Balthaser W. Romberger, president of the Yokney Cotton Mills, Water Valley, Mississippi, and retired dry goods merchant of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was born in Mifflin Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, 7 December 1825. He is a son of Balthaser Romberger and Elizabeth [Sierer] Romberger.
Balthaser Romberger [the father] was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. After his marriage he came to Dauphin County, and settled in Mifflin Township, where he died in 1838, aged sixty. His wife died some years after, at the age of seventy-five. Their children were:
Anna Maria Romberger [born 12 October 1803, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania], Mrs. Daniel Matter, died in Mifflin Township, aged sixty-three years, deceased;
Anna Catherine Romberger [born 1 October 1805, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania], Mrs. Matter, died aged fifty-eight;
George John Romberger [born 12 November 1807, Pennsylvania], farmer in Mifflin Township;
Daniel Romberger [born 13 March 1810, Upper Paxton Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania], died in Mifflin Township;
Elizabetha Romberger [born 24 May 1812, Lykens Valley, Dauphin County], Mrs. J. Hoy, died in Mifflin Township;
Susanna Romberger [born 30 November 1814, Dauphin County], Mrs. Broeder, died in Mifflin Township;
Rebecca Romberger [born 17 September 1816, in Pennsylvania], Mrs. J. Harner, died in Mifflin Township;
Hannah Romberger [born 11 November 1818, Washington Township, Dauphin County], Mrs. Jacob Woodside, widow, resides in Mifflin Township;
Benjamin Romberger [born, 17 January 1821, Mifflin Township, Dauphin County, biographical sketch included on this blog], lives retired at Berrysburg, Pennsylvania;
David J. Romberger [born 12 September 1823, Mifflin Township, Dauphin County], deceased, farmer, Mifflin Township
Balthaser W. Romberger [born 7 December 1825, MIfflin Township, Dauphin County].
Balthaser W. Romberger had only the slender opportunities for education afforded by subscription schools open for a few month of each year. When he was in his fourteenth year his father died, and while the family were not left destitute, yet they were by no means rich in this world’s goods, and the boy did not wish to remain a burden to his mother. Being active and ambitious, he determined to start out in the world on his own account and to demonstrate that even at his early age he could provide for himself. He first hired as a farm hand for one year at $3 per month, to a man who proved to be a hard task master, requiring him to work from sunrise until late at night and expecting of him in the fields the work of an able-bodied man, scarcely allowing him time to eat his dinner, but compelling him to do chores about the barn while the men were enjoying their hour of rest at noon. He did not like to leave his place, for fear of being called lazy, and patiently worked through the year. With money saved from his earnings he bought the first suit of clothes he ever wore. At the end of this year he found employment for six months with another farmer, who gave him $5 per month. At the expiration of this engagement he began an apprenticeship to a carpenter in Upper Paxton Township, with whom he served three years, afterwards receiving regular journeyman’s wages for the time he remained in his employ.
In 1848 he went to Illinois and remained six months, during which time Mr. Romberger worked only one month, and was at expense both for himself and for his companion, which nearly exhausted his money. They changed their plans and returned, reaching home with just $5 remaining of the $800 with which he started. He soon after assumed a position as clerk in the general store of his brother-in-law, at Berrysburg, Pennsylvania. He was for five years engaged in this occupation in several places, during the winter months working at his trade in the summer, excepting one month in each season, when he was engaged as a harvest hand.
In 1852 or 1853 Mr. Romberger went to Philadelphia to acquire a good mercantile training, with a view of establishing himself in a general store in some country place. He little thought at that time of becoming a prominent dry goods merchant in that great city. He at once applied to the large wholesale dry goods firm which of late is known as the Jacob Riegel Company, and met with a cordial reception. He stated his desire of getting a position as salesman frankly and fully informing them of his slender experiences in the business, and asking for a month’s trial, agreeing, if successful, to receive pay according to the value of his services, but after trial he should prove not to be adapted to the business, he would ask no wages. They were pleased with his honest frankness and consented to the trial. He was extended to four months, and proved satisfactory to both parties. Mr. Romberger agreed to remain, and continued with the firm for ten years, his salary being advanced from time to time from $600 to $5000 per annum. He sold as high as $410,000 worth of goods in one year, and after deducting his salary, his sales cleared $62,000 for the firm. At the end of ten years he united with Mr. Cunningham in forming the dry goods firm of Romberger, Cunningham and Company, which continued in business two years, and was then changed to Romberger, Long and Company, which continued until 1887, when on account of failing health, Mr. Romberger sold his interest in the business to Mr. Long.
During this time, Mr. Romberger and his brother-in-law, D. R. Wagner, formed what is known as the Yokney Cotton Mills Company, of which he became president. They built a large factory at Water Valley, Mississippi, and equipped it with the latest and most improved machinery. It gives employment to one hundred and thirty-five hands. The president’s son, Charles E. Romberger, is an efficient and capable superintendent of the business.
Mr. Romberger was married, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 10 July 1856, to Miss Helena Wagner, a native of Snyder County, Pennsylvania, where she lived until she was twelve or fourteen years of age when she removed with her parents to Philadelphia. Prior to this Mr. Romberger had married a Miss Sarah Orendorf, who lived but two years after marriage, and by whom he had one child:
Henry M. Romberger, residing at Winona, Mississippi, cashier of Winona Bank, and married to Florence Smith.
There have been two children of the second marriage:
Clara Louisa Romberger, wife of Johnson Alter, died at the age of thirty-eight, leaving one child; and
Charles E. Romberger, superintendent of cotton mills, Water Valley, Mississippi, married Miss Smith.
Mr. Romberger’s politics are Democratic. For fifty-five years he has been an energetic , progressive and highly esteemed member of the Lutheran church.
Mr. Romberger spends most of his winters at Water Valley, Mississippi. His house in Washington Township is situated in a beautiful spot, at the foot of the mountain, ans is truly baronial in its proportions and appointments. It is lavishly supplied with all the modern conveniences which contribute to comfort and luxury. Mr. Romberger has indulged his cultured literary taste especially in the furnishing of his library, which is a spacious room stored with selected books in every department of literature, science and art. It is an agreeable surprise to find so beautiful, luxurious and tasteful a dwelling in rural surroundings. The farm on which it stands contains five hundred and seventeen acres, and is one of the best in the State. Mr. Romberger in his personality is attractive and agreeable. He is affable and courteous in manner, and always genial and hospitable. His appearance proclaims him to be just what he really is, a man of distinguished business ability and refined and cultured tastes.
The above information was modified/edited from Commemorative Biographical Encyclopedia of Dauphin County, published in 1896 by J. M. Runk and Company of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. A free download is available from the Internet Archive.
Note: Balthaser W. Romberger died on 3 November 1905 and is buried at the Maple Grove Cemetery, Elizabethville. His grave marker is pictured at the top of this post, there being no available portrait of him at the time of this writing.