BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF PHILIP HOFFECKER

 

Mr. Philip Hoffecker, master-mechanic and superintendent of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company's extensive foundry and machine shops at Weatherly, Pa., is a modest, unassuming man; but his work stands head and shoulders with all other work of the same class, which makes him a monarch among machinists. He is the son of Philip Hoffecker, who was born near Londonderry, Chester Co., Pa., in 1777. He followed farming, tanning, and currying until the time of his death, in 1835. Mr. Hoffecker's mother was born in 1779, and departed this life in 1834.

Philip, as he was then called, was born in the year 1816. He stayed at home with his parents, assisting his father in various ways, as boys do, taking advantage of the three-months' winter school, until the death of his father, when he started out in search of work. He came to Beaver Meadow in the year 1836, which place at that time was a small village. The principal work was carried on by Joseph Barker, in making coal-cars for the Beaver Meadow Railroad Company. Mr. Barker employed him in helping to fit wheels and axles. At that time it was thought that in order for a car to turn a curve it was necessary to have one loose wheel. The wheels were cast at New Hope, Pa.; they were brought to Mauch Chunk via canal-boats, then hauled by teams to Beaver Meadow, where they were bored to fit the axles. After Mr. Barker left he was succeeded by Mr. Jonathan Moore, who built a foundry and made car wheels. In the meantime the Beaver Meadow Railroad was finished to Parryville. Mr. Hopkin Thomas came from Philadelphia with two engines, built by Eastwick & Harrison. The engines had one pair of drivers, five feet in diameter, ten-inch cylinder, and twenty-inch stroke. Mr. Thomas took charge of the shop that had been built for cars and used it for repairing the engines, employing Mr. Hoffecker at this time as an apprentice to the machinist trade. The company then leased their mines and works to Van Cleave & Co., which in time passed to William Millens, Spencer & Co. John O. Cleaver and Reitch opened a colliery, making arrangements with the Beaver Company to run their coal to market. Mr. Hoffecker now contracted with this company to run and keep in repair one of their engines for the season for a certain sum. At the end of the season, at their request, he took charge of all their machinery, coming to Weatherly in 1852, which position he held until the road was consolidated with the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company in 1864. He was retained by the new company, and has been filling that position acceptably alike to the company and employees up to the present time.

In 1869 the new shops were completed, since which time Mr. Hoffecker, under his own supervision, has built and completed forty-five locomotives, --a monument that speaks volumes in itself for the wisdom and intellect that is required to turn out work of that kind. What a grand heirloom this to bequeath a family! Mr. Hoffecker has also taken some interest in local affairs, being one of the prime movers in organizing Weatherly borough, serving in the Council for a period of at least five years. He also acted as a director of the school for a term of ten years. He married Miss Harriet E. Longshore, in 1841. She was born in the year 1824, on the banks of the Susquehanna, near Berwick, Pa. Her parents being engaged in farming, she enjoyed the usual opportunities afforded farmers' daughters for obtaining an education in those days. Her father, Josiah Longshore, was born in Bucks County, Pa., in 1791, and died in 1836, after which Mrs. Longshore, with her family, moved to Beaver Meadow. This was in 1836. Her mother, Mrs. Ann Longshore, was born in Montgomery County, Pa., in 1784, and died in 1875. Their married life proved a prosperous and happy one, the fruits of which have been five children, --three daughters and two sons. The oldest, William L. Hoffecker, married Miss Mina Peters, of White Haven, Pa., in 1866. He is now occupying the position of master-machinist with the Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Toledo Railroad Company, at Youngstown, Ohio. The next, Miss Lizzie A., was married to Mr. Charles DeWitt, of Weatherly, in 1866. Mr. DeWitt is foreman of the machine shops at Weatherly. Next comes Ashabel B., one of Weatherly's wide-awake and active young men. He is chief bookkeeper and draughts-man for the machine shops and foundry, in which position he proves himself to be a valuable assistant to his father. Mr. Hoffecker's younger daughters, Misses Mary and Emily, are young ladies who have enjoyed more than the usual advantages. To know them is to recognize culture, refinement, intelligence, and genuine worth. We how leave the subject of this sketch, feeling satisfied that in Mr. Hoffecker we have a true type of an American citizen, blessed with a happy home, and enjoying the success of his children.

 

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From

The History of the Counties of Lehigh & Carbon, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,

By

Alfred Mathews & Austin N. Hungerford

Published in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1884

 

Transcribed from the original in July, 2002 by

Vincent E Summers
[3X-great-grandson of David Weatherly Sr., namesake of the town of Weatherly]

 

Web page by

Jack Sterling

August 2002