Note: Bernhardt Zimmerman was a 1st Lieutenant of the Berks County Militia in the Revolutionary War under Captain Michael Bretz/Bretzius. Michael's son, Michael Jr. married Barbara Biegler/Bugler neice to Johannes Zimmerman and Catherine Biegler/Bugler. Johannes Zimmerman was the son of Bernhardt Zimmerman. Bernhardt's wife Maria Eva, sent this letter to Bernhardt on December 19,1777, while he was on active duty at Valley Forge as a Lieutenant in the Pennsylvania Militia ( published in the Journal of TheJohannes Schwalm Historical Association Volume 3 # 1, 1985).
Under the militia reoganization of 1777 two militia companies were organized in Pine Grove Township. The company organized in the western part of the township, in and about the settlement which later became Pine Grove, was assigned to the 6th battalion as the 5th company. The 6th battalion served under Col. Henry Spyker. Michael Forrer of Pinr Grove served as major in the battalion by Captian Michael Bretz. The other officers were 1st Lieutenant Bernhard Zimmerman, 2nd Lieutenant Peter Bressler, Ensign Peter Smith, and Court-Martial Men, Peter Smith and John Sein. Unfortunately, the roster of the company is lost. However, lists of fines paid by members of the company for failure to attend muster give us forty-four of the members, in addition to the officers. Thirty four of the names, in addition to the names of all the officers can be found in the tax lists of Pine Grove Township during the years 1774 to 1780.
The fifth and sixth classes of the 5th company saw service during the engagements around Chestnut Hill and Germantown. The following letter to Lt. Zimmerman from his wife , printed in the publications of Schuylkill County Historical Society, offers evidence that some of the men were in active sevice. Below is a copy of that letter written in German and then translated in English.
Gott zum Gruss und von mir viel Tausend mahl gegrusset Herz viel geliebter Mann; Es ist mir und alle eine Herzliche Freude das Du mir geschrrieben hast von Deiner Gesundheit bei welcher Dich der barumherzige Gott gesegnet hatt. Dann der (Ich schreiben) wass mich und unsere lieben Kinder anlangt. So sind wir Gott sci dank noch all wohl. Aber lieber Gott erbarme sich in grosser bettrubniss wegen Deiner Abwesenheit. Allein lieber Mann wir wollen gern alles mit der grasten Gedult ertragen wan wir nun von Gott erbitten konnen das er Dich uns wider Glucklich schenken wird. Allein wir stechen jetzt eben in dem aller grosten Sorgen weil wir gehort dass ihr schon zwei Tagen nach dem Du Deinen Brief geschrieben in Gefecht gewesen und wir nun doch micht wissen ob Du-noch beim leben bist weil Deinen Brief im Tag vor den fechten geschrieben worden. Nun leeber Mann Gott wolle Dich und alle die bei und mit Dir sind, aus aller Gefahr erretten und wieder zu den Deinigen bringen; wo fur wir alle Gott von Herzen Lob und Dunk abstatten wollen. Lieber Mann was unser Freundschaft im gemeinen anlanget, als Vater, Mutter, Gerschwister und Schwager, so sind wir alle noch wohl und lassen Dich von Herzen grussen, sonderlich der Jorg welcher Deiner Brief heruber gebracht, wire auch der Schwager Wolfarth, und sich mir wegen Deines guten Glucks und bestundiger Gesundheit von Herzen frueen. Was den Jacob Stein anlangt so ist Gruss frueen sich seiner Gesundheit und lassen ihn von Herzen grussen. Was die andern anlangt als Christian Stutzman, Peter Bugler, Johannes Bugler, so enfreusen sich ihrer lieben Freunde auch ihrer guten Gesundheit und wunschen ihnen ernst Herzlicher begrussung Gottes vatterlichen beistand. Nun lieber Mann weider weiss ich fur dies Mahl nichts zu scheiben. Ich befehle Dich unter viel Seufsten und Tranen in den Schutz des almachtigen Gottes, und bleib Deine treue Frau bis in den Tod. Eva Zimmerman
" Greetings in God and from me, thousands of heartfelt greetings dearly beloved husband. It is a sincere pleasure to us all that you have written of your good health with which merciful God has blessed you. So I want to write what concerns me and our beloved children. We to, thanks to God, are well. But dear God Pitty us in our great anxiety on account of your absence. However we will willingly endure everything with patience if our prayers to God bring you safely to us again. Presently we are greatly concerned having heard that two days after you had written this letter, you were in battle and we do not know whether you are still among the livng because your letter was written before the fighting. Now dear husband my God deliver you and all who are with you out of danger and bring you back again to your family for which we all want to thank and praise God. Dear husband, concerning our relatives, father and mother, sister-in-law, they all are well and send regards,especially George, who brought your letter over, and also brother-in-law Wolforth, who send heartfelt wishes for your good lick and preserved health. Concerning Jacob Stein, heartfelt greetings and wishes for good health. Also concerning Christian Stutzman, Peter Bugler, and Johannes Bugler, their dear friends send heartfelt greetings and wishes good health and God,s fatherly care. Now dear husband I know of nothing further to write. With much sighing and weeping I commend you to the Protection of almighty God and remain your true wife until death" . Eva Zimmerman
Since Maria Eva did not have a sister married to George, the brother-in-law referred to in the letter had to be married to a sister of Bernhardt. This would be the daughter of Peter and Anna Zimmerman from Cocalico Township, Elizabeth Zimmerman married to George Wolforth. This establishes that Bernhardt was also a son of Peter and Anna Zimmerman. This George Wolforth was the son of Johannes and Maria Agatha (Zimmerman) Wolfhardt who received a patent for a tract of land of 166 acres on April 19,1749 from the proprietor Richard Penn son of William Penn. This tact of land was sold by the heirs of Johannes Wolhhardt; they were his wife Maria Agatha, their children George, Michael, Anna Margaret wife ofJacob Reith, Christopher, Philip and Catherine. The last two were minors and Conrad Weiser was appointed their Guardian. On December 10,1753 the heirs of Johannes Wolfhardt sold the land to Jacob Hoffman and his wife Eva. The Hoffmans held the title til January 20, 1761, when they sold the land to Gottffried Rohrer/Rehrer and his wife Magdalena (Etschberger) Rohrer/Rehrer. Gottdried and Maria on May 28, 1799 sold this land to their son Jacob Rehrer. Transactions of the land sales are recorded in the Berks County Office of Recorder of Deeds Book A. Volume 02, pages 219-224. Jacob Rehrer laid out and recorded the town plan of Rehrersburg on April 04,1803.
Their son George and his wife Elizabeth and family lived in Tulpehocken Township til about 1767, when Peter and Anna Zimmerman deeded 179 acres of land to George and Elizabeth in Cocalico township and moved there for the rest of their lives. George was the executor of Peter's will written in 1785 and probated in 1790.
In another letter dated December 19,1777 Bernhart Zimmerman, Ihr und Daniel Hoffman habt auf einer Tag geschrieben und (es) ist also mit seinem Beifals wie mit Eurem das wir also auch nicht wissen ist ehr glucklich durch gekommen oder nicht, weil ihr alle beide ein Tag vor dem Gefecht geschrieben.Ist ehr noch benebst auch beim Leben so grusset ihn von uns viel Tausen mahl und wir betten Taglich Gott das er ihn allen Jammer und Herzleid bewahren wolte und all die mit ihm in Gefahr stehen. Rutt Gott in Eurem Nothen an, er wird gewisslich bei Euch stehen. Lieber Daniel Deine Kinder sind gesund und alles geht in gutem stand. Ich befehle Dich Gott. Scheibt so bald moglich wieder. Jetzt is es am nothigsten.
(Addressed to) Bernhard Zimmerman Zwieider Leudnand unter Herm Cornell Spiciker undin der Company Herrin Captains Henrich Weber in der Arme ohn wied Germandon
That some transferring of personal occured during active service is indicated by the fact that yhe above letter is addressed to Captain Weber's command, rather than that of Caltain Bretz. Captain Weber of Tulpehocken was commander of the seventh company.
In 1780 the Pine Grove unit was reassigned as the fifth company of the second battalion, Berks County Militia. New officers were elected in that year as follows: Captain........................Philip Hetrick First Lieutenant.............Bernhard Zimmerman Second Lieutenant.......Peter Bressler Ensign..........................Jacob Stein
According to Haas, these officers served until 1783, when they were again chosen as the officers of the Pine Grove militia to serve until 1792. Among the papers of the Berks County Militia, preserved in the Archives Division at Harrisburg, is a muster return of Captain Hetrick's company, dated July 19,1784. A photoostatic copy of the return is offered herewith. It will be noted that the company is again part of the fifth battalion.
Unfortunately the muster return of 1784 is the last official of the Pine Grove unit until 1800 when the state militia books were first kept. However , the writer obtained data concerning the intervening years from Haas who states that he obtained the information from a record book entitled "Muster Rolls--Pine Grove Township," in the possession of the late E.T. Filbert, former town clerk of Pine Grove. The book covered the period from the close of the Revolution to 1822. Records until 1810 were entered in German Script. The writer has attempted to find the book during the past year but has had no success.
Haas states that new officers were elected in 1792 and again in 1795. Officers in 1792 included:
Captain...............................Bernhard Zimmerman First Liuetenant....................Peter Bressler Second Liuetenant..............Jacob Stein Ensign.................................Henry Stein In 1795 Captain Bernhard Zimmerman was succeeded by Lieutenant Peter Bressler, the other officers advanced, and John Bonawitz was made ensign.
Bernhardt Zimmerman and Maria Eva Gebhardt were married in 1768 in Altalaha Lutheran Church (Old Log Church) located at the west end of Rehrersburg, Berks County, Pennsylvania. About seven years afyer their marriage, Bernhardt and Maria moved on a farm located near Nut Grove, north of the Blie Mountain in Pinegrove Township, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania..The farm was located southeast of Stanhope Road and east of Nut Grove Road, both roads entering Route 501 feom the east. Bernhardt was taxed first on 50 acres in Pine Grove Township in1778, and shortly increased this to 240 acres. This land was located on Oak Grove Road, Northwest of the borough of Pine Grove, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. Bernhardt and Maria both died in the year of 1818. On Maria,s death papers is stated that Maria widow of Henrich Bernhard Zimmerman.
Bernhard was the progenitor of a family that became widely established in Pine Grove, Wayne, and Washington Townships in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. Bernhard,s wife Maria Eva was the daughter of Johann Philip Gebhardt and Anna Margaretha Masseau. Maria Eva,s mother was one of the first to be buried on the Altalaha Lutheran (old) Cemetery, located on the west side of the Altalaha Lutheran church. She is buried in the first row west of the old cemetery.
According to the Register of Wills in Schuylkill County Courthouse, Will Book # 1, Page #21, dated December 18,1817, filed January 31,1818- burial "new church in Pine Grove" Witness by Johan Adam Lingel and Jacob Christ. The following children listed; 1=Margaretha, wife of John Hahn, 2=Johannes married to Catharine Biegler/Bugler, 3=Bernard marrie to Elizabeth Maria Hohn, 4=Maria married to Philip Keiser, 5= Magdalena married to Jacob Hubler, 6= Henry married to Eva Brenner, 7=Peter married to Catherine Zerbe, 8=Catherine married to Jacob Zerbe, 9=Eva (no spouse), 10=Jacob, 11=Philip married to Elizabeth Ulrich.
The word Altalaha is of Indian origin and has been translated as meaning sitting on a hill. As early as 1733 there is evidence of a Lutheran congregation in the area of what is now Rehrersburg. The first actual church building was temporary log structure built in 1757. The present brick structure was erected in 1808 and was enlarged and remodeled in 1886. The church is home to one of only a handful of Christian Dieffenbach pipe organs in the county. It was purchased in 1816 and is still used today. Exsisting before our country itself, Altalaha has witnessed many events of local and national importance. May it continue to serve God and the community for many years to com.
The Altalaha church (also known as Altohoe and the Beaver Creek Church) is located on the north side of Main Street in Rehrersburg, Berks County, Pennsylvania. Directly on the south side of Main Street across from the church is the Rehrer Homestead.
The name Altohoe was given to the region comprised in the tract of land that was laid out for Richard Penn on the northwest branch of the Swatataweo Creek and pertains particularly to the Lutheran congregation established in that region about 1746 to 1750, now known as the Altalaha Lutheran Church. There was given to the congrgation a tract of four acres out of the northwestern portion of Johannes Wolfart's tact of 166 acres. This is the Johannes Wolfhardt who came to America along with Peter Zimmerman on September 03,1739. According to the manor, the Lutheran Church at Rehrersburg was about two and a half miles from the northern boundry of the manor, almost one and three quarter miles from the eastern boundry, two miles from the southern boundry, and one and a half miles from the western boundry. It is quite likely the church was organized for in the private records of Pastor John Casper Stoever. There is found credited to Altohoe between the years of 1746-1763 the following ministerical acts; marriages 41; baptisms 106.
A church book book for the purpose of recording there in the baptisms by the pasters of what is now the Altalaha Lutheran congrgation was purchased and records began in 1757. In this book are the baptisms of three children of Bernhardt and Maria Zimmerman, Anna Margaret, Johannes, and Maria. In 1765 Henry Holzman granted trustees: Christian Moyer, Ulrich Fisher, Jacob Reed, and Thomas Kurr, two and one half acres for school purposes. Sebastian Brosius added sixty rods and Godrey Rehrer thirty eight rods in 1786. In 1786 four more acres and later still more land was added until there was about thirteen acres. In 1765, a two story meeting house of logs, which stood ten feet west of the present building was completed for worship. The old church was demolished in 1810 and the material was used for the building of a rear residence near the center of town. The building committee of the new church were Daniel Hoffman, Thomas Kurr, Jacob Artzt, John Emerick, Gottfried Riehl, Matin Walborn, and Henry Walborn. George Malsberger had the charge of the stone masons and John Weber of the carpenters.
Pine Grove Township: The grove of pines from which Pine Grove Township derived its name was located some twenty miles away in the valley on the south side of the Mahantongo Mountain east of Klinger's Gap. The lands that now comprise Pine Grove Township belonged to Lancaster County until 1752, when Berks County was organized. Up to that time, these lands along the northern side of the Blue Montain were known as Blue Mountain Hollow. It was organized as Pine Grove Township in 1771. In 1811, when Schuylkill County was organized, the township was one of the original ones.
Settlement on the north side of the Blue Mountain began in 1753, when Frederick Schnoke bought land for two bushels of wheat. Over the next twenty years, settlers occastionally crossed over the mountain to the south to evade the marauding Indians. By 1770, George Felty settled near Mifflin, or Suedberg, as it was spelled for many years until the Lebanon and Tremont Railroad designated its station as Suedberg.
In 1770-71, Jacob Gunkle purchased a large tract from the sons of William Penn and built a powder mill at the entrance to present day Swopes Valley. Although it explded two or three times, it operated for over a century. The powder made at this mill was used at the Battle of Bunker Hill during the Revolutionary War.
The first surveys of land in this township were in the case of warrants granted to John and William Penn, proprietaries. The tracts surveyed were contiguous and extended across the southern part of the township into the township of Washington, and included the site of Pine Grove Borough.
The first settlers probably came between 1750 and 1760. They were Germans and came mostly from Berks County (actually this area was Berks County and later became Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania) and they located near the base of the Blue Mountain in the south part of the township. They were first disturbed by the Indians, and a block house or fort was built on the mountain for a refuge in times of danger.
Among the families who are known to have become residents of the township previous to the Revolution were those of Schnoke, Gunkel, Hetrick, Swope, Schaeffer, Bressler, Boyer, Zimmerman and Stine (Zimmerman and Stine were brother-in-laws), and Fetty/Felty. Some of these families foesook their new homes for a time during the Revolutionary War, to return after the restoration of peace.
Among those who were living here soon after the Revolution, some of whom had undoubtedly settled several years previousl, were families named Minnich, Gebert, Beuchler/Bugler, and the families of August Brossius, John Weiss, Henry Souder, Jacob Haberling, John Haberling, Valentine Haberline/Haberling, Jacob Smythe, Adam Kalbach, George Pressler/Bressler, John Adams, George Berger, Baltzer Houpt, and Baltszer Smith. Frederick Schnoke was one of the first settlers. He came from Berks County and built a cabin in the southeast corner of the town.
A man named Gistwite settled in the west part of town, near mifflin, about 1756. While at work on his log cabin he was murdered by Indians.
George Fetty/Felty settled near Mifflin as early as 1770. His descendants are numerous in the township and some of them reside on rhe land which he first located.
Jacob Gunkel, the first settler at Pine Grove, was for several years the only resident within the present borough limits. He located on the site of the American Eagle Hotel in 1771. Here he laid claim to a large tract of land, which he subsequently purchased from John and Richard Penn, and which included the site of the present day borough. He kept a house of entertainment for travelers and teamsters passing over the route of the old Indian trail, and in 1795 opened a store in a part of his house, which he kept till 1810, when he removed to a farm one mile south from the borough, where in 1813 he died. He is buried on St.Peter's (Gunkel's Cem.), Also buried on this cemetery is Frederic Schnoke and Bernhard Zimmerman.
Michael Bretzius arrived in Philadelphia from Wolfersweiler, Germany in 1748 aboard the ship Two Brothers. He first settled in Tulpehocken Township, Berks County and was naturalized in 1765. By 1772, Michael was living in Pine Grove Township. In 1778 he purchased the 700 acre plantation he had been living on from Christian Lauer. Michael was one of Pine Grove's leading citizens who played a prominent role in the affairs of the county. He was listed as a captain in the fifth battalion under Colonel George Miller. Bernhardt Zimmerman was his1st Lieutenant. Before the war Michael built a grist mill on the Little Swatara Creek, which was later used to grind meal for the Continental Army while it was encamped at Valley Forge. He continued to occupy the original structure until about 1799, when it was torn down and replaced with a modern frame building. He conducted a milling and grain business in the new building. After the war, Michael also built and operated a carding mill (where wool fibers are spun into slivers before weaving) and cloth dressing establishment. It was located on the Bretzius farm about thee quarters of a mile northeast of the grist mill. Michael past away in 1803, the properties passed to his son Michael Jr., who continued to operate both mills until 1823. Michael Jr. was married to Barbara Biechler/Biegler/Bugler. She was the niece to Catherine Biegler/Bugler wife of Johannes Zimmerman, son of Bernhardt Zimmerman.
John Stine settled about two miles west from the borough about 1760. His descendants are numerous in the township and the original homestead is still in the family.
Bernhardt Zimmerman settled in the southeast part of the township and many of his descendants reside in the township.
John Moyer came in 1790, Isaac Harvey about 1830, and Michael Wenrick still earlier. The names of many of the pioneers are irretrievably lost.
Lumbering was the main business in this area from 1780 till a comparatively recent time. Of course many saw-mills have been built the first one about 1780, on a branch of the Swatara, about one mile south of Pine Grove. Very little lumbering has been done since 1850.
A rude grist-mill was built about 1782 on Swope's Creek at the south end of Brookside farm, this area was located west of Bernhardt Zimmerman. The mill was patronized by people 30 miles away. Another was soon built by John Schaeffer on Swatara Creek near Mifflin, and soon afterward another on the present site of Z. Baldorf's mill, near north Pine Grove, by a man named Uhler.
A distillery was built about 1790 at North Pine Grove by Mr. Swalm/Schwalm, who was scalded to death while working on it. About 1800 another was built by Peter Leher on a farm later owned by John Feltz. Baltzar Hautz, John Zimmerman and Jacob Stine also erected and operated distilleries.
A tavern, known as the Red Tavern, was opened as early as 1790 at North Pine Grove, by John and Solomon Albright, who were early settlers there. They were succeeded by Henry W. Conrad and Henry Zimmerman. It became a dwelling about 1858 and later it was burned. The Albrights also kept a store in a part of the building. Frederick Rudi kept a tavern in a log building which stood on the Brookside Farm, near the present bridge, as early as 1785. He was succeeded by a Mr. Woods, who converted it into a store and it was afterward burned.
A forge was built by Daniel Rondebach about two miles east of Pine Grove, and in 1844 it was converted into the Stanhope furnace by Adam Brown. It continued in blast till about 1875, and has been idle ever since.
Until 1819, Pine Grove was designated a post office with John Barr as the first poatmaster. Until then, the closest post office was in Reading. Barr built the Eagle Hotel in the area that was to become the Borough of Pine Grove in 1832.
In other areas of the township, villages and settlements developing as post offices began to spring up, in 1873, in Mifflin, about 1880, in Ellwood, now Outwood, and Ravine.
The roads intially followed the old Indian trails that traversed in the county. These roads were difficult to travel being blocked by boulders and tree stumps. The major road was the Sunbury Road that crossed the mountain from Bethel, then passing by Stanhope to Pleasant Hill, on the east side of the Swatara Creek, along Lover's Lane (American Lrgion Boulevard) to Ravine, passing through Lorberry and Joliett, until it connected to the Sunbury Trail west of Ashland. In 1908, the state took over a portion of road, then part of the township, known later as the Annex, in what is today as North Pine Grove. The road was constructed of Telford Bottom and was the first improved road in this part of the county.
Saint Jacob's Evangelical Lutheran Church is located about two miles west of Pine Grove on South Tulpehocken Street (State Route 443) near what was Exmore Station on the railroad leading to Lebanon. It stands on the southern slope of the hills on the Swatara Valley on the north. The congregation was organized in the year 1780, and the Oxford or Lutheran Confession of faith was adopted, and the same year a church building of Hewed logs was erected, which were cut on the congregation's own property, the tract of land containing twenty seven acres, obtained from the government. The building committee was John Stein, Bernhardt Zimmerman (John Stein's brother-nlaw), Balthaser Bohr, George Felty, Lenhart Minnich, and John Brenner (whose daughter Eva Brenner married Heinrich Zimmerman, son of Bernhardt Zimmerman). The ministers who were present and dedicated the church were Frederick V. Melsheimer and William Kurtz.
The first burial recorded is that of Philip Keiser born February 17,1771 born in Pine Grove Township and died March 18,1804. He was one of the pioneer settlers in the Williams Valley, located on the present site of Tower City. As there was no church in that vicinity at the time of his death, he was taken back across the mountains and buried by the little church overlooking the residing Swatara. Philip was married to Maria Eva Zimmerman, daughter of Bernhardt Zimmerman and Eva Maria (Gebhardt) Zimmerman. The second church was dedicated May 19,1833. The building committee was John Stein and George Stein. The master carpenter was John Kuhns, brother to Christina Kuntz/Kuhns who married Peter Zimmerman, grandson to Bernhardt Zimmerman.
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