John Pritiskutch Reproductions

History of Lebanon County - The Heilman Family

The following is reproduced from the 1875 Atlas of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania

A record of the Heilman family, living at what is now known as Heilman Dale, lying partly in North Annville, and partly in North Lebanon township, Lebanon county, Pennsylvania.

The record of this family in Europe is authenticated to a very early period. In that record, obtained many years ago, at great expense from authentic documents in Europe, it appears that its great ancestor was one Veil-the-Heilman, who, about the year 1305, obtained from Emperor Albright the honor of Knighthood, and a nobility diploma. Down to the 16th century, the name constantly occurs in the Genealogical Register of the German Nobles. But in the year 1509, the Knight, John-the-Heilman, of Heilsdorf, was deprived of his position by the Emperor Max, and he and his descendants fell to, and have since remained in, the citizens rank. Notwithstanding this, many of the more prominent of the families even in their citizen state, retained the ancient family coat of arms to a very recent date. They also owned large possessions in Swabia, Bavaria, and the Rhine country, including noblemans' seats, named as follows: Heilmansegek, Heilstein, Heilsdorf, &c. During the Middle Ages, many of the then celebrated men were members of this family, such as Allarich Heilman, who, in the year 1465, was a prominent member of the German Order of Knights and Ferdinand Heilman, who, in the year 1483, was Abbot in the Monastery of Martin's Cell; and Hieronimus Heilman, who at one time was commander of the military forces of the Emperor Frederick. From an attested certificate, it appears that about the year 1659, John Jacob Heilman lived at Zutzenhausen in the Palatinate. To him was born a son, who was baptized on the 24th of February, 1715, and received the name of John Adam Heilman. About the year 1738, this John Adam Heilman emigrated from his fatherland to America, and settled in the then Province of Pennsylvania (what is at present North Lebanon township, Lebanon county) where at this time his great grand-child, Samuel Heilman resides. He here departed this life on the 25th of September, 1770, at the age of 54 years. His remains rest in the cemetery of the Hill Church. Of him it may be said that he was one of the pioneers of the section in which he settled, and that he was, indeed, one of the first settlers of the section here spoken of. True to that feeling of mutual dependance upon one another, and to that spirit of enterprise and love of order which characterized the early settlers of the wilds of America, he was one of the earliest and most earnest helpers to provide a place for public worship, and as early as 1744, we find that an organization known as the " Berg Gemeinde " (hill congregation) had already been formed, and that it had erected for itself a small church building. This was long prior to any settlement at " Steite," or what is now Lebanon. It was the first organization for religious purposes in the section which now forms Lebanon county, and it was the first organization within the limits named to erect church buildings. On the same spot where this rude building was erected in 1744, the third building now stands; this last one was built in 1837, and in it many of the descendants of this same John Adam Heilman still worship. Around this spot cluster many historical facts of local interest; and in its burial ground rest many stout hearts of those who braved the wilderness and the savages. A relic of this John Adam Heilman is the dwelling house built by him. It was probably the first house built in the " Dale." This house, nearly 150 years old, stands on the premises of his great grandchild, John Heilman, and is still in use, and well preserved.To this John Adam Heilman wits born, on the 2d of August, 1745 (old style) a son, also called John Adam Heilman. To him, in wedlock with Catharine Schmidt, were born eight sons and five daughters. During the war of Independence between the original 13 United States and England, this John Adam Heilman, in the capacity of commissioned officer, rendered his country essential service, and aided in establishing that glorious freedom which his descendants now enjoy. Later in life, in 1793, he built a paper-mill for his son Adam, and wife Eve. By them the manufacture of paper was carried on for many years. The quality of paper turned out at this mill was as good as the knowledge and progress of the time then admitted, so it was largely in demand, and for a long time the State Department at Harrisburg received from this mill all its writing paper for official purposes.

This building is still standing, and is in the possession of John Heilman, and is now used as a dwelling house. On the 4th of October, 1827, this John Adam Heilman, full of years, and content with life, died after a pilgrimage of 82 years, 1 month, and 20 days. Of his thirteen children, three sons and one daughter died young. By his other five sons, Adam, John, Henry, Philip, and Jacob, and his four daughters, Christianna, Catharine, Sabina and Mary Magdalena, the family increased very rapidly in numbers, and its members are now scattered far and wide. Of the fourth generation on the male side, Henry, John, George, and Joseph, are still living, and occupy and own the original settlement founded by John Adam Heilman in 1728. As a family, since its settlement in this country, it has followed agricultural pursuits almost exclusively. At the same time, however, it has taken an active interest in the welfare of the country, and has always stood prominently and firmly on the side of morality and the Christian religion. A large portion of its members were and are, members of the Reformed Church. Of these of the fifth generation, still a large majority are engaged in agriculture; a few are in the mercantile business; two are clergymen, and one is a physician, with a large practice in and around the original settlement. The changes in the aspect of the " Dale," since it was first settled by John Adam Heilman, one hundred and forty years ago, and the present time have been truly wonderful. From a barren and wild state of things, by patient industry, all has been transformed into large fertile farms, with stately and commodious buildings, and their possessors living in luxury and ease, superadded to which are all the modern conveniences that canal, railroad, post-office and telegraph can furnish. As a family, the Heilman family certainly thank a kind Providence for manifested gifts and blessings.

N. B.-The Publisher must acknowledge his indebtedness to a member of the Heilman family for the manuscript, of which the above is a copy; at the same time, he regrets the lack of similar information in regard to many other old and numerous families in the county, a record, of whom would be read with interest by all.