History of the Knauss Homestead

Welcome to the Knauss Homestead. This is brief history of the Knauss Homestead and its inhabitants.


1723 - The Knauss family originated in Dudelsheim, Germany and arrived in America in 1723, settling in Whitemarsh Township, PA 

The Knauss property was part of tracts of land (approximately 400 acres) bought by Sebastian H. Knauss, from the Honorable Thomas and Richard Penn, Esqs. the Proprietors and Governors in Chief of the Province of Pennsylvania, by patent or grant. These Records are on file in the office of the Department of Internal Affairs of Pennsylvania at the State Capitol Building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  Sebastian, along with Jacob Ehrenhardt Sr. donated property for the establishment of the Moravian community of Emmaus.

Click here for a pdf of a more complete history and genealogy of the Knauss family in America


1777 - Since arriving in Pennsylvania, Sebastian Knauss actually acquired several residences and ample land in the Emmaus area. His last residence was The Knauss Homestead, located on Main Street.  The house was built in 1777 by Sebastian’s eldest son, Henry (aka Henrich and Heinrich) on 35 acres of land and constructed of logs in the style of German homes of that period. The home had a center chimney and a clear path from front to back door.


The home was lived in consistently for 158 years by a member of the Knauss family. Seven generations were born here. Many fixtures, such as the door hinges, nails in floorboards, window sashes, curved glass in window panes and slate roof are original with some dating to the Revolutionary period.

Revolutionary soldiers marched or were carried past the house on the way to the hospital which was set up at the time at the church in the village. One can only guess at the fantastic memories the house holds as it witnessed the sons of the community being sent off to the Civil War, World War I, and World War II, the Korean, Viet Nam and Persian Gulf conflicts. Also, the changes in Emmaus from a congregational village to a borough in 1859 and children of the neighborhood joyously searching for their Easter nests in the area surrounding the house.

MaryEllen (Adrian) Knauss, widow of Herman Knauss, was the last Knauss to live there until her death in 1931.

1859 - Knauss family members and others started building homes in the area. Then a community Church was built followed by a boarding school. Sebastian Knauss, commonly known as the "Founder of Emmaus", then donated land designated for Emmaus to be become an established town in 1859.

1931 - Seven generations of the Knauss family lived in the Homestead. The last known descendant to have lived in the home was Mary allen (Adrain) Knauss, widow of Herman Knauss, until her death in 1931 at the age of 81.


1935 - Dewey Marcks then purchased the property in 1935 at auction for his sister, Verna. Verna chose to reside at her family’s home near the Triangle. The house was used as a “hunter’s cabin” or “week-end retreat”.  The Marcks family remodeled the house adding the chair rail, indoor plumbing, electricity, an oil furnace and exposing the beams in the parlor. They changed the façade of the kitchen fireplace and added cabinets.


The house was vacant from 1972 – 1992 when the property was acquired from the Marcks estate along with 35 acres surrounding the house and barn by the 
Borough of Emmaus. During this time, The Knauss Homestead was incorporated into the National Registry of Historical Landmarks.


The Knauss Homestead was cared for by volunteers for many years using their own resources until 2016 when The Knauss Homestead Preservation Society was officially formed. The Knauss Homestead Preservation Society is a 501c3 Non Profit Organization whose members are dedicated to preserving this tangible connection to Emmaus’ beginnings for the enrichment and enjoyment of future generations.

NOTE: The Knauss Homestead Preservation Society is a tax-exempt, non-profit organization and is supported by donations left by people who pass through and members of the Preservation Society. Many projects are completed by volunteers. Your donations are welcome appreciated and very much needed.