The Old Homestead

Contact me at

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

- Romans 5:8


    Conrad Ernst was born June 24, 1735, in the Upper Palatinate in Germany. (1)
    Married Catharine Knauss on Feb. 18, 1766, at the Moravian Church in Bethlehem, Pa.  Catharina was born April 21, 1743, in Salisbury Township, Northampton County, Pa., to Sebastian Heinrich and Anna Catharine (Transue) Knauss. (2)
    Children: (3)
    Christian Ernst.
    Catharine Ernst, born April 9, 1771.  Died Aug. 29, 1788.
    Anna Rosina.  Married George Gold.
    Daniel Ernst, born May 8, 1780.
    Christina Ernst, born May 20, 1783.
    George Ernst.
    Conrad’s date of immigration is unknown.  What is certain is that many people from the impoverished Palatinate immigrated to Pennsylvania in the early 18th century to seek better opportunities.  It’s likely that Conrad did the same.
    He arrived in Pennsylvania sometime before early 1766, when he married Catharina Knauss at the Moravian Church in Bethlehem.  Catharina’s parents had been active in the Moravian Church there and it’s possible that Conrad had become a member by that point. (4)
    In 1769, the family moved to a farm near Bethlehem that was owned by the Moravian Church.  “In February of that year, the Moravians laid out two farms on their lands laying south of the Lehigh river, and let them to tenants.  The improvements on the upper Ysselstein place, served as a nucleus for the larger of the two, including, furthermore, the clearings that had been made about the Inn.  This farm, first known in official records as ‘Die Plantage beym Gasthaus zur Krone,’ was occupied in 1769 by Conrad Ernst, from Wald Angellock, in the Palatinate, and Ann C., daughter of Sebastian H. and Anna Catharine Knauss, of Emmaus, his wife. … Ernst was succeeded in April of 1779, by John Luckenbach.”  The German phrase mentioned here means “the plantation by the Crown Inn.” (5)
    In 1772, Conrad appears on the tax list for Bethlehem Township, where he owned 2 horses and 3 cows.  No real estate is mentioned, which isn’t surprising since he lived on a farm owned by the Moravians. (6)
    When the family left this farm in 1779, they moved to Emmaus in what is now Lehigh County.  Moravian death record of Conrad’s daughter Catherine indicates that she was born in Bethlehem in 1771 but moved to Emmaus in 1779 with her parents.  Emmaus was a Moravian settlement that was built on land donated by Conrad’s father-in-law, Sebastian Heinrich Knauss, and Jacob Ehrenhardt.  By the time the Ernst family moved to the settlement, Sebastian had died, but his wife was still alive.  Conrad’s children Daniel and Christina were baptized by the Moravian Congregation at Emmaus in 1780 and 1783.
    In tax records for 1781, Conrad is listed in Upper Milford Township, which abuts Emmaus.
    The family moved back to the Bethlehem area in the 1780s, possibly as early as 1783.  Conrad appears in Bethlehem Township in Pennsylvania’s 1786 census and the township’s tax lists for 1787 and 1788.  The 1788 list indicates that Conrad Earnst owned 3 horses and 5 cows, but no real estate. (7)
    Sometimes during 1788, the family moved to Nazareth Township in Northampton County.  Young Catharine’s death notice indicates that she was a “girl in Old Nazareth.”  She died on Aug. 29.
    Conrad Earnst is listed in Nazareth in the 1789 tax records.  At the time, he owned 3 horses and 4 head of cattle.  Again, no real estate is listed. 
    In 1790, the U.S. Census lists Conrad Ernst in Nazareth Township, Northampton County.  His household contained 4 males under 16 years old, 1 male 16 or older and 3 females.
    From 1786 to 1797, Conrad and Catharina appear several times as baptismal sponsors at the Moravian Congregation in Schoeneck, Northampton County.  Two of the baptized children were their own grandchildren – Philipp Ernst, son of Christian, and Georg Thomas Gold, son of George and Rosina Gold.  However, in both of those cases, the baptisms are listed among those of nonparishioners, an indication that some of Conrad’s children didn’t follow in his Moravian beliefs. (8)
    In 1792, Conrad Ernst purchased 400 acres of land “On the West side of Lehi below Kramers Cabbin” in Northampton County.  He was to pay the state of Pennsylvania 2 pounds 10 shillings per hundred acres.  The certificate for the sale was signed by Gov. Thomas Mifflin and dated April 3. (9)  Since Conrad wasn’t taxed for the land in 1798, it’s possible that he sold the land to someone else before that, or it’s possible that the original sale was never completed.
    In 1798, the U.S. direct tax list for Nazareth Township provides quite a bit of detail on the property where the family lived.  Although the property’s occupant is listed as Conrad Ernst, the owner was John Youngbey.  The 1-acre property contained a one-story wooden house that measured 28 by 38 feet.  The house was valued at $140.  It seems that Conrad lived within the bounds of the town of Nazareth by this point because he and all of his neighbors were taxed for 1-acres lots. (10)
    In the 1800 Census, Conrad Ernst is listed as living within the town of Nazareth.  His household contained 1 male under 10, 1 male age 15-25, 1 male 45 and older, 1 female 16-25 and 1 female 45 and older.
    In the 1810 Census, Conrad Ernst is listed as living in Upper Nazareth Township.  His household contained 1 male 45 or older, 1 female 10-15 and 1 female 45 or older.
    Catharina died June 16, 1815.
    Conrad wrote his will on April 13, 1816, noting that he was “sick and Weak in Body but of sound mind Memory and understanding.”
    Conrad died June 11, 1818.
    Conrad and Catharine are buried at the Moravian cemetery in Nazareth. (11)

(1) Conrad’s birth date and place are listed in his death notice in Moravian church records.  They appear in “Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society,” Vol. 7, Moravian Historical Society, Nazareth, Pa., 1905, page 126.  While Conrad’s death notice in Moravian church records indicates that he was born in the Upper Palatinate, several histories of the Knauss family indicate that he immigrated to America from a place known as Wald Angelloch in the Palatinate.  It’s possible this was actually Waldangelloch, which is southeast of Heidelberg.  These Knauss histories are “History and Genealogy of The Knauss Family in American,” by James O. Knauss and Tilghman J. Knauss, Emaus, Pa., 1915, page 60, and a briefer account in “History of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania,” Vol. II, by Charles R. Roberts, Lehigh Valley Publishing Co., Allentown, Pa.,1914, page 694.  (2) The marriage date and Catharina’s birth date appear in “Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society,” Vol. 7, pages 125 and 126.  Pennsylvania Archives, Second Series, Vol. IX, page 113, notes the actual place of the marriage but says that the wedding occurred on Feb. 19, 1767, which is a year after the date in the Moravian records.  Catharine’s parents and birth date are listed in “Pennsylvania Births: Lehigh County, 1734-1800,” by John T. Humphrey, Washington, D.C., 1992, page 148.  The original source was the records of the Moravian Congregation at Emmaus in Salisbury, Township.  (3) The births of Daniel and Christina are listed in “Pennsylvania Births: Lehigh County, 1734-1800,” by John T. Humphrey, Washington, D.C., 1992, page 57.  The original source was the records of the Moravian Congregation at Emmaus in Salisbury, Township.  George and Daniel are mentioned in Conrad’s will, which appears in Northampton County Will Book 4, page 527, and also is available on  Christian and Rosina are mentioned in baptismal records, when Conrad and Catharina served as sponsors and the records state they are grandparents of the children.  The baptisms appear in “Eighteenth Century Vital Records from the Early Register of the Moravian Congregation at Shoeneck, Northampton County, Pennsylvania,” compiled by Charles M. Sandwick, Easton, Pa. 1978.  Catharine’s birth and death are mentioned in her cemetery record and death notice in “The Moravian Graveyards at Nazareth, Pa., 1744-1904,” by Edward T. Kluge, Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society, Volume 7, 1905, page 114.  Although her parents aren’t named, Conrad and Catharine are the only other Ernsts mentioned in the records and the biographical details in the younger Catharine’s notice match details of Conrad’s family.  (4) A Conrad Ernst was naturalized in Heidelberg Township, Berks County, on March 22, 1761.  However, a Conrad Ernst appears in tax records from that township at the same time our Conrad appears in Northampton County.  Thhe immigration record appears in “Naturalizations of Foreign Protestants in the American and West Indian Colonies,” Publications of the Huguenot Society of London, 1921, vol. 24.  (5) The quote is from “The Old Sun Inn, at Bethlehem, Pa., 1758,” by William Cornelius Reichel, 1873, Bethlehem, Pa., page 115.  The occupation of the property is also mentioned in “History of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania,” Vol. II, by Charles R. Roberts, Lehigh Valley Publishing Co., Allentown, Pa.,1914, page 694.  (6) The tax lists cited in this biographical note are in “Pennsylvania, Tax and Exoneration,” available at  (7) The census appears in “Pennsylvania, Septennial Census, 1779-1863,” at  The younger Catharine’s death notice says that the family “returned to Nazareth” in 1783, but this seems to be an error since the family appears in records from Bethlehem until 1788, when they start appears in records from Nazareth.  (8) “Eighteenth Century Vital Records from the Early Register of the Moravian Congregation at Shoeneck, Northampton County, Pennsylvania,” compiled by Charles M. Sandwick, Easton, Pa. 1978, page 8, 11, 25, and 33.  (9) The sale appears in “Pennsylvania, Land Warrants and Application, 1733-1952,” available at  (10) The 1798 tax list appears in “Pennsylvania, U.S. Direct Tax Lists, 1798,” at (11) “The Moravian Graveyards at Nazareth, Pa., 1744-1904,” pages 125 (for Catharina) and 126 (for Conrad).

    Daniel Ernst was born May 8, 1780, near Bethlehem, Pa., to Conrad and Catharine (Knauss) Ernst. (1)
    Married a woman named Magdalene, about 1807 in Pennsylvania.  Magdalene was born in the mid-1780s in Pennsylvania. (2)
    Children: (3)
    Henrietta Ernst, born Jan. 16, 1809.  Married Joseph Stotz.
    Anna Ernst, born 1809.  Married Thomas Bauer.
    Elisabeth Ernst, born July 20, 1811.  Married Charles Grotz.
    Mary Ann Ernst.  Married Christian Freble.
    Sarah Ernst, born in 1815.  Married Aaron Heller.
    Samuel Ernst.
    Rebecca Ernst, Sept. 22, 1822.  Married Aaron Heller, her sister’s widower.
    William Ernst, born about 1828.
    Daniel’s parents moved from Bethlehem to Nazareth in Northampton County when he was a young child.  He lived in the Nazareth area for the rest of his life.
    In the 1810 Census of Upper Nazareth, Daniel Ernst’s household contained one male age 16-25, 2 females under age 10 and a female age 16-25 – presumably Daniel, Henrietta, Anna and Magdalene.
    The census taker appears to have missed the family in 1820.
    In 1830, the household of Daniel Earnst in Upper Nazareth contained 1 male under 5, 1 male age 5-9, 1 male age 50-55, 1 female 5-9, 1 female 15-19, and 1 female 40-49.
    In 1840, the household of Danl Ernst contained 2 males 10-14, 1 males 40-49 (obviously a mistake), 1 female 15-19 and 1 female 40-49.  One person was engaged in manufacture and trade. (4) 
    When Daniel wrote his will on July 4, 1846, he said he was “advanced in Years but in the full enjoyment of a sound mind memory and understanding.”  He gave to his “dear wife Machtalene” two beds, bedding, two cows, a block and case, an iron stove and pipe, two swine and the household furniture and kitchen utensils of her choice.  He also gave her the use and occupation of his 6-acre lot where they lived, provided that she remained his widow.
    Daniel died before March 13, 1847, when his will was proved.
    Three years after Daniel’s death, Magdalene Earnst is listed as the head of a household in Upper Nazareth.  She’s listed as the 64-year-old owner of $1,500 worth of real estate.  Her household included Rebecca, age 24, and William, age 22, who owned $1,000 worth of real estate.  The census also indicates that neither Magdalene nor Rebecca could read.
    The 1860 Census reveals that Magdalena was living beside her daughter Sarah Ann in Upper Nazareth.  Magdalena Ernst is listed as the 77-year-old owner of real estate valued at $1,500 and personal property valued at $625.  Her household included Rebecca, age 30, who is listed as a house maid.  They lived beside the household of Aaron Heller, the husband of Sarah.
    This proximity to the Hellers probably explains why Rebecca married Aaron Heller after her sister’s death in 1870. (5)
    Magdalene probably died before 1870 since she is not listed in that year’s census.

(1) Daniel’s birth is listed in “Pennsylvania Births: Lehigh County, 1734-1800,” by John T. Humphrey, Washington, D.C., 1992, page 57.  The original source was the records of the Moravian Congregation at Emmaus in Salisbury, Township.  Daniel is listed in his father’s will, which appears in Northampton County Will Book 4, page 527, which is available on  (2) The approximate year of marriage is based on the birth of Henrietta, who appears to have been the couple’s first child.  Magdalene’s estimated birth date is used because the 1850 Census indicates she was 64 years old and the 1860 Census indicates she was 77 years old, which gives us a range from 1783 to 1786.  She appears in Upper Nazareth Township, Northampton County, Pa., in both.  (3) Daniel lists his children in his will, as well as the husbands of his daughters.  The will is in Northampton County Will Book 6, page 351, and is available at  They appear to be listed in the order of their births, which is repeated in this list.  Henrietta’s birth date is on her tombstone at Nazareth Moravian Cemetery, a photo of which is available at  Anna’s date of birth appears on her tombstone outside of Ridgely, Md.  Elisabeth’s birth date appears in the record of her death at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Easton, Pa., which is available at  The birth dates of Sarah and Rebecca both come from their tombstones in Stockertown, Northampton County, photos of which are available at  (4) It also appears that a mark is under the column for “insane and idiot at public charge.”  However, if this is an indication of disability and not just a stray mark, it seems it would have to refer to Daniel’s wife or his daughter Rebecca.  When Daniel wrote his will six years later, all of the daughters were married, except Rebecca, and the sons were both listed as executors.  (5) Rebecca’s will, which was proved in 1888, lists Aaron’s son Jacob and daughter Mary Ann and nephew and niece and also mentions the rest of her siblings and some of their children so it is clear that she followed her sister as Aaron’s wife.  The will is in Northampton County Will Book 11, page 100, and is available at