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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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JOSEPH ADDISON BUCKWALTER, the well known stove manufacturer of Royersford, was born in Chester county, June 25, 1836. He was educated in the public schools of the vicinity. Mr. Buckwalter is the son of Abraham and Rachel (Ortlip) Buckwalter, he a resident of Montgomery county and she of Chester county.

Francis Buckwalter, the immigrant, came to America from Switzerland about 1700, and located near Phoenixville, taking up a large tract of land where he reared his family. The family was of that sturdy, thrifty German stock which settled so largely the upper end of Montgomery county, and like most of them gave their attention to tilling the soil and rearing their families to honorable manhood and womanhood.

Abraham Buckwalter (father) was born in 1797. He was a millwright by trade, which occupation he followed a great part of his life. He resided in Chester county, where he owned and operated a sawmill and a farm. He was a Whig in politics, but had no aspirations in the direction of seeking office. He became a strong Republican during the rebellion, having been an abolitionist and assisted fugitive slaves on what was known as the “Underground Railroad,” forwarding them to Canada or other place of safety.

Although not an abstainer in youth, he became an earnest temperance advocate, and founded the Royal Springs Temperance Society, near Kimberton, in 1844, and Mr. Buckwalter and his wife were the first members. He was ever after a faithful temperance man, advocating the cause and circulating petitions until they contained seven hundred names. J. A. Buckwalter has the original roll of the society, which he retains as a relic of his father’s work for temperance. He died in 1878. His wife survived and died in 1898 at the age of ninety-three years. She was the daughter of Henry and Mary (Gurris) Ortlip, both of Chester county. Henry was a miller by trade and a hotel-keeper for many years. Their children: Samuel; Rachel (mother); Rebecca; Mary; Andrew; Henry; Osmond; Abram. Abraham and Rachel Buckwalter had eleven sons, as follows: Samuel; William; Elias; Henry; Franklin; J. A. (subject of this sketch); Newton; David R.; Lewis; Theodore and John W. Three are yet living: Newton, Lewis and J. A. Buckwalter.

Joseph A. Buckwalter remained under the parental roof, assisting his father until he married in 1861. Later, he and his brother Henry engaged as partners in a small way in the foundry business at Royal Springs, in Chester county, where the foundation of the present large business was laid, the present extensive stove works being the result. The management now consists of J. A. Buckwalter, president; A. W. Dotterer, secretary; T. D. Buckwalter, treasurer; I. N. Buckwalter, superintendent; Abram L. Buckwalter, director and assistant superintendent.

Mr. Buckwalter married Miss Mary Hamor, born in Chester county, January 13, 1840. She is the daughter of John and Catharine (Hawk) Hamor. The Hamors are of Welsh descent, though long domiciled in eastern Pennsylvania. Their children were: John (died in infancy); John, 2d; James; Hannah (Mrs. A. Ralston); Eliza (Mrs. A. Wilson); Mary (Mrs. Buckwalter). The children of J. A. and Mary Buckwalter are: Katie, widow of David Springer, in real estate and insurance and who was burgess of Royersford at the time of his death; Rachel S., widow of C. Raiser, a glass manufacturer of Royersford, and having one son, Addison B.; William; Laura, (Mrs. J. Grater); Mary S., (Mrs. H. H. Herbine, of Reading); Hannah E. (Mrs. J. Rogers, her husband being in insurance business in New York); Abram L., superintendent of stove factory; Joseph A., graduate of Hahnemann Medical College, Philadelphia, and now in Metropolitan Hospital, New York. Mrs. Buckwalter died November 13, 1899.

Joseph A. Buckwalter is the president of the Buckwalter Stove Company of Royersford, known also as the Continental Stove Works; he is also president of the Home Water Company, of that place, and was the first burgess of Royersford, holding the position for several years. He was born at Royal Springs, near Kimberton, June 25, 1836. In the latter part of 1866, Mr. Buckwalter and his brother removed to Royersford, where in connection with C. S. Francis, Henry Francis and John Sheeler they organized the firm of Francis, Buckwalter & Company, which went into operation, January I, 1867, as proprietors of the Continental Stove Works. For such an undertaking their capital was small, but they were young men and what they lacked in money they more than made up in skill and enterprise. What is somewhat unusual in the case of inventors, the Buckwalter brothers possessed excellent business qualities, and the fact soon became apparent in the rapid success of orders for their wares. At the start the company employed about fifty workmen and in addition to stoves manufactured agricultural implements, and also the new Buckwalter Cherry Seeder.

In 1870 Mr. C. S. Francis withdrew from the business, but no change was made in the style of the firm. In the following year, the firm finding the capacity of their works too limited for their growing trade, erected an additional building which had the effect of nearly doubling the capacity of the plant, but these additional facilities were taxed to their utmost extent. In 1872 Henry Francis retired, selling his interest to the remaining partners, who changed the name of the firm to Sheeler, Buckwalter & Company.

The demand for their products continued to grow very rapidly, and in 1875 it was decided that new works were necessary, and in 1876 the present extensive establishment was erected. Since then it has been frequently enlarged. In 1876 Mr. Sheeler died, his health having been failing for several years. The remaining members of the firm, the Messrs. Buckwalter, purchased the Sheeler interest from his heirs, and continued the business under the name of Buckwalter & Company.

The employment of the best material, the most approved methods, and the most skillful workmen were steadily operating to give greater value to the products of the Continental Works, and were carrying them to the most distant parts of the country. The energy of the Buckwalters in anticipating demands upon their resources kept them in a position to fill all orders, however unexpected. Under their management nearly one hundred and fifty men find employment, and through improvements in the plant the output of the works is nearly four times as great as when fifty men were on the pay roll.

In 1882 Mr. Buckwalter had the misfortune to lose by death his elder brother and partner, Henry L. Buckwalter. He continued the business, the firm name being unchanged until October, 1887, when the present corporation, the Buckwalter Stove Company, was formed. The company increased their plant in 1888, by the addition of a five-story brick warehouse, seventy by seventy-five feet. The capacity of the works at the present time is about twenty-five thousand stoves and ranges. The demand shows a steady increase, and they have sales agencies in several of the largest cities of the country, including Philadelphia, New York and Chicago,-the agency in the first named city handling its wares exclusively. The reputation of the company for fair dealing, enterprise, trustworthiness of products, and inventive ability is not surpassed in its line.

As the head of the Continental Stove Works and one of its founders, Mr. Buckwalter is known all over the United States as one of the leading manufacturers of America. In Royersford, where he has resided since 1866, he is interested in every public movement that promises to benefit his fellow citizens, as well as in those of a social, educational and philanthropic character. Early in life he was identified with the anti-slavery and temperance movements. He was a stockholder and president of the Home National Bank, and the Industrial Savings Bank. In 1902 both banks were converted into the Royersford Trust Company with authorized capital of two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars, Mr. Buckwalter being its president. He owns a great deal of Royersford rented property. He has done more than any other man in building up and maintaining the prosperity of Royersford. He erected at great cost a palatial residence, constructed of stone, at the corner of Walnut street and Fourth avenue. It is of modern architecture and finely finished and furnished. It occupies an elevated site and has extensive grounds, being a home worthy of its occupant. In politics he was Republican but of late years is independent, trying to vote for the best man. He was a member of the Union League during the war.

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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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