|Birth: ||Sep. 1, 1820|
|Death: ||Feb. 2, 1892|
Mr. Jacob Dreibelbis was the mentor of my great great grandpa the saddler, Gilbert Romberger. Jacob Dreibelbis taught my ancestor the art of custom horse collar making and saddlery.
This was not a small thing - while saddles were interchangable amongst horses, collars required custom fitting by a skilled and patient professional. The rule, then as now, is "one horse, one collar" because too big a collar means friction and injury to the horse, while too small means choking and breathing problems. A well-fitted horse collar distributes the load and allows the animal to use all its strength when pulling, while protecting its windpipe - a critical thing in the days when horses made all farming, towing, transportation, and land-clearing possible. Additionally, a horse can use its strong hind legs to push forward into the collar, rather than pulling with its front shoulders and legs. In fact, a properly fitted collar can triple the weight a horse can transport.
Interestingly, at the time of this writing, horse collar making is a dying art in countries where horses and other draft animals are no longer needed by many people on a daily basis, but developing countries are sorely in need of such professionals. According to Harness-Aid, a UK-based animal welfare organization whose goal is to "reduce the serious injury and morbidity to draught animals (donkeys, mules, horses) caused by inappropriate harness" such working animals are at risk in the third world, noting that "harness related injuries to working equines are common and are the direct cause of unnecessary suffering and distress."
If you'd like to see a British horse collar maker at work, see this short video which opens in a new window.
While Jacob Dreibelbis is no relation to my family, he deserves to be remembered by us. It is because of his tutelage that Gilbert Romberger could raise his large family (16 children total) on an income derived from this craft, as well as from farming.
Further, "Dalmatia, Pennsylvania, the First 200 Years, A Bicentennial History, 1798-1998" tells us that in 1865 when Dalmatia's public school system was adopted, Jacob served on the first board. Perhaps it was Jacob's interest in education that led my great great grandpa to value it; in a time not everyone went to school, and in particular girls often did not attend, my great great grandpa Gilbert made sure his own children got a fine education at the Berrysburg Seminary.
Mr. Dreibelbis comes from a long old Pennsylvania line which is well documented in "Genealogical and Biographical Annals of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania" by J. L. Floyd, published in Chicago, Illinois in 1911. Page 759 begins the outline of his family. The section immediately below is about Jacob. Below that is the entire Dreibelbis section in the event the reader would like to know more about the family. In particular, Jacob's father Isaac, a leather tanner, was quite a colorful man, remembered locally more than 50 years after his death when the above book was published. But back to his son, my great great grandpa's mentor, Jacob D. Dreibelbis... in addition to the section below about him from Floyd's only a few more tidbits have been found: according to "John Jacob Dreibelbis Family of America 1732-1990" by Harvey C. Dreibelbis (Harrowwood Books, 1991) Jacob Dreibelbis was very good at checkers. Depending on sources consulted, his mother was Katie Dobler/Cathrina Deibler, and his father Isaac R. Dreibelbis, and his wife Catherine/Katherina/Cathrina Wert/Wirt/Wertz. It was also from this book that I learned of Jacob's final resting place.
"Jacob Dreibelbis, the third son of Isaac, the pioneer in Northumberland County, was born Sept. 1, 1820. He learned the trade of saddler and became an expert in that line, following the business at Georgetown (aka Dalmatia) for nineteen years, after which he farmed in Lower Mahanoy Township besides working at his trade. The horse collars he made were quite famous, and there was a steady demand for them, some of his orders coming from a considerable distance. His farm consisted of seventy-four acres.
He stood five feet, seven and a half inches, and was a heavy-set man, weighing over two hundred pounds. His death occurred Feb. 2, 1892, and he and his family are buried at Georgetown (Dalmatia), where he, like his family generally, belonged to the Reformed congregation; his wife was a Lutheran member of that church.
Mr. Dreibelbis' first marriage was to Catharine Wert who was born March 15, 1823, daughter of Daniel Wert of Killinger, Dauphin County, and died April 11, 1873. They had a large family, viz.: Isaac, of Hegins, Schuylkill Co., Pa., who was a saddler by trade; Sarah, wife of Peter Walt of Dalmatia; Frank W.; Catharine, wife of John T. Wert; Jacob W., a butcher, of Millersburg, Pa.; Daniel, who lived below Matamoris, on the line of Dauphin County, and was killed while hauling railroad ties; Mary, wife of John S. Showers, of Oriental, Pa.; Charles, of Killinger, in the Lykens Valley, Pa.; and Emma, wife of Joseph Bingaman, of Dalmatia.
For his second wife Mr. Dreibelbis married Wilhelmina Portzline, of Oriental, Pa., who was born in 1840, and died in 1888. She became the mother of two children: William H., of Stone Valley; and Gertie, who married Calvin Strasser, of Oriental, Pennsylvania."
Floyd's section on the Dreibelbis clan:
"WILLIAM DREIBELBIS, who is engaged in farming along the Susquehanna river, near Dalmatia, Northumberland County, was born May 5, 1847, son of Abraham Dreibelbies and grandson of Isaac Dreibelbis, and is a member of a family which was established in America during the Provincial days of Pennsylvania. The name is now found with both spellings, Dreibelbies and Dreibelbis.
The early home of this family was in southeastern Switzerland, in the part originally a portion of what is now the German Empire. John Jacob Dreibelbis (Dreibelbies) came to America from Hannesthal, Switzerland, crossing the ocean on the ship "Mary" from London, and landing at Philadelphia Oct. 26, 1732. Its passenger list showed sixty-nine male passengers over sixteen years of age, and one hundred and twenty-two women and children. It is probable that John Jacob was single. He used to say in the spring of the year, "now the Rhine is overflowing, because of the snow melting on the Alps." The exact date that he settled in Berks County is uncertain, but in 1743 he settled on the farm located about a quarter of a mile east of Fleetwood, now the property of Milton Shollenberger. This farm originally consisted of 157 acres, but it has since been divided into two farms, one now owned by Charles Leibelsberger. On the part owned by Mr. Shollenberger, John Jacob Dreibelbis built the first set of buildings near a spring of fine water, which the Indians named "Dreibelbis Spring." This spring and the streams in that vicinity were alive with brook trout until some time before the Civil war. John Jacob Dreibelbis was a farmer and became a very extensive land owner. In 1759 he was the largest taxpayer in Richmond Township, paying a federal tax of thirty pounds. On April 11, 1752, he obtained by warrant from the Province two tracts of land located in Richmond Township, Berks County, one being for fifty acres and the other for one hundred. On Feb. 3, 1753, he obtained a warrant for one hundred acres, and on April 12, 1753, for five hundred acres. In appearance Mr. Dreibelbis was small and of dark complexion, with black eyes and hair, indicating that he was of Jewish extraction, as were the Kelchners, Wanners, Biebers and the family of Merkles in the same vicinity. He died in 1761. He married either a Merkel or a Rothermel, probably the first mentioned and daughter of Georg Merkle, and his six children, three sons and three daughters, were: Abraham; Martin; Jacob; Mary Elizabeth, who married John Wanner; Mary Magdalena, who married (second) Martin Wanner; and Philibena, who went with her brother Martin to Schuylkill Haven, married William Koch (her three daughters married, respectively, a Huntsinger, a Rausch and a Holler). The last will and testament of John Jacob Dreibelbis, made Feb. 1761, and probated Feb. 21, 1761, is written in good English and is on record in Will Book 1, page 94. To each of his three sons he gave a farm, and to each of his daughters 150 pounds in lawful money. "My oldest son Abraham shall have all that tract in Richmond Township, 157 acres." "My executors shall build a house, for my son Martin on land given him lying on the Mesilm (Moslem) Road. The house must be 30 feet long and 24 feet wide." "My executors shall also build a house for my son Jacob, on land bequested to him near the road leading from Eastown to Reading." "And lastly I will and do order that my younger children shall be taught to read and write." The will is signed by the testator in good, legible German. The executors were Abraham Dreibelbis and "‘my loving and trusty friend George Merkel." John Jacob Dreibelbis was buried in a private graveyard on the Shollenberger farm. He has no tombstone, but his grandson Daniel, who is also buried there has a marble tombstone. A number of the early members of the family are buried in this neglected spot.
Abraham Dreibelbis, eldest son of John Jacob, was born about 1749 and died in December, 1803, and is buried in the same cemetery as his father. He was engaged in farming on the homestead, and at his death left a large estate. By his wife, Anna Margaret he had had children: Daniel obtained the homestead; Abraham obtained the gristmill; Peter received 300 pounds; gold and silver money; Maria Barbara married John Hask;Isaac Dreibelbis, son of Abraham, was born Aug. 3, 1778, in Richmond Township, Berks Co., Pa., and was the pioneer of the family in Northumberland County, whither he moved in 1805. He settled in what is now Lower Mahanoy Township, in which region his descendants are now quite numerous. He was a farmer, and the Benjamin Philips place near Hickory Corners is still pointed out as the "Essack" Dreibelbis farm, his name being given the German pronunciation. He was a tall man dark complexioned (showing plainly his Jewish origin) and very strong. He followed tanning as well as farming, and the old tannery which he continued to carry on until shortly before his death stood between the two houses on what is now the Benjamin Philips farm; the ruins may be seen from the road, part of the foundation yet remaining. Mr. Dreibelbis died June 29, 1853. and is buried at Zion's (Stone Valley) Church, with which he had been identified as a member of the Reformed congregation.
"Essack" Dreibelbis was quite a character, and the old residents of the vicinity still delight to relate certain anecdotes concerning him. In his day the nearest tavern was at Georgetown. One night he and a neighbor spent some time at the tavern, and on their way home the neighbor, in misery over the results of a too free indulgence in applejack, laid down under a tree, saying: "Mein freund Essack; ich mus storben. Ich cons nimmermeir stenden." [My friend Essack, I have to die. I cannot stand it any more.] "Essack" replied: "Ach nein, freund: Du storbst nicht. So hab ich sahr oft gafaldt in meiner zeit." [Oh, no, friend. You are not going to die. I have often felt that way in my time.] On one occasion he came home late and could not find the keyhole. His wife refusing, under the conditions, to comply with his command to "mach die dier ouf" [open the door, literally 'make the door open'] he made the request again, and when she still refused he said: "Wen du nich ouf mocht den use ich em Essack sei schussel," [If you do not open the door, I shall use Essack's key], brought the ax, and broke in the door. Afterward the ax was often referred to jocularly as "Um Essack sei schlissel" [Essack's key]. The wife is buried near Killinger, Pa. This pioneer couple reared a family of eight children, three sons and five daughters, as follows: Abraham is mentioned below; Isaac died in Kansas, where his son Joseph is in business, having a large store; Jacob, who was a saddler by trade, lived and died in Northumberland County and is buried at Dalmatia; Catharine married George Wert; Mary (or Polly), born in 1817, died in 1885, was the wife of Elias Boyer (1815-1891); another daughter married David Hain; Harriet married Joseph Licht; Sallie, who married Joseph Shreffler, is now (1910) in her ninety-ninth year, but is well preserved (she lives with her sons-in-law, Joseph Diehl and Henry Hendricks, and has her home between Danville and Northumberland).
Abraham Dreibelbies, son of Isaac, was born May 23, 1812. He obtained the homestead and was a lifelong farmer in Lower Mahanoy Township, where he died on his farm Jan. 12, 1863. He had one hundred acres of land under cultivation, and one hundred acres of woodland, and was one of the prosperous and substantial citizens of his day. Like many of his family he was of dark complexion, and physically was of medium size. He was a Reformed member of the Stone Valley Church. His wife, Elizabeth (Wentzel), was a daughter of Stophel and Leah (Adam) Wentzel. She married Peter Burrel after Mr. Dreibelbies died, and lived to be eighty years, seven months, eighteen days old, dying Sept. 9, 1900. To Mr. and Mrs. Dreibelbies were born children as follows: William; Isaac, who lives at Paxton, Pa.; Katie, Mrs. George Phillips; Polly, Mrs. Francis Bickel; Malinda, Mrs. Reily Messner; Benneville, of Dalmatia, Pa.; and Sarah, Mrs. B. F. Brown.
William Dreibelbis was reared to farming, and about 1870 began that work on his own account at the place where he has since lived in Lower Mahanoy Township. This tract consists of forty acres, besides which he owns a three-acre island in the Susquehanna river. Mr. Dreibelbis is a highly respected citizen of his community, where his industrious and useful life is known to all. He has served as supervisor of his district, having been elected to that office by the Republican party, of which he has been a faithful member. In 1869 Mr. Dreibelbis married Caroline Richenbach, daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth (Longanecker) Richenbach, of Snyder County, Pa., and they have had a family of twelve children, three sons and nine daughters, namely: M. Elizabeth, now the wife of William Pardoe; Julian, wife of William Hogan; William A., who married Ida R. Heckert; Benjamin F., of Dalmatia, Pa.; Sarah R., wife of Isaac Hinkel; Myran Daisy, wife of Frank Fetter; Edward N., who married Gertrude Bohner; Triphena M., wife of Isaac Heintzleman; Cardia E.; Ella V.; Emma A.; and Cedia M. Mr. Dreibelbis and his family are members of the Reformed Church. The burial place of this branch of the Dreibelbis family has long been at the Stone Valley (Zion's) Church in Lower Mahanoy Township.
Isaac Dreibelbis, the second mentioned of the three sons of Isaac, the pioneer in Northumberland County, moved out to Kansas, where he became engaged in farming. He was also a tanner, having learned the trade from his father. He married Catharine Witmer daughter of George Witmer, and they had two sons, Joseph and Benjamin, the former of whom is now a business man in Kansas. Benjamin left home and has never since been heard from.
Jacob Dreibelbis, the third son of Isaac, the pioneer in Northumberland County, was born Sept. 1, 1820. He learned the trade of saddler and became an expert in that line, following the business at Georgetown for nineteen years, after which he farmed in Lower Mahanoy Township besides working at his trade. The horse collars he made were quite famous, and there was a steady demand for them, some of his orders coming from a considerable distance. His farm consisted of seventy-four acres. He stood five feet, seven and a half inches, and was a heavy-set man, weighing over two hundred pounds. His death occurred Feb. 2, 1892, and he and his family are buried at Georgetown (Dalmatia), where he, like his family generally, belonged to the Reformed congregation; his wife was a Lutheran member of that church. Mr. Dreibelbis' first marriage was to Catharine Wert who was born March 15, 1823, daughter of Daniel Wert of Killinger, Dauphin County, and died April 11, 1873. They had a large family, viz.: Isaac, of Hegins, Schuylkill Co., Pa., who was a saddler by trade; Sarah, wife of Peter Walt of Dalmatia; Frank W.; Catharine, wife of John T. Wert; Jacob W., a butcher, of Millersburg, Pa.; Daniel, who lived below Matamoris, on the line of Dauphin County, and was killed while hauling railroad ties; Mary, wife of John S. Showers, of Oriental, Pa.; Charles, of Killinger, in the Lykens Valley, Pa.; and Emma, wife of Joseph Bingaman, of Dalmatia. For his second wife Mr. Dreibelbis married Wilhelmina Portzline, of Oriental, Pa., who was born in 1840, and died in 1888. She became the mother of two children: William H., of Stone Valley; and Gertie, who married Calvin Strasser, of Oriental, Pennsylvania.
Frank W. Dreibelbis, son of Jacob, was born in 1850 at Georgetown, in Lower Mahanoy Township, and is engaged at present in farming in that Township. When less than nineteen years old he learned the milling business, which he followed for six years. In 1884 he began farming at his present location, having a tract of 115 acres, some of which is woodland. There is some limestone on this land. Mr. Dreibelbis is a Republican in politics, and since 1899 has been overseer of the poor in his district. He is a Reformed member of the Dalmatia Church, of which he was deacon seven years and elder four years.
In 1874 Mr. (Frank) Dreibelbis married Lizzie Philips, daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth (Philips) Philips, and they have had these children: Jacob F., who lives in Little Mahanoy Township; Malinda, wife of John H. Bohner, of Elizabethville, Pa.; Katie, wife of William Koppenhaver, of Malta, Pa.; and Lubin L., who is a butcher at Dalmatia.
Jacob F. Dreibelbis, son of Frank W., was born June 20, 1875, in Lower Mahanoy Township, was educated in the public schools, and was reared to farm life. For five years he followed butchering, four years at Hickory Corners and one year at his present location, in Little Mahanoy Township, to which he moved in the spring of 1906, when he purchased the place. This was an old Dunkelberger homestead, later owned by Samuel Long, and Mr. Dreibelbis purchased it from Silas Hensyl. The tract comprises about 160 acres, 100 acres of which have been cleared. The land is valuable, and there are a number of substantial improvements, including a large brick house. The water supply is as good as any in the State, both in regard to quality and quantity, and in 1910 Mr. Dreibelbis made a notable improvement on his place when he had the water piped from Trevorton Mountain to his home, both house and barn being now supplied with running water; this is what is known as red shell or gravel water, and is always pure and fresh. He has a complete farm stock, modern machinery, and all the facilities for carrying on his work in the most systematic and up-to-date manner, being one of the intelligent and progressive men of his neighborhood.
In September, 1903, Mr. Dreibelbis married Mary A. Koppenhaver, daughter of John Koppenhaver, and three children have been born to them: Mabel Grace, Helen Irene and Leah Elizabeth. He and his family are members of the Reformed congregation at St. Peter's Church, Mahanoy. In politics he is a Republican, and he has served as election inspector."
(end of book quotation)
Many of the Dreibelbis/Dreibelies clan are listed on FindAGrave; I have focused above on providing links to Jacob's direct ancestors.
Vielen dank to Edda Meinikat who did the translations of the Isaac "Essack" Dreibelis stories. Quite a feat to take written Pennsylvania Dutch, recognize what was being said in true German, and then translate it to English. Thanks to you Edda, for your unflagging friendship and help.
Catharine Wert Dreibelbis (1823 - 1873)*
Willemina Portzline Dreibelbis (1840 - 1888)*
Isaac W Dreibelbis (1844 - 1906)*
Sarah W Dreibelbis Wald (1846 - 1912)*
Melinda S Dreibelbis (1848 - 1849)*
Frank W Dreibelbis (1850 - 1922)*
Catharine W Dreibelbis Wert (1852 - 1904)*
Jacob Wert Dreibelbis (1854 - 1930)*
Charles Wert Dreibelbis (1859 - 1933)*
Anna E Dreibelbis (1862 - 1866)*
Amelie R Dreibelbis (1865 - 1866)*
Trinity Church Cemetery
Created by: sr/ks
Record added: Apr 28, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 36483441