March 26, 1880: Fair Warning to Tavern Owners in Berks County


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

March 26, 1880: The editor of the Daily Pottstown Ledger has some reservations about the mores of the citizens of Barto and Berks County in general. When a Pottstown Sunday School class went to Barto to spend a day in the woods, a number of “small boys” obtained liquor at the tavern of that place and became visibly intoxicated.

The case was laid before an honorable and prominent member of the Reading bar, with a view of causing the arrest of the tavern-keeper for selling to minors. The lawyer, a Christian and a strictly temperate man, frankly informed the officers of the Sunday School, that in his opinion it would be impossible to secure an indictment against the tavern-keeper before the grand jury; and, even if brought to trial, no Berks County court would convict him.

But things are changing with the election to the Judiciary of men who are determined to enforce the laws as they find them in the statute books: Judges James Ermentrout and Gustav Endlich. Their elevation to the bench makrs a new era in the history of beer-soaking Reading. Six or seven saloon keepers are already in prison and their licenses revoked for violations of the law.

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