Chapter 1
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Historical Review of Dauphin County
Transcribed by Robert Demy for The Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project
Date of Transcription: 13 Oct 2000
Copyright (c) 2000 All Rights Reserved: Use, duplication or reproduction for profit or presentation by any person or organization is strictly prohibited.




The Early Settlers -- Scotch-Irish and German.

In a brief resume of the history of the county of Dauphin it is out of place to treat of the Aborigines and even of the early history of the state of Pennsylvania, save when some allusion to either may be deemed necessary. We proceed, therefore, to give an account of the settlement of the pioneers on the Susquehanna within the limits of our own county domain. The Founder of Pennsylvania is certainly deserving of grateful remembrance for his efforts to settle his Province, to protect the pioneers and to foster their industry and thrift. He was a remarkable man in many respects, and his "Frame of Government" is a model unequalled by the laws of any of the Colonies or Provinces. The "concessions" agreed upon in England for the encouragement of emigration to his Province was an important factor in that great movement which so materially assisted in building up this Western empire, and gave to the world the great State founded in peace. The inducements by Penn to settlers were not confined to right of soil or voice in government, but religious tolerance was guaranteed by him. The law of religious liberty as framed by him, and passed by the first Assembly at Chester on the 10th of December, 1682, was the first act of toleration ever given to any People in the history of nations.

Owing to this toleration on the part of the Proprietary of Pennsylvania, that Province became a refuge and home to the people of all creeds and religious beliefs. It is true that during the life time of the Founder liberty of conscience was not questioned, but at a later period, we regret to say, his religious adherents would have throttled tolerance had they not feared revolution.

The Scotch-Irish Immigration.

Following the advent of the Founder with his adherents, the Welsh and English Quakers, came the emigration of the German, Swiss and the Scotch-Irish, and it is proper in this place to give an account in brief of both these migrations, illustrative of the character of the people who first settled the county of Dauphin, and to whom after the lapse of over a century and a half it has risen to be one of the most thrifty, productive, enterprising and populous counties of the Commonwealth.

Of the coming of the Scotch-Irish, much has been said and written, and as the earliest settlers within the limits of the county of Dauphin belonged to these people, some account of this remarkable race is appropriate here. The question naturally arises, who were the Scotch-Irish? At the first it was used as a term of reproach, but to us it has become a synonym of enterprise, intelligence, patriotism and religious fervor.

It was during the reign of good Queen Bess -- the proud Elizabeth of all England -- that through treason, tyranny and rebellion, the Province of Ulster, especially the counties of Down, Londonderry, and Antrim, Ireland was reduced to the lowest extreme of poverty and wretchedness, while its moral and religious state was scarcely less deplorable.

Soon after the accession of James I., O'Neill, the Earl of Tyrone, and O'Donnell, the Earl of Tyrconnel, were falsely accused of having arranged a plot against the government. An accusation being at those times tantamount to a conviction, compelled those thus arraigned to fly the country, leaving their extensive estates (about five hundred thousand acres) at the mercy of the king, who at once confiscated them. A subsequent supposed threatened insurrection, promptly suppressed, gave occasion for another large forfeiture, and nearly six entire counties in the Province of Ulster were sequestrated and subjected to the disposal of the crown. Any country passing through such an ordeal of turbulence could not be otherwise than almost depopulated, with resources wasted and the cultivation of the soil in a great measure abandoned. And such was the true condition of Ulster. To repeople the country it was determined to invite the settlement of Protestants from England and Scotland, and hence liberal offers of land were made for colonists to occupy this wide and vacant country, the better to preserve order, to establish more firmly the British rule, and to secure loyalty. The project was easily embraced, companies were formed, and individuals without organization were tempted to partake of the advantageous offers of the government. A London company -- among the first to enter upon the new acquisition -- established itself at Derry, and gave such character to the place as to cause it to be known and called the city of Londonderry.

The principal emigration, however, was from Scotland. Its coast is within twenty miles from the county of Antrim, Ireland, and across this strait flowed from the northeast a large population, distinguished for thrift, industry and endurance, and bringing with them their Presbyterianism and rigid adherence to the Westminster standards. This was the first Protestant population that was introduced into Ireland, and the Presbyterians of Scotland who thus furnished the largest element have maintained their ascendancy to the present day against all the persevering efforts of the government church.

The Province of Ulster, in consequence of this influx of population, greatly revived and continued for some years to advance in prosperity. In time the throne of England was controlled by bigotry and despotism. Persecutions of an oppressive nature began in Ulster in 1661, and every expedient was tried to break down the attachment of the people to the faith of their fathers; yet, as is ever the case, persecution only attached the people the stronger to Presbyterianism.

From Ireland the tide of persecution rolled to Scotland. The latter Stuarts, -- Charles II. and James II. -- blind to the dictates of justice and humanity, pursued a system of measures best calculated to wean from their support their Presbyterian subjects who were bound to them by national prejudice and had been most devoted to their kingly cause, and to whose assistance Charles II. owed his restoration to the throne. Sir James Grahame, better known as Claverhouse, was sent to Scotland with his dragoons upon the mistaken mission of compelling the Presbyterians to conform in their religious worship to that of the establishment: and from 1670 until the accession of William and Mary the Covenanters of Scotland worshiped in hidden places and at the peril of their lives.

The attempts of the Stuarts to destroy the religious system so universally established and so dearly cherished by that devoted people was steadily pursued by persecution as cruel and as savage as any which have disgraced the annals of religious bigotry and crime. Many were treacherously and ruthlessly butchered, and the ministers were prohibited, under severe penalties, from preaching, baptizing or ministering in any way to their flocks.

There are some matters connected with these persecutions which may not be uninteresting. From 1660 to 1688 no less than eighteen thousand Scotch Presbyterians were put to death in various ways in defense of the solemn league and covenant and Christ's headship over the Church. In looking over the list of names one is forcibly struck with the fact that among them are the very surnames of the Scotch-Irish emigrants to this section of Pennsylvania -- Allison, Stewart, Gray, Thompson, Murray, Robinson, Rutherford, McCormick, Mitchell, Kerr, Todd, Beatty, Johnston, Hamilton, Finley, McCord. McEwen, Hall, Boyd, Clark, Sloan, Elder, Forster, Montgomery, Robertson and others. It would thus seem that we have here the lineal descendants of those who loved not their lives unto the death, but were drowned, hanged, shot, beheaded, and their heads stuck upon holes, their bodies chopped in pieces and scattered about, in the days of that human monster, Claverhouse. Through their blood shed in defense of religious liberty we enjoy many and great privileges.

Worn out with the unequal contest, these persistent and enduring Presbyterians took refuge from persecution -- abandoned the land of their birth -- and sought an asylum among their countrymen who had preceded them in the secure retreats of Ulster, and thither they escaped as best they could, some crossing the narrow sea in open boats. They carried their household gods with them, and their religious peculiarities became more dear in their land of exile for the dangers and sorrows through which they had borne them.

This is the race which furnished the population in the north of Ireland, familiarly known as the Scotch-Irish. This term -- American in its origin, and unknown in Ireland -- does not denote an admixture of the Scotch and Irish races. The one did not intermarry with the other. The Scotch were principally Saxon in blood and Presbyterian in religion: the native Irish Celtic in blood and Roman Catholic in religion; and these were elements which could not very readily coalesce. Hence the races are as distinct in Ireland at the present day as when the Scotch first took up their abode in that island. They were called Scotch-Irish simply from the circumstances that they were the descendants of Scots who had taken up their residence is the north of Ireland.

Taxation and oppression, however, with difficulties partly political, partly religious, no doubt were the strong motives which one hundred and eighty years ago induced the Scotch-Irish to leave Ireland. It was not the home of their ancestors, it was endeared to them by no traditions, and they sought and obtained in the wilds of Pennsylvania a better home than they had in the Old World.

Extensive emigration front the northern counties of Ireland were principally made at two distinct periods of time. The first from about the year 1717 to the middle of the century, the second from about 1771 to 1773. They wore Protestants, generally Presbyterians -- few or none of the Roman Catholic Irish came until after the war of the Revolution, and few then until after the great political upheaval in 1798, since which period, as we all knew, the flow of the latter class of immigrants has been one continuous stream.

The Scotch-Irish emigrants landed principally at New Castle and Philadelphia, save a handful who had settled on the Kennebec in Maine, and of these the greater portion eventually came into Pennsylvania. Settling on the frontiers from Easton to the Susquehanna and the Potomac, the stream of immigration continued south to Virginia and the Carolinas.

The country north of the Swatara had not been visited save by French traders prior to the coming of William Penn. After his first visit he seems to have been well informed concerning this locality, and personally visited it, and at or above the mouth of the Swatara decided to locate a city, and proposals were consequently issued therefor in 1690. It is easily understood why the project was never carried out. The careful reader of Pennsylvania history will readily comprehend the peculiar conditions surrounding the founder. The government of his Province was giving him serious concern. The material composing his Assembly was of that stubborn, self-willed character that little could be done, and he had as much as he could do in the preservation and fostering of those enterprises he had already begun.


The Early German Settlers.


The origin of the German-Swiss population in Pennsylvania dates back to the latter part of the seventeenth century. As early as 1684, Francis Daniel Pastorius, of whom the poet Whittier has sung so sweetly, with a colony of Germans settled and laid out Germantown near to the Metropolis. These came from Cresheum, Germany, and were in religious opinions and proclivities allied to the Quakers. Other colonists followed, settling in different parts of the Province. It was not, however, until the years 1709 and 1710 that the emigration of the Germans was of any magnitude. For two or three years previous Queen Anne, of England, gave refuge to thousands of the Palatinates, who, oppressed by the exactions of the French, were forced to flee from their homes. It is stated that in the month of July, 1709, there arrived at London six thousand five hundred and twenty German Protestants. Transportation was gratuitously given many to America through the aid of the Queen and the government of England. The vast majority were sent at first to New York, from whence many reached the confines of Pennsylvania, a province the laws of which were more tolerant than those of any of the new colonies. Among these German emigrants were Mennonites, Dunkards, German Reformed and Lutherans. Their number was so great during the subsequent years that James Logan, secretary to the Proprietary, wrote, "We have of late great numbers of Palatines poured in upon us without any recommendation or notice which gives the country some uneasiness, for foreigners do not so well among us as our own English people." Two years afterwards Jonathan Dickinson remarks, "We are daily expecting ships from London which bring over Palatines in number about six or seven thousand. We had a parcel who came out about five years ago, who purchased land about sixty miles from Philadelphia and proved quiet and industrious. Some few came from Ireland lately, and more are expected thence. This is besides our common supply from Wales and England. Our friends do increase mightily, and a great people there is in the wilderness which is fast becoming a fruitful field."

These emigrants settled principally in Montgomery, Bucks and Lancaster counties, the latter including the present counties of Dauphin and Lebanon. They were well educated, and brought with them their ministers and school-masters; the latter very frequently, when there was a want of supply of the former, read sermons and prayers.

Between the years 1720 and 1725 a large number of Germans, who had previously settled in Schoharie county, N. Y., descended the Susquehanna river on rafts to the mouth of' the Swatara, ascending which stream, already settled by the Scotch-Irish, they took up their abode near the waters of the Tulpehocken, partly in Berks county, some few miles within the present limits of Lebanon county. The celebrated Conrad Weiser was of this party of colonists

From 1725, for a period of ten years, there was another great influx of Germans of various religious opinions -- Reformed, Lutherans, Moravians, Swenkfelders and Roman Catholics. By a letter of Secretary James Logan, in 1725, it appears that many of these settlers were not over-scrupulous in their compliance with the regulations of the land office. He says, and perchance with much truth, "They come in in crowds, and as bold, indigent strangers from Germany, where many of them have been soldiers. A11 these go on the best vacant tracts and seize upon them as places of common spoil." He again says, "They rarely approach the on their arrival to propose to purchase;" and adds, "when they are sought out and challenged for their right of occupancy they allege it was published in Europe that we wanted and solicited for colonists, and had a superabundance of land, and therefore they had come without the means to pay." In fact, those who thus "squatted" without titles acquired enough by their thrift in a few years to pay for the land which they had thus occupied, and so, generally, they were left unmolested. Secretary Logan further states, "Many of them are Papists -- the men well armed, and as a body a warlike, morose race." In 1727 lie writes: "About six thousand Germans more are expected (and also many from Ireland), and these emigrations" he "hopes may be prevented in the future by act of Parliament, else these Colonies will in time be lost to the Crown." The italics in the last sentence are our own. To us it seems like a prophecy.

From 17:35 to 1752 emigrants came into the Province by thousands. In the autumn of 1749 not less than twenty vessels with German passengers to the number of twelve thousand arrived at Philadelphia. In 1750, 1751 and 1752 the number was not much less. Among those who emigrated during these years were many who bitterly lamented having forsaken their native land for the Province of Pennsylvania. At that time there was a class of Germans who had resided some time in Pennsylvania, well known by the name of Neulander, who, acting in the capacity of agents for certain firms -- prominent Quakers of Philadelphia -- went to Germany and Switzerland, prevailing on their countrymen to sacrifice their property and emigrate to Pennsylvania. Many persons in easy circumstances at home were induced to embark for America. False representation were made, lands were offered for the settling thereon, a nominal charge was to be made for the passage on ship-board, and every incentive employed by these nefarious agents to beguile the unsuspecting.

Of the horrors and privations of that six or eight weeks on ship-board we shall not refer, the bare recital of which is terrible to contemplate even at this late day. The condition of these emigrants on their arrival was absolutely wretched. The exactions of the masters of the vessels, the plundering of their baggage by these unscrupulous pirates, placed them at the tender mercy of the Quaker merchants who purchased the entire cargo of living freight as a speculation, such being the object in sending out their agents; and men, women, and children were thus sold at auction for a term of years to the highest and best bidder. It was white slavery, and those concerned considered that it paid them better than negro slavery. We have recently examined some records which throw additional light upon this subject of German emigration, and prove conclusively that for years this nefarious traffic was carried on. This statement is not flattering to Pennsylvania and her history, it is true, but the people at large or the government were not wholly responsible for the acts of those who insisted upon their "pound of flesh." The persons thus disposed of were termed redemptioners. They were usually sold at ten pounds for from three to five years' servitude; and in almost every instance the time for which they were sold was honestly served out, while many subsequently, by dint of industry and frugality, rose to positions of wealth and importance in the State and Nation.

In later times, say from 1753 to 1756, the Germans haying become numerous and therefore powerful as "make-weights" in the political balance were much noticed in the publications of the day, and were at that period in general in very hearty co-operation with the Quakers then in rule in the Assembly. From that time onward, although not so numerous, almost all the German emigrants to America. located in Pennsylvania.

A manuscript pamphlet in the Franklin Library at Philadelphia, said to have been written by Samuel Wharton in 1755, contains certain facts which are worthy of reproduction in this connection, slowing, as it does, their influence in the Province, whether fancied or actual we do not say. "The party on the side of the Friends," says the writer, "derived much of their influence over the Germans, through the aid of Christopher Sauer, who published a German paper in Germantown as early as 1729, and which, being much read by that people, influenced them to the side of the Friends and hostile to the Governor and Council. Through this means they have persuaded them that there was a design to enslave them, to enforce their young men, by a contemplated militia law, to become soldiers, and to load them down with taxes, etc., from such causes," he adds, "have they come down in shoals to vote, and carrying all before them." "To this I may add," says Watson, "that I have heard from the Norris family that their ancestors in the Assembly were warmly patronized by the Germans in union with Friends. His alarm at this German influence at the polls, and his proposed remedies for the then dreaded evils, as they show the prevalent feelings of his associates in politics, may serve to amuse the present generation. He says the best effects of these successes of the Germans will probably be felt through many generations! Instead of a peaceable, industrious people as before, they are grown now insolent, sullen and turbulent, in some counties threatening even the lives of all those who oppose their views, because they are taught to regard government and slavery as one and the same thing. All who are not of their party they call 'Governor's men,' and themselves they deem strong enough to make the country their own! Indeed, they come in such force, say upwards of five thousand in the last year, I see not but they may soon be able to give us law and language, too, or else, by joining the French, eject all the English. That this may be the case is too much to be feared, for almost to a man they refused to bear arms in the time of the late war, and they say it is all one to them which king gets the country, as their estates will be equally secure. Indeed it is clear that the French have turned their hopes upon this great body of Germans. They hope to allure them by grants of Ohio lands. To this end they send their Jesuitical emissaries among them to persuade them over to the Popish religion. In concert with this the French for so many years have encroached on our Province, and are now so near their scheme as to be within two days' march of some of our back settlements," alluding, of course, to the state of the western country, overrun by French and Indians just before the arrival of Braddock's forces in Virginia in 1755.

The writer imputes their wrong bias in general to their "stubborn genius and ignorance," which he proposes to soften by education; "a scheme still suggested as necessary to give the general mass of the inland country Germans right views of public individual interests. To this end he proposes that faithful Protestant ministers and school-masters should be supported among them; that their children should be taught the English tongue; the government in the mean time should suspend their right of voting for members of Assembly, and to incline them the sooner to become English in education and feeling, we should compel them to make all bonds and other legal writings in English, and no newspaper or almanac be circulated among them unless also accompanied by the English thereof." "Finally," he concludes, "without some such measure I see nothing to prevent this Province from falling into the hands of the French." A scheme to educate the Germans as the one alluded to was put on foot in 1755, and carried on for several years, but really with little good results. The German settlers appreciated education, for they brought their ministers and school-masters with them, and there were few who could not read or write. They could write their names, and as great a proportion as their English neighbors, the Quakers. The difficulty was not alone to educate them in the English tongue, but for the English Church. That they did not take kindly to, and after the lapse of a century and a quarter in many localities there is the same objection to the "scheme of 1755." This matter has been wrongly construed to the detriment of the German settlers, they fostered education, but they did not approve being taught the English vernacular.

While upon this subject of the early settlement, it may as well be stated that the Pennsylvania Germans are not the descendants of the Hessians, who sere brought to America by the British government to put down the rebellion of 1776, as has repeatedly been charged by New England historians. This statement is as impudent as it is false. All of the German "Mercenaries," as they are called, who were prisoners of war and stationed in Pennsylvania, according to Baron Reidesel, who was one of the commanders, were properly accounted for, and were returned to their own country upon the evacuation of New York by the British. They did not remain; as it was a condition entered into by the English government with the Landgrave of Brunswick, the Duke of Hesse-Cassel, and the petty princes of Hanau and Waldeck, that a certain price was to be paid for every man killed, wounded or missing. Before the official proclamation of peace the Hessian prisoners were on their way to New York, by direction of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania. Some few deserted, and some eventually returned to America after their transportation to Germany, but the bold assertion that the origin of the large German population of Pennsylvania is due to the settlement of those hired mercenaries of England cannot be supported, and shows the profoundest historical ignorance and audacious stupidity.

Pennsylvania took the lead of the Colonies in agriculture because of the great number of Germans settling in the Province; and Governor Thomas, as early as 1738, wrote, "This Province has been for some years the asylum of the distressed Protestants of the Palatinate and other parts of Germany, and I believe it may with truth be said that the present flourishing condition of it is in a great measure owing to the industry of those people -- it is not altogether the goodness of the soil, but the number and industry of the people that make a flourishing Colony" (Col. Rec. iv p. 313). The exportation of farm products kept pace with the increase of the population. In 1751 there were exported 86,000 bushels of wheat, 129,960 barrels of flour, 90,743 bushels of Indian corn. The total exports of 1761 exceeded $1,000,000 in value. This was a period when the entire population did not exceed 180,000, whereof nearly one-half were Germans.

That the Germans of Pennsylvania have been so uniformly successful in acquiring wealth is due to their industry, to their thrift and to their knowledge of agricultural pursuits. If some portions of Pennsylvania are the garden-spots of America they have been made so by the Germans who have tilled them -- who have indeed "made the wilderness to blossom as the rose." Not anywhere in the New England States, in New York nor in the South are farms so well tilled, so highly cultivated as in the sections of Pennsylvania where the descendants of the Germans predominate; and we assert, without fear of contradiction, that more works on agriculture, more papers devoted to farming, are taken and read by the so-called "Pennsylvania Dutch" farmers than by the farmers of any other section of the Union. That our German citizens are not "content to live in huts" is palpably certain, and whoever will go into the homes of our farmers will find evidence of both refinement and culture, their farms being easily distinguished from those of others by the great fences, the extent of the orchard, the fertility of the soil, the productiveness of the fields, the luxuriance of the meadows, the superiority of his horse, which seems to feel with his owner the pleasure of good living. And although their barns are capacious, because their dwellings are not castles, they should not be accused of indifference to their own domiciles. At the present time it is rare to find a farm-house in the old German settlements that does not contain a double parlor, sitting-room, dining-room, kitchen and outkitchen, with six or eight bed-rooms. This is more general in the counties of Berks, Lancaster, Lebanon, Dauphin and Cumberland than among the New England settled counties of the North and West -- the Quaker counties of Chester and Bucks in Pennsylvania -- and to go to New England, the latter are not to be mentioned in comparison.

Of the Pennsylvania German language or idiom, which is the vernacular of the greater portion of the people of this section of the State, especially in the farming districts, we will not speak, except to state that, at the present time, there are few persons speaking this patois who are unable also to speak and read English. Those who are not conversant with English are of recent importation from the Fatherland. Because the Dunkards and other religious bodies retain the peculiar views of their ancestors they are accused of being unprogressive, of preserving the customs and general characteristics of the race, which is far from the truth. Next to the Scotch-Irish no race has left such a high and lofty impress upon this Nation as has the German. There is less ignorance and superstition in the German counties of Pennsylvania than will be found in any agricultural region East, West, North or South. Because some old plodding farmer, who prefers remaining on his farm attending to his cattle and grain, caring little of going beyond the county town in his visits, his disinclination ought not to be reputed to either his ignorance or to his being close-fisted. In the German counties one rarely meets with an individual who has never been "to town," and we venture an opinion that both in the New England States and in New York are there many persons who have never visited the county seat; and as for visiting Boston and New York City, where one farmer has visited either metropolis, we assert that two Pennsylvania German farmers have seen their own city of Philadelphia.

German opposition to common schools has been a terrible bugaboo to very many outside of Pennsylvania, who never understood the occasion of it. Foremost among the opponents of the free-school system were the Quakers, the opposition arising from the fact that, having had schools established for many years, supported by their own contributions, they were opposed to being taxed for the educational maintenance of others. Precisely similar were the objections in the German districts. As has already been accurately stated, the German emigrants brought their school-masters with them, and schools were kept and supported by them. More frequently the church pastor served as teacher, and hence, when the proposition came to establish, the system of public education, the people were not prepared for it, for the free schools severed education from positive religion. But that was nearly sixty years ago, and, to the credit and honor of the German element in Pennsylvania, Governor George Wolf, the father of the free-school system, and Governor Joseph Ritner and William Audenreid, the earnest advocates of the same, were of German decent. The opposition died away in a few years, and a glance at the school statistics of Pennsylvania would open the eves of our New England friends and astonish the descendants of Diedrick Knickerbocker. The present system and management of public education in our State is in the lead in the Union, and figures and facts will bear us out in our assertion.

As a general thing the first settlers were staid farmers. Their mutual wants produced mutual dependence, hence they were kind and friendly to each other -- they were ever hospitable to strangers. Their want of money in the early times made it necessary for them to associate for the purpose of building houses, cutting their grain, etc. This they did in turn for each other without any other pay than the pleasures which usually attended a country frolic. Strictly speaking, what is attributed to them as virtues might be called good qualities, arising from necessity and the peculiar state of society in which these people lived -- patience, industry and temperance.