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Full text of "Early History of Scranton and The First Presbyterian Church"

Reference Department 




Scranton Public library 
Scranton, PA 



ALBRIGHT 1/16/2009 
50686000805940 
Piatt, Frederick J. 
Early history of Scranton 
and the First Presbyteri 
an Church / 



COMPLIMENTS OP 



Frederick J. Platt 



PRESIDENT 
SCRANTON ELECTRIC CONSTRUCTION COMPANY SCRANTON, PA. 



EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 

AND THE 

FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH 



A TALK GIVEN BY 

FREDERICK J. PLATT 

At a Meeting of the Lackawanna Historical Society 
October 29, 1948 



CONTENTS 

Page 
Slocum Hollow 3 

Scranton Nearly Becoming Armstrong 5 

Scrantons Come to Slocum Hollow 6 

A Quaint Custom Upheld 6 

Scrantons and Grant Partnership Formed 7 

First Blast Furnace 8 

Chronological Table of Blast Furnaces 10 

Great Swamp, The 10 

Dr. Benjamin H. Throop 11 

Colonel George W. Scranton 13 

Shinplasters 14 

Marketing of Pig Iron 14 

North Mill Constructed 15 

Travel in 1846 15 

Organization of Scrantons & Piatt 16 

Joseph H. Scranton Looks for Investors 18 

Scrantons & Piatt Contract for Erie Railroad 18 

Legislature Saves Erie Railroad From Bankruptcy and 

Helps Finances of Scrantons & Piatt— 19 

Oxford Iron & Nail Company 20 

Leggitts Gap Railroad 23 

Delaware & Cobbs Railroad 23 

Lackawanna Iron & Coal Company Comes Into Being 25 

Organization of Scranton Steel Company 28 

Consolidation of Lackawanna Iron & Coal Company and 

The Scranton Steel Company 28 

First Electric Street Railway, The 30 

O. S. Johnson 31 

Establishing the Presbyterian Church 35 



I. 
EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 

I was asked to give this talk on the Early History of Scran- 
ton and the First Presbyterian Church, probably because I am 
the oldest descendant of any of the founders of Scranton. 

It has been the general opinion that the early settlers of 
Scranton came here because Anthracite coal was being mined 
in this section, but as a matter of fact, what they were also 
looking for was iron ore and limestone which they could use 
with Anthracite coal in making pig iron. 

SLOCUM HOLLOW 

In 1830 there was a small settlement called Slocum Hollow, 
which was located on the north side of Roaring Brook, just 
west of the concrete bridge crossing Roaring Brook over to 
what is now Cedar Avenue, below the present Laurel Line 
station. This settlement, consisted of a building called Slocum 
House, a sawmill, two small dwellings and a blacksmith shop. 
It was owned by Ebenezer Slocum and his brother Benjamin 
who came from Wyoming in 1798. 

Both of the Slocums died in 1832 and left their property 
to a nephew, who later sold it to William Merrifield. William 
Rickitson and Zeno Albro. 

Mr. J. J. Albright, who later was a very prominent citizen 
of Scranton, and in whose memory the Albright Public Library 
was built by his children, was born in Warwick, N. Y., near the 
center of the New Jersey iron ore deposits, on September 23, 
1811. When a young man he evidently went into the iron busi- 
ness, and in 1836 was asked, at the age of twenty-five years, to 
go to Slocum Hollow and give a report on the value of the 
coal and iron deposits which had been found there. He advised 



c\ 



4 EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 

his clients to invest, but on account of the financial condition 
at that time his advice was not taken, and the valley's potential- 
ities as an iron manufacturing center had to await the coming 
of the Scrantons. In later years, Mr. Albright said he "shook 
the tree but failed to gather the fruit." 

Previous to 1828 blast furnaces for making pig iron were 
provided with cool air at the surrounding temperature, and 
this cool air when blown into the furnace to make the proper 
draft naturally cooled the molten iron which was supposed to 
be at a temperature of 2700 degrees Fahrenheit. It was known 
that by using combustion air at atmospheric pressure only a 
relatively low flame temperature could be reached, but if the 
air could be heated, this temperature would be raised substan- 
tially. As molten pig iron runs about 2700 degrees F. the 
higher the combustion temperature the higher would be the 
efficiency of the furnace.. 

In 1828 a Scotchman in Glasgow developed a system of 
heating the air so as to use a hot blast instead of a cool blast. 
Mr. William Henry, a civil engineer, of Stroudsburg, hearing 
of this development leased a blast furnace in Oxford, N. J., and 
a year later, in 1831, experimented with the hot air blast 
referred to above. He found that the charcoal which was being 
used as fuel, burned out much more rapidly than with the 
cold air blast used originally, and therefore took a larger 
amount of charcoal. Charcoal was very scarce and its cost 
gradually rising, and knowing that Anthracite coal was being 
mined in Slocum Hollow, and that there was also iron and 
limestone in the hills nearby, he induced a Mr. William 
Armstrong of New York City to join him and purchase 503 
acres of land in Slocum Hollow, at $16. per acre, with the idea 
of using this Anthracite coal for fuel instead of charcoal. 
Mr. Henry ordered the deeds prepared and Mr. Armstrong left 
his summer home on the Hudson River, near Newburg, and 
started for Slocum Hollow with the money to pay for the 



EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 5 

property. On his way to the ferry his horse became frightened 
and Mr. Armstrong was thrown out and killed. This of course 
was a great blow to Mr. Henry who found that the Armstrong 
family did not care to complete the transaction. 

SCRANTON NEARLY BECOMING ARMSTRONG 

If Mr. Armstrong had not been killed he would have carried 
out his plan to build a large manufacturing plant here, and the 
town would no doubt have been called Armstrong, Pennsyl- 
vania, instead of Scranton. This shows how a simple thing like 
this can determine the future of a City. 

As I am President of the Advisory Board of the Geisinger 
Memorial Hospital at Danville, Pennsylvania, I am reminded 
of a similar incident which happened there. Mr. Geisinger, who 
left a considerable estate, died in Danville, and Mrs. Geisinger 
wanted to build something in memory of her husband. From 
time to time Mrs. Geisinger, who had the first automobile in 
Danville, had been in the habit of taking different Danville 
people up to the Bloomsburg hospital for treatment. One day 
she was driving along the street in her automobile and saw a 
Miss O'Brien and her father standing on the corner, waiting 
for a trolley car. Mrs. Geisinger asked her where she was going, 
and she said she was going up to the hospital in Bloomsburg to 
have an operation for appendicitis. Mrs. Geisinger took her up 
to the hospital, and on the way back to Danville she said to her 
chauffeur, "I think that Danville should have a hospital, and 
I am going to build one in Danville in memory of my 
husband." 

She immediately had plans prepared and built a hospital 
which has now grown to such an extent that about two and a 
half million dollars are invested there. We have raised the 
money and are about to let a contract for a new Clinic Building, 
costing $1,650,000.00. At the present time they have forty-six 



6 EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 

full time doctors in the hospital, and a daily census of about 200, 
and a waiting list for the past year of about 400. This is just 
another example of an apparently unimportant incident having 
a great influence on the future of a great number of people. 
If Mrs. Geisinger had not helped this woman to reach the 
Bloomsburg hospital, the money might have been given to some 
college, and the people of Danville and the surrounding 
country would not have had this fine hospital. 

Mrs. Geisinger was a devout Christian woman, and she had 
a clause inserted in her Trust to the effect that every meeting 
of the Advisory Board should be opened with a word of prayer. 

THE SCRANTONS COME TO SLOCUM HOLLOW 

After Mr. Armstrong's death Mr. Henry went to Oxford 
Furnace where he interested his son-in-law, Mr. Seldon T. 
Scranton, and Mr. George W. Scranton, his brother, who lived 
in Belvidere, N. J., both of whom were interested in an iron 
mill at Oxford Furnace, and these two Scrantons came on to 
Slocum Hollow and looked over the ground with Mr. Henry, 
and inspected the ore which they found south of Lake Scranton 
Dam, and the limestone which they found on the south moun- 
tain, and decided that they would join Mr. Henry and build a 
blast furnace there. 

A QUAINT CUSTOM UPHELD 

They therefore purchased 503 acres from Mr. Merrifield, 
Mr. Rickitson and Mr. Albro, for $8,000.00. This deed was 
signed in September, 1840. The wives of the men who sold the 
property had to sign the deed with their husbands, and it was 
the custom in Pennsylvania at that time that any wife who 
signed a deed with her husband for the transfer of property, 
was given a "dress pattern", or material for a dress, by the 
purchaser. These purchasers being from the state of New 



EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 7 

Jersey immediately objected, as they said they had never heard 
of such a custom. After considerable arguing over the matter, 
Colonel George W. Scranton finally agreed to purchase the 
"dress patterns" and give them to the wives. This price of 
about $16.00 per acre was considerably more than the United 
States paid when they purchased Alaska for 2^ an acre, Cali- 
fornia for 8^ an acre and Florida for 14^ an acre. 

THE SCRANTON & GRANT PARTNERSHIP FORMED 

Mr. George W. Scranton brought Mr. Philip Mattes, Mr. 
Simon Ward, Mr. William Manness, and Mr. Sanford Grant 
to Scranton from Belvidere, N. J. On the trip to Slocum 
Hollow they stopped one night at an inn where they saw a 
sign "MAN AND BEAST ENTERTAINED." They formed 
the original Company of Scrantons & Grant, consisting of 
George W. Scranton, Seldon T. Scranton, Sanford Grant, and 
Philip Mattes, with a capital of $20,000.00. 

Mr. Simon Ward, Mr. Simon R. Ward's and Mr. Ralph E. 
Ward's great grandfather, and Mr. William Manness, also 
came to Slocum Hollow with the Scranton. Mr. Manness was 
a contractor, and did most all of the building and construction 
work for the blast furnace and rolling mills. Mr. Manness 
was Mr. Charles F. Manness's grandfather. 

Mr. Sanford Grant was considered one of Belvidere's 
wealthiest citizens and invested considerable money in the 
original firm of Scrantons & Grant. Mr. George W. Scranton 
drove a team of horses in Belvidere when he was twelve years 
old, for which he received four dollars per week. Mr. George 
Scranton's father was a successful business man in Belvidere 
and helped in the financing of the partnership. 

In order to assure themselves of a supply of iron ore they 
purchased 3750 acres of land where the iron ore had been dis- 
covered, from the Bank of North America, for three dollars 
an acre, or $11,250.00 



8 EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 

Anthracite coal was available within three hundred yards 
of the proposed location of the blast furnace, and all they had 
to do was to open drifts in the coal seam in the side of the 
hill on the south side of Roaring Brook. 

THE FIRST BLAST FURNACE 
Failures and Success 

They started to build their first furnace at a point just 
below the present Laurel Line Station on Roaring Brook, on 
September 8, 1840. This furnace was eight feet in diameter 
by thirty-five feet high. Simon Ward cut the stone for the 
foundation and W. W. Manness built the furnace. 

The first blast was put on this furnace at 11 P. M., January 
3, 1842, and after many failures they were finally obliged to 
secure the services of a Mr. John F. Davis, of Danville, Pa., 
who had had considerable experience with blast furnaces in 
Danville. He was able to correct their mistakes and they were 
finally able to operate the furnace from the 23rd day of May 
tc the 25th of September, or eighteen weeks, without stopping, 
during which time they made about 374 tons of iron, or an 
average of about three tons per day. 

They had several discouraging experiences in trying to 
operate the first blast furnace, one of the first being the break- 
down of the blowing apparatus which provided the air draft. 
This caused the liquid iron in the furnace to cool rapidly and 
the boshes or openings in the furnace had to be removed, allow- 
ing the contents of the furnace to slide through. This was a 
great waste and delay and meant starting all over again. At 
other times other things happened; the material in the furnace 
hardened and they were obliged to clean out the furnace with 
sledge hammer and drills, which was a tremendous piece of work. 

The air blast used in the first furnace consisted of an air 
blower driven from a water wheel, with water supplied from 




BLAST FURNACES 



EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 9 

Roaring Brook, and in order to heat the air it was passed 
through a nest of iron pipes which were surrounded by a mass 
of burning Anthracite coal. 

Three failures in succession to commence with were enough 
to discourage the most sanguine, but these young pioneers had 
to succeed or financial ruin stared them in the face. After 
taking short naps in their straw bunks, built in the casting 
house, and having their meals brought to them, they went to 
work getting ready for another effort. 

The wages paid the men to build this blast furnace were as 
follows: carpenters 75^ per day, and they boarded themselves 
or paid the Company for their board ; common laborers were 
paid $17.00 per month, and the Company boarded the men for 
$1.50 per week, including twenty-one meals and doing their 
laundry. 

They found that the limestone which they had been using 
was of very poor quality and they finally secured some from 
Lime Ridge, south of Shickshinny, which was shipped up on 
boats by canal and river to Pittston, and from there it was 
hauled to the furnace by wagon. 

The Company soon found that the ore which they were 
using was of very poor quality, and actually contained only 
about 25% of iron, and it was necessary to secure some higher 
grade ore, which they obtained from Oxford, New Jersey, 
Bloomsburg, Danville and Lebanon, Pennsylvania. The ore 
from Oxford was very rich containing 70% iron. One often 
wonders why Mr. Henry did not have the ore which they dis- 
covered on the south mountain, analyzed by a chemist to see 
what percentage of iron it contained, but on inquiry I find that 
there were no chemical laboratories in existence that made a 
specialty of analyzing the percentage of iron in iron ore, as the 
first laboratory that made a specialty of this was not organized 
until 1860. 



10 



EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 



CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE 

The following data may be of interest to those who are in- 
terested in the chronological order of the starting of the 
different blast furnaces, puddling and rolling mills in Penn- 
sylvania : 



Name of Company 


First Furnace 
Started 


First Rolling 
Mill Started 


First Rails 
Rolled 


Montour Iron Co. 
Danville, Pa. 


1838 


1844 


Oct. 1, 1845 




Only 15-lb. rails for 
industrial use only 


Lehigh Coal & 
Navigation Co. 
Mauch Chunk, Pa... 


... July 1840 


October 1843 


None 


Scrantons & Piatt 


...January 2, 1842 


July 6, 1845 


Aug. 9, 1847 
60-lb. rails 



In the year 1840 there were only six blast furnaces in 
operation in the state of Pennsylvania. 

Mr. Henry was no doubt the pioneer in the movement to 
come to Slocum Hollow and start a blast furnace, and he did 
a great deal of preliminary work, but after the first furnace 
was in successful operation he left Slocum Hollow in the 
Spring of 1842 and turned over the operation to Colonel George 
W. Scranton. Mr. Henry went to Louisa Forge and followed 
the iron business for many years. 



THE GREAT SWAMP 

There are few, if any, who realize what a great swamp 
existed on Washington Avenue north of Spruce Street. The 
present Court House Square was practically the center of a 
bog, and the muck was so deep that Washington Avenue was 
impassable north of Spruce Street except in very dry weather, 



EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 11 

and it was very dangerous to walk on the muck, as one would 
sink in up to the waist almost immediately. 

Mr. Philip Mattes who came here with the two Scranton 
brothers and Sanford Grant, from Belvidere, invested money 
in the original Company, but never lived in Scranton. Later, 
when his son Charles was about eighteen years of age he sent 
him to Scranton to represent him. Later Mr. Charles Mattes 
married my grandfather's sister, and made himself very valua- 
ble in the management of the Coal & Iron Company. Mr. 
Charles Mattes was the grandfather of Mr. Philip Mattes, our 
County Solicitor. 

He was a man of great vigor and energy and the following 
anecdote of those early days is interesting. One day while 
passing along what is now Spruce Street, on the side of the 
swamp, he saw a young deer, browsing, and in his mighty 
effort to capture the animal he jumped and grabbed the deer 
by the tail. The deer immediately plunged into the muck 
taking Mr. Mattes with him and making for clear water. On 
account of the muck it was unsafe for Mr. Mattes to let go, 
for the footing in the muck was precarious. Mr. Mattes held 
on to the deer until he ran into the thicket, at which time the 
deer escaped, and Mr. Mattes found himself floundering in 
the muck with the skin of the deer's tail in his vise^-like grip. 

DR. BENJAMIN THROOP 

Dr. B. H. Throop came to this section in 1840, residing in 
Razorville, later called Providence, and as there was no doctor 
in the vicinity of the iron works, the Scranton Company 
persuaded him to move down and locate near the furnace so 
that he would be available to treat emergency cases at the 
furnace. At that time the settlement was called Harrison. 

Razorville, now Providence, was called Razorville because 
of the sharp Yankee practices s'hown in horse-trading. In this 
trading there were said to be "as sharp as a razor." 



12 EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 

There were two hotels in Razorville, one, the Cottrell 
House, where they charged six cents for a drink of liquor, 
six cents for lodging, such as it was, and twelve cents for a 
dinner, and everything else in proportion. 

There were eight distilleries located on the Lackawanna 
River between Razorville and Slocum Hollow all of them 
distilling liquor from the corn which the old settlers grew, and 
as there were no railroads to transport the corn to market, 
they found it more profitable to make the corn into corn- 
whiskey and ship the whiskey. At that time there were no 
taxes, and whiskey sold for eight cents a quart. Easton, 
Pennsylvania, was sixty-six miles from Scranton, and was 
the nearest market. With the poor roads the early settlers were 
not able to haul more than 1,500 pounds to a load, and by 
turning the corn into whiskey they had only to make one-third 
the number of trips that they would have had to make had 
they hauled the corn as it came from the stalk. 

Mr. Elmer Williams tells me that his father at the age of 
twelve drove a team of horses with a load of lumber from 
South Scranton to Easton taking three days for the round trip. 

Dr. Throop covered about fifty miles a day with a team of 
horses by wagon in the summer and by sleigh in the winter, 
calling on the sick and injured. At one time he was called to 
Bear Creek to treat a man in the woods who had frozen both 
his feet, and gangrene had set in. Dr. Throop drove to within 
two miles of the man's hut and due to the depth of the snow 
he was obliged to unharness one of his horses and ride bare- 
back to the cabin. He had no surgical instruments, no anes- 
thetics and no antiseptic bandages with him. He simply had 
a dull razor, and an ordinary wood saw, which he used to 
amputate both feet. He used an ordinary needle and cotton 
thread which he had in his pocket to sew up the wounds, and 
the man recovered. 






EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 13 

COLONEL GEORGE W. SCRANTON 

I cannot go into the history of all the early settlers but 
I feel I must mention the name of George W. Scranton who 
came from Belvidere, and who was brother of Selden T. 
Scranton, of Oxford Furnace. Colonel Hitchcock, writing of 
Colonel Scranton in his History of Scranton, states "As one 
looks back on the early history of Scranton he is amazed at 
the inflow of capital during these excessively hard times, into 
the coffers of the concern whose career, thus far, from a 
financial standpoint, had been a dismal failure. This is ac- 
counted for only by the faith of the subscribers in the pioneers 
of the enterprise, and particularly to the personal magnetism, 
character, and courage of Colonel George W. Scranton. He 
was one of those men who by nature are wonderfully endowed 
with the element of leadership. To this endowment was added 
a most winning gentleness of manner, a fine character, and a 
heroic spirit that inspired absolute faith in his word." 

Colonel Scranton must have had a fine physique, for they 
said he could use a sledge hammer better than any of the 
Company's men, and used this to such an extent in removing 
iron from the blast furnace that it affected his heart, and he 
died at the age of fifty. 

It is hard to realize that Colonel George W. Scranton was 
only twenty-nine years old, and Mr. Selden T. Scranton 
twenty-six, when they came to Slocum Hollow. 

In Dr. Throop's notes he states that Colonel Scranton came 
to his house early one morning in March, 1843, and informed 
him that he had no money to meet the $2,000.00 payroll, that 
he had just returned from Belvidere and could not get any, 
and that he never felt more discouraged in his life. Dr. 
Throop then offered to harness his horses and drive Colonel 
Scranton to Carbondale where he introduced him to a friend of 
his, a Mr. Knapp. No man was ever given better powers of 



14 EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 

persuasion, which was evidenced by the fact that Mr. Knapp 
advanced him $1,000.00. This was good luck as far as it went, 
but it was not enough. Dr. Throop then drove him over to 
Honesdale, where he succeeded in obtaining an additional 
$700.00. He was still $300.00 short. 

SHINPLASTERS 

When the Company did not have enough money to meet 
their payroll they issued what they called "shinplasters", a 
piece of paper, printed much like a bill, about two inches by 
five inches, and containing an order which the employee could 
use in purchasing supplies or food at the Company store. 
The shinplaster which I have is headed "Lackawanna Iron 
Works", "Pay to Bearer seventy-five cents worth of goods at 
the Company store," and signed in ink by Scrantons & Piatt, 
in my grandfather's handwriting. After the goods had been 
delivered to the employee my grandfather scratched out the 
name of Scranton & Piatt with pen and ink. 

MARKETING OF PIG IRON 

The only way to market at that time was to haul this pig 
iron by team to Carbondale, then over the Delaware & Hudson 
Railroad to Honesdale, then by canal to Rondout on the 
Hudson River and down to New York by boat. This method 
of transportation was too costly and prevented the Company 
from competing with other furnaces located nearer the market. 
In September, 1843, Joseph H. Scranton and his brother, 
Erastus C. Scranton, of Augusta, Georgia, who were together 
in the cotton business, and Mr. John Howland of New York, 
were taken into the Scrantons & Grant Company as special 
partners, and the capital was increased from $20,000.00 to 
$86,000.00. 



EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 15 

NORTH MILL CONSTRUCTED 

In May, 1844, the Company contracted with Mr. William 
Manness, grandfather of Mr. Charles F. Manness to furnish 
the labor, for $350.00, to build the first rolling mill on the 
site now occupied by the Laurel Line Power House. This was 
called the North Mill, and was 110 feet wide by 114 feet long, 
the Company agreeing to furnish all the material including 
timber standing in the forest. The following November they 
built a small nail factory, fifty by seventy-five feet. The first 
iron was puddled in April, and the first nails were made 
July 6, 1845. 

My great uncle, Mr. William H. Piatt, was superintendent 
of this North Mill and often took me through the mill to 
witness the manufacture of wrought iron bars and T iron 
rails. They also manufactured cut nails and shipped them in 
large quantities to different customers, but most of them were 
returned, as they were very hard and about every third nail 
would break when the hammer was applied to it. This attempt 
to manufacture nails was another loss which the Company was 
obliged to absorb. 

TRAVEL IN 1846 

Mr. Joseph H. Scranton, Mr. Worthington Scranton's 
grandfather, visited in Connecticut and interested his brother- 
in-law, (my grandfather) Mr. Joseph C. Piatt, who was then 
a successful merchant in Fairhaven, Connecticut, to come to 
Scranton in 1846 and join with them in this venture. There 
was an interesting side-light on this trip to Scranton in March, 
1846, when he brought his family to Scranton. There were 
no railroads from New Haven to New York, so they took a 
night boat from New Haven, and on their arrival in New York 
the next morning they found the streets of New York so full 
of snow that their carriage could hardly get to the Franklin 
Hotel at the corner of Broadway and Dey Streets. After 



16 EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 

breakfast it was found impossible to get a carriage to take 
them to the ferry at the foot of Cortland Street, consequently 
they had to walk and a hand cart took their luggage. They 
crossed the ferry and took the Camden and Amboy Railroad 
to Newark, and the Morris & Essex Railroad from Newark to 
Morristown. The locomotive on the Morris & Essex had only 
one pair of driving wheels. 

At the Summit station they found a novel plan for supply- 
ing the engine with water. A pair of wheels on a line of 
shafting was placed beneath the track, the upper side of them 
being in line and level with the top of the track. The shafting 
on which this pair of wheels was mounted was connected to a 
water pump. The locomotive was chained to the rails and 
ties, with the drivers of the locomotive resting on the wheels 
beneath the track. When the enginer turned the steam on the 
locomotive the driving wheels of the locomotive turned the 
wheels on the shafting below the track, thus pumping the 
water into the tender of the locomotive. 

At Morristown they took the stage to Oxford Furnace 
where they arrived that evening. Very heavy rains at Oxford 
Furnace delayed their leaving, so after spending about a week 
in Oxford Furnace they finally drove to Tannersville, where 
they spent the next night, and the next morning finding good 
sleighing they changed their vehicle to runners and finally 
arrived at Mr. Selden T. Scranton's house the night of March 
17th, thus taking three days from New York to Scranton. On 
the way to Scranton my grandfather obtained his first sight 
of the new telegraph lines from New York to Philadelphia. 

ORGANIZATION OF SCRANTONS & PLATT 

In April, 1846, Mr. San ford Grant retired from the Com- 
pany and my grandfather, Mr. Joseph C. Piatt, took his place. 
On November 7, 1846, the first firm of Scrantons & Piatt was 



THE ORIGINAL FOUNDERS OF SCRANTON 



»*V'« 




Joseph H. Scranton George Whitfield Scranton 




Ssldon T. Scranton 



Joseph Curtis Peatt 



EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 17 

duly organized, consisting of Mr. George W. Scranton, Mr. 
Joseph H. Scranton, Mr. Selden T. Scranton, and Mr. Joseph 
C. Piatt, as general partners. 

Three of the Scrantons in the firm of Scrantons & Piatt 
were born in Madison, Connecticut, and my grandfather, the 
fourth member of the firm, was born about ten miles from 
Madison. These three Scrantons and my grandmother, who 
was a sister of Joseph H. Scranton, were all about the same 
age, and grew up together in Madison, until they moved to 
Pennsylvania. My family have spent their summers at Madi- 
son for the past forty-three years, and I now bathe with my 
grandchildren on the beach and between the same two rocks 
where I bathed with my grandmother sixty-eight years ago. 

On November 11, 1846, William E. Dodge, Anson G. 
Phelps, Benjamin Loder, Samuel March, Henry Shelden, John 
I. Blair, James Blair, William B. Skidmore, James Stokes, 
Philip Dater, Daniel S. Miller, James A. Robinson, William 
H. Shelden and Frederick Griffing put in another $115,000. 
as special partners. Later Mr. Moses Taylor and Mr. Percy 
R. Pyne joined the Company. On October 2, 1847, some of 
the special partners added to their subscriptions, making the 
total capital $250,000.00. 

The name of Charles Fuller has often been mentioned both 
in connection with the manufacture of iron and also in the 
records of the First Presbyterian Church. Mr. Fuller was 
born in Montrose in 1797, started to work as a clerk in a 
Tunkhannock store in 1810 when he was thirteen years old. In 
1817 he worked in a drug store in Kingston, and in 1848 he 
came to Scranton and was engaged as a bookkeeper in the firm 
of Scrantons & Piatt. He finally left this position to go into 
the Fire Insurance business. Mr. Fuller was Edward L. 
Fuller's grandfather. 



18 EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 

JOSEPH H. SCRANTON LOOKS FOR INVESTORS 

Mr. Joseph H. Scranton was of great assistance in raising 
additional capital for the Company. During his residence in 
Georgia he made the acquaintance of Mr. Fay, of the firm of 
Paddeford & Fay, of Savannah, Georgia, formerly of Boston, 
Massachusetts. Mr. Fay became very much interested in the 
Iron Works here, and put Mr. Scranton in touch with New 
York and Boston capital, with the result that he was able to 
secure a considerable amount of additional money. 

Mr. Erastus C. Scranton was also born in Madison, Con- 
necticut, and went to Augusta, Georgia, where he was engaged 
in the cotton brokerage business with his brother Joseph H. 
Scranton. He also invested in the firm of Scrantons & Piatt 
but he never lived in Scranton. He resided in New Haven, 
Connecticut, and was President of the Second National Bank 
of New Haven, and also President of the New York, New 
Haven & Hartford Railroad Company. He was killed by a 
locomotive when he stepped off a New Haven train at the 
South Norwalk station. 

SCRANTONS & PLATT CONTRACT FOR ERIE 
RAILROAD RAILS 

About this time the Erie Railroad had been built only as 
far as Port Jervis, and the State of New York had advanced 
them large sums of money to be used in building the railroad 
toward the west, but they were threatened with bankruptcy 
for want of further funds. The Legislature of New York 
offered to release their claim on three million dollars which the 
State of New York had loaned the Erie Railroad Company, 
provided the Railroad Company would complete the road as 
far as Binghamton in two years. 

Up to that time the Erie Railroad had been obliged to pur- 
chase rails in England and to pay $80.00 per ton plus the 



EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 19 

freight across the ocean, and wait a long time for delivery. 
The firm of Scrantons & Piatt was offered a contract for 12,000 
tons of sixty-pound T iron rails, at $80.00 per ton, or $960,000. 
provided they would deliver these rails to the Erie Railroad 
Company's right of way within eighteen months after receipt 
of the order, so that the Erie R. R. Company could lay the 
rails in time to complete the extension to Binghamton in the 
specified time. They had never made any rails and knew very 
little about their manufacture, and they had no rolling mill 
machinery. 

The Capital of the Scrantons & Piatt Company at this time 
was $250,000 and the undertaking of a million dollar contract 
with this small capital was staggering to think of, from the 
fact that they were obliged to use a large amount of their 
capital in purchasing rolling mill machinery to roll the rails. 
The Erie Railroad Company advanced the Company $100,000. 
on this contract and this machinery was contracted for in 
Philadelphia. The first mill was enlarged and eight months 
after signing the contract with the Erie Company the first T 
rails were rolled. 

The rails were hauled by sixteen mule teams over the 
different roads which were deep in mud, between Scranton and 
the right of way which the Erie Railroad Company had secured 
between Port Jervis and Binghamton. 

LEGISLATURE SAVES ERIE RAILROAD FROM 

BANKRUPTCY AND HELPS FINANCES OF 

SCRANTONS & PLATT 

The delivery of these rails according to contract enabled 
the Erie Railroad Company to finish the extension to Bing- 
hamton in about three months less than the specified two years, 
the result being that the New York State Legislature can- 
celled the three million dollar loan that the Erie Railroad 



20 EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 

Company owed the State of New York. This transaction kept 
the Erie Railroad Company out of bankruptcy and helped the 
finances of the firm of Scrantons & Piatt. 

Col. George W. Scranton and Selden T. Scranton first 
came to Slocum Hollow in 1840. They were both interested in 
the Oxford Furnace property. Col. George Scranton spent 
most of his time in Slocum Hollow from 1840 to 1844, while 
Selden T. Scranton stayed in Oxford looking after the property 
there. In 1844 Col. George W. Scranton, who was very much 
discouraged with the progress in Slocum Hollow up to that 
time, returned to Oxford to look after the property there, and 
Mr. Selden T. Scranton came to Slocum Hollow to take charge 
of the property here. 

OXFORD IRON & NAIL COMPANY 

Every time I see the name Oxford Furnace I think of the 
Iron Company there which was called the Oxford Iron & Nail 
Company. Before I went away to school my grandmother told 
me that she would give me a thousand dollars if I did not 
smoke until I was twenty-one. She gave me a thousand dollar 
bond of the Oxford Iron & Nail Company, which failed in 
later years when wire nails came into the market and took the 
place of the old cut nails, so I never was able to realize on the 
thousand dollar bond. I also had a similar experience when I 
went to Cornell. I won a scholarship which gave free tuition. 
Tuition at that time was only $125.00 per year, and my father 
gave me a $500 bond in a western farm and mortgage company, 
to offset the cost of the tuition. This Company also failed, so 
my first two experiences in the financial line were not very 
successful. 

Seldon T. Scranton was not only a more experienced iron 
production manager, but he was also a far better business man 
than George. George was by far the best promoter of new en- 



EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 21 

terprises and he could get money for all purposes as no one 
else could. 

Mr. Joseph H. Scranton moved his family to Scranton in 
June, 1847 and lived in a frame house which he built near the 
present site of the Stone House which he occupied until his 
death. He came none too soon, for business was crowding 
and his help was needed. 

After the arrival of Mr. Joseph H. Scranton, a second re- 
organization of the firm of Scrantons & Piatt was arranged, 
and more capital brought in, and the capital increased to 
$400,000.00. 

In looking into the ages of the four members of the firm 
of Scrantons & Piatt I was surprised to find that the average 
age of the four men when they came to Slocum Hollow was 
only 29 years, and that their average age when they took the 
million dollar contract to supply rails to the Erie Railroad 
Company was only 32 years. I cannot imagine four men of 
only 32 years of age, in our day, ever having the courage and 
financial backing to take a contract of a million dollars and 
fulfilling the contract. 

The name of the town had been changed to Harrison in 
1841, then to Lackawanna Iron Works, and later to Scran- 
tonia, and finally, the name of Scranton was officially sanc- 
tioned by the Post Office Department on January 21 ', 1851. 

No. 2 and No. 3 blast furnaces were built the latter part 
of 1848, and were put in operation in October and November, 
1849. 

No. 2 Furnace was furnished with air from a blowing- 
engine having a steam cylinder 4'6" in diameter and an air 
cylinder 9'2" in diameter, with a ten foot stroke, and having 
a twenty ton fly wheel. The blowing engine for No. 3 Furnace 
was equipped with a 2>7y 2 ton fly wheel. The air for No. 2 and 
No. 3 Furnaces was supplied by the blowing engines mentioned 
above, which were located in an engine house about three 



22 EARLY HISTORY IN SCRANTON 

hundred feet south of the corner of Lackawanna and Jefferson 
Avenues, and this air was delivered through large wrought 
iron pipes to the blast furnaces. The wheezing sound when 
the air was drawn into the air cylinders could be heard several 
blocks away. 

The air for No. 2 and No. 3 Furnaces was heated by being 
passed through vertical masonry stoves, which were built 
alongside the blast furnace generally four in number. These 
stoves were lined with checker fire brick and the gasses from 
the top of the furnace were piped down to the under side of 
these stoves. The passage of the gasses and hot air was con- 
trolled by a set of dampers so arranged that after the gasses 
had heated up the fire-brick in one of the stoves, the dampers 
were changed so as to throw the heat over into the next stove, 
then another damper threw cold air into the bottom of the 
stove the fire-brick of which had previously been heated by 
the gasses. This process was continued from one stove to 
the other so as to give a continual flow of hot air. In modern 
blast furnace practice it is possible to heat the combustion air 
as high as 1500 degrees F and the blowing engines are capable 
of operating up to pressures of 30 to 35 pounds per square 
inch. 

Photographs of the blast furnaces show these vertical 
heating stoves alongside the furnaces. 

The gasses from the blast furnaces were also used under- 
neath the boilers to produce steam to operate the blowing 
engines. 

In 1850 Mr. Joel Amsden, architect and engineer, laid out 
the city, and my grandfather, Mr. Joseph C. Piatt, was instru- 
mental in naming the avenues after some of the Presidents 
of the United States, some of the streets after different trees ; 
Lackawanna and Wyoming Avenues were named for the two 
valleys, and Penn and Franklin Avenues were named after 
noted Pennsylvanians. Mifflin Avenue was named for the first 



EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 23 

governor of Pennsylvania ; Clay and Webster Avenues, Irving 
and Prescott were named for noted Americans. 

LEGGITTS GAP RAILROAD 

The Leggitts Gap Railway from Scranton to Great Bend, 
on the Erie Railroad was put into operation in October, 1851. 
It was intended to be a local road that would develop the 
anthracite industry, and an interchange agreement was made 
whereby the tracks of the Erie Railroad could be used by 
the Leggitts Gap Railroad, from Great Bend to Owego. In 
the same year, 1851, the Company acquired by lease the 
Cayuga and Susquehanna Railroad between Owego and Lake 
Cayuga at Ithaca, thus by using a connection with the Erie 
Canal at the north end of Lake Cayuga an outlet to both the 
East and West was provided, for the shipment of coal and 
iron. The first locomotive operated on this Leggitts Gap Rail- 
way was called the "Spitfire" and was purchased from the 
Reading Railroad Company. In 1854 the first coal-burning 
locomotive was put in use on this road. In November, 1851, 
the name of the Leggitts Gap Railroad was changed to the 
Lackawanna & Western Railroad. 

DELAWARE & COBBS RAILROAD 

For several years prior to 1851 the Scranton people had 
talked of the desirability of building a railroad toward New 
York over the Pocono Mountains, and the engineers worked 
on several routes but pronounced it impossible for a loco- 
motive railroad to be built. Nevertheless, with Colonel Scran- 
ton's characteristic energy and indomitable purpose, he and 
colleagues pushed ahead with undaunted courage to do the 
impossible. At that time, from an engineering standpoint this 
was the most stupendous railway undertaking yet attempted 
on the Continent and well illustrates the pluck and faith of 



24 EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 

these pioneers. Its successful accomplishment is an achieve- 
ment of which our city has a right to be proud. It was neces- 
sary to have a grade of 72 feet to the mile from Scranton to 
Nay Aug, and an average grade of 52 to the mile from Nay 
Aug to Lehigh. 

It is rather a coincidence that the grade from Scranton to 
Clarks Summit is the same as from Scranton to Nay Aug, 
72 feet to the mile. 

On March 11, 1853 the Delaware & Cobbs Gap Rairoad was 
merged with the Lackawanna & Western, under the name of 
the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad. On May 27, 
1854, the first anthracite coal burning locomotive was put in 
operation on this road. 

In 1853 the railroad from Nay Aug to Delaware, N. J., was 
completed, so that trains running east had to be boarded at 
the Nay Aug station, then called Greenville, until the Nay 
Aug tunnel was completed on May 10, 1855, after which the 
railroad was extended through the Nay Aug tunnel to the 
Scranton station. Passengers for New York left the train at 
the Delaware station and took a bus to Belvidere, and the 
Jersey Central train to New York. 

Later the Lackawanna & Western Railroad was extended 
to Binghamton, the N. Y. Lackawanna & Western was built 
from Binghamton to Buffalo and leased to the D. L. & W. 
Railroad. The road was extended from Delaware station to 
Dover where it joined the Morris & Essex Railroad running 
from Dover to Hoboken — thus completing a through line from 
New York to Buffalo. 

James Archbald, son-in-law of Mr. J. J. Albright, and 
father of Mrs. John H. Brooks of Scranton, was born Febru- 
ary 17, 1838, was graduated from Union College in the 
Engineering Course in 1860. On his return to Scranton he 
was made Civil Engineer for the D. L. & W. Railroad Com- 
pany. In 1870, on the death of his father he was advanced to 



EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 25 

the position of Chief Engineer which position he held until 
1899, after forty years of service. The Oxford Tunnel, the 
Bergen Tunnel near Hoboken, and the extension of the 
D. L. & W. Railroad from Great Bend to Buffalo, were all 
built under his supervision. 

LACKAWANNA IRON & COAL COMPANY 
COMES INTO BEING 

In 1853 Mr. John I. Blair, Mr. James Blair, Moses 
Taylor, William E. Dodge, Percy R. Pyne and Samuel Sloan 
joined with the Company and organized the Lackawanna Iron 
& Coal Company, and more money was paid in by the above 
men. The capital was increased to $800,000.00 and later, in 
April 1860, to $1,200,000.00, and again in 1873-74 to 
$3,000,000.00. After all the hardships that the founders of 
Scranton and their associates went through in the several 
times that they were nearly forced into bankruptcy, it must 
have given them great satisfaction when they finally made a 
success from their efforts and realized a profit of over four 
million dollars in the four years from 1867 to 1870 inclusive, 
or an average of over a million dollars a year. 

At the organization meeting Mr. Seldon T. Scranton was 
elected President, and remained so until he returned to Oxford 
in 1858, when he was succeeded by Mr. Joseph H. Scranton, 
who held the position until his death on June 6, 1872. 

As this section had no hotels, except the old Slocum House, 
money was subscribed and in 1852 the Scranton interests 
built the Wyoming House, on the northeast corner of Lacka- 
wanna and Wyoming Avenue, where the Scranton Dry Goods 
store now stands. This was erected at a cost of $40,000.00 
including the furnishings, and was operated by Mr. J. C. 
Burgess. Later the Forest House was built on the site of the 
present Hotel Jermyn. 



26 EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 

My father, Joseph C. Piatt, Jr., took an engineering course 
in Troy Polytechnic Institute and was graduated in 1866. Mr. 
W. W. Scranton, his cousin, was graduated from Yale in 
1865, and both of these men worked together in the steel 
mills, learning the business. 

In 1870 Mr. Moses Taylor, William E. Dodge, and the 
different men of the Company, persuaded my father to go to 
Franklin, N. J. and build a blast furnace, using iron ore which 
they obtained in New Jersey. My father built the furnace and 
operated it until 1875 when he went to Water ford, near Troy, 
N. Y., where he engaged in the manufacture of valves and 
hydrants until his death in 1898. I was born at Franklin 
Furnace, N. J. during the construction of the blast furnace. 

There were very few stores in Franklin Furnace, so my 
mother was obliged to go to Newton, New Jersey, ten miles 
away, to do her shopping, and she often made the trip in the 
Company's steam locomotive. She happened to make the trip 
the day before I was born, which some say accounts for my 
engineering bent. 

I was very fond of railroads in my younger days, and 
often thought I would like to be a locomotive engineer. When 
I visited my grandmother I watched the D. L. & W. trains 
going by to New York. At that time the locomotives were 
named for prominent citizens who were connected with the 
Iron Company, Thomas Dickson, Moses Taylor, William E. 
Dodge, and Sam Sloane. In later years my ambition was 
realized when in Mr. W. F. Hallstead's regime I rode on the 
fast passenger locomotive from Binghamton to Hoboken. 

At that time there were very few houses in Scranton north 
of Mulberry Street. My grandfather kept several cows and 
I often helped his coachman drive the cows up to the pasture 
in the morning, letting down the bars to the pasture where the 
Clay Avenue apartments are now located. At that time there 




EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 27 

were horse-drawn street cars, one of which went up Madison 
Avenue to Olive Street and across the fields past the west side 
of the Moses Taylor Hospital to Dunmore Corners. Another 
street car line ran up Mulberry Street to Clay Avenue, the 
end of the line as there were no houses beyond Clay Avenue. 
The horse-car barns were located just west of the Post Office, 
and fresh horses were taken up Linden Street to the corner 
where the Elm Park Church now stands, and hitched to the car. 

As I have previously mentioned, the Court House Square, 
was originally a great swamp, and contained a pond of water 
on which the boys skated in the winter. In order to fill this 
up before building the Court House, a tunnel was driven from 
the North Mill, coming out at the corner of Madison Avenue 
and Linden Street, through which six-mule teams hauled the 
slag and ashes from the mill, up through the tunnel and down 
Linden Street, and dumped it into the pond. 

Some time after graduating from Yale Mr. W. W. Scranton 
went to Europe to study the iron and steel business, and on 
returning in 1867 he was made superintendent of the Lacka- 
wanna Iron & Coal Company's rolling mill, where they were 
making pig iron, puddling it and rolling wrought iron bars 
and T iron rails. 

In 1876 Mr. W. W. Scranton was appointed assistant to 
the President of the Company, and later, in 1874, he again 
visited Europe to study the Bessemer steel process which had 
just been discovered. He visited the steel mills in England, 
France and Germany. He returned to Scranton and was made 
general manager of the Company's rolling mill. 



28 EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 

ORGANIZATION OF SCRANTON STEEL CO. 

In 1880 Mr. Scranton resigned from the Lackawanna Iron 
& Coal Company and organized the Scranton Steel Company, 
and built a steel mill on the south side, where the Murray 
Plant now stands, and made steel by the Bessemer process. The 
Scranton Steel Company immediately became a competitor of 
the Lackawanna Iron & Coal Company. I remember Mr. 
Scranton taking me through his mill when I was a boy. 

Mr. Henry Wehrum, who had been Chief Engineer of the 
Lackawanna Iron & Coal Company, left them and went with 
Mr. Scranton as Chief Engineer in the new Scranton Steel 
Company. 

CONSOLIDATION OF LACKAWANNA IRON & COAL 
CO. AND THE SCRANTON STEEL CO. 

In 1891 the Lackawanna Iron & Coal Company and the 
Scranton Steel Company were consolidated and called the 
Lackawanna Iron & Steel Company. Mr. Wehrum was made 
general manager and Mr. Scranton resigned from the Com- 
pany and went with the Scranton Gas & Water Company. 

About 1900 the Lackawanna Iron & Steel Company was 
moved to Lackawanna, N. Y., on the outskirts of Buffalo, as 
it was cheaper to make steel where they could obtain the ore 
and limestone by water on the Great Lakes. Later this com- 
pany was sold to the Bethlehem Steel Company, and is still 
in operation. 

After being graduated from Cornell in Engineering in 1892, 
I came to Scranton and worked for the Wightman Electric 
Mfg. Company, who manufactured one of the first electric 
street railway motors, for 7y 2 $ an hour or $16.00 per month, 
which enabled me to pay for my table board, which was $4.00 
per week. This company discontinued business in 1893. 



EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 29 

In order to learn about mining coal, and the possibility 
of electrification of the mines, I left with my dinner pail on 
the D. & H. at 6:20 in the morning for Peckville, walked 
three miles up the mountain, and spent all day in the Sturges 
Shaft Mines where I worked with the Hungarian, Poles, etc., 
who shared their bologna and dark brown bread with me. I 
was glad, later in life, to have had this experience. 

Later I formed the Scranton Electric Construction Com- 
pany. The General Electric Company had an office in Scranton 
at that time, but they closed it and we have acted as their 
agents in the mining field since 1895. 

The first electric mine locomotive installed in this section 
was installed at the Erie Colliery of the Hillside Coal & Iron 
Company in 1889. This consisted of a six-ton General Electric 
locomotive with an open motor, mounted on top of the locomo- 
tive, obtaining its current from a pantagraph trolley. This 
locomotive was in operation for twenty-two years, and later 
was purchased by Henry Ford for his museum in Dearborne, 
Michigan. The next two locomotives were installed at the 
Forest City Colliery of the Hillside Coal & Iron Company 
in 1891, and consisted of two General Electric 12-ton so-called 
"terrapin back" locomotives, which were operated by one 
motor connected to one axle, the two axles being connected 
with side connecting rods. The fourth locomotive was in- 
stalled at the Mount Lookout Colliery of Simpson & Watkins 
at Wyoming in 1893, and consisted of one General Electric 
7-ton two-motor locomotive. 

These four locomotives which were in operation when I 
came to Scranton in 1892 were finally increased until there 
were about 2500 electric locomotives in the anthracite mines. 

After watching the operation of the first four electric 
locomotives in the mines, and talking to the mine superin- 
tendents and motor^men, I found that these locomotives had 
been designed by men who were not acquainted with mining 



30 EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 

operation, and I found that many details should be changed 
to give better operation. The General Electric Company built 
these locomotives in their Lynn, Massachusetts, works, and 
they asked me to go to Lynn and consult with the designers 
of the locomotives, where I suggested several changes which 
improved the operation and control of the locomotives. 

THE FIRST ELECTRIC STREET RAILWAY 

There were several cities in the United States which claimed 
to have operated an electric street railway prior to the one 
which was operated in Scranton. These included Montgomery, 
Alabama ; Richmond, Virginia ; and South Bend, Indiana ; but 
on investigation it was found that while they did operate cars 
most all attempts resulted in a failure, so that the first street 
railway in the United States built entirely for operation by 
electric power, and to have a regular schedule, was put in 
operation in Scranton on November 30, 1886, and was used 
to carry passengers home to Green Ridge from a lecture given 
in the Academy of Music on Wyoming Avenue, opposite St. 
Luke's Church, by Henry M. Stanley, the African Explorer, 
who was lecturing on his discovery of Mr. David Livingstone 
in the wilds of Africa. 

These cars ran from Scranton to Green Ridge, and the 
Company was known as the Scranton Suburban Electric 
Railway Company, organized by Mr. E. B. Sturges, Mr. O. S. 
Johnson, George Sanderson, Thomas F. Torrey, James W. 
Garvey, J. Benjamin Dimmick, A. L. Spencer, John L. Hull, 
and C. DuPont Breck. 

The cars were equipped with a Vandepoele electric 
motor which was mounted on one axle of the car. The cur- 
rent from the trolley wire was obtained by what they called 
a carrier, traveling on top of the trolley wire instead of the 
usual trolley below as we know it. After the current passed 



EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 31 

through the motor it returned to the rails through a wire 
brush which made contact on the rails. I was in Scranton in 
1886 and remember seeing these cars in operation, and often 
saw the carrier fall off and land on the roof of the car, one 
car having no less than thirty holes where the carrier had 
punctured the roof. 

Among the later builders of Scranton were J. J. Albright, 
Thomas Dickson, James Archbald, E. W. Weston, W. H. 
Richmond, George Sheldon and Joseph Sheldon. Mr. J. J. 
Albright was asked to go to Oxford Furnace, N. J., to manage 
the blast furnace there for Mr. George W. Scranton and 
Shelden T. Scranton, and later was asked to come to Scranton 
to take charge of the mining department of the Lackawanna 
Railroad. He held this position until 1866 when he left the 
Lackawanna Company and accepted a similar position with 
the coal department of the Delaware & Hudson Railroad 
Company. 

I have not mentioned Mr. O. S. Johnson, who came to 
Scranton in 1865, as he was not one of the founders of 
Scranton. 

Mr. Johnson was born in New Jersey, in January, 1847, 
and came to Scranton in 1865, when he was eighteen years 
old, with all his belongings in a small bag and only five dol- 
lars in his pocket. He went to work as a clerk in the Connell 
Coal Company's store in Minooka for the first year. The 
second year he worked at the Hunt Hardware Store on Lacka- 
wanna Avenue. During that time he must have studied book- 
keeping, for the third year he obtained a position as book- 
keeper with the Reiley Coal Company who were operating a 
colliery just east of the present Scranton Electric Company's 
coal pile, later called the Green Ridge Coal Company. 

He made himself very valuable to Mr. Reiley, who pre- 
sented him with some stock in the Company from time to time. 



32 EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 

He saved his money and after the panic of 1873 when the 
Reiley Coal Coimpany failed, Mr. Johnson obtained control. 

Mr. Johnson was considered by some people to be rather 
unapproachable, but he was like a father to me, as my father 
died when I was a young man. He gave me some good advice 
from time to time, and one of the things he cautioned me 
about was endorsing notes, as he had seen many friendships 
broken up, and in this particular I have followed his advice, 
although in later years when we built an electric power plant 
for supplying electric light and power to five towns in Susque- 
hanna County, he offered to endorse my note for a substantial 
amount while I sold the bonds for the Company. Another piece 
of advice he gave me was at the end of each year when he 
asked me if I had saved 25% of my income, as he said no 
young man could expect to succeed if he did not save at least 
that much per year, and I have followed his advice in this 
respect regularly. I remember Mr. Johnson's telling me that 
on his way to and from work he passed the residence of a 
Mrs. Margaret Farrell, in Dunmore, who was baking bread 
in an outside oven in her yard. The odor of this fresh bread 
attracted Mr. Johnson's attention as a boy and he often stopped 
at the fence. Mrs. Farrell asked him to come in and have 
some bread and butter and a glass of milk. Mr. Johnson 
remembered this, and in later years when Mr. and Mrs. Farrell 
were old people he supported both of them until their death. 

Later Mr. Johnson joined the Lackawanna Coal Company 
at Blakely with Mr. H. S. Pierce, Mr. E. B. Sturges and Mr. 
E. N. Willard, and made a great success of the business. This 
Company paid dividends as high as $40,000.00 a month. 

As you all know, when Mr. Johnson died he left a large 
proportion of his estate for the founding of an Industrial 
School called the Johnson School, which is located on sixty- 
rive acres of land in the north end of the city. Mr. Johnson 
came to Scranton as a poor boy, and wanted to have a school 






EARLY HISTORY OF SCR ANTON 33 

founded which would give a good common school education 
to the under-privileged boy and girl, with special emphasis on 
giving them some kind of a trade, which was denied him in 
his early days. This school at the present time has 190 G. I.'s 
and 130 regular students, or a total of 320. 

The school has been in operation continuously since 1918 
and has prepared 1,951 boys and girls for useful occupations. 
From the fact that the school is teaching veterans, the War 
Assets Administration and the Federal Works Agency have 
given the school about $200,000 worth of machine tools and 
equipment, thus giving us one of the finest equipped machine 
shops in Northeastern Pennsylvania. 

About 5% of the boys and girls continue their schooling 
and take college and university training for entrance into the 
professions. Practically all of them have entered into fields 
of endeavor that are directly related to the training which 
they received in the Johnson School. Throughout the years 
many of these young people have risen to positions of great 
responsibility and prominence. 

When I came to Scranton in 1892 most of the coal in the 
mines was hauled by mules, and the barn boss was quite a 
prominent man around the coal mines. One cold winter day 
while installing some electrical apparatus for the Sterrick 
Creek Coal Company in Jessup, the barn boss asked me to 
come over to his house for dinner with his family. During 
the meal stewed tdmatoes were passed, and as each member 
of the family helped themselvs to tomatoes, they put the 
tablespoon in their mouth and licked it off, and of course, being 
a guest, I did the same thing as I did not want them to think 
I was "high hat". 

I think from the above outline, you can see what hard- 
ships the original founders of Scranton went through before 
they made a success of the manufacture of iron and saw a 



34 EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON 

small hamlet of a few hundred people grow into a large city. 
The population of Scranton when the oldest of the founders 
died was 75,000. 

I usually spent part of my summer vacations with my 
grandparents in Scranton, and I often went to the Company 
store at the corner of Lackawanna and Jefferson Avenue, and 
also to the offices of the Iron Company on the second floor 
of the same building. 

One of the most enjoyable things I did when I was a boy 
in Scranton was to ride in the small locomotive that hauled 
a train of steel dump cars filled with hot slag, from the blast 
furnace up a narrow gauge railroad, to the slag dump on top 
of "Shanty Hill" where the slag was dumped. Some of this 
slag is now being used to make cinder building blocks. I 
often talked with my grandfather in the later years of his 
life and he gave me some of the information which I have 
given you. 

In closing I wish to state that I obtained some of the above 
information from the histories of Scranton by Col. F. L. 
Hitchcock, Dr. Hollister, Dr. B. H. Throop and from the 
Reminiscences of my grandfather, Joseph C. Piatt, and also 
from some notes given me by the Rev. A. G. Yount, of Wash- 
ington, New Jersey, who is in possession of the diary of Mr. 
William Henry. I also received some valuable information 
from my good friends Thomas Murphy and Cadwallader 
Evans, and from Mr. Quincy Bent, of Bethlehem, Pennsyl- 
vania, who was Vice-President of the Bethlehem Steel Co., 
in charge of operations for many years, and who is now retired. 



I 

i 



^ -7 




First Presbyterian Church 
Formerly located in the 100 block of Washington Avenue 



II. 

ESTABLISHING THE PRESBYTERIAN 
CHURCH 

As the establishing of a Presbyterian Church in the early- 
days was so closely identified with the building of the blast 
furnace, and as the early founders of the City were as much 
interested in establishing a church as they were in building 
a furnace, I have covered the information regarding the 
establishing of the church in a separate section. 

In February, 1842, a meeting was held in the little school 
house in Harrison, which stood on the northeastern corner of 
Lackawanna and Adams Avenue, where Preno's Restaurant 
now stands, to organize a Presbyterian church. The church 
was built in what is now called Taylor Borough, and still 
stands in the cemetery in Taylor. It was called the Lacka- 
wanna Presbyterian Church and included all Presbyterians 
from Providence to Pittston. A young man named Nathaniel 
G. Parke was pastor of this scattered parish, in fact it was 
so scattered that a meeting was held in the summer of 1848 
for the purpose of finding out whether a separate church could 
not be organized for this section, and a petition was prepared 
and presented to the Presbytery, requesting that a separate 
Church be formed at Harrison. This request was granted 
and a new Church formed on October 14, 1848, called the First 
Presbyterian Church of Harrison, and later changed to the 
First Presbyterian Church of Scranton. This consisted of 
seventeen members under the leadership of Rev. Mr. Parke. 
All the Founders of Scranton were instrumntal in founding 
the Church. 

The Rev. Nathaniel G. Parke referred to above lived in 
West Pittston and became a very good friend of a Catholic 



36 ESTABLISHING THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH 

priest, and when the Catholics built their first Church there 
he collected $1,500.00 from his Protestant friends and pre- 
sented it to the Catholics, which naturally made a very good 
feeling. 

Later, when it was necessary to enlarge the Presbyterian 
Church, Mr. Parke, so the story goes, went to this same priest 
and asked him if he would not reciprocate and subscribe 
$1,500.00 toward the cost of enlarging their church. He im- 
mediately replied that Catholics could not think of giving any 
money toward building a Presbyterian Church. Mr. Parke 
told him that they expected to enlarge the Church by tearing 
out the front and side walls of the church and increasing the 
width and length. The priest told Mr. Parke that if he would 
send him a memorandum of the cost of tearing down some of 
the Presbyterian Church, that he would send him $1,500. 

The first place of worship for the Church was Odd Fellows 
Hall at the corner of Lackawanna and Jefferson Avenue. In 
1850 Rev. J. D. Mitchell was installed as the first pastor of 
this congregation at a salary of $600.00 per year. The follow- 
ing year the Church received a gift from the Scrantons & 
Piatt of five lots in the 100 block of Washington Avenue, the 
site of the present Woolworth Store. During the pastorate 
of the Rev. Mr. Mitchell, sixty-seven members were added to 
the congregation. 

The second pastor was the Rev. John F. Baker, who was 
installed in April, 1854, and served until January, 1855, when 
his pastorate was terminated on account of ill health. The 
third pastor was the Rev. N. J. Hickok, who was elected in 
March, 1855, and served for twelve and a half years. At the 
end of his pastorate the number of communicants had increased 
to 343. 

While using Odd Fellows Hall as a place of worship the 
congregation paid a rental of $10.00 per year, and it was 



ESTABLISHING THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH 37 

occupied regularly for worship services from the organization 
of the Church until September 29, 1852. 

In 1846 the first request for subscriptions for a Church 
edifice, to be erected on Washington Avenue, was circulated, 
and $640.00 was secured from the members. Later the 
Scrantons & Piatt in addition to donating the lots, gave them 
$3,200.00. Further subscription were secured, increasing the 
total amount to $7,000.00 Work was started on the Church 
building on April 29, 1851. Mr. W. W. Manness, contractor, 
erected the building and the cost of the Church was $13,000.00. 

The bell was rung every Sunday for Church services as 
well as for fires and other important events. A large fire broke 
out near the Church and the bell was run for some time, and 
after the fire the bell was found to be broken, so a new bell 
was ordered and installed in 1859. Later, when the First Pres- 
byterian Church was built at the corner of Madison Avenue 
and Olive Street, this bell was given to the Dr. Logan Memo- 
rial Church in Throop, where it is still in use. 

Throughout the work of building the Church the Ladies 
Aid Society gave most efficient and timely aid by their con- 
tributions and their good choice of furnishings. My grand- 
mother, Mrs. Joseph C. Piatt, who was a sister of Mr. Joseph 
H. Scranton, was chairman of the Ladies Aid Society for a 
number of years, and was also connected with many other 
women's organizations founded during the early days of 
Scranton. 

In 1859 all of the pews of the Church were occupied and 
it was thought necessary to build an addition on each side of 
the Church, thus increasing the seating capacity, and on the 
16th of April, 1860, Mr. Charles Fuller reported that this work 
had been completed at a cost of $4,000.00. Later, under the 
efficient leadership of Mr. Joseph H. Scranton, subscriptions 
were raised amounting to $3,200.00 to build a parsonage ad- 
joining the Church. On the 7th of May, 1866, the congrega- 



38 ESTABLISHING THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH 

tion resolved to build a lecture room in the rear of the Church, 
which was finally completed at a cost of $3,200.00. Thus, the 
original cost of the buildings belonging to the congregation 
amounted to $23,400.00. At that time there were 550 com- 
municants in the Church. I remember as a boy attending 
Church socials in the lecture room of this Church with my 
grandmother. 

A communion service consisting of thirteen pieces was con- 
tributed by Joseph H. Scranton, Selden T. Scranton and 
Joseph C. Piatt. 

The Church was lighted with oil lamps until gas was in- 
stalled and used for the first time in December 1858. 

The third pastor of the Church, Rev. Hickok was stricken 
with paralysis at the close of the evening service on October 
13, 1867 and from that time until August 1868 the pulpit was 
supplied by the Rev. Dr. Cattell, who subsequently became 
President of Lafayette College, and then the Rev. W. W. 
Atterbury of New York. On August 9, 1868, the Rev. Samuel 
C. Logan was appointed pastor and served until 1892, at 
which time the membership of the Church was 629. Dr. 
Logan's place was taken by Dr. James MeLeod of Albany, 
N. Y., who became pastor of the Church in November, 1893. 

Mrs. Piatt and I were married in the Old Church on Janu- 
ary 24th, 1895. When we first went to housekeeping we paid 
a maid $11.00 a month, and she did the cooking, waitress work, 
cleaning and caring for the furnace. 

In March, 1874, there were quite a few of the members of 
the Church who lived on the hill, and they finally assembled at 
a meeting in the lecture room of the Church and addressed a 
petition to the Presbytery, requesting approval of a new 
Church to be known as the Second Presbyterian Church. On 
receipt of this petition the Presbytery appointed a committee 
which instituted a new Church at a meeting held in the parent 



ESTABLISHING THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH 39 

Church in June, 1874. The Memorial Fund of 1871 was given 
to the new Church as a "kind of a wedding trousseau to her 
first born daughter." 

The members of the First Church who joined in this peti- 
tion to the Presbytery were Henry M. Boies, Edward B. 
Sturges, Frederick L. Hitchcock, Ezra H. Ripple, F. E. 
Nettleton, Charles H. Welles, Frederick Fuller, James A. 
Linen, and Edward L. Fuller. 

The best of feeling was shown between the members of the 
First Church and the members who were leaving to organize 
the new Second Church. 

For a period of almost twelve years after the Second 
Church was organized they worshipped God in a one-story 
rough boarded temporary chapel built on the rear of the lots 
on Jefferson Avenue where the Second Church, now St. John's 
Lutheran Church, was later built. For a time, before the 
chapel was built, they shared the use of the German Methodist 
Church at the corner of Vine Street and Adams Avenue. Dur- 
ing this period the Second Church had three pastors : the Rev. 
John W. Partridge, who served thirteen months ; the Rev. 
W. H. Belden, who served until 1879; and the Rev. Thomas 
R. Beeber, who served until March, 1887. 

In June, 1886, the Second Presbyterian Church was dedi- 
cated. It had been erected at a total cost of $60,000.00 and at 
the dedication services Col. H. M. Boies, President of the 
Board of Trustees, and Chairman of the Building Committee, 
announced that all bills had been paid. 

The fourth pastor was the Rev. Charles E. Robinson, who 
was installed in 1888 and acted as pastor until 1901, when he 
felt that his strength was unequal to the demands of the 
charge. Dr. Joseph H. Odell was installed as pastor in March, 
1902 and served until 1914, after which his place was taken by 
Dr. George W. Wellburn, who became the sixth pastor of the 
Second Presbyterian Church. 



40 ESTABLISHING THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH 

In October 1894 the congregation of the First Presbyterian 
Church purchased the so-called reservoir lots at the corner of 
Olive Street and Madison Avenue, from the Scranton Gas & 
Water Company, who had maintained a reservoir on these 
lots for supplying Scranton with water. The parsonage was 
erected first on part of these lots in 1898, but the building of 
the Church was postponed until the sale of the property on 
Washington Avenue to the J. D. Williams Company was 
effected in 1902. In September, 1903, the cornerstone of the 
present Westminster Presbyterian Church, then the First 
Presbyterian Church, was laid by Mr. W. W. Scranton, Chair- 
man of the Building Committee, his father, Joseph H. 
Scranton, having been Chairman of the Building Committee, 
of the Old Church on Washington Avenue. The new Church 
was dedicated in 1904. 

Dr. Griffin W. Bull succeeded Dr. McLeod in 1907, and 
served until his death in April, 1916. Then came Dr. William 
L. Sawtelle the seventh and last pastor of the First Presbyte- 
rian Church, who died suddenly in 1926. 

In December, 1926, the congregation of the First and 
Second Presbyterian Church held a meeting to petition the 
Lackawanna Presbytery to consolidate the two Churches. Dr. 
Sawtelle had died, and Dr. Wellburn, pastor of the Second 
Church had resigned to facilitate the union of the two 
Churches. The Rev. Peter K. Emmons was called as the first 
pastor of the Westminster Presbyterian Church and was 
installed in November, 1927. 

Mr. Emmons has done a wonderful job in building up the 
Westminster Church, with the fine support given him by Miss 
Marion Osborne and Miss Ethel Rae Robinson. The Church 
has a membership of 1822 and a fine Sunday School organi- 
zation of 513 members. The Church has just finished the 
Every Member Canvass for 1949 which "went over the top", 



ESTABLISHING THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH 41 

raising $42,359.00 for Church support and $21,360.00 for 
Benevolences, a total budget of $63,719.00. 

The Westminster Presbyterian Church has just celebrated 
their one hundredth anniversary, with the services continuing 
for a week, with a large exhibition of photographs, records 
and relics, including the communion table, pews, pulpit chairs 
and a clock from the Old First Church. A pageant was held 
on two successive nights in which the twenty-six members of 
the present congregation impersonated their ancestors who 
were founders of the original Church. 

A Centennial Memorial Fund of $30,000.00 was raised to 
remodel the Young People's Department of the Sunday School 
in memory of the members of the Church who lost their 
lives in the service. 

During the Centennial week the beautiful Schautz Memo- 
rial Chapel was dedicated. This chapel of Gothic style was 
the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Walter L. Schautz in honor of Mrs. 
George J. Schautz, Mr. Schautz's mother and in memory of 
Mr. George J. Schautz, Sr., his father, and Mr. and Mrs. 
Clarence J. Layfield, the parents of Mrs. Walter L. Schautz.