Alvin L. Leisey, Sr. (7/10/94 to 2/17/73), our father, was born in Reinholds,
PA. He was the sixth of seven children born in Cocalico Township, Lancaster County, PA to
George (3/24/1857-7/20/1930) and Amanda Nagel (7/11/1856 -
11/8/1946) Leisey. His siblings were Thomas (1879-1962) - never
married, lived with his parents and worked in a hat factory; Susan (1880-1956),
married Harry Lutz and had two children; Elizabeth
"Lizzie" (1883-1916), married Harry Weider (Lizzie lost her
life in a house fire) and had three children; Amos (married Stella
Dornan), no children, Amos worked for the Reading Railroad as a Station Master, and was
an Assemblyman from Chester County in the Pennsylvania Legislature for 30 years;
Elias married Clara Mae Frankfort, had seven children and was
the Station Master for the Reading Railroad in Ephrata, PA; and Robert
"Bob" married Pearl Leidenberger, mother's sister, and had
one step-child. Uncle Bob worked as an brakeman in Birdsboro for the Reading Railroad. With the
exception of Uncle Tom, Dad, Uncle Amos, Uncle Elias, and Uncle Bob all worked for the Reading
Railroad. Dad and his siblings grew up and worked on the family farm in Reinholds, PA. Dad
attended Sunnyside School and West Stevens School, both one-room schools. He left school after the
eighth grade. Many members of the Leisey family, including Al Jr., have been Masons.
Ethel Marie Leisey (2/26/03 - 8/31/88), our mother,. was born in Pottstown, PA. She was the sixth of nine children born to George Washington Leidenberger (6/17/1871-2/6/1951), a paper hanger, painter and cabinet maker and Mary Ellen Wagner Leidenberger (6/26/1870-7/13/1931), a dress maker. It is interesting that just like Mother had dropped her first name, Ethel, and used her middle name, Marie, many of her siblings also went by their middle names i.e., Ella May "May" (6/15/1892-11/7/1962) married Edward Robert Hatfield and had seven children; Edna Pearl "Pearl" (7/22/1894-12/1/1962) married Robert Leisey, dad's brother, had one child; Ernest LeRoy "Roy" (8/23/1896-3/31/1951) married Ellen Swenson - they had four boys; Andora Ruth "Ruth" (12/17/1898-1/28/1958) married Herbert Levengood - had one child; Iva Irene "Ivy" (2/16/1901-1/23/1997) married Robert "Curly" Albright - they had one child; Cora Elizabeth "Doll" (5/5/1904-Unknown); George Washington (8/17/1905-11/5/1905), Leonard Harold "Leonard" (August 11, 1909-September 28, 1965) -never married; and Charles Reuben "Bob" (3/6,1912-11/3/1978) - married Phoebe and had one son, divorced Phoebe, and married Verna.
Alvin, Jr., reminisces that he would accompany Mother and Dad to Grandfather and Grandmother Leisey's farm in Reinholds, PA. They would take the train because Dad could get free passes due to working on the Reading Railroad. Grandfather Leisey would meet the family at the train station in Rheinholds in his fancy "Stage Coach" pulled by from 2 to 4 horses. Mother, who was a large lady, would tip the stagecoach to the side when she would get on board and Grandfather found this very amusing. The grandparents' farm house, had a porch around the entire house. The Leiseys were Reformed Lutherans.
Grandmother Leisey (Amanda) grew up following the Mennonite Religion, but became a Reformed Lutheran when she married our grandfather, George. Grandmother Leisey told Alvin Jr. that as a child she could hear the cannons during the Civil War and would tell Alvin, Jr. stories relating to the battle of Gettysburg. According to Alvin Jr., she probably lived within 20 miles of Gettysburg Battle Field, near the Susquahanna River and close to Colombia, PA. Grandmother and Grandfather Leisey, in addition to raising their own family, took care of Harry, Carrie and Clayton Weider because their mother, Elizabeth died when their house burned down. Grandmother Leisey (Amanda) died on November 8, 1946 at the age of 90.
Grandfather Leisey (George) died on July 20, 1930, at the age of 73. Grandfather and Grandmother Leisey's bodies are interred at the Muddy Creek Congregational Church's Cemetery in Reinholds, PA. According to Al Jr., our grandfather was a "happy go lucky" guy who had a large number of friends. When he died there were 300-400 people at a dinner at the Reinholds Fire Company in his honor after the funeral. The Leisey Farm was subsequently sold to Aunt Susan and her husband, Harry Lutz.
After completing the eighth grade, Dad left home and worked at various odd jobs before taking a job as a telegraph operator with the Reading Railroad Company. In 1917, Dad joined the Army to fight in World War 1. It was a war that lasted four years and caused the deaths of millions of combatants and laid waste to much of Europe. Dad advanced through the ranks and was given a battlefield promotion to sergeant in Battery "F" - 310th Field Artillery. He was assigned to the Field Artillery unit because as a farmer, he was accustomed to managing teams of mules and horses. As a result, he was given the job of managing a team of 20 mules that were used to pull the cannons. Even though he only went to the eighth grade in school, and did not have the opportunity to take courses in geometry and trigonometry, he was able to calculate the coordinates in firing the cannons. Dad fought the Germans in the battles at Belleau Wood and Aragone Forest in France. He was gassed with mustard gas during these battles that had an impact on him both physically and mentally throughout his life.
After returning home from WW I, Dad worked as a riveter on the Peace Bridge at Niagara Falls that joined the United States and Canada. He then returned to the job he had prior to entering the Army as telegraph operator for the Reading Railroad at St. Peters, PA. St. Peters is near Pottstown, PA, where our mother lived. Dad and Mother met and were married in 1922. After their wedding, Mother and Dad moved to Walnut Street in Birdsboro, PA, where Dad accepted a job with the operating train side of the Reading Railroad. Dad took the job during a major labor dispute between the Reading Railroad and the union. Mother worked at Reed's knitting mill in Birdsboro, making men's stockings from 1930-32.
Alvin Lewis Leisey, Jr., was born in Birdsboro, PA on May 10, 1923. When Alvin Jr. was 6 months old, Dad and Mother moved to Coatesville, PA where Dad had been transferred by the Reading Railroad. After a short period of time the family moved back to Birdsboro because Mother was very unhappy with the move. She did not know anyone and felt very isolated living in an apartment in Coatesville. more...