a look back in history: Rare Fegley and Moyer photos show life in Oley Valley’s 19th century

Photos by Amandus Moyer 
Amandus Moyer's photos  captured the life of the Oley Valley.
Photos by Amandus Moyer Amandus Moyer's photos captured the life of the Oley Valley.
Photos by Amandus Moyer 
Amandus Moyer's photos  captured the life of the Oley Valley.
Photos by Amandus Moyer Amandus Moyer's photos captured the life of the Oley Valley.

When photography was invented in the 19th century, few photographers took the time to photograph actual Folklife of people living in the Oley Valley except H. Winslow Fegley and Amandus Moyer, who lived near Lobachsville. In the early nineteen-hundreds, Webster Reinert from Pleasantville, Oley Township had the chore of helping clean up Amandus Moyer’s farm for a family who had just bought it. Acquainted with the village of Lobachsville, he was a great help adjusting the new couple to the farming territory, however, there were a lot of personal things left behind by Amandus that was of no use to the new family.

Among which were photographic supplies not of any value to the couple who was only interested in farming, but of great value to our Pennsylvania Dutch culture, an old box of glass negatives that were very old were also found in the attic that they were also not interested in. But Webster Reinert, who had lived in the area, recognized the negatives of being photos of the Oley Valley and stated they should not be discarded no matter how old they were. Therefore, in honor of his helping to clean up the farmstead of this new farming couple to the area gave him this heavy box of antique glass negatives from the 19th century made by photographer, Amandus Moyer.

Some of which were photos of Moyer’s old automobile that he drove around photographing local Oley Valley people. A contemporary of Winslow Fegley from Hereford, PA whose photographs are on display at the Schwenkfelder in Pennsburg. These men were career photographers who recorded local Americana folklife for posterity in the Oley Valley before the advanced automobile age of the 20th century, where automation instead of old handmade craftsmanship would lead to modernization. Unlike Fegley, Amandus Moyer photographed life in the Oley Hills around Fredericksville and the village tavern at Landis Store where frontier farmers lived more in seclusion.

Moyer was a very popular visitor at the Lobachsville tavern and General Store, driving around his new automobile where most of the people there didn’t own such a luxury. Moyer very much appreciated photographing good-looking horses and their drivers, whether they drove a one horse buggy or a team of horses. Since his farm was along Hoch’s corner where the old double Limestone kiln was active with horse teams traveling to and from pulling wagons of burnt lime to the Hoch farm fields, this was an ideal place for his photography.

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But his picturesque pig pen with lofty grain tower was his pride and joy in photographing, which stood near his orange clay-tiled bake oven. His property, including outbuildings, and travelers along the nearby road were often photographed. Married to a Bieber woman from Rockland Township, he also photographed her frontier kin who lived high in the Oley Hills, near Ruppert’s schoolhouse.