Sebastian Heinrich had the good fortune and the joy of serving the newly started work of the Lord in his neighborhood as a good steward. He approached every challenge energetically in every possible way, and his cheerfulness and readiness to get right to work were an inspiration to others.

A get down on your knee’s prayer

In 1741 Sebastian Heinrich married Anna Catharina Trenseau, and they settled on the first farm on the south bank of the Lehigh River in Maguntsche. He and his wife repeatedly walked to Bethlehem over an Indian path and visited with the Brethren there. From that time on, the work of the Holy Spirit went on within his heart. They both were dedicated members there even before the Maguntsche congregation was established. Sebastian Heinrich was elected as a warden of the Church, and Anna Catharina served as a stewardess.

In twelve years, Sebastian Heinrich and Anna had ten children together. They were of small stature, exceedingly bright, and the girls were beautiful of form. The descendants of these children became so numerous that it is impossible to follow them all. It is enough to say that in every township and borough in the county, the name Knauss is found, and in most cases, the line of descent can be traced to this branch of the family.

Sebastian Heinrich was 40, and Anna was 33 years old when she gave birth to a son on March 11, 1775. This was a time when Americans were caught up in the turmoil of the French and Indian War. The parents named him after the Hebrew patriarch, Abraham Knauss (1754 to 1836, 5th great-grandfather).

Abraham Knauss was born here

The proud father looked at the newborn as he held him for the first time, and he prayed, “Our precious Heavenly Father, we thank you for the health of this child and his mother. We hope to honor your people by giving him the name of Abraham and ask you to bless him. And please, Father, always draw him close to you and direct his path.” 

When Sebastian Heinrich and his brother Daniel came to this country in 1723 and settled at Emmaus, they were not wealthy. Still, through their honest and industrious efforts, they acquired much land from the Penn family estate, and they were among the foremost residents of their time. 

Emaus Pennsylvania 1847

So that the children might be trained in the knowledge and love of God, a schoolhouse was erected in 1746. Sebastian Heinrich and his neighbor Jacob Ehrenhard were elected and ordained stewards of the newly organized Moravian Church at Emmaus. This event was closed with the celebration of communion of the Lord’s Supper. For uniformity’s sake, it was agreed that the sacraments should be administered according to the Lutheran custom and regularly break the bread of life to the hungering souls. Thirty-two new members were welcomed into the Church that day. 

The Knauss and Ehrenhard farms were only separated by a stream that ran between the two. The two men together donated over 100 acres of land to create a hamlet, including a school, church, and the adjacent grounds.  Before the close of the year, a small log church was completed. It stood within the old burial grounds. The basement of this first building was used for school purposes. The second story was a parsonage, while the annex was the entrance to the Church using the steps. Sebastian Heinrich Knauss is therefore known as the founder of Emmaus.

Moravian Church at Emu

Sebastian Heinrich was very thrifty with a good sense of business and a master of numbers. He was small in stature, had red hair, he was a good conversationalist, good-natured, and all who worked with him just loved him. He was always passing out to them fresh bread from the kitchen with honey on it from his own bees.

Bees and beekeeping

He took full advantage of the natural resources that were on his land. He sold the coal from his mine to the local iron producers and helped keep his county warm in the winter. He was a weaver of fine linen. And now he was teaching other young apprentices the trade of wheelwright, and they worked in his shop. But farming was always his most rewarding and satisfying chore of each day.

Coal mining

Through his thrift and self-motivation, he acquired several tracts of land. Some were still unsettled wilderness full of trees and wild game. Other sections were cleared farmland that had been left abandoned by the failed attempts of others to settle there. In all, he was the steward of over 400 acres of some of the best lands in Pennsylvania, and he donated 45 acres of cleared land toward the future site of Emmaus. He gave liberally of his time and freely gave of his means and land toward this object. The ground, including the park where the reunion was held, belonged to the family. In 1763 Sebastian Heinrich moved his family from the log cabin on his farm to Lots 31 and 32 and built them a stone house on the northwest corner of Main St. and Keystone Avenue.

Early map of Pennsylvania 1756

All too often throughout history, life has been cut short by the actions of one’s own deeds. We never know how what we do today will affect our life of tomorrow. Saving someone’s life may cost your own.  The cough he caught while trying to save Moxus and had plagued Sebastian Heinrich for so many years was catching up with him. He always felt worse each fall in the cold and during the damp weather in the spring, but he seemed better during the summer months. This year was different. The cough only got worse, and this time it did not get any better during the warmer summer days. The Doctor that came to see him was in tears when he told him he was dying from a cold, which had developed into inflammation of the chest they called consumption (pneumonia).

The Doctor told him he would soon be with the Lord

Sebastian Heinrich clearly recognized it as the will of the Lord, and he soon would be in His presence. He wisely set his house in order and commended his wife for her everlasting devotion to the Lord. He blessed his children in a genuinely patriarchal manner by serving them the communion meal one last time. Having done all this, Sebastian Heinrich wrote his last will and testament.

I, Sebastian Knauss of Salisbury Township, in the village of Emmaus, in the county of Northampton, in the province of Pennsylvania, wheelwright. 

Being sick and weak in body but of sound memory and understanding for which I thank my dear savior, the 24th day of February 1777, make and publish this, my last will and testament. How and in what manner after my decease it shall be acted with my real and personal estate. Also in the manner following first, so:—

The plantation containing about two hundred acres, but it shall be for grain and hay only which my beloved wife, Anna Catherine, shall have for the maintenance of her and the children that will be with her.

Further shall my wife, Anna Catherine, have the use of the orchard during her natural lifetime upon the land which I bought from Earnhardt land on the hill.

After her decease, it shall be divided in equal parts or shares amongst my thirteen children or their heirs as also the money from the land shall be divided amongst aforesaid thirteen children.

Further, so shall my wife have liberty to keep for her own use during her natural lifetime anything and so much as she will from my personal estate.

Sebastian Heinrich’s will was written in German by his own hand and later translated to English by Lewis Klotz so the local magistrate could oversee the handling of the estate. The will was presented and read on January 29, 1782, before Judge John Arndt in Northampton County, and was witnessed by his sons Abraham and Henry Knauss.

A colonial judge

Sebastian Heinrich was sickly but of sound mind at the time of the writing of his will on February 24, 1777. His son Abraham was already living at the 200-acre plantation on the land bought from Jacob Enernhard on a high hill with a peach orchard. For the next seven years, he paid rent to his mother so she could support the rest of the children still living at home. Then the estate was sold and divided up among all the children.

Shortly after that, in 1777, at the age of 62, Sebastian Heinrich Knauss died in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, and he was buried there. Jacob Ehrenhard, along with many friends and family members, was at his side when he passed. He spoke for everyone in the room when he said, “In this state of heart and mind, he did his duty as a steward with faithfulness and punctuality through all these years until his Creator’s hand relieved him from further duty.”

Sebastian Heinrich Knauss 1714 – 1777

After a long pause, he broke the silence again, “As far as a eulogy is concerned, it is best to leave that to Him who said: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Our departed brother never desired to seem anything else before God, angels, and men, than just a sinner, to whom had been given the grace of God through the sacrifice of Jesus.” Tears interrupted him for only a moment, later he said very softly, “His memory shall be blessed.”

Trying to support and encourage the family, Jacob went on to say, “We must admit that his departure is our sad loss. His dear wife has lost a loving husband, his children a true and exemplary father, and the local congregation a friend and neighbor ever ready to help.”

After leaving the family, Jacob told the rest of his community, “Under these circumstances, our Brother Knauss finished the course of his life, February 26, 1777, aged 62 years, five months, and three weeks. ‘Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, for they rest from their labors.'” Sebastian Heinrich was blessed with a faithful wife, and from this happy wedlock, thirteen children, eight sons, five daughters, and twenty grandchildren.

Sebastian Heinrich Knauss coat of arms

Timeline 1770 – 1789

Abraham was a blessing to his parents, and he grew up to be a man of good character and great physical strength. He followed the trade of blacksmith, and every family in the community knew him by name. After his father, Sebastian Heinrich, passed away in 1777 at the age of 62, throughout the years, Abraham kept everyone’s horses shoed and their wagons rolling as a smithy and wheelwright. He had learned these trades from his father.

A blacksmith’s shop

In 1780 when Abraham was 26, he married Elizabeth Boeckel, and they started their life together close to her family in Upper Milford Township. They had only one child together, born in 1784, and they named him Lewis Ludwig Knauss. Abraham’s business prospered, and like his father Sebastian Heinrich before him, he also saw investing in the land as a wise decision. His first purchase was five acres recorded in the Hanover Township, Northampton county taxes in 1785. In 1798 he bought a farm in Allen, and he settled there with his family.

Hanover Township, Northampton

Abraham took the oath of allegiance to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in1786 before Judge Peter Rhoads. He further showed his patriotic spirit by enlisting as a member of the Fourth Battalion, Northampton County Militia, a civilian reserve designed to repel any invasion of Pennsylvania by the British. He served as a private 5th class in the 7th Company under the command of Captain Felix Good in 1782.

Paul Revere created an effective propaganda piece that lent credence to those demanding that the British authoritarian rule be stopped. On March 5, 1770, a multitude of patriotic Americans approached British troops, and then the troops opened fire on the crowd killing several. The British call it an “Incident on King Street.” The Boston Massacre sparked fury in both Americans and the British by portraying the redcoats as brutal slaughterers and the onlookers as helpless victims.

Boston Massacre by Paul Revere

The Pennsylvania Militia required compulsory enrolment of all able-bodied white males between the ages of 18 and 53 to repel invaders. American soldiers came from various backgrounds, and they had numerous reasons for fighting with the American army. Abraham was recruited into the Rangers, a special battalion of soldiers who served long enlistment periods to protect the frontier against Indian incursions. This allowed him to spend much of his time guarding his own farm. The constant threat of war between the English and the Cherokee weighed heavily on Abraham.

Colonial American military

In the fall of 1821, during butchering time, his wife Elizabeth was severely burned. She was scalding chickens in boiling water to remove the feathers when the large pot overturned. She was unable to get out of the way of the spilling hot water, and she was severely injured. Abraham was devastated as he tried to help her, but she died from the burns shortly after that. His faith held him up, and he told his child, “The light of my life is now in the presence of the Lord, and she is there now shining brightly.” He was like a solid rock to which his child could cling, and he held the family firmly together.  Abraham was a Democrat, and he took great interest in his party. In 1823 he was a member of the Democratic Vigilance Committee, and he was the tax collector for Hanover Township. He died in 1836 in Hanover, Pennsylvania, having lived a long life of 82 years.

When Lewis Ludwig Knauss (1784 to 1836, 4th great-grandfather) was born in 1784, his father Abraham was 30, and his mother Elizabeth was 25 years old. The family lived in Upper Milford, Pennsylvania. When he was 18, his parents moved to Hanover Township, where he met and later married Sarah Minnich. After saving all they could in their first year of marriage, they were able to purchase a 55-acre farm in the Saucon Valley, Northampton County, Pennsylvania.

Lewis Ludwig Knauss place of birth 1784

Lewis and Sarah Knauss were living in Upper Milford, Pennsylvania, when it became the second state in the Union.  In 1813, in a little one-story double log house, their son Edward Knauss (1813 to 1894, 3rd great grandfather) first saw the light of day. Ludwig was 29, and Sarah was 23 years old. He was the only child they had together.

Edward Knauss was born here 1813

At about this same time, John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, was roaming the countryside planting apple nurseries. He was an American pioneer nurseryman who introduced apple trees to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ontario, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

Sarah was constantly plagued with poor health, and she passed away on November 14, 1834, at the age of 44. Edward worked the family farm with his father Lewis until his death just six months to the day after his wife Sara had passed. At the time of his death, his estate consisted of three horses, two colts, seven cattle, nine sheep, five hogs, and eleven geese, which were all left to his only child Edward Knauss. In 1840 Edward married Catherine Ruch, and they had only one child during their marriage. When Amos Knauss (1859 to 1917, 2nd great-grandfather) was born in 1859, his father Edward was 46, and his mother Catherine was 39.

Amos Knauss place of birth 1859

Edward was a cooper and a farmer and resided at the family farm. The coopers made wooden barrels large and small. All sizes of little casks were required to ship products like salt, flour, salt-packed meat, and to safely move gunpowder. The shipping industry used larger barrels called “hogsheads” to send more significant amounts of tobacco and other products from the colonies to Europe.  Sometime later, he moved to Forks Township, but he only remained there for a short time. In 1868 he purchased about 50 acres of land in Lower Saucon Twp. from his father-in-law’s estate on which he then relocated.

Land ownership map

The 15th Amendment was ratified on February 3, 1870. It prohibited the federal government and each state from denying citizens the right to vote based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”   Edward Knauss personally witnessed and experienced some political discrimination while living in Lower Saucon. He told his family, “It saddens my heart to see men struggle with freedom.”

The log cabin where Edward was born was the family home for generations. And 30 years later, his cousin David Knauss (1843 to 1920, 3rd cousin 5 times removed) was also born there. They both had the same great, great, Grandfather Johann Ludwig Knauss.

David Knauss place of birth

David could trace his family tree back to his father, Levi Knauss (1813 to 1895, 2nd cousin 6 times removed), in Lehigh, Pennsylvania, and later moved to Three Rivers, Michigan.

Levi Knauss

Levi Knauss was born here

He made his occupation as a saddler, harness maker, and farmer of a fruit orchard. Levi was a member of the Reformed Church, and he was a lifelong Democrat. He died in 1895 at Three Rivers, having lived a full and long life of 81 years.

David’s grandfather Jonathan Knauss (1757 to 1843, 1st cousin 7 times removed), was born in Weisenberg, Pennsylvania. He took part in the protest of the Stamp Act in 1765 when the people took to the streets to show their opposition to the British rule of the colonies.

Jonathan Knauss was born here

The British Parliament passed a tax on every piece of printed paper used by the American colonists. All legal documents, licenses, newspapers, and even playing cards were subject to this new tax. Jonathan died in 1843 in Northampton, Pennsylvania, having lived a long life of 85 years, and was buried there.

Jonathan Knauss tombstone

Timeline 1790 – 1799

David’s great grandfather Daniel Knauss was born in Montgomery, Pennsylvania. He served as a private in Capt. Joseph Siegfried’s 8th Co. 3rd Battalion Northampton Co Militia in 1778. He was one of the early settlers of Weisenberg Township, Northampton, and was a prominent man of affairs. He was one of the signers to petition the court to establish Weisenberg Township, and he was elected committeeman in 1775 by the freeholders of his county. His occupation was a sickle-maker and a farmer, and he owned 650 acres of land. He also operated a grist mill in 1785. He died in 1792 in Whitehall, Pennsylvania, at the age of 66.

David could trace his family tree back to his great-great-grandfather Johann Ludwig Knauss the first settler in the new world. He was the father of both Daniel Knauss, David’s great grandfather, and Sebastian Heinrich Knauss, the great grandfather of Edward Knauss.

Levi Knauss, David’s father, kept a record of the family tree in the family bible. David’s earliest memories are of his father telling him the stories that went along with the names that were written there. The book was old, and it had been passed along from father to son. Each generation was expected to pass on the history of their family to the next.

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