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Our Family’s 20th Century History in Biographies .. 3
Alison D. (Berger) Boor

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Mary Jane Potteiger Berger (Grandma Berger) April 29, 1871 - March 3, 1953, age 82
Buried at Zion Blue Mountain, Strausstown
Children: Daniel, Maud, Samuel, Albert

Grandma Berger Grandma Berger had a rough childhood; her father, Daniel Potteiger (Battiger) died young. It was the second marriage (or involvement producing children—the first was with Jeremiah Griesemer, and they had one son, Milton) for her mother, Anna Heilig; Anna’s third marriage was to William Scheidy, and their son Charles was the father of Esther Henne. Anna’s brother was the recruitment officer for Company H 151 PA Volunteers (the Civil War outfit formed from Upper Tulpehocken and Jefferson Twps men); his letters home were published in a book, “Appointment at Gettysburg.”

Mary Jane probably grew up in Bernville, the location noted on her autograph book; some people called her Molly. She had one brother, Albert, (raised by an uncle who educated him) who became a veterinarian and moved to Selinsgrove. (I knew two of his children, Mildred Potteiger, an English teacher, and Helen Oberdorf, a phys ed teacher—both long retired by the time I got to Selinsgrove. His son, Jack, was a dancer at Radio City and the New York Ballet Opera; later he taught dance at Catharine Behney Dance Studios at 11 N. 8th St., Reading). She had one sister, Annie Miller, who lived in Reading.

Grandma was shuffled around the family and had little if any education. Her early married life was not easy either, as she lived on the Berger farm with her mother-in-law Christina Sontag—and later had to put up with Christina moving in with them. For a time she worked in a shirt factory and would bring home collars to turn; Poppop remembered helping her turn them; she got paid by the piece.

After Grandpa Berger’s death, her children agreed that Aunt Maud and Uncle Claude would keep the house in Strausstown, taking care of Grandma Berger. The three of them lived together in the house in Strausstown until Grandma’s death. She was involved in the church, and at least one woman’s lodge (POSA) where she was the secretary for a time.

When the grandchildren grew up, Grandma Berger made five quilts. She had a big chicken dinner and invited all the grandchildren and gave them each a quilt, red schoolhouses for the boys (Russ and Dick) and butterflies for the girls (Kathryn, Doris and Betty).

She wasn’t as warm a person as Grandma Unger, but she was a good person. She had been pushed around a lot and had to work hard all her life. Yet she must have had a sense of humor—when she woke up her son Samuel to go to school she would say, at 7:01, “Get up, it’s going on 8:00!” One of her favorite words was “commence;” somebody always “commenced” to do something, when Grandma told the story.

She loved her husband and her children and they were devoted to her. When her boys left home she said she hoped she wouldn’t see their picture in the paper unless it was for something good that they did. She loved Aunt Maud, although they fought; but her sons were faithful to her, visiting frequently. Despite her lack of education, she wrote a letter to her son Samuel while he was in the army in Florida during World War I that is a family treasure, combining the minutia of everyday life with love of family, God and country. She died at 82 of congestive heart failure when “her heart drowned.” Services were at Schucker Funeral Home in Rehersburg; she is buried at Zion Blue Mountain, Strausstown.


Linked to  Alison D. (Berger) Boor
Mary Jane Potteiger (40098) 

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