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

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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 33 of 227)
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mer occupations. They had taken up arms earn-
estly for political freedom, but when these were no
longer necessary, they laid them down peaceably
to become again good citizens, as they had been
for eight years patriotic soldiers.


Cause. — As early as 1756, the province of Penn-
sylvania had looked to excise on ardent spirits for
the means of sustaining its bills of credit. The
original law was limited to a period of ten years;
but it was extended from time to time as necessi-
ties pressed upon the treasury. During the Revo-
lution, the law was generally evaded in the west-
ern part of the State by considering all spirits as
for domestic use, such having been excepted from
excise. But, when the debts of the Revolution be-
gan to press upon. the States, the government offi-
cials became more vigilant in the enforcement of
the law and Congress, after a long debate, passed
an Act in March, 1791, increasing the duty on im-
ported spirits and levying a tax of four pence per
gallon on all distilled spirits, which went into opera-
tion in July following. The Legislature had in-
structed their representatives in Congress to vote
against the law.

Opposition arose at once in the western counties
of the State, and resolutions were adopted at pub-
lic meetings demanding an unconditional appeal.
Liberty-poles were erected, and people even as-
sembled in arms to resist officers in the enforce-
ment of the law. Various public excitements con-
tinued until 1794, when an insurrection ensued.
Governor Mifflin declined to call out the militia to
suppress the insurrection, and, as a consequence,
the spirit extended into contiguous States.

President Washington called on Pennsylvania,
New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia for fifteen
thousand men, and sent commissioners to the scene
of the disturbance in Washington county, with
power to arrange for peaceful submission any time
before Sept. 14, 1794. But the commissioners re-
turned to Philadelphia ten days after that date
without a settlement. The troops were promptly
put in motion, the governors of the several States
named commanding their respective quotas. Gover-
nor Lee, of Virginia, had chief command of the

army. On the appearance of the troops m Novem-
ber the insurrection subsided. There was no oppo-
sition and no bloodshed. Among the Pennsylvania
troops, there was a company from Reading, under
the command of Capt. Daniel De B. Keim. This
company was formed from certain survivors of
the Continental army, which had been commanded
by Lieut.-Col. Nicholas Lotz, and was called the
•■Reading Union Volunteers." It was afterward
known as the "Reading Artillerists." This insur-
rection cost the government $1,100,000.

Troops from County.— The proportion of troops
which was to be supplied by Berks county toward
the quota of Pennsylvania militia under the requi-
sition of the President of the United States, was
434 officers and privates, and 26 cavalry. The 434
men were placed under the command of Brig.-Gen.
Francis Murray, in the 2d Brigade. The Adjutant-
General of the State issued an order on Sept. 11,
1794, requiring the quota for the counties of Bucks,
Northampton and Berks to assemble at Reading,
receive arms, equipments and camp equipage, and
march thence by way of Harrisburg to Carlisle. _

The Quartermaster-General of Pennsylvania,
Clement Biddle, arrived at Reading on Sunday
evening, Sept. 38, 1794. In a letter by him to Gov-
ernor Mifflin dated the day following, he remarked
about the Berks county troops : "Colonel Cowperth-
waite had collected four hundred men in the en-
campment at Peters's farm, who were fully fur-
nished with everything they required. The drafts
from the county continued to come in and he pro-
posed marching tomorrow." And he reported that
Captain Forrest's troops had moved from Read-
ing on Saturday (27th) ; that he expected the
Bucks County Militia here on 30th ; and that the
Militia of Berks County would assemble on Oct.
1st; also that the rear of the Jersey troops would
march from here on the 30th under General

Washington at Reading. — In another letter to
Governor Mifflin, dated at Reading, Oct. 2, 1794,
he stated that — "The President was here last night,
and went on this morning to Carlisle." He also re-
ported then that "the cavalry of this county [Berks]
are by this time at Carlisle. Captain Spayd has a
fine company of infantry ready to march, and I shall
hasten the drafts from the county off to-morrow."
The cavalry mentioned was Moore's.

Cause. — During the early part of Adams's ad-
ministration. Congress passed an Act requiring a
direct tax to be levied upon houses. This tax was
called the "house-tax," also "window-tax." The
Federal government, in collecting it in the eastern
counties of Pennsylvania, caused considerable ex-
citement and opposition, which eventually broke out
in an insurrection in 1799. The leader was John
Fries, of Bucks county, who was tried and convicted
of high treason and sentenced to be hanged, but
President Adams, against the advice of his cab-
inet pardoned him, and also issued a general am-



nesty for all the offenders. The excitement extend-
ed into the northeastern border of Berks county.

Excitement at Reading. — The insurrection was
indirectly the cause of a considerable commotion at
Reading. Certain troops were called out to sup-
pi-ess the insurrection; and among- them was Cap-
tain Montgomery's company of Light Dragoons
from Lancaster. Their way to the scene of excite-
ment was through Reading. Upon arriving here
they cut down certain "Liberty-poles," insulted the
people, etc.; and these unwarranted performances
induced the Adler to publish a letter, criticising
their conduct. This appeared whilst the company
was on the way to Northampton county. But upon
their return they heard of it, and this naturally
developed in them as soldiers a spirit of revenge.
So they went to Jacob Schneider, the senior pro-
prietor of the Adler, and demanded from him the
name of the person who had written the letter con-
demning and ridiculing them. But he refused to
comply and his refusal led the soldiers to spend
their anger on him by taking him forcibly to the
market-house and giving him a certain number of

Mr. Schneider made complaint before a justice
■of the peace and caused the criminals to be arrested,
but Captain Montgomery denied the authority to
make the arrest, and the matter was referred to
General Macpherson, who said he would look into
it. By the time Montgomery's troops returned to
Heading on their way home, Strohecker had erected
a liberty-pole in the place of the one erected by' his
children. Hearing this, the soldiers went to Stro-
hecker's place and attempted to compel a common
laborer to cut down the "offensive wood," notwith-
standing he protested against doing so. They suc-
ceeded in divesting the pole, and with it as a trophy
they rode through the streets of Reading to their
quarters. In a few days they left, but on the 24th
of April an army, under Gen. Macpherson, arrived
at Reading. They apprehended some of the insur-
rectionists, who were afterward tried ; some of them
were found guilty, some fined and imprisoned, and
others condemned to be capitally punished; but
none atoned with their lives — they were pardoned
through executive clemency.

Keim's Company Complimented. — Upon the
breaking-up of the headquarters at Reading, on
April 22, 1799, General Macpherson addressed the
following interesting letter to Capt. Daniel Keim:

While I congratulate you and the company you com-
mand on their return home, I take an additional pleasure in
expressing my complete satisfaction with every part of
their steady and soldier-like conduct during a very fa-
tiguing though short expedition. It is much to be re-
gretted that in a country blessed as this is, by an excellent
constitution faithfully administered, there should be found
any portion of its inhabitants so ignorant, or so wicked,
as to oppose laws peculiarly adapted to the ease of the
mass of the people, since the burden falls immediately
upon the opulent. But it is a great consolation to see
gentlemen, such as compose your company, come forward
and brave fatigue and danger in support of the honor
and happiness of their country. Accept, sir, my sincere

thanks for this instance of your patriotism and be pleased
to convey to every individual my particular acknowledg-
ments, best wishes and affectionate farewell.

Congress passed an Act on Dec. 22, 1807, laying
an embargo on all the ships and vessels in the ports
and harbors of the United States in pursuance of
a recommendation of President Jefferson. It pro-
hibited the departure of all American vessels and
all foreign vessels, except those in ballast. No
merchandise whatever was to be exported. The
Act was not simply to save American ships from
danger, as Jefferson suggested in his message, but
it was a measure of aggression against England.
It was unpopular in proportion as men were or
were not engaged in commerce. The maritime
States thought that the agricultural States took a
special satisfaction in a qtia^ war, of which all the
burden fell at first upon commerce ; but the burden
at length became universal. The men whose to-
bacco, corn- and cotton could not be sent to market
soon learned that they also, as well as the carriers
of those products, were paying a heavy tax by this
interdiction of commerce. Under the pressure of
public opinion, this Act was repealed on March 1,
1809, and another Act was then substituted which
interdicted the commercial intercourse between the
United States, Great Britain and France, and
forbade imports from Europe. From this policy of
non-intercourse and from other difficulties, which in
a state of war hindered importations from Europe,
there was born unexpectedly that gigantic system
under which the United States has become a great
manufacturing nation.

During this interdiction, the people of Berks
county began to feel the evil effects of this policy
of non-intercourse. A number of millers and other
citizens met at Reading on April 11, 1812, "for the
purpose of taking into consideration the late meas-
ures of Congress, the perilous situation of our com-
mon country, and of consulting and devising such
means or measures as may tend to relieve us from
the distress which impends over us" ; and passed res-
olutions disapproving of the action of Congress.

ENGLISH WAR, 1812-15
Cause. — The Revolution was carried to a suc-
cessful termination, and Independence, which the
Colonies had declared in 1776, was thereby estab-
lished. But though peace was declared to exist be-
tween the two nations, the British government con-
ducted itself persistently in an offensive manner
toward the people of the United States, their com-
merce, etc., and to their great injury for thirty
years. The United States government passed natur-
alization laws whereby foreigners could be natur-
alized and become citizens, but the British govern-
ment contended that a British subject could not be
naturalized, and claimed the right of stopping
United States vessels, searching for seamen of Eng-
lish birth, and impressing them into their service.



In exercising this right, they stationed ships at
harbors of the United States and searched every
departing and arriving vessel. They were so vigi-
lant that within a period of eight years they cap-
tured nine hundred vessels and impressed over six
thousand seamen into their navy. All this humilia-
tion was borne with patience, but finally the com-
plaints became too loud, and the injuries too griev-
ous to be endured any longer, and President Madi-
son made them the subject of a message to Con-
gress on June 1, 1812, which ended in a declaration
of war on June 19, 1812.

Anticipating this Declaration of War, Governor
Snyder issued an Order on May 12th, requiring the
quota of troops from Pennsylvania, fourteen thous-
and, to be promptly raised and formed into two
divisions. The first division included the troops
from Berks county and was placed under the com-
mand of Maj.-Gen. Isaac Worrell. A noble res-
ponse was made to this call ; for the troops tendered
exceeded three times the quota requested.

The naval battle on Lake Erie was fought on
Sept. 10, 1813, with brilliant success. Commodore
Perry then sent his famous despatch to General
Harrison: "We have met the enemy, and they our
ours." The news reached Reading on the 27th of
September following, and a grand illumination of
the town took place in the evening from 7 till 10
o'clock, to signalize the glorious event.

Families from Philadelphia. — During this
period a number of English families, resident at
Philadelphia, left the city for the interior parts of
the country owing to a law which required them
to move away from the sea-coast and ports at least
fifty miles. Some of these families went to Read-
ing, and took quarters at the "Tyson Inn," at the
head of Franklin street (where the Park public
school is situated). Whilst here (in August, 1814)
the city of Washington was captured by the English,
who wantonly destroyed the government buildings,
excepting the patent office. This news caused
these families to rejoice; and, to express their joy,
they carried on dancing with the assistance of
music; but they misconceived the temper of the
German people of this inland borough, and soon
found that their conduct wounded their national
pride. In the midst of their demonstrations, they
were suddenly attacked by a party of citizens, and
the attack was made so earnestly as to require the
building to be closed and the performance to be

This destruction of the Capitol and public build-
ings at Washington, and the threatened attack on
Baltimore by the enemy shortly afterward, brought
the war near to Pennsylvania. The march of the
enemy toward the interior by way of the Potomac
river and Chesapeake bay naturally stimulated the
military spirit of the State and a great number of
men rallied in her defense. When the news reached
Reading this spirit became thoroughly aroused in
the entire county.

George Ritter
Henry Willotz
Jonathan Jones
George Zieber

Companies from County. — There were eleven
companies enhsted in this war from Berks county,
classified with the 2d Brigade, under the command
of Maj.-Gen. Daniel Udree, of Oley, in two regi-
ments: the 1st Regiment, commanded by Lieut.-
Col. Jeremiah Shappell, of Windsor, and the 2d,
by Lieut.-Col. John Lotz, of Reading.

Eight of the companies in the 1st Regiment were
commanded by the following captains:

John May
John Mauger
Jacob Marshall
George Marx

And three of the companies in the 2d, by the fol-
lowing captains :

Thomas Moore Gabriel Old

John Christman

These eleven companies were stationed at
York, Pennsylvania, from September, 1814, to
March, 1815.

There was a twelfth company from the county,
the Reading Washington Guards, commanded by
Capt. Daniel De B. Keim. It rendered service at
Wilmington, Delaware, in the latter part of Sep-
tember, 1814; and afterward it was attached to the
"Advance Light Brigade" as the 11th Company in
the 1st Regiment of the Penna. Volunteer Infantry,
commanded by General Cadwalader, with which it
continued until the close of the war.

Peace Declared. — Peace was concluded at Ghent
on Dec. 24, 1814, but it was not till Feb. 22, 1815,
that the event became known at Reading. During
that day, the citizens of the borough signalized it
by shooting off cannon, and at night by a grand
illumination in which sixteen hundred pounds of
candles were consumed.

MEXICAN WAR, 1846 to 1848
Cause. — The Mexican war arose out of the ques-
tion relating to the annexation of Texas to the
United States. The constitution of Mexico prohib-
ited slavery in Texas, and this provision was a suffi-
cient reason why the Southern States should wish
to control it. President Adams and also President
Jackson had made fruitless efforts to buy the prov-
ince ; and subsequently for some vears the scheme
of annexation was considered. One of the last acts
of Jackson's official life was the appointment of an
official agent to Texas, thereby acknowledging the
independence of the province. This was looked
upon as the first step toward obtaining possession
of territory large enough for five new slave States.
Plenceforward, the project was urged with persist-
ence, but little success till about 1842, when Presi-
dent Tyler gave it his encouragement. It was ar-
gued that if slavery were abolished in Texas, the
ruin of the Southern States was inevitable, but if
the province were annexed to the Union, the future
of the slave States would be brilliant.

In 1844, Calhoun became Secretary of State, and
he "believed in annexation at any cost," and Presv-



dent Tyler justified Calhoun's invitation to Texas
to join the United States because he thought Great
Britain was engaged in a diplomatic intrigue to
abolish slavery in Texas. Calhoun then made a
treaty with Texas in reference to annexation with-
out the consent of Mexico, but offered Mexico $10,-
000,000 as an indemnity. At the close of Tyler's
administration, a joint resolution was passed annex-
ing Texas; and Tyler acting under this resolution,
the annexation was carried. But as Tyler went out
of office with the scheme carried through Congress,
Polk came into office with the certainty of war with
Mexico. In the beginning of May, 1846, the regu-
lar troops under General Taylor were intercepted
along the Rio Grande by the Mexican troops under
General Arista, and the battles of Palo Alto and
Resaca de la Palma ensued. Before the news of
these events reached Washington, Congress had de-
clared war on the 13th of May, and authorized the
President to call for fifty thousand volunteers for
one year. After carrying on war for nearly two
years, the Mexicans were conquered, and a treaty
of peace was signed in February, 1848, at the City
of Mexico, whereby the United States acquired nOt
only Texas, but also Arizona, New Mexico and

Reading Artillerists. — During the excitement,
a great patriotic feeling was developed at Reading,
and on May 20, 1846, a large town meeting was
held, presided over by Chief Burgess William Betz ;
at which the national government was sustained.
A second meeting was held on the next day, at
which appropriate resolutions were adopted, ap-
proving the course of President Polk. A prominent
prevailing sentiment was — "Our country, our whole
country, our country right or wrong." And dur-
ing that week the volunteer companies of Reading,
— Reading Artillerists, Washington Grays, and
National Grays — tendered their services to the
President. -The first company, commanded by Capt.
Thomas S. Leoser, was accepted.

A town-meeting was held in the Court-House on
Dec. 19, 1846, for the purpose of devising means
to aid the volunteers and a committee of prominent
citizens was appointed to escort the company to
Philadelphia. The meeting recomfnended to town
council that one thousand dollars be appropriated
toward the comfort of the soldiers and the relief
of such of their famiHes as needed assistance, and
subsequently a loan for this amount was authorized.
. A similar appropriation was recommended by the
grand jury of the county on the 5th of January,
following, to be made by the county commissioners.

Departure for Mexico. — The company left
Reading for Philadelphia on Dec. 26th, and arrived
on the afternoon of the same day. After their ex-
amination, the United States Surgeon pronounced
them the finest body of men he had yet passed into
the service. On the day previous to their depar-
ture, the officers were the recipients of numerous
testimonials of regard, the workmen of the railroad

company's shops distinguishing themselves in this
respect. The Captain and the Second and Third
Lieutenants were in the company's employ. The
officers were presented with swords. Sergeant Mc-
Michael was presented an elegant sword, revolver,
sash, belt and accoutrements by his friends and
shopmates engaged at Johnston's foundry. And
numerous pistols and Bibles were also presented.

The Artillerists left Philadelphia by railroad on
Monday morning, December 28th, and arrived at
Harrisburg in the afternoon. They proceeded by
railroad to Carlisle and Chambersburg, where they
arrived on Tuesday morning, at 2 o'clock. After
breakfast, they immediately proceeded afoot on
their way to Pittsburgh. That day they walked to
McConriellsburg, twenty-two miles, and Wednesday
they walked to Bloody Run, twenty-six miles. The
distance was arranged that Pittsburgh might be
reached by Tuesday, Jan. 4th. • Three large • six-
horse baggage teams accompanied them, having
been supplied by Joel Ritter, who was sent by the
citizens of Reading to pay their expenses to Pitts-
burgh. They arrived on Jan. 5th. On the same
day, the company were mustered into the service
of the United States, as Company A, in the 2d
Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, under the
command of Col. William B. Roberts.

Battles Engaged in. — The company, with other
companies, left Pittsburgh on the 8th of January,
in the boat "Anthony Wayne," and proceeded by
way of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New
Orleans, arriving there on the 15th. It served with
distinction throughout the war and was particularly
recognized for its bravery. It was engaged in the
following battles : Vera Cruz, March 19th to 28th ;
Cerro Gordo, April 18th; Chapultepec, Sept. 12th;
Belen Gate, Sept. 13th.

Return of Company. — The City of Mexico was
taken on the 14th of September, the Mexicans hav-
ing evacuated the capital during the previous night,
owing. to the capture of the San Cosmo Causeway
and the Belen Road. The troops, including Com-
pany A, were stationed in this famous city till the
18th of December, when they were removed to San
Angel, at which place they continued till peace was
declared. They were ordered home in June, 1848,
and then marched to Vera Cruz (consuming about
a month in the march) -where they took transporta-
tion for New Orleans. Thence they proceeded up
the Mississippi and Ohio rivers to Pittsburgh, and
were there mustered out of service on the 21st of
July. They then took packets and traveled by canal
to Harrisburg, and thence by railroad to Phila-
delphia and Reading. Some of the men went by
stage directly to Reading. Upon their arrival, on
the 29th of July, they were given a brilliant military
reception. Numerous buildings and streets were
handsomely decorated with flags and wreaths.

CIVIL WAR, 1861 TO 1865
CAUSE.^:rThe Civil war broke out in April, 1861.
The direct cause was the agitation of the subject



■which related to slavery. After 1850, the extension
of slavery on the one hand, and its restriction on
the other, became thoroughly national questions and
their animated discussion resulted in a severe
.struggle for the supremacy. Till this time, the
South had control of political affairs through lead-
ership and legislation, but the Southern statesmen
then savvr that their political power was in reality
passing away through the wonderful growth of
the North in population and wealth, and in political
representation in the national government. A sim-
ilar growth could not be effected in the South; so
its leaders desired to extend the rights of slavery.
This was particularly apparent upon the admission
of Kansas as a State.

The Republican party, the exponent of restrict-
ing slavery to territory then occupied, became an
active political factor in the country in 1856 ; but
its Presidential candidate was defeated. Threats
of secession by the Southern States had been made
about that time, and it was thought that if the Re-
publican party had been successful, secession would
have been attempted. For four years this question
was prominent above all other questions. Buchanan
preserved the peace during his administration, but
he could not preserve the balance of power. Pub-
lic opinion grew more favorable toward the Re-
publican party, and in 1860 this party appeared be-
fore the people with renewed strength. During
that time the Democratic party agitated the question
of slavery to such an extent that two branches of
the party were created, one, the Douglas branch,
for submitting the question to the people of a new

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 33 of 227)