Morton L. (Morton Luther) Montgomery.

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

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Online LibraryMorton L. (Morton Luther) MontgomeryHistorical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families, comp. by Morton L. Montgomery .. → online text (page 94 of 227)
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trade. He employs on an average twenty-five hands in
his plant, which is located at Seventh and Walnut streets,
and his business is steadily increasing. Mr. Engle was
married in 1807 to Amanda Marshall, daughter of Dr.
Jacob Marshall, and one son was li^rn to this union, Wal-
ter, who is superintendent of his father's plant. Mr. Engle
married (second) Katie Moyer, of Reading.

In 1862 Mr. Engle enlisted aiid went to the front with
the Pennsylvania Militia, but in 1863 joined the Inde-
pendent Ringgold Artillery. He is connected with the G.

A. R. Mr. Engle is a Lutheran, while his wife is an

SYDENHAM E. ANCONA, son of Morris M.
Ancona, M. D., and Mary Ann (Knapp) Ancona, was
born in Warwick township, adjoining Lititz, Lancaster
county. Pa., Nov. 20, 1824.

M. M. Ancona was a native of London, England, born
Feb. 9, 1791, and died at Pottsville, Pa., March 20, 1854.
His 'father was M. Ancona, a marble and statuary mason,
who died in London, of which city his ancestors, for
sonDe generations, had been residents. His wife was a
Montifiore, and, as were the Anconas, of Italian descent.
They were merchants at Leghorn and are presumed to
have come from the city of Ancona, Italy.

The family moved in the spring of the year 1826 from
Lititz to Bern township, Berks county, about two miles
from Bernville, near Sculls Hill; from this place to
Lebanon about the 1st of April, 1829, and in 1830-31 to
Kelly's Corner, near the Conewago creek, Lebanon
county; from Kelly's Comer in 1833 to Porter's Store,
on the road from Colebrook Furnace to Elizabethtown ;
in April, 1836, to Caernarvon township, near Churchtown,
Lancaster county, where they remained until 1840; from
there to Alsace township, Berks county, near Stony
Creek. He worked on a farm in Saucon township,
Lehigh county, for four months. The subject of this
sketch then, upon the suggestion of his father and in
response to an advertisement in the papers, applied for
a select school in Upper Bern township, and was employed
by thiC executors of the estate of Valentine Wagner. This
school at the time was the only English school west of the
ri\-er, except the public schools at Womelsdorf. The com-
pensation was ten dollars per month besides board. The
following year the compensation was increased to fifteen
dollars per month. He spent the summers of 1843 and 1844
at home. Im the fall, seeing an announcement in the papers
that twenty-one teachers were wanted in Earl township,
Lancaster county, he, among some fifty other appli-
cants, was examined at New Holland, passed and obtained
a school.

In June, 1845, he made a trip to New York and Boston
by way of Providence, returning to Reading, and leav-
ing in July for Niagara Falls and Canada. At that tirae
the method of reaching New York was by stage via' Allen-
town, Easton to Morristown, N. J., and from there to
New York by- rail. After leaving Niagara he proceeded
to Buffalo, then a town of from ten thousand to twelve
thousand inhabitants, going from there by steamer to
Cleveland about the 20th of August, and from the latter
place to Akron by canal boat. From this point, with a
companion whom he happened to meet, and who proposed
to him that they walk to Lancaster, he proceeded as far
as Chambersburg, Pa., where they separated.

After some months at home, given up to farming,
Mr. Ancona accepted in 1845 an English select school at
Seyfert's Mills, in Upper Tulpehocken township, Berks
county, having about twenty pupils at this school and
being very successful in instructing them. He had some
very bright boys there, notably Charles Albright, who
afterward became a general in the army during the
Civil war, a prominent lawyer, and was elected to Con-
gress on the ticket at large from Pennsvl.vania some years
after the close of the war.

Having decided in the year 1846 to discontinue teaching
school, on the invitation of Daniel H. Feger, who had
obtained a position with the Reading Railroad Companv.
Mr. Ancona accepted a position in the service in the
same departmient with him as an assistant timekeeper,
devoting himself with all his energy and giving his entire
time to the requirements which they demanded. He con-
tinued with the railroad company until 1863, in the posi-
tion of chief clerk and bookkeeper from December, 1851,
having been acting as assistant timekeeper previous
thereto. At the close of December, 1851, he took charge
of the general books of the company, which were then
out of balance and in a neglected condition. He succeeded
at once in the work, although he had had no previous
experience in double entry bookkeeping.





When nominated for Congress in 1860, without, having
given the company any notice of his purpose, he was
warmly congratulated by the general manager^ of the
company on his achievement. A few days thereafter he
received the gratifying communication from the president
of the road that his election to Congress would not inter-
fere with his position with the company, and that they
expected him to return at the end of the session.

During his connection with the railroad company, in
1849, together with his brother-in-law, Daniel H.~Feger,
he organized a military company known as the Reading
Rifles, which was composed largely of young men em-
ployed by the Reading Railroad Company, engineers and
machinists. It was a notable organization numbering
some two hundred, thoroughly armed and equipped with
rifles furnished by the State. It had a band of music
made up of its own members, and was decidedly one of the
crack volunteer organizations of the country. It was
attached to the 1st Brigade, 5th Division, P. V., under the
command of William H. Keim, of Reading. The com-
pany made several notable excursions to Philadelphia
as the guests of the celebrated State Fencibles, then under
the command of Col. James Page. They were received
by the State Fencibles in the grounds surrounding In-
dependence Hall, and were presented by Colonel Page,
in behalf of the State Fencibles, a handsome silver-
mounted rifle and a gold medallion containing Colonel
Page's portrait with a suitable inscription. In 1854 the
company went on an excursion to Washington and Mount
Vernon. They passed through Philadelphia under the
escort of the State Fencibles. At Washington they were
received by the "German Jaeger," commanded by Major
Schwartzman, together with other volunteer companies in
the District of Columbia at the time. They were re-
ceived by the President of the United States, General
Pierce, and his Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, in the
East Room of the White House, having 137 men in
line, all told. In presenting the company, each man was
introduced by name to the President and Secretary of
War. The company was complimented by both the Pres-
ident and Mr. Davis. The company was entertained
by Hon. J. Glancy Jones, the representative from Berks
county, at his home. The arsenal and navy yard were
visited, and Mount Vernon reached under the escort
of Major Schwartzman and his company. Returning
home, they stopped over in Baltimore, the next day at
York, had dinner at Columbia, and were received in
Lancaster by the Buchanan Rifles and entertained at a
banquet at Fulton Hall in the evening. They attended
the reception tendered to Louis Kossuth, the celebrated
Hungarian patriot; also the reception to the first Japanese
legation that visited the United States.

Mr. Ancona retired from the Rifles soon after this
excursion in consequence of a political controversy with
men who had left the Rifles and joined a rival organiza-
tion. He was then invited to take command of the Read-
ing Troop, a cavalry company that dated its organization
from the Revolutionary war. He accepted, and was sub-
sequently elected major of the Reading Battalion by a
very large majority. Mr. Hiester Clymer, later his suc-
cessor in Congress, was supported by the opposition, but
Mr. Ancona carried the. companies by a majority larger
than the total vote of Mr. Clymer in the Ringgold
Light Artillery, which was the finest military organiza-
tion in the United States.

In February, 1861, Governor Curtin sent Maj. Gen.
William H. Keim (5th Division, Pennsylvania Volun-
teers, to which the brigade was attached) to him and
Capt. James McKiiight to ascertain whether their com-
panies could be held in readiness to respond to a call
in defense of the provernment. They conferred with'
their men and had them pledged by oath to go out in
defense of the government, then threatened with seces-
sion by a number of its States. The call came finally,
but for the Ringgold Artillery only. In April, after the
President's Proclamation, and on the same day that
the call came from Governor Curtin, Mr. Ancona went

to Harrisburg to ascertain whether his company was
also to be sent, but was advised that for the time being
no cavalry companies would be called.

On July 4, 1861, the XXXVIIth Congress was called in
special session, and having been elected as a represen-
tative from Berks county, he took his seat and' soon
after called upon Secretary of War Cameron, with Cap-
tain McKnight, George Durrell and John B. Kiefer, who
was a nephew of Cameron and had been a member of
the Reading Rifles. He then asked the General what the
probabilities were of his company being called. The
General replied that they "had more men than they
wanted," and hence Mr. Ancona made no further effort
to obtain recognition. A very short time thereafter a
mustering officer was sent to Reading without his knowl-
edge. The company was mustered in, divided into two
companies, the one under George Clymer as captain and
the other under J. C. A. Hoffeditz. Thus he failed
to get into the service owing to circumstances over which
he had no control.

Mr. Ancona was elected to the XXXVIIth Congress in
1860 and took his seat on July 4, 1861, at a special ses-
sion called by President Lincoln. He was also elected to
the XXXVIIIth and XXXIXth Congresses. He served
on the committee on Commiercial Affairs, which as he says
had but little opportunity for recognition, as most bus-
iness which should have been referred to it was referred
to the committee on Ways and Means, which also con-
trolled the appropriations during these years. Later,
however, -he was placed on the committee on Military
Affairs, which was a very active and important body, of
which Gen. Robert C. Schenck was chairman. Among the
members of this committee was James G. Blaine of
Maine, as well as a number of other equally prominent
men. While on this committee he frequently met Mr.
Blaine, who was a very industrious and active member.

About this time General Grant was considered a fav-
orite candidate for the Presidency, and the so-called
radical representatives of the House, including such men
as Thaddeus Stevens, William D. Kelly and Henry Win-
ter Davis, of Maryland,, did not favor his nomination.
Mr. Blaine predicted, however, that he would be nominated
on the Republican ticket. This proved to be correct.

Through the influence of General Schenck a resolution
was introduced in the House, tendering the thanks of
Congress to General Hancock for his distinguished ser-
vices during the war, and especially at Gettysburg. The
matter was referred to the committee on Military Affairs,
who ordered Ancona to jeport favorably to the House.
This brought him into direct communication with Gen-
eral Hancock, who wrote a very handsome letter of ac-
knowledgment. In consequence a close personal friend-
ship sprang up between him and General Hancock ; fre-
quent conferences took place between them by reason of
the prominent position of General Hancock as a. favorite
candidate of many Democrats for the Presidency. At
the request of Mr. Glover, a prominent attorney of St.
Louis, Hancock and Ancona met at Milwaukee, the Gen-
eral being at that time at the head of the Department
at St. Paul. Subsequently, there were meetings at Norris-
town and Governor's Island, Col. De Puy Davis and B.
Markley Boyer, among others, being present.

He enjoyed very pleasant relations with Edward M.
Stanton, the Secretary of War, having met Mr. Stanton
at a party given in horjor of J. Glancy Jones at the res-
idence of Maj. William Flinn, who was an intimate ac-
quaintance of President Buchanan. On that occasion he
met also Judge Black, who had been Buchanan's Attorney-
General and afterward his Secretary of State. 'He recalls
that during the conversation with Mr. Stanton, whom he
met that evening, he expressed his views very freely
and criticised the policy of the administration in the
conduct of the war. Mr. Stanton did not dissent; Mr.
Ancona's surprise can be imagined when he saw in the
morning papers the next day that Mr. Stanton had
been appointed Secretary of War to succeed Mr.



After his failure to obtain the renomination for a
fourth term to Congress, in 1866, his colleagues from
Pennsylvania had President Johnson name him for naval
officer, port of Philadelphia. Strong and representative
Republicans in his district had requested Senator Cam-
eron and others to favor his confirmation by the Senate,
this being done without his request and knowledge until
one day communicated to him by Judge Kelly, of Phila-
delphia, in the committee-room on Military Affairs. He
was frequently importuned to again run for Congress,
but peremptorily declined.

Mr. Ancona had been connected with the fire department
of the city of Reading for some years when on the
suggestion of Gen. George M. Keim he took the pres-
idency of the Reading Hose Company. General Keim
headed a subscription with one hundred dollars toward
the purchase of a steam fire-engine in 1858. With his
accustomed energy and determination he succeeded in
getting the first steam fire-engine into Reading at a cost of
thirty-six hundred dollars. It was called the "Novelty,"
and was built at the Novelty Works in New York, by
Lee & Larned. In 1867 he, with a few others, organ-
ized the Hampd-en Fire Company, of which he was the
first president. He has been re-elected and occupied this
office for forty-two years continuously. He is also a
delegate to the Firemen's Union.

He has held the office of treasurer of the Reading Fire-
men's Relief Association since its organization and has
always been prominently and actively connected with
the volunteer fire department of the city of Reading. He
was a member of the Reading school board and the pres-
ident of that body for several terms. He served for
many years with Judge Stitzel and Charles Breneiser, Sr.,
as a member of the local board of charities, appointed by
the Governor. Governor Pattison appointed him a trustee
of the State Asylum at Harrisburg. He was one of the
originators of the Reading Steam Forge, Cotton Mill, a
director of the Reading Savings Bank, and was identified
as president, secretary and director with building and
savings associations for over sixty years.

Having some relations with the officers of the Fire Asso-
ciation of Philadelphia, he proposed to the fire depart-
ment in the city of Reading the organization of an insur-
ance company for insurance against loss by fire on a
plan somewhat similar to the plan of the Fire Association
of Philadelphia, which had grown out of the old volun-
teer fire department of that city, and had an accumula-
tion at that time of some millions of assets. The
necessary legislation was obtained, but he could not con-
vince the representatives of the various fire companies in
the Firemen's Union of the feasibility of his plan. He
then organized a stock fire insurance company with a
capital^ of $100,000, of which $35,000 was subscribed by
his friends. Twenty per cent was paid in so that he
had $7,500 in cash when the company organized. He
started business July 8, 1867, and was elected secre-
tary and treasurer. The company had a board of
directors, composed of some of the leading business
men of the city. Judge J. Pringle Jones was elected
president, and Maj. James McKnight, vice-president.
He served as secretary and treasurer for over thirty
years and from the small beginning of $7,500 he in-
creased the paid-up capital to $250,000, and net surplus
over and above the capital to $300,000.

He also, during this period, succeeded in organizing
the Reading Trust Company, with many of the stock-
holders of the Reading Fire Insurance Company, and
with the same board of directors and officers, he serving
as secretary and treasurer of this company.

With the tendency to consolidation of insurance bus-
iness by the^ insurance companies, by re-insurance and
otherwise, with strong competition by companies with
large aggregations of capital, and owing to excessive
losses for two years previous to 1898, he was impressed
with the belief that the Reading Fire Insurance Company
had reached the greatest success it could attain under
the adverse prospect, and he therefore determined to
effect a re-insurance of the Reading Company with some

large company to continue the Reading Company as
before, and to have all its policies and liabilities under-
written by such a company, taking all its revenues, and
paying all its expenses and the rental, which would be
equivalent to a dividend of from ten to twelve per
cent to the stockholders of the Reading Fire Insurance
Company. After several negotiations with companies in
the United States and Europe, where he went in 1896-97
with this purpose in view, after he had abandoned all
hope of effecting such a transaction, he received a com-
munication to enter into negotiations with the Hartford
Fire Insurance Company. He met Mr. Chase, the pres-
ident of the company, and seemed in a fair way of com-
ing to an agreement, but the methods proposed to accom-
plish the purpose did not meet with his approval and
were promptly declined. Mr. Edward Cluff, of New
York, who had heard of these negotiations, had at the
same time proposed an arrangement with the Scottish
Alliance, which was declined. The president of the
Scottish Alliance had been cabled for, however, and a
meeting was arranged in New York for this purpose,
which finally resulted in the sale of the stock of the
Reading Fire Insurance Company, with the consent of
a large number of the stockholders, the Scottish Alliance
paying the stockholders twenty dollars a share, and from
which they had received an average dividend of eight
per cent per annum, for over thirty years.

During a period of over fifty years Mr. Ancona was
an active member of the Masonic fraternity. In 1848,
with some associates and friends, he organized a lodgs
known as Chandler Lodge, No. 227, of which he became
Worshipful Master. He was also a member of the Grand
Lodge of Pennsylvania and received the degree of Knight
Templar in Philadelphia. He was also appointed Emi-
nent Commander, but he did not attend the meeting for
the installation of officers by reason of the death of his
father. In 1870, with a few friends, he applied for au-
thority for another Commandery, K. T., which was
accomplished and became known as Reading Commandery,
No. 42. He was appointed to and accepted the position of
Eminent Commander, with the understanding that he
would do no more than preside for the year at their
meetings. He was appointed District Deputy Grand
Master for the District of Berks, Lebanon and part of
Montgomery counties in 1861-62-63-64, and 1874-75-76.

He was elected president of the Penn Street Passenger
Railway, the' first road in the city of Reading. He was
also one of the projectors and directors of the Mt. Penn
Gravity Railway Company in 1889, and has continued as
director in it ever since.

Notwithstanding a long and busy life he has found
time to travel extensively, not alone the many trips
through every State and Territory of the United States,
but frequent trips abroad and to the Indies. He has de-
voted his attention to public matters and the common
good, giving them the advantage of his wide experience
and close observation. Philanthropic and charitable,
and intense in all his undertakings, he has well
filled to the fullest measure, and enjoyed the blessings of,
a life of over fourscore years, retaining full possession
of his vitality, energy and mental faculties.

EDWARD S. WERTZ, who conducts the Wertz Milling
Company at Reading, one of the best known establishments
of its kind in Berks countv, was bom in Harrisburg, Dau-
phni Co., Pa., Feb. 23, 1850, son of Samuel and Maria
(Sweigert) Wertz.

Samuel Wertz, his father, was born March 2, 1809, in
the Canton of Aargau, Switzerland, and in his native
country learned the trade of wool fulling. In 1827 he came
to America, settling first at Frankford, Philadelphia, where
he manufactured cotton laps and wadding. He subsequent-
ly removed to Harrisburg. where he operated a flouring
and woolen-mill and remained until 1856, at which time
he engaged in business at the old Ritter Hotel stand, in
Exeter township. The following year he removed to
Spring township, Berks county, where he purchased the
old Althouse Alii! property, which he rebuilt, making vast



improvement in the establishment, and he successfully-
operated it as a flour and feed mill until 1870. That year
he settled in Reading and opened the flour and feed store
which he "conducted until his retirement, in 1880. His
death occurred in 1884, when he was seventy-five years

Mr. Wertz was twice married. His first wife, Maria
Sweigert, a native of Lancaster county. Pa., died in 1852,
leaving six children, namely: Louisa M. m. Amos Price;
Elizabeth, deceased, m. Herman Strohecker; George W. ;
Samuel; Edward S., and Jacob Henry. On April 28, 1853,
Mr. Wertz m. (second) Catherine Waldenmyer, daughter of
John Waldenmyer, and to this union two children were
born, Augustus and Frank. Mr. Wertz was a member of
the Reformed Church, while his wife held to the faith of
the Lutheran denomination. In politics he was a stanch

Edward S. Wertz was quite young when his father came
to Berks county, and here he received his education in the
public schools. From boyhood he was employed around
his father's milling establishment, and when sixteen he left
home to complete his apprenticeship at the miller's trade.
He went to Huyett's Mill at Shillington, in Cumru town-
ship, remaining there about a year, after which he took a
responsible position at Womelsdorf, having charge of a
flouring mill owned by a Mr. Fisher. There he also spent
a year, and then accepted a similar position at the old
Hiester Mill, in Bern township, later going to Reed's
Mill, in Robeson township. Going to Chicago, 111., in 1871,
Mr. Wertz spent one year there in the storage warehouse
business, at the end of that time returning to Reading,
where he was employed by Heilman & Co., hardware mer-
chants, who were then located on the present site of the
Dives, Pomeroy & Stewart store. After two years' ser-
vice with this firm he went to the old Wertz Mill prop-
erty in Spring township, and for twenty-five years carried
on the mill there. It was one of the old-style burr mills,
and was one of the first to be adapted to the modern roller-
process, the necessary changes being made by Mr. Wertz,
who during his occupancy of the property rebuilt the
establishment four times. He enlarged as well as moder-
nized it, increasing the capacity as trade demanded from
a fifteen-barrel mill to a seventy-five-barrel mill. It was
there he first manufactured the now celebrated Wertz
Roller Cream Flour, which has gained an enviable reputa-
tion throughout this section of Pennsylvania. Mr. Wertz
still continues the manufacture of this brand, which has
lost none of its popularity, for he has sustained its high
quality to the present time.

In 1898 Mr. Wertz removed to Reading, where he estab-
lished his present plant, his mill and office being at Nos.
135-141 Buttonwood street and conducted under the name
of the Wertz Milling Company. His mill is one of the
best equipped in the State of Pennsylvania, no device of
approved pattern known to flour manufacturers having
been omitted in fitting it up, and the conduct of the plant
and standard of products are accordingly high. AH the
product is disposed of to the local trade. The brands
manufactured by the Wertz Milling Company are Roller
Cream, Gold Dust, White Rose and Minnehaha, all of which
are in popular use throughout this section. Besides his

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 94 of 227)