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 8 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 8 of 227)
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9 Eirdsboro 170

18 Pottstown 147

41 Norristown 72

58 Philadelphia 25


13,0 White Bear 346

19.2 Joanna 624


8.5 Fritztown 469

10 Deep-Cut 570

35 Lancaster 369

45 Columbia 261


15 Womelsdor 453

28 Lebanon 463

54 Harrisburg 318

Iron Ore. — The mining of different ores was
carried on quite extensively from the beginning of
the settlements in Berks county, particularly iron
and copper. The former of these was mined in

connection with the manufacture of charcoal iron.
Rich deposits were found at many places within
the limits of the county, and became a great source
of profit to miners and manufacturers. These de-
posits were mostly in the townships of Cumru, Al-
sace, Oley, Ruscombmanor, Colebrookdale and
Caernarvon, and along the East Penn Valley.

In 1880 the Census Report placed Berks county
third in the list of ore-producing counties in Penn-
sylvania, and seventh in the United States. The
iron ore produced in that year was :352,940 tons and
over one hundred mines were in successful opera-
tion. The character of the ore was primitive and

Copper Ore.- — It is believed that copper ore was
found in the southern section of the county before
1700. Subsequently, a tract of one thousand acres
of land came to be owned and occupied by David
Jones, in 1735, and he mined large quantities of
copper ore, causing the locality to be known from
that time uii' as the "Jones Mines." No st.:i-
tistics have been published relating to it. It was
operated at different times afterward for nearly one
hundred and fifty years.

Clays. — A number of beds of clay have been
found and worked in recent yearb, which are de-
scribed in the several townships where the opera-
tions have been carried on.

Minerals. — Prof. David B. Brunner (prominent
educator of Berks county for many years) tabu-
lated a list of the minerals found in the county and
this list comprises seventy different kinds.

Geology. — A geological survey of Pennsylvania
was made from 1836 to 1857 by the State, and this
immediate section, including Berks county, was
found to contain four principal strata, which
extend through the county from northeast to south-
west. By a published map it appears that the jflaie
formation covered nearly the upper half of the
county, or four-tenths ; the limcstouc, the central
section, or three-tenths; the white sandstone, the
lower central, or one-tenth; and the red sandstone,
the lower, or two-tenths.

When the province of Pennsylvania was granted
to" William Penn by Charles II., King of Great
Britain, in 1681, no township or county organiza-
tion.s existed within its limits. But the arrival of
Pent was the dawn of government, progress and
civilisation, and within a month afterward he
caused three counties to be laid out — Bucks, Chester
and Philadelphia. County government then began,
and county representation in the Provincial As-
sembly was inaugurated.

Durinji^ this period, thousands of immigrants
came into the province and effected permanent set-
tlements ■ and each succeeding 3'ear found them
farther r'lmoved from the county-seats of the coun-
ties named. They proceeded up the courses of
streams .nostly. Very few followed the streams
from their sources to their outlets. Onlv one col-


ony came from New York overland, and this was
nearly fifty years after the settlements had begun,
and the government had been given a fixed charac-
ter. Nearly all landed at Philadelphia; and thence
the great majority proceeded toward the interior
districts and the head-waters of streams. This is
particularly the case with the Schuylkill river and
all its tributaries.

The settlements between the Schuylkill and Del-
aware rivers were numerous before 1700. Every
decade thereafter found them farther northward
from the Wissahickon to the Perkiomen, from the
Perkiomen to the Manatawny, and from the Man-
atawny to the Maiden creek. And so they pro-
■ceeded between the Schuylkill and Susquehanna

Gradually those who had settled in the interior
districts toward the mountains began to feel the
inconvenience and expense incident to their location.
They were compelled to travel, regardless of roads
or weather, to the county-seat far removed from
their settlements, and to haul their goods many
miles to the market before they could realize any
value for the products of their hard manual labor.
Naturally they felt inclined to improve their condi-
tion. A county organization was the first step
toward accomplishing this object, as well to bring
the county-seat into their midst as to create a mar-
ket near by for the disposition of their produce.

But, notwithstanding the numerous settlements
and the large population in the great district of
territory east of the Schuylkill and south of the
Blue Mountain, no additional counties were erected
hefore 1750. It was different to the west of the
Schuylkill. The tide of immigration seems to have
"been greater in that direction. They did not have
the natural facilities to enable them to reach their
county seat in Chester county, as the settlers had
in the districts to the east of them, which lay in
Philadelphia and Bucks counties. In 1739 they
induced the Executive Council to separate them
from Chester county and erect their settlements
into a new county, which they called Lancaster.

During the first quarter of the eighteenth century
many immigrants proceeded to the right into Per-
kiomen Valley along the West Branch, and into
Oley Valley along the Manatawny and its tribu-
tarie's. These were mostly Germans; some were
English, and others Swedes. Other immigrants,
mostly Welsh, proceeded to the left into Conestoga
Valley. The settlements for miles on both sides
of the river were mostly confined to the south of
the succession of hills commonly called South
Mountain. This was especially the case to the right.
In this district of territory the settlements were
then known by the names "Amity," "Oley" and
"Colebrookdale." But to the left, a small settle-
ment of Germans had taken place in the Tulpe-
hocken Valley, the enterprising settlers having come
down the Susquehanna river from New York, and
migrated eastwardly to the head-waters of the Tul-
•pehocken creek ; and another settlement, of English

(commonly called "Friends") and Welsh, had taken
place along the Allegheny and Wyomissing creeks.
These settlements were known by tne names "Tul-
pehocken" and "Robeson." An earher settlement
to the south was called "Caernarvon." Accord-
ingly, during the first quarter of that century, six
distinct settlements in this vicinity had come to be
formed and recognized.

During the second quarter, the way for settle-
ments north of the South Mountain was opened by
the purchase of the territory from the Indians-
The Friends were the first to enter the new dis-
trict to the right of the river. They took up large
tracts of land along the Ontelaunee, called by them
Maiden creek. Many Germans followed imme-
diately afterward. And to the left, many Germans,
Friends, and Welsh were added to the settlements
along the Tulpehocken, Wyomissing and Allegheny

Improvements were carried on with great energy
and success throughout the greats valleys which lay
between the South Mountain and the Kittatinny
Mountain (sometimes called "North," but com-
monly "Blue Ridge"). New districts were formed
to encourage local government and to facilitate
intercourse. To the right they were called Doug-
lass, Exeter, Ruscombmanor, Alsace, Maxatawny,
Maiden-creek, Richmond, - Longswamp and Alle-
mengle; and to the left, Heidelberg, Bern, Cumru,
Bethel and Brecknock. Altogether, till 1750, the
districts were twenty in number. This was the
territorial situation of the settlements in this sec-
tion of the province toward the close of the second
quarter of the eighteenth century.

The settlers had provided themselves with meetr
ing-houses and schools for their religious and secu-
lar education. In this respect they had exhibited
commendable zeal. The German population pre-
dominated; consequently, the preaching and teach-
ing were mostly done in the German language. But
the Friends were not backward. They were prom-
inent in Oley, Exeter, Robeson and Maiden-creek;
and their schools were distinguished for excel-

Manufactures were carried on everywhere; spin-
ning was a common, if not a necessary employ-
ment in every household. Wearing apparel was
home-made; carpenters, masons, blacksmiths and
shoemakers were in every locality; and iron ore
mines and furnaces and forges were in operation
to the north, south, east and west.

The great highways were comparatively few,
the most prominent public road being the Tulpe-
hocken. It extended from the Tulpehocken settle-
ment in the west, in a southeasterly .direction, via
the ford across the Schuylkill (now the site of the
Penn street bridge at Reading) and Pine Iron
Works, to Phila:lelphia. From this ford a prom-
inent road extended to the north, on the eastern
Fide of the river, called ATaiden-creek road ;" and
another to the south, on the western side, called
Schuylkill road.


This point of concentration naturally attracted
attention toward this locality as a practicable place
for a town-site. Elsewhere, for many miles
round about, there was no town, not even a village ;
and there were then apparently no steps toward
founding either. But just as the settlers had labored
for years to establish a county out of the surround-
ing territory, similar efforts were expended for a
town here.


The first efforts for the establishment of a new
county out of the upper sections of Philadelphia
and Lancaster counties, adjoining the Schuylkill,
were made in the latter part of 1738. On Jan.
13th, of that year, the Lieutenant-Governor of the
province laid before the Council two petitions ad-
dressed to him — one from the inhabitants of Prov-
idence, Limerick, etc., in Philadelphia county; and
the other from the inhabitants of the northeast
side of the county of Lancaster (with a map of the
Province of Pennsylvania) — praying that a new
county may be bounded as by the dividing lines
in the said map, for that they labor under great
inconveniences and damage by reason of their
distance from the courts held at Philadelphia and
Lancaster, and for many other reasons in the said
petition mentioned ; which were read and ordered
to lie on the table for further consideration. The
first petition has not been found ; but a copy of
the other is in the possession of the Historical
Society of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia, and it
includes the names of 172 subscribers, of which the
first 61 were Welsh, the others Germans.

In May, 1739, the Lieutenant-Governor addressed
a message to the Assembly, in which he referred
to these petitions, but the Assembly took no action.
The petitioners waited patiently for six years with-
out any progress in the matter ; then they forwarded
another petition, renewing their request for a new
county. It was read to the Council, "and their case
being thought proper to be recommended to the
Assembly, the same was done," in a message sim-
ilar to the first. The Assembly ordered it to lie on
the table. It was signed by John Potts, Henry
Harry, William Bird, Francis Parvin and num-
erous other inhabitants.

On Jan. 14, 1745, a similar petition was pre-
sented, in which the petitioners (the persons named
"in behalf of themselves and a great many other
inhabitants") prayed "that their former petition
might now be considered." It was read and or-
dered to lie on the table. The next day (15th)
it was again read, but referred for further con-
sideration. In two weeks afterward (on the 30th),
another "petition from a considerable number of
inhabitants of Philadelphia and Lancaster counties,
praying to be set off into a new county," was pre-
sented, read and ordered to lie on the table. On
Feb. 28, 1745, sundry persons appeared before the
House and urged the matter of the erection of this

new county, but the matter was dropped for five
years more.

In the mean time settlements had been extended
westwardly and northwestwardly beyond the Sus-
quehanna river. York county was erected on Aug.
19, 1749, and Cumberland county on Jan. 27, 1750,
both out of the westerly part of Lancaster county.
This successful action on the part of the German
settlers west of the Susquehanna awakened a new
interest in behalf of the new county between the
Susquehanna and the Delaware; for, some months
afterward (May 7, 1750), a petition was presented
and read, but again it was not effective. If they
were then disappointed, they were not discouraged.
Their determination prepared them for another
effort. A year afterward, they tried it again.
They caused their petition to be brought up before
the Assembly Aug. 16, 1751, and read a second
time; but it was "referred to the consideration of
the next Assembly."

When the next Assembly met, these earnest
petitioners were on hand. They prepared the way
by presenting still another petition, Feb. 4, 1752,
which represented — ■

That they were inhabitants of Reading-town, upon
the Schuylkill. That they had settled in the said town,
expecting that it would be a great place of trade and
business, and had put themselves to vast expenses in
building and removing thither with their families, several
of whom had left tolerably good plantations; that though
the said town had not above one house in it about two
years ago (1750), yet it now consisted of one hundred
and thirty dwelling-houses, besides forty-one stables and
other out-houses; and that there were one hundred and
sixty families, consisting of three hundred and seventy-
eight persons, settled therein; that they had good reason
to believe that in another summer they would be much
increased, as the chief part of the province that could
be settled was already taken up, and the settling oi the
town would be of great benefit to tradesmen and others
who are not able to purchase tracts of land to live on;
that they humbly conceived it their interest, to the hon-
orable proprietaries as well as to themselves, and that
unless this House would be pleased to erect part of the
counties of Philadelphia, Chester and Lancaster into a
separate county, they should be entirely disappointed
in their expectations, notwithstanding all the cost and
trouble they had been at; they therefore prayed that this
House would take their case into consideration and grant
them relief by erecting such parts of said counties as
they should think most proper into a new county, with
the same privileges that the other counties of this prov-
ince enjoyed; and that the seat of judicature should be
fixed within the said town of Reading.

And on the following day (5th) another petition
was presented, in which they stated that

Although their grievances were laid before the As-
semblies of this Province several years past, and their
petition again renewed at the last sitting of the Assembly,
yet as they find the causes of their complaint still grow-
ing, they humbly beg leave further to represent that
they are settled at a very great distance from the place
of judicature, many of them not less than one hundred
miles, which is a real hardship upon those who are so
unhappy as to be sued for debts, their charges in long
journeys, and sometimes in severe weather, with the
officers' fees, amounting to near as much, if not more,
than the debts; that the hardships on jurymen, consta-


bles, etc., in being^ obliged to attend when required, is
also very great; that now there is a new town laid out
by the Proprietaries' Order, within fifteen perches of the
division line between Philadelphia and Lancaster coun-
ties, and above one hundred and thirty houses built, and
near as many families living therein; it is very easy
for rogues and others to escape justice by crossing the
Schuylkill, which has already been their practice for
some years; that, thotigh their grievances when laid
before the Assembly some years past were not redressed,
because of other weighty affairs being at that time under
consideration, yet the prayer of their petition was thought
reasonable, and the number of petitioners being since
doubled by the increase of the back inhabitants; they
therefore pray that this House would grant relief in the
premises, by erecting them into a separate county,
bounded as to the wisdom of the House shall seem

In pvirsuance of the reference, the petition
was read on the 5th, and referred for the next
day. The 6th arrived and it was read again and
referred. , On the 12th, the same proceedings
were had. And finally, on the 13th, the monotony
of reading and reference was broken; for then
the House, after having considered the petition,
and , also the petitions from Reading, "Resolved,
that the petitioners have leave to bring in a bill
pursuant to the prayer of their petition."

On that day, some of the petitioners presented
themselves before the House and desired leave to
be heard respecting the bounds which they under-
stood the House proposed for a new county in
case it should be granted. Their objections were
heard; and, after answering such questions as
were put to them, they withdrew.

On the 18th, the bill was read the first time
and ordered to lie on the table. On the 19th,
it was read a second time, considered paragraph
by paragraph, and, after some debate, ordered
to be transcribed for a third reading. On the
20th, it was read a third time, and, upon the ques-
tion that the bill do pass it was ordered to be
given the ■ Governor for his concurrence. After
some consideration and amendments, the Act was
finally passed on March 11, 1752. So, after the
lapse of fourteen years, the zeal and persistent
efforts of the petitioners were at last crowned with
success. The Act specified the name of the county
to be "Berks," fixed the boundary lines, authorized
the erection of county buildings for tfte public serv-
ice, and gave the inhabitants the customary powers
of local. government, etc. .

Surveying Commissioners, appointed in the Act
(Edward Scull of Philadelphia county, Benjamin
Lightfoot of Chester county, and Thomas Cook-
son of Lancaster county), made a survey of the
boundary lines of the new county extending them
as far as the Susquehanna river, which was then
the limit of settlements.

The settlers, soon ascertaining that the lines
were run, then extended their settlements rapidly

farther on; which caused complaints to arise, be-
cause the adjoining counties claimed and exer-
cised the right of levying taxes on the inhabi-
tants and their property along the lines.

An Act was therefore passed on February 18,
1769, which authorized three commissioners to run
the lines between Lancaster, Cumberland and Berks
counties on the west, and between Northampton
and Berks counties on the northeast, by actual sur-
vey, and extend them in a northwestwardly course
as far as the lands extended which were purchased
from the Indians by the Proprietaries in 1768.

The territory to the east of the Schuylkill river
was taken from Philadelphia county, and that to
the west from Lancaster and Chester counties. The
estimated area of the county, as at present bounded,
from each of them is as follows:


Philadelphia county 280,000

Lancaster county 238,500

Chester county 7,500


Districts at Erection. — At the time of the
erection of the county there were twenty districts
or townships, and taking the river as the natural
dividing line, they were as follows:

















Boundaries of County. — The county is bound-
ed on. the northwest by Schuylkill county, the Blue
Mountain forming a natural boundary line in 'length
about thirty-six miles; on the northeast by Lehigh
county, the line extending S. 49 degrees E., twenty-
four miles ; on the southeast by Montgomery county
and Chester county, the line along the former ex-
lending S. 33i degrees W., sixteen and one-fifth
miles, and the line along the latter, S., 53 degrees
W., eleven and a half miles; and on the southwest
by Lancaster county and Lebanon county, the entire
line extending N. 49^ degrees W., thirty-nine miles,
along the former county nineteen miles, and along
the latter twenty miles.

The population of the new couniy at the time
of its erection cannot be approximately estimated.
It may have been about twelve thousand.


First Assessment, 1754






Colebrookdale . .





Longswamp ....
Maiden-creek. . .









£ 18
























































Cornelius Treiss

John Webb
Nicholas Isch

Jacob Wiler
Frederick Mayer
Benedic Leeser
Frederick Helwig
Paul Rodarmell
Andrew Hauck
John Hill

Christopher Witman
Abram Kiefer i
Anthony Peck
Leonard Reever

409 6





Brecknock . .


Heidelberg. .
Robeson. . . .






























' 3






Jacob Reeser
Nicholas Wolf
Henry Brandle

'John Morris
Leonard Grow
Ephraim Jackson
Christopher Weiser
Thomas Pratt

70 9



Brunswick. .
Pine Grove.

. |£l0|l8s.
I 3|16

56|Francis Yarnall
29 Nicholas Long

14 14 6



694 9



Alsace. — Tax collector same as Reading.

Caernarvon. — Tax collector same as Union.

Douglass.— Established in 1736, included with Amity.

Brunswick and Pine Grove had not yet been established
as Districts, but the taxable inhabitants there were as-

Assessment made after erection of the county,
tl-e additional districts having been established and recog-
nized in the meantime.

First Taxables. — The following- lists show the
names of the taxables as they appear in a record
recently found. It is believed that the Assessment
was made in the year 1752 or shortly afterward
by direction of the Commissioners for the pin-pose
of levying the necessary tax to carrv on the local
government; but 1754 has been set in 'at the head of
the preceding table as the year when it was probably
prepared, the Commissioners having in the mean-
time _ doubtless taken the assessment made of the
districts in the original counties as a guide until
they were enabled to put the legal machinery in
proper motion. It will be noticed that seven ad-
ditional districts came to be recognized since the

erection of the county (Greenwich, Herefori.1,
Reading, Windsor, Union, Brunswick and Pine-
Grove). This is the first time that the names of
these tax!ables were published, and no attempt was
made to correct the improper spelling in many in-
stances as reported by the several assessors.


Anthony Adam

John Baily

Arnold Bittick

Adam Boose

Geo. Orchard Bomgartner

Andrew Haigh Bug

John Creeker

Christopher Celphack

George Cleanman

Philip Coogler

John Michael Corker

Jacob Cuntz

Adam Drum

Nicholas Emrich

William Farmer

Julius Flack

Casper Foolweiler

George Corner

Jacob Hacker

George Hard

Christian Heffeler

Christian Henrick

Michael Herbester

Fredrick Hower

Jacob Jarkmer

Martin Keffer

John Kesler

Peter Kistner

Jacob Lantz

George Lember

George Lentz

Fredrick Mensel

John Miller

Jacob Backer
Henry Baker
Peter Bingaman
Detrick Bittleman
Dewalt Boom
George Born
John Close
Herman Dehaven
Jacob Dehaven
Mathias Drenkle
Simon Drisebogh
John Eabling
Michael Fether
•Mjichael Fisher'
Adam Garrett

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 8 of 227)