Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals by Morton Montgomery


p. 702


Ranck. Early records show the Ranck family to be of French Huguenot origin, many of the family living in Paris in the sixteenth century. The name was then spelled Rance and Ranc. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and the attendant persecution, drove the family to Germany, where they located along the Rhine. Many of them changed the spelling of the name to Ranke or Ranck, according to the German historian, Leopold von Ranke, himself a member of the family. From Germany some of them moved to Holland, where their descendants still live.

Three brothers came to America. John Michael Ranck sailed on the good ship "Mortonhouse," John Coultas, master, from Rotterdam. last from Deal, June 15, 1724, and arrived in Philadelphia Aug. 24, 1724, and some of his posterity are now living in Lancaster county, Pa. Jacob Ranck arrived on a later voyage of the same vessel landing in Philadelphia, Aug. 19, 1729. Phillip Ranck came over in the ship "Winter Galley," Edw. Paynter, master, landing at Philadelphia, Sept. 5, 1738, and he was the ancestor of H. Herbert Ranck, of Joanna, Berks county.

Naturalization papers were granted to Phillip Ranck in 1760. His wife's name was Barbara. In 1770 he deeded land to his four sons: Jacob, Ludwig, Phillip Adam and John, and he also had a son Valentine. Of these Ludwig married and had twenty-four children, some of whom located in Ohio. Phillip Adam and John moved to Union county, Pennsylvania.

Jacob Ranck, son of Phillip and Barbara, was born Oct. 1, 1745, and died Sept. 13, 1827, aged eighty-two years, and was buried in Ranck's graveyard on the old farm. He married Margaretta Worst, who died Jan. 28, 1820, aged seventy-four years. They had five sons and two daughters, namely: John and Samuel, who were the only ones to marry; Abraham, Jacob, David, Barbara and Margaret.

Samuel Ranck, son of Jacob and Margaretta (Worst), had four children: David, who had two sons, Daniel and Edward, and died in Intercourse, Lancaster county; Samuel, moved to Carroll county, Illinois; and two daughters, one of whom married a Kessler, and the other a Wagner.

John Ranck, son of Jacob and Margaretta (Worst), was born in 1774, and died in 1845. He married Elizabeth Shively, a sister to his brother Samuel's wife, and they had eight children: Jacob, Barbara, Margaret (born Aug. 27, 1806, died Oct. 23, 1849, married Joseph Ranck), Ann, Elizabeth, Samuel, John and Catharine.

Valentine Ranck, son of Phillip the emigrant and his wife Barbara, died in 1813, the father of two sons, Michael; and Jacob, whose children were-John, Adam, Jacob, Samuel, Mrs. Benjamin Herr, and Mrs. Peter Eably.

Michael Ranck, son of Valentine, was a teamster in Washington's army. He had one son, Joseph, and five daughters, and of the latter one married a Yoder, one a Good, one a Musser, one a Witmer, and one a Shirk.

Joseph Ranck, son of Michael, married his cousin Margaret Ranck, born Aug. 27, 1806, died Oct. 23, 1849, daughter of John and Elizabeth (Shively) Ranck (above mentioned). To this union were born five children: Jonathan, who lives in western Iowa and had fifteen children, some of whom live in Chicago; Samuel, of Naperville, Ill., who has several daughters but no son; Elizabeth who married Lewis Emery, and lives in Illinois; and Joseph, of Naperville, Ill., who has a son who is a missionary in China and a daughter a missionary in Japan.

Amos Ranck, son of Joseph and Margaret (Ranck), married Rebecca White and had four sons and two daughters, namely: J. Clarence, of Denver, Colo.; Joseph A., living in Elsmere, Del.; H. Herbert, on the old homestead at Joanna; Florence M., living in Philadelphia; and Fannie E., wife of J. Warren Barkley, of Wilmington, Delaware.

H. Herbert Ranck married Clara M. Leippe, and has three daughters, Esther, Katherine and Margaret.

The Rancks were agricultural people, and lived near New Holland, Pa. The early members of the family adopted the Mennonite faith on locating in Lancaster county, but later many joined the Evangelical denomination, and many the United Brethren, who have a church known as Ranck's church.


p. 1115


Robert A. Rankin, an enterprising business man of Reading, Pa., who deals in roofing, spouting, cellar furnaces, etc., at No. 700 North Ninth street, was born Aug. 17, 1870, in Reading, son of John H. Rankin.

Henry Rankin, grandfather of Robert A., was a native of Scotland, and he died in Reading, burial being made at the Charles Evans cemetery. By occupation a contractor, Mr. Rankin was always an industrious, hardworking man, and he became a man of affairs, dying in comfortable circumstances. Among the work done by him may be mentioned the building of all the locks on the Schuylkill Canal between Port Clinton and Norristown. To him and his wife were born these children: Peter; John H.; William, who went to Oakland, Cal., during the gold rush in 1849, and died there; and Margaret, who died in Illinois.

John H. Rankin, father of Robert A., was born in a log cabin in the Blue Mountains of Upper Berks county, Dec. 20, 1837, and in 1861 entered the employ of the Reading Company. By strict attention to business, he won the respect of his employers, and for a number of years he was general foreman at the company's car shop, later becoming master car builder. In 1896 he was promoted to general store keeper, in which office he had general supervision of the supplies used by the company on the various divisions. The business transacted at the big storehouse is the same as any well regulated mercantile establishment. On Jan. 1, 1907, Mr. Rankin reached the age limit, but his services were regarded as so valuable to the company that the management decided to waive the limit in his case, and he assumed the title of superintendent of supplies now having charge of twenty-eight storehouses, located at principal points on the Reading system. Few officials are better known on the Reading, and more universally respected. He was chairman of the Philadelphia & Reading Y. M. C. A. from its organization in Reading until 1905, when he retired. He is, however, deeply interested in the work, and is a frequent visitor to the rooms of the association. Mr. Rankin married Mary E. Boas, and to this union there have been born eight children: William, Henry, Catherine, Robert A., Anna, Sarah, Edward, and Marguerite.

Robert A. Rankin attended the public schools, and at the age of sixteen years learned the trade of tinsmith from William B. Laucks, of Ninth and Washington streets. In 1893 he engaged in business on his own account at his present stand, where he has since been engaged. Mr. Rankin is an independent Republican. With his family he attends the Baptist Church, of which he is a deacon. Fraternally he is connected with Washington Camp No. 329, P. O. S. of A., Reading.

On June 11, 1896, Mr. Rankin married Carrie Castor, daughter of Edward and Mary (Martin) Castor, and they have had two children: Bryant L. and Stewart L.


p. 1269


Eli M. Rapp, county superintendent of public schools since 1896, was born at Friedensburg, Berks county, March 20, 1865, and when he was five years old his parents removed to Lyons, in Maxatawny township. He attended the township school and the Oley Academy, and after teaching public school for three years, entered the Keystone State Normal School, from which he graduated in 1886, having paid for his tuition by his own earnings. He also became a graduate of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle after a course of four years; and in 1894 he took a course in the University of Pennsylvania in pedagogy and psychology with laboratory courses. During this time he was principal of the Lyons grammar school, the Fleetwood high school, and the Hamburg high school. In 1896 he was elected county superintendent of the public schools, and he has been re-elected four times, his present term expiring in 1911, which evidences his success and popularity.

In 1886, he was married to Annie Merkel, daughter of William Merkel, of Fleetwood, by whom he has three children, Herbert, Scott and Maud.

Prof. Rapp is a son of Amos Rapp, who was engaged in the grain, coal and lumber business at Lyons for many years. His paternal and maternal ancestors came from Germany, and were among the early settlers of Berks county. On his mother's side he is a descendant of Rev. Jacob Miller, a Lutheran minister in the county from 1808 until his death in 1850, the last twenty-one years as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church of Reading.


p. 751


John W. Rapp, who is engaged in the building and contracting business, resides at No. 170 West Oley street, Reading, Pa. He was born April 5, 1870, at West Leesport, Pa., son of Alonzo and Susan (Drayer) Rapp, and grandson of John Rapp.

John Rapp, grandfather of John W., was an early settler and shoemaker, living in the vicinity of Leesport. He had four children: Washington, Thomas, Elmira (m. the late Dr. Snyder, of Leesport, and is deceased) and Alonzo.

Alonzo Rapp, son of John, was a railroader, and lived in Reading. He was born about 1849, and died in March, 1877, and is buried at Hinnershitz Church. He married Susan Drayer, and they had two sons and two daughters: Harry G., of Reading; John W.; and Minnie and Mary, who both died in infancy.

John W. Rapp secured his education in the schools of Reading, whither his parents had moved when he was a boy. At the age of fifteen years he learned the paper hanging and painting trade, and after following that occupation for some time engaged in the grocery and meat business at No. 704 North Sixth street, which business he followed there and at other places in Reading for six years. In 1905 Mr. Rapp engaged in the building business, and in this he has continued to the present time, erecting three modern stone residences on Weiser street.

Mr. Rapp was married to Miss Jennie Shadle, daughter of John and Mary Ann (Houpt) Shadle. Mr. and Mrs. Rapp have two children: Lloyd E. S., at school; and Marguerite S. Mrs. Rapp is a member of the Windsor Street M. E. Church. Mr. Rapp is connected with the P. O. S. of A., and the Sons of Veterans, his father having been a soldier in the Civil war.


p. 1667


One of the few dealers, indeed, if not the only one, who became a tenant of the Farmers' market, on Penn street, near Ninth, when it was first opened in 1872, and is still there, is William Rathje, of Cumru, whose farm is located half a mile from the Freeman post-office. Mr. Rathje was born March 8, 1839, in Hanover, Germany, son of Dietrich and Christian (Geskiske) Rathje.

Dietrich Rathje was born June 9, 1813, and in Germany was a trucker. He came to America in April, 1853, landing at New York City, from whence he came at once to Reading, Pa., being for three years employed at Fair's vineyard. He then removed to Cumru township, and purchased a farm of forty-eight acres of land, on which he remained several years, when he purchased the farm adjoining, this being his home until his death, in July, 1889, at the age of seventy-five years. Mr. Rathje married Christina Geskiske, who died Aug. 6, 1887, and to them were born: Mary, the wife of Christian Breidenstone of Cumru township; Dora, who married Peter Freeman, of Cumru township; William; and George C. and George H. D., both deceased.

William Rathje attended the schools of his native country and two months in America, after which he began working on his father's farm. At the age of twenty-four years he assumed charge of the stand of his father at the Reading market house on Penn square. Mr. Rathje had "stood" for his parent for ten years when, on April 26, 1863, he married Susan Bridenstein, daughter of Philip and Annie (Lebo) Bridenstein. Mr. Rathje then became an agriculturist himself and sold his products at the Penn square resort for nine years. Then the Farmers' West Reading and South Reading market houses were erected, and Mr. Rathje, in May, 1872, leased a stall in the first-named. With the Penn square still existing, the new enterprises did not take well at the beginning, and the Cumru tiller of the soil returned to the latter. Before the year was out the Penn square structures were condemned and became past history, and Mr. Rathje went back to the Farmers' and has been "standing" there ever since. For two years this veteran marketer occupied a stall in the west aisle, where the Reiniger Bros., of Stony Creek, now sell truck. In 1874 he rented stand No. 137, the last of the east row of stands in the west aisle, and the first as the aisle is entered from Cherry street, and since that time he has been offering vegetables, fruit and miscellaneous edibles there. For twenty years his wife has been assisting him. She is a little woman, energetic and alert, and her health is just as good as that of a woman of her age can be. The faces of the couple are familiar to thousands of patrons of this market house, and although they do not have as large a stand as many dealers, they possess a generous share of the trade, and what is more, when householders once buy at this stall, they generally become regular customers.

Mr. Rathje, for years during the fore part of his market career, made prime specialties of strawberries and raspberries, and sold large quantities. He made their culture a study and offered among the best cultivated. For a number of years he has brought to market a variety of foods from the gardens, fields and trees, but his apples are especially fine and every purchaser who has once tried them says: "Mr. Rathje certainly has the apples!" He has 300 trees, some twenty years old, and he cares for them as though they were human beings. The trees, with barely an exception, are reliable yielders, and Mr. Rathje places the crop of winter apples, or those he puts in cold storage for the cold weather trade, at approximately 150 barrels. The summer apples aggregate about 500 bushels, these being the picked stock. Among his principal varieties are Baldwin, Smokehouse, Bellflower and Pound, all excellent sellers. He gets from ten to fifteen cents a half peck, and for a score or more of years has enjoyed a satisfactory trade.

Mr. Rathje's farm comprises about seventy acres, and he takes pride in the fact that it was the one originally belonging to his father. When acquired by the elder Rathje, William was fourteen years old. Since then he has resided there and made a livelihood from it. Farms frequently change hands, but this one has not been sold in sixty years. While raising some grain and farm products in general, Mr. Rathje pays most attention to his apples. The supply of his raspberries and strawberries has dwindled of recent years, not because the soil has deteriorated, but on account of the trouble in securing pickers.

Six children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Rathje, namely: Henry, a farmer and school director of Cumru township, m. Catherine Kochel, and has three children, Edith, Venda and Blanche; Catherine, who resides at home (is the widow of Edward Heffer, and has two sons, John and William); Lizzie (m. O. D. Wentzel, of Reading, has two children, Leona and May O.); William (m. Bessie Strohecker, of Oakbrook, Pa., has four children, Carol W., Adele, Floy and Susan); Charles, a farmer of Robeson township, m. Jane Behm; and Clarence, unmarried, a machinist of Reading. In political matters Mr. William Rathje is a Democrat, and he has served his township in the position of school director. He is a member of Yocom's Lutheran church.

Christian Bridenstein, the great-grandfather of Mrs. Rathje, was a native of Germany, but prior to the Revolutionary war came to America and settled in Berks county. Here he owned a tract of 360 acres of land and erected a house and barn, the former of which is still standing, in an excellent state of preservation. He married a Miss Messner, and to them were born two sons: Christian and Leonard. Christian Bridenstein, son of Christian, married Catherine Bixler, and four children were born to them: Christian, Philip, Susan and Sally.

Philip Bridenstein, son of Christian (2), and father of Mrs. Rathje, was married to Hannah (or Anna) Lebo, and four children were born to this union, namely: John, Eliza, Susan (Mrs. Rathje) and Christian.


p. 1029


Amos S. Rathman, one of the best known and most highly esteemed citizens of Berks county, who now resides near Angelica, in Cumru township, was for twenty years a justice of the peace in that township. Mr. Rathman was born in the Angelica district on May 19, 1843, son of Levi and Sarah (Schonauer) Rathman.

Jacob Rathman, grandfather of Amos S., was a farmer and cabinet maker of Cumru township, where his entire life was spent. A well known Whig of his day, he was very patriotic, and raised a number of liberty poles in the township. Mr. Rathman married Barbara Fitterling, daughter of Michael Fitterling, and to them were born these children: Catherine m. George Fitterling; Jonathan m. Mary Quinter; Polly m. Thomas Glassmoyer; Barbara m. Jacob Fox; Levi; Elizabeth m. Elias Kohl; and Isaac m. Kate Hertz.

Levi Rathman, father of Amos S., was a lifelong resident of Cumru township, where he was born Oct. 15, 1815, and died June 10, 1899. In his early years he was associated with his father in the undertaking business, and later he owned a farm of 136 acres in the Angelica district. He married Sarah Schonauer, and to this union there were born eight children: John died single in 1862; Jacob m. Susan Keffer; Elizabeth m. William Strock; Amos S.; Susan m. Jacob Wert; Barbara m. Benjamin Hertz; Sarah m. Joel Ziemer; and a son died in infancy.

Amos S. Rathman was reared on his father's farm, and received his education in the old eight-cornered school house near Angelica. In the early sixties Mr. Rathman engaged in school teaching for some time, but, as he himself puts it, he inherited the trade of his father, that of carpentering, which he followed for upward of ten years. In 1874 he was elected a justice of the peace, in which office he served for twenty consecutive years, being in this time the peacemaker of the entire community, and never had a discharged case or a decision appealed. For many years Mr. Rathman was clerk at public vendues, and for ten years was a school director, during all of which time, except the first year of his incumbency, he served as treasurer of the board. In 1896 Mr. Rathman purchased a tract of five acres, near Angelica, where he now makes his home, prior to this time having lived on the old Rathman homestead. In political matters Mr. Rathman is a Democrat, while fraternally he is connected with the Sr. O. U. A. M., being the only beneficial charter member of Angelica Council No. 91. He is also a member of the State Council of this Order, in which he has held office, being recording secretary for the past thirty years, and is also connected with K. G. E. Castle No. 137, of Mohnton. Mr. Rathman is a member of the Lutheran congregation of the Allegheny Union Church, of Brecknock township.


p. 980


Howard C. Rathman, a representative citizen of Berks county, Pa., who is well-known as an educator in Brecknock township, where he conducts a five-acre truck farm during the summer months, was born Jan. 6, 1868, in Brecknock township, son of Samuel and Catherine (Griffith) Rathman.

John Rathman, grandfather of Howard C., was born in Cumru township, where for the major portion of his life he was engaged in farming. He died May 17, 1870, in his eighty-third year. He married Catherine Hoffert, and them were born these children: Jacob, of Spring township; Henry, of Brecknock township; David, of Reading; William of Brecknock township; Samuel; and Peter, who lived with his brother Samuel and died unmarried.

Samuel Rathman was born in Cumru township, Oct. 21 1818, and died May 5, 1893. For some years he worked at the trade of carpentering, but for forty years he carried on huckstering and produce dealing, being so engaged at the time of his death. He was a Democrat in political matters, and was one of the first school directors of Brecknock township, helping to establish the public school system in the district. He was one of the early delegates to county conventions, and was well and favorably known throughout the district. He was the organist of Allegheny Reformed Church for more than thirty years. Mr. Rathman's 144-acre farm, in Brecknock township, near Knauer's, is still in the family name. In 1844 Mr. Rathman married Catherine Griffith, born in 1828, daughter of John and Polly (Brendel) Griffith, and to them three children were born: Marguerite, deceased, wife of Peter Shupp; Elbina, m. to Adam Kern, a farmer on the Rathman homestead and Howard C., who was born eighteen years after his youngest sister.

Howard C. Rathman was reared upon the farm, and at the age of fifteen years he learned the carpenter's trade which he followed for two years. In 1885 he entered the Keystone State Normal School, attending four terms, began his teaching career the same year that he entered the normal, his first school being Trostle's in his native township, where he has taught twelve terms. He has also taught two terms at Allegheny school in Brecknock township, eight terms in Eshelman's school in Cumru township, and two terms at Knauer's school. He has become very popular as an educator, and since 1893 has held a permanent certificate. During the summer months Mr. Rathman conducts a small truck farm of five acres which was a part of the homestead and which has been owned by Mr. Rathman since 1887. In politics he is an ardent Democrat, and served the township as register assessor in 1904, 1905, 1906,1907, 1908; clerk for the county in the office of Recorder of Deeds in 1903; delegate to various county conventions, and for two years was a member of the county standing committee. He and his family are members of the Allegheny Union Church, and he is much interested in the Sunday school, where he was organist from 1895 to 1901.

On Dec. 14, 1886, Mr. Rathman married Ellen Steffy, born April 28, 1867, daughter of Ephraim and Elizabeth (Gebhart) Steffy, farming people of Brecknock township, and five children were born to this union: Samuel M., a school teacher in Brecknock township, and a student at the Keystone State Normal School; Henry, a lather, m. to Laura Esterly, daughter of Jacob Esterly, proprietor of "Beckersville Hotel," Robeson township; and Katie; Maggie, and Charles H.

Mr. Rathman was baptized as Charles Howard Rathman, but when he began his teaching career he wrote his name Howard C. and has so continued to the present time.

Last Modified Thursday, 16-Oct-2008 20:56:44 EDT

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