A Biography of Simon Dreisbach, Jr.


George Wayne Harcourt

National 150679 and State 83008

Admitted on 18 august 1998

Member of TXSSAR San Antonio Chapter #4

Direct Descendant of

Simon Dreisbach, Jr.



Simon Dreisbach, Jr. At A Glance

He represented Northampton County to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia (July 15, 1776), which ratified the Declaration of Independence. For four successive years (1776-1780), he represented the county in the State Assembly and also several years as commissioner to collect blankets and provisions for the Continental soldiers, and from May 2, 1777, to October 20, 1783, was a member of the Council of Censors. After the close of the war he again represented the country in several sessions of the State Assembly. He was married to Dorothea, a daughter of Peter Taes, in 1752. This union was blessed with twelve children, of whom three sons, John, Jacob and George, served in the Revolutionary Army. His first wife died in 1773 and he was married a second time to Maria Kuder, a widow lady, the daughter of Conrad Fox. He died near Kreidersville, December 17, 1806.



Simon Dreisbach, Jr., born in Oberndorf, Wittgenstein and christened on 18 February 1730, died in Northampton County , Pennsylvania on 17 December 1806.

Simon and his family came to the United States on the ship Lydia which departed Rotterdam . They arrived in Philadelphia on 20 September 1743. The family settled in Lehigh township, Northampton County .

Simon married Maria Dorothea Dies [Does- Toss- Taes] in Philadelphia in April 1752. Simon was 22, his bride not quite 18. He seems to have taken her immediately to Alsace Township near Reading , where their first child was born. That same year, at age 22, he already appears on the tax list of Alsace Township, Berks Co. However, Simon soon moved to Northampton Co., settling in Allen Township , where he remained until his death.

Berks and Northampton Counties were both formed in 1752, and in about that year the first tax list of the inhabitants of Alsace Township , Berks County , was drawn up. Here we find "Simon Drisebogh" (that is, Simon, Jr.) and also "Adam Swasbogh". If this is a scribe's misspelling of Dreisbach, then young Adam appears to have had one foot in each of the two neighboring counties -- in central Berks and northern Northampton .

In May of 1754, when Simon Jr. recorded another birth in his family, he was still living near Reading . Soon, however, he would move closer to other members of his family in upper Northampton County . There some unexpected trouble awaited them all.

Twelve years after their disembarkation in Philadelphia , 1755 was a significant year in the history of Simon Dreisbach and his family. 1755 was the year in which land patents were filed by Simon Sr. and his sons Adam, Jost and George, for land in Minisink Indian territory, south of the Blue Mountain , in newly established Northampton County . The Dreisbachs had already purchased land from the local Indians, says one family tradition, and had already applied for patents on the land where they had established their settlements. However, not all their transactions were recognized by the descendants of William Penn, the Penn Proprietors, and therefore the Dreisbachs had to repurchase their land.

1755 was a year that ended in uncertainty. In September, October and November, Indians, incited by the French, began attacking settlers farther west in Pennsylvania . Suddenly, at the end of November, Indians attacked the peaceable Moravian mission at Gnadenhütten on the other side of the Blue Mountains , not so many miles north of the Dreisbach settlements. This was the reason for Benjamin Franklin's December 12th letter, which ordered Captain Van Etten to station a sergeant and six men at "Treisbach's Mill." In January 1756, Franklin and 100 men actually spent some time in the area, and established Fort Allen at what is now Weissport, north of Blue Mountain , in Carbon County .

Following the Gnadenhütten attack, a number of the settlers near the Blue Mountain fled to safer areas farther south. Some Dreisbachs are said to have fled to Easton , and others may have gone as far as Upper Bucks County , where baptism and marriages are recorded at the Tohickon Reformed Church in the late 1750's. However, since this was the church where traveling preacher Johan Egidius Hecker (for many years the Dreisbachs' preferred minister) kept his records, it is not certain that the baptisms were actually performed at this church which lay many miles to the south.

He was probably the most learned of Simon Sr.'s children, and was a member of several Provincial conventions, assemblies and commissions. In 1776 Simon Dreisbach Jr. was a signer of the Constitution of Pennsylvania which was headed by Benjamin Franklin. He was an elder of Zion Reformed congregation, and as such wrote a long letter in German in January 1773 explaining the situation of the small Reformed congregations in his area, and their need of a minister. This letter and the account he wrote of his children's births and his first wife's death, still exist. Most of Simon Jr.'s twelve children remained in Northampton County .

Extracts from a paper written by Dr. A. F. Snyder and read at the Dreisbach reunion, July 18, 1925:

"Land patents are filed at the Capitol in Harrisburg , Pa. , which show that the Dreisbachs had patents on 1000 acres from the Proprietaries, under the names of Simon, Yost, Adam and George Dreisbach and the earliest patent was requested in 1755. This settlement was just south of the Blue Mountains in the regions of the land claimed by the Minisink Indians, while not far to the north lay the Lehigh Gap. This land the Proprietaries purchased from the Indians, August 2, 1749, from the Delaware on the east to the Susquehanna on the west, to a point near Shamokin for the sum of 500 pounds."

"On December 12, 1755, in a letter from Benjamin Franklin to Captain Van Etten, he is instructed to have a sergeant and six men stationed at Treisbach's Mill."

In April, 1756, is a record: "Sent to Yost Trisbach in Lehi Township 1/4 cask of powder, 1 cwt. lead and 2 Blunder busses."

October 15, 1757, a petition by the inhabitants of Lehigh Township to the Council, deploring their condition and asking for additional military protection, guard houses, and a passable road. Signed by Simon, Yost and Adam Dreisbach.

Report of James Young, Commissioner of Masters to the Council, February 9, 1758, states a garrison is quartered in Northampton County at Treisbach's Mill.




The Constimtional Convention of 1776 consisted of the radical elected delegates that met in Philadelphia's Carpenter's Hall. There were eight members from each of the eleven Pennsylvania counties and from Philadelphia. All delegates were required to repudiate their allegiance to King George III. Benjamin Franklin was elected President of the Convention and the other officers included George Ross (Vice-President), Jacob Gorrigues (Secretary), Robert Morris, George Clymer, James Wilson, and George Taylor as delegates. The Constitution was drafted primarily by George Bryan, James Cannon, and Benjamin Franklin, with extensive input from John Adams, and the preamble and Declaration of Rights contain significant elements from the proclamations issued by the Stamp Act Congress, the First Continental Congress, and the Declaration of Independence. The constitution provided for a strong unicameral Assembly, a weak Supreme Executive Council, an appointed judiciary , and a Council of Censors. The final meeting of the convention was held on September 26, 1776 with the state constimtion becoming effective two days later. This convention was Pennsylvania's first major revolutionary political act nullifying its status as a colony under the King's jurisdiction and defining it as an independent commonwealth.



The Council of Censors consisted of officials elected by white freemen every seven years for a one-year term. These officials were charged with conducting a state census, managing legislative reapportionment, censuring or recommending the impeachment of public officials who had violated the Constitution, and with proposing changes in the constitution as deemed necessary. Two members were elected from each county and from the city of Philadelphia. The Council of Censors was intended as a check upon potential abuses perpetrated by the legislative and executive branches of state government.. This tool for constitutional revision was abolished in the Constitution of 1790.

Simon Dreisbach, Jr. was a member of both of the above.





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19 January 2009


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