Tuesday, August 13, 2019

America's First Amish Bishop

Google Image
My daughter-in-law Melissa Murphy Oliver has a 9th great-grandfather who was the first Amish bishop in America:  Jacob “Jakob” Hertzler (1703-1786). An Amish bishop “is the head of the individual church district, and is responsible for administering discipline, ordaining new ministry, baptizing, and marrying new members.”

The last name of Hertzler is commonly associated with being German. However, the geographic area where Jacob was born (Baden-Württemberg) spoke a Swiss-German dialect. And, Baden-Württemberg is located near the boundaries of Switzerland, Germany, and France.  Modern sources state Jacob Hertzler was born in Switzerland of Swiss parents. Jacob’s parents were probably Amish in that the history of the Amish church began in Switzerland. The beginning of the Amish church was a result of a schism within a group of Swiss and Alsatian Anabaptists in 1693 led by Jakob Ammann whose followers became known as Amish. 

Google Image
Jacob married twice. The name of his first wife is unknown. After her death, he married Catherine Knegy/Ruegy (1713-1773) with whom he had three children. Jacob and his family moved from Switzerland to the Palatinate (a province in northeast France), sometimes referred to as the Rhineland Palatinate. You will note on the map that this area is not that far from his hometown of Baden-Württemberg.

After being in France for only a few years, the Hertzlers decided to leave France for America due to religious persecution.  In 1749, the family booked passage on the ship “St. Andrew,” leaving from Rotterdam, Holland, stopping in Plymouth, England, and arriving at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 9 September 1749. The six-week trip would take place in a small wooden ship. The voyage would not have been easy or pleasant. A passenger on a similar ship in 1750 described the voyage as follows:

“During the voyage there is on board these ships terrible misery, stench, fumes, horror, vomiting,
1750s sailing ship - Google images
many kinds of sickness, fever, dysentery, headache, heat, constipation, boils, scurvy, cancer, mouth rot, and the like, all of which come from old and sharply-salted food and meat, also from very bad and foul water, so that many die miserably.”

Amazingly, Jacob and his family survived the trip; and, upon arrival in Philadelphia, they headed to Northkill Creek, northwest of Philadelphia. As early as 1740, the Amish had established a settlement in the Northkill Watershed area in eastern Pennsylvania.  Having been ordained in Switzerland, Hertzler became this Amish community’s first pastor and bishop. 

In 1750 Jacob purchased over 182 acres from Richard and Thomas Penn about 10 miles northeast of Northkill Creek.  Over the years he purchased additional land, eventually having a tract of land of 404 acres and 4 perches (one perche = 5.5 yards). He cleared the timbered land, farmed, and named it Contentment. Today this property is located in Upper Berne Township in Berks County.
Google image
In 1757, an Indian massacre took place at Northkill Creek, and the town was abandoned. Many of the residents migrated to Lancaster, Mifflin, Somerset, and Union Counties, Pennsylvania. However, the Hertzlers, Jacob and Catherine stayed on their farm and eventually divided the land among their children.

An interesting side note about Jacob has to do with the “oath of allegiance.” When Jacob arrived in Philadelphia on September 9, 1749, he took the oath of allegiance (presumably to support the King of England, which was common at that time before the Revolution). An oath of allegiance is an oath where one acknowledges a duty of allegiance and swears loyalty to a monarch or a country. However, in 1778, he refused to take an oath of allegiance. Here is the text from Berks County court decision about his refusal to take the oath:

“Receive into your Custody the within Named who was brought before us to take and subscribe the oath or affirmation of allegiance and he did refuse and still refuse to take the same and safely keep for the space of three months from the day of the date hereof given under our hands and seals sixth day of July 1778. /s/ Charles Shoemaker, Justice

Jacob was fined 18 schillings and 4 pence. I have not been able to find out whether that oath was for Pennsylvania or for the “United Colonies.” Keep in mind, the United States of America did not officially exist until 21 June 1788.

Sample 1770 Oath of Allegiance - Google image
Sample 1777 Oath of Allegiance - Google image

Jacob and Catherine Hertzler are both buried in the Amish Congregation Burying Ground adjacent to what was his homestead. Though there are very old tombstones in the small cemetery, there are none for either Jacob or Catherine.
Burying Ground
About seven miles east of the former Northkill Creek community, there are memorial markers/memorial to both the community and Jacob Hertzler. In fact, his original home, still stands today and is occupied. The marker by the homestead labels the spot as “Contentment.” 
Hertzler Homestead - picture from Blog "Scribbler: Local Tourist"
It is hoped that Jacob and his family, by emigrating to this country, did, indeed, find contentment.

For sources and additional reading:

Friday, June 14, 2019

Fathers Who Fish

What is it that attracts people to fishing? Is it the thrill of the chase, catching a meal, or just relaxing? I, myself, have never really been attracted to fishing, but the men (and one granddaughter) in my family love to fish.
My father, Frank George Newhouse (1906-1972); my brother, Douglas Frank Newhouse (1948-2003); my son, Patrick Alan Oliver, and his children Daniel, Tyler, and Ashleigh were or are fishing enthusiasts.
My dad, Frank, was not a hunter – except for game birds – but he did fish. He did not camp out in the wild; but, if there was a resort cabin near a fishing lake, river, or stream, he was all gung-ho.  Since we lived in Minnesota, his fishing was on one of the many “10,000 great lakes,” trout streams, and the Mississippi River. I grew up loving to eat freshwater fish.

Frank Newhouse - late 1940s
My brother, Doug, was introduced to fishing before he was five years old by my dad. His first fish, a trout, was captured in the below picture (look below the arrow). I have memories of him coming home from a couple of hours of fishing in the local lake with a whole bunch of bullheads. I thought they looked disgusting, and I do not remember ever eating them. However, my mom, Florence Swinburne Newhouse (1907-1997), always told Doug that she would cook whatever he brought home, as long as he cleaned it.  So, even though I do not remember eating bullheads – my husband has assured me they are edible – we must have had them at plenty of suppers as Doug kept bringing them home.
Doug's first fish with Dad looking on
Then there is my son, Patrick. When he was about seven years old, he talked my husband, Jim, into teaching him how to fish (and clean the fish), even though Jim, himself, is not a fisherman. [However, as a child, he did go fishing with his grandfather George Myron Oliver (1871-1953)]. From that time forward, there was no looking back. Patrick started fishing in Minnesota and continued to pursue this sport as he traveled around the U.S. during his 20-plus years in the military. Today, he is fishing in Virginia with his two sons Daniel, aged 12; Tyler, aged 9; and occasionally, his daughter Ashleigh, aged 6. I do not know if his children like to fish, but they always have a smile on their faces in the pictures I have seen.

Daniel getting some help from dad and then showing off his fish - May 2019
 As Father’s Day approaches, I cannot help but reflect on the fathers in my family who taught their children fish. I think for the fathers the appeal of this pastime is about spending time with family, spending time relaxing, spending time in the great outdoors, and spending time making memories with their children.

Tyler with dad holding a whopper - 2016
Ashleigh - her 1st fish, 2017 (Dad is helping to hold it)

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

He Had Everything; He Lost Everything

Left: Painting of the "Angel Gabriel" during the storm. Right: Path of the hurricane (from source 2)
 When our forefathers came to America, whether it was in the earliest time of settlement or a later time, it meant starting over – many times with just the clothes on one’s back. This is what happened to my husband’s 11th great-grandfather – John Francis Cogswell (1592-1669).

John Cogswell inherited a large estate from his father, Edward Cogswell (1554-1615). Edward Cogswell was an owner of a woolen manufacturing business that made wool cloth and woolen clothes; he was also a landowner in England.

In 1635, prior to emigrating to the New England Colonies, John disposed of his inherited estate. However, he did take with him cattle, farming implements, furniture, housekeeping utensils, and money (sterling coin) – everything was valued at about £5,000. It is hard to convert Colonial currency from that far back; but, a good estimate of that £5,000, in today’s dollars, would be $945,000. John Francis Cogswell was coming to Colonial New England with a fortune. 1  

John, his wife, Elizabeth Thompson (1594-1676), eight of their nine children, and several servants sailed from Bristol, England, on May 23, 1635, on the Angel Gabriel. The Angel Gabriel was a 240-ton ship. It had originally been Sir Walter Raleigh’s ship, the Starre, on his last trip to America in 1617. It was described as being “stout and built for combat armed with 16 guns.” The Cogswells were the primary passengers on the Angel Gabriel.  2

Painting of the "Angel Gabriel" - Google Images
Despite the ship being “stout,” it ran into the path of one of the most intense hurricanes in the history of New England off the coast of Maine:  Today it is referred to as “The Great Hurricane of 1635.” The Cogswells, along with others on the ship, were able to make it to shore near Pemaquid, Maine, along with some of the wreckage. Though they were able to salvage some furniture, a Turkish rug, embroidered damask curtains, table linens, and silver plate, much of their belongings had been lost. However, they were about 149 land miles from their original destination of Ipswich, Massachusetts.

Google Image
John and his family eventually made it to Ipswich. John started with everything in England, lost almost everything due to the hurricane, but ended up as a very “well-to-do land” owner in New England. Upon arriving in Ipswich, John Cogswell – by virtue of his reputation, social standing, and relative wealth – was recognized as a valuable asset to the colony and was granted over 300 acres of land and became a leading citizen of the town.

Upon John’s death, the inventory of value of his estate was revealed to be only £115. This £115 represents only 2.3 percent of the wealth that he originally departed with from England. So, in a sense, he was not certainly well-to-do. However, keep in mind, that most estates at this time consisted of acreage, log houses, and furnishings that certainly did not match those left behind in England. But, there are other types of wealth, and it would seem the John Francis Cogswell found those in the new land named Massachusetts.
Painting of the "Angel Gabriel" - Google Image

1 – “North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000.”, Operations, Inc., 2016. Cogswell Family.
2 – Harris, Gordon. “The Great Colonial Hurricane and the Wreck of the Angel Gabriel, August 25, 1635.” Historic Ipswich, 2014,