Scholla: Leonard Rieth, Pioneer June 1942

Leonard Rieth, Pioneer

Six years before Conrad Weiser migrated from the Schoharie settlement in New York to make his home in Tulpehocken, Leonard Rieth led a band of 33 families into the broad valley that forms between the Blue and South mountains. In paying tribute to Conrad Weiser we sometimes forget that others shared the glory of those early years and Leonard Rieth was one of them.

Three Rieth brothers, Adam, Michael, and Leonhard, were members of the group of distressed Palatines who found their way to New York province in 1710 after suffering terrible hardships. For some time there was doubt about the name Rieth, because it did not appear on the printed lists of Palatines but recent research along these lines reveal that scholars misread the Niederlandish script on the original records of the ship lists of Palatines being transported from Rotterdam to London in 1709. The Rieth’s were among them but the first letter of the name was interpreted as a V instead of an R.

Leonhard Rieth was naturalized at Albany in 1715. His naturalization papers bore the signatures of two prominent names in New York, namely those of Peter Schuyler and Phillip Livingstone. When the trek to Pennsylvania began, in 1723, Leonhard was the acknowledged leader of the vanguard of Tulpehocken settlers. He took up 1,000 acres of land where the Millbach creek joins with the Tulpehocken, near present-day Stouchsburg. His house was built about a quarter of a mile below the junction of the two streams.

The name Rieth has been perpetuated in Berks history, largely through the erection of Rieth, or Reed Church in 1727. The original church the oldest Lutheran church outside of Philadelphia,  stood upon a rising slop of land north of the Tulpehocken, on land donated by the Rieth’s. The churchyard is still there and the John Reed family of Stouchsburg, direct descendants of Leonhard Rieth are actively interested in maintaining the present Reed’s Church in Stouchsburg.

The death of Leonhard Rieth was one of the most tragic events in the early history of the Tulpehocken colony. He had erected a gristmill on the north bank of the Tulpehocken, not far from the junction of the two creeks. One day in February, 1747, Leonhard Rieth was caught in the cog-wheels of his mill and his body was terrible mangled. The first duty of the new clergyman at Tulpehocken, the youthful Rev. J.N. Kurtz, was to officiate at Rieth’s funeral. At the time there was great deal of dissension in the congregation at Rieth’s church and one of the factions tried to prevent the new pastor from performing his solemn duties.

Zion's and St. John's Reed Church, Stouchsburg, PA. Built on land donated by Leonhart Rieth.
Zion’s and St. John’s Reed Church, Stouchsburg, PA. Built on land donated by Leonhart Rieth.

Scholla: Thanks to Good Queen Anne November 19, 1941

11/19/1941 Thanks to Good Queen Anne

Two Hundred and Thirty Years ago there were thousands of refugees from the German states of Europe, cluttering the ports of London, seeking refuge from the unspeakable horrors of wanton lust and religious persecution. The great mother-heart of Queen Anne Stuart of England had been touched by the plight of these people. The long purse of the kingdom was opened for their sustenance, while they waited for ships to carry them to America.

Beneficiaries of this bounty were not ungrateful to Her Majesty and the British people, as is shown by the accompanying testimonial which the writer found in the Public Record Office in London in 1939. It is an acknowledgement of indebtedness which we do well to review at this time…

The early settlers of western Berks were among those who received the benevolence of the British Crown.

Here are a few of the names of the early Palatines who finally settled in the Tulpehocken valley:

Martin Batdorf

Phillip Brown

John Christman

Conrad Diffenbach

Michael Emmerich

Lenhart Feeg

Godfrey Fidler

Micahel Harner

Peter Klopp

John Lantz

Abraham Lantz

Abraham Laucks

Adam Lesch

Nicholas Riem (Ream)

Lenhart Rieth (Reed)

Frederick Schaeffer

Marden Stupp

Adam Walborn

John Troutman

Baltzer Anspach

Ludwig Blum

Hans Boyer

Francis Brossman

Nicholas Deck

Michael Ernst

Sebastian Fisher

Nicholas Kinzer

Jonas Kitzmiller

Peter Lebo

Conrad Long

Mattias Minnich

Peter Schell

George Unruh

Conrad Weiser

Franz Wenrich

Frederick Winter

John Zeller

Peter Zerbe

In some cases the spelling has been altered to conform to current usage. Anyone who is familiar with the family names of the Tulpehockens and the Heidelbergs in Berks will readily recognize that almost all of these names still prevail. Of course there were thousands of other names among the Palatines. We have selected those which appear most familiar.

Blessed Land! And Happy People! Govern’d by the Nursing Mother of Europe and the Best of Queens! Whose unbounded Mercy and Charity has receiv’d us, despicable Strangers from afar off, into Her own Dominions where we have found a Supply of all things necessary to our present Subsistence; for which we bless and praise Almighty God, the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty and all Her Good Subjects, from the highest Degree to those of the meanest Capacity; and to sincerely and faithfully promise to our utmost Powers for the Future to render ourselves Thankful to God and Serviceable to Her Majesty and all her good subjects, in what way soever Her Goodness is pleas’d to dispose of Us:

And, in the meantime, to be instant in our prayers, that God would return the Charity of well disposed people a thousand-fold into their own Bosoms, which is all the Requittal that can, at present, be made by us poor distressed Protestant Palatines.


1710 A.D.

Queen Anne. Portrait by Michael Dahl, 1705
Queen Anne. Portrait by Michael Dahl, 1705