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 158 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 158 of 227)
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The following extract from an interesting account of
his funeral was taken from the Philadelphia Tintes:
"On Thanksgiving night the remains of Father Dris-
coll lay in state at St. Peter's Church, where several
thousand persons took a last view of the familiar feat-
ures then cold in death Members of the

T. A. B. Society acted as guard of honor during the
night On Friday morning Solemn Re-
quiem Mass was chanted by Rev. Thomas Farrelly of
St. James Parish, West Philadelphia, celebrant; Rev
Michael McCabe, of St. Agatha's, deacon; Rev. J. Kier-
nan, of St. Paul's, sub-deacon; and Rev. P. J. McMahon
master of ceremonies, who had been his classmates, and
were ordained with him at the Cathedral. Absolution
of the body was pronounced by Right Rev. Bishop
Prendergast, of the Philadelphia diocese, after which
an impressive sermon was delivered by Rev P J Gar
vey, p. D of St. James Church, Philadelphia, k life-
long friend of Father DriscoU's who took for his text



568



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA



Verses, 8, 9, 10, 1,1, 13, 14 and 15, Chapter IV, Book of
Wisdom:

" 'For venerable old age is not that of long time, nor
counted by the number of years, but the understandmg
of a man is gray hairs.

'• 'And a spotless life is old age.

" 'He pleased God, and was beloved, and livmg among
sinners he was translated. , , ,,

" 'He was taken away, lest wickedness should alter
his understanding, or deceit beguile his soul.

" 'Being made perfect in a short space, he fulfilled a
long time.

" 'For his soul pleased God, therefore he hastened to
bring him out of the midst of iniquities, but the people
see this and understand not, nor lay up such things in
their hearts. . . , tt-

" 'That the grace of God and His mercy is with His
Saints, and that He has respect to His chosen.'

"He paid a glowing tribute to the well-known nobil-
ity of soul and high intellectual qualities possessed by
the departed young clergyman.

"There were a number of religious societies m at-
tendance, and upward of eighty clergymen participated
in the solemn, impressive ceremony, which truly inani-
fested their great love for this promising and admirable
young priest, and their deep sorrow at his untimely de-
parture."

JACOB KNABB, in whose death, which occurred Jan.
30, 1889, at his home in Reading, this city and section lost
a man of more than ordinary distinction, was born in
Union township, Berks county, Aug. 21, 1817, son of Jacob,
Sr., and Hannah (Yoder) Knabb, and grandson of Michael
and Eve Magdalena (.Seltzer) Knabb.

Michael Knabb, the grandfather, was a native of Bavaria,
born at Pfeldersheim, in the Pfalz, April 17, 1717. About
1737, in company with his two brothers, John and Peter,
he came to America, and settled near the Exeter township
line, in Oley township, Berks county. Pa., on the farm
now occupied by Samuel B. Knabb. The old house was
burned in 1816-17, and the same year the present_ house
was erected. A family cemetery on the farm contaifis the
remains of the three brothers and many of their descend-
ants. John died in the forty-eighth year of his age,
unmarried, but Peter lived to his seventy-fourth year and
left a numerous progeny. Michael Ivnabb married, on
March 11, 1755, Eve Magdalena Seltzer, only child of
Jacob and Elizabeth Seltzer, of Heidelberg township, and
they became the parents of eight children : Nicholas, Peter,
Jacob. Daniel, Susan, Sarah, Catharine and Mary. Mich-
ael Knabb died June 17, 1778, in the sixty-second year
of his age, and was laid to rest in the family cemetery
above mentioned.

Jacob Knabb, son of Michael, was born in Oley town-
ship in 1771. Soon after his marriage, in 1800, he moved
to Union township, where he prospered as a farmer. He
died in February, 1825. In 1800 he married Hannah Yoder,
daughter of John Yoder, and a descendant of John (Han-
sel) Yoder, a Huguenot, who on account of religious
persecution emigrated from Switzerland in the early
part of the eighteenth century, and went first to England,
thence coming to America and locating early in Oley
township, Berks county. From John (Hansel) Yoder,
Mrs. Knabb's descent is through John (3) and Daniel.
To Jacob and Hannah (Yoder) Knabb were born six
children : Daniel, George, Jacob, Margaret, Catharine and
Hannah. The mother died in August, 1824.

Jacob Knabb, son of Jacob, and the subject of this
sketch, was but seven years old when his parents died.
Until he was about eleven he attended the pay schools
of the township, making his home with an elder sister.
He apprenticed himself to learn the printer's trade under
George Getz, of the Berks and Schuylkill Journal, and re-
mained there until Mr. Getz sold the paper. By this time
Mr. Knabb realized the benefit of an education, and he
set about remedying his deficiency in that line, studying for
one year in the Lititz school, and for another year
in Lafayette College. From the time he left college until



1840 he was engaged in printing in Reading, and in Har-
risburg. In the latter city he worked on the Harrisburg
Telegraph, where the State printing was done, and he
held the position of foreman for a time. In 1840, with
Mr. J. Lawrence Getz, he began the publication of a
weekly paper, the Reading Gazette, but in 1843 he sold his
share, and the next year found him in Harrisburg, pub-
lishing the Clay Bugle, a campaign paper. In 1845 he
came back to Reading and became the editor of the Berks
and Schuylkill Journal, some time later becoming also its
proprietor. This he continued for about forty-five years.
In 1866 he associated two partners with himself, and the
firm became J. Knabb & Co. Three years later (1869)
they purchased the Reading Daily Times, and some years
afterward the Evening Dispatch, and the two papers were
consolidated under the name of Reading Times and Dis-
patch, and published daily and weekly. Prosperity .attended
the venture, and in 1881 Mr. Knabb erected the substantial
four-story brick building, which became the paper's home.

Mr. Knabb's mature life was devoted to the interests
of Reading, and he was particularly prominent in all
public movements which contributed to the spread of
educatibn. The Reading Library received his assistance
for many years, and for many years he was its president,
up to the time of his death. During the Civil war he re-
sponded to the call for emergency militia in 1863, and
after the battle of Gettysburg he served in Maryland as
a member of Company C, 42d P. V. I.

Mr. Knabb cast his first vote in support of the Whig
party, and when the Republican party was formed he be-
came one of its active supporters, acting for some years
as chairman of the county Republican committee. In 1860
he was a delegate to the Chicago Convention from the
Berks district, which nominated Abraham Lincoln for Pres-
ident. He was postmaster of Reading under that admin-
istration, and in 1876 he was Presidential elector from this
Congressional district and cast his ballot for President
Hayes. He was prominent and influential in party politics
for a quarter of a century.

In 1878 Mr. Knabb, with a friend as a companion, made
an extended tour through Europe, and his letters, pub-
lished from time to time in his paper, were so full of
interest that he was urged to publish them in book
form, but with his natural modesty he declined. In 1856
he published the first directory of Reading.

Mr. Knabb was twice married. In 1846 he married
Ellen C. .Andrews, daughter of Machiavel Andrews. Dur-
ing the Civil war she was active in caring for soldiers in
the local hospital, and was in charge of one of the de-
partments of the Sanitary Fair, at Philadelphia. She was
a member of Christ Episcopal Church, and was a great
friend of the poor and needy. Her death in 1875 was
universally regretted. In 1879 Mr. Knabb married (sec-
ond) Ellen M. Jameson, daughter of James and Mary
(Worman) Jameson, the former a well-known and suc-
cessful merchant at Reading. Mr. Knabb early became a
communicant of the Episcopal Church, and served as ves-
trymen many years. He held the confidence and good-
will of all.

BRUNNER. The Brunner family is an old and
honorable one in Berks county, and its representatives
in each generation have borne it worthily, among its
more prominent members being the late Hon. David B.
Brunner, a representative from the Ninth Congress-
ional District of Pennsylvania, and his brother William
B. Brunner. now of Amity township, and both prom-
inent in the educational world.

Peter Brunner, a Palatinate from Erbach, a town
noted for its vineyards, in the vicinity of Coblentz, on
the Rhine, came to America on the ship "Albany" with
284 other passengers, landing at Philadelphia. Sept.
2, 1749. There were two men on board by the name
of Peter Brunner and at the arrival in Philadelphia,
one signed his name, and the other's name was written
by a clerk. It is not likely that they were related
as they separated after landing. The one who signed
his name went, soon after, to New Hanover, Montgom-



BIOGRAPHICAL



569



ery Co., Pa., and settled there. He was unmarried
■when he came over, but must have married shortly
after. About 1765 he moved to Douglass township,
Berks county, and bought a farm along Iron Stone
Creek. The deed was not recorded and the tax lists
are missing prior to 1770, at which time his name ap-
pears on the tax list. By occupation he was a farmer
and weaver, carrying on both for a number of years.
He acquired considerable property. He sold his son
William, Aug. 4, 1800, thirty-eight acres, sixty-three
perches. In 1787 he served as a tax collector in
Douglass township. It was customary in those days
for families or neighbors to get together and set apart
ground for burial purposes. In accordance with this
custom, those residing in Douglass township set apart
85j perches about one and one-half miles west of
Little Oley for the burial place of Lutherans and Cal-
vinists, and the road leading thereto was deeded by
John Keely, to Henry Yorgey, Sr., Jacob Keely, Sr.,
Peter Brunner and John Nagle for the consideration of
six pence Dec. 17, 1790. Peter Brunner was a Lutheran,
and joined the church at New Hanover, continuing his
membership there after his removal to Berks county.
The first record of the family is the birth of his first
child, Nov. 1, 1752. He was evidently married at New
Hanover, but the records are so badly worn it is im-
possible to trace his full connection with the church,
but New Hanover was a Lutheran center. Peter Brun-
ner had three sons and four daughters: Philip, born
Nov. 1, 1752, was always a delicate child; William, born
Dec. 5, 1753; George, born April 7, 1755; Christina
Nagle; Elizabeth Wentzel; Maria Eagle; and Margaret
Heilig. On Aug. 4, 1804, Peter Brunner made his will
and gave all his property to his wife except sixteen
bonds, amounting to 800 pounds. The wife died before
1808, and Peter's will was probated Oct. 16, 1813. He
was rather corpulent and while assisting in gathering
"second crop" was stricken with apoplexy. He was
eighty-four years of age when he died in 1812, and he
was buried in the Fritz Burving Gro und which he had
helped to provide.

William Brunner, son of Peter, was born Dec. 5, 1753,
in New Hanover, and accompanied his father to Doug-
lass township in 1765. Like his father he became a
farmer in summer and a weaver in winter. The tax lists
are missing for some years previous to 1778, when his
name appears. In August, 1808, as' stated above, he
bought 38 A. 63 P. from his father. In 1805 he was
assessed on 138 acres, in 1808 on 36 acres, and in 1811
on 176 acres. He lived in Douglass township, Berks
county, until the death of his father in 1812, when he
sold his farm and moved to Pottsgrove (now Potts-
town), where he continued to farm and weave. He
was not satisfied with his place and surroundings at
Pottsgrove, and one 'of his causes of discontent was
that he thought his farm was not in the range in which
the rains generally moved. He discovered that the
people north of Monocacy Hill had more rain than in
his locality, and he also noticed that on some occa-
sions the rain clouds came fromi a northwesterly direc-
tion, and seemed to strike against Monocacy Hill, and
separate, bringing showers to the people east and west
of the Hill. He determined to sell and move north of
Monocacy Hill where the people were blessed with a
greater rain supply. Accordingly he sold his farm, and
bought two tracts of John Kinze, about one and one-
half miles north of Monocacy Hill for 2,500 pounds
$6,666 2-3), Pennsylvania -currency, June 29, 1819. The
larger tract, owned by Mrs. Henrietta Hess in 1895.
contains 92 A. 83 P., while the other was a tract of
woodland a mile south of the one just mentioned. Wil-
liam Brunner was a man of restless nature. Taking a
fancy to a farm, he thought that place the only place
he could be happy, and as s.oon as he found himself the
owner he saw another place still more desirable. As a
result he made no less than eleven sales and purchases.
He was fond of good horses, and took great pride in



driving a lively team. When he lived on his farm in
Amity, he purchased his groceries and other household
supplies in Pottstown, and in winter when nearly
seventy years old he would drive to Pottstown in his
sleigh, standing up, and always at a good speed. His
wife, Christina Witz, whom' he married probably early
in 1774, was born Dec. 7, 1755, and died Oct. 12, 1821,
and is buried at Pottstown, in the western part of
the cemetery adjoining Immanuel Lutheran Church.
At this time their only son, George, was living with hiin.
After his wife's death Mr. Brunner desired to sell his
farm and move to Catawissa, but he soon abandoned
that notion and remained on Jiis farm until his death.
About this time an epidemic called "fever" (malaria)
and a drought began, extending over the whole Schuyl-
kill Valley, and lasting three years, known as "fever
years." Many persons died of the disease, others were
too sick to work, and on account of the drought the
farms scarcely afforded a living. In one of these years
William Brunner raised only fifteen bushels of corn.
Land became valueless. He had paid one-third of the
purchase money, and still owed about $4,400, but the
property had depreciated so much that it was worth
hardly one-half of the balance of the debt. On March
24, 1823, he sold his farm to John S. Hiester, a lawyer
of Reading, for $4,500. Mr. Hiester undoubtedly had
a mortgage on the property for that amount, and Mr.
Brunner surrendered the farm as it was worth far less
than he owed, the transfer beihg made in settlement of
the mortgage. The son George, then rented the farm,
and William remained there until he died, Dec. 13, 1823,
when he was buried in Pottstown.

George Brunner, only child of William, was born
March 6, 1775, in Douglass township. Hte passed his
boyhood and youth on his father's farms on Iron Stone
Creek. He worked on the farm and in the meantime
learned the weaver's trade. At the age of twenty-four
he drifted into Pottstown (then Pottsgrove), a little
country village. He was utterly unlike his father. The
latter, with his restless disposition was always full of
life and energy, but George was quiet, with little energy
and am'bition, and could be easy and contented in any
surroundings. His father endeavored in vain to arouse
himi. While in Pottstown he met and married about
1804, Rebecca Knauer (for whose grandfather, Knauer-
town, Chester county, was named). This was a most
singular match. He was very slender while she was
inclined to corpulency; he was quiet and slow, while she
was positive, quick to discern and was a most success-
ful manager of her own affairs. His business ability
can be inferred from the story of one of their changes
of abode in Pottstown. Houses were scarce, and they
were obliged to move on a certain day. No house had
been secured, but after the furniture was loaded on the
wagons, he heard of an empty house, and went and
rented it. In 1819 he moved from Pottstown with his
father to Amity, and when the latter sold the home to
Mr. Hiester, George and his wife rented it. They pros-
pered slowly, but times brightened and they debated
the advisability of repurchasing the farm. Their four
children were about grown, and Rebecca planned that
the boys were to attend to farming, and sow flax, that
she and her daughter would do the house work and spin,
and George would do the weaving. This succeeded so
well that in 1827 the farm was bought back for $2,300,
about one-third of the original price. Thus they con-
tinued to thrive slowly. In spite of George's quiet ac-
ceptance of conditions there were somie points on
which he was adamant. When Rebecca's relations, who
lived in Chester county and spoke nothing but English,
came to visit 'he stayed away from the house. While
he never expressed any displeasure at the visitors he
was exceedingly shy of English-speaking people, never
venturing so much as "yes" and "no" in that language,
and^ as soon as the "besuch" were gone, he was natural
again and much relieved. His wife was a woman who
enjoyed company, and was a good talker and very
pleasant to meet.



570



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA



When his son David was married and purchased a
property south of the home farm, the late owner claimed
a quantity of hay that had evidently been included in
the sale, threatening to haul it away. To do this he
would have been obliged to go through JVIr. George
Brunner's farm. Mr. Brunner had a shot-gun, though
he never had the courage to fire it off. He resolved that
if any person attempted to drive through his yard with
a hay wagon he would arm himself with a pitchfork,
guard his gate. The hay was not molested. Mr. Brun-
ner was a strict and attentive Lutheran, belonging at
Amityville, but though he owned a good carriage he
would never ride in it. walking all the way to church,
and usually was passed by the family at W'eaverstown,
and as regularly refused the invitation to ride. In
politics he was a Democrat, and was often an enthus-
iastic worker at the polls on election day. Though not
a strong man he enjoyed good health, and died of the
infirmities of old age June 20, 1855. His widow lived
with her daughter Mrs, Moyer at Baumstown, where
she died of dropsy Nov. 12, 1859. Both are buried at
Amityville. They had four children: (1) Mary married
John Moyer and lived at Baumstown. (3) John is
mentioned in full below. (3) Samuel was a stone mason
and worked on his father's farm; he cared little for
books, and made all his calculations mentally. He
married Rebecca Yorgey and they had a son, George,
who now lives at Pottstown. (4) David Brunner, third
son of George and Rebecca, was left in Samuel's care
as a child, but wandered off, fell in a ditch, and but for
the prompt action of his mother would have been
drowned. He later owned property south of his father,
but selling this moved to Fox Hill, where his barn
burned. This he rebuilt, sold the property and settled
in Amityville. He had great powers of endurance. He
was of kindly disposition, and rarely was angered. His
wife, Caroline Yorgey, had no education, but was a
great talker. They had no children.

John Brunner, eldest son of George and Rebecca, was
born Aug. 23, 1807, at Pottsgrove. In 1819 the family
moved to Amity, where he worked on the farm. He was
well educated for the times. From .a Mr. Goodman in
Oley he learned the carpenter's trade, and also the
wheelwright's and millwright's trades, working as a
journeyman until 1833. In the spring he moved to
Greshville, and began his trade on his own account.
After living there two years he purchased his farm of
George Dry for $700 (1837). There in 1840 he built the
house, and in 1848 the barn. He was a strong and
vigorous man, and was industrious and progressive.
The handling of heavy timbers and fitting together the
frame work of a large barn was tedious and laborious,
and he decided all this could be' avoided if the fram-
ing was done on scientific principles. The braces and
oblique pieces were the diffi'culties, so he took his arith-
metic and looked up square root, and in a short time he
learned to frame the short and long braces. He was
the most scientific carpenter in the country, and his
reputation spread far and wide. Hie was not only
skilled in carpentry, but could do fine and artistic work,
though this was tedious and did not appeal to his
more energetic nature. In .his younger days he made
a cymbal which in form, finish and ornamentation
compared very favorably with those made by skillful
manufacturers. He was a man of good judgment,
and his opinions were formed after mature deliberation.
In his family he was a strict disciplinarian and he was
very exact about sending his children to school. He
himself knew the value of an education, and he gave
his children all that could be obtained in the common
schools, the term then being but four months in the
winter, and later he sent them to Freeland Academy,
now Ursinus College, and two went to College, the
father helping them all he could financially and other-
wise. In religion he was a Lutheran and he was
a regular church goer, and in politics he was a staunch
Democrat. When sixty years old he abandoned farm-
ing, his son Amos taking care of that, and William



managed the carpentering business. At the age of sev-
enty Mr. Brunner had a severe' attack of dropsy, but
recovered and for four years enjoyed fairly good
health. Pie began to fail then, however, and died two
years later, Jan. 3, 1884. One after another the child-
ren had married and left home, except Amos, who
stayed with his parents, and after they were gone
bought the homestead. In 1833 Mr. Brunner married
Elizabeth Bachman, who was born March 26, 1814. and
died Jan. 21, 1896, daughter of Daniel Bachman (born
1786) of Ruscombmanor township. Mrs. Brunner ^yas
a kind-hearted, industrious woman, who did everything
to keep her home bright and pleasant. The evening
with the family was the happy time of the day, and
was devoted to reading, study and the good times that
a jolly congenial family thoroughly enjoys. There were
seven children in the family: Mary; David B.; John B.
taught ten terms of school, and is now a carpenter
and builder in Reading; Frederick B., taught five terms
of school, and died at Pennsylvania College, Gettysburg,
a Senior, in 1862; William B.; Amos B.; and George B.
taught twelve terms of school and is the carpenter at
the Boyertown Burial Casket Factory.

Hon. David B. Brunner was born in Amity town-
ship, March 7, 1835. At the age of, twelve after
attending the common schools he was apprenticed to
learn his father's trade, and at this he worked until
he was nineteen. Feeling desirous of a higher educa-
tion he prepared himself for college with such as-
sistance as he could procure from teachers of the
neighborhood, and in the meantime he taught school.
After a short course at Freeland Seminary he entered
Dickinson College, in 1856, and taking the classical
course, graduated in 1860. He then opened a private
school in Amityville, which he conducted for two
years. In 1863 he purchased the Reading Classical
Academy, and conducted the school with the except-
ion of short intervals until 1888, under the names of
Reading Scientific Academy, and Reading Scientific and
Business College. In 1869 he was elected superintend-
ent of the common schools of the county, and filled
the office with great acceptability for six years, be-
coming well known throughout the State as an edu-
cator. In 1880-81 he served as superintendent of the
schools of Reading. In addition to educational work,
Prof. Brunner took great interest in mineralogy, and
in Indian relics. In 1881 he published "Indians of
Berks County," a reliable account of the aborigines.
He collected many relics and at one time had the
finest collection in the State. He was a frequent con-
tributor to newspapers on subjects in which he was
interested, and he lectured in all parts of the city and
county on scientific subjects. In 1877 he published an
elementary work on English Grammar, which had a
wide sale. He was a Lutheran in religious belief.

In 1861 Prof. Brunner married Amanda L. Rhoads,
of Amity township. They had five children: Daniel E..
who died in 1888; Elizabeth; Edgar A.; Mary; and Dr.
Plenry P., of No. 126 Oley street, Reading.

In politics Prof. Brunner was an ardent Democrat,
and on the subject of the tariff held advanced vievi's.
On Aug. 29, 1888, he was nominated after a bitter con-



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 158 of 227)