- Born: 1728, Lower Salford Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
- Marriage: Anna Clymer (Clemmer) before 1758 in Lower Salford Mennonite Meetinghouse 428
- Died: 19 Jun 1804, Lower Salford Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania at age 76
- Buried: 1804, Salford Mennonite Cemetery, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
Noted events in his life were:
• AKA: Hans.
• Education, 1733 to 1744. My education was obtained under the tutelage of the renowned "School-master on the Skippack," Christopher Dock, who taught three days a week at Salford Meeting House and the other three days at Skippack.
Christopher Dock, the noted teacher and poet, lived and died in Lower Salford. He also taught in Germantown where he taught school at intervals for at least four years. During this time this quiet, unassuming man not only taught his students the elementary branches, but molded their morals and character as well. He never forgot to look after the spiritual welfare of any scholar who had once been under his charge and desired to remain for a short time after he had dismissed the other students. He would always kneel in prayer and ask a blessing upon his departing pupils.
He was a zealous member of the Mennonite denomination. His student's were also Mennonite for whom he alone labored. After the death of his wife he made his home with Henry Cassel, who was a weaver and farmer. On an autumn day in 1771, after straightening up his room at the end of a school day, Dock knelt to pray for his students, as was his custom. That evening, friends who were worried about his absence at the dinner table found him slumped on the floor. Next to him was his prayer list - the student roster. An active Christian schoolmaster up until his last hour, Dock had died "in the harness," engaged in spiritual warfare on behalf of his students. He was buried in the graveyard belonging to the old Skippack Mennonite Meeting House.
Several of his hymns were collected and printed by Michael Billmyr, of Germantown, in 1790 and exhibit considerable merit. Some of the songs he wrote were expressly composed to be sung by his pupils, whom he instructed in vocal music. The memory of this quiet, devout man has never been completely lost by our people.
Christopher Saur (the printer at Germantown) requested that Christopher write a book in German on teaching students. In 1750, Dock wrote School Management, one of the earliest treatises on pedagogy in this country. He was finally prevailed upon to have this work published in 1769. The publication contained practical suggestions on teaching and school management. Christopher contrasted in his book his experience in teaching in Germania compared with teaching in a free country where schools were started voluntarily by Pennsylvania German farmers and weavers for their children. Here no legislated compulsion stood behind the teacher; he must win his pupils' affection while he taught them their ABCs. To this end, Dock employed a series of quaint procedures.
Good work was rewarded with a note instructing parents to give the child a penny or cook him two eggs. The class was allowed to call out "Faul!" meaning Lazy at lazy students and "Fleiszig!" meaning Industrious for the diligent student. A perfect record in lessons was indicated by an "O" inscribed by Dock with chalk on the pupil's hand, for them to display to their parents. Children who repeatedly lied or swore would sit apart, with a symbolic yoke around their necks; at other times they were given the option of a blow on the hand.
On the walls of the classrooms at Salford, Skippack, and Germantown were beautifully illustrated manuscripts, which served as "Vorschriften" - models for penmanship. Small examples of this decorated "Fraktur" writing were sometimes used as rewards for good students. The schoolmaster also drew colorful birds and exquisite flowers on small slips of paper, which he gave to industrious children.
What is known of Dock's life is soon told. He was in America by 1714, probably coming from Holland or Germany. He was teaching at Skippack and at Salford by 1718. He taught for four summers in Germantown. In 1728, he quit teaching when he bought and settled on a farm near Salfordville. In 1738, his neighbor Dielman Kolb who was an influential minister urged on him the great need of the community for Dock to return to teaching. Dock returned to the profession, confessing "the smiting hand of God" on his conscience for his retreat to farming. He continued teaching until his death in "his great age". Before his death he had written hymns, his School Management, and two sets of "Rules" for the behavior of children, in school and out.
His love for children and understanding of how they learn was well known. Christopher Dock prayed every night that whatever injustice and neglect had been his be forgiven and that he might do his very best for each child the next day. He introduced the blackboard. He believed in rewarding the student for good work instead of beating a child for poor work.
Students were introduced to an important part of Dock's disciplinary system on the first day of school. When a new student was admitted into school, "he is welcomed by the other students with a handshake," wrote Dock. The student is then asked to promise, "That he will study diligently and be obedient". Dock clearly understood the importance of treating each child with respect. He knew that in order for the students to respect their teacher, they had to be respected by him. Saint or sinner, each student was nevertheless made in the image of God and was an individual for whom Christ died. The handshake and the promise were doubtless used by Dock to let the student know that he considered him a "man of honor" who could by the grace of God, live up to his promise. If the student failed in this regard, that was another matter; but at the outset he was given the benefit of the doubt.
When a student used foul language, Dock first sought to ascertain whether the student understood what he was saying. If he was heedlessly repeating a word he had picked up on the street, Dock let him go with a stern warning not to use the word again. If the student used the word again, he was spanked. Then he was required to look up verses on the control of the tongue and thought-life. "It must be presented to them and to all pupils as a warning from God's Word, how very important all of this is . . . and that men must give an account at the Last Judgment for every idle word they have spoken. Such and similar verses they must look up and read."
Dock also developed a system for dealing with students who continually wanted to be "first." "If a child wants to occupy the upper place," Dock explained, "and for that reason leaves his rightful place, and tries with force to push his way to the upper place . . . he is as a warning seated in the very lowest place until by diligence he again comes to the place he deserves." In Dock's class the first became last.
As for calling out in class, Dock said, "This is for children the hardest lesson, which they will scarcely be willing to learn of their own accord" Dock's answer for this problem was to mete out punishment, either to receive a rap on the hand or to sit with a yoke on one's shoulders.
In order to reduce stealing, Dock developed preventative measures. First, students were told not to bring any valuables to school without the teacher's permission. Second, if they found anything on the way to or from school, or on the playground, they were to report it immediately to the teacher. Certainly neither of these methods changed a sinful heart with a bent towards stealing, but they did tend to create a better atmosphere for learning and to protect the rights of the good students.
• Literate. I possessed books, which were appraised at $11.43. Three books were to be sold at the public sale of my effects upon my death.. The title of one of the books is "A Young Man's Best Companion." this book was printed in the English language. I could read both English and German.
• Occupation: blacksmith and miller.
• Property: land in the northeastern portion of Towamensin Township, 1 Mar 1754, Towamencin Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. I bought land in the northeastern portion of Towamencin Township.
• French and Indian War, 1755 to 1763. The French and Indian War broke out between 1755 and 1763. The War was really between England and France which had occured twice before. In the War of the Spanish Succession, or Queen Anne's War, some of the newly arrived Palatines had found themselves on an expedition against Canada. In the later War of the Austrian Succession, or King George's War, from 1740 to 1748, one of the four Pennsylvania companies that joined in the attack on Canada contained so many Pennsylvania Dutch that it was known as the German Company. But it was the French and Indian War that in the most literal sense brought war home to the Pennsylvania Dutch. In this war Pennsylvania suffered more than the other thirteen colonies. Nor was it the Quakers and the Anglicans in Philadelphia who suffered; it was the Pennsylvania Dutch and the Scotch-Irish on the frontier. They formed a protecting band for Philadelphia and its home counties.
Everywhere from the Delaware to the Potomac people would tell of seeing the burning of houses and barns. Men, women, and children were tomahawked and scalped or carried off into the woods. On October 16, 1755, there was a massacre at Penn's Creek near Shamokin, with fourteen killed and eleven taken captive. The raid at Great Cove was a repetition of the Penn's Creek massacre. Most of the settlers in the Congohego Valley fled for their lives. In the middle of November, the settlements on the Tulpehocken and the Swatara were attacked. Thirteen more people were killed and many houses and barns burned. Governor Morris made no effort to defend these settlers except to write to General Shirley of New York to send some troops down from Albany. The attack on the Moravian settlement of Gnadenhutten on the Lehigh on November 24, 1755, was one of the worst. Usually, the story was one of an attack on an isolated pioneer and his family rather than the slaughter of an entire settlement.
The French receded into Canada before the advancing army of English soldiers along with their allied Indians. The cruelties here ceased for a time. The peace and safety of our community were assured when Canada was surrendered in 1760. The declaration of peace was delayed for three years, but when it was announced in 1763 only a few Indians remained in the eastern section of Pennsylvania. A small settlement of friendly Indians remained at Shamokin.
• Property: four contiguous tracts of land, 28 May 1763, Upper Salford Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. 50,429,430 Anna and I purchased four contiguous tracts of land in Upper Salford Township, of Henry Vanderslice and his wife Catherine. Henry Vanderslice served as the town constable in 1775, jailer in 1794 and county commissioner in 1797. This land borders on the Perkiomen Creek and contained both a gristmill and sawmill. The grist and sawmill was built in 1767 on the Swamp Creek. The mills supplied ground grain and sawn lumber to farmers in the surrounding countryside and to the troops during the American Revolution. On August 27, 1763 we sold our property in Towamencin Township.
• Sold: his property at Towamensin Township, 27 Aug 1763. 431,432 On the first of March, 1754, John Bergey purchased a farm of 78 acres located in the northeastern portion of Towamencin Township of Samuel Tennis and Catherine his wife. He sold this farm to Joseph Smith, 27 August, 1763, and in the deed he is called a blacksmith.
• Misc: knew of an incident with bears, 1770. An unusual excitement was gotten up in sport near Hatboro' about 1770. Bears had disappeared from the forests in that section for several years, and of course to capture one would create quite an interest. It was reported that a large one had been seen in the vicinity of the present Fulmor's mill, which, in consequence, created a stir among the sporting fraternity. The news spread rapidly, and for weeks an eager search was kept up for such noble game. The sensation bad about subsided, when it was announced that the bear had been again near the aforesaid place early in the evening. A large party turned out, bringing into requisition nearly every dog and gun in the neighborhood. As it was a moonlight night in autumn a pack of dogs, by their loud yelping and cries, announced that something unusual had turned up. The excited huntsmen started for the spot, where they found some thirty dogs assembled in a circle looking up at a tall white oak standing by itself. At the height of about sixty feet, where the branches were the thickest, a large black object was discovered and a bear distinctly recognized as looking down at the dogs. Now commenced at the devoted object such a shooting as probably never happened in that vicinity before, and it was kept up for several minutes. At last the bear moved, and down he came to the ground. Now there was a scampering of men and dogs to insure their safety, some stopping but little short of their homes. One or two of the nearest dogs not seeing him stir, approached and ventured to seize on him, when the whole pack pitched in to assist. The hunters now became amazed at the quantity of litter that filled the air and was scattered around. One bolder than the rest, with the muzzle of his extremely long gun, turned the bear over to be sure whether he was indeed lifeless, when it proved to be only the skin of one ingeniously stuffed. It turned out afterwards that a wag in the neighborhood had been to all the trouble, and it was thus brought about: After the stuffed animal had been placed up the tree, a fish from the stream had been fastened to a string and dragged over the ground from various directions to the foot of the tree, the scent of which had brought the dogs together and caused the alarm. The novelty of this performance even yet lingers in the early traditions of that neighborhood.
• lived: during the Revolutionary War, 1775 to 1783. 433 I did not fight in the Revolutionary War but my life was deeply impacted by it. Washington's forces at Valley Forge were badly off; however it was not due to the Pennsylvania Dutch not being willing to help. We put all our war efforts into trying to help Washington provide for his men. The commissary department was ignorant of Pennsylvania and its rich supplies in the back country. Moreover, we tried to work with their agents but we suffered from a language barrier. When agents who could talk Dutch took on the job, supplies began to move toward Valley Forge. It is true that some of our farmers were slow to respond for fear their horses and wagons would be seized by the army once they reached Valley Forge. While others hesitated to accept the Continental paper money with which they were paid, because they were holding out to make as much money as possible. They would sell their goods to the highest bidder, be he American or British. Nevertheless, supplies moved down the Schuylkill Valley from Reading, the provision center of the Continental Army. The farms fifty miles around were stripped of all they could spare: flour, grain, hay, salt pork, flitch, dried fruits, and homespun for clothing, leather, axes, picks, and shovels. These were carried down to Valley Forge by six-horse Conestoga wagons, many of which were seized by the army just as the farmers had feared. Yet most of the farmers from the nearby Dutch country took their products to the markets set up in the camp. There the ragged soldiers would crowd around a Dutch farmer and chip together to buy a duck, a bag of apples, some smoked sausage, a keg of cider, or a jug of applejack.
For miles north of the fighting zone almost every church and meetinghouse, and almost every public building was turned into a hospital at one time or another. The medical supplies were kept in the pulpit. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that for many of the months during the bitterest part of the war the Pennsylvania Dutch towns were the hospitals of the Revolution.
On September 26, 1777, the army moved to Pennypacker's Mill along the Perkiomen. Here too, the army ate the countryside out of house and home. Every duck, goose, chicken, and guinea hen was eaten. Then, just before the attack at Germantown, a temporary camp was made along the Skippack and a few days later another at the village of Worcester. With the defeat at Germantown on October 4th, the British pursued the Americans as far as Blue Bell Tavern. For three days the army returned to Pennypacker's Mills and Skippack. Hearing of supplies at Kulpsville and Towamencin, Washington moved there on October 8th. The defeated men were miserable and cold in the falling rain. Unfortunately, the report of supplies was much exaggerated.
Pennsylvania is known as the Keystone State for its role in the Revolution and as one of the oldest settlements. During the time, Towamencin Township also played an important part. The Township had several encampments of soldiers, they had many citizens that served in the war, and was the retreating place for General Washington and his troops after the Battle of Germantown.
The troops were in Towamencin from October 8, 1777 to October 16, 1777 and camped in the Northern section of the Township. The Township provided a secure area to rest without fear of surprise attack by the British.
Washington commandeered Frederick Wampole's house to establish his quarters and conducted military duties from there. The house was located on Detwiler Road.
General Francis Nash was wounded at the Battle of Germantown and was carried from Germantown to Towamencin. He was cared for at the Mennonite Meeting House, along with other wounded men from the Battle of Germantown. He died two days later and is buried there.
The Colonists used Henry Cassel's land as an encampment. He submitted to the Continental Congress an estimate of damages done to his property by Washington's Army. He reported that 696 fence rails were used for firewood. The cost to replace those rails was 8.14.0 pounds
• Assessment, 1776, Upper Salford Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. 434 In the assessment for 1776, I was listed as owning 180 acres and a grist and sawmill
• Witnessed a Will, 29 Mar 1777. 102 We had very close ties with the Landis family. Jacob Landis' will was dated March 29, 1777, and was probated April 8, 1777; I was listed as one of the witnesses along with Henry Meyer, and Jacob Landes, Miller.
• Religion: Mennonite. 435 Anna and I were members of the Salford Mennonite Meeting House where I tried to serve our members with gentleness.
Our members had a dispute with Bishop Christian Funk regarding his stance regarding supporting the colonial government, instead of continuing loyalty to Britain. Henry Rosenberger and Jacob Oberholtzer came to Christian Funk's house to tell Funk he could no longer give communion. Funk's wife, Barbara Cassel, was present and accused Henry Rosenberger and Jacob Oberholtzer by saying, "You always cause such quarrels before communion." Then Rosenberger and Oberholtzer spoke harsh words to Barbara that hurt her deeply.
Next, Christian Funk visited the fourteen people who had complained about him. Funk felt that twelve of them were not totally negative. But two were. These were Maria Oberholtzer Bechtel, the wife of Samuel Bechtel, and Elizabeth Bechtel Gehman, the wife of Abraham Gehman. This mother and daughter team had husbands who were ministers at Rockhill. When Christian Funk asked them "Did you complain about me in the inquiry?" Maria Oberholtzer Bechtel, the mother, replied, "Yes, we did . . . because you have paid taxes to the colonial government." Funk said that Maria conveyed anger in her speech. Funk told them this was untrue; he had not paid taxes to the colonial government. Then, Maria and Elisabeth began to cry and indicated peace with him. Funk said he did not know if their husbands agreed with them.
Referring back to the initial conversation when Jacob Oberholtzer had told Christian Funk he could no longer give communion, Christian asked Jacob Oberholtzer if he had made peace with Christian's wife, Barbara. Oberholtzer said Funk should tell Barbara he had been in an uncontrollable rage that day when he said things that hurt Barbara.
In 1778, when four of the ordained brethren came to Christian's house to tell him that he was being excommunicated, Christian was waiting for them with his support group, his wife Barbara and her sister Frone. Barbara and Frone were actively involved in the confrontation. At one point his sister Frone said to (me) Hans Bergey, "Do you call (my brother) a liar to his face." (I) Hans Bergey replied, "We're not calling him a liar." And Frone, not quiet and submissive, said, "You won't take him at his word."
In 1783, after the war was over and the country was free from English rule, the controversy did not end, but became more heated. Specifically in 1783, Christian Funk was charged with the following: (a) Christian had cheated the Township of about 25 pounds; (b) he had taken Jacob Bergey and Christian Meyer's good flour and replaced it with old wormy flour; (c) he had stolen and secretly sold Christian Meyer's ram; and (d) he had wanted to take a ram from Jacob Oberholtzer. In a meeting of ministers, with their wives sitting by and listening, Oberholzer accused Funk of trying to take his ram. Jacob Oberholtzer said that Funk had cut off one of the ram's ears. At that, Oberholtzer's wife, Elisabeth Clemmer, could not remain silent. She said, "Jacob, be quiet about the ram once."
Years later, in 1804 to 1806, these men acknowledged that the accusations had been fabricated. And in 1807, Jacob Oberholtzer, who had accused Funk of cutting off a ram's ear, approached Funk in humility and asked forgiveness. In the heat of pettiness, Elisabeth Clemmer Oberholtzer was the one voice of reason. It seems she realized the absurdness of the charges and told her husband to drop the issue of the ram's ear
• Sold: his land in Upper Salford to Michael Ziegler, 18 Feb 1793.
• Property: a 24 hour clock. 436 .I owned a clock that I purchased from my mother's effects, after her death in 1789. This is a tall 24-hour clock and is in a good state of preservation.
• sold land, 18 Feb 1793, Upper Salford Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. I sold my land in Upper Salford to Michael Ziegler, Jr.
• Respected. 437 I enjoyed good relationships with my neighbors who seemed to hold me in high esteem as evidenced by the six wills and testaments at the signing of which I was one of the witnesses: The wills of John Godschalk, of Hatfield Township, dated 14 May, 1759; of Jacob Oberholtzer, of Hatfield Township, dated 18 January, 1762; of Abraham Cassel, of Upper Salford Township, dated 18 January, 1776; of John Oberholtzer, of Upper Salford Township, dated 28 February, 1776; of Abraham Clemens, of Lower Salford Township, dated 9 March, 1776; and of Peter Freed of Lower Salford Township, dated 29 October, 1789. I signed my name to their wills as either John Bergey or John Barkey
• Friend. 438,439 Peter Freed, Sr. was a second cousin to my mother. The families continued to be involved in each other's lives through their community and church. Peter Freed died about 1790 and was buried at the Mennonite Meeting-House in Lower Salford Township. He was engaged in farming and land speculating. On October 29, 1784 he wrote his will. His two sons-in-law (David Longaker and John Bean) were executors. Gabriel Schuler, Joseph Alderfer and John Bergey were witnesses. His estate was divided into 11 shares, 10 shares to his living children, and 1 share to the 2 children of his deceased son Abraham.
The Freid families were early settlers in Salford. In the list of 1734 is found the name of Hans Freid, owning one hundred acres. In the assessment of Lower Salford for 1776, John Freid is mentioned as holding one hundred acres, and Peter Freid, two hundred and ninety acres, one servant, three horses and seven cattle. He had a son named John to whom he granted a water right, dated May 4, 1775, on a part of the Gabriel Schuler property. The water rights were granted for a dam to irrigate the meadow, which is kept in good repair to this day. There was at least one other son, whose name has been forgotten. Peter Freid had purchased the farm from Hans Reiff in March 1746. He had resided on the place thirty-nine years, and in the erection of the Salford Mennonite Meeting-house was a liberal contributor. His death occurred in 1791, aged about seventy-six years. The Freids are still landholders in the Township, residing near the Franconia line.
Peter Freed was a son of John Freed of Perkiomen, whose name appears in the tax list of that Township in 1734. There was also one Paul Freed whose name appears in the tax list in the said Township in that year. Both these names appear on a petition to Governor Gorndon in 1728, praying for relief against what they had suffered from the Indians, who had fallen on the back inhabitants about Falkner Swamp and Goshenhoppen. Paul Freed had a plantation of 120 acres, but he had only one child, a daughter, Mary, wife of Jacob Grater. In his will which was dated January 29, 1743, and was probated May 1st of that year, before Jacob Reiff, of Lower Salford, deputy Register, he gives and bequeaths all his property to his wife, Elizabeth, and his daughter, Mary, and her husband. Michael Ziegler, Peter Kolb and Robert Jones witnessed his will.
• Friend. 91 Abraham O. Cassel was born on Jul 31 1728. He died in 1776 in Upper Salford township, Montgomery County, PA. Abraham was a Mennonite farmer who settled in Montgomery County near Schwenksville. Parents: Hupert Cassel and Syltge Op Den Graeff. Abraham Cassel was a remarkable man, who memory will be cherished as long as the German race exists in Pennsylvania, is a descenant in the fifth generation of Hupert Kassel, who came to this county about 1715. Johannes Kassel, who settled at Germantown in 1686, was probably an uncle of the old Hupert. Among the earlier Kassels living at Kriesheim on the Rhine, were some who became noted as zealous preachers of the mennonite faith, and authors doing good service in the controversial literature of their day. Confessions of faith and poems in the handwriting of these worthy forefathers, who lived and died over 200 years ago, are still preserved by their descendents. On the maternal side Abraham H. Cassel is the great-grandson of Christopher Saur, the celebrated printer of Germantown whose glory it is, not so much that he stood at the head of the men of his race, and wielded a potent influence in all the affairs of the province, as that he printed the Bible in German in Pennsylvania forty years before it was issued in English anywhere in America.
• Friend. 106,440 Jacob H. Oberholtzer was a farmer and a preacher; he preached in Hatfield and Franconia, discharging the duties of a Mennonite preacher from 1775 to 1813. He owned a farm of 160 acres in Franconia township on which he spent his whole life and there died.
John married Anna Clymer (Clemmer), daughter of Christian Clymer and Barbara Unknown, before 1758 in Lower Salford Mennonite Meetinghouse.428 (Anna Clymer (Clemmer) was born in 1732 in Milford Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, died on 15 Jun 1796 and was buried in 1796 in Salford Mennonite Cemetery, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania 441.)