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LEVY, AARON:

Revolutionary patriot; founder of Aaronsburg, Pa.; born in Amsterdam in 1742; died in Philadelphia Feb. 23, 1815. He went to America at an early age and settled in Pennsylvania, his name appearing in the first tax-assessment lists of Northumberland county. He engaged in trade with the Indians and furnished supplies to the proprietary government, and, during the war of the Revolution, to the colonial army. In 1778 Levy signed a memorial of the inhabitants of Northumberland county asking help on account of the British and Indian ravages in the vicinity. In the same year he removed to Lancaster, engaging in business with Joseph Simon. He speculated in land in Pennsylvania, and soon became one of the largest landed proprietors, owning immense tracts in nearly every county in the state. During the war he released to the state twelve tracts in Luzerne county; later hepetitioned the government requesting that they be either paid for or returned to him (see letter dated Aug. 26, 1801, in Pennsylvania State Archives, second series, xviii. 347, 442).

Robert Morris, the financier of the Revolution, was Levy's partner in many of these speculations, and borrowed considerable sums of money from him, acknowledgment of the indebtedness being made at the time of Morris' bankruptcy. Through the influence of Morris, Levy loaned a large amount of money to the Continental Congress for the purpose of carrying on the war. This money was never fully repaid (see letter in reference to these loans in the Journals of Congress, March 29, 1781). It was after the war that he engaged in his greatest speculation in land, with which his name will always be connected. In 1779 he bought a large tract of land in Center county, Pa., upon which he laid out the town of Aaronsburg, the earliest town in the county, the plan of which was recorded at Sunbury on Oct. 4, 1786; it is the first town in the United States that was planned by, and named after, a Jew. Aaron Levy was one of the original members of the Congregation Mickvé Israel, Philadelphia. He died without issue. See Aaronsburg.

Bibliography:
  • Isabella H. Rosenbach and Abraham S. Wolf Rosenbach, in Publ. Am. Jew. Hist. Soc. No. 2, 1894, pp. 157-163;
  • Pennsylvania Colonial Records; Pennsylvania Archives;
  • John Blair Linn, History of Center County.
A. A. S. W. R.
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