Morton L. (Morton Luther) Montgomery.

Historical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families, comp. by Morton L. Montgomery .. online

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Online LibraryMorton L. (Morton Luther) MontgomeryHistorical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families, comp. by Morton L. Montgomery .. → online text (page 102 of 227)
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account, having continued to teach until he embarked in
the mercantile business. In the spring of 1S88 he formed a
partnership with Mr. Fidler under the firm name of Fidler
& Gerhart, this relation lasting for one year. Mr. Gerhart
then took Henry Miller into partnership with him, and
they did business together for thirteen years under the
name of Miller & Gerhart, being located on Robeson street,
in Robesonia. At the end of this period Mr. Miller, by
mutual consent of the partners, withdrew from the con-
cern, John I. Miller becoming a member of the firm, the
name of which remained unchanged. This association con-
tinued for two years, and in 1904 Mr. Gerhart formed a
partnership with M. A. Mover, under the name of Gerhart
& Moyer. 'J'hey enjoy the confidence and patronage of
the community to a gratifying degree, and have a high
reputation for enterprise and progress as well as honor-
able dealing. They carry a complete line of general mer-
chandise, and cater to a trade which extends over a radius
of fourteen miles around Robesonia.

Mr. Gerhart is a man of active disposition, and takes
part in the life of the community in lines outside of his
direct business interests. He is a stanch Democrat in
political opinion and willing to work for the success of his
party, has served as delegate to county and State conven-
tions, and has been elected to local offices of trust, having
been school director and tax collector of his township.
He is also prominent in church work, he and his family
being members of St. Paul's Reformed Church of Rob-
esonia, of which Mr. Gerhart is at present an elder. He
was most active in the erection of the present fine edifice,
in 1904, which cost the congregation over $15,000, serving
as a member of the building committee, of which he was
treasurer. He has been treasurer of the church ever
since its organization. It is very prosperous, and i\Ir. Ger-
hart has been one of its most devoted workers. Socially
he is a member of the Knights of Pythias, holding mem-
bership in Lodge No. 119, of Robesonia, of which he is
a past chancellor. He owns the Wagner Hall building, a
three-story brick block 30 x 60 feet in dimensions, .the first
and second stories of which are used by the firm of Ger-
hart & Moyer, and the third floor as the meeting place
of various secret societies. Mr. Gerhart also owns the
property adjoining this building on the north. Here he
razed the old building and built an addition to the store
30 X 50 feet in the rear and 15 x 60 on the north, making
the most up-to-date store in the Lebanon Valley. It is
lighted throughout by electricity, and is heated by steam.
He purchased both buildings in 1907. He also owns the
property across the street which he uses for his residence.

In May, 1887, Mr. Gerhart was married to Miss Annie
Fidler, daughter of William and Annie CKlopp) Fidler,
the former of whom was in business in Robesonia as a
manufacturer of cigar boxes. To Mr. and Mrs. Gerhart



have been born six children, namely : Estella M., Horace
(who died in infancy), Robert R., Luke W., Edna A. and
Lyman R. ilr. Gerhart is giving all his children good
educational advantages, being convinced of the value of
proper training. Estella M., a graduate of the township
high school, was married in May, 1908, to Walter V. R. High
(son of D. K. High), who with his brother Henry V. R.
High is engaged in the honey business at Bernville, where
they reside. Robert R. is a graduate of the township high
school, and the latter is also a graduate of the Interstate
Commercial College, of Reading, and now holds the re-
sponsible position of teller in the Wernersville National
Bank, at Wernersville. Luke W. is now attending the
Interstate Commercial College.

H. WILLIS BLAND. President Judge of the Orphans'
Court of Berks county, was born August 20, 1845, at Blan-
don, that county, a village which derives its name from his
paternal ancestors. He attended the public schools of
Birdsboro until he was thirteen years of age. On August
31, 1861, when he had barely reached the age of six-
teen, he enlisted at Philadelphia as a private in
Company H, 82nd Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, and
in the following year was promoted successively to cor-
poral and first sergeant. He served throughout the three
years' term of his enlistment, being mustered out Septem-
ber 16, 1864. The regiment was engaged principally in the
campaigns in Virginia, participating in a number of the
severest battles of the war, including those of Fair Oaks,
Malvern Hill, Antietam, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg.
After his army service, being thrown entirely upon his own
resources, he became a clerk in the office of the Phoenix
Iron Company at Phoenixville, Pa. He also acquired some
training as a machinist, and v/orked for a time as an appren-
tice to that trade in Philadelphia, meanwhile studying in the
evenings at a polytechnic school. Feeling himself physically
unfitted for hard manual labor, and choosing a professional
calling, he came to Reading in Februar.v, 1867, and com-
menced the study of the law in the ofifice of J. Howard Ja-
cobs, Esq., a widely known and extensive practitioner, and
after the necessary two years' course was admitted to the Bar
on April 12, 1369. Energetic and ambitious, he acquired
a substantial practice in both the criminal and civil courts.
Before and after his admission he participated actively in
politics, at first as a Republican, and subsequently to
1872, when Horace Greeley was the candidate of the Demo-
cratic party for President, as a Democrat.

A separate Orphans' court for the county of Berks
was created by the Act of June ID, 1883, and' at the gen-
eral election in the fall of that year Hiram H. Schwartz.
Esq., who had been the temporary appointee, was elected
judge for the term of ten years. Judge Schwartz hav-
ing died on August 25, 1S91. Judge Bland was on the 16th
of the following month appointed by Governor Pattison
to fill the vacancy, and in 1892 was elected for the full
term of ten years, beginning on the first Monday of Janu-
ary, 1893. At the end of that period he was" re-elected
for the term expiring in January, 1913.

During his practice at the Bar Judge Bland acquired
a reputation as an advocate of unusual eloquence and
marked ability. He was a close student, and his success
was due not alone to forensic talent, but to thorough
legal equipment as well. As a judge he has not disap-
pointed the promise of his career as a lawyer. The-
Orphans' court, though a forum concerned s'olelv with
the estates of decedents, and attracting a less degree of
public attention and spectacular interest than the co-ordi-
nate tribunals attended with trials by jurv. is neverthe-
less, in the end, of vital importance to everv member of
the community. The duties and responsibilities of its
presiding officer are conunensurate with the significance of
the trusts committed to his care. The oflfice of chancellor is
one of the highest dignity and consequence. In his judicial
career Judge Bland endeavors to measure up to the high
standard set by the historical shining lights of the Bench
whom he consistently emulates, and has abundantlv justified
the confidence which his constituency have reposed in him












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BIOGRAPHICAL



401



by repeated elections. As a citizen he is deservedly held
in universal public respect and esteem.

Outside of his official position he is connected with
various civic organizations for the uplifting of humanity.
His oratorical gifts are frequently called _ into service
upon public occasions; and on whatever topic he may be
designated to speak, his rhetoric is always scholarly and
forceful. In the cause of the surviving soldiers of the
Civil war he naturally takes a deep personal interest,
and in their most notable gatherings is usually selected
as their principal spokesman. He is affiliated with the
Grand Army of the Republic, being a member of Mc-
Lean Post, No. 16, of Reading.

CHARLES VOELKER has since 1905 been principal
owner of the Berks Manufacturing Corripany, of Reading,
and he has been long known as a business man of that
city, having conducted the "Farmers and Mechanics Ho-
tel," in West Reading, for a number of years. Mr. Voel-
ker is a native of Germany, born Oct. 12, 1856, in Feld-
karl, Bavaria. He was reared in the Fatherland, whence
he came to America in 1878, settling at once in Reading,
where for the most part he has since had his home. In
Germany he had learned the trade of a brewer, at which
he immediately found employment on his arrival in Read-
ing, in one of the leading breweries of the city. Later
he was engaged in the business on his own account, in
Pottstown, Montgomery Co., Pa., where he remained sev-
eral years, finally selling his interests in that line. Re-
turning to Reading in 1893 he entered the hotel business,
becoming proprietor of the "Farmers and Mechanics Ho-
tel," in West Reading, which he has since kept, findirig
the venture congenial and profitable. In July, 1905, in
company with his eldest Son, Charles T. Voelker, Mr.
Voelker purchased the plant and business of the Berks
Manufacturing Company, Ltd., at No. 154 Court street,
under the firm name of Charles Voelker & Son. At that
time the product of the factory, which consists of sun-
bonnets and aprons, amounted to about five hundred dozen
weekly. Under their enterprising management the weekly
output has been increased to fifteen thousand dozen, in
the manufacture of which steady employment is given to
forty hands. These goods are of high grade and excel-
lent workmanship, and are marketed through jobbers all
over the United States and Canada. The constantly grow-
ing trade has necessitated the erection of a new factory,
which is now in course of construction, and which will be
one of the finest manufacturing plants of its kind in the
city when completed. It is a brick building 34 x 100 feet
in dimensions, three stories and basement, and will be
equipped with the most reliable and up-to-date machinery
obtainable, every facility for the most expeditious dis-
patch of work compatible with the manufacture of high
class articles being included in the appointments. The
company are also adding to the working force from time
to time, finding considerable difficulty in keeping up with
a steady stream of orders. Mr. Charles Voelker, the
senior member of the firm, is a hard-working and re-
liable business man. He has been remarkably success-
ful in his latest venture, which is advancing to a place
among the appreciable industrial factors of the city. He
is a citizen of sterling merit, and though he takes no
active part in public affairs is public-spirited and interest-
ed in welfare of the city in which he found a fruitful field
for his efforts. He is a Democrat in politics, and a
Catholic in religious faith. Mr. Voelker married Caro-
line Rothenberger, like himself a native of Germany, and
eight children have been born to them: Charles T. (who
is in business with his father), Lewis, Edward, Mary,
CaTrie, Catherine, Anna and Joseph.

Charles T. Voelker, manager and part owner of the
Berks Manufacturing Company, was born in Reading
Jan. 39, 1884, and received his early education in the
schools of Pottstown, supplementing it with a course at
the Reading Business College. He is thoroughly fitted for
the superintendency of the plant, the marvelous growth of
which since it came under the present management is due
in a great measure to his executive abihty. He' is a youne
26



man of forceful personality and excellent business judg-
ment, and his energy has made itself felt in every de-
partment of the factory, which has made a most creditable
showing under his guiding hand.

AUGUSTUS M. BROWN, cashier of the First National
Bank of Mohnton, and one of the well-known and highly
respected citizens of Shillington, was born May 17, 1863,
at McKeansburg, Schuylkill Co., Pa., son of George and
Catherine (Mast) Brown.

John Brown, his grandfather, was born in Rockland
township, Berks county, where he followed the occupation
of a farmer and tailor, later moving to Schuylkill county
and purchasing a farm, on which he died at the age of
fifty-nine years. His wife's maiden name was Maul.
They had three children : Ephraim, who died in Schuyl-
kill county; George; and Charles, who died at Pottsville.

George Brown was born in Rockland township, Berks
county, and accompanied his father to Schuylkill county,
where he engaged in the lumber business, furnishing min-
ing timber. He also followed farming in Brunswick town-
ship, that county, but in 1871 he located in Amity town-
ship, Berks county, where until his death he engaged in
the milling business. Mr. Brown rriarried Catherine Mast,
daughter of John and Mary (Smith) Mast, and they had
these children : Charles ; George ; Frank ; Hannah, who
married Irving Hoppel and resides in Reading; Augustus
M., and Howard.

Augustus M. Brown attended the public schools of his
native district, also spending three sessions at Muhlen-
berg College, after which he entered the service of the
Penn National Bank, at Reading, as a messenger. Faithful
service and marked ability earned him promotion from
time to time, and he continued with this well known bank-
ing house for a period of twenty-three years. He was one
of the organizers of the First National Bank at Bernville,
Oct. 15, 1907, situated on Main street, on the bank's own
property, a tract of 120 x 350 feet. He became its cashier,
and held that position until March 1, 1909, when he re-
signed to become cashier of the First National Bank of
Mohnton, and he now resides at Shillington. Mr. Brown
is a self-made man and is recognized as one of the ablest
of Berks county's bankers. In politics he is a Republican,
and he is connected socially with Reading Lodge, No. 549,
F. & A. M., and the Royal Arcanum. He is a member of
Friedens Lutheran Church, where he has served as a
deacon and a teacher in the Sunday school.

Mr. Brown was married to Anna M. Eaches, daughter
of Huysinga and Emily (Behm) Eaches, and they have had
two children, Emily M. and George A.

REV. THOMAS THEOPHILUS lAEGER, for forty
years a preacher of the Gospel, died May 13, 1888, in Read-
ing, Pa. The Rev. Mr. laeger, who was born in Green-
wich township, Berks county, Aug. 29, 1836, came of a
long line of ministers of the Word of God, his great-
grandfather and grandfather having been ministers in
Germany, while his father, the late Rev. G. F. I. laeger,
was one of the best known and most beloved pastors in
the Lutheran Church in this section of the State.

Rev. G. F. I. laeger was born in Illigen, Wurtemberg,
Germany, and he received his literary training there, at-
tending several of the best universities. On coming to
America, in 1817, the Rev. Mr. laeger taught school for
one winter in Northampton county. Pa., and the following
year located in Berks county, where the remainder of his
life was spent. While teaching in the old schoolhouse near
Hamburg, he began to study for the ministry,- 'and he was
ordained in the Lutheran faith in 1819. He at once began
preaching, and he continued in active service until four
years prior to his death. At various times he had as many
as fifteen congregations in charge, and he was the pastor
of six congregations at the time of his death in 1874. When
he relinquished preaching the Rev. Mr. laeger had charge
of the White Church Lutheran congregation. From June,
1819, to 1874, he baptized nearly 7,000 children, gave cate-
chetical instruction to nearly 4,000 persons, married over
1,300, preached 2,500 funeral sermons, and gave communion



403



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA



to over 50,000 persons. The Rev. Mr. laeger died at his
residence on South Oak street, Hamburg, Berks county,
shortly after eleven o'clock, Sunday morning, Nov. 16, 1879,
being at this time the oldest member of the Pennsylvania
Ministerium. His funeral was largely attended, the Rev.
Mr. Groh, of Boyertown, preaching the sermon in German,
and the Rev. Dr. Fry, of Reading, in English. Rev. G,
F. I. laeger had preached his first sermon Oct. 18, 1818,
at Dunkel's Church, and he was there buried among the
people to whom he had given his labors for a period of
sixty-one years.

The Rev. Mr. laeger was married to Mary Audenreid, of
McKeansburg, Pa., and to them were born these children:
Rev. Thomas Theophilus; Samuel; William, of Baltimore;
and Lewis F., of California; Mrs. Jackson Levan, of Ham-
burg, Pa.; Mrs. James S. Berger, of Philadelphia; Mrs.
E. S. Salade, of Taraaqua.

Rev. Thomas Theophilus laeger pursued his prepara-
tory course and classical studies for about three years at
Mercersburg and Gettysburg, after which he entered upon
his theological course under the instruction of Rev. John
W. Richards, then pastor of St. John's Church, Easton,
Pa. During the summer of 1847 he received a license
(ad interim) from the president of the Ministerium of
Pennsylvania, to perform ministerial acts, which license
was renewed when he was received into the Ministerium
at its annual meeting in Easton in 1848. His ordination
took place in 1850, at the Synodical meeting at Pottsville,
Pa., and his. first regular charge was in Lancaster county,
Pa., where he served congregations in and around Brick-
erville, and Muddy Creek. He remained about two years
at the latter place and then removed to Womelsdorf, taking
charge of the congregations there and at Rehrersberg, and
later the churches at Myerstown, Bellemans, Reed, Bern
and North Heidelberg. In 1855 the Rev. Mr. laeger re-
moved to the city of Reading, where he served at various
times a large nvimber of congregations. At the time of
his death he had charge of the following Lutheran congre-
gations : Bern, Oley, Spies, Shalters and Kissinger churches.
His ministerial life covered forty continuous years, with
the exception of the years 1865, 1866 and 1867, when on
account of ill health he was forced to discontinue his
work. During his long labor in the Gospel he preached
5,258 sermons, baptized 6.263 children, performed 1,748
marriage ceremonies, officiated at 2,472 funerals, confirmed
3,608 catechumens, gave communion to 74,750 persons, and
prayed with the sick 2,860 times. On May 4, 1888, he had a
slight paralytic stroke, which was but the beginning of the
end, his death occurring May 13th, and he was interred
in Charles Evans cemetery.

On Dec. 14, 1848, the Rev. Mr. laeger married Mary A.
Palsgrove, of Mercersburg, Pa., and they had a family of
ten children, seven of whom died in infancy. The three
surviving are: Miss Nora S., who lives with her mother at
No. 522 Oley street, Reading; Mrs, Jefferson Snyder, of
Reading; and Mrs. John Kendig, of Philadelphia. The
Rev. Thomas T. laeger was justly considered one of Berks
county's representative men. The influences of his life
had always been in the direction of temperance, education
and morality. His services in the religious body in which
he labored so faithfully for so many years but cemented
more closely the bonds between him and his fellow men.
As a preacher he was fearless in the exposition of the
\Yord of God, and the fruitful results of his work brought
him comfort and encouragement in his declining years.

AMANDUS N. FEGLEY, M. D„ who has carried on
the practice of medicine at Oley Church, in Oley town-
ship, Berks county, since 1871, was born Sept. 16, 1842,
in Douglass township, Montgomery Co., Pa., son of Jonas
and Anna (Nyce) Fegley.

George Fegley, his grandfaher, was born in Douglass
township, where his father also lived, and there passed all
his life, engaged in farming. He was a member of the
Lutheran Church. His wife's maiden name was Fox, and
among their children were : Jonas, John, Daniel, Sallie,
and a daughter whose name is not recalled.



Jonas Fegley, born in June, 1800, died in May, 1861, in
the faith of the Lutheran Church. He was a farmer by
occupation, and owned 100 acres of good land. He was
a Democrat and interested in local affairs, serving many
years as school director. Mr. Fegley married Anna Nyce,
born in October, 1800, died in November, 1869, daughter of
George Nyce, a farmer and tanner of Frederick township,
Montgomery county. Mr. and Mrs. Fegley are buried
at the Sassamansville Church, in Montgomery county. They
had a family of ten children, namely : Hannah is deceased';
Mary is the widow of John Dotts; Edward is deceased;
Leanna ni. Levi Sassaman : Miss Fietta lives in Philadel-
phia; William is deceased; Charlotte m. Frederick Weis ;
Eliza m. Abner Wilt; Amandus N. ; and Miss Sarah lives
at Pottstown.

Amandus N. Fegley was reared on the farm, and re-
ceived his early education in the local public schools. Later
he attended the academies at Frederick and Trappe, and
afterward taught school for three years in Douglass town-
ship before taking up the study of medicine. He began to
read with Dr. Francis Knipe, of Frederick, and attended
lectures at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, grad-
uating from that institution in the spring of 1870. For a
few months he was located at Balliettsville, in Lehigh
county, Pa., in the fall of 1870 returning to Jefferson
Medical College, where he continued to study until the
following spring. He has since been located at Oley
Church, in Oley township, Berks county, where he has
acquired an extensive practice. He has not only been a
successful medical practitioner, but has also proved to be
a most useful member of the community in other rela-
tions, everything which affects the general welfare re-
ceiving his influence and support. He was one of the or-
ganizers of the Oley National Bank and became a mem-
ber of its first board of directors. He was trustee and
secretary of the Oley Cemetery for many years ; is a mem-
ber of the Berks County Historical Society; and a mem-
ber of Griesemersville Lodge, No. 1109, I. O. O. F., of
which he is a. past grand. He is an active member of the
Lutheran Church, and has served since 1892 as treasurer
of his church. He is a Democrat in political sentiment.

Dr. Fegley married Sarah Koch, daughter of the late
Tobias Koch, who was a retired farmer of Gilbertsville,
Montgomery county, and six children have been born to
this union, four of whom are deceased. The survivors are
Sallie and Walton. Walton, who is engaged as knitter at
Dr. L. K. Francis & Son's Knitting Mills, married Lila
Haas.

MORTON L. MONTGOMERY, the compiler of this
history, was born at Reading Nov. 10, 1846. He was edu-
cated in the common schools till 1863, having spent the
last three years in the High School ; and, being inclined
to rnathematics and drafting, he then entered the office of
Daniel S. Zacharias. county surveyor of Berks county and
city engineer of Reading, for the purpose of learning prac-
tical surveying and civil engineering. He continued in this
office eight months, when he went to Pottsville, Schuylkill
county, at the request of Mr. Zacharias, to enter a larger
field for the prosecution of his studies, and he was there
employed by Daniel Hoffman, a mining, civil and topo-
graphical engineer, who was constantly engaged in import-
ant work for prominent coal operators. After remaining
with Mr. Hoffman the greater part of two years, he re-
turned to Reading, and entered the office of Jacob S. Livin-
good, Esq., as a student-at-law. He spent the required
term of three years with Mr. Livingood, and besides pros-
ecuting his legal studies looked after an extensive practice,
the labors of which consisted in the preparation of cases,
arguments, proceedings in partition, conveyancing, etc.
After traveling for a time in the fall of 1869" through the
Middle and Eastern States, he entered the Law Department
of Harvard University and remained there two terms.
Upon returning to Reading, he spent a year in the ofSce
of Samuel L. Young, Esq., in order to comply with the
new rules of court which had been adopted during his ab-
sence and required the last year of study to be passed in
a lawyer's office. He was admitted to the Bar on Aug. 28,



BIOGRAPHICAL



403



1871, since which time he has been in active practice at
Reading.

Shortly after his admission to the Bar, he became in-
terested in the history of his native county, and, after he
had collected much valuable material relating to the early



Online LibraryMorton L. (Morton Luther) MontgomeryHistorical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families, comp. by Morton L. Montgomery .. → online text (page 102 of 227)