Taken From the History of the counties of Berks and Lebanon : Rupp, I. Daniel. Lancaster, Pa.. G. Hills.
Pages 323 to 353
Hanover township embraced originally when first erected, what is now Hanover, in Dauphin County, Hanover, Union and part of Swatara township in Lebanon county. In 1729, when Lancaster was created, and additional townships were laid off, Derry, Lebanon and Peshtank (Paxton) embraced nearly all Dauphin and Lebanon counties till 1739, when Bethel was separated from Lebanon township.
Peshtank township, out of which Hanover was formed, was bounded in 1729, as follows: "Beginning at the mouth of Swatara, thence up the river to Kehtotoning hill, above Peter Allen's thence eastward by the south side of said hill, to the meridian of Quetopohello, thence on a south course to the mouth of the same at Swatara, and down Swatara to the place of beginning."
Hanover township was erected, upon a petition of the inhabitants of Lancaster county, presented at the February session of 1736-37. "It was divided on the west from Peshtank, (Paxton,) by Beaver creek, from its mouth to the mountain - from Lebanon on the east and Derry on the south, by Swatara creek, from Beaver to the forks, thence by the north branch to the mountain."
Prior to 1751, Hanover was divided into the West End, and East End of Hanover; the latter is now, principally, if not wholly, embraced within the bounds of Lebanon county. Many of the original settlers were Irish, who had emigrated principally from the north of Ireland. They were an enterprising and daring race. Presbyterians by religious profession. Principally conspicuous as militant and triumphant members of community. They and their kindred of Paxton and Donegal, for many years bravely defended the frontiers against the Indians; and finally when no other means answered, slaughtered "friend and foe" of the Indians. Allusion is had to "Paxton affair" in Lancaster. (See Appendix B, for a full statement of the "Paxton affair.") The taxables in the East End of Hanover in 1750, were the following: -
1750 Tax List - East End of Hanover Township
Jacob Musser, Peter Hettrich, Melchior Henry, Thomas Proner, Henry Bachman, Conrad Clatt, Anthony Rosebaum, Jacob Musher, Emu Ricker, William Clark, John Sibbius, John Schwar, James Young, John Gilleland, Peter Halman, Widow Work, Frederick Hoak, Jas. Sloan, Widow Gilleland, Jacob Sops, John Sops, Rudolph Hake, Joseph Hoof, Benj. Clark, Killion Mark, George Tittel, Isaac Williams, Adam Clannean, John Casnet, James Williams, Anthony Tittel, Dennis Feril, Mathias Boor, John Sloan, Daniel Ankel, William Young, Abraham Williams, Jaces Clark, Martin Lichty, Adam Roth, Ludwig Shits, John Stewart, John Foster, John Andrew, Walter McFarland, Joseph Brechbill, William Robison, Philip Kolps, Onwal Jugle, Thomas Croil, Alexander Swan, Alexander Thomson, John Graham, Samuel Ainsworth, John Martin, Barnet M'Night, Widow Brown, John Humes, Andrew Keehan, Thomas Brewster, John Thomson, James Graham, John Cunningham, William Cunningham, Christopher Sies, John Meyers, Patrick Brown, John Andrews, John Strein, Antony M'Crath, George Shetley, Walter Bell, Leonard Long, Adam M'Neely, John M'Clure, John Henderson, William Woods, John Porterfield, Robert Haslet, John Crawford, William Watson, Henry Gaetz, James Greenleaf, John Craig, Hugh M'Gowen, John Dickson, Joseph Willson, Adam Miller, Edward M'Murray, Jacob M'Cormick, John Ramsey, James Stewart, Humphrey Cunningham, Robert Kirkwood, James M'Coorey, William Thomson, Thomas Strain, Mathias Plank, Jacob Steiner, William Stonery, James Todd, John Young, James Dixon, Robert Bryson, William Bryson, Daniel Andrew, David Stevenson, William Catheart, William Crosby, Benjamin Ainsworth, Patrick Bowen, Adam Harper, Lazarus Stewart
The inhabitants of Hanover, in common with the frontier settlers, were repeatedly alarmed, some murdered, others carried off by the Indians. We cannot fully appreciate the suffering of the original settlers of this part of the county. They were not secure for one moment from being surprised or murdered by the savages lurking on the borders of these counties. From 1755 till 1783, Lebanon and Berks counties were scenes of murder, burning of houses &c. They were exposed to the cruel incursions of barbarous Indians, whose delight was to shed human blood - who regarded neither age nor sex - all were, with them, alike objects of their cruelty.
The 16th of November, 1755, a party of Indians crossed the Susquehanna - commenced their bloody deeds, and murdered thirteen persons. In the autumn of 1756, a company of ten Indians, came to the house of Noah Frederick, while ploughing, killed and scalped him and carried away three children that were with him - the eldest but nine years old.* (See page anten 64).
Inhabitants That Fled - West Hanover Township
A large portion of the plantations had been abandoned in East and West Hanover townships. In West Hanover, the following persons had fled: John Gordon, Richard Johnson, Alexander Barnet, James M'Caver, Robert Porterfield, Philip Robison, John Hill, Thomas Bell, Thomas Maguire, William M'Cord, Robert Huston, Benjamin Wallace, William Bennett, Bartholomew Harris, John Swan, James Bannon, William M'Clure, Thomas M'Clure, John Henry, James Riddle, Widow Cooper, David Ferguson, Widow De Armand, James Wilson, Samuel Barnetts, James Brown, Widow M'Gowin, Samuel Brown, Thomas Hill, Jane Johnston, killed. (See tax duplicate for 1766, at Lancaster, in which these are noted as having fled when the collector called).
Inhabitants That Fled - East Hanover Township
In the East End of Hanover, the following had fled: John Gilliland, John M'Culloch, Walter M'Farland, Robert Kirkwood, William Robison, Valentine Stoffelbein, Adam Clearman, Rudolph Fry, Peter Walmer, John M'Culloch, jr., James Rafter, Moses Vance, John Brooher, Jacob Mosser, Philip Mauerer, Barnhart Beshore, Jacob Beshore, Mathias Beshore, William M'Cullough, Philip Culp, Casper Yost, Conrad Cleck, Christian Albert, Daniel Mosier, John M'Clure, Lazarus Stuart, Thomas Shirly, James Graham, Barnet M'Nett, Andrew Brown, William Brown, Andrew M'Mahon, Thomas Hume, Thomas Strean, Peter Wolf, Henry Kuntz, William Watson, John Hume, David Strean, John Stuart, John Porterfield, Anthony M'Crath, James M'Curry, Conrad Rice, Alexander Swan, John Gream. The following were killed: Andrew Berryhill, John Creigh and his son taken captive; Samuel Aimsworth's son was also taken.* (See tax duplicate for 1755, at Lancaster and page 65 anten)
A correspondence is mentioned in the Pennsylvania Gazette, of May, 1757, stating that "in a letter from Hanover, Lancaster county, dated May 2, 1757, the house of Isaac Snevely was set on fire, and entirely consumed, with eighteen horses and cows - and that on the 17th of May, five men, and a woman were killed and scalped by the Indians, about thirty miles from Lancaster, &c.
The inhabitants of this region of country were kept in continual alarm during the spring, summer and autumn of this year, on account of the murders committed by the Indians. One fails in the attempt to describe the perils of the frontier settlers of these times. The heart shrinks from portraying the scenes of horror - the barbarous murderers butchered the whites in the field - at their meals - in bed - at every unguarded hour.
Who would not sicken to view, in imagination, scalps clotted with gore, mangled limbs, women ripped open, the heart and bowels still palpitating with life and smoking on the ground - see savages swilling, as it were, human blood, and imbibing a more courageous fury with the human draught - see the living, not captives, fleeing for life, while the Indians are in hot pursuit!
In a letter before us, dated Hanover, Lancaster county, August 11, 1757, it is stated, "That on Monday, the 8th, while George Mauerer was cutting oats in George Scheffer's field, he was killed and scalped. There is now", says the same writer, "such a sever sickness in these parts - the like has not been known - that many families can neither fight nor run away, which occasions great distress on the frontiers. Had it not been for forty men, which the province has in pay, in this township, little of the harvest could have been saved, and as the time for which they have been engaged, is nearly elapsed, the inhabitants hope the government will continue them in the service, else the consequences will be dreadful.
The Pennsylvania Gazette of August 1757, states, "We learn from Lancaster that there was nothing but murdering and capturing, that on the 17th of August, one Beatty was killed in Paxton, that the next day James Mackay was murdered in Hanover, and William and Joseph Barnet wounded. That on the same day were taken prisoners, a son of James Mackay, a son of Joseph Barnet, Elizabeth Dickey and her child; and the wife of Samuel Young and her child; and that ninety-four men, women and children, were seen flying from their places, in one body, and a great many more in small parties, so that it was feared the settlement would be entirely forsaken."
What rendered their condition still worse, nay hopeless, the fugitive and remaining inhabitants had no means to engage forces, rangers or scouters, to apprise them of the approach of Indians, and repel their incursions; and it was, it seems, in vain for them to appeal to a deaf government - their only appeal was to the sympathies of their fellow citizens for aid and means.* Patriotic individuals, who possessed means, would raise rangers at their own expense. John Harris, in an adjoining township, (Paxton) paid thirty men for their services as rangers, in watching and preventing the inroads of Indians. Harris did this on more than one occasion.
"On Monday, the 22d of May, Barnabas Tolon was killed and scalped in Hanover township. And we are," says the editor of the Pennsylvania Gazette, "well informed, that one hundred and twenty-three persons have been murdered and carried off from that part of Lancaster county, by the Indians, since the war commenced; and that lately three have been scalped and are yet living."
The Indians still continued to commit murders and depredations till December 1763, when they were seen for the last time within the limits of Lebanon county.
East Hanover township is, at present, bounded on the north and west by Dauphin county; east by Union, and south by Annville and Londonderry townships. The surface of the country is diversified. In the southern portion, it presents gentle declivities; the northern part is mountainous, being crossed by the Blue mountain and the Second Mountain. There is quite a noted spring here, called the "Cold Spring" an agreeable watering place, and considerably frequented in the heat of summer. There is also, a very large and commodious house of entertainment here, it was erected by an enterprising, and public patronage deserving gentleman, Samuel Winter, Esq. In the southern part of the township is the well-known woolen factory on Indian creek, long owned by Gen. Harrison, but now in the possession of Mr. Lonberger.
The township is well supplied with streams, affording abundant waterpower. The Swatara creek, or river, is the principal one; it rises in Schuykill county, on the south side of the Broad mountains, enters Lebanon county on the northeast angle, through which, in its sinuous course, it receives Quitepahila, and other smaller tributaries; thence flows south-west through Dauphin county, and empties into the Susquehanna river below Middletown. In its course, through this township it affords much waterpower. The other streams are Indian creek, Raccoon creek and Reed's run. In 1840, the township contained four stores, one fulling mill, one woolen factory, already spoken of, five grist mills, six saw mills, one oil mill, one paper mill, one tannery, one distillery. Population in 1830, 2,498; 1840, 2,461. Tax valuation for 1844, $452, 674 00; county tax, $679 01.
The following pensioners were still living in this township in 1840 - Thomas Koppenhaver, aged 80 years; John Hetrich, 77; Jacob Decker, 84; Philip Witmoyer, 90; John Gerberich, 81; James Stewart, 83 years. It was in this township that the well known Hollenback was born - to whom John Harris remarked, twenty or more years before Harrisburg was laid out, that this place - Harris's ferry - would become the center of business in this section of the county, and would be the seat of Government of Pennsylvania . "Strong and predictive faith, this."
Biographical Notice of the Hon. Mathias Hollenback
The subject of this notice, was born of German parentage, in Hanover township, upon the Swatara creek - then Lancaster - now Lebanon county. Here he was inured to all the
Sufferings and privations incident to a frontier settlement at that early day. Possessed of a firm and vigorous constitution, and endued by nature with a strong, active and enterprising mind, at the age of seventeen he joined the first adventurous party, who came to make a permanent settlement, under the authority of Connecticut, in the valley of Wyoming. This was in the autumn of 1769. From this period, the history of his long and eventful life, is identified with the history of this part of the country.
In the controversy between Pennsylvania and Connecticut, he actively and firmly adhered to the latter, under whose auspices he had embarked his youthful fortunes, and whose claims he regarded as paramount to every other, until the right of soil and the right of jurisdiction to the country were decreed by a competent tribunal, to be in the former. From that moment, he yielded obedience to the constitution and laws of Pennsylvania, and contributed all his power to quiet the turbulent, and to reconcile the disaffected to the legitimate authorities.
The dispute between Pennsylvania and Connecticut, had assumed all the characteristics of a civil war, and notwithstanding the conciliatory recommendations and remonstrance's of the Continental Congress, it was continued during the revolutionary struggle. Whilst the poor and destitute settlers were suffering on the one side from the common enemies of the country, the British, the savage Indians, and the worse than savage Tories, they were attacked on the other, and endured equal distress by military parties under the authority of Pennsylvania.
Thus surrounded with difficulties and dangers, calculated to appall the stoutest heart, at a period too, when many good, but timid men, doubted, hesitated and feared, young Hollenback, in want of every thing, but personal courage and patriotic feeling, was approached by one of those agents of the mother country, whose bland and fascinating manner and duplicity of heart, marked him out as a fit emissary for "treason, stratagem and spoil". On the one hand, the effort making to free the country from British dominion was represented as entirely hopeless and that upon failure, poverty, shame and death, every where awaited the active partisan; on the other, by espousing the cause of the British King, money, office and honor would be immediately conferred, and a life of ease and independence secured. The youth stood firm - he was not to be allured from the path of duty. He had taken his resolution - staked his all upon the issue - and was willing to abide the result.
In 1776, and the following years, two companies were raised in Wyoming, in one of which young Hollenback was appointed Lieutenant. He was active and successful in filling up and preparing his company for active service - and, shortly after, joined the army under General Washington, in the State of N. Jersey. His merits were soon discovered and properly appreciated by the General, who frequently consulted him in relation to the frontier settlements, and the means of defending them against the incursions of the enemy. He participated in all the suffering of our half fed and half clothed troops, during the winter campaign, in the state of New Jersey - and was, on several occasions , employed by the General in the execution of confidential agencies.
Such was the patriotism of the Wyoming settlers, that, during the short period, when they were not immediately threatened with attacks from the enemy, almost every efficient man among them joined the army, and left their families without protection. The calm portended a storm. The defenceless state of the frontier invited aggression. The valley again began to suffer from the tomahawk, scalping knife, and fire brand - and early in 1778, it was discovered that a horde of British, Indians and Tories, was collected upon the Susquehanna frontier and preparing to pour down upon the valley of Wyoming, and exterminate the defenceless settlers. The officers from Wyoming, urged the General to send a force for its protection, or to permit the two companies, drawn from this settlement, to return, for the purpose of defending their aged and helpless parents, wives and children. But such was the situation of the army, that no adequate force could be spared. An intense anxiety was felt among the officers - some obtained furloughs, and some resigned and returned to the valley. Every preparation was made in their power, to repel their invaders. About three hundred and fifty men marched out to meet the enemy. They were drawn into an ambusende. The result is known - Wyoming was reduced to widowhood and orphanage. About fifty only escaped this disastrous battle, of whom the subject of this notice was one. Articles of capitulation were made, in which security and protection of life and property had been stipulated, were no sooner made than they were violated, on the part of the faithless enemy. What property could not be carried away, was burned and destroyed, and the remnant of the settlers was driven naked and houseless to the surrounding mountains. Lieutenant Hollenback, whose property was all destroyed, still clung to the valley and participated in all its sufferings, until the conclusion of the war.
Upon the settlement of the controversy between Pennsylvania and Connecticut - and upon the promulgation of the laws of Pennsylvania in the disputed territory of 1786, Mr. Hollenback was chosen and appointed one of the justices of the courts of Luzerne county; and upon the adoption of the Constitution, he was re-appointed an associate judge, which office he sustained with reputation, till the time of his decease. He was honored with the command of a regiment by his fellow citizens - a military officer being almost the only one in Pennsylvania, compatible with that of a judge.
In all the great political struggles which have agitated the country, Judge Hollenback was actively and firmly attached to the cause of the people. In a late conflict, although most of those around him, with whom he had been accustomed to act, entertained different views, and although he was exceedingly enfeebled by disease, he procured himself to be carried to the poll, and there, for the last time, exercised the right of suffrage in favor of a distinguished individual who succeeded to the presidency. He was firmly persuaded that the interests of the country demanded this preference, and he acted accordingly.
It is believed that he was not a member of any Christian church, but it is known, that he reverenced the religion of the cross. Throughout his life, he contributed liberally to the support of that communion and its pastors, to which he was conscientiously attached, and it is feared, it will long feel the want of his supporting hand.
His life, was a life of temperance, industry and attention to his business, the full fruits of which he enjoyed in almost uninterrupted health, until his last illness. From the incidents of his life, the young may draw useful lessons for the regulations of their conduct, and from his death all may learn, that man is mortal. That neither riches, nor honors, nor virture, nor age, can from any shield against the fell destroyer - Haz. Reg.
Derry township organized in 1729, was then bounded as follows: "The township of Derry, beginning at the mouth of Conewago, thence up Susquehannah to the mouth of Swatara, thence up Swatara to the mouth of Quetopohella, thence south to Conewago, and down the same to the place of beginning."
As then bounded, it embraced all within its limits, known as the "West End, and the East End of Derry", or, as subsequently called, Derry and Londonderry. Derry was settled prior to 1720 and about the same time when the Semples, Pattersons, Mitchells, Galbraiths, Andersons, Scotts, Lowereys, Pedans, Porters, Whitehills and others settled in Donegal. They were principally Irish emigrants. As early as 1750, many of them moved to Cumberland county, among whom were the Works, Moores, Bells, Galbraiths, Whitchills, Hendersons, Sterrits, Mortons - all early settlers in the east end of Cumberland county. In 1751, the following were taxables residing in the West End of Derrys
1751 Tax List - West End of Derry Township
James Semple, James M'Kee, Joseph Gandor, Thomas Hall, James Clark, John Allison, James Shaw, Robt. Ramsey, James Russel, Thomas Boman, James Chambers, James Long, David Campbell, James Inland, Patrick Down, John Vanlier, Robert Carothers, William Breedon, Charles Neely, Arthur Chambers, John Tice, John Laird, David Caldwell, Andrew Morrison, John Thompson, Alexander Felix, Alexander Robison, John Nicom, John Kerr, William Blackburn, Andrew Lockhart, David M'Nair, James Wiley, William Drennan, Christian Saddler, William Mitchel, Moses Wilson, Michael Hour, Moses Patterson, James Russel, William Sterret, Robert Armstrong, Valentine Kloninger, Martin Brand, John Singer, Jacob Ionan, John Welsh, Hugh Laird, Wm. Irland, William Boor, James Harris, James Russel.
1751 Tax List - East End of Derry Township
The taxables for 1751, of the East End of Derry, were the following:
James Galbraith, James Wilson, James Campbell, James Walker, John Walker, Henry Walker, John M'Cord, David M'Cord, William Robison, Archibald Walker, David Taylor, John Over, John Pinagel, William Wilson, James Miller, William Boyd, John M'Cosh, William Sawyers, George Espy, David Mitchel, Leonard Denie, John M'Culloch, Charles Conney, David Shank, David Glenn, Michael Hoover, Hans Baliner, Henry Peters, Hans Kettering, Charles Clark, Thomas Macky, Andrew Moore, James Foster, Robert M'Clure, Felty Fillipe, Hugh Hall, Thomas Rutherford, William Rea, John M'Quinn, John Rea, Neal M'Callister, Christian Snider, Neal Dougherty, Thomas Logan, George Miller, John M'Callister, Joseph White, John M'Clelland, Robert Murdock, Moses Potts, David Johnson, Jacob Rife, Jacob Longenecker, Andw. Rowan, Hugh Hays, Patrick Hays, John Kerr, Duncan M'Donal, Thomas Wilson, James Wilson, John Campbell, John Hays, Widow M'Clan, Widow Sloan, John Maben, Patrick Kelly, James Duncan, John Duncan, William Hays, John Foster, Robert Foster, David Foster, Wilson Cooper, John Strean, John Cochran, Hans Adam Nai, Jacob Seiler, Hugh Miller, John Godfrey, Thomas Aiken, Anthony Hernsly, Christian Conchran, Albrecht Ziegler, Conrad Wisan, John M'Culloch, John Gingerich, William Miller, John Moore, John Hays, Thomas Freeman, William Huston.
Thought the original settlers in this township, were principally Irish, but few of their descendants are residing here; some as stated above, settled in the eastern part of Cumberland, other settled in the western portion, now Franklin county, called the Conococheague settlements, where are still to be found - the Campbells, McDowells, Smiths, Barrs, Welshs, McClellands, Finleys - the ancestors of Gov. W. Finley.
This township being more towards the interior, was not so much exposed, as the more northern townships, to the incursions of the Indians. Nevertheless, the barbarous savages penetrated into the more sparsely settled parts, and committed several murders and effected abductions. June 18, 1757, nineteen persons were killed in a mill on the Quitopahilla creek; and on the 9th of September, 1757, one boy and a girl were taken from Donegal township, a few miles south of Derry. About the same time, one Danner and his son, Christian Danner, a lad of twelve years, had gone out into the Conewago hills to cut down some trees; after felling one, and while the father was cutting a log, he was shot and scalped by an Indian; and Christian, the son, was taken captive - carried off to Canada, where he was kept several years, till the close of the war - when he made his escape from them. Another young lad, named Steger, was, while cutting some whoop-poles, surprised by three Indians, and taken captive, but fortunately after remaining some months with the Indians, made his escape.
Jacob and Henry Bowman, brothers, both young men, were taken by some Indians, who tied them in a secluded place, in the thickets, and proceeded, as was supposed, to the Conestoga Indians, with a view, when returning from thence, to take them to Canada; but in the interim, a Mr. Shally returned from Lancaster to Lebanon, and they perceiving him, called him, who immediately went to the place where they were tied, and unloosed them, and they returned to their parents, residing in the vicinity of the present Palmyra.
Rev. John Elder
So much were the inhabitants constantly alarmed, that during the Indian troubles, the men attended church with loaded guns, and other defensive weapons. Their Pastor, the Rev. Elder, who ministered to their spiritual wants, and counseled them in those perilous times, had then charge of a congregation in Derry. It is said of him, he was doubly armed; first by faith in the certain protection of an all-ruling Providence; second in his gun, which he had often with him in the pulpit; for he was an unerring marksman.
It may be here added "that the Rev. John Elder, a Scotchman, was the first clergyman settled west of the Conewago hills, towards Susquehanna - he preached fifty-six years in the Paxton church, about two miles from Harrisburg, and for many years in Derry.
He wielded the sword of the flesh, though clothed with the helmet of Salvation, as well as the sword of the spirit; for he held for several years a Colonel's commission in the provincial service; commanding the stockades and block-houses that extended from the Susquehanna to the Delaware, at Easton.
It is said, as above intimated, that he often carried his rifle into the pulpit, and his congregation were prepared in the same way against the attacks from the Indians.
About the year 1756, the church was surrounded by the savages so closely, that, as was afterward learned from an escaped prisoner, the rifles in the church were counted by the Indians, but as there appeared to be too many of them, the savages went off without molesting the congregation. In the year following, the congregation (at Paxton) was attacked after they had dispersed, and two or three were killed and others wounded.
The Rev. Elder died at the advanced age of 86, in the year 1792, on his farm, near Harisburg, beloved in life, and much lamented by his survivors.
As late as 1763, in July, the reapers in this and other parts of Lancaster county, took their guns and ammunition with them into the harvest fields, to defend themselves against the Indians.
Londonderry township is bounded on the north by East Hanover township, northeast by Annville; east by Lebanon; south by Lancaster county, and west by Dauphin county. It contains nearly twenty-six thousand acres of land, some of the best, and some of the worst in the country. The middle portion of the township is level; limestone soil, and some gravel and slate. The northern part is undulating; the south and southwestern, hilly and much of it covered with sienite boulders, of huge size and greywacke.
The Swatara creek runs along the northern boundary of this township, and receives Quiapohilla, a considerable stream, from the south-east. Klinger's run, a tributary of the latter, flows northwardly into it. The Conewago creek flows westwardly through the township, north of the Conewago hills, on which is Colebrook furnace, in operation for sixty years. It is owned by Mr. Coleman. The Downington, Ephrata and Harrisburg turnpike passes through the township, on which is Campbelltown, a small village, containing a dozen or tow of houses; and the Reading and Harrisburg turnpike, on which is Palmstorwn or Palmyra, containing some twenty houses. There are several mills in this township. The improvements in this township are generally good. In 1840, the following pensioners were still living in this township: Jacob Lentz, age 81; Jacob Keaner, 80; Andrew Robison, 81 years. Population in 1830, 1,874; 1840, 1,762. Average tax valuation for 1844 $794,285 00; county tax $1,191 43.
Heidelberg township originally embraced all that is now within the limits of Upper and Lower Heidelberg, in Berks county; and Heidelberg in Lebanon county, a part of Jackson. But when Berks was erected in 1752, the greater part then known as Heidelberg, was taken in with that county. This township was originally settled by Germans; the first of whom had either directly emigrated from Germany, or from the State of New York, where many of them had arrived in 1710; thence they emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1723.
It was within the bounds of Heidelberg township, as first organized, that the German Baptists - commonly known by the name, Dunkards, had commenced a settlement as early as 1724. Many of these first emigrated from Germany and Holland, in 1709, and settled first at Germantown, and some years afterward established a church at Muelbach. One of their prominent members, Conrad Beissel, a native of Germany, arrived in America, in 1720, and took up his abode among them at Muelbach - he and one Stunt, built a house and they were soon joined by Isaac Van Babern, George Steifel and others.
Conrad Beissel being somewhat dissatisfied with some of the observances of his brethren, commenced promulgating his views, and eventually seceded from the Dunkard community, and formed a new sect, known as the German Seventh Day Baptist.
The following brief sketch of this society, taken from the History of Lancaster County, will afford the reader some idea of their rise and progress.
Conrad Beissel and the German Seventh Day Baptist
Conrad Beissel, wholly intent upon seeking out the true obligation of the word of God, and the proper observances of the rites and ceremonies it imposes, stripped of human authority, he conceived that there was an error among the Dunkers, in the observance of the day for the Sabbath; that the seventh day was the command of the Lord God, and that day being established and sanctified, by the Great Jehovah, forever! He felt it to be his duty to contend for the observance of that day. About the year, 1725, he published a tract entering into a discussion of this point, which created some excitement and disturbance in the society, at Mill creek; upon which he retired from the settlement, and went secretly, to a cell on the bankd of the Coclico, that had previously been occupied by one Elimelich, a hermit. His place of retirement was unknown for some time to the people he had left, and when convinced of the truth of his proposition for the observance of the Sabbath, settled around him, in solitary cottages. They worship, in the year 1728; which has ever since been observed by their descendants, even unto the present day.
In the year 1732, the solitary life was changed into a conventicle one, and a monastic society was established as soon as the first building erected for that purpose were finished, May 1733. The habit of the Capuchins, or White Friars, was adopted by both the brethren and sisters; which consisted of a shirt, trowsers, and vest, with a long white gown or cowl, of woolen web in winter and linen in summer. That of the sisters differed only in the substitution of petticoats for trowsers, and some little peculiarity in the shape of the cowl. Monastic names were given to all who entered the cloister. Onesimus (Irael Eckerlin) was constituted Prior, who was succeeded by Jaebez, (Peter Miller,) and the title of a Father - spiritual father - was bestowed upon Beissel, whose monastic name was Friedsam; to which the Brethren afterwards added Gottrecht; implying together, Peaceable, God-right. In the year 1740, there were thirty-six single brethren in the cloister, and thirty-five sisters; and at one time, the society including the members living in the neighborhood, numbered nearly three hundred.
The first buildings of "the society of any consequence, were Kedar and Zion; a meeting houe and convent, which were erected on the hill called Mount Zion. They afterwards built large accommodations, in the meadow below, comprising a sister's house, called Saron, to which is attached a large chapel and "Saal," for the purpose of holding Agapas, or Love Feasts. A brother's house called Bethania, with which is connected the large meeting room, with galleries, in which the whole society assembled for public worship, in the days of the prosperity, and which are still standing, surrounded by smaller buildings, that were occupied as a printing-office, bake-house, school-house, almonry, and others, for different purposes; on one of which, a one story house, the town clock is erected.
The buildings are singular, and of very ancient architecture; all the outwalls being covered with shingles, or clapboards. The tow houses, for the brethren and sisters, are very large, being three and four stories high; each has a chapel for their night meetings, and the main buildings are divided into small apartments, each containing between fifty and sixty so that six dormitories, which are barely large enough to contain a cot, (in early days a bench and billet of wood for the head), a closet, and an hour glass, surrounded a common room, in which each sub-divison pursued their respective avocation. On entering these silent cells, and traversing the long narrow passages, visitors can scarcely divest themselves of the feeling of walking the tortuous windings of some old castle, and breathing recesses of romance. The ceilings have an elevation of but seven feet; the passages leading to the cells, or kammers, as they are styled, and through the different parts of both convents, are barely wide enough to admit one person, for when meeting a second, he has always to retreat. The dens of the kammers are but five feet high, and twenty inches wide, and the window, for each has but one, is only eighteen by twenty-four inches; the largest windows affording light to the meeting rooms; the chapels, the saals, and even the kammers, or dormitories, are hung and nearly covered with large sheets of elegant penmanship, or ink paintings, many of which are texts from the scriptures, executed in a very handsome manner, in ornamented Gothic letters, called in German, Fractur Schriften. They are done on large sheets of paper, manufactured for the purpose at their own mill, some of which are put into frames, and which admonish the resident, as well as the casual visitor, whichever way they may turn the head. There are some very curious ones; two of which still remain in the chapel attached to Saron. One represents the narrow and crooked way, done on a sheet of about three feet square, which it would be difficult to describe; it is very curious and ingenious; the whole of the road is filled up with texts of scripture, adverting the disciples of their duties, and the obligations their profession imposes upon them. Another represents the three Heavens. In the first, Christ, the Shepherd, is represented gathering his flock together; in the second, which occupies one foot in height, and is three feet wide, three hundred figures in Capuchin dress, can be counted, with harps in their hands, and heads of an innumerable host; and in the third is seen the Throne, surrounded by tow hundred Arch-Angles. Many of these Fractur-Schriften express their own enthusiastic sentiments on the subject of celibacy, and the virtue of a recluse life, whilst others are devotional pieces…(pages 339- first paragraph 340 not transcribed: more information about the Capuchin designs)
Many of the male members were men of education, and the school which they had established, attracted attention abroad; young men from Baltimore and of Philadelphia, were sent to this place to be educated. Ludwig Hacker, the teacher of the common school, projected the plan of holding a school in the afternoon or the Sabbath, or Saturday, and who, in connexion with some of the brethren, commenced it, to give instruction to the indigent children who were kept from regular school by employments with their necessities obliged them to be engaged at during the week, as well as to give religious instruction to those in better circumstances. The precise time when this school was established is not known; it was after 1739.
The society, after an existence of fifty years, began to decline, from some cause, which we have not been able to learn. Some say that Beissel's successor, Peter Miller, wanted vigor of mind. This, says Doctor Fahnestock, is not, he believes, the case; for he assured us, in a conversation with him on this subject, in 1836, so far as he could learn, Peter Miller was a man of much greater powers of mind than Beissel, and that he had the management of the establishment during Beissel's time; and to whose energy and perseverance, is mainly attributable the great prosperity of the institution in its early days.
That Miller was a man of more than ordinary powers of min, is evident from the testimony of the Rev. Jedediah Andrews, an alumnus of Harvard College, of the class of 1695, Andrew speaking of Miller, in a letter, dated Philadelphia, 8th, 14th, 1730.
"There is lately come over a Palatine candidate of the ministry, who having applied to us at the Synod (Scotch Synod) for ordination, 'tis left to three ministers, (these three were Tenant, Andrews and Boyd) to do it. He is an extraordinary person for sense and learning. We gave him a question to discuss about Justification, and he answered it, in a whole sheet of paper, in a very notable manner. His name is John Peter Miller, and speaks Latin, as readily as we do our vernacular tongue, and so does the other Mr. Weiss."
At an early period, they established a German printing office, which enabled them to distribute tracts and hymns and afterwards to print several large works, in which the views of the founder are fully explained. Many of these books have been lost and destroyed. In the Revolutionary war, just before the battle of Germantown, three wagon loads of books, in sheets, were seized and taken away for cartridges. They came to the paper mill to get paper, and not finding any there, they pressed the books in sheets.
Music was much cultivated. Beissel was a first rate musician and composer. In composing sacred music, he took his style from the music of Nature, and the whole comprising several large volumes, are founded on the Eolian harp; the singing is the Eolian harp harmonized; it is very peculiar in its style and concords, and in its execution. (remainder of page 341, 342 and first two paragraphs page 343 not transcribed: more information society).
The following were taxable in Heidelberg township, a year after Berks county had been separated from Lancaster county:
1753 Tax List Heidelberg township
Bastion Zimmerman, Abraham Stump, Godfried Loudermilch, Martin Kohl, Christian Smith, Yost Hoffman, Lorentz Bauman, Philip Kistaker, Jacob Kreider, George Trear, Henry Gring, John Doetweiller, John Lane, Nicholas Fellenberger, Jacob Durst, Dames Dutweiler, Henry Miser, Jacob Neaf, Nicholas Cress, John Stoler, Joseph Krotzer, John Wolfelsparger, Frederick Wolfelsparger, Peter Wolfelsparger, Adam Fritz, Barred Mous, Fridreck Miller, Hyronomus Troutman, Jacob Gishon, Peter Stone, Anthony Troser, John Shub, Christian Orendorf, Peter Edelmen, George Conrad, Jacob Greeninger, Andrew Kreider, Philip Breidenbach, Christopher Noacker, Martin Noacker, Nicholas Miller, Valentine Hershelroth, Henry Bassler, Jacob Huy, John Ramler, Jacob Ramler, John Immel, Michael Spengler, Michael Coppenheffer, Christian Leamn, John Adam Mosser, Tobias Bickle, Jacob Brown, David Zeller, Henry Zeller, Geo. Mieser, Lenhard Holstein, Michael Mieser, Andw. Ellig, Jacob Becker, David Lebenstien, Michael Brecht, Geo. Neff, Michael Neff, Ulrich Rozsor, Joseph Pugh, Valentine Boseman, Christain Zwalle, Peter Borger, John Stock, Valentine Veeman, Ab'm Neff, Andw. Shell, Stophel Stump, Widow Moore, Jno. Mire, John Knower, Henry Mire, Wendel Loudermilch, Casper Rebo, Andw. Reigand, Geo. Cogandoerfer, John Loudermilch, Lorentz Arnold, Michael Kapp, Peter Reem, Geo. Stoler, Jacob Neff, Mathias Albrecht, Henry Boyer, Lenhard Leidig, Conrad Heighberger, Daniel Clark, Ulrich Croll, Michael Schenck, John Grebill, Geo. Swingle, Martin Thomas, Thomas Durst, Alexander Shiffer, Valentine Urich, Peter Summe, Ulrich Springer, Christian Miller, Peter Babler, Stofel Miller, Jacob Gensly, Peter Miller, Peter Schell, Hermanus Potorf, John Line, Thomas Copenhoefer, Christian Walborn, Martin Petorf, Wilhelm Hoster, Geo. Lash, Walter Newman, Nicholas Swingle, F. Newman, Andreas Strickler, John Fague, Peter Zeller, Andreas Saltzgeber, John Null, Peter Brua, Michael Snider, Martin Eichholtz, Jacob Gass, Nicholas Bressler, Dietrict Marker, John Kuster, John Oxman.
The following resided in the south-east part of the township of Heidelberg, and on the borders of Warwick:
Dillman Shite, David Taylor, Moses Irwin, Jacob Huber, Abraham Roland, Jacob Polinger, Ludwig Cole, Simon Tobias, Yost Blagher, Henry Stiegle, John Pofasberger, Nicholas Smith, Casper Simon, Martin Shoody, Stephen Beninger, Jacab Selzer, John Timothe, Tobias Hauk, Balser Shade, Michael Balmar, Henry Botts, Henry Hoyt, Han Nickle Entsminger, Han Nickle Entsminger, senr., Henry Wise, Stephen Yoscky, Jacob Gass, Christian Pence, Samuel Sellar, Mr. Shoufter, the tailor. Freeman - John Sheets, George Lidigh, George Hoyl, ter Porgner, Yelin Swally, Jacob Steily, Ulrich Bare, John Pile, John Bale, George Organsteen, John Switzer.
There is nothing special that occurred during the French and Indian war, no common to the townships of this county. The Indians committed several murders in the northern part of the township, (now Jackson). They carried off several young children, one of them, named William Jackson, was returned, who had been held captive for some time, in 1762, at Lancaster. An extract of the proceedings of a conference with the Indians, held at Lancaster in 1762 is given.
Proceeding of a Indian Conference 1762 Lancaster
Lancaster, August, Friday 13, 1762
James Hamilton, Esq., Lieut. Governor of Pennsylvania, recovered the following prisoners from the hands of King Beaver. Names of prisoners - Thomas Moore, taken from Potomack, Maryland. Philip Studebecker, taken from Conegocheague, Md. Ann Dougherty and Peter Condon, taken in Pennsylvania, Mary Stroudman, taken from Conegocheague, Pa., William Jackson taken from Tulpehocken, Pa., Elizabeth Adam and John Lloyd, from Little Cove, Pa., Dorothy Shabrin, from Big Cove, Eleanor Lancestocies, from Pa., Hans Boyer, a boy, not known from whence taken. Richard Rogers, Esther Rogers, Jacob Robers, Archibald Holtemon, and Rebecca Walter, all from Virginia, about the South branch.
"Thursday, 19 Aug. 1762, the following were delivered; Elizabeth Williams, a young woman, delivered by Mussause, a Muncy Indian. Henry Williams, about eighteen years old, brother to Elizabeth Williams, delivered by Canyhocheratoquin, a Muncy. Peggy Dougherty, delivered by Eckgohnson, a Muncy, Mary Tidd and her child, taken near Samuel Depuis, by Eckgohnson. Abigail Evan and her child, taken at Stony creek, in Virginia, by Cowachsora, a Seneca.
A boy by Meightong, a Muncy. A little girl by Eckgohson, a Muncy. A little boy, Pessewanck, a Muncy. A boy of about fourteen years, by Eckgohson. A boy of twelve years, by Cowackslaira, a Seneca. These children's names unknown, as they cannot speak English, or give any account from whence they were taken."
The neighborhood of Sheafferstown was, it is said, originally settled by German Jews. They were so numerous, at one time, as to have a synagogue, and a rabbi to read the scriptures and impart to them other instruction. As early as 1732 they had a grave-yard, around which was a substantial stone wall built, nearly the whole of which is still standing. The cement, or motar used, must have been very adhesive, and must have been made of a larger proportion of lime than is generally taken, for it is, even now, quite as compact and solid as limestone itself. This grave-yard is about half a mile south of Sheafferstown - one hundred yards east from the Lancaster road, and a few hundred yards south of "Thum-Berg" i.e. Tower-Hill - a hill on which William Henry Stiegel had erected a tower or castle, which will be noticed below. When this vicinity of Jewish settlement was pretty well populated, they left, and Germans of other denominations - Lutherans and German Reformed - settled here, among whom was Sheaffer, the proprietor of the present village.
Sheafferstown - laid out about the year 1745 or '46 - is a pleasant village, south-east of Lebanon, and contains about one hundred houses, several stores and taverns - a Lutheran church built in 1765, and a German Reformed one - both build of stone. The inhabitants are Germans. It was here, as well as at Manheim, that the eccentric Baron Stiegel figured strangely. He was a man of singular fortune - his vicissitudes in life were varied. In Europe he was a Baron - in America an iron master, glass manufacturer, a preacher, and a schoolmaster - now rich - then poor! In Sheafferstown, or hard by it, near the road to Lancaster, the spot on the hill, is still pointed out, where stood his tower, or castle, by those who saw the ruins of it - nothing is left to be seen of it now - which was built by the notorious German Baron.
Baron Stiegel was undoubtedly, with all his eccentricity, a man of much enterprise - of great skill in the arts and of singular taste, as is still manifest from the houe he erected in Manheim. The house is now occupied by Mr. John Arndt, of Manheim - and though Mr. Arndt has, in having the house materially altered, so changed it, as to leave nothing of the Baron's pulpit, in a large upper saloon, where the Baron, as preacher, addressed his hands, he had employed at the glass factory, stil much to excite admiration is to be seen. What remains of the internal, as decorations, has not its like in the United States. Its rich scenery painting, of falconry or hawking, on the side of the room walls - the tablets of China, curiously painted, the jambs, attract and excite the admiration of all who have the pleasure of spending a few moments with the effiable owner of the house. Though he was proprietor of Manheim, and had a fine chateau there, he resided mainly in Philadelphia with his family, but was occasionally in the habit of inviting his friends into the country with him, to enjoy his baronial hospitality. He had two of these towers or castles erected, one at Shefferstown, and another near Manheim - they were mounted with cannon, for the express purpose of firing a salute whenever he made his appearance in the county.
"This salute was the signal for his more intimate friends to repair to his castle, and enjoy with him the festivities of the occasion - and for all his workmen, at the furnaces and glass houses, to wash the dirt from their hands and faces, take up their musical instruments, and repair to the castle, to entertain their lord and his guest."
He lived beyond the competency of his means - he failed in business - was imprisoned for debt. A special act was passed for his relief, December 24, 1774, before the revolution of 1776 had cut "off his resources in Europe." It is said he died as an obscure schoolmaster. Sic transit Gloria hominis!
Newmanstown, which has been noticed (page 195) is on the border of this township on the road to Wommelsdorf. Heidelberg township is bounded on the north by Jackson township, and by Berks county on the east; south by Lancaster county and west by South Lebanon township. It contains thirty-six thousand acres of land, chiefly limestone, and generally well improved. The township has several streams, affording water power to propel mills. Muelbach or Mill creek, rises in the southern part of the township, and runs northward, and flows in Telpehocken creek. In the south-west in Hammer creek, a branch of the Conestoga. In 1840, this township contained six stores, one fulling mill, five grist mills, five saw mills, four tanneries and two distilleries. Population in 1830, 2,822; 1840, 2,827. Average tax valuation for 1844 $819,496 00; county tax $1,229 25.
Swatara township was originally included in Bethel and Hanover townships; its boundaries have been changed since 1830, by erecting Union township. On the east it joins Bethel; Union on the west, and Lebanon on the south. The surface is diversified; the north and south are hilly; the center level; soil, some of it limestone; the greater proportion gravel and slate, but generally well improved. It is well supplied with water, mills, &c. This township possesses many advantages worthy the attention of capitalists, as will be seen from the subjoined communication, addressed to the writer.
Jonestown, February 12, 1844
When here I promised to furnish you something touching our village, neighborhood, and surrounding country. This Promise, it is my intention, to redeem, though a press of secular engagements, has hitherto prevented me to give the subject the attention it deserves.
I shall begin with the early history of our place. Williamsburg - this is the name of our town, now usually called Jonestown, was laid out into lots by William Jones, about the year 1761. The tract of land on which the town is built, was originally granted, by warrant, dated the 13th December 1753, by the Honorable Proprietors, William Penn's sons, of Pennsylvania, to a Mr. Klein, who afterwards conveyed the same to William Jones.
Williamsburg or Jonestown is situated near the forks of the Big and Little Swatara, seven miles north-west of the town of Lebanon, and on the main road leading from Harrisburg to Easton, on the Delaware river; it is 24 miles east of Harrisburg and 77 from Easton; 32 from Lancaster; 31 from Reading, and 31 from both Pottsville and Orwigsburg, in Schuylkill county. The Big Swatara creek flows on the west of the town, and the Little Swatara on the south, at the base of Bunker Hill, and both unite within about one-fourth of a mile south-west of the town - thence, with accessions from a number of tributaries, flow unitedly onward, and empty into the Susquehanna river, near Middletown, Dauphin county.
When this region was first settled, and about the time when Williamsburg was laid out; and for some years afterwards, the Swatara was considered one of the richest waters for fish, for its size, in the Province of Pennsylvania. This stream teemed with the finny race - the scaly salmon, the lubric eel and eatfish, the coy shad, the slovenly mullet and sui generis - in short "fin of all sorts" were abundant. Even within the last forty years - about 1804, 5, 6 and 7 - five hundred shad were taken at a time, at the junction of the Swatara, with a common brush-net. These were the days of no dry fun for us boys.
So plenty were fish - and some so large, as the old settlers will have it, that they were speared with a three, and four-tined dung fork. But those sunny days for piscators and lovers of fishy fun, are past, and it is feared, will never return so long as the fish are prevented from paying their visits by the interposition of, the to them, insurmountable barriers; for numerous mill, and other dams, have been erected in the Swatara, between this and Middletown; and as it is generally believed, no made "as the law directs," if they were, the salmon and shad would not disdain the waters here. Times have changed. But water still, naturally, runs down stream, unless forced up!
But to return to the town. It contains one hundred dwelling houses, with a population of five hundred and eleven human souls. The inhabitants, with exception of a few, are Rank Germans, of Pennsylvania birth. We have - we speak in common, several churches; one Lutheran, one German Reformed, one Union meeting house, for all orderly and well disposed persons, of every denomination, but, at present, principally used as a place of worship by the United Brethren, and the Evangelical Association, sometimes called "Albrechts Luete".
To accommodate the town and neighborhood - we can accommodate - we have six stores, four public houses, an apothecary and of course a post office. Four school houses - no Academy yet - we expect one, if it should be raised on Bunker Hill! - Two of our school houses were built by individual subscriptions; and two by the public funds, collected by the Commonwealth, and paid over to us by the same authority. In these last, the common schools are taught under the law establishing that system. These two schools contain one hundred and sixty-five scholars, with two teachers, that is, one to each school. The crowd is so great that justice hides itself, and it is vain that parents look, that justice be done to all - we mean, to all the scholars and teachers.
For the pleasantness of situation, a salubrious air, and consequently for health, our place cannot be surpassed; it has also other advantages. The town is situated on elevated ground - it commands a prominent eminence. The streets are wife, intersecting at right angles. It is not alone the eligible site that gave rise and progress to Williamsburg.
What most contributed, was the navigation of the Swatara river, on which, from the time of the original settlements mad here, and especially form the time the town was laid out, a vast quantity of lumber of all kinds, boards, and other building materials were brought to our place in rafts, floated down the Swatara in the spring, and in the fall freshets of the year. This raft navigation was carried on till in August 1826, when the last rafts were landed. A stop was not put to it, in consequence of the Union Canal Company erecting a dam in the Swatara Gap, of immense altitude, for a dam; forty-five feet, is the height of it! This dam inundates about eight hundred acres of land; and the pond forms a complete artificial lake, and proves, occasionally, a death-place for some deer, which, to elude the chase of dogs, take to the deep and are there taken. There are still some deer in the mountains, not distant from the dam. The way hunters manage to take deer is, to set their dogs in pursuit of them, and during the chase, some of the party of the hunters do take stations near and along the pond or lake; when the deer are hotly pursued by the dogs, they make for the water, and thus are taken, in some cases alive, by the hunters.
The dam was constructed to serve as a reservoir, to feed the canal - it needs feeding, for it consumes much to keep all its functions moving - and also to answer as a slack water navigation, for the distance of six miles, towards Pine Grove, and the coal region. What changes! The tables have verily turned! Some years ago, lumber and building materials were floated down the Swatara to this place - now, similar materials are brought up, in boats, on the canal, from Middletown to our place, to Pine Grave, and intermediate places. The lumber brought down to Jonestown, formerly supplied all Tulpehocken, and the Muelbachers. These reverses to many.
We shall leave the water and the glen awhile, to ascend "Bunker Hill" - we don't mean "the theatre of the first regular battle between the Provincial and British troops, in the war of the Revolution." We too have a Bunker Hill, and also still amongst us, Revolutionary Soldiers. But, to Bunker Hill. The prominent and rupic eminence, one half mile south of the town is Bunker Hill. It is the highest point of the trap rock hills. The influence of these hills, says our friend Trego, Assistant State Geologist, has produced some curious and interesting modifications in the Geological features of the neighborhood. Basalt and jasper are found here. In "Bunker, is a cave, or singular cavern, large enough to admit four or five persons - a small council for emergencies. There is something curious, as well as grotesque, on and about this rocky chamber. There is a stone two feet square and three feet high in the center, which might have served as a table or altar, this is surrounded with seats of solid stone. In this cavern, tradition has it - internal evidence favors it - the Indians held councils. - The orderly arrangement of the massive furniture may have given rise to the tradition. It is well enough not to contradict so pleasing and so current a "Sage."
From the top of "Bunker," you have one of the most commanding prospects desirable. Place yourself on a rock - you have choice - look northward, you have a prospect, that presents a view of the coal regions through Swatara Gap, in the Kittinny Hills - in this view lies spread before you, and between the mountain and Jonestown, a fine region of country, of sixty or more square miles. The eye tires not to view the variegated scenes - finely improved farms, interspersed with woods, and dotted with houses and barns. Contemplate on the past. See in imagination the savage Indians, thirsting for blood, crossing at Swatara Gap, in pursuit of marked victims. But, turn from so resiling a subject - wend your face south - there rises in view, for miles in extent, a lovely country; view that while I tell you, that Bunker Hill also affords, to old and young, one of the most pleasant places of retreat and recreation in the summer season, and especially to the naturalist - here he can bontanize and mineralize, while the caroling of the songsters of the wood heighten, by their varied notes, his pleasures in examining this part of our neighborhood, as to it plants, minerals, et cetera.
This, no doubt, had been a great place of resort for the Indians, on account of the commanding view afforded them of the country, on either side of the hill. Hundreds of arrow-heads are still found here, and go far to strengthen the hypothesis, that this was a common place of resort for the Indians, in all seasons of the year. Passing, it might be stated, that near the Little Swatara, variegated marble is found.
Other advantages, not generally considered, are to be met with here. There are some superior advantages for manufacturing purposes. I would venture the prediction, to say: - "This place will some day become a manufacturing town." - We possess water power in abundance for all such purposes. - Where need be more for propelling machineries of all kinds? - The facilities to transport, by canal, all raw materials to, and, manufactured articles, from the place, are certainly not surpassed by any in Pennsylvania. Fuel, essentials to every one and at all times, is cheap and plenty, and can be readily supplied: the coal regions being not far distant. Capitalists and enterprising manufacturers, would do well to give this place a serious consideration. The investment would be more than "bank-sure."
Two miles above the Big Dam, in Swatara Gap, near the public road, is a beautiful cascade, which is confidently believed, is unsurpassed by any in the interior of the State. Four miles north of the cascade, on the summit of Sharp Mountain, is a prominent ledge of rupic projections, resembling very strikingly, at a distance, a group of houses; from the top of one of them, if you stand up there, you have a view of the Susquehanna Gap and Swatara Gap, where these streams, the former in its majesty rolls its way, and the latter sinuously steals through an opening in the Blue Mountain.
It is currently supposed - there is some ground for it - that the Indians were wont to build signal fires here; sort of telegraphs - for which Morse has a substitute - as they had a regular path from our neighborhood to Shamokin, which passed hard by this rupic town. These rocks are six miles north of Union Forge, where Jacob Weidler is always found, to hail and receive a friend. In the language of his favorite, Harrison, - "The latch string of his dorr is always hanging out."
Few only of our old settlers are living. Among them are the following: Peter Rank, my aged father; George Heilman, Martin Meiley, John Seltzer, and John Bickel, Esq., the post master. He has held the office since it was first established in 1802. Comment is not necessary to show his fidelity as a public officer. Col. Valentine Schaufier is an old inhabitant, but has not resided here as long as some of the afore-mentioned. - He is an aged man - ninety-two years old. He was a soldier in the revolutionarey army. I have heard the colonel often relate that, during the revolution of '76, he had been taken prisoner by the British, and afterwards deserted from them, and that he was obliged to swim several miles to effect his escape. This, said he, was near New York.
Five miles west from our town, Mr. Adam Harper settled himself, at an early period. His location was the most western in this county at that time. He was surrounded by Indians. They had a string of wigwams hard by his house. He kept the first public house in all this region of country. The place is still known as "Harper's tavern," on the Harrisburg road. Near this, in 1755 or 1756, the Indians killed five or six white persons, not half a mile from Harper's. A woman - a sister of Major Leidig - was scalped by the Indians, and incredible as it may appear to some, survived this barbarous act, and lived for years afterwards. This however, agrees with what you stated, when here last winter.
In conclusion - once more to our own place. All tradition says, when this place was first settled, it was notes as a place for horse racing, gambling, &c., &c. But at present - and for a number of years past - it has been, and is a very moral place. Vice and immorality have tunred their hideous faces t'other way. All we need now is a more general diffusion of knowledge, by means of Sabbath schools, schools of advanced standing, and preaching of the gospel in its purity and simplicity.
The thought has occurred to me that a well chosen site for an academy would be "Bunker Hill". Its advantages need no discussion. A trial would, undoubtedly, decide in its favor. I must close my epistle.
Believe me, I remain your friend,
Swatara township contained a population in 1830 of 1,510; in 1840, 1,056 - part of Union township having since been taken from it. Average tax valuation for 1844, $416,634,000; county tax, $624 96.
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