In December 1776, the Battle of Trenton ended when more than 900 Hessian soldiers “agreed to lay down their arms,” Gen. George Washington later told John Hancock, president of the U.S. Congress. King George III had hired the Germans to help in suppressing the American Revolution.
Following their defeat at Trenton, many of these Germans were taken to Pennsylvania as prisoners of war. One of them was Johannes Schwalm, who after the war remained in the state and established a large family.. This week, one of the soldier’s descendants – N. Daniel Schwalm, a retired Line Mountain teacher – will tell members of the Northumberland County Historical Society about the experiences of his ancestor.
A long-time officer of the Johannes Schwalm Historical Association (JSHA), the Shamokin resident will speak at the society’s meeting on Thursday, May 16. The public is invited to attend the free program, which will begin at 7 p.m. at the society’s headquarters at 1150 N. Front St., Sunbury.
“My plan is to share the history of JSHA and the story of Johannes Schwalm and to encourage others of Hessian descent to document and share their stories,” said Schwalm, who contributed to the association’s 1977 book, “Johannes Schwalm, The Hessian.”
Many of the former POWs settled among the Pennsylvania Germans who lived in lower Northumberland County. The Stone Valley Cemetery near Dalmatia is said to have “the highest number of Hessian soldiers … of anywhere in the USA,” Schwalm said.
“The more I work with genealogies, the more I discover that birds of feather flocked together and inevitably during the first two generations in America, intermarriages with one or more other Hessian families occurred,” he said.
Schwalm said that there may be many other families in the region whose ancestors include a Hessian soldier. “In my mind we have only touched the tip of the iceberg in documenting other families’ Hessian stories locally,” he said.
Schwalm said that the JSHA is a non-profit organization dedicated to researching, collecting and disseminating data relating to German auxiliaries to the British Crown who fought in the Revolution and to their descendants. All objects, documents, books and materials owned by the association are available for research and examination, subject to their normal rules of access at Martin Library of the Sciences, Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster.
For more information, visit 570-286-4083.or call