Dietrich Six:
Six's Fort / Fort Henry...
Berks County, PA, and the French and Indian War

 

General Information
French and Indian War
History of Fort Henry

Ancestral Reports
Descendants of Dietrich Six

References and Links
Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania

 

 
 

 

 
 




  (Photo by Richard Thomas, June 2005)

      

 


Fort Henry Marker Inscription:

1756
Fort Henry
25 Yards north of
this stone.

French and Indian War

Historical Society of
Berks County

 

 

Historical Summary

Several attacks by Indians on settlers east of the Susquehanna River near present day Lebanon and Harrisburg during October of 1755 resulted in Dietrich Six's home becoming a watchhouse and gathering point for the residents of the Bethel area, Berks County, Pennsylvania.   Dietrich's farm was just south of the Blue Mountains, 3 miles north of Bethel (then Millersburg), along a trail leading from an Indian village at present day Sunbury (referred to at the time as Shamokin) all the way to Philadelphia (the Provincial seat at the time).   About 1 mile east was a hill known as "Round Top Mountain" (see photo below; actual farm location off left side of picture).  The location was a key strategic position for defending not only the rest of Berks County, but also the rest of the southeastern quadrant of Pennsylvania from such Indian attacks.  

The Governor of Pennsylvania, under strong public pressure after additional attacks later that year and reluctant support from the Assembly, established a series of forts along the Blue Mountains (the approximate boundary between the white settlement and Indian territory).   One of the largest and most substantial of these Provincial forts was Fort Henry, located on Dietrich Six's farm, just across the road from his house.   Fort Henry was constructed in 1756, under the command of Captain Christian Busse.   Therefore, it was also referred to at the time as Busse's Fort.   Little is written of the structure of the fort, other than it was a stockade type of fort, with palisades (logs) spiked together at the top.  The buildings had tiled roofs.  About 1900, an older area resident recalled it was the shape of a semi-circle, some two hundred feet long.  There was a house in the center which may have had a cellar.   The walls were 3 feet thick and made of stone.  Perhaps the stone wall was just inside the palisades, where guards could walk on top of the stone to view out over the palisades.
Round Top with Blue Mountains in background (photo by Richard Thomas, June 2005)
Fort Henry's main use during the French and Indian War was to provide a base for ranging (patrolling or roaming the area between the adjacent forts along the Blue Mountains, as well as northwest toward Shamokin in search of the elusive Indians).  It was typically staffed by about 50 soldiers, occasionally more.   Supplies were often critically low, particularly flint and gunpowder.  Needless to say, it was the primary source of shelter for local residents during Indian attacks until it was abandoned about 1759.  The accounts of Indian attacks (see history of Fort Henry) provide vivid description of the scalpings and kidnappings that terrorized the residents, and led to the killing of about 150 Berks County residents.
It is hard to imagine the agony and terror that these early settlers had to endure.  Consider the story of the Frantz family in Bethel Township, as told in the June 1758 issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette:  "Mr. Frantz was out at work; his neighbors having heard the firing of guns by the Indians immediately repaired to the house of Frantz; on their way they apprised him of the report--when they arrived at the house they found Mrs. Franz dead (having been killed by the Indians because she was rather infirm and sickly, and so unable to travel), and all the children gone; they then pursued the Indians some distance, but all in vain.  The children were taken and kept captives for several years.  A few years after this horrible affair, all of them, except one, the youngest, were exchanged.  The oldest of the them, a lad of twelve or thirteen years of age, at the time when captured, related the tragical scene of his mother being tomahawked and shamefully treated.  Him they compelled to carry the youngest.  The anxious father, having received two of his children as from the dead, still sighed for the one that was not.  Whenever he heard of children being exchanged he mounted his horse to see whether, among the captured, was not his dear little one.  On one occasion he paid a man forty pounds to restore his child, who had reported that he knew where it was.  To another he paid a hundred dollars, and himself went to Canada in search of the lost one--but, to his sorrow, never could trace his child.  A parent can realize his feelings--they cannot be described."

The future formation of a new nation as we know it today would have been at great jeopardy without the stability of Pennsylvania, who's survival during the French and Indian War depended on defenses such as Fort Henry.
Sources:
Richards, H. M. Muhlenberg, "Berks County in the French and Indian War", Transactions of the Historical Society of Berks County, Volume II, No. 4, 1908,  275-293.

Baucher, Richard A., "Indian Forts in Berks County", Historical Review of Berks County, January, 1953, 49-63.

Montgomery, Thomas Lynch, Report of the Commission to Locate the Site of the Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania, Volumes 1 and 2, (Harrisburg, PA: State Printer, 1916); includes H. M. M. Richards work: "The Indian Forts of the Blue Mountains".

Hunter, William A., Forts on the Pennsylvania Frontier, 1753-1758, (Harrisburg, PA: The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1960).


Yesterday and Today

Notice the difference in vegetation between the photograph of the monument location when being inspected by Historical Society members (left, 1915) and the present day (right, June 2005).  The building appearing in the pictures is possibly made from stone once used in the fort.
 


1915 (Used with permission of Historical Society of Berks County)
 

2005 (photo by Richard Thomas)
 

Maps and Marker
 

Who was Dietrich Six?

Dietrich Six was a farmer and was active in his community.  He was most likely the Dietrich Six on the ship The Thistle from Rotterdam, arriving in Philadelphia on 19 September, 1738.  Various records demonstrate Dietrich was not able to sign his name, so he probably could not read or write.  Records of the Christ Lutheran Church in Stouchsburg, PA, identify Dietrich as an active member as early as 1743 [when the records begin].  He served as a church Deacon in 1752.  Little is known of Dietrich's wife, who in the church records is identified as "Mr. Dor.", perhaps abbreviated for Maria Dorthea.  There are several interactions (including baptismal sponsorships) with the Emert and Grof families, perhaps hinting at his wife's maiden name.   The Sixes had two daughters, Eva Maria (b. 1742) and Emma Margaret.   Eva Maria married Peter Thomas in 1760 and Emma Margaret married Conrad Lauch in 1763.  In 1764, Dietrich and Peter Thomas signed an indenture giving Peter about half (100 acres) of Dietrich's land for 5 shillings.   Dietrich died in May (or early June) of 1770, his wife being still alive.  His will and personal inventory at the time of his death give an indication of life in these plain and simple times:

[Translation of the original will written in German]

In the Name of GOD the Father Son and Holy Ghost
The third May 1770

I Diedrich Six give this as my whole Will

That my Son in Law namely Petter Domas shall have the place for seventy five pounds and to maintain the Mother out of the place, to wit -
Ten Bushels of Wheat and six Bushels of Rye, One Swine of an hundred Weight and the third Barrel of Cyder and to keep on Cow - One Quarter of Flax and ten Shillings yearly in money and to keep two Sheep.
And Gret shall get her Fraternal Share of the Seventy five Pounds one as the other.

George Emmert and Petter Domas
Executors and Administrators

Dietrich's Mark:  D.S.

The estate inventory included the following possessions:

  • Two shirts
  • One pair trousers
  • one under jacquet [jacket] and one wollen one
  • one pair leather breeches
  • one hat
  • six pair stockings
  • two pair garters
  • one wagon
  • one drag chain
  • one plow shear
  • one wind mill
  • one still kettle
  • one ax and one grubbing hoe
  • two dung forks
  • one dung hook and an old sickle
  • two bells
  • a collar and chain
  • one dough traugh
  • one barrel
  • a saddle and bridle
  • an iron stove
  • hammer and anvil
  • one ax and two old sickels
  • one old mare and one younger one
  • one large pewter dish
  • an iron pot and cutting knife
  • one handsaw
  • a razor case and shaving dish
  • a watering pot
  • a salt celler and a doz buttons
  • 2 drinking glasses and a jug
  • an auger
  • a spliting iron

Research is ongoing to identify Dietrich's wife, and their pedigrees.   Stay tuned...

   

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Last Updated: 08/29/2006
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