On a hot summer day, near the steaming banks of the Susquehanna River, Michael Gutman Sr. and his wife, Catherine Brown, welcomed a son. The Goodman and the Brown families, originally Gutman and Braun, were of Germanic backgrounds. Son Michael Goodman, born on June 10, 1806, in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, was the youngest of four, having elder brothers, Benjamin and Daniel, and a sister. This was five years before Schuylkill County was even a County and six before America would enter the War of 1812.

At the age of four, after the passing of his mother during childbirth and his father at age 31, Michael was taken to live with his grandfather Peter Braun in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Michael stayed with his grandfather Peter on the Dauphin/Schuylkill county line until he was eighteen, when he moved to a farm south of Clarks Valley Road in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, where he would live out his days. In the next year or so, he was confirmed in the Lutheran congregation at the old log church-school in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.

At the age of twenty-four, Michael married Mary Barbara Ramp, who was born about 1805. The couple would bear six children between 1835 and 1846. William, the eldest, would take over the farm and care for his father in his old age. William was followed by two sisters, Susan and Magdalena,  a brother, John. Two more girls, Sarah, known as Sallie; and Catherine, were the last children from this union.

In the 1830s and 1840s, Pennsylvania was the young republic’s bread basket. With a climate like much of Europe, settlers were able to bring the bulk of their farming knowledge to use in this region, growing fruits and grains from Europe, as well as adopting native plants and techniques. Pennsylvania farmers produced grains, meats, and dairy products, as well as manufactured products such as leather and flaxseed oil. In 1840, more than 77 percent of the 4.8 million employed persons in Pennsylvania were occupied in agriculture…… (see ‘The Chronnies’ for entire narrative)

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