This series is dedicated to the memory of Leona Sabia, whose life is a major part of this series.
Recently, we were contacted by Ms. Lila Sabia, a longtime reader of our columns. Her family lineage in local history traces back to the pre-Revolutionary era. I requested she share some family history with our readers.
“Our family tree goes back to Sept. 28, 1732, with the birth of Heinrich Kohl,” she wrote. “Kohl was born in the Palatinate in Germany in 1732. His dream was to immigrate to colonial America. He came to America at age 18 on the ship Hero, which docked in Philadelphia.”
Why did Heinrich and his neighbors come to America? For many years, in what is now Germany, they faced political and religious wars. There was a period in their history known as the Thirty Years War as a result. Large tracts of rich farmland was abandoned, crippling the country.
The Kohls heard that Penn’s Province, in what became Pennsylvania, was a land that promised opportunity and religious freedom. The first wave of immigrants settled in Saucon Valley in 1718. One of those immigrants, also from the Palatinate, was Johan Oberle.
Mr. Larry Oberly, our friendly photographer, is a direct descendant of Johan Oberle. Soon, the Germans moved into Bethlehem, Nazareth and Allen Township.
The Kohls first settled in Allentown, but soon they moved to Allen Township. The Kohls, as most Germans, were farmers. They knew and loved good ground, good soil. They were here to stay, building sturdy homes and barns. Their lives would revolve around the family and farm. Their chief contribution was the promotion of agriculture, in which they exceeded all other racial groups. The Germans were religious, conservative and frugal. They helped lay the foundation of farming in our state.
The Kohls eventually purchased a farm in Allen Township. Heinrich’s 146-acre farm was along Indian Creek. The farm was large for this period of history; therefore, most families were large. They all worked on the farm as horsepower and manual labor were needed for a productive farm.
A portion of the land was called “the Indian tract,” which contained 6,500 acres that was set aside by William Penn for an Indian reservation. The plan never materialized.
“Allen Township Memories” also states Kohl used a water wheel for power, which he utilized to operate a powder mill. I wonder if any of this powder was used by the local militia during the French and Indian War and later the Revolutionary War.
Mr. Kohl married Christina Althaus. She was born in 1748. Heinrich and Christina had seven children. The close-knit family worked together in their fields and barns. The farm is located on Indian Trail Road one mile east of Kreidersville. Today, Alicia Howard resides on the former farm.
In two weeks: We remember the clouds of war.