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Subject: Regina Leininger, the "true"story
Date: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 09:51:59 EST


The following is from the newspaper column "Scholla," by Arthur D. Graeff,
published Nov. 3rd and 6th, 1967 in the Reading Eagle.
===========================================================

Sometimes the veteran historian is led to despair. This is especially true
when his painstaking research converts legend into fact, but the legend
persists...

In early youth, I became suspicious of the Regina Hartman story which I heard
from every rostrum, pulpit, and street corner. Everybody in western Berks
seemed to have this "nugget of history" in his or her back pocket.

In my home there was a battered old book, "Regina, the German Captive" written
in 1860 by Rev. R. Weiser, President of the Central College of Iowa, Fort Des
Moines.

The clergyman told the story of the Indian captive as he remembered it some 40
years after an elderly relative in Womelsdorf had told it to him. It was a
story full of ... Indian raids and Indian customs, climaxing in the pathos of
the reunion of Regina, the captive, and her mother, at Carlisle, in 1763,
after nine years of captivity...

In 1922 and 1923, I worked closely with the late Dr. P.C. Croll, pioneer
historian of the Lebanon Valley area.

He doubted the truth of the "Hartman" part of the story and led me to the late
Col. H.M.M. Richards, of Lebanon. Col. Richards had found a diary, in
Lancaster, written by one Barbara Leininger.

The diary dealt with Barbara's capture and escape from the Indians during the
French and Indian War. She had a sister, Regina, who failed to escape, and the
names of the Indians mentioned and of the places of captivity were the same as
those recorded by the Reverend Weiser for Barbara and Regina (Leininger)
Hartman.

This Barbara Leininger married David Breckenridge, one of her rescuers, and
the couple lived a normal life in the city of Lancaster.

Regina, reared as an Indian, never married, and was buried at a mature age at
Christ (Long's) Church, west of Stouchsburg. These facts were recorded in the
reports of the Reverend Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, and his appointed pastor,
Rev. Nicholas Kurtz at Christ Church. But Muhlenberg never gave the surname of
the girl in his reports - neither Hartman nor Leininger....

....in 1958, I was [still] not certain the two sisters, Regina and Barbara,
were named Leininger. We had many Hartmans listed on the early ship lists but
found no immigrant named Leininger, who settled in the distant areas of Snyder
County as early as 1756.

Among those at the dedication of the headstone [for Regina Leininger, built by
the Berks Co. Cemetery Assoc.] in Long's Cemetery, Oct. 11, 1958, was Charles
Fisher Snyder, secretary of the Northumberland Co. Historical Society... After
the dedication, Snyder supplied me with data he found in his studies of
European records which relate to the early settlers of Northumberland and
Snyder Counties.

There he found the immigrant father of the girls, Sebastian Leininger,
operator of a grist mill along Penn's Creek. At the time of the record,
Sebastian had two daughters, Barbara and Regina. We know now that a son was
born after the notation that Snyder discovered.

These findings were published in local historical journals from 1959 through
1961. There can be little excuse for a history writer of today to fall into
the error of names and places which are so closely tied to our local heritage.
===========================================================
These articles were reprinted in "Echoes of Scholla," 1976. The book includes
a photo of the Leininger memorial, erected in 1958. The hymn which her mother
sang to identify her in 1763 is given on the stone as "Allen, und Doch Nicht
ganz Allein"

Joe Drumheller
Reading, Pa.

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