An American Family History

Johann Simon Dreisbach and Maria Katharina Keller

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists."
― Franklin D. Roosevelt
Oberndorf, Germany
Lehigh Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania
Northampton County, Pennsylvania is on the eastern border of the state in the Lehigh Valley. It was formed in 1752 from parts of Bucks County. Easton is the county seat.
Carbon County, Pennsylvania was created in 1843 from parts of Northampton and Monroe Counties.
Dreisbach is also spelled Dresbach, Dresback, Driesbach, Driesbaugh, Dreisback, and Treisbach.
During the Indian wars, some colonists were taken captive. They were killed, ransomed, or adopted into the tribe.

Johann Simon Dreisbach and Maria Katharina Keller married on November 7, 1720 in Oberndorf, Germany. Their children were born in Oberndorf and the christenings were recorded at the Protestant church in Feudingen.Johann Jost (Yost) Dreisbach was christened on September 18, 1721.

Johann Adam Dreisbach was christened on November 7, 1722.

Alexander Dreisbach was christened November 9, 1725. Maria Catharina Dreisbach was born soon before she died on November 16, 1725. Anna Elizabeth Dreisbach was christened on February 15, 1728. Alexander died March 26, 1731 and Elizabeth died on May 12, 1731.

Simon Dreisbach, Jr., was christened on February 18, 1730.

Georg Wilhelm (George William) Dreisbach was christened on June 14, 1733.

Johannes (John) Dreisbach was christened on February 6, 1735.

Anna Catharina Dreisbach Ulrich was christened on May 4, 1738. 

They came to America on the ship Lydia which departed Rotterdam and arrived in Philadelphia on September 20, 1743. The journey took 4 months.

The family settled in Lehigh township, Northampton County a few miles from Blue Mountain and the Lehigh Gap. In May, 1749 and March, 1750 Simon applied for a total of 75 acres to be surveyed. Jost, Adam and John also applied for surveys. The land was originally purchased, says a family tradition, from the indigenous people. Not all their transactions were recognized by the Penn Proprietors, and the Dreisbachs had to repurchase their land.

In 1755 more land patents were filed by Simon Sr. and his sons Adam, Jost and George, for land in Minisink Indian territory, south of the Blue Mountain in the newly established Northampton County.

At the end of November in 1755, indigenous warriors attacked the Moravian mission at Gnadenhütten on the other side of the Blue Mountains from the Dreisbach settlements. 

In January, 1756, Benjamin Franklin and 100 men established Fort Allen at what is now Weissport, north of Blue Mountain in Carbon County. Fort Allen was built in 1774 in Hempfield Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania for protection from indigenous people during Dunmore's War and the American Revolution.

During this time some of the Dreisbachs moved to Easton and others may have gone as far as Upper Bucks County, where baptism and marriages are recorded at the Tohickon Reformed Church in the late 1750's. This was the church where traveling preacher Johan Egidius Hecker kept his records and the baptisms were probably performed elsewhere.

On May 25, 1757 inhabitants of Northampton County sent a petition to the governor of Pennsylvania, requesting protection from Indian raids. Seven buildings had been burned down, one man was killed, one shot five times, and a girl had been taken captive. The signers included Simon "Driesbach" and his son-in-law, Henry Ulrich.

In 1759 Simon Dreisbach and Johannes Dieter, church elders representing three small Reformed congregations went to Easton, Plainfield and Greenwich to ask the Reformed Church's governing body, the Coetus, to appoint a joint minister for their churches. They were not succesful.

In 1768 Maria Katharina, died and was buried in the cemetery above Jost's house. It was later farmed and the head-stones propped against the fence along the field. In the 1920's Maria Katharina Dreisbach's tombstone was moved to the Zion Stone Church cemetery.

Simon Dreisbach lived through the Revolutionary War, but did not take an active part. He died in 1785. He was buried in the cemetery of the Zion Stone Church.

A land patent is an exclusive land grant made by the government. The certificate that grants the land rights is also called first-title deed and final certificate. In the United States, all land can be traced back to the original land patent.

17th and 18th century Germans often gave children two names at baptism. The first was a saint's name. The second a secular name which is what the child was called. The saint's name was usually given to all the children of that family of the same gender. Johannes was rarely a saint's name, but Johann was.

The Moravian Church is a Protestant denomination that was started in the early 15th century in the Czech Republic.

Zion Stone Church is a Lutheran church near Kreidersville, Pennsylvania. It was dedicated on June 18, 1772.
Oberndorf is a village in northwest Germany and part of the city of Bad Laasphe. It was in the feudal country of Wittgenstein in the 18th century.
Feudingen is a village in the city of Bad Laasphe and its 13th century church ministered to the entire surrounding area. The church has been Protestant since 1555.
Europeans who made the voyage to America faced a difficult journey of several months.
The Palatinate is a region in south-western Germany. Many thousands of Palatine immigrants were driven out of Germany by war, famine, despotic rule and disease. They were attracted to Pennsylvania by the first settlers who sent back favorable reports.
Pennsylvania German families took an active role in the American Revolution in Northampton County.
European and indiginous American fought fierce battles as the Europeans expanded their territory.


Lehigh County, Pennsylvania was first settled about 1730 and officially constituted in 1812 with the division of Northampton County.

History of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania

Simon Dreisbach was born Aug. 7, 1698 in Witgenstein on the Danube, near Ratisbon, now Bavaria, and came to America Sept. 20, 1743, at the age of 45. He settled in Lehigh township, Northampton county, where he died March 21, 1785, and was buried at Kreidersville Stone church. He and his wife Mary, had sons: Jost, Adam, John and Simon.

After the Thirty Years War, from 1618-1648, Bavaria [Bayern] was devastated. The depopulated countryside slowly filled with people from other areas including many who left their homes for religious reasons. Bavaria took in Exulanten who were, protestant religious refugees from Catholic, Austria. Church records included the notation "aus dem Ländlein ob der Enns" which meant they were from Austria.
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©Roberta Tuller 2023
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