The children ages, nine, six and three years, skipped alongside their mother in a gleeful manner. They reached the Union Canal Lock #49 East around 5:00 P.M. The mother stopped, picked up stones and placed them in a basket and tied the basket around her waist. She picked up the boy and held him to her breast, and tucked each daughter on each side of her arms and jumped into the canal. The woman disappeared beneath the surface of the water, the children, still clinging to her also sank into the water.
An eye witness could not save the children who kept bobbing to the surface of the river because he could not swim. He ran to the house of Mr. Gring where a boat was launched.
Friday, the day of the funeral, hundreds of people flocked to the house at 611 Penn Street. The bodies were in four separate coffins. Police were called in to control the crowds. The Rev. A. S. Leinbach began the service, then the coffins, under the charge of undertaker, E. B. Miller, went to Charles Evans Cemetery in a white hearse drawn by white horses.
Mrs. Bissinger and her children were placed in the Bissinger family plot next to the two children who died previously, Louis P. 1869 age 4 months and an infant, died 1874. Instead of digging separate plots, a long trench was dug and the coffins placed inside.
A well known citizen, president of the Reading Brewing Company, founder of the Bissinger Cafe, a patron of music and Civil War veteran, passed away on Nov. 11, 1926.
He was a native of Germany. Born in Duerkheim on Jan. 24, 1842 to the parents of Mr. & Mrs. George Bissinger.
He gave the Reading Hospital, St. Joesph's Hospital, Homeopathic Hospital, Reading Public Museum and Art Gallery and Home for Friendless Children, $1,000 each.
Topton Orphan Asylum, Bethany Orphan's Home, St. Catherine's Female Orphan's Home, House of Good Shepherd, Associated Charities and Home for Widows and Single Women, $500 each.
The Charles Evans Cemetery receives $100.
Since he was the last of his line, he gave to his nieces and nephews the residue of his estate.
His housekeeper, Margaretta Goos got a life interest in $20,000.
She was the daughter of William Rothermel, the veteran journalist and founder of the Reading Post.
Being in ill health, she and her husband traveled to Hanburg Germany and entered a private sanitarium. Later she entered a sanitarium in Nuremberg, Germany. She returned home September 1.
May they all Rest In Peace.
As all German families, their farm house was warm and filled with love and respect. They all shared with the planting, harvesting, household chores and gathering around Father when he read the bible and listen to mother sing a German hymn called, "Allen, und Doch Nicht ganz Allein"
The German families had their share of problems with the Indians stealing their crops, burning their houses and massacreing families. The Indians did this because they didn't like the "White People" taking all their hunting lands.
On October 16, 1755, mother Leininger and her son John had gone to the mill leaving behind her husband and two daughters and eldest son. In their absence, Indians massacred the father and son and kidnapped the daughters.
The Indians were taking the girls to the Ohio region to live. After several months of traveling the Indians split the girls up, each going to different tribes to live. Against Regina's will, she was taught the Indian language and culture. After several years, she began to forget her family. Her sister Barbara was successful in escaping from the tribe she was taken to. Barbara and another girl, Marie Le Roy arrived in Philadelphia on May 6, 1759. They later moved to Lancaster where Barbara married Peter Ruffner.
In May of 1765, under the leadership of General Henry Bouquet, the prisoners were released and returned to different forts to await being reunited with what was left of their families. Regina was taken to Carlisle, Pa. Hundreds of family members looked in awe as their children, now years older, resembled the Indians that destroyed their families. Regina's mother, was distraught trying to pick out her daughter among hundred's of young adults. She broke out in the old hymn "Allen, und Doch Nicht ganz Allein". Across the room Regina, who had forgotten the German language, started to sing along. Mother and daughter were reunited at last.This took place on December 31, 1764.
After their reunion, mother Leininger took Regina to Stouchberg to visit with the Rev. Muhlenberg. He gave Regina a Bible because the family Bible was destroyed in the house fire when the Indians captured Regina and Barbara. Rev. Muhlenberg was amazed as Regina, who could not speak a word of her native German, opened the Bible and read the German passages.
Regina and her mother are buried at Christ Church in Stouchberg. Regina never married.
On October 11, 1958, a headstone was dedicated in Christ Church in honor of Regina. My mother and I looked through the Christ Church record books and cannot find a date of death for Regina nor her mother. Some reports say Regina lived a long life while others say both she and her mother died soon after Regina's release.
In Legend Regina Hartman
As a small child held captive
Identified by her mother's singing the hymn:
"Allein, Und Doch Nicht Ganz Allein"
Alone and yet not all alone
Am I in solitude though drear
For when no one seems to own
My Jesus will to me be near
I am with Him and He with me
I Therefore cannot be lonely be
I Therefore cannot be lonely be.
The picture of Regina's headstone supplied by Elaine C. Albert of Hamburg.
The Life of Regina, supplied by Tom Gillett of Rochester, N.Y.
The Christina Wampler information from Herb Bohler of New Jersey.
Many thanks to these people and all who have e-mailed with Regina information. And thanks to my Mother, Justine for all her help.
In 1803, Daniel's daughter Esther married Jacob Geehr. Susanna helped raised Esther's three children. Being without an education, Susanna stayed close at home and attached herself to the Geehr family.
Rumor had it that when Mr. Geehr's wife Esther became a semi-invalid, he turned his affections to Susanna. Susanna became pregnant, hiding it from the family members.
On February 14, 1809 at 4:30 am., Susanna gave birth to a son. Around daybreak on February 17th, Mr. Geehr discovered the baby's frozen body hidden in a outbuilding. Susanna admitted the baby was her's but insisted he was stillborn. Mr. Geerh placed the baby's body back where he found it and sent his tenant farmer to Reading to summon the Coroner.
Due to illness, Peter Nagle, Esq., a Reading Justice of the Peace came in the Coroner's place, accompanied by a young medical practitioner, Dr. John B. Otto. A surgical examination of the body was made. Dr. Otto's report said the baby's lower jaw had been broken, the tongue torn loose and thrust back, and strangulation produced by a wad of flax which had been forced into the infant's throat.
Upon being told the doctor's finding, Susanna cried then seemed willing to go to Reading for the trial. She ate supper, then dressed warmly for the journey. She was committed to the Reading prison to wait for her trial.
An indictment against Susanna Cox for willful murder was found by the grand jury. On April 7th, she was arraigned before the Court, the Honorable John Spayd presiding. Susanna pleaded not guilty.
The prosecution on the part of the State was conducted by the Deputy Attorney-General, Samuel D. Franks., Esq. The defense team was Marks John Biddle, Charles Evans and Frederick Smith, Esqs.
Susanna stuck to her story that her baby was born dead. The reason for the concealment of it's birth, she feared she would lose her place of employment.
Popular sympathy for Susanna was enlisted in an effort to have a commutation of sentence. The Governor of the State, Simon Snyder, was petitioned to spare her life. The hanging of a woman was then repugnant to the people of Pennsylvania although two woman had previously been executed in Berks County for murdering their children. Elizabeth Graul was convicted in November of 1758, and Catharine Krebs, convicted in November 1767 and hanged in Reading, Pa.
The Governor set Susanna Cox execution for Saturday, June 10th, between the hours of ten and two o'clock. She was to be hung in "Gallows Hill" in Reading at the foot of Mount Penn. Gallows Hill is now City Park.
During Susanna's stay at the city jail, she was treated with the upmost leniency, assisted the Sheriff's family and ate her meals as though she was their guest.
The day of Susanna's execution, the Rev. Philip Reinhold Pauli administered Holy Communion. She was given a white dress trimmed with wide black ribbons.The same dress she was buried in.
The tenth of June was clear and warm. The town was crowded with on-lookers. At a little after eleven o'clock, the procession started to the gallows. The Rev. Pauli said a prayer, a German hymn was sung.
"Ich armer mensch; ich armer sunder
Steh hier von dinem angesicht.
Ach Gott, ach Gott, verfahr gelinder,
Und geh nicht mit mir in's gericht.
Erbarme dich, erbarme dich,
Gott, mein Erbarmer, uber mich!"
I, wretched creature, sinner poor,
Stand here before they sight.
Oh God! show mercy in this hour,
Judge not with vengeful might.
Take pity Lord, thou pitting God,
Upon my desperate plight.
The wagon containing the coffin, stood under the gallows. Susanna stood on it, the mask placed over her face, the noose placed around her head.
After hanging seventeen minutes, Susanna was placed in her coffin and driven to her brother-in-law, Peter Katxenmoyer's farm and buried.
In May of 1905, 100 years after the hanging, Susanna's bones were dug up. To this day, no one knows what happened to them. The coroner's office said record keeping was hit and miss in those days and there is no record of what became of Susanna's bones.
Theodore C. Auman was intrigued with the possibilities of preserving the dead, other than placing them on a block of ice. He had found in an old German medical book a chemical formula for preserving meat. Until now, he had no means of experimenting. He seeked permission from state and local authorities to use the unclaimed body. In his first attempt, he used too much formula and the body became mummified.
When he was arrested Oct. 7, in West Reading, Pa, for burglarizing the Morris Brown Boardinghouse. He gave the name James Penn, admitting it wasn't his real name. To this day, no one knows where the name Stone (Man) Willie came from.
After his father's death, he and his mother moved to Reading around 1877 and lived at 845 Cherry Street.
1886-1895 they lived at 947 Court Street and 1896-1899 at 220 N. 2nd. Street.
He was known to own 25 suits and 20 overcoats, changing clothes at least 6 times a day.
Dressed in old clothes, Tommy would peddle wares in the countryside of Berks County, returning to Reading to dress as a Beau Brummell.
Several times Tommy campaigned for President of the United States and Governor of Pa.
Later on in life, Tommy took to living on the streets and sleeping in haystacks. He became eccentric as time passed.
In 1909, he stayed in houses being constructed in Wyomissing, Pa. He was taken in custody and sent to the county Alms House in Shillington, Pa. He spent several winters there and also the former Berks County Prison on Penn Street.
During one of his prison stays, Tommy took ill with heart disease and asthma. He died in the hospital on Dec. 18, 1921. He was 64.
300 people attended his funeral and burial took place at Charles Evans Cemetery.
No one knows why he was called Tommy Collins.
By Hanging on the Attic of Her Home on Sunday Forenoon.
Mrs. Francis and her daughter moved into the house last week and had not yet properly arranged all the furniture. Mrs. Francis, mother of the deceased, gave the EAGLE the following account of the sad affair.
"Alice said because the weather was so fine I should go to church. I said she should go too. She replied she would go see her Aunt, Mrs. Noll, on Mineral Spring Road, and insisted I should go to church. We both left the house together around 10 o'clock. Alice went up the back way and I went to Grace Lutheran Church. When I returned home I sat by the stove warming myself, and, looking into the kitchen, saw Alice's wrap on a chair. I also noticed the key in the lock and knew she had returned home. She had been acting strangely for some months and sometimes I was afraid to leave her alone. No one knows the trouble I had. I started to search for her and not finding her in any of the rooms on the 2nd. floor went up to the attic. I don't know what led me to the steps. I saw Alice hanging near a window. It was an awful shock to me. I called to my little grandson and he ran for Mr. McKinney on Mineral Spring Road, who quickly came down and took her body down. Alice had not been well for six month. Often I bathed her head with cold water. She worried a great deal after she had bought the house we just moved into. She feared she would not be able to pay it off and would then lose what she had paid on it. One of her friends told her that if she took sick and could not meet her payment she would lose all. After that she worried more than ever. She imagined she had great trouble. After deciding to buy the house, several months ago, she often took her friends to see it and took great pride in it."
From other sources it was learned that Miss Francis told her fears about her purchase to some of her church members and they assured her she would be well taken care of if anything happened, and that she should not worry at all about it.
When the suicide was discovered, Dr. I. Leo Mingle was summoned but found Miss Francis dead. Her body was still warm. She had used a piece of rope clothes line which she had doubled by passing twice through a hole in the wall above the attic window. The window was lowered from the top. Nearby was a chair which she had stood on to fasten the rope around her neck, and from which she had stepped into eternity.
Deceased was in her 37th year. She was an active member of Grace Lutheran Church and presented to the congregation the handsome alter talbe at a cost of $75, earned by extra work at sewing at night. She was regularly employed at dressmaking ad went out to work nearly every day. Her father was the publisher of the Spirit of Berks. She was his clerk and cashier and after his death retained the position in the Herald office for some time. Ever since her father shot himself, Miss Francis was greatly worried. There is much sympathy expressed for her troubled mother.
The only testimony heard was that of Wm. H. McKinney, who found and cut down the body, and Dr. I. Leo Mingle, who was summoned, but found life extinct. Verdict in accordance with the facts.
Miss Francis was married about 10 years ago, but secured a divorce shortly afterward. Her unfortunate marital affairs also preyed considerably on her mind.
Deceased did not visit her aunt, Mrs. Noll, as she said she would, and it is thought after parting from her mother she returned at once to the house and took her life. No note or other writing was found. The funeral will take place on Thursday afternoon. Mrs. Francis said that recently her daughter had spells lasting only for a short time, but on such occasions she was quite violent. Deceased was a daughter of Daniel S. Francis and was born in Reading. She will be buried at the Amityville Cemetery.
The mutliated body of Li Chang Wing, also known as Joe Lee was found at 8 AM in the back room on his bed in his laundery at 17 N.10th Street in Reading, Pa. It appeared he was murdered with a heavy knife.
After two hours of police investgating the crime, Chung Tao, also known as John Jung, a Chinese cook , was arrested. Mr. Tao was was held in the Berks jail. He denied the charges against him.
Mr. Tao was arrested in his room at a hotel at 7th & Franklin Streets in Reading, Pa. Officers found a large jack-knife, and blood stained clothes. The police believe the motive was robbery. A feud was know to exist in the Chinese community, envy of a more succuessful business than another.
Mr. Wing had lived in the city for five years and was considered a good neighbor and friend.
The body was found with the right leg drawn up close to his body and his right arm was drawn across his face. He was waring a suit of underclothes and dirty khaki trousers and was barefooted. There were at least twenty knife wounds covering his face, arms, chest, and back. His right arm had skin about three inches long and two inches wide that had been cut away and the muscle showing. A four inch gash was found over his right kidney.
Mr. Wing's white shirt hanging in a closet was covered with blood as was the floor. Blood was also found on a stairway leading to the first floor of the house. Blood was found on woodwork and a pool of blood was found at the top of the stairs leading to a cellar. Blood was also found on a rear door and fence. A gun was found, fully loaded under Mr. Wing's pillow with no shells discharged. On the top shelf of the closet a roll of bills, amounting to $165 and a gold watch was found. A certificate showing Mr. Wing had purchared $900 worth of stock in Met Ed. Electric Company was also found. The cash drawer in the laundry was emptied of all the money.
Back at Mr. Tao's room, police found his clothes bloodstained. They found $259 in cash, small change in the amount of $17.61, cerificates issued by the Shanghi and Hong Kong banks worth $2,200, all stained with blood. Mr. Tao was employed as a cook in a restaurant on Penn Street. Mr. Wing's flesh, was not found in Mr. Tao's room. The removal of flesh in the shape of a triangle is common with members of the Chinese Tong. Mr. Wing's brother was notified that his brother was dead about 10 hours before being discovered.
The funeral of Mr. Wing was the first of a Chinese resident and the first burial of a Chinese in a local cemetery. Several hundred residents of Reading viewed the body at Seidel's on North Fifth Street. Mr. Wing was a member of Judge George W. Wagner's Bible class in the First Reformed Sunday School. With the exception of a scar on his right cheek, the body did not appear to be was a victim of a murder. He was dressed in a dark suit with patent leather slippers. He was laid out in a oak casket with silver handles and a plate with "At Reat" inscribed. He was laid to rest in Aulenbach's cemetery.
Taken in part from the Reading Eagle Newspaper, October