Eschbach, John
Autograph Letter Signed, Baltimore May 15, 1848 to Ignatius Garner, St. Marystown, Elk County, Pennsylvania

quarto, three pages, plus address leaf, folded, postal markings on address leaf, in very good, clean and legible condition.

$ 250.00 | Contact Us >

Eschbach discusses a German Catholic Communal Colony in Elk County, Pennsylvania:

      “ … Yours of the 8th has come to hand, And I have sent it off to Mr. Stokes – it was a source of much pleasure to me to hear that you were all well and that you are able to export. Let the People raise plenty, and there will be no danger of their getting it off from there – I have no doubt that you have been extremely buisy this Spring – Particularly so on account of these extra calls that have been made upon you for the re-examination of lines in order to have it correct to make out the plat – I have seen the Revd Mother to Day, you can tell Revd. Byre & the people in the Colony, there is no sort of doubt But that she will send the Sisters up after Whitsuntide – she contemplates going to Europe on a visit shortly after Whitsuntide & before she leaves she will send the sisters up again. And I for one, and I have no doubt that my other partners will do the same, make everything permanent with her for the future. I am fully aware that you are all well pleased with the sisters, and now as the Revd Mother is about leaving for Europe it would be highly gratifying to her, as well as the body of the sisters, if the people in the Colony, would get up a paper signed by the people in the Colony, expressive of their gratitude to the sisters for the valuable services they performed in training up the Females of the Colony in Religion, Morals & Education &c and suppose you frame something of that kind and let the people all sign it I think it would be well for the Colony & also to the Revd. Mother, to take it with her to Europe, in order that she may show that her labours among the People of the Colony were not in vain, but were crowned with success. She also would be thankful to you, if you were so kind to draw a small plat, to show some of the streets and Houses. But more particularly the School House and Church and if you could colour it a little, she wishes to take it with her to Europe…”

          Both Eschbach and Garner were German emigrants to America. By the mid-1840s, Eschbach and his German-born partner, Mathias Benziger, both wealthy Baltimore merchants, had purchased over 60,000 acres of land in northern Pennsylvania which they intended to develop as a Catholic communal colony. They hired Garner as their on-site land agent to manage and expand the property, welcoming newcomers, both from Europe and elsewhere to the village of St. Mary’s which had already been laid out by a Catholic priest. When this letter was written, there were more than 1000 settlers at St. Mary’s, most of them small farmers, though they had been joined by wealthy Philadelphia attorney William Stokes, another partner in the Eschbach-Benziger venture who built a mansion east of the village. Garner became not only the town’s first postmaster, but also its mayor, as well as being an organ builder, musician, church designer, surveyor and lawyer. Eschbach wrote Garner in the expectation that the town’s population would soon be augmented by a group of nuns from a Munich religious community, the School Sisters of Notre Dame, who had sailed for America at the invitation of the Bishop of Pittsburgh. But the Reverend Mother, after visiting St. Mary’s sought another site for her orders American foundation. Eventually a Mother House was established in Milwaukee for this order of well-trained teachers, which still flourishes today. St. Mary’s, now with a population of 13,000, went on to host a notable German brewery and the first Benedictine convent in the United States.