Family Accounts - Descendants of Anna Rosine Fetterman & Heinrich Gernhardt

Charles Wilson B. Gernerd (6)
September 5, 1858 - April 24, 1913

Charles Wilson B. Gernerd (6), Proprietor of Duck Farm in Allentown, PASon of Elemena Gackenbach and Charles Alfred Gernerd (5). He and his family were members of St. Michael’s Lutheran Church of Allentown. On May 2, 1877, he married Ellen V., a daughter of Rebecca Snyder and Henry J. Schmoyer, born in Lower Macungie township, Lehigh County, and they had:

  1. Frederick Benjamin, born November 22, 1879;
  2. Jennie Mabel, born Sept 21, 1880, married John R. Helwig, of Allentown; and
  3. Bessie Rebecca, born Sept. 24, 1882, married Wayne C. Yeager of Allentown.

“Charles Wilson G. has become widely known as the originator and owner of the famous Lehigh County Duck Farm. In July, 1900, I had the pleasure of inspecting this most interesting duck breeding establishment, located on Cedar Creek, near Allentown, and seeing what six years of assiduous and enthusiastic devotion to a pet pursuit had then already accomplished. At the time of this visit he had as many as 16,000 ducks on his premises of about seven acres, nearly through the centre of which a swift and sparkling stream flows on its way to unit with the Lehigh River. The hatch since the beginning of the year had been about 25,000 ducks, and was expected to reach 27,000 before the end of the season. The sight of such an aggregation of clean, pure white, healthy, moving mass of ducks—great care is taken to keep the grounds clean and in proper sanitary condition, in consequence of which, and other wise precautions to protect them, but few birds are ever lost—is in the highest degree pleasing and interesting. The place being quickly accessible by a trolley line from the city of Allentown, attracts a great many visitors; and as the visitors require more or less attention, and come well supplied with questions, it was found necessary, as well as a proper source of revenue, to charge each one a nickel for admission within the attractive enclosure. An elevated boardwalk runs through the length and across the ground,—as may be seen in the illustration in this history—from which the visitors look down into and have a full view of the various pens, without entering them and disturbing the birds.

“In the hatching house, seen in the foreground of the accompanying picture, we were shown 56 large incubators, capable of hatching out more than 16,000 eggs at one time, if needed. The Prairie State Incubator Company, in their 1903 catalogue say this is ‘the largest incubator room in the world.’ There were always kept on hand from 500 to 1,000 old ducks for laying, though many of the eggs are bought from the farmers living along the creek and in the neighborhood. The proprietor was then feeding more than a ton of mixed bran, chopped oats and corn, besides great piles of green food; and was every day butchering—in a building especially constructed for the purpose, at the far end of the boardwalk—and by rail shipping about 100 ducks (a good-sized flock) to New York, to one man, who had contracted to take all he can raise, and who supplies such hotels as the Imperial and the Waldorf-Astoria. The ducks are voracious eaters, grow fast and fat, and are ready for the market before three months old, at which age some weigh as much as five pounds each.

“Besides the ducks our enterprising kinsman also had quite a flock of pigeons, chiefly runts, the large squabs of which he was shipping to New York to the same party. Charles is by taste and nature well suited to build up such an enterprise, and perhaps not one in a hundred who think they would like to engage in the business would succeed as well. I remember that he was a real lover of birds, domesticated and wild, taking a true naturalist’s delight in studying their ways, and that he was even quite an expert taxidermist when yet a mere boy. His large yearly exhibits of poultry and pigeons since then at the Lehigh County Fair, noted as being one of the best agricultural fairs in all the land, always attracted a great deal of attention, and never failed to win for him a long list of premiums. He is certainly the right man in the right place, and is getting the experience that will enable him to accomplish still greater results. He has, I learned since, purchased an additional 38 acres, and when I last heard was preparing for a large extension of the duck-producing business. He expects, after he has everything arranged in accordance with his gradually matured plan, to raise double and treble the number of ducks he has heretofore raised, besides increasing the yearly hatch of pigeons to about 10,000 pairs. The man who builds up such a plant is a public benefactor” (from Heinrich Gernhardt and His Descendants, pp. 174-175).

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