Morton L. (Morton Luther) Montgomery.

Historical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families, comp. by Morton L. Montgomery .. online

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Online LibraryMorton L. (Morton Luther) MontgomeryHistorical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families, comp. by Morton L. Montgomery .. → online text (page 72 of 227)
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Hancock (1870) 16 Shamrock (1859) 26

Halfway House (1800) . . 12 Shoemakersville (1833) . . 140

Kempton (1874) 22 Virginville (1874) 33

Klinesville (1825) 10 Walnut-town B

Krurasvillel (1885) 18 Weilersville (1812) 28

Loesport (1840) 131 Wessnersville (1858) 24

Lyons (1860) 95 Windsor Castle (1856) 6

Maple (jrove 12

First Settlers. — The territory embraced in this
section was not released by the Indians to the heirs
of William Penn until 1732, and on that account
there was no general influx of immigrants before
that time. Immediately afterward, a number of
Friends entered and took up large tracts of land
in localities now included in Ontelaunee and Maid-
en-creek townships. About 1752, nearly the entire
area of these two townships was owned and occu-
pied by Friends. The names of the more promi-
nent families were Meredith, Parvin, Penrose,
Lightfoot, Starr, Wily and Willits; and some of
the descendants are still in this vicinity. These
settlers went there by way of the Schuylkill Valley.

About the same time, a considerable number of
immigrants of different nationalities, but mostly
Germans, entered the section by way of the Mana-
tawny creek and the Oley hills, and also by way
of the West Branch of the Perkiomen creek
and the Hereford hills, and they took up
great quantities of land which reached from
one end of the section to the other; indeed,
they were so numerous and energetic that by 1740,
within the short period of eight years, they had es-
tablished six townships, embracing the entire sec-
tion. There are numerous descendants of the first
settlers in the several townships, notably the Mer-
kels, Rothermels, Greenawalds, Dunkels, Heffners,
Kutzes, Belongs, Hottensteins, Levans, Wanners,
Kemps, Steins, Sells, Winks, Sharadins, Schaeffers,
Zimmermans, Fenstermachers, Longs, Mertzes'
Luckenbills, Mayberrys, Shappels, Grims, Smiths,
Wessners, Dietrichs and Kistlers, as will be readily
seen by comparing the taxables of 1909 with the
lists of the taxables published in Chapter I.

^Formerly Smithsvillc.

Indian Atrocities. — Along the Blue Mountain
in Albany, in 1755 and 1756, Indian cruelties were
inflicted upon the settlers during the progress of
the French and Indian war. [See Chapter VIII. ]

Blue Rocks. — There is a natural curiosity lo-
cated in Albany township, near the Greenwich town-
ship line, about three miles northwest from Len-
hartsville, which has attracted much local attention
from the time of the first settlements in the county
in that vicinity. It consists of a large collection
of rocks tumbled together irregularly, covering an
area of thirty acres, which have a bluish appear-
ance. They are surrounded by trees and vegeta-
tion, and visitors can distinctly hear the roll-
ing and splashing of waters underneath, though
invisible. The rocks can be seen from the State
road, and the origin of the peculiar formation has
excited much comment.

Iron Ore was discovered in Richmond, Maxa-
tawny and Longswamp townships before the erec-
tion of the county in 1752. Active and successful
operations in mining ore and manufacturing iron
were carried on here for over an hundred years ;
but the industries were not so numerous as in the
Manatawny Section. The Moselem Forge was one
of the early iron industries.

Highways. — This section is intersected by many
roads in all the townships. Three prominent high-
ways are worthy of particular mention : Centre
Turnpike, from Reading via Leesport to Hamburg
and beyond the county line, which was abandoned
as a toll-road in 1885, after having been maintained
for over seventy years; the Kutztown Road, from
the Centre Turnpike at Berkley, via the Halfway
House and Kutztown to Allentown ; and the "State
Road," across the upper section, from Hamburg
via Lenhartsville to the Lehigh county line, being
a continuation of the highway from Harrisburg and
Jonestown, in Lebanon county, to Millersburg and
Hamburg, in Berks county.

Canal. — The Schuylkill canal was constructed
in 1822 along the river from Leesport to the county
line, twelve miles in length, and operated success-
fully for fifty years with numerous boats owned
by private individuals.

R-'ULROAD. — Five railroads have been constructed
in this section :

The East Pciiii, in 18.57, from Temple northeast-
wardly to the Lehigh county line, a distance of
twenty miles.

The Kiifz:tozvn Branch, in 1870, from Topton,
about five miles in length, on the bed of the pro-
posed line from Allentown to Auburn, by way of
A'irginville, \A"indsor Castle, and Hamburg, partly
constructed about that time.

The Red Lion Branch of the Catasauqua & Fog-
elsville railroad, about 1880, two miles in length, in
Longswamp, for shipping iron ore.

The Schuylkill and Lehigh Railroad (formerly
Berks county), in 1871, from near Tuckerton to
the Lehigh county line along the Ontelaunee creek,
a distance of eighteen miles.



The Pennsylvania Schuylkill Valley Railroad in
1885, from near Tuckerton to Hamburg, along the
Schuylkill' river, a distance of twelve miles.

Early Iron WoEKS.^-The Moselem Forge, in
Richmond, the Brobst Forge, in Albany, the Dela-
plank (Union) Furnace, in Windsor, and the
Mary Ann Furnace in Longswamp, were operated
for nearly a hundred years from the time of the


Leesport Furnace, established in Ontelaunee at
Leesport in 1853, and carried on for about forty
years. The plant was sold in 1899 and it has been
carried on since by the Leesport Furnace- Com-

Blandon Rolling Mill was built in Maiden-
creek along the East Penn railroad in 1867. It
has been successfully operated since 1892 by Simon
Seyfert. Annual product, 33,000 tons; hands em-
ployed, 335.

Topton Furnace, erected at Topton in 1871,
and in operation since then, excepting several inter-
vals. The Empire Iron & Steel Company has
owned and operated it since 1900. Production, 500
tons of iron weekly.

Shoemakersville Clay Works, established in
Perry, near Shoemakersville, in 1897, for manufac-
turing glazed sewer-pipe, and the Schuylkill Valley
Clay Manufacturing Company conducted opera-
tions there for ten years.

Brick Company. — The Clay Works were pur-
chased in 1908 by A. A. Gery and W. A. Gery,
who organized the Glen-Gery Brick & Cement
Company, for the manufacture of vitrified brick
for building and paving purposes, and established
a plant with a daily capacity of 60,000.

Inlaid Tile Company. — In 1907, the Reading
Cement Inlaid Tile Company was incorporated by
a Greek from Patras, in Greece, named Constan-
tinn H. Geannakopoulos, and he established a small
plant in Reading at the southwest corner of Seventh
and Chestnut streets. In June, 1908, it was trans-
ferred to Shoemakersville, where a place was se-
cured with a capacity of 300 square yards. The
company manufactures all styles, colors and designs,
and employs six hands. The machinery was im-
ported. It is the only enterprise of the kind in the
United States.

Cement Works.— A large cement works was
established in Richmond township in 1899 by the
Reading Cement Company (composed of Reading
capitalists), at a cost of $350,000. The property
comprised 100 acres, in which there is a large de-
posit of superior limestone, and the plant was
equipped with machinery. It continued in opera-
tion for several years and employed from eighty-
five to one hundred and thirty men and produced
daily 450 barrels of cement. It was succeeded by
the Vindex Portland Cement Company, which im-
proved the plant and carried on operations several


years with a daily capacity of 600 barrels. In 1908
the plant was leased to the Vindex Corporation,
under the control of Charles Matcham, of Allen-
town, an experienced manufacturer of cement.

Mr. Matcham also organized the AHentown Port-
land Cement Company and secured a large adjoin-
ing tract to the north and west with intention of
' establishing a costly, modern plant with a daily
capacity of 3,500 barrels.

Pumping Station, established near the mouth of
the Maiden creek in Ontelaunee, seven miles from
Reading, in 1889, for increasing the water supply
of Reading. Daily capacity, 30,000,000 gallons. A
large and costly filtration plant is being established
at East Berkley by the Reading Water Board to
be operated in connection with the Pumping Sta-

Keystone State Normal School, established
in 1866, ii;i Maxatawny, adjoining Kutztown. The
buildings are large and commodious apd the man-
agement has been very successful. [See Kutztown,
Chapter XL]

Clay Works. — A number of clay works have
been operated in Longswamp at and near Mertz-
town, during the past thirty years. Ochre has been
produced in large quantities since 1883; and gra-
phite since 1880.

Iron Ore Mines. — Twenty-five years ago over
one hundred iron ore mines were carried on in
Longswamp, Maxatawny and Richmond town-
ships, yielding very large quantities of ore, but
nearly all have been shut down. Only five are now
in operation, with 100 hands and a production of
4,000 tons of hematite ore monthtly.

Gery Country Home. — In 1904, A. A. Gery, of
Reading, erected a costly country home in Onte-
launee, along the Maiden creek, on the old Wily
Mill property, which has become known as Glen-

Topton Orphans' Home, established in 1897 by
the Reading Conference of the Lutneran Minister-
ium of Pennsylvania, on a commanding site in
Longswamp, near Topton. The property comprises
115 acres. The Home is a three-story brick, com-
modious structure, with modern improvements.
Inmates, boys and girls, 90; all denominations.

Kutztown Fair Ground, established in 1870,
in Maxatawny, adjoining Kutztown, on the south,
and the local Agricultural Society held exhibitions
there for about thirty years. In 1905 a new place
was established on the north side of Kutztown,
with a superior half-mile track, and the first ex-
hibition was held there in October.

Leesport Bane. — A number of enterprising
business men of Leesport and vicinity org'anized
a bank with a capital of $35,000, for the accom-
modation of the neighborhood, and named it the
First National Bank of Leesport. The following
directors were elected as the first board and the
bank was opened for business in July, 1909 : A.



F. Mogel, president; S. M. Deck, cashier; Charles
Dunkel, D. H. Reiser, Jacob Bagenstose, Charles
O. Collins, James A. Reiser, O. A. Keim, James
H. Wagner, James R. Keim, M. S. Rentschler,
Joseph Naftzinger, Sassaman Schappell, Lloyd
Miller, James R. Weisner.

Electric Plant. — William F. Krick established
an electric plant at Sinking Spring in 1903 for sup-
plying light to the residents of that town and also
at Wyomissing and Shillington and extended wires
in and to the places named. George F. Wertz, of
Wernersville, established a similar plant at that
place in 1904.


The Tulpehocken Section comprises thirteen
townships. The time of their settlement and erec-
tion is set forth in the following table :


Settled Erected

Bern 1733 1738

Bethel 1733 1739

Heidelberg 1733 1734

Tulpehocken 1723 1739


Taken from Erected

Bern, Upper Bern 1789

Tulpehocken, Upper Tulpehocken 1820

Penn Bern and Bern, Upper . . . 1841

Heidelberg, Lower Heidelberg 1842

Centre Bern and Bern, Upper . . . 1843

Marion Tulpehocken 1S43

Heidelberg, North Heidelberg 1845

Jefferson Tulpehocken 1851

Tilden Bern, Upper 1887

Derivation of Names. — The derivation of the
names was as follows :

Bern, from the name of a canton in Switzerland,
whence some of the early settlers emigrated.

Bethel, from the name of a Moravian meeting-
house in this vicinity, showing the religious nature
and influence of the inhabitants.

Heidelberg, from the name of a distinguished
place in the southern portion of Germany, whence
a large number of the earliest settlers emigrated.

Tulpehocken, from an Indian word, Tulpewihaki,
which means a land of turtles.

Bern, Upper, from its location, being the upper
portion of the township from which it was taken.

Tulpehocken, Upper, named for the same reason.

Penn, from the name of William Penn, who had
been the proprietor of all the land in Berks county.

Heidelberg, Lower, from its location, being the
lower, or eastern portion of the township in its
division ; and

Heidelberg, North, from its location.

Centre, from its location.

Marion, from the name of a distinguished gen-
eral, Francis Marion, in the United States Army.

Jefferson, from the name of the first Democratic
President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson,
indicating the political opinion of the petitioners.

Tilden, from the name of the unsuccessful candi-
date for President of the United States on the Dem-

ocratic ticket in 1876, Samuel J. Tilden, who was
supposed by the Democrats to have been elected,
but counted out. This was a firm conviction of
the Democrats in this township.

Boroughs.- — -The following boroughs were estab-
lished in this section:

Womelsdorf, in 1833.
Bernville, in 1851.
Centreport, in 1884.
West Leesport, in 1901.

Towns. — The following towns are situated in
this section :

Name Houses

Bern (18S0) 18

Blue Marsh (1776) 18

Brownsville (1864) 5

Fritztown (1813) 50

Freystown (1830) 13

Lorahl (1884) 10

MjUersburg (1814) 76

Mohrsville Station (I860).. 45
Mt. Aetna2 (1810) 55

Name Houses

OboldS (1835) 50

Rehrersburg (1818) 76

Eobesonia (1855) 190

Schaefferstown (1836) 21

Shartlesville (1860) 50

Stouchsburg (1833) 83

Strausstolwn (1840) 84

Wernersville (1855) 200

West Hamburg (1860) 12

First Settlers. — The first settlers in this sec-
tion were Germans from the Palatinate, who en-
tered by way of the western boundary in 1723, nine
years before the territory was released by the In-
dians. They ha(i_landed_at New York in 1712, and
gone up the Hudson river about an hundred miles,
but having been grossly deceived and imposed upon
there, they migrated by way of the Susquehanna
river and the Swatara creek to the headwaters of
the Tulpehocken creek and settled in the vicinity of
what is now Womelsdorf and Stouchsburg. The
colony comprised thirty-three families, and among
them were the Rieths, Fitlers, Scharfs, Walborns,
Schaeffers, Zerbes, Fischers, Lashes and An-
spachs. And five years later, there were other
German families who migrated from New York, by
the same course, to the Tulpehocken settlement ;
among them being the Hains, Schneiders, Loewen-
guths, Noeckers, Werners, Schmidts, and Katter-
mans. Numerous descendants of these families are
still in this section.

In 1729 Conrad Weiser and his family also mi-
grated from New York to the Tulpehocken settle-
ment and his presence was a great help to the
Penns in pacifying the Indians and preventing them
from slaughtering the settlers. He was an accom-
plished interpreter and a very useful man in var-
ious waj'S. He took an active part in all local af-
fairs, and he was chiefly instrumental in securing
the erection of Berks county in 1752 out of the
townships which bad heen previously established
to the east and west of the Schuylkill river.

The pressure of immigrating German families
was so great that they entered the territory in spite
of the protest of the Indians. The Proprietaries
apologized and made various excuses and finally in
1732 secured a release from them. By that time,
numerous settlers were in every part of the section ;
and before 1740, four townships had been estab-
lished by the court at Lancaster, which embraced the
entire section.

Highways. — This section is intersected by num-
erous roads, three of them being especially promi-

^Formcrly State Hill. ''Wohleberstown. "Hetrichstown.






nent: the Berks and Dauphin Turnpike, from
Reading, via Sinking Spring and Wornelsdorf, to
Lebanon (occupying the old "Tulpehocken Road"
to Wornelsdorf, which had been laid out in 1737,
and subsequently extended northwestwardly, via
Rehrersburg, to Pine Grove) ;' the State Road,
across the upper portion from Lebanon, via Millers-
burg, Rehrersburg, Strausstown and Shartlesville,
to Hamburg; and the Bernville Road, from Read-
ing, via State Hill and Bernville, to Millersburg.

Canal. — The Union canal was constructed in
1828 along the Tulpehocken creek in this section,
via Bernville and Wornelsdorf, to the Lebanon
county line, a distance of about twenty-five miles,
and operated very successfully for thirty years,
with prominent store-houses at the two places men-

Railroads. — The Lebanon Valley Railroad was
constructed in 1857 in this section from Sinking
Spring westward to the Lebanon county line at
Newmanstown, a distance of ten miles.

The Reading Railway, from the Schuylkill bridge
above Tuckerton, to the Schuylkill county line,
along the river, a distance of thirteen miles.

Trolley Line. — A trolley line of street railway
was constructed in 1894 from Sinking Spring to
Wornelsdorf on the turnpikfe, a distance of nine


Charming Forge, established in 1749, in Tulpe-
hocken (afterward Marion) township, along the
Tulpehocken creek, three miles north of Wornels-
dorf; operated by George Ege from 1774 to 1824;
and by Andrew Taylor and his sons William and
B. Franklin from 1855 to 1885. A part of the
forge site, including the water-power, was pur-
chased by the borough of Wornelsdorf in 1906, and
an electric plant was established for supplying the
inhabitants with electric light on the streets and in
their dwellings.

Robesonia Furnace, established in Heidelberg
on Spring creek in 1794 by George Ege and known
for fifty years as the "Reading Furnace," during
which time charcoal iron was manufactured. The
^•rst anthracite furnace was erected in 1845. Since
then it has been much enlarged and improved by
the Robesonia Iron Company. Daily capacity, 160
tons; men employed, 200.

Hamburg Vitrified Brick Company, established
in Tilden, above West Hamburg, near the Reading
railway, in 1891, as a common brick plant and car-
ried on as such until 1896, when the Mack Broth-
ers of Philadelphia purchased it and began the
manufacture of vitrified brick. They have oper-
ated it since then, running nine kilns, producing
10,000,000 bricks annually, and employing 75 men.

Paper-Mills. — Henry Van Reed started a pa-
per-mill near the mouth of the Cacoosing creek,
about 1825, and it continued in the family in a direct
line from him, through his son, Charles, and his
grandson, Henry Z., to his great-grandson

Charles L., for a period of over seventy years. The
plant was then sold, remodeled, and operated since
by different parties.

The Tulfehocken Paper Mill is a branch of the
Reading Paper Mills, started by Jacob Bushong, in
1856, on the site of the old Kissinger grist-mill at
the mouth of the Tulpehocken creek, and operated
by him for twenty years.

Dauberville Ice Plant. — Henry Ahrens and
John R. Gonser established a large ice plant in 1888
in the lower eastern portion of Centre township on
the Irish creek near its outlet into the Schuylkill.
The dam covers thirty acres and the storage-house
has a capacity of 25,000 tons. It was destroyed
by fire in 1893 and immediately rebuilt.

Health Resorts. — Lower Heidelberg township
has tecome famous for its costly and successful
resorts, established on the South Mountain for the
restoration and preservation of health. In the or-
der of priority they are as follows :

Wenrich's Grand View, first established by Dr.
Charles F. Leisenring, in 1849. Greatly improved
and operated by Dr. R. D. Wenrich since 1897.

The Wdlter Sanitarium, established by Dr. Rob-
ert Walter in 1877, and enlarged several times, and
become within .thirty years, under his management,
one of the greatest resorts of the kind in the coun-

Preston's Sunnyside, established by Dr. James S.
Preston, in 1880, and operated by his son James
since 1883.

Grosch's Sunset House, by Francis Grosch, in
1876, and subsequently enlarged. His son-in-law,
Dr. J. D. Moyer, has conducted the place since 1892.

Hassler's Highland House, started in 1890 by
James Schaeffer, and after he operated it for some
years, purchased by Richard Hassler, who has car-
ried it on since.

Bethany Orphans' Home, established in 1867
in Heidelberg, one mile south of Womelsdorf, by
the German Reformed Church. It was destroyed
by fire in 1881, and immediately rebuilt. The man-
agement by the Board of Trustees has been very
successful. In 1909 there were 155 orphans in the
Home; thirteen from Berks county.

Wernersville State Asylum, established in
1894, in Lower Heidelberg, west of Wernersville.
This is a very large and successful institution. [See
Chapter VII.]

House of Good Shepherd, first established at
Fourth and Pine streets, Reading, in 1889, by the
Roman Catholic Church, for the care of young
girls ; and transferred to Glenside in Bern town-
ship, where a superior structure was erected, in
1900, on a commanding site along the river opposite
North Reading. Inmates in 1909 were 180 girls;
47 Magdalens, and 30 Sisters. The property in-
cludes four acres of ground.

Berkshire Country Club. — The Berkshire
Country Club owes its inception to Alexander
,F. Smith, John J. Kutz and a few other gentle-



men, who in 1897 obtained some golf clubs and
balls, and essayed to play "the royal game of golf"
on a six-hole course which John Reid, a profes-
sional golfer from Atlantic City, laid out on
grounds at Carsonia, where the present park is
located. The Club was formally incorporated on
May 10, 1899, by Wilson Ferguson, Wilham Ker-
per Stevens, Herbert R. Green, F. C. Smink,
George F. Baer, G. Howard Bright, M. Brayton
McKnight, J. Lancaster Repplier, John M. Archer,
William Seyfert and E. L. Parvin.

Owing to numerous streams and marshes, it was
found that the grounds at Carsonia were ill adapted
for the purposes of a country club, and in 1899 ar-
rangements were made with the Reading Suburban
Real Estate Company to occupy vacant land sur-
rounding the suburban town of Wyoraissing, where
a nine-hole course, 2,159 yards in length, was laid
out by Alexander F. Smith (architect), and where
the Club flourished until the end of 1903. The house
built by John B. Mull along the Wyomissing boule-
vard was occupied as a clubhouse.

In May, 1902, the Club purchased from George F.
Baer sixty acres of farming land, situated in Bern
township, near Reading, between the Schuylkill
river (just north of Hain's Looks) and the Bernville
road. A nine-hole golf course, 3,090 yards long,
abounding in interesting features, was laid out by
John Reid, as well as five tennis courts. In addi-
tion, there is a swimming pavilion, with bathhouses,
and shooting grounds and traps, also a fine base-ball
diamond and grounds. A spacious clubhouse, equip-
ped with all the essential comforts and conveniences,
lockers, shower-baths, etc., including furnished
rooms for members, occupies a commanding site
(110 feet above the river level) within 2,500 feet
of the Schuylkill. It is surrounded by broad porches,
and affords an extended view of the grounds and
of the charming scenery of the surrounding country.
It is located upon an ideal spot. The reception hall,
parlor and dining rooms are large and splendidly
furnished, and well adapted for luncheons, teas, din-
ners, dances and all social purposes. There is also a
first-class cafe in charge of an experienced steward.
Ample stable and shed accommodations are provided
for horses, vehicles and automobiles. A private
road has been constructed from the Bernville road
direct to the clubhouse. The club automobile con-
veys members from the clubhouse to the Schuylkill
avenue cars at Windsor street. Many members are
conveyed by launch or boat from Hain's Locks. The
grounds and clubhouse were formally opened to the
members on June 13, 1903, and instantly met with
approval. In May, 1909, there were 360 members.

The Silver Cup, presented by George F. Baer,
Esq., for the Women's Golf Championship, was won
in 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, and 1906 by Miss EHza-
beth Smink; in 1907 by Miss Margaret Moss, and
in 1908 by Mrs. Caroline Derr Archer ; and the Sil-
ver Cup presented by F. C. Smink, for the Men's
Golf Championship, was won in 1902, 1905 and 1907
by Alexander F. Smith ; in 1903 and 1904 by A. Ellis

Barron and in 1906 and 1908 by T. laeger Snyder.

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 72 of 227)