Mary Alice Becker
Rhoads Opera House Fire
Burial Date 1/19/1908
Mary Alice Becker
Compliments of Hope Cemetery, Kutztown, Pa.
The Triple Funeral at Kutztown on Sunday of the Wife and two daughters Alma and Mary, of J. J. Becker was attended by about 2000 people. Funeral Directors Delong, Son & Co. had provided three hearses, and these went up Main Street side by side thus making the funeral procession a most melancholy one. Lots of people where weeping when the three hearses passed through Kutztown’s main thoroughfare and the scenes at the cemetery were even more effecting. The main funeral services were held at the home of Mrs. Becker’s step-father and mother, Mr. & Mrs. M. T. Donmoyer on Park Avenue. The services were conducted by Rev. F. Bare, pastor of St. Mark’s Lutheran church, Conshohocken, by Rev. Dr. D.E. Schoedler of Allentown, who is a cousin of Mrs. Donmoyer. At the house Rev Bare read a scripture lesson in English, made an English address and offered prayer in English, and Rev. Dr. Schoedler read a scripture lesson in English, offered prayer in English and made a German address. The Mourners were brought from Park Ave. to center Square in a specially chartered trolley car. From the corner of Main and Whiteoak the bereaved relatives and friends marched to the Hope Cemetery, where internment was made. The bodies were placed into one grave which was partitioned. The music was furnished by the choir of Trinity Lutheran Church, Kutztown. At the grave the burial service was read by Rev. Bare, the choir sang “Good Night”, and Dr. Schoedler pronounced the benediction. The bearers were William R. Sander, Thomas S. Levan, Walter E. Herman, A.S. Christ, C. D. Herman, H. K. Deisher, U. J. Miller and A.M. Herman The casket in which the remains of Mrs. Becker rested was covered with steel gray embossed plush with silver trimmings and plate inscribed Mary Alice Becker, aged 43 years. Inside the casket was fitted with cream hoscoe lining and couch pillows. the caskets of the daughters were the same as that of their mother except the inside color was pink instead of steel gray. The inscriptions on the plates were, “Alma Becker aged 13 years and “ Mary Becker aged 9 years. Mrs. Becker was a daughter of Mrs M. T. Donmoyer of this place. She had many relatives and friends here. Mr. Becker who was born and reared in Longswamp is a brother of Mrs. Charles W. Miller of Kutztown. Mr. Becker had given up all hopes of having the bodies of his wife and children identified until Friday, Jan 17 when his relatives William A. Donmoyer and his little daughter Florence and Miss Kate Springer Went and succeeded in picking out the dear ones. After Mr. Becker was sure that the bodies were those of his people he said: “Oh Lord this is a great relief to me.”.
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Rhoads Opera House Fire The Rhoads Opera House at S. Washington St and E. Philadelphia Ave in Boyertown, Pennsylvania, caught fire on January 13, 1908 during a church-sponsored stage play. The fire started when a kerosene lamp was knocked over, lighting gasoline from a stereoscopic machine. The stage and auditorium were located on the 2nd floor and all auxiliary exits were either unmarked or locked. One fire escape was available but unable to be accessed through a locked window above a 3 foot sill. 170 people perished when the exit was crowded against to escape the fire. Entire families were wiped out.According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Philadelphians contributed relief funds of $18,000. Three morgues were set up and approximately fifteen thousand people attended funerals on a single day. One hundred and five new graves were dug in Boyertown's Fairview Cemetery. In the days following the fire, Dr. Daniel Kohler , Burgess of Boyertown appointed a relief committee, to whom the people were asked to report the names of missing persons, and who would arrange a proper and speedy burial of the dead. The Relief Committee would act in tandem with the National Bank of Boyertown, to receive and distribute all contributions received from all sources. The Committee met three times a day the first weeks following the fire, once a day the next month and once a week for the next year. Irwin Ehst served as chairman, James Stauffer as secretary. On April 10, 1909, the Berks County Democrat, the newspaper published in Boyertown, PA, printed a detailed report of the income and expenditures of the Relief Committee. Total contributions received equaled $22,075.89. A total of $21,636.44 was expended. The largest contributors noted were Calvin Fegley, Treasurer of Pottstown ($2,000); Eishenlor Brothers Cigar Factory ($1,000) and Boyertown Burial Casket ($600).The incident spurred the Pennsylvania legislature into passing new legislative standards for doors, landings, lighting, curtains, fire extinguishers, aisles, marked exits, and doors. All doors were required to open outward and remain unlocked. Pennsylvania governor Edwin Stuart signed Pennsylvania’’s first fire law on May 3, 1909. A building of apartments and stores has now been built on the former opera house's site with a plaque commemorating the tragedy. See Mrs. Becker's obituary for further details Wikipedia Article
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