Fred (Frederick Charles) Brenckman.

History of Carbon County, Pennsylvania; also containing a separate account of the several boroughs and townships in the county, online

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Online LibraryFred (Frederick Charles) BrenckmanHistory of Carbon County, Pennsylvania; also containing a separate account of the several boroughs and townships in the county, → online text (page 25 of 44)
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1876. There were but thirty members at the time of or-
ganization, and for a time the church had no regular
pastor. Its first regular pastor was Rev. Lewis Smith,
who took charge on October 1st, 1883. Rev. W. Penn
Barr accepted the pastorate of this congregation in
1903. During the following year the church building
was remodeled at a cost of $7,000.

Christ Episcopal church had its beginnings during
the eighties. Meetings were first conducted in Oak
Hall, where the congregation and Sunday school was
organized. Mrs. Emma J. Blakslee Pryor was one of
the most influential persons in the establishment of this
congregation. In 1888 the present church building was


Bethesda Evangelical church was erected in 1890 on
land donated by Dr. J. B. Tweedle and Daniel Yeakel.

The Holiness Christian Association gained a footing
here in 1896, following a series of open air meetings.
A house of worship was put up in the same year.

One of Weatherly's institutions which is believed to
be unique is the town cane, given as a badge of honor by
the people of the borough to the oldest male resident of
the community. This custom was established in 1907,
and its originator was J. F. Kressley, a former chief
burgess of the town. The present holder of the cane,
and the first to whom the honor has come, is Lewis
Flickinger, who was born in Mahoning township, Car-
bon county, on December 3, 1818. It is provided that
upon the death of the person entitled to possess the
cane, it shall become the duty of the chief burgess pub-
licly to present it to the oldest man remaining a resi-
dent of the borough. The cane is of beautiful work-
manship and bears an appropriate inscription.


While Weissport is one of the smaller boroughs of
Carbon county, it nevertheless occupies a conspicuous
position in the early history of this portion of the state.
It is bounded on the north, east and south by Franklin
township, to which it formerly belonged, and on the
west by the Lehigh river. Like Lehighton, its sister
borough on the opposite bank of the Lehigh, Weiss-
port was first settled by the Moravian missionaries. A
portion of the original tract of land purchased by the
Moravians in 1745, and on which Gnadenhiitten mission
was established, near the mouth of the Mahoning, in
1746, extended across the river and embraced the north-
ern part of the present site of Weissport.


In 1754, the mission was removed from Gnadenhiit-
ten to the spot where Weissport now stands, and the
place became known as New Gnadenhiitten. While the
principal settlement was now located on the eastern
bank of the river, its parent on the Mahoning was not
entirely deserted.

But scarcely had the new community been ushered
into being when those remaining at Gnadenhiittten were
attacked by Indians and most of their number slain.
This occurrence prompted the missionaries and their
Mohegan and Delaware converts, numbering several
hundred, to desert New Gnadenhiitten, and flee to Beth-
lehem for safety.

The Indian massacre took place on the evening of the
24th of November, 1755 ; during the month of January,
1756, Benjamin Franklin built Fort Allen, which stood
on the present site of the hotel of that name. A short
distance to the rear of the hotel may still be seen the
well which was dug under Franklin's supervision. It
was within the enclosure of the fort, and supplied the
soldiers of the garrison with water.

Having served the purpose for which it was erected,
Fort Allen was evacuated in January, 1761, and it was
not until nearly a quarter of a century afterwards that
the permanent settlement of Weissport was begun.
The place is named in honor of its founder. Colonel
Jacob Weiss, a veteran of the Eevolutionary War, who
was a native of Philadelphia.

Colonel Weiss first visited the locality in 1784, and
soon thereafter purchased seven hundred acres of land
between what is now Parryville and Long Run from the
Moravians. The land was heavily timbered and his
object in making the purchase was to engage in lumber-
ing operations. He erected a log house for his own use
on the identical site of Franklin's fort, besides building


a saw mill and a house for the man whom he employed
as his sawyer, John Eoth.

In 1785, Weiss brought his family, consisting of his
wife, two children, and his mother-in-law, to the new
home. At the time of his coming the Arners, Solts and
Hoeths were already settled along the Poho Poco creek,
several miles to the eastward, while the Dodsons and a
few other families lived in the valley of the Mahoning,
on the opposite side of the river.

The land was soon denuded of its timber, and in a
few years fields were cleared and planted. Colonel
Weiss purchased other large tracts in the vicinity, and
was engaged in lumbering on an extensive scale for
many years.

Farming proved rather an unprofitable occupation at
first, however, because the soil was rough and barren,
while frosts during the growing season, due in large
measure to the moisture of the forests, were of com-
mon occurrence.

On the night of October 6, 1786, Colonel Weiss and
his family narrowly escaped being drowned when the
Lehigh suddenly and unexpectedly overflowed its
banks, spreading all over the flats about the little set-
tlement. Near the hour of midnight the family was
aroused by the wailing cry, ''We are surrounded!"
Years had gone by since last the region had been vis-
ited by hostile Indians ; but the first thought suggested
by this signal of distress was that a war party had
fallen upon them, bent on murder and pillage.

As soon as the true nature of the situation was un-
derstood, hasty preparations were made to escape to
the nearby hills. All of the family excepting Colonel
Weiss and his wife were driven to a place of safety in
a wagon. The Colonel made his escape on horseback,
while his wife was borne to higher ground in an arm
chair by some of the men of the settlement.


Near the river stood a house occupied by a man
named Tippey, his wife and two children. They were
less fortunate than their neighbors. Their dwelling
was swept from its foundations by the fast-rising flood,
and was carried away by the current. In this ex-
tremity the parents clung protectingly to the children
until the house struck a tree, about a mile down the
river, when the little ones were washed to destruction.
Tippey and his wife caught hold of the limbs of the
tree and were rescued in a canoe by one of Colonel
Weiss' men, who had been a sailor. This event came
to be known as '' Tippey 's Flood."

About the year 1800, settlers began to pour into the
region west of the Lehigh, and this gave rise to agita-
tion for the construction of a bridge across the river
at Weissport. The bridge was built by Northampton
county, of which Carbon then formed a part, in 1805,
the cost of the structure being about $3,000. Follow-
ing its erection, the road leading from Bethlehem to
Gnadenhiitten, which was built by the Moravians, more
than fifty years before this time, was extended to
Lausanne, at the mouth of the Nesquehoning creek, a
short distance above the point where Mauch Chunk is
now situated. In 1808 this road became a part of the
Lehigh and Susquehanna turnpike, connecting Berwick
and Easton. The original bridge at Weissport was
partially wrecked by the flood of 1841, but, after being
repaired, stood until 1862, when it was entirely swept
away. It was then rebuilt, and has since been main-
tained by the county.

In 1827, when the building of the Lehigh Canal was
begun, there were but a few houses at Weiss' Mill, as
the place was then designated. It was at first planned
by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company to locate
the canal on the west side of the river ; Colonel Weiss,


however, offered the company a free right of way-
through his lands on the opposite bank, and this re-
sulted in the canal being built on the east side of the
river. Weiss and his sons then made a town plot, pro-
viding for lots, streets, and a public square. About
forty lots were soon disposed of, being sold on the plan
of a lottery for seventy-five dollars each. By this ar-
rangement the holder of each ticket was entitled to a
lot, the only uncertainty attending its purchase being
with reference to its location.

The public square, which to-day is one of the chief
attractions of the place, was presented to the town by
Colonel Weiss. The building of houses was begun in
earnest with the completion of the canal through here
in 1829. The tavern now known as the Weissport
House was built in that year by Peter Snyder, and oc-
cupied by Daniel Heberling, its first landlord.

Weiss was now burdened with age and infirmities,
and the active control of his affairs devolved upon his
sons, Francis and Thomas. The former was a sur-
veyor, doing most of the surveying in this region for
many years.

About 1832, Lewis Weiss, one of the sons of Thomas
Weiss, began the building of boats along the canal for
the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company and for the
Morris Canal and Banking Company. In 1836 he
opened the first store in Weissport, continuing the
business for more than twenty years. Another store
was opened by Daniel Heberling, about the center of
the town, in 1838. He, too, remained in business for
an extended period of time. One of the successful
boat builders in the early history of the place was
Andrew Graver, who came here from Lehighton in
1836. He retired in 1877. Nathan Snyder opened a
boat yard in 1846 which he conducted until 1872. The


rolling mill established by Lewis Weiss in 1855 was one
of the leading industries of the town for nearly thirty
years. This plant, which had several times been en-
larged, was last owned and operated by William Lilly
and Company, being closed down in 1883.

Weissport has witnessed the establishment of a num-
ber of manufacturing enterprises which contributed
greatly to the prosperity and up-building of the town,
but which, for various reasons have ceased to exist.
One of these enterprises was conducted by the Lehigh
Valley Emery Wheel Company, which was organized
in 1874 with a capital stock of thirty thousand dollars.
The industry had flourished in a small way some years
prior to the organization of the company. Among its
leading spirits were William Lilly, who served as presi-
dent of the company until his death, which occurred in
1893; J. G. Zern, W. C. McCormick, L. E. Wills, W. E.
Butler, and others. The operations of the company
covered a period of about twenty-six years.

The Fort Allen Foundry was established by William
and C. D. Miner in 1874. It prospered for a time, but
has now been closed for many years.

About 1890 Fred Horlacher, Charles Wolters and
others formed the Carbon County Improvement Com-
pany, which conducted a planing mill, facing mill, an
artificial ice plant, and an electric light plant, which
furnished light for both Weissport and Lehighton.
The company failed after a time, and the property
passed to the control of a party of Mauch Chunk capi-
talists, headed by James I. Blakslee. The flood of
1901 destroyed the buildings of the company and they
were not replaced.

The silk-throwing mill which is now in operation
here was established by A. L. Storms and William G.
Miller. Miller has since withdrawn from the partner-


ship, his interest having been purchased by Nathan
Everett. This and the Eureka Manufacturing Com-
pany, a furniture making concern controlled by J. W.
Heller, represent the only industries now situated in
the town.

Many of Weissport's people are employed in the
Packerton shops of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Com-
pany ; a smaller number work for the Central Railroad
Company of New Jersey, the line of which passes
through the town. Others are employed in the boat
yards of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company,
situated just across the canal in East Weissport; some
follow boating on the canal as an occupation, while a
certain number earn the means of a livelihood in the
zinc works at Hazard.

Owing to its low situation, Weissport has suffered
severely from the floods which at various times have
destroyed life and property along the Lehigh river.
The most disastrous of these floods were those of 1841,
1862, and 1901. In the freshet of 1862 scarcely a house
in the place escaped being damaged by the water.
Eighty-nine buildings of all descriptions were then
destroyed, while wrecks of bridges, broken canal boats,
lumber, saw logs, and debris of every variety covered
the site of the town. Four residents of Weissport
were drowned in this flood. There were two floods in
1901 — one during the latter part of August, and the
other in December. Most of the place was submerged
on both occasions, and heavy property losses were sus-

The postoffice here was established in 1850, Alex-
ander Lentz being the first postmaster. Two rural
mail routes having this office for their starting point,
and running eastward through Franklin township
toward the Monroe county line were instituted in 1903.


Weissport was incorporated as a borough on June
3, 1867. The population of the place in 1870 was 359.
Each decennial census since then has shown some
growth, and in 1910 the number had risen to 638. In
this connection it should be remembered, too, that the
borough line extends only to the canal, much of the
town lying east of this in Franklin township.

The first schoolhouse in Weissport was erected in
1838, its cost being $400. It stood near the river, and
was swept away by the flood of 1841. A small, one-
story octagonal stone building was erected in its place.
This structure is still standing upon its original site,
being now used as the town lock-up. It was used for
school purposes until 1865. The old church of the
Evangelical Association was also utilized as a school
house from 1853 to 1862, being destroyed by the flood
of that year. The present building, accommodating all
the schools of the borough, was built in 1865.

Weissport to-day has two hotels. The first to be
erected has already been mentioned as having been
built by Peter Snyder, and occupied by Daniel Heber-
ling, in 1829. It is now conducted by Eobert Hongen,
being known as the Weissport House. The meetings of
town council are held here, the borough having no
building of its own.

The Fort Allen House was built in 1857 by Edward
Weiss, son of Colonel Jacob Weiss. It occupies the site
of the old log house which the colonel erected in 1785,
and stands within the limits of the stockade for which
it was named.

One of the interesting buildings of Weissport is
Jacob's Eeformed church. Before the construction of
this edifice, the only church building this congregation
has ever owned, the Reformed and Lutheran people
worshipped under the trees along the Lehigh river.


This congregation is undoubtedly an outgrowth of the
Gnadenhiitten mission, this fact having been attested
to by early residents of the place. The church was
built in co-operation by the Reformed and Lutheran
denominations. The congregations were formally or-
ganized under a tree, near the spot where the church
now stands, on August 1, 1838, under the leadership of
Rev. Cyrus Becker, representing the Reformed ele-
ment, and Rev. F. W. Meendsen, an indefatigable
worker in the cause of the Lutheran church throughout
the Lehigh Valley.

At this meeting Jacob Weiss (hence the name
Jacob's) presented a lot on which to build the church.
In addition to this he gave an acre of ground on the
hill to the east of the canal for a burial ground. The
Presbyterian denomination was also intended to share
in the gift; but the adherents of that faith forfeited
their rights by not taking part in the building of the
church, which was completed and occupied on Christ-
mas Day in 1839. The church was jointly owned until
1893, when the Reformed jDcople bought out the Lu-
therans' interest for the sum of $1,300. In the same
year the congregation began to remodel the building,
which work was finished several years later.

The church is one of the few buildings of Weissport
which withstood the various floods that have wrought
such havoc in the town. The building was not yet
finished when, in January, 1839, Colonel Weiss died at
the advanced age of nearly eighty-nine years. He was
the first to be buried in the cemetery on the hill, where
his remains repose.

Ebenezer church of the Evangelical Association
dates back to the year 1833, when the first services of
this denomination were here conducted. The congre-
gation was founded in 1835 by Rev. J. M. Saylor and


Kev. Jacob Reigel. A church building was erected on
the site of the present school house, and was occupied
until 1853, when the present house of worship was
begun. Under Rev. Moses Dissinger, in 1870, the
church became a regular station ; up to this time it was
either a mission or a part of a circuit. The congrega-
tion was quite prosperous until the division in the As-
sociation took place; a majority of its membership
then left the mother church and built a new one a short
distance across the canal in Franklin township. Since
then the church has again been conducted as a mission.

St. Paul 's Evangelical Lutheran church was built in
1893, the corner stone having been laid on the 6th of
August of that year. The early history of this congre-
gation has already been given in connection with that
of Jacob's Reformed church.

Weissport is furnished with water by the Lehighton
Water Supply Company, while the town is also electri-
cally lighted by the plant of its sister borough.

The Weissport National Bank, having a capital
stock of $25,000, was opened for business on July 1,

Its president is Milton Snyder, while W. H. Straus-
burger is the cashier of the institution.


Biographical Sketches

Bachman, Griffith H., a veteran of the Civil War,
and a retired locomotive engineer, living at Weatherly,
springs from one of Pennsylvania's oldest families.
The first of his ancestors coming to America served as
a secretary of William Penn, from whom he received
for his services the two townships in Lehigh and North-
ampton counties, now known as Upper and Lower Sau-

He was the progenitor of the Bachman family as it
is found in the Lehigh Valley to-day, and his de-
scendants are scattered throughout many states of the

John Peter Bachman, the father of the subject of
this notice, was born at Cherryville, Northampton
county, Pa., in 1796. He was a shoemaker by trade
and also tilled a small farm. His companion in life
bore the maiden name of Mary Magdalene Fenster-
macher, who was three years his junior. They became
the parents of nine children, three of whom survive:
James, of Eldora, Iowa; Daniel, of Wilkes-Barre, Pa.,
and Griffith, of Weatherly.

Griffith H. Bachman was born at Cherryville, the
home of his ancestors for generations, on November
21, 1834, growing to maturity at Parryville, Carbon

In 1855 he came to Weatherly, entering the employ
of the Beaver Meadow Railroad Company as a brake-
man. He continued in this capacity until the breaking
out of the Rebellion, when he enlisted in the army, be-
ing enrolled as a member of Company G., Eighty-first
Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. This



regiment, which was largely recruited from Carbon
county, is rated as seventh among the celebrated
' ' Fighting Eegiments ' ' of the Union Army. Out of a
total of thirteen hundred men and officers upon its
honored rolls, it sustained over a thousand casulties.
Mr. Bachman served through the Peninsular cam-
paign, and was honorably discharged as a corporal on
February 16, 1863, owing to disability. When Penn-
sylvania was invaded, later in the same year, having
recuperated, he re-enlisted, becoming a corporal in
the Thirty-fourth Eegiment. After a short term of
service, he was again honorably discharged.

Eeturning to civil life, he resumed railroading at
Weatherly, and when the Beaver Meadow Eailroad
was absorbed by the Lehigh Valley, he was retained
by the latter company.

From 1865 to 1893 he was an engineer. In the lat-
ter year he participated in a general strike as a mem-
ber of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. La-
ter he was dismissed from the service of the company,
ostensibly because of his advanced age, but in reality,
as he thinks, because of his prominence as a promoter
of the strike.

Since then he has lived in retirement in a pleasant
home which he built in 1875.

Mr. Bachman has served as a member of the council
of the borough, and is a member of the Eeformed

He is a charter member of Colonel James Miller
Post, Grand Army of the Eepublic, being also identified
with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, while still
retaining his membership in the Brotherhood of Loco-
motive Engineers.

On March 10, 1864, he was married to Mary E.
Graver, of Weatherly. They became the parents of

1 PlIBl .>hAKf




two children, Hari*y E. and Ida J., the wife of John
H. Daubert. Mrs. Bachman died March 7, 1872, and
on April 3, 1873, he wedded Mrs. Lucy Greenewalt, nee
Hmnm, of Bucks county, Pa., whose first husband was
also a veteran of the Rebellion. Her death occurred
on October 3, 1911.

Baer, Eugene W., one of the most conspicuous fig-
ures in Carbon county's business and industrial affairs,
is the principal stockholder and president of the Baer
Company, which operates a large silk mill at Lehigh-

He was born at Paterson, New Jersey, September 9,
1868, his parents, Jacob F. and Louise (Blattner)
Baer, being natives of Switzerland.

Jacob F. Baer was born November 27, 1836, and was
educated in the schools of his native country, learning
the trade of a silkmaker under the direction of his
father, John F. Baer.

In 1856, being then twenty years of age, he emigrated
to America, hoping to find in the new world better op-
portunities for advancement and the achievement of
success than the old afforded. He located in New
York city, where for a short period he was engaged in
the silk business, later taking up his permanent resi-
dence at Paterson, New Jersey, where he prospered in
his chosen field as a manufacturer of silk, having be-
gun in a small way.

He suffered heavy financial losses in the panic which
followed the failure of Jay Cooke & Company in 1873,
and was obliged by force of circumstances to discon-
tinue operations.

For several years subsequent to this period he
served in managerial capacities in a number of large
silk mills. The year 1888 found him again engaged in
business on his own account, having established the


Helvetia Silk Mills, numbered to-day among the lead-
ing industrial enterprises of Paterson.

Jacob F. Baer was married in 1858, his children
being as follows: Frederick A., Ealph, Eugene, Wil-
liam A., Lewis C, Anna, Louise and Rose L. Baer.

The father died on November 29, 1905.

Eugene W. Baer is a product of the public schools,
beginning his business career at the age of fourteen
as an employe of J. Walder, a manufacturer of silk
mill supplies, with whom he remained for two years.
Subsequently he spent a year with the firm of Ulrich
& Company, engaged in the same line of business, after
which he served an apprenticeship of three and a half
years with the Eastwood Company, builders of textile
machinery. From 1888 until 1896 he was in the employ
of his father in the Helvetia Mills in Paterson. It
was during this period that Mr. Baer gained the prac-
tical experience in the various departments of silk
manufacture upon which his success has been built.
The mechanical knowledge which he gained during the
term of his apprenticeship here stood him in good
stead, and being of an inventive turn of mind, he insti-
tuted various new processes and devices.

He had now come to the point at which every man of
force and originality arrives sooner or later. Serving
in a subordinate capacity was no longer congenial to
him, and he yearned to employ his energies and abil-
ities unhampered by the will of a superior. Accord-
ingly he formed the firm of Eugene W. Baer & Com-
pany, and set up a silk spinning manufactory at River-

Online LibraryFred (Frederick Charles) BrenckmanHistory of Carbon County, Pennsylvania; also containing a separate account of the several boroughs and townships in the county, → online text (page 25 of 44)