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by Beverly Bone

Frankenberger Tavern
Frankenberger Tavern

Frankenberger Tavern RoomPublic Room 

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In 1736 a young man named Johannes Frankenberger came to America on the “Harle” from Rotterdam. When he landed in Philadelphia, Johannes was only 18 years of age and he went west to York County.

Johannes was born in Berlin, Germany and he founded the village of East Berlin, Pennsylvania which was in York County at the time it was settled but is presently in Adams County. He and his wife, Barbara Miller, were married in 1745 and they lived in Paradise Township, York County. Johannes was naturalized on April 10, 1753. He was a tavern keeper and a farmer but he also held many township and county public offices.
Johannes and his wife, Barbara, had thirteen children between 1746 and 1768. In 1777, he wrote his will designating the two oldest sons, John and William, executors. His estate was divided up between his wife, Barbara, and his thirteen children: John, William, Henry, Elizabeth, Phebe, Philip, Margaret, Jacob, Conrad, Barbara, George (who is the main subject of this document), Catherine, and Molly.

George Frankenberger was the youngest son. He was born in York County, probably in Paradise Township sometime during 1764 - 1765.  In 1793 George was listed in the tax records for Monaghan Township having 50 Acres and one cow. His profession was a joiner (woodcrafter).

In 1798 George bought lot #5 in the village of Lisburn, Allen Township, Cumberland County. The lot of 36 perches had a two story wood house with one window. In December 1800, George and his wife, Catharina Kitch moved again. George sold the Lisburn lot to David Offley and purchased 21 acres from Leonard Fisher in East Pennsborough Township. In 1801, he followed his father’s profession and obtained a tavern license.

The Frankenberger Tavern was located in the soon-to-be village of Mechanicsburg. His tavern was one of many on the way west that fed and sheltered wagonloads of pioneers. In 1811, after ten years of tavern keeping, George sold all his land in the “Mechanicsburg” area and bought 95 acres in East Pennsborough Township from the heirs of George Fortney.  Apparently, he decided to go back to being a farmer and a craftsman.

In 1821 George sold ten acres and six perches to Daniel Miller for $502.00. This was part of the tract he had bought from George Fortney’s estate. In this same year, Samuel Frankenberger died at the age of 29. It is believed that Samuel was George’s son and had helped George farm his acreage.

Apparently farming was not sufficient to maintain George Frankenberger’s livelihood. In 1823, George petitioned the Court as an insolvent debtor. His land was sold by sheriff sale. Sheriff Peter Ritter sold the 90 acres to John Sailor. The land was in East Pennsborough and was bound by the land of Daniel Miller, William Boor and Mr. Eichleberger. There were two log houses and a log barn with 40 acres cleared and a young apple orchard. It sold for $10,390.00, which is almost double what George had paid for it. As an insolvent debtor, his property included one cow, three beds and bedding, 6 chairs, one stove, two sheep and small articles not noted.

George continued to live in Cumberland County. The tax records showed a George Frankenberger living in either Silver Spring Township or Allen Township from 1823 to 1841. A cow was listed as his only property throughout this time and no occupation was listed.After 1841, no records of George Frankenberger could be found.

George Frankenberger’s Family Life

George Frankenberger was still a minor (between 14 and 11 years of age) when his father, Johannes, died. Philip Ziegler was his court appointed guardian. It is not known where he grew up and became a man. It is believed that in the late 1780’s he met and married Catharina Kitch. Catharina was born on August 15, 1764 in Derry Township, then Lancaster County, now Dauphin County. Her parents were John Michael Kitch and Elizabeth Frantz. The Kitch family moved to Allen Township, Cumberland County in the 1780’s thus George may have moved to Cumberland County before 1800

Although no definitive records have been found thus far, it is believed that George and Catharina Frankenberger may have had five children. The first may have been Catharine who was born on December 27, 1790. The second may have been Samuel, the only son, who was born 1792. In 1800 another daughter, Sarah, was born and Rebecca was born February 14, 1809. The last child born was Elizabeth on September 24, 1812. Thus far, no baptismal records have been found for any of these children.

Through the years, George and Catharina participated in life events with their children; however, the records never define the exact relationship.

Samuel Frankenberger married Jane Campbell on August 13, 1818 at the Silver Spring Presbyterian Church. They had one daughter, Curdilea, born November 17, 1819 and baptized at the Trindle Spring Lutheran Church.  Samuel, Jane, and Curdilea were recorded in the 1820 Census for East Pennsborough.  In 1821 at the age of 29 years, Samuel died. His burial location is unknown. George Frankenberger became the executor of Samuel’s estate when Jane signed a renunciation document, declining the position of executor and appointed George in her place. On August 16, 1821, a $500.00 administrative bond was issued to George as the executor. The whereabouts of Jane and Curdilea Frankenberger are unknown from this point forward.

Catherine Frankenberger married David Eberly on March 7, 1808. David Eberly was born on November 3, 1781 and his parents were John Eberly and Elizabeth Bricker. Catherine and David lived their entire lives in Cumberland County and had eleven children: Anna who married Abraham Hertzler; Mary who married Samuel Cocklin; Catherine who married Jacob Eichelberger and when Jacob died she married Samuel Cocklin who was Mary’s husband until she died; Levi who married Elizabeth Meily Shuey; David Junior who married Fanny Hurst and when Fanny died he married Mary Jane, maiden name unknown; Sarah who married John Heicher; John who remained a bachelor; Rebecca who married Christian Hertzler; Jacob who married Mary Hertzler; Elizabeth who remained single; and Fanny who died at the age of 17 years. David was a veteran of the War of 1812. David Eberly and his family were listed in the 1830 Census and appear to be living next door to George Frankenberger in Allen Township. In the 1840 Census, David Eberly’s family was still in Allen Township. There was no record of George Frankenberger in the 1840 Census apparently he was no longer a head of household. In the 1850 and 1860 Census, David and Catharine Eberly were living in Upper Allen Township. David died October 6, 1860. His wife, Catharine, died on July 3, 1864. Both were buried at the Slate Hill Mennonite Cemetery.

Sarah Frankenberger was born in 1800. It appears that she never married. In 1840 and 1850 Census, she was living with Susan Yeager (Yenger) in Mechanicsburg. Sarah and Rebecca Frankenberger along with Susan Yeager were members of the Sunday School Class of the First United Methodist Church on Simpson Street. The 1850 Census is the last known record of Sarah.

Rebecca Frankenberger was born in 1809. She never married but she was listed in the 1850 and 1860 Census as residing with Jacob Coover in Mechanicsburg. Mr. Coover had three minor children living with him, so it is possible Rebecca was a nanny and/or housekeeper. In 1850, she bought two lots in downtown Mechanicsburg, one lot on Locust Street and the adjoining lot on Union Alley between Stouffer Alley and Locust Street. In the 1870 census for Mechanicsburg, Rebecca was living with her sister, Elizabeth Jones, who was a widow with two sons. Rebecca died August 13, 1872 and was buried in the Trindle Spring Lutheran Cemetery. Elizabeth signed the renunciation document declining being the administrator for her sister, Rebecca’s estate and appointed Robert Wilson, a lawyer, to act as the administrator. David Eberly, Jr., a nephew of Rebecca and Elizabeth, was one of the appraisers of the estate.

Elizabeth Frankenberger married Josiah Jones, a stone mason who was deaf. Josiah and Elizabeth had a daughter, Elmira, who was born November 27, 1848. Unfortunately on September 24, 1859, she died of typhoid fever and was buried at the Trindle Spring Lutheran Cemetery. In 1851, they had a son, Theodore and in 1854 another son, Washington was born. They lived in Silver Spring Township near Mechanicsburg. In 1860, Josiah was walking on the railroad tracks near Mechanicsburg when he was hit and killed by a train. He died March 11, 1860 at the age of 51 years and was buried next to his daughter at the Trindle Springs Lutheran Cemetery. It was after Josiah’s death that Elizabeth and her sons moved in with Rebecca. After Rebecca’s death in 1872, Elizabeth continued to live in the house on the northwest corner of Locust Street and Union Alley. In the 1880 Census she was living alone and Theodore was living in Harrisburg with his wife, Jennie. They had a daughter, Minnie who was born in 1874 and a son, Robert B. who was born in 1878. Theodore’s occupation was cabinet making. There is no known record of his brother, Washington Jones. Elizabeth died on October 27, 1887 and was buried in Trindle Spring Cemetery with her sister Rebecca, her husband Josiah and her daughter Elmira.

The death of a “Mrs. Frankenberger” was recorded by the Reverend Emanuel Keller of the Lutheran Church which covered the area of Mechanicsburg including Trindle Spring, Longdorf, and the town of Mechanicsburg. Rev. Keller also recorded that prayer meetings were frequently held at the Frankenberger Tavern. “Mrs. Frankenberger” was buried on September 13, 1834 according to Rev. Keller. Rev. Keller noted that he read Revelations 14:13 at the grave site but did not record the burial location. It is not definitive whether this Mrs. Frankenberger was actually Catharina, the wife of George Frankenberger, but it remains an excellent possibility since there is no record of any other married woman with the name, Frankenberger, that has been found thus far.

The search for George and Catherina Frankenbergers’ death dates and burial locations has not been fruitful. George’s death was probably around 1841 since he was no longer recorded in the tax records after that date. There are a few possibilities for their unknown grave site. One is the Trindle Spring Lutheran Cemetery, but with no surviving tombstone. Another possibility is the Cedar Hill Cemetery which was active during their life time but was abolished in the late 1800’s. This cemetery was located at the corner of West Main and West Streets. Of course, with no definitive documentation found thus far, these scenarios are simply conjecture on the part of the writer.