Blue Eyed Six & The Faith – Chp 7 (The Story)

Blue Eyed Poster


The year was 1878 and the setting was a little hamlet along the Blue Mountain range called St. Joseph Springs tucked between first and second mountain and accessed by a two lane road that split off and headed west from the road that sliced through Swatara Gap and wound by Moonshine Church. Small families scratched out a living along the valley road which stretched further to the west into Fishing Creek Valley. Their days were filled with farming small family plots, chopping wood by hand, hunting game to put meat on the table and most made their living in the coal mining industry. There were no “well off” families and large broods of children living hand to mouth were the norm. Israel Brandt, a gregarious business man was a tavern keeper and he started a hotel right in the middle of the community. He had a history of working all over the US in various jobs, mostly bar tending and he had only one arm, which he lost in a threshing machine while working on a farm in Illinois.

Incredibly, the insurance industry provided a way to strike it rich since the liberal laws at that time allowed a person or persons to take out insurance policies on anyone not just family members. The devious wheels began to turn in Israel Brandt’s mind and the scheme to insure someone and have them killed for the insurance money was formed. He needed a victim and chose Joseph Raber, an old man who was for the most part the town hobo and who had no family. Raber did odd jobs for food and lived on the back of the mountain right above Brandt’s hotel in a little one room shack with a ground floor with Polly Kreiser his live in housekeeper. In order to maximize on the payout Brandt conspired with three other men, all who wanted to, or were desperate for, a get rich quick payout. Their names were Josiah Hummel, Henry Wise and George Zechman. Once the policies were final the men needed someone to do the deed or “get Raber out of the way” as Brandt often called it.

A humble butcher named Charles Drews whose life was filled with misfortune since coming to America from Germany 26 years earlier was Brandt’s first candidate whom he tried to convince to murder Raber. Drews had 11 children and had lost his farm because of too many debts and now lived in a 3 room shanty a stones throw from Brandt’s hotel. To start with, Brandt convinced Drews to butcher stolen livestock in his hotel basement for a share of the meat to feed his family and the crimes increased until gradually he convinced him to kill Raber, but Drews did not want to do the deed alone.

A wild youth named Franklin Stichler, not yet in his 20’s known for brash conduct, stealing livestock up and down the valley and who had a way with the ladies, was approached by Drews to assist in the crime for a mere $100. Stichler said, “It doesn’t matter to me, I can kill any man”! So the plan was set and on a cold afternoon the 7th of December, when Indiantown Creek was icy cold they convinced Joseph Raber to come down to Drews house where Stichler and Drews asked him to go along to get some meat from a neighbor up on second mountain. Raber agreed and they led him to his death. While the three were crossing Indiantown Creek on a plank Stichler turned around, grabbed Raber by the shoulders, and threw him into the 18″ inch deep icy waters and jumped in on top of him. Raber, not a weak man resisted, pushing himself up, so Drews, still standing on the plank, leaned over and put his hands on Stichler’s shoulders and helped him keep Raber under the water until he was a lifeless form.

They left Raber in the water and hurried to Drews home where Stichler changed out of his wet clothes. Drews then went to notify Brandt that Raber was dead and they began the false story that Raber had been seen that day acting very giddy and had a case of vertigo and fell into the creek. Brandt and Hummel went to Lebanon for the coroner and returned with him the next day. Raber’s death was ruled an accidental drowning by the coroner. But the community knew otherwise since Brandt’s plan to “put Raber out of the way” was a well-known story among the residents, some who had been approached by the conspirators to take part but refused, and others who overheard them talking of their plan. Even the Lebanon Courier newspaper story about Raber’s death ended with the foreboding sentence “There is unpleasant talk of the probability of his death not being accidental”. To make maters worse, the four conspirators were often seen on Brandt’s hotel porch meeting in broad daylight and people put two and two together linking them with the plan to murder Raber.

Another group who overheard the plan was the family of Charles Drews as Brandt and Hummel were often in his home talking to Drews of his duty to keep his word to do away with Raber. In addition, on the day of the murder Drew’s son-in-law Joseph Peters (by common law marriage to his daughter Lena) actually witnessed the crime from the second story window of Drews home! His wife Lena was in the room as well but was not looking out the window. Peters, who was home on leave from the army, kept this information to himself since one of the murderers was his own father-in-law and the other, Stichler, was rumored to have had an affair with his wife Lena while he was away serving his country.

The rumor mills and gossip circles in the valley were at a high-pitched fervor and Peters became more and more nervous and feared for his life. So in early January he and his wife Lena left the Drews home and walked away toward the west and did not return. That is until a month later in February when he met at 4 am one morning with four constables in the city of Lebanon and recounted his eye-witness testimony. The constables, joined with one from East Hanover Township then headed to Swatara Gap and one by one arrested all of the Blue Eyed Six by 7:30 am that same morning and they were all taken to the jail in Lebanon on 8th and Walnut Street.

Blue Eyed Jail

And so the legend of the “Blue Eyed Six” began. If you speak of them to people in Lebanon County today many will say, “I’m pretty sure I’m related to one of them”. Well, that’s entirely possible, especially with 30 surviving children of the four married members to carry on the family DNA. At least two books were written, a play and a full length feature movie was produced and the curiosity concerning the Blue Eyed Six continues.

LOBO COMMENT: I wanted to give you the whole story in one blog and will from here present the trial and eventual executions.

THE BIBLE: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world but that world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)

Now to the Trials!

Guaranteed Reservation in Heaven!


Is it really possible to know for sure right now before you die you have a guaranteed reservation in Heaven?

Yes it is! David said in Psalms 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…” and in vs. 6 “…I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” He knew two things – that God was with him, vs. 4, and he would dwell in the house of God forever, vs. 6. So what he says here is that he knew he had a guaranteed reservation and he knew it before he died! What about you? Do you know it?
God says in 1 John 5:13 “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life…”  Another way to ask the question is, “If you died today do you know for sure you would go to heaven?” Can you really know this for sure? What must you do?
Work for it? …no. You could never be sure you did enough good works to earn it. Besides, God says “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Here in Ephesians 2:8 & 9 the Bible says works will not help you get into heaven.
Buy it? …no, it is a gift, already paid for by the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” All sin pays for is eternal death, but Jesus paid for eternal life!
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Why do I need this gift?
Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We all are sinners, except for Jesus. Therefore, Romans 5:8 says “But God shows His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Too easy you say? No, it’s just like a motel reservation. You call ahead for a guaranteed reservation to make sure you have a place to stay on your trip. Yet when it comes to their “final trip” many people make no reservations for Heaven. But, God wants you to have one!
In John 14:1-3, Jesus said, “You trust in God, now trust in Me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions… I go to prepare a place for you…Afterwards I will come back to take you with me where I am.” In John 10:9 Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved…” This word “saved” means “get eternal life” or have a guaranteed reservation to heaven. How do you get this eternal life guaranteed reservation?

Paul said, in Romans 10: 9, 10 “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. “

So is believing all of this truth about my sin and Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection enough to get me a place to stay in heaven? No, it’s not—you have to ask for it, just like you have to make a reservation to get a room in a motel.

That’s why Paul says in Romans 10:13, “Whosoever will call on the name of the Lord (ask God, tell Him you believe and want to make a reservation), will be saved” (get eternal life).
Let me summarize for you how to have a guaranteed reservation to heaven with these important facts:
1. Everyone is a sinner. Romans 3:23.
2. The payment for sin is eternal death. Romans 6:23
3. Christ paid the payment when He died on the cross for my sins.
4. Eternal life, a guaranteed place in heaven, is a gift from God.
5. To get this gift, I must believe what the Bible says about my sin, and my Savior Jesus Christ. If I believe this with all my heart, I must ask God for it.

Would you like to make the call and get your guaranteed reservation to heaven today?

If you would, then let me invite you to bow your head right now, wherever you are and pray this simple prayer to the God of the Bible who loves you and is waiting for your call.
Dear God, I know that I am a sinner and can’t save myself. I do believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins, and rose from the dead on Easter to give me eternal life. I ask you right now to come into my life, forgive my sins, take over my life and give me a guaranteed reservation in heaven. Thank you for saving me; help me now to live the rest of my life for you. Amen.

If you prayed this prayer and meant it, God heard you and gave you eternal life which lasts forever. Now, it is important for you to find a Bible teaching church so you can grow in your faith.

Used by permission from Pastor Bill Haken the author of this message. Here is an invitation from my good friend Pastor Haken:

If you live near us, 100 N. Hershey Rd. Harrisburg PA 17112, it would be our privilege to meet you and help you to grow. My video of this is on YouTube. Also, our church website has both audio and video teaching that will help you learn God’s exciting plans for your life.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. “
Tell me when you make your reservation; I look forward to meeting you in heaven someday.
Rev. William M. Haken Sr. © 2010; Order quantities on a donation basis @ 717.545.1132 or

Blue Eyed Six & The Faith – Chp 6 (Franklin Stichler)

Blue Eyed Frank Stichler


FROM THE BOOK “BLUE EYED SIX” BY Wayne H. Anspach:  (A true story from the late 19th century about four men who insured the town hobo and then hired a humble butcher and local ruffian to murder him so they could collect the insurance money…. all six having blue eyes!)

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: “Brandt said they had the plan ready and if I didn’t kill him they would shoot me, so to save my life I promised. I knew not what to do, my life was in danger. I then asked Frank Stichler to do it because I could not. Stichler said he didn’t care, he could kill anyone but bargained I should go along which I promised but declared I would not touch Raber.” (from Charles Drews Confession)

IN THEIR OWN WORDS #2: “We went to the creek, Drews leading off and I in the rear. We persuaded Raber to go with us under the pretext of getting meat at J. Kreisers. When we were all on the plank I took Raber by the legs and threw him into the water, and I jumped in on top of Raber and got him by the hair, and in order to keep his head underwater, Drews, who remained on the plank, pressed upon me. Our combined force keeping him down, we held him down for five to ten minutes, then I went to Drews house and he went to Brandt’s. I don’t pretend to be innocent, I did the deed, and Drews helped me. I was to get $100 and Drews $300” (from Franklin Stichler’s confession)

FRANKLIN STICHLER – This boy was born at Indiantown Gap about one half mile from the scene of the tragedy. His parents were identified with those who labor for their daily bread as Frank’s father was engaged in the business of charcoal burning for a livelihood. Franklin was identified from childhood with the wild and irregular life incumbent on those who engage in this precarious vocation. At the age of nine years he first went to school only in the fall and winter since his father needed his services in order to keep the wolf from the door. He went to school only two years and said he didn’t gleam much benefit as he was too full of fun and childish pranks that he paid more attention to making jokes on the other boys than heeding the precepts of the country schoolmaster. So we find him with little or no education, compelled to associate with the rough crowd that inhabited the region where he lived. He had few advantages to cultivate the more desireable traits of character. He was unmarried, but always quite a favorite with the fair sex at the Gap, presuming he would have soon entered his chances in the matrimonial lottery, had not the lust of gain obscured his better nature and caused him to commit and act which the laws of his country declare he shall atone for with his life. He spent his time in prison reading his Bible and singing hymns, confident in propitiating the Supreme Being to whom alone he looks for mercy. He it was by his own confession who murdered old Joseph Raber at Indiantown Gap by throwing him into the creek, off a plank, and holding him under water until life was extinct.

LOBO COMMENTS: My Uncle Wayne Anspach (author of “Blue Eyed Six”) told me that Franklin’s parents John & Elizabeth Stichler were God fearing and good Christian people. How much of a heartbreak it must have been for them to see the wild side of Franklin on display as he approached manhood! How they must have prayed for their young son. But those prayers seemed to bounce off the proverbial ceiling as Franklin was involved in scores of robberies in the neighborhood in order to supply Israel Brandt (the ringleader of the Six) with meat for his hotel customers. One night he even stole all the money his father had in his pockets and took a train car for Tower City and from there to the cities of Lykens, Harrisburg and Philadelphia staying several days then coming back to Lebanon. He was arrested, thrown in jail and when his father came and took him home he only had five cents left. Then he moved from home and started rooming in Israel Brandt’s hotel. After the murder and while in jail, Franklin’s parents visited him frequently, especially his mother. He was so attached to his mother, and the scenes of her visiting Franklin were heartwarming. He spoke in the warmest manner of his love and devotion for her while in prison. After his execution it is said that no cemetery officials would take his body so his mother drove her horse and buggy to Lebanon and retrieved her son’s body. Can you imagine that long, sad trip? She took him home and buried him in her backyard garden. Then she heaped a pile of stones over the grave so grave robbers could not easily take him and planted a snowball bush beside him to decorate the spot. Thanks to her and that pile of stones, the grave site was kept from being swallowed up by the mountain in the ensuing years. You can still visit the site today.

THE BIBLE: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Next up: “The Story”


John Sebastian

There was a man sent from God, his name was John. Today we celebrated the life of John R. Sebastian. He was a good man, not a perfect man, but a man of God who loved his Savior. Born February 1, 1953 he turned 62 this year. He loved to help people through his career in law enforcement and served various communities across our country. Most of his years were spent here in Lebanon County PA where he was born, grew up and raised a family of four children with his wife Loretta. His licence plate “DA-HEAT” spoke of his awesome sense of humor and it probably hung on 20 different cars and trucks as it seemed John could never find just the right one.

John had a special magic with teenagers! They loved him! He would have been the ultimate Youth Pastor but then he would have been limited to only the kids in his church. John rather loved and served the kids across all churches in the community. Everywhere he went he’d run into teenagers with whom he’d made some kind of lasting positive contact and impression. Especially when he served as the Resource Officer at the Northern Lebanon School District. Even while a cop it wasn’t his goal to toss kids in jail but to redeem them and re-direct their lives which he did time and time again.

John was a witness for Jesus! He defended the faith quite well against the critics with very reasoned and graceful responses. He spoke often to others about his faith and shared the Gospel message, that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again the third day defeating sin, Satan and Death. He passionately encouraged people to turn from their sins and trust Christ as Savior on a regular basis. Even when he wasn’t actually speaking of his Lord his smile was beaming the message that this “big guy” was someone different and that Jesus was behind that big smile, big handshake and big hug.

He would have been SO proud of his kids and grandkids today who bravely stood and spoke of their departed loved one. They read Scriptures, his daughter Randy read a poem she wrote for him and his son Tim was amazing who, like a pastor, made us all feel welcomed and appreciated and loved. He so wonderfully (just like John would have) made us feel special and loved as part of the family.

There was a man sent from God and his name was _____. Now it’s our turn. John is policing the golden streets of heaven, it’s a lot safer there now. 🙂 Let’s put our name in that space as we take the baton and share Jesus with a lost world that is in so much need of a Savior. Let’s be the friend to others that John was to us, let’s show love to the stranger, stretch out a warm hand, give a bear hug, for our brother John is now in Beulah Land (his favorite song).

I’m kind of homesick, for a country, to which I never been before. No sad goodbyes, will there be spoken, where time won’t matter anymore!  Beulah land, I’m longing for you and some day on thee I’ll stand. There my hope shall be eternal, Beulah Land, sweet Beulah Land.

I love you man! See you in Beulah Land!

Blue Eyed Six & The Faith – Chp 5 (Charles Drews)

Blue Eyed Charles Drews

CHARLES DREWS – AGE 59 – Humble Butcher

FROM THE BOOK “BLUE EYED SIX” BY Wayne H. Anspach: A true story from the late 19th century about four men who insured the town hobo and then hired a humble butcher and local ruffian to murder him so they could collect the insurance money…. all six having blue eyes!

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: “I lived close by Brandt’s last summer and fall. I know Zechman when I see him. I know Brandt a long time. I know Hummel and Wise, the latter since he was a boy. I saw all these together at Brandt’s several times but can’t tell how often, pretty often though. They often sent for my husband when they were together, but he never told me what they wanted. I knew Raber a long time. They never told me what they were to pay to have Raber murdered, but in my presence Wise told my husband that he should hurry kill Raber because Zechman could no longer keep up his insurance policy. Wise said to my husband he should drown Raber. Brandt said if my husband did not work Raber out of the way he would kill my husband. This he said in my presence.” (Sabina Drews wife of Charles Drews during trial testimony)

CHARLES DREWS – A soldier on two continents, a choir director and singer, a butcher and a man of note generally. Born in Germany his father was a butcher by trade and not blessed with the abundance of the things of this world. Charles began school at six and attended until sixteen years old. He loved reading and every kind of literature and in the winter evenings his friends would gather round their humble home, furnish their own lights and listen to Charles read stories and history away into the small hours. At the age of 16 he possessed so good and ear for music and so fine a voice that he was appointed to lead the choir in the Lutheran church to which he belonged. This only lasted 4 years since his father concluded it was taking up too much of his time and made him quit and help in the family butchering business.

He fought the Danes two years in the German army, went back to butchering but was discontent. He made up his mind to try his fortune in the new world and landed in New York in May of 1852. His fortune in the new world of America had its ups and downs but mostly down. He worked for a farmer on Long Island for three months, then travelled to Pennsylvania arriving at Harrisburg and there obtained a job on the railroad where he worked 66 days but was cheated out of his pay by a dishonest contractor. He then struck out for Lebanon PA and met a man along the road who beckoned for him to carry his burden which ended up containing stolen goods and ultimately landed Charles in the Lebanon County prison! He worked his way out of prison by helping do mason work on a wall that had fallen down and then got a job at the Coleman Furnace and a subsequent job at a furnace in Schuylkill county for five years when he met and married Sabina Kreiser the sister of Mollie Kreiser who was the live-in house keeper of Joseph Raber. Small world!

He moved to Union Township to help take care of Sabina’s elderly parents and worked as a woodcutter in the mountains supplying 3 different forges with wood. He then enlisted in the Union Army’s 93rd Regiment and fought in all their Civil War battles becoming a flag carrier, had the flag shot out of his hands on many occasions, but was never injured. Coming home from the war he bought a house and four acres of land for $700 then was off to war again. While there he received word that his wife Sabina was unfaithful to him. After writing to her she wrote back denying the claim but when he got home he found that she had made so many debts he didn’t know what to do, so he sold the farm to pay off all his debts.

Practically penniless and father of 11 children, his next move took him to Indiantown Gap, St. Joseph’s Springs in a humble house on a mountain hillside. A year later a Mr. Israel Brandt the smooth talking tavern keeper moved in just next door! Brandt became the ringleader of a local group of robbers (including Franklin Stichler) who stole residents livestock and foul to supply meat for his hotel. He needed a butcher and over time convinced Drews to butcher the animals. Unfortunately, eventually the crimes escalated to the ultimate crime of murder!

LOBO COMMENTS: So I must admit, I have a fondness in my heart for my Great Great Great Grandpa Charles Drews. Yes, he did assist in drowning Joseph Raber at probably the lowest time of his life after being seduced by the smooth tongue of Israel Brandt. But it seems just nothing went right for this humble hard-working man! He appears to have found the Lord as a youth, I can’t speak for his moment of faith, for when the light of Jesus comes in the darkness goes out changing the person forever, and there appears to be a definite love for the things of the Lord in young Charles life as from age 16 to 20 he served the Lord in singing, choir directing and worship ministry. This, and his love for books and entertaining nature speaks of a youth who may have been walking close with his Maker.  His trip to the New Land provided him mostly heartaches with the loss of his funds when landing in the US, not being paid for his work on the Harrisburg Railroad job, being mistaken for a crook on the road to Lebanon PA, his wife Sabina squandering their wealth while he fought in the Civil War, losing his farm and then being drawn into the deathly conspiracy. His spiritual roots were definitely reinvigorated while imprisoned for his crime in the Lebanon County jail as there was a very active chaplain ministry to all of the Blue Eyed Six while incarcerated. I will speak more of this in my future blog “The Executions”.

THE BIBLE:  Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LordAnd in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish. (Psalm 1)

For those of you who are brutes for punishment and want to take in another reading assignment, here is how I am related to not one, but TWO of the Blue Eyed Six!

THE LOBO CONNECTION: As I mentioned at the beginning of this series of blogs on the Blue Eyed Six, I am related to TWO of these men but that “achievement” took a very interesting path to accomplish. It took an unlikely, and some would say strange, marriage to make that happen. Magdalena Drews (the murderer Charles Drews daughter) better known as Lena, married John Stichler, the younger brother of the murderer Franklin Stichler. This was years after the trial and so my family connection was begun.

Lena Stichler

Catherine Mary Magdalena (Drews) Stichler

John Stichler was only 13 years old when his older brother, 19-year-old Franklin, took part in the drowing of Josheph Raber in Indiantown Creek. Lena, also 19 at the time, actually waited for young John Stichler to grow up and then they were married. Lena and “little” John had 6 children. Their first-born was named, wait for it… Frank of course! Their second born was my Great Grandmother Jenny Stichler and she eventually married my Great Grandfather Harvey Anspach (hence the connection to Wayne H. Anspach writer of “Blue Eyed Six” book) which probably improved the family gene pool. Harvey and Jenny’s firstborn, a son Clarence, was as they say “a spitting image” of his Great Grandfather Charles Drews! (see below)

Clarence AnspachBlue Eyed Charles Drews

Clarence H. Anspach (my grandfather)               Charles Drews

So I can thank Magdalena (Drews) Stichler for bringing these family connections into being. I am therefore related to Charles Drews who is my Great Great Great Grandfather, and Franklin Stichler who is my Great Great Great Uncle! My mother Irene (Anspach) Wolfe is Wayne Anspach’s oldest sister.

Next up Franklin Stichler – The Ruffian

Blue Eyed Six & The Faith – Chp 4 (George Zechman)

Blue Eyed Geo Zechman

GEORGE ZECHMAN – AGE 40 – Not Guilty!

FROM THE BOOK “BLUE EYED SIX” BY Wayne H. Anspach:   A true story from the late 19th century about four men who insured the town hobo and then hired a humble butcher and local ruffian to murder him so they could collect the insurance money…. all six having blue eyes!

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: George says to me, “Let us insure that man who you told me that someone was at you to go partner with to work ‘out of the way’ for $500.” I said, “No, George, there is one fellow that has been at me for over a year already. I don’t want to have my life taken and don’t want to take anyone’s.” “Well” said he, “we don’t take his life.” I said, “No, but we would help to be the cause of it, and I don’t want to be sent to the penitentiary for years.” “Oh,” says Zechman, “they can’t do anything to us, for if I tell you to kill a man the law can’t say if you kill him that you had to do it.” (an alleged conversation between Henry Wise and George Zechman out behind the barn)

GEORGE ZECHMAN – The last man in the four man conspiracy was born in Berks county, his forefathers being of German origin many years back. His family worked principally at farming and making fence posts. He was sent to school at age eight and continued going off and on until age seventeen. He left school and worked on boats hauling goods on the Susquehanna River. After quitting the river he began working in the coal mines over a period of 5 to 6 years for five different employers when he was seized with a fit of sickness. When back at the mines his partner was killed in an accident and he gave up working there to begin driving horse teams in Fishing Creek Valley. Married at age 22 he had a wife and six children with the oldest only about 8 years old. He attended the Lutheran church with his wife and family, also the Sunday school, where he taught a class. He claimed to have always gotten along peaceably with his neighbors and had no enemies he was aware of. When single, he was given much to attending dancing parties, and related many amusing incidents of his experience while tripping the light fantastic toe. Zechman was not addicted to the use of strong drink to excess, though occasionally took a glass for his stomach’s sake. A great lover of the weed, he was seldom found without a pipe of tobacco or a chew. He possessed a little home in his own right and was always somewhat prosperous in his own way.

LOBO COMMENTS: In spite of the incriminating testimony of conspirator Henry Wise and the fact that George Zechman was seen multiple times with the other three men involved in the conspiracy, he was given a new trial and found not guilty. How could this have happened? First of all, Zechman was known to be the most well off of the group. This was evident by the fact that he hired a new out of town lawyer. Zechman never confessed to the crime like others did nor was there any evidence of him trying to convince the actual murderers (Stichler and Drews) to commit the crime. Another surprising fact was that Judge Henderson who presided over the trial realized the case against Zechman was insufficient. Listen to his words. “Have you any declaration of George Zechman? Is there any evidence that connects or tends to connect him in a criminal attempt, or conspiracy against the life of Joseph Raber? We instruct you that you must exclude the declarations of the other defendants until he is connected with them by proof in the conspiracy. It cannot be said that because he is interested in the insurance, for this seems to be common, that this imputes to him guilt.” So with a weaker case, and through the talents of a new lawyer George Zechman got a new lease on life. But what kind of life was it? Local legend in subsequent years says that he lived a tormented life and had excruciating boils break out on his body time and time again until he met his Maker just 7 short years later, dying at the young age of forty-seven.

 THE BIBLE: Wisdom calls aloud outside, she raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses at the opening of the gates in the city she speaks her words: “Turn at my rebuke, Surely I will pur out my spirit on you. I will make my words known to you. Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded. Because you disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke, I also will laugh at your calamity. I will mock when your terror comes.” (Proverbs 1:20-26)

Next up Charles Drews – The Humble Butcher

Blue Eyed Six & The Faith – Chp 3 (Jesiah Hummel)

Blue Eyed Jesiah Hummel

JESIAH HUMMEL – Age 31 –  Gentle Jesiah

FROM THE BOOK “BLUE EYED SIX” BY Wayne H. Anspach: A true story from the late 19th century about four men who insured the town hobo and then hired a humble butcher and local ruffian to murder him so they could collect the insurance money…. all six having blue eyes!

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: On Sunday, going from Brandt’s up the valley we both had beer in us and been traveling together often, I says “Jess, I will tell you something, if you will promise me never to tell on me.” He reached out his hand and swore he never would tell on me as long as he lived, let be what it will. I said, “Me and George Zechman and Brandt have something going here, but I don’t know how it will turn out yet.” Says he, “Can I have a chance in too?” I said, “If you want to.” “All right” he says, “what is it?” “Won’t you say if I tell you?” “Be damned if I do,” he said. “Why” says I, “Israel Brandt has been at me since spring to insure Raber and I wouldn’t, then me and George Zechman got a talking and he wouldn’t no other way but do so.” “Well all right I be in too, if we can only get this money now, if not, I can’t till pay-day.” I told him, “I would get money and I would give him $10 I owe him.” (alleged conversation between Jesiah Hummel and Henry Wise)

JESIAH HUMMEL – Born in Union Township, Lebanon County. His ancestors were identified with the sons of toil. His father was in the business of farming and Josiah resided about seven miles from the scene of the tragedy. He first went to school at the age of eight years and continued going on and off until twenty-one, attending however only in the fall and winter. He was known for his quiet inoffensive disposition, slow to learn and rather careless, making but slow progress in his studies. The predominant trait in his character was his great respect and admiration for the gentler sex, and he was considered a species of “Knight Errant” by the belles of the surrounding country, and related many incidents of his escapades with the fair sex.

From his early boyhood, when he could be trusted with a gun, he was a great lover of hunting, and says that almost the pleasantest time of his life was spent with his dog and gun in the free mountain air on the sharp lookout for pheasant or rabbit. At the time of his arrest he was engaged to be married to the lady of his choice, thus sustaining the old saying that the course of “true love never runs smooth.” He affirmed that his fiance still remained true and held the memory of her “gentle Jesiah” enshrined in the inmost depths of her heart which consoled him in the long weary hours of his confinement. He was rather partial to strong drinks and sometimes got gloriously drunk, and also was a great lover of the weed. He was identified with the Lutheran doctrine and regarded religion.

LOBO COMMENTS: Though Jesiah (the ladies man) appears to be a mild and meek specimen of a man, he chose his friends unwisely and spent much time with Israel Brandt though nothing was said of him taking part in the illegal activities in the valley of stealing and butchering residents livestock. He farmed a lengthy time with his father until age 21 after which he tried boiler making (maybe in the Lebanon Steel Foundry) for a short time and then, like many others, took a job in the coal mines. Engaged to be married, he likely saw a “pot of gold” waiting at the end of the insurance scheme so that he could provide quickly for his new bride. He was in the vicinity the night of the murder as he and Brandt were the ones who went for the coroner upon the discovery of the lifeless body of Joseph Raber in the creek. After Stichler and Drews had confessed to the killing of Raber a shock went through the jail house and Hummel quickly called for his lawyer, but rather than confess to his part in the plot said, “As sure as there is a God in heaven I know nothing about this entire thing!”

THE BIBLE: The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray. He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.  My son, if sinners entice you do not consent. If they say Come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood, let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause, we shall find all kinds of precious possessions, we shall fill our houses with spoil, cast your lot among us! My son, do not walk in the way with them, keep your foot from their path. Be sure your sin will find you out. If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (Proverbs 12:26; Proverbs 13:20; Proverbs 1:10-15; Numbers 32:23; 1 John 1:9)

Next up George Zechman – Not Guilty?

Blue Eyed Six & The Faith – Chp 2 (Henry Wise)

Blue Eyed Henry Wise

HENRY WISE – Age 35 –  The Squealer

FROM THE BOOK “BLUE EYED SIX” BY Wayne H. Anspach: A true story from the late 19th century about four men who insured the town hobo and then hired a humble butcher and local ruffian to murder him so they could collect the insurance money…. all six having blue eyes!

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: “I know an insurance agent in Lebanon, and he will put him in any company we want him in.” I replied to Israel, “It would be right enough, but I don’t want to be penned up or anybody to lose his life through me.” Israel replied, “You don’t need to be afraid of anything, you wouldn’t have need to talk with this man.”  I asked him then, “Who is this man?” “Why, it is Joe Raber. I intend to put him out of the way.” I then said, “I don’t want to have anything to do with it Israel, I intend to go West” “That would be just the thing, then you would have plenty of money to buy a nice farm,” he said. (Discussion between Henry Wise and Israel Brandt)

HENRY WISE –  “The Squealer” (age 35) was born in Monroe Valley, Lebanon County on the 4th of June 1845 and his parents were of American origin. He had not much chance to go to school being compelled to assist his father in supporting the family. At the age of fourteen his brother-in-law and he went to Gold Mine Gap in the winter to cut wood, as he was obliged to handle the axe and do a man’s work. At 17 he worked at Rausch Creek coal mines and was the most industrious man in the company.

He first sought religion at this time and kept in the narrow path for about 7 months, when he was seduced by the world again and felt ashamed whenever he met a Christian Brother. Married at 19 and with his wife, in 6 or 7 years, he began to seek religion again and was faithful for about 18 months. After his baptism by Rausch Gap in Cold Springs he was grossly insulted by someone and Satan got the upper hand with him again and he got angry and ceased praying because he thought he was mocking the Lord.

Continuing to work in the mines or tie making for the rail road for 5 or 6 years in Dauphin County, he then moved back to Fishing Creek Valley where he and his wife determined to make one more effort to overcome the devil and succeeded to follow the precepts of the Lord for two or three years. But being compelled to work in the mines on Sunday he could not apply himself faithfully and backslid from following once again. He related many instances in the mines when he was an instrument in God’s hand to save several lives by warning them of falling rock in time not to be crushed. On one instance his close friend was crushed and Wise could not warn him in time leading to his death. Wise loved him so much that he collected over sixty dollars to give him a decent funeral and tombstone. He and his wife made up their minds to go west to live in a more moral and safe atmosphere but were unable to sell their property and therefore were diverted from his purpose.

It was then that Israel Brant began promising him how easily money could be raised without incurring any risk but with a small outlay golden visions of wealth could be his. After constant badgering by Brandt, Wise finally agreed to help pay for the insurance policies on Raber.

Once apprehended and in jail Wise was strongly impressed with the load of sin he was carrying, and like Bunyan in Pilgrim’s Progress, thought he would turn over a new leaf and start fresh on his hard journey towards Mount Zion on which journey he claimed to be still proceeding. His conduct in jail was good and he passed the greater part praying and singing.

LOBO COMMENTS: Henry Wise was a typical novice Christian who did not receive proper discipleship and influence from the Body of Christ through regular attendance at a local church. Hence his frequent backsliding and mis-understanding of the Biblical doctrine which teaches that one cannot lose their salvation once saved. Without learning the precepts of the scriptures he was easily tempted and offended and walked away from the Faith. Once in the sanctuary of his jail cell with nothing to do other than pray, sing and read the Scriptures, his Faith was strengthened like never before. He repented of his sins, found forgiveness in Christ and became a shining light in that dark place. It was in this context which caused him to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to his Maker and then reveal the entire conspiracy to the authorities. He mistakenly thought his confession would save him from the gallows and eventually stood prematurely before his Maker.

THE BIBLE: As newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the Word of God that ye may grow thereby. Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary the Devil walketh about seeking whom he may devour. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (1 Peter 2:2; 1 Peter 5:8; Joshua 1:9; John 10:27-30; Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 10:24-25)

Next up Jesiah Hummel, The Ladies Man!

Blue Eyed Six & The Faith – Chp.1 (Israel Brandt)

FROM THE BOOK BLUE EYED SIX: Drews and Stichler’s legs and arms were pinioned by stout straps. Stichler, who was the last one bound, being engaged in silent prayer all the while. The rope was first adjusted around Drews’ neck and the white cap drawn over his head, and as they were performing the same operation on Stichler, Drews cried out, “Frank, now we go to heaven, now let go, oh, Father, help.” Both men trembled all over like Aspen leaves for a moment before the fatal blow was struck and they shot through the trap launching them into eternity. Their bodies were placed in very plain coffins, furnished by the Directors of the Poor. Drews was buried in Mt. Lebanon Cemetery and Stichler in the garden at his father’s house in Indiantown Gap.

LOBO COMMENT: So ended the lives of the two men convicted of the murder of poor Joseph Raber drowned to death in Indiantown Creek on the fateful day of December 7, 1878. An unlikely pair, Charles Drews (age 59) a humble father, farmer, butcher and past soldier in the Union Army whose name is listed on the Gettysburg memorial, and Franklin Stichler (age 19) a bold town ruffian and frequent thief were contracted to commit the crime by four other Lebanon County PA conspirators, all six having blue eyes and such were tagged as the infamous “Blue Eyed Six” by a reporter covering the story.

The genesis of the story begins with a plot to kill a man in order to collect money from the insurance policies which four of them had taken out on the victim. It’s a story of greed and viciousness not unlike many murder mystery stories of its kind. I happen to be related to two of the men, Charles Drews and Franklin Stichler, and thanks to my Uncle Wayne H. Anspach, who wrote the book “Blue Eyed Six” have an authentic record of the event through his research and interviews of family members done at the time it was first published back in 1971. Uncle “Snack” as our family and friends called him, graciously granted me permission to use the information and pictures from his book which, if you want more detail, can be purchased at the Lebanon County Historical Society.

So why another account of this tragedy? My blog “Lobochronicles” is meant to give spiritual insights into a disciple’s pathway and so my goal was to examine the Blue Eyed Six to see if there existed any record of true Faith in their lives and what could have derailed that Faith to allow them to commit such a heinous deed? What follows is what I discovered and my opinions of these matters. Since our faith always has roots springing from the foundation of the influences in our lives from family, schooling, friends, church, our work etc., I will list some of these influences and comment about their impact on the men.

We’ll save my relatives who actually committed the murders for last, and look first at the four men who participated in the plot of insuring Joseph Raber for the $10,000 they planned to gain by his death. Thankfully, the laws have changed and today you cannot blatantly insure a friend or stranger for devious purposes.

To begin, here is an artists sketch of the little hamlet called “Joseph’s Springs” where the plot was hatched and murder committed. Raber was drowned in Indiantown Creen (loc C) and the plot was planned in Brandt’s house (loc B).

Blue Eyed St Jo


Blue Eyed Israel Brandt

ISRAEL BRANDT – Age 47 – The Mastermind

A SUMMARY FROM “THE BLUE EYED SIX”: He was born in North Lebanon Township, Lebanon County PA on May 27, 1834 a father of 4 children at the time of his death in 1880. His father was a faithful hard-working farmer and carpenter in the community but Israel did not possess the stability of his parents but was possessed with a restless disposition and a desire for change.  He went to school at age 8 and continued to age 15 when his father sent him to a tailor to learn his trade until his 18th year. He worked at tailoring for 5 years but sighed for a change so he packed his gripsack and wended his way to the Hoosier State working on a farm gathering fruits of the earth for a few years. Again the demon of change wrestled with him and he headed back to his home in Pennsylvania.

A short stint in the military followed but his unit chose not to go to war. A two-year job keeping the Washington House in Lebanon followed after which he sold the business and moved to Illinois where he lost his arm working with a threshing machine then moved to Iowa remaining a short time. Finding no work he headed back to Lebanon! His next venture was managing the Cold Spring Hotel for two years where his first wife died from consumption. He tied the knot again in 1858 while managing and land lording a hotel called the Half-Way House for some years where he was known as a country tavern keeper.

Like the “Wandering Jew” we find him still on his travels catering to the appetites of his customers in the hotel at Joseph’s Springs and was there the longest time of 7 years at the time of the Raber tragedy. He was arrested once for selling liquor to minors and routinely had stolen cattle, sheep, chickens and turkeys butchered in the basement of his hotel. He even served stolen sweep potatoes to the man from which they were stolen and the man enjoyed them immensely! He was known as a “jolly good fellow” while doling out beer and whisky to the general public. It was his idea to insure Joseph Raber but he needed others to participate so that his cost would be limited. Testimony was given that he tackled and badgered these men until they finally agreed to join the conspiracy.

LOBO COMMENT: So here was a restless and devious man who found no happiness in the fruit of his labors wherever he went. He was a regular bad influence in his community to say the least! There is a short reference about him being a Lutheran and also a note about him protecting a Camp Meeting in Sinking Springs from some “ruffians” who made it a practice of breaking up such spiritual gatherings. But to his dying day on the gallows he made no public confession of the crime nor outward confession of his faith. With that said, just before his excecution Brandt shared a poem he had written with a Newspaper Reporter which in part said: “Yes, Israel I was christened, Jesus’ name I see; In him I’ve found all comfort; O precious blood for me; Holy home I wish to go; My faith in Thee alone I show; For You will be my Savior.” He also had “devotions” with fellow blue-eyed convict Jesiah Hummel until midnight the night before the hanging and also participated in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. On the day of his execution he went to Henry Wise (who had confessed all the details of the crime) and forgave him “for all that Wise had ever done against him”. All these are to me as evidences that God was truly working in this sinners heart.

THE BIBLE: The great God who formed everything Gives the fool his hire and the transgressor his wages. The way of the transgressor is hard. Surely you did not hear, Surely you did not know; Surely from long ago your ear was not opened. For I knew that you would deal very treacherously, And were called a transgressor from the womb. Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Proverbs 26:10; Proverbs 13:15; Isaiah 48:8; Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23)

 Next up Henry Wise “The Squealer”

Let it go! Let it go!


As fallen human creatures whose minds are filled with web after web of “head trash” collected over decades of cataloging detailed offenses, we need to find a way to clear out our mental attics! Yesterday as I sat with my Uncle “Snack” (Wayne) Anspach under a shade tree on the lawn of the Lembergers United Methodist Church (discussing my upcoming blog on the faith of the “Blue Eyed Six”) a jogger passed by. When we said hello she stopped to chat and during the conversation about jogging and other things, she mentioned that she’s learned to “Travel lite through life and dismiss all the head trash” which bogs her down in her journey.

What a clear analogy and wise advice! The Apostle Paul, the writer of 13 books in the New Testament of the Bible, could have carried a lot of head trash into his ministry. He was a “Pharisee of the Pharisees” (that’s like a Pope among Popes) who knew every jot and tittle of the Jewish Law which constricted that nation’s people with lifeless rules and regulations shackling their daily lives. He was a hater of the new believers which sprang up in new life after Jesus’ resurrection even to the point of approving the stoning of Stephen a new deacon in the church whose faith shone like a blow torch to his executioners. Paul went on to breathe out threats to all the new churches and carried government arrest warrants with him as he traveled to persecute them.

That was when Jesus appeared to him in a bolt of light on the road to Damascus. Struck down to the ground as Jesus spoke to him from the heavens he embraced “The Faith” as his own and trusted in Christ as his Savior. A changed man, he then made it his life’s goal to preach of Jesus to all who would listen and founded church after church in that quest and thanks to him and other faithful disciples you and I have the opportunity to hear of and trust the Savior today.

Paul dismissed the head trash which could have weighed him down. He said in Philippians 3:13 “I focus on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” The writer of the book of Hebrews in chapter 12:1 also said “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”.

It has been said that holding onto unforgiveness and bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. How true it is! So what is the key to clearing out the web after web of headtrash? This battle of the mind is a spiritual one. We don’t fight physical battles but go to war with forces unseen whose goal is to keep us from living out our faith. The battle starts with making sure you are in the family of God which is done by believing the Gospel that Christ died for our sins, was buried and was raised on the third day. By turning from sin and trusting in Christ to forgive you He will give you the new life He promised.

Then, equipped with Jesus new life inside of you, saturate yourself in His Word the Bible with daily reading, memorization of and meditation on His Word and then start a daily conversation with him in prayer. These steps, along with attending a church where the Bible is preached, will give you all the tools you need to be set free from all that binds you. Pray, “Lord I forgive everyone, everything. Take these burdens from me, I lay them at the foot of Your Cross. I don’t want to carry this baggage anymore.” Let it go! Let it go!