Joseph Gaumer was born on May 31, 1813 in Lower Macungie Township, Lehigh County, PA, the son of Johann "Adam" and Christiana (Wesco) Gaumer.
On June 27, 1842, at the age of 29, he was joined in holy wedlock with Mary "Polly" Bastian (March 3, 1820-1889), daughter of Daniel and Catharine (Hartzell) Bastian. The nuptials were performed by Rev. Benjamin German.
Their five children were Sarah Gorr Walbert, Caroline Elemira Snyder, Mary Anna Kern, Amanda Gaumer and John Joseph Gaumer. Sadness enveloped the family when daughter Amanda died at the age of six. Later, they grieved at the death of son John, at the age of 24 in 1889.
Joseph grew up on his parents' farm and attended crude schools where English was not the main language, and the German Psalter was the primary book. One of the schools was a log building at East Macungie; another was south of Alburtis, taught by Thomas Buchert; a third in Macungie led by Mrs. Reuben Miller and a fourth at Danners between East Texas and Macungie, taught by Mr. Zoeller. He pursued farming for the balance of his working years and also considered himself a "yoeman." When still young, said the Allentown Democrat, Joseph:
...was sent out with a big team. The main markets in those days were in Philadelphia and farmers hauled their grain and other products to that city and brought back supplies of all kinds. These long trips consumed several days and the start was begun about 2 o'clock in the morning. Food for man and horses was usually taken along and stops made at intervals to refresh the travelers. Mr. Gaumer was about 15 years of age when he was sent on his first trip to Philadelphia with produce. He had charge of a team and with his uncle, Solomon Wesco, accompanied with another team. About 32 miles was made the first day, Skippack often being the stopping place. At that time the Black Bear Hotel on Third street, above Callowhill, Philadelphia, was the popular stopping place for teamsters from these parts. During the time Mr. Gaumer drove teams to the city, the hotel was kept by Philip Hittle, who in later years kept the hotel at Old Zionsville. Grain was also disposed of to millers at Trappe, Flourtown, and other places on this side of Philadelphia. Wheat brought about 70 cents a bushel and corn about 35.
Mr. Gaumer was also engaged in hauling anthracite coal for burning lime, and in the days before the building of the Lehigh Canal, he went to Hamburg to get the coal. That article was not sold by weight at the time, but by the bushel, 28 being given for a ton. It was carried on the wagon in measures in the manner in which lime is still loaded at lime-kilns. Hamburg was considered a fair sized town and thriving business place 75 years ago. Mr. Gaumer also hauled several loads of rye to a mill beyond the site of Catasauqua, which had then no existence and which was known as Craneville. In that vicinity he crossed the Lehigh on a chain bridge. He hauled the lumber for building the barn on the old homestead from the old Trexler lumber yard in Allentown, and, not many years ago, he hauled from the same yard lumber for repairing the same barn. He also hauled stone and other material for Solomon's Church at Macungie, which was built in 1841. The building had been contracted to a man named Lewis, of Bethlehem, and lumber was hauled from that town. The spring of 1841 was very rainy and high water swept away all the bridges across the Lehigh River. On one occasion Mr. Gaumer went to Bethlehem with four horses and a low wagon to bring lumber for the church. In the absence of the bridge, which had been washed away, transportation across the river was by means of a scow. This was not long enough to take the whole team, so the horses and wagon were taken over in sections and three trips were necessary. The superintendents of construction of Solomon's Church were Solomon Wesco and John Nicholas Keyser for the Reformed and John Bauer and George Desch for the Lutherans. The corner stone was laid in June, 1841. The first person buried in the churchyard was William Herchner, in the fall of that year. George Keyser and Jacob Kiefer also were buried in that year.
When Mr. Gaumer was a little older he was employed in hauling to various towns and villages the outfit of a flying coach machine or "merry-go-round," which was owned by the late George March and a man named Wagner. The trips sometimes lasted for four or five weeks. This form of amusement was very popular and profitable, several hundred dollars being realized on one trip. The late Frederick Jobst, of Emmaus, and his brother Franz, were the musicians for the performances. Those were the battalion days when military drilling was compulsory on the part of those who were liable to military duty. There were also uniformed volunteer companies. Semi-annual inspections and drills were held in old Millerstown, now Macungie, and these were popular forms of amusement, and no holiday was then, or is now, more generally observed than these training days. The village was crowded with people who enjoyed themselves in various ways. The taverns did a thriving business. Dancing, which was regarded as a necessary accompaniment of battalions, was kept up from early in the forenoon until the small hours of the night. Mr. Gaumer was the orderly sergeant of the Millerstown Cavalry Troop, which was one of the free companies. He had in his possession several muster rolls of his company on which are given the names of members belonging to the company in the early forties.
Joseph grew up attending the Lutheran church in Macungie. Solomon's Church had been founded by members of the Lehigh Church circa 1841, located on Church Street in Macungie. It served as home of the Lutheran and Reformed congregations. But when the two groups openly split, he opted for the Reformed group and spent the rest of his life in that body of worship.
Circa 1842, he placed classified advertising, in the German text, in Allentown's German newspaper, Der Lecha Caunty Patriot.
Once Joseph stopped actively working, said the Democrat, "for some years after his retirement he had not altogether led a life of idleness and ease, but carefully looked after his interests in the properties he owned." Politically, he was a Whig until that party was absorbed by the Republicans, and he voted Republican thereafter. His first vote for president was in 1836.
Evidence suggests that his cavalry troop served for the United States during the Mexican War.
After a marriage which had endured for 47 years, Mary suffered heart problems. At the age of 69 years, nine months and 25 days, she succumbed to the Angel of Death three days after Christmas in 1889.
Joseph lived on as a widower for about 23 years. In 1901, he took the remarkable step of placing a telephone call to the home of a granddaughter's husband, Milton H.K. Laros. It was a first in the aged man's life. The call came through the Lehigh Telephone Company in Allentown, and the Allentown Leader reported that Joseph "easily recognized the voice of Mr. Laros and was well understood by him."
At the age of 97, Joseph resided in Lower Macungie and was named in the Democrat obituary of his sister Judith Wenner.
In late September 1912, at the age of 99, Joseph began to suffer from bleeding of the bladder, caused by cystitis. He passed away on Oct. 1, 1912. Burial was in Macungie Cemetery, and son-in-law Leon L. Snyder of Old Zionsville signed the official Pennsylvania certificate of death. An obituary in the Allentown Democrat reported that he was "the oldest resident of Lehigh county... When Mr. Gaumer was born the population of the United States was 7,500,000; now it is 102,000,000, and progress in industry, science and wealth has been proportionately still greater. Such inventions and improvements as railroads, telegraphs and telephones, which have revolutionized the world, were created since Mr. Gaumer was born."
Funeral services were held at Solomon's Church, led by Rev. J.J. Schaffer and Rev. Fahl. Schaffer's funeral sermon was based on Timothy 4:17: "I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course; I have kept the faith." The Democrat described the funeral service, where the church choir:
...rendered three selections. A large concourse of friends and relatives viewed the remains which reposed in a beautiful black casket with silver bars and name plate. He was dressed in his own black suit. He was covered with a cream brocaded silk robe presented by his daughter, Mrs. Sarah Gorr Walbert and grand-daughter, Mrs. Sarah Gorr Martz who had ministered to his wants during the past two years, the period he was bedfast.... The children laid a sheaf of wheat upon his casket most appropriate to his years, sago palms and carnations were sent by a niece, Mrs. Oliver Schneck.
Pallbearers included his four grandsons, William Gaumer, Harvey Gaumer, John Gaumer and Clement Kern. In addition to his children, his survivors included 10 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. A record of the event was printed in the 1941 booklet, entitled Centennial Celebration Solomon’s Church (Evangelical and Reformed) of Macungie, Pennsylvania, with an original preserved in the Minerd.com Archives.
~ Daughter Sarah Ann (Gaumer) Gorr Walbert ~
Daughter Sarah Ann Gaumer (1843-1920) was born on Oct. 8, 1843 in Lower Macungie. She was twice married.
Her first husband was Dr. Jonas F. Gorr (Feb. 12, 1839-1872). He was a teacher who went on to pursue a medical career and graduate from Bellevue Hospital Medical College in New York.
They bore four children, of whom three are identified -- Sarah "Sadie" Martz, Lila Violette Laros and Eva E. Gorr.
Jonas is known to have been drafted for duty in the Union Army during the Civil War, with his name appearing on a list in the German-language Der Lecha Caunty Patriot and the English Allentown Democrat-Extra. He was assigned to the 176th Pennsylvania Drafted Militia, Company A, but was discharged by a special order on Nov. 25, 1862.
Grief blanketed the family when daughter Eva, approaching her second birthday, died on Oct. 25, 1866. Her tender remains were interred in Solomon's Church Cemetery.
Circa 1870, they made a home in Pike Township, Berks County, where he was a physician. Then in 1872, they appear to have lived in Oley Township, Berks Couinty.
Heartache swept over the young family when, as Sarah was expecting their daughter Sarah, Jonas died on April 15, 1872, at the age of only 33. His remains were placed into eternal repose in the burying ground of Solomon's Evangelical and Reformed Church in Macungie. No Allentown newspapers, which may have carried his obituary, have been located for that period.
Then just 22 days into her life as an unexpected widow, on May 7, 1872, she gave birth to their daughter.
Sarah remained a widow for almost four years. Then on April 8, 1876, she wedded a second time to clerk William Walbert (1840- ? ).
The Walberts dwelled in Macungie and produced a son, William Peter Walbert. The boy was baptized by Rev. Thomas N. Reber in the family church, at the age of two-and-a-half months, on June 1, 1879. Sadly, he died on Aug. 13, 1881, at the age of two years, five months and three days. The boy's funeral service was conducted by the same pastor who had performed the baptism, Rev. Reber.
William was active in volunteer leadership with Solomon's Church. On March 4, 1883, he was elected treasurer of the congregation's Missions-Verein (Missionary Society)
Sarah appears to have held a deep feeling for preserving the name and legacy of her first spouse. On May 21, 1899, a new Solomon's Church building was dedicated in Macungie, under the leadership of Rev. Myron O. Rath, to great acclaim. She and her daughters arranged to underwrite a stained glass window in his memory, said the Allentown Morning Call, featuring the depiction of an "emblem, cross, surmounted with crown and letters, I.H.S. on cross-beam." The Morning Call went on to say:
It is a beautiful edifice -- a credit to the town, the community and the congregation which erected it. It seems as if the same spirit which prompted Solomon to erect beautiful temples to the glory of God had entered the hearts of those Macungie Lutherans. There is about this building something which impresses the observer with the idea that those who caused its erection were in earnest, strong in faith and steadfast of purpose. All this is portrayed in the solidity, simplicity, and beauty of the building. It is of Gothic design. There is no attempt at elaboration and that which is commonly called "gingerbread," the bane of modern architecture, is entirely absent.
She became widowed a second time and and lived with her elderly father in 1900-1910. After her father's death, she went to dwell with her daughter Sadie Martz in East Macungie.
On the late afternoon of Aug. 10, 1920, she went out to the garden to gather some potatoes. She suffered a stroke of apoplexy, fell on her back and died on the ground. Her body was found by a grandson, Henry Martz. Reported the Allentown Morning Call, she "had not complained of feeling ill, and only the day previous had taken a trip to Reading with her daughter." Funeral services were held in the Walbert home, followed by burial in Union Cemetery in East Macungie.
Daughter Lila Violette Gorr (1866-1942) was born on May 12, 1866. In about 1884, at the age of 18, she married 29-year-old widower Milton H.K. Laros (April 22, 1855-1941), the son of William L. and Lydia (Kline) Laros of Griesemersville, Lehigh County. Their union endured for 56 years until cleaved apart by death. He had been married previously to Lila's relative Melventa Gorr (Dec. 31, 1861-1882), daughter of James Gibson and Susan (Miller) Gore, and brought two very small children to the union -- Mabel Farr and George M. Laros. Milton's first wife had died less than a month after childbirth with son George, and Lila became an instant stepmother. Lila and Milton went on to produce seven more children of their own -- William J. Laros, Hilda Cook, Pauline Moyer, Joyce Horlacher, Lucille Schnurman, Paul Laros and Henry Laros. Sadly, son Paul died in about 1893. Milton received his higher education at Muhlenberg College and Blackman's Business College. He began working in a general store in Macungie, where he spent a decade. He then moved to Allentown and was employed in a retail shoe store. He also sold insurance for 23 years for Prudential Insurance Company, retiring in 1928. In 1901, he received a telephone call from his wife's grandfather, 88-year-old Joseph Gaumer, for the first time in the aged man's life. The call came through the Lehigh Telephone Company in Allentown, and the Allentown Leader reported that Grandfather Gaumer "easily recognized the voice of Mr. Laros and was well understood by him." For nearly five decades, they resided in Allentown at the address of 1234 Chew Street. They were members of the Zion Evangelical and Reformed Church. Reported the Allentown Morning Call, "Always active, he proved to be the life of the party despite his advanced years and up until the time of his [last] illness amazed his many friends by his enthusiastic participation in social activities. He was also a keen follower of the sport of quoiting, an exercise he indulged in at the West End Quoit Club." Milton was burdened over the last decade of his life with an enlarged prostate. He also bore heart problems. He suffered a heart attack and died at home at the age of 85 on Feb. 15, 1941. Rev. Simon S. Sipple officiated at the funeral service. As a widow, Lila suffered from hypertension. On the fateful day of Sept. 3, 1942, she was stricken with an embolism and fell over dead in her yard, as had her mother some 22 years earlier. The following spring, on May 30, 1943, Lila was among several members of the family church to be honored during its annual memorial service.
Great-grandson Nathan G. Cook ( ? - ? ) dwelled in Ford City, Armstrong County, PA in 1956.
Great-grandson William G. Cook ( ? - ? ) made a home in East Aurora, NY.
Great-granddaughter Hilda Cook ( ? - ? ) wedded William Van Arsdale. They resided in 1956 in Trenton, NJ.
Daughter Sarah Gorr (1872-1940) -- also nicknamed "Sadie" and "Sallie" -- was born on May 7, 1872 in Oley, Berks County. On Oct. 3, 1894, at the age of 22, she wedded 25-year-old Joseph "Howard" Martz (Jan. 8, 1869-1932), the son of prominent Allentown contractor Joseph F. and Ellen (Lazarus) Martz. The wedding ceremony was held at Grace Lutheran chapel in Macungie, and the Allentown Morning Call reported that she "carried a lovely bouquet of white roses; the bride's maids carried a cluster of yellow chrysanthemums and the maid of honor also carried a boquet of that composite gems." Their first home was at 126 North Eighth Street. They were the parents of Catherine L. Martz, Henry G. Martz, Howard L. Martz and Jacob G. Martz. Howard served as treasurer of the Allentown Turner and Liederkranz Association. In 1891, Howard's name was in the news when A.P. Schalm, treasurer of the association, absconded with the organization's funds and stole Howard's bicycle in his getaway. Then circa 1894, he was a partner with the civil engineering and architectural firm of Lehr, Leh and Martz. The other members of the firm were S.D. Lehr and A.W. Leh, and their offices were at 720 Hamilton Street in Allentown and 214 Second Street in South Bethlehem. Circa 1896, he was engaged to study the economics of the market houses in Reading and Lancaster and report on how the revenues of Allentown's could be improved. Then in 1897, as candidate for the politically charged position of city engineer for Allentown, it was reported that the firm would dissolve so that partner Lehr could act more independently, free from politics. He was voted into the position by city council election in May 1897. When the nation was at war with Spain in 1898, he served as Sergeant Major of the Fourth Regiment, and later the Seventh Regiment, comprised of local men.
Then in the spring of 1899, Joseph and his father engaged in discussions with a prominent New York architectural firm specializing in theatres to consult on converting Allentown's market building into a "grand theatre." Work progressed quickly on the project, named "Lyric Theatre," and it opened to fanfare in on Oct. 10, 1899, with Howard and his father considered its proprietors. At one point he was elected president of the St. John's Young People's Guild of his church congregation, St. John's Reformed Church.
But the Martzes' fortunes turned in 1908, when Howard could no longer control his deviant sexual urges. He was publicly accused of raping three underage girls. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years and three months in prison as well as paying $250 in a fine plus court costs. Sarah sued for divorce, and her petition was approved in Nov. 1910. He appears to have served his sentence and then, upon release, began working as a freight manager for the family owned trolley company. Again in September 1914, he was accused of sodomizing a seven-year-old girl, but was acquitted. The following year, he was arrested for indecent assault on five girls between eight and 13 years of age. He was found guilty and sentenced to another six months in prison. After six months of incarceration, he received an early release in 1916, but again was charged in April 1916 with indecently assaulting two girls. He was found guilty, and in September 1916 was admitted to the Fairview Asylum for the Criminal Insane. He was held there until June 1917, when he convinced authorities that he "has been restored to his full mental faculties," said the Allentown Democrat, and as a result was returned to Lehigh County. Howard then appears to have opened a candy and cigar store in Bethlehem at New and Second Streets. But he could not control his demons. Again in September 1921, he was accused of serving alcoholic beverage to a 15-year-old girl and then spending the night with her at a local hotel. He was arrested. In December 1923, he was fined $100 for selling moonshine whiskey out of his store. He remarried at some point to Rose ( ? - ? ) and dwelled at 361 South Fifth Street. At the age of 63, he suffered a stroke of paralysis and died in Allentown Hospital on Nov. 26, 1932. Burial was in Highland Cemetery.
For years, Sarah lived in East and Lower Macungie and was a member of the Grace Lutheran Church's Sunday School. She is known to have hosted a visit in August 1913 from Robert Bauder, Mrs. Hauck, Mrs. Ed Martz, Mrs. Sterner of Allentown and Fred Lazarus of New York. Sadly, Sarah spent her final years as a widow, with her home in East Macungie. Suffering from inflammation of her nerves, she suffered a stroke of apoplexy and lasted for less than two weeks before dying on Sept. 18, 1940. She was 68 years, four months and 11 days in her age. Her remains were lowered into eternal repose in Solomons Church in Macungie, with Rev. Jesse Renninger delivering the funeral sermon. An obituary in the Allentown Morning Call noted that floral tributes for the funeral were provided by family, friends, Sunday School class members, the East Penn Foundry and Co. and the Patriotic Order of Americans.
[In an unusual twist, Sarah's cousin by marriage, Elizabeth C. "Nina" (Horvath) Weidner, of the family of William Gaumer, was a stage performer who is considered one of the first fan dancers to perform at the Lyric.]
Great-grandson Francis C. Martz (1917- ? ) was born in about 1917. He was but a boy when his parents divorced. In July 1941, evidence suggests that he wedded Esther S. Phillips ( ? - ? ), daughter of William Phillips, with the service led by Rev. John Donahue of Immaculate Conception Church. At the time, he worked for Mack Manufacturing Company and she at Zollinger-Harned's. They were in Allentown in the 1950s but are believed to have relocated to Colorado Springs.
Great-grandson Richard M.M. Martz (1922- ? ) was born in about 1922. He dwelled in 1964 in Stowe, PA.
Great-grandson Major Douglas G. Martz (1930- ? ) was born in about 1930. He studied at Gettysburg College. He lived in San Antonio, TX in 1964.
~ Daughter Caroline Elemira (Gaumer) Snyder ~
Daughter Caroline Elemira Gaumer (1846-1918) was born on April 23, 1846 in Lower Macungie.
On Oct. 28, 1865, when she was age 19, she wedded 21-year-old Leon Lewis Snyder (Nov. 8, 1843-1926), son of Samuel H. and Lydia (Lichtenwalner) Snyder of Lehigh County.
Their only known son was Dr. Harvey Leon Snyder. They also helped raise a fatherless niece, Caroline Estella Gaumer.
A memoir written by their grandson Senator Henry Leon Snyder suggests that a variety of home remedies were practiced in the Snyder household:
There were few other remedies available, and the beliefs brought over from the home land remained. No one can tell when all of them should or will disappear... Among the chief subjects surrounded by peculiar and mysterious meaning were brooms, cats, thunder showers, willow trees, clocks, owns, ghosts, cowlicks, and mirrors. Dreams, too, were given definite interpretations in the community. When any of the following subjects appeared in their dreams there was much speculation at the breakfast table, and many a plan was changed because of them -- cats, muddy water, funerals, snakes, white horses, hair pins, spiders, horseshoes, umbrellas, fallen pictures, crickets, and stumbling pall-bearers. Witches were kept out by the handling of a toad's foot, the gathering of cat's hair or the proper placing of a broom. Goose fat, when properly applied, was good for all ailments. Iron rings cured rheumatism. A left stocking cured a sore throat. A red string around the neck stopped nose bleeding. Water taken from an old tree stump removed freckles. Hair cuts were given only during the increase of the moon and the surest cure for a tootache was picking the tooth with a splinter from a tree struck by lightning.
Hosts of old proverbs passed down from parent to child provided important life lessons:
"Who will not hear must feel" -- "Size alone is not enough else a cow could catch a rabbit" -- "Every one must carry his own hide to the tanner" -- "One must live and let live" -- "Where there is smoke there is fire" -- "A blind hog sometimes finds an acorn" -- "A child bornon Sunday will be proud" -- Never get out of bed backwards" -- "always leave by the same door your enter" -- "If you get married, jump over a brook stick" -- "If the lesson is hard put it under the pillow."
As a young man, Leon taught at the Old Zionsville School in 1872 and 1879. Over the decades, he also earned a living as a surveyor, "conveyancer," scrivener, insurance and collecting agent in Zionsville. He placed advertisements in the Allentown Democrat circa 1879. When a federal post office was established in Old Zionsville, Leon was named its first postmaster, and he also served as a justice of the peace.
Burdened with chronic kidney disease, she succumbed at the age of 71 on Feb. 28, 1918. Grandson Henry L. Snyder of Old Zionsville was the informant for the death certificate. Burial was in Old Zionsville Lutheran Church Cemetery, with Dr. D.C. Kauffman officiating. The Allentown Morning Call printed an obituary.
Leon survived his wife by eight years. He died at the age of 82 on Feb. 21, 1926. Funeral services were held in the home and later at the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Old Zionsville. Rev. D.C. Kauffman and Rev. James N. Blatt led the services. He was laid to rest in the burying ground next to the church.
In 1947, more than two decades following his death, Leon was named in a book authored by grandson was Senator Henry Leon Snyder, Old Zionsville (Miami, FL: Southern Publishing Company).
Son Dr. Harvey Leon Snyder (1868-1899) was born in 1868. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1889 and in 1890 established a practice in his home region of Old Zionsville. In reporting on his return, the Allentown Democrat said that "A want long felt at Oldzionsville ... has been supplied." On Sept. 17, 1891, he was united in marriage with Mary Ellen R. "Mamie" Bleam (May 23, 1872-1948), also spelled "Bliem," daughter of Henry G. and Tillie (Shelly) Bliem of near Spinnerstown. The nuptials were held in the Bliem home, with Rev. Shelly and Rev. M.O. Rath officiating. They had three children, Senator Henry Leon Snyder, Harvey Joseph Snyder and Mary Esther Nay. He was a member of the Knights of the Golden Eagles and the Lehigh Valley Medical Society. Harvey seems to have been accident prone over the years. In September 1891, he drove into Macungie on business and tied his horse to a post in an alley. Upon returning, said the Democrat, he "jumped into his buggy to drive back to the main street of the place. He had however scarcely taken the lines in hand before it developed that the horse had worked the bit from his mouth, and as a consequence he became ungovernable and soon broke into a runaway gait, and reaching Main street made made so rapid a turn that the occupant was thrown out. Fortunately he landed in such a way that he sustained but light hurts. The runaway soon brought the vehicle in collision with a lamp post, and by force of it was released from the carriage. He then continued on and turned into Lea street and out into the country, and to the Doctor's home. The carriage was wrecked, and the harness badly damaged." Then in April 1892, seeking to enlarge his practice, he relocated into Quakertown. He acquired the practice of Dr. Brobst in Macungie in October 1894 which expanded business even more. He spent two years in a Philadelphia hospital, gaining more experience.
But on the fateful day of Oct. 21, 1899, he met an accident which claimed his life. He was called to North Wales to treat a man whose throat had been slashed. While running in the rain across railroad tracks where the victim lay, Harvey was struck by a train and killed instantly. Funeral services were held in the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church Cemetery, led by Rev. I.B. Ritter, whose sermon was based on Deuteronomy 32:39 -- "See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand." He was assisted in the service by Rev. Dr. Eli Keller, Rev. A.S. Schelley and Rev. A.B. Schelley. Members of the medical society, who were pallbearers for his cream-colored casket, included Drs. Backenstoe, Herbst, Dickenshied, Erdman, Riegal and Mensch. A story in the Allentown Morning Call reported that it was "One of the largest funerals ever held in this section of the county." Mary Ellen went on to marry a second time to banker and business owner Claude T. Rufe (1868-1948) and bore several more children, among them Claude Raymond Rufe, Oswin B. Rufe, Mrs. John A. Koder and Anna Osman. She belonged to the First Evangelical and Reformed Church of Quakertown and of the Order of Eastern Star. Mary Ellen died in the Quakertown Community Hospital at the age of 75 on Feb. 13, 1948. The Allentown Morning Call said that she was survived by 14 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
The underling purposes in pesenting this volume have been entirely selfish. They pertain strictly to the payment of a personal debt. To whom? To the people whose traditions, sacrifices, and virtues have enriched my life. The special privilege of having lived on their farms during the early years of the twentieth century increases the obligations. Precious years of a great century! Great-grandfather told us of the war of 1812. Grand-father spoke of the Civil War. Uncle John described San Juan Hill. Brother Bill returned safely from the Argonne... The insistence that future generations of the descendants of Pennsylvania Germans remember and cherish the customs of their forefathers may not be unwarranted. They shall not be permitted to see the changes from stage coach to auto bus -- from telegraph to telephone -- from kerosene to electric light -- from horse plow to tractors -- from family carriage to four door sedan -- from turnpike to concrete highway -- from wood stove to oil burner -- from medicine show to radio -- from the bell in the steeple to chimes in the tower.
Henry's first wife was Lillian "Blanche" Gintzer (1896-1981), daughter of Mary J. Gintzer of Harrisburg, Dauphin County. They met at Perkiomen School in Pennsburg, where he was a professor of English and she a student. News of their engagement was published in the Allentown Morning Call on April 12, 1917, stating that "He is widely known as a public speaker, having been actively engaged during the presidential campaign." Their ceremony was held on May 5, 1917, at Old Zionsville, and the Morning Call reported that "The marriage was to be kept a secret until the bride's graduation in June, but the news leaked out in school circles soon after." The couple bore a daughter, Eleanor Lucille Snyder, born in 1918. By 1920, the marriage had dissolved.
Great-granddaughter Eleanor Lucille Snyder (1918-2003) was born on Valentine's Day 1918. She was very young when her parents divorced. As a young woman, she attended Linden Hall Seminary in Lititz, PA and Marion College in Marion, VA, and then obtained employment with Charis Corporation. As she reached milestones in her life, she was pictured in the Allentown Morning Call. In May 1950, it was announced that she was engaged to Richard Lloyd Boyer, son of Charles Boyer of Easton, PA. At the time, Charles was a public relations officer in Allentown with the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force Recruiting Service. Whether or not the couple actually tied the knot is unknown. In her later years, Eleanor used her maiden name. Her final years were spent in Tesuque, Santa Fe County, NM. She passed away there at the age of 85 on March 6, 2003.
Great-granddaughter Leanne Mary Snyder married (?) Roberts.
Great-granddaughter Mary Ellen Snyder
Great-grandson Dr. C. Paul Nay Jr. lived in Springfield, MA in 1981.
Great-grandson Robert L. May made a home in Bethlehem, PA in 1981.
Step-great-grandson D. Wayne Shelly resided in Allentown.
Step-great-grandson Rev. Edgar W. Shelly Jr. dwelled in Milan, OH.
Step-great-grandson Richard P. Shelly lived in Chambersburg, Franklin County, PA.
Step-great-granddaughter (?) Shelly married E. Robert Scott. Their home in 1981 was in Webster, NY.
~ Daughter Mary Ann "Annie" (Gaumer) Kern ~
Daughter Mary Ann "Annie" Gaumer (1849-1922) was born on Aug. 22, 1849.
When she was about 24 years of age, circa 1873, she was united in marriage with Edward R. Kern (Nov. 17, 1848-1937), son of Jonas and Elizabeth (Ritter) Kern.
They had three offspring, Ella M. Rebecca Fisher, Clement Kern and William E. Kern.
When the federal census enumerations were made in the 1880-1900 timeframe, the Kerns resided on a farm in Upper Milford Township, Lehigh County.
Then by 1902, they relocated to East Macungie, Lower Macunige Township, about a mile east of the town. There, circa 1910, he was considered a "yeoman" -- a common laborer. They remained there into the 1920s. He was retired by 1920.
When in her early 70s, Annie began to show signs of senility as well as suffer from heart disease.
She died at the age of 72 on March 15, 1922. Her remains were lowered into rest in Union Cemetery in Macungie, with a death notice appearing in the Allentown Morning Call.
Edward outlived his wife by 15 years. His address in the late 1930s was with his son William at 108 East Main Street in Macungie.
At the age of 88, Edward suffered from cancer which led to cardiac failure and a refusal or inability to eat. He died at age 88 on Sept. 17, 1937. Interment was in Solomon's Union Church Cemetery, also known as Solomon's Reformed Church.
Daughter Ella M. Rebecca Kern (1876-1958) was born on Aug. 11, 1876 in Upper Milford Township, Lehigh County. In April 1902, when she was 25 years of age, she wedded a cousin, 28-year-old William D. Fisher (Oct. 27, 1873-1930), son of Daniel and Caroline (Fegley) Fisher of Upper Milford, of the family of Jesse and Elizabeth (Baer) Fegley. The marriage nuptials were led by Rev. Thomas W. Dickert at the home of the bride's parents a mile east of Macungie. In a story about the wedding, the Allentown Leader said that "After the ceremony they were driven to the depot when they took the train for Allentown and took up their home on Church Street." The pair did not reproduce. William learned the trade of harness-making as a youth at the hand of Mr. Landis in Macungie. Then he moved to Elmira and Bath, NY to continue in the field. Later, in about 1898, they returned to Allentown so that he could accept a new position with the saddlery firm of F.G. Sieger & Co. Two years later, William left Sieger in 1900 to join the saddlery shop of George J. Guth & Bro., producing harness and leather work, and remained there for good. Their address in 1922 was 40 South Madison Street.
For three decades, William earned a living as a foreman with the Guth business. Ella and William were members of Trinity Reformed Church, where he was a member of the consistory and librarian of the pastor's Bible class. The Allentown Morning Call once said that William "was a great Bible student and for many years an active worker in church affairs." He also belonged to the Livingston Castle of the Knights of the Golden Eagle and the Phil H. Sheridan Council of the Fraternal Patriotic Americans. In the early weeks of 1930, he was diagnosed with chronic heart disease, and he stopped working for a time. Six months later, at the age of 56, he came home from work one day complaining of feeling ill. The family reeled in shock when he died in his sleep on May 29, 1930 after an acute enlargement of a heart valve. Burial was in Solomon's Reformed Church Cemetery in Macungie, with Rev. J.J. Schaeffer officiating at the service. On the day of the funeral, the Guth store closed its business during afternoon hours so that its proprietors could attend. Ella lived for another 28 years as a widow and lived at 50 West Main Street in Macungie. As her health declined, from the effects of hardening of the arteries, she became a resident of the Devitt Home in Allenwood, Gregg, Union County. She died there after a three-months' stay on Christmas Day 1958, with the Morning Call printing an obituary. Her remains were returned to Lehigh County to rest in the Kern family plot in Macungie's Solomon's Church Cemetery.
Son Clement F. Kern (1878-1912) was born on Nov. 8, 1878. In about 1903, when he would have been 24 years of age, he married 21-year-old Bertha Bieber (1882-1975). The Kerns were farmers. They bore a daughter, Annie E. Long. In December 1902, Clement announced that he had rented the Solomon Lichtenwalner farm, located between Litzenberg and Trexlertown, and would occupy it in the spring. That year, a local newspaper referred to him as a "prosperous farmer of Upper Milford." In 1909, he was elected as a deacon of Solomon's Evangelical and Reformed Church in Macungie. His name is listed among the deacons in a 1941 booklet, entitled Centennial Celebration Solomon’s Church (Evangelical and Reformed) of Macungie, Pennsylvania, with an original copy preserved in the Minerd.com Archives. When his grandfather Joseph Gaumer died in 1912, Clement was chosen as a pallbearer.
But tragedy befell the young family and church man later that year, just after Christmas. On the fateful day of Dec. 28, 1912, Clement suffered a freak injury which claimed his life. Reported the Allentown Democrat:
Shortly before 4 o'clock the unfortunate man started up a gasoline engine to cut fodder, and in some manner one of his gloves was caught in the machinery. In trying to release it his right arm was caught in the belting and before he could free himself his whole arm was mangled. The forearm was fractured and the flesh torn in shreds. The bone at the shoulder was torn from its socket. He also suffered a deep gash in his arm below the shoulder. Although frightfuly injured he managed to walk into the house, where medical aid was at once summoned. He succombed [sic] to his injuries yesterday morning at 8 o'clock, his death being due to loss of blood.
Clement was only 34 at the time. The newly widowed Bertha signed the official Pennsylvania certificate of death. Burial was in Solomon's Church Cemetery. Bertha moved into the Lower Macungie home of her widowed grandmother, Maria C. Smoyer, as shown in the 1920 census. By 1930, still in Lower Macungie, she made a home for her daughter and son-in-law. The trio moved during the 1930s to Emmaus, where they lived in adjacent dwellings on North Third Street. In 1940, Bertha worked as a sewing machine operator for a retail furniture company. She was a widow for more than six decades after her husband's senseless death. Her final home was in Emmaus. The Angel of Death carried her away in July 1975, at the age of about 93, with burial at Solomon's Church.
Son William E. Kern (1884-1968) was born on April 28, 1884 in Upper Milford Township. When he reached his 16th birthday, he received his confirmation into membership of the Solomon's Reformed and Solomon's United Church of Christ in Macungie. The ceremony was held on April 8, 1900, presided over by Rev. Thomas W. Dickert. William wedded Cora M. Wenner (April 27, 1885-1970). The couple did not reproduce. They were farmers and in about 1912 lived between Shimersville and Macungie. Circa 1937, when his father resided and then died in their home, the Kerns' address was 108 East Main Street in Macungie. William stopped farming and went to work for the Brown Shoe Company in Allentown, retiring in 1953. In 1930, William was elected as an elder in Solomon's church congregation. His name is listed among the elders in a 1941 booklet, entitled Centennial Celebration Solomon’s Church (Evangelical and Reformed) of Macungie, Pennsylvania, with an original copy preserved in the Minerd.com Archives. Their residence in 1968 was at 46 West Main Street in Macungie. Toward the end, he was admitted to Cedarbrook in rural Allentown, where he died at age 83 on June 30, 1968. An obituary in the Allentown Morning Call noted that "His widow is the sole immediate survivor." Cora only lived for another two years after her husband's death. She joined him in eternity on May 28, 1970, at the age of 85. They rest together in the Kern family plot at Solomon's Church Cemetery in Macungie.
~ Son John Joseph Gaumer ~
Son John Joseph Gaumer (1855-1889) was born on April 13, 1855 in Upper Milford Township, Lehigh County.
Unmarried at the age of 25, he lived at home with his parents and labored as a coal miner.
He eventually married Alwilda L. Ziegler (Nov. 6, 1861-1926), daughter of William and Caroline (Ettinger) Ziegler. Her name also has been spelled as "Alevesta" and "Aravilda."
The couple went on to produce a family of five children -- Mabel Violet Ott, Caroline Estella Gaumer, William Joseph Gaumer, Harvey Leon Gaumer and John Adam Gaumer.
At the births of two of the children in the early half of the 1880s, the babies were baptized by Rev. Thomas N. Reber in Solomon's Evangelical and Reformed Church in Macungie.
In about 1886, John borrowed a sum of $563 from his father. The amount was never repaid in the son's lifetime. The Gaumers were farmers, and their home in 1889 was in Salisbury Township, Lehigh County.
John was a member of a local camp of the Patriotic Order of the Sons of America. In the spring of 1889, he contracted an intestinal disorder "during the haying season ... by working too hard," said the Allentown Democrat. "He resided on the Kemmerer farm, about midway between this city and Emaus, and daily furnished milk supplies to several large consumers in this city."
Sadly, John's intestinal problems continued into summer, and the Democrat noted that "his recovery is very doubtful." He passed away at the age of 34, on Aug. 28, 1889. Rev. T.N. Reber officiated at the funeral services held in Macungie, with burial in what today is the cemetery of Solomon's United Church of Christ. His brother-in-law, Leon L. Snyder, served as administrator of the estate and placed estate notices in the Democrat. His age at death was 34 years, four months and 15 days. His grave marker was carved by "Becker."
The family avoided another blow when learning that, although a member of the POSA, the camp was not in existence long enough for sick and funeral benefits to be paid out. Because the sons were so young, the camp agreed to waive its rule and donated the funds that the family would otherwise have received.
An estate sale was conducted in November 1889, which included 2 heavy-built bay horses, considered "good and gentle workers;" 2 black mares, one a heavy brood mare, "good workers and gentle drivers;" a year-old grey stallion; 8 good cows; a heifer; 2 breed sows; 7 shoats; a good dog; 2 four-horse wagons; a two-horse wagon; a one and two-horse wagon; a top spring wagon; a top buggy; a buggy; 3 ore bodies; a two-horse body; a stone body; 2 new bobsleds; a wood sled; a truck sleigh; and a sleigh. The inventory also included a Champion seed drill; extra land roller; horse hay rake; Champion binder and new canvas; a scraper; a corn plow; 2 cultivators; a Huebner threshing machine with a one-horse treadle power and belt; a grain fan; feed cutter; cutting box; hay ladders and bolsers; horse dung hook; carriage pole; 2 scythes and sheaths; 2 plows; wagon boards; plow truck; 2 harrows; 2 feed troughs; a lady's saddle; log and other chains; 2 sets of light single harnesses; a set of light double harness; heavy harness; and interest in 10 acres of corn.
The IOU from 1886 was not settled until about 1912, after the death of John's father, when the sum of $563 was to be withheld from a cash distribution to John's children.
Alwilda grieved for several years until remarriage in May 1893 to general store proprietor Milton S. Hohe ( ? - ? ), a resident of Upper Saucon Township near Lanark. Said the Allentown Morning Call, "The groom is a carpenter working in Allentown and the bride resides at home with her father, since the death of her first husband some years ago. Their many friends wish them much joy." They established a home in Mountainville at the top of Lehigh Mountain along the Coopersburg Turnpike. The couple bore four more children -- Mrs. Charles Dinger, Mrs. Horace Bergenstock (or "Kerkenstock"), Mrs. Paul Bittner and Harold Hohe.
Circa 1895, Alwilda arranged for two of her Gaumer sons to be enrolled at Philadelphia's prestigious Girard College.
Alwilda belonged to St. Mark's Reformed Church and was active with its Ladies' Aid Society. She also volunteered with the Home Department of Trinity Memorial Church of Mountainville. Their address in 1926 was 127 North Pike Avenue. At the age of 65, Alwilda suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died on Nov. 18, 1926. Interment was in St. Mark's Cemetery, with Rev. G.D. Kressley and Rev. M.B. Schmoyer officiating. Said the Morning Call, "The funeral was largely attended and a profusion of flowers surrounded the casket."
Daughter Mabel Violet Gaumer (1881- ? ) was born in Oct. 1881. She was but a girl of eight when her father died. She was taken into the home of her grandfather Joseph Gaumer, where she resided in 1900. Then in 1901, feeling pain in her head, she was diagnosed by Dr. J.A. Brobst with an abscess. Surgery was performed in the Polyclinic Hospital in Philadelphia. Reported the Allentown Leader, "The bone back of the left ear was opened, the brain being laid bare the size of a dime, and the wound carefully treated." She returned home to her grandfather. In January 1903, they were robbed by men who "forced open the door of the summer kitchen," said the Leader, "and carried away quite a lot of plunder. A good overcoat, a pair new shoes, a pair overalls, a mantel clock, a lot of groceries and a few minor articles are missed. Mr. Gaumer thinks he heard the noise the rascals made but did not venture to disturb them, as he is an old man and only his granddaughter ... was with him at the time." On May 10, 1905, Mabel wedded Harold J. Ott (June 21, 1884-1960), son of John and Elmire "Ella" (Schaffer) Ott. The nuptials were held in a quiet ceremony in a church parsonage by Rev. Myron O. Rath. In reporting on the wedding, the Allentown Morning Call said she "looked beautiful in a gown of Paris mousseline and carried bridal roses.... The bride is a daughter of the late John Gaumer, of Macungie, and is very popular among a large circle of relatives and friends. For some years she has been an active worker in Grace Lutheran Church, Macungie, and is a teacher in the Sunday school." At the time of marriage, Harold worked in or with the local YMCA. They were the parents of John H. Ott. In Oct. 1912, when the estate of her late grandfather finally was settled, she was bequeathed a bed, carpet, drop leaf table, mirror, sink, clock and four chairs. Sadness blanketed the family on May 30, 1924, when son John was killed in an automobile accident in Washington, DC at the age of 18, with his 57-year-old grandmother Ella Ott injured. His remains were brought back home for burial in Union Cemetery, and a death notice printed in the Morning Call. Harold earned a living over the years as an attendant in a theatre. Their address in 1960 was 1137 Walnut Street in Allentown. On Nov. 18, 1960, burdened with an ulcer of his duodenum, John suffered a heart attack and died in Sacred Heart Hospital in Allentown. Burial was in West End Cemetery.
Daughter Caroline Estella "Carrie" Gaumer (1883-1960) was born on Feb. 26, 1883 in Macungie. On June 3, 1883, when she was a little more than three months of age, she was baptized in Solomonk's Evangelical and Reformed Church of Macungie. Rev. Thomas N. Reber led the ceremony. A record of the event was printed in the 1941 booklet, entitled Centennial Celebration Solomon’s Church (Evangelical and Reformed) of Macungie, Pennsylvania, with an original preserved in the Minerd.com Archives. She was only six years old at her father's untimely death, and was brought into the home of her aunt and uncle, Caroline and Leon L. Snyder. She lived in New Zionsville in 1904. At some point Caroline wedded Harvey Knecht ( ? - ? ). Their sons are believed to have been Paul Knecht and Leon Knecht. They lived in Allentown in 1915, and their address in 1960 was 1027 South 6th Street. Carrie suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in the fall of 1960 and died two days later, at the age of 71, on Oct. 30, 1960. Her remains were interred in Grandview Cemetery.
Son William Joseph Gaumer (1884-1959) was born on Sept. 24, 1884. On Nov. 16, 1885, when he was about 14 months of age, he was baptized by Rev. Thomas N. Reber in Solomon's Evangelical and Reformed Church in Macungie. A record of the event was printed in the 1941 booklet, entitled Centennial Celebration Solomon’s Church (Evangelical and Reformed) of Macungie, Pennsylvania. He was a child at the death of his father. His mother somehow secured and admission for him to Girard College in Philadelphia. Circa 1903, he was a member of the Pioneer Band. In Feb. 1908, he married Eva J. Christman ( ? -1971), a native of Baltimore and the daughter of Edward and Wilhelmina (Eck) Christman. Four children were born to the couple -- Audrey M. Rayner, Mildred Quigg, John K. "Jack" Gaumer and Lorraine C. Hahn Dyer. Their address in the 1920s was 1735 Hanover Street, in the 1930s at 614 North 11th Street and in the 1940s was 627 North 7th Street. For some 21 years, he operated the American Auto Radiator Works in Allentown. Later, he became a machinist in the No. 6 shop of at Bethlehem Steel Company. Said the Allentown Morning Call, "A graduate of Girard College, he was an active member of the college alumni, putting much of his time into gaining college entrance for deserving students." They were members of St. Luke's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Allentown. When the couple celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in 1948, they were pictured in a related story in the Morning Call. Later, they relocated to the home of their married daughter Mildred Quigg at 738 Seneca Street in Fountain Hill. William retired from Bethlehem Steel in the late 1950s. He suffered a heart attack and died at the age of 74 on Feb. 7, 1959. Burial was in St. Mark's Church Cemetery. Eva lived for another dozen years as a widow. Toward the end of her life, she became a resident of Cedarbrook in Allentown. Death swept her away at the age of 87 on Feb. 3, 1971. Her survivors included seven grandchildren and a dozen great-grandchildren.
Son Harvey Leon Gaumer (1887-1959) was born in about 1887 and was a toddler at the death of his father. At the age of eight, he was admitted as a student to Philadelphia's Girard College in 1895, joining an older brother who already was enrolled there. Said the Allentown Democrat, "the mother is to be congratulated on her success in securing these rare privileges. The boys are now assured of a good education, and of being prepared to start out the battle of life better equipped than the large majority of lads not bereft of their father in early youth, as they unfortunately were." Harvey made a home in Philadelphia in 1911 and by 1926 was in Merchantville, NJ. He married Gertrude ( ? - ? ). They were the parents of a daughter, Mrs. William Dorsey. Over the years, he was mayor of Pennsauken Township and served on the local boards of school district and sewer authority. Their address in the 1950s was 2285 Hillcrest Avenue in Pennsauken. He died in Pringe George Hospital in Cheverly, MD at the age of 72 on Sept. 27, 1959. An obituary in the Allentown Morning Call referred to him as "a native of Allentown."
Son John Adam "Ted" Gaumer (1889-1954) was born in Aug. 1889. He was an infant when his father died. He is believed to have married Irene Minnich ( ? - ? ), daughter of Edwin and Amanda (Ruth) Minnich of Allentown. They lived in Mountainville, Salisbury Township, Lehigh County in the 1920s. The couple bore three sons -- William J. Gaumer, Sr., Richard D. Gaumer and John C. Gaumer. They were Lutherans and later lived at 334 East Lexington Street in Allentown. At the age of 58, Irene died in Allentown Hospital on Feb. 28, 1954. John was still living in 1959 when named in the newspaper obituary of his brother Harvey.
Copyright © 2000, 2009, 2017-2018 Mark A. Miner