Gottlieb’s Bakery

Phoenixville Buchanan Street Bakery

My great-grandfather, Gottlieb Spieth, was born and raised in Germany. He was the oldest of his family. In 1883, he bravely left his homeland and traveled from Ottmarsheim to Antwerp, Belgium, where he got passage on the ship Rhynland to Castle Garden, in New York City. Even though he came into NYC, not all immigrants went through Ellis Island. Passengers going to points south were taken to Castle Garden, then they went by steam ferry to Jersey City to connect with a train. Gottlieb got a train to his destination, Philadelphia. For years, I was confused by not finding his name in the immigration and ship records in Philadelphia, until I finally used our local library’s Ancestry account and searched NYC records, and there he was! Connecting with other researchers helped me learn about Castle Garden and the train connection. My uncle still has Gottlieb’s wooden trunk, painted with his name, origin and destination.

Gottlieb SpiethHis landing date was April 7, 1883. He was a baker by trade. After working a few years and establishing himself, he got married in 1889. He and his wife Caroline had 9 children by 1907. Around 1900, they moved up the Schuylkill River to Phoenixville, where they bought a home that was the only one on Buchanan Street at the time, which had already been used as bakery and home. The home had a round brick oven in the middle room of the 1st floor. The home was a double wide row home, and is still there. It has a big side yard, that is unusual on that street. Gottlieb had a thriving bakery at that location. There is a story passed down that when the circus came to town and was stationed just up the street on the main road, there would be a long line in the mornings to get some of his delicious baked goods. That brick oven must’ve kept the house cozy in the winter, but stifling in the summer!

In March of 1910, the family went through a horrible time, with both their 4 year old and 6 year old sons both dying of diphtheria within a couple hours of each other on the same day. They do not have individual burial plots, so we think they may have been buried in a shared plot with other children lost in this terrible time, or that they were buried on top of other family graves.

They somehow kept going each day, until WWI came, and folks started to not want to do business with a German man. His business suffered, and he had to close up shop. They dismantled the brick oven, and used the bricks to make a carriage house/garage, which is still used for that purpose. Some of the bricks are white from the heat of the oven. Being a very kind and principled man, when he had to close his business, he burned his records, so there was no record of anyone owing him anything.

-Anonymous

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