Scholla: Colishay and Alptraums

Colishay and Alptraums

Lest readers find themselves at a loss to comprehend the meaning of the words in the caption we proceed, at once, to explain them. Colishay was a bred of grey fox and Apltraums were a breed of pied hounds used in the fox chases in colonial Pennsylvania.

This is a story of a fox chase in Berks County before the Revolutionary War (1770). Michael Quigley, an Irishman who had mastered the Pennsylvania German tongue well enough to write his diary in that medium, furnishes us with the account of a fox chase, October 12, 1770, in which Stephen Franks, one of the descendants of the Jewish colony at Schaefferstown was master of the hounds.

A party of a 100 sportsmen assembled at the Harvest Inn near the Snow Spring (Schneebrun) of Schparrewele-Barrig, now Hawk Mountain. There were 35 riders, including five women. Twelve pairs of hounds, straining at the leash were waiting for the chase to begin.

The Colishay, or grey fox, was released near the Armbruster house and it headed for the hills. The hunt was difficult says Quigley, because the timber “north of Reading” was not good for hunting.

The Colishay gave the riders and hounds a merry chase. First the fox wove in and out of a herd of deer, hoping thereby to throw the pursuers off scent, but the well trained Alptraums ignored the deer and kept to the trail.

At the foot of Hawk Mountain, there were some Indian graves.

There a panther lay on the limb of an oak tree; the fox circled the panther, hoping once again to throw the hounds off his trail. When the hounds approached, the wild cat moved as if to pounce upon the dogs but again the hounds were true to their master, Franks, and kept up their hot pursuit.

Beyond the Indian graves at the very base of Hawk Mountain, the fox scampered into a hole, only to be dug out of the earth and suffer death at the hands of the master of the hounds.

The brush, or tail of the fox was given to Miss Jones, one of the five female riders, because she was the first to arrive at the time of the kill. The four pads, or feet were divided among the other four ladies.

By custom, the pelt of the fox was given to Stephen Franks, the master of the hounds. Then the entire party rode back to Harvest Inn where a young steer was roasting on the spit to provide a feast for the hungry sportsmen.

Gray Fox. Source:
Gray Fox. Source:

Scholla: The Declaration House July 1, 1942

The Declaration House  7/1/1942

Where did Thomas Jefferson write they Declaration of Independence? This question puzzled historians and antiquarians for nearly 100 years and several old Philadlephia houses claimed the honor. In 1883 Thomas Donaldson established the fact that Jefferson established the fact that Jefferson penned the immortal document in the home of Jacob Graeff Jr., 700 Market Street, Philadelphia. The processes by which he arrived at this conclusion form interesting reading today.

Early Pennsylvania tradition had it that the document was penned at the Indian Queen, an ancient hostelry near the State House in Philadelphia, now Independence Hall. This tradition was based upon the assumption that Jefferson frequently rented rooms at the Indian Queen and the belief was that the year of 1776 was no exception.

In September, 1825 less than a year before Jefferson’s death, a Mrs. Clymer, then residing at 700 Market St., advanced the claim that Jefferson had lodged in the house she was occupying and there wrote the immortal document. Her claims interested one Dr. James Mease who knew ex-president Jefferson well enough to write him and ask for the facts. The following is a portion of the letter which Jefferson wrote in reply:

“So far, I state from written proof in my possession. At the time of writing the instrument (Declaration) I lodged at the house of a Mr. Graff, a new brick house, three stories high, of which I rented the second floor, consisting of a parlor and bedroom ready and furnished. In that parlor I wrote habitually and in it this paper (the Declaration) particularly. The proprietor, Graff was a young man, son of a German and then newly married. I think that he was a bricklayer.” (Jacob Graeff Jr. was a building contractor 1774-1808). From other sources it was learned that Jefferson took rooms at Graff’s on May 23rd, 1776, paying 35 schillings sterling per week. He took his meals elsewhere.

In 1777 Jacob Graeff sold his house on Market Street to Jacob Hiltzheimer, just a few weeks before that lover of fine horses was forced to flee from Philadelphia to escape the invading British, and make his new home at Angelica in Berks County.

Jefferson’s letter had established the fact that the Declaration was written in the Graeff house, but there was still some doubt as to just which house on Market Street had been the original Graeff dwelling. Jefferson was not sure, 50 years after the writing of the Declaration, whether it had been 700 or 702 Market Street. He did remember that the house stood alone at the time of his tenancy. All records showed that both houses were built and owned by Jacob Graeff in 1777.

In 1883 Thomas Donaldson watched the demolition of the two colonial brick houses which stood on the southwest corner of Seventh and Market Streets. He noted the condition of the walls; the way the rafters and beams were placed and how the masonry was joined. His observations proved, beyond the vestige of a doubt that number 700 was built before 702 and that therefore that was the spot where the Declaration of Independence was born.


Scholla: Father Marx June 2, 1941

Scholla: Father Marx June 2, 1941

Father Marx was a well known character in the neighborhood of Kutztown many years ago. He was a drummer in Washington’s Army during the Revolutionary War. The old veteran loved to play the drum on battalion days in the Maxatawny section. It reminded him of his days with the Continental Army. In 1825 it happened that  the old veteran played his own funeral march. A Maxatawny battalion company was drilling and the old man was wielding his drum sticks when suddenly he fell dead. The same drum which he had carried while he served with Washington was suspended from his shoulder when he fell.

Guck Emohol Baltzer!

Soon after the Battle of Antietam the Army of the Potomac marched into Warrington, Va. This was the seat of many aristocratic families of the old South and many of its citizens belonged to the exclusive order of the First Families of Virginia. While the conquering  Federal troops marched through the village a group of young blue-blood ladies gathered on the steps of a porch and jeered at the passing soldiers, calling them vile names.

The Sixth Regiment of Pennsylvania Reserves was commanded by Colonel Endt. When the dough colonel heard the taunts he muttered, “Just wait until Company A passes this spot. Then Nelson Brunner will silence those females.” When company A swung past the porch on which the tormentor stood Nelson Brunner heard the insults of the unfair one. Instantly he called to a comrade: “Oh! See there Baltzer, what dirty stockings one of the girls has on.” A dozen pairs of eyes dropped footward and a dozen ladies scurried to shelter. In this way Nelson Brunner, a Pennsylvania Dutchman, had silenced this female confederate battery.

Scholla Father Marxx. Reading Times. June  2, 1941. Leroy Gensler
Scholla Father Marxx. Reading Times. June 2, 1941. Leroy Gensler

Scholla drum