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Plank family papers


Held at: Tri-County Heritage Society [Contact Us]P.O. Box 352, Morgantown, PA, 19543

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Tri-County Heritage Society. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

The Plank family of Oley and Morgantown, Berks County, Pennsylvania is descended from French Huguenot and physician, Jacques De La Planche, or Jacob Plank (circa 1680-1760). Plank came to Pennsylvania around 1710 and settled in Oley about ten years later. His children and their descendents married into several influential families in Berks County and were actively involved in the communities of Oley and Morgantown.

Plank family

Jacques De La Planche, or Jacob Plank (circa 1680-1760) was a French Huguenot who came to Pennsylvania from Switzerland around 1710, initially practicing medicine and residing in the Germantown section of Philadelphia before relocating to Oley Township around 1720. He received his medical education while a student at the University of Basel, Switzerland, under the instruction of Theodore Zwingerus, and professor and author of medical texts. He and his wife, Mary Catherine, had four children, including, Frederick De La Plank.

Frederick De La Plank had six children: Melchior (Michael) Plank, Jacob Plank, John Plank, Peter Plank, Nicholas Plank, and Christian Plank. Peter Plank (circa 1748-1831) was born circa 1748 in Oley, Berks County and became a Bishop in the Mennonite Church. In 1781 or 1782, Peter married Veronica Frances "Franny" Kauffman (circa 1761-1837). She was the daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth (Beiler) Kauffman and the granddaughter of John Jacob Kauffman, who came to Philadelphia in 1737. Peter and Frances Plank had nine children together.

David Francis Plank (1804-1886) was born in 1804 in Morgantown, Caernarvon Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania. He was the youngest son of Reverend Bishop Peter Plank and Frances (Kauffman) Plank. David Plank was a longtime owner (from 1836 to 1887) of the Jones-Hertzler house in Berks County. Around 1826, he married Rebecca Frances Buckwalter (1802-1870), the daughter of Daniel and Ruth (Schoenholtz) Buckwalter, and they had eleven children together: John (circa 1826-1897), Daniel Kauffman (circa 1830-1888), Ruth A. (circa 1832-1840), Isaac Persell (1833-1885), Margaret Elizabeth (1835-1888), Oliver Cromwell (1837-1839), Martin B. (1840-1901), David Heber (1842-1906), Rebecca Frances (1844-1928), Mary (1846-1846), and Peter William (1848-1876) Plank. Rebecca Frances Plank (1844-1928) married William I. Clous (1820-1897) in 1875 and they had three children together: Frances I., Ruth P., and David P. Clous.

Dr. D. (David) Heber Plank (1842-1906) was the son of David F. Plank (1804-1886) and Rebecca F. Buckwalter (1802-1870). He married Ida Eugenie Bertolet (1855-1913), the daughter of Horace De Turk Bertolet (1831-1865) and Adeline B. Miller (1832-1925), in 1877 and they lived in Morgantown, Berks County. D. Heber and Ida Plank had six children: David Horace Plank (1878-1918), an engineer who worked with Charles Steinmetz at General Electric in Schenectady, New York helping to design the trains that would guide boats through the Panama Canal; Walter Frederick Plank (1882-1912), who married Letitia H. Finger (1875-1970); Heber Eugene Plank (1884-1947); William Bertolet Plank (1886-1956); Alfred Quintin Plank (1887-1967); and Harold Kauffman Plank (1891-1986), who married Flora Friese (1898-1977) with whom he had two sons before remarrying to Alice Craig (1906-2000).

D. Heber Plank attended Millersville Normal School (now Millersville University) from 1860 to 1864 but did not graduate. In 1863, he began studying medicine in the office of Birdsboro physician B. F. Bunn and while at Pennsylvania State College, he selected medicine as his profession. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1867 with a degree in medicine. After graduating, Plank traveled for a year to the western United States and Canada. In 1868, D. Heber entered into a mining business in Berks County with two partners. He showed off specimens from his mine at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Plank began a general practice of medicine in Morgantown, PA in 1869 and was a member of the Pathological Society of Berks County. He was a warden at St. Thomas Episcopal Church (Morgantown, PA), president of the Morgantown branch of the Washington National Building and Loan Association, a board member of the Conestoga Valley Railroad Company, and medical examiner for the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York. He was interested in scientific agriculture and performed chemical analysis on soil in Berks and Lancaster counties. He was also interested in his family's history and researched his ancestors.

William Bertolet "Bert" Plank (1886-1956) was born in Morgantown, PA in 1886 to D. Heber and Ida Plank. He married Helen J. Beck (1882-1974), the daughter of John H. and Amanda Beck of Nittany, Centre County. Bert was a mining engineer and founder of the mining engineering department of Lafayette College in Easton, PA. He served as president of the Morgantown Civic Association. Bert and Helen had one child, Adaline Jane Plank (1914-1993), who was born in Pittsburgh, PA, but lived most of her life in Morgantown. Adaline worked as an occupational therapist.

Bertolet family

Jean Bertolet (1686-1757), a Swiss native, emigrated from Alsace, France in 1726 and settled with his wife, Susanna DeHarcourt Bertolet, and their five children in Oley, Berks County, Pennsylvania. Jean and Susanna Bertolet's son, Abraham Bertolet (1712-1766) married Esther DeTurk, daughter of Isaac DeTurk and Maria DeHarcourt of Oley, PA in 1735. Abraham and Esther Bertolet had four children: Maria Bertolet Hoch (1736-1802), Daniel DeTurk Bertolet (1741-1797), Elizabeth Bertolet DeTurk (1742-1808), and Samuel Bertolet (1743-1805). Their oldest son, Daniel DeTurk (1741-1797), married Maria Yoder (1749-1827) and they had seven children, including Daniel Yoder Bertolet (1781-1868).

Daniel Yoder Bertolet (1781-1868) was a farmer in Oley and in conjunction with his farm work, he erected a saw mill adjoining the farm's blacksmith shop in 1810. He was known for his mechanical ability and performed much of the blacksmith work for the farm. He was also a writer of both prose and poetry in English and in German. Around 1842 he built a non-sectarian meetinghouse and designated land for a cemetery at his own expense. The meetinghouse and cemetery, now Bertolet Union Cemetery, still exist, and several Bertolet family members are buried there. Daniel married Maria Hoch Griesemer (1781-1863) and they had nine children. Their oldest child, Abraham Bertolet (1803-1835) married Catharine DeTurk (1812-1874) and they had three children. Abraham and Catharine Bertolet's only son, Horace DeTurk Bertolet (1831-1865) was, like his paternal grandfather, known for his mechanical ability and worked for the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. He married Adeline B. Miller (1832-1925) and had five children, including Ida Eugenie (1855-1913), who married Dr. D. Heber Plank. Horace Bertolet's career in mechanics was cut short due to his untimely death in 1865. His wife, Adeline remarried to Franklin B. Fry/Frey (1846-1889) and had two more children.


"The Plank Family's Re-Union in Ohio." <emph render="italic">Reading Eagle</emph> (Reading, PA), September 22, 1899. Accessed August 30, 2016.,4982981&hl=en.

"Sketch of Dr. Plank, Of Morgantown." <emph render="italic">Reading Eagle</emph> (Reading, PA), August 11, 1895. Accessed August 30, 2016.,2047387&hl=en.

Plank family papers, circa 1820s-1980s, consist of materials that document the professional and personal lives of various members of the Plank family and their relations. Individuals well-represented in the collection include Dr. D. Heber Plank, William Bertolet Plank and others. Materials in the collection include diaries, correspondence, financial records, property documents, legal papers, scrapbooks, photographs and negatives, family records and genealogical research, records from organizations connected to the family, architectural and other technical drawings, printed matter, ephemera, and various other materials.

The genealogical research and family records are primarily about the Plank and Bertolet families and include marriage certificates and other personal records, handwritten notes, manuscript materials, newspaper clippings, photocopies of primary source documents, and other materials.

A large portion of materials is from William Bertolet Plank, including documents related to his work at Lafayette College and mining engineering, financial records, correspondence, materials from organizations with which he was involved, genealogy research and notes, and other materials.

There is a large number (and various types) of photographs in the collection depicting people, places, and other subjects connected Berks County and the Plank and Bertolet families. There are also a number of technical drawings and property related materials.

Also in the collection are records from St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Morgantown, PA.

There are a number of artifacts, published books, and other objects that are associated with this collection but were not included in this survey.

Gift of Estate of Adaline Jane Plank, 1993

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2014-2016 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Tri-County Heritage Society directly for more information.

Tri-County Heritage Society
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Sarah Leu and Anastasia Matijkiw through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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