Scholla: Catherine Larisch July 31, 1942

Catherine Larisch Indian Captive 7/31/1942

Piece by piece the story of Berks colonial history is taking shape. After nearly two centuries of neglect a revived interest on the part of many persons has begun to retrieve the scattered fragment to place them in the record. One of the unique findings came to light a few weeks ago when Miss Edna Albert of Gardners, translated an inscription written in German on the reverse side of an old Taufschein. The discovery of the inscription was made by William Allen Wood, of Indianapolis, the owner of the old birth certificate. He sent the message to Miss Gardner for translation and the following story came to light.

During one of the Indian outrages which occurred in the Blue Mountains of northwestern Berks in 1755 a beautiful maiden named Catherin Larisch was carried off by the Indians. The girl’s mother was slain in the massacre and a brother and sister were taken captive as well as the oldest daughter of the house. After a time the other children were released and returned to the settlements but, because of her unusual beauty, the Indians refused to set Catherine free. The girl acted as the servant of the chief until she was rescued by a group of men who were surveying the Ohio country.

One of the surveyors made the captive girl his ward and brought her to his home in Philadelphia where she lived the life of a refined young lady of leisure, as a member of an aristocratic family. Her benefactor had hopes of making a match by having his ward marry his own son. But Catherine Larisch had never forgotten her childhood romance with a lad named Peter Schaeffer of Fort Dietrich Snyder, Berks County. Ever solicitous for the girl’s happiness, her guardian set out to find the Schaeffer boy. The Schaeffer family meanwhile had joined the trek to Penn’s Creek in present day Snyder County. Peter was located and the happy reunion culminated in marriage in Philadelphia.

Eight children were born to the union. One of the daughter’s married George Boyer who moved to Haines Township in Centre County, Ohio, in 1805. Mrs. Peter Schaeffer spent her declining years in the home of the Boyers in Ohio and died there in August, 1818, aged 75 years.

Historical Marker for Fort Dietrich-Snyder located off Route 183 near the Appalachian Trail. Courtesy of Luke David Sutliff.
Historical Marker for Fort Dietrich-Snyder located off Route 183 near the Appalachian Trail. Courtesy of Luke David Sutliff.

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