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Joseph Gaumer
(1813-1912)

 

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 (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.

 

Solomon's Church, Macungie, circa 1887,
built with stone which Joseph hauled.
Macungie, Pennsylvania: Centennial 1857-1957

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 he 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 and died on Dec. 28, 1889.

At the age of 97, he 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."

 

~ Daughter Sarah Ann (Gaumer) Gorr Walbert ~

Daughter Sarah Ann Gaumer (1844-1920) was born in about 1844 in Lower Macungie. She was twice married.

Her first husband was Dr. Jonas F. Gorr (1839- ? ), a teacher who went on to graduate from Bellevue Hospital Medical College in New York.

They bore four children, of whom two are known -- Sarah "Sadie" Martz and Lila Violette Laros.

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.

Circa 1870, they made a home in Pike Township, Berks County, where he was a physician.

Later, after Jonas' death, she wedded a second time to William Walbert ( ? - ? ). The Walberts produced a son, who sadly died in childhood.

She was widowed and lived with her elderly father in 1900-1910. After her father's death, she went to live 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 Sarah Gorr ( ? - ? ) -- also nicknamed "Sadie" and "Sallie" -- was born in (?). She wedded (?) Martz. In 1920, she lived in East Macungie.

 

Zion Evangelical and Reformed
Church, Allentown

Daughter Lila Violette Gorr (1866- ? ) was born in about 1866. She married Milton H.K. Laros (April 22, 1855- ? ), the son of William Laros of Griesemersville, Lehigh County. They produced a family of eight children -- Mabel Farr, Hilda Cook, Pauline Moyer, Joyce Horlacher, Lucille Schnurman, George M. Laros, William Laros and Henry Laros. They resided in Allentown at the address of 1234 Chew Street. Milton was a longtime agent for Prudential Insurance.

  • Granddaughter Mabel Laros married Jacob L. Farr and lived in Allentown.
  • Granddaughter Hilda Laros ( ? - ? ) was born in (?) in Macungie. She was a talented soprano singer. In 1911, she wedded Dr. William G. Cook ( ? - ? ). The couple relocated to McDonald, Washington County, near Pittsburgh. They produced three children -- Nathan G. Cook, William G. Cook and Hilda Van Arsdale. Over the years, she was a singer with the Bach Choir in Allentown and performed at the annual Bach Festival. She also performed with the Allentown Musical Club. She returned to Allentown in about 1942 and "resumed her activities with the choir," said the Allentown Morning Call. She supported herself as an artist floral arranger for Phoebe Floral Company and Kroninger Brothers. She belonged to the Zion Evangelical and Reformed Church in Allentown and was a member of its Sunday School. She also attended events of the Allentown Quota Club. Circa 1956, she resided in her parents' home at 1234 Chew Street.
  • Granddaughter Pauline Laros was joined in marriage with Reuben Moyer. They dwelled in 1940 in Allentown.
  • Granddaughter Joyce Laros was united in wedlock with Robert Horlacher. They resided in Allentown.
  • Granddaughter Lucille Laros married William Penrose Schnurman and lived in Allentown. Later, by 1975, she was in Bethlehem.
  • Grandson George M. Laros ( ? -1959) was born in (?) in Macungie. At the age of about 17, he left home and moved to Allentown. He wed Ida H. Weston ( ? - ? ) on Oct. 25, 1906, and their marriage endured for 53 years. Their offspring were James W. Laros, Richard J. Laros and Dorothy M. Laros. Also for 53 years, he was employed with the Farr Bros. shoe store in Allentown and managed the men's department. He was a member of the Zion United Church of Christ in Allentown, the Jordan lodge of the Masons, the 19th Street Bible Class and the Keystone Fire Company. He also was a charter member and trustee of the Allentown Moose lodge. Their address in the late 1950s was 2147 Liberty Street. He died at home at the age of 77 on March 30, 1959. Sons James and Richard operated Laros Bros. Plumbing and Heating Company of Allentown in the 1950s.
  • Grandson William J. Laros relocated to Philadelphia and lived there in 1956.
  • Grandson Henry G. Laros ( ? -1975) was born in (?). He married Arlene K. ( ? - ? ). They produced a daughter, Judith McCormick. Henry migrated to Detroit and in 1923 joined Swift & Co. He moved to Chicago, where he remained at least through 1959. He was a district superintendent for Swift & Co. of Philadelphia, retiring in 1963 after four decades of work. In 1964, he was named assistant to the vice president of sales and distribution for Arbogast & Bastian, Inc., a meat-packing firm of Allentown. They were members of First Presbyterian Church of Allentown. In his final years, he lived at 650 Benner Road in the Trexler Park Apartments in South Whitehall. He became ill at home on or about April 14, 1975 and was rushed to Sacred Heart Hospital, where he was dead on arrival.

 

~ 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 brom. Goose fat, when properly applied, was good for all ailments. Iron rings cured rheumatism. A left stockign 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.

 

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church and Cemetery, Old Zionsville.
Courtesy Burial Record 1758 to 1968, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Congregation Cemetery

 

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 Mamie R. Bliem ( ? - ? ), daughter of Henry 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 (wife of C. Paul 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. 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."

  • Old Zionsville, by Henry L. Snyder, and the
    Burial Record for which he authored the preface
    Grandson Henry Leon Snyder ( ? - ? ) was born in (?). After the death of his father in 1899, Henry went to live with his grandfather, Leon L. Snyder. After graduation from Upper Milford Township High School, he went to the Allentown Preparatory School and Muhlenberg College. Gifted as a speaker and writer, he won a statewide oratory competition in 1915. Early in his career, he served as principal of his former high school, was on the faculty of the Perekiomen School in Pennsburg, and was office manager for Standard Table Company of Greensboro, NC. He then attended the University of Virginia and was admitted to practice law in North Carolina. He then entered the Temple University School of Law. During World War I, he was a member of the National Committee on Public Information. He attended law school and in September 1922 was admitted to practice in the Lehigh County Bar. Then in the fall of 1921, in Upper Milford, he was elected justice of the peace "with a record vote," said the Allentown Morning Call in 1922, "just 40 years after his grandfather had been elected to the same office. Since his election he has taken a leading part in the community life of the lower end of the county. He was a leading factor in the organizing and working of the Western Upper Milford Community Association during the past year which has been a busy period, one of the greatest efforts having been the successful erection of the beautiful soldiers' memorial fountain on the state highway." He also found time to teach the Lutheran Sunday School at Old Zionsville. Fascinated with his early Pennsylvania German roots, he authored the book Old Zionsville, issued in 1947 by Southern Publishing Company of Miami, FL. In the preface, he wrote:

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.

 

~ Daughter Mary Ann "Annie" (Gaumer) Kern ~

Daughter Mary Ann "Annie" Gaumer (1849-1922) was born on Aug. 22, 1849.

She was united in marriage with Edward R. Kern (Nov. 17, 1848-1937), son of Jonas and Elizabeth (Ritter) Kern.

They had three offpsring, Clement Kern, William E. Kern and Ella Fisher.

 

 

They dwelled in East Macungie in 1902-1910, about a mile east of the town. 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 east. He died at age 88 on Sept. 17, 1937. Interment was in Solomon's Union Church Cemetery, also known as Solomon's Reformed Church.

Son William E. Kern (1885-1968) was born in about 1885 in Upper Milford Township. He wedded Cora Wenner ( ? - ? ). 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. They were members of Solomon's Union Church, also known as Solomon's Reformed and Solomon's United Church of Christ in Macungie. 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 Jue 30, 1968. An obituary in the Allentown Morning Call noted that "His widow is the sole immediate survivor."

Daughter Ella M.R. Kern (1876-1958) was born in about 1876 in Upper Milford Township. In April 1902, she wedded a cousin, 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. Dickeret 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 position with the saddler firm of F.G. Sieger & Co. He left Sieger in 1900 to join the saddler shop of George J. Guth & Bro., producing harness and leather work. Their address in 1922 was 40 South Madison Street. For three decades, William earned a living over the years as a foreman with Guth & Bro. 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. On the day of the funeral, the Guth store closed its business during afternoon hours so its proprietors could attend. Ella lived for another 28 years as a widow. As her health declined, she became a resident of the Devitt Home in Allenwood. She died there after a three-months' stay on Christmas Day 1958, with the Morning Call printing an obituary.

 

Typical farm scene in Upper Milford, circa 1914, making hay

 

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 Bertha Bieber (1882- ? ). They were farmers. The couple bore a daughter, Annie B. Kern. In December 1902, he announced that he had rented the Solomon Lichtenwalner farm, located between Litzenberg and Trexlertown, and would occupy it in the spring. When his grandfather Joseph Gaumer died in 1912, Clement was chosen as a pallbearer. That year, a local newspaper referred to him as a "prosperous farmer of Upper Milford." But tragedy befell the young 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 mornign 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 Reformed Church Cemetery in Macungie. 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.

  • Granddaughter Annie B. Kern (1908- ? ) was born in about 1908 in Upper Milford, Lehigh County. She was but a girl of four when her father died. Annie was united in wedlock with Raymond L. Long (1902- ? ). He was a house painter, and she earned income as a typist in an office. They lived under the roof of Annie's widowed mother in Lower Macungie 1930. They moved with Annie's mother to Emmaus in the 1930s. By 1940, Annie had obtained a position as a typist for a truck and bus firm, while he earned a living as a laborer with a novelties and metal craft business.

 

~ Son John Joseph Gaumer ~

Son John Joseph Gaumer (1855-1889) was born in about 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.

The couple produced five children -- Mabel Violet Ott, Caroline Estella Gaumer, William Joseph Gaumer, Harvey Leon Gaumer and John Adam Gaumer.

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. His brother-in-law, Leon L. Snyder, served as administrator of the estate and placed estate notices in the Democrat.

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, Mrs. Paul Bittner and Harold Hohe. Circa 1895, two of the Gaumer sons were students 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. 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.

 

Bethlehem Steel's sprawling works in Bethlehem

 

Son William Joseph Gaumer (1884-1959) was born on Sept. 24, 1884. 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 Christman ( ? - ? ). These children were born to the couple -- Mrs. Louis Rayner, Mrs. James Quiggs, Mrs. Malcolm Hahn and John Gaumer. Their address 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. When the couple celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in 1948, they were pictured in a related story in the Allentown Morning Call. Later, they relocated to 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.

Son Harvey Leon Gaumer ( ? - ? ) was born in (?). 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.

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 lived at 334 East Lexington Street in Allentown. At the age of 58, Irene died in Allentown Hospital on Feb. 28, 1954.

  • Grandson William J. Gaumer Sr. (1923-1981) was born in about 1923 in Mountainville. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army. William married Elsie Keri ( ? - ? ). Their two children were William J. Gaumer Jr. and Dr. Kerri Ann Freidl. For four decades, he worked as a marker and checker for Fuller Company in Allentown. He served as president of Mountainville Fire Company. At the age of 58, he died in Allentown Osteopathic Hospital on Nov. 27, 1981. An obituary appeared in the Allentown Morning Call.
  • Grandson Richard D. Gaumer ( ? - ? ) lived in Allentown in 1981.
  • Grandson John C. Gaumer ( ? - ? ) resided in Allentown in 1981.

 

Copyright 2000, 2009, 2017-2018 Mark A. Miner