Tuesday, March 29, 2011

An old receipt from F.W. Behler

Here's an old receipt that I acquired recently at the fabulous York Emporium.

The receipt is written out to Mr. R. Wm. Ziegler in account with F.W. Behler, a business in York, Pennsylvania. It is dated December 7, 1907.1 Mr. Ziegler acquired one enameled sink for $13.00 and one spigot for $1.25, for a total bill of $14.25.2

F.W. Behler, which was founded in 1900, is still going strong in York County. It even has a Facebook page.

The 1907 receipt states that company was a "Plumber and Gas Fitter, Tin and Sheet Iron Worker." Roofing and spouting were specialties, and it was a dealer in ranges and furnaces. Today, F.W. Behler advertises itself as offering "full sales & service for plumbing, heating, air conditioning & solar."

In 1907, F.W. Behler had its office at 533 West Princess Street in York and its shop at the rear of 473 West Market Street -- where it's still located today.

Here is some additional background on F.W. Behler excerpted from a 2000 article published by the York Daily Record/York Sunday News:3
Founded in 1900, it was established in Jefferson by Franklin Washington Behler. In 1906, Behler and his wife bought their dream home in York and relocated the business. It has been there ever since. Franklin Behler eventually passed the business to his son, Herb Behler Sr. After World War II, Franklin Behler's grandsons, Herb and Scott Behler, entered the family business. They ran the business from 1950 until 1985, when they retired. David Yates bought the business from the brothers in 1985 and has been in control ever since.
And what of the man who paid $14.25 for a sink and spigot 103 years ago? A little research found a couple of items that could refer to him:

1. The January 1896 issue of the American Journal of Pharmacy lists "R. Wm. Ziegler" as the "preceptor" (teacher or mentor) of Paul Herbert Gross of York, who was a member of the senior class that year at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy.

2. In 1906 or 1907, "R. Wm. Ziegler" signed a petition asking the Pennsylvania legislature that proper resolutions be passed recognizing the service of the York Rifle Company.

And, with that, I hope we can say that today's entry has everything AND the kitchen sink.

April 11 addendum
Read more about F.W. Behler's history, straight from current owner David Yates, in this post.

1. One day before, December 6, 1907, was the date of the Monongah (West Virginia) mine disaster, an explosion that claimed the lives of at least 362 workers (including children) and is the worst mining disaster in American history.
2. Today, a low-end, drop-in sink might cost as little as $50, while a sink that's top-of-the-line could cost as much as $1,200.
3. Where I have worked as an editor since October 2000.


  1. It is the everyday minutia that helps us to connect and gives us context. Thanks for posting this, Chris. And thanks too, for the research and the background. Nice job, sir!

  2. Interesting find. F.W. Behler was a distant cousin of mine, although I do not have much on him in my family research. F.W.'s uncle, Elias Behler, is my 2nd great-grandfather, and a Civil War veteran. I have my grandparents photograph collection, and am wondering if any of the old unidentified photographs are of F.W.?

    Thanks for sharing this, and if you ever scan this document in high-quality format, I would love to obtain a copy for my records.