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 194 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 194 of 227)
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June 11, 1852. He was sent to the public schools there
and in Berks county, and until he was nineteen was
employed at farming. He then learned the trade of a
carriage blacksmith, and for eight years followed it in
and near Kutztown. He removed next to Reading and
there took up horseshoeing instead of his carriage
work, learning it under ex-mayor Rowe with whom
• he remained eleven years. At the end of that time,
in 1878, he established a shop of his own at No. 418
Court street, and remained there till May 19, 1904, when
he changed to his present location, Nos. 116-118 Mad-
ison avenue. There he has built a shop that will com-
pare favorably with any in the State. It is 30x70 feet
and has a three-horse power motor to run his drill, etc.
There is also a gas pipe running along the side of
the shop which with the aid of a reflector enables him
to do shoeing by night as well as by day. He uses
only special hand made shoes and has a reputation
for good work that has brought him the largest trade
in the city. He is also district agent for the well
known Harrold's Hoof Ointment, and has introduced
that very widely.

Mr. Becker married Miss Caroline Wagner, daugh-
ter of Henry B. Wagner, of Schuylkill county. She
and her husband both belong to the First Reformed
Church. Mr. Becker is a very prominent Mason,
belonging to Chandler lodge, No. 227, F. & A. M.;
Excelsior Chapter No. 337, R. A. M.; Reading Com-
. mandery. No. 43, K. T.; and Rajah Temple, A. A. O.
N. M. S. He is also a member of Vigilance Lodge, I.
O. O. F.

GILE J. WILLSON (deceased) was for many years
a prominent figure in Reading, where he was connected
with several important commercial enterprises, and where
his extensive building operations materially promoted
the growth of the city. He was justly held in the high-
est consideration by his fellow-citizens, and his death,
on Jan. 34, 1888, at the age of sixty-four years, was
widely felt as a real loss to the community with which
he had so long been identified.

The first of these Willsons in America was the grand-
father of Gile J., also named Gile, who, when only sev-
enteen years of age, left his horne in England, gave up
his inheritance there and came to the Colonies to en-
ter the Patriot army as a private, rising in the course of
the war to the rank of major. The Willson coat of arms,
used by right of descent from the Ward family, was
originally won in the Crusades, and bears the Ward
tnotto. Sub Cruce Salus (salvation by way of the cross),
the Willson motto being, in English, "God save or we
perish." Henry Ward Beecher, Harriet Beecher Stowe
and Julia Ward Howe all belong to this branch.

Gile J. Willson was born in New York State in 1824,
of' New England stock. After his marriage he lived for a
time in Winchester, Va., and from there came to Reading,
where he settled permanently. He established a jewelry
business which steadily increased in volume until it was
the foremost concern of its kind in the city, located at
No. 524 Penn street, where it .is still continued by one of
his sons, Charles G. Willson, his watchmaking and jew-
elry manufacturing establishment occupying the second
and third floors at that location. About 1871 Mr. Will-
son also founded the great spectacle factory at Reaumg,
with which he was connected seventeen years. It is now
owned by his son, Thomas A. Willson, of Reading (whose



summer home is Clare Point Stock Farm, Ephrata, Lan-
caster county), and managed by the latter's son. Dr.
Frederick Willson, one of Reading's prominent men. Mr.
Gile J. Willson also went quite extensively into building.
The residence in which his widow still lives, at No. 108
North Fourth street, was erected fifty years ago. At that
time the city was composed almost entirely of the ordinary
plain brick houses, and Mr. Willson was the first to intro-
duce the innovation of bay windows, putting up on
Washington street, above Fourth, a row of handsome
houses, all with this new feature. The ground on which
they were built was originally deeded to the Quakers' for
a meeting-house by the Penns in 1703; the original grant,
written on parchment, is still in the possession of the
family.

Mr. Willson's enterprises were all very successful. He
not only gained a reputation as a jewelry manufacturer
and merchant, but made several inventions of note which
perpetuate his name to the trade. The first dust-proof
watch cap, now in universal use among watch manufac-
turers, was invented and patented by him, and he took
out patents on other devices in general use at the present
time.

Mr. Willson was the organizer of the Reading Mutual
Fire Insurance Company, whose first banquet was held
at his home. Many prosperous men of Reading today owe
their success to his practical advice and encouragement, for
he was never known to withhold aid or sympathy from
the deserving. He was very active in church work as a
prominent member of the First Presbyterian Cliurch, and
served as president of the board of trustees of that con-
gregation for. many years. He was one of the foremost
in the erection of the beautiful chapel connected with that
church, serving as president of the building committee.
But most precious to his family is the memory of his
beautiful home life. He was a most devoted husband and
father. He lived for his family, and was never more
happy than in his home circle, and when entertaining his
farnily and friends in his home, where all enjoyed his
entire confidence and good fellowship. He entered most
heartily into all that interested each one of his family.
He had a smile and a cheerful word for them at all times.
His approval was the highest reward his children asked
for any achievement. Words cannot express their love
and devo.tion to him and their more than precious memory
of a dear devoted father.

On Jan. 7, 1845, Mr. Willson married Miss Sarah J.
Templin, daughter of James Templin, who was a cousin
of Betsey Ross, and a descendant of one of the oldest
and most prominent families of Berks county. Mrs.
Willson's grandfather was a soldier in the Revolution.
She bore her husband three children, namely: Thomas
A., of Ephrata; M. Elizabeth; and Charles Gile, who suc-
ceeded to his father's jewelry business, and who is the
ninth in succession bearing the name of Gile Willson —
being an abbreviation of the family name of Peckersgile,
of Lancashire, England. The two older children were
jjorn in Winchester, Va., and the family had many relatives
in that section, all extensive slave owners. Mr. Willson
left the South because his sentiments on the slavery ques-
tion were in such pronounced opposition to the general
opinion there. Slaves had been bequeathed to his child-
ren, but he would not allow the children to have them.
The house in which the Willsons lived while in Win-
chester was partly demolished during the battle at that
point during the Civil war.

M. Elizabeth Willson is very prominent in all
the philanthropic work of Reading, and is connected with
its various charitable organizations, including the Civic
League and the Humane Society, while she is also a
member of the Woman's Club and the Daughters of the
Revolution, Berks county chapter. She furnished a room
in the Homeopathic Hospital of Reading, in memory of
her father, which she keeps in repair and will endow
Miss Willson is greatly interested in all that pertains to
the early days in this country, is justly proud of her
patriotic ancestors and carefully cherishes certain family
heirlooms, including a teapot which the Wards brought



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BIOGRAPHICAL



681



from England in 1735, and a cup from which Washington
drank at Valley Forge, where Mrs. Gile J. Willson's
father, James Templin, was living at the time Washington
wintered there; a monocle holder and hand-made Odd
Fellows charm dating from the first lodge in England
and descending from Sir Gilbert Ward, of Crusade times.
She is living in the old home. No. 108 North, Fourth
street, with her mother.

VAN REED. The Van Reed family in Berks coun-
ty has been resident here for over one hundred and
fifty years. It originated in Holland, whence, in 1750,
came Henry Van Reed to find fortune and liberty in the
New World. On May 30, 1750, he purchased fromi one
John Patrick a farm of one hundred and fifty acres
at $6.75 per acre. He had previously lived a short
time in Philadelphia county, but on the purchase of
this land moved onto same, which was located in
what is now Amity township, Berks county, but which
was then still in Philadelphia county, the township
being erected March 4, 1745. Berks county was erected
out of Philadelphia, Chester and Lancaster counties
March 11, 1753. In 1778 Mr. Van Reed tore down the
old log cabin, and in its place erected a large two-
story stone building, the western end of the present
structure. He died in 1790, the father of nine child-
ren, all born on the Amity township homestead. These
children were: John, Jacob, Agnes, Susan, Mary, Anna,
Catharine, Margaret and Hannah.

The Van Reed homestead is a part of the land
granted by the Crown to William Penn. On Sept.
11, 1704, William Penn granted by letters patent one
thousand acres of land to Justa Justason, a Sw.ede.
This land extended from the river Schuylkill north to
Earl Mountain, or what is now known as "Fancy
Hill," the line being about 120 perches' south from the
Swamp road, leading to Boyertown, and was located
between two lines running in a northeasterly direction
210 perches apart by measurement. These lines were
two of the Swede's lines, and are now nearly eradicated
by the division of the farming land in the neighbor-
hood to suit the convenience of the owners. In 1716
Mr. Justason conveyed eight hundred acres of his
'land to one Samuel Savage, retaining two hundred
acres himself. This latter part adjoining the Schuyl-
kill river included within its boundaries the village,
then called Molaton, now Douglassville. In 1717 Samuel
Savage conveyed 150 acres, part of the 800, to George
Savage. This smaller tract was almost all arable
land, while the larger (650 acres) was mostly heavy
timber land. Samuel Savage was the proprietor of
what was then called the'Manatawny Iron Works, and
he no doub-t retained the timber land for the purpose
of charing coal and manufacturing charcoal iron.
George Savage, it is believed, first settled upon this
small tract and erected the first building upon it —
a small one-story log cabin, and a log stable — and he
was the first person to carry on farming operations
there. He and his family continued in possession until
about 1737, when he died, and in that year his heirs
conveyed the farm to one Oliver Dunklin. In 1740 Mr.
Dunklin improved the place by the erection of a large
two-story log building at the eastern end of the log
cabin, constructing in its center a large stone fireplace,
then a necessary part of every house. Mr. Dunklin
died about 1748, and the same year his heirs conveyed
the property to a brother, John Dunklin, who after
holding it only a month conveyed it to his brother-
in-law, John Patrick, and in 1750 John Patrick sold it,
as above stated, to Henry Van Reed.

When Henry Van Reed died he bequeathed the home-
stead to his son Jacob, who was then farming in Cumru
township (now Spring). In 1819 Jacob Van Reed tore
.down the two-story log building, and erected in its
stead a two-story brick, the eastern part of the present
building. Down to 1810 the log stable was the only
place used for storing grain, etc., with a frame addi-



tion rendered necessary by the increasing crops. In
that year Jacob Van Reed built the southern part of
63 feet of the present large frame barn, with ^ heavy
stone base and gable ends, and with a bank in the
rear. When Jacob Van Reed came into possession of
this land it was valued at $29.62 per acre, and this sum
he was required to pay to his brothers and sisters in
due proportion. He married Ann Elizabeth, daughter
of Joseph Hiester, and he died in 1858.

Jacob Van Reed was succeeded by his son, the present,
owner and occupant, Jeremiah Van Reed, who by his
father's will was to pay a fixed annuity to his mother,
and to his brothers and sisters such sum as would
value the land at fifty dollars per acre.

From the time of the first settlement until 1819 the
water for household purposes was obtained at a spring
near by at the rear of the north end of the building,
then a well in front of the house was dug. The live
stock was always watered at the creek running diagon-
ally through the farm close by the house until 1858,
when a well was dug in the barnyard. In 1875 water
power was communicated to the pump from the creek
700 feet distant by means of a stout wire worked to and
fro by a water wheel. Two orchards are on the farm,
one north and the other south of the dwelling. The
first was planted south of the house in the latter part
of the eighteenth century, and some of the apple trees
are still standing and bearing good fruit; the north
orchard was planted at the beginning of the nineteenth
century._ All the improvements other than those here-
in mentioned have been made by the present owner.

John Van Reed, son of the emigrant Henry, married
Catherine Huy, and he became the father of the fol-
lowing children: Joshua, Mary, Lewis, James, John,
Henry and Jacob. John Van Reed was a paper manu-
facturer and owned and operated a mill on Cacoosing
Creek.

Jacob Van Reed, son of John, was born in Lower
Heidelberg township, Dec. 24, 1819. He was a large
land owner and he lived retired for many years previous
to his death, Aug. 10, 1900. He married Mary C. Jones,
daughter of Major Samuel Jones (a major in one of
the Pennsylvania regiments in the war of 1812), and
their children were: Samuel John m. Minerva Yea-
ger, and had children, Lewis and James; and Margaret,
m. John H. Evans, and had children, Charles V. R. and
Jacob V. R. In politics Mr. Van Reed was a stanch
adherent to Republican principles. He was a member
of the State militia at the outbreak of the war of the
Rebellion, and was ^called out with his company. In
every relation of life he was found on the side of
honor and truth, and he had the well merited esteem of
all men.

CHARLES E. LEIPPE, proprietor of the Reading
Knitting Mills, was born at Greenland, Lancaster Co., Pa..
Sept. 10, 1859. He attended the public schools of Lancaster
city and the Eastman Business College, at Poughkeepsie,
N. Y., and, after graduating from the latter institution
found employment in the match factory of Joseph Loehr,
in New York City. He continued in this factory at a
small salary for a year, when he entered his father's bend-
ing works at Reading, having declined a position under
Mr. Loehr at a large salary; and he continued in his
father's employ as bookkeeper until the father's decease,
in 1888. He and his brother, J. Harry Leippe, then pur-
chased the plant, and they have carried on the business
in a successful manner under the name of "Anchor
Bending Works" until the present time, shipping their
product to all parts of the world.

. In 1898 Mr. Leippe became interested in the manufacture
of hosiery, one of the thriving industries of Reading, and,
purchasing a half interest in the Reading Knitting Mills,
the oldest hosiery works at Reading, he has since then
been prominently identified with this great industry. In
1907 he purchased the remaining half interest and from



683



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA



that time he has carried on the establishment for himself
in a most successful manner. His plant has the distinc-
tion of being the second largest producer of eighty-four-
needle half-hose in the United States. He employs one
hundred and fifty hands and ships the hosiery to all the
States of the Union.

Mr. Leippe has been identified for a number of years
with the management of the Schuylkill Valley Bank, the
Berks County Trust Company, the American Casualty
Company, and the Reading Mutual Fire Insurance Com-
pany, as a director, serving the last-named as president
since 1902. He has also taken great interest in the Board
of Trade since 1888, having served this body so important
to the business interests of Reading as president during
the years 1907 and 1908. He assisted in establishing the
Homeopathic Hospital at Reading in 1891 and has officiated
as treasurer since 1896. He has served as a trustee of
the Young Women's Christian Association since its or-
ganization, in 1898, and during 1909 he started a movement
for establishing a gymnasium on the premises, so as to
supply a proper place in Reading for the physical culture
of women. He is prominent in Masonic circles as a
member of St. John's Lodge, No. 435, Excelsior Chapter,
and Reading Commandery; also as a member of Rajah
Temple, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, and of the Lodge
of Perfection. 'In politics he has taken an active part in
the welfare ot the Republican party at Reading since es-
tablishing his residence here, in 1880. In 1900 and 1901
he represented the First district on the board of public
works; and in 1905 he was nominated by the Republicans
as their candidate for mayor; though not elected the
vote for him showed his great popularity.

Mr. • Leippe married Alice Josephine Brose, daughter
of Daniel Brose (a well-known miller of Schock's Mill, in
Lancaster county) and Mary Reich, his wife, who was
the daughter of Dr. George Reich (near Maytown, Lan-
caster county). They have a daughter, Anna Brose, who
was educated at Reading, having graduated from the high
school in 1903, and at Washington, D. C, in the Wash-
ington College. Mr. Leippe has traveled extensively in
Europe and in the United States. He spent three months
abroad in 1895, accompanied by his wife and mother, and
three months in California in 1904, accompanied by his
wife and daughter. Mrs. Leippe has taken great interest
in religious and charitable matters at Reading for many
years. She is one of the lady managers of the Homeopath-
ic Hospital.

Mr. Leippe's father was Jacob Algeir Leippe, who es-
tablished the "Anchor Bending Works" at Reading in
1880 and carried it on successfully until his death, in 1888.
He was born at Steinfurth, in Baden, Germany, Nov. 30,
1834, and, after attending the national schools there,
learned the trade of wagon-maker. He emigrated to Amer-
ica in 1854 and settled at Lancaster, Pa., where he worked
at his trade for two years, and then' located at Greenland,
four miles east of Lancaster, for the purpose of engag-
ing in the business for himself. He carried on wagon
works there until 1865 and then returned to Lancaster
to embark in the manufacture of shafts, rims, spokes, and
other supplies for all kinds of vehicles. He named his
establishment the "Anchor Bending Works," and con-
ducted operations there until 1880; then, seeing an oppor-
tunity at Reading to carry on the business more extensive-
ly, he removed to this prosperous manufacturing center
and operated his plant here under the same name until his
decease.

The father, Jacob A. Leippe, married Juliana Voll-
weiler (daughter of George Vollweiler, of Eppingen, in
Baden, Germany, manufacturer of linen), and by her he
had twelve children: J. Harry m. Elizabeth Heupel;
Charles E. ; Mary Elizabeth m. A. C. Hagelgans, of Phil-
adelphia; Emma Louisa m. Rev. Israel F. Heisler, of
Williamsport ; Katie Algeir m. Robert A. Riegel of Phil-
adelphia; Julia Vollweiler m. J. Lewis Lengel, of Read-
ing; Anna Jane, graduated nurse, is assistant superinten-



dent of the Reading Hospital; Jacob A.; Clara Minnie m.
Herbert H. Ranck, of Joanna Station, Berks county; Lillie
Rose m. George Benninger, of Reading; William Theo-
dore m. Lillie Spears, of Reading; Albert Augustus m.
Gertrude Prutzman, of Adamstown. The last two sons
are identified with the bending works as partners.

JOHN G. SCHEALER, contractor and builder of
Boyertown, Berks county, was born Oct. 15, 1836, in
Exeter township. He has followed his present line of
business in Boyertown since the early seventies, and
many substantial structures testify to the quality of
his work. Being a son of John and Catherine (Gard-
ner) Schealer, he is a great-grandson of the founder
of the family in this country, who, coming to America
from his native land, Germany, settled in Exeter
township, Berks Co., Pa., where he was among the
pioneers. He spelled the name Schueler, and there are
Various other spellings, the most common forms being
Sheeler, Schealer, Shuler and Schuyler. When this
ancestor was born, when he died and where he was
buried are facts unknown by his descendants, who
are numerous. He had a large family.

William Schealer, the grandfather of John G. Scheal-
er, was engaged all his life as a farmer and stone-
mason in Exeter township, operating the farm now
owned by Jacob Spohn.- He was a member of the
Reformed Church. He and his wife Barbara had a
family of eight children, namely: Jacob and William,
who died in Reading; Samuel, who lived in Robesonia;
John, who lived in Exeter; Benneville, who lived at
Robesonia; Ann, who died unmarried; Lydia, who
married Jacob Wentz; and Harry, who lived at various
places.

John Schealer, the fourth child of John and Bar-
bara Schealer, was born in Exeter township, Oct. 23,
1793, and died there Dec. 16, 1872, aged seventy-nine
years, one month, twenty-three days. He was a farm-
er and stone-mason by occupation^ and during the win-
ter months engaged in butchering. On Dec. 20, 1818,
he was married to Catherine Gardner, born Nov. 20,
1800, who died Sept. 29, 1878, in her seventy-eighth
year. Eleven children were born to this union, of
whom one died unnamed at the age of three days.
The others were: William, born Sept. 10, 1819, a car-
penter and cabinet-maker of Colebrookdale township,
died in May, 1894; Harriet, born Sept. 19, 1821, mar-
ried Jeremiah Shadier of Seneca county, Ohio, who
died before she did, her death occurring while she was
out West, in 1904; Elizabeth, born Dec. 13, 1823, mar-
ried Abraham Dehart (now deceased), of Fort Wayne,
Ind.; Valeria, born Feb. 14, 1835, married James Esh-
bach, late of Pike township, this county, whom she sur-
vived, her death occurring Dec. 25, 1895; Susanna; born
Oct. 14, 1827, is the widow of Henry Wunder. of Read-
ing, and makes her home at No. 1028 Chestnut street,
that city; Lovinia, born Sept. 10, 1881, married John
Saltzer, of Colebrookdale township, and died Oct. 2,
1893; Catherine, born July 18. 1834, died in infancy;
John G., born Oct. 15, 1836, lives at Boyertown; Au-
gustus, born March 15, 1839, married Mary Liven-
good, and died March 8, 1872; Samuel G., born in Ex-
eter township Oct. 5, 1842, lives in his own residence
at No. 1145 Chestnut street, Reading. The latter is
a stationary engineer by occupation, and a highly
esteemed citizen of his community. He was married
Dec. 26, 1868, to Adeline Wessner, born in 1848, who
died in 1905. They had six children, three of whom
died in infancy, the others being William O., Lucretia
I. and S. Raymond, the latter of whom is a student
at Lehigh University.

John G. Schealer attended the pay school near his
home when it was taught by an old man named Daniel



BIOGRAPHICAL



683



Reider, and later he wfent to public jchool. He himself
received a license to teach from Prof. William Good,
and taught one term in Exeter township, but he early
commenced work as a cabinet-inaker, having learned
the trade in his young manhood. He continued at
that work and at carpentry, and in time became estab-
lished in business at Boyertown as a contractor in the
same line, which he has continued to follow at his
present location for the past forty-one years. The
class of work which has been intrusted to him is the
best evidence of his reliability. Many of the best and
largest business buildings and residences in the town
are his work, among them the Rhoads Opera House
block, the Boyer block, the big D. C. Brumbach build-
ing, the Lefeaver building, the greater portion of the
Boyertown Casket Company's building, and the build-
ing of the Union Manufacturing Company. He has
erected a number of churches, viz.: The St. John's
Lutheran, Good Shepherd (Reformed), English M.
E. and German Evangelical churches of Boyertown,
the Lutheran and Reformed Churches at Amityville
and the new Lutheran church at Pleasantville, all in
Berks county; and he rebuilt St. Joseph's, of Hill
Church, Berks county. In December, 1898, he com-
pleted the new high school building in Boyertown; and



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 194 of 227)