1. The Brethren do not think, that they are called to baptize whole nations; for it is more to the purpose, to gain one converted soul, than to persuade many to take merely the name and outward form of Christianity.
2. We are not discouraged by the dangers and hardships attending the labor among the heathens, but always bear in remembrance, that our Lord endured distress and death itself, to gain salvation for us, and rested not till the great work was finished. If, after the most strenuous exertions of soul and body, one soul is gained for Christ, we have an ample reward.
3. We will continue to preach nothing to the heathen but Jesus, and him crucified, repeating the same testimony of his gospel, till the hearts of the heathen are awakened to believe; being fully convinced, that the power of the cross is the word of God, which is along able to bring souls from darkness into light.
4. The missionaries should never reject any heathen, nor even the most abandoned and profligate, but consider them as persons, to whom the grace of Jesus Christ ought to be offered." Loskiel, P. II, p. 18, 109.
The names of the principal families connected with the Hebron station, or Quitopahila church were Kuecher, Meylin, Klein, Kettring, Hederick, Rieger, Huber, Rathforn, Wagner, Waschebach, Olinger, Schmal, George, Teis, Trachsler, Rewald, Mies, Urich, Danneberger, Heckedorn, Christman, Struebig, Stoeher, Etter, German, Orth.
1750 Tax List Lebanon Township
Lebanon township contained in 1750, nearly one hundred and thirty taxables, as appears from the Tax Duplicate. Adam Ulrich was collector for that year. Their names have been preserved, and are as follows:
Jacob Steiner Ulrich Burholder Robert Boyd, John Espy, Jacob Helenger, George Berger, John Schnog, Michael Boarst, Benjamin Brechbill, Jacob Maron, Joseph Gingerich, Christian Neave, Michael Gingerich, George Miller, Ulrich Zollinger, Nicholas Huber, Peter Smith, Wollerich Steiner, Baltsar Road, Peter Witmer, Martin Miley, Felix Landis, Henry Bowman, John Gerber, Jacob Stoufler, Peter Gingerich, John Heisey, George Hetterick, Michael Holt, John Adam Schneider, Oswald Neis, George Strohm, Jacob Woolf, Andrew Wild, William Burgholder, Abraham Witman, George Peters, Leonard Young, John Helams, Christian Better, Harman Egel, Daniel Seiler, Abraham Corman, Michael Wambler, Jacob Dietz, Jacob Meyers, Nicholas Neig, Jacob Hubman, Michael Schuneher, Adam Wenrich, Mathew Strawer, Henry Sanders, John Schalley, Phillip Park, Jonathan Heid, Palph Whiteside, John Troxel, Casper Lieper, John Licht, sen., George Elliger, Thomas Hammersly, John Hallenbach, Leonard Umberger, Thomas Clarke, John Clarke, Michael Polter, John McClintick, Richard Robertson, Peter Gingerich, Jacob Geremor, Philip Byers, John Brechtbill, Christopher Simonus, John Bernwalt, Henry Smith, Jacob Bian, Adam Bog, John Kreider, Henry Little, Jacob Graf, Christain Kreider, Christopher Myers, Jacob Hersberger, John Dewalt, Martin Hoof, Peter Woolf, Philip Ologer, Robert Warner, Conrad Braun, Adam Wolert, John Schwob, George Schitz, Martin Hostetter, Geo. Huber, John Whitmore, Peter Hailman, Peter Yoder, Christian Long, Peter Yerte, Nicholas Erb, Nicholas Ellenberger, John Myers, Benjamin Noll, Jacob Freely, Adam Brand, Michael Teis, Philip Schneffer, Henry Waschenbach, John Stobler, Thielman Waschenbach, Warner Fuller, John Licht, Michael Wagoner, Francis Reynolds, John Egesohn, Charles Schally, Christopher Meyer, Andrew Miller, Peter Ebersohl, Michael Bachman.
1755 Tax List - Lebanon Township
That the increase of population was constant will appear on comparing the names of the taxables of the above list with the names that follows, for 1755:
Philip Sheffer, Jacob Sheffer, Michael Tyee, Adam Brand, Adam Brand jr., John Brand, Abraham Smutz, Baniel Higendorn, Peter Kucher, George Hettrick, Jno. Light, jr., Jacob Light, John Light, sen., George Steitz, John Miller, Peter Slosser, Herman Orendorff, John Seiler, Martin Hoff, Adam Weibel, Jacob Zolicker, John Schultz, Michael Singer, Henry Ushenbach, Jacob Gerberling, Christopher Miller, John Adam Reiwein, Conrad Zeigler, Jacob Schwobe, John Adam Miller, Conrad Wide, Herman Ecket, John Atkinson, Jacob Creesman, Jacob Blaser, Michael Stegbed, John Kemmerling, Bartholomaus Kuntzelman Lenhart Umberger, Anastasium Uhler, Michael Wagner, Philip Meeshy, William Blegher, Peter Wolf, Nicholas Ackerman, Jacob Heger, Dietrich Weitzel, Christ. Brenzer, Henry Ehler, Menard Sebold, Geo. Elinger, Jacob Graff, Adam Bough, Christian Kreiter, Martin Kreiter, John Kreiter, Henry Little, Christopher Mier, Felix Landis, Henry Bowman, Henry Smith, Jacob Giles, John Gerber, Philip Star, Conrad Brown, Jacob Stouffer, Peter Gingerich, Michael Gingerich, Jost Gingerich, John Hiesey, Michael Horst, Jacob Meyer, Adam Nicodemus, Geo. Diehl, Oswal Neave, Dorst Thomas, Christian Strohm, Jacob Schook, John Becher, Geo. Glossbrenner, Geo. Huber, Philip Clinger, John Haushalter, John Dinius, Adam Steger, Martin Illy, Jacob Graff, jr., John Gamber, Ralph Whiteside, Joseph Espy, Charles Shally, Michael Bachman, Christian Burkholder, John Ebersohl, Michael Boor, Abraham Heit, Michael Boltz, Philip Rudesill, Jacob Frolick, Ludwick Shally, Geo. Berger, John Snook, Gerhard Etter, Michael Zimmerman, Christian Blouch, Benj. Knall, Geo. Dietrick, John Brechbill, Dewalt Lichty, Daniel Resor, Philip Byer, Michael Fernsler, Hans Ulrich Huber, Frederick Kaufman, Nicholas Ellingberger, John Wilhelm, Peter Frank, John Ellenberger, Nicholas Erb, Geo. Hopengortner, Peter Eschelman, Christian Long, John Doner, Henry Xander, Peter Witmer, Casper Weaver, John Bachman, Ulrich Burkholder, Conrad Mintziger, Jacob Benedict, Mathias Boger, Henry Frick, Michael Wampler, Jacob Brenizer, Christian Miller, Jacob Horschberger, Delman Klein, Jacob Wolf, Jacob Killinger, Jacob Beam, Peter Reise, Michael henry, Michael Kinnert, Casper Seller, Peter Schweigert, Mathias Strayer, Christian Neave, John Huber, Richard Crain, Geo. Mintzer, Michael Ulerich, Ulrich Stephan, Martin Kerstetor, Adam Ulrich, Henry Humberger, Thomas Clark, John Clark, Adam Steer, Henry Peter, Peter Yorty, Martin Mily, Adam Hailman, Abraham Kornman, Peter Hailman, Rudolph Miller, Peter Smith, Christian Herschberger Nicholas Neu, Richard Robison, John Spiger, Andrew Weitz, Peter Kremer, John Siegrist, Michael Boltz, Daniel Seiber Abraham Weidman, John McClintock, Ulrich Wampler, George Crusman, Henry Smith, Henry Bowman.
The City of Lebanon
Lebanon, the county seat, is in this township; little, however, of its early history has been preserved. There is a diversity of opinion, even as to the time when it was laid out. According to Robert Proud, who wrote History of the Province between 1760 and 1773, "Lebanon was laid out about the year 1759; and in 1772, it is said to contain above two hundred good dwelling houses, many of them large and well built of stone, dug out of the ground where the houses stand, and principally inhabited by Germans."
Another writer, Rev. George Lochman, D. D. whose opportunities for research were favorable, and whose statement is worthy if credit says "Diese Stadt, Lebanon, ist im Jahr, 1756, von George Steitz ausgelegt worden, und legit an dam Fluss Quitopakilla (ein Indianischer Name, der auf Deutch, Schlungenloch heist)."
An eastern gentleman, S. Day, says "Lebanon or Steitzetown as it was for a long time called, and still by many of the old Germans was probably laid out about the year 1750, by one Steitze." Touching Day's statement, it might, passing, be remarked, that there is nothing problematical as to the town being laid out. No German seems to doubt this. All agree it was laid out. As to the time when, there is some difference of opinion. As to this, there is some "guessing."
The late Col. Adam Ritscher's father, was, says Day, one of the first settlers, and paid ground rent, as appears by receipts still extant, as early as 1751 (1761?) He cleared the lot west of the one upon which his son Adam lived, from the forest then standing.
During the French and Indian war, this place being then already densely settled, was resorted to, as a place of safety, by hundreds of families, who fled from the frontier settlements, to escape being murdered by the barbarous savages, whose cruelty knew no bounds - they were insatiable. Sixty families had, at one time, taken shelter in the house of John Light, which is still standing, and known among the people there, as the "Old Fort."
The house of Mr. George Gloninger was also a place of usual resort. Besides these, and some other private houses, the Moravian church, erected in 1750, a mile and half east of Gloninger's, was occupied by refugees, the principal part of whom had fled from the Moravian settlements in Bethel township. Loskiel, alluding to this fact, says "the savages continued to commit murders in Allemaengel - and a lance lost by them on the road, proved them to be some of the very people who attended the Congress (treaty) at Easton". Roving parties infested the borders of the country, the public roads, and all other places in which they found no resistance, so that the small colonies of brethren settled in Allemaengel and Bethel, on Swatara, who had held out with uncommon patience, were at last obliged to take refuge, the former in Bethlehem, and the latter in Lebanon - this was in 1756. Some of them soon returned again to their farms, and not a few of them were surprised by the Indians and cruelly murdered. One John Spitler, son-in-law to Jacob Meylin, who was the grandfather of Martin Meylin, of Jonestown, was shot dead while fixing up a pair of bars - his body cruelly mangled. Mrs. Miley escaped by taking refuge in the watch-house, at her father's, a few miles from Stumptown. This happened in May 1757. Spittler's mangled corpse was interred in the grave-yard at Hebron, near Lebanon.
The following, touching the murder of Spittler, is found in the Records of the Hebron Church. "1751, May den 16, werde Johannes Spitler, jr., ohnweit von scinem Hause an der Schwatara von moerderischen Indianern ueberfallen und ermordert. Er war im acht und dreisigsten Jarh seines Alters, und verwichenes jarh in April, an der Schwatara auf genommen. Seine uebelzugerichitete Leiche wurde den 17ten May hieher Gebracht, und bei einer grossen Menge Leute begleitet auf unsern hiesigen Gotes-acker bierdigt."
During the Revolutionary war of '76, many of the residents of this place, a few of whom are still living, took up arms in common with many of their fellow patriots, in defense of American liberty, and were engaged in the battle of Trenton, N. Jersey, December 25, 1776, when the Hessians were routed with great slaughter, and one thousand of them taken prisoners, and not a few of them taken to Reading, and to Lebanon, where they were confined in the old Lutheran Church in town, and the Moravian Church below town. Some of the citizens of Lebanon also took part in the battle at Germantown, October 4th, 1777. They constituted a portion of the Pennsylvania militia, three thousand strong, under the command of General Armstrong, whose march on this occasion, it is said, is enrapt in mystery. "Some reports say, that he actually engaged the Hessian divisions of the enemy, others state that the alarm of the Americans retreating from Mr. Chew's stone house reached his ear, as the vanguard of his command entered Germantown, near the market house, and commenced firing upon the chasseurs who flanked the left wing of the British army." But to return to the county town. In 1840, the following pensioners were still living in the borough: George Hess, aged 79 years; Andrew Hoover, 75; Dilman Daup, 81; M. Weaver, 75 years old.
Lebanon, so called after the county, which was so names, as some suppose , in allusion to the Lebanon of the Scripture, a famous range of mountains in the north of Canaan, is pleasantly situated on a branch of Quitopahela creek, twenty miles from the Capitol, and seventy-five miles from the metropolis of the State, on the turnpike; and contiguous to the Union Canal. It is well laid out, and regularly built - the buildings are principally of stone, or brick, and generally commodious, though there are but few large buildings in it, except the court house, which is a spacious and splendid edifice of brick, surmounted by a cupola. The county officers are in this building. In the area, in the center of the borough is a market house. There is, as a necessary indispensable, a jail, but, of late, it has had only a few inmates. There are in the borough proper, which was incorporated Feb. 20, 1821, about three hundred dwellings, some ten or more taverns, and a like number of stores, one grist mill, one clover mill, a foundry, and many mechanics shops.
There are in this place a number of churches - the Lutheran, which was erected in 1798, and dedicated the 3d of June - it is built of stone, with a large steeple. In 1808 it was supplied with an organ. The Lutherans had, previously, a log church, erected in 1766. Prior to that time, a congregation had been organized - they had held their meetings in a private house, rented for that purpose.
The German Reformed church, was erected of stone about the year 1787, and is at present undergoing some alterations. A Catholic chapel of brick; a Methodist meeting house of brick; one owned by the Evangelical Association; a United Brethren Church; a Mennonite meeting house are here. At present here is another Lutheran Church building under the pastoral care of Rev. J. Rothrauf.
The respective pastors of these churches are the Rev. Ernst, of the Lutheran congregation, who officiates in German; Rev. Rothrauf, in English. The Lutherans number rising of four hundred members. The Rev. Henry Wagner is the pastor of the German reformed church - this congregation numbers between two hundred and fifty, and three hundred members. The Evangelical Association has upwards of one hundred members - the Rev. Greenbank has the pastoral charge of this congregation. Rev. Steinbach officiates in the Catholic chapel; number of members about eighty. The United Brethren number probably twenty members.
There are five Sabbath Schools here, and all well attended; numbering between 500 and 600 children. The Borough contains 404 families, and an adult population of 1092. The entire population, by the census of 1840, was, of the borough proper, 1860.
The Union canal passes contiguous to the borough, affording great facilities to business, where the bustling, neat village of North Lebanon is growing up beautifully and rapidly. It will outgrow Lebanon proper.
The means of education are favorable. There is a fine academy here, and ably conducted by Mr. Kinge, whose efficient system of instruction cannot be too highly appreciated. Page 313 Has been said that he is not sufficiently encouraged, because the importance of a proper education of youth, and its influence upon the habits and character, in after life, do not seem to be well considered. This is to be much regretted. The academy contains between thirty and forty scholars. It was incorporated in 1816, to which the State made a donation of $2000. There is also a female seminary here, and it is said to be well conducted. All the young ladies in town and country should attend it. Where the acquisition of wealth is appreciated and trade understood, a bank would be deemed necessary - such an institution is here - it is judiciously managed. The inhabitants are nearly all German, who usually, in addressing a stranger, speak in their vernacular tongue, though nearly all can speak some English. They are hospitable, frugal and industrious; many of them own out lots, and may be seen at work, in summer, barefooted.
There are several newspapers published here - of these some account is given when speaking of the "Press." Near the town is a stationary steam engine, by which water is raised from the Quitopahila and conducted to the canal!!
The original boundaries of Lebanon township have, by reducing and dividing it, since its erection, June 9th, 1729, been materially changed. In 1729, its boundaries were thus defined: "Lebanon township beginning under the aforesaid hill (I. E. the Kehtotaning hill, above Peter Allen's) at the north-east corner of Peshtank, thence by the said hill, easterly, to the Tolpehocken manor, thence southerly by the said line, to the hills bounding Warwick township, thence by the said hills and township, westerly, to the corner of Derry, on Conewago, thence northerly by Derry and Peshtank, to the place of beginning."
In 1739 it was reduced by erecting Bethel township. In 1830, it was bounded as follows: - but since, divided into North and South Lebanon - on the north, by Swatara and Bethel townships; east by Jackson and Heidelberg townships; south by Lancaster county, and west by Londonderry and Annville townships. Greatest length, eleven miles; greatest breadth, seven miles - containing 44, 700 acres of first rate land - surface very level, and principally limestone soil. The improvements Page 314 are of first rate order. There are many fine buildings in this township.
North and South Lebanon are well watered. The Quitopahila creek, a beautiful, fine stream, flows through the borough of Lebanon, and in its course propels several mills. The Union Canal and Reading and Harrisburg turnpike pass through North Lebanon township. Iron ore is found in abundance - in South Lebanon, in the Conewago hills, and in the south part of this township. Cornwall Furnace, erected at the head of Furnace creek, is supplied with ore from these mines. The furnace is owned by (?) D. Coleman. The streams are the head of Tulpehocken, Hammer creek, Kuder creek, Meadow run, and head of Conewago creek.
North and South Lebanon, in 1840, contained seventeen stores, three lumber yards, eight grist mills, five tanneries, three distilleries, two breweries, three potteries, four printing offices, three weekly papers and one periodical, one academy - fifty
Students, eleven schools - four hundred and twenty scholars. Population in 1830; 3,556; in 1840, 6,197. Tax valuation for North Lebanon is 1844 $569,465; county tax, $854 20. South Lebanon, $1,238,750; county tax, $1,858 13.
Bethel township was part of Lebanon township till May 1739, when it was separated, by an order of Court, at Lancaster. It was divided, and bounded as follows, viz:
"That the division line begin at Swatara creek, at a stony ridge, about half a mile below John Tittle's, and continuing along the said ridge, easterly, to Tolpehocken township, to the northward of Tobias Pickel's, so as, in the course, to leave John Benaugle, Adam Steel, Thomas Ewersly and Mathias Tise, to the southward of the line - that the northernmost division be named and called Bethel - the southern division continue the name Lebanon." Bethel, then embraced, also, what is now Swatara township and part of Union.
When Berks county was erected, in 1752, part of this township was separated and included within the limits of that county. It was, no doubt, so called after a colony of Moravians Page 315 who had a small establishment on the Swatara, in this township, called Bethel - the literal import of the term, is "the house of God." The Moravian colony, formed here, was one among their first in Pennsylvania. In 1737, Mr. Spangenberger, a Moravian missionary, having fulfilled his appointment in establishing the mission in Georgia, came to Pennsylvania, where he remained for some time, and thence to St. Thomas, one of the West India islands, to hold a visitation in that mission. He then returned, and remained in Pennsylvania till 1739. Through him, it is said, the United Brethren were made attentive to other Indian nations, especially the Iroquois, or Six Nations. Mr. Spangenberger received the first notice of them from Conrad Weiser, justice of the peace, and interpreter to the government in Pennsylvania.
They erected a church here about 1740. The Rev. Johannes Brand Mueller officiated here, about the year 1744. The names of their members are still preserved - a few of them we were permitted, by the politeness of the Rev. Henry Francis Simon, their present pastor at Hebron, near Lebanon, to copy from the "Schwaterer Kirchen Buch, containing Ein Verzeichniss der Brueder der Gemeine und deren Kindern welche won den Breudern sid Gefauft worden von April Anne 1743"
Among their first members here, were Rudolph Hauck, Jacob Dueps, Wilhelm Fischer, Ludwig Born, Johan Frederich Weiser, Christian Bimmer, George Miesse, Jacob Gausser, Thomas Williams, Eranz Albert, Jacob Haentchy, Daniel Born, Michael Kohr, Johannes Spitler, Bernhard Faber, Casper Korr.
This township was originally, nearly wholly settled by Germans and some French Huguenots; of the latter, was Franz Albert, a native of Deux-ponts, born in 1719, July 20, and who came to this country when a young man, and was afterwards cruelly murdered by the Indians, June 26, 1756. As early as 1751, the following taxables resides in this township:
1751 Tax List - Bethel Township
John Ebrecht, James Muenees, David Fischer, Jacob Mire, Mathias Grey, Mr.Folk, Edmund Schnebly, John Schnebly, John Reynolds, John King, Abraham Stettler, Jacob Miley, Urbin Long, Peter Groff, Han Nickle Guest, Dewalt Garst, Philip Wolf, Rudy Huntsecker, Widow Gray, Widow Brechtbill, Casper Sherrick, Jacob Oberholtzer, Henry Wagoner, Henry Dubs, Henry Souter, Peter Kenny, Christain Leaman, Peter Clop, Adam Berger, Abraham Hubbler, Wendel Heyl, Barned Boughs, Jacob Weaver, Killian Long, Christian Long, Jacob Schnebly, Jno. Kenagy, Dewald Nabinger, Abraham Grove, Jacob Wagnoner, Adam Snider, Jacob Miller, Jacob Carner, Nicholas Benner, Casper Hisler, Frederick Tibbin, Jno. Bickle, Henry Bohn, Henry Mark, Isaac Schnelby, Henry Miess, Nicholas Wirrigh, Martin Kemmerling, Ludwig Waiten, Andrew Hollo, Christian Lantz, Adam Kline, Christain Leaman, John Mish, Frederick Rudy, Peter Forster, Jacob Goldman, Joseph Stout, Wm. Jones, Samuel Stout, Andrew Kaufman, Conrad Gerhart, Valentine Gerhart, John Wingerd, Henry Schnebly, Henry Stiegle, Ulrich Yeakle, Valentine Kiefer, Peter Gray, John Bop, Philip Creesman, Thos. Mottern, George Fredrick, Anythony Nagle, Casper Stover, jr., Isaiah Casaway, Peter Smith, Thomas Mayberre, Jacob Albert, Daniel Schuhy, Ludwick Shuhy, Michael Frantz, Mathias Loser, Conrad Lor, Gotlieb Torrom, Nicholas Schonty.
During the French and Indian war, notwithstanding, there was a line of provincial forts extending along the frontiers of Dauphin, Lebanon and Berks counties, intended as defenses against the incursions of the savages, and as places of security, many of the inhabitants of this part of the country were most cruelly murdered, their houses burnt, their children taken captive. In November, 1755, twenty persons were killed, and some children carried off by the Indians. "Shocking," says the Secretary of the Province, in his statement to the Assembly, "are the descriptions given, by those who escaped, of the horrid cruelties and indecencies, committed by the merciless savages, on the bodies of those unhappy wretches, who fell into the hands, especially the women, without regard to age or sex, these far exceeds those related of the most abandoned pirates."
In June 1756, the Indians again appeared in this township, and committed, in cold blood, cruel and deliberate murder. On the 8th of June, in the afternoon, between three and four o'clock, four or five Indians made an incursion, at a place called "The Hole," where the Great Swatara runs through the Blue mountain - they crept up, unobserved, behind the fence of Felix Wueneh, shot him, as he was ploughing, through the breast - he cried lamentably, and run, but the Indians soon came up with him; he defended himself some time with his whip - they cut his head and breast with their tomahawks, and scalped him. His wife heard his cries, and the report of two guns - ran out of the house, but was soon taken by the enemy, who carried her, with one of her own and tow of her sister's children away with them, after setting the house on fire and otherwise destroying property.
A servant by, who was at some distance, seeing this, ran to his neighbor, George Miess, though he had a bad leg, with his son, ran directly after the Indians, and raised a great noise, which so frightened the Indians, and raised a great noise, which so frightened the Indians, that they immediately took to their heels, and in their flight left a tub of butter, and a side of bacon, behind them. Mr. Miesse then went to the house, which was in flames, and threw down the fences, in order to save the barn. The Indians had drunk all the brandy in the spring house, and took several gammons, a quantity of meal, some loaves of bread, and a great many other things with them.
Had Mr. Miess not been so courageous, they probably would have attacked another house. They shot one of the horses in the plough, and dropped a large French knife.
Shortly after committing the above mentioned murder, the Indians killed a child of Lawrence Dippel's. The child was found cruelly murdered and scalped - a boy about four years old. Another lad about six years old was carried off.
On the 26th of June, 1756, the Indians killed four persons, scalped them and shot two horses. Two men, Franz Albert and Jacob Haendshe, and two lads, Frederick Weiser and John George Miess were ploughing in the field of one Fischer, were surprised, murdered and scalped by the Indians, as appears from an extract taken from the Schwatarer Kirchen Buch:
In dem Wilden Krieg sind folgende vier Brueder, Franz Albert, Jacob Haendshe, zwei Knaben, die in der Hohl welche, da zie daselbst auf des alten Fishers Feld, um der Gefahr wegen gemein schaeftlich pfuegten Nachmittags, den 26 ten Juli, 1756, von den Wilden Indianern zugleich ploeizlich ueberfallen getoedet und gescalpt worden; und Sontags den 27 ten Juni, suit einer Starken Bedeckung von Sold afen und auderer Manushaft aus der Hohl gefahren Und mit einern Starken Gefolg von etwa zwei hundert Menschen, unier Bruder Friederich Schlegel's Liturgie, im Beysein des Bruder Samuel Herrs, der auch zu der Zeit hierwar, zugleich auf unser Gottes Acker, unter einem Gotlesfrieden boerdigt worden.
From the same book, it appears Franz Albert was born at Deux-Ponts, July 20, 1719 - he was a shoemaker by profession, formerly a member of the Reformed Church. J. Haendshe was a mason by trade, also formerly a member of the Reformed Church. Weiser was born May 21, 1740, and Miess, September 28, 1739.
The Rev. Muhlenberg relates, in the Hallische Nachrichten, page 1029, an affecting case of a widow woman, who called at his house in the month of February, 1765. This lady had been a member of one of the Rev. Kurtz's congregations. She was a native of Reutilinge, Wirtemberg - she and her husband had emigrated to this country, and settled on the frontiers of this county. The Indians fell upon them, October the 16th, 1755 - according to her statement, the Indians killed the old man, one of his sons, and carried off two small girls, while she and one of her sons had been absent. On her return home she found their dwelling reduced to ashes - she then fled to the interior settlements at Tulpehocken, and remained there.
The Rev. Todd, in his "Sabbath School Teacher, alludes to the same affecting incident. In addressing his youthful readers he says: " You are aware, my dear pupils, that many of the early settlers of Pennsylvania came from Germany. Among the numerous emigrants, from that country, was a poor man with a large family. At that time "there were no schools here during the week, or on the Sabbath, and no Churches. So the poor man used to keep his family at home on the Sabbath, and teach them from God's word - for he was a very good man. In the year 1754, a dreadful war broke out in Canada, between the French and English. The Indians joined the French, and used to go to Pennsylvania, burn houses, murder the people and carry off every thing they wanted.
They found the dwelling of this poor German family. The man, and his eldest boy and two little girls, named Barbara and Regina, were at home, while the wife and one of the boys were gone to carry some grain to the mill, a few miles off. The Indians at once killed the man, and his son, and took the two little girls, one aged 10 and the other nine, and carried them away, along with a great many other weeping children whom they had taken after murdering their parents. It was never known what became of Barbara, the eldest girl; but Regina, with another little girl of tow years old, whom Regina had never seen before, were given to an old Indian woman, who was very cruel. Her only son lived with her and supported her; but he was sometimes gone for several weeks, and then the old woman used to send the little girls to gather roots and herbs in the woods, for the old woman to eat; and when they did not get enough, she used to beat them cruelly. Regina never forgot her good father and mother, and the little girl always kept close to her. She taught the little girl to kneel down under the trees and pray to the Lord Jesus, and to say over with her all the hymns which her parents had taught her. In this state of slavery these children lived for many long years, till Regina was about nineteen, and her little friend was about eleven years old. Their hearts all this time seemed to wish for that which is good. They used to repeat, not only the texts of Scripture which Regina could remember, but there was one favorite hymn which they often repeated over.
In the year 1764, the kindness of God brought the English Colonel Bouquet to the place where they were. He conquered the Indians, and made them ask for peace. He granted it on condition that all the white prisoners should be given to him. More than four hundred were brought to the Colonel; and among them, these two girls. They were all poor, wretched looking objects. The Colonel carried them to Carlisle, and had it printed in all the newspapers, that all parents who had lost children by the Indians, might come and see if they were among the four hundred poor captives. Parents and husbands went hundreds of miles in hopes of meeting lost wives or children. The collection amounted to several thousand, and the sight of beholding relatives, who had been cruelly sundered, again meet and rush into each others arms, filled the whole company with rejoicing.
There was also mourning. Others who were disappointed in their expectations of finding relatives, made much lamentation. Among them was "poor Regina's sorrowing mother. When she got to Carlisle she did not, and could not know Regina. She had grown up, and looked, and dressed, and spoke like the Indians. The mother went up and down among the captives weeping, but could not find her child. She stood gazing and weeping when Colonel Rouquet came up and said "do you recollect nothing by which your child might be discovered?" She said she recollected nothing but a hymn, which she used often to sing to her children, and which is as follows:
Along, yet not alone am I,
Though in this solitude so drear;
I feel my Saviour always nigh,
He come the very hour to cheer,
I am with him and he with me,
E'en here alone I cannot be!
The Colonel desired her to sing the hymn as she used to do. Scarely had the mother sung two lines of it, when poor Regina rushed from the crowd, began to sing it also, and threw herself into her mother's arms. They both wept for joy, and the Colonel gave the daughter up to her mother. But the other little girl had no parents. They had probably been murdered. She clung to Regina, and would not let her go, so she was taken home with Regina, though her mother was very poor. Regina began to ask after "the book in which God speaks to us". But her mother had no Bible - for the Indians burned her Bible when they burned her house, and killed her family. Her mother resolved to go to Philadelphia and buy a Bible, but her good minister gave her one, and it was found that Regina could read at oned." Todd's Sabbath School Teacher.
The following is from Mr. Sarge, in answer to a letter addressed him, on the subject of Indian incursions &c., he says: "In 1834, an uncle of mine purchased a farm, three miles from Fort Smith, the house then (in 1834) on this farm, was evidently also a Fort - tradition has it so - there are, besides or were at least, when I saw the houe in '34, marks of corroborating evidence, to conclusively show this to have been the case. The port-holes, though plugged when I saw the house, and the scores of partial perforations made in the logs by bullets or balls, concur to sustain the truth of tradition. The house has, however, been since removed, and in its stead, another erected. The workmen, in sinking the cellar deeper, discovered a subterranean cave, which, it is surmised, served as a place of concealment and security for their wives and little ones, should the Fort be surprised by the Indians, in the absence of their men on their farms at work; for in those days the neighbors were, from want of necessity, compelled to aid each other on their farms, and at night all would resort to the Fort.
Mr. Mies, some years ago, informed my father that two of his brothers fell a victim to gratify the destructive propensity of the Indians. The two brothers were ploughing, and thus were surprised by the Indians. One of them was shot dead on the spot; the other, for his life, made for the house; having nearly reached his goal, and while in the act of leaping a fence, a ruthless Indian, hard on his heels, sunk his tomahawk in the head of his victim - he expired instantly!
A man by the name of Boeshore, (Boeshore resided in Hanover township at the time) while returning from his farm in the evening, with his family, espied some Indians near Fort Smith - he halted at that instant, an Indian leveled his deadly weapon at him, but fortunately the bullet struck the cock of Boeshore's gun - for the gun was in that day a constant companion of the laboring man - his horses took fright and ran off in the direction of the Fort. B. was however, wounded in his left arm. The Indians were fired upon; night advancing, and the Indians retreating, nothing more was done till next morning, when the settlers traced blood in the trail toward the Little mountain."
Bethel township has been materially changed since its first erection. It is bounded on the north-east by Schuylkill and Berks counties, south-east by Jackson townshp, south by North Lebanon township, and west by Swatara. Its greatest length is thirteen miles; breadth seven. It contains about thirty thousand acres of land - the northern part of which in mountainous; the southern is level - and some of the best kind of soil, especially that portion which is limestone - though the greater proportion is slate and gravel; yet generally highly improved. Many of the buildings are good; a few are still found covered with tiles. There is considerable taste displayed - though somewhat grotesque - in the arrangements about their dwellings.
This township is well watered. The principal stream is the Little Swatara creek, which rises at the bast of the Kittatinny - or Blue mountain - in Upper Tulpehocken township, Berks county, and flows south-west, forming the boundary between Bethel and Tulpehocken townships in Berks; thence it crosses Bethel and Swatara townships, Lebanon county, and falls into the Great or Big Swatara creek, about one mile below Jonestown. It turns several mills. In its course, it receives, in Bethel township, Elizabeth run and Deep run. In the forks of the former lies Fredericksburg or Stumpstown. There are several other smaller streams in the township.
In 1840, there were in this township, four stores, one furnace, one forge, three grist mills, one saw mill, two distilleries.
Fredericksburg - or Stumpstown - was laid out about the year 1754 or 1755, by one Stump. Among its first inhabitants were Stump, Snevely, Meily, Mauerer, the first tavern keeper in the place, Desch, Hauer and Siegfried. During the Indian war, it was a place of retreat for the white settlers on the frontiers.
In 1827, a great part of the town was destroyed by fire; but has since been rebuilt. It is pleasantly situated in a fertile, and well improved country. It contains between sixty and seventy dwellings; nearly one hundred families; with a population of about seven hundred and fifty. The village contains three stores, three taverns, and the usual number of handicrafts; also a Union church, in which Lutherans, German Reformed and Mennonites preach; also a church owned by the Evangelical Association.
Population of Bethel township in 1830, 1,604; 1840, 1,662. Average tax valuation for 1844, $538,011; county tax, $807 01.
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