Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals by Morton Montgomery


p. 1319


William L. Gehrke, a highly esteemed, retired citizen of the Twelfth ward, Reading, who lives in his own residence at No. 746 North Tenth street, was born Dec. 18, 1847, in Prussia, Germany, and is a member of a prominent and influential German family.

Christopher Gehrke, the father of William L., was born in Prussia, Aug. 11, 1812, and came to America in the spring of 1862, settling at Reading, where he was a successful contractor. He was also a railroad builder in Virginia and New York, and constructed furnaces in the former State and in Illinois. He died July 4, 1897, and is buried at the German Lutheran cemetery at Reading. His residence was at No. 240 Reed street. Mr. Gehrke married Anna Nimmer, who was born May 4, 1814, and died at the home of her son, William L., May, 1898, and to this union there were born three children: Loretta, who married Godfried Stoudt; Reinhold, a molder of Reading; and William L.

The Nimmers were prominent in the war history of Germany. In 1851, when the grandparents celebrated their Golden Wedding, the King and Queen of their province in Germany presented them with a Bible in which appeared a steel portrait of the sovereigns and their monograms. This Bible is now the treasured property of Mr. and Mrs. William L. Gehrke.

William L. Gehrke was educated under the German Lutheran Sectarian school laws, and in the spring of 1862 came to America with his parents, locating at Reading, where he learned the trade of molder at Mellert's foundry, working thus at different periods six years. He left Reading in 1868, and traveled all over the West and Southwest, being employed at different occupations, principally contracting, in which he has been very successful. He returned to Reading in 1871, and has made his home here ever since. In addition to his home on North Tenth street, Mr. Gehrke owns several other valuable properties in the city. He is an independent voter. In religious belief the family are members of St. John's German Lutheran Church.

In 1873, Mr. Gehrke was married to Philippine Francke, and to this union were born the following children: Reinhold; William, who died aged five years; Harry; Herbert W. S.; and May.

Herbert W. S. Gehrke was born at Reading, Nov. 3, 1880, and after graduating from the Reading high school with the class of 1899, he attended a course at the Reading Classical School. He has been connected with the Reading Trust Company since 1899, entering their employ as a clerk and now being head bookkeeper; and since December, 1904, he has been a registered law student in the offices of Isaac Hiester, Esq. Socially he is connected with Chandler Lodge, No. 227, F. & A. M.: Excelsior Chapter, No. 237, and Reading Commandery, No. 42.


p. 685


The Geiger family is an old one in the eastern part of Pennsylvania, being located here before the erection of Berks county, in 1752. Philip Geiger, the great-grandfather of Wellington D. and Ezra D. Geiger, of Amity township, was born Nov. 20, 1765, and died Aug. 13, 1831. His wife, Anna Maria Stichter, was born Jan. 18, 1769, and died Nov. 1, 1791. They are both buried in the east side of the old cemetery at Amityville church. With them is buried Maria Geiger (1793-1823), probably a daughter, and wife of Philip Mathias. Another daughter married a Moyer. The number of the children of this old pioneer couple cannot be definitely stated. There was a son, Jacob, mentioned below; and tradition tells of another son. Philip Geiger lived in Amity township before 1806, as in that year his name appears on the tax list.

Jacob Geiger, son of Philip, was born August 20, 1795, and died in Amity, Sept. 6, 1868. He was a farmer and owned a tract of 160 acres about three-quarters of a mile south of Amityville. He married Elizabeth Harner, born Aug. 21, 1798, died Sept. 17, 1870, and their children were: Jacob H.; Mary Ann; John; Mahlon; Elizabeth m. Alfred Fritz; and Leah Ann.

Jacob H. Geiger, son of Jacob and Elizabeth, was born Nov. 16, 1825, and died on the farm now the property of his son, Ezra D., Sept. 15, 1864. He was a farmer. Although in his youth he learned the tailor's trade he never followed it. He married Mary Ann De Turk, daughter of Jacob and Esther (Goodhart) De Turk, who lived in Exeter township. She was born April 19, 1828, and died April 25, 1908. Their children were: Ezra D.; Wellington D.; Jacob, of Philadelphia, who has children -Lawrence, Mary, Martha, Amy, and Jacob; Lizzie, deceased, m. to William H. Thorpe, of Clayton, N. Y.; and Miss Hettie.

Wellington D. Geiger, now a farmer in Amity township, was born one mile east of Yellow House, October 4, 1865. He attended the township schools and was reared as a farmer's boy, working for his parents until he attained his majority. In 1866 he began farming as a tenant farmer in that township, with the exception of three years-1889, 1890, and 1891-when he lived in Douglas township. He has been quite successful and his farm is kept in good condition, and his stock and farm machinery are of the best.

On Feb. 13, 1885, Mr. Geiger married Amelia Sassaman, daughter of George M. and Mary (Weyant) Sassaman, now of Pottstown. Their only child, a son, died in infancy. Mr. and Mrs. Geiger are Reformed members of Amityville Church, in which he has served as deacon. Fraternally he is a member of Wohlink Tribe, No. 179, I. O. R. M., at Yellow House.

Ezra D. Geiger, a farmer at Weaverstown, in Amity township, was born Aug. 6, 1853, in Exeter township, coming to Amity in the second year of his earthly career with his parents. He worked for his mother until he was of age. He began farming at the age of twenty on his present place. This was the Augustus K. Lorah farm before it became the property of Jacob H. Geiger. It was originally owned by the Ludwigs, then by Jacob Schaffer, then by the Lorahs. Jacob H. Geiger bought it in 1864, and in 1878 it was transferred to the present owner. The farm consists of ninety-five acres, also forty-eight acres of pasture land. The present large stone house was built in 1834. There is a smaller house on the premises, located about thirty feet from the large one, that must be a relic of the days long before the Revolution.

In 1876 Mr. Geiger married Delilah Rhoades, daughter of Jonas and Rachel Rhoads, and their children are (1) Chester, graduated from Keystone State Normal School in the class of 1902, and is now engaged in teaching in Amity township. He m. Dora Body, and they have two children: Evelyn and Esther. (2) Wayne, graduated from the Keystone State Normal School in 1904, and from Lehigh University in 1908, is an electrician, holding a responsible position at Hackensack, N. J., with the Telephone Company.

He m. Elsie Brown, and has a daughter, Alice. (3) Victor is still at home. In politics Mr. Geiger is a Democrat, and is at present serving as supervisor of Amity township; for three years he was auditor. He is a member of Wohlink Tribe, I. O. R. M., at Yellow House. Mr. Geiger and his family are members of the Reformed Church at Amityville, in which he has been very active, and has served as deacon. The early Geigers were Lutherans.


p. 993


George H. Geiger, a leading agriculturist and influential citizen of Union township, Berks Co., Pa., who is engaged in cultivating his fine tract of 110 acres of land, was born in 1859, in Robeson township, Berks county, only son of Jacob and Anna(Sponagle) Geiger.

Jacob Geiger, grandfather of George H., was born in 1800 and died in 1876, and his wife Susan Geiger was born in 1801, and passed away in 1880. In 1861 this worthy couple erected the barn which stands on Mr. Geigers farm, and on a marble slab in the wall thereof may be found their names and the date of the building. The house is a large stone structure, erected many years ago. The farm consists of 110 acres of excellent land, and the buildings thereon are in a good state of repair.

Jacob Geiger, father of George H., was born in 1838, and his wife Anna Sponagle, Sept. 17, 1838.

George H. Geiger married Dec. 24, 1884, Miss Elizabeth Geiger, born in Robeson township, July 21, 1855, and to this union there was born in 1895, a daughter, Anna Margaret.

Mr. Geiger is a stanch Democrat in politics, and his influence in the community is shown by his election to various township offices, including that of judge of election, in a district strongly Republican.


p. 1333


Lewis J. Geiger, who is well known among the hotel men of Berks county, Pa., is proprietor of the popular "Schuylkill Avenue Hotel" in Reading. Mr. Geiger was born Sept. 21, 1867, at Hamburg, son of David Q. and Mary (Byar) Geiger. Jacob Geiger, the great-great-grandfather of Lewis J., lived at a place now known as Fruitville. Concerning this Jacob Geiger, the following is taken from the Reading Eagle of Dec. 8, 1907: "Heirs of Conrad Geiger, who left Pottstown in 1841 and went to Cuba, held a meeting this afternoon at the home of Mrs. Sallie Steinrook, 24 King street, and organized for the purpose of inquiring into a claim for a sugar plantation said to have been left by their ancestor in Cuba. These officers were elected: President, Mrs. Sallie Steinrook, of Pottstown; Albert Leister, 249 Maple street, Reading, Recording Secretary; Mrs. Hannah Wendling, 446 Chestnut street, Pottstown, Treasurer. J. T. Hayter, 1837 South Chadwick street, Philadelphia, was selected to visit Cuba and investigate the claim.

"Conrad Geiger, the ancestor, was a son of Jacob Geiger, of the place now known as Fruitville, in Limerick township. Upon the settlement of his father's estate he is said to have had from $20,000 to $40,000, and with this he went to Cuba. He had a sugar plantation at Santa Zable, on the north coast of Cuba, east of Cardenas. Conrad died in 1868 or 1869. The London Times or News printed an advertisement for English papers to copy, calling for the heirs of Conrad Geiger to appear and claim the Cuban property. The advertisement would have appeared, according to legal periods in 1873 or 1874, 1878 or 1879, 1883 or 1884. A record of this advertisement in a local paper is being sought. In 1894 a movement was started to look into this same claim but it was not pushed to a finish. A man named Chester M. Whiting of Franklin, Mass., has now been located, who worked for Mr. Conrad on his Cuban plantation in 1864 and 1865."

Jacob Geiger, brother of the Conrad mentioned, and great-grandfather of Lewis J., lived below Pottstown several miles, where he owned a twelve-acre tract of land, and also followed the trade of shoemaker for many years. He is buried at Pottstown. Mr. Geiger had twelve children: Charles, of Pottstown; John, of Ringing Rocks; Joseph, of Allentown; Henry, of Norristown; David, of Schuylkill Haven; Jacob, of Hamburg; Samuel, of Montgomery county; Katie, who married a Mr. Pierce of Pottstown; Tina, who married a Mr. Stichter of Tamaqua; Becky, who married a Mr. Yerkey, of Pottstown; Sallie, who married Henry Baer; and Polly, who married a Mr. Hatfield of Pottstown.

Jacob Geiger, grandfather of Lewis J., was born in August, 1810, and died April 14, 1885, aged seventy-four years, at Hamburg, Pa., where he was buried. He was the owner of six dwellings and a flourmill at Hamburg, was a director of the Hamburg Savings Bank, and had various other business interests. He was married (first) to Rachel Quinn, and they had these children: David Q.; John Q., of Reading; Mary Ellen, who married Harry Shutter; and James Q., of Reading. His second marriage was to Mary Wagner, and they had two children: Emma C., who married Nathan Confer, of Hamburg; and Freelove I. who is unmarried and lives at Hamburg.

David Q. Geiger was born at Hamburg, May 10, 1839, and died at Pottstown, Aug. 20, 1877. He was buried at Pottstown, where he was a printer and proprietor of the Advertiser, one of the first papers of the borough. He was a leading member of the Baptist Church, in which he was an official. Mr. Geiger was married to Mary Byar, who died June 14, 1878, and they had these children: Lewis J.; Edward F., of Reading; William H., who died in infancy; and George H., of Coraopolis, Pennsylvania.

Lewis J. Geiger was but one year old when he accompanied his parents to Pottstown, and there he lived until his thirteenth year, attending the public schools. His parents having died he went to live with his grandfather Jacob Geiger at Hamburg, at which place he attended the public schools until nineteen years old. On reaching his twentieth year he came to Reading and found employment at Sternbergh's nut and bolt works, where he continued for a period of eighteen years, thirteen years of which he was a foreman in the nut department. In the spring of 1904 he engaged in the saloon business. Mr. Geiger is an active Republican in politics, and for several years was register assessor of the Fifteenth Ward. He and his family are members of St. Mark's Reformed Church at Reading, where Mr. Geiger owns a nice dwelling. He is a member of the Knights of Malta, No. 47, of Reading, the Junior Mechanics. No. 27, Grand Fraternity of Philadelphia, and Schuylkill Fire Company. With the last named organization Mr. Geiger has been identified since its organization in 1892. He was financial secretary for two years and for eight years he has been recording secretary. He is also a member of the following organizations: the Philharmonic Band: the Cadet Band; the Harmony Volunteer Beneficial Relief Association; the Nursery Literary Association, and the Uniform Rank of the Schuylkill Fire Company.

On May 11, 1889, Mr. Geiger was married to Agnes M. Lengel, daughter of Paul and Emma (Riegel) Lengel. Four sons have been born to this union, as follows: Paul, David, Leon and Lewis J. Jr.

Among the interesting features of Mr. Geiger's life was an election bet he made with Robert B. Harris that if Taft was elected, Mr. Geiger would have to collect the pennies and Mr. Harris would have to play the grind organ, and if Bryan should be elected Mr. Harris would have to do the collecting and Mr. Geiger play the grind organ. The route that was originally agreed upon was out Schuylkill avenue from Washington to Gus Resch's Hotel across the Schuylkill avenue bridge, both wearing masks and fixed up for the occasion. The proceeds were given to the Home for Friendless Children. The above program was carried out to the letter Nov. 14, 1908.


p. 828


George Geigley, a venerable resident of Birdsboro, Berks, Co., Pa., where he is managing the well known E. and E. Brooke farm, was born one mile from Fountz's Mill, in Lancaster county, in 1819, son of John and Barbara (Weaver) Geigley.

William Geigley, grandfather of George, came from Germany and settled in Lancaster county, where he followed farming the remainder of his life. He married Mary Landis, and they became the parents of two children: John; and Christina, who died unmarried. Like his father, John Geigley carried on agricultural operations in Lancaster county all his life, and there his death occurred as did that of his wife. They were the parents of six children: Eliza, Barbara, Mary, Anna, Amos and George. In religious belief the family were Mennonites.

George Geigley was reared and educated in Lancaster county, and as a youth did much traveling. When but nineteen years of age he made a trip to Baltimore to get groceries, and also traveled from Philadelphia to Pittsburg in an old-fashioned Conestoga wagon. In all he made twenty-five of more trips to Philadelphia from the Conestoga mills. At the age of thirty- five years Mr. Geigley removed to Chester county, and in 1875 he located in Birdsboro, where he has since had charge of the E. and G. Brooke farm.

Mr. Geigley married Sarah Campbell, who died March 4, 1900, aged seventy-seven years, and to this union were born children as follows: John, Charles, Katie, George, Elizabeth and Samuel (m. Sarah Barton and has two children- Hunter and George). Formerly Mr. Geigley belonged to the Knights of Pythias. In political matters he is a Republican, but he has never aspired to public office.


p. 1415


H. F. Geisewite, engaged in the grocery business in Reading. Pa., for some years, was born in Bern township, Berks county, Jan. 27, 1850, son of Daniel and Rebecca (Faust) Geisewite.

H. F. Geisewite remained on the home farm until twenty-five years of age, receiving for his first year's work $1.50 per month, $3.00 for the second year, and $5.00 per month for the third year, then hiring out at $10.00 per month for one year. Mr. Geisewite then spent three years with Henry R. Tobias at $10.00 per month, leaving to engage in work on the Union Canal, and later on the Schuylkill Canal, his boating operations including in all two years. He then spent one year at the Henry Van Reed paper mill, was for five years with John C. Hepler in his greenhouse, was one year at Bushong's furnace, a like period in the Reading paper mills, and then operated the Bushong farm for three years. He then commenced work in his brother's grocery store on Canal street, but later engaged at Sternbergh's rolling mill, where he continued one year. After spending one year in the wholesale grocery of Daniel S. Esterly, he engaged with George Gehman, No. 34 North Eighth street, a wholesale produce merchant. In 1889 he entered the grocery business on his own account at Tenth and Washington streets, where he remained three years. In 1891 Mr. Geisewite came to his present store, where he has since continued with much success.

Mr. Geisewite married Emma Moyer, daughter of Israel Moyer, a native of Spring township. They have no children. They attend Epler's Reformed Church. He is a member of several fraternal organizations, and in political matters is a Democrat.


p. 1130


Percival F. Geisewite, a grocery merchant at Reading, whose place of business is conveniently located at West Buttonwood street and Schuylkill avenue, was born June 15, 1858, in Bern township, Berks county, son of Daniel and Margaretta (Faust) Geisewite, and grandson of John Geisewite, an early settler.

The great-grandparents of our subject both died on the ocean, while on their voyage from Germany to America. At that time, John Geisewite, grandfather of P. F., was an infant and when it was discovered that his parents were dead, a passenger by the name of Stitzel, took the orphan babe as his own. John Geisewite married Elizabeth Sheetz, and they had the following children: John m. Mary Breinich, and had eleven children: Charles lived in Schuylkill county; Sally m. Harry Hartman; Amelia m. Jacob Frederick; Elizabeth m. Christopher Jacobs; Caroline m. William Knoll; Amanda m. James Seidel; Emma m. Solomon Rheinhart; Louisa died young; Ellen m. John Putt; Adeline died young; Ellinda m. William Hoffman; Daniel(father of our subject); Jacob lived in Ohio; Betsey m. Reuben Dobson; and Benjamin died at Temple, Pennsylvania.

Daniel Geisewite, father of P. F., was born in Berks county. He grew to manhood with but meager educational opportunities and learned the trade of paper making, which he followed up to the time of his death, in 1863, when he was fifty-two years old. He married Margaretta Faust, and their children were: Priscilla m. Adam R. Heister, of Penn township; Elizabeth m. Joel Yoe; John; Daniel F.; Henry; Amanda, deceased, m. Isaac Hollenbach; Otilda m. Howard Weber; and Percival F. The father took only a voting interest in politics, casting his ballot in support of the Democratic party. As far back as the family can be traced it has been connected with the Reformed Church.

Percival F. Geisewite obtained his education in the schools of Bern township. His first work was as a day laborer when he was thirteen years of age. He then found employment with H. C. Van Reed, who operated a paper mill, with whom he remained until Mr. Van Reed's death and then continued with his successor, Charles L. Van Reed, until 1884, when he came to Reading. In April of that year he was engaged by his brother to operate a grocery store on the corner of Hamilton and Jefferson streets and soon after he purchased the business and continued at that stand until 1897, when he moved to his present location. He does a thriving grocery and notion business here, carrying a large stock. He also operates a huckster wagon which visits the outlying districts, buying eggs and country produce. By his straightforward business methods, Mr. Geisewite has gained many firm friends in this city to which he came as a stranger.

In 1879 Mr. Geisewite was married to Kate Reber, daughter of Harrison M. Reber, a member of one of the old representative families of this section. They have four children: Emily A.; Mary died in 1901; Edwin, who assists his father in his business, m. Florence Goodwin; and Anna died aged one year and nine months. Like other members of his family Mr. Geisewite belongs to the Reformed Church.


p. 904


Morris J. Geiss, one of West Reading borough's well known citizens, who has for a number of years been engaged in the carpenter business, was born Dec. 16, 1867, at Bernville, Berks county, son of Harrison and Amelia (Lengel) Geiss.

The first American of the Geiss family was George Adam Geiss, who was born Jan. 4, 1725, and who emigrated to this country from his native land. He married Anna Barbara Haag, born July 31, 1738, and died Aug. 17, 1814. He died Jan. 29, 1784. There children were: George Adam, born April 11, 1759; Catherine, June 19, 1760; John Michael, Jan. 12, 1762; Philip Jacob, Sept. 6, 1763; and Barbara, March 7, 1765.

John Geiss, son of George Adam and grandfather of Morris J., was a successful farmer of Bernville, Penn township, where he owned 400 acres of land. He died at the age of seventy-three years, the father of these children: Samuel, Jacob, Levi, John, Mary (m. Peter Kershner) and Harrison. All of the foregoing children are deceased with the exception of Jacob, who lives in Reading.

Harrison Geiss was born in Penn township, where early in life he followed coopering. At the time of his father's death he received seventy-three acres of land as a share of the latter's estate, and here he made many improvements, erecting all the buildings on this farm, which is now owned by ex- sheriff Fahrenback of Berks county. Here Mr. Geiss died at the age of seventy years, and was buried at Bernville. Mr. Geiss m. (first) Amelia Lengel, who died at the age thirty-eight years, leaving children: Monroe (a sawyer of Reading); Darius (a farmer of Lancaster county); Violanda (m. Frank Stoudt of North Heidelberg township); Henry (of Bernville); Rosabella (m. Isaac Bear); Milton (a farmer of Schaefferstown); Morris J.; and Katie (M. Isaac Lash). Mr. Geiss m. (second) Sarah Smith, daughter of Isaac Smith, of Schaefferstown, and to this union there were born four children: Aaron; Alice (m. Edward Stirner); Harrison (of Bernville, m. Edith Eagen); and Mary (m. William Long, the historian of this family).

Morris J. Geiss attended the schools of Penn township until sixteen years of age, and then worked for his father for a few years, after which he learned the milling trade at Hiester's Mills, which he followed for twelve years. He subsequently learned the carpenter's trade with George W. Beard & Co., of Reading, being identified with this company for seven years. He was with Mr. Fissler for two years, and since June, 1905, has been foreman for H. J. Raudenbush, the well known contractor. In 1896 Mr. Geiss located in West Reading, purchasing a home at No. 524 Penn avenue, where he has ever since resided.

On April 20, 1889, Mr. Geiss married Katie A. Wahl, daughter of James and Rebecca (Krick) Wahl, of Berks county, and to this union have been born two children: Raymond and Florence. In politics, Mr. Geiss is a Democrat, and in September, 1907, he was elected to the council of West Reading borough, to take the place of James N. Hain, whose death occurred in August of that year. He is a member of Bethany Lutheran Church at West Reading, has served in the church council, and for six years was a deacon therein. Fraternally he is connected with the P.O.S. of A., the Carpenter's Union, and the Knights of Malta. He is a skilled mechanic, and has the full confidence of his employer and the respect and esteem of his fellow workmen.


p. 958


Christian William Geissler, a highly esteemed retired citizen of Mt. Penn, Berks Co., Pa., is a native of Germany, born June 6, 1844, in Wurtemberg, son of John George and Rosina (Eben) Geissler, natives of that country.

John G. Geissler was a tin and copper smith and conducted an extensive business in his native country and after coming to this country in 1845 located in that business in Reading. His first location was at the present site of the Reading National Bank, and he became one of the city's substantial and highly respected citizens. He was a member of the German Lutheran Church, in the faith of which he died in 1880 at the age of seventy-eight years. Mr. Geissler was twice married, his first wife being a Miss Wetzel, who bore him nine children, of whom the following came to America: George, late of Womelsdorf, was engaged in the tin and stove business; John M. is a resident of Minnesota and an ex-member of the Legislature; Frederica, widow of Christian Mack, of Reading, died in February, 1909, aged eighty years and Christianna is the widow of Martin Streng, of Reading. Mr. Geissler was married (second) to Rosina Eben, by whom he had these children: Henry C., who married Emma Knabb, is a stove dealer; Christian W.; Franklin P. for the past ten years has been steward of the Almshouse and is now a resident of Reading. The second Mrs. Geissler died in 1876, at the age of sixty-six years.

Christian W. Geissler came with his parents to America and received his education in the public schools of Reading. On Aug. 9, 1862, he enlisted in Company H, 128th Pa. V. I., and was honorably discharged and mustered out of service, in May, 1863, having seen much active service, participating in the battles of South Mountain and Antietam, at the latter place being wounded in the left shin by a piece of shell, a wound that has troubled him to this day After recovering sufficiently to resume business, he associated himself with his father and brothers in the tinning and stove business, and in 1881 the firm of Geissler & Otto was formed. This partnership was continued for sixteen years with much success, at the end of which time Mr. Geissler withdrew and purchased a country seat near the Springs in Lower Alsace township, which property he sold in 1906 to purchase his present residence. Since that time he has lived a retired life in Mt. Penn. For some years he has taken an active part in public matters, being interested in the success of the Democratic party. In 1875-76 he served as a member of the common council of Reading, and from 1879 to 1880 was president of that body, which was one of the strongest bodies ever formed in Reading. During this time he signed the ordinance proposing the construction of Antietam Lake, the filter beds which filter this water being quite near to his present home in Mt. Penn. In 1878 he was the Democratic party's nominee for the Legislature, and was defeated by but twenty-eight votes, and from 1883 to 1887 he served as a member of the school board. He has been active in secret organizations, belonging to Teutonia Lodge No. 367, Excelsior Chapter No. 237, Reading Commandery No. 42, K. T., and Rajah Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S. He also belongs to Keim Post, G. A. R., and to many other fraternal bodies.

Mr. Geissler married Miss Alice C. Fritch, daughter of Henry and Rachel (Haas) Fritch. She was a native of Longswamp township, but was reared in Reading. Both Mr. and Mrs. Geissler were confirmed in the Lutheran Church.


p. 813


Henry S. Geist, a citizen of Bechtelsville who has lived retired since 1896, has seen many changes in that place during the thirty years of his residence there, and has himself been active in promoting its development and growth. He is a native of New Hanover township, Montgomery Co., Pa., born Feb. 20, 1834, and belongs to a branch of the Geist family which has long been settled in Montgomery county. It is believed they come from the same stock as the Geists of Longswamp township, Berks county. Mr. Geist recalls that four sleighs filled with "Geist" relatives came to visit his parents in the Falkner Swamp from Longswamp township, Berks county, and he remembers hearing his parents speak of the relationship existing between the Longswamp and Falkner Swamp Geists. In 1850 one Valentine Giest, Sr., died in Longswamp township, leaving his wife Catharine and a son Valentine, Jr., a daughter Lydia (Weber), and other children whose names are not mentioned in the will, recorded in Book 9, p. 400.

Through his parents Mr. Geist learned that the emigrant ancestor in this county, Christopher Geist, a German mineralogist, went from the German Fatherland to England, and from there was sent to Schwenkville, in Montgomery county, Pa., to manage or superintend a copper mine which is to this day an old landmark of that district. It is believed that one of the sons of the emigrant located in Longswamp township, Berks county. We find that one Christopher Geist came to America in 1740 on the ship "Lydia"; Fried. William Geist came on the ship "Ranier" to America in 1749; and Hans Jacob Geist came on the "Brothers" in 1754.

Matthias Geist, believed to be the great-grandfather of Henry S. Geist, lived on the west bank of the Schuylkill river, in Chester county, Pa. It is thought he was buried at a Mennonite meeting-house in that county.

Conrad Geist, grandfather of Henry S. Geist, hailed from Chester county, near the Schuylkill river, and settled in New Hanover township, Montgomery county, on the Swamp creek, where he farmed and had a gristmill. He died at the age of fifty-two years, and is buried at the Swamp Church. His wife, whose maiden name was Mary Groff, survived him. They had children as follows: Daniel lived near Limerick, Pa.; Henry lived at Pottstown, Pa.; Samuel; Matthias lived at Pottstown; Maria m. Amos Brower; Elizabeth m. Jacob Stetler; Catherine died young; Conrad lived at Uniontown, Dauphin Co., Pa.; and Isaac was of Pottstown.

Samuel Geist, son of Conrad, was the father of Henry S. Geist. He was born in the Falkner Swamp district in Montgomery county in 1805, and there made his home, following farming and his trade of wheelwright. He owned a good tract of about fifty acres, now the property of his son Samuel. Mr. Geist died about 1882, when seventy-seven years old, and is buried in the Swamp Church cemetery. His wife Elizabeth Zuber, daughter of Christopher Zuber, was born in 1804, long survived him, passing away in her ninety-fifth year, and she, too, is buried in the Swamp Church cemetery. Their children were: Lucy Ann died at the age of fifteen years; Esther m. James Markley; Henry S.; Samuel; and Ephraim died in childhood.

Henry S. Geist was reared upon the home farm, and began his education in the old pay schools conducted in the Falkner Swamp during the period of his boyhood. He worked for his parents at home until seventeen years old, when he commenced to learn carriage-making at the Swamp, and he followed this trade as a journeyman for about forty years altogether. In about 1858 he commenced to work on his own account, at the Swamp, and there he continued in business for twenty-one years, doing very well. In 1878 he moved to Bechtelsville, a borough of lower Berks county, and purchased the old Bechtel homestead, comprising sixty-one acres, from which he has since sold a number of building lots. Mr. Geist has witnessed many changes in Bechtelsville since his arrival in the place, and has been instrumental in bringing about many of the improvements which have added to the value of property and raised the standing of the borough. He engaged in farming on the old Bechtel place until his retirement in 1896. Mr. Geist is a substantial and respected citizen, and besides looking well after his own affairs has taken part in the life of his community, having served as school director of Bechtelsville for three years. He has been very active in church work, and upon the erection of the Bechtelsville (Reformed and Lutheran), in 1886, he not only donated the ground but also gave liberally toward the building itself, served as a member of the building committee and assisted in many other ways.

In October, 1856, Mr. Geist married Lydia Welker, daughter of George and Catherine (Kumerer) Welker, of Pennsburg, Pa., and to this marriage were born four children: Cevila m. William Fink, of Allentown, Pa.; Dr. James lives at Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Annie m. Oscar Winters, of Royer's Ford, Montgomery county; and Irwin is a bookkeeper at Royer's Ford, employed at the Emmers hosiery manufactory.

During the Civil war Mr. Geist was in the service for a time in the State defense, belonging to the company of his cousin, Capt. Jesse Geist, which company was organized by Daniel Yost, and their colonel was Charles A. Knoderer. They were sent to Hagerstown at the time of the battle of Antietam. Mr. Geist is a Democrat in political opinion.

[ A complete history of the Geist family and its genealogy has been written by George Geist, of Frankford, Pa. who intends to present it to the Pennsylvania German Society]


p. 1364


Alfred J. Genner, president and general manager of The Temple Ornamental and Structural Iron Works Company, one of the important and prospering industries of Temple, Pa., has been identified with the development of this enterprise since its organization, having been its careful and conservative presiding officer since that time. He is a man of wide experience in his line of activity and occupies a position of prominence in the business world. Mr. Genner is a native of England, where his education was received.

While in his native country Mr. Genner learned the method of iron making, and in the spring of 1880 he came to America and settled in Chester county, Pa., where he secured employment with the Crucible Iron Works. After about ten years with this company, he accepted a position with Jackson and Sharp, at Wilmington, Del., and served with them for six years as manager of the iron department. He then resigned to engage in the ornamental iron business, but subsequently located in Reading, and for five years was employed at the W.F. Remppis Iron Works. Mr. Genner then organized the Temple Ornamental and Structural Iron Works Company, which was later established on a joint stock basis, the officers being: Alfred J. Genner, president and general manager; J. D. Brockway, vice president; and Wilfred Wolcott, secretary, of Camden, N. J.; and K. B. Genner, treasurer. The above gentlemen with Herman P. Roeper, compose the board of directors. Mr. Genner still controls the chief interest in this enterprise, and its continuous growth and expansion is directly attributable to his intelligent and well-applied efforts.

Ever since its organization the company has maintained an office in New York, which is located at No. 207 Broadway, and it has executed many large and important contracts in that city and vicinity. Lately the company has furnished all the ornamental iron work used in the construction of the new Bellevue Hospital, New York, as well as all the ornamental iron work for the Essex County Hospital buildings for the State of New Jersey: while another contract includes fire escapes for the Dupont Building, Wilmington, Del. How extensive has been the work of the company during recent years will be seen from the fact that it has filled orders for such representative concerns as the Bell Telephone Company, Lyric Theater Company, University of Pennsylvania, and others in Philadelphia; West Chester State Normal School, West Chester, Pa.; Wilmington Pumping Station, Wilmington, Del.; New York and New Jersey Telephone Company, Jamaica, L. I.; Monroe County Bank, East Stroudsburg, Pa.; Schuylkill Trust Company, Pottsville, Pa.; the new Mishler Theater, Altoona, Pa.; and numerous contracts throughout the State for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.

The business of the Temple Ornamental and Structural Iron Works Company was never in a stronger or more prosperous condition than at the present time and it is steadily increasing in volume from month to month. It was owing to the growth of the company's business that a branch office was opened in April. 1907, at No. 308 Harrison Building, Philadelphia, where its interests are constantly growing in volume and importance. Mr. Genner divides his time between the main offices at Temple and the branches at Philadelphia and New York. The company's output embraces a wide and varied line of architectural and ornamental wrought and cast iron work, plain and artistic iron work of all kinds, office and bank work, elevator enclosures, iron stairs, fire escapes, railing, fencing, grilles, etc., and the facilities at its command are of the most complete and advantageous character.

Last Modified Thursday, 16-Oct-2008 20:54:11 EDT

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