1911

 Preface

The history of Schuylkill County is of such an inspiring nature that it can  never loose its value by repetition, and, with this end in view, this book has been  published.  Many important events have been told therein, which, we hope, will be of  interest to young and old.

Dives, Pomeroy & Stewart

 

SCHUYLKILL COUNTY

ITS EARLY HISTORY

Pioneer history of the State of Pennsylvania records the fact that Philadelphia was the  first section of the state to form a permanent settlement.  It had a substantial,  prosperous growth, and as civilization pushed North into the then known wilds of the  interior, an interior in which the Indian roamed at will, some of these early  adventurers returned to Philadelphia with tales of vast wealth in timber and minerals,  hence it was but a short time before the new territory became populated with new  owners, the streams became dotted with new homes upon its shores, the hills and valleys  were tilled, and it was but a few years ere it became necessary for counties to be  formed in order for law and justice to be near at hand and meted out to those who  required or desired it.

 

NEW COUNTIES FORMED

 

County organization had been formed in at least seven instances, when those pioneers  who had passed into the northern part of the then know Berks County, finding it  inconvenient to go to that county to transact their legal affairs, circulated a  petition to be presented to the Legislature of the State of Pennsylvania setting forth  in their prayer, that a new county be formed out of portions of Berks  and  Northampton  Counties.

 

These settlers, composed of men who could brave any storm, women who could stand  any hardship, being God-fearing, peace-loving people, whom no Indian warrior, no  hardship, could drive from their adopted hearthstone, handed their petition to those in  authority, where it reached the hands of willing co-operators, and finally when it  passed the Legislative body, Governor Simon Snyder attached his signature thereto,  March 18, 1811, creating an Act which states, “that all that part of Berks County lying  between the townships of Brunswick, Schuylkill, Manheim, Norwegian, Upper Mahantongo,  Lower Mahantongo and Pinegrove; also the townships of West Penn and Rush in   Northampton County, be formed into a new county, the name of which shall be “Schuylkill.” It’s population was about 6,000.

 

Thus Schuylkill County received its title owing to its harboring the headwaters  of the Schuylkill River which flowed South to Philadelphia where it entered the  Delaware River South of that city, forming the Delaware Bay, thence into the Atlantic  Ocean.

 

THE COURT HOUSE PROVISO

 

The act as passed contained a proviso that a Court House be erected in the new  county in which justice could be administered, thereby saving litigants the time and  expense of going many miles to the Berks county seat, and in order to further  facilitate matters the enactment approved of a court of justice being established until  such times as a court house could be erected.  The residence of Abraham Reiffsnyder, in  Brunswick Township, was selected as a place in which to hold said court, and in  December, 1811, the first session of court was held, commencing on the first Monday of  the month, thereby setting in motion the official machinery of the county.

 

At the first session of the court, ten lawyers were admitted to practice, and up  to the present time, covering a period of a century, hundreds of attorneys have been admitted to practice at the bar of justice.

 

Orwigsburg was one of the first settlements in the county, Peter Orwig having  located there, thus receiving the honor of being termed the first settler, the date of  settlement being 1796. The town, however, was not incorporated until the year 1813, and  when the question of erecting a Court House arose, the new county was confronted with  formidable rivalry for the honors, Orwigsburg, McKeansburg, and Schuylkill Haven  claiming it because of its similarity to the new county’s name, but McKeansburg and  Orwigsburg likewise put forth strong claims, with the result that Orwigsburg finally  won the coveted prize.

 

Three Commissioners had been appointed by the Governor of the State to examine  the claims of the various towns with the above result, though their task for a time  seemed to be a difficult one.

 

 SCHUYLKILL’S FIRST COURT HOUSE

 

The first Court House was erected in Orwigsburg at a cost of $5,000 in 1815, the  first session of court being held therein during the early part of the year 1816. The building was enlarged in 1827, and again in 1846, which served  the county in every respect until Pottsville, a town which had grown to huge  proportions, decided it was a more suitable and convenient place for the county seat,  and setting forth that it was inconvenient for litigants to be compelled to go to  Orwigsburg to attend to their legal matters, another petition was procured praying the  Legislature to change the county seat to Pottsville, and after at least 15 years delay,  from 1831 to 1846, a successful attempt was made, the Act for which was finally passed  by the Legislature and approved by the Governor, on March 13, submitting the question  to the voters, the change being desired principally owing to the fact that the railroad  and canal connections with Orwigsburg were not sufficient or convenient to carry the  public to that town without losing valuable time, whilst Pottsville had excellent  facilities, and was within easy access from all parts of the county.  Pottsville won at  the election.

 

POTTSVILLE’S FIRST COURTHOUSE

 

In 1851, after two years of labor, the new county seat placed at the disposal of the public a Court House costing $30,000, December 1st of that year witnessing the removal of the  county’s records from the Court House at Orwigsburg to the new one at Pottsville.

 

This building served the purpose of the public until 1892, when the present  handsome Court House on the corner of Minersville, Second and Sanderson streets was  completed and dedicated with appropriate ceremonies, the Third Brigade Band, of  Pottsville, Prof. Frederick Gerhard, bandmaster, with thirty-two members, furnishing  the music for the occasion, a vast concourse of people assembling for the purpose of  witnessing the ceremonies. The new building, with equipment, costing nearly half a  million dollars.

 

 

A NEW COUNTY PROPOSED

 

Several attempts have been made to have parts of Schuylkill county, parts of  Luzerne County, and parts of Carbon County detached from their respective counties with  the idea of forming a new county, and when last presented before the Legislature, even  though it had the sanction of the then great political leader, Matthew Stanley Quay,  with the expectation of naming the new county in his honor, the project was frustrated bitter opposition of the residents of Schuylkill County.

 

 

COUNTY PRISON

 

In 1851 the county having insufficient accommodation for prisoners, it was  necessary to build a prison, which was done at a cost of $70,000, and is located on  Sanderson Street, Pottsville, occupying one city block, from Second to Third streets,  and from Sanderson to Harrison Streets. The building has been enlarged and otherwise  remodelled until today it is a structure which cost the county nearly $120,000, having  all modern conveniences.

 

COUNTY ALMSHOUSE

In 1831, an Act passed the legislature designating Schuylkill county as a poor  district, hence it became necessary to procure a site and erect an Almshouse, when a  tract of land in North Manheim Township, adjoining the Borough of Schuylkill haven, was  purchased at a cost of $6,000, but later additions to the property added ground which  finally totals 283 acres. A building was erected in 1833, which has been added to, and  other small buildings erected until a series of buildings was the result, and although  it cost the county a sum almost equal to one quarter of a million dollars. It was entirely inadequate for the purpose, hence the county entered  upon a new era of County Almshouse history when it decided to erect a new Almshouse  Insane Hospital and for that purpose on May 19, 1911, bonds approximating half a  million dollars were sold to the highest bidder, the proceeds to be used for the  building project.   The interest on bonds to be at the rate of four percentum per  annum, free of tax. 

 

EXCELLENT WAR HISTORY

“MIGHTY MEN WERE THEY”

Schuylkill County can point with pride to its magnificent war history.

 

When the call to arms sounded during the Revolution period, and General George  Washington was clamoring for men and arms, the cry was heard throughout the hills and  valleys of this section of the country prior to its becoming a county, and in 1777, the  Pennsylvania Archives records the names of soldiers who enlisted from what is now the  southwestern section of our county (the location being Pinegrove).

 

In the Indian Wars, the inhabitants responded to the call again and served  their country faithfully.

 

During the War with Mexico in the year 1846, following the call of the Governor  of the State for troops, the Washington Artillary, a company of young men who had  organized themselves into a military company, offered their services, and were accepted. They were mustered into  the service of the Government as Company B, First Penna. Volunteers. They served with  distinction under the banner of  General Winfield S. Hancock, a Philadelphia general of  national fame, and when peace was declared after the submission of Mexico, the young  men returned to their homes and were received with great honors.  Col. Daniel Nagle,  residing on West Norwegian street, Pottsville, is one of the survivors of this  campaign.

 

THE FIRST DEFENDERS

 

When the shot was fired on Fort Sumter that re-echoed around the world, on April  12, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln’s call on April 15, 1861, for volunteers for three  months, was answered by Schuylkill County in a manner that must have given great  encouragement to that greatest of statesmen and war presidents, when marching up  Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, the National Capital, five hundred and sixty men, two  hundred and fifty of whom were from Schuylkill county, announced the fact that they  were there to maintain the integrity of the nation.   They were the First Defenders,  composed of the Washington Artillery and National Light Infantry, of Pottsville, and in order to reach  the Capital, had passed through a trying ordeal in the city of Baltimore, where mobs  hurled sticks, stones and missiles of every description upon them, but orders had been  issued by their commanders to submit to the persecution in order to reach the coveted  goal, where they would be equipped with arms and uniforms. They arrived April 18th,  1861.

 

 

In their ranks that day was a colored man, and when felled with a missile,  Nicholas Biddle was made famous and the first man to shed blood for his country during  the awful struggle which followed the firing upon Fort Sumter, compelling Major  Anderson to lower the nation’s colors.

 

Nicholas Biddle was a Schuylkill county man residing in Pottsville and was  accompanying the soldier boys to assist in the camp duties when they arrived at Camp  Curtin, Washington.

 

Thus it was that the first blood shed in the war was the blood of a colored  man, the cause of the war being the freedom of the colored race.

 

The term of the First Defenders was now drawing to a close, and the Secretary  of War being a Pennsylvanian, and like all his countrymen resenting the right of  the Southern States to secede, the war governor as he was termed, Governor Andrew G.Curtin, advocated the call for  an army of half a million; however, his method of pushing the war was not  immediately accepted, although a large army was being mobilized, and in the fall of  1861, a call was sent forth for volunteers for three years, or the war.

 

 ONE - SEVENTH OF POPULATION AT WAR

 

Schuylkill county again showed her patriotism and sent armies to the front in rapid  succession, until peace was concluded.  It was found that out of a population of almost  91,000 she had sent forth one-seventh of her inhabitants, or 13,000.   A wonderful record it was, and one that received the plaudits of the entire country.   The blood that was shed from the veins of her beloved sons was not shed in vain.  The  widows who were left to mourn the loss of husband and father, reared their children in  a manner that has become the wonder of the century; the mothers and fathers who lost  their sons upon the battlefield, many to find unknown graves, have borne their sorrow  with fortitude, and as the wounds of the long Civil War have become healed by the span  of time, there is a growing friendship for the erring brothers of the South, and today the North and South are marching side by side in the  Centennial Celebration of the County of Schuylkill, in the City of Pottsville.

 

About this time in the history of the county, business circles were floundering  around for a steady foundation.  The war had caused an inflated valuation upon all  commodities, and as the sons of the nation were returning from the war and again  seeking employment, the shops and factories opened their doors and started business  life anew.

 

E.R. MORRIS BUILDING CHANGES OWNERSHIP

 

 In 1892, Josiah Dives and Geo. S. Pomeroy trading as Dives, Pomeroy & Stewart, bought  for their growing department store the R.R. Morris building, the largest and most  valuable mercantile property in Pottsville.

 

Who can imagine the memories associated with this historical building?  It was  the rendezvous for the old soldiers returning from the war, and here the tales of the  days of ’61 to ’65 were told and retold as they sat around the imaginary camp fires on  the fourth floor of this grand building. The bivouac was many times attended by famous  warriors who came to hear again the stories of how the First Defenders responded to the call of  Father Abraham, how the 48th and the 96th, and many other famous Schuylkill Regiments  time and again passed through the line of fire, and at every recall there was some of  the numbers found missing, and as the lines closed up, with aching hearts, those  remaining went forth again to do battle for their beloved country.

 

So it was with every regiment of the county, among the number being the  following:

5th Regiment - Co.’s C, E and I;

6th Regiment - Co.’s B, C, D, E, F, G,G, H;

9th Regiment - Co.’s H, K;

10th Regiment - G and Washington Light Infantry, Pinegrove;

14th Regiment - Co. B;

16th Regiment - Co.’s A, B,D, E,I, Schuylkill Guards, Minersville;

27th Regiment - Co.’s A,B,C, E, G, I;

28th Regiment - Forty men;

39th Regiment - Entirely from Schuylkill County;

40th Regiment - Thirty men;

48th Regiment - Entirely from Schuylkill County; Officers, Band, &c. complete;

50th Regiment - Co.’s A,B,C,D,E,F,I, K;

52nd Regiment - Fifty men;

53rd Regiment - Co.’s C,F,H,I;

55th Regiment - Co.’s E, and part B and C;

56th Regiment - Co. K;

60th Regiment - Co. I;

65th Regiment - Fifth Calvary entire;

67th Regiment - Co. K

70th Regiment - Sixth Calvary entire;

75th Regiment - About 40 men;

76th Regiment - About 40 men;

80th Regiment - Co.’s A,E,F,G, I,L;

81st Regiment - About 30 men;

93rd Regiment - About 30 men;

96th Regiment - Entirely from Schuylkill County; Officers, Band, &c., complete;

99th Regiment - Seventy-five men;

104th Regiment - Party only from Schuylkill ;

108th Regiment - Eleventh Calvary;

116th Regiment - Co. F;

13th Calvary - About 70 men;

127th Regiment - One man Co. C and K;

129th Regiment - Co. A,B,E,G,H;

137th Regiment - Co.K;

151st Regiment - Part Co. I;

161st Regiment - 16th Calvary 84 men;

162nd Regiment - 17th Calvary  Co. A; part Co. F;

173rd Regiment - Co.’s A,D, F, H;

184th Regiment - Part Co. F;

194th Regiment - Co.’s A,C, F, H;

210th Regiment - One man Co. H, Co. E;

214th Regiment - Co.C.

 

There is scarcely to be found anywhere an accurate list of the Schuylkill County  soldiers who served in every branch of the army during the terrible struggle. They  served their country well whether in the uniform of a sailor, a cavalryman, an  artilleryman, and infantryman, and though thousands of homes were rent and torn, the  struggle was not in vain, for the last half century has shown conclusively to the world  at large that it was wise to preserve the unity of the country even at the awful price  paid.

“I will exalt thee; I will praise thee;

For thou hast done most wonderful things.”

 

SPANISH WAR

Immediately the call to arms brought a ready response from Old Schuylkill.  The young  boys again shouldered the musket, and although all of them did not reach foreign  shores, they served their country to the best of their ability.

 

But a few of our Schuylkill County boys had the pleasure of getting close to the enemy  during the war, but they served their country well, however, and received honorable  discharges.

 

THE COAL INDUSTRY

SCHUYLKILL COUNTY LEADS

 

The delving into the earth’s surface for black diamonds is nowhere on the face  of the glove found to be more scientifically prosecuted than in the county of  Schuylkill.

 

Historians record the fact that coal was known to exist in this section  of Pennsylvania as far back as 1766; others claim that it was not known to exist  until nine years later, but what every school boy and girl of the present day residing  in the county of Schuylkill  does know, is, that coal it to be found here, and what the  great railroad corporations, and individual operators know about this deposit is, that  it exists in quantities to make the successful prosecutor a millionaire in a few short  years, and that if a streak of hard luck is experienced in the prosecuting of the  elusive veins, at times, it will make a pauper of the millionaire in a few short years,  and there are both classes of these citizens known to exist in our midst.

 

The huge culm banks that years ago were thought to be worthless refuse, have  alone made millionaires of those who discovered its steam-producing qualities, hence it  has been loaded upon wagons - mine wagons, sent up to the “Tip” of the breaker, dumped  into the proper channels in many instances in order to give it as thorough a cleansing  as possible, removing therefrom the rock and slate in the best possible manner, and  what was years ago considered the smallest size of coal, namely, Pea Coal, has now  become one of the most staple articles upon the market, and the sizes now run as low as  “Barley” and in some cases the finest of culm is now washed by a stream of force  through a hose, washed directly into the railroad cars holding from seventy to one  hundred tons, and sent to factories, where it is used for steam producing purposes.

 

RUSH FOR WEALTH

 

Tales of fabulous wealth to be gained by entering the Anthracite coal industry,  brought an influx of capitalists from all parts of the world to Schuylkill about the  year 1820.

The principal means of travelling was the stage coach running from Philadelphia to  Sunbury, having relay posts at various stations along the line.  The Center Turnpike, which is now the principal street of Pottsville, was the best road between these two points.  The coming of the stage coach  was the principal event of the week, as it brought with it news from the business and  social centers of the United States, and now that people of wealth were coming to seek  their fortunes in the coal mining industry, the public were worked up to a fever heat.

 

Pottsville had mines dotted along its hillsides; Mill Creek to the East was one  of the most successful points thus far worked;  Port Carbon, the termination of the  Schuylkill Navagation Company’s Canal, was the most prominent port, and a visit to that  town will find abandoned mines on the hillsides that were worked above the water levels  at the time mentioned above.  The coal was never found in sufficient quantities to  warrant the vast outlay of money the present day method of mining requires, but some  future day will find a valuable deposit of coal waiting the prospector. These veins are  said to be of free burning quality.

 

In order to get the output of the mines to the Schuylkill Navigation Company  Canal, Mr. Abraham Pott constructed a railroad one mile in length from Mill Creek to  the Schuylkill River at Black Valley, which is said to be two years prior to the building of the Mill Creek  Railroad, which was completed in 1829 and running from Port Carbon four miles up Mill  Creek Valley, having three miles of branches.  Mr. Pott was a resident of Pottsville,  and is given the honor of being the pioneer railroad operator of this section.

 

STEPHEN GIRARD IN REGION

 

The following year, 1830, Stephen Girard entered the county of Schuylkill coal  fields.

 

As history records, he purchased coal properties valued at $30,000, and the value  of coal removed from the bowels of the earth by his industry is perhaps incalculable,  even thought it might be possible for the Girard Estate, of Philadelphia, to  approximate the amount of hard cash handled by that great organization since the death  of  the great pioneer of the Mahanoy Valley.

 

He came to that section of the country when the Mahanoy Creek was a silvery stream of  water in which abounded the finny tribes of many varieties.  Its banks were dotted with  the virgin growth of centuries.

 

The waters lapped the overhanging branches of the healthy growing trees and shrubbery,  and as the stream rushed on towards the Susquehanna, it carried with it health, and beauty to every living thing.

 

The famous Girard tunnel at Mahanoy Plane poured forth millions to its possessor, and as the refuse was piled mountain high upon the valley and hillside, other  operations likewise poured its refuse upon miles of hillsides, until half a century  later, all vegetation in the once beautiful  valley had succumbed to the crave for  black diamonds, and the stream became a stream of silt and filth, its woods had  disappeared for mine timber, and what would have grown forth for future generations was  choked to death by the silt that was left to wash from the hills down into the stream,  raisin its bed to an alarming height, and  the homes that had dotted its shores were  now left desolate, abandoned, until time mercifully removed them from the eye of the  passerby, and Ashland, Girardville, Mahanoy Plane, Maizeville, Gilberton, Mahanoy City  and the little towns and villages were compelled to keep away from the shore of the  stream, for Spring freshets yearly claimed its toll of destruction to homes and there  is naught to save the hillsides from becoming bare save the once despised laurel which  is now looked upon as a flower placed there by a kind act of Providence to show to  future generations of that valley a diminutive tree that has withstood the ravages of  the coal industry, and what might have been if nature had been protected by man.

 

THE FIRST RAILROADS

 

 The Mount Carbon Railroad ran along the Norwegian Creek a distance of seven miles, and  was used to ship the coal product from various mines along its tracks to the Schuylkill  Navigation Company in 1831.

 

The rails of all roads at this time consisted of wooden rails, with strap iron  spiked or screwed onto the wooden rails in order to prevent too much wear upon the  wood.  This acted as a fairly safe method of hauling coal when a shipment of possibly  ten or fifteen tons were shipped at one time, and Stephen Girard had sufficient wealth  to connect his Mahanoy Plane and Girardville operations with a railroad starting at the  mines, and erecting an incline plane from that point to Frackville, hoisting the card  up one at a time, and then making up a train, running it along this railroad over a  comparatively level tract for about two miles to the head of the grade, where it ran  along what is now the public road running south in the direction of New Castle, where another inclined plane was erected, down which the cars  were run to a point where it could again be run a long distance down an easy grade, and  again incline planes and levels until Pottsville was reached, where the product was  loaded upon coal boats and shipped down the Schuylkill River, and if necessary out   Delaware Bay to the Atlantic and shipped thence to any part of the world.

 

The Little Schuylkill Railroad ran to Tamaqua and at its completion in 1831 a  grand gathering of residents of that section of the county held a monster jubilation  meeting to commemorate the event.

 

For a time the coal industry was making wonderful strides, but a depression  occurred at regular intervals and great distress was felt by the miners and their  “butties” at these intervals.

 

The first strike of which there is any authentic record, occurred in the region  when in 1835 the boat men on the Schuylkill Navigation Company Canal caused a general  tie-up for several weeks.

 

In 1839 the output of coal from the region reached high water mark and soon the  necessity for better railroad facilities was made manifest.

 

P. AND R. ENTERS REGION

 

In the year 1842 the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Company were granted a  charter to enter the region, and it was not long before greater railroad facilities  than every before contemplated was the result.

 

The first railroad station in Pottsville is still at a point near the Mount  Carbon arch, having been used as a warehouse for many years after being abandoned as a  passenger station.  Although not very pretentious in appearance to the present  generation, it held many a famous National character, either in financial or social  affairs, who had come to inspect the coal region, learn the character of its people,  its business men, and its political desires.

 

The old Mansion House, which also is still standing in Mount Carbon, was a great  resort for people of wealth, and the grand old hills surrounding this property at Mount  Carbon could unfold many a tale of adventure of the heart or purse if its trees and  shrubbery could unfold the scenes to human ears.  In the days of that grand old man,  Henry Clay, National politics were freely discussed by men who revered that honored and  respected statesman.

 

The old Mansion House was looked upon as a health resort during the height of its  prosperity, but not many years elapsed before the trend of civilization was toward the  North and East, hence Mount Carbon soon lost its popularity, and some years later the  Philadelphia  & Reading Railroad terminal and station was transferred to the corner of  Union and Railroad streets, Pottsville, where it remained for many years, the station,  however, being abandoned for passengers in 1887-8, when the present station was built  at the corner of East Norwegian and Railroad Streets, and the old station used as  a  freight station.

 

MINERS TROUBLES

 During the succeeding years, labor troubles occurred owing to the varying conditions of  the coal market.

 

For several months of the year  the miners averaged fairly good returns for their  labor, but a depression in the industry caused a suspension of work, and though good  wages resulted when work was plentiful, a miner is generally found to be liberal to a  fault, so that the days of plenty were enjoyed whilst the days of want were extremely  exasperating, and as the coal operators had organized (  end of page 32 )

to protect their interests, the miners reasoned that if it was good for the operator,  it might be good for the miner, hence in the year 1868 the Workingmen’s Benevolent  Association was organized, but as it was impossible for the miner to retain his  position if he was a member, their deliberations were generally held in secret places,  until their strength was sufficient to make demands, which was attempted in the  following year, which lasted four months with but little success, owing to the fact  that when the miners in the Schuylkill region went on strike, the miners from the upper  coal regions came to operate the collieries, until, after a time, it was found that the  upper regions went on strike, and the lower region miners went up there to take their  positions, hence it was not a successful termination in every instance, but the  organization of the miners today is a powerful one, and in recent years has assisted  the men in various ways in gaining recognition from the railroad and coal corporations.

 

MOLLIE MAGUIRES

 

In 1873, the organization know as the Mollie Maguires, Ribbon Men, or the White  Boys, as variously termed, had created so much havoc throughout the county, that Mr. Franklin B. Gowen, President of the Philadelphia &  Reading Railway Company, and the Philadelphia & Reading Coal Company, called upon the  Allan Pinkerton Detective Agency to “bring evidence before the Courts of this and  adjoining Counties whereby convictions could be successfully prosecuted against this  organization, which has committed murders innumerable, and every time the cases are  brought before the courts, convenient alibis are produced whereby the criminals escape  justice.”

 

The method of the Mollie Maguires seemed to be the doing away of every mine boss  in the coal region that did not favor members of their organization in preference to  men in other walks of life.  It appears that the organization was transplanted here  from Ireland, presumably brought about by opposition to the lords of that country, and  the crimes were committed by some stranger brought to the region for that purpose, and  after the crime was committed, the trail was lost, as alibis were promptly presented  for every person accused.

 

The Pinkerton Agency employed Detective James McParlan of New York, to come to  the county in disguise as a tramp, work his way into the hearts of the Irishmen who were thought to  be interested in the organization, and for three years, until his disguise was  penetrated, he had secured evidence of every murder, prevented some attempted murders,  and finally when accused of being a detective, decided to go upon the stand, resulting  in the conviction of several of the ringleaders of the order, who were hung in  Schuylkill county for crimes committed there.

 

Other murderers were hung in adjoining counties through the work of Detective  McParlan, who was known as James McKenna whilst securing evidence.

 

The Mollie Maguires were thrown in such disorder, that they disbanded and never  again entered into the history of the county.

 

COUNTY INSTITUTIONS

 

The Miners’ Hospital, located at Fountain Springs, near Ashland, is an  institution which was established by an Act of the Legislature in 1879, since which  time it has treated injured persons from the coal mines to the number of thousands.   Its corridors are usually overflowing with injured patients who receive the best medical and surgical attention it is possible to obtain.   The institution is regarded as one of the best of its kind in the country.

 

The Pottsville Hospital is an institution that is maintained by the assistance of  the State of Pennsylvania, supplemented by the personal gifts of the citizens of  Pottsville and this section of the county.  It had done good work since its  incorporation and fills a long felt want, for previous to its incorporation there was  no place to take injured employees from the many railroads in the lower section of the  county.

 

The Children’s Home, located at Agricultural Park, Pottsville, is an institution which  cares for orphan children, and it rarely finds the number of dependents within its  doors to be below a score or more.  It is maintained by the free will offerings of the  people, supplemented by appropriation from the State Legislature.  Its work is a  commendable one.

 

 OLD SCHUYLKILL CANAL

The old Schuylkill Navigation Company Canal was opened for traffic to Mount Carbon in  the year 1825. Owing to the demand for some means whereby coal could be shipped over the canal from  the coal workings, now becoming busy industries beyond Mill Creek, and extension to  that place was made in the year 1828.

 

From the year 1832 to 1842, the region was enjoying unlimited prosperity, and owing to  still further demands being made for greater facilities for the handling of coal, in  1846 it was still further enlarged and points along its route were made to accommodate  larger coal barges.

 

Everything was moving along nicely until the year of 1850 brought with it great floods,  resulting in the destroying of the canal locks, huge foundations being broken down, the  dams along the canal bursting through their banks, doing incalculable damage.

 

In 1865 railroad interests were working with the idea of securing the right of the  canal, and after years of opposition to the monopoly, the Legislature, on  March 21,  1865, granted certain privileges to the Philadelphia & Reading corporation, and in 1879  the canal was abandoned to points beyond Port Clinton.  This was a great error for the  residents of the county to tolerate, for it choked off all competition in the handling  of  freight between Pottsville and Philadelphia, and along canal routes on the Atlantic  coast.

 

Within the past two years agitation has been brought about with the hope of again  having the canals of the Atlantic coast opened up for traffic, arguing that with an  Inland Canal route, in case of war with a foreign nation, the canals could transact  business from the New England coast to points in the far south without the shipping  interests of the country being disturbed.

 

SCHUYLKILL’S RAILROAD AND TROLLY FACILITIES

 

It has been said, and perhaps with some foundation, that Schuylkill county has  more railroads and railroad connections than any territory of the same dimensions in  the United States, due to its coal mining industries, which require railroad  connections with the main lines in order to ship their product to far distant points.

 

As noted in another part of this history, the Philadelphia & Reading company was  the first corporation to enter the Anthracite coal fields on an extensive plan.  The  officers had learned somewhat about the immense fortunes to be found under the surface, and after purchasing small  lines between 1830 and 1840 they finally consolidated these interests and in 1844 were  granted a charter to enter Pottsville, prior to which time the station was located in  Mount Carbon.

 

The station at the corner of Union Company had placed every obstacle in the way  of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company for several years, in order to keep them out of  this region, but their efforts were frustrated, as the Pennsylvania succeeded in  gaining a foothold in 1884-5, erecting a station at the corner of East Norwegian and  Coal streets, Pottsville.

 

This caused the Philadelphia & Reading to procure an uptown-site, which was done  by purchasing the properties at the corner of East Norwegian and Railroad streets, and  in 1886-7 they built the station which is still in use.

 

The Pennsylvania - Schuylkill Valley Division  was therefore the means of  procuring better station facilities from the Philadelphia & Reading, for the station at Union Street was not well adapted to the use of the travelling  public.

 

It was necessary for the traveling public to go up the flight of steps on Union  Street, procure their ticket, and await the call informing them what train was about to  depart, when it was necessary to go down a long flight of steps to gain the platform  located on a lower floor on Railroad Street.

 

This station is now used as the freight department of the company.  It is an  admirable location for this business, and the shed in the rear of the building makes it  convenient at all times and conditions of weather for the handling of freight.

 

When the Pennsylvania-Schuylkill Valley Railroad was projected, there was general  rejoicing by the public because of the excellent facilities it would afford the town  both from the north and the south, and the many passengers coming from the north at the  present time shows it to be well patronized by the Schuylkill people.

 

Prior to their entrance into the county, all of this traffic was done on the  Philadelphia & Reading, hence the bitter opposition displayed. Now, however, all semblance of bitterness has vanished, and the lion and the lamb  lie down ogether in perfect peace in contentment, and the public pays the toll.

 

Between both railroads, the county is thoroughly well honeycombed with railroads;  however, the Lehigh Valley traverses sections of the county, but for several years has  not entered the former stopping point in Pottsville - the Pennsylvania station on Coal  Street, although one train daily runs in and out of Pottsville between this point and  Lizzard Creek Junction which connects with the New York fast trains.

 

The trolley service of the county is excellent.

 

The People’s Railway was chartered in 1865, and ran a horse car line between  Mount Carbon and Twelfth Street, also out to Fishbach in Pottsville.  At Twelfth Street  a steam railroad carried passengers to and fro from Minersville, the road not being in  operation, however, until 1872.

 

The Schuylkill Electric Railway Company was organized in 1889.  This company  passed into the hands of the Eastern Pennsylvania Railways Company which now operates a  trolley system running from Heckscherville through Pottsville, the central  headquarters, to Mauch Chunk, and with the exception of a two mile break in the chain, beyond that point, connects with a system that leads into the city of Philadelphia.

 

The Schuylkill Traction Railway operates in the Mahanoy Valley from Locust Dale,  through Ashland, Girardville, Mahanoy Plane, Shenandoah, Mahanoy City, with branches in  various directions.

 

A FAMILY OF MERCHANTS

 

The Morris Family of this section of the county originated from the Philadelphia  branch, one of their number becoming a National character through his saving the  country’s credit during the struggles with England in the series of wars ending in  1812.

 

The Declaration of Independence contains the signature of Robert Morris, the  above mentioned gentleman, who in the space of four years had become the country’s most  able financier.

 

He was appointed by Congress as Treasurer, owing to his ability in projecting the  National Bank of North America, being described as a man well versed in commerce and  finance.  His idea was to provide $400,000, for the nation’s needs by disposing of  share of $400 each, which was finally done with great satisfaction to all concerned, in fact, it is historically noted that “ To the financial skill and indefatigable efforts  of Mr. Morris in the Treasury Department, it has been thought this country was  scarcely less indebted, than to the valour of her soldiers and the wisdom of her  statesmen.  Immediately public credit revived, the army, the members of which had been  clamoring for money and supplies, were now pacified, and new impulse was given to every  operation in the field and cabinet.”

 

From this family came Samuel Morris, a resident of Berks County, locating in  Pottsville and entering business with his three sons.

 

For a time they continued together, then in later years, each of the three sons  started a business of his own, John S. going to Railroad Street between Race and  Minersville streets, which was then a very prominent thoroughfare in town, the  railroads running down that street from the various mine operations along the line from  Guinea Hill to Wadesville.

 

Samuel Morris conducted a store in the property formerly occupied by John  Ginther, No. 218 North Centre Street.

 

Richard R. Morris, the most able of the three sons, opened a store formerly  occupied by Andrew White, corner Centre and Mahantongo.  Some time later he erected a large building which  was then the marvel of the times to the people of this locality, being the  property  known as the Morris building, and which was purchased by the firm of Dives, Pomeroy &  Stewart in 1892.

 

Mr. Richard R. Morris was a great merchant, but when the inflated war prices sank  to their normal level, and having financially aided other merchants in distress, he  himself fell a victim to the times of reconstruction, and the handsome building, which  is a monument to his enterprise passed out of his hands.

 

Since passing into the hands of Dives, Pomeroy & Stewart, it has undergone  decided changes and improvements.

 

 STATE ROADS IN COUNTY

 

The State of Pennsylvania enacted a law some time ago whereby assistance could be  rendered by the state for the building of macadamized roads, providing these roads were  made under the supervision of state officials.

 

Schuylkill County has availed herself of this opportunity, and many miles of   roads have been built since this enactment passed, and many more miles are  contemplated.

 

These roads are substantially made, and with but little care will give many years  of service.  One stretch extends from Pottsville to Schuylkill Haven a distance of two  miles, well rounded and drained, in order to shed the water, thereby given a good solid  roadbed, excellently well adapted to the needs of motorists or drivers.

 

Another section of the road built under the supervision of the state, is that  between a point near Schuylkill Haven and extending to Friedensburg, a distance of four  miles.

 

Four miles of this same style road leads into Orwigsburg from south of Schuylkill  Haven.

 

In West Penn Township, another section of four miles has been built, and is well  adapted for the use of the many travellers from that section.

 

At Ringtown there is a one mile stretch, and at Pinegrove another stretch of a  mile.

 

Altogether the county possesses about twenty-five miles, and the prospects are  that the near future will see many more added to its thoroughfares.

 

FIRES IN SCHUYLKILL COUNTY

 

Sunday, September 10th, 1848, was never forgotten by the inhabitants of  Pottsville who resided there at that time, and those who still survive, recall with  horror the fire that broke out on that fateful hour of eleven o’clock in the night.   Hay and straw in a building on the corner of East Arch and Railroads streets had  ignited, and before the fire department realized it , the entire block was ablaze at  one time.  Many were rendered homeless, and the damage ran into the hundred thousand  dollars.

 

Friday, June 20th, 1873, was another day to be remembered by Pottsville  inhabitants, when a fire broke out in Marzlin’s planing mill, and burning around the  entire block, caused another one hundred thousand dollars loss, and the fire  departments of Saint Clair, Minersville, and Mahanoy City were called upon for  assistance, which was freely given. 

 

Sunday, March 19th, 1876, was another sad day for Pottsvillians, for at 5:30 in  the morning they were routed out of bed as the cry of fire spread, and the old Town  Hall, in which all of the town Odd Fellow Lodges were tenants and stockholders,  ( end of page 46 )

were burned out and their entire paraphernalia destroyed.  Many business houses also  suffered complete destruction.

 

Shenandoah likewise suffered a destructive fire on Nov. 12th, 1883, when the  central business portion of the town was destroyed.  The Mining Herald printing office  of T.J. Foster was amongst the number.  After this fire the firm removed to Pottsville,  and Pottsville people were invited to join in forming a company to push forward the  work such as this firm was doing.  They refused to do so, and Mr. Foster, going to  Scranton, received financial support, resulting in the magnificent establishment such  as the Scranton International Correspondence  Schools have become.

 

January 2, 1911, a fire broke out in a Minersville home at two o’clock in the  morning.  The town firemen responded, and after two buildings had been burned, several  people in a maudlin condition notified the firemen that there were children in the  house when the fire broke out.  Why they did not tell the firemen earlier is attributed  to ignorance, but to the horror of the men who worked so faithfully, the report proved  to be too true, and five children had been incinerated when their little lives might  have been saved if the firemen ( end of page 47 )

had been notified.  Not one man in the ranks would have hesitated to take his life in  his own hands to save the children if he had known it.

At the hearing before the coroner’s jury, the parents were found guilty of negligence.

 

COUNTY FLOODS

 Occasionally floods visit the anthracite region, and rarely do they pass without  creating serious damage.

 

In the year 1850 the floods did great damage.  Tumbling Run dams, which were used  to feed the canal, were destroyed by the breaking through of the breasts, the rush of  water carrying with it great destruction along the line of the canal.  Canal locks were  swept away as so much paper, although they had been built of ponderous rock.

 

In 1859 another series of floods caused residents of Saint Clair to flee to the   hills, but besides high water, no serious damage was done.

 

A few years ago, Mahanoy City was visited with a flood resulting in the bursting  of the water dam north of the town, and damage in the town proper was considerable.

 

On May 23, 1910, Pottsville had severe rain ( end of  page 48 )

storms, and the waters rose to such a height that it flowed through the Philadelphia &  Reading station in a stream having the proportions of a river.  The dam above the  Eastern Steel Mill burst through its breastwork, carrying many large pieces of lumber  and wreckage with it, and after passing through the mill rushed down into the low  sections of Pottsville, causing the damage to be extremely large, the county losses  being estimated at a quarter of a million dollars, as the result of this heavy  precipitation, which was general.

 

 

SCHUYLKILL’S COAL OUTPUT

 

The amount of coal mined in the county from the time of its incorporation taken  every tenth year, is as follows:

For the year 1820…………………………..357 tons

1830……………………..174,734 tons

1840……………………..865,384 tons

1850……………………3,358,899 tons

1860………………….. 8,513,123 tons

1870………………….15,849,899 tons

1880………………….23,437,242 tons

1890………………….35,855,174 tons

 

And though the National and State officials may attempt to designate or estimate the amount of coal still remaining beneath the earth’s  surface, there is no danger of the present coal output in the county vanishing  entirely, or at least for hundreds of years, no matter what experts say to the  contrary.

 

When the county was first incorporated, the cry of coal exhaustion was raised,  and after working above water levels, for years, there was not idea that other levels  would be as productive for a long time afterwards, yet such was the case, and  supposedly worked out mines, which were worked in the 40’s and 50’s are this day  proving to be the most valuable operations now working in the county.

 

It is not necessary to waste the coal production; however, there is still plenty  of coal to be found, and for generations there will be more to follow.

 

INDIAN SPRINGS AND PATHS

 

Early settlers in the county have recorded the fact that not many Indians made  their permanent abode in the county, but there are some excellent records of their  having made this section their habitation at various times of the year. One point referred to as being a stopping point for the early Indians is that of the  spring out Mahantongo Street, near Twentieth Street, Pottsville, where a never-failing  spring of water flows cheerfully along.  Some years ago relics of Indian utensils were  found in this locality.

 

Another spring that early writers mention is the one on Indian Run road,  presumably named in honor of the visits of these primeval people, whether as a  permanent abode of as a place of rest whilst migrating from one point to another.  No  matter which is correct, it is a typical place for a rendezvous, and many a weary  traveler has cooled his brow and slaked his thirst at this delightfully cool stream of  water.

 

It has been stated in former years that the location now occupied as the Charles  Baber Cemetery was a place of residence of the early Indian, and as there was a stream  of water usually to be found here, it is altogether likely that this was one of their  temporary abiding places.

 

Early Schuylkill county history states that the John Filbert and Edward Peale  farms below Schuylkill Haven were permanent settlements of the early Indian, and that  they raised crops in this locality.  This may be correct, for more crimes were committed by roving Indians in the lower section of the county than any other  point, perhaps caused by wandering marauders who sought temporary shelter under the  tent of some friendly tribe.

 

Spear heads, tomahawks, corn pounders, and various Indian utensils have been  plowed up in the Ringtown Valley in the upper section of the county, presumably from  some habitation of the Indian travelling from one section to another, or perhaps camp  quarters which gave place of refuge to those who travelled from one tribe to another  across the state from the Susquehanna to the Delaware, carrying messages to and fro  during the war times.

 

No Indian maiden, however, could have a more beautiful setting than the falls of  Tumbling Run, and had Longfellow been a witness to a periodical visit of such a maiden,  he perhaps would have given the world a rival to his famous poem, “Hiawatha.”

 

LOOKING BACKWARD

 

In recalling the days of 1823, in Pottsville, a writer states that John Pott had  built a two-story brick building on the site of the Merchant’s National Bank, which was at that time considered a neat and attractive building.  

 

A two-story log house occupied the corner of Centre and Howard Avenue, opposite  the Trinity Episcopal Church, and a few scattered buildings stood where the present  large Dives, Pomeroy& Stewart building now stands.  Quite a contrast from the days of  nearly eighty years ago.

 

Market Street was laid out by Burd Patterson and William Pott, the latter being  granted land by his father for the purpose, hence Garfield Square owes its wide expanse  t the generosity of the Pott family.

 

Henry O’Neil, a Frenchman, built a house at the corner of Centre and West Arch  streets, the south-east corner, in this year, and David Phillips built two stone houses  on the site now occupied by the Eastern Pennsylvania Railways Company’s offices.

 

Ex-Sheriff John T, Werner, a gentleman well know by the present generation, came  from Lebanon County, and became one of the county’s most widely known and greatly  admired grand old men.

 

In 1825 the town took a prosperous advance and built up rapidly, but during the  second term of President Jackson in the years 1834 and 1837, it suffered great depression, similar to that endured by the entire country.

 

In 1838 it revived, however, and a better condition prevailed.

 

COUNTY MINERALS

 

Attempts have been made at various times to unearth other minerals than coal, in  Schuylkill County, but with varying success.  Iron ore has been found in small  quantities, but not sufficiently to make its removal a permanent success.

 

Gold has been reported from various farming sections within recent years, but  there is doubt as to the quantity of gold being found in the county in any degree  worthy of note.

 

Sand has been taken out of the earth at various parts of the county, and recently  an excellent quality of sand has been found near Hammon, on the Schuylkill &  Susquehanna branch of the Philadelphia & Reading Company, and prospecting will in the  near future be pushed forward to success.  There is no doubt about it being in paying  quantities, and a careful analysis of it has disclosed the fact that the famous  Cementon Works, in the adjoining county of Lehigh, will not be the only operation of  its kind, for this sand is sure to prove a competitor of the cement works, and that the future will find the greatest building  projects in the world using concrete materials from this region of the  county.

 

Besides this deposit of sand, there are several most desirable stone quarries on  the same land, in fact, the stone was of such value that when the Schuylkill Valley  division of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company ran through this section, the stone taken  from this location was used in the building of the massive, magnificent arches erected  by that company along its lines between Adamsdale and Pottsville.  The product improves  with exposure, as the arches of the company will prove from through investigation,  besides it is of a most desirable color.  The quarries will in some future day give up  its product for massive buildings that are sure to be required in this growing section  of the state, and perhaps they will be immense sky-scrappers.

 

Another mineral that has been worked for more than thirty years has almost   escaped the notice of county inhabitants, viz., smut, or the outcropping of the coal  veins.  This smut is found in some localities to be several feet in thickness, of a  soft, clammy substance.  It is gathered and shipped to points where it is manufactured into shoe polish, stove polish, varnishes,  and other preparations of this nature.  Some years ago when the stripping of the Saint   Clair  Coal Company was started, this smut was very prominent and an analysis proved it  to be valuable, but not in sufficient quantities at this point to be removed for  commercial purposes.

 

SCHUYLKILL’S POPULATION

In 1811 when the county was formed, there was estimated about 6,000 people residing  within its confines.

 

1820 the number advanced to……………………………11,311

1830…………………………………………………………20,744

1840…………………………………………………………29,053

1850…………………………………………………………60,713

1860…………………………………………………………89,510

1870………………………………………………………..116,428

1880………………………………………………………..128,784

1890………………………………………………………..154,163

1900………………………………………………………..172,927

1910……………………………………………………….207,894

 

 Nearly every town in the county received part of the increase, the population of the  principal towns given by the census of 1910 being:

Pottsville…………………………………………………….20,236        Shennadoah…………………………………………………25,774

Mahanoy City………………………………………………15,936

Tamaqua………………………………………………………9,462        Minersville……………………………………………………7,240        Ashland……………………………………………………….6,855

St. Clair……………………………………………………….6,455

Schuylkill Haven

Girardville……………………………………………………4,396        Frackville…………………………………………………….3,118

Port Carbon………………………………………………….2,678

New Philadelphia…………………………………………..2,512

Palo Alto…………………………………………………….1,87

Orwigsburg………………………………………………....1,801        Pinegrove……………………………………………………1,352        Cressona…………………………………………………….1,807        Gordon………………………………………………………1,185        Middleport……………………………………………….…1,100        Auburn………………………………………………………..921        Ringtown……………………………………………………..723

Port Clinton…………………………………………………..491

Mount Carbon……………………………………………….335

Landingville………………………………………………....268

New Ringgold…………………………………………….…266

 

Shenandoah, the metropolis of the county, has a large foreign population, many of  whom are becoming the best citizens in the county.  They are aggressive, eager to  learn, and before the first generation has reached their majority, in many instances,  they have become the leading citizens.

 

SCHUYLKILL TOWNS

POTTSVILLE

“The sleeping fox catches no poultry.” – Franklin

 

It is very evident that the town of Pottsville has not been like the sleeping fox, for  she catches most everything worth while that comes along in the county of Old  Schuylkill.

 

There has been much said pro and con about the laying out of the town, but  suffice it to say that the credit for this foundation rests with the Pott family who  came here in 1806, John Pott purchasing a furnace from Messrs. Reese and Thomas.

 

The town was laid out in 1816, though there is enough evidence to prove that  several families had located on the present site of the town even before the year 1800.

 

Mr. Pott came of a family famed for their knowledge of the iron industry, their  former residence being near the city of Philadelphia, and when John Pott arrived in this section, the first thing he attempted was to erect an  iron industrial plant that proved his judgment was not in error.

 

It is supposed he had some knowledge of the coal deposits in this locality, and  looked forward to the day when he would cast the molten metal from furnaces heated by  anthracite coal.

 

The first thing he did after purchasing the furnace was to erect homes for  workmen.  This was done in 1807.

 

After the death of Mr. Pott his remains were interred in the plot of ground in  the rear of the present Centre Street School Building, which for many years was the  burial ground for  the inhabitants of Pottsville, in fact, remained so until and Act of  the Legislature in the year 1897, passed through the efforts of Hon. G.C. Schrink, the  Representative from the Fourth District of Schuylkill County, permitted the School  Board of the District of Pottsville to remove the remains lying therein, and transfer  them to some other  suitable ground dedicated for that purpose, the ground afterwards  to be kept in presentable condition and to be used as a public school playground, which  is now the case, the ground above mentioned being that running from West Race Street up  Second Street to Laurel Street, in the rear of the Grammar School Building on  Centre  Street.

 

The bodies were removed, but the work was a trying one for members of the  Pottsville School Board, who were responsible for the careful removal of the same.

 

One family, that of Septimus Thomas, entered strenuous opposition, but the matter  was finally settled to the complete satisfaction of every one concerned.

 

The present site is a most beautiful park used for a most beautiful cause, that  of fresh air and recreation for the public school children.

 

JOHN POTT MONUMENT

 The monument erected to the memory of John Pott rests on this plot of ground being a  granite of huge proportions and standing near the rear of the school building.

 

The tracts of land upon which Pottsville rests was therefore originally known as  that being conveyed to John Pott, who in turn conveyed to numerous other parties up to  the year 1816, which was finally conveyed to the Schuylkill Navigation Company, and  many of our residents who have purchased property in Pottsville find this name in connection with their deeds and  transfers.

 

Pottsville was compelled for some years to go to the little town of Mount Carbon when it was necessary to take a train or boat out of town, and the old station remains  standing near the archway that opens under the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad at Mount   Carbon, as referred to in another article.

 

In the year 1824 Pottsville had but few houses, but in three years it had grown  to hundreds.  Business circles began to look upon it as the coming town of this  section, and accordingly large hotels were erected for the influx of coal magnates,  speculators, boatmen and others who were flocking to the section to participate in the  speculative world in which thousands of dollars were won or lost daily in the rush for  coal  land.

 

The  stage coach made its regular trips from Philadelphia with relays at various  points, Pottsville being one of them, and there are inhabitants living today who can  recall the last of the stage coach driver who had become a familiar figure along the  route, the one referred to being old Uncle “Andy” Irwin, whose home was located in Saint Claire at the northern end of the street now termed Second Street in that town.

 

Old “Andy’s” sayings were choice bits of Americanisms acquired after leaving his  home on the coast of Wales, taking to the American method of living with a relish.  He  was a past master in the art of  witticism, railery, singing and dancing, and his coach  has but within the past decade fallen to decay at the wheelwright shop at the corner of  North Centre Street and Railroad Street, Fishbach, Pottsville.

 

The Old Pioneer Furnace is remembered by those who frequented the “Orchard”  section of the town, and for many years was run successfully by the Charles M. Atkins  family, who still remain honored residents of our town.

 

POTTSVILLE MADE COUNTY SEAT

 

It was in the year 1842 that Pottsville secured the coveted title of county seat,  after continuous effort of 15 years, and  it remains to this day, even though an  attempt was made to take part of the county affairs to the new proposed county of Quay,  in which Hazleton sought the honor of being the new county seat.

 

 There were many iron industries, machine shops, mine supply manufactories, and mine  workers supplies judiciously handled by the town, the old George Snyder and Benjamin  Heywood mining machinery shops being located on the site of the Eastern Pennsylvania  Railways Company Power House at  Palo Alto, and it ran successfully until one day a  strike occurred in the ranks of the employees.  Mr. Haywood is reported as stating to  the men that if they went on strike, he would close the works, never to resume.

 

The workmen had heard this story repeated in the past, and therefore paid no  attention to it.  They went on strike, the shops were closed, and they never again  opened for the same purpose, and finally went to decay until purchased by the above  company.

 

MACHINERY FOR COLLIERIES

 

The firm of Sparks & Parker of later years, originated from the endeavors of  Jabez Sparks, John Sparks and Edward Greathead to erect machinery for the collieries in  1855.  They accomplished their purpose and conducted a large business.  The death of  Mr. Greathead, in 1855, and John Sparks retiring in 1860, Jabez Sparks continued, associating himself with his brother-in-law, Hiram Parker, under the title of Sparks &  Parker, the firm remaining in business up to a recent date.  Their place of business  was on East Norwegian Street where the Pennsylvania Railroad yards are now located,  removing to Fishbach in 1885 when the Pennsylvania Company purchased the site of their  plant for warehouse and yard purposes.

 

 

Pott & Vastine were other large machinery builders located on Coal Street near  the present Washington Street  bridge.

 

The old Snyder Foundry at Coal and East Arch Streets, and the Wrenn Brothers iron  works on Coal Street, and several other smaller machine works located on the same  street, conducted successful works for years, doing the work for individual operators,  and when the Philadelphia & Reading Company came into the coal field purchasing the  properties of the individual operators, it became necessary for them to acquire their  own repair and machine shops, hence most of the above shops sold out to this company,  and they at the present time represent the largest industry  Pottsville possesses.

 

In the coal mining section of this little history, no mention was made of the  absorption of the individual coal operations in the county.  This came about principally through the Philadelphia &  Reading Company owning the railroads throughout the county.  The individuals were  compelled to ship their product over the lines, and if an operator violated in any way  the injunctions laid upon them by the railroad company, they usually found a shortage  of cars when they most desired them, hence, they found themselves at the mercy of the  railroad corporation. If the company notified them that only three days each week would  be worked, woe betide the individual who would attempt to work a greater number of  days, for to them would be doled out such a shortage of cars that they would be  eventually compelled to lose more than three days in the first place designated.

 

The order of the day became “no competition,” and as the railroad carrying  company was eagerly buying up the coal companies throughout the county, it was foreseen  that in a short time they would possess all of the valuable properties, and this proved  to be the outcome.

 

Franklin B. Gowen, the President of the Philadelphia & Reading Company, was a man  of great foresight.  He saw what the future had in store for this company, and therefore purchased all of the coal lands that the company could  handle, but he was fifty years in advance of his time.  They termed him a wild  speculator, but his judgment has proven to be the means of accumulating vast wealth  for this great mining industry.

 

The Tilt Silk Mill is another of Pottsville’s greatest industries, and the  product from this great industry finds its way into the markets of the entire world.

 

There are hosiery mills, garment mills, clothing factories, hat factories, shoe  factories, meat packing houses, lumber mills, the tress for which are found in some  sections of our county, whilst the farm products are of the best to be found anywhere  in the world, the average Schuylkill Countian taking pride in the latest method of  handling fruit, until the day is not far distant when their fruit will be of the first  quality.

 

POTTSVILLE PLACES OF WORSHIP

 

The churches of the new city of Pottsville are amongst the finest in the land.   Its proportion of membership ranks high, the various denominations being:

The First Methodist Episcopal Church; 

St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church

First Presbyterian Church

Second Presbyterian Church

St. John the Baptist German Catholic Church’

The English Evangelical Lutheran Church

The Trinity Lutheran Church

Zion’s Evangelical Church

United Evangelical Church

Trinity Episcopal Church

Chapel of the Resurrection

 Chas. Barber Cemetery        St. Paul’s Chapel, Mechanicsville

St. Luke’s Chapel, Fishbach

First German Reformed Church

Trinity Reformed Church

St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church

Welsh Congregational Church

First Baptist Church

Jewish Church

First Church of Christ (Scientist)

 

NEW POTTSVILLE CITY GOVERNMENT

 

In the Centennial year, 1911, the new form of government for Pottsville will become operative, at which time the city form will be adopted, the citizens having  voted for city charter, which passed successfully in November, 1910.  This will mean an entire new Common and Select  council, Mayor, Treasurer, etc.

 

The public schools of the city are considered of the best; pupils leaving here  find success in whatever calling they may pursue, many of the former pupils now holding  the most responsible positions to be found anywhere in the world.

 

The County Court House and The County Prison are both model institutions,  conducted in a most satisfactory manner and with credit to the county, in no matter  what form of politics they may have risen from.

 

The railroad facilities of the city are excellent, the Philadelphia & Reading,  the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Lehigh Valley entering the city.

 

The Pennsylvania & Reading line runs through from Philadelphia to Williamsport,  and is one of the principal railroad divisions of the country, fifty trains arriving  and departing from Pottsville daily.

 

The coal sent through this section leads the world, and there is no doubt but  that the region’s product of coal furnishes light and heat to a large proportion of the  inhabitants of the globe, for during one of the coal region strikes, great distress was the result, not only in our own country, but that of foreign countries.

 

The Pennsylvania Railroad entered the Schuylkill region in 1885, and is the main  line of the Philadelphia & Erie branch, having trains arriving and departing to the  number of thirty daily.  This company likewise has a large coal carrying business,  having large coal interests in this and adjoining counties, the product of which passes  through the city of Pottsville en route to the ends of the earth.

 

Pottsville honored its soldier dead and living by erecting a beautiful granite  Soldier’s Monument, which is located on the public square on Market Street, between  Fourth Street and Sixth Street.  The figures in relief upon the same represent an  infantryman, and artilleryman, a cavalryman and a sailor, with the figure of a statue  of Liberty, wreath in hand with which to crown the victors.  It is a fine work of art,  and is in commemoration of the 13,000 soldier dead or living furnished by the county of  Schuylkill during the Civil War.

 

FINANCES OF POTTSVILLE

 The banks of Pottsville are substantial institutions of finance, and are conducted by  the city’s most able, conscientious and respected gentlemen. ( end of  page 70 )

 The Safe Deposit Bank, The Miner’s National Bank, The Pennsylvania National Bank, The  Merchants National Bank, The Schuylkill Trust Company and The Union Safe Deposit Banks  are all institutions that safely guard the deposits of our residents, amounting into  the millions of dollars.

 

IMMENSE ROLLING MILLS

 

Pottsville is favored with an iron industrial plant that is considered one of  great importance to the iron trade.  It is not one of the largest in the world, but it  ranks high in that line, and is a source of great benefit to the thousand workmen  residing in that city.

 

The old Snyder & Haywood machine shops had furnished the material for the Pioneer  Furnaces lying on an island south of Pottsville, a plant in which Anthracite coal was  first experimented with as fuel for making pig iron.  These furnaces proved to the  world that Anthracite was a valuable commercial product for the manufacture of pig  iron.  In 1853, the old Pottsville Rolling Mills, located at Fishbach, were having  financial difficulties, and when the mills passed through, the hands of Sheriff   Charles M. Atkins purchased the same, the former owners having been Edward Yardley and John Burnish, trading as  Yardley & Co.

 

Mr. Atkins was associated with his brother, Hanson Atkins, and after purchasing  the plant, enlarged the same, and likewise purchased the Pioneer Furnaces and enlarged  them also.  They found it convenient to use Anthracite coal, and therefore operated a  colliery for that purpose at Gilberton.  These three plants made wonderful progress for  some years, becoming advance industries of their kind in the country.

 

In 1865, when the war for the preservation of the Union was at its point of  termination, both the Pioneer Furnaces and the Pottsville Rolling Mills were greatly  enlarged and improved.  Later the name of the company became that of the Pottsville  Iron and Steel Company, with Charles M. Atkins as the president, and  the company  continued along the lines of successful operation.  In 1872 they were again enlarged,  keeping abreast of the time.  However, some years later, depression in the iron  industry caused several years idleness, and after a series of legal complications, the  mills at Fishbach passed into the hands of the present owners, the Eastern Steel  Company.  The works were very greatly enlarged and the latest methods adopted for the manufacture of iron and steel  products.  Today it is a great industrial plant, one of the first plants in the city of  Pottsville, employing as it does a thousand or more employees who assist in giving  Pottsville much of its prosperity.  Some of the product is used in the greatest of  world improvements, such as the great subway lines of New York, the structural iron and  steel necessary for the erection of the famous United States “Dreadnoughts” being built  by the Navy of our country, and likewise structural work for vast railroad operations  in this and foreign countries.

 

POTTSVILLE’S BIG MACHINE WORKS

 

In 1834, when the demands for mining machinery became very pronounced in this  section of the county, George W. Snyder and Benjamin Haywood, two of the town’s most  enterprising men, opened a machine shop, moulding shop, blacksmith shop and car shop  combined.

 

This shop became a prominent institution, and extremely convenient, being the  fourth of its kind in the entire United States, the other three being as follows: Rush  & Muhlenberg Works at Bushkill, Phila.; Fort Pitt Foundry, Pittsburg, and the third at East Boston, Mass.

 

 There was a great demand for the product from the new machine shop and the  incorporators were constantly employed upon some new engine, or other mining machinery,  therefore, it was but natural for the Philadelphia & Reading Coal and Iron Company to  endeavor to procure them for their own when they had entered the field of coal mining,  and having bought the interests of many individual operators in the county, found it  necessary to own their own shops, so in 1882 they purchased the shops from Messrs.  Snyder and Haywood, and they today form part of that great institution known as the  Pottsville shops of the Philadelphia & Reading Coal and Iron Company, in which the  great engines, pumps, tanks &etc., are manufactured for the use of the many collieries  of this company scattered throughout the region.

 

A large storehouse is also found on Coal Street where duplicate parts of most of  the machinery is to be found in readiness to fill an emergency order in case of a break  in the machinery at any of the mines.

 

A thousand or more workmen are employed at the various shops of this company  located on Coal Street, which is supplied with its own electricity generated at the rear of the old  Snyder & Haywood foundry, corner Coal and East Minersville streets.  This plant  supplies all the offices with light besides the various shops, which is a great  convenience to workmen employed at night upon intricate machine work.  The company is  equipped to manufacture its own bolts and nuts, a new department having been added  within the past year for this purpose on Coal and East Norwegian.

 

A compressed air plant is also used to advantage in the boiler and machine  departments.

Taken altogether these shops are a great aid to the company in all its various branches  of work, and is without doubt the largest of its kind in this section of the country.

 

POTTSVILLE IN BRIEF

 

Its salubrious climate is admitted by physicians as being beneficial to many  inhabitants, situated as it is at a considerable height above the sea.  This fact is  demonstrated by the many residents who have reached a long span of years.

 

Its eldest resident is Anthony Redelberger, who celebrated his centenary this  year and gives promise of more years to come.  It has several nonogenarians, many octogenarians, and  many others who come within a few years of reaching the latter term of years.

 

Its railroad facilities are such as to carry a passenger to Philadelphia in  slightly more than two hours, a distance of 94 miles.

 

Its churches are commodious, the pulpits being filled with learned theologians,  whilst music of the highest order intersperse the services.

 

Its merchants are men above the average, with stores equal to those of  metropolitan cities, the Dives, Pomeroy & Stewart Department Store holding the honor of  being the largest and most popular store in the city.

 

Its streets are paved with chemically treated wood block for eight squares,  running from Union Street on the south to Harrison Street on the north; West Norwegian  and West Market for several squares being paved with brick; Railroad and all other  streets for eight squares mentioned above, running east from Centre to Railroad being  paved with Belgian blocks, whilst the other  streets of the city are macadamized,  making motoring or driving a delightful recreation.

 

Its hills are picturesque, and from their summits give a view of beauty rarely found within a city’s limits.

 

Its musicians and musical organizations are capable of rendering either in vocal  or instrumental music, the most difficult works of music ever written.  The Third  Brigade Band being an organization of National reputation, whilst the recent production  of Handel’s “Samson,” in the Methodist Church, was faultlessly rendered by a chorus of  nearly 125, with a large orchestra accompaniment.  The  Pottsville Symphony Orchestra  renders classical music.

 

Its homes are well constructed, roomy, commodious, and of superb architectural  design, the homes of workingmen being far above the average city home.

 

Its water, whilst not filtered, is the purest that nature can produce, clear as  crystal, pure and wholesome, and in quantities much in excess of the city’s  requirements.

 

Its homes are heated with Anthracite coal burning methods, furnaces, steam  heating and hot water appliances, whilst, the central portion of the city is supplied  with steam heat from a corporation.

 

Its streets and home are lighted by gas and electric light, from the best known  methods, and in sufficient quantity to give entire satisfaction, the same being furnished by the  public corporations.  

 

Its farming products are brought to the city fresh from mother earth in large  quantities almost daily from nearby rural districts.

 

Its fruits are largely produced near its door, and the quantity and quality is  steadily improving.

 

Its health-producing qualities are admitted by physicians and not many years will  pass by, ere Fresh Air Sanatoriums will look down upon the city from the lofty summits  within its domain.

 

Its future prospects of becoming a city of 60,000 is admittedly bright, and  the project can be carried out by annexing the suburban towns and villages.

 

Its Henry Clay monument on South Second Street is in Memory of that famous  statesman who was greatly admired by Pottsvillians, and some future day will see the  much looked for public park that was originally intended for this location.

 

Its people are principally native born, frugal, peace-loving citizens, but when  necessary, they always respond to the call for help.  They are descended from sturdy  German stock, principally.

 

Its schools are sending forth throughout the world, men and women who become leaders in every chosen profession.

 

Its borough government has been conservative and well managed, and the new city  government  is expected to be likewise.

 

Its hotels are high class, and conducted by able and most honorable business men,  and the future will find them prepared for every emergency.

 

It’s a city, first and last and all the time, ready with open arms to welcome the  stranger within its gates.

 

 

SHENANDOAH

 

Shenandoah, the metropolis of Schuylkill County, lacks the beauty of the county  seat.  The facilities for railroad traffic, being on a branch road of the Philadelphia  & Reading, likewise the Pennsylvania, is good, but may be improved.  The Lehigh Valley  also runs through the town.  Its principal industries are the mining of coal, and  Manufacturing of garments, &c.  It has been said that the nationalities of the town  represent twenty different languages, and the cosmopolitan manner of living is one of  its most prominent features.

 

Whilst the business houses have greatly improved the past few years, the inhabitants are crowded for lack of building space,  due to the surrounding property being under the control of the coal corporations, who  find it  inconvenient for them to lease much of the land, for when once leased, it is a  difficult matter to terminate the lease in case of a necessity to remove the coal  beneath the homes erected upon the ground, and when damage to property occurs, the  homeowner resorts to the Courts to compel the corporations to indemnify him for the  damage to his property.  Thus, land is becoming more scarce for building purposes  yearly, and the future is a serious problem for the town authorities to face.

 

It possesses churches of every description, substantial banking institutions, and  an excellent public school system.  It has been stated by public school teachers that  the foreign children, though difficult to instill into them a good foundation, are apt  pupils when once started, and in many cases carry the honors away from the native born  children.

 

It owns its own water supply, but for several years past it has been inadequate  for the purpose, the rapid growth of the town being such as to cause a water shortage  in case of drought during summer.  This has occurred two years in succession.

 

The Schuylkill Traction Company runs through the town , and connects with  Girardville and Ashland on the west, and Mahanoy City on the east.

 

It has several musical organizations, but since the disbanding of the famous  Grant Band, it has not reached the highest musical standard such as the above  organization has maintained.

 

In the year 1883, a serious conflagration swept over the town rendering many  homeless, and destroying the principal business section of the town.  It was not long,  however, before the town had been built on a grander and larger scale than ever before.   Today it is well established, and with its paved streets, excellent fire department,  and everything necessary for protection to life and limb, it has a most decidedly  bright future before it.

 

MAHANOY CITY

 

This town is located upon the main line of the Williamsport division of the  Philadelphia & Reading Railroad, and has excellent service on the Lehigh Valley  Railroad, but the Pennsylvania Railroad does not enter the town proper, taking passengers, however, within a mile of  town.

 

It was first settled in 1859, but  incorporated into a borough in 1863.  It is  very prosperous, its industries being the mining of coal, several iron industries and  machine works, garment factories, &c., and has perhaps the longest stretch of paved  street in any town in the county.  It lies in a valley with coal mines lined up along  the hillsides. The town suffers greatly from the lack of building space owing to these  operations, the corporations being unwilling to lease the land for building purposes  owing to commercial reasons.

 

Its fire department is one of the best in the county, its water supply for  superior to that of Shenandoah.

 

It is located on the line of the Schuylkill Traction Company lines.

 

Many of the citizens that now reside there had served during the Civil War from  other towns.

 

It has several substantial banks, excellent public schools, churches of many and  various denominations owing to its population being composed of many nations in a  similar degree to that of Shenandoah.

 

ASHLAND AND GIRARDVILLE

 

Ashland, the little town that starts at the foot of a hill and in one broad sweep  takes up a thoroughfare that is on a steady, but easy incline, shows that principal  street off to a great advantage with its paving of good brick.  The town has sturdy  business people, good churches and schools, and is located on the main line of the  Philadelphia & Reading Railroad, on the Williamsport division, also having the Lehigh  Valley Railroad running through the town.  The Schuylkill Traction Company has its  headquarters here, and is the extreme western end of that road, but is connected with  the towns farther west by excellent trolley line service.

 

Girardville, the town named after Stephen Griard, was incorporated in 1872, and  the wealth of this famous Philadelphian was greatly augmented by his interests here.   The headquarters of the Girard Estate is located here, and all of the wealth that has  been taken from the earth for this estate has found its way into the pocket of the City  of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia.

 

It is rather a misfortune for the county that some of this wealth was not allowed  to remain here and used to advantage for the up building of the town and county.

 

The great Girard College, of Philadelphia, which has been maintained by this  estate, however, has done much toward educating the orphan children of the mining  region, many of the parents of whom have lost their lives in the hazardous calling of  miner.  Some of the boys educated in the College have been a credit to the county as  well as to their surviving relatives, many of them having gained wide knowledge which  in after years gave them superior advantage over their fellow playmates or school  mates.

 

If some of the vast wealth of the Girard Estate was utilized to reward acts of  heroism in the mines, there is no doubt but that much money would be used up in placing  these rewards, for there is no place in the world where more acts of heroism is  displayed than the hundreds and thousands of  feet beneath the surface where the toiler  sees no daylight from his entrance into the slope or shaft until his return to the  surface again.  Their acts are never, or rarely ever, brought to the attention of the  masses, yet they are being accomplished daily, and frequently the hero loses his life,  and the children and widow are soon forgotten.

 

MAHANOY PLANE and GILBERTON

 

These two little towns lie in the valley, Gilberton adjoining Mahanoy Plane on the  east, both being on the main line of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad between  Mahanoy City and Ashland.  They are both desolate looking little towns, due to the  great culm banks as the result of removing the coal and dirt from the earth and  depositing the waste material on the hills and valleys.  Stephen Girard drove the first  tunnel at Mahanoy Plane, and the wealth extracted from the earth since that time has  been almost beyond computation.

 

The great inclined planes owned by the Philadelphia & Reading Company are located  here, and with huge stationary engines located at Frackville, on the summit of the  hill, the cars are hoisted upon the one track filled with coal from the Mahanoy Valley  and empty cars lowered on the other track into the valley to be distributed amongst the  collieries that exist in the valley.  A double set of engines, and double tracks are  now being installed.

 

This means of hoisting the coal up the incline, allows an easy decent to  Pottsville, and thence to Philadelphia.

 

FRACKVILLE

 

This little town is one of the cleanest, most prosperous towns in the county.  The  miners from the Mahanoy Valley who have no desire to live amongst the culm and dirt  banks, chose this as their place of residence in preference to some point near the  colliery.

 

The town is one of the highest points in the county, yet with this evident fact,  during two seasons of unusual drought, artesian wells have supplied more water than the  various towns throughout that section could carry away from the town in tank cars for  that purpose.  It has a never-failing stream of water beneath its surface.

 

Its citizens are progressive, and the past two years have seen many changes in  the carrying on of the affairs of the borough.  A band was established within recent  years that is becoming a prominent institution.

 

SAINT CLAIR

 

This town became a borough in 1850, but there had been many residents here many  years prior thereto.

 

It is located on the branch line of the Philadelphia & Reading Railway and the  main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.

 

For many years the mining of coal has gone along in the usual manner of coal  mining localities.  It has good public schools, churches, and stores, and within the  past few years has installed a system of sewage that has supplied a long felt want.

 

At the present time the Philadelphia & Reading Railway Company are improving  storage yards in this borough and adjoining township lands that will cost over a  million dollars.  New bridges have been erected to span the railroad, and at Mill  Creek, the creek bed has been changed in order to permit of more trackage room for the  storage of coal, the erecting of railroad car shops, and other improvements to be made  making this little town one of great importance to the coal industry.

 

A new weigh scale building has been erected containing offices, &c., in order to  facilitate the work of weighing the coal coming down from Frackville.  At this point  the cars will be sorted out and the trains made up for the long run to the Atlantic  coast and other shipping points.

 

The town is very prosperous at the present time.  There are other factories in the town, but the pioneer industry of the town is that of  making miners’ squibs for the blasting necessary in the mines.  It is the home of the  “Safety Squib,” a necessary article to every miner for blasting purposes.

 

It is also connected with Pottsville by the Eastern Pennsylvania Railways  Company, a trolly company that maintains an excellent schedule to and from the county  seat.

 

PORT CARBON

 

This is another little town along the aforementioned trolley line, and is  virtually a continuation of Pottsville, between which there are close social and  business connections.  The Philadelphia & Reading Company runs through the town.  It  has the proud distinction of being settled almost simultaneously with Pottsville, as  furnaces were built there, and also saw mills erected in the early days in order to be  at the head of the Schuylkill Navigation company Canal.

 

A story published years ago to the effect that when Abraham Pott had received the  grant of land in which the town now stands, he erected a few scattered homes.  After a time other homes were erected but they were  practically in a forest.  The little town grew in several directions, and one night the  citizens met around the cannon stove in the store and decided upon some action whereby  the citizens could improve the town.  The first thought was to cut down the timber and  leave an open space for the citizens to view each other’s homes.  Words were suited to  action, and before much time was lost, trees were felled right and left.  Some owners  objected to this high-handed method, and the entire town was routed out one day and  taken before Court at Orwigsburg in hay wagons, log teams, &c.

 

The case was called, but before the proceedings went very far, all were  discharged, with not penalty attached.  The citizens decided it was a great day’s  sport.

 

SCHUYLKILL HAVEN

 

This is the town which last derived any benefit from the old canal, above Port  Clinton.  It is the home of the oldest boatmen in this section of the state.  In recent  years it has made wonderful strides.  Its homes are neat, its business places attractive, and its streets, paved with brick, are much admired.  It also has a bank. Churches are well kept and the population of the town is considered above the average  in intelligence.

It is located on the main line of the Philadelphia & Reading, is the terminus of the  Mine Hill branch of this road which is of historic associations; is on the main line of  the Pennsylvania Railroad, and also the Lehigh Valley.

 

Just beyond the borough line in North Manheim Township is the Schuylkill County  Almshouse, which is at present undergoing the erection of new hospital buildings. Besides its many railroad affiliations, it has many little hosiery and garment mills  that are substantial institutions, and the owners are frugal and industrious. It is the home of the late Senator Samuel Randall, of National fame.

 

CRESSONA

 

 This little town has a unique history, having been the distributing centre for the coal  that came down from the famous Gordon Planes also owned by the Philadelphia & Reading  Company, and used in the handling of coal from the point mentioned to that of Cressona,  where it left the Mine Hill Division to connect with the main line of the railroad to  Philadelphia.

 

It has good churches and schools, and of recent years has wonderfully improved in  appearance by the improving of the old homes and building of new ones.

 

ORWIGSBURG

 

The oldest town in the county has advanced but little in the matter of  population, but what it lacks in quantity, it surpasses in quality, for it can truly be  said that Orwigsburg is the parent of the county’s most prominent and prosperous  citizens.  The original stock of inhabitants were German of the most sturdy, honest ,  law-abiding, God-fearing folk, and one of the first things after settling in that  section was to build churches.  A few years ago the famous “Red Church” celebrated its  centenary, the services being attended by so great a gathering that the edifice failed  to hold the audience, hence it was necessary for many to participate in the service  whilst remaining on the outside.

 

Financially, the town possesses the honor of having the highest per capita amount of  wealth, owing principally to its many small industries which have become wealth  producers for the owners, and the products of the same are worn throughout the country.   Shoe factories and knitting mills are the town’s most important industries.

 

It has never been able to induce but one railroad to pass through its boundary  and the service on that road is insufficient to be considered a railroad for the  general convenience of the traveling public, i.e., the Lehigh Valley.

 

AUBURN and PORT CLINTON

 

The former town has lately added the electric light to its other conveniences,  hence it is deriving much pleasure from the new method of lighting, and forms an  excellent improvement.  It is on the main line of the Philadelphia & Reading, and the  Schuylkill & Susquehanna line runs through to Harrisburg from this point.

 

Port Clinton still sends coal down via canal boats, this being the last town in  the county to make use of the canal, but there are other towns that would pay a large  sum for the same advantage, for a movement is on foot to again open up the canal so as  to be a competition against the high freight rates on the railroads.

 

MINERSVILLE

 

This town is the fifth in size and importance in the county, and at the rapid  manner of its growth  it will soon pass some of the other towns in the forward movement.  It is being made to centre of an aggressive mining campaign in which  new openings are frequently being made.  Experienced operators from other regions are  learning the value of the coal underlying that section of the county and are profiting  thereby.

 

The town has improved wonderfully the past few years, its stores are well kept,  its streets well lighted, and with paved streets being added yearly, it will not be  many years before it will take a place of prominence in the coal region.

 

Its schools and churches are of the best.  The Philadelphia & Reading Company  pass through the town on the Mine Hill Division, and the Lehigh Valley runs into the  town, but the town is handicapped in a way owing to the fact that for the short ride to  Pottsville, a fare of ten cents is maintained on the trolley system.

 

HECKSCHERVILLE VALLEY

 

This valley is one rich in minerals, and with each succeeding year more  operations are opening up, so that the thought of coal veins being worked out in a few  years, scientific mining methods have discovered greater veins than were ever known in the past, and better methods adopted in the working of the same.

 

The Philadelphia & Reading Company own most of these operations and are doing the work  systematically.

 

SCHUYLKILL VALLEY

 

This section of the county was the first to send its coal products to the ports  near Philadelphia, and many mines were worked to a successful issue, but of later  years, the Philadelphia & Reading company have failed to take advantage of the vast  bodies of coal remaining untouched, and a rival company came into the field.  Up to the  present, nothing of importance has been done, but in no distant date in all probability  the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad will enter the field and take some of old  Schuylkill’s wealth to its own banking institutions.

 

Middleport, New Philadelphia, Cumbola, likewise the entire valley will some day  be a very important mining centre.

 

TOWER CITY

 

This town was named after a recent Ambassador to Germany, Charlemagne Tower.  It  is located in the region from which some of the finest red ash coal in the world is  mined.  It is connected with the county seat by the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad,  and the inhabitants mostly trade at this point.

 

PINEGROVE

 

 This is one of the oldest towns in the county, having been a military post sometime in  the later part of the 1790’s.  It is also on the Philadelphia & Reading  Company lines  between Auburn and Harrisburg.  It  is a neat town, with modern improvements, and its  inhabitants are thrifty, and trustworthy.

 

A BIT OF HISTORY

 

Dives, Pomeroy & Stewart’s entrance into the mercantile life of Pottsville dates back  just twenty-five years, to 1886, when they purchased the business of Jacob Miehle, 5  and 7 North Centre Street, and made C. George Miller Manager.

The advanced methods of merchandising and the liberal store policy and spirit of  aggressiveness of the newcomers and its manager, soon won the favor of the Schuylkill  Countians.

 

After six years of new and better store service, the business reached such  proportions that it compelled the growing firm to reach out for larger quarters, so the  R.R. Morris building was purchased, this being the largest building in Pottsville  devoted to department store use.  Since this purchase many improvements have been made,  in keeping with the progress of trade and the growth of the city’s interests.

 

Dives, Pomeroy & Stewart first established themselves in business in Reading, Pa., in 1876.  Their other stores are located in  Harrisburg and Pottstown, and they also hold a partnership interest in the Wm. F. Gable  & Co. store at Altoona, Pa.

 

Through their connection with the Syndicate Trading  Co. of New York, with  foreign offices in Paris, France; Manchester, England; Chemintz, Germany; and St. Gall,  Switzerland, they enjoy every facility for getting European goods direct from  manufacturers economically for their chain of stores.

 

The New York office maintains a staff of capable buyers who attend to the  importation of goods for the twelve stores composing the Syndicate Trading Co. and as  well keep in close touch with the markets of domestic made products.

 

Josiah Dives, the senior member of the firm of Dives, Pomeroy & Stewart, is of  English parentage and was born in Canterbury, England, in 1851.  He was educated in the  public schools and also at Cross Academy.  The death of his father when he was only  thirteen years old, was a turning point in his life.  After a few years he went to  London and was employed in the well-known mercantile house of Debenham & Freebody.  In  1872 Mr. Dives met Mr. J.M. Thomson of Brown,  Thomson & Co., Hartford, Conn., who prevailed upon him to come to America.  He remained  with this firm until 1876, when he decided to go into business with George S. Pomeroy  and John Stewart.  They located in Reading at 533 Penn Street, which soon proved too  small for their rapidly growing business.  Today they occupy the best site and largest  store in the City of Reading, also of Harrisburg, Altoona, Pottsville and Pottstown.   Mr. Dives has a handsome city home on Hill Road, Reading, opposite the park, which he  occupies in the winter with his wife and family and in the summer he spends much of his  time at his beautiful and attractive county home called “Folley Farm,” about three  miles from Reading.

 

George Strickland Pomeroy, the youngest member of the firm of Dives, Pomeroy &  Stewart, was born in Hartford, Conn., July 10, 1853.  His family antecedents were  Colonial and Continental; he was the son of Joseph and Mary Wadsworth Pomeroy.  He  illustrates in his life the highest qualites of a self-made man, is public spirited and  very charitable.  He inherits his mercantile tastes from his father and grandfather,  who were successful merchants.  Mr. Pomeroy formerly resided part  of the year in his  city home, but about ten years ago he enlarged and beautified his country residence at Wernersville, Pa., known  as “Glen Tilt,” where he now resides with his family.

 

John Stewart, the deceased member of the firm, passed away in November, 1885; he  was a gentleman of Scotch birth and was much beloved by  his partners and many friends.

 

C. George Miller, manager of Dives, Pomeroy & Stewart’s Pottsville store, was  born in Lebanon county in 1853.  At the age of 16 he moved to Pottsville and entered  the employ of Samuel Morris, 218 North Centre Street.  A short time later Mr. Miller  became one of Mr. R.R. Morris’s clerks, remaining in his service ten years, at the  corner of Centre and Mahantongo Streets, where the Dives, Pomeroy & Stewart store is  now located.  Mr. Miller’s deep interest in his work and his progressive spirit made  him want to reach out further, as he entered a broader field by connecting himself with  his present employers’ store at Reading, Pa.  After two years of service he returned to  Pottsville in 1882 and engaged in the dry goods business in the property adjoining the  main building of the Pottsville Republican.  Before many months a prosperous business  made it necessary to remove to larger quarters as Second and Market streets, and the business cares reached such proportions that several  partners joined him in his growing business.  The partnership continued for several  years, until 1886, when Mr. Miller sold his interest in the business to his partners  and purchased for Dives, Pomeroy & Stewart the business of Jacob Miehle, 5 and 7 North  Centre Street, he becoming the general manager of the firm.  Mr. Miller is one of  Pottsville’s oldest merchants, having entered his forty-second year of mercantile life  in Pottsville, and he is held  in  high esteem by his friends and acquaintances in the  business and social circles of the city and county.  Mr. Miller is the owner of the  beautiful country residence of the late Senator Samuel Randall, in North Manheim  Township, where he resides the year round.

 

FINIS

At the close of this, the county of Schyulkill’s first centenary festivities, it  is but fitting to renew allegiance to her institutions, so that in a larger degree her  future success be measured; her prosperity be carefully guarded, her citizens keep  inviolate the sanctity of her laws;

 

That in the increase of her prosperity, a vigilant eye guard her every movement; That her laws be observed as a sacred duty, to so temper her steel that it may  withstand any strain;

 

That her citizens, at the close of another centenary, may look back with pride  tot he great good accomplished in all her affairs;

 

That a free, law-abiding, God-fearing people, in which love and respect  predominates, shall abide within her walls;

 

That her churches, her schools and her public institutions may have enjoyed the  fullest measure of prosperity;

 

That her commercial interests be built upon the highest pinnacle - even beyond  the height attained at the present time, and whilst we bid farewell to our many friends  and patrons, may we join the chorus of  “Schuylkill! Oh Dear Old Schuylkill! Nestling ‘neath hills so fair, When roving days are ended, I know a welcome waits me there.”

 

 

 

DIVES, POMEROY &  STEWART

Pottsville, Penna., 1911

 

 

EXTRACTS FROM A PAPER PREPARED FOR THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF SCHUYLKILL COUNTY BY BAIRD HALBERSTADT

 

The sketch presented on the opposite page was reduced from a lithographic  reproduction of a pen and ink sketch made in the summer of 1830 by an architect named  T.P. Ashwin, who had come to Pottsville to superintend the erection of a number of fine  residences.

 

Possessed of an artistic temperament and being a lover of Nature, Mr. Ashwin as  he rambled about was so much impressed with this view, that he, with pen and ink,  preserved  it for future generations.

 

The position he took was on the western side of the Pottsville Gap, about midway  between what is now Hotel Street and the road leading from Second Street, and to the  southwest of the Snyder Mansion, at corner of Centre and Morris streets.

 

To the right winding around the base of Sharp Mountain is seen the Schuylkill  Canal with the lock-tender and collector’s office.  In the foreground is Pioneer Island  with the forge built between 1797 and 1804, by Reese & Thomas. On the slope of Sharp  Mountain is seen the coal mine of Robert Barclough with its schute and plane.  In the  left foreground rises the roof of the residence now occupied by Miss Emma Pott, which  was built in 1829.

 

The building to the left at the breast of the dam across the Schuylkill River is  the grist mill of John Pott, erected in 1810.  (The site of the old mill is now  occupied by the Philips’ shirt factory on Mauch Chunk Street.)  Within a short distance  of this mill were the cabin in which the Neiman family were massacred by Indians in  August, 1780, and the ford of “the King’s Highway” constructed in 1770.

 

 On the hill to the left are seen the house and buildings ocupied by Robert and John  Young, who mined coal in the hollow to the east of the house and now as then known as  Young’s Landing.  The houses seen on the island in the foreground were occupied by the  men employed at the forge.  Coal was mined at the foot of the hill below the large  trees  near the present Mauch Chunk Street bridge as early as 1783.  In the distance  stretches away Salem Hill, terminating at Port Carbon.

 

It was at the Pottsville furnace built on Pioneer Island in 1838 by Messrs.  Marshall Kellogg & Company that William Lyman began his experiments in smelting iron  ore with anthracite coal.  Lyman received a prize of 5000 subscribed by some  influential citizens of Pennsylvania, and “to be presented to the individual who would,  within a specified time, succeed in smelting a certain amount of  iron ore with  Anthracite Coal, &c.”

 

By awarding the prize to Mr. Lyman the questions of where and by whom the first  successful attempt to smelt iron ore with hard coal was settled.

 

The house in the right foreground was remodeled by the late D.J. Ridgeway, Esq.,  and occupied by him for many years as a residence.  Its site is the present lawn on the  south side of the P.W. Sheafer home.  At the time ( 1830 ) the Philadelphia & Reading  R.R. had not yet been built.

 

The sites of the houses and the grounds occupied by the Youngs on the hill to the  left have been laid out with handsome broad avenues and are now (1911 ) occupied by  comfortable houses, cottages and bungalows.

 

Return to the Schuylkill Region Development Page

 

About The Hopkin Thomas Project

 

Rev. August 2010