Biographical Sketch

Henry William Schweigert (1847 - 1923) was the son of John Schweigert and Anna Maria Bressler, and grew up on the family farm in Friedensburg, Pennsylvania. Henry attended Palatinate College in Myerstown, PA, as did his brothers, Daniel and Franklin. As a Pennsylvania German student, he worked to improve his English, although he valued his heritage by joining a German Society in college. Schweigert was passionate about his education and was also a member of the Excelsior Literary Society and also taught reading classes while a student.

Henry Schweigert
Henry W. Schweigert in
his later years, 1918
click to enlarge

While on break from school, Schweigert returned home to the farm to help his family. Although he spent long hours working in the fields, Schweigert took time to socialize as a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Junior Order of United American Machinists. Weekends were spent visiting with friends and family, as well as going to Sunday School and Church in both Friedensburg and Meyerstown, depending on his location.

After college, Schweigert became a teacher himself, serving the rural school children of Lebanon County. He married the former Emma Miller and they had four children: Milton, Charles, Annie, and Mary. Henry spent the last years of his life living with his son, Milton, in Philadelphia. There he worked as a gardener for the city, putting to use his green thumb and agricultural roots.

Henry's death notice only mentions that he suffered from a combination of diseases, and finally succumbed to them in the fall of 1923 at the age of 76. One of the diseases he may have encountered during his lifetime was tuberculosis, or consumption, based on his visit to the "cupper" in 1869.

His diaries highlight not only the daily weather and his activites, but sometimes his health. On his 22nd birthday, Henry wrote that he weighed himself at Bauman's Store and weighed 168 ½ lbs. These daily entries help to paint a portrait of what life was like for rural farmers, students, and teachers during the latter half of the nineteenth century in Southeastern Pennsylvania, providing a useful resource for those interested in social history.

Read the Schweigert Diaries