January 5, 1900. Boyertown Community Demonstrates Generosity for Afflicted Family


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

January 5, 1900. A beautiful illustration of “the charitable disposition of Boyertown people” is the support shown for the John Stimmel family of Engelsville in their great distress. The father, mother, and all four children were incapacitated by typhoid fever, with no one to nurse them. Dr. Lesher Francis, the family physician, alerted the town to their plight. Collections were taken in Good Shepherd and St. John’s Churches, amounting to $60; the Reformed Missionary Society sent clothing to the family and St. John’s Ladies Aid contributed bedding and other items. A nurse was engaged from the Pottstown Hospital to care for them; several women thoroughly cleaned the house, which the mother had been unable to do in her illness. Dunn’s Cigar Factory and the Boyertown Burial Casket Company took collections, as did the Patriotic Order of the Sons of America (P.O.S. of A).

Had it not been for the prompt assistance of these caring neighbors, the entire family would have perished, alone and neglected. Charles, the first child to take sick, died a few days later, and he was buried in the Union Cemetery with no funeral service and only the undertaker and his assistants present. The family’s condition was so bad that an additional nurse was procured to help, but their daughters Ada, age 13 and Emma, age 11, also perished. The oldest daughter was the only child to survive, as did the parents. One of the expenses paid by the funds collected was $22.50 for the funerals.

The afflicted family is so grateful for the financial and other aid from the benevolent people of Boyertown. There were many such “donation parties” in our town for families that had fallen on hard times, giving them great consolation in their hour of need and bringing tears to the eyes of all involved.

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