West Point, PA
 West Point Blacksmith

Frederick Henry Pengelly was the village blacksmith from December of 1911 till June of 1916.

Frederick H. Pengelly
     Born in Cornwall England in 1865, Frederick H. Pengelly became an apprentice blacksmith at the age of 15, making cook stoves. In 1885 at the age of 20 he married Eliza Tresize and had a child, Albert E. Pengelly. Unfortunately, Eliza died due to complications from the birth. A year after this tragic occurrence he sailed to America, leaving the baby with his parents until he could send for him.

     He first settled in Mt Carmel, Pennsylvania, perhaps lured by the mines and the Cornish community there. He married his second wife, Annie Anthony, in 1892. He soon left for Lead City, South Dakota and accepted a job as a toolmaker in the Homestake Mines, part of the Black Hills gold mines. His new wife followed him 6 months later.

     The family next moved to Chicago where Fred worked as a mechanic, but they were back in  Mt Carmel sometime before 1896, where he opened a  blacksmith shop. Annie bore him three more children, Raymond Leslie, Myrtle Elizabeth and James Donald.

     At some point Albert died. Then Annie died in 1910. After the death of Annie, Fred and the 3 remaining children moved to West Point, Pennsylvania and lived on Main Street (now West Point Pike.) There he met and hired Emma Reifinger of the village to keep house and care for the children. He opened a blacksmith shop on Garfield Avenue in December of 1911.

On October 2, 1912 Fred and Emma were married at the First Methodist Episcopal Church in Norristown, PA. The ceremony was witnessed by a few of  Emma's relatives. Two years later (June of 1914) Raymond Leslie (known as "Leslie" by his friends) graduated from Upper Gwynedd High School in West Point.

     The blacksmith shop location was shared with a wheelwright shop, owned by one of the founding members of the West Point Fire Company, Walter Cassel. For reasons unknown, in June of 1916 Pengelly closed his shop and in July Cassel closed his.

     The Pengelly family moved to Allentown. Fred set up his blacksmith shop there and also worked for the city, making street lamps, park benches, etc. He sold lamps and other household items on the side. Emma gave birth to 2 children, Marshall and Albert L.

     In 1947 at the age of 82 Frederick was still busy blacksmithing. An article written about him described his personality as being "well forged, tempered, and as keen-edged as the implements he has been hammering out these 60 years."  Frederick Pengelly, one time West Point blacksmith, died in 1952 at the age of 87.

Location of the blacksmith and wheelwright shops on Garfield Avenue. The building on the left dates back to 1890.
The collection of  buildings would be known as "Hoot's Garage" after 1919.

     Pengelly moved to Allentown in early 1916. What happened to the blacksmith shop after that?

     In June of 1916 William Hirer, a renter in the village, took over the blacksmith shop, but a month later he moved from West Point to Center Point, PA. That was the end of that.

     In January of 1917 Raymond Hoot planned to open a "second hand" store at the wheelwright and blacksmith shops, with the blacksmith shop to be the showroom. He also opened a garage and was the owner of a brand new "touring car." That same year, Abraham Benner was the blacksmith in West Point. He did the ironwork on the fire company's new fire truck, and Walter Cassel painted it. It's not known if this was done at the same location, and if so, how exactly the properties were changing hands so swiftly.

     More than likely the buildings were rented out by Samuel Kriebel. Kriebel built the Grove Hotel on the corner of Garfield and Main in 1874 and owned seven acres of land around it. He also built the large building across the street that housed the general store and he owned the mill on Main Street. (Kriebel was the "founding father" of West Point. He did this the year after the Stony Creek railroad came through.)

     In March 1917, Hoot had a sale of used goods and it was one of the most attended events in the village. Like many events of the time it made the newspaper. In 1918 Raymond, along with Elmer Fox and Claude Liester of West Point, were in France fighting the Germans during WWI. By 1919 the blacksmith shop was closed and being used by Sam Kriebel to store grain.

     In June of 1919, apparently unscathed by his part in the war, Hoot acquired  the blacksmith shop to expand his garage. Kriebel moved the grain out of the building and Hoot remodeled it, installing offices and a gasoline pump. He sold Sunoco gasoline. The site remained "Hoot's Garage" for almost 50 years, until the 1960's.

Sources: Ellen Patrick (granddaughter of Fred Pengelly) and articles in The Ambler Gazette from 1911 to 1919.
Site of Hoot's garage verified by Stan Welsh, West Point resident from 1939 to 1968.


Blacksmith on the left, wheelwright in the middle and Hoot's garage on the right?