Bucks County PA History
Names and Page # Index


Hon. Oliver Henry FRETZ, A. M., M. D., of Quakertown, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, one of the leading physicians of upper Bucks, was born on his father's farm in Richland township, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, April 9, 1858, and is descended from the earliest German settlers in upper Bucks county, whose descendants have been identified with the affairs of that section since it was inhabited by the aborigines, a period of nearly two centuries. John FRETZ, the paternal ancestor of Dr. FRETZ, came to Pennsylvania about the end of the first quarter of the eighteenth century, accompanied by two brothers Christian and Mark, the latter of whom is said to have died at sea. John FRETZ located for a time in what is now Montgomery county, where he married Barbara MEYER, daughter of Hans MEYER, an early German emigrant, who had settled in Salford township, now Montgomery county. About 1737 John FRETZ purchased a tract of 230 acres in Bedminster township, Bucks county, and settled thereon. His wife Barbara died about 1740, and he married a second time. He reared a family of eight children, five of whom were by his first wife, all except one of which were born in Salford. John FRETZ died early in the year 1772. According to the historian of the family, Rev. A. J. FRETZ, of Milton, New Jersey, he has to-day 5,000 living descendants.

Jacob FRETZ, second son of John and Barbara (MEYER) FRETZ, was born in Montgomery county, in 1732, came with his parents to Bucks county when a child and was reared in Bedminster township. About 1755 he married Magdalena NASH, daughter of William NASH, of Bedminster, and settled in Tinicum township, near Erwinna, but later returned to Bedminster township, where he purchased a farm and lived and died there. He and his wife as well as all the earlier generations of the family were Mennonites and worshiped at the historic old Deep Run Meeting House erected about 1746, and where many of the family are buried. Jacob and Magdalena (NASH) FRETZ were the parents of six sons and three daughters, only the eldest of the latter having married, viz: Elizabeth, who became the wife of the Rev. John KEPHARDT, for many years pastor of the Doylestown Mennonite congregation. Abraham the eldest son, located in Hilltown; he was a teamster in the Revolutionary army and endured many hardships. He married and has numerous descendants in Bucks. John, Jacob, William and Joseph FRETZ were farmers in Bedminster, where they reared families.

Isaac FRETZ, youngest son of Jacob and Magdalena (NASH) FRETZ, was the grandfather of Dr. O. H. FRETZ. He was born on the homestead in Bedminster township, June 11, 1781, and on arriving at manhood married Mary MOYER, and followed farming in Bedminster until 1822, when they removed to Richland township, where he also followed agricultural pursuits until his death on December 27, 1855. His wife, Mary MOYER, was born August 24, 1786, and died March 27, 1855. They were the parents of two children, William and Magdalena, the latter of whom died July 1, 1854, unmarried.

William FRETZ, only son of Isaac and Mary (MOYER) FRETZ, was born in Bedminster township, April 9, 1811, and removed with his parents to Richland at the age of eleven years. Early in life he learned the trade of a carpenter, which he followed until the death of his parents in 1855, when he returned to the homestead and resided thereon until 1866, when he removed to Quakertown, where he lived retired until his death on December 22, 1869. He took an active interest in local affairs and served as supervisor of Richland township for several years. He was a member of the German Reformed church. He married, in 1854, Catharine HOFFORD, daughter of Daniel and Snsanna (MAUGLE) HOFFORD, and they were the parents of two children, Edwin Penrose, and the subject of this sketch. Edwin Penrose FRETZ, born March 3, 1856, on the homestead in Richland township, attended the public schools there until his fifteenth year, when he learned the shoemaker trade with A. B. Walp & Co. Later he entered Washington Hall Collegiate Institute at Trappe, Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, and later Allentown Business College, from which he graduated in 1878. He was employed for some time in the shoe factory of A. B. Walp & Co. He is now proprietor of a shoe store at Lansdale, Pennsylvania.

Hon. Oliver Henry FRETZ, A. M., M. D., second and youngest son of William and Catharine (HOFFORD) FRETZ, was born in Richland township, Bucks county, April 9, 1858. There he lived till he was ten years old, when he removed with his parents to Quakertown, Pennsylvania, where he received the best school advantages the borough afforded. He later attended Oak Grove Academy, a school conducted under the auspices of the Society of Friends. During 1878 and 1879, he was a student of Muhlenberg College, at Allentown, Pennsylvania. He began the study of medicine in 1879, first under that able practitioner, and scientist, Dr. I. S. MOYER, and afterward in the same year he entered the Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and after pursuing a three years' graded course of study, graduated March 30, 1882, receiving the degree of Doctor of Medicine. He began the practice of medicine at Salfordville, Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, but, owing to ill health, at the end of three years he sold his practice and removed to Quakertown, where he is now successfully engaged in the drug business, combined with a large and lucrative office and consulting practice. In 1886-87 he took a post-graduate course of instruction at the Philadelphia Polyclinic and College for Graduates in Medicine. He also pursued a course of instruction at the eye, ear, nose and throat department of the Philadelphia Dispensary, fitting himself as a specialist in diseases of the eye, ear, nose and throat. In 1889 he completed a course in pharmacy at the National Institute of Pharmacy, Chicago, Illinois. Since 1886, when he was elected a school director of Quakertown borough, he has been closely identified with the educational interests of his town and the county. He was re-elected school director in 1889, and served three years as president and one year as treasurer of the board.

In 1890 Dr. FRETZ was nominated on the first ballot for assembly by the Bucks county Democratic convention, and was elected by nearly three hundred majority. He represented his county in the legislature of 1891 with marked ability, and to the utmost satisfaction of his constituents. In the fall of 1892 he was renominated by acclamation and re-elected by a largely increased majority. In the session of 1893 he served on the following important committees: educational, municipal corporations, public health and sanitation, and congressional apportionment. He introduced a number of bills in the legislature, the most important of which was, an act to authorize the state superintendent of public instruction to grant permanent state teachers' certificates to graduate of recognized literacy and scientific colleges. He was also elected by the house of representatives a member of the Pennsylvania election commission for 1893-94, whose duty it was to open, compute and publish the vote for state treasurer. On June 21, 1893, Ursinus College recognized his ability by conferring the honorary degree of Master of Arts (A. M.) upon him. In January, 1894, Dr. FRETZ was appointed a clinical assistant in the eye department of the Jefferson Medical College Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He received the appointment of borough physician of Quakertown in 1888, and has since been reappointed annually. In July 1893, he was appointed by the borough council a member of the borough board of health, a position he still holds, he being president of the board. November 2, 1898, he was elected president of the Bucks county Medical Society. He is also a member of the State Medical Society of Pennsylvania, the Lehigh Valley Medical Association, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Political and Social Science of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Forestry Association and the Bucks County School Directors' Association, of which he served as vice president. He is also surgeon for the Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley Traction Co., and medical examiner for numerous life insurance companies. On November 21, 1898, Dr. FRETZ was elected by the board of trustees a censor of the Medico-Chirurgical College of Philadelphia. He pursued a course of study at the Chicago School of Psychology, graduating therefrom March 15, 1900, receiving the degree of Doctor of Psychology (Psy. D.). On March 7, 1905, he completed a course of study at the South Bend College of Optics, South Bend, Indiana, graduating therefrom with the degree of Doctor of Opitcs, (Opt. D.). He is a member of the following organizations: Quakertown Lodge, No. 512, F. and A. M.; Zinzendorf Chapter, No. 216, Royal Arch Masons, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania Commandery, No. 70, Knights Templar of Philadelphia; Quakertown Lodge, No. 714, I. O. O. F.; Secona Tribe, No. 263, I. O. of R. M., and Marion Circle, No. 16, B. U. (H. F.) of Pennsylvania.

On October 26, 1882, Dr. FRETZ married Elmira A. ROEDER, daughter of Nathan C. and Lucinda (ANTRIM) ROEDER, of Spinnerstown, Pennsylvania. Both are members of the Reformed church. Their union was blessed with two children; Roberts Bartholow, born January 19, 1884, and died October 1, 1884, and Raymond Lamar, born April 24, 1885. The latter received his primary education in the public schools of Quakertown, Pennsylvania; later he attended Perkiomen Seminary for two years, and the Bethlehem Preparatory School, an adjunct to Lehigh University for one year. He then entered his father's drug store as a student of medicine and pharmacy, and in May, 1905, he graduated in the Era Course of Pharmacy of New York. He is also a member of Marion Circle, No. 16, B. U. (H. F.) of Pennsylvania, also of the Quakertown Mandolin Club.

Text taken from page 120 of:

Davis, William W. H., A.M., History of Bucks County, Pennsylvania [New York-Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1905] Volume III

Transcribed DECEMBER 2000 by GRACE T. BURTON of PA as part of the Bucks Co., Early Family Project, www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/bucksindex.html

Published December 2000 on the Bucks county, Pa., USGenWeb pages at www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/

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