William Bird (about 1706-1761)
William Bird was born in Hopewell, East New Jersey, now known as Raritan, Somerset County, New Jersey.
By 1740 William Bird had established his Birdsboro Iron Works on the West Branch of Hay Creek, where it empties into the Schuylkill River. In 1744 he built the "Bird Manor House" out of brownstone adjacent to his Birdsboro Forge and Birdsboro water grist mills. By 1751 William Bird had finished the "Bird Mansion" and layout out the site for a town around it. This town became known as Birdsboro. In 1752 Berks County was formed out of Philadelphia, Chester and Lancaster Counties.
In 1753, He was instrumental in establishing the St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church for his workers at Birdsboro Furnace. It was located in the old building used by the Swedish Lutheran Congregation, in Morlatton, now Douglassville, Berks County.
Some properties owned by William Bird - Hopewell Iron Works, Birdsboro Iron Works, Upper, Middle and Lower Pine Forges; Sands Forge; Roxborough Furnace; over 8,000 acres of land located mostly in what is now Union Township and the rest in Robeson Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania. The Bird Mansion, with financial aid from the Brooke Family and public subscribers, became a Community Memorial Hall in 1919. In honor of the local Veterans of World War I. In the 1930's it was made a "Community Memorial" and the new Y.M.C.A. building. William Bird's Mansion is located in Birdsboro, Pa. and still is used as a Community Center.
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(On November 16, 1761, Ironmaster, William Bird died. According to his Obituary Notice, in the Pennsylvania Gazette: "William Bird Esq., died November 16, 1761, of apoplexy, in his town home in Reading, Berks County, PA.". William was buried at Saint Gabriel's Episcopal Church Cemetery in Morlatton, (now Douglassville), Amity Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania. William was one of the founding members of this church. His gravestone reads: "In Memory of William Bird, Esq., who departed this life November 16th , 1761, Aged 55 years."
William Bird was a native of Ireland according to his widow Bridget Hulings Bird. The Rev. Carl Magnus Wrangel visited in her home only a few months after her husband's death. Wrangel wrote of the visit in his daybook which was translated from the original Swedish by Dick Hulan.
Source: Lutheran Quarterly, v. 10, 1996, p. 407+
Hulan, Richard, "Swedish Provost Carl Magnus Wrangel Visits Manatawny in 1762"
Copied March 14, 1764
Extract from my day-book, concerning the trip to and visit at Manathany in June 1762:... As our remote Swedes at Manathany on various trips to me at Wicaco, Philadelphia, solicited a visit by some minister, therefore I resolved in the Lord's name to go up there myself that summer ... [The 8th early in the morning I left in the company of an ironmaster from Manathany named Pattin] At twelve o'clock we crossed the River Manathany (after which the place is called) and then over the River Schulkihl which also flows by here. At two o'clock in the afternoon we reached Mrs. Bird's house. This is the widow of an ironmaster, who was by descent an Irelander, but she was born of Swedish parents by the name of Hullings. Here I was received with much affection. I was amazed to hear this lady speak good Swedish, although she had been married for twenty years and during that time had as good as no practice in Swedish. Her husband was very poor when he arrived in the country and had to let himself be sold for some years to pay for his transportation; but as he possessed a natural quickness and a good education, he became first, inspector at an ironworks; and then, by diligence and good conduct, the owner of a large ironworks which he built himself and left at his death an estate of 12,000 pounds. He also left a very good name and was universally missed ..."