Hoy -Hermenet Web Site
Amanda (Williard) Kissinger Story
Sarah Catherine (Kissinger) Hoy, Alfred E. Hoy,
Winifred (Hoy) Barnes, Amanda (Williard) Kissinger
Life Sketches of Aged People
of Millersburg and Surrounding Area
Mrs. Amanda Kissinger, R.D. 2, Millersburg, Pennsylvania
Joined Hoffman's Church at Age of 10 - Started to Work on Farm
When 6 Years Old - Explains process of Growing Flax and Preparing it for Spinning -
Tells of Fatal Shooting of Daniel Troutman and
Trial and Execution of Frank and Henry
Rumberger for the Crime
The Millersburg Sentinel - September 1932
By F. Park Campbell, Associate Editor
Mrs. Amanda Kissinger, who resides at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Leander M. Schaeffer, a mile of Rife, on R.D.2, will be 84 years of age on October 1, and after working hard all of her life she refuses to cease work now, although she would not be required to do a thing in the way of toil.
Mrs. Kissinger, widow of the late Jacob Kissinger, Civil War Veteran of Lykens Township, near Gratz, is a daughter of the late, George and Lovina (Deibler) Williard, and was born on a farm in Lykens Township, October 1, 1848. When Amanda was six months of age, her parents purchased a farm of 100 acres in Lykens Township, now owned by James Troutman, of that township, and occupied by George Koppenhaver. On this big farm, the family resided for 12 years.
When Amanda became old enough, she attended school near Hoffman's Church, and at the age of 10 years, became a member of Hoffman's Reformed Church, being confirmed by Reverend Jacob Keim, of Pillow, pastor of the church. At that time, services were held in the old Hoffman's Church building, which was rebuilt in 1885. Amanda remembers, Jacob Hoffman, a son of John Peter Hoffman, who founded the church over 100 years ago. She also recalls that her schoolmates at Hoffman's School, were Joseph W. Hoffman, now residing in Harrisburg, formerly cashier of the First National Bank of Millersburg: Mrs. John Reigle, of Washington, D.C., formerly, Miss Mary Forney, who will be 84 on October 6, and the late John Evitts, of Millersburg.
Amanda started her farm days at the age of 6, when her father, Williard, placed her upon the back of horse while he was working in the fields. She soon learned to do many little things about the home and farm and by the time she was in her teens, she had done every job on the farm except plowing, and she was a strong healthy girl. Farm work occupied so much of Amanda's time, that schooling was very greatly neglected. One winter, she attended sessions only a day,
another winter only 3 days, and a third winter, 4 days.
The Williard family moved to a farm near Loyalton, now occupied by Mr. Billow, when Amanda was 12, but she continued to attend Hoffman's school and church.
She recalls the first picnic held by the Sunday school of Hoffman's Church. This picnic was held in front of the church and the food was placed on one large L-shaped table. Amanda was 10 years of age at the time but she remembers that the picnic was about the same as those held today, the only difference being that the food as fancy and varied as found upon picnic tables now. Then there was good, home-made bread, butter and cheese as the main items on the bill of fare, with vegetables and meats to suit the taste of the person preparing the picnic dinner.
Amanda's grandfather, Matthew D. Deibler, owned three farms in the Millersburg Township, near Berrysburg, and frequently she helped with the work at his home for days at a time. She tells of trips to Reading and Philadelphia made by Matthew for the purpose of exchanging wheat for salt, sugar and other merchandise. The trip to Philadelphia and return, required two weeks and was made in a Conestoga or covered wagon, to which was attached four horses. The necessary articles of equipment carried, included feed for the horses, blacksmith tools for repairs to the wagon and for replacing shoes to the horses when necessary, and a pot of tar for greasing the axels. The wheat occupied the portion of the wagon not taken up by the equipment. Mr. Deibler made only one trip to Philadelphia, but many to Reading, which required only one week. He was rather a peculiar man, and would accept only silver or gold coins in his business transactions. He had his own special dishes, upon which his food was served, and each Wednesday, was observed as Sunday by him. His wife was formerly, Catherine Matter and both were natives of Lykens Valley. Their family consisted of nine daughters, all of whom have passed away, leaving many grand and great grandchildren in the Lykens Valley.
Amanda remembers when Lykens was only a small village with only a few houses, and of hearing
her grandparents tell of Indians having their camps in that region and of their kidnapping
white children at times.
She told of the process of growing flax and preparing it for spinning, and stated that she sowed
a half bushel of flax seed to a quarter acre of land. When the flax was ripe and more than 3 feet
tall, it was pulled out of the ground, tied into small bundles and placed in shocks to dry and fully ripen. When dry, the seed was removed by shaking or scraping and the flax tied into larger bundles, carried out to the field and spread thinly upon the ground in rows. Every few days the flax was turned. After a while it was gathered up and placed upon a rack over an open fire, where the drying process was completed. Then followed the breaking and heckling of the dried flax stalks, and finally it was ready for the spinning wheel. Amanda handled every phase of the operation, from the planting of the seed to spinning the thread, but she never wove any linen material. Her description of this process was extremely interesting and graphic.
Father Williard raised many sheep on his farm and the wool helped provide the family with warm clothing for the long cold winters. The wool was dyed the color desired, walnut hulls being used for making black dye, indigo for blue, and other colored dyes were purchased at the store in Gratz, which was also the postence. The wool was taken to the mill of Samuel Wolf, near Short Mountain, for carding and weaving. Mother Williard made practically all the clothing for the family and all of the household linens.
Amanda attended school very irregularly until the Civil War, when she gave up her studies to devote her entire time of work at home and at neighboring farms. She and her sister, Sarah, who later became the wife the Daniel Troutman Jr., of Lykens Township, handled as much of the farm work as two men, and were busy from morn until night. Occasionally, they did find time to attend a snitzing party, a corn husking bee or a quilting party.
These quilting parties were usually whole-day affairs, and were attended during the day time
by the girls and women of the neighborhood. The guests worked on quilts and were severed with dinner and supper. In the evening, the men and boys came to the house
and everyone played games, and had fun.
It was one of these quilting parties, held at Strayer homestead, near Gratz, that Amanda met the young man, who later became her husband. Amanda was 17 and pretty, and when Jacob Kissinger, a handsome veteran of the Civil War, which had recently been settled, was introduced,
a friendship was formed between the two which soon developed into love.
Jacob was the son of George and Sarah (Knerr) Kissinger, of Lykens Township, and served a year
and six months with the Union Cavalry. He was with General Sherman during his famous
march to the sea and came through the conflict without being injured.
Two years after the meeting of Amanda and Jacob, they were married, in a double ceremony, the second couple being John Saltzer and Hannah Folk, of Lykens township. The two drove to Pillow, in separate buggies, on Sunday, August 25,1867, where they were united in marriage by Reverend Jacob Keim, at the parsonage of the reformed church. Following the ceremony, the newly weds drove to Shamokin, where they visited the home of John Kissinger, brother of Jacob, returning to the Williard home Tuesday evening. A short time later, Mr. and Mrs. Kissinger moved to the 85 acre farm, south of the Klinger Poultry farm, in Lykens township, now occupied by a Snyder family. Here the Kissinger's resided for 36 years, while the family increased with the arrival of 11 children 8 of whom are living today. A daughter, Annie passed away at the age of 9 and another daughter, Ida at the age of 2. Thomas Kissinger, of Elizabethville, was killed in the Lykens coal mines on July 25, of this year. The remaining children are Harvey Kissinger, Lykens township;
Daniel Kissinger, Loyalton; Edward Kissinger, Wiconisco; Mrs. Leander M. (Dora) Schaeffer, near Rife; Mrs. Daniel F. (Sarah) Hoy, Cortland, NY; Mrs. Frank (Mary Ann) Hartmann, Washington D.C.; Charles Kissinger, Flint, Michigan; and Jacob Kissinger Jr., Phoenix, Arizona. A grandson of Mrs. Kissinger, Roy, son of Harvey Kissinger,
Lykens township, met death in the Lykens mines, 17 years ago.
On Sunday evening, December 14, 1880, Daniel Troutman Sr., a respectable, well-to-do farmer, residing in a log house with his wife, north of Gratz, in Lykens township, close the the Northumberland county line, was mortally wounded by Henry Rumberger, passing away a half hour later. Mr. Troutman, who was Sarah (Williard) Troutman's father-in-law, said,
"Henry Rumberger shot me" repeatedly before he died. Rumberger was subsequently arrested, later, Frank H. Rumberger, of Lykens, was taken into custody. Both were convicted of the murder and hanged in the Dauphin County jail yard, March 24, 1882.
Amanda Kissinger, who knew Frank Rumberger well, told about the murder and the trial, and Aaron W. Strohecker, residing near Rife, courteously furnished a book to the writer, entitled,
"Life and Confession of Frank H. Rumberger, one of the Troutman Murders".
Mrs. Kissinger told of three families of Troutman's and the family of George Gise, being located close together, north of Gratz. For this tiny settlement, a school house had been provided. On the night of the crime, Daniel Troutman and his wife, both quite aged, retired early.
Henry Rumberger, 27 and his brother Frank Rumberger, 23, both of Lykens township,
entered the house with the purpose of robbing the couple. The Rumberger's awakened the couple, and covering the old gentlemen with revolvers, demanded his money. He declared he had no money, and getting out of bed, secured a shot gun. and the two intruders ran from the house, pursued by Troutman. One turned to the right, the other to the left, the aged man firing at the latter. As he turned to go into the house, the other lodged a bullet into the breast of Troutman,
who fell mortally wounded. Mrs. Troutman ran to the Gise house,
and summoned Mr. Gise and his wife, who cared for the dying man,
and to whom he told had shot him.
Henry Rumberger was arrested the following day, and named a James Rumberger as his companion. Frank, who had a record of crime which covered a large portion of the United States, managed to go free until November 18, when he was taken into custody
and imprisoned in the Dauphin County jail.
The two men were tried together at the April term of court, 1881, J. C. Durbin, of Lykens, representing Frank, and R. L. Muench, of Harrisburg, and S. S. Bowman, of Millersburg, defending Henry. Among the jurors were Benjamin Rumberger, Berrysburg; John J. Miller, Williamstown; Peter Bowman, Millersburg, and Thomas Finn, Wiconisco. The trial lasted three days and the jury returned a verdict of "guilty of murder in the first degree",
after deliberating 3 1/2 hours.
Motion for a new trial was granted, and a second trial commenced October 17, 1881, at a special term. Henry was tried first and was found guilty. Frank's trial followed, and evidence seemed stronger against him than before, and he was again convicted.
Henry Rumberger was frequently a visitor at the Williard home and was well known in the neighborhood, which Mrs. Kissinger declares was greatly excited by the news of the murder.
After 36 years on one farm, Jacob Kissinger and his family moved to a farm of 19 acres
adjoining the borough of Gratz, on the north, where they resided for 20 years.
For 9 years, Mr. Kissinger was road supervisor in Lykens township and one year
supervisor at Gratz. He passed away in 1921 at the age of 78 years and 2 days,
following an illness of 8 days. Mr. Kissinger was up and about the house the day he died.
Mr. Kissinger was a member of the G. A. R. Post, at Gratz, and always was active in the Memorial Day exercises at that place.
For the past 7 years, Amanda Kissinger has resided at the Schaeffer home,
where she is happy and contented amid the most pleasant surroundings.
In the Schaeffer home, resides 4 generations, a combination rarely found housed beneath the same roof. The quartet is composed of Mrs. Kissinger, her daughter, Mrs. Dora Schaeffer;
her granddaughter, Mrs. John Matter, who was formerly, Miss Dorothy Kissinger,
Daughter of Chas Kissinger, of Flint, Michigan,
and Mrs. Matter's son, Robert, aged 5, great grandson of Amanda.
George Williard and his wife, Lovina (Deibler) Williard, both passed away at the age of 65 years. Samuel and Catherine (Sierer) Williard, of Lykens Valley, parents of George, had five daughters and two sons. Samuel died at the age of 54 years, after a short illness; his wife lived to be 79 and the seven children all reached the 70 mark, excepting George Williard. Mrs. Williard's parents, Matthew D. and Catherine (Matter) Deibler, reared a family of 9 daughters. Matthew lived to be 80 and his wife 65. The daughters have all passed away, some of them living to become well up in years but not exceeding 79. Amanda Kissinger has 34 grandchildren and 39 great grandchildren.
This grand old lady has never been sick, never gets excited, does not get the "blues", laughs a lot and keeps right on working. She has always worked hard and reared a big family and at the same time her diet has been different from the average. Her parents always had meat on the table at home, except when soup or mush was served, but Amanda very seldom touched any kind of meat, preferring vegetables and other food. She never drank much liquid of any kind, perhaps a half cup of coffee at meal time, and frequently nothing at all. She declares she never was thirsty, even when working in the fields on the hottest days, and today she drinks very little. She also declares she seldom perspired, no matter how hot the weather.
Mrs. Kissinger told of how some 40 years ago, she and the hired man, George Schreffler,
cut off four acres of corn in a day. During that same day, she also attended to the
milking and house work.
Mr. & Mrs. Kissinger operated a boarding tent at Williams Grove during the Grangers Picnic, for ten years. This was 30 years ago. In telling of this activity, Mrs. Kissinger referred to it as their vacation. They traveled to Williams Grove by train, taking with them a large tent and full equipment including bedding, a stove and cooking utensils, dishes and food supplies for a week.
Mrs. Kissinger has always been handy with a needle, and one winter, 8 years ago, she helped make 25 quilts for Gratz ladies. She does all the patching and mending at the Schaeffer home and helps with the cooking and housework. Her eyes are good and she does a great deal of reading taking special delight in following the stories of old folks appearing each week in the Sentinel. She likes motoring, but is not at all interested in an airplane ride. She has traveled about the country visiting relatives, considerably, and plans to visit her daughter, Mrs. Mary Ann Hartmann, in Washington, this fall. Mrs. Kissinger has seen moving pictures, but has never been in a drug store. She is a member of the Gratz Reformed church, of which Reverend C. P. Wehr's is pastor, and frequently attends services there.
She retires between 7 & 8 o'clock and is up at 6 the following morning.
Mrs. Kissinger is always jolly and happy and enjoys having visitors, who are given a cordial
welcome by the entire household.
Father - John George Williard
Mother - Lovina (Deibler) Williard
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