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 49 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 49 of 227)
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Gents' Furnishings, etc.. 20

Grain Shippers 4

Grocers, Retail 367

Grocers, Wholesale 7

Gunsmiths 2

Hardware 18

Hair Workers (human) 5

Harness-makers 10

Hides 4

Hotels and Saloons 174

Ice Dealers 13

Installment Houses .... 7

Insurance, Fire 30

Insurance, Life 15

Jewelers 31

lunk Dealers 18

Layers-out of dead 10

Leather 4

Liquors 18

Live Stock 3

Local Express 18

Locksmiths 2

Lumber 15

Machine-shops 20

* For Table, Nature of I;
States Census Department,

ndustries, 1900, published by the United
see page 237.







Manicures 5

Map Publisher 1

Marble Yards 8

Massage 4

Mercantile Agencies ... 6

Milk Dealers 30

Milliners 32

Millwrights 2

Music Teachers 89

Newspaper 'Dealers .... 4

Newspapers, etc 27

Notaries 43

Notions, Wholesale .... 1

Novelties 3

Nurses (Trained) 33

Oculists 6

Opticians 12

Painters, etc 125

Patent Solicitors 2

Pattern-makers 5

Pavers 4

Pawn Brokers 5

Pension Attorneys 6

Photographers 9

Physicians 157

Piano Dealers 15

Piano Tuners 14

Picture Frames, etc 5.

Plasterers 75

Plumbing, etc 40

Printers 30

Produce Dealers 7

Publishers 10

Rags, Paper, etc 10

Real Estate Agents 50

Restaurants 62

Roofers (Slate) 6

Roofers (Tin) 10

Saddlery, etc 10

Sewing Machines 4

Shoe Dealers 34

Shoemakers 120

Shoe Uppers 1

Sign-makers 6

Stables, Boarding 26

Stables, Livery, etc 12

Stables, Sale 4

Stair Builders 3

Stamping 2

Steamship Agents 4

Stenographers 8

Stock Dealers 4

Stone Masons 80

Stone Yards 12

Storage 7

Tailors 100

Teachers, Music 92

Teachers, School 331

Tea and Coffee 4

Telegraphers 48

Telephoners 100

Theatres 4

Ticket Offices 5

Tinsmiths 40

Tool Sharpeners, etc ... . 2

Toys 3

Typewriter Dealers .... 6

Undertakers 9

Upholsterers 10

Veterinary Surgeons ... 7

Wall Paper 16

Wax Workers, etc 4

Wheelwrights 7

Mercantile Licenses for 1909. — The mercan-
tile appraiser, John G. Her.bine, reported the fol-
lowing retail and wholesale licenses for business
places in the county for the year 1909 :


Reading 1,546

Boroughs 491

Townships 894


Reading 108

Boroughs 5

Townships 9

Total ..N. 122


Total 2,931

Pool and Billiards. — The mercantile
reported for 1909 the following tables:

Reading 47

Boroughs 18

Townships 4



The internal improvements of Reading comprise
those buildings and constructions of a public nature,
whether paid for by the government or by private
individuals and corporations. The following com-
prise those that have contributed to the general wel-
fare, whose total cost to the community and to the
projectors amounts to many millions of dollars.

Market-Houses. — In 1766, the Penns granted a
charter -to the town for holding semi-weekly mar-
kets; also semi-annual fairs on June 4th, and Oct.
Z'i'th; and then a market-house was erected in East
Perm Square. It was a building about 120 feet long


and 20 feet wide, consisting of a double row of
square brick pillars, covered by a double-pitched
shingle roof, and contained 32 stalls. A similar
building was erected in West Penn Square in 1799,
which contained 38 stalls. They were rebuilt in
1846 with iron columns and paved extensions for
increased accommodations at a cost of $6,400, and
abandoned in 1871, when they were sold and re-
moved. The semi-annual fairs were discontinued
in 1853, when the Berks County Agricultural So-
ciety was organized to give annual exhibitions in
their stead.

Private Market-Houses. — In 1871, three large
private market-houses were substituted in the
place of the public buildings on Penn Square: — ■
South Reading, West Reading, and Farmers'. In
1874, two more were erected: — Northeast, and
Keystone; and in 1884, another, Tenth and Chest-
nut. In 1886, the Keystone market-house was con-
verted into the Academy of Music, and the Fifth
street market-house substituted, having been altered
from a skating-rink, now Woodward and Church
streets; it was discontinued in 1904. In 1894, the
Tenth and Windsor was erected; in 1897, the West
Buttonwood, near Schuylkill avenue; and in 1903,
the rear part of the "Crystal Palace Hotel" was
converted into a market-house. There are now
nine in the city. The Farmers' has three annexes
and is the largest in Reading, having altogether 414
stalls. The West Reading had the Potteiger An-
nex from 1895 to 1906.

Waterworks. — The inhabitants were supplied
Yith water from wells and cisterns until 1821. The
first pump at Reading was erected in East Penn
Square in 1750 by direction of the Penns, and
when the market-house was built in 1766, this
pump occupied a position in the center. The well
was fifty-three feet deep, and the water was of a
limestone character. It was abandoned in 1871,
when the market-house was removed.

In 1821, a water company was formed to supply
the inhabitants with water, and then a reservoir
was constructed at the head of Penn street with a
storage capacity of 100,000 hogsheads. In 1865
the city purchased the plant for $300,000. The
sources of supply then were Hampden spring, Egel-
man spring, and Bernhart creek. The supply was
largely increased by introducing the water of Antie-
tam' creek in 1874, and of Maiden creek in 1889,
the former flowing by gravity through large iron
pipes about three miles to the city line, and the
latter being forced through similar pipes about six
and a half miles to the city line, by three Worth-
ington pumps, with a total capacity of 30,000,000
gallons. Total net cost of water supply to April
6, 1908, $3,060,934; debt, $280,806. Total storage
capacity, 186,000,000 gallons ; daily possible sup-
ply, 17,392,000 gallons ; average daily consumption,
12,242,564 gallons. Total quantity consumed for
year 1907-08, 4,480,778,545 gallons. Supply is from
six sources, which, with per centum, is as follows:



Antietam, 36.35; Bernhart, 20.54; Maiden creek,
50.35; Egelman, 1.78; Hampden and Hampden
drift, 0.98.

Filtration. — Sand filtration of Egelman supply
was begun in 1903, of Antietam in 1905, and of
Bernhart in 1909. Total daily capacity, 7,000,000
gallons; estimated cost, $250,000. The Maiden
creek supply will be filtered in 1910; estimated
daily supply, 10,000,000 gallons, and cost, $400,-

Public Roads. — The public roads figured prom-
inently in connection with Reading from the begin-
ning of its history. The ford at the Schuylkill was
a central point from which they were extended in
various directions. When the town was laid out,
there were regular highways ; north to the mouth
of the Maiden creek, almost in a straight line for
six miles ; northeast through Alsace ; southeast
through Exeter to Philadelphia ; southwest through
Cumru to Lancaster ; and west through Cumru and
Heidelberg, also in a straight line, to Lebanon.
And afterward others were established to facilitate
travel from Reading to the diflFerent sections of the

Streets. — The streets were estabhshed when the
town was laid out; and the personal and royal
names given to them by the proprietaries were con-
tinued until changed by the borough council in
1833. The numeral system was then substituted
for the streets running north and south ; and those
running east and west, excepting Penn, Washing-
ton ■ and Franklin, were named after trees ; and
those subsequently laid out, after the townships
of the county. They are at right angles with one
another. Some of them, however, run at an ob-
lique angle, the most prominent being Bingaman
street, Perkiomen, Centre and Schuylkill avenues.
The total number of miles of projected streets is
135 ; of which 83 miles are open for pubHc use.

The first grading of the streets was made in
1833. A topographical survey was made from 1864
to 1868. The plans, in eleven sections, are on
file in the Quarter Sessions' office of Berks county.
In 1863, the system of numbering the houses along
the streets was adopted by councils, allowing 100
for each square from Front street eastward, and
also for each square north and south of Penn street.
This was effected by Jacob Knabb while postmas-
ter, to facilitate and dispatch the delivery of let-
ters, having had numerous petitions signed by the
citizens recommending it.

After considering for a long while the subject
of permanent street improvements, councils even-
tually, in 1883, purchased a steam road-roller,
weighing fifteen tons, and began a gradual im-
provement of the streets in the interior sections
of Reading by macadamizing the surface, and they
kept at it year after year until 1897, spending
annually about $35,000. This not proving satis-
factory, they then determined to lay sheet asphal-
tum, and during that year expended over $120,000

on Penn street and Perkiomen avenue from Front
street to Thirteenth, and on south Fifth street from
Penn to Pine. During the next five years, other
streets were paved with asphaltum and vitrified
brick, covering a total length of ten miles, and
costing altogether $350,000. In 1908 there were
fifty-two miles of macadam street, six miles of as-
phaltum, fourteen miles of vitrified brick, and six
miles of rubble stone.

Sewers. — In 1893, the West system of house
sewers was adopted by councils. The city was di-
vided into eight districts, and the first four were
constructed at the expense of the abutting property
holders, amounting to $231,000, of which the city
paid for the mains, about $50,000. The pumping
station was erected at the foot of Sixth street at a
cost of $60,000 ; and the disposal plant one and one-
half miles below Reading along the west bank of
the river at a cost of $79,600, which was paid by
the city without increasing the tax rate. The sew-
age is purified to 99 per cent. The cost of the three
districts was $350,000.

The first storm-water sewer was constructed grad-
ually in small sections from the foot of Court street
to Buttonwood, to Eighth, to Walnut, and to Elev-
enth, the beginning having been made forty years
ago. The Bassett system was adopted by councils
in 1889, comprising twenty districts. In 1897, the
North Reading sewer was made out of concrete,
in oval shape, starting at Eleventh and Douglass,
and ending at the river near the Carpenter Steel
Works, a distance of two miles. The dimension
at the east end begins at five feet, and ends at the
west end at fourteen feet. The depth below the
surface varies from ten to twenty-five feet. It
is now the largest and longest concrete sewer in
America. The total cost was over $300,000, paid
mostly by a loan granted by a vote of the elec-
tors. In 1908, there were one hundred and two
miles of house sewers ; and fourteen miles of storm-
water sewers, with eleven additional miles pro-

Subway. — The subject of a "crossing" over the
P. & R. railroad at Spring street was agitated un-
successfully for many years until 1904, when the
city authorities and the railroad company reached
an understanding and the necessary steps were
instituted for its construction. The work was giv-
en to Hawman Brothers, contractors of ReadTng,
and they started Nov. 18, 1907, with an allowance
of three hundred working days for its comple-
tion. It was a difficult undertaking on account of
the very heavy traffic on the railroad constantly
passing and repassing that point, but they succeed-
ed in finishingthe bridge within the limited time.

The bridge is constructed of cement work and
when completed will cost about $150,000. A large
bronze tablet, five feet high, is set in the face of
the arches on both sides, in the form of a keystone.
It was opened to travel in April, 1909, and the
grc-at convenience of passing at all times from the




northeastern section of the city to the northwest-
ern, or in an opposite direction, without detention,
was immediately appreciated. It is one of the most
important improvements to the city in recent years.

Ferries and Bridges. — The ford was used in
crossing the Schuylkill for many years ; then a ferry
was introduced to facilitate passage to and fro.
In 1795, the first steps were taken to establish a
bridge at this point; and repeated and persistent
efforts were made by legislation, lottery schemes,
and county appropriations for twenty years be-
fore this great improvement was accomplished-
A roofed wooden structure became passable in
1815 ; and it was finally completed in 1818. The
cost was $50,000. It took the name of "Harris-
burg Bridge" from the public road to Harrisburg.
There was also a ferry at the foot of Bingaman
street. The first privilege was granted by the
Penns to a man named Levan, and it was contin-
ued until a roofed wooden bridge was erected by
the county in 1831, at a cost of $10,000. It took
the name of "Lancaster Bridge," being on the road
to Lancaster.

Toll was charged at both bridges until 1883,
when they were declared free. The subject of
free bi^idges had been agitated as early as 1831 ;
and in 1848 a special effort was made in this behalf,
but without success, because the county commis-
sioners alleged that the expenses exceeded the in-
come, by nearly $30,000. In 1883, the city coun-
cils took the matter in hand, and by application
to court, the purpose was at last accomplished
March 28, 1883.

Both bridges were swept away by the great
freshet of 1850, and immediately rebuilt. In 1876,
the latter was destroyed by fire, and an iron struc-
ture was erected in its stead, which was the first
large iron bridge in the county. And in 1884, a
superior iron bridge was erected in place of the
former at a cost of $100,000.

The first bridge across the Schuylkill in this vi-
cinity was "Kissinger's." It was on the road to
Sunbury through Bern township. An Act was
passed in 1810, authorizing Ulrich Kissinger to
erect and maintain a toll bridge at that point where
this road crossed the river, and he then put up a
chain bridge in two spans. A covered wooden
bridge was substituted in 1830. This was also
swept away by the freshet of 1850, and rebuilt. It
was known for many years as "Bushong's," and
last as "Ahrejis'." The Schuylkill avenue bridge
near by was erected by the county commissioners
in 1893 to take its place.

The Lebanon Valley railroad bridge was erect-
ed in 1857, and it was then regarded as one of
the finest structures in the State. It was destroyed
by fire by the rioters in July, 1877, and rebuilt by
the company. The Wilmington & Northern rail-
road bridge was erected in 1874; the Pennsylvania
Schuylkill Valley in 1884; and the Reading &
Southwestern in 1891. Altogether ten fine bridges
span the river within a distance of three miles.

Schuylkill River. — The river Schuylkill is a
prominent feature of Reading, and has always, con-
tributed many advantages to the place. In res-
pect to carrying away the surface drainage from
all the streets, its value has been incalculable. Its
improvement for navigation was a subject for the
inhabitants as early as 1807, when a society was
formed for this purpose. It was forded until
about the time when the borough was erected, then
the ferries were introduced, and these were car-
ried on utitil the two bridges were built.

Freshets. — The freshets of this water-course
occupy a noteworthy place in local history for over
one hundred years. The most important of them
occurred in 1757, 1786, 1823, 1839, 1841, 1850,
1862 and' 1869. The one which caused the most
damage was in 1850, when the water rose twenty-
five feet above its ordinary level, nearly six feet
higher than the great freshet of 1786.

Fire Compajjy Buildings. — ^For many years,
the fire companies owned the buildings in which
they kept their apparatus, but when the city began
to appropriate liberal sums annually for maintain-
ing them, it became the owner of all, excepting
that of the Liberty Fire Company. The buildings
number thirteen. They are all substantial struc-
tures, finely furnished.

Public Parks. — Penn Common was reserved
by the Penns for the dwellers of the town when
the plan was laid out. But it was not improved
for park purposes until 1878 ; then a strip along
-Perkiomen avenue was ornamented by private
subscription. In 1884, legal proceedings were
instituted by councils to recover possession of
the entire tract (fifty acres) from the county com-
missioners, Wayne Hayman, Esq., city solicitor,
Richmond L. Jones, Esq., .and George F. Baer,
Esq., appearing as counsel for the city. The court
refused to award a writ of mandamvrS to .compel
them to execute a deed to the city for the land,
but the Supreme court ordered it to be done^ and
the transfer was' made in 1886. Then councils es-
tablished a park commission, and annual appropria-
tions have been made since that time for its im-
provement. Until 1909 about $250,000 was ex-
pended. Besides Penn Common, the city owns
Mineral Spring' park, sixty-four acres, which
has also been beautified by annual appropriations,
exceeding $15,000; Egelman park, thirty acres;
Hessian Camp, thirty-two acres ; and other tracts,
twenty-two acres — altogether nearly two hundred
acres, highly appreciated by the people.

Post-Office. — The post-office was established
at Reading in 1793. Since then there have been
eighteen postmasters. The letters were called for
until 1835, when they began to be delivered by pri-
vate enterprise at a cent, and subsequently two cents,
a letter. This practice continued until the free
delivery system was introduced in 1864. Mail



boxes were put up in 1864 for dropping letters
to be collected by carriers, and boxes and carriers
were increased as demands required. The money
order system was introduced in 1864; postal cards
in 1873 ; two-cent postage in 1883 ; and the special
delivery of letters in 1885. In February, 1909, there
were 240 boxes and 43 carriers ; 8 sub-carriers and
2 rural carriers. The office employed 25 clerks,
and 3 sub-clerks. The total business for 1908 was
$180,709. On Oct. 1, 1891, seven stations were
established in different sections of Reading for
the sale of stamps, registering letters and issumg
money orders.

The post-office was located at No. 16 South


Fifth street from 1793 to 1801; No. 146 North
Fifth street, 1801 to 1829; No. 504 Penn Square,
1829 to 1841; No. 423 Penn Square, 1841 to 1845;
No. 508 Penn Square, 1845 to 1849 ; No. 533 Penn
Square, 1849 to 1852; "State-house" (Fifth and
Penn), 1852 to 1866; Sixth and Court streets,
1866 to 1889; Federal building, Fifth and Wash-
ington streets, since 1889. In 1887 the United
States government commenced the erection of a
fine, large building for a permanent post-office.
The department took possession Sept. 16, 1889.
The total cost was $180,000. In 1908, Congress
appropriated $60,000 for an addition to the build-

City Hall. — There was no separate building for

town officials until 1870. A city hall (three-story
brick building) was then erected at Fifth and Frank-
lin streets to supply at one place a "lock-up," city
offices, and council chambers, costing $36,000. Pre-
viously the councils had met in the Court-House.

Cemeteries. — From the beginning of Reading
until 1846, interments were made in burying-
grounds which adjoined the several churches;
then a cemetery was established by Charles Evans.
He was authorized by law to organize a company
for its perpetual management, and when this was
done he transferred to the "Charles Evans Cerne-
tery Company" a tract of twenty-five acres in the
northern section of the city, with the buildings
thereon erected, representing an expenditure of
$84,000. The present area embraces 127 acres,
laid out in lots, and those sold 6,000 ; and burials
to Jan. 1, 1909, 28,230. A fine bronze statue of
the founder stands inside, facing the entrance.
Many costly monuments have been erected, the
most prominent being the "Soldiers' Monument"
in granite, and "Christ on the Cross" in Italian

In 1849, two cemeteries were laid out and es-
tablished on the northern slope of Mt. Neversink,
the "Trinity Lutheran" by the congregation of
that- name, and the "Roman Catholic" by St. Peter's
congregation. And in 1851, the "Aulen-
bach" was laid out along the southeast
border of Reading. When these ceme-
teries were established, burials in them were
encouraged, and the remains of numerous
persons in the different burying grounds
were transferred to them.

Turnpikes. — Turnpikes were projected
along the prominent highways which ex-
tended to the north, to the southeast and
to the west of Reading to enable business
men, farmers and travelers to carry on in-
tercourse more quickly with near and dis-
tant places. In 1805, the Centre Turnpike
Company was incorporated to maintain a
^ turnpike on the road to the north, leading

to Sunbury, and before 1812 it was com-
pleted. Tolls were collected until 1885,
when it was abandoned and the charter for-
feited. In 1810, another was incorporated
for a turnpike southeast to Perkiomen Mills and
Philadelphia; which was completed in 1814. It
was conducted until 1902 when it was declared
free, the county having paid damages for appropri-
ating it. And in 1805, a third was incorporated for
a turnpike west to Harrisburg; which was finished
in 1817, and has been conducted until now.* Their
connection with and value to Reading are not fully
appreciated at this time, but for fifty years, from
1810 to 1860, they contributed a great deal toward
its prosperity. To the stage business they were

* Part made free from Reading to Wernersville.







Stage-Coaches. — The stage-coach was intro-
duced as the first public conveyance at Reading
in 1789 by Martin Hausman. It made weekly
trips to and from Philadelphia, distance fifty-one
miles; fare $2; letters 3d. The round trip was
made in two days. William Coleman became the
owner of the line in 1791, and from that time for
seventy years the Coleman family was prominent-
ly identified with the stage enterprise at Reading


and in eastern Pennsylvania. This business was
active for a long time, especially from 1810 to 1858 ;
but it was discontinued as the railroads were ex-
tended in different directions from Reading. Six
stage lines still carry passengers, merchandise and
mail as follows: northwest to Krick's Mill, and
Bernville; south to Angelica and Terre Hill, and
also to Plowville, Alleghenyville, and Hummel's
Store; east to Boyertown, to Pleasantville, and to

Canals. — The canal, as a means of transporta-
tion to and from Reading, was started in 1811.
It was constructed along the Tulpehocken creek
to its source, and thence along the Swatara creek
to the Susquehanna river, being finished in 1838.
It, was known as the Union canal. It was very
prosperous for a time, and many boats ran to and
fro, carrying lumber, merchandise and passengers,,
but railroad competition caused it to be abandoned.
The Schuylkill canal was constructed alorig the
Schuylkill river from Pottsville to Philadelphia,
especially for transporting coal. It was begun
in 1817 and completed in 1833; and it was suc-
cessfully carried on for over fifty years. It is now
controlled by the P. & R. R. Company but little
used. • i.

Steam Railroads. — Railroads were extended
in directions to correspond with the public roads ;
southeast to Philadelphia, 58 miles, in 1838 ; north-
west to Pottsville, 35 miles, in 1843; west to Har-
risburg, 54 miles, in 1858; northeast to Allentown,
35 miles, in 1859 ; southwest to Lancaster^ 43 miles,
and to Columbia, 46 miles, in 1864; south to Wil-
mington, 73 miles, in 1874; and north to Slating-
ton, 44 miles, in 1874. The "West-Reading" was
constructed in 1863, from the "Lebanon Valley"
via Third street to and along Canal street, to ac-
commodate the numerous enterprises in the west-
ern section of the city. It was operated by the
company for ten years; then transferred to the
Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Company.

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 49 of 227)