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                                DISCOVERING THE FUTU​RE BY REVEALING THE PAST




Heller - 

Cpl. John Heller - Pension Record: "I then went home from said Brunswick - on the Jersey Shore to what they called the Blue Mountain, in Northampton County and State of Pennsy=lvania where I live in Hamilton Lower Twp..."

To: Mr. Jacob Heller, Wind Gap, Northampton County.        From: Bushkill, April 16, 1812

My Dear Sir, I am now at your Brother John Hellers.....


With the arrival of Simon Heller and his wife Louisa Dietz at the Wind Gap, in 1763, a survey map made in 1860, shows the area around the south side of the Wind Gap and down the main street was called Hellerville. From a land survey of that area, it shows in 1867, Hellerville was not located in Plainfield Twp., but instead in Hamilton Twp. The land survey shows that Hamilton Twp. extended from the north side of the Wind Gap, and south through the gap into Hellerville, today known as the town of Wind Gap. Simon Heller's son, Cpl. John Heller lived in Hellerville and refers to the Hellerville area as being Lower Hamilton Township. In Nov. of 1776, John was taken prisoner at the battle of Ft. Washington. Following his release, he states in his testimony when explaining of his captivity for a pension, that he "returned home to the Blue Mountain in Hamilton Lower Township" (above, left).

A letter, addressed to John Heller's brother Jacob, at Wind Gap (left). The sender addresses that he is writing the letter from John Hellers in Bushkill. An 1860 survey map shows the surname Heller, multiple times in the area around the Wind Gap, the area was later named Bushkill. Jacob Heller was the postmaster at the Wind Gap P.O., located at the Plainfield Church, today known as the St. Peter's Lutheran and Reformed Church of Plainfield.



Johann Simon Heller (Simon), a founder of Hellertown, PA, in Lower Saucon Township, and founder of Hellerville, at the Wind Gap, in Lower Hamilton, Northampton County. During the French and Indian war (1755-1763), Simon served as a county sub-lieutenant and can be found in the town of Easton with Benjamin Franklin, Lieutenant-Governor William Denny, Colonel Conrad Weiser, King Teedyscung (Speaker of the Six Nations), Freeholders, and Officers from the Provincial Forces and the Royal Americans, and others, during the November 1756, Indian Treaty negotiations. During the week-long conference, on November 10, Governor Denny received intelligence that about 40 Indian warriors, who accompanied the King to Easton, had stayed behind near Fort Allen. Colonel Conrad Weiser, asked the King if it would not be proper to send an invitation to them to come to the treaty, he said it would and being approved by the Governor, Moses Tatamy (an Indian interpreter), and two other Indians on the part of King Teedyscung, and Lieutenant Heller (also spelled Holler), on the part of the Governor, with John Pemberton, was sent to invite the Indians down to the treaty. The message had arrived that morning, and by that afternoon they returned and advised.  Within Colonel Conrad Weiser's report of the conference, he refers to Simon Heller as being a sergeant. Simon was also a Freeholder (Freeholder - one who holds title to real property), and within the official report, he is referred to as being a lieutenant. All are correct. Simon Heller was a Freeholder, and a county lieutenant, with the rank of sergeant according to Penna. Archive Records.

During the Summer of 1758, records show that Simon and his brother Daniel Heller, each contributed wagons and draft horses for the General Forbes Expedition for the re-taking of Fort Duquesne, (now Pittsburgh), in Western Pennsylvania. Over 1000 wagoneers and 2600 Provincial and Royal American troops from Pennsylvania, with additional troops from Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina, also joined in the Expedition. Officers, Colonel Henry Bouquett, Colonel George Washington, Colonel John Armstrong, Christian Frederick Post, Sir John St. Clair, and others led the expedition with the intent to expel the French from the Ohio Valley and open the area up for immigrant settlement. New roads were forged across Pennsylvania including the Forbes Trail, laid out by General Forbes during the expedition. Fortifications were built along the way that became trading posts and then became the towns and cities that stand there today. In 1766, Simon was appointed an "Inspector Freeholder" for Northampton County and was frequently appointed to view and lay out roads in different parts of the county. His appointment as an inspector is no doubt a reflection of his time with General Forbes during the Forbes Expedition.

In early October 1763, Lieutenant Jacob Wetterholts company had put up for the night at the John Stenton house during their march from Bethlehem to Fort Allen, when Indians attacked the house. A message from Colonel Timothy Horsfield, to Lieutenant Hunsicker reads: "Sir, This morning at about break of Day a number of Indians attacked the inhabitants of Allens Town, have killed a number & wounded many more Your Captn was here yesterday lays at the house of John Stenton at Allens Town wounded, several of the soldiers have been killed. I send this to Simon Heller (a county lieut.) & requested him to send a safe hand with it, that you may receive it as quick as possible." During this same time is also when the governor ordered troops into Hellers near the Wind Gap. Records show that Simon had purchased the Deetz property on February 1, 1763. Military records show troops were ordered into " Hellers late Deetz." The Deetz Gap Tavern/Inn was where both providential and militia troops had been stationed since early on in the war. Records also show that the Dietz and the Heller Inn was where the sainted missionary Rev. David Brainerd preached and prayed at during his time above the forks of the Delaware from 1744 to 1747 during the Great Awakening. Church records show that by 1766, the log meeting house had become a Parochial School House for the Lutheran and Reformed religions of the area.


With Simon Heller's purchase of the meeting house in 1763 and his passing in 1785, in his Will, it is written that he bequeaths to his children over 500 acres of his land located in Hamilton. Those tracts of land have all been accounted for on land surveys and all show to be located on the south side of the Wind Gap in the Hellerville area, now Wind Gap. Although Hellerville was located in Hamilton, the meeting house was located in Plainfield Township. Simon also bequeaths to his eldest son Capt. Jacob Heller, the meeting house in Plainfield. The Will states that Simon's son, Anthony, the overseer of his father's estate, is to receive the meeting house and that it is located in Plainfield. His Will goes on to say that Jacob, is to receive title to the place in Plainfield (meeting house) from Anthony when the final payment on it has been paid. We can assume that the final payment was made and the Plainfield Church then acquired the log meeting house/school house, from Jacob, by 1790. Plainfield Church records state that "On January 16, 1790, we, the minister, elders and deacons as well as the members of our Christian Reformed Congregation in Plainfield, met in our schoolhouse, in order to render our financial account. - Friedr.Herman, pastor"

In 1800, the Plainfield Church congregations renovated the log schoolhouse and relocated it to where it sits today next to the stone schoolmaster's house and the 1916 granite-built church. (see below)

     1805 Hall/Summer Kitchen        1737 Meeting House                                 1839 Schoolmaster House                      1916 Granite Church


During the American Revolutionary war, Simon's son, Jacob, signed his allegiance in 1777. Capt. Heller served during the war as a lieutenant and then as Captain of a company of Army Rangers. Jacob ran his own tavern on the south side of the Wind Gap and on June 18, 1779, is where General Sullivan took up residence during Sullivan's March and where his troops encamped for the night after the first day's march from Easton. On a map made during Sullivan's March, it platts Jacob's, tavern, just south of the Wind Gap, on Sullivan Trail Road, where a marker presently records the event. Jacob Heller did have a second tavern, that also was used for church services, it being on the north side of the Wind Gap just south of Saylorsburg . This tavern may be the stone tavern that is referred to here within the following: A writer during that time describes an encounter that happened between Jacob and a traveler who was passing through the Wind Gap area. It seems that the traveler had noticed a large rack of Moose horns hanging over the front door of Jacob's tavern and he stopped to inquire within. The writer described the encounter: "It was related that Marks John Biddle, a celebrated lawyer of Reading, PA while stopping at his tavern when on a horseback journey, noticed the horns, and asked about them of the landlord. Old Jacob Heller obliged his guest by taking them down and letting him measure them. They had a width of 78 1/2 inches and weighed a trifle over 91 pounds. Several old men hanging about the tap-room told Mr. Biddle that the Pennsylvania Moose was a creature of appalling size, the males often stood eight feet at the hump, that the spread of the horns was tremendous but the creatures handled these appendages with great dexterity." The writer then goes on to say that "They hung for many years above the front door of Heller's stone tavern, near the Wind Gap, in Northampton County."

The Snyder Apartments, Wind Gap, was possibly first Simon Heller's house built c.1763.

Wind Gap. Known during the 19th and 20th centuries as the Woodley House (building at left). Known as the Snyder Apartments during the 20th century (building at right).

Lower part of the town of Wind Gap

From starting points, the original 151 acres purchased by Adam Dietz in 1745 are platted in the Pentagon shape (above, red line). Those 151 acres show upon a land survey as being owned by Adam Dietz in 1745, owned by Simon Heller in 1763, and owned by Jacob Heller in 1775. The house in the image (2nd image above, the building at left) is where General Sullivan and his troops encamped for the night at Jacob Hellers Tavern in 1779 as shown on a state historical marker at the site (above image at red arrow). The house may have been a hunting lodge possibly built by Chief Justice William Allen prior to the ownership by Adam Dietz. Justice Allen, Benjamin Franklin, Adam Dietz, and Simon Heller, were Freemasons and Templars. Justice Allen owned 12,000 acres of land from the Wind Gap to Martin's Creek. 

The image (2nd image above, the building at right) was known for a long time as the Snyder Apartments. That building may have originally been built by Simon Heller as his house upon his arrival at the Wind Gap in 1763. On the above Google Earth image, the apartment building sits within the boundary (blue line) of land owned by both Simon Heller and later his son Jacob, as shown on a 1791 land survey. The building is similar to the log house built by Simon's father, pioneer Christoph Heller in the Lower Saucon in 1748 (image below). The building (above, and at left) was built on stilts and in a swampy area. That area shows signs of once being a pond. The house may have eventually been renovated into the Snyder Apartment building after the area had dried up.  

Heller homestead, Lower Saucon, built in 1748

Cpl. John Heller

During the American Revolutionary war, Johann Simon Heller signed his oath of allegiance to the American cause on August 29, 1778, Simon Heller was a county sub- Lt. with the rank of Sgt.  Simon's youngest son, also named Simon, served as a Sergeant during the American Revolution. Simon (jr.) married Christine Bossert and they lived on the north side of the Wind Gap, in Hamilton Twp. Simon's other son, Pvt. John Heller saw action in General Washington's New York campaign. Following the battles at Long Island and White Marsh, he was taken prisoner at the battle of Fort Washington, where he survived the British prison camps in New York City, before reenlisting again following his release and a year of recovery. Below, John Heller's pension describes his enlistment, his imprisonment, and subsequent re-enlistment into General Sullivan's company during Sullivan's March, in 1779.

Testimony for PENSION for Cpl. JOHN HELLER - 1834

On this twenty sixth day of February in the year of our Lord One Thousand and Thirty Three Personally appeared Before the Honorable Judges of the Court of Common Pleas the aforesaid John Heller, aged 75 Seventy-Five years on the 21st day of Lent Who being duly Sworn according to Law, doth on his Oath make the following Declarations in order to obtain the benefit of the provisions made by the act of Congress passed June 7th, 1832: That he enlisted in the Army of the United States in the year 1776 on or about the first of March of said year with Capt. Henry Ellis. and served in the 3rd Regiment of the Pennsylvania Line under the following named 

Cpl. John Heller's testimony for pension - 1834

officers: "Captain David Lenox my first Capt - did not go on with us after I enlisted. My Lieut was the name of DAVIDSON and was first Lieut, the second Lieut was the name of Hunter = My Ensign was the name of Mac Kentere Our orderly Sargent was the name of Wheelers = Colonel Deshay was the said Colonel of the Regiment when I was attached to Colonel Kid and company = he resigned Some time when we were at Fort Washington or when we were at Philadelphia = Colonel Kidwalliter was the Lieut Colnl he then took the command after the resigniation of Colnl Deshay = our Major was the name of Baker = Major Bakers Son was the adjutant of the said 3rd Regiment of said Pennsylvania Line I recollect very well the Adjutant Baker had a very Strong voice and I could hear him commanding at a great Distance. Our Sergent Major of said 3rd Regiment was the name of Washington. I was together with the 3rd Regiment and the 5th Regiment and what was called the Flying Camp who were all taken at the Battle of Fort Washington=taken by the British. We were in said fort Washington Colnl McGaw who was the Colnl of 5th Regiment = commanded the Army in said Fort - in the year 1776 - The Battle was fought to the Best of My Recollection. The said Colnl Surrendered said fort to the British and we were then surrendered = a British officer ordered US Out of fort and ordered us to ground Arms, Then ordered us to the right face and we were marched to York as prisnrs = When we got to York as prisnrs = they imprisnd us in a meeting house - this was in the city of New York = There was 2200 of us in a meetin house and in a Sugar house at said place. We immediately went from fort Washington there = and in prisn from the said time we were taken until the last of February - I was imprisned in the said meetin house. we had water and not allowed any they gave us some biskits made out of phlore (flour) Rye. Our Men in said Prisn all Died in Siad Prisn all but thirty three out of which 33 - I have the Honr to be one of said men. I will Recollect that in the morning In said Prisn there would be rows of men lying Dead = Persons in York would come in and Cart the Dead Bodies off where they were put I can not tell = when the British took us off they took us to Brunswick on the Jersey Shores they however had but the 33 of us to take out of said Prisn- When we was set on Jersey Shore = and across the Hudson River a British officer who had command of the men that took us said to us go off you Damd Rebels never let me catch you again If I do I will hang you right up = after we got off a piece we then wished we had our Rifles we would give him a Pop that was in the Last of Feby or the beginning of March = I Recollect the name of some of the men that was with me composing the 33 = Henry Segal - Christian Road, Joseph Taylor - WIlliam Wardes and an Irishman by the name of James Mc Cluskey who when in Prisn would sit out on or in the Pulpit of the meetin house in Prisn and would preach to the Hessians for the purpose of aggravating them the Hessians were the guard of said Prison = I then went home from Brunswick - on the Jersey Shores to what was calld the Blue mountains in Northampton County and State of Pennsylvania where I lived in Hamilton Lower Township = I enListed for One Year I was in the Battle of Long Island I was then belonging to the 3rd Regt. We went from Fort Washington to York we went across the water to Long Island and then the Battle began = Our Genl who had the command at said Battle was the name of Genl Mifflin = The British made us retreat of the Island we fought them two Days at said Battle = it was in the same year that I enlisted as I have already Stated we Retreated Back over Long Island under the command of Genl Mifflin to Fort Washington 14 miles above New York on York Island = The second Battle was in at the White Plains Genl Mifflin commanded us there we fought about 3 or 4 hours. We then retreated after the Battle and marched back to Fort Washington it only took us one Day to get back there we staid till the fort was taken = In Town our company Marched from said place to Philadelphia when we were attached to the 3rd Regiment I believe = We are in the Army from the 1st of March untill the time I was set on the Jersey Shores = I was at home after said time of Difficulty about one year. Captain Patterson was Raising a volunteer Company in Northampton County - I volunteered and went with him in his company for two years = he had about 60 men when he started = from the White Marsh we marched from there up to the other side of the Blue Mountains in Northampton County = We had no officer with said Patterson - Our Sergant was the name of Arnold - Genl Sullivan was with his Army - we were put under the line of command by Sullivan there were 2 other Genls there = Maxfield and Poore = We all marched to the Genesees it was in the fall perhaps in September we went to the Genesees in pursuit of the Indians and from there we returned back home = I was nine months with Sullivan and two years with Patterson - and from the time I enlisted until I returned home from 1st campaign I was In said war would make about 3 years and 9 months = I never got a written discharge = The last time I was out I thought it was not worth while to get a discharge as we supposed they would pay us with Continental money which was worth nothing. PENSION APPROVED - 2 YEARS Issued April 12, 1834, $80yr 

The area today that is known as the town of Wind Gap, was known as Hellerville during the 18th and 19th centuries. Hellerville was located in Lower Hamilton Township. The area of the Plainfield Church and cemetery, known today as St. Peters Lutheran and Reformed Church, was known as the Wind Gap P.O. and was located in Plainfield Township. Today Hellerville is no more and the town is known as Wind Gap. 

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