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 146 of 227)
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ion. Mrs. Kline died Nov. 28, 1901, and he married
(second) in 1904, the widow of Selas M. Shade, by
whom he has also had one child, Harry.

ARTHUR WITTICH, a dealer in pianos and organs,
and a prominent and representative man of Reading, Pa.j
doing business at No. 116 South Sixth street, was born
in Reading, Berks county, July 2, 1860, son of John D.
and Harriet (Peifer) Wittich.

John Wittich, our subject's grandfather, lived in Hesse
Cassel, Germany, aii of his life, was a general merchant
there and quite a prominent man' He and his wife,
whose name is not known, were the parents of seven
children, five sons and two daughters, and of these four
came to America, their names being : Henry, George,
John D., and Margaret, the latter of whom married
Henry Goelz, and resided in Reading.

John D. Wittich came to America in 1842, and set-
tled _ first in Philadelphia. _ He had learned the shoje-
Imaking business in his native country, and was also a
musician of some note, as well as a composer of much
ability. He resided in Philadelphia for about five years
and there gave instructions on the violin and other in-
struments. He settled in Reading in 1847 and upon mak-
ing this his home, took charge of the leading orchestras
of the city, conducting them for the following thirty
years. His wife was a daughter of Henry Peifer, also
a native of Germany, where a part of his family was
reared, his two youngest children, however, being born
in this country. The eight children born to Mr. and
Mrs. John D. Wittich were : Margaret (m. John W,
Gerdemann, and resided in Philadelphia) ; George (de-
ceased) ; Anna (died young) ; Catherine (m. Rev. N.
C. Fetter, and lives in Doylestown, Pa.) ; Elizabeth and
Stricklin (deceased); Arthur; and Valeria (living in
Reading" at the old Wittich homestead. No. 310 South
Fifth street). The Wittich family were members of the
Reformed Church, while the Peifers were Lutherans.
In politics Mr. Wittich was a Democrat, but took no
active interest in party work.

Arthur Wittich received his education in the schools
of Reading, and after graduating from the Reading high
school entered the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music
from which he was graduated. He was then instructed
by some of the best and most noted masters o;f En-
rope and America, and the following twenty-five years
were devoted exclusively to teaching music, in which
profession he was very successful. He bears the re-
putation of being an expert in this and other branches
of his art. Since practically giving up the instruction of
music he has devoted his time to selling pianos and play-
er pianos. He is well known in Berks and adjoining
counties, and_ goods purchased from him can be relied
upon to be just as represented. He has one of the
best equipped show rooms in the city, located at No.
116 South Sixth street, where first-class salesmen are
constantly on hand to display goods. His store is well
stocked with the leading inakes of pianos, among them
being the Steinway, Kranich & Bach, Hardman, Pack-
ard. Harrington, McPhail and Sterling.

Mr. Wittich married, in 1882, Miss Kate Schrader,
daughter of Charles E. Schrader, of the firm of Schra-
der & Kline, and three children have been born to this



union : Otto, Carl and Leon. The family are Luther-
ans. In politics Mr. Wittich is a Democrat. He is a
member of the Royal Arcanum.

CHARLES P. HIGH, a prosperous coal merchant of
Reading, Pa., who is also engaged in the flour and feed
business, with yards and office at No. 313 Rose street,
was born in Cumru township, Berks county, son of
William R. and Lydia A. (Krick) High.

Charles P. High received his education in the schools
of his native township, and during his boyhood worked
upon his father's farm. At the age of nineteen years he
left the farm and went to Pliiladelphia, engaging_ with
the Phoenix Plumbago Mining Company, and while in
the employ of that company attended a business col-
lege. He subsequently returned to Reading, entering
the employ of his brother, of D. K. High & Co., who
was carrying on the coal, flour and feed business in
Reading, which had been established in 1887 by him,
and Mr. High continued in this business ' until 1890-;
when he accepted a position at the Philadelphia _&
Reading freight house. At the end of _ one year, in
company with George Richardson, Mr. High established
the present successful business, and one year later Mr.
Richardson withdrew, Mr. High's father engaging in bus-
iness with him, under the firm name of High & Son.
This connection continued until 1903, when the elder
High withdrew, and since that time Charles P. has suc-
cessfully conducted the business alone. He is a very
enterprising business man, of much ability, and his
honesty and integrity have never been questioned.

Mr. Charles P. High was married, in 1895, to Miss
Cora Hechler, daughter of William A. Hechler, of Spring
township, and in religious belief Mr. and Mrs. High
are .connected with the Reformed Church. Fraternally
he is connected with the P. O. S. of A., and the Order
of Independent Americans.

THOMAS A. BOYER, a well-known citizen and en-
terprising business man of Reading, Pa., is a native
of that city, born May 1, 1853, son of Isaac and Mary
(Dickinson) Boyer, and grandson of Thomas Boyer,
for many years a prosperous farmer of Dauphin county.

Isaac Boyer came from Dauphin county to Reading
when a young man, and was employed by a corporation
as a teamster, an occupation which he followed all of
his life. In religious belief he was a Quaker. He and
his wife were the parents of these children : Thomas
A., William, Harrison, Annie (m. Jacob Carl), Alice
(m. James Reigel), Jemima (m. Joseph Levan) and two
children died in infancy. Isaac Boyer died in 1896, aged
seventy-two years, and his wife in 1894, when sixty-
nine years of age.

Thomas A. Boyer received his literary training in the
public schools of the city of his nativity, and when
a young man was employed by the Reading Pipe Mill,
with which concern he remained for a period of ten
years. In 1883 he commenced the manufacture of rag
carpets, in which he has continued to the present time,
with much success. He has a large and profitable bus-
iness, his factory being- located at the corner of Pearl
and Bingaman streets, and in addition to carpets he han-
dles rugs, linoleums, oil cloth and art squares.

Mr. Boyer was married in 1879 to Hannah E. Snyder,
and both are valued members of the M. E. Church, in
which Mr. Boyer has held various offices, while Mrs.
Boyer is very active in church work, and much inter-
ested in advancing the cause of charity, devoting her-
self especially to the finding of homes for homeless
and friendless women who have passed the age of self-
suipport.

DAVID L. HEINLY, who, with his son, John E., is
doing business under the name of the Reading Engrav-
ing Company, at Reading, Pa., is a prominent and influ-
ential business man of that city. He was born on the
old homestead farm, near Virginville, Berks county, Jan
31, 1836, son of George, and grandson of John George
Heinly.



53a



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA



David L. Heinly was educated in the public schools,
and then engaged in a general store business at South
Evansville from 1858 to 1867, and then went to Ham-
burg, where he conducted a similar establishment for
four years. He then engaged in the hardware business,
with his brother William, for eight years, the next four
years traveled for the Bard Reber Hardware Co., Read-
ing, and the following eighteen years for the Seltzer-
Klahr Hdw. Co., of Philadelphia. He then engaged in the
engraving business with his son, John E., as the Read-
ing Engraving Company, at No. 604 Court street, and
this venture has proved a great success. Mr. Heinly
belongs to St. Luke's Liutheran Church. In politics he
is a Democrat, was a school director at Evansville and a
councilman at Hamburg.

David L. Heinly belongs to the Masons, having joined
that Order in 1869. He has been a member of the Blue
Lodge since that time, and has been a Knight Templar
since 1886. He is also connected with the Odd Fellows,
having joined that order in 1870. The Heinly family
has an association and holds annual reunions, the last'
few having been held at Kutztown Park. David L. Hein-
ly is president of the association, which numbers from
500 to 600 people, and one of his sons, Harvey F. Hein-
ly, a sketch of whom will be found elsewhere in this
volume, is secretary.

John E. Heinly, his father's partner in the engraving
business, was born July 8, 1867, at Hamburg, and was
educated in the public schools. He learned the trade
of engraver and worked at this occupation for some
years in New York, starting in that business at Read-
ing in 1890. Mr. Heinly was married May 33, 1895,
to Bess Maguire, daughter of William Maguire, deceased,
of Reading, and four children have been born to this
union : Martha, Katheryn, Marian and David, the first
two named at school. Mr. lieinly belongs to St. Luke's
Lutheran Church. Like his father he is a Democrat.

C. GILBERT STEI - FE, late of Reading, was in the
service of the Philadelphia & Reading Railway Company
for over fifty years before his retirement, in 1904. For
a number of years previously he acted as general road
foreman for the company. He was an expert in his
line and recognized as such in railroad circles all over
the country.

Mr. Steffe was a native of Lancaster county, Pa., born
in Earl township, Jan. 26, 1834, son of Frederick and
Annia (linger) Steffe, who were farming people. Some-
what late in life his father went to Ohio, where he en-
gaged in agricultural pursuits and remained to the close
of his days. , j

Mr. Steffe spent his boyhood and youth in the public
schools of Earl township, helping his father at farm-
ing. At the age of eighteen he came to Reading, where
he became an apprentice in the machine shop of the Phil-
adelphia & Reading Company. He remained in the shops
there three years, for he had determined even then to
learn the business of practical railroading from the very
beginning. In 1855 he began on the road as brakeman,
and later was fireman on both passenger and freight en-
gines, all of which at that time burned wood. During
the years 1853-54 he was on the Williamsport branch,
with Reading engines, in 1855 returning to Reading, and
becoming fireman for passenger trains on the well known
"Mohawk" and other engin.es then quite famous. Pic
was made fireman for the "Illinois," the first engine in
the United States to burn anthracite coal.

In 1858 Mr. Steffe was promoted to the position of en-
gineer, running trains on the main line. When the Civil
war broke out he and others connected with the motive
department of the road, evinced a desire to enlist in the
service of the Union, but the superintendent requested
them to stand by the railroad, arguing that they were
needed there as badly as at the front. The superintend-
ent then went to Washington, D. C, and after an inter-
view with Lincoln and Stanton secured exemption pap-
ers for Mr. Steffe and others whose services he wished
to retain. During the battle of Gettysburg, Mr. Steffe



was under orders to hold a train at Harrisburg, ready
to take all the valuable documents there to Philadelphia
in case of Lee's victory. In 1866 he was appointed en-
gine examiner, to take charge of the engines as they came
out of the shops, and he remained in that position until
1871. In that year he was sent with efficient help to in-
stall what was known as the "pop valves" over the whole
system. His mind was constantly on the alert for a solu-
tion of the various problems of his work, and in 1876
he assisted in the arrangement of a means of improv-
ing engines so that they could burn all kinds oi fuel, and
especially fine anthracite coal.

Through all these years Mr. Steffe was steadily gain-
ing recognition as an expert in his line, and when, in
March, 1878, the great engine "412" was made in the
Reading shops, to be sent to the Paris Exposition, he
oversaw its packing and shipment, and then went over
to France to install it in its place. Returning in July
of that year, he spent some time in experimental work
on the New England railroads in the interest of the
Philadelphia & Reading Railway Company, and in Octo-
ber, 1878, made a second trip to Paris to install "413"
on the road. During the winter of 1878 and spring of
1879, prior to the opening of the exposition he traveled
through France operating the engine on the different
railroads in that country, and thence went to Switzer-
land, Germany, and Italy, running his engine in each
of these countries. In November, 1879, he returned to
America with his engine, on his arrival in America being
appointed road foreman of engines with headquarters
in Philadelphia. There he remained until transferred to
Reading in 1888, as general road foreman, a position
he was still holding when put on the company's retired
list, March 2, 1904, after a faithful service of just fifty-
two years. When Mr. Steffe entered the employ of the
Reading Company they had only between fifty-five and
sixty engines, and at the time of his retirement the equip-
ment included eleven hundred. Though all of this large
number were under his charge he was able to locate
any engine and day of the year, a feat considered remark-
able even among railroad men. During his career he
had many experiences not included in the duties of the
average railroad man, and was called upon to exercise his
resourcefulness in various unusual circumstances. While
at Milan, competing with the French, English and Ital-
ian engine builders, he had some exciting as well as
enjoyable experiences. It was necessary for him to be
constantly on his guard against the Italians, who made
every conceivable effort to create the impression that
the American engine was not equal to theirs, especially
as regarded consumption of fuel. But Mr. Steffe was
ready at every turn, and succeeded in convincing the
judges that the Americans were not only the best builders
but also capable of caring for their own interests.

Mr. Steffe enjoyed nearly half a century of happy mar-
ried life. Wedded in June, 1858, to Esther, daughter of
John Hill, their union was unbroken until March 25, 1905,
when Mrs. Steffe passed from this world. She left no
children. Mr. Steffe continued to reside at No. 106
North Ninth street, during the remainder of his life.
Mr. Steffe was a member of a number of organizations,
principally of fraternal character, and he was an enthusi-
astic Mason, belonging to Lodge No. 63, F. & A. M. ;
Reading Chapter, No. 152, R. A. M. ; De Molay Com-
mandery, No. 9 ; and Philadelphia Consistory. On Sept.
19, 1893, the Thirty-third degree was conferred upon him,
in Chicago, and he was enrolled as an Honorary Member
of the Supreme Council of the Ancient Accepted Scot-
tish Rite for the Northern IMasonic Jurisdiction of the
United States of America, and on the same date was
made a member of the Royal Order of Scotland. Mr.
Steffe was also a member of the Philadelphia Veteran
Association. In Maj', 1907, Mr. Steffe attended the Ma-
sonic gathering at Los Angeles, Cal., and was on his way
home in the train wrecked in Honda, Cal., Mav 11th,
meeting his death in that frightful accident.

Mr. Steffe was a man of real achievement, actively con-
cerned in the forwarding of our country's material ad-



BIOGRAPHICAL



533



vancement, and his work won the unstinted respect of all
informed on the general subject of railroading.

THOMAS JEFFERSON OBERLIN, a school teach-
er in Berks county for over twenty-three years, and a
wholesale florist of Sinking Spring, was born at Schaef-
ferstown, Lebanon county, June 21, 1850, son of Levi
Schaeffer and Elizabeth (Spangler) Oberlin. He was
educated in the local schools, the Palatinate College and
the Ursinus College, qualifying himself for the pro-
fession of teaching. In 1868 when eighteen years of
age, he began teaching public school in the vicinity of
Epler's Church, in Bern township, Berks county, and he
continued teaching in different parts of the county until
1876, when he located at Sinking Spring, and a year lat-
er opened a private school. He there established an in-
stitution under the name of the Charter Oak Academy,
in the Mull Mansion, which he carried on successfully
for fifteen years, being supported by pupils from the
village and vicinity. Then the township school directors
erected a large two-story brick building, and established
graded schools, which caused Prof. Oberlin to abandon
his academy. Having made a special study of botany
and flowers since his boyhood, he naturally turned his
attention to the extensive cultivation of flowers, and he
has pursued this business in the line of cut flowers
during_ the spring, summer and fall seasons until the present
time, in a very successful manner, making almost daily
shipments to large wholesale dealers in Philadelphia and
New York.

Prof. Oberlin made a valuable collection of the flora
in Berks county, which he arranged and classified scien-
tifically, the specimens numbering over 1,000, and including
several species which are exceedingly rare. Among
these he found the very rare orchid, Pogonia affinis, C.
F. Austin, in June, 1883, in Cumru township, this county,
the third station known for it in Pennsylvania, and the
fourth in the United States. This specimen was deposited
in the herbarium of Lafayette College, Easton, Pa. For
this extraordinary work of classifying the Berks flora, he
was highly complimented by the late Prof. Thomas C.
Porter, of Lafayette College, the recognized authority on
botany in Pennsylvania. Apropos of the subject of botany.
Prof. Oberlin, in July, 1907, read a very practical paper,
"The Redemption of the Hog Backs," before the Florists'
Club of Philadelphia, at its session in Horticultural Hall,
which paper was widely published in the floral journals
of this country.

Upon locating in Sinking Spring Prof. Oberlin identi-
fied himself with St. John's Reformed Church, and he
took an active part in organizing the first Reformed
Sunday-school in the village and became its first superin-
tendent, serving in this position for several years. Since
1897 he has been officiating as a member of the consistory,
acting as secretary of that body.

In 1902 Prof. Oberlin laid out the Mull plantation in the
eastern section of the village into building lots, which num-
ber altogether nearly 1,000, and a considerable part of
these lots have been sold. They have taken the local
name of "Oberlin's addition."

Prof. Oberlin married Eva Ann Mull, daughter of Reu-
ben Mull, of Sinking Spring, and widow of Dr. William
J. Thirwechter, of Stouchsbutg. By her he has four
children: Elizabeth, Mrs. Irvin R. Huyett; Eva Maria,
Mrs. Harry W. Burgner; Frederica, Mrs. Floyd E.
Groff ; and Reuben L. Mrs. Oberlin had a daughter by her
first husband, Marguerite, who married Dr. Thomas G.
Binkley, a practicing physician at Sinking Spring.

Levi Schaeffer Oberlin was born in 1818 and died in 1893.
He married Elizabeth Spangler, and had these childreri :
Thomas J.; William Wallace, m. Lillie F. Sallade; Levi
F. .m. Eveline A. K. Myers ; Ida Elizabeth m. Daniel F.
Lynch; John Charles m. Kate V. Souders; Tamar A. m.
Harry T. Myers; and George F., died in infancy.

Frederick Oberlin, father of Levi S., and grandfather
of Thomas J., was born near Schaefferstown, Lebanon
county, in 1775i For many years he was the owner and
landlord of the "Franklin House" at Schaefferstown, which



was built by Alexander SchaeflFer in 1746. He died in
1840. He married Maria Schaeffer, daughter of Capt.
Henry Schaeffer, and granddaughter of Alexander Schaeff-
er.

John Adam Oberlin, lather of Frederick, married Mar-
garet Stober, and his father, the great-great-grandfather
of Thomas J., was Michael Oberlin, who emigrated from
Germany in 1751, and settled in the vicinity of SchaeflFers-
town.

Capt. Henry Schaeffer, father of Mrs. Maria (Schaeff-
er) Oberlin, was a captain in the Revolutionary war, and
his company was included in the Second Battalion of Penn-
sylvania Associators from Lancaster county. This com-
pany was engaged in active "service in the battle of Long
Island, in August, 1776. In 1777 and 1778 he served as a
justice of the peace, and as such administered the oath of
allegiance to more than 360 persons at Schaefferstown.
He married Anna Eva Schweitzer, by whom he had six
children, of whom Maria was the third. Capt. Schaeffer's
father, Alexander Schaeffer, was born in 1712 in the Pal-
atinate, Germany, and emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1738,
landing at Philadelphia. He was accompanied by his
wife and several children. It was he who laid out and
founded Schaefferstown in 1758.

EDWARD PENGELLY, one of the substantial men of
Reading^ senior member of the printing firm of Edward
Pengelly & Brother, was born in 1856, in Cornwall, Eng-
land, son of Michael and Frances (Merrifield) Pengelly.

Michael Pengelly came to the United States in 1866,
having previously worked as a miner in Chile, South Amer-
ica, for six years. He died in Nevada City, Cal., in 1867.
His widow came to America in 1873. with two sons and
two daughters, namely : Emily, Edward, Harriet and James
H. In religious belief the family are Methodists.

Edward Pengelly was seventeen years old when he ac-
companied . his mother to America, locating at Reading,
Pa. Ten days later, Oct. 13, 1873, he entered the office
of the Reading Eagle as an apprentice, where he worked
until 1880, when he was engaged as a compositor on the
Reading News, where he continued for six years, or until
it suspended. Mr. Pengelly then went West and for a
time worked at Butte City, Montana, and later at Center-
ville, a suburb of Butte, where he was foreman for six
months of the Mining Journal under Mr. Penrose, who
was later murdered. He then returned to Reading, and,
in company with five other practical printers, started the
Daily Telegram, retaining his interest for four years,
when he sold out and entered into partnership with Adam
G. Harner in book and job printing. They began business
under the name of Harner & Pengelly, and the partnership
lasted until 1899. On May 10th of that year the present
firm was organized, under the name of Edward Pengelly &
Brother, and they control a fair share of the better class
of the printing trade of Reading.

In 1893 Mr. Pengelly was married to Emma G. Boyer,
daughter of Alvin N. Boyer, and they have one daughter,
Frances Merrifield. In 1884 Mr. Pengelly became identi-
fied with the Masonic fraternity, and is a member of St.
John's Lodge, No. 435. He belongs also to Mount Penn
Lodge, I. 0. O. F. In politics he is independent. In 1903
Mr. Pengelly -enjoyed a pleasant visit to his old home in
England.

JOSEPH D. C. UMBLE. One of the familiar figures
in the public life of Reading is Joseph D. C. Umble, pro-
prietor of the "Mansion House," a hotel favorably known,
throughput the East. Since 1893 Mr. Umble has in some
way, or in some capacity, been identified with the "Man-
sion." He is the son of Capt. Joseph and Phoebe (Dick-
inson) Umble_, the former a prominent figure in the poli-
tical and business life of Lancaster county, and one of
the well-known veterans of the Civil war. He died in Read-
ing, March 1, 1905, at the age of seventy-seven. years. At
the outbreak of the Rebellion he was one of the first to in-
terest himself in his country's defense, raised a company,
went at once to the front, participating in all the privations
that fall to the lot of the soldier. After the war he was



534



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA



prominent in civil life, being a justice of the peace for a
number of years, and register of wills of Lancaster coun-
ty during 1882-83-84. Mrs. Umble, mother of Joseph D.
C., together with her two daughters, Anna Mary and Ida
E., have their home at the "Mansion House," and assist
in its management. Phoebe E., the third daughter, is the
wife of R. M. Breneiser, a wholesale tobacconist of Read-
ing. The father of Mrs. Umble was Henry Dickinson,
one of the prominent husbandmen of Lancaster county. _

Joseph D. C. Umble was born in Salisbury township,
Lancaster Co., Pa., March 26, 1867. He passed the for-
mative period of his life on the home farm, securing a good
common school education in the village of Christiana, and
in the Yeates Institute at Lancaster. When his father was
elected to the ofSce of register of wills, he entered the



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 146 of 227)