Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals by Morton Montgomery


p. 700

Surnames: HOLLIS

W. G. Hollis, deceased. The W. G. Hollis Chocolate Manufactory, Nos. 621-625 Franklin street, Reading, Pa., was established by the late W. G. Hollis in 1884, and was first located on No. 58 South Seventh street.

W. G. Hollis was born at Psara, a small island in Greece, and secured a good education in his native country. Seeing better possibilities in America, he sailed in 1878 from that country, and landed at Charlestown, S. C., where he embarked in the candy business. There he remained but a short time, however, removing to Alabama, and still later to Canada, whence on account of the climate he came back to the United States, locating in Baltimore. The same year he removed to Lancaster, and in 1884 settled in Reading, Pa. His ability as a candy manufacturer was soon recognized, and from a humble beginning he arose to be one of the largest manufacturers of the section. In 1893 he removed to the company's present quarters, on Franklin street, the building being three stories and basement, 62 x 60, and equipped with all the modern chocolate candy-making machinery, much of which was made and shipped from Paris. The plant is one of the most complete of its size in the state of Pennsylvania, and the reputation of the product is recognized in every State of the Union. Mr. Hollis established a set price on his goods, and both price and goods continued uniform thereafter. He was the first in this section of the State to manufacture chocolates from the bean, he importing the bean himself, and roasting and preparing it for the finished product. A force of 110 employes are given work by the plant in the various departments, and the firm's policy towards its employes has always been one of consideration and kindness. Many who have been in the employ of the company were started up in business on their own account by Mr. Hollis. Mr. Hollis died Oct. 12, 1905, but the firm will continue to do business under the same name, W. G. Hollis, it being carried on by his mother, Mr. Hollis' brother, Milton G., having been appointed Attorney in fact. On Jan. 18, 1909, the plant was totally destroyed by fire and a fine modern building of four stories and basement, equipped with the newest machinery was erected at the old site where the business will be continued as heretofore.


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Joseph W. Holmes, a coal dealer of Reading, and a lifelong resident of that city, was born there Nov. 27, 1859, son of James W. and Hannah Miller (Swartzwelder) Holmes.

James W. Holmes was a native of England, but came to this country in 1828, when he was six years of age. A machinist by trade, he secured a position in that line of work with the Philadelphia and Reading Railway Company, and remained there a long time, largely during the period when Mr. Mulholland was superintendent. Mr. Holmes belonged to the Liberty Fire Company and was its first president, while along fraternal lines he was identified with the Odd Fellows. He had the reputation of being the best rifle shot in Reading, and displayed great enthusiasm over the rifle practices. He was a member of one of the earliest gun clubs formed in the city. In politics he was an adherent of the Democratic party. Mr. Holmes died in 1895, aged seventy-three years, and his wife in 1862. Her maiden name was Hannah Miller Swartzwelder, and she was a native of Pennsylvania, born in 1828. Children were born to them as follows: Allen, deceased; Winfield; Catherine, m. to F. H. Gartlan; William; Joseph W.; and another that died in infancy. The family were members of the Episcopal Church.

Joseph W. Holmes attended the public schools of Reading and on completing his studies there, applied himself to mastering telegraphy. His first position was with the Philadelphia & Reading system, and he was employed at various points all along their line. In 1880 he left the railroad work to become telegraph operator at the tube works of the Reading Iron Company, and was in the service of that corporation for the unusual period of twenty-six years and one month, to the mutual satisfaction of both parties. In April, 1906, Mr. Holmes resigned and accepted a position with the Philadelphia Light and Equipment Company, but this association was of very brief duration, and Aug. 20, of the same year, he went into business for himself. He is established on Thorn street, between Washington and Walnut, and deals in flour, feed and all grades of anthracite coal. He bought the good will of R. W. Lance, and from the very first of his assuming control of the business he has been markedly successful. He has many friends in Reading, and enjoys the highest reputation for integrity and ability.

Mr. Holmes was married in 1887 to Miss Ida M. Dietrich, daughter of Daniel F. Dietrich. The only child born to this union died in infancy. Mr. Holmes is a member of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, in which he is a vestryman. While his life has always been a busy one, Mr. Holmes has found time for considerable activity in political life and has invariably given his support to the Democratic party. Fraternally he is a member of Washington Camp, No. 303, P. O. S. of A., and is a trustee of the organization.


p. 971


Daniel Holtry, for many years an enterprising business man of Berks county, Pa., died at his home in Reading, Aug. 12, 1902, after having lived a retired life in that city for twelve years. Mr. Holtry was born in Cumru township, Berks county, Sept. 9, 1845, son of Joseph Holtry, who died when Daniel was but a few weeks old, the father of three children: Hiram, who died March 10, 1906; Sarah, wife of Thomas Moyer; and Daniel.

Daniel Holtry was reared in his native locality, and his education was secured in the public schools of the township. When a young man he learned the butchering business, and followed that very successfully, for a number of years at Tuckerton, Muhlenberg township, Berks county, coming to Reading in 1890. Here he erected a fine residence at No. 132 North Eighth street, and he continued to live therein until his death, Aug. 12, 1902. Mr. Holtry was buried at the Alsace Church, of which he was a member, and his grave is now marked by a fine monument erected by his widow. His funeral was in charge of the Knights Templars, who turned out in large numbers to do him honor. He had long been active in the Masonic fraternity, belonging to St. Johns Lodge, No. 435, F. & A. M., which he joined May 4, 1877; Excelsior Chapter, No. 237 R. A. M.; Reading Commandery, No. 42, K. T.; and Rajah Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S.

Mr. Holtry married Adeline Gehret, daughter of Gabriel and Mary (Maurer) Gehret, the former a well known hotel man of Berks county, who also engaged in butchering and farming, and died at the age of sixty-nine years, as did his wife, both being buried at Alsace Church, their last resting places now being appropriately marked. Their children were: Amelia, Ella, Catherine and Adeline (Mrs. Holtry). Mrs. Daniel Holtry resided at her home on North Eighth street. She is a faithful member of the Alsace Church. She placed a memorial window in the new Grace Reformed Alsace Church, costing $475, and gave $305 toward the masonry besides furnishing all the stone for the foundation from her quarries located near Tuckerton. She is ever ready to give her aid to the cause of the church, and is very active in the Aid Society.


p. 1203


J. Adam Holzman, merchant and postmaster at Tulpehocken in Jefferson township, Berks county, was born Jan. 26, 1855, in the town where he still resides.

Henry Holzman, his grandfather, was an early settler in Bethel township, near the Blue Mountains, owned land and was one of the well-to-do farmers in his district. He married Barbara Schlassman, and they had six children: Peter, Jacob, John S., Elizabeth, Mary and Catharine.

John S. Holzman, father of J. Adam Holzman, was one of the foremost citizens and public officials of Berks county in his day, particularly well known in the upper part of the county. He was born Dec. 12, 1823, and died Aug. 21, 1893, aged sixty-nine years, eight months, nine days, and is buried at St. Paul's Union Church, at Shaefferstown, Jefferson township. When a young man he learned the carpenter's trade, which he followed for a number of years, later engaging in the butchering business, which he also followed for several years. In 1863 he engaged in the hotel business at Tulpehocken, continuing in that line until 1881, and he also carried on a general mercantile business at that place in partnership with Levi W. Himmelberger, from 1876 to 1878. Buying out Mr. Himmelberger, he took his sons, J. Adam and Henry H., into business with him, and retained an interest in the store until his death, though he took no active part in its management and conduct. Mr. Holzman was a prominent member of the Democratic party and served many years as postmaster at Tulpehocken; was school director of his township; and was elected by a large majority to the office of county treasurer, in which he served from 1885 to 1887. He was likewise active in church work, was a member of the Lutheran Church, and served on the building committee when St. Paul's Union Church at Shaefferstown was erected, in 1884.

Mr. Holzman married Maria Derr, daughter of Peter and Elizabeth (Bender) Derr, and she survives him, being now the oldest resident of Tulpehocken. She was born in 1824, and though past eighty is still very active both mentally and physically, relating many interesting stories of the early days in this district. Thirteen children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Holzman, viz.: James M., deceased; Thomas, deceased; Sarah, deceased; J. Adam; Henry H., a resident of Rehrersburg, Pa.; Martin, deceased; Reiley, deceased; Lovina E., wife of J. Michael Knoll, and residing at Tulpehocken; Francis S., living at Richland, Lebanon county; and four who died young.

J. Adam Holzman acquired his education in the public schools of his native township and has spent all his life at Tulpehocken. He bought out his brother's interest in the mercantile business June 21, 1894, and has since conducted it on his own account, doing a large produce business. In 1893 he was appointed postmaster, and has served as such ever since. He has also been tax collector of his township, having been elected to that office on the Democratic ticket, two terms. He is a member of St. Paul's Lutheran church, was one of the first deacons in the new church, has also served as elder, and is at present treasurer of the Sunday-school.

On Aug. 7, 1880, Mr. Holzman married Miss Kate R. Firing, daughter of Augustus Firing, and they have two children: Sallie, m. to Herbert S. Long, and mother of one child, Florence; and Oscar, m. to Mary K. Derr, and they have one child, Paul Adam.


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The Homan family is one of the oldest in Reading, and its members in each generation have proved themselves loyal, patriotic and useful citizens. Their devotion to the land of their adoption has been shown by service in the War of the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil war and the Spanish-American war; and in time of peace they have been progressive and upright citizens.

(I) Johannes Homan, the founder of this branch of the family, came from the Palatinate, Germany, and sailed from Rotterdam, last from Deal, England, on the ship "Queen Elizabeth," which landed at Philadelphia Sept. 16, 1738.

He settled at Reading, where he reared a large family, and where his descendants yet make their home. In 1907 the Reading city directory gave the names of seventy-four adult persons by the name of Homan. Johannes Homan was the father of the following children: Samuel, born Feb. 17, 1755; Abraham, born Nov. 27, 1758, married (first) Christiana Wertz (1763-1826), (second) Jane Taylor (1782-1864), and he died March 13, 1847; Heinrich, born Nov. 25, 1764, died Oct. 12, 1834, m. Maria Reitmyer (1786-1821); and John, born about 1762, m. Kate Ziegler.

(II) Samuel Homan, son of Johannes, born at Reading Feb. 17, 1755, died Feb. 15, 1824. In 1775 he was a soldier in the early stages of the Revolution. He was twice married. His first wife, Juliana Rapp, died about 1780, the mother of one son, Johannes, born Oct. 1, 1778. His second wife, Christiana Reitmyer, born 1763, died 1849, bore him the following children: Kate, born Oct. 26, 1782, died unmarried Aug. 7, 1824; Samuel, born March 21, 1784, m. Elizabeth Maltzberger, and died Sept. 28, 1813; John Peter, born Feb. 12, 1786, was a soldier in the war of 1812, m. Sarah Schwartz (1791-1872), and died Oct. 23, 1857; Daniel, born in 1787, made his home in Washington, and died Aug. 25, 1867; Jacob, born Feb. 25, 1789, served in the war of 1812, m. Catharine Drinkhaus (1792-1854), and lived in Pottstown, Pa., until his death Dec. 9, 1826; William, born Oct. 27, 1791, m. Polly Graul (1792-1864) and died Feb. 27, 1821; Henry, born Sept. 13, 1793, served in the war of 1812, m. Elizabeth Kutz (1797-1878) and died Aug. 18, 1859; Adam, born about 1794, m. Catharine Levan (1807-1867), and died in 1854; Molly, born Oct. 29, 1796, died unmarried Sept. 28, 1867; Abraham, born 1799, died unmarried in 1821; Anna, born in 1803, m. William Arnold (1798-1863) and died in 1846; and Joseph, born Oct. 27, 1811, m. Anna Bright (1805-1856) and died Oct. 12, 1832. (III) Johannes Homan, son of Samuel, born Oct. 1, 1778, died April 19, 1845, aged sixty-six years. By occupation he was a hatter. He was a soldier in the war of 1812, his son Samuel accompanying him as a drummer, in Col. John Lotz's regiment, in the Second Brigade, Capt. John Christian's Company, from Sept. 1, 1814, to March 5, 1815. Two other sons were drummers also. Johannes Homan (also known as John) married Catharine Lehmann, of Kutztown, born Nov. 19, 1783, died Feb. 13, 1819. They were the parents of fourteen children, of whom three of the sons, Jacob, John and Daniel, followed the hatter's trade. Two of the children died young. The others were: Jacob (1799-1839) m. Rebecca Hildebrand (1800-1860); Samuel (1800-1843) m. Elizabeth Boyer (1804, died when past ninety years of age); John (1803-1865) m. Catharine Heckman (1803-1844); Elizabeth (1804-1887) m. John Rightmyer (1801-1874); Catharine (1806-1858) m. Isaac Levan (1798-1856); Daniel (1807-1862) m. Lavina Reeser (1823-1873); Mary (1809-1883) m. Joseph Henry (1807-1870); Lebbeus (1810-1862) m. Matilda Schoener; Juliana (1812-1862) m. Gershom Wolf; Rosanna (1813-1891) m. Jacob Kunsman (1813-1893); Hester (1816-1860) m. Henry Hotem (1815-1852); and Henry Augustus (Aug. 25, 1818).

(IV) Henry Augustus Homan, son of Johannes, was born in Reading Aug. 25, 1818, and after a well spent life passed away Sept. 7, 1905, aged eighty-seven years, thirteen days. By occupation Mr. Homan was a carpenter, and he helped to build many of the houses of this city. In his later years he was a carpenter in the employ of the Reading Railway Company, and became well and favorably known, having the respect of all with whom he came in contact. He resided at No. 126 South Eighth street, where three of his daughters yet make their home. He was a faithful charter member of St. James Lutheran church, and was buried in the Charles Evans cemetery. He married June 28, 1840, Elizabeth Belz, who was born April 11, 1822, daughter of John Adam and Christiana Belz; she died July 11, 1877. They became the parents of twelve children, four sons and eight daughters, namely: Jacob, died aged nine years; Charles A.; Thomas Belz, born July 14, 1845, died Nov. 17, 1874, m. Oct. 19, 1871, Mary Ella Cutler, and had two children--Harry Cutler and Edwin Forrest; Christiana is deceased; Frances Rebecca is deceased; Emma is at home; Lucy is deceased; Alice is a school teacher in Reading; Jeanette Rebecca, born Feb. 8, 1859, died Oct. 27, 1886, m. April 12, 1881, Oliver Mock, and one daughter, Alice, survives; Lewis, deceased; Frances E., born Jan 14, 1863, was a successful school teacher in Reading until her marriage July 31, 1888, with Henry Schick, a furniture dealer in Reading, and they have had five children--Christian Henry (deceased), Esther Louise, Walter Herbert, Francis Homan and Charles Otto; and Clara is at home.

(V) Charles A. Homan, son of Henry Augustus, and one of the well known and highly respected citizens of Reading, was born there May 20, 1843. His education was acquired in the public schools which he attended until he was eleven years of age. At that time he became an errand boy in a grocery store, later assuming a like position in a dry goods store. On Dec. 4, 1858, he entered the telegraph office as a messenger--at the corner of Seventh and Chestnut streets--for the Reading Railway Company. On Nov. 4, 1862, he enlisted as a private in Company B, 167th Pennsylvania Volunteers, and he served with his regiment until mustered out Aug. 12, 1863. On Sept. 23d following he entered the United States Military Telegraph service as an operator, and remained in that branch of the government service until April 13, 1866. On Aug. 3, 1866, he returned to the employ of the railroad company, being stationed at Columbia as a telegrapher until April 13, 1870. Since then he has been located in Reading, though continuing in the service of the same company. He is now one of the oldest men in the employ of the Philadelphia & Reading Company. Since November, 1880, he has been storekeeper of the telegraph department.

On July 11, 1889, Mr. Homan was married to Susan Barlet, a former grammar school teacher at Reading. She is a daughter of Charles and Emma (Briner) Barlet. No children have been born to this marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Homan are members of the St. James Lutheran Church. They reside in their comfortable home at No. 1444 Spruce street. Mr. Homan has long been interested in the history of his family, and he has a remarkable memory for the facts, as well as for the dates, in same. He is well posted on public affairs, and is a most interesting talker.

(IV) Daniel Homan, son of Johannes, and Catharine (Lehmann), was born in January, 1807, and, after a life passed in Reading, died in 1862. In his earlier years he owned a boat and followed boating in the summer months on the Schuylkill canal, while in winter he engaged in Hat making, a trade he had learned from his father. His latter days were devoted almost exclusively to this trade. For a short time he was employed by the Reading Railroad Company. He made his home for the greater part of his life on Eighth street, between Franklin and Chestnut streets. He married Lavina Reeser (1823-1873), who bore him the following children, namely: Eve Rosanna m. John Becker; John L.; Sallie died in childhood; Susan m. James Printz; Annie m. George Eisenbise; Hannah m. Jesse Castor; Daniel; Joseph, a railroad man, was accidentally killed in 1903; Amanda m. Julius Manning; Mary is deceased; Lottie m. Maurice Harbster; and two died young.

(V John Lehmann Homan, son of Daniel and one of the popular employes of the Reading Railroad Company, was born in Reading April 1, 1844. He was educated in the Peach and Franklin streets school, and learned the blacksmith's trade with the Reading Railroad Company, in whose shops he commenced work when he was but thirteen years of age. He has been connected with this company since that time, with the exception of three years, 1898-1901, and during this long period has worked in every department in his line, being a skilled and efficient mechanic and trusted employe of the company.

In 1864 Mr. Homan was married (first) to Rebecca Dietrich, daughter of Conrad and Martha (Moyer) Dietrich, and to this union were born five sons: one that died in infancy; William, who died in 1904, aged thirty-eight years; Hiester, who died in infancy; John, born in 1869, who is an iron worker in Reading; and Daniel, who died in childhood. Mrs. Homan died at the age of twenty-four years. Mr. Homan m. (second) Elizabeth Eidel, widow of James Eidel; her maiden name was Eddinger. No children have been born to this union. Since 1889 Mr. Homan has occupied his own home at No. 1819 Perkiomen avenue. In his religious belief he is a Lutheran, and attends St. James Church, while Mrs. Homan is a member of St. Paul's Reformed Church of Reading.

(III) Henry Homan, son of Samuel and Christian (Reitmyer), was born Sept. 13, 1793, and was a hat maker by trade, before the days of machinery. He served as a soldier in the war of 1812, and he died Aug. 18, 1859. He married Elizabeth Kutz, who bore him seven children, as follows: Adam, Samuel, James, Susan, Celinda, Ann Eliza and Christian. In religious belief the family were Lutherans, and in politics Mr. Homan was a Democrat.

(IV) Samuel Homan, son of Henry, and one of Reading's venerable retired citizens, was born March 20, 1825, on the corner of Eighth and Cherry streets, in a building situated on the present site of Kissinger's Storage Warehouse. He received a meager education in the schools of his day, and when fourteen years of age apprenticed himself to the hatter's trade, his apprenticeship lasting for five and one half years. At the end of that time he worked at his trade for several years, and then with David Lotz went into business, the partnership continuing successfully until Mr. Lotz's death, after which time Mr. Homan continued the business. On Jan 20, 1809, Mr. Homan married Susan Leas, daughter of Peter Leas. Six of the eight children born to this union survive, namely: Henry A. m. Mary Walters; Laura m. David Weidham; Elizabeth is deceased; Samuel P. m. Elizabeth Hays; one died in infancy; Eva G. and Sarah S. are unmarried; and Charlotte G. m. David Hunnon.

Mr. and Mrs. Homan and their family all belong to the Lutheran Church. Since the administration of James Buchanan he has been a stanch Democrat, and has taken an active interest in the success of his party. He joined the Friendship Fire Company when that organization had but seventeen members. Mr. Homan has many friends in the city, attracted by the sterling qualities displayed by him during his long and useful life.


p. 607


Andrew Honeker, a resident of Reading, Pa., who was engaged in the stone-cutting business, was born June 22, 1845, in Wurtemberg, Germany, son of George Honeker, an agriculturist of that country, where he died at the age of sixty-five years.

Andrew Honeker received his education in the common schools of his native country, and was reared on his father's farm. He came to America in June, 1869, on a vessel of the Hamburg Line, and landed at New York City, where he remained but a few days, then going to the State of Massachusetts. He worked on a farm there for a short time after which he came to Reading and was employed at a furnace for a few months. His next employment was at Altoona, Pa., for a period of three years, after which he returned to Reading and learned the stone cutting trade with the Eben people, in whose employ he was for a period of twenty years. In 1894 Mr. Honeker engaged in business with John Fisher and Christ Becker, with whom he continued one year, after which he formed a partnership with Simon Abel, this connection continuing for five years. In 1904 Mr. Honeker became the partner of Henry Huber (see sketch elsewhere), and they continued as partners, their yard being located at Elm and Buttonwood streets, as long as Mr. Honeker lived, and after her husband's death Mrs. Honeker sold his interests. The home of the family is at No. 1167 Green street. Mr. Honeker died July 23, 1908, aged sixty-three years, and is buried in the Gethsemane Cemetery, Reading. He was a member of St. Paul's Roman Catholic church, and of St. Boniface's Society. Mr. Honeker married Ceicila Hohm, of Baiern, Germany, and to them were born the following children: Joseph, who is employed in Chicago as a clerk; Maggie; Albert; Annie; Lizzie, and Mary.

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