The Swissdale Story
Goethe tells us that the best thing we derive from history is the enthusiasm it raises in us. History has meaning. We understand the new in the light of the old.
Swissdale, formerly known as the German Settlement, occupies a strip of land between the Fred Goodman land (about one mile west of the Rest Haven entrance) to about one mile northeast of the entrance to the main highway from Upper Lockport to Queen's Run. This is often known as Croak Hollow. On the north is the Whipporwill School; on the south the Dunnstown Road. Part of Swissdale is in Woodward Township and part in Dunnstable.
In order to orient our thinking let us learn when the neighboring villages were settled. The oldest is Dunnstown laid out in 1794 by William Dunn. Lock Haven was a farm of 200 acres belonging to Dr. John Henderson of Huntington. Jerry Church bargained for it in October 1833, with full possession April 1, 1834. Lock Port, part of the Nathaniel Hanna farm was laid out about the same time. Queen's Run, formerly Quinn's Run, attracted manufacturers of firebrick as early as 1835. Woodward District was formed in 1841 out of a part of Dunnstable and named in honor of G. W. Woodward then the presiding judge of this judicial district. Woodward District or Township then included Dunnstown, Lock Port and Queen's Run.
But the land beyond was a vast wilderness a hundred miles deep. It was to this wilderness that Nicholas Sutter came from Berne, Switzerland, in 1825. Why? In order to get the facts let us go to Switzerland.
The Swiss have always been a freedon loving people. As early as August 1, 1291 three communities made a perpetual alliance to protect themselves against bullying neighbors. That was the beginning of the Swiss Confederation. In the 1700's Switzerland felt the growing power of France. French armies swept down on the little republic in 1798 and quickly over ran the country. In 1803 Nepoleon gave Switzerland a new constitution setting up a federal republic of nineteen centons. After Nepoleon lost his power the old system was restored with only a few changes. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 guaranteed the neutrality of Switzerland and that neutrality never since has been broken. But there was a struggle for national unity. The constitution of 1815 was not satisfactory.
During the years from 1820-1848 there were frequent revolutions in almost every European country. Food was scarce, opportunities were limited. The Centons were overcrowded. Land was very scarce. The government dvided the farms into small plots, placed signs with numbers on them and gave each man his number. Sometimes the plots of ground would be several miles from the house where he lived and kept his animals. Each day he had to walk to farm his plot, and he had to give every tenth bushel to the government. The people decided their only hope was emigration. There had been rumors about the opportunities in Penn's Woods, so many people decided to seek a more peaceful life.
In 1825 Canton Berne in which Nicholas Sutter lived, sent him as an agent of the government to explore the land and to see whether reports about Pennsylvania were true. Sutter was born in Zurich, but moved to Berne in childhood. He started out alone and crossed the ocean in 38 days. He was the only passenger on the ship who was not seasick and always proud of that fact. He helped to do the work and to wait on the sick passengers. In this way he became acquainted with Elizabeth Witchey who was coming to America with her brother John and his family. During the five weeks' trip they became well acquainted and they were married soon after they arrived in 1826.
While all of the families who came over afterward were from the country districts around Berne, Elizabeth Witchey was from the city of Bern. She had had all of the free education that was offered. This was equivalent to about five years beyond the grammar grade. She also had had religious education and expected to do missionary work or enter the ministry in America. This she laid aside to marry Nicholas Sutter.
They arrived in Philadelphia early in the spring of 1826 and came up by boat and stage past Milton and Williamsport to Lock Haven which was partly wheat fields and partly swamp. It is said the swampy part was covered or "paved" with huge logs to make walking possible. They had no definite goal, but were looking for a section resembling Switzerland.
The forests of Switzerland had been depleted and no one was allowed to cut down a tree or even a branch without permission. Therefore when Sutter saw the miles of virgin forest he was quite impressed. He sent word back to his Canton: "Kommen alle; est ist wunderbar. Die walde sind unendlich und da sind gross Gelegheiten fur Werzen Rocken and Gartenge-minze za wuchsen."
Linn in his History of Centre and Clinton Counties (1883) says "with him were John Feller and John Witchey. (I have not been able to find anyone who knows anything about John Feller). There were no houses or signs of habitation, just a couple of trails and wild animals - panthers, wolves and bears. John Feller built the first log hut on land later owned by Jacob Weise. Mr. Feller and seventeen men cut and dragged logs, put up houses, split boards, put on the roof all in one day. Right here the mention of seventeen men is puzzling but remember the comtemporary history I stated in the beginning - Lock Port, Dunnstown, Quinn's Run were already established.
Next day Mr. Feller and family moved in. John Witchey and his brother-in-law Nicholas Sutter put up houses soon after and began to clear garden patches. All of this work was done without the aide of a team.
In 1830 Nicholas Sutter's cabin burned. This was on land later belonging to Christ Blesh. Soon he built a larger log house with one room upstairs and one room down with one door and one window. The forest was unbroken and this truly could be called a "howling wilderness". But these settlers went to work with axe and grubbing hoe-- there was little use for a plow. The trees were felled, roots dug out and these spots sown with wheat. Every stalk of wheat was cut and carried into the house and flailed, then gathered into a measure. When they had a bushel they carried it on their backs miles away to the grist mill and next day carried it home. Sutter often cradeled wheat in Lock Haven and on the Nathaniel Hanna farm for "Danny" Hanna.
He sent letters back to the 'old country' telling the advantages of the new land. One advantage was that the worker received every tenth bushel he harvested.
In 1832 and 1833 six families came from Canton Berne: Jacob Schumacher (later changed to Shoemaker), John Blesh, Johannes Laubscher, John Probst, Frederick Glise and John Swope.
I examined the passport of my great-grandfather -- Jacob Rudolph Schumacher and his wife Ann Kirkoffer Schumacher and their three children Rosanna, age 7, John R., age 4, and Jacob, age 3.
The official language on the passport was French. The writing was done in French by a Swiss and he evidently suffered in his lack of knowledge in writing French. In the upper left corner was a description of age, height, hair, forehead, eyebrows, nose, mouth and chin and face. It was issued by the Swiss Confederation Canton De Berne, Bretiege Prefecture de Cerlier. They left Bern May 14, 1833. It was signed by an interpreter. Next the French Ambassador in Switzerland placed his stamp thereon. On June 25, 1833 at Basle there was a stamp for the Consul General. This inscription read, "Seen at the Consulate General of the United States of America in Switzerland for going to the United States." On July 20, 1833 at Le Havre, France, it was stamped by the police after the would-be passengers swore that all the statements thereon were true. As they embarked, a heavy stamp bearing an anchor and an inscription were placed on it.
The passport consisted of a double sheet, each page 13 1/2 x 9" on heavy vellum or parchment paper.
Miss Ethel Probst who retired in January 1962 as a Guidance Counselor and Supervisor in some of the New York City Schools examined the passport of her great grandfather, John Probst, and gave me some interesting facts. It too was written in French: Age 24 years, height - 5'2", forehead low, eyebrows black, eyes black, nose ordinary, mouth medium, chin round, face oval. Then an introductory paragraph follows: "All those who are charged with the maintenance of order and surety are invited to let pass freely John Probst, Cooper, (barrel or cask maker) and his wife nee Laubscher and infant son John Probst aged one year. Originating from Finsterhennen, Prefecture of Cerliere." The said Probst exhibited to the proper official the prescribed sum required for the voyage - seven hundred fifty francs. It was requested that aid and assistance be given on the basis of reciprocal offer.
The passport was valid for one year including traveling time or until destination was reached.
It was given at Cerlier 11th day of May, 1833. On the reverse side were several items of interest.
First item - "The Official at the Republic of Bern, certifies that the signature of Mr. Probst is valid", 14th of May, 1833 at Bern.
Second Item- "Seen at the United States Consulate in Basle", 17th of May, 1833.
Third Item- "Seen at the Embassy of France in Switzerland for the purpose of entering France", 19th of May 1833.
Fourth Item- Seems to be something about the voyage to New York having been authorized. 20th of July, 1833.
Following are interesting facts about the rest of the group. John Blesh was a tailor and wife Elizabeth Marouf Blesh, small children John Rudolph, Mary and Ann came from Biele.
Johannes Laubscher, a basket and broom maker and wife, Mary Warrenbred, came from Bern.
Frederick Glise bought his land in 1840 then sold it in 1843. In 1855 he wanted it back but had to pay double the price for it.
The John Swope family tells an interesting story about the son's wife. He was quite young when he came over with his parents, Mr. & Mrs. John Swope. Several years later he met Mary Berger from the Irish Settlement. She and her sister Barbara had a difficult experience when they came from Germany to join their brothers who had been here for a few years. They were taken to New Orleans instead of New York. They worked their way north by doing odd jobs for short periods of time. This was more difficult because they could not speak English then. Finally they reached the Pittsbugh area. This gave them new courage and they managed to get to Lock Haven and then to the Irish Settlement.
This group of five families loaded a few most precious possessions on their wagons and traveled to the seaport Le Harve, France, where they sold their horses and wagons and then boarded a sailing vessel. They were on the ocean 37 days. One of the Probsts descendents tells me the Simons family of Lock Haven were on the same boat coming from Germany, but they did not leave New York for awhile. Later they came to Lock Haven. From New York City the Swiss "immigrants" "took the cars" to Philedelphia. The ground was broken for the first railroad on the Baltimore and Ohio line in 1829, consequently they must have ridden on the first railroad connecting Philadelphia and New York. From Philadelphia they came to Pottsville by canal boat.
It is said that the Wenker family and some others who came in the second contingent - in 1839 - came by canal to Sunbury or Milton, then walked over the Whitedeer Mountain to join the rest in the German Settlement. They were saving what money they had - all gold coins and carried in a heavy bag.
When the first group finally reached Nicholas Sutter they expected to see him "rolling in wealth". They were greatly disappointed for his place was surrounded by a wilderness. Four families stayed with him in his small house while they hewed the timber and built their own homes. These pioneers said that when dormitory space on the second floor was filled, they divided into shifts - one half sleeping while the other half flailed grain on the kitchen floor. It was the month of August, so many may have slept outside in spite of the howling wolves and panthers. Johannes Laubscher did not stay there. Immediately he put up a 10 x 12 log hut in another section.
Then began for all the struggle for existence. Land was apportioned up the side of the mountain, over the next valley, etc. as it had been in Switzerland. During the first years they cleared the land, planted it and then worked as many days as they would for Nathaniel Hanna at Lock Port or for William Dunn on the Island. Some worked on the dam (1834) when the canal was being completed here. Others worked at Quinns Run for Hollenbeck, McDonnell and Co., manufacturers of firebrick (1835-1840).
There were several ways of obtaining ownership of the land. Several big landowners, one of them by the name of Welch, and others claimed territory by purchase, by grant or even by "Tommy Hawk" rights. the new immigrants would hire on to clear so many acres. Then they were allowed to cultivate these for three years as their pay. In that time the thrifty Swiss had saved enough to purchase the tract. It was said that there were several unfair deals because no deed had been given and later someone else made them pay again to get the deed. Others of these early settlers just took squatters' rights to less desirable parts. Still others bought the cleared acres outright.
When the land was cleared and cultivated they raised large crops of wheat. Rye was raised for family use; white bread was a luxury, so the wheat was sold. It is said that they made a winter's supply of bread in the fall as they had no place to store grain. They left it freeze in pits or outside ovens, then brought it in as needed and put it on the hearth again. This must have been much like our storing baked goods in the freezer today. When a bad year came they blamed Sutter for bringing them into this section.
Aside from farming these men had a trade and followed it. For instance, John Blesh a tailor with his cloth patterns and scissors went to the different houses and fitted the family with new clothes. (Years ago I saw some old school pictures. Boys about seven or eight had very short hair, but seemed to wear dresses. My aunt who taught some of them told me that in many of the large families boys until nine wore dresses, but always kept their hair cut closely, while hair always had long hair.) Jacob Schumacher (Shoemaker) and Abraham Wenker were skilled cobblers. With leather and lasts they spent a week or more in each home in the autumn seeing that the family were properly shod for the winter. Some of the adults kept their own lasts from year to year.
Later Nicholas Sutter bought several hundred acres of land and moved from one farm to another selecting his h ome one in the East end of the new settlement. Here he built an eight room log home which was considered a mansion in those days by these Swiss people. Later he built a large brick house. (Brick was made close by from clay therein.)
These families lived here with nothing but hunters' paths for years. Wolves and panthers were plentiful until the '70's; bear until the '80's. Mrs. Sutter told how on some nights when she was alone at home with small children (Nicholas, her husband was working away) a panther and wolves climbed on the roof and tried to push aside the scantling and shingles; then they would try the door and window. One can readily understand why a cabin with one door and window was usually built.
Why did these people settle in this territory? No one knows except that they had followed Sutter and that the hills reminded them of their homeland in Switzerland. But one thing is true - Swiss can make a living where no one else can. This was due to the back history of the Swiss. These men came from ancestors who had had a perpetual struggle. All of them were very strong and determined. Every scrap of land in Switzerland was well cultivated. To the man who owned just a 'patch' on the mountain side of Switzerland, and who had burned every branch of a tree for wood, one or two hundred acres in this new land looked like a great wealth. The hills were farmed like a garden and all the early settlers were prosperous. Nicholas Sutter made enough to retire very young. He never believed in a bank, so he kept his money in a secret drawer, and lent it to anyone of his own nationality who was in need. A few forgot to pay back.
Other families followed: Wenkers - 1839, Probsts, Jacob Weise, Peter Boloman, Helbys, Kieffers, Rotes, Hecks, Maders, Grosses, Messerlys, Christian Blesh, Baumans, Goodmans, George Weises and Weavers. The number of Probsts coming over exceeded all others; there were at one time fifteen different families of Probsts, but many of them were not related. Many had the same first name so they were distinguished by middle initial, such as John A., John B., John F., etc. The same applied to the women; for example Mary E., Mary W., Mary A., Mary Adam (wife of Adam). The following is told as a true happening. In Sunday School the teacher asked the boys and girls who was the first man. One replied "Adam". "Who was the first woman?" Reply: "Mary Adam."
Some of the later ones to come over to this interesting community were Bernhardt Mader, Grosses, Sorgens, Bauman, Monroes, Weises, Raders, etc. I think that some of them came from Germany. It is said that Bernhart Mader could speak Italian, French and German quite fluently.
From 1832 to 1842 the religious services were first conducted in the houses without a minister. Mrs. Sutter who, before her marriage, had planned on becoming a missionary, now found her field of labor. She had been trained as a Deaconess in the Luthern Church of Berne. When the congregation increased and was too large for the homes, the meeting was held in the barn. She was chosed the first Class Leader. The first preachers were Circuit Riders who came in once a month more or less, following the narrow trail on horseback. On Monday morning they left and the intervening services were in the charge of the laymen.
Mrs. Sutter used to conduct revival services and also funeral services as late as 1870 when no preacher was available for the service.
The first preachers were Evangelicals, as this Church sent out German preachers. Jacob Albright, the founder of the Evangelical Church had held a revival in Brush Valley, Centre County in 1805. The Evangelical Church was first organized in 1843 in the log school house on the farm of B. F. Probst. This school house had been built in 1841. In 1858 when a new school was built at the Cross Roads, the old log house was done over by being weather-boarded and having new seats and a pulpit added. This served as a church until 1869 when the white church at the Cross Roads was built. It was across the road from the present church. This building, "The Evangelical Assocaition Church" was torn down and sold in 1927. The present church "The United Evangelical" was erected in 1895.
German Settlement as it was called was formerly constituted as a part of the Jersey Shore Circuit. In 1872 there were eight appointments" Frononia, Wayne, Pine, Nipponose, Friedens, Salladasburg and Jersey Shore. They were all detached from Jersey Shore in 1900. During 1872 to approximately 1890-92 the charge was served by two preachers at the same time, usually an older and a younger man. The older man preached in German and the younger man in English the following Sunday.
Differences arose in the church in 1891. A controversy arose in the Evangelical Association which was the name of the original denomination. This took place not only in the German Settlement, but also throughout the church of this faith as far west as the Mississippi. In 1895 the Central Pennsylvania Conference which had and still has jurisdiction over the Lock Haven Circuit, broke away from the Evangelical Association and became "The United Evangelical Church". The present church at Swissdale was built at that time. Therefore, sevices were conducted each Sunday in each of the Churches. In a small community this made an intense rivalry. The Swissdale Church was a unit of the Evangelical Church from 1895 until 1922 when most of the Evangelical Association churches joined with the United Evangelical churches to become "The Evangelical Church". The Association group were known as the Esherites, named for the leader Bishop Esher. Some of the older residents like to tell this tale. When the group in the church on one side of the road would sing "Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown" the group on the other side of the road reply by singing "No, Not One; No, Not One."
Two of the early Circuit Riders became Bishops: Rev. John Seybert in 1839 and Rev. W.W. Orwig in 1843.
In the new church Daniel Shoemaker, John Probst, David Sutter (Suiter) and Frederick Glise served as local ministers.
Educational opportunities were somewhat meager. Linn says that one first school in Dunnstable Township was erected at the beginning of the nineteenth century (Previous to 1804). The commom school system was established in 1837 and was divided into three districts: Liberty, Deckard, and Deise. Deckard and Deise were in part of the German Settlement.
Woodward District was founded in 1841 out of part of Dunnstable and named in honor of G. W. Woodward, then presiding judge. In 1841 a school was opened in the German Settlement on the B. F. Probst farm one mile from the Cross Roads. This school room had the typical pine benches without backs. Benches not fastened to the floor sometimes rolled over and as a result many a howl was heard. Some of the older residents carried injuries such as broken noses, sprained ankles and crippled fingers as relics of those days.
Some years later the house occupied by this school was abandoned and a new one erected about one mile east of the old one at Churchville, one of the several names given to the settlement. In 1854 a school house was built on the public road leading to Lock Haven to Churchville. In 1868 another one was built near the northeastern boundary of the district.
Here the first pupils were taught the three R's without books. Many learned to read and spell from newspapers. (The first newspaper Eagle, Lock Haven, was August 1838, by William Kinsloe). They learned the multiplication tables from the blackboards. Some of the older people declared they never had a book of any kind during their entire school career. Yet many of them graduated from the Central State Normal established in 1873. Others went to college elsewhere and several went on to graduate work and professional schools. Few places the size of Swissdale have given so many teachers to the world. Whole families minus one or two graduated from college and Normal School and went into professions. Some of these were the Daniel Shoemakers, the John R. Shoemakers, the Suiters, and the Wenkers. Some of the Probsts, Bleshes, Glises did likewise. I am referring tothose who did so from 1850 to 1900.
The first teacher in the German Settlement School was William Hiley, husband of Rosanna Schumacher one of the first immigrants at age 7. After his death she married Samuel Sutter (Suiter) also a teacher. Others in this school were Mr. Olman, Mr. Newell, Mr. McCormick, Mr. Schrack, Bob Aire, Isaac McCloskey, Wm. McCloskey, Samuel Suiter (son), John Bechdal and W. J. Shoemaker.
Most of these teachers believed in the old adage "Spare the rod and spoil the child." These children were certainly not spoiled. In the early days teachers "boarded round". Most families gladly took their turn for money was scarce. Later teachers were paid $15 - $20 a month from which they paid their own expenses. This was not too bad for in some old letters I noticed butter was 15 cents a pound; eggs 15 cents a dozen and housework $1.50 - $2.00 a week. Chaucer's words were quite true even then as they are true in many places today. "Quite learned was the pedagogue, All threadbare was his coat." These Swiss truly appreciated education. A book was a treasure handed down from generation to generation.
In the early days seven went out to become doctors and surgeons and a dentist. They were Dr. William A. Shoemaker and Dr. Fred Shoemaker who practiced in St. Louis; Dr. W. J. Shoemaker in Lock Haven; Dr. William Blesh, dentist; Dr. Lincoln Blesh who did graduate work in Vienna and located in Oklahoma; Dr. Ada Blesh Chandler, his sister, located in Wisconsin; Dr. David Suiter, grandson of Nicholas Sutter, practiced in New Jersey* (*authors note: practiced in Philadelphia, Penna. for 45 years, died in New Jersey- Louise Suiter Sweet) and died recently. Dr. Ernest H. Grugan, Dr. Austin Grugan and Dr. Frank H. Brown are the present generation of these earlier doctors.
These early settlers took active part in the Civil War. Many of them saw service in the hardest battles, did time in the prisons and received battle scars. I could not find the exact number from Swissdale. Its boundaries are so indefinite. About 75 went from Woodward Township. Frederick Probst and John Cohan lost their lives.
My grandfather, John R. Shoemaker told me when he was to Civil War my grandmother sold many of her cherished handwoven linens and laces. Also other heirlooms brought from "the old country". The men were fighting; the wheatfields could not be cultivated but there were hungry mouths to feed. Most had large families. True there were small savings but they were used for sickness, death and education. Her oldest son entered Northwestern University in 1874, the next daughter graduated from Central State School in 1884 and another one in 1889, so the savings were needed.
Some of these heirlooms were sold to wealthy lumbermen who happened to be in the area. (The Woodward House in Lockport which is the old red brick and small frame standing at the end of the Lock Port bridge was established in 1847. It entertained 25,000 men in one season. The Hanna Hotel, now torn down but known as the old hotel, was the second structure about hte Lock Port bridge on the River Road. It was established 1834. It entertained 20,000 one rafting season and fed 1400 in one day.) Some of these men were executives and lumber bosses from down state. Sometimes they brought their wives for a visit to the mountains. Farrandsville was the thriving business center. A kind of public market was held there where everything was sold. Then as now people were eager for beautiful had made laces, linens and heirlooms. Grandmother even cut a very large banquet cloth into squares 12" x15" which she sold separately, thus making more than if it was sold whole. Some mothers and wives worked in the Woodward and Hanna Hotels so they could eat and then carry leftovers to their children. Other strong women with half-grown boys plowed and sowed as their men had done. This probably was the usual pattern during the Civil War.
Swissdale was chiefly a farming community. However, it had one industry - a small brick yard. It was located along the main rood called the German Road in the neighborhood where Sutter and Feller located. Today the home of Ray Probst is near that location. All of the brick homes in older Swissdale were made from them: the John F. Probst home, now owned by William Laubscher, the Swope home where Mrs. Annie Reeder lives, the Suiter home and the Daniel Shoemaker home (now occupied by his grandson Lawrence) are still in good condition.
Some of the people became interested in making pottery. It was said that the Indians had used a cave near Queen's Run to make beautiful pottery. The Swiss being artistic and skillful craftsmen searched for some of this clay near the cave and it is said that there are many beautiful pieces of pottery made by the residents of Swissdale. I have not been able to find anyone who owns any pieces.
Many people today know Swissdale because of its beautiful cemetery. It was first called "Jacob's Garden". It was on land owned by Jacob Schumacher. Many of the lots purchased in recent years have been sold by his heirs. I believe the Probsts owned the other end and the Getz's some of it. A paragraph in Jacob Schumacher's will is interesting - quote "I wish my body be decently interred in the burying ground on my premises called Jacobs Garden according to the rites and ceremonies of the Evangelica Church and that my funeral be conducted in a manner corresponding with my estate and situation in life." Usually one's funeral has been conducted before one's will is read. I hope that Jacob had no disappointments.
In the early days many buried on their land or in small neighborhood plots. I know of three such plots. One is on the farm now owned by harvey Simcox about 2 miles east of the Cross Roads. This is the place where the first school house was built. It is referred to as the old cemetery over the Red Hill Road. A few of the Wenkers are buried here also some relatives of the Salmons. Another is said to be along the Little Plum Run Road, a mile to the left of the entrance to Crestmont, where the Shaffers are buried. It was the Rader place and it is the end of the Old German Road.
Then there is said to be another on the hill in front of the Donald Weise home on Big Plum Run Rd. I believe some Weises and Halls are buried there.
Swissdale has several suburbs: Hardscrabble (made famous by Faraway Moses), Pleasant Valley, (some citizens battled long and hard to keep this one), Plum Run and Whippoor-Will Hill, Deise Hollow, VonGunder or Beck Hollow, Croak Hollow, Skunk Hollow and Halltown.
Halltown has an interesting story. It is 3 miles from Lock Haven on the public road from Lock Haven to Swissdale. Today one much pass it in going from Dunnstown to the Cross Roads. Linn says it was taken up by warrant in the name of Peter Grove ( the Indian Scout) said to be a soldier's claim. It was sold for $2.00 - $4.00 an acre. Some of the first settlers were Felix McCloskey, Isaac McCloskey, John Smith, Coleman Huling and Andrew Litz. The first school house, known as the Smith School, was built in 1854 by Felix McCloskey. William Hawkman was the first teacher. Today this area is getting to be like the Eastern Seaboard a kind of "rural megalopolis".
As we said, Swissdale was known as Churchville, Pleasant Valley but mostly called the German Settlement. After years of different designations, a kind of town meeting was held in the church. This was about 1890. After discussing pro's and con's David Wenker rose and said it seemed ridiculous to call it German Settlement when most of the settlers came from Switzerland, and he moved to call it Swissdale and the motion carried.
The census of Woodward Township taken in 1850 is interesting. There were 249 white males, 215 white females and 12 colored. There were 152 colored in the county in that census: Lock Haven 55; Keating 52; Bald Eagle 17 and the other 20 scattered.
These settlers deserve great credit for the energy and presecerance they displayed in pioneering into the wilderness where surrounded by wild animals they cleared farms and established homes. The Indians had already left. This research helped to glimpse and relive the vicissitudes, the sacrifices, the suffering, the joys and hopes of our ancestors. Their's were not spectacular lives. They had no wealth, but they had the true fundamentals: love of learning, love of home, love of country and love of God. They were willing to make sacrifices to remain true to these ideals. On such was America founded and on such it must go forward.
(Florence Laubscher - for Clinton County Historical Society - March 20, 1962)
Cora Suiter - "Settlement of Swissdale", Written for Centennial issue of the EXPRESS in 1930 and revised 1939.
Linn - "History of Clinton and Centre Counties"
Maynard - "Historical View of Clinton County"
Also - Personal examination of tombstones, passports, family Bible, etc. and talks with relatives of ones mentioned.
*Donated by Dean Laubscher