Our trip to Groton, Massachusetts
This, our sixth day on the road, began with a short drive down Highway 222 from Reading, PA (actually Wyomissing) to Kutztown. Anyone that has heard about my hobby of family history will recognize this town name as the location of the farmstead of the first Breyfogle in America. Johann Petar Breyvogel settled hear Kutztown in 1744 when he arrived here from Germany. His son George Breyfogel established a farmstead that was the first known property owned by the Breyfogle family in America. This morning was all about trying to connect with this small town in southeastern Pennsylvania.
Our first stop was at the burial ground at this old church, once known as the St. John’s Church. This building was erected in 1876 but there must have been an earlier structure as our ancestors were buried here in about 1817. We suspect that the steeple was removed from the church at some point but we think that the main part of the church must look very much the same as it did in the late 1900’s. The picture below shows the headstones for George and Catherine Breyfogel with the inscriptions in what appears to be German. The names are clearly visible but the inscriptions are very faint and we have no idea what information they gave. We had to return around 1:30 PM to get another picture as in the morning this area is entirely shaded and the camera just couldn’t pick out the weathered details.
The church is located one block off Main Street so we returned to it and followed it north to the top of the hill where the University of Kutztown is located. The picture above is the sign as you enter the campus, which we did on foot so we could take pictures of some of the nice old buildings on this campus. The picture below is “Old Main” and a passerby told us that this building was the original building on the University grounds and at one time housed the entire college including student housing. Today the University has a wide range of very old buildings to very modern buildings situated on top of the hill above Kutztown.
We were very impressed with the Graduate Building, pictured above. We did not go inside but with the domed roof and large scale of this structure we are sure it is as impressive inside as out. The fountain shown below was part of a courtyard setting between some of the buildings. The more traditional fountain in the foreground forms a river of sorts in a channel that flows down to the walled fountain in the background. The water is pumped to the top of the wall and spills over it and flows along the steps in front of the wall. This is intended as a place for visitors to splash in the very shallow water on a hot day.
As mentioned above, the University sets at the top of the hill on Main Street and the picture above is looking down the hill at Kutztown and the downtown section. We were very impressed with the old Townhouse style of buildings that lined the streets going down the hill. Many are still private residences and others are offices and stores. We parked at the bottom of the hill and I tried to capture the feel of this old town through its buildings.
We could not find corner stones or date stones on the buildings but know that many date from the mid-1800’s to the early 1900’s based on their architectural style and the choice of building materials. While visiting an antique shop we learned that the University had purchased a working farm near its campus and restored many of the old buildings, including the one you see below. The grounds of this German Heritage Site were open but the buildings were closed and we did not have time to arrange a tour, so took a few pictures and learned that this house is known as The Eichler-Frankenfield Home.
We ate lunch at the Kutztown Tavern, a microbrewery and restaurant on the lower part of Main Street. This is the home to the Golden Avalanche Brewing Company. We of course sampled some of their beer and enjoyed a very nice lunch in a wonderful old building with the brew tanks fully visible to the patrons. Our last stop as we left town was to drive out to the old Breyfogel homestead. We had not contacted the current owners prior to our visit so decided not to just drop in, instead I took a picture of the homestead as it appears from the semi-private drive above it. The soil in the nearby hay field looked like a rocky clay mixture and I marveled at the ability of my ancestor to scratch out a living in the late 1700’s on this ground. Tomorrow we continue west to Portage, IN.