Stewart Franklin Hettig

The upcoming election certainly seems to have stirred up lots of drama. Every day there seems to be reports of corruption, scandals and cover-ups. But, drama during an election is no new thing and has been going on for decades. This is something I found out while researching my family tree.

Warrior Run, Pennsylvania is a small town that was begun during the heyday of the Pennsylvania coal mining days. Most of the residents were either employed by the mining companies or the railroads that transported the coal.

It wasn’t surprising that my second great uncle, Stewart Hettig, became a railroad foreman for the Lehigh Valley Railroad. He was born December 5, 1873 in White Haven, PA to Augustus and Sarah (Keiper) Hettig. He and all four of his brothers (Reuben, Stephen, Charles, and Wilson) all got jobs working for the railroad. Stewart moved to Warrior Run in May 1906, with his wife, Electa (nee Dennis) and their only child, Stewart Brazil.
Stewart became a prominent


The Wilkes-Barre Record, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; Sat. August 8, 1908, page 14.

figure in Warrior Run. Besides working for the railroad, Stewart, an avid hunter and fisherman, also became a game warden. He also opened a pool parlor in town.



On June 4, 1910, a primary election was held to cast ballots for a Pennsylvania state senator and a state representative. Stewart had been appointed to the Warrior Run election board as a judge. Serving with him were Richard Thomas and James Moore, inspectors; and John Stinson and Dr. N.H. Jenkins, clerks. Dr. Jenkins had been called away for a medical emergency, and Edward Williams, principal of the Warrior Run school and a deputy clerk of the election board, sat in his place.


The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; Friday, June 3, 1910, page 23.



Pittston Gazette, Pittston, Pennsylvania; Monday, June 13, 1910, page 3.

On June 9th, Assistant District Attorney Michael M. McAniff appeared before Luzerne County Commissioners with charges of fraud in nearly all of the ballot boxes in the Fifth Legislative District. It was charged that the returns from Warrior Run were padded. After investigation it was noted that names looked to have been added after the ballots closed. Names were found to be people who later testified, that they did not vote that day, or they were living elsewhere in the country, or they were dead. Votes added after the polls were in a different handwriting than those written down during the day. It was also charged that certain voters were given shots of whiskey in order to buy their vote. The whiskey was rumored to have been purchased by the mining company. The District Attorney’s office investigated and on June 11th, arrest warrants were issued for Stewart, inspectors James Moore and Richard Thomas; and clerks Edward Williams and John Stinson. Also arrested was James O’Boyle, a hotel keeper, who was charged with bringing whiskey to the polling place and providing it to the election board. Witnesses later testified that they were paid by the mining company to vote for Senate Candidate, Edward James.



The Evening News, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; Thursday, September 15, 1910; page 1 and 3.


After a trial and an unsuccessful appeal, Stewart, James Moore and Richard Thomas were found guilty and sentenced to 6 months imprisonment at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.


“Pennsylvania, Prison, Reformatory, and Workhouse Records, 1829-1971,” Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com), citing Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Convict Reception Registers; Series: 15.56, Prisoner number B5838, Stewart Hettig.



Bradford Evening Star, Bradford, Pennsylvania; Tuesday, January 14. 1930, page 1.

After his release from the penitentiary, Stewart lived a relatively quiet life, until 1930. When he was the lone witness of a deadly train robbery. Four men were killed when bandits blew up a railroad car that held a mining company payroll as it traveled through Warrior Run.


Stewart and his wife moved to St. Petersburg, Florida around 1942. He died there in 1967.




WEEK 19 – Augustus Hettig and how he found a way

The family story goes that my great, great grandfather, Augustus, was 17 years old in 1867 and was faced with having to mandatory service in the military. Not wanting to serve, he apparently found a way to escape it, and came to America instead. So, he is the subject of Week 19 of the 52 Ancestor Challenge, in which the theme is “There’s a Way.”

Unproven facts say that Augustus was born about May 27, 1850, in Leipzig, Germany. His true name is not known, but some family members think it might have been Leppart.

The Austro-Prussian War was taking place around this time frame. The Kingdom of Prussia formed the North German Confederation with allies, and took control of government, military and foreign affairs. Mandatory military service was being enforced by the Prussian government.

For whatever reasons, Augustus did not want to be forced to enter the military and be forced to go to war. So, he made his way to the port at Bremen and was said to have stowed away on a ship that was bound to America. On the ship, he had befriended a family with the last name of Hettig, who took Augustus under their wing. Augustus went on to live with this Hettig family and took on their last name and he was known as Augustus Hettig ever since.

I had discovered that Augustus did in fact, live with a Hettig family. I found him at the age of 20 living in the 1870 Census with Valentine and Sofia Hettig in White Haven, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Valentine and Sofia had 3 other sons living with them: Alvin, age 12; Lewis, age 10; and Otto age 7.

HETTIGValentine_nat2Luzerne County did not have naturalization records for Augustus, but they did have them for Valentine. These records indicated that Valentine had come to America on June 5, 1867 in New York.


A search of the passenger records confirmed this. Valentine Hettig, his wife Sofia and their sons, Alvin, Lewis and Otto were found on the passenger arrival records on the Baltic, which arrived on June 5, 1867.  There no SSBalticPassengerAugustus “Hettig” listed. However, right under Valentine Hettig and his family, was an “Aug. Schnabel, age 17.” Could this possibly be my great, great grandfather? Is this how he had found his way to America and his new life?

Someday, I hope to learn more and find an answer to that question.






  1. Friday, November 3, 1933; page 6, col 5. Obituary for August Hettig., The Otsego Farmer, Cooperstown, New York.
  2. Ancestry.com, 1870 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009), Ancestry.com, Year: 1870; Census Place: White Haven, Luzerne, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1365; Page: 393B; Image: 57; Family History Library Film: 552864. Record for August Hetick.

  3. Luzerne, Pennsylvania, Petition record, Valentine Hettick..; Luzerne County Courthouse, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

  4. Year: 1867; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 280; Line: 11; List Number: 528



WEEK 9 – 2015: Florence Anna Hettig, closer to home than I realized

Florence Anna Hettig

Florence Anna Hettig

“Close to Home” is this week’s theme for the 52 Ancestors challenge:  Who has a story that hits “close to home”?

My mom had been trying to locate copies of my grandparents’ high school yearbooks for years. Even though we grew up in the same town they had lived in, it was still difficult to find copies of yearbooks from the 1920s. So, when Ancestry.com released their U.S. School yearbook collection, I hoped that they would have yearbooks from their alma mater (and mine), Lehighton Area High School.

I was hoping to find the yearbook of my grandmother, Florence Anna Hettig. She was born August 25, 1909 in Lehighton, PA to Stephen and Ida Mae (Hahn) Hettig. I didn’t get to see my grandmother very much when I was growing up. She was living in Boulder, Colorado and then later lived in Warrenton, Virginia with my aunt. I would see her when she traveled back to Lehighton to visit with family. But, she always remembered our birthdays and send gifts for Christmas. She had always loved to draw and paint, and I specifically remembered her gift of a Jon Gnagy “Learn to Draw” Art Set. I loved to draw and paint myself, and I remembering spending hours drawing with those pencils and pastels and producing many little drawings, that my Mom stills has buried away somewhere.

I was pleased to find that the 1927 edition of the Gatchin Bambil, was included in Ancestry’s collection. My grandmother was a junior at Lehighton High School during that time. And on page 13, I found her. What astonished me was that she was on the yearbook staff as an artist! I had never known that fact, and it immediately made me feel even closer to her, because I too had been on the Gatchin Bambil yearbook staff when I attended Lehighton High School.

My grandmother passed away on November 8, 1977 in Warrenton, Virginia. She is buried in the Gnaden Huetten Cemetery in Lehighton alongside her parents.

The Yearbook staff of the 1927 Gatchin Bambil, Lehighton High School, Lehighton, PA. My grandmother, Florence Hettig, was an artist for the yearbook.

The Yearbook staff of the 1927 Gatchin Bambil, Lehighton High School, Lehighton, PA. My grandmother, Florence Hettig, was an artist for the yearbook.

This is a picture of me (on the right) when I was Associate Editor for the 1980 Gatchin Bambil yearbook.

This is a picture of me (on the right) when I was Associate Editor for the 1980 Gatchin Bambil yearbook.

One of the many illustrations Florence Hettig contributed to the 1927 Gatchin Bambil.

One of the many illustrations Florence Hettig contributed to the 1927 Gatchin Bambil.

Sarah Jane Keiper – An update and DNA results

A few months ago, I wrote a 52 Ancestors blog about my great great grandparents, Augustus and Sarah Jane (Keiper) Hettig. It was said that Sarah was a full blooded Indian that was adopted.

However, when I took a DNA test last year, Native American did not show up at all in my results. My ethnicity estimate is 40% Ireland, 35% Great Britain, 11% Italy/Greece, 9% Europe West, and trace regions consist of Iberian Peninsula, Finland/Northwest Russia, Europe East, Scandinavia, and Melanesia.

So was Sarah not Native America or did I just not receive any of the Native American DNA? And did the trace Melanesia figure in?

I bought another test and had my Mom take it. Her results were: 47% Europe West, 27% Scandinavia, 20% Italy/Greece, and trace regions Iberian Peninsula, Great Britain, European Jewish. No Native American.

So, do these results prove Sarah was not an Indian? In the photo of her with her husband, she looks like she had a dark complexion, and looked like she could have been Indian. Perhaps she was of Italian or Greek descent instead? And was she really adopted? Since she was born around 1853, and there are no adoption records for that time to really find out.

So, I’m not sure if I will ever find any answers to all the questions I have on my great great grandmother.

13. Augustus and Sarah Jane (Keiper) Hettig



Monday will be the 144th wedding anniversary of my great great grandparents, Augustus and Sarah Jane Hettig. Both have somewhat unique family stories, and are both somewhat challenging to research. So I decided to honor them in this week’s 52 Ancestors blog post.

The story handed down was that Augustus wanted to escape military service in Germany and stowed away on a ship bound to America. He met a family on board that sympathized with him, so they basically “adopted” him while on board, and young Augustus took on their last name of “Hettig.” It was also said that his real last name was “Leppard.” One of my Mom’s aunts had given me a newspaper clipping of his obituary. It said that he was born in Leipsic, Germany on May 27, 1850 and that his parents were Valentine and Sofia (Manderling) Hettig.

So was this all true? I had heard that the “stowaway” story was quite common and to not completely trust it. I began by finding Augustus in the census records, living with Valentine and Sofie in White Haven, PA as Augustus Hettig. He was listed as a son at age 20, along with his younger “brothers,” Alven, age 12; Lewis, age 10; and Otto, age 7. I had also found Valentine’s naturalization papers which led me to the date Valentine arrived in America.


I had found Valentine and Sofie easily enough in ship passenger records. They arrived June 5, 1867 in New York on the S.S. Baltic. The ship left Germany at the port of Bremen. Valentine, Sofie, Alven, Lewis and Otto are all listed, but no Augustus Hettig, who would have been 17 at the time of arrival. However, listed immediately under the Hettig family was “Schnabel, Aug, 17.” Could the story be true and could this “Aug Schnabel” possibly be my great, great grandfather? However, I could not be sure and have not figured out if I could prove or disprove it. Thus, this is where I had hit my brick wall with my great great grandfather.

At this time, in nearby Kidder Township, Carbon County Pennsylvania, my great great grandmother, Sarah Jane Keiper was growing up. And Sarah Jane also had an interesting story handed down about her. It was said that she was actually a “full-blooded Indian that was adopted by German parents as an infant.” According to Sarah’s death record and census records, her parents were Reuben and Elizabeth (Prutzman) Keiper. She was born April 16, 1853. I have never been able to find proof of Sarah’s “adoption” and it’s possible such a document does not exist, since there probably were not adoptions recorded back in the 1850s. She was never listed as being Native American in any other her records, so I am unable to prove the Native American story. So, I hit my brick wall with Sarah Jane as well.

However, you can tell she kind of looked Native American in her photo. With her obvious dark coloring, she must have looked exotic to a young man who had just arrived to this land from Germany. And he must have intrigued her with his German accent and probably wild tales of stowing away on a boat. I imagine it did not take the two long at all to fall in love. Augustus and Sarah were married on April 14, 1870 in White Haven, PA and lived with the Hettig family after their marriage. Their first child, Reuben Oliver, was born a year later on April 16, 1871.

Augustus and Sarah eventually moved to the picturesque village of Noxon, PA in nearby Wyoming County. Augustus found employment as a lumberman, most likely at the Trexler & Turrel Lumber Company. Sarah took care of the home and their 9 children. Business was good in the town of Noxon, and the Lehigh Valley Railroad built and extension through there so that the lumber could be transported to other areas throughout the state. As Hettig brood got older, Augustus’ and Sarah’s sons; Reuben, Stewart, Stephen, Charles, and Wilson; all found employment through the railroad.

In 1927, Augustus and Sarah Jane left Pennsylvania to live in upstate New York, with their youngest daughter, Jessie May Hathaway. Both were now elderly and Sarah Jane was now an invalid with heart trouble. Sarah passed away on November 12, 1931. Augustus followed 2 years later on October 28, 1933. Both are buried in the Schnevus Cemetery in Schnevus, New York.

So, happy anniversary to my great great grandparents. Someday, I hope to break through at least one of your brick walls as an anniversary gift.