PACLEARF-L ArchivesArchiver > PACLEARF > 2000-08 > 0967782962
From: "kg_davis" <>
Subject: [PACLEARF] Clearfield Republican - 16 August 1901 - JACOB BILGER DEAD
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2000 23:36:02 -0500
Jacob BILGER Dead.
One of the Pioneers of Curwensville, and one of its Most Prominent Citizens,
Passed to His Rest at an Advanced Age.
Jacob BILGER, one of the oldest and most widely known citizens of our sister
town of Curwensville, and father of one of the editors of the Republican
departed this life at his residence on State street in that place, on
Saturday, the tenth day of August, A.D. 1901, at 2:40 p.m. aged seventy-six
years, ten months and three days.
He was born in that part of Union county, in this state, that afterwards was
organized into Snyder county, on the farm of his father near what was then
known as Swansfordstown and now Middleburg, on the seventh day of October
A.D. 1824. His grand-father was named George Adam BILGER and was a tailor
by trade and had emigrated from Germany at an early day and settled in Berks
county and afterwards moved into Union, now Snyder county, and followed his
trade, but owned and sometime occupied a fine farm between Middleburg and
New Berlin in Union county. George Adam BILGER was the father of seven
children, namely: Jacob, the father of the subject of this sketch, George,
John, Frederick, Betsey, married to a man named HAZLET; Beckie, married to a
man named FRANE and afterwards to a second husband named MISER, and Susanna,
married to one BOYER and as a second husband to a man named MITCHELL. The
elder BILGER insisted upon his boys learning his occupation, but, on hearing
his son Jacob express, to some companions, his determination to quit that
trade at his majority and learn the trade of a stone mason, he immediately
humored the boys desire and allowed him to apprentice himself to a man of
the calling which he preferred. The father of our subject thus began his
years of maturity as a stone mason which occupation he followed during the
entire balance of his life. Jacob BILGER, the elder, married Magdalena
GILBERT and was the father of twelve children, nine girls and three boys, of
which number our subject was the tenth. These were Sallie, afterwards
Sallie BICKEL; Lydia, afterwards Lydia BRIDGE; Hettie; who died at the early
age of six; Ellen, afterwards Ellen HOCKENBERRY; George; Lucinda, afterwards
Lucinda CUNNINGHAM; Sophia, afterwards Sophia SHIPTON; Susanna, wife of John
THOMAS of Bloom township; George; Rebecca, married to Henry SYKES, and
Matilda, afterwards Matilda PLACE. The members of the older generation and
the Centre county branch of the family always pronounced the name with the
hard sound of "g", while the family of the subject of our sketch pronounces
the name with the soft sound of that letter. D.M. BILGER, the head of the
Centre county branch, the well-known Moshannon lumberman, was a first cousin
of the deceased.
Jacob BILGER the elder bought a farm and, although he always followed his
trade and taught his sons George and John the same, he left our subject to
look after the farm until adverse fortune caused the elder BILGER to lose
it, when the family moved to Huntingdon county and settled near Neff's
Mills. The subject of this sketch returned to Union county, however, and
learned the then lucrative trade of tinning at New Berlin and, having saved
sufficient to purchase tools, he followed that occupation at the home of his
parents for almost two years.
In December, 1847, he married Hannah GRAY, of Green Tree, Huntingdon county,
who has been the companion of his years and is now left to survive him.
About this time he began to look for a more promising field and came with
his brother-in-law, Henry SYKES, (the father of the well-known Benjamin J.
SYKES of Troutville, Jacob Bilger SYKES of Sykesville, George W. SYKES of
the firm of Sykes & Ellis of Reynoldsville and others) came to Clearfield
county, and while here, purchased a tract of timber land in Bloom township,
which is yet a part of his estate and is known as the upper saw mill tract.
He also bought a lot in Curwensville where Alfred L. BILGER now resides.
In the spring of 1848 he moved the family of his parents to this county and
then came himself, and, as no house was to be had in Curwensville, they all
settled at Grampian for a short time when his parents moved out onto the
farm of Joseph BOONE in Penn township, where they lived until they moved to
their homestead in Bloom township, now owned by the estate of John BILGER,
deceased, where Mary Magdalena BILGER died in 1857 and Jacob BILGER the
elder in 1863 at the age of seventy-five years. Jacob BILGER, our subject
immediately began to build in Curwensville and moved to that place in 1849
where he followed his trade for many years at a time when the rafting on the
river made it very remunerative. He invested his savings from time to time
in real estate, and he often told, with great amusement, his pleasure
experienced when he made five hundred dollars on an eight hundred dollar
sale of a tract of land, on the head waters of Anderson creek to Philip
BLANCHARD from which BLANCHARD afterwards cut enough pine timber to have
made a princely fortune. This experience, which was so philosophically
viewed by Mr. BILGER, taught him to hold on to his property, and the large
estate which has since accumulated has shown the wisdom of his judgment.
About 1850 he, with Henry SYKES above mentioned, erected a water power saw
mill on Huey Run, in Bloom township, and he afterwards bought a second one
lower down on the same stream. These he continued to use for a number of
years and they were supplanted by a large steam saw mill which was sold,
during the present summer, for forty thousand dollars, he retaining the
In 1874 he purchased the old McBRIDE hardware store in Curwensville, and in
1875 erected a brick store building and has conducted that business in the
same until the time of his death. He also found time to manufacture and
float square timber to the eastern market, and few men who run the river in
former days were unacquainted with him. Like his father and grandfather
before him, he owned several farms and some of his greatest enjoyments in
life were derived from agricultural pursuits.
His educational opportunities were very limited, he having attended school
only for a few months in his early life and that taught in the German
language. But while his education advantages were so restricted, he was of
unusual natural intelligence and of a retentive memory and had an insatiable
ambition for knowledge and, by persistent reading, he made of himself a
thoroughly self-educated man. He was a lifelong student and an omniverous
reader, well posted upon all current questions, a good conversationalist and
a user of well-chosen words. He was a Democrat in politics and an active
partisan, but broad enough in his views occasionally to honor, with his
vote, a worthy candidate of opposite political faith.
He was a man of large and strong physique and of great endurance, and these,
joined to his industrious habits, made him prodigeal of his health and
strength. He knew but little sickness until an attack of grip, about two
years ago, left him with an impaired heart. He recovered for a time and
while he was the picture of perfect health, the slightest exertion caused
him suffering. Recently his decline became more pronounced and, although he
was able to be about as usual and on the evening preceeding his death sat on
his porch and entertained a number of his friends, he experienced an attack
of heart failure, on last Friday night, from which he never fully rallied
and, while he was able to recognize and converse with his family until noon
of Saturday, from that time on his heart's action gradually weakened until
2:40 p.m. of that day, when he quietly and peacefully passed to the great
He was entirely undemonstrative in religious matters. He united with the
Lutheran church at the early age of 16, but when he came to Curwensville he
found no Lutheran church there and he, with Jefferson GATES, Abram GATES,
Stephen GRAFF and George KITTELBARGER, purchased a lot upon which they hoped
to see a church erected. A Lutheran congregation, known as Mt. Carmel
congregation, was organized of which he was a deacon, but as there were no
new acquisitions to their number the project of building a church was
deferred until recently, when, after all of those named, excepting himself
and George KITTELBARGER, had passed away, a beautiful little Lutheran chapel
was erected upon this lot kept for the purpose through all these years. In
the meantime he had united with the Methodist Episcopal church and, while in
his later years he contributed largely of his means toward the Lutheran
church and frequently attended its services, he retained his membership in
the Methodist Episcopal church. He was a firm believer in the broadest
doctrines of Christianity and had no fear of the passage over the dark
river. He died with an unshaken faith in a glorious resurrection.
He was a man of sterling worth, of unimpeachable integrity and respected by
all who knew him.
The funeral services were conducted from the Methodist church in
Curwensville on Tuesday afternoon at 2 o'clock, the body lying in the church
from 12 m. until that hour. The funeral services were conducted by
Reverends Rue, of the Methodist Episcopal church, DISE of the Lutheran and
Barber, of the Presbyterian. The funeral was largely attended and one of
its most impressive features was the singing, by R.H. BRAINARD, of the
beautiful hymn, "Lead Kindly Light." Six of his grand-sons acted as paul
The deceased is survived by a widow and nine children, namely: Hannah
BILGER, his widow, Martha BROOME, widow of Henry BROOME, deceased, Alfred
L., Edmund C., Reuben G., Lemuel H., Minerva J., wife of George W. GRAY, and
Alice E., wife of John W. REESER, all of Curwensville; George M. of
Clearfield, and Gertrude M., wife of James M. TAYLOR, of DuBois. This is
the first death in this large family. He is also survived by four of his
sisters, namely: Mrs. Ellen HOCKENBERRY, of White Pigeon, Michigan; Mrs.
Susanna THOMAS, of Bloom township, this county; Mrs. Rebecca SYKES, of
Salem, Oregon, and Mrs. Matilda PLACE, who resides in Wisconsin. Of these
Mrs. HOCKENBERRY has been lying at the point of death and may, ere this,
have passed to the land of shadows.
Following the custom of his father and grandfather he taught his trade to
all of his sons excepting George M., but all of them later abandoned it for
more congenial pursuits. Alfred L. is a plumber in the employ of the
Pennsylvania Hide and Leather Company, Edmund C. and Reuben G. have had
charge of their father's lumbering interest, Lemuel H. has conducted the
hardware business and George M. is a well-known member of the Clearfield
A Further Tribute to His Memory by Rev. B.S. DISE.
In the death of Jacob Bilger not only did the family lose a good husband and
father, but the community lost a good citizen, an upright business man, a
good neighbor and a true Christian. It has been the good fortune of the
writer to have formed his acquaintance and enjoyed his friendship and love
for only five years, but that short time has plainly proven the goodness of
his heart and the nobleness of his life. Faults he had, and who has not;
but his life-impress for love to God and love to man in fashioning other
lives, and though dead, he still speaketh. As one of the pioneer citizens
of our beautiful town his name with the names of PATTON, ARNOLD, GATES,
IRVIN and others will often be named by future generations, as the men to
whom this community owes much for business enterprise, moral standing and
all the interests that make the place to be desired by a man as a home for
himself and those dependent.
Blessed by a strong physique he took hold of everything he undertook with a
will and determination that meant success. This trait of industry has
influenced others "to do with their might what their hands find to do."
While quick in noting wrong in others he was ever ready just as quickly to
forgive and had well learned to keep under the body that the nobler impulses
of light might be developed. He lived to a good old age.
He was early in life indoctrinated in the truths of our holy religion and
had gained the confidence and esteem of the bretheren in his church - Mt.
Carmel Lutheran Church, of Curwensville -that as early as 1857 he was
honored by being chosen one of the officers in the same. The church having
disbanded during the civil war he later united with the M.E. church, where
his faithful wife has been a devoted member for many years, and with such a
companion the home religion was not forgotten.
His memory is blessed.
Gloria Butler Davis