Borough of Bechtelsville

18 Railroad St, PO Box 295, Bechtelsville, PA 19505 * Ph: 610-367-8100
Welcome to the official website of the Borough of Bechtelsville, Berks County, Pennsylvania.  We hope that you find the information on this website informative.
Please visit the site often to obtain current information. 

History of Bechtelsville

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The Bechtel Family, which came to this country from Weinheim, Germany in 1728, chose to settle in what would later become Bechtelsville. History shows that the house which Isaac Bechtel lived in, the son in the immigrant family, was built prior to the American Revolution in the 1770s. The village that would grow and become incorporated as Bechtelsville in September 1890 began with only a few homes and quite a few mills: a grist mill, saw mill, oil mill and a lead mill. 

The Bechtelsville Post Office was established in 1852, 31 years before Bally's. The Colebrookdale Railroad was extended three miles north of Boyertown to the tiny hamlet of Barto in 1869. This and other means of transportation to and from what would become Bechtelsville prompted new businesses and families to locate in the village during that time. A large iron furnace, which reportedly employed ''many workers", was built in the village in 1875. Smaller businesses were numerous in the late 1800s and early 1900s: harness shop, bakery, butcher, blacksmith, tinsmith, printer, hotel, general store, a creamery and other businesses. There were also enough children living in the Borough in the late 1880s to justify building a two-room school house in 1890.

While there were relatively many businesses in the early village of Bechtelsville up through the early to mid 19OOs, relatively few survived when Route 100 was rerouted to the east of the Borough and rail service ceased. Bechtelsville has gradually evolved into an attractive community of well-kept single family houses, a variety of community services and facilities and ..... like Bally ..... a strong sense of history.
Barn, Old Route 100, South of Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania, 2002 
Dating from 1879 Aaron (18??-1903) and Samuel S. (1850-1937) Bloch of Wheeling, West Virginia, began manufacturing West Virginia Mail Pouch Tobacco. This was chewing tobacco packaged in a paper pouch resembling a mail pouch, hence the name Mail Pouch Tobacco. The Bloch Brothers Tobacco Co. (see history as of 1954 at Bloch Bros' 75th Anniversary) was incorporated in 1890, and they began their marketing strategy of painting ads on the sides of rural barns as early as the 1920's. Barn owners were paid a nominal fee ($1 or $2 yearly) and by having their barns painted (and repainted periodically). Mail Pouch barns were still being painted as late as the 1990's.
Meanwhile, the rights to Mail Pouch Tobacco had been bought and sole several times. In 1992 the owner of that time, Swisher International of Jacksonville, Florida, suspended use of the barns for advertising when the last of the great barn painters, Harley E. Warrick, of Belmont, Ohio, decided to retire. (But Harley continued to paint the signs (for fun) even in retirement (see Chasing Mail Pouch Barns by Eddie Robberts) until his death in November, 2000.)
Iron-ore mining facility at Ogdensburg, New Jersey, about 1891
Edison became interested in techniques for extracting metals or metal ores (metal oxides) in 1879 when he was looking for a cheap sources of platinum to be used in his incandescent lamps. In 1880 he patented a method of using electromagnets to separate iron ore from crushed rock -- a method especially applicable to low-grade sources. (This was a specific method; the general technique had been known and used for years.) He began serious work in this area at plants in Humboldt, Michigan, and Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania, in 1886. Neither was successful. He established this very large plant, with giant rock crushers, in Ogdensberg, New Jersey, in 1889.
Left to right: A. Muller, William Kent, Edison, and A. Ruce.