US East Coast Drive with Two Cousins: Selinsgrove

May 10-11, 2019

This morning, May 10, we drove from Gettysburg to Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania and arrived about 1:30 in the afternoon.

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For the next two nights we will stay at the Selinsgrove Inn. After checking in we walked into town for lunch, and since it was such a beautiful day we ate outside where we enjoyed the activity on Market Street.

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Selinsgrove is an historical place for our family. Mathias App, my 4th great grandfather and youngest son of Johann Michael App, settled here in 1790 after leaving the family farm near Walnutport, Pennsylvania. Mathias’ older brother, Friedrich, inherited the farm… it is the way it was in those days. However, Mathias was a resourceful person and purchased lots of rich farmland north of Penn’s Creek near Selinsgrove (originally written as “Selins Grove”) from founder, Anthony Selin.

Mathias’ sons also farmed the land in that valley, and the App School was located on the original farm. The 1790 home and some of the original farm buildings still exist although the 1790 barn burned a few years ago.

On the first evening Laura, Todd, Jim & Carole App, and Bo Fasold & his wife met us at the inn at 5:00 for conversation and to meet Pius.

 

It was sort of an historical moment to have a cousin from Europe visit the place where this line of Apps began their lives in America. We have no record of any German Apps ever visiting here, nor of any American Apps visiting Germany in those days.

Afterward Todd and Laura treated Pius and me to dinner in downtown Selinsgrove. It was a pleasant evening and a nice walk back to the inn afterward.

The next morning, May 11, Pius and I visited the “Trinity (New) Lutheran Cemetery”, behind the Selinsgrove Inn where Anthony Selin and lots of Apps are buried. Leonard App, my third great grandfather and son of Mathias App, is the oldest family member buried here and in sight of his old home on Market Street.

 

The home is gone now, but it was donated in the 1800’s by Leonard to be the Susquehanna Female College before it was merged into the Missionary Institute (now known as Susquehanna University).

Jeremiah App is also buried here.

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New Lutheran Cemetery

He is the brother of Solomon App and is the one included in the Civil War diary that has been mentioned and quoted. They are both sons of Leonard App. The author of the diary, Michael S. Schroyer, is also buried here.

Laura (App) Aungst joined us and we spent the rest of the morning touring Selinsgrove on foot… it was much easier to see in this way. Governor Snyder’s Mansion, the site of John App’s home on the northeast corner of Pine and Market Streets (he is Leonard’s brother and donated land and money to start the Missionary Institute) were first on the walk. Then there was Trinity (New) Lutheran Church, Sharon (Old) Lutheran Church behind which is a cemetery where Mathias App and his wife are buried. John App’s barn and stables had caught fire in the late 1800’s and burned about one-third of the borough of Selinsgrove. It was later determined to be arson. We visited Susquehanna University and the Union Cemetery where many Apps, including Solomon App are buried.

 

Solomon was Jeremiah’s brother, as you know. Incidentally, the birth date of Solomon engraved on his headstone is in error by 10 years. Solomon was born in 1841 and not 1851 as the stone indicates.

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Actual date of birth for Solomon is 1841. Union Cemetery.

We visited the 1790 farm which is on App Road. As you can see, this exact position in the universe is still popular with the Apps as we gather around the sign.

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At the 1790 farm.

Pius is the expert in taking panorama photos. He also restored the vintage farm photo from Laura into an iconic image of the farm during the 1920’s.

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Original 1790 App far, circa 1924

The former location of the 1790 barn can be seen from the current photos of the farm.

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1790 farm.

On Penn’s Creek, and on the old App farm, was the App Mill. It was a grist mill and today it is in a sad state of disrepair. However, we have some nice photos of it and some video from past years when it was in a better condition.

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App grist mill

In the afternoon Laura, Pius, and I visited Jim App at his home just outside of Selinsgrove. It is located on about 230 acres in the hills and is a beautiful place. At night he always brings the bird feeders inside so the bears do not get into them.

 

Earlier in the day when we were walking through Selinsgrove we passed a spot that has been forgotten for its significance. It was the southeast corner of Pine and Market Streets where W. F. Eckbert once lived.

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Southeast corner of Pine and Market Streets

Here is where the Civil War ended for diary writer, Michael S. Schroyer. His father had died before the war and his mother and two brothers had died during the war years. This is what happened at that corner on June 12, 1865 as written in his diary:

[Coming across the Susquehanna to Selinsgrove] “Hardly had our boat struck shore before the loved ones surrounded us, shook hands and kissed those for whom they waited so long to return. Strange to say yet true the first lady to kiss the writer became his wife in 1868.

“The company was formed and marched over to Market Street, Prof. J. H. Feehrer’s band leading off. The town was beautifully decorated. Owing to the recent floods, we crossed Penn’s Creek on trestle works, the bridge having been swept away. We marched up Market Street to the Lutheran Cemetery, where Captain Davis was buried [first soldier from Selinsgrove to be killed during the war]. Dr. Samuel Domer, a brother‑in‑law of the captain, made an address at the grave. We returned to W. F. Eckbert’s on the southeast corner of Pine and Market streets, where Mrs. Eckbert, who was a sister of Captain Davis, had prepared an elegant supper for Company G. This was the last supper before our final separation. After supper the relatives of the boys of the company from different parts of the county were in waiting to take home their dear ones who had escaped shot and shell.

“The writer gave each member of the company goodbye, until at last he stood alone, leaning against a post. Then the sad thought of home and mother came to my mind and if I ever missed my two dear brothers, who sacrificed their lives for their country, and mother and home it was then. I don’t think I ever spent a sadder short time in all my life than while standing at that post.”

History and stories can easily become forgotten, especially after 156 years. As thousands pass by this corner each day on foot or in cars this story is a reminder of the significance of times  gone by in our own communities.

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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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