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 226 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 226 of 227)
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of machinist, and he was for many years known as a
skilled mechanic and successful business man. Henry
Kreps was married to Mary O'Brien, who died at Norris-
town. Pa., in August, 1896, aged fifty-two years, and to
them there were born these children : William, engaged
in the manufacture of silk at Paterson, N. J. ; Frank L. ;
Charles, in the plumbing business at Fort Washington, Pa. ;
Elwood, a carpenter of Chester, Pa.; Ida, wife of Wil-
liam Schoffner, of Norristown, Pa. ; , and Katie, m. to
Frank Bechtel, of near Coatesville, Chester Co., Penn-
sylvania. Mrs. Mary (O'Brien) Kreps was a daughter of
George O'Brien, a native of a suburb of New York City.
He was a machinist and stationary engineer. His chil-
dren were: Sallie, Elizabeth,- Mary and John (who lo-
cated at Chester, Pa., and died in the early seventies).

Frank L. Kreps attended the public schools of his
native town, and when twelve years old went to Dela-
ware, later to Chester county. Pa., and finally to Philadel-
phia, where he learned the plumbing trade, following that
occupation for about six years. At the expiration of this
time he removed to Norristown, Pa., where for one year
he was in the employ of the State' Government, as a
plumber, and the next year was spent at Phoenixville,
where he was connected with the Pennsylvania Railroad



Company. Mr. Kreps then spent six months at Pottstown,
Pa., coming to Reading in 1892, where for thirteen years
he was employed by the plumbing firm of Ed. Schull &
Co. In 1907 Mr. Kreps engaged in business on his own
account, opening an establishment at No. 108 North Eighth
street, and later his present place, conveniently situated
in the down-town district, No. 40 North Sixth street. He
is a practical plumber, gas, hot water and steam-fitter.
Mr. Kreps was married to Maggie Garrison, of Read-
ing, and their residence is situated at No. 108 North Eighth
street. Fraternally Mr. Kreps is connected with Aerie
No. 66, F. O. E., of Reading, and he is also a member
of the Master Plumbers' Association.

WILLIAM W. SEITZINGER. In the early death of
William W. Seitzinger, which occurred at his home Sept.
21, 1900, there was lost to the city of Reading one of its
most enterprising young business men. Mr. Seitzinger
was born in 1860, in Philadelphia, Pa., son of Jacob J.
and Hannah (Collins) Seitzinger.

After leaving the common schools of his native city Mr.
Seitzinger entered the University of Pennsylvania, from
which he was graduated, and in April, 1896, he took up
civil engineering. Later he became associated with Mr.
James K. Getz, as secretary and treasurer of the Read-
ing Shale Brick Company, a prominent business concern,
and in this capacity he was serving at the time of his
death. He was an able business man, arid was popular in
business and fraternal circles. Mr. Seitzinger was a thirty-
second degree Mason, a member of Rajah Temple, A. A.
O. N. M. S., and was also connected with the Wyomissing
and Berkshire Clubs. In religious belief he was a Luth-
eran, and attended Trinity Church of that faith, of which
his widow is a member.

In 1895 Mr. Seitzinger married Miss Anna L. Barbey, the
eldest daughter of John Barbey, a sketch of whose life
will be found elsewhere.

CYRUS G. DERR, lawyer of Reading, was born July
18, 1848, at Lebanon, Lebanon Co., Pa., son of William
M. Derr, a leading member until his death of the Lebanon
Bar, at which he practised for forty years.

George Derr, his grandfather, was born in Berks county
in 1800, moved to Reading when a young man, and there
married. When his son William was three months -old
he removed with his family to Lebanon, Pa., where he
became a prominent citizen. He became identified with
the construction of the Union canal, being superintendent
of the middle division, extending from Myerstown to the
Swatara. He served as chief burgess, was a trustee of
Lebanon Seminary, and was active in church work, being
one of the founders of Zion Lutheran Church, which he
also served in an official capacity. He died in 1880.

The Derr family is of Irish extraction, and the immigrant
ancestor spelled the name Derry, but the "y" was dropped
in course of time. He settled near Monocacy, Berks Co.,
Pa., engaged in farming, and acquired considerable
property.

William M. Derr was born in Reading, Pa., in 1827, and
as above stated was three months old when the family
moved to Lebanon. He received his early education in'
the public schools and in Lebanon Academy, and, choosing
his life work, began the study of law. But in deference
to his parents' wishes he took up medicine, at the Penn-
sylvania Medical College, Philadelphia, and before settling
dow;i to his first choice also studied theology and archi-
tecture. In the end he returned to law, and meantime he
spent a couple of years in the Western States, being in
fact first admitted to the Bar in Illinois. His experiences
broadened him and quickened his perceptions. In 1858 he
was admitted to the Lebanon county Bar, and there he
practised for almost forty years, until his death, May 31,
1897. He was foremost in many respects among the mem-
bers of his profession, was long a member and for some
time president of the Lebanon Bar Association, and at
the time of his death was the oldest member of the
Lebanon Bar. But his intellectual strength had never
waned, and he was known to the last as a profound scholar



780



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA



and learned legal adviser, a man of keen wit and eloquent
speech, and he used his gifts for the benefit of his fellow-
men as much as his own interests. He was solicited to be-
come judge, but declined. To an unusual degree he held the
confidence of his clients 'and of the public, for he was known
as a man who gave the best that was in him to his work
and his patrons, and he was ever ready to espouse a
cause for the right, his poorer clients receiving the same
consideration that he gave to those of means. He was a
member of St. John's Reformed Church and a liberal con-
tributor to the Widows' Home and to other charitable
institutions. In political sentiment he was a Republican,
and he wielded a strong influence in his party, though he
had no political aspirations himself. During the Civil war
he entered the Union service, organizing and becoming
the first Captain of Company A, 93d Regt. P. V. I., and
served in the Virginia campaign. . , _ ,. „■,,

On April 3, 1846, Mr. Derr married Caroline HUde-
brand, born March 23, 1826, daughter of Benjamin and
Elizabeth (Brubaker) Hildebrand, of Lancaster county,
and two children were born of this union: Francis, who
died young, and Cyrus G. , • • ^i.

Cyrus G. Derr received his literary education in the
public schools of Lebanon, and his legal preparation in
the law department of the University of Pennsylvania.
Though only a boy during the Civil war he enlisted, in
1863, in Company E, 26th Regiment, Emergency Troops,
and was taken prisoner in a skirmish with Jenkins Confed-
erate Cavalry, near Gettysburg, a few days before the
famous battle. He was later paroled. The next year,
during the invasion in which Chambersburg was burned,
he enlisted for one hundred days, serving in Company G,
of an independent organization, commanded by Lieut.-Col.
Charles Stewart; this company was largely made up of
students from the Pennsylvania Agricultural College m
Centre county. As a precaution in case he was again cap-
tured, Mr. Derr's second enlistment was made under the
' name "Calvin" Derr, as he was uncertain whether a Con-
federate court-martial would construe the parole of the
preceding year as he did, limited to the period of his first
term of service.

Mr. Derr was admitted to the Bar in August, 1869, and
after practising a year with his father located in Reading.
Though he met with success at once his father induced
him to return to Lebanon after a year, but he was so well
impressed with the possibilities Reading offered him
that he settled there permanently in 1872, since which time
he has been in continuous practice. During his earlier
years he gave much time to literary work, but of late
his legal responsibilities have been so heavy as to preclude
almost all other work, his large clientele including a num-
ber of important corporations, among them the Pennsyl-
vania Railroad Company and the Pennsylvania Trust Com-
pany. Like his father, he is a Republican in politics, but
without official' ambitions.

Mr. Derr was one of the founders and proprietors of
the old Reading Review, an independent publication, which
during the few years of its existence became noted for
its fearlessness and aggressive policy. He was a regular
contributor to its columns. He was a member and pro-
moter of the Reading Lyceum and Reading Literary
Society, and delivered lectures in Reading and other
places upon Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice," Scott's
"Lay of the Last Minstrel" and the "Oratory of St. Paul."
His literary attainments are noteworthy.

On Nov. 30, 1870, Mr. Derr married Mary Virginia
Weidman, daughter of Gen. John Weidman and sister of
the late Maj. Grant Weidman, of Lebanon. Mr. and Mrs.
Derr have one child, Caroline Roberts, now the wife of
John M. Archer, of Reading.

HIESTER H. MUHLENBERG, M. D., was born at
Reading, Jan. 15, 1812, son of the distinguished Rev.
Henry Augustus Muhlenberg, pastor of the Trinity Lu-
theran Church of Reading, afterward member of Con-
gress and Ambassador to Austria, and at the time of
his death the candidate of the Democratic party for



Governor of Pennsylvania. His mother was Rebecca
Hiester, daughter of Gov. Joseph Hiester.

Mr. Muhlenberg gained his preliminary education under
the instruction of Rev. John F. Grier, in the Reading
Academy. In 1826 he entered the sophomore class of
Dickinson College, Carlisle, from which institution he was
graduated with the class of 1829. Having chosen medi-
cine as his profession, he began study in the office oi
Dr. Thomas Harris, a physician of excellent reputation
in Philadelphia. He attended the medical lectures at the
University of Pennsylvania during the winter of 1831 and
1832, and was graduated from that institAtion with the
class of 1832. Dr. Muhlenberg began practice in his na-
tive city and continued it for eight years: During this
period and for some years following he took an active
interest in politics, and until the breaking out of the Civil
war he remained a firm and consistent Democrat. During
the Civil war he twice enlisted in the Pennsylvania State f
Volunteers — once before the battle at Antietam, and
again after the battle of Gettysburg.

During the panic of 1837 the affairs of the Farmers
Bank of Reading became very much involved, and the
complete ruin of the bank seemed close at hand. The
integrity, capacity and financial ability of Dr. Muhlen-
berg were so well known that he was placed temporarily
in charge of the bank in order to restore its affairs to a
sound and healthy condition. His management of its
affairs was so successful that he was induced to give up
his intention of resuming his practice of medicine and
urged to accept the position of cashier of the Farmers
Bank in March, 1842. From that time until his death
he was annually re-elected, serving continuously in that
position for a period of forty-four years. The high
standing and character of the cashier preserved the
bank from embarrassment during the panic of 1857, the
financial troubles incident to the Civil war and the finan-
cial crisis of 1873. During all these periods of financial
depression the Farmers Bank of Reading always main-
tained the highest reputation for great financial strength
and for the soundest business management. The suc-
cess and reputation of the bank in all these years was
mainly due to the ability and high character of its cash-
ier.

Dr. Muhlenberg was for ten years a member of coun-
cils of the borough of Reading, and a member of the
first councils after the city incorporation in 1850. Prior
to the Civil war he took great interest and active part
in the volunteer military organizations of his own coun-
ty. He entered a noted company, called the Washington
Grays, as a private, and afterward became lieutenant.
During the Catholic riots of 1844, in Philadelphia, as
lieutenant of the Washington Grays he formed part of
the force sent to that city to assist in quelling the riot.
' Dr Muhlenberg was one of the original trustees ,of the
Charles Evans Cemetery Company, and for many years
was the president of that corporation. He was a director
and president of the Reading Water Company. He was
always a public spirited and enterprising citizen, and his
generosity was well-known. He favored and assisted
the development of his native city by every proper means
within his power.

Dr. Muhlenberg was twice married, first to Amelia
Hanold, and second to Catherine S. Hunter, both of •
Reading, Pa. By the second marriage he had seven
children. He became a member of the Lutheran Church
in 1830, and was a member of the vestry of Trinity Church
for many years. He died May 5, 1886, survived by seven
children, six of whom are still living.

HENRY A. MUHLENBERG 2d was born at Read-
ing, July 21, 1823, son of Henry Augustus and Rebecca
(Hiester) Muhlenberg, the latter the daughter of Gov.
Joseph Hiester. He gained his preliminary education un-
der the direction of his father, and at the age of four-
teen years entered Jefferson College, at Canonsburg,
Pa., where he remained one year, after which he became
a member of the sophomore class at Dickinson College,
at Carlisle, graduating from that institution in 1841. He



BIOGRAPHICAL



781



was a close student, especially of the classics and history.
From 1841 to 1844 he was engaged in the study of the
law with Hon. J. Pringle Jones. He entered public life
almost immediately. During his father's candidacy for
Governor, in 1844, he displayed marked ability as his
private secretary, and conducted all his father's corre-
spondence during the canvass. In 1846, when the Mexi-
can war broke out, he raised a company of volunteers
in Reading, and personally tendered their services to the
Governor,, but the complement of Pennsylvania having
already been filled the offer was declined. In the county
convention of 1846, he and his brother Hiester, the presi-
dent of that body, were mainly instrumental in causing
the adoption of a resolution approving of the principles
of the tariff of 1842, and demanding that, as it was passed
by Democratic votes, it should receive a fair considera-
tion from a Democratic Congress. He also delivered a
speech in the same body on the Oregon question, in which
he strongly favored the claims of the United States to
all that district of country lying south of the parallel of
54 .degrees 40 minutes. In 1847 and 1848 he was occu-
pied in writing a "Life of General Peter Muhlenberg,"
of Revolutionary fame, which was published early in
1849, by Gary & Hart, Philadelphia, and was well re-
ceived. It was dedicated to Jared Spa'rks, as a slight
recognition of his services in elucidating our Revolu-
tionary history.

In the fall of 1849 Mr. Muhlenberg was elected to the
State Senate from Berks county, and served three years,
1850-52. He there acquired a reputation for integrity,
eloquence and business ability. Shortly after taking his
seat he delivered a .speech on the supplement to the act
incorporating the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Com-
pany, which greatly influenced the Senate in its decision
to pass the measure. During the second 'part of his Sena-
torial career he was the Democratic candidate for Speak-
er, though the youngest member of that House, his com-
petitor on the Whig side being Hon. John H. Walker,
of Erie (the president of the Constitutional Convention
of 1872-73). The Senate then contained sixteen Whigs,
sixteen Democrats and one native American, and a ma-
jority of all who voted was required to elect. On the
eighth- ballot, and on the third day, when it was evident
that no choice could be made, unless the Whig candidate
should vote for himself, the Democratic candidate, to-
gether with Messrs. Packer and Guernsey, also Demo-
crats, out of political courtesy, abstained from voting.
Throughout the whole contest the two candidates re-
spectively voted for Thomas Carson and William F. Pack-
er. As chairman of a select committee to which was re-
ferred that portion of Governor Johnston's message for
1851 treating of the care and preservation of the State
archives, Mr. Muhlenberg reported a bill, which be-
came a law, for the publication, at the expense of the
State, of the records of the proprietary government and
of all papers relating to the Revolutionary war down to
1783. He was greatly instrumental in securing the pas-
sage of an act making an appropriation to continue the
geological survey of the State, conducted by Professor
Rogers. He' favored also the building of new railroads
to develop the resources of the Commonwealth,, though
he was opposed to the Slate granting any direct aid to
these objects. During the whole of his Senatorial term
he was, in the words of Hon. C. R. Buckalew, "The bul-
wark of the treasury against the assaults of outside in-
terested parties." He was outspoken in defense of a
tariff of such amount and so levied as to protect the
great manufacturing interests of the country. He also
thought that as iron was an indispensable requisite for any
nation, to provide _ against the contingency of war, and
to render the United States independent of any other
country, a high, though not a prohibitory duty, should
be imposed on that article.

In the Senate and in the county conventions, he, in
connection with Judge Strong and other distinguished
Democrats, demanded a modification of the tariff of 1846,
in favor of the iron interest, in accordance with the views
of Hon. Robert J. Walker, the author of that tariff — views



expressed at the time of its passage. He was an earnest
opponent of slavery, and considered it "a curse to that
community on which it was inflicted; no one could dis-
like it more than he did, nor did he ever wish to be
thought the friend and advocate of the institution." In
his devotion, however, to the Union, and in his desire
to do away with all causes which might inflame one sec-
tion of the country against the other, looking upon the
compromise measures of 1850 as a solemn compact be-
tween the North and South, he thought those measures
and the laws resulting from them should be executed
fully, honestly and com,pletely. His devotion to_ the
Union was one of the cardinal principles of his political
faith. The words used by his father in Congress, at the
time of Clay's compromise act of 1833, might be placed in
his mouth also, — "The Union is the first and greatest of
our national blessings, and to preserve it, nothing can or
ought to be too precious. I go for the Union, the whole
Union and nothing but the Union. It must be preserved,
peaceably, if we can, forcibly if we must." No one who
knew him intimately can doubt for a moment that had
he lived until the crisis he would have been foremost in
the van of those Democrats who, in the hour of great-
est danger, rushed to the rescue of their, government
and of their Union. At such a time he would not have
been behind his brother Hiester, or his uncle. Dr. F. A.
Muhlenberg, of Lancaster, in forming that party which,
in their opinion, held the true Democratic doctrine, in
that it advocated the greatest good to the greatest masses.

In July, 1852, Mr. Muhlenberg was nominated by ac-
clamation the Democratic candidate for Congress in Berks
county, and was elected the following October by a large
majority. He left Reading late in November, 1853, for
Washington, and was present at the opening of the
XXXIVth Congress, but he appeared in that body only
one day. He was stricken down by illness, and though
everything was done for him that was possible, and it
was believed at one time that he was materially im-
proved, a relapse occurred and he died Jan. 9, 1854, of
hemorrhage and congestion of the lungs. His remains
were laid to rest in the Charles Evans cemetery at Read-
ing.

He was a warm and true friend ; no act of kindness was
ever forgotten by him, and nothing within the limits
of possibility was deemed too difficult when done in
the cause of a friend. His fearlessness in all departments
of life was one of the most marked traits of his charac-
ter ; he never shunned bearing the responsibility of any
of his actions* he did what he considered his duty, no
matter what the consequences might be. Above all,
throughout all of his public life he was a man of un-
swerving integrity and unblemished honor; he would do
nothing, however great the inducements to the contrary,
which could lower himself in his own esteem or in that
of others. His standard was a very high one, and when
he believed himself to be right no power on earth could
divert him from the path which honor, good faith, good
feeling and his own judgment pointed out. He possessed
an ample fortune, from which he was ever ready to con-
tribute to all objects, whether charitable, religious, politi-
cal or literary, which deserved his support.

As a citizen of Reading, Mr. Muhlenberg was fore-
most in advancing, by pen, tongue and purse, all projects
which could benefit or increase the prosperity of his na-
tive place. Had he lived, be would have written his name
on the historical records of his country, and would
have impressed his character on her legislation; cut off
untimely in the flower of his youth, and in the very ma-
turity of his powers, his loss was a great calamity to
the Commonwealth.

Mr. Muhlenberg married, in November, 1847, his cous-
in, Annie H., daughter of the late Dr. F. A. Muhlenberg,
of Lancaster, Pa. He had one child, Henry A. Muhlen-
berg 3d, who died in 1906.

FREDERICK W. NICOLLS, son of Gustavus A. Nic-
oUs, was born in Reading, Feb. 7, 1870. He was educated by
Edward Carroll, a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin,



782



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA



who for many years conducted a successful preparatory
school in Reading. He entered Harvard University in
1888, where he devoted himself principally to history and
literature, and was also an editor of the "Harvard Ad-
vocate," one of the oldest college publications in the coun-
try. He was also greatly interested in the game of chess
and held the championship of the college for the four
years of his residence there. He graduated in 1892 with
a magna cum laude degree. After graduation he returned
to Reading, and began to study law in the office of his
half-brother, Henry A. Muhlenberg, being admitted to
the Bar of Berks county in November, 1895. While pur-
suing his legal studies he wrote a series of six lectures on
the "Puritan Revolution in England," which lectures were
delivered in Reading under the auspices of the "Universi-
ty Extension Society," and were received with favor by
the public and by the press. After his admission to the
Bar, and while building up his practice, he continued to
study the theory of the law with some assiduity, and
though never attending a law school, he covered the
greater part of the work taught in the three years course
at Harvard, and also familiarized himself with other text-
books and authorities. In 1900 he was elected Solicitor of
the Reading School District, held the office for a year, and
was subsequently elected for a term of two years. For
a number of years he was the principal lawyer of the
Taxpayers' League, an organization formed for the pro-
tection of the public against municipal corruption and con-
ducted a number of important public cases in this capacity.
In March, 1908, he formed a law partnership with
William Rick, then mayor-elect of the city, and has since
then been engaged in conducting the law practice of this
firm, which is rapidly increasing in size and importance.
Owing to the official duties of his partner, Mr. NicoUs
handles almost all the court work of the firm, and is
acquiring an experience which in addition to his thorough-
ness and studious habits, makes him regarded as one of
the most promising of the younger members of the Bar.
In 1898 he was married to Minnie R. Taylor, by whom
he has had four children, Gustavus A., Sarah T., Freder-
ick W. and Anne H.

Anne H. Nicolls is a woman who deserves men-
tion, even in a work whose principal object is an account
of the lives of men. She was the daughter of Dr. Fred-
erick A. Muhlenberg, a well known physician of Lancaster,



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 226 of 227)