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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House Speaker Biographies


 

Henry K. Boyer

Born: February 19, 1850, Evansburg, Montgomery County, PA.  Died: February 17, 1934, Red Hill Borough, Montgomery County, PA.  Member of the House: Philadelphia, 7th District, 1883-1890, 1893-1894, and 1897-January 17, 1898.  Affiliation: Republican.

Henry Boyer was educated in the public schools of Montgomery County.  He went on to attend Freeland Seminary (now Ursinus College), and in 1866, at the age of 16, he completed his studies and became a public school teacher in Montgomery County.  In 1868 he received a grammar school teachers certificate and became principal of the grammar school in Camden, New Jersey.  Boyer lived in New Jersey until 1871, when he registered as a law student at the firm of Benjamin Harris Brewster, former Attorney General of the United States, in Philadelphia.  In 1873 he was admitted to the bar of Philadelphia County, where he began his law career.  In November of 1882 he was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.  He served as State Representative for the 7th District of Philadelphia County for 6 terms, 1883-1890, 1893-1894, and 1897-1898. 

During his service as a Representative, Boyer sponsored Act 37 of 1885, which created of a State Board of Health, which was necessary to oversee the practice of health and sanitation within the state.  During his term as Speaker, Pennsylvania enacted Act 27 of 1887, which established Arbor Day, encouraging citizens to plant trees and shrubs on public lands.  Also, a new law regulating pharmacies within the state was passed, Act 134 of 1887, in order to ensure that safe and unadulterated medicine would be sold.

In 1885 Boyer was selected chairman of the Municipal Corporations Committee.  On January 4, 1887, Boyer was elected the 99th Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.  He was re-elected to the Speakership the following term, 1889-1890, after receiving a unanimous vote of the House.  In 1889 Boyer was elected to the office of State Treasurer and served in that position from May of 1890 until his retirement in May of 1892.  He was re-elected to the State House in 1892, and upon his return, he became chairman of the Ways and Means Committee for the term of 1893-1894.  In 1896 Boyer was re-elected to the House, and on January 5, 1897, was elected Speaker for the third time. 

During his third tenure as Speaker, the Capitol burned down, on February 2, 1897.  The Capitol, with an estimated value of $1 million, was insured for just $200,000.  The day after the fire, the legislature reconvened in the nearby federal courthouse.  A week later, the House and Senate reconvened at Grace Methodist Episcopal Church (now Grace United Methodist Church) on State Street, directly across from the charred remains of the Capitol.

On January 17, 1898, during a non-session year, Boyer resigned from the House after being appointed Superintendent of the Unites States Mint in Philadelphia.  He served as Superintendent until 1902, when he retired from that position and from politics entirely.  Boyer dedicated the remainder of his life to making real estate investments.  Henry K. Boyer died on February 17, 1934 in Red Hill, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, at the age of 83. 


Historical Member Biography

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