James K. Merkel Biography 1

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Evan P. Chirst
Devitt History
Thomas J. Edwards
John Keim
Isaac R Mengel
Abraham Donat Merkel
James K. Merkel Biography 1
James K. Merkel Biography 2
Schuman Family

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         Merkles          Schuman Family        Letter about Keim Family

History Of Lehigh County, Vol. III, Copyright 1914   

James K. Merkel has been a resident of Reading since 1903, and with but little exception has passed all his life in Berks county. His ancestors have long been settled here. Abraham Merckel (or Merkel) was born in Macungie township, Northampton (now Lehigh) Co., Pa., about 1767, and is a descendant of an old family of French origin . He was a farmer, and in 1785 and 1786 was assessed for 100 acres of land, two horses and the ree cattle. In 1785 he paid a federal tax of £1 8s 6d, and in 1786 the amount was £1,1s 6d. T he tax lists of his native county bear his name as a taxable until 1805. In 1806 he is assessed as a resident of Albany township, Berks county, where he owned a tract on which he lived . The farm is now owned by Jacob Schroeder; a big hill on this farm for many years was know n as "Merkel's Hill," now "Donat's Hill." It was at this place that his father-in-law, Jacob b Donat, had previously settled. Abraham Merckel was an industrious and honest citizen. He WA s a tall and well-built man, standing over six feet, and was possessed of great strength an d endurance. He was a wheelwright by trade. He met a tragic end. During the summer of 1825 there ere was a drought in the upper end of Berks county.

     Water had become scarce on the southern side of the Blue mountains, while on the opposite side there was an abundance of rain and w water. Therefore Abraham Marcela took his grain to a mill on the opposite side of the mountain , and on the return trip fell into the hands of a band of roughs, one of whom cruelly murderd d him. On the slope of the mountain in West Penn township, Schuylkill county (on the road from m Jacksonville to Tamara), which he had to pass, there was an old hostelry around which man y stories of robbery, and even the murder of peddlers and cattle dealers centered. That the place was notorious was evidenced by the frequent reference to it in the recollections of the e older residents of the section. It was abandoned over thirty years ago, and only crumbling g walls and an old well half filled with stones and rubbish mark the site of the once busy an d widely known stopping place. While passing the hotel Mr. Merckel was requested to stop off , which he did. He found a number of men playing cards and also, undoubtedly, drinking. One o f the card players, a man named Jacob Hawkenstein, commenced quarreling with Mr. Merckel, who told Hawkenstein it would be to his benefit to keep his peace. Hawkenstein, in confab with other men during that day, had made a threat that he would kill someone before the day was s over. When Mr. Marcela was loosening his horse, which was tied at a tree near a fence, he was stabbed with a knife by Hawkenstein, who had secreted himself behind the fence, and died of his wounds. Hawkenstein thereafter led a secluded and miserable existence among the rocks , dens and hollow trees of the Blue mountains, where he died alone and despised of all men. H is skeleton was found more than a year after his death by a band of hunters. Mr. Merckel is buried in an unmarked grave at the New Bethel Church in Albany township. He died in the late s ummer of 1826.

Abraham Merckel married Susanna Donat, who was born Nov. 6, 1779, and died Jan. 25, 1864, aged eighty-four years, two months, nineteen days. Her father, Jacob Donat, wa s a native of Germany. Four children were born to Abraham and Susanna (Donat) Merckel, namely : Abraham was the father of James K. Merkel and is mentioned farther on; Elizabeth, born Marc h 24, 1813, died unmarried March 15, 1894, aged eighty years, eleven months, twenty-one days , and is buried at New Jerusalem Church; Catharine, born Jan. 3, 1816, died unmarried Nov. 20 , 1879, aged sixty-three years, ten months, seventeen days, and is buried at Jerusalem Church ; Joseph, who spelled his name Markley, married Esther Fisher, and lived in Reading until 1876, when he moved to St. Cloud, Minn. At a meeting of the Orphans' Court, April 6, 1827, according to the records in Vol. IX, page 206, Elizabeth Merkel, daughter of the late Abraham Merckel, of Albany township, Berks county, petitioned the court as a minor above fourteen years of age, asking that John Shollenberger be appointed her guardian. Henry Ruppert appeared as a friend of Catharine Merkel and Joseph Merkel, minor children of Abraham Merckel, deceased , and William Sweyer was appointed guardian for Catharine, and John Shollenberger for Joseph .

     Abraham Merkel, eldest child of Abraham, was born about 1805-1806, and died in June, 1849 , aged about forty-three years. His death occurred in the hay field, from the effects of drin king much cold spring water when overheated, and he is buried at New Bethel Church, in Alban y township. He was a tall man over six feet, and was strong and an excellent worker. Abraha m Merkel married Maria (Polly) Kroninger, who was born Sept. 8, 1808 and died Dec. 23, 1878 , aged seventy years, three months, fifteen days. Children as follows were born to their union: Anna m. John Cameron, of Sagon, Northumberland Co., Pa.; Catharine m. Jonathon Machmer, who was noted as a singer, and they conducted the Upper Bern Hotel a number of years; Abraham , born Jan. 13, 1832, died Feb. 14, 1908, m. in 1859 Leah Follweiler (1835-1901), and they had a family of seven children; Sarah Jane (m. Adam Berk, and died leaving a son, Wm. H., who has his home with his aunts, Louisa and Clara Merkel), Astor (m. Ida Kline), Rosa Alice (m. Fr ancis Allsbach, deceased), Cordelia (m. Alfred Allsbach, and died leaving a daughter, Leah M . ), Louisa P. (a popular school teacher of Albany township), Clara (is unmarried and lives o n the homestead with her sister Louisa), and John A. (m. Emma E. Nester, and has two children , Elsie M. and Leah L.); Susanna m. Ferdinand Machmer and later a Mr. Baum, of Hamburg; Aaro n m. Valeria Miller and they live at Conshohocken, Pa.; Caroline m. William Machmer, who met a tragic death in Michigan; Rebecca m. Michael Schaeffer, of Tower City, Pa; Sarah m. Jame s De Long, of Reading; James K. is mentioned farther on. Caroline and Susanna both lived an d died in Michigan.

     James K. Merkel was born in Albany township Oct. 7, 1847. He has followed the blacksmith's trade almost from the time he began work, having commenced to learn it whe n he was only eighteen years old, under his brother Abraham, who at that time had a smithy in the village of Jacksonville, Lehigh Co., Pa. In 1867 Mr. Merkel came to Berne, in Upper Ber n township, now Tilden township, Berks county, where he was engaged at his trade in the employ of another brother, Aaron, who had a blacksmith shop in the village of Berne. In 1870, after several years' work in Mahanoy City and other places, he erected a shop of his own in the " Bockmohl" (a valley in the southern end of what is now Tilden township, to which he had come about 1867) and there continued to work at his trade until the year 1900. At that time he moved with his family to Conshohocken, at which place he remained for three years in the respo nsible position of boss blacksmith in the Alan Wood Iron Works, an indisputable evidence of his skill as a mechanic. In the spring of 1903 Mr. Merkel removed with his family to the city of Reading, settling in his own home at No. 757 North Eighth street. Mr. Merkel also own s a small tract of good land, comprising twenty-four acres, near Berne station upon which he lived for twenty-five years. He is a man of industrious habits and is a good citizen. His character is above reproach.

     Mr. Merkel has been twice married. In 1869 he was united to Sara h Schuman, who was born Oct. 6, 1847, daughter of Solomon and Sarah (Zweitzig) Schuman, and d ied Nov. 14, 1877, in her thirty-first year, the mother of four children, namely: (1) J. Fran klin taught school for fifteen years, but has been engaged as a railway mail clerk since 190 4 and is stationed at Pittsburg. (2) Anthony O. m. Ada Chamberlain, of Norristown. (3) Ella V . m. Reuben Blatt, and has had three children, Reuben, Rachel and Ruth (who died in childhood ). (4) Sallie M. m. William J. Dietrich, of Reading, and they have three children, Naomi, Rut h, and William J., Jr.

     Mr.Merkel's second marriage, in 1879, was to Emma L. Keim, who was born June 28, 1858, daughter of Percival and Susanna (Strasser) Keim, and by whom he has had t en children, namely: John, who died in infancy; Cora L.; Clara A., who is the wife of Samuel Mengel and has two children, Mabel and James; James D.; Lizzie A.; Mame F.; Howard J., bor n Dec. 16, 1888, who died Feb. 19, 1890; Abbie A.; Lillie L.; and George R., born Jan. 25, 18 97, who died Aug. 23, 1897.

     Mr. Merkel is a consistent member of the St. Paul United Evangel ical Church of Reading, in the work of which congregation he has been quite active, having held various offices

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Evan P. Chirst          Devitt History          Thomas J. Edwards         John Keim
  Isaac R Mengel            James K. Merkel Biography 1          Merkles          Schuman Family

John C. K. Balthaser Biograpy ] Evan P. Christ ] Devitt history ] Devitt history Page 2 ] Donat Biography ] Thomas J. Edwards ] Henry Huber Biography ] Patrick Kearney (Carey) ] PATRICK KEARNEY ] John Keim ] H. Kelly ] Letter about Keims ] David G. Mengle Biograpy ] Ephraim Mengel Biograpy ] Isaac R Mengel ] J Hain Mengel Biograpy ] Martin Mengel Biograpy ] Melanchton Mengel Biograpy ] Ralph Mengel Biograpy ] Solomon Mengel Biograpy ] Abraham Donat Merkel Biography ] Abraham Merkel Biograpy ] Abraham Merkel Biograpy 2 ] [ James K. Merkel Biography 1 ] James K. Merkel Biography 2 ] Merkles ] Jean George Merckel ] Patrick Monaghan Biography ] Noon history ] Schuman Biography ] Schuman Family ] Sweeney - Devitt history ] Sweeney - Devitt history Page 2 ] Patrick Francis Sweeney ] George Troutman ] Locus Mountain Hotel or Troutman Hotel ] bios/MERCKEL_Jean_Georges am.pdf ] bios/MERCKEL_Jean_Georges%20am.pdf ]

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