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 208 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 208 of 227)
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as a musician in the 23d Pa. V. I., and in Philadelphia,
in August, 1863, under General Orders, No. 157,
was discharged with all other regimental bands. Dur-
ing his service he was in the battles of Williamsport,
Fair Oaks and the Seven Days fight, ending at the
battle of Malvern Hill. After his discharge he re-
turned to Reading, and resumed work for William B.
Hertzel. For many years Mr. Wagner carried on build-
ing operations with Jeremiah Seiders, and in April, 1896,
was appointed building inspector of Reading by Mayor
Jacob Weidel, a position to which he was reappointed
in 1899 by Mayor Adam H. Leader, although of dif-
ferent party views than the latter. In 1871 Mr. Wagner
vvas elected to the city council on the Democratic
ticket, was re-elected in 1878, and again in 1890. In
1880 he was elected a member of the State Legislature,
taking his seat at Harrisburg in January, 1881. In
July, 1881, Mr. Wagner became a member of the Penn-
sylvania National Guards, with whom he served as a
musician for nineteen years.

On Dec. 28, 1863, Mr. Wagner married Catherine M.
Duerr, who survives him. Mr. Wagner was a man of
much strength of character, a business man of much
ability, and a capable public official. Kindly and genial,
he made hosts of friends, and in his death many of
Reading's citizens felt a personal loss. He is buried
in the Charles Evans cemetery.



LEVI S. LANDI S. a prosperous business man of
Reading, Pa., who is engaged in shoe manufacturing,
was born in 1848, in Washington township, Berks
county, son of Jacob O. and Catherine (Staufifer) Lan-
dis, and a grandson of Henry Landis.

Henry" Landis, who was a grocer and tanner by oc-
cupation was very successful in life, and at his death
left a comfortable property. He married a Miss Over-
holzer, and to them were barn the following children:
Jacob, George, David, Aaron, Susan and Esther. The
family were members of the Mennonite Church. In
political matters Mr. Landis was a Republican.

Jacob O. Landis lived in Washington township,
Berks county, where he received a common school
education, and in early life engaged in farming, carry-
ing on his father's tannery in the winter months. He
is now living retired at the age of eighty-three years,
his wife having passed away in 1901, when seventy-five
years old. Eight children were born to Mr. and Mrs
Landis; Levi S.; Elizabeth; Emma m. Enoch Rohr-
bach; Susan; Catherine m. James Hartranft; Nathan
and Amos are deceased; and Ella.

Levi S. Landis received his education in the schools
of Berks county, and until nineteen years of age worked
on a farm, at this time apprenticing himself to the
shoemaker's trade, to which he served his time with
Reuben Eshbach of Schultzville. This he has followed
ever since. He settled in Center Valley, where he
remained for twenty-five years, and in 1897 came to
Reading, locating at his present stand. No. 602 Schuyl-
kill avenue, where he is doing an extensive business.

Mr. Landis was married to Miary L. Moyer, and to
this union have been born two' children: Herbert, a
clerk in the employ of the Reading Trust Company, m.
Ada Mohn, and has one child, Spencer; and Steward
R. is attending the Taylor University. Mr. Landis
and his wife are members of the Eighth and Court
Street Evangelical Church.

CHRISTOPHER SHEARER. Among the repre-
sentative citizens and leading agriculturists of Berks
county, none is' more worthy of mention in this publi-
cation than Mr. Christopher Shearer, whose excellent
farm is located in Muhlenberg township. Mr. Shearer
was born Nov. 8, 1820, in the city of Reading, son of
Jonathan and Polly (Rapp) Shearer.

Christopher Johan Shearer, grandfather of Chris-
topher, was' the founder of the family in America. He
came from Holland and settled at Reading, Pa., where
he followed his trade of shoemaker until the outbreak
of the Revolutionary war. With other neighbors he
was drafted for service and participated in the battle of
Long Island, and the retreat through New Jersey to
Philadelphia. Here his regiment's term, with nearly all
of the other bodies of militia, under the three months'
enlistment period, expired. It is probable the farmers
would have all returned to their homes and the trades-
men to their trades, had not General Washington made
a stirring speech to them in which he demonstrated that
all would be lost unless the militia re-enlisted, contract-
ing to serve six months longer, giving them a hope
that the struggle might then see an end. We are ac-
customed in these days to look on all the Revolutionary
soldiers as unselfish patriots, but that all of the militia
did not belong to this class was shown when in spite
of the commander's appeal, the larger number returned
to their homes. Among the few who again offered- his
life and liberty to the country was Christopher Johan
Shearer, and he was one of the soldiers that took part
in the historic Crossing of the Delaware and the fight
with the Hessians. After the expiration of his six
months service, he was drafted again into the militia,
and fought in the battle of the Brandywine, on which
occasion the militia was placed in the front as reserved
troops. The grandfather in after years described this
battle as having taken place on a calm, smoky day. The
firing was done in platoons, each platoon stepping
backward after they had discharged their guns. Sol-



BIOGRAPHICAL



735



dier Shearer knelt down to get a view of the English
troops under the cloud of smoke, and in this action
was wounded in the left forearm. The next morning
news reached General Washington that the British had
made an incursion into the farming country for pro-
visions, and the commander said that the Reading mil-
itia had done such good service that he would accord
them the honor and pleasure of capturing this forag-
ing party. In spite of his wounded arm, Mr. Shearer
determined to assist in this effort and accompanied
the body of soldiers that met the British, who were
well prepared for the assault. Just at this time Gen-
eral Washington discovered that instead of a foraging
party, he had sent his brave Reading militia to attack
the entire British army. He immediately sent Gener-
al Wayne's division which soon checked the English
and caused their retreat and thus saved the militia from
complete annihilation. Mr. Shearer's enlistment, or
draft, had now expired, and he returned for a rest
of several months, but subsequently re-entered the
army and did guard duty at Royersford, being then a
non-commissioned officer in his company. After be-
ing here for some time the Reading militia found a
platoon of British cavalry endeavoring to cross and the
former wisely took shelter in a small wood near by,
and by rapid firing drove the enemy back. One of the
British dropped to his saddle after the firing.

Like in our own days political feeling ran high and
the German element was largely in sympathy with the
British soldiers at that time. Mr. Shearer and wife
were members of the German Reformed Church, and
while he was absent in the army one of his children
died and the church refused burial privileges on account
of his serving with Washington, and not having paid the
last year's assessment of tax on its members. In her
extremity his wife turned to the Lutheran denomination,
asking from them a burial lot, which they readily
granted, and when Mr. Shearer returned to his home
and learned the facts he said: "From this time on we
are Lutherans." He again engaged in shoemaking,
which he followed until he was appointed justice of the
peace, an office which he held until his death in 1827.
Mir. Shearer was married to Julia Phillippi, who, ac-
cording to family traditions, was the first female child
born in Reading. There was a boy child born in Read-
ing named Drayer, being the first born, but she was
the second child and the first female. To Christopher
Johan Shearer and wife were born a number of chil-
dren, of whom but four lived: Jonathan, John, Solomon
and Benjamin. In political belief Mr. Shearer was a
Federalist.

Jonathan Shearer, father of Christopher learned the
shoemaker's trade with his father, and followed it for
a few years, after which he became an artist, and some
of his paintings can be found in Reading to this day.
Subsequently he learned the tanner's and currier's trade
with Abel Ebling, and this he carried on for some time
but in 1832 he engaged in farming, in which he con-
tinued until his death, when he was aged sixty-four
years. His wife lived to be eighty years of age, and
had a family of eleven children, as follows: Peter,
•Christopher, Benjamin, Joseph, Julian, Solomon, Mary,
Hannah. Daniel, Jonathan and Rebecca. The family
were Lutherans in religious belief, and Whigs in politics.

Christopher Shearer was educated in the pay schools
of Reading, also spending two terms in the common
schools. He learned the carpenter's trade, which he
followed for fifteen years, and then located in Muhlen-
berg township and purchased the old Daniel Maurer
farm, which he converted into the Tuckerton Fruit
farm. This property became famous throughout the
county, a season crop including from 3,000 to 5,000
bushels of potatoes, 1,000 to 1,500 bushels of Bartlett
pears. 3,000 to 4,000 bushels of apples, many bushels of
cherries and S',000 to 4,000 baskets of peaches, not to men-
tion hay, corn, etc. In addition to the crops mentioned
about one hundred tons of tobacco and from eighty
to one hundred barrels of Clinton grape wine are pro-



duced annually. When the Early Rose potato was first
offered for sale at one dollar a pound by its pro-
ducer, Mr. Shearer bought one pound, and planted it to
a single eye. He dug them up in July, having developed
very early and he planted them again, getting a filll
harvest of seventeen bushels. These were all planted
the following year, and were sold at a high figure, thus
introducing the fine potato to this section of the coun-
try. When Mr. Bull of Massachusetts advertised three
different grapes — Concord, Clinton and a raisin grape —
at three dollars per stalk, or nine dollars, Mr. Shearer
sent for one of each kind, and the Concord and Clinton
grapes have proved very valuable. The Globe peach
was a standard variety, and was produced on the Tuck-
erton Fruit Farm, some of the trees yielding thirteen
baskets each of fi measure. These large peaches were
exhibited at county fairs, always drawing premiums.
They won the first premium at the State. Fair at Phila-
delphia, over Jersey and Delaware peaches, and at the
close of the Fair was sold at twenty-five cents each to
Jersey and Delaware peach growers.

Mr. Shearer has done more, perhaps, to build up this
section of the country than any other citizen. He pe-
titioned the court to open Muhlenberg street, which
was granted, and here he made a draft and laid out the
solid block between Eighth and Ninth streets, Bing-
aman and Muhlenberg, named Spring Garden street,
purchased a half-square of land on which he
built twenty-one houses, bought the acre of land from
Eighth street to Lemon alley and from Cherry to Frank-
lin, building eleven houses on Lemon alley, two on
Eighth street, and four south of Franklin street. He
also purchased the corner of Penn and Eighth streets,
where he built four houses and bought land on Walnut,
Elm and Buttonwood streets. He petitioned the court
to open Elm and Buttonwood streets, both being grant-
ed, and built a number of houses, being both a con-
tractor and builder. Finally he purchased a five-acre
lot below the Charles Evans cemetery.

In 1843 Mr. Shearer was married (first) to Cath-
erine Deem, and to them were born these children:
Peter D., Christopher H., Esther, Oliver R., Edmond L.,
Rebecca, Mary, Catherine and Rose. Mr. Shearer was
married (second) to Fietta M. Lease, and to them four
children were born: Clara, Sylvan, one who died in in-
fancy, and Gay Y. Mr. Shearer was a Lutheran in
religious belief, but is now a Spiritualist. In politics
he was first a Whig, then a Republican and now is in-
dependent. He was a candidate for lieutenant gover-
nor on the Greenback ticket, and was nominated for
congress in the Berks county district, was defeated by
the old party, though receiving a satisfactory vo.te.
Though now eighty-eight years old he is still well and
strong, and is actively engaged in looking after his
truck farm and his numerous properties.

LIEUT. JONATHAN C. BEAR, a substantial citi-
zen of Windsor township, Berks county, and an hon-
ored veteran of the great Civil war, who is now
living retired on North Third street, Hamburg, Pa.,
was born in Longswamp township, Berks county,
Aug. 6, 1835, son of Charles Bear.

John (or Hans) Bear, great-great-grandfather of
Lieut. Jonathan C, emigrated from Zweibriicken, Ger-
many, landing at Philadelphia, Sept. 30, 1743, in the
ship "Phenix." He lived for a short time at Ger-
mantown, but before 1750 he settled in Weisenburg,
Lehigh county, his farm being what is now the Kersh-
ner farm about one mile south of Claussville. He had
these children: Jacob; John, who removed to Wind-
sor township, where his descendants may be found
today; Adam, who removed to about two miles north-
west of the old home on what is now the Peter F.
Baer farm; and Barbara, who married Henry Fetter
and lived in AUentown. •

Jacob Bear, son of John, lived at Weisenburg Le-
high county, and had twelve children.— six sons' and



726



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA



six daughters. He was very well-to-do, and gave
each one of his six sons a farm.

John Adam Bear, son of Jacob and grandfather of
Lieut. Jonathan C, was born in Weisenburg town-
ship, Lehigh county, in 1773, and died in 1856. He
removed to Maxatawny township, Berks county, in
1812, settling on what is now the Hartman farm,
about one and one-half miles north of Kutztown,
which he owned and cultivated for upwards of twenty
years. He was married to Susanna Knerr, and they
had these children: Jonathan, born in 1796, died in
Greenwich township in, 1878; Eva m. Jacob Schollen-
berger; John m. Katharine Adam; Peter lived in
Raisin Center, Mich., had nine children; Charles is
mentioned below; Solomon was a large land-owner
of Akron, Ohio; Betsy m. Solomon Stoyer, and lived
in Mercer county, Pa.; Lydia and Polly lived in Lock-
port, N. y. ; and Susanna m. Samuel Smith.

Charles Bear, son of John Adam, was born in Weis-
enburg township, Lehigh county, July 13, 1806. He
was reared on his father's farm _ in Maxatawny
township, receiving his education in the pioneer
schools. He learned the trade of stone mason in
early life, and this was his occupation throughout
his active career. Of a very kindly and jovial nature,
he had many friends, and was considered a man of
high honor and good judgment.

Jonathan C. Bear attended the schools of his neigh-
borhood, and was fortunate in having such well known
educators as William Schubert, one of the brightest
instructors in Eastern Pennsylvania, Adolph Everhart,
and E. Lemke, as teachers. He worked on the farm
until eighteen years of age, when he learned the
stone mason's trade, afterward becoming a brick layer
and plasterer, occupations which he followed for up-
wards of twenty years. In the spring of 1855 he first
came- to Hamburg, and here worked at his trades,
helping to build over 150 houses, including three
churches and several schoolhouses, and in 1858 as-
sisted in building the old church which was destroyed
by fire in 1898.

Mr. Bear has been a lifelong Democrat, and served
the borough one year as assistant burgess, one term
as chief burgess, and one year as chief of police.
He was also councilman for nine consecutive years
and was chairman of the Finance committee, which
graded the streets and put up the lights. He is a
member of the First Reformed Church, and served
nine years as deacon and a like period as trustee
thereof.

In 1855 Mj-. Bear enlisted in the Hamburg Artillery,
State Militia, and served in that company as third
sergeant until the Civil war broke out. On Oct. 16,
1861, he enlisted in Company G, 96th Pa. V. I.,
and, became its first sergeant. He was a gallant Sol-
dier throughout the war, and was mustered out Feb.
14, 1864. This discharge was by reason of re-enlist-
ment, and afterward he served in Company G, 95th
Pa. V. I., and was promoted to the rank of second
lieutenant, in which capacity he continued until July
16, 1865, when he was dischargea with the rest of
his company. During the year 1864 he was signal
officer of the Sixth Army Corps, under General Sedg-
wick, a position in which he served satisfactorily until
he was called to the position of interpreter, which
he obtained through a competitive examination. Lieu-
tenant Bear participated in the following battles:
Gaines' Mills, Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericks-
burg, Crampton's Pass, Gettysburg, Mine Run, Cul-
peper, Warrenton, and the whole of the Wilderness
Campaign. His last battle was Fort Steadman. His
record was exceptionally good, and outside of a vet-
eran furlough, was never absent from his regimen't for
a single day.

On Dec. 13, 1856, Lieutenant Bear was married to
Caroline M. Mogel, daughter of Daniel and Polly
(Machamer) Mogel, and. Mrs. Bear died without issue
in 1893, in the sixty-third year of her age. Mr. Bear
adopted her niece, Ida K. Butler, who is now the



wife of J. Jerome Dailins, and has these children:
Caroline Butler and Harold W. On Feb. 14, 1895,
Mr. Bear was married (second) to Hettian Buck,
who died June 34, 1901, when sixty-three years old.
Lieutenant Bear resides with Mrs. Dailins, his adopted
daughter, on North Third street, Hamburg, in a house
which he has owned since 1858.

DIENER BROTHERS, merchants at Hamburg, are
sons and successors of Peter L. Diener, who was en-
gaged in the mercantile business at Hamburg for
twenty years. He was born in Longswamp township
in 1836, near Topton, the present site of the Orphans'
Home. After receiving his education in the township
school and at Collegeville, he secured a position as
clerk in a general store, at Dryville, where he was em-
ployed for three years. He then engaged in business
for himself at Schweyer's, and afterward was in the
mercantile, coal, grain and lumber business at Topton
until 1887. At the same time he was in the iron busi-
ness. For five years he served as postmaster at Topton.
In 1887 he removed to Hamburg, and carried on a large
general store there for twenty years. His son Irwin
became a partner in 1898, and his son Henry in 1903.
Upon his decease, in 1906, the sons secured the store
in tl^e settlement of the estate, and they have since
carried on the business in a successful manner under
the name of Diener Brothers.

Peter Diener married Mary B. Schaefler, daughter
of Jonathan and great-granddaughter of George, who
emigrated from the Palatinate in 1750, and settled in
what is now the northwestern section of Berks county.
She became the mother of five children: Irwin A.; Liz-
zie A., m. to Isaac A. Deisher; Alice M.; Henry J.; and
Peter G., m. to Bertha Cover. While at Topton, the
father of this family was a member of the town council
when the borough was established in 1875. He filled
the office of school director of Longswamp township
for six years; and he organized the Sunday-school at
Siegfried's Church, of which he acted as assistant super-
intendent for ten years and as superintendent for fifteen
years. He assisted in establishing the trolley line from
Allentown to Reading, and, becoming one of the direc-
tors of the company, served as such until his death,
when he was succeeded by his son. Irwin A.

Irwin A. Diener, senior partner of the firm of
Diener Brothers, was born at Topton. Oct. 33, 1867. He
attended the borough schools and the Keystone State
Normal, and then taught public school for three terms.
He became associated with his father in the mercantile
business in 1898, and has continued in this business to
the present time. He assisted in establishing the silk
mill at Hamburg in 1903, and retained his interest in
this enterprise until 1906, having acted as manager,
accountant and treasurer of the company. He retired
from this company on account of the death of his father,
in order to devote all his time to the large general
store which his father had developed with the assist-
ance of himself and brother. He is a public-spirited
citizen of the borough, taking an active part in the
Board of Trade, and serving as a school director. In
1897 he was married to Mamie L. Miller (daughter of
David G Miller, of Hamburg). She taught public school
at Hamburg for four terms, was active in the Sunday-
school work of St. John's Union Church, and served
as organist of the church for a number of years They
have four children: Paul A., Walter M., John B. and
Mary Olive. Mr. Diener is a member of the F & A M
Lodge No. 406, and of Camp 76. P. O. S. of A. ' He
has served as superintendent of the Sunday-school of
the First Reformed Church since 1905. In politics he is
a Republican.

Henry J. Diener, junior partner of the firm of
Diener Brothers, was born at Topton Jan. 19, 1873 He
was educated in the public schools of that place, and
then attended the Hamburg high school. After serving
as a clerk in his father's store for some years he se-



BIOGRAPHICAL



727



cured a one-third interest in 1903, and at his father's
death, in 1906, he and his brother Irwin A. became the
owners. , Since then they have conducted the business
under the firm name of Diener Brothers, and have in-
creased the stock and made the store one of the largest
department stores in the upper section of Berks county.
Mr. Diener was also interested in the silk mill at Ham-
burg from 1902 to 1906. In 1901 he married Laura K.
Tobias, daughter of Charles H. and Mary E. (Wagner)
Tobias, of Hamburg, and they have a son Charles H.
They are members of the First Reformed Church.

Henry Diener, grandfather of the Diener brothers,
was born in Longswamp township in 1803, and carried
on farming until his decease in 1880. He married Eliz-
abeth Leibelsperger, daughter of Daniel, of Richmond
township, and they had two sons, Peter L. and Henry
L., and five daughters.

John Diener, the great-grandfather, was of Long-
swamp township, and he married Maria M. Fisher,
daughter of Michael Fisher, and they had four sons,
John, Amos, Henry and Peter, and five daughters.

Heinrich Bernhardt Diener, the great-great-grand-
father, emigrated from Baden, Germany, in 1751, and
settled in Oley now Pike township. He had five sons,
George and Peter, who settled in what is now Schuyl-
kill county; John and Jacob, who settled in Long-
swamp township; and Henry, Sr., who lived in Earl
township, and he had a son, Henry, Jr.

S. JAIRUS KUTZ, hosiery manufacturer at Bechtels-
ville, is a native son of Berks county, born in Max-
atawny township, March 2, 1856. He received his edu-
cation in the public schools of his home district, and
in the Keystone State Normal School at Kutztown. He
gave his services to his parents on the home farm until
he had attained the age of twenty-four years, when
he began to learn the machinist's trade with Zehm
& Brother, at Kutztown. This trade he followed with
great success for twenty years — nine years at Kutz-
town, and eleven years at Reading. For eight years
he was connected with the Boss Knitting Machine
Works at Reading, as partner, owning a half interest.
In 1900 he entered business for himself alone at Read-
ing, employing twenty-five men. In 1905 he located in
Bechtelsville, and two years later he erected a large
three-story factory of cement blocks, 30 x 85 feet, and
they employ sixty hands. Their product is seamless
hosiery, and they ship all over the country, having a
high reputation for general excellence.

In 1877 Mr. Kutz was married to Ellen Bailey, daugh-
ter of Joseph and Leanda (Saul) Bailey, of Maxatawny
township. They have had children : Calvin J., Bernard L.,
Paul M. and Jennie E., living; arid Stella V., Gertrude
E., Vida L. and Findley D., deceased. Of these, Paul M.,
born Aug. 4, 1887, received his education in the public
schools of Reading and is now a sergeant of Company

A, 17th Battery, Field Artillery, stationed at Havana,
Cuba. Mr. Kutz and his family attend the First Re-
formed Church.

Calvin J. Kutz, son of S. Jairus, and member of the
firm of Kutz Knitting Mills, was born near Kutztown
May 24, 1880. He attended the common schools, and
later the Keystone State Normal School, and Prof. D.

B. Brunner's Business College at Reading. He was but
fourteen when under his father he began to learn 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 208 of 227)