George R. Prowell.

History of York County Pennsylvania (Volume II) online

. (page 27 of 201)
Online LibraryGeorge R. ProwellHistory of York County Pennsylvania (Volume II) → online text (page 27 of 201)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

and the name with its peculiar orthography has
become widespread.

Michael Betz, of the third generation, was
a son of John George Betz (2) and was born
in 1776 at White Oak, where he died in 1824,
aged forty-seven years.

George Betz, son of Michael and a repre-
sentative of the fourth generation in America,
was born in 1812. He did a large business in
the sandstone and marble industry, and was
also proprietor of the well-known "Union
Square Hotel" in Lancaster county from 1844
to 1848. This was before the era of railroads,
especially before long lines were extended over
the country. Stock was then brought from the
West, chiefly from Ohio, in droves. Hotels
dotted the highways, averaging one to every
mile. From three to five droves stopped at a
hotel nightly during the season, the farmers in
the vicinity making a business of furnishing
pasture to drovers. The hotel prices for en-
tertainment, which were regulated by custom,
were very moderate in those days.

In 1849 George Betz and his family re-
moved to Ohio, locating in the Western Re-
serve. The journey was made by canal, a dis-
tance of thirty miles being covered in a day
and a night. The start was made from Colum-
bia, Pa., at sundown, and sometime during
the next morning the travelers passed through
Harrisburg, which was then a town of less
than six thousand inhabitants.' At Hollisdays-
burg, which is now six miles from Altoona
f which did not then exist, nor was the Penn-
sylvania railroad built across the mountains),
the boats were floated on trucks, and drawn by
stationary engines up five inclined planes, as-
cending, and lowered down five inclined planes,
descending. This railroad across the Alle-
ghanies was thirty-six miles in length, and
terminated at Johnstown, where the journey
by canal was resumed by the same boat, to
Pittsburg. The boat was then towed down
the Ohi-o river by steamboat to Beaver, where
the canal was again taken, the journey being
pursued by way of Canton, Akron and Massil-

lon, where it terminated. Thence — some fifty
miles further — the trip was continued by
wagons. The whole trip required from May
2 to May 18, 1848, a period of sixteen days,
the distance being 400 miles. The return trip
was made ten years later by railroad in eigh-
teen hours. Before the days of the canal
many travelers made the journey on foot.
"Movings," as they were termed, were made
by wagon. In fact, during the forties and fif-
ties the roads from May till September were
lined from morning till night by what were
later termed " prairie schooners." Thus the
Great West was peopled in earlier days. Later
the railroads went ahead of the settlers. In
the thirties and forties Northern Ohio was a
comparatively new country and was known as
"the West." Even now our extreme Western
States and Territories hardly present as many
indications of newness as Northern Ohio did
in those days. The country was heavily tim-
bered, and had only been opened to settlement
after the second war with Great Britain, some
twenty or thirty years previously. In 1848
the traces of primitive settlement were still
strongly in evidence. All buildings, such as
they were, were constructed of oak timber. No
sawmills existed. Iron was heavy, and not
easily transported, and besides the means of
the settlers did not permit it. Hardware, in-
cluding nails, was used sparingly, and it was
curious to observe how necessity became the
mother of invention. The heavy growth of
timber and great abundance of nuts caused
game to be plentiful. The younger men be-
came adepts in the uses of the' axe and the rifle.
Log-rollings and quiltings afforded an outlet
to the social instincts of life. The countn,- was
largely peopled by New Englanders, and was
often called "New Connecticut." In fact, it
was often said that a streak of Yankeedom ran
all the 'way from Connecticut to Nebraska in
this latitude., and after due consideration it
would seem that there was a large element of
truth in the assertion. The New Englanders
made their impress upon the community.
They founded and encouraged good schools,
which were very effective. In those days all
school visitors were "loaded'up" with speeches,
and no visit was complete unless the visitor
was heard from. A stock assertion was that
if the "scholars" were faithful and industrious
thev might some dav become Presidents of the



United States ! It would seem the orators
builded better than they knew, since the Re-
serve furnished three Presidents, two out of
the same regiment, the 23d Ohio, through
Hayes and McKinley, while Garfield com-
manded the 42d Ohio. Probably more might
have been supplied, but the truth remains there
was not "enough to go around." The West-
ern Reserve contained many men who later
became conspicuous in public life, among
whom may be named Senator William B. Alli-
son, of Iowa; Mayor Strong, of New York
City; Judge Peter S. Grosscup, of Chicago;
the Studebaker Brothers, of South Bend, Ind. ;
George Kennan, the Siberian writer and trav-
eler; Wilson Shannon, the earlier Territorial
Governor of Kansas; John Brown, who later
became noted on the plains of Kansas and in
the mountains of Virginia; and many others.

The southern part of Ohio produced the
cattle which supplied the eastern markets.
The northern part supplied the sheep, the rais-
ing and shearing of which, with droving to the
East, became a noted business. It required
from thirty-five to forty days and more, at
times, to take a drove of sheep from there to
eastern Pennsylvania. They traveled very
slowly, on the average not more than eight to
ten miles daily. To deliver a drove in the
East in good condition required good judg-
ment and care. Cattle traveled much faster,
and were not so easily overdriven. Turkey
droving required care and short days, since
if driven too late in the day the turkeys would

George Betz dealt largely in stock, es-
pecially horses and sheep. The exercising of
the former afforded great pleasure to his sons,
while the droving of sheep to the East left
vivid recollections. During one of their trips
the father bought the brownstone quarry and
farm at Goldsboro, York Co., Pa., of Mr.
Symington, of Baltimore, and removed there
with his family during 1857. He worked the
business properly until the commencement of
the Civil war, when everything in the building
line had to yield to the preservation of the
Union. He also had an interest in the Hum-
melstown sandstone quarry in its early days.
His practical knowledge of the stone business,
as applied, to the arts, was large and varied,
and his judgment seldom went amiss in rela-
tion thereto, ^^'hile still in Ohio, during the

decade of the fifties, the sons became interested
in the Anti-slavery movement and the Under-
ground Railroad. Reform ideas were con-
stantly at work on the Reserve. They be-
came readers of the Columbus Ohio State
Journal, which teemed with the accounts and
fomentation aroused by the Christiana tragedy,
which occurred in Lancaster county. Pa. They
also were introduced to Greeley's New York
Tribune, Garrison's Liberator, and the Anti-
Slavery Bugle, of Salem, Columbiana Co.,
Ohio, which sounded in no uncertain tones.

George Betz married Rebecca Hummer,
daughter of Jacob and Rebecca (Freimeier)
Hummer, and they became the parents of four
sons and two daughters, who were all given
good educational advantages. George Betz
died in Mechanicsburg, Cumberland Co., Pa.,
iin 1885, aged seventy-three years, and his
wife passed away in Lewisberry, York Co.,
Pa., in 1871, aged sixty years.

Jacob Hummer was a son of John George
Hummer, was born at New Holland, Lancaster
Co., Pa., in 1758, and died at White Oak, Pa.,
in 1854, aged ninety-six years. His wife, Re-
becca Freimeier, passed away in 18 15, aged
thirty-eight years. One of their daughters,
Catherine Hummer, married a nephew of Dr.
Benjamin Rush, of Philadelphia. The Frei-
meiers were people of note, and lived at New
Holland, Lancaster county, where they settled
at the time of their emigration from Germany.
Several members of the family had attained
important positions in official life before re-
moving from the Fatherland.

Dr. Israel H. Betz, son of George,
was born in Penn township, Lancaster Co.,
Pa., Dec. 16, 1 84 1. When he was six years
old his parents removed to Ashland, Ohio,
where he was reared. He was given good edu-
cational advantages and did not neglect them,
later becoming a teacher in the public schools
of York and Lancaster counties. He also at-
tended the Cumberland Valley Institute, con-
ducted by I. D. Rupp, the local historian, and
A. F. Mullin, and later for several years at-
tended the Normal School at Millersville. In
1865 he commenced the study of medicine
with Dr. William E. Swiler, in Yocumtown,
York county, and later attended the Jefferson
^iledical College, at Philadelphia, graduating
in 1868. He located in Cumberland county
and practiced there continuously a quarter of



a century, and now lives in York, whither he
removed from the Cumljerland Valley, antl
where he is still engaged in the practice of
medicine. He is a member of the York County
Medical Society and of the State Medical So-
ciety of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the
York County Historical Society and of the
Kansas State Historical Society. All his life
he has been a student and a lover of literature,
and has written much for publication. He has
accumulated a large library, rich in works on
medicine, science, philosophy and general lit-
erature, to which notwithstanding a busy life
he has given much attention. His pen has
given to the world a number of volumes on
Genealogy, which required great labor and re-
search. Local history has interested him in
every locality in which he resided.

In 1869 Dr. Betz was married to Miss Re-
becca F. Weitzel, daughter of John and Nancy
(Fisher) Weitzel, the former of whom lived
in Fairview township, York county, and died
during Mrs. Betz's infancy. Her mother died
some years ago in Springetsbury township,
York county, reaching almost ninety years of

John Weitzel, her parental grandfather,
was of Dauphin county, and he was survived
by his widow, Christina (Marsh) Weitzel,
who was born in 1777 and died in 1850. She
was buried in the Weitzel plot at Salem
United Brethren Church, in Fishing Creek

John Weitzel, father of Mrs. Dr. Betz,
was one of the original members of Salem
Church, and was also the first person to be
buried in its cemetery on the completion of
the church, in 1844, i" the erection of which
he had taken a very active part.

Gottlieb Fisher, the maternal great-grand-
father of Mrs. Dr. Betz, was an early settler
of Fishing Creek Valley in York county. From
Gottlieb Fisher and his wife, Ursula Fisher,
sprang a large number of descendants in the
upper end of the county, many of whom have
removed to distant localities. His son David
Fisher was the grandfather of Mrs. Betz.
Seven generations of the Fisher family have
been residents of York county.

Another of the sons of George Betz was
Reuben Betz, a resident of Newberry town-
ship, the deed to whose farm is, perhaps, thus
far the oldest in the York County Historical

Society, bearing the date of 1735. His house,
built of sandstone as early as 1780, was the
scene of a thrilling occurrence about 1830. It
was a station on the "Underground Railroad,"
and a fugitive slave being secreted under its
hospitable roof the house was searched from
cellar to garret, by the slave catchers, after
they had traced their "property." The fugitive,
Ijeing driven to the garret, jumped out of the
east window, a height of twenty-two feet. He
ran, but was brought to the ground by heavy
fowling-pieces, sixteen buckshot striking him.
They were extracted, and the fugitive was
taken back to Virginia as a warning to curb
the aspirations of freedom in the breasts of
others. But he died of his wounds later.

George Betz, of the fifth generation, son
of George Betz, lives in Solomon Valley,
Kans., and is a prosperous farmer and stock
grower. Earlier in life he was a teacher. His
son, Getorge Betz, Jr., represents the sixth

Milton Betz, son of George Betz, resides
near Dover, and is a successful fruit grower.
One of his sons has become a resident of Nome
City, Alaska.

Mrs. Eliza Garretson, daughter of George
Betz, died in Newberry township some years
ago, after a long affliction, in which she was
tenderly cared for and nursed by her husband,
Jacob Garretson.

The remaining sister, Hattie, was for a
number of years a teacher in Newberry town-
ship, but for a long time has been an invalid.

Six generations of the Betz family have
descended from the original settler, John
George Betz, and each generation save one has
had a namesake of the original progenitor, al-
though the name, John George, has given way
to George.

Much can be said about the origin of sur-
names, and it has been remarked that the man
who could, give the origin of geographical and
biographical names would know more about a
country and its people than any other who has
ever lived. That is probably true, were it pos-
sible, still the pursuit and study of the subject
is a matter of rare interest and fascination. As
regards general biographical history, the time
must come when all researches in this direction
will be treasured as rare and valuable acquisi-
tions by those who will live in the future.
Ever}" scrap of family history will be eagerly



scanned by the descendants of past generations,
and such biographical collections as are em-
braced in volumes like the present, though
necessarily brief, will have an important value.
The present generation would do a noble work
in making scrap books relating to personal and
genealogical traits, and transmitting them to
posterity. Newspapers bound in volumes
would be a valuable acquisition if such volumes
were preserved and handed down to the future.
Owing to necessary and unavoidable changes
which occur in the personnel of communities
such collections too often become lost and
scattered. • Historical Societies established
and supported would overcome the difficulty in
part, as everything of rare historic or per-
sonal interest should be preserved for future

America is destined to have a glorious his-
tory, and it is precisely in the direction to
which we have alluded that the greatest inter-
est will focus. It is so in the careers of indi-
viduals who rise to celebrity. We turn to their
earlier years, and the most trite and common-
place incidents become invaluable. Lincoln,
Garfield and McKinley are cases in point of
illustration. In a country so widely extended
as the United States, where constant removals
are occurring, unless some such means are put
in requisition it will be extremely difficult to
trace relationships after a great lapse of time.
European countries have possessed certain ad-
vantages which are not possible under our in-
stitutions. Removals there from one country
to another are comparatively rare and there-
fore produce no perceptible changes. The
preservation of parish records, in which much
of the population figures, often throws much
light upon genealogical descent. But while
such countries afford great facilities for re-
search it must be frankly admitted that their
subjects do not afford striking instances of
favorable changes in worldly conditions to the
extent they do in the United States. We stand
upon the threshold of a mighty future, in
whicb great possibilities are involved. This
pertains not only to the aggregate, but to the
individual unit, as is becoming more and more
evident. Formerly the aggregate counted for
much, the .unit very little. All has been
changed by the growing intelligence of the
age and its marvelous achievements, in which
the individual has taken a leading part. This

is the outcome of free institutions, based on
intelligence, and fostered and awakened by
popular education. Unless the dial of progress
is turned backward by some great moral con-
vulsion, we believe that the coming Republic
of Republics will crystallize, and become a fac-
tor in the economy of the world.

ADAM S. SEITZ (deceased) was born
in Shrewsbury township, Feb. 5, 1826, son of
Rev. John Seitz, a local minister in the Evan-
gelical Church, born March 22, 177S.

Rev. John Seitz died July 4, 1856, aged
seventy-eight years, three months and twelve
days. His wife, Eva Stabler (now Stabley),
tO' whom he was married March 10, 1801, was
born March 18, 1785,, and died Oct. 3, 1856,
aged seventy-one years, six months and six-
teen days. They followed farming in Shrews-
bury township, and were interred at Mt. Zion
cemetery in Springfield township, near the
Shrewsbury township line. They had chil-
dren: Samuel, born Jan. 30, 1802; Daniel,
born April 26, 1803, a sketch of whom will be
found elsewhere; Jacob, born Feb. 21, 1805,
died Jan. 2, 1894, aged eighty-eight years, ten
months and eleven days ; Catherine, born July
4, 1806; Elizabeth, born Sept, 14, 1808:
George, born Oct. 20, 1810; Samuel, born Dec.
28, 181 1, died May 23, 1893, aged eighty-one
years, one month and twenty-one days ; Chris-
tine, born July 4, 1813; John, born Sept. 24,
1814; Joseph, born March 16, 1816: Noah,
born May 22, 1817; Magdalena, born June 16,
1819; Catherine, born Aug. 24, 182 1 ; Adam;
and Benjamin, born May 15. 1827.

Adam S. Seitz spent his early life in
Shrewsbury township, where he engaged in
farming, later locating in Springfield township.
He married Marian Miller, born Feb. 17, 1830,
daughter of Michael Miller. They purchased
the old Daniel Ludwig farm of 115 acres, in
Shrewsbury township, near the line of Spring-
field township, and there Mr. Seitz died Feb.
12, 1905. aged seventy-nine years, seven days,
and was buried at Mt. Zion's Church in Spring-
field township. His children were : Malinda,
who died young; Sarah, who also died
young; Sophia, wife of Frank Good-
ling, deceased ; Celesta ; Cathnrine F. ; Mel-
vina; Ida, wife of George Miller of York; J.
Edwin, a clerk in the York postoffice; Seth G.,
who attended the York Countv Academv, the



\\'estchester Normal School, and taught eleven
years in Shrewsbury township; one that died
in infancy; and Irene, who taught school in
Shrewsbury township.

Politically Mr. Seitz was a Republican. On
Oct. lo, 1862, he enlisted in Company B, unat-
tached regiment, under Capt. Edwin J.
Luthers, and was in the service until July 12,
1863. In his religious belief he was a member
of the Evangelical Church, in which he always
took an active part.

family long settled in York county. He is a
grandson of Jacob Gable, who is mentioned

Jacob Gable, father of John Wesley, was
a native of Chanceford township, York coun-
ty, where he was born early in the nineteenth
century. He had little schooling, and began
his life work of tarming in his boyhood. His
marriage to Anna Maria Jackson took place in
Upper vVindsor, York county, and they set-
tlea on the farm where they passed the re-
mainder of their lives. They were Evangelical
in their religious faith, and lived to a good old
age. Mrs. Gable died in 1892, at the age 01
seventy-nine, and her husband in 1893, at the
age of eighty-two. Their children were as
follows : Elizabeth, who married Henry
Kreidler, of Jacobus, York county; Priscilla,
who married John Snyder, and died in York
township; Samuel, who married Amanda
Overmiller, and lived at Loganville, York
■county; Mary, who married William Lehman,
of York county; Jacob, who married Barbara
Dehoff; John Wesley, who is mentioned be-
low; Sarah, who married William Shearer, of
York; Amanda, who married J. S. Billet, of
York; and George F., who married Melinda
Hively, and lives in Hellam, a sketch of whom
appears elsewhere. Jacob Gable, father of this
family, was all his life a stanch adherent of
the Republican party.

Anna Maria (Jackson) Gable, wife of
Jacob, was a daughter of Abraham and Pris-
-cilla (Clayton) Jackson, both natives of Mary-
land, and the latter of English descent. Abra-
ham Jackson was born Nov. 20, 1783, was a
soldier in the Mexican war, and at its close
moved from Maryland to Upper Windsor,
York county, where he spent the rest of his

life. He was a famous wood chopper in his
day, and could cut and split more wood in a
given time than any other man in the region.
He lived to be ninety-two years of age, and his
wife reached the age of ninety, both dying at
the home of their son-in-law, Jacob Gable,
where they had lived for nearly a quarter of
a century. They had the following children:
Abraham, who died young; Anna Maria, born
April 18, 1813, who married Jacob Gable;
Henrietta, born May 2, 181 5,. who died in
childhood ; Joseph Addison, born April 22,
181 7, who died in Millersburg, Pa.; Granville,
born May 22, 1819, who was a minister of the
Gospel, and died in Springfield township, York
county; Mary, who married Levi Knaub, and
died in Upper Windsor township; Priscilla,
born Sept. 25, 1823, who married John Wal-
ker, and died in York ; Hannah, bom Dec. 6,
1825, who married John Fried, and lives in
Spring Garden, York county; William, de-
ceased, who was born Oct. 16, 1826; and John,
born Dec. 9, 1830, who died in Allegheny City,

John Wesley Gable was born on the home
farm in Upper Windsor, June 4, 1844, and as
a child attended school in that township. When
a mere boy he could do a man's work at crad-
ling and binding wheat and oats, holding his
own with the best. At the age of fourteen he
left home and went to work as a clerk in the
store of Alexander Blessing, at Hellam, where
he remained a year, and during the following
three years held a position as clerk with M. W.
Bahn, in his store and freight room connected
with the postoffice at New Freedom. With
the money earned in that way he was enabled
to spend six months in study with Messrs.
Heiges & Boyd, of York, then went to
Poughkeepsie, N. Y., and took a course in the
Eastman Business College. Returning to the
employ of Mr. Bahn for another two years, he
next came back to Hellam, and went into busi-
ness with J. A. Blessing in the same store
where he had begun life as a clerk. The part-
nership continued a year, after which Mr.
Gable took entire charge of the business for
four years. He then leased the store for five
years, but there being only a verbal agreement
Mr. Blessing, at the end of the second year,
refused to allow him the further use of the
building. Mr. Gable, who had just com-



pleted a fine residence, was not anxious to
build a new store, and also feared there was
not enough trade to support two stores in the
place. In his difficulty he took the advice of a
iriend, David Stoner, a Dunkard preacher, who
said to him : "Johnnie, you could always make
money; go in and win, and build." Mis suc-
cess has proved the wisdom of this advice.
For over thirty years Mr. Gable carried on a
cigar manufacturing business, as well as his
store, but has now withdrawn from both.

John Wesley Gable married in Hellam,
Sept. 25, 1875, Elizabeth M. Hiestand, daugh-
ter of Henry and Susan (Loucks) Hiestand.
They have had two children : Susan H., who
married Harry E. Frank, of York, and is the
mother of two boys, John Gable and Henry
Hiestand ; and Chauncey, who died in in-

Mr. Gable served as postmaster at Hellam
from 1875 until Cleveland's first administra-
tion ; he was re-appointed under Harrison ; out
again during Cleveland's second term; again
re-appointed by McKinley, and holds the po-
sition today. When he first became postmaster
there were two mails a week at his office; he
soon succeeded in having a daily mail, and in
less than two years there were two mails each
day. At present five daily mails are received,
and six sent out.

Mr. Gable owns considerable property, in-
cluding two fine farms, one of 120 acres in
Hellam township, and one of 114 acres in
Springetsbury township. He also owns a ten
acre lot near Hellam, and fifteen acres of
woodland in Hellam, on which is the historic
Chimney Rock. He still owns the store which
he built on the advice of his preacher friend,
and the house and lot adjoining; he has prop-
erty in York, on College avenue, and at the cor-
ner of Girard street and the plank road. In
Hellam he owns eight fine building lots, and

Online LibraryGeorge R. ProwellHistory of York County Pennsylvania (Volume II) → online text (page 27 of 201)