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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania published in 1904 by T. S. Benham & Company and The Lewis Publishing Company; Elwood Roberts, Editor.  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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HARMAN CUSTER was born in Norriton township, Montgomery county, February 4, 1850. When about three years of age his father removed to East Coventry, Chester county, and bought a farm on which he resided until his death. At the age of eight years Harman left home and became a driver on the Schuylkill Canal, going as far as New York city, Hartford, Connecticut, and many other points. He was on the canal seven years and learned everything pertaining to that work, ending as a steersman. On one occasion, in 1863, young Custer went to Alexandria with a load of coal for the use of the government, and on Chesapeake Bay encountered a storm which would have tried the nerve of the most experienced men in the business. In 1864, becoming tired of “following the water,” he went to Pottstown and became an apprentice to the carpenter trade. He served his time, but never followed the business, as the firm of Jack & Geist; with whom he had learned the trade, failed in business about the time his apprenticeship was ended. In 1867 he entered the employ of the Philadelphia and Reading Railway Company as a laborer, and has been with them ever since. About 1868 he was made a brakeman, and three and a half years later was promoted to the position of conductor, which he held about three years, and then became a fireman for three years, and for twenty-six, years has been one of the trusted engineers of the road. In all these years he has always stood by the company in their many strikes and labor troubles, even going to the company when he felt that a raise in pay was due him, and never in vain. He has never been in a wreck, never even running into the rear of a train. In 1880 he went to Bridgeport, and has since lived there. Mr. Custer is a Republican, and is one of the men to whom the question is never asked, “On which side is he?” He is a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen.

On November 14, 1865, Mr. Custer married Miss Mary Elizabeth, daughter of George and Ellen (Pyle) Schaffer, who was born at Pawlings Bridge, Chester county, July 14, 1850. At the time of her birth her father was keeping a hotel at that place, and was also supervisor for the Philadelphia and Reading Railway Company, which position he had held ten years before he met his death, which occurred while in the line of his duty, he having been caught in the Phoenix tunnel by two trains. He lay down on the ground between the trains, and, while his body showed no sign of being touched, he never regained consciousness. Mrs. Custer’s mother was a Pyle, of the family now contesting the claim of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company for a valuable tract of four hundred and sixteen acres of coal land at Tamaqua.

Mr. and Mrs. Harman Custer’s children: 1. Jennie, born in 1869, married William Schnable, of Spring City, who is engaged in the glass works as shipping clerk. They have seven children: Bertha, Ellwood Harman, Ida, Stella, William, James and Anna C. 2. William, born June 17, 1870, married Rebecca Keely, and has one son, William. Mr. Custer was killed on the Chester Valley Railroad, on which he was employed as a brakeman. He was struck by a bridge on June 6, 1893. 3. Jesse and James (twins) born November 14, 1872, and died in infancy. 4. Anna C., born in 1873, unmarried, and resides with her parents. 5. Emma, born November 2, 1874, and lives with her parents. 6. James M., born March 17, 1876. 7. Rachel R., born August 23, 1877, died March 25. 1897. She married Samuel Sickle. 8. Irene, born January 8, 1879.

Peter Custer (great-grandfather) came from Switzerland and settled in Pennsylvania. He married, and reared a family of three sons and one daughter. Of the sons, Harman (grandfather) was born in Worcester township, Montgomery county, July 2, 1788. In early life he followed the trade of a weaver, but became a farmer, and at his death owned the farm where Custer Station is located, on the Stony Creek Railroad. He married Catharine Beyer, who was born January 9, 1790. Their children: Margaret, born February 6, 1811; Lydia, born January 11, 1812; Abraham, born February 16, 1813; Susanna, born March 12, 1815; Mary, born June 23, 1817; Philip B., born June 2, 1821; Levi, born March 25, 1825; John S., born September 18, 1827; Ann B., born December 9, 1831.

Of their children, Abraham (father) married Mary Shrawder, in December, 1837. Their children: Catharine, Ann, Jesse and Harman. Mrs. Custer died January 5, 1859. Abraham married (second wife) Ann Forges, in October, 1859. Their children were Sallie, Abraham C., Lyman and Ida. Mrs. Custer died June 29, 1899. Abraham Custer (father of Harman) died May 4, 1886. He was a farmer in Chester county, and at the time of his death owned a farm in East Vincent township, near Parkerford. He was a Republican in politics but not a politician. He was a member of the Reformed church of East Vincent, and one of its officers.

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This family biography is one of more than 1,000 biographies included in the Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania published in 1904 by T. S. Benham & Company and The Lewis Publishing Company.  For the complete description, click here: Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

View additional Montgomery County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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