Making

Barto Stone Quarry

Picture
A stone quarry (pictured at left) was located along Old Route 100, between the one room schoolhouse and Forgedale Road. It was owned and operated by R. Etta Barr of Allentown. Mrs. Barr also owned the three houses located nearby.

Stone was blasted in the quarry, loaded into small cars and pulled along the tracks to the crusher located at the top of the hill.

From the crusher, the finished product was loaded into railroad cars on the private railroad siding of the Reading Company. When the cars were filled, the engine backed from the Barto station up to the private track and took the load of stone on its way.

The quarry contained both hard blue rock and softer brown rock. The large rocks were split into sizes to be loaded into the cars for the crusher. This work was all done by hand.

Mr. William Bauer of Schultzville was one of the employees at the quarry. Mr. Bauer always alerted the residents of the houses nearby when blasting was to occur.

Betty Reed Fronheiser recalls, "I remember holding our ears shut when Mr. Bauer informed us of a blast to take place! We lived in the house immediately in front of the quarry."

After the quarry ceased operation, the private siding railroad tracks were removed. The quarry closed about 1930.

When the quarry ceased operation, Mrs. Elva Reed purchased the house which she had rented from Mrs. Bauer. The quarry and remaining land were bought by Mr. Ivan J. Snyder Sr.

Another quarry near Clayton was operated by the Henry family on what is now the Shuhler farm.

A major quarry on Gabel's Hill still produces yellow gravel within the Township. This is operated by the Martin family whose larger, extensive quarry is south of Bechtelsville in Colebrookdale Township.


Barto

Barto Creamery

Harbinson's Dairy at Front and Diamond Streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was the owner of the Barto milk station. Known to the farmers and those nearby as the Barto Creamery (illustrated at right), it was managed by Robert J. Kemmerer from 1912 to sometime in 1929. At that time it was closed by Harbinson and sold to Mr. Kemmerer who operated it as a milk station. Residents called it "the creamery" but butter and cheese were not made there. Rather, milk was collected at this location. Harbinson's would give the order needed for shipment to Philadelphia by telephone to Mr. Kemmerer, sometimes daily.

About 1933 Mr. Kemmerer began to use part of the building for birch oil distilling.

Birch

Delivering

The order was given prior to the day milk was delivered by the farmers. This order would convey the amount of cream and whole milk to send.

Due to the amount of cream needed, there was sometimes a surplus in skim milk. Then curd was made in a large vat, placed on wire netting and put in a steam dryer until hard and dry. It was then sold by Harbinson's to make buttons for clothes.

The day the farmers brought their milk to the station the order was filled and then stored in large milk cans in a refrigerated room made cold by an ice machine. Farmers like those shown at left delivered their milk to the creamery by wagon. The order was shipped out the following morning at 5:00 a.m. in a refrigerated rail car to Harbinson's in Philadelphia.


General Stores

Barto
General stores made life in rural communities possible. With travel limited to short distances the nearby store was more than a convenience. It was a necessity.

The general store supplied the essentials long before Mr. Montgomery or Mr. Roebuck launched their mail order businesses. The local store had to supply dry goods as well as food stuffs, shoes as well as tools. It took local produce and eggs in trade, and served as the personal communications center as well as the place to pick up the mail.

Each crossroad settlement seemed to have a store. Harold Fluck's was at Barto (shown at right), the Bechtel's had the store in Churchville, Schultz's had the one at Schultzville, and the Landis' operated the store near the county line on the Niantic road.

Jacob Reiff had owned the store in Bechtelsville before David Latshaw bought it. Latshaw operated it, and its post office, for many years. Fred and Sadie Bittenbender purchased the Latshaw store in 1947. In 1979 it was transferred to the second generation as daughter Kathryn and her husband Robert Isett took ownership.


Longacre's Dairy

Seventy years ago, John S. Longacre rose before the sun, and milked his herd of dairy cattle at his farm along the Schultzville Road. He then began his daily milk deliveries to neighboring homes in the Bally and Barto communities. Refrigerators did not replace cold cellars until the late 1920's making it essential to have milk delivered two or three times daily.

Traveling by horse-drawn wagon, John sold 100 to 200 quarts of raw milk daily, dipped directly from his large metal milk can.

John's son, Daniel E. Longacre, followed in his father's footsteps and is now President of Longacre's Modern Dairy, Inc., one of the few remaining dairies in this area. Today it is the largest industry in Washington Township, employing more than fifty people.

The business has seen immense changes since John's humble beginnings. Great changes have been made in the processing and packaging of both milk products and ice cream. These changes began as early as 1928 when the Department of Health ruled that only bottled milk could be sold. John made that change to bottled milk, and was joined by his son Daniel in 1936 in this endeavor. In 1940 John sold the milk business to his son.

Longacre's

After operating the business from his father's farm for two years, Daniel built a small processing plant on the north edge of the farm (illustrated at left). Here he could modernize with new equipment for pasteurizing and homogenizing milk. This small building is now part of a much larger facility expanded several times along Route 100.

Milk and ice cream are still the Dairy's leading products. Rapidly changing technology and health laws paved the way for automated modifications which improves the products and the service to clientele.

Growth and innovation have been steady since the days of John S. Longacre's home route deliveries in the early years. However, one factor has remained constant: A tradition of family service. The business today remains a Longacre family enterprise. Along with Daniel and his wife, Kathryn, four children, Daniel, Newton, Timothy, and Kathryn have united to operate the Washington Township dairy founded by their grandfather in a by-gone era.


Barto Post Office

The Barto post office was established March 16,1882. It originally was housed in the general store with Benjamin F. Sell in charge.

The office was moved to the frame building near the hotel in 1884 when Jacob A. Smith took over. William Schall assumed the position in April 1888. On December 21,1888 Benjamin Sell resumed his duties as postmaster and transferred operations back to the general store he had just purchased at public sale. It was during this time that the postal designation was officially changed to "Barto" from "Barto's".

Barto

When Mr. Sell retired in 1908, Horace F. Tyson became postmaster and again moved the office back to the coal and lumber yard. This longtime home of the post office is illustrated in the photo at right. The lobby of the post office was also the office of the coal yard.

In 1918, Elva G. Reed, began as a clerk in the post office for Mr. Tyson and in 1920 was appointed postmaster of Barto, a post she held continuously until June 1962, a period of 44 years.

Elva worked six days a week, from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The first mail was received at 6:30 a.m. by train. When the train returned to Pottstown at 7:30 a.m. the mail bags were picked up from a wooden platform erected near the tracks . Another train brought mail around noon and again picked up mail about 1 p.m. The last mail arrived in late afternoon, about 5 p.m, and the train picked up the outgoing mail at 6 p.m.

There were two Star Routes, one to Niantic Post Office driven by Harry Gehris, and one to Bally Post Office, with the Rev. Elias Kulp as driver. These men also served patrons living along their routes. Many times Jacob Kulp would drive the route for his father.

"I can remember," recalls Betty Fronheiser, Elva Reed's daughter, "as a little girl, sitting on the wooden platform with the mail bags, waiting for the train to arrive."

"Mr. Francis Walters delivered mail to the rural routes via horse and buggy. On cold winter mornings he would bring several bricks into the post office and mother would heat them on the coal stove. He then wrapped them in burlap bags and placed them at his feet to keep warm.

"The rural mail carriers would return to the post office by noontime with lots of money orders, sometimes as many as 40 or 50. Mother had to write these out and mail them. They usually went out the same day.

"I can also remember boxes of baby chicks arriving. Mother called the patrons to tell them their chicks had arrived. She waited for them to pick up the chicks and sometimes it was 7 p.m. until they could get to the post office."

At that time, postmasters were paid quarterly. Their pay was determined by the amount of stamps they sold and canceled. They also had to pay the rent and buy supplies, including call boxes at the office.

Mail

Mr. Joseph B. Walters succeeded his father as the mail carrier for the rural routes. His father, Mr. Francis W. Walters, a carrier from 1905 to 1930, is pictured with the buggy he used to deliver mail at left. Later Mr. Howard Fluck was added as carrier for Rural Route #1, with Joe taking #2.

After Mr. Tyson, the coal and feed business was owned by Newton E. Treichler, followed by Levi Zweizig and Raymond Zweizig. During these latter years a small cement block building was erected across the street from the original general store to accommodate the Barto Post Office.

Anne Wagonhurst purchased the coal and feed business in 1946 which was later sold to Geho & Son. This business was discontinued in 1953.

Ernest A. Frantz and then William C. Lutz followed Mrs. Reed as postmaster. Loretta Fronheiser is the current postmaster. The office is located on the first floor of the Barto Fire Company, along Old Route 100. Patrons are served by three rural routes.


Excerpted from "CONTINUING THE VISION -- PRESERVING THE VALUES", the history of Washington Township prepared to commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the Township's establishment. Copyright 1990, Washington Township Historical Committee.


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