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Our Family’s 20th Century History in Biographies .. 2
Alison D. (Berger) Boor

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Benjamin S (for Sontag) Berger (Grandpa Berger) Feb 13, 1871 - May 20, 1939, age 68
Buried at Zion Blue Mountain, Strausstown

 Benjamin Berger Pennsylvania Dutch folk called him “Bench.” After a childhood on the farm, he married Mary Jane Potteiger the day after he turned 20, February 14, 1891—his parents had said he could not be married a day earlier. Grandpa Berger worked the family farm until his mother (Christina Sontag) sold it. He then moved his family into Strausstown. He worked in an iron foundry in Hamburg, coming home tired and very dirty; Grandma Berger would heat water for him to wash with when he came home and would wash his feet for him. (Aunt Joann has an iron frog that Grandpa Berger made at the foundry.) He also delivered newspapers every night on his way home from Hamburg where the Reading papers were dropped by the train. He threw the papers right across the front seat of the car and out the window (“he had a mean swing”—Doris); on Saturdays he made a special trip to get the newspapers. When Mom went with him, she would pester him to let her try to throw them—she always missed and had to get out and carry the paper to the door. According to Doris, part of the deal for a child going along to deliver papers was that you got ice cream in Hamburg—a ten cent cone with two scoops, which was a big deal during the Depression. At an earlier time, Grandpa also ran a “stage” between Strausstown and Hamburg, carrying people, products and possibly mail. In photos it looks more like a wagon than the kind of stagecoach featured in Western movies.

He was a quiet, patient, kind, man who smoked White Owl cigars, and ate “everything that was wrong for him—he even put butter on chocolate cake” (Doris). He was not effusive, but did care for his family—once he drove down to West Lawn on a Saturday morning to check on his son Samuel’s family—they hadn’t been in touch recently. He saw that everything was okay and went home!

He was not a regular churchgoer (although at one time he served on church council), and in later years, he only went when they had communion. His name is included in the document that is sealed into the 1904 cornerstone of the church: he was a Reformed deacon. He was on the church building committee. Members of the church were taxed to raise the funds to build the church; he paid off his tax by using his wagon to bring stones down from Blue Mountain for the church building.

When he died, Grandma Berger said, “He was a good man—he wasn’t a religious man, but he was a good man.” They were devoted to each other. The day he died, he had gone for a shave, came home, lay on his couch to read the paper and “the newspaper crumpled up.” He died of a heart attack; the viewing was at the house and later the coffin was carried out the second front door, which led to the parlor. He is buried at Zion Blue Mountain.

Linked to  Alison D. (Berger) Boor
Benjamin S Berger (40053) 
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