The Dreibelbis farm at Virginville was founded in 1778 by Jacob B. Dreibelbis, son of the original Dreibelbis family immigrant, John Jacob Dreibelbis. Joel and Elizabeth Dreibelbis, who are credited with modernizing the colonial–era farm, replaced the original log cabin with the current brick house in 1868. Since then, the farm has remained largely intact and unchanged, and is recognized as a treasure of archeological and historical significance. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the second oldest continuously owned family farm in Berks County. Centuries ago, the farmlands along the Maiden Creek were also home to one of the largest Native American villages within Berks County.
The Dreibelbis Farm Historical Society (DFHS), a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation, was formed to preserve and protect the 180-acre historic Dreibelbis farm and to make it available to the public for educational, historical, and environmental purposes. The DFHS has successfully organized volunteers since 1998 to preserve the buildings, antiques, and artifacts on-site, through the implementation of such projects as repairing the mortar of the ice house, rebuilding the white picket fence in front of the house, replacing the roof of the butcher house, repairing the doors of the barn, and cataloguing the artifacts within the house. The summer kitchen has been converted into living space for a tenant and is currently occupied by a caretaker.
In keeping with its mission, the DFHS has provided tours of the farm grounds to various historical societies, social groups, and Boy Scout troops. Additionally, the first Historic Dreibelbis Farm Festival was held in August 2012. The Festival attracted over 250 guests and featured demonstrations of 19th century living, such as butter churning, spinning, weaving, blacksmithing, and candle making.
The DFHS has partnered with several Federal and State programs to protect the environmental resources of the farm. Twenty-seven acres of sensitive farmland were enrolled in the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). CREP supports landowners who agree to leave these sensitive areas fallow to protect wetlands and erodible soil. The farm was also enrolled in Pennsylvania’s Clean and Green Program, which offers tax incentives to protect open space and agricultural land from development. Furthermore, the Schuylkill Action Network drilled a deep well to provide potable water for the farm and erected stream-side fencing to prevent livestock from causing erosion along tributaries to the Maiden Creek that cross the farm. In addition, 63 acres of active farmland on-site are certified organic.
Much has been accomplished since the creation of the DFHS. Certainly, the initial goal of preserving the farm from development has been realized. We are now positioned to develop the full potential of this historic site.
Mark J. Dreibelbis, President
Dreibelbis Farm Historical Society