All for the Love of Apple Butter

By Jennifer Hetrick

After buying the land in 1885 where Bauman’s Apple Butter stands today, John W. Bauman joined a carriage factory to the little stretch of Sassamansville.  By 1892, he purchased a cider press to expand possibilities in production and sales, as competing with larger carriage manufacturers at the time became too difficult.
Thankfully, John very clearly chose a cunning and unique route in those days, many years ago, since his grandson, Harvey, and his family, are still running the operation, bringing great respect to the Bauman legacy.  Harvey pointed out that John came from the Congo-Barto area, as did most Baumans.
It wasn’t until eight years after adding the cider press to the business scenery along Hoffmansville Road that John began making apple butter, and carriage production began to slow as the fall fruit persuasion picked up more attention from locals.
“He was very mechanically inclined and had an apprenticeship in Schwenksville,” Harvey said.  On July 11, 1905, John received his patent from the U.S. Government for his steam-cooker used for producing apple butter.  He had filed his application on November 10, 1904.  A copy of the patent is available on the Bauman’s Apple Butter website at
While apple butter stood alone for a long time, other flavors began to trickle in as the decades flew forward.  Eventually, Harvey’s father, Stanley, began to mingle the lure of other fruits into their sales.
Harvey and his wife, Kathy, took over the business in 1977.
Today, pear, strawberry-raspberry, apricot, honey peach, plum, strawberry-rhubarb, blueberry, pumpkin, sweet tomato, cherry, peach, and strawberry butters line the shelves inside the Douglass Township storefront.  Strawberry, cranberry, and cider applesauces are another part of the lineup well-enjoyed by those who visit to fulfill their Pennsylvania Dutch cravings.  Ketchup, peach preserves and chili sauce are also a part of the production, with a lot of the tomato-oriented endeavors in gratitude of fruit growers asking Harvey, Kathy, and their employees to do custom work for them in processing and jarring the overabundance of fruit they have but can’t necessarily find buyers for right when all of their produce is ripe.
A lot of direct shipments of orders placed with Bauman’s Apple Butter are sent to individuals in California, Florida, and Texas.
About 11 years ago, Harvey pondered the idea of bringing a slushy machine into the storefront.  Giving the new concept a whirl, it has been a hit since and is something people love because of how they can get cider or lemonade slushies even in winter months, since they are operational year-round.  New, chilled, and fresh flavors may eventually be unleashed, too.
But the apple-everything persona of the business is still a big part of what keeps people visiting, especially in autumn months.  “Our apple butter is strictly apples,” Harvey added, in elaborating on why it is people seem to love it so much.  The simplicity of the ingredients and lack of questionable, hard-to-pronounce ones makes it an easy win-win for the senses and the wallet.
Of course, a version of fruit butters made with white grape juice, which has a slower-acting sugar in it, is something especially valued by those with diabetes.
The business is also set up to handle certified organic cooking and prepares fruit butters and cider for The Rodale Institute, in Maxatawny Township, close to the border of Berks and Lehigh counties.
Harvey explained that about 20 gallons of apple butter are made per batch, within a four-to-five-hour period.  Using seven cookers, that means seven batches are made at a time.  In a day, anywhere from 12 to 22 batches might be the result, with the pleasant scent of apples cooking and wafting even outside of the building.
Harvey and Kathy’s oldest child, John, 26, works as a computer programmer for Google and lives in California.  He also still helps to run the family’s website.
Their daughter Heidi, 22, is studying music education at Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia and helps out at the store when she’s back in Pennsylvania.
Harvey concluded that, on top of the immense appreciation customers show for the hard work tied into the business, hearing people tell him they knew his grandparents and parents, reminiscing of old times, is a lot of what stirs the joy into making apple butter.

Iron Castings and the Harner History

By Jennifer Hetrick

As a long-standing part of the North Washington Street scenery in Boyertown, Unicast Company’s history is largely a part of the region thanks to Carl Harner’s family.
In the past, the iron castings foundry operated under the name Union Manufacturing Company.  A prominent group of businessmen in Boyertown started the metal production facility in 1894.

Carl’s grandfather, John Z. Harner, took on the title of superintendent in 1910.  By 1921, he bought the company for himself and served as its president.

Carl began working at the foundry in his childhood, handling small tasks.  From 1975 – 1981, he served as its Vice President.

“It has typically been an economical metal,” Carl reflected about iron.  Motor blocks, piston cylinders, light poles, barbell weights, loaders for lamps (to keep them heavy and weighted on tables or floor surfaces), ornamental knickknacks, mechanical banks, and trivets are just some of the iron work produced by the factory and its workers in the time when Carl and his family ran the business.

“We made heavy-duty cast-iron electrical boxes for electric companies,” Carl said, noting that they are explosion-proof and last forever.  Some notable examples are electrical boxes the company created are for the Holland Tunnel and Lincoln Tunnel between New York City and New Jersey.

“We were the first foundry in Pennsylvania to have women employed in it,” Carl added.   In those days, Carl said one female employee, who operated a forklift, graduated from Bryn Mawr College in Montgomery County.  “We also had employees on work release from the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Graterford,” Carl said, explaining that finding people to labor in the hot and sometimes unbearable conditions of working with heating and melting metal is not easy, especially in summer months.

Sometimes, the foundry would close down in the sweltering season months just because of the harsh temperatures affecting work so strongly.

During Carl’s time at the company, it was also known to have hired the most high school students in the area with the same pay per piece as adult employees.

Today, Carl reflected that his time in iron castings always stood as interesting, especially with technical details in melting and shaping whatever needed to be manufactured.

Avidly reading historical mysteries and a wide assortment of styles of writing, Carl and his wife, Margaret, are regional historians and have penned several books on local landmarks and people, including one on the shifts and development of National Penn Bank since its early days.

Margaret also worked as a social studies teacher in Boyertown Area School District’s two junior highs for 33 years.

“We have a deal,” Carl said about Margaret.  “I don’t have to wash the dishes.”  Margaret handles scrubbing the dishes while Carl handles the cooking in their home.  Finding most commonplace American foods only so fitting to his palate, he loves Indian and Thai food along with the often raw persuasion of sushi.

The two have three children—Erik, 49; Nicole Spatz, 46; and Jacquelyn Wagner, 44.

Carl and Margaret usually find themselves as spectators at sporting events for their grandchildren.  They also like to take the grandchildren out for cultural education escapades.  Jacquelyn’s children are Christian, 13; John, 11; David, 9; and Victoria, 5. Nicole’s are Erin, 12, and Ryan, 10.

“Boyertown is a nice hometown,” Carl concluded about living in this area for so long, being in a good place to drive not too long of distances to reach historical, educational, and cultural spots of interest.  “It has a great location.”

Business Update

Impact Jiu-Jitsu has just opened its doors at 48 North Reading Avenue, in Boyertown.  The academy is run by David Todd, of Congo, a local educator who has been training in the martial arts for over 20 years, instructing since he was 23.  The academy offers programs designed for all ages and families along with a satisfaction guarantee.

Longacre’s Modern Dairy has completed its new, outdoor pavilion.  This offers shade from the sun and protection from the rain for ice cream, milk shake, and sundae lovers.  It even has a sky-blue ceiling, just like your old-fashioned front porch.

Have some business news for us?  Send us an E-mail at!

Oley Valley Heritage Association’s Christmas Ornament Produced by Clay on Main

Oley Valley Heritage Association and Clay on Main have collaborated on the production of a limited edition commemorative ornament for the Association’s 30TH anniversary in 2013.  In 1983, Oley Township was listed on National Register of Historic Places, the first township in America to be listed in its entirety.  OVHA was subsequently formed to continue important historical preservation work.
Clay on Main, a local non-profit cooperative clay studio in Oley which offers classes, workshops, and lectures was contacted by OVHA to design and produce the limited edition ornament.  Studio members designed a redware ornament using the OVHA logo.  The association’s logo, which features the DeTurk house, was originally created by the late Gerald H. Yoder of Oley Valley Redware.  The ornament will be for sale at Oley Valley Heritage Association’s fall membership meeting on Monday, November 19, 2012, at 7:00 PM, at Oley Valley Fair Centre Building on Jefferson Street in Oley.
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In keeping with its mission to promote education and appreciation of cultural heritage, the program for this November 19TH meeting will be “Ancient Heritage Will Not Disappear—Log Barns Living and Breathing in Berks County” by Greg Huber.  Greg Huber is a barn and house historian, an independent scholar, consultant & principal owner of Past Perspectives and Eastern Barn Consultants—both historic and cultural resource companies.  His special focus is on vernacular barn architecture in southeast Pennsylvania and beyond.  A student of early architecture of the northeast since 1971, he has documented nearly 7,500 old buildings, including more than 3,000 homestead houses and more than 4,000 barns in the east since the mid-1970s.  Greg is author of more than 150 articles on barn and house architecture and is co-author of two books:  the second edition of The New World Dutch Barn (2001), Stone Houses—Traditional Homes of Pennsylvania’s Bucks County and Brandywine Valley (2005).  He is currently writing a major treatise on barns in Pennsylvania.  The program is free and open to the public.
The association’s website is and can be contacted at  Clay on Main’s website is and can be contacted at or 610-987-0273.

Ice Cream Done Right: Longacre’s Modern Dairy

By Jennifer Hetrick

What is today, Longacre’s Modern Dairy, along PA Route 100 in Barto, joined the Berks County scenery back in the 1920s when John S. Longacre began delivering milk to people around the area from his horse and wagon.  As a schoolteacher, John knew that his income, alone, wouldn’t be enough to support his family.  So he originally bought the farmland, upon a corner ofFront view of Longacre's Modern Dairy which the dairy stands today, with the idea in mind to help his children with their futures.
The farm’s 30 to 40 cows were milked manually, back then, given that the technology to milk with an automated system hadn’t been invented yet.
Longacre’s sold raw milk until 1942 when pasteurization rolled into the picture.  Homogenized milk came along a few years later.
Daniel E. Longacre, son to John, eventually took over the business.  In 1948, ice cream swept into the operation.  Daniel and his wife, Kathryn, found a small ice cream-making machine in Allentown and soon put it to good use.  The first flavors available were chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and raspberry.
“They made ice cream in the evening,” said Daniel T. Longacre, who, at 74 years old, is the president of the dairy and maker of the ice cream.  At the dairy, he is known as Sonny.  “The people remember you for your ice cream,” Sonny reflected, with a laugh.  “They don’t remember you for your milk.
Today, the dairy has around 40 flavors available, with 14 percent butterfat content in each sampling.  In Pennsylvania, by law, ice cream must have at least 10 percent butterfat content in order to legally take on the name “ice cream.”  Sonny said most ice cream in grocery stores has around 10 to 12 percent butterfat, but it often melts in the mouth, whereas Longacre’s ice cream carries a more involved mouth-feel to it and is a healthy challenge to maneuver per bite.
This old-fashioned ice cream, with one family producing it, is a rarity today and locally, making the dairy a place of true historical prominence and regional heritage.
But the swoon-worthy taste of the ice cream, because of the care put into it during recipe labors and mixing efforts, leads it to carry a very strong contemporary appeal to those driving up and down Route 100, too.
Sonny can make up to 75 gallons per hour in the ice cream production portion of the building.  Longacre’s also prepares the specific flavor mixes for The Franklin Fountain on Market Street in Philadelphia.
About 5,000 gallons of milk of are processed per day at Longacre’s, six days a week.  The dairy hasn’t housed cows since the 1970s; it, instead, bottles milk from 20 farms, mostly based in Lancaster County.  Labeled under different brands for different companies, milk handled at Longacre’s travels to shelves as far as New York and Florida.  The majority of it is organic.
Saving a good amount of the milk for ice cream is, of course, an important part of keeping the dessert-ready luxury available at the dairy bar.
In his early days at the dairy, Sonny began to experiment with designing new labels and testing out different styles of cups.  He noticed that, every time he gave attention to these creative and thoughtful marketing efforts, ice cream sales continually bumped upward.  Vanilla, vanilla fudge, and moose tracks are some of Sonny’s personal favorites.  Moose tracks incorporates vanilla mingled with a dark, hard shell of chocolate and miniature peanut butter cups by Gertrude Hawk.
Sonny’s son, Danny, works with him every day in making ice cream at the dairy.  Sonny’s brother Newton, 70, is the dairy’s Vice President and enjoys butter brickle, walnut, and vanilla as his own favorites.  Their brother Tim, 64, handles bookkeeping and the finances, while their sister Kathryn, 62, is the secretary.  Their sister, Diane, 53, works in real estate in the Reading area.
A few years ago, Sonny introduced teaberry ice cream to the lineup.  An old flavor, more popular many decades ago, it didn’t sell well at first but eventually picked up in popularity and is now enthusiastically eaten by many of those who visit the dairy bar.
Egg nog, peppermint stick, pistachio, and pumpkin are seasonal flavors.  Although, thankfully, for those who like pumpkin besides just in autumn months, it is now offered year-round, even though it’s considered seasonal by when pumpkins are harvested around the area.
The batch-made, slowly churned ice cream speaks for itself—its rich, poignant flavor quickly appreciated when ordered at the counter.
With grandchildren happily skipping around the dairy, Sonny and Newton said they’re hopeful that some of the young ones will want to help the dairy to remain a part of the community in future decades.

Fall into Berks History Historic Property Tour to be Held on September 29

By Leslie Rebmann
The Historic Preservation Trust of Berks County

The Historic Preservation Trust of Berks County will once again sponsor its Fall into Berks History open house on Saturday, September 29.  This is an opportunity to visit all eight of the Trust’s properties, where guided tours will be given from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM.  “Works in progress” and recently completed restorations in Kutztown and in Amity, Pike, & Oley Townships will be open to explore.

Image of the Keim Homestead

The 1753 Keim Homestead, in the Oley Valley, will be open for tours on September 29.

At Morlatton Village, in Douglassville, visitors will tour the Mouns Jones House (1716), the oldest remaining structure in Berks County; the White Horse Inn (1762), the site of Revolutionary War musters and a center of early local social and business life; the George Douglass Mansion (1763), built by a prominent 18th century resident of Amity Township; and the Michael Fulp House (1783), built by a yeoman farmer and Revolutionary War veteran.  In the Oley Valley, visitors can tour the Johan Deturk Cabin (1767), which was recently restored and then honored by Preservation PA, a state-wide preservation group.  Also in the Oley Valley are two buildings at the Keim Homestead, including the main house, which has not been “modernized” since it was built in 1753.  The Hottenstein Mansion (1783), in Kutztown, is a fine example of Georgian architecture as interpreted by Germanic builders.
The event will be held rain or shine.  Admission is $10 per person; children 12 and under will be admitted free.  Tickets will be available at each site the day of the event or in advance at Boyer’s Market, 1104 Old Swede Rd., Douglassville.  Visitors may begin the tour at any of the sites.  For directions or for more information, visit or call 610-385-4762.

Wilcox Farms’s Corn Mazes Great Fun for Entire Family

By Lindsay Dierolf

Are you looking for an exciting way to entertain the kids, or maybe a whole group of kids?  The Wilcox Farms corn mazes might just be the answer to your quest.
There are two mazes set up this year.  One is specifically designed for younger children and follows a shorter route.  This smaller one is set up in the shape of a turtle.  There is also a bale maze and a small play area.  A Wilcox employee explained that “This one is popular with school groups.  It is open daily from 9:00AM – dusk”  The cost for this maze is $5.00 per person.
The larger maze is a Wizard of Oz theme and is open Fridays and Saturdays from 9:00 AM – 12:00 AM, and Sundays from 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM.  The larger maze has a fire pit nearby for people to roast marshmallows, tell stories, or just relax.  The cost is $8.00 person.  Groups of 10 or more are $6.00 per person.
They also offer 20 minute hay rides for $4.00 per person.
In addition to the mazes, Wilcox Farms’s store is a great place to find a good selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, and they stock a variety of fall decor items.  After touring the mazes, you can select that perfect pumpkin for a pie or you Halloween Jack O’Lantern!

Coming This Year at Oley Valley Community Fair

By Ashley Parish

Are you looking for some good ol’ Dutch fun?  Well, head on down to the 66TH annual Oley Valley Community Fair!  The fair is located in Oley at 26 Jefferson Street.  Thursday, September 20th, through Saturday, September 22nd are the dates when the fair is happening this year.  On Thursday and Friday, hours are from 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM.  On Saturday, the hours are from 9:00 AM – 8:30 PM.Tractor pull at the Oley Fair
This may be a three-day event, but it takes so much more time to plan, set-up, run, and take down this fantastic event.  Oley Valley Community Fair is run by members of the community and volunteers from many local churches and other organizations.  There is something for everyone to do, like entering contests such as livestock judging, sheep judging, youth bale throwing contest, big wheel contest, donut eating contest, and much more.  There are many different prizes that can be won.  There are also rides for all ages and personalities.  The Cramer Brothers Band will be playing on Saturday night, from 7:00 – 9:00 PM.  Free shuttle bus service from Reading Motorcycle Club, at 208 Jefferson Street is also provided.
There are tons of Dutch cooking and home style foods.  Popular foods, like French fries, hamburgers, funnel cakes, and more, are sold at the fair.  Michael Hoppes, Patrol Officer for Boyertown Borough, goes to the fair every year and says, “There is always a great line at the apple cider, French fries, and funnel cake.  There is nothing better than food cooked with love.”  Also, the French fry building has been rebuilt, so go and check that out!
The admission is free but there is a $5.00 parking donation.  This is an event that you don’t want to miss because it brings back the times from when our grandparents were young and things that were different back in the day!

Yip and Dip Doggie Swim

By Stephanie Graber

This month summer is coming to an end, but there is still so much to see and do around our community!  If you have a chance to make it out to the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles before Labor Day, they are offering free admission for Active duty military personnel and their families! Children and adults will have a great time walking through the museum and seeing more than 80 cars, trucks, carriages, motorcycles, sleighs, and other types of vehicles that were locally manufactured.  I can personally say that the displays are very interesting and educational.  The children tend to look at the displays in awe, because they are not something that you have the opportunity to see anymore.  If you do not qualify for free admission, the cost is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $4 for children.  The museum is located at 85 S. Walnut St.
Does your family have a friendly dog that enjoys water?  Maybe you just have children who love to look at and watch someone else’s animal.  Then the “Yip and Dip Doggie Swim” would be a great opportunity to get out and do so.  This year, it will be held on Sunday, September 9TH from 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM (rain date is set for September 16TH) at the Boyertown Community Pool.  The entire pool will be open to dogs and their owners to get in and splash around.  They are asking for a minimum of $10 donation per dog or $25 for a household.  If you do not have a dog or do not wish to participate, you are still welcome to watch.  For more information or forms please visit
I sure hope that you will have the chance to bring the children out for some of these fun-filled events taking place this month.  Fall will be starting on September 22ND, so this month will be our last chance to take advantage of the summer fun.  No need to worry, though.  There will be lots of great things to do in the upcoming months and eventually we will be led into some wonderful winter fun!

Duryea Day

By Lindsay Dierolf

Labor Day weekend usually means the end of summer, back to school preparations, and cooler weather.  In Boyertown, it is synonymous with Duryea Day.  The 47TH Annual Duryea Day is scheduled for Saturday September 1ST.  The show is a cooperative effort between Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles (Pennsylvania’s transportation history museum) and The Pottstown Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America.  National Penn Investors Trust Company has been sponsoring the event for a number of years.  If you are a classic or antique automobile enthusiast, then the Boyertown Community Park is the place to be.  Keep your eyes open for the car that reminds you of Dad’s or even your own first set of wheels!  Awards will be given in a variety of categories.
Kendra Cook, Curator at the museum mentioned, “Things are pretty standard at the park, but here at the museum, we are having a display of Duryea vehicles.  There are only three and a half of them in existence.  We will display one that has never been exhibited at this location.”
Of course, Duryea Day is not only about the cars, trucks, and motorcycles.  For the bargain hunter, there will be a flea market with auto parts, crafts, antiques, and household items.  There will also be a Car Corral for anyone interested in buying or selling a vehicle.
When you get hungry there is a selection of delicious foods available to satisfy anyone’s appetite.  Music will be provided throughout the day, by live bands, for everyone’s listening pleasure.
Admission to the event is $5.00 for Adults and $2.00 for children ages 6 – 12.  There will also be free admission to the Pennsylvania’s transportation history museum.