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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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HOWARD R. KNECHT comes of one of the best old families of Lower Saucon Township, Northampton County, and for many years has occupied a high position in social, political and business circles of the community. He is a member of the firm of John Knecht & Son, who carry on one of the most important industries of this region, and of which his father, now deceased, was the founder. Our subject possesses in a marked degree the traits of character which made his father so highly esteemed and so successful in life.

The Knecht family in the last century resided in the Palatinate, Germany. His ancestor, John Jacob Knecht, with fifty-nine of his neighbors and relatives, started on a sailing-vessel, “The Allen,” James Cragie Master, from Rotterdam, in September, 1734. A son of John Jacob, Jonas George, was born May 5, 1740, and died February 21, 1823. His wife, Anna Maria, was born September 29, 1752, and died February 12, 1813. Their son, John, our subject’s grandfather, was born July 1, 1778, and married Sarah Ruth Stahler, whose birth occurred September 10, 1782. The former died September 17, 1814, while his wife lived until October 5, 1827.

John Knecht, the next in line of descent, was born in Williams Township, August 5, 1814, being the second son in his parents’ family. His mother died when he was very young, and his father’s death occurred when he was a lad of twelve years. His uncle, Aaron Knecht, of Williams Township, took charge of him and brought him up on his farm, training him in thrifty and industrious ways, to which he owed the foundation of his large fortune in after years. He received his education in a private school held in the Spring House, two and a-half miles below Easton, near Black Horse Tavern, on the Delaware. Afterward he apprenticed himself to learn the carpenter’s trade with John Seipel, who later removed to Ohio, where he died. Mr. Knecht followed his trade until twenty-two years of age, when he went to North Carolina and engaged in railroad contract work between Raleigh and Gaston. In 1839 he returned to the North and married Eliza E., daughter of Benjamin and Elizabeth Riegel, the wedding taking place in the old house at Shimersville, in which he resided ever afterward, and in which his death occurred. The marriage ceremony was performed by Rev. Mr. Becker, and February 2, 1889, the couple celebrated their golden anniversary. Shortly after his marriage Mr. Knecht took possession of the old gristmill at Shimersville, which was built by Nathaniel Irish in 1735, and which was subsequently operated by men well known in this region, among them being Samuel Leidig, who ran it in 1832, and Benjamin Rigel, who came into possession of it in 1836. Mr. Knecht continued the operation of the mill for several years, in the mean time considerably improving it, and then turned it over to his son Howard, who now runs it.

In 1859 John Knecht, in company with Augustus Wolle, Charles W. Ranch and Charles B. Daniel, all long since deceased, conceived and carried out the idea of establishing an iron furnace on the flats along the Lehigh River, now part of the borough of Bethlehem. From this grew the late Bethlehem Iron Company, which has a world-wide fame, and in which Mr. Knecht was a Director up to the time of his death. In 1872 he organized the Northampton Iron Company, of which he was President, and during the early days of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Mr. Knecht took great interest in its construction, and rendered valuable assistance in building the portion of road from Saucon Creek, near his home, to South Bethlehem. He was a warm friend of Judge Asa Packer, and from 1862 to 1865 he was a Director in the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company. He was also a Director in the First National Bank of Easton, and held many offices of trust, being executor, administrator and guardian for many of his friends. He was a member of the Reformed Church and carried into his daily life its worthy teachings. Many a poor man owes to him substantial assistance, advice and help. He was a stanch Democrat, and though at one time solicited to run for Congress from this district, emphatically declined, preferring to live a quiet life.

Mr. and Mrs. John Knecht were the parents of seven children, four of whom survive: Arabella, wife of Dr. J. J. Detwieler, of Easton; Emily, Mrs. Dr. E. J. Freeman, of Freemansburg; Annie, who resides at home; and Howard R. Those who have passed away were: Sallie, wife of Dr. R. H. Sheppard, of Phillipsburg, N. J.; John, who died at the age of nineteen; and Benjamin, whose death occurred in infancy. The death of John Knecht occurred February 22, 1891, and his remains were lovingly placed to rest in Lower Saucon Cemetery.

Howard R. Knecht was born in Shimersville, September 4, 1856, and received a public-school education. He further pursued his studies in Nazareth Hall, from which he was graduated in 1886. He then commenced working for his father, helping to manage his business, and on attaining his majority became a partner with his father in the milling business, and on the death of the latter succeeded him. He is earnest and energetic in the management of his affairs, and is one of the most enterprising business men of this locality. In addition to his milling interests he is a Director in the Easton National Bank, the First National Bank of Mauch Chunk, and is identified with the Bethlehem Iron Company, the Pennsylvania Railroad Company and the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company. He is possessed of a very genial disposition and courteous manners, which readily win friends.

September 21, 1882, Mr. Knecht married Laurenti, daughter of Dr. B. C. Walter, of Farmersville, this county. Two children have come to bless the union of this worthy couple: Florence Anna, born September 29, 1883, and John Walter, born February 8, 1885. In politics Mr. Knecht is a Democrat and takes a leading part in educational and civic affairs. He is a member of the Reformed Church of Freemansburg, and is a Trustee of the Allentown College for Women.

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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. 

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

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