Biery’s Port was the first recorded name given to the area that grew up around this river crossing. The first building was most likely a mill in the early 1700’s when the Scotch Irish Craig Settlement came to the area. A creek entered the river at this point, providing a shallow approach from the east. This shallow section of the Lehigh River was a crossing point for the Indians earlier, who maintained a burial ground close by. The crossing connected the early Craig Settlement with what is now Whitehall and Allen’s lands, later to become Allentown. By the late 1700s German farming families began to settle along the river here. Frederick Biery’s farm was on the east bank of the river in the early 1800s; their farmhouse on Race St, between what is now Front & Second Streets. Biery frequently was called upon to assist folks crossing the river, and the family soon established a ferry service, followed by operation of a toll bridge. Beiry also became owner of the mill, which Frederick’s family operated from 1800-1850. Frederick had five sons and three daughters. Two sons ran farms near Weaversville and Mickleys, while the others remained in Biery’s Port.
After the canal was built in 1827, three stone buildings at the corner of Race and Lehigh were built by Biery using native stone: two residences and one tavern. The canal was built to carry anthracite coal from Maugh Chunk to Philadelphia , but boats also carried other goods and passengers. Boats on the river would enter the canal from the north through a guard lock located just above the current site of the North Catasauqua/Hokendauqua Bridge (the bridge was not built until 1898). A guard lock at that location controled the flow of water into the canal and worked in conjunction with Lock 36 in Catasauqua to raise and lower water in the canal for boat traffic. The river drop around Lock 36 was 9 feet, which in 1840, would provide sufficient water power potential for driving the blowing engines needed for the hot blast feed to the anthracite iron furnace(s) which would be built here. Both locks were destroyed over the years during floods, though evidence of their structures remain and can be accessed via the old towpath that bordered the canal on the west.
With the Lehigh Crane Iron Works, the community grew and the name was changed from Biery’s Port to Craneville, after a gentleman from Wales who’s patent covered the hot blast technology used in the furnaces. However, there were mail delivery issues as a town in NJ had the same name. In 1854 the name was changed to Catasauqua, named after the creek that ran through the area, which got its name from a Lenni Lenape expression for “thirsty ground”.
Historic Catasauqua Preservation Association, recognizing the historic significance of this area, applied for and was granted national Historic Register status for the Biery’s Port district. The district encompasses the canal area on the west, to Union Street on the north, up to Howertown Road on the east, and to the George Taylor lands on the south. This tour section starts at the George Taylor House and grounds.
Address: Lehigh & Poplar Street
Name: George Taylor Home
Year built: 1768
Built by: George Taylor (1768-1776)
George Taylor was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, iron master at Durham Furnace, constructor of the first court house in Northampton County at Easton, and a patriot during the Revolutionary war. He arrived in Philadelphia from the British Isles (either England or Ulster, Ireland) in 1736, worked at Warwick Furnace from 1737-1755, before moving to Durham furnace with wife, Anna Savage. He was associated with Durham Furnace until his death in 1881. He practiced law and was appointed as an early Justice of the Peace and representative to the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly from Northampton County; he was also a member of the Continental Congress, and for a short time before his death in 1781, sat on the 12-member Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania formed to govern after the separation from England.
During his time as iron master of Durham Furnace, he committed the production of the furnace to making ammunition for the colonial forces against England at a price that ended up being below cost, and resulted in his losing all of his personal wealth. He resided at his elegant home in Catasauqua for only a short time, as his wife passed away, and he then spent most of his time in Easton. He held on to the farm/plantation until his son, who was to inherit it, also passed away.
Other Occupants: Jon Benezet & Hannah Bingham (1776-1782)
From Philadelphia, secretary to Pennsylvania Provincial Congress, member of Philadelphia’s Committee of Correspondence (one of the shadow govts organized by the Patriot leaders before the revolutionary war that coordinated communications to/from England and foreign governments), and member of the Continental Congress. Benezet also ran an import business until his death in ~1780-81 and set up a bank in Philadelphia for the purpose of financing the war efforts of the colonies against the King of England.
Other Occupants: Col David & Susannah Deshler (1782-1796)
David Deshler was born in Switzerland, and was an early resident of Whitehall, where he constructed Fort Deshler in 1760 for protection of the colonists against Indian attacks. In 1762, he constructed the first house in Allentown (then Northampton Town), operated a store/tavern and later a sawmill/gristmill. He was a member of Continental Congress with Taylor at the time he purchased the home from Taylor. During the Revolutinary war, he manufactured, stored, purchased and distributed munitions and other supplies for the Continental Army through the end of the war in 1783. He later served on the Provincial assembly and served as a delegate to the state convention that ratified the federal Constitution. He helped bring the pivotal support of the rural Germans toward ratifying the constitution in Pennsylvania.
Other Occupants: Jacob and Mary Geissinger Deily family (1823-1880’s)
The house and farm, at this time reduced to 150 acres, was purchased by Mary Geissinger’s father of Upper Saucon for his daughter and her husband, Jacob Deily, a cobbler in Allentown. The Deilys operated that farmstead and others in the area for many years. Jacob and Mary bought the Biery’s stone house (across Race St. from the mill) for their son George who operated a store there for canal travelers and a coal yard, later making 2 Race St. his home. In addition to farming, son Francis became a butcher and meat purveyor. Francis’s daughter Camilla Eleanor Deily married Dr. Charles Milson in 1884: Francis was not happy about his daughter marrying a doctor who would leave her alone at night to visit patients, so Dr. Milson gave up medicine and became a gentleman farmer in order to marry Camilla. Charles brother, Daniel Milson, Jr., started a coal yard between Lehigh and the canal in 1897.
Other Site History
Taylor purchased the property from Armstrong, who had purchased it from Page’s Estate, the Manor of Chawton. These lands were deeded to John Page of England by William Penn’s daughter Letitia in 1731. Armstrong was an original member of the nearby early Irish Settlement and purchased the 331-acre parcel along the Lehigh in 1750. Armstrong was of historic interest: he was appointed as a Justice by the Colonial government of PA in 1752, and assisted with setting up the “County Town” for the newly created Northampton County, to become the City of Easton. Lehigh St. did not exist at that time. Front St. did, and extended across Catasauqua Creek passing just in front of the barn and homestead, where George Taylor later built his home. The land in front of the home to the river became farm land. The land behind the home extended from the creek up past 14th St. on the east paralleling Race St. and down to Franklin St. on the south. It would have included most of south Catty, including St. Mary’s Cemetery. In 1771, in addition to the house and farm buildings, included six horses, eight cows, one hundred and thirty-six acres of clean land, and one hundred and ninety-five acres of woodland (as per tax records).
Between the house and creek, the first school was built on “Deily Hill” which was attended by the Deily and Biery family children as per the notation on this map. The map also notes that it was a private school, but it may have been built under the auspices of Hanover Township. It was one of the earliest schools in the area. It was razed prior to 1850. In the early 1900s, Hanover Twsp had a one room school further south along Canal Road/Lehigh Street. There were 20 students in eight grades, all in one room. Most of the teachers were male: during the depression, women had to retire if they married. Boys and girls had separate outhouses. Kids would run along the canal, and canal boat operators would let the kids get on the boats; as the mules pulled the boats slowly for a couple of blocks.
After the Deily’s, the GTH house became a rental and the land between the house and Lehigh St was industrialized, most notably becoming the site of the Wahneta Silk Mill. At the same time, across Lehigh Street, the first electric generating plant was built. Dr. Milson’s brotherr, Daniel Milson, Jr. also industrialized part of the Frank Deily estate to the north and east, first opening a limestone quarry in 1900 (for fluxing material for the iron furnaces), then building a stone crushing operation in 1902 along the creek. (In 1911, he reopened an old stone quarry on the Kurtz estate adding a crusher which provided gravel for macadamizing the dirt streets in town. This operation is now Rock Hill.) Daniel Milson, Sr. was one of the early Welsh iron workers, turned entrepreneur, to move to Catasauqua after the Crane was built.
Jacob Deily’s son Francis later built the large Victorian home across Poplar St. from the GTH.
Lehigh County Historic Society purchased the house in 1945, completed its restoration in 1968, and attained the home’s designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1972.
During the national bicentennial celebration in 1976, Catasauqua mayor, Lenny Witt, created the Catasauqua Bicentennial Committee which worked closely with the Lehigh County Historical Society to honor our nation’s anniversary, winning the designation as Lehigh County’s first Bicentennial Community. William Albert and Newt Bugbee, Jr represented the borough on the county committee; Wm Albert became chair of that committee. The focus here was The George Taylor Mansion, and it became a state selected bicentennial site for tourism during the celebration.
In 1982, the Wahneta Silk Mill and other industrial buildings along Lehigh St. burned down; however, the fire fighters were able to protect the GTH from being consumed in the massive fire. The Borough of Catasauqua took ownership in 2009.
Style is Georgian, typical of the stately homes of Philadelphia at that time. Interior moldings match those from the handbook of the Philadelphia Carpenter Union; so it was likely built by them around the same time George Taylor had contracted with them to build the court house in Easton. The house apparently was so well designed and constructed that it underwent minimal renovations over the years. The main house, as it stands today, restored by the Lehigh County Historic Society, retains almost all of its original features and materials. The southern wing is now undergoing architectural study, revealing that the kitchen wing was original to the Armstrong farmhouse, not a latter addition. The Deily family made modifications to the wing, raising the floor and ceiling to be level with the main house, moving the hearth from the middle of the space to the south wall, and adding a doorway to connect the kitchen wing with the dining room.
Address: Lehigh Street
Name: Power House, Wahnetah Silk Mill & Milson Coal Yard
Year built: 1890
Built by: George Davies & James Thomas
In 1890, the Davies and Thomas partnership brought Thomas Alva Edison here to design and supervise the construction of the first electric light plant. This resulted in the first incandescent lights for street illumination in Catasauqua and the region. It was observed that the lights running up Race Street would be dimmer the further they went up the street, as the voltage dropped with distance. The DC system was replaced by AC beginning in 1900 at which point electric service for motors was added in addition to lighting. Prior to electric, lighting was provided by coal gas, starting in 1856.
Also in 1890, the Wahneta Silk Company was chartered to manufacture silk fabrics. The first runs using silk plush proved unprofitable, and in 1902, broad silk looms were added. By 1918, the business had expanded to 755 looms and 550 employees. Silk skeins were purchased from suppliers in NYC. James Thomas was the first president and general manager of the plant and Frank Horn was the Sec/Treas. An Englishman, Stubbs, was brought here to supervise the operation. His family lived in the white brick home on Race St next to the Biery/Mauser home at 7 Lehigh St.
When James Thomas died in 1906, William Thomas, Jr. became president and general manager with Horn as Sec/Treas. After Mr. Horn died in 1920, Mrs. Ida Downs became Sec/Treas. The Wahnetah Silk Mill went out of business in 1935, and the mill, purchased by Epstein of Allentown, divided the factory, leasing operations until 1971, initially to Cands Fabrics and Catasauqua Weaving. In October of 1949, United Dying and Finishing operated out of the former Wahnetah building, processing tubular knitted cottons that went into making T-shirts, polo shirts, underwear, dresses, blouses, etc. United employed about 50 people. In 1982, the building, then occupied by Jackson-Allen furniture, was destroyed in a fire.
The Lehigh County Historical Society acquired the ssite from the Thomas family, restored it, and created the park in the front of the George Taylor House.
A coal yard was opened here on Canal Street (date unknown) by Milton Breder of Schoenersville. He sold the business in 1890 to Bast of South Bethlehem, who soon sold it to John Hoffman or Reigelsville. In 1897, Daniel Milson, Jr. purchased the coal yard on Canal St. (now Lehigh) below Race St from Hoffman. Milson was the brother of Dr. Charles Milson, who married Camilla Deily in 1884. Daniel also was the first oil dealer in Catasauqua. He had a small building along the L&N siding south of Catasauqua Creek, just east of Lehigh Street. The oil was delivered in barrels and was probably distilled from coal, called coal oil or kerosene in those days. The office for Milson’s coal yard was on Bridge St.
Address: 5 Race Street; SW Corner of Lehigh and Race
Name: Mauser & Cressman Mill
Year built/by: 1735/Thomas Wilson or 1752/Jos Wright
The SW corner of Lehigh and Race St. was the site of a very early mill. The early map below show a saw mill and fulling (wool felt) mill was in operation here in 1752 under the ownership of Jos Wright. (See *Note below.)
The mill operated off of water flow from Catasauqua Creek. The creek was dammed up at what is now Firemans Field, east of the Dery Silk Mill apartment building, to create sufficient flow to power the mill during the day. At night, the reservoir/pond would refill. A map of Pennsylvania dated 1792, indicates the mill was owned and operated by Col. Deshler at that time (then owner of the George Taylor lands) and the area was called Deshler’s Mill. The Bierys (brothers Frederick & Henry) purchased the grist mill in 1801 from Jacob Newhard along with 190 acres of what had been the GT lands. Frederick operated a ferry and later toll bridges across the Lehigh River, with Race St. connecting into Whitehall. The area then became known as Biery’s Port.
The canal came through in the 1820s running alongside the mill. When the iron works was planned in 1839, the pond, raceway and mill can be seen on the map. As recalled by Samuel Thomas, when he and his father David Thomas, first walked over the hill from Allentown to the site of where they would build the iron works, they heard a loud booming sound coming from the area, which they later discovered was coming from the saw mill operation. At some point, the mill race was moved underground, and the tunnel-like structure is still intact beneath the lawn on the north side of the present day restaurant.
The Bierys sold the mill in the 1850s by which time fulling operation had been discontinued. The 1876 map shows the mill, and the lots west of it to Firemans Field (then the mill pond) owned by William Younger, of Berger & Under Younger, the business was the Catasauqua Roller Flour Mills. After transferring hands several, times, the saw mill was shutdown, and in 1898 the grist mill was expanded and modernized, and power transferred from the intermittent creek to the canal by Mauser and Cressman. That same year, the mill, which would have been the oldest structure in Catasauqua at that time, burnt to the ground and had to be completely rebuilt. The map segment is from the 1885 Sanborn map. Note the school slate factory that was located below the mill pond. The Mauser & Cressman Flour Mill likely operated up until the flood of 1942. Mauser owned several mills in the valley including a mill at Laurys Station, which was established In 1839 by David Laury on the banks of the Lehigh River there. It was operated by Mr. Laury and other millers until about 1890 when the Mauser Milling Company was organized. It was remodeled, enlarged, and changed into a full “roller process” mill, and became one of the first of such mills in Pennsylvania. It was capable of producing about 300 barrels of flour daily. The Mauser Mill at Laurys Stationwas was completely destroyed by fire in the early 1930’s. There was also a Mauser mill in Treichlers,
*The map note showing this mill being the same as that built by Thomas Wilson in 1735 was likely based on early histories; such as The Manufacturing and Mercantile Resources of the Lehigh Valley, 1881, pg 140 (1881 Lehigh County business history), which refers to a map showing a mill built in 1735 by Thomas Wilson on “Mill Creek”, being at the “headwaters” of Catasauqua Creek. Since this is NOT the headwaters, these had to be different mills. A history of Lehigh Township identifiesThomas Wilson as owner of a grist mill in Lehigh Township in 1773. Thomas Wilson was also associated with the founding of Northampton County in Easton in 1752, along with George Tylor and members of the Craig Settlement (Thomas Wilson was a son of Hugh Wilson, one of the original members of the settlement). Another reference attributes the mill here to Deshler.
Other Site History
The building was purchased in 2013 by the Revival Fires Fellowship Ministries of Allentown and converted into a place of worship. Current plans by PennDOT are to raze the mill and widen Race St.
The current structure was built in 1898, likely atop the foundations of the original mill. The annex on the south side of the building was added later (1920-1930s). The pics show the mill fire and after reconstruction.
In the mid 1800s, pre-Crane, along the canal, south of the Race St. bridge, was a canal boat repair area (anyone with information on this boat repair area is asked to contact HCPA.)
fter the Crane was built, the area between the canal and the river north of the bridge was the cinder bank, where the Crane disposed of ash, also creating a barrier to protect the furnaces from high flood waters. The railroads then built over top the cinder piles.
Name: Robert Mcintyre Farms
Location: West Catasauqua
Built by: Frederick
Year Built: 1757
Two Robert McIntyres are featured in Catasauqua’s early history. One moved on to Indiana and one to Virginia, both playing important roles in their histories also. It is sometimes difficult to keep the two men straight.
On the Whitehall side of the river was a large brick home built by the Frederick family in 1757. On the opposite side of the river from Biery’s Port, it was used as a fort during Indian attacks. The Fredericks moved to Catasauqua, building a home on the SE corner of Front & Union.
Born in Glack,Ireland, Robert Mcintyre lived in the stone house prior to the Crane coming to the area and built a big red barn on the property. He was an early founder of community institutions, such as the Porter Lodge, churches, banks, etc. Along with David Thomas, he purchased land for a Presbyterian Church that was built at the SE corner of Bridge and Crane Streets (Crane St was originally called Church Alley). He also sold the property to the Fuller’s that would become Fairview Cemetery. He was a builder of bridges. He erected the first Jordan Bridge of the C&F RR and sections of the LV RR. In western PA, he built the bridge over the Conemaugh River, the only bridge to survive the Johnstown Flood. He was the major contractor for the Washington Aqueduct, at the time, one of the most daring feats of engineering skill in the country. He developed a strong friendship with Stephen A. Douglas which eventually led McIntyre to move to Quincy, Illinois in 1866. When he died in 1875, he was the richest man in Adams County.
The Frederick stone building was torn down when the rail came though, the stones used in the foundations of the approach to the Race St. Bridge.
Name: Catasauqua Silk Co/W. J. Smith & Co
Location: 15-17 Race Street
Built by: CRR of NJ
The Central RR of NJ, whose tracks are still in service today along the canal, built a depot just south of the bridge on the west side of the tracks (in addition to the depot on the north side of the Race St. bridge between what was the Bridge St. bridge and the future Pine Street bridge). The silk mill was reportedly located inside this depot.
A trolley for Allentown crosses the CNJ main at Race St. about 1951. View is looking west on the CNJ. The railroad owned the elevated shanty which controlled the gates. The transit company had a derail at the crossing maintained by a watchman from the other shanty. Automatic gates were installed here prior to the end of trolley operations in May,1953. (Lester K. Wismer). (see The HopkinThomasProject.com by Tom McVey, which contains the article Catasauqua – Crossroads of the Anthracite Railroads, by Joe Yurko.)
The Catasauqua Silk Co., formed in 1911 by James J. Seyfried, Wilson J. Smith, Edwin J. Smith, and Frank J. Schleich, took over the depot building. However, the venture was not successful and the enterprise was liquidated several years later.
In 1914, the Smith Candy Company relocated to this building, adding onto the building, moving from a location at 524-526 Race St. Prior to then, the company had a significant delivery business, first using horse drawn wagons, and later motorized, buying the first Mack truck in the valley to be used for delivery purposes. The earlier delivery business employed ten horses, and the company owned a farm located on land now occupied by ABE Airport, to house the horses.
The candy company was started in 1895 by Wilson J. Smith building the business from a horse and cart to buying a stable on the east end of Race St, and converting it into a factory, storage and office. His nephew Edwin J. Smith joined him in 1904. In 1911, the candy company took over the larger building vacated by the silk company, of which his nephew had been a partner. The business was continued by Harry B. Smith Sr. and later Harry J. Smith, Jr. Harry Jr., who lived at 431 Race St., sold the company in 1977 and passed away in 1984. Students of the Taylor school in East Catasauqua remember the Smith Co donating candy to their holiday celebrations. The picture shows a trolley passing in front of the Smith Candy Co. on W. Race St.
June 08, 1984 | The Morning Call
Harry B. Smith Jr., 66, of 431 Race St., Catasauqua, died Thursday in the Leader Nursing and Rehabilitation Center #2, Bethlehem. He was the owner and operator of the former W.J. Smith Candy Co., Catasauqua, until he sold it at his retirement in 1977. Born in Catasauqua, he was a son of the late Harry B. and Minnie C. (Crockett) Smith Sr. He was a member of Christ UCC, Schoenersville, past president of the Rotary Club of Catasauqua, and a 32nd degree mason with the Porter Chapman Lodge, Catasauqua. Surviving with his widow are a son, Bruce B. of Catasauqua, and two granddaughters.
Name: Central Silk Manufacturing Company/Catasauqua Silk Mill
Location: Race St. & CRR of NJ
Built By: Preston H. Kratzer
In 1906, the Catasauqua Silk Mill was incorporated and capitalized by the partnership of O. E. Frederick, Jonas Frederick and Wesley Willoughby in 1906 according to the Textile World Record Vol 31, 1906. This occurred at the same time that the Central Silk Manufacturing Co was incorporated by this partnership.
This mill was located in an existing “beautiful two-story office building” built by Preston H. Kratzer, located on Race St. next to the Central Railroad of New Jersey. The building was modified for the silk mill and enlarged in 1913. H. O. Glase was the sup’t in 1914.
This may have been the same mill that in 1916, was incorporated by John B. Pasquariello, former sup’t of the Northampton Mill of the John H. Meyer Silk Mill Co.
Address: 18 West Race Street
Name: Tri-City York Co
Year built: 1952
Tri-City York Company moved here in 1952 as an exclusive distributor for York air conditioning and refrigeration systems, which are manufactured in York, PA.
Otherr Site History
In 1904, the Union Foundry purchased 7 acres between the canal and river north of Race St and relocated their operations here. The site is now the location of the borouogh sewerage treatment plant and the adjoining junk yard.
Address: 2 & 8, 10 Race Street, 7 Lehigh Street
Name: Biery Houses
Year built: 1826-1835
Built by: Frederick Biery
Frederick Biery was a farmer and also operated the mill from 1800-1850. He had five sons and three daughters. All three of these stone structures at the corner of Lehigh and Race were built using native stone. Frederick had five sons and three daughters. Two sons ran farms near Weaversville and Mickleys. Their original farmhouse in Catasauqua was along Race St between what is now Front & Second. These structures are shown on the drawing of Biery’s Port circa 1839.
The first of the three buildings, built in 1826, was 8&10 Race St. Frederick’s son Solomon converted the dwelling into an inn and was its proprietor. Solomon served as a postmaster from 1885-1861, operating the post office out of the tavern. It was known as Biery’s Hotel. In the late 1800s, the building was owned by Berger and Younger, who also then operated the mill across Race St. 8 Race St has been restored and is the home of the Historic Catasauqua Preservation Association. 10 Race St is a private residence, but in 1913 was an Ice Cream Parlor as per the picture at right and a listing in the 1913 Lehigh County/Allentown City Directory.
The second of the Biery stone buildings at the this intersection, 7 Lehigh St, was built in 1830 as a dwelling for Frederick Biery, who relocated there from the family farmhouse at 120 Race (now the Schlegel residence and dry cleaning business). Frederick’s son Jonas stayed in the old farmhouse. 7 Lehigh St was later occupied by Wm R. and Mary Hayhew Thomas (1880s) while Wm R Thomas was superintendent of the Crane Iron Co. His son Wm R.Thomas, Jr., a partner in the the Wahneta Silk Mill and the Davies and Thomas Foundry (northern side of Race St between Pineapple and Tenth) and wife Minnie Milson Thomas lived here afterward, moving to a newly constructed home, 502 Pine, on the corner of 4th & Pine in 1912. After that it became the home of Frank B. Mauser, who was then one of the owners of the Mauser Cressman Grist Mill across the street. It continued as a private residence until its conversion into a restaurant in 2007.
The third, 2 Race Street, was built in 1835 as a residence. In 1849, an extension was added onto the back/north side of the building which became a store serving those working the canal boats and travelers on the canal (see GBF Deily below). Today the building contains apartments.
Other Owners: George B.F. Deily
In 1849, Jacob Deily (then occupant of the GTH), purchased 2 Race St. for his son George. George later enlarged the building to include a store to sell supplies to Lehigh Canal boatmen. In 1862, a flood destroyed the store’s inventory, and George Deily closed the store, opening another in 1885 at 101 Front St.(One story mentions that the first of the Fuller family to come to the area, came here as a canal boatman and operated the store at 2 Race St. for a short period.) George owned the coal yard behind the house, farms east of Catasauqua and much real estate in town. After George’s death, his widow continued to live here along with their son G B F Deily and daughter May Deily Laubach and her husband Peter J. Laubach. GBF Deily was a shrewd businessman. He made many loans to folks in town during the depression, and when they defaulted, he foreclosed and took over more than 100 residences. He then annoyed citizens by painting all his properties orange and cream. However, when he died, he left a trust that that provided for his family and employees and endowed Allentown Hospital, St. Paul’s, and Topton Orphan’s home. He was active in politics, served on the board of directors of the Catasauqua National Bank, borough council and campaigned for the Liberty Loan drives in 1918. He never married, but resided with his sister, her husband and a housekeeper at 2 Race St. until his death in 1940. His housekeeper remained in the home until her death in 1965.
Other Site History
The coal yard here was first operated by Edwin V. Swartz from 1876 to 1882 and taken over by Deily in 1884. Three huge mounds of coal, one each of pea, chestnut, and stove dominated the yard. Sanborn maps show an expansion of the mule barn between 1902 and 1908 and addition of the derricks to unload coal from the canal boars between 1908 and 1913. In the 1930’s three men drove the horse-drawn coal wagons and managed the yard: James “Sleepy” Hoch, Preston Searfass, and Edward Campbell. After Deily’s death, these three men received monthly, life-long payments from the Deily estate. The Scale House for the coal operation still stands on Union St. Coal was unloaded from the canal boats to the coal yard. Coal was weighed in the Scale House before distribution to customers. The coal yard was in continuous use being operated by then Gasper, before HCPA purchased the property in 1995. In 2015, the scale house became the home of the Biery’s Port Blacksmiths who operate a forge to work iron into wrought items illustrative of historic blacksmith shops that would have been in Catasauqua during the canal and early industtrial periods.
Other notable structures on the property are the Summer Kitchen and Mule Barn. The summer kitchen is part of the 8 Race Street lot; it is unknown if it was built at the same time as the residence or later after it became a tavern. The mule barn likely dates to canal days when it was used to stable mules from the canal boats. It may also have been used to stable horses which pulled coal delivery wagons.
The Lehigh River through Catasauqua is particularly shallow, one of the reasons for the early river crossing point in the 1700’s and the canal and lock creation in the 1820’s. Because the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania gave the water rights to the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Co in exchange for building the canal, development along the river was controlled by the company, which kept the river banks from becoming over developed. The coal and iron industries that located there have mostly ceased, and their environmental impacts have diminished over time. However during its early operations, the Crane dumped ash along the river to act as a flood barrier – the glow and smoke from the red hot ashes hitting the river could be seen for miles.
The Canal’s History…
The canal has been part of Catasauqua’s landscape since 1829. In the past 167 years, the canal has been many things to Catasauqua: a highway, a communications link, a source of revenue, a recreation area. Now, in the 1990’s, the stretch of the Lehigh Canal that runs through Catasauqua represents a challenge. If we are ever going to see the canal again as it was, we have to understand its significance to our local history, and its future promise as part of our environment.
Navigation on the Lehigh River began about 1790, using rafts called arks. These were platforms of pine boards, 3 inches thick and 12-18 inches wide. Arks were used to float grain and coal down the Lehigh and Delaware rivers to Philadelphia. Once there, the arks were broken up and the lumber sold along with the cargo.
There were several drawbacks to this form of water transport, not least of which was that it flowed in only one direction. The Lehigh was treacherous and unpredictable, ice-choked in winter, and too shallow in summer. Arks often got hung up on the rocks and in the rapids. When that happened, they were broken up on the spot and the cargo sold locally, if not stolen or lost. The boards were often salvaged by nearby residents. At least one house in Catasauqua, on Union Street and several along Canal Street were originally built from wrecked river rafts, though only vestiges of these origins remain.
The story of the canal begins with two Philadelphians, Josiah White and Erskine Hazard. These two men owned and operated a wire mill and nail works industry at the Falls of the Schuykill River, north of Philadelphia. During the War of 1812, the government placed large orders for their goods. Fuel supplies to run the furnaces were scarce. (Philadelphians were mainly dependent on wood and coke for fuel, both of which were scarce and expensive.) Bituminous coal was available, but it was very sooty and proved unsuitable for domestic fuel.
The Lehigh Coal Mine Company, formed in 1792, owned anthracite coal fields in the vicinity of Mauch Chunk. The company lacked capital, a sound market and a means of shipping to exploit the mines. However, an occasional raft of anthracite coal would reach Philadelphia. Desperate for fuel, Hazard and White purchased some anthracite. After repeated failed attempts to light the coal, a workman slammed the door of the furnace and left the factory. Within one hour, the furnace was glowing brightly and Hazard and White discovered the secret of anthracite: use it in a closed furnace with a carefully controlled bottom draft.
Eager to pursue a new endeavor, Hazard and White persuaded several Philadelphia financiers to invest in their enterprise. They leased and later purchased the Lehigh Coal Mine Company holdings. They formed the Lehigh Coal Company and the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company (LC&N). The prejudice against anthracite coal diminished by 1824, and by 1825 the success of LC&N’s coal trade produced a handsome profit.
In 1818 White, Hazard and another partner, Hauts, received permission from the Pennsylvania State Legislature to improve navigation on the Lehigh River by means of a series of locks, dams, channels and slack water pools from Easton to Mauch Chunk. Because the Lehigh River did not contain sufficient water for a channel 18″ deep by 20′ wide, Josiah White developed an invention known as the “Bear Trap.” This was a river dam with a lock operated by a water-valve arrangement. Hydrostatic pressure allowed a surge of water to carry the boat in the lock down a flume to the next lower slack water pool.
Josiah White had plans as early as 1819 for the construction of a canal navigation system for ascending as well as descending traffic, if the coal market was established successfully. In 1827, the LC&N Company was ready. White’s plans called for use of both slack water and canal navigation from Mauch Chunk to Easton. At Easton it would connect with the proposed Pennsylvania Canal along the Delaware River. Josiah White employed Canvass White (no relation) as civil engineer. Canvass White had worked on the Erie Canal project and also had extensive knowledge of British Canal practices.
Work began on the canal in the summer of 1827. The canal was dug 60 feet wide at the top and 45 wide at the bottom and was 5 feet deep. Of the total distance of 46 miles, 36 miles was canal and 10 miles was slack water navigation with a tow path along the entire length. There was a total of 56 locks (48 lift locks and 8 guard locks). The locks were 22 x 100 feet except the four near Mauch Chunk which were 30 x 130 feet. Lifts varied from 6 to 9 feet. The drop in elevation from Mauch Chunk to Easton is 354.7 feet. There are 9 dams, 4 aqueducts and 22 culverts. The drawing is of the canal boat loading area at Mauch Chunk circa 1830.
Using the simplest of earth moving tools, large scoops pulled horses or mules, hand shovels and wheel barrows, the complete canal system was built in 2 years. A large percentage of the workmen were Irish, but Germans and Yankees were also employed.
Water was let into the canal at Mauch Chunk on Friday, June 26, 1829, and on Saturday afternoon June 27, water reached the outlet at Easton. On Monday, June 29, 10 boats of coal, each carrying 60 tons, arrived at Easton. In 1835, the Upper Grand Section of the Canal was built with Edwin A. Douglas as Chief Engineer. This portion of the Canal went from Mauch Chunk to White Haven for a total mileage of 26.06 miles. There were only 5.52 miles of canal and 20.54 miles of slack water navigation in this section. Completed in 1836, the Upper Grand Section contained 20 dams and 29 locks. The #8 dam at Barn Door was 58 feet high and the highest lift — 30 feet — was at Lock #27.
During the years 1827-1839 the canal affected Catasauqua, or Biery’s Port, very little. A cluster of houses and farms dotted its banks, a grist mill and saw mill used water from the Catasauqua Creek. The only noticeable change was the name, from Biery’s Bridge, a chain bridge spanning the Lehigh River near the present day Race Street Bridge, to Biery’s Port, or Lock 36, located behind the present Fuller Company Yard.
The first passenger excursion to Biery’s Port on a canal boat or ark” was from Allentown on June 26, 1829. Ogden E. Frederick, who owned the imposing stone house that stood on the West side of the crossing, recalls his mother-in-law, Mrs. James W. Fuller’s narrative of the trip, or which she was a passenger. Clarisse Miller was then 11. “The “ark” was decorated with US flags. It was crowded and pulled by two horses. “The scenery along the water course in those days was truly rustic; and in the month of June must have breathed upon the quiet air a sweetness unalloyed by the many gases that now stain its border and fade its foliage.”
The primary purpose of the canal was to transport anthracite and to this end the LC&N provided incentives to any industry experimenting with their coal. Word had reached the United States that David Thomas, a Welshman, had succeeded in devising a method by which iron could be made using anthracite coal. Erskine Hazard, accompanied by his 12 year old son, Alexander, traveled by ship to Wales and secured an agreement with Mr. Thomas to build and operate a furnace for LC&N Company. The contract was for a period of five years.
In 1839, LC&N brought David Thomas from Wales to Biery’s Port. Biery’s Port was selected as the site of Thomas’ venture because the canal dropped eight feet from Guard Lock 6 to Lock 36 at Biery’s Port. This meant that the canal could provide water power for the bellows needed by the blast furnace. Mr. Thomas built his first furnace near Lock 36. The water was taken in through two 4-foot iron pipes, which carried it to a 4-foot turbine wheel and a 7-foot undershot wheel. Moving 188 cubic feet of water per second, the blast furnace was provided with an average of 13 horsepower, twenty-four hours a day. A divider of earth was built in the canal between the dam and the lock to deliver the water without interfering with navigation. This divider remained until about 1900, when it was dug out, and the debris piled on the Catasauqua bank.
Mr. Thomas completed his furnace, and on July 4, 1840, blew in the first commercially successful anthracite iron furnace in the United States. By 1849 there were five furnaces in Catasauqua, and for 30 years the Lehigh Crane Iron Company fueled Catasauqua’s growth and assured her a dominant role in the development of the Lehigh Valley. Mr. White and Mr. Hazard were delighted, for Mr. Thomas’ success dramatically increased the demand for their coal and for shipments on their canal.
On June 4, 1862, it began to rain. The following day the flood caused by the heavy rains destroyed much of the upper division of the canal. It was the most destructive flood ever to have reached the Lehigh Valley. In Catasauqua, flood waters rose 4.5 feet higher than they had 20 years earlier (1841) and carried away all the bridges crossing the Lehigh River. Lehigh Crane Iron Company employees rescued several citizens from the churning waters.
Although not dependent on anthracite coal and canal navigation, the Mauser and Cressman Mill on Lehigh and Race Streets needed a steady water supply to move its grinding wheels. Frank Mauser and Allen Cressman had purchased this mill (built in 1760) in 1898. Its source of power was a mill race from a pond couth of Race Street. A fire destroyed the mill shortly after they purchased it. When it was rebuilt Mauser and Cressman installed the latest milling machinery and drew water from the canal. The water was drawn in through a 6 by 8 intake pipe, driving a 44 inch McCormack turbine which provided 71 horsepower.
The canal remained the principal means of transporting coal, iron ore and limestone to the iron mills until 1868 when LC&N completed the Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad to Catasauqua. However, the canal carried some coal until its final days as a commercial enterprise in the 1930’s. In May, 1934, William Fernanda Haintz, a civil war veteran and the last lock tender in Catasauqua, died. He had tended Guard Lock 6 at the Hokendauqua Dam for forty-five years, retiring in 1924. The structure from which he operated was a single-story stone building. Years later two stories were added, and this building is now a residence — 1344 Third Street, North Catasauqua.
At least two other Catasauqua enterprises depended on the canal until a time well within the memory of older residents. These were the coal yards of George B. F. Deily, and Daniel Milson. Deily’s yard was at the foot of Union Street and Milson’s was on the canal road across Lehigh Street from the George Taylor Home.
Canal boats carrying coal usually arrived in the late afternoon. These were the double boats, hinged so they could be divided. Once split, they were turned upstream, and left until 4 a.m., when the unloading began. Derricks with hanging buckets were swung out and lowered to the coal, which was shoveled in by two men. Then the buckets were raised and swung over the piles of coal in the yard. The contents were discharged by pulling a rope which tripped a catch under the bucket. The contents poured down, accompanied by much yelling in Pennsylvania Dutch and the creaking of ropes and cranes. It was to this noise that many residents of lower Catasauqua awoke most mornings. It was a comforting noise, for it meant that the house would be warm on a winter morning, since every house in Catasauqua was heated by the black diamonds piled up in the cellar. George Deily delivered coal to his customers by horse-drawn wagons, while the younger Dan Milson used the more modern truck.
Al Regits from town remembers swimming in the canal during 40’s even though the waters were not very clean (sewerage emptied into the canal at that time) and play ball on a make-shift field by the coal yard. When they didn’t have bats and balls, they would use broom sticks and corks (from beer barrels in the brewery). Tony Imhoff also remembered swimming in the canal. Though the water wheel was replaced with a steam engine to power the hot blast, the canal was still used as cooling water for the turbines and outer walls of the furnace. So water being discharged back into the canel was quite warm below the lock, and kids would swim in the canel all winter long – up until the 1920s when the iron works was shut down.
Floods impacted the Catasauqua section of the canal dramatically. In 1942 the canal was nearly destroyed (see picture of locktenders house at Lock 36 during 1942 flood). In 1955, the flood waters changed the course of the Catasauqua Creek, the waters of the Lehigh River forcing the creek to run north instead of south, and depositing tons of silt into the canal.
During the late 1950’s, the canal in Catasauqua was maintained by a group of local men who restored part of Lock 36 and kept the area around Guard Lock 6, North Catasauqua, clear of debris. This maintenance kept water in Catasauqua’s stretch of the canal until the mid-60’s, a time when borough residents over thirty years of age remember fishing and skating on the canal. In 1962, the Catasauqua Chamber of Commerce cleared the banks along the Race Street area of the canal, erected benches and installed lights for evening iceskating. In 1964 a Catasauqua businessman purchased the canal for $800.00 and it fell into disuse.
During the severe winter of 1979-80 there was a great build-up of ice on the Lehigh River. The Army Corps of Engineers dynamited the ice above Weissport and the subsequent rush of ice and water destroyed the Hokendauqua Dam, a wing dam which directed water into Guard Lock 6. Through the 1980’s the breach in the dam widened, and silt and debris built up in front of the lock. This now prevents any water from the Lehigh reaching the canal bed. The small amount of water in the Catasauqua section are run-off and rain water only. In fact, only a few stretches of the Lehigh Canal are watered. These include the area above Weissport, at Walnutport, the stretch from Allentown to Sand Island in Bethlehem, Freemansburg and the Hugh Moore Park in Easton. The rest are either obliterated, as in Northampton, or visible but devastated, as in Catasauqua.
During the summer of 1979, a team of ten students and professional historians, architects, archaeologists and planners from the Federal Government studied the recreation and rehabilitation potential of the then 150 year old canal. The team’s goal was to develop recommendations regarding the canal as a cultural and recreation trail. They proposed several possibilities for the Catasauqua Canal area: develop the Sportsman’s Lake, Lehigh Street, as an historical, natural and recreational area; locate a trail on the east side of the canal, along the back of residences and industries facing the canal intersection and add it to the National Register of Historic Places; clear and widen the tow paths in North Catasauqua for use as a bicycle trail; and explore the possibilities of restoring the Hokendauqua Dam in order to rewater the canal in Catasauqua.
In 1980 Lehigh County purchased the entire canal in Lehigh County. In 1988, The Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor was created to study, evaluate, preserve and promote the canal’s past, present and future. This organization has restored the canal tow path along its length for recreational use, with the exception being the section from Hanover (nee Catasauqua) Lake through Catasauqua and North Catasauqua. The restoration of this last stretch is on hold pending rebuilding the bridge between North Catasauqua and Hokendauqua. A volunteer group of trail tenders keep the towpath route through this area clear and accessible. Access to the towpath is provided at the west side of the Race St canal bridge, from the Deily Coal Yard at the intersection of Union and Canal Sts (parking available), and from Spring St west of Front, north of the Pine St Bridge. Above the guard lock, the towpath is on the east side of the river and there is a trail head and parking lot in North Catasauqua. A walk down the towpath provides views of the railroad lines, remains of the canal and Lock 36, the foundation for the locktender house, access to the ash pit along the Lehigh River, views of the industrial sites that were built along the canal.
Address: 104 Front Street – NW corner of Front & Union
Name: Hammersly/Imhoff house
Built by: R. Clay Hammersly
Hammersly came to Catasauqua in the 1850s as a teacher in the Grammar School and was principal at the high school from 1863-1865. He served as borough Solicitor and Justice of the Peace for the Second Ward (1865-1895), during which time he became prominent,taking a leading role in Catasauqua affairs. He was an original member of the Fairview Cemetery Association and a member of the school board for 7 years beginning in 1866. He was a Notary Public and did extensive business in life and fire insurance. He was married to Anne M. Welty of Gettysburg and they had three children, Dr. Wm Hammersly of Philadelphia, Alice, a trained nurse, and another daughter Annie, who lived at home at the time of his death (1898). In 1908, this was still of the home of his widow Annie M and daughter Annie C.
Born in Dillsburg, York County, PA, he graduated from Gettysburg College. After teaching for several years in his native county, he moved to Allentown where he taught school. While teaching there, he registered as a law student with James S. Reese, being subsequently admitted to the bar with Capt. A. B. Swartz.
More recently, this was the childhood home of Tony Imhoff, a local historian whose collection of pictures left to HCPA contributed greatly to this and other recent histories of Catasauqua.
Address 110 Union St
Home of Amanda and William Kildare (1890 directory). William Kildare came to Catty in 1841 at the age of 10. He learned the trade of moulder at the Crane, later worked at the Union Foundry and Machine Shop, before joining the Catasauqua & Fogelsville RR, first as fireman, then engineer, and finally conductor. He worked for the C&F RR for 33 years.
Address: 119 Union Street
One of several lots that were part of the George Bower estate that passed in the 1880s to the Conrad Seig, a confectioner, whose business operated out of his home at 118 Union (wife, Elizabeth). From his estate, the property passed to Amalie Louise Stolz, wife of Henry Stolz, a moulder. When Amelia died in 1901, Elizabeth Seig (widow of Conrad Seig in 1898) became the owner. The property passed back to the Stolz family. In 1945 it was sold to the Niess family, Harry and later Carrie. In 1968, it was purchased by Harvey Kressley.
The picture is believed to be an old photo of 119 Union St. Zillow shows this home was built in 1880.
Name: St. Mary’s Church, Rectory & School
Year built: 1857+
Built by: Annunciation BVM (of the Blessed Virgin Mary) Congregation
Prior to constructing a church here, beginning in 1852, a priest from Easton would travel here to celebrate mass at the home of George Schneider (300 Church Street, 128 Second Street, then 105 Second Street). The first church for the German speaking congregation was a frame structure built at this site in 1857.
Address: NW Corner of Second and Union Streets
Name: St. Mary’s Church, Rectory & School
Year built: 1857+
Built by: Annunciation BVM (of the Blessed Virgin Mary) Congregation
Prior to constructing a church here, beginning in 1852, a priest from Easton would travel here to celebrate mass at the home of George Schneider (300 Church Street, 128 Second Street, then 105 Second Street). The first church for the German speaking congregation was a frame structure built at this site in 1857. It was initially a mission church of St. Joseph’s in So. Easton, then Annunciation BVM Allentown, then Annunciation BVM Bethlehem, which continued to service the parish until 1884 when Father Badde of Bethlehem became the resident pastor of the parish. In 1874, St. Mary’s acquired land for a cemetery in Hanover Twsp ( this land was originally part of the George Taylor lands and border LVIA). In 1878, Father Biddle replaced the small frame church with a larger brick church and, in 1882, started the first parochial school. A rectory was added in 1890 (site donated by the Schneider’s). In 1896, the brick church was enlarged and remodeled to handle a growing congregation. In 1899, an enlarged Sister’s Home was built to house the increased number of teachers for the school. A new, larger school was built in 1904 and more property added to the site in 1909.
Address: 5 Points: Second Street. & Howertown Rd @ Union Street; 107 Second St
Name: Site of Union Hotel Year built: 1871
Built by: August Richter.
The “hotel” was primarily a drinking establishment; having only 8 rooms for let.
Richter’s daughter, Dora married James Tolan, who was a repairman at the Crane Iron. James Tolan was the 7th child (of 11) of William J. Tolan who worked at the Crane from 1853 until his death in 1898. One of James’ brothers (also named James) who learned the machinist trade at the Crane, moved on to Pittsburgh and worked with William Jones at the Edgar Thompson Works. He was with Jones at the time of Jones’ fatal accident. (See Church St. for more info on Wm Jones.)
Other Owners thru 1914
Samuel Wint, Benjamin Whitehall, M. Markward, William Walker (1903), Paul J. Ambrose (1911, wife Cecilia), and Edward F. R. Walker (1945) who changed the name of the hotel to Walker’s Hotel. At other times, it was Shubert’s Hotel, the Five Points, and the Haufbrau House. It was razed before the 70’s.
Other Site History
Howertown Road preceded the development of Catasauqua, Howertown being part of the Irish Settlement; the road linking Howertown to the mill and the river crossing connecting to Whitehall.
The building was triangular in shape, with its west side on Second and its east side on Howertown Rd. Many pictures survive of this Hotel.
Address: SE corner of 2nd and Union, 17 Second St
Name: James Thomas
Year built: 1865
Built by: Davies & Thomas Co
(Taken from the 2012 House Tour booklet) The home was built by the Davies and Thomas Co for the Thomas family; the land was originally owned by the Biery family. The current owner’s grandfather, Philip Austin, purchased this all brick mansion as a surprise to his wife, and they raised their family here. In 1956, after their children left to serve in the military, the Austins divided the property creating a rental unit in the front.
The front living space features the original double door entry leading into another set of arched double doors. These doors open to the living room, previously the parlor. The living room contains the original mahogany fireplace with mantel. The stairway to the second floor also has the original mahogany handrail and spindles.
The rear property has a side entrance leading to solid oak panel pocket doors, which open to the dining room, once the library. The dining room has the original parquet floors, lincrusta wall coverings, nine foot ceilings, eleven inch crown moldings, hand carved oak paneling, oversized windows with stained glass, and built in library cases. Located in the kitchen is the functioning, original radiator with copper scenic door front and marble top that kept the bread warm inside and the after-dinner-tea hot on top. Upgrades have been done with much thought to keeping the Austin family history alive. Displayed are marriage and birth certificates dating back to the early 1800’s.
Outside the home in the rear is the original Linden tree for which the adjacent side street was named. The home at one time had its own servants quarters located at the rear of the property, and its chicken coops, located at 19 Second St, still belong to the current estate.
Address: NE corner of 2nd and Race
Name: George Davies
Year built: 1865
Built by: Davies & Thomas Co
George Davies was born in South Wales in 1837 and immigrated to America with his family in 1846. He came to Catasauqua in 1850 a started as a moulder at Lehigh Crane Iron Works, then as a machinist. He learned the trade under David Jones and Hopkin Thomas and worked for a time as a master mechanic in NJ. In 1861, he and James Thomas entered business college together at Poughkeepsi, NY, after which George worked as a master mechanic at the Parrysville iron works. While in Parrysville, he enlistered in as first sergeant under Capt James Thomas’ 34th PA Emergency Volunteers. After mustering out, he married Mary Ann Evans in 1864. In 1865 he joined his father in the Davies, Thomas & Co business, but left Catasauqua again in 1871 to run the Carbon Iron Works in Parrysville. He returned in 1876 upon his father’s death to take charge of the family business. George Davies was also a founder and Director of the Wahnetah Silk Co, a principal stockholder in Electric Light and Power Co of Catasauqua and the Bethlehem Light & Power Co. He was a member of the local Porter Lodge and served on the Catasauqua School board. When George died in 1894, his wife, Mrs. Mary (Evans) Davies, purchased and moved into 530 Walnut St. where she lived till her death in 1923.
Their son Rowland Davies ran a prep school for boys for a time, but then joined the family business, retiring from the Davies and Thomas Co in 1912 while staying involved in other local enterprises for which the family owned stock. He married Annie Fuller, daughter of Orange Fuller and they resided at 235 Bridge St. Their son James T. Davies was a purchasing agent in the family business until 1911, then a cigar, tobacco and confectionery business at the corner of Front and Bridge Sts. He and his wife Elizabeth (Yoder) Snyder lived at 530 Walnut Street until his death in 1947 and his wife’s in 1965. Their son George Jr ran the company office in NYC and eventually liquidated the company in 1947.
The Davies and Thomas Co had its origins when George Davies’ father Daniel and a William (not James’ brother) bought an old planning mill business on Race St. along the Catasauqua Creek and fitted it up as a foundry and machine shop. This enterprise, the Davies, Thomas and Co continued until 1868 when William sold his interest and moved back to Wales. The company was renamed Daniel Davies and Son and continued until 1876 when Daniel Davies died and the company shut down due to poor business conditions. In 1879, James Thomas, George’s brother-in-law and childhood friend, bought half the business and the two became partners in the foundry and machining business, making vertical and horizontal engines car casting and appliances for furnaces, mills and mines. The plant covered 20 acres and the buildings on the site provided 35,000 square feet of manufacturing space. There were 175-200 employees. The partnership continued until George’s death in 1894. James remained involved in the business until his death in 1906. During the tunnel segment manufacturing days, the company was controlled by George H. Flinn Corp, and later US Pipe and Foundry Co., though George Jr. was active in running the NYC office and generating the tunnel lining sales contracts. After acquiring control of all the company stock, George Jr. finished out tunnel contracts and liquidated the company in 1947.
Other Site History
The Albert family lived here in the 1930’s (grandparents of Wm Albert of Albert Florist). There was a wash house in the back yard and an engine room in case the power went out.
Later, Philip Austin, grandfather of a current owner bought this all brick mansion as a surprise to his wife and they raised their family here. In 1956 after their children left to serve in the military, they divided the property creating a rental unit in the front. Outside the home in the rear is the original Linden tree for which the adjacent side street was named. The home at one time had its own servants quarters located at the rear of the property, and its chicken coops, located at 19 Second Street, still belong to the current estate.
The front living space features the original double door entry leading into another set of arched double doors. These doors open to the living room, previously the parlor. The living room contains the original mahogany fireplace with mantel. The stairway to the second floor also has the original mahogany handrail and spindles.
The rear property has a side entrance leading to solid oak panel pocket doors, which open to the dining room, once the library. The dining room has the original parquet floors, lincrusta wall coverings, nine foot ceilings, eleven inch crown moldings, hand carved oak paneling, oversized windows with stained glass, and built in library cases. Located in the kitchen is the functioning, original radiator with copper scenic door front and marble top that kept the bread warm inside and the after-dinner-tea hot on top. Upgrades have been done with much thought to keeping the Austin family history (dating back to the early 1800s) alive.
Address: 120 Race Street
Name: Jonas Biery /August Hohl/Schlegel
Year built: circa 1760
Built by: Henry Biery
Wm Penn’s daughter Letitia deeded the land which would become Chawton Manor to John Page, the Penn’s attorney in England. Upon Page’s death the land ownership stayed in London, but was available for sale through attorneys in Pennsylvania (one of which was William Allen, then of Philadelphia, but soon to be the developer of Allentown). Two Philadelphians (Hower and Biddle) purchased some of this tract at a sheriff’s sale in 1795, and in the same year, part of the portion purchased by Biddle was sold to Frederick Biery. Frederick and his brother Henry settled here and built the early farmhouse. The home was used as a hostelry stop and livery for the stagecoach express between Boston and Philadelphia. Henry returned to NY, but Frederick stayed on, building the stone homes at the canal crossing.
This home passed on to his son Jonas, who was engaged in the lumber trade and farming. Jonas also inherited much of the land of his father. On the land west of the house, and east of the creek, present location of Rock Hill, Jonas Biery operated a limestone quarry, from which he earned $40,000 in royalties, from limestone sales to the Crane Iron. He also grew rich from the sale of land, including all of what is now the 3rd Ward (East Catasauqua). Born 1804, he died in 1897.
August Hohl purchased the Biery farmhouse in 1888 and converted the basement into a bottling plant, running wholesale beer and soda business. He added a retial business in 1902. In 1905 Mr. Hohl bought the McKeever property, known as Romig’s Old Corner Store at Front and Race Streets, and moved his plant into that building. In 1906 he built a cold storage plant on Front Street along the tracks of the Central Railroad of New Jersey for use by the business. (pic MCF pg 75, 76)
Other Site History
Earliest home in Catasauqua, probably preceding the George Taylor House. Present home of the Schlegel family and dry cleaning business since 1977.
Federal style stone house. Walls are ~26-30 inches thick. Foundation rafters are solid trees with limbs shaved off. The house features 2 in. thick solid oak doors and a partially exposed stone interior wall mortared with horse hair and hay. The kitchen was added in 1899. Home had the first four seat outhouse in Catasauqua. Garages in the rear were originally livery and blacksmith stables.
Address: 101 Race Street
Name: Dery Silk
Year built: 1898
Built by: D. George Dery
Dery arrived in Catasauqua in 1897 from Patterson, NJ and created quite a splash. He built a three-story brick mill building at the foot of Front Street. It was 150 feet in front by 50 feet deep and employed 200 workers. Three years later, he added a three-story brick building at right angles to the other, making an L-shaped structure. By this time, Dery had 400 employees working for him.
The first 14 years of the 20th century witnessed a vast growth in the Dery fortunes. By the outbreak of World War I, more than 3,600 people worked for D. George Dery at his 14 silk mills. More than half of these were in the Lehigh Valley; five or six of them in Allentown. His offices occupied the entire 7th floor of Allentown’s National Bank Building. In 1919, his 42 mills with 10,000 employees were making him a leading figure in the textile industry. He seemed on the verge of cornering the world’s silk market. But a sudden sharp break in the market at the end of World War I brought the economy to a halt. At the end of 1920, Dery’s corporation had sustained losses of $2 million, and the corporation was forced into receivership. Dery limped along with three or four mills that he ran in the 1920s, but the crash of the stock market, the subsequent Depression, followed by a strike at the silk mills in 1934, ended Dery’s silk business.
The building later housed various manufacturing; eg Fairtex Mill (into the 1970s), and warehousing operations before being converted into apartments in the 80’s.
In 1898 when Dery arrived here, silk mills were not completely new to Catasauqua. In 1890, James Thomas, Frank M. Horn, James W. Fuller, Samuel Thomas, Edwin Thomas, C.R. Horn, William W. McKee and George Davies had created the Wahneta Silk mill. Located on the road to Allentown by the Catasauqua creek in front of the George Taylor House, it produced primarily silk fabrics. It showed Dery that the region had potential. He built a magnificent home here and lived here for the remainder of his life (See Mansion District).
Other Occupants: Dery Silk Apartments
Architectural Notes: Original 3-story brick structure was enlarged in 1900 (L extending toward Catasauqua Creek). In 1984, Citihouse Restoration and Renovation of Allentown converted it into luxury apartments. The exterior was restored according to Federal regulations for rehabilitation of historic structures. First floor apartments are one level, and second floor apartments have two levels. The former power house building houses the resident manager. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Address: 21 Race Street
Name: Wagners Electrical Contracting
Year built: 1850
The house was owned by Wm Younger in the 1870’s when he also owned the mill and Biery house at 7 Lehigh St. When James Thomas started the Wahnetah Silk Co, he brought to America from England a gentleman and his family, named Stubbs, to supervise the operation. In 1890, the Stubbs family lived here next to the mill. This interesting home needs more research.
The building was a residential rental in the 1960s, owned by the family that ran the Raceway Store (now D&D Market).
The current president of Phoenix Forge recalls setting up housekeeping here when he first started work at the Phoenix in 1966. The apartment was pretty run down, he said, but he and his in wife put significant effort into fixing it up. They were rewarded with the landlady raising their rent enough that they had to move.
Address: 1 Front Street
Name: United States Hotel
Year built: 1850
Built by: Jonas Biery
The United States Hotel was one of many establishments built by the Biery family, this one by Jonas Biery and across the street from where his brother Solomon Biery would build the much larger American House.
Porter Lodge No. 284, constituted in 1854 and named after Brother James Madison Porter, District Deputy Grand Master of Easton, originally met in Gross Hall, a part of the United States Hotel situated on the northeast corner of Front and Race Streets in Biery’s Port. The Lodge continued to meet in Gross Hall for fourteen years and one month, until February 14, 1868.
The Lodge then moved to the Fuller building at Front and Church streets for a period of twenty-four years from 1868 to 1892, then to a new hall at 513 Front Street above Bridge Street, where it remained for 85 years. In May of 1975 the Lodge purchased the Charotin Social Hall building in North Catasauqua and has met there since October 1977.
In 1906, August Hohl would purchase the building from Mr. McKeever and relocate his bottling house and wholesale operation here from Second & Race. He and his wife Kate lived here, also.
The bar passed through other hands and ventures, housing a grocery store,etc. before being converted to Tameler’s Restaurant, run by Sammuel Tameler until 1949. David Briggs and his daughter and son-in-law purchased the business in 1950 and ran it as Dave’s Café. It is now rental units.
Address: 2 Front Street
Name: American Hotel / Devon House / Silver Manor
Year built: 1852
Built by: Solomon Biery
One of the first hotels built after the opening of the Crane Iron Co. Biery family operated business until 1870. Following is an obituary of Solomon BIerry from The Carbon Advocate of Jan 31, 1874,
“On Tuesday evening of last week, says the Catasauqua Dispatch, our community was startled by the announcement of the death of Mr. Solomon Biery, an old resident of this place, who died in his 66th year. He was sitting in his chair at his residence, when he suddenly 8 fell to the floor, and before medical aid could be summoned he expired. The sickness was pronounced apoplexy, and his decease was unexpected. He has been a resident of this place all his life, being a son of Mr. Fritz Biery, who kept the ferry known as Biery’s, where the bridge now stands. He built and kept the American Hotel, now Bogh’s, for a number of years, but has not for many years been engaged in any active business. One by one the old residents are being called away, and soon the places which knew them will know them no more.”
Ownership changed hands many times since. One owner of note was John C. Rehrig who came to Catasauqua from Mauch Chunk, and worked for the CNJ for 25 years before running the hotel for 7 years (sometime between 1900-1914). His son, Dr. J. Edward Rehrig, opened a dental practice in Catasauqua in 1909.
Tony Imhoff recalled that a sheet would be hung on the north side of the building so that movies could be projected for viewing. There was a Barber shop inthe building; the entrance was off of Front St (# 55-56). The hotel bar entrance was at the corner of the building.
2 Front St. was most recently operated as a personal care residence. The business closed in 2013 after a fire damaged the upper levels on the Front St side of the building.
Modernized in 1889 to include electric, etc. Some external restoration was done when it was converted to a personal care facility.
Address: 27 Front Street
Name: Dr. Reigel Home & Office
Year built: circa 1869
Built by: Dr. Henry H. Riegel
Dr. Riegel and his son, Dr. Willian A. Riegel practiced medicine here for ~70 years.
Before building the big house & office, Dr. Riegel lived in and practiced out of 23 Front St. Even after construction, he may have continued to live at 23 for a time, using the upstairs rooms at 27 Front for patients.
Dr. Riegel was born in Allentown and studied medicine at the University of Penn and Jefferson Medical College. His father was sheriff of Northampton County. He practiced medicine elsewhere for 12 years before relocating to Catasauqua. He was appointed Pension Examiner under President Harrison, was medical examiner for a number of insurance companies, served on the board of the National Bank of Catasauqua, was president of the school board during the construction of the Lincoln School, and Burgess from 1909-1914.
Brick Victorian Italianate with two-story carriage house in rear. Arched door frames, pocket doors. Rear room on the first floor, which was the doctor’s office, still features original walnut and pine bookcases, safe, marble washstand, parlor stove. The smaller home, 23 Front Street, at 1000 sq ft, was typical of worker homes of the time. The front room was for gathering. The current dining room would have been the kitchen/bathing area. The second floor had two bedrooms, and there would have been an outhouse out back. The kitchen and indoor bath were built into the outside back porch in the 1950’s. The original Carriage House in the rear has been converted into two apartments and storage.