Philadelphia and Berks County

Ginette Kathleen Isenberg (b. 1950): “We have been unable to find any record of the early Eisenbergs (Isenbergs) in any of ship’s records previous to 1760. In Philadelphia County we had four Eisenbergs with their families that were living there during the 1740’s and 1750’s. By 1752 while they were living there, this part of Philadelphia County became Berks County. The first names of these men were Simon, Nicholas, Gabriel and Enoch. In the “History of Berks and Lebanon Counties” by Rupp, pages 186-187, there are listed three Eisenbergs (Essenbergs, etc.) among the taxables in Greenwich Township as follows: Gabriel Eisenberger, Simon Essenberger, and Nicholas Essenberg (Eisenman).”

“We know these names to be (E)Isenberg, but there seems to be an clerical issue with censuses. Not the first time someone in the family has gotten their ID or deed registered with their name spelled incorrectly. Often back then, reading cursive was very difficult and census takers had to give it their best guess.” – Alex “Ash” Isenberg (Cluck) (My mother’s handwriting has gotten me a few misspelled social security cards :(, I think she was accused of kidnapping me one time because the last name was spelled slightly differently than hers.)


The 1750 family moved from Philadelphia to Lancaster as it grew larger, names changed slightly as they moved westward.

In the 1920’s Dr. William Hinke, a historian of the Reformed Church, was sent to create a copy of the baptismal records of Dunkel’s Reformed Church, Greenwich Twp., Berks Co., PA that included Eisenberg names. The following is the record to which is referred. We have taken the liberty to rearrange this record according to the three Eisenberg names – Simon, Nicholas, Gabriel. Enoch the fourth man, lived in Rockland Twp. About 10 miles from Dunkel’s Church. The record, in full, can be found in the library of the Lancaster Theological Seminary, Lancaster, PA.

From William J. Hinke, transcripts of the Reformed Church records, Historical Society of the Reformed Church, Lancaster Theological Seminary, Lancaster PA. New Jerusalem (Dunkel’s) Reformed Church, Greenwich, Twp., Berks Co., PA.

Parents – Child – Sponsor

Simon Eisenberger and wife – Maria Magdalene, bap August 26, 1749 – Gabriel Eisenberger and wife

Simon Eisenberger and wife – Gabriel, bap November 14, 1751 – Gabriel Eisenberger and wife

Simon Eisenberger and wife – Simon Peter, bap April 15, 1753 – Gabriel Eisenberger and wife

Nicholas Eiseman – Catherine, bap April 14, 1753 – Catherine Abinbenn, Henry Schaeffer

Gabriel Eisenberger and wife – John George, bap June 21, 1747 – John George Christ

Gabriel Eisenberger and wife – Maria, bap September 11, 1748 – Margaret Eisenberger

Gabriel Eisenberger and wife – Anna Philippina, bap March 2, 1750 – Phillipus Jacobus

Gabriel Eisenberger – John Henry, bap October 26, 1753 – John ?

Gabriel Eisenberger and wife Eve – Gabriel bap November 7, 1755

Gabriel Eisenberg and wife – Nicholas, bap August 14, 1757 – Nicholas Rebenbuler?, Anna Maria Breidman

After receiving these church records, Dr. Isenberg was able to gather more information about the family in Berks County, PA. Later, in our checking of these records, we also uncovered additional information and found father’s records to be correct.

The following record of taxables in Berks County lists only those of our name. The whole record can be found in the Berks County Historical Society, Reading, PA.

Taxables in Berks County before and after the area became known as Greenwich Township.

(Listed on pages 15 – 16 – 17 of the Bahney book)

Simon Eisenberg’s wife’s name was Margaret (maiden name unknown). Her name appears as a Godparent in the Dunkel’s baptismal record of Maria, daughter of Gabriel Eisenberg and his wife. Her name also appears as Simon and his wife Margaret, the parents of Simon Peter for whom Gabriel and his wife were the Godparents. Nothing further is known of their daughter, Maria Magdalene, baptized at the Dunkel Church. Their son Gabriel, maybe the Gabriel Eisenberg who gave two shillings toward the remodeling of the Dunkel Church in 1790. However, we are not sure that this Gabriel is their son since ther is no Gabriel Eisenberg in the 1790 census records of Greenwich Twp.

It appears after Simon’s death and the death of Maria Eve, Gabriel’s wife, that Margaret became the second wife of Gabriel and that Simon Peter (known as Peter) also appears in the Maryland records. He married Margaret, one of the Smouse (Schmaus) girls. Simon Eisenberg’s lands are charted below: (chart on page 17 of the Bahney book)

Simon Eisenberg, as far as we know, lived all of his adult life in Philadelphia County and then Berks County. There is no known record of his naturalization. However, ther are records of land purchases in this area. In January, 1747 Simon took out a warrant to purchase 50 acres. Surveyed, this turned out to be 39 acres and 82 perches. Then in October 1747 he took out another warrant to purchase 50 acres more or less. The survey showed this to be 33 acres and 124 perches. Again in August 1748 he took another warrant. This turned out to be 58 acres and 70 perches, more or less. In all this gave Simon 131 acres and 116 perches. The road from Kutztown runs through this land does a branch of the Maiden Creek. There is an old house on this land that was build ca 1800. There is an old mill that predates the house, according to the present owners. Since the land is not suitable for ordinary farming, it is thought that Simon was the miller and possibly built the mill.

An old map of Greenwich Township, Berks County, shows Simon Isenberg’s land. The land of 58 acres and 70 perches was sold to Jacob Greeawald who took possession in 1811. What happened to the rest is not known.

The present owners (1970) have an antique shop in the old mill and seemed quite sure that the land could not have been used for anything but a mill. Simon’s name disappears in 1770 Greenwich Township and there is no evidence that he moved to Maryland as did Gabriel EIsenberg (Isenberg). If he died in Berks County, which seems evident, this tombstone has not been found.

The following old map, ca 1750, shows Simon Eisenberg’s land with the stream running through it. You will note the Martin Keplinger land touching it. Also, adjoining it is land owned by Martin Swedner. Martin’s son Johannis Swedner (John Sweden) later appears in Frederick County, Maryland with Gabriel Eisenberg (Isenberg). Both of them are buried in the old Clemson Family Cemetery in Frederick County (Johannis Swedner –  Gabriel Eisenberg married Maria Eva Swedner, one of Johannis’ daughters). There is another map under Gabriel’s part in Berks County that shows that Simon’s land and Gabriel’s land were quite close. This is stated in the Warrant No. 28, Philadelphia County, 1747, Jan.27, which ways “fifty acres of land more or less, on Big Spring near the land of Matthew Sprecht”. Gabriel Eisenberg bought Matthew Sprecht’s land in another year or two.

Of Nicholas Eisenberg of the Berks County records, we have little to offer in the way of actual facts. In the church records, the name is spelled Eisenman – a daughter baptized in the Dunkel records as Catherine whose godparents were Catherine Abenbenn and Henry Schaeffer.

In one tax record, Nicholas is listed as a tenant and so would pay no tax for any land. His tax was for a horse, except in 1762 they all paid an extra tax “toward the building of the Court House in Reading and the killing of foxes, wolves, crows, and other uses”.

To be included in the baptismal records of Dunkel’s Church, Nicholas would have been about the same age as Simon and Gabriel and therefore, could not have been either of the Nicholas Eisenbergs listed in the 1790 census of Frederick County, Maryland, since both of these Nicholasses has small children.

We have three records connected with baptismas with the name of Catherine Eisemann (Eisenmann) included. Of the three, we believe only the last is the one of the baptismal records that might be connected to our family. These records can be found in the Berks County Historical Society, Reading, PA and are as follows:

Christ Church on Beiber Creek in Rockland Township #39 Frederich Wiest (parent) – Rosena Dorothea, b 1752, bap 1752 (child) – Catherine nee Eiseman (Sponsor)

Moslem Church, page 86 Phillip Kerchner and wife – Anna Cathern, bap 1757 – Catherine nee Eisenmann

St. Paul’s Congregation, Windsor Twp, page 5 Catherine Eisenman is a sponsor and is listed as single daughter of Nicholas Eiseman, 1772

It is our thought that either of the first two could be a sister of the Eisenbergs in Berks County – Simon, Gabriel, Nicholas, or Enoch. But, we have no record to prove this, only the coincidence of age and the nearness of townships.

Gabriel Eisenberger was naturalized April 11, 1742 at Philadelphia, PA by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Colony. By his statement he indicated that he had been here “upwards of seven years” which means that his coming must have been about 1735 or 1736. His name appears among the Quakers or those who had conscientious scruples against taking an oath on the Bible as to how long he had been here. The naturalization records can be found in the Huguenot Society records, vol 24, page 20; or the original record in the Pennsylvania Archives, Harrisburg, PA

About this time Gabriel married Maria Eva (Swedner) – commonly called Eve. Their children baptised in the Dunkel Church were John George, Maria, Anna Philippina, Phillipus Jacobus, John Henry, Gabriel, and Nicholas. These names will also be found in the Frederick County, MD records. Two other daughters, Catherine and Susannah, and one son, Enoch, were also born in Greenwich Twp, Berks, Co. , PA. Possibly the reason for their names not appearing in the baptismal records is because there was no minister supplying this charge at the time they were born.

“While this area in Berks County was still Philadelphia County, Gabriel purchased 200 acres of land Sept 28, 1748. It was from Matthew Sprecht’s warrant of 200 acres in Greenwich Township, Philadelphia County, PA. On the back of this warrant, the name was spelled Gabriel Isenberg. The warrant is as follows:

“By Virtue of a Warrant from the proprietaries dated the third day of December 1737 surveyed the twelfth day of December 1739 to Matthew Specht the above described Tract of Land situated on a branch of the Sauson Creek in the County of Philad. Containing two hundred acres and with allowance of Six.

Edw. Scull

Philad. Set. 28 – Philad’s County – 200 acres – Gabriel Isenberg 1748 Pennsylvania by the Propreitaries

Whereas by virtue of a Warrant under our seal bearing the date the third day of December 1737, Survey was made by one Matthew Specht a certain towards Maxatawney in Philadelphia County under certain conditions in the said Warrant mentioned, which conditions not having been complied with by Matthew Specht, the said warrant and Survey made in pursuance thereof are become utterly void And Gabriel Isenberg of the said County having requested that we would be pleased to grant him the said land and agree to pay to us and the consideration and the money which ought to have been paid by the said Matthew Specht for the same, these are therforeto authorize and require you to accept and receive into your office the Survey of the said tract of land and make reutn thereof into our Secretary’s Office for the use of and behoof of the said Gabriel Isenberg, in order for further confirmation, and in so doing this shall be your sufficient. Given under my Hand and the Seal of the Land Office by virtue of certain Powers from the said Proprietaries at Philadelphia this 28th day of September, 1748.”

Anthony Palmer
To Nicholas Scull Surveyer General

These records can be found in the Survey Book – vol C-81, page 207; PA Archives – 3rd Series, page 25; Land Office Records, Harrisburg, PA, Patent Book #1, page 267.

The map on the following page shows the nearness of this land that Gabriel bought from Matthew Specht and the land that Simon Isenberg owned.

(Map on page 21 of the Bahney book)

While in this area, Gabriel Isenberg joined with relatives and neighbors in the building of Dunkel’s Reformed Church where seven of his eleven children were baptised. He held this land for 18 years and in 1762 sold his property to Anthony Walters. The present owners (1975), the Heilmans, have told us that as far back as they have knowledge of, the land was used for raising cattle. Fields of corn and alfalfa were grown to feed the cattle. A spring house which the Heilmans said was once used as the tax collector’s office is still standing – the oldest building on the land. Gabriel served as tax collector in 1760.

We have no record in Berks County, PA for Gabriel Eisenberg after 1762. We assume that is was about this time that he and Eve moved to Frederick Co, Md. It seems evident that in this move to Maryland they were accompanied by others who had been neighbors in the Pennsylvania area – The Swedners, Schmauses (Smouse), and Haspelhorns. All of these names start to appear in Frederick Co., MD records of this time.

It is not too difficult to understand the decision to move to Maryland. Many thought the taxes were too high and too frequent. There was the threat of the Indians who had become unfriendly through the French and Indian War period. And, in addition, there was the attractive offer of land in Maryland. As early as 1733, a proclamation by the proprietor stated “Being Desirous to Increase the Number of Honest people within our Province of Maryland and willing to give encouragement to such who come and Reside there on” Lord Baltimore offered any head of family two hundred acres on “the back lands of the Northern or Western boundaries” where, he understood there were “several large Bodies of Fertile Lands fit for Tillage.” Not only were generous terms outlined for paying the purchase price, quit-rents, taxes, but also Baltimore assured all prospective settlers that they would be “as well secured in their Liberty and property in Maryland as any of his Majesty’s Subjects in any part of the British Plantations in America without Exception.” This is documented on page 176, “Pastors and People” vol 1, Charles H. Glatfelter, and the Maryland Archived #28, page 25-26.

Enoch, the fourth mentioned Eisenberg name in Berks County records, lived in Rockland Township which is near Greenwich Township. His name does not appear in any of the church records of the two townships, nor does his name appear in any tax record that we have found. However, his name does appear in land turnovers.

He was the first of the know Eisenbergs to purchase land in what was then Philadelphia County, later Berks County. A land grant book for Philadelphia County shows that Enoch Eysenberg took out a warrant for 100 acres of land, under warrant of June 3, 1743. This land surveyed on the 10th day of May, 1745 and “situate among the Olney hills” turned out to be 160 acres and 78 perches (see warrantee map below). This was part of a tract of land called “Assyria”. Patent granted to George Ulrich Fisher, Marhc 26, 1737 and to Enoch Eysenberg June 2, 1743. This is in Survey Book C-75, page 260. He paid 15 pounds, 10 shillings for the land and quit rent of one half penny sterling for each acre every year. The patent grant to George Fisher and to Enoch Eysenberg was conveyed to Henry Hoffman who got the deed to the land February 10, 1790. This is from Patent Book vol P-16, page 152. (map on page 23 Bahney book)

This land, presently owned by Mrs. George Rohrer, is a fruit farm (apples) – Stoney Ridge Orchards. Her family had the soil tested to show what would grow. It is quite hilly and the result of the test showed it would be good for growing apples and not much else. This house is in excellent condition and bears the date 1797 and the initials H.H. In back of the house is a round smokehouse that Mrs. Rohrer says predates the house. So, in all probability, Enoch may have built it.

About a mile from the house is the Sally Ann Furnace, In Berks County, Pennsylvania. It may be assumed that Enoch may have done more with iron than he did with growing produce.

On the land, a short distance from the house, lies the site of the early meeting place of the various tribes of the Delaware or Lenne Lenape Indian Nation. This area has been found to hold many, many Indian relics, especially arrowheads. D. H. Brunner in his book on the Indians of Berks County, attests to this. Two of these were given to me by a local collector. The Harrisburg Museum has told me that the one is a spear head and is older than the common arrowhead.

There is no evidence that Enoch went to Maryland when Gabriel did. It has been suggested to us by our German genealogist, Mrs. Eward-Jahr, that this Enoch may have been the father of the other Eisenbergs in Berks County, and the Enoch of the German records. She thinks that after his mother’s death in 1727 (his father having died in 1710), that he brought his family to the New World. There is no known record to prove this.

The tradition in the family is that four brothers came here from Germany. It is tradition and there is no factual evidence to prove this. Perhaps only time will hold the secret as to what is really correct.

Following is an additional note supplied by
Don Berkebile of Mercersburg, PA

Just as the preparation of the Isenberg history reaches the final stages for publication, one more effort has been made to identify and document the parents of Gabriel the immigrant, and to identify his wife Maria Eva. Recently a highly experienced and competent researcher has been encountered, Mrs. Beverly Tubbs, of Morrison, Oklahoma, and she was engaged to work on our problem, with the hope that she might succeed where others have failed. While a massive and heroic effort was put forth, the problems still remain unresolved, yet the knowledge gained may be of sufficient import to justify inclusion here. Some of the data found is suggestive, and additionally, the disclosure of the material covered may inspire others to find something that has been missed.

First, it can be said that Mrs. Tubbs is in agreement with the German researcher, Mrs. Ewald-Jahr, in the belief that Enoch, born in 1689, is the father of Gabriel and Simon. It is doubly unfortunate that this cannot yet be documented, and that the Isenbergs have thus far not been found on any ship’s passenger lists. Mrs. Tubbs believed that the Enoch gound in Rockland Township is the 1689 Enoch, and the father of Gabriel and Simon, although she questions whether Nicholas is an Isenberg at all (yet it must be remembered that the father of the 1689 Enoch, was named Nicholas). It is found in Pennsylvania records that the spelling of Nicholas’ name is consistently Ironman/Eisman, etc and never with the berg ending. Further it is found that the names of Hans George Issseman, Ja Nicklas Isseman, Petder Eisenmann, Sr., and Petder Eisenmann, Jr. are found on a 1749 passenger list, and it is thought that this Nicklas may be the one we are finding in Berks County in the 1750’s and later.

Little data survives on which to judge Enoch, but the fact that he was the first to purchase land, in 1743 (this land was not sold by Enoch’s heirs until 1790), suggests that he may have been the eldest, or the 1689 Enoch. Also he does not appear as a sponsor at any christenings for the Isenberg births that started in the late 1740’s, so he may have been dead by that time. Neither does he appear on any tax lists, which start in 1753. Insufficient data has been found on this estate to prove his family, for no probate papers have been found pertaining to Enoch.

It has long been puzzling and frustrating that the documentation for the marriage of Gabriel to Maria Eva cannot be found. Several of the Isenberg researchers, noting the apparent intimacy of the Isenberg and Swedner families in both Pennsylvania and Maryland, have long believed that Maria Eva was a Swedner. Only one farm lay between that of Gabriel and Marin Swedner in Greenwich Township, and it was thought that perhaps Gabriel married a neighbor. Martin died there in 1757, but when Gabriel later bought land in Maryland, he immediately sold part of ti to Martin’s son, John, so the families continued as neighbors in a new area. John Swedner also named a daughter Eva, which is suggestive, but not convincing. Now however, we find evidence that this theory is probably incorrect, for estate papers of Martin Swedner (April 1757), and later his widow, Anna Maria (Sept 1757) suggest that there were only two children, John and Anna Maria, who married Peter Haak. Further, no Isenberg or Swedner has ever been found who sponsored a child for the other family. It is a common custom that sponsors are often relatives, yet the variety of surnames seen among the Isenberg sponsors makes us wonder if these folks are all relatives, or perhaps only close friends (Christ, Faust, Graff, Rebenbuler and Breidman) Enoch does prove to be Gabriel’s father, it is possible that Gabriel’s mother, and not his wife, was a Swedner, for Enoch’s wife remains unidentified.

During the initial part of her work, Mrs. Tubbs suggested that Maria Eva might have been a Bieber/Beaver. First she noticed that down in Rockland Township, the farm next to Enoch belonged to John Biebers. Later, up in Greenwich Township, Gabriel’s next door neighbor was Lawrence Bieber, believed to be the son of John. Gabriel’s land had been purchased from Sarah Beverin (in German usage, “in” was sometimes added to a surname to denote female). It is not known who Sarah was, except that she had a son, George, but is has not thus far been possible to properly assemble these Bieber folks into a meaningful family. Finally, in 1754, Gabriel and Maria Eva sponsored a child for Lawrence Bieber and wife – a daughter named Maria Eva. Possibly future research will establish any relationship between the Isenbergs and Biebers.

Still another possibility exists for Maria Eva. In 1747 her first child John George, was sponsored by John George Christ, and in other matter too, the Christ name is found associated with the Isenbergs. The family of Hendrick Christen is found on a 1732 passenger list, although no ages are given. Among his daughters are both a Maria and an Eva. This family is later found in Maxatawny Township, which is between Greenwich and Rockland Townships.

Mrs. Tubbs continues her research on this problem, but since Mrs. Bahney’s work is now ready for publication, we can only include this statement of findings, rather than the conclusion we had hoped for. In desperation, Mrs. Tubbs, is also searching the records of any family known to have been a neighbor or on intimate terms with the Isenbergs, in hope that some reference to Maria Eva Isenberg will be found. Records thus far searcher for Eisenberg and related names include: for Philadelphia County, PA, Wills Administrations, Orphans Courts, Deed Grantors, Court Partition Deeds, Warrants, Surveys and Patents; For Berks County, PA, Warrants, Taxation and Exoneration Lists, Deed Grantors, Willls, Administrations, and Bonds.