March 7, 1903: Fred Tabor Dies of Injuries Sustained in Accidental Fire


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

March 7, 1903: Fred Tabor of Grim’s Mill has died, ten days after he suffered extensive burns from an exploding lamp that he had been trying to extinguish before retiring for the night. The rest of the family was already in bed. As he blew on the flame, it set the oil on fire which flew in his face and over the front of his body. His clothes became a mass of flames. He tore them off, but not before being badly burned. He ran out of the house and dove into a snow bank, calling for help. His eldest child Stella ran out to him while his wife Isabella and the rest of their 10 children put out the fire in the house.

The unfortunate man was badly burned about his face and his arms, from his elbows to his hands, almost to the bone. Dr. R. E Lefever was summoned and succeeded in lessening the excruciating pain somewhat but Tabor was in agony until death relieved him of his suffering.

His condition was not considered fatal until yesterday, when mortification set in. He had apparently inhaled some of the flames, and his internal injuries were more serious than his external ones.

He was 43 years old. His wife Isabella and their 10 children then moved into Boyertown and lived on South Reading Avenue. Ironically, Isabella was killed in the Opera House fire five years later, leaving Stella, a school teacher with a meagre income, the head of the household.

Thanks to the love and support of the people in Boyertown and the Relief Committee that was organized to help orphans of the fire, they were able to stay together, and they all led successful adult lives. It was said of Stella: “With splendid fortitude she carefully reared her younger sisters and brothers.

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