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 66 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 66 of 227)
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Lot B. Foreman George Mohr

Samuel Green John Phillips

Joseph Henderson Benjamin F. Rork

Edward Hesser Enoch Rhoads

Caleb Harrison, Jr. John Shiner

Samuel M. Harrison ^acob Steinmetz

William H. Harrison Andrew Steinmetz

John Haws Albert Shirey

Joseph Lacy Samuel Westley

Peter Luft David Waltz

George C. Mohr Thomas White

Officials. — The following chief 'burgesses, town
clerks and justices of the peace have officiated from
the beginning of the borough to the present time :


George W. Hain 1873

James Ligget 1874-75

George Beard 1876

D. K. Miller 1877

George W. Hook 1878

Dr. Henry B. Brusstar 1879-80

C. B. Beard 1881-83

Cyrus Painter 1883

Michael Hoffman 1884

Abner S. East 1885-89

Jacob M Prutzman 1889-92

Isaac W. Miller ■. 1892-93

David Kline 1893-94

Julius R. Langner* 1894-97

James A. Hoffman 1897-1900

Jacob Derr 1900-03

Oliver W. Eck 1903-06

John W. Davis 1906-09

Elmer E. Squibb 1909-12

* First elected for three years u'nder Act of 1893.


Caleb K. Rhoads 1873-1903

Albert Fritz 1903-06

Howard Deam 1906-10


Joseph R. Kerst 1873-88

James S. Brusstar 1873-90

Jeremiah Beard 1888-93

Jacob Prutzman 1890-1911

Oscar S. Hertzog 1893-98

Zacharias Bishop 1898-1903

Harry E. Flart* 1903

James A. Hoffman* 1903-09

John Wells, Sr 1909-14


Chief Burgess, Elmer E. Squibb

Toiun Council, Howard L. Hook, President

Enos Rhoads, Treasurer

Samuel C. Ward

George Brooke, Jr.

John W. Slipp

W. Oliver Geiger

Horace Fry

Howard C. Deam, Clerk
School Board, Robert F. Brooke, President

Harry A. Beard, Secretary

Jacob Shaner, Treasurer

Lyman B. Umstead

William K. Young

Philip Brown
Justices of the Peace, Jacob M. Prutzman
James Hoffman

* Hart resTRlied shortly after receiving his commission; Hoffman
was appointed in his stead and elected in 1904.

Constables, Samuel Kirby

Mahlon Donner
Auditors, D. Harvey Whitman
Daniel Meinder
George F. Bierman
Assessors, John H. Beidler

George W. Reeser
Collector, Charles H. Miller

Board of Health, Frank P. Lytle, M. D., President
Frank Arters, Secretary
Charles H. Miller
Henry H. Davis
Harry Henderson
John Murray

Industries. — The industries at Birdsboro are nu-
merous and together make the place the most pros-
perous town in the county next to Reading. The
lairge and flourishing works of the E. & G. Brooke
Company constitute the conspicuous industrial life
of the place and its chief support.

WilHam Bird established the first iron works here
in 1740 and upon his decease in 1763 they passed
to his son Mark, who operated them until his fail-
ure in 1788. They embraced several forges, roll-
ing-mill, slitting-mill, nail-mill, grist and saw-mill,
and about eight thousand acres of land, which lay
to the east, south and west of the works for sev-
eral miles. John Nixon, Cadwallader Morris, James
Old, and James Wilson then became owners. John
Louis Barde (the grandfather of Edward and
George Brooke) had located here in 1788 and run
the .forges until 1796, when James Wilson sold
them to him, including 2,200 acres of land, and upon
his decease in 1799, Matthew Brooke (the father
of Edward and George) became the owner.

Brooke Works. — In 1837, the two sons named
purchased the plant, and they and their sons have
been operating it successfully until now, covering
a period of more than seventy continuous years and
altogether in the family for more than a hundred
years. In 1846 a charcoal furnace was erected by
them along the creek about a mile to the south, to
take the place of the "Hampton Forge"; in 1848,
an enlarged rolling mill and nail factory; in 1852,
an anthracite furnace (known as No. 1 and operated
until recently when it was dismantled) ; in 1870,
another anthracite furnace, No. 3, and in 1873 a
third, No. 3, both of which are still in active
operation. No. 2 aiTords constant emplovment to
100 hands, and No. 3, to 200 hands.

In 1878, Edward Brooke died, and the E. & G.
Brooke Iron Company was organized, which be-
came the owner of the extensive plant. The capac-
ity has been gradually enlarged until the present
time. Now the works produce annually 80,000 tons
of pig iron, and 250,000 kegs of nails ; and furnish
employment to 775 men and boys. The company
own altogether 250 dwelling-houses, which are oc-
cupied by its employees ; and 150 are owned by em-
ployees, which evidences their industry and tbri'ft.

In 1867, a foundry company was organized for
manufacturing stoves and machine castings, but
it was operated only several years when the Brookes
purchased the large building. In 1885 the Penn-



sylvania Diamond Drill Company removed their
plant from Pottsvil-le to this building and engaged
in the manufacture of diamond-drilling machinery,
mining tools, and high-speed electric light engines.
Owing to the increasing business a new stone build-
ing was erected in 1888, and equipped with the
finest machinery for manufacturing machinery for
■rolling mills, blast furnaces and steel plants; and
subsequently the old building was enlarged and
changed to a cast-iron foundry for producing all
kinds of grey-iron castings.

In 1903, the plant was destroyed by fire; but it
was immediately rebuilt, with a modern equipment
to produce the largest and most difficult castings.
In 1903, a steel-casting branch was added. The
total cost of this great industry exceeds $1,000,-
000, and over four hundred hands are afforded
constant employment. The Brookes became the
owners, and they operated the plant under the name
of the Birdsboro Steel Foundry & Machine Com-

It is estimated that 150 men from Reading are
employed in the different works at Birdsboro, who
travel by train to and fro daily.

Bird Mill. — Next to the iron works, the oldest
industry in long-continued operation is the large
stone grist-mill at the corner of Main and Mill
streets, along Hay creek. It was first erected by
William Bird about the time he started in the
iron business, for the purpose of supplying flour
and feed to his working-people and live stock.
In 1844, the third building was put there. In
1879, this was remodeled with roller-process ma-
chinery, and flour was manufactured until 1898;
since then it has been used as a chopping-mill,
operated by George C. Riegner.

Shoe Factories. — In 1881, H. M. Willits started
the manufacture of infants' shoes and has con-
tinued until the present time, employing upward
of sixty hands; and in 1890 Albert H. Huyett
and Charles S. Rhoads, trading as Huyett &
Rhoads, sta/rted in the same business and have
since employed from sixty to seventy-five hands.

Hosiery Mill. — William B. .Byers and son Charles
have been engaged in the manufacture of hosiery
since 1904, employing twenty to thirty hands.
They succeeded William Cavanaugh, who had car-
ried on the factory for about ten years.

Creamery. — A creamery was started at Birds-
boro about 1895 by Herbine & Khne and they oper-
ated it until March, 1909, when they sold it to
Harry Koch, who has been operating it since,
with his brother Roy Koch as manager.

Glove Factory. — A new enterprise for the manu-
facture of canvas gloves has been recently start-
ed by James Sponagle and his son.

Besides the industries named the borough con-
tained in April, 1909, two bakeries, two tinsmith
shops, eight grocery stores, one drug store, one
bottling works, and four physicians.

Bank. — ^A national bank was organized and
chartered in 1888 with a capital of $50,000, which

has been managed very successfully. In 1901, a
new and attractive building was erected for the
transaction of its business. In November, 1908,
the resources of the bank were $358,896, with in-
dividual deposits $177,844. Edward Brooke has
been the president since its organization.

Railroads. — The Philadelphia & Reading rail-
road was constructed along the northerly bank
of the Schuylkill river opposite Birdsboro in 1838;
the Wilmington & Northern, through the central
section of the town and thence southward along
Hay creek, in 1874; the, Pennsylvania Schuylkill
Valley, also through the central section, extend-
ing east and west, in 1884; and a trolley line of
electric railway was extended from the Black Bear
Inn, via Seyfert and Gibraltar to Birdsboro, in
1904. They are all of great impoitance to the place,
not only In respect to its industries but also to the
convenience and encouragement of its inhabitants
in visiting the county-seat for business, political,
social and amusement purposes.

Fire Company. — 'In 1883, a fire company was
organized at Birdsboro to afford the place protec-
tion against fire, named Friendship Fire Company
No. 1. In 1884 the company erected a fine two-
story engine-house, on a lot donated by George
Brooke, in which to place its apparatus. It was
enlarged in 1905. The equipment comprises two
hose carriages with 1,000 feet of hose; and the
membership numbers 120. The building includes
all modern improvements, with four bath-rooms and
pool-room for the convenience and entertainment
of the members.

Newspapers. — The Birdsboro Pioneer was the
first newspaper published at Birdsboro. It was an
English weekly started by B. F. Fries on April
27, 1873, and he continued its publication until Jan-
uary, 1876, when he moved to Reading, changed
the title to Industrial Pioneer, and continued its
publication for several months.

The Birdsboro Dispatch was started by Rapp &
Ryan in 1884 as an English weekly and they carried
on its publication until Jan. 1, 1894, when Luther
S. Mohr became the purchaser and he continued
its publication until July 1, 1908, when he sold it
to Harry E. Hart, who has issued it since in con-
nection with The Birdsboro Review, which he had
founded in 1893 and published successfully until
the consolidation.

Churches. — The first church in this locality was
the Methodist Episcopal church, erected in 1839
near Mt. Airy, several miles to the east. The ad-
herents of this denomination at Birdsboro attend-
ed services there and continued to do so until 1869,
when a church was established in the town; and
this has been maintained until now.

Members of the Protestant Episcopal Church at-
tended services at Douglassville until 1853, when
they secured a church at Birdsboro, which was
named "St. Michael's." The building was remod-
eled in 1885 and made one of the mpst attractive



churches in the county, A fine rectory was added
to the property in 1877 ; and also a library hall in
1884. The members of this denomination were
mostly instrumental in laying out a cemetery a mile
east of the town in 1870. A soldiers' monument
was erected there in 1905, and dedicated with im-
posing ceremonies on July 4th.

The Evangelical Association erected a small
church in 1874; the Lutherans, in 1877 (after main-
taining an organization since 1873) ; and the Re-
formed, in 1880. Members of the last two denom-
inations until then had generally attended church
services either at the "Plow Church" to the south;
or at the "Schwartzwald" to the north, or at the
"St. John's" to the west.

In South Birdsboro, there are two brick church
buildings, one erected by Grace United Brethren
Association in 1886, and the other by Trinity Evan-
gelical Association in 1904.

Schools. — The citizens of the community adopt-
ed the free school system in 1836. Previously there
were pay schools, as elsewhere in the county.

An academy for higher education was established
in 1855 by Prof. B. F Boyer, a graduate of Yale
College, who afterward practised law at Reading.
The site is now included in the cemetery. It was
carried on for about twenty years, and commonly
known as the "Philomathean Academy." Educa-
tional matters have been much encouraged, as evi-
denced by the superior and costly school buildings
in the town. A fine modern structure was erected
' in 1896. In 1906, there were eleven graded schools,
with 459 scholars.

Bands. — There are three popular bands of music
at Birdsboro: The 46th Regiment Band (organized
before the Civil War) ; the Birdsboro Band, with
twenty performers ; and the Orpheus Band, with
twenty performers. The Birdsboro Drum Corps,
with fifteen members, has also been a popular or-
ganization for a number of years.

Cornet Band in Civil War. — iThe Birdsboro
Cornet Band was enlisted in the Civil war, and the
musicians were R. J. Stanley, leader, Augustus
Dewitt, John W. Deeds, Benneville Evans, Dan-
iel Fix, Isaac Hoyer, George W. Horner, John
H. Karch, William V. Light, Joseph Lacey, Au-
gustus Minker, James H. Minker. It was mus-
tered into service Aug. 27, 1861, for three years,
as the regimental band of the 46th Regiment,
Pennsylvania Volunteers. It accompanied the reg-
iment in its movements but was mustered out of
service Aug. 16, 1862, in pursuance of an order
dispensing with regimental bands. It was rec-
ognized as a superior band. It has kept up an
active organization until the present time, known
as the 46th Regimental Band. The members num-
ber forty, all expert players on their respective
instruments. Samuel Nagle has been the leader
for the past twenty years. It is popular and parti-
cipates in many public demonstrations.

Lodge Hall.— In 1904, the Knights of the Gold-
en Eagle and the Odd Fellows jointly erected a

fine, large, three-story brick building to provide
a hall for their meetings, and all the secret socie-
ties (including Sons of America, Mechanics, Mac-
cabees and Red Men) meet there, excepting the
Freemasons, which meet in Brooke Hall. The
Auditorium for public meetings and amusements
was erected in 1892, and has been patronized lib-

Hotels. — There are three licensed hotels in the
borough, Washington, Mansion, and St. Elmo.
The first was rebuilt in 1904 by John Barbey of
Reading to supply a modern hotel; the Reading
Brewing Company secured the second also in 1904,
and made costly improvements.

Homes. — Birdsboro is remarkable for beautiful
homes, more especially in the sections known lo-
cally as Lincoln-town and Brooklyn. The Brooke
homes are palatial.

First Bridge. — In 1778, a ford was reported at
Jacob Huyett's farm along the Schuylkill river
which was above the mouth of Hay creek, and then
the water was eight inches in depth. This ford
was used until 1845, when a covered wooden bridge
was erected by a stock company and it was main-
tained as a toll-bridge until 1887, when it became
a free county bridge. In 1850, it was swept away
by the great freshet. It was immediately Tebuilt
and is still in daily use.

Flood of 1902. — In February, 1902, there was
a considerable fall of rain and on account of the
rushing swollen waters in Hay creek the dam above
the Brooke nail-mill was swept away and the lower
section of Birdsboro along Main street was flood-
ed to the depth of seven feet. After the waters
had passed away, there was a deposit of fourteen
inches of mud on the street and six inches in the


Incorporation. — Centreport was incorporated as
a borough in 1884, having been taken from Centre
township, for the purpose of securing better school
facilities. The borough, which is the smallest in
the county, includes one school building, with 35
scholars; 38 dwellings; and a population of 150.

First Taxaules.— ^The taxable residents at the-
time of incorporation were as follows :
William B. Borkey
Marv Blatt
William W. Haag
George W. B. Kauffman
Daniel H. Kline

William R. Kline
Alfred A. Lesher

George P. Rentschler
David Stepp
John H. Stepp
Henry Stover
Benjamin Schlappig
Esther Stoudt

Joshua Bucks

Elias Boltz

James Dunkelberger

William Deweese

Samuel Heffner

Tames A. Hoffman, M. D.

Samuel B. Kantner

William Knauer

James W. Klapp

James T. Kline

Ephraim C. Moyer


David Myers
James H. Moll
Daniel H. Noecker
John E. Pautsch
Elias S. Rentschler
IMorris Reeser
John H. Soatz, M.
Elizabeth Seaman
Adam S. Williams
Charles S. Yoder




Officials. — The following have served as chief
burg-esses and justices of the peace since the incor-
poration of the borough:


Morris Reeser 1884-85

James Kauffman 1886

Darius E. Sheidy 1887 ; 1890-91

William Knauer 1888

M. G. Rentschler 1889

James Lengel ■ 1892-97

Frank Dewees 1897-1900

James H. Moll 1900-03

Frank H. Borkey 1903-06

P. S. Ludwig 1906-09

James S; Miller 1909-13

Justices of the peace

James Klapp 1884-89

George W. B. Kauffman 1884-88

I>arius E. Sheidy 1888-92

Michael S. Rentschler 1889-1909

J. M. Yerger 1892-93

M. D. Winter 1894-1909


Chief Burgess, James S. Miller
Town Council, H. E. F. Deitz, President

David Porter

John Bagenstose

William Reber

Levi Haag

M. S. Rentschler, Secretary
School Board, James S. Miller, President

M. D. Winter, Secretary

Thomas D. Moyer, Treasurer

William Rick

M. S. Rentschler

H. E. F. Deitz
Assessor, M. D. Winter
Collector, H. E. F. Deitz
Auditors, D. B. Rentschler
Thomas Moyer
William Reber
Justice of the Peace, M. S. Rentschler
Constable, T. D. Moyer

Industries. — Before 1890 there vs^ere no indus-
tries at the place. The first was a creamery es-
tablished by M. S. Rentschler, Esq., in 1891. It
has been operated since 1900 by H. S. Frauenfel-
der, of Mohrsville, in connection with three other

In 1893, Jonathan G. Reber started the manu-
facture of light and heavy farm wagons at this
place and he has continued until the present time,
employing from ten to fifteen hands, with a capi-
tal of $8,000. His wagons are sent to all parts of
the county, being appreciated for their strength
and durability.

The same year F. R. Hiester began the manu-
facture of cigars, moving here from Shartlesville,
where he had been in the business from 1885. He
and his son produced annually about 200,000, which
were sold mostly in the coal regions oi Pennsyl-
vania. They discontinued in 1906.

In 1895, a knitting-mill was established by J.
E. Pautsch, M. M. Kline and D. E. Noecker for

making ladies' and children's underwear. In 1901,
Mr. Pautsch became the sole owner, and he oper-
ated the plant for five years ih a successful man-
ner, employing from eighteen to twenty-five hands,
with an investment of $10,000; then it was des-
troyed by fire, and Mr. Pautsch died shortly after-

In 1895, C. K. Miller opened a marble yard
for supplying gravestones and marble work, and
has continued it since. Itr that year M. D. Win-
ter began the making of ice-cream and confec-
tionery, enlarging his business in 1903 by the addi-
tion of a gasoline engine. His trade extends in-
to the surrounding townships.

In 1900, Joseph D. Naftzinger engaged in the
manufacture of kitchen furniture, continuing un-
til now \yith three hands. The top floor of his
factory building is used for lodge purposes. He
also deals in furniture and carpets. He is the
undertaker for this vicinity.

In 1902, William Boyer, began a small saddlery
for the manufacture and repair of harness. A
similar shop had been at the place for many years.
M. D. Winter started a shirt factory in 1908
with eighteen hands ; and J. S. Balthaser an imple-
ment store in 1907 with five hands.

M. D. Winter has been the postmaster for six-,
teen years. The previous postmasters were J. E.
Pautsch and William B. Borkey.

The enterprise of the place is commendable, con-
sidering its smallness and situation from the rail-
way. [Statistics relating to the borough will be
found in Chapter IX.]

About 1818, a public house, including a general
store, was opened at this point by John Haag, and
from this time forward it gradually became a center
for the transaction of business. The store was sep-
arated from the tavern in 1857, and William Bor-
key was the first store-keeper. M. S. Rentsch-
ler's father carried on this store for many years.
The son succeeded him in 1886, and has operated
a large general store in a successful manner ever

In the erection of the borough, the tavern was
excluded, though the premises adjoined the line.
A post-office was established there in 1868. Curb-
stones were set along the gutters in 1895 ; and the
streets came to be lighted in the night-time by large
oil lamps set on posts. The nearest railroad point
is at Shoemakersville about two miles to the east,
but the station generally taken is Mohrsville, though
farther distant, on account of the shorter distance
to Reading.

Physicians. — The medical practitioners at this
place have been Dr. William Palm, Dr. J. H. Spatz,
Dr. C. G. Loose, Dr. James A. Hoffman, and Dr.
J. G. Matternes.

Band of Music. — A band of music was organ-
ized in the borough in 1906, with upward of fif-
teen members, who are instructed by Byron Miller,
of Bernville.




When the Philadelphia & Reading railroad was
being extended from Reading northward, Samuel
Lee laid out a town along the Centre Turnpike in
Maiden-creek township (now Ontelaunee) a short
distance east of the Schuylkill river, nine miles
from Reading, and named it "Leesport." But the
railroad was constructed on the western side of
the river, and the station was located at the point
where the public road from Leesport into Bern
township crossed the railroad. This station was
named Leesport by the railroad company in 1842;
and the name has been continued until the present

The business at the station encouraged the for-
mation of a settlement at this place and in time
it developed into an important and popular trading
center. Samuel H. Lenhart was actively and suc-
cessfully engaged in the general store business
here for fifty years, taking great interest in the wel-
fare and enrichment of the community; Leonard
F. Schock was the railroad station agent from 1870
until his decease in 1908; and Isaac H. Rahn the
justice of the peace from 1868 until his decease in

The Lenhart store was established by Abraham
Herbein about 1850, and in 1858 he sold it to Mr.
Lenhart. In 1890 Harry Lenhart became associat-
ed with his father, and they have since traded
under the name of S. H. Lenhart & Son. Sam-
uel Bell has been here as a tinsmith and stove
■dealer since 1862, having removed from Reading.

Incorpoeation. — In May, 1901, an application
was made to the court of Quarter Sessions for the
incorporation of the settlement west of the river
into a boroug'h, and the decree v.'as made on Dec.
30, 1901, with the name West Leesport, because the
place was situated west of the river. Immediately
after a municipal organization was effected in
March, 1902, local improvements began to be made
in the streets and sidewalks and also in the ap-
pearance of the dwellings, showing the beneficial
influence of an elevated political status.

In 1906, there were in the borough 100 dwell-
ings; 185 taxables ; 3 stores; 2 hotels; a church;
a school (4 rooms) ; a wheelwright and a black-
smith shop ; a knitting-mill ; - a physician ; and a
veterinary surgeon. The taxable property was as-
sessed at $138,385; money at interest, $72,055;
estimated population, 550.

First Taxables. — Names of resident taxables of
West Leesport, when first established as a borough
in 1902:

George B. Hoyer
Samuel Haines
Abraham Kaiifman
Charles Ketner
Isaac Keener
Francis Kavifman
S. H. Lenhart
Benjamin Leinbach
Mrs. Esther Lengel
Reuben Loose
George B. Moser
William Mengel
Charles E. Mengel
Mrs. John Riley Est.
Mrs. Lovine Ruth
"Levi Reeser
Isaac Rahn
D. H. Reeser
James Rentchler
Morris Rieser
William F. Radey
William Z. Rahn

Esther Richard
Tacob Rickenbach
Kate Seaman
Charles Schock
L. F. Schock
Reuben schock
Mrs. Levi Snyder Est.
Mrs. Samuel Spayd, Est.
Emanuel Straus
William Spayd
Aaron Schrack
Mandus Schloppig
Gideon Stoudt
Samuel Spayd, Jr.
Edward C. Spayd
Mrs. Leah Spatz
Elias Spatz
Benneville K. Seidel
Mrs. Angelina Strauser
Wilson Strauser
Jacob H. Wangee


Charles Adams
Samuel Bagenstoes
Bagenstoes & Loose
James G. Bear
Samuel Bell
William Bell
Wallace Blatt
Frank Brown
Edward Brobst
Jacob Bagenstose
Mary Bagenstose

Thomas R. Christ
Franklin Dundore
Samuel Z. Deck
William Epler Est.
Charles Fisher
Mary Fisher
Edward Gromis
Reuben Huff
Samson Hoyer
John Hans
George C. Hartman

Frank W. Adam
Howard S. Blatt

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 66 of 227)