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 67 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 67 of 227)
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i^harles S. Becker
Harry Balthaser
Oscar Clay
Charles O. Collins
Thomas R. Dunkel
Benneville K. Dundore
Charles R. Deisher
Jacob Dimkelberger
Samuel M. Deck
James B. Freeman
Isaac Freeman, Sr.
Robert H. Freid
Silas Gass
Milton G. Grater
Aaron L. Graff
James H. Gauker
Tacob H. Hollenbach
William C. Hafer
John J. Keim
Charles E. Keller
Charles L. Ketner
John G. Kramer
Adam W. Kendell
Harry G. Lenhart
George Lerch
Francis B. London
William L. Loose
Solomon E. Moser
Lewis D. Mervine

First Officials. — At the February election of
1902, the first borough officials were elected, and
the following list comprises the names of the per-
sons chosen to fill the several positions :
Chief Burgess, Morris Reeser '
Town Council, Gideon Stoudt
D. H. Reeser
Silas Reeser
Samuel H. Lenhart
Charles Fisher
F. P. Dundore
Auditor, Oscar Mengel
Assessor, Samuel Spayd
School Directors, J. J. Kieni

Wallace Blatt
Samuel Roth
Wilson Strauser
Charles D. Snyder
Cliarles Reeser

Franklin Mengel
Morris Miller
Rufus C. Marks
Wilson Mens
Frank P. Nocker
James Naragan
Ephraim Nettinger
Charles L. Reeser
John Z. Reeser
Samuel Roth
Levi R. Roth
Sallie Reeser
Sarah Reeser
George A. Rahn
Owen Reeser
Alfred H. Strause
Rev. D. E. Schaffer
Israel Strause
James Shade
Alvin Snyder
Girtie Strause
Wash Shell
Austin Smith
John Shell
Joseph Spangler
Elias Spatz
Charles B. Snyder
EUenie Schrack
Rufus P. Ulrich
James Unger
William P. Unger



Justice of the Peace,* B. F. Leinbach
Constable, George B. Moser
Judge of Election, George A. Rahn
Inspectors, C. E. Keller

Frank A. Adam

The- second chief burgess was elected in 1905
for three years, Samuel H. Lenhart (Republican).
Pohtical status of council: four RepubHcans and
three Democrats. The third burgess elected, in
1908, was Gideon Stoudt.

Chief Burgess, Gideon Stoudt
Town Council, James B. Rentschler, President
Samuel H. Lenhart
John Z. Rieser
M. T. .Schlappig
Wilson Strauser
George C. Hartman
Dr. C. O. Collins, Secretary
School Board, Samuel Roth, President
D. E. Shaffer, Secretary-
Charles L. Ketner, Treasurer
Edward Gromis
Jacob Bagenstose
Jacob Rickenbach
Auditors, Owen Reeser

John Rickenbach
Wirt R. Rahn
Assessor, Morris Rieser
Collector, Samuel Z. Deck
Justice of the Peace, B. F. Leinbach
Constable, George B. Moser
Board of Health, S. M. Deck, President
Rufus Marks, Secretary
George B. Hoyer
Samuel Bell
Dr. F. P. Dundore

Industry. — Before 1890, there was no manufac-
turing establishment at West Leesport; but in that
year the subject was discussed in the stores and
taverns, and the discussion resulted in a public meet-
ing in February, 1891, which was addressed by Mor-
ton L. Montgomery, Esq., at the request of S. H.
Lenhart, R. Wanner & Son, Isaac H. Rahn, L. F.
Schock and others for the purpose of stimulating
enterprise. Some time afterward, a company was
organized by the citizens named for manufacturing
hosiery, and the factory was located in the ware-
house of S. H. Lenhart. It was operated several
years, then abandoned on account of competition
and scarcity of .hands. In 1899 the machinery was
sold to Samuel L. Miller and Charles Balthaser,
who then revived the industry as a knitting-mill and
after operating it for a year removed the plant to
the Evangelical Church building which they had
purchased. Here they have been manufacturing
ladies' underwear and misses' hosiery until now.
They employ forty hands.

Franklin Baer is engaged as a wheelwright and
blacksmith ; and John Narragang as a pump-maker.

The Eagle Knitting Mill (carried on by parties
from Hamburg in the manufacture of underwear)
is situated on the east side of the river, opposite the
borough, and employs from forty to fifty hands.

The post-office was established in 1872.

* The other official was Isaac H. Rahn, elected as of the borough
in 1904, after having served as of Bern township continuously
since 1868. He died March 15, 1907.

Water and Light. — Waterworks have not yet
been established and the community still adheres
to the use of wells and pumps. The streets are not
lighted at night.

Secret Societies. — ^A lodge hall has been main-
tained on the third floor of the Lenhart store since
1858. Four beneficial organizations hold their meet-
ings in it: American Mechanics (No. 141) ; Odd
Fellows (No. 141); Daughters of Rebekah; and
Daughters of Liberty. The first society has $10,000
at interest; and the second, $6,000.

Church. — ^A brick church was erected on the
main street in 1873 by Salem's Evangelical Asso-
ciation which was dedicated in 1873. The congre-
gation continued to worship in harmony for about
twenty years, but then the religious disturbance of
the national body reached this congregation also
and in the final adjustment this church was retain-
ed by the original association. Its membership,
however, was too weak to survive and in 1900 the
building was sold to Miller & Balthaser, who con-
verted it into a factory. The other faction, Bethany
United Evangelical, maintained their organization,
erected a church in 1896 and have supported it until
now; membership, 35.

The members of the Lutheran and Reformed de-
nominations attend religious services at Epler's
Church in Bern township or at Belleman's, in Cen-
tre, or at Trinity, in Leesport.

School. — The school in the borough was erected
by the township and became the property of the
borough in its establishment. It is a two-story brick
building, with four rooms, and a graded system of
education. The scholars number about ninety.


Incorporatiion. — The borough of Wyomissing
was erected on July 22, 1906. It takes its name from
the stream which flows near the dividing line be-
tween Cumru and Spring townships for several
miles. It is situated along the main thoroughfare
which extends westwardly from Reading, two miles
from the city. The area embraced 510 acres, 92
perches of land (taken from Spring township),
when incorporated, and included sixty-one resident
taxables and eleven non-residents.

Ten years before its erection, Thomas P. Merritt,
an enterprising lumber dealer and capitalist of
Reading, purchased several farms exceeding six
hundred acres, organized the Reading Suburban
Real Estate Company with a number of other per-
sons, principally from Reading (among them Albert
Thalheimer, David Keiser, David H. Keiser, Mat-
thias Mengel and Levi W. Mengel, who were the
largest subscribers of stock), laid off the land into
a large number of lots with boulevards and side-
walks, planted 25,000 shade trees, and called the
place "Wyomissing." They advertised the subur-
ban place extensively and sold many lots. Some of
the purchasers erected dwelling-houses for them-
selves immediately and located there with their
families, which popularized the place very much.



In this way it soon came to be the most attractive
suburban town in the vicinity of Reading.

The first real impetus in the development of the
place was given by Ferdinand Thun and Henry
Janssen in 1896, who selected a site along the
railroad for establishing a new enterprise in the
manufacture of textile machinery, and erected a
large building 45 feet wide and 225 feet long, with
an office building adjoining, capable of employing
over one hundred hands, and shortly afterward
dwelling-houses came to be put up for the accom-
modation of some of the employees. The dwelHng
of Mr. Thun near the main thoroughfare was made
particularly attractive which showed his strong faith
in the future development of the place as well as
of his own industrial enterprise. Since then, the
growth of the town has been truly remarkable, both
in manufacturing establishments and dwellings of
a suj>erior character.

Several years afterward, the subject of establish-
ing a borough began to be agitated for the purpose
of securing the regulation of the streets and the ad-
vantages of municipal government, and public sen-
timent in its behalf was developed gradually in
spite of much opposition. Several petitions were
presented to the court in 1904 and 1905, and the
decree was made on July 22, 1906. The boundary
lines embrace territory about one mile square, ex-
tending from the Lebanon Valley railroad on the
north to the Wyomissing road on the south, and
from Smith street on the east (now the western
boundary line of West Reading) to a public road
on the west commonly known as "Mengels' Mill

A reservoir with a capacity of 1,000,000 gallons
was constructed on the top of "laeger Hill," north
of the railroad, elevated about three hundred and
fifty feet above the level of the borough, and spring
water was forced into this reservoir from a large
spring, situated near the Wyomissing road, which
was provided as the water supply for the inhabi-
tants ; but the water having been condemned after-
ward by the State authorities, it has been set apart
for fire purposes only, and the borough has made
arrangements with the Sinking Spring Water Com-
pany for its water supply, the water mains having
been recently (1908) extended along the public
road to the borough.

Since the establishment of the borough, great
improvements have been made in the grade and ap-
pearance of the streets and in the sidewalks.

A large, superior and very attractive two-story
brick school building was erected by the borough
in 1907-08, costing $25,000. It occupies a promi-
nent position. And an attractive "Town Hall"
is now in course of erection along the main

Post-Office was established May 27, 1899; and
the postmasters have been: William Romberger,
Aaron S. Hieter, Allen U. Baer (1901-03), George

W. Hefifelfinger (1903-06), Alfred B. Yorgey
(since May 1, 1906).

In April, 1909, the borough contained the follow-
ing improvements: Textile Machine Works, NaT-
row Fabric Mill, Berkshire Knitting Mills, Lein-
bach's Hosiery Mill, Paul K. Leinbach's Planing
Mill, Ruth's Coal Yard, Stetler's Apartment House,
four green-houses (Farr's, Hoskin's, Shearer's, and
Heck Brothers'), two hotels, and two stores.

The Reading Shale Brick Works and the Mon-
tello Brick Works are situated outside of the bor-
ough limit, along the northern boundary line.

First Taxables. — Names of resident taxables of
Wyomissing, when first established as a borough
in 1906:

Charles Brehner
Napoleon Bickelman
John Bitler
Nelson J. Boltz
Alvin Becker
James N. Brannan
Clarence H. Dittes
H. D. Dimkelberger
Adam G. Eyrich
Henry Faust
Bertram H. Farr
H. M. Fry
Jacob Graefif
CUnton Grimes
Henry Ganter
Robert Ganter
Ernst L. Hahn
Harry H. Huyett
George W. Heffelfinger
Adam D. Heffelfinger
Mrs. Aaron Heiter
Caleb Harrison
Edward L. Hart
Charles Hart Est.
Charles A. Henning
J. Fred Hartgen
Henry K. Janssen
Harvey P. Kline
William E. Keyte
E. D. Kains
Frank D. Leinbach
Harvey D. Leinbach
Richard A. Leinbach
Mrs. George F. Lance
Henry Lorah
Edwin Lichtenthaler
Charles H. Mathias
Henry A. Miller
Charles H. Meyer
John Miner
Harvey L. Noecker

Thomas H. Becker
Monroe Balmer
Rudolph Binckey
William Bewley
Edward Beam
Charles Brannan
Chester Baer
Elijah Brossman
George Brossman
William Buchman
Charles M. Culver
Elmer Carlson
Ammon Dearolf

Daniel Noecker
Mrs. Anna Nyce
Joseph Ohlinger
Christopher Prill
Samuel B. Palm
A. B. Pott
Charles Reifsnyder
Calvin Ruth
Robert Carl Rahm
James P. Ruth
Marx Reimer
John Rentz
Adam H. Schroeder
John Stroup
William E. Sheidy
Mrs. Joel Steffy
Daniel Spatz
Howard L. Seidel
Mrs. Ida Simmons
Henry Y. Stoner
R. R. Snyder
Charles C. Stetler, Sr.
Henry M. Stetler
Obadiah F. Sander
Jacob B. Sweitzer
Frank D. Schearer
Jacob R. Sonon
Robert Starke
Samuel Shaub
Lender Trickel
Andrew 1. Torbert
Charles M. Tiehel
Ferdinand Thun
Allen Van Steffv
Paul L. Walter"
Thomas V. Willson
John A. Watson
Evelyn Williams
William A. Walter
A. B. Yorgey
James R. Yost


Albert Dunkelberger
George W. Daniels
William Diamond
Feli.x Degner
Norbert Dornhecker
Edward Eschbach
Robert Eschbach
Josiah Eschbach
George W. Endy
Paul Eifert
James A. Eyrich
Alexander Ender
Mrs. Daniel Ermentrout



Cyrus Ferker
Otto Floren
.Edwin Gougler
Allen Gaul
Adam Z. Geiss
William Grohs
William Grim
Thomas E. Hornberger
William J. Hornberger
Lester R. Heffelfinger
Ernest Hoffman
Lewis C. Hulshizer
Charles M. Huber
Fritz Hoover
James Hill
Frederick Heath
George H. Hoffman
Elias Y. Johnson
Robert F. Kinzer
Albert Kutz

Ernst Kolditz

Joseph Koontz

Howard Keener

Herman KotternbacK

William Loehrig

August Lippke

William Long

Isaac Lessley

Daniel Lorah

Joseph C. Lance

August Lumbert

Robert Lance

Harvey Master

William McGuire

John McNabb

William Moyer

Ambrose Madeira

Irenaeus Miller

William Mohn

Alvin Moyer

Howard Moyer

Edward Moyer

S. D. Mullinux
Charles Molly
Robert Molly
Monroe Naftzinger
Gustav Oberlaender
Wilson C. Price
Carl Peterson
Daniel Pleam
Jacob Ruth
Adam Ruth
Richard Reese
Jesse Ritter
Julius Rettberg
Albert H. Rentz
Otto Riese
Augustus Rill
John G. Reigner

Henry A. Stetler

Allen V. Steffy

Cleaven Steffy

George A. Stely

John N. Stillinger

William B. Sheidy

Steward Smith

Harry Smith

George Schmidt

Frank Shappel

George Shaub

Charles C. Stetler, Jr.

Charles Sheidy

Charlie Thus

Francis Tiehel

Ezra Triest

William Vanreed

Peter Wanner

Thomas Weichard

George Wilson

Robert WoUer

Thomas K. Watson

Harry Weik

Charles Wieand

Melchoir Zwicky

First Officials. — In the decree of incorporation,
the court fixed Aug. 28, 1906, for the election of
borough officials, and the following persons were
elected :

Chief Burgess, Bertrand H. Farr
Toziin Council, Ferdinand Thun (3 years)
Henry Y. Stoner (3 years)
James H. Brennan (3 years)
George W. Endy (3 years)
Henry M. Stettler (2 years)
Henry K. Janssen (1 year)
R. R. Snyder (1 year)
Assessor, Henry A. Stetler
Auditor, Allen V. Steffy
Constable, Jacob K. Graeff
School Directors, H. M. Fry (3 years)

A. H. Schroeder (3 years)
Max Reimer (2 years)
Frank Leinbach (2 years)
Robert C. Rahn (1 year)
John Stroup (1 year)
Judge of Election, Charles M. Huber
Inspectors, Eugene Bowers
George Brossman
At this election, the electors voted in favor of making
a debt for local improvements (95 having voted for it and
19 against it).

In the organization of the town council, Ferdi-
nand Thun was chosen president, and he filled this

then continued as the president. Charles M. Hu-
ber has served as clerk of the council since 1906.

The justices of the peace for the borough were
elected in February, 1907, for five years: Charles
M. Huber and A. B. Madeira.

Thomas V. Willson officiated as treasurer from
1906 to 1909 ; and Prof. Henry Y. Stoner was elect-
ed to succeed him.

The second chief burgess was elected in 1909,
Horace G. Riegner, t-o serve three years.


Chief Burgess, Horace Riegner

Town Council, Ferdinand Thun, President ,

H. Y. Stoner, Treasurer
Henry K. Janssen
Henry M. Stetler
R. R. Snyder
George Endy
Henry A. Miller
Thomas Watson
Charles M. Huber, Secretary
School Board, Robert Carl Rahn, President
John McNabb
John Stroup
Norman B. Wamsher
Harry Weik
Harvey Noecker
Auditors, Allen V. Steffy
W. C. Loehrig
Paul Moyer
Assessor, Henry A. Stetler
Collector, A. I. Torbert
Justices of the Peace, Charles M. Huber

A. B. Madeira
Constable, Jacob R. Graeff

Board of Health, Gustav Oberlaender, President
Thomas V. Willson, Secretary
Dr. C. E. Lerch
John Stroup
Norman Wamsher
Lender Trickel, Health OfRcer


Textile Machine Works. — The most important in-
dustry in Wyomissing is the large plant of the Tex-
tile Machine Works, operating a pattern shop, foun-
dry, and machine shop, and employing over three
hundred hands. In 1892, Ferdinand Thun and Hen-
ry K. Janssen, after having been employed in New
York City for several years, located at Reading and
established a small machine shop in a rented build-
ing at Nos. 230 and 222 Cedar street, for the man-
ufacture of braiding machines. They started with
about a dozen hands, but in a few years increased
their business to such an extent that. they employed
from forty to fifty hands and their quarters in town
becoming too small another location with greater
facilities was necessary. They selected a site at
Wyomissing along the Lebanon Valley railroad and
secured a tract of several acres of land where the
Van Reed road crosses the railroad and there they
erected a large, substantial building, 45 feet wide by
325 feet long, and a two-story office-building ad-
joining, which enabled them to employ over one
hundred hands.

When the business was organized in 1892, the
position until his re-election to council in 1909, and braid industry in .this country was comparatively



unimportant. Mr. Thun had for four years prior
to 1892 been the superintendent of the Sutro Broth-
ers Braid Company factory in New York City, and
had become thoroughly familiar with the manufac-
ture of high-grade braids and dress trimmings. Mr.
Janssen had been in the employ of the Castle Braid
Company of BTOoklyn, N. Y., as the foreman of
their machine shop, and had been the first builder
of braiding machinery of the German system in
the United States. When the'partnership of Thun
& -Janssen was formed, it was done with the idea
of supplying the demands for high-grade machin-
ery for manufacturing braids and dress trimmings
in this country to a growing business. Previously,
this class of machines had always been imported
from Barmen, Germany, from which place both Mr.
Thun and Mr. Janssen came originally.

During the first fifteen years, a great many new
factories for braids, dress trimmings, millinery
trimmings, laces, etc., were established in the Uni-
' ted States, and all of them, without exception, were
supplied with machinery from their plant, known
as the Textile Machine Works (Inc.). A thor-
ough knowledge of the needs of the business en-
abled this company to ■ make important improve-
ments in the construction of the machines and to
produce a great variety of new patented machines
upon which new lines of business were built up. The
millinery braid business, for instance, is only twelve
years old and today nearly all the hats worn by lad-
ies are manufactured on braiding machines, or
rather, are made out of braids produced almost
exclusively on machines built by this establish-
ment. The concern owns over twenty patents cov-
ering new machines or elements thereof, and it
is the recognized headquarters for braiding ma-
chines and auxiliaries used in the manufacture of
dress and millinery trimmings.

In 1900, a large addition to the original plant
was built, extending the main building to a width
of 105 feet, so as to embrace a main erecting floor,
and basement used for storage. A foundry was
also erected in which an average of five thousand
pounds of castings were made daily for the construc-
tion of textile machinery. At that time, the
manufacture of "full-fashioned" knitting-machines
was commenced, an industry also entirely new in
the United States. On this machine, the highest
grade of hosiery is manufactured. It is the ma-
chine invented about sixty years ago in England,
and afterward sent to Chemnitz, Germany, and up-
on it the entire British and German hosiery trade
has been founded. The production of this depart-
ment is about equal to that of the braiding ma-

In 1903, a large factory building. 50 feet by 200
feet, four stories high, was erected, of re-inforced
concrete construction. This building is partially used
by some of the departments of the Textile Ma-
chine Works, but the other floors are occupied by
the Narrow Fabric Company, which is the largest
manufacturer of high-grade shoe laces in the Uni-

ted States. It makes a specialty of silk shoe and
corset laces, using exclusively machines built by the
Textile Machine Works.

Across the public road, on Frill avenue, there is
situated one of the finest factory buildings in Berks
county. It was built for the Berkshire Knitting
Mills, being constructed of dark red-faced shale
bricks with elaborate terra-cotta ornamentations.
It is three stories high, with a basement for yarn
storage. The dimensions of the building are 84
feet wide by 180 feet long. In addition to the main
building, there is a one-story building 80 feet by
150 feet, used for dyeing, boarding and pressing.

These three industries at Wyomissing together
employ nearly eight hundred hands and their com-
bined pay rolls amount to over $350,000 annually.
Another important product of the Textile Ma-
chine Works is machinery for insulating electrical
wires. The principal machines used for this pur-
pose are braiding machines, similar to machines used
by trimming industries, but specially adapted for
handling wires and covering the same with insu-
lating materials. The Textile Machine Works have
succeeded in introducing their machines into all the
impiortant plants which make insulating wires in the
United States and they have won the reputation of
making the best grade of machinery of this kind.
They also manufacture cabling machinery, rubber
covering machines for electrical wires, telephone
cord machines, and a great variety of special ma-
chinery for insulating copper wires and cables
which are used by the electrical industries.

Narrow Fabric Company. — This company was in-
corporated under the laws of Pennsylvania in 1900,
by Ferdinand Thun, Henry K. Janssen and Harry
Feder of New York City, and was started in Read-
ing in the building formerly occupied by the Acme
Bicycle Works at No. 920 Court street. In 1904
the plant was removed to Wyomissing, in order to
secure more room, the plant having outgrown the
limited dimensions of the Court street factory.

The main product consists of shoe laces, and only
the highest grade is made. A large portion of its
product consists of silk laces which are used for
low shoes, but a great many skirt braids are made,
which^ can be found on sale in nearly every retail
store in the country. The factory is a model plant,
inasmuch as the machinery is driven electrically by
direct-connected motors. There is not a belt in
the building, and everything is scrupulously clean.
The company employs much female help, drawn
largely from the surrounding country (West Read-
mg, Sinking Spring and Wernersville). Commodi-
ous wash-rooms and dining-rooms are provided for
the comfort of the employees, the management de-
sirmg to have the equipment of the factory unsur-
passed by any of the textile plants in this' part of
the State. Ploward M. Fry is the superintendent
of the factory, Ferdinand Thun is treasurer of
the company, and Harry Feder is president.

Berkshire Knitting-Mills.^This company was in-
corporated under the laws of Pennsylvania in 1906,



for the purpose of manufacturing the highest class
of "full-fashioned" hosiery (ladies' and men's half-
hose) and it met with marked success immediately.
In April, 1906, Gustav Oberlaender (of Indian-
apoHs, Ind.) became a stockholder and director and
he has since been serving as secretary, treasurer
and general manager.

The building is 84 feet by 170 feet, on Frill ave-
nue, together with a dye and finishing house. It
is equipped with eighty machines, each of which is
30 feet long and makes eighteen stockings at a
time. From 350 to 300 hands are employed, and its
product is approximately five hundred dozen per

The principal product is lisle and mercerized
ladies' hose, which are equal to and sold in direct
competition with the finest goods imported from
Europe. The machines are built by the Textile
Machine Works. This "full-fashioned" hosiery is
superior to the seamless hosiery made in this dis-
trict, inasmuch as it is of finer texture and so made
as to conform to the leg and foot.

PaiM K. Leinbach's Planing Mill (1908) employs
10 men (had been operated previously from 1904
by William A. Walters, and was destroyed by fire) .

Leinbach's Hosiery Mill (1905), 35 men.

erected for the convenience of the people who were
employed in the factories established along the creek,
and the thriving settlement came to be known as
Mohnsville. For fifty years it has been recognized
as a most flourishing settlement, notwithstanding

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 67 of 227)