Contact us: 610-372-1563 or info@charlesevanscemetery.com

About Charles Evans Cemetery

CEMETERY HISTORY

About the Founder

Charles Evans, Founder
1768-1847

Lawyer, Philanthropist, and Public Benefactor, Charles Evans lies buried near the entrance of the beautiful cemetery he founded; a life-size statue is an enduring memorial to his vision and generosity.

Any historical sketch of the Charles Evans Cemetery Company would be incomplete without some enlightening picture of its founder. Charles Evans was born in Philadelphia on March 30, 1768, the son of Quaker parents, David and Letitia Evans. At the age of 20, he began the study of law in the office of Benjamin Chew, one of the commonwealth’s foremost lawyers. Benjamin Chew had been attorney general of the colony and later became chief justice of the Supreme Court.

In 1791, at the age of twenty-three, Charles Evans moved to Reading and was admitted to the Berks County bar. His success, gradual rather than rapid, was assured from the first. Three years later he married a Philadelphia girl, Miss Mary Keene, with whom he spent forty-four happy years.

Left in his advanced age without a family, Charles Evans’ one determination was to make it possible for the people of Reading to have a nonsectarian cemetery removed from the city’s noise and bustle, where friends and relatives might linger and meditate. Most important, he decreed that it be a cemetery amply endowed, free from debt, unmarred by commercialism and perpetually cared for. To this end, in 1846, Charles Evans donated the original twenty-five acres of ground and the sum of two thousand dollars. Upon his death, a year later, on September 5, he further bequeathed in his will the sum of ten thousand dollars, and three-quarters – or almost sixty-seven thousand dollars – of the residue of his estate.

Charles Evans lies buried in the cemetery of his endowment, where a fitting monument marks his final resting place.

The Beginning

The Cemetery was founded in 1846 by Charles Evans, a prominent local lawyer and philanthropist who desired to establish a nonsectarian cemetery where the friends and relatives of those departed might linger and meditate. Employing unusual vision, Charles Evans selected and purchased 25 acres of land on a prominent hilltop situated, at that time, a mile outside the City limits. It was to be for all people of Reading, a dignified place of interment where natural beauty would be preserved and enhanced with the years He provided money for a Trust Fund to be used solely for the purpose of making the Cemetery even more beautiful with the passing years – to provide perpetual maintenance of its buildings, trees, shrubbery, and spacious lawns.

The Architecture

The most prominent architectural feature of the Charles Evans Cemetery is the sand-stone Entrance Way which adorns the main access along Centre Avenue. Completed in 1852, this impressive structure reflects the Gothic Revival style which was popular at that time. Located immediately north of the main entrance gate, the Tudor-style office building was  constructed in 1927. It provides space for administrative staff, the secure storage of records and an appropriate setting to discuss the services offered by the cemetery.

A Crematorium, Chapel, and Columbarium are all housed in a handsome Italiante-style structure situated in the eastern portion of the Charles Evans Cemetery, in the vicinity of Perry Street. Added in 1939, this building features a stately bell tower, a majestic bronze entrance door and artistically designed windows. The impressive Chapel is available for quiet meditation or for services during inclement weather when graveside attendance is impractical. To the side of the Chapel is the Columbarium, where memorial urns find an everlasting resting place, safe from the elements. Imperishable bronze niches of various sizes are available for individual or family use. The original cremation chambers were replaced in 1993, utilizing the latest technological advancements. The Chapel Garden Mausoleum was built in 1972 and the Hillside Mausoleum was added in 1981. These two free-standing structures provide granite-faced crypts and niches for above-ground interment.

The Cemetery Today

More than a century and a half old, the Charles Evans Cemetery is now surrounded by urban development, but still retains the quiet, stately grandeur of a long-established and well cared for interment facility. In addition, its central location makes it readily accessible to all the  residents of Berks County. The Cemetery now includes 119 acres of well-maintained grounds, with more than seven miles of paved roads which make the extensive grounds convenient to visitors. It continues to be a virtual arboretum, with over 2200 trees of impressive variety and maturity, as well as an abundance of flowering shrubs. The exquisite landscaping and extensive charm make the Cemetery an appropriate setting for quiet reflection and soothing contemplation.

OUR MISSION

Dedicated to Public Service

“All income shall be used solely for beautification and perpetual maintenance of Charles Evans Cemetery…”

That phrase from the original charter, perhaps more than any other, indicates the foresight and public spirit of the founder. Charles Evans Cemetery was to be more than what was commonly known as a “burying ground.” It was to be, for the people of Reading, a dignified place of interment whose natural beauty would be forever preserved and improved with the years.

Since its establishment in 1846, the founder’s wishes have been reverently carried out by the Board of Trustees. The office of Trustee has been regarded as an opportunity to perform a civic service. So it is that Charles Evans Cemetery Company has attracted so many of Reading’s leading citizens, who have served long years without compensation – rewarded only be the satisfaction of a worthy service well done.

Permanence is Assured

The impressive character and beauty of the cemetery is forever assured by a Trust Fund, into which goes all income above actual administration expenses. No profits can ever be distributed. Instead, the money is used solely for the purpose of making the cemetery even more beautiful with the passing years… to provide for perpetual maintenance of its trees, shrubbery and spacious lawns.

Serving Future Generations

The original donation of twenty-five acres has been increased, from time to time, by additional purchases of adjacent land. Today, the cemetery comprises more than 127 acres of enclosed land. Much of the developed area is still available and many undeveloped acres are reserved for future needs. Although more than 62,000 persons are now buried here, this beautiful cemetery will be able to meet the requirements of Reading and Berks County families for generations to come.

Incorporation

Charles Evans Cemetery Company was incorporated by the Act of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania, approved February 24, 1846. The incorporators were the Hon. John Banks, president judge of our courts, John S. Hiester, Dr. Isaac Hiester, James L. Dunn, Esq., Samuel Bell, Dr. Hiester H. Muhlenberg, William Strong, Esq., later a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Matthias S. Richards, Esq., William Darling, Esq., Dr. Diller Luther, William Eckert, Benneville Keim, and Peter Filbert, Esq.

They were authorized by the Act to establish upon land donated by Charles Evans on the Centre turnpike road – about one mile from the borough of Reading – a rural burying place to be called the Charles Evans Cemetery and, as trustees for future generations, “to lay out, ornament, plant and embellish the lands as a place for public interment.” Furthermore, to the end that the graves of persons buried therein should never be disturbed, the Legislature provided that “no street, lane or road shall hereafter be opened through the lands so occupied as a cemetery and that the cemetery should be totally exempt from all taxation.”

BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Present Board of Trustees

William S. Laubach

Elected 1976

David F. Rick

Elected 1992

Elizabeth B. Rothermel

Elected 1992

Fred deP. Rothermel, Jr.

Elected 1992

Michelle N. Lynch

Elected 2003

Christopher Bausher

Elected 2005

Katie Hannon

Elected 2006

Daniel B. Huyett

Elected 2007

Kent W. Davis

Elected 2010

Rick Burkey

Elected 2011

Eva Eisenbrown

Elected 2013

Charter Members

John Banks

Served 1846-1864

John S. Hiester

Served 1846-1849

Isaac Hiester

Served 1846-1855

James L. Dunn

Served 1846-1874

Samuel Bell

Served 1846-1863

Hiester H. Muhlenberg

Served 1846-1886

William Strong

Served 1846-1862

Matthias S. Richards

Served 1846-1862

William Darling

Served 1846-1862

Diller Luther

Served 1846-1890

William Eckert

Served 1846-1861

Benneville Keim

Served 1846-1872

Peter Filbert

Served 1846-1864

Elected Members

Isaac Eckert

Served 1846-1873

Adam Leize

Served 1857-1875

James Milholland

Served 1861-1886

Gustavus A. Nicholls

Served 1862-1886

Charles B. McKnight

Served 1862-1878

William I. DeBorbon

Served 1862-1892

Charles H. Hunter

Served 1863-1870

J. Pringle Jones

Served 1864-1874

Horatio Trexler

Served 1865-1900

William M. Hiester

Served 1870 – 1878

Augustus F. Boas

Served 1873-1894

Warren J. Woodward

Served 1874-1878

Henry S. Eckert

Served 1874-1894

George D. Stitzel

Served 1874 – 1889

John S. Pearson

Served 1875-1885

Hiester Clymer

Served 1876-1884

Henry M. Keim

Served 1879-1899

Thomas D. Stichter

Served 1879 – 1892

Daniel Ermentrout

Served 1879-1899

Edwin F. Smith

Served 1885-1894

David McM. Gregg

Served 1885-1916

Henry A. Muhlenberg

Served 1886 – 1906

Isaac Heister

Served 1886-1921

William D. Smith

Served 1890-1911

John Rick

Served 1891-1900

Frank S. Livingood

Served 1892 – 1931

Charles Breneiser

Served 1893-1909

George B. Eckert

Served 1894-1899

George F. Baer

Served 1895-1914

James H. Sternbergh

Served 1895 – 1913

Gustav A. Endlich

Served 1899-1929

Prince R. Stetson

Served 1900-1921

William McIlvain

Served 1900 – 1914

Charles Rick

Served 1900-1909

M. Brayton McKnight

Served 1907-1910

Frederick H. Muhlenberg

Served 1900-1924

Edwin A. Quier

Served 1910 – 1939

William S. Mohr

Served 1911-1934

William Seyfert

Served 1912-1935

Jonathan C. Illig

Served 1913-1919

John H. Craig

Served 1915 – 1927

Daniel N. Bertolette

Served 1915-1929

Howard J. Potts

Served 1916-1927

Hunter Eckert

Served 1917-1949

Samuel R. Seyfert

Served 1920 – 1939

Hiester H. Muhlenberg

Served 1921-1926

John J. Kutz

Served 1921-1935

Edward H. Knerr

Served 1926-1934

William McIlvain

Served 1927 – 1939

Harry F. Kantner

Served 1929-1934

Philip S. Zieber

Served 1929-1940

Ferdinand Thun

Served 1932-1949

Frederick Willson

Served 1932 – 1953

John R. Hendel

Served 1932-1941

Levi W. Mengel

Served 1935-1941

Charles H. Muhlenberg

Served 1935-1959

Arthur C. Roland

Served 1935 – 1942

David M. Gregg

Served 1938-1941

J. Heber Parker

Served 1938-1956

Thomas Iaeger Snyder

Served 1940-1955

Andrew M. Balmer

Served 1940 – 1953

Harold M. Leinbach

Served 1941-1966

Clair G. Spangler

Served 1941-1960

John E. Livingood

Served 1941-1977

J. Lee Bausher

Served 1941-1976

James W. Bertolet

Served 1941-1982

Paul N. Schaeffer

Served 1942-1968

Frederick W. Nicolls, Jr.

Served 1949-1961

Ferdinand K. Thun

Served 1949-1991

Charles M. Boardman

Served 1954-1961

William R. McIlvain

Served 1954-1980

George B. Balmer

Served 1957-1969

Sidney D. Kline

Served 1957-1986

Charles H. Muhlenberg Jr.

Served 1959-1969

George B. Gaul

Served 1962-1992

James Rick, 3rd

Served 1962-1991

Fred deP. Rothermal

Served 1962-1988

Charles R. Spang

Served 1967-1983

David H. Roland

Served 1970-1975

Frederick R. Shenk

Served 1970-1987

Harold O. Leinbach

Served 1977-2005

Richard M. Palmer

Served 1982-1991

Edward D. Trexler, 3rd

Served 1980-1994

Carl L. N. Erdman

Served 1969-1999

Calvin E. Smith

Served 1988-2002

Alex Cameron IV

Served 1999-2004

Jordan Bausher

Served 1976-2006

Sidney D. Kline, Jr.

Served 1987-2007

David L. Thun

Served 1991-2007

Elizabeth B. Gaul

Served 1995-2008

Karl H. Hemmerich

Served 1984-2008

Edward T. Lentz

Served 2008-2011

G. Garrett Wilkinson

Served 1988-2013

John C. Woodward

Served 2008-2013

Presidents

John S. Hiester

Served 1846-1849

Isaac Hiester

Served 1849-1855

Hiester H. Muhlenberg

Served 1855-1865

J. Pringle Jones

Served 1865-1872

Diller Luther

Served 1872-1890

David McM. Gregg

Served 1891-1916

Isaac Hiester

Served 1916-1921

Frank S. Livingood

Served 1921-1931

Edwin A. Quier

Served 1931-1939

Frederick Willson

Served 1939-1952

John E. Livingood

Served 1952-1965

J. Lee Bausher

Served 1965-1969

James Rick, 3rd

Served 1969-1991

Carl L. N. Erdman

Served 1992-1999

Harold O. Leinbach

Served 1999-2000

Jordan L. Bausher

Served 2000-2004

Elizabeth B. Rothermel

Served 2005-

Superintendents

William Clemson

Served 1847-1867

Alexander Burnett

Served 1868-1880

John C. Hepler

Served 1880-1907

John A. Hepler

Served 1907-1918

Peter L. Scholl

Served 1919-1963

Nelson S. Farr

Served 1963-1991

James C. Hart

Served 1992-2009

James R. Stubblebine

Served 2010-2011

Michael J. Nally

Served 2013-