Lycoming County Genealogical Society
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On September 23, 1734, thirty-year-old Peter Gortner disembarked from the ship Hope in the Philadelphia harbor. He obtained a land warrant for 100 acres of land in Philadelphia County--present-day Berks County--between Maxatawney and Oley townships on March 16, 1737. Another 50 acres of land in District Township between Maxatawney and Oley townships was warranted to him October 18, 1745. At some other point, he acquired another 50 acres of land.
Peter died in 1760 in Albany Township, leaving behind very little as evidence to the life he lived for 56 years. His will dated April 24, 1760 mentions his wife Maria Caterina and his six children: Peter, George, George David, Dorothy, Maria Elisabeth and Jacob. Jacob was the eldest son and inherited his father's two hundred acres. He was directed in his father's will to pay his brother Peter 13 pounds and each of the other siblings, 10 pounds.
The Jerusalem "Red" Church in Albany Township was also called "Jacob Gortner's" church following a disagreement with Rev. Daniel Schumacher. Rev. Schumacher left and started Frieden's or the "White" Church. Not long afterwards, Jacob and his family moved to North Carolina. He appears in the Albany Township tax records from 1764-1771 and the Windsor Township tax records in 1782-1783.
The second son Peter, Jr. probably remained in Berks County. His name appears in the Albany Township tax records in 1762, 1765, 1766, 1767 and 1789. He was naturalized in Albany Township August 25, 1765.
George appears in the tax records of Albany Township in 1752, 1754-1762 and in Windsor Township records 1766-1768, 1770-1773. He received land warrants on November 28, 1750, March 13, 1752 and April 12, 1755 for a total of 125 acres in Albany Township near the Allemaengel Road. He was naturalized in Windsor Township October 22, 1765. The following day, he received a warrant for 150 acres in Windsor Township.
George married an Eva Susanna, who was possibly the daughter of Heinrich Beier of Tulpehocken Township. They had the following children:
1. Anna Maria, b. 11 Jan 1752; confirmed 1766; m. ca 1771
2. Jacob, b. 18 Jan 1754; confirmed possibly 10 Jun 1775, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Middletown, Frederick Co., Md.; d. 10 Sep 1813; m. Catharine Hill
3. Christina Catharine, b. 3 May 1755; bap. 3 Sep 1755; d. 3 Jan 1824; m. 1783 John Jacob Hill
4. Philip Henry, b. 12 Dec 1757; confirmed 1773; d. 4 Feb 1837; m. Maria Barbara Schneider
5. John, b. 1762; d. 1827; m. Rachael Fague
6. Maria Engel, b. 1763
7. George Michael, bap. 26 Dec 1765
8. Johann Henry. bap. 21 May 1771
9. John Daniel, b. 16 Aug 1773; bap. 30 Aug 1773; d. 25 Dec 1854; m. (1) Sarah Hill, (2) Catharine Neufer
In 1773 George left Berks County and settled in the frontier of present -day Lycoming County. As indicated on a deed of October 20, 1774 between John Alward and George Cotner (Gortner), weaver, George purchased 329 acres of land on the north side of Muncy Creek in Northumberland County, now Lycoming County. This land was across the creek from Shoemaker's Mills at the Wyalusing Indian Path crossing.
In a Now and Then article, daughter Christina is remembered as telling a story about visiting an Indian village in the Muncy hills with her father. Perhaps George, a weaver, traded his cloth with the Indians.
During the Revolutionary War, the Indians in the frontier areas sided with the British. In 1778 several families, including the Gortners, took refuge in Fort Muncy which was garrisoned by soldiers under a Captain Merkle. On August 23, 1778 George and Captain Merkle, probably a friend from Berks County, left the fort to check on George's corn crop. While walking, they were ambushed by Indians. George was killed and Captain Merkle received a nick on one ear. Captain Merkle escaped to the fort and returned with his soldiers. The Indians had taken George's scalp and left his mutilated body. George was buried in an unmarked grave on his land somewhere near Shoemaker's Mills. Not long afterwards, the settlers vacated the area during what came to be called the Great Runaway.
Following the war, George's descendants returned to Lycoming County and to their father's land. Immanuel Lutheran Church, the mother church of Lycoming County, was built in 1791 on that land and the family was actively involved in the life of the church. Some of the family moved into other pioneer lands, but a great many of George's descendants still remain in the valley today.
A descendant of Peter Jr. eventually settled in Lycoming
County. Today a number of his descendants also live within the boundaries
of Lycoming County.
Muncy was originally incorporated by the name of Pennsborough, 15th of March 1826; but was again incorporated, and its name and limits changed by act 19th of January 1827. It had 100 dwellings, 7 stores, 5 taverns, and 500 inhabitants. Within 5 miles of the borough were 7 grist mills and 3 woolen and cotton factories and 5 distilleries, which consume at least 25,000 bushels of grain per annum. Muncy Township: greatest length 10 miles; breath 5 miles; area 17,040acres; population in 1830 - 1000, taxables - 192. Muncy Creek Township: greatest length 10 miles, breath 8 miles; area17,040 acres. Population in 1830 - about 800, taxables - 179.