The Descendants of John Herman
and Maria Caroline Beckman

von Dreele


John Herman VON DREELE and his wife Caroline BECKMAN, both immigrants from Hanover, Germany, married and raised a large family in Pottsville, Schuylkill county, Pennsylvania, before moving to Williamsport and Cogan House Township in Lycoming county.

As stated in The Early History of Cogan House Township, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, Book 1, “This family used the name of Drill ... few people, if any, were aware of the Prussian form, “von Dreele,” until it was made public at the time of deaths of members of the family.”[1]    John Herman von Dreele appears in all US federal census records as “John H. Drill.” Not until after 1900 (the year John died) did the “Drills” reclaim the original form of their surname.



Table of Contents

First Generation

1. John Herman von Dreele & Maria Caroline Beckman


Second Generation:

2. Rosanna (von Dreele) Mills                5. Emma (von Dreele) Mackey                7. Bertha (von Dreele) Oberfell

3. Elmira (von Dreele) Bosbyshell               John Henry von Dreele                        8. Edith (von Dreele) (Spooner) Alexander

4. Matilda (von Dreele) Schwoerer        6. George Franklin von Dreele                 9. Caroline (von Dreele) Berkheiser


Third Generation:

10. James Rex Bosbyshell                    16. Alfonso Chandler von Dreele             21. George Nathan Spooner

11. John Herman Schwoerer                17. Edith (von Dreele) Laudenslayer        22. William Chester Spooner

12. Bertha (Mackey) Rathmell             18. Almeda (von Dreele) Trego               23. Rex Clifton Spooner

13. Carolyn (Mackey) Barkley                  Travilla (von Dreele) Stuempfle          24. Luther Jacob Berkheiser

14. Edith (Mackey) Brown                  19. Charles Raymond Oberfell                 25. Mildred (Berkheiser) Faubion

15. Robert J. C. Mackey                     20. Elmira (Spooner) Burgess



Resource and Census Citations



First Generation


1. John Herman von Dreele was born in Hanover, Germany. John’s gravestone gives 1813 as his year of birth; and a family history written by John’s granddaughter Edith (Mackey) Brown noted his birthday as November 10, 1813. Edith was the daughter of William Mackey and Emma Elizabeth von Dreele. Here is the brief entry Edith wrote about her maternal grandfather:

“Emma Elizabeth von Dreele was born daughter of John Herman von Dreele, son of a German nobleman in Verda, Hanover, Germany, November 10, 1813. He died at the age of 88. He came to this country at the age of 13 to escape military service in Germany. He was the father of five daughters and two sons.”

Precisely where in Hanover John von Dreele came from, and exactly when he immigrated to the United States, have not been confirmed by information outside of family lore.[2]  

Apparently John von Dreele adopted an anglicized version of his surname from the beginning of his residence in the United States. In all census records John appears as “John H. Drill.” His entire family commonly used “Drill” as their surname, the proper Prussian spelling becoming known publicly only upon the occasion of a death in the family.

The earliest record we have regarding John is the announcement of his marriage in Die Stimme des Volks, a German language newspaper published in Orwigsburg, Schuylkill county, Pennsylvania.[3]   If the transcription data are accurate, John Drill and Mary C. Beckman, both of Norwegian Township, were married on May 31, 1840 by the Rev. Mennig (the Rev. William G. Mennig was a Lutheran clergyman).[4]  

John’s wife Maria Caroline Beckman – known simply as Caroline – also was born in Hanover, Germany, circa 1824, the daughter of Frederick and Fredericka (Lanacrein?) Beckman. The Beckman family immigrated to the US probably around 1832, when Caroline’s brother William was about three years old.[5]   Caroline would have been about sixteen years old at the time of her marriage to John, ten or eleven years her senior.

John H. Drill does not appear in the 1840 census as head of a household. The numbers for Frederick Beckman’s household in 1840, however, indicate that John most likely was living with his wife’s family in Norwegian (now Branch) Township.[6]  . By 1850 John and Caroline were living in the northwest ward of nearby Pottsville, where they would be enumerated in 1860 and 1870 as well.

John and Caroline had at least ten children (surname VON DREELE):

  1.   Rosanna (circa 1844 – before 1910)
  2.   Elmira (25 Dec. 1847 – after April 1934)
  3.   Mary L. This daughter, born in 1849, probably died young. She appears as a seven-month-old infant in the 1850 census, then disappears from the census record.
  4.   Matilda Jane (1853 – 1932)
  5.   Emma Elizabeth (1856 – 1935)
  6.   John Henry “Hen” (1857 – 1924)
  7.   George Franklin “Frank” (1860 – 1939)
  8.   Bertha A. (1862 – 1952)
  9.   Edith (1865 – 1952)
  10.   Caroline Augusta “Carrie” (1867 – 1934)

Much of what we know about John von Dreele, his family, and his relatives comes from census records which, fortunately, offer a number of details. In 1850 John worked as a boatman. That year the real estate John owned was valued at $800. His household included his mother-in-law, Fredericka Beckman, and Caroline’s 15-year-old brother, Philip, who also worked as a boatman.

Almost certainly John and Philip plied their trade as boatmen on the Schuylkill Canal, which made the Schuylkill River “navigable from Philadelphia to the coal regions in the Alleghenies, 100 miles upriver.” Between 1825, when the canal system was completed, and about 1870, when the railroad effectively replaced water transport, “canal boats brought millions of tons of anthracite downriver, fueling the industrial revolution in every town along the way. Return trips, up river, carried manufactured goods, clothing and building materials.”[7]  

Highway robbery sprang up along the canals in the form of the Schuylkill Rangers, a roving gang of Irishmen mostly from Philadelphia. John von Dreele fell victim to these notorious ruffians at least once:

“The same paper [The Miners Journal] of September 30, 1865, stated that this gang robbed John Kohler. I interviewed Mr. Kohler, who is now ninety-seven years old and lives on Sixth Street near West Norwegian, in Pottsville, with the Dechant family. He said, ‘Yes, that’s so. I came driving along in a buggy, dangling a billy – everyone went armed in those days, they had to. I was thinking how I would sock anyone that tackled me, when all at once the horse stopped. I looked forward to see what stopped him, when a powerful brute grabbed me from the side of the buggy and slung me out. They beat me up and robbed me of $3.50. They were the Schuylkill Rangers and also beat up John Drill and Tom Trimble.’”[8]  

By 1860, John von Dreele’s occupation was that of shopkeeper. Apparently he was a prosperous one: this census recorded the value of John’s real estate at $3000, and his personal estate at $2000. The household had swelled to include six children. Fredericka Beckman is not listed with the von Dreele family; perhaps she was deceased by this time. Philip, Caroline’s younger brother, now listed as a laborer, continued to live with John’s family. This was soon to change.

Philip Beckman served two tours of duty during the Civil War. He joined the Union army on September 23, 1861, in Pottsville, enlisting as a private in Company D of the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry; at some later point he mustered-out. Philip re-enlisted on January 1, 1864 at Blanes Crossroads, Tennessee, and was promoted to corporal. It was disease rather than war wounds that cost Philip his life: He died in a Baltimore, Maryland, hospital on February 9, 1865, and was buried in Pottsville in Presbyterian Cemetery.[9]  

By 1870, John is recorded as being a grocery store keeper, the value of his real estate unchanged but his personal estate valued at half of what it was in 1860. In this census, column #19 was checked for John H. Drill, indicating that he was a citizen of the United States. The family had grown by three more children. The two eldest, Rosanna and Elmira, were married by this time. Rosanna, her husband Albert Mills (a “glue maker”) and their baby daughter Carrie were enumerated twice that year, once as residing in John’s house and again in their own residence in Pottsville.

Sometime between 1870 and 1880, all the von Dreeles, except Elmira and her family, left Pottsville, moving about 58 miles northwest to the city of Williamsport in Lycoming county. By 1880 Elmira had moved with her family to Philadelphia.

An article in the Nov. 24, 1875 edition of Williamsport’s Gazette & Bulletin mentions Albert V. Mills, Rosanna von Dreele’s husband, as part-owner of a soap and glue “manufactory” there. The same newspaper reported on August 10, 1876 that Albert’s partners had bought out some portion of his business interests. The 1880 census reveals, however, what a family affair this business was – John von Dreele; his sons Henry and Frank; his son-in-law Albert Mills; and later his son-in-law Charles Schwoerer, Matilda’s husband – all worked at making glue and/or soap.

By the end of June 1881, Frank, the younger of John’s two sons, was noted as being “of Cogan House” in the newspaper item announcing his marriage. The family had moved a dozen or so miles north of Williamsport, to rural Cogan House Township. The von Dreeles lived in the Green Mountain area of Cogan House.

That Charles Franklin (“Frank”) Beckman lived on Green Mountain may account for some of the von Dreele family’s interest in moving there. Frank Beckman was Caroline (Beckman) von Dreele’s nephew, the son of her brother Charles and his wife Harriet Klein.[10]  

Frank Beckman was born in Pennsylvania in December 1848. Apparently both his parents died when he was quite young. Eleven-year-old Frank and his nine-year-old sister Sarah were listed in the 1860 census as “servants” living in the household of Henry and Catherine Wetzel in Eldred, Schuylkill co., PA. (An older brother, William, would have been about 15 years old and probably was employed elsewhere.)

Frank probably came to Cogan House to work in the lumbering trade (census records indicate that he labored in a logging camp). He ended up marrying a sawyer’s daughter, Mary Ann Garrison, in 1879, and raising their three sons on Green Mountain, nearby his wife’s family. Mary Ann, known as “Annie,” was born in June 1860, the daughter of Cornelius Garrison and his wife Sarah Jane Morrison.[11]   Frank and Annie’s children were William Henry Beckman, born Sept. 30, 1880; Murray Herman Beckman, born in 1882; and Charles Franklin Beckman, Jr. (also known as Frank), born December 13, 1884, died July 22, 1946.[12]  

Four of John and Caroline von Dreele’s daughters were already married, with their own families and households. Bertha, the next daughter to marry, wed in December 1881 (in Williamsport). It appears that when John and Caroline von Dreele resided in Cogan House, they had just Henry, Frank, Edith, and Carrie living at home. Frank married in June of 1881; we know that he and his family lived on Green Mountain. With Frank and Annie Beckman’s house just down the road, the von Dreeles doubtless enjoyed the company of their cousin’s family.

“Drill, John H.” appears on an 1885 list of taxpaying residents in Cogan House Township. “It appears that able-bodied males who did not own real estate had a fixed tax of $1.50” – and John Drill’s tax is listed as $5.40, so apparently he owned real estate in Cogan House. In comparison with his neighbors, John paid a middling amount of road taxes. Frank and Annie Beckman were assessed separately, Frank for $2.80 in road taxes, Annie for $1.50. Apparently Annie Beckman owned real estate in her own right, possibly given to her by her father.[13]  

Caroline von Dreele's obituary

Caroline (Beckman) von Dreele died in Cogan House at about 65 years of age on November 17, 1889. The announcement of her death in Williamsport’s Gazette & Bulletin noted that her funeral would take place from the home of Valentine Oberfell, daughter Bertha’s husband. Caroline was buried in Wildwood Cemetery in Williamsport, in a plot purchased by Val Oberfell.

John lived another eleven years beyond the death of his wife. Lack of a “usual residence” could account for the fact that he does not show up in the 1900 census. John may have lived in more than one place during the last year of his life, when his health was failing and he needed daily assistance.

headstones of John and Caroline von Dreele

By at least 1896, son Frank was living in Williamsport again; Edith and Carrie had married and established their own households and families. Only Henry, who never married, remained in Cogan House. Henry appears in the 1900 census in Cogan House as a boarder in the household of Benjamin Bitterman, suggesting that the original von Dreele property might have passed into other hands.

John Herman von Dreele died at the age of 87 on December 4, 1900 at 924 W. Third Street in Williamsport, the home of his daughter Rosanna Mills. John was laid to rest next to his wife Caroline in Wildwood Cemetery, Williamsport, Lycoming county, Pennsylvania, in Lot 1124 “Mound Cemetery,” on the west side of Wildwood. The coordinates for their burial sites are 41 14.965N, -77 02.430W.


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Second Generation


2. Rosanna von Dreele was born in Pottsville, Schuylkill county, Pennsylvania, around 1844 or 1845. (Census records suggest that Rosanna consistently trimmed years off her reported age.) The eldest of John and Caroline (Beckman) von Dreele’s children, she was probably also the first of their children to marry. Around 1868, Rosanna wed Albert V. Mills, also of Pottsville. Rosanna, Albert, and their infant daughter Caroline appear in the 1870 census as part of John von Dreele’s household.

We don’t know who Albert’s father was. In the 1850 census, 4-year-old Albert appears with 24-year-old Mary Mills, presumably his mother. The head of the household was 48-year-old Catherine Smith. They lived next door to Jacob Kienzle, a German-born glue manufacturer with a wife and son.[14]   By the 1860 census, Mary was Jacob’s wife and had borne him additional children. Jacob was a rather wealthy man; his stepson Albert was probably a very good catch for Rosanna.

Albert and Rosanna had seven children (surname MILLS):

  1.   Caroline M., born circa 1869, almost certainly in Pottsville, Schuylkill county, PA. Caroline became a school teacher and apparently never married.
  2.   Augusta, born circa 1870, married John H. Donaldson.
  3.   George A., born circa 1872.
  4.   Florence E., born circa 1874.
  5.   Clarence V., born circa 1875.
  6.   Deborah H., born circa 1877.
  7.   Rosa A., born October 1879, per the 1880 census.

It was necessary to estimate the birth dates of Rosanna’s children because their ages as listed in the 1880 census do not match the birth month and year data from the 1900 census. We suspect that Rosanna supplied this information; and once she had altered her own age by a few years, she subsequently needed to “adjust,” accordingly, the years her children were born, in order not to expose her little white lie.

Albert Mills seems to have been a prosperous man, first working in the business of glue and soap manufacturing, later as a “solicitor” and, as of the 1900 census, in the fire insurance business. Five of the Mills children were still living at home in 1900. By 1910, Rosanna had died; Albert is listed as a widower, living with his daughters Caroline and Florence. Albert, now 65, was working in the “Treasury Dept.” at the “State Capitol.”

Albert still had plenty of life left in him. The 1920 census shows 74-year-old Albert living in Harrisburg, Dauphin county, PA, with his 30-year-old wife Ella F. and their son Albert V., Jr., three years and two months old.   Albert, Sr., worked as a clerk in the state treasury department.


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3. Elmira von Dreele was born December 25, 1847, in Pottsville, Schuylkill county, Pennsylvania. On Oct. 24, 1868, in Pottsville, Elmira married Charles Albert Bosbyshell, born May 10, 1836 in Port Carbon, Schuylkill county, PA, the son of Oliver Christian Bosbyshell and his wife Mary Ann Whitney.[15]  Charles served in the Union Army (Co. B, 39th Pennsylvania Volunteers) for four months during the Civil War, achieving the rank of first sergeant.

Charles and Elmira had two children (surname BOSBYSHELL):

  1.   John Albert, born 20 Sept. 20, 1870, probably in Pottsville.
  2.   James Rex (1876 – aft 1930)

The 1870 census shows 34-year-old Charles A. Bosbyshell and his 22-year-old wife Elmira living in Pottsville in the household of Charles’s widowed mother, Mary (Whitney) Bosbyshell. Also living in this household were Mary’s mother, Elizabeth (Ford) Whitney; two of Mary’s unmarried sisters, Catherine and Elizabeth; Charles’s twin brother Lebbeus, who never married; and a sixteen-year-old domestic servant. Charles’s occupation was listed as printer; Lebbeus worked as a railroad clerk.

The 1880 census tells us that Charles Bosbyshell and his family were now living in Philadelphia, where Charles worked as a “counter” at the US mint in Philadelphia. (In 1869 his younger brother, Oliver C. Bosbyshell, was “made register of deposits in the United States Mint in Philadelphia,” ultimately being “appointed superintendent of the Mint of the United States at Philadelphia, by President Harrison, on October 17, 1889.”[16]  ) Charles and Elmira Bosbyshell seem to have resided exclusively in Philadelphia from at least 1880 to 1920.

By 1920, Elmira was a widow, living with her son James and his family in Philadelphia. In 1930, she was 82 years old and still living with James’s family, which had moved to Springfield, Delaware county, PA. Elmira died sometime after April 1934, which is when her younger sister Carrie Berkheiser passed away: In Carrie’s obituary “Mrs. Charles Bosbyshell of Philadelphia” was named among the surviving relatives.


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4. Matilda Jane von Dreele was born on June 4, 1853 in Pottsville, Schuylkill county, Pennsylvania. Around 1872, when she was nineteen years old, Matilda married Karl “Charles” Schwoerer, born September 10, 1840 in Ettenheim, Freiburg, Baden, Germany, the son of Benedikt and M. Ursula (Meroth) Schwoerer. Charles and Matilda had one child, a son (surname SCHWOERER):

  1.   John Herman (1873 – bef 1930)

Charles, Matilda, and their son appear in the 1880 census in Williamsport’s 7th ward. This census describes Charles’s occupation as “works at tannery.” By 1900, Charles was a “soap maker,” probably working at the same soap and glue factory in which his in-laws had also worked and invested. Matilda and Charles continue to show up as a couple in Williamsport census records through 1920.

Charles Schwoerer died at age 81 on December 4, 1921. He was buried in Wildwood Cemetery in Williamsport, in Lot 362 MW, which is in “Mound Cemetery” on the west side of Wildwood.

In the 1930 census Matilda is listed as “Mathilda J. Schwoerer,” age 77, a widow. She lived alone in her Arch Street home; her occupation was listed as “caretaker” for a church. Matilda (von Dreele) Schwoerer died on January 9, 1932, at age 78. She was buried with her husband Charles in Lot 362 MW in Wildwood Cemetery, Williamsport.


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5. Emma Elizabeth von Dreele was born January 16, 1856 in Pottsville, Schuylkill county, Pennsylvania. On the 27th of November 1878, when she was twenty-two years old, Emma wed William Mackey, born September 19, 1856, in Muncy, Lycoming county, PA. William was the son of Martin S. Mackey and his second wife, Jane Betts. William and Emma were married by the Rev. John Burrows at the Williamsport residence of Mr. and Mrs. Albert V. Mills – Emma’s sister and brother-in-law.

William and Emma had four children (surname MACKEY):

  1.   Bertha Adella (1880-1964)
  2.   Carolyn V. (1885-1958)
  3.   Edith A. (1892-1975)
  4.   Robert James Cassel (1894-1960)


Mackey group photo

ABOVE: This undated photo of the extended Mackey family includes William Mackey, far right
in the back row, so it was taken before his death in June 1927. We suspect that the woman
standing next to him is his wife, Emma (von Dreele) Mackey. Three of the women in the back row
are likely Mackey daughters Carolyn, Edith, and Bertha.


At the time of the 1880 census, William and Emma were living in Williamsport; William worked as a “laborer.” By 1900 the family was enumerated in Ogle township in Somerset county, PA, two hundred or so miles west of Williamsport. William’s occupation now was that of “lumber counter.” By 1910, the Mackeys resided in Ligonier, Westmoreland county, PA; William was a lumber dealer. (We don’t know where William and Emma were living in 1920 because we’ve searched for them in that year’s census and always come up empty-handed.)

William died at age 71 on June 27, 1927 from a ruptured aortic aneurysm. His death certificate gives his residence at time of death as 421 Fifth Ave., Parnassus Park, PA. Parnassus Park is part of New Kensington in Westmoreland county, roughly 47 miles northwest of Ligonier. (Whether this was the Mackey residence or simply the address of a hospital or another place where William died is unknown.) William Mackey’s occupation was noted as “clerk” for the Ligonier Valley Railroad. He was buried on July 1, 1927, in Section A, Lot 68 of Ligonier Valley Cemetery, in Ligonier, Westmoreland county, PA.

William and Emma Mackey’s headstone

In 1930 Emma was living in Ligonier in the household of Carolyn and John Barkley, her daughter and son-in-law. Carolyn’s sister Edith lived with them, too, apparently divorced from her first husband. Emma lived eight years beyond the death of her husband William. She died of a cerebral hemorrhage at age 79 on August 22, 1935, in Ligonier. Emma was laid to rest on August 26th with William in Ligonier Valley Cemetery. William and Emma Mackey’s shared headstone notes both of their years of birth as 1855 rather than 1856, a discrepancy we cannot explain.


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John Henry von Dreele appears unnumbered in this history because he did not have offspring. His story, however, is too interesting to omit. John Henry was born in Pottsville, Schuylkill county, PA, in 1857, one of only two sons born to John and Caroline von Dreele. The 1870 census lists him as “John H.;” all other censuses list him as Henry Drill, the single exception being 1910 when he was enumerated as Henry von Dreele. He went by his middle name, obviously, and answered to the nickname “Hen.”[17]  He appears in various records, therefore, with the somewhat odd appellation “Hen Drill.”

When he lived in Williamsport, Henry worked at the glue factory along with his father and brother. In 1900 Henry was a “day laborer,” lived upon his “own income” in 1910, and was listed in the 1920 census without any particular occupation (“none”). It seems the von Dreele family’s relocation to the Green Mountain section of Cogan House Township in 1880 or ’81 was a positive move for Hen, who worked for many years as a “woodsman” and a guide for hunters.

The 1910 and 1920 censuses show Henry living alone. Hen may have inherited the house in which he lived with his parents and siblings; or he may have gotten his own place in the Green Mountain area. We have some idea of where Henry and his brother Frank lived, based on clues derived from The Early History of Cogan House Township, Book 1, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.

Green Mountain Road

“Two other early families who settled east of the Green Mountain schoolhouse were those of H. F. Winder and Frank Drill (von Dreele). Both located near the intersection of the Halderman and Green Mountain Roads.”[18]  

An 1866 petition for a road “from the Township Road at or near Moses Grangers to intersect the Trout Run Road below Amos Miller’s Steam Sawmill” describes the location of this road thus:

“From Moses Granger’s land, just below the schoolhouse site, it appeared to follow the course of the present road. Just across the stream, near the Hen Drill place, it passed between the lands of Clendenin ... on the north and James Spooner on the south, thence somewhat south of the Beckman place ... to the summit.”[19]  

The site of the schoolhouse on Green Mountain Road is apparent in an excerpt from an 1873 map (above left). The intersection of the Halderman and Green Mountain Roads is shown in a more recent topographical map (above right): The road running from the north, and just east of Larry’s Creek, to intersect with Green Mountain Road, was known as Halderman road because it

“passed by the John Halderman house ... thence along the Lewis Halstead property, past Lewis Halderman’s to what we would call the Green Mountain Road.”

“This is the ‘John Halderman Road,’ presently referred to by the Township Supervisors as the ‘Edwards Road.’” (James Edwards later owned the John Halderman house.)[20]  

The Early History of Cogan House Township notes that as one traveled east on Green Mountain Road, past the schoolhouse, the Hen Drill place was “just across the stream” and apparently just west of the property of James Spooner (“J. Spooner” is noted on the 1873 map, on the south side of the road). Frank Drill “located near the intersection of the Halderman and Green Mountain Roads.” We have circled a dot on the topo map that fulfills both these descriptions. We hope to learn someday if the house signified by this dot is, in fact, where the von Dreeles lived.

Henry Drill acquired a reputation for being somewhat eccentric. Here is a wonderful story about Hen, excerpted from The Early History of Cogan House Township:

Hen Drill was a bit of a recluse who lived by himself near to where the Green Mountain road crosses over Spooner Run.... He was a kind of home-spun naturalist who not only knew much about wild animals, but also was likely to have various species of them in some form of captivity around his place. At one time he had several bears tied up by collars and chains in his yard to posts, around which he had fitted iron rings so that they could turn and thus prevent the chains from twisting. Clyde Connelly spoke of the procession of sightseers in cars, buggies, and on foot who would gather from considerable distances to see his menagerie on Sunday afternoons.

He caught the bears on the mountain in traps made of logs and baited with honey or some other bear delicacies. One day he caught a large one for which he knew he would need more than just ropes and men for transporting it down to his house. Smaller bears would be “led, pulled, and dragged” down by four men, with ropes around the bear extending out in each of the four directions. This time, in addition to a crew of men, he obtained the use of a team of horses and a large stoneboat. How they got the bear out of the trap and tied securely, flat on the boat, we will never know; but they did. Not long after they started down the mountainside, the horses got down-wind of their cargo and did not like what they smelled – as would have been expected. It probably did not help matters that one of them was blind, either. Away they went on the run over the rough terrain, with the stoneboat on top of the bear about as much as vice versa and the men doing their best to keep up and to keep from getting entangled in the ropes. Unfortunately, there were no TV crews on location to film the wild trip, this being around 1920. The outcome was that they did get the unfortunate creature to its awaiting stake and chain with nobody miraculously receiving any injuries more serious than a few scratches, cuts, and bruises. In retrospect, the men would probably have said that a tranquilizer for the bear would have spoiled half the fun.[21]  

Hen Drill may have been “a bit of a recluse,” but he had relatives nearby – two sisters, Carrie Berkheiser and Edith Spooner and their families, and his brother Frank Drill and family. Frank’s daughter Edith von Dreele would “follow Uncle Hen around until he kindly told her it was time for her to go home.”[22]   Many years later, Edith would tell stories to her grandchildren about Uncle Hen, including the one about “the unfortunate bear.”

Hen Drill’s headstone

Mrs. Dorothy Watkins, a present-day resident of Trout Run, PA, had occasion to interview a couple of “old timers” who were back in town for a visit. One of them remembered Hen Drill, and recalled that Hen raised some delicious strawberries – which this person, as a child, apparently picked and ate without permission! It was also recalled that Hen had quite the menagerie on his property – the bears, of course, but also deer and foxes. The Department of Agriculture in Harrisburg, PA, recorded a variety of snake specimens (including rattlesnakes) submitted by “J. H. Drill [of] Cogan House” in the months between May 1906 and August 1907.[22.5]

Mrs. Watkins told us that Hen Drill lived “way up the mountain road” on Green Mountain. She seemed to think that the house (or houses) might not be there any longer. (Our efforts with the maps may have been for naught; but we’ll look into property records some day.)

Hen Drill died at about 66 years of age on May 28, 1924, in Cogan House.[23]   He was buried in a corner of Persun Christian Cemetery in that part of Cogan House known as Trout Run. His headstone is inscribed simply “J. H. Von Dreele, 1857 – 1924.” Hen’s gravesite is near that of his sister-in-law Nell C. von Dreele.

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Frank von Dreele in 1916

6. George Franklin von Dreele was born January 4, 1860 in Pottsville, Schuylkill county, PA, the second of John and Caroline von Dreele’s two sons. Like his older brother Henry, this child went by his middle name and was known as “Frank.”

Frank, too, worked at the glue factory when the family lived in Williamsport. By the time he got married in 1881, Frank Drill was “of Cogan House.” Unlike Henry, however, Frank “hated the farm” in Cogan House.[24]   Not long after his first wife’s untimely death in 1894, Frank moved back to Williamsport where he lived for the rest of his life.

Frank Drill was married four times. His first wife, Nell J. Chandler, born February 21, 1860, was the youngest child of Rev. Abram S. Chandler and his wife Almeda Lewis. The 1880 census tells us that Nellie Chandler was a nurse. Her father was an itinerant Methodist Episcopal minister, one who rode a circuit through various towns and villages to conduct religious services.

According to family lore, all three of Nellie’s brothers – Ira Lewis (“Lew”), George B., and Levi Wesley (“Wesley”) – were Methodist Episcopal clergy as well. We’re not so sure about George; the census never specifies his line of work as church-related. He was an agent for a sewing machine company in one census year, and listed in others as a farmer. But Lew and Wesley were indeed men of the cloth.

Chandler brothers

RIGHT: This photo, dated July 14, 1917, shows (from left to right) Nellie’s brothers Lew, Wesley, and George B. Chandler.

Religion ran in Nellie’s mother’s family as well. Almeda (Lewis) Chandler’s father was the Rev. Oliver Lewis, Jr., known as the Weeping Prophet: “He traveled on horseback throughout the Wyoming Valley [in PA], and as a result of his labors hundreds of men were converted....”[25]  

Frank Drill married Nellie Chandler in Williamsport on the 30th of June in 1881. The marriage announcement in Williamsport’s Gazette & Bulletin managed to mangle Frank’s initials:

DRILL – CHANDLER – At the residence of Mr. Joel T. Kline of Williamsport, by Rev. A. E. Taylor, June 30th, Mr. J. F. Drill, of Cogan House, Lycoming county, and Miss Nellie J., daughter of Rev. A. S. Chandler, of Flemington, Clinton county.[26]  

In 1880 Nellie was residing with Joel and Mary Kline. Mary, who was Joel’s second wife, almost certainly was Nellie’s older sister, Mary L. (Chandler) (Rothrock) Kline.

Edith Louise von Dreele and two others

Frank and Nellie Drill made their home in Cogan House Township. Frank “served several terms as School Director during the early years of the nearby [Green Mountain] school.”[27]  

They had six children (surname VON DREELE):

  1.   Alfonso Chandler (1882 – 1971)
  2.   Edith Louise (1886 – 1965)
  3.   Almeda Caroline (1889 – 1987)
  4.   Beatrice E. “Bea,” born March 23, 1893, married John L. Quigle around 1925. John, born May 14, 1894, was the son of Sylvester Quigle and Meta Rachel Laudenslayer. John and Bea lived in Detroit, Michigan; they had no children. John died in September 1966; Bea died in December 1989.
  5.   Carl
  6.   Martha

ABOVE LEFT: In this undated photo, the older of the two girls is Edith Louise von Dreele, eldest daughter of Nellie and Frank. The other child is probably Edith’s sister Almeda. The woman in this photo may be their mother, Nellie (Chandler) von Dreele. If so, this is the only image we have of her.

Nellie Drill died on the 7th of May 1894, at 34 years of age. Her eldest child, Alfonso, was twelve; her youngest child, Beatrice, only thirteen months old. Nellie was laid to rest in the Persun Christian Cemetery in Cogan House. (This area is known today as Trout Run). Her gravestone is inscribed, “‘Mother,’ Nell C. von Dreele, 1860 – 1894.” The coordinates of this gravesite are 41 24.916 N, -77 10.649 W.

Persun Christian Cemetery

Nellie’s death was announced in Williamsport’s Gazette & Bulletin:

Nellie J. Chandler, youngest child of Rev. A. S. Chandler, wife of G. Franklin Von Dreele. Born at Mt. Zion, Luzerne county, Pa., on the 21st of February, 1860. Joined the M. E. [Methodist Episcopal] church in 1874 under the Ministry of Rev. A. E. Taylor, in Flemington, Clinton county, Pa. Died May 7th, 1894, aged 34 years, 3 months and 17 days.[28]  


A headstone of the same design marks a grave immediately to the right of Nellie’s, with the simple inscription “Carl and Martha von Dreele.” We have only family lore to tell us about Carl and Martha, two of Frank and Nellie’s children who don’t show up in any official records. When daughter Edith told stories to her grandchildren, she included one about her brother Carl. As Edith’s grandson Dan recalls, Carl died when he was about 10 years old as the result of an accident. “Grandma said they were sledding and a big kid jumped on him to ride double. She thought he had [died of] internal injuries.” As for Martha von Dreele, family lore has it that one child died in infancy; this probably was Martha.

By fall of 1894, Frank was actively “courting a widow.”[29]   That widow was Sarah Ulmer, born around 1864 in Hepburn Township, Lycoming County, PA, the daughter of John and Catharine (Wurster) Ulmer.

It’s not certain that Sallie Ulmer was, in fact, a widow. Sallie’s daughter Myrtle, born June 24, 1889, used Ulmer as her surname.[30]   This suggests to us that Myrtle may have been born out of wedlock. Frank Drill and Sarah Ulmer did marry, though we do not know exactly when or where. Afterwards, it appears that Myrtle used Frank’s surname. This second marriage may have occasioned Frank’s decision to move back to Williamsport.

Tragedy soon struck Frank and Sallie’s blended family. Williamsport’s Gazette & Bulletin reported on February 10, 1896 that:

Myrtle, daughter of Frank and Sadie Drill, died at the residence of Mrs. Rosa Bostley, 214 Church Street, yesterday morning at 9:30 o’clock, aged six years, seven months, and nine days. Funeral services will be held at the German Baptist church, corner Washington and Packer streets, to-morrow morning at 9 o’clock. Interment in Blooming Grove cemetery [in Hepburn].[31]  

Rosa Bostley, widow of George L. Bostley, was Sallie’s older sister. We have no details regarding the cause of young Myrtle’s death at the house of her aunt. We know from family lore that Sallie and Frank ended up divorcing.[32]  

In 1900 Frank and his daughters were boarding at 619 Louisa Street, Williamsport, in the household of Rosa L. (Ebner) Henry, the widow of Rollin H. Henry. (Frank’s son Alfonso was old enough to be on his own, though we don’t know where he resided in this census year.)

Frank subsequently married Rosa as his third wife.

Rosa Louise Ebner was born August 11, 1870 in Williamsport. In a family history account written by daughter Pearl Henry, Rosa’s parents are named as Christian John Ebner and Dorothea Bluemle. Census and other records indicate that Rosa’s mother was indeed Dorothea Bluemle but that her father was Jacob Friedrich Ebner. The 1870 census listed the household of Fred “Abener,” his wife Dorothea, and their three children – Christian, Fred, and Catharine – all born in Württemberg, Germany. In 1873 the Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church in Williamsport recorded the birth and baptism of Louise Caroline Ebner, daughter of Jacob Friedrich Ebner and Maria Dorothea Bluemle.[33]  

Pearl Henry’s chronicle of the life and times of her parents and grandparents is interesting and instructive enough to recount here [with a few asides]:

[Rosa Ebner’s parents] came to United States from Stuttgart, Germany, Wurttemberg Province in 1868. Lived in Williamsport for five years and died in 1874 two weeks apart of typhoid fever, during an epidemic. Are buried in southeast part of Washington Street Cemetery. Brought three children, Christian, four years of age, Frederick two, and Kathryn just a baby. [This agrees with the 1870 census record.] Had two more children, Rosa and Louise and passed away leaving five children. Each child was placed in a foster home, but later in life continued to keep in touch.

Christian John [Ebner] was a stone mason and built some fine stone homes in Williamsport, including the one opposite Trinity Episcopal Church on West Fourth Street. Also helped to build the walls of present jail on Third Street. [The 1870 census records Rosa Ebner’s father’s occupation as “plasterer.”] Were staunch Lutherans! Mother [Rosa Ebner] was born in Williamsport, PA.

First foster home of Rosa L. Ebner was located next to Christ Episcopal Church on Fourth Street. At three years of age she went to live with Grandma Kraemer’s sister, called Auntie Biehler Little. The latter was married to Uncle Biehler November 24, 1835 in Germany and he died June 5, 1866. [Louisa Beihler Little was first married to Fred Beihler, born in Württemberg, a brewer; they show up in Williamsport in the 1860 census.] She married Mr. [Thomas G.] Little August 24, 1869 who died July 27, 1878. Auntie Little died October 28, 1880, when Mother was but ten years of age. [Rosa Ebner was listed in the 1880 census in Williamsport as “Rose L. Little,” the nine-year-old “daughter” of 65-year-old Louisa Little.] Were kind people and she loved them. Sent her to public school and also to learn German from the Catholic sisters. At ten she went to live with the Kraemer’s on Kraemer Place, along Mill Creek, R.D. Montoursville.

At twenty-two years of age [twenty, actually] she was married to Rollin Hazard Henry, formerly of Warrensville, Eldred Township, but who then lived in Williamsport at Louisa Street in a home which Grandpa [William F.] Henry had built several years before. They were married April 23, 1891 by Rev. J. R. Sample, a Lutheran Pastor in living room at Kraemer Place and Grandma Kraemer played the wedding march, Mother said. Aunt Lettie Henry Steiger [Rollin’s younger sister] made her wedding gown, lovely too. The couple first lived at corner of Center Street and Rural Avenue, double house corner side, where I, Pearl, was born September 29, 1892. Later moved to Prospect Avenue home in rear of Grandparents Henry, and after Father [Rollin] Henry died March 21, 1896 lived with them on Louisa Street for a few months. Later Mother rented a brick home on Park Avenue between Elmira and Center, and built a home on Louisa Street, corner of Maple St. where we moved when I was five years of age, 1897. Here she had roomers from the new hospital and also employees of the [Henry] Distin Mfg. Co., manfrs. of musical instruments, for lunches &c. On May 30, 1901 Mother married G. Franklin von Dreele. The latter had a son and three daughters, Alphonse, Edith, Almeda, and Beatrice. In 1904 Travilla von Dreele, my half-sister, was born.[34]  

newspaper item for Kraemer Place

We don’t know what the connection is with the Kraemer family, but the locale of the “Kraemer Place” was obviously in the Montoursville/ Loyalsock area (per a 1937 newspaper ad, LEFT).[35]  

Rosa’s first husband was Rollin Hazard Henry, born April 7, 1867, the son of William F. and Sarah M. Henry. Rollin died March 21, 1896, just a couple of weeks shy of his 29th birthday, in Williamsport, apparently from blood poisoning caused by a burst appendix. An account of Rollin’s life, written by a friend and published in the local newspaper, mentioned that Rollin Henry died leaving his wife and children with a pair of $1000 insurance policies.[36]  . Rosa may have built her Louisa Street home with that money.

At the time that Rollin died, Rosa was pregnant with their third child. Rollin and Rosa Henry’s children were Pearl Agnes, born September 29, 1892; Chapman Else, born August 18, 1895; and Dorothea Louise, born October 2, 1896. Rosa brought these children into her marriage with Frank Drill in May of 1901.

Frank Drill’s occupation in 1900 was “machinist;” in 1910, he was listed as a “pattern maker” for the “pump works.” Frank worked at Darling Valve in Williamsport after leaving life on the farm in Cogan House.[37]  

Here we leave off with the name variation “Drill” and return to “von Dreele” as this family’s surname. The family lore on this issue is that Frank’s daughters wanted to use the original form of their name.

Frank and Rosa von Dreele had one child (surname VON DREELE):

  1.   Travilla Clementine (1904 – 1997). Though Travilla had no children of her own, she’s an important part of this story. Look for her in the Third Generation section, following her sister Almeda Caroline von Dreele (#18).

The 1910 census shows a fairly crowded von Dreele household, with daughters Edith (23), Almeda (20), Beatrice and Pearl ( both 17) all working at jobs outside the house. Chapman (14) and Dorothy (13) doubtless went to school. While the older children were reaching maturity (son Alfonso got married around the same time Frank married Rosa), Frank and Rosa had their youngster, Travilla (age 5 in the 1910 census) to raise.

A 1911 newspaper item refers to Frank as a member of the fraternal organization Knights of Malta, Lodge No. 77.[38]  

Eventually Edith and Beatrice left home to work and marry. Almeda remained somewhat longer, studying to become a nurse at Williamsport Hospital before she, too, eventually married and left. And, of course, the Henry children grew up, married, and had their own homes. Travilla lived at home for a long time; she was middle-aged before she married.

This is as good a place as any to note that Frank von Dreele had a couple of physical attributes he passed down to subsequent generations – curly or wavy hair, and congenital snowflake cataracts. These cataracts have afflicted so many of Frank’s descendants (notably through his daughter Edith, who had them) that some refer to the cataracts as “the curse of the von Dreele clan.” Daughter Travilla suffered from the “von Dreele cataracts,” as did son Alfonso; and we suspect that their other siblings also may have inherited them.

Rosa (Ebner) (Henry) von Dreele died at age 54 on November 9, 1924. (Daughter Travilla had just celebrated her 20th birthday the month before.) Rosa was laid to rest in Wildwood Cemetery in Williamsport, Lycoming county, PA, in Lot 78, section D, East.

Anna B. Allen, born in 1872, became Frank’s fourth wife.[39]   Here’s what Frank’s granddaughter Almeda Schenot said, in a phone conversation, about Anna:

“Mrs. Allen was a widow with a couple of sons who lived across the street from Frank. Nobody liked her. Even before she married my grandfather, nobody liked her.” [So why did Frank marry her?] “I guess he wanted to be married.”

Apparently Frank was the kind of man who preferred being married to being single. Another relative told us that Frank’s daughter Edith did not approve of her father’s multiple remarriages.

Almeda Schenot went on to tell us that the house at 619 Louisa Street had three bedrooms. When Frank and Anna returned from their honeymoon,

“Anna took the biggest bedroom for herself, gave the middle bedroom to Frank, and Travilla got the bedroom in the back of the house.”

Mrs. Allen’s sons from her previous marriage don’t appear in the census record in Frank’s household. They were probably grown, with families of their own, by the time their mother married Frank.

Frank and Rosa von Dreele’s headstones

Frank was 79 years and ten months of age when he died at home on November 3, 1939. The cause of death was listed as a coronary thrombosis; Travilla von Dreele was the informant for the death record. Frank was buried three days later next to his third wife Rosa in Wildwood Cemetery, Lot 78, section D, East.[40]   The coordinates of Frank and Rosa’s gravesites are 41 15.282N, -77 01.868W.

Anna B. (Allen) von Dreele’s headstone

Anna died of cancer in 1949; she was buried in Wildwood Cemetery, in Lot 146 section C West. The coordinates for Anna’s gravesite are 41 14.976N, -77 02.231W. The gravestone right next to hers says, “Charles O. Allen, 1868-1921.” Almost certainly Charles was Anna’s first husband and the father of her sons. Other Allen family members are buried nearby.


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7. Bertha A. von Dreele was born in 1862 in Pottsville, Schuylkill county, PA, the eighth of ten children born to John Herman and Maria Caroline (Beckman) von Dreele. Bertha’s appearances in the census record tell us little about what she did in life besides go to school as a child and keep house as a married woman.

Despite the fact that, by June 1881, her family was residing in Cogan House, Bertha got married in Williamsport. On December 1, 1881, at the Presbyterian Church in the Newberry section of Williamsport, “Bertha Drill” wed Valentine Welker Oberfell, born in 1860, the son of Friederich Oberfell and his wife Rosanna Elizabeth Welker. The Rev. Alexander Henry performed the marriage ceremony.[41]  

Valentine and Bertha had two children (surname OBERFELL):

  1.   Charles Raymond (1884 – 1946)
  2.   Emily (circa 1888 – aft 1946).  Emily married Marsh Pearson Turner and lived in Harrisburg, PA. She was mentioned in her brother’s 1946 obituary as surviving him. We have no information regarding any children Emily and her husband may have had.

Valentine and Bertha Oberfell lived on Arch Street in the Newberry section of Williamsport, where Val, a butcher, owned and ran a meat market.

Bertha’s husband died on November 7, 1936. An item headlined “Illness is Fatal to Newberry Resident” appeared in the Monday, November 9, 1936, edition of Williamsport’s Gazette & Bulletin newspaper:

Valentine W. Oberfell, aged 77 of 750 Arch Street died at his home at 11:15 o’clock Saturday night after a two-weeks illness.

Mr. Oberfell was a lifelong resident of this city and his parents were pioneer residents. He had lived at his Arch Street home for the past 50 years and was a butcher by trade, a familiar figure on the local markets until his retirement some time ago.

Surviving are his wife, a daughter, Mrs. Marsh P. Turner, Harrisburg, and a son, Charles R. Oberfell, of Lynchburg, Va.

Funeral services will be held at the home at 2 o’clock tomorrow afternoon with Dr. C. Everest Granger, of the Lycoming Presbyterian Church, officiating. Interment will be made at Mound Cemetery.


Oberfell headstones

Valentine W. Oberfell (who was probably only 76 years old, not 77, when he died) was interred in Lot 1124 “Mound Cemetery,” in Wildwood Cemetery, Williamsport, the same plot he’d bought in 1889 when his mother-in-law Caroline von Dreele died, and where his father-in-law John von Dreele also was buried.

Bertha outlived not only her husband but also her son. Charles Raymond Oberfell, known as “Raymond,” died at age 61 in January 1946, leaving a wife, two children, his mother Bertha, and his sister Emily.

von Dreele and Oberfell headstones








Bertha (von Dreele) Oberfell lived to be about 90 years old. We have found no obituary for her in the Williamsport newspapers and suspect she may have lived out her final years somewhere else, perhaps with her daughter in Harrisburg. Bertha’s gravestone, lined up between her parents’ gravestones on the left and that of her husband on the right, is inscribed with a death year of 1952.


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8. Edith Estella von Dreele was born in September 1865 in Pottsville, Schuylkill county, PA, the ninth of ten children born to John Herman and Maria Caroline (Beckman) von Dreele. (We obtained Edith’s middle name from her son Rex’s World War I draft registration.) Around 1881, when Edith was about sixteen years old, she married George Spooner, born in March 1851, the son of James and Catherine “Kate” Spooner. The Spooners were neighbors of the von Dreele family on Green Mountain in Cogan House Township.

George and Edith (von Dreele) Spooner had eight children (surname SPOONER):

  1.   Elmira E. (1883 – 1971)
  2.   Bessie A., born July 1885; married Mr. Kelley in or after 1920.
  3.   Florence M., born February 1888; married Mr. Bell.
  4.   Theresa V., born January 26, 1890, died March 1970. Never married.
  5.   George Nathan (1893 – 1964)
  6.   William Chester (1896 – ?)
  7.   Augusta, born June 1898; married Mr. Merrill Edwards.
  8.   Rex Clifton (1900 – ?)

The April 18, 1900 edition of Williamsport’s Gazette & Bulletin newspaper reported that “George Spooner and family expect to move to Williamsport in a few weeks.” George and family were enumerated in Williamsport in the 1900 census; George’s occupation was noted as “day laborer.”

George Spooner was about fourteen years older than Edith; it is not surprising that she outlived him. By 1910 Edith had married again. Her new husband, Milton E. Alexander, a barber, was nearly as many years younger than Edith as George Spooner had been older. Milton was born April 5, 1878 in Cogan House, the son of George and Sarah Alexander, neighbors of the Spooner and von Dreele families on Green Mountain.

In the 1910 and 1920 censuses, the Spooner children were listed as Milton’s stepchildren; it seems that Milton and Edith did not have any children together. By 1930, Edith was again a widow, residing in Williamsport with her widowed daughter Bessie Kelley; twenty-two-year-old grandson Donald Kelley (more likely a step-grandson); daughter Theresa; and a female boarder.

Edith (von Dreele) (Spooner) Alexander was 87 years old when she died in Williamsport on November 26, 1952. Her obituary appeared in the November 28th edition of the Gazette & Bulletin:

Edith Spooner and Carrie Berkheiser with an elderly neighbor

Mrs. Edith Spooner Alexander, 87, widow of Milton Alexander, 527 Eighth Avenue, died at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, November 26, 1952, at the Crist Convalescent Home after a recent illness.

She was born in Pottsville, the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. John VonDreele. Mrs. Alexander was a member of the First Church of Christ.

Surviving are three sons, Nathan and Chester Spooner, both of this city; and Rex Spooner, Sunbury; and five daughters, Mrs. Elmira E. Burgess, Mrs. Bessie A. Kelley, Miss Theresa V. Spooner, Mrs. Merrill Edwards, all of this city; and Mrs. Florence M. Bell, Milton. Twenty-four grandchildren and 37 great-grandchildren also survive.

Services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at the funeral home, 711 West Fourth Street, with the Rev. Dr. L. G. Shannon, pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church, officiating. Burial will be in Wildwood Cemetery.

Friends may call at the funeral home from 7 to 9 o’clock this evening.

LEFT: Edith Spooner, wearing a bow, and her sister Carrie Berkheiser, in a dark puffy-sleeved dress, stand on either side of an elderly neighbor, Mary Ann Meyer. This picture was excerpted from a photo of the Ladies Aid Society of Cogan Methodist (Centennial) Church, circa 1897, page 245 of The Early History of Cogan House Township, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, Book 1.


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9. Caroline Augusta von Dreele, known as “Carrie,” was born September 30, 1867, in Pottsville, Schuylkill county, PA, the tenth of ten children born to John Herman and Maria Caroline (Beckman) von Dreele. Around 1887, when Carrie was nineteen years old, she married Jacob Berkheiser, born August 20, 1863, the son of Daniel and Lydia (Derr) Berkheiser.[42]  

The name Berkheiser may have been “von Berkheiser” at one time. According to The Early History of Cogan House Township:

“We have learned that two early settlers did have distinctly Prussian surnames although these were modified in regular usage: Frank Drill (von Dreele) of Green Mountain, and Jacob Berkheiser (von Berkheiser) of Cogan House.”[43]  

Carrie appears to have been the only von Dreele, other than her brother “Hen,” who remained in the Cogan House area. The 1900, 1910, and 1920 censuses all list the Berkheiser family as residents of Cogan House. Jacob was a farmer but also worked at building roads in the township. The 1930 census shows the Berkheisers living in Trout Run village in Lewis Township, just east of Cogan House Township.

Jacob and Carrie (von Dreele) Berkheiser had five children, four of whom survived to adulthood (surname BERKHEISER):

  1.   Luther Jacob (1887 – 1950)
  2.   Mildred (1894 – 1981)
  3.   Lester, born March 9, 1896, died January 1975.
  4.   Clara, born circa 1901, died February 9, 1995 in Nueces county, Texas. Clara married, as a second wife, her first cousin once removed, John Herman Bosbyshell, son of James Rex Bosbyshell and the grandson of Charles A. and Elmira (von Dreele) Bosbyshell.

Jacob and Carrie’s fifth child, the one that didn’t survive, seems to have been born last. The 1900 census (before daughter Clara’s birth) indicates that Carrie was the mother of three children, all of whom were alive. The 1910 census tells us that Carrie had borne five children, four of whom were then living.

We know of at least two occasions when the Berkheisers took in children not their own. The first was documented by the 1910 census, which lists three-year-old Otis Pray as a lodger in the Berkheiser household. Otis’s mother, Carrie (Alexander) Pray, had been abandoned by Otis’s father, Harry. Presumably Carrie and Jacob were helping out by caring for Otis while his mother worked to earn a living.[44]  

The second occasion was around the summer of 1927, when Carrie’s niece Edith (von Dreele) Laudenslayer – Frank von Dreele’s daughter – came home. Widowed in 1922 while pregnant, Edith had maintained her family in their Detroit home until her youngest child was about four-and-a-half. When Edith and family arrived in the Williamsport area, the older children were farmed out to various relatives for a while. Edith’s daughter Almeda “spent a summer with Aunt Carrie Berkheiser in Trout Run” when she was about eight years old. In 2002, when Almeda provided information for this history, she remembered her time with Aunt Carrie’s family as a happy one. She also recalled that the Berkheisers had a cat named Moses.

Jacob Berkheiser died at age 69 on June 1, 1933, from complications related to a heart condition:

Jacob Berkheiser, 69, of Trout Run died at 1:45 o'clock this morning at the Williamsport Hospital. He is survived by his wife, two daughters, Mrs. Frank Faubion of Milton; and Miss Clarabelle Berkheiser at home; and by two sons, Luther of Cogan House; and Lester of Trout Run; also by a brother, Daniel of Mt. Carmel; and a sister, Mrs. Sarah Deeter of Locust Gap. Funeral services will be held at the Bastian-Maneval funeral home this city on Saturday afternoon at 2 o'clock with Rev C Alfred Underwood, pastor of the Lycoming Presbyterian church, officiating. Interment will be made at Trout Run.[45]  

Carrie (von Dreele) Berkheiser died at home about ten months later, on April 6, 1934. She was 66 years old.

Trout Run Resident is fatally stricken while at work at home -- Trout Run, April 6 --
Mrs. Caroline A Berkheiser, age 66 years, widow of Jacob Berkheiser, of Trout Run, died suddenly of a heart attack, at her home this morning at 7:45. She had prepared breakfast and was working about her home when she was stricken. She died while seated in a chair. Mr. Berkheiser died last June. She was a member of the Trout Run Presbyterian Church. She is survived by the following sons and daughters: Luther of Cogan House; Lester and Miss Clara Berkheiser both at home; Mrs. Frank Faubion of Milton. A brother, Frank Von Dreele of Williamsport and four sisters, Mrs. Valentine Oberfell, and Mrs. Edith Spooner [sic] of Williamsport, Mrs. Charles Bosbyshell of Philadelphia, and Mrs. William Mackey of Ligonier, also survive along with three grandchildren. Funeral services will be held at her home at 2:30 Sunday afternoon, in charge of Rev C A Underwood of the Lycoming Presbyterian Church of Newberry and Interment will be made in the Trout Run Cemetery.[46]  


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Third Generation


10. James Rex Bosbyshell (Elmira2, John1) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on January 22, 1876, the younger of the two sons of Charles A. and Elmira (von Dreele) Bosbyshell. In 1907 in Philadelphia, James married Dorothy B. Wilkinson, the daughter and eldest child of Alfred J. and Mary (Hart) Wilkinson, also of Philadelphia.[47]  

They had a son (surname BOSBYSHELL):

  1.   John Herman (1910 – 1972)
  2. John Herman Bosbyshell (James3, Elmira2, John1) was born October 4, 1910, most likely in Philadelphia. He was married twice, first to Leora Chapman, born June 16, 1909 in Missouri, the daughter of Charles A. Chapman and his wife Alpha Lee Tharp.[48]   John and Leora were both residents of Corpus Christi, Texas, at the time of their deaths. Leora C. Bosbyshell died May 19, 1968 and was buried on May 22nd of that year in Section W Site 2470, Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, Texas.

    On June 10, 1969, John H. Bosbyshell married for the second time to Clara Berkheiser (Carrie2, John1), his first cousin once removed.

    John was a career US Army man; his service spanned the years between Feb. 1, 1941 and Dec. 31, 1962. He fought in WWII and achieved the rank of colonel. Col. John H. Bosbyshell died March 7, 1972 in Nueces county, Texas. He was buried three days later in Section W Site 2470, Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, 1520 Harry Wurzbach Rd., San Antonio, TX 78209.


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11. John Herman Schwoerer (Matilda2, John1) was born January 7, 1873, per his World War I draft registration. He was the only child of Charles and Matilda (von Dreele) Schwoerer. The 1880 census listed Charles’ and Matilda’s son as “John H.,” but both the 1900 and 1910 censuses list him as “Herman.” So it would appear that John Herman Schwoerer went by his middle name, and we’ll honor that here.

Herman worked as a conductor for the “steam railroad,” per census records and his World War I draft registration.

On May 6, 1897, Herman Schwoerer married Norma Gertrude “Gertie” Quigley, born August 28, 1875, the daughter and only child of James Lindsey Quigley and his wife Rosetta S. (Ramsey) Quigley. The 1900 census shows Herman and Gertie living in Williamsport’s 7th ward with her parents. Gertie died May 20, 1901, less than a year after the census taker came calling. She was buried in Wildwood Cemetery in Williamsport, her tombstone engraved with the poignant phrase, “How Many Hopes Are Buried Here.”[49a]  

Family lore has it that Herman was married three times, one of his marriages ending in divorce and another ending when his wife died (possibly in childbirth). Obviously Gertie is the spouse lost to death; it is unknown whether she was Herman’s first or second wife. It is known, however, that Herman married again, to Carrie Ethel Reppard. Carrie was born February 4, 1887 in Pennsylvania, the eldest of three daughters born to Marcus L. and Ella (Campbell) Reppard. Herman and Carrie had three children of their own (surname SCHWOERER):

  1.   Jane, born June 27, 1914, died May 19, 1997 in Williamsport; married Charles William Tupper.
  2.   Barbara, born September 23, 1915, died October 18, 2009 in Williamsport; married Robyn H. Fink.
  3.   Living.

Herman Schwoerer died on January 10, 1920, at the age of 46. His youngest child recalls being sent to wake him up, but Herman was unresponsive. Herman’s sudden death was attributed to a blood clot. Ironically, the census taker came calling just three days later, with instructions to list the “Name of each person whose place of abode on January 1, 1920, was in this family.” This is why J. Herman Schwoerer appears in the 1920 federal census as the head of household residing at 822 Funston Avenue in Williamsport.

John Herman Schwoerer was buried with his parents Charles and Matilda in Lot 362 MW, Wildwood Cemetery, Williamsport.

In the 1930 census, in Williamsport, Herman’s wife Carrie is listed as a widow and the head of household, her three children all living at home with her. Fortunately, Carrie Schwoerer was a resourceful woman who was able to support her family after Herman died. She was well educated for a woman of her times. (And she made her own soap!)

Prior to her marriage Carrie attended “normal school” in Williamsport for two years, earning the certification that allowed her to work as a school teacher. Carrie taught in a one-room country schoolhouse on Reach Road in the Newberry section of Williamsport. After Herman’s untimely death, Carrie was recruited by J. Fred McMurray, the first principal of Williamsport’s Roosevelt Jr. High School (now Middle School), to teach English and Latin to 9th graders.

Toward this end, Carrie spent six summer weeks studying Latin at Columbia University in New York City. Her children were farmed out to various relatives while she was away. Jane stayed in Williamsport with paternal grandmother Matilda (von Dreele) Schwoerer. Barbara stayed on the country farm of Aunt Annie, Aunt Lizzie, and Uncle Charlie Patton (family from Carrie’s side). The youngest child stayed at the home of Uncle Howard (known as “Pick”) and Aunt Anna (Reppard) Brobst (Carrie’s sister).

After Carrie’s studies in NYC, the family moved to 2205 Baker Street. Later, Principal McMurray helped Carrie find another place to live, this time on Fairview Terrace. Mr. McMurray’s outreach to Carrie Schwoerer was unusual for the times, when women typically were ousted from the teaching profession once they married. Perhaps Carrie’s situation as a widow allowed her to sidestep this custom; certainly Mr. McMurray went above and beyond his desk job to help others.

Carrie (Reppard) Schwoerer died at age 74 on March 17, 1961.[49b]   She was buried with her husband Herman and her parents-in-law in Lot 362 MW, Wildwood Cemetery, Williamsport.


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12. Bertha Adella Mackey (Emma2, John1) was born on the 21st of June, 1880, in Williamsport, Lycoming county, PA, the eldest of William and Emma (von Dreele) Mackey’s four children.

Bertha married Edward Dominick Rathmell, born July 26, 1879, in Montoursville, PA, the son of John Marshall Rathmell and his wife Josephine Shreiber.[50]   The 1900 census shows Bertha and Edward living in Loyalsock Township and lists their number of years married as “0” (they obviously had married recently). Living with them was Carolyn Mackey, Bertha’s sister. By 1920 the Rathmells were living in Ligonier, near Bertha’s parents. Edward worked for the Ligonier Valley Rail Road.

Bertha and Edward had three children (surname RATHMELL):

  1.   Martha, born July 20, 1902, died January 12, 1975; married Dr. Donald H. Skekel (1898 – 1961). No children.
  2.   John Wesley, born February 15, 1910, died April 11, 1982.
  3.   Edward Dominick, Jr., born June 5, 1921, died Oct. 19, 1963.[51]

Edward D. Rathmell, Sr., died March 12, 1931. Bertha survived her husband by more than thirty-three years; she died in October 1964.


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an undated photo of “J. Barkley”

13. Carolyn V. Mackey (Emma2, John1) was born October 7, 1885, probably in Williamsport, Lycoming county, PA. Around 1908, she married Dr. John Wesley Barkley, a physician, born February 10, 1868, probably in Donegal, Westmoreland county, PA. He was the son of carpenter Joseph W. Barkley and his wife Mariah (Beistal) Barkley.[52]  

RIGHT: An undated photo of “J. Barkley” (probably John, Sr., holding one of his children).

Carolyn and John had four children (surname BARKLEY):

  1.   Jean Frances, born circa 1912.
  2.   John Wesley, Jr., born circa 1915.
  3.   Robert E. (1917 – 1986 )
  4.   William J., born circa 1926.

This family lived in Ligonier, Westmoreland county, where John, Sr., practiced medicine, having established his private practice as early as 1905.

John W. Barkley, Sr., died in 1940, per his gravestone. Carolyn died December 25, 1958. They are both buried in Section E, Lot 172 of Ligonier Valley Cemetery in Ligonier, Westmoreland county, PA.[53]  


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14. Edith A. Mackey (Emma2, John1) was born in April 1892, probably in Williamsport, Lycoming county, PA. She was the author of the family history mentioned in the very beginning of this saga.

In 1917 Edith first married Dr. Leyden F. Wilson, a physician. They had a son, Leyden F., Jr., who appears in the 1920 census as a child aged one year, seven months. Mackey family notes indicate that this child “died of the croup at an early age.” Edith and Leyden ended up divorcing. In 1930, Edith was living with her sister and brother-in-law, Carolyn and John Barkley. (By 1930, Leyden Wilson was remarried and living in New Kensington, Westmoreland county, PA. Family notes say that he died in 1936.)

Edith married a second time, in 1937, to Orion H. Brown, a schoolteacher. Mackey family notes tell us that “although having no children of their own, [Edith and Orion] adopted a daughter in 1948, named Alice. O[rion] H. Brown died in 1959, followed by their adopted daughter in [no date given] and later by Edith in ... 1975.” More notes indicate that Alice Brown married William Mackey, the son of Edith’s younger brother Robert J. C. Mackey. “After trying many times to produce children and losing several sets of twins, Alice died in [no date given] childless.”

Edith is buried (perhaps with her second husband, Orion) in Section J, Lot 99 of Ligonier Valley Cemetery in Ligonier, Westmoreland county, PA.


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Robert James Cassel Mackey

15. Robert James Cassel Mackey (Emma2, John1) was born in Williamsport, Lycoming county, PA, on June 19, 1894, the youngest child and only son of William and Emma (von Dreele) Mackey. The 1930 census tells us that Robert worked as an “industrial designer.”

Robert first married Lenore M. Howard sometime after June 5, 1918, at which time he indicated that he was single on his World War I draft registration. Robert and Lenore had five children (surname MACKEY):

  1.   Robert James, Jr., born circa 1920.
  2.   Patricia Lenore, born circa 1922.
  3.   David Allen, born circa 1927.
  4.   William, born circa 1929.
  5.   Joyce Diane, born after 1930.

Following Lenore’s death, Robert married again, this time to Ruth Charlotte (Pegg) Cupp, a divorced woman with a son, Frank Wesley Cupp, from her first marriage. (Ruth once told one of her daughters that Mr. Cupp had divorced her because she threw a knife at him.) Ruth was born September 12, 1914, the daughter of Charles J. and Anna R. (Wise) Pegg.

Robert and Ruth had four children (surname MACKEY):

  1.   Colin Brian (1942 – 1964)
  2.   Sandra Leigh (1946 – 1998)
  3.   Mary Ruth (1949 – 2011)
  4.   Living Mackey

Robert Mackey suffered from arteriosclerosis, which eventually led to his death. Robert died at home, 331 Margaret Street in Jeannette, Westmoreland county, PA, on August 2, 1960 of coronary arrest. He was buried in Westmoreland Memorial Park with his first wife Lenore.

In 1965 Ruth (Pegg) (Cupp) Mackey married a third time, to a man named Walter Compton. Ruth died May 14, 1974, of complications from thyroid cancer. She is buried in Westmoreland Memorial Park with her second husband Robert Mackey, their son Colin, and a grandson who died in infancy.


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Alfonso Chandler von Dreele

16. Alfonso Chandler von Dreele (Frank2, John1) was born on April 15, 1882, in Cogan House Township, Lycoming county, PA. He was the eldest child and only son of George Franklin “Frank” von Dreele and his first wife Nellie J. Chandler. Alfonso, known as “Al,” also was the only male of this generation to bear the von Dreele surname.

Al worked as a machinist or toolmaker, apparently having inherited his father’s inclination toward this type of work. His World War I draft registration tells us that he was of medium weight and build, with brown eyes and dark brown hair.[54]   Family lore tells us Al had poor eyesight; he too suffered from the early-onset “snowflake” cataracts afflicting so many in the von Dreele family.

Three generations of von Dreele men

RIGHT: Dated August 1916, this photo shows three generations of von Dreele males. The tallest man, on the left, is Frank von Dreele. Standing next to Frank is son Alfonso. The boy is probably Al’s son Carl Wilcox von Dreele, who would have been eleven years old at the time.

Around 1901, Al married Minnie D. Wilcox. Minnie was born January 12, 1880, probably in Loyalsock, Lycoming county, PA, the eldest child of Robert Bruce Wilcox and his wife Mary F. (maiden name unknown).

Al and Minnie had four children (surname VON DREELE):

  1.   Nellie F., born circa 1902.
  2.   Bruce F., born circa 1903.
  3.   Carl Wilcox (1905 – 1988)
  4.   Grace E., born circa 1907.

The census and other records tell us that this family moved around a bit. In 1910, Al, Minnie, and their four children lived at 4118 Orchard St. in Philadelphia. By autumn 1912, they may have been living in New York: An item in the October 28, 1912 edition of the Gazette & Bulletin (Williamsport, PA) newspaper mentions that “Miss Margaret Wilcox is visiting her sister, Mrs. A. C. VonDreele, in Brooklyn, N. Y.”[55]  

Al’s World War I draft registration, completed on September 12, 1918, gave his residence as 58 Clifford Street, East Orange, Essex county, New Jersey. By the time of the 1920 census, the family was still living in East Orange, but now at 176 S. Arlington Avenue.

The 1930 census has three different listings for this family.

Minnie and three of her children (all but Bruce) were enumerated at 637 Central Avenue in East Orange, NJ. We doubt that Minnie provided the information to the census taker, because her mother’s birthplace is listed as Pennsylvania instead of Maryland. Minnie herself shows up in the 1930 census living in a hotel in Westfield, Massachusetts. Her data say she was born in Pennsylvania, that she was “married,” “retired,” twenty-one years old at the time of her first marriage – and her mother was born in Maryland.

Al was enumerated in 1930 in West Haven, Connecticut, as a roomer in the household of 69-year-old Ella M. Graham. He worked as a die caster at a brass foundry and was listed in this census as “single.” It appears to us that Al left Minnie. We know about this couple’s marital problems because Al’s sister Edith was terribly concerned about him. He told her “not to worry.” This story was handed down by Edith’s daughter Almeda Schenot.[56]  

Al was remarried by 1932 when he and wife Mabel L. (maiden name unknown) were listed in a West Haven, CT, directory. Mabel, born December 3, 1886, probably did not have children with Alfonso; by the time they married, she would have been well over forty years of age.

Minnie von Dreele died in September 1968. The Social Security Death Index tells us that her last residence was in Caldwell, Essex county, New Jersey. Alfonso Chandler von Dreele died on November 26, 1971 in Shelton, Connecticut. Mabel von Dreele died on April 13, 1974 in Derby, Connecticut, right across the Housatonic River from Shelton.

Alfonso von Dreele’s descendants have preserved the family name with the V capitalized: Von Dreele.


Edith Louise von Dreele

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16. Edith Louise von Dreele (Frank2, John1) was born in Cogan House Township, Lycoming county, PA, on August 21, 1886. She was the second child and eldest daughter of George Franklin von Dreele and his first wife, Nell J. Chandler. Edith was not yet eight years old when her mother died.

Prior to 1900, Edith moved with her family to the city of Williamsport, PA, where her father had lived before his marriage to Nellie. Family photos of Edith’s maternal uncles – Wesley, Lew, and George Chandler – attest to the efforts of these men to stay connected with their sister Nellie’s children. Uncle Wesley, an itinerant Methodist Episcopal preacher, would come to visit Edith’s family in Williamsport. Edith’s father’s remarriage to Rosa Henry, a staunch Lutheran, occasioned the family’s attendance at the local Lutheran church. When Uncle Wesley went to Sunday services with them, he’d call out “Hallelujah!” at odd moments (which was not done in the Lutheran tradition), causing the von Dreele girls to slump down in their seats in total embarrassment.

The 1910 census shows 23-year-old Edith living at home with her father and stepmother, and working as a seamstress at a “pants factory.”
1911 seems to have been a watershed year for Edith. A sleighing party in January may have been the occasion on which she met the man she’d eventually marry, Dean Laudenslayer:

“The home of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Mutchler at Balls Mills was the destination of a sleighing party composed of the following persons: Misses Lena Ball, Florence Crone, Harriet Roos, Lulu Rubright, Florence Crist, Jane Waltz, Pearl Henry (Edith’s stepsister), Edith Von Drelle, Almeda von Drelle (Edith’s younger sister), Edna Smith, Clara Danler, Winifred Atkinson, Cora Roos, Myrtle Hyde, Hess Bubb, Howard Engleman, George Villinger, Erling Hopkins, Bill Burr, Hughes Trapp, Bena Schaffer, Dean Laudenslayer, John Legit, Ralph Gray, Howard Fry, Edward Hyde, Walter Burkhart, Max Waltz, and Earl Bower, Mr. and Mrs. Mutchler, Mrs. Roos, Mrs. Hyde, Mrs. Burkhart, and Miss Helen Crist.”[57]  

Dean Laudenslayer, 1911

Edith probably found sewing pants for a living not very fulfilling; she also may have wanted to follow in the footsteps of her mother, a nurse. In 1911 Edith went to New York for hospital training as a “baby nurse.” Edith’s daughter Almeda told us that baby nurses were not RN’s but simply women schooled in the special care of infants. While Edith was in New York, Dean Laudenslayer sent her a formal portrait photo of himself. On the back of this photo is written, “Taken summer of 1911. Sent to me while in B.H. N.Y. City. Age – 26 years.” (We’d guess that the H in “B. H.” probably stands for “hospital.”) Following her training, Edith worked for a wealthy Pittsburgh family, caring for their babies.

LEFT: The photo of himself that Dean Laudenslayer sent to Edith in 1911.

Laudenslayer-von Dreele wedding announcement, 1915

On August 7, 1915, in Buffalo, New York, Edith married Malvern Dean Laudenslayer, born June 21, 1885 in Cedar Springs, Clinton county, PA, the son of Jacob William Laudenslayer and his wife Mary Catherine McManigal. Dean used his middle name and typically represented himself as “Dean M.,” even on his World War I draft registration. We are told that Dean was a Presbyterian and belonged to the Odd Fellows.

Following their marriage, Dean and Edith moved to Detroit, Michigan. Family lore has it that Dean’s nephew John L. Quigle, who worked in the automobile industry in Detroit, invited Dean to come up to Detroit to find work among the numerous good jobs available there.[58]   The McCord Manufacturing Company, which made automobile parts in Detroit, employed Dean for many years as a bookkeeper.

John Quigle lived with Dean and Edith for a time: John’s World War I draft registration (June 1917) lists 614 Lycaste Avenue in Detroit (the Laudenslayer residence) as his home address. Dean and Edith owned this home (described as a “bungalow” by their daughter Almeda) on Lycaste Ave.[59]   By 1920, John resided elsewhere. The census that year shows Edith’s sister Beatrice living with the Laudenslayer family in Detroit. Around 1925 John and Beatrice married, creating another link between the Laudenslayer and von Dreele families.

Almeda, Jake, and Frank Laudenslayer

Edith and Dean had five children (surname LAUDENSLAYER):

  1.   Faith, a daughter who died at birth, circa 1916.
  2.   William Franklin (“Frank”) (1917 – 2002)
  3.   Almeda Elizabeth (1919 – 2008)
  4.   Malvern Dean, Jr. (“Jake”) (1920 – 2006)
  5.   Mary Martha (1923 – 2013)

RIGHT: Almeda, Jake, and Frank Laudenslayer in September 1920.

All the children were born in Detroit; Almeda was the only one born in a hospital. Family lore tells us that baby Almeda was brought to her mother with “cold feet.”[60]   Being a baby nurse, Edith Laudenslayer viewed this situation to be the result of inferior care. She gave birth to the rest of her children at home.

Apparently Dean had been “sickly” most of his life, and he suffered from Bright’s disease, a chronic kidney condition. In June 1922 Dean went into Deaconess Hospital in Detroit with a suspected ruptured appendix. Surgery on June 19th revealed that he had tuberculosis. Dean had his 37th birthday two days after surgery, then died eight days later, on June 29th, without ever leaving the hospital. The primary cause of death was tubercular peritonitis, with chronic nephritis listed as a contributory cause of death.

Edith bought a pair of foot-to-foot graves (#’s 2 and 7) in Section 5, Lot 64 in Forest Lawn Cemetery, 11851 Van Dyke Street, in Detroit.[61]   Dean was buried in grave #2 on July 1, 1922. His gravesite is marked with a flush-to-the-ground stone, with the simple inscription “D M Laudenslayer / 1885 – 1922.” (Edith had her husband’s initials inscribed on his stone in the order he used them.) Coordinates for Dean’s gravesite are 42 24.560N, -83 01.662W.

Edith (von Dreele) Laudenslayer was a widow with three small children – and another one on the way. Daughter Mary was born five months after Dean died.

Edith got a “state pension” after her husband’s death. To supplement her income, she provided rooms and meals to boarders for a number of years. One of daughter Almeda’s memories of living in Detroit is that she and her brothers walked to school. They were accompanied by a twelve-year-old girl paid by Edith to escort the children; Edith had to be at home taking care of baby Mary.

the four Laudenslayer children

Around 1927, when Mary was five years old (also the year that Almeda was in the third grade), Edith moved the family back to Pennsylvania. Edith went to Williamsport to live with her father, Frank von Dreele, for a while, keeping young Mary with her. The three older children were farmed out to relatives: Almeda spent a summer with Edith’s aunt Carrie Berkheiser, while her brother Frank stayed in Howard, PA, with Clara (McManigal) Reber, Dean Laudenslayer’s maternal aunt.

LEFT: The Laudenslayer children (left to right, Jake, Almeda, Frank, and Mary) were photographed together in Williamsport, circa 1927.

Ultimately, all four children were brought to live at the Odd Fellows Orphans Home in Sunbury, PA, where they spent their “growing-up” and school years, up to age 18. Edith visited her children on the weekends.[62]   The 1930 census shows the four Laudenslayer children living at the orphanage, and Edith living in Sunbury with the family of her cousin Rex Spooner.

Eventually Edith moved to Hummel’s Wharf, across the Susquehanna River from Sunbury. Right across the street from Edith’s home was Rolling Green Park, an amusement park.[63]   And Edith went back to work: She found a night job in a small hospital in Sunbury, caring for children and for women in the maternity ward. Edith never remarried.

Edith and her children, circa 1930



RIGHT: Edith Laudenslayer with her children, photographed in Sunbury, PA, circa 1930. (Left to right: Almeda, Jake, Edith, Frank, and Mary.)

Son Frank studied at Susquehanna College and graduated with a degree in accounting, thanks to a partial scholarship and help from Edith. When daughter Almeda graduated from high school, Edith cashed in a life insurance policy and used the money to send Almeda to nursing school, continuing a family tradition into a third generation.

When Edith grew too old to live alone, son Frank and his wife Isabel brought Edith from Hummel’s Wharf to Boyertown, PA, where they lived. Edith occupied her own little cottage on the grounds of Frank’s property. Isabel Laudenslayer has fondly remembered her mother-in-law as being a “feisty” lady. Edith’s grandson recalls that she was a “great storyteller.” Edith told him how she, as a child of about four, was chased by a large goose. She became terrified of the goose as it was large, aggressive and nipped at her. (Perhaps the bad-tempered goose was part of Uncle Hen’s menagerie.) The story about Edith’s Uncle Hen and “the unfortunate bear” recounted in The Early History of Cogan House Township was also part of the family lore that Edith passed down.[64]  

the house at Hummel’s Wharf

At the end of her life, Edith suffered from dementia (probably Alzheimer’s disease) and arteriosclerosis. As mentioned earlier, Edith also suffered from the early-onset snowflake cataracts that afflicted her father and siblings. She passed this condition down to all of her children, most of her grandchildren, and a couple of great-grandchildren.

When no longer able to live alone in the cottage, Edith spent her last days living in her son Frank’s household before finally moving to Colebrook Manor Home, a small nursing home in Boyertown. Edith died of a heart attack at age 78 on April 21, 1965, at the nursing home.

Edith Laudenslayer, 3 views

LEFT: A photo of Edith’s house in Hummel’s Wharf, PA.

RIGHT: Three views of Edith Laudenslayer holding two of her baby grandchildren, and a basket of kittens.

Though her daughter Almeda recalled that Edith “practiced no particular religion,” the pastor of Grace Methodist Church in Williamsport, Rev. Glenn Barner, officiated at Edith’s funeral, which was held at the funeral home. Edith Louise (von Dreele) Laudenslayer was buried on the 26th of April 1965 in Wildwood Cemetery, Williamsport, PA, in Lot 1583, section C, West, the “Chandler lot.” This lot was purchased by Levi Wesley Chandler – Edith’s Uncle Wesley – in the late 1800’s, probably when Wesley’s father, Rev. Abram S. Chandler, died. Both of Edith’s Chandler grandparents are buried there. The coordinates for Edith’s tombstone, inscribed “Edith L. Laudenslayer, 1886 – 1965,” are 41 15.056N, -77 02.369W.



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commencement announcement

18. Almeda Caroline von Dreele (Frank2, John1) was born July 20, 1889 in Cogan House Township, Lycoming county, Pennsylvania. She was the third child of George Franklin von Dreele and his first wife, Nell J. Chandler. Almeda was not yet five years old when her mother died in 1894. Before 1900 she moved with her family before 1900 to Williamsport, PA, where her father had lived before his marriage to Nellie.

The 1910 census shows 20-year-old Almeda living at home with her father and stepmother, and working as a “helper.” (We wish we could tell you for whom Almeda worked, but the census taker’s handwriting seems to say “Bruid Works,” which can’t be right. Brick works, maybe?)

1910 census excerpt

LEFT: This excerpt from the 1910 census shows the occupations of (top to bottom) Edith von Dreele (age 23), Almeda von Dreele (age 20), Beatrice von Dreele (age 17), and their stepsister Pearl Henry (age 17).

Like her mother and older sister, Almeda ultimately chose to pursue nursing as a career. She was one of twelve young women who received their diplomas from Williamsport Hospital’s nursing school on Monday, May 18, 1914.[65]   The 1920 census records Almeda von Dreele twice, once as a resident of Williamsport Hospital and again in the household of her father and stepmother (occupation: “private family nurse”). Family lore tells us that Almeda worked her way up to the position of Head Nurse.

Around 1929, Almeda married John M. Trego, born February 1883, probably in Milton, Northumberland county, PA. John’s father was William O. Trego; his mother likely was Emma E. (Wilson?) Trego, his father’s first wife. The 1930 census shows Almeda and John Trego living in Milton, John’s hometown, about twenty-three miles southeast of Williamsport. John worked as a salesman for a retail shoe store, per census records. At the time of his death, John worked as the manager of Marsh’s store in Milton.

John and Almeda had one child (surname TREGO):

  1.   Living

John Trego died suddenly at age 68 on April 15, 1951, while on a fishing trip.[66]   Almeda outlived her husband by more than thirty-six years; she died in December 1987 at the age of 98. The Social Security Death Index notes that Almeda Trego’s last residence was in Trenton, Mercer county, New Jersey.

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Travilla von Dreele


Travilla Clementine von Dreele (Frank2, John1) was born October 10, 1904 in Williamsport, PA. Travilla was the only child of Frank von Dreele and his third wife Rosa L. (Ebner) Henry; but she had seven half siblings, the children of her parents’ first marriages.

Travilla inherited the “family cataracts” afflicting so many of the von Dreeles.

In 1924, a month after Travilla celebrated her 20th birthday, her mother died. Travilla continued to live at home, even as her father’s fourth wife, Anna, relegated Travilla to the smallest of the bedrooms in the back of their house.

The 1930 census shows Travilla, age 25, still living at home with her father and stepmother. She worked as a stenographer for an “electric shop.” In 1936, Travilla sailed to Bermuda on a cruise ship, the Monarch of Bermuda. Her address, listed on the ship’s manifest, was still 619 Louisa Street, her father’s house. Travilla probably did not travel alone; at least one other woman on board was also from Williamsport.[67]  

When her father Frank von Dreele died late in 1939, Travilla was the informant for his death record. Family lore tells us that Travilla was “shocked” to discover her father’s divorce papers (from his second wife, Sarah Ulmer) in their attic sometime after his death. Travilla’s mother, Rosa, was a “good Lutheran” – and good Lutherans didn’t marry divorced persons in those days.

Travilla celebrated her 46th birthday three days after she got married. The Gazette & Bulletin announced the wedding of “Miss Von Dreele” and John F. Stuempfle:

photo of Stuempfle family

Announcement has been made of the marriage of Miss Travilla Von Dreele, 29½ Washington Boulevard, to John F. Stuempfle, 615 Market Street. The wedding took place at 6 p.m. Saturday Oct. 7 in the Trinity Lutheran Church, Hughesville. The single ring ceremony was performed by the Rev. Herman G. Stuempfle, cousin of the bridegroom. After a wedding trip to Washington and Philadelphia the couple will reside at 615 Market Street. The bride is employed at the First National Bank and Mr. Stuempfle is employed at Lowry Electric Company.[68]  

John Stuempfle was a widower. His first wife, Mildred Alice (Deitrick) Stuempfle, had died at the age of 44 on December 27, 1948.[69]   John and Travilla did not have any children together; but Travilla helped raise John’s three children from his first marriage. John’s daughter has spoken of Travilla with such warmth, it’s obvious she loved her stepmother.

family notes

We have Travilla to thank for “keeping an eye” on the family gravesites in Wildwood Cemetery, Williamsport.[70]   No doubt it was she who provided the information about John and Caroline (Beckman) von Dreele (see handwritten notes, LEFT). Only someone familiar with the inscriptions on these stones would have known the year of John’s death, and that Caroline’s first name was Maria. Notes transcribed from a letter dated March 6, 1976, in fact specify that this information came from “tombstones in cemetary (sic).” Without it, we’d still be searching for John’s and Caroline’s burial sites. ABOVE RIGHT: An undated photo of John and Travilla Stuempfle with the children.

John F. Stuempfle died February 13, 1987 at age 79. He was buried in Wildwood Cemetery, Williamsport, in the Stuempfle lot where his first wife Mildred was interred nearly forty years earlier.

Travilla died in Williamsport on January 25, 1997 at the age of 92. She was buried in Wildwood Cemetery, Lot 78, section D, East, the lot where her parents, Frank and Rosa von Dreele, are buried. (The coordinates of Frank’s and Rosa’s gravesites are 41 15.282N, -77 01.868W.) Nearby in the same lot are the graves of her half-sister Dorothea L. (Henry) Straub (1896-1977) and Dorothea’s husband Roscoe E. Straub (1898-1967).

Travilla’s stepdaughter and her husband are the ones now keeping an eye on the family gravestones. On Memorial Day they place flowers for numerous family members, including John and Mildred Stuempfle, Travilla (von Dreele) Stuempfle, and Edith (von Dreele) Laudenslayer.

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19. Charles Raymond Oberfell (Bertha2, John1) was born February 4, 1884, in Williamsport, Lycoming county, Pennsylvania, the eldest child and only son of Valentine W. and Bertha A. (von Dreele) Oberfell. It appears he generally went by his middle name, so we’ll refer to him here as “Raymond.”

Around 1909, Raymond married Florence B. (maiden name unknown), also a native of Pennsylvania. In 1910 this couple was enumerated in Harrisonburg, Rockingham county, Virginia; Raymond worked in the leather industry as a chemist. By September 12, 1918, the day Raymond registered for the draft, they were living in Lynchburg, Campbell county, Virginia, roughly 100 miles south of Harrisonburg. Raymond and his family were enumerated in Lynchburg in the 1920 and 1930 censuses.

Raymond and Florence had two children (surname OBERFELL):

  1.   Gilbert Flemming, born May 5, 1910, died Sept. 16, 1977.
  2.   Elizabeth “Betty,” born probably Sept. 3, 1915; married C. Shepherd Nowlin; died Dec. 25, 2005 at age 90.[71]  

Raymond’s World War I draft registration tells us he was of medium height and slender build, with green eyes and brown hair. It also notes that Raymond’s employer in Lynchburg was “John H. Heald,” a company that started out as “Heald’s Bark Mills,” later becoming Mead Paper (Mead Corp.).[72]   Raymond Oberfell had a long career as a chemist for this company, with a couple of patents to his name.[73]  

The Lynchburg Oberfells were prosperous enough to have a live-in servant, a fact reflected by 1920 and 1930 census data. Per the 1930 census, Raymond owned his home, had a radio, and was a vice president of a company involved in “leather extract [illegible] manufacture” (presumably Mead Corp.).

Charles Raymond Oberfell died in Lynchburg on Saturday, January 19, 1946. He was survived by his wife Florence, his son Gilbert of North Carolina, his daughter Betty Nowlin of Lynchburg, his mother Bertha and sister Emily, and two grandchildren.[74]  

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20. Elmira E. Spooner (Edith2, John1) was born June 7, 1883, most likely in Cogan House Township, Lycoming county, PA, the eldest of George and Edith (von Dreele) Spooner’s eight children. Elmira married Orin Westle Burgess, born March 21, 1885.[75]   Orin and Elmira had three children (surname BURGESS):

  1.   Anna. This child appears in the 1910 census as a two-year-old but does not appear in the 1920 census. Anna likely died prior to 1918, when a younger sister, similarly named, was born.
  2.   Grace E., born circa 1910.
  3.   Annie E., born circa 1918.

This Burgess family lived in Williamsport, PA, where Orin worked for the Lycoming Rubber Company on Erie Avenue. Orin gave his home address as 1060 High [Street] in Williamsport when he registered for the draft on September 12, 1918.

Elmira E. (Spooner) Burgess died in May of 1971. According to the Social Security Death Index, her last residence was in Williamsport.

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21. George Nathan Spooner (Edith2, John1) was born November 30, 1893, in Cogan House Township, Lycoming county, PA, the son of George and Edith (von Dreele) Spooner.[76]   He went by his middle name, Nathan, which is what we will call him here.

Around 1904, Nathan married Margaret F. Case, born November 1893, the daughter of Norman L. and Alma W. Case. Nathan and Margaret had seven children (surname SPOONER):[77]  

  1.   Edith V., born circa 1914.
  2.   Claire W., born May 6, 1917, died April 1981; married John W. Lamade.
  3.   Norman L. (April 21, 1919 – January 11, 1993)
  4.   Betty M., born circa 1923.
  5.   William Robert, born circa 1925.
  6.   George Nathan, Jr., born circa 1927.
  7.   Millard A. (March 24, 1932 – August 23, 2005)

Census and military records tell us a few things about this family. In 1917, when Nathan filled out his World War I draft registration, he was working as a grocery clerk, and had a wife and two children. In 1920, the Nathan, Margaret, and their three children lived in a rented house on Cemetery Street in Williamsport. Nathan worked as a “salesman” for a restaurant.

By 1930, Nathan owned his own home at 1314 Park Avenue in Williamsport, and he worked as a laborer for a “wire rope company.” His family had grown to six children. Nathan’s World War II draft registration, 1942, says he worked for “Bethlehem Steele Co.” on Ft. Campbell Street in Williamsport.[78]   The family still lived at 1314 Park Ave.

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) tells us that George Spooner of Pennsylvania died in July 1964. The birth date given for this man matched that of George Nathan Spooner. Nathan was 70 years old when he died.

Nathan’s widow may have moved to Florida after his death: The SSDI has a listing for a Margaret Spooner whose Social Security number was issued in Florida in 1964, the year Nathan died. We think it likely that this Margaret Spooner was Nathan’s widow, Margaret (Case) Spooner.[79]   Her last residence was listed as Bethlehem, Northampton county, Pennsylvania. She died in August 1972 at the age of 78.

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22. William Chester Spooner (Edith2, John1) was born August 17, 1896, in Cogan House Township, Lycoming county, PA, the son of George and Edith (von Dreele) Spooner.[80]   He went by his middle name, Chester.

Around 1920, Chester married Elizabeth J. Loftus, born in July 1896, the daughter of James E. Loftus and his wife Margaret. They had at least three children, per the 1930 census (surname SPOONER):

  1.   Mary, born circa 1921.
  2.   Elizabeth, born circa 1923.
  3.   William, born circa 1926.

Chester and Elizabeth may well have had more children than the three listed here; Elizabeth was a young woman of 33 years when the census was taken in 1930. That year, Elizabeth’s mother Margaret Loftus, age 60, was living in Chester’s household at 315 West Central Street in South Williamsport. (Margaret’s husband James, age 62, was by this time an inmate of the State Hospital for the Insane in Mahoning Township, Montour county, PA.)

Chester worked for the railroad for many years. His World War I draft registration specified his employer as the Pennsylvania Railroad; in 1930, Chester’s occupation was noted as “brakeman” for the railroad. By 1942, when he completed his World War II draft registration, Chester was working for Holmes Silk Co. in Williamsport, and living at 1050 Vine Ave.

We have no information about when or where Chester Spooner and his wife Elizabeth died, or where they may be buried.

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23. Rex Clifton Spooner (Edith2, John1) was born February 28, 1900, in Cogan House Township, Lycoming county, PA, the youngest child of George and Edith (von Dreele) Spooner.[81]    Unlike his brothers, Rex used his first name.

Rex’s World War I draft registration (September 1918) named his employer as the Pennsylvania Railroad; he worked as a “railroader” at the same time as his brother Chester. Around 1919, Rex married Margaret R. (maiden name unknown), born in Pennsylvania on April 17, 1900.[82]   Per the 1930 census, they had at least four children, (surname SPOONER):

  1.   Jean H., born circa 1920.
  2.   Phyllis, born circa 1924.
  3.   Jack, born circa 1925.
  4.   Carolyn J., born circa 1927.

The 1930 census shows Rex and his family living in Sunbury, Northumberland county, PA. Edith Laudenslayer, Rex’s widowed cousin, was living with them that year. Rex now worked as a “collector” for an insurance company.

We have no information about when or where Rex died, or where he may be buried. Rex’s wife Margaret died in October 1979.

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24. Luther Jacob Berkheiser (Carrie2, John1) was born March 19, 1887 in Cogan House Township, Lycoming county, PA, the son and eldest child of Jacob and Caroline “Carrie” (von Dreele) Berkheiser.[83]   Luther’s World War I draft registration noted that he was tall, stout, and blue-eyed, with sandy colored hair.

Around 1913 or 1914, Luther married Clara M. Connelly, born January 10, 1886 in Cogan House Township, the daughter of Thomas F. and Ada (Sweeley) Connelly.[84]   Census records show that Clara and her family were neighbors of the Berkheisers on Trout Run Road.

Luther and Clara had one child, a son (surname BERKHEISER):

  1.   Thomas J., born Dec. 21, 1914, died November 1968. Thomas married twice; he had one child with his first wife. Thomas’s second wife was Grace Elizabeth Needs, born January 22, 1917 in Calumet, MI, to Harry and May (Salmon) Needs. Thomas and Grace Berkheiser had three children.[85]

On June 9, 1917, the date on which he completed his World War I draft registration, Luther and his family were living in Mill Hall in Bald Eagle Township, Clinton county, PA, which is where the census taker found them in 1920. Luther’s occupation was that of farmer.

By 1930, Luther and Clara were back in Cogan House Township with their son Thomas. Luther continued to farm for a living. It’s possible Luther took over his father’s farm: In 1930, Jacob and Carrie Berkheiser were living in Trout Run Village in Lewis Township, Lycoming county. Jacob no longer farmed; he and son Lester, who lived with his parents, both worked in street construction, Jacob as a foreman, Lester as a laborer.

Clara (Connelly) Berkheiser died on January 28, 1935 at the age of 49; she was buried three days later in Trout Run Cemetery, Lewis Township, Lycoming county, PA. Probably after Clara’s death, Luther and his son left Cogan House and moved to Michigan. When Luther died in 1950, Williamsport’s Gazette & Bulletin listed an obituary for him.[86]   It read:

Luther Berkheiser, a former resident of this area, died Sunday, July 9, 1950, at his home in Lansing, Mich. He had had a heart condition for many years.

He had been a farmer at Cogan House for nearly 30 years. Surviving are his wife and one son, Thomas, both of Michigan.

Services and interment will be held in Lansing.

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25. Mildred E. Berkheiser (Carrie2, John1) was born March 17, 1894, most likely in Cogan House Township, the daughter of Jacob and Caroline “Carrie” (von Dreele) Berkheiser.

Data from the 1930 census indicate that Mildred got married around 1919, although we cannot find Mildred and her husband, Franklin Webster Faubion, in the 1920 census. Frank Faubion was born April 21, 1891 in Milton borough, Turbot Township, Northumberland county, PA, the son of William C. and Catherine (Snyder) Faubion.[87]  

Frank and Mildred Faubion had at least two children, per the 1930 census (surname FAUBION):

  1.   Rosella J., born September 7, 1925.
  2.   Russell K., born September 7, 1925, died August 12, 1994.[88]

Rosella and Russell were twins, per their identical ages (four years, six months) as recorded in the 1930 census.

The 1930 census asked all married people for their “age at first marriage.” Both Mildred’s and Frank’s responses indicated that they’d tied the knot eleven years earlier. There is, however, some evidence that Frank was married once before, to a woman named Charlotte Belle Menges.[89]    Charlotte (or “Lottie,” as she appears in the census) apparently died less than three years after marrying Frank. It is unknown if Lottie and Frank had children together. When Frank completed his World War I draft registration on June 5, 1917, he listed his marital status as “single.”

In the 1930 census Frank’s occupation was that of chauffeur for a private family. That year, the family lived at 201 Walnut Street in Milton. In 1942, when Frank filled out his World War II draft registration, the family was living at 27 Prospect Avenue in Milton; Frank named Dewitt Limbaugh as his employer.

Mildred (Berkheiser) Faubion lived to be 87 years old; she died in June 1981, per the Social Security Death Index. Mildred’s last benefit was sent to Milton, but her last residence was given as Williamsport. Frank Faubion died at age 96 on February 23, 1988, probably in Milton.

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© 2009‐2018 Elaine Schenot




1   The Early History of Cogan House Township, Book 1, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania by Milton W. Landis and Carl B. Taylor (1981, Lycoming Printing Co., Williamsport, PA), pg. 254.


2 lists a “John G. Von Dreele,” age 24, who arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, on the ship Gustav on August 31, 1837, from Bremen, Germany. Could this be our John, even with the wrong middle initial? Perhaps; he would be exactly the right age:

Baltimore Passenger and Immigration Lists, 1820-1872
Name: John G. Von Dreele
Arrival Date: 31 Aug 1837
Age: 24
Gender: Male
Port of Departure: Bremen
Occupation: Farmer
Ship: Gustav
Port of Arrival: Baltimore
Place of Origin: Hille
National Archives' Series Number: M255
Microfilm Roll Number: 2
List Number: 55
Source Information: Baltimore Passenger and Immigration Lists, 1820-1872 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004. Original data: Baltimore, Maryland. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Baltimore, 1820-1891. Washington, D.C.: NARA micropublication M255, rolls # 1-19.

Hille is a town in the present-day area of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. It appears to be only about 35 miles from the city of Hanover. Perhaps Hille was a part of the Kingdom of Hanover back when John von Dreele left his homeland? Edith Mackey Brown’s mention of “Verda” as John’s hometown may correlate with Verden, a town in the region of Lower Saxony, of which Hanover is the capital.

The 1900 census asked all non-native residents for the year of their immigration. Despite multiple attempts to locate John in this census, we cannot find him, and it’s a shame – presumably we at least would have learned the year of John’s emigration from Germany. Perhaps some day we’ll discover the facts of John’s origins from more obscure sources.


3  Newspapers: Marriages: 1832-1854 Published in the Die Stimme des Volks, Part 2, 1839-1844

Drill, John                   Norwegian Twp.
Beckman, Mary C.     Norwegian Twp.     May 31     Rev. Mennig.


4  “A Documentary History of the Old Red (Zion) Church in West Brunswick Township, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania” by the Reverend H. A. Weller, p. 218-221. Publications of the Historical Society of Schuylkill County, Vol. 2, n. 3, 1909. Also: “Pioneer Lutheran Ministers of Schuylkill County” by D. G. Lubold, p. 323. Publications of the Historical Society of Schuylkill County, Vol. 1, n. 5, 1905. Copies of these pages were obtained via the Reference Dept. of the Pottsville Free Public Library, 215 W. Market Street, Pottsville, PA 17901-4304.


5  William Beckman’s death record says he was born on July 4, 1828, in Schuylkill county, PA. Data from the 1900 census disagree. William Beckman, by this time 71 years old and living in Elba, Lapeer county, Michigan, reported that he had lived in the United States for 68 years. The census taker apparently did the math in his head and wrote down William’s year of immigration as 1822. He was off by a decade – he should have written 1832, a year that corresponds with multiple samplings of census data reporting where and when William’s siblings were born.


6  Pottsville (PA) Free Public Library Genealogy and local history materials & services


7  Quoted material taken from the “unofficial” Schuylkill Canal website. See also the Wikipedia articles on the Schuylkill Canal and the Reading Company (Reading Railroad).


8  “The Schuylkill Rangers” by John B. Bowman, p. 44. Publications of the Historical Society of Schuylkill County, Vol. 6, n. 2, 1944. A copy of this page was obtained via the Reference Dept. of the Pottsville Free Public Library, 215 W. Market Street, Pottsville, PA 17901-4304.


9  Pennsylvania State Archives: Archives Records Information Access System (ARIAS) Civil War Veterans' Card File, 1861-1866 - {series #19.12} - Arranged alphabetically by surname of soldier. Philip’s cause of death was given as “chronic diarrhea.” His place of burial was found at a website listing Misc. Burial Records of Civil War Soldiers and others in Schuylkill county, PA.


10  Data regarding Charles Beckman and his wife (whose name may have been Harriet Klein):

Newspapers: Marriages: 1832-1854 Published in the Die Stimme des Volks, Part 2, 1839-1844

Beckman, Carl          Norwegian Twp.
Klein, ------              Minersville              Oct. 15        Rev. Mennig.

(Per the 1850 census, Charles Beckman’s wife’s given name was Harriet.)

List of Schuylkill Subscribers: I. D. Rupp's History of Northampton, Lehigh, Monroe, Carbon, and Schuylkill Counties. Harrisburg, PA: Hickok and Cantine, 1845. Schuylkill County Subscribers' Names, pp. 499-536.
All counties where the name of the state is omitted are of PA.

Name                            Place of Residence         Place of Nativity
Beckman, Charles          Minersville                     Hanover, Germany

Data regarding Frank Beckman:
Our knowledge of Frank Beckman began in 2001 through email contact with family historian Kay Beckman. Kay, whose husband’s Beckman ancestry intersects with our own, generously shared her data with us. Her research notes said that Charles Beckman, sibling to our Caroline Beckman, had died leaving three children, William, Frank, and Sarah. While we don’t have source citations or documentation for this, federal census records support this assertion.

Two things we looked for, to determine if Frank Beckman of Cogan House was the same person as Charles Beckman’s son, were:

Frank’s age:
With the exception of the 1880 census, when Frank’s age was recorded as 34 (three years too old), the census records of 1900, 1910, and 1920 put him at exactly the right ages (51, 61, and 71) to be the same Franklin Beckman who was enumerated in 1860 at age 11. We have not located Frank in the 1870 census.

The 1900 census was faded in areas, making it difficult to read. With a digital darkening of the census page image, however, it looked very much like Frank’s month and year of birth were written as Dec. 1848. This would agree with his age as given in that and most other censuses.

Frank’s father’s birthplace:
Frank’s father Charles Beckman was born in Hanover, Germany; the 1850 census record reflects this fact. In that same census, Charles’s wife Harriet was listed as having been born in Pennsylvania.

After 1850, the census record differs on this question, sometimes recording both of Frank’s parents as born in Germany, sometimes both as natives of Pennsylvania. In 1920 Frank’s father’s birthplace was listed as Germany; his mother’s birthplace, Pennsylvania. This constellation agrees with the 1850 record which, presumably, was made from information provided by Charles and/or Harriet Beckman.

We discovered Frank’s first name – Charles – when we found him in the 1920 census, living in Blossburg, Tioga county, PA, with wife Mary Ann, son Charles F. Beckman, Jr., and Charles, Jr.’s wife and daughter. (All data correlate with earlier census records.) So Frank was likely named for his father, Charles, but called by his middle name.

On the basis of this pattern of data, we submit that Frank Beckman of Cogan House was the same person as Caroline (Beckman) von Dreele’s older brother Charles’s son.


11   Mary Ann’s younger sister Ida married Murray Moyer; a record of Ida Moyer’s death appears in “Bastian-Maneval Funeral Home Records” at Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice. In this record, Ida’s parents are named as Cornelius Garrison and Sarah Jane Morrison. These names fit perfectly with the census record, where we find older sister Mary Ann in this family.


12   The full names and birth dates of Frank and Mary Ann (Garrison) Beckman’s sons were obtained through their World War I draft registration documents and, in the case of Frank, Jr., a World War II draft registration. The Beckmans’ middle son, who appears to have gone by his middle name of Herman, signed his first name on his WWI draft registration as “Murry,” not Murray. While the 1900 census seems to note Murry Herman Beckman’s month of birth as Dec. (there are legibility problems), Herman’s date of birth was written as Sept. 12, 1882 – and it just happened to be Sept. 12th when the draft registration was being filled out. We are therefore skeptical of how correct this birth date might be. Charles Franklin Beckman, Jr.’s date of death was obtained from an item in the July 24, 1946 edition of the Gazette and Bulletin newspaper, Williamsport, PA (Frank, Jr., died as the result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident).


13  The Early History of Cogan House Township, Book 1, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania by Milton W. Landis and Carl B. Taylor (1981, Lycoming Printing Co., Williamsport, PA), pg. 114.


14  Jacob’s surname was spelled differently in every census, and the handwriting of the census takers contributes to the legibility problem. It could be Kienzle; Kinzle; Kinzler; Kenzler; or even Kringle.


15  Some of the Descendants of John and Elinor Whitney; see also The Descendants of John Whitney, pages 216 - 221


16  Colonel Oliver C. Bosbyshell, U.S.V.


17  When Henry is mentioned in The Early History of Cogan House Township, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, Book 1, he is called “Hen Drill.” We know through well-confirmed family lore that Henry’s niece, Edith von Dreele, called him “Uncle Hen.”


18  The Early History of Cogan House Township, Book 1, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania by Milton W. Landis and Carl B. Taylor (1981, Lycoming Printing Co., Williamsport, PA), pg. 209.


19  The Early History of Cogan House Township, Book 1, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania by Milton W. Landis and Carl B. Taylor (1981, Lycoming Printing Co., Williamsport, PA), pg. 93.


20  The Early History of Cogan House Township, Book 1, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania by Milton W. Landis and Carl B. Taylor (1981, Lycoming Printing Co., Williamsport, PA), pg. 99.


21   “The Unfortunate Bear,” The Early History of Cogan House Township, Book 1, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania by Milton W. Landis and Carl B. Taylor (1981, Lycoming Printing Co., Williamsport, PA), page 273.


22  George Franklin von Dreele’s granddaughter Almeda Schenot told us this, having heard her mother Edith, who was Frank’s daughter, say so.


22.5  The Monthly Bulletin of the Division of Zoology, by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture: Harrisburg, PA, 1903-1907.


23  Bastian Funeral Home Records, 1905-1954, page 89: Drill, J. Henry, died May 28, 1924 at Cogan House. Father: John H. Drill; Mother: Caroline Beckman.


24  This bit of family lore was handed down to us via Edith von Dreele’s daughter Almeda Schenot.


25  “Genealogical & Family History of The Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys, Pennsylvania,” Rev. Horace Edwin Hayden, M. A., editor; Hon. Alfred Hand, M. A., John W. Jordan, LL.D., contributors; 1906 (Lewis Publishing Co., New York and Chicago). This secondary source is quoted by J. K. Loren in a family tree, “Newell, Popper, Budinsky, Stanley, Guyon,” posted at RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project. Loren notes that there is some confusion in this Pennsylvania local history between father and son (both named Oliver), and specifies that it was Oliver Lewis, Junior, who was known as the “Weeping Prophet.”


26  Gazette & Bulletin, Williamsport, PA, July 7, 1881, page 4. We first located this item by searching the Newspaper Index at the Lycoming County Library System; a copy from microfilm was obtained by request from the James V. Brown Library, 19 East Fourth Street, Williamsport, PA 17701


27  The Early History of Cogan House Township, Book 1, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania by Milton W. Landis and Carl B. Taylor (1981, Lycoming Printing Co., Williamsport, PA), pg. 209.


28  Gazette & Bulletin, Williamsport, PA, May 30, 1894, page 5.


29  Frank Drill, as Secretary of the School Board, was authorized to write the order for payment of wages to Dan H. Krise, the schoolteacher for the “Sessions of 1894-95.” Mr. Krise “had to wait a while for Frank. He, a widower, was away courting a widow.” From “A Teacher Collects His First Month’s Salary,” The Early History of Cogan House Township, Book 1, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania by Milton W. Landis and Carl B. Taylor (1981, Lycoming Printing Co., Williamsport, PA), page 122.


30  “Lycoming Co and Related Families,” by Harold Bower; at RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project. Mr. Bower's database, entitled lycofam, is no longer available.


31   Gazette & Bulletin, Williamsport, PA, February 10, 1896, page 5. The photocopy, made from a microfilmed copy of this newspaper page, is just a little difficult to read. Mrs. Bostley’s address and the hour at which Myrtle died are the only items that may have been transcribed in error. (Rosa Bostley’s home address, as listed in Williamsport’s city directories for 1890-92 are all different, suggesting that this widow found it necessary to move frequently.)


32  Family lore tells us that Frank’s youngest child, daughter Travilla, was “shocked” to discover her father’s divorce papers in their attic sometime after his death. Travilla’s mother, Rosa (Ebner) (Henry) von Dreele, was a “good Lutheran” – and good Lutherans didn’t marry divorced persons in those days.


33  The information about Caroline Louise Ebner was obtained by searching the Newspaper Index at the Lycoming County Library System, which we initially located via Williamsport’s James V. Brown library website.


34  Undated, single page typed account, written by Pearl Agnes (Henry) Shaffer, of her mother Rosa Louise (Ebner) (Henry) von Dreele’s life and family. Copy provided in January 2003 by Mrs. Suzanne Haas of Montoursville, PA.


35  Gazette & Bulletin, Williamsport, PA, September 11, 1937, page 10.


36  Gazette & Bulletin, Williamsport, PA, March 25, 1896, page 8.


37  Told to us in July 2004 by Frank Drill’s granddaughter Almeda (Laudenslayer) Schenot. The Darling Valve website says, “Founded in 1888 as Darling Pump & Mfg. Co., Ltd., the company was organized to manufacture and sell Darling oil well pumps and supplies and engage in the business of general brass founding and machining." In 1902 the company began making fire hydrants in addition to other fire protection and water-line accessories. In 1917, after the death of one of the founders, it was incorporated as Darling Valve and Mfg. Co.”


38  Gazette & Bulletin, Williamsport, PA, November 24, 1911, page 11: "Lively Time in Malta Circles."


39  Anna B. Allen von Dreele’s year of birth was written on her gravestone as 1872.


40  Official copy of George Franklin von Dreele’s certificate of death, #99544, issued April 23, 1976 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at the request of Bob Schenot.


41  Data were obtained from several sources: An International Genealogical Index® (IGI) extracted marriage record for Valentine and Bertha was obtained at the website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and information regarding Valentine Oberfell’s baptism, as well as Bertha and Valentine’s marriage, was obtained by searching the Newspaper Index at the Lycoming County Library System, which we originally accessed via Williamsport’s James V. Brown library website.


42  Jacob Berkheiser’s parents’ names were obtained from his death info as listed in “Bastian-Maneval Funeral Home Records” at Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice.


43  The Early History of Cogan House Township, Book 1, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania by Milton W. Landis and Carl B. Taylor (1981, Lycoming Printing Co., Williamsport, PA), page 180.


44  Mrs. Dorothy Watkins of Trout Run, PA, is a distant relative of Otis Pray, son of Henry “Harry” and Carrie M. (Alexander) Pray. Mrs. Watkins provided us with basic information about Harry, who deserted his wife and children. The story is that Harry went to Alaska and never was heard from again. The 1910 census, which shows young Otis living with the Berkheiser family, also lists Carrie M. Pray as a boarder in a Williamsport household. Carrie was listed in that census as “widowed” and as the mother of two children, both of whom were then living; she worked as a cook in a restaurant. Notices printed in Williamsport’s Gazette & Bulletin in 1914 and 1915 indicate that Carrie Pray filed for a divorce from Harry.


45  “Bastian-Maneval Funeral Home Records” at Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice.


46  “Bastian-Maneval Funeral Home Records” at Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice.


47  Genealogy of the Baily Family of Bromham, Wiltshire, England, and More, by Gilbert Cope (1912, Higginson Book Co.), page 586.


48  Leora (Chapman) Bosbyshell’s place of birth and her parents’ names were obtained from her certificate of death, #37319, Texas Dept. of Health – Bureau of Vital Statistics. A digital copy of this death record was obtained at the Family Search Labs website.


49a  Gertrude (Quigley) Schwoerer’s burial info, as well as that of her parents, was found at a website listing burials for Sections 1-22 at Wildwood Cemetery, Williamsport, PA. Gertrude’s mother’s maiden name (Ramsey), as well as confirmation of her father’s middle name (Lindsey), were obtained through a search of the online Newspaper Index at the Lycoming County Library System, which we originally accessed via Williamsport’s James V. Brown library website. Both of these names were cross-referenced through census records. Also: we found Gertrude’s first name given as “Norma” at a genealogy website.


49b  Information about the family of John Herman Schwoerer and his wife Carrie was provided by their youngest child in a telephone conversation on 1 February 2010, and in another conversation in spring 2011. (Thank you!) Death dates and burial location for Charles, Matilda, Herman and Carrie Schwoerer were obtained from Wildwood Cemetery in Williamsport, PA, in a phone call in spring 2011. Information gleaned from the Sarah Hewitt Tupper Family Tree (owner: Katie Tupper) available at permitted us to poke around and find corroborating data about Charles Schwoerer from the International Genealogical Index found at the website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


50  Information regarding Edward D. Rathmell, Sr.’s parentage was obtained from a report entitled “Descendants of Andrew Mackey,” provided by Matt Voorhees.


51  Edward D. Rathmell, Jr.’s date of death, October 19, 1962 was obtained from a letter, dated March 13, 2001, sent to Melonie v. Mackey by Patricia J. Perry, Secretary of the Ligonier Valley Cemetery Association, P.O. Box 862, Ligonier, PA 15658. Edward, Jr.’s grave marker, however, indicates that he died on October 19, 1963.


52  Information regarding the parentage of John W. Barkley and his date of birth were obtained at via the “Family Data Collection – Births” database, as well as census records. Also: pages 307-308, History of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, by John Newton Boucher and John Woolf Jordan, published 1906, Lewis Publishing Co., Westmoreland county, PA (digitized by Google and obtained via Google Book Search on 25 Jan. 2008).


53  A number of Barkley family gravestone photos can be viewed at this Westmoreland County, PA, web page.


54  Alfonso wrote his wife’s name as “Minnie Wilcox von Dreele” on his WWI draft registration, thus providing us with Minnie’s maiden name. Thanks, Al!


55   This news item was obtained via Google News Archive Search and’s Historical Newspapers Collection.


56   Telephone conversation with Almeda Schenot, May 24, 2001.


57   Gazette & Bulletin, Williamsport, PA, January 12, 1911. The article misspelled von Dreele as Von Drelle.


58  Bill Laudenslayer, Edith’s grandson, recalls that John Quigle worked for the Packard Motor Car company in Detroit (the name of John’s employer as written on his WWI draft registration). Bill thinks John also may have worked for Hudson Motor Car, another Detroit car manufacturer. More information about these automobile manufacturers may be found at this Wikipedia article.


59  Bob Schenot’s notes: “Using a city insurance map (1929 Sanborn Insurance Maps) from the period, I was able to establish the location of the Laudenslayer “bungalow” (Almeda Schenot’s word). It is now in the middle of the Budd Company Detroit plant. Based on observation of the surviving housing to the west of the Budd plant, it was probably a 1.5 story (dormed out attic) house with a roofed front porch. I’d guess it was about 1,500 square feet. The map shows it on the east side of Lycaste Ave, just north of Charlevoix Ave, and South of Goethe. It is a ‘1D’ as opposed to a ‘2F’. There was an alley in the center between Lycaste & Hart avenues. Other houses had an outbuilding (garage?) on the alley, but this one didn’t. To the east of Hart, there were railroad tracks and factories. The house number on the corner with Charlevoix is 11703 Charlevoix.”


60  Most of what we know about Edith von Dreele Laudenslayer comes from our conversations with her daughter Almeda. Other family members have contributed memories of Edith as well.


61  Edith probably bought two graves thinking she would join Dean there someday, but likely ended up selling the spare grave because she needed the money. On June 4, 1923, less than a year after Dean’s death, an 88-year-old man named Eli Northrup was buried in grave #7.


62  Almeda Schenot told us that while she was happy to see her mother on the weekends, she would have preferred to use her time off from school playing with her friends!

The address of the Odd Fellows Orphans Home was Sunbury, but the orphanage itself supposedly was located about three miles outside the city of Sunbury. The 1930 census recorded the home as being on Snyder Town Road in Upper Augusta Township. We have found evidence of the home being located on Sunbury Road instead. The coordinates for the former Orphans Home are latitude 40.8726N, longitude -76.7314W, per the PA HomeTownLocator. Some interesting old pictures of the orphanage are viewable at a RootsWeb Northumberland county (PA) website, including images of the I.O.O.F. Band and the orphanage barn. The image showing a view of the orphanage from the railroad tracks fits the location of the home on Sunbury Road as described above – near the tracks.


63  Rolling Green Park, opened 1908, closed 1971, has been replaced by a housing development. When the grandchildren were young, they really appreciated the location of Grandma Laudenslayer’s house!


64  “The Unfortunate Bear,” The Early History of Cogan House Township, Book 1, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania by Milton W. Landis and Carl B. Taylor (1981, Lycoming Printing Co., Williamsport, PA), page 273.


65  Gazette & Bulletin, Williamsport, PA, May 12, 1914, page 1.


66  Gazette & Bulletin, Williamsport, PA, April 17, 1951, page 7.


67  New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line at]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006. Original data: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls); Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36; National Archives, Washington, D.C.


68  Gazette & Bulletin, Williamsport, PA, October 10, 1950.


69  Gazette & Bulletin, Williamsport, PA, December 28, 1948, page 13.


70  Per a conversation with Malcolm and Almeda Schenot about “Aunt Travilla.”


71 (The News & Advance, Lynchburg, VA, via's U.S. Obituary Collection); Obituaries for Monday, December 26, 2005: Betty Oberfell Nowlin, 90, of Lynchburg.


72   Raymond’s World War II Draft Registration Card, 1942, says he worked for Mead Corp. in Lynchburg, VA, in the "tannin extract division." To view an old photo of Heald's Bark Mills (later known as Mead Paper, and today as Rock-Tenn Company), visit Adam H. Plecker Historic Photographs of Lynchburg, Virginia.


73  At freepatentsonline: United States Patent 2173977 for the “purification of tannin extract,” Publication Date: 09/26/1939; Inventor: Oberfell, Charles R.; Assignee: Mead Corp.
Also at freepatentsonline: United States Patent 2326729, “Ceramics,” Publication Date: 08/10/1943; Inventors: Whittemore, John W., and Oberfell, Charles R.; Assignee: Mead Corp.


74  Gazette & Bulletin, Williamsport, PA, January 21, 1946, page 9.


75   Orin W. Burgess’s middle name and date of birth were obtained from his World War I draft registration, available online (with subscription) at


76  George Nathan Spooner’s date and place of birth were obtained from his World War I draft registration, available online (with subscription) at


77   The 1930 census gave us the names of Nathan and Margaret Spooner’s first six children. A newspaper article, “Annual Outing of Descendants Held at Rocks,” (Gazette & Bulletin, Williamsport, PA, September 17, 1937, page 4), about the 28th annual reunion of the descendants of Emanuel and Elizabeth Case, provided the name of the Spooners’ seventh child, Millard (who was born after 1930) and gave us the perfect set of clues from which we determined Margaret Spooner’s parentage. Millard A. Spooner’s name appears in a website listing names for Wildwood Cemetery in Williamsport, PA. The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) gave us birth and death information for Claire, Norman, and Millard Spooner. Finally, we found an obituary for John W. Lamade that identified him as the widower of Claire Spooner; their ages and location checked out sufficiently with the SSDI that we believe we have the right people.


78   Nathan Spooner’s employer, per the 1930 census and his WWII draft registration, was Williamsport Wire Rope Company. In 1937 Bethlehem Steel Corporation purchased Williamsport Wire Rope, and it became the Bethlehem Wire Rope Division of Bethlehem Steel Corporation. This business is known today as Wirerope Works, Inc.


79  The Social Security Death Index gave this woman’s birth date as November 10, 1893, which agrees with census data from 1900 when Margaret F. Case’s month and year of birth was written as November 1893. The fact that this Margaret Spooner’s last residence was in Pennsylvania suggests that she resided with or near family at the end of her life.


80   William Chester Spooner’s date and place of birth were obtained from his World War I draft registration, available online (with subscription) at


81  Rex Clifton Spooner’s date and place of birth were obtained from his World War I draft registration, available online (with subscription) at


82  The Social Security Death Index Name lists a Margaret Spooner whose birth date is given as April 17, 1900, and whose last residence is given as Sunbury, Northumberland county, PA. Since the birth year and the location agree so well with the data we have on Rex Spooner’s wife, we believe this is the same person.


83  Luther Jacob Berkheiser’s date and place of birth were obtained from his World War I draft registration, available online (with subscription) at Luther’s date of birth appears to be March, but the handwriting is such that it might have been November, instead.


84   We found Luther’s wife’s maiden name in a probate document for Moses and Margaret Ann Sweeley of Lycoming County, PA, posted at a RootsWeb message board webpage: “Clara M. [Connelly], a daughter, intermarried with Luther Berkheiser, of Cogan House, County and State aforesaid, (Post Office address Cogan House, Lycoming County, Pa.).” Census records for Clara’s family of origin confirmed this information. Clara’s death data were obtained from “Bastian-Maneval Funeral Home Records” at Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice.


85   Thomas J. Berkheiser’s dates of birth and death were obtained from the Social Security Death Index (SSDI). We obtained information regarding Thomas’s second wife Grace Elizabeth and their children from Grace’s obituary which appeared in the Kalamazoo Gazette (June 21, 2002) and was posted at RootsWeb’s Kalamazoo county, MI, message board on June 26, 2002 by “ardispierce,” who apparently is a volunteer who transcribes and posts Michigan county obituaries for fellow family historians to access at RootsWeb. We learned about Thomas’s first marriage from one of his children in a telephone conversation, March 26, 2008.


86   Gazette & Bulletin, Williamsport, PA, July 11, 1950, page 3.


87  Frank Webster Faubion’s date and place of birth were obtained from his World War I draft registration, available online (with subscription) at Frank’s parentage was determined through census records; and Frank’s mother’s maiden name was found in an International Genealogical Index® (IGI) record of uncertain reliability at the website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


88  Russell K. Faubion’s dates of birth and death were obtained from the Social Security Death Index.


89  Records found at the website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provide the following information:

Individual Record      FamilySearch™ Pedigree Resource File
Charlotte Belle Menges      Compact Disc #12   Pin #611163
      Birth: 13 Mar 1895
      Death: 12 Feb 1915
      Burial: Turbotville Cemetery
      Father: Simon Peter Menges      Disc #12   Pin #611156
      Mother: Myrtle E. Savidge      Disc #12   Pin #611158
      Spouse: Frank W. Faubion      Disc #12   Pin #611256
      Marriage: 5 Jun 1912
                  St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church, Turbotville, Penn.




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