An American Family History

  click here for St. John's Towamensing Union Church Records  
A blockhouse or garrison house is a small, isolated fort. The typical blockhouse was two stories with the second story overhanging the first. It had small openings to allow residents to shoot attackers without being exposed.
An early American tavern (or ordinary) was an important meeting place and they were strictly supervised. Innkeepers were respectable members of the community. Taverns offered food and drink. An inn also offered accommodation.
The Homestead Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on May 20, 1862. It gave an applicant 160 acres of undeveloped land outside of the original colonies. Anyone who had never taken up arms against the United States could file an application. They had to live on the land and make improvements to receive title.

By Col. John Craig
Pages 760 to 768 

Early Settlements, —The families of Boyer, Bauman or Bowman, Mehrkem, and Strohl are the only ones of the early families whose descendants are today residents of the township....

The first mention of one who settled within the present limits is in court records of Northampton County, of the October term of 1752, when Nicholas Opplinger was appointed constable. Mention is again made of him by Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to Governor Morris, dated Fort Allen, Jan 26, 1756, who says, speaking of the march of the troops from Bethlehem to Gnadenhütten, where they erected a fort,

We marched cautiously through the gap of the mountain, a very dangerous pass, and got to Uplinger’s (Opplinger), but twenty miles from Bethlehem. . . .  There were no habitations on the road to shelter us until we arrived near at the house of a German, where and on his farm we were all huddled together. . . .  The next day being fair we continued our march, and arrived at the desolate Gnadenhütten....

The Christian name of the Boyer who came to this township, with his wife and two of three children, before 1755, is not known.  He had taken up a tract of land now owned by Josiah Arner, James Ziegenfuss, and George Kunkle.  At this farm they were living in 1755, when the Indian troubles commenced. The family had gathered with other families at the place now occupied by Charles Straub, where a block-house was erected for protection. How many families, or who they were, with the exception of the Boyers, is not known.  No traditions are among the Mehrkems or Baumans that their families were gathered in the block-house at the time the Boyers were there. Mrs. Nicholas D. Strohl, a granddaughter of Frederick Boyer, was brought up in her grandfather’s family, and relates that while the families were at the block-house, Mr. Boyer, one morning, went up to the farm with his son, Frederick [Boyer], then thirteen years of age, and the other children, to attend to the crops. Mr. Boyer was plowing and Fred was hoeing potatoes, while the children were in the house or playing near by. Without any warning they were surprised by the appearance of Indians. Mr. Boyer first ran towards the house. Finding he could not reach it he ran for the creek, and was shot through the head as he reached the farther side. Fred had escaped to the wheat-field, but was captured and brought back. The Indians scalped his father in his presence. They took the horses from the plow, his sisters and himself, and started for Stone Hill, in the rear of the house.  After reaching the level land on the top they were joined by another party of Indians and marched northward to Canada.  The sisters, in the march, were separated from their brother and were never afterwards heard from. Frederick was a prisoner with the French and Indians in Canada for five years, and was then sent to Philadelphia.  Nothing was ever learned of the fate of Mrs. Boyer or of the other families who remained at the block-house.

After reaching Philadelphia, Frederick made his way to Lehigh Gap and took possession of the farm. Soon after his return he married a daughter of Conrad Mehrkem, then living in the township.  They had four sons –John, George, Henry, and Andrew—and four daughters, Mary (Mrs. Joseph Buck), Susan (Mrs. Hess), Elizabeth (Mrs. Leonard Beltz), and Catharine (Mrs. Andrew Ziegenfuss and Mrs. Lenhart). Frederick Boyer died Oct. 31, 1832, aged eighty-nine years. It is stated on his tombstone that he was born in 1732. This is evidently a mistake, as it is admitted he was but a lad when he as captured. There were no troubles with the Indians prior to 1755, when the defeat of Braddock took place and the Indians were incited to deeds of violence.

In the year 1822 the Boyer farm was divided by Frederick Boyer between the sons and Mrs. Andrew Ziegenfuss.

John Boyer, The eldest, married Elizabeth Snyder [Schneider], a daughter of one of the family who lived at or near the Gap. His son Daniel resides in the township, and Jacob lives at Weissport.

George [Boyer] was born in 1768, and died in 1861, aged ninety-three years. He married Christiana Klein and settled on the homestead. His sons, Adam and William, live in the township, and Jacob resides in Franklin Township.

Henry [Boyer] married Magdalena Strohl and settled on part of the homestead. Of their sons, Henry resides at Weissport and Joseph and Reuben live in Franklin Township.

Andrew [Boyer] married Mary Greensweig and settled at Little Gap. Of his sons, John, the eldest, emigrated to the West, Andrew, Daniel and Frederick settled in the township, as did also Mrs. Buck, a daughter.

Andrew Ziegenfuss, with his wife, settled on that part of the homestead left her by her father.  James Ziegenfuss, their son, now lives on the place. 

Another daughter of Frederick married Peter Lenhart; their daughter became the wife of Nicholas D. Strohl.  She is how living at an advanced age.

Conrad Mehrkem was living in the township before 1763, as in that year he was appointed constable of Towamensing. He lived in the western part of the township. In the assessment-roll of 1781 Conrad Mehrkem is assessed on real estate, and Jacob appears a single man. His sons were Jacob and Abraham. A daughter married Frederick Boyer, soon after his return from Canada in 1761. They settled on the Boyer farm.

Jacob [Mehrkem] married a Miss Smith, by whom he had two sons, Jacob and Conrad, and five daughters. One married a Nicholas Box, who owned real estate in 1781; Susan and Kate remained unmarried; Mary became the wife of Mr. Heimbach. Jacob settled at or near Little Gap, where he died, leaving a widow and children. 

Christian Mehrkem, living on the old farm, is a son of Jacob.

Conrad [Mehrkem], a son of Jacob, and brother of Jacob, married Christina Greensweig, daughter of David Greensweig, and settled on the old place.  He died at the age of seventy-eight years. His widow, now ninety-two years of age, is living at Bowmansville. Adam Mehrkem, of Millport, is a son

Gottfried Greensweig was a resident of the township before 1781. His sons were Jonas, Henry, David, Tobias, Gottfried, and Jonathan. With the exception of Jonathan, who emigrated to the West, they all settled in this and adjoining townships. Mrs. Conrad Mehrkem and John Greensweig, father of Benjamin Greensweig, of Towamensing, were children of David Greensweig.

The first of the family of Strohl of which anything definite has been obtained is the appointment of Peter Strohl as constable of Towamensing in 1764. On the 30th of October 1765, Peter Strohl took out a warrant for two hundred and forty-six acres of land, now owned by Reuben Ziegenfuss, Oscar Kern, Jeremiah Kern, Levi Straub, Wilson Mushlitz, John Craig, and the congregation of St. John’s Lutheran and German Reformed Church. In 1781, the names of Peter, Michael, Elizabeth, and Daniel Strohl [married Daniel Strohl & Barbara Borger] appear on the assessment roll as owning real estate. Nicholas Strohl, who died in 1875, at seventy-four years of age, was the father of thirty children, twenty-three of whom were living at the time.

Very soon after 1781 two brothers, Jacob and Nicholas Snyder [Schneider], came into possession of three hundred and ten acres of land on the mineral spring laid down in Scull’s map of 1759.1...On the 19th of November. 1807, a deed of partition was made by the brothers, Nicholas and Jacob, and the land was divided. 

Jacob [Schneider (Snyder)] married the daughter of Henry Bauman, and in the division took the property on the creek, including the mill, and lived at the mill and kept it until his death, in 1813, aged fifty-three years. He left seven children,--Daniel, Mary C. (Mrs. John Kuntz), Jacob, John, Stephen, Simon, and Solomon.

Daniel [Schneider (Synder)], the eldest, was born in 1794, and emigrated to the West. Jacob married a daughter of Henry Bauman, lived at the mill about thirty years, and moved farther up the road, where he built a stone house. He became interested in the Evangelical Association, was prominent in the organization of the society, and building of the church in 1844. He became a local preacher in the Association, and later in life moved to Parryville, where he died. Stephen now resides at Parryville. Solomon, the youngest son, owns the mill property and lives there.

Nicholas Schneider (Snyder) was born in 1830 in Diedendorf, Alsace. His father Nicholas came to America on the Robert and Alice. He married Elizabeth Oblinger. Their children were Susanna Snyder (1757), Nicholas Snyder (1759), Henry Snyder (1763), Peter Snyder (1764), and Frederick Snyder (1766).]

The spring property was bought by James Rutherford of Stephen Snyder [Schneider]. Nicholas Snyder, who has a portion of the property, bought from his brother’s three sons, --Peter, Nicholas, and Jacob. Nicholas and Jacob removed to Crawford County, Pa.; Peter [Schneider (Snyder)] settled here, and had children, none of whom are in the township.  Lewis, a grandson of Peter, resides in Bethlehem.

The date of settlement of the Baumans is unknown. Honstetter Bauman is a name found in an old draft as owning land that in 1791 belonged to Bernard Bauman. In 1781 the name of Henry Bauman appears. On the 22nd of May, 1788, Bernard Barman took a warrant for one hundred acres of land at Lehigh Gap. On the 18th of November, 1808, he sold thirty acres of the tract to Joseph Bauman, who built the stone tavern at the Gap, and lived there until 1814, and on the 15th of March in that year he sold it to Thomas Craig, in whose possession and that of his descendants it has been retained to the present.

In an old draft it is mentioned that the Snyders were in possession of this tract, but it does not appear that they warranted the tract.

Nothing is known of who were the descendants of Honstetter, Bernard or Joseph Bauman. Henry Bauman, supposed to be a brother of Bernard, had two sons, John D. and Henry Bowman.

In the year 1806, George Ziegenfuss, a miller by trade, came to Aquashicola Creek and built there a mill, around which grew up the village of Millport.  He lived at the place the remainder of his days, and left seven sons, --John, Daniel, George, David, Simon, Charles, and Samuel. John remained on the farm at Millport, and died in 1869. Daniel located in Philadelphia, and late went to Mexico. Samuel became connected with the Ashland Forge and Furnace, under Joseph J. Albright, and remained there till 1872, the former having been long discontinued. From that time Samuel Ziegenfuss has resided in Millport. The other sons of George Ziegenfuss went to other parts.

Bowmansville, Pennsylvania is in Brecknock Township in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
European and indiginous American fought fierce battles as the Europeans expanded their territory.
During the Indian wars, some colonists were taken captive. They were killed, ransomed, or adopted into the tribe.


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©Roberta Tuller 2020
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