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 83 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 83 of 227)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

the course in 1855, after which he took his special prepara-
tion for his profession, at the Law School of Harvard
University. He was accordingly admitted to the Bar at
Lowell, Mass., and returning home was admitted to prac-
tice in Berks county on Jan. 19, 1860. With the exception
of the six years he spent in Philadelphia, he was from that
time until his death engaged in general legal practice in
Reading. For the first three years he was in partnership
with his brother, and then for about ten years he had an
office of his own in Reading, where he built up a practice
which was a decided tribute to his ability, fidelity and
intelligent attention to the interests of his clients. In 1873
he moved to Philadelphia, where his expectations were
fully realized, his patronage being all that could be de-
sired. During his residence there, in 1874, he was admitted
to the United States Supreme Court, at Washington, D. C,
the motion for which action was made by Hon. Jeremiah
S. Black, of Pennsylvania.

In 1879 Mr. Livingood, feeling that his original field was
more congenial in many ways, returned to Reading, where
he ever after remained. Except for a comparatively brief
connection with the Staten Island Terra Cotta Company,
which he formed upon his return to Reading, he devoted
himself wholly to his profession. He was for a few years
treasurer of the company, which carried on the manufac-
ture of fire brick at Staten Island, N. Y., but disposed of
his interest in order to give all his time to legal work.
As a pleader Mr. Livingood had no superior at the Berks
county Bar. His learning, his accuracy, his thorough
comprehension commanded the attention of his fellow
practitioners whenever he gave utterance to an opinion,
and these, combined with ready eloquence and unrivalled
ease of delivery, won him an interested and sympathetic
audience in the courtroom, no matter which side retained
him. He was a man whose personal character and habits
were above reproach, winning him the esteem and ad-
miration of all his associates, his co-workers as well as
his clients. His private affairs demanded all his attention,
and he neither sought nor held public office, his only
services of such nature being given as solicitor for the
almshouse, which position he held three years. He was,
however, both interested and active in politics, as an ardent
member of the Democratic party, and he was president
of the Keystone Club during the McClellan campaign. His
church connection was with the Presbyterians, and he held
membership in a Masonic lodge at Reading, being past
master of the same. His death carried mourning into
many circles outside his home, for he was universally

■ On Aug. 20, 1863, by the Rev. E. J. Richards, pastor
of the Presbyterian Church, Mr. Livingood married Anna
H. Jameson, of Reading, and to them were born four sons.

namely: (1) James J. is manager of the Spa Spring Clay
and Brick Works, and makes his home in New York City.
He m. Miss Elizabeth Potter, of Woodbridge, N. J., and
they have one son, James J. (2) Albert J. m. Irene
Rhoads, and died at the early age of twenty-seven years,
leaving one son, James S., who is in Philadelphia. (3)
Paul, a druggist, was previously in business in Allen-
town, Pa., but is now in San Francisco, Cal., with the
Owl Drug Company. He m. Laura Smith, who died in
1905, the mother of two children, John and Ruth. (4)
William W., M. D., received his medical education at the
University of Pennsylvania, and is now located in prac-
tice at Reading. He m. Stella Ziegler, daughter of Dr. P.
M. Ziegler, of Reading.

WILLIAM STRONG, associate justice of the Supreme
Court of the United States from 1870 to 1878, was born
at Somers, Conn., May 6, 1808. When sixteen years of age
he entered Yale College, and was graduated in 1828. He
subsequently taught a classical and mathematical school,
occupying his leisure hours in the study of the law, and
so continued until February, 183'2, when he entered the
Law Department of Yale College. In October, 1832, he
was admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court of Con-
necticut; and in November of the same year he opened
a law oifice at Reading, and ^made that place his resi-
dence. In political faith he was a Democrat, and as such
served several terms as a member of the city councils
and as one of the controllers of the public schools. In
1846 he was elected as the representative to Congress from
the Berks county district and re-elected in 1848. In
1850, he declined a re-election and returned to the prac-
tice of his profession. In 1857, he was elected a judge
of the Supreme Cour.t of Pennsylvania for the term of
fifteen years, but he resigned this position Oct. 1, 1868,
to resume' the practice of his profession at Philadelphia.
On Feb. 18, 1870, he was appointed by President Grant
an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United
States, which high position he held till 1878, when he was
retired under the Act of Congress. While a resident
of Reading he was for many years a director of the
Farmers Bank. He was counsel for the Philadelphia
& Reading Railway Company until he was elevated to
the Supreme Bench. In religious faith he was a
Presbyterian, and for many years a ruling elder. For
several years he was one of the vice presidents of the
American Bible Society and also of thfe American Sunday-
school Union; and in 1873 he was elected president of the
American Tract Society. He received in 1867 the hon-
orary degree of Doctor of Laws from Lafayette College,
at Easton, and in 1870 the same honorary diploma was
granted himi by Nassau Hall, Princeton, N. J., and
also by his Alma Mater, Yale College. His remains were
brought to Reading and buried in the Charles Evans

JAMES T. REBER, President of the Reading National
Bank, and one of the city's men of capital, business and
social importance, is a descendant of one of the very old
families of Berks county. Pa. On account of its promi-
nence and its numbers and wide distribution, some of its
members have taken a justifiable pride in looking up its
early records. A well known citizen of Reading and a
member of this family, Morris B. Reber, has with careful
research compiled a volume which bears the title
"Genealogy of the. Reber Family, descended from Johan
Bernhard Reber, 1738." From this interesting work we
quote as follows :

"The idea of preparing a genealogy of the Reber family
was probably suggested by the finding of the original
passport of Johannes Reber still preserved, who was, for
a long time, believed to be the first one of the large
family of Rebers who emigrated to this country. This
passport shows that he came from Langenselbold, Ger-
many, which is situated in Kreiz Hanau, Regierungsbezirk
Cassel, Konigreich Prussia. While visiting in that part of
the country, in 1883, Mr. James T. Reber found re-
corded in the old church book of the Evangelical Church



(Rev. Frederick Hufnagle, Pastor), the names of four
brothers, Johan Bernhard, Hans, Johan Conrad and Mi-
chael Reber.

"This church boolc dates back to the year 1563, so that it
might be possible to obtain the ancestors of these four
brothers since the sixteenth century. However, we have
been satisfied to make a record only from the earliest
emigrant to this country.

"Johan Bernhard Reber, the first of these brothers, is
recorded in this same book as having one son, Johannes,
mentioned below. The Pennsylvania archives, containing
the names of 30,000 early emigrants, mention the arrival
of John Bernhard Reber, from Rotterdam, Holland, on
the 'Snow Two Sisters', landing in Philadelphia and
qualifying Sept. 9, 1738, by swearing allegiance to Great
Britain. We can learn of nothing pertaining to his where-
abouts or life after his arrival in this country. The pass-
port, however, of the son who came to this country in 1742
is still intact.

"Johannes Reber, whose date of birth is unknown, son
of Johan Bernhard, was married Feb. 8, 1736, to Johanna
Magdalena Hahn, daughter of Conrad Hahn. They had
two sons born in Germany, Johannes, Dec. 16, 1736, and
Ludwig Friedrich August, Sept. 11, 1740. According to
his passport, he left his native country for America, April
23, 1742, bringing his family with him, although it is known
that the second son, Ludwig, died on board the ship. Be-
ing a member of William Penn's colony, his first object
was to find a desirable location. Having selected some
acres of land about six miles west of Reading, in Lower
Heidelberg township, at the big bend of the Tulpehocken,
in a beautiful though desolate valley known afterward as
the 'Blue Marsh', he moved thither with his wife and
son, built himself a home which served the double pur-
pose of shelter and protection against the Indians and
wild animals, his only neighbors. This quaint old build-
ing, with its large, square fire-place in the center is still
standing on the farm formerly occupied by Mr. Henry
Shofer, of Reading.

"We find recorded in the Pennsylvania archives, that
John Reber was naturalized May 13, 1768, and also that he,
like many others of the early settlers, was concerned in
numerous disputes regarding the rights of ownership of
their land. During the time that he resided in this locality,
he was blessed with an increase to his family of three
sons who were nam,ed Thomas, Valentine and Peter."

James T, Reber is a descendant of John or Johannes
Reber mentioned above, who was the eldest son of Johan
who emigrated in 3 742, and who continued to live in
Pennsylvania after his father's death. Johan Reber was
twice married and had six children. Two of the brothers,
Peter and Valentine, settled in the west in the neighbor-
hood of Lancaster, Ohio, where numbers of their de-
scendants may be found. The remaining brother, 'Thomas
Reber, was born in Pennsylvania in 1746, was married to
Elizabeth Kerschner, born Nov. 1, 1747, died Dec. 22,
1823, and he left ten children.

James T. Reber, the immediate subject of this sketch,
was born April 29, 1834, at Sinking Spring, Berks Co.,
Pa. He was educated in the public schools and after-
ward engaged in the hardware business for forty years,
from 1853 until 1893, trading as Bard, Reber & Company.

James T. Reber was married to Miss Sarah W. Potteiger,
Oct. 3, 1854. They have had seven children born to them,
of whom Benjamin died aged nine years, the survivors
being: C. Alice, wife of Joseph F. Templin, of Philadel-
phia, Pa.; Valeria E., wife of Isaac L. Deeter, in the Read-
ing railroad service at Reading ; Morris B., for a time en-
gaged in the real estate business branch house, represent-
ing a large New York concern ; Clara R. ; and James C, a
manufacturer of Reading. The mother of these children
died Jan. 31, 1903, aged sixty-seven years.

In addition to the business interests already mentioned,
Mr. Reber has been president of the Reading National
Bank since March 14, 1893, the date of its organization.
As one of the city's most responsible citizens he has been
chosen for offices of responsibility as his leisure time

permitted, serving for three years in the common council
and for three years an unexpired term as prison inspector.
He is a Knight Templar Mason and an Odd Fellow.
Mr. Reber is prominent in the Reformed Church, in which
he has been an elder for many years, and for six years
he has been treasurer of the board of Home Missions.
For more than twenty years he has been a trustee of the
Bethany Orphans' Home; was treasurer of the board of
publication of the Reformed Church of the United States
for over twenty years ; and has been a member of the
board of Home Missions of the Reformed Church for
many years. In 1907 he was elected trustee of Franklin &
Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

GEORGE FREDERICK BAER, President of the Phila-
delphia & Reading Railway Company since 1901, and the
leading attorney at Reading for the thirty years preceding,
vvas born Sept. 26, 1842, in Somerset county. Pa. When
six years old, his parents removed to the county-seat
from a farm situated three miles distant. He received
his preliminary education at the Somerset Institute. When
thirteen years old, he manifested an interest in the print-
ing business, and entering the office of the Somerset
Democrat worked at setting type for upward of two
years. Appreciating then the importance of a better
education, he resumed his studies in an earnest man-
ner at the Somerset Academy ; but he continued there
only a year when he accepted the position of chief clerk
and bookkeeper of the Ashtola Mills, a large lumber
manufacturing establishment located ten miles from Johns-
to\yn, a position he filled for about a year, when his am-
bition for a more thorough education again asserted
itself, and he entered the Sophomore class of Frank-
lin and Marshall College at Lancaster, Pa. This was
in the fall of 1860, but his course there was terminated
by the breaking out of the Civil war. He and his broth-
er Harry then purchased the newspaper mentioned and
they conducted the publication in a successful manner
until the following September, when Harrv enlisted in
the Union army, becoming an officer of Company B,
54th Regt., P. V. I., and he was left in sole charge of
the newspaper. He worked assiduously at the case dur-
ing the daytime, and edited the paper at night, having
been frequently so pressed for time as to be compelled
to compose the editorials and set them up in type while
standing before the case. During this interes'ting per-
iod of his life, he continued a private course of studies
with the expectation of returning to the college which
he had left so abruptly, and it was this course, with the
earnest and persistent exercise of his concentrative pow-
ers before the printer's case, which unwittingly pre-
pared him so thoroughly for the arduous labors of pro-
fessional and business life. He edited and published
the Democrat until August, 1862, when his patriotic spir-
it also asserted itself for suppressing the Rebellion, with
the enemy approaching the border of his own county,
and he raised a company of volunteers from Somerset
and vicinity, which was mustered into the national ser-
vice as Company E, 133d Regt., P. V. I., and of this com-
pany he was commissioned captain, though not yet twen-
ty years old. He served for the period of his enlist-
ment (nine months), and was mustered out of service
with his company on May 26, 1863. For part of the
time, he acted by detail as Adjutant-General of the 2d
Brigade, m Humphrey's Division. His regiment joined
tlie Army of the Potomac at the second battle of Bull
Run, and his company participated in the battles of An-
tietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. Its most
distinguished service was in forming the advance line
of the army in the famous charge on Fredericksburg
Heights, Dec. 13, 1862.

Upon returning home from the armv, Mr Baer select-
ed the law as his profession, and after pursuing a reo-ular
course of legal studies in the office of his brothers Wil-
liam and Herman ("both attornevs at the Somerset Bar)
he was admitted to practice at the April term, 1864 He
began immediately the practice of his profession, and
under the guidance of his brothers for the following

C 9^3.




four years was made thoroughly familiar with the in-
tricacies of the profession in all its branches, more es-
pecially in the department which related to pleading
and the trial of cases. He then removed > to Reading
for the purpose of locating there, having visited the
place several months before, and on Jan. 23, 1868, was
admitted to the Berks county Bar. In a few years af-
ter his location at Reading, his practice began to in-
crease rapidly, and each succeeding year found him
more successful. The trial of cases gradually became
the prominent part of his practice, and within a de-
cade his services were engaged in every important case
in the local courts. This is shown on the records in
the prothonotary's office, and in the published reports
of cases taken to the Supreme court of Pennsylvania.
This ext-ensive and highly remunerative practice before
the courts, local and Supreme, both State and national,
continued for thirty years, when his important services
as solicitor to the Philadelphia & Reading Railway Com-
pany during this period eventually, resulted in his selec-
tion as president of the re-orgaiiized corporation, and
he has been re-elected annually for the past eight years,
evidencing the highly satisfactory character of his ser-
vices in its management. During the same time (since
1901) he has officiated as president of the Central Rail-
road of New Jersey.

On account of his prominent connection with the Phil-
adelphia & Reading Railway Company, Mr. Baer quite
naturally became an important factor in the management
of the Reading Iron Company, the largest industrial
enterprise at Reading next to the shops of the railway
company, and after having advised this great corporation
(whose costly establishments are situated in different
parts of Pennsylvania, and give employment to thousands
of men) during the same period of time while acting as
solicitor of the railway company, he became its president
and directed its extensive business affairs in a most suc-
cessful manner for twelve years. On account of his
labors in connection with the Philadelphia & Reading
and other railroads, he retired as president, but he has
been officiating since as the chairman of its board of
directors. His management resulted in making the cor-
poration one of the largest producers of wrought-iron
pipe of all sizes, bar-iron, sheet-iron, etc., in Pennsyl-
vania, with large trading relations extending all over
the world. He has also been prominently identified with
the management of the Temple Iron Company, the Penn-
sylvania Steel Company, and the Cambria Steel Com-
pany, for a number of years as a director, acting as
president of the first named since Jan.l, 1901.

In 1886, Mr. Baer organized and established the Read-
ing Paper Mills, and since then has operated them in a
most successful manner. The corporation comprises three
plants (one at the foot of Bingaman street, one at the
foot of Court street, Reading, and the third opposite
Reading at the mouth of the Tulpehocken creek), all
■ equipped with the best machinery for the production
of the finest book' and manilla papers, which are in con-
stant demand. They employ three hundred hands and
constitute one of Reading's important industries.

Mr. Baer co-operated with other public-spirited men
of Reading in establishing the Penn National Bank in
1883; the Reading Hospital in 1884; the Reading Trust
Company in 1886 ; the Penn Common in 1887 ; the Wy-
omissing Club in 1890 ; the Reading Free Library in
1898; the Berkshire Club in 1899; and he has continued
to take an active part in the management of all of
them excepting the Penn Bank. His services were par-
ticularly important, in securing Penn Common as the
property of Reading from the possession of the (bounty
of Berks, and he has officiated as president of the Board
of Park Commissioners since its creation by the City
Council. Since 1895, he has served as one of the board
of trustees of the Charles Evans Cemetery.

In 1900, Mr.' Baer erected the first large modern fire-
proof office-building in Reading, situated at the corner of
Court and Church streets, seven stories high, and em-
bracing eighty rooms, adjoining the rear of his office

building on Washington street. The first two floors
are occupied by the business offices of the Reading Iron

During this long period of time, the services of Mr.
Baer as a public speaker were in constant demand. Many
of his more important addresses have been published in
pamphlet form. They display the great scope of his learn-
ing, the forcible and precise character of his rhetoric,
and the boldness of his convictions. His diction is clear;
his manner of speaking straightforward, always extem-
poraneous, void of dramatic flourish, and it commands
the close attention of his audience from start to finish;
and his logic leads to an inevitable conclusion which wins
admiration if not approval. His numerous paper-books
in carrying on litigation before the higher courts, both
State and national, show great care, thorough prepara-
tion, and complete knowledge of the respective cases;
and they evidence in a high degree his superior literary
culture as well as his comprehensive legal attainments.
Among the numerous addresses and lectures delivered
by him, the following may be mentioned:

Land Tenure — Before the Law Department of the Uni-
versity of Pennsylvania, Oct. 25, 1887.

Relation of Tariff to Wages — Before Single Tax So-
ciety of Reading, Jan. 19, 1891.

Address of Welcome — Formation of Pennsylvania Ger-
man Society at Lancaster (of which he was elected the
first president), April 15, 1891.

Influence of Reformed Church on Civil Government
— At dedication of new Theological Seminary of Frank-
lin and Marshall College at Lancaster, May 10, 1894.

Germans in Pennsylvania — Before Teachers' Insti-
tute of Berks county at Reading on Sept. 26, 1895.

Bechstein Germanic Library — At opening of it for
University of Pennsylvania, March 21, 1896 (being first
of four addresses on that occasion).

Appeal to Democrats — Issued in summer of 1896, which
resulted in organization of the "Gold Democrats" and
aided materially in the defeat of the "Silver Democrats"
who controlled the National Convention and nominated
Bryan for President of the United States.

Oration — Unveiling of Soldiers' and Sailors' Monu-
ment at AUentown Oct. 19, 1899.

Work is Worship^— Before the Y. M. C. A., of Read-
ing, on Jan. 1, 1900, and amplified and delivered before
Franklin and Marshall College, on Jan. 16, 1902 (Mr.
Baer having been then, and -is still, president of the
Board of Trustees).

Address — Laying of corner-stone for new Science build-
ing of Franklin and Marshall College, June 13, 1900.

Pennsylvania Theories of Government — Before Penn-
sylvania Society of New York Dec. 12, 1902.

Argument before the Anthracite Coal Strike Commis-
sion — made at Philadelphia April 8, 1904.

Mining of Coal — Last lecture of a popular course of
eighteen lectures delivered at different places in Schuyl-
kill county, at Pottsville, April 8, 1905.

Dedication of Boys'' High School — Reading, Thanks-
giving Day, 1906.

Railroad Legislation — Open letter to Pennsylvania
Legislature, issued Feb. 7, 1907.

Mr. Baer has been prominently identified with Franklin
and Marshall College since 1872, as a member of the
board of trustees, officiating as president of the board
since 1894. During this time he has labored efficiently
for the advancement of the institution and contributed
liberally toward its financial support. In 1886, the Col-
lege conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws,
and the Alumni Association, at its annual meeting in
1895, elected him as its vice-president.

Mr. Baer was brought up as a firm believer in the ster-
ling principles of the Democratic party, and he has shown
himself to be their fearless advocate. Upon locating at
Reading, he interested himself in local politics, and gave
narty welfare much of his time; but he was never am-
bitious to fil' ?ny public office because he was too busily
engaged with nis large legal practice and business enter-
prises. He has at all times been a generous contributor



toward the campaign expenses, and he has exerted a
powerful influence in national politics, as well as in
the county and State.

Immediately after coming to Reading Mr. Baer and
his wife identified themselves with the Second Reform-
ed Church, and they and their children have been de-
voted members. When the church was rebuilt they were
generous contributors. On all special occasions, the au-
ditorium is profusely decorated with costly flowers from
their conservatory, which elicit m'uch praise and admira-

In 1866, Mr. Baer was married to Emily Kimmel, daugh-
ter of John O. Kimmel, attorney at Somerset, and Mary
Parker, his wife. To this union have come five children :
Marion married William N. Appel, an attorney at Lan-
caster; Helen married William Griscom Coxe, of Wil-
mington, Del. ; Mary married Isaac Hiester, an attorney
at Reading; Emily married Frank L. Connard, at Reading
(he dying Jan. 21, 1908) ; Nellie married Heber L. Smith,

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 83 of 227)