Monday, February 13, 2012

A Lutheran Family in a Quaker Village - Johannes Vanhooser and Elisabetha Christina Lauck

A Lutheran Family - Johannes Vanhooser and Elisabetha Christina Laux (Lauck)

In 1728 Johannes Vanhooser and Elizabetha Christina Lauck (Laux) moved their family from Kingston, New York to Heidelberg Township near today's Robesinia, Pennsylvania. The family then consisted of three children, the youngest of which was young Valentine Felty Vanhooser, then three years old. A child would be born the same year in Tulpehocken, which suggest that Elizabeth was pregnant during the trip. In all, six children would be added to the family during the Vanhooser sojourn in Pennsylvania.

Tulpehocken in colonial times refers to the valley of the creek of the same name. Tulpehocken Creek is a tributary of the Schulyskill River, which flows through Philadelphia. Tulpehocken was the destination for immigrants from New York under the leadership of Conrad Weiser. The immigrants were originally from from the Palatinate, a region in southwest Germany. Elizabeth Christina Lauck, wife of Johannes and mother of Valentine Felty Vanhooser, was one of these immigrants. (Joyce Lindstrom has written much on this topic.)

Note. This region includes the city of Kaiserslautern and the wine regions along the Rhine River. As a young military officer, I was stationed in Kaiserslautern and enjoyed the many wine festivals.

In addition to German settlers, the region was home to many Quakers. Indeed it was William Penn, a Quaker who was granted a charter by King Charles II in 1681 to establish a colony in what would become Pennsylvania. The colony was originally established as a haven for members of the Society of Friends, but Penn opened his doors to other religions including Lutherans. Among the many Quaker families who settled in the same region as Johannes Vanhooser were the families of Daniel Boone and the Lincoln family. Squire Boone, the father of Daniel Boone, had a homestead in nearby Oley, Pennsylvania, 20 miles distant, and to the east of modern day Reading, Pennsylvania.

As tolerant as the Quakers were of other religions, they kept to themselves for the most part. Gatherings by Quakers were called Monthly Meetings, (thus one sees the notation MM in many old documents). Marrying outside the sect was frowned upon. And a parent whose child did so would confess his sin at a meeting. My own family history includes Quakers with the surname of Pearson. They lived in the area at the same time, but I have not found any cross-references.

Tulpehocken Creek

Tulpenhocken Creek and Schuylkill River

Image from Wikipedia.

Tulpehocken Creek drains the limestone hills of eastern Pennsylvania south of the Appalachian Mountains. The creek flows through 8 townships including the Heidelberg Township. The area was settled by German immigrants in 1723.  The Vanhooser family arrived five years later, following in the footsteps of other members of Elizabeth Laux's family. Read the History of Tulpehocken for an interesting story on the migration from New York to Pennsylvania. It references at least one maternal ancestor (Peter Laux) and perhaps others (depending on the spellings). Also visit the page for the Tulpehocken Historical Society.

Today, it is impossible to get a feeling for what Tulpehocken valley was like in 1728. A sense of the forest can be had by going to the Appalachian Trail which overlooks the valley from the north. As a youth, I lived for a year at Carlisle, near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Our Boy Scout Troop would hike and camp along the trail. I was always excited by the tall trees, the clear streams, and the freedom of being in the wilderness. For a strange reason, I remember hiking the trail and pulling up the root of a  Sassafras sapling to taste the flavor of root beer.

In the 1720's and 1730's, the area was still home to at least six different Indian tribes including, Tuscaroras, Tutelas, Conoys, Nanticokes, Shawnees and Susquehannocks, and Delawares. Relations with the Indians were for the most part friendly. But at nearby Manatawny in 1728, a party of Shawnees encountered some settlers who refused to provide them with food. An exchange of gunfire took place and one Indian was wounded. Ancestors of Alan Dwayne Morgan. There would be thirty years of peace until the outbreak of the French and Indian War in 1754. But by this time Johannes Vanhooser and his family had left for the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina. For more, read a short History of Berks County.

The woods in Pennsylvania were then thick and full of game. In addition to bear and deer, there were plentiful stock of beavers, mink, fox, and otter. But with the settlers came farms and livestock and all too soon the game was gone.

Three early Lutheran churches were established, including, now marked by Reed's Cemetery, the site of the first church in Berks County (1727); the Christ Little Tulpehocken Church (original log church 1730, present building 1809), and Christ Lutheran Church (original log church 1743, present building 1786). In 1746 Valentine Felty Vanhooser  married Maria Barbara Zerwe or Zerbe at Tulpehocken, Lancaster (now Berks), Pennsylvania. They were married in the Christ Lutheran Church. Cox-Stewart Family History.

To be continued ...

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