Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals by Morton Montgomery


p. 765


Frederick W. Cranston, Deputy Internal Revenue Collector of the First District of Pennsylvania, and a well known and highly esteemed citizen of Reading, was born Sept. 29, 1859, in Philadelphia, Pa., son of William and Fannie (Curtis) Cranston.

William Cranston was born June 9, 1822, in Glasgow, Scotland, and in that country and England learned the trade of machinist. He came to America in 1845, locating at New York City, whence he removed to Reading some time later. On reaching the latter city he secured employment in the shops of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad, under Superintendent Missimer, but later he connected himself with the Scott Works, where he manufactured sugar-making machinery. He was later sent to the island of Cuba to erect machinery, and while there became superintendent of a sugar plantation. On his return to the United States, he went to Philadelphia, where he worked in the Baldwin Locomotive Works until his retirement. Mr. Cranston married Miss Fannie Curtis, a native of Dorsetshire, England, who died at the age of fifty-four years, and to them there were born the following children: Mary m. George Roemmele, a chemist with Powers & Weightman; Frances m. George W. Phillippi; Edwin, a machinist, died at the age of twenty-two years; Alfred W., is a contracting machinist of Philadelphia; and William Mac., a machinist. In religious belief William Cranston adhered to the faith of the Presbyterian Church, while his wife was a Methodist. He is one of the oldest Odd Fellows in Pennsylvania, having joined the order sixty-five years ago, and is also connected with the Knights of Pythias.

Frederick W. Cranston was graduated from the public schools of Philadelphia when nineteen years of age, and immediately thereafter came to Reading and entered the shops of the Philadelphia & Reading railroad, where he remained several years. He was also in the employ of Abraham T. Phillippi, in the plumbing, steam fitting and metal working business, and then became associated with the Carpenter Steel Works, where he had charge of the steam fitting department. On Dec. 1, 1898, he was appointed Deputy United States Revenue Collector for the First District of Pennsylvania, in President McKinley's administration, and since that time the business in the cigar trade has been increased from 74,000,000 to 144,000,000, Mr. Cranston having the largest division to cover of any deputy in the State. He has proved himself to be an efficient, faithful official, filling the duties of his position to the satisfaction of all concerned.

In 1879 Mr. Cranston was married to Miss Emma C. Fox, daughter of John Fox, a veteran of the Civil war, and to this union there have been born eleven children, seven of whom survive: Robert D., who is employed at the League Island Navy Yard, m. Anna Clingaman, and has children, Robert D., Jr., and Dolly; Mary R. m. Peter R. Weldmann, and has one child, Carrie; Frederick W., Jr., a street car conductor, m. Hannah Barlett, and has one son, Frederick W. (3); Edwin B., is a cigar maker; William Mac is at Little Falls, N. Y.; John F.; and Charles H. is at school. Mrs. Cranston died in April, 1907. Mr. Cranston m. (second) Sarah Kern, born in Lehigh county, Pa., the daughter of farming people near Topton, Berks Co., Pennsylvania.

Mr. Cranston is a member of Camp No. 329 and Nathan Hale Commandery, P. O. S. of A., and served as Senior Vice Commander of United States for one year (1897).


p. 362


Lewis Crater, Secretary and Treasurer of the Reading Steam Heat and Power Company, and Secretary and Treasurer of the Warren County Traction Company, is one of the representative citizens of Reading, and he is descended from one of those sturdy emigrants from the Palatinate, who sought religious freedom in the New World.

The name Crater was originally "Greter," as is evidenced in the original oath of allegiance to the King of Great Britain, signed by the emigrant ancestor when he landed at Philadelphia. This paper is on file in Harrisburg. The different branches of the family have adopted various spellings .- Greder, Grader, Grater, Krater and Crater. The change from "G" to "C" was originally through an accident. On May 28, 1792, John Grater bought property of George Heebner, and the papers were made out by one Thomas Richards in the name of John Craiter. The error was not discovered until about 1800, when the property was sold, and in order to save trouble, the new papers were signed "John Crater." The family records show the great majority of its members to have been tillers of the soil, and they have been awaiting, hardworking, honest, upright and strictly conscientious.

Religious persecution in Germany broke out with renewed frenzy in 1732, and about 30,000 Protestants were driven from the country in the middle of winter. Among these fugitives were (I) Jacob Greter and his family. From Colonial Records, Vol. III, p. 515, it is found that Jacob Greter was one of 291 "Palatines" arriving at Philadelphia, Pa., in "the ship Samuel of London, Hugh Percy, master, from Rotterdam, but last from Deal, on the 17th day of August, 1733." By occupation he was a weaver, but after coming to Pennsylvania, he purchased a tract of land along the Perkiomen river, at or near what is known as Grater's Ford, and there he also carried on farming. That he was not among those who sold themselves for a term of years to pay for his passage, but was able at once to purchase land, goes to prove be was a man of some means. Later records show his wealth increasing, as in the census report of Perkiomen or Van Bebbers township, Montgomery county, June, 1756, there is this entry: "Jacob Kreter, weaver, owner of 220 acres of land." Again, in the history of Perkiomen township, that same year is found "Jacob Kreter, owner of 220 acres of farm land at Grater's Ford, also a saw and grist mill." Records in his own handwriting indicate more education than was common in those times. In his religious faith he was a follower of Menno Simons, and it is not clear whether he was a preacher at the time of his arrival in Pennsylvania, but from the earliest entry in the minute book of the Skippack Church it is shown that he was one of the most active members, and the general opinion is that he was a bishop. His descendants for several generations clung to the Mennonite faith, but as the country grew and education became more general, the younger members of the family joined more progressive denominations, and adopted the dress and customs of the times. In the old family record of Jacob Greter the names of three of his children have been lost owing to a corner of the leaf being torn off, the date of birth however, being left. One of these three was undoubtedly "Lewis." Jacob Greter's children were: Jacob, born May 25, 1729; Maria, April 18, 1731; Johannes, April 10, 1734; Elizabeth, Feb. 29, 1736; Paulus, July 8, 1738; Barbara, Sept. 21, 1740 (married Frederick Hubler) ; Christian, Jan. 30, 1743; _______, born July 17, 1745; _______, born June 8, 1750; _______, born May 2, 1753; and Michael, in 1758.

(II) Johannes Greter, son of Jacob, was born April 10, 1734. His children were: Maria, born Oct. 19, 1760; Jacob, Oct. 1, 1763 (died May 27, 1764); Johannes, July 13, 1765; Abraham, April 19, 1768; Cadarina, May 23, 1771; Ludwig, Jan. 5, 1775; Elizabeth, April 6, 1779 (married Henry Hallman).

(III) Johannes Grater (2), son of Johannes Greter, was born July 13, 1765. He married and became the father of a large family (all of whom adopted the spelling of the name, Crater), as follows: Abraham, born March 2, 1792; Jacob, Dec. 28, 1793 (died single); Phillip, Jan. 21, 1796; John, Nov. 26, 1797; David, Feb. 15, 1800 (died in 1893); Catharine, Oct. 19, 1802 (married John Young); Elizabeth, Feb. 3, 1805 (died Aug, 27, 1805); Henry, March 22, 1808 (died in December, 1815); and Israel, Feb. 18, 1812 (died single).

(IV) Abraham Crater, son of Johannes Grater, was born March 2, 1792. He married a daughter of Rev. Henry Pennypacker, reactant of former Governor Pennypacker, of the State of Pennsylvania. To their marriage were born six children, namely: Ephraim, born May 1, 1814, is mentioned below; Elizabeth, born May 20, 1817, died Dec. 7, 1834; Margaret and Christianna, born Sept. 10, 1818, both died unmarried; Jacob, born July 1, 1820, moved to Indiana, and died Nov. 17, 1893; and John, born Feb. 22, 1822.

(V) Ephraim Crater, son of Abraham, was born May 1, 1814. His education was obtained in the district schools. He grew up on the farm, and made farming his life work. He married Dec. 18, 1836, Susan Longacre, and they became the parents of eight children: Henry L., born Oct. 7, 1837, died Oct. 17, 1872; Lavina, born Aug. 21, 1839, married Joseph Lukens; Anna, born Sept. 10, 1841, married Jacob Nyman; Lewis, born Aug. 9, 1843; Catharine Elizabeth, born Jan. 3, 1845, married Josiah Nyman; Jacob L., born Feb. 10, 1847, lives in Pottstown; David L., born Nov. 28, 1850; and Abraham L., born Sept. 18, 1853, died Nov. 9, 1873. Ephraim Crater, the father, was a stanch old-line Whig in politics, but at the formation of the Republican party, joined its ranks, and ever afterward was one of its active workers. He was a strong Abolitionist, and was one of the workers in the old underground railway. His good wife died May 3, 1878, aged sixty four years, eight months, fifteen days. They were believers in the Mennonite faith.

(VI) Lewis Crater, son of Ephraim, born Aug. 9, 1843, received a good substantial education in the common schools of Chester county. Reared in the atmosphere of patriotism, the outbreak of the Civil war afforded him an opportunity to show his loyalty, and on Sept. 10, 1861, he became a member of Company H, 50th P. V. I., and participated in thirty-three engagements besides a number of skirmishes. He was once slightly wounded, had his sword cut from his side, and he was promoted from sergeant to first lieutenant for gallant conduct in action, closing his service as adjutant of the regiment. He was honorably discharged July 31, 1865.

After the war, Mr. Crater returned to Pennsylvania, and entered Bryant and Stratton's Business College at Philadelphia. For some time he taught penmanship in the schools of Philadelphia, but failing health necessitated a change of employment. He moved to Reading, and accepted a position in Philip Albright's grocery, later becoming a clerk in the dry goods establishment of H. A. Hoff, where he remained one year. He then became an accountant in Earl's Banking House, and continued there until it closed its doors in 1867. His next position was as chief clerk and bookkeeper for William McIlvaine & Sons in the Reading Rolling Mill, until that concern suspended operations in 1897. Since that time Mr. Crater has been a public accountant, and is considered an expert in that line. In 1888 he was elected Secretary and Treasurer of the Reading Steam Heat and Power Company, and has since held that office. He was a member of the Mt. Penn Paper Box Company, Ltd., in which he held the office of secretary, until 1908, when the company dissolved.

Mr. Crater is a writer of considerable ability, especially on historical subjects, for which he has a decided fondness. In 1867 when Col. Bates was gathering data for the history of the troops of the State of Pennsylvania, Mr. Crater furnished very much of the data relating to the 50th regiment, and some years after wrote and published a history of the 50th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. He wrote the "History of the Grater Family" and the "History of St. Peter's M. E. Church."

In his fraternal relations, Mr. Crater is a member of the G. A. R., in which he has served as Post commander; a companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion, Commandery of Pennsylvania; and a member of the Union Veteran Legion; the P. O. S. of A.; Vigilance Lodge, No. 194, I. O. O. F.; Veteran Castle, No. 481, K. G. E.; Society Army of the Potomac; Army of the Cumberland and Army of the Tennessee.

On Sept. 20, 1865, Mr. Crater wedded Miss Rosie C. Lowe, daughter of Peter Lowe, of Lebanon, Pa. Four children blessed this union: Emma May, born Jan. 9, 1867, m. Arthur E. Suter, of Zurich, Switzerland; Mary Minerva, born June 20, 1868; Annie Lulu, born Sept. 21, 1870, died Jan. 15, 1875; and Morton Murray, born Jan. 14, 1872.


p. 1109


Harry S. Craumer, a well-known stenographer and court reporter, was born in Lebanon, Pa., July 2, 1879. His parents were Rev. L. W. and Mariah (Smith) Craumer.

Rev. L. W. Craumer, after spending the early part of his life in the service of the United Brethren denomination, came to Reading in the early nineties as pastor of the Salem Church, where he remained until he retired from the ministry, in 1892. He died Nov. 8, 1900, at the age of seventy-three. His wife, Mariah, was a daughter of George S. Smith, a farmer of Union county. They became the parents of a large family, as follows: Minnie and George, both of whom died in early childhood; Millizena, who lived to be but twenty-four; Albert S., a merchant of Lebanon; Elmer E., an attorney, of Pittsburg; Clara, wife of H. B. Leavens, of Kansas City, Mo.; Elizabeth, in the service of the Baptist Church, at Kodiak, Alaska; and Harry S.

Harry S. Craumer attended the public schools of Lebanon. At an early age, however, he was obliged to discontinue his studies, and go to work to contribute towards the support of his parents. Soon after the opening of the Spanish.American war, he enlisted in the United States Army, being enrolled in Company B, 12th U. S. Infantry. During his three years continuous service, he did military duty in both the United States and the Philippines, receiving honorable mention for meritorious service at one of the ten or twelve engagements in which his company participated. After the war, Mr. Craumer returned to Reading, and took up the study of shorthand. Soon afterward, he established himself as a public stenographer, and by dint of hard work rose to be stenographer of the Orphans' Court, to which position he was appointed by the Hon. H. Willis Bland, president judge of said court, in January 1909. In politics he is a Democrat. He is an active member of the Spanish.American War Veterans, and is also connected with the I. O. O. F.


p. 1635


Albert J. Cressman, M. D., deceased, was born at Reading, Pa., May 15, 1856, and died at his home in that city, June 6, 1891. He belonged to one of the leading families of Berks county, and extended mention of the same will he found in another part of this work.

Dr. Cressman was educated in the Reading schools, and was a graduate of the High School. After a period of study in the elements of medicine with Dr. D. L. Beaver, he entered the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania, at Philadelphia, where he was graduated in the class of 1877. He then returned to Reading and entered upon his successful career of medical practice. He was a member of the Pathological Society of Berks county, and was one of the visiting physicians to St. Joseph's Hospital, at Reading.

On May 9, 1881, Dr. Cressman was united in marriage to Mary E. Heckel, daughter of the late Dr. Charles A. Heckel, of Chester county. They had one son, J. Albert, a talented, ambitious young man, who was born April 1, 1884, was graduated at the Reading Classical school June 12, 1903, and at the Bliss Electrical School at Washington, D. C., June 6, 1906. He resides with his mother at the family home at No. 426 North Ninth street.

Dr. Cressman was a worthy member of the First Presbyterian Church at Reading. He was noted for his professional skill and his personal high character. He was Republican in politics. Mrs. Albert J. Cressman was a descendant of James Everhart who was an extensive owner of coal lands now operated by the Lehigh Valley Railroad and other companies.


p. 1102


F. Marion Cressman, a well-known citizen of Reading, was born Feb. 6, 1869, son of Charles M. and grandson of Henry Cressman.

Henry Cressman was a life-long resident of Philadelphia, where for an extended business life he was engaged in the manufacture of army uniforms for the Government. He owned a large amount of property in Philadelphia and was a man of business prominence there. His children were: Henry, George, Sarah, Elizabeth and Charles M.

Charles M. Cressman was born at Philadelphia, and was educated in the graded schools at Bordentown, N. J. Upon his return to Philadelphia, he was apprentice to the tailor's trade, and after completing his contract he came to Reading about 1840. Here he was employed as a cutter by the tailoring firm of Jansen & Son, Sixth and Penn streets, for a time and worked in other tailoring establishments in this city, and then established the business which was carried on until he retired in 1889, known as C. M. Cressman & Son. His death took place March 27, 1900, at the age of seventy-four years, three months and one day. His interment was in the Charles Evans cemetery. He married Annie Thompson, born in 1827, who still survives and resides with her son, F. Marion. Their children were: Annie, William H., Charles, Robert L., Margaret, James S., F. Marion and Dr. A. J. The latter died in 1891, at the age of thirty-one years. He was a brilliant young man, well known and highly regarded in his profession, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.

F. Marion Cressman completed his education in the public schools of Reading, as far as text books were concerned, but later, through travel, broadened his mind in a way that no amount of mere study could have brought about. He learned the painting business with P. Eagle at Reading and later was in the employ of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, at Third and Berks streets, Philadelphia. Desiring to see something of the world in June 1891, he entered the U. S. Navy, at New York, and during the subsequent four years, visited every part of the world except South America. Mr. Cressman has many interesting stories to relate of adventures and customs in other lands, but America is his choice of home. After returning to Reading he followed his trade as painter until 1908, when Mayor Rick appointed him second sergeant of the Reading police force.

Mr. Cressman married Mary Gruber, daughter of Joseph and Theresa Gruber, of Reading, and they have two children: Annie and Francis, both of whom are in school. They have a comfortable home at No. 738 Franklin street.

In politics Mr. Cressman is a Republican, and he has been more or less prominent in his party for years. For four years be was chairman of the party organization in the Third ward and is now inspector of the election board. He is a member of St. Peter's Catholic Church.


p. 486


On Normal Hill, on the western borders of the flourishing borough of Kutztown, resides the Rev. J. J. Cressman, one of the best known and best loved Lutheran clergymen of eastern Pennsylvania. Like most of the ministers of the Lutheran faith in this State, Rev. Cressman is of German descent. His great?great? grandfather came to America from Saxony about the year 1733, and settled in Philadelphia county, where he spent what of life remained to him. At that early period family records were either poorly kept or wholly neglected, and consequently little is known concerning this early ancestor, his first name even being lost in obscurity. It is known, however, that he had a son named Christian, who was born April 13, 1753, and who, died Dec. 5, 1827. On Feb. 24, 1781, Christian had a son born whom he named John, and who early in life removed to Northampton county, where he died Feb. 14, 1853. This John Cressman had a son named Abraham, who became the father of Rev. J. J. Cressman.

Abraham Cressman was born in Lower Mt. Bethel township, Northampton county, Feb. 1, 1817. In 1840 he moved to Moore township, near Petersville (living there the rest of his life). He died Nov. 8, 1893. His first wife was Lydia Frutchey, who bore him eight children, and died July 4, 1870, at the age of fifty?four years, four months nine days. His second wife was Catharine Elizabeth Smith, who bore him two children. Four of the sons of the first marriage entered the ministry of the Lutheran church, three of whom are still living, the Rev. J. J. Cressman being the eldest of the three. The fourth to enter the ministry died suddenly Oct. 6, 1898, while pastor of the first Lutheran Church of Ridgeway, Pa., and his remains are buried at Bethlehem.

Rev. J. J. Cressman was born in Moore township, Northampton county, Jan. 10, 1841, and was baptized in the Kreiderville Church on July 25th of the same year by Rev. W. F. Mensden. His boyhood was spent upon the farm, and in his father's mill, engaged in duties and pastimes adapted to his strength. On reaching the required age he was sent to the district school where he soon became known for his studious habits and good conduct, qualities that all through his scholastic career were marked characteristics. Rev. Dr. F. A. Muhlenberg, Professor of Greek in Pennsylvania College, said of him: "Rev. Cressman was one of the best students I ever had." At sixteen he took a course of catechetical instruction under Rev. Augustus Fuchs, and by him was confirmed in Immanuel Lutheran Church near Petersville, Northampton county. He next sought employment at teaching and for several years taught in the public schools of Moorestown and Flicksville with very gratifying success. For the purpose of attaining a higher education, and to prepare himself for the sacred calling he had in view, he then quit teaching and entered an academy at Weaversville under the management of Prof. Savage. After spending a year in Prof. Savage's academy he entered the Collegiate Institute of Easton, Pa., of which Rev. William Phillips was principal and Selden J. Coffin, D. D., one of the instructors, and under them completed his academic course. In the fall of 1860 he entered the freshman class of Pennsylvania College at Gettysburg, and graduated from that institution in the summer of 1864. This college being situated near the theatre of the great Civil war, and for a time actually enveloped by the conflict, he pursued knowledge under disturbing and distracting circumstances. When the Confederate invasion came in 1863 he and many of his fellow students enlisted in Company A, 26th regiment of Pennsylvania Militia, and under General Couch assisted in the defense of the State. Their regiment was one of the first commands upon the ground and participated in the early stages of the battle of Gettysburg, and a large portion of it, including about forty of the student soldiers, was captured by the Confederates. Their caps, coats and shoes were taken from them, and after being paroled, they were marched, bareheaded and barefooted to Harrisburg, by way of Shippensburg and Carlisle. Exhausted and suffering from hunger and exposure, they were sent from Harrisburg to a parole camp near West Chester. From these hard conditions young Cressman broke away, and as quickly as he could made his way back to Gettysburg to look up the personal effects he had left there. These consisted of a lot of books, some furniture, a new suit of clothes, a valuable watch and the money which was intended to cover his school expenses for the year. With the exception of two or three books and a few pieces of furniture, all these articles were gone. The loss to him was very serious and embarrassing, but though sorely discouraged he wasted no time brooding over his misfortunes.

Although a paroled prisoner his sense of duty did not permit him to remain idle in face of the awful wreck of battle that lay all around him. He promptly reported to the provost and volunteered to assist in burying the dead, blue and gray, and to re?inter such as had been only partially buried. This grewsome work done he returned to his home in Northampton county, but soon after reaching there was stricken with typhoid fever and became dangerously ill. For four weeks he hovered between life and death, and four months elapsed before he was able to resume his studies at Gettysburg.

While at college and in the seminary he made good and proper use of his vacations. He permitted none of his time to go to waste, employing it all either tutoring, selling books or working on the railroad. His experience under James Smith, a contractor on the Lehigh and Susquehanna railroad, is an interesting episode in his life. Applying to him one vacation for employment he was put to work at bridge building at Penn Haven. After working five days he was promoted to the foremanship of a gang of carpenters to construct a depot and other buildings in the vicinity. His daily wages were $3.65 and although he paid at the rate of $21 a month for board and had other expenses besides, he in six weeks saved the round sum of $100, almost enough to see him through a year at college.

After graduating from college he entered the newly established theological seminary, which is now located at Mt. Airy, Philadelphia. He was one of that institution's first regular students, and his name was enrolled upon its records before it afforded proper accommodations for the young men who came eagerly to seek the pure Lutheran doctrine at the blessed fountain of its learned faculty, consisting of Drs. C. F. Schaeffer, C. P. Krauth, W. J. Mann, C. W. Schaeffer and G. F. Krotel.

Upon completing his course at the seminary he was ordained to the ministry by the Synod of Pennsylvania at Lebanon in 1867. He then received an unanimous call from a parish at South Easton, and accepting it labored there successfully for ten years, building a fine parsonage and preparing the congregation for the subsequent building of a new church. He also actively interested himself in education, and was instrumental in founding the South Easton borough high school, of which he was elected the principal, a position he held continuously for six years. In the last year of his principalship he, in addition, was made superintendent of the borough schools, which, with his church work, gave him almost a greater amount of labor than he had time and strength to perform. Doing double duty in this way, he found was impairing his health, and in the fall of 1876 he resigned both his school positions and his pastorate, for the purpose of taking a much?needed rest. This he was allowed to enjoy but a few months, as prominent members of St. John's Church at Kutztown and Friedens of Bernville -? then comprising one charge -? tendered him an urgent call to come and minister unto them. He hesitated to accept as the two churches were twenty?two miles apart, and to attend to their wants properly involved much travel and an incredible amount of labor. But with the understanding that better arrangements should be made within a year or two he accepted and entered upon pastoral relations which continued for twenty?four years without alterations, and in part still exist. In the spring of 1901 he resigned the pastorate of Friedens church at Bernville, leaving its congregation with a new church edifice, built a few years before, completely furnished and paid for, and with money in its treasury. Since resigning the Bernville part of his charge he devotes himself exclusively to St. John's Church at Kutztown. Here also his zeal and energy have borne good fruit, and with his good people here he feels very much at home. The present St. John's Church edifice he had the honor of helping to finish in 1877, and with the assistance of Rev. J. S. Hermann, the Reformed pastor, to dedicate; and with the assistance of Rev. J. H. Leinbach (successor to Rev. Hermann) he collected the money needed to liquidate the debt remaining unpaid at the time of its completion, and to make subsequent important improvements. The church building presents a fine appearance, is in splendid condition in all its details, elegantly furnished, and has one of the best organs in the county and one of the finest bells in the world. Its congregation never wearies in well doing, and is warmly attached to the pastor who watches over its spiritual welfare.

The Rev. Mr. Cressman's pleasant home on Normal Hill was built in 1885, with the assistance and liberality of his good people. Besides being convenient and comfortable it is neat and attractive. The house is surrounded by a yard and garden, 112 feet front by 350 deep, partly donated by his friend and neighbor Charles Deisher. Every tree, vine and shrub, as well as every post in the fences and the arbors on the premises was set by the pastor's own hands. Both in theory and practice he is a disciple of the strenuous life, but busy as he has been and hard as he has worked his career is dotted full of pleasant incidents which he loves to recall and dwell upon. Among these are the receptions tendered him by his people at South Easton in April, 1867, and at Bernville in March, 1877, and the party given him on his sixty?fifth birthday by the members and friends of his Kutztown charge. These he fondly treasures as marks of the appreciation of his labors, and for their comforting influence he gives God the praise.

At the South Easton reception a valuable gift was thrust upon him so informally and unexpectedly that it afforded amusement to all who were present, and also a topic of conversation in the community for some time. As the large party was about to be invited to adjourn to the dining room, the pastor happening to look out of the window noticed that one equipage had not as yet been cared for. It consisted of a beautiful sorrel horse and a fine buggy, perfectly new. No one in the company seemed to know to whom it belonged, but the good pastor insisted that the horse should be put up and fed before he would sit down to dinner. This evoked broad smiles all around the room, and to allay his anxiety he was finally informed that it was a gift to him from his congregation, that the horse had lately been fed, and could easily wait until after dinner when his new owner could take formal possession of him and test his qualities. He was also informed that if agreeable to him the horse could be kept in the stable of one of his good members and cared for free of charge. The generous donation touched the loved pastor deeply and his feelings can better be imagined than described.

The Rev. Mr. Cressman is a great lover of books, and owns one of the finest private libraries in Berks county. It comprises over 1,500 volumes, some very rare and of great value, and he has them so carefully arranged and is so familiar with their order that he can find almost any volume in the collection in the dark. These books are all housed in well constructed and costly cases, planned, by the owner himself, and constructed under his immediate supervision.

On Aug. 27, 1865, the Rev. Mr. Cressman was married to Emma C. M. Walter, of Allentown, and they have six children, as follows: Charles F. S., who holds a civil service position at Greenville, Pa.; Krauth H., who is superintendent of an Indian reservation at Naper, Nebr.; John L., who resides at Harrisburg, and is a railway mail clerk on the route between Pittsburg and New York; Abraham L, who is connected with the cement business at Nazareth, Pa.; Benjamin F., a teacher at Macungie; and Esther Lydia, who married John D. Wink, and has two sons, David Deshler and Charles Frederick.

Although devotedly attached to the Lutheran Church, her doctrines and usages, and caring faithfully for his own flock, Mr. Cressman is tolerant and liberal with those who hold religious views at variance with his own. He in no way interferes with other people's business, and avoids giving offense, aiming to be just and fair in all the relations of life, with words of good cheer and a smile for all. His mission in life is to do good to his fellow men, and this he endeavors at all times to fill.


p. 1100


H. J. Croessant, proprietor of the Empire Bottling Works, No. 215 Moss street, and sole agent for Sheboygan Mineral Water, is a native of the city of Reading, born in 1856, son of Henry Croessant and wife, whose maiden name was Miller.

Mr. Croessant's parents died when he was but two and one-half years old, and he was reared and cared for by Herman Floto. His education was secured in the schools of Reading, and he was first employed by Mr. Floto, with whom he continued until eighteen years of age. At this time he learned the house painting trade at which he continued for four years, when he went to work for Daniel Wentzel, and continued bottling beer until 1882. At this time with a Mr. Freis, he purchased the concern, from James Wentzel, and in 1897 he bought Mr. Freis' interest, and since that time has been running the business alone. The plant at No. 215 Moss street is equipped with the latest modern machinery, and he manufactures a high grade of carbonated drinks, bottling Lauer's, Barbey's, Reading, Deppen's, Ballentine's and Piel's beers of New York. He employs on an average ten men, and five teams, furnishing all the leading hotels and cafes in the city. Mr. Croessant is a member of the K. G. E., the P. O. S. of A., the Bavarians, the Phoenix, Maennerchor, Liederkranz, Americus and Commercial Clubs, the Rainbow Fire Company, and several other societies.

Mr. Croessant was married to Sophia Bower, and to them were born four sons: Henry, who died aged thirteen years; William, who is employed by his father, and m. to Agnes Wielands; Herman, employed by his father, and m. to Mary Stehman; and Frederick.


p. 382


Martin S. Croll, President of the National Bank at Topton, Berks Co., Pa., and senior member of the firm of Croll & Smith, manufacturers and jobbers in hats, caps and straw goods, is one of the leading business men of this part of the county and comes from an old and honorable family. Martin S. Croll was born Aug. 19, 1844, in Maxatawny township, Berks Co., Pa., son of John and Catherine (DeLong) Croll. The family is of German extraction and its founder in Pennsylvania was one Philip Croll, who settled in Montgomery county. His four children bore the names of: Christian, Henry, Michael and Polly.

Henry Croll, son of Philip, and great-grandfather of Martin S., married a member of the Gilbert family, and then removed to a farm in the vicinity of Pittsburg, where the rest of his life was spent. Among his numerous children, Joseph was the immediate ancestor of the subject of this sketch.

Joseph Croll was born in Allegheny county, learned the tanning business and worked at that until 1813, when he married and removed to Greenwich township, Berks Co., Pa. He married Elizabeth Schlenker, daughter of John and Barbara (Tressler) Schlenker, and they reared a large family. Later he settled at Krumsville, where he died in 1847, survived by his wife until 1872.

John Croll, son of Joseph and father of Martin S., was born May 19, 1814, near Grimville, Berks Co., Pa. He learned the trade of tailor. In 1838 he removed to a place near Wessnersville, where he lived for one year and then settled at Kutztown, where he followed his trade for about fourteen years, and then, in 1853, removed to North Whitehall township, Lehigh county. He bought a small farm near Schnecksville, and at his home conducted a large tailoring business, giving employment to a dozen workmen. He was a good business man and in addition to conducting this large and profitable business, from 1865 to 1875, he was interested in dealing in timber lands. During the last years of his life he engaged successfully in trucking and huckstering. John Croll was an influential member of the Democratic party, and wherever he lived was solicited to hold office on account of the integrity of his character and his excellent judgment on all matters pertaining to the common good. As early as 1830 he was confirmed in the Lutheran Church, and until his death he remained a consistent member of that religious body. In 1837 be married Catherine DeLong, daughter of David and Catherine DeLong, of Maxatawny township, who was of French Huguenot extraction. They had eight children, six sons and two daughters, namely: Alfred, Hiram, Martin S., Silas, Cyrenius Charles, Elmira, Philip Columbus and Priscilla Susanna.

Martin S. Croll was educated in the local schools and at the Quakertown Academy, following which he taught school for two seasons, but on April 1, 1863, turned his attention to a business career, becoming a clerk for Joseph Miller, a merchant at Foglesville. Some months later he accepted a similar position at Rothrocksville and remained there over three years. On March 1, 1867, he entered into partnership With his brother-in-law, Stephen Smith, and they leased a store and hotel at Monterey, where they conducted a successful business for five years. The business was then removed to Rothrocksville, where they continued until 1889.

In the meantime, Mr. Croll had become interested in additional enterprises. In 1884, the firm became associated with Silas Croll, in a coal and lumber business at Farmington. One year later, Silas Croll withdrew, but the enterprise was continued by the other partners until 1893. In 1892 a farm was purchased at Topton, on which Mr. Croll erected a fine residence. The firm of Croll & Smith, which is located at No. 119 North Sixth street, Reading, is known all over the State as prominent manufacturers and jobbers and also as honorable dealers. It has been before the public for the past twenty.two years. The business is largely wholesale, employment is given to a large force and traveling men of experience represent it in this and other States.

As the head and front of the large financial institution known as the National Bank at Topton, Mr. Croll's prominence and integrity have been recognized. This bank was opened for business July 2, 1906, with the following officers: Martin S. Croll, president; John Hartley, vice president; and A. H. Smith, cashier. The following capitalists make up the board of directors: M. S. Croll, John Hartley, George Schwartz, Rev. J. H. Raker, Edward DeLong, B. Frank Baer, A. P. Smith, Samuel Heacock, Irwin Geary, Dr. J. H. Worley and W. H. Clymer. The bank has met with success from the beginning. It is capitalized at $25,000, and has large fortunes and reliable men behind it. It probably has the most modern bank building of any in this section of the State, its equipment including burglar proof vaults.

On June 10, 1865, Martin S. Croll married Elizabeth A. Grim, daughter of Jonas Grim, a well-known farmer of Lehigh county. They have two sons, William Martin and Charles Alfred, both of whom have proved themselves good business men and enterprising citizens. In his political affiliation, Mr. Croll has always been a Democrat and, at various times, has served in most of the local offices, has been township auditor and deputy collector of internal revenue. For three years he served effectively as a member of the borough council of Topton and has also been town treasurer. Many and increasing business cares have prevented his acceptance of numerous honorable offices and positions of trust at the head of various organizations to which his admiring fellow citizens would have gladly elevated him. He has always taken a lively interest in charitable and philanthropic enterprises, and it was largely due to his earnest efforts that the Lutheran Orphan Home was located at Topton, in 1896. For many years he has been an active worker in the Lutheran Church, in which he has been both elder and deacon. He is a man who, in every respect, is entitled to the good will, respect and thorough esteem of his fellow citizens.


p. 491


William M. Croll, county treasurer of Berks county and junior member of the well-known clothing firm of Heffner, Gilbert & Croll, of Reading, Pa., was born April 9, 1866, in Upper Macungie township, Lehigh Co., Pa., son of Martin S. and Elizabeth (Grim) Croll.

William M. Croll received his early education in the public schools of Berks county, and this was subsequently supplemented by a course at the Keystone State Normal school, and the Eastman Business College at Poughkeepsie, N. Y. He taught school for one year, but in 1889, in company with William H. Smith, engaged in the mercantile business at Rothrocksville, Berks county, this firm continuing in existence until 1897, when Mr. Croll formed a partnership with D. A. Heffner and John W. Gilbert. The firm of Heffner, Gilbert & Croll are the largest dealers in clothing and gentlemen's furnishings in this section of the State. The business was first conducted at No. 528 Penn street, whence in 1904 it was removed to the old Illig stand, larger quarters being necessary, and here it has since continued. Mr. Croll is a thoroughly capable business man, as are his partners, and the firm, enjoys the confidence and patronage of the entire community. He is also secretary and treasurer of the Berks Coal Company, at McCalla, Ala., and in January 1909, was elected a director of the Berks County Trust Company.

In political matters Mr. Croll is an unswerving Democrat and while at Rothrocksville served as postmaster for the Maxatawny postoffice. On April 11, 1908, he was nominated for the office of county treasurer by over 3,800 majority over the next man, and by 1910, over the other four candidates together. At the election in November following he was elected by 6,289 majority, about 3,000 ahead of the National ticket.

In 1889 Mr. Croll was married to Miss Annie M. Kuhns, daughter of L F. Kuhns, proprietor of the "Arlington Hotel" at Statington, Pa, and two children have been born to them: .Amy and Mabel. The family are members of the Lutheran denomination, and attend Trinity Church, Reading. Mr. Croll is a member of Huguenot Lodge, F. & A. M., Kutztown; Reading Chapter, No. 267; Reading Commandery, No. 42, K. T.; and Philadelphia Consistory, 32d degree; Lodge of Perfection, Reading; Rajah Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S.; the P. O. S. of A.; Knights of the Golden Eagle; Knights of the Maccabees; Harmonie Maennerchor; Lodge No. 115, B. P. O. Elks; and Reading Aerie, No. 66, F. O. E.


p. 940


Abraham L. Crouse, a popular salesman and prominent citizen of Sinking Spring, was born near Reinholds Station, Lancaster county, Oct. 11, 1860, of sturdy Revolutionary stock.

Michael Crouse (or Krouse), his great-grandfather, was a German physician and surgeon, but his profession was not to his liking, and he turned to comb-making for an occupation. Emigrating to America he settled in Reading, Pa., but later went to Adamstown. At the outbreak of the Revolution he entered the Patriot army, and during his spare moments in camp he made combs from the horns of cattle that were slaughtered for food for the soldiers. He was the father of five sons, all of whom followed the father's trade.

William Crouse, son of Michael, inherited the business from his father, and in 1824 erected the present factory, in which he worked until his death, in 1872, when he was aged seventy-eight years. He made his combs by hand until 1850, when his son William M. took the initiative and added modern machinery.

William M. Crouse, son of William, was born at Reinholds Station, Aug. 10, 1828, and there he always lived. Besides conducting the old comb factory he carried on a small farm. He married Annie G. Eberly, born June 12, 1838, daughter of Harry and Annie (German) Eberly. Today Mr. and Mrs. Crouse are said to be the oldest homemakers in America. They have long since had their son, George W., as an assistant. They are great entertainers, and Mrs. Crouse knows well how to prepare the popular German dishes, which she serves on plates that are a century and a half old. She has many relics that the emigrants brought over from Germany nearly two hundred years ago. To William M. Crouse and wife were born seven sons and seven daughters, namely: Abraham L., Henry V. E., Mary, George W. (who lives on the homestead), Kate, William E., Annie, Calvin M., Bertha, Amy, Bessie and John, all living; and Edwin and Margaret, who both died in infancy.

Abraham L. Crouse, son of William M., lived at home until he was sixteen years old. Because of the large family his educational advantages were limited, but he managed to secure a practical training that has stood him in good stead. In 1877 he last attended school as a student, and in 1878 he taught the Marshall school in Spring township. He then learned the carpenter's trade under Michael Grimes, of Denver, Pa., an occupation he followed until 1889 with different employers, working as a carpenter foreman for O. B. S. Wilder, of Reading. In 1889 he began traveling for Morgan & Ruth, paint manufacturers of Reading (a firm later incorporated as Morgan, Ruth & Moore Paint Manufacturing Company). He traveled for this house all over the United States east of the Mississippi until 1891, and the following year he entered the employ of L. D. Krause, of Allentown, wholesale shoe dealer, as traveling salesman. He made the change because the less extended territory enabled him to spend more time at home. His territory comprised Berks, Lebanon, Lancaster and part of Montgomery counties. He remained with Mr. Krause until 1895, when he entered the employ of Knorr & Ruth, wholesale shoe dealers, and he travels over Berks, Schuylkill, Lebanon. Lancaster, Dauphin and part of Chester counties, having been the head salesman for this firm since 1902. He also helped to institute the Wernersville National Bank of Berks county.

Mr. Crouse has long been active in the Republican party, and for fourteen years was the committeeman from his township, during eight of which he was secretary of the committee. For one term he was school director, and three terms township clerk in a Democratic district. He is a member of Williamson Lodge, No. 307, F. & A. M., and is a past master by merit, having served in 1902. He was a director of the Reading School of Instruction for four years. He also belongs to Reading Chapter, No. 152, R. A. M., in which he holds office; De Molay Commandery, No. 9, K. T.; and Sinking Spring Lodge, No. 660, I. O. O. F., in which he has been a trustee and chaplain since its institution, in 1903. With his family he belongs to St. John's Lutheran Church of Sinking Spring.

On Dec. 18, 1880, Mr. Crouse was married to Annetta C. H. Umbenhauer, born April 12, 1862, daughter of Jacob and Mary (Huyett) Umbenhauer. They have had children as follows: Jennie M., who married Solomon Steffy, of Sinking Spring; Mamie A., who died in infancy; and Estella K., a stenographer at Reading.


p. 701


Henry Crouse, who was a prominent business man in Reading for many years, was born April 25, 1823, at York, York Co., Pa, and died Sept. 18, 1902

At a tender age Mr. Crouse was thrown entirely upon is own resources, and his success proved his fine character and many sterling qualities. The greater part of his schooling was obtained at night schools, his days being employed with farmers. At the age of nineteen years he learned the comb-making trade of an uncle, at Selinsgrove, and worked at this trade as long as it was profitable selling his combs to the stores in dozen lots. Gradually he added other articles and thus began to handle a few notions. He accepted a position as traveling salesman with William Sagee, a brushmaker, with the understanding that he should also sell combs on his trips. He later traveled independently, selling his notions through Berks and adjoining counties. He packed his goods in a one-horse wagon and went all through the anthracite coal regions. In 1848 he purchased his first large bill of goods, receiving credit at Philadelphia. His wife and mother did not feel that this move was a prudent one, but he had better foresight than they, and by 1853 this and other bills had all been settled and he was ready to go into business on Penn street above Seventh, in Reading. Afterward Mr. Crouse secured quarters on Penn street, then the Keystone house, at the corner of Sixth and Penn, for his notion store an he continued in the business until 1869, when with an ample fortune he retired. In 1870, during the German war with his son Harry W., who had just graduated from Dickinson College at Carlisle, he made a trip around the world, consuming one year and two weeks, and during this time they visited all the principal cities and great show places of the world.

After his return Mr. Crouse felt like getting into business harness again, and soon was interested in a real estate and building business. Later he embarked in a lumbering business at Garland, Warren Co., Pa., which he continued until 1884, when he definitely retired. He was a lifelong member of the M. E. Church and was always active in this body, cheerfully filling many official positions. In 1869 he built the chapel at Ninth and Elm streets, and when the Covenant Memorial M. E. Church was erected, the property and church buildings costing $50,000, he paid all except a debt of $10,000.

Before making his trip around the world, and about 1863, Mr. Crouse had engaged in business at No. 436 Penn street, where the Bon Ton Store is now located. He rented from John S. Pearson and remained there ten years, when he built the four-story iron structure at No. 507 Penn street, the second building of its kind in the city. This property is now owned by Mr. Heim. Mr. Crouse afterward sold out his business to Haas, Loriamy & Dunkle, which firm took possession of his new building, renting it from him.

In 1848 Mr. Crouse married Mary E. Sanders, daughter of William and Mary (Rhoads) Sanders, and they had two children, Clara E. and Henry W. The former married Samuel W. Loveland, an employee of the Pennsylvania Railroad, of forty years' standing, and now chief accountant at Broad street, Philadelphia, and they have two children, Marie and Emily. Henry W. was a graduate of Dickinson College, and at the time of his death, Jan. 7, 1900, was an extensive importer of notions, at No. 345 Broadway, New York City; he married (first) Jennie Thornton, had four children--Elizabeth (an authoress), Clara M. (died aged fourteen months), Lillian J. and Herbert T.--and m. (second) Anna B. Mcguire, and had one child, Donald.

The late Henry Crouse was a Republican in politics, and was a member of the council of Reading although he never sought political honors. He belonged to Chandler Lodge, No. 227, F. & A. M. and to Salome Lodge, I. O. O. F. He was a man who loved his own fireside and took pleasure in providing for the welfare of his family. He is buried in the Charles Evans cemetery, where he had erected a fine monument ten years before his death.


p. 1040


Samuel H. Crow, a dealer in coal and wood in Reading, was born in Chester county, Pa., Dec. 5, 1860, son of George and Wilhelmina (Benner) Crow.

Mr. Crow remained in Chester county till he was about twenty-seven years old. When he left school he worked as a farm laborer till he was of age, and then engaged in agricultural pursuits on his own account till 1887, when he determined to get into some other line of work and so removed to Reading. He secured a place as special officer for the Reading Iron Company and served in that capacity for nine years, but meantime embarked in business on his own account. Opening a coal yard he built up a trade which by 1896 demanded his whole attention. In 1902 he moved to his present location at the corner of Laurel and Ninth streets, formerly the Union Coal Yard. He does a large business and supplies much of the best trade in Reading. Mr. Crow is favorably known all through Reading and vicinity, having earned a reputation as an able and upright business man and good citizen.

In 1882 Mr. Crow married Miss Anna L. Slider, and they had a family of seven children: George H., Florence I., Clarence S., Mabel J., Ethel S., and two that died in infancy. Mrs. Crow died June 21, 1905, at the age of forty-one years. She was a very active member of St. Peter's M. E. Church, to which all the family belong, and had a large circle of friends in the various church organizations, to whom her death was a great loss.

Mr. Crow is connected with a number of social and fraternal organizations among which may be mentioned the Heptasophs; Wyanet Tribe, No. 301, I. O. R. M.; the Jr. O. U. A. M.; and the Knights of Malta. In politics he is independent, disregarding party lines in favor always of those whom he considers the best candidates.


p. 1490


Ludwig Talbot Custer, one of the leading business men of Reading, Pa., who in addition to being president of the Consumers Gas Company, holds numerous other official positions in large financial enterprises, was born in 1835, in New Holland, Lancaster county, Pa., son of Samuel L. and Rachel (Ubil) Custer.

Paulus Kuster, the emigrant ancestor of all of the name in this country, come from Crefeld, Germany, in 1682, and settled near Germantown, Pa., bringing his wife and three sons, Arnold, Johannes and Hermanus. They were members of the Mennonite Church.

Hermanus Custer, the great-great-great-grandfather of Ludwig T., had a son Paul, who married Sarah Martha Ball, daughter of John Ball, of Virginia, a relative of George Washington. It is believed that Mr. and Mrs. Paul Custer settled in Montgomery county, and were agricultural people, although the early records show that they were also woolen yarn manufacturers. Paul Custer purchased 200 acres of land near Skippackville, Montgomery county, but resided in Perkiomen township from 1708 to 1760. To him and his wife were born these children: John, Jonathan, Paul, George and William.

Jonathan Custer, son of Paul and great-grandfather of Ludwig T., married Hannah Kendall, and they had children as follows: Benjamin; Jonathan, Jr.; George; Peter and Hannah who married a Mr. Prutzman.

Jonathan Custer, Jr., son of Jonathan, married Eva Rosanna Ludwig, and to this union were born children as follows: John; Hannah; Samuel L.; Susan; David; George; Michael; Jacob; Aaron; Lewis; Lydia; Rebecca and Solomon, who became a member of the State Legislature. Jonathan Custer settled between Douglassville and Amityville, where he became a large land owner and representative farmer, and died there in 1822, his wife surviving him ten years. In religious belief they were Lutherans. He was a Democrat in politics, but it is not definitely known whether he was an office holder.

Samuel L. Custer, son of Jonathan, Jr., was born in 1793, and early in life he engaged in agricultural pursuits on the home farm. This farm was purchased by three of the sons. Samuel L. farmed it until 1835, when he removed to Lancaster county, where he purchased a property, and there both he and his wife, Rachel Ubil, died. He belonged to the Lutheran Church, while his wife was an Episcopalian. Three children were born to them: William, deceased, who married Lydia Owen, and had children: Wallace, Frank, Charles and Valeria; Ludwig Talbot; and Elizabeth.

Ludwig Talbot Custer was educated in the common schools of Lancaster county, and at Whitehall Academy, Cumberland county, and he remained on the home farm until March 1858, when he became employed in a general mercantile establishment at Wernersville, remaining there until the spring of 1863. Later he was employed by his father-in-law John Musser, at Adamstown, continuing there until 1876, when he began the manufacture of hats, a business he carried on at Adamstown until October 1904. At that place he was burgess from 1893 to 1896. He is president of the Adamstown and Mohnsville Electric Railroad, director of the Kutztown and Fleetwood Electric Railroad; the United Traction Company of Reading; the Reading Power Company; and the Schuylkill Valley Bank, and in May 1903, he became president of the Consumers Gas Company at Reading. Mr. Custer has always had large financial interests to look after, but has invariably given both money and time to encourage public enterprises tending to promote the welfare of the people and the advancement of this section. In 1863 he was married to Kate Musser, and to them have been born two children: Caroline and Elizabeth. Mr. and Mrs. Custer attend the Episcopal Church.

Last Modified Thursday, 16-Oct-2008 20:52:54 EDT

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