January 22, 1896: Young Boy Dies after Falling Through Ice


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

January 22, 1896: Four-year-old Preston Hartman, with two little friends, headed to a pond near their home to slide on the ice, being too small to skate. Unfortunately, the ice had been cut a few days earlier and there was only a thin coat. Preston was the first to step on the ice, which broke and he slid into the near-freezing water. His friend Jimmy Siesholtz grabbed hold of Preston as he fell, but did not have the strength to pull him out of the pond.

The boys then ran as fast as their little legs could carry them to the nearest house and told Harry Renninger what had occurred. Hastening to the pond, Renninger pulled the unfortunate lad out of the water, where he had been floating under the ice close to the shore, but Preston was dead.

His body was conveyed by carriage to the Hartman home, and his mother went into shock upon seeing her dear little boy, so happy and full of life when he went out to play. Preston’s dad, Howard, had been in Philadelphia and knew nothing of the tragedy until he returned home that evening to learn the heartbreaking news.

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