16 May 1778: Oath of Allegiance Signed by Caspar Bierbaur

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Caspar Bierbure- Oath of Allegiance, 16 May 1778. From"House of Bierbauer- Two Hundred Years of Family History" by JC Culver and CW Beerbower, 1942, page 47.
Caspar Bierbaur- Oath of Allegiance Record, 16 May 1778. From “House of Bierbauer- Two Hundred Years of Family History” by JC Culver and CW Beerbower, 1942, page 47.

Beerbower Family (Click for Family Tree)

Two hundred and thirty seven years plus one month ago today, in York County, Pennsylvania, Caspar J. Bierbaur (Bierbauer/Beerbower) stepped in front of an official and pledged his Oath of Allegiance to the new state. The General Assembly of Pennsylvania had passed an Act on 13 June 1777, requiring citizens to give the Oath, and the above record of that oath included Caspar’s name and residence.

Oath of Allegiance Transcription:

York County in Pennsylvania, ss.

I DO hereby certify, that Casper Bierbaur
hath voluntarily taken and subscribed the oath
of Allegiance and Fidelity, as directed
by an ACT of GENERAL ASSEMBLY
of Pennsylvania, passed the 13th Day of June, A. D.
1777, Witness my Hand and Seal, the Sixteenth
Day of May A. D. 1778

N127 Danial Messerly [“L.S. in circle”]

These are the words that Caspar would have said on 16 May 1778:

1777 Pennsylvania Oath of Allegiance given by Caspar Bierbure on 16 May 1778.
1777 Pennsylvania Oath of Allegiance given by Caspar J. Bierbaur on 16 May 1778.

It was important for each of the states during the revolution to make sure that none of their citizens still gave their allegiance to Great Britain. Since Caspar was born in Germany, it might be thought that he was a Hessian soldier, or had been one, so it was especially important for Caspar to remind his neighbors about his political allegiance. He likely had been in America for many years with his family, but it has been challenging to find that documentation. (The year 1752 is what many researchers agree upon as his immigration date.)

Just before Caspar uttered his Oath of Allegiance, on 05 Feb 1778, the Articles of Confederation were ratified by South Carolina, the first state to do so. One day later, on 06 Feb, Britain declared war on its age-old enemy, France, and France signed the Treaty of Alliance in Paris, the first foreign power to recognize the United States as a sovereign state. George Washington and his troops were struggling through a horribly cold winter at Valley Forge, and Baron von Steuben, a Prussian, arrived to train and drill the Continental soldiers in tactics and military discipline. His training of our troops was invaluable in helping to win the war.

Additionally, York, Pennsylvania, became the headquarters of the Continental Congress after the British invaded Philadelphia in September of 1777. Philadelphia was occupied for ten months, and the Continental Congress stayed in York until July, 1778. Our ancestor, Caspar J. Beerbower was there, while history was being made. I wonder if he knew our country’s founders, socialized with them, called them, ‘friend’? Or possibly he only saw them as he moved about the town.

An interesting note: Benedict Arnold signed his Oath of Allegiance just 2 weeks after Caspar, but at Valley Forge. Within a year Arnold was plotting to change his allegiance to the British. Caspar, however, would enlist one year later in the Continental Army, at age 45, proving his allegiance to his new country.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) House of Bierbauer.  Two Hundred Years of Family History, 1742-1942 compiled by James Culver Bierbower and Charles William Beerbower. Published under the direction of Beerbower History Committee, 1942.

2) Information concerning the material on the microfilm, “Oaths of allegiance, 1777-1790,” from original records of the revolutionary government, 1775-1790 in the Pennsylvania State Archives- https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/685500?availability=Family%20History%20Library

3) Oath from page 1 of Names of Persons Who Took the Oath of Allegiance to the State of Pennsylvania Between the Years 1777 and 1789, with a History of the “Test Laws” of Pennsylvania by Thompson Westcott, Philadelphia: John Campbell, 1865. Accessed 6/4/15 at https://ia902205.us.archive.org/11/items/namesofpersonswh00west/namesofpersonswh00west.pdf

This Oath was given in 1778, however this book begins the list of names on 11 Dec 1778, so Caspar Bierbauer is not listed in it.

4) Transcription by the author. Note that a double f- “ff” – stands for a double s in colonial writing, both handwritten and printed. In some documents the ‘s’ may also be written with an ‘f’ after to signify a double ‘s’- ‘sf.’

 

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