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May 10, 2010

The Buss, Smith,

Lee and Royer Families
of Northampton County, Pennsylvania

by Neil A. Boyer

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            This website focuses on four families who were among the ancestors of Dorothy Buss Boyer (1914-1987), the wife of S. David Boyer (1911-2006), of Easton, Pennsylvania.  It is presented in three sections, which demonstrate how the lives of these families were intertwined in Northampton County, Pennsylvania.  (Click on the three main headings below.)       


This part looks at the descendants of William I. Buss (1825-1891), the earliest identifiable member of this family.  William apparently had two wives and five or six children.  One of his children was Ida Buss (1862-c.1930), who married George Hoff and lived in Warren County, New Jersey.   William's son James Martin Buss (1857-1935) was a roofer and slater who lived in Easton.  He was married to Mary Jane Royer (1859-1914) of Cherryville, and they had four children.  Their only son was William Thomas Buss (1888-1970). William married Mary Catherine Smith (1889-1949), and they had three daughters.  One of them, Dorothy Buss (1914-1987), married S. David Boyer (1911-2006), also of Easton. This part includes a section on the family of Nina Buss Purdy (1885-1957), a sister of William Thomas Buss.  The Purdy family was very active in athletics in Easton.


This part looks at John Schmidt (1838?-1890), who was born in Germany and traveled to America and served in the Civil War.  After the war, he changed his last name to Smith, and he married Mary Ann Lee (1850?-1931) in Polk County, Iowa.  Over time, they settled in Easton, Pennsylvania, and had nine children.  The last of them, Mary Catherine Smith (1889-1949) married William T. Buss (1888-1970).  

Mary Ann Lee was the child of William Lee (1835-1860?) and Bridget McNiff Lee (1835-1893), both born in Ireland.  William and Bridget also had a son, William Lee (1855-1942), and possibly a third child, Frank Lee.  After William Lee died, Bridget remarried, to James McGuire.  At some point Bridget and James moved to Easton, Pennsylvania, and lived not far from her children, Mary Ann Lee Smith and William Lee.  This section discusses the mysteries in the Smith-Lee relationship: When and how Bridget Lee met James McGuire, when and where Mary Ann Lee was born, how Mary Ann met John Schmidt, and how and why the key members of this family moved to Easton in the 1870s and 1880s.  It also demonstrates the difficulty that Mary Ann had in obtaining a widow's pension from the U.S. Government based on the Civil War participation of her husband.


This part looks at the family of John Reiher/Reyer, who was born in 1769 in Germany and who traveled to America and settled in the area of Cherryville, near Kreidersville, about ten miles north of Allentown in Northampton County.  John's son, George William Reyer (1806-1893), apparently is the family member who changed the name to Royer.   Known as William, he married Maria (Mary) Steward (1804-1869), and they had three children. William was a wheelright, as was his only son, Thomas Royer (1833-1910).  Thomas married Sarah Ann Kuntz (1837-1903), and they had ten children.  

The second child of Thomas and Sarah Royer, Mary Jane Royer (1859-1914), moved to Easton to work as a domestic servant when she was about 20, and there she met James Martin Buss (1857-1935). They married and had four children.  Among Thomas Royer's other children was Thomas Steward Royer, who was born in 1876 and died after 1946.  This Thomas and his siblings maintained the Royer household in Cherryville.  In 1995, descendants of the Buss family visited the Royer home and were entertained by, among others, Thomas Steward Royer, Jr. (1909-1996), the third in a line of individuals named Thomas Royer.



Neil Boyer's Home Page
The Boyer Family of  Easton
Boyer Family of Orwigsburg
Origins of the Boyer Family
Association of American Boyers
The Immigrant Johann Friedrich Boyer
Children of Johann Friedrich Boyer
David Boyer, Gunmaker of Orwigsburg
Waltman Family of Northampton County


About the Author

Neil A. Boyer was born in Easton, Pennsylvania, in 1938.  He grew up in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, then graduated from Wilson High School in Easton, Moravian College in Bethlehem, and New York University School of Law.  He was a teacher and lawyer in the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers to go to Ethiopia in 1962.  Upon his return, he worked for the Peace Corps in Washington and then spent nearly 40 years with the Department of State, representing the United States at meetings of the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, and the Universal Postal Union.  He retired from government in 2003 and lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. For more information on Neil  Boyer, go here. 

Neil Boyer is the author of The Boyers of Easton, a 319-page book, published in 1987, with more than 300 photographs, focusing on his grandfather, Lewis Elmer Boyer (1869-1948), of Easton, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. That book traced the Boyer family backward from Lew Boyer to his ancestors, as far as Johann Friedrich Boyer (1718-1804), who sailed to America from Rotterdam aboard the Nancy in 1752.  The book also went forward to Lew Boyer’s children and their children.  This paper grew out of an effort to bring the Boyer book (including the Jackson chapters) up to date, drawing on new information and the growing potential of the internet for genealogical research. Links to the Boyer family research can be found in the list above.

Most of the content of this section on the Buss, Royer, Smith and Lee families was developed by Mildred Boyer Harris, born in Easton in 1932, daughter of Dorothy Buss and David Boyer, and a first cousin of Neil Boyer. Other assistance in research and analysis, particularly with the Smith and Lee families, was provided by Terry J. Lee, of Williams Township, outside of Easton, and Lynn Plummer Murphy, of North Port, Florida.  All four participants attended  Wilson High School in Easton.

Corrections to this material and supplemental information are welcome. 
Please contact Neil Boyer by email at