History

Background

The farmland surrounding the Dreibelbis homestead in Virginville, PA was first deeded to George Boone (Daniel Boone’s grandfather) by the sons of William Penn. Boone then sold the property to George Merkel in 1750. Merkel, a close friend of John Jacob Dreibelbis, became a ward for John Jacob’s children after he died in 1761. When John Jacob’s son, Jacob B. Dreibelbis, came of age in 1778, he bought the property from Merkel. Jacob B. constructed a 2-story log cabin that stood on the property until 1868, when Joel H. Dreibelbis built the house that still stands today.

The farm currently comprises 180+ acres. Although this is substantial, it is only a fraction of the acreage of the original land grant that the Dreibelbis ancestors owned.

The Family

John Jacob Dreibelbis
John Jacob was born on April 10, 1709 in Hassloch, Germany, to a family originally from Switzerland. In 1732, when he was only 23 years old, he set sail aboard the ship The Mary, and arrived in Philadelphia, becoming the first Dreibelbis to immigrate to America.

John Jacob endured two wars—King George’s War and the French and Indian War—all the while tilling the land and raising three boys and fours girls with his second wife, Barbara Burkhardt, at their homestead near Fleetwood, PA. He died in 1761.

Joel H. Dreibelbis
Joel was born in 1826 to Jacob M. and Elizabeth Heffner Dreibelbis. He married Elizabeth (Swoyer) Deisher, daughter of Jacob and Anna (Swoyer) Deisher. Joel studied at Bucknell University for 2.5 years, living with one of his mother’s relatives while there. When he returned to the family farm in Virginville, he worked for his father and then taught school during the winter months until 1855, when he became a tenant farmer until his father died in 1857, at which time he purchased the farm.

Joel was among the first to use modern machinery, and his mower and reaper were considered great novelties in the community. In 1868, Joel oversaw the construction of the brick farm house that stands to this day. Joel also served St. Peters Reformed Church of Richmond Township as an elder for 25 years and contributed heavily to their building fund. He supplied the bell—on which is inscribed his name—for the church. Joel also served as Justice of the Peace for many years. He was highly respected, and people sought his advice on financial, social, political, and public affairs.

George Dreibelbis, son of Joel H. Dreibelbis and Elizabeth Deisher Dreibelbis
George was born on the farm in 1868, where he lived his entire life. Following in his father’s footsteps, he used the most modern equipment he could find to run his farm. A graduate of Keystone State Normal School in Kutztown (now Kutztown University), George owned and operated the general store in Virginville. His son William later ran this store.

George was a director of the Kutztown Fair Association and was one of the original organizers in 1905. He was also a director of the First National Bank of Kutztown and a Justice of the Peace in Richmond Township from 1904 until his death in 1954, having served 50 years in this position.

George Parker and Sallie Dreibelbis
George’s children, Sallie (1901-1991) and George Parker Dreibelbis (known primarily as Parker, 1904-1998), were the last of the family to live in the house, along with their nephew, Jacob Dreibelbis.

Parker was the second youngest of 11 children born to Clara and George Dreibelbis. He attended a one-room schoolhouse at the end of the lane for 8 grades. When he was ten years old, he was permitted to skip school for a while so that he could help husk the corn. His father used to take produce to the market in Reading, and would hitch up a team of horses at midnight and arrive in town by six o’clock the next morning.