(Johan) Simon Dreisbach Sr. was born on 7 August 1698 in Oberndorf, West Germany in the district of Wittgenstein, in what is now Germany. The main town in this area is Bad Laasphe. Oberndorf is a few miles distant as is Feudingen where St. Martin's, an Evangelical (formerly Reformed) Church still stands. This was the church the Simon Dreisbach family attended and where the records contain the baptismal dates of his children. Here, too, he married Maria Catherina Keller on 7 November 1720. (The DERR has detailed information about Simon's life in Wittgenstein.)
Simon Sr. and his family came to Philadelphia aboard the ship Lydia which left from Rotterdam and arrived in Philadelphia on 20 September 1743. Source: Pennsylvania German Pioneers, Strassburger and Hinke. We know that Simon and his family spent four full months traveling from Wittgenstein to Philadelphia, and we can only surmise their expectancy as the "Lydia" made her way up through the Delaware Bay in mid September of 1743. The ship's manifest contains two unexplained age figures. Simon appears with his correct age, 45, but sons Jost and Adam are recorded as being 19 and 20 respectively, though we know from the Feudingen church records that Jost recently turned 22 and Adam was approaching 21. Simon must have had some good reason for registering his sons under 21.
We have no information on how Simon financed his family's passage, nor on their first years in Pennsylvania. However, in June of 1747, only three years and nine months after their arrival, eldest son Jost was already applying for the obligatory survey of 25 acres of land in what is now Northampton County. Six months later, his brother Adam filed for a survey of 25 acres along Indian Creek. In 1749 an unknown John Dreisbach (not Simon Sr's son, who was too young to file an application for land) who must have been related to Simon Sr in some way, also applied for a survey of 25 acres.
In May 1749 and March 1750 Simon Sr applied for a total of 75 acres to be surveyed. Thus began the Dreisbach settlements in upper Northampton County. Their land was originally purchased, says a family tradition, from the Indians. The Dreisbach settlements lay a few miles from Blue Mountain and the Lehigh Gap, which was the gateway to the still largely unsettled regions north of the mountain. Jost soon built a gristmill and a sawmill along Indian Creek. Simon Sr organized a small German-language Reformed congregation which met in a log church on the property of Jost Dreisbach. However, ministers could rarely be induced to come this far to preach, to marry and to baptize.
Apart from the land records, there are other documents that speak of births, marriages and taxes. From the church books of Trinity Lutheran Church in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which is rather far from Northampton County, we learn of second son Adam's marriage there to Susanna Coerber (Corber-Koerber-Kirber) on 16 July 1749. Adam is described as coming from "Bucks County", a large territory which at the time included all of what would later be Berks, Northampton and other counties. Three months later, elder son Jost married an "Elizabeth". Her last name is not known for certain but appears to have been Dieter (not the previously believed Rachenberger, which has been proven incorrect).
The next recorded Dreisbach marriage is that of Simon Jr. to Maria Dorothea Dies (Does-Toss-Taes, etc.) at Philadelphia in April of 1752. Simon was 22, his bride not quite 18. He seems to have taken her immediately to Alsace Township near Reading, where their first child was born. (See Simon Jr's own account of the births and deaths in his family, a copy of which has been deposited at the Library of the Lehigh County Historical Society in Allentown, Pennsylvania.)
Berks and Northampton Counties were both formed in 1752, and in about that year the first tax list of the inhabitants of Alsace Township, Berks County, was drawn up. Here we find "Simon Drisebogh" (that is, Simon, Jr.) but he is not listed as owning any land and must have been renting. In May of 1754, when Simon Jr. recorded another birth in his family, he was still living near Reading. Soon, however, he would move closer to other members of his family in upper Northampton County. There some unexpected trouble awaited them all.
Twelve years after their disembarkation in Philadelphia, 1755 was a significant year in the history of Simon Dreisbach and his family. 1755 was the year in which land patents were filed by Simon Sr. and his sons Adam, Jost and George, for land in Minisink Indian territory, south of the Blue Mountain, in newly established Northampton County. The Dreisbachs had already purchased land from the local Indians, says one family tradition, and had already applied for patents on the land where they had established their settlements. However, not all their transactions were recognized by the descendants of William Penn, the Penn Proprietors, and therefore the Dreisbachs had to repurchase their land.
1755 also saw a marriage within the family. On 29 October, Simon's daughter Anna Catharina was married to Henry Ulrich. She was 17. The couple settled on land adjoining that of Simon Sr.
In 1755 the existence of Jost Dreisbach's grist mill is documented for the first time. It is mentioned in a letter written by Benjamin Franklin on 12 December 1755 (see below). By now the congregation which met sporadically at Jost's house was functioning as the local church, though without a regular minister. On the hill above Jost's house a burial ground was laid out.
1755 was a year that ended in uncertainty. In September, October and November, Indians, incited by the French, began attacking settlers farther west in Pennsylvania. Suddenly, at the end of November, Indians attacked the peaceable Moravian mission at Gnadenhütten on the other side of the Blue Mountains, not so many miles north of the Dreisbach settlements. This was the reason for Franklin's December 12th letter, which ordered Captain Van Etten to station a sergeant and six men at "Treisbach's Mill." In January 1756, Franklin and 100 men actually spent some time in the area, and established Fort Allen at what is now Weissport, north of Blue Mountain, in Carbon County.
Following the Gnadenhütten attack, virtually all of the settlers near the Blue Mountain fled to safer areas farther south. Some Dreisbachs are said to have fled to Easton, and others seem to have gone as far south as Upper Bucks County, where baptism and marriages are recorded at the Tohickon Reformed Church in the late 1750's. However, since this was the church where travelling preacher Johan Egidius Hecker (for many years the Dreisbachs' preferred minister) kept his records, it is not certain that the baptisms were actually performed at this church which lay many miles to the south.
On 26 May 1757 inhabitants of Northampton County sent a petition to the governor of Pennsylvania, requesting protection from Indian raids. Seven houses and other buildings had been burned down, one man was killed, another was shot five times and one girl had been taken captive. The signers included Simon "Driesbach" and his son-in-law Henry Ulrich.
In 1759, when the Indian danger had passed, but when roads in upper Northampton County were still few and rudimentary, Simon Dreisbach Sr and Johannes Dieter, church elders representing three small Reformed congregations (including the Indian Creek congregation at Jost Dreisbach's), undertook a long and difficult journey to Easton, Plainfield and Greenwich in the eastern part of the county, to ask the Reformed Church's governing body, the Coetus, to appoint a joint minister for their churches. They had little success, for their congregations were hard to reach and too small to support a clergyman.
In 1768 Simon's wife, Maria Katharina, died and was buried in the cemetery above her son Jost's house. Simon outlived her by almost seventeen years. Simon Dreisbach lived through the Revolutionary War, but was too old to take an active part. By the time he died in 1785, the church at Jost's had been abandoned and a new church had been built a few miles to the south. Here, in the cemetery of recently constructed Zion Stone Church, Simon Sr. was buried. The old cemetery at Jost's was later put under cultivation, and the remaining head-stones were propped against the fence along the field. In the 1920's Maria Katharina Dreisbach's grave-marker and a few other surviving stones were moved to the Zion Stone Church cemetery, where they were inserted into a white commemorative monument.
Helman Supplement p. 15, 1927:
Extracts from a paper written by Dr. A. F. Snyder and read at the reunion, July 18, 1925:
"On December 12, 1755, in a letter from Benjamin Franklin to Captain Van Etten, he is instructed to have a sergeant and six men stationed at Treisbach's Mill."
In April, 1756, is a record: "Sent to Yost Trisbach in Lehi Township 1/4 cask of powder, 1 cwt. lead and 2 Blunder busses."
October 15, 1757, a petition by the inhabitants of Lehigh Township to the Council, deploring their condition and asking for additional military protection, guard houses, and a passable road. Signed by Simon, Yost and Adam Dreisbach.
Report of James Young, Commissioner of Masters to the Council, February 9, 1758, states a garrison is quartered in Northampton County at Treisbach's Mill.
The children of Simon and Maria Katharina Dreisbach
1. Jost Dreisbach, born in Oberndorf, Wittgenstein on 18 September 1721, lived to be 73, dying on 17 October 1794. His first child, Appolonia, was born as early as January 1750. He was a miller in northern Northampton County, and tradition has it that he was also an Indian-fighter. He married 'Elizabeth' 17 October 1749. Her maiden name is unknown. The Dreisbach Book incorrectly gives it as 'Rachenberger'. This has conclusively been proven wrong. The current hypothesis is that she was born Elizabeth Dieter, daughter of Jost's neighbor, Georg William Dieter.
In 1775 Jost was elected Captain of the Lehigh Twp militia. Five months later he was appointed Colonel of the 3rd Battalion of the Northampton Co. Militia. Contrary to what has been said, it has been definitively proven that Jost Dreisbach did NOT fight at the Battle of Long Island. Jost was NOT taken prisoner by the British and Jost did NOT serve as a temporary quartermaster at Valley Forge. He did serve, however, on the Committee of Observation and Safety from 1774 through 1775 after which time he became a officer in the local militia.
There is another Jost (Yost) Dreisbach, a younger nephew of the above Jost, who DID fight at the Battle of Long Island and who was taken prisoner and who had a long career serving as a Captain of Company Number One of Ottendorff's German Corps. He also served in Armand's Legion, fighting at the Battle of Short Hills and even saw action in the Carolinas. Thus two men, both named Jost Dreisbach, both served in the Revolutionary War but in very different capacities.
It is believed Jost had twelve children Many of his children remained in the area but son John, husband of Elizabeth Ginter, moved to the northwest, to Columbia County, while son Philip migrated to Schoharie County, NY.
Jost died 17 October 1794 and he is buried in the cemetery of Zion Stone Church in Kreidersville, PA. His will mentions his wife Lisbet but does not give her maiden name.
2. Adam Dreisbach, born in Oberndorf and christened in the Feudingen Church on 7 Nov. 1722, died on 10 January 1803. He married Susanna Coerber- Corber- Koerber- Kirber in Trinity Lutheran Church in Lancaster in July 1749. Her father, Andreas Coerber, was later buried in the cemetery at Jost Dreisbach's. Adam is said to have been a saddler. In 1771 he and his younger brother Simon Jr. were among the founding members of Zion Stone Church in Kreidersville. In 1772 Adam was listed as being a farmer in Lehigh township, Northampton County. Adam spent his last years in Easton, the County Seat, where he and his wife were buried. Their graves are no longer extant, the Easton Public Library having been built on the site of the cemetery.
3. 4. and 5. Simon Dreisbach Sr and Maria Catharina had three children who were born in Wittgenstein and died there in childhood. They never came to Pennsylvania. Their names were; Maria Catharina, Alexander and Anna Elisabeth, and they were born between 1724-1728 in Oberndorf. The dates of their christenings and their deaths are found in the Feudingen church records.
6. Simon Dreisbach, Jr., born in Oberndorf and christened on 18 February 1730, died in Allen Township, Northampton County on 17 December 1806. Simon married Maria Dorothea Dies- Does- Toss- Taes in Philadelphia in April 1752. That same year, at age 22, he already appears on the tax list of Alsace Township, Berks Co. However, Simon soon moved to Northampton Co., settling in Allen Township, where he had a tannery, and he remained there until his death. He was probably the most learned of Simon Sr.'s children, and was a member of several Provincial conventions, assemblies and commissions. In 1776 Simon Dreisbach Jr. was a signer of the Constitution of Pennsylvania. He was an elder of Zion Reformed congregation, and as such wrote a long letter in German in January 1773 explaining the situation of the small Reformed congregations in his area, and their need of a minister.
Simon also wrote an account of his children's births and his first wife's death, which still exists, a copy of it is in the library of the Lehigh County Historical Society in Allentown, PA. Simon stated that four of his children were deaf and dumb and he made specific provision for them in his will. Most of Simon Jr.'s twelve children remained in Northampton County.
7.Georg Wilhelm (George William) Dreisbach, born in Oberndorf and christened on 14 June 1733, was ten when he arrived in Philadelphia with his family. He married Sophia Schemelien- Schmielin- Schmidin? [surname unproven], who may have come from the Moravian family, Schmid. A son, Jost, is said to have been born in 1758. George's date and place of death are unknown, and it is not always certain whether later references to George Dreisbach refer to him or to his nephew of the same name, a son of Simon Jr., born 31 January 1756, who also married a woman named Sophia. This younger George certainly remained in Northampton County, and is buried at Zion Stone Church.
In a 1773 valuation of real estate in Lehigh Township, Jost and George Dreisbach each had a grist mill, and George had a sawmill as well. George Dreisbach was one of two men who contracted to do the carpenter work on the new Zion Church in November 1771. It is not known if George's sawmill furnished the lumber for the construction. A George (perhaps the nephew?) appears on a muster roll of 14 May 1778, 4th Battalion of the Northampton County Militia. Nothing is known of the later years of George and his family. [It is believed that George may well be the father of the John Dreisbach whose family settled in Monroe and Lehigh Counties-- see Conrad and Jost Dreisbach page.]
8. Johannes (John) Dreisbach, born in Oberndorf and christened on 6 February 1735, died in Northampton County on 27 September 1796. He married Elizabeth Waldman. Of their eight children, two died young, five remained in eastern Pennsylvania and one moved with his family to Sparta, New York in 1806.
John's oldest surviving son, Henry, who moved to Sparta, NY, has been documented as the father of an illegitimate son, born 17 November 1800, whose name was also "Henry". Baby Henry was born to Eve Henry of Whitehall Township, now in Lehigh County but was apparently raised by an unknown Dreisbach family in Lehigh Township. This baby grew up and married Elizabeth Solt (1802-1881) on 6 March 1821. Their children are known as the "Descendants of Henry Dreisbach" and include Ammon Dreisbach, one of the founders of the eastern Pennsylvania Dreisbach Family Association.
Johannes appears as "John Dreasbaugh" on the 14 May 1778 muster roll of the Northampton County Militia. A foundation of a house he built, with a date stone of 1763, can be seen in Lehigh Townshipship. John and his wife are buried in the Zion Stone Church cemetery. It should be noted that Johannes has at times been called "John George" in certain Dreisbach genealogies. This has caused some confusion with his elder brother George. There is no documentary evidence, baptismal or otherwise for adding "George" to the name of Johannes Dreisbach. In 1995 his tombstone was unreadable and the Veterans Administration furnished a new, granite stone. However, the request was incorrectly made, and therefore the stone says John George instead of Johannes.
9. Anna Catharina Dreisbach was born in Oberndorf and christened in Feudingen on 4 May 1738. She and her husband Henry Ulrich lived in northern Northampton County (Moore Township) near the land of Simon Sr. Four daughters were born between 1757 and 1763. The two youngest died in early childhood and were buried in the cemetery near Jost Dreisbach's. In April 1771 Henry Ulrich sold his land. Thereafter nothing is known of him or his family.
10. Magdalena Dreisbach. In the 1774 will of Georg Wilhelm Diethard (George William Dieter), a farmer of Lehigh Township, Northampton Co., Jost Dreisbach is termed his brother-in-law. This was interpreted to mean that Jost was the brother of Dieter's wife, Magdalena. The preferred interpretation is that Jost's wife, Elizabeth, was the sister of Georg Wilhem Dieter, thereby making Jost his brother-in-law.
No baptismal record of a Magdalena Dreisbach has been found in the reliable Feudingen church records, but she might have been born either during the journey to Pennsylvania in 1743, or after the family's arrival. If she was born in 1743 or later, she would have been too young to be the mother of the older Dieter children mentioned in her husband's will. (Only one was young enough, in 1774, to be assigned a guardian.) After her husband's death in about 1775, Magdalena Dieter appears in a Lehigh Township tax list covering the period 1774-1806, and is taxed on 150 acres. The record maintained by Rev. Frederic W. Mendson speaks of the December 1811 burial of an unspecified "widow Dieter" at Indianland Church in northern Northampton County, and says this widow was born in 1724. (This cannot be Magdalena, since Maria Catharina was born to Simon Dreisbach and his wife in 1724 and was buried in Feudingen the following year.) In any event, Magdalena Dieter is mentioned as deeased in a petition of the Dieter heirs made in November 1813.
Simon Dreisbach, Sr. 1698 - 1785
.. +Maria Katharina KELLER 1696 - 1768 ...... 2 Jost DREISBACH 1721 - 1794 .......... +? ...... *2nd Wife of Jost DREISBACH: .......... +Elizabeth ? died 1799 ...... 2 Adam DREISBACH 1722 - 1803 .......... +Susanna COERBER 1724 - 1805 ...... 2 Maria Catherine DREISBACH 1724 - 1725 ...... 2 Alexander DREISBACH 1725 - 1731 ...... 2 Anna Elisabeth DREISBACH 1727/28 - 1731 ...... 2 Simon DREISBACH, Jr. 1729/30 - 1806 .......... +Maria Dorothea DIES 1734 - 1773 ...... *2nd Wife of Simon DREISBACH, Jr.: .......... +Anna Maria FUCHS 1736 - ...... 2 George William DREISBACH 1733 - .......... +Sophia ? ...... 2 John DREISBACH 1734/35 - 1796 .......... +Elizabeth WALDMAN 1742 - 1821 ...... 2 Anna Catherina DREISBACH 1738 - 1763 .......... +Henry ULRICH 1730 - 1763 ...... 2 Magdalena DREISBACH 1743 - 1813 .......... +George William DIETER - 1774