Gehr figures prominently in Muhlenberg's writing after the funeral of his wife's mother, Anna Reiff. Gehr's wife, Anna Maria, named for her mother, had been "attached to the Evangelical (Lutheran) Church," which means Muhlenberg perhaps heard firsthand the distress Gehr put his wife through by his behavior. This distress doubled because at that time Anna Maria's mother lived with her daughter and was also subject to these shenanigans. After that she moved and lived to end of her life with her son Jacob. Muhlenberg says:
"During my first years here [1742 and following] she was living with her daughter in Germantown…for the sake of her daughter the distressed old widow stayed at the former's home…she was obliged to listen to many a blasphemous utterance and witness many an offense on the part of her son-in-law, who was Reformed by birth, but in this country not only forsook the Word of God and the other means of grace, but also despised and ridiculed them" (I, 352).
Muhlenberg had three informants on Gehr, Gehr's wife Anna (née Reiff, Hans George's daughter), her mother, Anna, who lived with her, whose funeral Muhlenberg conducted, and George Stoltz, who told of the incident of a fire in the adjoining house.
Muhlenberg stipulates that the "offenses" included, that "the said man maintained a public house and it occurred to him that he might institute a so-called assembly of worship in his house on Sundays. For this purpose he associated himself with a half-educated but totally perverted Christian who was to deliver a sermon or address on physic or natural science at every meeting. The auditors were obligated to pay three pence apiece each time, and this money was to be consumed in drink after the speech" (I, 353). Gehr was the brunt of gossip Muhlenberg had heard: "a trustworthy man named Georg Stoltz came to me and related the following incident. One evening he and a Swiss gentlemen were obliged to stop at the blasphemer's house and put up for the night. He went out of his way to annoy his two guests with sinful talk. Among other things he said that the context of nature is God, that the world came into existence by an accident in eternity, that the universe maintained itself, etc. What the parsons say about God, about a revealed religion, about a Saviour, and about heaven and hell, they have to say to make a living and in order to lead the masses by the nose."
New Born ideas were a metaphysic to this tavern milk, even if it sounds like Paine's Age of Reason (1795) or other enlightenment doctrines. Such attitudes were early 18th century and German, the specific form that Mittelberger, in his Journey to Pennsylvania (1756) singled out against Conrad Reiff. But these were not isolated from other reversals of order in PA, from Wohlfarth and Beissel [of Epherta] standing on the court house steps to argue which day of the week was the sabbath (Sachse, German Sectarians, I, 154) to Gehr's substitution of tavern for church, science for scripture and the price of a drink for the offering. These suggest that the 1701 Blue Law of the General Court of Germantown was not being enforced which said: "no inn-keepers on the first day called Sunday in God's service, shall hold gatherings of guests. . .on pain of whatever penalty the court of record shall inflict" (Pennypacker, Germantown, 283).
Although Muhlenberg does not name it thus, such views easily mask themselves as naturalism. Gehr's satire is very much in the Newborn manner, like Conrad Reiff and those others to whom the sacraments were "ridiculous and their expressions concerning them are extremely offensive" (Muhlenberg), who uttered "such blasphemous words against our Saviour" (Boehm), who theatrically mocked preachers in parody (Mittelberger), who "despise preachers, churches and sacraments without discrimination" (Muhlenberg), who scoff that manure is life and pig the destiny of the soul. The Newborn catechism was as active in the tavern of Gehr as in the township of Oley except that Gehr went his brother-in-law one better and mixed the scoff with drink.
Tavern philosophy is reported in practically every contemporary account of the Newborn. Gehr's metaphysic implicates both brother and brother-in-law in the Newborn practice. While Boehm's summary of the sects names Puritans, Baptists and Pietists it is really the Newborn of Gehr's metaphysic that he exposes:
"Independents, Puritans, Anabaptists, Newborn, Saturday-folks, yea even the most horrible heretics, Socinians, Pietists, etc., among whom dreadful errors prevail; indeed heinous blasphemies against our great God and Savior and their own exaltation over His Majesty; for they claim that they have essential divinity in themselves; that they cannot sin…they believe there is no other heaven or hell than what is here on earth; they even deny Divine Providence, and assert that nothing needs God's blessing, but that all products of the ground and all offspring of animals and of the human race, come simply from nature, without any care on the part of God, and that prayer also is useless. (Life and Letters, (1728) 161."
Oley and the Newborn influenced Conrad Reiff, brothers Peter and George and Jacob's daughter Catherine, all who either lived there or owned land there. Spiritually the effects of Oley were more serious upon Conrad Reiff's mother and sister (Anna Maria and Anna) through the aforesaid sister's husband Conrad Gehr. The connection between Gehr and Conrad Reiff involves Gehr's experience of the Newborn, which is as important as Conrad's because they flesh out the satirical Newborn beliefs and show the influence in the family. Genealogist Harry Reiff says the "family knew about Conrad's (Gehr) peccadilloes, as indicated in the will of Hans George's son, George (d.1759), who died leaving a legacy to nephew Baltazar with an admonition not to permit his father, Conrad Gehr, to have any of the legacy" (Letter of 2/13/2002).
The conflicted Balthaser Gehr, son of Anna Reiff II and Conrad Gehr, (mentioned in PA supreme court case, (see genealogy here) also probably attended these views, but he had fiduciary and legal care of his cousin Philip Reiff, Conrad’s son, from 1786 to his death in 1815. Sort of like the son of the innkeeper in the Fellowship of the Ring, Balthaser Gehr (cf. Pendleton, 137, 147) married the daughter of that equally wealthy neighbor of Conrad Reiff, Antony Jaeger. In 1767 Jaeger's "sons Daniel and Henry, and his son-in-law Balthaser Gehr were tried for assault and battery on the Jaegers' lifelong neighbor, miller Heinrich Kerst. A neighbor, Jacob Silvious, also stood trial for coming to Kerst's defense" (Pendleton, 147). As said, Balthaser exercised a power of attorney for his infirm cousin, Philip Reiff, second son of Conrad, in 1786 (Pendleton, 137). But in more outbreaks of the lawless, Baltes too went Oley.
The disposition of another son of Gehr, Philip, is unknown, who appears in the ledger of the Old Salford Store (c. 1766-1774), reported as, "Gehr, Philip; Conrad Gehr's son of Germantown" (John R. Tallis, The Perkiomen Region, II, 33). Conrad Gehr is also mentioned near the bottom of the will of Hans George Reiff (d. 1726), in a different handwriting than the will reads: "Cunrad Gehr married Anna," (Riffe, 20), suggesting this was written after probate. Gehr had been issued a patent by the land office for 34 acres in the Salfords in 1735, the same year as Garrett Clemens, Christopher Dock, Peter Wentz and Hans Reiff, among others (H. W. Kriebel in The Perkiomen Region, V, 11), but Heckler speculates he possibly was there confused with Conrad Custer (Heckler, Lower Salford, I, 13). Gehr had at least two sons. Baltazar, or Baltes Gehr served in the Pennsylvania legislature. He is mentioned in his uncle's will, (George Reiff) in 1759, "my will is after my sister's son Baltes should set up his trade, my wife shall give him twenty pounds to buy tools for it" (Riffe, 28). It should be noted that Anna was not called Anna Maria as her full name is suggested to be, but merely Anna, like her mother, who signed Anna in the Landes will and on the board in the attic.
There was also a Peter Gehr, d. 12 May 1764 at Ephrata Cloister mentioned in Chronicon (131).