I HAVE HAD SO MANY REQUEST FOR A COPY OF THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE I DECIDED TO PUT IT ON-LINE
One day in 1781 a Forks township farmer and his wife rose early to
do their many chores about the family farm. This in itself was not
unusual. Unfortunately, before the day was over the wife was dead and
the husband was accused of murder.
The murder of Anna (Hausman)Werkheiser by her husband Charles
would result in the execution of the latter. Charles or Carl
Werkheiser, progenitor of the large Werkheiser family of Northampton
County, was born in Germany in 1733. He imigrated to America aboard the
ship Phoenix from Rotterdam. Charles arrived in Philadelphia on Oct. 1,
About 1757 he married a woman named Anna whose last name was believed
to be Hausmann. At first the couple settled in Bethlehem township, Pa.
and attended Dryland Church at Hecktown.
Eventually the Werkheisers moved to Forks Township, where they acquired
a 272 acre farm along Kesslersville Road immediately south of its
intersection with Uhler Road.
The couple raised a family of eight sons and two daughters;
John Martin, John, George Adam, John Peter, John Nicholas, Valentine,
Wilhelm Henry, Carl Henry Jr., Catherine and Elizabeth. The pair
approached their twilight years with the satisfaction of seeing a large
family and many heirs.
What happened at this point is something that has not survived in
written record. Rather the event has been passed down by the Werkheiser
family by word of mouth for more than 200 years.
It appears one day in 1781 Charles and Anna rose early and went to the
barn to begin the daily chores. An argument erupted between them and in
a fit of rage Charles picked up a heavy horse collar and beat his wife
Charles was taken into custody, charged with the murder, found guilty,
sentenced to death. The execution was ordered to be carried out my
hanging between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, June 29, 1782 in Easton,
The minutes of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania published
in the Colonial records of Pennsylvania, shed little light on the
affair. The day before the execution, Charles Werkheiser petitioned the
council for a stay of execution. The stay was dismissed and the hanging
occurred the following day. It is not known whether he was hanged in
the circle at Easton near the court house, or on Gallows Hill.
In August of the same year it was ordered that the portion of the
condemmed man's property that was forfeited to the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania be returned and divided equally among his children.
Eventually Charles' son John acquired the 272 acre farm from Christian
Little else is known about the episode and even Charles Werkheiser's
resting place is uncertain. No record of his burial at nearby Forks
Church exists. There is a tradition that the unfortunate man was buried
on his farm and that his grave was a few feet south of the Old Uhler's
Hotel(now the Victaulic guest house) on Uhler Road. If this is so, all
traces of the grave have now been obliterated.
This article was written by Mr. James Wright. To the best of
my knowledge it was printed in a Easton, Pennsylvania newspaper, the
date it was printed is not known. More information should be available
from the Easton Library, Easton, Pa.