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Photographic Ramble 



MILLBACH VALLEY. 

(Lebanon County, Penna.) 



JULIUS FRIEDRICH SACHSE. 

MEMBER HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL 
SOCIETY, PENNSYLVANIA GERMAN SOCIETY,, ETC. 



REPRINTED FROM THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, 
SEPTEMBER, 1896. 



Pfjtlatielpfjta : 

PRESS OF ALFRED J. FERRIS, 29 N. SEVENTH,, ST. 
1896. 



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A Photographic Ramble. 

P NCAMPED for a few weeks within the bounds of the Chau- 
tauqua grove of Pennsylvania, upon the shady hillside of 
Mt. Gretna, the spare time when not in forum or auditorium was 
utilized in searching out picturesque bits, food for the camera, 
and recording them upon the sensitive dry plate. 

This pastime naturally carried the thoughts of the writer to 
the beautiful Lebanon Valley, which nestles between the South 
Mountain and the Kittatinny Range, and extends southward for 
some sixty miles. 

This valley, one of the richest and most fertile within the 
Keystone State, is known not only for its natural beauty and 
mineral wealth, but for its historical associations and the thrift of 
its inhabitants as well, — typical Pennsylvania-Germans, many 
of whom still till the paternal acres which were bought from the 
Indians by their ancestors when the stream of German Palatines 
came down the Susquehanna from the province of New York 
into Central Pennsylvania. 

The historical student, the artist, and the devotee of the black art 
(photography) will here within this beautiful valley find enough 
material to supply their cravings. The valley, watered by innu- 
merable streams and rivulets, is dotted with ancient mill-seats, 
many of which are still moved by the large, picturesque, un- 
housed wheels. Here are to be found almost every kind of ancient 
water-mill, the stone grist and chop-mill, with date stones per- 



A PHOTOGRAPHIC RAMBLE. 4 

haps showing some year in the fourth decade of the last century ; 
the frame saw-mill, with its pit-saw and crude log-carrier ; the 
fulling mill, where the homespun woolens were stamped which 
clothed the sturdy pioneers as they sallied forth to protect their 
homes against the French and Indians in the days of Braddock 
and Bouquet, and later furnished raiment for our ancestors who 
shivered upon the hillsides of Valley Forge and subsequently 
forced the proud Briton to lower his colors to their prowess at 
Yorktown. 

Here also may yet be found a " trip hammer forge," with 
breast wheel still in place. A little farther on stands a boring 
mill, where the revolutionary rifle barrel was bored and finished. 

In many a vale within this valley may still be seen the original 
block house or log cabin of the emigrant of old, with its hewn 
timbers, narrow sliding windows, and loopholes for defence against 
the murderous savage. It is not uncommon to find one still 
tile-covered, a precaution taken to make the roof safe against the 
fire arrows of the Indians. 

These humble structures, now vine-clad with mossy roofs, are 
still kept in repair by the different families as monuments to 
the early pioneers of the valley. Here and there even a thatched 
stable is still to be seen, where the seeds, borne upon the winds, 
have grown and in course of time have transformed the straw 
thatch into a sod roof, impervious to storm, heat or cold. 

A few of the old Indian forts also yet remain as an interesting 
object lesson for present generations. These are stone houses, 
built as a refuge for the farmers and their families in case of a 
sudden attack by either French or Indians. All of these ancient 
landmarks, mostly standing upon the banks of a stream, so dis- 
tinct in their humble architecture, and now mossy and vine-clad, 



A PHOTOGRAPHIC RAMBLE. 5 

oft set with a background of primitive forest trees, all present 
exquisite bits of picturesque composition, a delight to the true 
artist, no matter be he one of the brush, pencil or camera. 

To exploit the beauty, topography and historical associations 
of this valley, a party of four was formed, under the guidance of 
Mr. J. H. Redsecker, of Lebanon, a gentleman who for years 
wielded the editorial blue pencil in Central Pennsylvania and is 
well remembered as the author of " Across the Continent." His 
companions were the Rev. P. C. Croll, the historian of Lebanon 
Valley ; Rev. W. E. Stahler, a lecturer of note ; and the writer 
with his camera and outfit. 

The objective point of the trip was the peaceful and romantic 
vale within the valley proper known as the Millbach (Mill 
Creek) Valley. The stream from which it is named, taking its 
source upon the mountain side, gathers up rill after rill, spring 
after spring, gushing from the rocks, until it finally becomes 
a stream with power and fall enough to turn the many mills 
which stand upon its banks, and finally flows into the historic 
Tulpehocken, a stream whose name and valley are well known in 
Pennsylvania-German history. 

The start was made from the town of Lebanon early in the 
morning of the last day of July. The air was clear, cool and 
breezy. The route led from the county seat towards Schaeffers- 
town, the oldest settlement within the valley. After a drive of eight 
miles through a beautiful farming country, our approach to the 
old settlement was indicated by several log cabins by the road- 
side, still covered with the red tiles burned by the settler and 
placed there almost a century and three-quarters ago. Upon 
getting into the town proper, picturesque bits and artistic vistas 
opened out at every turn. 



A PHOTOGRAPHIC RAMBLE. 6 

The town, originally laid out upon a single street, which later 
became a part of the old post road from Reading to Lancaster, 
widens at the intersection with a cross road in the centre of the 
town into an open space or square, where the markets are held. 
At one corner stands the old colonial tavern, now modernized. 
Once the swinging sign-board, as it hung in its yoke high up in 
the air, carried the effigy of King George ; in later days it became 
known as the " Franklin." The cellar of this old house consists 
of a series of massive groined stone arches, upon which the tavern 
proper is built. Tradition states that the cellar was intended as 
a place of refuge and defence, and upon more than one occasion 
well served its purpose. 

Schaefferstown is also noted as having the oldest public water- 
works in the United States. The pure spring water is brought down 
from the mountain side by a series of pipes and supplied to the 
houses on the main street. At regular distances there are placed 
public fountains and water troughs, where man and beast may 
quench their thirst, — thus antedating our modern fountain societies 
by over a century and a half. 

Many are the quaint and picturesque views to be obtained 
along, the old provincial post road as it passes through this 
ancient country town. Turning southward, a little below the 
" square" another public fountain meets our view ; to the right 
an ancient hostelry, a " wagon stand," long since relegated to 
domestic purposes ; to the left several primitive log cabins — 
still happy homes — cool in summer and warm in winter. At the 
corner of an intersecting lane a modern frame house meets the 
eye. This house stands upon the site of the first Jewish syna- 
gogue erected in Pennsylvania, — an humb.le log sanctuary, with 
the Tabernacle of Jehovah, reared here in the wilderness as a 



A PHOTOGRAPHIC RAMBLE. 7 

shrine for the German-Hebrew fur traders, who appear to have 
settled in the valley at a very early day. 

No trace of this community remains in the vicinity at the 
present day, except the old cemetery upon a hill-top less than a 
mile from town, now neglected, overgrown with briars, and with 
stones displaced and either broken or carried off. In the archives 
of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania may be seen a Jewish 
prayer-book printed by William Weyman at New York in 1762, 
such as were once used by this congregation. 

Walking up the old post road beyond the square, so as to get 
a shot with our camera at the oldest house within the town, a 
surprise awaited us. In front of the wheelwright shop stood a 
covered wagon, bright in its garb of fresh paint and striping of 
gold. Upon both sides of the door at the back were placed 
plate-glass mirrors in heavy gilt frames, one oval, the other 
square. 

The legend on the sides told the passer-by that Bair & Son 
were the photographers of Schaefferstown and vicinity, and if 
patrons would not come to the studio in town, the artist could 
come to them and take their portraits, right then and there, at 
their own homes. 

Beside the wagon stood a camera, two chairs, and four pointed 
rods, to hold a portable top screen and background. Here was 
certainly a revelation. While taking a survey of this portable out- 
fit, we were joined by the senior proprietor, a typical Pennsyl- 
vania-German, to the manor born, and who, after asking us if we 
could understand or speak " Deutsch," as he knew little or no 
English, vouchsafed the information that the wagon was built 
and painted entirely by himself; further, that he had been in the 
photograph business ever since wet-plate times, but now confined 



A PHOTOGRAPHIC RAMBLE. 8 

himself mainly to ferrotypes, as they paid better and gave less 
trouble than regular photographs. He, however, was ready for 
all kinds of work within his line, and asking us into his house 
showed a number of prints, views such as farm buildings, etc., of 
various sizes, equal to the average work done in larger cities. 
During dull periods and rainy spells Photographer Bair spends 
his time in mounting birds and animals, his skill as a taxidermist 
being second only to that as a photographer. 

One of the curious points about this traveling outfit was, why 
one of the mirrors should be square and the other oval, or in fact 
why there should be any mirrors on the van at all, unless it be 
for ornament. This was explained : they were placed there for 
the use of prospective patrons to show them the kind of picture 
they would take. 

It was further stated that when one wanted a square picture, 
he looked in the square mirror, or if an oval picture was wanted 
the counterpart was first viewed in the oval mirror. Where sitters 
were undecided just how to be " took " they examined themselves 
in both mirrors and then took their choice. 

It was not Professor Bair who gave us this information, but 
it was told the writer by a by-stander in all sincerity and good 
Pennsylvania-Deutsch. 

After exposing our plates the party left SchaefFerstown, and 
going north on the old post road, were soon upon the top of 
Prospect Hill, an eminence beyond the town, from which unfolds 
itself, at the feet of the tourist, a wonderful panorama of rural 
beauty. The scene is a typical Pennsylvania-German one. The 
clean and well-kept farms, herds of sleek cattle, large Swiss barns, 
dwelling houses set, as it were, in frames of brilliant-colored 
flower beds, waving cornfields, the dark green patches of tobacco, 



A PHOTOGRAPHIC RAMBLE. 9 

and extensive orchards all indicate the frugality and thrift for 
which the Pennsylvania-German is known throughout the length 
and breadth of our country. 

Industrial enterprise is evidenced by the great iron furnaces 
which here and there dot the landscape. As an illustration, it is 
but necessary to mention those of Cornwall, Sheridan and Leba- 
non, as the reputation of their output extends beyond the confines 
of our own country. 

Descending the Prospect Hill we gradually enter into the 
Valley of the Millbach (Miihlbach, i.e., Mill Creek), a romantic 
vale within the Valley of Lebanon. Clear, cold and sparkling as 
it courses, the stream turns burr after burr. Every way one turns 
romantic bits of scenery meet the eye, — comfortable homes, built 
when the Pennsylvania-Germans still owed allegiance to Britain's 
king, houses with stone walls firm enough to defy the storms of 
a century to come, with timbers of oak as hard as iron, moulded 
and carved by the craftsmen of last century. 

A stop was made at just such a house, the home of Eli R. 
Illig, Esq. There it stands, near the old mill, with its quaint 
date stone and legend, which sets forth that " Wehr auf Gott 
getraut hat wohl gebaut." (He who trusts in the Almighty, 
builds upon a sure foundation.) The names of the builder and 
his wife, with the date 1752, complete the inscription. 

The pointed walls, the wood-burned lime, now as hard as 
adamant, the window casings with small panes of glass, some of 
which may perhaps be specimens from the " Glass hiitte " erected 
by " Baron " Stiegel in this vicinity a century and a half ago, 
are as firm as if built within the present decade. 

Many such architectural specimens are to be found within this 
valley, and frequently where no deed has ever been made for the 



A PHOTOGRAPHIC RAMBLE. IO 

land, except the one which bears the " totems " of the Indian 
chiefs of old. 

Royally welcomed were the four tourists by Miller Illig, and 
cheerfully shown through the house. Forced to refuse his kind 
offers of hospitality, we were sent upon our way after drinking 
several glasses of cool, rich milk. 

There is another peculiarity of the romantic Millbach. This 
vale may be called the cradle of several of the peculiar religious 
sects for which the German counties of Pennsylvania have become 
noted. It was here, within sight of Illig's mill, that the Rev. 
Jacob Albrecht was awakened and founded the Evangelical 
Association, which is now spread over the whole country, and 
has lately been rent by a schism, which resulted in a division, 
thus forming two parties, known respectively as the " Bowman- 
ites " and " Esherites." Within a short distance may be seen 
the old Albrecht Church, now endowed as a memorial, the 
founder's grave, and the house where the first conference was 
held. Here also, near where Illig's mill now stands, tradition 
points as the spot where once Conrad Beissel, the leading spirit 
of the Ephrata community of Rosicrucian Mystics, once reared 
his anchorite hut, and here in the romantic solitude composed a 
number of his hymns and theosophic epistles. 

Leaving Illig's mill our path led down the Millbach toward 
Sheridan, where the party was scheduled for dinner. About a 
mile down the creek we pass a massive square stone building, 
reared in a meadow a short distance from the roadside ; from 
under the building issues a stream of water, somewhat as from a 
modern spring-house. The windows are small and square, the 
whole appearance giving one an impression of solidity and 
strength. This quaint structure was one of the military outposts 



A PHOTOGRAPHIC RAMBLE. I I 

erected as a barrier against the savages during the French and 
Indian Wars. It is known as Fort Zeller. The farm upon 
which it stands is still in possession of the family of the original 
emigrant, now in the eighth generation. 

The old fort is so situated and overgrown with luxurious grape 
and flowering vines that no satisfactory near-view could be taken 
of it, and the exposure had to be made from the roadside at some 
distance. 

The old landmark was thoroughly inspected. It is in almost 
the identical condition as when used as a haven of refuge. The 
same crystal spring bubbles forth in the cellar, and feeds the 
stony confine adjoining, wherein sport dozens of speckled trout. 
The same yawning fireplace, with swinging crane and pothooks, 
opens out into the kitchen. Although long since disused as a 
dwelling, and made to do duty as a tool house and workshop, 
the arrangement of the interior is much the same as when the 
muzzles of the iron carronades from " Baron " Stiegel's foundry 
frowned from the loopholes or lower windows. 

An interesting episode connected with the old fort is its 
defence by a German woman, its sole occupant, against three 
marauding Indians. They approached the house during the 
absence of the men and women in the harvest field. The solitary 
occupant observing them, quickly closed and barred the door and 
started to secure the windows, not, however, before one of the 
savages reached an open one. The woman, seizing a meat axe, 
split his skull as he came through the little window, then, seizing 
the body, drew it into the house, and gave an Indian call to the 
others, as if nothing had happened. As they followed they both 
met the same fate, after which the alarm was given. When the 
men came running in with their arms, they found the victory 



A PHOTOGRAPHIC RAMBLE. 12 

won, and the foe annihilated by the prowess of an old German 
woman. This well-authenticated episode is not an isolated one 
in the history of the trying provincial period of our state. 

As the party were inspecting the old fort, the present owner 
of the place, Monroe Zeller, of the eighth generation from the 
sturdy German emigrant, came to meet us. He appeared the 
typical Pennsylvania-German farmer, who had just returned from 
the harvest field. His homespun clothing and cowhide boots, 
wide-brimmed straw hat, horny hands, bronzed face and heated 
brow seemed to verify the old biblical injunction that " one 
should earn his bread by the sweat of his brow." Cordial 
was the greeting; the sun, now at meridian, was exerting 
its full power, and the invitation to enter the cool stone mansion 
was cheerfully accepted. Entering the house a surprise awaited 
us. After inspecting a number of colonial relics, among which was 
a high case musical clock which played the " Battle of Prague " 
with drum accompaniment, the party were ushered into the host's 
private room, the Sitzstube or sitting room of the old mansion. 
On the floor was a plain hemp or rag carpet such as is woven 
during winter months by tenant farmerswho have a loom ; the fur- 
niture consisted of a few old style high-back chairs, and a plain 
oaken bench against the wall. This ranged the full length of 
the room, and was worn smooth and bright by the use of 
successive generations. 

In one corner stood the usual " dish " closet, with a wealth of 
china pottery and pewter dating back to days long passed. In 
the opposite corner was an upright grand piano, beside it a rack 
of bound music. Upon the walls were a number of portraits, not 
of the ancestors or members of the family, but of the more or less 
familiar faces of the world's greatest musicians, such as Liszt, 



A PHOTOGRAPHIC RAMBLE. 1 3 

Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Weber, and others, the photograph of 
the first named, if we err not, bearing the autograph of the great 
original. 

Our host in humble homespun, dust-begrimed from the har- 
vest field, sat down at the piano, and without any flourish entered 
upon an etude of Cramer. This was followed with selections 
from Bach and Beethoven, and Gottschalk, ending with a rendition 
of the Faust valse by the Abbe Liszt. Rarely has it fallen to the 
lot of the writer, even in his extended travels, to listen to better 
music or see such wonderful fingering as was witnessed upon 
this occasion. An offer to photograph the room with the owner 
at the piano was kindly but firmly refused. 

Further inquiry elicited the information that this plain, unassum- 
ing Pennsylvania-German farmer was no less a person than Pro- 
fessor Monroe Zeller, well known at all the leading musical 
centres of Europe from Paris to Moscow, and who, strange 
as it may appear, divides his time between his ancestral farm in 
the Millbach Valley and the gayest capitals of Europe. In winter 
he is a petted virtuoso in the old world ; in summer he again be- 
comes the plain Pennsylvania-German farmer. Such was the 
writer's surprise and great musical treat. 

After leaving the hospitable Zeller homestead, the trip to 
Sheridan furnace was a short one. Here dinner was taken. It 
was' a typical Pennsylvania-German one. Resuming the route 
along the Millbach, the old colonial forge with its trip-hammer 
and boring mill was inspected and photographed. Here the 
visitor can see how the muskets were made which, in the hands 
of the sturdy yeomen of the thirteen colonies, hurled back the 
finest battalions of Europe. The crude appliances, the large 
breast wheel, the ponderous shaft, the quaint trip-hammer, and 



A PHOTOGRAPHIC RAMBLE. 14 

the open hearth at which the steel was heated and welded, the 
boring benches where the steel barrels were " rifled " and re- 
ceived their twist, which insured the accuracy of the bullet's 
flight, — all this is to be seen in this old mill, which nestles here 
in its romantic setting of emerald green. 

A story is told about an artist who a few years ago was sent 
here to sketch the old mill. He expected to get through in an 
hour or two, — in fact, he intended to take the next train home 
after his arrival. However, as the story goes, after arriving upon 
the spot, the hours grew into days, the days into weeks, and 
almost a month passed before this artist again wended his way 
homeward, with a stock of sketches and studies enough to keep 
him busy during the winter season ; and it may be well surmised 
that upon more than one canvas, in the following spring exhibi- 
tion, our old mill found a prominent place. 

Leaving the old mill, a short drive brought us to the Kluft, a 
romantic gorge in the mountain through which the " gold spring," 
a clear, cold, crystal rivulet, forces its way and purls over rock 
and ledge until it mingles its waters with the Millbach. Through 
this forge once led a noted Indian trail. Romantic and picturesque 
scenery and artistic nooks here open up at every turn, offering 
ample food for the modern camerist who is a lover of nature and 
has an eye for primeval beauty. 

Retracing our steps a short distance, our horses' heads were 
turned towards the valley of the Tulpehocken. A drive of two 
miles brought us to the old Berks and Dauphin turnpike, one of 
the oldest " hard " roads in the State. 

Here, within a short distance, cluster the historic Tulpehocken 
churches, known respectively as the Rieth, Ulrich, and Reformed ; 
all of which have a history dating back to the early years of last 
century. A halt was made to photograph the different buildings, 



A PHOTOGRAPHIC RAMBLE. I 5 

as well as some of the quaint German tombstones, with their 
curious emblazonry of skulls, cherubim, hour-glasses, scythes, 
and other mortuary symbols, which marked the resting-places of 
many early pioneers whose names are well known to history, 
and whose descendants bear a prominent part in the annals of 
our country, down even to the present time. 

An interesting anecdote is told about a New England writer 
who once upon a time visited several of these old graveyards. 
Most all of the inscriptions commence with the line — 

" Hier ruhen die Gebeine," etc. 
(" Here rest the remains," or, literally speaking, the bones or 
skeleton — a common expression among the Germans a century 
ago.) Now it happens that the word beine is the German for 
legs or limbs, and with the prefix ge (gebeine) is used as above 
stated. Now the Yankee's knowledge of the German was but 
superficial, and as he knew that beine meant legs, he stated in 
his account that upon every tombstone in the Pennsylvania Dutch 
graveyards it stated that here rest the legs, etc., but they failed to 
say where the rest of the remains were buried, and that he has 
been reliably informed that the old Germans only buried the 
femors within the churchyard. 

By this time the sun stood well in the west, the orb was 
slowly sinking down behind the Kittatinny Mountains, the 
shadows were lengthening and admonishing us to turn home- 
wards, so the horses were speeded along the smooth pike, 
through Myerstown, towards Lebanon, where the party arrived 
while the glow of the zenith was upon the sky. Boarding the 
train, nine o'clock found the writer once more in his cottage 
among the cool shades of Mt. Gretna, with every plate exposed 
and the mind filled with the pleasant recollections of the photo- 
graphic jaunt through the Millbach Valley. '