In my last post, I talked about the value of seeing the ground your ancestors walked and understanding its geography, specifically how seeing Pennsylvania’s Blue Mountain helped me understand my ancestors’ migration patterns. Most of my Pennsylvania German ancestors were among those who arrived in Philadelphia, moved up to the frontier along the Blue, and stayed there for several generations (although a few families came across the Blue from the north, migrating from the Palatine settlements in New York state). In the late 1700s, after the conclusion of the French and Indian War, they began to cross the mountain barrier, family by family.
Mostly we don’t know the specifics, but there is one charming family story about crossing the Blue. Jacob Frantz (1786-1862) moved his family across the mountain from Lehigh County to what is now Carbon County fairly late in the migrations, in 1820. During the move, Jacob is said to have carried his wife Elizabeth’s rocking chair on his back over the mountain. That chair survived almost two centuries and stayed in the family, with its story still attached! In 2006 it was in the possession of a Frantz descendant.[1. N.J. Hendricks, compiler, The Frantz Family of Alsace, Lorraine (privately printed, 2006), 149.]