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

. (page 120 of 227)
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 120 of 227)
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he located in Berks county, and entered upon the practice



of his profession at Yellow House. In 1857 he erected
there his late home, one of the most beautiful places in
that part of the county. Here he was living, caring for
a large number of patients, being friend and adviser to
almost everybody in his township, active in public affairs-
altogether a very busy and useful man — when the Civil
war broke out.

Dr. Kitchin was a stanch Protectionist, and when he
moved to Berks county he was warned that to be popular
there he would be obliged to become a Democrat, but he
was true to' his principles, and for eighteen months he
presided over the Know-Nothing Council, during his ad-
ministration greatly changing the political complexioii of
his township by one hundred votes. He was a Republican
from the organization of the party, and was one of a
committee of twenty for the first Republican convention
at Reading, and was the last survivor of the twenty men
who signed. Of the seventy-two soldiers furnished by
Amity township for the Civil war, sixty-five were Re-
publicans.

At the outbreak of the Civil war Dr. Kitchin did not
enlist, thinking it his duty to care for his patients, but
when he, learned the Confederates were marching into
Pennsylvania he started for Harrisburg with his rifle.
There he chanced to meet Surgeon-General King who
made him assistant surgeon, and he was assigned to the
21st Pennsylvania Cavalry, remaining with that regiment
until its term of service had expired. He was then or-
dered to Reading to recruit, and after much difficulty
succeeded in recruiting Company H, 21st P. V. C. They
proceeded to Washington, where they were dismounted,
and they saw hard service as infantry. They participated
in the following engagements : Bethesda Church (when
sixty men, killed and wounded, were lost in fifteen min-
utes), Petersburg, Jerusalem Plank Road, Peeble's Farm.
Stony Creek, Boydton Plank Road. In the last named
battle Assistant Surgeon Kitchin so distinguished him-
self for his active service in caring for the wounded on
the firing line, being the only surgeon that remained with
Surgeon Le Moyn, that he was recomm.ended for pro-
motion, and was made surgeon of the 155th P. V. I., with
which regiment he served until the close of the war,
taking part in the fights at Hatcher's Run, Five Forks
and Appomattox. At Appomattox he dressed the wounds
of the last soldier injured in Lee's army, and gave a Con-
federate who made himself known as a Mason $50 to
enable him to get home, to Shelbyville. Dr. Kitchin was
mustered into service Feb. 21, 1864, promoted from as-
sistant surgeon to surgeon Jan. 30, 1865, and was mustered
out June 2, 1865. He proved himself an able and fearless
soldier, cheerfully and effectively doing his duty in what-
ever capacity he was ordered. When the war was over he
returned to his home and resumed his professional work.
In 1856 Dr. Kitchin married Ellen Filbert, daughter of
Samuel and Charlotte T^Kline) Filbert, the former for
some years proprietor of "Yellow House." Mrs. Kitchin
died Oct. 23, 1900, aged sixty-six years, ten days. Two
children were born of this union : William F. and Char-
lotte. The Doctor was prominent socially, belonging to
McLean Post, No. 16, G. A. R., Reading; to the F. &
A. M. ; to Phoenixville Commandery, K. T., of which he
was the last surviving charter member ; to the Knights of
the Red Cross, and the Knights of Malta.

One of the Doctor's last requests was that the address
at his funeral be made by Judge H. Willis Bland, of
Reading; that members of the Masonic Lodge act as his
pall bearers, and that comrades of the G. A. R. conduct
the services at the grave. This was done, and a large
number of friends came to pay their last respects to one
whom they knew so well.

DR. EDWARD BROBST, of West Leesport, died Dec.
31, 1907, aged seventy-four years, three months and six-
teen days. He was one of the best known physicians in
the county, and one of the last of that noble class of
men known as "family doctors" — a firm friend and coun-
selor of every member of the family, sometimes through
two or three generations, in health as well as in sickness.



454



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA



He was born at Rehrersburg Sept. 15, 1833, son of Valen-
tine and Mary (Miller) Brobst, and a descendant of
Philip Brobst and wife Cerine, who came to this country
from Germany or Switzerland in search of home and for-
tune.

Philip Brobst and his wife Cerine made their home in
Albany township, Berks county. His will, made in 1747,
and probated March 21, 1760, made provision for his
children as follows : Michael, one hundred acres of land
and a good grist mill belonging thereto ; Martin, a tract of
fifty acres and a good new grist mill; Valentine, his just
portion of the estate; Eva Catharine, fifty pounds in
money; and Dorothy (wife of Johannes Fetherolff), fifty
pounds in money.

From the Pennsylvania Archives, Vol. XVII, pp. 75-
77-81, is learned that one Hans Michael Brobst (or
Probst) and his family emigrated from Switzerland or
Germany on the ship "Samuel," which qualified at Phila-
delphia Aug. 17, 1733. This family was listed as follows :
Michael Bropts, aged fifty-four; Johan Michael, aged
twenty-one; Barbara Brospts, aged fifty-three; and Bar-
bara Brospts, aged eight.

In 1759, in Albany township, Michael Brobst was tax
collector, and on the list of taxes paid were : Michael
Brobst, fourteen pounds (or $37.24) ; Martin Brobst, four-
teen pounds (or $37.24) ; and Valentine Brobst, sixteen
pounds (or $42.56). These amounts were reckoned by
allowing $2.66 United States money for a Pennsylvania
pound.

The will of Martin Brobst, of Albany township, was
probated June 9, 1766, and Anna Elizabeth Brobst was
named as executrix. This document is in German script,
and mentions several children.

Valentine Brobst, mentioned above as son of Philip
and Cerine, emigrated with his brothers from the Old
World. He lived in Reading for some years, and tradi-
tion says for a time in Albany township, where his broth-
ers, Michael and Martin, were also large land owners, as
indicated by ' the amount of taxes paid. The Christian
name of Valentine's wife was Catharine. He died prior
to 1775, and his wife in 1775. The executors of the will
of Valentine Brobst were Frederick Hill, a brother-in-
law, and Henry Brobst, a brother's son. Among the items
were : "Cath. Snyder, my aforesaid wife's sister's daugh-
ter, shall have fifty pounds; Jacob Brobst shall have the
plantation I bought from Jacob Gortner (Jacob was a
son of Michael, the latter a brother of Valentine) ; Catha-
rine Stine (daughter of Martin, another brother of Valen-
tine) shall have fifty pounds; my sister Dorothy married to
Johannes Fetherolff shall have fifty pounds." The witnesses
to the will were: Philip Staumbog, Georg Kistler and
Matthias Brobst. The will of Catharine, widow of Valentine
Brobst, is on record in Will Book 2, p. 236.

Christian Brobst, another son of Valentine, lived at'
Rehrersburg, where he kept a tavern known to this day
as the "Brobst Hotel." He died there at the age of forty-
one, and was succeeded in business by his son Valentine,
then unmarried. He was buried in the old Lutheran
Church yard at Rehrersburg. His wife, whose maiden
name. was Kreider, bore him children as follows: Valen-
tine; Michael, who had a son Henry born in 1821 (and
his son Frank, born in 1847, was high sheriff of Berks
county 1899-1901); Henry; William; and a daughter who
married a Kurr.

Valentine Brobst, son of Christian, was born in Albany
township, and after acquiring a good education in a pri-
vate school, learned the hatter's trade, which he followed
in Rehrersburg. At his father's death he succeeded to
the hotel, as stated above. His death occurred in the
spring of 1897, when he was in his eighty-ninth year, and
he was laid to rest in the cemetery at Rehrersburg. He
married Mary Miller, and they became the parents of
children as follows : Dr. Edward ; John A., a physician of
Bernville ; Sarah, deceased, who married John Bossier,
of Myerstown ; INJary, who married Frank Buch, of Lititz;
and James C, a physician at Lititz.

Dr. Edward Brobst received his literary training in the
day schools, which he attended until he was twelve years



of age, and in the Academy at Orwigsburg, Schuylkill
county, which he attended for four years. Determining
to enter the medical profession he became a student in
the office of Dr. Adam Schoener, of Rehrersburg, long
since deceased, and under that sturdy physician of the
old school acquired not only a good foundation for his
medical studies but also a conception of the dignity and
obligations of the profession he was about to enter. He
was graduated from the Medical Department of the Uni-
versity of Pennsylvania in 1853, and in the spring of 1854,
began the active practice of his profession at Danville,
Luzerne county. There he remained, however, only_ until

1865, when on account of the continued urging of friends,
he settled at West Leesport, where he quickly attained
a high standing. In his younger days, many of his_ visits
were made on horseback. The roads were never in too
bad a condition, nor the weather too severe, for him to
venture out to relieve suffering or distress, and the de-
mands made upon his time and strength would have long
before worn out a less robust man. He was always
keenly alive to the advance of medical science, and spent
much time in study, and his reputation spread throughout
the neighboring counties, he being often called in consulta-
tion to distant places. His regular practice covered ter-
ritory within a radius of seven miles from West Lees-
port. In 1863 he enlisted as surgeon in the United States
Army, but contracted typhoid fever while at Hagerstown,
Md., and was given sick leave. In December, 1864, he re-
enlisted as surgeon, being assigned to the 143d Pa. V. I.,
under Colonel Dana, and continued in service until the
close of the war, when he was miustered out at Hart Is-
land, in June, 1865. He was pension examiner during the
administration of President Harrison.

In spite of the cares of his large practice Dr. Brobst
did not neglect his duty as a citizen. He was greatly
interested in all public questions, especially those pertain-
ing to his home town and county. He was in favor of
the incorporation of West Leesport. For some years he
served in the office of auditor. His home was built in

1866, and from that time until his death he delighted in
welcoming his friends there. He was a tall, well-built
man with a kindly benevolent face, ever winning affection
from the many with whom he was brought into such
close contact. On Saturday, Dec. 21st, he was stricken
with apoplexy, and while his great vitality enabled him to
rally from the first shock, others followed, and his spirit
winged its flight but a few hours before the passing of the
old year. He was buried at Trinity Union Church. Like
all the Brobsts, as well as the members of his own im-
mediate family, he was a Lutheran in religious faith.

Dr. Brobst was twice married. In 1854, he married
Louisa, daughter of George Zacharias, of Bern township,
who bore him two children : Henrietta, wife of George
Filbert; and John, who died aged one year. In 1866
he married Sarah Groff, daughter of Samuel Groff, of
Groffdale, Lancaster county. To this union came one
daughter, Carrie, now the wife of Henry G. Lenhart,
membei* of the firm of S. H. Lenhart & Sons, merchants,
of West Leesport. Dr. Brobst was a life long member
of Leesport Lodge, No. 141, I. O. O. F. ; Huguenot Lodge,
No. 377, F. & A. M., of Kutztown. He also was a con-
sistent member of the Berks county Medical Society from
the date of its organization.

Dr. Francis H. Brobst, of Reading, is a son of Will-
oughby and a grandson of Daniel Brobst. Daniel Brobst
was a grandson of Michael or Martin Brobst, of Albany
township.

"Brobst Heirs Association" is the name of an organiza-
tion founded by the descendants of the original settlers
for mutual aid in securing possession of certain coal
lands originally belonging to the family. At the meeting of
the board of directors Dec. 18, 1907, held at the home of
the Treasurer, Charles H. Brobst, No. 1128 Franklin street,
Reading, Rev. Howard B. Jones presiding, steps were
taken to have the case reopened. Among those present
were: Dr. James C. Brobst, Lititz; Dr. John A. Brobst,
Bernville; Henry Stump, Friedensburg; John K. Stump,
Kutztown; Harry A. Brobst, Reading; and Charles H.



BIOGRAPHICAL



455



Brobst, Reading. Mrs. Elmira A. Phillips, of Pottsville,
a member of the Board, was unable to be there.

ANDREW JACKSON FINK, president of the firm of
George W. Beard & Co., Inc., , contractors and builders,
Colonial Trust building, and one of the most prominent
young business men of Reading, was born in that city
in 1873, son of Andrew Jackson and Catherine (Helder)
Fink.

Andrew Jackson Fink, Sr., was born in Reading July
6, 1840, son of Benjamin Franklin Fink, a well-known
carpenter in the early part of the nineteenth century. He
attended the public schools and later learned the car-
penter's trade under the careful guidance of his father.
He took a keen interest in public affairs, and in 1879
was elected a member of the school board, serving several
terms. He was next elected superintendent of repairs,
an office he held about three years, and then engaged in a
general contracting and building business, erecting many
houses in the city, especially in the northwestern part.
In political sentiment he was a Democrat, and he was a
familiar figure at ward meetings and conventions. He
was a good logical speaker, his keen wit scoring many a
point against his opponents. With the exception of the
offices previously mentioned, he held no political position.
He was a charter member and first president of the Schuyl-
kill Fire Company, and member of the Eighth Ward
Democratic Club. His church membership was with St.
James Lutheran ' Church. He married Catherine Helder,
who preceded him in death some years. Of the children,
the following survived the parents : Clara (m. to Samuel
Jacobs) ; Kate (m. to James Gilbert) ; Ella (m. to James
Grist) ; Florence and Annie (unmarried) ; and Andrew
Jackson. Mr. Fink was survived by his brother, John,
of Reading; and his sister, Rebecca, wife of James Kerst.

Andrew J. Fink, son of Andrew Jackson, Sr., was born
in 1872, and attended the public schools of the city, and
then began the study of architecture with A. F. Smith,
with whom he remained two years. He then became
connected with Cofrode & Saylor, remaining one year, and
next spent two years at civil engineering with the Reading
Railroad Company, and for three years was with L. H.
Focht, builder. In 1892, with George W. Beard, the
present firm was formed by Mr. Fink, who became presi-
dent after the latter's retirement. The firm has done
over $2,000,000 worth of business, being the leading con-
tractors and Ijuilders in eastern Pennsylvania. They main-
tain suitable offices in the Colonial Trust Building, Read-
ing, Pa., and a branch office' at Easton, Pa., and employ
on an average from 300 to 400 men. They have done
building at Wilkes-Barre, Easton, Harrisburg and Hazleton,
although their business comes principally from Reading.
Following is a list, with the value, of some of the build-
ings constructed by this company: Girls' high school,
Reading, $125,000; First National Bank, Easton, $125,000;
Dairy Building, State College, $90,000; Montello Brick
Company, works at Perkiomen, $110,000, and at Wyomis-
sing, $80,000; P. & R. Round House, Rutherford, $50,000,
and Power House, Ash Conveyor, etc., Reading, $136,000;
St. Stephen's Church, Reading, $30,000; Second Reformed,
Reading, $27,000; Grace United, Reading, $32,000; St.
Mark's, Reading, $42,000, and at Lebanon, $32,000 ; Masonic
Temple, Reading, $60,000; Acme Bicycle Works, $52,000;
J. G. Mohn & Bros., factory, $30,000; Hendel Hat Com-
pany, Reading, $29,000, and factory, $22,000; C. W. Hen-
del factory, Reading, $15,000; St. Thomas' church, finish-
ing, $11,000; Trinity United Evangelical church, Reading,
$10,000; Addition to Widows' Home, Reading, $25,000;
Coaling Station, Harrisburg, for Reading Railway Com-
pany, $35,000; Keystone Cold Storage, Reading, $40,000;
Hershey building, large store, $32,000; car barn. United
Traction Company, Reading, $40,000; John S. Shade &
Sons, Reading, $15,000; Woodward street Market House,
$14,000; Gately & Britton, $18,000; Wertz & Co., ware-
house, $12,000; Reading Car Wheel Company, foundry
and other buildings, $15,500; Bright & Co., warehouse,
$16,800; Pennsylvania Knitting Mills, $14,000; Auditorium,
$25,000 ; school at Moss and Elm streets, $25,000 ; Miller



& Sons warehouse, $24,500; Reading Railway for coalmg
station, $26,000; Nolde & Horst stocking factory, $24^
600; Curtis & Jones shoe factory, $47,000; J. G. Leinbach
pants factory, $22,000; freight station for Readmg rail-
road at Lansdale, $12,000; alterations to County court
house, Reading, $31,000; C. W. Hendel residence, $36,-
000; for J. W. Kutz, $25,000; for Frank W. Hanold, $30,-
000; for Howard L. Boas, $31,000; Prospect Dye Works,
$15,000 ; J. G. Hansen cigar factory, $12,000 ; addition for
George F. Baer, $10,000; Nurses Home, Reading Hospital,
$12,000; store buildings for James Nolan, $11,000; for Mrs.
Bishop, $10,000; Hope Lutheran Church, $35,000; Rajah
Temple, $28,000; George W. Biehl's apartment house, $10,-
000; City Pumping Station, $30,000; Boys' high school,
Reading, $250,000; and many small buildings which cost
less than $10,000 each, and are too numerous to mention.
Mr. Fink was married to Laura G. Goodenough, and
to this union were born : Dorothy and Donald. In religious
belief the familv were Lutherans, and members of St.
Luke's Lutheran Church. Mr. Pink is a Republican in
politics, and has served on the school board two terms,
and as a member of the board of public works, of which
latter he is now president. He is a member of Lodge No.
62, F. & A. M., Reading Chapter; DeMolay Commandery
No. 9, K. T.; Allen Council, No. 23; Harrisburg Con-
sistory, 32°, and Rajah Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S. He
also belongs to the Knights of Malta, Reading Lodge of
Elks, Wyomissing Club, the I. O. U. A., the Union
Fire Company, No. 13, and the Reading Board of Trade.
Mr. Fink has always taken deep interest in all the affairs
of the city, and has devoted a great deal of time in the in-
terest of progressive movements.

GEORGE D. HUMBERT, who stands in the front raiik
of attorneys at the Berks county Bar, has resided in
Reading since 1897. He hails from Kutztown, where he
was born Aug. 21, 1871, son of John Humbert, and grand-
son of George Humbert, of Kutztown.

George Humbert, the grandfather, was a farmer for
some years, and later engaged in carpentering at Kutztown,
winning considerable fame as a builder of fine barns. He
was the owner of considerable real estate, all of which he
acquired by his own efforts. He married Susanna Biehl,
of Richmond township, and they had three children : Jacob,
a school teacher who died in young manhood ; Edwin, who
died at his home in Kutztown about 1900; and John.

John Humbert, son of George, was born in Kutztown in
1833, and was reared on a farm in Maxatawny township.
An a young man he learned the carpenter's trade, but
later began teaching in the public schools, and after some
years of experience there became an instructor in the
Maxatawny Academy. His next work was as a teacher in
Prof. H. R. Nicks's Academy, which later developed into
the Keystone State Normal School. For many years he was
trustee of this school, and was most active in the best
interest of the institution, having superintended the erec-
tion of a number of its large buildings. He successfully
conducted a shoe store in Kutztown for eighteen years,
and in 1878 sold out to William Sheradin. He then de-
voted himself to surveying and to his work as justice of the
peace, which office he held for twenty-five years. In
politics he was a Democrat. For a number of years he
was an official in Trinity Lutheran Church. He was a
charter member and master of Huguenot Lodge, F. & A.
M., of Kutztown. His death occurred May 16, 1896, in his
sixty-fourth year.

John Humbert married Elizabeth Wanner, who was a
daughter of Jacob Wanner, of Kutztown. The Wanners
were an old and honored family of Maxatawny township.
Mr. and Mrs. Humbert were the parents of five children,
two of whom are deceased. The surviving children are:
Lizzie E. (m. U. J. Miller, a traveling salesman at Kutz-
town) ; Maggie (m. Allen S. Christ, a stationer of Kutz-
town) ; and George D.

George D. Humbert received excellent education ad-
vantages, passing from the public schools of Kutztown to
the Keystone State Normal School, and graduating from
the latter institution in 1889, after which he took a post-



456



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA



graduate course for one year. He then taught
school, teaching for one year in the grammar school of
KutztQwn, then one year at the high school, and for
four years was principal of the schools of Bath, North-
ampton county, Pa. While at the latter place he intro-
duced the course of study and system of grading yet
used there with great success.

In 1895 Mr. Humbert became a law student in the office
of George W. Wagner, and on Nov. 14, 1898, he was ad-
mitted to practice at the Berks county Bar, and he has
since been admitted to the Superior and Supreme courts.
He has built up an enviable practice and has been in-
terested in some of the hard fought and most prominent
criminal and civil cases in the last decade. Among these
cases handled by him in a manner that has won him high
repute may be mentioned the Commonwealth vs. Antonio
Taddei, Sr., in which case he was of counsel for the de-
fense (the defendant was charged with killing three men
on Penn street, on the night of July 3, 1901, and
was acquitted) ; the Commionwealth vs. Ernes, charged with
murder in the first degree, but convicted only for involun-
tary manslaughter; Weidenmyer vs. Jackson Rope Walk,
the plaintifif receiving a verdict of $1,400 for finger torn
out; Commonwealth vs. Salvatore Garreto, who was
charged with killing a state policeman ; and many others.
Mr. Humbert's well-appointed officers are at No. 40 Sixth
street, Reading. In 1902-03 he was solicitor for the County
Alms House, and he has since been a popular candidate for
district attorney. He is a prominent and influential Demo-
crat, was chairman of the City Executive Committee, (in
1902), and also a member of the County Standing Commit-
tee of the Fifth ward, Reading. In the midst of his busy
professional life he has still found time to take an interest
in the cause of education, and for a time was an instructor
in night school. In 1898 he succeeded his father as a
trustee of the Keystone State Normal School, being one of
two trustees from Reading, and he is a member of the
Finance and Accounts committees.

Mr. Humbert is a member of Huguenot Lodge, No.
377, F. & A. M., of Kutztown; Reading Chapter, No.
152, R. A. M.; De Molay Commandery, No. 9, K. T. ;
Philadelphia Consistory; and Rajah Temple, A. A. O. N.
■M. S. ; Washington Camp, No. 163, P. O. S. of A. ; Court
Victory, No. 123, F. of A.; and Lodge No. 115, B. P. O.
E.. of Reading, of which he is Past Exalted Ruler.

On Nov. 14, 1906, Mr. Humbert married Gussie L. Pen-
nock, of Reading, and they now reside at No. 604 North
Third street, Reading.

JAMES NOLAN, president of the Reading Trust Com-
pany, and for many years engaged as a railroad con-
tractor, was born Jan. 9, 1844, in the town of Clonaslee,
Queen's County, Ireland.

James Nolan, his father, was born in Ireland in 1798.
He married Annie Bennett, of the same country, by whom
he had children as follows : Mary married Dennis Mc-
Avoy; Catharine m. William Kearns; Charles m. Kath-
erine Eisenbise ; William m. Kate McDonough ; Thomas
m. Nellie Jackson ; James ; Edward m. Mary Leader.
The father, in 1849, determined to emigrate to America,
and he and his two daughters proceeded to New York
to make arrangements for the rest of the family, the
mother and sons joining them the following year. He
carried on the business of stone-cutter at New York until
1855, and then moved to Wernersville, Berks county, to
engage in stone bridge work on the Lebanon Valley rail-
road. He died in 1857, aged fifty-nine years ; his wife



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 120 of 227)