May 12, 1900 Harrisburg Dauphin County Pennsylvania, USA
Jan. 14, 1970 Allentown Lehigh County Pennsylvania, USA
This gentleman was one of my childhood mentors. He lived in the apartment downstairs from my grandma near 15th and Hamilton in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Before I was even 10, he and his wife had an "open door" policy that allowed me to visit anytime I wished (as long as Grandma approved). They had a wonderful first floor place full of curiosities. They were confortable with a child's questions and need to handle things and never made me feel I had overstayed my welcome.
I don't know that much about Mr. Vogt's earlier years, only that he was involved with the family jewelry business which was still in business when I made this memorial, but closed in 2013. One lovely thing he gave to me was a beautiful Vietnamese doll in a stand for display - she was in satin regalia, white faced and beautiful. I thought his son had served there in wartime and brought it home, but learned in his later-read obituary that he had had no children, so it may have been from his nephew Barry.
I was trusting my childhood diary in recording his date of death above, and it seems to be right, as I recently found his obituary. Mr. Vogt was one of the first people I knew who died, and his funeral was, I think, the first I ever attended. I had lost one grandpa when I was too young to remember, and would not lose the next one until a year after Mr. Vogt, in January 1971.
It was long ago, but I remember a sense of unreality in Mr. Vogt's passing. He was not visibly ill to me that I can recall, though I might have been kept away from him if he had been sick for a while. It seemed he was just gone one day; I suppose my parents told me. I don't recall my response or what this meant to me. All I have are childish notes made at the time.
In my diary from January 14, 1970, in an excerpt, I wrote:
"Today was sad. My dear friend Charles C. Vogt died today. He gave me many things, taught me things, and allowed me to play on the organ in his apartment."
On January 18 in part I wrote:
"I went to Mr. Charles C. Vogt's viewing. I cried when I got home. He looked, well, he looked like he was sleeping. He had a pretty ring on his finger. He wasn't sleeping though."
There was, no doubt, a great deal more to Mr. Vogt's life than my childhood friendship with him, but there are many worse things to be remembered as than a true and patient friend of a child. For that I will always be grateful, and to this day I feel a pang in my heart when I think of him, or when I pass Vogt's Jewelers, which as of November 2013, is closed.
The obit below is slightly incorrect; the Vogt's did not live in the carriage house behind 1509 Hamilton, as there was none, but they lived on the first floor of 1509 for certain in their later years. I believe the bracket information was not in the original obituary but were added by a contributor - this version appeared on Rootsweb.
Also, when I finally read the obituary, I was surprised because I thought he had a grown son and he did not. Mr. Vogt had given me a beautiful Asian doll on a stand - she was in satin regalia, white faced and beautiful. I recall with certainty he'd gotten it from someone serving in Vietnam, but rather than his non-existent son, I am suspecting it may have been his nephew, Barry.
Interestingly, the obit mentions his involvement in a program to provide seeing eye dogs for servicepersons; I believe Mr. Vogt himself had eye trouble. My child's memory of him is of him having one eye noticeably different, bulgier, than the other. Perhaps he had a service eye injury or a false eye.
Lastly, it mentions his purchase of the Dime Bank Savings Building. It was a purchase by a man with a good eye for a historic building, and it was only 45 years old when Mr. Vogt purchased it. An example of Art Deco work, it is now on the National Register of Historic Places, placed there 15 years after Mr. Vogt bought it. With the construction of a new hockey arena in downtown Allentown, the Dime Savings Building is one of the few that has survived the wrecking ball as Allentown tries to revitalize its downtown. It is expected to be incorporated as part of the arena itself, probably as the lobby for a 200-room hotel that will be attached to the arena. Its two-story foyer, once the main banking area, will house the front desk and upper floors will include offices and meeting space for the arena operators.
15 Jan 1970:
Services for Charles C. Vogt, retired Allentown jeweler, will be at 9 a.m. Monday in the J. S. Burkholder Funeral Home, 1601 Hamilton St., Allentown. viewing will be 7 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday.
Services by the Greenleaf Lodge 561, F&AM will be at 8:15 p. m. Sunday. Vogt, 69, of 1509 Hamilton St., [He and Ethel actually lived in the carriage house behind the large home at 1509 Hamilton St. and their real address according to the city directory was 28 North Fulton St.] Charles operated Vogt's Jewelry Store from 1930 until 1955, when he turned the business over to his brother, the late Frederick Vogt. Vogt died yesterday morning in his home. The store has been located at 826 Hamilton St., since 1904. His father had founded it two years earlier at 441 Turner St. Earlier, beginning in 1923, he ran "The Write Shop", a business for repairing fountain pens, which was part of the jewelry store. While serving in the Army during World War I, Vogt's boat the "Otranto" was torpedoed and he was rescued. A year ago, he returned to England and revisited sites he had known during the war when he was with the 57th Army Artillery. Vogt purchased the historical "Dime Bank Building" along Allentown's Center Square in 1945 for $150,000. The retired jeweler also was Lehigh County chairman of the National Breeding Committee during World War II. He distributed dogs to local families which in turn became seeing eye dogs for blind servicemen discharged after the war. He was a charter member of Park & Shop, Inc. Vogt was born in Harrisburg, the son of the late Charles C. and Gertrude A. Ochs Vogt. Vogt graduated from Allen High School in 1917 and from Lehigh University. Surviving with his widow, the former Ethel M. Hersh, is a sister, Kathleen, wife of Frank Powell of Cape Coral, Fl Interment Gettysburg National Cemetery, Gettysburg.
I had found that Mr. Vogt was the grandson of Augustus (a paperhanger from Prussia) and Mary Vogt, who had a son Charles C. Vogt (a jeweler), who was my friend's father. That father, Charles married Gertrude Ochs, who was related to the Ochs family that my father's family business would work with via the Jacoby & Everett connection, where Robert E. Ochs would be a later partner. Charles C. Vogt Sr and his wife Gertrude Ochs Vogt are buried in the Ochs plot at Fairview Cemetery in Allentown where Robert is interred. Gertrude was the daughter of Tilghman J. Ochs. Robert E. Ochs was the son of Milton, who was a son of Tilghman.
A sidenote: Charles Sr. is mentioned as a speaker in the Allentown Leader of April 23, 1910 at a YMCA turkey dinner to honor the basketball team. He spoke on the value of athletics and reminisced of games of the past at the Y.
From South Whitehall Patch:
By Jack Tobias
Vogt's Jewelers, which has been in greater Allentown since 1903, is going out of business because longtime owners Barry and Penny Vogt are retiring, according to a company email sent to customers.
For about 25 years, Vogt's has been at 3025 Tilghman St. in South Whitehall Township, just west of the Allentown line. Before that, the store was a fixture in downtown Allentown.
"After 110 years of successful business, with the last five decades under our management brings us to our mid-seventies and the difficult decision that it is time to retire," the Vogts write in the email, signed by Barry and Penny and their daughter, Trell.
The email also says, "Our daughter, Trell, will be refocusing her time on her family."
The store will be holding a "going out of business sale" Wednesday through Saturday, according to the email. "Going out of business" signs are posted on the outside of the store.
A phone recording said the store was closed Monday and Tuesday to prepare for the sale.
Vogt's website says the following under the category "about us:"
"Vogt's Jewelers was founded by Charles Vogt Sr. in 1903 and is now a 3rd generation jeweler currently owned by Barry and Penny Vogt. Their daughter, Trell, has been involved in the business full time for 20 years.
"Whether it is a watch battery or education on buying a diamond, we believe in servicing our customers from the moment they are introduced to us to well into the future. We also believe in building relationships with our customers so we can better understand their needs.
"Vogt's Jewelers has been built on trust, integrity and value and we uphold these standards every day. The reality that we have customers in over 22 states, and the vast majority of our clientele come to us through recommendations and not advertisements, is what fuels our daily dedication and we are proud to be a Lehigh Valley Tradition for Over 110 Years.
Vogt's had relocated to South Whitehall from downtown Allentown about 25 years ago.
From the Vogt website:
January 5, 2004 Kurt Blumenau
At Vogt's Jewelers of South Whitehall Township, this isn't just the start of a new year but the start of a new century.
"It is our lives, and it's our passion," she said. "I would hope that comes across to customers, that we care." Vogt's, founded in 1903 in Allentown, is a rare thing in business: a family-owned company that has stayed in the family, and successful, for 100 years. Third-generation owners Barry and Penny Vogt run the store today, and their daughter, Trell Vogt-Dikeman, is poised to take over in a few years.
It hasn't always been easy. Jewelry is a crowded market, and earning a reputation takes time. Barry and Penny Vogt also made the difficult decision about 15 years ago to move out of downtown Allentown, the city that nurtured and supported the shop but was visibly on the decline.
"In order for Vogt's to continue to survive, we had to do something else, and this was the decision," Barry Vogt said. "It was very tough."
Then again, members of the Vogt family have been making difficult business decisions for 100 years, starting with Barry's grandfather, Charles Vogt Sr.
Charles Sr. worked for established Allentown jeweler J.H. Massey, earning a reputation for watch repair, engraving and goldsmithing. But he wanted to build his own business and legacy, his descendants said.
So he broke away and opened his own store at 441 Turner St., Allentown, offering a small line of jewelry, watches and watch repair. Through the years, Vogt's moved to locations on Tilghman and Hamilton streets, always remaining a one-store company.
The store flourished and expanded. Sons Charles Jr. and Frederick joined in 1922 and 1925 respectively, bringing a line of fountain pens into the business. Control passed to Charles Jr., then to Frederick, then to Frederick's wife, Helen, after his death in 1965.
Helen and Frederick's son Barry stepped up then to help his mother manage the company. He decided late in high school to give the family business a try and spent time at technical school, college and in the Marine Reserves before joining full-time.
It turned out to be the right choice. In recognition of his success and longevity, the Pennsylvania Jewelers Association trade group named him Jeweler of the Year two years ago. The group gives the award to honor jewelers with good business practices, strong reputations and long service, according to Executive Director Karen Fanelli.
Barry's arrival brought wife Penny into the family company as well. She became a "major force" in the store's growth, serving as its unofficial information technology expert, Barry said.
The store takes orders online, which lets the Vogts keep in touch with customers outside the Lehigh Valley they rarely, if ever, see. The store's customer list has 11,000 names, the Vogts say.
Barry Vogt likes to tell the story of a Brown University student whose father was friendly with a Vogt's supplier. On the supplier's advice, the son came to Vogt's to buy an engagement ring for his girlfriend. After seeing the ring, some of the student's teammates on the Brown swim team ordered their own jewelry from Vogt's. Several became return customers.
"Some of them I've never even met," Barry Vogt said. "We've made up a lot of custom things for them." Online ordering is one of many services Charles Vogt Sr. might never have imagined.
The store employs 12 people, offering in-house appraisals, pearl stringing and custom jewelry design, as well as designs and products from outside companies. The Vogts want to expand the custom, one-of-a-kind business, Trell Vogt-Dikeman said.
The company does not release sales numbers, but the Vogts say it is comfortably profitable. Trell joined the store, like her father, through a circuitous path. She decided to give the business a try in 1992 after earning a degree in fashion design.
"It was supposed to be transitional," she said. "And now, it's become part of my life." The family doesn't have a clear timeline for the transition to a fourth generation. Barry, who is 63, gives himself and Penny, 59, "a few more years" until retirement.
But Barry, Penny and Trell agree on the store's direction, such as keeping Vogt's a one-store company. Part of the company's success, Trell said, comes from the fact that a customer can always walk in and talk to a Vogt. That connection couldn't be maintained with a second store, she said.
A move back to Allentown is also not in the cards, though Barry said the downtown has changed for the better since 1991. Barry and Penny live in the city, while Trell lives in Emmaus.
"They're making progress in changing the environment down there," he said. "[A move back] is not in any of our future plans. We're very happy with our location here."
Trell said she also plans to maintain the service and commitment the Vogts say have always been key to their business.
"It is our lives, and it's our passion," she said. "I would hope that comes across to [customers], that we care."
Vogt's And Halloween November 14, 1989|The Morning Call
To the Editor:
Hearing that Vogt's Jewelry Store, for three generations a Hamilton Street landmark, is moving to the outskirts of the city, caused me to wonder if some of your readers would be interested to know that my father, who founded the business, liked to involve the store in the town's Halloween festivities.
Halloween was a great event in Allentown 75 years ago when I was a little girl. The whole town turned out for the great parade and high jinks on Hamilton Street.
My father, Charles C. Vogt Sr., had both a lively interest in civic affairs and a prankish disposition. He liked to see people have fun.
On Halloween, he put the fine diamonds and top quality watches (the only merchandise he had a taste for) away in the vault. Then he and my mother covered the display cases with sheets and heaped on them popcorn, candy corn, pretzels and apples to refresh anyone who wanted to come in. Cider was dispensed in paper cups from behind the counters and almost as much Mardi Gras fun took place inside the plain, narrow little store as outside on the street.
Kathleen Vogt Powell
Cape Coral, Fla.
There is a book telling the story of Mr. Vogt's wartime ship entitled "Many Were Held by the Sea: The Tragic Sinking of HMS Otranto" and here is the description of it from Google Books:
Many Were Held by the Sea: The Tragic Sinking of HMS Otranto by R. Neil Scott, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Jun 18, 2012 - History - 288 pages
At 8:43 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, October 6, 1918, HMS Kashmir rammed HMS Otranto off Islay, Scotland. Both ships were former British passenger liners from the P&O Steamship Company that had been pulled into the war to ferry American soldiers between New York and various British ports. On this stormy morning, however, they were part of Convoy HX-50 carrying troops to Liverpool. On board were 372 British officers and sailors and 701 American soldiers. The Americans were mostly Southern farm boys from Fort Screven in Savannah under the command of Lt. Sam Levy, a Georgia Tech graduate from Atlanta.
The Kashmir managed to back away and follow the harsh wartime order that required her to ignore any maritime disasters that might befall her sister ships and to continue on her prescribed course rather than stop and take on survivors. Thus it was that — with winds blowing at 70 to 75 mph and waves at more than 60 feet—the severely damaged Otranto was left dead in the water with more than a thousand souls aboard.
"Many Were Held by the Sea: The Tragic Sinking of HMS Otranto", tells the story of what happened during that voyage—mostly from the perspective of the American soldiers—and builds to the disastrous conclusion. The narrative details the courage of the young men on board, men who, for the most part, had never seen the ocean or learned to swim. It tells of the anguish from the home front, as family members had to wait weeks to learn the fate of their relatives. In addition, Scott's narrative tells the personal story of Lieutenant Craven of the Royal Navy, serving as Commander of the rescue ship, who was forced to gamble with the lives of those on both ships in order to save the maximum number of passengers.