June 8, 1887: "Deplorable Accident" Kills Kate Garman, Injuries Joseph Berger


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

June 8, 1887: A deplorable accident in Engelsville, a small hamlet about a mile south of Boyertown, occurred on the farm of Franz Garman. His 18-year-old daughter Kate and farm hand Joseph Berger, age 17, were working in a cistern, about 12 feet deep, which Garman was in the process of digging. Kate was on the bottom, throwing round up to Joseph, who was standing on a scaffold about six feet below the surface, throwing that dirt up to the top.

Suddenly, the scaffold gave way and Berger, together with a large quantity of dirt, was precipitated down, striking Kate on the head, which was crushed to “jelly,” and instantly killing her. Berger is also seriously injured, but he will survive. Doctors Samuel Todd and Lesher Francis attended to his wounds.

Squire Fox empaneled a jury, who examined the scene and rendered the verdict of accidental death.

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