PHILIP LA BARRE, the founder of the slate industry in Bangor, Pennsylvania, was descended from Huguenot ancestors who were forced by religious persecution to fly from their native land. They found a refuge in the new world, the first member of the family concerning whom we have an authentic record being Daniel La Barre, who was a farmer in Upper Mount Bethel. He married Elizabeth Hess, and they were the parents of the following children, all of whom became good and loyal citizens: Conrad, mentioned at length hereinafter Henry, William, Sarah, Susan, Rebecca, and Charles.
Conrad La Barre, son of Daniel and Elizabeth (Hess) La Barre, was born in Upper Mount Bethel township. He was a shoemaker by trade, and a superior workman. He married Hannah Stone, of Upper Mount Bethel, and their family consisted of twelve children, ten of whom grew to maturity, namely : Peggy A. Reuben, Philip, mentioned at length hereinafter: Mary, Daniel, Jeremiah. Josiah. John C.. Jesse. and Abraham. Of this number Mary, Daniel, Josiah, and John C. are living. Mr. La Barre, the father of this large family, lived to an advanced age and died respected by all who knew him.
Philip La Barre, son of Conrad and Hannah (Stone) La Barre, was born in 1832, on the old homestead, in Upper Mount Bethel. In 1850 he moved to Uttsville, afterwards named New Village, now known as Bangor, and purchased the farm upon which is situated the “old Bangor quarry.” He was also the owner of another farm in Upper Mount Bethel. In addition to his agricultural labors, which he prosecuted with energy and success, he plied in winter the trade of a cooper and in summer engaged in the manufacture of bricks. He was a man of versatile talents, and never lost an opportunity of enlarging his sphere of action. In 1866 he opened the Old Bangor Quarry, situated in what was then known as New Village Postoffice; known now as the borough of Bangor, the borough having taken its name from this quarry. After operating the quarry for a short time, he disposed of it on advantageous terms to Dr Scholl and Messrs. Samuel Straub and R. M. Jones. He subsequently built the American Hotel, of which he was for several years the proprietor. In sinking a well on this property he discovered, by a singular coincidence, another vein of slate, which he developed into the “Washington quarry.” While in all respects a stirring business man, Mr. La Barre never allowed himself to become unmindful of his obligations as a citizen. He was warmly interested in everything relating to the public welfare, and consented to serve in several borough offices, among them those of tax collector, member of council, street supervisor, and others. He sought to advance the real estate interests of the city, and was the builder and owner of nearly all the houses situated in Washington street. He was a member of the Lutheran church. to the support of which he contributed largely. He was, more-over, a liberal donor to all the churches of Bangor, his benevolence not being limited by denominational boundaries.
Mr. La Barre married, in 1862, Sophia Gulick, and the following children were born to them: 1. Angelina: 2. Lizzie J. ; 3. Mary C.; 4. James U.; 5. Luther E.; 6. Carrie B.; 7. Rose L. ; 8. William F.; 9. Gertrude M.; 10. Charles E.; 11. Clark P. Mrs. La Barre, the mother of these children. was a daughter of John and Susan Gulick, natives of Monroe county, Pennsylvania. They moved to Washington township, Northampton county, where Mr. Gulick engaged in farming. About 1843 he removed to Bangor, and spent the autumn of his life in retirement. Both he and his wife were members of the Presbyterian church. He was known as the largest contributor towards the building of the Presbyterian church of Bangor, and was also a very liberal contributor to the support of that church and its ministry up to the time of his death. The family of Mr. and Mrs. Gulick consisted of the following children: James, who was the originator and owner of the machine shop, the business now being conducted in Bangor and known as the S. Florey Manufacturing Company. James died during the summer of 1904, buried in Elmyra; Sophia, mentioned above as the wife of Philip La Barre; Phebe, who became the wife of the Rev. Philip Houck; Lizzie, wife of S. E. Delp, who was postmaster of Bangor for many years; Martha, wife of C. W. Miller. In 1882 Mr. La Barre and his children sustained an irreparable loss in the death of the wife and mother, whose manv estimable qualities had greatly endeared her to a large circle of friends. She was a consistent member of the Presbyterian church up to the time of her death.
The death of Mr. La Barre, which occurred in 1888, at the comparatively early age of fifty-six, was mourned by the whole community, his labors in the development of the slate industry having caused him to be regarded as a public benefactor. He was loved and respected by all as a large-hearted philanthropist whose charity included all righteous and worthy enterprises, and as a man who was ever a true and helpful friend to all who were brought within the circle of his influence.
Angelina mentioned above, eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. La Barre. was born and educated in Bangor. In 1889 she became the wife of J. W. Heller, and four children have been born to them. Of these, two are now living, namely: Harley and Blanche. Mrs. Heller is possessed of remarkable executive ability, and served for several years as assistant postmaster to S. E. Delp. She also served as organist in both Lutheran and Evangelical churches for years, and was also a teacher in the public schools.
From the History of Northampton County Pennsylvania and The Grand Valley of the Lehigh under the supervision and revision of William J. Heller, 1920, published by the American Historical Society of Boston, New York and Chicago. Pages 372-373.