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 81 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 81 of 227)
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S w^ 'Hn.?t.r?n ""ZL ^UiV^L ^T'AJ'"'}^^^Z^• ^«^ks ^"d mines form one of the most valuable Indus-

he was eaucatea in the Koyal Military Academy at Wool- j.,- i { <. „ ■ ,.i,-„ „ i- i t> i „ • a a:

,.,;.-v, TT^^io^^ „„t<„..j (-i;„ ■tr„„i:oU .,,™„ „i,A ™ trial factors in this section of Pennsylvania, affording

^nkd thf exoedilTi Amen^cf to ooer^^^ P^"^'^^'^ employment to thousands of hands. Many

rpanfard^^nXef;'XcV%^"p\'"sacola?n"abo^^^^^^^^^^ ul °^ *e houses occupied by the employees are owned by

m'arried the daughter of Maj. Robert Farmar, the English t'^^.^Zt'^.T JllJ'^fL'L'^lI'l? \\^''T:.t

governor of West Florida, came north in 1783, and

by the men are owned by the company. After the death

telling his commission became a citizen of the United °L!l-!I^?:°°'^e the concern was organ^^^^^^^^

His property came into the hand of his son-

companies, the E. & G. Brooke Iron Company and the

States. ±±ia yiuuciLV (.:ciiiic liiLU Liic ildiiu ui ma ovjii- rr p /-• -d i t J /-■ r "ii_ ' i

in-law, Matthew Brooke. Matthew and Elizabeth ^- ^ G. Brooke Land Company, none of the property,

(Barde) Brooke had a family of five children, two however changing hands. George Brooke became pres-

H=.,rcrV,t/r« H^ino- vn,in<r T1nP ntV,Pr<: wprp •^hptln. "^ent of both Companies, _with George W. Harrison as

daughters dying young. The others were : Elizabeth
who became the wife of the Hon. Hiester Clymer of
Reading; Edward, deceased; and George

treasurer and Richard T. Leaf as secretary.

Mr. Brooke has been identified with numerous other

George Brooke was born July 36, f818, at Birdsboro, ["terests in Berks county and also in other localities his
.A 1,.,° „ooo„^ .,11 wjo y,f^ ;„ ^■d^^ ^u^^ M» oi.„ v,n= , busmess affairs covering a wide range, and he has like-

and has passed all his life in that place. He also has a

wise found time for active participation in the public

residence in Philadelphia, where he sometimes passes ^'f '"."""."^e xor acuve parocipauon m me puuin;
a few winter months. He was educated in the schools of and social life of his sec ion. He and his brother were
Reading, Lititz and West Chester, Pa., and afterward among the original projectors of the First National Bank
attended at Burlington, N. J., finishing his education at °f Reading, of which he has been president these many
a private school in Philadelphia. .He ranked well in y?ars ; he was one of the founders of the Pennsylvania
English, Latin and French, but showed a marked profi- Tjust Company, another, substantial financial institution
ciency in mathematics, drawing, mineralogy and mechan-' ?/„.,^^?ding, of which he is president; is a director of the
ics. The close of his school days marked his return to Wilmington & Northern Railway Company and the Schuyl-
Birdsboro, and he at once plunged into the iron business, kill Navigation Company, treasurer of the Keystone Coal
learning every detail of the immense concern ruled over Company of West Virginia, and president of the Birds-
by his father. On April 1, 1837, he and his brother boro Steel Foundry & Machine Company., The last named
Edward succeeded to their father's interests in the iron company in 1885-then known as the Diamond Drill and
industry at that point, the works at that time comprising Machine, Company-was moved to Birdsboro from Potts-
two forges— one the "refinery," where the pig-iron was Y^le, bemg located m the old plant of the Birdsboro
converted into "anchovies" (blooms hammered down into Iron Fomidry Company, whose buddings were sold to
a bar at one end for convenience in handling), and the E & G. Brooke in 1871, standing idle from that time un-
"chafery," where they were heated and hammered into til their occupation by the present company. From a
various kinds of bar-iron. At that time the entire out- small concern whose business was the manufacture of
put amounted to only two hundred tons annually. Under diamond drills it has grown to its present size. It is
the firm name of E. & G. Brooke, the brothers developed now one of the largest machine shops m _ eastern Penn-
the property, continuing to do business together until the sylvania, comprising machine shops and iron and steel
death of Edward Brooke, Dec. 35, 1878. They built foundries The steel foundry was added in 1903 and, is
the Edward Brooke residence and a large flour mill, the one of the largest and most modern of steel casting
latter begun in 1844 and completed in 1845. In the fall plants. All manner of steel casting, ifor both private
of 1844, while it was in course of construction, a Henry and government work, is turned out. The company
Clay meeting was held in the mill, there being no hall manufacture all kinds of machinery, taking contracts ,for
here at the time large enough for the purpose. In 1879 the building of rolling-mills of. the largest sizes, ^besides
and again in 1883 the mill was remodeled, being supplied building a numher of special machines. They also still
with modern machinery and steam-power, and mean- make the celebrated diamond drills, which are sold , in
time had been greatly enlarged, the present structure all parts of the world. When these works are running
being the third to occupy the site. Following the erec- full they employ about eight hundred men.
tion of the mill the brothers extended the iron busi- Mr. Brooke also was the originator of the borough
neas. in 1846 putting up a charcoal furnace on the site water supply. Through the E. & G. Brooke Iron Com-
of the old Hampton forge, in order to use their wood pany large reservoirs were built about two miles south
in the manufacture of pig-iron instead of operating the of the town up in the hills and an abundant water sup-
forges. In 1848 t^ey commenced to build the rolling-mill ply of the purest kind was obtained from the mountain
and nail factory, which were completed and put in opera- streams and brought to the borough in two large water
tion the following year. In 1853 No. 1 Anthracite Fur- mains. For the better conducting of its business this
nace was built, and two more furnaces were erected in water department of the Iron Company was in 1900 turn-
1870 and 1873, respectively, the capacity of the plant be- ed into a separate company, known as the Birdsboro
ing increased steadily until the annual product now Water Company. The town of Birdsboro is surely most
amounts to more than one hundred thousand tons of fortunate in having such a pure and abundant supply



of water. The pressure is so great that a stream of
water can be thrown over the tallest buildings.

Thus it will be seen that Mr. Brooke's interests, though
covering so wide a range, are all more or less closely
allied, his connection and familiarity with the various
side industries concerned in the successful operation of
his main business facilitating its conduct greatly.

In 1837 the Brookes opened a store in the old mansion,
soon afterward removing to a regular store-room which
they erected at the canal lock, and in 1875 they erected
a fine store property, which was burned out when near-
ly ready for business. It was immediately rebuilt, and
not only affords spacious store room but also contains
the large auditorium known as Brooke Hall, located in
the third story of the building. George Brooke was also
one of the founders of the First National Bank of Birds-
boro, of which he served as president for a time,^ be-
ing succeeded by his son Edward. Mr. Brooke is a
member of the Manufacturers Club, and also of the
Union League, the Sons of the Revolution and the So-
ciety of Colonial Wars. He is also affiliated with the
Masonic fraternity.

When the borough of Birdsboro was incorporated Ed-
ward Brooke was elected burgess, and George Brooke
has served repeatedly in the town council, of which
he was president for many years. He has also given
efficient service on the borough school board, taking
especial interest in the question of public education, and
in this connection may also be mentioned his services
on the board of directors of the library opened and
conducted under the auspices of St. Michael's Episco-
pal Church. He was influential in the establishment
of that church, which grew out of a mission estab-
lished at Birdsboro by St. Gabriel's Church, Douglass-
ville, and was one of its first vestrymen, still serving
as such. In politics he is an ardent Republican.

Mr. Brooke is a courteous, affable gentleman, a type
of the highest American citizenship, active and useful
in every enterprise with which he has been connected,
and serving his fellow-men while forwarding his own
interests. He has traveled extensively in Europe, and
has visited .every State in the Union. He has always
been fond of outdoor life, and in his early days was pro-
ficient in all kinds of sport. Though over ninety years
of age he "virtually oversees all of his vast business in-
terests, finds time to assist in the advising of other op-
erations and maintains complete control of the details
incident to the management of his large private for-

In 1862 Mr. Brooke married Mary Baldwin Irwin,
daughter of John H. Irwin, and granddaughter of Capt.
Stephen Baldwin, a ship owner and merchant of Phil-
adelphia. Mrs. Brooke's father was a grandson of Fred-
erick Augustus Muhlenberg, first Speaker of the House
of Representatives. Two sons were born to Mr. and
Mrs. Brooke, Edward and George. The family are
all identified with the Episcopal Church. They occupy
one_ of the most magnificent homes in this beautiful
section of Berks county, Mr. Brooke having erected suit-
able residences for himself and the members of his fam-
ily at a spot overlooking Birdsboro and the surround-
ing country, which has been beautified as well as devel-
oped principally through his enterprise and that of other
members of the Brooke family. Mr. Brooke's ninety-
years "have been filled with varying experiences, but with-
al have been favored with a due measure of sunshine,
the brightest ray of which to him must be the rever-
ence and affection of his townspeople, which is almost

EDWARD BROOKE was until his death the senior part-
ner of the firm of E. & G. Brooke, mentioned at length
in the sketch of George Brooke. He was born Feb.
28, 1816,. at Birdsboro, son of Matthew Brooke, and like
other members of his family was all his life identified
with the advancement of its best interests.

Highly educated, his scientific attainments played a
large part in the success of the various enterprises with

which he was connected, and his ability and ambition
rounded out a nature unusually complete in intellectual
force and practical knowledge. Industry, perseverance
and faith in his ventures made his eiiergetic course one
of remarkable success. His progressive mind and far-
seeing judgment enabled him to enter confidently into
many fields where men of less strength would have hes-
itated to venture, yet his prudence in management and
care in looking after details kept his undertakings al-
ways wjthin conservative bounds and made him trusted
among all his business associates.

Incidental to his own interests, and beyond them, Mr.
Brooke was always active in promoting the welfare of
his home town, and many of the most_ efficient measures
for its prosperity in his day were originated or support-
ed by him. The Wilmington & Reading railroad, which
passes through Birdsboro, was constructed through his
efforts, and he was the first president of that road. He
was one of the original projectors of the First National
Bank of Reading, and served as a director until his
death. By nature kindly and genial, honorable and up-
right in all his dealings, he was a man not only res-
pected but beloved by all with whom he came in con-
tact. His death, at Birdsboro, Dec. 35, 1878, was the
occasion for general mourning throughout the commu-
nity in which his entire hfe had been spent.

Mr. Brooke married Annie M. Clymer, daughter of
Daniel R. Clymer. of Reading, and four children sur-
vived him : Annie Clymer (who married Blair Lee,
of Washington, D. C, and died in 1903), Robert Ed-
ward, George Clymer and Frederick Hiester.

DAVID B. BRUNNER, prominent educator and con-
gressman of Berks county, was born March 7, 1835, in
Amity township. His father was John Brunner, a car-
penter in that township, and a descendant of Peter Brun-
ner, a native of the Palatinate, who emigrated to this
country before 1736, settling in Douglass township, Berks
county, about 1765. During his boyhood he attended the
common schools in the township till the age of twelve
years, when he learned the trade of carpenter under his
father. At this occupation he continued until the age of
nineteen years, attending school during the winter, study-
ing higher branches for a time, and from 1852 to 1855, he
taught public schools. During that time he prepared him-
self for college at the Freeland Seminary. In 1856 he en-
tered Dickinson College and took a complete classical
course, graduating in 1860. He then opened a private
school at Amityville, and conducted it successfully in 1860
and 1861. With this preparation he located at Reading in
1862, having purchased the Reading Classical Academy,
which had been founded by the Rev. William A. Good in
1854. He conducted this institution with increasing suc-
cess year after year till 1869, when he was elected county
superintendent of common schools of Berks county, and
at the end of his term of three years was re-elected with-
out opposition. These circumstances indicate the deep
and favorable impression which he had made upon the
people. Upon his first election, he continued the classical
academy with the aid of assistants ; but upon his re-
election he closed it so as to be able to devote his entire
attention to the schools of the county. At the end of his
second term as county superintendent, he re-opened the
institution under the name of Reading Scientific Academy.
This change was made to signify that the study of the
sciences was an important part of the course of education
under him. Besides the daily study of scientific branches,
frequent lectures were delivered by him to the scholars,
his subjects illustrated by philosophical experiments, etc.,
with the aid of instruments manufactured by himself.

In 1875 and 1876, he conducted a business college at
Reading; and in 1880 and 1881 he acted as citv superin-
tendent of the common schools in Reading. From 1889
to 1893 he represented Berks county in Congress. For
a number of years Prof. Brunner manifested a strong
interest in the history of the Indians of Berks county.
He collected many relics, and narrated the results of his
investigations for the Reading Societv of Natural Science.






His essays were published in 1881. In the course of his
labors, he made many wood-cuts to show the size, form,
and appearance of Indian relics, such as arrow and spear-
heads, axes, knives, hammers, plates, pottery, beads, shells,
pestles, mortars, ornaments, etc., for which he received
much praise. He published an interesting book on this
subject in 1881.

Prof. Brunner was a thorough mineralogist. He in-
vestigated the entire county in respect to its minerals
with great success, and prepared a catalogue of the dif-
ferent varieties. The birds of the county also received
his earnest attention, and he collected and mounted a
number of fine specimens. His collection included 100 of
the rarest specimens. He also gave much attention to
microscopy, using in his researches a fine, large micro-
scope, with lenses magnifying from 10 diameters to 1,300.
The intervals in his school teaching were largely devoted
to the production of scientific apparatus, and to the addition
of natural curiosities; and with the aid of a lapidary's
mill, he polished a large variety of the best and most beau-
tiful minerals of the county which he mounted upon
glass slides for microscopic examinations. His extensive
cabinet included a thousand mounted specimens. Two
degrees. Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts, were con-
ferred upon him by Dickinson College, the former at the
time of his graduation, and the latter in 1863. In 1877,
he published an elementary work on English grammar,
and in 1883 issued a second and revised edition. Many
thousand copies were sold and used throughout Berks
county and in adjoining counties.

In 1861 Prof. Brunner married Amanda L. Rhoads,
daughter of Abraham Rhoads, of Amity township, who
was a descendant of one of the earliest settlers in the
county. They had five children — Daniel Edwin, Elizabeth
(m. Edwin L. Moser), Edgar Alfred, Mary, and Henry

ROBERT M. BARR was born at Lancaster, Pa., and
was admitted to the Bar of Berks county on Jan. 3, 1831,
about which time he moved to Reading. He acquired an
extensive practice and was recognized as a superior law-
yer. A man of fine appearance, he was possessed of a high
order of eloquence. He represented Berks county in the
Assembly for the year 1841, and in 1845 re(Seived the ap-
pointment of State reporter from Governor Shunk, the
office having been created in the year named. The pre-
scribed term of office was five years. -He died whilst
filling his appointment, having compiled and published the
first ten State reports commonly known as "Barr's Re-
ports." His friend, J. Pringle Jones, Esq. (who subse-
quently filled the office of president judge of Berks county),
completed the compilation of the cases adjudicated during
his term and published them in two volumes, commonly
known as "Jones' Reports." He died at Reading, Dec.
25, 1849, aged forty-seven years.

Mr. Barr married a daughter of Dr. Holmes, of Lan-
caster, Pa., and left a daughter.

HON. JAMES K. GETZ, former mayor of the city of
Reading, Pa., and an influential citizen and leading busi-
ness man, president of the Reading Shale Brick Company
for the first ten years of its existence — 1896 to 1906 —
and a member of the firm of H. S. Getz's Sons, pro-
prietors of the Reading Steam Marble Works, was born
in Berks county, Pa., Jan. 19, 1848, son of Hiram S. and
Sarah B. (Kistler) Getz.

James K. Getz comes of German ancestry. John Getz,
the founder of the family in America, came from
Rheinpfalz, Germany, and settled on a grant of land
in Lancaster county, Pa., received from King George.
His son, Nicholas, who became the great-grandfather of
James K., followed farming in Berks county, married and
reared his children, one of these being Jacob Getz, our
subject's grandfather. The latter' was born in Berks
county, and followed an agricultural life, becoming one
of the prosperous and substantial citizens of the com-
munity in which he lived. He married Hannah, youngest
daughter of John Soder, who served as captain in the

Continental army, during the Revolutionary War. He was
a stanch Democrat in his political views, and his de-
scendants have been identified with the same party.

Hiram S. Getz, father of James K. Getz, was born at
Sunbury, Pa., in 1833, but was reared in Berks county,
the family having returned there. He was educated in
the schools of Reading. From 1857 to 1870 he was en-
gaged in a wholesale grocery business at Reading, and
in 1874 he formed a partnership with his son, James K.
Getz, and they began the operation of the Steam Marble
Works under the firm name of H. S. Getz & Co. This
continued until his death in 1886, when his son Hiram K
received by will his half interest. The business is now
conducted under the firm name of H. S. Getz's Sons.

From 1854 until 1857 Hiram S. Getz was Recorder of
Deeds for Berks county; was Registrar of Wills from
1869 to 1873; -and for a number of years was a valued
member of the City Council. He died in September,
1886. He was survived by his wife but a few months.
Mr. Getz married Sarah B. Kistler, daughter of John S.
Kistler, who was the eldest son of Samuel Kistler by his
second wife Caroline Brobst — Samuel Kistler was the
fourth son of George Kistler, the emigrant ancestor.
George Kistler came from Switzerland to this country
and moved from Montgomery county to Lehigh county,
Pa., in 1735. The children of Hiram S. Getz and wife
were: Amelia, James K. ; Sarah; John; William; Emma;
Charles K. ; Hiram K., and Laura.

James K. Getz, who occupies a conspicuous place in the
business world of Reading, was born in Albany town-
ship, and was educated in the public schools of Read-
ing. When his father was elected county recorder in
1853, the family moved into Reading, and thus Mr. Getz
had more advantages than if he had grown to manhood in
the country. It was his intention to enter college, and
he spent a season in Philadelphia in preparation, but his
ambition was not realized. His father had on his hands
a large wholesale grocery business just at a time when he
was left almost without clerks on account of their enlist-
ing for the Civil war in 1863, and it became necessary
for James K. to enter the store. In 1869, on attaining
his majority, his father sold the business to him and
Jonathan Grim, and they maintained that partnership,
trading as Getz & Grim, for five years, when it was
dissolved, and Mr. Getz entered into partnership, in
1874, with his father, forming the firm of H. S. Getz &
Co., as proprietors of the Reading Steam Marble Works,
of which he is still the joint owner with his brother,
Hiram K. In 1896 the Reading Shale Brick Company
was organized, and Mr. Getz became its president. The
business has proved one of great success, the market
extending to a number of other States, large sales being
realized in New York. The different business concerns
which have found favor 'with Mr. Getz have been those
of the utmost merit, and their conduct has been along
lines of constant expansion but with methods only of the
most honorable character.

Since young manhood Mr. Getz has been more or
less interested in politics, and has always been thoroughly
informed concerning public issues. Like his father and
grandfather, he is an out and out Democrat, believing
firmly in the old time principles of this great party. That
he is looked upon as a man in whom confidence can be
placed for his personal qualities, has been frequently
shown when he has been elected to offices of responsi-
bility by the votes of both parties. Such was the case
in 1880 when he was elected councilman from the Fifth
ward, Reading. He "scored a great victory, being returned
in a district which had formerly given good majorities
to Republican candidates. He continued a member of
the council two years and served the second year of that
time as its president. In 1885 Mr. Getz was the popular
choice for mayor, and he served through the term of two
years with complete success, his administration adding to
his former laurels.

In 1868 Mr. Getz was married to Mary Agnes Jones,
daughter of John H. Jones, a prominent farmer, and



granddaughter of Samuel Jones. She comes of distin-
guished ancestry and Revolutionary valor. Her great-
great-grandfather, Rev. Thomas Jones, was a Baptist
clergyman, a native of Wales, who took up land in
Cuniru township, in 1735. Thomas Jones, Jr. (father of
Samuel Jones), born in Cumru township in 1742, was an
organizer of the patriotic society known as the "As-
sociators.'' He was a soldier in the Revolutionary war,
and died in Heidelberg township, Berks county, in March,
1800. He was a member of the first Constitutional Con-

Fraternally Mr. Getz is pronranent in Masonic organiza-
tions. He is a member of Lodge No. 62, F. & A. M. ;
Reading Chapter No. 152, R. A. M.; Creigh Council No.
16, R. & S. M.; De Molay Commandery, No. 9, K. T.; and
the Philadelphia Consistory, 32d degree, A. A. S. R. ; and
Rajah Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S.

On many occasions Mr. Getz has been importuned to
accept a directorship in some bank or other large finan-
cial body, but such honors and emoluments he has
declined, in all cases stating that he preferred to
devote his whole time, outside his public and social duties,
to the development of the Reading Shale Brick Company
and the Reading Steam Marble Works ; but in the early
part of 1906 he became a member of the directorate of
the Pennsylvania Trust Company.

JOHN SPAYD, second President Judge of Berks county,
was born in Dauphin county. Pa., in January, 1764. He
acquired a classical education, read law and was admitted

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 81 of 227)