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Newspaper Article About Philip Gemberling

I would like to thank Duane Gemberling the Great Grandson of the author Francis Gemberling, for granting permission to use this article on my site. If would like to contact Duane there is a link at the bottom of this page.



This document is reprinted from an article written by my Great-Grandfather, Francis S. Gemberling, dated August 2, 1959. Some typos have been corrected, but all wording has remained the same.

Biographical sketch of Philip Gemberling, an old Snyder Co., PA Triarch. A reprint from the newspaper The Snyder County Tribune on March 15, 1901, Selinsgrove, PA.

Below we reprint a biographical sketch of one of the pioneer settlers of this section of the state, the founder of the large and respectable Gemberling family of Snyder and Union Counties.

Mr. Gemberling resided on the farm west of town now owned by H. E. Davis, of Selinsgrove(Sunbury), and tenanted by Robert and Arlington Rowe. His sacred dust reposes in the cemetery immediately in the rear of the First Luthern Church. E. D. In sketching the life and history of Mr. Gemberling, we recognize a home here, a character not indeed famous in the department of art and science or politics and war, or in literature and philanthropy, but extraordinary in the sphere of common life.Though he owed nothing to the schools, learning reading and writing in his mother's tongue, and simple arithmetic, he was not an ordinary man.
He belonged to the community. Every man, woman and child speaks of Philip Gemberling -- has spoken of him for several generations -- and his name has become a household word. He is one of the foundation pillars of the Gemberling host. He was the third child of a family of fourteen and son of Jacob and Catherine Wolfensberger Gemberling. A.D. 1773 on the 27 th of July, three years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, in the region known as Talxenachen, then in Lancaster County, but later in Lebanon.
His parents were among the earliest settlers of the neighborhood. During his childhood, they moved to Schaffertown. In his ninth year the family migrated for that section of our State, known under teh name of Shamokin. This lay within the limits of Northumberland County. In 1782 they took up their abode on the present Gemberling homestead. They journeyed with a family of six children, slowly and with much trial and sacrifice.
When they arrived at Harrisburg, but one house had been built, that of the founder and proprietor after whom the capital of our old commonwealth has been named ... John Harris. A turning ship had also been executed and finished, and a dye house stood near by, under which the family encamped for several days, waiting for the conveyance of their goods. As railroads and canals were not here yet, they carried their simple furniture in a keel boat, while they rode in a slow moving wagon, excepting the mother. She rode horseback. And often, says her son, did she weep and wish for the end. Four days were consumed in making the distance from Harrisburg. No public roads had been made, only foot paths and indian trails, except the man's highway leading to Northumberland, then called 'Point Town' were available. When they had reached their destination, Selinsgrove was not, and no signs of it except a house on Col. Eyer's place, and one on the Richter Homestead, and one on Leonard App's former residence, then owned by the lated Gov. Simon Snyder. In the neighborhood, but few dwellings were planted. All was a forest of fine trees, a beautiful forest far and wide. In his own words and tongue "Edias war ein lust es anzusehen." A joy to behold.
Indians still hunted along the banks. His father took possession of 3000 acres of governmental land, at six shillings per acre, intending it for himself and his posterity, and it remained after a period of eighty years in the hands of the decendants. Philip bought 250 acres from his father at sixteen dollars an acre.
After becoming the parents of fourteen children the father, Jacob, died in his 88 th year, and the mother died far advanced in the seventies. They sleep together in the ancient "Gates Archer" of Selinsgrove.
At the age of 23, Philip married Eva Glass. They lived together twenty two years and had nine children, five sons and four daughters, after which death separated them, taking Mrs. Gemberling to the grave in the 42nd year of her life.In his 41st year of his life he gave himself in marriage for the second time to Judith Fetter, his present widow. They lived together 43 years, and became parents of eleven children, 6 sons and 5 daughters. The number of his surviving children is twelve. Seven sons and five daughters. His grandchildren number 104.
He has more than 100 great grandchildren, and he leaves brothers of the age of 84 and 75 and a sister in her 74 th year.In his 21st year he was confirmed by the Rev. George Geiswite at Hessler's Church, then an old log building, without a floor. He remained a member of the reformed church, the church of his Father, to the day of his death, covering a period of 67 years. And all of his children remained in the same communion with himself. He became a deacon and elder, under the pastorate of Rev. Issac Gearhart. He saw all the Reformed and Lutheran clergymen of the place coming and going.
He helped with his own hands to raise the Old Union Church, the Mother church of all. The churches of the town were all built during his lifetime. His family Bible had remained in the household for ninety-five years. We may say of him that he saw Selinsgrove from it's beginning, and not only that, but the community, commonwealth, and union grow from infancy. He remembered the Revolutionary War as a fact in his lifetime. He heard and saw many of our soldiers, but was not in service himself. He heard many speak of Gen. Washington from personal recollection, tho he never saw him. He lived through all the administrations of the Presidents thus far, and through the terms of all the Governors of our State. Telegraphs as well as other improvements had their beginning during his life. Whilst we travel to Reading and Phila. in several hours, he required seven to fourteen days.
As a citizen he was loyal, orderly, and peaceable, and it was to him a sacred thing to obey the law of his country. Morally he was governed by the principles of integrity. He was taught and taught others, to place as much stress and virtue on one's word, honor, and promise, as upon note and bond.
As a Christian, we can say that he was not a hypocrite. He made no false appearances, nor made deceptive show. What he seemed to be, was sincerity from the heart. He has run a long race, and well.With all this he was full of faults. He confessed his sins, and trusted not in works, but in the grace of God for salvation.Physically he was strong and healthy, very seldom sick, and this strong constitution he preserved until his last. Apoplexy was his end. As a giant he was struck down. On Sunday evening he became suddenly unconscious and lay in a stupor until Thursday evening, when he expired in peace at the age of 86-2-16.
Nov. 9, 1859.

As noted above, this is retyped from an article written by my Great-Grandfather. Some of the math doesn't add up, but I am unsure of the correct years. If anyone knows of the correct dates, please forward them to  Duane Gemberling
Last Update: April 8, 1997 Copyright 1997 Duane E. Gemberling

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Created on ... February 16, 2001