Our Patriots    . . . biographical sketches

Heinrich Naftzger

  Heinrich Naftzger was born on 11 March 1764 at Bubendorf, in Canton Basel, Switzerland. A son of Martin and Elizabeth (Meyer) Naftzger, Heinrich was baptised in the Evangelical Reformed Church of Bubendorf.

  When he was only seven years of age, Heinrich was brought to America by his maternal grandparents, Heinrich and Anna (Thommen) Meyer. The three emigrated from Canton Basel in the year 1771, and sailed on board the brig, Betsey. They landed at the port of Philadelphia on 04 December 1771. Heinrich’s parents probably intended to emigrate later, but died in Switzerland before being able to do so.

  The Meyer family settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It was there that Heinrich Naftzger married his first wife, Margaret Sense about 1783. The couple gave birth to seven children before Margaret’s death in 1795. Heinrich married his second wife, Margareth Beschtler on 22 March 1797. This second marriage would bear thirteen children.

  In May of 1783, at the age of nineteen, Heinrich enlisted as a private in Captain Huston’s Company of the 2nd Regiment of the Lancaster County Militia. Although actual fighting had effectively ended with the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown on 19 October 1781, the British continued to hold New York City until November 1783. The situation in which the Patriots found themselves in May of 1783 was no different than they had in any of the previous couple years; there was no certainty that the British would not make another attempt to regain control over the colonies. And in May of 1783 no one had the benefit of hindsight to see that active fighting was indeed finished. So despite the fact that Heinrich Naftzger enlisted just six months before the de facto end of the war (with the removal of the British from New York City), he exhibited his patriotic spirit toward his new homeland.

  In his later years, Heinrich Naftzger made a living as a shoemaker. It was, you could say, his family profession beginning with Heinrich’s great-grandfather, Hans Caspar Neffzger, who was a shoemaker at Bubendorf, Switzerland in the 1650s.

  The Naftzger family moved from Lancaster County to Centre County around 1800. Heinrich continued to make a living as a shoemaker in his new home in Miles Township. Heinrich Naftzger died on 11 September 1823.