Oley, PA Project

Timeline of transactions:

This property as all properties do in Pennsylvania, began with a land grant from William Penn. Oley Township was originally formed in 1740 as a part of Philadelphia County, before Berks County was formed in 1752. We found a newspaper article from the Reading times, March 20th 1876, detailing the sale from William Penn and the subsequent transactions that lead to the DeTurk’s ownership. Interestingly, the last sentence mentions the last transaction going to Esther DeTurk, the great grandmother of the present owner, Rachel DeTurk. She will be detailed further in this narrative:

Deturks and Bertolet Families

The DeTurk and Bertolet families were prominent figures in the development of Oley. The excerpt below from The Historic Preservation Trust details the first DeTurk immigrant, Isaac DeTurk.

“The DeTurk family is of French Huguenot descent and is descendant from Isaac DeTurk who immigrated to the Hudson River valley in New York in 1708. Isaac was from Picardy in northern France. In 1685, the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes occurred prompting Huguenots throughout France and Alsace-Lorraine to begin fleeing into areas such as England, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Italy, and even Ireland. After the Protestant persecution in France, Isaac opted to flee to America after living for a time in the Alsace-Lorraine region of Germany. The DeTurks were among the many Huguenot refugees who eventually made their way to America. In 1712, Isaac came to the Oley Valley from New York…..In approximately 1712, Isaac DeTurk moved to the Oley Valley and purchased three hundred acres near Friedensburg or present-day Oley. In 1725, Isaac DeTurk owned 300 acres and a homestead. DeTurk’s rent for this land was 10 Pounds per 100 acres plus an annual quit rent of one shilling. The 1734 tax list also lists Johan DeTurk (son of Isaac) as owning 300 acres. Even though his mother was still alive, it appears that son Johan was running and/or owned the same amount of land by 1750 and still owned it in 1775. Johan inherited the large family farm in 1761 after his mother’s death….. Johan DeTurk was the only son of Isaac DeTurk and was born in 1713. He married Deborah Hoch in 1740 and they had twelve children. Among the DeTurk children, were Revolutionary War soldiers (one of whose equipment is on display at the New Jersey Washington Crossing State Park). Also, son John was the third owner of the old Boone farm where Daniel Boone was born. There are currently many DeTurks buried in a family plot at the Daniel Boone Homestead State Historic Site. Johan and Deborah DeTurk were elderly when they moved into the ancillary building on the family farm."

Isaac was married to Anna Maria Wiemer DeTurk. They had two children Johan (John) and Esther DeTurk.

The first recorded deed details the sale from Esther Bertolet to her son Daniel. This deed also discusses a 100 year span of transactions, beginning with William Penn. In 1682, 1,000 acres was purchased by Thomas Bond of Woodacre in the county of Lancaster in Great Britain from William Penn,Esquire. Thomas Bond died and “deed of lease” dated June 7 and 8, 1682 transferred the land to Charles and Anne Reed of the City of Philadelphia.

On October 30, 1716, the land was re-surveyed at the request of Thomas Edwards, by commissioners Richard Hill, Isaac Norris and James Logan and a tract totaling 276 acres was sold by Charles Reed to Thomas Edwards of Cheltenham, Philadelphia County. The notice of survey is below. Note that at this time Oley is still part of Philadelphia County.

On August 31st and Sept. 1st, 1720 Thomas Edwards sold 276 acres to Dirk Jansen, weaver and Margaret his wife.

The map below depicts Oley as it was laid out in 1740. According to our deed research, the owner of the land in 1740 was Esther DeTurk.

The map lists Thomas Edwards as the owner, perhaps because women were not permitted to be land owners, or Esther was not of legal age.

On May 4, 1721 Dirk Jansen transferred 138 acres of the original 276 acres to Esther Bertolet (DeTurk), identified as “spinster.” “The Bertolet homestead, now the property of Israel M. Bertolet was a gift to Esther DeTurk from her father and was in her own right, the original deed being drawn in her name on May 7, 1721 when she was only eleven years of age. This farm was formerly owned by Thomas Boone, who held title to much land in Oley; this title being dated June 7-8, 1682 which was prior to the arrival of William Penn in this country (October 12, 1692).”2 Esther DeTurk Bertolet, was the only daughter of Isaac DeTurk, one of the first immigrants and founders of Oley (as discussed in the opening above.) Esther was born on September 29, 1711 and died May 19, 1798 at age 86 years of age. She was married to Abraham Bertolet, her first cousin. Abraham was a blacksmith by trade and when he and Esther were married, they built a two-story stone dwelling, known as the original DeTurk homestead. Abraham died in 1766 at the age of 54, leaving Esther widowed with six children; Maria, Daniel, Elizabeth, Samuel, Esther and John. Interestingly, according to the newspaper article below, when Abraham and Esther were married in 1735, Esther already owned the 138 acres, as it had been gifted to her in 1721 by her father.

The property was transferred down the Berlolet family line until December 6th, 1864, when is was sold to Jonathan Cleaver. A map of 1862 verifies a J. Cleaver as owning a piece of land and structure on Main Street. Map of 1862, Oley PA. (Cleaver is underlined)

On March 29, 1867 Johnathan R. Cleaver and Sarah his wife sold the property to Frederick Theize. This was also an unrecorded deed without a dollar conveyance value or indication of acreage conveyed.

Jonathan Cleaver

Johnathan Cleaver is buried in the Bertolet family cemetery, indicating a possible family connection between Cleaver and the Bertolets.

The next physical deed was from Frederick and Christiana Theize to Emma Boyer. This deed is dated February 1, 1869 and is for conveyance of 87 perches (.5 acres) for $2000.

The deed outlines many prior transactions. The transaction between Johnathan Cleaver and Frederick Theize details a “messuage” (a dwelling house with outbuildings and land assigned to its use) for the first time. The property was described as a lot prior to this transaction. The messuage that is being described is not our subject house, but the home next door, currently known as the “Butterweck Carriage Home.” Describing the next-door property is important because the home was built on a portion (34 perches) of this home’s 87 perches (.5 acres), which we will detail later.

Business Directory Map of 1860, again listing a J.R. Cleaver owning property on Main Street, he is listed as a “Saddle and Harness” maker.

The property remained 87 perches for the remainder of the 1800’s with the following transactions:

March 30, 1870 

Gideon Lease and Emma Boyer his wife to Jacob Klein

87 perches (.5 acres) 

April 1, 1891 

Jacob M. Klein and wife Catherine to Rachel DeTurk (husband Martin Yoder DeTurk)

$2,000 – 87 perches (.5 acres) 

Rachel DeTurk

Rachel was married to Martin Yoder DeTurk, Their children were Lewis, Martin, Esther, Levi and Rachel. Martin was born December 10, 1813 and died February 21, 1850. He died at the age 37, leaving Rachel a young widow. She never remarried. We found the inventory of Martin’s estate. Although this is not the inventory of present home at present home, it is curious to think if any of the contents she inherited ever made it to the subject property, which at this point and time has yet to be built. We do know that Rachel purchased the existing “Butterweck Carriage” home from Jacob Klein on April 1, 1871. The full inventory of Martin’s estate can be was given to our clients. Here is a sample page:

Below is an 1876 map of Oley, PA showing Mrs. R DeTurk owning a size-able piece of land. The deed from 1871 matches the neighboring properties. Note the blank space to the right of the DeTurk structure. This piece of land is later sold and becomes the .34 perches where the present home is to be built.

Rachel’s will is dated July 5, 1894. In her will, she appoints her two sons Martin and Lewis as executors of her estate. Her will states the property is to be sold at public sale to the highest bidder.

On April 8, 1895 Lewis P. DeTurk and Martin D.L. DeTurk (estate of Rachel DeTurk) sold the property to Jeremiah Butterweck. This deed describes a two story brick dwelling house. In researching the neighboring property, we discovered this description is that of the home next door, “Butterweck Carriage” home. It was sold for $1,600 – 87 perches (.5 acres) 

Jeremiah Butterweck

Jeremiah Butterweck was born to Rueben Butterweck and Catharine Berger. His wife was Emma Manmiller, they had a son Edwin. Jeremiah was a prominent carriage maker in Oley and also built hearses.

Newspaper clipping from The Reading Times November 28, 1911 states that Butterweck is erecting a shop on his premises. Perhaps this is the carriage house that is now used as a garage for the present home. The Oley Historic Society also suggested the building across Legion Drive may have been a carriage repair shop at one time.

The sign on the home next door indicates the profession of Butterweck and his partner Remshemer (also Remsheimer).

A deed search of this property also connects it to Rachel De Turk, proving that both properties were once one and the same.

Abraham K. DeTurk

Abraham K. DeTurk was born on April 22, 1851

to Daniel and Deborah Knabb DeTurk. He was a direct descendant of Isaac DeTurk, who was one of the first settlers of Oley. Isaac was Abraham’s 4x’s great grandfather.

March 21, 1902 Jeremiah Butterweck sold 34.7 perches of his 87 perches to Abraham K. DeTurk for the sum of $802.50. It is unclear if there is any direct lineage between the Butterwecks and the DeTurks. However, we believe there is a connection as Jeremiah Butterweck and wife Emma are buried in the Bertolet family cemetery.

Abraham DeTurk was a prominent figure in Oley, also known as “Friedensburg.” He was the Mayor, Director of the First National Bank, and a member of several Freemasons societies.

Abraham was twice married, first to Kate M. Bertolet. Kate (Catharine) was born April 20, 1849 and died at the age of 32 on November 4, 1881. Abraham remarried Alice DeTurk. They had two sons, Raymond and Daniel H.

Through deed research, newspaper clippings and speaking with the Oley Historic Society we believe Abraham K. DeTurk built the home. The clipping below solidifies our thoughts.

As the clipping states, Abraham was quite an educated and astute business man. He ran the family 204-acre farming business at age of 30 years old. He assisted in the organizing of the First National Bank of Oley in 1907 and was the director of the Reading Hat Manufacturers.

A census record from 1900 gives us a glimpse into where Abraham lived prior to building the subject home. This is for Oley Township (Western Section). It lists Abraham, age 49 as head of the family, occupation as farmer and living on a farm. Wife is Alice, age 42. Children Daniel, age 14 and Ray age 10. Also listed are two servants: a female, Clara Augstadt age 18 and a male, Willie Rothemel, age 17.

The 1910 census lists Abraham as 58 years of age. His wife Alice is 51 and son Raymond H. as 21 years of age. Daniel H. was older and most likely living on his own at the time of this census. Abraham is listed as head of the family. By this time he is listed as owning a house, we suspect it is the subject home. His occupation has also changed and listed as “own income,” suggesting he had retired from farming. The home owned is listed as “free.”

Unfortunately, two years after this census was taken, Abraham died at 60 years of age on December 29, 1912. His death certificate lists cause of death as chronic endocarditis, a rare condition that involves inflammation of the heart lining, heart muscles, and heart valves. He was survived by his two sons, Daniel H. and Raymond and second wife Alice DeTurk.

The news of Abraham’s death and his estate was heavily reported in the area newspapers. According to the below article, he died at home. The article also discussed his retirement from farming after 20 years.

The below article is a testimony to his business prowess. His estate was valued at $105,000.

Abraham did not own just one piece of land. We know he had stake in the family farm, and built the subject home, but according to his will he owned a massive amount of property. His entire estate is divided between his two sons and his wife, Alice.

To his son Daniel H., he leaves the “old DeTurk homestead” totaling 203 acres, a 9 acre tract of wooded land in Ruscomber township and another 12 acres of woodlands in the same township. In addition to the land, he gives Daniel H. $2,000.

To his son Raymond H., he leaves a house “near the yellow house” in Oley Township, 190 acres. Also, his one half interest in a house and land in Oley, totaling 50 acres and a tract of woodland in Earl Township owned jointly by Abraham’s brother Ezra, 60 acres and the sum of $3,000.

The will also has a very detailed description of what he leaves his wife Alice. Along with the current home, she is to receive pasturage for cows, four horse loads of hay to her stable in the village of Friedensburg, all the hay needed annually to feed two cows and a horse. She is to receive from her two sons as much firewood to prepare and ready for the stove. The will even includes apples and potatoes, as much as required for her own use. Coal is also mentioned and is required to be hauled no more than six miles. In lieu of the “widows exemption allowed by law.”, Alice receives a home and 15 acres in Oley. A widow’s exemption refers to a reduction of tax burdens on a taxpayer following the death of a spouse. She inherits the “mansion house” where Abraham currently resides. Also a frame house and lot in village of Friedensburg and $10,000 from Metropolitan Life insurance policies. The 1860 business map (page 13) lists a A. DeTurk as owning property on Main Street. We would assume from this map that Abraham had real estate ties years before he built the present home.

Abraham K. DeTurk’s last will and testament:

The Library of Congress has many records and photos of the historic homes in Oley whose owners have applied to be included on the Historic Register. Unfortunately, the subject property was not included in any documents we searched. The Oley Historic Society verified that their records indicated Abraham DeTurk built the home, however, they had no images of the home in their collections.

The Library of Congress submissions were also located at the Berks County Historic Society, but, again, no images of the present home were found. The Society did provide us with a curious image in “The Oley Valley, A Photographic Journey,” It was donated by a resident of Oley, also a DeTurk and it depicts a brick home being built along Main Street. There is no location or date listed on the photograph, but the dress of the workers could date it to be the early 1900’s, fitting in with the timing of the known build date, 1903.

The 1930 census lists Alice DeTurk as living alone in the home, she is listed as “widow.” The value of the home is listed as $5,000.

Alice died on November 26th 1940 of a cerebral hemorrhage.

Reading Eagle-November 27, 1940 – “Alice K. (Herbein) DeTurck, widow of Abraham K. DeTurck, died yesterday at her home in Oley. She was a native of Oley Township, daughter of the late Jacob and Susan (Knabb) Herbein, was a member of Frieden's Reformed Church, Sunday School, and Ladies' Aid Society, and the Oley Auxilary of the Reading Hospital. Her husband died 28 years ago. Surviving are two sons, Dr. Daniel DeTurck, Oley, and Raymond H. DeTurck, Reading; three grandchildren, one great-grandchild, one brother, Jacob K. Herbein, Oley; two sisters, Miss Sallie K. Herbein, Reading, and Elsie, widow of Samuel S. Sailer, Mt. Penn. Funeral on Saturday at 2 p.m. with all services at the house, the Rev. Earl G. Wolford, officiating. Burial in Union (Bertolet's) Cemetery, Oley, in charge of E. Y. Weidner & Sons, Oley funeral directors.”

Abraham’s sons Daniel and Raymond become the trustees for the estate after their mother’s death. Alice DeTurk died November 26, 1940. In her will she requests all of her entire estate “be converted to money” either at public sale or private sale.

Edward Hoch Heffner

On December 16, 1941, Daniel and Raymond sold the subject property and 34.7 perches to Edward Hoch Heffner (1886–1963) and his wife Emma Merkle (1904-1999) for the sum of $3,500 dollars. Edward and Emma are found in the 1940 Census living in Philadelphia. Edward is listed as a professor and other records indicate he was a Latin professor at a The University of Pennsylvania. The home in Oley may have been a summer residence, or it was leased to tenants. Edward Hoch Heffner was also a Professor of Classics at the University of Pennsylvania.

The kitchen floor of the subject property has some curious writing. It appears to be a Philadelphia address, the name of Edward Hoch Heffner and the word “Fleetwood” is written. We found records for Edward Heffner’s brother and extended family living in Fleetwood at the time the Heffner’s owned the home in Oley. We also know from the census records (above) that Edward and Emma resided in Philadelphia. Perhaps these factors may offer an explanation for the writing. Another theory may be wooden crates. The area of Fleetwood, and the Heffner family, were known for agriculture; producing a wide array of fruits and vegetables. Could the pieces of wood on the floor be wooden produce crates used as a patch?

Thomas L. Schaeffer

On May 15th, 1945 the Hoch’s sell to Thomas L. Schaeffer and his wife Emma. ­The Hoch’s owned the home for a short four years. On the other hand, the Schaeffer’s owned the home for 33 years. Thomas, born Sept, 4th 1880 and died November 1981. He was 101 years old at the age of his death. He was married to Elizabeth (Lizzie Hill), 1885-1951. They had three children, Lester, Clarence and Phillip. A census from 1910 provides some further information about Thomas. His residence in 1910 was Fleetwood and birth name was “Thanos Schaeffer.” He was listed as “survivor of confederate or union Army/Navy.”

A newspaper article leads us to believe that the Schaeffer’s may have used the current home as rental income.

The Dumbwaiter

The subject property has a dumbwaiter that goes from the kitchen to the basement. It is no longer used, but the owners did find the original wheel mechanism above their pantry and the other component in the basement which they though was just a storage closet. The manufacturer on the inside is J.G. Speidel. Below are our findings:

J.G. Speidel was a manufacturer of dumbwaiters, elevators and hoisting machinery. He was based in Reading. He was in partnership with a H. P. Roeper, which quickly dissolved. Speidel continued the business under his name and moved into a larger facility to accommodate his company’s growth. Letter below found confirming the dissolve of the business partnership.

The company was founded in 1896, through other research conducted about the company, we believe this dumbwaiter to be original to the home which was built in 1903.

Other Interesting Finds

We always stumble upon interesting articles in our searches. Below are a few we found that peaked our interest and curiosity:

Now that’s Progress :-(