Morton L. (Morton Luther) Montgomery.

Historical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families, comp. by Morton L. Montgomery .. online

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Online LibraryMorton L. (Morton Luther) MontgomeryHistorical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families, comp. by Morton L. Montgomery .. → online text (page 31 of 227)
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York, the captains were warned not to land, and,
fearing this warning, they returned to England.
The tea sent to Charleston was landed, but it could
not be sold, and after having been stored for a
while in damp cellars it became a total loss to the
company. And at Boston, while efforts were being
made to land the tea, certain men in the disguise
of Indians stole their way upon the vessels, broke
open 342 chests of tea and threw the contents

When Parliament heard of these proceedings, an
Act was passed, called the "Boston Port Bill," di-
recting the port of Boston to be closed and the
custom house to be removed to Salem; and other
humiliating Acts were also passed which were
offensive to the people of Boston. Information
about these Acts reached Boston on May 10th, and
on the 13th, at a town meeting, the inhabitants
resolved :

That, if the other Colonies would unite with them to
stop all importations from Great Britain and the West
Indies until those Acts should be repealed, it would prove
the salvation of North America and her liberties ; but if
they should continue their exports and imports, there
was reason to fear that fraud, power and the most odious
oppression would triumph over justice, right, social happi-
ness and freedom.

Copies of this resolution were transmitted to all
the other Colonies. It awakened not only a feeling
of sympathy but a strong spirit of co-operation,
and led them to concur in the propriety of calling
a Provincial Congress. Public meetings were held
at different places, such as county towns, and, be-
sides discussing topics so important to liberty and
the general welfare, committees of correspondence
were appointed to communicate the actions of the
several meetings to one another throughout the Col-
onies. In this way, it was discovered that the same
feeling prevailed everywhere, and naturally there
came to be united efforts toward accomplishing a
common result for the benefit of all.

About this time the terms "Whigs" and "Tories"
were introduced to designate either those who were
arrayed on the side of the Colonies in sympathy
with Boston, or those who were in sympathy with
the policy of the British government.

Meeting at Reading. — When the news reached
Reading, in Berks county, the citizens manifested
great excitement, and meetings were held at which
the action of the British government was con-
demned. These meetings were called by notices
headed "Boston Port Bill," and posted throughout
the town.

At one of these meetings (which comprised a
respectable body of inhabitants of the county) held
in the Court-House at Reading, on July 2, 1774,
Edward Biddle, Esq., in the chair, the following
resolutions were adopted:

This assembly, taking into their very serious considera-
tion the present critical situation of American affairs, do
unanimously resolve as follows, viz. :

1. That the inhabitants of this county do owe, and will
pay due allegiance to our rightful Sovereign, King George
the Third.

2. That the powers claimed, and now attempted to be
put into execution by the British Parliament, are funda-
mentally wrong, and cannot be admitted without the utter
destruction of the liberties of America.

3. That the Boston Port Bill is unjust and tyrannical in
the extreme. And that the measures pursued against Bos-
ton are intended to operate equally against the rights and
liberties of the other colonies.

4. That this assembly doth concur in opinion with their
respective brethren of Philadelphia, that there is an abso-
lute necessity for an immediate congress of the deputies
of the several advices, in order to deliberate upon and pur-
sue such measures as may radically heal our present un-
happy disturbances, and settle with precision the rights
and liberties of America.

5. That the inhabitants of this county, confiding in the
prudence and ability of the deputies intended to be chosen
for the general congress, will cheerfully submit to any
measures which may be found by the said congress best
adapited for the restoration of harmony between the
mother-country and the colonies, and for the security and
firm establishment of the rights of America.

6. That, as the people of Boston are now suffering in
the grand and common cause of American liberty.

Resolved, That it is the duty of all the inhabitants to
• contribute to the support of the said sufferers, and that the
committee hereafter named do open subscriptions for their
relief. And further, that the said committee do lay out
the amount of such subscriptions in purchasing flour and
other provisions, to be sent by them to our said suffering



7. That Edward Biddle, James Read, Daniel Brodhead,
Henry Christ, Esqs., Christopher Schultz, Thomas Dundas
and Jonathan Patts, gentlemen, be, and they are hereby
appointed a committee to meet and correspond with the
committees from the other counties of the Province.

The committee raised money and forwarded
flour and provisions to the suffering brethren at
Boston soon after the meeting. Reading was a
prominent center of trade in 1774, and the country
round about possessed an abundance of grain and
provisions. There were numerous gristmills within
a radius of ten miles, and the collection of many
barrels of flour was a comparatively easy matter
for such a worthy cause, especially under the appeal
of such influential men as composed the committee.
Biddle and Read were attorneys; Christ an inn-
keeper ; Potts a physician ; Dundas a merchant ;
Brodhead a large miller of Pleidelberg; and Schultz
a prosperous farmer of Hereford.

From this meeting to the close of the Revolution,
the people of Reading and of the county partici-
pated actively in all the affairs of the province.
Thev were represented by delegates at the several
conferences ; and they contributed their quota of
men, money and supplies in the successful prosecu-
tion of the war.

Lexington Awakens County. — The battle of
Lexington was fought on April 19, 1775, and when
the news of the battle reached Reading, about a
week afterward, a company of men was formed,
who wore crape for a cockade as a token of sorrow
for the slaughter of their brethren ; and each town-
ship in Berks county resolved to raise and discipline
a company of soldiers. And the following extract
of a letter from Reading, dated April 26, 1775,
shows forcibly the feeling that prevailed :

We liave raised in this town two companies of foot
under proper officers : and such is the spirit of the people
of this free county, that in three weeks time there is not
a township in it that will not have a company raised and
disciplined, ready to assert at the risk of their lives the
freedom of America.

The companies mentiO'Ued were commanded by
Capt. George Nagel and Capt. John Spohn.

First Officers From County. — The first meet-
ing of the Committee of Safety at Philadelphia was
on Jan. 2, 1776, which Edward Biddle attended.
Congress had recommended that Pennsylvania fur-
nish four battalions of troops ; and at this meeting
the Committee were to agree upon the four colonels
who were to be placed in command. On the 4th of
January, they selected field officers, George Nagel,
of Reading, being one of them. Then they also
selected thirty-one captains for the four battalions,
among those chosen being John Spohn, Peter Scull
and Peter Decker, all of Reading, and on Jan. 6th,
they selected thirt5r-two lieutenants, among them
Daniel Brodhead of Reading.

Germans to Rescue. — By looking over the
names of the numerous men in Berks county who
participated in the movement for independence, it
will be found that they are almost entirely German.

The population of the county was largely German
and of German descent, and this preponderance of
names over those of all other nationalities was to
be expected. The proportion was fully nine-tenths.
They used the German language in their daily
affairs, excepting the transfer of title to real estate,
which was required to be in the English language
by a provincial law. The location of the English
people in 1775 was mostly at Reading, and in Robe-
son, Caernarvon, Union, Exeter, Oley, Maiden-
creek and Richmond townships, or eight districts
out of twenty-nine ; but the major part of the people
in these districts also were German, excepting the
southern section of the county.

It can be stated that Berks count}' was then dis-
tinctively the most German county of the eleven
counties in the province. It was natural for the
electors of the county to show a positive sympathy
for this movement, because it was in accordance
with their notions of political freedom. They had
a firm belief in local government and desired to
carry it on successfully without unnecessary re-
strictions or burdens. Taxation without represen-
tation was to them an unreasonable and unjust doc-
trine, and they were not disposed to tolerate its
continued enforcement.

The system of militia, which had been provided
by the Assembly, was appreciated by them, and they
co-operated sincerely in its establishinent through-
out the county. They effected an organization and
responded to the call for troops in a willing and
prompt manner. The militia returns of the county
for 1775 show the organization of seven battalions;
and by July there were at least forty companies
ready to answer the call for military duty in actual
warfare. Their zeal will be more fully appreciated
when we understand that there was "^not a single
post-office in the county, and that the only means'of
dispatching- communications was by express riders.

Associators.— At the inception o'f the Revolution,
there were eleven counties in the province of Penn-
sylvania :







On June 30, 1775, the General Assembly ap-
proved of "the Association entered into by the
good people of this Colonv for the defense of their
lives, liberties and properties"; decided to pay the
necessary expenses of the officers and soldiers while
m active service, repelling any hostile invasion of
British or other troops : and recommended the coun-
ty commissioners of the several counties to "im-
mediately provide a proper number of good, new
firelocks with bayonets fitted to them," cartridge
boxes with twenty-three rounds of cartridges 'in
every box, and knapsacks." The allotted number
for Berks county was four hundred.

Edward Biddle and Henrv Christ were then the
representatives from Berks county ; and Biddle was



selected by the Assembly as one of the Committee
of Safety "for calling forth such and so many of
the Associators into actual service when necessity
requires." The committee consisted of twenty-five

The preamble to the Articles of Association read
as follows:

We, the officers and soldiers, engaged in the present
association for the defense of American liberty, being
fully sensible that the strength and security of any body
of men acting together consists in just regularity, due
subordination, and exact obedience to command, without
which no individual can have that confidence in the sup-
port of those about him, that is so necessary to give firm-
ness and resolution to the whole, do voluntarily and
freely, after consideration of the following articles,
adopt the same as the rules by which we agree and re-
solve to be governed in all our military concerns and
operations, until the same or any of them shall he
changed or dissolved by the Assembly or Provincial Con-
vention, or in their recess, by the Committee of Safety,
or a happy reconciliation shall take place between Great
Britain and the Colonies.

There were thirty-two articles which provided for
the regulation of military affairs, and these articles
the Associators were expected to sign. The Com-
mittee of Safety in Berks county recommended the
adoption of the Articles.

Recommendations for Companies. — On July
28, 1775, the Assembly approved of the resolution
of Congress, passed July 18th, which recommended:

That all able-bodied men between sixteen and sixty
years of age in each colony immediately form themselves
into regular companies to consist of one captain, two
lieutenants, one ensign, four sergeants, four corporals, a
clerk, drummer and fifer, and sixty-eight privates.

That the officers of each^ company be chosen by the
respective comjJanies.

That the companies be formed into Battalions, offi-
cered with a Colonel, Lieutenant-Colonel, two Majors,
and an Adjutant or Quartermaster.

That the officers above captain be appointed by the As-
sembly or by the Committee of Safety.

And that each soldier be furnished with a good musket
that will carry an ounce ball, with a bayonet, steel ram-
rod, worm priming wire with brush, fitted thereto, a cut-
ting sword or tomahawk, a cartridge box that will con-
tain twenty-three rounds of cartridges, 12 flints, and a

The musket barrels were three feet eight inches
long, and the bayonets sixteen inches long ; the bore
of the barrels of sufficient size to carry seventeen
balls to the pound.

County Colonels. — Delegates from the eleven
counties, numbering altogether fifty-three, assem-
bled at Philadelphia on Aug. 19, 1775, for the pur-
pose of adopting Articles of Association. They
were colonels of the Associated Battalions, and the
representatives from Berks county were:

Edward Biddle
Mark Bird

Daniel Brodhead Christian Lower
Balser Geehr

of Independence, and directing it to be read on
Monday, July 8th, at 12 o'clock noon, at the place
where the election of delegates was to be held.
This was done by Henry Vanderslice, the sheriff
of the county, on that day at the Court-House, on
Penn Square, the bell having been rung earnestly
beforehand, as elsewhere, to call the people together
so that they should learn the significance of that
important piiblic document.

Population and Districts. — In 1776, the terri-
tory of Berks county included not only that part
which lies within the present boundary lines to the
south of the Blue Mountain, but also nearly the
entire area of Schuylkill county to the north, the
excepted portion being about one-sixth part at the
eastern end. But that section beyond the mountain
was sparsely settled, the resident taxables number-
ing about one hundred and fifty, and the population
about six hundred. The total population (as near
as it can be estimated) was about twenty thousand ;
and the taxables numbered about four thousand, the
same number as those subject to military duty be-
tween the ages of eighteen and fifty-three years.
The estimated population of Pennsylvania then was
three hundred thousand white people, and two thou-
sand black.

The townships or districts established in the
county numbered twenty-nine. They were distrib-
uted as follows:


Manatawny Section

Alsace Douglass Reading

Amity Exeter Rockland

Colebrookdale Hereford Ruscombmanor

District Oley

Ontelaunee Section

Albany Maiden-creek Richmond

Greenwich Maxatawny Windsor



Schuylkill Section

Declaration Read in County. — In pursuance of

a resolution of Congress, the State Board of Safety

addressed a letter to the Committee of Berks County

on July 6, 1776, enclosing a copy of the Declaration




Tulpehocken Section

Bern Heidelberg



Brunswick and Pine-Grove.



The following companies from Berks county were
in the Revolution from its inception in 1775 to its
successful termination in 1783, so far as the com-
piler has been able to ascertain them. This table
is as complete as it can be made at this time and
presents sufficient evidence to show the patriotic
spirit of the people and the response they made to
the government in its numerous calls for troops.
The names of the colonels and captains only can
be given.




During the year 1775

Company of Capt. George Nagel (Reading), 95 men,
at Cambridge, Mass., from July, 1775, to March 1776.
He subsequently became a Colonel.

During the year 1776

Company of Capt. Jonathan Jones (Caernarvon), 83
men; at Montreal, Quebec, Ticonderoga, and Trenton
from January, 1776, to January, 1777.

Battalion of Col. Henry Haller (Reading), which com-
prised eight companies commanded by the following
captains :

John Spohn (Reading), 78 men
Peter Decker (Reading), 86 men
Henry Christ (Reading), 87 men
Joseph Hiester (Reading)
Jacob Graul (Reading)
Jacob Maurer (Maiden-creek)
John Ludwig (Heidelberg)
George Douglass (Amity)

The total number of men was estimated at 666. They
•were in active service at New York and Long Island
from June, 1776, to January, 1777. Lieut.-Col. Nicholas
Lotz was in command of the men, and he was among the
prisoners taken at the Battle of Long Island.

Also, in that vicinity dtiring August and September,

1776, four companies, estimated at 300 men, commanded
by the following captains :

John Old (District)
George Will (Reading), 72 men
Daniel Deturck (Alsace), 72 men
George May (Windsor)

Also, in that vicinity (South Amboy) during the same
time, four companies of the battalion of Col. John Pat-
ton (Heidelberg), estimated at 300 men, commanded by
the following captains :

John Lesher (Tulpehocken)
Michael Wolf (Bethel)
George Miller (Tulpehocken)
Michael Furrer (Tulpehocken)

Also, in that vicinity during the same time, the 4th
Battalion of Berks County Militia uder the command
of Col. Balser Geehr (Bern). It arrived at Bethlehem
on the way on Sept. 1st. The full battalion of six com-
panies is supposed to have gone to the field, but the
names of the captains and the number of men have not
been as yet ascertained; men estimated at 300.

Also, in that vicinity during the same time, the bat-
talion of Col. Mark Bird (Union), which he equipped at
his own expense. The names of the captains have not
been ascertained but the number of men was said to have
been about 300.

The company of Capt. Benjamin Weiser (Heidel-
berg), 53 men, was at Trenton in December, 1776, and at
Princeton in January, 1777.

The quota of 500 men from Berks county, made up
from the battalions of Col. Henry Haller and Col. Daniel
Hunter, were also in the vicinity of Trenton in Decem-
ber, 1776, and at Newtown, Bucks county, in January,

1777. Only five of the captains have been ascertained :

In the Haller battalion, three captains —

George Will (Reading), 40 men

John Diehl (Reading), 29 men

Nicholas Scheffer (Tulpehocken), 32 men
And in the Hunter battalion, two captains —

Conrad Eckert (Heidelberg)


In February, a detachment of the company of Capt.
Peter Nagel, 17 men, was detailed on duty to guard
prisoners at Reading.

In September, a detachment of the company of Capt.
Conrad Geist, 39 men, was detailed on duty also to guard
prisoners at Reading.

Besides the captains mentioned, there is positive evi-
dence that four additional captains were in the service
in the summer: Jacob Moser (Reading), John Soder

(Bern), Stephen Crumrine (Colebrookdale), and —

Moyer, they having been paid by the Executive Council.
Number of men estimated at 300.

During the year 1777
The companies commanded by the following captains
were enlisted in the Continental Line — men estimated at

3d Reg't, Peter Scull (Reading)
4th " John Mears (Reading)
6th " Jacob Moser (Reading), 67 men
6th " Jacob Bower (Reading)
11th " Samuel Dewees (Heidelberg)
12th " Peter Withington (Reading)
The battalion of Col. Daniel Hunter (Oley) was mus-
tered into service on Aug. 7, 1777, with 365 men, and
participated under General Washington in the campaigns
round about Philadelphia from August to December, dur-
ing which the battles of Brandywine and Germantown
were fought. It comprised six companies, which were
commanded by the following captains :
Henry Knause (Colebrookdale)
Charles Crouse (Longswamp)
Jacob Whetstone (Brunswick)
Conrad Geist (Reading)
John McMurray (Robeson)
John Lesher (Oley)
The battalion of Col. Daniel Udree (Oley) was mus-
tered in at the same time with 301 men, and was engaged
in the same service. It comprised six companies with
the following captains :

Stephen Crumrine (Colebrookdale)
Peter Smith (Reading)
Conrad Minich (Brunswick)
John Reitmyef (Reading)
John Essington (Union)
George Battorf (Bethel)

The battalion of Col. Michael Lindenmuth (Bern) was
mustered in on Sept. 27, 1777, with 286 men, and was en-
gaged in service in the Schuylkill Valley from that time
until Washington went into winter quarters at Valley
Forge on Dec. 18th, when it is supposed the men returned
to the county. It comprised six companies with the fol-
lowing captains :

Sebastian Lentz (Rockland)

Jacob Rodarmel (Richmond)

Francis Umbenhauer (Bern)

Daniel Deturck (Alsace)

John Wagner (Bern)

Daniel Womelsdorf (Heidelberg)

The battalion of Col. Joseph Hiester (Reading) was
■mustered in at the same time with 263 men, and was en-
gaged in the same service as the Lindenmuth battalion. It
comprised six companies with the following captains:

Jacob Roth (Amity)
Jacob Dreibelbis (Greenwich)
Sebastian Emrich (Bethel)
Peter Nagel (Reading)
John Graul (Reading)
Conrad Weiser (Heidelberg)

The battalion of Col. Henry Spyker (Tulpehocken) was
mustered in on Nov. 9, 1777, and was engaged in the serv-
ice for sixty days in the Schuylkill Valley, between Valley
Forge and Germantown. It comprised seven companies
and 367 men, with the following captains :

Michael Voyge (Richmond)
Jacob Shadel (Bern)



George Riehm (Cumru)

Jacob Rhoads (Amity)

Michael Bretz (Pine Grove)

Conrad Eckert (Heidelberg)

Henry Weaver (Tulpehocken)
The battalion of Col. Jacob Weaver (Amity) was mus-
tered in on Dec. 13, 1777, and was also engaged in the
service for sixty days in the same vicinity as the Spyker
battalion. It comprised eight companies and 361 men,
with the following captains :

Daniel Reiff (Oley)

Henry Egijer (Longswamp)

Ferdinand Ritter (Albany)

Sebastian Miller (Cumru)

Philip Krick (Cumru)

David Morgan (Caernarvon)

Jacob Kreamer (Bethel)

Philip Filbert (Heidelberg)
The company of Capt. Charles Crouse (Longswamp),
with 40 men, was on guard duty at the Windsor powder
magazine for some time before Jan. 3, 1778.

The company of Capt. Jacob Hill (Windsor), with 41
men, was mustered into service on Oct. 25, 1777, and was
also stationed at the same powder magazine for some time,
doing guard duty.

_ And two companies, each comprising 40 men, were sta-
tioned at Reading in September, for the purpose of guard-
ing the military stores — the names of the commanding
officers not having been ascertained.

During the year 1778

In January, General Washington recommended that
Capt.' Edward Scull (Reading) should recruit 150 men
in Berks county for the Battalion of the State in the
Continental Army, which was done. ,

A company, commanded by Lieut. Joseph Talbot
(Caernarvon), with 54 men, was mustered into service on
Jan. 5th, and detailed for guard duty at Reading.

In April, 200 men were ordered on guard duty at Read-
ing, and 10 men on guard duty at Boone's Mill (supposed
to have been in Exeter).

During the middle of this year, 16 men were enlisted
at Reading to make up the company of Capt. Bartholomew
Von Heer, for the purpose of performing provost duty.
They were mounted and accoutered as Light Dragoons,
to apprehend deserters, rioters and stragglers.

Col. Jacob Morgan reported in August that he had for-
warded 180 men to Sunbury, and 133 men to Easton to
render frontier service against the Indians.

Two battalions, the quota ordered from Berks county,
were sent to Philadelphia in October, to serve under Gen-
eral Armstrong, in anticipation of an invasion by the Brit-
ish, the number of men being estimated at 500.

During the year 1779
No evidence of the enlistment ^of men from Berks coun-
ty during this year has been discovered, nor any orders
from the Executive Council to the lieutenant of the
county for men.

During the year 1780

In May, one class of men, numbering 60 men, was
taken from the battalion of Col. Michael Lindenmuth
(Bern) for frontier service.

In June, a company of 53 men was raised as volun-
teers in Berks county and sent to Philadelphia under the

Online LibraryMorton L. (Morton Luther) MontgomeryHistorical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families, comp. by Morton L. Montgomery .. → online text (page 31 of 227)