More Fort Zeller Nov 10 1969
out. The Zeller Fort is a well-sized and stoutly built structure. It is two stories high and has a spacious spacious cellar half underground, from which, flows a strong and beautiful stream of clear water, which has its life here in a perennial spring. Heinrich Zeller, in 1745, built the Fort as shown on an en graved headstone within the wall. The building has been kept in good repair. Previous generations had long used the building as a weaver's shop. Came In 1723 The Zellers came to the Leb anon Valley in 1723 after spending ten years in the Scho harie Valley on the other side of the Catskill Mountains in New York. An emissary of the Governor Governor of Pennsylvania visited their colony and tried to interest them in settling in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania. John Zeller was one of the scouts sent to spy out the land. Because of an abundance of walnut trees in the area, the present site was chosen. Black walnut trees were a sign of deep soil and fertility. In the witner or early spring of 1723, about 19 families decided to move to the Lebanon Valley. They came down the Susquehanna River — the women, children, utensils and food travelling on rafts, while the men, with the livestock, travelled along' the shore. The trip took several weeks, moving dowa the Susquehanna to Middletown, Middletown, then up the Swatara into the Lebanon Valley. First Built In 1723 The fort, as it exists today, was not the first fort built. The first house was constructed of logs in 1723. The site of this is a few feet from the present fort. It's approximate location is evident by the many huge boulders, boulders, probably used as a foundation. foundation. This is near the Indian trail which led from the Susquehanna Susquehanna region south to the Tulpehocken Valley and then continued over the South Mountains Mountains to the Schuylkill Valley. Now a part of the Pennsylvania Highway system, this trail now passes within a half block of the Zeller fort. The Zeller homestead was used as • first meeting place of the early Schoharie settlers for worship, defense and mutual conferences. The name Heinrich Zeller frequently occurs in the Colonial Records of that day, particularly in connection with affairs concerning difficulties in gaining a good title to land. From the time he settled in the Lebanon Valley, he was a conspicuous part of the life -of this section. Other pioneer settlers eagerly sought his advise advise and influence. Central Meeting Place The Zeller Fort was used as a central meeting place to discuss way* to combat the Indians. Records indicate that many important important meetings were held in the fort, The first religious organization formed in the Tulpehocken region region had its inception at Fort Zeller, in 1727. At that time, a meeting was held in the fort for the purpose of forming a Lutheran Lutheran congregation. Th« outcome was Reed's Church. A short time later, a log edifice was erected on the corner of the MAIN ENTRANCE — This is the main entrance to Fort Zeller located just west of Newmanstown off Route 419 in southeast Lebanon County. The present fort, built in 1745 of native limestone over an underground limestone spring, was rebuilt after the first fort built of logs in 1723 is near the from the the Tulpehocken continued over Schuylkill burial lot north of the Harrisburg Harrisburg Pike near Stouchsburg. Heinrich Zeller had deep- rooted religious convictions. The people of the settlement looked to him for spiritual guidance. The Zeller Fort afforded protection protection from the redmen while the pioneers deliberated the future of the church. While attending attending these meetings, the men had their flintlock guns stacked against the wall in the Zeller kitchen. Fort Was Needed The necessity for building a house in the form of a fort was evident. Bands of Indians roamed about and harassed the settlers. Indian war whoops were heard frequently and the scalping knife and tomahawk were flourished by these savage foes. Many log homes were left in smouldering ruins. The Fort was definitely built to give refuge and safe rendezvous. rendezvous. The walls are two feet thick and laid up with many large and well-dressed stones. The door posts are about five and one-half feet high and the linted, fully three feet long, are single sandstones. The headstone headstone over the door of the structure, has a slab bearing the name and date of the builder. Elaborate figures and lines have been carved upon the entranceway. entranceway. The door consists of two parts, upper and lower, such as a stable door, and is constructed of double-inch boards pegged together with wooden pins. An iron catch on the inside, soldered soldered with lead into the stone door post, catches the heavy high latch that closes the door. The Zeller family crest is carved in a stone above the door. Ths windows were orig- jially all small square portholes in the wall. Three of these have since been enlarged for the accommodation accommodation of a cloth weaver who plied his craft. The other windows remain intact. The main floor over the cellar is arched below and levelled with stone and earth. Queen Anne Fireplace In the kitchen part is a large and quaint Queen Anne fireplace, fireplace, 12 feet across, with two swinging cranes from.which the kettles were hung over the fire. On the second floor, in the wall forming the chimney, is a mark which, tradition has it, was made by a cannonball, shot through one of the portholes during Colonial struggles with the French and Indians. There are portholes on ths four sides which were for defensive purposes. purposes. It was at this time that Conrad Conrad Weiser, living at his home near Womelsdorf, sent letters to provincial authorities in. Phil' adelphia, asking that relief be sent to the Tulpehocken colony, as it was known. Weiser sum' moned farmers- of the com munity and organized a com pany of over 300. The company was comprised of farmers, millers, blacksmiths and laborers, some men well up in years and many were mere boys. Bearing pitchforks and flintlock muskets, they marched over the Valley toward the Susquehanna Susquehanna and .drove the invading invading forces out of that section. Heinrich Zeller was one of the men who served under Weiser. Story Of Christine There is an interesting story told about Christine, the wife of Heinrich Zeller. Legend has it that she was alone in the house one day and single-handedly decapitated three Indians at the cellar loop-hole on the side through which the water flows out from the spring. Christine saw these Indians approaching, sneaking up the streamlet. She quickly descended to the cellar and stationed herself alongside the opening. When the head of the first Indian Indian came through, the hole, down came the broad-ax and off came the Indian's head. Christine Christine dragged the Indian's body hrough the hole and, in a voice disguised as an Indian, she called for the other braves to ollow. In doing so, they both met the fate .of their fallen companion. When Heinrich returned returned home, his wife proudly showed him the gory victims in ,he cellar. It is believed that the >odies of the fallen redmen were buried in the stream bed. The site of this famed story is a favorite favorite with visitors to the Fort. Plaque On Stone In 1941, a large boulder taken QUEEN ANNE FIREPLACE — Thi» is a view of the 12-foot Queen Anne fireplace in the kitchen of Fort Zeller. Shown are th* swinging cranes holding numerous numerous kettle* and kitchen utensils. Legion Post 55 Holds Annual WWI Banquet MYERSTOWN, Nov. 10 — The ra I. TJhrich American Legion Post 55 held its annual banquet banquet Saturday night in the post lome to honor post members who served their country during World War I. Ralph Kline gave the Invocation Invocation and was master of ceremonies. Letters were read rom Dr. Joseph Farquhar of Arizona and Claflin L. Bowman of Florida. World War I veterans at- .ending were: Herbert Emerich, Allen Bamberger, Ray Phillips, Jack Nevius, Stanley Patches, John Weirich, J. Donald Reiter, John Yeagley, Irvin Showers, iawrence Cassel, Daniel ArgaH, Elobert Filbert, Maurice Leitner, Harry Hummell, John KriM and Charles Hoffman. Also attending were Commander Commander David Strasz and Chairman Luther Phillips. Education Week Noted In Womelsdorf School WOMELSDORF, Nov. 10 American Education Week is jeing observed in the local schools this week with the theme — "Better Education — Your Job — Help Your Child All He Can Be - READ". The PTA of the Womelsdort Elementary (Conrad Weiser) School will sponsor a student book fair Tuesday. Students will be able to browse and purchase books. The fair will be open 6 . to 8 p.m., and books will be on display in the school auditorium. The book fair committee invites invites aU students, parents and visitors to attend the fair. Mrs. Robert L. Shurnan is serving as book fair chairman, and her committee includes Mrs. Robert Hartranft, Mrs. James Reber and Mrs. Arthur Stump. TENNESSEE LOCATION HOLLYWOOD (UPI) — The cast and crew of Columbia's "An Exile" will spend more than a month on location in Cookeville, Tenn., where John Frankenheimer will direct Gregory Gregory Peck and Tuesday Weld. Fastidious cannibals on the Fiji Islands once ate with forks, the National Geographic says. They believed that eating human flesh with the fingers would make them ill.