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 218 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 218 of 227)
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in 1831, and graduated in 1834. Having chosen the
ministry as a calling, though opportunities for entering
other vocations were open to him, he returned to Prince-
ton, graduating at the Theological Seminary in 1838, and
the same year was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of
New York. In 1839 he preached as an evangelist at Ann
Arbor Mich. In 1840 he organized the Second Presby-
terian Church at Paterson, N. J., to which he mmistered
for two years, being called in 1842 to the Western Pres-
byterian Church, Philadelphia. . . .

In 1846 he accepted the repeated and urgent mvitations
of the congregation of the First Presbyterian Church of
Reading to become its pastor, being installed Oct 14th
of that year. Here his real life work was wrought. A
new and handsome Gothic church edifice was built and
dedicated in 1848, taking the place of the humble house
of worship used by the congregation for the precedmg
quarter of a century; the membership steadily increased,
and the church became the leading one in the Presbytery
of Lehigh. In his twenty-fifth anniversary sermon,
preached July 9, 1871, and subsequently published in a

memorial volume issued at his death, Dr. Richards most
feelingly recapitulated the labors and events of his long
pastorate in Reading. This was the^^last pulpit production
he evtr wrote. Delicate in health from his early man-
hood, his constitution soon after succumbed to mortal
disease, which terminated his life March 25, 1872, in
the sixtieth year of his age. Many notable tributes of
affection and respect were paid to his memory at his burial
by his clerical brethren and sorrowing friends.

Dr. Richards was a man of rare scholarly attainments,
and well versed in English literature, especially its stand-
ard poetry, which so fittingly reflected the refinement
of his tastes and the aspirations of his soul. His ser-
mons were equally noted for their devotional Spirit and
literary grace. His heart was warmly enlisted in the
success of his country's cause during the Civil war, and his
discourses delivered upon occasions of national observance
were lofty utterances of civic faith and patriotic im-
pulse. In the personality of the man there was inter-
mingled a native dignity of manner, with a pervading ten-
derness of spirit, which riveted the attention and abided
in the memory. The example of his saintly life and char-
acter irradiated an influence- for the moral uplifting of
the entire community, which recognized in him a leading
mind and mourned his departure as a public loss. A
marble tablet to his memory expressive of these senti-
ments was erected in the church by the congregation a
few months after his decease. His rank in his own de-
nomination was deservedly high, and as a recognition of
his especial fitness for the office at the time it was con-
ferred, he was, in June, 1870, by a unanimous vote, elected
first moderator of the reunited Synod of Philadelphia.

Dr. Richards was twice married. By his first wife, Em-
ily T. Ward, who died in 1857, he had five children, of
whom one son and two daughters are living. He married,
second, Elizabeth Frances Smith, who, with one daughter,
now deceased, survived him.

HIESTER FAMILY. [Taken from Rupp's History of
Berks County (1844) pp. 295-297.] The name of Hiester
is so extensively connected with the general and State
governments, that a brief sketch of the family may not be
uninteresting. " Their remote ancestors were of Silesian
origin. From that country they were distributed through-
out Austria, Bavaria, Saxony, Switzerland and the coun-
tries bordering on the river Rhine. The immediate ances-
tors of the present race of that name in this country
emigrated from Wittgenstein in Westphalia, and arrived
in America in the early part of the 18th century. They
consisted of three brothers, Daniel, John and Joseph, who
took up their residence in the first place at Goshenhoppen,
then in Philadelphia, now in Montgomery, county. Here
Daniel at once purchased a farm which was somewhat
improved. After exploring and becoming better acquainted
with the country, they united in purchasing from the
Proprietary government upward of two thousand acres of
land in Bern township, now Berks county. Here John
and Joseph settled, while Daniel remained at the home-
stead. Having thus, with the characteristic prudence of
those primitive days, first secured the means of support-
ing families, they next, in due time, formed matrimonial
alliances with American women, and "set themselves down,
each under his own vine and fig tree," to enjoy, in- the
pursuit of agriculture, the fruits of their virtuous enter-

As they had been induced to leave their own native
country by the vassalage of an oppressive government,
which exacted, not only onerous taxes, but also a portion
of the time and labor of its subjects, they naturally cher-
ished in the minds of their descendants, a lofty spirit of
freedom. Accordingly, when the Revolutionary war broke
out, they were among the first to enroll themselves in
the list of Associators. The efficient services of this
class of citizen soldiers (which were organized by elect-
ing two Brigadier Generals at Lancaster on the 4th of
July, 1776), afterward rendered in the campaigns of New
Jersey, New York, Delaware, and the lower part of Penn-



sylvania, is a well known matter of history. Daniel (of
Montgomery), John (of Chester), and Gabriel (of Berks),
the three , eldest son's of Daniel, entered the service as
field officers, the two former with the rank of Colonel,
and the latter with that of Major. , William, the fourth
and youngest son of Daniel, although also enrolled, did
not, on account of his extreme youth and the infirmity
of his aged parents, serve more than one campaign. [He
was the great-grandfather of Isaac Hiester, Esq., whose
sketch follows.]

Joseph Hiester, afterward Governor of Pennsylvania,
the only son of John, entered the service as a captain
in the "Flying Camp," and having been made a prisoner
at the battle of Long Island, and confined on board the
notorious Jersey Prison Ship, "New Jersey," he was, after
his exchange promoted to the -rank of Colonel. After the
war, he and his two cousins, Daniel and John, were
elected to the rank of Majors General of the militia in
their respective districts. The popularity these men gained
by their devotion to country, and the public spirit during
the eventful struggles of the Revolutionary war, never
forsook them. After the declaration of peace, they all en-
joyed, by the suffrages of the people, a large share in
the councils of the State, and general Government.

General Daniel Hiester was the first representative in
Congress under the present constitution, from Berks coun-
ty, of which he had in the meantime become a citizen.
In 1796 he removed to Maryland, where he was again
repeatedly elected to the same office, from the district
composed of Washington, Frederick, and Allegheny coun-
ties, until the time of his decease, at Washington city, in
the Session_ of 1801-02.

Joseph Hiester was elected a member of the convention
which met in Philadelphia, in November, 1787, to con-
sider and ratify, or reject, the first constitution of the
United States; and in 1789, he was a member of the con-
vention which formed the second constitution of this State.
Under that constitution, he and Gabriel Hiester (who
had also been a member of the convention which formed
the first State constitution), were repeatedly elected to
the Legislature, the latter continuing either in the Senate
or House of Representatives, uninterruptedly, i'or nearly
thirty years. General Joseph Hiester, after the removal
of Daniel to Maryland, represented his district, composed
in part of Berks county, in Congress, and about the same
time General John Hiester was also chosen a member of
the same body from Chester county. Both were re-elected
for a series of years — the former until he resigned in
1820 and he was elected Governor of Pennsylvania, and
the latter until he declined a re-election and retired to
private life.

sons, Gabriel, Jonathan, William and Jacob, and two
daughters, Mary (m. to Frederick A. Sh'ulze), and Eliza-
beth. The family name was commonly written Hiester,
but he wrote it Heister.

Gabriel Heister. [Taken from Montgomery's Berks
County in the Revolution (1894) p. 232.] Gabriel Heister,
a son of Daniel Hiester (native of Wittgenstein, West-
phalia), and Catherine Schuler, was born in Bern town-
ship June 17, 1749. He was brought up as a farmer and
given such an education as the neighborhood afforded at
the school connected with the Bern Church. In 1776, he
was selected as one of the representatives from Berks
county to the Provincial Convention for the formation of
a constitution. In 1778, he received the appointment of
justice of the Common Pleas Court of the county, which
he held for four years. He was afterward elected to
the Assembly, and represented the county for eight years,
1782, 1787-89, 1791, and 1802-04: He was in the Assembly
when the question of framing a new constitution was
discussed but he voted against the propriety of calling
a convention for this purpose. He was senator from the
district which comprised Berks and Dauphin counties for
ten years, 1795-96 and 1805-12. This continued selection
by his fellow-citizens indicates their confidence in him as
a man of ability and integrity. He was a brother of Col.
Daniel Hiester, of Montgomery county; of Col. John
Hiester, of Chester county, and a cousin of Col. Joseph
Hiester of Berks county.

He died on his farm, in Bern township, Sept. . 1, 1824.
His wife was Elizabeth Bailsman, who survived him eight
years, dying in the 81st year of her age. He had four

Isaac Hiestek, attorney-at-law at Reading, and presi-
dent of the Second National Bank, was born at Read-
ing Jan. 8, 1856. He was educated in the local schools,
and after graduating from the high school in 1871, entered
Trinity College, at Hartford, Conn., from which he was
graduated in 1876. He then studied law in the office of
George F. Baer, Esq., for two years, and was admitted
to the Bar of Berks county Aug. 13, 1878. Since then he
has been actively and successfully engaged in the practice
of his profession, not only in the County courts, but
also before the Superior and Supreme Courts of the State,
as indicated by the published reports of cases. He has
been prominently identified with the Berks County Bar
Association, having served as vice-president for nine years
until 1906, and since then as president. He has also been
'a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association for a num-
ber of years.

Mr. Hiester has officiated as a director and the counsel
for the Reading Trust Company since its organization in
1886; also as the president of the Second National Bank
of Reading since 1890, having been one of its organizers
in 1881. He is also connected with the management of
the Charles Evans Cemetery Company, the Reading Li-
brary, the East Penn Railroad Company, the Reading Gas
Corhpany, and the Reading Electric Light & Power Com-
pany as trustee or director.

On Dec. 4, 1905, Mr. Hiester was married to Mary
Kimmel Baer, daughter of George F. Baer, Esq. They
are members of Christ Episcopal Church. He has been
a vestryman since 1879. He took an active part in the
Sunday-school for many years, officiating as superintendent
from 1880 to 1889.

William Muhlenberg Hiester, (father of Isaac) ; was
,born at Reading, May 15, 1818, and after receiving his
preparatory education in the West Nottingham Academy,
Maryland, entered Bristol College, from which he was
graduated in 1837. He then studied law in the office of
Hon. John Banks, at Reading, attended a course of law
lectures at Harvard College, and was admitted to the
Bar at Reading in 1840. In 1843, the honorary degree of
A. M. was conferred upon him by Harvard College. Soon
after his admission to the Bar, he went to Erie, Pa., for
the purpose of engaging in the practice of the law at '
that place, but after remaining there four years he re-
turned to Reading to form a law-partnership with Henry
A. Muhlenberg, Esq., and they together established a large
and successful practice. Both of them took an active
interest in Democratic politics, and their ability and de-
votion were so highly appreciated that they were elected
to the State Senate, the former serving from 1850 to 1853,
and the latter from 1853 to 1856. Mr. Hiester, during
his last year in the Senate, officiated as Speaker.

Upon the election of Hon. William F. Packer as gov-
ernor of the State, he selected Mr. Hiester as secretary
of the Commonwealth, and Mr. Hiester filled this im-
portant office with great success from 1858 to 1861. Dur-
ing the exciting presidential campaign of 1860, he sup-
ported Hon. Stephen A. Douglas, but when the Civil war
broke out he encouraged the Lincoln Administration in
the earnest prosecution of the war to the utmost of his
ability. In 1863, Governor Curtin, in appreciation of Mr.
Hiester's patriotic spirit, appointed him as one of the
mustering officers, with the rank of major, and during
this year he mustered into the service eight regiments
of volunteers who had answered the Governor's call for
60,000 men to repel the invasion of the Rebels. These
regiments were assembled in the Fair Grounds at the
head of Penn street, and the encampment was called
"Camp Hiester," after Mr. Hiester. His adherence to
the Republican party led to his nomination for Congress
by the Republicans of this district in 1864. After the
Civil war he lived practically in retirement until his de-



'cease Aug. 16, 1878. He was identified for Tnany years
with the management of the Charles Evans Cemetery, the
Reading Gas Company, and the Reading Library as a
director ; and he contributed liberally toward the support
of local charity. He was married to Julia F. Roland,
daughter of Henry Roland, and they had one son, Isaac
(above). His wife died Oct. 27, 1904.

Ds. Isaac Hiester, a distinguished physician for nearly
iifty years at Reading, was the grandfather of Isaac,
Hiester, Esq. He was born in Bern township, near the
Bern Church, about eight miles from Reading, June 22,
1785. He was given a thorough education at -the Uni-
versity of Pennsylvania for the practice of medicine, and
after serving as an attending physician in the Pennsylvania
Hospital at Philadelphia for five years, located at Reading,
where he practised his profession in a most successful
manner until his death in 1855. During his practice he
prepared a number of articles on medical subjects which
received much favorable comment.

Dr. Hiester manifested great interest in local affairs,
whether of a medical or of a financial, industrial, literary
and scientific nature, and his superior character exerted a
powerful influence in the successful development of Read-
ing during its really formative period for forty years
from the close of our war with England (1813 to 1815).
When the Berks County Medical Society was organized
in 1824, he was chosen its first president, and upon as-
suming the duties of the office, delivered a most inter-
esting address. [The proceedings of the meeting and a
copy of the address are published in Rupp's History of
Berks County (1S44), pages 290-294.] He co-operated
heartily with other enterprising men of Reading in estab-
lishing railroad communication with Philadelphia on the
south, and with Pottsville on the north; in supplying the
townspeople with spring water for drinkirig purposes and
gas for lighting purposes; and in founding the Reading
Academy for increasing the facilities of higher educa-
tion at home; and when Charles Evans, Esq., came to
appoint the first board of trustees for the management
of the cemetery which he founded at Reading, he selected
Dr. Hiester as one of them.

In 1810, Dr. Hiester was married to Esther Muhlenberg
(daughter of Gen. Peter Muhlenberg, who distinguished
himself by patriotic service during the Revolution), and
they had four children: William M. (above); Peter M. ;
Anna M. (m. to Hon. J. Pringle Jones, judge of Berks
county from 1851 to 1861) ; and Frank M.

HON. DANIEL ERMENTROUT, late of Reading, has
left a record of devotion to the interests of that place
which has been equalled by few of its citizens, in any
day. He was a descendant of the old German stock to
which this portion of Pennsylvania owes its principal de-
velopment, and which is still represented here in large
numbers by the posterity of the early settlers. As a law-
yer -of ability he stood at the head of his chosen profes-
sion ; as a public official he performed services which will
be felt for many years to come;' as a gentleman of bril-
liant mental gifts and winning personality he was sought
and welcomed in circles where the highest ideals of social
intercourse prevailed. His memory is cherished by many
in Reading, for though his life lines broadened until they
touched other communities and embraced many interests,
yet his home city always had first place in his heart and
received the benefit of the best efforts of his mind. The
fellow-citizens who encouraged his earlier endeavors were
the same who applauded the achievements of his mature
years, and, augmented by the vast array of sincere friends
he made in his journey through life, were the same who
mourned most deeply his sudden taking away. Mr.
Ermentrout was distinctly .an American citizen, his family
having been settled in this country for a hundred years
before his birth, but nevertheless he owed many of his
most characteristic qualities to the race from which he
sprang, and some reference to his ancestors will be of

The family is of German noble origin. The head of
the house in Europe was living, in 1899, at Monersasz-

tiska, in Galicia, near the Russian border. Carl Fried-
erich. Baron von Irmtraut, as the name is now found in
Austria, was born at Stuttgart Dec. 29, 1810, was lieutenant-
colonel in the Imperial Austrian army, and. Knight of
the Military Order of Merit, and had long lived in re-
tirement. He married a relative, Anna, Baroness von
Irmtraut, and there were no children.

The recorded history of the family begins in 1339, when
it was already among the oldest members of the German
nobility, forming part of the old "tournament ring of
Franconia." To belong to any one of the four tourna-
ment circles of those days it was necessary to prove de-
scent from four noble families, all eligible, on both pater-
nal and maternal sides. In other words, the Knight had
to prove his "quarterings." Several Ermtrauts took part
in a tournament, at Frankfort, as well as in the celebrated
Numberg tournament of 1433, during the first year of
the reign of the Emperor Sigismund. These proofs of
eligibility are still preserved.

In ancient documents and old genealogical notes the
name is spelled Ehrendraud, Ehrentraud, Ermentraut,
Ermtraut, Irmentraut, Irmtraut, just as it sounded at the
moment to the clerks who wrote these papers, as the
Knights of those early days were indifferent spellers and
usually signed their documents with the imprint of their
armorial bearings embossed on signet rings or sword

The earliest known seat of the family was located in
Hadamar, Nassau, where the name is still perpetuated in
the little village of Irmtraut, situated on the outskirts of
the Westerwald. There they had their feudal holdings
and manor house, and in accordance with the customs of
the day the .family name was given to the place. A
great stone barn carved with the Irmtraut coat of arms
was all that remained in 1864. The castle was but a mass
of ruins. They intermarried with other great families
in their own and neighboring counties, Nassau, Fran-
conia, Suabia, the Palatinate, etc., and present-day des-
cendants of these marriages include the Counts of Bas-
senheim in Bavaria, the Princes and Counts of Metter-
nich in Austria, the Counts of Schwarzenburg in Austria,
the Hatzfelds in Prussia, the Schoenborns in Austria, the
Barons von Stein on the Rhine and in Prussia, and others
of equal importance.

In religion the Irmtrauts at present are Protestants,
probably becoming such at the time of the Reformation,
as in earlier days members of the family served as Abbots
and Abbesses, in "noble knightly abbeys" and convents.
In the service of the Crown, the Irmtrauts made their
reputation as military men. Some seem to have been
inclined to adventure, as it is recorded that two, who
were in the Spanish Moorish wars, were killed by the
Moors in Spain. One of them was intrusted with a diplo-
matic mission to the Duke of Burgundy, in the sixteenth
century, and succeeded so well that he was rewarded by
his sovereign with the augmentation of his "arms."

Taking up the line in America, we find the same su-
perior ideals of civic duty and manly achievement pre-
vailing in every generation. From its foundation here,
the family has been among the most influential and not-
able in Berks county. Representatives of the name have
borne their full share of the burden of public duties and
lived up to the most intelligent standards in private life.
John Ermentrout, the first of the name on this side of
the Atlantic, came hither fronj his home in the Palatinate
in 1739, and permanently settled in what is now Berks
county. Pa., where the family remained until 1829.

Christopher Ermentrout, son of John, was born Feb. 8,
1754, in the family home, near Womelsdorf. His son,
John, the grandfather of Hon. Daniel Ermentrout, was
born April 27, 1777, and was a Jefferson Democrat. Wil-
liam Ermentrout, son of- John, was born Dec. 12, 1799,
near Womelsdorf, and died at Reading Jan. 31, 1880, to
which city he had removed in 1829. He was active in the
local municipal service, as well as a successful merchant,
holding the office of county treasurer from 1851 to 1853,
and serving for many years as a member of the board
of controllers of the public schools of the city, and was



treasurer of the board from 1869 to 1877. His religious
connection was witli the Reformed Church brought by his
ancestors from the Old World.

William Ermentrout married Justina Silvis, and to them
were born ten children, namely: John Silvis, William C,
Benjamin F., Philip M., Daniel, Joseph C, Dr. Samuel C,
James Nevin, Ellen (m. H. C. Ritter) and Elizabeth
(m. de Benneville Bertolette).

Daniel Ermentrout, fifth son of William and Justina
(Silvis) Ermentrout, was born Jan. 24, 1837, in Reading,
at the homestead. No. 53 North Fifth street, and was
identified with the pity throughout his life. He began
his education in the public schools, prepared for college
in the classical schools and received his higher literary
training in Franklin and Marshall College, at Lancaster,
Pa., and in Elwood Institute, Norristown, this State.
Meantime he had followed intermittently the profession
which has been the stepping-stone for many an ambitious
student, teaching for several years, in Reading, Consho-
hocken and Norristown. Further, he had commenced the
study of law, under the able direction of Hon. David F.
Gordon, who had served as president judge of the Berks
district from 1849 to 1851, and who then had a law office
in Reading. On Aug. 3, 1859, Mr. Ermentrout was ad-
mitted to the Bar, and thus formally launched upon his
life work began a career which made his name one of
the most honored among the native sons of Pennsylvania.

Even at the outset oi his independent practice Mr.
Ermentrout had more patronage than falls to the lot of
the average young lawyer. Success seemed to be his
portion, the people gave him their confidence intuitively.
But he was a young man of sincere purpose, an indefatiga-
ble worker, and a diligent student, and though his honors
came fast 'none grudged him his reward, for it was fairly
earned. He soon entered public life by the professional
road. Just three years after his admission to the Bar,
in 1862, he was elected district attorney of Berks county,
for a term of three years, and during that time not only
formed a wide acquaintance in the legal fraternity of
this section of the State, but also found ample exercise
for all of his talents, the diversified demands of the work
bringing into practical use many acquirements for which
there is little call in ordinary practice. Moreover, some
of the most important public services he performed in
his later years, as a legislator, may be traced directly to
his experiences in the discharge of his first public office.

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 218 of 227)