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THE 97TH ANNUAL HOCH--HIGH REUNION

THE 97TH ANNUAL HOCH-HIGH REUNION AUGUST 16TH 2009--12:00PM to 5:00PM : LOCATION : AMERICAN LEGION HOME, RTE 73 & DETURK RD, OLEY PA

HOCH HIGH FAMILY ASSOCIATION OFFICERS:

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THE HISTORIC HIGH CEMETERY AT POPLAR NECK Submitted by Susan Miller-Speros HISTORY

Sitting serenely on High's Hill, overlooking the Schuylkill River, and with a rare view of the city of Reading, the historic High Cemetery is one of the earliest family-farm graveyards in the County of Berks. The first settlers made burials in private grounds set aside on their farms for this purpose, and the funeral service was held in the farmhouse. Having private burial grounds on the farm in the 1700s was a matter of convenience, since there were not many churches or public cemeteries in the early days of settlement. By the 1860s the practice was not as common due to the increase of church and public cemeteries, and the changing of farm ownership passing out from the original family lines. This family graveyard is the burial place of Samuel (Hoch) High, his wife Esther, and their numerous descendants. The acreage it sits on was part of beautiful Poplar Neck Farm, founded in 1745 by Samuel Hoch-High, son of John, and grandson of Mennonite settler Rudolph Hoch of Oley. The farm consisted of 300 acres of some of the best farmland in the county! Samuel's wife, Esther Herbein High, in 1796, just prior to her death, stipulated in her Will that the family cemetery be secured. Her husband Samuel had predeceased her by seven months, and her only living son, Isaac, had died the year before. Consequently, her Will directs her "executor to enclose as much ground as they think necessary, including the present burying ground on the plantation, with a good and substantial stone wall, and as soon as convenient after my death". This wall was built of local stone as directed, and in the 1880s it was redone to a Victorian appearance by great grandson Ezra High. He retained the original sandstone foundation, but erected walls of brick, topped with wooden coping, and installed beautiful wrought iron gates. By the mid 1900s Poplar Neck Farm was well out of the hands of the High famiand this once prosperous farm had become a landfill.

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BURIALS

The earliest documented burials are from the 1760s, but there are believed to be burials even as early as the late 1740s. And, because this hill was the place of an important Native American ceremonial site, it is believed that there are also Indian burials in this area. The last documented burial was in 1905. Outside the walls is a lone stone, dedicated to "guard dog Max, friend and companion, 1978-1984"! There are approximately 61 burials in six rows. Among them are Revolutionary War and other veterans, including the most famous soldier of all, Brigadier General William High, grandson of Samuel High. Names found here are Hoch, High, Beidler, Gruber, Brem, Bitting, and Nagle.

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RESTORATION

By 2005 this venerable and historic family cemetery had been a scene of neglect and desolation for many years. The walls were falling down, tomb stones were overturned and cracked, and a thicket had grown up around the walls. The wrought iron gates lay on the ground. Money set aside for upkeep had run out, and, most problematic of all, the cemetery sat on top of a landfill. The owners, Western Berks Landfill, a municipal entity at the time, were unable to keep up with the care of the graveyard on its property. Seeing the dire need for restoration, the Berks County Association for Graveyard Preservation, an organization dedicated to the restoration and preservation of family graveyards, set about making plans and securing the funds necessary for this endeavor. It is exceptionally fortunate and timely for the restoration project that Western Berks Landfill underwent a change of ownership. The new owners, under the directorship of Rich Godshall, took an active part in the restoration and landscaping of the cemetery. This partnership with BCAGP was a true case of responsible ownership. The new owners also set about cleaning and beautifying the approach road and area surrounding the cemetery. Western Berks Community Landfill and Recycling Center, as it is now known, also installed signage for the cemetery. BCAGP did its part beautifully as well. The original sandstone foundation and footprint was retained, and the brick walls were masterfully rebuilt. The graceful wrought iron gate was restored, and proudly marks the entrance to the cemetery once again. BCAGP, with the help of Western Berks, effected an amazing transformation of this formerly derelict and neglected ancient family resting place. The re-dedication of the High Cemetery took place on Saturday, October 20 at 10:00am. Against the beautiful backdrop of colorful fall foliage and trees, and clear blue sky, the cemetery never looked more beautiful. There were many speakers who paid tribute to the dear departed who rested here, and none was more evocative than the 21 gun salute to General High and the other veterans who fought for us so long ago. May they all rest in peace in this serene and lovely spot!

Western Berks Community Landfill and Recycling Center would like to thank the Berks County Association for Graveyard Preservation for providing the historical information regarding this special ground. With utmost respect, we were pleased to participate in the rededication ceremony and in the restoration of the High Cemetery at Poplar Neck.

The Hoch farmland was recently sold to a local Mennonite family. The land has been placed in a conservancy designating this land for farming purposes only. The family graveyard, located on the property, has been placed in a trust. Mark Hoch will retain a portion of the farmland. This property had been farmed by Hoch descendants since the early 1700's. Johannes Hoch, son of Rudolph and Veronica, sett led in the Oley Valley. The deed to his Oley plantation was dated January 30, 1728. Rudolph and Veronica accompanied their son to the Oley Valley. In fact , the first burial in the Hoch Cemetery occurred in 1728 when Veronica died. A small burial plot, 80 square feet, was established on the homestead.

THE 97TH ANNUAL HOCH--HIGH REUNION

THE 97TH ANNUAL HOCH-HIGH REUNION AUGUST 16TH 2009--12:00PM to 5:00PM : LOCATION : AMERICAN LEGION HOME, RTE 73 & DETURK RD , OLEY PA COST: $8.50 PER PERSON

GOOD FOOD FROM 'THE VILLAGE BUTCHER'

FOOD SERVED AT 1 PM. COLD / HOT BUFFET DRINKS ANNIVERSARY CAKE FAMILY MEETING AT 2:30 PM IN THE AIR CONDITIONED OLEY LEGION BUILDING, INCLUDING PRIZES AND FAMILY STORIES. FAMILY MEETING AT APPROXIMATELY 2:30 PM

THERE WILL BE A NEW "BADGE" (GENERAL HIGH) AVAILABLE TO BUY AND ADD TO YOUR COLLECTION, AND OLD ONES WILL BE AVAILABLE IF YOU MISSED OUT ON ANY!

HOCH ­ HIGH REUNION 2009 REPLY NO LATER THAN AUGUST 9TH

# ATTENDING NAME ADDRESS

TOTAL SEND $

E-MAIL SEND TO: CALVIN HOCH, TREASURER 20 W PINE STREET FLEETWOOD PA 19522

ALL MEALS MUST BE PAID IN ADVANCE. IF YOU NO LONGER WANT TO RECEIVE THE "HOCH-HIGH" NEWS, PLEASE LET US KNOW BY WRITING: PO BOX 305 OLEY PA 19547 OR CALL (610) 987-3541.

IF YOU NEED DIRECTIONS TO THE REUNION, PLEASE CONTACT RALPH LORAH AT (610) 987-3541

MINUTES FROM OUR 2008 REUNION

96TH ANNUAL HOCH-HIGH FAMILY REUNION August 17, 2008 American Legion Picnic Grounds and Building, Oley, PA Meeting was convened at 3:10 pm by President Ralph Lorah Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer. MINUTES: The minutes from last year were reviewed and accepted. Motion made to receive notes by Gilbert Hess, and seconded by Leslie Rebman TREASURER'S REPORT: Given by Calvin Hoch. Calvin reported that the balance in the treasury as of August 7 was $2247.16. There is $300.00 in the Cemetery Fund. Motion made to receive the Treasurer's Report by Ardell Bergstressor, and seconded by Dan Hoch. CORRESPONDENCE: Reviewed. David Arhold (Maine), a Melchior descendant, ordered two books and other family memorabilia. A check for $100.00 was received, with a donation of $37.00 coming out of it. DONATION/COLLECTION: A total donation of $50.00 was received for the cemetery. HIGH CEMETERY REPORT: The re-dedication of the High Cemetery at Poplar Neck is to take place on Saturday, October 20, 2008 at 10:00am. The landscaping of the cemetery by Western Berks is ongoing. NOTE: The re-dedication of the High Cemetery took place on October 20, 2008 as planned. The Cemetery was beautifully decorated with Fall foliage by the staff at Western Berks, and was attended by family members, members of BCAGP, and various dignitaries of the County of Berks, including a judge and County Commissioner who are very supportive of local preservation efforts. The 21 gun salute to General High, and all the other veterans buried there was very moving. INTRODUCTIONS: All present introduced themselves, and told how they are connected to the Hoch-High family. There were 26 people present.

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