Saturday, January 15, 2011

Amandus F. Walk of Weissport - Last of Carbon County's Blacksmiths

Amandus F. Walk was born December 26, 1888 in Franklin Township.
Amandus Walk was said to be a colorful character.  What's interesting about that statement is that as a young man on his parent's Franklin Township Farm, Amandus learned the trade from Nero Weiss, who had the same reputation.  Apprentices worked for a period of four years with a master smythe before being able to move from apprentice to master craftsman.  

Amandus Walk was the last full-time blacksmith in Carbon County.  He was still going strong into 1955.

One anecdote that survives is Walk's memory of the "green" mules coming down from the "Company Farm" (The Lehigh Coal and Navigation Comapny, i.e. "the Old Comapny") and how hard they were to shoe.  He said that were given a few hard days of labor along the towpath hauling boats before they were brought in to show for the first time.

Amandus was trained by Nero Weiss, who was said to be a colorful man.  No doubt Weiss had a rough life.  His father who was also a blachsmith, along with Nero's older brother Charles were both working in the Lansford Mine Shops when a boiler exploded in Aungust 1886 when Nero was just nine.

Nero Sr. was killed with a fractued skull.  Charles, twenty-nine at the time was so badly injured about the head and body that he was expected to die.  He lived a long life until the age of seventy-six in 1933.  He was pensioned from the shops in 1929.
Nero Weiss Senior - (1827-1886) Killed at a boiler explosion
 in the Lansford Mine Shops.  His son Charles was also nearly
killed.  Both were blacksmiths there.

Nero Sr. was a verteran of the Civil War.

Amandus Walk was the son of Milton and Ellemena Walk.  Milton Walk's parents were Simon (1820-1904) and Sabina (1827-1915) Walk.  They lived on a farm that in 1870 was valued at $13,500 yet only had $450 of personal property.

Amandus had older brothers George (1880), Robert (1883), and William (1885).  His sisters were Gertie (1881) and Sabrina (1887).  He also had two younger brothers Harry (1892) and Charles (1894).  Though only 11 years old in the 1900 census, he was listed as a "farm larborer" and thirteen year old Sabrina was listed "at school," even though both were listed as attending school six months in the past year.

By 1910, father Milton was dead and Ellemena was listed as the head of the household.  Brother Robert was a foreman on the railroad and William was married but no wife listed and he labored on the farm.  Amandus was 21 and already had his blacksmith shop.  Younger brothers Harry and Charles worked on the Lehigh Canal.

In the heydays of the canal I'm sure he had plenty of work, especially since his shop was directly across from the Old Company's main boat repair and construction yard in East Weissport.  Later, despite the conversion from horse and wagon to car and the closing of the canal in the 1930s, Amandus was still running his shop into World War II.  He registered for the draft, listing his height at 5' 7 1/2" with gray hair and eyes.

The "Boatyard" today.  Walk's blacksmith shop was to
 the right of the white house on right.
Mr. Mike Ebbert of Lehighton grew up on Main Road, East Weissport and remembers visiting Walk's shop to watch him shoe horses and bend iron.  He also remembers taking his Flexible Flyer runner sled there for repairs.  Walk was not a welder, but he fashioned a piece of plate iron onto his broken runner.

Amandus Walk's blacksmith shop was located just around the corner up
Canal Street from Rickert's home.  You can see the roofs
of the "Boatyard" bar and two other homes.  Walk's shop was to the right of these, the first structure past
the Rickert home.  

Sometime in the 1950s, "along the Lehigh Canal," John Motola continued the blacksmith shop of Walk (sometimes spelled as "Walck.")  Motola previously welded with DeFrehn of Lehighton.  (Further on John Motola's son John would make his living slightly further up the road with a paving and carwash business, and yes welding too.) 

Walk's shop was located just around the corner from the Rickert homestead and down from the present day "Boatyard" barrroom on the same side of the street.  (The old shop was taken down only in the last few years.  Many remember its distinctive large clock on the lower left side of the wooden barn structure quite close to Canal Street.)  During the days of the canal, the parking lot of the "Boatyard" was actually the boat repair yard for the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company. 
John Motola Sr took over Walk's blacksmith shop sometime around the 1950s.
Here is the shop from the John Motola days.  If it were
still standing it would be the first structure beyond the Rickert home, before
the "Boatyard" barroom today.

Amandus Walk's grandparents, Sabina and Simon
 Walk.  All are buried in St. Matthew's Cemetery
in Franklin Township.

Bessie was the daughter of Amandus and Irene.
The bill at the top of this post was from a bill of Walk to Hiram Rickert in 1918.  A bill for $18.75 must have hurt like a $300 tire bill today as you could have purchased about 4 tons of coal for the price of that horseshoeing job.

Bessie married Andrew G.F. Weiss.  He was the son of Herbert (b. 1885) and Mary (b. 1887) and in 1920 they lived on the "Second Road leading to Harrity," which today I assume to be Main Road.  The Walk's lived on the "Third road leading to Harrity," which I assume to be today's "Canal Street."  In 1910 Herbert was a "fireman" on the railroad and by 1920 worked his way up to "engineer."  At 18, Andrew was working at a hosiery mill, I assume Hofford's, as a "topper."


  1. I am John Motola Jr. I was born on sept.9/15/1952 I am the son of Motola sr. I lived in small home next to blacksmith shop when I was 5 yrs.' old till 16 yrs.' of age and bought the property right up the street it was the ice dam.I bought it in 1969 for 5,500 that was a lot of money back then. My father John Motola Sr taught me how to weld when I was 12 yrs old and I work the blacksmith shop making fancy wrought iron railing and welding just about anything back in them days.When I was 15 and 16 Grant Mouthrop a plummer up the road got me in a sewer plant welding job in Salorsburg sewer plant new plant being constructed and I work 7 days a week 10 hr. days and saved all my money and bought the property and filled it in and put a asphalt paveing business there and welding business also and a automatic car wash in 1981.I sold the business in 2002 and bought a helicopter and airplane and started a business and also flew them my self. I remember Amandus F. Walk I was 5 when we bought the blacksmith shop. He moved up the back and the clock on the shop I put it there when I was 12yr's old got it of the Long Run dump ha.I still have the blacksmith tool's and anvil that was used there in my basement.

    1. Thanks so much for writing this John. This is important information that I am glad you helped preserve here.