Scranton Public library
Piatt, Frederick J.
Early history of Scranton
and the First Presbyteri
an Church /
Frederick J. Platt
SCRANTON ELECTRIC CONSTRUCTION COMPANY SCRANTON, PA.
EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON
FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
A TALK GIVEN BY
FREDERICK J. PLATT
At a Meeting of the Lackawanna Historical Society
October 29, 1948
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
EARLY HISTORY OF SCRANTON
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-
Name of Company
Montour Iron Co.
Oct. 1, 1845
Only 15-lb. rails for
industrial use only
Lehigh Coal &
Mauch Chunk, Pa...
... July 1840
Scrantons & Piatt
...January 2, 1842
July 6, 1845
Aug. 9, 1847
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
I have not mentioned Mr. O. S. Johnson, who came to
Scranton in 1865, as he was not one of the founders of
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
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.
First Presbyterian Church
Formerly located in the 100 block of Washington Avenue
ESTABLISHING THE PRESBYTERIAN
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 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
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 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
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
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
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.