Me­mo­rial for Opera House 170 fire vic­tims to be held

Pub­lic in­vited to at­tend cer­e­mony at Fairview Ceme­tery

The Boyertown Area Times - - FRONT PAGE -

The third an­nual me­mo­rial ser­vice for the 170 vic­tims of the Rhoads Opera House fire will be held on Sun­day, Jan. 15, at 1 p.m. at the Fairview Ceme­tery in Boy­er­town to com­mem­o­rate the vic­tims of that fire.

This event is spon­sored by the Boy­er­town Area His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety and the pub­lic is cor­dially in­vited to at­tend the short cer­e­mony. The So­ci­ety is es­pe­cially in­ter­ested in honor­ing descen­dants of those vic­tims, and they are in­vited to make com­ments about their an­ces­tors’ ex­pe­ri­ences in that holo­caust.

Twenty-five of those vic­tims could not be iden­ti­fied, and their burial on Sun­day, Jan­uary 19, 1908, was viewed by 15,000 spec­ta­tors who had ar­rived in town for the cer­e­mony. A stately pro­ces­sion of hearses be­gan promptly at 9 a.m. from the Wash­ing­ton School, whose front door was draped in black and its flag flown at half-mast. Thou­sands of res­i­dents and strangers lined the route, most moved to tears as they stood at silent at­ten­tion with bared heads in re­spect to the dead. Mov­ing up Philadel­phia Av­enue, each hearse was ac­com­pa­nied by an honor guard of four pall­bear­ers, all dressed in black and wear­ing white gloves.

The uniden­ti­fied bod­ies were placed in in­di­vid­ual cas­kets, in separate graves, di­vided by 9 inch brick walls. It was the busiest day for the Read­ing Rail­road Com­pany since its open­ing in 1869, bring­ing 7000 peo­ple on spe­cial ex­cur­sion trains from as far away as New York City. The rest came by trol­ley, horse and buggy, a few by mo­tor car, and some on bi­cy­cle. There were many news­pa­per re­porters in town.

Mem­bers of the State po­lice and of­fi­cers from the Read­ing city po­lice force di­rected traffic and main­tained or­der. It was a trib­ute to their good work that events pro­gressed so smoothly that day.

The fire took place on Jan­uary 13, 1908.


The his­toric fire took place on Jan­uary 13,1908 . Days fol­low­ing, the Pro­ces­sion of Hearses carry the uniden­ti­fied to the Fairview Ceme­tery.

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