History

Items of Historical Interest Regarding
The Point Phillips Hotel & Store and the Village of Point Phillips

The property on which the Point Phillips Hotel now stands was originally warranted to Nicholas Heil and his wife Maria by the Proprietors of Pennsylvania on December 15, 1749. The son of a linen weaver, Johann Nickel (Nicholas) Heil was born in Meisenheim, Germany in November 1715. In Nov 14, 1741, he married Maria Margaretta Theisen, the daughter of Peter Theisen, a shoemaker in Meisenheim. Maria was born about 1720, in nearby Medard. In 1742, Nicholas and Maria arrived in Philadelphia aboard the ship Robert and Alice and settled in Northampton County.

Nicholas and Maria Heil were just beginning to scrape out an existence on their tracts at the headwaters of the Hokendauqua Creek in the 1750’s when settlers all along the Blue Mountain ridge fell victim to Indian attacks. Moore Township was equally unfortunate with other parts of the frontier, even if history has failed so far, to make equally prominent its sufferings from attacks by marauding Indians. The traditions of the neighborhood tell of many massacres by the savages, but unfortunately the lapse of so many years has robbed them of all details and made them of little value for historical mention. One of the few records that remain is that given by Dr. Egle‘s 1876 History of Pennsylvania, Vol. II (p.995), where he states that on January 1, 1756, “the Indians entered the township and committed a series of depredations and murders, firing the houses and barns of Christian Miller, Henry Diehl, Henry Shopp, Nicholas Heil, Nicholas Sholl, and Peter Doll, killing John Bauman and one of Heil’s children.” Nicholas Heil and his family fled to the relative safety of the Moravian settlement at Nazareth. In the Moravian Congregation at Nazareth’s diary, on January 26, 1756 is entered, “Specification of all the strangers who are now living in Nazareth: In Nazareth: Peter Doll – – 4 sons and 2 daughters. From here have moved again: Joh. Nic. Heil – – 2 sons and 3 daughters. One daughter is probably killed by the Indians.”

Though the claim is repeated in these early accounts, no conclusive evidence has been found proving that Nicholas Heil‘s daughter, Maria Catharine, was killed by the Indians. It is likely that source of Dr. Egle’s 1876 history was the Moravian entry quoted above. It may be possible that Catharine Heil, who was about 12 years old when the attack occurred, survived and was taken captive. A list of Indian victims compiled in late 1757 upon the orders of Conrad Weiser notes that “Catharina Heilin” was taken prisoner “east of the Lehigh River.” It mentions nothing about her being killed. Nicholas Heil died without a will in 1760 and the Northampton County Orphans Court records reveal an intriguing fact. A 1762 entry in the orphans court records states that Nicholas Heil had five living children. However, a 1767 court entry records that Nicholas had six children. Unfortunately, only Nicholas’ oldest son, John, is mentioned by name. It appears to be very possible that Catharine Heil was released from Indian captivity sometime between 1762 and 1767. So if she did return from Indian captivity, what became of her?

In the time between early 1766 (where he was taxed as a single man) and 1767 (where he is listed as married) Nicholas Silvius, who himself was returned from Indian captivity in 1761 (see the notes on Nicholas at the end of this history), married a woman named Maria Catharine. Is this Catharine Heil? Several points make it seem likely. First, the Silvius and Heil families were already intermarried, with two of Nicholas’ sisters marrying two of Catharine Heil’s brothers. Additionally, in 1774 Nicholas’ wife Catharine was the sole sponsor at the baptism of Maria Catharine Heil.

Finally, there is another tale that deepens the mystery. One of the earliest burials in the Emmanuelsville church cemetery is that of “Anna Maria” in 1772. According to the gravestone, Nicholas Silvius is listed as the “Step-Father“ of young Anna Maria. Could it be that Catharine returned from captivity either pregnant with, or already raising a daughter fathered by one of her Indian captors? In any event, Anna Maria must have been born before 1767, by which time Nicholas and Catharine were married. This may be all the evidence that will ever be uncovered. Much to the frustration of researchers, the maiden name of Nicholas’ wife Catharine has not yet been found on any church or civil records, nor has the name of Catharine Heil been found anywhere after she was reported abducted.

The body of the John Bauman, the local man killed during the January 1, 1756 Indian maraud, was found two weeks after the attack. John Bauman, a married man, whose father was a Mennonite in Conestoga, Lancaster County, is buried at God’s Acre, the old Moravian cemetery in Nazareth. This graveyard is also known as the Indian Tower Cemetery. John Bauman had been baptized by the Mennonites; but, having been deeply impressed by the teaching of the Brethren [Moravians], his father bought land, about 5 miles from Gnadenthal [Nazareth], upon which the young man and his wife were to live so that they might be near to the Brethren “because [his] son loved them so dearly.” Young Bauman was shot and scalped by the Indians on New Years 1756. His father found the mutilated body on January 18th and carried the remains to Gnadenthal, with the request that his son might be laid to rest “with those whom he loved and who had been so great a blessing to him.” He was buried on January 20, 1756. (The Moravian Graveyards at Nazareth, Pennsylvania 1744-1904, Vol. 7 Part 3, Moravian Historical Society, Bethlehem, 1904. Pages 92, 95.) John Bauman’s original 25 acre tract is located just northeast of the corner of E. Scenic Drive and Millheim Road in Moore Township.

Entries from the Diary of the Moravian Congregation of Schoeneck [near Nazareth]:

January 1, 1756 “One man who is living here came with the unpleasant news , that the Indians 7 miles from here, have invaded some plantations and killed also some people. This news has caused some horror and lamenting among our poor people.”

January 2, 1756 “In the afternoon came a man who has seen 7 miles from here 4 Indians burning houses, and he had fortunately escaped those murderers. And those bloodthirsty Indians are coming daily nearer to our places.”

January 18, 1756 “To-day was found the man Bauman, who had been missing since the New Year and who had been shot by the Indians. His own father found him. The corpse was taken to Gnadenthal in order to bury him in an orderly manner.”

The Tale of Sara Bentrin

“In 1768, a young girl of around 18 years of age went out in the evening to close the gates of the pasture. She was a member of the Miller family who farmed a short distance from the [Peter] Doll blockhouse in Point Phillip. [Christian Miller had warrants for land in the area of Derhammer Road, adjacent to Peter Doll‘s land.] A band of Indians carried her away, taking her north to the Wyoming Valley. She was held there for three years, and then one day, while the other braves were hunting, an Indian secretly led her to the Blue Mountain at Smith Gap and released her. In late fall of that year she bore a daughter, a half Indian child called Sara.

Sara Bentrin was born in 1772, the same year that Salem Church in Moorestown was organized. Her father was the Indian brave who led her to safety. The infant lived only one year and was buried in the cemetery across from the present church in Moorestown. Hers is the first recorded burial in the graveyard.”

From: Bath, Pennsylvania. Herd, Tim; 1988. Pages 130-131.

The reverse of Sara Bentrin’s 1772 gravestone reads (in part), “The soulless body lays buried as I am also buried in sleep. Leave me there in my gentle rest. Then I will have you, most beautiful Jesus, so reside…” The validity of this tale has not been verified. Perhaps it is a collection of different parts of local stories molded into a single legend. If it was a Miller daughter who was abducted, she was likely the daughter of the same (and very unfortunate) Christian Miller whose house was burned by the Indians twelve years earlier in January 1756. Interestingly, the surname “Bentrin” appears nowhere else in any records of the time in Moore Township.

In response to these Indian attacks a blockhouse to provide defense of the locals was established at Peter Doll’s property, along the Hokendauqua Creek, less than a mile west of the Point Phillips Hotel.

It is not known exactly when the Heils built the home across the street from the Point Phillips Hotel, known to many locals as the Chubbsville House. However, it is believed to be sometime after the 1756 Indian attack and 1783, when Nicholas Heil’s son John died. In December of 1784, the property was purchased by Balthasar Stahley, Jr. and his wife Maria Barbara (Roth). In 1785 Balthasar received the patent for the 25 acre tract on which the hotel is located, and named the patent tract “Belmont.“ The Stahleys had previously owned a farm just east of Newburg, about 2 miles south of Nazareth. His father, Balthasar Stahley, Sr., the original immigrant to America, was born in 1720 at Württemberg, Germany. He was a weaver by trade. He married in 1745 but lost his wife during their 1749 voyage to the New World. In order to pay for his passage to America, Baltasar Sr. worked five years as an indentured servant in Conestoga, Lancaster County. During this time he met and married Judith Hell at Philadelphia. Judith bore him 2 daughters who died before having any children, and one son, Balthazar Jr., from whom he had 8 grandchildren. In January 1755 he again became a widower, and in May of that year he married Anna Maria Drescher, who outlived him, and by whom he had no children. Baltasar Sr. died in November 1797 and, though he was a Lutheran by faith, he was interred in the old Moravian graveyard at Schoneck [Nazareth]. -From “Eighteenth Century Vital Records from the Early Registers of the Moravian Congregation at Schoeneck, Northampton County, Pennsylvania”, page 48:

In September 1806, Balthazar Jr. and Barbara sold the property, then containing just over 253 acres, to their son John Stahley and his wife Elisabeth. As a testament to the fact that the Stahley’s home was an early landmark in Moore Township, records of the Pennsylvania General Assembly document that the home of John Stahley was utilized by the residents of Moore Township as the polling place for at least one election, that of 1818. The land remained in the hands of the younger John and Elisabeth Stahley until February 1820, when they sold 187 acres and 23 perches of the property to new residents of Moore Township, Philip Gross and his wife, Sarah. Philip Gross, born in 1781, had come from Washington Township, Northampton County. A history of that area reports that a Philip Gross, possibly his father, opened the first tavern in that area in the village of Richmond, in 1800.

Philip Gross developed the homestead extensively. It was during his ownership that first evidence of a tavern’s existence becomes apparent. A tavern license application from 1836 (the earliest date for which county records still exist) stated that Mr. Gross had been operating a public house at this location “for a number of years.” It is believed that it was during this period that the first (middle) section of what is now the Point Phillips Hotel was built. It is possible that the building was originally used in conjunction with the saw mill Philip Gross had established on the property.

Philip Gross owned the tavern here for decades and became a fixture in the community. His property became a landmark to area residents. Where many local villages are named for early innkeepers (Beersville, Klecknersville, Berlinsville), Philip Gross gave his name to this area – Point Phillips. Interestingly, an 1855 tavern license application refers to the area as “Philipsburg.” The first mention of “Point Phillips” on an application occurred in 1863.

The operation of Gross’ Tavern was not without opponents, however. In 1840 a complaint was filed with the county, signed by many local residents stating “…that the said Philip Gross is charged with suffering riotous and disorderly conduct, drunkenness, fighting in his house to the disturbance of the neighborhood…” However, a like number of neighbors came to Philip’s defense, testifying in their own statement that “…Gross himself is an old and respectable citizen and we have no hesitation in declaring it is our belief grown upon our knowledge, that the above charges have originated in malice and are untrue…” Whatever the events, Gross apparently had his license suspended for a brief period but was relicensed in 1841.

Philip Gross died February 9, 1850. His obituary was written in the newspaper Democrat and Argus, Easton, Pa., April 14, 1850: “On Saturday evening last, at his residence in Moore Township, Mr. Phillip Gross, aged 68 years, 10 months, 19 days. He was sick only three days from an injury to one of his arms, and was buried on the following Monday in the Moore Township burial ground, on which occasion Rev. Mr. Becker preached an impressive sermon.” (Marriages and Deaths, Northampton County 1799-1851, Newspaper Extracts, Vol. III)

Philip’s son Peter, as executor of his estate, sold 40 acres and 150 perches of the land to Reuben Barrall and his wife Levina (Silvius) in April 1851. It was this sale that separated the Point Phillips Hotel property from what is now the Chubbsville House property, which was sold to another buyer. Reuben Barrall now owned and operated a saw mill as well as a foundry. There is evidence that the Barralls struggled in these enterprises as the property was sold at sheriff sale in April 1857 to George Kunkel and Ezra Newhard. Among their other holdings, these partners owned a small slate quarry in the township. Three weeks after they purchased the property, Kunkel and Newhard applied for the first tavern license for this building. In presenting the case for the need of such a license they wrote:

They occupy a House in the said Township, on the Road leading from Bath to Smith’s Gap and Nazareth to Smith’s Gap, near Gross’ old Tavern stand. It is also on the Road from the Delaware to the Lehigh Gap…This Petition has been presented for the purpose of obtaining a License to keep a Tavern on a Road which is much traveled, and along which, for many miles, there is no place where travelers can obtain the least accommodation without applying to private individuals, and putting them to the trouble of furnishing it. Roads, also, from various Points, pass this House…The House of the Petitioners is situated near by where a Public House was formerly kept, and at the very Point along the Roads where a Tavern is most required. The Petitioners themselves are good men and well calculated to keep a Public House. The Court would confer a great favor on the public generally by granting the prayer of the Petitioners. April 24, 1857

For an unknown reason, Aaron Marsh, owner of the tavern that is now the Chubbsville House, did not apply for a tavern license in 1856. This fact was seized upon by Kunkel and Newhard and mentioned in their application. Both houses were granted tavern licenses in 1857 and both operated as inns from that point.

It appears that the old bar/hotel room area (on the north side of the original building) was constructed in the late 1850’s. However, Kunkel and Newhard sold the hotel and property only four years later, again at sheriff sale. Andrew Graver and James Scholl purchased the hotel and land in March 1861. Andrew was a grandson of Balthazar and Barbara Stahley. Graver and Scholl quickly sold the property to Absalom Dewalt in March of the following year. In 1866 Dewalt sold the property to Samuel Balliet, who in turn sold it in April 1867 to Joseph Fritz.

Joseph Fritz was the father of a Civil War veteran also named Joseph. As a corporal in the PA Volunteers 153rd Regiment, Company H, the younger Joseph Fritz was involved in action during the first day of the battle of Gettysburg. Company H was comprised primarily of volunteers from Moore Township and the immediately surrounding areas. Joseph Fritz operated the hotel and store until April 1879 when he sold it to his son-in-law, Stephen Trach.

Stephen Trach was also a veteran of the 153rd and received battle wounds at Gettysburg. A “Special Schedule” taken during the 1890 Federal Census records that Stephen was wounded in his left hand and lost use of his left ear as well. During the restoration of the hotel, underneath two layers of paneling and a layer of plaster board, a wall was discovered which was covered using the sides of dismantled shipping crates. Upon these sides, in an ornate script, is written the “Stephen Trach, Point Philips, PA” along with descriptions of the crates’ contents. An 1883 sketch of the hotel indicates that the general store addition on the south side of the building was built in 1880.

In April 1904, upon the death of Stephen Trach, ownership of the hotel passed to his children, Frank and Mary Trach. Their signatures can still be seen on the plaster wall in the rear of the general store. Mary sold her interest to her brother the following October but Frank and his wife Sevilla operated the hotel and store for eight more years.

Jacob and Amanda (Stahley) Deemer purchased the hotel and store from the Trachs in May 1912. Amanda was the great-great-granddaughter of Balthazar and Barbara Stahley, the early owners of the property. In March 1923 the Deemers sold the property to Amanda’s sister and her husband, Thomas and Ellen (Stahley) Eckert. The Eckerts ran the hotel together until Thomas died. In September 1945 Ellen assumed sole ownership of the hotel and operated it another twenty three years, until May 1968.

In 1968, two couples purchased the hotel from Ellen Eckert. The Miles (John and Joann) and the Fords (Thomas and Kathryn). The Miles bought out the Fords in 1973, operating the hotel until 1987. Wayne and Madeline Bartholomew owned the hotel until September 1992. Carol Muffley purchased and operated the hotel and tavern from 1992 to early 2008 when she sold the property to Dan Tanczos of Moore Township.

The Tanczos family has strong roots in the township in general and this hotel in particular. Through his mother’s ancestry the current owner is related to several previous owners of the Point Phillips Hotel:

Both Amanda and Ellen Eckert were first cousins to his great grandmother, Mary Alice Smith.

Andrew Graver was a first cousin to his 3rd great grandfather, Peter Stahley.

Reuben Barrall was his second cousin five times removed and Reuben’s wife Levina Silvius was his third great grandaunt.

Philip Gross was the great grandfather of his great grandaunt.

John and Elisabeth Stahley were his fourth great granduncle and aunt.

Baltazar Jr. and Maria Barbara Stahley were his sixth great grandparents.

Finally, Maria Barbara Silvius, wife of John Heil, was a first cousin to his fifth great grandfather, Henry Silvius.

(Note: Henry Silvius married Anna Maria Beyer/Boyer who lived on the north side of Blue Mountain near present day Palmerton. On June 2, 1757, Anna Maria’s father, Henry Beyer (Dan Tanczos’ sixth great grandfather) was killed and scalped during an Indian raid. Her brother Frederick was abducted by Indians and taken to Canada like another local resident child Nicholas Silvius (Dan‘s 1st cousin, 7 times removed), who was abducted April 4, 1756. A July 2, 1761 issue of Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette features “List of Children” who had been abducted by Indians during the course of the French and Indian War and had now been recovered. Included on the list of children returned were Frederick “Payer” and Nicholas Silvius from “Plow-Park”, most likely a corruption of the German words for Blue Mountain “Blau Berg” Likely “Plow-Park” is the interpretation of Nicholas’s response when authorities asked him about his home. The notice informed readers that the boys were being held at the State House in Philadelphia and requested relatives or friends to come claim them. (Nicholas returned to Moore Township and later owned much of the land between the Point Phillips Hotel and Salem Church in Moorestown before moving to western Pennsylvania in the late 1790‘s.)