Answered By: Rebecca Hopman Last Updated: Jan 09, 2017 Views: 140
William Henry Stiegel, born in Cologne (c.1729), immigrated to the United States with his mother and brother in 1750. He first worked in Philadelphia for Charles and Alexander Stedman, then joined Jacob Huber, an ironworker in northern Lancaster County, PA, at Elizabeth Furnace (named for Huber's daughter, Elizabeth). Stiegel married Elizabeth, and soon bought Huber out. He continued to produce iron products, but experimented with blowing bottles and window glass. He also purchased and ran Charming Forge (this forge produced iron products).
In 1762, Stiegel and the Stedman brothers founded Manheim, PA. There, in 1763/1764, Steigel built his first glassworks (eventually called the American Flint Glass Manufactory). At first he produced bottles and window glass, but later built a larger glassworks and expanded production to a wide range of scientific and practical household items. These items were often enameled or engraved, and were so similar to glass produced in Europe that it was sometimes difficult to distinguish which products were his. His glass, along with pieces like it, is now known as "Stiegel-type" glass.
Stiegel ran into problems with debt in 1774, and was forced to abandon his businesses. After a short stint in jail (for his debts), he traveled to Elizabeth Furnace, then Charming Forge. When forced to relinquish these properties as well, Stiegel spent the remaining years of his life dependent on relatives, finding employment as a teacher or work at iron furnaces. He died in 1785.
Despite his end, Stiegel's life and glass took on legend-like qualities. Known as 'Baron' Stiegel during the height of his wealth and power, his origin story was embellished by admirers and his glass became coveted. He is remembered in Manheim as the founder of the town, and for renting land to the local Lutheran church for "five shillings" and thereafter the yearly rent of "One Red Rose."
The Corning Museum of Glass has a number of glass objects made by Stiegel and his employees, as well as some "Stiegel-type" glass. Find those objects here (or by searching the glass collection for "Stiegel"). The Library holds a number of books, articles, A/V materials about Stiegel and his glass. I have attached a bibliography on the subject, and you can find many of those items here (or by searching the library collection for "Stiegel"). You are welcome to use the interlibrary loan service at your local library to request materials. See our policies here. I have also attached a record of the land indentures concerning Stiegel at this Library and in other collections.