Joseph Ambler Shoemaker

Joseph A. Shoemaker (1826-1905) was a Gwynedd native who became a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives during the late 1880s.

Joseph A. Shoemaker (1826-1905)

Joseph was German descent whose ancestors came with William Penn to Pennsylvania in 1682.

He was born into the Society of Friends, also known as "Quakers," and received his early education at the Friends' School in Gwynedd. When he turned 13, he moved to Philadelphia. At 16, he became an apprentice to blacksmith trade in Bridesburg and Upper Dublin.

Joseph then spent a year as a journeyman, which is "a person who has served an apprenticeship at a trade or handicraft and is certified to work at it assisting or under another person." (

He at first travelled West to work until realizing that the East holds more advantages for him. When he returned to the East, he began purchasing and selling horses in Horsham.

Joseph then found employment at a saw mill in Horsham until he moved to Jenkintown in 1853, where he resided for the rest of his years.

Montgomery County 1877, Jenkintown, Flourtown P.O.; J.D. Scott, Publisher
Source: Google Maps (His property is gone, but the street name was possibly named in his honor)

In Jenkintown, he went into the business of butchering with his brother-in-law George Logan. He retired from the brothering business in 1885, two years before joining politics.

In 1887, Joseph was elected to the PA House of Representatives, and served for 2 terms. Since first elected, he was a member of the committee that contributed to printing 19,000 copies of the illustrated history book called Birds of Pennsylvania.

Fun Fact #1: He was also part of the Printing, Corporation, Congressional Appointment, and the Bank and Banking committees as well as the committee of comparing bills. In 1889, he was the chairman of the Geological Survey Committee.

"Mr. Shoemaker was ever the friend of the people, leaving nothing undone that was possible to promote prosperity and the general welfare. There is no kinder neighbor or friend than he and no one who is more ready to do a favor for those who are deserving."

- Ellwood Roberts, 145


Bean, Theodore Weber. History of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Volume 2. (Philadelphia: Everts & Peck, 1884): 741-742.

"JOSEPH A. SHOEMAKER." Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Accessed January 14, 2021.

Roberts, Ellwood. Biographical annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, containing genealogical records of representative families, including many of the early settlers and biographical sketches of prominent citizens. (New York: T. S. Benham, 1904): 144-146.

Scott, J. D. Montgomery County 1877, Jenkintown, Flourtown P.O., 1877.

Wiley, Samuel T. Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County, Together with an Introductory Historical Sketch. (Philadelphia: Biographical Publishing Company, 1895): 407-408.

#pahistory #gwynedd #jenkintown #PAHouse #congressman #congress #politics #lowergwynedd

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