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 46 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 46 of 227)
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From 1835 to 1855, William B. Hertzel was a
prominent builder at Reading and he tihen estab-
lished a planing-mill which was operated by him
successfully until 1873. It was afterward run by
different parties until 1893, when the F. Shunk
Planing Mill Company became the owner, and it
w^s operated by this company until 1903, when it
was succeeded by tJhe Penn Planing Mill Company,
which has carried on the plant until the present
time, employing about 65 hands. The ofidcers of
the company are: Harry Shunk, president; Con-
rad B. High, 'secretary-treasurer.

In 1874, a planing-mill was established on
Spruce street below Third by Eisenhower, Fink &
Co., and operated by them until 1877, when the
firm name was changed to Fink & Co. ; it was op-
erated by this company until 1894, and afterward
by different parties until 1901, when it came into



180



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA



the possession of the Sheeder Planing Mill Com-
pany, with Benjamin F. Sheeder as president,
which has carried on the plant since in a success-
ful manner, employing 15 hands.

The Neversink Planing Mill Company, Ltd.
(Frederick Hendricks, Joseph H. Wade and John
H. Bechtel as partners), was organized in 1901 for
carrying on a planing-mill along the Lebanon Val-
ley railroad at Gordon street, and has since oper-
ated the plant successfully, with 30 and 40 hands
employed. This mill is equipped for cabinet work
as well as general mill work, which is a specialty.
Ropes, Cords, and Twines:

The first ropewalk conducted at Reading was
established there in the year 1829 by Thomas
Jackson, an EngHshman, along the southerly side
of the Schuylkill canal between the Lancaster
bridge and Jackson's lock. He then employed 5
hands and manufactured all kinds of ropes and
twines. By 1850 he had developed his plant so as
to employ from 15 to 30 hands. The superinten-
dent of the Schuylkill canal, Samuel Griscom, pat-
ronized him extensively, whereby he came to make
nearly all the ropes for the company and for per-
sonal owners of boats.

In 1850 the large freshet swept away his factory,
and he located on First Hockley lane, between
Eighth and Ninth streets (now beyond Greenwich
street), transferring the plant from the extreme
southern end of the city to the then extreme north-
ern end. He erected a large two-story building
and continued to manufacture ropes and twines
by hand-spinning. About 1862 his business in-
creased very much and he then introduced machin-
ery, increasing the employes to 25. His ropewalk
was built to the length of 1,450 feet. In 1875 his
son Flenry H. was admitted as a partner, and from
that time the business was conducted under the
name of Thomas Jackson & Son.

The senior partner died in 1878, when the entire
plant became the property of Henry H. Jackson,
but the firm name was continued. The business
has been carried on very successfully until now.
The works comprise three mills, and employ 150
hands. The productions are fine manila, sisal and
jute ropes and cordage, twines and packing yarns
of different kinds, which are forwarded to all parts
of the United States.

This ropewalk has been the only establishment
of its kind carried on at Reading. Other persons
were engaged in the business of manufacturing
ropes, cords and twines at different times, in a lim-
ited way, but it was previous to 1860.

William H. German has been connected with this
plant as the chief clerk since 1890.
Rubber Stamps and Stencils :

In 1873, Francis H. Paff began making rubber
stamps, stencil work of all kinds, police badges
and corporation seals ; and in 1882 he located his
shop at No. 60 South Seventh street, where he
has continued since, manufacturing the articles
named on orders.



Rugs:

F. S. Kelley started manufacturing rugs out of
rags in 1907, at Reading, and has continued until
now, employing 4 hands.
Sand and Spalls:

For a period of upward of forty years sand
has been removed from the base of Mt. Penn,
near the extension of Buttonwood street, and the
parties who engaged in the business of supplying
sand from that vicinity for building purposes were
Anthony Brown and WilHam Sweimler; and the
son of the former is still engaged in the business.

Mr. Sweimler was succeeded by John Roth, and
Gallagher & Brisse, and since 1904 by Gallagher-
Brothers (John and James), who employ from 12
to 15 hands and remove annually about 7,000 tons-
of superior sand for all purposes, with the aid of
a crusher.

James Gallagher has been doing business there
also since 1905 as the Construction Supply Com-
pany in supplying sand and spalls. He employs-
from 10 to 15 hands.

George L. Kestner, Jr., has operated a sand works-
adjoining, for upward of ten years, employing sev-
eral hands and a crusher. He has named his place
"Alsando."

Haak Crusher. — Michael Haak owned a tract of
land on the northern declivity of Mt. Neversink and
there he opened a place in 1850 for supplying gravel
and building sand. Operations were carried on in a
Hmited manner until 1895, when the heirs of Mr,
Haak with George E. Haak as manager put up a
crusher plant, and since then they have supplied
large quantities of sand for buildings and concrete
paving, also large quantities of sienna paint.

Sewer Pipe:

E. S. Fox & Co. manufacture large quantities of
sewer pipe at their Terra Cotta Works since 1870.

Shirts :

The manufacture of men's and boys' shirts at
Reading was begun by Samuel L. McCulloch about
1872, and he carried on the business for a number
of years; and during that time it was carried on
also by William Laramy.

Nathan N. Sprecher began making shirts ex-
tensively in 1886, and he continued until 1890,
when he was succeeded by John G. JMcGowan.
In 1895 he established a large gents' furnishing
store in the Y. M. C. A. building. No. 630 Penn
street, and he continued there until his decease in
1907, when he was succeeded by his brother, J.
Wallace R. McGowan, who then incorporated The
John G. McGowan Company to continue the busi-
ness, including the manufacture of shirts. The
company employs 5 hands in this department.

In 1880, James S. Brusstar and Albert C. Weile
engaged in the business and after trading together
for a year Mr. Brusstar became the sole owner.
He then operated the factory until Jan. 1, 1898,
when his brother, George M. 'Brusstar, and Henry



READING



181



M. Rettew were admitted as partners. Since then
they have traded as James S. Brusstar & Co. The
firm soHcits orders for custom shirts of all kinds
in Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, in
which a large trade has been established. They
•employ 50 hands.

Albert L. Smith came from Trenton in 1882 and
located at Reading, opening a gents' furnishing
store at No. 431 Penn Square. In 1887, he began
the manufacture of men's and boys' shirts, which
he continued until his decease in 1904, when he
was succeeded by his son, who has since carried on
the business, employing 5 hands.

6". Liebovits and his two sons located at Reading
in February, 1909, for the manufacture of men's
and boys' shirts, and on April 1st established a
factory on the third floor of the P. & R. R. Co.
shop at Seventh and Chestnut streets, where they
"have become extensive manufacturers, employing
upward of 150 hands. They are interested in num-
erous factories of this kind, the largest being at
Reading, Pottstown, Myerstown and New York
City.

In March, 1908, George H. Kaufman and Charles
H. Wesley began trading a^ Reading Shirt Com-
J>any, for the manufacture of men's and boys' shirts
■of all kinds, made out of woolens, percales and
madras. They employ from 40 to 50 hands and
their factory is located at Seventh and Bingaman
-Streets.

In October, 1908, S. K. Cohn and I. Sattenstein
began to trade as Wide-awake Shirt Company, for
the manufacture of men's and boys' shirts. They
•employ from 30 to 50 hands.

Isaac M. Fidler started in 1889 at No. 1043 But-
tonwood street, and has continued until the pres-
ent time, employing from 10 to 12 hands.

.Shoes :

Curtis & Jones Co. — Frederick W. Curtis and
Frederick S. Jones came to -Reading and embarked
in the wholesale and retail shoe business in the old
Academy Building on Penn Square and continued
for three years when they sold out the retail depart-
ment and started the manufacture of infants' and
■children's shoes at No. 527 Penn Square, occupying
the second, third, and fourth floors of the building,
in connection with the wholesale business. They
remained there until 1883, when they removed their
plant to the Felix Building, northwest corner of
Fifth street and Penn Square. They then employed
25 hands and produced 500 pairs daily.

In the year 1889 they erected a substantial four-
story brick factory at Fifth and Court streets
which they supplied with the latest improved
machinery to meet the demands of their rap-
idly increasing business, and they then employed
175 hands a:nd produced 3,000 pairs daily. In 1902,
upon the incorporation of the company, the plant
was removed to a much larger and more improved
:building at Nos. 724-732 North Eighth street.



where this great enterprise has continued until the
present time, with increasing success. The employes
have come to number 700 and the daily product has
been increased to 10,000 pairs of infants', children's
and misses' Goodyear-Turn shoes, which are
shipped to all parts of the country. The officers
of the company are: Frederick W. Curtis, presi-
dent; Frederick S. Jones, secretary-treasurer; and
Clement H. Quinn, manager.

Penn Shoe Company was incorporated in 1902
for the manufacture of infants' shoes. Its plant
is located at No. 320 Maple street, and employs
100 hands. It has been operated very sucessfully,
and its goods are shipped to all parts of the world.
The officers are Daniel F. Printz, president and
manager; Samuel H. Fulmer, treasurer.

In 1906, Charles W. Sharman and George A.
Raab, trading as the Crescent Shoe Company, be-
gan the manufacture of children's shoes at No. 222
Pearl street, and have continued until now, employ-
ing about 50 hands.

There are numerous boot and shoe makers at
Reading, numbering upward of 150, who manu-
facture for customers in a limited way, but their
attention is chiefly directed to repairing.
Silk:

Grimshaw Mill. — In the year 1887 John, George
and David Grimshaw, trading as Grimshaw Broth-
ers, came from Paterson, N. J., for the purpose of
establishing a silk-mill at Reading and operating
it in connection with their large plant at that place,
if properly encouraged in their proposed enter-
prise. In this behalf, a number of public-spirited
citizens organized an association and secured sub-
scriptions, amounting to $65,000. The building
committee comprised Henry Eppihimer, George
D. Stitzel, Lewis Kremp, Jerome L. Boyer and
William Rosenthal, who purchased a half-block
of ground at Eleventh and Marion streets and
erected a superior three-story brick structure 50
by 250 feet and leased it for a term of years, with
an option of purchase, to the Grimshaw Brothers,
who then equipped it with machinery for the man-
ufacture of silk, costing about $75,000.

They carried on the mill successfully until Jan.
1, 1908, producing large quantities of dress goods,
linings, thrown silk, and yarns, which were
shipped to New York. Then they became an in-
corporated body, trading under the name of Grim-
shaw Brothers Company, and the plant was trans-
ferred to this company which has since operated it,
employing from 300 to 400 hands, mostly girls.
The officials of the company are: John Grimshaw,
president; David H. Grimshaw, treasurer; and
George Grimshaw, secretary.

On Jan. 9, 1889, the building was blown down
by a tornado, the most destructive storm that ever
visited Reading. The mill was in full operation
at the time. Many of the hands escaped, but 17
were killed and over 100 injured. A public meet-



183



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVAJSIIA



ing of citizens assembled in the Court-House on
Jan. 10th for supplying aid to the suffering fam-
ilies, and altogether $12,000 was received from the
people of Reading and elsewhere, which was judi-
ciously distributed by a committee appointed for that
purpose.

In 1905, Charles Steiner and William H. Talcott
associated together as the Steiner & Talcott Silk
Company, for the manufacture of broad silks, 3G
inches wide, in all colors, and have since carried on
the business at Nos. 234-240 Moss street, employ-
ing 85 hands.

Slate Sinks:

Martin R. Hoch has manufactured slate sinks for
dwellings since 1894, and employs 3 hands. His
trade is mostly local.

Slate mantels constituted a prominent industry
for thirty years until about 1900 ; then they became
too costly and the business was discontinued.

Soap:

In 1883, Franklin K. Miller began making fulling,
laundry, scouring and toilet soap, and also wash-
ing powders for local customers. His factory was
established on Eighteenth street, near Perkiomen
avenue, and there it has continued until the present
time. He employs 4 hands and produces annually
about 400 tons.

Spectacles :

In the year 1871 Thomas A. Willson erected
a three-story brick factory for the manufacture
of spectacles and equipped it with machinery es-
pecially designed by him. He began operations in
1872 and then established the only place in the
world at which were made all the parts that consti-
tuted a complete pair of spectacles. The sand
for the lenses was ;obtained at Berkshire,
Mass., and the steel wire for the frame was
also obtained mostly in Massachusetts. The
lens was tinted. All kinds of spectacles were
made and a large business was developed that ex-
tended throughout the world. In 1885 employment
was giyen to 240 persons, and the average daily
production was 3,800 pairs. The several machines
were manufactured in the factory under Mr. Will-
son's direction and they are perfect specimens of
superior workmanship. Owing to the great compe-
tition in trade, the manufacture of lenses was dis-
continued in 1886, and these are now imported
from Europe in great quantities, of which a large
stock is kept constantly on hand. Now the factory
is devoted entirely to the manufacture of low-priced
and medium grades of spectacles and this factory
and that of the Pennsylvania Optical Company,
also at Reading, are the only ones in the United
States which produce exclusively the cheaper
grades of steel spectacles and eye-glasses. The
daily production is 10,000 pairs, arid the average
number of hands employed is 200. The proprie-
tor's son, Frederick Willson, has been manager



since 1893. There are only eight other factories
in the United States, but their product is mostly
gold and silver frames.

In 1886 William W. Essick started making chea.p
spectacles and eye-glasses at his home on Third
street, near Franklin, and continued there until
1901, when he moved into a large factory which
he established at No. 125 South Fifth street. He
enlarged this plant in 1906. He now employs 120
hands, manufactures daily nearly 1,000 dozen, in-
cluding goggles, and ships his productions to all
parts of the world. He has been trading from
the beginning under the name of Pennsylvania Op-
tical Company.

Spice and Roasting Mills :

George W. Moyer came from Easton, and in 1872
associated with John McKnight for the manufac-
ture of spices of all kinds. In 1878 Mr. Moyer
started for himself and carried on the business until
his decease in 1889, when the mill at Rose and Elm
streets was purchased by Kurtz & Mayers, whole-
sale grocers, by whom it has been operated since.
Employees, 4; monthly product, 30 tons, which is
shipped to all parts of Pennsylvania. Large quanti-
ties of coffee also are roasted in the establishment.

In 1861 Francis X. Blessing and John Shoemaker
began roasting coffee on Carpenter street near
Spruce. In 1870 they removed to No. 311 Chestnut
street, and shortly afterward Mr. Shoemaker -died.
Mr. Blessing then became the sole owner and he
carried on the business until his death in 1902,
when his son Henry succeeded him, carrying on
business as the Reading Steam Coffee and Spice
Mills. He employs 3 or 4 hands and roasts 1,500
pounds of coffee and peanuts weekly, which are dis-
posed of in Reading and different paSs of Pennsyl-
vania.

Augustus C. Kleinschmidt was engaged in this
business at No. 27 Peach street for many yeairs,
until his decease in 1904, when he was succeeded by
his son Charles, and the son and son-in-law, Irvin
Schick, have carried on the establishment since
under the name of Kleinschmidt &■ Schick.

George Becker has also carried on the roasting
of coffee and peanuts for some time, but in a lim-
ited manner.

Stained-Glass Works :

J. M. Kase, trading as /. M'. Kasc & Co., began
making stained-glass work in 1885 at No. 511
Washington street, and has continued there. He
designs and manufactures memorial windows for
churches and artistic work for private residences,
which he puts up in different parts of Pennsylvania.
He employs 20 hands.

Stove Lining:

The Terra Cotta Works of E. S. Fox & Co. pro-
duce stove lining at their plant in large quantities.
Terra Cotta :

Fo.r Works. — John Lotz carried on a hat factory
at the foot of Franklin street from 1800 to 1824;



READING



183



then Riah Gillson purchased the property and con-
verted the building into a general store for the pur-
pose of supplying boatmen with groceries, provis-
ions, etc. It was continued as a store for about
forty years. In 1868 Eli. S. Fox, Walter K. Hagy
and William Keely, trading as Fox, Hagy & Co.,
established a terra cotta works on the premises.
In 1870 Hagy and Keely sold their interests in the
business, and George K. Whitner became a partner,
the firm trading as E. S. Fox & Co. Eli S. Fox
died in 1890, and his sons, William, Benjamin F.
and Eli W., succeeded him. In 1896 the interests
of Mr. Whitner and the son William were pur-
chased by Benjamin. The firm manufactures all
kinds of terra cotta ware, especially stove lining,
sewer pipe and vases, which are shipped to all
parts of the United States, and they employ from
35 to 30 hands.

Tobacco :

The following persons are engaged at Reading
in manufacturing shorts for chewing and smoking
tobacco :

Breneiser Brothers, trading as the Atlas Tobacco
Company.

George W. Green, trading as the Reading Tobac-
co Manufacturing Company.

Morris Goldman.

Hantsch & Rhein.

George W. Lehr.

George Maltzberger.

Walter Orth, trading as the Pompey Manufac-
turing Company.

Charlies Shirk & Company.

Trunks :

Joseph J. Weightman started making trunks at
Reading in 1888 and continued for twenty years.
His son Burt E. started for himself on Jan. 1, 1906.
Besides making trunks of various kinds to order, he
also manufactures suit cases.

Umbrellas :

Leopold Hirsch located at Reading about 1847
and manufactured umbrellas until 1860, when he
removed to Philadelphia.

In 1869, August Rolland, a Frenchman, came to
Reading and embarked in the business and it was
continued successfully by him, and afterward by his
wife until her decease in 1902, when their sons
Augustus and Charles carried it on together until
1905, when they separated and established places
of their own. Augustus I. Rolland is located at No.
722 Penn street and makes a specialty of a "brass-
tip" umbrella, employing several hands. Charles
L. Rolland is at No. 631 Penn street and makes a
specialty of a "silver-tip" umbrella, employing 5
hands to meet the demands of his trade.

Wall-Paper :

In 1905, a plant was established at Reading
in one of the large buildings of the P. & R. R.
Co. at Seventh and Chestnut streets, for the pur-
pose of manufacturing a medium grade of wall-
paper by a number of enterprising gentlemen



who organized a company which was incorporated
under the name of Sun Wall Paper Manufacturing
Company. J. W. Screven has been the manager
of the plant. A large and successful business has
been developed which extends throughout the coun-
try.

Washing Machines:

In 1894, James H. Knoll and Nathan S. Alt-
house, associating together as Knoll & Althouse,
designed and patented an improved washing-ma-
chine which they called the "Queen", and until
1906 made large quantities of them, when Mr.
Knoll became the sole owner and he has since
carried on the business. He employs 7 hands.

In 1899, Augustus G. Christman designed and
secured a patent for the "Royal" washing-machine,
and large numbers of them' have been made and
sold throughout the country. He died in. July,
1908, and since then his son H. Herbert Christ-
man has conducted the business for the estate.

The Reading Manufacturing Company was in-
corporated in 1904 for the manufacture of wash-
ing-machines and since then has manufactured
them in large quantities, known as the "Lehigh,"
"Five Arrow," "Big Five" and the "Reading
Motor." The manager of the plant is James A.
Kalbach, and the president of the company Paul
K. Leinbach. The company employs 13 hands.

In 1907, Daniel F. Printz designed and patented
an improved washing-machine called the "Printz,"
which is manufactured in large quantities at the
Reading Wood Pulley Works.

Window Ventilators:

In the month of December, 1908, Wil-
liam G. Hintz, William E. Althouse, and Howard B.
Heath associated together under the name of Hintz
& Althouse for the purpose of manufacturing win-
dow ventilators out of wood and metal, after a spe-
cial desigft of their own, and since then have manu-
factured large quantities of them at No. '640 Cherry
street. They employ 3 hands.

Wood Pulley Works :

In the year 1893, the Reading Wood Pulley
Company was incorporated and its factory was
established at No. 247 Poplar street. In 1899,
the plant was removed to Eleventh and Muh-
lenberg streets, where it has continued until
the present time, manufacturing all sizes of wood
pulleys, which have been shipped throughout the
United States and foreign countries. The hands
employed number 75. The officers of the com-
pany are: Daniel F. Printz, president; Samuel H.
Fulmer, treasurer; and Henry J. Glaser, manager.

Woolen Goods:

Robert M. Shouse, of Easton, Pennsylvania,
came to Reading in 1859, and began the manu-
facture of gingham' and shirting check. Some
months afterward, his enterprise was destroyed
by fire. He then selected a lot on Fourth street
beyond Elm as a suitable location and erected a



184



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA



two-story stone factory with basement, where he
resumed the manufacture of the articles mentioned,
and continued the same until 1864, when he con-
verted it into a woolen-mill for manufacturing
jeans, plaids, and doe-skin cloths. Jonathan G.
Leinbach became the manager and in 1867 he was
made a partner, the firm trading under the name
of R. M. Shouse & Co. They employed 50 hands,
and their annual production amounted to $100,000,
which was shipped to commission houses at New
York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. The firm con-
tinued operations until 1875, when Mr. Leinbach
became the sole owner. Shortly afterward he
formed a co-partnership with Aaron S. Leinbach
and William F. P. Davis, who traded as J. G. Lein-
bach & Co. In 1880 John Shadel became a part-
ner. In 1887 Rev. Mr. Davis died and his interest
was purchased by Mr. Leinbach.

In 1889, the senior member gave an interest in
the business to his three brothers, Daniel, Albert
and Mahlon; and in 1894, appreciating the long-
continued fidelity of certain of the older employes
who had worked in the mill from twenty to thirty
years, he also gave them an interest. In 1896
Aaron S. Leinbach died, and the surviving partners
(Leinbach and Shadel) purchased his interest.
After the firm had organized in 1875, improve-
ments were made to the plant, additional ground
was purchased, and new machinery was introduced
from time to time. In 1880, the manufacture of
jeans was discontinued. The volume of business
increased steadily, and with it the number of hands.

The plant is equipped with the best machinery,
including four self-acting spinning machines with
1,508 spindles, and a 100-horse-power Corliss en-
gine. The enterprise has been named the Reading
Woolen Mill, and the manufactured cloths are so
known in the market, having a superior reputation.
This is the only enterprise at Reading in which the
older and more experienced hands have been per-
mitted to share in the profits of the business. The
generosity of the senior member has been appreci-



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 46 of 227)