The Berks-Mont News (

A Look Back in History: Moyer photographed life in Oley (Part 3)

Part 3 of three-part series

By Richard L.T. Orth, Columnist

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Unlike H. Winslow Fegley, Amandus Moyer photographed life in the Oley Hills, specifically, around an un-captured Fredericksville and the tavern at Landis Store where frontier farmers lived more in seclusion.

He was a very popular visitor at the Lobachsville Tavern and general store and a curious delight to those in attendance, driving his new automobile. However, mostly enjoyed photographing good-looking horses with their drivers, whether they drove a one horse buggy or a team of horses. Since his farm was along Hoch’s corner where the double limestone kiln was active with horse teams traveling to and from pulling wagons of burnt lime away to the Hoch farm fields, his pictures of his ostentatious pigpen with lofty grain tower was his pride and joy standing near his orange clay tiled bake oven at home.

Married to a Bieber woman (Alice) from Rockland Township, he photographed her frontier kin high in the Oley Hills, near Ruppert’s schoolhouse. Besides the surviving photographs of the Oley Valley there are a number of photographs of the Oley Hills taken by Winslow Fegley and Amandus Moyer, two of the earliest photographers that have recorded rural folklife among Oley Valley citizens in the 19th Century. Although both of these photography buffs may have shared their artistry Amandus Moyer whose homestead was located between Lobachsville and Hoch’s Corner married a Pennsylvania Dutch woman near Fredericksville, Rockland Township named Alice Bieber, who lived among the hill folk in the Oley Hills at Ruppert’s Eck.

Enterprising Amandus Moyer who later began a lumber Company at Gilbertsville, PA photographed the neighbors of Alice Bieber’s parents and the New Year’s Wishing greeters and greetings that were held at the Fredericksville Hotel. Great photos of which had resurfaced in the last decade, while the Oley Heritage group compiled a beautiful picture book of the rural countryside around 2012, Moyer was an avid community-minded person who additionally photographed the Lobachsville General store in between visiting the Lobachsville Hotel with this late modeled automobile. A farmer, as occupation, who was proud of his homestead with this ornate tower on his pig pen, he often photographed the hucksters who drove by on their way to the Lobachsville General Store.

Moyer had a picturesque landscape with a frontier zigzag timber fence on the historic Hoch farm as his background, opposite his brick masoned home with typical (orange) clay tile bake-oven, built alongside his manor house, and a large porch to protect visitors from the rain that can be seen in his classic “Belsnickling” photo. His wife, Alice, was a typical PA Dutch cook whose hospitality was known far and wide. A curious person who found frontier hill folk amazingly self-sufficient, he especially photographed hunters of fox skins for their bounty and all sorts of game that was indicative of frontier living in the 19th Century in the Oley Hills above the prosperous Oley Valley basin.

Furthermore, Moyer was savvy enough to photograph the natural wonders of the Oley Valley like the “Chapel Rocks,” which drew a number of curious onlookers from miles around wearing their Sunday best clothing. A contemporary of Winslow Fegley from Hereford, Fegley’s photos are on display at the Schwenkfelder’s Museum Library. 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, ushering in automation instead of handmade craftsmanship, ultimately leading to modernization.