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Below is a family biography included in the book,  Portrait and biographical record of Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties, Pennsylvania published in 1894 by Chapman Publishing Company.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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GEORGE T. OPLINGER, Civil Engineer and Architect, of Slatington, Pa., is an honored representative of a family whose ancestors were of German descent and who were among the pioneers of Northampton County, Pa. In the court records of that county in the October term of 1752, mention is made of the fact that Nicholas Oplinger was appointed Constable. The famous Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to Governor Morris, dated Ft. Allen, January 26, 1756, writes concerning the march of the troops from Bethlehem to Gnadenhuetten (now Weissport), where they erected a fort for the purpose of fighting with the Indians. Franklin adds: “We marched cautiously through the gap of the mountain, a very dangerous pass, and got to Uplinger’s * * (Oplinger), but twenty miles from Bethlehem. * * There were no habitations on the road to shelter us until we arrived at the house of a German, Nicholas Oplinger, where on his farm we were all huddled together. * * The next day being fair, we continued our march and arrived at the desolate Gnadenhuetten.”

So far as can now be learned by investigation and tradition, it is believed that there were three brothers, Nicholas (the Constable), Isaac and Samuel Oplinger. The second of these was our subject’s great-grandfather. Grandfather Daniel Oplinger was born December 29, 1790, and died January 22, 1851, aged sixty years and twenty-eight days; his wife, whose maiden name was Susanna Walp, was born April 15, 1793, and passed away on the 5th of April, 1865, at the advanced age of seventy-one years eleven months and twenty days. Their remains now repose in the Indian Land Cemetery, near Cherryville, Pa. Grandfather George Fenstermacher was born July 7, 1787, and died May 19, 1853, at the age of sixty-five years ten months and twelve days; his wife, Kate (nee Dreisbach), was born September 1, 1793, and departed this life March 31, 1846, aged fifty-two years and seven months. They were buried in the Stone Church Cemetery near Kreidersville, Pa.

The father of our subject was born November 15, 1824, and is therefore at this writing (1894) about seventy years of age. The mother, Sarah Lena (nee Fenstermacher), was born March 22, 1827, and died August 26, 1890, aged sixty-three years five months and four days. Her remains rest in the Union Cemetery at Slatington. George T., of this sketch, was born in Lehigh Township, orthampton County, Pa., on the 28th of October, 1848. His primary education was received in the schools of the neighborhood. When nearly fourteen years of age he started to assist his father in his occupation (he had been a shoemaker, and worked at the same trade for fifty years), and worked on his father’s farm for several years, after which, in 1865, he became a student in Professor Sykes’ school in Bethlehem, Pa. On returning home to his parents from said school he resumed his first occupation again, assisting his father until January, 1868, when he entered the Weaversville Academy, at Weaversville, Pa., where he remained as a student for one term.

In April, 1868, he entered the Dickinson Seminary at Williamsport, Pa., remaining a student there until 1869, when, being desirous of taking a business course, he entered the Williamsport Business College, finishing his course in that institution in December, 1869. Not being satisfied with the instructions in drafting, architectural drawing, sketching, etc., already received in schools, he therefore placed himself under the able training of J. B. Otto, then a civil engineer and architect in the city of Williamsport, Pa., from whom he received private instruction. During the years 1870-71 he clerked and had charge of a general mercantile store at Eockville, Pa.

On the 14th of August, 1871, Mr. Oplinger and Miss Amanda A. Remaly were united in marriage. Two sons were born to them, one of whom died in infancy, August 20, 1 873. The second son, Thomas E., was born May 31, 1876, and died June 30, 1887, at the age of eleven years and one month. Mrs. Oplinger was born in Slatington, Pa., January 5, 1853, and was a daughter of John and Lavina (wee Wert) Remaly. In 1850 her grandfather, Jacob George Remaly, sold to his eldest son, John, fifty acres of farming land, upon which the latter built, in 1850, the first house in Upper Slatington. Soon after building that house John Remaly started the first hotel in Upper Slatington (now called the Neff- House), and in January, 1851, secured the first license in Upper Slatington. His next step was the laying out of town lots into residence sites; upon these he built houses and so started the borough of Slatington. On the 3d of January, 1862, John Remaly died, aged thirty-eight years seven months and twenty-three days. His wife, Lavina, passed away November 15, 1889, aged sixty-five years and twenty-one days.

Purchasing Dr. Mitchell’s interest in the Williamsport Business College at Williamsport, Pa., Mr. Oplinger finally became a partner with his former instructor, Prof. J. F. Davis, the Principal and manager. The college was afterward conducted under the firm name of Davis & Oplinger, Principals. At the time the partnership was formed the Daily Gazette and Bulletin, of Williamsport, published the following: “Professor Davis has now associated with him as partner Prof. G. T. Oplinger, than whom as a pen artist no superior can be found in Pennsylvania. We predict for the college increased prosperity under the present efficient management.” Mr. Oplinger exhibited his artistic pen work in many of the best fairs in the state, and was always rewarded with first premiums and diplomas.

Before concluding this sketch it will not be amiss to present a few extracts from newspapers regarding Mr. Oplinger’s pen work. From the Daily Morning Standard, of Williamsport, Pa., September 18, 1872, we quote as follows: “G. T. Oplinger’s specimens of penmanship and pen drawing from the Williamsport Commercial College are in the highest style of art, and exhibit rare skill but the specimen of the rose with its surrounding cards shows the Professor’s mastery of the pen in a prominent degree.”

From the Allentown Daily Herald, September 27, 1877: “G. T. Oplinger has some pen drawings on exhibition which are receiving more than the ordinary attention of visitors, and that they are entitled to much credit and praise as works of art will be readily admitted by all who see them. Mr. Oplinger is an excellent penman and has a peculiar genius for designs at once striking and novel. He has written the Lord’s Prayer on less space than would be occupied by an old silver three-cent piece (that is, one-eighth of an inch smaller in diameter than an old silver three-cent piece), and it has been done in such a manner that the writing can be read with the naked eye. He has also a family record on exhibition. His other drawings are excellent and display great taste and skill.”

From the Williamsport Sun, 1871: “Prof. J. F. Davis, the originator and proprietor, has recently taken into partnership Prof. G. T. Oplinger, who comes well recommended as one of the very best pen artists in the state, so that with this additional help, we predict for the college still greater success, not only in increased patronage, which it eminently deserves, but in usefulness.”

Being especially skilled in handling the pen, Mr. Oplinger took charge of the penmanship department, and also taught mechanical drawing, mathematics, bookkeeping and telegraphy. Under this management for a few years the college increased in attendance until in December, 1873, there were two hundred and ten students enrolled. At that time our subject disposed of his interest in the college to Professor Davis and settled in Slatington, where he still resides. In addition to his occupation as an architect, for several years he designed in artistic pen work for publishers in that line in New York, East Bridgewater, Mass., and Boston.

The following testimonial was received from Prof. J. L. Voigt, publisher of ornamental and artistic pen work at East Bridgewater, Mass., for whom Mr. Oplinger has designed work for publication in the pen art. Prof. L. J. Voigt, of East Bridgewater, in his letter to Mr. Oplinger, dated September 4, 1876, states as follows: “I have on hand now several thousand ‘original’ cards designed by different penmen all over the United States, but almost all of them are of inferior and faulty workmanship. These I have obtained directly and indirectly, and in order, if possible, to get some good, new or useful idea from them which might aid me in producing something new and desirable; but I will say that there isn’t a new idea in the whole batch, and those I have on hand of your own workmanship are far superior to any.”

Finding that his efforts as an architect were rewarded with flattering success, Mr. Oplinger ceased pen work, and thereafter devoted his attention to designing, planning and superintending the erection of buildings. He has been superintending architect of the Bittner House, school building, hose house, Ave churches, and many of the finest store, hall, and office buildings, and many private dwellings in the borough of Slatington, besides other public and private buildings in different localities too numerous to mention, that stand as a monument to his efficiency and ability as an architect.

Being strictly moral in his habits, genial in manner and prepossessing in appearance, it is but natural that Mr. Oplinger should have many friends throughout this part of the state. He has been chosen to represent the people in various official capacities. In 1881 he was nominated and elected School Director, and was chosen Secretary of the Board, which position he held for three consecutive years. His term expiring in 1884, he was re-elected, and in 1885 became Treasurer of the Board, filling that position for two years, until the expiration of his second term as Director.

In religious belief Mr. Oplinger is connected with the. St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, which he has served as Trustee and member of the Church Council. In 1881 he was made one of the building committee to erect the St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on Second Street, in the borough of Slatington, of which he was also chosen the superintending architect. In the work of building the edifice his assistance was invaluable and was greatly appreciated by the members of the congregation. In 1890 he was appointed borough engineer by the Council of Slatington, which position he has faithfully and honorably filled to the present time. In 1891 he built the new reservoir for the borough, which proved to be a vast improvement over the old water supply in that place. August 3, 1893, he was appointed Notary Public by Gov. Robert E. Pattison.

Socially Mr. Oplinger is identified with the Masonic fraternity. He entered the Manoquesy Lodge No. 413, A. Y. M., at Bath, Pa., February 2, 1871; was admitted to Slatington Lodge No. 440, F. & A. M., February 14, 1889; to Allen R. A. Chapter No. 203, June 20, 1892; and to Allen Commandery No. 20, and Knight Templar January 12, 1893. He is also a member and Past Chief of Slatington Castle No. 206, Knights of the Golden Eagle, with which he united November 23, 1887.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the book, Portrait and biographical record of Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties, Pennsylvania published in 1894 by Chapman Publishing Company. 

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