Conrad Weiser’s historical contributions to Pennsylvania simply cannot be overlooked. Weiser was predominantly responsible for negotiating every major treaty between the colonial settlers in Pennsylvania and the Iroquois Nations from 1731 until 1758. In addition to serving as one of the most knowledgeable and successful liaisons between the Indian and the colonist, Weiser was chiefly responsible for both the settlement of the town of Reading and the establishment of Berks County. Finally, in 1755, Weiser organized a local militia to quell Indian uprisings during the American phase of the Seven Years War, and was appointed Colonel of the First Battalion of the Pennsylvania Regiment a year later. Exempting some Berks County locals and various individuals with genealogical ties to this man, few are conscious about the relevance, let alone the existence, of Conrad Weiser.

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Conrad Weiser was born in Astaat Germany in 1696. His family migrated to America in 1710, settling in New York State. It was in this vicinity where Conrad initially gained contact with the Iroquois Nations. At the age of fifteen he voluntarily decided to live amidst the Mohawk tribe of the Iroquois. Conrad attained significant knowledge of the not only the language but also the customs and traditions of the Mohawk tribe, which proved invaluable later in his career. For example, Weiser was one of the few Indian/Colonial interpreters who comprehended the overwhelming significance of the use of Wampum in conducting matters of diplomacy with the Iroquois.

Weiser moved to the Tulpehocken area in Pennsylvania in 1729, erecting a house upon a farmstead that would eventually contain 890 acres of land. Weiser’s knowledge of the Iroquois was immediately employed, as an Oneida Iroquois, Shikellamy, enlisted Weiser’s abilities as a diplomat to negotiate a series of land ownership treaties between the Pennsylvania colonists and the Indians. Weiser was able to maintain fairly stable relations between the Pennsylvania government and the Iroquois Nation during the 1730’s and 1740’s.

Weiser’s success in mediating Indian/Colonial politics established a tremendous ethos of credibility in the eyes of the Pennsylvania Government. Weiser was appointed Lancaster County Magistrate in 1741, thrusting him into his first “official” role in colonial government. He continued to negotiate territorial matters with the Indians in this position. Then in 1748, Weiser was named one of the commissioners of the town of Reading, in which he bought a plot of land and built a second house.
Weiser made several journeys to New York and Central Pennsylvania to attend to matters of Iroquois diplomacy. However, by 1752, Weiser had grown rather exhausted in negotiating with the Indians, and decided to attend to local affairs. Weiser desired to establish a separate county from Lancaster in which the town of Reading would be located. His wish was granted, as the county of Berks was created in 1752. Additionally, Weiser was appointed the county’s first justice of the peace.

The American segment of the Seven Years War erupted in 1754. An incident in 1755 known as the “Penn’s Creek Massacre” left several colonials dead and many others missing in the wake of Indian attacks in northern Pennsylvania. In response to this uprising, Weiser was placed in charge of a local militia in the Tulpehocken region. Then in 1756, Weiser was appointed Colonial of the First Pennsylvania Regiment. Until 1758, he spent most of his time riding between Forts Northkill, Lebanon, and Henry in Berks County as well as other forts under his charge.
Weiser conducted his final substantial contribution to Indian/Colonial diplomacy in 1758, negotiating the Treaty of Easton, which concluded the vast majority of Indian insurrection in the eastern third of Pennsylvania. He retired to his house in Reading after completion of this treaty and expired in 1760. Conrad Weiser’s body currently resides in a family burial plot to the west of what was believed to have been his house in the Tulpehocken area.

Conrad Weiser Homestead
28 Weiser Lane
Womelsdorf, PA 19567

The site is administered by the PHMC and aided by the Friends of the Conrad Weiser Homestead.

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