George R. Prowell.

History of York County Pennsylvania (Volume II) online

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enough to note many changes. He remembers
the old track between York and Baltimore,
when it was composed of two lines (and very
crooked ones at that), of rusty old rails. The
road was then single track, with a wrought
iron clamp for a chair, laid on rotten ties, with-
out any regard to getting a tie under the joint.
No ballast was used. It was considered lucky
to make a round trip without a run-off. No
frogs were used at that time, but in lieu a
pivot rail, operated with a lever and rail at
one end. When the Baltimore & Potomac
railroad was new, and was washed away by the
heavy floods, Mr. Minsker was detailed with
a gang of men to assist in opening the road,
and again when the ice-flood moved away
some of the spans of the Long Bridge at
Washington, he assisted with his men to open
the line. During the dreadful June flood of
1889, h^' with a select gang of his men, joined
forces with the men of the Pennsylvania rail-
road at Viaduct, and assisted in raising that
trestle, and also aided in placing the trestle
in shape for service at Buttermilk Falls, near
Conemaugh. After the great flood in the
Codorus Creek at York, in 1884, the county
commissioners asked him to prepare plans and
specifications for iron street-bridges over the
Codorus in York, and also to superintend the
erection of the new structures. This he did
to the satisfaction of all concerned. Mr. Mins-
ker had charge of the building of block houses
at the west end of the Dauphin and Rockville
bridges during the raid into Pennsylvania, l)y
the Confederates, of which W. H. Wilson
speaks, in his "Reminiscences of a Railroad
Engineer." Prior to 1873 ^^^^ master car-
penter division extended from Baltimore to
Mt. Carmel and from York to AVrightsville.
During the war of the Rebellion, when the
bridges were guarded by soldiers, Mr. Mins-
ker was frequently halted and marchetl to
headquarters, where he had to identify him-
self, before he was allowed to go on his way.
During the war of the Rebellion, when the




the bridges, which had to be trestled at once,
the work requiring constant care and vig-
ilance. ^Ir. Alinsker also saw three spans of
the original Dauphin bridge blown off the
piers by a hurricane. He had crawled into the
Ijortion that fell, only a few moments before,
and, seeing that nothing could be done to save
the spans, hastily made his escape.

]\lr. Alinsker is a Republican, in politics,
but takes only a good citizen's interest in pub-
lic matters. He and his family are members
of the First iNIethodist Episcopal Church of
York, of which he has served as steward. He
is a Royal Arch ]\Iason and a Knight Templar,
and is very popular in fraternal circles.

On Feb. 9, 1857, Mr. JMinsker was united
in marriage with Miss Eliza Ann McClune,
of West Fairview, Cumberland county, daugh-
ter of Thomas 'and Cassandra (Weiser) AIc-
Clune. ]\Irs. McClune was a descendant of
the Conrad Weiser family of Pennsylvania,
who are among the pioneers of the State. Mrs.
Minsker died Feb. 18, 1903, and is buried at
Prospect Hill cemetei-y. The children born to
John IMinsker and his estimable wife were :
Susan Alice, a graduate of the York High
school, residing at home with her father ; Anna
McClune, wife of Robert O. Stallsmith, resid-
ing in York; and Theodore Kuehne, who at-
tended the York High school, three terms at
the York County i\cademy, and the Lehigh
University, from 1899 to 1903. After com-
pleting his literary education he assumed the
study of civil engineering, and is now holding
a verjr responsible professional position with
the Pemisylvania railroad, at Oil City.

Since his retirement from active life ^Ir.
Minsker' has resided in his beautiful residence
at No. 246 North George street. A great
hunter and fisher, much of his time is spent
in these recreations, and he never re'turns
from a trip v.'ithout some spoil of the wood or
the stream.

MATHEW KERR, Jr., is a retired lime
manufacturer of Wrightsville, where he was
born and reared.

The Kerr family is of Scotch-Irish descent.
James Kerr, grandfather of Mathew, Jr.. was
born in Scotland, where he married and where
many of his children were born. In later life
he moved to Derry, County Derry, in the
North of Ireland, where the remainder of his
life was passed.

]\Iathew Kerr, Sr., father of Mathew, Jr.,
was born in Derry, in 1786. He was well
educated in Ireland, and when he was eighteen
came to the United States, landing in New
York City, and going- at once to York, Pa.
His brother George had come to America a
few years before, and had a government posi-
tion in the revenue service at Gettysburg. Pa.
Mathew obtained a clerkship with this brother,
where he remained for a time and then re-
tunied to York and worked at his trade of a
carpenter, which he had learned in Ireland.
His first work of that nature in this country
was on the York Haven Mills, then owned by
Jesse McConkey, uncle of Senator E. K. Mc-
Conkey. After a time he left York, and came
to ^^'rightsville, where for years he was a
lumber inspector. He served two terms as
justice of the peace, his first commission being
obtained from Gov. Shunk. In 1 848 he opened
a lime quarry on his land, which he continued
to work until 1857. This business reverted to
his sons and grandsons. . Mathew Kerr, Sr.,
was a man of great energy and persistence, a
thorough business man, and successful in all
his undertakings. In his earlier days he added
to his other occupations that of teaching, being
at one time employed at Stoner's school in
Hellam township. He was an enthusiastic
Democrat all his life. He was one of the
founders of the Presbyterian Church in
Wrightsville, and was a devout member and
for many years an elder. His marriage to
Jane Wilson took place in York. Mrs. Kerr
was a daughter of Robert and Catherine
( Fisher) Wilson, the latter of German descent,
the former a Scotchman. Robert Wilson died
in Loganville. He was at one time door-
keeper of the old jail at York, and is buried in
the old Presbyterian gTa\'eyard in that city.
Fie had the following six children : William,
who died in L^niontown, Pa., was twice mar-
ried, his second wife being a Ewing; Thomas
died in the West ; David, a tanner by trade,
who died in Alifflintown, Pa., was a soldier
in the war of 1812 and took part in the battle
of North Point: Jane married Mathew Kerr,
Sr. ; Mary married William ]\Iorrow, her hus-
band dying in York; and ^Margaret for many
years kept the toll gate at Heistands. where
she died luimarried.

]Mrs. Jane (Wilson) Kerr was a member
of the Presbyterian Church, and a most sincere
and earnest Christian. She was noted for her



acts of kindness, and helped many a fugitive
slave escape across the river. She died in the
family home in 1866, aged seventy- four years.
Nine children were horn to Mathew and Jane
(Wilson) Kerr, as follows: (i) Thomas G.,
boni May 10, 181 7, a carpenter in Chambers-
burg, married Malinda Renfrew, and they
have two sons, John R. and William, both
engaged in the printing business in Chambers-
burg. (2) Robert, born Dec. 14, 181 8, lives
with his brother, Mathew, Jr. ; he married
Carrie \\'ard (deceased), by whom he had one
child, Emma, who married a Mr. Brown, and
lives in Dakota. (3) James L., born Jan. 18,
1 82 1, a retired lime merchant, lives in Wrights-
ville; his wife was a Miss Tompson. (4)
John, born June 27, 1823, died in Wrights-
ville, April 7, 1850; he married Elizabeth Hep-
penstall. (5) George W., born July 4, 1826,
married Jane Virginia Bahn, and lives in
Wrightsville. (6) William H., born Oct. 19,
1828, married Elizabeth Beaverson, and lives
in Wrightsville. (7) Mathew, Jr., is men-
tioned below. (8) David, born Aug. i, 1833,
married Aurelia Matson (deceased), and lives
in Kansas. (9) Sarah Jane, born Feb. 25,
1836, married James B. McKillops, and died
in Pittsljurg.

Mathew Kerr, Jr., was born Feb. 16, 1831,
at the family home now owned by his brother
AVilliam. He was educated in the Wrightsville
public schools; his first teacher was Miss
Becky Fitz, and later he was taught by his
father. As a young man he worked with his
father at the lime quarry, and after the latter's
death, Mathew, with his brothers, James, Will-
iam and Robert carried on the business. The
brothers retired from time to time, Mathew
remaining until 1894. He has been very suc-
cessful in his affairs, and in 1880 built the
beautiful home in which he still lives. He
has always adhered to the Democratic party
since casting his first presidential vote for
Pierce, and in local matters has served his
town as a school director. He joined the
Presbyterian Church when a young man, and
succeeded his father as elder, an office he still
retains. For seventeen years he has been a
director of the Columbia (Pa.) National

In January, 1856, Mr. Kerr married Julia
Thompson, who was born in Dauphin county,
near Derry Church. Her father. Robert M.
Thompson, was a school teacher in early life

and a blacksmith by trade, becoming weigh-
master at the York blast furnace, where he re-
mained until his death. Mrs. ' Kerr was a de-
vout Presbyterian. She died April 7, 1890,
aged sixty-three. To Mr. and [Mrs. Kerr were
born seven children, as follows: John P., pas-
tor of the Third Presbyterian Church of
Elizabeth, N. J., who married Julia, sister of
Senator E. K. McConkey; Annie M., who died
in December, 1903, wife of A. J. AA'arfield,
station agent at Wrightsville; Mary J., who
married J. E. Roth, of Fairfield, Iowa ; Miss
Sally J., at home; Jennie M., who married J.
S. Moul, _of Hanover, Pa. ; Miss Ella ; and
Charles M., who married Blanche McConkey.

manufacture of cigars has gradually assumed
large proportions throughout a great part of
Pennsylvania, and has become one of the lead-
ing industries in York county. Starting, like
many others, in a small way, the factory owned ■
by John F. Sechrist has, from the first, steadily
increased its output, until now Mr. Sechrist
is at the head of a concern known in all parts
of the United States. This successful business
man is a native of the county, where he was
born on his father's farm July 18, 1863, son of
John and Susan (Fry) Sechrist.

His paternal grandfather was a farmer and
distiller in Chanceford township, well known
all throug'h his section. He hauled his whiskey
to Baltimore for sale, and did a considerable
business in addition to running a large farm.
He was twice married.

John Sechrist was born on his father's farm,
and followed farming all his life. He was sent
to the common schools, and when older Avas
employed by his father to haul the whiskey to
Baltimore. When he married he settled on the m
homestead, and lived there fifty-six years, at ■
the end of that time, selling the place, 149 acres, ■
and moving to Red Lion, where he died in 1901,
aged eighty-eight. He was a lifelong Demo-
crat, but would never accept office. He first
joined the United Brethren Church, but aft-
erward united with the Evangelical Church, in
which he was a trustee for many years. He
was a devout Christian, who carried his faith
into all practical dealings. He married Miss
Susan Fry, daughter of Jacob Fry. Mrs. Se-
christ is still living, now aged eighty-three;
she has been a life long and active member of
the Evangelical Church. The children born to



their union were : Henry F., farmer in Cliance-
ford townsliip, married to Miss Sarah Recliard ;
Jacob, a farmer and supervisor of Dallastown,
who married Mrs. Mary Schall ; Amos, for-
merly a farmer, now a cigar manufacturer at
Red Lion, who married Miss Sarah Craley;
Leah, Mrs. Ertanuel Stabley, deceased in the
summer of 1904; Lizzie, unmarried; James,
who married Miss' Delia Rechard, and is an
Evangelical preacher at Berwick, Pa. ; Steven
S., who married Miss Susan Stine, and is one
of the proprietors of the Porto Rico Cigar Fac-
tory at Red Lion ; William, who died at the age
of eight; John F.

John F. Sechrist was educated in the town-
ship schools, where his first teacher was Jacob
Crumbling, and his last his own brother, Steven
S. He left school at the age of fifteen, but had
made good use of all his time there. During
vacations, and until he was twenty-one years
old, he worked on the farm for his father, and
for the following four years, after his marriage,
he remained there, farming it on the shares. He
then removed to Freysville, the former home of
his wife, bought three and a half acres from his
father-in-law, built a home and a cigar factory,
with other buildings, and started out for him-
self. The original factory was 18x26 feet,
two stories in height, but three years later an
addition was put on', 18 x 24 feet, and in 1892
another, 18 x 24 feet. Employing at first six
hands, Mr. Sechrist, in 1903, had fifty-two em-
ployes, and his output is 2,000.000 cigars an-
nually, which are shipped to all parts of the
country. He manufactures ten-cent brands,
five-cent ones, and two for five. In addition to
his own factory, he has controlled as many as
seven others. Mr. Sechrist has made his own
way entirely, for when he started he was
obliged to laorrow the money to put up his
buildings. For three' years he himself made
cigars, but now he has simply the management
of the establishment, which is a splendid wit-
ness to his industry, good management and fair
dealing. So exactly does he live up to all his
agreements, that when a customer is once made
his permanent t^ade is assured.

Mr. Sechrist was married, Aug. 25, 1885,
by the Rev. Lenhart, to Miss Emma Jane
Stine, daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth (Crum-
bling) Stine, and she a member of one of
York county's oldest families. The chil-
dren born to this imion numbered four :
Gertrude Irene; Carrie, who died aged
thirteen; Miaude; and Helen M. The family

is connected with the Freysville Lutheran
Church, in which Mr. Sechrist has been a dea-
con for six years, and where he continues the
Sunday-school work which in one form or an-
other has been uninterrupted since his child-
hood. As a boy of fifteen he united with the
Evangelical Church at his native place, and on
removing to Freysville, he transferred his mem-
bership to the Freysville Evangelical. After
another year, however, he changed again from
that to the Luther-an Church, which he now
attends. In politics Mr. Sechrist is a Demo-
crat, he casting his first vote for President
Cleveland. He is a member of Katahdin
Lodge, No. 560, I. O. O. F., and Red Lion En-

been a justice of the peace in Red Lion for
the past twenty years, was born Feb. 15, 1857,
in 1820 they sailed for the United States,
near Anstine's mill, now owned by John Myer.

The Herrman family is of Swiss extraction.
Peter Herrman, the grandfather of Jonathan
B., was born in Switzerland, in the city of
Berne, where he studied and later followed the
practice of medicine, continuing that profes-
sion after coming to America. Peter Herr-
man married Sarah Elliker in Switzerland and
in 1820 they sailed for the United States.
One child was added to the family during the
voyage, and was named Martha Magdalena,
the latter in honor of the ship so named which
brought them safely into the port of Baltimore
after a stormy passage of six weeks. Peter
Herrman later became a preacher, first in the
U. B. Church and later in the Lutheran
Church, in the latter connection preaching at
Freysville, Kreutz Creek and other points. His
death occurred after a life of good works, and
he was interred in Staley's Church cemetery,
in North Hopewell township. His children
were: John M., deceased, who was a homeo-
pathic physician at Windsor; Elizabeth, de-
ceased, Mrs. Shade, of Baltimore. Md. ; Mar-
tha M., Mrs. John Fry, of Windsor township;
Frederic, who died in Peach Bottom town-
ship; Susan, widow of Jacob Jones, of Balti-
more, Md. ; Samuel E., father of Jonathan
B. ; Anna, Mrs. William Stewart, who died
in Baltimore; Mrs. Joseph Jamison, of Balti-
more; and William O., who died at Delta,
York county, in 1904.

Samuel E. Herrman was born in 1831, at
Baltimore Md., and resided there during his


early boyhood. During the time his father
^vas connected with the U. B. Conference the
family lived in Baltimore, but after he be-
came associated with the Lutheran Church he
was stationed at different points, and the chil-
dren attended school wherever he was set-
-tled. Samuel learned the trade of a brick-
layer, but he was early convinced of the truths
of religion and became a preacher at Windsor-
ville and in the surrounding neighborhood.
Later he joined the religious body known as
the Church of God and preached at Duncan-
non and in other sections of the State, always
impressing those who heard him with his sin-
cerity. Late in life he retired to Red Lion,
where he died in 1902. He was a lifelong-

Samuel E. Herrman married Sarah Bull,
who was born in 1832, in Lebanon county.
Pa., and who still survives. She was brought
.to this county when young, her father, Jona-
than Bull, being a son of English parents.
When a young' man he engaged in freighting
from Philadelphia to Pittsburg, and at one
time was the manager of Margaretta Furnace, '
in York county. For some years he engaged
in charcoal burning in Lebanon and York
counties. His death occurred on his farm in
Lower Windsor township in the year 1878, at
■the age of seventy-seven years. His wife, who
was of Scotch descent, was Elizabeth Doug-
las, born in Lancaster county, Pa., in 1809,
and dying in 1885. The children of Samuel
E. Herrman and his wife were : Jonathan B. ;
Lizzie, Mrs. R. T. Smith, of Red Lion; Syl-
vester J., of Red Lion, who married Ida Hein-
■del, since deceased ; Elmer E., of Steelton, who
married Frances A. McAUister; Sarah, Mrs.
M. F. Harlan, of Steelton; Maggie, deceased;
Samuel H., of Red Lion, who married Susan
Howard; and Walter J., of York, who mar-
ried Bertha McGuigan.

Jonathan B. Herrman was educated
mainly in the Windsorville school, where he
continued until the age of twelve years, when
his grandfather removed to Lower Windsor
township and he was able to attend the Neiman
school, taught by a brother of Dr. Gable of
York. At the age of twenty years he finished
his education, his last teacher being Greer
Barnett. Mr. Herrman was reared from in-
fancy to manhood by his grandfather Bull.
The discussion over his name, when he was an
infant, caused some friction between the two

excellent men, his father and his maternal
grandfather. The latter wished the child named
lor him, Jonathan Bull, but the former, who
was a strong Democrat, wished the middle
name to be Buchanan, in honor of James
Buchanan. The two could not agree on this
matter, but finally compromised on the initial
B, without further ending. Jonathan B. Herr-
man remained at work on the farm until the
age of twenty-one and then married and settled
in Lower Windsor township, where he fol-
lowed the trade of brick-laying which he had
learned from his father. He resided there
until 1883, when he removed to Red Lion,
and was again employed at his trade until the
duties of the various offices to which he was
elected otherwise occupied his time. In 1884
he was elected a member of the town council,
serving thus three years, and the following
two as clerk of that body. In 1886 he was
elected as a justice of the peace, and his re-
election and continuous service demonstrate
very clearly the value set upon his ability by
his fellow-citizens. He has been a prominent
citizen since locating at Red Lion, serving four
years as a. school director and three years as
secretary of the school board, and taking an
active part in all the important public matters
arising to be decided by the suffrages of the
people. He has always been identified with
the Democratic party.

Judge Herrman was reared in the U. B.
Church in boyhood, but later attended the serv-
ices of the M. E. Church and for five years
was secretary of the Sunday-school. He has
always been a liberal donator to all religious
enterprises and charitable objects. He was in-
terested for a time in the newspaper business,
on Sept. 23, 1892, issuing the first number of
the Red Lion Press, in partnership with W. L.
Lock, and being succeeded by his eldest son,
in 1901.

On April 26, 1877, in Lower Windsor
township, Jonathan B. Hen-man married Miss
Jennie Kinaird, daughter of the late Henry
and Elizabeth (Kauffman) Kinaird, and they
have children as follows : Claude, a successful
young business man ; Pearl, Mrs. Harry Neff,
of Red Lion ; Minerva, and Nellie.

In fraternal life Judge Herrman has ever
been a very prominent factor in York county.
Fie is a member of Zeredatha Lodge, No. 451,
A. F. & A. M. At the age of twenty-one he
joined Lodge No. 944, I. O. O. F., has been



a member of York Encampment, Xo. 67, for
some years, and is past chief patriarch in that
body. In 1887 he organized Katahdin Lodge,
No. 560, I. O. O. F., of Red Lion, in which
he is past grand, has belonged to Red Lion En-
campment for the past decade, now holding
the position of past chief patriarch in the or-
ganization, and belongs to Salome Lodge, of
the Daughters of Rebekah, of York. He is
also a member of Red Lion Council, No. 125,
of the O. U. A. M. In public, fraternal and
social life he stands as one of the representa-
tive men of this section of York county, being
widely known and held in universal esteem.
He has administered impartial justice for
many years, has set an example of good citi-
zenship and public spirit, and has made a record
for himself that reflects credit upon himself
and upon his community.

senior member of Oermann & Blaebaum, of
York, Pa., although comparatively a young
man, has made his mark in the business world.
He was born March 21, 1863, in the Prussian
province of Westphalia, Germany, at the village
of Buttendorf, near Lubbecke, son of Heinrich
and Anna Maria (Sieker) Oermann. The
parents of Mr. Oermann were farming people
in Germany. Two brothers of Heinrich Oer-
mann came to York: William A., a shoe-
maker, in 1846, who died in 1875, leaving five
sons and one daughter; and Chaides, a farmer,
who died in 1896, leaving a son and daughter.
Casper H. Oermann is the second sen of his
parents, the other members of the family be-
ing Heinrich, a farmer of Westphal'a ; Will-
iam H., a painter and contractor at York, and
Carl, who died in 1886 and was buried in
Prospect Hill cemetery.

While the Prussian provinces do not af-
ford as good business opportunities to ambi-
tious young men as does America, in many
ways the public schools are better, and when
Casper H. Oermann had completed his educa-
tion in the local institutions, he had a thorough
knowledge of the branches taught. In 1881 he
decided to join his uncle at York, Pa., being
then eighteen j^ears of age. From the port of
New York he came directly to that city and
soon found work there as a carpenter, a trade
he had learned in Germany. This he followed
until 1894, when he embarked in his present
business of contracting and building, entering

into a partnership with another practical man
in the business. In addition to a great deal
of firm work, Mr. Oermann has done much
individually in the way of erecting houses for
sale, some twenty-five in number. These are
all well constr-ucted, modern in style and add
to the attractiveness of the localities in which
they are built. He is looked upon as one of
the first-class men in his line in this part of
York county. His own beautiful residence
at No. 17 Carlisle avenue was built in 1898,
and is a model of modern convenience.

Mr. Oermann was married April 16, 1884,
to Wilhelmina Moellering, who was born in
Westphalia and came to York in 1880. She
is a daughter of Heinrich and Catherine
(Brockman) Moellering, deceased. The chil-
dren of Mr. and Mrs. Oermann are as follows :
Anna, born May 13, 1886; Henry, born April
18, 1888, who is attending Concordia College
at Hawthorne, Westchester Co., N. Y., in prep-
aration for the ministry of the German Luther-
an Church in the Missouri Synod; William,
born Sept. 25, 1890, a student in the same col-
lege; Carl, born Aug. 23, 1892; Clara, born
Aug. 27, 1894, and Edward, born March 24,
1899. Mr. Oermann has been one of the
leading members and liberal supporters of St.
John's Evangelical Lutheran Church of York

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