Frace (Fraes) Log Cabin - ca. 1766
Michael Fraes (Frace), born in 1744, of a family from the German Valley of the Upper Raritan River area of Lebanon Township, Hunterdon County, N. J. married Gertrud (Gertrude) Dererburger, born in 1750, in Rocksbury Township, Morris County, N.J. and lived in Lebanon Township. Their first son Henry was born there in 1765.
Michael Frace, age 22, crossed the Delaware River on Nathaniel Vernon's ferry to "The Point" at Easton in spring of 1766 intending to purchase land in Pennsylvania from the Proprietary's [sons of William Penn]. An Agent stated that Forks Township was open for settlement and tracts were available.
Easton was laid out as a town under the direction of William Penn in 1750, Northampton County was parceled off from Bucks in 1752 and Forks Township, one of the original townships of Northampton County, was chartered in 1754. The Proprietary's then began selling off tracts of land.
Michael traveled northward through Easton and what is now the College Hill area into Forks following Indian or Traders trails. The view north from the ridge in Forks to Blue Mountain was of rolling woodland [Penn's Forest or "Sylvania"]. Following the trail north a short distance then east to view some tracts, he made claim to Penn Patent Tract #185 having a spring fed stream flowing through the tract. [The original location is a short distance off Frost Hollow Road]. He then returned to his family in New Jersey telling them of his purchase agreement.
Returning to the Forks tract with his wife, son, family members and friends, bringing broad-axes, they began clearing the land. The activity attracted neighboring settlers who helped felling trees for their cabin. With numerous wildlife, nuts and berries, they lived off the land, sleeping in shelters of hemlock cuttings and deer skins. Women gathered and prepared the food, some men collected stones and mud for building a fireplace and chimney; others mortised the logs and put them in place to complete the cabin walls. Finally, with the roof timbers and hand split shingles in place, the cabin shell was completed. The stump of a large tree in the middle of the dirt floor served as a table. A low platform along a wall covered with hemlock boughs served as a bed. (During that era, a hard day's work made a soft bed). Heating was from a large log or pine knot ablaze in the open fireplace.
Soon, a horse was purchased from a neighbor and in Easton, Michael bought a wagon. Land clearing continued by removing stumps, roots and briars, then grain and vegetables were planted to supplement their food sources. Eventually excess grain was sold or bartered, then boards were obtained from an area sawmill to build a second floor in the cabin for sleeping quarters. Over the following couple of years, a barn was built to shelter livestock and foul as acquired.
By 1774, Michael and his wife had prospered enough to begin construction of a stone house nearby, as evidenced by the date on the cellar wall. The family eventually moved into the stone house and the cabin was downgraded to other uses. The dwelling remains today as a private residence and the sturdy log cabin, moved from its original location, now rests in the Forks Township Park along the Zucksville road entrance.
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