Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals by Morton Montgomery


p. 1321


Wilson Ferguson, treasurer of the Montello Brick Company, one of the leading industrial concerns of Reading, Pa., belongs to one of the prominent families of the state. His grandparents, John and Elizabeth Ferguson emigrated to the United States about the year 1800, from near Dublin, and located in Lancaster county, where they lived, and where they reared a family of twelve children.

Nathaniel Ferguson, the youngest son in the above family, was born in Lancaster county, Pa., Nov. 20, 1817. He left home when eighteen years of age with fifty cents in his pocket given him by his mother along with her blessings and well wishes for success. Having graduated from the Moscow Academy in Lancaster, where he had shown himself a diligent pupil, in 1839 he became clerk at the Elizabeth Furnace, in Lancaster county, then owned by the heirs of James Coleman, one of the proprietors of the Cornwall mines. Two and a half years later he rose to the management of the business, and he held that position for seven years. He then removed to Swatara Furnace, Schuylkill county, and became a member of the firm of Eckert, Gilbert & Company, of which he was the active manager. The partnership lasted until 1855 when the company ceased operations as the use of anthracite coal had superseded charcoal. In 1857 he removed to Robesonia Furnace and assumed the management.

In 1860, at the death of Henry P. Robeson, he purchased an interest and became a partner in the firm of White, Ferguson & Company. In 1863 the firm became White & Ferguson, and remained so until 1875, although the interest of Mr. White, who died in 1868, was continued for the benefit of his heirs. Mr. Ferguson then purchased the interest of one of the heirs and the firm became Ferguson, White & Co. One of their furnaces being abandoned in 1874, after the enlargement of "No. 2" stack, the firm deemed it advisable to manufacture but one brand of pig-iron, "Robesonia," made exclusively of Cornwall ore. They worked under an ore-right used at the Robesonia (formerly the Reading) Furnace since 1793, which had been purchased from Peter Grubb, the original owner of the Cornwall ore banks. In 1885 Mr. Ferguson sold his interests in Robesonia, and, retiring from active business, removed to Reading, where he passed away in 1891. He was a prominent man in the city and served as a director of the First National Bank. As a man of self-reliance, sound education, untiring energy and great executive ability Mr. Ferguson became a successful manufacturer and clear-sighted business man with the respect and regard of all who knew him for his unswerving integrity, benevolence and liberality toward all. Patriotic and public spirited, generous and kind, he passed away after a life of great activity.

Nathaniel Ferguson married in 1856 Miss Amanda Davenport, daughter of Dr. John Davenport, of Connecticut, and granddaughter of Judge William Adams, a member of Congress in the early part of the nineteenth century. They became the parents of ten children, five of whom still survive: Elizabeth, the wife of Charles L. Hoff, of Reading; Laura, the wife of Rev. S. H. Larper, a Presbyterian minister of Media, Pa.; Nathaniel, vice-president of the First National Bank, of Reading; Wilson; and Grace, wife of O. S. Doolittle, of New York City.

Wilson Ferguson was born at Robesonia June 30, 1870, and received his early education in private schools, supplementing this with a course at Princeton University, from which he was graduated with the class of 1893. He then read law in the office of Stevens & Stevens, and was called to the Bar in 1896. Later he was admitted to practice in the Supreme Courts of the State. In 1904 he became connected with the Montello Brick Company, and in 1905 was elected treasurer, a position which he now holds.

Mr. Ferguson was married, in November, 1900, to Miss E. Shirley Brockmier, of Wheeling, W. Va., and two children have been born to this union, Charles B. and Elizabeth Brady. Mr. Ferguson belongs to the Wyomissing and the Berkshire Clubs, and is very popular in both. A Presbyterian in religious belief, he is a trustee of the First Presbyterian Church of Reading. In politics he is a Republican.


p. 1597


Irvin P. Fessler, a well known citizen of the borough of West Reading, where he has resided since 1902, was born Jan. 10, 1875, at Womelsdorf, Berks county, son of John and Clara S. (Feeg) Fessler.

John Fessler was born near Strausstown, Berks county, Aug. 9, 1844, a son of Isaac and Catherine (Hide) Fessler. He was reared in the vicinity of his birthplace living five years with Reuben Manbeck, two with Admer Ruth and two with Michael Miller, when he became eighteen years of age and enlisted as a private in Company H, 151st Regiment, Pennsylvania volunteer Infantry. His company became a part of the army of the Potomac and took an active part in the series of engagements throughout Virginia which culminated in the battle of Gettysburg where he was severely wounded in the first day's fight. Shortly after the battle he received an honorable discharge and, after his wound was healed, became an attach?f the Engineer Corps of Hood and Thomas in their Tennessee campaign and remained until the close of the war, when he returned to care for his mother at Strausstown.

He learned the trade of carpentry and later removed to Womelsdorf where he engaged in contracting and building. Here he married Clara S. Feeg, born Sept. 30, 1848, at the Conrad Weiser homestead, a daughter of Daniel and Rebecca (Foltz) Feeg, of Heidelberg township. To this union there were born children as follows: Elva, who married Geo. B. Kafroth of Ephrata township, Lancaster County, and to whom two children were born; Minnie, wife of Harvey G. Zwalley, Philadelphia, and Ida E. (Millersville S. N. S.); Frederick, of California, who married Bessie White of Indianapolis, Ind. and to whom three children are born, Glenn, Alice and Theodore; Minnie who died in infancy; Laura, who died Feb. 24, 1892 and was buried on her nineteenth birthday; Irvin P.; Ada B., of Indianapolis, Ind., who married William Halligan, of Ephrata, Lancaster county, to whom are born Ralph, Lowell Feeg and Clair William; Arthur J., of Indianapolis, Ind., who married Maud Miller of that city, a grand niece of Frances Slocum who was abducted from Wilkesbarre by the Indians, and now lies buried at Peru, Ind. (To them are born Myron John, Laura Frances and Armen); and Robert V., a student of the University of Chicago.

In politics John Fessler is a Republican. He and his family, formerly of the United Brethren faith, are now connected with the M. E. Church. During the course of his life he has resided with his family in Canton, Ohio, Indianapolis, Ind., Womelsdorf, Berks county, Pennsylvania, Ephrata, Lancaster county, Pa. and at present is at Indianapolis, Ind. He had several brothers and sisters.

Daniel Feeg, the father of Mrs. John Fessler, learned the tanning business at the Miller tannery, near Bernville, and later removed to the Conrad Weiser homestead at Womelsdorf, where he also followed tanning. From the latter place he removed to the Tulpehocken Reformed Church, and engaged in the contracting business, assisting in the building of the "Old Union Canal." His later life was devoted to the pottery business at Womelsdorf, where he died. He was the son of John and Catherine (Fisher) Feeg, the former a shoemaker who served in the war of 1812-14 and the Mexican War, and lived in Heidelberg township, near Charming Forge.

The Feegs are an old Berks county family, settling here prior to the American Revolution. Daniel had one brother Joseph and a sister Elizabeth (Anderson), one son, Joseph deceased, and three daughters, Maranda, wife of Willoughby Smith, Womelsdorf; Clara S.; and Emma E. wife of David Bennethun, La Porte, Ind.

Rebecca (Foltz) Feeg, the mother of Mrs. John Fessler, was a daughter of Isaac and Nancy (Hoover) Foltz. She had five brothers; Isaac, Schaefferstown, Lebanon county; Joseph, Schaefferstown, Lebanon county; Frederick, Rehrersberg; Samuel of Salem, Ohio; and Franklin, Lebanon county.

Irvin P. Fessler was brought from his native town to Ephrata, Lancaster county, when eight years old, and there he received a good education in the district schools. In 1896, when his parents went West, he located in Reading, Pa., and associated himself as foreman in the assembling department of T. A. Willson & Company, spectacle manufacturers, Second and Washington streets, in whose employ he continued until March 29, 1909, rendering efficient service, when he left them to engage in contracting and building.

While living at Ephrata, Mr. Fessler worked for some years in a planing mill, and for two years during the school terms of 1894 and 1895 he taught school in Clay township. He was also a night school instructor in the public schools of Reading during 1901. Politically Mr. Fessler if a Democrat. As a good citizen he takes a lively interest in public matters, and has proven himself an honest borough official.

Socially he is connected with Chandler Lodge No. 227 F. & A. M., Reading, and the Sons of Veterans. He is a prominent member of the People's Methodist church, of Reading.

On Sept. 4, 1902, Mr. Fessler was married to Miss Nora Luella Trexler, born Sept. 21, 1872, daughter of E. Marshall and Anna Margaret (Ranck) Trexler, and granddaughter of Anthony and Louisa (Marshall) Trexler. Grandfather Trexler, when a youth, emigrated to this country from Switzerland, with his parents, and settled in Lancaster county, Pa., where he learned the saddler's trade. He died of cholera during the epidemic, leaving four small children: Elizabeth, wife of B. M. Root, York, Pa.; Emma, wife of Rev. A. L. Hurban, Royersford, Pa.; E. Marshall; and Minnie, wife of J. M. Allem, Hiawatha, Kans. Mrs. Fessler has no brothers, but two sisters, Minnie, deceased, and Gussie Minerva, wife of Prof. E. R. Barclay, superintendent of the Huntingdon public schools, Huntingdon, Pa. Mr. and Mrs. Barclay have one son John Marshall, and one daughter Ruth deceased.

Grandfather David Ranck married Mary Weidman. Both the Ranck and Weidman families are among the oldest and most respected families of Lancaster and Berks counties. Mr. and Mrs. Irvin Fessler have one child, John Trexler, born Sept 27th, 1908.


, p. 1126


Thomas J. Fessler, of the well known Excelsior Bottling Company, Nos. 37 and 39 Maple street, Reading, Pa., was born in Sheridan, Berks county, in 1864, and came to Reading with his father in 1872. He attended the public schools and received a fair education, and his first employment was with the Cunningham Bottling company, of Philadelphia. He was employed at different establishments until 1884, when he engaged in business at his present place. He owns the latest and most improved machinery for bottling beer, porter, brown stout, ale and all carbonated drinks. He employs ten skilled workmen in his fine two-story brick building, and the volume of work requires six wagons for delivery.

Mr. Fessler was married in 1886, in Reading, to Miss Carrie Saul, of this city, and they have these children, Mabel, Candas and William. In politics Mr. Fessler is a Democrat. He is fraternally connected with the Eagles, the Red Men, the Odd Fellows, the American Order of Owls, and the Elks. His residence is at No. 137 South Ninth street, Reading, and he is well known and highly esteemed in the city. He has been successful financially, and as a good citizen is greatly respected. He is one of Reading's representative men.


p. 1292


Andrew Fichthorn, son of Andrew and Catherine (Hartman) Fichthorn, the former for many years a gunsmith, was born in Reading Nov. 22, 1822, and died in that city June 25, 1903. He was one of a large family comprising the following; John, Daniel, George, Charles, William, Louis, Susan (m. William Call), Catherine (m. Adam Fasig) and Andrew.

Andrew Fichthorn, of the above family, attended the public schools of Reading, and when a young man learned the carpenter's trade, which however, he did not follow for any length of time, turning his attention to the saddling trade, at which he was engaged for several years on Penn street, below Fourth. He then embarked in the tanning business on Chestnut street, near Third, under the firm name of Fichthorn & Bro., and in 1865 engaged in the same business at Sinking Spring, Berks county, continuing there until 1870, in which year he returned to Reading. He then engaged in the real estate business, in which he continued actively until his death. In politics he was a Republican. He was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, and was very active therein.

On June 1, 1845, Mr. Fichthorn married Rachel R. Reiff, daughter of Jacob and Hannah Reiff, of Gratersford, Montgomery county. She died April 7, 1905, aged seventy-nine years, the mother of eleven children; Clara C. resides at the old home, No. 30 South Eighth street; Andrew R. m. Miranda Eberly, and has two children, Kurtz A. and Luke E.; Anna M. m. Dr. C. F. G. Bergner, the well-known Penn street druggist; George L. m. Matilda Wentzel, and has eight children-George A, Harry, William, Florence, Estella, Edith, John and Ralph; Martha E. m. Samuel Yocom of Reading, and has two children-Samuel A. and Clara A.; Jacob W., engaged in the confectionery business at No. 813 Penn street, m. Rebecca Quillman, and has two children-Grace V. and Clarence J.; J. Walter D., a clerk in Reading m. Rosa E. Selig, and has two children-Emma E. and Mary A.; Hannah E., a graduate of the Reading high school taught school in the city for twenty-three years, and died Feb. 1, 1906; and Grace V., Mary M. and Daniel C. died young.


p. 1323


Effenger R. Fichthorn, a box manufacturer and merchant of Reading, was born in 1840, son of William B., grandson of Daniel H. Fichthorn and member of a family long resident in Berks county. He died May 10, 1907.

Daniel H. Fichthorn was born in Berks county April 26, 1787. A hatter by trade, he did not confine his attention to that one line, but for a large part of the time he resided in Reading , was in the hotel business, while he also engaged there in mercantile operations. He died Feb. 13, 1869, aged eighty-one years, nine months, and was laid to rest in the Charles Evans cemetery. He married Miss Margaret Boyer, daughter of George Boyer, who was a well know hotel man in Reading. A large family was born to them, of whom only the last two are now living. They were: Frank B.; Reuben B.; Henry B.; Charles B.; William B,; Daniel B.; George B.; James and Joseph, who died young; one that died in infancy; Amos B., a carpenter residing in Reading; and Caroline B., of that same city.

William B. Fichthorn made tailoring his calling, and followed that occupation all his life. He was born in January, 1820, and died in Reading in 1847, leaving a widow, Mrs. Mary A. (Aulenbach) Fichthorn, and three children, Ellen (Mrs Huber, of Philadelphia), Philip and Effenger R.

Effenger R. Fichthorn began his education in the public schools of Reading, but was nine years old when the family removed to Philadelphia, and the boy finished his studies there. While still in that city he learned the carpenter's trade and worked at it there for a time but in 1875 he returned to Reading and a year later established himself in the manufacture of cigar boxes. His factory located at 143-45-47-49 Pearl Street, a three story building, 60 x 75 feet, was formerly a row of dwelling houses. He built up a large business, not only local but also extending over the surrounding counties and States, and he employed twenty-five or thirty hands. Mr. Fichthorn was also the proprietor of a grocery story, located in a building which he erected in 1882 at Fourth and Buttonwood streets, where his residence also stood. In this venture also he met with marked success.

In 1897 Mr. Fichthorn was left a widower. His wife was a Miss Sally A. Ubele of Norristown, and she became the mother of three children: One died in infancy, Blanche H., and William B. Mr. Fichthorn was a member of several social or fraternal organizations, including the Eagles (in which he was captain of the Mr. Penn Commandery, K. G. E.), the Red Men, and Reading Consultory, No 3, Knights of Friendship, in which he was a past officer. During the Civil war Mr. Fichthorn offered his services to his country, enlisting in Philadelphia in 1863 in Company B., 20th Pennsylvania Militia, but in his three months' term he saw no active service as he was kept on the Reserves.

William B. Fichthorn, only son of the above, was born in Philadelphia in 1872, but received his education in the schools of Reading. On reaching an age to go to work he began as a clerk for the Reading Iron Company but in 1893 entered his father's establishment and three years later was made superintendent of the factory. He is an able man and well qualified for his responsible position. He is married to Miss Alice Bush, daughter of Levi and Mary (Dehart) Bush of Reading, and they reside at No. 528 North Ninth street.


p. 995


George L. Fichthorn, who died at his home in Reading, his native city, May 26, 1902, was engaged all of his life at the tanning trade. He was born April 18, 1852, son of Andrew Fichthorn, his grandfather also being named Andrew.

Andrew Fichthorn, the father, attended the public schools of Reading, after leaving which he learned the carpenter's and later the saddler's trades, continuing at the former but a short time, and at the latter for several years on Penn street, near fourth. Later he engaged in the tanning business on chestnut street below Third, under the firm name of Fichthorn & Co., and in 1865 he removed his business to Sinking Spring, this county. In 1870 Mr. Fichthorn returned to Reading, engaging in the real estate business, to which he gave his attention until his death, June 25, 1903. Andrew Fichthorn married Rachel R. Reiff, daughter of Jacob Reiff, of Montgomery county, and she died in April, 1905, aged seventy-nine years, the mother of children as follows: Clara C. resides at the old home, No. 30 south Eighth street, Reading; Andrew R.; Anna M. m. Dr. C. F. G. Bergner, the well known druggist of Reading; Martha E. m Samuel Yeoman, of Reading; Jacob W.; J. Walter D., a clerk of Reading, m. Rosa E. Selig, and has two children, Emma E. and Mary A.; Hannah E., a teacher in Reading for twenty-three years, died in February, 1906; Grace V., Mary M. and Daniel C. died young; and George L.

George L. Fichthorn was educated in the public schools of Reading, and was then employed in his father's tannery and in attending to the repairs of his father's large estate. The tannery was later purchased by the Kerpers, and Mr. Fichthorn was employed by the Haubners, continuing with this firm until his death.

On Oct. 16, 1873, Mr. Fichthorn married Susan Matilda Wentzel, daughter of the late George and Mary Ann (Fillman) Wentzel, and to them were born a family of eight children: George A. m. Lottie Hilbert, and has two children, George A., Jr. and Catharine; Harry L., single, resides at home; William, a tinsmith, resides at home; John, Florence M., Estella M., Edith E. and Ralph. Mr. Fichthorn was a Lutheran. He was fraternally connected with the Red Men and the Knights of Friendship. In politics he was a Republican.

Mrs. Fichthorn's father, George Wentzel, was a teamster and did a large draying business. He died in 1895, at the age of fifty-two years, the father of the following children: Susan M.; Alice m. Charles Peiper; William m. Katie Cummins; Francis m. Mary Brown; Ida m. James Fisher; Augustus m. Miss Bellman. the family were members of the Reformed Church. In politics Mr. Wentzel was a Democrat.


p. 597


James Fichthorn, a representative business man of Reading, Pa., who is engaged in general contracting, is also the owner of a fine 129-acre farm in Bern township, Berks county, upon which he does general farming and stock raising. Mr. Fichthorn was born Nov. 14, 1848, in Reading, son of George and Hannah (Lutz) Fichthorn

The grandfather of James Fichthorn was a native of Reading, and received his education in the schools of that city. After acquiring his literary training he chose farming as a vocation, and was actively engaged at that occupation all of his life. He married a Miss Rapp, and to them were born: John, Daniel, William, Lewis, Andrew, George, Charles, Catherine (m. Adam Fasig) and Susan (m. William Call). The family were Lutherans, and belonged to old Trinity Lutheran Church. In politics Mr. Fichthorn was a Democrat.

George Fichthorn was born in Reading, where he received a good common school education, and when a boy learned the blacksmith's trade, following that occupation practically all of his life. He was a powerful man in body, and was known far and wide for his great strength. He married Hannah Lutz and children were born to them, viz.: Mary C. m. William Call; Catherine E. m. Jacob Miller; Susan m. John Obold, Ellen m. Aaron Wright; Ann m. Daniel Ruth; Lucy is deceased; and James.

James Fichthorn received his education in the common schools of Reading, and when yet a boy hired out to William Call, a railroad contractor, driving a horse and cart, and continued in this capacity for six or seven years, when he himself engaged in contracting. This occupation he has continued to the present time with great success, and is at present engaged by the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company, on work that is known to coal operators as "stripping," i. e. removing the loose soil from the coal fields. He also constructs breakers and builds railroads, and for a number of years has been employed in the coal districts of Pennsylvania, principally in Carbon county, now working at Summit Hill. Mr. Fichthorn has been very successful in his operations, and is considered one of Reading's representative business men.

On July 8, 1871, Mr. Fichthorn married Mary A. Heller, daughter of Frederick Heller of Boyertown, Pa. and these children have been born to this union: Ella m. John Roy, and has one child, Alma; Anna m. Benjamin Hauser, and has three children, James, Ruth and George; and Charles is at home. In political matters Mr. Fichthorn is a Republican. He is religiously connected with St. James Lutheran Church.

Last Modified Thursday, 16-Oct-2008 20:53:14 EDT

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