November 7, 1889: Boys Playing with Fire Ends in Painful Death for Harry Heimbach


By Margaret Leidy Harner from her book One Day at a Time: A Social History of Boyertown, PA

November 7, 1889: Another shocking accident: The ten-year-old son of William Wolfgang was playing with his friend Harry Heimbach near the quarry in Morysville, when they entered the powder house.

Being kids, they took some powder out of an opened can, filled a cap with it and set it on fire. Sparks flew into the open container, causing a dreadful explosion that was heard for miles away. Young Wolfgang was horribly burned on his head, shoulders and back, which was charred almost to a crisp.

Heimbach was not hurt in the blast, but in his endeavors to tear the flaming clothing off his injured companion, he received painful burns to his hands. In distress, Wolfgang frantically jumped into a nearby pool of water.

Hearing the explosion, his father ran to see what had happened and found his son floundering about in the water. He carried him into their house and sent for Dr. T.J.B. Rhoads, who did all in his power to relieve the agonizing pain, but the young boy lingered in terrible torture for two days before death released him from his suffering.

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