John Fanning Watson.

Annals of Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania, in the olden time; online

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was a wood in the time of the war. In it were thirty Oneida Indians,
and one hundred of Morgan's riflemen, who raised a warwhoop and
frightened Lord Carthcart when in a conference with M'Lane.

A British picket lay in the present yard of Philip Weaver, and
several were shot and buried there. The most advanced picket
Mood at Mount Airy, and was wounded there.

Gen. Agnew and Col. Bird, of the British army, are both buried
in the lower burying ground, side by side, next to Mro. Lamb's grave*



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40 Pennsylvania Inland. — Germantown,

stone, (south- west side of it,) at ten feet from Rapp's wall, in a Iin«
with the south-west end of his stable. Gen. Agnew showed great
kindness to old Mrs. Soramers. Col. Bird died in Bringhurst's big
house, and said to the woman there, ^^ woman, pray for me, I leave a
widow and four chHdren." The late Mr Burrill, whose father was
gmve-digger, told me he saw them buried there. They now have astone.

When the British were in Germantown, they took up all the
fences and made the rails into huts, by cutting down all the buck-
wheat, putting it on the rails, and ground over that. No fences
remained. GSen. Howe lived a part of his lime at the house now S.
B. Morris', so said B. Lehman. B. Lehman was an apprentice to
Mr. Knorr, a carpenter, and went to the city with half a calf on his
shoulder, for which he got quickly 2s. 6d., metal money, per pound,
he also sold his old hen for I dollar! He saw there men come
stealthily from Skippack, with butter carried on their backs in boxes,
which they sold at 5s. There were woods all along the township
line to near the city, and they could steal their way through them.
Lehman was out two months in the militia diaft, but never in
battle, he got 200 dollars paper money ; for 100 dollars he bought a
sleigh ride, and for the other 100 dollars a pair of shoes ! Samuel
Widdes, in Germantown, used to go to the city with a wheelbarrow
to take therein apples and pears, which he sold high. Lehman,
and all the other boys, went to meeting in tow trowsers and shirts,
without jackets or shoes. What homely days! At that time, and
during ail the war, all business was at a stand. Not a house was
roofed or mended in Germantown in five or six years. Most persons
who had any substance lived in part on what they could procure on
loan. The people, pretty generally, were mentally averse to the
war — equal, certainly, to two-thirds of the population of the place
who felt as if they had any thing to lose by the contest So several
have told me.

Mrs. Bruner, who died in Germantown, in 1835, at the age of
80, the wife of a blacksmith, in respectable circumstances, had been
the mother of twelve children, and kept her house with such a
family more than sixty years of her hfe without ever having had
any hired help. She had done all her own work and done it well ;
and very often, in her younger days, she had sat down every night,
after her 4iouse work was done, to make leather gloves for pay as a
seamstress. She was but a specimen of many of her day, who
looked to such industry as a means to acquire a small estate at the
end of a long hfe. Industry became so habitual to both husband
and wife, that they knew not, in time, how to rest when idle. The
family was pious, benevolent and kind. When shall we see such
people among the modems?

The trustees of the Academy of Germantown, in the year 1793,
had applications from the State^ and United States, to rent theii
academy for their use. It was thereupon resolved by the tnistees,
on the 26th October, 1793, that they would take measures to accom-



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Pennsylvania Inland. — Germantovm. 41

modate the Congress of the United States^ at their next session,
with the use of the same, for the sum of 300 dollars. Only think of
such a school-house, of eighty by fifty feet, being seriously purposed
for the use of the American congress. The congress was then so
small ; it is now so great

The circumstance which led to the intended application of the
bouse, grew out of an inquiry made by Gen. Washington, who then
resided in Germantown, in the house afterwards for many years the
summer residence of the Perot family — now of Saumel B. Morris.
In 1793, when Gen. Washington dwelt in Grennantown, the town
was held as the government place of the slate of Pennsylvania and
of the United Slates ; and this was because of the necessary retreat
of the officers and offices, from the city of Philadelphia, where the
yellow fever was raging with destructive effect. At that time the
office of stale, &c., of Pennsylvania, was held in the stone house
next above B. Lehman's. There you could every day see Governor
Mifflin and his secretary of stale, A. J. Dallas. The house now
the Bank of Gennanlown was occupied by Thomas Jeffersouj as
secretary of state of the United Stales, and by Mr. Randolph, as
attorney general. The Bank of the United States was located in the
three-storied stone house of Billings, and when its treasure was
brought, it was guarded by a troop of horse. OeHers, once cele-
brated for his great hotel for the congressmen, in Chestnut street, had
his hotel here, in the house since Clement Bringhursi's; and, at that
house, filled with lodgers, the celebrated Bates, of comic memory,
used to hold musical soirees at 50 cents a head, to help to moderate
the gloom of the sad times. At that time, the whole town was
crowded with strangers and boarders; and especially by numerous
French emigrants, escaped from the massacre of St. Domingo.

It was then expected that the next, or future years, might be
again visited by yellow fever ; and, therefore, numerous engagements
of houses, and purchases of grounds at increased prices were made,
to insure a future refuge. In this way, the Banks of North America
and of Pennsylvania found a place in the Academy in the* next
fever, which occurred in 1798.

It ought to be mentioned as a peculiar circumstance connected
with Perot's house, before mentioned, that it had been the residence
severally of Gen. Howe, the British commander in the war of the
revolution, and at the same time^ the home of the then youth. Prince
William, the late king of England, William IV.; afterwards, in
1793, the residence of Gen. Washington, while President of the
United States. Look at iu size as then regarded good enough and
large enough for a president, in contrast with the present presidential
palace at Washington city ! It is thus that we are rapidly growing as
a nation from small things to great things !

The French West India residents that were in Germantown, were
of various complexions, were dressed in clothing of Su Domingo
feshion, presenting a peculiarity of costume; and showing much

Vol. II— P 4*



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42 Pemtsylvania Inland. — Crermantoum.

gayety of manners. They filled the streets with French convcreation
by day — for they were all idlers ; and with much of music at night.
They were withal great shooters, and killed and eat all manner of
birds without discrimination — they saying (hat crows, swallows, &c.
were as good as others, as all depended upon the style of the cooking.

I have seen or known of several ofiScers of the Revolution, who
had been in the battle of Germantown, who came again, in advanced
age, to revisit the active scenes of their military prowess ; so came
Capt. Blakemore and Capt. Slaughter, both of the Virginia regiment ;
so Col. Pickering, of New England ; so some of the relatives of Gen.
Agnew, who was killed, <S6c. What scenes for them to remember
afresh.

Intimately connected with the fame and reputation of German-
town is the now frequently visited stream, the Wissahiccon, made
attractive by its still native wildness, and rugged, rocky, woody chn*
racter ; there is also there, under the name of the " Monastery of
the Wissahiccon^'^ a three-storied ancient stone building of an oblong
square, situated on high ground, near to a woody, romantic dell,
through which the Wissahiccon finds its meandering way. About
this house, so secluded and little known to the mass of the people,
there have been sundry vague and mysterious reports and traditions
of its having been once occupied as a monastery. A name, and
purpose of use, sufi^ciently startling, even now, to the sensibility of
sundry protestants.

The place was last owned and occupied by Joshua Garsed — a large
manufacturer of flax-thread, twine, &c. — who has shut up many of
the windows, which were fonnerly equal to four to every chamber,
making two on every front or angle of the square. Those who saw
the structure sixty years ago, say that it then had a balcony all
around the house at the floor of the second story. The tale told in
the early days of the present aged neighbours was, (hat it once con-
tained monks of " the Seventh-day Baptist order," and that they used
wooden blocks for pillows [like those at Ephrata,] scallopped out so
as to -fit the head. Some have also said that they remembered to
have seen, near to the house, small pits and hillocks which indicated
a fonner burial place, since turned into cultivation.

With such traditionary data for a starting point, it has become
matter of interest to many, who are curious in the history of the
past, to learn what further facts we can produce, concerning the pre-
mises. If the house should have been built as early as 1708 — when
Kelpius, the hermit, died " at the Ridge," it may have been con-
structed by the forty students from Germany — the Pietists who came
out in 1694, with Kelpius, to live a single life in the wilderness; but
if it was built, as is most piobable, and as has been said, by Joseph
Goiigas, a Tunker-Baptist, who intended it as a branch of the brother-
hood established at Ephrata near Lancaster, and to whom he aAer«
wards moved and joined himself, — (hen he must have built it beforo
the year 1745, when Conrad Matthias, '^ the last of the Ridge her*



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Pen7isylvania hUind. — GermarUown. ^ 43

mils" died. It is known, by " the Chroniea Ephrata/' — a folio,
ihat there was a brotherly affinity between " the Ridge hermits" (of
Roxborough) and those of Ephrata. After Joseph Gorgas had gone
to Ephrala, the premises, with a farm of seventy acres and a grist
mill, fell to his son John Gorgas ; from him it was sold about the
time of the Revolution, to Edward Miller ; — thence to Peter Care,
fifty years ago, who held it till about the year 1800. Then it was
bought by John Livezey, miller ; next by Longstreth, who made it
a paper mill; and lately and lastly, by Joshua Garsed & Co. Since
their possession of the premises, they have considerably increased
the numbers and size of the buildings along the creek; and tjie
Monastery House they have converted into an agreeable dwelling,
changing and modernizing the internal forms of the rooms — taking
out all the corner chimneys, &c.

The scenery from this house, and from the dell below, is very
romantic, rugged, and in nature's wildest mood, — presenting, particu-
larly, very high and mossy rocks, studded with stunted trees — the
whole standing out very perpendicularly into the line of the Wissa-
hiccon, and turning it off very abruptly in another direction.

It was in the year 1732, that the religionists of Ephrata first
agreed to quit their foimer solitary life, and to dwell tc^ether in
monastic society as monks. This they did first, in May 1733. Their
book of chronicles says, that '^ the society was enlarged by members
from the banks of the Wissahiccon.'* Of course, intimating and
confirming the idea already advanced, that there was a brotherhood
<^ their order, dwelling at or near the place now called the Monastery.

Christopher Ludwick, once an inhabitant of Philadelphia and Ger-
mantown, — interred at the Lutheran ground in said town, in 1801, at
the age of 81 years, was quite a character in his day ; and deserves
some special notice. A short memoir of his life has been drawn up
and published by Doctor Rush; he deeming him to be a person fully
worthy the efiTori of his pen to report him, as an exemplary and
valuable citizen. He was by birth a German, bora in 1720 ; by trade
a baker. In early life he enlisted in the Austrian army and served
in the war against the Turks. At Prague he endured the hardships
of the seventeen weeks' si^e. AAer its conquest by the French in
1741, he enlisted and served in the army of Prussia. At the peace,
he entered an Indiaman, and went out to India under Boscawen ;
afterwards he was in many voyages, from 1745 to 1752, from Lon-
don to Holland, Ireland and the West Indies, as a sailor. In 1753,
he sailed to Philadelphia with an adventure of .1^25 worth of clothing,
on which he made a profit of $300, and again returned to London.
He had taken the idea of becoming a gingerbread baker in Phila-
delphia; and in 1754 he came out with the necessary prittts — a
seemingly new idea among the simple cake eaters then ! He began
his career i?i Leetitin court, and began to make money fast by his
uew employment. He proved himself an indusUrious^ honest and



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44 Pewtsylvctnia Inland. — Gennaniaum.

good neighbour, which led to a deserved influence among the people
and to the soubriquet of the *• governor of Lselilia court."

At the commencing period of the Revolution in 1774, he had be-
come rich, and gave his influence and his money freely, to help on
the resistance of the colonies. He was elected readily on all the
committees and conventions of the time, for that object. On one
occasion, when it was proposed by General Mifflin to procure fire
arms by private subscriptions, and whilst several demurred to it as
unfeasible, he put down the opposition, by saying aloud, let the
poor gingerbread baker be set down for iff200! In the summer of
1776, he acted as a volunteer in the flying camp, trt/Aot^ pay. He
possessed great influence there among his fellow soldiers; he stimu-
lated them to endurance; and on one occasion prevented their revolt
when complaining of inadequte rations, by falling on his knees be-
fore them, and imploring (hem io patience bxiA better hopes. When
eight Hessians were captured and brought to camp, he interceded to
have them handed over to him to manage; which was to take them
to Philadelphia, to there show them the fine German churches, and
the comfort and good living of Germans in humble pursuits of life,
and then to release them to go back to (heir reginient, and to tell the
Germans that we had a paradise for his countr3''men, if they would
but desert their service. Desertion did follow whenever occasion
oflfered ; and the most of these lived prosperous citizens among us.
So much for the war /or them! With the same good design for his
countrymen he solicited and obtained (he grant (o visit the Hessian
camp on Staten Island, as a disguised deserter. There he suc-
ceeded fully to impress them with the happiness of Germans settled
in Pennsylvania, and to return safely, with a full assurance of the
usefulness of his mission.

In the year 1777, he was cordially appointed by Congress as baker
general of (he American army, and to choose freely his own assist-
ants and necessaries. In their instructions to him, they expected to
require from him one pound of bread for every pound of flour, but
Christopher readily replied, " Not so : I must not be so enriched by
the war. I shall re(urn 135 lbs. of bread for every 100 lbs. of flour :"
an increase of weight by baking, seemingly not then unders(ood by
the rulers! and not much hj families now.

As a proof that he was respected and valued in his sphere, he was
often invited to dine with Washington, in large companies, besides
having many opportunities of long conferences alone wi(h him, as
commander of the army, in relation to the bread supplies. The
general appreciated his worth, and usually addressed him in company
as " his honest friend." In his intercourse with the officers, he was
blunt, but never oflfensive. By common consent he was privileged
to say and do what he pleased. His German accent, his originality
of thought and expression ; and his wit and humour, made him a
welcome guest at every table in the camp. He took with him to



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PermsylvaiWi Irdand. — Germantomu 40

eamp a handsome china bowl brought by him from China;
around its silver rim was engraved his name, &c., and from it he was
accustomed to offer his punch or other beverage with his own leading
toast, to wit: ^'Health and long life to Christopher Ludwick and
wife." That bowl still exists as a bequeathed legacy, to be perpe-
tuated. At the return of peace, he settled on his farm near German-
town. In his absence it had been plundered of every thing by the
British. A certificate of his good cx)nduct, in the proper handwriting
of General Washington, given in 1785, was much valued, was
put under frame, and kept hung up in his parlour, as his diploma.
In that, he much gloried; and considered it a full recompense for
losses which he had sustained by a depreciated currency, paid to him
by sundry persons, for his bonds for good money lent them. He
owned at one time eight houses in Philadelphia, and had out .i^SOOO
of money lent on bonds and interest. He left a great deal of his
money to public charities, especially a fund for educating poor child-
ren. He delighted to find out objects of charity, and lo relieve their
wantB. In the time of the yellow fever of 1793, he went into
Fraley's bakery in Philadelphia, and worked at bread baking gratui-
tously, to relieve the wants of the poor. He had a great respect for
religion and its duties, which he said he inherited from his father^
who had given him, in early life, a silver medal, on which was in-
scribed, among other devices, " the blood of Christ cleanseth from all
sin." This he always carried with him as a kind of talisman ; and
with a view to enforce its remembrance and its precepts, when he
leA it to his family, he had it afiixed to the lid of a silver tankard,
and on the front he had inscribed a device of a Bible, a plough, and a
sword, with the motto, " May the religious industry and courage of
a German parent, be the inheritance of his issue!" Such a man
leaves the savour of a good name, and a good example, to posterity.
His remains now rest beneath an expensive monument, where
the reader may read of his worth, and go, if he can, and do
likewise !

His last house of residence in Philadelphia was No. 174 North
Piflh street He had had two wives; but left no children to survive
him. Their relations became his heirs.

Colonel Gray^s Powderhom, — In July 1841, there was found in
digging about two feet below the surface, in the lot of the New
Lutheran church in Germantown, a very curiously wrought powder-
hom of the Revolution, used and lost in the battle of Germantown,
by Elijah Lincoln, a volunteer of Windham, Connecticut This,
when found, showed the way to its ownership, and the facts con-
nected therewith, — by being published as a curious relic, in the Ger-
mantown Telegraph. It was a lai^e white bullock-horn, and had
engraved thereon, besides the name of the owner — E. Gray — several

Pictures and devices: such as a sketch of Boston and its environs,
lunker's hill, Dorchester, and encampments of the military, the
British fleet and positions. The facts in the case were these: —



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46 Pennsylvania Inland. — Germanfoum.

Bbeiiezer Gray, and William Hovey — the inscribed maker of (he horn,
with Elijah Lincoln, were young volunteers of Windham, going to
begin the war at Bunker hill. While encamped near there undet
Washington, the horn was engraved by Gray. At this time, we are to
presume that regular cartouch boxes were not supplied. Upon
the regular organization of the army, Gray, who was an educatad
man, received a commission, which he honoured by his after services
and bravery, and rose to the rank of colonel. When promoted,
he ^ve his horn to Lincoln, under his promise to use it faithfully
for his country. That he did in many battles ; till at last it was
lost in the aflfair at Gennantown, by being pulled from his side by
the grasp of a dying comrade, shot by his side, in the very act of
drawing a load from it, for his musket! The company, with Lin-
coln, rushed forward without the horn, and soon after he found
another well filled for his purpose. When the present horn was
found and published, it came out, from the publisher of the Demo-
crat, of Columbia county, Pennsylvania, that Ae had been formally en-
gaged in making out a pension claim for Lincoln, and had all these
facts, before told, in his possession ! Colonel Gray is deceased, but
his widow and son and daughter are alive at Windham, and have
oe^n informed of their opportunity to repossess this long lost relic of a
patriot's service and glory.* It is something to be valued and per-
petuated in a fiamily ! This circumstance reminds me of the follow-
ing facu, of Captain George Blackmore, of the Virginian line.t
He made my acquaintance in Germantown in 1832, desiring
to go over the battle groimd, where he had fought, side by side with
his brother, in Chew's field. The brother was killed, and left near a
spring house, found to be at Duval's fish pond in the rear of his house.
He wanted to find that place again, and to shed a tear; and he had
a difficulty to find the positions and places in his memory, since so
changed by elegant improvements. It was a feeling concern to travel
once more with his eyes and explanations ^' o'er the tented field to
lK)ok the dead." Every thing interested him, and especially a choice
of bullets, which I gave him, gleaned from Chew's house. He chose
a battered leaden bullet which had been picked out from Chew's
door. That, he said, he should incase in silver and hang to his
watch chain, and bequeath to his heirs. I was glad thus to minister
to his moumful pleasures. I might add, that I introduced him to
Mr. Jacob Keyser, who had buried that brother, with four others, in
the place at the spring house, since made the fish-pond, — ^in one hole,
all in their clothes. Alas, poor undistinguished, yet meritorius suf-
ferers for their country !

It was once a remarkable characteristic of Gkrmantown, in its early
history, say about the year 1700, — when it was described by Old-
mixon, that the whole street of one mile in length was fronted with
blooming peach trees. To think of a state of society where their



t He WM of DerrysvUle, Frederick ooan^, Virginia.
* Hie gran-ieon has since got the bom.



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Pennsylvania Inland, — GermarUnwn, 47

shade trees along a public highway, should consist of the most de-
licious fruit !

An original paper, by F. D. Pastorius, found at Stenton, of March
1708-9, presented to the council, sets forth his difficulty of getting
redress against one John Henry Sprogel, through the plotting and con^
trivance of Daniel Falkner, pretended attorney for the Frankford
Company, for lands in Germantown — and to effect his fraudulent
purposes, he had feed or retained the four known lawyers of the
pnmncey so as to deprive the said Pastorius, (himself a civilian,)
and John Jawart, of all advice in law ; and being in himself unable
to fetch lawyers fr(mi New York, he therefore prays the interference
of the governor and council, so as to restrain further proceedings,
until further action from the principals in Germany.

I have seen an old family Bible, 8vo., of the Shoemaker family,
which came out with the first settlers in 1682, printed at Zurich in
1538, by ChristoflTel Froschouer, in Switzer-Gemian, done so
early as to be without verses. In maqy pages, verses are marked
with a pen, and many passages are underscored to add to their force.
It was marked as being bought for 505. at second hand, in 1678.
In it was a record of family marriages, births, and deaths. Isaac
Schumacher,theheadof the family, was born in Cresheim in Germany,
married in Pennsylvania Sarah Hendricks, who was born in the same
town, the 2d of 10 mo., 1678. She died a widow the 15ih June,
1742, her husband having died the 12th February, 1732. Benjamin,
a son of the above, was bom in Germantown, the 3d August, 1704,
married in Philadelphia, the 18th June, 1724, to Sarah Coates,
daughter of Thomas and Bulah Coates. Benjamin died at Phila-
delphia in 1767; the wife died the 8th June 1738, leaving four



Online LibraryJohn Fanning WatsonAnnals of Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania, in the olden time; → online text (page 6 of 74)