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Past Events


24 Jun 1913
Submitted by Diane Marshall.

Asks Great-Granddaughter

He also figured in the establishment of Johnstown, Penn., says Mrs. Muller, and his Descendants included Prominent Familys [sic] -- Local History Recalled.

Mrs. Lovenia H. Muller of 274 Ohio St. who thinks the title to a considerable part of Johnstown might be found in doubt if the matter were probed legally, says The Leader's story of Friday evening on this subject was not quite right, as she never made the claim that Joseph Johns didn't finish paying for the land he bought and didn't get a deed. But she does have a very interesting story to tell in connection withthe question she has raised, and among other things she wants to know why Peter Schantz, or Johns, who she contends was Joseph's brother, is never mentioned in any of the histories that may have been written of the Johnses and Johnstown; that there was a Peter she is quite certain for she is one of his descendants, and that he had part in founding the town she avers; she says he was more for pushing along in modern business fashion than his brother Joseph, and that at one time he owned several lots in that part of the city west of Franklin Street, now the First and Second Wards.

Peter Schantz, says Mrs. Muller had three daughters. First was Polly, who, she says was the mother of the late Judge David Hamilton who lived on the hill above Kernville, where the apple orchard is, of Miss Kitty Hamilton and of Mrs. Williams of Main Street, who died within the past few years, both of them at an advanced age. The second daughter of the Peter Schantz family, says this historian, was Katie, who married Daniel Hoover and moved to Pittsburgh. The Third daughter was known as Onna, in English Anna, and was the wife of Judge Abraham Hilderbrand, a Justice of the Peace over a Century ago and the first Associate Judge of Cambria County.

Katie Hildebrand, daughter of Abraham Hildebrand and Anna Schantz Hildebrand, asserts Mrs. Muller, was the first female white child born in the present limits of Johnstown. This distinction has usually be accorded to another, Mrs. Muller admits, but she says she established her claim to the satisfaction of those who questioned it with documentary evidence. This Katie Hildebrand afterward Mrs. Ephraim Burkhart, was the mother of Mrs. Muller and the latter says she has heard her mother tell on many occasions how she and the other children of the community used to play among the chinkapin trees and elderberry bushes in the present First and Second wards, and particularly of one occasion when they watched two wildcats fight a ferocious battle in a tree down in the vicinity where the residence of the Hon. W. Horace Rose now stands.

The Abraham Hildebrand family says Mrs. Muller lived for a time in a log house built a while after the Joseph John's house. It was located down about what was then known as the "Goose Pond". On the present Point so called because it was a favorite resort for wild geese. The family moved up to a house on the present site of Alva Hall when Katie Hildebrand, afterward Mrs. Burkhart, was three weeks old. Mr. Hildebrand had built what was then considered a "fine house" with six or seven rooms in it. How long Peter Schantz remained in the neighborhood Mrs. Muller doesn't pretend to know, nor does she know where he moved from here, but the fact that his three daughters were all married in this community is evidence to her that the family was here for some time.

And here is where the question of the title to part of Johnstown comes in, according to Mrs. Muller; she says her grandfather, Abraham Hildebrand, son-in-law of Peter Schantz, had bought from his uncle, Joseph Schantz, most of the land west of Franklin Street and between the two rivers, except that donated to the town of Johnstown.

From this Mr. Hildebrand sold a few lots, and then there came along a man from Pittsburgh whose name Mrs. Muller does not recall, though she thinks it was Hauntsman or Haitsman. He was going to try to establish works to use the iron ore that was even then known to be in the hills about the town, and he bought from Abraham Hildebrand all the land that had not been sold off in lots. He made one payment and was to pay the balance in installments but his iron works scheme fell through and he never paid the balance. He was sold off by the sheriff, according to the information the hands of Mrs. Muller. In connection with this affair, according to the view taken by attorneys whom Mrs. Muller has consulted, there were irregularities that made the titles extremely doubtful and established at least a probability of being able to recover a considerable section of what is now the heart of Johnstown if the heirs were not stopped by the fact that the present owners have been in peaceable possession of the property for twenty-one years.

The Hildebrand family, according to Mrs. Muller, came from the same section of Switzerland as Schantzes and she is of the opinion that they may be emigrated to America together. Mrs. Muller says her mother often spoke of the time when but seven families lived in what is now Johnstown. Peter Schantz did not live here then, but Joseph Schantz did, and besides his family there were the Hildebrand, Levergood, Hamilton and Horner families and ____ Priestley, according to her recollection, and also one Job Gray, a colored blacksmith. Mrs. Muller's mother recalled very distinctly the "Pumpkin Flood" of 100 years ago, so called because pumpkins in large quantities came down the Stonycreek from the farms of Somerset County along with fences, barns, homes, cattle, etc. Job Gray said Mrs. Muller's mother was afraid the flood would wash away the little slab cabin in which she lived, and so her father fastened it to a big stump with a long chain he had made himself.

Abraham Hildebrand moved from Johnstown to what is now Conemaugh and the log house in which he lived there was standing not so very many years ago. He had twelve children -- eight sons and four daughters. Katie, the mother of Mrs. Muller, was married to Ephraim Burkhart, who following the example of Jacob of old, served seven years for her, working the gristmill which Abraham Hildebrand established along the river at Conemaugh. Abraham Hildebrand later moved to Huntingdon County and died there. One of his great, great grandsons is John C. Hildebrand, the well known tax collector of the city.

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