November 16, 1819: "Mountain Mary," Anna Maria Jung, Has Died


By Margaret Leidy Harner from her book One Day at a Time: A Social History of Boyertown, PA.

November 16, 1819: Anna Maria Jung, popularly known as Mountain Mary, has died at the age of 70. A pioneer nurse, a comforter of body and soul, benevolent, pious, brave, and charitable, Mary was considered by all who knew her as a “holy woman.”

Her family emigrated from Germany around 1769 and settled in Germantown, where her father died. She, her two sisters and their widowed mother were so frightened by the battle that raged near their home during the America Revolution that they fled the neighborhood and took refuge in the Oley Valley where they purchased 42 acres of land near Pikeville.

With the help of kindly neighbors, they cleared the land and erected a small one-story log house and a stable. They purchased cattle and other farm stock and began making butter and cheese for income. They planted their fields and grew various crops, as well as medicinal herbs in their garden. Eventually, her mother died and her sisters married and moved away but Mary remained on the land and farmed on her own.

She had a wide and astonishing knowledge of roots and herbs and her reputation as a healer spread far beyond the hills of the Oley Valley. Pilgrims visited her in her mountain retreat and began calling her “Barricke Mariche.” She also made house calls, the first “visiting nurse” in Berks County. She gathered wild honey, berries, nuts and made her butter and cheese for her neighbors Daniel Yoder and Isaac Lee to sell in Philadelphia and purchase “necessities” for her. She paid for Yoder’s services in licorice roots, which his family loved.

One night, her friend, Mrs. Susan Keim, had a dream that Mary was ill and dying. The weather was threatening, but she would not be deterred from her errand of mercy. She and her son trekked from Reading to Pikeville and found Mary dangerously ill, suffering from cold and hunger. Susan remained with Mary until her death, doing all that she could to bring her comfort and love in her final hours.

Rev. Conrad Miller, pastor of New Hanover, Boyertown and the Hill Lutheran congregations, conducted the funeral service. Friends came from great distances to honor her passing and she was laid to rest in the small family graveyard beside her mother.

A stone fence was erected around the grave in 1821, which is now a tangled mass of weeds and undergrowth. The fence has crumbled into fragments and the crude headstones can no longer be seen, but the legend of this noble, charitable, kindly woman lives on.

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