Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals by Morton Montgomery


p. 391


Hiram J. Bigony, a prominent and influential citizen of Mohnton, Pa., engaged in the manufacture of hosiery, was born June 1, 1862, at Sanatoga, Montgomery Co., Pa., son of William W. and Mary L. (Weida) Bigony.

The spelling of the name Bigony was formerly Bigonet or Pichonet, and the seat of the family was in Languedoc, France. The first of the name here was Jean Bigonet, a native of the city of Nimes, who came in 1752. On May 27, 1753, he as married Germantown, Pa., to Catherine Elizabeth, the widow of Henry Ozias. I 773 arrived Francois P. Bigonet, who located in the Falkner Swamp in Montgomery county, Pa., where he married Maria Brant in 1779. They had children: Joseph, grandfather of Hiram J.: Mary, m. to Isaac Yost; Susan, m. to George Rinehart; and a third daughter, who was killed while still young on her way home for Philadelphia.

Joseph Bigony was born in Montgomery county, Nov. 14, 1790, and died Oct. 7, 1869. For some years he lived in Amity township, Berks county, but later he returned to Sanatoga, Montgomery county, where he died. He was prosperous farmer and also did some driving and auctioneering, making occasional trips to Canada for cattle. On Dec. 15, 1811, he married Rachel Worley, born Sept. 17, 1791, who died aged seventy-five years, seven months, twenty days, daughter of Henry Worley, of Pottstown. Their children were: Francis, born July 25, 1814, John, Feb. 26, 1816; Joseph, March 1, 1818; Mary Ann, March 11, 1820; Henry, Feb. 27, 1822; Leah, Sept. 17, 1824 (residing at Alden Station, Pa.); Hiram and Ephraim, twins, March 9, 1828; Frank, Sept. 7, 1830; and Reuben and William, twins, Dec. 24, 1832.

William W. Bigony, father of Hiram J., was born in Amity township, and when a young man learned the tanning trade of his brother, Joseph, of Longswamp township. This he followed or about twenty-five years, and in 1869-71 was engaged in the hotel business at Alburtis, Lehigh county, and Monterey, Berks county. In 1872 he removed to Greenwich township on a small farm near Grimville, and he engaged in the droving business there until his retirement in 1902, when he removed to Edison, Cumru township, where he died Nov. 15, 1905, aged nearly seventy-four years. He was a well known cattle dealer of his day, and also was very successful as an auctioneer. On Feb. 12, 1860, Mr. Bigony married Mary L. Weida, born May 31, 1836, in Longswamp township, and still living, daughter of Daniel and Eliza (Weiler) Weida. To this union there were born children as follows: Annie died in 1880, aged nineteen years; Hiram J.; Sallie, born May 22, 1864, is single; Ella died in infancy; Lizzie, born Jan. 8, 1866, is unmarried; William F., born March 1, 1868, is an insurance agent and resides in Reading; John died in infancy; Emma, born Oct. 29, 1874; and Mary, born Sept. 29, 1877

Hiram J. Bigony was educated in the public schools, the Keystone State Normal School and the Eastman Business College, graduating from the latter in 1892. His boyhood days were spent on his father's farm near Grimville, and at an early age he began teaching school in Greenwich township, where he continued successfully for seven consecutive terms. In 1889 he came to Cumru township, receiving an advanced salary, and taught in that township for thirteen years, meeting with flattering success. Professor Bigony was the instructor of the Mohnton grammar school for ten terms, and holds a State teacher's permanent certificate. While a teacher in Greenwich and Cumru townships, Mr. Bigony was instrumental in organizing debating societies, which were largely attended, doing much good in their various localities. Mr. Bigony was himself an excellent debater, being quick-witted, logical and forceful in the presentation of his arguments.

From youth on Mr. Bigony assisted his father in the cattle business, and in this manner came into contact with business men throughout Eastern Pennsylvania. In the spring of 1903 he formed a partnership with John and Charles Richwein, of Mohnton, under the firm name of Electric Hosiery Company, manufacturers of seamless hosiery. They erected a plant 24 X 68 feet, two stories high, and here employ forty-five people, their product being 200 dozen daily, which find a ready market throughout the country. In January, 1906, Mr. Bigony was elected a director of the Wyomissing Hosiery Mills of Mohnton, of which he was later made treasurer and general superintendent, and this well established firm has two mills. The plant at Mohnton is 30 X 100 feet, three stories high, and employs sixty people, while the other plant, at Rheinholds, Lancaster county, is 30 X 50 feet, two stories high, and has thirty hands.

In 1895 Mr. Bigony built a modern, two-story brick residence on Chestnut Street, Mohnton, where he resided until 1905, and in this year moved into his present residence on Wyomissing avenue, which as a gray sandstone from and bay windows. In politics Mr. Bigony is a non-partisan, voting independently. He was prominently identified with the incorporation of Mohnton into a borough and was chairman at different meetings, doing much in behalf of the movement. Fraternally he is connected with the Knights of Pythias, No. 485; P. O. S. of A., No. 211, and Sr. O. U. A. M., all of Mohnton.

On Oct. 2, 1894, Mr. Bigony married Lizzie H. Weidner, daughter of John Y. and Catherine (Hornberger) Weidner, a complete sketch of whom will be found elsewhere. To this union there were born three children, as follows: E. Madeline, born Feb. 1, 1896; Blanche, Dec. 12, 1901; and Warren W., Aug. 23, 1905 (died Nov. 23, 1905). Mr. Bigony and his family are members of Zion's United Evangelical Church, of Mohnton, of which he has been a trustee since 1906. He and his wife are also members of the Sunday-school, and take a great interest in the work of the organization, being cheerful and liberal givers of both time and money. Mr. Bigony is considered one of the borough's good substantial men, and he enjoys an enviable reputation for honesty and integrity. On April 30, 1907, he was elected a member of the school board, and is now serving as secretary of that board.


p. 1321


William Bingaman, whose death occurred in Reading, Jan. 2, 1901, was known to the people of the city for many years as a proprietor of tonsorial parlors. He was born in 1822, at the corner of Eighth and Walnut streets, Reading, son of Peter and Mary (Oswalt) Bingaman. Peter Bingaman was a weaver by trade, and followed that occupation throughout his life. He had these children: Jacob, Peter, Charles, David, William, Catherine, Mary, Elizabeth and Margaret.

William Bingaman received his education in the public schools of Reading, and when a young man learned the barber trade which he followed throughout life. In 1842 he first engaged in business on Penn street, below Seventh and later on the South side. For a period of twenty years he conducted a place of business at No. 718 Penn street, where he became very well known. Failing health came on and Mr. Bingaman was forced to make a change of location, he therefore selecting Exeter township as his field. He purchased a small tract of land there, and after two and one-half years, his health having returned, he came again to Reading and opened a shop at No. 122 South Eighth street. Later he removed to 343 North Eighth street, where he continued until his retirement about twenty years prior to his death, at the age of seventy-nine years. Mr. Bingaman was buried at the Charles Evans cemetery.

On May 27, 1845, Mr. Bingaman was married to Rebecca Graul, born Dec. 7, 1823, daughter of George and Elizabeth (Ege) Graul. George Graul was a bricklayer by trade, and assisted in building the old freight depot of the P. & R. Co., which is still standing. Mr. and Mrs. Bingaman became the parents of these children: Emma, the wife of Harry Morris; Charles C., superintendent of the Steam Heat Co., of Allentown; Mary A., deceased; Elizabeth, a graduate of the Reading High School, class of 1871, and now a teacher at the Tenth and Washington streets public school; Thomas, who is engaged in the barber business on Count street, near Sixth, m. Martha Scull; Annie A., the wife of M. Luther Stroh, who is employed at the Scott works; and Katie R., who died at the age of seventeen years. Mrs. Bingaman still survives her husband and resides at the Eighth street home.


p. 326


Mark Bird, distinguished ironmaster and patriot of Berks county, was a son of William Bird, on of the most prominent iron men of Berks county from 1740 to 1762, whose works were situated near the mouth of Hay creek, in Union township. He was born at that place in January, 1939, and learned to carry on the iron business. After his father's death in 1762, he took charge of the estate, and by partition proceedings in the Orphans' court came to own the properties, which consisted of 3,000 acres of land, three forges, a grist mill, and a saw mill. About that time he laid out a town there and named it Birdsboro. By the time the Revolution broke out, he had enlarged his possessions very much, and come to be one of the richest and most enterprising men in this section of the State. The recorder's office shows that he also owned at different times various properties at Reading.

In the popular demonstrations at Reading for the Revolution, he took an active part. At the meeting Dec. 5, 1774, he was selected as one of the committee on Observation, recommended by Congress, and Jan. 2, 1775, he was chosen one of the delegates to the Provincial Conference, and placed on the committee of Correspondence. He was also prominently identified with the military movements, having in 1775 and 1776 served as lieutenant-colonel of the 2d Battalion of the county militia, which was formed out of companies in the vicinity of Birdsboro. In August, 1776, as a colonel, he fitted out 300 men of his battalion with uniform, tents, and provisions at his own expense. They were in service at, or near, South Amboy in the fall of 1776, and may have constituted a part of the "Flying Camp." In 1775 and 1776 he officiated as one of the judges of the County courts. In 1785 his landed possessions in Berks county included eight thousand acres, upon which were the extensive iron works at Birdsboro, and also the Hopewell Furnace on Sixpenny creek, which he had erected about 1765. And it is said that he owned large property interest in New Jersey and Maryland. About 1788, he removed to North Carolina, where he died some years afterward. He married Mary Ross, daughter of Rev. George Ross. He was the brother-in-law of Edward Biddle; and also of George Ross, of Lancaster, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. His own signature is herewith reproduced. (122-1405 Birch, Prof. Robert Smith.


p. 1405


Professor Robert Smith Birch was born in Reading, Pa., July 17, 1877. His father, for a quarter of a century proprietor of the "American House," the well-known hostelry situated at the corner of Fourth and Penn streets, is of Scotch descent, and his mother, whose maiden name was Sarah Kissinger, of German birth.

Robert S. Birch attended the public schools of Reading until the age of seventeen years, when he graduated from the Boys' High School with highest distinction, and at the commencement exercises of that year delivered the class oration. In September of the same year he entered Princeton College, where for four consecutive years he pursued the academic course, and in June, 1898, received the degree of A. B., graduating magna cum laude, with high honors in classics. He was a member of the Cliosophic Literary Society and at graduation was elected into the Phi Beta Kappa fraternity. In June, 1898, he accepted a position in the Boys' High School of his native city, to teach classics and history, which position he filled with a great measure of success until June, 1902, when he was elected principal of this school to succeed Charles S. Foos, the latter gentleman having been elected superintendent of schools of the city of Reading. Since that time Professor Birch has been in charge of the school, which has an enrollment of nearly 500 pupils, and a teaching force of twelve. The school has progressed favorably under his administration. Many of its graduates go to college, being admitted on certificate. In September, 1906, the school was removed to the new building recently erected by the Board of Education at a cost of nearly $400,000. Here, the school should reach a very high standard of efficiency and compare favorably with other and even larger high schools of the country.

In August, 1904, Professor Robert Smith Birch and Miss Edith A. White were united in marriage, and to this union has been born one child, Robert White Birch. Mr. and Mrs. Birch make their home at No. 318 Windsor street, Reading.


p . 760


Philip Bissinger, president and manager of the Reading Brewing Company and founder of the Bissinger Caf, was born Jan. 24, 1842, in Duerkheim, Germany, and received his preliminary education at that place, where he lived until he was thirteen years of age. He then accompanied his parents in their emigration to America, landing at the port of New York. He attended private schools at Lancaster, Pa., for several years, and then secured a position as clerk which he filled until he enlisted for service in the Civil war, on Sept. 19, 1861, for the term of three years. He became sergeant-major of the 79th Regiment, P. V. I.; was promoted to first lieutenant of Company F in January, 1863, and to captain in December, 1863, having command of the company until Sept. 12, 1864, when he resigned.

Picture of Phillip BissingerShortly after returning home Captain Bissinger removed to Reading, and on Jan. 1, 1866, established a saloon and restaurant at No. 611 Penn street, which he soon developed into the most popular resort at Reading. His success was extraordinary from the start, and in 1882 he purchased the property, making extensive improvements to accommodate the increasing demands of his patronage; and in 1890 he erected a large four-story brick building for offices and halls and storage purposes on the rear of the lot at Court street. By this time the "Bissinger Caf" had a reputation for superiority and first-class catering which extended throughout the State and nation. Numerous banquets came to be held there in celebration of events in the history of societies of all kinds, more particularly of a fraternal, political and musical nature, and in honor of popular and prominent individuals; and visiting strangers and travelers from all parts of the world found satisfactory entertainment. After having operated the caf for thirty years, until 1895, he sold the business to a faithful employe and manger for many years, Wellington B. Krick, and then retired to enable him and his wife to take a long-anticipated trip to Europe, and for nearly a year they visited the prominent centers there.

In 1886 Captain Bissinger encouraged the establishment of another brewery at Reading, and with the aid of local capitalists succeeded in organizing the Reading Brewing Company. He became the first manger of the plant and filled the position for three years, having in this time secured a large patronage from the community and made the new enterprise a success. In 1897, upon his return from Europe, he resumed his active interest in this company as a director, and in 1898 became its president and general manager; and he has served the company in these responsible positions until the present time, having in the past ten years developed its annual production from 17,000 barrels to 75,000, remodeled the plant entirely, and made it one of the finest brewing establishments in the country in point of equipment and sanitation.

For over forty years Captain Bissinger was prominently identified with the Masonic fraternity. He was chiefly instrumental in establishing Rajah Temple at Reading in 1892, and the plans for its unique and attractive hall, erected in 1904, were designed by him. He has also been prominently connected with the Grand Army of the Republic (Keim Post, No. 76), Loyal Legion, Veteran Legion, and Army of the Cumberland. In 1891 the city councils selected him as the park commissioner for the northeast division of the city and he officiated in this position until 1897, when he removed his residence to the southeast division, where he had erected a fine home on Mineral Spring road.

But it was in the musical culture of Reading that Captain Bissinger was especially influential and successful for a period of twenty years, from 1864-1883. Immediately after locating at Reading, he became a member of the Reading Maennerchor, and the society, appreciating his great talent and enthusiasm, selected him to be its assistant musical director. He filled this position with remarkable success for some years,and then the society united with the Harmonic Gesangverein, another and older musical organization at Reading. In the reorganization of the two societies, the name Harmononie Maennerchor was adopted and Captain Bissinger was selected as the musical director of the new society. His recognized ability as a leader, together with his popularity and sociability, soon won increasing support and encouragement, and the society's concerts at Reading and other cities were highly appreciated and largely patronized. He continued to serve as the director until 1879, when he declined a re-election. During this time he was also interested in the Germania Orchestra and aided materially in its successful reorganization. In 1876, by special invitation, the Harmonie Maennerchor and the Germania Orchestra attended the United States Centennial at Philadelphia and rendered a program of classical selections in a superb manner, for which they were given high praise by leading musicians of this country and also foreign countries. In October, 1878, the society held a bazaar for a week in its commodious hall and evidenced the superior ability of its members and the efficiency and popularity of its members and the efficiency and popularity of its director. The numerous musical numbers were specially prepared by Captain Bissinger for the occasion, which involved extraordinary labors, patience and perseverance. In 1879, he organized the Philharmonic Society and directed its admirable concerts until 1883, when he was obliged to devote his entire attention to his own business affairs.

In 1880, Captain Bissinger married Ida Sebald Rosenthal (daughter of William Rosenthal, proprietor an publisher of German newspapers at Reading for forty years), who was graduated from the Reading Girls High School in 1865, and in 1871 taught the French and German languages there.

George Bissinger, his father, was a native of Germany, and after his emigration located at Baltimore, Md., about 1855, and there followed the teaching of music until his decease, in 1866.


p. 1642


Henry Bitler, whose death occurred on his farm in Robeson township, Dec. 2, 1902, was for many years engaged in agricultural pursuits in that locality, where he was well known and highly esteemed. He was born on the farm now occupied by his son, John Bitler, near Beckersville, Oct. 22, 1833, son of Daniel and Eva Bitler.

Daniel Bitler, Sr., grandfather of Henry, was born in Robeson township, where in after years he became the owner of the now well known Robeson Dairy Farm of 214 acres. He was a Methodist in religion and a Whig in politics. Of his children are John (m. Susan Bixler, and had two children, Mary and Elizabeth); Jacob (m. Margaret Wamsher, and had two children, now deceased); Daniel; Elisha (m. Ellen Wolf, and had eight children, Samuel, Sarah A., Eliza, David, Elias, Ellen, William H. and one that died young); David never married: Michael (m. Elizabeth Kachel, and had one child, Elizabeth); Henry (m. Mary A. Kennedy, and had two children, George W. and Mary); Charles (m. Christian Geiger, and had one child, Elizabeth); Polly (m. Silas Yocom); and Abigail (m. Eli Dickinson).

Daniel Bitler, son of. Daniel, Sr., married Eva Freese, and became the father of eleven children, as follows: Levi; John; Samuel; Henry; Michael; Mary; Hannah; Eva A.; Elizabeth; Christiana and Daniel.

Henry Bitler, son of Daniel, secured his education in the common schools of Robeson township, and was reared to farm pursuits. On reaching maturity he engaged in farming on his own account, purchasing a farm of fifty acres, a part of the old Jonathan Seidle estate, which he cultivated until his death. During the Civil war he enlisted in the Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, served his term and received his honorable discharge. Mr. Bitler was known as a man of sterling integrity, and was elected by his fellow townsmen to the office of school director. In politics he was a Republican, and his religious faith was that of the Lutheran Church.

Mr. Bitler married Rebecca M. Haws, daughter of Samuel Haws, and to this union were born two children: John H., who lives on the original homestead, m. Lillian McGowan, and has one son, Henry; and Mamie E., living on her father's farm, m. John Kurtz, and has one child, Christian M.


p. 907


W. H. Bitler, an auctioneer, merchant and justice of the peace of Gibraltar, Pa., where he is known as a representative and substantial citizen, was born March 14, 1844, in Robeson township, Berks county, son of Elisha and Ellen (Wolf) Bitler.

Daniel Bitler, grandfather of W. H., was a native of Robeson township, where he owned a farm of 214 acres of land, now known as the Robeson Dairy Farm. There his death occurred. He and his wife were Methodists in their religious belief. Their children were: John married Susan Bixler, and had two children, Mary and Elizabeth; Jacob m. Margaret Wamsher, and had two children, both of whom are now deceased; Daniel m. Eva Freese, and had eleven children, Levi, John, Samuel, Henry, Michael, Mary, Hannah, Eva A., Elizabeth, Christiana and Daniel; Elisha; David was never married; Michael m. Elizabeth Kachel, and had one child, Susanna; Henry m. Mary A. Kennedy, and had two children, George W., and Mary (m. Simon Clouser); Charles m. Christian Geiger, and had one child, Elizabeth; Polly m. Silas Yocum; and Abigail m. Eli Dickinson. In politics Daniel Bitler, the father, was a stanch Whig.

Elisha Bitler, father of W. H., was educated in the schools of Robeson township, and remained on the home farm until eighteen years of age, when he learned the wheelwright's trade, an occupation which he followed in connection with farming practically all of his life. He died in 1889, at the age of eighty-nine years, and his wife, Ellen Wolf, in 1874. He was a Republican in politics, and for some years served as township auditor. Eight children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Bitler, seven of whom grew to maturity; Samuel, deceased, m. Jane O'Neil and had children, Elias (now deceased), Benjamin, Heber, William, Jacob, Mary E. and Annie; Sarah A. m. William Hagy and had children, Mary E., Emma C., Anna E., William K, Sarah J., Harry B. and Irvin; Eliza m. John Wells and had three children, Scott, Lydia and Sally; David m. Mary Keim, and had children, Clara, Annie, Florence, George, Elizabeth, Sally, David and Nellie; Elias m. Mary Stauffer, and had children, Charles, William, Edward, Elmer, David and Heber; Ellen m. Daniel Z. Kline, and had three children, Emma, Harvey and George, M. D.; and William H. In religious belief the family were Methodists.

William H. Bitler was educated in the schools of Robeson township, where he taught for a period of fourteen years. He left home at the age of eighteen years to attend Chester Academy, and he later took a course at the Keystone State Normal School. Engaging with the Seyfert McManus Iron Company, he worked as puddler, but after several years he returned to farming, which he made his chief occupation until 1901. He accumulated a fine property of seventy-two acres, in Robeson township, and in this year purchased the grocery stock of J. J. Eshelman, at whose old stand he has since carried on a successful general mercantile business. Since 1877 he has served as an auctioneer. A stanch Republican in politics Mr. Bitler was commissioned a justice of the peace in 1884. He and his family are Methodists. He is fraternally connected with Union Lodge, F. & A. M., of Birdsboro, Pa., and Washington Camp No. 592, P. O. S. of A.

On Jan 16, 1868, Mr. Bitler married Lucinda Kennedy, daughter of Thomas Kennedy, and eight children have been born to this union: Laura m. B. F. Hohl, and has five children, Alice, Annie, Mabel, Willie and Laura; Charles m. Annie Moyer, and has two children, Beulah and Oralea; Britton m. Minnie O'Neal, and has one child, Hazel B.; Annie m. Harry Peiffer, and has three children, Harry, Emily and Bessie; Elizabeth m. George O. Starke, and has children, Warren, Lester, Ruth, David, Naomi and Mathew; Mary m. Lewis Hadley, and has three sons, George W., Lester and Noble; William K. m. Sallie Lebo, and has one son, Matthew W.; and Harry B. m. Gussie Moyer, and has one son, Russell M.


p. 970


John Bitting, a well-to-do retired citizen of Shillington, Berks county, who was for over forty years a resident of the old Bitting homestead in Cumru township, was born July 25, 1828, four miles south of Sunbury, Northumberland Co.. Pa., son of Jacob and Sarah (Rothermel) Bitting.

Johannes Bitting, grandfather of John, was born May 18, 1764, and died Sept. 25, 1829. He was a prosperous farmer and owned the old stand which consisted of some of the best land in the township. The Bitting farm was a valuable property, nicely located, with good water, near the market on the Lancaster pike, and the place was supplied with good buildings, which greatly enhanced its appearance. Johannes Bitting's wife, Maria, was born Dec. 22, 1766, and died Oct. 3, 1849. They had children as follows: Daniel, born April 2, 1788, died Oct 3, 1849, married Susan Moyer (born April 25, 1786, died March 25, 1852), daughter of Michael and Elizabeth Moyer, and they owned and occupied the old homestead; Susan, born April 15, 1793, died unmarried July 23, 1856; Philip, born Dec. 1, 1795, died unmarried Feb. 1, 1824; Jacob; and Peter, born Oct. 13, 1799, died July 2, 1875, married Maria Elizabeth (born April 20, 1803, died July 25, 1895). Johannes Bitting and his wife had five children: Daniel, Susan, Philip, Jacob and Peter, and the sons' wives, and some of Johannes' grandchildren are buried in a private burying ground, which is situated on the old home farm and surrounded by a wall four feet high.

Jacob Bitting, father of John, was born on the Bitting homestead in Cumru township, Dec. 10, 1797, and died Jan. 13, 1879. For some years he lived in Northumberland county, and later removed to Dauphin county, where he farmed for seven years. He then located in Perry county, where he kept a hotel for two years, after which he located on the old Bitting homestead in Cumru township, where he died in comfortable circumstances. Mr. Bitting married Sarah Rothermel (born Jan. 2, 1802, died June 8, 1876), daughter of Peter and Magdalena (Saeger) Rothermel. Their children were: (1) Jeremiah, an attorney of the Berks County Bar, and from 1859 to 1862 high sheriff of Berks county, was a man of commanding appearance, tall and well.built; he died in Philadelphia after the Civil war. (2) Elizabeth m. Daniel Krum. (3) Charles died young. (4) Harriet m. John Fisher, and died Dec. 18, 1906, aged eighty-three years, twenty-one days. (5) Mary m. George Rebholtz. (6) John. (7) Jacob and (8) Reuben died in Reading. (9) Ellen m. Peter Hebener. (10) Susan m. (first) Peter Zimmerman, and (second) Robert Harner.

John Bitting attended school in Perry county, and in 1848 came with his parents to Berks county, where until 1892 he was engaged in farming. In this year he removed to Shillington, and there has made his home to the present time. In 1890 he sold to William J. Irwin his farm of 102 acres near the Kurtz House. To these lands the Bittings had held title for many years. Mr. Bitting is a hale and hearty, vivacious old gentleman, a pleasing conversationalist, and a well-known stockman and breeder of horses. To him and his son, Frank W., must be given much credit for the present interest displayed in the Shillington race track, for it is largely due to their efforts that the sport is in such a flourishing condition. Among the horses bred by Mr. Bitting may be mentioned: "Prince B.," 2:26 1/2, at Allentown, for which Mr. Bitting refused $1,200; "Brush Horse," 2:35, at Reading, bred by "Schaeffer Pony"; "Little Dan," 2:34, at Three Mile House, Shillington, Pa.; "Ida," 2:32 1/2, at Manheim, Lancaster Co., Pa., and "Cedar Allen," stallion, 2:48, at Kutztown Fair, bred from the well known western horse, "The Cedar Allen of the West." All of these horses were trained by Mr. Bitting, and were driven either by him or by his son, Frank W. In political matters Mr. Bitting is a Democrat.

Mr. Bitting married Elizabeth Worley, daughter of John Worley, and to this union were born: Emma m. Joseph Hassler; John died in 1904, aged fifty years; Mary m. Charles W. Berg, a dairyman of Cumru township; Irwin m. Clara Hartman; Amanda m. David Brensinger; Frank W. m. Bessie Potteiger; Lillie m. James Miller; William m. Mattie Adams; Alice m. Elmer Yoder; Wellington m. Katie Schnabel; Ella m. Dr. M. Luther Huyett, a well known young physician of Shillington; and Charles m. Bertha Curley.

Frank W. Bitting was born March 23, 1862, and was educated in the township schools, which he left at the age of sixteen years. He was then reared on the homestead, and until twenty-eight years of age he worked for his father. In 1890 he located in Shillington and engaged in training horses, which he has followed with great success to the present time, having trained fully 200 horses, and being known throughout the State as an excellent judge of horse flesh. Among the fast animals that have been trained by Mr. Bitting may be mentioned the following: "Grace C.," 2:11 1/4; "Jenny Gratten," 2:11 1/4; "Rockey P.," 2:10 1/2; and "Kid Colyer," 2:16 1/4. When he was but fifteen years of age he drove his father's "Ida" to 2:32 1/2 at Manheim, then considered very good time, having driven the same mare before in her first race at Kutztown, which she won.

Mr. Bitting was married Dec. 17, 1895, to Bessie C. Potteiger, daughter of Jacob and Eliza (Shannaman) Potteiger (the latter a daughter of John Shannaman), and granddaughter of Jacob and Christian (Minnich) Potteiger (the latter a daughter of Adam Minnich). Mr. Bitting is a member of Lodge No. 485, Knights of Pythias, of Mohnton; Aerie No. 65, F. O. E., of Reading; Shillington Council, No. 186, O. of I. A. Like his father he is a Democrat. He is a good citizen of Cumru township, and was very much interested in the incorporation of Shillington into a borough. Mr. Bitting is very well known in his community, where he has many warm friends.


p. 1257


Daniel F. Bittner was among the leading agriculturists and large landowners of Lower Heidelberg township who also had large interests in Spring township, and in his death, which occurred Nov. 18, 1905, Berks county lost one of its most prominent and influential citizens. Mr. Bittner was born Dec. 11, 1842, near Jonestown, Lebanon county, son of Jacob and Hettie (Fessler) Bittner.

Jacob Bittner, the grandfather of Daniel F., was married to a Miss Wiest, and it is family tradition that he was a native of Germany, from which country he came to America as a young man and settled in Lebanon county. His son Jacob was a resident of Jonestown, and carried on agricultural pursuits in Lebanon county, where he owned a farm. He married Hettie Fessler, and their children were: Abraham, who settled between Brunnerville and Lititz, Lancaster county (he is still living); Jacob, who removed to California, where he became wealthy and died unmarried; Sarah, who married a Mr. Ruth, of near Brickerville, Lancaster county; and Daniel F.

Picture of Daniel BittnerDaniel F. Bittner was reared upon his father's farm in Lebanon county, where he remained until past twenty years of age, at which time he embarked in the hotel business at Pennville, Lancaster county, at the intersection of five roads. There he continued for two years. For about five years he engaged in farming and horse dealing, and he then became employed at the Lebanon Reservoir, where he operated two horses and carts, gaining much valuable experience in the contracting business. In the fall of 1873 Mr. Bittner came to Millersburg, where he became a foreman on the grading of the South Mountain railroad, a position which he held for more than three years, when he was promoted to walking boss of his section. About this time, 1876, the road went into bankruptcy, and Mr. Bittner removed with his family to Reading, where he operated a local express until, in 1884, he became a contractor in topping ground from coal beds in Schuylkill county, an occupation which he followed with much success for a number of years, also building a branch railroad for the Baltimore & Ohio Company at Port Deposit, Md. -- two miles of double track. Another large contract of Mr. Bittner's was the uncovering of the surface in the coal districts of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company.

Mr. Bittner owned several large farms in Spring township, one of which was a tract of 143 acres along the Berks and Dauphin turnpike, which he purchased in 1889, and on which his widow and daughter now reside, occupying the fine brick residence erected by Mr. Bittner in 1891. His other Spring township farm was a tract of 133 acres on the road leading from Sinking Spring to Shillington, and this belongs to one of his daughters, Mrs. Clara Henry. In addition to these he owned several very fine farms near Denver, Lancaster county, which are still in the family, as well as the Hull street store building and other valuable property at Sinking Spring. Mr. Bittner was called "The People's Bank" at Sinking Spring, where he was most highly esteemed by all who knew him. His death occurred there, when he was aged sixty-two years, eleven months, twenty-three days, and he was buried at the Bittner family plot at Schaefferstown, Lebanon county, where a large monument is erected in his memory. He was a member of Sinking Spring Reformed Church, and in political matters was a Democrat.

On Oct. 2, 1862, Mr. Bittner was married to Sarah Keener, daughter of George and Elizabeth Krieg Keener, of Lebanon county, and granddaughter of George and Elizabeth (Krum) Keener, and to this union were born ten children, as follows: Emma married Daniel R. Hagey, of Denver, Pa.; Lizzie, deceased, was the wife of Charles D. Schofer, of Reading; Sallie died aged six years; Clara married Amandus E. Henry; Laura, twin sister of Clara, died in infancy; George died Sept. 21, 1888, aged sixteen years; Edwin and Benjamin died in infancy; Bertha married Charles H. Andrus, of Altoona, Pa; May died aged four years.


p. 1156


Christian Bixenstine, who has been employed as a roller at the Reading Iron Company's Oley street mill since its opening in 1896, has lived in Reading all of his life. Mr. Bixenstine was born in this city, Sept. 24, 1845, son of Gottleib and Elizabeth (Stricker) Bixenstine.

Gottleib Bixenstine, a native of Wurtemberg, Germany, came to America about 1830, and for a short time thereafter worked at his trade of potter in Reading. Later he engaged in hod carrying, and at this occupation and common laboring he was employed for the remainder of his life, dying in 1885. His wife died in 1887, the mother of children as follows: Amelia, Charles, Sophia, Caroline, William, Louisa and Christian. In religious belief Mr. and Mrs. Bixenstine were Lutherans, while politically he was a Democrat.

Christian Bixenstine received a common school education in Reading, and as a young man engaged at the old Seyfert & McManus rolling mill, where he remained until twenty-six years of age. At this time he engaged with the Philadelphia & Reading iron mill, known as the old rail mill, and remained there until the mill suspended operations, when he returned to his former employers, and there continued until 1895. At this time the Reading Iron Company opened its Oley street mill, and he secured employment there as a roller, a position he has held to the present time.

In 1871 Mr. Bixenstine married Barbara Ney, and to this union there were born four children, one of whom, Albert, survives. He is employed at the Acme Motor Car Company. Mr. Bixenstine is a member of Alsace Reformed Church, while his wife and son are Lutherans. He is fraternally connected with the Ironworker's Union and the Workmen's Society.


p. 1020


For a century and a half the name of Bixler has been known among the agricultural sections of Berks county, and today are found in Brecknock township Augustus S. and Manasses Bixler, and in Cumru township Joseph Bixler, all substantial and highly respected citizens.

(I) Christian Bixler, the first of the family of whom there is definite record, was a farmer in Robeson township, Berks county. His will, probated in 1811, the year of his death, mentions the following children: Henry, Abraham (who had a son, Daniel), Philip, Jacob and Michael (who had two children, Christian and Mary, who married Simon Blankenbiller). Daniel, son of Abraham, and Christian, son of Michael, were both soldiers in 1781, in Capt. Michael Wolf's company in the war of the Revolution.

(II) Philip Bixler, son of Christian, was an auctioneer in Brecknock township. He owned considerable property, and as each of his children married he or she was given a big farm. He is buried in the cemetery at the Mennonite meeting-house near Allegheny. His wife was a firm believer in Mennonite doctrines. Their children were: Christian, born May 25, 1783; Catharine, Aug. 27, 1795; Elizabeth, Feb. 2, 1787; Daniel, June 24, 1791; Maria, Aug. 15, 1793; Susanna, March 20, 1795; John, Sept. 21, 1798.

(III) Christian Bixler, son of Philip, born May 25, 1783, was a farmer in Brecknock township, where he owned the old original Bixler homestead, which consisted of upward of one hundred acres, he also operated a sawmill. He erected a comfortable home in which he spent his declining years, and there his death occurred in 1852. He married Margaret Breidenstein, and they had three children, one son and two daughters namely: Isaac; Sallie, who married William Sweitzer; and Hannah, who married Isaac Seyfrit.

(IV) Isaac Bixler, son of Christian and father of Joseph, was born Jan. 12, 1807, and died May 25, 1886, in the eightieth year of his age. He was a farmer and sawmill operator in Brecknock, and was a good man and useful citizen. In time he came into possession of his father's farm of 120 acres and there he built a house in 1852, and rebuilt the sawmill in 1857. He and his family belonged to the Plow Church in Robeson township, and he was an official member of same. He married Barbara Beam, who bore him nine children, as follows: Manasses, who lives on the old homestead; Anna, married to Daniel Yelk; Isaac, married to Linda Hertz; Joseph; Barbara, married to Allison Gring; Christian, married to Ellen Zeamer; Elizabeth, married to Samuel Jacobs; Margaret, married to John Westley; and Catharine, married to James Westley.

(V) Manasses Bixler, son of Isaac, and a well-known citizen of Brecknock township, was born April 24, 1836. He remained upon the home farm until he was twenty-three years of age, when he learned the trade of carpenter under William Seyfrit, a cousin, for whom he worked for seven years, after which he followed it as a journeyman many years. In 1868 he began farming on his father-in-law's farm, where he lived twenty years. He then bought the old Bixler homestead of 110 acres, and there he has since made his home. Since 1887 he has conducted a sawmill, which occupies him the greater part of his time. Besides all this he finds time to repair furniture, engage in the undertaking business, and also to keep his farm in a fine state of cultivation. Mr. Bixler is a stanch supporter of the Democratic party, and has held township offices many years. He was assessor for nine consecutive years, auditor several years, township clerk two years. He was deacon, and is now elder, in the Plow Church, of which he has been a Reformed member for many years. He is known as an honest and upright man, and has many warm friends. In 1861 he married Sarah Wert, born March 26, 1842, daughter of Philip and Elizabeth (Beam) Wert. They have become the parents of seven children: Augustus, a farmer in Robeson township, married Ellen Moyer; Amanda married Jacob E. Griffith of Brecknock township; Philip is at home; William, a trucker in Brecknock township, married Margaret Hoschaur; Alvin is at home; Charles is at home; Isaac died in infancy.

(V) Joseph Bixler, son of Isaac, now a retired merchant and farmer of Cumru township, was born on the Bixler homestead in Brecknock township, April 2, 1844. He was brought up on the farm and attended the district schools, after the manner of farmers' boys of his day. In 1870 he began farming for himself, conducting his father's farm for three years; in 1874 he went to Caernarvon township, this county, where he rented for six years, and then went to Robeson township, where he farmed four years, at the end of that time returning to his father's farm for a like period. Once again he went to Robeson township and remained four years, after which he bought the old Messner farm in Cumru township (1891), consisting of 144 acres, fifty-six of which are woodland. Here he has since farmed successfully with the exception of 1905 , when he conducted a general store, mill and his farm at Angelica. He is an up-to-date farmer, and his buildings all of which he has erected himself, are neat and modern. His house was built in 1894, and the barn, which was destroyed by fire, was rebuilt in 1900. In politics Mr. Bixler is a Democrat. His family attend the Allegheny Church.

On Nov. 6, 1870, Joseph Bixler married Hannah Sweitzer, daughter of Daniel and Leah (Bixler) Sweitzer. Nine children have come of this union: Aquilla died aged four years; Howard died aged ten years; Mary married Henry Hoshour; Lillie married Monroe Ruffner; Lewis married Emma Kohl; Edwin married Nora Miller, of Lehigh county; Joseph died aged four years, the same day as his brother Howard, and both were buried in one coffin, at the Allegheny Church; Irwin and Minnie are both at home.

(III) Daniel Bixler, son of Philip and grandson of Christian, the founder of the family in this section, was born June 24, 1791, and became a miller and farmer in Brecknock township. He married a Miss Wert, and they had four children, namely: Daniel, Philip, Peter and Leah (married Daniel Schweitzer).

(IV) Peter Bixler, son of Daniel and father of Augustus S., was born in Brecknock township, Dec. 3, 1820, and died Aug. 25, 1879. He was a stone-mason by trade, and followed that occupation all his life in connection with farming. He owned the farm which is now the property of John Kramer. In politics he was a Republican. His wife was Elizabeth Schweitzer (daughter of John), born April 3, 1820, died Jan. 9, 1892, in the seventy-second year of her age. They were the parents of the following children: Augustus S.; Nelson, who conducts a portable sawmill in Berks county; Benneville, who died aged fourteen years; Sarah, married to Peter Griffith; Mary, who lives in Reading; John, a farmer of Robeson township; and Peter, who lives in Reading.
(V) Augustus S. Bixler, son of Peter, was born July 16, 1846, on his father's farm, and in the neighboring schools obtained a good substantial education, furthering his early training in the Spring Grove Forge Academy, in Lancaster county, where he studied during one term. He has devoted his entire life to farming, engaging for himself in 1887 on Samuel Z. Schweitzer's farm in Brecknock township, where he still lives. In political faith he is a Republican, but be takes little part in public affairs, being of a quiet and retiring disposition. He is highly respected by all for his sterling worth and his kindly disposition. He is a Lutheran, and for six years was a deacon in the Allegheny Church.

On Sept. 19, 1881, Augustus S. Bixler married Susan Hoschaur, daughter of Daniel and Amelia (Ziemer) Hoschaur. Six children were born of this union: Lizzie married John Neathock, of Brecknock; Samuel married Susan Schweitzer, and lives in Brecknock township; Augustus lives at home; Stella married Clayton Slouch, and they live with Samuel Z. Schweitzer, in Brecknock; Cora keeps house for her father; Charles lives at home. Mrs. Bixler died April 6, 1896.


p. 1636


Paul H. Blachman, of Reading, Pa., engaged in the manufacture of cigars at No. 116 North Ninth street, was born at Gorlitz, Germany, Oct. 18, 1844, son of Wilhelm Blachman, an extensive cloth manufacturer of that country. Of Wilhelm Blachman's large family of children, but two survive, William, employed at Cramp's shipyards in Philadelphia, but at one time located in Reading; and Paul H.

Paul H. Blachman received his education in the schools of his native country, and prior to coming to the United States, was engaged in bookkeeping. Mr. Blachman came to America when twenty-three years old, landing at New York, June 14, 1867, having made the journey in the "Cimbria." He came direct to Reading, where his brother was then residing, but owing to the unsettled times on account of the Civil war, he was unable to secure work as a bookkeeper. In 1867, within six weeks time, Mr. Blachman learned the cigar maker's trade when he engaged in manufacturing of cigars, having continued that occupation to the present time. In 1876 he located at Ninth and Elm streets, on the present site of the Covenant Methodist Church, and lived there for about seventeen years, but his place of business is now situated at No. 116 North Ninth street, where he has resided since 1900.

  In 1875 Mr. Blachman married Clara Louise Hamel, daughter of Henry Hamel, of Saxony, Germany, and to this union have been born: Arno Paul, a very talented musician, now traveling all over the Western Hemisphere; Emily Emma m. to Herman Schlatter, of Philadelphia; and Miss Helen, at home. Mr. Blachman is a member of Teutonia Lodge No. 367, F. & A. M., having joined that fraternity in 1888, and he has served as secretary since 1889. He and his wife are consistent attendants of St. John's Lutheran Church. Mrs. Blachman conducts a very complete wax floral store at her residence, a business in which she has been successfully engaged since 1895. Mr. and Mrs. Blachman are widely known in their community, and are respected for their simple and upright lives.

Last Modified Thursday, 16-Oct-2008 20:52:38 EDT

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