Samuel was the first born of five children of Leonard Peters and Susan Enders of Dauphin County. Both families are of German ancestry. Samuel was followed by brother John, and a sisters Margaret and Barbara.

Samuel’s father, Leonard, was born and lived in Dauphin County in 1787, where he met and married Susan. As with most of the early settlers of Dauphin, Leonard likely migrated there for work or to acquire land, which was being allotted by application.

As soon as Samuel was old enough—eight or so—he most likely worked for his father on the family’s subsistence farm. When he was thirteen in 1834, a “black” frost hit the area at the end of May. It was so cold that whole orchards of apples, pears, and cherries were killed. Bears looking for food came down from the mountains to feed on green corn and scores were killed by farmers. Birds survived and thrived, as caterpillars were prodigious.

Samuel went out on his own when he married Mary Ann Swartz, who had been born in nearby Union (now Snyder) County in 1821 to Henry and Susan Elizabeth Thornton. At her birth Union County was merely nine years old and had fewer than 9,000 inhabitants. Snyder County wouldn’t be names for another thirty-five years. Henry Swartz, born in 1797, and wife Elizabeth in 1794, were natives Mahantango, across the Susquehanna near Samuel’s location. Research shows her families were of German and English heritage.

Samuel and Mary Ann were married about 1839, when both were in their late teens. They may have been married at the Lutheran and Reformed Church in Dauphin County. In the 1840 census, Samuel was living with his mother and new wife Mary Ann, as her parents had left the area for Ohio. By 1850, they were counted together in the census in Union County with three children; the oldest, John, was six. They had six more children: Emma, Jonathan, Matthew, Matilda, and twins Jane and Mary Louisa, who were born in 1858.

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