Friday, February 21, 2014

Johan Heinrich Rasley (1761 - ??)

A record of the birth of John Henry Rasley is found in the  baptism records of the Tohickon congregation of Bucks County. The record was originally written in German and in the old German script.  The English transcription shows: “Johan Heinrich Rossly born Feb. 17, 1761, bap., Mar 7, 1761."  His parents names are given as Conrad Rossly and Maria Magdalena.    Sponsors were Henry Frey and Margaret Weyerbach.  This record clearly establishes him as the son of Conrad and Magdalena.  Throughout his life he was known as Henry Rasley.

The Rasley family historian, Gladys Gardner, now deceased, of Kintnersville, Pennsylvania  provided the ancestry account of Henry Rasley from the family records which she kept.  The Rasley family has held summer reunions in the Slate Belt Area of Northampton Co., Pennsylvania since 1910.

Henry grew up in a family of seven siblings, he being the second born. The family lived in the area of Williams and Lower Saucon Townships.   By 1777 when he was 16 years old  he  aligned himself with the Militia of Northampton County, Pennsylvania. 

The Pennsylvania Archives 5th  Series,  Volume 8  provides documentation of his  service as  a  Private 7th  Class in the 1st  Battalion, 1st  Company of the Northampton County Militia.  The 1st  Battalion in Northampton County  was formed in Williams and Lower Saucon Townships in 1777 under  Colonel  George Hubler.  Like all Battalions it remained active for a term of three years when  a new Battalion was organized. You can read about how the Revolutionary War Militia was organized on  the  Pennsylvania State Archives page.  Joseph Frey was elected Captain of the First Battalion of Northampton Co. in 1777. 

By 1782 his division of the Militia was reorganized into the 4th Battalion under Lt. Col. Philip Boehm.   Captain Anthony Larch was the leader of the 1st Company  in which  Henry Rassly  was a member of the 7th class.

While this card shows “Inactive Duty” we can still understand that  Henry made himself available for service for a period of at least 5 years and very probably for the duration of the Revolutionary War.       

John Henry Rasley married Anna Elizabeth  Schmell about 1788.  While little is known about her, it has been determined that she was the daughter of John Michael Schmell.  Evidence of this relationship is found in the will of John Michael Schmell of Bucks County.  “ March 16, 1795  , michael smell, haycock twp. died sept 1794. left 7 children;  michael, phillip, george, mary, w/o john resly, elizabeth, w/o henry resly, margaret, w/o jacob schoch and susanna, (a minor).”   Of interest in this record is that we learn that  sisters,  Mary  and Elizabeth Schmell married  Rasley brothers, John and Henry.   

Henry and Elizabeth became the parents of 13 children.  The first of the children were  born in Lower Saucon Township.   John H., June 17, 1789; Anna Margaret, Oct. 16, 1790; Magdalena,  June 22, 1792;  Jacob,  March 23, 1794;  Johan Heinrich Rasely  Jr., (aka Henry Rasley)  who was born on September 2,  1795, married Jane Ayers and is my  4th great grandfather; and  Elizabeth, March 4, 1797.  Sometime after the birth of  Elizabeth  the family relocated in  Upper Mt. Bethel Township, Northampton Co, Pa. where the last five children were born.  Samuel, Feb. 26, 1799; Conrad, Nov. 26, 1800;  Katherine,  June 13, 1802;   Susanna, Feb. 28, 1804; Jude, Dec. 28, 1805; Anna Maria, Sept. 15, 1807; and Judith, 1808. 

The mystery of where these two souls, Henry and Elizabeth, are buried has not been solved.  I have not been able to find death dates for  them either.  If anyone can shed light on this I welcome your input. Henry and Jane Ayers Rasley were my 4th great grandparents. Their daughter Sarah married William McEwen.  Sarah and William had a son, she named Henry, to honor her father and grandfather.  Henry McEwen married Clara Illick.  They were the grandparents of my mother, Lois McEwen Hughes.

These books are available for research at the Marx History Room of the Easton Library, Easton,  Pennsylvania.
  • Pennsylvania Archives 5th Series, Vol. 8

  • Church-book of the Reformed Congregation in Lower Sauconheim : to be used for the congregation to record the births, baptisms, marriages and deaths, also for confirmation, began in the year 1756.

  • Church record of the Lutheran and Reformed congregations in Upper Mount Bethel Township, Northampton County, 1774-1833 / copied by Wm. J. Hinke.

  • A history of the Tohickon Union Church, Bedminster township, Bucks county, Pennsylvania : with copy of church records, Reformed congregation, 1745-1869, Lutheran congregation, 1749-1840; prepared and translated at the request of the Pennsylvania German Society.

                                  Please see this list of all My Revolutionary War Ancestors.
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Friday, February 14, 2014

Centerville, Pennsylvania, 1874

Ever wonder what life was like in a rural area 140 years ago?  My church, Trinity United Church of Christ, is located in Centerville. Many of my ancestors hail from Northampton County, Pennsylvania and the area surrounding Centerville in Upper Mt.  Bethel Township.   So when this newspaper clipping was recently given to me, I found the musings of the unknown poet to be very interesting indeed.    It was originally published in the Easton Argus on May 6, 1874, but there is no date given or paper identified for this reprint of the poem, "Ho, For Centerville".  The poem talks of people and places in the village of Centerville, also known as Stone Church, located in Upper Mt.  Bethel Township, Northampton Co., Pennsylvania.

                             Ho!  For Centerville

O! say shall I tell you about Centerville,
How it's built partly in a vale and partly is on a hill,
We have a stream but too small its mission to fill,
Consequently we have no factory, neither a mill.

A tannery to tan our leather we have got,
It tans when its cold and it tans when its hot,
We have an enterprising shoemaker always in his shop,
Ready to accommodate lady, gentleman or fop.

One hotel we have, in dimensions it does well,
For accommodations you must stop and then you can tell,
A blacksmith we have got of him I must tell,
That he shoes our horses and does it well.

Three preachers we have of churches the same,
But the way they quarrel and fight tis a public shame,
If we haint all good Christians I wonder who's to blame,
For the sinner stands aloof in this senseless church fighting campaign.

Of old maids, it beats all creation who are wishing for another occupation,
We have nearly enough to supply a foreign nation,
Of widows we run still higher in multiplication,
For we have enough to supply the centennial with a donation.

We have a jolly fat doctor, somewhat resembling a Quacker,
Two or three school teachers and a lively undertaker,
One neglected school house, standing on half an acre,
One spavined old politician and an axe handle maker.

Two milliner shops one sees as he passes
They vie with each other in fitting up our lasses,
Two stores we have that sell dry goods to the masses,
And a curly-headed clerk to measure out molasses.

We have three society meetings in all,
The Odd Fellows, Mechanics and Grangers all meet in one hall,
Our squire in office haint so very tall,
But then he runs a store beneath it all.

A ladies fair and festival the first week in July we are promised, that's one thing,
On the fourth, speeches, fireworks, fantastic parade and balloon ascensions and other things,
At the head of all this is our stone-cutter, the patriotic tea-come ton,
For the people to enjoy themselves he always gets up some fun.

The fame of Pompeii and the glory of Rome,
With us can't compare, when we're all at home,
About one hundred and fifty souls in number can be shown,
By counting street-trotter, store-lounger, gambler, blosard, worker and drone.

         Undated postcard  of Stone Church, PA also known as Centerville. This photo is looking south.            The map below shows Centerville from the opposite direction.

This Map of Centerville was taken from the  Atlas of Northampton County, Pennsylvania, 1874.  The Atlas was reprinted by the Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society in 1990.  Look closely at the map and you will see the names of home owners in town, the churches and various places of business.  Trinity United Church of Christ, known as Christ Reformed back then,  is identified as Luth. & Ref Ch. (Lutheran and Reformed Church) on the map. The Luth. & Ref. Cemetery is now known as The Old Union Cemetery.  A list of the burials in the Old Union Cemetery can be found here.  St. Paul's Lutheran Church is now a private home. The Methodist church burned down and Christ Lutheran Church was built in 1910 where the Centerville Hotel is located on the map.

WOW... a friend just sent a picture of the 1860 map of Centerville.  Here it is.  Nice to see the changes in 10 or so years.

Recently found an article from The Morning Call , December 25, 1994,  by Denise Reaman. 

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hans Conrad Rosli (Rasley) (1726 - 1794)

The son of immigrant ancestors, Hans Conrad was 13 years old when he arrived in North America on board the Ship Jamaica Galley, February 7, 1739, with his parents, Hans Conrad Rosli and Barbara Egg Rosli.  The family, from Eshenburg, Switzerland included his brother, Hans Rudolph and sister Susanna.  He is known in the family records as Conrad Rosli II.  Rosli, Roesly, Rasley, Rasely, Raseley, Raisley, Raesly, Racely are all spellings of this family name.

Conrad Rosli II was born October 18, 1726. By the time he was 32 years old he was married to Magdalena.   It is possible that he spent the 19 years from the time of his arrival here establishing himself and helping his parents do the same. They were living in Lower Saucon Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania.

By the time of the up rise of the American Revolution, Hans Conrad was an elderly man.  He, like all citizens of the colonies, was required to sign the Oath of Allegiance which made it possible to determine the strength of the patriot movement and to identify the loyalists. Men who signed the oath so declared their independence from England which meant they were guilty of treason under English law.  This was not taken lightly.  Those persons choosing not to sigh, the Loyalists or Tories,  were in danger of having their lands confiscated by the Americans.

The DAR recognizes Conrad Rasley for Patriotic Service which, basically means that he signed the oath, which begins, "I do swear that I renounce and refuse all allegiance to George the Third, king of Great Britain, his heirs and successors; and that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a free and independent State, and that I will not at any time do or cause to be done any matter or thing that will be prejudicial to the freedom and independence thereof, as declared by Congress and also, that I will discover and make known to some one justice of the peace of said State all treasons or traitorous conspiracies which I now know or hereafter shall know to be formed against this or any of the United States of America."  Once sighed, the Patriot was given  a certificate, like this one signed by Alexander Hamilton,  to carry to show proof of his loyalty.

Oath of Allegiance, Alexander Hamiliton

Conrad Rasely is listed as the head of family on the 1790 Census in Lower Saucon Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania.  At that time there are 6 males over the age of 16 and one male under 16 years of age.  There are also 3 females in his family unit.

On January 5, 1795 his will was probated in Easton.  “Estate of Conrad Roesly, died last May 1 Lower Saucon, widow, Magdalena, children, John, eldest son, Henry, Jacob, Conrad, Joseph, Catharine, wife of Philip Wagener, Elizabeth,  w/o Rev John Mann.”   His known children were Johannes, born July 27, 1758;  John Henry, born February 17, 1761;  Jacob, born  November  29, 1767;  Conrad, born August 17, 1770;  Joseph, born  November  13, 1772; Catherine, born circa 1774;  and Elizabeth born circa 1776.

He was buried  May 21, 1794 in Christ Union/Reformed Church Cemetery in, Lower Saucon Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania.  The records indicate  that Conrad was the age of 67 years, 7 months and 3 days when he died.

His son, John Henry, born, 1761 had a son Henry who married Jane Ayers.  Their daughter  Sarah married William McEwen and were the great, great grandparents of my mother Lois McEwen Hughes. 


1. Strassburger & Hinke's Pennsylvania German Pioneers, 1934, by the Pennsylvania German Society, Norristown, PA.

2. National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, online research,

                            Please see this list of all My Revolutionary War Ancestors

I welcome your comments. Please consider joining this BLOG as a follower or member.
This page  © 2014, Cynthia H. Smith

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