99-cent Eggs: Part III

Part I

Part II

My name is, was, and will be Hertzog.

When I started researching my family name I had very little to work with, and almost no knowledge of where I came from before the mid-20th century. It never concerned me, nor delighted me. I was German and we lost track a while back due to circumstances. That’s how it was.

Its now a few weeks later and I am no longer German. I am Swiss. I am Pennsylvania Dutch. The ancients were borne of an exodus, and so shall I honor them with my Pennsylvania Dutch identity — the term that gave our ancestors a cohesive nation to call their own, a people escaped. And I come from a family of radicals and exiles, expelled and persecuted, who found peace and opportunity amongst the rolling hills of a Commonwealth that, in demeanor and landscape, must have seemed very similar to the storied free republic the ancients of the Hertzog clan spoke of — before the Prague Defenstration, before the Radical Reformation, before the chaos of the 30 Years War and forced conscription, and the depression and climate change that followed. From 1515 until Johann Nicholas Hertzog’s birth in 1635, unending famine, plague, political upheavel, revolution, counter-revolution, and warfare were thrust upon a place between two rivers that contained the Hertzog name, where a people who considered themselves “Schweitz” lived and prospored, ever since the barbarian proto-Germanic Alamanni tribe displaced the Celts in the 4th century, in the twilight shadow of the Romans. Once the area had been the location of a constituational free republic. Once private property was protected and free trade blossomed in the valleys surrounding Bern, Switzerland. But all that came went. Without consent, it all faded from history, to myth, to dream, and back again.

From this fall there came a directed wandering to the Alsace region of France, most likely out of the Catholic French monarch’s desire to repopulate agricultural regions, or out of a desire to tax the hell out of some very desperate people with strange, new beliefs about God, and man, and state. Or maybe it was the result of subterfuge within the collapsing Holy Roman Empire. Whatever the circumstance, the Hertzog clan, and a rising and falling tidal wave of other expelled families, only called Alsace home for two generations before embarking upon 250 years of redemption and peace in Penn’s Woods. With it would come the livestock trade, indulgence in industrial capitalism, experimentation in business, the union labor movement, and participation in the construction of yet another frontier where freedom would be sought, the internet.

From dust and myth came the story of the Hertzog clan. And with the bulldozing of a small corner of a valley, whose name is dedicated to people no one anymore knows, it returns to dust and myth. If I thought sneaking onto private property at 4am with a metal detector would help me cleave rock and dirt from rock and dirt, I would crawl on my stomach in moonlight and look for Johann, the whiskey distiller’s name, etched on a stone. But it is too late for that. It is lost to the ages. That’s how it is. That’s how it shall be.

All dead flowers help new flowers grow.

Also, so does a whole load manure.

And so it goes.

Breathe in, my dear reader. The page has flipped. All that was old is now new.

And, yes, Happy Easter.


Johann Nicholas Hertzog (73 yrs)
b. 1635 in Minsinger, Bern, Switzerland,
d. 1708 in Domfessel, Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France
Hans Theobold Hertzog (59 yrs)
b. 1677 in Domfessel, Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France,
d. 1736 in Domfessel, Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France
Johann Nicholas Hertzog (80 yrs)
b. 1718 in Domfessel, Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France,
d. 1798 in Whitehall, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, United States
Johann Nicholas Hertzog (68 yrs)
b. 1743 in Keskastel, Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France,
d. 1811 in Cocalico Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Johann Nicholas Hertzog (69 yrs)
b. 1771 in Cocalico Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania,
d. 1840 in West Cocalico Township, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Peter Hertzog (65 yrs)
b. 1814 in Cocalico Township, Lancaster, Pennsylvania,
d. 1879 in Cocalico Township, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Peter Krick Hertzog (67 yrs)
b. 1854 in Berks Co, Pennsylvania,
d. 1921 in Lancaster Co, Pennsylvania
Howard Wilson Hertzog (49 yrs)
b. 1881 in Cocalico Township, Lancaster, Pennsylvania,
d. 1930 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Edward Paul Hertzog (36 yrs)
b. 1911 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
d. 1948 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Edward Joseph Hertzog (68 years)
b. 1945 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
d. 2013 in Abington, Pennsylvania
Edward Paul Hertzog
b. 1975 in Abington, Pennsylvania
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One Response to 99-cent Eggs: Part III

  1. Lyn Hertzog says:

    Enjoyed your story. I’m from another branch of the Hertzog tree dating from 1738 – Philip Hertzog, Zweibruken. He built the first church in Old Zionsville outside of Emmaus, PA.

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