Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals by Morton Montgomery


p. 793


Charles Philip Muhlenberg was born at Lancaster, Pa., Nov. 24, 1838, fifth son of Dr. F. A. Muhlenberg. His education was begun at home, but he also attended the common schools of his native city, and in 1853 entered the sophomore class at Pennsylvania College, Gettysburg, graduating from that institution in 1856. He began the study of law with Nathaniel Ellmaker, Esq., of Lancaster, and concluded his legal studies in the office of J. Pringle Jones, being admitted to the Berks county Bar in 1859, from which time until the opening of the Civil war, he practiced his profession in Reading. In April 1861, he became a member of the Ringgold Light Artillery. The following month he was commissioned as first lieutenant in the 5th United States Artillery Regiment, and served as an officer of artillery during the whole of the war. He received the brevet of captain for services in the Peninsular campaign; received the brevet of major for gallant conduct at the battle of Antietam; was in the campaign of the Wilderness and of Petersburg under General Grant, and resigned from the army at the close of 1867 to resume the practice of his profession in Reading. He died in January 1872, at the early age of thirty-four years.


p. 440


Henry Augustus Muhlenberg (1), clergyman, Congressman, and first Picture of Henry Augustus Muhlenbergminister to Austria, was born at Lancaster, Pa., May 13, 1782. He was the eldest son of Rev. Henry E., and grandson of Rev. Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, the American ancestor of the family who, in 1741, emigrated from Saxony as a missionary of the Lutheran Church to the German population of Pennsylvania.

According to the wishes of his father Henry A. Muhlenberg studied theology under the Rev. Dr. Kunze, of New York, and in 1802 he became pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church at Reading, Berks county, and continued there for twenty-seven years. His health becoming impaired, he resolved to withdraw from ministerial duties and retire to a farm, but his fellow-citizens, who had long admired his consistent support of Democratic principles, solicited him to represent the district in Congress and he was elected. In December, 1829, he took his seat at Washington, and gave his support to the administration of President Jackson. His views on the tariff question were moderate. He was opposed to the United States Bank, and coincided in all the views hostile to that institution which were expressed by the President, and it was he who, on Feb. 18, 1834, after more than two months of daily appeals on behalf of the banks, moved the previous questions. He retained for nine years his prominence as a member of the House. In 1835 he was a candidate of a portion of the Democratic party for the governorship of Pennsylvania, but was defeated. In 1837, President Van Buren tendered him a seat in the cabinet as Secretary of the Navy, and afterward the Russian mission, but for private reasons he declined both positions. In 1838 he was named minister to Austria, and was unanimously confirmed, officiating at Vienna until the close of 1840. In 1844 he was nominated by the Democratic State Convention of Governor, and he accepted the nomination, but died suddenly on Aug. 11, 1844, two months prior to the election.

Mr. Muhlenberg was a man of studious habits and great learning, rather retiring in disposition, decidedly eloquent, and strong and forcible when his feelings or conscience were once aroused. His influence is attributable in large part to his sterling integrity of character, for when the community found that he was earnestly in favor of any public measure, they knew that he believed that measure to be just and were generally willing to adopt his estimate of it as correct. As a relief from his public duties Mr. Muhlenberg was a great lover of nature and outdoor sports, and spent quite a portion of his spare moments in hunting and fishing.

Mr. Muhlenberg was married twice: First to Elizabeth Hiester, daughter of Gov. Joseph Hiester, and they had one daughter, Mary Elizabeth (m. E. Johnathan Deininger); and second to Rebecca Hiester, also a daughter of Governor Hiester, by whom he had six children, Emma Elizabeth, Heister H., Henry A., Emma Elizabeth, Rose Catharine and Henry A. His first wife died in 1806, and the second in 1841.




Henry A. Muhlenberg 2d was born at Reading, July 21, 1823, son of Henry Augustus and Rebecca (Hiester) Muhlenberg, the latter the daughter of Gov. Joseph Hiester. He gained his preliminary education under the direction of his father, and at the age of fourteen years entered Jefferson College, at Canonsburg, Pa., where he remained one year, after which he became a member of the sophomore class at Dickinson College, at Carlisle, graduating from that institution in 1840. He was a close student, especially of the classics and history. From 1841 to 1844 he was engaged in the study of the law with Hon. J. Pringle Jones. He entered public life almost immediately. During his father's candidacy for Governor, in 1844, he displayed marked ability as his private secretary, and conducted all his father's correspondence during the canvass. In 1846, when the Mexican war broke out, he raised a company of volunteers in Reading, and personally tendered their services to the Governor, but the complement of Pennsylvania having already been filled he offer was declined. In the county convention of 1846, he and his brother Hiester, the president of that body, were mainly instrumental in causing the adoption of a resolution approving of the principles of the tariff of 1842, and demanding that, as is was passed by Democratic votes, it should receive a fair consideration form a Democratic Congress. He also delivered a speech in the same body on the Oregon question, in which he strongly favored the claims of the United States to all that district of country lying south of the parallel of 54 degrees 40 minutes. In 1847 and 1848 he was occupied in writing a "Life of General Peter Muhlenberg, " of Revolutionary fame which was published early in 1849, by Cary and Hart, Philadelphia, and was well received. It was dedicated to Jared Sparks, as a slight recognition of his services in elucidating our Revolutionary history.

In the fall of 1849 Mr. Muhlenberg was elected to the State Senate from Berks county, and served three years, 1850-52. He there acquired a reputation for integrity, eloquence and business ability. Shortly after taking his seat he delivered a speech on the supplement to the act incorporating the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Company, which greatly influenced the Senate in its decision to pass the measure. During the second part of his Senatorial career he was the democratic candidate for Speaker, thought the youngest member of that House, his competitor on the Whig side being Hon. John H. Walker, of Erie (the president of the Constitutional Convention of 1872-73). The Senate then contained sixteen Whigs, sixteen Democrats and one native American, and a majority of all who voted was required to elect. On the eighth ballot, and on the third day, when it was evident that no choice could be made, unless the Whig candidate should vote for himself the Democratic candidate along with Messrs. Packer and Guernsey, also Democrats, out of political courtesy, abstained from voting. Throughout the whole contest the two candidates respectively voted form Thomas Carson and William F. Packer. As chairman of a select committee to which was referred that portion of Governor Johnston's message for the 1851 treating of the care and preservation of the State archives, Mr. Muhlenberg reported a bill which became law, for the publication at the expense of the State of the records of the proprietary government and all papers relating to the Revolutionary war down to 1783. He was greatly instrumental in securing the passage of an act making a appropriation to continue the geological survey of the State, conducted by Professor Rogers. He favored also the building of new railroads to develop the resources of the Commonwealth, though he was opposed to the State granting any direct aid to the objects. During the whole of his Senatorial term he was, in the words of Hon. C. R. Buckalew, "The bulwark of the treasury against the assaults of outside interested parties." He was outspoken in defense of a tariff of such amount and so levied as to protect the great manufacturing interest of the country. He also thought that as iron was an indispensable requisite for any nation, to provide against the contingency of war, and to render the United States independent of any other country, a high, though not prohibitory duty, should be imposed on that article.

In the Senate and in the county conventions, he in connection with Judge Strong and other distinguished Democrats, demanded a modification of the tariff of f1846, in favor of the iron interest, in accordance with the views of Hon. Robert J. Walker, the author of that tariff-views expressed at the time of its passage. He was an earnest, opponent of slavery, and considered it "a curse to that community on which it was inflicted; no one could dislike it more than he did, nor did he ever wish to b thought the friend and advocate of the institution." In his devotion, however, to the Union, and in his desire to do away with all causes which might inflame one section of the country against the other, looking upon the compromise measures of 1850 as a solemn compact between the North and South, he thought those measures and the laws resulting from them should be executed fully, honestly and completely. His devotion to the Union was one of the cardinal principles of his political faith. The words used by his father in Congress, at the time of Clay's compromise act of 1833, might be placed in his mouth also, " The Union is the first and greatest of our national blessings, and to preserve it, nothing can or ought to be too precious. I go for the Union, the whole Union and nothing but the Union. It must be preserved, peaceably, if we can, forcibly if we must." No one who knew him intimately can doubt for a moment that had he lived until the crisis he would have been foremost in the van of those Democrats who, in the hour of greatest danger rushed to the rescue of their government and of their Union. At such a time he would not have been behind his brother Hiester, or his uncle Dr. F. A. Muhlenberg, of Lancaster, in forming that party which, in their opinion, held the true Democratic doctrine, in that it advocated the greatest good to the masses.

In July, 1852, Mr. Muhlenburg was nominated by acclamation the Democratic candidate for Congress in Berks county, and was elected the following October by a large majority. He left Reading late in November 1853, for Washington, and was present at the opening of the XXXIVth Congress, but he appeared in that body only one day. He was stricken down by illness, and though everything was done for him that was possible, and it was believed at one time that he was materially improved, a relapse occurred and he died Jan. 9, 1854, of hemorrhage and congestion of the lungs. His remains were laid to rest in the Charles Evans cemetery at Reading.

He was a warm and true friend; no act of kindness was ever forgotten by him, and nothing within the limits of possibility was deemed too difficult when done in the cause of a friend. His fearlessness in all departments of life was one of the most marked traits of his character; he never shunned bearing the responsibility of any of his actions he did what he considered his duty, no matter what the consequences might be. Above all, throughout all of his life he was a man of unswerving integrity and unblemished honor; he would do nothing, however great the inducements to the contrary, which could lower himself in his own esteem or in that of others. His standard was a very high one and when he believed himself to be right no power on earth could divert him from the path which honor, good faith, good feeling and his own judgment pointed out. He possessed an ample fortune, from which he was ever ready to contribute to all objects, whether charitable, religious, political or literary, which deserved his support.

As a citizen of Reading, Mr. Muhlenberg was foremost in advancing, by pen, tongue and purse all projects which could benefit or increase the prosperity of his native place. Had he lived, he would have written his name on the historical records of his county, and would have impressed his character on her legislation; cut off untimely in the flower of his youth, and in the very maturity of his powers, his loss was a great calamity to the Commonwealth.

Mr. Muhlenberg married in November, 1847, his cousin, Annie H., daughter of the late Dr. F. A. Muhlenberg, of Lancaster, Pa. He had only one child, Henry A. Muhlenberg 3d, who died in 1906.


p. 783


Henry A. Muhlenberg 3rd was born in Reading, Oct. 27, 1848.  He was educated privately, and subsequently spent a year at Pennsylvania College, Gettysburg, which he left to enter Harvard University in1868.  At Harvard he was both popular hand successful, and graduated with honors in history in the class of 1872.  After a short European trip he began to study law in the office of GeorgeF. Baer, Esq., being admitted to the bar of Berks County in 1875. He then devoted himself to the practice of his profession, thoughhe engaged more in office affairs and in the business side of law than in the active duties of court work.  He was a director in the Framers' National Bank, the Reading Trust Company, the Mount Penn Gravity Railroad, and the Reading City Passenger Railway Company,being for many years secretary and treasurer of the latter organization and one of its original members.  His connection with these concerns brought him in touch with the important business interests of the community and naturally influenced him to allow law to yield to business.  He was also a trustee of the Charles Evans Cemetery Company, a vestryman of Trinity Lutheran Church, and a member of the Valley Forge Park Commission, to which position he was appointed by two Governors of the State.  He was always a strong Republican, and spoke for and contributed to the party whenever such services were necessary.  In 1892 he was nominated for Congress on the Republican ticket, but, as the party was in a hopeless minority in the county, he failed of election.  He was an omnivorous and indefatigable reader, being interested in everything from the lightest fiction to the longest history, and possessed a fine library which he used to its full extent.  He was extremelygenerous, charitable both in action and in judgment, the soul of honor, and a Christian gentleman in the true sense of the word.  He never married, but almost all his life lived with his mother, Annie H. Nicolls, to whom he was devotedly attached and whose death he survived only for four months.  On May 14, 1906, he was found dead in his library, sitting in his chair with an open book in his lap.


p. 780


Hiester H. Muhlenberg, M. D., was born at Reading, Jan. 15, 1812, son of the distinguished Rev. Henry Augustus Muhlenberg, pastor of the Trinity Lutheran Church of Reading, afterward member of Congress and Ambassador to Austria, and at the time of his death the candidate of the Democratic party for Governor of Pennsylvania. His mother was Rebecca Hiester, daughter of Gov. Joseph Hiester.

Mr. Muhlenberg gained his preliminary education under the instruction of Rev. John F. Grier, in the Reading Academy. In 1826 he entered the sophomore class of Dickinson College, Carlisle, from which institution he was graduated with the class of 1829. Having chosen medicine as his profession, he began study in the office of Dr. Thomas Harris, a physician of excellent reputation in Philadelphia. He attended the medical lectures at the University of Pennsylvania during the winter of 1831 and 1832, and was graduated from that institution with the class of 1832. Dr. Muhlenberg began practice in his native city and continued it for eight years. During this period and for some years following he took an active interest in politics, and until the breaking out of the Civil war he remained a firm and consistent Democrat. During the Civil war he twice enlisted in the Pennsylvania State Volunteers - once before the battle at Antietam, and again after the battle of Gettysburg.

During the panic of 1837 the affairs of the Farmers Bank of Reading became very much involved, and the complete ruin of the bank seemed close at hand. The integrity, capacity and financial ability of Dr. Muhlenberg were so well known that he was placed temporarily in charge of the bank in order to restore its affairs to sound and healthy condition. His management of its affairs was so successful that he was induced to give up his intention of resuming his practice of medicine and urged to accept the position of cashier of the Farmers Bank in March, 1842. From that time until his death he was annually re-elected, serving continuously in that position for a period of forty-four years. The high standing and character of the cashier preserved the bank from embarrassment during the panic of 1857, the financial troubles incident to the Civil war and the financial crisis of 1873. During all these periods of financial depression the Farmers Bank of Reading always maintained the highest reputation for great financial strength and for the soundest business management. The success and reputation of the bank in all these years was mainly due to the ability and high character of its cashier.

Dr. Muhlenberg was for ten years a member of councils of the borough of Reading, and a member of the first councils after the city incorporation in 1850. Prior to the Civil war he took great interest and active part in the volunteer military organizations of his own county . He entered a noted company, called the Washington Grays, as a private, and afterward became lieutenant. During the Catholic riots of 1844, in Philadelphia, as lieutenant of the Washington Grays he formed part of the force sent to that city to assist in quelling the riot.

Dr. Muhlenberg was one of the original trustees of the Charles Evans Cemetery Company, and for many years was the president of that corporation. He was a director and president of the Reading Water Company. He was always a public spirited and enterprising citizen, and his generosity was well-known. He favored and assisted the development of his native city by every proper means within his power.

Dr. Muhlenberg was twice married, first to Amelia Hanold, and second to Catherine S. Hunter, both of Reading, Pa. By the second marriage he had seven children. He became a member of the Lutheran Church in 1830, and was a member of the vestry of Trinity for many years. He died May 5, 1886, survived by seven children, six of whom are still living.


p. 354


Dr. William F. Muhlenberg, physician at Reading since 1872,and a lineal descendant of Rev. Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, recognized as the founder of the Lutheran Church in America, was born in Gettysburg, Pa., Nov. 18, 1852, while his father was filling the position of Professor of Greek in the Pennsylvania College at that place.

His preliminary education was obtained at that institution, and he was graduated from Muhlenberg College at Allentown, Pa., in 1868, of which his father had he- come the president. Then he entered the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania. and graduated in 1872. Selecting Reading as a promising field for practising his chosen profession, he located in that city, won the confidence of the people, and soon secured a lucrative practice, which he has held until the present time. In 1884 he was appointed surgeon for the Pennsylvania Schuylkill Valley Railroad Company, for cases arising at and in the vicinity of Reading, and he has since served this position in a most satisfactory manner. During this long period he has also served as a surgeon at the Reading Hospital.

Dr. Muhlenberg has been an active member of the Berks County Medical Society, and also of the Reading Medical Society, for many years, having officiated as president of these bodies, and he is recognized by them as a most skillful surgeon, as well as a general practitioner. For social diversion, he has identified himself with the Wyomissing Club, and the Berkshire Club at Reading; also with the University Club and the Country Club at Philadelphia; in all of which he has shown great interest.

Dr, Muhlenberg was married, in 1884, to Augusta Muhlenberg; daughter of Hiester H. and Katherine (Hunter) Muhlenberg, of Reading, and by her he has three children; Hiester (who graduated from the Pennsylvania University in 1903); Frederick Augustus (who graduated from the Reading high school in 1904,and Pennsylvania College in 1908); and Augusta. His wife died in 1890. He and his children are members of Trinity Lutheran Church. His wife's father was prominently identified with the financial interest and enterprises of Reading for many years, having filled the office of cashier of the Farmers Bank from 1842 until his decease in 1866.

Rev. Dr. Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, father of the Doctor, was born at Lancaster in 1818 and died in Reading in 1901. He was very prominently connected with higher education in several colleges of Pennsylvania for sixty years, the last important position being that of professor of Greek at the University of Pennsylvania. His wife Catharine Muhlenberg, was daughter of Major Peter Muhlenberg, of Reading. She died in 1894 aged sixty-seven years. They had four sons; Ernest A., Henry M., Francis B., and William F.

Rev. Dr. Henry Ernest Muhlenberg, his great-grandfather, was also of Lancaster, and his maternal great-grandfather was the distinguished Revolutionary hero, Gen. Peter Muhlenberg.

Last Modified Thursday, 16-Oct-2008 20:55:32 EDT

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