The Leebrick Saga

The Second Generation

Life on the Frontier | Property Ownership | War Experience | Church Life | Probate Records | Children

John Phillip Leebrick's son, John Phillip Nicholas Leebrick, was born in the old country in 1748. He was apparently the third child among four siblings, and the only boy. He would have been six years old when his dad brought him to America. We can only wonder what his view of the move to the new world was. Nicholas had no doubt heard many descriptions of the wars which had ravaged their homeland and had been told how precious the frieheit (freedom) that they were enjoying in Pennsylvania really was. Since Nicholas was the only son and his father was already in his 50s when he arrived in the colonies, he no doubt had a special relationship with his father, knowing that it would be up to him to carry on the family at his father's passing.

One of the first official records of any Leebrick in Pennsylvania is that of Nicholas' marriage to Catharine Franks(1)in 1767 in what was later to become Dauphin county. (Nothing is known of the Franks family.) The fact that those records are in Dauphin county tells us that the Liebrichs must not have lingered in Philadelphia, but must have gone with the flow of German immigrants to what was then the state's western frontiers. In 1767, Dauphin county had not been formed yet, and Lancaster was still a young county, formed in 1729, but land purchases in 1736 and 1749 extended it's reach to the Susquehanna River on the west and to the beginning of the mountains to the north. No doubt the Liebrichs quickly cleared land, built a log cabin (2) and provided for nearly all their own needs.

Life On The Frontier

West of the Susquehanna and all through the Ohio River valley was Indian country. Historically, the Indians provided a buffer between the British to the east and south and the French to the North in Canada. Both British and French had a substantial trade with the Indians, but in 1753, the French grew concerned that the British were out-trading them. To protect their business, the French built a series of forts from Lake Erie to the forks of the Ohio. The British were unwilling to tolerate that situation, so they sent General George Washington to evict the French from Fort Necessity in the summer of 1754. The French repulsed General Washington and the 10 year French and Indian war was started. This event, and General Braddock's defeat in 1755 by the French with much help from the Indians, made the Pennsylvania frontier a much less safe place for pioneers like the Liebrichs. In fact, in 1756, soldiers were being posted to protect farmers during harvest and soon, settlers were building cellars or block houses for their protection(3). The next year, British officers began recruiting local talent, and British forces began to prevail. Finally, in 1763, the Treaty of Paris was signed, ending French presence on the continent. No doubt, all the frontier settlers breathed a little easier upon it's signing.

At the time of Nicholas' wedding, one of the major sources of non-agricultural employment in the area was the Elizabeth Steel Furnace, operated by Henry Stiegel, founder of Manheim. Stiegel also pursued glass making, and erected a glass manufactory in Manheim. It is interesting that Nicholas' name appears in a list of employees of the Stiegel Glassworks in Manheim. There are no dates of employment, but the Glassworks was operational between 1764 and 1774, when Stiegel was forced to declare bankruptcy. How much this employment contributed to Nicholas' prosperity, we can only surmise.

Property Ownership

An examination of tax lists in Lancaster county also suggests that the Leebricks were in Rapho township before 1770, since they already owned property in Manheim by this time. They do not contain any entries for Nicholas' father, but only for Nicholas. The 1770 Rapho township tax list, for example indicates that Nicholas worked as a "Tadlin",owned a horse and a cow and two "in lots". Manheim was laid out by Ann and Charles Stedman, Alexander and Elizabeth Stedman and Henry and Elizabeth Stiegel in 1762(4). The land was cleared in 1762 and 359 lots were laid out "in town". These were called "in lots" to distinguish them from the "out lots", which were outside of town and averaged about 2 acres in size, but were as large as 10 acres. By 1765, all the lots had been disposed of. The Liebrich name does not appear anywhere on the list of original land owners, so Nicholas' two lots must have been purchased between 1765 and 1770. In 1773, Manheim town tax list shows a horse and cow and one "in lot". The 1775 tax list, Manheim borough, lists 2 "in lots", 2 "out lots" cultivated, 2 corn and a horse and cow. No servants or negroes are listed. He appears again in the 1779 Rapho township tax list and in the 1780 list, is assessed a tax of 14 shillings,5 pence. Nicholas appears in several other tax lists during this time as well.

A search of the Lancaster county deed books sheds more light on Nicholas' land purchases in Manheim and the surrounding area. Two deeds dated February 4, 1774 record Nicholas' purchase of Manheim "out lot" #6(5) and lots #10 and 11 from "Henry Wm. Stiegel, Glass Manufacturer". On May 14, 1775, Nicholas purchased seven "in lots" Nos. 42, 43, 44, 45, 46 and 47 from Michael Diffenderfer. Then, on February 6, 1776 Nicholas purchased of lot 59 from the estate of Casper Scheibly(6) . The deed books also record the purchase of a "Tenement Plantation" located in the adjoining township of Warwick. The plantation consisted of 180 acres and was purchased jointly between Nicholas, Andrew Hoover and Philiph Brown. They paid 450 pounds in cash and signed a note for 450 pounds due 29 June 1802(7) . So it appears that Nicholas was able to gradually improve his economic condition as time went on.

Nicholas and Catherine began a family in Manheim.(8) John, born in 1770, remained single and died in 1804(9) , Daniel Henry, born in 1773 and John Phillip, born in 1775, were born before the country was swept into Revolution. After his return from military service, a son George and four more daughters were born to their family.

War Experience

By this time, however, the spirit of revolution was in the air, and Nicholas immediately took up the cause. His dad may have shuddered at the thought of his family once again being dragged into war. But at least this time, service was voluntary, and it was a cause they both believed in. Nicholas' name appears on the list of men who took the Oath of Allegiance between July 10 and September 13, 1777.(10) By August 16, 1777, a company of volunteer militia had formed from Rapho township (Manheim) and Nicholas had joined up. Commanded by Captain Abraham Forey, it became part of the Third Battalion under Colonel Alexander Lowery. Nicholas was apparently so anxious to be a part of the action that, when he found he would be late to the company roll call, he asked his sister Hannah to stand in for him. It is Hannah's name that appears on the initial roll call,(11) but it was Nicholas who returned six months later as a Private Seventh Class.(12)

On September 11, barely a month after being formed, this battalion was part of the ill-fated battle at Brandywine Creek, fought just 30 miles, as the crow flies, from Manheim.(13) In that battle, the British General Howe surprised Washington's troops by attacking them from behind and forced them to retreat. Howe went on to occupy Philadelphia by the end of the month, and then defeat Washington's troops yet again in early October at Germantown. It was that winter that Washington's troops spent in hardship at Valley Forge. According to the list of returnees on March 17, 1778, no one was lost from the Manheim unit during that tour of duty. Nicholas held the rank of Private 7th Class.

Nicholas is said to have become a successful merchant in Manheim after the war. Although there is no record of his business, the occupation given in several of the land deeds is sadler, or one who makes saddles.

Church Life

There was more to Nicholas' family than making money and living in freedom: spiritual affairs were also important. Like his father, Nicholas raised his family in the Lutheran church. When Manheim was organized in 1762, there were no organized religious groups, "but a small log building on lower North Charlotte Street was set aside for religious purposes. It was used by the Reformed people, Lutherans, Dunkards and Mennonites.(14) The original Lutheran congregation began to meet in Baron Stiegel's mansion in 1769 and a church of their own was raised in 1772. The present Zion Lutheran Church was built on the property in 1891. The pages of the parish register show that Nicholas and Catherine were active both in baptizing their own children at that church and being the sponsors of other children being baptized from at least 1774. The 1790 membership role includes his widow Catherine and his son John as members, and the 1801 membership role lists John.

The parish register also records that Nicholas was a part of the church Council at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church. The church Council was made up of four Trustees, four Elders and two administrators. On 27 July 1773, Nicholas was elected to an administrator position, to fill the vacancy of Frederick Gay, who had removed from Manheim. Henry William Stiegel was one of the Trustees at this time. On 12 May, 1774, the church Council voted to continue building the new church building, and presented a motion regarding the same to the congregation one or two weeks later. Nicholas was elected to a second term as administrator at that meeting, and the term of office for administrators was formally set at two years. In 1778, after some period of time without a pastor, a new pastor came on the scene. At a congregational meeting on December 6, 1778, Nicholas was elected to the office of Elder. The parish register also records several financial gifts made to the church by Nicholas and several gifts received by Nicholas on behalf of the church, in his role as administrator.

Probate Records

Both of Nicholas' parents died in September of 1785 and both are buried at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Manheim. The following month, the courts (not surprisingly) appointed Nicholas to settle his parent's estate (15) Nicholas set about the task quickly, and the estate was distributed on December 7, 1786. (16)

Compared with his father, Nicholas died as a young man. He died in 1788 and was intestate, that is, died without a will. Because his father had a will, one might have expected Nicholas to have prepared a will. Perhaps Nicholas died unexpectedly. Court records confirm that Nicholas had accumulated several pieces of property in Manheim. They included two adjacent lots on the corner of the Market Place and Main street, one of which had a "mansion" house and a barn and the other having a two-story brick house and a stable. Today, a small park honoring Henry W. Stiegel stands on a nearby corner in Manheim, together with a two story building built much later. There were also 13.5 acres in several other lots.

The 1790 Census(17)shows that "widow" Liebrich had two sons 16 and older (John and Daniel), two sons under 16 (John Phillip and George) and five daughters (only four of which I can account for). This is consistent with the birth dates given earlier.

Nicholas' wife, Catherine, submitted an inventory of Nicholas' estate in May, 1786. In 1792, Catherine gave an accounting of the settlement of claims against his account, including rent received from Noah Ceasy for a house in Manheim. In 1792, the cash balance of the estate was distributed to the family. Catherine received approximately four shares of the account, John, Nicholas' oldest son, received two shares and the remaining seven minor children receiving one share amounting to about 3 each. In 1797, Nicholas' oldest son John petitioned the court for a distribution of Nicholas' property(18). Because some of the children were still minors on this date, the court appointed a guardian for them to protect their interest in the estate. On August 20, 1797, the appraisers of Nicholas' property reported that it could not be divided without injury to his widow, and that it had a value of slightly over 1004. The court directed that John begin paying his mother an annual amount equal to the interest on 1/3 of the estate. Those payments were to be regarded as a lien against the property which would be settled upon his mother's death and before distribution of the property to the children.

John, however, passed away in 1804 (before his mother died), so the court appointed his brother John Phillip Liebrich to assume responsibilities for the estate November 20, 1804. Normally, the next oldest son would have been appointed, but that son, Daniel, had already moved away from home. To assist in the settlement of the estate, Nicholas' widow Catherine renounced her claim to the estate(19) and the court called for another appraisal of the property early the next year. Again, the appraisers concluded that the property could not be divided without injury and gave a value of just over 1752. This time the court ordered Phillip to pay to each of the heirs their rightful share of the property. By this time, all of Nicholas' children were adults, and court actions removed the guardianship of the younger children. It appears that the estate was finally closed in November of 1807.


Nicholas and Catherine's children were all born in Manheim, but they did not remain in Manheim. Instead, they began to spread out across the new young country. John, their oldest, was born 27 May 1770. As mentioned before, he was responsible for settling his father's estate. John died a single person on 9 October 1804.

Their first daughter, Anna Marie, was born November 1771 and died about a year and a half later, on 12 January 1773. Her burial is only the fourth recorded in the Zion Church's parish records.

Daniel Henry Leebrick was born a few months later, on 30 May 1773(20). Daniel was christened at Zion Lutheran Church in Manheim on 27 June 1773. Daniel moved to Lebanon, Pennsylvania where he continued his father's trade of saddlery. He married Elizabeth Peters and at least three children were born there. Daniel and Elizabeth then moved to Amherst county Virginia. In December 1805, Daniel purchased 200 acres of land for 420 pounds, on the south waters of the Rockfish river, bordered by Aggey Lavender, Rockfish River, Nelson Anderson, Old Glade Road, Dolly Key, Rich Breedlove(21) . A couple years later, Nelson County was formed and this land was placed in Nelson county. In the summer of 1809, Daniel posted a bond with Nelson County to operate an "ordinary", which was usually a combination tavern and rooming house(22). This business continued at least through 1813. At least five children were born to Elizabeth and Daniel after they moved to Virginia. In 1826, Daniel married Nancy Sandridge Tinsley in Amherst Co, Va. Nancy brought two boys from her marriage to Isaac Tinsley to the marriage. Daniel and Nancy had at least one child after they were married. In the 1832, Daniel bought 117 acres of property in Amherst County from a Sandridge relative. Most of that parcel was disposed of in 1838. Daniel died after February of 1839, for it was in that month that Daniel bought a cotton wheel at the estate sale of a neighbor. No probate records have been located for Daniel or his first wife Elizabeth.

John Phillip Leebrick was born next, on 7 February 1775(23). He was married in Lebanon, Pennsylvania to Mary Gertrude Cassel in 1798 and raised their family in Hummelstown, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. John Phillip will be the focus of the next chapter of this history.

George Leebrick was born 17 February 1779(24) and was christened at Zion the following month, on 27 March. He married Mary Mohr in 1801 and their family of nine children was raised in Halifax, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. They also lived in West Buffalo township, Northumberland Co. Practiced tannery, and in1812, he built a tannery and general store in Halifax. In later years, George also had a general store. "Was strictly upright and conscientious in all his transactions". George died on 12 Mar 1847 and was buried at the Messiah Union Lutheran and Reformed Cemetery in Fisherville, Dauphin County. Fisherville is located several miles ENE of Halifax.

Elizabeth Leebrick was born 13 August 1781(25) and she married Jacob Swentzell. She was christened at Zion on 2 September 1781. No subsequent record of this family has been found.

Catherine Leebrick was born in January 1784(26) and died on 28 June 1801. She was buried at Zion Lutheran Church in Manheim.

Mary (Maria) Leebrick was born on 14 December 1785(27), was christened on 2 January of the following year. The Lancaster county court gave approval for Mary to marry Jacob Urban (Erben) when she was only 14 years old, on 1 Apr 1806 in Lancaster. At least six children were born to this couple.

Nicholas and Catherine's last child, Salome (Sarah), was born 14 December 1787(28). Salome married Dr. John Eberle on 1 July 1810. The Eberle's raised a family of eight children. John was one of the leading physicians of the time. He obtained his medical diploma from the University of Pennsylvania in 1809, and began to practice medicine in Manheim. Dr. Eberle also enjoyed writing, so he edited a newspaper in Lancaster for a while. The family moved to Philadelphia in 1815, and he continued practicing medicine there and writing. He was editor of the quarterly journal, American Medical Recorder and published his first book for students of botany in 1818. In 1823, Dr. Eberle published his "Treatise of the Materia Medica and Therapeutics", which became a standard text-book and went through five editions. He filled the chair of Professor of Physics in the new Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, in 1825. In 1830 he accepted the offer of Daniel Drake (Q.U.) to organize the faculty for the medical department of Miami University, designed as a competitor of the Medical College of Ohio. In 1831 he located in Cincinnati, and was elected Professor of Materia Medica in the Ohio Medical College. In 1832, they founded the Western Medical Gazette. Shortly thereafter, Eberle published his Treatise on the Diseases and Physical Education of Children (1833). He died shortly after his installment in this institution, at Lexington, February 2, 1838. His remains are interred in the Episcopal cemetery, Cincinnati, the spot being marked by a handsome monument.

1. "Central Pennsylvania Marriages (1700-1856)" by Fisher, Part VII

2. Cabin shown is the Fasig pioneer cabin in Manheim, Pa

3. "The Germans in Colonial Times" by Lucy Bittinger, pages 193-197.

4. Heiges, George L. "Henry William Stiegel and His Associates", pages 48-49 (1948)

5. Lancaster County Deed Book 5, volume 1, pages 271-273.

6. Lancaster County Deed Book 5, volume 1, page 426.

7. Lancaster County Deed Book W, volume 1, page 223.

8. The children are names in Lancaster County Misc. book, (1791-1796), page 68. Birthdates are from other sources.

9. "Commemorative Biographical Encyclopedia of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania", published 1896 by J. M. Runk And Co., page 716.

10. "Lancaster County Pennsylvania Deed Abstracts and Revolutionary War Oaths of Allegiance" by R. Thomas Mayhill, List L391T, page 163.

11. Pennsylvania Archives, Fifth Series, Volume VII, Page 193-194.

12. Ibid. Pages 194-196.

13. "Pennsylvania Women in the American Revolution" by William Henry Egle, pages 105-107.

14. "Historical Manheim 1762 - 1976", Manheim Bicentennial Book Committee.

15. Lancaster County "Letters of Administration" Book 4, page 309.

16. Lancaster County Miscellaneous Book 1784-1787, Page 392.

17. "1790 Census, Heads of Families", Pennsylvania, Manheim Town, page 139.

18. Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Misc. Book (1796-1801) pages 58-59, dated June 27, 1797.

19. Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Misc Book (1803-1805) page 242.

20. Parish records, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Manheim, Pa.

21. Deeds of Amherst County Va (1761-1807) pages 335-336.

22. Based on research of Reams Leebrick, Lynchburg, Virginia.

23. "History of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania" by Luther Kelker.

24. "Early Pennsylvania Births (1675 - 1875) by Charles Fisher.

25. "History of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania" by Luther Kelker.

26. Ibid.

27. Ibid.

28. "Early Pennsylvania Births (1675 - 1875)" by Charles Fisher.

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