Searching for Elizabeth Weyerbacher
By Terry J. Lee, from the files of Warren W. Wirebach June 2009
[Warren W. Wirebach was born June 1, 1916 and is a 4th Great-Grandson of Johann Nicholas Weyerbacher and Catharina Magdalena Hermanni, who emigrated from Baumholder, present day Germany, to America in 1751. He began researching the Weyerbacher family history in the 1960s. Warren is the founder of the Weyerbacher Family Reunion, held each July in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. See www.weyerbacher.net for more details. The various spellings of the Weyerbacher family name and others in this article are as they appear in the source material from which the information is derived.]
Family Origins Catharine Elizabeth Weyerbacher was born on September 3, 1765 in Lower Saucon Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, the daughter, and first child, of Johannes Weyerbacher (1734-1790) and Catharina Best (1745-1804). She was the granddaughter of Johann Nicholas Weyerbacher and Catharina Magdalena Hermanni. Also born in Lower Saucon Township were four of her younger siblings: Anna Weyerbacher (16 July 1767), Maria Magdalena (28 July 1769), Anna Maria (4 September 1771), and Nicholas (1 July 1773).
The family moved to Northumberland County, Pennsylvania and on 30 May 1775, a 336 acre tract in Buffalo Township (which later became part of West Buffalo Township, present day Hartley Township, Union County) was conveyed from Michael Traister to John Wyerbaugher for the sum of 307 (pounds?), recorded 20 June 1776. It was here that the family operated a farm1. A list of inhabitants in 1775 (Annals of Buffalo Valley, Pennsylvania, 1755-1855) lists John Wierbaugh with 8 acres under cultivation with two horses and three cows. This property had been surveyed for Traister 27 September 1770. At that time this part of Pennsylvania was the frontier.
On 13 March 1780, a son, Johannes, born to Johannes and Catharina, was christened in the First Reformed Church, Easton, PA. One of the godparents was Margaretha Best (single).
This seemingly inconsistent event, occurring far from the Buffalo Valley, is explained by “The Great Runaway of 1778.” As further discussed below, during the American Revolution tribes of the Iroquois Nation sided with the British. From Annals of Buffalo Valley, Pennsylvania, 1755-1855,
“July 3d occurred the massacre at Wyoming, the news of which received on the 5th, caused the general stampede of the settlers of our Valley, called the ‘Great Runaway.’”
A captured American Indian prisoner reported that it was the intention of the Indian war parties to murder all white inhabitants on both branches of the Susquehanna River. That revelation produced a great panic among the white settlers of the area, and they fled to various places that were perceived to be strong points.
This event explains the retreat of Johannes and family to Easton, where perhaps Catharina had family as evidenced by Margaretha Best as godmother. Sometime after the 1780 christening of Johannes, either in late
1 The farm was located along present day Shirk Road, about ¾ of a mile west of Millmont. For the location of the farm, see: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&ll=40.885194,- 77.154665&spn=0.02375,0.055618&t=h&z=15&msid=100854885372120880833.00046be00bd6680f7432c