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Henry William Stiegel

ironmaster, glassmaker
Born: 5/13/1729
Birthplace: Cologne, Germany

He emigrated to Philadelphia in 1750, and established iron forges in Lancaster and Berks Counties, Pennsylvania. Profits from the business enabled him in 1762 to buy huge amounts of land, on which he designed and built the town of Manheim in Lancaster County. Two years later he began work on a glass factory, having already made plate glass at one of the iron forges. He imported glassblowers from Venice, England, and Germany to produce glass tableware. Though none of the pieces was signed, his use of color, including high-quality blue, green, and purple, became his signature. A notorious spendthrift, Stiegel had three fully staffed mansions, and paid a band to play music from a rooftop to announce his comings and goings in his elaborate carriage, complete with its four servants. When the economy turned sour in the face of the impending American Revolutionary War, Stiegel went bankrupt and was imprisoned in 1774 for debt. Upon his release, he worked as a foreman in one of his former forges, then worked as a preacher, schoolteacher, and music tutor. He had "sold" some of his land in Manheim to the Zion Lutheran Church in exchange for five shillings and a yearly payment of a rose. Since 1892, the church has observed its annual “Ceremony of the Payment of the Rose Day.”

Died: 1/10/1785

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