One Day at a Time: A Social History of Boyertown, Pennsylvania
By Guest Writer Victoria Noelle Wagner
A new book about Boyertown, One Day at a Time: A Social History of Boyertown, Pennsylvania, has evolved from a challenge offered to Margaret Harner to find an event in Boyertown history for each day of the year, 366 accounts of local happenings spanning from colonial times to the present, such as the Rhoads Opera House fire that had a major impact on national fire safety laws and stories about Boyertown residents and heroes—involving major world events and significant leaders as well as tidbits about local lives. It is a portrait of small-town America, its antics, mishaps, joys, successes, and tragedies. The book features more than one hundred illustrations and an index for easy reference to specific topics.
Proving that Boyertown is a “special place,” Harner has discovered achievements made by Boyertonians on the international stage that have been forgotten by history, including the exploits of Col. Thomas Leidy Rhoads, Four Star General Carl A. Spaatz, track stars Gerald T. Karver and Gene Venzke, medical missionary Dr. Carl K. Becker, and a myriad of more recent heroes. The birth and death of significant local industries, like the Boyertown Burial Casket Company, are detailed, and visits to Boyertown from such notables as Thomas A. Edison have been unearthed. Scholastic championships and successes are also recounted.
Boyertown Publishing Company, one of the oldest businesses in the borough, opening in 1857, printed Harner’s history-driven book.
“I can’t say enough for the help I received from them—the courtesy and speed with which everything was handled,” Harner says about the local publishing firm. “They were great people to work with.”
A retired social studies teacher in the Boyertown Area School District, her research into Boyertown history dates back to 1973 when she co-authored A Walk Through Turn of the Century Boyertown and its update in 2014, Walking Historic Boyertown. She and her late husband Carl collaborated to document The History of the National Bank of Boyertown: A Century of Progress in 1974. She also wrote a history of Boyertown for Boyertown’s Sesquicentennial: A Year of Celebration in 2016 as well as the 200th anniversary history of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Boyertown in 2011, and contributed articles for the Berks County Historical Review and the Reading Eagle.
A charter member of the Boyertown Area Historical Society, Harner has served on its board of directors since 2010. She and her husband Carl created Haunted Boyertown as a way to help fundraise for the society through ghost-oriented activities.
All profits from the sale of the book will be donated to local charities. Copies of the book are $15 each and available for sale at Chestnut Knoll, Studio B, the office of Reinhart and Company, or by contacting Harner directly at 610.367.0630 or carljharnercomcast.net.