Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals by Morton Montgomery


p. 748


In the quiet country graveyard attached to the "Bender's Church" in Butler township, Adams Co., Pa., is a gray slate tombstone bearing the following inscription, in German text:

Hier ruht Der Leib Von
Johan nictlas dietrich
Wahr geboren in deudschlant
ten Den 15 May
Im Yahr Unserres Herren 1727
Und ist Gestorben
Den 23 October
Im Yahr Unserres Herren 1813
Und hatsein Altergebracht
Auf 86 yahr 5 monat Und 8 Tag

A little space from the footstone of this grave is another headstone, also of gray slate, on which is this inscription in italic and gothic lettering:

EHEFRAV Gebohren
Den XV November 1724
October 1752
Lebteimehe stant IV Yahr Ste StarbTen

It will be noted that the arithmetic of the stone-cutter is at fault-married in 1752 and dying in 1797, she could have been married fifty-five years, but born Nov. 15, 1724, and dying July 19, 1797, her age could not have been seventy-two years, four months. Of interest in this connection are two entries contained in the old records of a church in Earl township, Lancaster Co., Pa. (discovered arid transcribed by Luther R. Kelker, State Custodian of Public Records, of Harrisburg). They were made by Rev. John Waldschmidt, a pioneer Reformed minister, who served widely separated congregations in eastern Pennsylvania. These records are as follows:

"Baptisms: Dietrich. Johann Balser, son of Johann Nicholaus, and Anna Margaretha his wife, born Dec. 23, 1754, baptized Jan. 26, 1755, Balser Bosshaar and wife Anna Maria sponsors."

"Marriages: Nicholaus Dietrich, son of deceased Johann Jacob Dietrich, married 31st October, 1752, Anna Margaretha, daughter of Johann Gerhart Shafer."

Unless the Waldschmidt records refer to other Dietrichs, which seems improbable, it is likely that his "Oct. 31" is more accurate than the "Oct. 1" on the inconsistent tombstone. Whether the Johann Jacob Dietrich in the Waldschmidt record emigrated from Germany to this country or died in the Fatherland is uncertain. A certain Jacob Dieterich, aged forty, is recorded in the Pennsylvania Archives as having landed at Philadelphia from the ship "Charming Nancy." Nov. 9, 1738. A Hannus Diedrich came on the ship "Thistle," Sept. 19, 1738, and Johannes Diterichs and (probably his wife) Ann Dederick arrived on the ship "Samuel," Aug. 17, 1731. Whether either of these was the father of John Nicholas is uncertain. There is no record of a John Jacob Dietrich as an immigrant after 1731. As to the date of arrival of John Nicholas Dietrich we have, at present writing, no certain information. The Archives show, however, that on Oct. 7, 1749, one Nicholas Dietrich landed from the ship "Leslie," Captain J. Ballendine, from Rotterdam. On this ship came 121 immigrants, among them Frederick Bender, Johan Rudolph Muller, Johan Wilhelm Arendt, Georg Mnd Peter Miller. These being names of early settlers in Adams county, (then York), it may be reasonably inferred that the Nicholas Dietrich arriving at that time was the "Johan Nictlas Dietrich" of Bender's churchyard, whose stone declares that he "wahr geboren in deudschlant." The "Pennsylvania Archives" also give a "Niclas Deederich" as arriving on the ship "Mary Galley," qualifying on Sept. 7, 1748. His name is first on the list and was spelled on the original list "Derrick."

To John Nicholas Dietrich arid his wife Anna Margeretha were born (in addition to the Johann Balser of Waldschmidt's record, of whom we have no further knowledge), according to tombstones in the same churchyard: Nicholas Dietrich, whose wife Mary Ann "Deatrick" lies buried by his side; Margret Tietrich; William Dietrick; Michael Dietrich; and Martin Dietrich.

Nicholas Dietrich and his wife Mary Ann died childless, but tradition has it that they acted as father and mother to the children of others; bringing up in their home, as some say, no less than seventeen children of other families. Margaret and William never married. On the tombstone of William is this line: "A Patriot of the Revolution." As he was only twenty-one years of age at the close of that war he must have been a youthful soldier. He fell asleep on his country's birthday, July 4, 1848, at the ripe age of eighty-six years.

Michael Dietrich married Sophia daughter of Rudolph Spangler (or Spengler), who resided near Heidlersburg later near Abbottstown, Adams county. To this couple were born nine children: Nicholas, Jacob, Rudolph, Michael, Christiana (m. Jesse Smith), Mary (m. George Keyser), Sarah (m. Daniel Fidler) and Margaret and Catherine, the last two of whom died unmarried.

Nicholas Dietrich, eldest son of Michael, married March 21, 1822, Margaret, daughter of Nicholas and Rebecca (Bushey) Miller. Nicholas was a hard-working. industrious farmer, owning an estate in Tyrone township, known as "Cranberry," from the wild cranberries growing in a marsh near the farm house. Their seven children were: William Miller, Michael, John Bushey, Anna Elizabeth (m. Adam Bream), Jacob Spangler, Abraham, and Howard Nicholas. Of these John B., who died unmarried, was a soldier in the Civil war.

The eldest. son, William Miller Deatrick, was born Jan, 22, 1823. At an early age he was impressed with a desire to become a minister of the Gospel. The way to this calling did not seem open, and so for some time he worked at the trade of milling. At last he gathered funds to go to college, and in 1848 he graduated from Marshall College at Mercersburg, Pa. He continued his studies in the Theological Seminary of the (German) Reformed Church, at the same place, graduating from that institution in 1851, and was licensed to be a minister of the Reformed Church. He was ordained in 1852, and his first charge was at Huntingdon, Pa. During his time of preparation for the ministry, he taught school at Norristown, Mifflinburg, and Milton, Pa., also at Manchester, Md. In 1856 he removed to Pattonsville (now Loysburg), Pa., where he served the"Yellow Creek Charge," a laborious field. In 1862 he removed to Friends Cove, Pa. This charge was also a laborious one, the minister being obliged to ride on horse-back across a high mountain, over a bridle-path (there was no driving road) to serve several of the more distant congregations of his extended parish. He was, indeed, a pioneer abundant in labors. In 1875 he gave up the active work of the ministry to become the Financial Secretary of Mercersburg College, an institution in which he was deeply interested. To attend to the duties of his new, office he removed with his family to Mercersburg, Pa. Later he became President of the Board of Regents of Mercersburg college, and to the service of that institution he gave unstintively of his time and money, the latter hard earned and saved with incredible economy. During the dark days of that institution which now, as Mercersburg Academy, enjoys a high degree of prosperity and ranks, under Dr. William Mann Irvine, as one of the foremost schools for boys in America, Dr. W. M. Deatrick bore for some years the brunt of the financial burden, really saving the school from bankruptcy and extinction, and preserving it for the church he loved so well. For forty-four years he was Stated Clerk for Mercersburg Classis, and for thirty years its treasurer. He was also Stated Clerk of the Potomac Synod for twenty-eight years, and treasurer of the Board of Education of the Synod for twenty-five years until his death, which occurred at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Charles V. Smith, at Bedford, Pa., May 6, 1901. He was also President of the Society for the Relief of Ministers and their Widows until he was called from the labors of earth. The Rev. W. M. Deatrick received from his alma mater the degree of A. M. in course, and in 1887 had conferred upon him, in recognition of his signal services in behalf of his church, by Franklin and Marshall College, at Lancaster, Pa., the degree of' Doctor of Divinity.

Dr. Deatrick married Nov. 9, 1852, Miss Harriet Peyton Sohn, born March 3, 1818, in Martinsburg, W. Va., daughter of Conrad and Ann Ranson Sohn, of Mercersburg. Her mother's maiden name was Christian and she came of a prominent Virginian family, intermarried with the Ransons, Peytons, and Washingtons of that State. She died Aug. 3, 1884, and is buried by the side of her husband and parents in the beautiful "Fairview Cemetery," on the southern outskirts of Mercersburg, the home of her youth and last years. This union was blessed with three-children: (1) William Wilberforce Deatrick, A. M., Sc. D. (2) Rev. Edward Ranson Deatrick, B. D., born in 1856, graduated from Mercersburg College in 1879, and from the Reformed Theological Seminary at Lancaster in 1884. In the same year he was sent as home missionary to Baltimore, where he succeeded in founding a number of churches, becoming settled pastor of one in Woodberry, one of the suburbs of that city, and remaining in charge until May of 1906, when he assumed the pastorate at Mt. Pleasant, Pa. He married in 1890, Miss Mary A. K. Everhart, and one child, Anna Marguerite, has blessed this union. (3) Ann Margaret, born in 1864, graduated from the female department of Mercersburg College in 1884, and in 1896, she married Charles V. Smith, A. M., then professor in Mercersburg Academy, lately principal of Kittanning Academy, Kittanning, Pa.; they have, two children, Arthur Deatrick and Harriet Peyton.

William Wilberforce Deatrick was born in Huntingdon, Pa., Aug. 1, 1853. He and his brother, Edward R., attended public school in an old stone school-house near their father's church in Friends Cove. For several terms in summer he attended an academy known as Allegheny Seminary, at Rainsburg, about four miles from his home, the daily journey being made, for the most part, on foot. When only sixteen year's of age he began teaching, being employed to teach a short unexpired term of the home public school. From 1870 to 1872 he taught regularly in the public schools of the township, having won in examination under the county superintendent a certificate averaging only a slight fraction over one. Latin and Greek were studied under his father and, in the autumn of 1872, he entered Mercersburg College as a freshman. Here he came under the influence of the eminent educator and theologian, Dr. Elnathan E. Higbee, to whose inspiration he attributes, in large measure, the success he has himself attained as a thinker and teacher. In 1876 he graduated from the college with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. Continuing his studies, he received from the same institution, three years later, the degree of Master of Arts. In the autumn of 1876 he took up the study of theology in the Theological Department of Mercersburg College. To secure, in part, the funds necessary to the prosecution of his studies he engaged, during his vacations, in the sale of books and during the winters served as tutor in the preparatory school attached to his alma Mater. During the summer of 1878 he was a member of the faculty of Juniata Collegiate Institute, a secondary school or academy, located at Martinsburg, Pa. In the autumn of 1878 he entered the senior class of the Theological Seminary at Lancaster, from which institution he graduated in May, 1879. He was licensed to preach a few days later by the Mercersburg Classis of the Reformed Church, then in session at Shippensburg, Pennsylvania.

No call coming to him at that time to a pastoral charge, he returned to Martinsburg, where he taught again during the summer. Late in the same year he was elected principal of the public schools of Milton, Pa., closing his work there at the end of the school year, declining a re-election, on the night preceding the day of the dreadful fire of 1880 which laid the beautiful town in ashes. By this time he had received three calls to churches, one being in Washington, D. C. Of these he accepted the call to the New Centerville charge in Somerset county, Pa., where he began his labors as pastor on June 1, 1880, receiving ordination on the 18th of the same month. In this field of ministerial activity he labored for three and one half years. In December, 1883, he removed to Rimersburg, Clarion Co., Pa., and in January, 1884, re-opened the Clarion Collegiate Institute in that town. This institution of the Reformed Church had been closed for some time. Under his management as principal the building was put in excellent repair, a considerable debt paid, and a vigorous school built up. For seven and one-half years be labored there with indefatigable zeal and was instrumental in preparing a number of young men for college, of whom a goodly proportion found their way into the ministry of the denomination under the auspices of which the institution was conducted.

In 1891 he was elected to the chair of Psychology and Pedagogy in the Keystone State Normal School at Kutztown,. Pa., then under the principalship of Rev. Nathan, C. Schaeffer, Ph. D., the present Superintendent of Public Instruction of the State of Pennsylvania. Later, owing to enlargement of the faculty and consequent re-arrangement of the work, his duties were slightly changed, and he is now, as for some years he has been, Professor of Psychology and Higher English, the Higher English comprising rhetoric, English literature, and the English classics. Since his connection with the Normal school he has been active as an institute instructor, and a worker and lecturer at Chautauquas and elsewhere. His engagements at county institutes have taken him not only to many counties in his native State, but to the States of New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. For a number of seasons he was on the teaching force of the Pennsylvania Chautauqua at Mount Gretna, giving, in addition to classroom work, each year an illustrated lecture.

Although not serving as a pastor in charge since 1883, he has been active as a clergyman. During the eighties he "supplied" churches of his denomination at DuBois, St. Petersburg, Emlenton, and Kittanning. In 1903 he filled the pulpit of the First Reformed Church in Reading, during the illness of the pastor, Rev. Dr. H. Mosser, for a period of eight months, preaching regularly each alternate Sunday. A part of his duties at the Normal school during the past eighteen years has been to take turns with other ministerial members of the faculty, in preaching to the students in the chapel, about once every three weeks. Frequent summons from churches in Reading and elsewhere have kept him fairly well occupied in sermonizing. In addition to these labors, he has been, for eighteen years, chorister of St. Paul's Reformed Church, Kutztown, in the Sunday-school of which church he was superintendent for ten years.

Notwithstanding the multiplicity of his duties in school and church he has yet found time for some literary work. He has been a contributor to religious and educational periodicals. For half a year before he left Rimersburg he edited and published The Rimersburg Courier, a weekly local newspaper. For about thirteen years past he has been on the staff of The Kutztown Patriot, writing weekly editorials, many of which have attracted the attention of, and been reprinted by, colleagues of the press. From June, 1902, to September, 1905, he was editor, and manager for most of the time, of The Pennsylvania Chautauquan, the quarterly and, during the sessions of the Assembly, the daily organ of the Mount Gretna Chautauqua. He was one of the joint authors of a voluminous "History of Clarion County," published in 1887. He is author of a text book on physiological psychology, entitled "The Human Mind and Its Physical Basis," now undergoing revision for a second edition. He has under way, in addition to this revised and enlarged edition of the psychology, two smaller manuals, one on the study of poetry and the other on letter writing. In recognition of his ability as an educator, of the thoroughness of his scientific studies and his scholarship, as well as of the excellence of his book, Franklin and Marshall College, at its Golden Jubilee in 1903, bestowed on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Science. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Educational Association, having organized the Child-Study Section of that body and been for several years president of the Child-Study Section. He has been for eighteen years an "active member" of the National Educational Association, and for ten years has maintained membership in the Pennsylvania-German Society. He is also a member of the Berks County Historical Society. In November, 1907, he was appointed a member of the Advisory Council of the Simplified Spelling Board, this council being composed of about a hundred of the leading educators of America.

On June 15, 1881, Dr. Deatrick married Miss Emma Jane, daughter of Levi and Matilda (Hackenberg) Balliet, of Milton, Pa. Mr. Balliet was a son of John and Elizabeth (Schreiber) Balliet. This John Balliet was a son of John Balliet and his wife, Catherine M. Mickley (a daughter of John Jacob Mickley, who hauled the Liberty Bell from Philadelphia to Allentown during the American Revolution), both of Whitehall, Lehigh county. The elder John Balliet (1761-1837) was the fourth son of Paulus Balliet who, with his wife Maria Magdalena (Wotring) Balliet, lies buried in the southeast section of the old walled burial ground of the Union Church in Whitehall. This Paulus Balliet was the first of the race of Balliets in Whitehall. He was a French Huguenot, born in the Province of Alsace on the Rhine, in 1717. "At the age of about twenty-one years he was compelled, with many other French Protestants, to seek refuge in a foreign country, on account of the terrible persecutions of the Huguenots after the revocation of the famous Edict of Nantes at the close of the seventeenth century, by the then reigning King Louis XIV. He embarked for America on board ship 'Robert Oliver,' of the Palatines, Walter Goodman, commander, Sept. 10, 1738." He located at what is known as the "Old Balliet Stand," in Whitehall township, Lehigh county, in 1749, on a tract of land containing a little over ninety-seven acres, secured, by a deed from Thomas Penn and Richard Penn. From time to time Paulus added to his lands, until his estate embraced over 700 acres. According to tradition, he was known as "Bowl" Balliet, a name given to him by the Indians to whom he was accustomed, as landlord at Ballietsville, to furnish refreshments from a wooden bowl. He became a naturalized American citizen in the year 1759. His wife, Maria Magdalena Wotring, according to tradition, was born A. D. 1727, in the province of Lothringen (now Lorraine) in France. She died in. 1802, aged seventy-five years. It is presumed that they married in this country. Paulus died March 19, 1777, aged sixty years."

Mrs. Matilda (Hackenberg) Balliet, born Aug. 1, 1825, at Freeburg, Union (now Snyder) county, Pa., died Sept. 26, 1903, at Kutztown, was a daughter-the fourth child in a family of eleven children-of Johann Peter Hachenberg and his wife Anna Mary (born Haines). She was fifth in direct descent from Peter Hachenberg, prince of a township and "dorfe" of about 2,000 inhabitants in Germany, which bears the name of "Hachenberg" to this day, known from his love of the chase as "the Hunting Prince of Hackenberg." He was the father of Caspar Frederick Hachenberg, who, going to England; held a Greek professorship in one of the universities, where he wrote one of the most perfect of Greek grammars, the basis of the one by Goodrich used generally in American colleges some years ago. He was also author of a law book "Hachenberg's Media," still quoted in American courts. His youngest son, Johann Peter Hachenberg, came to America in 1764 and settled at Freeburg, where, being a skilled linguist, he taught Latin, Greek, French and German. He also had local fame as a mathematician. As ensign of "the Flying Camp" of Col. Baxter's regiment he served through the Revolutionary war, was taken prisoner at Fort Washington (one account says "at Trenton"), and was sent by the British to Long Island. He died March 4, 1820. His son, Peter Hachenberg (1773-1847), was a surveyor, justice of the peace, register and recorder of Union county (1821) and county commissioner (1830). He spent the latter half of his life in New Berlin but, with his wife, lies buried at Freeburg, the home of his youth. His fourth son, the father of Mrs. Balliet, Johann Peter Hachenberg (1800-1870), was in youth a carpenter and joiner by trade, following also the occupation of surveyor and conveyancer. In 1823 he, too, was appointed justice of the peace, holding office till 1836, when he removed from Freeburg to McEwensville, Montour county, where later he conducted a general store. In 1834 he was Antimasonic delegate to the, New Berlin Convention. In 1836 he was appointed supervisor of the West Branch of the, Pennsylvania Canal. Two years later he gave up this office to devote his time to building and contracting. While thus engaged, in partnership with John P. Schuyler, he erected the bridge over the West Branch of the Susquehanna at Northumberland. In 1854, having sold his store to Len Balliet, he moved to White Pigeon, Mich., where he engaged in merchandising to the day of his death. Levi Balliet and Matilda Balliet, parents of Mrs. Deatrick, are buried in the "lower" cemetery at Milton, Pennsylvania

To William Wilberforce and Emma (Balliet) Deatrick have been born five children. Of these the two eldest, boys, died in early childhood. There are living at the present writing: Ethel Matilda, born 1886, who graduated, June, 1909, from the classical department of Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa.; Eugene Peyton, born 1889, a member of the class of 1911, in the classical department of Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pa.; and Anna Louise, born 1896, who is a student in the Keystone State Normal School The family lives on Normal Hill in a substantial and comfortable home, a brick building owned by Dr. Dietrich and built by him in 1898.


p. 1669


William Dechant, C. E., a civil engineer and surveyor, located at No. 536 Penn street, Reading, Pa., began the struggle for self support without means in the capacity of messenger boy on the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad, and by perseverance and industry has worked his way up to his present enviable standing in the community. He was born in Perry county, Ohio, and is a son of Rev. Frederick W. and Angeline (Boyer) Dechant.

William Dechant, the grandfather of William H., was born in Germany, and came to America at the beginning of the nineteenth century, locating in Oley township. He was prepared for the ministry of the Reformed Church, had a charge in Oley township for many years, and was buried in the churchyard. He had considerable influence and was well known throughout the county. He was the progenitor of a large family of children, one of whom was Rev. Frederick W., the father of our subject.

Rev. Frederick W. Dechant was born in Oley township, Berks county, Pa., Dec. 25, 1812, and received his intellectual training in the public schools of his native town and in Mercersburg College, from which he graduated. He was prepared for the ministry of the Reformed Church, and was ordained to preach, making the cause of Christianity his life work. His labors were mostly in Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana where he accomplished a great and good work. He was an excellent German scholar, and worked principally among the German people, preaching to them in their native tongue. His earnest aim was to assist his fellowmen. He had a high ideal of manhood, and lived up to it in every respect. He was united in matrimonial bonds with Angeline Boyer, a daughter of Henry Boyer, after whom the village of Boyertown was named, and a member of one of the oldest and best known families of Berks county. The following children were born to them: Sarah Rebecca; William H.; Calvin M., who is a civil engineer in the employ of his brother; and Adelaide, the wife of Edwin Chamberlain of Reading.

William H. Dechant received his education in the public schools of Western Pennsylvania and in Philadelphia, after which he entered the employ of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad as a messenger boy. He then learned telegraphy, and was an operator for the same company from 1866 to 1871, when he was promoted to a position in the engineering office of the canal department. He then began the study of engineering, and after a few months of preliminary work became assistant engineer, remaining in that department until 1884, when he was placed in charge as roadmaster of the Tamaqua Division of the Pennsylvania & Reading Railroad. Eighteen months later the company was reorganized and Mr. Dechant was given a division engineership on the Mahanoy Division, which embraces all of the railroads in the Mahanoy coal fields, with headquarters at Mahanoy Plane. By that time he had gained largely in experience, as his work in connection with the canal gave him good training in the construction of locks, dams, aqueducts, etc., and in the measurement and control of extensive water powers. While with the railroad company he laid the foundation for the bridge across the Susquehanna River at Sunbury, repaired and rebuilt the high trestles on the Catawissa and the Nesquehoning Valley branches. His many years of experience in the various lines of work created a demand for his services, and, in 1886, he was called to Reading to take charge of the miscellaneous engineering business of the Kendall Brothers, and served as manager of that firm for five years. At the expiration of that time or in 1891, he succeeded to the ownership of the business and has since conducted it on his own account, making a specialty of civil and hydraulic engineering. Some of the most important work performed by him since he has been established in business was for the following organizations: Shamokin Water Company, Sunbury Water Company, Bloomsburg Water Company, Gettysburg Water Company, Birdsboro Water Company, the Sinking Spring Water Company, the City of Reading Water Department, and several water power dams. He has also done engineering work for the Mount Penn Gravity Railroad; the Never Sink Mountain Railroad, in connection with the latter also putting in the electric power plant; he located the Mohnsville & Adamstown Railroad, and the extension of the Reading & Southwestern Railroad. He has done satisfactory engineering work for the commissioners on county bridge building since 1894. Along the line of contract work he performed a very difficult task in the laying of a 30 inch iron pipe for the sewage disposal of the city of Reading and he is now engaged, in company with Edwin Chamberlain, in laying a line of 36 inch cast iron pipe in the Susquehanna river at Binghamton, New York.

On Dec. 15, 1885, Mr. Dechant was united in marriage with Rebecca Catherine Hagman, a daughter of Frederick Hagman of Philadelphia. and they are the parents of three children, namely: Frederick H., who was born Aug. 31, 1887; Miles B., who was born Jan. 9, 1889; and Mary A., who was born March 31, 1893. Religiously they are members of the Reformed Church, and Mr. Dechant has been an elder in St. Paul's Memorial Church of Reading for many years. He is a member of the executive committee of the Berks County Sabbath School Association, which is a branch of the state organization. He is much interested in all enterprises having for their object the elevation of the social and moral standing of the community. He is also a member of the board of managers of the Y. M. C. A. of Reading.


p. 888


Among the representative citizens of Berks county none was more worthy of mention in this volume than Adam Dechert, late a retired citizen of Sinking Spring, who for many years was prominent in business and religious circles in Spring township. Mr. Dechert was born Aug. 23, 1823, in Lower Heidelberg township, son of Daniel and Maria Magdalena (Lerch) Dechert.

Records prove that the first of this family to come to America was Peter Dechert, who emigrated from Rotterdam to Pennsylvania in 1752. He settled in Cumru township, Berks county, where he owned a farm of 183 acres, and in the cultivation of this land he was engaged until his death in 1784, He became the owner of the hotel at Sinking Spring, Sept. 26, 1768. On July 19, 1784, his widow, Elizabeth, applied for an order of sale to dispose of certain real estate. In a later petition the children named are John, William, Jacob, Peter, Michael, Daniel and the petitioner, George. Peter Dechert, the emigrant, was a captain in the Revolutionary war from Jan. 5, 1776, to Feb. 3, 1777. His company, which was raised in the vicinity of Reading, was in active service in New York and on Nov. 16, 1776, was captured by Howe's army.

John Dechert, son of Capt. Peter, was a farmer in the western section of Berks county. He married Deborah Davis, daughter of James Davis. They had five children, namely: (1) Elijah was a prominent member of the Reading Bar and on account of ill health moved in 1852 to Philadelphia, where he died in 1854. He married Mary Williams Porter, and their son, Henry Martyn, is well known in Berks county and also in Philadelphia, where he resides. (2) Johan, born May 5, 1790, died Dec. 5, 1864, aged seventy-four years, seven months. He married Maria Strunk, born Feb. 24, 1793, died Oct. 14, 1881, aged eighty-eight years, seven months, twenty days. (3) Daniel is mentioned below. (4) Hannah, born June 4. 1795, died Aug. 18, 1815. (5) Samuel settled in Miamisburg, Ohio, and was engaged in the mercantile business. He married and had two children, George L., and. Clara (who married Isaac Kay, M. D.), who both reside at Springfield, Ohio.

Daniel Dechert, father of Adam, born in Berks county June 4, 1793, died Sept. 17, 1884, aged ninety-one years, three months, thirteen days, and is buried in the family lot at Sinking Spring. He was a Lutheran in religious belief. He was a carpenter by trade, but in middle life he engaged in agricultural pursuits in Lower Heidelberg, his farm passing into the possession of his son, Adam. His wife, Maria Magdalena (Lerch), was born Feb. 23, 1791, daughter of John Lerch, of Heidelberg, and died Sept. 30, 1872, aged eighty-one years, seven months, seven days. Four children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Dechert, as follows Adam is mentioned below; Ellen. born Jan. 11, 1826, married Benjamin B. Reber. and died March 7, 1895, aged sixty-nine years, one month, twenty-seven days; Angelina married Adam Althouse; James, born Sept. 1, 1832, died March 18, 1900, aged sixty-seven years, six months, seventeen days.

Photo of Adam DechertAdam Dechert was educated in the old German pay schools of his day, when the Psalter and the New Testament were the text-books, and the school term consisted of from two to three months. He received an ordinary education in German, and afterward became fairly conversant with the English language and kept well posted on the topics of the day; he read the Reading Eagle continuously from 1862 until his death, Oct. 3, 1907. Though advanced in years, Mr. Dechert was well preserved in body and mind. He was brought up to farm work, and remained at home with his parents until twenty-four years of age, when he engaged in agricultural pursuits on his own account in Heidelberg township, continuing there until locating in Sinking Spring in 1859. He purchased the old John Heffner stand, which included the present Sinking Spring hotel and twenty-eight acres of land, but this he sold after three and one-half years to Hertz & Rathman, also disposing of some of the land. In 1863 he erected his late residence near the toll-gate, where he afterward made his home. After selling the hotel property Mr. Dechert engaged in farming, but after 1895 he lived in retirement. In politics he was a Democrat, but he never cared for public office. For ten years he was manager of the Berks and Dauphin turnpike from Reading to above Sinking Spring, a distance of five miles, serving capably and faithfully in this position. After 1860 he was treasurer of the Sinking Spring cemetery, rendering good service until his death. He was, one of the building committee of the two Sinking Spring churches, and was a liberal contributor to both, giving $2,600 toward the building of St. John's Lutheran church, in which he was deacon and elder. His remains rest in the family lot at Sinking Spring, where are also interred those of his wife and brother. He purchased an acre of ground for the Lutheran congregation at Sinking Spring, this plot to be used for burial purposes for the poor who were unable to buy lots. This he presented to the congregation free of all costs, as an addition to their new cemetery.

Mr. Dechert lived a clean, honest and upright life, and was a useful man in his community. He was a good manager, and at his death his estate was valued at upward of $50,000, including among other property the old homestead in Lower Heidelberg, of 182 acres, and an adjoining farm of 132 acres.

In 1851 Mr. Dechert was married to Maria Weitzel, born March 31, 1819, who died Oct. 11, 1891, aged seventy-two years, six months, eleven days. They reared as their own daughter a niece, Maria Weitzel, who married Frank Hertz, and had a daughter, Sallie R. On Oct. 6, 1894, Sallie R. Hertz married Elmer F. Miller, who came to Adam Dechert's family when ten years of age and was in his family for twenty-eight years, up to the time of his death. Mr. and Mrs. Miller have two sons, Adam E. and Mahlon M. They resided with Mr. Dechert, taking the best of care of him in his later years, and at his death they were bequested the home at Sinking Spring.


p. 904


Henry Martyn Dechert. In considering the prominent and representative men of Reading, Berks Co., Pa., the name and personality of Henry Martyn Dechert comes readily to mind as lawyer, financier and citizen. Mr. Dechert was born at Reading, March 11, 1832, son of Elijah and Mary Williams (Porter) Dechert. His father was a prominent member of the Reading Bar.

The family is of German extraction, descending from Capt. Peter Dechert, who emigrated from Rotterdam to Pennsylvania in 1752, and became the owner of a farm of 185 acres in Cumru township, Berks county. From Jan. 5, 1776, to Feb. 3, 1777, he was captain of a company recruited, for service in the Revolution, in the vicinity of Reading, and saw service in New York; they were captured, Nov. 16, 1776, by Howe's army. On July 19, 1784, his widow Elizabeth applied for an order of sale to dispose of certain real estate. In a later petition the children named are John, William, Jacob, Peter, Michael, Daniel and the petitioner, George.

John Dechert, son of Capt. Peter, was a farmer in the western section of Berks county. He married Deborah Davis, daughter of James Davis. They had five children, namely: (1) Elijah is mentioned below. (2) Johan, born May 5, 1790, died Dec. 5, 1864, aged seventy-four years, seven months. He married Maria Strunk, born Feb. 24, 1793, died Oct. 14, 1881, aged eighty-eight years, seven months, twenty days. (3) Daniel married Maria Magdalena Lerch. (4) Hannah, born June 4, 1795, died Aug. 18, 1815 (5) Samuel, born Jan. 7, 1808, in Berks county, settled in Miamisburg, Ohio, and was engaged in the mercantile business. He died in Springfield, Ohio, April 7, 1884. He married Caroline E. Hoff, born in Lancaster, Pa., Sept. 7, 1808, died Dec. 4, 1886, in Springfield, Ohio, and they had six children: Frank William, born Nov. 14, 1830, died in California; Clara Maria, born Nov. 25, 1832, married Dr. Isaac Kay, Nov. 4, 1852, and they live in Springfield, Ohio (they have two sons, Charles S., now age fifty-four years, and Clarence K., now aged fifty-two years, both living in Springfield): George Leonard, born Dec. 29, 1834, died March 1, 1891; Henry David, born Jan. 1, 1836, died Oct. 29, 1853; Margaret Deborah, born Nov. 18, 1838, died Aug. 10, 1875; Clay Harrison, born Sept. 2, 1841, is living in Germantown, Ohio.

Elijah Dechert, son of John, who was born in Spring township, Berks county, Oct. 15, 1799, died in Philadelphia June 14, 1854. He married Mary Williams, daughter of the Hon. Robert Porter, president judge of the judicial district compromising Berks, Northampton and Lehigh counties. Mr. Dechert was a prominent member of the Reading Bar, and on account of ill health moved to Philadelphia in 1852. Two of his sons became prominent there, Henry M. and Robert P. The latter, Robert Porter Dechert, was a distinguished soldier as lieutenant-colonel of the 29th Pennsylvania Volunteers from 1861 to 1865; was city controller for six years; and at the time of his death, May 12, 1894, was brigadier-general commanding the 1st Brigade, N. G. P. He was a leading member of the Philadelphia Bar at the time of his death.

On the maternal side Mr. Dechert is of Irish extraction. The Porter family derives descent from Robert Porter, who emigrated from Belfast, Ireland, in 1720, and became a farmer at Norristown, Pa. He was the father of Col. Andrew Porter, of the Fourth Regiment of Pennsylvania artillery. The mother of Mr. Dechert was a daughter of his son, Hon. Robert Porter, once presiding judge of the judicial district comprising Berks, Northampton and Lehigh counties, a lieutenant of the Fourth Pennsylvania Line during the Revolutionary war.

Henry Martyn Dechert was educated primarily in the schools of his native city, and then entered Yale College, where he was graduated in 1850. After two years of experience as principal of Mt. Pleasant Academy for Boys, at Boyertown, Pa., he took up the study of law, first in his father's office at Reading, and later in the office of Charles B. Penrose, Esq., of Philadelphia, and was admitted to the Bar in 1854. Being of studious habits, a ready and effective speaker, he soon achieved success in general practice, particularly in the trial of cases before the various courts. He early adopted as a specialty real estate and OrphanĘ³ Court practice. In 1862 and 1863 he volunteered for service in the Union army and served as lieutenant of the 23d and the 40th Pennsylvania regiments.

Mr. Dechert practised law for thirty-two years, becoming prominent in the profession. In 1886, on the foundation of the Commonwealth Title, Insurance and Trust Company, he was chosen its president and held the position until 1906, when after twenty years' service, he declined re-election on account of his age and was chosen chairman of the board and of the executive committee, which position he continues to occupy. The corporation, which has become an important factor in the financial life of Philadelphia, has been notably successful. The stock is held by lawyers, capitalists, conveyancers and real estate brokers.

Mr. Dechert is a director in several other financial institutions; is president of the State Asylum for the Chronic Insane of Pennsylvania, the institution situated at South Mountain, Berks county; is president of the West Philadelphia Institute, of the Young Men's Institute, of the Western Home for Poor Children and of the Midnight Mission for Wayward Girls; and is vice president of the Pennsylvania Society to Protect Children from Cruelty. He is a member of Meade Post, No. I. G. A. R.; of the Sons of the Revolution; and of the Art, Lawyers, Belmont and University Clubs, of Philadelphia, and of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He is treasurer of the Sinking Fund of the Grand Lodge of the F. & A. M. of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Dechert was married Sept. 15, 1857, to Esther S., daughter of Thomas S. Taylor. She died Nov. 6, 1890. Of their four children two sons and one daughter survive: Henry T. Dechert, a leading member of the Bar of Philadelphia, and late colonel of the 2d Regiment, N. G. P.; Edward P., a journalist; and Bertha M., wife of Charles H. Gale, a lawyer of Cleveland, Ohio.


p. 1307


O. W. Deck, who was for many years a teacher throughout Pennsylvania and other States, and acquired a very favorable reputation in that profession, was, in 1904, acting in the capacity of cashier for the Canada Life Assurance Company, having charge of the Central Pennsylvania branch, consisting of five counties.

The Deck family traces its origin to the Palatinate immigration of early Colonial times. Mathias Dek, aged thirty-seven years, landed by the ship 'Harle," Sept. 1, 1736. Four years later his son Johann Frederick was born, after he had located on a small tract of land in Tulpehocken township, in the "Fogelsbirge," near Host, which remained in the possession of the Deck family for over a century. Johann Frederick died in 1820, when the farm became the property of his son Henry (born 1782). There were other sons, but their names and number is not now definitely known. One was John, another Frederick, and a third, George. The first named moved to Virginia, and settled near Winchester, in Frederick county, where he died in 1847. Frederick never became possessed with the "wanderlust," it seems, and remained in the State, but where he lived is not now known. George followed his brother into Virginia (now West Virginia), and settled near Martinsburg, where several of his descendants yet reside.

Henry Deck died at the old homestead in 1854, and the property came into the possession of his son Matthias, who, however, some years before this time had moved to Lebanon county, near Jonestown, where our subject's father, Isaac Z., was born in 1837. Matthias tilled the farm faithfully, being assisted by his seven sons: Henry, a victim of the Civil war; Jonathan, who died at Hamburg, this county, in 1893; Israel, who died in early manhood, unmarried; Isaac Z., who died in Easton, Pa., in 1897; Samuel, now living at West Leesport; Willoughby, who lives at present at Oakbrook, a suburb of Reading; and John, a veteran of the Civil war, now living at Rehrersburg. When Matthias Deck retired from active life, in his old age, he sold the farm, soon after the end of the Civil war, to a Mr. Webber ? by which act it ceased to be associated with the Deck family in ownership, after undivided possession for a century and a quarter.

Isaac Z. Deck was a school teacher for twenty-eight years, and was also church organist in the old Lutheran Church at Rehrersburg for twenty years. He was elected to the Legislature from Rehrersburg for two terms, and died in 1897, at Easton, Pa., aged sixty years. He married a Miss Wagner, daughter of Daniel L. Wagner, a farmer of near Bernville, Berks county. Five children were born to this union: Eva m. S. P. Wilhelm, of Bernville, and died in August, 1905; Delos, of Easton, a granite cutter, is in the employ of the Easton Traction Company; Blanche m. George W. Snyder, railway mail clerk at Reading; Daphne, a graduate of the Reading High School, is now stenographer and typewriter for the Sun Wall Paper Company, of Reading; and O. W. is our subject.

O. W. Deck was born in Womelsdorf, Berks county, and was educated in the schools of that county and of Schuylkill county. He also attended Normal schools in Pennsylvania and Ohio. His first occupation was that of marble cutting, which he followed from the time he was fourteen years old until he was twenty, and part of this time he spent in attending school. He started teaching school at the age of twenty years, and followed that occupation for a like period of time in Berks, Perry and Luzerne counties, Pa., and in Monmouth county, N. J. Tiring of teaching, Mr. Deck returned to Reading, where he held the position of Cashier in the Central Penna. Branch of the Canada Life until the Branch was merged with the Philadelphia Branch of that Company. He is now bookkeeper for the Reading Quarry Company, located in Temple, five miles out from Reading.


p. 956


Luke M. Deeds, late superintendent of the Deeds Floral Company, of Shillington, Berks county, Pa., who was known as the leading florist of this section, and throughout eastern Pennsylvania as a trainer of horses, was born July 21, 1874, in Shillington, son of Owen and Mary (Miller) Deeds.

Thomas Deeds, the progenitor of the family in America, was a native of England, and came to this country long before the Revolutionary war, settling in Chester county, Pa. Among his sons was Henry, the great-grandfather of Luke M. He came to Cumru township about 1794, and at the time of his death owned a farm there.

Henry Deeds was born Oct. 10, 1771, and died Dec. 31, 1845, after a long life spent in agricultural pursuits. He married Mary Warner, born June 19, 1775, daughter of Joseph and Susan Warner, and she died Nov. 16, 1856. To them were born children as follows: Mary, born in 1800, died unmarried in 1823; Susan m. Isaac Young; Leah m. John Lloyd; Harriet m. Benjamin Mohn; Nellie m. William Hornberger; and Henry W. The Warner family, with which the Deeds is intermarried, came from the same section of England, and settled in Cumru township.

Henry W. Deeds, grandfather of Luke M., was born on the Deeds homestead Sept. 8, 1811, and died Nov. 30, 1888. He was a manufacturer of gun barrels all his life, having learned that trade from his father-in-law, William Pennypacker. He owned the old Fisher mill property in Bern township, Berks county. He married Elizabeth, daughter of William and Elizabeth (Schnader) Pennypacker and to them were born children as follows: Angelina m. Richard Schnader; Elizabeth m. John F. Leib; Owen; Henry m. Kate Krick; and Mary m. Adam Rollman.

Owen Deeds was born Jan. 19, 1841, in Cumru township, where he now lives, engaged as a veterinary surgeon, and well known horseman. He was married March 21, 1872, to Mary, daughter of Jonathan and Catharine (Hornberger) Miller, of Cumru township, and one child was born to them, Luke M.

Luke M. Deeds attended the schools of Shillington, Steward Academy and Stoner's Business College of Reading, and then took a special course in shorthand and typewriting, becoming one of the ablest stenographers in the county. He was employed for about a year at the Mansion House, Reading, as a stenographer, and then engaged in the show business. Later he drove race horses. In 1903 he embarked in the florist's business, and at his death had seven greenhouses, 70 x 23 feet, on Miller street. On Sept. 15, 1907 the Deed Floral Company was incorporated; E. M. Deeds is president; A. J. Fink, Jr., treasurer; and A. B. Stein, secretary. They do both wholesale and retail business, and have a fine equipment.

In August, 1895, Mr. Deeds married Ella M. Hain, and two children were born to them, Mabel Catharine and Alice E. Mr. Deeds' death, which occurred Dec. 1, 1907, was accidental and most untimely. He was overcome by coal gas in his greenhouses where he had gone at night to look after the heating before retiring. He is buried in the Mohnton cemetery, and is mourned by many friends. He is survived by his wife and daughters.

Mr. Deeds was a member of the United Evangelical denomination. Fraternally he was a member of Oley Lodge No. 218, I. O. O. F.; Mohnton Lodge, Knights of Pythias; Reading Tent, Knights of the Maccabees; Knights of the Golden Eagle; and the P. O. S. of A. In politics he was a Republican, and served as township committeeman.


p. 422


Daniel H. Deeter, master mechanic of the Philadelphia & Reading Railway Company, is a native son of Reading, Berks county, born in 1863. His father, Henry Deeter, was with this company for forty-seven years, the services of father and son covering the remarkably long period of sixty-five years.

Henry Deeter died Sept. 28, 1887, at the age of fifty-nine years, eleven months, after a successful career as a railroad man. When only a boy of thirteen he became locomotive fireman for Timothy Jackson, and at the early age of sixteen was made a locomotive engineer. He continued in that capacity, serving also as wreck master and engineman for the company until the close of his life. Mr. Deeter married Lavinia Holl, and to them were born six children, namely: Emma (m. William Noll); Henry H., who is foreman in the Port Richmond shops of the Philadelphia & Reading Railway Company, Philadelphia; Annie (m. J. W. Bennethum); Isaac L., a machinist; Miss Mary E., who is living in Philadelphia; and Daniel H. The father of this family was a member of the Reformed Church. For thirty-eight years he belonged to the I. O. O. F.

Daniel H. Deeter was educated in the Reading public schools and private institutions. He took up the study of mechanical drawing under Rosell E. Frentzel, and later had private instruction in that line from Superintendents Good and Kemmerer of the Philadelphia & Reading shops, serving his time as a machinist, as well as in drafting, in the employ of the Philadelphia & Reading Company. All of his working years have been passed in the employ of this concern. He left the office to acquire practical experience in the care and operation of a locomotive, serving as fireman, engineer, wreck master, round house foreman, assistant road foreman of engines, road foreman of engines and on July 16, 1900, he became master mechanic of the Philadelphia and New York division of the road. On Nov. 1, 1904, he was raised to his present position, that of master mechanic at the Philadelphia & Reading locomotive shops in Reading. Here he has 2,500 men under his supervision, and some idea of the volume of work done in the vast establishment may be gained from the statement that an average of ninety locomotives is turned out monthly-new, repaired and rebuilt.

Mr. Deeter has devoted his entire life to acquiring proficiency in his chosen calling. He has never spared himself in adding to his general knowledge by study or research, and has not only kept abreast of modern times and methods but has been the leader in many of the most progressive movements of his day in his line. The position he holds is sufficient evidence of his ability, and of his right to be classed among the foremost men of the present time in his branch of mechanics. His practical experience in his work has been most comprehensive. Mr. Deeter is a self-made man in the truest sense. He has acquired his position and the knowledge which enables him to hold it by unceasing efforts, begun in early life, and never relaxed under the many demands made upon his strength and time. His attainments are noteworthy, and have gained him the respect and admiration of all the men with who he has been brought into contact. Mr. Deeter is a member of Lodge No. 62, F. & A. M.; Reading Lodge of Perfection; Philadelphia Consistory; and Rajah Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S. He is a member of the Second Reformed Church, and is independent in politics.

On June 3, 1884, Mr. Deeter married Frances C. Harrison, and they had two children; J. Harrison, a graduate of Haven College, Philadelphia, who died Aug. 25, 1907, aged eighteen years, six months; and Evelyn, at school.


p. 1693


Moses Degler, a resident of Shartlesville, was born in Upper Bern township Dec. 17, 1837, and is a grandson of John Degler, who founded the family in America, coming to this country from Germany when a young man. John Degler settled in Bern (now Upper Bern) township, Berks Co., and engaged in farming. He died when only thirty-five years old.

John Degler, son of John and father of Moses Degler, was born in Bern township, and became a farmer by occupation. He died at the age of seventy-five years, and is buried at Blue Mountain Church, in Upper Tulpehocken township. He married Elizabeth Basehore, and to them were born the following named children: Moses; Aaron, a resident of Reading, this county; Elias, of Strausstown, Berks county; Elizabeth, Mrs. Hollenbach; Kate, Mrs. Naftzinger; John, of Upper Tulpehocken township; Adam, of Upper Bern township; Lydia; Amelia; Caleb, of Strausstown; and Annie.

Moses Degler attended the public schools of Upper Tulpehocken township, and when old enough went to learn the cabinet-maker's trade at Strausstown, where he spent three years. He then located at Lebanon, Pa., for a time before coming to Shartlesville, where he has made his home since 1860. He made a success of his undertaking and furniture business here and built himself a fine store, having a well-equipped establishment for the undertaking and embalming branch, in which he was especially well known. He dealt in all kinds of furniture, having a good stock. This business Mr. Degler has lately sold out.

Mr. Degler married Mary Hollenbach, daughter of John Hollenbach, of Upper Bern township, and seven children have been born to them, viz.: Calvin, who is living in Upper Bern township; Henry, living in Shartlesville; Clara, wife of William Auman; Kate, wife of Arthur Schwoyer, of Reading; William; Mary A., wife of William Christ; and Sallie, unmarried, living at home.

A Democrat in politics, Mr. Degler has been active in local affairs and has served on the election board of Upper Bern township. He is a member of the Reformed Church, and socially unites with the P. O. S. of A., the I. O. O. F. and the K. G. E.

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