Christian Lauffer Sr.
- Born: 17 May 1723, Weisenheim Am Sand, Bad Durkheim, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
- Marriage: Susanah Catharina Best in 1751 in Moore Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania
- Died: Jun 1796, Greensburg, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania at age 73
- Buried: Old Bash Cemetery, Pleasant Unity, Westmoreland Co. PA.
History of Our Common Ancestor
Christian Lauffer Sr.
Christian was born in the small town of Weisenheim Am Sand in Germany's Pfalz area (Rhine Valley). This area was rich with fertile soil and was a significant farming area (today, in 2009, this area is populated with vineyards that produce much of Germany's wines). This pristine Rhine Valley had previously been devastated under Vatican orders to eliminate the threat of the Protestant growth. The Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history. The war was fought primarily in Germany and had a heavy focus on the Rhine Valley region.
The origins of the conflict and goals of the participants were complex and no one cause can accurately be described as the main reason for the fighting. Initially the war was fought largely as a religious conflict between Protestants and Catholics in the Holy Roman Empire. A major impact of the Thirty Years' War, fought mostly by mercenary armies, was the extensive destruction of entire regions, denuded by the foraging armies. Episodes of famine and disease significantly decreased the populace of the German states and the Low Countries. Some of the quarrels that provoked the war went unresolved for a much longer time. The Thirty Years' War was ended with the Treaty of Münster, a part of the wider Peace of Westphalia. Unrest continued into the 1700's and young men were being inscribed into military service for the Saxony conflict.
We do not know the state of living conditions in Weisenheim at the time of Christian's birth in 1723, but when Christian's father, Heinrich, died in 1729, Christian's mother, Anna Catharina, decided this was enough for her family. She remarried in 1730 to Barthel Gucker and made plans to move to America. In 1731, Anna, with her new husband and her two youngest sons, Christian and Lorentz, emigrated from Germany to America. We have no information on the lives of the rest of the family that remained in Germany or possibly migrated to other parts of Europe.
Christian and family arrived in Philadelphia on-board the Pennsylvania Merchant on September 10, 1731. The ship departed from Rotterdam with Captain John Stedman and traveled via Dover. There were 57 Palatines with a 175 total number of men women and children. The ships manifest shows Christian at age 8 with his stepfather Bartel, his mother, age 35, and his brother Laurence. Also traveling with them was his mother's sister, Maria Fronica, age 33, her husband Hans Michael Horiacher, and their daughter Maria, under 16.
During a visit to Weisenheim Am Sand by Christian's 5th great grandson, James R. Lauffer Sr. in 2008, no Lauffers could be found in the area. It was also noted that what was once a strong German Reform /Lutheran town, was now predominantly Catholic. The rebuilt German Reformed Church where Christian was baptized still stands in the town.
Christian's family settled in Moore Township, Pennsylvania. Christian married Susanah Best in 1751. Susanah was the daughter of Wilhelm and Susanna Schaffer Best of Bucks Co, Pa. Christian and Susanah were the parents of 6 sons and 5 daughters which formed the ancestral lines for the Lauffers and related lines in America. Numerous deeds of land were recorded for Christian in Moore Twp. and Lehigh Twp., Northhampton Co.
On October 5th, 1757, Christian met at Peter Doll's Block House with almost all the heads of the households living in the "Forks of the Delaware" and sent a petition to the Governor of Pennsylvania asking for arms and ammunition to protect themselves against hostile Indians.
(See the report on Peter Doll's Block House at the end of this writing)
From the Tohickon Reformed Church records, Bucks County, PA, Christian and his wife Susanna were recorded sponsors of baptisms for (1758) Susanna, daughter of Nicolas Schneider, and (1760) Susanna, daughter of Adam Marsh.
From the Emanuel Reformed Church records, Moore Twp., Northampton Co., PA, Christian and wife Susanna Catharina appear as baptismal sponsors
From the Stone Reformed Church Records, Kreidersville, Northampton Co., PA:
List of contributors to the building fund, dated 16 March, 1771.
1.His son Bardollomey£1-0-0
2.His son Petter£0-10-0
3.His daughter Susanna£0-10-0
Christian was naturalized in fall of 1765 in Lehi Twp., Northampton Co., PA.
In 1771, Christian Lauffer purchased 40 acres of land in Northampton County. He was at this time a middle-aged man, with married sons and daughters. Within the next few years the migration into Westmoreland County carried several of his married children westward, and he followed in 1774 taking his whole family, except Peter. He had six sons and five daughters.
Christian's brother, Lorentz, and their mother and stepfather also remained in eastern Pennsylvania. We do not have much history of Christian's brother. His mother died in Montgomery County in 1772, two years prior to Christian's migration to the Western Frontier.
The oldest Lauffers belonged to the Reformed Church, and were loyal to the God of their Fathers. This was the State Church of the Palatine. They have been a churchly people, and those not in the Reformed Church have united with other protestant denominations, as Lutheran and Presbyterian; they are known as a God-fearing and a Church-loving people. The German Reformed Church had originated in the Reformation in Europe; almost all their churches in America were established by immigrants from Germany and Switzerland. The Reformed Church in the U.S., long known as the "German Reformed Church," organized its first synod in 1747 and adopted a constitution in 1793.
From Dr. Charles A. Lauffer in the 1905 Lauffer History Book: "We know from tradition (my grandfather, Jacob F,, heard it from his father, Henry, Jr.), (John, Jr., the centenarian from his father, John, Sr.), that Christian Laffer lived near Pleasant Unity, but from land transfers we do not know definitely which are his, and which are his son Christian's. From Wills of Northampton County, p. 182, Will Book No. I, John Deter Sr. of Morestown, under date of May 12, 1772, made a will leaving property to his wife and nine children. His son, John, is executor and the witnesses are his wife Elizabeth, John Egodius, Adam Marsch, and Christian Laffer. Hence the date 1774 as the year of his migration given us by the venerable John Lauffer, we accept as approximately correct."
Christian and his family, living near Pleasant Unity, like many others in this area, endured hardships. The privations and poverty of these early settlers was extreme. Salt had to be brought from the East. Wheat had to be taken to the Mongahela to be ground, at first. The markets were far distant. The Indians were troublesome. There was a constant struggle to pay for the land-and land hunger helped to keep him and his sons in poverty.
Christian was present at Hannastown when the famous "Resolutions" were framed May 17 1775. When James Wilson took them to Philadelphia, one page of signatures was lost; so his name is among "the others" who signed. Lieutenant C. Lauffer served in a voluntary military unit from this vicinity, and his sons performed military services during the revolutionary war.
Christian Laffer was a zealous patriot; his son Adam served under Washington, and Peter, being too small of stature to bear arms in the service, was set to work during his term of enlistment serving his country as a shoe maker. Henry is enrolled among the "Rangers of the Frontiers" 1778-1783 for Westmoreland County, (Penn's Archives Vol. XXIII. p, 226, 3rd series). John was under Captain Bonnet, of Mt. Pleasant, and joined in pursuit of Indians who had murdered families along Beaver Run. Christian Jr., and Barthol (who preceded Christian the pioneer, into Westmoreland County), were among the defenders of the Drumm Block, House, south of Greensburg. The whole family was concerned in the fight for freedom. And in the War of 1812, the Mexican and Civil Wars, there were many to respond.
The power of the Indians was broken on August 5th, 1763, near Harrison City, Westmoreland Co., by Colonel Boquet. The Indian Chief Pontiac in that year led the tribes north of the Ohio against the English forts from Detroit to Ligonier. Col. Boquet was sent to the relief of the forts of Western Penna. and having raised the siege of Ft. Ligonier, he marched with a force of 500 Scotch Highlanders and Colonial Volunteers to the relief of Ft. Pitt. En route he was drawn into an Indian ambuscade; Darkness saved the army from terrible defeat. Next clay he feigned retreat, and drew the Indians into an ambuscade, and finally routed them with great slaughter. The mighty Pontiac's grand dream of Indian Empire was rack & when his army was crushed and scattered at Bushy Run.
Yet petty Indian incursions, murders and theft, were rife until after the War of 1812.
In 1871 the British in Canada projected an expedition against Ft. Pitt. They were accompanied by Indians and Tories. Reinforcements for Ft. Pitt deterred them from attacking that stronghold, but they divided into small parties, and these detached bodies fell on defenseless points along the western frontier. One such mongrel band, numbering about 100 Tories and Indians was sent against Hannastown, July 13, 1782. The settlers escaped within the palisades of the fort, but the town was burned. This was then the county seat of Westmoreland.
Gen. Harmer was defeated in Ohio in 1790. Col. Christopher Truby, of Greensburg, accompanied him - the latter a relative of the Lauffers. Gen. St. Clair on Nov. 4, 1791, was defeated in the battle of the Wabash. "Wayne's victory at the battle of Fallen Timber, 1795, forever broke the Indian power and gave peace to the Westmoreland frontier."
We can be proud of our hardy pioneer ancestors, who crossed the Alleghenies to hold the marauding Indians in check, to build homes and protect the western outposts in the troublous days of the American Revolution. Historians are slow to realize what strategic work these Germans did, for the end of their adoption, in the throes of its birth. Their industry and enterprise cleared farms and built homes, and produced provisions for themselves and the inhabitants of the fort towns. And their bravery helped crush the Indian power; Gen. Boquet was Swiss-German, as were many of the men under his command. They helped defend Ft. Ligonier, Fort Drumm, Fort Walthour, Fort Hannastown, and Fort Pitt from the merciless savages and Tories in the British Service. Had these outposts been lost in the American Revolution, our country's claim to the Ohio and Mississippi would have been less valid. For their retention, some honor is due our hardy German ancestors.
Christian Lauffer, according to the history books, is buried at Old Bash Cemetery near Pleasant Unity. However, as the earlier pioneers brought tombstones from 300 miles across the mountains, the markers did not endure the winds of time. Therefore, many of them are barely legible today. Christian died the year the family Church (The First Reformed United Church of Christ, Greensburg) was founded in 1796. As Christian and his wife, Susanna, had eleven children, there are hundreds of Lauffer descendants in the Greensburg area today (circa 1905). As of 2009, we know that tens of thousands of descendants came from Christian. Christian Lauffer's name appears in many family trees found during research on the Lauffer family history. It is hoped that these family lines will be merged as one as the research brings these lines together.
Christian married Susanah Catharina Best, daughter of Wilhelm (William) Best Jr. and Anna Susanna Schaeffer, in 1751 in Moore Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. (Susanah Catharina Best was born in 1735 in Germany, died on 19 Jul 1796 in Pleasant Unity, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania and was buried in Old Bash Cemetery, Pleasant Unity, Westmoreland Co. PA..)