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Tax record

John Smucker Of Bern Township
Berks County, Pennsylvania


by Paul Stoltzfus Kurtz
Reprinted with permission from Masthof Press

The John Smucker who married in 1774 to Barbara Stoltzfus, daughter of Immigrant Nicholas Stoltzfus, is listed on the tax lists for both Cumru and Bern Town- ships, Berks County, intermittantly after 1773.

The first recorded deed for John Smucker appears in 1787 when he purchased the original tracts in Cumru Township from Christian Stoltzfus. This occurred twelve years after the release of the property to Christian following the death of Nicholas Stoltzfus. This was also two years after John Smucker inherited £100 from his father, Christian Smucker. The first time that John appears on the Bern Township tax list is in 1779.

However, the 1790 census lists John Smucker (four males age sixteen and older, five males under age sixteen, and six females) as living in Bern Township. But there are no deeds linking John to a tract in Bern Township.

Where did John and Barbara reside in Bern Township with their family? This has plagued a number of researchers. To resolve this, I began with the order of the census entries in an effort to seek the location of neighbors. This did not yield anything definitive.

Then I followed the suggestion of Genealogist David Rempel Smucker at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society apd checked the 1798 United States Direct Tax (window tax) list. There, I discovered in item 80, Bern Township, in the Occupant Column: "John Smucker."

The house belonged to Joseph Hiester, his one and only house valued at £2500, assessed for £10 tax. Most houses were valued at £300 to £500, paying less than £1 tax.

From references in the Berks County Historical Society, it became obvious that there were two Joseph Hiesters, but the one on the Direct Tax clearly was the militia captain at age twenty-three, then Pennsylvania governor in 1820. His father was John, a brother to the other Joseph.

On the Connecting Warranty map, Joseph Hiester had tract #s 77, 78, and 86 located in the area of today's Blue Marsh Lake and the county institutions.

The fact of Smucker's relationship with the zealous patriot, Hiester, is a curious one. This discover of the Smucker-Hiester connection sheds light on the dual tax/Bern Township census status and opens more questions as to the Stoltzfus/Smucker role in early Berks County.

Paul Stoltzfus Kurtz
709 S. Locust Street
Elizabethtown, PA 17022
e-mail: Psku@aol.com