HISTORY

 

OF

 

 

 

CARBON COUNTY

 

PENNSYLVANIA

 

Also Containing a Separate Account of the Several

Boroughs and Townships in the County

 

 

 

With Biographical Sketches

 

BY

 

FRED BRENCKMAN

 

 

 

 

 

HARRIBURG, PA. :

JAMES J. NUNGESSER, PUBLISHER

1913

 

 

Steam and Electric Railroads

Beaver Meadow Borough

Parryville Borough

Weatherly Borough

 

 

Except from Chapter XII on the Beaver Meadow R. R., PP. 157 - 159

 

STEAM AND ELECTRIC RAILROADS.

The first railroad in Carbon county, and the first of any importance in the United States, was the Switchback, extending from Mauch Chunk to Summit Hill. As is well known, this was built as a gravity road, and is still in existence.

 

The Beaver Meadow Railroad was the first within the limits of the county employing steam as motive power. It is now a part of the Lehigh Valley system. The Beaver Meadow Railroad and Coal Company was incorporated on April 13,1830.

 

According to the provisions of its charter, the company was empowered to build a railroad from the Beaver Meadow Mines, in what is now Banks township, to the Lehigh river, at, or near, Mauch Chunk, a distance of about twenty miles.

 

Various difficulties beset the projectors of the enterprise, chief of which appears to have been their own lack of confidence in the feasibility of the undertaking. It was not until 1833 that a definite start was made.

 

Canvass White, who had been one of the principal engineers in the building of the Erie Canal, and Ario Pardee, later a millionaire coal operator of Hazleton, surveyed the route, which followed the windings of Beaver, Hazle and Quakake creeks to the Lehigh.

 

Trouble with the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company concerning tolls on the canal led to the determination on the part of those building the railroad to extend the line to Easton. The tracks had already been laid as far as Parryville when an agreement was reached.

The railroad was opened for transportation in the fall of 1836, and Parryville was made the shipping point. It so remained until 1841, when the memorable freshet carried away all the bridges from Weatherly to the end of the line, and Mauch Chunk became the terminus, below which the road was abandoned.

 

Originally wooden rails, covered with an iron strap, were used, and the locomotives were of the wood-burning type.

 

In 1860 another heavy flood occurred, carrying away a number of bridges, together with the shops of the company at Weatherly and Penn Haven.

 

The road gained rapidly in business, however, as the mines tributary to it were developed, and it grew steadily more prosperous until absorbed by the Lehigh Valley Railroad in 1866.

 

The Lehigh Valley Railroad, which was the first to be constructed through the length of the region from which its name is derived, had its inception in the efforts of a few enterprising and far-seeing men in Lehigh and Northampton counties, while being brought to completion and successful operation principally through the labors and determination of Asa Packer, its former president and the architect of its greatness.

 

A charter was secured on April 21, 1846, under the name of the Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill and Susquehenna Railroad Company.

 

In May of that year the stock of the company was offered for subscription; but capitalists seemed to have little faith in the project. Although the promoters of the enterprise were active, it was not until August,: 1847, that enough stock had been subscribed to warrant a start being made. Five thousand shares had thenbeen taken, on each of which an installment of five dollars had been paid. At the first election of officers, held on October 21, 1847, James M. Porter was chosen as president.

 

Little had been done beyond securing the right of way, when, on April 4, 1851, Asa Packer became a member of the board of managers. This was just seventeen days before the charter would have expired by limitation, and soon thereafter a mile of road-bed was graded near Allentown to forestall this embarrassment. In the following October Mr. Packer purchased nearly all the stock which had been subscribed and took steps to obtain the additional money required to finish the road, which proved to be a difficult task.

 

He secured the services of Robert H. Sayre, who had prior to this held a responsible position with the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, as chief engineer.

 

In January, 1853, the name of the corporation was changed to the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company.

 

The line between Easton and Allentown was finished and placed in operation on June 11, 1855. Two trains were run daily between these points from that date, and during the month of September the road was completed to Mauch Chunk.

 

In the beginning, all the rolling stock was leased from the Central Railroad of New Jersey, but before the close of 1855 a passenger locomotive and four coaches were purchased. At the close of three months, receipts from the passenger service were larger than had been anticipated, while the earnings from carrying coal and other freight were kept down from the want of cars.

 

Headquarters were first established at Mauch Chunk; but in 1856 the main offices were removed to Philadelphia.

 

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Excerpt from Chapter XIII –  PP. 181 – 185

 

BEAVER MEADOW BOROUGH.

 

While being next to the youngest borough in Carbon County, Beaver Meadow nevertheless enjoys the distinction of being the oldest town in the upper end of the county. It is located centrally in Banks township, of which it formed a part prior to its organization as a borough in 1897. A number of citizens, headed by J. M. Stauffer, who was then a prominent resident here, made an effort to secure the incorporation of the town 1896,` but the grand jury acted adversely on their petition, and a charter was not granted until the following year. Mr.. Stauffer became the first chief burgess.

 

Beaver Meadow is maintained by the surrounding coal operations of Coxe Brothers & Company, the mines of the A. S. Van Wickle Estate, at Coleraine, a little more than a mile distant, and the workings of the Evans Colliery Company.

 

The town is situated on the Beaver Meadow division of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, about six miles from Weatherly, and four from Hazleton. It lies approximately fourteen hundred feet above sea level, while Beaver creek flows sluggishly past it, parallel to the railroad tracks. Its name was derived from the circumstance that the smooth and glossy beaver once lived and toiled in the meadows along the creek.

 

The land on which the town is built was warranted in 1787 to Patrick and Mary Keene, and later it came into the possession of Nathan Beach, who sold five .hundred acres to Judge Joseph Barnes, of Philadelphia, in 1830.

 

The Lehigh and Susquehanna turnpike ran through the tract, and the principal street of the village, still known as Berwick street, was built on the line of this old highway. The first house was here erected in 1804. It was of logs, and was kept as a tavern. There was a tollgate at the foot of the Spring mountain  kept by a man named Green.

 

On April 10, 1826, William H. Wilson removed, with his family, to the place and the landlord of the tavern The next arrival was James Lamison, who built a house which he, in 1831, occupied as a tavern. In 1833 came N. R. Penrose, a member of the family to which United States Senator Boies Penrose, of Pennsylvania, belongs. He became the agent of the property of Judge Barnes, and built the large frame building at the eastern end of the town, later known as the "Cornishmens Home.” Upon its completion it was occupied by William H. Wilson as a tavern. Later it became the property of James Gowan, father of Franklin B. Gowan, who became famous as the able and aggressive president of the Philadelphia and Reading Railway Company and its subsidiary coal and iron company. This building was also for a time used as a store, being owned by William T. Carter and others. It was for many years one of the landmarks of Beaver Meadow, and was finally torn down in 1910. Much of the timber it con ed was used in erecting now dwelling houses, while some of it was sawed into proper length for mine ties.

 

One of the early residents of Beaver Meadow was Henry Brenckman, a native of Germany. He had become skilled in the art of brewing beer and had acquired the trade of a cooper in the Fatherland. Upon locating in Beaver Meadow he erected a small brewery, probably the first in Carbon county. He personally made the barrels which contained the output of his plant and kept a tavern. His death occurred in 1860.

 

The early growth and prosperity of Beaver Meadow resulted from the operations of the Beaver Meadow Railroad and Coal Company, the Beaver Meadow Mines, where coal was first produced in Banks township, being situated about a mile west of the town. The railroad to the mines was finished and opened for transportation in the fall of 1836. The machine, blacksmith and car shops of the company were located at Beaver Meadow. The first master mechanic of the shops was Hopkin Thomas, a Welsh immigrant, and one of the pioneer inventors of the Lehigh Valley. Through one of his inventions anthracite coal was first made available as fuel for the use of locomotives. He also invented and successfully used the chilled cast-iron car wheel, as well as the most improved and successful mine pumps and machinery of the day.

 

Under the supervision of Mr. Thomas, a ten-wheel locomotive, said to have been the first of its kind built in this country, and named the “Nonpareil,” was constructed at Beaver Meadow. The shops were removed to Weatherly in 1842.

 

In 1848, N. R. Penrose erected a foundry here, which he conducted for a short time, then disposing of the property to S. W. and B. W. Hudson. In 1859, B. W. Hudson purchased the interest of his brother and continued the business until 1865. Much of the iron work used in constructing the Mahanoy division of the Lehigh Valley Railroad was turned out from this foundry. After the retirement of B. W. Hudson, the shops passed into -the ownership of the Spring Mountain Coal Company, and were torn down in 1868 and removed to Jeanesville. These shops formed the nucleus of the Jeanesville Iron Works, since established at Hazleton, constituting one of the largest industries of that city. Beaver Meadow was already quite a village before Hazleton was born, and the people of the last named place once did their trading here.

 

The only coal operation within the borough limits is the Number 4 slope of Coxe Brothers & Company, which was sunk by Jonah Rees, about 1867. It was for a time abandoned, but during the eighties it was sunk to the basin by Coxe Brothers & Company. It is from the foot of this slope that the drainage tunnel through the Spring mountain to Quakake Valley is driven.

 

A post office was established here in 1830, with William H. Wilson in charge. The second postmaster was A. G. Brodhead, who, in turn, was succeeded by Mr. Wilson. The present incumbent is Robert Trezise.

 

The first school in the place was kept by Miss Lydia Bidlack, and was opened about the year 1835. A later teacher who served for many years was Thomas McCarly. There are now five graded schools in the town, all being housed in one building.

 

A Presbyterian church was here organized about 1838, largely through the influence of A. H. VanCleve, who was then superintendent of the Beaver Meadow shops. The edifice in which this congregation worshiped occupied the site on which the hall of the Patriotic Order of Sons of America now stands, The removal of the shops to Weatherly affected the congregation, and it declined. The Methodists subsequently conducted services in the church, and upon the erection of a new building by that denomination, in 1874, the adherents of the German Reformed faith found a meeting place in the old edifice for a time.

 

St. Mary’s Roman Catholic church was founded in 1841. The original church building stood on the cemetery of the parish, a short distance beyond the town on the road to Hazleton. St. Nicholas' church, of Weatherly, and St. Joseph's, of Laurytown, were formerly missions of this church. During the pastorate of Rev. Francis Brady, the old church was removed to the site of the present building, which was erected during the pastorate of Rev. John J. McEnroe. The cornerstone of the new building was laid in 1904, while the church, which cost about $15,000, was dedicated by the Rt. Rev. Edmund F, Prendergast. Formerly St. Mary's was the only Catholic church in this part of the coal region, and the people of Hazleton, Audenried, Weatherly, Buck Mountain, and other places journeyed hither to worship.

 

St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran church was built in 1897. Rev. J. O. Schlenker, formerly pastor of Christ church, Hazleton, and Rev. D, G. Gerberich, of Weatherly, were the leading spirits in the organization of this congregation.

 

St. Peter's and St. Paul's Greek Catholic church was erected in 1895, the cornerstone being laid during the month of May.

 

The town is supplied with water by the Citizens Water Company, organized at about the time of the erection of the borough.

 

Both the Anthracite and the Bell Telephone Company have lines connecting with this place. A rural fine connecting with the system of the latter company at Hazleton was built in 1908, Robert Trezise being the local agent.

 

The streets of the borough were allowed to remain unlighted until 1911, when the Harwood Electric Light and Power Company extended its lines to this point. The town has a fire company, but its equipment is meager. Thomas Grenfell is the present chief burgess,

 

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Except from Chapter XVII on Parryville, PP. 314 – 317.

 

PARRYVILLE BOROUGH.

 

The borough of Parryville is located on the eastern bank of the Lehigh river and on the line of the Central Railroad of New Jersey, about half a dozen miles below Mauch Chunk.

 

The first settler here was Peter Frantz, who came to the locality in 1780. Leonard Beltz and Frederick Scheckler took up land in this vicinity in 1781.

 

Soon thereafter Scheckler and Frantz erected a stone grist mill on the banks of Poho Poco creek, which flows into the Lehigh at this point. This property passed into the possession of Peter and Jacob Stein in 1815. The latter conducted the mill, while the former built a large stone hotel, which was later utilized as a dwelling house.

 

Upon the organization of the Pine Forest Lumber Company, about 1836, this place was made its headquarters. The company owned extensive tracts of rich timber land in the northern part of the county and in the southern portion of Luzerne. Its mills were established on Poho Poco creek, near the river, and the manufacture of lumber, was carried on on a large scale. The president of the company was Daniel Parry, and as the settlement grew up around these mills, the place became known as Parrysville, and later, Parryville.

 

In 1836, the Beaver Meadow Railroad Company completed its line to the opposite side of the river from this place, and Parryville became the terminus and shipping point.

 

The coal was here transferred from the railroad cars to the boats of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company. The freshet of 1841, however, swept away the wharves, trestle work, and chutes of the company, together with the roadbed from Parryville to Penn Haven Junction. The railroad was rebuilt from Penn Haven to Mauch Chunk, but the stretch from the latter place to Parryville was abandoned. From this time forth, Mauch Chunk was the shipping point of the Beaver Meadow Company.

 

Parryville, from the western bank of the Lehigh

 

New life was injected into the village when, about 1855, Dennis Bauman, his brother Henry, and others, established an anthracite blast furnace here. This furnace was run by water power furnished by Poho Poco creek until 1857. More capital being necessary to the proper conduct of the business, a stock company, known as the Carbon Iron Company, was then formed, Dennis Bauman being chosen as its president. The new company made various improvements and increased the capacity of the works. The water power of the creek was now no longer adequate, and steam was introduced as the motive power. An additional furnace was erected in 1864, and another in 1869; but the revolution which took place in the iron business about this time and the great panic of the seventies, which closed up nearly every iron manufacturing establishment in the Lehigh Valley, worked severe hardship to the company.

 

In the year 1876, the property passed into the hands of the Carbon Iron and Pipe Company, and a pipe manufacturing department was added. The experiment of making pipe out of iron direct from the cupola was tried at this place, but without success. Large quantities of pipe were, however, turned out in accordance with the established process. The works are :now operated by the Carbon Iron and Steel Company, of which M. S. Kemmerer, of Mauch Chunk, is chairman. This is the only iron furnace in the Lehigh Valley lying north of the Blue mountain. It is the only industry in the village.

 

Parryville became an independent school district on March 4.1867.

 

It was incorporated as a borough early in the year 1875, Dennis Bauman serving as its first chief burgess. The town had 657 inhabitants in 1880. In 1900 the population numbered 723, but during the last decade there was a falling off in the number of people living here.

 

The first road passing through this locality was that built by the Moravians in 1748, extending from Bethlehem to Gnadenhutten. It was known in this region as the Fire Line Road, and described a loop over the hills between Parryville and Bowmanstown. From 1756 to 1761, during the time when Fort Allen was garrisoned, it was used as a military road.

 

At the time of the massacre of Gnadenhutten, a company of militia from the Irish settlement in Northampton county are said to have come in pursuit of the Indians as far as the hill overlooking the hollow where  Parryville now stands. Fearing to go any farther in the darkness, they are said to have fired down into the bushes, and to have then departed. From this circumstance the term "Fire Line" is supposed by some to have been derived. Others adhere to the belief that the name had its origin from the fact that the elevated ground traversed by the road in question was employed to build signal fires upon during the Indian war period.

 

The first schoolhouse here was opened about the year 1820. Like most of the other schoolhouses erected through the region at that time, it was of logs. The annual term amounted to but three months. A modern brick structure now houses the three schools of the borough.

 

Public religious services were first conducted at Parryville about the year 1840. Meetings were first held in the schoolhouse, while Methodist ministers also addressed meetings at occasional intervals in private houses.

 

In 1863 the Methodists built a brick church which was dedicated on the 13th of December of that year by Bishop Scott.

 

The present building of the Reformed denomination  was erected in 1817, the edifice previously used having been destroyed by fire in 1896.

 

There is also an Evangelical church in the town. The Iron Exchange and the Fairview Inn are the only hotels in the place. The latter was licensed in 1907, having formerly been occupied as a dwelling by Dennis Bauman. It is now the property of his son, Robert Bauman.

 

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Except from Chapter XII on the Weatherly, PP. 339 - 342

 

WEATHERLY BOROUGH.

 

The borough of Weatherly, which is the largest and most important town in the upper portion of Carbon county, had its beginnings in the operations of the Beaver Meadow Railroad Company. Its later growth end development were brought about chiefly through the agency of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company, by which the first named corporation was in 1866 absorbed. The place is picturesquely situated between the Broad and Spring mountains on the banks of Hazle creek and on the Beaver Meadow and Hazleton division of the Lehigh Valley system. The distance by rail from this point to Mauch Chunk is about fourteen miles. The incorporated territory of the town comprises four square miles, and is bounded on the north, east, and southeast by Lehigh township, on the northwest by Lausanne township, and in the west and southwest by Packer township. It is divided into four wards.

 

Formerly the town was called Black Creek, from the color of the water of the stream on which it is situated. Originally the dark color of the water of the creek was due to the fact that dense forests of hemlock grew in the swamps where the stream has its source; but it is now contaminated with sulfur water from the coal mines lying north of the Spring mountain. In 1848, upon the establishment of the post office here, the name of the place was changed to Weatherly, being so christened in honor of David Weatherly, one of the directors of the Beaver Meadow Company, who was a watch and clock maker. He promised to present the place with a town clock in recognition of the compliment conferred upon him by the bestowal of his name, but failed to redeem the pledge. The warrantee owners of the ground upon which Weatherly is built were Samuel S. Barber and John Romig, Sr. They purchased the land for the valuable timber that stood on it. The first settlement  was made on the Romig tract about 1825, when Benjamin Romig erected a saw mill and a dwelling on the west side of the creek. The dwelling occupied the site of Elmer Warner's store, while the saw mill stood opposite the Lehigh Valley depot. Benjamin Romig moved his family to this p]ace in 1826. The first lumber sawed in his mill was for the building of a school house in what is now known as Hudsondale. Soon after 1830 Romig erected a large house on the west side of the creek, near the "Rocks," and securing a license, conducted a tavern therein.

 

A portion of the Barber tract was purchased by Asa Packer, and about 1835, John Smith, who was conspicuous among the early residents, came to the place to supervise the clearing of the land and to take charge of Mr. Packer's interests in the vicinity generally. Under his immediate directions a saw mill was put up about a mile below Black Creek Junction, while a store was opened just across the creek from Romig's saw mill. A little later than this William Tubbs opened a tavern on the present site of the Gilbert House.

 

Barring the saw mill, the first attempt at manufacturing here was made by Samuel Ingham, president of the Beaver Meadow Railroad Company, and others. They made a certain kind of locks for a time, but the project was soon abandoned.

 

Black Creek could boast of but a few houses until the completion of the Beaver Meadow Railroad, in the fall of 1836. It was then made the stopping place for the heavy engines and crews of the company. The company at first located its foundry and machine and repair shops at Beaver Meadow. To overcome the heavy grade above Weatherly, two inclined planes, each about half mile in length, were constructed. Difficulty was experienced in getting the locomotives up these planes to the shops for repairs, and, in 1840, the shops were removed to Weatherly. While this was detrimental to the interests of Beaver Meadow, it gave added impetus to the growth of Weatherly. The shops were located near the point where the town hall now stands, and were driven by water power. Hopkin Thomas, who became one of the most prominent figures in the industrial affairs of the Lehigh Valley, was the master mechanic in charge. The shops were swept away by the freshet of 1850, being rebuilt the same year. In 1855 a stretch of new railroad was laid from Weatherly to Hazle Creek Junction, a distance of nearly two miles. Upon its completion, the inclined planes were abandoned. The section of road replacing the planes is still at use, and is known to railroaders as the Weatherly Hill. It has a grade of one hundred and forty-five feet to the mile, and has witnessed many thrilling runaways. With the abandonment of the planes the company moved its shops to the east side of the creek. As the mines were developed and as railroading progressed, the capacity of the shops was increased from time to time, while the town grew and prospered correspondingly.

 

Weatherly was a part of Lausanne township until 1863, when it was organized as a borough. At the time the taking of the census of 1870, it contained 1,076 people. During the succeeding decade, the population nearly doubled.

 

Philip Hoffecker succeeded Hopkin Thomas as master mechanic in the machine shops early in the fifties. When the Beaver Meadow Railroad was consolidated h the Lehigh Valley he was retained by the latter Company, spending the remainder of his life in its service. Under his supervision many of the finest locomotives in the country were built, his name standing as a synonym for excellence over the whole Lehigh Valley system. Not only did the shop over which he had charge turn out good locomotives, but it also produced good men. Those who served their apprenticeship under him readily found employment elsewhere, and Weatherly today takes pardonable pride in the success that many of her sons have achieved in industrial pursuits in all parts of the country. Mr. Hoffecker died in 1891. Another prominent figure in the town for more than half a century was Daniel Rouse. In 1855 he was p]aced in charge of the car shops here, and during nearly two generations of service in that capacity, he achieved an enviable reputation for mechanical and executive ability. The car shops were totally destroyed by fire on the morning of .July 8, 1880, the work of rebuilding them being completed the following year. The train crews which carried the coal produced in the Beaver Meadow and Hazleton region to Packerton, the, general forwarding point, made Weatherly their stopping place for many years. For a long time Samuel Harman was the dispatcher who had them in charge, and be enjoyed equal popularity with Hoffecker and Rouse.

 

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Rev. April 2010