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PHOTOS COURTESY OF KARL MICKLEY AND LARRY OBERLY The Zion Church Liberty Bell Shrine, pictured in the 1987 PHOTOS COURTESY OF KARL MICKLEY AND LARRY OBERLY The Zion Church Liberty Bell Shrine, pictured in the 1987 "Liberty Bell 210th Anniversary Book"
The Liberty Bell The Liberty Bell

Mickley family comes to America in 1733

Thursday, May 1, 2014 by ED PANY Curator, Atlas Cement CompanyMemorial Museum in Columns

Recently, I had a pleasant visit at the Northampton municipal building with Mr. Karl Mickley. A loyal reader of my columns in the Northampton Press, Karl brought along a packet of his families history. In reading my column on the Thomas Iron Works in Hokendauqua, he related how the Mickley family was involved with the historic iron company.

Even more enlightening were the roots of his family lineage. As a former United States history teacher, the name Jacob Mickley of Revolutionary War fame came to mind. Karl shared the following family history for our readers.

As with many new arrivals to America, the Mickleys came to America for opportunity and to escape persecution.

Their name was originally spelled Michelet. Their roots were in Zweibrucken, Alsace Lorraine.

They embarked for the "New Land" April 6, 1733, on a ship named "Hope," which symbolizes America. The long, arduous journey across the Atlantic culminated when they arrived in Philadelphia on August 28, 1733. With faith and a sense of optimism they were ready to pursue "the American Dream."

They settled in Berks County, as did Col. John Seigfried, Northampton's most famous Revolutionary War soldier. The family later procured land in North Whitehall Township. Ironically, the tract was later owned by the Thomas Iron Company, whose interest was in the iron ore deposits in the area. Note: Ironton today.

In 1769 the "Whitehall Indian Raid" resulted in the death of two members of the Mickley family. The family of seven included John Jacob Mickley, born in 1737. The family consisted of 10 children. Large families were common in the Colonial era as they were necessary to operate the family farm.

With the fires of the Revolution burning high, Mickley answered the call as a member of Captain Benjamin Weiser's Company. He also served on the war committee in Easton.

Mickley's name became an integral part of American history when, in 1777, Colonial authorities called for the removal of bells on the state house and churches of Philadelphia. Under cover of darkness, 11 bells were reserved, the most famous one was our Liberty Bell. Alas, the bells if seized by the British occupiers would have been melted and molded into cannons to be used against the Colonial army.

Mickley was given the task of transferring the bells to safety. The roads from Philadelphia were a far cry from our current highway system. (Of course looking at the traffic gridlock today makes one wonder!)

Back to the bell. Mickley summoned one of early Allen Township's favorite sons to aid in the endeavor, Conrad Kreider.

General Kreider was appointed wagon master of the county by General George Washington. In those days, Northampton County had a census of 550 wagons.

The trip from Philadelphia was difficult, but finally, the wagons arrived in Bethlehem. The journey over rough roads took their toll. There were many breakdowns. The Liberty Bell was loaded on a new, sturdy wagon, destined for Allentown.

It was hidden under the floor of the Zion Reformed Church in Allentown. It was returned to Philadelphia in 1778 as a national treasure.

Mickley and Kreider had risen to the challenge. They saved a symbol of our history for all to enjoy.

By the way, have you ever visited the Zion Church Liberty Bell Shrine in Allentown? You'll enjoy it!!

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In two weeks, General Kreider and Jacob Mickley.