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Personal Historys

SEBASTIAN WIMMER
SEBASTIAN WIMMER
SEBASTIAN WIMMER, civil engineer, St. Mary's, was born in Thalmassing, near Ratisbon, Bavaria, Germany, January 5, 1831, and is a son of George and Theresa (Hahn) Wimmer, and a nephew of the late Arch-abbot Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B; He was reared in Munich, Germany, from 1833 to 1851, and was educated in the Polytechnic school at that place, from which he graduated in 1849. On June 2, 1851, he landed in New York, but located in Westmoreland county, Penn., for awhile, and finally secured, at Pittsburgh, Penn., a position with Hastings & Preisser, city engineers, from June, 1852, to November 15, 1852. He then went to New Orleans, remaining there six months, when he returned to Pennsylvania, and secured from Chief Engineer Milnor Roberts, in June, 1853, the appointment of assistant engineer in the building of the Allegheny Valley Railroad, having charge of the second division, from Tarentum to Kittanning. In October, 1856, Mr. Wimmer went to Minnesota, but came back and married Miss L.H. Blakely, at Pittsburgh, February 12, 1857; then returned and located in St. Paul, where, soon after (May, 1858), he was appointed assistant engineer of the Minneapolis & Cedar Valley Railroad, which position he held until August, 1859. He then returned to Pittsburgh, where he left his family, and again proceeded to New Orleans, with a view of locating there, but on account of sickness was compelled to relinquish that idea; came again north, and graduated soon after from the Iron City Commercial College and accepted the position of bookkeeper at Saint Vincent Abbey, Westmoreland county, Penn., during which time he was instrumental in having a post-office and telegraph office established there, and was appointed its first postmaster. During 1862 he was surveying on behalf of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company a line from Garland, on the P. & E.R.R., to Enterprise, Titusville and Oil City; was transferred in June, 1863, on behalf of the same company, to St. Mary's, Elk Co., Penn., to take charge of "Edward Miller and Milton Courtright's contract" to complete the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad between Whetham, sixteen miles west of Lock Haven, and Warren, Penn., a distance of 143 miles. After finishing this railroad, he set out, March 29, 1865, for Mexico, via Cuba, and there took charge of the mountain division of the Vera Cruz & Mexico City Railroad, remaining over two years, then went to London, England, to settle the affairs of the company. On his return to Pennsylvania, he took charge of the eastern forty-five miles of the Low Grade division of the Allegheny Valley Railroad. After completing that work in June, 1874, he became a candidate for the legislature from the Elk county district; was elected, and served two successive sessions. In 1877 Mr. Wimmer was appointed chief engineer of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad, after completing which, he was appointed chief engineer of the New York & Northern Railroad in 1879, acting in that capacity up to 1882; then revisited Mexico, and on, his return became chief engineer of the Erie & Wyoming Valley Railroad (Penn.). In 1888 he built the Yonkers Rapid Transit Railroad, from Van Cortlandt to Getty's Square, at Yonkers, N.Y., and made surveys for the New York & Northern Railroad at and near Croton Lake. Mr. Wimmer is a stockholder in the Clearfield Coal Company, and has extensive landed interests in Minnesota; is a member of the American Society of Civil, Engineers, New York City, and politically is a Democrat.

ERNEST J. WIMMER
ERNEST J. WIMMER
ERNEST J. WIMMER, attorney at law, St. Mary's, was born in Pittsburgh, Penn., September 15, 1859, and is a son of Sebastian and Lavinia H. (Blakely) Wimmer. In 1871 he went to St. Vincent's College and graduated from that institution in 1878. In New York City he was an employe of the Pennsylvania Railroad, in the office of James McCrea, in the capacity of shorthand writer, for seven months. In the office of Calvin Goddard, Thomas Edison's secretary, he filled the position of shorthand writer and telegraph operator at the same time for the N.Y. City & N.R.R. another year. He entered Columbia Law School, and graduated in New York City in 1881, and was admitted to the bar in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1882. Eight months, were then spent traveling in Europe. On his return he was' admitted to the bar of Elk county, and has, been in continuous practice since. His talents were soon recognized, and' he was elected district attorney in 1885. He convicted William C. Bush, in 1886, of murder in the first degree, but the sentence of the man was afterward commuted to imprisonment for life. In 1888 Mr. Wimmer was re-elected district attorney of Elk county. He has been a resident of St. Mary's since 1863. Mr. Wimmer had the honor last fall of having the largest majority given to any candidate, except one, running over 200 ahead of Cleveland. He is an accomplished newspaper man, and his reputation at the bar is of a high order. Mr. Wimmer was the publisher of the St. Mary's Herald for nearly two years, but in 1889 withdrew from the newspaper business, and has ever since devoted himself entirely to the duties of his profession.

JOSEPH F. WINDFELDER
JOSEPH F. WINDFELDER
JOSEPH F. WINDFELDER, grocer, saloon-keeper and manufacturer of pop, St. Mary's, was born, in that borough, August 13, 1852, a son of Joseph and Mary (Weis) Windfelder. His father, who was a native of Bavaria, Germany, came to this country and settled in 1846 in St. Mary's, where he commenced in the brewing business, erecting the first brewery in the town, now known as St. Mary's Brewery, which he operated up to 1874. He was also engaged in other lines of business, and served as treasurer of Elk county one term. His family consisted of twelve children, of whom six survive: Joseph F., Mary W., Josephine (Mrs. Frank Fey), Louis, Maggie and Isadore. The subject of this notice was reared and educated in St. Mary's, and began business for himself as proprietor of a restaurant and saloon (in which he is still engaged), embarking, in connection, in the grocery business in 1874, and in 1884 in the manufacture of pop and other soft drinks. Mr. Windfelder married, October 13, 1874, Kate, daughter of John Kaul, of St. Mary's, and by her has five children: Rosa and Mary (twins), Albert, Andrew and Irene. Mr. Windfelder is a member of the Catholic Church; in politics a Democrat, and was deputy treasurer of Elk county under his father's administration.

LEONARD WITTMANN
LEONARD WITTMANN
LEONARD WITTMANN, manufacturer of and dealer in carriages, St. Mary's, was born in Bavaria, Germany, December 4, 1841, and is a son of George and Barbara (Fisher) Wittmann, who came to this country and located in St. Mary's in 1845. The family soon after moved to a farm in Benzinger township, same county, which they cleared and improved, as well as part of another farm. The parents both died in St. Mary's; Their children were three in number, of whom the subject of this sketch is the only survivor. Mr. Wittmann was reared and educated in St. Mary's, and in 1858 he began the trade of a general blacksmith. After working in twenty-three different shops, during a period of seven years, he, in 1866, started a shop of his own in St. Mary's, which, with the exception of two years, he has conducted ever since; from 1873 to 1877 he was in the hardware business with George Weidenboerner. On June 27, 1865, Mr. Wittmann married Mary S., daughter of Charles and Mary (Herzog) Fischer, of St. Mary's, and by her has seven children living: Mary B., Josephine M., Edward G., Annie, Albert J., Louis B. and Henry J. Mr. Wittmann and family are members of the Catholic Church. Politically he, is a Democrat, and has held the offices of councilman six, and school director nine years in succession.

HENRY YAGER
HENRY YAGER
HENRY YAGER, member of the firm of Yager & Co., harness manufacturers, St. Mary's, was born in Roda, Sachsen-Altenburg, Germany, March 18, 1850, and is a son of Julius and Christiana (Roediger) Yager. He was reared in his native country, and served an apprenticeship of three years at the harness and upholstery trades, after which he worked nine years as a journeyman, and then for three years, conducted business on his own account. In 1881 he came to America, and located in St. Mary's, where he worked three years in the harness shop of Albert Weis; then embarked in business for himself in conjunction with Andrew Kaul, under the firm name of Yager & Co., and they are now doing a successful and continually increasing business. Mr. Yager was married, December 12, 1878, to Bertha Prueger, a native of Dorna, near Boda, Sachsen-Altenburg, Germany. This lady died September 10, 1884, the mother of three children: Anna, Paul and Emelia, the last of whom died when six weeks old. April 5, 1885, Mr. Yager took for his second wife Katharina Leutung, also a native .of Germany, and to this union one son, Frederick, was born July 18, 1886. Mr. Yager is a member of the Lutheran Church, and in politics is a Democrat.

NILCO LAMP CO
NILCO LAMP CO
The NILCO Lamp Works facilities in St. Marys, Pennsylvania, circa 1928.
The original building to the left was built in about 1915,
while the expansion was added in 1923.
The NILCO Lamp Works Company was a relatively small player in the Christmas lighting industry, but later became a huge provider of fluorescent lamps under the Sylvania name...
In 1901, an entrepreneur by the name of Frank A. Poor purchased one-half interest in a small company then in the business of “refilling” or relighting burnt out light bulbs. At the time, it was a lucrative business, for a “refilled” lamp lasted as long as did the originals, and was much less expensive. The company that Poor purchased was called the Merritt Manufacturing Company, which was located in Middleton, Massachusetts. It was not long before Poor bought the remaining half of the company, and moved it to Danvers, Massachusetts. At that same time, he renamed his company The Bay State Lamp Company.
His business prospered, and by 1909, Poor decided to start another company to sell new lamps made by his Bay State Company. He named the new entity The Hygrade Lamp Company. By 1911, this new company was producing an astounding 3000 lamps a day.
At about same time that Frank Poor was growing his company, a competitor was also developing a large lamps works factory in Pennsylvania. In 1905, the Novelty Incandescent Lamp Company had been organized in St. Mary’s and Emporium, and was busily engaged in making miniature specialty and decorative lamps for various markets. (At this time, General Electric, the largest lamp manufacturer in the world, had little interest in miniature lamps, considering them merely a passing innovation). The Novelty Incandescent Lamp company, or NILCO, had become a very successful business, concentrating on specialty lamps for both the medical and budding automotive industries. The company became so successful, in fact, that it garnered the attention of General Motors, who bought controlling interest in 1910. General Motors appointed Bernard G. Erskine to run their newly acquired light bulb factory.
Meanwhile, back in Massachusetts, Frank Poor's Hygrade company had become so successful in making new lamps, that it discontinued refilling lamps in 1916. The growing company relocated to new and larger factories in Salem, Massachusetts. These new facilities were able to produce almost 12,000 lamps every twenty fout hours.
In 1922, Erskine and two partners bought the Novelty Incandescent Lamp Company from General Motors and officially formed NILCO Lamp Works. Their lamp production was first totally in St. Marys, then, by 1924, expanded into Emporium as well. In 1924, NILCO formed their Sylvania Products Company in order to manufacture radio tubes. Shortly after the formation of Sylvania, NILCO branched out into the manufacture of colored specialty lamps, including Christmas lights.
In 1931, Erskine's NILCO and Sylvania companies and Frank Poor's Hygrade Lamp Company merged into one company, now known as the Hygrade Sylvania Corporation. Then, in 1939, Hygrade Sylvania started preliminary research on a new project involving fluorescent technology, and later that year, introduced the first linear, or tubular, fluorescent lamp ever made. It was offered for sale under the Sylvania name. Quite an innovation, the new lamp was prominently featured at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. But while the new lights were quite the attention-getters, there were no commercially available fixtures available for them. 1940 saw the opening of the first-ever fluorescent fixture manufacturing plant. Sylvania located the plant in Ipswich, Massachusetts. In 1941, Sylvania followed their triumph by opening their new fluorescent lamp factory, the world’s first.
American involvement in World War II prevented the manufacture of consumer-oriented products for several years, but the plants were kept quite busy in filling multiple Government contracts for bulbs and fixtures for use in the Armed Forces. In December, 1945, just a few months after the War had ended, Sylvania was the first major company to offer Christmas lights again. This time, Sylvania marketed their new innovation: fluorescent Christmas lights.
In 1959, Sylvania was acquired by General Telephone, and in 1971, the name was changed to GTE Sylvania, Incorporated. In 1993, OSRAM GmbH purchased GTE Sylvania’s North American operations and formed OSRAM SYLVANIA, which is in business to this day.(from oldchristmaslights.com)






MATTHIAS BENZINGER
MATTHIAS BENZINGER
BORN ON FEB 12 1800 AT FORCHEIM , BADEN, SON OF GEORGE ANTON AND MARIA ANNA (MILLER) BENZINGER. HE EMIGRATED TO THE US IN 1817 IN THE CHARGE OF CHRISTIAN WEIS, HIS WIFE AND THEIR CHILDREN. CHRISTIAN WEIS SECURED A JOB WITHA MR. CREY A CONTARCTOR IN BALTIMORE. HE LATER MARRIED CREY'S DAUGHTER MARY CATHERINE ON OCT 15TH 1822. THEY HAD 7 CHILDREN , AND AMRY CATHERINE DIED 1837-1838. NOV. 4, 1839 HE MARRIED ELIZABETH R. COOK, SHE WAS 18 AND HE WAS 39. THEY HAD 12 CHILDREN BUT ONLY SIX SURVIVED HIM.(TAKEN FROM THE GRIST OLD MILLS ARTICLES)



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