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PRESERVING THE PA DUTCH CULTURE
   
   
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Zeisloff Log Cabin
By: Julie Lubinsky

Pioneer Village
Zeisloff Log Cabin located in Pioneer Village within Ontelaunee Park

Tucked away in Northwestern Lehigh County is Ontelaunee Park. Located in Lynn Township, New Tripoli, the park is open to the public for picnics, family reunions, birthday parties, etc. There is a 1 mile walking trail for all the residents to use at their leisure.

Ontelaunee Park is also home to an initiative of the Lynn-Heideberg Historical Society called Pioneer Village. Providing a unique opportunity to educate and inform future generations about the PA Dutch heritage, the Historical Society has restored the historical Fort Everett and the Zeisloff Log Cabin here and is in the process of reviving a Mail Pouch Tobacco bank barn.

Preserving the Past
The Zeisloff Log Cabin holds over 250 years of history as it was estimated to be built sometime in the late 1740's. Carl Snyder, founding father of the Lynn-Heidelberg Historical Society, spearheaded this project, saying that "our children and grandchildren will have no idea where we came from unless we save something." So, in July 2001, it was moved from a private property to Ontelaunee Park, which is open to the public. Placed on a flatbed to fit, the actual home traveled over a mile to its final destination in Pioneer Village where it has been restored as closely as possible to the original structure.

Read more about Zeisloff's move to Ontelaunee Park.

The log house was built by George Zeisloff only a short time after his arrival to America from Germany in September 1736 in an area known as Allemaengel - a term meaning "all want," as "in need" as the area lacked soil fertility, roads and a defense against Native Americans. Taking this into account, Zeisloff made the cabin's only stairway into the attic removable as his family would seek refuge there when raids by Native Americans were impending. To watch for intruders while in the attic, there is a small peephole, which was also used to sight a gun.

It was during the French and Indian War (1754-1758), that most of the Zeisloff family was massacred by Native Americans. Only two sons survived. The April 1, 1756 edition of the Pennsylvania Gazette reported the news that George Zeisloff, his wife, two sons and a daughter were killed and scalped. Two sons were wounded, but survived.

Fireplace
Zeisloff Log Cabin's Fireplace

Typical German Log House
The Zeisloff Log Cabin, in its final location at Ontelaunee Park, was added to the Lehigh County Log Cabin Trail Field Guide. They noted that the original fireplace lintel is used in the restored house. It is one log measuring 12 feet long and about 16 by 16 inches square. Many original stones also are used in the fireplace and the building's foundation. The fireplace is located in the center of the house, typical of a German log cabin. There is an opening in the rear of the fireplace to pass hot coals from the "kitch," PA Dutch for kitchen, to the 5-plate cast iron stove in the living room, or "schtupp," for heating.

The 5-plate cast iron stove placed in this restoration is a 1747 replica of the stove used in the Henry Melchior Muhlenberg House in Trappe (Collegeville). When visiting, note the Biblical reference in German on the side plate of the stove. It is from the Gospel according to St. Luke Chapter 9, Verse 62, which reads:

"And Jesus said to him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

The cabin has very little windows, due to the expense of glass and during this time, the residents were taxed according to the number of windows in the house.

Salen Fenster
Zeisloff Log Cabin's Salen Fenster or "Soul Window"

The sleeping arrangements had the younger family members in the attic, while the older family members slept in the Kammer, which is the bedroom on the first floor. In line with Pennsylvania Dutch beliefs, this chamber includes a Salen Fenster. Upon death, this soul window was opened to allow the person's soul to escape.

Plan Your Trip
The Zeisloff Log Cabin is available to view from the outside anytime the park is open; however you'll only have a few chances during the year to see the inside, so plan your trip accordingly. Every October the Lynn-Heidelberg Historical Society holds its annual Pioneer Festival and in addition to other fun filled family activities and entertainment, they host tours of the inside of the cabin.

Ontelaunee Park
7911 Kings Highway
New Tripoli, PA 18066-4519
Click here for Mapquest.com directions.
The park is located on Route 143 (Across from Ebenezer United Church-Christ) off of Route 309 in New Tripoli.

Pavilion reservations within Ontelaunee Park are handled through Lynn Township, visit their website or call 610-298-2645.

Group tours of the Pioneer Village in Ontelaunee Park are handled through the Lynn-Heidelberg Historical Society, email us.

Read more about the Zeisloff family, purchase the book:

The Zeisloff's
by Ginny Woodward

This book describes the experiences of the German immigrant in the 1700s through the travels of the Zeisloff family.  Their story begins in Germany in 1736 and continues until 1783 when the last Zeisloff in Lynn Township moves to North Carolina.  The trip to America, the early Moravian incursion into Lynn Township, the Indian massacres and the every day life of the pioneer are all part of this fascinating story.


Do you plan to visit or have you previously visited the Zeisloff Log Cabin? Leave a message below!

   

 
 
The Lynn-Heidelberg Historical Society is a registered 501(c)3 organization.