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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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JOHN A. FENSTERMACHER, Chief of Police of South Bethlehem, is the oldest police officer in the place, and is well liked by every one. He has always satisfactorily performed his duties and has made a most efficient officer. May 19, 1894, he went on a tour of inspection with the Street Commissioners, and met with a severe accident on account of the overturning of a wagon. His injuries kept him confined to the house for over three months. He was born in Lower Nazareth, Northampton County, February 1, 1851, being a son of Jacob Fenstermacher, a native of Moore Township. His grandfather, whose Christian name was John, was also a native of this county, where he engaged in farming, though later he made a business of carpet-weaving in Lower Nazareth. His death resulted from injuries received when over seventy-nine years of age from falling down some steps in the darkness. His father was a native of Germany, who settled in this county in a very early day.

Our subject’s father was a butcher and carpenter by trade, and when he located in South Bethlehem in 1858 there were scarcely any houses in the place. He made a settlement on what was then called the Philadelphia road, now known as Wyandotte Street. He is still living, making his home with his son John A., and is now nearly seventy years old. His wife died in February, 1892. Her maiden name was Elizabeth Rohn, and her birth occurred in Lower Nazareth, of which place her father, David Rohn, was also a native. He was a farmer and also a carpenter, engaging in those vocations until his death in 1857, at the age of sixty-nine years.

John A., of this sketch, is the eldest of three sons and four daughters who are living. His boyhood was mainly passed in South Bethlehem, and for a year he attended school in Seidersrille, later Bethlehem South, and now called South Bethlehem. He continued his studies in the common school until twelve years old, when for a year he was bound out to a farmer. Afterward he served an apprenticeship to a painter, with whom he remained for three years, and in 1870 went to Philadelphia, there working at his trade until the following year, when he returned to this place and engaged in contract painting, building up a large business arid having over forty men in his employ. He took contracts in all the neighboring country and the Lehigh Valley, but he was caught financially in the panic of 1874, though two years later he started in his trade again, and became finally an employe of the Revolution Paint Company, with whom he continued for nearly a year.

It was in 1879 that Mr. Fenstermacher entered the public service as a policeman, serving faithfully until 1884, when he was appointed by the City Council to the position of Chief of Police, to which post he has been reappointed every spring since. From October, 1878, until the present time he has been a constable, having been re-elected every three years. Under his charge there are five policemen, and the new quarters are in the Market-house, which is fire-proof; in the basement are the steel cages for prisoners. Our subject holds a commission from the court as a society officer to protect children from neglect and cruelty. He was Health Officer until the new act went into force in the spring of 1894.

In October, 1874, occurred the marriage of our subject to Miss Catherine Doebele, who was born in New York City, and reared in South Bethlehem, though her parents were natives of Wurtemberg, Germany. This worthy couple have five children: Carrie, who is a clerk with Hoffman & Co.; Frank, employed by the Lehigh Valley Railroad; William, with the Bethlehem Silk Company; and John, Katie and Warren, at home. The residence of the family is at No. 28 West Third Street, in the heart of the town.

In 1882 Mr. Fenstermacher had charge of the small-pox hospital in South Bethlehem, being steward during this, the third, epidemic. He took an active part in stamping out the dread disease, which was worse that year than it had ever been in this locality. Fraternally he is a member of the Royal Arcanum, being one of the founders of the lodge in South Bethlehem, which started with nineteen members, July 12, 1884, and now has enrolled over two hundred persons. He has also affiliated with the Heptasophs. In politics he supports the Democratic party, and religiously holds to the tenets of the Reformed Church.

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This family biography is one of the 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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