Mifflin County Biographies
"History of the Juniata Valley and Its People, Vol. II" 1913

William Vollmer


William Vollmer, of Burnham, Pennsylvania, exemplifies to a marked degree what energy, perseverance and well directed ambition will accomplish. He is of that all-conquering strain that time and circumstances never daunt, German-American. Since the year 1837 the Vollmers have added to the wealth, energy and greatness of the United States, bringing from the Fatherland indomitable will and a determination to succeed, which in the end bring desired results.

Henry Vollmer, father of William Vollmer, was born in 1816, at Gemmershein-on-the-Rhine, Germany, of good, honest, well-to-do parents, who had long made their home in that romantic part of the Fatherland. At the age of twenty-one, in 1837, the spirit of adventurous youth and enterprise induced him to try his fortunes in the United States, and he crossed the Atlantic, landing at New York. Later he went to Philadelphia, where he located, securing employment with the J. and J. P. Steiner & Company, a large mercantile house of that city. From an humble employee he rose to one position after another, later being admitted as one of the firm, and remained with Steiner & Company until they closed their business for two years during the civil war. In the meantime he had married Louise Steiner, born in Philadelphia, in 1824. but like himself of German parentage. They lived in comfortable circumstances and reared a family. After the closing of Steiner & Company, Mr. Vollmer entered business for himself, having with him his two sons, at No. i Bank street. Philadelphia. The business greatly prospered for several years and was increasing in every way until the panic of 1873, when like so many other firms many established much longer than his, he was forced to close. He retired to private life, lived quietly, and died in Philadelphia in 1905. His wife died in 1895. He was a staunch Republican and worked for the party, but neither held nor aspired to office. Children: 1. Emma, married I. L. Register; living in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. 2. Henry, deceased. 3. Ida, died in infancy. 4. Amanda, died in infancy. 5. Phillip, a representative of the Lawrence Cement Company, of Philadelphia. 6. William, of whom further.

William, sixth and youngest child of Henry and Louise (Steiner) Vollmer, was born in Philadelphia, April 24, 1861. He received his preparatory education in the public schools of the city, finally entering the Philadelphia Polytechnic School, where he threw himself heart and soul into the prescribed course. Owing to financial circumstances he was compelled to forego the pleasure of graduating, and left school one year previous to that anticipated event. He entered at once the employ of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, of Philadelphia. He gave all of his spare time to the study of machinery, increasing his knowledge thereby. For eleven years he was an integral part of the vast works, and identified himself in every way with its interests. At the end of that time the company, recognizing merit, ability and loyalty, rewarded him by making him assistant superintendent, a position he held with credit to himself and the satisfaction of the company until October 17, 1910, when he was offered and accepted the place of superintendent of the Standard Steel Works, at Burnham, Pennsylvania. He holds that position at the present time.

Mr. Vollmer employees three thousand men, and the products turned out for a large and ever increasing market are, steel castings, tires, rolled wheels, springs, iron and malleable castings. The output is shipped to the four quarters of the United States, Japan and the British colonies. The plant is running to its fullest capacity, and the demand for its products exceeds the supply. This has largely been accomplished through the broad constructive talent and farsightedness of Mr. Vollmer, his quick appreciation of events and his ability to adapt himself, and the business which he superintends, to them. He is an extremely modest man, unassuming, but in a quiet and supremely effective way he has advanced the efficiency of his numerous employees to a standard that is rarely equalled, and never surpassed, in similar works. He is not aggressive in the ordinary sense, only progressive, and has risen to the topmost rung of his chosen business, in which he has been engaged unremittingly for thirty-five years.

He is persevering, mastering every detail, however minute or dull; is conservative, prompt, decisive and cool, with a determination to succeed that in the end generally makes for success. He maintains no elaborate suite of offices with flunkies to guard the doors, but is in the main room of the general office. He is always willing and pleased to listen to the humblest of the employees of the works, thus evincing his spirit of true American democracy and his inherited German love of justice. The keynote of his character is a desire to see everyone get "a square deal," and the motive of all his actions is to produce results. He married, in 1891, Gwenllian Hunt, born at Catasauqua, Pennsylvania, a daughter of Joshua Hunt, a member of a family of English descent, long established in America, the progenitor of which came over in colonial days. Mrs. Vollmer's maternal grandfather, David Thomas, was the pioneer manufacturer of pig iron from anthracite coal, and is called the father of that special industry, carried on at Catasauqua, Pennsylvania. Children: 1. Roger H., a bright student in the department of agricultural engineering in the Pennsylvania State College. 2. William S., attending the Culver (Indiana) Military School.



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