March 27, 1893: Chance Remark Sparks Establishment of Famed Boyertown Burial Casket Company


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

March 27, 1893: A meeting was held tonight “to perfect an organization,” and an embryonic corporation has been started. It was the Boyertown Burial Casket Company, which had its impetus with a chance remark from a local undertaker, Henry Wagner, to Milton Mory, cashier of the National Bank of Boyertown, “Why in thunder doesn’t somebody in this town have the gumption to start a casket factory?” He had been complaining about the difficulty in obtaining coffins in the winter of 1893.

Mory discussed the ideas with his brother Charles, the owner of a men’s store in town. Being familiar with sales and fabrics, Charles saw great potential for such an enterprise. Within eight hours of offering the initial stock for sale, all of it was subscribed to, and the Boyertown Burial Casket Company eventually became the first publicly traded casket company on the Philadelphia and New York stock exchanges.

The growth of the company was dynamic. In 1894, it opened the first of 21 sales offices around the country, this one in Philadelphia. Within a decade, it was the largest manufacturer in Berks County.

In 1909, a sales office was opened in New York City, and by 1928, the company had them coast to coast, with one in Los Angeles, California. It became the largest casket company in the United States and the second largest in the world.

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