The fourth child of George B. and Sarah Boyer was Lewis Elmer Boyer.1 This section focuses on the life of Lew (1869-1948), his wife Henrietta (1874-1948), and their seven children. Each of the seven children and their descendants is the subject of a separate section following this one. This section includes:
Boyer's Parents and Siblings
Lew Boyer's Parents and Siblings
Lew Boyer's baptism certificate read as follows:
To these two parents, Mr. George B. Boyer and his wife Sarah Ann Boyer, a daughter of William Dreher, was born a son on the 26th day of October, in the year of our Lord 1869. This child was born in Butler Township, Gordon, in Schuylkill County in the state of Pennsylvania, North America; was baptized by the Rev. H. Weicksel, at Ringtown, and received the name Lewis Elmer Boyer on the 26th day of December in the year 1869. Witnesses: the parents themselves.
The Boyer family moved to Easton before 1874, before Lewis Elmer was five, and he lived there for the next 75 years, until his death. Lew Boyer's mother died in 1890, when he was 20. Of the six children in the family, only Lew and his sister Sallie (Sarah Ann) Boyer lived past the age of 22. His brother Walter Ellsworth Boyer died in 1870 at the age of 8, when Lew was only 1. His brother William James Boyer died in 1877, at the age of 3, when Lew was only 8. His sister Emily Augusta Boyer died in May 1886 at the age of 19, when Lew was 17. His sister Elizabeth Hannah Boyer died in December of the same year, at the age of 22. Thus, when he was between the ages of 17 and 20, Lew lost two sisters and his mother. In the early 1890s, he apparently lived with his father and his sister Sallie at 620 Wilkes Barre Street in South Easton, the rest of the family having by then died.
Lew was interested in family history. Found in his diary for 1894 was a record of the births and deaths in his immediate family. Also, he or his wife (or her sister Mame Waltman) maintained extended records in a large family Bible originally inscribed to his sister "Miss Lizzie H. Boyer." These documents were helpful in developing this paper.
In 1893 George Boyer, and his two children seemed well settled in South Easton. Similarly, the family of Joseph Waltman and his many children and grandchildren was also well established in South Easton. Both the Boyers and the Waltmans were active in local churches. In these circumstances, it seems somewhat strange that off spring of these two families went off to Newark, New Jersey, on a Tuesday afternoon in January to get married, with no family members present. But that is what happened with Lewis Elmer Boyer and Henrietta ("Het") Waltman. He was 23, she was 19. Did they elope?
This is how Lew's diary describes the day of January 24, 1893:
Tuesday was home till 3:30 o'clock. Went to Easton depot and there joined Miss Hettie Waltman and went to Newark. After securing board and lodging we went to 119 New Street where we were joined in Holly Matrimony 7.30 P.M. by Rev. Nellson Macnichol. After the serimony we went to our lodging house and after reading the Evening News went to bed.
The marriage was in the parsonage of Halsey Methodist Church; the attendants were the wife and daughter of the pastor. The event was duly recorded in an Easton newspaper, although Henrietta was described incorrectly as the daughter of Arthur Waltman (her brother) rather than her father, Samuel Waltman. An Easton newspaper reported it this way:
Lew recorded that he paid $6.30 for the train tickets and $3.90 for the lodging and board. The honeymoon appears to have been largely one day of browsing around Newark, close to the depot, waiting for the train back to Easton. Lew's account for January 25:
Wednesday morning I went to a store and got several articles and came back and had breakfast. After breakfast we walked around the city and then stopped at Allen's Restaurant and had our meals. From there we walked down to the depot and sat there till nearly five. From there we went to Allen's R. and had our supper and started for the train for home. The train left 5:50 P.M. and we arrived at Easton about 8:20. Took a car to my home and after talking a while went to bed.
The honeymoon was over. At 4:45 the next morning (a Thursday), Lew got up and took the train to High Bridge, New Jersey, about 25 miles east of Easton, to go back to work and to stay alone in his boarding house. After having his dinner Thursday evening, an apparently happy Lewis Elmer Boyer wrote that he "sang a song and started to write in this book." It was the beginning of at least 16 years of meticulous diaries. (Lew was not a very good speller, and most of the quotations from his diary in this account have not been corrected.)
On Saturday, Lew's father, George, gave the newlyweds a party, as mentioned in the newspaper account, and that may have been a surprise. Lew's diary for January 28 reads:
Saturday worked all day, came to Easton on the 6:10 train, arrived at Easton on time. Waited for electric car at the bridge and rode up as far as Rantner's store. When I got home, Papa had a reception for us.
That weekend Lew stayed at the Boyer home and went "up to Hettie's folks" to visit. The next weekend he "stayed in my wife's home," and when he returned to work on Monday, February 6, in apparent celebration of the wedding, he "passed segars (cigars) at shop."
Henrietta had been born in Easton on March 14, 1874, the sixth child of Samuel Waltman and Sabina Taylor Waltman, and a granddaughter of the well known builder Joseph Waltman, who lived to be 91. A book on the American Boyers noted that she was the "thrice great granddaughter of Conrad Waltman, Northampton County militia, Flying Camp 1776." (See the separate report on the Waltman Family of Northampton County, focusing on the immigrant Conrad Waltman and his descendants.)
The marriage obviously took well. It lasted nearly 56 years, through hardships and happiness, in several residences, producing six sons and one daughter, who in turn produced 16 grandchildren and 32 great grandchildren. In early 2005, there were also 30 great-great-grandchildren and 7 great-great-great-grandchildren.
The seven children of Lew and Henrietta were born over a range of 19 years; the first was born in 1894 when Lew was 25 and Henrietta 20, the last in 1913 when he was 44 and she was 39. See separate webpages for each of the children. In order of birth, they were:
1. Floyd Elwood ("Elwood"
"Woody") Boyer (1894-1967)
Lew's Five-Year Illness
When Lew retired in 1934, at the age of 65, he had worked 33 years for the Ingersoll-Sergeant Drill Company (later known as Ingersoll Rand Company), first in South Easton and then in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, across the Delaware River. He was a skilled machinist, foreman of the die department and later foreman of the die design department. Several photographs handed down through the family show Lew with his employees, in the office or on outings.
But before moving to Ingersoll in 1901, Lew was employed in a number of other places, went without work for nearly five years because of a serious illness, and pursued a number of avocations as a kind of self made engineer: he built batteries, constructed an electric bell, installed a hot water system, took photographs, and even raised chickens. His illness also led him to give serious consideration to Christian Science, while he remained active in Methodist church affairs.
After attending public schools in South Easton, where his parents lived, Lew Boyer learned the machinist trade in the workshops of the Lehigh Valley Railroad in Easton, where both his father and his Uncle William worked, as did a number of other relatives. He apparently began working for the railroad while in his late teens. At the time of his marriage in January 1893, he was working in High Bridge, New Jersey, but apparently not for the railroad. The only hint of his occupation at that time is in his diary two days after his wedding. On that day he took the train to High Bridge and worked the greater part of the day on "bumb shell." The handwriting is not clear; conceivably he could have been working on "bomb shells." Two weeks after her marriage to Lew Boyer, Henrietta moved to High Bridge with him, and they boarded with an Apgar family, paying rent of $8 per month.
It is possible that Lew was working at the Taylor-Wharton Iron and Steel Company in High Bridge, which was founded in 1752. The website contains many old photos of the town and of Taylor-Wharton. The company made cannon balls during the Civil War, wheels and track for rail cars as railroads developed across America, steel dredge-bucket teeth for digging the Panama Canal, and ammunition for use in World Wars I and II. It is possible that Lew Boyer was working on the "bumb shells" at Taylor-Wharton. Among Lew's possessions when he died was a commemorative booklet for the 1917 ceremony in High Bridge noting the 175th anniversary of the company, suggesting he may have been among the more than 3,000 current and former employees present. The company built a new plant in Easton in 1915, not far from Lew Boyer's house, but the company went out of the iron and steel business in the 1970s. A 2001 New York Times article described the changes in High Bridge since the demise of the company. It is possible that in 1893 the Boyers were lodging with the family of David Kline Apgar, which became very close to both Lew and his father George. "What would this town be without the name of Apgar?" the Taylor-Wharton commemorative booklet said. Although there were many Apgars listed and pictured in the booklet, none of them appears to have come from the same line as David Kline Apgar.
Whatever Lew's employment in High Bridge, it didn't last. Two months after his marriage, in March 1893, he recorded that he took a train to Newark, New Jersey, and "struck a job" with the Newark Rivet Works. Initially, things apparently went well. Lew got three weeks of vacation that summer, and during that time, on July 3, 1893, he arranged for Henrietta to move to Newark; he wrote that they "went into housekeeping" at 100 Baldwin Street. But if the times were good, they didn't last long. One week after Henrietta moved, on July 10, Lew "went to work and was told they had nothing for me." On July 19, a week after that, he got a job in Brooklyn, New York, for the Mergenthaler Lynotype Company. For three weeks he worked ten and a half hours a day, Monday to Friday, and seven and a half hours on Saturday.
Then, on August 4, 1893, Lew "came home sick" at 8 o'clock in the morning. On August 7, he went to see a Dr. Robinson in Newark. On August 10, he tried working again, eight and a half hours, but the next day Dr. Glormeyer had to come to see him. It was the beginning of a long seige. Lew did not work again until May 31, 1898, nearly five years later!
"My wife stored our things," Lew wrote on August 26, 1893, "and we came to Easton to my wife's folks." The next day "Mr. Waltman (Samuel) and me went to the Easton Hospital, from there to Dr. Zeiner, got a prescription filled out and came home." For the next month, the doctor came to Lew Boyer's home every day, including Sunday, sometimes twice a day. The doctor visited 34 times in September alone, 68 times from August 28 to December 31 (Lew kept meticulous records). Lew was only 24.
The record is not clear, but it appears that Lew and Het moved into the house at 620 Wilkes-Barre Street where Lew had lived with his father. (It is not clear either whether his father was still there, but at the end of 1894, Lew was paying "board" of $12 a month, to either his father or the owner.) About 1897, Lew and Het moved to the next block, to 726 Wilkes Barre Street.
The cause of the illness is not clear, either. The diary contains several references to pleurisy. Also, on April 26, 1894, Dr. L. A. Zeiner wrote a letter "to whom it may concern." "I do hereby certify," he wrote, "that Lewis E. Boyer is not able to follow his usual or any occupation owing to, or the cause is, chronic gastritis, and ulceration of his bowels, complicated with soreness of the omentum." (The omentum is a fold of membrane lining the walls of the abdominal cavity.)
Whatever the problem, it was persistent. Lew records one trip to Jefferson College Hospital in Philadelphia, on June 4, 1894, where he was examined and given medication. At home, he was also being treated by Dr. Charles Boyer, a cousin (a son of George Boyer's brother William) who was a physician in Riegelsville, New Jersey. Lew and Charles were the same age 24 in June 1894. Charles later practiced near 11th and Northampton Streets in Easton; he died January 13, 1943, at the age of 73, five years before Lew.
On January 18, 1897, two and a half years later, Lew wrote that George Apgar took him to the depot, and then Dr. William Reichard accompanied him to see Dr. John Deaver, at 1634 Walnut Street in Philadelphia, "about my side." (Dr. Deaver had removed Lew's appendix seven months earlier, on June 13, 1896, when Lew was 26.) For two days, Lew looked in vain for Dr. Deaver (apparently advance appointments were not easily made in a time of limited communications), and Lew had to stay in the Washington Hotel. On the third day, Dr. Deaver saw Lew but couldn't reach any conclusion and recommended hospitalization. On January 23, Lew wrote, somewhat pathetically: "Not feeling very well. Please write to Thomas Hall, 332 Elmer Street, Vineland, N.J., and tell him how Lewis E. Boyer is and what was the matter with him." (There is no other clue to the identity of Thomas Hall.)
On January 25, 1897, Lew wrote that "Dr. Deaver and another Dr. came and made an examination and said I had a New Races (neurosis?) Stiff Mussel. Dr. Setter said it is a kind of neuralgia and nerves are affected." The next day Lew returned to Easton, stopping en route to the depot to observe the fire at 13th and Market Streets in Philadelphia, "where a whole block was nearly consumed." Even then, he wrote on January 27, "I don't feel at all good. My side pains so that I hardly can walk. George, Sallie and Edith (Apgar) were here during the day, and in the evening Mother Waltman and Mr. Hartzell and Mr. Haas were here." That day Lew also "wrote a note to Papa," who was probably in Lebanon.
The frustrating illness continued. On June 16, 1897, Lew wrote, "in the morning I walked out to Uncle William's [probably William Waltman] and ask him if he could take me over to the Easton Hospital, and he sent his son at 9:45 to take me over, and I saw the dr. at 11 o'clock and afterward we drove home. In the evening I went down to the Dr. Richard and he looked at the subscription [prescription?] that the Dr. Michler had given me and told me I had taken that kind of medicine in the forepart of my sickness." (This seems to indicate that four years after the on set of this illness, doctors were still going back to original medications and were still puzzled about this problem.) The biennial Easton City Directory, which up to this point had described Lew Boyer as a "machinist," in 1897 described him as an "invalid."
Over the next year, it seems that Lewis Elmer gradually began to feel better, because comments in his journal about medicine and doctors became more infrequent. Possibly of aid to his recovery was the apparent shock of a visit from the landlady, Mrs. Flynn, who on May 17, 1898, gave the Boyers notice that they would have to move from the house at 726 Wilkes Barre Street in South Easton. The notice to move came just one day after the funeral of Joseph Waltman, Henrietta's grandfather.
This looked like trouble. Lew and Henrietta now had two children who were born during this period of difficulty (Elwood, who was 4, and Ralph, who was 1), and Walter would be arriving in just five months. Lew was out of work, and now they had no home.
The Move to Lincoln Street. Lew apparently knew how to move quickly. His diary records that he saw many of the Waltmans, William, Joseph, George and John among them. On May 19, he wrote that he visited a Mr. McKeen, and on May 23 this man gave him a proposal about a house at 910 Lincoln Street in South Easton. That afternoon, Lew "went down to the L.V.R.R. shops to ask for work." Two days later, Lew and Elwood went to see the Buffalo Bill Parade and to visit "Ingersoll Works," possibly also to seek a job, and then together with Henrietta they went to look at the house on Lincoln Street. Apparently they liked it. The lot was 40 by 140 feet, and the frame house was three stories high. The next morning they moved three loads of their belongings to the new house. The family lived there for the next 20 years, until November 1918. (The "910 Lincoln Street" that is mentioned twice in the diary at first appears to be a mistake, given subsequent references to the Boyer home at 1009 Lincoln Street. However, South Easton re-numbered its streets in the early 1900s, and the "1009 Lincoln Street" address first appeared in the 1906 Easton City Directory.)
Apparently, the house was rented by the Boyer family at first. But then in 1903, the owner, Thomas Riehl, died, and on May 29 of that year, Lew bought the house from Riehl's administrator, Mary C. Hively, for $1,200. The property, 40 by 140 feet, was described in the deed as Lot No. 50 on the plan of Joseph McKeen, on the north side of Lincoln Street.
The house was not the only thing new in their lives. Five days after the move, on May 31, 1898, Lew got a job at the Switch and Signal Works (apparently related to the Lehigh Valley Railroad), and in the afternoon of the same day, he started work. It was the first time he had had a formal job since August 1893.
The Family Finances
How the family made it through this period financially is a natural question. The answer seems to be that the men's lodges of the time served in part as "protective associations" and provided benefits to members in time of hardship. Lew's records show contributions to him virtually every month of this long period, from the Knights of Malta, the Odd Fellows, the Patriotic Order of Sons of America, and (less frequently) Dallas Lodge of the Masons, and the Northern Star. Since Lew's illness began in 1893 when he was only 24, and the benefits paid were immediate, it must be assumed he had been a member in sufficiently good standing, despite his youth, that he qualified for this assistance. Lew's account for May 1893, for example, showed this income, day by day:
All this while, Lew of course needed to maintain his membership in these organizations. An entry for December 11, 1897, says that "Papa sent me two dollars to pay in the P.O.S. of A." Apparently the payment of benefits was not always automatic, and Lew had to do some work to justify his need. On April 29, 1897, he recorded that "I sent an appeal to the Grand Commander of the K of Malta." When he received a $7 contribution from the Masons in March 1898, it was delivered by Henrietta's cousin Joseph Cameron, just seven days after "Elwood and me went up to Joseph Camerons in the afternoon," apparently to make a plea for help. On October 10, 1897, Lew wrote that the "relief committee of the P.O.S. of A. was here in the morning." Nevertheless, on June 19, 1898, twenty days after he started to work again, and with only $8.00 in wages collected, Lew got a money order (5 cents) and sent $5.00 to the Odd Fellows, apparently a partial repayment for their assistance. He obviously didn't like having to be supported by others.
Besides the help from lodges, Lew made ends meet through occasional contributions from the family, in particular from "Papa" (George Boyer), Father Waltman, the Apgars, and Arthur Waltman, and a little income from the sale of eggs and photographs. But probably more important was Lew's own caution in expenditures. He recorded every penny of income and out go, even reporting 5 cents found during one visit to Philadelphia.
This was his record for the month of July 1895:
In addition to revealing the care that Lew Boyer gave to his expenditures, the record also shows that the Boyer diet was fairly heavy on butter and bread, as well as on vegetables and fruit, with very little provision for meats. But there was also money for play, as is evident by the expenditures for fireworks and ice cream on the Fourth of July and the July 20 outing to the park.
There were Christmas celebrations too. In the preparation for Christmas in December 1897, Lew recorded that on Monday, December 20, "Father (Waltman) and Arthur (Waltman) were here in the evening. They brought some boards and trestles for the tree, and Arthur gave Hettie a 10 dollar note." Lew recorded that they spent 50 cents for a tree. On Tuesday, December 21, Lew wrote that he "tried one of the motors" (probably not related to the Christmas tree), while "Mame puffed corn and wife strung same." It snowed the next day, and "Arthur sent us some coal."
On Christmas day, the weather was clear, and good for visiting.
Mr. Apgar [David?], Mr. Straub and George Russell and Arthur Tyler were here in the morning. Henry and Father Waltman too. Father took Elwood up home for dinner. After dinner, Hettie, Baby (Ralph) and me went to Straubs, William Waltman's, Bro. J. Waltmans, to see trees, and up home (Father Samuel Waltman's), and came home, got supper and went to the Church. Young chicken began laying today.
The next day, "Mr. Apgar was here and gave us some presents that Sallie had sent down (from Allentown)." There were more visitors. On Wednesday, December 29, "George and Sallie came after supper, also Edith Apgar and Father Waltman." On New Year's Eve, "Sallie and George were here for supper. I killed one of the old hens and it weighed 6 lbs, cleaned 4 1/2 lbs."
In 1898, when the trouble about the house arose, it appears that Lew Boyer was receiving about $20 a month from the lodges. Although the rent for the new house on Lincoln Street was only slightly higher than the rent on Wilkes Barre Street ($10 versus $8), Lew also had to pay an initial "agreement" of $5 and he obviously felt that the cost of the move required some creative financing. The record for May 1898 shows only $16 income from the lodges, but Lew also received $10 from cousin Robert Boyer and $10 from Father Boyer (both "to be returned as soon as convenient"). Lew also borrowed $7 from his son Elwood (then age 4), and $1 from son Ralph (then age 1), both "to be returned with interest."
The census taken on June 6, 1900, showed the family at 910 Lincoln Street:
Lewis E. Boyer, 29, born Oct 1870 [this was an error – he was born in October 1869], machinist
Henrietta Boyer, wife, 27, born Mar 1874, married 7 years
Elwood Boyer, son, 6, born Apr 1894
Ralph Boyer, son, 7, born May 1893 [another error – Ralph was born in May 1897, and he was not quite 3 on census day]
Walter Boyer, son, 1, born Oct 1898.
Securing a job with the Switch and Signal Works made a big difference for the Boyers financially. In contrast to the approximately $20 in relief money Lew was receiving each month from the lodges, he immediately began to bring home about $40 a month in wages, supplemented by $2 5 a month from the sale of photographs. He worked long hours for the money, too. Although there were extensive lapses in his diary after his return to work, during one week in October he worked 10 hours each weekday (14 hours that Tuesday), and 9 hours on Saturday. The nature of the job is not clear, but on October 5 he recorded that he "worked all day on Driver boxes for 353 on piecework getting .285 a box."
Lew apparently moved over to the Ingersoll-Sergeant Drill Company (later known as Ingersoll-Rand) to work in 1901, and by September of 1907 he was earning $90 a month. That meant a significant change in living style. Indeed, that same month he recorded an expenditure of $151 for a "hot water outfit," presumably bringing a major new convenience to 1009 Lincoln Street. The house is remembered for a large stove that sat in the living room, providing heat to the rest of the house through cumbersome ducts. It sat on a heavy metal plate to protect against fires and burns; each spring the entire apparatus had to be dismantled and removed. In 1907, Lew also recorded that he owed $250 on a note to Mr. McKeen, the man who arranged for him to live on Lincoln Street; this was probably related to Lew's purchase of the house in 1903. There were also payments in 1907 for a music teacher, presumably for one of the four boys the Boyers had at the time, probably Ralph.
In 1908, there were expenditures for moving pictures ($0.15), the Orpheum ($0.40), and suits for Elwood ($7.00), Ralph ($6.50), and Walter ($5.00). A visit to Bushkill Park in August 1908 cost $2.51. In February l908, Lewis Elmer secured a mortgage for $750, which he used to pay off various loans and to buy a one quarter share of a farm for $580.50. The location is not known, but it may have been the start of his interest in property along the Bushkill Creek. Part of the money was raised through an agreement with "Uncle William" for $150 and two notes from "Adeline Apgar" for $175. It was clear that the employment at Ingersoll was making major new expenditures possible.
The U.S. census on April 15, 1910, showed this family at 1009 Lincoln Street:
Lewis E. Boyer, Head of Household, 40, Machinist,
The Move to Ferry Street
As the number of children grew to seven, and the house became a bustling place, Lew Boyer decided to arrange for larger quarters. In 1916 he bought from Hannah Unangst, for $2,000, the lot at the corner of Lincoln and McKeen Streets, next to his own house. At the rear of this lot, there was a small cottage that had been moved up the hill from the railroad yards, and Lew's sons Elwood and Dave later lived there at various times. But the bulk of the new lot was vacant. Lew had it staked out for erection of a new and larger house, but the First World War came along, and construction became impossible, probably because of shortages in materials as well as manpower. (Lew sold the lot in 1946 to Michael Mondzak for $3,000, and in 1987 there was still no house on that corner.)
Two years later, after Lew cancelled his house expansion plans, he learned of an almost new house at 1900 Ferry Street, just west of the Easton city line, in what was known as Wilson Township. A man named John Stelter had built the large brick corner house; it was finished, according to the builder's verification, on January 1, 1914. But Stelter's wife had died shortly after they moved in. The house was too big for him, and he sold it to Lew Boyer for $6,400 on November 23, 1918. The streets were still unpaved. Lew's son Dave remembered that he was released from school on the South Side to participate in the Armistice Day victory parade, on November 12, 1918, at the end of the war, but Thanksgiving Dinner 1918 was served at 1900 Ferry Street. After 20 years on Lincoln Street in South Easton, the Boyers would spend the next 30 years on Ferry Street in Wilson Borough. (The 1930 census said the value of the house was then $17,000. After Lew and Henrietta died in 1948, the Ferry Street house was sold. In October 1993, the then owners of the house, Edward J. and Frances J. McDermott, sold the house to Lee A. Clewell and Dolores R. Montes for $124,000.)
Dave also recalled that, in preparing to move to Ferry Street, the family belongings had been packed and assembled, and mattresses spread around the first floor to make the morning exit from the house less complicated. Suddenly, in came friends with coffee and donuts for a farewell visit with their neighbors of 20 years, and the Boyers had to scamper around to pick up the mattresses. (Lew decided to rent out the Lincoln Street property, and did not sell the house until 1927, when it was bought by Alderson B. Lilly; the price is not known.)
The family was thus established on the new frontier of Easton. The Wilson area, part of Palmer Township, was largely wooded up to the early 1900s. But in 1912 residents of the area close to Easton began efforts for the establishment of a new township. With the ultimate in bipartisan diplomacy, the township was to be named after whoever won the 1912 election, William Howard Taft or Woodrow Wilson. The courts agreed with the proposal in 1914. (But for 2.8 million votes, generations of Boyers might have been graduating from "Taft High School.") In 1920, the courts accepted a petition to transfer Wilson Township into Wilson Borough. The population of the new borough zoomed, from about 1,500 in 1912 to more than 8,000 in 1928. The move by the Boyers in 1918 came about midway in the boom, when Wilson borough streets likely were mostly unpaved and much construction was underway.
The Ferry Street house was not only bigger and more impressive, but it had more conveniences. It was the first Boyer house with running water, and it had an indoor toilet, something not all of the Boyers had seen. Art flushed the toilet for the first time, and Dave yelled "Turn it off, turn it off!" An early further improvement for the house was the replace ment of the original gas light with electricity. Lew was somewhat surprised that the man who came to do the job was an American Indian.
The census taken January 15, 1920, at 1900 Ferry Street, Wilson Township, showed this family:
Lewis E. Boyer, Head of Household, 50, Designer,
As is already clear, many of Lew Boyer's diary entries between 1893 and 1909 make mention of the Apgars, and the section of this report on Lew's father, shows extensive interrelations with the Apgars. The impression is that George A. Apgar was Lew's best friend and partner in scientific experimentation. But beyond that, he was also Lew's brother-in-law, the husband of Lew's sister Sallie. George and Sallie had been married in South Easton on October 22, 1891, 15 months before Lew married Henrietta Waltman. Born in Montville, New Jersey, according to his obituary, George was 21 at the time of the marriage, Because Sallie was only 19, the marriage license at the county courthouse in Easton records that her father, George Boyer, had to give his formal consent.
A newspaper account of “The Boyer-Apgar Wedding” included this language:
The wedding of Miss Sallie A. Boyer, daughter of William [actually George] Boyer, and George A. Apgar, Thursday morning . . . was one of the most prominent social events in this place this season. The bride is one of the most popular of the young ladies of South Easton, and the groom, who is a son of Mr. and Mrs. D. K. Apgar, of this place, is now employed at Elizabeth, N.J., to which city the happy couple went in the afternoon.
The ceremony took place at the house on Wilkes-Barre street where were assembled about fifty relatives and intimate friends of the bridal party. . . . Miss Hattie Waltman, of this place, was the bridemaid and wore a white mull and lace costume. She carried a bouquet of pink roses. The best man was Lewis E. Boyer, brother of the bride. After the ceremony, there was served a wedding dinner, following which there was a round of social pleasures until the bride and groom departed for the train and sped away to their new home followed by the best wishes of a host of friends for a long and happy life. A very considerable number of pretty and useful presents were bestowed on the bride.
As indicated in the section on Sallie's father, George Boyer, George Apgar's father, David Kline Apgar (1840-1914), was a supervisor of Lehigh Valley Railroad crews laying track in New Jersey, and apparently a friend of George Boyer, the father of Lew and Sallie. George Apgar was born on April 27, 1870, only six months after Lew Boyer. When Lew, aged 24, was working in High Bridge, New Jersey, at the time of his marriage to Het Waltman, he was boarding with an Apgar family (it is not clear which one). (After he returned from Easton to High Bridge one weekend, Lew recorded that he gave George his church envelopes to deposit.) The relationship between George and Sallie Apgar and Lew and Het Boyer was obviously very close; besides their family tie, they were all about the same age: Lew was born in 1869, George in 1870, Sallie in 187l, and Het in 1874.
When Lew and Het returned to Easton in August 1893, after Lew became ill, they lived at 620 Wilkes Barre Street, in the home of Lew's father. Several years later they moved to 726 Wilkes Barre, then only several doors from 714 Wilkes Barre where the Apgar family lived. There were David Kline and Anna Maria Apgar, the parents, and their children, Dr. Charles Apgar, a physician (who later lived in Pittsburgh), Edith Apgar, who tailored clothes and later married Paul Tilton, and Walter Apgar, a valve setter in the railroad machine shop, who later married Sallie Lake. Apparently George and Sallie Apgar lived there too. However, in 1894 Lew's diary gave an address for George in Wiscasset, Maine, where George operated a steamshovel, according to the recollection of his son.
The diary entries for 1897 and 1898 make clear the close relationship between the Boyers and the Apgars. George and Lew were forever working on mechanical and scientific experiments, building batteries and bells and raising chickens. Edith and Sallie often took care of Elwood, Lew's first child. George and Sallie visited and played the organ and violin. "Mr. Apgar" (probably David) went over to shovel the snow, since Lew could not do so. Through much of this time, George apparently was unemployed too. On May 6, 1897, Lew wrote that George had gone to Allentown to look for work. Apparently in the months that followed, he found a job in Cementon, and George and Sallie moved. Lew Boyer paid them a visit:
George got a job in Allentown soon thereafter as a silk finisher, and he worked for various firms. When he retired, he was with the Weilbacher Mill. On November 5, 1897, Lew wrote in his diary that George and Sallie came over and gave us goodbye as they were going to go to Whitehall and get ready to move to Allentown." The address he recorded for them was at 130 Chew Street. In 1898, they bought a house at 449 North 4th Street in Allentown (pictures were taken on the steps), and in 1905 they sold that house and moved to a large corner house at 437 Tilghman Street. The children of Lew Boyer recalled taking outings on the trolley between Easton and Allentown as the family went to visit Aunt Sallie. Indeed, one recollection is that Aunt Sallie needed to send out for supplies in order to feed the invading Boyer crowd from Easton. Conversely, Sallie's son George Apgar recalled his own outings to visit Lew and Hettie Boyer in Easton.
George Apgar died at his home on Tilghman Street on June 14, 1917, of nephritis, an inflammation of the kidneys. George was only 47 years old; his children were aged 14 and 7. His wife, Sallie Boyer Apgar, also died at her Allentown home, seven years later, on August 26, 1924, of tuberculosis. It was the same disease believed to have killed her two sisters in 1886. According to her obituary, Sallie had been an invalid for two years. She was 52. George and Sallie were both buried in Hay's Cemetery, Easton. They had two children:
Anna Apgar, born in 1903, graduated from Allentown High School, Lebanon Valley College, and the School of Hygiene at Johns Hopkins University. In 1930, she married Dr. Charles L. Mengel, who had been b orn on January 17, 1904. They were married by Charles' father, the Reverend C. H. Mengel, at Bethany Evangelical Church in Allentown. Both were then living in Baltimore, where Charles was associated with the Women's Hospital and Anna was a bacteriologist at St. Joseph's Hospital. Charles was a graduate of Allentown High School, Lafayette College, and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Later, he was a cancer specialist at Sacred Heart Hospital in Allentown. In Walter Boyer’s family epistle of October 20, 1972, he reported that Charles and Anna Mengel [Walter’s cousin] were packing to move from Allentown to Columbia, Missouri.
Miriam learned about this, called Anna and invited the Mengels to dinner. Last evening, they were our guests at the Holiday House in Reading. . . . It was a most pleasant evening, the fellowship was pleasing, and the meal was up to the Holiday House standard. The Mengels will live in an apartment in Columbia near their son, his wife and five children.
In 1987, Anna Apgar and Charles Mengel were living in a convalescent home in Moberly, Missouri. Charles died in Moberly on December 13, 1990, and it is believed that Anna is the Anna Mengel who died on April 4, 1992. Anna and Charles Mengel had one son:
Charles Edmund Mengel, born on November 29, 1931, in Baltimore. He was a physician. Charles was married first to Sally Saboch, who died in 1976, and on June 5, 1978, he was married to Paula Padgett. In 1987, Charles was medical director of the nursing home in Moberly where his parents lived. He had six children: Cheryl (born in 1956 and married to Bradley Hartmann), Charles (1957), Gregory (1959), Scott (1961), Carol Ann (1961), and Michael (1983).
George David Apgar, Anna's brother, was born in Allentown on June 13, 1910. George graduated from Carson Military Academy in Bloomfield, Pennsylvania, and studied briefly at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster. During World War II, he worked for Curtis Wright Aircraft in Paterson, New Jersey; later he was inspector of small parts and gears for aircraft motors at Ranger Aircraft in Farmingdale, Long Island. When he became shift supervisor, one of the people he supervised was Rose Hacker Caplan, who had been born in New York City on January 23, 1913; they were married soon afterward. George and Rose intended to go to the West Coast after the war was over, but they only got as far as Reno. At first George worked for the Reno fire department, and then he joined Rose in working for various casinos in Reno and Lake Tahoe. He worked as a supervisor in Reno until he retired in 1974, and they went to live in desert in California. Rose died in Reno on June 28, 1983, at the age of 70, and George moved to Moberly, Missouri, to be near his sister. In 1987, he moved back to Desert Hot Springs, California, and lived in a mobile home. He provided comments for this account. He died in Riverside, California, on November 22, 1993, at the age of 83.
Lew was a natural mechanic and inventor. In the course of his life, he was a skilled machinist, clockmaker, cabinet maker and photographer, among many other things. He was always looking into some mechanical problem, trying to find some new solution to make life easier. Even though he was ill for five years in the 1890s, the illness did not prevent his inquiring and inventive mind from active work. While he did his share of chores around the house (including caring for the children and pitting cherries and doing the laundry), he always had some kind of project on the go, or he was writing for catalogues and materials that would contribute to these projects. Often he was helped by his brother in law George Apgar.
Here are excerpts from his diary in June 1894, when Lew was 25:
Similarly, Lew Boyer's daily expenditures reflected his eclectic interests. For example, on November 24 and 26, 1894, he bought:
Three years later, in 1897, when he was 27, his interests were just as inventive and technical, despite the continuing health problem. Some further excerpts from his diary:
When the family lived on Lincoln Street, Lew got dismayed with the washing machine that had a hand powered "agitator." Someone had to stand by the machine and move the handle back and forth to clean the clothes; it was a waste of time. Taking note that water service in South Side was free, Lew rigged up a form of Pelton Wheel. Water played on the paddles or cups and operated the agitator. Running the washing machine thereafter required only a turn of the valve to permit the water in the hose to play on the wheel; the runoff water was simply channeled down the drain. (It was after she finished the washing one day that young Dave chased his mother with a hose -- right into the house -- and drenched her.)
After the family moved to Ferry Street, they arranged to have transported to the new home all of the woodworking tools of Samuel Waltman from his house on Grant Street in South Side. Lew's son Dave recalls running down to the center of Easton to hire a horse drawn carriage to go back up the hill (from where it had actually started), load up the Waltman tools, and move them back down the hill and out Northampton Street to Wilson Borough. The process consumed the entire day.
One of Lew's inventions was a metal scribing device, apparently intended for use in making marks on metal. It is believed that he applied for a patent for the device. See his name inscribed on the device and a dime included in the photograph for size comparison.
Lew's children soon learned to use the lathes; before the electricity was installed, the boys even provided the power for their father through the foot treadles and hand cranks. In the process the machinist and carpentry skills were passed along. In 2005, Anna Boyer, widow of Lew's son Art, was still using a "Liberty Bell" table lamp that Lew turned out on his lathe in the Ferry Street cellar. He also built a grandfather clock. His nephew Charles Waltman recalled that “Uncle Lew” constructed the clockworks and that either his father, Arthur Waltman, or his grandfather, Samuel, had built the cabinet out of walnut.
Charles wrote in 1987 that he recalled “my many visits with my father to the home of Aunt Hetty and Uncle Lew on Sunday afternoons. At Uncle Lew’s home, I was fascinated by his model mechanical steam engines which I believe he built. He had an Edison Gramaphone with a large collection of wax cylinder records, and I particularly enjoyed listening to the band music.”
Lew also was a professional photographer, at least part-time in the 1890s and early 1900s. He took pictures, including photos of commercial and manufacturing sites, developed the films, made the prints, and from time totime he sold a few. The large wooden plate camera that he used has been donated to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, along with several of his photographs of foundries in South Easton. Lew also took photos of large groups in industrial settings. He would arrange the photograph, set a timer, and then run around to appear in the picture on the side of the group. See the example in the larger picture on the left and the inset on the right.
Part of his photographic effort apparently was directed to his parents and sister, but the results have not been located. In January 1894, he made note of money spent on photos of his father, mother and sisters. On February 5, 1894, he spent $3.00 on "my Mother's and Sister Lizzie's photos." Again in July 1894, he spent $5.00 on "Mama's picture."
The photography interest was also one that was shared by Henrietta, possibly because more than one person was required for the printing. On Wednesday, April 21, 1897, Lew recorded that "wife and me finished a batch of prints," and on April 23 he wrote that "I developed 5 photos with the assistance of my wife and took prints of some and others that I had developed. Wife and me also exposed 2 plates of Elwood." Henrietta was a photographer as well. On September l, he wrote, "I went up home for the photo of Waltmans. After coming home wife took two photos of the boys (Elwood and Ralph) and copied the Waltman group."
Egg production was another interest, although a frustrating one. Much of Lew Boyer's diary for 1897 is related to this effort. There are many entries relating to the building of brooders and the purchase of hens. Somewhat triumphantly, he recorded on July 14, 1897, that "the hen I got from Mr. Nolf started to lay today." Total production for the day was l egg. On some days in August there actually were two eggs, but the frus tration is evident in the note that the total production for August was 28 eggs, not even a one a day average. In September there were only 12 eggs, but he was pleased that "8 chicks came out" on September 15. The 1897 diary also contains this rather interesting recipe "to make hens lay":
2 ozs Red Pepper
Mix and feed to poultry l
tablespoon to every
Lew also was interested in clocks, and he built a very large grandfather's clock that stood near the side door of his house at 1900 Ferry Street. In the Swiss style, the clock had little doors at the top, from which little people would emerge as the clock struck the hour. Drawings indicate that the clock was built in 1906, when Lew was 37. After Lew died, the clock went to his son Walter and later was kept by Walter's descendants. Following the interests of their father, Walter and brother Dave later proceeded to make their own grandfather clocks, and these were also in the possession of family members.
Since he was fascinated by all kinds of gadgetry, it was natural that Lew was interested in cars. He bought his first automobile, a Duryea, in 1909. He gave up driving while he was bearing the expense of raising this large family, but in 1929 he bought a new Pontiac. Cars were much more complicated by that time, and despite his mechanical skills, he never quite got the hang of driving this one. One day he drove it to inspect the 80 acre farm he had bought as an investment; the farm was located between Tatamy Road and the Bushkill Creek outside Easton. On the way back, Lew ran the car up onto a bank of grass. Frustrated, he told one of his sons to put the car back in the garage, and he never drove it again.
The Boyers later owned another car, a 1936 Pontiac, but their children did all of the driving. They took their parents to church, to their own houses, and on longer trips. Photographs record Lew and Hettie at the state capital in Harrisburg, on the steps of the Capitol in Washington, and at the Jersey shore. But those apparently were the greatest distances they were known to journey. Sons Walter Stanley, a missionary in China, and Ralph Waltman, a medic in France during World War I, became important links to the wider world.
The farm that Lew bought consisted of nearly 80 acres, situated partly in Palmer Township and partly in Forks Township, between the Easton Stockertown Road (now called the Tatamy Road) and the Bushkill Creek. Lew, together with Elizabeth Gardner (the wife of real estate broker Paul Gardner) and Clayton Uhler bought the land on December 21, 1927, for $8,450 "and other valuable consideration" from the estate of the late Milton Frankenfield. It is not known how much of the capital was put up by Lew. At the time of the purchase, the land was rented to tenant farmers, who were not very good either at growing crops or at paying rent. New land use and sanitary regulations also imposed new costs on the owners of the land, making the farm overall a rather unhappy experience.
Much of the land was later subdivided into lots and sold. Blueprints found in the late 1990s showed an embryonic residential development called “Bushkill Heights,” but it apparently met with only limited success. Nevertheless, the Boyers left their mark. There was Lewis Avenue and Elwood Avenue, among others, among the subdivision roads. Three of the lots eventually went to accommodate the Tracy Elementary School, along Tatamy Road. It was understood that Lew offered lots to his children if they would begin immediately to build houses for themselves. Only Elwood did so. About 60 per cent of the land was sold in 1943 to William and Ford Corrierre, who paid $6,800 for the property. By 1985, developers had erected very impressive and very expensive brick and stone homes on the property.
Some of Lew's photos, taken with his large plate-glass camera around 1905 are below.
Despite his interest in the Lutheran and Methodist churches, Lew also became interested in Christian Science at the time of his illness in 1893. His diary for that year possibly written just after the onset of his problems, made note of "those who have written on Christian science and mind care are: Evans, Grimke, Stuary, Arens, Taylor, Baldwin, Hazzard, Nichols, Marston, etc." And he also wrote a reminder of the "Science of Health, by Mrs. Eddy."
Later, after moving to Lincoln Street and getting a job, his interest in Christian Science seemed even stronger, although he pursued it along with his active Methodist interest. On Sunday, June 12, 1898, he wrote, "in the morning I went to Sunday School, after which I went to Easton to the Science and Health meeting. In the evening I went to church." On Thursday, June 23, "worked all day, and in the evening I went over to the Christian Science meeting." Over at least a three week period, Lew and his friend Percy Wilhelm went to Christian science meetings twice a week.
When the family moved to Wilson Borough, they joined Calvary Methodist Church at 14th and Lehigh Streets, and they were very active in church affairs. Lew was treasurer of the Men’s Bible Class. On Sunday mornings, the Boyers traditionally could be found in the third row of the center pews, accompanied by children or grandchildren who drove them to church. If Henrietta felt too ill to attend (she suffered from heart problems in her later years), she listened to the service of an Easton church on radio station WEST.
After the Boyers joined Calvary Church, it became a pivotal place for the Boyer family. The church was the scene of numerous marriages of family members, baptisms and other events. Many Boyers played active roles in the choir, Sunday School classes, and other activities.
Just the immediate family of Lew Boyer was testimony to the religious interest that existed: One son (Walter) became a missionary and clergyman; the only daughter (Ruth) married a minister; one son (Ralph) became a salesman for a religious publisher and operated a Christian bookstore in Easton; and at least four sons (Ralph, Art, Dave and Jack) were song leaders and undertook other active roles in their own churches. Elwood was a leader in the Calvary Church choir, and many other Boyers sang there. Beyond that, two of Lew Boyer's grandchildren (Jean and Barbara) married ministers.
Besides the church, Lew was also (as his obituary noted) a member of Dallas Masonic Lodge, of Easton; the Lehighton and Easton lodges of the International Order of Odd Fellows, and the Washington camp of the Patriotic Order of Sons of America, in Easton.
The Boyer household was always a busy place. There were, first of all, the "two families" of Boyer children, as some liked to call them. There were Elwood, Ralph, Walter and Jack, born from 1894 to 1903, then a six-year rest, and then the "second family" of Art, Dave and Ruth, born from 1909 to 1913. (Neighbors said that Lew Boyer always wanted a daughter, and that he didn't stop having children until he got one. See details on the children here. The next generation straightened out the male female order, however, with 11 girls and 5 boys, making it 12 girls and 11 boys over two Boyer generations.)
Indeed, there was a wide space of years within the generations of the Boyer family. Some 19 years separated the births of the oldest and youngest of the seven children of Lew and Henrietta Boyer, and an even wider age range occurred for their 16 grandchildren. The first grandchild, Floyd Elwood Boyer, Jr., born on March 25, 1915, is separated by 33 years from the last-born grandchild, Linda L. Matchette Haskins, born September 19, 1948. As a result, there is some "overlap" in generations: one great-grandchild was born (in 1943) five years before the last grandchild (in 1948), and 19 great-grandchildren of Lew and Henrietta Boyer were born after the birth of the first great-great-grandchild.
On Ferry Street, besides the immediate family,
Sabina ("Bine") Taylor Waltman, moved in with the Boyers, along with
Henrietta's sister Mary (Aunt Mame); Bine's husband,
Samuel Waltman, had died in 1911. Sabina lived with the family until
her death in 1920, and Aunt Mame lived there until both Lew and Het
passed away in 1948. In addition, the first three young children of
first son Elwood lived there for a time after the death of their mother
in 1927, and one of them (Shirley) until she married at age 21 in 1942.
Thus the Boyer household had at least one resident under the age of 21
for 48 consecutive years, from 1894 to 1942, and some had to sleep in
the attic to make room.
Lewis E. Boyer, head of household, 60, owner of house valued at $17,000, household includes a radio, age at first marriage 24
Henrietta Boyer, wife of the head of household, 55
Arthur Boyer, son, 20
David Boyer, son, 19
Ruth Boyer, daughter, 17
Shirley Boyer, niece, 8.
Mary Waltman (Aunt Mame), at age 61, was listed in this census as a roomer -- not at 1900 Ferry Street but next door, at 1902, with Samuel and Lillian Werkheiser. Because of the number of children in the Boyer household, it was understood that she had a room next door – and also at one time down the block with a family named Ott -- but spent most of her time with the Boyers. Later she had her own room at 1900 Ferry.
As was necessary with such a large household, the family routine assigned responsibilities to everyone. Henrietta did most of the cooking, but everyone in the house learned how to cook and clean and use the machinery in the basement, and these were skills they kept all their lives.
The Boyer children were a lively and fun loving group, partly prodded by their mother's instinct for playing practical jokes. Lewis Elmer was more serious, but his interest in photography undoubtedly was a stimulus to have the children "ham it up" for the camera.
In the l980s, the Boyers were still laughing about Newt Haas' horse "Harry." Newt (whose daughter Miriam later married Lew's son Walter) ran a grocery store on the South Side in the early l900s and kept his team of delivery horses in a barn not far from the rear of the Boyer house on Lincoln Street. Newt's brother Ernie would take orders for groceries, and then hitch up the horses to pick up and deliver the orders. The problem was that Harry didn't like Ernie. Every time Ernie tried to put the bridle on Harry, Harry would move over to squeeze Ernie against the wall of the barn. He never did this to anyone else. Even within their home, the Boyer boys could hear Ernie shouting, almost every day, "No, Harry, no! Get back! Get back!"
The location of the house on Lincoln Street, just across from Hay's Cemetery, also provided the prank-loving Boyer boys with opportunities to frighten the neighbors, playing ghosts in the cemetery on Halloween nights and at other times. Besides that, Walter, a budding entrepreneur, sold ice cream on the sidewalk outside the cemetery to visitors on Memorial Day.
Although Henrietta was the chief teaser in the family, Lew did his own share. One day, Lew shaved off his mustache, and as he sat in his usual chair in the Lincoln Street house, he kept his hand over his mouth. Young Dave and Art came down the steps. One of them said, "Morning, Pop." Lew took his hand from his face. "That ain't Pop," said the other. Lew put his hand back. "It is so Pop." He took his hand away. "No, it ain't."
The boys liked to watch the lamplighter who came to the corner of McKeen and Lincoln Streets each night. He would pull down the pole to lower the lamp, light the lamp, and push the pole back up again. In the morning he came around again to the put lamp out. Lew’s nephew Charles Waltman wrote in 1987 of his visits to Uncle Lew or Grandmother Waltman on Grant Street. He said the Boyer boys also visited, and sometimes we played games like “button, button, who’s got the button.”
As the family got older, a visitor to the Boyer home when the children were around could never be sure what to expect. Meals were usually served at a large round table that could accommodate the entire crowd, and the gang was often at its worst behavior. Son Jack brought home his bride for Sunday dinner in 1929, and since the others had not previously met Carrie Snyder, they gave her a show of what life was like at the Boyer home. Like the dealer in a poker game, for example, one of Jack's brothers "dealt" slices of bread rapid-fire around the table; Jack, usually one of the chief clowns, was mortified. Even in church, one never knew what to expect of the Boyer boys. Once at Calvary Church, Dave was in the choir when Henrietta noticed a ripple of laughter pass from one end of the choir loft to the other. Assuming the worst, Henrietta turned to Lew in their customary third row pew and asked "What did Dave do now?"
When the gang was outside clowning around, a favorite trick was to try to embarrass the Hahns, who lived on the other side of 19th Street. The boys would wave hello at the curtained windows, although they could see no one there; the Hahns, erroneously thinking they had been seen, would part the curtains to wave back. In 1928, at the end of his lead performance in Stop, Thief", the Wilson High School senior class play, Art was surprised by a presentation sent to the stage by his brother Jack; in lieu of the customary flowers at the curtain call, Art got a pineapple.
Four of the boys -- Elwood, Ralph, Art and Dave -- even had their own quartet and recorded several songs on breakable 78 rpm discs (at least one remained in 2005), singing church hymns and other songs, including "The Old Rugged Cross" and "My Anchor Holds," favorites of their mother. In later life, the fact that all six of the Boyer sons were somewhat similar in appearance, all characterized by minimal hair, was a source of continuing amusement and confusion, a confusion which all of their lives they in fact encouraged at appropriate moments. This was particularly true of Art and Dave, who lived across the street from each other for many years and delighted in confusing mailmen, deliverymen, hospital nurses, neighbors and others. Once Dave was invited to play Santa Claus at a party, and he persuaded Art to play a companion, but drunken, Santa Claus at the same party. There was serious concern and confusion among the sponsors as to which one was the "real Boyer Santa."
The whole gang, spouses included, was capable of drawing puzzled stares from on lookers at the Ocean City boardwalk as their performed antics on bicycles in outlandish costumes for their own amusement. At family reunions at Ruth's seaside house, they also played tricks on each other arranging the bed slats to collapse on Dot and Dave so they could rush in with cameras to record the crash, or putting large and loud rat traps, triggered with threads, under the bed of Walter and Miriam, or putting under Jack and Carrie's bed a vacuum cleaner plugged into the bathroom light switch so that it came on with a roar whenever someone threw the switch. See pictures of the Boyers clowning at Ocean City in the photo gallery.
After the children were grown, the home at 1900 Ferry Street remained a center of attraction for family activities, and was the site of Sunday visits after the children all had homes of their own. The grandchildren, who called Lew "Pop-pop," liked riding tricycles and running around the broad front porch that ran on two sides of the brick corner house. They also liked listening to the wind up Victrola to such family favorites as "Cohen on the Telephone." They frequently found themselves giving impromptu concerns for Grandma and Pop-pop on piano, trumpet, or whatever was being learned at the moment.
The house was also a convenient base, just a half block from the steps overlooking Northampton Street, for the grandchildren to watch the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus parade by en route from the train station to its performance site in Meuser Park. The house also served as the site for the annual family reunion on New Year's Day, when everyone brought special dishes. The children arranged special celebrations on the 40th, 45th, 50th and 54th anniversaries of the parents' marriage, and these were duly reported in the pages of the Easton Express. There were prayers, and songs, and humorous skits. The 45th anniversary in 1938 featured a winding scroll that summarized the life history of Lew and Henrietta. Noting the birth of each child, an entry would add some significant event: Jack "went to the store in the nude." Dave "chased mother with a hose at age 4."
The seven children were always very close. During the lives of their parents, and afterward, they kept in frequent touch by mail and by phone. Summer and the Christmas season always seemed a time for reunions, first on Ferry Street, later at the homes of Elwood or Walter, sometimes in public parks. In October 1972, Walter made an effort to formalize the communications with a detailed letter to his siblings – two and a half pages of typed small print.
Here is a proposal . . . that there be herewith instituted: the writing of a letter by one member of the clan to the other members of the clan, each in order of seniority, upon the first day of the month, and following, beginning with the eldest surviving member, being myself. So, let this be considered the issue for the first day of November 1972.
This was followed by family news, reports of family illnesses and a commentary on the fall foliage. Evidence remains of seven subsequently monthly letters (Jack’s letter, on May 9, 1973, began “DEAR . . . . ALL OF YOUSE: ---“), but they seem to have stopped after that.
See more photos of the Lew Boyer's family in this Photo Gallery.
Retirement was not something that slowed Lew Boyer down very much. In particular his interest in things mechanical continued unabated. For example, on October 9, 1946, at the age of 77, Lew wrote a long letter to his son Walter about grandfather clocks that he was busy making with his sons. "I was up to John Sebolt's last night," Lew wrote, "and he gave me some posts for clock plates and a jig for drilling pin wheels. He was down here the other day and loaned me the jigs for drilling the plates, and he has a number of wheels and other parts for making clock works." And the letter goes on for three pages.
With virtually no warning of ill health, Lew Boyer died unexpectedly of a stroke in Easton Hospital on Friday, November 26, 1948, at 9:05 a.m., at the age of 79. Henrietta Waltman Boyer died of heart failure at home just 20 days later, on Thursday, December 16, 1948, at the age of 73. About 2 p.m., she told her sister Mame that "I think I'll lie down for a little while," and she died minutes later on the sofa in her living room. They had been married nearly 56 years. In 2010, the descendants of Lewis Elmer and Henrietta Waltman Boyer numbered seven children, 16 grandchildren, 32 great-grandchildren, 33 great-great-grandchildren, and 10 great-great-great-grandchildren.
Like many of their relatives, the Boyers were buried in Hay's Cemetery, on the South Side of Easton, within sight of their Lincoln Street house. The graves are easily located about 50 yards from the Packer Street entrance to the cemetery, in Plot 161, Section E. They are on the edge of a circular drive about 50 yards directly south of the old Hay's Chapel, in a line with the Packer Street end of the building. Within the plot are the graves of Lew and Henrietta's son Elwood, his wives Marjorie and Enid, and Elwood's son Walt. Pallbearers at Lew’s funeral were his grandsons Floyd Boyer, Walter Boyer and Donald Boyer, as well as Walter Jennings, Fred Nott and Charles Fuller, members of Calvary Methodist Church.
When Lew and Het died, their estate, including the Ferry Street house, was appraised at just over $35,000. After payment of expenses (including, for example, $550 funeral costs for each, $41 for the doctor for Lew, $5 for the ambulance, $2 for the doctor for Het), the estate was distributed among their seven children and granddaughter Shirley Boyer Kovacs, who had grown up with the family. Provisions were also made for Calvary Methodist Church and Christ Evangelical Church in South Easton. The Ferry Street house was sold for $12,500; it was subsequently sold in 1970 for $20,000, in 1978 for $44,900, in 1984 for $60,000, and in 1993 for $124,000.
In letters to the two churches, Walter Boyer made a presentation on behalf of the family. His letter to Calvary minister George W. Eppeheimer, Jr., read in part:
This letter bears a token of love from the children of the late Mr. and Mrs. Lewis E. Boyer. . . . Wealth never came to them in terms of worldly goods. They were parents of a large family and they found it necessary to work hard and to live sacrificially in order to meet the economic needs of the household. But, being humble believers in the gospel of Christ, they rejoined in the riches of the grace of God. It was their joy to attend the services of the church, and this they did, as long as it was physically possible for them to do so. Their home was ever open to cottage prayer meetings, for prayer meant much to them. Music filled a large place in their lives. Gatherings of the children and their families were never complete without a hymn sing. The work of the Kingdom of God was important to them.
NOTE: Lew and Henrietta, several of their children, and numerous other Boyers and Waltmans are buried in Hay's Cemetery in South Easton. For photographs of the tombstones, go to http://www.frankenfield-beam.org/Cemeteries/Hays-B3.htm.
1 He should not be confused with relatives of somewhat similar name and age: Lewis E. Boyer (1863-1928) of Reading, Lewis Boyer (1849-1871) of Orwigsburg, Lewis Elwood Boyer (born in 1922) of Schuylkill Haven, or Lewis Ellsworth Boyer (1861-1922) of Los Angeles. All are descended from the immigrant Johann Friedrich Boyer -- the first through JFB’s son George and his son Daniel, the second through JFB’s son Johann Jacob and his son Benjamin, the third through JFB’s son Johann Gottfried and his son Abraham, and the fourth through Johann Gottfried and his son Daniel. The Lewis Elmer Boyer of this chapter was descended through JFB’s son George (of the second generation), David (of the third), and George (of the fourth).