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 116 of 227)
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college. From 1890 to 1893 Mr. Rothermel filled the office
of county solicitor of Berks. The conscientious and fear-
less manner in which he performed his duties did much
to procure for him the almost unanimous nomination of
his party for the office of district attorney, to which he
was elected in 1898, and he filled this office with distinction,
for a term of three years from 1899 to 1902.

Mr. Rothermel is a member of the Second Reformed
Church of Reading; the Berks County Historical Society;
the Pennsylvania-German Society; the Wyomissing Club;
and the Phi Kappa Psi Fraterjiity.

In November, '1898, Mr. Rothermel married Miss Eva
McKenty, of Reading, Pa., and their marriage has been
blessed with two sons, Henry McKenty and Frederic de
Peyster. They reside at No. 130 North Fifth street in the
winter and spend their summers at their beautiful home
near Carsonia Park, in Lower Alsace township.

HON. W. OSCAR MILLER, former State senator and
. now a prominent citizen of Reading, where he is engaged
in practice as a lawyer, also dealing in real estate, is an
active worker ' in the Democratic party, and is known
throughout the State as a politician of sagacity and fore-
sight. He was born in Maxatawny township, Aug. 28, 1857,
son of Joseph and Mary (Ziegler) Miller.

John Miller, great-grandfather of the Hon. W. Oscar,
lived in the vicinity of Fogelsville, Lehigh Co., Pa. The
Millers have been noted for their longevity.

John Miller (2), son of John, was born near Fogelsville,
in Lehigh county, but in his young manhood came to Max-
atawny township, Berks county, and engaged in farming
for the remainder of his Hfe. His political views made
him a supporter of the Democratic party. He was a mem-
ber of the Reformed Church, and in that faith he died in
1846. He was the father of five sons and one daughter,
namely: Charles, who died in Maxatawny township, in
May, 1905, aged ninety-nine years, two months, twenty-
nine days; John, who died in June, 1905, aged ninety-five
years ; Rosalind, who married Napoleon Drescher, and died
at the age of eighty-three; Jonas, who died aged seventy-
two years ; Joseph ; and Joshua. '^'

Joseph Miller, son of John (2), was born in Maxatawny
township, Jan. 21, 1819, and there grew to manhood with
a full practical knowledge of farming. He attended the
common schools, and for two winters a subscription
school. _ His death, the result of internal injuries re-
ceived in a fall from an apple tree, occurred in August,
1890, in his seventy-second year. He married Mary Zieg-
ler, born May 3, 1830, and to this union were born the
following children : W. Oscar ; Mantana mi A. S. Heffner,
a coal and lumber merchant at Topton, this county; Sally
I. m. L. A. Stein; Alvin J.; Fianna m. the Rev. James
O. Leibensperger; and George F. Joseph Miller, the
father, was a stanch Democrat, and served as school trus-
tee for several terms.



442



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA



W. Oscar Miller was given the benefit of a good edu-
cation. After finishing the common school he went to
Kutztown, and graduated there from the Keystone State
Normal School in 1875. He then entered Lafayette Col-
lege, and later went to the University of Michigan, at Ann
Arbor, graduating from the Law Department in 1879. The
following year he was admitted to practice in Reading, and
for a quarter of a century he has had his law offices at No.
610 Washington street.

From the time he attained his majority he has been
active in politics and in the Order of Odd Fellows. As
early as 1887 he was a delegate to the State Convention,
and in 1889 was elected district attorney, an office he filled
to the general satisfaction of the public. In November,
1896, he was elected to the State Senate. As chairman of
the County committee in 1893 and 1894, he did yeoman
service for his party, and in 1896 he was a delegate to the
National Convention at Chicago which nominated William
Jennings Bryan for President. As editor of the Reading
Democrat he has been able by his forceful and logical
arguments to mould public opinion in favor of the reforms
he advocated. In 1896 he made a statement one week be-
fore election that there would be only 375 Gold Democrat
votes cast for Palmer and Buckner in the county, and the
results showed 416 ; while in 1900 he predicted Gov. Pat-
tison's majority to within one vote of the correct result in
the count}'.

Mr. Miller married March 23, 1889, Emma L. Reider,
daughter of Augustus and Elizabeth (Heffner) Reider, of
Pricetown, granddaughter of John Reider, and great-
granddaughter of Daniel Reider (1794-1891). To this
union has been born one daughter, Frances.

HENRY H. FRY, former county treasurer of Berks
county, and a prominent lumber dealer of Oley township,
was born July 12, 1863, in Ruscombmanor township, near
Pricetown, where he was educated in the public schools.
He was reared on the home farm where he remained until
he was sixteen years old, when he entered the country
store of Daniel Brown, at Pricetown, and he remained
there two years, when he became a clerk in the store
of B. A. Glase, Son & Co., at Friedensburg. After con-
tinuing there a year the senior partner died, and his son,
Peter L. Glase, purchasing the Baer general store at the
same place, persuaded Mr. Fry to work for him. He acted
as clerk for seven years in that store, and then became
a partner, and under the firm name of P. L. Glase & Co.
they have carried on the business together from 1889 until
the present time. In 1894 I\Ir. Fry began purchasing
tracts of timber, converting the trees into lumber, railroad
ties and telegraph, telephone and trolley poles, and he
has been very successful. He officiated as a school direc-
tor in Oley township for three terms. In November, 1905,
he was elected county treasurer, and served his terra of
three years, which expired in January, 1909.

In 1887, Mr. Fry was married to Anna L. Stitzer, daugh-
ter of Daniel Stitzer. and Annetta Ahrens, his wife, of
Oley township, by whom he had four children : A. Paxton,
Sadie, Arthur and Roger.

WillianT Frey, father of Flenry H., was engaged in
farming in Ruscombmanor township until his decease in
1882, when he was aged sixty-three years. He officiated
as a county commissioner from 1873 to 1876, having been
elected on the Democratic ticket. He married Annie L.
Haas (1824-1894), daughter of George Haas, of the same
township. Thev had eight children: James (m. Hannah
Brown) ; Nathaniel (m. Clara Haas) ; Sarah (m. Mayberry
Angstadt) ; Caroline (m. Thomas Leinbach) ; Amos (m.
Isabella Fox); Lewis (m. Mary Brown); Henry H. ;
Augustus (m. Annie Jarrett).

George Frey, father of William and grandfather of
Henry H., was of the same township. He married Cath-
arine Rothrock, by whom he had eight children ; George
(m. a Reinheimer) ; Charles; William; Julia (unmarried) ;
Catharine (m. John Wahl) ; Maria (m. Henry Keller);
Sallie (m. Nicodemus Noll); Margaret (m. Jacob Krick).



JOHN D. MISSIMER was for twenty-five years before
his death managing editor of the Reading Eagle. Born
in 1847 at Denglers (now Mount Penn), Berks county, he
was a son of John Missimer, a prominent Democrat and
member of the Pennsylvania Legislature for several
terms. Just prior to the Civil war he was librarian to
the House of Representatives in Washington. John D.
Missimer attended school in Washington until he received
the appointment, secured by Maj. S. E. Ancona, then Con-
gressman from this district, as cadet at the Naval Acad-
emy, Annapolis, Md. He made a voyage to foreign ports,
but taking a dislike to the life of the navy was allowed
to resign. Early in life he gained considerable reputation
as a writer of verse and sketches for the newspapers, and
he naturally drifted into newspaper work, being for_ some
time associated with the famous "Brick" Pomeroy in the
publication, in New York, of an illustrated weekly paper
that enjoyed a national circulation. His connection with
the Reading Eagle commenced about 1872, when he became
a reporter on the staff of that journal, with which he
was thereafter identified until his death. He soon ac-
quired the reputation of being one of the most affable and
capable newspaper men in the city, and in 1880 he suc-
ceeded J. Warren Conard as managing editor, which
position he continued to hold until his sudden death, Sun-
day morning, April 22, 1906.

As a general all-around newspaper man Mr. I\Iissimer
had few equals. He did his work with a thoroughness
which made the paper a complete epitome of each day's
events. He was a master of details, concise, able and
industrious, and possessed the faculty of condensing an
item or "boiling it down" to substance. In his relations
with his subordinates he was genial and sympathetic. At
the close of his thirtieth year with the Eagle his fellow-
workers celebrated the anniversary by tendering him a
banquet, as a tribute to his fidelity to the paper and his
courtesy to them.

Mr. Missimer was a ready and easy writer, and a num-
ber of years ago he contributed many serial stories of
interest to the Nczu York Weekly, the Saturday Night,
and other weekly and monthly publications. He wrote
"The Amish Girl" and several other dramas, which at dif-
ferent times were presented to appreciative and delighted
audiences in Reading and other cities. For years he con-
tributed much to metropolitan dailies, and three years
before his death he founded the Reading Financial Bulletin,
which he published to the end of his days. It is a publi-
cation devoted to the subject of local investments.

A few years before his death he wrote and published
a pamphlet on the libel law, which was intended as a
guide to young newspaper writers, and it not only had a
large sale among that class but also among experienced
newspaper workers all over the countrj', and the author
received many letters from successful publishers in praise
of the work. During his last days he wrote the history of
the famous "Conway Cabal," a conspiracy fomented in this
section during the Revolutionary war to depose Washington
from the position of commander of the Continental army.
This plot is supposed to have been hatched in Reading,
and Mr. Missimer invested his work with a great deal of
local color. Its preparation involved the consultation
of many authorities, and he devoted himself to it with his
accustomed vigor and thoroughness.

From the time of his young manhood Mr. Missimer
entered heartily into the social life of the city, and in
his later years he enjoyed spending his leisure moments
among congenial friends. His popularity and felicity of
expression are attested in the fact that he was frequently
called upon to act as toastmaster at banquets, and in this
role appeared at his best. He was always most happy in
his introduction of the speakers. He was a member of
Reading Council, Royal .-Vrcanum, the Reading Press Club,
the Berks County Historical Society, Trinity Lutheran
Church, and a trustee of St. Joseph's Hospital.

Mr. Missimer married Anetta Richards, who survived
him with one daughter, Grace.



BIOGRAPHICAL



443



JAMES S. FOCHT, general superintendent of the Job
Wilbur Mining & Milling Company, of Providence, R. L,
and a successful farmer residing near Greenawald Station,
in Albany township, Berks county, was born in Windsor
township, this county, May 12, 1856, son of Daniel and
Hannah (Stepp) Focht, and grandson of George Focht, of
Windsor township.

Daniel Focht, th« father, was born on his father's farm in
Windsor township in 1818, and early in life learned the
stone-mason's trade, which he followed for a number of
years. Later he purchased a farm near Windsor Castle,
consisting of twenty-four acres but this he subsequently
sold and removed to a farm in Centre' township, where his
death occurred in 1901. He was a staunch Democrat in
his political views, and for some time he served as sup-
ervisor" of Centre township. In religious belief he was a
Lutheran and belonged to St. Michael's Union Church.
Mr. Focht married Hannah Stepp, daughter of Samuel
Stepp, of Centre township, and twelve children were born
to them-, namely: David, Mary, Catherine, William, Ben-
jamin, Reuben, Ellen, Senora, James S., Frank, Samuel and
Isabella.

James S. Focht was educated in the public schools of
Centre township which he attended until he was eighteen
years of age. This was chiefly in the old Roth school, to
which vicinity his parents had moved when he was two
years old. At the age of twenty-two he entered the Hun-
tingdon Collegiate Institute, in Huntingdon county, and
after three months hard work was licensed to teach by
Prof. Samuel A. Baer. His first term was taught at
Klinesville, at a salary of twenty dollars for a terra of
five months. He then taught four terms in Greenwich
township, and three in Windsor under Superintendents
Baer, Keck and Zechman. For four years Mr. Focht
was engaged in a mercantile business at Lenhartsville, and
in connection with this he also for one year conducted the
"Farmers & Drovers Hotel," the hotel stand having now
been his property since 1905. After giving up teaching
entirely, he became connected with the Job Wilbur Mining
& Milling- Company, of Providence, R. I., superintending
their mining in Berks and other counties of the State. In
1895 he purchased the old Trexler homestead, located at
Greenawald in Albany township, and known as the Trex-
ler tannery, consisting of one hundred acres. This farm he
purchased for the Wilbur Company, and on it is found
"Talckene," a mineral deposit which is used exclusively
in the manufacture of oil cloth and linoleum. An average
of 7,500 tons are shipped annually to Port Richmond,
Philadelphia, Pa. Mr. Focht owns the old Focht home-
stead in Centre towns-hip, consisting of 106 acres, and also
an adjacent tract of fifty-four acres, at one time the prop-
erty of his father. On this tract are a new set of buildings,
and the land is in an excellent state of cultivation. On
the homestead Mr. Focht erected, in 1905, a fine barn 46
X 112 feet, on a solid concrete foundation. There is run-
ning water in both barn and hen house, as well as in the
residence. The house is of brick, with large double
porches, and was erected by Daniel Focht in 1868. Mr.
Focht also owns several houses in Lenhartsville, and
also a factory building. He is the largest tax payer in
that borough. ,

In politics Mr. Focht is a strong and influential Dem-
ocrat. He has held many township offices, and was the
first chief burgess of Lenhartsville borough, of which he
was a leading spirit in the incorporation. He was justice
of the peace in Lenhartsville, and served the third com-
mission before moving to Albany. He was also deputy
coroner and school director, and he is thoroughly inter-
ested in the cause of education. In 1908 he was one of
five candidates for county treasurer, but was unsuccessful,
and is a candidate again for 1911. In Church and Sunday-
school work he has long taken an active part, having
served as elder at Friedens Church, and superintendent of
the Sunday schools at Greenawald's, Bethel and Friedens.

In December, 1881, Mr. Focht was married to Agnes
B. Epler, daughter of Valentine and Rebecca (Bechtel)
Epler, of Penn township. Eleven children were born of
this union : Charles F. m. Kate Smith ; Alice Agnes grad-



uated from the Keystone State Normal School in the
class of 1907, and is now teaching at Lenhartsville; George
W. and William J. are students at the Keystone State
Normal School; J. Herbert, Edgar B., and Elda May are
at home; and a daughter and three sons all died in early
infancy.

EARLY. There are a dozen or more distinct families
in the United States bearing the name of Early or Earley.
Some are of English origin, some of Irish, and others
of German and Swiss descent, but by far the larger
number trace their line to the German Fatherland.

Older generations of the family to which this sketch
is especially dedicated spelled the name Oehrle, or Oehrlin
or Ehrle, and Thomas Oehrle went from Lauffen, Wurtem-
berg, and settled at Jesingen, Oberamt Kircheim, in that
Kingdom. In 1670 he married Agatha Endriss. Whether
he first settled there and then married, or whether he came
there immediately after his marriage is not known, but it
seems likely that he met his wife while traveling as a jour-
neyman. They had nine children : John George, born 1672 ;
Anna Mary, 1673; John, 1675; Agnes, 1676; Agatha, 1677;
Jacob, September, 1679; Barbara, 1681; Rosina, 1684; and
Thomas, May, 1687. The mother died in 1711. There is
no record of the father's. death.

(II) Thomas Early, youngest son of Thomas, born in
May, 1687, became very prominent. He was a school
teacher, and later became court clerk at Jesingen. On
Feb. 25, 1710, he married Margaret, daughter of Jacob
Fensterle, judge and treasurer of the town. She died
Feb. 8, 1735. Nine children blessed this union, as follows:
Thomas, born 1710, died 1713; Christine, born 1712; John
Jacob, born 1714, died 1717; John Martin, born 1716, died
1717; Anna Catharine, born 1718; Anna Margaret, born
1721, died in infancy; George and John Jacob (twins),
born 1722, both died under five years of age; and John,
born Jan. 9, 1724. Thomas Early married (second) Chris-
tine, daughter of Conrad Algaier, then judge of Jesingen.-
This marriage occurred either late in 1735, or early in 1736.
To this marriage were born: Thomas, born in 1736, died
in 1746; John George, born in 1738, died in 1746; Agnes,
born in 1738, died in 1741; Anna Barbara, born 1741,
married George Hartman, a farmer at Jesingen, and died
m 1798; Christine, born in 1743; and Conrad, born in
1746, died m 1747. Thomas, the father, died Nov. 25,
1746, aged fifty-nine years and six months.

(III) John Early (Johannes Oehrle), youngest son of
Thomas by his first marriage, left Jesingen, Kircheim, An
der Teck, Wurtemberg, for the New World, arriving at
Philadelphia in the ship "Brothers" Aug. 24, 1750. He im-
mediately proceeded to Londonderry township. Lebanon
(then Lancaster) county, but before January, 1752, he had
become a resident of Reading, Berks county. On January
6th of that" year at a congregational meeting he was
elected one of a committee to superintend the erection of
a church for the newly .organized congregation. His name
also appears in the first list of contributors toward its
maintenance. On April 10, 1753, he married Susanna
Brumbach. One child. Christian, was born to them Jan
13, 1754, and some time between the middle of October and
second week of November, the wife and mother died (ac-
cording to records of Trinity Church) in the faith of the
Reformed Church. Shortly after the death of his wife
John Early left Reading to settle on the banks of the
Swatara. At first he settled about a half mile southwest
of Bindnagle's Church, on a part of the original Bindnagle
tract. In February, 1773, he purchased an additional tract
of 233 acres, named "Betimes" in the original survey made
for the Rev. Leonard Deiriinger in 1751. To this tract
John Early at once moved, and in 1790 he sold the north-
ern part to his son Christian, and the remainder passed into
the hands of his son John. On March 11 (Stoever says
^J'''^^,l°^',"i'-' ,^^ married Mary Regina, daughter of
John Albrecht Sichele; she was quite young, possibly not
more than eighteen. To this marriage was born the follow-
ing family: John, born July 31, 1757; John William Aug
10, 1763; Thomas, Nov. 4, 1767; Anna Catharine, July 7
1772; Anna Margaret, Feb. 28 (or March 1), 1779- and



444



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA



four others who doubtless died in infancy, as their names
are not recorded. John Early died Oct. 19, 1796, aged
seventy-two years, nine months, ten days, ,and is buried at
Bindnagle's Church, where his grave is marked by a red
sandstone. He was a man of wide influence. On Dec. 31,
1769, he started the endowment of Bindnagle's church by
a gift of seven pounds and eight shillings, and he was one
of the trustees of a fimd left by George Berger in 1788, for
the same purpose. Tradition says his second wife, who
survived him many years, she being of record as sponsor
at the baptism of Jacob Early, son of J. William, in 1811,
was buried beside him at Bindnagle's church. John Early's
"pass," which he used as a journeyman, was preserved
many years, but was lost finally at a Harrisburg printing
office.

(IV) John Early, eldest son of John and his second
wife, Mary Regina, born July 31, 1757, married, Sept. 4,
1777, Margaret, daughter of John Adam Deininger. Their
children were : Magdalena, born Feb. 24, 1778, married
David Earnest, near Hummelstown ; John Jacob, born Dec.
12, 1779; John William, born March 5, 1782; and Daniel,
born Feb. 9, 1784, died March 4, 1813. Immediately after
his marriage John Early settled on the old "Betimes" home-
stead, and lived there the rest of his life. He acquired
considerable property, and to the original homestead he
added that part of the Joseph Longnecker farm lying out-
side and south of the town of Palmyra.' His estate as
inventoried by his executors amounted to a modest for-
tune, but much of it was in notes on which he was the
security, and these were practically valueless. He also
owned land in Center and Bedford counties. He was
commissioned Aug. 37, 1790, justice of the peace for
the third district of Dauphin county, embracing London-
derry and Annville townships. Some warrants issued by
him and served by his brother Thomas, who was a con-
stable, are still in existence, one of them bearing the
date, September, 1799. "

Mr. Early had the usual experience of those who attain
prominent position, and suffered many annoyances caused
by petty jealousy, in one case being accused of stealing a
wagon wheel, when the prosecutor had not the least
ground for his accusation, and instead of humiliating Mr.
Early was obliged to pay heavy costs for his folly. Mr.
Early was one of the organizers of the Evangelical Luth-
eran congregation at Campbellstown in 1792, and this
accounts for the fact that when the new Bindnagle's church
was erected in 1803 his name seldom appears. He died
March 1, 1810, aged fifty-two years, seven months, and his
widow survived until Aug. 8, 1811. The records at the
Church at Campbellstown state that they were buried
there, as was also their son Daniel, who died in 1813.

(V) John William Early, son of John and Margaret
(Deininger), born March 5, 1782. was better known as
"Squire William Early." He died Dec. 12,' 1863, aged
eighty-one years, nine months, seven days, the first of
the family to attain such advanced years. He was twice
married. On March 2, 1801, he wedded Catharine Hirsche
(or Hershev), born in 1780. To this union came seven
children, namely; (1) Margaret, born May 1, 1803, married
Oct. 7, 1830, Henry Laudermilch, and died in 1889. (3)
Benjamin, born Dec. 11, 1803, died May 5, 1827, while
pursuing his theological studies at the newly established
seminary at Gettysburg, (3) Catharine, born March 22,
1805, died May 31, 1811; (4) John, born Oct. 10, 1806,
attained the age of ninety-one years and nearly six
months. (5) William was born Sept. 13, 1808. (6) Jacob,
born Sept. 8, 1810, lived only a little over nine months.
(7) Jacob (2), born June 2, 1812, died when eight years
of age, falling, says family tradition, from one of the
large poplars in front of his father's home. Mrs. Cath-
arine (Hirsche) Early died Aug. 1, 1815, aged thirty-five
years. On Jan. 30, 1816 (Jonestown church record made
by Rev. J. H. Van Hoff), Squire William Early married
(second) Christina Kreider (cousin to his first wife).
She was a daughter of a Mennonite preacher who min-
istered unto the people for sixty years. To this marriage
also were born seven children : Catharine, born Nov. 7,
183 6, married Gabriel Wolfersberger, and died in Har-



risburg, where all her sons, except Reuben, of Palmyra,
reside ; Joshua Hiester, born Jan. 25, 1818, died 1903 ;
Martin German, born Jan. 10, 1820, died 1900; Christina,
born Oct. 6, 1831, died 1903, married about 1847-50
Thomas Getz; Mary Magdalene, born Nov. 26, 1822, died
Sept. 23, 1846; Elizabeth, born August 34, 1834, died
in infancy; and Aaron Daniel Seth, born May 14, 1838,
died 1907, became a local preacher of the United Breth-
ren. On Dec. 2, 1833, John William Early, father of the
above family, was appointed by Gov. Joseph Hiester justice
of the peace. Soon after his appointment the common
school law was enacted and he took a very active part in
the ensuing bitter controversies, being a stern opponent



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 116 of 227)