Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Rickert Family of Weissport Revisited - A postscript

This post is a post script to the story “Rickert’s Coal Yards and the Coolidge Republicans of Rickertsville,” story posted on January 13, 2011.
The Rickert family grave area of Union Hill, facing the Rickert property along
the canal, near "Rickertsville," East Weissport.

Jacob Rickert came to Weissport sometime in the 1850s and became a prominent businessman with his canal front property. He was born February 10, 1821 on a Bucks County farm of his parents, Daniel and Elizabeth. The 1850 Census shows him living with his first wife Mary M. (Newhart) Rickert (2/2/1826-1/26/1858) in Upper Towamensing Township as a shoemaker. They lived next door to David and Sarah “Grunswack,” possibly Greenzweig. David was also a shoemaker.

It is said he worked as a clerk in Lehigh County until 1846, then moved to Stemlersville in 1849 and purchased a hotel there from 1851 to 1857. He purchased land in North Weissport in 1857 and began selling building lots which became known as “Rickertsville.”

Jacob Rickert had two sons from his first wife Mary: Hiram T. Rickert (5/22/1848-10/19/1930) and Daniel F. Rickert (9/1/1850-2/3/1902). Hiram married Ida Rickert (11/18/1858-8/11/1926) and Daniel married Margaret A. (Campbell) Rickert (10/15/1856-2/15/1935). It does not appear that Jacob and his second wife Eliza had any children.

Sadly, so shortly after establishing themselves in Weissport, Mary died and was buried on Union Hill. The 1870 Census lists “J.K. Rickert,” forty-nine, as a “coal merchant.” He was remarried to Eliza A. (12/18/1833-1/10/1890) who was thirty-six. Twenty-two year old Hiram is listed “at home” while nineteen year old Daniel is a “clerk in a store.” Lydia Hoffman, sixty-three, is also living with the Rickerts. Their home was estimated at $2,400 and had $400 in personal property.

Current vice-president of the Pennsylvania Canal Society Bill Lampert recently
visited the Rickert property in final preparations for the Society's
2011 Field Trip next week.  Seen here at the Lock #11 cold storage spring
house about .75 miles downstream from the Rickert property.

Living nearby was the father and son flour dealers, Joel and W.F. Klotz, whose home was valued at $5,000 and their respective personal property was worth $300 and $150.

In 1870, living one residence away is “Henry Kempball,” or otherwise named Henry Campbell. Henry, a thirty-eight year-old boot and shoe maker, and his wife Caroline, thirty-seven, owned their house worth $1,000 but had $500 in personal property. Their house was the same value as their neighbor’s house, “boatman” Simon Brown with personal items worth $500. The Campbell’s children were Eliza, sixteen, Margaret, thirteen, George, ten, Jane, seven, Mary, four, and Daniel, one.

Around 1870, a lime-kiln was constructed on the property. This is about the time when Jacob and Hiram began trading in fertilizer, feed, and grain in addition to anthracite coal.

By 1880, there appears to be some ties built between the Rickert’s and the Campbell’s. Jacob and Mary’s son Daniel married Henry and Caroline’s daughter Margaret. Daniel, now twenty-nine and listed as a  ‘laborer,’ and “Magie,” twenty-three, are living together in Franklin Township. Another possible evidence of their friendship is that the Campbell’s named two of his sons after Rickert's sons: 'Daniel' in 1869 and ‘Hiram' in 1872.  Both men were once listed as shoemakers, but in the 1880 Census, both men list their occupations as ‘merchants.’  Perhaps what became the Rickert warehouse was the Campbell residence.  (Today, a white residence behind Straussberger's garage was formerly owned by the Zimmermans.  There was a Reuben Zimmerman who lived nearby.  In between that home and the small white framed building on the Rickert property existed a hotel that no longer stands.)

On November 12th, 1897 Jacob passed away, out-living two wives.  (Eliza died in January of 1890.) At the hearty age of seventy-eight, Jacob was working on the roof of one of his smaller buildings when he was “suddenly stricken with paralysis of the lower limbs” and fell to the ground. “Despite his advanced age he remained conscious throughout his confinement and recognized his many friends who called to see him."
According to his obituary in the Lehighton Press, at age sixteen he was a clerk in a general store and five years later branched out to Trauchsville and “did a thriving store business besides conducting the hotel at that place, the structure still standing and serving that purpose today.” “He came to Weissport some forty years ago and conducted the flour and feed business for many years, besides serving as Justice of the Peace.”

His funeral was “largely attended” and was held at the United Evangelical Church, conducted by Rev. J. W. Woehrle who was assisted by the ex-Bishop C. S. Hamn of Phildelphia, Presiding Elder A. M. Stirk, of Allentown, Rev. J. K. Seifert of Catasauqua, Rev. Kistler of Lehighton, and Rev. Reingold of Phifer’s Corner.  The worth and esteem of this man was certainly evidenced by the presence of this array of clergyman.

Pallbearers were Reuben Zimmeran, Ephraim Romig, Eli Koch, John Hagenbach, Harry Welsh, and David Straup.  At the time, Romig was a sixty-four year old car repairer for the railroad, Hagenbach was a fifty-eight yeat old lock-tender, and Zimmerman was a sixty-four year old mail carrier.


Jacob’s oldest son Hiram T. Rickert and his wife Ida had two sons: Harry L. Rickert (10/29/1875-9/6/1959) who married Meta (Faust) Rickert (9/6/1879-12/8/1962) and Miles J. Rickert (3/3/1878-3/5/1967) who married Myrtle M. Rickert (7/6/1889-5/16/1969).

Around 1897 Harry married Meta and in October 1898, they had a son Hiram Donald Rickert, who went by simply Donald and also H. Donald. Harry was working as a clerk at the Rickert Coal yards.

By 1920 H. Donald was married to Catherine (Hoffman) Rickert (age twenty-one) and living in Lancaster. He was an insurance agent.  They also had two servant women living with them.  At some point in the 1920, Donald and his father and grandfather formed the Fidelity Company of Lansford, an investment and insurance venture.  It is said in the Eckhart book he lived there at that time, perhaps moving from Lancaster and later moving to Yardley, a Delaware River-side town similar to Weissport.

Based on placement in the family plot, Theo could be Harry and
Meta's son.  However, he may be the namesake of Miles' father-
in-law, therefore possibly the child of Miles and Myrtle.

By 1930, Harry, fifty-four, and Meta, fifty, were living at the Rickert House along with eighty-two year old Hiram, now a widowed,“retired” coal dealer. In July 1942, the Lehighton Press announced that Mr. and Mrs. H. Donald Rickert and their son Hiram of Yardley were visiting their parents Mr. and Mrs. Harry Rickert of Weissport.

Miles married Myrtle (Menzel) Rickert sometime around 1910 and by 1920 was living with his in-laws at 250 South First Street in Lehighton. His in-laws were Theo and Lizzie Menzel. Theo worked at the yards as a car repairman while Miles was the care-taker of a railroad bunkhouse. They had two daughters, Gladys Rickert (born c. 1911) and Verna E. (c. 1926). On his World War II draft card, Miles listed his brother Harry of Weissport as his next of kin contact, even though Myrtle was still living.

On October 19th, 1930, Hiram died, having been a widow since Ida’s death in August of 1926. He had spent his entire life in the East Weissport community, always enjoyed good health and was busy in many activities, died at eighty-two of pneumonia. Harry was listed at home while Miles was living in Lehighton.  The obituary listed three grandchildren and three great grandchildren. Two ministers were in charge of the funeral: Rev. J. J. Kreisel of the Ebenezer Evangelical Church and Rev. J. Franklin Snyder of St Paul’s Lutheran in Weissport. Heller and Son were the undertakers.

On September 6th, 1959, Harry L. Rickert passed away, survived by his wife Meta, his son H. Donald, still living in Yardley, and his brother Miles still living in Lehighton. He died in Gnaden Huetten Hospital. The Mayes Funeral Chapel in Weissport handled the services.


By 1900, Daniel and Maggie Rickert were living in Franklin Township. Daniel’s occupation was “landlord” and was at that time suffering from a terminal illness. Living with them then was Robert Jacob Rickert, thirteen, Carrie E. Rickert, ten, and Allen H. Rickert, six. His February 1902 obituary said he the fifty-five year old was “one of the best known residents of the east side died Monday night after an illness of two years.  Danny was a whole souled man and was well liked by his numerous acquaintances. He was a painter by trade and served as a school director and auditor for several terms."

Daniel's untimely death obviously put a strain on the family's finances and this branch of the Rickerts didn't seem to fair as well.  In 1910, Maggie Rickert, widowed and now fifty-three, was the head of her Canal Street household and was an at home dressmaker. Carrie was a saleslady at a grocery store and Allen was an apprentice as a printer. Joining her is her widowed mother and sister, Caroline Campbell, seventy-six, and Elizabeth Mills, fifty-five, a nurse. They lived near Harry and Meta as well as Charles Fisher and his family. Fisher tended the “Fisher Lock,” at the Boatyard. Maggie was number “172” by the census taker, Harry was “175” and Charles Fisher was “174.”

Oldest son Robert was a boarder in Salisbury Township working in a steel works. By 1917 he was working for Bethlehem Steel at the Moore & Sons Plant in Elizabeth, NJ.  By 1942, Robert married Annie Weisel (daughter of Edward and Emma A. Weisel) who was born July 25th, 1889 and died September 27th 1980. They lived in Hellertown where he owned a Chevrolet Garage and Auto Parts business at 1606 Main Street and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Saucon Valley Trust Co. Robert and Annie are both buried in Hellertown Cemetery.  They did not have any children.

Allen Henry Rickert, born January 18, 1894, was working at Queen City Silk Company in Allentown with his wife as of 1917 and was “partially supporting” his widowed mother. By 1942, he was living at 3121 Linden Street, Allentown. His employment is rather complicated, he listed Merchant National Bank of 702 Hamilton Street as his employer, but also listed “self-employed” with the address 825 Walnut Street.

In 1930, Carrie and her husband Ellis D. Miller, both forty, were living at 1243 Turner Street in Allentown. He owned his own insurance agency and their property was said to be worth $10,000. They had a daughter Margaret, nine, at home as well as Ellis’ mother Eliza A. Miller, seventy-two, and Carrie’s mom Margaret, age seventy-three.

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