Compilation of the Stories Published About
The Pioneer German Immigrant and Washington County, Maryland,
Brethren Farmer, Patriot, and Landowner:
Johann Jacob Brumbaugh
a/k/a Jacob Brumbach or Broomback
by Norman E. Donoghue, II
Johann Jacob Brumbaugh is acknowledged as the original owner of the tract now known as the Brumbaugh-Kendle-Grove Farmstead owned by Washington County, Maryland, and forming part of the Regional Airport property.
Reprinted within are the several published stories, without primary source documentation, about the immigrant Johann Jacob Brumbach who is currently the subject of research by the compiler. Most of the included stories were originally compiled by genealogist Richard Lee Hartle of State Line, PA, in 1999, and credit is paid to him for originally bringing this material to people’s attention. This new compilation of 2011 includes new material and has been re-edited by
Norman E. Donoghue, II
and is the subject of ongoing research by Donoghue.
© Copyright 2011 Norman E. Donoghue, II; April 9, 2011
Table of Contents
1. From A History of Washington County Maryland by Thomas J. C. Williams; Vol.2, p.631 (Runk & Titsworth, 1906)
2. From the book Genealogy of the Brumbach Families… by Gaius Marcus Brumbaugh, M. S., M.D. (Frederick Hitchcock, New York; 1913)
3. From the book Pennsylvania German Pioneers, The Original Lists of Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia 1727-1808 by Strassberger and Hinke (1934)
4. From the genealogy “The Big Long Family”: this genealogy manuscript (unknown author and date) is held in the Western Maryland room of the Washington County Public Library in Hagerstown
5. From History of the Church of the Brethren in Maryland by J. Maurice Henry, Ph.D. (Brethren Press, Eglin, IL; 1936)
6. From Sidelights on Brethren History by Freeman Ankrum (Brethren Press, Eglin, IL; 1962)
7. From Two Centuries of Brothersvalley Church of the Brethren, 1762- 1962, An account of the Old Colonial Church, the Stony Creek German Baptist Church and the area of Bruedersthal (Somerset Co., PA) in which the Brethren settled in the summer of 1762 (1962) By H. Austin Cooper
8. From Daughters of the American Revolution application for patriot status for Johann Jacob Brumbaugh (1912)
9. From Maryland Historical Magazine of March 1914 a reprinted document intended for the Maryland colonial assembly in 1750s to compensate those who Quartered Soldiers, etc. for the British in French & Indian War in Maryland
Even if some parts or even all of these stories of tie-ins in 1755 between Johann Jacob Brumbaugh and George Washington are untrue or unverifiable, it is interesting that this myth of a common man as quiet colonial hero was ascribed by several historians and genealogists to one man. They ascribed these deeds not to an anonymous Brethren frontier farmer who they sought to hold up as a model, but to one particular specifically named frontier farmer who seems to have been an orphan German immigrant, a model farmer, a father of seven children, a pacifist yet revolutionary patriot, and a man-next-door of modest circumstances (of the ‘middling sort’, at least not a plantation owner or landed aristocrat) who successfully accumulated considerable land resources in two states.
G.B.B. stands for German Baptist Brethren. Adherents of this Anabaptist sect which formed part of the pietist movement, started by Alexander Mack in Schwarzenau, German in 1708, believed in adult baptism by “triune immersion,” dunking three times forward “in a flowing stream.” They are often referred to as Dunkers or Dunkards. Like Amish, Mennonites and Quakers, Dunkers were non-resistant or pacifist (would not bear arms or commit violence), would not swear oaths (including oaths of allegiance to their new country during the Revolution), and would not serve in governmental posts. Moreover, their creed was not written down; some say because they were ever conscious that it was evolving always and if they wrote it down they might find later that what they once thought was immutable, was about to evolve further. It is uncertain when Brumbaugh converted from a German Lutheran to GBB, but some say it was when he married a convert, Mary Elizabeth Angle, and that marriage may have been in 1760, which is post Braddock’s Campaign, or the marriage or his conversion may have been before then.
1. From A History of Washington County Maryland by Thomas J. C. Williams; Vol.2, p.631 (Runk & Titsworth, 1908). In volume 2 the following is found:
THE BRUMBAUGH FAMILY
Jacob Brombach (now spelled Brumbaugh) who was an orphan, emigrated to America from Germany between the years 1740 and 1750.
He located in the Conococheague District, Washington County. He is the progenitor of the Brumbaugh family of this County. Sometime after his arrival in this county he was married to Miss Angle, who was a German Baptist in religion. Mr. Brombach was a Lutheran but eventually joined his wife’s Church.
During Braddock’s memorable campaign, Jacob Brombach served under the great General as a pack-man, his religious ideas preventing him from taking part in the conflict. Besides owning large tracts of land in Washington County, he became the possessor of over six thousand acres in Bedford and Blair Counties, Pennsylvania. After residing for many years in Pennsylvania, he died in 1799 and was buried on the paternal homestead four miles north of Hagerstown. Jacob Brombach was the father of the following children, all of whom were born on the farm where he was buried: Jacob born in 1765; Mary born in 1767, married Samuel Ulrich; John born in 1768; Henry born in 1770, married a Miss Rench; Daniel born in 1772, married Elizabeth Long; David born in 1774 [sic 1776], married a Miss Kissicker; George born in 1775, married a Miss Gelwicks.
Daniel and Elizabeth (Long) Brumbaugh were the grandparents of John Nichols “Nick” Brumbaugh and Phillip Napoleon “Nap” Brumbaugh whose biographical sketches are printed in this book.
2. From the book Genealogy of the Brumbach Families… by Gaius Marcus Brumbaugh, M. S., M.D. (Frederick Hitchcock, New York; 1913) the following was copied:
Johann Jacob Brumbach, b. about 1728, is said to have been an orphan upon his arrival at Philadelphia, Pa. He supposedly had 50 pounds sterling in his possession. He arrived on the ship Nancy August 31, 1750- see his signature on the Immigrant List. He settled in the Conococheague District, about 1 mile south of the Mason’s and Dixon’s Line, and 4 miles north of Hagerstown, then Frederick Co., Md. In 1760, he married Mary Elizabeth Angle, b. 1740,… dau. Henry Angle of Washington county. The latter’s family in Heads of Families, Md., 1790, is given as three free white males over 176 years, and give free white females, including heads of families. He built a substantial house on his tract of land before his marriage. Jacob’s original house was built of rough hewn logs, 36 x 16 – two rooms below and two above, with large open fire places (since closed), and with heavy oak doors and shutters. Philip Napoleon built a porch and a two-story addition during his ownership.
Jacob seems to have immediately dropped the “Johann” from his name upon landing. Even though he signed “Johann Jacob Brumbach” on the immigration list, nowhere has any later signature other than “Jacob” been found, however, this was common practice. Originally a Lutheran, he united with the G. B. B. Ch., (German Baptist Brethren Church) of which his wife was a member.
In the Gen. Braddock Campaign of the French and Indian War he served as a packman, his religious scruples preventing service in actual conflict. His hearing was defective, and this tendency, together with his large stature and strong general constitution, seems to be hereditary in some later generations. He had an unusual faculty for acquiring land, and shortly before his death in the Bedford, Pa., area, on April 10, 1799, it is said he owned over 6000 acres [Note: this amount has never been substantiated, but Brumbaugh did have hundreds of acres of land documented in that area.] in the Bedford and Blair Counties, Pa., as well as other large tracts of land in what was then Frederick Co., Md. (now Washington Co., Md.) His remains were taken to the old Maryland homestead and buried in the small family graveyard. Mary, his wife, died November 28, 1803, and was laid to rest beside her husband. Both graves were marked by crudely dressed lime-stones containing the initials “J. B.” and “M. B.” The remains of their seven children also rest there. [Note – the family burial site remains there and is irregularly cared for. The statement that ‘their 7 children also rest there’ is not correct, with the exception, that his son, Henry, who acquired this land after his father’s death, was perhaps also buried there.]
Johann Jacob’s children seem to have united with different religious denominations, and in the main the descendants of each remained therein; Jacob and Henry became Pres.; Mary and John became G. B. B.; Daniel became Ref.; David and George became Lutheran, according to information supplied by David Stuckey Brumbaugh.
Gaius Marcus Brumbaugh in his Genealogy of the Brumbaugh Families on p. 349 also tells us that: Eve (Brumbaugh) Snoeberger, b. 1806, while yet in full possession of her excellent memory, in 1891 wrote and also said that she “always understood, from my father, that my grandfather (Johann Jacob Brumbach) was a cousin to Johannes Henrich Brumbach, and that Johannes Henrich’s son Johannes (John) was known as the stocking weaver.”
[Ed. Note – Johannes Henrich Brumbach was the progenitor of another line of Brumbaughs, Gaius Marcus Brumbaugh’s lineage. He originally settled in the Conococheague district, as did his alleged cousin, but it is believed that none of his descendants remained there very long. Most moved to the Morrison’s Cove area of Bedford Co., Pa., where Johann Jacob Brumbaugh also settled two of his children on hundreds of acres of farmland in Morrison’s Cove.]
3. From the book Pennsylvania German Pioneers, The Original Lists of Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia 1727-1808 by Strassberger and Hinke (1934), the following was copied:
[Immigrant List 155 C] At the Court House at Philadelphia, Friday, the 31st August, 1750. Present: Thomas Laurence, Esquire, Mayor.
The Foreigners whose names are underwritten, imported in the Ship Nancy, Thomas Coatam, Master, from Rotterdam & last from Cowes, did this day take the usual Oaths. By list 88. Persons 270. …Johann Jacob Brumbach….
4. From the genealogy “The Big Long Family”. [Note: Daniel Long Miller (D.L. Miller) was born near Hagerstown, Maryland in 1841, the son of Abram and Catherine Long Miller. He married Elizabeth Talley (1848-1926) in 1868. Miller united with the German Baptist Brethren Church in 1863. He was elected to the ministry in 1887 and ordained an elder in 1891. He wrote Some Who Led (1912) about Brethren history but it does not mention Jacob Brumbaugh.]
– what follows comes from p. 15 of this genealogy manuscript (unknown author and date) held in the Western Maryland room of the Washington County Public Library in Hagerstown:
Early Days On The Plantation – Baker’s Lookout
In the panhandle of Western Maryland, at the northeast corner of Greencastle Pike and Broadfording Road, four and one-half miles west of downtown Hagerstown, is the original frontier plantation of Peter Studebaker – “Baker’s Lookout.” This was the home also of the Long family, 1750 to 1845. As early as 1625 this western wilderness was a part of the Crown Colony of Virginia. Early in that century, King Charles I cut a slice out of northern Virginia in order to make a grant to his friend, Lord Baltimore. It included all of the land north of the further (south) bank of the Potomac River, north to the 40th degree latitude. This became Maryland.
The Proprietor bargained and sold parcels of the colony in various sizes. The larger ones of over 2,000 acres or more were called Manors. The Lord of each Manor in these frontier areas had judicial power. By 1753, two years after Long acquired “Baker’s Lookout” the National Trail (U.S. 40) was extended westward to Will’s Creek (later named Cumberland, Md.) The trail passed two miles south of “Baker’s Lookout.” Young Washington passed this way in 1753, when Elizabeth Long (3) was a baby. Governor Dinwiddie of the Virginia Colony sent him to confer at the forks of the Ohio River with the French, who were claiming all of the area north of the Ohio and west of the Alleghenies. Washington returned empty-handed.
Then two years later, 1755, as a matter of grave concern developed for the families and neighbors of John Long. General Braddock with two British regiments passed by on the National trail and met George Washington, aged 23, at the Potomac, with his command [Note: this is wrong; Col. Washington at this time served as an aide-de-camp of Braddock] of 450 Virginia Militia. Together they had a force of about 2000 men. It was thirty-two days and about 110 miles later, they cut their way west to Fort Cumberland through a trackless hardwood forest to a surprise meeting with the French and 1000 Indian Warriors. Braddock was killed on July 9th [Note: wrong again, he was shot that day and died July 13, 1755] and 977 of his men were killed or wounded out of the 1459 English engaged.
Young George Washington, ill and in command of the remnant, was lucky to have a civilian assistant who was of great aid in helping him back to Virginia. A compatriot of John Long, living in nearby Williamsport, an enterprising Brethren named Brumbach (Brumbaugh), refused a quartermaster commission, before joining the expedition as a civilian, caring for food and clothing. He declined a commission because of his pacifist, non-resistant religious background, having only recently left Europe to escape the military. He nursed young Washington back to Virginia and health. (Williams, History of Washington County, MD; Henry, History of the Church Of Brethren in Maryland.)
5. From History of the Church of the Brethren in Maryland by J. Maurice Henry, Ph.D. (Brethren Press, Eglin, IL; 1936) on pp. 31-34 the following is found:
JACOB BROMBACH was certainly one of the most remarkable pioneers among the Society of Dunkers in Colonial Maryland. He was an orphan lad who came from Germany about 1740 and made his way across the wild frontiers of Pennsylvania and Maryland. He found a home on Conococheague Creek in Maryland, and was apprenticed to a family until he was twenty-one years old. He was married to—- (Mary Elizabeth) Angle, daughter of (Henry Angle) one of the original pioneers in the Antietam Valley. This young woman was baptized at the age of sixteen and has been regarded as the first convert of Martin Urner in Maryland. Some records indicate that she was converted by George Adam Martin but the accounts agree that she was very young.
Jacob Brombach held to the Lutheran faith, and was in all probability christened in Germany. He was a very humble man with a quiet manner of speech.
A few years after his marriage he was baptized and united with his wife’s church. He was never elected to the ministry but was a devout leader in his day. He worked hard and lived frugally. Jacob was peculiarly endowed with good judgment and organizing power. His farm was considered a model for his day. Many men visited his place to learn the art of his success.
When General Edward Braddock was met at Frederick, Maryland, in April, 1755, by Benjamin Franklin, Governor Horatio Sharpe and George Washington to plan the campaign against the French and Indians, the advance scouts marked out the route. The army was to pass over South Mountain and cross Antietam Creek at Delemere. [Note – The official record covering the route can be found in the Congressional Library at Washington, D.C.]
The Orderly Books of General Braddock, two in number, are preserved in the Congressional Library at Washington. These books were secured from the library of one Peter Force, Esq. Two important entries appear to be in the handwriting of George Washington and it is presumed that the books were kept under his directions. The first book covers the period from Feb. 26 to June 11, 1755, and the second from June l2 to l7. The entry giving the route which Braddock’s army was to follow is interesting. Sir Peter Halkett’s regiment marched from Williamsburg, Virginia, to Winchester and Colonel Dunbar went to Frederick, Maryland. They were to reunite on the Virginia side. General Braddock joined Dunbar at Frederick and marched with that regiment.
The official order reads:
Frederick, Friday, April 25, l755.
Colonel Dunbar’s regiment to hold themselves in readiness to march by (April) 29th.
One Corporal and four men to march tomorrow evening to Rock Creek with four wagons that came up this evening. When the party comes to Rock Creek, they are to put themselves under Ensign Hench.
Sunday, April 27, l755
Colonel Dunbar’s Regiment is to march ye 29 and to proceed to Wills Creek agreeable to the following route:
29th From Frederick on Road to Conogogee 17
30th From that halting place to Conogogee 18
[All accounts seem to agree that these soldiers including Braddock and Washington camped on the Conococheague creek precisely the night of April 29, 1755, departing to cross the nearby Potomac on May 1. Brumbaugh’s land was described in the 1753 deed to Jacob Bromback of his 90-acre tract known as “Claland’s Contrivance” as “Near a Tract of Land Taken up by Col. Cresap” –see May 8 below–who was also involved in Braddock’s Campaign as a civilian supplier to the army.]
1st From Conogogee to John Evens 16
3rd To Widow Baringer’s 18
4th To George Poll’s 9
5th To Henry Enoch’s 15
7th To Cox’s at ye mouth of Little Cacaph 12
8th To Colonel Cresap’s 8
9th To Will’s Creek 16
The men are to take from this place three days’ provisions. At Conogogee they will have more; at the Widow Baringer’s 5 days; at Col. Cresap’s one or more days and at all these places Oats or Indian Corn must be had for the horses but no hay. At Conogogee the troops cross the Potomak in a float.
The army of Braddock crossed the Antietam Creek at a place called “Delemere” near Devil’s Backbone and marched northwest into the more thickly settled region of the German colonists. A part of the army appears to have pitched camp for the night near the home of Jacob Bromback.
General Braddock—probably by invitation—put up in the home of Jacob Bromback. Both Braddock and George Washington appear to have spent the night in Bromback’s home. General Braddock was so impressed with the skill and ability of his host that a commission was offered [Note- not true as he had no such authority] Jacob Bromback in the army. This gave him the opportunity to explain the religious beliefs of the Society of Dunkers to the British general and George Washington. In the soft mellow light of the candle-lighted room these three sat. Jacob Bromback talked in quiet tones of voice with words fitly spoken like ‘apples of gold in network of silver.’ No one will ever know what impressions were made by this pious, humble servant of God on his guests. General Braddock insisted that Bromback accept a commission in his army. One record indicated that Jacob Bromback did not accept an officer’s commission, but was finally prevailed upon to accompany the supply train and care for the sick and wounded.
The army broke camp May 1, 1755, and started to Wills’ Creek at Fort Cumberland to make final preparations for the march against Fort Duquesne. The tragedy of Braddock’s death and the defeat of his army are well known facts of history. However, little is known about the pathetic hours which the soldiers experienced as George Washington, and others, led the wounded and battered forces back across the mountains. General Braddock never lived to return to the fireside of Jacob Bromback, but who can doubt that George Washington stopped at the hospitable home of Jacob Bromback and recounted, around his hearthstone, the trials and hardships of their disastrous campaign?
Years passed and Jacob Bromback continued to labor out on the frontier. “The meek shall inherit the earth” was literally fulfilled in the life of this pious, God-fearing saint, when, for some unaccountable reason, he was given a patent for a large tract of land in Blair and Bedford Counties, Pennsylvania [Note: nothing found yet to confirm any transfer to Brumbaugh of more than several hundred acres of land].
Why did Jacob Bromback come into possession of this patent? Who influenced the king’s proprietary of Pennsylvania to grant a patent to this unknown Dunker out on the frontier? Who would say that George Washington did not have a guiding hand in that grant? [Note: not likely!] Furthermore, it is fancy to believe that when George Washington was presiding over the Constitutional Convention, he gave counsel with others that a clause be put in the Constitution guaranteeing religious liberty and freedom of conscience? Amid all the turmoil and wrangling in the convention did George Washington recall the night when an unknown man out on the frontier expounded the doctrine of peace and goodwill to a British general? Did Washington ever forget the fervor of that sainted voice out in the wilderness?
It has been stated by a recent writer that George Washington was baptized by triune immersion in the latter part of his life. Again, who knows what impression was made by Jacob Bromback upon his guest in his humble home on Conococheague when Bromback explained the doctrine of triune immersion as practiced by the Dunker Brethren? What influence Jacob Bromback had on the life of George Washington will never be known. It does not matter, for Washington had come in contact with a great and good man.
It was enough to have discovered a saint of God out on the frontier. The accounts about him are meager, but the Eternal Father has the record of it all, and when Jacob Bromback finished his earthly pilgrimage in the year 1799, he could answer the call, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, thou has been faithful over a few things, enter thou into the joys of thy Lord.” Another sainted path-finder in Maryland had passed away.
It was a strange coincidence that George Washington had like-wise passed away. It was a damp, cold day on Thursday, Dec. 12, 1799, as Washington took his accustomed ride over his plantation. The next morning a snow blanketed the earth. He sat by the fireside and meditated with strange thoughts. Saturday night as the wind moaned in the boxwoods around Mount Vernon the beloved Father of his Country answered the call to come up higher, Jacob Bromback, the pathfinder, and George Washington, the patriot, had finished their earthly pilgrimage as the earth slumbered under a blanket of snow.
6. From Sidelights on Brethren History by Freeman Ankrum (Brethren Press, Eglin, IL; 1962), p. 21.
A Light in the Wilderness
Two hundred years ago there lived in Washington County,
Maryland, a young German immigrant named Jacob Bromback. (The pronunciation of the spelling of the name in later years may have been changed to Brumbaugh.) An orphan, he eventually found a home on the creek with the long Indian name, the Conococheague. He married a young lady of the Brethren faith who was said to have been Martin Urner’s first convert when he pioneered with the gospel in Carroll County, Maryland. Some time following his marriage he was baptized and united with the church of which he is wife was a member. His quiet manner of speech, with its accompanying humility, made the man feel at home with the brethren. All his life he was a farmer and a lay leader in the church. Men visited him there to learn of his farming methods. In numerous ways his home became one of the significant outposts on the frontier.
In April 1755 it was necessary for the English government to send forces to the western section of Pennsylvania to attempt to gain control over disputed territory. The English general, Edward Braddock, and his aide, young George Washington of Virginia, were assigned to the task, Braddock commanding the expedition and Washington heading up the Virginia provincials. They had outfitted a large number of men at Frederick, Maryland, with Benjamin Franklin aiding them by supplying of wagons. One of the teamsters was young Daniel Boone who was later to become a legendary character on the western frontier.
From Frederick they started their march toward the fort on Wills Creek in the narrows in what is now Cumberland, Maryland . They slowly made their way over the heights which now bear the name of Braddock. The beautiful valley known today as the Middletown Valley, was before them. Beyond this loomed South Mountain, which they crossed near the future site of Boonsboro. Their course from here was southwest over a succession of ridges known as the Devil’s Back Bone. The crossing of the Antietam was made near where the old colonial school of Delamere now stands, approximately six miles southeast of the present city of Hagerstown. Part of the army went over the site which later in 1763 was laid out as Sharpsburg. Marching on from here, some of the soldiers pitched tents near the home of Jacob Bromback on the Conococheague. Both General Braddock and George Washington, it seems from the available records, spent the night in the home of this progressive and successful farmer. [Note: At least he knew that sometimes historians consult records! Alas, he does not say what records. This account clearly has frustrating moments. It’s just not serious history.] Knowing Washington’s interest in agriculture, we may believe that his concern in talking with Bromback was more than military.
That night old Fairview Mountain, just to the west of them, looked down upon a scene which had much to do in shaping the destinies of people yet unborn. General Braddock at once recognized his host’s more-than-ordinary ability and is said to have offered him a commission in his army. This gave Bromback an opportunity—which he grasped—to explain to his guest the peace principles of the Brethren people. The general still insisted that Bromback accept a commission. After prolonged and serious discussion, they came to a compromise. True to his Brethren principles, Bromback refused to accept the offered commission but agreed to go with the supply train and care for the sick and the wounded. [Note: underlining added.] No one will ever know the full extent of the impression he made on his guests that night, but there is much evidence that the impression was both deep and durable. We might well conjecture, as an added matter of interest, that Daniel Boone, one of whose parents was a member of the Brethren Church, may have shared in these conversations.
On May 1, Jacob Bromback took leave of his family and accompanied the army on its way westward. The men slowly and laboriously chopped trails over the mountains and through the valleys. Today’s traveler over the highway known as the Old National Pike or U.S. Highway 40 [Note: Braddock’s Road is of course famous for becoming this important road to the West.] will be amazed, as he passes in rapid succession the markers indicating Braddock’s camps, at the slowness of the army’s progress. After much hard work they reached the fort on Wills Creek. On this tedious march Washington, who was plagued with poor health all his life, was ill and spent much of this time riding in a litter. Inasmuch as Bromback had gone along to care for the sick and the wounded, we may assume that he cared for Washington in his time of need. [Added.]
It is not our intention to give an account of the tragic defeat which befell the troops under Braddock and Washington on their way to Fort Duquesne. Every student of American history is familiar with it.
According to an old tradition, General Braddock was shot by the brother of a colonial soldier [Note: This is not the generally accepted view, but it is a minority view.] whom he had grossly mistreated. Trained in English methods of soldiery, the general failed to understand or appreciate the independent spirit of the American colonists. He was buried in a lonely grave by the side of the trail, Washington reading the burial service, and efforts were made to conceal the grave. Later his body was re-interred at the place now marked by the imposing monument about eleven miles east of Uniontown, Pennsylvania. We may readily believe that when the burial service was ready for the general, among those standing near by was the newfound friend in whose home Braddock had stayed and whom he had persuaded to come along on his campaign—the Brethren farmer, Jacob Bromback.
The road back east was long and the suffering was acute as Washington now in command, led the dejected survivors along the trails over which they had recently passed with their hopes high. It is possible, and even probable, that Washington availed himself of the opportunity to stop again in the hospitable home of Jacob Bromback. If he did, they must have talked seriously of the events of the recent past, of the many new graves in the wilderness, and possibly of the basic futility of trying to settle the quarrels of governments and of individuals by methods of violence.
Liking the country in which Jacob Bromback lived, Washington later selected a site on the Potomac where it is joined by the Conococheague for a possible national capital. The wide streets in the small city of Williamsport are a reminder of the dream that was never fulfilled. When Washington looked over the location he was entertained in the home of General Otto Williams near the village. The house is still standing and is pointed out to the tourist. However, it has been enlarged and changed since the days when its roof sheltered America’s foremost citizen.
For some reason never made public, Bromback was given a large tract of land in Bedford and Blair counties, Pennsylvania. If an inquirer could have called George Washington aside later, he might have become the possessor of the reason for this—the nights spent by Washington in the home of this man, as well as having had him for a companion on the march. That a Brethren farmer should be given a tract of land like this, far out on the frontier, would arouse questions in the minds of many people. Who can say that Washington’s hand was not back of the grant? Washington is gone. Braddock sleeps by the side of the road. And where Bromback rests perhaps no man knows; but his principles are as much alive as when these men met in his humble home at the foot of old Fairview Mountain.
Is there one who can say that when Washington, called to the highest place his country had to offer, presided over the Constitutional Convention he did not counsel the placing in the Constitution of the clause guaranteeing religious liberty and freedom of conscience? Washington from his lofty heights of state, may have remembered the lowly home where the humble and soft spoken Brethren layman expounded to the British general and himself the doctrine of peace and goodwill.
A light indeed was Jacob Bromback in the wilderness. Even though in later years the candle was consumed, the lights kindled by it still shone forth. They had come in contact with a man of God; and the fruitage of contacts such as that are not for just a day.
History is stingy with its records concerning the life and labors of Bromback. [Note: at least he gives us his excuse for not telling the source of this story.] The men of those days had little time to keep records. Their energies were spent in the stern necessity of wrestling a living from new and often unfriendly surroundings.
The work of Jacob Bromback reminds us that the laity have an important place in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ second only to that of the minister. Perhaps testimony from a consecrated layman is accepted when that of a minister may be considered more or less professional. The history of the church would be different and perhaps better had there been more consecrated laymen like Bromack giving testimony to their faith by both word and deed.
7. From Two Centuries of Brothersvalley Church of the Brethren
1762- 1962, An account of the Old Colonial Church, the Stony Creek German Baptist Church and the area of Bruedersthal in which the Brethren settled in the summer of 1762, and organized by Elder George Adam Martin, presiding Elder. (1962) By H. Austin Cooper
Washington’s Illness—Nursed to Health by a Dunker
It was on the 1754 [sic 1755] campaign of General Braddock that Colonel George Washington fell sick with a fever at Wills Creek, the middle of May. The army of nearly two thousand men were a straggling group to behold. They suffered much from traversing the rough mountain roads and Indian trails over the Alleghenies. They had gone without proper food and rest. Braddock was not used to the terrain and the Indian type of warfare that Washington knew quite well would soon break unsuspectingly upon them. Therefore, he alerted General Braddock to what would soon befall them as they came into the heart of Allegheny-land. They hurried their troops to a faster pace. Washington walked, paid the soldiers to carry his gear. He took the gear of war upon his own well mannered and well trained riding horse, far from fort Cumberland. He tried to ride his faithful horse but each jolting step brought his fever even higher. He was delirious as they entered the bounds of Somerset County [Note: PA], near Pocahontas, and lay sick for fourteen days. There was a mill near there run by a Dunker by the name of Jacob Brumbaugh. This mill was located along the Sand Patch-Pocahontas Road. There is a series of old mills in this section of the county, some of them go beyond recorded history of the county—this was one of them. A few scanty notes from several of the older citizens of the area tell that some of the Deals who moved into Greenville Township at an early date from Lancaster County took over the Brumbaugh mill and ran it for some years. The old stones and some of the machinery were taken to Deal’s Mill and that mill was put into operation.
There are several accounts of this experience of General Washington having happened in Washington County, Maryland. In 1756, Fort Frederick, now in Washington County, was erected. In 1758, Frederick County boundaries were established. Following the Declaration of Independence in July 1776, Washington County was established. During those formative years the boundaries between Maryland and Pennsylvania were undermined [Note: It is a fact that there was a dispute between the proprietors of MD and PA over where the border was], and for a good many years afterward. The Mason-Dixon line was completed in 1768. This set the line between the two States. It was believed that Washington County, and Virginia reached to parallel 44, which is now Somerset. Therefore, Marylanders thought that many such narratives as the Washington illness and the Brumbaugh nursing goodwill act happened in Maryland.
Brother Brumbaugh would not accept anything for his act of brotherliness toward young Washington, by was of war supplies which were first offered to him by the young officer. Upon insistence by Washington to receive some gift for his good mercy toward him, Brother Brumbaugh accepted the gift of a horse from the man upon whom destiny was to place the burden and joy of being the Father of our Country, George Washington. This was the one thing needed more than anything else by Brother Brumbaugh for his travels in the backwoods of Somerset County.
10. From Daughters of the American Revolution application for patriot status for Johann Jacob Brumbaugh.
Excerpts from the
Proceedings of the Committee of Observation of
Elizabeth Town* [name changed to Hagerstown in 1815] District, Frederick County [this portion later became Washington County], Maryland
Letter from Council of Safety, Annapolis, March 23, 1776
The great difficulty we find in providing blankets for regular forces raised for the defense of the province obliges us to apply to the committees of observation for the several counties and districts earnestly requesting that they would use their endeavors to procure from the House Keepers in their respective counties and districts all the blankets and the rugs that they can with all convenience spare for which the Council will pay such prices as the committee shall agree and as well as any expense that may arise in collecting these together and when you have procured any quantity you will send these to Annapolis to Col. Smallwood, etc.
In consequence of the proceeding letter from the Hon. the Council of Safety of this province we have agreeable to their request furnished these with what quantity of blankets and rugs the inhabitants of this district can with any convenience spare….
No. 39 Jacob Brumbaugh 1 blanket 0-18-0 [£-shillings-pence]
No. 40 Jacob Do 1 Do 0-18-0…
Rec’d of Conrad Shiby 44 blankets for the use of this province —
12 April 1776 George Strieker
Jacob Broombaugh Senr £-8-50 Yrs Adams to Capt John Cellars
Jacob Broombaugh Junior £-3-0 Common money to pay Do
John Broombaugh £-3-0 Do.
Co. Stull Treas. for Washington Co. accounts:
Dec. 24, 1776. For so much received from the Dunkers [this is what members of the Church of the Brethren were called in common parlance—because of their belief in “triune immersion” or dunking 3 times those being baptised] and Menonists [Mennonites] for their fines*
Jacob Broombaugh Jnr. £ 3-0-0
John Broombaugh £ 3-0-0
(*fines paid by non-combatants)
9. From Maryland Historical Magazine of March 1914 a reprinted document (at page 348) intended for the Maryland colonial assembly in 1750s to compensate those who Quartered Soldiers, etc. for the British in French & Indian War in Maryland
Jacob Broomback 6 days of service 48 0..6.. 0..
Daniel Cresap 6 days of service 48 0..6.. 0..
End of the Stories
My continuing thanks to Richard Lee Hartle and Christine Brumbaugh Ellis for their many courtesies in bringing the bulk of this material to light.
Compiled and edited March 2011 by:
Norman E. Donoghue, II
1933 Brandywine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130