Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Historic Ancestoral Home in Pennsylvania

I have an amazing aunt on my dad's side of the family.  My Aunt Diane lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and just recently retired a few years ago from a lifetime of teaching.  She has her PhD and has taken on the project of researching our family history.  She plans to write a narrative and compile our family tree.  Each holiday she sends the kids wonderful stories and pictures of the family.  Since the 4th of July is almost upon us, I thought it would be nice to share the most recent photo she sent me of a family home from the 1700's.  She knows my love of old homes and we share this in common.

My aunt wrote to all the cousins that "this was the home where [our] great-great-great grandparents, Hartman and Salome Leithiser lived and where my great-great grandfather Isaac Leithiser grew up."

Aunt Diane contacted a woman descended from another line of the family- they spell the name Lighthiser (or Lightheiser). This distant relative sent her color pictures of the home and explained that she was told that "the house was originally a log house dating to the early 1700s.  Moreover, she is not decended from Hartman (2) and his wife, Salome who lived in the house. Her grandfather was Hartman's brother or cousin. The house seems characteristic of the early German/Swiss architecture of Pennsylvania..."

She writes that "Salome's maiden name was Rubi later spelled Ruby. Her parents were Heinrich and Catarina (Rathvon) Rubi. The Rubis came to America from Switzerland and settled on the shores of the Susquehanna River in PA. Apparently they were successful farmers and owned quite a bit of land. We are not sure when they bought the property where the house stands. The log cabin may have already been on the property when they arrived in the early 1700s. I don't know. I do know that Salome's family owned other farms in the area. This one, however, is the one in which Hartman and Salome lived. Hartman was not a farmer. He made his living on the river as a canal boatman. (That will be another story)."

This is the story Aunt Diane sent to the kids for President's Day a few years ago about the great-great-great-great grandmother Salome Leithiser.  I hope you enjoy it was much as we did.  Finding stories and old family pictures is a great way to celebrate our nations independence and teach our kids of the sacrifices and great challenges our fore fathers and kins sacrificed for our later generations freedoms and independence.  Happy Fourth of July!

Writtern By: Diane Kerbin to her grand niece and nephew about their great-great-great-great grandmother Salome Leithiser who live in the house in the pictures above. This is the story of her trip to Washington.  Aunt Diane explained that there was "no actual documentation - ie. a diary, letter, or pass from Lincoln.  It was a story passed through the family and printed in a Lancaster newspaper that [she] found at the historical society in York, Pennsylvania."

The Leithiser family has its own special story about Abraham Lincoln.

It’s a story about your great-great-great-great grandmother. Her name was Salome Leithiser. She lived with her husband, Hartman, and her five sons, George, Jacob, Henry, Isaac, and Nathaniel in this old farm house near the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania.

While Abraham Lincoln was president there was a war in the United States. It was called the Civil War. Salome’s husband, Hartman, and her oldest sons were soldiers in that war.

Salome must have missed her husband and sons very much when they were sent away to war.

One day Salome learned that Hartman and her son George were at an army camp in West Virginia. She wanted to visit them.  She knew it would be a long and difficult trip, but she decided to go to the camp. She would not go alone. She would take her young son Nathaniel, called Tan by his brothers, with her. She packed cookies and other food to take on the journey.

She saddled a horse, lifted her young son, Tan, onto the horse with her, and together they rode all the way to West Virginia.

When they reached the army camp where Hartman and George were stationed Salome was very disappointed. The soldiers who stood guard at the entrance to the camp would not let her in the camp. 

Salome was tired from the long horseback ride from Pennsylvania, but she would not take “no” for an answer. She was determined to see her husband and son. She lifted up little Tan and put him in the saddle in front of her again. She turned her horse around and headed for Washington, D.C. where President Lincoln lived. She thought the president could help her because she knew he was commander-in-chief of the army.

When they arrived in Washington, they headed for the White House. Salome and Little Tan went to the president’s office. Salome told the President what had happened when she tried to visit Hartman and George at the army camp in West Virginia. Little Tan stood by the President’s big desk and pulled himself up with his fingers over the edge it. He watched the President write a letter giving his mother and him permission to visit the Union Army Camp in West Virginia.
This time the guards let Salome and little Tan in to visit Hartman and George. They must have been very happy to see each other again. When it was time to leave, Salome and Tan got on their horse and rode back to their home in Pennsylvania.

This is a lovely story that my children still love to hear.  My aunt also wrote in her letter to us about the Civil War that "the West VA assignment took place during Hartman's second enlistment. He actually fought in two earlier battles in which Union troops suffered devastating defeats: Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. His battalion also endured the horrible "mud march". He was discharged just before Gettysburg and re-enlisted late in the war. Perhaps he needed the money, perhaps he wanted to be near his son ,  perhaps he was doing his patriotic duty - or maybe all three.

* Of note, Gen. Stonewall Jackson, Lee's greatest general, was killed at Chancellorsville"

Thanks Aunt Diane for the great stories about our family and US History!


  1. Pennsylvania is a great city to have a house at as its often called the tourist spot. Having a house like this at the top of the hills is just even more fantastic.

  2. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could e-mail me?


  3. This is so naïve and beautiful. I loved it. Old Family homes are big treasure.