Family Reunions: The Bertolet Family

Source: Morton Montgomery, p. 313


The Bertolet family of Pennsylvania was founded in Oley township, Berks county, by two brothers, Peter (Pierre) and John (Jean) Bertolet. The family in France has been for centuries one of the highest and most honorable in that country, many of the name having been distinguished personages. They are of noble rank, and the family seat was originally in Picardy. During the Reformation the Bertolets were strongly Protestant, and many, owing to Papist persecution, took refuge in other lands. Some time during the Revocation period a family of this name fled from Picardy to Chateau d'Oex, in Switzerland, and to it belonged the Peter and John who came to Pennsylvania, the former in 1719, and the latter in 1726. Both settled in Oley. The large old family Bible brought to the New World was sold in 1906 or 1907, at public vendue, to Sarah Bertolet, a maiden lady of Oley, for $183. This valuable book contains the family genealogy for several centuries. The family is traced back to 1470.

In 1720 Peter Bertolet signed the petition for the erection of Oley township. He died about 1727, as is recited in application for a patent of his land in 1734. His wife Elizabeth and several children survived him.

In 1711 Jean Bertolet married Susanna, daughter of Duke Henri De Harcourt (1653-1703), a general and marshal of France. Jean Bertolet, owing to political unrest and religious persecution, fled to Selz, in Alsace, where he was engaged in farming for fourteen years, during which time five of his children were born. Thence he came to Pennsylvania, locating in Oley, near the Exeter line. Here in 1754 he built a large stone house which is still standing and occupied by a descendant, David Bertolet. On this original farm is a private Bertolet burial-ground where many generations are buried.

Jean Bertolet was a man of great piety and benevolence. He prayed with the Indians and performed missionary work in his section among all classes of men that lived there. He was one of the first Moravians of Oley, and was on terms of close intimacy with leading men of the church, especially Count Zinzendorf, who preached in his house in 1741 and 1742. This noble man and pioneer died in 1754. He founded a numerous and honorable posterity and many of his descendants have been eminent in various walks of life, Bishop N. Bertolet Grubb and Jacob Bertolet (deceased) being notable examples.

The family of Jean Bertolet was as follows: Abraham (1712-1776) married Esther De Turk; Maria (1715-1802) married Stephen Barnett; John (1717-1789) married a daughter of Peter Pallio; Esther (1720-1796) married Dr. George De Benneville; Susanna (1722-1800) married Jacob Fry; Frederick (1727-1779) married Esther, daughter of Abraham Levan.

The Bertolet family was one of the very first to hold a reunion in the county. Its first gathering was held in 1897 on ancestral grounds in Oley, and annually since then at different popular places. The eighth reunion was held at Carsonia Park in 1905. The officers of the Bertolet Family Association are:

President, Levi A. Bertolette
Vice-Presidents, Israel M. Bertolet, Benjamin Bertolet
Recording Secretary: Samuel E. Bertolet, Esq.
Corresponding Secretary: Daniel H. Bertolet
Treasurer: Dr. Isaac B. Yeakel

Last Modified Thursday, 16-Oct-2008 20:58:16 EDT

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