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 98 of 227)
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ability being recognized by his employers, he was rapidly
promoted from position to position, until in 1873 he was
made superintendent of the company, which is one of the
largest of its kind in the United States, A self-made man
in all that the word implies, JNlr. Treat has been the
architect of his own fortune, and well deserves the success
that has been his. ,

Mr. Treat was married, in 1S6S, to Miss Emma Deysher,
daughter of Daniel Deysher, of Oley township, Berks
county, Pa., and three children have been born to this
union : Daniel G., employed by the Reading Hardware Com-
pany; Henry E., who died in 1898, aged twentv-six years;
and Howard, employed by the Reading Hardware Com-
pany. Mr. Treat is a member of St. Paul's ^Memorial Re-
formed Church, and for a number of years has been deacon
and elder.

S.AMUEL D.WIES, proprietor of the Industrial Foun-
dry and Machine Works, of Reading, comes of Welsh an-
cestry, and is in ' the third generation from the founder
of the family in America, one Samuel Davies.

Samuel Davies was born in Newbridge, Wales, in 1737.
He changed his name from Da\is to Davies, holding that
such was the correct Welsh spelling, and all of his kin
have retained the added letter ever since, .'\bout 1764
Samuel Davies sailed for .America, came to Berks county
and settled in Reading, then a small village, where he
opened a shoe shop and store combined. In 1773 he mar-
ried his wife, Elizabeth, who was of GcrnTan parentage.
With the exception of four years in Bradford, Chester
Co., Pa., their married life was spent wholly in Reading,
and there they died, he in 1821, aged eight>-four, and she
some years later. They were members of the Quaker
sect. Their children were: (1) Alary, born in 1774, m. a
yir. Miller. (2) Lydia, born July 26, 1775, m. but had no
family. (3) Rebecca, born June ]2, 1777, m, Thomas
Borger. (4) Joseph, born Jan. 1, 1779. in earlv life was
a_ tanner in Chester county. He m. in 1805, Miss Lydia
Kennedy, of West Bradford township, Chester county, and a
family of eleven children was born to them. Mrs. Lydia Dav-
ies died Nov. 30, 1819, aged forty-one years, three months
and twenty days. Some seven years later Joseph Davies



decided to go West, and in the summer of 1826 he traveled
on foot to Parke county, Ind., a distance of nearly one
thousand miles. He died, July 5, 1827. (5) Benjamin was
the father of Samuel Davies. (6) Samuel, born Jan. 14,
1783, m. Aug. 31, 1815, in Chester county. Miss Sarah Harry.
He went west to Indiana, and there died Dec. 14, 1863.
His wife died Jan. 28, 1837. leaving four sons, Jesse, Sam-
uel, Lewis and Joseph. (7) Jacob, born June 27, 1786, be-
came the father of two daughters, both now deceased.
(8) Isaac, born April 23, 1789, was known as the strongest
man of Eastern Pennsylvania. He left no family. (9)
Joshua born Aug. 17, 1791. became a well known teacher
in Reading, and died Feb. 22, 1849. His wife Deborah was
born Feb. 27, 1793, and died Feb. 8, 1864, leaving an only
daughter, Sarah. (10) Elizabeth, born Dec. 8, 1793, left
no descendants.

Benjamin Davies was born March 17, 1781, and on
Jan. 27, 1805, was married to Miss Mary Williams. Eight
children were born to them, all deceased except the young-
est. (1) Abner, born Nov. 6, 1808, m. and died, leaving
three children, William, Lenora and Myers. (2) Lydia
died in childhood. (3) Elizabeth, (4) Samuel, and (5)
Anne died in early life. (6) Mary W., born Sept. 10,
1816, m. Charles Dehart, and had children, William, Eliz-
abeth, David, Mary, Edward, Charles and Emma. (7)
Lydia W. was ii teacher of Berks county, and died unmar-
ried at the age of seventy. (8) Benjamin, Jr., m. and had
four children, Howard, Anna, Mary and Jessica. The
mother of this family died, and on Feb. 16, 1828, Mr.
Davies m. (second) Miss Mary Martin. By this union
there were four children : Samuel is mentioned below ;
Elizabeth, born Sept. 26, 1840. m. Herman Dersch, and had
ten children, of whom five are living — John, Gertrude,
George, Rebecca and Helen ; Rebecca, born Aug. 31, 1843,
m. William Hutchinson, and had nine children, of whom
William, Ruth, Elizabeth and Rebecca are living (Mr.
Hutchinson enlisted Aug. 10, 1861, in Company H, 88th
Pa. V. I., was wounded in the right thigh during the
second battle of Bull Run, Aug. 19, 1862. was taken prisoner
before Petersburg, and held in Libby Prison until mus-
tered out March 30, 1865) ; Joseph,' born July 2, 1846,
became a machinist by trade and m. Miss Margaret Hale,
and of their ten children there are living. Mary, Anna,
Kathcrinej Rebecca and Martha Nora.

Benjamin Davies, father of this large family, became
a prominent citizen in Reading. Beginning in' the shoe
business, he was for some time established on Penn street
between Fourth and Fifth. When the Farmers National
Bank \yas opened, ]\Ir. Davies opened the books and was
rnade its first bookkeeper, and later he served for a
time as its cashier, maintaining his connection with the
institution for a period of forty years. This fact alone
bespeaks his place in the business world of Reading, while
his personality made him very popular socially. In religion
he was a strict observer of the customs of the Friends.
He died in 1S54, in his seventy-fourth year, while his wife
survived him until 1888, when she died aged eighty-eight,
the greatest age attained by any member of the Davies
family.

Samuel Davies was born in Reading, May 4, 1839, and
until he was fifteen years old he attended the public
schools. He then entered the Philadelphia & Reading rail-
road shops, in order to become a machinist, and he remained
there four years. He next spent about a year and a
half in the lathe department of the Scott foundry, and
afterward was employed at various places, including Leb-
anon, Pittsburg and Wheeling. Returning to Readin<^ he
was engaged at the Johnson foundry and machine shop
when the war broke out. He enlisted in the State service
in April, 1861, and on June 4, 1861, he enlisted in the United
States service under Capt.' William Briner, Company D,
3d Pa. R. V. C. He served all through the war in the
.■\rmy of the Potomac, was in a number of hard fought
battles, like the Seven Days Fight around Richmond,
second Bull Run, South Mountain, ,-\ntietam and Freder-
icksburg, and was mustered out at Philadelphia in the
fall of 1864. The government gave him employment in
Nashyille, and Mr. Davies spent some time in that citr.



BIOGRAPHICAL



389



before going back to Reading. There he again worked
as a machinist, for the railroad until 1881, but in that
year he went into business for himself.

The concern of which Mr. Davies is now sole proprietor
has passed through various phases of existence. Originally,
in 1881, the firm name was Miller, Price & Co., and the
company did a foundry and machine business. A few
years later it became Miller, Printze & Co., and then
Davies, Printze & Co., and finally in 1904 Mr. Davies took
entire control of the plant. It is now known as the
Industrial Foundry and Machine Works, and is located
at Nos. 239-231 South Ninth street. There are about
twenty hands employed, and the trade, though largely a
local one, is of good volume.

On Dec. 13, 1866, Mr. Davies married Miss Margaret
Birch, daughter of the late Dr. Solomon Birch. Five
children were born to them, as follows : Mary Elizabeth
died at the age of two years ; Harry and William are
both mechanics employed with their father; Beulah, who
was graduated from the Reading high school in the class
of 1895, taught in that city a few years and then married
Joseph H. Skilton, a resident of Philadelphia; and Mar-
garet, of the class of 1900 in the Reading high school, is
now teaching at the Pear and Buttonwood school. Mr.
Davies served during the war in Company D, 3Sd Pa. V. I.,
seeing much active service, and is now a member of
G. A. R. Post No. 16, of which he is past commander. He
also belongs to the Union Veteran Legion, and holds the
official rank of past colonel. In politics he is a Republican.

DR. ABRAHAM NESTER FRETZ, who for over thir-
ty-four years has been engaged in the practice of medicine
and surgery at Fleetwood, Berks county, was born Aug.
7," 1839, in Hereford township, son of Daniel Fretz.

Daniel Fretz was born in Hereford township in 1805,
was reared to agricultural pursuits and followed farming
in the vicinity of his birth until his death, in 1880. He
married Esther Nester, of Pike township, near Hill
Church, and to this union were born six children : Abra-
ham N.; Lewis, m. to Lavana Rambo; Annie, who died
young ; Irwin, m. to Mary March ; and Priscilla and
Annie, who both died young.

Dr. Abraham N. Fretz's early education was secured in
the public schools, and after a thorough preparation at
Mt. Pleasant Seminary at Boyertown, he entered the
University of Pennsylvania and graduated from the Medical
Department in 1863. The country then being in the midst
of the Civil war, he enlisted at Washington, D. C, and,
receiving the appointment of acting assistant surgeon,
was detailed to perform hospital service at Newport News
and vicinity until 1866. Then, under the Reconstruction
Act, Gen. John H. Schofield appointed him president of
the board of registration, with headquarters at City Point,
Va., and he filled this responsible position in the most sat-
isfactory manner until the fall of 1869.

While at the latter place Dr. Fretz identified himself with
the affairs of Prince George county, and the electors of
that district elected him as one of the Assemblymen.
There being two parties in that State, viz., the Radical
Republicans and the Liberal Republicans, he was chosen
on the ticket of the latter, and served in this honorable
position during the years 1869, 1870 and 1871. He then re-
turned to Pennsylvania and took an additional course of
medical lectures in the University for a year, after which
he established himself in medical practice at Linfield, Mont-
gomery county, and was successfully engaged at that place
until his removal, in 1875, to Fleetwood, Berks county,
where he has been in active practice ever since.

Dr. Fretz, upon locating at Fleetwood, took an active
interest in educational affairs and quite naturally his fellow-
citizens selected him to be a school director, and he served
as such from 1877 to 1884. In 1887 he was elected as one
of the justices of the peace of this borough, and he has
been serving in this position by re-election until the present
time, showing the high appreciation of the community in
his judicial integrity. In politics he has been a Democrat,
and upon settling in the county he identified himself with
its political affairs, as well as with those of the State and



nation. He frequently represented the borough in con-
ventions, and in the county conventions of 1883 and 1903
he officiated as chairman.

Dr. Fretz was married in 1863 to Emma Roberston, of
Philadelphia, daughter of Thomas Robertson, and to this
union, one son, Thomas, has been born.

Thomas Fretz was born in 1866 at Philadelphia, at-
tended the schools of Fleetwood, and after a prepara-
tory course at the Keystone State Normal School, he at-
tended Lafayette College, from which he was graduated
in 1890. He continued the higher branches of study at
Princeton University, from which he was graduated in
1893. In 1900 he was elected principal of the grammar
schools at Newark, N. J., and he filled this responsible
position in the most satisfactory manner until 1907, when
he was appointed to a similar position in New York City,
which he still holds. He was married to Mary Madeira,
daughter of John H. Madeira, of Blandon, and one daugh-
ter, Emily, was born to this union. Mrs. Fretz died in
1893.

NEVIN M. DAVIS, a civil engineer ranking deservedly
high in his profession, came of a family long established in
York county, and his death, April 12, 1909, was deeply de-
plored. He was a son of the Rev. William F. P. and Ellen
E. (Myers) Davis.

The Rev. William F.' P. Davis ' was a minister of the
Reformed Church. He lived to the age of only fifty-two
years, passing away in 1883. At the time of his death he
had a charge in Berks county that embraced Wernersville
(Hain's Church), Sinking Spring's, Kissinger's and Yo-
cum's Churches. He married Ellen E., daughter of Benja-
min Myers, a retired business man of York and founder
of the Farmers Insurance Company, of that place. The
children born to this marriage were as follows : William S.,
a graduate of Lehigh University, and now general manager
of the Lebanon Textile Works; Louisa Bell, now Mrs.
Charles Wilson, of Glen Olden, Pa.; Paul Benjamin, also
a Lehigh University man, assistant city engineer of Read-
ing from 1903 to 1909; John Henry, a clerk in the Second
National Bank; Martha, at home;' and Nevin M.

Nevin M. Davis was born Aug. 28, 1864, in New Oxford,
Adams county, where his father had his first charge. After
leaving school he entered Franklin and Marshall College,
and was graduated in 1885. The first position he secured
was with the Philadelphia & Reading Railway Co. as civil
engineer, and he was with the Company for seven years.
During this time he was assistant engineer in the construc-
tion of the Allentown Terminal and the Philadelphia,
Harrisburg & Pittsburg Terminal Railways. Another
work with which he was concerned was the Port Reading
Railway from Boundbrook, N. J., to Port Reading. Mr.
DaVis also held the position of assistant engineer for the
Central New England and Western Railway, with head-
quarters at Hartford, Conn., and ha,d charge of the main-
tenance of the famous Poughkeepsie Bridge. In 1892 he
gave up his position with the railroad and opened an
office on his own account, taking engineering contracts.
He was at first associated with the firm of Davis Bros.,
but in 1898 that was dissolved and Mr. Davis had his of-
fice alone in the Wanner Building, Reed and Court streets.
He was extremely proficient in his profession, and his work
was always of the highest class. Mr. Davis was also con-
nected with various electric railways, and directed the
engineering work on the Reading & Womelsdorf Electric
Railway. He was chief engineer of the Safe Harbor
Steam Railway in Lancaster county.

Mr. Davis was married Jan. 14, 1893, to Elizabeth Fry
Stein, daughter of Jacob Stein and the late Ellen Elizabeth
Stein, of Allentown, where Mr. Stein was a retired farmer.
Three children were born to them, but Elizabeth, the sec-
ond, died in infancy. The other two are Frederick Stein
and Robert Stein, both in school. Mr. and Mrs. Davis
belong to St. Paul's Reformed Church.

Mr. Davis had for many years belonged to the Masonic
fraternity, and is connected with various other organiza-
tioais, in most of which he has been very active and held
important offices. He is Past Master of Reading Lodge,



390



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY. PENNSYLVANIA



No 549 F. & A. M.; Past High Priest, and at present
secretary of Reading Chapter, No. 152, R. A. M.; Past
Eminent Commander of De Molay Commandery, No 9,
K T ■ Past Thrice Illustrious Grand Master of Allen
Council No 23, R. & S. M.; member of Harnsburg Con-
sistory, ' Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite Masons, 32d de-
gree; and a charter member of Rajah Temple, A. A. V. N.
M S, in which he served as Oriental Guide for nme
years. Mr. Davis also represented the Grand Commandery,
Knights Templar of the State of Louisiana, to the Grand
Commandery of Pennsylvania.

In politics Mr. Davis was an ardent Democrat, servmg a<
the time of his death as representative of the Sixteenth
ward on the school board. He served as county surveyor
for three years. He was a member of the Americus Club,
the Union Fire Company No. 13 (since its organization)
and had held most of the offices in it. He was president
of the Firemen's Union in 1906 and 1907, and a member of
the Firemen's Relief Association as delegate from his
company to the organization at large. In whatever capacity,
he always rendered most valued and efficient service.

The most important professional and political position
held by Mr. Davis was that of engineer to the county com-
missioners of Berks county in 1906-07-08, during which
time he designed and introduced into Berks county bridges
of reinforced concrete. The most noted of these bridges
is the one across the Schuylkill river at Dauberville, con-
sisting of four seventy-five-foot spans of reinforced con-
crete, and a total length of four hundred feet. This is
considered one of the most artistic structures in Eastern
Pennsylvania, and Mr. Davis was highly complimented
by his profession and by the public in general for the
many handsome structures he designed and erected, which
will ever be monuments to his memory.

ABNER KEELEY STAUFFER, for many years one of
the prominent members of the Berks County Bar, was^ a
descendant of Henry Stauffer (a scion of the imperial
Hohen-Stauffen family of Germany), who came to America
from Rhenish Germany early in the eighteenth century.
Mr. Stauffer was born at Boyertown, Berks Co., Pa., Oct.
11, 1836, son of John and Elizabeth (Keeley) Stauffer.

Judge John Stauffer was born July 4, 1792, and died
Nov. 28, 1854. He served as county surveyor, and was
later honored with election to the State Legislature, in
which he served in 1829-30. From 1840 to 1850 he served
as associate judge of Berks county, and so popular was
he, and so satisfactory were his actions, that he was ten-
dered the Democratic nomination for Congress, which was
equivalent to an election in Berks county. But because
of failing health he was obliged to decline the honor, and
he died in 1854, just four years after his term as judge
had expired. To his home at Boyertown came all the peofile
to have their disputes adjusted, his reputation as a wise,
considerate judge having extended far and wide, and his
fame as a counselor being scarcely equalled in the county.

Judge Stauffer married Elizabeth Keeley, daughter of
Henry and Elizabeth Keeley, the former a prominent
farmer in Douglass township. Mrs. Stauffer was born
Oct. 1, 1798, and died Dec. 30, 1857. She was the mother
of ten children, five sons and five daughters, of whom
two survive, viz. ; Elizabeth, widow of Abraham G.
Schwenk, of Schwenkville, Montgomery Co., Pa., a settle-
ment founded by the father of Mr. Schwenk, who at one
time owned nearly all the land in that neighborhood;
and Amanda, widow of Rev. Abraham E. Dechant, of
Pennsburg, a minister of the Reformed Church, who was
born in Montgomery county Jan. 26, 1823, graduated at
Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, and at the Re-
formed Theological Seminary of that city.

.■\hner K. Stauffer received his preparatory education
at Mt. Pleasant Seminary, in his native town, which in-
stitution was organized by his father in 1850. ?Ie was grad-
uated from Franklin and Marshall College, at Lancaster,
in 1858, and after teaching school for one year at Boyer-
town came to Reading in I860,, here taking up the reading
of law with the late John S. Richards. He was admitted
to practice April 15, 1861, on the very day which witnessed



the issuance of the proclamation of President Lincoln
calling for 75,000 troops, this proclamation being read_ in
court, all the members of the Bar then assembled taking
the oath of allegiance. On June 28, 1863, Mr. Stauffer en-
listed, becoming a member of Company C, 4ad Pennsylvania
Volunteers, and served with loyalty and fidelity until his
company was mustered out because their services were no
longer required, practically at the end of the war. He
returned to Reading, and in 1867 he was nominated by
the Republicans of Berks county for the State Senate,
and made a gallant run on the minority ticket, carrying
the city of Reading by a large majority, running far ahead
of his ticket, but being defeated in the county.

This was but the beginning of a most active career. Mr.
Stauffer was always deeply interested in all matters of
public moment, and did yeoman service for his city. He
served three terms— 1869, 1873 and 1881 — as a member of
the city councils of Reading, and during one year of this
time, 1873, he was president of same. During his member-
ship in that body Mr. Stauffer, through his persevering ef-
forts, brought about many measures for the public good
which stand as lasting monuments to his intelligence and
public spirit, his good citizenship and civic pride. But he
worked equally hard in office and out, and among the many
things he did for the general welfare was the promotion
of a measure which secured the removal of the old market
sheds which stood in Penn Square, resulting in the erec-
tion, in their stead, of the splendid market-houses that
are now the pride of the Reading householders. This was
accomplished in 1871. ]\Ir. Stauffer also used his ability
as a lawyer as well as his courage as a man in makirig
free (in 1883) the three bridges which cross the Schuylkill
at Reading, the citizens formerly having been forced to pay
toll. Mr. Stauffer discovered that this toll was collectible
only until the cost of the bridges (and repairs needed dur-
ing the time the original cost was being made up) was
paid. He went over the records for eighty-eight years, a
truly Herculean task, and found that not only had all
costs been secured from the tolls, but also $7,000 in excess,
proving by facts and figures the injustice of the conditions,
and when these were properly brought before the court
the bridges were made free. He worked over this problem
for six years, and for this service the councils presented
him a set of resolutions thanking him in behalf of the
cit3'. A third very important measure for which the city
is indebted to ilr. Stauffer was the securing to the city of
the old parade ground, now Penn Common, thirty-nine
acres of ground, worth nearly $1,000,000. It had been
leased (but without legal warrant) by the commissioners
of Berks county to the Agricultural Society for a period of
ninety-nine years, at an annual rental of one dollar. This
resulted in lengthy litigation, the lower court deciding
against the city, but the Supreme court reversed the
decision and gave the land to the city. Hon. George F.
Baer was associated with Mr. Stauffer in making this fight,
Air. Baer bringing the case before the Supreme court.
Both gentlemen declined pay for their services, and the
Board of Trade and city councils spread upon their minutes
the most eulogistic praise of the eminent and public-spirited
services that Mr. Stauffer and Mr. Baer had rendered.

Mr. Stauffer was married Sept. 25, 1860, to Emma Louisa
Ranninger, a daughter of one of the pioneer bookbinders
of Lancaster, Pa., where his bindery was a familiar land-
mark. Mrs. Stauffer was born Feb. 7, 1841, and died
Alarch 29. 1865. Two children were born to this union,
viz.: Ella Selina, born IMarch 11, 1862, died May 3, 1866, as
the result of a fall. Edgar Embery, born March 8, 1865,
died July 27, 1865.

Mr. Stauffer married for his second wife Mary High
Keim, daughter of Col. John Keim, a lumber dealer of
Reading, and later a banker at Dubuque, Iowa. At the
death of l\Irs. Stauffer, which occurred in 1891, the news-
papers of Reading vied in their tributes to her rare gifts
of mind and heart, one of them saving, in an extended
obituary, "She united the old Keim 'family of Berks and
the Randolph stock of Virginia. She was descended ma-
ternally from the Tuckahoe branch of the Randolphs of
Virginia, and was a granddaughter of Col. Thomas Bev-



BIOGRAPHICAL



391



erly Randolph, one of the first graduates of West Point.
She was of the tenth generation in descent from the Al-
gonquin princess, Pocahontas. She became the beloved
mother of four children, all of whom survive, viz. : John
Keim, Frederick Randolph, Anna Keim and Mary Virginia.
William Wirt Mills, of New York, a son of Mrs. Staufifer
by her first husband. Col.' William Wirt Mills, of Dubuque,
Iowa, also survives."

Of the children, John K. Stauffer, a graduate of Yale
College, class of 1895, is connected with the Times of
Washington, D. C, and is Washington correspondent for
the New York Evening Post and for the Philadelphia Even-
ing Bulletin. Frederick Randolph Stauffer, now a lawyer in
practice at Reading, was graduated from Yale, class of
1903, and then studied law with Hon. George F. Baer and
Jefferson Snyder, Esq. In June, 1907, he was nominated
for District Attorney of Berks county on the Republican
ticket but subsequently withdrew because ineligible to serve,
as he had not been in practice the required length of time.



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 98 of 227)