Friday, August 12, 2016

Germantown, Pennsylvania

Germantown is now a neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, part of which is included in the Germantown Historic District. It was originally established by German Quaker and Mennonite families on 6 October 1683. The borough was absorbed into the city in 1854. Germantown is located about 6 miles from the city center. Today, German-American Day is celebrated on the same day as Germantown's founding.

The abolitionist movement began in Germantown in 1688 when four men met and wrote a two-page condemnation of slavery, which they sent to their Quaker governing body. It was not until 1770 that Pennsylvania passed the first Abolition Act in the British American colonies.

During the British occupation of Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War, they housed some of their troops in Germantown. The Continental Army attacked on 4 October 1777. Citizens joined the fighting by firing on British troops as well. In the confusion caused by the battle American troops began firing on themselves and quickly retreated. The battle was initially considered a loss for the American side, but news soon arrived that British General Burgoyne had been defeated at Saratoga with the French recognizing the United States soon thereafter. The loss at Germantown was quickly forgotten.

Engraving of the Battle of Germantown by Christian Schussele; courtesy of

My six times great uncle, Rev. Samuel Blair lived in Germantown with his wife, Susan (Shippen) Blair and their children during the Battle of Germantown. In fact, one of their daughters, Frances Van Hook Blair, named for her father's mother, was born seven short months before the battle. And president George Washington stayed at the Deshler-Morris House during the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1793. The house is now part of the Germantown White House National Park.

Shippen-Blair House
Pray Together, Stay Together
Revolutionary War Chaplain, Rev. Samuel Blair (Jr.)
British Surrender at Saratoga
1793 Philadelphia Yellow Fever Epidemic

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