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 92 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 92 of 227)
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publican. When the war broke out he was one of the
first to enlist, and he was a member of one of the first
companies to leave Reading for the front.

George W. Hawk attended public school at Read-
ing, as well as the pay schools, and his first em-
ployment was in his father's factory. He learned the
trade of dyeing, which he followed for thirteen years, and
in 1897 engaged in the manufacture of hosiery on Court
street, with four machines. In this industry Mr. Hawk has
been immensely successful, now owning two factories, em-
ploying 400 hands. Besides, he is a member of the firm of
the Hawk Knitting Company, organized by him in 1901,
which also manufactures hosiery. Mr. Hawk manufac-
tures high and medium grades of goods, which find a
ready market in the Western States, also having a large
Eastern trade. He employs two traveling salesmen to
represent his interests throughout the United States.

In political matters Mr. Hawk is a Republican, and he is
fraternally connected with the P. O. S. of A. Mr. Hawk
was married, in 1887, to Miss Emma Weidner, and two
children have been born to this union : Estella and Warren.
Mr. and Mrs. Hawk are members of the Reformed Church,
and are very highly esteemed in the community.

JOHN S. THOMPSON is recognized as one of Jihe
most progressive business men and public-spirited citizens
of Reading, to whose material and civic advancement he
has contributed through his business associations and ser-
vice in official capacity, and he enjoys the most unequivocal
popularity in the city which has been his home from boy-
hood days. He is a scion of one of the well-known fam-
ilies of the State, and has held positions of distinctive pub-
lic trust in Reading, including those of postmaster and
m'emiber of the city council and school board.

Mr. Thompson was born in Jonestown, Lebanon county,
Pa., Feb. 15, 1857, and is a son of Nicholas and Harriet
(Ingham) Thompson, the former of whom was born in
Ireland, and the latter in Pennsylvania, being the daughter
of the late Samuel Ingham, who was a representative busi-
ness man and influential citizen, of Myerstown, Lebanon
county, where he was a successful contractor and builder,
and where he was also engaged in the undertaking business.
Nicholas Thompson came to this country with his parents
when an infant. For a number of years he held the
position of superintendent of the Union Canal. Later he
became superintendent of the sheet-iron mill in this city,
having been an ironmaster by trade. He was a man of
much ability and was a citizen who ever commanded the
high regard of his fellowmen. Both he and his wife con-
tinued to reside in Reading until their deaths, and John
b. Thompson was their only child.

John S. Thompson secured his early educational disci-
pline in the public schools of Lebanon and Berks counties,
and supplemented this by a special course in Brunner &
f-arr s Business College, in Reading. He initiated his busi-
ness career by taking a position in the offices of the Union
Canal Company, of which his father was then superintend-
ent, and he was thus engaged for a period of three years.
He then entered upon an apprenticeship at the trade of



BIOGRAPHICAL



371



paper making, to which he continued to devote his atten-
tion for five years, after which he was engaged for a
time in the butchering business in company with his father-
in-law. In 1888 Mr. Thompson was appointed assistant
postmaster of Reading under Calvin Goodman, and he
retained this incumbency until 1891. At the conclusion of
this service he became a special agent for the Reading Fire
Insurance Company, with whom he was identified 'for four
years, at the expiration of which time, in 1895, President
Cleveland conferred upon ,him the appointment of post-
master at Reading, an office for w'hich he was specially well
equipped, by reason of his marked executive ability and
his former service in the postoffice. He gave a most ex-
cellent administration and gained the unqualified commend-
ation of the postal department and of the local public.
He retired from office in 1899 and resumed his connection
with the Reading Fire Insurance Company. One year
later, however, there came a demand for his services in
the office which he now holds, that of secretary and treas-
urer of the Colonial Trust Company, of Reading. The
company was organized in 1900 and he has held his present
office from the initiation of its business, which has grown
to be one of wide scope and importance. The company
has erected a magnificent nine-story office building, the
finest business block in the city, and in the same are
located its finely appointed counting room and offices. The
administrative ability and personal popularity of Mr.
Thompson have been recognized factors in promoting the
up-building of the business of the company, which is in-
corporated with a capital stock of $250,000.

In politics Mr. Thompson is a stalwart supporter of
the cause of the Democratic party, and for four years he
represented the' Sixth ward in the city council, simultan-
eously serving as a member of the board of education. He
is affiliated with the Masonic fraternity, in which he has
attained to the Knight Templar degree, holding member-
ship in the local lodge, chapter and commandery. He is
also identified with the Independent Order of Odd Fel-
lows, and he and his wife hold membership in the First
Baptist Chiirdh.

On March 9, 1878, Mr. Thompson married-Miss Sarah A.
Rader, daughter of the late George Rader, a representative
business man of Reading, and to this union have been
born two sons : George N., who is teller in the offices of
th« Colonial Trust Company, of Reading; and John P.,
who is an expert chemist, being employed as .such in the
Laboratories of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, Al-
toona, Pennsylvania.

HENRY KARL JANSSEN, manufacturer of textile ma-
chinery at Wyomissing, was born at Barmen, Germany,
Feb. 8, 1866, and was educated in the local schools there,
attending until 1881. He then learned the trade of a ma-
chinist in all its branches, serving the regular apprentice-
ship of three years. Afterward he followed the customary
life of a journeyman mechanic for four years, working in
various machine shops in the industrial centers of the
Rhine Province, for the purpose of becoming an expert
machinist. With this experience he determined to emigrate
to America, and in 1888 he went to New York City. He
located in Brooklyn, entering the employ of the Castle
Braid Company, and after working a while as all-around
machinist became, on account of his proficiency, the fore-
man of the place, and he filled this position until 1892. In
that year he moved to Reading and formed a partnership
with Ferdinand Thun, a German friend from Barmen,'
for manufacturing textile machinery. In the organization
of the Textile Machine Works in 1900, Mr. Janssen became
its president, and he has filled^ that position to the present
time. He also was one of the incorporators and has served
as vice-president of the Berkshire Knitting Mills and the
Narrow Fabric Company since their organization, having
assisted in establishing all of these industries at Wyo-
missing.

In the building up of Wyomissing, and its erection as a
borough in 1906, Mr. Janssen took a very active part, and
at the first election of the borough officials he was chosen
one of the councilmen. In 1897 he erected a home on a lot



of ground adjoining the Textile Works, and this was one
of the first dwellings in the borough. It is situated on
the comer of Mory avenue and Van Reed road.

In 1890 Mr. Janssen married Minnie Raeker, daughter
of Henry Raeker, of Lippspringe, Westphalia, "by whom he
had four children : Harry, Minnie, Helen and Elsie (who
died young). <

Albert Janssen, father of Henry Karl, was born in 1834,
along the lower Rhine on the borders of Holland. He
learned the business of a book publisher and upon locating
in Barmen when he was twenty-six years old, carried on
that business, and continued it until his decease in 1878. He
married Helen Benner, daughter of Jacob Benner, of Hesse
Nassau, and by her he had six children : Albert and Helen,
both of whom died when thirty years old ; Henry Karl ;
Ernest, a dyer in Barmen; Johannes, a wholesale merchant
at Barmen, and a member of the city council ; and Paul,
a provision merchant and hotel proprietor at Offenbach, in
Hesse.

EDWIN FOSTER SMITH, civil engineer, in the employ
of the Philadelphia & Reading Railway Company since the
year 1862, was born in Catawissa, Pa., Aug. 18, 1841, son of
James Foster Smith and Ellen Eliza Cadwalader, his wife.
Through his father he comes of Scotch-Irish ancestors,
and on his mother's side is of Welsh descent. His earlier
education was acquired at Reading, where he graduated
from the high school with the class of 1858. He entered
Union College, at Schenectady, N. Y., and graduated with
the degree of A. B., later receiving from Union University
the degree of Civil Engineer.

In October, 1862, Mr. Smi'th entered the service of the
Philadelphia & Reading Railway Company in the engineer-
ing department and remained in that employ until the year
1865, engaged on construction work and the locating and
building of new branch lines of railroad. . During this
period, also, he served two short term enlistments in the
Civil war, one under the State of Pennsylvania in 1862 and
one in the service of the United States in Company F, 26th
Pennsylvania Emergency Volunteers, in 1863.

In the fall of 1865 he entered the service of the Schuylkill
Navigation Company, of which he subsequently became the
chief engineer and general manager. In 1872 there was
added the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal in Pennsyl-
vania and Maryland.

In the year 1891 Mr. Smith, who had for some years been
the chief assistant engineer of the Philadelphia & Reading
Railway Company, was called to take charge of the con-
struction of the Reading terminal railway and station in
the city of Philadelphia, one of the first of the large ter-
minals in this country, and one that has attracted much
attention, not only in itself and its appurtenances, but as
changing the business conditions of a large surrounding
district of the city. He has remained with the railway com-
pany up to the present time in the practice of his profes-
sion, in charge of hydraulic, steam and electrical plants,
and given much of his time as consulting engineer to the
development and installation of electrical plants operated
by water-power. One of these is at Sewalls Falls, on the
Merrimac river, New Hampshire, where the dam and struc-
tures for creating the power were designed by Mr. Smith
as early as the year 1892, and is one of the earliest examples
of the modern system of distribution of power by elec-
tricity. In the course of an extended practice of his pro-
fession Mr. Smith has served as consulting engineer for
many interests involving the solution of problems of hy-
draulic engineering, designing and building a large part
of the extensive water works system of the city of Reading ;
serving on the board of engineers appointed by the aque-
duct commissioners of the city of New York in 1901, to
report on questions of engineering construction in relation
to the new Croton dam and Jerome Park reservoir; in the
investigation of the conditions affecting the Castlewood
dam, in Colorado; a general review of the subject of the
location and plans for the Nicaragua ship canal, and many
others. He is a member of the American Society of Civil
Engineers, the Franklin Institute, and the Engineers' Club
of Philadelphia.



373



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA



In 1867 Mr. Smith was married to Nancy King McCurdy,
daughter of Dr. J. K. McCurdy and EUzabeth, his wife,
of Reading, by whom he has three children. Mrs. Smith's
father was a prominent druggist in Reading for many
years, having his store on South Fifth street, near Penn ;
he took an active interest in educational affairs at Reading,
officiating as the first president of the board of school
controllers from 1865 to 1867; and he and his family were
devoted members of the First Presbyterian Church for
many years. He died in 1873.

Mr. Smith's father, James Foster Smith, was bom at
Pittsburg, Pa., on Christmas Day, 1813. He was descended
from Scotch-Irish parentage, his grandparents having emi-
grated to Pennsylvania about 1783 and settled at Pittsburg.
In 1822 his parents removed to Blairsville, Pa., and there
he received his preliminary education. At the age of twelve
years he was obliged to support himself, and he devoted
his leisure time to study, inclining toward mathematics and
civil engineering. When eighteen years old he entered the
service of the Portage Railway Company as rodman ; when
twenty-three he became assistant engineer of the Cata-
wissa Railway Company; and when twenty-four, the chief
engineer of the Morris Canal Company, designing and
building during the years 1837 and 1838 the tide-lock at
the outlet of the canal in Jersey City, which is still in use.
In 1839 and 1840 he was in the service of the Catawissa
Railway Company, having designed the celebrated high
trestle bridges on its line; and in 1841 and 1842 in the
service of the New York & Erie Railway Company. In
1843 Mr. Smith became the superintendent of the lower
division of the Schuylkill Navigation Company and served
as such until 1845, when he was appointed the resident en-
gineer, taking charge of the reconstruction of the canal
between Philadelphia and Reading and finishing it in 1846.
In 1850 he was elected the chief engineer, and removed
with his family to Reading. He filled this responsible
position until 1875, when he relinquished the more active
duties and acted as consulting engineer until his retirement
in 1885.

During his engineering career Mr. Smith designed and
constructed many important hydraulic works, including
many of the dams on the Schuylkill river, the Columbia
dam across the Susquehanna river, 6,843 feet long; the
coal shipping landings at Schuylkill Haven ; and the exten-
sive wharves, with automatic coal-transferring machinery,
at Greenwich Point, on the Delaware river.

Mr. Smith resided forty-eight years at Reading, took
much interest in local afifairs, and was a devoted member
of the First Presbyterian Church, having served as deacon,
elder and trustee for many years. He died Jan, 31, 1898,
aged eightj'-four years.

EDWARD H. FILBERT. The successful government
of a large city like Reading, Pa., requires the best efforts
of substantial, reliable and public-spirited men, and one
of these is found in Edward H. Filbert, City Treasurer.

The Filbert family is an old one in Berks county.-
Gabriel Filbert, grandfather of Edward H., was born at
Womelsdorf, where he was engaged in farming.

Adam Filbert, son of Gabriel, born in Womelsdorf,
moved to Reading, Pa., April ], 1880, and there died Jan.
5. 1902, aged sixty-six years. He was a miller by trade.
He married Catherine clover, a member of one of the old-
est families in Berks county, and daughter of Henry Mover,
a cabinet-maker and undertaker. They had six children!
five of whom survive, namely: Annie, v/'ife of Lee L. Hart-
zel, with the Yocum cigar factory ; Charles F., a coal dealer
at Reading; William H., a druggist at Saginaw, Mich.;
Ralph, a printer ; and Edward H., of Reading. Adam Filbert,
the father, was a member of Williamson Lodge. No 307, f'
& A. M. ; Excelsior Chapter, No. 237; R. A. M., and' Golden
Rule Lodge, I. O, 0. F.

Edward H. Filbert was born at Womelsdorf, Berks
county, Jan. 15, 1871, on the old homestead, and after com-
pleting his schooling in the City of Reading, he spent one
year in Bright's hardware store as a clerk. He next be-
came connected with the Reading Hardware Works, after
which he was clerk in the freight department of the Read-



ing Railroad for six years, going then into the employ of
the United States Express Company, as cashier, and re-
maining about six years in that connection. He was
appointed by City Treasurer Hoffman Nov. 16, 1899, to fill
out an unexpired term as assistant treasurer, and when
Treasurer Tyson assumed control, April 7, 1902, he was re-
tained in a position for which he had shown eminent qual-
ifications. He was elected City Treasurer Feb. IS, 1908,
and inaugurated April 6, 1908.

Mr. Filbert was married June 3, 1890, to Miss Clara L.
Steiger, daughter of John and Henrietta Steiger, of Read-
ing. She died May 5, 1905, survived by two children, Lee
Edward and Marguerite.

Mr. Filbert is a member of the following organizations :
Chandler Lodge, No. 227, F. & A. M. ; Reading Lodge of
Perfection, 14°, A. A. S. R. ; Philadelphia Consistory
32°, A. A. S. R.; Excelsior Chapter, No. 237, R. A. M.;
Reading Commandery, No. 42, K. T. ; Rajah Temple, A. A.
O. N. M. S. ; Reading Lodge. No. 115, B. P. O. E. ; Reading
Aerie, No. 66, F. O. E. ; Washington Camp, No. 163, P. O.
S. of A.; Progressive Lodge, No. 470, I. O. O. F. ; Wyo-
missing Council, No. 1584, R. A.; Liberty Fire Company,
No. 5 ; Schuylkill Camping Club ; Ninety-eight Social
Union ; Oley Valley Rod & Gun Club ; Temple Club ; and
North Eastern Democratic Association. In politics he is
a Democrat, and he is secretary of the 15th Ward Demo-
cratic Club of Reading.

Charles F. Filbert, son of Adam and Catherine (Moy-
er) Filbert, and brother of Edward H., was born in
Womelsdorf, Pa., in 1858. He attended the public schools
there. In 1880 he engaged in the coal business at the cor-
ner of Greenwich and Moss streets, Reading, and remained
there seventeen years, meeting with good success in his
undertaking, and building up a good patronage. The next
five years were spent at No. 1141 Moss street, after which
in 1900 he moved to No. 730 Oley, his present location.
He sells all kinds of anthracite coal, and keeps two wagons
running all the time.

On Oct. 22, 1885, Mr. Filbert married Mary Hans, daugh-
ter of Richard V. and Martha E. (Shultz) Hans. They
have one daughter, Martha, who married Walter M. Deem,
and has two children, Mary and Richard. In religious faith
they are Lutherans. J\Ir. Filbert is a popular member of
the Patriotic Order Sons of America, the Knights of the
Golden Eagle and the Hampden Fire Company.

SAMUEL H. GRING. Among the representative busi-
ness men of Reading, who have been identified with the
large interests of the city, may be mentioned Mr. Samuel
H. Gring, a prominent lumberman, contractor and financier
Mr. Grmg was born in Curaru township, Berks Co Pa
Oct. 7, 1832, son of David and Mary (Hill) Gring and
grandson of David Gring.

The great-grandfather, Samuel, son of Johannes (who
emigrated m 1743, and who founded the family in Amer-
ica), came from Holland, and settled in Cumrii township,
where he became an extensive land-owner and died a
wealthy man. His son, David, was born in Cumru town-
ship, but m early life located at Tulpehocken creek, where
he took up a tract of land, built mills, and like his father
became very prosperous. He died at the age of eio-htv-
eight years m February, 1847. By his first wife, a Miss
VValsmilh, he had eight children as follows: John, who
was a minister of the Reformed Church; William, a miller-
Davicl, father of Samuel H.; Daniel, a minister of
the Reformed Church; Susan, who died unmarried; Mary
m. to a i\Ir. Lichty; Elizabeth, m. to a Mr. Troxel- and
Kate, m. to a Mr. Ringler.

David Gring followed in the footsteps of his father
and grandfather, and at the time of his death, Jan 26,
1890, aged eighty-three years, ten months, seventeen days'
he was the owner of several farms and a good mill. He
was a Whig, and later became a strong Republican was
prominent in the affairs of his dav, and served as captain
and major in the State militia for eleven years. He mar-
ried Mary Hill, who died May 18, 1885, at the age of eighty-
one years, seven months, twelve days. To this union °were
born twelve children, eight of whom grew to maturity, as



BIOGRAPHICAL



373



follows: David, a miller; Daniel (engaged in farming);
Samuel H.; Annie (m. George Zerr) ; Mary (m. Joshua
Grill) ; John (a miller and tanner) ; Charles (proprietor of
a hotel) ; and Franklin (a farmer). The family were all
members of the Reformed Church.

Samuel H. Gring was educated in the schools of Spring
township and remained on the home farm until twenty-five
years of age, working about the home mill, driving a team,
and turning his hand to any employment that presented it-
self. He then went to East Cocalico township, near Denver,
where he purchased a mill and remained until 1871, selling
out in this year and removing to Newville, Cumberland
county. Here he engaged in a lumber business, buying a
tract of timber land which he converted into lumber for
railroad purposes, and in 1876 he removed to H^hlenberg,
locating in his present home two years later. This house
was built about 1734, and at the time Mr. Gring purchased it
it was the property of Dr. Muhlenberg. His next lumber
enterprise was back of Lewistown, where he purchased a
tract of pine and oak timber. He then went to Mount Rock,
Cumberland county, and afterward in turn to a tract near
Mechanicsburg, to near the Loop in Perry county, Pa., to
Bloomfield, Perry county (where he operated two saw
mills), to Turley Valley (where he operated three mills),
to Huntingdon county. Pa. (where he carried on operations
for three years), and to Bedford county. Pa., until 1886,
in which year he purchased 10,000 acres of land, build-
ing a railroad sixteen miles long to get lumber out, this
road being known as the Diamond Valley Railroad. In
1890 he returned to Perry county and leased seventy-one
tracts of timber land, surveyed the line to New German-
town, a distance of thirty miles, and in September of that
year grading was commenced, ties put down and rails laid.
By Jan. 36th of the following year, sixteen miles of rail-
road had been built, and the following year the road was
built to Blaine, and in 1892 completed from Newport to
New Germantown. Mr. Gring's son, David Gring, is the
president of both of these roads, including the one from
Duncannon to Bloomfield, which is known as the Perry
County Railway, and father and son deal extensively in
lumber in North Carolina, Virginia and throughout the
South, also being the owners of twenty-five water com-
panies.

On Dec. 14, 1856, Mr. Samuel H. Gring married Cath-
erine Hoyer, daughter of Simon Hoyer, a bridge-builder.
She died June 8, 1900, aged sixty-three years. Nine chil-
dren were born to this union : David, of Newport, m.
Emma Caldwell, and has five children — Bruce, Rodney,
Herbert, Wilber and Elizabeth; Kate m. Daniel B. Snyder,
and had nine children — Sue S., Evan G., Lucy M., Charles
L., Lester B. and four that died young; Elizabeth m. John
Leitheiser, and has two children — Hattie and Grace; Sam-
uel, deceased, m. Annie Fisher, and has one child — Bertha;
Charles died at the age of twenty years; Susan died at
the age of four years ; and three died in infancy. In re-
ligious belief Mr. Gring and his family are members of
the Grace (Alsace) Reformed Church of Reading, he being
a member of the finance committee. In politics a Repub-
lican, he was treasurer of the township of East Cocalico,
Lancaster Co., Pa., during the latter years of the war. ■

RAYMOND MOHR, the founder of the well-known firm
of Raymond Mohr & Son, of Birdsboro, this county, was
a resident and business man of that place for the long
period of half a century, having settled there in 1857.
He made his early success as a contractor and builder,
and later displayed equal ability in the undertaking and
furniture line, having for many years the only establish-
ment of the kind ever conducted in Birdsboro. His son,
Edwin F. Mohr, has succeeded to his interests, having been
associated in business with his father since 1895.

Mr. Mohr- was born Sept. 30, 1834, near Gibraltar, in
Robeson township, this county, on his father's farm, the
property at present occupied by Mrs. James Trate. Samuel
Mohr, his father, was a carpenter by calling, and had a
great reputation as a builder of barns, following the
method then in vogue of hewing the timber from the tree,
and framing it together with tenon and mortise, fasten-



ing each with pins instead of by the nailing process which
now prevails. Although Samuel Mohr had acquired little
education, he had a marvelous faculty of being able to
designate beforehand each stick and make an accurate gen-
eral list of the lumber that would be required for a build-



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 92 of 227)