Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals by Morton Montgomery


p. 334


General David McMurtrie Gregg, one of the most distinguished and widely known residents of the city of Reading, occupies an enviable place in the esteem of the people of the county and State as one of the best and most efficient officers from Pennsylvania in the Civil War. Educated at West Point and trained by actual experience in the United States regular army for a number of years, he was fully prepared to perform his part in preserving the Union. And in thus acting the part of a patriotic son of the nation, he rose to a high rank, creditable alike to his early training and his natural ability as a director and leader of men. General Gregg served during the entire war, and won promotion after promotion being finally breveted Major General U. S. Volunteers, Aug. 1, 1864.

General Gregg was born in Huntingdon, Pa., April 10, 1833, son of Matthew Duncan and Ellen (McMurtrie) Gregg. On both sides of the house he comes of ancestors of whose records in civil and military life he may well be proud. The Gregg, Potter, McMurtrie and Elliott families, from whom General Gregg is directly descended, all settled in the colony of Pennsylvania at a very early date, and had much to do with the development and improvement of the Keystone State. The first Gregg ancestor of whom there is any sure knowledge was David Gregg, who was born at Ayrshire, Scotland, about 1630. He was a Captain in Cromwell's army in 1655, and was within the walls of Londonderry during the great siege of 1688-89 as a faithful supporter of the Prince of Orange, William III., against the exiled King of England, James II. Both David and his son John, who was born near Londonderry in 1665, were killed by a party of Roman Catholics in one of the conflicts that were constantly occurring between the Orangemen and the Romanists in the North of Ireland.

John Gregg's two sons, David and Andrew, and their sister Rachel, Mrs. Solomon Walker, and her husband, came to America in 1726, first settling in New Hampshire, where David remained. Andrew and Mr. Walker, becoming dissatisfied, left there and landing at Newcastle, Del., finally located on a tract at Chestnut Level, Lancaster county, Pa. In 1748, he purchased and moved to a plantation near Carlisle, where he remained until his I death, that event occurring in 1789. His first wife having died at Chestnut Level, leaving six children, he married Jean Scott (1725-1783). To the second union were born Andrew and Matthew.

Andrew Gregg, grandfather of General Gregg, was born June 10, 1755, near. Carlisle, Pa., and died May 30, 1835, at Bellefonte, Pa. He received his early training at Rev. John Steel's Latin school in Carlisle, and completed his education at Newark, Del. While a resident of that place he served a considerable period in the militia of the Revolution. In 1779, he accepted a tutorship in a college, now the University of Pennsylvania. In 1787 he married Martha Potter, daughter of General James Potter, and in 1789 removed to Penn's Valley, Center county. In 1791, he was elected to the Lower House of Congress, and remained a member until 1807, when he was chosen United States Senator, his term of office ending in 1813. In 1826, he was appointed Secretary of the State of Pennsylvania by Gov. Joseph Hiester, and in 1823 he was nominated for Governor on the Federal ticket in opposition to John Andrew Shulze, but was defeated in the ensuing election. There were born to Andrew Gregg and wife, Martha Potter, ten children, as follows: Mary married William McLanahan; Jean m. Roland Curtin (of their children, Andrew Curtin was the war Governor of Pennsylvania); Martha m. Dr. Constans Curtin, brother of Roland; Eliza m. David Mitchell; Juliana m. General James Irvin; Andrew m. Margaret Irvin, sister of General Irvin; James P. m. Eliza Wilson; Matthew Duncan, Gen. Gregg's father, m. Ellen McMurtrie; Sarah m. Henry Kinney; and Margery m. Rev. Charles Tucker. The mother of this large and illustrious family, Martha (Potter) Gregg, was born April 10, 1769, and died Aug. 20, 1815.

John Potter, grandfather of Martha (Potter) Gregg, emigrated from County Tyrone, Ireland, in 1741, being accompanied by his sister Isabella, and her husband John Hamilton. They landed in Newcastle, Del., in September, 1741. In 1746, Mr. Potter settled in Antrim township, Franklin county, Pa., near the village of Greencastle. He was the first sheriff of Cumberland county. In September, 1756, he became a Captain in Lieutenant Colonel Arm-strong's expedition against Kittanning. The date of his death is unknown. His wife died in 1778. Of their eight children, James was born on the bank of the Fovie, Tyrone, Ireland, in 1729, and came to America with his father in 1741. On Feb. 17, 1756, he was commissioned ensign in his father's company, Lieut. Armstrong's Battalion, and served in the Kittanning expedition, in which campaign he was wounded. He was promoted to the position of Captain Feb. 17, 1759, and commanded three companies on the northern frontiers. Captain Potter removed to Sunbury in 1768, In 1775 occurred the stirring events of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill, which aroused every patriotic son of Pennsylvania, and hurried them into a conflict which finally resulted in the recognition of American Independence. Captain Potter was among the first to offer his services for the struggle then so doubtful, and on Jan. 24, 1776, he was elected Colonel of the Upper Battalion, and in July of that year he became a member of the Constitutional convention. He was in command of Battalion of Northumberland County militia in the battle of Trenton, Dec. 26, 1776, and at Princeton Jan. 3, 1777; and on April 5, 1777, was appointed third Brigadier General of the militia of the State, commanded a brigade at Brandywine and Germantown, and served in the outposts at Valley Forge. In 1780, when residing at Middle Creek, Snyder county, he became a member of the State council, and on Nov. 14, 1781, was elected Vice President of Pennsylvania. He was unanimously elected Major Gen-eral May 23, 1782, and in 1784 was elected a member of the council of Censors.

General James Potter first married Elizabeth Cathcart. His second wife was Mrs. Mary Chambers, daughter of James and Mary Patterson. Mary Patterson, whose maiden name was Stewart, was a granddaughter of George Stew-art, who settled in Conestoga township, Chester county, in 1717. To General Potter and his wife Mary were born three daughters and one son; of this family Martha became the wife of Andrew Gregg, and was the grand-mother of General David McM. Gregg. At his death General Potter possessed an immense landed estate in Penn's Valley, Center county.

Matthew Duncan Gregg was born April 5, 1804, in Penn's Valley, Center county, and fitted himself for the legal profession, being admitted to the Bar at Huntingdon in 1825. In 1828, he was united in marriage with Ellen McMurtrie, daughter of David and Martha (Elliott) McMurtrie, of Huntingdon. From that place he moved first to Pine Grove Mills, Center county, and in 1838 took up his residence in Bellefonte, where he engaged in the iron business. In 1845, in connection with his brother James P., and his brother-in-law David Mitchell, he purchased the Potomac Furnace, in Loudoun county, Va. Nine children were born to the union of Matthew D. Gregg and Ellen McMurtrie, as follows: Martha, born May 28, 1829, m. Richard R. Bryan; Andrew, born May 28, 1831; Gen. David; Mary, born Aug. 20, 1834, m. G. Dorsey Green; Ellen, born Dec. 24, 1836; George, born Feb. 10, 1838; Henry H., born March 19, 1840, m. Rose Mitchell; Thomas I., born Oct. 8, 1842, m. Bessie D. McKnight; and Olitipa, born Aug. 10, 1844, died Dec. 28, 1848. On July 25, 1845, Matthew Duncan Gregg died, and in August of the same year occurred the death of his brother, James P., both being buried in a churchyard between Leesburg and Point of Rocks, Va. Ellen Gregg, the mother, died at Bedford, Aug. 17, 1847, and is buried at Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.

David McMurtrie, Ellen McM. Gregg's grandfather, was born at Ayr, Scotland, about 1709, and came to America in 1735, settling in Philadelphia, where he en-gaged in selling merchandise. On March 18, 1754, he married Margery Fisher at Cooper's Ferry, now a part of Philadelphia, and his children were as follows: William, born May 15, 1757; David, Jan. 14, 1764; Charles, July 21, 1766; and James, Dec. 16, 1768. Just before the Revolution David McMurtrie moved to Bedford, now Huntingdon county, and began the improvement of large tracts of land owned by him on Shaver's creek and in the town of Huntingdon. He died in 1782.

David McMurtrie, the son of the above mentioned pioneer, was born in Philadelphia and went to Hunting-don with his father, where he became a merchant carrying on his business first in Huntingdon, then in Peters-burg, and again in Huntingdon. He was a member of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania in 1802. He married Martha Elliott, daughter of Benjamin and Mary (Carpen-ter) Elliott, and they had the following children: James E.; Anna m. (first) Ed. Patton, (second) Thomas Jack-son; Mary m. James Gwin; Ellen, born Jan. 3, 1802, m. Matthew D. Gregg, and died Aug. 17, 1847; David m. Martha McConnell; Benjamin E. (first) m. Sarah H. Orbison, and (second) Mrs. Ellen Patton Dorsey; Mar-gery; Robert Allison m. (first) Sarah Briscoe, (second) Mrs. Maria Dennison; Martha m. James McCahen; and William m. Margaret Whittaker.

Robert Elliott, great-grandfather of General D. McM. Gregg's mother, through Martha Elliott McMurtrie, was born prior to 1730, but it is uncertain whether his birth- place was in America or Ireland. His home was in Peters township, Cumberland (formerly Lancaster) county. He was twice married, the issue of his first marriage being two sons: Benjamin and George and his two daughters: Barbara and Jane. Benjamin Elliott was born in 1752, in Peters township, Cumberland (now Franklin) county, and became a resident of Huntingdon in 1775. When but twenty-four years of age, he was elected one of the delegates from Bedford county, Huntingdon being then in that county, to the convention, which met July 15, 1776, at Carpenters Hall, Philadelphia, for the purpose of framing the first constitution of the Common-wealth of Pennsylvania. He was sheriff of Bedford county in 1784-85, and became the first sheriff of Huntingdon county in 1787. In that year he was also elected a delegate from Huntingdon county to the Pennsylvania convention which ratified the Federal constitution. He was elected a member of the Supreme Executive Council from Huntingdon county, Oct. 31, 1789, and served until Dec. 20, 1790, when the Council's term of office expired by reason of the election of Governor Mifflin. He held several county offices in Huntingdon county, including that of Associate judge. He died in Huntingdon, March 15, 1835, and was laid to rest in Fairview cemetery. He was thrice married. His first wife was Mary Carpenter, daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth (Herr) Carpenter, and a granddaughter of Heinrich Zimmerman, who was born in Switzerland, in 1675, and who made his first trip to America in 1698, returning to his native place in 1700. This gentleman married Salome Ruffner. Being a physician, he practiced his profession until 1706, when having engaged in a conspiracy against the government he was compelled to flee the country for safety. He accordingly came to America, where he settled in Germantown. In 1710, he began to acquire lands in Lancaster county, and in 1717, he moved there. He died about 1750, leaving a large estate to his heirs. Benjamin Elliott and his wife Mary had three children, namely: Martha, born in 1779, m. David McMurtrie, and died in 1841; Mary, born in 1781, m. Robert Allison; and James prepared for the legal profession, but died young and unmarried. Benjamin Elliott's second wife was Sarah Ashman, and his third Susan Haines.

General Gregg spent his earlier boyhood with his father's family in Bellefonte, Harrisburg and Hollidays-burg. In April, 1845, the family removed to Potomac Furnace, Loudoun county, Va. When, in the following Ju-ly, the father died, the widowed mother, with her nine children returned to Hollidaysburg; her death occurred at Bed-ford in August, 1847. David then became a member of the family of his uncle, David McMurtrie, living in Huntingdon, and for two years attended the school of that excellent teacher, Mr. John A. Hall. From this school he went to Milnwood Academy, in the lower end of Huntingdon county, and a year later joined his elder brother Andrew at the University at Lewisburg. While at the University be received an appointment as cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point. which he entered July 1, 1851. He graduated in June, 1855, standing eighth in a class of thirty-four members; among, his classmates being Generals Averill, Webb, Rug-gles and Comstock, all prominent officers in the Union Army in the War of the Rebellion, and General Nichols, of the Confederate army. He became Second Lieutenant of Dragoons, July 1, 1855, and served in garrison at Jef-ferson Barracks, Mo., in 1855-56, being commissioned Second Lieutenant of First Dragoons, Sept. 4, 1855. In 1856, he was assigned to frontier duty in the West and on the Pacific coast, and remained there until the outbreak of the Civil War recalled him to the East. He was stationed at Fort Union, New Mexico, in 1856, took part in the march to California in the same year; was at Fort Tejon, Colo., in 1856-57; Fort Vancouver, Wash., in 1857-58; and at Fort Walla Walla, Wash., in 1858. He took part in the Spokane expedition of 1858, being en-gaged in a desperate combat with the Indians at To-holsnimme, Wash., May 17,1858; was present at the combat of Four Lakes, Wash., Sept. 1, 1858; and skirmish on Spo-kane river Sept. 8, 1858. He was on frontier duty at Fort Walla Walla, in 1859; at Fort Dallas, Oregon, 1859-60; was scouting against the Snake Indians in 1860, being engaged in a skirmish near Hamoy Lake, Oregon, May 24, 1860. The winter of 1860-61 was spent in duty on the Warm Spring reservation.

General Gregg became first Lieutenant of the First Dragoons on March 21, 1861, and was made Captain in the Sixth Cavalry on May 14, 1861. During the first months of the war he saw duty in the defenses of Washington, D. C., and throughout the remainder of the war was connected with the Army of the Potomac. From Oct. 12, 1861, till January, 1862, he was on sick leave. He became Colonel of the Eighth Regiment, Pa. Vol. Cavalry, Jan. 24, 1862, and took part in the Virginia Peninsular campaign. He was engaged in the battles of Seven Pines and Fair Oaks, May 31 and June 1, 1862, skirmishes at New Kent Courthouse, Savage Station, Bottom's Bridge, and White Oak Swamp, June, 1862, battle of Glendale, June 30, 1862, Malvern Hill, July 1, 1862, and covering the movement from Harrison's Landing to Yorktown, August, 1862. He was in the Maryland campaign of the Army of the Potomac, which extended from September to November, 1862, being engaged in several skirmishes on the march to Falmouth, Va., in October and Novem-ber. On Nov. 29, 1862, General Gregg was commissioned Brigadier General U. S. Volunteers. From December 1862 to June 1863, he commanded a Division of Cavalry, being engaged in the skirmish at Rappahannock bridge, April 4, 1863, and "Stoneman's Raid" toward Richmond, April 13 to May 2, 1863. The Pennsylvania campaign of the Army of the Potomac was participated in by General Gregg still as a division cavalry commander; he was engaged in the combat of Brandy Station, June 9, 1863, skirmish at Aldie, June 17, Middleburg, June 19, Upperville, June 21, and the battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 2 and 3. He was in the skirmish at Shepherdstown, July 16, and took part in the pursuit of the Confederates to Warrenton, Va., closing the campaign in the latter days of that busy month.

Central Virginia then became the scene of operations for the Army of the Potomac, and General Gregg there participated in the action at Rapidan Station, Sept. 14, Bever-ly Ford, Oct. 12, Auburn, Oct. 14, and New Hope Church, Nov. 27, 1863. From March 26 to April 6, 1864, General Gregg was in command of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac, and in the Richmond campaign from April 6, 1864, to Feb. 3, 1865, was in command of the. Second Cavalry Division of the Army of the Potomac, being engaged in the skirmishes at Todd's Tavern May 5-7, 1864, where he was in command, Ground Squirrel Church May 11, combat at Meadow Bridge May 12, battle of Haws Shop May 28, skirmish of Gaines House June 2, battle of Trevillian Station June 11, action of St. Mary's Church June 24, where he was in command, skirmish at Warwick Swamp July 12, combat of Darbytown July 28, skirmish at Lee's Mills July 30, 1864. On Aug. 1, 1864, General Gregg came into command of the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac, being brevetted on that date Major General U. S. Volunteers, for "highly meritorious and distinguished conduct throughout the campaign, particularly in the Reconnaissance on the Charles City road." On Aug. 17, 1864, he was in the action at Deep Bottom, skirmishes and battle of Ream's Station Aug. 23-25, combat of Peebles' Farm Sept. 29 and 30, of the Vaughan Road Oct. 1, Where he was in command, the battle of Boydton Plank Road Oct. 27, destruction of Stony Creek Station Dec. 1, and skirmish at Bellefield Dec. 9, 1864, which terminated General Gregg's active work in the army. He resigned from the service Feb. 3, 1865.

General Gregg's brothers, Henry H. and Thomas I., were both in the Union army and served three years, the former as Captain in the 125th Pa. V. I., and as Major in the 13th Pa. V. C., the latter as Lieutenant in the 6th Pa. V. C., and as Aide-de-camp on his brother's staff.

In February, 1874, President Grant appointed General Gregg U. S. Consul at Prague, Bohemia, which position he resigned and returned to Reading in the following August, where he has since made his home. In 1891, he was nominated by the Republican party as its candidate for Auditor General of Pennsylvania, was elected, and made a splendid record in his three years of service. He was elected Commander of the Pennsylvania Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States in 1886, and was continued in office by successive elections every year until 1904, when he was elected Commander-in-Chief of the Order. He is President of the Board of Directors of the Charles Evans Cemetery Company of Reading, and is a member of the Board of Trus-tees of the State Lunatic Hospital at Harrisburg. General Gregg has the right to append LL D. to his name, that honor having been conferred on him by the Pennsylvania Military College, at Chester, Pennsylvania.

On Oct. 6, 1862, General Gregg married Ellen F. Sheaff of Reading, a great-granddaughter of Frederick A. Muhlen-berg, and also of Gov. Joseph Hiester. They have two sons, namely: George Sheaff and David McMurtrie.

Thus is presented in measurably full detail the career of one of the most noted of Reading's citizens, belonging to Reading first, but in a larger and better sense to the State and nation. With a glorious record of duty faith-fully done, General Gregg is serenely passing the evening of life amid the scenes of its former activities, and is showered on every side with the plaudits of a grateful people.


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George Robert Gregory, register of wills of Berks county, Pa., is a representative of the sixth generation of the Gregory family in America. He was born in Hereford township, Dec. 19, 1869, son of Nathaniel and Matilda (Wiegner) Gregory.

(I) As far as can be ascertained, the first of the Gregory family to come to America was Richard Gregory, who settled in Hereford township, Berks county, Pa., possibly as early as 1725. He died in 1765. He was the father of fifteen children: John, Richard, David, Andrew, Jacob, George, Christian, Mrs. Mary Jones, Mrs. Elizabeth Mack, Mrs. Judith Rhoads, Mrs. Anna Betty, Mrs. Margretha Foige (who settled in Longswamp township), Mrs. Elizabeth Kurtz, Sarah and Hannah. In 1759 among the taxables in Hereford township were Richard Gregory, Sr. (15), Richard Gregory, Jr. (6) and John Gregory (12).

(II) Jacob Gregory, son of Richard the pioneer, married Catharine Gehris, of Hereford township, daughter of Jacob Gehris (the executors of whose will were Peter Hauk of Allentown, and Peter Gehris of Hereford township). They went to North Carolina, where they were living when he received the legacy of his father Richard in 1782 (the father's estate apparently was not finally settled until 1782 when the release was filed in the Recorder's office at Reading). He later removed to Green township, Columbiana county, Ohio, and was there living when he inherited property from his father-in-law Jacob Gehris, in 1822.

(II) John Gregory, eldest son of Richard, died in 1784. He was a Captain in the French and Indian War. His children were: John, Peter, Richard (resided in Longswamp township, and had a son John), Mary (m. John Swartz), Mrs. Christina Finch, Susannah (died unmarried in 1808, and her brother John administered her estate), Elizabeth and Nancy.

(III) John Gregory, son of John, was born Sept. 16, 1751, and died Dec. 24, 1835. His wife, Maria Elizabeth, was born June 6, 1753, and died Aug. 6, 1837. Their children were: Philip (settled in Erie county, Pa.), Peter, Samuel (born Dec. 26, 1790, and died unmarried in Hereford township, Jan. 18, 1866), Richard, Robert (born March 31, 1795, died April 29, 1877, married Catharine Wiand, born Jan. 6, 1804, died Nov. 19, 1887), David (of Monroe county, Pa.), Catharine (Mrs. Conrad Weinman, of Erie county, Pa.), Elizabeth (Mrs. Jacob Gery), Judith (Mrs. Henry Mester) and Lydia (1801-1851). Letters on the estate of Lydia Gregory, a single woman, late of the township of Hereford, Berks Co., Pa., were granted to her brother Samuel in 1851. In 1790 in Hereford township, there is record of a Jacob and a John Gregory, both heads of families.

(IV) Peter Gregory, son of John, died in 1852, the father of John, Henry, and Anna Margaret.

(IV) Richard Gregory, son of John, was born in Hereford township Berks county, but settled in Chestnuthill township, Monroe county, Pa. He became the father of four sons and two daughters: (1) Thomas. (2) Cornelius resided in Iowa county, Wis., at the time he inherited a legacy from his uncle Samuel Gregory in 1869. (3) John Gregory was living in Chestnuthill township, Monroe county, at the time he inherited from his uncle Samuel in 1869. (4) Samuel lived in Burlington, Des Moines Co., Iowa, when he received the legacy from his uncle Samuel in 1869. (5) Susanna married Reuben Henry, and died the mother of Mary Jane, Annetta, Alfred, of whom Mary Jane married Emanuel Arnold. All of these resided in Monroe county, Pa., and all received from the estate of Samuel Gregory. (6) Clara died leaving no children.

(IV) Robert Gregory, son of John and Maria Elizabeth, was born March 31, 1795, and he died at 11:00 a.m., April 29, 1877. He married Catharine Wiand, who was born Jan. 6, 1804, and who died Nov. 19, 1887. Their children were: William, who left no issue; Nathaniel; Lydia, Mrs. Seip, who died leaving a son, Edward G., now of Longswamp township, Berks county; and Sarah, Mrs. John M. Snyder, of Upper Milford township, Lehigh county, whose children were-Allen, Jacob, and Katie (Mrs. Yoder).

(V) Nathaniel Gregory, son of Robert, was born in Hereford township, April 1, 1838. He was reared to farming and followed it for many years. About 1880 he engaged in the hotel business at Harlem, and in this he has since continued. His stand was formerly known as "Gery's Hotel," and the village was called Perryville. In politics he was a Democrat, and for many years he served as school director. He was a delegate to many county conventions, and he has always been actively interested in his party's success. He is a member of the Reformed congregation at Huff's Church, and has been both deacon and elder. Since the institution of Harlem Castle, K. G, E., at Harlem, he has been keeper of the Exchequer. His wife, Matilda Wiegner, was born April 7, 1836, daughter of George Wiegner, of Hereford township, who owned the old historic Wiegner's Mill on the Perkiomen. Their children were: (1) George Robert. (2) Eugene Harvey m. Lizzie Gery. No children. (3) Howard William m. Mary Rauch, and has two children, Annie and Elsie. (4) Diana m. Adam Seisholtz, and had children, Calvin, Herbert, Annie, Mamie, Gertie and Florence.

(VI) George Robert Gregory received his early education in the public schools of his native district, and later attended the Normal School at Kutztown, graduating therefrom in 1892. When eighteen years old he began teaching in the public schools of Pike township, his first certificate being granted by Prof. D. S. Keck. He taught in all nine terms, eight of which were in Hereford township. Since he was nineteen Mr. Gregory has taken a great interest in Democratic politics. For four years he served as committeeman from Hereford township, and he has been delegate to a number of county conventions. In 1896 he was made assistant clerk in the county commissioner's office, a position he ably filled three years. He then became a clerk in the office of the Register of Wills, Levi S. Mabry (1899-1901), and at the end of two years was appointed deputy register, serving one year more under Mr. Mabry. He continued to fill that office under the administrations of William R. Kemmerer (1902-1904) and also under Wilson M. Dumn (1905-1908), when Mr. Gregory became Register of Wills himself, having been elected by the remarkable primary vote of 8,011, and general election vote of 16,024. His long service as deputy fitted him for his position, and he is a very obliging and able official. He resided in the Twelfth ward of Reading from 1902 until the fall of 1908, when he purchased his handsome residence No. 1634 Mineral Spring Road in the Sixteenth ward.

Mr. Gregory has been connected with a number of secret societies. At the present time he is Worshipful Master of St. John's Lodge, No. 435, F. & A. M.; member of Reading Lodge of Perfection 14th degree; Oley Lodge, No. 218, I. O. O. F., in which he is Past Grand; East Greenville Lodge, No. 232, K. of P.; Cashmere Temple, No. 37, D. O. K. of K.; Court Victory, No. 123, Foresters of America; Harlem Castle, No. 335, K. G. E., in which he is past chief; and Mt. Penn Commandery, uniformed rank, K. G. E. In the Eagles he has been District Grand Chief of District No. 2, since 1905, and has also served as Second Grand Guardsman. He is one of the few men in the Order who have committed the entire Ritual, and he has taken an active interest in everything that tended toward increasing the membership and the finances.

Mr. Gregory married June 13, 1901, Sallie A. Rothenberger, and they have had three children: Homer L., George W. and Matilda R., the last named dying Dec. 22, 1907.


p. 1481

Surnames: GREISS, RAUCH, FRY, GANGLER, KEHS, YEAKEL, MOYER, FENSTERMACHER, GEHRIS, SELL, WEND, EVANS, ROTHENBERGER, GERY, MILLER, MENSCH Jacob F. Greiss, school teacher of Hereford township, Berks county, was born on his father's farm in Hereford Jan. 4, 1879, son of Jacob, grandson of George and great-grandson of Jacob Greiss.

Jacob Greiss, the great-grandfather, was a charcoal burner and laborer in Hereford township, living between Perryville (now Harlem) and the Devil's Hole. In his later years he moved to District township, where he died during the fifties. He and his wife are buried in unmarked graves at Huff's Church. Her maiden name was Rauch, and they were the parents of ten children, namely: Peter lived in Hereford; his wife was a Fry, and they had children-David, Henry, Adam, Elizabeth, who married John Gangler, and Lucinda, who married Samuel Kehs. George is mentioned later. Philip, who married a Yeakel, was a laborer in Upper Milford township, Lehigh Co., Pa. David lived in the Blue Mountains, where he was engaged as a charcoal burner. John (1817-1902) lived in District township, where he had his own home and worked as a laborer; he married Sallie Moyer (1820-1905) and they are buried at Huff's Church. Polly married a man named Fenstermacher, and lived in Longswamp township, where he kept a hotel know as "Grinders Hotel," near Topton. Peggy never married. Catharine married Abraham Gehris, and they lived in Hereford, where he was a laborer; they are buried at Huff's Church. Barbara (Bevvy) married Benjamin Sell and lived in Longswamp township. There was another daughter named Elizabeth (Betzy).

George Greiss, son of Jacob, was a weaver and wove all kinds of linens. He owned his own home and eight acres of land, on which property his shop was located. He married Sarah Gehris, and they lived in Longswamp township, but they are buried at Huff's Church, in Hereford township. They were the parents of several children, as follows: Jacob, who is mentioned later; Philip, who was a tailor at Womelsdorf, Berks county; George, who lived at Alburtis, Pa.; Peter, a blacksmith in Hereford, who married a Catholic woman and himself became a Catholic (he was the father of Jermanius and James, the latter of Pottstown); Daniel, who settled out West, and died there; Sarah, who married Henry Wend; and John, who lived in the State of Delaware and who married Mary Jane, daughter of Capt. J. and Sarah Evans (she is buried at Huff's Church).

Jacob Greiss, son of George, was born March 7, 1837, in Longswamp township, Berks county, and died in Hereford township Jan. 26, 1905, aged sixty-seven years, ten months, nineteen days. He and his wife are buried at Huff's Church. In his earlier years he worked at the ore mines around Siesholtzville, and later farmed in Hereford township for some years, after which he followed the carpenter's trade during the summer months and in winter did butchering among the farmers in his locality. For many years he lived near Sigmund, in Hereford township, where he owned a tract of forty-five acres which he cultivated in addition to his other work. He married Mary Rothenberger, daughter of Reuben Rothenberger, born June 13, 1842, died April 9, 1890, in her forty-eighth year. Their children were: Emma L., who married William L. Gery, of Siesholtzville; Lizzie J., who married Wilson Miller and died at the age of thirty-two years; and Jacob F. Mr. Greiss and his family were Reformed members of Huff's Church. He was a Democrat in politics. Benjamin Sell Jacob F. Greiss spent his boyhood days under the parental roof, and his early intellectual training was obtained in the public schools of his native township. In the spring of 1895 he began attending the State Normal School at Kutztown, and the following year took a course in the Perkiomen Seminary at Pennsburg, Pa. In the winter of 1897-98 he returned to the Normal School, where he continued his studies until he was graduated, with the class of 1900. In the fall of that year he began teaching in his home township, being engaged during the terms of 1900-01, 1901-02 and 1902-03 in the home school at Siesholtzville; the following two terms he was at the Traub school, and since the fall of 1906 he has been the teacher at Huff's Church, in Hereford township. In 1902 he was granted the State master diploma. His excellent work as an instructor is best evidenced in his long continuance in the one neighborhood, where he has the respect and confidence of all who know him.

In 1900, Mr. Greiss married Miss Lizzie Mensch, daughter of Adam Mensch, who has conducted the Mensch Mill in Hereford township for many years. Three children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Greiss: Lloyd A., Lola M. and Leon J. The family occupy a neat home in Siesholtzville which Mr. Greiss owns. They are members of the Reformed congregation of Huff's Union Church, and Mr. Greiss is active in the Sunday-school of that congregation. He was long a pupil in the Sunday-school, then teacher, and since 1906 has been serving as superintendent. In political faith he is a Democrat, and in the spring of 1906 he was elected to the office of township auditor, in which he is still serving.


p. 1369


James B. Gresh, justice of the peace and real estate agent at Little Oley, Douglass township, Berks county, was born on the Henry Gresh homestead, July 24, 1867, son of Urias F. and Rebecca (Baker) Gresh.

Johann Georg Gresch (to use the old spelling of the name) was the founder of the family in this country. He was born in Germany, Oct. 18, 1724, and was twenty-five years of age, when in 1749 he came to America, and shortly after he located in Douglass township, Berks Co., Pa. He was a farmer, and it is likely that he was unmarried when he came to this country. He died Oct. 29, 1788, and both he and his wife Esther, born Sept. 22, 1738, died Jan 31, 1827, are buried in the Fritz burying ground near Little Oley, where also sleep many other members of the family. They had sons: Georg, Johann Adam and Nicholas.

The village of Greshville perpetuates the name. It is located in Douglass township, and was named after Johann Adam Gresch, son of the pioneer. The postoffice was established in 1853, and was continued for fifty years.

Johann Adam Gresch, son of the emigrant Johann Georg, was born in Douglass township, March 19, 1778, and died May 28, 1831. He was a prominent business man in the very early days of Douglass township, having a store, tavern and distillery, his place being a very busy business center. In 1796 he married Anna Maria Reifschneider, born March 30, 1779, and died Feb. 29, 1864, after a married life of sixty-eight years. They had three sons and two daughters, among whom were: Elizabeth, 1799-1805; Charles 1802-1849; and Adam, 1804-1846.

George Gresh, great-grandfather of James B., was born Oct. 16, 1767, and died Nov. 3, 1823, passing his entire life in Douglass township. He was a farmer and owned considerable land. His remains were buried in a private burial ground, known as Fritz's Burial ground, on the farm now owned by Warren Hoffman. He married Elizabeth Handwork, and their children were: George, Henry; Jacob; Isaac; Aaron; Elizabeth, m. to Jacob Moser; Joseph, of Monocacy; Susan m. to John Sassaman; Sarah, m. to Samuel Fox; Polly, m. to Henry Hartranft; and several whose names are not recalled.

Henry Gresh, son of George, was born Jan. 20, 1800, and died in 1880, and is buried in Fairview cemetery at Boyertown. He was a farmer and also operated a saw and oil mill. His farm, which consisted in his time of 103 acres, has been cut up into two tracts, and the mill property is now owned by James G. Hartranft. He married Catharine Fox (1803-1871), and she too, is buried in Fairview cemetery. Their children were: Urias F.; Sarah, m. to Frederick Hornater; Henry who lived in Douglass township; David, a shoemaker in Douglass township; Jeremiah, who died in infancy; George, a willow basket maker living at Iron Stone Creek; and Mary Ann and Catharine, twins, the former the widow of William Yoder, and the latter the widow of Milton Hatfield.

Urias F. Gresh, son of Henry and father of James B., was born in Douglass township Oct. 24, 1830. His earlier life was spent upon the Gresh farm near Little Oley, where he lived for thirty years, and operated the saw and oil mills, the latter for fifteen years, making flax seed oil. After the establishment of the free schools he taught at Manatawny two years, at Mock's school two years, and at the old eight corner school in Douglass two years. In 1866 he opened the first business house at Little Oley, and carried on a general merchandise business there until 1906, when his son Jacob succeeded him. He established the Little Oley postoffice in 1871, and was made postmaster, an office he has since continued to fill. His business has so increased that he was obliged to build an addition to his store. In politics he is a Democrat, and for forty years was a justice of the peace, at the end of that time being succeeded by his son, James B. He also served as auditor and school director. He and his family are Lutheran members of the Boyertown church, and he has been an officer of the Sunday-school. In 1862 he married Rebecca Baker, daughter of Jacob Baker and his wife who was a Miss Eagle, of Earl township. To this union have been born twelve children: Maggie, m. to Henry Yergey; Miss Emma, at home; James B.; Jacob B.; Thomas B.; Katie, m. to Irwin Sands; Bessie, m. to Harvey Bower; Mary B., m. to Orlando Leh; and four died in infancy.

James B. Gresh received a good education in the public schools. At the age of sixteen he learned the cigar making trade, and at nineteen became a cigar manufacturer, following this business ever since. He has a factory at Little Oley, and employs five hands, making the well known "Graso," a five-cent cigar, which has a good local trade, and as well in the towns of Schuylkill Valley, between Reading and Conshohocken. The capacity of the factory is 200,000 per annum. Mr. Gresh is thoroughly familiar with the raising of tobacco, and has made a study of the different grades and stages. In 1906 he began growing it, and at present raises about three acres a year. He built his two-story brick factory at Little Oley in 1889, and his modern residence in 1894.

In politics Mr. Gresh is a Democrat, and has held several local offices. In the spring of 1907 he was elected a justice of the peace. In 1908 he was treasurer of the supervisors of his township. He and his family are Lutherans. Mr. Gresh is a member of Aerie No. 626, F. O. E., of Pottstown.

In 1892 Mr. Gresh married Lizzie Anderson, daughter of James and Catharine Anderson, and they have three children: Clarence, Grace and Paul.


p. 1612


The Greth family has given to Berks county some of its most substantial and industrious citizens, and among these may be mentioned Isaac C. Greth, who resides near State Hill, Charles A. Greth, of near Wernersville, and the late Samuel U. Greth, a farmer in the vicinity of Wernersville.

(I) Andreas Greth (or Grett) was the ancestor of all of the name of this section of Pennsylvania. He was a native of southern Germany, and on coming to the New World settled in Windsor township, Berks Co., Pa. In 1771 he obtained a warrant of land from the proprietors of the Commonwealth, for forty-five acres. In 1780 he paid a federal tax of 20, and owned 235 acres in that township. His sons were: (1) Daniel is mentioned farther on. (2) John lived in Bern township in 1784, at that time owning sixty-five acres of land. In that year his family consisted of four persons. (3) Nicholas Grett lived in Windsor township on the homestead. He died advanced in years in 1845, and his will is recorded in Will Book IX, p. 64. His executors were John Grett and Jacob Balthaser. His children were: Susanna; Barbara Baver, widow of John Baver; Hannah, who married (first) Thomas Dum, and is now the widow of Henry Gibson; John; Molly, widow of Jacob Balthaser, of Bern (now Tilden) township; Eve, wife of Jonas Gilgert [Gilger]; Christian; Samuel, of Lebanon, Pa.; and Andrew, who married Rebecca Obold, and had children-Amelia (who lives at St. Joseph's Hospital, Reading), Amanda, Mary, Rebecca, Matilda, Louisa, Joseph, Darius, William, Israel, Phoenas and John.

(II) Daniel Greth, son of Andreas, was a resident of Lower Heidelberg township. He is buried in a Catholic (private) burying ground at Hetrichstown, in Penn township, his death taking place about 1848, when he was quite advanced in years. The maiden name of his wife was Polly Reifsnyder. Their children were: Samuel, born 1808, died 1882; John, born 1811, died 1874; Daniel had children-Adam, Amanda, Joshua, Clorinda, Daniel, John and Frank; Emanuel had children-Eliza, Mary, Sarah, Adam and George; Betzy married James McCallister; Matilda m. Philip Miller; Mary m. William Fisher.

(III) Samuel Greth, son of Daniel, born Feb. 10, 1808, died Oct. 16, 1882, when he was aged seventy-four years, eight months, six days. His occupation was that of a stone-mason, and he had in his employ some four or five men. He also owned a tract of sixty acres of land in Lower Heidelberg township, and while he gave necessary attention to the cultivation of this, the major portion of his time was devoted to his trade, and he laid the foundations for many buildings, and as well built many stone houses and barns. In his religious faith he was a Roman Catholic, and he is buried at Hain's Church. He m. Kate Ulrich, born June 4, 1808, died Sept. 29, 1872, aged sixty-four years, three months, twenty-five days. Twelve children were born to them: Richard, Catharine, Rebecca, Maria, Samuel U., Caroline, Sarah, Levi, William, John (died young) and the twins, Darius and Frank.

(IV) Samuel U. Greth, son of Samuel, born on the Greth homestead in Lower Heidelberg township June 18, 1841, died December 5, 1907, aged sixty-six years, five months, seventeen days. He was reared to manhood on the home farm, giving to his parents the benefit of his labors until he was twenty-three years of age. He then learned boat-building from William Hiester, at Unionville, in a yard owned by Daniel Linderman. This occupation engrossed his attention for four years, and then for a period of ten years he assisted in the building of coal cars in the Mellert shops at Reading, receiving excellent wages. For several years he engaged at carpentering, and for fourteen years burned lime at Wernersville, burning as high as 30,000 bushels in one year. His trade was large and profitable. In 1888 he moved to Main street, Wernersville, where he owned a comfortable residence and fine farm. His tract of fifteen acres was very productive under his capable management, and he was a regular attendant at the local market. In his political faith he was a Democrat. He and his family all attended the Hain's Reformed Church, in which he served as deacon and elder for a number of years. In 1867 he m. Matilda Grimes, daughter of Israel and Sarah (Krick) Grimes. Four children blessed this union, namely: George died in 1887, at the age of nineteen years, and is buried at Hain's Church; Sallie died in infancy; Samuel died aged seven years; Mary m. Howard Baer, then of Sinking Spring but now of Wernersville, and has one child, Marion C.

(III) John Greth, son of Daniel, born Aug. 5, 1811, died July 18, 1874, aged sixty-two years, eleven months, thirteen days. He passed his life engaged in farming in Lower Heidelberg township. He m. Elizabeth Knorr, born March 6, 1808, died Jan. 2, 1885, aged seventy-six years, nine months, twenty-six days. To this union were born children as follows: Israel, Sallie, John D., (m. Amanda Heister) and Amanda (m. first Frank Riegel, and second James Schaeffer).

(IV) Israel Greth, son of John and Elizabeth, was a farmer in Lower Heidelberg township, and also followed the stone-mason's trade He m. Sarah Shower, daughter of Isaac and Polly (Wenrich) Shower, farming people of Heidelberg township, whose other children were: Mary Ann m. Augustus Harner; Eliza m. Isaac Palm; Isaac m. Catharine Naftzinger; David never married. To Israel Greth and wife were born these children: Frank m. Sallie Grime; Isaac C. is mentioned below; Lizzie m. Henry Reber; Annie m. Lewis Gottshall; Kate m. James Burkey; Emma m. (first) Tyson Himmelberger, who is deceased, and (second) John White; Maria Agnes remained unmarried; one died in infancy. Mr. Greth died Feb. 29, 1904, aged sixty-nine, and his wife died March 1, 1903, aged seventy years.

(V) Isaac C. Greth, son of Israel, was born in Lower Heidelberg township, Nov. 26, 1868. He was educated in the township schools and his early training was along agricultural lines. When but fourteen years of age he began assisting his brother Frank in his general store at State Hill, and after remaining with him for six years he and Henry H. Reber purchased the store and carried it on for a year. He was next employed at butchering and huckstering for three years, at the end of that time engaging in business for himself and meeting with great success to the present time. In 1898 he purchased the store stand and store at State Hill, which is situated on the thoroughfare from Reading to Bernville, and carried it on for seven years in connection with his regular business. Then he sold the store stock in order to devote all his time to huckstering, but retained the ownership of the stand. While in the store business he officiated as postmaster at the Lorah office. He still attends the weekly market at Reading, as he has regularly since he was a mere boy of ten years. In 1894 he purchased the old Greth homestead; in 1903 the old and well-known "Dry Tavern" property; and in 1904 the old Deppen homestead, situated on the Bernville road. Having then decided to establish his residence on the "Dry Tavern" property, one mile west of State Hill, he in 1905 erected a commodious house with all modern improvements, which is generally recognized as the finest home in this section of the country. It occupies an elevated position and commands a magnificent view of the surrounding country for many miles. His career in business has been very successful, and by his straightforward course he has won the respect and confidence of the entire community.

In 1891 Mr. Greth m. Kate Himmelreich, daughter of Adam Himmelreich, a farmer of Lower Heidelberg, and nine children have been born to them: Walter I.; Israel P., Adam D., Warren S., Elda S., Edna M., Erma A., Isaac C. and Elmer L.

Adam Himmelreich, father of Mrs. Isaac C. Greth, m. Catharine Ochs, daughter of Charles Ochs, a farmer of Bern township, and they had children: Kate m. Isaac C. Greth; George married Ida Leinbach; Maggie m. David Yoder. Adam Himmelreich died in 1893, aged forty-nine years.

Nathan Himmelreich, father of Adam, m. Mary Yoh, daughter of John Yoh, and had seven children: Samuel m. Catharine Reininger; Adam m. Catharine Ochs; Catharine m. Elias Brendel; Ellen m. George Roth; Emma m. Wilson Trupp; Alice m. George Mint; Isabella m. George Sallade.

Charles Ochs, maternal grandfather of Mrs. Isaac C. Greth, a farmer of Alsace township, m. Catharine Schildt, and became the father of four children: Catharine m. Adam Himmelreich; Susan m. Jacob Dunkelberger; Cornelius remained unmarried; Henry m. Elmira Stitzel. He died in 1878, aged sixty-nine years, and his wife died at the age of seventy years.

Frederick Ochs, father of Charles, was a farmer in Bern township. He m. Susan Bussler, and they had five children: Jeremiah m. Catharine Zerbe; Henrietta m. Isaac Fornwald; Harriet and Lydia remained unmarried; Charles m. Catharine Schildt.

(IV) John D. Greth, son of John and Elizabeth, was born in Lower Heidelberg township in August, 1842. He was a huckster for many years, also for a long time drove a milk route, and is now engaged in selling liquor for A. M. Young, of Womelsdoft, a business he has been engaged in since 1902. He owns his own home, and is quite popular in his community. In politics he is a Democrat. He and his family all belong to Hain's Reformed Church, in which he has served as deacon. He m. Amanda Hiester, daughter of John Hiester, and they have eleven children: Henry, an insurance man at Reading, was for many years a school teacher in Lower Heidelberg township; Kate m. William Kline of Philadelphia; Charles A. is mentioned below; Robert and John live in Reading; Ellen m. Ed. Kenney, of Heidelberg township; Calvin and Lemuel are in Lower Heidelberg township; Reily is in Illinois; Irwin, in Reading; Tillie m. William Koch, of Robesonia.

(V) Charles A. Greth, son of John D., a prosperous truck farmer residing near Wernersville, in Lower Heidelberg township, was born there Dec. 25, 1869, and was educated in the township schools. When sixteen years of age he went to learn spinning at the mills near his home, and the business of spinning and carding he followed in the same mill (conducted by J. Ulysses Hain) for a period of fifteen years. He then farmed for two years, and for two years more followed the painter's trade. In 1904 he purchased the Jeremiah Fincher place near Hain's Church, and this tract he has since farmed. It consists of eighteen acres, all of which is devoted to truck farming. He attends the Reading market, having a stand at the west Buttonwood market-house.

On Oct. 15, 1890, Mr. Greth m. Annie M., Kintzer, daughter of Michael and Matilda (Kurtz) Kintzer. They have become the parents of six children, as follows: Paul, Ellis, Luke, Leroy, Michael and Margaret.


p. 1713


Clayton B. Griesemer, a native son of Amity township, Berks county, who is engaged in farming there, was born near the Exeter township line Jan. 27, 1867.

Casper Griesemer, the emigrant ancestor of this old family, came to America from Alsace, France, with a brother, in 1730. This brother, John Valentine by name, first located in the Goshenhoppen, in Montgomery county, Pa., but at an early date moved to Hereford township, Berks county, where many of his descendants still live. There is also a tradition that there was a third brother, Peter, but if so his place of settlement is unknown. Casper Griesemer made his last will and testament June 23, 1791, and it is on record in Will Book A, page 293. He lived in Oley at the time of his death in 1794. He had settled there at an early date, being one of a number of Huguenots who chose the fertile Oley Valley as their home. He disposed of his large estate in a just manner, and one item in his will relates to his wife Rebecca: His "beloved wife shall have as follows: the household and kitchen furniture, bedding, linens, all ready money, bonds and notes, book debts and other debts," etc. He bequeathed each of this five daughters the sum of 500 pounds in gold and silver; and to Abraham, son of his deceased son Valentine, he gave 250 pounds, and to his granddaughter Catharine, daughter of his deceased son Abraham, he gave also 250 pounds. The children of Casper Griesemer were: Valentine and Abraham, who died prior to 1791; John; Peter; Jacob; Elizabeth (Guldin); Anna Maria (Graeff); Anna Margaret (Reiter); Susanna; and Eva (Ludwig).

Peter Griesemer, son of Casper and great-great-grandfather of Clayton B., was a farmer in Oley township, where he built a stone house that is still standing. He was an executor of his father's will in 1794. He married a Hoch, and both are buried at Oley Churches. They had six children: Abraham; Catharine m. Daniel Van Reed; Daniel; Jacob; John, who lived in Oley, died in 1817, leaving a large estate and survived by his wife Catharine (they had no children); and Mary m. Daniel Bertolet. Daniel Griesemer, son of Peter, lived along the Oley turnpike, where he owned four large farms. He married Catharine Deisher, daughter of John Deisher, and both are buried at Oley Churches, as are also all of their six children-Benneville, Peter, Henry, Daniel, John and Hettie. The town of Griesemersville, in Oley, was named after Peter Griesemer, second son of Daniel and Catharine (Deisher).

Abraham Griesemer, son of Peter, was born Oct. 26, 1782, and died Dec. 1, 1847. He was a farmer in Amity township, and he and his wife are buried at Amityville. He married Catharine Ritter, born June 26, 1788, died Jan. 18, 1859. They had seven children, as follows: David, 1810-1847; Samuel; Sarah m. David Kline; Esther m. David Kline; Joseph died in California; Mrs. Daniel Bertolette; and Reuben, born Jan 2, 1826, on Nov. 18, 1847, m. Polly Nein, and they have been farmers in Amity all their lives, both now past eighty years of age (they had one child, still born in 1849).

Samuel Griesemer, son of Abraham, was born in Amity township June 28, 1812. He was a miller and conducted the well known Griesemer mill on the Monocacy until about 1871, when he gave up that work to devote himself to farming on the land he bought in Amity. He sold the mill to George Brown. After farming some years he retired, and moved to Exeter, where he died March 15, 1902, and he is buried at Amityville. He was a prominent man in his time, and was public spirited and progressive, standing high in the estimation of the community. He was one of the founders and organizers of the Amityville cemetery, and was liberal in his donations to the church. He was of dark complexion, and was five feet and nine inches in height. He married Matilda Babb, who died Aug. 16, 1896, aged eighty-one years, six months, fourteen days. Their children were: Catharine, 1837-1905, died unmarried; Franklin born 1839, is unmarried; Abraham is the father of Alexander F. of Reading; Ezra B.; Louisa died young; John died in Amity township, leaving a widow and two sons, Samuel and Harvey.

Ezra B. Griesemer, son of Samuel, is a farmer near Stonersville, in Exeter township. By trade he is a carpenter, and for some years followed that occupation regularly. He has a farm of about eighty-five acres, which he now cultivates. He married Mary Boyer, daughter of Jacob Boyer, of Amity township, and they have seven children: Clayton B.; Kate m. Jacob Hoffman, a farmer of Exeter; Ezra is a carpenter in Exeter; Stella m. Walter Kline, a farmer of Exeter; John is a Reformed minister; and Mame and George are at home.

Clayton B. Griesemer has been familiar with farming from his early boyhood, and in the spring of 1894 he began for himself in Amity township, near Baumstown, where he remained one year. He then went to a farm belonging to his grandfather, Samuel Griesemer, in the same township, and for two years devoted himself to its care and cultivation. The next six years were passed on Isaac March's farm, also in Amity, and in the fall of 1902 he purchased the John Geiger farm near Amityville, moving on it in the following spring. It consists of 106 acres of good land, and the stone house is in excellent condition. He has two silos and is progressive and up-to-date in his methods. In politics he is a Democrat, and for six years served as school director, a part of the time being president of the board. He and his family belong to the Reformed Church at Amityville.

On Aug. 24, 1891, Mr. Griesemer married Kate Deeter, daughter of Amos and Mary (Herflicker) Deeter, of Exeter township, and they have one son, Owen D.


p. 1421


Eli B. Griesemer, manager of the Pleasantville Creamery, was born in Oley township, Berks county, Aug. 24, 1874, son of Peter K. Griesemer, hospital steward of the Berks County Almshouse.

Casper Griesemer, who died in 1794, lived in Oley township. His will, to which John Pott, Jr., and Joshua Boone were witnesses, was made June 23, 1791. In this he gives to his wife, Rebecca, the household and kitchen furniture, bedding, linens, all ready money, bonds, notes, book debts, etc. To each of his five daughters was given 500 pounds in gold and silver. These daughters were Elizabeth Guldin, Anna Maria Graeff, Anna Margaret Reiter, Susanna Griesemer and Eva Ludwig. His sons living at that time were: John, Peter and Jacob. Other items in the will were: To "My grandson Abraham (son of my deceased son Valentine), 250 pounds." To "My granddaughter Catharine (daughter of my deceased son Abraham) 250 pounds.

Peter Griesemer, son of Casper, was married to a Hoch, and they had a son, Abraham, who died in 1847. Abraham m. Catharine Ritter, and their children were: David died in 1847; Samuel; Sarah m. David Kline; Esther m. David Kline; Joseph died in California; Reuben, born Jan. 2, 1826, m. Polly Nein, Nov. 18, 1847, had one child still-born 1849, and both are living in Amity township since their retirement from farming.

Jacob Griesemer, great-grandfather of Eli B., was a lifelong resident of Oley township, also owning the old home farm and also the old Griesemer mill. The original mill was destroyed by fire prior to 1850. Jacob Griesemer was tall, weighed over 300 pounds, and was exceedingly strong. He married Elizabeth Lorah and they had three sons and four daughters, namely: Daniel, who lived on a part of the homestead; Sally, m. to John Deysher; Elizabeth, m. to John Deysher; Susan, m. to William Carragan; Jacob L.; Mary, m. to Jacob Hertzog; and a son who was drowned in boyhood.

Jacob L. Griesemer, son of Jacob, was born in 1812, and lived all his life in Oley township, where he owned the Griesemer homestead of about 200 acres. He was a useful and respected man in his district. He died in March, 1885. His wife, Cordelia Knabb, was a daughter of John D. and Hannah (Schaeffer) Knabb. Their children were: John and Jacob died young; a son died in infancy; Cordelia died young; Deborah K. m. Milt. Althouse; Peter K.; Ammon K.; Mary Ann died unmarried; William K; Hannah K. m. Darius Y. Hill, and both are deceased; Kate K. m. Ellis Yoder.

Peter K. Griesemer, son of Jacob L. and father of Eli B., was born at Griesemer's Mill, in Oley township, March 30, 1844. He was reared on his father's farm on which he lived, engaged in farming, until his sixty-third year, when he became hospital steward of the almshouse. He owns the old homestead, which belonged to the emigrant ancestor of that name.

Politically Mr. Griesemer is a Democrat, and takes an active interest in the success of his party. He was township auditor and supervisor for nine years. On New Year's day, 1907, he was appointed to his present position at the Almshouse. He has been a director of the Oley Turnpike Company since 1887, and one of the influential men of Oley township. He is a member of Council No. 18, Jr. O. U. A. M., of Oley; Oley Castle, No. 119, K. G. E., of Oley; and Lodge No. 1109, I. O. O. F., of Griesemersville.

He and his family are Reformed members of Oley Church, of which he was deacon for five years and trustee for many years. His children were: Ida. m. to George A. Kieffer; Eli B.; Elmer; John; George; Charles; Oscar, who died when one year old; Howard; Mary; Chester, and Peter.

Eli B. Griesemer was educated in the township schools, Oley Academy, and the Normal School at Kutztown. He was licensed to teach in the public schools of Berks county by Prof. William M. Zechman, and taught his first term in the fall of 1893, in his native township, after which he taught at Brumbach's school four terms. In the spring of 1898 he became the manager of the Pleasantville creamery for Frank F. Cleaver, and operated it for him two years, when Mr. Cleaver died and was succeeded by his son, its present owner. This creamery averages 9,000 pounds of milk daily, and has been a very successful enterprise. Mr. Griesemer thoroughly understands the business, and his efficient work has been an important factor in its success.

Fraternally he is a member of Oley Castle No. 119, K. G. E.; Camp No. 121, P. O. S. of A., of Oley Line; and Griesemersville Lodge No. 1109, I. O. O. F. Politically he is a Democrat, and was school director of the only independent school district in Berks county, called Pleasantville Independent District. He and his wife belong to the Oley Church.

Mr. Griesemer married Annie P. Stapleton, daughter of Samuel and Cassie (Pyle) Stapleton, late of Oley. They have had six children, namely: Florence E. (died in infancy), Lottie M., Ida C., Eva A., Amy O., and Annie L.


p. 1377


The ship "Thistle," which in 1730 arrived at Philadelphia, had on board three "Gresamere" brothers, Casper, John Leonard and Peter. The name Griesemer has been variously spelled. In Oley township the village of Griesemersville perpetuates the name. Casper Griesemer located in Oley township, where his descendants reside to the present time. He died in 1794, the head of a large family. His sons, John and Peter, were the executors of his last will and testament, which is recorded in Will Book A, p. 293. Peter Griesemer located in the Goshenhoppen Valley, Montgomery county. There Valentine Griesemer had also located for a few years, but before the organization of the county in 1752 he had settled in Hereford township, Berks county. He became a prominent factor in that township, and was one of the three largest land owners there, the township having been erected in 1753. Thomas Maberry, an Englishman, Peter Fetherolf, a Hollander, and Valentine Griesemer, a French Huguenot from Alsace, owned nearly the entire eastern part of Hereford, the Griesemer land comprising about 600 acres, and including the present farm of Joseph M. Griesemer (who is of the fifth generation of the family in this country), the Benjamin Grassley farm, the Samuel S. Schultz farm, the tract owned by the Mary Urffer estate, part of the Henry Kriebel farm, the James Roberts tract, the William H. Sallade farm, the F. W. Huber farm, all of Treichlersville, and the Ambrose H. Huber farm, the Albert Fry and Elmer Huber tracts, besides parts of other farms along the eastern end of the township. Thomas Maberry owned the land about Mensch's Mill, the David G. Treichler farm and the Daniel N. Schultz farm, besides considerable other lands. Peter Fetherolf owned the land to the east and southeast of Siesholtzville, and he is buried in a private burial ground on the late Samuel Bittenbender's farm. Valentine Griesemer erected the first set of buildings on the tract now owned by Joseph M. Griesemer. In 1878, Gabriel G. Griesemer tore down the old log house that Valentine Griesemer built long before the establishment of Berks county. Valentine Griesemer is buried at New Goshenhoppen Church, but the inscription on his sandstone tombstone is no longer legible. He was a member of the German Reformed congregation. Among his children were Leonard and Gertrude (m. Jacob Gery).

(II) Leonard Griesemer, son of Valentine, was born in 1733, and died Jan. 5, 1821, and is buried at New Goshenhoppen Church. He was a farmer. He also established a pottery on the farm now owned by his great-grandson, Joseph M. Griesemer, about fifty yards southeast of the present stone residence. The pottery was conducted by Gabriel Griesemer as late as 1865, when it was destroyed by fire. Leonard Griesemer was a public-spirited and enterprising. In that early day he was greatly interested in the intellectual development of the community and was officially connected with the establishment of the primitive pay schools that marked the beginning of the present great school system. During the war of the Revolution he did hauling for the Continental army, and suffered the loss of a valuable team. On the farm now owned by Joseph M. Griesemer, he built a barn in 1811, and added to the stone house, but the barn has since been remodeled. He married Elizabeth Faber, born Oct. 14, 1739, died Jan. 14, 1814. They had children: John Jacob, George, Abraham, Isaac, and Catharine (m. Abraham Mertz).

(III) Jacob Griesemer, son of Leonard obtained the lands now in the farms of Benjamin Grassley, Samuel S. Schultz, and the Mary Urffer estate, besides thirty-five acres of woodland located in Upper Milford township, Lehigh county. He was a farmer and also conducted a pottery which was located on the Benjamin Grassley farm, about fifty years northwest of the present residence. The pottery represented an important industry many years ago, and even as late as 1850 Jacob Frederick operated it, but in 1865 or 1866 it was torn down, though fragments of the foundation are still to be found below the surface of the ground. On Nov. 25, 1809, Jacob Griesemer purchased of his parents two tracts of land in Hereford township, containing altogether 145 acres. On Sept 10, 1810, Jacob Griesemer and his wife, Sarah, sold this land to John Gery, of Upper Hanover township, Montgomery county. On Sept. 13, 1816, John Gery sold it to Samuel Gery, of Hereford township; and on April 5, 1834, Samuel Gery and wife, Susanna, sold it to David Schultz, of Upper Hanover township, for $10,500. In 1873 title passed to the present owner, Samuel S. Schultz, but the tract known as the homestead was accepted by Manoah S. Schultz, who in 1905 sold same to Benjamin Grassley. Samuel S. Schultz received forty-two acres of this same tract.

(III) Abraham Griesemer, son of Leonard, became the father of six children: John, located in Ohio; Julia; Mrs. Grim; Mrs. Wendling of Pennsburg; Mrs. Miller; and Abraham, born in 1821, and still living, located in Allentown, where he was the first dentist. (He married and had two children: Elizabeth, wife of Thomas A. Strasser, a specialist in diseases of the eye, ear and nose, and an inventor of note, at Reading; and Dr. Asher, who died in 1885, the father of Mark, Asher, Paul and Robert).

(III) Isaac Griesemer, son of Leonard, was born on the homestead in 1777, and died in 1872, and is buried at the Reformed Church in Old Zionsville. He was a farmer and owned the old original homestead, consisting of ninety acres. He was well built physically and possessed of great strength. He was very fond of attending battalion meetings, and could well take care of himself and his friends. In politics a Democrat, he served as township supervisor. He married Catharine Gross, of Maxatawny township, born May 23, 1773, died Oct. 2, 1839. He married (second) Catharine Jacoby. His children, all by the first marriage, were: Joseph, Solomon, Isaac, Peter, Gabriel and Hettie (died unmarried).

(IV) Gabriel G. Griesemer, son of Isaac, was born Dec. 27, 1813, on his father's farm, and died in Hereford in 1895, and both he and his wife were buried at Goshenhoppen Church. He was a farmer, and operated the pottery, making roofing tile. He built the present large substantial stone residence in 1878, containing twelve large rooms with a wide hallway, and he also remodeled the barn. He and his family were Reformed members of New Goshenhoppen Church. On Sept. 2, 1841, he married Regina Meschter, daughter of George and Susanna (Heimbach) Meschter, and their children were: Elizabeth m. Henry Kriebel, deceased; Susanna is unmarried and lives with her brother, Joseph M.; Sarah, deceased, m. Henry Schulter; Matthias, died in infancy; Owen is a school teacher at Walnutport, Pa.; Mary, deceased, m. Levi Moll, also deceased; Percival, lives to Goshen, Ind.; and Joseph M.

(V) Joseph M. Griesemer, son of Gabriel G., was born at the family home March 17, 1857, and was educated in the township schools and later in the Keystone State Normal School at Kutztown. He early became thoroughly versed in farming duties, and this vocation he has continued to follow to the present time. He owns the old homestead farm, which is one of the best in the township, the buildings and improvements being first-class in every respect. Mr. Griesemer is one of the influential Democrats in his district, and he has frequently served as delegate to county conventions under the old system. In 1903 he was a delegate to the State Convention at Harrisburg, and he is active in the political affairs of the county, many a successful candidate owning his success to Mr. Griesemer's influence. In the spring of 1906 he was elected one of the supervisors of his township under the new road law, and this office he continues to hold. He belongs to the Reformed congregation at Goshenhoppen Church. He has been committeeman since 1899.

Last Modified Thursday, 16-Oct-2008 20:54:18 EDT

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