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THOMAS J. KOCH, the late merchant prince, and sole proprietor of the Koch Brothers clothing store and Hotel Allen building; was born at Kuhnsville, August 8, 1859, and departed this life, February 10, 1915. He attended the district school and later the Millersville Normal School. At the age of fifteen he entered the employ of his brother, Frank W. Koch, and Wilson W. Shankweiler, who organized the new firm of Koch & Shankweiler. When this firm decided to enlarge its first location at 618 Hamilton Street, they bought and erected the present Hotel Allen building, using the upper floors as a hotel and the first floor as their clothing store. It was at this period that Thomas J. Koch was made a member of the firm. After the death of Mr. Shankweiler in 1886, the firm name was changed to Koch Brothers. On July 1, 1906, Frank W. Koch, while en route to London, England, was killed, and Thomas J. Koch later purchased his brother's interest and became sole proprietor. On January 1, 1907, Mr. Koch connected with himself a number of his faithful employees and inaugurated a system by means of which every employee would share in the business. Mr. Koch was a lover of travel, which took him to almost every part of the globe. He served as a trustee of Muhlenberg College and the Allentown Hospital. He was one of the organizers of Christ Lutheran Church. He was a prominent and active member of the Livingston Club, the Lehigh Country Club and the Chamber of Commerce. Not only was he a successful banker, having been an organizer and vice president of the Merchants National Bank, but was also a stockholder in the National Silk Dyeing Company and the Pennsylvania Trojan Powder Company. The new firm of Koch Brothers today consists of the Messrs. Willis E. Kuhns, Harry W. Jordan, John T. Ritter, Samuel T. Kuhns, Samuel Ritter and Ellwood J. Kuhns.
Men of Allentown by Fred L. Shankweiler, 1917.