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Family of Henry Kobel Massacred by Indians
Five of the Eight Children Survive the Attack
Updated 11:03 PM ET Jan 12, 2001

Bethel Township, Berks County, PA (Nov. 24, 1755) - On the horror-filled Sunday afternoon of November 16, 1755, the family of Henry Kobel was attacked by seven or eight marauding Indians at their home in Bethel Township. Henry, his wife (believed to be Maria Salome Hoffman) and three of their eight children were killed in the attack.

After killing Henry and Maria, the Indians pursued, captured and then scalped at least five of the eight children, as they fled into the neighboring woods. The Indians fled only upon hearing other settlers coming to the Kobels' aid. Two of the scalped daughters survived, one to tell the story of the family tragedy, as related on November 24, 1755 by Conrad Weiser in a letter to Pennsylvania Governor Morris.

"I cannot forbear," Weiser wrote, "to acquaint your Honor of a certain circumstance of the late unhappy affair: One Kobel, with his wife and eight children, the eldest about fourteen years and the youngest fourteen days, was flying before the enemy, he carrying one and his wife a boy, another of the children, when they were fired upon by two Indians very nigh, but hit only the man upon the breast, though not dangerously. They, the Indians, then came with their tomahawks, knocked the woman down, but not dead. They intended to kill the man, but his gun (though out of order, so that he could no fire) kept them off. The woman recovered so far, and seated herself upon a stump, with her babe in her arms, and gave it suck; and the Indians driving the children together, and spoke to them in high Dutch, 'Be still, we won't hurt you.' Then they struck a hatchet into the woman's head, neck and tore off the scalp. The children then ran: four of them were scalped, among which was a girl of eleven years of age, who related the whole story; of the scalped, two are alive and like to do well. The rest of the children ran into the bushes and the Indians after them, but our people coming near to them, halloed and made a noise. The Indians ran and the rest of the children were saved. They ran with a yard by a woman that lay behind an old log, with two children; there were about seven or eight of the enemy."

The three surviving sons are believed to have been Johann Heinrich Kobel (b. 1741), Johann Friedrich Kobel (b. 1743) and the infant boy, Johann Jacob Kobel (b. 1755). The names of the two surviving girls are not known. Henry Kobel's farm was taken over first by Jacob Moyer, and then by a John Kobel, who was most likely the 2nd son aforementioned, Johann Friedrich Kobel.

Footnote: The father Henry Kobel was born as Johann Heinrich Kobel on 20 July 1712. He was the oldest son of Jacob Kobel, who was the 6th great grandfather to Wynter Reed Newhouse via Henry's older sister Maria Sybilla. Maria Sybilla Kobel, born in 1711, married Johann Adam Dieffenbach, so Maria and Johann Adam Dieffenbach are Wynter Reed Newhouse's 5th great grandparents.

References: Shirley J. Turner's study "Henry Kobel (1712-1755) of Berk County, Pennsylvania, and the Kobel Massacre" printed in December 1981 in the "National Genealogical Society Quarterly"; and Morton L. Montgomery, Historical and Biographical Annals of Berks County, Pa, 1909.

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