Monthly Archives: August 2009

Bechtel Reunion – Ringing Rocks Park

Well, tis the season for family reunions and a couple of weeks ago I attended the 100th Anniversary One-Family Bechtel Reunion at Ringing Rocks Park near Pottstown, PA. The reunion commemorated the 100th Anniversary of a reunion organized in 1909 by Jesse Bechtel. The purpose then (as now) was to include descendants of the first six Bechtel men (Abraham, Christopher, George, Hans Jacob, John, and John George) who settled in the area in the early to mid 1700s, as well as other Bechtels (all spelling variations) who may have came later. Continue reading

Free Love Valley and the Battle-Axes

I’ve been meaning to write about this one for quite some time. This is truly one of those cases where the truth is stranger than fiction! By some incredible twist of fate, it turns out that a small group of PA Dutch farmers in the backwoods of Chester county PA in the mid 1800s were espousing 1960’s “Counter-Culture.” Makes one wonder exactly what crop it was that they were growing on their farms!!!

Circa 1840 a “religious” sect emerged in northern Chester County, Pennsylvania. They called themselves the “Battle-Axes of the Lord,” and although their numbers were relatively small (some say about 35 members), the area became known as free-love valley. Historical accounts indicate that the basis of their beliefs centered around the idea that conventional marriage is repressive to both the man and the woman. Both would be happier if they could have relations with whomever they chose, whenever they chose. Their commitment to each other could last a day, a week, or a lifetime, but if at any time they found someone else they would rather be with, they were free to leave. They apparently convinced themselves that this was God’s will.
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