On a crisp sunny day in Oct. 2004. the Color Guard of the Philadelphia-Continental Chapter, National Society Sons of the American Revolution, dressed in the full regalia of George Washington's Life Guards, unfurled their flags and approached the gravestone of George Adam Egolf behind the Falkner Swamp United Church of Christ.By the grave was an assembly of Egolf descendents from states all over the country including Florida, Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Washington, New Jersey, and, of course, Pennsylvania. Egolf has thousands of descendents from coast to coast. The occasion was the dedication of a plaque denoting George Adam Egolf as "Patriot."
The Bluebonnet Chapter Texas Sons of the American Revolution were the sponsors for the acceptance of George Adam Egolf as a patriot.The ceremony and reunion were organized by 7th generation descendent Carl C. Egolf, Newport, NY. The Egolf research group, eighteen internet connected George Adam Egolf descendents, have since 1995 combined their efforts to produce a thorough family history. Much of the information for this column comes from their work.
In 1775 when the British had blockaded Boston, patriotic Americans who supported the revolution donated supplies for the relief of the city. Egolf donated two bushels of "Whetzen (wheat)." Not a small donation as wheat had good value; but the important thing is the idea behind it: Egolf, like most Germans, supported the revolution. Not everyone did. Additionally, he paid taxes in support of the war.
As is often the case, little is know of the patriarch, George Adam Yegold, one of the Palatines on the ship "Elizabeth" in docking Philadelphia 30 Oct. 1738. He was eighteen years old and signed his name with a mark. Through the years the family name was variously spelled: "Egolt," "Agulf," "Egold," and finally Egolf. His grave marker spells it "Egolff." Nothing is known of Egolf from 1738 to 1747. Carl Egolf speculates he may have been working off his passage. But somehow by 1747 he had the wherewithal to buy a 106 acre plantation ("farm" is a 19th century word) along the west side of New Hanover Square Road. The parcel was a rectangle with the Swamp Creek as the northern boundary and, in this writer's view, the southern boundry was near the present Orchard Lane.
Egolf would not have been the first to own that property, but apparently the previous owner(s) never had their deeds recorded, so from whom he bought it is a mystery. Where the original Egolf farm house was located is uncertain at this time. Because of the proximity to the road and the spring house out-back, the site could be at the location of the present dwelling of Fran and George Weaver along New Hanover Square Road. However their house, white stucco over brick, would appear to date from about 1830 or even later. Usually as farmers became more prosperous the early primitive houses were demolished and larger ones built on the site. Another possible location could be the brick house accessed by a long lane from Swamp Picnic Road until recently the Budnick dwelling although this house too is of a more recent vintage.
Egolf was buried at Falckner Swamp Reformed church on February 18, 1795. He may have been a carpenter as well as a farmer and left, in addition to the acreage and dwelling, an estate valued at 322 pounds sterling. Worthy of note in the lengthy list of household and farm items on his estate inventory are four beds: "Bed with blue bedstead," "one ditto with high post bedstead," "one ditto without bedstead," "one ditto and ditto." He also had a "twenty four hour clock with case"(valued at five pounds), a "large walnut table," a gun, and quite an inventory of various cloth, kettles, baskets, fishing nets, 16 beehives and other accoutrements
As well as a barn, Egolf probably had a carpenter's shop as there is listed a "joyners bench" (a joiner was a furniture maker), "all his carpenters tools," "1 large lathe," and a "large wheel." A leather belt would have run around the large wheel, turned by an assistant, to
a small wheel on the lathe shaft which would have been used to produce round spindles for chairs or stair banisters. In addition to all sorts of farm tools and supplies, the inventory of his livestock included three horses, five cows (one had a "croocket" horn), a heifer, a bull, eight sheep and a ram, two calves, five swine pigs and three pigs, and seven geese. A very respectable list of property for New Hanover in 1795.
Rev. John Philip Leidich (Leidy) arriving in 1748 was the first minister at Falckner Swamp Reformed to keep records. Consequently, we know only from her grave marker that George Adam married Maria Elisabeth Schaedler who was born in Germany in 1726 and died in New Hanover in 1808. She is buried beside her husband. At least nine children survived into adulthood.
1. Anna Margaret, b. about 1748 - m. Siegmund Burger
2. (John) George, b. 17 Jul 1749; Baptized Swamp Reformed. Sponsor at baptism John George Schattler, believed to be maternal grandfather. (adult whereabouts unknown).
3. (John) Jacob, b. bef. 9 feb 1752; d. 1826. Baptized Swamp Reformed; m. Elizabeth Neumann, nee Merkle (Markley).
4. (John) Michael, b.18 Mar 1754; d. 15 Sep 1847; m. Catherine Schaedel.
5. Heinrich (Henry), b. 1857; m. Maria (unknown).
6. (John) George Adam, b. 15 Sep 1759; d. 22 Nov 1846; m. Elizabeth Hall.
7. Catherine, b. 1763; d. abt. 5 Oct 1855; m. Johann Frederich Herb, 5 Nov 1799.
8. Johannes, b. 11 Feb 1766; d. 7 Nov 1821; no record of a marriage. 9. Elizabeth, b.1769.
At the father's death in 1795, Heinrich (Henry), inherited the farm. Family history says that in 1804 he sold the farm to his brother (John) Adam and moved to Ruscombmanor Township, Berks County where three of his four children must have been born. He later relocated to Ohio. Tax records appear to bear this out. Henry's descendents spread into the mid-west region and Canada. Of (John) George there is no record. According to tax records found in the Historical Society of Montgomery County Jacob Egolf was listed as a shoemaker in 1785, but by 1793 had a 99 acre New Hanover farm. Egolf history says he then moved to Rockland Township Berks County and his progeny spread into Lehigh and Bucks Counties and New Jersey. (John) Michael and (John) George Adam remained in the New Hanover area. Their descendents probably account for most of the Egolfs in the Berks/Mont counties. The younger daughters Catharina and Elisabeth, married later in life and are not known to have had any children. There is also a "John Egolf-singleman" consistently listed in tax records. This author thinks this may be Johannes of whom there is no mariage record.
George Adam would have been too old for military service in 1776, but his sons Adam, Michael, and Henry were in the 4th Battalion, Philadelphia Militia. Militia in those days was similar to today's national guard: activated in emergencies. They didn't cross state lines. Michael Egolf's 1833 RW pension application details the activities of his company which shall be saved for another story.
Heinrich Egold, the farm's owner from 1795 to 1804, appears frequently in blacksmith John Markley's accounts which New Hanover resident Ron Beckley has been translating from the German.
A typical page of Henry Egolf's account: 4 January, 1796
A new chain made-3 s. (shillings) 6 d. (pence) 2 awls made-4d. 2 blind halter bits made-3s.
1 buckle and a draft harness clasp made-1s.1d 6 February
4 hub rings made 13#- 11s.3d.
A sledge hammer ring welded- 2d. 14 March An ax set up-1s. 6d.
A plow share laid on part from his (-) and the coulter wrenched up and sharpened-8s. 4d.
12 irons made on a fish net from his iron-1s.3d. 2 old shoes put on-11d.
A plow share and coulter sharpened a piece on the nose
And a link in a break chain- -1s.5d.
4 new 2 old links in a coupling chain and
A scythe ring welded scythe straightened-1s.5d. 12 June
A wagon shoed the iron had weighed 295#-12 (pounds sterling) 18s.1d. A quart tar-6d.
A plow shear and coulter sharpened piece on the nose laid on-1s. 2d.
An ax set up 1 new link 1 old in a coupling chain-1s.8d. A pair door hinges 7#-9s. 2 old shoe put on-11d.
A coulter laid on plow share sharpened 4#-5s.6d.
A coulter sharpened the nose hardened-9d. A clevis welded-6d.
6 large and 16 small staples on a ladder rack
And 4 rivets and small patches from his iron-3s. 10d.
3 iron wedges sharpened- 1s. -continued-
From about ten pages of this valuable ledger we can get an understanding of the eighteenth century Egolf plantation.
Johannes Adam Egolf (Adam) died intestate in 1846 leaving seven children, three of them minors. To settle debts and provide for minor children the farm was sold by the court and was bought by Adam's son Josiah/Jesse Egolf who lived in Norristown. Jesse paid $3,049.31, and had settlement in 1849. Around this time the property was subdivided into three parcels and sold. Today much of the original 106 acres has been developed, and THP is preparing to build 81 houses on the remainder.
The Egolf family are attempting to organize another Egolf reunion at the Falkner Swamp UCC on Saturday, October 13, 2007.
Robert Wood is president of the New Hanover Township Historical Society. His column appears weekly.