Dr. George Holcombe, Congressman

Charles H. Fidlerís Some Interesting Local History, Allentown Messenger April 7, 1924:


An interesting old-time dwelling in Allentown, and one that has figured considerably in the townís history, is the one owned by Mrs. E. P. Ford, on [33 S] Main street.


The southerly half of this dwelling (it having been built in two sections) is supposed to be the oldest structure now standing in Allentown. This portion was built by one Timothy Harbert in the early part of the 18th century. Originally this part comprised the whole building that stood by itself previous to its having been enlarged on its northerly side. This added portion, formerly a doctorís office, was moved there from another part of Main street by Mrs. Fordís father and was then joined to the original part.


During the early 30ís of the last century the house was occupied by Dr. George Holcombe, a physician of note at that time, who spent many years of the latter part of his life in this town. The Doctor studied medicine and began the practice of his profession in Allentown, where he achieved a large success as a physician, his practice having extended over a wide circuit of the surrounding country. His wife was Elizabeth Imlay, a daughter of John Imlay, one of the early residents of Allentown.


One of the Doctorís daughters, Miss Helen, conducted a millinery store in the front room of what is now the north extension of the dwelling, the same having been built by the Doctor for his daughterís store. Miss Holcombe, after having carried on her business for some time, returned to her home at Lambertville, where her marriage shortly afterward took place.


Dr. Holcombeís death occurred in Allentown in 1828, and his remains were interred in the Presbyterian Cemetery. The Doctorís popularity was largely due to his skill as a physician, also to his pleasing social qualities, that never failed to gain him new and lasting friends in this community.


In later years, after the store had been vacated, Mrs. Fordís father, George C. Meyer, who was by trade a hatter, occupied the former store room for the purpose of finishing off his silk hats, the balance of the process having been done in a room at the rear. Before coming to America he had been a residence of Alsace-Lorraine, which then belonged to France, and it was while living there that he learned the trade of a hatter.


Mr. Meyer had always been interested in fire department matters. For many years he had served as foreman of the old Perseverance company. Twice a year he had the engine taken to the town pump and given a trial after the company had finished its business meeting. This company was kept up as long as volunteers could be found to man the engine.


The present dwelling was taken possession of by Mr. Meyer in 1836, since which date it was used solely as a private dwelling. Those who remember the house as it appeared fifty years ago can scarcely realize the important changes that have been made in its outward appearance, while the interior also shows the results of modern progress.


A small building at the rear of her dwelling possesses considerable interest to the owner, as it was built by her brother J. H. Meyer, when he was learning his trade as carpenter. The building originally stood on the easterly bank of the old water power and could be plainly seen from the former Main street bridge. The said building was known as the reading room. It was neatly painted, papered and furnished as a club room for a number of young men of the village. After the club ceased to exist, the building was moved to its present location and is now only a reminder of former days in Allentown.


Mrs. Fordís home abuts on the northerly side a portion of a former roadway that started from Central Main street and led to the old church and cemetery a short distance to the eastward. Her house is directly in the rear of the site of the Revolutionary church that was torn down in 1808, in a ruinous condition, it having suffered greatly from the effects of shot, made, presumably, during the British occupation of Allentown in June, 1778.


The old [Quaker] building had served at different periods as a church home for the Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Methodists, before either of the said denominations had erected a building of its own.††††††††††††††††† C.H.F.


From the Library of Congress, Doctor Holcombeís(1786-1828) biography:


HOLCOMBE, George, a Representative from New Jersey; born in West Amwell (now Lambertville), Hunterdon County, N.J., in March 1786; completed preparatory studies and was graduated from Princeton College in 1805; attended the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia; later studied medicine in Trenton, N.J., and was granted a license by the Medical Society of New Jersey; practiced medicine in Allentown, N.J., 1808-1815; held several local offices; member of the State general assembly in 1815 and 1816; elected to the Seventeenth and to the three succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1821, until his death in Allentown, N.J., January 14, 1828; interment in the Congressional Cemetery, Washington, D.C.


If Fidlerís article is correct, was he later re-interred in the Congressional Cemetery?