Biographical Information

The following information was taken from Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania Biography, which generally portayed its subjects in a favorable light. The charicature, however, portrays another view.


During the late 1800’s, developer Henry R. Shoch built more than 4,000 homes for the middle class in the 28th and 29th Wards of Philadelphia, contributing to the city’s moniker as the “City of Homes”. Some of these homes still stand. Shoch was born September 16, 1844 in Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania. Henry was the son of James Ray Shoch, a farmer, and Mary Ann (Thornton) Shoch. The first sixteen years of his life were spent on the farm and at the local public schools. At 17, Henry set out for the big city and took a job as an apprentice to his uncle Joseph D. Thornton, who taught him the carpentry and building trades. This interest would last him through his later years and ultimately be his legacy. Involved in the real-estate business on a large scale, and possessing a certain skill with handling money, Henry R. Shoch soon became a self-made man. In addition to his real estate adventures he also worked as Treasurer of the Automobile Sales Corporation, Director of the Tenth National Bank, and Director of the Commonwealth Trust Company. From an early he age he established himself as a Republican and was very active in local politics, representing the 29th Ward in the Select Council, then after its division, representing the 47th Ward until he resigned in 1903. Shoch also served one term as City Treasurer and was a leading candidate for Mayor in 1906.

source: Men of Affairs: The Philadelphia Item. Philadelphia, PA, 1907

Shoch was also an active member in several social clubs. He was affiliated with the Masonic Order and Knights Templar, belonged to the Trades League, the Union League and the Belmont, Driving and Columbia Clubs. He and his wife, Sarah E. Myers, also belonged to the Baptist Church. Shoch was also a collector of fine art, enjoyed driving fast – once holding the record with the Belmont Driving Club, and was an avid fisherman – spending his winters in Florida so that he could catch the big fish. Henry R. Shoch and Sarah E. Myers had three children: Nettie A., Bessie C. and James Ray. Henry R. Shoch died February 10, 1917, leaving a legacy of a kind-spirited man, always with his heart and hand extended to those less fortunate.

source: Montgomery, Thomas Lynch. Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania Biography vol. XV. Lewis Historical Publishing Co., New York, 1924.