John Martin Eichelberger was born on November 16, 1716 in Ittlingen, Heilbronn, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany. He was the oldest of five children to parents Phillip Frederick Eichelberger and Anna Barbara Doemers. He went by his middle name Martin throughout his life.
On June 22, 1728 the family boarded the ship named Albany in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Martin was twelve years old at the time. They landed in Philadelphia on September 4, 1728. The family settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania among many other German families. The family lived on a farm near Pidgeon Hills.
In July of 1738, Martin married Anna Maria Schwab in York, Pennsylvania. Over the next twenty years, they had twelve children: (All born in York, Pennsylvania)
- George Eichelberger (b. 1739 – d. 1780)
- Philip Frederick Eichelberger (b. 1741 – d. 1824)
Jacob Eichelberger (b. 1743 – d. 1832)
- Frederick Christian Eichelberger (b. 1744 – d. 1824)
- John Barnitz Eichelberger (b. 1748 – d. 1781)
- Benjamin Eichelberger (b. 1750)
- Anna Marie Eichelberger (b. 1752)
- Lydia Eichelberger (b. 1752 – d. 1754)
- Anna Catherine Eichelberger (b. 1756 – d. 1806)
- Susannah Eichelberger (b. 1756 – d. 1806)
- John Martin Eichelberger (b. 1759 – d. 1840)
The family was living in York when it was platted out in 1741 and he purchased lot number 120 from Samuel Spangler who had run it as the Black Horse Tavern and Inn. Martin, a former innkeeper himself, bought it and opened up the Golden Plow Tavern which serviced farmers and travelers to the area. Martin’s oldest son George often helped to run the business.
Martin was one of the founding members of the first Lutheran Church in York. He was also a Court Justice commissioned by King George II from 1757 to 1758 and again in 1760 by King George III. In 1760, Martin retired from the family business and his son George took it over for him. The Convention for the first Constitution of Pennsylvania later commissioned him as a Justice of the Peace of York from 1771 to 1772 and then again from 1774 to 1775. He also held the office of County Commissioner several times.
The Historical Sketch of Phillip Frederick Eichelberger had the following to say of Martin:
“Martin Eichelberger was a strong man. Those were times when he must needs be brave, valiant and strong. He was industrious and economical, but when his countrymen were suffering, from that need from which the invaded country always suffers most, he was one of the most generous. There is not a local history which does not speak of the generosity of Martin Eichelberger and his sons. He was a prominent and influential citizen of the town of York ; he and his son George were among the originators of the Hand to Hand Fire Co. there in 1772. We find his name given in a list of Associate Judges (not learned in law) as early as 1750. It is also appended, as one of eighteen most prominent citizens, to an appeal made to the Committee of Safety in Philadelphia, of which committee Benjamin Franklin was President, as to forming new Battalions, choosing officers for the same. At the age of sixty-five, in 1781, Martin Eichelberger died, leaving his widow and all his children except his son George, surviving him. For many years Martin kept a hotel, in those days called a “tavern,” in York, but in 1760 he retired from active business and his son George took it in charge.”
On April 28, 1781, Martin died and is buried somewhere in York, Pennsylvania though the location of his burial grounds remains unknown.
“The Historical Sketch of Phillip Frederick Eichelberger” (1900), pgs 20-21. – Martin Eichelberger
“The History of York County, Pennsylvania” (1886), pg 560-564 – Hand in Hand Fire Company of York, PA
U.S. and International Marriage Records Database, 1560-1900 – Martin Eichelberger
U.S. Sons of the Revolution Membership Database, 1889-1970 – Martin Eichelberger
York County, Pennsylvania Wills, 1749-1819
Baltzer/Spangler Homestead Page
Extracts from the Church Records of the Evangelical Congregation at Ittlingen – Births and Baptismal records – John Martin Eichelberger