Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals by Morton Montgomery


p. 675


John H. Bridenbauch, lawyer, of reading, with offices at No. 529 Court street, is a native of Martinsburg, Blair Co., Pa., born Jan. 5, 1877. He has been in the active practice of his profession since the year 1902.

Henry Bridenbaugh, his grandfather, was a farmer of Martinsburg, Blair county. Rev. Samuel R. Bridenbaugh, D. D., his father, is pastor of the Second Reformed Church of Reading. Dr. Bridenbaugh married Lydia A. Bowman, daughter of John Bowman, a merchant and niece of Dr. J. C. Bowman, of the Reformed theological Seminary at Lancaster. There were three children in their family, of whom Paul died Aug. 31, 1904, when just entering upon his career in the ministry of the Reformed Church; he was twenty-four years of age, and a graduate of Harvard Theological Seminary. George B. is a student at the New England Conservatory of Music, Boston.

John H. Bridenbaugh received his early educational training at Berlin, Somerset county, and at Carroll Institute, Reading. Having been thoroughly prepared for college at these institutions he matriculated at Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, where he graduated in 1899. In carrying out his decision to enter upon a career at the Bar he then went to Harvard Law School, where he graduated in the class of 1902, in which year he was admitted to the Berks county Bar. He has since been admitted to practice in the Supreme court. At Reading, he read law in the office of Baer, Snyder & Zicher. He engages in general practice.

While at college, Mr. Bridenbaugh became a member of the Phi Kappa Psi chapter at Franklin and Marshall. He was also connected with the Diagnothian Literary Society at that school, is a member of the Harvard Club of Reading, and is a member and chairman of the executive committee of the Reading Canoe Club. He belongs to the Second Reformed Church, in the work of which he takes an active part, being at the present time superintendent of the Sunday-school.


p. 1157


Harry L. BRIGHT, assistant foreman of the job department of the Reading Eagle, was born July 13, 1863, at Philadelphia, Pa., son of John R. and Elizabeth (Scull) Bright.

Tracing the Bright or Brecht family to its founding in Berks County, Pa., it is found that Michael Brecht, 1706-1794, was married in 1728, to Margareta Simone, 1708-1778. They had the following children: Jacob, born April 13, 1729; George, Feb. 9, 1731; Michael, March 24, 1732; Katherine, April 6, 1734; John, Feb. 20, 1736; Peter, May 13, 1738; David, Aug. 9, 1740; Maria, Aug. 1, 1742; Sarah, Jan. 19, 1745, and Christina, Aug. 12, 1747. The late A. G. Green, Esq., prepared a genealogical sketch of this Bright family, which, in pamphlet form, may be found among the archives of the Berks County Historical Society.

John Bright, great-grandson of Michael and grandfather of Harry L., was a native of Berks County and a descendant of one of its pioneer families. He was engaged in a hat business at Reading, where he died after the close of the Civil War, and his remains were interred in the Charles Evans cemetery. He married a member of the Rehr family and they had four children, namely: Henry lived and died at Reading; Catherine m. James Thompson; Sarah m. George Graul; and John R.

John R. Bright, son of John, was born March 2, 1829, at Reading, and died Nov. 2, 1867, in the thirty-ninth year of his age. By trade he was a hatter. He lived at Reading until 1859, when he moved to Philadelphia, and there lived until his death, when his remains were brought to Reading and interred in the Charles Evans cemetery. On Dec. 26, 1859, he married Elizabeth Scull, born June 7, 1836, daughter of Marks B. and Barbara (Breiner) Scull, of Reading. They had two sons: Edward S. and Harry L., both of Reading.

Harry L. Bright was educated in the public schools of Reading. He became a clerk in a grocery store, where he remained for one and one-half years, and then served a four years apprenticeship to the printer's trade in the office of the News, at that time located on the corner of Sixth and Court Streets. In August 1882, he entered the employ of the Reading Eagle, and now, as assistant foreman of its job department, has under his supervision from fifteen to twenty-two men.

In 1888, Mr. Bright married Sue M. Yocum, daughter of the late Jacob A. and Joanna (Goodhart) Yocum, and they have one son, J. Herbert, who was born May 8, 1889. The latter is a graduate of the Reading High School, class of 1908. Mr. Bright and family occupy their own pleasant home which is located at No. 105 Oley Street, in the Fifteenth ward. Mr. And Mrs. Bright belong to St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, while their son, J. Herbert, sings in the choir of the Memorial Church of the Holy Cross, of which he is a member. Mr. Bright is a member of the following organizations: Camp. No. 89, P. O. S. of A.; Emblematic Order of Odd Fellows, No. 163; Juniata Tribe, No. 74,I. O. R. M., of which he has been treasurer since 1892; Jr., O. U. A. M., No. 163; and Printers' Union, No. 86.


p. 867


Henry M. Bright, who lives on the road leading from Reading to Bernville, Pa., is one of the prominent men and successful agriculturists of Penn township. Mr. Bright was born Dec. 15, 1847, in Penn township, where he attended the public schools, and later he became a student at Freeland Seminary. After completing his education he took up farming as his life work, and in 1870 located on his father-in-law's farm, which he has since increased to 415 acres, consisting of three adjoining farms. In 1891 he erected a substantial residence, and his other buildings and well-kept premises testify to his thrift and enterprise.

In 1869 Mr. Bright married to Emma Geiss, daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth (Dundore) Geiss, and to this union there have been born the following children: Charles H. is engaged in clerking in Philadelphia; Elizabeth E. is a graduate of the Keystone State Normal School, class of 1897, and has taught school in Berks, Chester and Bucks counties; Sallie I. married Alvin Blatt, of North Heidelberg township; Adam S. is a mining prospector of Montana; Emma I., a graduate of the Keystone State Normal School, is, like her sister, a teacher in the public schools, and has followed her vocation in Berks, Bucks, and Montgomery counties and in New Jersey; Thomas, a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College, class of 1903, is now assistant paymaster in the U. S. Navy, located at the Samoan Islands; Anna, a graduate of the Keystone State Normal School, class of 1902, taught six terms in Penn township, and is now teaching in Bernville; J. Calvin, a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College, class of 1908, is now teaching in Center county; and Flora L. and Raymond M. are students.

Mr. Bright has always been a stanch advocate of education, and has given his children every advantage, fitting them to care for themselves in any station of life. A Democrat in politics, he has served many times as school director, and at present is township supervisor. He has served as deacon and elder in the Reformed Church at Bernville, of which he is a consistent member. Mr. Bright is one of Penn township's good citizens, and has the respect and esteem of his fellow men.


p. 1697


John H. Bright, a resident of the borough of Bernville, Berks county, who follows the carpenter's trade, was born Aug. 10, 1865, in Penn township, on the old homestead. His father, Amandon Bright, was for many years one of the leading citizens of his section of the county. The family has been located here for many years.

(I) Stephen Brecht, the ancestor of the Brecht or Bright family, was a native of Germany, born Feb. 17, 1692. He was one of the emigrants from the Palatinate who landed at New York between 1709 and 1712. These emigrants first settled at Schoharie, N. Y., but because of the unbearable treatment they received at the hands of Governor Hunter, of the Province of New York, they sought refuge in homes elsewhere. Hearing of the fair treatment accorded by the proprietors of Penn's Province, and of the fertility of the soil, excellent water and other advantages there, many of them came to Pennsylvania, among them Stephen Brecht. The land was, granted him by John, Thomas and Richard Penn, lawful heirs of William Penn, on Nov. 27, 1745 (recorded in Patent Book A. Vol. 12, p. 340). On this he made his home, and here he died Sept. 24, 1747. His remains were interred in the North Heidelberg cemetery among the Moravians. His gravestone lies flat upon the ground and the inscription is still in good condition. His will was made Jan. 6, 1746, and his land was divided among his three sons: David, Hans Wendel and George Adam. To George Adam was given the homestead (now owned by Adam Dundore), and the division of land between David and Hans Wendel was recorded at Reading April 17, 1754, in Book A. Vol. I, p. 68.

(II) David Brecht, son of Stephen, was born Sept. 8, 1719. He was a resident of Bern township long before the organization of the county in 1752. He was the owner of valuable lands near Bernville, and exercised no small influence among the people of his neighborhood. In 1771 he was elected county commissioner, and served as such until 1774. By his will on file in the registers office, after providing for his wife Sarah, he devises to his only son John his large plantation of 500 acres, and gives to each of his seven daughters the sum of 900 pounds, almost a fortune in that early day. His wife Sarah was born Jan. 8, 1727, and died Jan. 22, 1786. They were the parents of eleven children, three of whom died in infancy or childhood. The names of those reaching mature years were: John, Margaret, Elizabeth, Magdalena, Catharine, Susanna, Sarah and Barbara. On David Brecht's tombstone appears the following inscription: Hier Ruhet Der Leib von David Brecht er ist geboren D 8 Sep. 1719 er x x x x x x x x x x x x x x an sain 11 Kinder Annach 8 bei Leben 1 Sohn U 7 Tochtern U Starb D 22 Sept. 1783.

(III) John Brecht, only son of David that grew to manhood, passed his entire life in farming on the homestead. He is buried in a private burial ground on his own farm, and his tombstone bears the following inscription: Hier ruhet die Gebeine von Johannes Brecht Er wurde geboren den 2 Junius im Yahr 1747 und ist gestorben den 9 Februar im Yahr 1834 brachte sein Alter auf 86 Yahre 8 Monate und 7 Tage.

Over the grave of his wife, Anna Maria, appears the following: Hier ruhet Anna Maria Brecht Ehrgattin fon Joh. Brecht Sie war geboren Den 15ten Januar 1757 Und ist gestorben den 24sten. Mai 1842 im altern fon 85 Yahren 4 Monate und 9 Tagen.

Eleven children were born to John and Anna Maria Brecht, four sons and seven daughters, namely: Peter, whose children were: Adam, William, Levi, Mary and Catharine; Jacob; David and John who both settled near Lancaster, Ohio, and the latter's children were: Henry, Benton, Edward, Jacob, Mary, Clara, George and Emma; Mary, who married David Arnold; Sarah, who married Thomas Fetters; Susanna; and four daughters whose names are not recorded.

(IV) Jacob Brecht, son of John and Anna Maria, was born in 1792, and to him came the possession of the homestead. The name of his wife is unknown. His death occurred in 1875. His children. were: John; Amandon; Aaron, whose children were: Darius, Emma, Lehman, Albert and Lizzie; Anna Maria; Sarah; Harietta; Elizabeth; Catharine; Rachel; Isabella, and Rebecca.

(V) Amandon Bright, son of Jacob, was born Jan. 15, 1830. His entire active life was devoted to farming and he became an extensive land owner, having 220 acres of the most fertile section of Penn township. He was very prominent in public affairs, and took an active interest in the success of the Democratic party. He was school director of his township, for many years committeeman of his district, and for three years was a prison inspector in Berks county. In 1894 he was elected treasurer of the county, and he gave most satisfactory service in this office for three years. He married Clara Hain, and their children were: Ellen, who married Jacob Bordner, of Bernville, Pa.; William, a small farmer in Penn township; Sallie, who married Frank Schaffer, of Reading, Pa.; John H.; Harry, who died aged twenty-seven years; Annie, who married Jacob Gruber, of Mount Pleasant; Albert H., a prosperous young plumber and gas fitter at West Reading; Rev. Edwin D., pastor of the Reformed Church at Derry, Pa., who is also engaged as a genealogist and historian; and three that died young. Amandon Bright passed away in May, 1898, respected by all who knew him.

(VI) John H. Bright attended the Bright school in Penn township until 1884, later studying at the Keystone State Normal School, at Kutztown. He spent most of the time on the farm with his father until he reached the age of twenty-five years and then continued farming for six years on his own account, after which he was engaged for four years in the management of his sawmill, cutting timber in Berks county. He has ever since been occupied at the carpenter's trade, at which he has done well, finding plenty of work in that line in his locality. He is an industrious man and a wide awake citizen, having served as school director and as councilman, of the borough. He is a Democrat, and has been delegate to various county conventions. He is a member of the Reformed Church.

Mr. Bright married Anna M. Kalbach, daughter of the late Levi Kalbach and his wife Isabella Brossman, and to this union have been born three children: Lehman K., Naomi K., and Howard.


p. 1166


Among the younger generation of business men of Penn township, Berks county, one who has forged his way rapidly to the front is Willis L. Bright, who is successfully conducting a general store business at Bernville. Mr. Bright was born Dec. 30, 1879, at Bernville, son of Edwin K. and Amelia (Loose) Bright, grandson of John M. Bright, great-grandson of Jacob Bright and great-great-grandson of John Bright.

John M. Bright, grandfather of Willis L., was born Sept. 28, 1824, and died July 19, 1897, at Bernville borough, whence he had moved from his farm in Penn township. His first wife was Lydia Koenig, born July 26, 1825, and died Oct. 10, 1853. To this union were born four children, namely: Henry M., born Dec. 15, 1847, m. Emma E. Geiss; Benton K., born Sept. 25, 1849, m. Deborah Epler; Edwin K.; Jacob K., born June 28, 1853, m. Lizzie Frieling. The second wife of John M. Bright was Lydia Ann Grime, born May 6, 1833, and to this marriage there were also four children: Mary A., born Dec. 7, 1856, m. Charles F. Wagner; Clara, born Oct. 27, 1864, m. Monroe Kershner; Georgie, born Feb. 13, 1867, m. Minerva Stiely; and Emma, born Jan. 17, 1869.

Edwin K. Bright, father of Willis L., was born in Penn township, Aug. 25, 1851. He attended the local public schools and the Normal school at Kutztown, and learned the butchering business at Bernville. In 1880 he removed to Reading, where for five years he worked at his trade, then engaging in business on his own account, a line which he has since followed. Mr. Bright married Amelia Loose, daughter of Jonathan and Mary (Schock) Loose, and they had two children: Willis L., and Herbert L., who attended Lehigh University and is now a draughtsman in New York City.

Willis L. Bright attended the schools of his native township and as a young man began clerking for A. F. Schock, later being put in charge of the store, which he purchased March 1, 1907. This is one of the leading business stands of Bernville, an old and well established business, and the main building, located on Main street, at the upper end of the town, is 30 x 100 feet in dimensions. Mr. Bright has proved himself an excellent business man, and the success which he has attained has been well-merited.

Mr. Bright married Dora A. Greenawalt, daughter of A. S. Greenawalt, of Bernville, and they have a daughter, Helen A. Mr. and Mrs. Bright are members of St. Thomas Reformed Church.


p. 1529


Benjamin Brigle, a well known citizen of Heidelberg township, Berks county, who owns an excellent farm of fifty-five acres three miles south of Robesonia, in the South Mountain, was born May 18, 1840, in Heidelberg township, above, Robesonia, son of Adam and Sarah (Foltz) Brigle.

Adam Brugle (as the name was spelled in German), the grandfather of Benjamin, was a native of Germany, and came to this country from Germany via Rotterdam on the ship "Commerce," landing at Philadelphia Oct. 9, 1803. Soon thereafter he located in Heidelberg township, Berks county, above Robesonia, in the South Mountain, and died well advanced in years, being buried in the Corner Church, of which he was a Lutheran member. Mr. Brigle married Barbara Weinhold, and to them were born these children: Isaac, born Dec. 12, 1824, died unmarried March 23, 1882; Daniel; Adam; George lived and died at Hokendauqua, Pa.; William died in Lebanon, where he lived with his children; Ann died unmarried; Ellen also died unmarried; Polly married Charles Kepley; Elizabeth married Fred Foreman; Sarah married and remove to the West.

Adam Brigle, father of Benjamin, was born in Heidelberg township, Berks county, Oct. 17, 1817, and died at Womelsdorf Station, in May 1890. For a number of years he owned and cultivated a tract in the South Mountain, consisting of fourteen acres. After his wife's death he sold this land and removed to Womelsdorf Station, where he lived until his death. He was a good and useful citizen, and was buried in St. Daniel's (Corner) Church, of which he was deacon, elder and trustee for several years. Mr. Brigle married Sarah Foltz, born in Heidelberg township, June 13, 1817, daughter of William and Elizabeth (Hossler) Foltz. They were married Aug. 12, 1838, by Rev. William Hendel, and had eleven children as follows: Benjamin, born May 18, 1840; Amelia, born Jan. 27, 1842, died in May 1843; Amanda, born May 14, 1844; Isaac, born Dec. 12, 1845; Barbara, born Oct. 20, 1847, lives at Robesonia; Elinda E., born May 5, 1850, died in July 1855; Adam, born in April 1852, died in November 1854; Sarah, born July 20, 1853; Angelina, born Oct. 26, 1855; Lemontina Louise, born July 3, 1858, married James Wenrich, of Robesonia; and Hannah, born in July 1861, died in September, 1864.

Benjamin Brigle attended the schools of his district, and at the outbreak of the Civil war went to the front as a private in his country's defense. Mr. Brigle is tall, erect and of commanding appearance, and made a brave and faithful soldier. After his return from the war, he worked in the Robesonia furnace working there for a period of nineteen years. Later he purchased a good farm of fifty-five acres, three miles south of Robesonia, in the South Mountain, where he has resided to the present time. Mr. Brigle has specialized to some extent in fruit growing, has brought his property to a high state of cultivation, and through hard and earnest effort has cleared it of all encumbrances. In politics he is a Republican. He and his family are Lutheran members of the Corner Church.

Mr. Brigle was married to Mary Hoover, daughter of William Hoover, of Heidelberg township, and to this union there have been born five children, all of whom are single: Fannie E.; Adam; William E.; Mamie M.; and Isaac, who died in childhood.


p. 1163


Edward A. Briner, now in the employ of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Company at Reading, Pa., was born April 4, 1853, son of Henry and Sarah (Frill) Briner.

Peter Briner, the founder of the Briner family in this country, was born in Germany, and came to America at an early date, settling in Reading, Pa. He was a shoemaker by trade, and he followed that occupation all of his active period. He and his wife, whose name is not known, were the parents of five sons, all of whom were shoemakers, and all born in Reading; Peter, Samuel, and three whose names are not known.

Samuel Briner, grandfather of Edward A., carried on the shoemaker's trade, operating a shop, and attended to the old Penn Street Toll House, across from the Pennsylvania Depot. He later removed to Chestnut Street, and there plied his trade until his death, some time during the Civil War. He was a soldier in the war of 1812, and was buried under the auspices of the veterans of that war. In religious faith he was a Lutheran, and in political principle a Democrat. Mr. Briner married Elizabeth Koch, a native of Berks County, and they were the parents of eight children: Mary, m. to Henry Astright; Barbara, m. to Marcus B. Scull; Esther, m. to Daniel Werner; Emma, who died single; Daniel; Henry; Lewis and Margaret, m. to Joseph Barr.

Henry Briner received his literary training in the common schools of Reading, and learned the shoemaker's trade with his father. This occupation he followed all of his life, his death occurring in his forty-third year. He and his wife, Sarah Frill, daughter of John Frill, were the parents of seven children, as follows: Elizabeth m. Frank Fleer, had four children -Mary F., Otto, John A. and Minnie - and died in Philadelphia Feb. 13, 1907; Charles; Samuel; George; John; Edward A., and one who died in infancy. Of these, Edward A. is the only survivor. Mr. Henry Briner was a member of the Universalist Church, and in politics was a Democrat.

Edward A. Briner's education was secured in the common schools of his native city, and at the age of seventeen years he apprenticed himself to the tinsmith's trade with Daniel H. Ruth, remaining in the employ of that gentleman for four years as a journeyman. On July 3, 1873, he accepted a position with the Philadelphia & Reading Company, and has been a trusted219-employee of that company to the present time in the tinsmith department. He has only been late once in all these years, and that was on account of sickness.

Mr. Briner was married June 12, 1875 to Annie Gift, daughter of Peter Gift, and to this union there have been born two children: Sarah is deceased; and Claude, employed in the sheet iron department of the Philadelphia & Reading Company, m. Sallie Heist, and has one son, Edward.

Mr. Briner and his wife are members of the Universalist Church. He is fraternally connected with Vigilance Lodge No. 194, I. O. O. F.; Camp No. 89, P. O. S. of A.; the Philadelphia and Reading Relief Association; the Veteran Employees Association; Neversink Fire Company, No. 3; and the Veteran Firemen's Association. In politics he is a Republican.


p. 1386


J. K. Brintzenhoff, secretary and treasurer of the Penn Cigar Company, manufacturers of high grade cigars, at No. 1138 Franklin street, Reading, was born in Washington Township, Berks County.

After attending the schools of Rockland township, and the Keystone State Normal School at Kutztown, Mr. Brintzenhoff in 1891 engaged in teaching at Womelsdorf for two years, when he was appointed principal and held that position one year. He then accepted the position of bookkeeper for the Relay Manufacturing Company, when after a period he engaged in his present business with Keyser Fry, at No. 838 Chestnut street. There they engaged in the manufacture of cigars until they removed to No. 723 Franklin street. They purchased the Newcomet factory and the business was combined with that of the cigar company, and in 1905 the Penn Cigar Co. was incorporated under the laws of the State of Pennsylvania with Mr. Fry as president and Mr. Brintzenhoff as secretary and treasurer, the latter also having the general management of the business. The Penn Cigar Co. does a very heavy business, and probably ships more cigars than any other firm in the city by express. They manufacture a high grade of five and ten cent cigars, among them the "Chief Rabban," "Wyoming Elk," "Lady Mar," "Ortho," and "American Securities," besides many private brands. They employ an average of thirty hands the year round and the business is steadily increasing in volume.

Mr. Brintzenhoff is a member of Lodge No. 549, F. and A. M., Reading Chapter, R. A. M., No. 152, DeMolay Commandery, K. T., No. 9, and Rajah Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S. He is also a member of Mt. Penn Lodge, Knights of Pythias, of which he is past chancellor commander. Mr. Brintzenhoff is politically independent.


p. 1033


Charles F. Brissel, one of Reading's well know residents, who has been school controller of the Tenth ward for the past ten years, was born July 12, 1856, in Reading, son of John and Catherine (Egleman) Brissel.

John Brissel was born in Jun 1817, in Hessen, Germany, and was a boiler maker during all of his active life, he retiring ten years prior to his death, Aug. 12, 1888. He emigrated to American about 1840, and two years thereafter was married to Catherine Egelman, daughter of Charles F. Egleman, eight children being born to this union: Emma A. m. Alfred Wentzel, a printer of Philadelphia; Mary m. James Kilpatrick, a machinist of Reading; Charles F.; Kate died single in 1901, aged forty-three years; Minnie m. Harry Heffelfinger, a moulder of Reading; John E. m. Clara Ludwig; and is a machinist of Reading; Frederick died in infancy; and Charlotte m. Charles Miles, a machinist of Reading.

Charles F. Brissel attended the local schools, and when seventeen years of age learned the machinist's trade with Miller & Allen (at the Scott foundry), in whose employ he continued for eight years. He then worked as a journeyman in the socket department of the Reading Iron Works for six years, and since 1901 has been working at his trade for the Birdsboro Steel, Foundry & Machine Company. In political matters Mr. Brissel has always been a staunch Democrat, casting his first Presidential vote for Samuel J. Tilden (in the Ninth ward), and in the spring election of 1808 was elected school controller of the Tenth ward, a position he has efficiently held to the present time, his present term brining his service to twelve years. He has been a resident of the ward since 1885, having prior to that time been a resident of the Second. He is a member of the Heptasophs, Berks Conclave No. 133, of Reading; and the Veteran Firemen's Association, of which he was president for two years. Mr. Brissel and his family are members of St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Reading, of which he was one of the organizers, deacon for several years and member of the first vestry.

On July 7, 1877, Mr. Brissel married Caroline S. Greiner, born Jan. 26, 1856, daughter of Matthias and Louisa (Martin) Greiner, and to this union there were born four sons, three of whom died in infancy, the survivor, John Matthias, born June 19, 1883, being at present a clerk in the city assessor's office, Reading. He is a member of Chandler Lodge, No. 227, F. & A. M; a charter member of Reading Lodge of Perfection; Camp No. 89, P. O. S. of A.; and Aerie No. 66, F. O. E., all of Reading.


p. 506


John A. Britton, a substantial citizen of Reading Pa., as a member of the well-known dry-goods firm of C. K. Whitner & Co. is prominently identified with the business interests of the city. He was born in Reading in 1853, son of John A. and Leah (Borkert) Britton.

John A. Britton was educated in the public schools of Reading, and at the age of fourteen years started in to work as an errand boy for Lewis Briner, at the corner of Penn and Third streets. After four years with Mr. Briner, he entered the employ of John D. Mishler, proprietor of the original Globe Store, and here learned the business in all of its details, finally resigning to become salesman for Dives, Pomeroy & Stewart, at the time that firm occupied the quarters now held by C. K. Whitner & Co. Later he engaged in a mercantile business for one year with John E. Lewis, at Lebanon, Pa., but disposing of his interests he returned to Reading and engaged with C. K. Whitner as salesman, later becoming manager, and in 1898 he was admitted a member of the firm.

In 1891 Mr. Britton married Sally A. Ruth, and to them have been born two children, namely, Calvin A. and Ruth A. By a former marriage Mr. Britton had one son, Harry A. Mr. Britton is fraternally connected with several societies, in which he is very popular. He is a member of the St. Paul's Reformed Church. His business interests connect him with the Board of Trade and also the Merchants Association.


p. 453


Dr. Edward Brobst, of West Leesport, died Dec. 31, 1907, aged seventy-four years, three months and sixteen days. He was one of the best known physicians in the county, and one of the last of that noble class of men known as "family doctors" - a firm friend and counselor of every member of the family, sometimes through two or three generations, in health as well as in sickness. He was born at Rehrersburg Sept. 15, 1833, son of Valentine and Mary (Miller) Brobst, and a descendant of Philip Brobst and wife Cerine, who came to this country from Germany or Switzerland in search of home and fortune.

Philip Brobst and his wife Cerine made their home in Albany township, Berks county. His will, made in 1747, and probated March 21, 1760, made provision for his children as follows: Michael, one hundred acres of land and a good grist mill belonging thereto; Martin, a tract of fifty acres and a good new grist mill; Valentine, his just portion of the estate; Eva Catharine, fifty pounds in money; and Dorothy (wife of Johannes Fetherolff), fifty pounds in money.

From the Pennsylvania Archives, Vol. XVII, pp. 75-77-81, is learned that one Hans Michael Brobst (or Probst) and his family emigrated from Switzerland or Germany on the ship "Samuel," which qualified at Philadelphia Aug. 17, 1733. This family was listed as follows: Michael Bropts, aged fifty-four; Johan Michael, aged twenty-one; Barbara Brospts, aged fifty-three; and Barbara Brospts, aged eight.

In 1759, in Albany township, Michael Brobst was tax collector, and on the list of taxes paid were: Michael Brobst, fourteen pounds (or $37.24); Martin Brobst, fourteen pounds (or $37.24); and Valentine Brobst, sixteen pounds (or $42.56). These amounts were reckoned by allowing $2.66 United States money for a Pennsylvania pound.

The will of Martin Brobst, of Albany township, was probated June 9, 1766, and Anna Elizabeth Brobst was named as executrix. This document is in German script, and mentions several children.

Valentine Brobst, mentioned above as son of Philip and Cerine, emigrated with his brothers from the Old World. He lived in Reading for some years, and tradition says for a time in Albany township, where his brothers, Michael and Martin, were also large land owners, as indicated by the amount of taxes paid. The Christian name of Valentine's wife was Catharine. He died prior to 1775, and his wife in 1775. The executors of the will of Valentine Brobst were Frederick Hill, a brother-in-law, and Henry Brobst, a brother's son. Among the items were: Cath. Snyder, my aforesaid wife's sister's daughter, shall have fifty pounds; Jacob Brobst shall have the plantation I bought from Jacob Gortner (Jacob was a son of Michael, the latter a brother of Valentine); Catharine Stine (daughter of Martin, another brother of Valentine) shall have fifty pounds; my sister Dorothy married to Johannes Fetherolff shall have fifty pounds." The witnesses to the will were: Philip Staumbog, Georg Kistler and Matthias Brobst. The will of Catharine, widow of Valentine Brobst, is on record in Will Book 2, p. 236.

Christian Brobst, another son of Valentine, lived at Rehrersburg, where he kept a tavern known to this day as the "Brobst Hotel." He died there at the age of forty-one, and was succeeded in business by his son Valentine, then unmarried. He was buried in the old Lutheran Church yard at Rehrersburg. His wife, whose maiden name was Kreider, bore him children as follows: Valentine; Michael, who had a son Henry born in 1821 (and his son Frank, born in 1847, was high sheriff of Berks county 1899-1901); Henry; William; and a daughter who married a Kurr.

Valentine Brobst, son of Christian, was born in Albany township, and after acquiring a good education in a private school, learned the hatter's trade, which he followed in Rehrersburg. At his father's death he succeeded to the hotel, as stated above. His death occurred in the spring of 1897, when he was in his eighty-ninth year, and he was laid to rest in the cemetery at Rehrersburg. He married Mary Miller, and they became the parents of children as follows: Dr. Edward; John A., a physician of Bernville; Sarah, deceased, who married John Bossler, of Myerstown; Mary, who married Frank Buch, of Lititz; and James C., a physician at Lititz.

Dr. Edward Brobst received his literary training in the day schools, which he attended until he was twelve years of age, and in the Academy at Orwigsburg, Schuylkill county, which he attended for four years. Determining to enter the medical profession he became a student in the office of Dr. Adam Schoener, of Rehrersburg, long since deceased, and under that sturdy physician of the old school acquired not only a good foundation for his medical studies but also a conception of the dignity and obligations of the profession he was about to enter. He was graduated from the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania in 1853, and in the spring of 1854 began the active practice of his profession at Danville, Luzerne county. There he remained, however, only until 1865, when on account of the continued urging of friends, he settled at West Leesport, where he quickly attained a high standing. In his younger days, many of his visits were made on horseback. The roads were never in too bad a condition, nor the weather too severe, for him to venture out to relieve suffering or distress, and the demands made upon his time and strength would have long before worn out a less robust man. He was always keenly alive to the advance of medical science, and spent much time in study, and his reputation spread throughout the neighboring counties, he being often called in consultation to distant places. His regular practice covered territory within a radius of seven miles from West Leesport. In 1863 he enlisted as surgeon in the United States Army, but contracted typhoid fever while at Hagerstown, Md., and was given sick leave. In December, 1864, he enlisted as surgeon, being assigned to the 143d Pa. V.I., under Colonel Dana, and continued in service until the close of the war, when he was mustered out at Hart Island, in June, 1865. He was pension examiner during the administration of President Harrison.

In spite of the cares of his large practice Dr. Brobst did not neglect his duty as a citizen. He was greatly interested in all public questions, especially those pertaining to his home town and county. He was in favor of the incorporation of West Leesport. For some years he served in the office of auditor. His home was built in 1866, and from that time until his death he delighted in welcoming his friends there. He was a tall, well-built man with a kindly benevolent face, ever winning affection from the many with whom he was brought into such close contact. On Saturday, Dec. 21st, he was stricken with apoplexy, and while his great vitality enabled him to rally from the first shock, others followed, and his spirit winged its flight but a few hours before the passing of the old year. He was buried at Trinity Union Church. Like all the Brobsts, as well as the members of his own immediate family, he was a Lutheran in religious faith.

Dr. Brobst was twice married. In 1854, he married Louisa, daughter of George Zacharias, of Bern township, who bore him two children: Henrietta, wife of George Filbert; and John, who died aged one year. In 1866, he married Sarah Groff, daughter of Samuel Groff, of Groffdale, Lancaster county. To this union came one daughter, Carrie, now the wife of Henry G. Lenhart, member of the firm of S.H. Lenhart & Sons, merchants of West Leesport. Dr. Brobst was a life long member of Leesport Lodge, No. 141, I.O.O.F.; Huguenot Lodge, No. 377, F. & A.M., of Kutztown. He also was a consistent member of the Berks county Medical Society from the date of its organization.

Dr. Francis H. Brobst, of Reading, is a son of Willoughby and a grandson of Daniel Brobst. Daniel Brobst was a grandson of Michael or Martin Brobst, of Albany township.

"Brobst heirs Association" is the name of an organization founded by the descendants for the original settlers for mutual aid in securing possession of certain coal lands originally belonging to the family. At the meeting of the board of directors Dec. 18, 1907, held at the home of theTreasurer, Charles H. Brobst, No. 1128 Franklin street, Reading, Rev. Howard B. Jones presiding, steps were taken to have the case reopened. Among those present were: Dr. James C. Brobst, Lititz; Dr. John A. Brobst, Bernville; Henry Stump, Friedensburg; John K. Stump, Kutztown; Harry A. Brobst, Reading; and Charles H. Brobst, Reading. Mrs. Elmira A. Phillips, of Pottsville, a member of the Board, was unable to be there.


p. 1319


Dr. John A. Brobst, late of Bernville, one of the oldest practicing physicians of Berks county, was born in that town, Oct. 26, 1835, and died Oct. 18, 1908. He was a representative of one of the oldest families in Berks county, a family that has borne an honorable record for upright living and sturdy independent citizenship.

The early home of the family was in Wurtemberg (some accounts say Lower Saxony), Germany. whence, in 1720, came (I) Philip Brobst to America. He settled in what is now Albany township, Berks county, Pa., and there followed his trade of potter in connection with farming, the latter of necessity engrossing most of his time. He was the father of three sons: Martin, Michael and Valentine and three daughters, who married, respectively, N. Kutz, C. Hechler and J. Fetteroff. Michael and Martin each built for himself a mill in the same neighborhood. They were all devout believers in the Lutheran faith.

"In 1740 Parson Muhlenberg gave them a small tract of land on which the three brothers, with the assistance of some new settlers, built a church and school-house which is occupied from that day to this for the worship of God, by the name of 'Allimingle Church.'" Michael Brobst's wife was Elizabeth Albright.

(II) Valentine Brobst, son of Philip, remained at the old home, and like his brothers, engaged in farming and milling. Among his children were Valentine (2) and Martin, of whom the latter moved to Catawissa, Pa.

(III) Valentine Brobst (2), son of Valentine, was born in Albany township. For several years he was engaged in farming, and then went to Reading, where he became proprietor of a hotel. He was one of the largest land owners in the county, and possessed valuable coal land in Schuylkill and Northumberland counties, where many of the family still reside. He died in Reading, and was buried in the cemetery of Trinity Lutheran Church, of which church he was a member. The maiden name of his wife was Leavy. Their children were: Christian; Elizabeth (Ruppert); Mary (Stump); Catharine (Inghman); Margaret (Reitmeyer); Diana (Johnston); Sophia (Christian); and Magdalena (Grant).

(IV) Christian Brobst , only son of Valentine (2), was born Nov. 29, 1787, in Albany township, where he engaged in farming until 1814 when he went to Rehrersburg to enter the hotel business, becoming the proprietor of the "Brobst House." He died Dec. 14, 1828, and is buried in the Lutheran church yard at Rehrersburg. His wife, whose maiden name was Kreider, bore him children as follows: Valentine. Michael, Henry, William, John and Eliza (who married Jacob Kurr, of Millersburg), all now deceased.

(V) Valentine Brobst , son of Christian, was born Jan. 31, 1809, and was given superior educational advantages, completing his studies in the Reading Academy, a leading school in eastern Pennsylvania, located at Seventh and Chestnut streets. It was while attending this school that he saw the first stage coach ever run between Philadelphia and Reading in one day. He was also in Reading when the first canal was built. In 1826 he went to Hamburg, and there served an apprenticeship at the hat maker's trade under Henry Fister, the leading hat manufacturer in Pennsylvania. Returning at the end of his term of service to Rehrersburg, he engaged in the manufacture of hats on his own account, employing a number of hands. He turned out the finest grade of fur, silk and finished fur hats, the material being conveyed by team from Philadelphia. Mr. Brobst managed the factory, and acted as his own salesman, selling extensively in Northumberland, Columbia, Schuylkill and Carbon counties, and he continued in this business for thirty-five years. In 1831 he took charge of the "Brobst House," and carried it on for twenty-five years. He was also postmaster twelve years, and justice of the peace twenty-five years - at one and the same time being hatter, traveling salesman, landlord, postmaster and justice of the peace. In politics he was a Democrat, and he cast his first vote for General Jackson. In 1832 he married Mary Miller, daughter of Peter Miller, of Hamburg, and she died June 9, 1895, after sixty-three years of happy wedded life. Their children were: Dr. Edward, of West Leesport, who died in 1908; Dr. John A. (deceased); Dr. James C., of Lititz; Sarah, who married Capt. John Bassler, of Myerstown, and died in California; and Mary, wife of J. Frank Buch, publisher of Lititz.

(VI) Dr. John A. Brobst, (deceased), son of Valentine, attended the old pay schools and then spent four years in Gettysburg College, afterward entering Pennsylvania College at Philadelphia. He graduated from the latter institution in 1857, and at once located in Bernville for the practice of his profession. This marked the beginning of a successful career, and the Doctor's long life of usefulness to his fellowman endeared him to the people. No night was too dark, too cold or too stormy for him to respond to a call, and rich or poor, the patient found him the same helpful physician and kindly cheery friend.

Dr. Brobst took a great interest in medical societies, belonging to the Berks County Medical Society and the Pennsylvania State Medical Society.

Dr. Brobst married Sabilla Beyerle, daughter of Dr. George and Anna Maria (Gerhart) Beyerle. To this union were born children as follows: Laura, who married John N. Harrison, a merchant at Sunbury, and has children - Edward, Raymond, Russell, Robert and Laura; Mary and Jennie, at home; and Dr. William B., of the State of Washington, who married Victoria Grenwill, and has three children - Russell, Robert and Edward.


p. 482

Surnames: BRODEN, BAER

Albert Broden, superintendent of blast furnaces of the Reading Iron Company, and one of Reading's prominent and influential citizens, was born in Sweden April 22, 1851, and was educated at Skara College, in his native country.

Mr. Broden came to America in 1873, and located in Reading, where he has ever since been connected with railroad and iron work, with the exception of one year spent in the United States of Colombia, building blast furnaces. He also spent six months at Ogden, Utah, for Richmond L. Jones, making an experimental blast to determine the value of iron ores in the Rocky Mountains. Since 1887 he has been connected with the Hon. George F. Baer, in the iron interests, and since that time he has been superintendent of the Reading Iron Company's furnaces, and is also manager of the Temple Iron Company's furnaces.

Mr. Broden is a member of the Wyomissing and Berkshire Clubs. He is connected with St. Matthew's Lutheran Church. In politics he is a Republican.

Mr. Broden through the storm and stress of American business life, for the past eighteen years, has been a notable example of the success of well-directed energy. Cool, careful, thorough, he has mastered details and brought about results which could only have been completed by one well equipped by Nature, and molded by experience.


p. 338


Edward Brooke was until his death the senior partner of the firm of E. & G. Brooke, mentioned at length in the sketch of George Brooke. He was born Feb. 28, 1816, at Birdsboro, son of Matthew Brooke, and like other members of his family was all his life identified with the advancement of its best interests.

Highly educated, his scientific attainments played a large part in the success of the various enterprises with which he was connected, and his ability and ambition rounded out a nature unusually complete in intellectual force and practical knowledge. Industry, perseverance and faith in his ventures made his energetic course one of remarkable success. His progressive mind and farseeing judgment enabled him to enter confidently into many fields where men of less strength would have hesitated to venture, yet his prudence in management and care in looking after details kept his undertakings always within conservative bounds and made him trusted among all his business associates.

Picture of Edward BrookeIncidental to his own interests, and beyond them, Mr. Brooke was always active in promoting the welfare of his home town, and many of the most efficient measures for its prosperity in his day were originated or supported by him. The Wilmington & Reading railroad, which passes through Birdsboro, was constructed through his efforts, and he was the first president of that road. He was one of the original projectors of the First National Bank of Reading, and served as a director until his death. By nature kindly and genial, honorable and upright in all his dealings, he was a man not only respected but beloved by all with whom he came in contact. His death, at Birdsboro, Dec. 25, 1878, was the occasion for general mourning throughout the community in which his entire life had been spent.

Mr. Brooke married Annie M. Clymer, daughter of Daniel R. Clymer, of Reading, and four children survived him: Annie Clymer (who married Blair Lee, of Washington, D. C., and died in 1903), Robert Edward, George Clymer and Frederick Hiester.


p. 336


Picture of George BrookeGeorge Brooke bears a name so intimately connected with the development of Birdsboro that a history of the recent generations of the Brooke family would be a nearly complete history of that borough. And no account of that borough, in the last hundred and more years, could be written without frequent reference to the achievements and efforts of the Brookes in every phase of its evolution from a settlement of a few houses to one of the finest boroughs in Berks county. The Brookes have ever been noted for intelligence and general excellence of character, proved in the wise administration of large interests, whose prosperity has had a direct bearing upon the public moral and material welfare as well as upon their own fortunes. They have also been noted for their unselfish public spirit, their means and influence having always been given liberally to the promotion of all projects tending toward progress, enlightenment and the general improvement of the conditions affecting the daily life, comfort and happiness of the mass of humanity. To the brothers, Edward and George Brooke, especially, is the borough indebted for many of its best advantages.

The Brookes are of English descent, the founders of the family in this country having come hither from Yorkshire, England, in 1698. John and Frances Brooke, with their two sons, James and Matthew, arrived in the Delaware river that year, but because of a contagious disease aboard their vessel the passengers were not allowed to come to Philadelphia, disembarking lower down the river. The parents died there soon afterward, and were buried in the graveyard at Haddonfield, N. J, They belonged to the Society of Friends, and before leaving England John Brooke had purchased of William Penn 2,500 acres of land, to be taken up anywhere where vacant land might be found between the Delaware and Susquehanna rivers. Accordingly the sons James and Matthew took up the land in what is now Limerick township, Montgomery county, Pa., where they settled.

Matthew Brooke, grandson of the Matthew who came over with his father in 1698, was the third in direct line to bear the name. He was the father of Edward and George Brooke, and was reared near Limerick. In 1796 he purchased a farm at Birdsboro, Berks county, and in 1800, in partnership with his brother, Thomas Brooke, and their brother-in-law, Daniel Buckley, purchased the Hopewell Furnace. From that time to the present the family has been prominently identified with the locality. Matthew Brooke occupied the old mansion house built by William Bird, the original proprietor of this property, in 1751, a beautifully located residence facing the Schuylkill river, to whose banks the lawn stretched. On the side of the estate which lay along the shores of Hay creek, just where it emptied into the Schuylkill, was a grove of beautiful old trees, which one of the Birds fenced in and used as a deer park. When the canal was built in front of the house the place was no longer desirable for residential purposes, and the family moved to a house down near the lower forge, which was torn down in 1879 to make room for the enlargement of the rolling-mill. Matthew Brooke continued to operate the iron industries successfully until his death, in advanced age. He had led an active life in many ways, having served the Colonial forces during the Revolution when a mere boy, and while in the army was captured and held prisoner, but finally exchanged. His business energies, while devoted chiefly to the iron works, were not confined to any one channel, and he was one of the first stockholders of the Farmers National Bank of Reading, one of the most important financial institutions of that city at the present day. He was an Episcopalian in religious connection. He married Elizabeth Barde, like himself a native of Pennsylvania, daughter of Captain John Louis Barde, who came to Birdsboro in 1788, and for several years ran the old forges under a lease, in 1796 purchasing them with two thousand acres of land from James Wilson (a son-in-law of Mark Bird), one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. This land formed a part of the original Bird properties of Birdsboro, and Captain Barde lived on it until his death in 1799. Captain Barde had an interesting career. Born in Geneva, Switzerland, be was educated in the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, England, entered the English army, and accompanied the expedition to America to operate against the Spaniards in their attack on Pensacola in about 1779. He married the daughter of Maj. Robert Farmar, the English governor of West Florida, came north in 1782, and selling his commission, became a citizen of the United States. His property came into the hand of his son-in-law, Matthew Brooke. Matthew and Elizabeth (Barde) Brooke had a family of five children, two daughters dying young. The others were: Elizabeth, who became the wife of the Hon. Hiester Clymer of Reading; Edward, deceased; and George.

George Brooke was born July 26, 1818, at Birdsboro and has passed all his life in that place. He also has a residence in Philadelphia, where he sometimes passes a few winter months. He was educated in the schools of Reading, Lititz and West Chester, Pa., and afterward attended at Burlington, N. J., finishing his education at a private school in Philadelphia. He ranked well in English, Latin and French but showed a marked proficiency in mathematics, drawing, mineralogy and mechanics. The close of his school days marked his return to Birdsboro, and he at once plunged into the iron business, learning every detail of the immense concern ruled over by his father. On April 1, 1837, he and his brother Edward succeeded to their father's interests in the iron industry at that point, the works at that time comprising two forges --one the "refinery," where the pig-iron was converted into "anchovies" (blooms hammered down into a bar at one end for convenience in handling), and the "chafery," where they were heated and hammered into various kinds of bar-iron. At that time the entire out put amounted to only two hundred tons annually. Under the firm name of E. & G. Brooke, the brothers developed the property, continuing to do business together until the death of Edward Brooke, Dec. 25, 1878. They built the Edward Brooke residence and a large flour mill, the latter begun in 1844 and completed in 1845. In the fall of 1844, while it was in course of construction, a Henry Clay meeting was held in the mill, there being no hall here at the time large enough for the purpose. In 1879 and again in 1882 the mill was remodeled, being supplied with modern machinery and steam-power, and meantime had been greatly enlarged, the present structure being the third to occupy the site. Following the erection of the mill the brothers extended the iron business, in 1846 putting up a charcoal furnace on the site of the old Hampton forge, in order to use their wood in the manufacture of pig-iron instead of operating the forges. In 1848 they commenced to build the rolling-mill and nail factory, which were completed and put in operation the following year. In 1852, No. 1 Anthracite Furnace was built, and two more furnaces were erected in 1870 and 1873, respectively, the capacity of the plant being increased steadily until the annual product now amounts to more than one hundred thousand tons of pig-iron and two hundred and fifty thousand kegs of nails, besides muck-bar and skelp iron. In the latter eighties a steel plant was erected at No. 2 Blast Furnace, to convert the molten iron directly into steel for the manufacture of nails. A new train of rolls was also put into the rolling-mill, as well as other devices for the working of steel.

In alliance with their furnaces the firm of E. & G. Brooke acquired a half interest in the French Creek, Warwick and Jones mines, which lie between ten and fifteen miles south of Birdsboro, and whence the greater part of the raw product comes, the Wilmington & Northern road connecting the two properties. In 1864 E. & G. Brooke, associated with Seyfert, McManus & Co. and Samuel E. Griscom, opened the William Penn Colliery, near Shenandoah, in Schuylkill county, E. & G. Brooke subsequently becoming sole owners of the colliery, which was and still is one of the best mines in the coal region. In 1887 they sold the colliery to interests identified with the Pennsylvania Railroad. These iron works and mines form one of the most valuable industrial factors in this section of Pennsylvania, affording profitable employment to thousands of hands. Many of the houses occupied by the employees are owned by them, and about two hundred and fifty houses occupied by the men are owned by the company. After the death of Edward Brooke the concern was organized into two companies, the E. & G. Brooke Iron Company and the E. & G. Brooke Land Company, none of the property, however, changing hands. George Brooke became president of both companies, with George W. Harrison as treasurer and Richard T. Leaf as secretary.

Mr. Brooke has been identified with numerous other interests in Berks county and also in other localities, his business affairs covering a wide range, and he has likewise found time for active participation in the public and social life of his section. He and his brother were among the original projectors of the First National Bank of Reading, of which he has been president these many years; he was one of the founders of the Pennsylvania Trust Company, another substantial financial institution of Reading, of which he is president; is a director of the Wilmington & Northern Railway Company and the Schuylkill Navigation Company, treasurer of the Keystone Coal Company of West Virginia, and president of the Birdsboro Steel Foundry & Machine Company. The last named company in 1885, then known as the Diamond Drill and Machine Company, was moved to Birdsboro from Pottsville, being located in the old plant of the Birdsboro Iron Foundry Company, whose buildings were sold to E. & G. Brooke in 1871, standing idle from that time until their occupation by the present company. From a small concern whose business was the manufacture of diamond drills it has grown to its present size. It is now one of the largest machine shops in eastern Pennsylvania, comprising machine shops and iron and steel foundries. The steel foundry was added in 1903 and is one of the largest and most modern of steel casting plants. All manner of steel casting, for both private and government work, is turned out. The company manufactures all kinds of machinery, taking contracts for the building of rolling-mills of the largest sizes, besides building a number of special machines. They also still make the celebrated diamond drills, which are sold in all parts of the world. When these works are running full they employ about eight hundred men.

Mr. Brooke also was the originator of the borough water supply. Through the E. & G. Brooke Iron Company large reservoirs were built about two miles south of the town up in the hills and an abundant water supply of the purest kind was obtained from the mountain streams and brought to the borough in two large water mains. For the better conducting of its business this water department of the Iron Company was in 1900 turned into a separate company, known as the Birdsboro Water Company. The town of Birdsboro is surely most fortunate in having such a pure and abundant supply of water. The pressure is so great that a stream of water can be thrown over the tallest buildings.

Thus it will be seen that Mr. Brooke's interests, though covering so wide a range, are all more or less closely allied, his connection and familiarity with the various side industries concerned in the successful operation of his main business facilitating its conduct greatly.

In 1837 the Brookes opened a store in the old mansion, soon afterward removing to a regular store-room which they erected at the canal lock, and in 1875 they erected a fine store property, which was burned out when nearly ready for business. It was immediately rebuilt, and not only affords spacious store room but also contains the large auditorium known as Brooke Hall, located in the third story of the building. George Brooke was also one of the founders of the First National Bank of Birdsboro, of which he served as president for a time, being succeeded by his son Edward. Mr. Brooke is a member of the Manufacturers Club, and also of the Union League, the Sons of the Revolution and the Society of Colonial Wars. He is also affiliated with the Masonic fraternity.

When the borough of Birdsboro was incorporated Edward Brooke was elected burgess, and George Brooke has served repeatedly in the town council, of which he was president for many years. He has also given efficient service on the borough school board, taking especial interest in the question of public education, and in this connection may also be mentioned his services on the board of directors of the library opened and conducted under the auspices of St. Michael's Episcopal Church. He was influential in the establishment of that church, which grew out of a mission established at Birdsboro by St. Gabriel's Church, Douglassville, and was one of its first vestrymen, still serving as such. In politics he is an ardent Republican.

Mr. Brooke is a courteous, affable gentleman, a type of the highest American citizenship, active and useful in every enterprise with which he has been connected, and serving his fellow-men while forwarding his own interests. He has traveled extensively in Europe, and has visited every State in the Union. He has always been fond of outdoor life, and in his early days was proficient in all kinds of sport. Though over ninety years of age he "virtually oversees all of his vast business interests, finds time to assist in the advising of other operations and maintains complete control of the details incident to the management of his large private fortune."

In 1862 Mr. Brooke married Mary Baldwin Irwin, daughter of John H. Irwin, and granddaughter of Capt. Stephen Baldwin, a ship owner and merchant of Philadelphia. Mrs. Brooke's father was a grandson of Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, first Speaker of the House of Representatives. Two sons were born to Mr. and Mrs. Brooke, Edward and George. The family are all identified with the Episcopal Church. They occupy one of the most magnificent homes in this beautiful section of Berks county, Mr. Brooke having erected suitable residences for himself and the members of his family at a spot overlooking Birdsboro and the surrounding country, which has been beautified as well as developed principally through his enterprise and that of other members of the Brooke family. Mr. Brooke's ninety years "have been filled with varying experiences, but withal have been favored with a due measure of sunshine, the brightest ray of which to him must be the reverence and affection of his townspeople, which is almost filial."

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