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Archiver > GARST > 2002-04 > 1018291419

From: "dwayne wrightsman" <>
Subject: [GARST] Brethren Farms on Little Swatara Creek
Date: Mon, 8 Apr 2002 14:43:39 -0400


Before the Little Swatara Congregation of German Baptist Brethren was
organized, in 1757, the sons of William Penn had warranted, in 1732, much of
the land on both sides of Little Swatara Creek in the northern section of
then Lancaster County. Working downstream, in order, were the Manors of
Richard Penn, Thomas Freame (son-in-law of Wm. Penn), and Thomas Penn. The
Penn brothers warranted this land for the purpose of dividing it and selling
it to the German Pioneers immigrating from the Palatinate.

One of the earliest pioneers was Christian Frantz (b. c1685), who with his
family, including sons Christian II (b. c1706), John (b. c1725), and Michael
(b. c1726), entered Philadelphia in 1732 on the Ship Samuel. In 1738,
Christian I (the father) was issued warranty No. 15 for 235 acres, located
in Richard Penn's Manor. Unfortunately, Christian I never exercised this
because he died that same year near Lancaster City.

In 1741, Christian I's oldest son, Christian II, put in a call to take his
father's warrant of 235 acres in Richard Penn's Manor. This land was on the
south side of Little Swatara Creek, land now situated in Tulpehocken Twp. in
Berks County. Later, the younger sons, John and Michael, joined Christian
II by taking up Penn Manor farms downstream on the Little Swatara.

John Frantz's farm was about a mile downstream from Christian II's farm, on
the north side of Little Swatara Creek, in what is now Bethel Twp. in Berks
County. This farm was carved out of Thomas Freame's Manor. John Frantz's
farm was the site of an Indian massacre, in 1758, in which his wife was
killed and his children kidnapped. Some years later, the children, except
the youngest, were returned.

Michael Frantz's farm was about two more miles downstream, located near the
middle of Thomas Penn's Manor. This farm was on both sides of Little
Swatara Creek. It was also located on the border between what is now Bethel
Twp. in Berks County and Bethel Twp. in Lebanon County. Most of Michael's
land was in the Bethel township that was on the Lebanon County side of the
border. Warrantee maps and tax records bear this out.

The three Frantz brothers were among the original members of the Little
Swatara Congregation of German Baptist Brethren, which was organized in
c1757. The brothers were also listed as baptized members of the
Congregation in the 1770 chronicles of historian Morgan Edwards. The
youngest brother, Michael Frantz, was ordained as Elder of the Congregation
in 1780.

The next farm downstream from Michael Frantz was the Houtz farm. Part of
this farm was inside the Thomas Penn Manor, and part was beyond the Manor.
Although some members of the Houtz family eventually became Brethren, they
were members of the Lutheran and Reformed Church at the time.

The next farm downstream from the Houtz farm was that of John Nicholas
Garst. His farm was primarily on the north side of Little Swatara Creek.
On the south side of the Creek from the Garst farm was the farm of Jacob
Meyer. Both Garst and Meyer were listed, in 1770, as baptized members of
the Little Swatara Congregation. Jacob Meyer was ordained as Deacon of the
Church in 1780, at the same time as Michael Frantz's ordination as Elder.

Jacob Meyer is perhaps best known to the Brethren through his children. His
daughter Barbara was married to Jacob Heckman, son of Elder Peter Heckman.
The Heckmans were among the early leaders of the Little Swatara

Jacob Meyer's daughter Anna was married to John Brubaker, the first Brethren
Brubaker, and progenitor to most Brethren Brubakers today. The Brubakers
(or Brubachers) were originally Swiss Mennonites. It is unknown whether
John Brubaker (b. c1748) joined the Little Swatara Brethren Church while he
still lived in the area, or if he became Brethren after c1790, when he moved
his family to Franklin Co., VA.

John Nicholas Garst, the first Brethren Garst, was born into a Lutheran and
Reformed Church family. While his father and his brother, who lived nearby,
remained in that church, John Nicholas apparently became Brethren early on,
no doubt owing to relations with his neighbor Michael Frantz. Many of John
Nicholas Garst's descendants today are Brethren.

Five of John Nicholas Garst's children (four daughters and one son) married
five of the children (four sons and one daughter) of Michael Frantz.
Although most Frantz descendants tend to believe in the myth that the Frantz
children who married the Garsts were in the line of Michael Frantz I and II
of Cocalico Township, located fifteen miles or so to the south, the
geographic evidence presented here clearly supports the latest thinking that
the five intermarriages were between close neighbors who lived (with just
one farm between them) on Little Swatara Creek, neighbors who all belonged
to the Little Swatara Church. The Michael Frantz who lived on the Little
Swatara was the son of Christian Frantz I.

In all, there were nineteen families that belonged to the Little Swatara
Church in 1770. The five families discussed here all lived and farmed on
the banks of the Little Swatara Creek. No doubt some of the remaining
fourteen families
also lived and farmed on the Little Swatara. And no doubt there are
interesting stories that could be told about these families. I hope that
some of you will share your stories.

Dwayne Wrightsman
Lee, NH


1. Strassburger and Hinke, "Pennsylvania German Pioneers"
2. Brumbaugh, "History of the Brethren"
3. Durnbaugh, "The Brethren in Colonial America"
4. Harold Frantz, et. al., "Genealogy of the Matthias Frantz Family of Berks
5. Pennsylvania State Archives, "Pennsylvania Land Warrantee Township Maps"
6. Wolfson, "Warrant, Patent & Survey Records, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania"

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