Northampton Press

Saturday, March 28, 2020
Photo courtesy of Larry OberlyThe Heimer family settled on farmland like this in Plainfield Township to make their start in Colonial America. Photo courtesy of Larry OberlyThe Heimer family settled on farmland like this in Plainfield Township to make their start in Colonial America.

Remembering: Colonial America

Wednesday, December 11, 2019 by ED PANY Curator, Atlas Cement Company Memorial Museum in Columns

A few weeks ago, I was given an email from Janet and Bill Johnson of Mechanicsburg. Our loyal readers know this writer has no E, F or G mail!

They have done an extensive genealogy on their family history dating back to the American Revolution and Civil War. Both Janet and William graduated from Nazareth High School. Mr. Johnson had a long teaching career at Mechanicsburg High School.

Their research centered on Janet’s great-great grandfather William Heimer, who served in the 153rd Regiment during the Civil War. But the family’s history goes back to the founding of the United States when family members took up arms to join the fight for independence.

William Heimer’s grandfather Charles, 1734-1820, immigrated to Colonial America from what is now Germany. Many came from the Palatinate area of the country. William entered Pennsylvania at the busy port of Philadelphia.

In Germany, there were constant religious and political conflicts, taxes were high and great sections of farmland turned into waste land. Penn’s province provided religious freedom and opportunity in a new land.

Most Germans were of the Lutheran and Reformed faith. By 1776, there were 100,000 Germans in Pennsylvania. German families were arriving by the boat load. They were regarded as the best farmers in their native land. They searched for land on which to live and raise a family. They found Plainfield and were blessed with abundant fertile soil.

A basic trait of the Germans, called Pennsylvania Dutch, was being frugal and industrious. Most farm work was manual, so families were large, providing needed labor to run the farm in an efficient manner.

The Heimer family settled on the rich farmland in Plainfield Township. Charles Heimer acquired a number of acres from a Pennsylvania land law. The land transfer was signed by one of our most famous Pennsylvanians, “His Excellency Benjamin Franklin, Esquire, President of the Supreme Executive Council.”

Charles, as many other men, was a part-time soldier and part-time farmer during the American Revolution. Raw and untrained, they were determined to create a new nation. Charles served as a private in the Northampton Militia in the second battalion.

His son Adam would also serve in the same battalion.

***

In two weeks, we’ll learn how they both served.