In a sense, Peter Batdorf and his wife, Elizabeth Welker, were war babies. She was born on November 23 in 1812, four months after America declared war on Great Britain beginning the War of 1812. He was born January 20, 1814, eleven months before the treaty was signed ending the war. The war must have seemed distant to their families—the only Pennsylvania battle was at Lake Erie. News of the battle probably took a month to reach Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.
Peter and Elizabeth were born in Lykens Township, Dauphin County, at a time when America was less than forty years old. Both were namesakes, he named for his father and grandfather, both named Peter, and she for her mother, Maria Elizabeth Messerschmidt. Lykens is named for Andrew Lycans, as it was commonly spelled at the time. He settled on a tract of about two hundred acres on the Whiconescong Creek in 1755, near what is now Loyalton Borough. He cleared land and built houses for his family and a small group of subsequent settlers. Lycans lived in relative peace for no more than a year.
In 1756, during the French and Indian War, Lycans was driven from his home and eventually died while retreating from Indians. The Indians were allied with the French against the British and the colonists. The hostilities with the Indians ended in 1764, after which Lycan’s widow returned to the old home.
By the 1810’s, the decade Peter was born, the Indians had been driven to the west. Peter was the first of nine children of Peter Daniel Batdorf and Maria Catherine Stoner. Sarah, John, Catherine, Thomas, Jonathan, Daniel, Jacob, and Elizabeth were Peter’s young siblings. The elder Peter and his wife Catherine were born about 1791, both of Germanic descent. Senior Peter was born in Heidelberg now in Lebanon County and wife Elizabeth was born in adjacent Berks County. The couple settled in Lykens, merely fifty miles from where they hailed. The younger Peter would mourn the death of both of his parents as a teen.
Elizabeth Welker was the fourth child of John Welker and Maria Elizabeth Messerschmidt, both natives of Dauphin County. John was born in 1783 of German-Swiss descent, and Maria Elizabeth arrived in 1780 from a heritage of Germany. John’s father, Valentine, and Maria’s grandfather Andrew Messerschmidt were honorable American Revolutionary soldiers. Elizabeth followed siblings George, Rachel, and a daughter whose name is not known. Her younger siblings were William, David, Anna, Sarah, and Joseph.
Peter was nineteen and Elizabeth was twenty-one when they were married in 1831, most likely in St. Peter’s Reformed Church in nearby Loyalton. Also known as the Hoffman Church, it was erected about 1771 by Anthony Hautzon on land donated by the Hoffman family, early settlers in Lykens Township. Peter was baptized there and both he and Elizabeth were buried there. They both died in Dauphin County—she in 1868, he in 1880…
… (see ‘The Bios’ for entire narrative)
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