When we lived in St. Louis, MO, we attended, almost every year, a Fourth of July picnic conducted by the Todd Akin family. Todd is currently a United States Representative from Missouri’s 2nd district and has announced that next year he will run for United States Senator from Missouri. He and his lovely wife Lulie have homeschooled their children. As part of the various reenactments done that relate to our nation’s War for Independence at the picnic each year, a gentleman would dress up as Peter Muhlenberg, a minister who joined the Continental Army as a Colonel and eventually became a General. This actor would then give a portion of Muhlenberg’s famous farewell speech to his congregation. Thus, the name Muhlenberg was very familiar to us, and I learned the he was from Trappe, PA, not far from Valley Forge. I think that it was on Sunday, while going home from morning church services, our friends with whom we stayed while visiting Valley Forge took us past the homes of Peter’s father and brother.
Peter’s father, Henry Melchior Muhlenberg (1711–1787), was a Lutheran minister who was born at Einbeck in the German state of Hanover, to Nicolaus Melchior Mühlenberg and Anna Maria Kleinschmid and sent to North America as a missionary requested by Pennsylvania colonists.. Soon after arriving in Pennsylvania, in 1745 Henry married Anna Maria Weiser, the daughter of colonial leader Conrad Weiser. The couple had eleven children and founded the Muhlenberg Family dynasty, where generations were active in the US military, politics, academia and ministry. The Henry Muhlenberg House, at 201 W. Main Street in Trappe PA 19426 ( www.trappehistoricalsociety.org/muhlenberg.html ) was purchased by the Historical Society of Trappe, Collegeville, Perkiomen Valley, Inc. of Trappe in 1989 and has been restored to the period of 1776 when Henry Melchior Muhlenberg resided there. The exterior renovation was completed in 1995. In 2000, the house was included in the National Register of Historic Places.
Peter’s brother, Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg (1750-) was the second son of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg. Like Peter, he was sent to be was educated in Halle, Germany. and upon his return became a Lutheran minister, serving congregations in Pennsylvania and New York before entering politics as a member of the Continental Congress. After the Revolutionary War, he was a four-time member of the U.S. House, serving as the first and third Speaker of the House in the U. S. Congress and signing the Bill of Rights to the U. S. Constitution. The Frederick Muhlenberg House, 151 W. Main Street, Collegeville, PA 19426 ( www.millbrooksociety.org/muhlenberg.htm , www.speakershouse.org/ ) is owned by the Millbrook Society which, in May, 2006, performed a Level I Survey of the Speaker’s House property with the objectives of acquiring a Pennsylvania Archaeological Site Number. The house is in the process of being restored as a historical site to its condition and appearance when purchased by Frederick Muhlenberg in 1781.