Diller Wierman Inc.
The East coast holds the oldest and richest heritage of anywhere in the United States. It is the sight of the Boston Tea Party and Plymouth Rock. It’s where the first cities were built and it is where the Diller Wierman Co. was established more than 200 years ago. Diller Wierman is the oldest plumbing company found in the United States. And not only has it been in business since 1779, it is run today by the founder’s great-great-great-great-grandson, Michael Bargelt with the help on his son, Matthew, who hold the PM title for “most generations of shoes to fill.”
It all started in 1765 when 25 year old Michael Bargelt came to this country from Germany. In 1770 he crossed the Susquahanna River and settled in what would eventually be known as Hanover, Pa. There wasn’t much habitation there – or anywhere – in those days. Dense hickory forests covered the land that was then known as McAllister’s Town, named after the farmer who first settled it. There were only 35 homes in the city limits and Indian attacks were a common threat. McAllister’s Town was a trading center back then, where craftsmen could supply farmers and town’s people with all the necessities.
Folklore says Bargelt built a small log cabin, without doors or a chimney, on the site of St. Matthews Church on West Chestnut Street. He lived there until 1777, when he and his wife bought lot 15 on Carlisle Street, in the original plan of Hanover; from Colonel Richard McAllister. The deed specified Bargelt must build a house within two years, of log, stone or brick whose dimensions were not less than 18 feet square with a brick chimney at the rear. He paid 50 pounds, Pennsylvania currency which was the equivalent of $150.
Bargelt built a house of brick and worked from there as a carpenter. Two years later he and his eight year old son Jacob, began operations fabricating copper stills – most of which were used to make whiskey. They worked this way for many years and in 1811, Jacob purchased the home/business from his father for $900.
Jacob continued working as a coppersmith and tinner until 1830 when his son John succeeded him in the business. Like his father and grandfather, John also stayed with the business until retirement, handing it down to his son Louis.
Louis and his father were partners in the company for many years. By then, the businesses services had expanded to include plumbing, heating and oil burning installations – a sign of the changing needs of the nation. Together they worked from the brick home at 34 Carlisle St. where both men had been born. Louis continued there alone after his father’s retirement in 1885.
In the years that followed, Louis served in the Civil War for the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteers, and was engaged in the battle at Gettysberg. His name appears on the Tablet of his regiment on the Pennsylvania Monument on the historic field.
Two years prior to his death in 1912, his son George joined the business. Louis worked until the day he died and then George, following the footsteps of tradition, took over the business. He ran it alone until 1928 when he was killed in an automobile accident, and the task of keeping the company going fell to his wife Emma and their daughter Jeanne. The two women kept the company afloat in an era that frowned on a woman in any business, especially plumbing. But two years later they were forced to let go of more than a century of history and sell Bargelt & Son.
Newspaper headlines shouted “Bargelt Business to Change Hands; Plumbing Establishment Conducted by the Same Family for 151 Years is Sold to Diller P. Wierman.” It was the first break in the ancestral line since Michael Bargelt started the company, building whiskey stills in an era when outhouses were a luxury.
But, the ancestral line was destined to be repaired and so it was when Jeanne Bargelt married Diller Wierman, returning the business to its ancestral blood line. Jeanne was a Hood College graduate and worked in the business with her husband for many years. They stayed at the Carlisle house until 1947, when they built a new building in the company’s present location, 20-24 Park Ave. During that same year the firm was incorporated as Diller Wierman Inc.
In 1958 Jeanne and Diller’s son, Michael Bargelt Wieman, became a partner in the business. Diller remained active in the company until his death in 1986 at the age of 83. Michael Wierman was also active in the business until his death in 1998. Hazel Wierman retired in 1999 and is no longer active in the business. Matthew Diller Wierman currently owns/operates the business and has been at the company since 1985 (29 years).