Jacob Fordney Kreps
b. June 15, 1806, Greencastle, Pa.

The following is an account of the life of Jacob Fordney Kreps. The original is handwritten and is believed to have been written by Jacob himself, though it is written in the third person. A few times in the course of the narrative it lapses into first person and a section at the end is crossed out...probably having been seen as too boastful. The handwriting strongly resembles handwriting known to be Jacob Fordney Kreps. Items in parenthesis ( ) were as written in the original. Items in brackets [ ] are contemporary observations or notes that I hope will help clarify the material. I believe this to have been written in 1881 or 1882 on or around the occasion of Mr. and Mrs. Kreps 50th Anniversary. Jacob Fordney Kreps was my 3xgreat grandfather.

Karen Moore

Jacob Fordney Kreps

Jacob Fordney Kreps was born in Greencastle, Franklin County, Pennsylvania June 15, 1806. His ancestors were Germans who settled in Lancaster County about the middle of the 18th century. His grandfather, Michael Kreps, was a hatter by trade and established himself in business in the town of Lebanon, then a part of Lancaster Co. By industry and frugality, he acquired a handsome estate and raised a family of three sons and two daughters. Viz: Jacob and William (twins), Catharine, Polly and Michael. Catharine was married to the Rev. Jacob Schnee, a Lutheran Minister, who at an early day located in Greensburg and for a short period ministered to the Lutheran Congregation there. He afterwards united with Mr. Rapp's Community at Harmony, Butler County, and was cashier of their bank.

His [Jacob F. Kreps'] father, Jacob Kreps, was born in Lebanon in the year 1772, and was brought up to the trade of his father. In 1794 he [the father, Jacob Kreps] was married to Catharine Hetterick, daughter of Jacob and Margaret Hetterick of Pittsylvania County, Virginia to which place they had emigrated a short time before from Dauphin Co. The engagement having been made, he was necessitated to make a journey of more than 300 miles to claim and bring back his bride. They remained in Lebanon four or five years, and settled in Greencastle in 1798 or 1799 where he carried on his business for many years, employing a number of hands. Many of his friends having gone south, an opening was made for business. He consequently made annual business excursions to the south to dispose of his surplus stock.

On one of these excursions, the subject of this sketch [Jacob F. Kreps, his son] accompanied him, and the opportunity was afforded him of taking a boy's view of the institution of slavery and to witness the relation of master and slave. His experience and observation was altogether unfavorable to the institution.

His [Jacob F. Kreps'] opportunities for acquiring a common education was perhaps as favorable as was enjoyed in those early times, having been kept at school from the age of four to thirteen years with some intermission. During the last couple years the study of grammar and geography having been introduced, he acquired a slight knowledge of these branches. At that age [13], he was placed in a hardware store with his uncle William Kreps Esq. at Hagerstown, Md., who was also Post Master. This was a great advantage to him [Jacob Fordney Kreps], giving him a better knowledge of arithmetic, and improving his penmanship.

His chief associate in the Post Office was his cousin, John M. Kreps, who became a leading minister and L. D. in the Presbyterian Church and was successor to the celebrated Dr. Mason as pastor of the Rutgers Street Church in the city of New York, the only pastorate he ever held, and where he died in the year 1867. It is perhaps proper to say that Dr. Krebs changed the orthography of our name believing that "Krebs" was the proper term instead of "Kreps".

He [Jacob Fordney Kreps] remained with his uncle until his [Uncle William's] death in 1822 then he returned home to learn the trade of his father.

In those early days it was considered important (at all events it was very common) for young men after serving their apprenticeship to travel some (Take a tramp) in order to see the country and to become more perfect in their occupation. "Tramps" in those days were generally of a different character and class of men from the tramps with whom the country is so much annoyed today. [1880's]

The business of manufacturing hats (by hand) was then carried on all over the country, and was profitable and respectable and Journeymen Hatters were a large class travelling over the country and stopping to work when necessary. They were united by Associations and were ever ready to give assistance to their comrades when necessary.

They were "travelled men" and consequently intelligent, when they sojourned for a while at a place their acquaintance was sought and they were introduced into respectable society.

The state of Kentucky was their favorite resort at that time for the reason that in many of her chief towns, large shops were located and a number of men were employed. Another reason perhaps was that the people though very sociable were high minded and fond of dress and of course it required the very finest "Beaver" to complete the dress of a gentleman.

Having arrived at maturity, he [J.F.K.] and a comrade, Joseph Gilmore, concluded to take a tramp to the west. They started on foot and at the end of the fifth day arrived in Pittsburgh in safety, but with blistered feet and weary limbs, but cheerful and happy at the prospect of {the} pleasure and enjoyment they were anticipating on this journey.

They remained at Pittsburgh a few days to rest and see the sights. The city was then in its infancy but to the two inexperienced boys, the grand river and splendid steamers afloat upon her bosom was a source of wonder and excitement. They boarded with a Mrs. Beltzhoover [there is an area of Pittsburgh still called Beltzhoover] who lived on the south east corner of the diamond entering her house through a narrow alley.

They took passage on board the Ben Franklin for Cincinnati and Louisville at the head of the falls of Ohio [river]. At each of these places, they remained a few days. At Louisville they had a new and strange experience. At our [!?] hotel they found a gentleman on his way south with a flatboat loaded with hats who prevailed upon them to aid him in taking his boat over the falls. It seemed to be a dangerous undertaking, but the pilot named Boone - a descendant of the famed Daniel Boone - was very expert in his business and landed us [!?] safely at Shippingport in a short time.

They would hardly have undertaken this trip only to do a favor for a brother hatter (the trip was gratis).
They left Louisville and visited a number of towns in the interior such as Lexington, Frankfort, Lancaster, Harrodsburg, Bardstown and other places working at their trade at several places.

At Lancaster, Mr. Gilmore concluded to stop for a while and they separated and Mr. Kreps continued his travels in company with Joseph Lockwood, also a journeyman hatter. About the time he was in Lexington, a great excitement existed on account of a hostile meeting which had taken place between Wickliff and Trotter in which Trotter was killed.

But, losing his travelling companion, and being without an intimate friend, a few months was sufficient to satisfy him with such a wandering life and he set his face homeward.

Having taken passage on board the steamer Kenhawa, he started to ascend the river to Wheeling, Va.. At the mouth of the Guyendotte River, she collapsed her boiler and such a scene as there occurred he never wishes to witness again. Twenty three of the passengers, officers and crew were either killed or badly injured.

A few months after this he settled in Greensburg, Pa. where in partnership with James Wood he commenced his business. He remained here a couple years and on January 20, 1831 was married to Eliza Turney, daughter of Adam and Hannah Turney. Mr. Turney came to Westmoreland Co. with his father in the year 1785. He [Adam Turney] carried on the copper and tin smithing business for a great many years in Greensburg and died in 1872. He was married in 1811 to Hannah, daughter of Rev. J. William Weber, one of three brothers who emigrated from Holland prior to the revolution. They settled for a time in New Jersey, where two of the brothers, John and Henry joined the continental army. Henry was killed during the war. The Rev. Weber (now Weaver) came to Westmoreland County at a quite early day and was one of the first ministers of his denomination (German Reformed) who preached the gospel in the counties of western Pennsylvania and Ohio, travelling extensively preaching to the people and planting churches. He finally settled upon his farm on Big Sewickley Creek where Col. Painter's Mill and Saltworks are now located, and where he died in 1817.

Mr. Kreps returned to Greencastle with his family in December 1831, where he engaged in different branches of business rail road contractor, merchandizing, etc. In the spring of 1845 was appointed Postmaster, holding the office till 1849 when he resigned and settled in West Newton where he now resides. In the spring of 1850, he engaged in the Foundry business and afterward adding general merchandizing, and was moderately successful.

At the commencement of the rebellion [the Civil War], he took a deep interest in every means employed for its suppression. He was called upon to preside over the first War Meeting that was held in this part of the county and was elected one of the officers of a company organized for home protection under the command of the Venerable Gen. Joseph Markle as captain. During the summer of 1861, he raised a company of 19 men to make up the quota necessary to fill the ranks of the company commanded by Capt. A. G. Oliver in the 12th Reserves, went with them to Harrisburg, seen them sworn into the service, and accompanied them to their camp at Washington. It is painful to add that some of these noble boys never returned to their homes, but shed their blood on rebel soil in defense of their country.

He [Jacob Fordney Kreps] never harbored a doubt of the success of the Union arms, and the ability of crushing out this most unjust and unholy rebellion. He was one of the first men in the county to invest his money in the S-20 Bonds of the government, when so many were doubting and faltering. Having 5 or 6 thousand dollars on hand, it was cheerfully entrusted to the Government. Five of his sons volunteered and spent an aggregate of twelve years in the service. One of his sons, Capt. John W. Kreps was wounded at Liberty Gap in Tennessee, June, 1863, was sent home and afterwards discharged on account of disability.

His brother [brother of John W. Kreps, son of Jacob Fordney Kreps], Lieut. F. A. M. Kreps took command of the company and with a number of officers and men (77th Reg. P.V.) were captured at the battle of Chiccamanga, and after an imprisonment of 15 months in different prisons and 4 escapes and recaptures (one through the noted tunnel at Libby) he with Lieut. E. P. Brookes made a final and successful escape from Columbia S. C. floating in a canoe by night and under the protection of the Colored people during the day they reached the sea coast and paddled themselves several miles out to the gunboat N_____ipsic [illegible] where they were received with open arms and taken to Hilton Head where they were clothed and sent to Washington.

In 1863, Mr. Kreps was appointed a commissioner to visit the Pennsylvania regiments attached to Rosencranz's army in Tennessee where he spent 5 or 6 weeks, three of his sons being there in camp on the Battlefield of Stone River, and was delightfully entertained by many of the general officers of the army.

In 1864, with a number of other gentlemen, he was again appointed a commissioner to visit the Penna. Regiments in front of Richmond and Petersburg, and to supervise the Presidential election of that year.

He has always felt a deep interest in the improvement and welfare of his adopted home and has at different times been elected to a place in the Borough Council and School Board.

In 1869 he was honored by an election to a seat in the Legislature from the Westmoreland and Indiana Legislative district and served in the session of 1870.

Mr. and Mrs. Kreps, although partially reared in another branch of the Christian Church, have for near a half century been attached to the Methodist Episcopal Church in which he has been honored with many positions of honor and responsibility and amongst them licensed to preach as a local preacher.

According to their means they have been liberal contributors to the different benevolent institutions of the Church, and especially to the Freedman's Aid Society in which they have always felt a deep interest.

It may not perhaps be out of place to state here that they have and are now contributing of their means to aid five young colored men to get an education to prepare them for usefulness as preachers and teachers amongst the poor and oppressed people of their race. One of them H. H. Avant has graduated at Shaw University, Holly Springs, Mississippi. The other four are still at school. Daniel Minus at Clafflin University, Orangeburg, S. C. and will graduate with honor during the next year. One is at Biblical Institute New Orleans, one at Bennet University at Greensboro N. C. and one at Contenary Biblical Institute, Baltimore, Md.

Their [Jacob and Eliza's] family consists of six sons and two daughters living and one daughter decd., 28 grandchildren living and six decd.

We give the following personnel of their descendants:

Catharine the oldest married to Dr. I. L. Robinson of West Newton - four daughters and one son living, and one daughter decd.

George Rippey Kreps, Postmaster, Greenville, Mercer Co., Pa. - four daughters living and one decd.

Hanna, married to A. E. Dravo, Sewickley Township, three sons and one daughter living, and one son decd.

Captain John W. Kreps proprietor of Dry Docks, Allegheny City- three sons and two daughters living and one daughter decd.

Capt. Frank A. M. Kreps, business manager of Evening Mail, Allegheny City, Pa. - one son and one daughter living and one son decd.

Lieutenant Adam T. Kreps, manufacturer of engines, sawmills etc., Greenville, Mercer Co., three sons living.

David Dempsey Kreps, Manufacturer of lumber and planing mill, Greenville, Pa. - Two sons and one daughter living and one son decd.

Captain William Augustus Kreps - lumber manufacturer and planing mill, Greenville, Penna. - one son and one daughter living.

His [Jacob and Eliza's] oldest grandson Jacob Fordney Kreps Jr. was appointed one of the pages of the House by General Selfridge, clerk of the house at the session of 1870, and in 1879 as the result of a competitive examination where there was 18 or 20 competitors, Col. Thomas M. Bayne M. C. from the 23rd district appointed him a cadet to the United States Military Academy at West Point and he expects to graduate in June 1883.

Mr. and Mrs. Kreps still reside at West Newton Penna. and where on January 20th, 1881, surrounded by their numerous descendants and a large company of their friends and neighbors they celebrated the 50th anniversary of their married life.

[ The many and costly gifts on this occasion give evidence of the esteem in which they are held in the community. - This sentence is crossed out in the original and replaced with the following sentence...] Upon which occasion many beautiful and costly gifts were presented to them.

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