Updated December 2020
See Thomas Bower.
CONRAD and CATHARINE ERNST
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)
Anna Rosina, about 1769. Married George Gold.
Catharine Ernst, born April 9, 1771. Died Aug. 29, 1788.
Daniel Ernst, born May 8, 1780.
Christina Ernst, born May 20, 1783. Married Carl Friedich Felgentreff.
It’s possible that Conrad was the son of Hanss Michel and Christina Ernst of Waldangelloch, a town southeast of Heidelberg, Germany. A synopsis of his Moravian obituary says he was born in the “Upper Palatinate,” but histories of the Knauss family specifically say he originated in “Wald Angelloch.” A Johann Conradt Ernst was born Aug. 17, 1735, to Hanns Michel and Christina Ernst. Although the birth date doesn’t match that in the Moravian records, it is close and the area was part of the Palatinate at the time. It’s possible that the Moravian date is incorrect or that the Waldangelloch date actually represents a baptism rather than a birth. (4)
Conrad immigrated to America sometime before 1755. Many immigrated from the impoverished Palatinate to Pennsylvania in the early 18th century to seek better opportunities. It’s likely that Conrad did the same. (5)
Conrad probably settled relatively close to Bethlehem in Northampton County, Pa.
On March 21, 1755, Conr. Ersnt was among “Seven Single persons [who] came from country” to visit the Moravian congregation in Bethlehem for the Easter Festival Days. (6)
He was obviously attracted to the Moravians’ teachings because he became a candidate for membership on Aug. 5, 1758, according to the diary of Bethlehem’s Single Brothers’ Choir. The Moravians organized their congregations into choirs based on age, sex and marital status. (7)
About 1760, it’s possible that Conrad moved to the budding Moravian community of Emmaus in nearby Salisbury Township. The 1761 tax assessment list for Salisbury Township includes a single man identified as “Conrad n: a hired man at Bastian Knaus’s.” (8) Bastian was Sebastian Henry Knauss, Conrad’s future father-in-law. This would have been an ideal opportunity for Conrad to meet his future wife.
On Feb. 12, 1767, the diary of the Nazareth congregation says, “The day-before-yesterday were engaged in Bethlehem the Single brother Conrad Ernst with the Single sister Cathar. Knaus.” The couple were married on Feb. 18. (9)
In 1769, the Ernst 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.” (10)
In 1772, Conrad appears on the tax list for Bethlehem Township, where he owned 2 horses and 3 cows. No real estate is mentioned since he rented his land. (11)
On Oct. 20, 1777, the diary of Bethlehem’s Single Brothers’ Choir mentions that “10 head of our livestock [were] placed in Br Ernst’s pasture to graze there for a while.” (12)
At some point before April 1779, the Ernst family returned to Emmaus. The town was built on land donated by Catharine’s father and Jacob Ehrenhardt and operated under strict guidelines established by the Moravian leadership. By the time the Ernst family returned, Sebastian had died, but his wife was still alive. Conrad’s children Daniel and Christina were baptized there in 1780 and 1783.
When the Revolutionary War began, the Pennsylvania government required citizens to take an oath of allegiance and all able-bodied men to enroll in militia companies. Those who refused were fined and occasionally some were jailed. Since Moravians were pacifists, they refused to participate and were dubbed non-associators and faced these penalties.
Conrad Earnest appears on the list of non-associators who were fined by David Deschler, sub-lieutenant of Northampton County between March 1777 and September 1779. Conrad, whose name appears near those of other Moravians, was fined 40 pounds. (13)
Although no battles were fought in the area, the towns in southern Northampton County were close enough to the action around Philadelphia to provide hospitals and housing for the Continental Army. The records of Emmaus recount a 1778 visit by Continental soldiers – one in which Conrad played a small role. (14)
“January 18. – This afternoon about 4 o’clock a Company of Massachusetts Bay New Englanders arrived here and took night quarters in our village. They billeted themselves about in our houses without first asking us. First they came and wanted to take possession of our Gemeinhaus by force, but we directed them into the village. In the end we put up several of them in the Gemeinhaus anyway. Brother Giering went to the officer who with eight others had taken quarters in Sister Knauss’s house and told them that this was not the way night quarters should be taken, but that the people should be informed beforehand, and besides there was an empty hospital in the village. After they had been here for a while and saw that they were being served on every hand in a friendly and willing manner, it came to light why they stayed here. They had only started on the march from Bethlehem and were to continue further on that first day, but on the way to Emmaus they met the boy of one of our neighbors, of whom they inquired about the place where they expected to go. The boy told them they should come here, there were houses enough, and that the people were all Tories, except those in the last two houses opposite each other, who were Whigs. We held no service this evening!
“January 19. – Early this morning they marched on and we suffered no hardship from them. On the contrary they were all very thankful ‘for the good usage’ and said that on their whole journey they had not been treated this way and that they would remember it. On the other hand, Brother Ernst, who missed one of his braking-chains, rode after them and located the missing chain, was not so well treated. When he told the driver, the latter wanted to knock him off his horse, and when he went to the officer about it, and the latter learned that he had not sworn to the state, it was time for Brother Ernst to leave otherwise they would probably have taken his horse and himself along to camp. But he did not lose his chain!”
The entry from Jan. 19 makes it clear that many in the surrounding countryside believed the Moravians opposed independence. A few months later, about 20 of Emmaus’ young men were arrested and jailed in Easton for refusing to join the militia. It’s possible that such persecution is what prompted some Moravians to join the militia toward the end of the war. The history “They Came to Emmaus” mentions 12 such men, including George Leibert, whose daughter married Conrad’s son Daniel. (15) Conrad is not among the 12 and does not appear on any militia rolls from the height of the war. However, his name is on a roll that appears to be from 1783, long after the actual fighting had ended. Conrad Ernest is listed on the muster roll of Capt. Edward Sheimer’s company in the First Battalion of the county militia. The roll is not dated, but it appears in the pages of “Pennsylvania Archives” just after a document from 1783. (16)
In tax records for 1781, Conrad is listed in Upper Milford Township. His name appears on the tax list alongside many of those listed on the roll of his militia unit. (17)
The family moved back to the Bethlehem area in the 1780s. 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. (18)
Sometime during 1788, the family again moved to the Nazareth area. The move came before Aug. 29, when Moravian records note the death of young Catharine, a “girl in Old Nazareth.” (19)
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 mentioned, probably because he lived on land owned by the Moravian congregation.
In 1790, the U.S. Census lists Conrad Ernst in Nazareth Township, Northampton County. His household contained four males under 16 years old, one male 16 or older and three females.
In late 1790, Nazareth’s Moravian community had a problem getting pallbearers for funerals. On Dec. 1, the council appointed Conrad as one of the residents “of which one could expect such a service.” (20)
In 1792, Conrad Ernst received a warrant for 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. (21) Since Conrad wasn’t taxed for the land in 1798, it’s possible that he somehow disposed of it or that the original sale was never completed. Conrad’s name doesn’t appear on any deeds recorded in Northampton County and his will doesn’t mention any real estate.
In 1793, Conrad was named to the Moravians’ Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the denomination’s missionary arm. On Aug. 21, “5 brethren of the Nazareth congregation, Christian Foerster, Thomas Schnall of Nazareth, Christian Mueksch and Jacob Luch of Christian Spring, and Conrad Ernst of Old Nazareth, who had a desire, to become members of the S.P.G., were received. and the number of the members of this society in Nazareth and the other places amounts to 30.” (22) It seems most likely that Conrad served on some type of board or committee rather than as an actual missionary.
In 1794, Nazareth’s board of overseers was concerned about a gun possessed by Conrad and one of his brothers-in-law. On Sept. 10, their minutes stated, “Br. Tillofsen had been asked to inquire in Nazareth from Br. Ernst and Krause regarding a Swiebel gun, which shall be there long already, and when it is still there, he should take good care of it, so that it is not used unnecessarily.” (23)
In 1796, the overseers decided to transfer properties among several members, including Conrad. In January, a Brother Beissert threatened to move away from the community if he didn’t receive 20 acres in Old Nazareth to rent. “The brethren were in favour, that it should not come to such an extremity with them, but rather, when Br. Conrad Ernst would arrange himself on a smaller basis, there would be hope, that Br. Beiseert could get the requested land, and he and his family could stay in our congregation. The brethren believed, that it would be good, to advise Br. Ernst, that it would be for his benefit, when he would arrange things on a smaller scale.” However, Conrad wasn’t satisfied with the arrangements – perhaps because he wasn’t quite ready to retire. In February, the overseas minutes reported, “Because Br. Conrad Ernst made difficulties to give up to Br. Beissert some of his stables, some brethren were appointed, to look the matter over and to start a move. The brethren believed, that when Br. Ernst would sell some of his cattle to Br. Beissert there would be no difficulty, to find the place for them.” Whatever the specific circumstances, everything was resolved by March, when the minutes say, “It was reported, that Bro. and Bister Ernst, Bro. and Sister Beissert and the Schneider’s have moved into their respective lodgings, and this difficult matter has been accomplished peacefully.” (24)
In 1798, the U.S. direct tax list for Nazareth Township provides some details about the property where the family lived. Although the property’s occupant is listed as Conrad Ernst, the owner was listed as John Youngberg, an official in the Nazareth congregation who is listed as the owner a many properties on the tax roll. 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. (25)
Conrad’s children are mentioned frequently in the diaries of Nazareth’s Moravian congregation. Most events involved routine church matters. For example, Conrad’s young son Daniel was admitted to worship on Nov. 22, 1789. In 1792, Christian was transferred from the youth’s choir to the brethren’s choir and Daniel was transferred from the children’s choir to the boys’ choir. Christina was received into the “big girls” choir in 1795, into the congregation in 1798, into the single sisters choir in 1801. And she was married in 1806. (26)
However, two of the events were noted with “grief” by church officials. On Nov. 1794, Rosina was expelled. The congregation’s diary said, “We had the grief, that a former communicant, the single Rosina Ernst in 0ld Nazareth, had separated from our congregation, because according to her own choice she had been married with the single George Gold, who had left the congregation many years ago.” And Christian suffered a similar fate two years later. The congregation’s diary for Jan. 16, 1796, said, “We had the grief to experience in this week, that the single Christian Ernst, who for some time had not had any mind for the congregation had meddled with a strange maid so much. that he had to marry her, and by doing so, he separated himself from the congregation.” Although Christian and Rosina left the Nazareth congregation, they still had some of their children baptized at a Moravian congregation in nearby Schoeneck. Conrad and Catharina served as baptismal sponsors for Philipp Ernst, son of Christian, and Georg Thomas Gold, son of George and Rosina Gold, both in 1797. In both cases, the baptisms are listed among those of nonparishioners. (27)
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 1801, the minutes of an overseers meeting mention “Ernst’s field situated at the Hope Street” so it’s possible he lived near there. (28)
In 1800, Conrad turned 65 and considered scaling back his agricultural efforts. His looming retirement was discussed when Nazareth’s overseers met on July 30 to address complaints from the community’s farmers. The committee noted that “Because Br. Ernst will give up farming, it would be a good opportunity, to make some useful changes.” In October, the overseers discussed giving 22 acres of Conrad’s property to Brother Jacob Schnall. And in November, final arrangements were made for the sale and distribution of his holdings. “Br. Ernst will have auction next Friday, and when he can sell his cattle, he will give up half of his stable to Br. Peissert. And because nobody as yet has taken over Br. Ernst’s fields, the field, into which seed has be sown, which amounts to 3 acres of wheat and 12 acres of corn, shall be gathered next year on account of the Gemein-Diaconie, and the remaining 3 fields shall be delivered to the brethren Schnall and Peissert in the meanwhile,” the minutes for Nov. 26 state. (29)
Almost two years later, Conrad came to the overseers’ attention again. The June 20, 1802, minutes record: “Br. Ernst in Old Nazareth had given up farming, but he should be obliged to pay the house-rent, which would be 4 lbs, and when that would be too much for him, he should then pay 3 lbs.” (30)
Three years after that, the Oversees gave Conrad a new responsibility – inspector of the local woodlands – perhaps as a way to pay his rent. On Oct. 30, 1805, the minutes report: “Br. Ernst in Old Nazareth had been appointed as inspector of the woodland, which belongs to Nazareth land. Br. Ernst asked then for an instruction, after which he could act. Br. Henry had been asked, to prepare such a treatise, which was then read to the brethren of the committee and received their approval. This treatise should be presented to Br. Ernst and he should be asked, whether he will be capable to carry it out. The brethren also considered, what compensation he should receive for his work.” At the Nov. 9 meeting, they settled on payment. “Br. Conrad Ernst, according to Br. Reich’s report, is willing to accept the inspection over the woodland for annually 9 lbs, which the committee granted willingly, when he will do his work faithfully. The committee would even allow him to have free rent.” (31) The overseers also assigned Conrad to help assess the property of the late Jacob’ Christ’s property. “[T]hey have found, that it is not of much use for the Gemein-Diaconie in Nazareth.” (32)
After this, Conrad isn’t mentioned in the congregation’s diaries or minutes until his death.
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. The Moravian congregation’s diary notes: “Severe thunder storm with heavy showers. This morning, suddenly the married sister Cathar. Ernst died of Hemorrhage.” Her funeral was held on June 18, when the diary notes: “Funeral of Sr. Ernst. So many came that chapel was too small, and Br. Reinke spoke outside.” (33)
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. The congregation’s diary says, “Funeral of oldest member, widowed brother Conrad Ernst, departed [June] 11th,aged 83.” (34)
Conrad and Catharine are buried at the Moravian cemetery in Nazareth. (35)
(1) Conrad’s birth date and place are listed in his death notice in Moravian church records. An abbreviated version appears in “The Moravian Graveyards of Nazareth, Pa., 1744-1904,” Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society, vol. 7, no. 3, by Moravian Historical Society, 1904, page 126. (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 the Moravian Archives’ Moravian Roots Genealogy Database at roots.moravianchurcharchives.org. This source also lists Christina’s marriage. Their births also appear in “Pennsylvania Births: Lehigh County, 1734-1800,” by John T. Humphrey, Washington, D.C., 1992, page 57. George and Daniel are mentioned in Conrad’s will, which appears in Northampton County Will Book 4, page 527, and also is available on Ancestry.com. 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, page 32. 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) It’s possible that the full version of Conrad’s Moravian obituary lists the town where he was born. The birth record appears in “Baden, Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1502-1985,” at Ancestry.com. The 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. (5) It should be noted that a Conrad Ernst was naturalized in Heidelberg Township, Berks County, on March 22, 1761. However, this Conrad Ernst appears in tax records from that township at the same time our Conrad appears in Northampton County. This 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. (6) The Easter visitor are mentioned in Diary of the Bethlehem Single Brothers’ Choir, 1750-1762, page 5 for 1755. These records are available at the Moravian Archives website at www.moravianchurcharchives.org. (7) Conrad’s candidacy is mentioned in Diary of the Bethlehem Single Brothers’ Choir, 1750-1762, page 5 for 1758. (8) The tax assessment appears in “Miscellaneous Manuscript Records of Northampton County, Pennsylvania, 1727-1851,” at FamilySearch.org, image 436. It’s possible the lack of a surname and the “n” might indicate that this man was Black. (9) The engagement is mentioned in Diary of the Moravian congregation at Nazareth, 1760-1769, page 179. (10) 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. (11) The tax lists cited in this biographical note are in “Pennsylvania, Tax and Exoneration,” available at Ancestry.com. (12) The cattle grazing is mentioned in Diary of the Bethlehem Single Brothers’ Choir, 1775-1779, page 10 for 1777. (13) The list of fines appears in “Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, vol. 6, page 735. (14) “They Came to Emmaus,” compiled by Preston A. Barba, Lehigh Litho, Inc. Bethlehem, Pa., 1960, page 121. (15) “They Came to Emmaus,” page 132. (16) The muster roll is in “Pennsylvania Archives,” Series 5, vol. 8, page 86. (17) The 1781 tax records appear in “Pennsylvania, Tax and Exoneration,” at Ancestry.com. (18) The census appears in “Pennsylvania, Septennial Census, 1779-1863,” at Ancestry.com. The tax records appear in “Pennsylvania, Tax and Exoneration,” at Ancestry.com. (19) 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. (20) The pallbearer concerns were mentioned in Minutes of the Over-Seer Committee of the Congregation in Nazareth, 1790-1799, page 80. (21) The warrant appears in “Pennsylvania, Land Warrants and Application, 1733-1952,” available at Ancestry.com. (22) The appointment to the S.P.G. appears in Diary of the Moravian congregation at Nazareth, 1790-1799, page 583. (23) The gun is mentioned in Minutes of the Over-Seer Committee of the Congregation in Nazareth, 1790-1799, page 106. (24) The property transfers are mentioned in Minutes of the Over-Seer Committee of the Congregation in Nazareth, 1790-1799, pages 125-127. (25) The 1798 tax list appears in “Pennsylvania, U.S. Direct Tax Lists, 1798,” at Ancestry.com. (26) Daniel’s admission is mentioned in Diary of the Single Brethren in Nazareth, 1786-1799. Available at the Moravian Archives website, page 519. The item on the transfers appear on page 535. Christina’s events are mentioned in Diary of the Moravian congregation at Nazareth, 1790-1799, pages 624 and 680, and the congregation diary for 1800-1809, pages 757 and 846. (27) The expulsions appear in Diary of the Moravian congregation at Nazareth, 1790-1799, pages 602 and 631. 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, page 8, 11, 25, and 33. (28) The Hope Street field is mentioned in Minutes of the Over-Seer Committee of the Congregation in Nazareth, 1800-1809, pages 238-239. (29) The property distribution is mentioned in Minutes of the Over-Seer Committee of the Congregation in Nazareth, 1800-1809, page 221 for the July 30 entry, page 226 for the Oct. 1 entry and page 229 for the Nov. 26 entry. (30) The rent is mentioned in Minutes of the Over-Seer Committee of the Congregation in Nazareth, 1800-1809, page 264. (31) The woodlands inspections are mentioned in Minutes of the Over-Seer Committee of the Congregation in Nazareth, 1800-1809, pages 306 and 307 and 309. (32) The assessment in mentioned in Minutes of the Over-Seer Committee of the Congregation in Nazareth, 1800-1809, page 309. (33) Catharina’s death and funeral are noted in Diary of the Moravian congregation at Nazareth, 1810-1819, page 955. (34) Conrad’s funeral is mention in Diary of the Moravian congregation at Nazareth, 1810-1819, page 999. The translation of the diary says he died in May, but this disagrees with other records. (35) “The Moravian Graveyards at Nazareth, Pa., 1744-1904,” page 125 for Catharina and 126 for Conrad. However, I was unable to find their tombstones during a search of the graveyard in 2019.
DANIEL and MAGDALENE ERNST
Daniel Ernst was born May 8, 1780, in what is now Lehigh County, Pa., to Conrad and Catharine (Knauss) Ernst. (1)
Married Maria Magdalene Leibert, about 1807, probably in Northampton County, Pa. Maria Magdalene was born Dec. 19, 1783, near Emmaus, Pa., to George and Elisabeth (Ehrenhart) Leibert. (2)
Henrietta Ernst, born Jan. 16, 1808. Married Joseph Stotz.
Anna Justine Ernst, born Nov. 9, 1809. Married Thomas Bauer, often spelled Bower.
Elisabeth Ernst, born July 20, 1811. Married Charles Grotz.
Mary Ann Ernst, born March 21, 1813. Married Christian Friebely.
Salome Ernst, also listed as Sarah and Sally, born in April 23, 1815. Married Aaron Heller.
Rebecca Ernst, Sept. 22, 1822. Married Aaron Heller, her sister’s widower.
William Ernst, born about 1828.
When Daniel was born, his family lived in Upper Milford Township, which was then in Northampton County but later became part of Lehigh County. At the time, his parents were members of Moravian church in Emmaus and Daniel was baptized there. During the mid-1780s, the family lived in the Moravian town of Bethlehem for several years before moving to yet another Moravian town, Nazareth, when Daniel was about 8 years old. Daniel lived in the Nazareth area for the rest of his life.
On Nov. 22, 1789, Daniel Ernst was admitted to worship in the Nazareth congregation. And in 1792, he was transferred from the children’s choir to the boy’s choir. (4) The Moravian church organized it congregations into choirs based on age, gender and marital status.
At some point between 1805 and 1807, Daniel married Maria Magdalena Leibert. Magdalena’s parents were members of the Moravian church in Emmaus, where Daniel had been baptized. Her mother had died in 1801 and it’s possible that she moved to the Nazareth area after her father’s death in 1804. Her sister Catharina, wife of Christian Friedrich Beitel, had moved to the Nazareth area in 1801. (5)
The couple first settled in Plainfield Township, which is just northeast of Upper Nazareth Township. In 1807, Daniel Ernst of Plainfield Township purchased property in Upper Nazareth Township from Phillip Weiss. On Nov. 28, 1807, Daniel acquired 6 acres “being parts of a certain larger Tract of Land commonly called ‘Friedensthal.’” He paid 220 pounds in Pennsylvania money. (6) Friedensthal was just east of the town of Nazareth.
It seems that the family took several months to move to the new property. Henrietta’s obituary says she was born in Plainfield Township in January 1808. (7) The following year, Anna Justine was baptized in her parents’ home in Friedensthal.
This move seems to have brought the family back within Nazareth’s Moravian community. Between 1809 and 1815, Daniel and Magdalena had four children baptized by the congregation’s pastors. It’s likely that the Ernsts had their children educated at the Moravian school in Nazareth since four of his daughters signed a later deed in German script. (8)
Later records state that Daniel was a house carpenter. Since Moravians often provided training for the congregation’s young men, it’s likely that Daniel learned the trade early and continued to work in it throughout his life.
In the 1810 Census, Daniel Ernst’s household in of Upper Nazareth Township contained one male age 16-25, two females under age 10 and a female age 16-25 – presumably Daniel, Henrietta, Anna Justine and Magdalene.
In 1820, the census indicates that a Daniel Ernst lived in Upper Nazareth Township, but the household information doesn’t match that of our Daniel. The census states his household contained one male under age 10, one male 16-25 and one female 16-25. This is probably a mistake by the census taker since other records show the family continued to live on the Friedensthal property and no other records mention a second Daniel Ernst in the area.
In 1826, Henrietta married Joseph Stotz. The Moravian marriage record mentions that the ceremony was conducted “at the home of the bride, on Friedensthal road.” (9)
Three years later, Daniel purchased another tract of land. On April 1, 1829, Daniel paid $65.16 for 5 acres, 2 perches, in Bushkill Township. The deed mentions that Daniel was a house carpenter. (10)
The 1830 Census says the household of Daniel Earnst in Upper Nazareth contained a male under 5, a male age 5-9, a male age 50-55, a female 5-9, a female 15-19, and a female 40-49.
In 1840, the household of Danl Ernst contained two males 10-14, a male 40-49 (obviously a mistake since Daniel turned 60 that year), a female 15-19 and a female 40-49. One person was engaged in manufacture and trade – probably an indication of Daniel’s carpentry work.
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 left 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 less than a year later. His will was proved March 13, 1847.
On April 4, 1847, Magdalena and the children sold the property in Bushkill Township to Abraham Knecht for $50. The deed mentions that Daniel had been a carpenter. (11)
Three years after Daniel’s death, Magdalene Earnst was listed as the head of a household in Upper Nazareth in the 1850 Census. It says she was the 64-year-old owner of $1,500 worth of real estate. Her household included Rebecca, age 24, and William, a 22-year-old farmer who owned $1,000 worth of real estate. The census also indicates that Magdalene could not read. In the 1847 deed, she made her mark rather than a signature.
The 1860 Census reveals that Magdalena was living beside her daughter Sarah Ann Heller in Upper Nazareth Township. 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.
Magdalena appears to have died before July 1868, when the heirs of Daniel Ernst sold the 6 acres in Upper Nazareth to their sister Rebecca Ernst. (12) The fact that Rebecca owned the property next to Aaron Heller probably explains why married her brother-in-law after her sister’s death in 1870. (13)
(1) Daniel’s birth is listed in records of the Moravian congregation of Emmaus, Pa., which are available in “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records,” at Ancestry.com. It also appears in “Pennsylvania Births: Lehigh County, 1734-1800,” by John T. Humphrey, Washington, D.C., 1992, page 57. Humphrey’s source was the records of the Emmaus congregation. Daniel is listed in his father’s will, which appears in Northampton County Will Book 4, page 527, which is available on Ancestry.com. (2) The Ernst/Leibert wedding doesn’t appear in the Moravian Roots Genealogical Database at roots.moravianchurcharchiveds.org. Since both Daniel and Magdalena grew up Moravian and had several of their children baptized in the Moravian church, it seems likely they were married in a Moravian church. It’s possible the wedding (as well as some of their children’s baptisms) was held in the Schoeneck congregation, which was very near Nazareth. It’s records are not yet included in the database. The marriage occurred sometime between August 1805, when an unmarried Magdalena is mentioned in Northampton County’s orphans court records concerning George Leibert’s estate, and 1807, just before Henrietta was born. George’s estate is mentioned in “Genealogical Abstracts of Orphans Court records, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, Volumes 6-8, 1795-1815,” by Candance E. Anderson, 1999, pages 170, 172, 178, 181 and 187. Magdalene’s birth and parents are listed in the records of the Moravian congregation in Emmaus, Pa., which are available in “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records,” at Ancestry.com. (3) Daniel’s will lists his children and the husbands of his daughters. The will is in Northampton County Will Book 6, page 351. They also appear in the deed that disposes of Daniel’s property in Bushkill Township, in Northampton County Deed Book E-8 page 289. Henrietta’s birth date and husband are listed in “The Moravian Graveyards of Nazareth, Pa., 1744-1904,” Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society, vol. 7, no. 3, by Moravian Historical Society, 1904, page 158. Anna Justine’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 in “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records,” at Ancestory.com. The birth dates of Sarah and Rebecca both come from their tombstones in Stockertown, Northampton County, photos of which are available at Findagrave.com. Mary Ann’s information comes from her tombstone in the Holy Cross Lutheran Cemetery in Bushkill Center, Northampton County, which is available a Findagrave.com. The baptisms of Anna Justine, Elisabeth, Mary Ann and Salome are listed in Moravian Archives’ Moravian Roots Genealogy Database at roots.moravianchurcharchives.org. (4) The records pertaining to Daniel’s childhood appear in the Diary of the Single Brethren in Nazareth, 1786-1799, pages 519 and 535. This source is available at the Moravian Archives website at https://moravianchurcharchives.org. (5) The Beitels move is mentioned in Diary of the Moravian congregation at Nazareth, 1800-1809, page 758. (6) The 1807 purchase is recorded in Northampton County Deed Book G-3, page 59. (7) A synopsis of Henrietta’s obituary appears in “The Moravian Graveyards of Nazareth, Pa., 1744-1904,” Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society, vol. 7, no. 3, 1904, page 158. (8) After Daniel’s death, his heirs sold property he owned in Bushkill Township. Samuel and William signed the deed in English script and Rebecca, Henrietta, Mary Ann and Sarah signed in German script. Elisabeth and Anna made their marks. The deed appears in Northampton County Deed Book E-8, page 289. (9) The marriage is mentioned in Diary of the Moravian congregation at Nazareth, 1820-1829, page 1046. (10) The 1829 deed is recorded in Northampton County Deed Book F-7, page 410. (11) The sale is listed in Northampton County Deed Book E-8, page 289. (12) The property sale by Daniel Ernst’s estate to Rebecca Ernst is recorded in Northampton County Deed Book D-12, page 282. I don’t have details because the deed is not available on FamilySearch.org. (13) Rebecca’s will, which was proved in 1888, lists Aaron’s son Jacob and daughter Mary Ann as 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 Ancestry.com.