Spooky Farabaugh Mystery No. 9: Conrad Luther

No. 9. Where lies the Heathen Hessian? Will Farabaugh bought his farm in 1913, where Route 219 meets the “Brick Road” to Loretto, near Carrolltown. It is no ordinary farm. It is the spot where the West Branch of the Susquehanna begins, and is near (and possibly subsumes) the historic Flick House, once considered the area’s longest active residence. Will’s brother Leo Farabaugh lived there. It is also near where a group of unhappy, wayward Trappist Monks from France came and quickly left sometime between 1808 and 1813. You’d never guess all that when driving past. But our mystery here concerns the remains of this land’s first settler, a Hessian Rev. War soldier named Conrad Luther (1754-bef 1825). Conrad brought his family here in about 1793 from Lancaster. Locally published lore repeatedly relates that Conrad was a descendant from the third son of the Martin Luther and that he was triumphantly converted by the local Catholic pioneer-priest, Demetrius Gallitzin. This is likely false on both fronts. First of all, it is unclear if there was even one male descendant of Martin Luther going into the 18th Century. Second, I have a copy of Gallitzin’s meticulous baptismal records, and there is no Conrad Luther. There is instead a record of baptizing Conrad’s 38-year-old wife Elizabeth in 1808 (click image if blurry):

Elizabeth Luther baptism 1808

Some of the children by this couple are also baptized by Gallitzin, but Conrad (formerly associated with the First Reformed Church in Lancaster) does not appear to budge. There is an uncharacteristic fragment at page 273 of Gallitzin’s journal where he starts recording the baptism of a “Bernardus” without surname in 1823; researchers believe Conrad’s full name was Bernhart Mariannis Conrad Luther. But Gallitzin’s failure to complete this record with a surname, sponsors and his signature really makes the connection highly speculative.

Conrad dies sometime before June 6, 1824, when Elizabeth is first identified as a widowed baptism sponsor. He then understandably does not get buried at the consecrated Catholic cemetery in Loretto, which leaves the reasonable inference that he is buried on the farm.  This is certainly the consensus of local history. But the grave markings have never been found on the Will Farabaugh farm. Has anyone looked for them? Have farm ploughs uncovered anything? Is Conrad at peace? Would a metal detector uncover a really cool Hessian helmet?






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