Allentown Tradesmen

After the tornado of 1896, chairmaker Clayton may have used the services of  building mover Rogers. The following about James Clayton is from the Allentown Messenger dated June 8, 1916:


For forty-two years James H. Clayton, as one of the original firm of John A. Clayton & Son, has been engaged in the furniture business at the original stand on Pearl street. This is by far the longest period for any business yet established in Allentown where it is still conducted by one of its founders [and continued until his death in 1937].


Mr. Clayton is a native of Englishtown, where a few years of his early boyhood were spent. He afterwards removed with his parents to Allentown. At the Madison Hall public school here [at 15 Church St. and in existence from 1844 to 1863] young James made good use of his limited opportunities for acquiring an education. Later in life he assisted his father in the business of house painting and the manufacturing of chairs.


Chair making was at one time extensively carried on here, there having been several hands employed at one establishment. Our furniture dealer states that the best quality of rushes he used in the making of chair bottoms was obtained at Marcus Hook, along the banks of the lower Delaware river, but that of late years the supply from that quarter is about exhausted.


For a long time Mr. Clayton has been connected with the order of Odd Fellows here, he having served continuously as secretary of Allentown Lodge for thirty-four years. He has for several years been on the board of directors of the Farmers National Bank of Allentown. With his family he is connected by membership with the Presbyterian Church, of which he has for twenty years been one of the trustees, and is now also one of the ruling elders.


As showing the growth of Pearl street, it might be stated that when Mr. Clayton, Sr., built his house and shop there [at no.11], in 1867, he was the pioneer settler in that part of the town, as no dwelling had yet been erected on that street.


During the tornado that struck Allentown in 1896, Mr. Clayton met with much loss. The roof of the back part of his warerooms [at 9 Pearl St.] was lifted and carried far out in the street, and the building itself was shifted several feet from its foundation. Furniture was scattered for some distance, and several chairs could afterward be seen hanging high among the tree branches in front. Considerable damage was done to his barn, it having been much twisted and lifted off the foundation by this most destructive blow in the history of Allentown.


The following notice of the death of Benjamin F. Rogers appeared in the Allentown Messenger of May 4, 1916:


Benjamin F. Rogers, the well-known building mover of Allentown, died at Mercer Hospital, Trenton, on Tuesday morning May 2, 1916, about 9 o’clock, from injuries received while at work at Beverly, N. J., on Friday, April 28.


Mr. Rogers was engaged in a difficult and dangerous job of building moving at Beverly, on which one of his men, William Ashby [N. J’s. oldest Civil War veteran], had previously been hurt, while Kenneth Lamb and Ashby, both of Allentown, narrowly escaped serious injury along with their employer last Friday. As it was Mr. Rogers fell a distance of 12 feet, badly bruising one of his hips and no doubt injuring himself internally, being also caught by a large timber and having his right arm broken in three places below the elbow. He was at once taken to Mercer Hospital, Trenton.


It was first thought that not only his life but his arm would be saved, and he appeared quite comfortably and saw many of his friends on Saturday and Sunday. By Monday night, however, his arm was in a very bad condition and it was found necessary to operate, with small hope then of even saving his life. His arm was taken off at the shoulder, and he was conscious for a little while after the operation, but the end came about 9 o’clock.


Mr. Rogers was a son of then late Benjamin and Lavenia Rogers, and was born in Allentown on July 12, 1870. Starting in as a boy with his father and his uncle, E. B. Rogers, carpenters and building movers, he later succeeded to the extensive building moving business started by that firm. His operations took him largely to Princeton and Asbury Park, while he frequently engaged in large jobs in other States. The Pennsylvania Railroad Company often employed his force [perhaps righting trains after wrecks], while last fall he took a large job in Washington, D. C., which kept him busy there for several months.


On June 24, 1897, he married Elizabeth Tilton, of Allentown, by whom, with their two children, Edna and Florence, he is survived. His only brother, Harry M. Rogers, lives at Tenafly, this State.


In his early life he joined the Allentown Baptist Church, of which he has since been an active and consistent member, at one time holding the office of deacon. At the time of his death he was financial secretary. He was also a member of the American Mechanics and the local fire company.


Relatives and friends are invited to attend the funeral at the Allentown Baptist Church, on Friday, May 5, at 11 o’clock a. m. Interment in the Allentown Presbyterian Cemetery.


[The Roger’s houses include nos. 5, 7 and 13 on High St. and their horse-stable or barn is still located at no. 5. Interestingly, this house, where I presently reside, is described as the J. Clayton house and is most likely the family’s original homestead in Allentown.]