US East Coast Drive with Two Cousins: We Meet in Philadelphia

May 6, 2019

Two cousins, one Swiss and the other American, are traveling this time on the east coast of the US discovering more family heritage. Pius App flew into Philadelphia yesterday (May 5, 2019) from his home in Davos Platz, Switzerland, and I drove in from my home in Bristol, Indiana.

Pius App and friends in front of his Berghotel Schatzalp in the Swiss Alps

He is the owner of Schatzalp, a ski area and historic hotel in the Swiss Alps about 1,000 feet (305 m) above Davos. We met in the Philadelphia Airport Marriott Hotel over a beer, and here is where we spent the first night.

Although Pius was born in Switzerland, both of our family lines come from Germany, and today we began our trip to visit the original App homestead where Johann Michael App settled after arriving in America 267 years ago in 1752. Michael, as he was known and my 5th great grandfather, came from a small area in southern Germany, and probably left for economic reasons. After his arrival in the colonies he did what most German immigrants did… he looked for land to settle that was away from other settlers, had good water, had good timber, and was good farmland. He chose a perfect place.

His original 80 acres is located about 70 miles (113 km) northeast of Philadelphia in what is Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Township in Northampton County, near a town called Walnutport.

1752 log home built by Michael App for his family

As you can imagine, almost every tree was a walnut tree and that is the material he used to build his log home in 1752. The cabin stood until 1985 when it finally fell down. It was snug and contained just two rooms – the first floor and the second floor– with the entire west end being the fireplace. It measured about 20 feet on each side. Unfortunately, the home did not last much longer than 1985 when it collapsed onto the road and was removed. The owner of the property salvaged what lumber he could and incorporated it as fireplace mantles and beams in the stone house he was renovating about 50 yards (50 m) away. This house

1799 Stone home of Friedrich App

The builder’s mark showing the date Friedrich’s house was completed in 1799

was originally built in 1799 by Michael’s son, Friedrich, from stones he found on his own 80 acres. The current owner of the home and the land (since 1983) gave us a tour of the place.






Barn built by Michael App in 1752-1753

Stone foundation on the northeast corner of the barn is preserved



Michael had also built a stone barn in 1752-1753. It was also taken down in 1985 because it was dangerously unstable. However, the current owner left a few stones standing from the northeast corner of the barn as a memorial. If you ever wondered what a Colonial barn looked like, this is it.









Along the way to the homestead, we visited some family members in two old German cemeteries.

Pius App visits Friedrich App and his wife, Barbara’s gravesite.

Gravestone of Friedrich App, Revolutionary War veteran

Friedrich App was a Revolutionary War veteran. We actually have three App Revolutionary War soldiers… Johann Michael App, his oldest son Friedrich, and his son Mathias.











The other family member was my 5th great-grandmother, Elisabet App, who died at the age of 29 in 1791 just a few days after giving birth to my 4th great-grandfather, Leonard App. Without her, none of my family line in America would exist.

Gravestone of Elisabet App, died 1791

Elisabet may have died from a disease. The stone’s writing is translated as: “Here Rests Elisabet App, wife of Mathias App (nee Homich) Born Nov 6, 1762. Died Jan 8, 1791. Age 29 years, 2 months, 2 days. “Ente von Plag” means, roughly, “Died of the Plague”.

Since the App homestead is so close to the Appalachian Trail (about 2 km, or a little over a mile) we found our way to the Danielsville trailhead. The trail looked a little “rough”, and to us we thought it might be a good idea to hike anywhere except on the trail itself.

Pius at the Spinnerstown Hotel Restaurant

Later that evening we went to the Spinnerstown Hotel Restaurant (near Quakertown, Pennsylvania) where we could “replenish our bodily stores” from just imagining ourselves hiking the trail.

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About storiesretoldblogger

I am an Elkhart, Indiana native and became interested in applying video to history when consumer video cameras were first introduced on the market in the late 1970’s. My production company, Stories Retold, specializes in preserving oral history, traditions, and values with video. Primarily interviewing individuals, I sometimes document families, and on occasion document an entire community. My niche is developing a personal relationship with clients which helps me to tell their story just the way they would like to have it told. Everyone has a story worth preserving, and I enjoy discovering interesting stories from people with whom I come into contact on a daily basis. In years to come, these videos will be priceless as they portray original stories complete with visual images and actual voices filled with all the primary material and emotion that was intended to be. I gain a strong sense of personal satisfaction with each completed project whether it involves an individual or an entire community.
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2 Responses to US East Coast Drive with Two Cousins: We Meet in Philadelphia

  1. Marthe Doll says:

    Family histories — always so fascinating!

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