Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals by Morton Montgomery


p. 1474


The first member of the Worley family to settle in that part of Cumru township which is now Mohnton was one Jesse Worley, who had previously lived in Nazareth, Northampton county, in Philadelphia and in Columbia, Lancaster county. At the time he came to Mohnton it was called Mohnsville, and he worked there for William Pennypacker, a gun-barrel manufacturer. Later on he bought a tract of land about a mile southwest of the village where he built a home. He then purchased in addition the farm now occupied by Frank Schnader, built a dam and was preparing to enter upon the manufacture of gun-barrels on his own account when he was suddenly stricken with illness and died in 1838, aged fifty years. He was buried in the Allegheny Church cemetery. A man of some means, Jesse Worley was well known in his locality where he was highly respected. By his wife, Mary, daughter of a Mr. Herring, he had children as follows: John, an ax and gun-barrel maker; Samuel, a stone mason; Caroline, who died unmarried when fifty-one years old; William, a carpenter, who like his two elder brothers, settled in Mifflin county, Pa.; Theophilus, a gun-barrel maker, working in different places; Henry, who carried on the homestead; and Elizabeth, wife of John Bitting.

Henry Worley was born in Cumru township, Feb. 21, 1833. Only five years old when his father died, his early years were rather hand ones, for he tried faithfully to help his mother and as soon as he was old enough, he worked out among the farmers that the family might be able to keep together. He learned the process of making gun-barrels from Henry Deeds, for whom he worked three years, and then in 1857, he started in that business for himself, on the site of the present Worley factory. He followed this line of industry twenty-one years, and became comfortably well off from it, but he finally gave it up and instead engaged in the manufacture of hats. His plant was opened Dec. 2, 1878, and on the nineteenth of the following March it was totally destroyed by fire. Mr. Worley promptly rebuilt, however, and carried on the business most successfully until his death, employing on an average some twelve skilled workmen. He was a man of most upright character, exceptional business ability and genuine devotion to his family. His death occurred Aug. 30, 1890, in his fifty-eight year.

The helpmate chosen by Henry Worley was Miss Isabella Mohn, to whom he was united Sept. 10, 1854. She was a daughter of Benjamin and Harriet (Deeds) Mohn, the former the founder of Mohnsville. Both Mr. and Mrs. Worley were members and active workers in the Evangelical Church, of which Mr. Worley at the time of his death had been a trustee for many years. There was a large family, five sons and five daughters, as follows: (1) Henry H.; (2) Mary, widow of William Weber; (3) Louisa, wife of John R. Regan, a hatter in Mohnton; (4) Wesley M., who married Alice, daughter of Charles Dietrich, of Reading and who has three children, Edwin D., Nora D. and Harry D.; (5) William, who died in infancy; (6) Ellis M., who married Miss Kate Hertzog and has a son, D. Elmer; (7) Carrie, born in 1868, who married Nelson W. Dickinson, a hatter of Mohnton; (8) Savilla, born in 1870, wife of James G. Ruth, a cigar-manufacturer in Mohnton; (9) Amanda, born in 1872, who married Charles F. Madeira, a teacher in Mohnton; and (10) Charles M., born March 30, 187 , who married Miss Maggie Trostle and has three children, Minerva, Stanley and Helen.

Henry H. Worley was born on the Cumru farm, Dec. 10, 1855. After finishing his education in the public schools, he went to work in his father's gun-barrel factory, and later in his hat factory, becoming thoroughly proficient in both lines. After his father's death with his brothers, Wesley M. and Ellis M., he formed the firm of Worley Brothers. They enlarged the plant, employed about forty people, turning out a product of 125 dozen a day, and continued the business very profitably till 1906, sending their goods all over the country. But this was only one of the interests of the firm. In 1901 they erected a factory for manufacturing seamless hosiery, where they now employ thirty-five hands, their products going not only all over the country and Canada, but also to Amsterdam, Holland. In the spring of 1904, Worley Brothers bought the good will and machinery of the Reading Cotton Batting Company, located above Mohnton, which they operated successfully till November, 1906, when the plant was entirely destroyed by fire. Undismayed, they then purchased the water power and the ground, rebuilt and in spite of heavy losses at first, carried the enterprise to a more than satisfactory condition.

Meantime, in 1905, the firm had bought out A. R. Kreider Brother, of Columbia, Pa., hosiery manufacturers, and operated the plant from August, 1905, to July, 1906. They the dismantled it and used the materials in erecting a new factory at Reamstown, which seemed to offer a more promising field. Their new building is 26 X 40 feet, two stories high, and the venture has proved to be most successful. The firm is also half owner of the Hope Hosiery Company, of Adamstown, which employs fifty hands.

Mr. Worley was joined in marriage April 24, 1880, to Miss Lydia S. Mosser, a daughter of Daniel and Caroline (Stafford) Mosser. They have two surviving children, Jennie and James E., the latter of whom was educated in the public schools and at Albright College, Myerstown, and is now teaching in Mohton. A third child, Harrison, died in infancy. Mr. Worley and his family are consistent members of Zion United Evangelical Church of Mohnton, and the church work is one of the deepest interests of Mr. Worley's heart. Since 1883 he has been the assistant leader of Class No. 1, besides serving frequently as a delegate to the annual conferences of the denomination. His practical Christian life, apparent in every department of his activity, has made him a natural leader among his fellow members and has won him their warm regard.

In politics Mr. Worley, like his brothers, is a Republican, but one who can always be depended upon to support whatever candidate he believes best fitted to the place. For twenty years from 1885 to 1905, he served as justice of the peace for Cumru township, and during all that time was virtually the peacemaker of the community. Many trivial affairs between neighbors he settled informally, while never once has he drawn upon the county treasury because of discharged cases, believing such to be an injustice and imposition. Mr. Worley ahs also done much to promote the interests of the township educationally, and served from 1897 to 1900 as school director.

Fraternally he is a member of the Senior O. U. A. M., No. 86, of Mohnton; of the K. of P., No. 485, of Mohnton; and of P. O. S. of A., no. 212, of Reading.


p. 683


Levi Worley (deceased), for many years one of Reading's prominent business men, and a pioneer in the coal tar pavement business, was born in Saegersville, a small town near Allentown, Lehigh Co., Pa., only child of Jacob Worley, a well known farmer of Lehigh county, where he died.

Levi Worley learned the trade of shoemaking at Allentown, but when a young man was employed on Dunkle's farm in Berks county. He then went to Pottsville, Columbia and Lancaster, following shoe making, and later to Lewistown, where he married Elizabeth Heinsling, by whom two sons were born, of whom the survivor is Dilman, messenger at the First National Bank, Reading. Mrs. Elizabeth (Heinsling) Worley died at Lewistown. Mr. Worley then came to Reading and worked at his trade for a number of years, finally engaging in the coal tar pavement business with David Witman as partner.

They were among the pioneers in this business, and operated extensively throughout the city. For about twenty-five years prior to his death, Mr. Worley lived retired, dying in May, 1902, aged eighty-six years, in the faith of the Lutheran church of which he had been a member of the Vestry. In politics a Republican, Mr. Worley served as school director from the Eighth ward for a number of years.

Mr. Worley married (second) Mary M. Rush, born Jan. 6, 1822, a few doors from where she now resides, No. 729 Washington street, Reading, daughter of Philip and Barbara (Spohn) Rush, and these children were born to the union: Barbara; John P. R.; Annie; Eleanor; Mary V., and one child which died in infancy.

Mrs. Worley's first husband was Conrad Feger, son of Jacob and Elizabeth (Mellon) Feger, and three children were born to them: William; Barbara; and Sarah Jane (Jennie), widow of George S. Yeager, who was connected with the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, located at Ninth and Green streets, Philadelphia. During 1876 Mr. Yeager was assistant master mechanic, and was later transferred to Newton, Bucks county, where he died in 1887, being buried in the Charles Evans cemetery. Mrs. Yeager resides with her mother, in Reading. Mrs. Worley is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, where she was christened by Dr. J. Miller.


p. 1243


One of the prominent business enterprises of Mohnton, Pa., is the manufacturing concern of Worley Brothers, of which W. M. Worley is a member. Mr. Worley was born May 6, 1861, in Cumru township, Berks county, where he attended the public schools.

As a youth Mr. Worley leaned the trade of gun barrel maker with his father, and worked at this occupation for about five years, then engaging in the hatting business, which he continued until the home factory closed their business. Since that time Mr. Worley has been a member of the hosiery manufacturing firm of Worley Brothers, his department being the dye house, which has been connected with the business since 1906. In February, 1907, the firm of Worley Brothers purchased a very fertile tract of 145 acres of land near Gouglersville, known as the Solomon Mohn Farm. Here they erected a barn 102x45 feet, with an annex of 24x26 feet, and a wagon shed 30x40 feet, and intend using the property as a stock farm.

Mr. Worley was married May 14, 1887, to Miss Alice G. Dietrich, daughter of Charles and Sophia (Gehret) Dietrich, and three children have been born to this union: Edwin, who is a machinist; Nora, at home; and Harry, who is attending school.

Mr. Worley is a Republican in politics, but he has never been an office seeker. In Zion's Evangelical Church at Mohnton, he is serving as trustee, and since 1891 has been treasurer of the Sunday-school. Fraternally he is connected with the Knights of Pythias, No. 185; Camp No. 211, P. O. S. of A., and the Jr. O. U. A. M., No. 86, being very popular in these organizations.


p. 1522


Christian Wrede, of Reading, Pa., whose baking establishment is situated on No. 1355 North Tenth street, is a native of the city, where he was work in 1866, son of Christian and Minnie (Liesz) Wrede.

Christian Wrede, Sr., was a native of Germany, and came to America when a young man, settling in Reading, where he spent the rest of his life at laboring, accumulating a comfortable property. He and his wife had three children, namely: Lizzie and Annie, deceased, the latter of whom was a Sister of Mercy and was known after taking the vow of Sisterhood as Sister Pencratia; and Christian. By a previous marriage, to a Mr. Dalling, Mrs. Wrede had six children: Emma, who married Augustus Wilke; Lena, deceased; Matilda, known as Sister Italbirda; Charles, deceased; and Rosie, deceased, who was the wife of William H. Bain. In religious belief the family were Roman Catholics, and have always been prominent in the work of the church and charitable institutions. Mr. Wrede was a Democrat in his political views.

Christian Wrede received his education in the schools of Reading, after leaving which he learned the baker's trade, a business which he has followed ever since, a period of twenty-eight years. He is well known in his line in Reading, and in his home community his sterling traits of character and genial manner have made him many friends. He is a member of the Roman Catholic Church, and is connected with the Knights of St. John and the Maccabees. Politically he is a Democrat.

On Sept. 30, 1890, Mr. Wrede was united in marriage with Miss Barbara Heinrich, and to them there were born children as follows: Charles E.; Christian A., who died aged eight years, one month, ten days; Annie M., who died aged two months, twenty-eight days; Marie M., who died aged four months, twenty-eight days; Edna M., who is at St. Joseph's parochial school; Raymond L., who died aged three years, four months; and Paul j., who died aged two months, five days.


p. 1326


William W. Wren, postmaster at Boyertown, senior member of the firm of Wren & Koons, manufacturers of cigar boxes, is the third generation of his family in America. He was born at Pottsville, Pa., June 29, 1851, son of Major James Wren, and grandson of William Wren.

William Wren, the grandfather, was a native of Scotland, who, lured by the tales of wealth in the New World, came over to America with his family in 1825, and located at Pottsville, Pa. He found work as a miner, and continued to be so occupied as long as he lived. He and his wife Jane are both buried in the vicinity of Pottsville. Their children were: William; John, whose son Christopher was formerly prothonotary of Luzern county, and now lives in Plymouth, Pa.; Thomas; Major James; and Susan, who married John P. Powers, of Pottsville, and had a son, Thomas. Major James Wren was born in Glasgow, Scotland, March 6, 1825, and was six months old when brought by his parents to America. He grew to manhood in Pottsville, receiving such education as was afforded by the common schools. As his father was working in the mines, it was natural that the son should acquire a knowledge of the same line of work, but he was soon advanced, his mechanical ability developing as the years passed, and he became a mechanical and mining engineer of considerable note and experience. He learned his trade of machinist at the Haywood & Snyder shops. With his brother, John and Thomas, he became interested in the Eagle Foundry in 1850, and shortly afterward established the Washington Iron Works, which were located on the site of the old Philadelphia & Reading freight station, at the end of Centre street. The first railroad bar iron made in Schuylkill county was manufactured at these works, and was used by Beemish & Co., at Fishback. In 1855 the machinery for the Palo Alto rolling mill of Lee, Bright & Co., was made, besides the more important mining machinery used in the coal regions. In the early seventies Major Wren moved to Boyertown and engaged in prospecting for iron ore in the hills along Colebrookdale creek, a quest in which he was unsuccessful, and he turned his attention to the operation of a woolen mill at Colebrookdale, near which he erected a comfortable residence. Fire destroyed the mill and Major Wren did not rebuild it. About fifteen years before his death, he moved to Boyertown, and his last business venture was garnet mining in Chelsea, Delaware Co., Pa. His death, the result of an operation, occurred at the Jefferson Hospital, Philadelphia, Jan. 16, 1901. The funeral was military one, in charge of the Ga. A. R., and the faithful soldier was laid to rest in Fairview cemetery as the last note of "Taps" was sounded.

When on April 15, 1861, President Lincoln called for 75,000 men, Major Wren, then captain of the Washington Artillery, Pottsville, prepared for service. Two days before he had offered his command to the governor, and this offer had been accepted. They left Pottsville April 17th, without uniforms and arms, arriving in Harrisburg that evening. There they joined the Ringgold Artillery of Reading; the National Light Artillery of Pottsville; the Logan Guards of Lewistown; and the Allen Guards of Allentown, and all left for Washington, D. C. The entire party, except for thirty-four old Springfield rifles and the pistols of the officers, was unarmed. Their trip from Harrisburg through Baltimore to Washington, and the attending riots, is a matter of history and is well known to every student. On their arrival in Washington, joined by troops from Massachusetts, they became known as the "First Defenders." At the end of his three months' term of enlistment, Capt. Wren returned home, and organized company B, of the 48th Pa. V. I., of which he became captain, serving as such until he became major. He had an honorable record, and was the recipient of a gold medal from congress. His interest in military affairs was unabated with advancing years, and he was ever an ardent worker in the Grand Army of the Republic.

Major Wren was twice married. He married (first) Sarah Mortimer, sister of S. M. Mortimer. Of the children of this union, William W. and Andrew, both of Boyertown, survive. He married (second) Clara Johns, sister of George W. Johns, of the well-known St. Clair, Schuylkill family, and they had children: Charles, of Boyertown; and George, Emma, James, Carrie and Norman. Major Wren was a Mason, belonging to Pulaski Lodge, No. 216, F. & A. M., of Pottsville. Mrs. Wren survived until December 10, 1903, when she died suddenly of apoplexy. She had been active in the Boyertown Methodist Church, and had many warm friends. She has been greatly missed, not alone in her home, but by the entire community. Her remains were interred in Fairview cemetery.

William W. Wren was educated in the public schools, and he also took a private course under the late Col. John A. M. Passmore, then of Pottsville, and at the Westchester Myers Classical Scientific Institute (Preparatory school). For some years he was an assistant of his father in the iron business, and worked in the draughting room. In 1870 he came to Boyertown, and prospected in the surrounding country for iron ore for about five years, at the end of that time engaging in the manufacture of cigar boxes. This latter line he followed alone for about ten years and then formed a partnership with Otto Engel, under the firm name of Wren & Engel, and this continued for five years. He then associated himself with his brother, Andrew, and continued the same business for some years, when his brother withdrew, and William W. carried it on alone. His present associate is Frederick S. Koons, and the name of the firm, Wren & Koons. They have been very successful, and the output of their factory is now about 5,000 boxes daily, giving employment to forty people. Their plant is a four-story building, 32 X 100 feet, besides several additions, and the whole is equipped with all modern machinery. Their product is sold in Reading, Philadelphia and other eastern cities.

Mr. Wren is a prominent Republican, and he has attended all the conventions of his party for a quarter of a century. It is said he has nominated more men than any other one man of the party. He was a delegate to the State convention when the Hon. William A. Stone was nominated (later elected) Governor of the State, and in that convention served on the committee on Resolutions. He was first appointed postmaster under the administration of President Harrison, second under President McKinley and later re-appointed under President Roosevelt. This is a third class office, with two rural routes and three stage routes daily, of the latter, one being from Boyertown to Reading, a second Boyertown to Limerick, and a third Boyertown to New Hanover. He has always been active in his party's welfare, and in the public work of his town. He was school director for several terms, and at the present time is president of the school board, the borough having a high school that is a credit to all this section of the county. Mr. Wren is actively identified with Washington Camp. No. 104, P. O. S. of A., in which he has held all the officers. He is a gifted orator, and has frequently appeared on the platform. His voice is powerful and magnetic, and his clear logical reasoning has convinced many a doubter. He has made many inspiring addresses under the auspices of the G. A. R. and kindred organizations.

On Nov. 25, 1875, Mr. wren was married to Clara St. Clair, daughter of Reuben and Sarah (Christian) St. Clair, of Pottsville. They have two children: Edwin S., who graduated from the Boyertown high school in 1899, and then assisted his father in the post-office for a time, is now a student in the Dental Department of the University of Pennsylvania; and Gertrud S., who graduated from the Boyertown high school, married in 1908, Harry L. Gabel, son of Henry G. Gabel, who formerly conducted a gristmill in Colebrookdale, but who is now engaged in the milling business with his son in Larned, Kansas. Mr. Wren and his family belong to Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Church, in which he has been trustee and steward. For the past thirty-two consecutive years he has been superintendent of the Sunday-school, and since 1884 he has been a local preacher.


p. 1198


William L. Wunder, a leading basket manufacturer of Reading, although a native of Broome county, N. Y., born in 1860, has spent nearly all his life in Pennsylvania, as his father moved to Reading in the sixties.

Mr. Wunder's father was a tailor by trade and during the Civil war w as under contract to furnish the government with soldiers' clothing. He accumulated quite a fortune, as he was eminently successful in the management of his business, but through carelessness he lost it all again. He married Miss Elizabeth Cook, daughter of Jacob Cook, who was a noted basket maker and manufactured his goods on an extensive scale. Two children were born to this union, the elder of whom died in infancy.

During his boyhood William L. Wunder attended the Reading public schools and afterward worked in Jackson's Rope Walk for three years. Both his parents were adepts in basket making, and the boy's natural interest therein was increased by seeing the work of a band of gypsies from whom he, too, learned the art. So proficient did he become under their tutelage that he went to Philadelphia and opened a business there at Nineteenth and Market streets. He continued for two years and did very well indeed, considering the exceedingly limited capital at his disposal. In 1879 he decided to return to Reading and establish himself there instead. His beginning was humble, for at first he rented only the basement of the store he now occupies, and he spent many long, dreary months in those cramped quarters before he felt justified in renting the store proper and extending his business. He branched out into the manufacturing of baby carriages, in which line he still has a monopoly in Reading, and later added fishing tackle and toys. Today he conducts one of the most thriving industries in the city, and is the only basket manufacturer there doing business on the ground floor. His goods are of a superior quality and make, and he has all the orders he can fill. His wife helps him in the conduct of the store and renders him most able assistance.

In 1885 Mr. Wunder married Miss Ellen Kapp, their only son, Claude, m. Miss Irene Burkhart, and has a son, William M. In politics Mr. Wunder maintains always an independent stand, seeking to vote for the bast candidate regardless of party lines. Himself a great lover of the rod and gun, he was the originator of the petition now being circulated to secure the repeal of the Sunday fishing law. His efforts in this are put forth in the interests of the working man, who has no other opportunity to indulge in that healthful and pleasing recreation. Mr. Wunder has worked hard to attain his established position, and thoroughly deserves the respect which his successful efforts have won for him form Reading's business circles.


p. 1320


W. W. Wunder, a manufacturer of fire apparatus, of Reading, Pa., and proprietor of the only manufactory of its kind in the State of Pennsylvania, was born in Reading, Pa., Jan. 17, 1850, son of Louis and Susan (Setley) Wunder.

George Wunder, grandfather of W. W., was a supply agent in the war of 1812. He was the father of children as follows: Louis; William, a soldier in the Mexican war, who lost his life at Vera Cruz; Levi; Charles; Lovina, and Margaret. In religious belief the family were Lutherans.

Louis Wunder, father of W. W., was a tailor by trade, and followed that occupation until he was appointed assistant postmaster of Reading under President Franklin Pierce, receiving appointment as Postmaster in President Buchanans administration. In 1858 he was employed on the East Pennsylvania railroad as baggagemaster, was later conductor and finally ticket agent, at which latter he continued until his retirement. He served in the Mexican war as orderly sergeant of Company A, Reading Artillery, and in the Civil war as first lieutenant. His fraternal connections were with Montgomery Lodge, I. O. O. F. In religious belief he was a Lutheran. He married Susan Setley, and to them were born these children: Emily E., W. W., George C., Sally and Margaret.

W. W. Wunder secured his education in the schools of Reading, and as a Picture of W.W. Wunderboy worked in the sheet mills, and later for the Reading Iron Company, for a number of years. He learned the cigar makers business at the old Maltzberger stand, which he later purchased, remaining there until 1882, when he engaged in his present business. His fire apparatus, which is considered the best made in the country, includes chemical engines and fire trucks. He organized the Pennsylvania State Firemens Association, being elected secretary, a position which he has held for thirty years; is president of the Firemens Relief, and has been a representative of Keystone Hook and Ladder Company, No. 1, to the Firemens Union for thirty-four years. He is a prominent member of the Keystone Hook and Ladder Company, and has always taken a great interest in the work of the organization. In February, 1898, Mr. Wunder was elected a councilman, of the select branch, and has been continuously re-elected since, his present term expiring in 1910. Mrs. Wunder is an Episcopalian, while her husband attends Trinity Lutheran Church, the brick for which his maternal grandfather furnished gratis. He is a Republican in politics.

In 1883 W. W. Wunder married Susan Adams, and to this union there has been born one daughter, Emily E.

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