Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals by Morton Montgomery


p. 480


Thomas P. Merritt, son of Abraham and Margaret (Irick-Budd) Merritt, was born at Mt. Holly, N. J., Sept. 29, 1844. He received his education in the schools of his native place, and in the University of Lewisburg, Pa. now Bucknell), and upon completing his special course of preparation for business located in Philadelphia, engaging in the lumber business with a firm trading as Norcross & Sheetz. After remaining with this firm several years, he went to Norristown and started in business for himself. He continued at Norristown until 1870, and then removed to Williamsport, for the purpose of carrying on the wholesale lumber business and manufacturing all kinds of lumber.

Shortly after 1870 Mr. Merritt took his younger brother, A. Howard Merritt, into partnership, and they traded under the name of Merritt Brothers until 1880, building up a very extensive business, and shipping lumber to all parts of the country. Disposing of their business at Williamsport, the firm purchased the well-established lumber stand of Boas & Raudenbush, at Reading, and moving to that place have since been engaged in the retail lumber business in a very extensive and successful manner, having in the past thirty years supplied a large proportion of lumber used in the construction of the many thousand buildings which were erected in Reading during this time.

Immediately after locating in Reading, Mr. Merritt identified himself with its numerous local affairs, but more especially of a business nature and the enterprising men of the community soon learned to appreciate his worth by selecting him to fill prominent positions and cooperating with him in establishing financial institutions. His first public position was on the board of health. This was in 1882, and he officiated on the board ever since. Becoming interested in public charities, he participated in the proceedings of the Reading Benevolent Society, and served the Society as its president; and he served the Associated Charities of Reading as vice-president. When the State of Pennsylvania established the large hospital in Berks county near Wernersville in 1894, for chronic insane, he was selected by Governor Pattison as one of the first trustees and he was reappointed by Governor Pennypacker for a third term.

Picture of Thomas P. MerrittMr. Merritt assisted in organizing the Pennsylvania Trust Company in 1886, and the Reading National Bank in 1893, and he has served on the board of directors of each body from their inception until now. He was also one of the projectors of the Reading Electric Light & Power Company for supplying light and power by electricity (this eventually becoming the property of the Metropolitan Electric Company); of the Reading Steam Heat & Power Company for supplying steam heat to dwellings and public buildings n the central portion of the city; and of the beautiful suburban town Wyomissing, two miles west of Reading along the main thoroughfare.

The municipal affairs of Reading attracted Mr. Merritt's earnest attention, and to put himself in a position to favor them he became a member of the Board of Trade. When councils established the park board in 1886, they selected him as one of the first four commissioners, and he officiated until 1890--the first important step in the creation of the park system having been taken during this time. In 1894 he was elected president of the Board of Trade, and he filled this position very successfully for four years. During his incumbency the first steps were taken toward a proper celebration of the Sesqui-Centennial of Reading in 1898, which culminated in a most successful demonstration. Upon the reorganization of the Historical Society of Berks county in 1898 he became a member of the Society, and he was selected as one of the executive council, which position he has served since then. And about this time he was appointed by councils as one of the trustees of the Reading Library, and he has served by reappointment until now. He represented Pennsylvania as one of the Commissioners to the World's Fair at Chicago in 1893, by appointment of Governor Pattison.

When Mr. Merritt reached his majority, he identified himself with the Democratic party, and has been a stanch advocate of its principals ever since. Upon fixing his residence at Reading, he at once manifested a keen interest in local politics through the party, and this gave him great public prominence before the people; indeed, so prominent had he become by 1890 that the Democrats placed his name on their ticket for mayor, and he was elected, evidencing his unusual popularity. During his official term, from 1890 to 1893, numerous important questions were considered, more particularly such as related to improved lighting, streets and sewers, and they received his earnest encouragement.

Mr. Merritt was made a Freemason in 1867 at Norristown, becoming a member of Charity Lodge, No. 190, and he still retains his membership in that lodge; he was made a Knight Templar in Hutchinson Commandery, No. 32, but he transferred his membership to Reading Commandery, No. 42, of which he was eminent commander in 1888. He has taken the thirty-third degree.

Immediately after locating in Reading, Mr. Merritt was admitted to membership in Christ Episcopal Church, and he has since then shown much interest in the welfare of the congregation. He has served as a vestryman since 1886.

Mr. Merritt married Emma P. Rambo Nov. 30, 1871. She is a daughter of Nathan Rambo and Ann Broades (Currie-Ross), his wife, who are descendants of the oldest families in the Schuylkill Valley in the vicinity of Norristown, Pennsylvania.


p. 1058


Allen G. Mertz, an enterprising and energetic citizen of Mount Penn borough, Berks county, where he is engaged in the retail milk business, was born Sept. 26, 1873 in Longswamp township, Berks county, son of Charles and Catherine (Gerr) Mertz.

The Mertz family is quite numerous in Berks and surrounding counties, and the name is perpetuated by the town Mertztown, in Longswamp township, and Mertz's church in the same section. Johannes Martz (also Maertz), son of Johannes Martz, of Stockhausen, Wurtemberg, Germany, came to America in 1749. In 1756 he married Rosina Hase, daughter of Melchior Hase, and their children were: Johannes, born 1757; Anna Maria, 1760; Maria Salome, 1763; Melchior, 1765; and Peter, 1769-1833.

Peter Mertz, son of Johannes, m. in 1793, Catharine Phillips, of Bern township, and had children, Christina, John, Peter, Samuel, Kate, Rosina and Elizabeth. Peter, the father, was born in Oley township, but died at Orwigsburg, where he had lived some years.

Charles Mertz, a descendant of Johannes Martz, was an agriculturist of Longswamp township. He died there in 1873 when still in young manhood. By his wife Catherine Gerr, he had two children: Reuben, a carriage maker of Mertztown; and Allen G. His widow married (second) Lewis Roeder, by whom she had five children, and died in 1882, at the age of about thirty-six years.

Allen G. Mertz received but meager educational advantages, being compelled to go to work at an early age, as his father had died when he was but four months old. He was hired out on the farm of Daniel Otto in Lehigh county, where he continued for seven and one-half years, and continued working on farms at different places until 1896, with the exception of four years, having spent two years at shoe mending, which he had learned from a Mr. Berlin, of Reading, and two years in the Reading car shops. He is an excellent mechanic, but was forced to give up this work on account of poor health. In 1893 he went from Lehigh county to Reading, where he resided until 1899, and in the later year located in Mount Penn, where he has made his home ever since. In 1900 he engaged in the milk business, running a team daily to Reading, where he retails 150 quarts daily. In 1906 Mr. Mertz erected a handsome residence on Friedensburg avenue, Mount Penn, and here he has since resided. In politics he is a Republican, and he is fraternally connected with the Jr. O. U. A. M. as a charter member of Council No. 753, Allentown, which was organized in 1889. In religious belief he and his wife are Lutherans, and attend Mt. Penn Chapel. He was confirmed by the late Rev. Mr. Leopold, at Cetronia Church in Lehigh county.

In the year 1900, Mr. Mertz married Ida Kuhns, daughter of Francis and Messena (Schneck) Kuhns and granddaughter of George and Angelina (Bachman) Kuhns, both parents and grandparents being farming people of Macungie township, Lehigh county. Mr. And Mrs. Mertz have one son, Irwin Allen, born Sept. 19, 1900, who is now attending school.


p. 1614


Elias Y. Mertz, residing near Moselem Springs, Richmond township, Berks county, has been a tenant farmer for the past twenty-one years on the farm of John Madeira, which consists of 101 acres of land in an excellent state of cultivation. Mr. Mertz was born May 2, 1858, in Richmond township.

The progenitor of the Mertz family in America was Johannes Mertz, who was one of 242 passengers on the ship "Ann," which sailed from Rotterdam, last from Cowes. He was a son of Johannes Mertz of Stockhausen, Wurtemberg, about thirty-five miles northwest of Frankfort-on-the-Main, and forty miles northeast of Coblentz, in Germany. Johannes Mertz, the emigrant, landed at Philadelphia Sept. 28, 1749. He settled in the vicinity of Lyons, Berks county, and the church located near his home was named Mertz church in honor of him. The births of his first four children are recorded there. On May 24, 1756, he married Rosina Hase, daughter of Melchior Hase. Their children were: Johannes, born July 17, 1757; Anna Maria, born Dec 2, 1760; Maria Salome, born May 24, 1763; Melchior, born April 11, 1765; and Peter, born March 9, 1769, in Oley township, died June 16, 1833, at Orwigsburg, PA., where he is buried. Peter married Catharine Philips, of Bern township, Berks county, born in 1770, died in 1853, and their children were: Christina (1799-1884); John (1801-1880); Peter; Samuel; Kate (m. Jacob Bock) Rosina (m. Jacob Deibert); and Elizabeth (m. Jacob Runkel).

Abraham Mertz, grandfather of Elias Y., was a grandson of Johannes, the immigrant, and was born in 1792. He was a land owner and farmer in Maiden-creek township, and he died at the age of ninety-two years after a useful and well spent life. He married a Miss Hoch, and they had the following children: John, Amos, Susan, Abraham, Daniel, Isaac and Mary.

Isaac Mertz, son of Abraham and father of Elias Y., was born in Pike township, Berks county, in 1831, and he died in 1902. He became a farmer in Richmond township, following that vocation until he removed to the borough of Fleetwood, where he purchased a home and lived retired for the remainder of his days. In 1857 he married Florenda Yoder, and to this union were born: Jonathan, a huckster of Richmond township; Elias Y.; Maria, wife of William Schlegel, a farmer of Rockland township; and Clara, wife of Fred Bausher, of Fleetwood.

Elias Y. Mertz was reared to farm work early in life, and he has continued to follow that occupation all of his life. His educational advantages were limited, and for several short terms he attended the Centre school of the township of his nativity. Mr. Mertz made the best of his opportunities, and improved himself during spare moments. In 1884 he married Hettie A. Merkel, of Richmond township, and to this union were born: Katie B.; John M., a student at the Keystone State Normal School at Kutztown; Herbert M.; Stella M.; and Lizzie M. Mr. Mertz is an intelligent and much respected citizen. In politics he is a Democrat, and has taken an active interest in the welfare of his party. For the past twenty years he has attended county conventions, and his support and influence are always sought by candidates for office. For three years he served his township as school director. He is industrious and enterprising, keeping his property in the best condition possible, and practically taking advantage of all improvements in method and machinery. He owns a great deal of fine stock.


p 1404


G. Fred Mertz, a builder and prominent business man of Reading, Pa. was born in Rommelshausen, Wurtemberg, Germany and came to America in 1868 settling in Philadelphia for a short time, after which he located in Reading.

On locating in this city, Mr. Mertz found employment at baking in a bakery owned and conducted by Catharine Gertzinger, and he remained in her employ for four years and six months, when he purchased the establishment and operated it on his own account for about twenty-five years. After being in business at 619 Chestnut for twelve years, he found his bakery too small, and erected a modern bakery at 623-625 Chestnut Street. He installed the first continuous bake-oven in Reading. Wishing to direct his attentions in other channels, Mr. Mertz sold his bakery to his son, Albert, who still conducts it and engaged in the ice and cold storage business at Eleventh and Bern streets, but after one year here, he found the demands were so great that he had to have larger plant, and he founded the Keystone Ice and Cold Storage Co., of which he became president. He remained at the head of this company for five years, after which he retired and spent one year traveling in Europe, and on returning to this country, engaged in building operations, becoming very successful in that line. In company with his son-in-law J. F. Christman in 1905. Mr. Mertz built fifty houses, with all modern conveniences, ranging in price from $2,000 up.

Mr. Mertz is deeply interested in the growth and development of Reading, and any movement that tends to elevate its moral and social tone is staunchly supported by him. In politics he is independent. He is connected with Teutonia Lodge, F. & A. M., Reading Chapter, Reading Commandery and Rajah Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S.

Mr. Mertz married in 1873 Miss Joanna H. Fischer, a native of Pennsylvania, and three children have been born to this union: Caroline, who married J. F. Christman; Elizabeth, who married. P. H. Fisher; and Albert, a baker. In religious belief, Mr. Mertz is a Lutheran, as are all the members of his family.


p. 763


Isaac Mertz, who at the time of his death, Sept. 18, 1902, was living retired in Fleetwood borough, Berks county, was for a number of years engaged in farming in Ruscombmanor township, where he was born Feb. 12, 1826. Mr. Mertz was educated in his native township, and was reared to agricultural pursuits on his father's farm, continuing at this occupation until his retirement, when he removed to Fleetwood borough. He was connected with the Reformed Church.

Isaac Mertz was married Dec. 6, 1853, to Florenda Yoder, daughter of Reuben Yoder, and granddaughter of Jacob Yoder, both farmers of Pike township, who also engaged in tanning. Mrs. Mertz was born in Pike township, Oct. 20, 1827, but since her husband's decease has resided at Fleetwood. To Mr. and Mrs. Mertz were born seven children: Reuben; Jonathan m. Ludema Leibensperger; Eli m. Hettie Merkel; Maria m. William Schlegel; Edwin and Annie died in infancy; and Clara m. (first) Peter Berg (who died in 1892) and (second) Alfred Bauscher.

The father of Isaac Mertz was Abraham Mertz, also of Ruscombmanor township, where he was born in 1791, and reared to farming. He died in 1883. Abraham Mertz m. Eva Hoch, and to them were born seven children, as follows: John m. (first) Anna Warener and (second) Sarah Taylor; Susan m. John Merkel; Daniel m. Polly Kohler; Amos m. Sallie Yoder; Isaac m. Florenda Yoder; Mary m. Jacob Van Buskirk; and Abraham m.Susannah Hoch, a daughter of Gen. William Hoch.


p. 1519


Moses Mervine, of No. 929 North Third street, Reading, who now lives a retired life except for taking care of his real estate interests in Centre and Amity townships, Berks county, was born in 1836, in Shoemakersville, Berks county, son of William P. and Mary M. (Yeiser) Mervine.

William P. Mervine was born on a farm situated along Maiden-creek, which is now owned by the Halley estate, where he lived until fourteen years of age, when he went to Centre township and there engaged in farming, later purchasing a property, which he operated for the balance of his life, and which is now owned by his son, Moses. Mr. Mervine died aged about seventy-two years, and his wife passed away in her sixty-fifth year, both in the faith of the Presbyterian Church. Mr. Mervine was a Whig until 1858, when he joined the ranks of the Republican party. They were the parents of five children: a son and a daughter who died in infancy; Moses; John, of Reading, and William, deceased.

Moses Mervine received his education in the schools of Centre township, and when still a lad engaged in farming on the home place, where he remained until thirty years of age. He then embarked in the butchering and cattle business which he carried on extensively for twenty-four years, but since 1903 he has lived practically retired. Mr. Mervine was married (first) to Angeline Becker, daughter of Samuel K. Becker, and to this union there were born nine children, five of whom are now living: Thomas; Joseph; Annie, who married Mahlon Clearer; Fannie, who married Dr. Miller; and Sallie, who is single and resides at home. Mr. Mervine's second marriage was to Mrs. Emma (Snyder) Hepler. Mr. and Mrs. Mervine attend the Presbyterian Church, and are well known and esteemed people of their community.


p. 1538


Archibald Messner, a substantial farmer of Berks county, Pa., whose valuable 150 acre tract is situated in Brecknock township, was born May 9, 1857, in the Allegheny valley, son of Archibald and Sally (Gehman) Messner.

Christian Messner, the grandfather of Archibald, Jr., was a farmer near the "Druck Hotel" in Lancaster county, where he died, and was buried at the Center Church, of which he had been a Reformed member. He married Magdalena Steffy, and to them were born four children: Betsey m. Samuel Gehman, of Adamstown; Harry died young; Jesse, who lived in Lancaster county, had three children, Matilda, Christian, and Joshua; and Archibald was the father of Archibald, Jr.

Archibald Messner was born Aug. 20, 1822, and died March 12, 1889. In early life he engaged in farming in Brecknock township, but in later years came to Cumru township, where he cultivated a fine farm of 140 acres. He was a highly esteemed citizen, was a member of the Mennonite Church, and was buried at the Allegheny Meeting House. His wife, whose maiden name was Sally Gehman, was born Oct. 3, 1819. They had children as follows: Fannie, m. to Aaron White, deceased; Christian, who lives at Denver, Lancaster county; Samuel, who lives at White Bear; John, who lives near Geiger's Mill; Elias, who lives in Brecknock township; Archibald; Lizzie Ann, m. to William Mertz, a farmer at Allegheny Church; Daniel G., of Oakbrook; and Henry, a farmer of Cumru township.

Archibald Messner received his education in the schools of his native locality, and in 1879 began farming on his own account on his father-in-law's farm, which he tenanted for twenty-one years. In 1903 he purchased the old Gebhart farm of 150 acres, one of the best in the township, and there he still continues. Mr. Messner has a stand at the Bingaman Street market house in Reading, and makes a specialty of truck farming. In politics he is a Democrat, while his religious connections are with Allegheny Lutheran Church, of which he was a deacon for six years. In 1879 Mr. Messner was married to Sarah Elizabeth Kachel, born Nov. 23, 1860, daughter of Benjamin and Louisa (Kramer) Kachel. Eight children were born to this union: Daniel C., a farmer of Brecknock township, m. Louisa Kramer; Emma L., m. Isaac Wert; Sallie E.; Wayne E.; Katie V.; Charles B. died in childhood; and a son and a daughter died in infancy.

Last Modified Thursday, 16-Oct-2008 20:55:23 EDT

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