Bissinger Tragedy by the Canal

Philip Bissinger was a very well-known man in Reading in the the late part of the 1800's but most of the biographies from the area leave out a very important part of his life story.

Heavily involved with the music scene in Reading, Philip was also well-known for the Bissinger Cafe on Penn Street, which he sold to Wellington Krick in 1895. Later he became interested in the brewing industry and was President of the Reading Brewing Company. But perhaps of most interest to us is his distinction of being the husband of the woman who drowned herself and her three children in the Union Canal on August 17, 1875. The article below provides details about what happened.

Steubenville, Ohio - Steuebenville Daily Herald And News - 08/23/1875

"The Bissinger Tragedy - Funeral of the Victims - Attempt to Mob The Husband

Reading , Pa., August 21 -

There was great excitement here at the funeral of Mrs. Bissinger and her children, drowned Tuesday last. It seems from stories of the people that the woman had lived unhappily with her husband, owing to the introduction by him of another woman in to the house, and that unhappiness resulted in a quarrel Monday, when the husband ordered his wife to leave the house and take the the two girls with her, while he would retain the boy. The next day she went to the canal with the children and after filling a basket with stones, in which operation the children assisted, she bound the basket securely to her body, and taking the children in her arms, leaped in to the canal, and all were drowned. As soon as the bodies were recovered and taken to their former home, the police had to guard the house to save the husband from assault, and at the funeral procession to-day, which included about one thousand persons on foot, surrounded his carriage. When the bodies were lowered into the graves, the people hooted Bissinger, and made a rush for him. In the confusion one shot was fired, when the police hurriedly placed him in a carriage and drove off, on passing the cemetery gates, another, which , it is thought, wounded him, as he was carried into the house. The police are still on guard, and the people, including many women, continue their threats."