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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
1860………………….. 8,513,123 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.”
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.
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.
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
Nearly every town in the county received part of the increase, the population of the principal towns given by the census of 1910 being:
Tamaqua………………………………………………………9,462 Minersville……………………………………………………7,240 Ashland……………………………………………………….6,855
Orwigsburg………………………………………………....1,801 Pinegrove……………………………………………………1,352 Cressona…………………………………………………….1,807 Gordon………………………………………………………1,185 Middleport……………………………………………….…1,100 Auburn………………………………………………………..921 Ringtown……………………………………………………..723
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.
“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
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rev. August 2010