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Ludwig, the Chest, and the Indian:
Two Family Legends


The following story appeared in the 1883 History of the Counties of Dauphin and Lebanon in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, by William Henry Egle (see Sources and Bibliography Page).

At a Court of Quarter Sessions, held in Dauphin County in the month of August, 1787, an order was issued to the commissioners to take into consideration the necessity and propriety of dividing Upper Paxtang Township, who reported a dividing line, "commencing at the River Susquehanna, at the mouth of a run emptying into said river, and running from Jacob Strickler's spring, and thence along the different courses of the said run to the place where the said spring extracts out of the earth, and from thence along the said ridge to the dividing ridge; thence along the said ridge to the extremity thereof, the line of Berks County."

The court directed the township to be divided, agreeably to this report, from the said line to the upper boundary of Lower Paxtang, to be called Middle Paxtang. As thus constituted the township included the section of the county between the First and Peter's Mountains, embracing Fishing Creek, Stony Creek, and Clark's Valleys. As may be surmised, the face of the country is much broken, and save along the principal streams as they near the Susquehanna and the valleys expand, the land is poor and unproductive. Nevertheless, there are some fine farms on Clark's Creek and along the Susquehanna.

The history of the township is so intimately connected with that of the general record of the county, and to which reference is made for a history of Fort Hunter, at the mouth of Fishing Creek, and other details relating to the French and Indian war. The following incident, however, is of such a local character that we've given place thereto.

Ludwig Minsker, an emigrant from the Palintinate, located in Clark's Valley in 1750. He built his cabin on a run near the place where the house of John Hocker, Jr., now stands. He was a man of great courage, and the Indians of the neighborhood feared him, never molesting him or his family.

It was subsequent to Braddock's defeat that hostile Indians crossed over the mountains and spread death and desolation on the frontiers. While out hunting during the spring of 1756, Ludwig observed the trail of the marauding savages. Knowing that if they discovered his cabin, his wife and child in his absence would be killed, he hastened home and quickly devised means for their protection. It was too late to go below the mountains, for he would be overtaken. Having in his house a chest six feet long, he bored a sufficient number of holes in it to admit air; then taking it upon his shoulder, waded up the run some distance, placing it in a sequestered nook. Returning to his cabin, he took his wife and child (the latter but six months old) in the same way to the chest to conceal his trail, where the dense foliage covered their hiding-place. It was ten days before the hostiles had left the valley, and during all that time Mrs. Minsker and her child were safely secured in the huge chest, her husband in the meantime keeping guard in the neighborhood of their cabin, hunting and carrying provisions to the refugees.

One autumn, while Ludwig was carrying towards his cabin half of a good-sized hog he had butchered, an Indian stealthily came up behind him, quickly severed the lower part, exclaimed, "Hog meat very good meat, Indian like him," and scampered off to the woods.

The child who was concealed with his mother in the chest became Ludwig the second. He married a daughter of Thomas Cairn, and built his cabin at a spring on the Third Mountain, on property now belonging to Harry Zeiders, who is a descendant of the first Ludwig. It is only a few years since that the cabin was torn down.

Prior to the Revolution a friendly Indian had his cabin on the north side of Peter's mountain, near the spring which supplies the water-trough on the pike. Here he lived for years unmolested. One evening in the fall of the year Mrs. Minsker, while standing in the door-way, heard a loud moan, resembling that of someone in extreme agony. She told her husband, who replied that it was the cry of a panther. Still listening, she found by the direction of the sound that the person was going up the mountain, but Ludwig to quiet her said she must be mistaken, it was only the cry of the panther. The ensuing summer the cows remained out beyond the usual time, and the children werre sent in search of them. Going up the mountain they came to what was then called still known as the "King's Stool," when they found a skeleton lying under it. Informing their father of the fact, Ludwig examined the remains, and found by the hunting-shirt, which was intact, that it was the Indian referred to. It appeared that some ill-disposed whites had gone to the cabin of the Indian and wantonly shot him, but did not kill him. With his little strength remaining the poor Indian crawled up and then down the side of the Fourth Mountain, across Clark's Valley; thence up the Third Mountain to the "King's Stool," where he died from exhaustion. The rock alluded to is a huge bowlder [sic] heaved on the top of another, and as high as the tallest trees.

Allegedly, the noted American Author, Conrad Richter, a neighbor of John Minsker, Sr., in Clark's Valley, included the tale of Ludwig and the chest in one of his stories.

See also Richter's Valley from the Past, for a passing mention of this legend in his description of his life in Clark's Valley in the 1920s.