Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals by Morton Montgomery


p. 972


Allen G. Gery, of Siesholtzville, Berks county, was born in that town Sept. 7, 1856, son of Charles N. Gery. Extensive mention of his father and earlier generations of the family will be found elsewhere.

Mr. Gery attended the public schools of Hereford township and supplemented his early education by study at the Keystone State Normal School at Kutztown. In 1873 he was licensed to teach school by the late Prof. D. B. Brunner, and later he received a license from Dr. S. A. Baer. When he left the Normal he was a member of the graduating class, but had to give up his studies because of poor health. He taught for three terms in Hereford township, at Siesholtzville, and later began to assist his father in the general merchandise business there. For six months he was with the J. H. Obold & Co., hardware establishment at Reading, but his father requested him to return to Siesholtzville and the general store, where he has been engaged as clerk ever since. He has been connected with that business for more than thirty years, and his services have been much appreciated. Mr. Gery has served four years as tax collector in Hereford township, having entered that office to fill the unexpired term of Elias Henry, who left these parts, and he was chosen for a full term at the end of his first period of service. He was appointed and served as deputy coroner of Hereford township for three years.

On May 21, 1885, Mr. Gery married Miss Mary L. Bittenbender, daughter of George and Maria (Hunsberger) Bittenbender, of Hereford township, and granddaughter of Jacob and Susanna (Jung) Bittenbender; her maternal grandparents were Henry and Polly (Gery) Hunsberger, of Hereford. Mr. and Mrs. Gery have two children, Leva R. and Allen W. , the former a student at the Kutztown Normal School. The family are members of the Reformed congregation of Huff's Church, and Mr. Gery is a Democrat in politics. He has a very comfortable residence at Siesholtzville.


p 483


Erwin C. Gery is the present proprietor of the hotel at Siesholtzville in Hereford township, Berks county, which has been in the hands of the Gery family for over fifty years. This family was established in Berks county one hundred and seventy years ago by Jacob Gery, Erwin C. Gery being a member of the fifth generation in direct line of descent from this pioneer.

Jacob Gery, born May 9, 1721, came to this country from Switzerland, landing at Philadelphia Sept. 3, 1739. He was a "redemptioner," and to pay for his passage served a number of years with Valentine Griesemere of Hereford, in Berks county, Pa. In later years, like his Biblical namesake, he married his master's daughter, Gertrude Griesemere, born May 15, 1728. Jacob Gery purchased six hundred acres of land, located partly in what is now Upper Hanover township, Montgomery county, and partly in Hereford township, Berks county. He sold some of it, clearing the remainder, upon which he erected the necessary buildings and made many improvements. His old place is now the property of a descendant, Thomas H. Gery. The original dwelling was used as late as 1803, when the house which is at present on the place was built. The old dwelling served as a schoolhouse for a number of years. Jacob Gery understood the art of making tile, and erected a hut and kilns for manufacturing the same, and on this account the place was known from the Delaware to the Schuylkill river as Gery's Tile Hut or "Ziegel Huette." Jacob Gery died Feb. 25, 1808, some years after his wife, who passed away Feb. 8, 1802. They are buried in the old graveyard at New Goshenhoppen Church. Nine children were born to this pioneer couple: Jacob, John Adam, John, Peter, Michael, Rebecca, Elizabeth, Anna Maria and Catharine.

Jacob Gery, son of Jacob and Gertrude, was born Feb. 11, 1754, in Montgomery county, Pa., and died Sept. 28,1828, aged seventy-four years, seven months, seventeen days; he is buried at New Goshenhoppen Church. By occupation he was a farmer, owning a large farm. He was married three times, first to Elizabeth Lauer, by whom he had four children, Jacob, Peter, Sarah and John. His second wife, Anna Treichler, 1763-1792, bore him one child, that died in infancy, and by his third union, with Elizabeth Treichler (1768-1851), sister of Anna, he had children as follows: Elizabeth, Michael, Joseph, David, Maria (or Polly) and Julia. Michael Gery, son of Jacob and Elizabeth, was born Feb. 22, 1795, on the old Gery homestead, and died at Perryville (now Harlem), in Hereford township, Aug. 17, 1870, aged seventy-five years, five months, twenty-five days. Coming to Hereford township in 1823, he passed the rest of his life there, owning a seventy-four-acre farm at what is now Harlem, which he cultivated. He also carried on an oil mill which stood on his farm, at the source of the Perkiomen creek, running this mill profitably for a period of twenty-two years, and he was likewise successful as a store and hotel keeper, conducting the hotel at Harlem from 1832 until 187-. His hotel was a popular resting place for the early residents of Upper Berks county who passed through on their way from Albany, Greenwich, Windsor, Richmond, Maxatawny and Longswamp townships to Philadelphia, whither they took their grain and produce to market. Michael Gery's son, Charles N. Gery, now one of the venerable residents of Hereford township, recalls that on a Monday morning fifty-two teams stopped there. Whiskey then sold for three cents a glass, and a cigar was given for good-will to each "smaller." As might be expected from one of his energetic nature and wide acquaintance, he was a leading and influential spirit in his community, active and aggressive, interested in politics and alive to the needs of his community. In 1852 he was county commissioner, during that time assisting in the erection of the Berks county prison. He was one of the organizers of the Goshenhoppen Mutual Fire Insurance Company, of which he was a director many years, and the family has been represented on the board of directors up to the present time, Michael Gery retiring in favor of his son Charles N., who after a service of thirteen years retired in favor of his son, Erwin C., who has been a director of the company since 1890. Michael Gery and his son and grandson have been chosen many times as county and State delegates in their connection with this concern. The grandfather was a man of medium height, but stout, commanding in appearance, and much respected among his friends and acquaintances. He was twice married, first to Sally Nuss, born March 7, 1795, died July 25, 1844, aged forty-nine years, four months, eighteen days, and they had a family of twelve children, six sons and six daughters: Daniel, Ephraim, David (1820-1884), Charles N., Polly, Elizabeth, Judith, Sarah, Franklin, Caroline, Matilda and Michael. By his second wife, Elizabeth (Moll), he had two sons, Milton M. (who is an auctioneer) and Jacob M. Michael Gery and his family were German Reformed members of Huff's Church, where he is buried.

Charles N. Gery, son of Michael, was born Oct. 28, 1822, in Upper Hanover township, Montgomery county. He was less than a year old when his father settled in Hereford township, Berks county, and there he received his education, attending the old pay schools then in Vogue. Remaining upon the farm until he was eighteen, he then entered the store at Henningsville, in Longswamp township, as a clerk, being engaged there four years. In 1845 he moved to Siesholtzville, where in partnership with his father he kept the store for one and a half years, after which they conducted the store at Harlem (then Perryville) for eight and a half years, at the end of that time dissolving partnership. Returning then to Siesholtzville he again commenced keeping store there, and he has been interested in that business ever since, the firm now being Gery & Moll, as it has been ever since he admitted his son-in-law, William B. Moll, to a partnership. They carry a full line of general merchandise, and are considered the most reliable merchants in this section. Mr. Gery was appointed postmaster at Siesholtzville in 1854, by President James A. Pierce, and served until the post office was abandoned, Nov. 30, 1908, upon the establishment of a rural free delivery route. No citizen of eastern Berks county is held in higher esteem than Mr. Gery, who is one of the oldest and best known residents of that locality. He has always been an active man, winning success by industry and devotion to business, and he is one of the heavy tax payers of his township, owning the store and hotel property as well as several dwellings at Siesholtzville. He served one term of three years as township auditor when the office was literally thrust upon him, but with this exception has taken no part in public life, having steadfastly refused offers of preferment and trust.

In 1848 Mr. Gery married Elizabeth Moll, born Jan. 24,1827, died Dec. 26, 1895, and six children were born to them: (1) Malinda m. William B. Moll, who is mentioned elsewhere in this work. (2) Sally Ann m. Alfred A. Schall, and is deceased. (3) Erwin C. is mentioned later. (4) Allen G. is mentioned elsewhere. (5) Cassie Ann m. Dr. J. L. Roth, of Red Hill, Montgomery Co., Pa., and is deceased. (6) Dr. Ambrose M. is a prominent physician and surgeon at Coopersburg. Pa., where he is also the proprietor of the "Vanness Hotel." Charles N. Gery and his family are Reformed members of Huff's Church, which he served as treasurer for fourteen years.

Erwin C. Gery was born Dec. 2, 1852, and has passed practically his entire life in Hereford township. He received a thorough education, which was begun in the township schools and continued at the Keystone State Normal School at Kutztown (where he was under three principals, Profs. John S. Ermentrout, Horn and Schaeffer), the Seminary at Kulpsville, Montgomery county, and the Eastman Business College, at Poughkeepsie, N. Y., from which he was graduated in 1875. His boyhood days were spent in Siesholtzville, where he clerked in his father's store from the time he could be of any use, also assisting in the hotel and upon the farm. After graduating from the business college he clerked in the store until early in 1877, on March 27th of which year he took charge of the hotel at Siesholtzville. which he has conducted ever since. It is one of the oldest hostelries in the county, and has been in the Gery family since 1854, Charles N. Gery having carried it on for twenty-one years before Erwin C. Gery took charge. There are sixteen rooms, and the place is well patronized by the traveling public, Mr. Gery being one of the most popular landlords in his section, for he conducts a reliable hotel and bears a favorable reputation among the best citizens of the county. Siesholtzville is located on the road from Hamburg to Philadelphia, and from Allentown to Reading, and the hotel is one of the landmarks in its neighborhood. The building is an old stone structure erected during the French and Indian war.

Mr. Gery owns considerable real estate in and around Siesholtzville, having several houses in the vicinity which he rents, and in connection with the hotel property he has thirty acres of land. Since 1890 he has been connected as a director with the Goshenhoppen Mutual Fire Insurance Company, which has risks at present amounting to nearly $16,000,000. He has been a director of the National Bank of Topton since its organization in 1905. He is one of the best known Democrats in Berks county, being a strong advocate of the principles of his party, in whose interests he has been an active worker from the age of nineteen years. He has served many times as county and State delegate, was school director of his township for three years, and in the spring of 1908 was a candidate for the office of county treasurer, making a very creditable run. Mr. Gery is well known in fraternal circles, being a member of Perkiomen Lodge, No. 595, F & A. M., of East Greenville, Pa.; of Covenant Commandery, No. 58, A. & I. 0. K. of M., of Alburtis, Pa.; and a charter member of Camp No. 470, P. 0. S. of A., of Siesholtzville, of which he was the first past president, and which he has represented many times as delegate at State and district conventions.

On June 24, 1876, Mr. Gery was married to Lizzie Baus daughter of John and Elizabeth (Geissinger) Baus, of Hereford township. To this union have been born three children: Harry C., born June 12, 1877, is married to Jennie Reinert, and they reside at Reading, Berks Co., Pa.; Lizzie, born in 1882, died in 1886; Donald E. was born March 9, 1897. Mr. Gery and his family are Reformed members of Huff's Church. He was the leader of the choir there for nine years, during which time he sang bass, and he was connected with the choir in all twenty-three years. He was one of the last class of catechumens taught by Rev. Alfred Hennan at Huff's Church.


p. 1329


William A. Gery, manufacturer of vitrified brick, was born at Reading, Oct. 23, 1868, and educated in the public schools. He learned the trade of hatter and followed it for four years until 1890, when he embarked with his brother, Albert A. Gery, in the business of manufacturing vitrified brick at Montello, a mile south of Sinking Spring, in Berks county. In the organization of the company, he became the manager; and he filled this position until 1907, when he and his brother organized the Glen-Gery Brick Company, which established a plant, with all the latest appliances, at Shoemakersville, in Berks county, and became its manager.

Mr. Gery was married to Minerva Evans, daughter of Lewis M. Evans of Spring township; by whom he has two sons: Edward Evans and Ralph William. His father is Addison Gery, born in 1837, and brought up on a farm in Hereford township until he was twelve years old, when he accompanied his parents to Reading. He learned the trade of carpenter but entered the employ of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Company, and continued with the company for 26 years (mostly as a locomotive engineer), until 1893, when he became the stationary engineer of the Montello Brick Company, and he has continued in the employ of this company until the present time. He was married to Catharine Smith (daughter of Balthaser Smith of Reading), by whom he had eight children: Albert A. (married to Nellie Harbster); Mary Rebecca (married to Herbert E. Collins, of New Haven, Conn.); William A.; Leah (married to William C.K. Fisher); Frank S. (married to Amelia Beck); and three who died young.

Mr. Gery's grandfather was Jonathan Nuss Gery, tailor, of Hereford township, who located at Reading in 1849. He entered the employ of the P.& R.R. Co. in 1851 and continued with the company until 1892. He died in 1893, aged 82 years. He was married to Mary Gehris, daughter of George, of Oley (now Pike) township, by whom he had five children: Addison; Emma E. (married to John Haupt of Savannah, Ga.); Benjamin F. (who died in infancy); Sarah Ann (married to Harry Hartz; and Jonathan G. (married to Emma Babb). His wife died in 1885, aged 69 years.

His great-grandfather was Michael Gery; and great-great-grandfather, Jacob Gery, who emigrated from Switzerland in 1739.

Mr. Gery's wife is a lineal descendant of Philip Evans, who emigrated with two brothers from Wales about 1720, and afterwards settled in Cumru township, Lancaster county, which in 1752 became a part of Berks county.

Her father was Lewis M. Evans (1833-99), who married Sarah Ruth, and had four children, George, William, Annie and Minerva. Lewis was a son of John V.R. Evans (1804-64), who married Annie Ruth (1814-79). John V.R. was a son of Philip Thomas Evans (1770-1835) who married Annie Elizabeth Van Reed (1778-1853), a daughter of John Van Reed. Philip was a son of Joshua, and Joshua was a son of Philip, the immigrant above mentioned.


p. 1129


Oliver S. Gettis, who has been a moulder in the employ of the Reading Hardware Company for a period of twenty-three years, resides in Oakbrook, Cumru township. He was born April 26, 1866, in Perry township, Berks county, son of James B. and Lydia (Gehret) Gettis.

Jacob Gettis, grandfather of Oliver S., came to Virginville, Richmond township, according to his own statement from Morgantown, Berks county. He followed tailoring until his death in 1870, in his sixty-ninth year. His wife, Catherine Brown, born in 1819, died in 1856. Their children were: Eli was proprietor of the Virginville Hotel; William, a shoemaker of Reading, m. Susan Gehman, daughter of Jacob Gehman, of Lehigh county, and had four children, Howard, Wayne (deceased), William and Walter; James B. was the father of Oliver S.; Edwin, a well-known shoe merchant of Reading, has a son Byron, of Philadelphia; and Alfred died young.

James B. Gettis was born in Upper Berks county, and early in life learned the stone mason's trade. He became one of the old-time schoolmasters of the upper section of Berks county, teaching for some years in Richmond township, where he now resides near Moselem Church. He married Lydia Gehret, daughter of Samuel Gehret, of Richmond township, and to this union there have been born five children, namely: Amanda, m. to James Dautrich, a contractor of Reading; Oliver S.; James G., a carpenter of Palo Alto, Schuylkill county; Edwin, who died unmarried in 1889; and Mary, m. to Edward Schwoyer, of Moselem.

Oliver S. Gettis spent his boyhood days in Richmond township, where he received his education, and he was reared upon a farm, on which he worked until his twentieth year. He then learned the moulding trade with the Reading Hardware Company, and with this company he has continued to the present time. Mr. Gettis is a skilled workman, and has earned the respect of his employers and the esteem of his fellow employes. He is a member of Perseverance Council No. 19, Jr. O. U. A. M., Reading; Knights of Malta No. 47, Reading; and the Iron Moulders Union of North America, No. 348. In politics he is a stanch Democrat. In 1904 Mr. Gettis erected his fine home on Lancaster avenue, Oakbrook, being his own architect, and here he and his family have resided happily ever since.

On Jan. 1, 1889, Mr. Gettis married Bertha Trait, born in Caernarvon township, and to this union there have been born two daughters: Stella May, and Sallie Susanna, attending the Cumru township High School.

Philip Trait, father of Mrs. Oliver S. Gettis, was a lifelong blacksmith, living for many years in Cumru township, where he died in March, 1884. He is buried at the Plow Church, of which he was a Lutheran member, as was his wife, Susan (Glass) Trait, who died in May, 1904. Their children were as follows: Aaron, of Reading; William, of Cumru township; Samuel, of Phoenix, Ariz.; Ellen, m. to Morris Hoffman, of Cumru township; and Bertha, Mrs. Gettis.


p 339


Hon. James K. Getz, former mayor of the City of Reading, Pa., and an influential citizen and leading business man, president of the Reading Shale Brick Company for the first ten years of its existence-1896 to 1906- and a member of the firm of H. S. Getz's Sons; proprietors of the Reading Steam Marble Works, was born in Berks county, Pa., Jan. 19, 1848, son of Hiram S. and Sarah B. (Kistler) Getz.

James K. Getz comes of German ancestry. John Getz, the founder of the family in America, came from Rheinpfalz, Germany, and settled on a grant of land in Lancaster county, Pa., received from King George. His son, Nicholas, who became the great-grandfather of James K., followed farming in Berks county, married and reared his children, one of these being Jacob Getz, our subject's grandfather. The latter was born in Berks county, and followed an agricultural life, becoming one of the prosperous and substantial citizens of the community in which he lived, he married Hannah, youngest daughter of John Soder, who served as captain in the Continental army, during the Revolutionary War. He was a stanch Democrat in his political views, and his descendants have been identified with the same party.

Hiram S. Getz, father of James K. Getz, was born at Sunbury, Pa., in 1822, but was reared in Berks county, the family having returned there. He was educated in the schools of Reading. From 1857 to 1870 he was engaged in a wholesale grocery business at Reading, and in 1874 he formed a partnership with his son, James K. Getz, and they began the operation of the Steam Marble Works under the firm name of H. S. Getz & Co. This continued until his death in 1886, when his son Hiram K. received by will his half interest. The business is now conducted under the firm name of H. S. Getz's Sons.

From 1854 until 1857 Hiram S. Getz was Recorder of Deeds for Berks county; was Registrar of Wills from 1869 to 1872; and for a number of years was a valued member of the City Council. He died in September, 1886. He was survived by his wife but a few months. Mr. Getz married Sarah B. Kistler, daughter of John S. Kistler, who was the eldest son of Samuel Kistler by his second wife Caroline Brobst -- Samuel Kistler was the fourth son of George Kistler, the emigrant ancestor. George Kistler came from Switzerland to this country and moved from Montgomery county to Lehigh county Pa., in 1735. The children of Hiram S. Getz and wife were: Amelia. James K.; Sarah; John; William; Emma; Charles K.; Hiram K., and Laura.

James K. Getz, who occupies a conspicuous place in the business world of Reading, was born in Albany township, and was educated in the public schools of Reading. When his father was elected county recorder in 1853, the family moved into Reading, and thus Mr. Getz had more advantages than if he had grown to manhood in the country. It was his intention to enter college, and he spent a season in Philadelphia in preparation, but his ambition was not realized. His father had on his hands a large wholesale grocery business just at a time when he was left almost without clerks on account of their enlisting for the Civil war in 1863, and it became necessary for James K. to enter the store. In 1869, on attaining his majority, his father sold the business to him and Jonathan Grim, and they maintained that partnership, trading as Getz & Grim, for five years, when it was dissolved, and Mr. Getz entered into partnership, in 1874, with his father, forming the firm of H. S. Getz & Co., as proprietors of the Reading Steam Marble Works, of which he is still the joint owner with his brother, Hiram K. In 1896 the Reading Shale Brick Company was organized, and Mr. Getz became its president. The business has proved one of great success, the market extending to a number of other States, large sales being realized in New York. The different business concerns which have found favor with Mr. Getz have been those of the utmost merit, and their conduct has been along lines of constant expansion but with methods only of the most honorable character.

Since young manhood Mr. Getz has been more or less interested in politics, and has always been thoroughly informed concerning public issues. Like his father and grandfather, he is an out and out Democrat, believing firmly in the old time principles of this great party. That he is looked upon as a man in whom confidence can be placed for his personal qualities, has been frequently shown when he has been elected to offices of responsibility by the votes of both parties. Such was the case in 1880 when he was elected councilman from the Fifth ward, Reading. He scored a great victory, being returned in a district which had formerly given good majorities to Republican candidates. He continued a member of the council two years and served the second year of that time as its president. In 1885 Mr. Getz was the popular choice for mayor, and he served through the term of two years with complete success, his administration adding to his former laurels.

In 1868 Mr. Getz was married to Mary Agnes Jones, daughter of John H. Jones, a prominent farmer, and granddaughter of Samuel Jones. She comes of distinguished ancestry and Revolutionary valor. Her great-great-grandfather, Rev. Thomas Jones, was a Baptist clergyman, a native of Wales, who took up land in Cumin township, in 1735. Thomas Jones, Jr. (father of Samuel Jones). born in Cumru township in 1742. was an organizer of the patriotic society known as the "Associators." He was a soldier in the Revolutionary war, and died in Heidelberg township, Berks county, in March, 1800. He was a member of the first Constitutional Convention.

Fraternally Mr. Getz is prominent in Masonic organizations. He is a member of Lodge No. 62, F. & A. M.; Reading Chapter No. 152, R. A. M.; Creigh Council No. 16, R. & S. M.; De Molay Commandery, No. 9, K. T.; and the Philadelphia Consistory, 32d degree, A. A. S. R.; and Rajah Temple, A. A. 0. N. M. S.

On many occasions Mr. Getz has been importuned to accept a directorship in some bank or other large financial body, but such honors and emoluments he has declined, in all cases stating that he preferred to devote his whole time outside his public and social duties, to the development of the Reading Shale Brick Company and the Reading Steam Marble Works; but in the early part of 1906 he became a member of the directorate of the Pennsylvania Trust Company.


p. 810


J. Lawrence Getz, Congressman from Berks county, 1867 to 1873, was born at Reading, Sept. 14, 1821. His father was George Getz, an officer of the United States navy, and the founder and for a number of years the publisher of the Berks and Schuylkill Journal. His grand-father, on the maternal side, was a soldier in the Revolution.

J. Lawrence Getz received an academic education, and read law in the office of the Hon. William Strong. He was admitted to the Bar Aug. 6, 1846, but he never engaged in active practice. In 1840, with Jacob Knabb as a co-partner, he founded the Reading Gazette, an English weekly newspaper at Reading. Some years afterward he purchased the Jefferson Democrat, and then, as sole proprietor merged the two into one, and issued the paper under the name of the Reading Gazette and Democrat. He conducted its publication very successfully till 1868. In politics he was a strong advocate of Democratic principles.

During the Civil War he was a firm Union man, advocating the preservation of the Union of the States and the enforcement of the Constitution. With the national administration in the hands of the Republican party, whose principles were opposed to his own, the course which he pursued in publishing a Democratic newspaper was commendable. His patriotic sentiments contributed much toward creating a proper spirit of submission in the adherents of the Democratic party. As an editor he displayed a high degree of ability and energy.

In 1856 Mr. Getz was elected as one of the representatives of the county to the State Legislature, and re-elected in 1857. During the latter term he was made Speaker of the House by the unanimous nomination of his Democratic colleagues, an evidence of his popularity and ability. In 1866 he was elected to represent this district in the XLth Congress of the United States, and re-elected to the XLIst and XLIId Congresses, serving three consecutive terms from March 4, 1867, to March 4, 1873. After his retirement from public life he for a time edited the Spirit of Berks. He officiated as controller of the city of Reading for the term from 1888 to 1892. He died Dec. 25, 1891.

Mr. Getz was married to a daughter of Rev. R. U. Morgan, D. D., rector of Christ Episcopal Church at Reading from 1834 to 1850. They had two children, George and Sadie.


p. 1490


William H. Gibson, of Reading, who resides at No. 826 North Sixth street, was born April 27, 1855, at Schuylkill Haven, Berks Co., Pa., son of David and Catherine (Shearer) Gibson.

The great-grandfather of William H. Gibson came from Germany at an early day and settled in the State of Maine, where his son George, the grandfather of William H., spent his life. David Gibson came to Pennsylvania when a young man and settled at Schuylkill Haven, where for many years he was lock-tender of what was then and still is known as Gibson's Locks, located at the lower end of the town. He died in 1875. David Gibson married Catherine Shearer, daughter of Peter Shearer, who came from Pottsville and settled at Schuylkill Haven, where he was a carpenter and millwright. To Mr. and Mrs. Gibson these children were born: Samuel, Albert, George, Frank, William, H., Emma, Mary J. and Lillie.

William H. Gibson attended the public schools of Ontelaunee township, Berks county, after leaving which he worked for two years in the mines, and then entered the employ of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad, with which company he continued as brakeman and conductor for seventeen years. He then engaged with the well-known firm of Slocker & Roerich, and he has continued with Mr. Roerich, in the capacity of engineer, to the present time.

Mr. Gibson was married to Lucy Reppert, daughter of Daniel and Catherine Reppert, and they have these children: Mazie, Frank, Katie, Ida and Albert. One child, also named Mazie, died in infancy.

Mr. Gibson resides in his own home at No. 826 North Sixth street, and with his family attends the Presbyterian Church. He is a member of the K. G. E. and the B. of R. F., the latter of which he helped to organize, serving for twelve years as secretary of this association.


p. 1152


Edward A. Gicker, one of Reading's enterprising young business men, who is manager of the well-known O. F. Kauffman Music House, was born Feb. 16, 1873, at Pine Grove, Schuylkill Co., Pa., son of Absalom and Sarah (Werntz) Gicker.

John Gicker, great-grandfather of Edward A., was a joiner of Bern, township, Berks county, and died at the old Hain's Church, when nearly ninety years of age, and was buried at Bern Church. He married a Miss Freymoyer, and they had two children: Jonathan and Catherine.

Jonathan Gicker, grandfather of Edward A., was born in Bern township, where he followed butchering, also operating a small farm in connection therewith. Later in life he removed to Pine Grove, Schuylkill county, where he engaged in the hotel business until his death. Mr. Gicker married Rebecca Kissinger, daughter of Abraham Kissinger, of Bern township, and to this union there were born the following children: Jonathan, Washington, Absalom, George, Louisa, Abraham, Aaron and Amelia.

Absalom Gicker, father of Edward A., attended the schools of Bern township, after leaving which he learned the butchering business with his father, with whom he remained until twenty-two years of age. He then went to Schuylkill county, and there engaged in the hotel business for one year. He carried on a like business at Jonestown, Lebanon county, for one year, when he returned to Pine Grove, and in 1880 located in Reading, where he was employed at different occupations, finally engaging in the hotel business for six years. He then sold out to engage in hauling, which he followed for a short time, did butchering for one year, re-engaged in the hotel business for another year, and in 1893 embarked in the fish business, in which he has continued to the present time with much success. At his stand at the Fourth street market house, Cherry street, he handles all kinds of fish in season, and in handling his share of the large business done there.

Absalom Gicker married Miss Sarah Werntz, of Pine Grove, daughter of Frederick and Sarah L. Werntz, and to this union the following children have been born: Edward A.; Frank, a molder employed by the government and residing at Washington, D.C., m. Catharine Heck; Irene m. William Mee, proprietor of the old "Corner Hotel" at Williamsport, Pa; Catherine m. Frederick Wise, of Reading, Pa.; Florence R. is at home; Ralph resides with his parents; and three children died in infancy.

Edward A. Gicker came to Reading as a boy and attended the public schools and Stoner's Business College, from which he was graduated in 1896. He then accepted a position as foreman in a bicycle factory, having charge of the frame department, where he remained three years. During the Spanish-American war Mr. Gicker enlisted in Company A, 4th Pennsylvania, National Guard, and left Mt. Gretna, May 11, 1898, for camp. He then went to Porto Rico, where his regiment remained three months, he acting as sergeant major. After returning home, Mr. Gicker engaged with Mr. Goodhart, the well known tobacconist of Penn street, Reading, as manager, and remained with this gentleman for two and one-half years. In 1900 he purchased the phonograph department of C. H. Lichty of Reading, which he successfully conducted until Nov. 28, 1905, with Edward L. Woomer, at which time he sold out to O. F. Kauffman, now deceased, and since that time has been manager of the Kauffman Music House.

On Dec. 29, 1899, Mr. Gicker was married to Florence C. Mack, daughter of George and Catherine (Hoernle) Mack, and to this union one son has been born: E. Douglas, born in 1905. Socially, Mr. Gicker is connected with the Masons, belonging to Reading Lodge, No. 549, F. & A. M.; Reading Chapter No. 152, R. A. M.; Reading Lodge of Perfection, 14th degree; DeMolay Commandery No. 9, K. T.; and Rajah Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S. He is also a member of the Modern Woodmen of Reading, the Penn Wheelmen, the Philharmonic Band, and director of the Apollo Orchestra. Mr. Gicker is a member of the Second Reformed Church. He and Mrs. Gicker reside in their own home at No. 1023 North Eleventh street, Reading, and are well known in social and musical circles.


p. 1042


James M. Gicker, a retired citizen of Reading, residing at No. 630 Schuylkill avenue, was born in 1842 in Bern township, Berks county, son of Jacob H. and Casiah (Miller) Gicker, and a grandson of Jacob Gicker.

Jacob Gicker, who was a distiller in his early days, spent all of his life in Bern township, and because very wealthy. He married a Miss Huyett, and to them were born these children: John, Jacob H., Daniel, Mrs. Boone, Mrs. Shoup, Mrs. Dickerson, Mrs. Steiley, Mrs. Sheidy, and Anna (who died single).

Jacob H. Gicker, like his father, spent all of his life in Bern township, and was engaged extensively in agricultural pursuits. He died in 1892, aged seventy-eight years, and his wife in 1882, when sixty-six years of age. They had four children: James M. is mentioned below: Casiah married Frank Romig; Jane married (first) a Mr. Kirkhoff, by whom she had two children, Emma and Jacob, and married (second) Sebastian Kissling; Amanda is unmarried. In religious belief the family are Reformed. Mr. Gicker was a Democrat.

James M. Gicker received his educational advantages in Bern and Spring townships. At the age of twenty-five years he left the farm and cam to Reading, where for twelve years he was engaged in driving a team for John McKnight, the iron merchant, remaining in his employ until he retired from active life. He has lived at his present residence, No. 630 Schuylkill avenue, since 1891.

Mr. Gicker married Angeline Herbein. No children have been born to them. In political matters he is a Democrat, and he is fraternally connected with the South End Gun Club, in which organization he has won a number of prizes. Mr. and Mrs. Gicker attend the Reformed Church.


p. 1247


John Moyer Gift, a venerable citizen of Stonersville, and a veteran of the Civil war, is now operating his fine farm of forty-three acres in Exeter township. Mr. Gift was born Feb. 10, 1839, in Maiden-creek township, son of Jonas and Mary (Moyer) Gift.

Jonas Gift, who was a native of Maiden-creek township, engaged in agricultural pursuits there early in life, but later removed to Exeter township, from whence he returned to Maiden-creek township, and went thence to Ruscombmanor township, where he died at the age of eighty-eight years, his wife having passed away when seventy-five years of age. They had a family of fifteen children: Benjamin, Charles, Herman, Robert, Isaac, Harrison, William, Kate, Frederick Elizabeth, and five who died in infancy. The parents were members of the Reformed Church.

John M. Gift was reared on his father's farm in Maidencreek township, received his education in the public schools, and after leaving them he learned shoemaking, an occupation which he followed for fifteen years. He then learned the butchering business, in which he was engaged in connection with farming in Oley township until 1902, when he purchased his present farm of forty-three acres, and has since resided in Exeter Township. Mr. Gift has always been a Republican, and has been elected to positions of trust and responsibility, including those of prison inspector, school director, constable, delegate to county conventions and member of the county committee for many years.

During the Civil War Mr. Gift enlisted in Co. E., 205th P. V. I., as a private, and for nearly a year shared the privations and hardships of a soldier's life, participating in the battles of Petersburg and Devil's Hole, and in many skirmishes, and showing himself at all times to be a brave, cheerful and faithful soldier. For a time he acted as quartermaster.

On March 30, 1866, Mr. Gift was married to Miss Annie Heckman, daughter of Jacob and Abbie (Deysher) Heckman, of Alsace township, and twelve children were born to this union: Kate, the widow of Reuben Rhoads, of Reading; Oliver, a brick maker and contractor of Reading; Jacob, a brick maker of Gouglersville; Alice, the wife of Elam H. Rhoads, a hotel proprietor; Oscar, a farmer of Berks county; Thomas, a farmer of Oley township; Aquilla m. Victor L. Goodhart, a merchant of Stonersville; John, a blacksmith; Christina m. John Weidner; George, a brick mason of Reading; Lottie, deceased; and Adam, at home.

Mr. Gift is a member of the Reformed Church, and served as deacon for six years and elder for nine years of Shalter's Church of that denomination, and for nine years as superintendent of the Sabbath School. His wife is connected with the Lutheran Church.


p 359


John W Gilbert, of the firm of Heffner, Gilbert & Croll, leading clothiers and men's furnishers at Reading, Pa., was born Sept. 5. 1856, near Gilbertsville, New Hanover township, Montgomery Co., Pa., son of Elias Y. and Rebecca, (Wartman) Gilbert, and grandson of John and Sarah (Yerger) Gilbert.

John Gilbert was born near Gilbertsville. Pa., a little borough named in honor of the early residents of that name and he and his wife were the parents of two children, Elias Y. and a daughter who died in infancy. After Mrs. Gilbert's death, John Gilbert married (second) Esther Bickel. By this union there were children as follows: Jesse. Lydia, Henry, John, Milton, Emma, Percival and Augustus. In religious belief the grandparents were members of the Lutheran Church. He was a blacksmith by trade, and this occupation he followed for many year dying aged sixty years.

Elias Y. Gilbert was born on the old Gilbert homestead near Gilbertsville. He received a good common school education, and during his vacations worked in his father's blacksmith shop, learning the trade. This he followed for a short time, and then engaged in the hotel business, first in Berks county, and later, after a short time spent in the butcher business, returned thereto, continuing in that occupation for about forty years, sixteen years of this time being in Pottstown. He died Dec. 1, 1898, and his wife followed him to the grave April 3, 1901. The children born to this union were : Mahlon W., born Aug. 16, 1850, in New Hanover, Montgomery county, is deceased; Elizabeth W born Dec. 21, 1853, in New Hanover, died unmarried; Sarah A. W., born Oct. 18, 1854, in New Hanover, married C. W. B. Todd, Feb. 21, 1901; John W., born Sept. 5, 1856; Ellen W., born Sept. 11, 1859, in Boyertown, Berks county married Nevin Gery, now of Philadelphia; Elias H., born Feb. 10, 1861, at Colebrookdale; Emma W., born Oct. 29,1865, in Colebrookdale, Berks county, married W. M Staufer, and they reside in Lancaster county; Howard W born Sept. 27, 1869, at that place, married Anna Ratz and they live in Pottstown ; and Eli married a Miss Ida Moll, of Alburtis, Lehigh county.

John W. Gilbert attended public school in Berks an Montgomery counties and Perkiomen Seminary. At the age of nine years he engaged as a tender in a brick yard and this he followed during the summer months for three seasons. When twelve years of age he engaged at clerking in a general store at Forgedale and at Landis Store. He then clerked in his father's hotel for four years, during this time attending the Seminary. Later he taught school for two years, afterward engaging in the butchering business at East Greenville and Alburtis, still later going Philadelphia, where he was employed eleven years by W. L. Graver as traveling salesman. In 1890 Mr. Gilbert came to Reading. He was appointed steward at the Berks Count Alms House, where he remained about five years, and at the end of this time engaged in the men's furnishing good business on Fifth street. In 1897 the firm of Heffner Gilbert & Croll was established, commencing operations at No. 528 Penn street, which store they conducted until 1904, when, on account of their steadily increasing business and lack of room they removed to their present fine store formerly the J. C. Illig stand, and here carry one of the finest stocks of men's furnishings and clothing in Pennsylvania. They also have a custom tailoring department where the finest domestic and imported suitings are constantly kept on hand. A corps of cutters and first-class tailors are kept busy turning out some of the finest clothing in this section. The company employs ten clerks, and the building, which is 34 x 230 feet, is equipped with all modern improvements and appliances.

Mr. Gilbert was married in 1879 to Miss Amanda Sallade, daughter of Abraham Sallade, and two children were born to this union: Bertha and Helen, both of whom reside with their parents. In his political belief Mr. Gilbert is a Democrat. He is a member of Vaux Lodge, No. 406 F. & A. M., and of the K. G. E. 63-739, Gilbert, Milton Z.


p. 739


Milton Z. Gilbert, a worthy citizen living retired above Bechtelsville, in Washington township, Berks county was born on his father's farm in the same township Dec. 28, 1841, son of John and Sarah (Zoller) Gilbert.

The Gilberts have been a difficult family to trace. There were two Bernhard Gilberts, and the relationship existing between them is not known. Conrad and Bernhard Gilbert both took the oath of allegiance Sept. 23, 1760. Bernhard Gilbert, Sr., married Mary Elizabeth Meyer, and their son Bernhard, born 1766, married Susanna Hornetter. Bernhard and Susanna became the parents of four children: Henry, born 1791; Magdalena, born 1798; John born 1801 (sponsors: John Adam and Magdalena Gilbert); and George, born 1803 (sponsors: John and Elizabeth Gilbert).

Conrad Gilbert, on Jan. 27, 1761, bought from Ludwig Harring, of Douglass township, Montgomery county, a tract of twenty-three acres, situated partly in McCall's Manor. He was represented as a "taylor". Conrad Gilbert and his wife Anna Elizabeth had eight children, namely: Mary Magdalene, born 1758, m. George Orwig, son of Gottfried Orwig, a Revolutionary soldier; Catharine, born 1760; Anna Elizabeth, 1762; Andrew, 1764; John Peter, 1766; Anna Maria, 1770; Salome, 1772; Christina, 1775.

Bernhard Gilbert, grandfather of Milton Z., lived in Greenwich township, Berks county, to which place he had removed in his early manhood. Among his children were: John (Johannes); and Catharine, Mrs. Ginder, who lived in Rockland township.

John (Johannes) Gilbert was born in Greenwich township, about 1801, and died in January 1874. He came from New Hanover, Montgomery county, to Washington township, Berks county, where he became the owner of a farm now the property of his son, Milton Z. He built an addition to his house, and followed stocking weaving for many years. A great many sheep were raised in the neighborhood, and he wove the stockings from the wool. He was a Democrat, and for six years was assessor and tax collector, and was one of the well know men of his locality. He was active in the Lutheran church, and was a member of the building committee when the Hill church was built. He served as deacon and elder. The Hill church property had considerable woodland, and the wood was ordered cut, Mr. Gilbert being given charge of this work. He married Sarah Zoller, of New Hanover township, who survived him some time. Their children were: Aaron born 1825; Jesse, 1827; Hettie, 1829; Lydia, 1831; Levi Z., 1833; Lovina, 1835; Henry, 1837; William, 1839; Milton Z., 1841; Elizabeth, 1844; Catharine, 1849; and Mary Ann, 1850.

Milton Z. Gilbert was reared in farm work, and gave his services to his parents until he was twenty years old. After he left home he worked one year on the farm in Washington township, and one season on a farm in Chester county. In 1869 he went to Vermillion county, Ill., where he lived one season. He returned to Berks county the same year.

In 1869 Mr. Gilbert married Mary Cleaver, a daughter of Ephraim and Elizabeth (Gross) Cleaver, of Colebrookdale. She died April 30, 1874, in her twenty-sixth year. The three children of this union were: Ephraim, unmarried; Emeline, m. to John Smith, of Shanesville; and Horace, m. to Alice Fraunheiser, and farming the homestead. Mr. Gilbert m. (second) Oct. 28, 1876, Sarah B. Wolfgang, daughter of Michael and Rebecca (Bare) Wolfgang, of Colebrookdale. Mr. Gilbert has an old German Bible printed in 1743, which he obtained from his father, John (Johannes) Gilbert and this he prizes very highly.


p. 1592


John J. K. Gittelman, deceased, was for thirty-one years the popular proprietor of the "American House," formerly known as the "Cross Keys Hotel," in Spring township, Berks county, and an honored veteran of the Civil war. He was born in Lower Heidelberg township, this county, near Fritztown, Sept. 24, 1841, son of Michael and Sarah (Kleinginni) Guittelman, and died in May, 1909.

Henry Guittelman, the grandfather of John J. K., lived in Lower Heidelberg township from Revolutionary war times, and previously resided at what is now Germantown, Philadelphia, where his father, Dewalt Guittelman, had settled after coming to the New World from a town near Paris, France. Dewalt Guittelman had these children: Henry; Sarah, who married Daniel Gelsinger; Polly, who married Samuel Gelsinger (brother of Daniel); Barbara, who married Philip Fisher; Susanna, who married Daniel Fisher; Kate, who married Michael Fisher (brother of Daniel and Philip); Hannah, who married Michael Simon; and Elizabeth (Betsy), who died unmarried. It is a remarkable fact that all of Dewalt Guittelman's children died between the ages of seventy-five and ninety-two years. Henry Guittelman owned a small tract of land at the foot of Cushion Hill, in Lower Heidelberg township, where his death occurred. He married Catherine Fisher, and to them were born four children, namely: Michael, the father of John J. K.; Philip, who was farmer of Lower Heidelberg township; Henry, a blacksmith by trade, who lived in Ohio, New York and elsewhere (he had an accomplished daughter, who traveled extensively abroad); and Elizabeth, who married Abraham Schlott, of Lower Heidelberg township.

Michael Guittelman, the father of John J. K., was born in Lower Heidelberg township, Sept. 17, 1818, and passed to his reward July 16, 1896, at the age of nearly seventy-eight years. He was a miller by trade, and for thirty-eight years worked in the ore banks for the Clymers and Eckerts, well known ironmasters of the earlier days of Berks county. He owned a small farm at Fritztown, which is now owned by Andrew J. Levengood. Mr. Guittelman was buried at Sinking Spring, Pa. He was married twice, first to Sarah Kleinginni, daughter of John Adam Kleinginna (this name is also spelled Klineguinea), of Bern township; she is buried at Epler's Church. To this union there were born: Henry; John J. K.; and Sarah, who married Frank Oxenreider.

Picture of John K. GittelmanJohn J. K. Gittelman was educated in the schools of Bern and Lower Heidelberg townships, and in the great University of Nature, under the rising and setting sun. He was engaged at farm work in Lancaster county until eighteen years of age, when he learned the trade of blacksmith at Blainsport, Pa., and this he followed for a period of twenty-two years. Upon the outbreak and continuance of the Civil war, young Gittelman's enthusiasm was aroused and his patriotism fired, and on Oct. 19, 1862, he enlisted, becoming corporal of Company E. 17th Pa. Vol. Cav., 2d Brigade, 1st Division, Army of the Potomac. With a snare drum he paraded the town and succeeded in getting four others to go to the front: Martin Reinhold, who was killed at Smithfield; Henry McQuate, who was killed at Shepherdstown; Jeremiah Mumah, who was killed at Five Forks; and J. B. Flickinger, also killed at Five Forks. Mr. Gittelman was thus the only one of the five who went from the town to return home. In time he became farrier of the regiment, which participated in numerous engagements, being engaged part of the time in some battles and throughout other engagements. The list of battles is as follows: 1862 - Occoquan Creek, Dec. 19; Dumfried, Dec. 27; near Occoquan Creek, Dec. 28; 1863 - Kelly's Ford, April 28; Rapidan River, April 29; Chancellorsville, May 1, 2 and 3; Beverly Ford, June 9; Stevensburg, June 9; Brandy Station, June 9; Aldie, June 16; Upperville, June 21; Ashby's Gap, June 21; Middleburg, June 21; Goose Creek, June 22; Gettysburg, July 1 and 2; Smithsburg, July 4; Williamsport, July 6; Funkstown, July 8; Boonsboro, July 9; Beaver Creek, July 8; Falling Waters, July 14; Brandy Station, Aug. 1; Raccoon Ford, Sept. 14; Robertson Ford, Sept. 19; Barnetts Ford, Sept. 24; Mortons Ford, Oct 11; Stevensburg, Oct. 11; Brandy Station, Oct. 11; Rappahannock Station, Oct. 12; Hunters Ford, Oct. 13; Rapidan River, Oct. 17; Oak Hill, Oct. 13; Thoroughfare Gap, Oct. 20; Liberty, Oct. 24; Bealton Station, Oct. 28 to 30; Ricksville, Nov. 8; Mine Run, Nov. 29, Dec. 30; 1864-Barnett's Ford, Feb. 5; Kilpatrick's Raid, Feb. 27 to March 15; Beaver Dam Station, Feb. 28; Taylorsville, Feb. 29; Ashland, March 1; Atlees Cross Road, March 2; Tunsdall Station, March 3; Wilderness, May 4; Furnace, May 6; Todds Tavern, May 7; Spottsylvania Court House, May 12; Glen Allen Station, May 10; Yellow Tavern, May 11; Meadow Bridge, May 12; New Castle Ferry, May 26; Hanoverton, May 27; Hawes Shop, May 28; Topotomy Creek, May 29; Old Church Tavern, May 30; Cold Harbor, May 31, June 1; Trevillian Raid, June 7 to 24; Trevillian Station, June 11 and 12; Whitehouse Landing, June 21; Jones Bridge, June 23; Charles City Court House, June 24; Deep Bottom, July 27 and 28; Darbytown, July 29; Berryville, Aug. 10; Newtown, Aug. 11; White Post, Aug. 11; Cedarville, Aug. 15; Front Royal, Aug. 16; Berryville, Aug. 22; near Charlestown, Aug. 21; Kearneysville and Shepherdstown, Aug. 25; Leetown, Aug. 28; Smithfield, Aug. 29; White Post, Sept. 1; Berryville, Sept. 6; Opequan Creek, Sept. 7; Bunker Hill, Sept. 13; Winchester, Sept. 19; Luray, Sept. 24; Smithfield, Sept. 29; Tom's Brook, Oct. 9; Newtown, Oct. 11; Cedar Creek, Oct. 19; White Post, Dec. 22; Gordonsville Raid, Dec. 22; Madison Court House, Dec. 23; 1865-Sheridan's Raid, James River, Feb. 28 to March 26; Dinwiddie Court House, March 30; Stony Creek, March 31; Five Forks, April 1; Scotts Cross Roads, April 2; Drummons Mill, April 4; Saylors Creek, April 6; Appomattox Station, April 8; Appomattox Court House, April 9. A number of minor engagements are not included in this list.

During his long and faithful service for his country Mr. Gittelman proved himself time and time again to be a brave and efficient soldier, and that he gained the respect of his officers may be seen from the following letters in his possession:

"Headquarters Company E, 17th Pa. Cav., June 13, 1865. "I certify on honor that John J. K. Gittelman, Farrier, Co. E, 17th Pa. Cav., was Detailed upon Extra Duty in the Q. M. Dept. May 25, 1863, by proper Authority through the Hd. Qrs. Of the 17th Pa. Cav. And has been mustered and paid according to the above named ranks, without any allowances for Extra Duty, upon Company Muster and Pay Rolls." "William Tice, Captain."

"Office Act'g Chief Qr. Master, 2nd Brig., "1st Cav. Division, June 14, 1865. "The bearer, John J. K. Gittelman, a member of Company E, 17th Pa. Cavalry, has for the past two years served as a blacksmith in this Department and during that time has performed his duties well and given entire satisfaction, and I take pleasure in recommending him to be a good Blacksmith and a faithful, trustworthy man. "J. B. Wheeler, "Capt. And Act'g Chief Qr. Master"

After his return from the war Mr. Gittelman worked on the farm for a short time, and then engaged in blacksmithing, which he followed until 1878. In that year he became proprietor of the hotel at Montello, Pa., which he had purchased form the John Haas estate in 1876, and which is one of the oldest hotel stands in Berks county. It is known that it was a licensed place as early as 1824, and some of the older residents claim that it was licensed even as early as 1814. Mr. Gittelman rebuilt the hotel, which is located two miles form Sinking Spring on the road leading from Reading to Lancaster, and made it one of the best known and most popular hostelries in this section of the county. Under his management the house was well kept and noted particularly for cleanliness.

In political matters Mr. Gittelman was a Democrat, and he rendered valuable services to his party and to his township, serving as auditor for about fifteen years. He was very prominently identified with fraternal associations in Pennsylvania, being a member of Lodge No. 62, F. & A. M., of Reading, with which he was identified from 1884; Reading Royal Arch Chapter, No. 152, and Reading Commandery, No. 42, K. T. He was also a member (charter) of Wernersville Lodge, No. 538, I. O. O. F., and Knights of Pythias Lodge No. 155, at Sinking Spring, of which he was also a charter member. In this old lodge he passed through the chairs of the subordinate lodge five times, was district deputy grand chancellor four years, and was also a member of Castle No. 37, D. O. K. K., the social body of the order. He was well known in K. P. circles throughout Berks county. He was a member of St. John's Reformed Church, of Sinking Spring, of which he was a deacon in 1876, and after that time an elder. He had a fine lot in the new cemetery.

On Jan. 6, 1866, Mr. Gittelman was married to Catherine Houser, born March 20, 1838. They had no children of their own, but an adopted daughter, Mary Schlott, came into the family when seventeen years of age, in 1889. She is married and has a family, but still lives at the home of her adopted parents.

Last Modified Thursday, 16-Oct-2008 20:54:13 EDT

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