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 45 of 227)
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ized in 1891 and incorporated in 1906, for the man-
ufacture of grocers' bags, w^hich are produced jn
great quantities and shipped to all parts of the
country.

Harness :

The manufacture of harness has always been con-
nected with the saddlery shops of Reading. In
1909, there were 5 shops carried on actively: H.
Luther Frees, with 6 hands (succeeding his father
and they together carried on the place for upward
of sixty years) ; Samuel Hartman, with 2 hands ;
Reading Harness Company, with 4 hands; Joseph
H. Lutz, and /. A. Tice.

Horse-Collars :

Horse-collars were made in connection with sad-
dlery at Reading from the beginning. Gideon Wei-
ser was engaged at it before the city was estab-
lished in 1847 and he was succeeded by an em-



ployee, Samuel Donahower, who carried on the
business for many years. Upon his decease, his
widow continued the business with an employee,
L. Kantner, trading as Donahower & Co., and
they traded until her death, in 1905. Kantner then
purchased the business and he has carried it on
since with a saddlery.

George Frees carried on the business from 1848
for upward of twenty years, when he was succeeded
by his son Luther, who has since continued at it.

Nathaniel Gery was engaged at it for many years
until 1870. He was succeeded by Christian Grun-
der, and Grander by John M. Kantner. Samuel
Hartman, Joseph Lutz and Adam Oese have also
followed it for thirty years.

Hats and Caps :

The manufacture of wool and fur hats at Read-
ing is the oldest prominent local industry, starting
with the beginning of the town. They were hand-
made until 1853, when machinery was introduced.

Fur Hats. — In 1860 John Hendel and brother
George engaged in the manufacture of wool hats,
at Adamstown, and continued there until 1864,
when they located in Exeter township, near Black
Bear. They carried on the business there four
years, when they located at Reading. In 1871 they
purchased the Wyomissing woolen-mill at Fifth
and Willow streets and operated a large and im-
proved plant until 1895, when they were succeeded
lay John Hendel' s Sons (Daniel, Edwin and Harri-
son). In 1897 they started making fur hats.

They carried on the business in a very successful
manner as John Hendel's Sons until 1907, when
Harrison was killed in the Honda wreck in Cali-
fornia, and his interest was purchased by his
brothers, who have continued the business until the
present time. They employ from 400 to 500 hands,
depending upon the condition of the trade.

Charles W. Hendel started making -fur hats on
South Third street in 1889 and has continued a
large plant until the present time.

Reading Hat Manufacturing Company was in-
corporated in 1905 for the manufacture of stiff
fur hats at Reading and has been in the business
since, employing about 100 hands. This plant is
the successor of G.' W. Alexander & Co. ^t
Twelfth and Muhlenberg streets.

Wool Hats. — The manufacture of wool hats has
been continued without interruption from the be-
ginning of Reading.

/. G. Mohn &■ Bros, started in 1,871 and have
continued until the present time, employing about
300 hands and being one of the largest plants of
the kind in Pennsylvania.

John R. Miller and brother Henry began at Read-
ing in 1879 and continued until 1905, when John
R. retired. Since then the business has been car-



176



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA



ried on as Henry R. Miller & Co., with about 200
hands.

C. F. Kessler began in 1876, and for upward of
thirty years has carried on the plant successfully
under the name of C. F. Kessler & Sons (William
and George, who were admitted as partners), em-
ploying from 70 to 100 hands.

Hendel Hat Company is composed of George
Hendel and sons, John and William, and Har-
man Haigh; organized in 1901 for the manufacture
of wool hats. They employ from 125 to 150 hands,
having succeeded Wetherhold & Co. Previously
W. H. Reinoehl & Co. had carried on the plant
for twenty years.

Caps.— The Reading Hat & Cap Company has
been engaged in making cloth hats and caps since
1897, employing from 10 to 20 hands.

Hat Blocks:

In 1888 Matthias C. Sigmund engaged in the
manufacture of hat blocks of all kinds and has
continued until the present time. He employs 6
hands.

Hooks and Eyes:

John W. Granger, who was employed at Phila-
delphia for twenty years in the manufacture of
hooks and eyes, located at Reading in 1908 and
incorporated a company for their manufacture, be-
sides other metal goods, with a capital of $30,000,
which started a plant in January, 1909. Hands
employed, from 25 to 30. The officers are John
W. Granger, president; J. B. Kaighn, vice-presi-
dent; F. A. Von Boynebergk, treasurer; and John
Farrington, secretary.

Ice and Cold Storage:

The business of supplying natural ice at Reading
by the construction of a dam, erection of an ice-
house and the cutting and storing of ice in the
winter, was begun by Abraham Vivens before 1840
and he carried it on successfully for many years.

William I. Clous was also active in it for a long
while before 1885. The dams were within the city
limits. Since then numerous persons have come to
engage in the business, but they secure their sup-
plies elsewhere.

The Mt. Penn Ice Company is extensively en-
gaged in supplying natural ice which is secured and
stored in Cumru township.

Artificial ice was first made at Reading in 1892
by the Reading Cold Storage Company, which
erected a large plant capable of producing sixty
tons daily, and of storing 100 cars of materials,
such as apples, eggs, butter, etc., and has operated
it since very successfully. Other plants were es-
tablished subsequently and carried on for a time.
Its use is becoming more general annually on ac-
count of its recognized purity.

The brewing companies' have also equipped their
plants with machinery for producing artificial ice
in great quantities for their own use, and also for
certain private customers according to demand.



Ice-cream :

Ice-cream was made in limited quantities in the
early history of Reading. For forty years before
1876, Alfred M. Souders and his brother George
were' active and successful in this business, besides
making different kinds of candies and chocolates.
During the past thirty years the following persons
have been prominently identified with its manufac-
ture in large quantities throughout the year, more
especially in the summer season: /. R. Sharman
(succeeded by A. M. Kershner), C. M. Groff,
John M. Fries, J. 0. Roller, D. E. Houck and Isaac
Barrett.

Jewelry :

The jewelers at Reading always manufactured
various articles, but almost entirely to order, and
they were mostly dealers. After members of dif-
ferent secret societies began to make frequent de-
mands for badges, charms and emblems of various
designs, the business of manufacturing them was
established. Thomas W. Sweney was the first to
engage in it extensively, having started about 1865,
and continued it for forty years.

Charles G. Willson engaged in the business for
himself in 1887, being the successor of his brother
Thomas A. Willson, who started in 1868. He man-
ufactures many articles to order and employs 6
hands.

G. A. Schlechter has been in the business since
1870, and, besides conducting a large jewelry busi-
ness, carries on manufacturing quite extensively,
more especially of badges and charms for secret
societies, which are forwarded to all parts of the
country.

Anderson' Jewelry Company was started in 1903
by L. D. Anderson and J. H. Snyder for manufac-
turing jewelry of various kinds, but mostly badges,
charms, rings, pins, wire-work, etc., and they em-
ploy from 12 to 18 hands. They are successors of
C. T. Anderson, father of Mr. Anderson, who be-
gan at Reading in 1886.

Upward of thirty persons are engaged in the
jewelry business as dealers, and they manufacture
articles to order.

Ladies' Garments:

In 1903, the Great Eastern Manufacturing Com-
pany started manufacturing ladies' garments, of
various kinds, consisting of wrappers, skirts, dress-
ing sacques and kimonos, and since then has pro-
duced large quantities which have been shipped to
all parts of the country. The factory is situated at
Sixth and Washington streets and employs from
30 to 50 hands; in brisk times over 100. The
officers of the company are: D. E. Houck, presi-
dent; J. W. Weidner, secretary-treasurer; and
Mrs. M. E. Braungart, superintendent.

Laundries :

General laundry work was started at Reading in
1875, and the first Chinaman came here about 1880.
The first steam laundry was started in 1879 by
Joseph W. Auchenbach.



READING



177



Excelsior Laundry was started in 1884 by Charles
E. Witman and his brother Morgan, and it has
been continued by different owners until the pres-
ent time; by William F. Wilkinson since 1899, and
he employs 35 haiids.

Penn Troy Laundry, by William Y. and Frederick
Schmucker in 1893, and continued till now, employ-
ing 48 hands.

Snow-Flake Laundry, by John W. H. Harpst
in 1896 and operated since with 15 to 30 hands.

City Laundry was carried on by Wesley K. Loose
from 1897 to 1900, when P. G. Patton became the
owner "and has operated it since with 14 hands.

Modd Laundry, by Frank C. Stringer since 1897,
employing 5 hands.

Gem Laundry, by Frank M. Heffner until his
death in 1908, when he was succeeded by his son
Harry. He employs 12 hands.

A. S. Templin carried on a laundry from 1903 to
February, 19,09, when he was succeeded by Wil-
liam Knabb, who continues the business with 6
hands. His laundry is called the "Bee Hive."

People's Laundry, by Lewis O. Davis in 1905,
and he employs from 7 to 10 hands.

Snow White Laundry, by H. G. Ellis in 1908, and
he employs 10 hands.

Reading Overall Supply Company was organized
by John B. Bowers in 1903 and operated since, for
washing overalls, with 3 to 5 hands.

Four Chinamen are also engaged in the business.
Leather :

The tannery business was prominent in Reading
for over one hundred years, with plants in different
parts of the place, but then it began to decline until
the tanning by bark passed away entirely.

Ferdinand Goetz Sons Co. — This plant was
started by Ferdinand Winter and Anthony Blatz
in 1869 and operated by them until 1875 ; then
Ferdinand Goetz took the place of Blatz, and the
business was carried on by Winter & Goetz in a
very successful manner until the decease of Goetz,
in 1904, when the partnership business was set-
tled by the retirement of Winter, and the sons of
Goetz (Frederick W. and Karl) and his son-
in-law, W. C. Billman, organized the firm of Fer-
dinand Goetz Sons Co. and have since carried on
the business very extensively, employing 75 hands.
They prepare cow, calf and sheep skins, using the
alum process. It is the only industry of the kind
now at Reading.
Leather Goods:

The Reading Saddle Manufacturing Company
was organized by Daniel F. Printz and incor-
porated in the year 1900, for the manufac-
ture of leather goods, consisting of bicycle saddles,
school bags and cases, lunch boxes, etc. The plant
is situated at Nos. 316-320 Maple street, and in
its different departments (including hardware spe-
cialties) employs 60 hands. It has been very suc-
cessful and its several lines of goods are shipped
to all parts of the country. The officers of the com-

13



pany are : Daniel F. Printz, president ; Samuel H.
Fulmer, treasurer; and Miller M. Deam, secretary
and manager.
Malt:

The manufacture of malt was carried on quite
extensively at Reading for about forty years by
different parties, having been started in 1863 by
Frederick Schuldt and Moses K. Graeff.

P. Barbey & Son, brewers, began in 1885 manu-
facturing malt for their own consumption and
have carried on this department of their extensive
plant until the present time.
Mantels :

The marble mantel business was started at Read-
ing by Daniel Miller about 1865, he having been
engaged in the marble business at Fourth and
Washington streets for some years; and about
1875 Henry C. Geissler and Thomas Watt em-
barked in the business of supplying slate -mantels,
which they carried on for a number of years un-
til the decease of Watt. Geissler then established
the Penn Tile and Mantel Company with his sons
as partners and they have developed a large trade,
which extends to all parts of the country. About
twenty years ago wooden mantels began to be
introduced and then gradually took the place of
marble and slate mantels. They are manufactured
almost entirely in the West. .
Marble, Granite and Sandstone Works:

p. F. Eisenbrown Sons &• Co\ — In 1875, P. F.
Eisenbrown located at Reading, started a Marble
and Granite Works and carried on the business
until 1889, when he formed a partnership with his
sons. The firm name has been continued until
the present time. The works were located at Sixth
and Elm streets until 1906, when they were re-
moved to Muhlenberg township, along the P. &
R. railroad, a short distance north of Reading.
This firm is extensively engaged in preparing
granite work of all kinds and its trade extends
throughout Berks and the surrounding counties.
They employ from 50 to 60 men. They still re-
tain their yard in Reading.

Ernst Epp embarked in this business in 1891,
and has been actively engaged in it until the pres-
ent time. He employs from 25 to 30 hands.

Spangier Brothers, from Kutztown, located in
Reading in 1908, having purchased the marble
yard of F. F. Bressler after his decease. •
. John F. Moers and his son Frederick were en-
gaged in the marble business on Penn street, above
Second, for upward of one hundred years, more
especially relating to cemetery work. Herman
Strecker and his father were also identified with
this business in a prominent manner for seventy
years, the former having been distinguished as a
designer and sculptor of rare talents. One of his
most notable pieces of work is "Christ on the Cross"
(also called the "Crucifixion") in Charles Evans
cemetery.

Flagstone. — Jacob Mayer has been engaged at
Reading, putting down flagstone pavement, since



178



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA



1890, securing the stones from the Wyoming Valley
in Pennsylvania; also concrete and cement work.
He employs from 10 to 30 hands.

Sandstone work for building operations was
common before 1890; but since then it has not
been popular, being used only in a limited way.

Mattresses :

In 1896, Frederick G. Hodges came from Wil-
mington, Del., and located at Reading for the
manufacture of mattresses and springs for beds.
He has carried on the business successfully until
the present time, and now employs 16 hands.

Metallic Cornices:

The manufacture of metallic cornice and orna-
mental work for churches, public buildings and
dwellings was started at Reading by William T.
Hain and A. J. Geissinger in 18'72 at No. 824 Court
street. -In 1873, Hain became the sole owner of
the business and he has carried it on since at the
same place. His work is forwarded to all parts of
Pennsylvania. He employs from 3 to 5 hands.

William B. Y eager started in 1886 and has con-
tinued till now, employing from 6 to 10 hands.

Daniel H. Sohl started in 1895, and employs 12
hands. He is also engaged in manufacturing sheet-
metal specialties for automobiles, etc.
Paints :

Aaron Wilhelm began the manufacture of
paint at Easton, Pa., in 1857, and continued
the business there until 1871, when he removed
to Reading. His brother William H. was then as-
sociated with him under the name of A. Wilhelm
& Bro., and they continued the business until 1878,
when William H. retired and Walter S. Davis was
admitted in his stead. From that time the firm
traded as A. Wilhelm & Co. In 1889 Aaron Wil-
helm died and a company was incorporated under
the name of "The A. Wilhelm Co.," of which
Charles W. Wilhelm became president and Walter
S. Davis secretary and treasurer, they serving
these positions until the present time. They manu-
facture paints of every description and ship them
to all parts of the country through distributing
houses at Boston, Baltimore, Buffalo and Pitts-
burg. The establishment was situated on Poplar
street beyond Walnut until 1902, and until then
was the largest paint enterprise in Pennsylvania
outside of Philadelphia. In 1902 it was removed
to Exeter street, in Reading, and there it has con-
tinued in active and successful operation until the
present time. The average number of hands em-
ployed is 75.

B. Frank Ruth was employed in the Wilhelm
works from 1873 to 1884, when he organized a
company for the manufacture of paints of all
kinds, fillers for wood and iron, varnishes, japans,
putty, etc., consisting of himself, C. Edward Hecht
and Edward Scull. They traded as B. F. Ruth
& Co. and established a mill at No. 229 South
Eighth street. They carried on the business until
1894, when the mill was removed to No. 210 South



Eighth street, where larger facilities were provided
and Mr. Ruth became the sole owner. His produc-
tions are forwarded to all parts of the United States.
He has continued there until the present time, em-
ploying from 5 to 10 hands.

In 1887 F. H[. Morgan, after being in the employ
of the Wilhelm works for some years, began the
manufacture of paints in a limited way with James
Ruth as a partner, on Court street above Second,
and in 1890 William G. Moore became associated
with them. They located the works at Eleventh and
Muhlenberg streets and carried on the same exten-
sively. In 1896 H. H. Jackson and Jenkin Hill be-
came the purchasers when Mr. Morgan established
a place for himself at No. 122 Wood street, where
he has continued until the present time, employing
several hands.
Pants Factories:

In the year 1885, Solomon Hirshland and
Isaac Samuel started a pants factory, trading
as the Reading Pants Manufacturing Company, and
carried it on until 1891, when Hirshland became the
sole owner. In 1896 he located at No. 533 Penn
Square and has continued there until now. He
does a large and successful business and employs
from 25 to 30 hands.

In 1895, Albert J. Brumbach established a fine
three-story brick factory at Fourteenth and Muhl-
enberg streets for the manufacture of pants out of
his own woolen cloths produced at the St. Law-
rence Mills in Exeter township. He employs 100
hands.

In 1904, J. G. Leinbach & Co. also began the
manufacture of pants and vests from their own
cloths, which they produced at the Reading Woolen
Mills, and they have since produced great quan-
tities, employing about 80 hands.
Paper :

The Reading Paper Mills is a corporation
organized in 1886 with a capital of $300,000,
for the purpose of operating three superior mills
in the manufacture of fine book and plate paper.
The following sketch embraces the important facts
of the three establishments :

Penn Street Mill. — In 1841 Philip Bushong, a
prominent and successful distiller, moved from
Reamstown to Reading, purchased a large brick
building at the foot of Court street on the west side
of Front (which had been occupied for several years
previously as a machine shop) and converted it
into a distillery. He carried on the business of dis-
tilling whiskey there until 1865, when he substi-
tuted the manufacture of paper, equipping the
building with the necessary machinery for that pur-
pose. He died in 1868. The mill was then carried
on for several years by his son George and his
son-in-law Alexander Jacobs for the estate, and
afterward by his sons Jacob and Henry until 1887,
when it was sold to the corporation named.

Packerack Mill.— In 1838 Asa Packer and Rob-
ert W. Packer purchased a large lot of ground at



READING



179



the foot of Bingaman street adjoining the Schuylkill
canal from Daniel Seiders, a boat-builder, and
erected thereon a large warehouse for storing mer-
chandise in connection with operating boats on
the canal. In 1863 the premises were sold to George
R. Frill, who then converted the building into a
large gristmill, and he and Solomon Brubaker car-
ried on the milling business until 1873, when it
was sold to Jacob Bushong, Henry Bushong and
George B. Connard, and changed into a paper-mill.
This mill was then operated by Mr. Connard for
some years, and afterward by him, Christopher
Loeser and James Symington, trading as the Read-
ing Paper Company until 1882, when George F.
Baer became the owner; and after the organiza-
tion of the Reading Paper Mills, it was conveyed
to the corporation. The building was enlarged and
improved and subsequently an addition was built
to it to supply a department for coating paper.

Tulpehocken Mill. — Samuel Bell owned and op-
erated a gristmill at the mouth of the Tulpehocken
creek, in Bern township, for a number of years,
and subsequently until 1866 it was known as the
Kissinger Mill. Then Benjamin F. Schwartz and
William H. Schwartz became the owners. They
converted it into a paper-mill, and carried on the
manufacture of paper for two years. George W.
■Bushong then purchased the mill and operated it
successfully until 1876, producing a superior grade
of paper which had a wide reputation and came to
be known in the market as the "Bushong Paper."
The mill was afterward operated by different par-
ties until 1883, when George F. Baer became the
owner, and in 1887 he conveyed it with the two
mills mentioned to the Reading Paper Mills.

The three mills 'have been operated by the cor-
poration named very successfully until now, the
Penn Street Mill producing fine book and plate
papers; the Packerack Mill, book and coated pa-
pers; and the Tulpehocken Mill, manila paper ex-
clusively. The product of the first two mills has
been disposed of principally to publishers and lith-
ographers in the United States for fine book work;
and of the last in the United States and England for
making sandpaper. Hands employed number 300,
with James M'. Miller as the general manager.
The ofBcers of the company are: George F. Baer,
president; James N. Mohr, vice-president; Charles
A. Bushong, treasurer; and Heber Y. Yost, sec-
retary.
Pattern Works:

In 1900, Howard F. Hawk started trading un-
der the name of Reading Pattern Works for the
manufacture of a,ll kinds of patterns. He employs
3 hands.

In 1908, Henry Adams and William Betz began
trading as the Mt. Penn Pattern Works and they
employ 2 hands. They are successors of Daniel
Madlem, who started at Reading in 1874 and con-
tinued until his decease in 1906.

In 1906, J. 5". Creitz established a pattern works
for supplying patterns of all kinds for machinery.



automobiles and ornamental work. He employs
5 hands.

Robert McLean started trading as the Ideal Pat-
tern Works in 1905. He employs 3 hands.
Picture Frames and Gilding:

Godfrey Graeff, a German, came to Reading m
1858, and carried on the business of gilding and
manufacturing picture-frames of all kinds at No.
635 Penn street until 1871, when he was succeeded
by Francis Woerner, and Mr. Woerner remained
at the same stand until 1893, when he located at
No. 33 North Fifth street, where he continued
actively and successfully engaged in the business
until his decease in 1903. His son Oscar L. Woern-
er succeeded him and he has carried on the busi-
ness successfully until the present time. He made
several displays of paintings by local artists, which
attracted much favorable attention and his enter-
prise in this behalf was highly appreciated. He
employs from 5 to 7 hands.

Reinhard Rieger learned this business under Mr.
Woerner and continued with him from 1874 to
1879, when he went to Philadelphia to learn more
about it. In 1883, he returned to Reading and be-
gan business for himself on Sixth street below
Penn, where he continued with increasing success
until 1900, when he .removed to No. 5 North Fifth
street, where he has continued until the present time.
He employs 4 hands.

Jarius W. Ziegler started in the business in 1900,
and he employs from 3 to 5 hands.
Planing Mills:

In the year 1869, George Gasser, Sr., came
to Reading from Myerstown, established a plan-
ing-mill at Ninth and Green streets, and car-
ried it on successfully until his, decease in 1887,
having traded under the name of Northeastern
Planing Mill. It was afterward carried on by dif-
ferent parties until 1903 when the Northeastern
Planing Mill Company became the owner and it
has since operated the plant in a successful man-
ner, with 45 to 50 hands. John L. Rhoads has
been the president, treasurer and manager of the
company, and Daniel C. Roth the secretary.



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 45 of 227)