Clicking on the map image above of the Wistarburgh factory will open up a new internet browser window and take you to a Google Earth aerial view link of the factory site in Alloway New Jersey. You can return to this site by simply closing the Google map window.
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The United Glass Company located at Wistarburgh. This was Americas first successful glass factory and the first cooperative manufacturing
business venture in the Colonies in the year 1739.
Tucked away on a top of a hill on the Commissioners pike in Salem County near the center of the small town of Alloway New Jersey is the working farm site which once housed Americas oldest successful glass factory.Here in 1739 Caspar Wistar founded the United Glass Company. He first named the hamlet Glass house and then through the success of the factory the site and town became known as Wistarburgh. The United Glass Company was the first manufacturing business of any kind on a large scale that was set up similar to modern day corporations such as General Motors.
Caspar was a brass button manufacturer in Philadelphia in the early 1730s along with being a very successful land owner in the State of Pennsylvania. I will begin with a litlle history about the Glass works Caspar had founded. The forming of the joint venture between Caspar Wistar the German Immigrant living in Philadelphia and 4 glass workers he contacted back in his home country of Germany in the Palatinate region of that country was the first of its kind here in the early colonies.The four glassmakers arrived in Philadelphia in the fall of 1738. The glass makers names were Johann Wilhelm Wentzel,Caspar Halter, Johann Martin Halter, and Simeon Griessmeyer.Wistar set up the first of its kind on the shores of the British colony a glass works which was owned as a joint venture in its inception between 5 investors .
The company as a whole was simply called the United Glass Company but in reality it was three separate companies within a company sort of like General Motors. Caspar Wistar was the principal owner in all three companies holding a 2/3rds majority ownership as the major investor in each of them.The four glass makers were entitled to 1/3rd of ownership and profit from their respective companies. The first Company company was between Caspar Wistar the investor and Johann William Wentzel the glass Artisan. The second company was owned by Caspar Wistar the investor and Caspar Halter the Artisan. The third company was a little different as once again Caspar is the investor but this time two men Johann Martin Halter and Simeon Griesmeyer share the roles as Artisan's. In all three companies Caspar Wistar and the Artisans shared Expenses,Assets and profits. These arrangements survived until Wistar's death in 1752 of Dropsy.
One of the most important parts of my collection of Wistarburgh related material is the financial ledger Catherine Wistar kept after her fathers death. The Glass works are simply called the Glass House when mentioned in the pages of this journal . When Wistarburgh attained its name is still a mystery to me as the people responsible for the founding and the maintaining of the glass works called it simply Glass House. Maybe the Residents/workers who lived there named it after Caspar.
Below is page 1 of the Ledger Catherine Wistar (Caspars Daughter) kept after his death. It reads........
The following sums was Received by Catherine Wistar from her fathers estate & is also included in Remaining Bonds of Caspar Wistars's estate
An Important name appears at the bottom of the ledger page above,below is the same page with a zoomed in area of the signature......
This is a 1738 land Vellum in my personal collection which is in remarkable condition for an item 275 years old. This land transaction between Caspar Wistar and Valentine Felty Herrgeroder was for 249 acres in Berks County in Pennsylvania. It was right after this large land transaction that Caspar began the construction of his Glass factory in Salem County New Jersey.
Above, Christian Zimmerman,William Parsons and David Deshlers signature's as witnesses to the transaction.
Before he established a Glass Factory in New Jersey Caspar Wistar was a Brass Button Maker as listed below on the Vellum
The signatures of Caspar Wistar and his wife Catherine Jansen Wistar.
Caspar to Valentine Hergellrude 249 acres.
Below is the signature of Sheriff John Wright.
Above,the signature of Edward Shippen,founder of Princeton University, founder of the university of Penn and Judge and Records recorder of Lancaster County Pennsylvania.
It was land deals such as this one that allowed Caspar to attain enough financial capitol to begin the construction of the glass factory at Alloway. Caspar was the largest land holder in the state of Pennsylvania next to the Penn family. His land ventures in what are now the county's of Berks , Lancaster and York in Pennsylvania are what brought over the mass amount of German refugees from the Palatinate region in Northern Germany. When the glass factory property was completely purchased Caspar was now the largest single tract land holder in the colony of Western Jersey.
"The Red Rose Rent"
Caspar Wistar was the first American immigrant to establish the “red rose rent” that Baron Von Stiegel followed over 30 years later. Since 1892, Manheim Pennsylvania has enjoyed a quaint ceremony, the annual “Feast of the Roses,” on the first Sunday in June. Each year, a descendant of Henry William “Baron von” Stiegel is to be honored, and receives a single red rose. The red rose was stipulated in the original deed to the land granted to what is now the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church located in Manheim.
The Red Rose Rent, was a Feudal Custom which was practiced at Germantown in Pennsylvania and had originated in The German state of Palitinate. Early in the 18th century the first Red Rose rent was held by by one Caspar Wistar.The rose was actually the rental fee set by the proprietor of the land. Feudal English practice of setting quit-rents was commonly used throughout the lower counties of Pennsylvania. The payment of a quit-rent freed the tenant from all obligations save for realty to the proprietor of the land, usually the Crown or his assigns such as, in Pennsylvania, William Penn and, thereafter, such parties to whom the rights to the acreage had transferred.
In Manheim, Pennsylvania deep in the heart of the German settlements Baron von Stiegel who was not a true Baron, but amassed a fortune in colonial Pennsylvania by operating an iron furnace in the late 1750s and, later, one of the most important early American glassworks in 1765, the American Flint Glass Manufactory was originally and quite incorrectly thought by historians to have founded the red roses quit rent. Baron Von Stiegel, however, was not the first person to use the red rose rent it was first implemented by a fellow German named Caspar Wistar.
Caspar Wistar is best remembered for the glass factory but, outside of William Penn, who was the largest private owner of acreage in the world, Caspar Wistar became the largest landowner in the region. Wistar had become one of America’s first real estate tycoons, buying large tracts from the Penns and others, and then subletting them into smaller tracts, and selling them to German immigrants who were settling into the vicinity of Berks ,Bucks,Lancaster and York County's.
Over a generation prior, Caspar Wistar, Wilhelm Henry Stiegel’s fellow German emigrant, began the industrial modes of his entrepreneurship with the purchase of the Abbington Iron furnace in New Castle Delaware. From there while on a fox hunting expedition to Southern New Jersey in 1737 he stumbled upon enormous amounts of high grade silica on the surface of the ground near Alloway Salem County New Jersey. Being a successful merchant in Philadelphia and a large land owner second only to the Penn family in Pennsylvania diversifying into glassmaking was an easy task for Caspar as in his youth in the Palitinate region of Germany as the son of a Forester he saw first hand the mystery of glass making at numerous Wald glass factories. The Wistarburgh glass operations predated Stiegel’s American Flint Glass by 30 years.
Sound business decisions made Caspar Wistar a rather wealthy man, which certainly made it easier to be as charitable as he was. In Germany, the Wistars spelled Wusters family had been most recently tied to both a Lutheran Church in Neckargemund, and a Reformed Sister of the Roses of Sharon
When John Wister,notice the I instead of an A Caspar’s brother, arrived in Pennsylvania in 1727, he was, at least briefly, associated with the Moravians and Pietists in Germantown. John Wister married one of the sisters of the Roses of Sharon at Ephrata Cloister, Anna Thoman, known at the commune as Sister Anastasia. Caspar Wistar, however, was more pragmatic than his brother John when it came to religion and marriage. As Rosalind Beiler notes in her novel about Caspar Wistar,“just as his father and grandfather used their confessional identities to secure their government positions and enhance their social standings, so Wistar realized the benefits of religious membership for establishing his reputation in Pennsylvania. As early as 1721, he indicated his Quaker sympathies. By the year 1726, Wistar had become a member of the Philadelphia Friends Society and thereby gained entrance into the dominant network of merchants and political leaders in the province. Caspar also married a Quaker, Catherine Jansen which furthered his cause into society.
Although he had “indicated his Quaker sympathies” in writing, having signed a declaration of allegiance to the King, rather than swearing an oath, which was, as Beiler points out, anathema to Quakers, Caspar Wistar’s status as a “card carrying” Quaker did not totally overcome his sympathies for the other Protestant sects with which he’d become familiar in Germany, and which dominated the Germantown area.
As proof, Caspar not only sold, but also granted acreage to those who were not Quakers, or who could otherwise not afford to purchase real estate . One such grant was made to the Reformed congregation in Tulpehocken. The Tulpehocken church received 100 acres from Wistar in 1738, upon which they built a church, cemetery, and a schoolhouse. Wistar carved the church parcel out of his total Tulpehocken Valley holdings, sales of which were enormously profitable. The transaction specified a quit-rent the church was required to pay annually: one red rose. Other Berks County families received similar deals from Wistar. Shortly after the original grant, Caspar ceased to insist on even the token tribute of thanks for his generosity.In 1910, the New York Times quoted a Berks County historian who claimed that “at least 20,000” acres in the vicinity of Reading and Germantown were deeded on similar terms. Only two men were cited as responsible for the deeds: the British merchant John Page, and Caspar Wistar.
The Lutheran Church in Manheim, whose grounds were deeded by Baron von Stiegel, may receive more press coverage today for its annual Feast of Roses, but Caspar Wistar’s donation to the Reformed Church and many poor German peasants set the American precedent for Stiegel to follow.Red Rose Rents are still paid to this day annually to the descendent’s of the Wistars. The roses are considered priceless heirlooms. The most lavish of the rose rent ceremonies involving the Wistar family was in 1902, when 30 Philadelphia Wistars gathered to receive their due: 157 red roses, representing rent in arrears. Shortly after the original grant, Caspar ceased to insist on even the token tribute of thanks for his generosity. Caspar’s grant to Tuplehocken was notarized by Conrad Weiser, a Justice of the Peace who, even while busy negotiating on behalf of William Penn or closing agreements with the Native Americans, was a resident of Ephrata Cloister, toward which we’ll look next.
I acquired in 2013 this Mallet type porter bottle found near a creek 3 miles from Wistarburgh. The bottle was long buried which gives it its weathered look which I feel adds appeal to the bottle.The color is a dark yellow green in which pieces of this same exact colored glass are found still to this day at the Wistarburgh factory site.The type of lip on this bottle has also been found on other shards of glass recovered from the site by amateur and professional archaeologists.
Click on the pictures to enlarge them
Caspar Wistars Death notice Aug.27th 1752
The Pennsylvania Gazette Newspaper.
David Deshler Caspar Wistars good friend
Caspar Wistars relative,friend ,and business associate David Deshler whose name appears in the above notice was a very wealthy and influential citizen and merchant in Colonial Philadelphia. He bought a 2-acre lot from George and Anna Bringhurst in 1751-52, and constructed a four-room summer cottage. Twenty years just after the war with England he built a 3-story, 9-room addition to the front, creating one of the most elegant homes in all of the Colonies.Deshler would live until the year 1792. Here is Davids very important home in the Germantown section of Philadelphia . Caspar Wistar also lived in Germantown and built a mansion of his own. He was a close neighbor to David Deshler.
David Deshler was born in Heidelberg, Germany, about 1711, and was an only son. He came to America when a young man circa 1730, having been sent for by his mother's brother, John Wister, who had a store on Market Street, Philadelphia, No. 97. Here David bought two lots and built a good house, to which he took his bride, Mary LeFevre, where his children were born, and where his youngest daughter was married to Robert Roberts in 1774. In the Market Street house one upstairs room was 22 feet square. There was a front and back staircase for escape in case of fire. In the garden there was a fine old grapevine which bore excellent grapes, brought down by a twist of a stick with a hook on one end. A lemon tree was also remembered in the garden. David Deshler was a hardware merchant, a private banker and importer of East Indian goods. In the Gentlemen's Magazine for 1775 is a curious old advertisement of his wares, and of goods he had recently received from the East Indies.
In 1765 David Deshler was one of a Committee appointed by the shop-keepers of Philadelphia to draw up an agreement by which they bound themselves not to buy British Goods until the Stamp Act was repealed. The Committee consisted of John Ord, Francis Wade, Joseph Dean, and David Deshler. The original document is in the Museum of Independence Hall, Philadelphia. A full account of this is given in THE HISTORY OF INDEPENDENCE HALL, page 54, with a copy of the original documents.
"As honest as David Deshler" was remembered as a saying, and he must have been wealthy. In 1772-73 he built a country home in Germantown for a summer residence, sending out masons and carpenters from Philadelphia. He superintended the work himself, so that it was well and thoroughly built. In 1993 it is still standing. After his death in 1792 this house became the summer residence of George Washington during his Presidency when Philadelphia was the capital of the country.
There his widow's daughter, Catherine Roberts, and her children spent every summer with him very happily. His youngest granddaughter Ester M. Roberts remembered him well, until a few years before her death in 1876. She remembered sitting upon his knee, receiving gentle reproofs for any neglect of good behavior at meals, etc. She also remembered how he used to sit in his high backed chair with his Bible or Penn's Works on a stand by his side, and "read aloud to them when they were quiet." He was a gentleman of the old school, good, generous and polite. He always wore knee-breeches. His usual dress was a suit of "olive silk velvet" with silk stockings and bright silver buckles on his shoes. He also wore a cocked hat and carried a cane with an ivory top and a silver band with his name engraved on it. He and his wife became Quakers after his marriage. The dates of their burials were taken from the records of their meeting. Edmund H. McCullough, a descendent, has a copy of his will which gives the location of his place "Fairfield."
March 20, 1739, David Deshler married Mary LeFevre, a daughter of Isaac and Catherine LeFevre of Pequea, at or near the present site of Paradise, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. They were married in a civil ceremony by His Majesty's Justice of the Peace, which probably meant there was no suitable minister available to them in the country. (Another civil ceremy in 1739 was also conducted in Paradise for Daniel Ferree, Jr. and Mary Carpenter.) Her parents were both born in France, belonged to Huguenot families who had suffered religious persecutions which followed the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, and finally found refuge in Pennsylvania. Her maiden name was Fiere (Ferree.) A Canby descendent reportedly had a relic of Isaac LeFevre, a tiny hymn book, which with a Bible in possession of another branch of the family, was buried after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. It was buried and dug up by Isaac when he escaped to Germany. It has no cover, and the pages are water stained. Alfred Harcourt, the publisher, is descended from this LeFevre famiy. Very interesting accounts of the Ferree family can be found in Watson's Annals Of Philadelphia, volume 2, page 112, and in a History Of Lancaster County published circa 1843, chapter 2, pages 90-97.
Mary LeFevre was born August 24,1715 in Lancaster County, and ws therefore four years younger than her husband. Their first meeting was quite romantic. David Deshler took a journey in and around Lancaster to collect monies owed to his uncle, John Wister (Caspars Brother). He was overtaken by a violent storm near nightfall. He asked for and received shelter in the home of Isaac LeFevre. Here he saw a lovely girl spinning by the fireside. He "looked and loved," and soon found more occasions to travel again that way. He won her heart and hand and her parents' consent to their marriage after which he carried her away to his house on Market Street in Philadelphia. Mary (LeFevre) Deshler wore plain caps after they become Friends.
She was very good and kind to the sick and poor, and from her French parentage was well versed in making many kinds of nice broths for the sick. She paid a poor woman, a butcher's wife, five pounds for a receipt for making an excellent salve, still in use and called DESHLER'S SALVE, though at first called Butcher's Salve. She died February 25, 1774, aged 59 years, of scarlet fever caught from caring for one of her grandchildren who had been taken to her house to escape the disease but was seized with it there and nursed by her. David and Mary Deshler had six children of whom three died young, Isaac, Daniel, and Salome. Three lived to be married, Mary who married a Lewis, Ester who married John Morton, and Catherine who married Robert Roberts. These photos are from the Library of Congress and there is no restriction of copyright on any of them.
David Deshlers Mansion also known as the Issac Franks House and the Pennsylvania White House When Washington was forced to flee Philadelphia during the British Occupation.
The inside of David Deshler's mansion
Issac Franks Revolutionary war hero a Jewish Merchant and Owner of a very successful investment firm in Philadelphia from the year 1790 to 1820.
Issac was an Officer in the American Revolutionary army and fought along side of George Washington. He was born in New York City May 27, 1759. He died in Philadelphia on March 4, 1822. At the beginning of the Revolutionary war in June,of 1776, Issac was only seventeen years of age. He enlisted in Colonel Lesher's regiment, The New York Volunteers, and served with them in the battle of Long Island. In the same year on September 15th he was taken prisoner at the capture of New York by Great Briton. Somehow Issac managed to escape after three months' of being a prisoner. He made his way back to Pennsylvania and Joined Washington later at Valley Forge.
In 1777 he was appointed to the quartermaster's department, and in Jan of 1778, he was made forage-master at West Point until Feb. 22, 1781, when he was appointed by Congress as an ensign in the Seventh Massachusetts Regiment. He continued in that capacity until July, 1782, when he resigned on account of ill health. In 1789 Franks was appointed a notary and tabellion public of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In the year 1794 Governor Mifflin commissioned him lieutenant colonel of the Second Regiment of Philadelphia county.
It was during this time that Issac enjoyed great financial sucess as an investmant broker. It was in his house (at Germantown), a suburb of Philadelphia, that President Washington resided during the prevalence of yellow fever in the city in 1793. Issac was appointed in 1795 as a justice of the peace for town of Germantown and neighboring Roxborough. On Feb. 18, 1819, he was made prothonotary of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Colonel Issac Franks' portrait was painted by the famous Colonial artis Gilbert Stewart, and is now part of the Gibson Collection in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts museum in Philadelphia.
The following wine bottle in my collection which was found in New Orleans appears to be more in line with manufacture in the United States then England or Holland Sealed bottles of the same 1785 to 1800 time period. The bottle is dark amber olive in color has a large sand pontil with a deep kick up. The shape of the shoulders resembles a more German look than British or Dutch. The letters I L F are sealed midway on the main body of the bottle. Someone as affluent as Issac Levy Franks would have had his own personal wine bottles as gentleman of his day would have in Colonial times .
Nearby to Philadelphia in Southern New Jersey Wistarburgh had closed by 1780. In Pennsylvania William Henry Stiegels glass factory had gone out of buisness in 1773 and so had the Bucks county glass works of Hilltown. In Philadelphia the old Kensington Glass Works were idle by 1781. This left one place for manufacture for this bottle, and that was The New Jersey Glass Manufactory of Heston and Carpenter (which was located in present day Glassboro New Jersey) who had purchased the works from Solomon Stenger (Stanger) in 1784. The Stengers had worked for Richard Wistar at Wistarburgh but were forced to find new employment when those works finally closed in 1782. This bottle I believe was made in the 1788 to 1795 time period.
Plain Serif Letters on the bottle point towards American Manufacture.
Blue Flux Contamination (Caused by a fire in the kiln not hot enough) for dark glass can be seen in the perimeter and the pontil mark.