Most historical societies are the indirect result of an event that occurs. This may originate from a positive action such as an anniversary or a centennial celebration, while other times it may be caused by a negative reaction. Our Society was created on the latter course. Namely, the razing of Zion Union (Lutheran and German Reformed) Church in Womelsdorf, erected in 1792. This was the initial act that caused some people to become aware of the necessity for having an organization to protect our old landmarks and the preservation of our heritage. There were additional motives for its origin, but in all frankness this was the foremost reason.
Our early meetings were held in the churches. Later they were transferred to the Womelsdorf Borough Hall. Eventually, they ended up in the Womelsdorf Elementary School.
During the year 1980, largely through the efforts of our State Representative, John S. Davies, the Legislature approved funds for the renovating of an unused limestone maintenance building in Conrad Weiser Park, Womelsdorf, for the establishing of a genealogical library. This was the first genealogical library solely used for that prupose in Berks County. Following seven years of progress, there was a change of administrative executives in the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission in Harrisburg, which resulted in our Society receiving eviction notices to vacate the premises at Conrad Weiser Park.
Faced with this sudden dilemma, our Society members rose to meet the challenge and constructed a beautiful new building in which to house its Stephen Brecht Library as well as the Livingood Museum Room. Our meetings are now conducted on the lower floor in the Batdorf Meeting Room which accommodates 90 people.
The Board retains a part time Curator, who is assisted by several regular volunteers.
Tulpehocken is an Indian name meaning ‘land of turtles’ and the name of the creek that supplies the territory with the elixir of life. The land area encompasses 206,000 acres, roughly 322 square miles. The following towns, villages and hamlets are located within its boundaries: Bernville, Bethel, Brownsville, Centerport, Frystown, Host, Meckville, Millbach, Mt Aetna, Mt. Pleasant, Myerstown, Newmanstown, New Schaefferstown, Rehrersburg, Richland, Robesonia, Schubert, Shartlesville, Sheridan, Stouchsburg, Strausstown, Wernersville, Wintersville, and Womelsdorf. What makes the Tulpehocken Valley so unique is that ninety-five percent of its original inhabitants were of German origin.
The Brecht Genealogical Library contains over 3000 books and papers, which include family histories, local histories, biographies and copies of ninety percent of the existing records of the Tulpehocken region churches. Our Society acquired, through donation by the late Schuyler C. Brossman, his extensive genealogical microfilm records.
Schuyler wrote the weekly column, “Our Keystone Families”. Ray J. Dieffenbach, prior to his death, donated his lifetime collection of genealogical material. Both men were well known and respected local genealogists.
Historical exhibits of local artifacts are presented on a rotating basis. They are open to members, the public and school children during regular hours. A knowledgeable person lectures on the subject matter being displayed.
Quarterly meetings are well attended with appropriate programs promoting Pennsylvania-German culture in our area.
Our Society publishes a quarterly newsletter, “The Tulpehocken Tattler” and an annual booklet, “Die Shilgrut Fun Der Tulpehock”. Translation: “The Turtle From The Tulpehocken”.
Supplementing our microfilm facilities are two laminating pieces of equipment and a spiral binder. Many people like to laminate old newspapers, obituaries, brittle records, etc. Our large 25″ laminator will perform the work regardless of the job size.
Currently we have approximately 450 members residing in 35 States of our nation and Canada.
If you have ancestors who were from the Tulpehocken, YOU BELONG in our Society. IT IS THE BEST HISTORICAL BUY TO BE FOUND.