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!

Feed the White Dog!


What a way to start the new year 2017!

There is a story told about a missionary who led a tribal leader to the Lord. Some time later he went back to see the chief and asked how the new believer was doing. He said, “Inside of me there are two dogs. The black dog is mean and tries to talk me into making the wrong choices. The white dog is good and encourages me to make the right choices. The black dog fights the white dog all day.” When asked by the missionary which dog wins, the chief reflected for a moment and replied, “The one I feed the most!”

You know, most of us believers are the same way. There is a part of us that is Christ-filled, compassionate, trusting, caring, serving and focused on helping others. (Our White Dog or New Nature.) We also have a self-centered, fearful, habitual, controlling, anxious part of us that is generally focused on “me, myself and I” and preserving the status quo. (Our Black Dog or Old Nature.)  These two natures are in a constant battle.


Even the Apostle Paul had this struggle. He put it this way. “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:21-25 NLT)

So how do you feed the white dog? Turn from the dark and un-holy things which your spiritual enemies, the World, your Flesh and the Devil throw at you every day and seek and saturate yourself with the things of the Lord instead! Daily reading and meditation of the Bible, God’s holy Word (see link below for my blog “The Plus 30 Plan” for a helpful way to read the Bible).

Make a prayer list and pray daily for yourself, your family and others. Attend a church which preaches from the Bible and where you can make new friends of common faith. Serve others in any little and large way you can. All these things feed the white dog and lead to a much much more fulfilling and rewarding life.


Feeding plan here: The “Plus 30” Plan

The Rock

Clarence Wolfe

On this morning of September 11th I write to you about a person from the “Greatest Generation” who has been a rock in my life and the life of my family. As I sat by his hospital bed last night, where he has been on the precipice of eternity since last Friday, it came to me that he was among the major providers and foundational characters in my life. I speak of 89-year-old Clarence Wolfe (known to us growing up as Uncle Junior) who has had a tremendous impact on us as they say “from little on up”. The year 2015 brought to him many physical trials which culminated in a perfect storm of ailments attacking all of his bodily systems at one time.

Clarence was born in 1926 and grew up in the World War II era. His father’s name was Clarence, hence the nickname “Junior”. He joined the Navy when he was old enough and served two years at sea on a destroyer which protected carriers from attacking enemy planes. My family recently toured the USS North Carolina (my grandsons are pictured in the ships bunk beds below) and I realized it took a special person to be able to live in the belly of a big ship like that sometimes going days without seeing the sun. Those men were made of granite.

Ship Bunks

As I shared in my blog “Bud’s Beginning” my family got off to a rocky start and due to circumstances, some not of his own making, my father disappeared from our family’s life when I was in elementary school. My Uncle Junior (my dad’s little brother) and his wife Janie having no children of their own often came to our home with food and money and clothes to help my mom raise us Wolfe boys. We grew to know that they could be depended upon and time and time again they were providers for us. When our mom had a nervous breakdown we each were taken in by different relatives and my twin brother Bruce lived with Uncle Junior and Janie. They called him “Brucey” and I think even today they still consider him their adopted son.

As a young parent I went to Uncle Junior to ask him to co-sign a loan so we could buy a mobile home. He suggested rather that he had a “friend” who would be willing to loan the money to us for much less interest and a lower payment than the bank could offer so we took him up on the deal. The identity of the “friend” was never revealed but in my heart I knew it just had to be him.

When my Great Grandfather Allen Wolfe died (the country store keeper) Junior and Janie provided for his wife Grandma Kate by placing a mobile home on their property in which she lived the rest of her life. We came to know her as “grandma trailer” since at the time we had four living grandmas and it was just easier to differentiate her that way. Oh the happy times we had with Grandma Trailer and with Uncle Junior looking on as we drove his riding lawn mower (sometimes over his flowering bushes) and played pool in his basement.

Uncle Jr Janie

His last public event was my retirement party a couple of weeks ago (pictured above with wife Janie and our grandson Braden) and miraculously he was able to attend where he got to see many of his Wolfe relatives and all of my seven grandkids. His wife said he really enjoyed himself and was so glad he could make it. Uncle Junior was a great example for us, a solid citizen, a caring provider and a father to the fatherless. Our world needs more men just like him.

Uncle Jr

So I sat alone at his bedside approaching the end of visiting hours holding his hand and I told him how much I appreciated his impact on my life, how that he had been my rock. I told him it was ok to go home to be with the Lord and to rejoice there with all our relatives gone on before him. I told him we’ll look out for Aunt Janie like you did for us. See you over there my friend.

The day I wrote this blog, September 11, 2015, my Uncle Junior went to be with the Lord.

The Quiet City

Green Point2

Let me take you back to the community pictured above. Tucked between two mountains in the heartland of Pennsylvania is a little community called “Green Point”. Maybe I’m just a nostalgic guy but I would love to put myself back in those days when the world was a much simpler place. No interstate highways with cars and trucks racing back and forth across the land, no cell phones, no people staring mindlessly into their smart phones, no computers, no big chain stores. No Fed Ex! Are you with me? Could you go there? Oh yeah, I could go there. People would wave to you when passing on the street walking or driving. They would actually KNOW their neighbors by name and everything you needed was either on your property or within a short walking distance.

Take a long look at what you see in the picture. Among many things you should see is a One Room school, a church, 3 houses, plowed fields, a garden, livestock buildings and out of the picture just down the road to the right was a AJ Wolfe’s General Store. All the things a family needed to survive was located in just a half square mile! This was a quiet place and smack dab in the middle was what my friend a gravestone maker calls “The Quiet City” or a cemetery.

The Quiet City is a leveling kind of place. There’s no talking there, no putting on airs, no criticizing, no family squabbles. Stroll through this one and you will find stalwarts of the community, generations of family laid side by side under the same last name, the rich and the poor, plus you will find Henry Wise (Blue Eyed Six & The Faith – Chp 2 (Henry Wise) a notorious member of the “Blue Eyed Six” gang buried there after his hanging in the late 19th century. You will also find a meager set of stones of a husband and wife and their 3 small children all of which went into the presence of the Lord before reaching their one year birthday. No older offspring are found, just the three little ones. The Quiet City doesn’t speak but you can imagine for this couple who tried and tried to have children the heartache, the tears, the anticipation of another child and yet their hopes were shattered again, and again.

Is this all there is? Is there no hope for the Quiet City? Is there no place to find answers to the hard questions of life? Oh yes my friend, there is hope and there are answers! Smack dab in the middle of The Quiet City the white shining church steeple points heavenward and the bell cries out come! Come where you will hear of hope and of the path to righteousness and reconciliation with your fellow-men and to your God from the Sacred Page. Come and learn that even the criminal will have his chance for repentance and forgiveness. Come and hear King David’s words of faith to the young couple who lost 3 children, that if King David would see his infant son in eternity, then they too will through faith in Jesus see their children as well, and at last understand the ways and purposes of the sometimes hard paths of the Creator.

O yes, there is Hope in the Quiet City and in that place Jesus walks with us and talks with us and He tells us we are His own. And He tarrys there like none other to reach, to love, to give hope and eternity to his beloved.

Jesus said, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man opens the door I will come in to him and dine with him and he with me”. Revelation 3:20

More faith building messages here: New Blog Index

The Hands of Jesus

I was writing some thank you notes this morning to people who showed me kindness at my recent retirement party. It suddenly came to me that some of these people are the very same ones who took in my brothers and me when were in effect homeless as young boys in a single parent home (you can read more about that in my blog “Bud’s Haven”) when the thought came to me that they were being the hands of Jesus and were even ministering to Him! Here are Jesus’ words:

‘For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me…’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ (select passages from Matthew Chp. 25)


Isn’t this what our world needs today? So many needs, so many people needing a friend, a place to live, food for the table, a ride to a doctor’s appointment, on and on it goes. We can be the hands of Jesus and if we open our eyes to the needs around us we will see them. They may even come to us like a young man from my neighborhood did the other night. He is going through some troubles in his home and marriage and because I had shared the Gospel with him many months ago he thought of me. He unburdened his heart and I shared my advice and then I once again shared Jesus with him. This time he opened his heart and trusted Christ as his Savior! I’m sure the angels were rejoicing in heaven and I covet your prayers for him and me as I help him in the coming weeks and months get grounded in the Word of God.

Jesus left this world after his resurrection and passed the baton to His disciples and to us. We are the hands and feet of Jesus, there is no else, there is no other plan. Be Jesus to someone, share Jesus with someone today!