Saturday, May 11, 2013
The family descended from mid-18th century immigrant Nicholas Hess have shaped the Lehigh Valley.
How a single local family can have such a vast impact upon the history of Pennsylvania must be explored accurately. The best source sometimes is the family's own recorded legacy. Thus, the family of Nicholas Hess needs close examination. This includes his third child, Elizabeth Hess, born in Springfield Township on Jan. 4, 1753 and married to Samuel Beitelman of the same area. The couple settled in Springtown, Bucks County. Originally a potter, Samuel had moved to his brother Adam's home to take part in the tanning business. However, as some men fail at one endeavor, they continue to another. Since Beitelman allowed his hides to rot in their tanning vats, this business failed. So next, he rented a 278 acre farm owned by his father, Elias. …
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Thanks to the efforts of academics such as Harry Hess Reichard (1876-1956), the Pennsylvania German dialect is studied and appreciated to this day.
- THE NEIGHBORHOOD FILES
Sunday, May 5
The Hess family of Saucon Valley dates back to 1741, and many other Pennsylvania German families have intermarried so that the researcher never runs out of personalities to investigate. Another contributor to local history is Harry Hess Reichard, who lived between 1876 and 1956. Born in Lower Saucon Township, he married Ida Elizabeth Ruch of the same locale in 1903. After graduating from Kutztown Normal School in 1895, Reichard received his B.A. degree at Lafayette College in 1901, and then his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1911. Dr. Reichard served as Professor of German at Muhlenberg College until his 1945 retirement. He became well known for his work in Pennsylvania German folklore and his radio role as Assebe in the radio …
Saturday, May 4, 2013
Coopersburg native Sam Kern, who now lives in Virginia Beach, is a car buff whose father and uncle once operated the "Kern Bros. Garage" in the Lehigh County borough.
Belonging to six local historical societies pays off occasionally, not in monetary means, but in making historical connections with a wide variety of folks also seeking local lore. On Oct. 6, 2012, I met Fay Kern and Cathy Bishop in Coopersburg Historical Society's museum. Of immediate interest was the Kern and Yeager family history spanning Northampton and Lehigh counties. Fay Kern is the mother of family historian, Samuel Yeager Kern of Virginia Beach, and Cathy Bishop is his sister. Sam Kern hails originally from Coopersburg, and since we have shared each other's research and friendship. In December we met at the Heller Homestead since Sam wanted copies of "Saucon Secrets" volumes 1 and 2, containing much Yeager family information from …
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
A dedication ceremony for the rediscovered Limekiln School House cornerstone will be held at the Heller Homestead in Lower Saucon Township on April 27 at 10:30 a.m.
- THE NEIGHBORHOOD FILES
Wednesday, April 24
A couple of weeks ago Jeff King of Hellertown donated a valuable historical artifact to the Michael Heller Homestead operated by Saucon Valley Conservancy. This item, I told him, should live here, and it will be dedicated on April 27 at 10:30 a.m. during Saucon Valley History Day. It is none other than the last cornerstone of the Limekiln School House, put in place when the building was reconstructed for the last time in 1891. The edifice had been constructed first in 1802 but had burned down and was rebuilt in 1864. It is most appropriately to be displayed at the homestead since nearly 20 Hellers lie at rest in the adjoining graveyard, including Michael Heller, the Elder, who named three of his sons Michael. The building had first been a …
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Although the descendants of patriarch Christopher Heller are most closely associated with the Saucon Valley and its history, they also helped shape the modern Christmas City.
- THE NEIGHBORHOOD FILES
Thursday, March 28
Most local history afficianados know that Hellertown was named for the Christopher Heller family, who emigrated from Germany and arrived in America in 1738. His second and third sons, Simon and Michael, eventually secured much acreage on both sides of the Saucon Creek. Today this land forms a portion of Hellertown and Lower Saucon Township. Much has been written about Simon and Michael, but not about Jacob, Simon's third child. His tale is also remarkable. Born in 1750, he moved with the family to Plainfield Township in 1764, and eventually Simon transferred all 600 acres there to Jacob. Jacob became proprietor of the Post House along the King's Highway near Wind Gap. Later this hotel became known as the Woodley House. During the …
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
In Hellertown, a carriage factory was located in the building that would later become Carson's Hardware. The Jordan Carriage Factory was the first such establishment in Coopersburg.
- THE NEIGHBORHOOD FILES
- Lee Weidner
Wednesday, February 13
Well before the "horseless carriage," or automobile, transportation often depended on one or two horsepower vehicles that made no dents in the Earth's ozone layer. Each year in the 21st century about 30,000 deaths occur due to vehicular accidents, but not 150 years ago. Were those the good old days? It all depends on how one defines these oft-spoken-about eras. To the point, the Jordan Carriage Factory was the first in Coopersburg in 1850. Brothers Franklin and Milton eventually employed 18 workers. Milton Jordan had learned the trade in Macungie as an apprentice to George Hinkle for three years at a wage of $12.75 per year. The brothers retired in 1909. The Kern Carriage Shop was begun by Samuel Y. Kern at the corner of Station Avenue and…
Monday, February 11, 2013
The day not only yielded an awakening of the beauty of local wilderness, but also thought-provoking data involved in lending thought to a current national issue.
The humidity hung over Saucon Creek with intermittent drizzle and mist that made the footing in the dense woods slippery, especially with the thick leaf covering. My balance-impaired body was at risk of tumbling down each downhill portion of the hidden path known only to my walking companion, Rich Geyer. Equilibrium be damned, I was determined to keep pace, but to no avail while lagging behind with distance between us continually increasing. Rich slid down banks on his feet and glided up steep slopes with ease. Having grown up for a few years living at the Geyer farm, now the Michael Heller Homestead, he was familiar with all the woods between Water Street and Walnut Street. This was my first trek taking this path along the creek. …
Thursday, February 7, 2013
The Olympic gold medalist and movie star was the celebrity ribbon-cutter at the grand opening of the Southern Lehigh Community Pool on May 30, 1963.
Sitting in the dark was quite different from age eight to 18, especially at the "Sauconia Theater" (later known as The Movies) on Main Street in Hellertown. In 1953, we boys would sit together much closer to the screen than in 1963. In '63, the last row next to a certain person of the opposite sex was much more comfortable. I can still sense the extreme difference in excitement in 2013 and the vast environmental shift. In '53 often a serial featuring film star and previously a 1932 Olympic Gold Medal swimmer, Buster Crabbe, highlighted the pre-feature film. He played action roles like Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Tarzan and several cowboy parts, namely Capt. Gallant of the Foreign Legion, Billy the Kid and Wyatt Earp. I particularly recall …
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Next door at the Miller's House, author Lee Weidner will sign copies of his new book, "Saucon Secrets Volume II," on Saturday, Dec. 15 from 9 to 11:30am.
Monday, December 3, 2012
Tonight's event will also feature a book-signing by "Saucon Secrets" author Lee Weidner and a Meet the Artist reception for current gallery exhibitor David Lee, whose paintings are on display through Dec. 16.