Bernard P. Wisser (1905-1993)

Above: Bernard P. Wisser at his familiar place behind the butcher’s block at the market he owned on Route 378 in Bethlehem.

Born in 1905, Bernard Peter Wisser was the last born child (or caboose, as he referred to himself) of Edward and Theresa Wisser.  His older siblings were named Joseph, Mary, Alfred, Matilda and george.   Bernard was born in the house at 431 Tilghman St. where his parents, Edward and Theresa Wisser conducted a grocery store for about ten years.  About 5 years later, the family moved to a farm on Seidersville road in Bethlehem.  Bernard would live here during the rest of his formative years.  He told stories of his youth trapping animals and selling the pelts for spending money.  Another  favorite story about his younger days was how a Saturday night in Allentown cost him a quarter.  The outlay of funds was distributed thusly: 5¢ for the trolley from Ackers Hotel to Allentown, 5¢ for the picture show at the nickelodeon, 10¢ for an ice cream sundae and 5¢ for the return trolley ride.

Bernard’s first job was running a machine in a factory.  But soon he would learn the butcher trade which would be the career he would follow the rest of his working life.  It was at American Stores that he would learn this trade, eventually becoming manager of the South Bethlehem store.  He also plied his trade at an establishment known as Parker’s Fancy Foods in Bethlehem.  On 25 June 1929 Bernard married Isabel Martin of Fountain Hill.  Isabel was the daughter of Jack, a steelworker and Madge Martin.  Isabel was working as a stenographer at Bethlehem Steel when the two met.  They lived at 424 Pawnee St.


Bernard and Isabel Wisser            1930 Census

Bernard and Isabel Wisser
1930 Census

In August of 1932, they would experience the birth of their only child, Bernard Martin Wisser.

Above: Isabel and son, Bernard M. Wisser

In 1941, Bernard, Isabel and young Bernard moved into the home of Madge Martin at 719 Broadway in Fountain Hill in order to take care of the ailing and now widowed Madge.  Later they would come to reside at the farm Edward and Theresa had owned.  For years it was a familiar sight to see Bernard P. feeding his animals which included a herd of ponies which numbered as many as thirty, Nubian goats and a flock of Shropshire sheep, for which the farm was named.

Above: The house at Shropshire Farm circa 1948

In the early 1950s Bernard P. opened Wisser’s Market on Route 378 in Bethlehem.  Here he continued to ply his trade as a butcher.  The store was quite successful and Bernard P. operated it until his retirement some twenty years later. 

Above: Wisser’s Market

Bernard P. was a member of the Lions Club in Hellertown for many years.  He and Isabel were members of Holy Ghost parish in Bethlehem.  Isabel died in June of 1969, and Bernard P. in November of 1993 after a long convalescence as the result of a stroke.

Isabel and Bernard

Bernard and friend

Newlyweds Bernard and Isabel

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