November 25, 1902: Pastor of Good Shepherd Church Allegedly Assaulted During Good Will Visit


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

November 25, 1902: Rev. Joseph E. Freeman, pastor of Good Shepherd Reformed Church, was the victim of an alleged assault at the hands of 20-year-old Samuel Coleman. Freeman told the Democrat that he intended to pay his respects to Samuel’s dad Thomas, his tailor, who was ill, and he entered the family home at 6 PM, as the family was at the supper table. Intended as a cheerful greeting, he remarked that “I suppose I’m not too late for supper.”

Samuel immediately jumped up and said, “You get out.” Freeman replied that he was not there to talk to him, but to his father. Upon that, Samuel rushed at the minister, took hold of his coat collar with both hands and shoved him out the front door. Freeman claimed that he had tried to retreat down the steps when Coleman pushed him and he went tumbling to the bottom.

Freeman’s knee and shoulder were badly bruised from the assault and he was forced to walk with crutches for two weeks because of his injuries. He pressed charges against Coleman, who was then arrested.

Coleman could not post bond, so he was taken to the county jail, but was later released because family members told a different version of the supposed attack and it was also determined that Samuel was the sole source of income for the Coleman family since the father was incapacitated.

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