Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals by Morton Montgomery


p. 1014


The Pilgert family is descended from:

(I) George Pilgert, who was born in Longswamp township, and who died in 1872, and was buried in the Mertztown Church Cemetery. He was a tailor and farmer by occupation, and a lifelong resident of Longswamp township, at what is known as Pilgert's schoolhouse, of which he was supervisor for many years. George Pilgert married Diana Feigley, a daughter of Henry Feigley, born April 19, 1774, who died at the age of ninety-seven years. She was born 1805, in Longswamp township, and died at the advanced age of ninety-five years and is buried in Mertztown Church Cemetery. They had eight children: Isaac; Willoughby m. Mary Eck; Henry E.; Reuben m. Sarah Schoedler, deceased; George M., deceased, m. Maria Howe; Judith died unmarried; Isabella m. a Mr. Bitting, deceased; Rebecca m. William Jacobs.

(II) Henry E. Pilgert, father of Henry P., was born on the homestead Nov. 20, 1831, and is now seventy-seven years old and still active, working every day. He was a cigar maker by trade, but did not follow it after the Civil war. He did not serve in the war on account of a small defect in his ankle. His two brothers, George M. and Willoughby, served, however, for some time, and later were pensioned. On May 31, 1857, Henry E. Pilgert married Maria Smith, born May 31, 1838, died May 3, 1891.They had six children: Sarah died at the age of fifteen years; Helena m. George W. Ketterer, of Allentown, and died at the age of forty-two; Henry P.; Catharine, born Sept. 5, 1868, m. William E. Ketterer, and resides at Reading ; George E., born Feb. 11, 1874, m. Maleria Reeser, and they reside at Allentown, where he is a bookkeeper for the Trexler Lumber Company; Maria Isabella, born Aug. 22, 1876, m. Luther P. Fritch, and they live at home.

(III) Henry P. Pilgert was born in Mertztown March 9, 1864, and was educated in the local schools of the district, and later at the Keystone State Normal School at Kutztown. For some years he was a public school teacher, and for two years he clerked in a wholesale dry goods house in Philadelphia. In the spring of 1891 he took charge of the station of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad as agent and telegrapher, at Mertztown, and at the same time acted as postmaster, from 1893 to 1897. In 1901 he entered the coal, grain and lumber business which he has been conducting successfully ever since. In 1900 he was elected justice of the peace, and this office he still holds with credit, his commission not expiring until 1910, which will complete his two terms.

On Oct. 22, 1887, Mr. Pilgert married Ella J. Dankel, a daughter of Reuben Dankel, and his wife Sophia Staufer. Mr. and Mrs. Pilgert have two children: Henry Payne, born May 11, 1902; Julia Frances, born March 27, 1908. In politics Mr. Pilgert is a Democrat, and he has held various minor offices, such as school controller, treasurer of the board of supervisors, as well as the other offices already mentioned. The family are members of the Lutheran and Reformed churches at Mertztown and Longswamp, and they are very highly respected.


p. 959


George Planer, a citizen of Mount Penn borough, Berks Co., Pa., residing in his home on Perkiomen avenue, was born March 24, 1837, in Hollenbach, Oberamt-Kunzelsau, Kingdom of Wurtemberg, Germany, son of Frederick Planer.

Frederick Planer was a farmer in Germany, owning a tract of eighty acres, a tavern in the town of Hollenbach, and a small brewery, in which he manufactured the beer used in the tavern. He was born about 1794, and died in 1860. At the time of the latter event his son George was sought, and advertisements placed in the newspapers of this country to locate him, but he was not found until it was too late for him, as oldest son, to claim his father's property. Frederick Planer's first wife died when George Planer was eight years old. She was the mother of George : Barbara, who remained single; and Sophia, who died aged four years. Mr. Planer's second wife's name was Barbara, and they had six children, of whom Karl and Sophia are the only surviving members.

George Planer was educated in the German schools of his native country, and after leaving school at the age of fourteen years, he worked for his father for four years, driving a four-horse team, hauling freight. He started for America Feb. 22, 1856, and after a seventy-two days voyage- sixty days of which were very stormy, during which time thirteen sailors were swept overboard and one of them drowned- he finally landed at Castle Garden, N. Y. He immediately started for Kittanning, Armstrong Co., Pa., where he learned the cabinet making trade from Godlieb Hartig, serving the regular apprenticeship of three full years. For the next three years he traveled from Pittsburg to New Orleans, along the Ohio and Mississippi and up the Wabash river for 100 miles, following cabinet making and carpentering, repairing steamships and building houses. When the war broke out Mr. Planer was in the neutral State of Kentucky, which finally became unpleasant for those following the pursuits of peace and he removed to Philadelphia, where he enlisted in the Union army, although he had been offered $500 in gold to become a Confederate soldier. He enlisted as a private in Company F, 5th Pa. Cav., Aug. 4, 1861, for three years or during the war, and served his full term of service, a part of which time he was detailed by Hon. Edward M. Stanton, Secretary of War, for special duty in erecting of telegraph lines. In this work he rendered faithful and valuable service to his adopted country.

After the war Mr. Planer followed carpentering for several months in Philadelphia, and in 1866 located in Reading, where he worked at his trade for ten years, building houses for himself and working for others, but in the fall of 1876, the day after the Presidential election, he located upon a fifty-two acre farm in Exeter township, below Neversink Station, a property he had purchased some time before. Here he resided twenty-seven years, and on July 26, 1903, he removed to his present home on Perkiomen avenue, Mount Penn, where he has since lived. Mr. Planer is independent in politics, and he and his family are members of the German Lutheran Church of Reading.

On Sept. 3, 1866, Mr. Planer married Lydia Bowman, daughter of Peter and Rebecca (Reissmiller) Bowman, and to them were born eleven children as follows: Pauline m. John Hart, an iron worker of Seibert's Rolling Mill; William P., who is railroading in Reading, m. Alice Lorah; George died in infancy; Harry F., who is an iron worker of Seibert's Rolling Mill, m. Clara Ludwig; Edward, who is a blacksmith of Naomi, Berks county, m. Nora Price; Thomas, who is a carpenter of Reading, m. Marguerite Zeiber; Alfred O., single, is a puddler; Maggie m. Tobias Kerns, a barber of St. Lawrence, Pa.; Miss Clara is at home; Irwin died aged eleven months, fifteen days; and Paul S. is single and resides at home.


p. 467


Charles M. Plank, a lawyer of Reading, who has been somewhat prominent in Republican politics for a number of years, is descended from French-Huguenot stock. His grandfather, Jacob Plank, resided in Cambridge, Lancaster county.

Adam Plank, father of Charles, was a farmer in Lancaster county in the early part of his career, but later moved to Reading, where he was in business until his death, in 1880, at the age of seventy-two years. He married Joanna Moll, daughter of John and Elizabeth Moll, of Salisbury township, Lancaster county. Of their eight children, five are deceased, as follows: Winfield Scott, who died when four years old; Margaret; Elizabeth, who died at the age of twenty-one; Catharine, who died aged fifty; and Mary. The survivors are : Jennie P., wife of James A. Lanning, of Camden, N. J.; Ida M., wife of Henry M. Philippi, of Reading; and Charles M.

Charles M. Plank was born Sept. 23, 1860, and was reared in Reading, where he received good school advantages. He graduated from the high school in the class of 1876, and for three years thereafter taught school. Having decided upon the law as his life work, he began to study in the office of the late Daniel H. Wingerd, passed the examination in 1881, and at once began practice. In the ensuing years he has acquired a very comfortable clientele and been admitted to the Superior, Supreme, United States District and United States Circuit courts. He has confined himself principally to private practice, yet at various times he has been engaged in legal work in the public service, for four years acting as assistant city solicitor, for three years as solicitor for the school board and for three years as deputy collector of Internal Revenue.

Mr. Plank has given considerable attention to public affairs. He is a good "mixer," and a valuable man in Republican councils. He has been chairman of the Republican county committee for ten years and his face is a familiar one in all the local conventions of his party, and in State and national conventions as well, he having been delegate to State conventions nineteen times. He was a delegate in 1896 to the national convention in St. Louis which nominated McKinley. Mr. Plank's name has given strength to the local Republican ticket in several elections, and in 1896 he was the candidate of his party for State senator. He was leading a known forlorn hope, however, so that his defeat was not a disappointment. He came out of the contest with the rather startling record of having carried the city of Reading by a plurality of 2,380 votes, and he came within 1,382 votes of carrying the district. Mr. Plank is a communicant of the Episcopal Church, with membership at Christ Cathedral in Reading.

Mr. Plank married Sept. 29, 1897, Helen A. Althouse, daughter of the late Franklin A. Althouse, who for forty-one years was in the railroad service.


p. 976


Isaac Plank, who was actively and successfully engaged in the mercantile business, at the "Half-way House," in Maiden-creek township, Berks county, was born Aug. 23, 1830, in Caernarvon township, this county, and died at Blandon, May 11, 1908.

His great-grandfather, Dr. Jacob Plank, was as far as is known the pioneer physician of Berks county. He was a French Huguenot and settled in Oley township soon after the first settlement of that region, where in 1729 he signed a petition with other early settlers asking for the erection of that township. It is not known who his wife was, but he had four sons : Michael, John, Peter, and Jacob.

Peter Plank, the grandfather of Isaac, was born in Oley township, in 1748, and some years prior to the Revolution moved to the head-waters of the Conestoga, in Caernarvon township, where he purchased a large tract of farming land, and followed agricultural pursuits all his life. He was married to Frances (Franey) Kauffman, daughter of John Kauffman, a leading farmer of Chester county, and they had these children: Maria, born in 1783; Jacob, in 1785; John, in 1787; Christopher, in 1789; Christian, in 1791; Elizabeth, in 1793; Anna, in 1798; Samuel, 1801, and David in 1804. In religious belief Peter Plank was an Amish Mennonite, and for fifty years prior to his death served as a bishop, having charge of all the congregations in Berks, Chester, and Lancaster counties.

Christian Plank, father of Isaac, married (first) a Miss Look, by whom he had no children, and (second) Mary Hart, there being three children born to the latter marriage: Isaac ; Samuel, who resides at Joanna; and Peter, deceased.

Isaac Plank was educated in the Friend's School of Maiden-creek township, and later attended Thomas Willet's pay school and Captain Meredith's school. After completing his education he hired out to George Lee, of Chester county, with whom he learned coach-making; and in 1855 went to Maiden-creek township and engaged in a mercantile business at Evansville. In 1860 he located at the "Half-way House" and conducted a store business there until 1894, when he retired and then established his residence at Blandon, a mile distant, where he lived in retirement until his decease. During his business career he showed great fondness for travel, having made several trips to California, and attended expositions at Chicago and Buffalo. Mr. Plank was made a Free Mason in Lodge No. 62, F. & A. M., at Reading, in 1872, and manifested an active interest in the welfare of lodge for many years. On numerous occasions he drove to Reading from the Half-way House to attend the meetings, and being of a friendly, sociable nature enjoyed them very much. He was highly regarded for his superior character, and showed a generous disposition to worthy persons, but without ostentation.


p. 1552


J. L. Plank, who for a number of years has held the office of justice of the peace in Caernarvon township, is a substantial agriculturist of Morgantown, where he owns a valuable property. Mr. Plank was born Sept. 21, 1848, son of David K. and Susan H. (Evans) Plank, and the grandson of Jacob Plank. David K. Plank, who was born Oct. 21,1821, was for many years connected with the Keystone State Bank of Reading, Pa., and was a well-known and highly esteemed citizen. Two sons were born to David K. Plank and his wife: J. L.; and Charles M., who is yardmaster of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad, at Mahanoy City.

J. L. Plank received his education in the common schools of Lancaster county, and early in life engaged in agricultural pursuits, which he has followed successfully to the present time. He has been prominent in Republican politics, having for some years been a school director and justice of the peace. He and his family are members of the Morgantown Methodist Episcopal Church, where he is serving as trustee.

Mr. J. L. Plank was united in marriage with Miss Jennie Foreman, born April 1, 1850 and to them there have been born five children. (1) Wanita Florence; (2) Harry F. m. Sara Adella Kurtz, by whom he has two children: David K., born June 30, 1901; and Luther, born July 20, 1906. (3) Edward H. m. Eva Duchman, by whom he has four children- Grace Mildred, Ethel D., Frederick and Donald. (4) D. Ralph. (5) A. Earl.


p. 1346


Frank Plowfield, of Reading, who is engaged in the manufacture of artificial ice at No. 227 West Green street, was born Feb. 7, 1865, in Morgantown, Pa., son of Frederick and Christiana (Graeff) Plowfield.

Frederick Plowfield was born in Wurtemberg, Germany, and in his native country served in the standing army. When a young man he came to America and settled first in the Conestoga Valley, and later at a place where he engaged in farming and lime burning for several years. Later he purchased a farm near Joanna Furnace, and there the rest of his life was spent, his death occurring in February, 1891, at the age of seventy-two years. His widow survived him until 1894, and she passed away in her seventy-second year. They were members of the Lutheran Church, and the parents of children as follows: Mary, born in 1847, m. George Miller, Joseph, born in 1848, Jacob, born in 1850, Ludwig, born in 1853, Eliza, born in 1854, m. William Hunsberger; Catherine, born in 1855, m. John Hartenstine; Annie born in 1857, m. Herman Bandles; Emma B., born in 1859, m. Theodore Bush; William, born in 1861; John born in 1863; Frank; Ella, born in 1867.

Frank Plowfield was educated in the common schools of his native locality and his first employment was on a farm, on which he worked until about twenty-four years old. In 1889 he moved to Gibraltar, Berks county, where he drove a team until 1891, and in the latter year located in Reading and engaged as a driver for the Excelsior Bottling Works. After one year at this occupation he engaged in the coal and flour business with Francis Keller, and in this continued for four years, in 1897 engaging in the ice business, in which he has continued to the present time. He has two delivery teams, using the extra one for afternoon service, and employs three assistants. He has a storage plant, although he buys the ice direct from the manufacturers, and his trade is large and constantly increasing. Mr. Plowfield owns a valuable residence at No. 1230 Oley street, Reading, in which he resides.

In 1891 Mr. Plowfield married Sarah H. Merkle, daughter of William and Mary A. (Noll) Merkle, and to this union have been born two children: William F. and Harvey H. In religious belief Mr. And Mrs. Plowfield are Lutherans. He is a Republican in politics and his fraternal connections are with the Foresters of America; Harmony Fire Relief Association and Schuylkill Fire Company.

Last Modified Thursday, 16-Oct-2008 20:56:41 EDT

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