Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals by Morton Montgomery


p. 1090


Rudolph Ensslen, who died Nov. 25, 1906, at his home No. 306 Elm street, Reading, was engaged in an extensive delicatessen business. He was a native of Germany, born in Kircheim, Wurtemberg. Jan. 25, 1859, son of Ferdinand Ensslen, and was educated in that country, where at the age of eighteen years he was traveling salesman for a wholesale cheese house.

In 1880 Mr. Ensslen came to America, landing at New York, from which city he came directly to Reading, being first employed at the Lauer Brewery Company, where he remained until Jan. 1, 1900. At this time Mr. Ensslen embarked in the cheese and delicatessen business, for which he was so well qualified. He always carried the best quality of goods and his customers realized this fact. He catered to hotels, stores, etc., as well as to private residences, and his delivery wagons were to be seen at any time on the streets of Reading. Mr. Ensslen carried the best lines of cheese, both domestic and foreign, sausages, meats, canned goods and condiments. His cheese and meats were imported principally from Switzerland and Germany.

Mr. Ensslen was married in 1881 to Mary Kirschmann, and they had two children: Carl F. and Augustus Rudolph. The family are members of St. John's Lutheran Church, to which Mr. Ensslen also belonged. He was a member of Mt. Penn Lodge, I. O. O. F.; Aerie No. 66, F. O. E.; Reading Turn Verein; Maennerchor; and Bavarians. He was recognized as a man of much business ability. Besides his wife and children he was survived by a brother Albert and three sisters, Emma, Louisa and Pauline, all in Germany.


p. 1358


Harrison R. Epler, a well-known business man of Riverside, North Reading, Pa., where he is engaged in the manufacture of hosiery, was born in the Hotel Penn, Reading, in 1838, son of Jared and Deborah (Rothermel) Epler, and a grandson of Jacob Epler, a farmer of Bern township.

Jared Epler, father of Harrison R., was born in Bern township, where he followed farming until 1837, and in that year removed to Reading and purchased the old Hotel Penn property, which he conducted for a period of two and one-half years. This he sold and in 1840 purchased the farm at Leinbachs, now known as the Harrison Epler farm. There he died in 1865, aged fifty-three years. He and his wife had four children, of whom two are now living: Deborah R., who married John Z. Althouse, deceased, and Harrison R.

Harrison R. Epler was educated in the schools of Bern township, and was reared on the farm, on which he worked until 1902, when he engaged in the manufacture of hosiery, in order that his son, the only living child, Jared V. R., could have a business in which to engage. In religious belief Mr. Epler is connected with the Reformed Church. He held several township offices during his residence on his farm, among them the office of member of the school board. During the Civil war Mr. Epler was a member of the State Militia.

Mr. Harrison Epler was united in marriage with Emma Van Reed, daughter of Henry Z. Van Reed, and the only surviving member of their family is Jared V. R. Epler.


p. 723


John Peter Epler was born in Bern township, Berks county, Jan. 22, 1836, and died at Reading Dec. 29, 1905, aged sixty- nine years, eleven months and seven days. During the earlier part of his life he was a farmer, but in 1865 he removed to Reading and worked for the Schuylkill Navigation Company as a member of the repair gang, and continued with them for three years. He then was employed at Bushong's furnace for more than a quarter of a century. Later he became watchman for the Excelsior Brass Company, but in less than a year he was burned to death while at the post of duty. He is interred in the Charles Evans cemetery.

On Aug. 30, 1861, Mr. Epler was married to Rebecca Strubble, daughter of Jacob and Annie ( Moyer ) Strubble, and they had one son, George B. The late Mr. Epler was a consistent member of St. John's Lutheran church, to which congregation his family belong. Mrs. Epler resides at No. 474 Schuylkill avenue, where she conducts a small stationery, confectionery, cigar and tobacco store, and she is well respected in the community.

George B. Epler, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Peter Epler, was born Dec. 28, 1861, in Muhlenberg township, where he resides with his mother. He is a stationery engineer, and is employed at the Tragle Cordage Company's works. He married Kate Mahla, daughter of Frederick Mahla, of Germany, who married Louisa Hoffner. Mr. and Mrs. Epler have two children: Stella M., m. to John J. Bidden, now of Providence, R. I.; and George L., living in Reading.

The late John P. Epler was a grandson of Jacob Epler who married an Epler, but nothing definite is known of him further than that, and that among his children was John Peter Epler, Sr., father of the late John Peter Epler. The father was born in Bern township. in September, 1804, and died Sept. 2, 1877, being buried in the Charles Evans cemetery. He was a farmer, and later a shoemaker, and worked at his trade until his death which occurred on Jefferson street in Reading. His wife was Mary Koch, who died in 1847. There children were: Annie and Catherine died young; Mary m. Michael Wonderle; Louisa m. Irwin Moyer; Aaron was killed in the Civil War; John Peter.


p. 1480


Nathaniel G. Erb, baker at Bechtelsville borough, Berks county, was born April 15, 1844, in District township, this county. He is a great-grandson of the emigrant ancestor, Johan Casper Erb, who was a German, and who is buried at the Swamp Church. Among his sons were Johan Georg and Heinrich. The former was the ancestor of Nathaniel G. Erb, and is mentioned further on. Heinrich Erb was a farmer in Douglass township, Montgomery County. He is buried at the Swamp Church, where many Erbs have been interred. His family consisted of four sons and three daughters, viz.: David; Daniel; Henry; John, who died young; Catharine, who married Peter Yerger; Hannah, who married Henry Derr; and a daughter whose name is not remembered. Of this family: David Erb was born in 1809 in Douglass township, Montgomery county, and died in 1885 at the age of seventy-six years; he is buried in the Fairview cemetery at Boyertown, at which place he died. He had moved to Boyertown in 1872, and was engaged in business as a shoe merchant. He married Julia Steltz, and their children were as follows: Mary, Hettie, Fayette, Solomon, Susan, Charles, David S. (a leading cigar manufacturer of Boyertown), Rev. Isaac (of Orwigsburg, Pa.) and Rev. Jesse (of Slatington, Pennsylvania).

Johan Georg (John George) Erb, son of Johan Casper and grandfather of Nathaniel G. Erb, was born at the Swamp, not far from Pottstown, where he had a large farm, which he sold in time to his son Jacob. Later he owned the mill and farm property known as the "Roof Bridge" place, from the fact that it was situated near a large covered bridge spanning the Perkiomen creek, in Upper Hanover township. He is buried at the Six Corner Church, in Montgomery county. John George Erb was married either two or three times, and by the mother of his son Jonas had children as follows: Jonas, Simon, Amos, Aaron and Lydia. His other children were: Philip, Jacob, John, William (whose death was caused by his accidentally cutting himself with a cradle, in the harvest field) and Mrs. John Christman.

Jonas Erb, son of John George Erb, was born in 1816 in Upper Hanover township, Montgomery Co., Pa., and died in July, 1898, at the home of his son Nathaniel at Bechtelsville, aged eighty-two years, two months, two days. In his earlier life he followed blacksmithing, but he was engaged in farming most of his active life. He lived for a time in District township, Berks county, moving thence in 1850 to Frederick township, Montgomery county, and after various removals returned to Frederick township. Coming to Dale, Berks county, in his young manhood, he married Elizabeth Geist, daughter of John Geist, of District township, and they rest from their labors at Keeler's Church, in Montgomery county. They were the parents of nine children: Nathaniel G., John, William (who died young), Milton, Louisa, Elizabeth, George, Solomon and Amos.

Nathaniel G. Erb, son of Jonas, attended the pay schools then in vogue, at Huff's Church, leaving school when he was fourteen years old. In 1861 he commenced to learn the carpenter's trade, and he also followed farming for some years, in Frederick township, Montgomery county, and engaged in making cigars, first at Douglassville and later at Clayton, both places in Berks county, employing from five to seven people. He peddled his cigars himself. After one years experience as proprietor of the "Clayton House" he moved to Boyertown and took the Union House, which he conducted for five years. Following that he assisted his brother in the bottle business, at Pottstown, Pa., for some time. In the fall of 1886 Mr. Erb came to Bechtelsville, where the baking business has since engaged his attention. He employs nine hands and keeps three teams busy, his patronage covering an area which extends ten miles from the borough in every direction. His shop is equipped with the most improved machinery for baking and the manufacture of ice cream, which latter he carries on during the summer months. By hard work and careful management he has become very prosperous.

Mr. Erb was married in April, 1870, to Sophia Underkoffler, daughter of Henry and Sarah (Walt) Underkoffler, of Frederick township, Montgomery county, and granddaughter of John Underkoffler. Four children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Erb: (1) J. Warren, of Bechtelsville, married Bessie Hartline, and they have one daughter, Florence. (2) Allen M., born Aug. 24, 1874, lives in Bechtelsville, where he is at present acting school director and serving as secretary of the school board. He married Annie T. Ehst, and they have had six children, Leon F., Miriam, Naomi, Edith, Alma and Curtis. (3) Cora is unmarried . (4) Sallie married Charles Noll, of Bechtelsville, and they have one daughter, Erma.

Mr. Erb and his family are members of Keeler's Lutheran Church, in Montgomery county. He is a Democrat and at one time was quite active in the workings of his party. At present he is serving as a member of the town council.


, p. 1722


William Spohn Ermold, foreman blacksmith in the employ of the Southwark Foundry & Machine Company at Philadelphia since 1887, was born Dec. 7, 1834, at Reading, Berks county, where he attended public schools until he was sixteen years old. He was then apprenticed to the trade of blacksmith with the P. & R. R. Co., and after learning his trade remained with the company until 1857. He then worked at different places in Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Washington, D. C., Iowa, and Idaho until 1881, when he returned to Reading and there followed his trade until 1887, when he accepted the position of foreman blacksmith with the Southwark Foundry & Machine Company of Philadelphia, and this position he has filled in a most satisfactory manner until the present time.

In 1860 Mr. Ermold was married to Rosa Regina Reiff, daughter of Ludwig F. E. Reiff and Anna Mary Muntz, his wife, by whom he had seven children: Emma Louise (married to Robert Cavis De Vault), Millie Reiff (married to George Lentner Lewis), Elmer Atwood (married to Lillian Krewson), Mark Atlee (married to Edna Smith Garrett), and three who died, Anna Mary in 1862, William Reiff in 1866, and Herbert K. in 1891. His wife died in 1881.

His father was Daniel Ermold, a blacksmith at Reading for forty years. He was born at Reading in 1789, and after learning his trade carried on business for upward of thirty years, at the corner of Third and Franklin streets, when he entered the employ of the P. & R. R. Co., and continued with the company until his decease in 1848. He was married to Sarah Spohn, a daughter of John Spohn of Reading (who was a captain in the Revolution), and by her he had twelve children: Daniel (married to Catharine Taylor), Peter (who married Sarah Henry and after her decease Clara Edelman), Obediah (married to Ann E. Hoff), William S., Harriet (married to William Nagel), Maria (married to Peter A. Breen, and living at Philadelphia at the advanced age of eighty-six years), and six who died in infancy.

Mr. Ermold's father-in-law, Ludwig F. E. Reiff, was born at Heilbron in Wurtemberg, Germany, in 1793, and when a young man emigrated to Pennsylvania, landing at Philadelphia, and after following his trade of butcher there for several years removed to Reading, where he carried on farming and also butchering until his decease in 1861. His home and farm were situated on North Fifth street, beyond Buttonwood. While at Philadelphia he met his wife, who was also born in Wurtemberg.


p. 1519


George Ernst, a highly esteemed retired citizen of Reading, Pa., who through his own energy and enterprise became a successful man, is a native of Wurtemberg, Germany, son of John and Augusta (Berringer) Ernst and grandson of George Ernst.

George Ernst was an extensive land owner in Germany, building a large castle upon his immense estate, and was the father of eight children, of whom John was the eldest. John Ernst spent his entire life in his native country, engaged in farming during the summer months and in tailoring in the winter time. He and his wife were the parents of these children: Michael, who lives in Germany; Conrad, a resident of Reading, and George.

George Ernst received his education in the schools of his native country, and when yet a youth, in 1852, came to America, and located in Reading, where he was first employed by Paul Blessing, who owned a farm within the city limits. There he remained for a short time and was next employed on a truck farm belonging to Michael Hausser, with whom he continued for about one year when he secured employment at the old Eckert Furnace as a stone mason, a trade which he had learned in his native country. Mr. Ernst helped to build the foundation and stack of the furnace, and while employed on the latter fell a distance of forty feet, breaking both arms, an accident which confined him to his bed for nine weeks. Upon recovering he assisted in building the Reading Company's depot at Seventh and Chestnut streets. In 1860 Mr. Ernst turned his attention to street paving and asphalt work, being the pioneer of this class of work in the city of Reading, and from the start was very successful. Through hard work and close application to business he accumulated a competency, and in 1891 retired from active life. On coming to America Mr. Ernst had hardly enough money with which to reach Reading, but he is now in very comfortable circumstances, and is the owner of nine valuable properties. He is much esteemed in his community, where his neighbors and acquaintances know him as a good, steady citizen, with a reputation for honesty and integrity.

Mr. Ernst was married in 1854 to Christianna Bussard, born in Germany, and to this union were born children as follows: George and Gotleib, twins, deceased; Annie, deceased; Barbara, deceased; Rosa, a teacher in the public schools of Reading; and Ella, who married a Mr. Bussard, of Philadelphia. Mr. Ernst is a member of the Lutheran Church. In politics he is a Democrat.


p. 983


J. George Ernst, the popular proprietor of the "Hotel Brunswick," situated at No. 700 Eighth street, one of Reading's well patronized hostelries, was born in Reading, July 21, 1856, son of George and Christina (Buzzard) Ernst.

Johannes Ernst, his grandfather, lived at Omden, Oberamt Kirchheim-unter-Teck, Germany. He was a tailor by trade, and owned a farm of thirty-six acres. He died about 1875, when past seventy years of age. His children were: John located in Irishtown, where his children now live; George; Conrad came to America in 1845, with John, and lives in Reading; Catharine and Michael.

George Ernst was born Aug. 18, 1830, in Omden, Germany, and came to America in 1842, landing at Castle Garden, N. Y., whence he came to Reading, in which city he died July 26, 1907. He was a stone and brick mason by trade, but later made tar pavements, and became a contractor of some reputation as well as a large property owner. From 1866 until his death George Ernst resided at No. 502 South Sixth street. He was a Democrat in political matters, and a consistent member of the German Lutheran Church, to the charities of which he contributed liberally Mr. Ernst was buried at the Lutheran cemetery. He was married to Christina Buzzard, who was born at Stuttgart, Germany, Aug. 18. 1830, the same date as her husband's birth, and she died at Reading, July 13, 1904. Mr. and Mrs. Ernst had the following seven children: J. George; Barbara died unmarried; Ellen, deceased, m. D. V. Besser, of Philadelphia; Rosa is single; and three died in infancy. Mr. Ernst's large estate was settled up by his son, J. George.

J. George Ernst spent his boyhood days at Reading, his education being secured in the city's public schools, which he left at the age of fifteen years to learn the hatting trade at John R. Miller's hat factory. He continued there for a period of four years, and then he engaged at various occupations for several years. In 1895 he took up the hotel business at Eleventh and Spruce streets. He has been a hotel proprietor ever since, and since 1904 has been conducting the well-known "Hotel Brunswick." Mr. Ernst is popular fraternally, and is connected with Reading Castle No. 49, K. G. E. With his family he attends the German Lutheran Church of Reading, and the family burial ground is at Aulenbach cemetery.

In 1893 Mr. Ernst married Mary Weidner, daughter of James W. And Margaret (Madeira) Weidner. They have no children.


p. 1524


Martin Ernst, founder of the grocery business situated at the corner of Front and Buttonwood streets, and later conducted by Ernst & Troop, was one of Reading's prominent citizens who passed away May 16, 1902.

Martin Ernst was born in Alsace, Germany, in 1835, and served seven years in the French army. He learned the tanner's trade in his native country, and on coming to America in 1864, engaged therein, first at a large tannery in Elizabeth, N. J., as a finisher, and in 1872 at Reading, in Platz & Winter's tannery. Later, when Mr. Platz retired from the firm, it became Winter & Getz, and Mr. Ernst was employed for a time by this firm, but in 1884 started in the grocery business on North River street, between Washington and Jefferson streets. There he remained until 1892, and in that year removed to Front and Elm streets, and was there doing business at the time of his death. In religious belief Mr. Ernst was Roman Catholic, being connected with St. Paul's German Church of Reading. In politics he was a Democrat. He was one of Reading's honored and respected business men, and his loss was felt not only by his family and immediate friends, but by the entire community.

Mr. Ernst was married to Mary Ann Kleffer, a native of Germany, who was reared in the same village as her husband, and to them were born: Matilda, who died April 18, 1908, aged forty-five years; Magdalena, who married Isaac Troop, and has two children ? Annie and Mary; Ida, who married Allison Deibert, and has two children ? Leroy and Martin; and Frank, who married Sophia Derry.

After the death of Mr. Ernst, Mrs. Ernst and her daughter, Matilda, took up the business together, and conducted it for one year, when Mrs. Ernst retired, Mrs. Troop being admitted as a partner. Under the able management of the sisters, the business thrived, and they had a large and lucrative trade. After the death of Matilda in 1908, her sister Mrs. Troop and her two daughters ? Annie and Mary, conducted the business until April, 1909 when they retired to private life, and are now living in their own home at No. 374 Schuylkill Avenue.

Last Modified Thursday, 16-Oct-2008 20:53:10 EDT

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