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Full text of "A history of Wilkes-Barré, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania : from its first beginnings to the present time, including chapters of newly-discovered early Wyoming Valley history, together with many biographical sketches and much genealogical material"

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• S.. 1871 



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in 2009 with funding from 

University of Pittsburgh Library System 

The Harvey Coat of Arms 








Author of "A History of Lodge No. 61. F. &- A. M.","Thk Harvey Book", 
"A History of Irem Temple", Etc. 



President and Editor of the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader 

Illustrated With Many Portraits. Maps, Facsimiles, Originai^ ,''; 

Drawings and Contemporary \'iews . . , . , " " 





Copyright 1929, by Ernest G. Smith 

The Smith Bennett Corp. 
Wilkes-Barre. Penna. 

Contents of Volume IV 


Dim Ages When the Wyoming Valley was First a Tropical Jungle and Then a Polar 
Zone — The Formation of Coal and its Partial Destruction by Prodigious Pro- 
cesses OF Nature — How Man Began to Develop the Residue — Wyoming the 
Seat of Discovery of Anthracite — Its First Adaptation to a Commercial Use — • 
Jesse Fell, His Experimental Grate and His Benefaction to IMankixd — First 
vShipments From the Valley — Experiences in Introducing an Innovation in 
Fuel to the World — The Conquest of Perseverance — Summary of Results. . . . 1S03 


Luzerne, The "^Mother of Counties" — vSusquehanna, Bradford, Wyoming and 
Lackawanna Set Off — The Market vStreet Bridge — Its Destruction and Re- 
building — The "City of Rome" Bubble — The First Circl's — The Year Without 
a Summer — The County's First vStrike — Early Shops and vStores — Hard Times — • 
The First Sunday School — Violent Church Dissentions — Episcopalians axd 
Presbyterians Leave the "Old vShip Zion" — Death of Judge Mathias Hdllexback. 


Transportation as the Great American Problem — The Pack Horse and" Coxestoga" 
Wagox — The Rollicking Stage Coach Days of Wilkes-Barre — The Fate of 
Stoddardsville — Canal Challenges Highway — ^Wilkes-Barre Has Packet Boats 
Daily to Philadelphia — The Redoubt Basin — Mill Creek Aqueduct — -Wyo- 
ming's First Railway — Navigation of the Susquehaxxa by .Steamboat — -Its 
Tragedy and its Failure 1 '^68 


Civic Events 1825-1850 — The Wyoming Bank — Stage Coach and Canal Taverxs — 
The Phoenix Hotel — The "Bucket Brigade" and the "Davy Crockett" — Slow 
Beginnings of the Wilkes-Barre Fire Department — Rosters of Early I'ire 
Companies — Famous Fires — Borough Treasury Bankrupt — Public .Square In- 
dicted AS A Nuisance — The New Academy — Treatment of an Early Abolitionist — 
WiLK} s-Barre Institute — Wyoming »Seminary — Wyoming Artillerists ix the 
Mexican War 1908 


Industrial Development of Wyoming — Its Diversified Manufactures — -Coming of 
THE Emigrant — The Celtic, Teutonic and Jewish Waves in Turn — Establish- 
ment OF New Churches and Inauguration of New Customs — Wyoming's First 
Steam Engine — Its Ambitious Iron Works — The Lumber Industry — Anthracite's 
Second Epoch — -Coal Lands at Forty Dollars Per Acre — Entrance of Outside 
Capital — -Rumblings of Civil War 1964 


Wilkes-Barre's First Public Utilities — The Telegraph Breaks Down Mountain 
Barriers — Gas Illuminates the Streets — Community Wells Give Place to 
Water Mains — Typhoid Epidemic Breaks Out — The First Daily Newspaper — - 
Wyoming Historical and Geological Society Organized — Beginnings of the 
Childrens' Home — Luzerne County's Third Court House — Passing of the 
Borough " Grave Yard" — The "Great Flood" and Other War Time Freshets. . . . 1998 


Outbreak of the Civil War — Unpreparedness of Pennsylvania — Wyoming Artiller- 
ists AND Other Local Units Merge to Form Luzerne's First Service Regiment — 
Successive Calls of President Lincoln — Recruitment of Wyoming's Many 
Volunteer Companies — Rosters of Their Members — Invasion of Pennsylvania — 
Grant Assumes Command — Tide of the Confederacy Turns — The Strategy of 
Final Campaigns — Appomattox 2043 


Early Mining Disasters — Railroads Enter Wyoming — Street Cars — Wilkes-Barre 
Becomes a City — Early Welfare Organizations — Railroad Strikes — Story 
OF Wyoming Monument — Centenary of the Battle — -Lackawanna County 
Erected — First Telegraph and Telephone — -The Rockafellow Failure — In- 
dustrial Expansion — The Cyclone of 1 890 2089 


Passing Events of the Nineties — Board of Trade Activities — ^Boys Industrial 
Association — Successful Fight For New Post Office — -Welfare Institutions 
Take Form — Irem Temple — Lattimer Riots — Ninth Infantry N. G. P. Organ- 
ized — Spanish-American War — Industrial Strikes — Third Rail Systems Com- 
pleted — President Roosevelt's Visit — Wilkes-Barre Celebrates — Park De- 
velopment — A New Court House — Material Progress of the New Century — 
Border Troubles — The World War 2164 



'Yea, they did wrong thee foully — they who mocked 
Thy honest face, and said thou wouldst not burn; 
Of hewing thee to chimney-pieces talked, 

And grew profane, and swore, in hitter scorn. 
That men might to thy inner caves retire, 
And there, unsinged, abide the day of fire. 

'For thou Shalt forge vast railways, and shalt heat 

The hissing rivers into steam, and drive 
Huge masses from thy mines, on iron feet. 

Walking their steady way, as if alive. 
Northward, till everlasting ice besets thee, 
And south as far as the grim Spaniard lets thee. 

'Then we will laugh at winter when we hear 
The grim old churl about our dwellings rave ; 

Thou, from that 'ruler of the inverted year,' 
Shalt pluck the knotty sceptre Cowper gave, 

And pull him from his sledge, and drag him in 

And melt the icicles from off his chin." 

William Cidlen Brvant. 

When the world was young, dense tropical jungle covered the entire region 
of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Prodigious processes of nature which event- 
ually submerged this jungle and other mystifying processes which transformed 
these forest strata into coal, are left to the geologist to describe. Positive proof 
is advanced by recognized authorities on geological matters, that coal measures 
of the east once rivaled in extent those areas which have survived to the present 



in the immense bituminous fields of western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, 
Indiana and Illinois. 

Then followed gradual swings in the position of the earth's axis which 
converted tropical regions into polar zones. The last of these swings is figured 
to have occured between 250,000 and 1,000,000 years before man recorded 
anything of the continent of North America. The most recent of these "Ages 
of Ice" left its indelible impression upon a vast basin now drained by the Hudson, 
Delaware, Lehigh and Susquehanna rivers. 

To him who knows even a smattering of geology, a journey over any of 
the roads, which radiate in all directions from the Wyoming Valley, will dis- 
close ancient lake beds as well as the positions and effects of glaciers as they 
once lay on our mountain sides. Moreover, the deposits of moraines as the ice 
receded a^e apparent on every hand. Underneath these surface indications, 
further proof is available of geological phenomena. In the vicinity of the Wyo- 
ming coal basin, the ice cap of an ancient period is estimated to have been about 
2.000 feet in thickness. 

.\ \'iE\v i.\ Gi..\ciER NATioN.^ii. Park 

As is usual with glaciers, the whole mass moved southward, gouging and 
plowing the surface, scratching and rending asunder ridges of rock, and trans- 
porting boulders of all sizes, sometimes to great distances. 

The tendency of slate composition, usually found above coal measures of 
the anthracite field, to fossilize the remains of animal and vegetable life of periods 
following the deposit of embryonic coal strata, is manifest not only throughout 
those districts of Luzerne County, where anthracite is now mined, but many of 
these fossils have been carried to considerable distances elsewhere by action of 
ice. To the student of geology, a varied and representative collection of these 
fossils may be found in the rooms of the Wyoming Historical and Geological 
Society. To others, the following news item appearing in the Record of the Times, 


under date of August 4, 1S58, will disclose the nature and extent of interesting 
discoveries of such fossils which occur with frequency : 

"On Wednesday last, we saw one of the greatest natural curiosities of the coal field, while 
attending some ladies on a visit to the Baltimore Coal Mines* near the Borough. It will be re- 
membered that ten or twelve acres of the mine which had been worked fell in a year or two ago, 
crushing the pillars left for support, and filling that ixjrtion with rock and slate from the roof. 
Through these masses of rock, the sui)erintendent of the mines, Mr. Frederick Landmesser, has 
explored and discovered the remains of a forest of trees which had l)een embedded in the slate 
rock above the large vein, fragments of which, by the fall, had been detached, and now lie in con- 
fusion — stumps, roots, limbs and im])ressions of bark, in the mine. 

"Among the curiosities are two huge stinni)s as i)erfect as if just drawn from the earth by 
a stump machine, the roots cut oil where they had entered the ground, and the surface looking 
as if the bark had been taken off while the sa]) was rimning. In the rock above can be tracetl the 
ends of the logs from which the stumps have fallen, and in one jilace tlie body of the tree ])rotrudes 
the surface presenting the impression of bark." 

In addition to exposing and often reinoving strata of fossils, the glacial 

age left its own traces in the deposit of "drift" and "glacial till" consisting of 

BouuDER Left bv Glacier (jn Summit uk Pe-n'obscot Knob, 
Four Miles South of Wiekes-Barrk 

It lies on glacial surface of Pocono sandstone 

*"The Old Openinj;" (a photoi^raphic reproduction of "The Old Oi)eninj,'." may he found on page 467 of this 
History) lives hardly now in the memory of any. yet it once had more than local fame, not only as showing 
the earliest outcrop of anthracite, but'as a rich, well nigh inexhaustible bed of fossils. Little Old Wilkes-Barre 
did not go away to spend her summers; she stayed at home in her unspoiled valley and entertained her city friend s. 
Most of her gaieties were summer gaieties; in winter time, the sewing societies — field in private houses — formed for 
a large part her wildest dissipations. When the summer guests came, they were always taken to the Old Opening, 
where they loaded up with "rainbow coal" and shell, fern and other fossils. Those among the visitors who had a soul 
for natural beauty as well as for natural curiosities rejoiced in the enchanting ravine into which the worked-out Baltimore 
outcrop opened. When I now drive to Bear Creek over the Mountain Boulevard, and, reach the top of the hill above 
East End. I look with a distinct sadness down over a seamed and jumliled tract that suggests earthquake or direct 
volcanic destruction, and involuntarily my mind reconstructs one of the loveliest and strangest of scenes — a ravine 
not much more than an eighth of a mile in length nor more than thirty feet wide, splitting the hill eastward and opening 
at the upper end to give a view of the Wilkes-Barre mountain. The floor of the narrow gorge was paved with flat rocks, 
over which flowed in summer time a little stream, doubtless quite covering them during the spring and autumn floods. 
On the left side a thickly wooded wall gave a soft green relief to the perpendicular yellow cliff opposite, the clilT pierced 
with ten square openings that showed like vast black doorways fit for giants of the elder world, leading into a vast cave 
floored with coal and yellow rock, and supported by huge pillars of coal Within this artificial cavern, once solidly 
tilled with anthracite, remarkable fossils might be picked up without digging for them, while outside, on the ledge or 
shelf that bordered the stream, they also lay in abundance. Although this great outcropping vein was worked out, 
j'et one could by walking underground for a distance reach the new Baltimore workings, where a shaft had been sunk, 
back of Coalbrook (East End.) 

Little by little the great coal pillars were "robbed," causing the clilT to fall in To complete the tragedy, a fire 
broke out in the southern mine that proved inextinguishable unless the strong draught through the fJld Opening were 
cut off. .\nd so came the final ruin of the Giant's Cave, its picturesque beauty and w-eird charm destroyed by being 
broken up to furnish its own stuffing. The thing could have been done, I believe, without this utter wiping out of a 
spot of highest historic and aesthetic interest. In a more civilized land it would never have l)een sacrificed thus. The 
harmful draught could have been cut off farther ba(Jk, leaving the outer part of the cavernous space untouched and a 
few of the front row of pillars standing. One must have coal, to be sure, but one must have beauty, too. Are we not 
told that where there is no vision the people perish.' Right valuations should teach us when to save and when saving 
is more extravagant than deliberate sacrifice. 

From "Little Old Wilkes-Barre as I knew It," by Miss Edith Brower, pul)lished. \'ol XVIII ; 12. Proceedings of 
the Wyoming Historical and Geological vSociety. 


various layers of sand and gravel, intermixed with boulders of variable sizes, 
all more or less rounding by the action of melting water and movable debris. 

As can be gathered from illustrations accompanying this Chapter, con- 
clusive evidence of these glacial and post-glacial deposits may be seen near at 
hand, where the subsequent excavations of our own generation have exposed 
them to view. In other sections, deep channels, undoubtedly worn by streams 
which issued from beneath the melting ice, are in evidence. 

Cross Bedded Sand and Gravee of Old High Channee at Kingston 
No. 2 CoELiERY, Looking West 

One of such channels extends under the whole of the present Wyoming 
Valley. To engineers, the existence of this buried channel has been a source of 
study and concern in mine operations. An abundance of water which once 
covered the valley, as its overflow eroded a deep chasm through the ridge of 
rock, whose exposed surface is still fighting this erosive process at Nanticoke 
Falls, made deposit of strata of gravel, silt and quicksand, varying in depth from 
eighty to two hundred feet, above bed rock. From the core disclosures of bore 
holes sunk in various parts of the valley, Mr. William Griffith, in 1901, was able 
to construct an approximate map of these bedrock foundations, and their over- 
lying deposits of the Wyoming coal basin, the data of which furnish a fairly 
accurate source of information, in planning the safety of modern day mining 
beneath the bedrock formation. One grave danger exists in these mining oper- 
ations which science has been unable to overcome, in spite of careful explor- 
ation. The ice and water which gouged a path through rocky barriers on the 
surface, also sunk shafts to various depths through the then exposed rock floors. 
To these shafts, the term "pot-holes" is generally applied. The formation of 
these pot-holes, whose destructive tendencies have often cost the anthracite 
industry a heavy toll of life and treasure, is interestingly described by Mr. Griffith 
in an article referred to in the footnote.* 

*See "An Investigation of the Buried Valley of Wyoming", by William CrilTith, published in Vol. VI: 27, Pro- 
ceedings of the Wyoming Historical and Geological Socety, 1901. 


"A glacial pot-hole," says Mr. Griffith, "is a deep shaft, well or hole, worn 
in the solid rock, by action of water falling from a height (probably through a 
crevice in the ice) on the solid bedrock, thus, by the aid of fragments of stone 
and boulders, which are kept in continual motion on the bottom of the hole, 
wearing the well deeper and larger with time; the size and depth of the well 
depending on the volume of water and the height of its fall." 

Supposed Till on Drift Just East of Empire Colliery in 
Southern Part of Wilkes-BarrK 

In passing, it might be remarked that the first discovery of one of these 
pot-holes in the anthracite field, was made in 1884, in the Eton colliery at Arch- 
bald, Lackawanna County. A chamber of the mine was driven against a mass 
of round stones of all sizes. Investigation disclosed that the bottom of a pot- 
hole, varying in diameter from twenty to forty feet, had thus been opened 
which had cut its way through overlying coal measures. 

This pot-hole, extending to the surface after being cleared of debris, is 
still in use as an air shaft by the operating company. 

Two serious accidents in the Wyoming Valley have been directly attributed 
to the existence of similar pot-holes worn through an otherwise secure roof of 
rock above coal measures, then being mined. 

On December 18, 1885, a sudden rush of water, sand and gravel from a 
chamber supposed to contain nothing but anthracite, buried twenty six mine 
employees, and filled up over one hundred thousand cubic yards of workings, 
at the Nanticoke mine of the vSusquehanna Coal Company. 

The extent of this shaft, worn by nature, has never been investigated, as 
certain workings had to be abandoned to prevent further inrushes from sources 
it drained, and the bodies of miners entombed, have never been recovered. 

A second accident, attributable to the same cause, occurred in the Mt. 
Lookout mines at Wyoming, on March 1, 1897. Fortunately, in this case, the 


mines were idle, and no casulties resulted. A first warning of danger came from 
the surface, when the post office building in the borough of Wyoming, . began to 
settle. The investigation which followed, disclosed that debris from this pot- 
hole, which nature had sunk to a distance of some seventy feet beneath the rock 
foundation of the valley, and had tapped a coal seam then being worked, had 
admitted a flood of water, sand and rounded masses of rock and coal to a large 
portion of the mine. 

^5«a»*-«i!i?? -»~ 

Cross Section of Glacial Deposits Under Hudson River Near West Point 

Whatever dangers these influences of the "Age of Ice" may have added 
to the hazards that pertain to the mining of anthracite under ordinary circum- 
stances, geologists agree that ice erosions, in robbing the once huge fields under- 
laid by coal measures of nearly 85 per cent of their natural wealth, probably 
changed many of the currents of commerce and industry which enter so vitally 
into affairs of modern civilization. The same tremendous ice pressure which 
converted what were once fields of bituminous coal into anthracite and which 
caused the upending and upheaval of many of the once level rock strata and coal 
measures of eastern Pennsylvania, took heavy toll of our richest deposits, leaving 
of a once magnificient area only four basins or sources of anthracite at isolated 
points of this area. The geological survey of Pennsylvania, 1885, separates the 
remains of this huge deposit into four regions now generally accepted by en- 
gineers as defining anthracite deposits. They are as follows: 

1. The Southern or Pottsville field extends from Lehigh River at Mauch 
Chunk, southwest to within a few miles of the Susquehanna River, and thence 
nearly north to Harrisburg, comprising the territory of Carbon, vSchuylkill and 
Dauphin Counties. The eastern end of this field, known as the Lower Lehigh 
or Panther Creek basin, between Tamaqua, on the Little Schuylkill, and Mauch 
Chunk, has generally been included by the coal trade in the Lehigh field, from the 
fact that its coal more closely resembles that obtained in the Upper Lehigh region , 


than that in the Pottsville field, west of Tamaqua, and also from the fact that 
shipments from it to market have been made larj^ely thronjijh the Lehigh Vallev. 

2. The Western Middle or Mahanoy and Shamokin field, lies between 
the easternmost headwaters of Little Schuylkill, Columbia and Northumber- 
land Counties. These two coal fields (I and 2) are frequently designated in a 
general way, as the Schuylkill region, although parts of them are better known 
by the trade names defining the districts from which coals of special character- 
istics are mined. 

3. The Eastern Middle or LTpper Lehigh field lies between Lehigh River 
and Catawissa Creek, and principally in Luzerne County, with limited areas 
extending into Carbon, vSchuylkill and Columbia Counties. 

4. The Northern or Wyoming and Lackawanna field, in the two valleys 
from which it derives its name, is embraced almost entirely by Luzerne and Lacka- 
wanna Counties. A small area in the extreme eastern end extends into Wayne 
and Susquehanna Counties. 

The Loyalsock and Mehoopany field, within the areas drained by the head- 
waters of the Loyalsock and Mehoopany Creeks, is included in Sullivan and 
Wyoming Counties. This field is from twenty to twenty-five miles northwest 
of the western end of the northern field. Its geological structure closely re- 
sembles that of the bituminous field, in which it has until recently been included, 
although the composition of much of its coal entitles it to rank with that of the 
anthracite region generally. 

The geographical divisions of the anthracite coal fields above mentioned, 
are also, for trade purposes, sometimes grouped as follows: 

The Wyoming, embracing the whole of the northern and Loyalsock fields; 
the Lehigh, embracing all of the eastern and part of the southern field; the 
Schuylkill, embracing the western and part of the southern field. The Wyoming, 
is by far, the most important of these regions, fully fifty per cent of the total 
output of anthracite coming from it. The Schuylkill provides approximately 
thirty five per cent, of the output, and the Lehigh region about fifteen per cent. 

Many and often divergent estimates have been made of the extent and 

value of anthracite deposits, which remained in the now well defined areas of 

Pennsylvania, after their tribute was paid to the glaciated age. A recent, and 

certainly an authoritative statement on this score, was made in an address 

delivered in Boston, November 27, 1923, by Joseph J. Walsh, Secretary of the 

Pennsylvania Bureau of Mines, as follows: 

"The original anthracite deposits in Pennsylvania, according to the t)est estimates avail" 
able, amounted to about 21,000,000,000 tons. Of this amount, about 3,500,000,000 tons have 
been mined, and at the present rate of production, after allowances are made for the necessary 
losses, the remaining deposits will last for about 150 years." 

vSo much by way of mention, of the geological beginnings of the "Age of 
Coal" which has played so vital a part in later affairs of Wyoming. It is not for 
the historian, to refer to more than an outline of those phenomena of world 
affairs responsible for tropical growth or glacial age. Rather, he is expected to 
narrate events which have to do with the activities of man in the development 
of resources which nature stored against the coming of a people who were to reap 
rewards of initiative, in the development of these resources. This narrative 
will therefore, proceed with a study of the discovery and use of the "stone coal" 
of Wyoming which leads into as interesting fields of romance and achievement as 
are recorded of anv other industrv in American annals. 


Of discussion and dispute, as to who discovered anthracite, and who first 
harnessed its heat in various ways for the service of the world, there have been 
no end. Civic celebrations in various parts of the field, revive these discussions 
at frequent intervals, and occasionally the subject passes to the larger forum of 
state and national legislative bodies. During the 1891 session of the Pennsyl- 
vania legislature, a bill introduced by Senator Rapsher of Carbon County, 
reached third reading in the House, but there, met the fate it deserved. In part, 
the bill read as follows: 

"AN ACT appropriating the sum of $2,000 for the erection of a monument to the memory 
of PhiUp Ginter, the discoverer of anthracite coal in Pennsylvania. 

"Section 1. Be it enacted by the senate and house of representatives of the Common- 
wealth of Pennsylvania in general assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of 
the same, that the sum of $2,000 be appropriated toward the erection of a suitable monument to 
commemorate the memory of Philip Ginter, the first discoverer of anthracite coal in Pennsylvania, 
to be paid to the committee in charge upon the warrant of the auditor-general." 

A portion of the debate which resulted in the Senate side when the measure 
was under fire there is worthy of notice, since it indicates what Uttle study of 
a subject is given on the part not only of legislators, but of many others who 
have written and spoken on the matter of anthracite discoveries. 

Upon presentation of the bill. Senator William H. Hines, then represeating 
Luzerne, asked leave to strike out the word "first," because as the Senator 
claimed, "Mr. Ginter was not the original discoverer of anthracite." 

"Senator Rapsher, in reply, said: 'Mr. President, the historians, like men, sometimes 
differ on that particular point, as to whether Philip Ginter was the first discoverer or not, but I 
think all the historians agree that Philip Ginter was the first authentic discoverer of anthracite 
coal in what was then Northampton County, a hundred years ago the first of ne.xt September, 
and it was the inception of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company, and was the beginning of 
the anthracite coal traffic in Pennsylvania, and because the anthracite coal interest was of so 
much importance to the State credit in our section, this could be granted without any great strain 
on our consciences.' 

"vSenator Green, of Berks where they have no coal, said: 'Mr. President, I think we ought 
to have a discoverer of coal, and we might as well have him now as at any other time; so whether 
it is Mr. Ginter or somebody else, makes very little difference to me. I am willing to concede to 
that gentleman that claim. I am willing to go further: I am willing to take the word of the 
vSenator from Carbon for it. If he thinks he is the discoverer of coal, I think so.' " 

While the above rather amusing discussion failed to secure the monument 
for Mr. Ginter, it likewise failed to disclose anything of importance to the early 
history of anthracite. The legislature was satisfied that Mr. Ginter, in accident- 
ally overturning a piece of "stone coal" at the outcrop of a vein on Mauch Chunk 
mountain in 1781, was not entitled to recognition as the original discoverer of 
that commodity. No attempt was made then, or late/, to determine who was. 
The whole subject was officially dropped. 

From records available to the present writer, it can be set down, without 
fear of controversy, that anthracite was known to exist at Wyoming before it 
was known to exist anywhere else in America. But neither the earliest white 
settler of the valley nor surveyors who preceded him in arrival ever claimed to 
be the first discoverers of the commodity. 

Rather, it was inferred by those who mentioned the subject in earliest 
sequence, that the existence of exposed coal measures was accepted as a matter 
of common knowledge on the part of Indians and whites alike. 

Practically all local historians, have concurred in naming the year 1766, 
as the year of "discovery" of anthracite at Wyoming. This date was fixed by 
two incidents which occurred in that year. A number of Mohicans and Nan- 
ticoke Indians having arranged a conference at Philadelphia, with representatives 
of John Penn, in the spring of that year, the matter of encroachment of the 


whites became a chief topic of discussion at the ensuing powwow'. Minutes of 
the conference disclose that the following complaint was registered by the Nan- 
ticokes, who had doubtless been former residents of the valley, as to their "mines:' ' 
"As we came down from Chenango, we stopped at Wyoming, where we had a mine in two 
places, and we discovered that some white people had lieen at work in the mine, and had filled 
canoes with the ore, and we saw their tools with which they dug it out of the ground, where they 
made a hole at least forty feet long and five or six feet deep. It happened that formerly some white 
people did take, now and then, only a small bit and carry it away, but these people have been 
working at the mine and filled their canoes. We inform you that there is one John Anderson, 
a trader, now living at Wyoming, and we suspect he, or somebody liy him, has robbed our mine. 
This man has a store of goods, and it may happen that when the Indians see their mine robbed, 
they will come and take away his goods." 

While arranging voluminous correspondence in possession of the Pennsyl- 
vania Historical Society, which later became known as the "Penn Papers," 
William J. Buck, Esq., came upon a reference to Wyoming coal which confirmed 
many other historians in the belief that the year 1766 should be granted the honor 
of its discovery. In a paper later prepared by him on the subject, published in 
Potter's American Monthly, 187.S, Vol. 4: 180, Mr. Buck is authority for the state- 
ment that on August 4, 1766, James Tilghman. of Philadelphia, addressed a letter 
to the Proprietaries, Thomas and Richard Penn, at vSpring Garden, London, 
setting forth that "my brother-in-law. Colonel Francis, * * * went up the N. 
E. Branch (of the Susquehanna) as far as Wyoming, where he says there is a 
considerable body of good lands and a very great fund of coal in the hills. This 
coal is thought to be very fine. With his compHments he sends you a piece of 
the coal. This bed of coal, situate as it is on the side of the river, may some 
time or other, be a thing of great value." 

A reply came from Thomas Penn, dated the 7th of November following, 
as follows: 

"I desire you will return my thanks to Colonel Francis * * * ^^^ ^■\^^ 
piece of coal which we shall have examined by some person skilled in that article 
and send their observations on it." 

No "observations" or other reference to the subject seem ever to have 
followed. The subject, insofar as the Penns were concerned, appears to have 
been finally dropped. 

Those who were content with fixing the year 1766, as the time of dis- 
covery were doubtless unfamiliar with records of the Susquehanna Companv. 

In these, a mention of "stone coal" appears as early as 1762. John [enkins, 
Sr., being sent forward in that year to survey a portion of Wyoming in prepara- 
tion for its later settlement by shareholders of the Company, reported finding 
coal outcropping at two points, which he indicated in his stirvey. He, how- 
ever, made no claim to its "discovery," but seemed to infer, as did others, that 
its existence was almost as well known as the valley's fertile acres. 

Acting on these reports at a subsequent meeting of the Companv, held at 
Windham, Connecticut, April 17, 1763, it was voted "to reserve for the use of 
the Company, all beds and mines of iron ore and coal that may be within the 
towns ordered for settlement." 

This reservation, for some reason not apparent, does not seem to have 
followed in the granting of various rights and deeds subsequently made to share- 

That later surveyors at Wyoming found coal measures exposed, without 
thought of claiming any "discovery" of their existence, is shown by the original 
draft of the Manor of Sunbury, on the west side of the Susquehanna (a repro- 


duction of which may be found on pa^e 454 of this History) whereon, the words 
"Stone Coal" appear on what is now known as Ross Hill, in Plymouth. This 
survey was made and the map plotted by Charles Stewart, in 1768. No notation 
at Wyoming is found on William Scull's map of the Province of Pennsylvania, 
published in 1770, but a notation is made thereon of coal existing in three places 
near Pottsville, which, by way of reference, seems to be the first authentic record 
of discoveries in that basin. 

While no one, other than adherents of the lost cause of Philip Ginter, may 
now be named as a claimant to the initial discovery of anthracite, the case is 
vastly differ'fent when it comes to conferring honors upon those who adapted 
this commodity to practical uses. Upon Obediah Gore, Jr., and his brother 
Daniel, all historians, both local and national, confer the distinction of having 
first used it, at Wyoming or anywhere else, in their smith forge. The Gore brothers, 
as will be found from a sketch of their lives, on page 831 of this History, came to 
Wyoming in 1762, scarcely more than boys in years. They came again in the 
Spring of 1769, as settlers, having learned the trade of blacksmith in the interim. 
Being the first arrivals skilled at the trade, they immediately set up a forge at 
Wilkes-Barre and began experiments in the use of anthracite as a substitute 
for charcoal, then generally employed. By fall of that year, their experiments 
were regarded as successful, and other blacksmiths in various parts of the neigh- 
borhood were learning that stone coal, when properly ignited and as properly 
fanned by a bellows, was superior to any other fuel for generating an intense heat. 
Indeed, to the experiments of the Gores, as later reference in the present Chapter 
will disclose, may be attributed a main argument for the trade in coal which 
was later to spring up. 

A temporary, albeit short lived, new use for Wyoming's stone coal, came 
near the close of the Revolution. Pearce, as well as others who have used him 
as their authority, states that two boat loads of anthracite were shipped from 
the Mill Creek opening at Wilkes-Barre, to the government arsenal at Carlisle, 
in 1776, and there used in the manufacture of army ordnance. 

The attention of Dr. W. H. Eggle, while State Librarian, having been called 
to this and other statements bearing on the subject, that authority pubhshed the 

following, relative to the matter: 

"The authorities referred to in your question (Pearce and others) are somewhat out of thi- 
way. On the 25th of November, 1780, the Congress Resolved, That all the artificers in the de- 
partment of military stores in Pennsylvania be removed to Carlisle, and that in future only an 
issuing store and an elaboratory for fixing ammunition be kept in Philadelphia. Immediately 
thereafter, Col. Blaine was directed to prepare stores, etc., for the troops, and during the month 
of December, 1780, nearly all the artificers were sent to Carhsle. The barracks erected by the 
Hessian prisoners confined at Carlisle, now the site of the present Indian training school, were 
occupied by these men, and over whom Captain Worsley Emes, a skilled artificer, was placed in 
command. The location is named in private letters of the period as Washington Borough and 
Washingtonville. There is no doubt that coal from Wyoming was there used in the casting of 
cannon, as it could have been more readily brought down the river Susquehanna in batteaux, 
than the hauling of sea coal from Philadelphia for that purpose. It is well known that provisions 
were taken up the Susquehanna, and as coal was then known and probably mined, the batteaux 
in returning evidently conveyed the same to Kelso's ferry, opposite Harrisburg." 

In all probability, Pearce was incorrect as to date, but correct in asserting 
that some twenty tons of Wyoming product went into the manufacture of guns 
then, and later, used. 

Whatever encouragement may have resulted from these experiments in 
adapting anthracite to the limited uses of scattered settlements convenient to 
the source of supply, the fact remains that for nearly a quarter century there- 
after but sHght attention was devoted to its exploitation in a commercial way. 


Wood was plentiful, while charcoal was readily obtainable from selected 
varieties of nearby orrowth. Morever, the labor involved in converting timber 
from clearings to woodpiles was reckoned at little or nothing. 

As an estimate of the value in which coal was held, in the year 1805, the 
Luzerne Federalist, of June 29th, published the following: 

"Whereas in times past it has been made a jiractice for Blacksmiths and others, to take what 
stone coal they made use of, from the River hank just l)elo\v the subscribers dwelling house in 
Pittston, and in other places belonging to him he thinks it i)roper to inform them that for everv 
bushel in future, he will expect six cents. Any person neglecting to apply to lines, and make a 
return of the quantity, will be prosecuted without resjjcct to persons. 

"Pittston, June 26, 1805. ' "Thomas Wright." 

But men of vision were to become pioneers in the anthracite industry just 
as they have arisen to become captains of other great enterprises in America. 
In 1792, a year following the Ginter find near Mauch Chunk, an unincorporated 
company, with Colonel Jacob Weiss, as chief stockholder, was formed for the 
purpose of developing the discovery. This was called the Lehigh Coal Mining 
Company, the first of its kind in the United vStates. In 1803, this company 
succeeded in getting two of a fleet of five arks, which they had loaded at the mine, 
down the Lehigh and Delaware rivers to Philadelphia. The shipment on the 
two arks aggregated about thirty tons, the other arks having been sunk bv 
striking treacherous rocks. Finding no purchasers of the "black rocks," pro- 
moters of the enterprise finally decided to donate the cargos for use under the 
boilers of the pumping station of the city water works. The first charge merely 
served to put out the fire, and those who had shown their faith in the under- 
taking were pronounced imposters and the coal, eventually, was broken up 
and used for sidewalks. 

It was not until the year 1807, that Wyoming contributed its eft'orts to 
the shipment of anthracite for commercial purposes. 

In the year 1806, Abijah vSmith, of Derby, Connecticut, purchased a tract 
of seventy-five acres of coal land on the east side of Ransom's Creek, in 
Plymouth Township, at a price of S500. In the vSpring of 1807, he commenced 
mining in the crude fashion of the time. With pick and wedge he drove a \' 
shaped opening in the outcrop vein, which inclines at that point nearly 
sixty degrees. 

His predecessors in first relieving Wyoming of its immeasurable natural 
treasures, had done so as an adjunct to their main business in life. He came 
prepared to make the mining and exploitation of anthracite his sole occupation. 
As a means to this end, he purchased an ark, as the crude river craft which was 
to be broken up at the end of its down-river vovage, was then termed, in con- 
tradistinction to the Durham boat, which was much more expensively con- 
structed along lines that permitted it to be poled against the current. This 
ark had brought down a cargo of plaster from York vState, for John P. Arndt 
and, the mission being ended, it was disposed of for the sum of twenty-four dollars. 
The craft was floated from the Arndt landing to Plymouth and loaded \yith some 
fifty tons of coal from the vSmith mine. On an r)ctober freshet, Mr. vSmith and 
a carefully selected crew of neighbors began a momentous voyage which ended 
safely at Columbia, Lancaster County. 

But disappointment was to attend the enterprise of Mr. Smith, just as 
it had dampened the ardor of others who had attempted to sell an innovation 
in fuel on the Philadelphia market. He induced some of the blacksmiths at 


Home of Wyoming Historical and 
Geological Society 

69 South Franklin Street. Wilkes-Barre, Founded 1858 

Columbia to try it, but they preferred relying on charcoal as was their custom. 
Leaving the coal on the river bank and selling the ark for what it would bring, 
the Plymouth men returned home, late in the fall, with the first year's commercial 
operations a total failure. 

A trick of fate was to revive the hopes of Abijah Smith and re-establish 
his faith in the ultimate success of an industry whose handicaps then appeared 
insurmountable. In February, 1808, 
came the announcement from Wilkes- 
Barre that Judge Jesse Fell* had suc- 
cessfully burned anthracite in an open 
grate, without the use of an air blast! 
Of this incident more, perhaps, 
has been written by way of local ac- 
count than of any other in Wyoming's 
history having to do with peace time 
events. Without considering at this 
time the relative claims as to whether 
this was the first time anthracite was 
thus consumed, it is the province of a 
historian to seek, from among many 
narratives of the event, the under- 
lying story of its circumstances. 

It may have been that the place of 
the experiment had much to do with its 
fame. The following word picture of the "Old Fell Tavern" was drawn b}^ the 
late Hon. Stanley Woodward, of Wilkes-Barre, on November 20, 1893, when the 
Wyoming Historical and Geological vSociety took possession of its present home 
on South Franklin Street: 

"Just before the close of the last century there was built at what is now the corner of North- 
ampton and Washington Streets in this city, the first inn or tavern of which we have any tradition. 
It was erected by Jesse Fell, and was known as the Fell Tavern. The structure was of logs and 
a small section of it is still standing. The tavern from time immemorial has been an institution 
of great importance among English speaking people. The German has his garden, the Frenchman 

♦Joseph Fell, son of John and Margaret Fell, was bom at Longlands. in the parish of Rochdale, County of Cumber- 
land, England, October 19, 1668. He learned the trade of carpenter and joiner with John Bond, of Wheelbarrow Hill, 
near Carlisle, and worked at it as long as he remained in England. He married Elizabeth Wilson, of Cumberland, 
in 1698, and in 1705, immigrated to America with his wife and two children. They sailed in the Cumberland, and made 
the capes of Virginia in twenty-nine days from Belfast. Landing at the mouth of the Potomac, they made their way 
by land and water via Choptank, Frenchtown, and Newcastle, where they took boat for Bristol, Bucks County, Penn- 
sylvania. He died in Buckingham, in the same county, in 1753. The family were members of the Society of Friends 
or Quakers. 

Thomas Fell, the eighth child of Joseph Fell, married Jane Kirk, of the County of Bucks. Their first child was Jesse 
Fell, who was bom in Buckingham, April 16, 1751. On August 20, 1775, Jesse Fell and Hannah Welding, of Bucks 
County, were joined in marriage by Isaac Hicks, Esq., one of the Justices of the Peace of Bucks County, "by virtue of 
a marriage license by them produced under the hand and seal of the Hon. John Penn, Esq., Governor and Commander 
and Commander-in-Chief of the Province of Pennsylvania." In the latter part of the year 1785, Jesse Fell removed, 
with his wife and four children, to the Wyoming Valley for the purpose of engaging in mercantile pursuits. He 
purchased the property at the corner of Washington and Northampton streets, and since known by his name, 
for forty pounds, on December 21, 1787. Here he carried on a store and tavern for many years. For a long time it 
was the sojourning place of the judges and lawyers upon the circuit, and the rendezvous of many local celebrities. 
During 1797-98-99 the Sheriff's sales of real e.'-tate were held at the "Buck," as Mr. Fell's tavern was named. Mr. 
Fell continued to occupy these premises and to keep open house until his death, and for many years thereafter the place 
was, and is now, known as "the Old Fell House." On October 21, 1789, the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsyl- 
vania commissioned Mr. Fell. Sheriff of Luzerne County for two years. On October 23, 1790. Sheriff Fell was re- 
commissioned, and served a further term of two years. On January 10. 1792, Mr. Fell was appointed Lieutenant of 
the County of Luzerne, by Thomas Mifflin, Governor of Pennsylvania. On April 1 1, 1793, Governor Mifflin appointed 
Mr. Fell, Brigade Inspector of the Luzerne Militia brigade, for the term of seven years. Although he was a Quaker and 
a professed non-combatant, Mr. Fell accepted the office and performed the duties thereof until the spring of 1798, when 
he was succeeded by Putnam Catlin, a member of the Luzerne County bar. Major Fell's first military experience has 
been described as follows: "On the morning of the first parade of his brigade he took it into his head to drill a little 
himself. Dressed in full regimentals, he marched out on the back porch of his house, and, placing himself in a military 
attitude with his sword drawn, exclaimed 'Attention, Battalion! Rear rank three paces to the rear. March!' and he 
tumbled down into the cellar. His wife, hearing the racket, came running out saying, 'Oh! Jesse, has thee killed thy- 
self!' 'Go to, Hannah,' said the hero; 'what does thee know about war?' " On February 5, 1798, Mr. Fell was appointed 
by Governor Miflin an Associate Judge of the courts of Luzerne County, to serve during good behaviour. This position 
he filled with dignity and credit for a period of thirty-two years and a half, and terminated only by his death. In 1798, 
Mr. Fell was appointed Town Clerk of Wilkes-Barre, which position he held for several years. While the Commission- 
ers, Judge Thomas Cooper, General John Steele and William Wilson, were settling the contested land claims, under 


has his cafe, but the Enghshman prefers his inn. The EngHsh instinct on this subject was expressed 
by Dr. Johnson, when sitting in the Mitre Tavern, he .said to Boswell, 'there is nothing which has 
yet been contrived by man by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn,' 
and by Wilham Shenstone, when he scratched with a diamond upon a pane of glass in an okl 
English tavern, the lines: 

'Whoe'er has traveled life's dull round, 

Where'er his stages may have been, 

May sigh to think he still has found 

The warmest welcome at an inn.' 

"The old Fell tavern was after the fashion of an English inn. The county of Luzerne iiad 
just been organized, a court established, and Wilkes-Barre was beginning to assume the honorable 
and important position of the county town. The judges and lawyers and jurymen t he parties 
and their witnesses, all the people who came to court must liave a place to 'put up,' as the phrase 
was. Lines of stages were being established and occasionally a traveler from a distance would 
want accommodation. I have had, from a former resident of this city, now deceased, and who, 
upon his first visit to Wilkes-Barre, was for a short time a guest of the P^ell tavern, a descrijjtion 
of the customs of that day. The living or sitting room was big and well furnished with old-fashioned 
high back, spht wood chairs; a large fire-place in which great logs of hickory wood were Inirning 

The Old Fell Tavern 
so brightly as to furnish both light and heat, made a winter's evening cheery and attractive to 
all comers; at one end a modest assortment of decanters containing the various beverages with 
which our ancestors were wont to steriHze their water; a barrel of cider on tap in the corner; 
the atmosphere redolent of tobacco; the ornaments on the walls consisting chiefly of rifles and 
powder horns and antlers, interspersed with relics of the Wyoming Massacre, and of the Indian 
sway in the valley, with, here and there, a rough portrait of some revolutionary hero. There were 
less than five hundred people in W' ilkes-Barre then, but a large percentage of the men folk gathered 
nightly in winter in the big room of the tav^ern, and sat around the wood fire and discussed the 
affairs of the time, crops, prices, politics, rehgion, the luck of the hunter who had just come home 
to get a wagon to haul in his game, the prospect of a good spring for shad in the Susquehanna, 
the coming lawsuit to be tried at the next term of the court, and the merits of the opposing counsel 
(there were then but four lawyers at the bar) — all these and many other such themes the stranger 

the Compromise Act, of 1799, Judge Fell was constantly employed as their Clerk. He was from the beginning their 
right hand man — for information or for advice — and his services were ine^tim ■ . la 1804, he was appointed .Assis- 
tant Clerk to the County Commissioners. This position he held until January. 1819, when he was appointed Clerk 
and in this office he continued until his death. Few men wrote so plain and beautiful a hand as Judge Fell, his hand- 
writing was indeed so excellent as to be an enviable accomplishment, and was of much value to him. On March 17. 
1806, the act incorporating the Borough of Wilkes-Barre was passed by the Legislature of Pennsylvania. Judge Fell 
was named in the act as a Commissioner to issue the proclamation for holding the first election for borough officers. 
The proclamation was issued April 15th. and the election held May 6th. He was elected Burgess, and served in that 
office for one year. Subsequently, he served four terms as Burgess, from 1814to 1818. He was a member of the Borough 
council for many years, and he served as its President from May, 1809. to May, 1810; May, 181 1, to May, 1814, and May, 
1820, to May, 1823. He was a member of the first Board of Trustees of the Wilkes-Barre Academy, which was incor- 
porated March 19. 1807, and filled that position until his death, in 18.'iO. He was four years Secretary, and three years. 
President, of the board. 

In 1810. the Luzerne County Agricultural Society was organized, and Judge Fell was its first President. From 
1812 to 1814, he was Treasurer of the Bridgewater and Wilkes-Barre Turnpike Company, operating that part of the 
road running from Wilkes-Barre to Tunkhannock; and for a number of years he was one of the managers, and. in 1824, 
President of the Easton and Wilkes-Barre Turnpike Company. In 1845, Fell Township, Luzerne (now Lackawanna 
County, was organized, and was named in honor of Judge Fell. 

Mr. Fell left surviving him three sons and five daughters. Sarah Fell, his third child and second daughter, married 
Joseph Slocum, of Wilkes-Barre, in 1800. Mrs. Fell died March 7, 1816, and Judge Fell died August 5, 18.30 


heard the old settlers talking about, as they sipped their hot sling on a winter's evening in the 
old Fell tavern, in the year of our Lord 1800. 

"But the old tavern had other attractions. The upper floor was so constructed that the 
whole space could be transformed into a ball room, and here, during the sessions of court and 
on other grand occasions, the girls and the matrons as well as the men paced through the stately 
minuet or threaded the maze of the cotillion, and during many a festive night 'soft eyes looked 
love to eyes which spoke again and all went merry as a marriage bell.' I have in my possession 
a diary kept, as was the fashion by the young ladies of that day, apparently for the double purpose 
of a confessional and conscience-prodder, and as an abstract of the time, also, in which the writer 
describes a ball on the evening of St. John's Day, at the Fell tavern, in the year 1803. That the 
hilarity of the occasion was somehow overdone, may be fairly inferred from the statement that 
'some of the gentlemen on the floor might better have been in their beds.' 

"In the main room of this tavern, Jesse Fell, on the 11th, February, 1808, first tried the 
experiment of burning anthracite coal in a common grate. It is not claimed as is sometimes 
erroneously stated, that this was the first use of our coal as a heat producer. It had been for 
several years employed by blacksmiths in their shops, where, by means of the draft from the 
liellows, it had been easily ignited and made to burn. And while there were. earlier experiments 
in the use of Anthracite 'coal as a fuel for domestic purposes, there is no satisfactory evidence that 
it had come into common use as a house fuel, or had superseded the use of wood for that purpose, 
until the discoverv made by Fell. 

"By a coincidence which, in view of subsequent events, may be regarded as noteworthy, 
it so happened that on the 11th day of February, 1858, exactly fifty years later, four men were 
riding together in a carriage on a road leading to this city. One of them, James P. Dennis, a 
grandson of Jesse Fell, had upon that day, by a mere accident, taken up this 'Illustration of 
INIasonry' and examined its contents, but without any particular reference to the entry on the 
flv leaf to which I have referred. Being interrupted, he had put the Iwok in his pocket, and while 
driving produced it, and called attention to the entry. While this was being examined, it suddenly 
occurred to one man of the party, that it was the exact fiftieth anniversary day of the event. 
It was at once resolved that .something should be done to commemorate the occasion. A meeting 
of a number of the prominent gentlemen of the town was called for that evening, at the Old Fell 
tavern, which was still a public house. An old grate was procured — said to have been the original 
one, but for this I do not vouch — and set up in the ancient fireplace. A fire was built, and around 
it'gathered a number of young antiquarians, all inspired with the thought that they were assembled 
in the very room, and about the very hearthstone, where anthracite coal had been first burned as 
a fuel. It would be neither possible nor perhaps profitable, to recall all that was said and done, 
but you will be interested in knowing that it was at this meeting, thus hastily convened, that a 
plan of permanent organization was adopted, which became the foundation of the Wyoming 
Historical and Geological Society. Of the four men who were driving together upon that day, 
the present speaker was one, and of the four is now the sole survivor. The others were Henry M. 
Hoyt, J. Butler Conyngham, and James P. Dennis. The proceedings of the meeting at the old 
tavern were carefully preserved, and are now spread in full upon the records of this Society." 

It is difficult to imagine by what roundabout methods the human mind 
sometimes approaches a simple task. 

The use of anthracite for domestic purposes had long been a matter of 
discussion. Various were the suggestions made. The Gores having demonstrated 
that it would burn on a smith's hearth with an air blast, ingenious devices were 
contrived to supplant the needed blast for the home fires. Clock work machinery, 
driven by a weight or spring was the suggestion from one source. An air tube, 
coming up through the hearth underneath the grate, was an idea emanating 
from another budding genius. Complicated contrivances of all sorts for supply- 
ing forced draughts were in the minds of many. 

To Judge Fell, the idea of a natural air current, set in motion by heat from 
the fire itself, seemed worth trying. 

In a lecture on "Mineral Coal" delivered by Volney L. Maxwell, Esq., 
read at Institute Hall, Wilkes-Barre, on the fiftieth anniversary of Judge Fell's 
experiment (reprinted in Vol. XVII: 95, Proceedings of the Wyoming Histor- 
. ical and Geological vSociety) the speaker asserted that, on authority of 
some of those who saw the experiment, the original grate used was 
fashioned from green hickory in order to test the Judge's ideas. This state- 
ment is at variance with that of other writers on the subject who assert that 
the Judge, being a practical blacksmith himself, would naturally think 
in terms of substantial iron rather than in the most artful contrivance of 


wood. According to the Johnson narrative* the Judge made at least one private ex- 
periment before he invited an incredulous public to view the results of his efforts. 

vStill anotlier account of a private experiment came in the form of a 
letter to the Society from Col. John 
Miner Carey Marble, of Los Angeles, 
California, dated July 15, 1903, which 
purports to give the recollections of 
David Thomas, t an eye witness to 
the event. According to the Thomp- 
son version, as narrated in the let- 
ter, a preliminary trial of the Judge's 
ideas was demonstrated in a grate 
constructed by laying "some pieces 
of iron about two feet long upon the 
andirons, which were placed against 
the chimney wall. They then laid 
brick flat on the end of the irons and 
laid iron on the brick in front four 
inches high." 

Whatever contrivances were used 
in these preliminary experiments, eye 
witnesses and others concur in the 
assertion that when the Judge was 
fully satisfied that the time had 
arrived for a public demonstration, he 
helped fashion an iron grate of his 
own design in the nearby blacksmith 
shop of his nephew, ltd ward l*\'ll. 
Setting the grate wdth brick in the bar- 
room of the tavern, the Judge issued 

invitations to his rather dubious and amused friends, that a coal lire would add 
to the conviviality of a gathering on the following evening. A majority of ac- 
counts of the experiment quote the entry made by the Judge on the fly leaves of 
a valued book "The Free Mason's Monitor" (now in possession of the W'yoming 
Historical and Geological vSociety) which reads as follows: 

"February 11th, of Masonry 5S()<S. Made the experiment of l)urning the common stone 
coal of the valley in a grate, in a common fireplace in my house, and find it will answer the purpose 
of fuel, making a clearer and better fire, at less exi^ense, than burning wood in the common wav. 

"February Ilth, 1808. ' JKSSE Fei.l." 

Few early historians, however, were acquainted with a letter, describing 
the experiment in detail, which was written by the Judge, in lcS26, to his cousin, 

*The following information, known as the "Johnson .Account. " was furnished the Wyoming Historical and (•eo- 
^raphical Society on January 18, 191 2. by Jesse T Morgan of Wilkes- Barre: 

"Regarding .Solomon Johnson who assisted Judge Fell in the fir^t burning of Anthracite coal for domestic purposes. 
He was a son-in-law of Judge Fell, a blacksmith l)y trade. While working in the blacksmith shop of Judge Fell, when- 
they were burning Anthracite coal in the forge, they frequently discussed the u-;e of Anthracite for domestic purposes 
and determined upon a trial which was made in that portion of Judge Fell's house known as the jca v/i room. They put 
up the grate, filled it with coal placing the kindling on top, which then was the custom in igniting charcoal They 
worked with bellows until they became discouraged, and then piled lots of kindling on top the coal and left the room. 
Sometime afterward it was noticed through the windows that the room was all aglow, whereupon opening the door they 
observed the glory of the first grate of l)urning .Anthracite coal. 

"Nancy Johnson from whom this narrative was taken, was the only issue of .Solomon Johnson and Judge Fell's 
<laughter .She lived with Judge Fell at the time of the incident and remembered distinctly the details of the burning, 
which she related to me at times when she was impressive and I receptive. 

"Nancy Johnson married Jacob Hann, with whom she lived at Huntington Mills. I.uzerne County He was a black- 
smith who, prior to marriage, made his home with Judge Fell." 

tDavid Thompson was an early resident of Wyoming. He was Postmaster of Nanticoke in 18.^0. and Justice in 
1840; married .Susan Taylor, and was the father of Dr. William Thompson of Luzerne, Surgeon l.S.^d, 42d and 198th 
I'ennsylvania Volunteers, 1862-186.S. 

JUD(;ii Jksse FliLL 

From a Silhouette — the only likeness of Judge Fell 

in existence 


Jonathan Fell, Treasurer of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, and 
read February 21, 1827, before the Council of Pennsylvania Historical Society, 
in whose possession the original now remains. The letter follows: 
"Esteemed Cousin: "Wilkes-Barre, Dec. 1st, 1826." 

"When I saw thee last I believe I promised to write thee and give some data about the 
first discovery and use of the Stone Coal in our valley. (I call it stone coal because everybody 
knows what is meant by that name.) 

"The late Judge Gore in his lifetime informed me that he and his brother, the late Capt. 
Daniel Gore (both being blacksmiths), were the first that discovered and used this coal in their 
blacksmith's fires, and found it to answer their purpose well. This was before the Revolutionary 
War, and as near as I can collect the information, about the year 1770 or 1771, and it has been in 
use ever since by blacksmiths of the place. 

"In the year 1787, I used it in a nailery, and found it to be profitable in that business. The 
nails made with it would net the weight of the rods and frequently a balance over. But it was the 
opinion of those that worked it in their furnaces that it would not do for fuel, because when a 
small parcel was left on their fires and not blown, it would go out. 

"Notwithstanding this opinion prevailed, I had for some time entertained the idea that if 
a sufficient body of it was ignited, it would burn. Accordingly, in the month of February, 1808, 
I procured a grate made of small iron rods, ten inches in depth and ten inches in height, and set 
it up in my common room fireplace, and on first lighting, I found it to burn excellently well. 

"This was the first successful attempt to burn our stone coal in a grate, so far as my know- 
ledge extends*. 

"On its being put in operation my neighbors flocked to see the novelty, but many would 
• not believe the fact until convinced by ocular demonstration. 

"Such was the effect of this pleasing discovery that in a few days there were a number of 
grates put in operation. This brought the stone coal into popular notice. 

"I need not mention the many uses to which it may be applied, as you who are in the coal 
concern have the means of knowing its value. 

"I find we have various qualities of coal, but our best specimens are said to be superior 
to any yet known, and we have it in sufficient quantity to supply the world. 

"Here it is — but the best way of getting it to market is yet to be discovered. The market 
at present is down the Susquehanna River, but great improvements must be made in the river 
ere it can be a safe and sure conveyance. Looking forward, Wilkes-Barre is but eleven miles from 
Lehigh below the junction of all the creeks you pass from Pokono to Wilkes-Barre mountain. 
This I suppose is known and I believe the principal transport of our coal will in time j^ass down 
the Lehigh; but this I do not expect to live to see. 

"I am thy affectionate cousin. 

Upon the visit of Prof. Benjamin vSilliman, 
of Yale College, to Wilkes-Barre, in 1829, the dis- 
tinguished scientist obtained an interview with 
Judge Fell, the substance of which was printed in 
Silliman's Journal, Vol. VIII, July, 1830, as follows: 

"There has been some inquiry as to whom and lay whom this coal was first used. The late 
Judge Obadiah Gore, a blacksmith by trade, came into this valley as a Connecticut settler, at 
an early day, and he himself informed me that he was the first person that used the coal of this 
region in a blacksmith's fire; it was about the year 1768 or 1769. He found it to answer well for 
this purpose, and the blacksmiths of this place (Wilkes-barre) have used it in their forges ever since. 
I find no older tradition of its being used in a fire than the above account. About forty-two years 
ago I had it used in a nailery; I found it to answer well for making wrought nails, and instead of 
losing in the weight of the rods, the nails exceeded the weight of the rods, which was not the case 
when they were wrought in a charcoal fire. There is another advantage in working with this 
coal — the heat being superior to that of any other fire; the iron is sooner heated, and I believe a 
blacksmith may do at least one-third more work in a day than he could do with a charcoal fire. 

"From observation I had conceived an idea that if a body of this coal was ignited and con- 
fined together, it would burn as a fuel. To try the experiment, in the month of February, 1808, 
I had a grate constructed for the purpose, eight inches in depth and eight inches in height, with 
feet eight inches high, and about twenty-two inches long, (the length is immaterial, as that may 
be regulated to suit its length or convenience) and the coal, after being ignited in it, burned beyond 
the most sanguine expectation. A more beautiful fire could not be imagined, it being clear and 
without smoke. This was the first instance of success, in burning this coal in a grate, in a common 
fireplace, of which I have any knowledge ; and this experiment first brought our coal into use for 
winter fires, (without any patent right.) 

"When, how, or of what matter it (coal) was formed I do not know and do not ever expect 
to know, but its usefulness we do know and appreciate, still believing its use to be as yet only in 
its infancy." 

As to whether the experimental iron grate used by Judge Fell is still in 
existence and, if so, who owns it, have been matters of controversy for nearly 


a century. It will be noted from the vSilliman interview that Judge Fell speci- 
ficallv described the dimensions of the grate he used. It is an easy matter to 
eliminate the hickory grate of the Maxwell narrative and the bai' and brick grate 
mentioned in the Marble letter. But still others contend for the honor. When 
the four founders of the present Wyoming Historical and Geological vSocietv 
so fortuitously assembled in the tap room of the Old Fell Tavern to commem- 
orate the fiftieth anniversary of the experiment, there was no i^rate in the then 
yawning fireplace. Judge Stanley Woodward, in mentioning the occasion, 
stated that "an old grate was procured, said to have been the original one, but 
for this I do not vouch." 

Old Fell Tavern Room and Grate 

From a drawing in possession of Wyoming Historical and Geological Society. 

His recollection of the celebration is amply substantiated by Mrs. B. G. 
Carpenter, a granddaughter of Judge Fell, who, in 1907, shortly before her 
death, made record of the fact that Capt. James P. Dennis called at her house 
on February 11, 1858, and asked her the loan of a grate to temporarily install 
in the fireplace. She further stated that the grate loaned by her for the occasion 
was one that had come from the old tavern and had long been used in a bedroom 
of her home, but, being then considered unsafe, had been removed and a modern 
grate installed. The whereabouts of this grate are at present unknown. 

William Penn Miner, who acted as Secretary of the gathering held in 1858, 
corroborates Mrs. Carpenter in stating that the borrowed grate was one used by 
Judge Fell, and also narrates that Josiah Lewis at that time claimed to have the 
Simon pure grate used by the Judge. Descendants of Mr. Lewis however, know 
nothing of the existence of any such grate. 

From these circumstances, both the Carpenter and Lewis grates seem to be 
out of the running insofar as present interest is concerned. 

The grate at present wahed into a part of the old Fell Tavern chimney, 
fortunately preserved when the present structure was erected, in 1893, at the 
corner of Northampton and Washington streets, has a peculiar history. 


No grate at all was there in 1848. Again in 1878, no grate was found, when 
it was determined to hold another meeting in the then standing Tavern, during^ 
the celebration of the centenary of the Battle of Wyoming. 

Capt. Calvin Parsons loaned an old grate in his possession upon that occa- 
sion in order to provide the customary coal fire for this gathering. vShortly there- 
after. Captain Parsons sought to have the grate returned to him but the landlord 
refused, claiming that it was the original Fell grate and belonged there. As 
Captain Parsons never made claim to its being a grate even used by Judge Fell. 
but was one made for his own home, the present Fell House grate is therefore 
dismissed as having any claim to historic honors. 

This leaves a final claimant to be disposed of. It is known as the KiemaH 
or Eich grate and is now in possession of the Wyoming Historical and Geological 
.Society, an illustration of which is here shown. 
In the WiJkes-Barre Advocate of February 14, 
1858, the following letter was pubHshed indi- 
cative of the history of this commonly accep- 
ted representative of one of the grates used by 
Judge Fell: 

"From the granddaughter of Mrs. Hannah C. 
Fell I have the following statement: Mrs. Fell's daugh- 
ter by a former husband, married Patrick Kiernan* and 
lived with her mother in the old Fell house until the 
Judge died, in 1830, when they moved to Canal 
street. But her mother, Mrs. Hannah C. Fell, was un- 
willing to leave the grate behind and took the grate with 
her to Canal street and used it many years. It was the 
first grate in which Judge Fell burned coal. On the 
night that it was first used, Judge Fell had a party and 
they danced by the light of the fire and one candle. He 
made the grate in the blacksmith shop of his nephew, 
back of the Fell house. He also made others, but did Kiurnan or High Grate 

not like them as well as this. I was born in 1844. Now in possession of the Wyoming Historical 

My Grandmother Kiernan, who died in 1880, gave and Geological Society, 

me the grate the year before she died. It is now at my son's. 21 Exeter Lane, Wilkes-Barre. 

"Signed, Mrs. John Eich, 

"Phillipsburg, N. J." 

The above mentioned grate was obtained from William McKenna, in whose 
possession it was at the time of transfer. It measures 24>^ inches in length, 
11 inches in width, is 9 inches deep, stands on four legs, and is 18 inches high. 
When compared with the dimensions given by Judge Fell, it is not the grate he 
first constructed, but its pedigree, back to the early times of the (31d Fell Tavern 
seems reasonably satisfactory and we can be content in the thought that its 
cheerful glow, either in 1808, or soon thereafter, was a comfort and satisfaction 
to one of Wilkes- Barre's distinguished citizens. 

F"rom the tone of Judge Fell's own description of his experiment, one may 
gather that he believed his effort was the first successful attempt thus to burn 
anthracite. His generosity was manifest, as he states, in making no attempt to 
patent his experimental grate. Instead, he invited in the neighborhood to witness 
a new and practical use of coal and doubtless, in the smith-shop of his son-in- 
law, he helped fashion grates for others with no thought of reward. The historian 
may never detract from the large heartedness of the man, or lessen in any degree, 
the historical fact that Judge Fell first disseminated the full and unrestricted know- 
ledge of his discoveries to the world at large. 

, f^.'^J-'"'^'^ Kiernan was a teacher in Wilkes-Barre from 186.5 to 187:! and perhaps earlier; grocer 187.^ to 1879 
clerk 18/9 to 1884, when he died. 






There is honor enough to this pioneer, to his descendants and to the city 
of his experiment in thus resting his case. 

The fact remains, that anthracite, as well as bituminous coal, were success- 
fully burned in grates and peculiarly constructed stoves, several years before Judge 
Fell became interested in the effort that brought him lasting fame. 

We may, in passing, turn to authentic records in proof of this statement. 
For many years, partisans of Jacob Cist* maintained that he knew how to burn 
and actually did burn anthracite several years before the Fell experiment. Mr. 
Cist, during his lifetime made no such claim. Indeed, he and Judge Fell were 
the best of friends and no controversy between them ever arose. It was not until 
the vear 1808 that Mr. Cist came to Wilkes-Barre, having before that time lived 
with his father Charles Cist, at Philadelphia. Charles Cist and Col. Jacob 
Weiss were partners, in 1792, in the Lehigh Coal Mining Company, before 
mentioned, and became owners of nearly 10,000 acres of coal lands in Carbon 
County, later purchased and still owned by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation 
Company, as a major portion of its anthracite holdings. Through his father's 
experiments in mining and marketing the first shipment of Mauch Chunk coal 
to Philadelphia, Jacob Cist was familiar with possibilities of anthracite develop- 
ment and was in correspondence with friends who were attempting to contrive 
wavs and means of burning the "black stones." One of these was Oliver Evans, 
the inventor. It is upon letters written to Mr. Cist by Oliver Evans and later 
bv Mr. Frederick Graflf, also of Philadelphia, that evidence of priority of disco verv 
of burning anthracite without an air blast rests. The letters follow: 

"Being requested to give my opinion of the qualities of the Lehi coals, I do certify to those 
whom it may concern that I have experienced the use of them in a close stove and also in a fire. 

*Jacob Cist, eldest son of Charles and Mary Cist, was born in Philadelphia, on March 13. 1782. On September 
'~. 1794. when only a little over twelve years of age, his father sent him to the Moravian boarding school, at Nazareth 
in Northampton County. Pa., where he remained 
three years, leaving on June 10, 1797, after complet- 
ing the established course of study at that time 
required, which, besides a thorough study of all the 
iirdinary English branches, included a knowledge of 
I -reek, Latin, German, and French. His love for 
ind talent of easily acquiring languages he seem^ 
to have inherited from his father, who was an 
.iccomplished and enthusiastic linguist, and the 
knowledge derived from a three years' course 
under competent teachers was the groundwork 
upon which he perfected himself in after years 
Here. too. under the old French drawing-master. 
M. A. Benade, he acquired a considerable know 
iedge of drawing and painting. He was particu- 
i arly happy in catching a likeness. On his return to 
Philadelphia, in 1797, he assisted his father in the 
printing office, devoting his spare hours to study, 
.ind in the year 1800, when his father purchased 
property in Washington City and erected a print- 
ing office there, he went to that place to take charge 
of the office Upon his father's relinquishing the 
l>usiness in Washington he determined to locate 
there, and applying for a clerkship, secured one in 
the postoffice department, which he retained from 
the fall of 1800 until he removed to Wilkes-Barre 
in the year 1808. So well satisfied were Post 
Master General Granger and his successors, with 
the capabilities of Mr. Cist, that upon his arrival in 
this city, he was appointed Post master, which 
office he retained until his death, in 1825. thus 
having been for a quarter of a century in the em 
ploy of the postoffice department. His father, 
writing to him in 1802, says: "As it is to your good 
conduct in the federal city that I chiefly ascribe the 
confidence the postmaster general places in you and 
the kindness he shows in procuring you an advan- 
tageous post, I cannot refrain of recommending you 
the same conduct in your future stages of life as the 
-urest means of forwarding yourself in the worltl 
with credit and reputation." His spare time in 
Washington he appears to have devoted principally 
to painting and literature He has left a good 
picture of Mr. Jefferson and an admirable copy of 
f'Tilbert Stuart's portrait of Mrs. Madison, which 
^he permitted him to paint, and a number of mini- 
atures. Being obliged to mix his own paints, and Photo-reproduction of an original miniature painted l)y himself 

Jacob Cist 


not finding a mill to suit, he invented one and patented it in the year 1803. He was a contributor to The Literary 
Magazine as early as 1804, and to Charles Miner's paper in Wilkes-Barre. Mr. Miner writes, under date of Novem- 
ber 28, 1806: "I am charmed with your piece on 'Morning.' It possesses all the life, spirit, and variety of that charm- 
ing season." 

He contributed to the Port Folio from 1808 to 1816. The publishers, writing to him in 1809, said "We have to 
acknowledge many interesting and valuable communications from you. We rank you among our most valuable cor- 
respondents and will hope for a continuance of your favors." His communications to this magazine were many and 
varied; at one time it was poetry, at another the description of some new machine, sometimes over the letters "J. C." 
and others over the letter "C." Many of the old settlers will still remember his sketches with pen and pencil of "Sol- 
omon's Falls" and "Buttermilk Falls." In the May number, 1809, is a drawing and description by him of Mr. Birde's 
"Columbian Spinster;" in the March number, 1811, a drawing and description of "Eve's Cotton Gin," and in the 
October number, 1812, an "Ode on Hope." 

Jacob Cist was married, on August 25, 1807, by the Rev. Ard Hoyt, to Sarah HoUenback, daughter of Judge 
Matthias HoUenback, of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., whom Charles Miner at that time described as "a charming little girl, 
apparently about sixteen years old, the natural rose on her cheek heightened by exercise, and a sweet smile playing 
about her lips." On her mother's side she was descended from old New England stock. Mrs. HoUenback's father, 
Peleg Burritt, Jr., was a grandson of Ensign Stephen Burritt who, according to Hinman, was "a famous Indian fighter," 
and Commissary General to the army in King Phillip's war, and his father, William Burritt, the first of the name in 
this country, was an original settler in Stratford, Connecticut, prior to 1650. Her mother, whose maiden name was 
Deborah Beardslee was the granddaughter of Ebenezer Booth, the son of Richard Booth, by his wife Elizabeth (Hawley) 
who was living in Stratford, in the year 1640. Her father's grandfather was a landholder in Pennsylvania as early as 

After his marriage he returned to Washington and remained there until the spring of 1808, when he removed to 
Wilkes-Barre and entered into partnership with his father-in-law, under the firm name of HoUenback & Cist, which 
existed a number of years. For three years Mr. and Mrs. Cist lived at Mill Creek, but in the fall of 1811 they moved 
into their new house on Bank .street, now River Street, in this city. At an early day Jacob Cist's attention was at- 
tracted towards the uses of anthracite coal. He was a boy of ten years when his father experimented on the Lehigh 
coal and might possibly have seen him at work. He must often have heard his father conversing with Colonel Weiss, 
both in Philadelphia and Bethlehem, on the feasibility of opening their mines and making a market for the Lehigh 
coal, long before he was old enough to appreciate the importance of the undertaking, or the disadvantages under which 
these pioneers in the coal trade labored, in persuading people of the practicability of using stone coal as a fuel, though 
in after years, by observation and study, he saw its importance and he learned by a practical experience the labor and 
disappointments attendant on its introduction to use. As early as the year 1805, he conceived the idea of manufacturing 
a mineral black for printers' ink, leather lacquer, blacking, etc., from the Lehigh coal, and the results of his experi- 
ments were secured to him by patent in the year 1808. 

This patent was considered to be worth upwards of five thousand dollars, but a number of law-suits, arising from 
a constant infringement of it by manufacturers, so annoyed Mr. Cist that he was glad to dispose of it for a less sum. It 
is said that after the destruction of the patent office records by fire, some one else took out a patent for the same idea, 
and is now working under it. After Mr. Cist had removed to Wilkes-Barre, he made a study of the adjacent coal 
fields, especially at the mines of the Smith Brothers, at Plymouth, and the old Lord Butler opening. He determined 
upon entering int(J the mining pf coal as a business, as soon as he should feel satisfied that the right time had come to 
introduce it in the cities, in large enough quantities to make the adventure a profitable one. That time came in the year 
1813, when the British squadron held both the Delaware and Chesapeake bays in a state of blockade. In the spring of 
that year, he undertook to introduce it in Baltimore and Philadelphia. The former project proved a failure, but in 
the summer and fall he sent several wagon loads to Binney & Ronaldson. in Philadelphia, and their success appeared to 
encourage the mining of anthracite upon h larger basis, so that in December of that year, Jacob Cist, Charles Miner 
and John Robinson, secured a lease from the old Lehigh Coal Mine Company of their property on the Lehigh river, 
near Mauch Chunk. Mr. Miner, in writing in the year 1833, to Samuel I. Pasker, on the formation of this co-partner- 
ship, says: "Jacob Cist, of Wilkes-Barre, my intimate and much lamented friend, had derived from his father a few 
shares of the Lehigh Coal Company's stock. Sitting by a glowing anthracite fire one evening in his parlor, conversation 
turned to the Lehigh coal, and we resolved to make an examination of the mines at Mauch Chunk and the Lehigh 
river to satisfy ourselves whether it would be practicable to convey coal from thence by the stream to Philadelphia. 
Mr. Robinson, a mutual friend, active as a man of business, united with us in the enterprise. Towards the close of 1813, 
we visited Mauch Chunk, examined the mines, made all the enquiries suggested by prudence respecting the navigation 
of the Lehigh, and made up our minds to hazard the experiment, if a sufficiently liberal arrangement could be made with 
the company." We sent down a considerable number of arks, three out of four of which stove and sunk by the way. 
Heavy, however, as was the loss it was lessened by the sale, at moderate prices, of the cargoes as they lay along the shores 
or in the bed of the Lehigh, to the smiths of Allentown, Bethlehem, and the country around, who drew them away when 
the water became low. We were just learning that our arks were far too large and the loads too heavy for the stream, 
and were making preparations to build coal boats to carry eight or ten tons each, that would be connected together 
when they arrived at Easton. Much had been taught us by experience, but at a heavy cost, by the operations of 1814, 
1815. Peace came and found us in the midst of our enterprise. Philadelphia was now opened to foreign commerce, and 
the coasting trade resumed. Liverpool and Richmond coal came in abundantly, and the hard-kindling anthracite fell 
to a price far below the cost of shipment. I need hardly add, the business was abandoned, leaving several hundred tons 
of coal at the pit's mouth, and the most costly part of the work done to take out some thousands of tons more. Our 
disappointment and losses were met wth the spirit of youth and enterprise. We turned our attention to other branches 
of industry, but on looking back on the ruins of our (not unworthy) exertions, I have not ceased to hope and believe 
that the Lehigh Navigation and Coal Company, when prosperity begins to reward them for their most valuable labors, 
would tender to us a fair compensation at least for the work done and expenditure made, which contributed directly 
to their advantage." . 

This adventure was so disastrous to the finances of Mr. Cist that he did not again engage m the practical mming 
of coal, though his mind was never idle in devising plans for the opening of our coal fields, and for a cheap and rapid 
mode of getting the coal to market, and his pen was ever busy advocating both to the general public. 

As early as 1814, he corresponded with Oliver Evans as to the practicability of using a steam engine and railroad at 
the mines on the Lehigh. In a letter to Evans, vn-itten December, 1814, he says: "I would thank you also for an es- 
timate of the expense of your steam wagon for drawing out a number of low carts, say twenty to twenty-five , each contain- 
ing one and one-half or two tons of coal, on a wooden railroad, with a descent of about one-third of an inch in a yard" 
(or forty-six feet to mile); to which Mr. Evans answers from Washington, January 3, 1815: "I would suppose that a 
descent of one-third inch to a yard could do without cogging the ways, which would save much expense. I had deviled 
a cheap way of rising an ascent by means of a rope, as I apprehended no company could yet be formed in this country 
to lay iron and cogged railways for any distance. I therefore fixed on wooden ways, one for going, the ocher for corning 
back , as close to each other as will admit, and to cover the whole with a shed . This would , in the first making, cost_ little 
more than a Pennsylvania turnpike, and much less in ten years. I cannot state to you the expense of a carriage." Mr. 
Cist ran the levels from here to Mauch Chunk for one, and at the time of his death he was planning with a Mr. Mc- 
Cullough, of New Jersey, to organize a company to lay a railroad up the Lehigh to Wyoming Valley. One of his daughters 
when a little girl while at play in his study, remembers asking him "what he was so busy at." His answer was "My 
child, I am building a railroad to pull things on over the mountain." Mr. McCullough, in writing to Mr HoUenback, 
shortly after Mr. Cist's death intimates that in the death of Mr. Cist the railroad had met with its death which was a fact. 

In Ihe year 1810, Jacob Cit together with Jesse Fell, Mathias HoUenback, Thomas Dyer, Peleg Tracy, and 
others, founded ihe T uzerne County Agricultural Society, and he, with Dr. Robert H . Rose, was one of the first corres- 
ponding secretaries of the society. He did much towards the introduction of finer grades of fruit trees in our valley 
joining with Washington Lee, Charles -Streater, E. Covel, George Cahoon and many others of the old citizens of Wilkes- 
Barre and vicinity, who took pride and pleasure in their fruit gardens He was accustomed every year to ^et for himself 
and friends quantities of the choicest fruit trees. He knew the value of the New York gypsum as a fertilizer and advocated 
its superiorityinapaperreadbefore the state agricultural society, January 12, 1813. This article was republished in 
the y?ecorrfo///!e;jm^5,Et Wilkes-Barre, January 8, 1868. He was Treasurerof the County of 1 uzerne for 1816,181/ 
1818 of which he was one of the original stockholders and founders. He was one of the charter members of the old 
Susquehanna Bank and its first cashier, appointed 1817, at a salary of $600. He drew the designs for the notes of the 


place that may be closed and opened at pleasure, so constructed as to cause a brisk current of 
air to pass up through a small contracted grate on which they were laid. I find them more difficult 
to be kindled than the Virginia coal, yet a small quantity of dry wood laid on the grate under them 
is sufficient to ignite them, which being done they continue to burn while a sufficient quantity 
be added to keep up the combustion, occasionally stirring them to shake down the ashes; they 
however, require no more attendance than other coal, and consume away, leaving only a very 
light white colored ashes, producing a greater degree of heat than any other coal that I am ac- 
quainted with, perhaps in proportion to their weight, they being much the heaviest. They [produce 
no smoke, contain no sulphur, and when well ignited will exhibit a vivid, bright appearance, all 
of which render them suitable for warming rooms, and as they do not corrode metal as much 
as other coals, they will probably be the more useful for steam engines, breweries, distilleries, 
smelting of metals, drying malt, etc. But the furnaces will require to be properly constructed, 
with a grate contracted to a small space, through which the air is to pass up through the coal, 
permitting none to pass above them into the flue of the chimney until they are well ignited, 
when the doors of the stove or furnace may be thrown ojjen to enjoy the benefit of the light and 
radiant heat in front. A very small quantity of them is not sufficient to keep up the combustion, 
they require nearly a cubic foot to make a very warm fire, consuming about half a tiushel in al)out 
fourteen hours. 

"Philadelphia, Feb. 15th, 1803. Oliver Evans." 

"statement of FREd'K GRAFF. 
"Having made a trial of the Lehi coal sometime in the year 1802 at the Pennsylvania 
bank in the large stove, I found them to answer that purpose exceeding well. They give an ex- 
cellent heat and burn lively. It is my opinion they are nearly equal to double the quantity of 
any other coal brought to this market, for durability; of course less labour is required in attending 
the fire. Mr. Davis, Superintendent of the Water Works of Philadelphia has also made a trial of 
them for the boilers of the engines imployed in that work, and found them to answer well. It 
must be observed a draft is necessary when first kindled. For the use of familys, the fire places 
can be so constructed with a small expense as to have the sufficient draft required. ]\Iy opinion 
is they will be found cheaper than wood. They burn clean. Xo smell of sulphur is observed, or 
any dirt flying when stirred, which is a great objection to all other coal for family use. If the chim- 
neys for the burning of these coals are properly constructed and a trial made, I am well convinced 
that most of the citizens of Philadelphia would give them [jreference to wood. 

"Fred'k. Graff. 
"Philadelphia, IMay 1st, 1805." "Clerk of the Water Works of Phila." 

Morever, Samuel Breck, of Philadelphia, who represented his district in 
Congress, in 1823, made record in a diary from which, and from other documents, 
he compiled his "Recollections," edited by H. E. Scudder and published bv Porter 
and Coates in 1877. That part of the record, pertinent at this time, is the following: 

"December 9, 1807. — This morning I rode to Philadelphia, and purchased a newly-in- 
vented iron grate, calculated for coal, in which I mean to use that fuel, if it answers my expecta- 
tions. December 26, 1807. — By my experiment on coal fuel I find that one fire place will burn 
from three to three and a half bushels per week in hard weather, and about two and a half in 
moderate weather. This averages three bushels for twenty-five weeks (the period of burning 
fires in parlors.) Three times twenty-five give seventy-five bushels for a .single hearth, which, 
at forty-five cents, is thirty-three dollars and seventy-five cents, more than equal to six cords of 
oak wood at five dollars and fifty cents, and is, by consequence, no economy; but at thirty-three 
cents per bushel, which is the usual summer price, it will do very well." 

A summary of the matter leaves no doubt that Judge Fell was not the 
first to successfully experiment in the burning of anthracite without a blast. 
His independent discovery, however, being made in a locality where it could 
quickly and generally be brotight into use, and the fact thai he made no pretext 
of deriving personal benefit from the introduction of his device for the common 
good, mark him as a benefactor whose name will ever be mentioned in connec- 
tion with a mighty industry. 

In its immediate effect, Judge Fell's experiment upheld the hands of those 
who foresaw something of the future of anthracite. After learning the success- 
bridge company and of the bank. He geologized this whole section of country for miles up and down the river, finding 
besides manganese and clays, a number of iron beds, in many instances purchasing the land outright, in others only 
leasing, and at the time of his death he owned large bodies of iron lands. On his .settlement at Wilkes-Barre he tried 
for several years to found glass works and a pottery at that point, but failed, though he found within easy distances 
the clays, sand manganese, etc.. requisite to the successful carrying on of these enterprises. Jacob Cist did not know 
what it was to be idle; he was busy from sunrise until late in^ the night, either at science, music, poetry or painting, and 
during business hours at his business; he was a man ahead of his times, and an enigma to the good people of Wilkes - 
Barre, who pretty generally thought him an enthusiast, who was wasting his time on bugs and stones. Many people 
have lived to judge differently of him, and to appreciate his worth. He died on Friday, the .^Oth day of December. 
1825, aged forty-three years. He left to survive him the following children: Mary ."^nn Cist, intermarried with Nathaniel 
Rutter; Ellen ij. Cist, first married to Rev. Robert Dunlap, D. D.. and secondly to Nathaniel Rutter; Emily L Cist, 
married to Harrison Wright; Augusta Cist, married to Andrew T. McClintock; and Sarah .\. Cist, intermarried with 
Peter T. Woodbury. 


ful outcome of the Fell demonstration, John Smith, a brother of Abijah, left 
Derby, Connecticut, and purchased a tract of one hundred and twenty acres of 
coal lands at Plymouth, adjoining the original vSmith tract. The brothers, in 
the summer of 1808, loaded two more arks with coal and once again the cargo 
was landed at Columbia. This time, however, they were ready to demonstrate, 
rather than extol, the virtues of their product. Having provided themselves 
with several grates of the Fell pattern, they carried both grate and coal into 
private homes or wherever else opportunity offered, and soon a blazing fire was 
in evidence before the eyes of the skeptical. 

None could now gainsay that the burning of stone coal was possible. 
Disposing of their entire cargo at a fair profit, the business of mining and ship- 
ping Wyoming coal was at last established on a permanent basis. 

.\bijah Smith Coal ()pk.\ix( 

It must not be inferred, however, that fortunes were made or difficulties 
overcome in the quick fashion of later years. 

In his recollections of these early struggles to introduce coal as an article 
of commerce, Wright in his "Sketches of Plymouth", (p 303) published in 1873, 

has this to say of pioneers of the trade: 

"The statistical tables of the trade, which appear in the pubhc press, date the commence- 
ment in 1820. It is put down in that year at three hundred and sixty-five tons, as the shipment 
from the Lehigh region to market. 

"In this there is error, for thirteen years previous to that time, as we have already stated, 
Mr. Smith had shipped coal from his Plymouth mine. But in fact the article had been put in 
the market long previous to 1820, by other persons than the Messrs. Smith. 

"Charles Miner, Jacob Cist, John W. Robinson and Stephen Tuttle, all of Wilkes-Barre, 
had leased the old Mauch Chunk mines, and in August, 1814, had sent an ark load of it down 
the Lehigh. Mr. George M. HoUenback sent two ark loads down the Susquehanna, taken from 
his Mill Creek mines, in 1813. The same year, Joseph Wright, of Plymouth, mined two ark loads 
of coal from the mines of his brother, the late Samuel G. Wright, of New Jersey, near Port Griffith, 
in Pittston. This was an old opening, and coal had been mined there for the smiths' forge as far 
back as 1775. The late Lord Butler, of Wilkes-Barre, had also shipped coal from his mines, 
more generally known of late years as the "Baltimore Mines," as early as 1814, and so had Crandal 
Wilcox, of Plains Township. 

"My object in making these references is to show that the coal-trade actually began in 
1807, and not in 1820, as is now generally believed. 

"But while the persons I have named did not follow up the business, Abijah and John 
Smith, his brother, continued the business down to the period of their respective deaths; and their 
children continued on the trade long afterwards. 

"Abijah Smith came to the valley in 1806. * * * in 1807, he commenced mining; 
and coal has been taken almost yearly from the opening he made down to the present period. 

"In the year 1808, his brother John came to the valley. He bought the coal designated in 
the deed, from Wm. Curry, Jr., as 'Potts of Coal,' on the adjoining tract of one hundred and 
twenty acres, for the consideration of six hundred dollars. This mine was soon after opened. 


and workings have been uninterruptedly continued ever since. Abijah and John were partners 
in the coal business for many years. From the time they commenced coal operations, they con- 
tinued on in trade, as a means of living, for the remainder of their lives. It was their sole occu- 
pation. They prosecuted their employment with great energy and perseverance, and amid a 
great many difficulties and disappointments; and although neither of them lived to see their 
anticipations realized, their descendants — who arc still the owners of the estates they purchased 
more than a half century ago — are enjoying the advantages and comforts which resulted from their 
ancestors' foresight and judgment. 

"Abijah died in 1826. His brother John died in 1852. 

"I knew them both intimately for a great number of years. They were industrious, up- 
right and worthy men. They started the coal trade, and their names will ever be blended with it. 

"It is proper that we should examine into the details of the mode and manner of mining and 
transportation, as pursued by these early pioneers in the business. There are but few now engaged 
in the great trade who are aware of the troubles and sacrifices which attended it in its infancy. 
We will look at the child when in its swathing bands; it is now a giant, but fifty years ago it was 
in its infancy. The experiment which was perseveringly followed up. and beset on all sides by 
difficulties and hazards, resulted in a grand success. 

"The annual trade, which at the commencement was limited to hundreds of tons, has now 
become tens of millions of tons. The price of coal land of five dollars an acre, in the days of the 
Smith purchase, is now a thousand per acre. What the future demand for the article may be — 
or the annual production — the future alone can determine, human foresight cannot; nor can it 
be said that the field is inexhaustible. There is a limit to it; and those who will occupy our places 
five hundred years hence, will say that our prophecy is not entirely fiction. 

"In the early process of mining, there was no powder used; this, under the present system, 
is the chief agency. It was all done with the pick and wedge. The miner did his labor by the day, 
and received from fifty to seventy-five cents. The product of his day's labor was about a ton aiid 
a half; his time was from sunrise to sunset. The coal was transported from the mine to the place 
of shipment, in carts and wagons, and deposited upon the banks of the river, to be put in arks, 
in the time of the annual spring freshets of the Susquehanna. 

"The process, of mining with the pick and wedge was too slow and too expensive. Mr. 
Abijah vSmith came to the conclusion that the ordinary powder blast might be made available 
in mining. He must have some one, however, who was accustomed to the quarries. There was 
no one here who understood the business. 

"In the year 1818, he found that he could get a man for the work. This man was John 
Flanigan, of Milford, Connecticut. His occupation was quarrying stone with the powder blast. 
He wrote to Mr. Flanigan to come and make the experiment, — we say experiment, because it 
was contended that coal had not enough of strength and consistency to be properly mined with a 
blast. That the explosion would not reach far enough, and loosen and detach a sufficient quantity 
to make the blast economical in mining. 

"In March of that year, Mr. Flanigan came on. The result of the exjjeriment was a success. 
We mav therefore chronicle the name of John Flanigan as the first man who ever bored a hole 
and applied the powder blast in the anthracite coal of Pennsylvania. An important era in the 
commencement of a trade that has become so immense in later years." 

An average of from seven to ten arks a year was shipped bv the vSmith 
brothers through continuous years from 1807 to 1820, inclusive. The total 
tonnage of these shipments Avas in the neighborhood of 6,000, as evidenced 
by records of the partnership in existence as late as 1875. 

Supplemental shipments of Wyoming anthracite by many others, who en- 
gaged temporarily in the business during the same period, aggregated some 2,000 
tons. Hence, anthracite statistics, which customarily begin in 1820, with a run 
of 365 tons of Lehigh coal, take into no account the well developed business of 
the Smith brothers before the latter year: — a business which, dealt not only with 
the whole length of the lower Susquehanna, but extended, by reloading at Havre 
de Grace on ocean bound vessels, to the city of New York. Xor do they consider 
the additional shipments by other less successful pioneers of WVoming, in the 
same period. 

The coal ark, as has been mentioned, was a crudely built vessel intended 

to be sold foi' its lumber at the end of a voyage. Hundreds of these were built 

on the River common at Wilkes-Barre during the early development of the coal 

business. Shupp's boat yard at Plymouth also did a thriving business, and later 

on engaged extensively in the building of canal boats. Wright (p. 313) has left 

the following interesting description of the old fashioned ark as he saw it built: 

"The old Susquehanna coal ark, " like the mastodon, is a thing of the past. The present 
men of the business should understand the character of the single vessel used by the pioneers of 


the trade. Its size and dimensions, cost and capacity, must be chronicled. And the diflference 
between it and the present mode of transportation is as wide as the rough old grate of Jesse Fell — 
still to be seen — compared with the costly heating fixtures of the modern palace, of the modern 
coal prince. 

"The length of the craft was ninety feet, its width sixteen feet, its depth four feet, and its 
capacity sixty tons. Each end terminated in an acute angle, with a stem-post surmounted by 
a huge oar, some thirty feet in length, and which required the strength of two stout men to ply 
it in the water. It required, in its construction, three thousand eight hundred feet of two inch- 
plank for the bottom, ends and sides; or seven thousand six hundred feet, board measure. The 
bottom timbers would contain about two thousand feet, board measure and the ribs or studs, 
sustaining the side planks, four hundred feet; making a total of some ten thousand feet. 

"The cost at that time for lumber was $4.00 per M $40.00 

"Construction, mechanical work 24.00 

"Running plank, oars, caulking material, hawser (made of wood fibres), bailing 

scoops, etc 6.00 

"Total cost $70.00 

"The ark was navigated by four men, and the ordinary time to reach tide water was seven 
days. The cost attending the trip was about $50.00. Two out of three arks would probably 
reach the port of their destination;^ one-third was generally left upon the rocks in the rapids of 
the river or went to the bottom. The following estimate, therefore, of sixty tons of coal, laid down 
in market, is not far from the facts: 

"Cost of mining 60 tons $ 45.00 

"Hauling to the river 16.00 

"Cost of ark 70.00 

"Expenses of navigation 50.00 

Total .$181.00 

or equal to $3.00 a ton. To this must be added one-third for the perils of navigation, which will 
make the actual cost of the ton at tide water $4.00. Commissions on sales, transhipment from 
the ark to coasting vessels and other incidents, would probably make the whole outlay upon a 
ton, about five dollars. 

"The average price of sales at this time was probably $10.00, leaving a profit of $5.00 on 
the ton. If therefore, three hundred and fifty tons of the five hundred annually transported by 
the Messrs. Smith reached the market, it left them a profit of seventeen hundred dollars, not 
taking into the account their personal services. 

"In this small way the coal trade continued on from 1807 to 1820, when it assumed more 
importance in the public estimation. The years preceding that of 1820, were the years of its trials, 
and the men during that period who were engaged in the business, were merely able to sustain 
themselves with the closest economy and the most persevering and unremitting labor. Some of 
the Plymouth men who embarked in the business, made total failures; and others encumbered 
their estates with debts which required subsequent years of labor to wipe out. It was the work 
of forty years to convince the people that 'black stones' could be made available for fuel. The 
problem at this day is fully solved. 

"The following account current, rendered by Price & Waterbury, of New York, to Abijah 
Smith & Co., composed of Abijah and John Smith, in 1813, and furnished me by Mr. John B. 
Smith, is a remarkably interesting relic of the coal business in its infancy. It very clearly ex- 
hibits two facts: one, the demand, price and consumption of coal, in the great city of New York, 
at that period; and the other, the wonderful zeal manifested in the pioneer dealers to introduce 
the article into the market. 

The coal was sent to Havre de Grace, Maryland, and thence by coasting vessels to New York: 

" 'New York, February, 1813. 
" 'Messrs. Abijah Smith & Co. — Gentlemen: Having lately taken a view of the business 
we have been conducting for you this sometime past, we have thought it would be gratifying to 
have the account forwarded, and therefore present you with a summary of it up to the eighteenth 
of January, 1813, containing, first, the quantity of coal sold and to whom; second, the amount of 
cash paid by us from time to time; third, the amount of interest, cash in the various sums ad- 
vanced, the credit of interest on sums received, and lastly, the quantity of coal remaining on hand 
unsold. Should you, on the receipt of this, find any of the items incorrect, we need hardly observe 
that the knowledge of such an error will be corrected with the greatest pleasure. As it respects 
our future plan of procedure, we shall expect to see one of your concern in the city sometime in 
the spring, when a new arrangement may be fixed upon. Our endeavors to establish the character 
of the coal shall not at any time be wanting, and we calculate shortly to dispose of the remaining 
parcels of coal unsold. 

■ 1812. June 8— By cash of Doty & Willets for 5 chaldrons coal $ 100.00 

By cash of John Withington for 5 chaldrons coal 100.00 

By cash of Coulthaid & Son for 10 chaldrons coal 200.00 

By John Benham's note (60 days) for 10 chaldrons coal 200.00 

By cash of G. P. Lorrillard for 1 chaldron coal 20.00 

By cash of J. J. Wilson for 4 chaldrons coal 80.00 

'June 13 — By cash of Doty & Willets for 5 chaldrons coal 100.00 

By cash of G. P. Lorrillard for 11 >^ chaldrons coal 230.00 

By A. Frazyer's note (90 days) for 25 chaldrons coal 475.00 

By cash received of T. Coulthaid for 5 chaldrons coal 100.00 

By M. Womas's note (90 days) for 20 chaldrons coal 380.00 







16 — By Robert Barney for \7 J'2 chaldrons at $22 per chaldron ,^85.00 

Bv half measurement, received for 9 bushels 

By B. Ward and T. Blagge for 1 '4 chaldrons at $20. 

By Wittingham for J2 chaldron coal 

'June 25 — By Pirpont for Ji chaldron coal 

Bv Mr. Lands for '2 chaldron coal. 



'1813. Jan. 


16 — By Mr. A. Le Briton for 12 chaldrons at S25 per chaldron 288.50 

5 — By cash for }2 chaldron coal 

1 1 — By cash of A. Daily for J-2 chaldron coal . 

14 — By cash for '2 chaldron coal 

4 — By cash for 1 chaldron coal 

18 — By J. Curtiz for 9 bushels coal. 

By cash for 1 chaldron coal. 

-By William Colman for J2 chaldron coal 

By Sexton & Williamson for 1 >^ chaldrons coal . 

24 — By cash for 1 chaldron coal 

29 — By cash for '2 chaldron coal 

7 — By cash for ,'2 chaldron coal 

12 — Bv cash for 1 chaldron coal 


By amount of balance this day 763.12 

Total S37601.20 

Errors excepted. 'PRICK & WATERBURY.' 

"It will be seen by this account current that coal was sold by the chaldron; thirty-six 
bushels, or nearly a ton and a third, to the chaldron. The sales, therefore, for the New York 
supply in 1812, were inside of two hundred tons, though the price was liberal, about $15.00 a 
ton. Most of the early coal operators of Wyoming were unsuccessful. The risk attending the 
navigation, and the system of barter and exchange of those days, instead of cash, were serious 
obstacles in the coal trade. And even at a later period, when the canal ojjened a new thoroughfare 
of transportation, the trade was not remunerative. The demand for the article was limited, and 
it required years of struggle to establish the cash in the place of the credit system. 

"At a later period, some of the merchants connecting the coal trade with their business, 
turned it to some account; but still down to 1840 the coal business in Plymouth could by no means 
be regarded a success. And with the exception of the T^Iessrs. vSmith, nearly all of the men en- 
gaged in the trade at its commencement, or immediately after, met with disasters. 

"The Smiths pursued the business steadily, with great economy and energy of purpose. 
These qualities, combined with the knowledge which they had gleaned from long experience, 
enabled them to live merely, but not to accumulate money. They held on to their mines which 
in subsequent years became very valual)le. The Messrs. Smith worked what is known as the great 
red ash seam, and which is thicker and the coal of a much better quality than the same seam on 
the east side of the river. On the east side of the river this seam crops out near the summit of 
the Wilkes-Barre mountain, and is not exceeding eight feet in thickness, while at the Smith mines, 
Avondale and Grand Tunnel, it averages twenty -six feet of pure coal. During the entire period 
that the Messrs. Smith worked this vein, some twenty years, and their successors a quarter of 
a century after them, the whole space cleared out has not reached ten acres." 

It is the intention of the present writer to 
recount but few of the circumstances attending the 
development of the anthracite industry prior to its 
general recognition as an established commercial 
asset of the country, which it won about the year 
1820. To do otherwise would be beyond the scope 
of this w^ork. 

Scientific mining was then a thing but little 
understood in America, but few of those who 
understood its intricacies having thus far reached 
our shores from England or the continent. An 
exception, however, was the case of Abraham 
Williams, who landed from Wales, in 1799, and 
shortly thereafter came to Wilkes-Barre. It is a 
strain upon imagination to find a practical miner 
of the present who would thus present his claims, 
as did Mr. Williams, through the columns of the 
Federalist, in March, 1805: An Early Mixer. 

"The subscriber takes this method of informing the public that he understands miner's 
work. He has worked at it the greater part of 23 years in the mines of Wales, one year and a 


half in Schuyler's copper mines in New Jersey, and three years in Ogden's in the same state. 
If anybody thinks there is any ore on his lands, or wants to sink wells, blow rocks or stones, he 
understands it wet or dry, on the ground or under the ground. 

"He will work by the day, or by the solid foot or yard, or by the job, at reasonable wages, 
for country produce. 

"He works cheap for country produce, 
But cash, I think, he won't refuse; 
Money is good for many uses; 
Despise me not nor take me scorn, 
Because I am a Welshman born. 
Now I am a true American, 
With every good to every man. 

"Abraham Williams." 

That coal lands at Wyoming were considered worthy of speculation as 
early as 1811, may be gathered from the following copy of a printed handbill, 
now possessed by the local Historical Society: 


"The subscriber has a very considerable, and indeed an as yet unexplored, quantity of 
coal, lying near the river Susquehanna in the neighborhood of Wilkes-Barre, which he would 
wish to bring to the Philadelphia market. Being himself unable to advance the funds necessary 
for so arduous an undertaking he wishes to engage some person or persons to take an interest 
with him in it. To induce them to do this, he is prepared to show that the bed of coal is very ex- 
tensive; that the quaUty of the coal is excellent; that it commands 75c. a bushel in the city for less 
than 18c. per bushel; that of course it promises to be a very profitable speculation and that in- 
dividuals who can spare the small sums necessary to be advanced can, by embarking in it, make 
considerable and certain profits. * * * 

"Persons desirous of being concerned in the Susquelmtina Coal Company may know the 
particulars by application to the subscriber at the Shakespear Hotel from 7 to 9 o'clock in the 
evening, or at the Merchants Coffee house, from 12 to 1 o'clock." 

"Philadelphia, February 21, 1811. Leonard Beatty." 

While the name Susquehanna Coal Company, sounds familiar to ears of 
the present generation, it was not through the medium of this handbill that 
this or any other corporation was then formed. In fact, the market of Phila- 
delphia was the despair of those who tried to win it. 

"Sea Coal," so-called from the fact that it was imported from Wales 
and could be unloaded at the docks of that city more cheaply than anthracite 
could be delivered, gained a steadily increased trade, and it was not until the Wax" 
of 1812 shut off the supply of the imported article, that anthracite found an op- 
portunity for introduction. Of not immediate import to the Wyoming field, 
but of far reaching consequences later on, was an effort to supplant the imported 
product. Foreseeing an opportunity for the reward of initiative, Colonel George 
Shoemaker of Schuylkill County, in the summer of 1812, set out from a mine 
he had opened at Pottsville with nine wagon loads of coal. As can now be re- 
alized, the attempted use of his product, coming from the mines as it did, in 
large lumps just as quarried, was foredoomed to failure. No means existed at the 
source of supply for breaking it into usable sizes. If such a result was to be 
accomplished, it was done after delivery, and by the usage of a sledge or chisel 
and hammer. Colonel Shoemaker suffered, in part, the fate of his predecessors. 
By dint of perseverance he disposed of two loads of coal at the cost of transpor- 
tation. The rest he was forced to give away with a promise that the recipient 
would actually experiment with its use. Fortunately, the contents of one of 
these wagons was delivered to White and Hazzard, who owned a wire mill at 
the Falls of the Schuylkill. After the fire was started in a furnace of the plant, 
the firemen insisted upon poking and stirring it as was done with the soft English 
coals. Becoming disgusted with the non-response ensuing, the doors were shut 
and preparations made to rekindle the fire with the usual fuel. This delay was 
what anthracite required. 


J^et alone for a few hours, it plead its own cause. From that time forth, 
champions for the use of anthracite were found, in members of this firm. 

In dealing with the use of anthracite in industrial pursuits, the Geological 
Survey of Pennsylvania, 1885, has this to say of its development from the White 

and Hazzard experiment: 

"The first use of anthracite in connection with the manufacture of iron dates from IS 12, 
when White & Hazard purchased one of nine wagon loads from the Schuylkill region and success- 
fully used the coal in heating the furnace of their nail and wire mill at the Falls of Schuylkill. 

"The first successful use of anthracite as an exclusive fuel in the blast furnace was at the 
Pioneer furnace, built during 1S37 and 1S3S, at Pottsville, by William Lyman of Boston. The first 
successful b'ast was blown in at this furnace on October 19, 1839. In recognition of the results 
obtained in this furnace, Mr. Lyman was paid a premium of $5,000 by Nicholas Biddle and others, 
as being the first person in the United States who had made anthracite pig iron continuously for 
100 days.* As early as 1824 attempts had been made to use anthracite mixed with charcoal in 
charcoal furnaces. These met with failure. On July 3, 1840, David Thomas successfully blew 
in a furnace which he had built for the Lehigh Crane Iron Comj^any at Catasauqua, on the 
Lehigh river. 

"In treating of the introduction of anthracite and bituminous coal in the manufacture of 
pig iron, so good an authority as IMr. Swank says that this 'innovation at once caused a revolution 
in the whole iron industry of the country,' and that 'a notable result of the introduction of mineral 
fuel was that, while it restricted the production of charcoal pig iron in the States, * * * which, 
like Pennsylvania, possessed the new fuel, it did not injuriously affect the production of charcoal 
pig iron in other States. Anthracite was the first to be largely used in American blast furnaces, 
and for many years after its adaptability to the smelting of iron ore was established, it was in 
greater demand for this purpose than bituminous coal, coked or uncoked. In recent years the 
relative popularity of these two fuels for blast furnace use has been exactly reversed. The natural 
difficulties in the way of the successful introduction of anthracite coal in our blast furnaces were 
increased by the fact that up to that time when we commenced our experiments in its use, no other 
country had succeeded in using it as a furnace fuel." 

Undismayed by the apparent failure of Colonel Shoemaker's effort, four 
Wilkes-Barreans leased the properties of the then defunct Lehigh Coal Mining 
Company, in December, 1813. These men were Charles Miner and Jacob Cist, 
whose pens had been busy in describing the uses of coal wherever they could 
find space in publications of eastern cities, John Robinson and Stephen Tuttle. 
They began operations at Mauch Chunk, in 1814, and succeeded in getting an ark 
with its cargo, safely through to Philadelphia. This and succeeding attempts 
ended in failure, since the conclusion of the w^ar permitted the landing of English 
and \'irginia coals, which were preferred. In 1817, they stirrendered their lease, 
but not without acquainting much of the population of Philadelphia with the 
uses of their product, at a considerable loss to themselves. 

White and Hazzard, having become convinced, from their own experiences, 
that anthracite would eventually win out, took over these same properties after 
the Wilkes-Barre firm had retired from the field, their lease for twenty years 
naming a price of one ear of corn per year as a rental of some 10,000 acres. By 
an invention by Mr. White of what were called "bear trap" dams, which produced 
artificial floods when their arks were to be moved down the dangerous waters 
of the Lehigh, this firm was able to lay the groundwork for a mastery of the Phila- 
delphia markets in later years. 

Experiences in attempting to convince others of their faith in the use of 
anthracite were not wnthout their amusing side. The late Edmund Carey of 
Benton, who was born in 1822, on a farm through which Carey avenut, Wilkes- 
Barre now passes, told one of these experiences; published in the Record 
June 12, 1887; as follows: 

"My father, George Carey, was one of the settlers who had the handling of the first anthra- 
cite coal in Wyoming Valley. He helped open a stripping in Pittston Township, now known as 

*The Franklin Institute. Philadelphia, in .\pril 1835. offered: "(1 ) a gold medal to the person who shall manufacture 
in the U. S. the greatest quantity of iron from the ore. during the year, using no other fuel than anthracite; quantity to 
be not less than 20 tons. 

"(2) A gold medal to the inventor of any plan by which iron ore may be smelted with anthracite The process 
to be communicated, and the model of the furnace to be exhibited at the exhibition." 


Plains Township, in 1815, and in the spring of that year loaded a raft with several others and took 
it down the Susquehanna to Harrisburg, where they sold the raft load of 40 tons of anthracite 
for SIO. They were discouraged at such remuneration and left the transportation of coal dormant 
until 1820, when they took another raft load down and failed to find a buyer. They were so dis- 
couraged that they dumped their load of black diamonds into the Susquehanna at Harrisburg, 
and as far as these early pioneer shippers were concerned the opening up of a coal market was ended . 

In "Recollections of a Lifetime," published by John Binns, a well re- 
membered editor and politician of Northumberland and later of Philadelphia, 
he tells of a first experience in burning some sample coal sent him by a member 
of the firm of White and Hazard : 

"Before he left the mines he sent me at Philadelphia, a wagon load of coal, in the hope that 
I would, in my newspaper, give it some celebrity; which in truth I was well disposed to do. To 
enable me to do so. I paid a stovemaker fifty dollars for a semi-circular sheet iron stove, and had 
it put up in my private office, in order to burn that coal. A sufficiency of charcoal, it was thought, 
w^as put into the stove, and the coal, which was in pretty large lumps, laid on the red-hot charcoal. 
To assist ignition we drew and kept together the circular sheet iron stove doors. It was a cold 
morning; there were some half dozen friends watching the experiment, but alas! and alackaday! 
after some hours, and the consumption of much charcoal, the stove would not burn. All it would 
do was to look red like stones in a well heated lime kiln. When taken out at night the coals 
were, to all appearance, as large as when cast into the stove. Whatever was the cause, such was 
the result of the first attempt to burn Lehi coal in Philadelphia, where, since that time, millions 
of tons of it have been welcomed and consumed." 

The reader, if he has caught something of the picture of the beginnings 
of anthracite, which these pages have attempted to convey, may be inclined to 
turn to a mass of literature on the subject with which any well equipped library 
abounds. An attempt has been made to indicate by authentic proofs that the 
Wyoming Valley in general, lead all other districts of the anthracite field in 
enterprise, initiative and persevering effort in introducing its underground 
treasures to the world and, in particular, it may lay claim to four important 
circumstances of sufficient importance to perpetuate its name when future 
mention is made of a great industry which has more than fulfilled, in each suc- 
ceeding generation, the fondest dreams of its pioneers. 

Amid cross currents of dispute and storms of debate which have beclouded 
issues for many years, these four claims to lasting fame, in connection with a 
splendid enterprise, stand out without fear of contradiction: 

1. That Wyoming, as a district, was the place of actual discovery of 

2. That the Gore brothers, at Wilkes-Barre, first reduced it to commercial 
use through the instrumentality of the air blast. 

3. That Judge Jesse Fell, in giving to the world the successful results of 
his experiments in adapting it to domestic uses, rendered a service of immeasur- 
able worth. 

4. That the vSmith brothers, of Plymouth, in exploiting the product of 
their mines over a continuous period on a strictly commercial basis, and to an 
ultimate success, were the real pioneers of the industry. 




For his religion, it was fit 
To match his learning and his wit; 
'Twas Presbyterian true blue; 
For he was of that stul)born crew 
Of errant saints, whom all men grant 
To be the true Church Militant; 
Such as do build their faith upon 
The holy text of pike and gun; 
Decide all controversies by 
Infallible artillery ; 
And prove their doctrine orthodox 
By apostolic blows and knocks. 


At the opening of the nineteenth century, Luzerne County embraced 
practically all the territory which has become known as the Susquehanna Pur- 
chase. Its area was in the neighborhood of 5,000 square miles; and considerably 
larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined, slightly larger than Connec- 


ticut and lacking a small percentage of being as large as New Jersey, of the original 
thirteen states. 

Up to the year 1810, no considerable portion of this area had been sub- 
divided. As has been stated, a strip of the northern section had, in 1804, been 
added to Lycoming County, in the vain hope of making it impossible for Col. 
John Franklin to succeed himself as a member of the lower house of the Assembh-. 

The State's official census figures give the population of Luzerne as 4,904, 
for the first census of 1790. Ten years later it was 12,839, a gain of over 250 per 
cent. In 1810, these figures had reached the respectable proportion of 18,109. 
another gain of some 50 per cent, for ten years. With the Easton and Wilkes- 
Barre turnpike the sole representative of an adequate means of transportation 
existing in the county in 1810, and with long distances to travel by boat or over 
a rudimentary road system, ahead of those residents of the northern tier of town- 
ships who desired to transact business with the county seat, at Wilkes-Barre. 
it is small wonder that agitation was to follow for the division of this splendid 
territory into units which would conduce to the greater convenience and pros- 
perity of its inhabitants. 

At the spring session of the Pennsylvania legislature of 1810, this matter 
of subdividing Luzerne came to a head. By an act of February 21st, Susquehanna 
County was set off from Luzerne, its area as surveyed by its meets and bounds 
totaling 828 square miles. The organization of this new county proceeded slowly, 
however, and it w^as not until the fall of 1812, that its county officers were elected. 
Bradford County was likewise set off from Luzerne by another bill introduced 
the same date. 

Under the original act, this new municipality was first called Ontario 
County, but by supplemental act of March 24, 1810, its name was changed 
to Bradford County, in honor of Hon. William Bradford, a former Attorney 
General of the United States. 

With its officers likewise elected in 1812, Bradford County began to func- 
tion as an entity on January 18, 1813. Bradford required a slice of 1,162 square 
miles of the empire of Luzerne to satisfy its stated boundaries. For the purpose 
of giving the new counties recognition in the higher vState courts, Tioga, Susque- 
hanna, Wayne and Luzerne counties became the Eleventh Judicial District. 
John Bannister Gibson, was appointed the first President Judge of the new 

*Of the many Judges who have been connected with the various Courts of Law in Pennsylvania, from the beginning 
of the Commonwealth up to the present time, John BannisTBR Gibson was undoubtedly the one whose reputation 
overshadows all others. "His great intellectual superiority gives him a prominence among men of his class which it 
is not likely will be attained by anybody else for years to come." 

John Bannister Gibson was bom November 8th. 1780, in Shearman's Valley, Cumberland (now Perry) County, 
Pennsylvania. His ancestry on the side of his father, originally Scotch and then Irish, passed generally under the 
name of Scotch-Irish. In Scotland the family name was Gilbertson 

His father was Col. George Gibson, a gallant soldier of the Revolution, who. having commanded with success a 
regiment of the Virginia Line during the contest with Great Britain, fell, covered with wounds at the memorable defeat 
of St. Clair by the Indians, on the Miami, in 1791. He had been County Lieutenant of Cumberland Countyin 1785 
and 1786 He was celebrated as a humorist and as a wit. Though without any single positive vice, he never could 
advance his fortune except in the army, for which he was peculiarly fitted. He was a man of genius, but possessed 
no business talents whatever. 

General Gibson was a member of the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention in 1790, subsequently an Associate 
Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny Countv, and later, Secretary of the Territory of Indiana. He died 
April 10, 1822. 

John B. Gibson's mother was Ann, daughter of Francis West, a substantial freeholder, de.scended from the Irish 
branch of the Delaware family, probably before it was ennobled. His maternal grandmother was a Wynne. Otcen 
Wynne, the head of the family, was the first commoner in Ireland, and refused a peerage. Through the Wynnes the 
Wests were connected with the Coles of Hnniskellen. Another connection of the family was the famous Colonel Barre, 
the associate of John Wilkes in his politics and his vices. 

Ann West was born at Clover Hill, near Sligo, in 1744, and came with the family to this country about 1755. She 
was a well educated woman. She died on the 9th of February, 1809. 

The subject of this sketch, who was the youngest of four sons, was born among the mountains of Cumberland. 
Fox hunting, fishing, gunning, swimming, wrestling, and boxing with the natives of his age, were his exercises and amuse- 
ments as a boy. His mother directed his reading, and put into his hands such hooks as were proper for him. Hi- 


father's collection of from one to two hundred voIuhk-- (anions them HiirkeV " Aiimial ReK'ister") he read so often that 
years afterward he could almost repeat pages of them. 

At the age of fifteen, he was placed at school in the preparatory department connected with Dickinson College, 
Carlisle. Pennsylvania In due time he was admitted as a student in the collegiate department. He did not. however. 
^Taduate. but left college in 1800. and immediately began study of law in Carlisle, in the olVice of a relative, the Hon. 
Thomas Duncan. LL. D.. with whom he afterwards occupied a seat on the Bench of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. 

He was admitted to the Bar of Cumberland County March 8. 180.^. and immediately opened an office in Carlisle 
Shortly afterwards, at the instance of a Mr. Wilkins. he decided to remove to lieaver. on the Ohio River. By hard 
scuflaing he succeeded in purchasing a small horse, or cob. and having taken leave of his fond mother and frieiids, he 
set out with scanty purse and saddle-hags and an empty green bag, not. like Dr. Syntax, in search of the picturesque, 
but like a poor lawyer in search of a brief and of professional adventures. 

Mr. Gibson sojourned in Beaver only about two years, and then went to Hagerstown. Maryland, from whence, 
very shortly afterwards, he returned to Carlisle, and resumed there the practice of his profession. 

It was about this period of his professional career that a friend of his called upon him with the information that a 
fellow member of the bar had grossly and wantonly assailed Mr. Gibson's character. Whereupon Gibson, who was a 
man of herculean strength and lofty spirit, meeting the alleged slanderer soon after, publicly inflicted upon him severe 
personal chastisement. But what was his dismay to learn, shortly after, that his informant had made a mistake, and 
that another person was the calumniator. To add to his perplexity, a challenge was received from the victim of his 
hasty and misdirected severity. "This." said Gibson, "is a bad business, and it is difficult to mend it; but at least, 
having got into it. I will complete it. I shall accept the challenge of course. I am bound to do so for mv follv. if not 
my fault, but before I am shot I must perform an act of justice. Having now found out the real slanderer. I will flog 
him at once" This he accordingly did and upon the matter being explained to the challenger, and an ample apology 
made, a duel was avoided and the whole affair amicably adjusted through the friendly interference of Judge Duncan. 

Mr. Ciihson's political associations were, from the beginning of his career, with the old Democratic partv. The 
critical condition of its affairs in 1810 called for the services of its ablest men, and he was in that vear elected as the 
-lominee of the Democratic party of Cumberland County, a member of the vState House of Representatives. In 1811. 
he was elected for a second term. 

While a member of the legislature, impeachment proceedings were begun against the Hon. Thomas Cooper, M. D , 
LL. D . President Judge of the I 1th Judicial Di.'trict (Luzerne County), and Mr. Gib.son was appointed one of the com- 
mittee to consider the complaints made against the Judge. The committee reported the draft of an address to Governor 
Snyder for the removal of the Judge from his office. Against the address and the principles it advocated. Mr. Gibson 
placed on record a written protest, strong and positive. Out of ninety-five members of all parties, he was joined in 
his dissent by only four, one of whom was Thomas Graham. Ksq., a member of the Bar of Luzerne County. The 
position taken by Mr. Gibson upon this occasion led to the intimacy which afterwards subsisted between himself 
and Judge Cooper; and upon the death of the latter, in 18,^9, Judge Gibson furnished a sketch of the life of his friend 
for publication in \"ol. XI\'. of the Rncyclofedia Americana. 

Mr. Gibsons second term as a legislator expired in the Summer of 1812, and from that time until his death, his 
public services were exclusively confined to the duties of a judicial office; with this exception, that in 1828 his name 
headed the Democratic State Electoral ticket, and he assisted in casting the vote of Pennsylvania in support of Andrew- 
Jackson, for the Presidency. 

In the Fall of 1812, Governor Snyder appDinted him to the po-iition only a little while before occupied by his learned 
• but unfortunate friend Thomas Cooper — that of President Judge of the 11th Judicial District of Pennsylvania, com- 
posed of the counties of Luzerne. Tioga. Bradford and Susquehanna. He held his first Court in Janiiary, 1813, in 
Bradford County, and occupied the Bench for the first time in I^uzerne County, July 26th, 1813, 

In December, 1813. Judge Gibson purchased from Cieorge Chahoon for a $1400 house and lot (now No. 40) on North- 
ampton street, Wilkes-Barre, and to this new home he brought his wife, whom he had married but a short time before 
-She was .Sarah W. Galbraith. daughter of Major Andrew CTalbraith. who had been a gallant oflicer in the Revolutionary 
Army and had been taken prisoner on Long Island. He was a resident of Cumberland County, and his daughter was 
a lady of fine accomplishments and amiable disposition. 

At that time Wilkes-Barre was a town of about one thousand inhabitants, and Luzerne County had a population of 
twenty thousand souls. 

Judge Gibson came among the people of Wyoming while the prejudices of the State rested heavily upon this portion 
of Pennsylvania, because of the long and aggravated controversy that had existed between the Connecticut settlers 
and the Pennamites. His appointment was, therefore, most auspicious to the citizens of the Wyoming region, as placing 
xheir destinies in the hands of one whose views soared above any low or narrow-minded prejudice He came among 
these people as a stranger, imbued with liberal sentiments. Conforming to their customs, which at that time were 
marked with some peculiarities, and sympathizing and harmonizing with them, he contributed much toward socializing 
Wyoming with other portions of Pennsylvania He soon greatly endeared himself to his neighbors and to all who came 
in contact with him. His manners were remarkable for their simplicity, warmth, frankness, and generosity. There 
never was a man more free from affectation and pretension of every sort. His tempers were eminently social, and among 
all classes of society he was ever greeted as a welcome guest. 

In the hours of relaxation from the exercise of official duties and his law and literary reading, he took great pleasure 
in company with his friend. Jacob Ci^t. in visiting the different portions of the valley to note its geological structure 
particularly the extent and position of the anthracite coal deposits, then just beginning to emerge into importance; 
and also in visiting the remains of the old Indian fortifications and burial grounds. In one of these excursions to Plains 
Township they found a medal bearing on one side the impress of King George I. . and the date 1 714 — the year in which 
he began his reign — and on the other side the likeness of an Indian Chief. This medal is now preserved in the collection 
of the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society. Wilkes-Barre. 

Judge Breckenridge, one of the Associate Judges of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, having died June 26th. 
1816. on the very next day Governor Snyder appointed Judge Cribson to the vacant seat on the Supreme Bench, and 
in the Fall of 1816. the Judge removed with his family to Carlisle where he continued to make his home for the 
remainder of his life 

His departure from Wilkes-Barre was regarded with emotions of pleasure and regret. All were glad at the occur- 
rence of an event so propitious to him personally, and yet all were sorry to part with him both as a Judge and a citizen 
His sojourn in the Wyoming Valley produced here deep and abiding impressions of respect for his commanding talent^ 
and social virtues. 

He delivered his first opinion in the Supreme Court in the case of the Commonwealth vs. Halloway (2 Sergeant & 
Rawle. 305). which decided that birth in Pennsylvania gave freedom to the child of a slave 

Chief Justice Tilghman having died April 30. 1827. on the 18th of the following month. Judge Gibson was ap- 
pointed by Governor Shulze to fill the vacancy. From that period, conscious of responsibilities and bearing in mind 
The high judicial standard e^tablished by his predecessors, he appeared to devote all his great powers to the fulfillment 
of the duties of his vocation. 

When he first went on the Bench, he was scarcely prepared for his mission. Those who went with him and after 
him were as thoroughly furnished as they could be for the work they had to do. but. when his powers unfolded them- 
i^elves. all saw them so plainly that no man or set of men afterwards could pretend to be his equal without becoming 
ridiculous. Competition gave up the contest, and rivalry conceded to him an undisputed prominence. Most of his 
associates fairly earned a high character and are justly entitled to their share of distinction, and we detract nothing 
from them when we give his due to him. 

"He. above the rest 
In shape and gesture proudly eminent. 
Stood like a tower." 

From 1816 to 1829. Judge Gibson was a member of the Board of Trustees of Dickinson College, and from 1824 to 
1S29, President of the Board. 

He received the degree of Doctor of Laws from the L^niversity of Pennsylvania in 1839. and subsequently the same 
degree was conferred upon him by Harvard L'niversity. 

He was \"ice Pre ident of the Pennsylvania Historical Society from 1825 to 1835. 


A noticeable effect of removing these territorial units from the jurisdiction 
of Luzerne was to be found in the census reports for the year 1830. The figures 
for the latter decennial report showed 20,027 for the dismembered county, 
a gain of only 1 1 per cent for the decade. But Bradford County is given 9,960 
for its population in the same census and Susquehanna County 1 1,554, or a total 
of 41,541 for the original area, which latter figures constitute a real index of its 
rapid development. 

Not content with inroads made by these two counties upon its territory, 
Luzerne was to meet other emergencies of a like nature in legislative enactment 
of subsequent years. In fact it may well boast being the "Mother of Counties" 
of Pennsylvania. By an act of the legislature of April 4, 1842, Wyoming County 
was the next thus to be given existence at the expense of Luzerne. Henry Colt 
of Luzerne, George Mack of Columbia and John Boyle of Susquehanna Counties 
were named a Commission to mark the boundaries. A total of 403 square miles 
of the parent county were found to be contained in the boundaries subsequently 

A short time after taking his seat on the Supreme Bench he was solicited by a committee from the Democratic 
party to suffer himself to be placed in nomination for the office of Governor of Pennsylvania, but he promptly declined 
the honor. 

Judge Gibson was a man of large proportions — a giant both in physique and intellect. He was six feet and four 
inches in height, with a muscular, well proportioned frame, indicative of strength and energy, and a countenance full 
of intellect, sprightliness. and benevolence. Until the day of his death, although his bearing was mild and unosten- 
tatious, so striking was his personal appearance that few persons to whom he was unknown could have passed him by 
in the street without remark. His body and his mind were both fashioned in the same mighty mould. 

He was a man of cultivated and elegant tastes, and had a natural love for art and literature, which was improved 
by more than ordinary cultivation. He possessed peculiar skill in drawing and sketching, and his taste also extended 
to painting, concerning which he was regarded as a competent critic. He could at any time sketch by a few dashes 
of his pen admirable likeness both of men and things. Many a dull speaker at the Bar, who was encouraged by the 
energy with which the Judge's pen moved, might have found on his notes little more than a most excellent represen- 
tation of the speaker's face. Occasionally, on his forgetting to destroy such efforts, they were passed around the Bar 
to the amusement of all except the sketcher and the sketched. 

In regard to his mental habits, Judge Gibson was a deep student, but not a close student; he worked most effect- 
ively, but he worked reluctantly. The concurrent testimony of all who knew him has been that he never wrote except 
when under the pressure of absolute necessity; but when he once brought the powers of his mind to a focus and took 
up the pen, like Sir Walter Scott, he wrote continuously and without erasure. When he once began to write an 
opinion he very rarely laid it aside until it was completed. This gave to his opinions a consistency and unity of con- 
ception otherwise difficult to have been obtained. 

Judge Gibson was not great by accident or chance. He was a great man among great men — a great Judge among 
great Judges — primus inler pares. Chancellor Kent ranked him among the first jurists of the age, and Story has fur- 
nished him a character which posterity will never forget. In their respective commentaries the opinions of Judge 
Gibson are quoted oftener than those of any other man in the country. 

His opinions are recognized everywhere as among the strongest, the clearest, the most learned, and the most im- 
portant to be found in any American Report?. They have made his name respected throughout the Union, and his 
death was lamented as that of one of the most brilliant lights of the American Bar. The great principles of law in 
Judge Gibson's reported opinions will live as long as anything of the science of the law survives. Higher praise no 
Judge need ask. 

Judge Gibson breathed his last at his rooms in the United States Hotel on Chestnut street, near Third, Philadelphia, 
on the morning of the 3d of May, 1853, just as the State House clock, which for more than thirty-five years had sum- 
moned him to his judicial labors, struck the hour of two. The disease which caused his death was an affection of the 
stomach, which completely baffled the best medical treatment. His intellect remained unclouded to the last. Sur- 
rounded by his family and friends, 

"like a shadow thrown . 

Softly and sweetly from a passing cloud, 
Death fell upon him." 

Upon the announcement of his death the several Courts in session in Philadelphia immediately adopted suitable 
measures to testify their high appreciation of his distinguished talent;, and then adjourned. A meeting of the Phila- 
delphia Bar -was held, over which Justice Grier, of the United States Circuit Court, presided; Hon. Geo. M. Dallas, 
being one of the Vice Presidents and Hon. Josiah Randall, a member of the Committee on Resolutions. It was resolved 
that the members of the Bar "will close their houses on the day of the funeral of Judge Gibson, in Carlisle, and will 
wear the usual badge of mourning for sixty days." 

On May 4th, the remains of Judge Gibson were conveyed from Philadelphia to his late residence, in Carlisle, 
and on the next day the funeral occurred. Although the weather was very inclement, and the rain poured down in 
torrent?, nevertheless a very large number of people attended to pay the last honors to the distinguished dead. 

Subsequently there was erected over the grave of the honored dead a tall marble shaft, bearing upon one face 
"John Bannister Gibson, LL. D., for many years Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Born Nov. 8, 1780. died May 3, 
1853." Upon an other face of the monument is the following inscription, from the pen of Judge Jeremiah S. Black: 

"In the various knowledge 

which forms the perfect Scholar, 

he had no superior. 

Independent, upright and able, 

he had all the high qualities 

of a great JudgB. 

In the difficult science of Juriiprudsnce, 

He mastered every Department, 

Discussed almost every question, and 

Touched no subject which he did not adorn. 

He won in early manhood. 

And retained to the clo?e of a long life, 

The affection of his Brethren on the Bench, 

The respect of the Bar. 

And the confidence of the people." 


fixed. Of small territorial consequence, but betokening the generous use to which 
the once remarkable area of Luzerne was put by the legislature, a portion of 
Foster Township was, in the year 1S,t6, annexed to Carl)on County. 

It was not until the \-ear 1S7S that Luzerne County was again tr()ul)led 
with the problem of dismemberment. Following a long continued agitation, 
emanating largely from residents of Scranton, a bill, known as the "New County 
Law", was introduced in the legislature on April 17, 1S78, and passed in spite 
of strenuous objection on the part of the mother county. This act, ostensibly 
general in nature, afifected only two counties of the Commonwealth, one of them 
being Luzerne. 

Complying with provisions of the measure, a petition signed ])y over 
1,000 residents of the vScranton district was presented at Harrisburg, asking 
that a county, to be called Lackawanna, be set off from Luzerne. 

On May 14th, David vSummers of vSusquchanna, William Griffiths of Brad- 
ford and Richard H. Sanders of Philadelphia County were appointed Commis- 
sioners to establish boundary lines and make report of population. 

Following necessary surveys, these Commissioners reported favorably on 
the project, on June 28th, whereupon Governor Hartranft issued a proclamation 
ordering an election to be held August 13th, upon the question of a new county. 
Under provisions of the act, only residents of districts to become part of the 
proposed new county were permitted to vote for or against its erection. As a 
consequence there were 9615 votes recorded in favor of the project and only 
1986 against the proposal. On August 21, 1878, the Governor issued a procla- 
mation declaring that "from thenceforth the Coimty of Lackawanna shall be 
and is established with all the rights, powers and privileges of other counties 
of the Commonwealth." During the week following, he commissioned the first 
set of officers for the new countv. Lackawanna comprises 424 square miles 
within its boundaries, leaving but 926 square miles to Luzerne as a residue of 
its once vast estate. 

Questions of roads, bridges and ferries were to engage the attention of pub- 
lic officials as well as of public spirited men of the community in order to meet 
exigencies due to the development of new county seats and new population 
centers which had begun to spring up in response to the rapidly growing pop- 
ulation statistics of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Wilkes-Barre was fully alive 
to the need of improved transportation facilities then, even more than it has 
seemed to be in later decades of its historv. 

Scarcely had the Borough of Wilkes-Barre been formally set in motion 
before its council undertook to regulate the single ferry which at that time, as 
had been the case for many years, crossed the Susquehanna from the Kingston side 
at the foot of Northampton street. The former town government had attempted 
some form of regulation of this important link between the east and west banks 
of the stream and, at times, the revenue arising from its lease had been de- 
voted to odds and ends of community projects. One of the first subscriptions 
to the erection of "Old vShip Zion," was the rental re\-enue of this ferry house for 
the year 1803. 

Regulations of the ferry, passed in the form of an ordinance by the council, 
June 10, 1806, not only provided for the means of disposing of the ferry franchise 


on an annual basis, but attempted to enforce a prompt and more convenient 
service for the public in its provisions. 

The ordinance reads as follows: 

"Whereas, the law incorporating the Borough of Wilkcsbarre passed the 17th of March. 
1806, has vested in the corporation of said borough the exclusive right of keeping, maintaining 
and letting a Ferry over the Susquehanna opposite the said Borough And WherEas, it is neces- 
sary for the public advantage that the said ferry should be kept under suitable regulations. Therefore 

"Sect. 1. Be it enacted by the town Council of the Borough of Wilkesbarre, and it is hereby 
enacted by the authority of the same. That a ferry shall be kept over the Susquehanna river 
from Northampton street to the public road on the opposite side of said river. 

"Sect. 2. Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid. That the said ferry shall be 
rented, let or leased out immediately, and annually hereafter from the first Monday of April 
in every year to the highest and best liidder, and that the person or persons renting or leasing 
the said ferry shall enter into bonds with ample security, for the payment of the rent quarterly, 
and for faithful observance of all the regulations legally made with regard to the said ferry. 

"Sect. 3. Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid. That good and sufficient boats 
of every necessary description shall be furnished and kept in perfect repair by the lessee of the 
ferry aforesaid at his own expense suitable for the conveyance across the said river of single 
persons, horses, cattle, sleighs, sleds, wagons, and other carriages, and that a strict and prompt 
attention shall be paid to the duties of said ferry so that no person wishing to cross shall experience 
unnecessary delay. And if any foot person or persons wishing to cross at the said ferry shall be 
delayed unnecessarily the lessee of the ferry shall be liable to a fine of twelve and a half cents 
for every ten minutes each person is so detained. 

"Sect. 4. Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid. That the regular hours for at- 
tending the ferry shall be from half an hour after sun rise to one hour after sun set, and that none 
of the fines in the preceeding section can be incurred except within the time in this section men- 
tioned as the regular hours for attending the ferry. 

"Sect. 5. Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the passing 
of this act no person, except the lessee of the ferry or his agent shall transport any person across 
the river Susquehanna opposite this Borough for any emolument, under penalty of two dollars 
for every such offense." 

That the ferry privilege grew to be very remunerative, especially to the 

lessee, is evidenced by a communication of Stephen Wilson on the subject, 

published many years afterward in Vol. 4 of "Johnson's Historical Narrative." 

In its ferry reference, this communication read as follows : 

' In the Spring of 1811, father (Elnathan Wilson) leased the old ferry house, with its equip- 
ment of flats and skifTs and about five acres of land for $100 a year. It was on the West bank of 
the Susquehanna opposite the foot of Northampton street. The road to Kingston village was an 
extension of Northampton street, though it has now long been abandoned for the Market street 
road. The first year father built two flats and a skiff and put $3,000 in bank. He often took in 
thirty or forty dollars a day, though in winter when the river was frozen over his income stopped, 
except what he took in from his tavern, for the ferry house was a hotel in those primitive days." 

The roadway which led diagonally up the river bank on the Wilkes-Barre 
side from the water's edge to the Common above, proved a source of considerable 
loss to the acreage of the lower River common during its existence. 

Spring freshets would all but flatten it out against the steep sides of the bank. 
As the waters receded, it wotild be again dug deeper into the bank and more 
nearly approaching River street in its annual terminus. 

In fact, such were the inroads made into the bank near this point at the 
time the Market street bridge was opened, that the foundations of the Arndt 
warehouse were then described as having been undermined so that the western 
end of the building projected far out over the bank and it was considered tmsafe 
for further use. 

Being regarded as a lucrative means of livelihood, the solitary ferry developed 
opposition. Under terms of the ordinance no other ferryman was permitted to 
ply his trade within the Borough limits who charged for the service. John Meyers 
circumvented this measure by opening a free ferry at the foot of North street in 
1813, being dependent upon the tipping generosity of his patrons for their passage. 


But whatever supervision the Borough Council was able to give the ferry, 
its services did not measure up to the growing transportation demanded between 
banks of the Susquehanna. High water was a menace during freshet periods of 
the year. Ice, in its turn, sometimes put the ferry out of commission for weeks 
at a stretch. The number of trips to be made, even under favorable circumstances, 
necessitated vexatious waits. As early as 1807, a bridge was a matter of con- 
siderable discussion. 

In fact in the spring of that year these progressive desires of the community 
were carried to the legislature, which on April 9, 1807, passed a measure entitled 
"An Act to authorize the Governor to incorporate a company, for erecting a 
bridge over the river Susquehanna, at the Borough of Wilkes-Barre, in the County 
of Luzerne." 

Provisions of the act named Lord Butler and Lawrence Myers, of Luzerne 
County, Samuel Sitgreaves and Daniel Waggoner, of Easton and John B. 
Wallace and Thomas Allibone of Philadelphia as Commissioners. The general 
plan followed by terms of the act was much the same as had previouslv been 
adopted in connection with the organization of the Easton and Wilkes-Barre 
turnpike. The par value of shares was fixed at $50.00 each. Books were to be 
opened in Philadelphia and Easton for the sale of 150 shares at each point, and 
in Wilkes-Barre for the sale of 300 such shares. 

The measure authorizing a structure to span the river at Wilkes-Barre was 
quite in keeping with steps being taken elsewhere in the vState along similar lines. 
A bridge across the Schuylkill at Philadelphia, erected by a society incorporated 
in 1798, was the first permanent bridge in America. It early became a paying 
investment and proved an incentive to other companies seeking like franchises. 
Two other companies were authorized by legislative enactment to span the North 
Branch of the Susquehanna at about the same time the Wilkes-Barre bridge 
bill was passed. 

It did not necessarily follow, however, that the companies which the 
Governor was empowered to charter were immediately able to comply with 
provisions of the act. In point of time, the bridge at Northumberland was first 
to struggle to completion. In October, 1812, two abutments and three piers 
of this bridge were finished and ready for inspection by vState authorities. In 
April, 1813, it was reported to the Governor that the Northumberland bridge 
would be open to traffic January 1, 1814. The second bridge to be erected over 
the North Branch was that "at the Falls of Nescopeck" connecting Nescopeck 
with Berwick. 

Munsell, page 323, is authority for the statement that this structure was 
completed in 1816. 

The Wilkes-Barre enterprise dragged much more discouragingly. vSub- 
scriptions at Philadelphia and Easton were not up to expectations and it was not 
until the community made up its inind to finance its own public improvements 
that success was finally to come. 

Bickerings and disputes over the location of the bridge were not uncommon. 
Residents of the vicinity of North, Market and Northampton streets were stren- 
uous in their endeavors to have the eastern terminus located at the foot of the 
streets which abutted on their respective properties. Ferrymen entered their 
protests against the bridge being built at all. Eventually, Market street was 
chosen as the site of the structure. 


The original bridge act was supplemented March 20, 1811, by additional 
legislation requiring that at least twenty-five shareholders be secured, subscribing 
for a minimum of 100 shares before actual incorporation would be authorized. 
It was not until the Spring of 1816, that these requirements were met.* 

The company organized on May 15, 1816, at a meeting held in the Court 
House, by electing Matthias Hollenback, President; Jacob Cist, Treasurer; 
Joseph Sinton, Stephen Tuttle, George Chahoon, James Barnes, Ehas Hoyt 
and Henry Buckingham, Managers. On May 18th, Benjamin Perry was chosen 

On June 11th of the same year 20 per cent, of the stock was called in, 
to be paid on or before July 1st, and it was resolved that the Managers should 
forthwith advertise for proposals for erecting the bridge. On July 15th another 
call was made for the payment in full of all stock held in three or more shares, 
payable September 1st. 

On August 27th, the proposal of Lewis Wernwag to build a bridge of four 
arches of 185 feet each (without roofing or siding and the company to fill up the 

Market Street Bridge — Rebuilt 1824 

wing walls) for $40,000 was accepted and a preliminary agreement entered into. 
On September 14th, Mr. Wernwag having offered to deduct the sum of $1,000 
from the price of the bridge, on condition that the length be reduced forty feet 
and the ribs be altered, the offer was accepted and a formal contract made with 
Lewis Wernwag, Joseph Powell, of Chester County, and George C. Troutman, 
of Philadelphia County, the bridge to be completed by the 1st of December, 1817. 
The bridge, however, was not to be finished within the stipulated time, 
nor for months afterward. The minutes of a meeting held May 5, 1817, disclose 
that only $7,284 had been collected on stock subscriptions, and of this sum, 
$7,200 had already been paid to the contractors. It was then decided to increase 
the number of shares from 600 to 800. Not much success seemed to have attended 
these additional efforts at raising the needed capital, and on November 29th, 
Jacob Cist set forth the plight of the company before the legislature in the hoped 
of securing State aid. Failing to secure this assistance, the expedient was adopted 

*Lord Butler, Henry Buckingham, John I?. Wallace and John H. Brinton, a majority of the Commissioners named 
to receive subscriptions, certified to the (rovernor that the following named persons had subscribed the number of 
shares set opposite their names: Lord Butler 4, Matthias Hollenback 10, Benjamin Dorrance 4, Jacob Cist 5, Isaac 
Bowman 2, George Chahoon 10, David Peckins 1 , David Scott 6, Samuel Thomas 10. Elijah Shoemaker 7,C,eorge Lane5, 
Henry Buckingham 5, James Barnes 10, Joseph Sinton 10, Nathan Palmer 1, Jesse Fell 2, Stephen Tuttle 2, Calvin 
Wadliams 3. Jonathan Hancock 5, Elias Hoyt 2, Daniel Hoyt 4, Naphtali Hurlbert 2, Darius Landon 1 , M Thompson 4, 
Joseph Tuttle .5, C.eorge M. Hollenback 10, Wm. Barnes 5, EHphalet A. Bulkeley 1 , David Smith 2, Isaac S hoemaker 2, 
Adam Shafer 1, David Brace 2, Henry Courtright 4, Barnet Ulp 1, Collings & Bettle 3, Elijah Loveland 2, Albert 
Skeir 1 . Benjamin Drake 5, Joseph Slocum 5, Chas. Catlin 4, Joshua Pettebone 5, Christian G. Ochmig 2, John Peckins 1 , 
Franklin Jenkins I, James Hughes 2, John W. Ward 2, Alexander Jameison 4, Henry Kern 2 — a total of 186 


of issuing script to the amount of 530,000. This script was in notes of small 
denominations and, as its value kept fluctuating from time to time in keeping 
with the prospects of the company issuing it, the expedient resulted in adding 
materially to financial troubles with which this period was burdened. 

vSome preliminary work had been done by engineers in the summer of 
1S15, on locating piers for the proposed structure, the later assumption I^v the 
contractors of accounts for which work has given rise to frequent disputes among 
local historians as to the exact date of the beginning of actual construction. 
Newspaper accounts furnish a fairly accurate basis for tracing the work of erec- 
tion from that time forth. The Gleaner of June 6, 1817, describes the status 
of the work on that date as follows: 

"We observe with much pleasure the progress which is making with the bridge at this 
place. The work was commenced on the opening of the present season, under the superintendence 
of Mr. Powell, one of the contractors. The two abutments are nearly completed, and the piers 
ready to be sunk as soon as the jjresent swell of water has subsided. Present appearances give 
us the most ample assurance that the contract will be completed by the stipulated time." 

The winter of 1817-1818 was noted for its severity; for the thickness of ice 

which formed on the Susquehanna, and for destruction wrought in consequence 

of exceedingly high water which carried off the ice in March of the latter vear. 

In lieu of the completion of the bridge, teams and pedestrians used the ice bridge 

erected by nature across the vSusquehanna, from late December until the river 

broke. Contractors made use of the ice to sink a third pier of the bridge through 

an opening made for the purpose late in February, 1818. Then came the freshet 

which, for a time, seemed to blight the hopes of those concerned that anv portion 

of the completed foundations of the bridge would escape destrtiction. The 

Gleaner oi March 6, 1818, voiced these fears as follows: 

"In consequence of a heavy fall of rain our ice bridge left us on Monday. The river immedi- 
ately after the ice started, rose to an unusual height, and as the ice was from 12 to 18 inches 
thick, and the river high, considerable damage was sustained. The two piers of the Bridge which 
was begun last season — one of which was quite, the other almost finished, were destroyed. The 
pier which was sunk by cutting a hole thro the ice, a few days before it started, we believe has 
escaped uninjured. * * *" 

In its issue of March 13th, at which time the waters had receded to below 
the danger line, the same newspaper reassured its readers that their fears had 
not been entirely realized, in the following more cheerful message: 

"We are happy to learn that the injury done to the piers of the Bridge, by the late extra- 
ordinary ice freshet, is much less than was at first believed, and that the completion of this elegant 
and noble structure will be but little retarded in consequence of the event From the spirited 
exertions making by the contractors we are warranted in the belief that it will be rendered pas- 
sable in the early part of the ensuing summer and that proper measures will be taken by the 
erection of ice-breakers to prevent the like occurrence taking place again. 

"The great bridge at McCalls Ferry was swept away by the ice in the night of Tuesday last. 
It is said the river Susquehanna has been higher this week than it has been in forty years before." 

Notwithstanding all that human ability could accomplish, Wilkes-Barre's 
first bridge seemed to have been touched heavily by the hand of fate. Work on 
the repair of damaged piers and the construction of two additional supports in 
the shallower water of the Kingston side proceeded rapidly in the spring and sum- 
mer of 1818, thus permitting the four wooden spans to be thrown between the 
five piers in the late summer and fall. 

By way of describing the general interest manifest in the work, the Wyoming 

Herald, of September 18th of that year, stated the following: 

"We have observed with much pleasure, the progress of this excellent structure. The severe 
ice freshet in the Spring cut down the ])iers, which had not been compkted the preceding season, 
owing to the frequent occurrence of high water; and in consequence of that circumstance, 


the work has been greatly delayed, the present season. The low water, which has for some time 
prevailed, has been extremely favourable to the work, and it now progresses as rapidly as the 
nature of the work will allow. 

"Two entire arches are raised, and the raising of the others is fast progressing. Should no 
unfortunate circumstance occur, we may expect to see the bridge passable in a few weeks. The 
structure is different in some respects, from any other bridge, which has been built in the State — 
and we are of opinion, that when finished it will be in workmanship, superior to any other bridge 
over the Susuqehanna." 

The bridge was floored and opened for traffic in December, 1818, although 
the sides and roof were not finished at that time. Once again, in the Spring of 

The Toll House 

Erected 1824 

1819, the bridge was to suffer severely at the hands of the elements. Under the 

largest type in its issue of April 30, 1819, the Wyoming Herald thus describes 


"Contrary to the general opinion entertained at the publication of our last paper, about 
4 o'clock on the afternoon of Monday last that pier of the Wilkesbarre Bridge which stood next 
to the Wilkesbarre shore, and which for some days preceding wore a very threatening aspect (being 
continually settling towards the Kingston shore) suddenly gave way at the top, and the two entire 
arches of the bridge resting thereon were, with a tremendous crash, precipitated into the river. 
The shore-arch remains in the water where it fell — -the other was towed to shore about half a mile 
below, where it remains — ^the timber of both being very much shattered, and much of the iron 
work injured. The other half of the bridge remains in a perfect state — in consequence of measures 
being previously taken to disconnect it from that part which had been destroyed." 

To Luther Thurston and Erastus Hill, was given the contract for renewing 
the damaged pier and relaying the dislodged spans, at their bid of $9,500. Not 
only was the deeper and swifter water near the Wilkes-Barre shore to be con- 
tended with in finding a substantial support for that pier, which had twice been 
destroyed, but river quicksands likewise had to be overcome by the use of piles. 


which were driven to a more secure footini:^. A notice in the Herald of Aii,f,aist 
20, 1819, related the following: 

"We learn with much pleasure that the managers of the Wilkesbarre Bridge have contracted 
with Islr. Thurston to rebuild that part of the bridge which fell in May last. The work is already 
conimenced, and from the character of Mr. Thurston, we are warranted in assuring the piil)lic 
(if no unforseen circumstances occur) that the bridge will be jjassable by December next." 

The same publication of December 24, 1819. confirmed the promises made 

by the Contractors in the following annotmcement, which mtist have added 

considerably to the Christmas cheer of promoters and the communitv alike: 

"We are happy to inform the public that the Bridg^ is now passable for waggons. Much 
credit is due Messrs. Thurston and Hill for their great industry and perseverance in accomplish- 
ing the work, which appears to he done in a very strong and substantial manner. The Managers 
too deserve the thanks of the jjcoplc for their exertions in rebuilding the bridge." 

After an uneventful use of the bridge for a period of four years, another un- 
propitious circumstance was to weld itself with other misfortunes of its early 
career. On February IS, 1824, the entire superstructure was swept from the 
piers by a windstorm which seems to have reached the violence of a hurricane. 
In WTiting of the event to the Record of the Times, on January 6, 1858, a con- 
tributor, signing himself A Sexagenarian, preserved the following account of 
an eye witness: 

"The former bridge was destroyed by wind in February, 1824. My father and myself 
happened to be crossing on the ice a few rods below the bridge that evening, loaded with a fine lot 
of bass that we had taken with hook and line at Toby's Eddy. There had been a heavy rain the 
night and day previous, and the wind was blowing almost a gale from the south west, which seemed 
to be stronger along the river than anywhere else. It took the bridge bodily from the piers, 
and it fell with a tremendous crash on the thick blue ice below, and broke into atoms. The ice 
broke up next day towards sundown, and carried downstream with it the most of the broken 
timbers and iron (a small portion having been removed that day) which was totally lost from the 
owners. I afterwards saw what purported to be a log house, standing on the bank of the river 
not far from Columbia which was built of the smooth pine timbers from the bridge, that had been 
taken up whilst floating down the stream." 

With this latest calamity to contend in their business affairs, officers and 
shareholders of the Bridge Company knew scarcely which way to turn to secure 
the necessary finances to again place the structure in shape for traffic. An appeal 
was made to the legislature for assistance on the ground that the bridge was a 
part of the State's system of transportation and therefore entitled to more than 
local financial support. The legislature thereupon evolved a plan, which for 
originality in detail, has few equals on our statute books. 

By an act passed March 30, 1824, Calvin Wadhams, George M. Hollen- 
back and Garrick Mallery were named Commissioners for the purpose of re- 
organizing the company's affairs, paying its debts and securing additional funds 
for reconstructing the bridge by ''collecting, of the purchase money due this Common- 
wealth, on certificates, liens or mortgages, on lands in the Seventeen Townships 
or such of the Townships as are in the County of Luzerne, the sum of fifteen thousand 
dollars, which sum is hereby appropriated for the use of the President, Managers 
and Company for the purpose of reconstructing a bridge over the river Susquehanna, 
at the borough of Wilkes-Barre, and to be by the said Commissioners, expended, 
exclusively and for no other purpose than in rebuilding and repairing the said bridge, 
if the company and its creditors comply with the terms of this act, hut not otherwise." 

The collections thus made were to be evidenced in the form of shares of 
stock in the company delivered to the commonwealth.* 

*In advertising a list of securitiei held in the State Treasury, in September. 1842, the Secretary of the Common- 
wealth named 580 shares of the Wilkes-Barre Bridge Company in the list, as was the case of 416 shares of the Bridge- 
water and Wilkes-Barre Road Company and 154 shares of the ClifTord and Wilkes-Barre Road Company. 


That these conditions were accepted is evidenced by the fact that the Com- 
missioners, by advertisement and personal solicitation, made known their rights 
under the act as collectors of all claims due the State. 

Realizing that the Commissioners were in earnest in enforcing payment 
of claims, and comforted, no doubt, by the thought that these long overdue 
accounts would now be spent on a local improvement rather than become a 
part of the State's general revenues, debtors throughout the affected area settled 
with such promptness that in October, 1824, the managers announced they were 
ready to let a contract for replacing the superstructure. 

As soon as weather conditions in February, 1825, permitted, a large force 
of men, under the capable supervision of Reuben Field, began the re-erection of 
the spans. December 6, 1825, was set aside as the occasion for dedicating the 
completed structure. Col. Benjamin Dorrance presided over a substantial 
dinner with which the ceremonies ended. The event was described in a sub- 
sequent issue of the Susquehanria Democrat in the usual flowery language of the 

"The day was ushered in by the discharge of cannon which thundered from mountain to 
mountain in grand style. The citizens awoke with joy on the occasion and gazed with i onspic- 
uous pride upon the Bridge, which in point of strength and beauty is not surpassed by any one in 
the United States. 

"But yesterday nothing but naked and shattered piers seemed to stand as monuments of 
the mighty ruin which once overwhelmed it. To-day as if by magic this most elegant structure 
rests proudly upon its arches, a blessing and ornament to the Borough, and surrounding country. 
Much gratitude is due from the people to Mr. Reuben Field— to those who procured the appro- 
priation — and to those whose unremitted and active exertions have contributed so largely to its 
accomplishment. At two o'clock the workmen and numerous assemblage of our farmers and citi- 
zens sat down at the discharge of a signal gun, to an excellent dinner prepared by I\Ir. O. Helme." 

With the completion of the toll house, sides and roof of the structure in 
the Spring of 1826, the "old covered bridge", by which name it was known 
to several subsequent generations of residents of Luzerne County, became a 
reality. An initial dividend of $1.25 
per share was paid on the stock, 
January 1, 1829, from which time 
forward, until the County of Luz- 
erne took over its property on June 
16, 1908, securities of the company 
were held in high esteem by local 

There is little more of its his- 
tory to be narrated. The Spring 
freshet of 1861, wrought some dam- 
age to its piers, and the bridge was 
closed to traffic for several weeks. 
Repairs were concluded in June 
however, and with the exception of 
some replacements necessitated by 
the freshet of 1865, service continued 
to be uninterrupted by any further 
action of the elements until it was decided to demolish the structure. In the 
Spring of 1885, the toll house at the Wilkes-Barre end being considered unsafe, 
was torn down. The year 1892 sealed the doom of the old bridge. The present 
(1924) steel structure at North street having been completed September 1, 1888, 

Market Street Bridge Toll House 

Flood of 1 865 


traffic from Market street was diverted to this new liitrhway while the timbers 
of the historic old structure gave place to the then modern steel spans which 
were to supersede them. The old brido^e was closed to traffic January 1, 1892, 
and on April 16th of the same year, the new and present IMarket street bridge 
was thrown open to the use of the public. At this writing, it, too, has out- 
lived its usefulness as a means of accommodating the pressure of modern traffic 
and, like its predecessor, it will eventually give way to what is hoped will become 
one of the most commodious and beautiful bridges of the country. 

Events of any growing comminiity in America cumulated in such \olume 
and moved with such rapidity, in earlier decades of the nineteenth century, 
that no historian, in attempting to set them down, can do more than select 
matters of permanent importance from among the mass of happenings of that 

Court sessions were invariably a matter of interest. A notice appearing 
in the Gleaner of August 16, 1811, indicated with what curiosity the community 
viewed the appearance of Judge vSeth Chapman of Northumberland, who suc- 
ceeded the learned but arbitrary Judge Cooper who had been impeached as 
President Judge:* 

"The court was numerously attended, curiosity called many to Court to see the new judge. 
The dejjortmcnt of Judge Chapman is very mild and conciliatory, and his decisions have t^een 
very satisfactory. Judge Cooper has formally protested against the Judge's taking his seat, 
claiming still to be the President Judge of the Court, as he contends he was not constitution- 
ally removed." 

*Incident3 connected with the dramatic proceedings leading to Judge Cooper's impeachment will be found in the 
following obituary of Judge Cooper, published in the Willlamsporl Gazelle and Bulletin shortly after his death; 

"Judge Cooper, a distinguished Englishman, was born in London, October 22, 1759. He was educated at Oxford 
and became proficient in chemistry and acquired an extensive knowledge of law and medicine. He was driven out 
of England on account of the very active part he took in favor of the French Revolution of 1789. which brought him 
in conflict with Edmund Burke, who threatened him with prosecution. He fled to America and joined his friend. 
Dr. Priestly, at Northumberland, in 1794, who had preceded him a few years. Soon after his arrival here he entered on 
the practice of the law, in the courts then presided over by Judge Rush. 

"He also became a Jeffersonian politician, and attacking Adams in a newspaper communication, which he pub- 
lished in the Reading. Pennsylvania. Weekly Adverliser of Oct. 26, 1799, was tried for a libel under the sedition law in 
1800. and sentenced to six months imprisonment and a fine of $400. 

"The Democratic party coming into power. Gov. McKean. in 1806, appointed Cooper President Judge of the 
Common Pleas district, composed of the counties of Northumberland, Luzerne and Lycoming. 

Judge Cooper held his first Court at Sunbury. in April, 1806, and at once began to introduce changes which he 
■supposed necessary to maintain proper silence in and add dignity to the Court, as the courts previously held there by 
Judge Rush, had, through his easy and gentle nature, been too noisy and disorderly. The lawyers, suitors and specta- 
tors, however, did not like this new move, and it gradually, both there and at Wilkes-Barre, laid the foundation for 
the complaints, that, in 1811. led to his impeachment before the State Legislature, for official misconduct. .Vnd in 
March. 1811. he was brought before a Special Committee of the State Senate, then sitting at Lancaster, to answer 
certain charge; of complaint, ten in number, with a view to his removal from office. E. Greenough. Esq., of Sunbury, 
appeared as the attorney of the complainants, and Thomas Duncan, Esq., of Carlisle, appeared as counsel for Judge 
Cooper. The charges against him were as follows: 

"1. Fining and imprisoning Constable HoUister in 1807, at Wilkes-Barre, for whispering in court, the fine being 
52 and imprisonment for one hour. 

"2, Fining and imprisoning John Hannah, an Irishman, of Northumberland, at his first court in Sunbury, in 1806. 
for wearing his hat in open court. 

"Cooper admitted the truth of these complaints, but maintained that said fines and imprisonments were necessary 
to secure proper silence and decorum in the court house. He further said that a court house deserved as much respect 
as a church or a school house did. and that if Hannah had claimed himself to be a Quaker, or to have any conscientious 
scruples about pulling off his hat in a court house he would not have fined or imprisoned him, but that he had made no 
such claims and so deserved no extra favors. 

"3. Passing sentence of one year' s imprisonment, at Wilkes-Barre. on one Gough, a young horse thief who had 
confessed his guilt, and on the next day, on hearing of his being an old offender, calling him up before the court and 
passing a second sentence on him. increasing his imprisonment from one to three years. 

"Cooper admitted this to be true, but maintained that during the session of the court he had the right and power 
to alter sentences or judgment so as to correct his own mistakes and do what justice required; as, otherwise, lawyers and 
parties would at times be put to unnecessary trouble, expense and delay to have such errors corrected by means of a 
writ of error or the like. 

"4. Deciding important points in a case in which he had a pecuniary interest. 

"Cooper denied this in a long statement of facts. 

"5, Setting aside the verdict of the Jury in an intemperate and passionate manner in the case of .\lbright vs. Cowdeii. 

"Cooper denied his having done this in the manner alleged. 

"6. Brow beating counsel and witnesses. 

"Cooper denied this charge also, and said that he had done nothing more in reprimanding counsel than was neces 
-arv for making statements that were unsupported by evidence, and for persisting in objections to matters after the 
court had decided them and allowed the right of filing exceptions to his opinions; which were necessary to make the 
counsel and witnesses preserve silence, order and decorum in the court house. 

"7, Appearing armed with deadly weapons at the court house in Williamsport. 

"Cooper said that he had done it but once, and then only because some man had threatened him with personal 

"8. Refusing to hear parties speak in their own defense. 

"Cooper denied this in toto, and there was not the slightest evidence of any >ufh ri-fusa' by him. 


A glance at the list of officers and managers of the Wilkes-Barre Bridge 
Company, through the years of its early trials and struggles, will disclose the 
fact that a new generation of public spirited men, like newer figures of the bench 
and bar, were forging to the front. Fortunately for the community, there was 
not the same degree of speculation indulged by them in private business affairs 
as appears to have swept other portions of the State at this time. Among the 
wildest and most fraudulently conceived speculations of these early years one, 
notably, had its body in Luzerne County but its head and directing genius at Phila- 
delphia. A brief reference to the "City of Rome" bubble will serve to indicate 
that get-rich-quick promoters, blue-sky swindlers and those who prey upon the 
credulity of a none too wise public, were present then as now. To the Gleaner 
must be given credit for fearlessly exposing this pitiless fraud. Noticing adver- 
tisements of sudden wealth to be acquired by the purchase of lots in this city of 
promise, the editor made investigation to discover that the promoters had 
selected for their purpose a large acreage of valueless lands, a considerable portion 
of which was known as the "Great Swamp." The recently completed Easton 
and Wilkes-Barre turnpike, passing nearby, w^as its only asset. 

The Gleaner, in its issue of February 8, 1811, thus portrays the situation: 

"A bolder speculation has not been lately attempted than that of selling the 'City of Rome.' 
A town plot has been laid out in the 'Great Swamp' about seventeen miles from Wilkes-Barre 
and about five east of the Lehigh bridge (Stoddartsvillej. 

"The proprietors ad captandum have given the spot the title of the 'City of Rome' and 
are selling out the lots, principally in Philadelphia. The spot is a wilderness and nature hath 
stamped upon it her irrevocable signet that a wilderness it shall remain. It has not a single re- 
quisite for a village. In the city papers we saw with surprise that at an election held by the pro- 
prietors of the 'City of Rome,' a president, secretary and eighteen directors were elected to superin- 
tend its concern. 

"Let us consider the honorable council assembled on the spot, in solemn session — the 
president seated beneath the cragged boughs of an old hemlock; the honorable council squat 
around him cross-legged like so many Chickasaw chiefs, or sitting on the rotten logs or remains 
of some old 'windfall,' the worship's breeches 'all tattered and torn' by the struggle in getting 
through the brush at the capitol. No need of closed doors. 

"Congress might remove to 'Rome' and debate their most important matters without 
the least possible hazard of any mortal hearing a syllable of their proceedings. 

"There being nobody but the honorable council to legislate for but themselves, the first 
bill would be passed nem. con. to send out of the swamp to replenish their knapsacks and their 
noggins. The second would probably be entitled 'an ordinance to keep up fires through the night 
to secure the council from the wolves.' " 

"It must, however, be confessed that that place being infested by wolves is no good reason 
why it will not hereafter become a populous and potent city, particularly when we recollect the 
support afforded by those animals to the founders of its namesakes, the mistress of the world. 
From the situation of the city we are rather of the opinion that 'Tadmor' would be a more ap- 
propriate name." 

"9, Allowing horse racing to go on at Sunbury after he had issued a proclamation against it. 

"Cooper said that racing was allowed to prevent the various losses that would othervvise have befallen the tavern 
keepers, who had made much preparation for entertaining the horse racing visitors, and it was only allowed on the con- 
dition that there should be no gambling or rioting at said races, and no such horse racing in the county thereafter. 

"10, Fining and imprisoning Constable Conner for neglecting to execute a warrant put into his hands for the arrest 
of Jacob Langs, a counterfeiter, of (now) Union County, until Langs made his escape, said warrant being unconstitutional 
and contrary to the laws of Pennsylvania. 

"Cooper replied that when said warrant was issued he considered it constitutional and lawful, and also right to 
have it promptly executed. 

"A large number of witnesses, both against him and for him, were examined before the committee, and then, as 
we learn from John Binns' Republican Argus, a paper published at Northumberland, Judge Cooper spoke four and 
a half hours, in a very eloquent and impressive manner, in his own defense. And, after hearing the speeches of Messrs. 
Greenough and Duncan, the Committee of Senate entered upon the consideration of the whole matter and made the 
following report to the Legislature: 

" 'Your committee for the premises are of the opinion that the official conduct of President Judge Cooper has been 
arbitrary, unjust and precepitate, contrary to sound policy and dangerous to the pure administration of justice. They, 
therefore, submit the following resolution: 

" 'Resolved, That a committee be appointed to draft an address to the Governor for the removal of Thomas Cooper, 
Esq., from the office of President Judge of the Courts in the Eleventh Judicial District of Pennsylvania. 

"He was therefore removed by Gov. Snyder, in 1811. and Seth Chapman appointed in his place. There was great 
rejoicing at Northumberland over the action of the Legislature and a cannon was fired by the people. 

"Judge Cooper again returned to his practice at the bar, but he was soon afterwards appointed professor of chemistry 
in Dickinson College, Carlisle, subsequently, in 1816, held a professorship of mineralogy and chemistry in the University 
of Pennsylvania; and shortly after, in 1819, became, at first, Professor of Chemistry, then, in 1820, President of the South 
Carolina College. He also discharged the duties of Professor of Chemistry and Political Economy. Retiring from this 
post on account of age. in 1834, he was employed by the Legislature of South Carolina in revising the statutes of the 
State. He died, May 11, 1840, at the age of 81." 


That Philadelphia papers gave space to this exposure and thus helped put 
an end to the nefarious project can be inferred from a subsequent reference to 
the same subject in its issue of xVpril 26th of the same year: 

"This speculation is completely blown. We understand that the proprietor curses the 
Gleaner for its interference, for it ruined his fortune. We are heartily glad of it, for while we would 
with heart and hand encourage every proper enterprise, we shall always he ready to expose the 
tricks of the swindler and save the industrious and honest laborer from the imposter. We are 
told that a great number of poor deluded but industrious men, some with and some without fam- 
ilies, have come up from Philadelphia to get employment in the famous city, having in the first 
place laid out their pittance in town lots, and a ship-builder arrived on the confines of the forest 
having been persuaded to buy and remove there to set up business." 

Just what particular brand of reformation was in the air, in 1813, is not 
disclosed by minutes of the Kingston Moral vSociety, which met at the Myers 
tavern upon frequent occasions. The plan of operation, however, as well as 
other matters of interest in affairs of the organization are to be noted in minutes 
of November 13, 1813, as follows: 

"The Reverend Benjamin Bidlack was cal 'd to the Chair, the Reverend Charles ChajMnan 
appointed Secretary Pro tem. 

"The following Gentlemen Members of said Society were then Chosen as a Committee of 
Vigilance agreeable to the provisions of the Constitution of the same: Abel W^heller, Edward 
Foster, Samuel Carver, Charles Harris, Solomon Chapin, David Perkins, Esq., Fisher Gay, 
Capt. Joseph Tuttle, Capt. Benjamin Smith, Elisha Atherton Second, James Hughes, Horace 
Parker, Joseph Sweetland, John Goss, George Nase, Elisha Atherton, Capt. Daniel Hoyt, Capt. 
Henry Buckingham, Darius Williams, Chatham Wilson, William Barker and Aaron Dean, whose 
Duty it shall be from and after the date of their receiving Notice of their appointment to dili- 
gently enquire after and due presentment make of all of Breaches of the good and wholesome Laws 
of this Commonwealth which shall come to their Knowledge and as far as in them lies endeavor 
to bring to condign Punishment every and all such offenders 

"Colonel Benjamin Dorrance was appointed Treasurer of said Society for the year ensuing, 
Charles Chapman, Recording Secretary and Voted that the Proceedings of these Meetings be 
signed by the Chairman and Secretary and published in the three Newspapers printed in Wilkes - 
barre, which advertisements shall be considered sufficient Notice to all the Officers chosen by said 
Society of their appointment. Benjamin Bidlack Chairman. 

"(attest) Charles Chapman, Recording Secretary." 

While the press of the community chronicled sinister affairs of the world, 
it likewise took account of local recreations and pastimes which served to keep 
readers in good humor. Mention is frequently made of grand balls held in the 
upper rooms of the Fell tavern. Dancing masters evidently found lucrative 
employment for their services if one is to judge from the number of advertise- 
ments appearing. 

Pearce (page 416) is authority for the statement that before the year 
1811, the young men of Wilkes-Barre, Hanover, Kingston, Plymouth, and sur- 
rounding townships, formed a society which they called "The Harvey's Lake 
Association." The object of the society was to celebrate the 4th of July in each 
year, in a becoming manner, at the lake. A table was spread beneath the branches 
of the forest, and it was laden with wild game from the surrounding highlands 
and fish from the clear waters of the lake. 

"We extract" continues the narrative, "the following from a poem dedicated 

to 'The Patriots of Harvey's Lake,' in 1811. It was written by a rude mountain 

native of Luzerne, a few days before he joined his patriotic brethren to celebrate 

the national birthday:" 

" 'To Harvey's Lake let us repair, July the fourth here we'll record. 

'Convival scenes exhibit there, 'While trout and venison crown the board, 

'Our independence there revive, 'With rural viands of the best, 

'And keep our freedom still alive, 'And juleps too to give them zest. 

'And celebrate in social glee 'Our Independence there we'll boast, 

'The day that set our country free. 'Its heroes not forget to toast — 

'The landscape there, the dale and hill. Join in their deeds, their virtues name, 

'Is in a state of nature still. 'And nobly kindle with their flame, 

'Beneath a wide-spread oaken shade 'Gainst cursed ambition all forwarn, 

'Shall we our sylvan table spread; 'And give to Freedom ages yet unborn.' " 


The Wilk'es-Barre Academy did not hide its hght under the proverbial 
bushel, as frequent printed notices as to its courses and faculty will attest. It 
was rivaled, to some extent by the establishment of the Kingston Academy in 
1812, and the Plymouth Academy in 1815. 

That some forms of the manly art of self defence as well as a study of 
military subjects were included in the education of young men of the time is 
indicated by an announcement of D. 
Cheeseborough, on June 12, 1816, who 
informed "the gentlemen of this vicinity 
that he had opened a Military school in 
the villages of Kingston and Wilkesbarre, 
where he will teach the following 
branches if required of him. All the var- 
ious branches of the evolutions suitable 
for cavalry, artillery, and infantry; together with the art of fencing with the 
broad-sword, small sw^ord, and cut and thrust." 

It should not escape mention that a predecessor of the late P. T. Barnum 

brought what was probably the first circus to the community in 1813. We may 

imagine with what expectancy and possible financial introspection the following 

announcement in the Gleaner of July 2, 1813 was read: 


"To be seen at Capt. F. Crisman's in Hanover on Monday the 5th of July; at John P. 
Arndt's Wilkesbarre on the 6th and 7th; at Kingston the 8th. 

"The Elephant is not only the largest and most sagacious animal in the world, but from 
the peculiar manner in which it takes its food and drink of every kind, with its trunk, is acknow- 
ledged to be the greatest natural curiosity ever offered to the public. The one now offered to the 
view of the curious is a female. She will draw the cork from a bottle. She is 13 years old, and 
measures upwards of twenty feet from the end of her trunk to that of her tail; 12 feet around the 
body ; upwards of 8 feet high, and weighs more than 5000 pounds. Perhaps the present generation 
may never have an opportunity of seeing an Elephant again, as this is the only one in America, 

and this perhaps its last visit to this place. Admit- 
tance, 25 cents. Children, half price. Also to be seen 
at the same times and places a collection of wax figures. 
Admission \2l4 cents." 

JS^Gw-^—or Jsfever ! 

That this original amusement venture must 
have been remunerative to its owner may be 
judged from the fact that it came again in 
1818, as may be gathered from a reproduction, 
appearing herewith, of a handbill used upon 
the latter occasion. 

Peculiar in the weather annals of an early 
day were meteorological conditions of the year 
1816. This year has been called the year with- 
out a vSummer, for there were sharp frosts in 
every month. January was mild, so was 
February, with the exception of a few days. 
The greater part of March was cold and bois- 
terous. April opened mild, but grew colder 
as it advanced, ending with snow, ice and 
winter cold. In May ice formed one-half inch thick, buds and flowers were frozen 
and corn killed. Frost, ice and snow were common in June. Almost every green 
thing was killed and the fruit was nearly all destroyed. Snow fell to the depth 
of three inches in New York and Massachusetts and ten inches in Maine July 

jVI^VY be se^h at Mjv 
?Jorg*an's Tavern, in the 
borough of Wilkesbarre, oii 
J^ednesday, tbe last day o| 
Sept. -Hist, and Thursd^f? 
the Istof Octofo. ^'-i 

Sept. 25,Ii8l8. 


was accompanied by frost and ice. On the tiftli ice as thick as window glass was 
formed in New York, New England and Pennsylvania, and corn was nearly all 
killed in certain sections. In August ice formed one-half inch thick. 

A cold northwest wind prevailed nearly all summer. Corn was so frozen 
that much was cut and dried for fodder. W^ry little ripened in New England 
and scarcely any even in the Middle States. Farmers were obliged to pay four 
or five dollars a bushel for corn of 1816, for the next Spring's planting. The first 
two weeks of September were mild, the rest cold with frosts and ice one-fourth inch 
thick. October was colder than usual, with frosts and ice; November cold and 
blustering, with snow enough for good sleighing. December quite mild and 

The G/cawc/' of June 14, 1816, mentions ice which appeared on "five mornings 
in succession since June 1st. ( )ur Indian corn and potatoes are cut down and 
beans, melons, pumpkins and cucumbers are entirely destroyed." 

In recording an unusually heavy frost on August 28th of that year, the 
same publication refers to the killing of practically the entire buckwheat crop, 
much of it planted on the same acres which had witnessed the destruction of 
corn crops earlier in the season. The same issue editorially suggested that all 
distilleries of the county be closed for the balance of the year in order to conserve 
grain, and that such quantities of whiskey as were needed in the community be 
procured at "points down the river." 

In further testimony of the efTect of this peculiar year upon the Wyoming 
Valley is a portion of a narrative of Dilton Yarington, contributed to the ]]'ilkes- 
Barre Leader, March 15, 1887, as follows: 

"You ask for reminiscences of the "cold summer" of 1816. That year was a sorry time for 
farmers and all others that tried to raise crops of any kind, as well as for consumers who were 
obliged to purchase provisions or any of the necessaries of life. Wages of the laboring classes 
were not high in proportion to the cost of living. It was a hard time for the poor. For two months 
of that summer there were three black spots on the sun, plainly visible to the naked eye; the 
weather most of the time was so cool that woolen apparel was absolutely necessary for comfort. 
There were severe frosts several nights during each summer month, and the small amount of 
corn that got through the month of Sejitember, and was then in the milk state, was entirely 
frozen and killed, and the ears of corn in the husks became rotton. The stench was so offensive 
that people would avoid passing a cornfield when the wind was toward them. Cattle would not 
tat the stalks until the rotten ears were taken off. It was said, and probably truthfully, that 
not a bushel of sound corn was raised in Luzerne County that season. Nor were there any fruit 
or garden vegetables raised that frost could kill. But during these privations of the people, they 
had one comfort, there was the greatest run of shad up the Susquehanna River that Spring, 
that was ever before or since known." 

Winters of the two following years were of unusual severity. Prices, 
particularly of foodstuffs, were aft'ected materially by these untoward conditions, 
and much complaint began to be manifested as to a comparison of living costs 
with wages and the returns of business enterprise. 

In March, 1817, a contributor of the Gleaner thus lamented: 

"I wish to buy land. It is from twenty to fifty dollars an acre in the \'alley of Wyoming. 
I wish to buy corn ; there is hardly a bushel to be got even at S2 ]jer t)us. 

"Beef is scarce, and he is a good fellow who has jjork enough to grease his griddle. What 
can the industrious poor man do^ * * *" 

The Fall of 1818, brought to a successful conclusion the first strike which 
the records of Wyoming disclose. It concerned itself with the none too pros- 
perous affairs of the Bridge company. 

Under date of October 30, 1818, the following notice was served tipon the 
company : 

"We the subscribers, do unanimously agree that we will not continue to 
work anv longer at the Wilkes-Barre bridge than to-morrow evening unless we 


are paid for our former services in good chartered notes of Pennsylvania, and 
a fair prospect of having our pay every two weeks hereafter." This was signed 
by Abiel Abbott, J. Henry, Daniel White, Owen Evans, Nathan Allen, Wilham 
vSpicer, David Lewis, Nehemiah Ide, Asa Bacon, Asa F. Snell, Stephen Scott, 
Reuben Daily, James Fitzgerald and Philip Roach. 

Investigation disclosed the fact that though the contractors had been over 
paid they had not paid their hands and had no money with which to meet their 
demands and avert the strike. However, the superstructure being in a critical 
situation from its unfinished state and the probability of a rise of water, it was 
directed that orders of the contractors for wages due and which may be earned 
be paid by the treasurer. 

Occasionally through the now dim outlines of these early affairs, comes a 
ray of light in the form of an old record which gives us an opportunity to judge 
more clearly of the times themselves and the men concerned with them. A sort 
of cross section of the period can be imagined from a portion of a description of 
Wilkes-Barre in 1818, written many years afterward by Dilton Yarington. He 
lists the prominent men of the community, in that year, from memory, as follows: 

"Court — David Scott, President Judge; Matthias Hollenback, Jesse Fell, Associate Judges. 

"Bar — Roswell Wells, Ebenezer Bowman, Thomas Dyer, Thomas Overton, George Evans, 
Garr ck Mallery, George Denison, James Bowman, Oristes Collins, Washington Lee. 

"Business Men — Wm. Ross, Wm. S. Ross, Lord Butler, Steuben Butler, Pierce Butler, 
John L. Butler, Lord Butler, Jr., Chester Butler, John W. Robinson, Jonathan Hancock, John 
Hancock, Wm. Hancock, Stephen Tuttle, Isaac Bowman, Horatio Bowman, Sidney Tracy, 
Edwin Tracy, Peleg Tracy, Charles Tracy, Joshua Miner, Joshua Greene, Thos. Davidge, James 
Luker, Seth Wilson, James Gridley, Eleazer Carey, Caleb Kendall George Hotchkiss, Washing- 
ton Ewing, Job Gibbs, IVIoses Beamer, Mr. Dupuy, Dominick Germain, William Cox, Peter 
Yarington, Luther Yarington, Samuel Bowman, A. H. Bowman, Wm. L- Bowman, Geo. M, 
Hollenback, Peter P. Loop, Benjamin Perry, Samuel Maffitt, Jacob Cist, Joseph Slocum, Samuel 
Fell, Conrad Teeter, Jacob E. Teeter, Francis Rainow, Benjamin Drake, Lloyd Alkins, Jacob 
J. Dennis, Barnet Ulp, Edward Fell, Dr. Crary, Dr. Covell, Dr. Miner, Rev. George Lane, Rev. 
Hoyt, Daniel Collings, Mr. Russell, John Settle, Samuel Bettle, Gilbert Laird, Archippus Parrish, 
Daniel White, George Cahoon, George Haines, Oliver Helme, James Helme, Hiram Perrin, 
Andrew Beaumont, Harris Colt, Arnold Colt, Henry Colt, Harris Colt, Jr., Chester Colt, Henry 
Colt, Jr., Henry C. Anhaeuser, Abm. Thomas, Jonathan Bulkeley, Eliphalet A. Bulkeley, Henry 
F. Lamb, John Michael Kinsley, Peter Raflferty, Jacob Rafferty, Thomas Ely, George Ely, 

James Ely, Gilbert Barnes, Jacob Sinton, Joseph Sinton, Hugh Gorman, Carkhuff, Thomas 

Carkhuff, Isaac A. Chapman, Edward Chapman, Joseph H. Chapman, Josiah Lewis, John Con- 
nor, Peter Connor, David Connor, Cornelius Connor, Simon Monagaye, Josiah Wright, Matthias 
Hoffman, Dr. Lathan Jones, Job Burton, Thomas Patterson, Thomas Price, John P. Arndt, 

Ziba Bennett, Amasa Jones, Joel Jones, Jacob Rudolph, Keithline, George Root, Benjamin 

St. John, Rev. Mr. Rogers, Harry Blakeman." 

Not all of those mentioned as "business men" in the Yarington narrative 
were permanent residents of the community. Many were itinerant traders who 
plied the river in Durham boats, renting temporary places of trade in the river 
towns. Frequent changes in the personnel of those occupying well established 
places of business were likewise to be noted. The firm of J. Grantham and Com- 
pany, having in 1811, succeeded Allen Jack in the general mercantile business, 
built up a widely extended trade. They erected a two story brick storeroom 
on River street north of the Drake residence, in 1815, and were among Wilkes- 
Barre's most prosperous merchants of the early twenties. The Hollenback store, 
oldest in point of continuous service, of all the retail enterprises of the community, 
was likewise leading a prosperous career, with George M. Hollenback assuming 
many of the responsibilities of his father. Judge Hollenback. James and William 
Barnes, having begun business in 1811, in partnership with Capt. Peleg Tracy, 
under the name of Barnes, Tracy and Co. purchased the interest of Captain 
Tracy and for many years thereafter continued a large trade under the firm name 


of J. and W. Barnes. Anions the rather inconi^riious nierchanclise a(ivertised 
by the latter firm were, "a general assortment of I{uropean and India ^oods, 
brought from New York; books, stationery and cider barrels." 

Robinson and King had succeeded to the business of John P. Arndt at 
the store above the Arndt tavern. Anhaeuser and Gildersleeve conducted a 
general store on the site of the present Miners Bank. 

In 1819, was recorded the opening of the first exclusive boot and shoe store, 
the proprietor, Richard Sweasy, announced that he "could be found in the old 
Lane storeroom on Public vSquare." John Ward was the communitv tailor of 
the period, at a shop in the Arndt tavern. 

Among the rudimentary manufacturing enterprises of the time might 
be included the carriage making establishment of Thomas and Abraham Tolles; 
a hat making establishment, dating back to 1807, on the same lot as the An- 
haeuser and Gildersleeve store, a book binding plant conducted by David Irving 
over the office of the Susquehanna Democrat, and a gun smithery on the north 
side of the Square, with Jacob Young as chief artisan. 

That the ladies were not neglected in catering to the general trade of 

the county and that Wilkes-Barre was no longer the isolated communitv of its 

infancy, may be gathered from advertisements appearing at different periods of 

the first quarter of the nineteenth century For the novelty of its appeal, the 

following deserves a place: 


"The Subscriber informs the public that she has opened a milHner shop in Bank street ne.\t 
door above the Bank, where she intends keeping an assortment of Bonnets, caps, handkerchiefs, 
Gloves, Ribands, &c. And all the articles attached to the line of millinery. 

"She flatters herself that she will be remembered by her friends. Her Alethodist friends 
can be accommodated with plain but neat Caps and Bonnets. Ladies living at a distance can have 
Bonnets sent in boxes as frequent opportunities offer. 

"As this is the first shop of the kind ever estabhshed in Luzerne she hopes the ladies vv=ll be 
liberal in encouraging her attempt, and the more so as her circumstances are known to be indigent. 
They will have the pleasing reflection that their money has been expended to their own satis- 
faction and the benefit of 

Parthenia Gordon." 

Not to be oittdone in catering to a species of luxury which was making it- 
self apparent in dress and personal appearance, the following notices from the 
Susquehanna Democrat of 1826, seem worth a reference: 


"Barber, Hair Dresser, Coat Cleaner and Boot-blacker, Respectfully informs the gentlemen 
of Wilkesbarre, that he has opened a shop on Water street, door above the Bank, where he will 
be happy to wait on them in his line of business. 

Ladies by calling can be supplied with very beautiful false curls." 

"January 12." 

"Col. George French 

"Ladies and Gentlemen's hair dresser, Boot and shoe Blacker, &c. Informs the citizens of 
this borough that he has opened an establishment on the Public Square, one door west of the 
Presbyterian Meeting house, where he intends to carry on, in their various branches, the business 
of dressing Ladies' and Gentlemen's hair, blacking Boots and shoes, brushing clothes, &c. — All 
of which he will do upon the shortest notice, and in the most fashionable manner at his ofiice 

"Jan. 19, 1826. 

"N. B. He would inform the Ladies that he will su])ply them as usual, with that very 
necessary article, made of Hickory, which is so much in use by them. 

'The editor of the Herald, shall have his boots blacked 3 months for inserting the above." 


Of the early business places of Wilkes-Barre, none appears to have been 
mentioned more often in chronicle and reminiscences than the Sinton store. 
Jacob and Joseph Sinton were Quakers who came from Sunbury, to Wilkes-Barre, 
in 1804, and set themselves up in 
business on River street, on the __ i 

site of the present Sterling hotel. ^ j^ 

Their first announcement to the ')Q 

public appeared in the Federalist ^ ^ ^^\ 

of November 3rd of that year 
and from that time forth they 
became the leading advertisers 
among local merchants. This 
early announcement indicated 
that they had bought out the 
firm of Rozet and Doyle* and 
had for sale "groceries, china and 
queen's ware, iron mongery and 
dry goods, which, as they do not 
intend to sell on credit, they will 
dispose of on reasonable terjns 
of cash or country produce." 

In August, 1815, the Sintons moved their building from River, to the south- 
west corner of New and Center streets, (the present Franklin and Market streets) 
and erected an addition to the original structure. From that time until the death 
of Joseph, the junior partner, February 1, 1836, and that of the senior partner, 
Jacob, December 23, 1837, the firm of J. and J. Sinton was known throughout 
the whole trading area of Northeastern Pennsylvania. By realizing the value 
of advertising which, never under any circumstance, even intimated a mis- 
statement; by the most scrupulous honesty of dealing and by a kindliness of 
disposition and manner of the owners, the goodwill established was considered 
of great value by subsequent firms that continued to occupy the premises. 
In fact, until the time the building was demolished in 1860, it still retained the 
name of the Sintons above the entrance as a standard of excellence in the con- 
duct of a retail establishment. The most interesting description which the present 
writer has discovered of the partners, and some of the goods they sold, is con- 
tained in "Reminiscences of Early Wilkes-Barre" by Samuel A. Lynch, Esq. 
(published in Proceedings of the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society, 
Vol. \TI:58). The account follows: 

"The old landmark of the olden time 'Sinton store' has a history, and a perfect represen- 
tation of the same may be seen in the Historical rooms. Jacob and Joseph Sinton were the owners, 
and served the people for many years with goods, served out with the strictest honesty. At 
that time, the old Spanish currency of sixpences, shillings, quarters, etc., was in us?, a sixpence 
being six and a quarter cents, and a shilling twelve and a half cents. These honest Quakers made 
change with pins, cigars, &c., to see that everyone got the honest change, to a quarter of a cent; 
they would give ladies their half cents in pins or needles, and the men in 'half Spanish cigars,' 
two for a cent, or gun flints, perhaps, if they wanted any. In measuring molasses, in the summer, 
they used a long, wooden knife, made from a shingle, to scrape the tin measure. In winter, when 
molasses was stiff and not disposed to run, they would tell the customer to come back in half an 
hour, giving sufficient time for the molasses to make its way through the funnel into the jug or 
other receptacle, being placed by the stove in the meantime, and then never failing to scrape the 
measure into the funnel and thus see that none was left behind. The house in which they hved 
was near by, about where Butler's Book store was, on Market street; a double frame house, 

*"The firm of Rozet and Doyle had formerly been in business at Asylum. Upon the dsiline of that colony, they 
moved their goods to Wilke;-Barre and established a general store which they opened in th^ Spring of 1804. 

^ ^ 

E. D* 


close to the street, and their garden extended from there to the alley, towards the river, surrounded 
by a high board fence. In front was a row of Lombardy Poj^lar trees, at the outer edge of the side- 
walk. This story of their extreme honesty reminds me of a funny incident that is said to have 
happened at another store, where two brothers, John and Jacob, were in business. John had gone 
to dinner, a customer with a jug called for a quart of vinegar and Jacob went down into the cellar 
to draw it and called up to the cvistomer that his jug didn't hokl a quart. 'Never mind.' was the 
reply, 'wait till John comes, he can get it in, he never failed yet.' No doubt there were other 
honest merchants in the town, but none so extreme in their honesty, so I'ar as 1 can recollect; 
and, of course, it had an effect on their customers, as children could be sent on errands, to get any 
small articles, with perfect confidence that they would Ije honestly served. 

"It has been said that fashion repeats itself, and, no doubt, some fashions do; but how 
many of the present generation have ever seen a 'calash,' or know what it means, although it 
was very much in use back in the thirties, and a very convenient, handy and handsome article 
of headdress of the ladies? It w^as light in weight, and w^hen the fair sex had their hair dressed, 
to go visiting, this 'calash' was usually worn to prevent any disarrangement of the same. It 
was made of a thin material, barege, or something akin to it, sometimes green sometimes blue, 
over light hoops, and could be thrown back or brought forward like a buggy or gig to]), being tied 
under the chin. When thrown forward, the face of the wearer could only be seen from a front 
view. The dress of the man was generally a frock coat, or a swallow tail, with the collar stiff 
with padding coming well u]) under the ears, a large, black silk handkerchief folded neatly and 
passing round the neck twice and tied in front in a bow knot. It was the fashion to have this 
handkerchief come out in front, to the end of the chin, and well up under the ears, shirt collars 
sometimes just showing their points of white above, and very often no collar at all. The ruffle 
shirt was occasionally seen on men of style. Boots were in general use, and trousers were sometimes 
worn with straps under the foot, the trousers varying in width, sometimes very wide, at others 
very tight, as the changes in fashion dictated. Boy's clothing was generally made with tucks at 
the bottom of the trousers, which were let down as the youngsters grew in stature. There was no 
ready made clothing in those days; the goods for these were purchased at the stores, together 
with all the trimmings, and made up at the tailors, or by the family or seamstresses. Hats were 
usually of fur, or silk, and were of the high order, white or black. Boys and men, too, wore caps 
much more than now, and common straw hats in summer. A linen blouse with a shirt waist and 
large sleeves, buttoned at the waist, was quite the rage among the young men at one time for 
summer wear, and that is one of the styles, like the 'calash' of the ladies, that has never returned, 
since that day. For a correct idea of the ladies' dress, of that time, the writer would respectfully 
refer the curious to the fashion plates of that date, as he feels himself altogether inadequate to 
describe it. As the present dress of the ladies is indescribable, how much more so that of half a 
century ago." 

When the buildino^ was bein^ demoHshed, the Record of the Times, under 
date of April 11, 1860, published the following comment: 

"The Old Corner Gone : On Saturday the old yellow shanty so long on the corner of Market 
and Franklin streets, known as Sinton's store, was demolished. Nearly fifty years ago it was 
removed to the corner temporarily, from the river bank, and it has stood there ever since, one of 
the most successful stores in town. 

"There are many who remember the voice of Jacob and the ready joke of "Uncle Joe," 
whose faces have long been gone. The present generation know nothing of them but the sign 
"Sinton's Store' w^hich has kept its place unchanged to the last. 

"A few gentlemen took a farewell smoke in the old store on Friday evening, and we have a 
l^romise of the proceedings, which will probably be reported in another place.* 

"The old storehouse sold at public sale for SI2.75, to E. J. Sturdevant. The back store house 
being newer and with good timlier, brought S25, and was struck off to John Brown. The old sign 
was reserved for the Historical Society. It has stood the storm in the same i)osition for nearly 
50 winters." 

But times were changing, and with them a new generation was showing 

a tendency to take hold of business, public and private. The process is an entirely 

natural one. Any period, even so brief as a decade, will indicate in any growing 

communit\' an identical tendency. John P. Arndt, one of the sturdy figures of an 

earlier day was to meet the fate which freqtiently befalls those whose business 

becomes over-extended for one reason or another. vSheriff's sales in the fall of 

*Stewart Pearce, the historian wrote the contribution. In its issue of May 22. 191 1 , a contributor to the W'ilkes- 
Barre Record, signing himself "L". explains an otherwise cryptic account as follows; 

"Mr. Pearce. in language both solemn and pathetic, describes the last evening, when a number of the lovers of 
the old place gathered, April 6, 1860, amid the torn down shelves and counters, to talk over old times, and old associ- 
ations. He mentions those present as: Uncle S., the Deacon. Judge T.. Gen. H.. Judge L.. Maj. S., Capt. H . Edward. 
Maj. G. and Charley." As the writer was present that night it may be of interest for him to tell whom the initials 
and titles represented: Uncle S.. Sidney Tracey; the Deacon, Stewart Pearce; Judge T.. Judge Taylor; Gen. H.. 
E. B. Harvey; Judge L.. Charles A. Lane;"Maj. S., John Sturdevant; Capt. H.. N. G. Howe; Edward, Edward J. .Sturde- 
vant; Maj, G.. George W. Beach; Charley, Charles D. Linskill. Judge Taylor led in singing "Auld Lang Syne." Mr. 
Pearce records that 'Col. R ' came in later and sang 'The old horse,' and he also declares that Judge L made furtive 
motions with his handkerchief towards his eyes. The 'Col. R.' mentioned was probably the late Col. James Rhoads. 
who then kept the hotel across the street, where the Dime Savings Bank now stands. It is doubtful if our city will 
ever again furnish so unique and quaint a landmark, and it would be wise for our readers to secure copies of this paper 
containing the picture of this famous old time store." 


1819 indicate that the last of his properties in the Wyoming Valley were thus 
summarily disposed of, and one of Wilkes-Barre's best known and most far 
visioned men, as has before been mentioned, moved westward. 

Other men were to feel the effects of a lack of a stable currency system, 
a want of elasticity in the policy of bank management and an inability, nation 
wide in scope, to meet pressing conditions of foreign competition. Moreover, 
a tremendous expansion in our own internal affairs and the lack of intelligent 
appreciation by legislators of what the situation required, contributed exten- 
sively to the wreck of private fortunes which followed in the closing years of 
ithe second decade. 

Anent these circumstances, a contributor of the Wyoming Herald, in its 
issue of August 13, 1819, expressed himself along poetic hnes: 

"What's this dull town to me "Oh! curse upon the banks, 

No cash is here! . . No credit's there. 

"Things that we us'd to see ' "They issue naught but blanks 

Now don't appear. No cash is there. 

"Where's all the paper bills, "Hard times the men do cry, 

Silver dollars, cents and mills? Hard times the women sigh, 

"Oh! we must check our wills, "Ruin and Mis-e-ry; 

No cash is here. No cash is here. 
'Oh! times are very bad; Robert " 

No cash is here. 

It might be inferred that from the many theretofore unfamiliar names 
appearing in the Yarington list and apparent elsewhere, that the population 
of Wilkcs-Barre had increased rapidly in the period between 1810 and 1820. 
That such was not the case is evidenced by the publication in the Wyoming 
Herald of July 23, 1819, of the census of that year. The figures are interesting 
from many angles and are given below ; 

"The following is the number of inhabitants and houses within the 

Boro of Wilkesbarre, agreeably to an enumeration made onjthe 16th inst. 

"Whole number of inhabitants 763 

of which 737 are whites and 26 blacks; and of 

the number of whites 374 are males and 363 females 

of which 362 are adults and 375 children. 

Dwelling houses 110 

Stores 8 

Store-houses 6 

Shops 34 

Not without present interest was the publication, August 13, 1819, in the 
Wyoming Herald, of other than business mortalities. The item is self explanatory : 

"The following Bill of Mortality which has been furnished us by Doctor (Edward) Covell 
demonstrates, we think, that the health of our Borough is almost without parallel. The average 
number of inhabitants during the period embraced by the Bill, was about 700. Eleven of the 
deaths were the consequence of an epidemic, which prevailed over the country generally; and 
in forming an estimate of the salubrity of our situation, ought, perhaps, to be taken into the 

"Bill of Mortality for the Boro. of Wilkesbarre from March 1st, 1814, to Aug. 1st. 1S19, 
comprising a period of 5 years and 5 months. 

Apoplexy 1 Diarrhoea 1 

Casualty 5 Fits 2 

Cholera 2 Fever — inflammatory 2 

Consumption 3 " puerperal 3 . 

Convulsions 2 " jileurisy 2 

Croup 1 " ])ulmonic 11 

Debility 4 " hectic I 

Droi)sy 2 Inflammation of lungs 2 

Drojjsy of the brain 1 Inflammation of Bowels 3 

Disorders unknown 2 Old age 3 

Drowned 1 Small pox 1 

TOTAL 55." 


Whether the pubhcation of these tables had anythin^^ to do with the organ- 
ization of the first Bible society of the community, is not a matter of record. 
In any event, some three months later, such an organization was perfected, 
as disclosed by the following notice appearing in the WyoiiuHii HcniUi, of 
November 5, 1819: 

"Nov. 1st 1819. At a meeting held this day at the Meeting House in the Boro of VVilkes- 
barre, to take into consideration the expediency of forming a Bible Society for the County of Luzerne, 
au.xiliary to the Bil)le Society of Philadelphia, — Khenezer Bowman, Esq., was called to the chair 
and Dr. Edward Covell was appointed Secy. * * * \ Constitution having been prepared, 
was unanimously api^roved and signed. 25 managers were selected, who suljseciuently met and 
chose Ebenezer Bowman, Esq., President; David Scott, Wm. Ross, and Capt. Daniel Hoyt, 
vice presidents; Dr. Edward Covell, Cor. Secy.; Andrew Beaumont, Rec. Secy.; Geo. AI. 
Hollenback, Treasurer." 

After a somewhat precarious existence, the society was re-organized on 
the 25th of August, 1835, when Rev. James May was elected President; Rev. 
John Dorrance, Hon. David vScott, Oristus Collins, Esq., and John N. Conyng- 
ham, Esq., Secretaries; Henry C. Anhaeuser, Treasurer; Dr. Nathan Jones, 
Edmund Taylor and William C. Gildcrsleeve, Executive Committee. 

This vSociety, with the exception of Lodge 61, F. and A. M., which was 
organized under charter from the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania dated February 
18, 1794, is the oldest non-sectarian organization of Luzerne Cot^lt^' still in 

At the celebration of its seventieth anniversary, held at Wilkes-Barre, 
in 1889, it was recounted that practically all the prominent residents of the 
community since the inception of the vSociety had been connected with it in the 
capacity of ofhcers or members, and that in the free distribution of thousands 
of Bibles, printed in various languages, to the families of aliens who had settled 
in the county, a splendid work had been, and was being accomplished. 

For us who live in an era of cordial relationships between churches of- dif- 
ferent denominations and congregations of different faiths, it is sometimes 
difficult to understand the narrower religious views of a century ago. Wl-at 
would seem to us now as petty bickerings, too small for mature consideration, 
were magnified into disputes which engendered a bitterness of feeling far reaphihg 
in effect. Wilkes-Barre did not escape participation in these inter-denomi-.. 
national differences. • , 

The fact that a meeting house had been built on the Public Squai'e, 'as 
a sort of community project and intended as a place of worship by different,^ 
congregations, was sometimes held up to the outside world as an earnest of tin- ' 
usually tolerant conditions to be expected there. Indeed, for a time, this'obrdi-j 
ahty of relationship continued. The vSunday vSchool movement was just be- 
ginning to spread in the United States. A number of ladies of Philadelphia' 
are credited with establishing the first organization of this sort open to all chil-. 
dren of the neighborhood. Miss Susan Mitchell, one of these ladies, >'i.5ived 
W^ilkes-Barre in the early spring of 1818, and interested a number of local .people 
in the idea. 

The first gathering to discuss the subject was held in the meeting house 
in ]\Iarch, 1818. This meeting was attended by representatives of the Congre- 
gationalist, Methodist and Episcopal bodies, all of which had alternated in holding 
services in the building up to that time. In May, the school was opened with 
pupils from all the congregations admitted on equal terms. Oristus Colhns, 
Esq., one of the prominent members of the bar of the county, was the first teacher. 


Seeds of dissension were early implanted in this union Sunday vSchool, 
just as their fruits were beginning to be manifest in connection with a common use 
of the meeting house. In the fall of that year, the use of the shorter catechism 
as a text book in the school became a matter of objection on the part of parents 
of a number of the pupils. Its continued use being insisted upon by the Con- 
gregationalists, the pupils of other congregations were withdrawn and another 
Sunday School, with Judge David Scott as teacher, was established in his office. 

Shortly before the experiment of a union Sunday School was made, the 
first actual break between congregations installed in the meeting house was re- 
corded. No mention was made in the press of that time as to this or subsequent 
church dissensions, hence the inference is plain that editors then, as now, desired 
to keep their columns free from any narrative which might open them to a charge 
of religious bias. Ample testimony, however, is available from other authentic 
sources as to facts subsequently set forth in this Chapter. 

To understand these disputes, the austerity of forms of worship of that day 
might be alluded to. A description of the interior of "Old Ship Zion," written by 
Rev. Baab, a worshipper there in his youth, but later a resident of California, 
gives the reader an idea that the stiffness of the old fashioned pews was in keeping 
with the severity of doctrines which emanated from the lofty pulpit. The de- 
scription, one of a very few that the present writer has been able to find, follows : 

"The pulpit in this church was ten feet or more above the floor, and reached by a winciui; 
stairway. It was box-hke, and we could see only the head and arms of the preacher. Above it 
was a sounding board. The pews were high-backed so that in looking over the congregation 
one could see only their heads. Every pew had a door, and there were locks on some of the doors 
so that only the owner and his family could get in. There were a few pews back near the door 
for strangers or for residents who were not pew-holders; but most of these classes sat in the gal- 
leries. There were no ushers to seat people, and no such hospitality as we find in the most of our 
Protestant churches to-day. We sat during the singing, which was led by a prepentor, and stood 
up during the prayer. The collections were not taken on plates as now, but in little bags, each 
fastened to the end of a long rod, so that the deacons could reach to the remotest person in the 
long; pews. Everybody was expected to go to church at least once on the Sabbath, and families, 
as die bell tolled, marched in in solemn procession and all sat together in the family pew. 

' "The Sunday school hour was devoted especially to hearing the scholars recite portions 
of "Scripture which they had memorized during the week. For every ten verses memorized the 
scholar received a blue ticket. When he had ten blue tickets he was entitled to a red one, and 
when he had ten red ones he received a copy of the New Testament." 

;■•. ' The occasion of Christmas, 1817, brought about the first open break be- 
tween local congregations. A century ago Christmas day awakened no antici- 
pations in the young and brought to their elders no idea of an interchange of 
evidences of good will. The idea of making it a religious holiday had its origin 
from the earliest centuries, among the older churches in Europe, but was aban- 
doned bv certain of the reformers, especially the Puritans^ and filtered but slowly 
inip^.the minds and practices of their followers in America. 

- — 'To the Congregationalist and Methodist tenants of the Square meeting 
house; the day meant merely a formal reference to the event. The Episcopalians 
had -preserved some of the measure of cheer which always pervaded England 
at ih?s season. In compliance with their ideas of brightening up the interior 
of ■ tH^ meeting house for a Christmas service, ladies of the latter congregation, 
under the leadership of Mrs. Samuel Bowman, wife of a then lay reader who was 
actmg head of the local congregation in absence of a regular rector, trimmed 
the -pulpit and balcony with evergreens. This aroused the Puritanical ire of the 
Coh'g-Fegationalists in particular. The decorations were ordered to be taken down. 
This request being refused on the part of the Episcopalians, the offending 
greenery was forcibly removed by professors of the sterner faith. 



Old Episcopal Church 
(Erected 1824) 

The breach thus opened was never healed in the earlier existence of 
two congregations. Worship, however, was continued in the old meeting 
until December, 1821, when the Episcopalians determined to sell their 
in the building to the two remain- 
ing congregations and start in quest 
of an edifice of their own. Largely 
through cflforts of Judge David 
Scott, sufficient funds were in hand 
bv January 15th of the following 
vear to purchase a lot on the site 
of the present splendid edifice and 
parish houses of vSt. Stephens, and 
contractors were invited to bid on 
what became the first strictly sec- 
tarian church building within the 
limits of Wilkes-Barre. A descrip- 
tion of the structure may be gath- 
ered from the reproduction of an old drawing published herewith. 

The slow processes of construction, hampered, as might be imagined, 
by a lack of funds, delayed the completion of the building until early summer of 
1824. On June 14th the church was consecrated by Bishop White. 

When, in the year 1896, on a Christmas Eve, almost eighty years after 
the Yuletide dispute of 1817,* the third building erected on the site of the first 
was visited by a disastrous fire. Dr. Frederick C. Johnson, then editor of the 
Wilkes-Barre Record, wrote an interesting account of the history of the Epis- 
copal Church in W^yoming \'alley. As no previous mention of this history 
has been made in these volumes, this painstaking efifort is given at length in 
this Chapter as a merited portion of its narrative: 

"St. Stephen's church has had an organized existence of seventy-five years. Rev. Bernard 
Page of the Church of England, ordained by the Lord Bishop of London for "Wyoming Parish, 
Pennsylvania," Aug. 24, 1772, was the first Protestant Episcopal minister to officiate in this 
section. Owing to the great political disturbances of that date, Air. Page did not long remain in 
the valley, but retired to Virginia, where he ministered as assistant to Rev. Bryan, Lord Fairfax. 
No other minister of the Episcopal Church is known to have visited these parts until 1814, when 
that 'Apostle of the Northwest,' Rt. Rev. Jackson Kemper, D. D., held divine services in the 
old Wilkes-Barre Academy, and stirred up the church people of the village of Wilkes-Barre. 
The first baptism recorded was performed by him Dec. S, 1814. Who officiated during the next 
three years cannot be learned. No definite steps were taken to organize a parish until Sept. 19, 
1817, when the church people met together and elected the first vestry, applied for a charter, 
which was granted Oct. 17, 1817, and engaged the services of Rev. Richard Sharpe Mason, D. D. 

"Dr. Mason was succeeded by Rev. Dr. Phinney. His ministry here was brief, and no 
record exists of his work. 

"In 1819, Rev. Manning R. Roche became the missionary at St. Stephen's. The Sunday 
School had been organized in 1818, by Hon. David Scott, the President Judge of the district, then 
the only male communicant of the church here, and the parish appears to have been prosperous. 
But Mr. Roche retired from the parish in 1820, and from the ministry in 1822. During the next 
two years, 1821-1822, the services were conducted by Samuel Bowman, a lay reader, whose con- 
nection with St. Stephen's is worthy of notice. Born in Wilkes-Barre, Alay 21, 1800, ordained 
deacon by Bishop White, Aug. 25, 1823, he was, after a successful ministry of thirty-five years, 
at Lancaster and Easton, elected Assistant Bishop of Pennsylvania and consecrated Aug. 25, 1858. 
He died in 1861. 

"St. Stephen's parish was admitted to the convention, May 2, 1821. 

"During the previous years her people had worshipped in the old frame l)uilding, 'Old 
Ship Zion,' which had been erected by the joint contributions of the various Christian bodies in 
the town. 

*It might be mentioned, in proof of a wholly different spirit of cordiality existing between churches of a later period 
that, at the time of this fire, practically all the Catholic churches of the valley were placed at the disposal of Dr. Jone> 
for the conduct of services of his congregation on .; Sunday, a; wa^ the Jewish synagogue and many edifice i 
of other Protestant churches. 


"It was determined, Dec. 27, 1821, to sell the right of St. Stephen's parish in this building, 
and to purchase a lot and erect a church. 

"This edifice was a low frame building, painted white, with a gable end to the street, 
a flight of half a dozen steps leading up to a long porch. 

"During a portion of 1823, the services were in charge of Rev. Samuel Sitgraves, who, in 
December of that year, was succeeded by Rev. Enoch Huntington, who remained until 1826. 
He was succeeded, in February, 1827, by Rev. James May, D. D. During the ten years' ministry 
of this godly man, the church in Wilkes-Barre from being a feeble missionary station, grew to 
be what it has ever since continued, one of the strongest and most effective parishes of the Epis- 
copal Church in this section of the diocese. 

"Dr. May was succeeded, in 1837, by Rev. Wilham James Clark, who remained until 
1840, when Rev. Robert Bethel Claxton, S. T. D., entered upon the charge of the parish. 

"After six years of zealous and faithful labor, he resigned, in 1846, to enter upon other 
important fields of duty. 

"It was during Dr. Claxton's ministry (and in his judgment largely due to the faithful 
service of his predecessor, Dr. May,) that such men as Hon. John N. Conyngham, Hon. George 
W. Woodward, Volney L. Maxwell, DeWitt Clinton Loop and others of ability and influence, 
became active and zealous communicants. 

"For six months after the departure of Dr. Claxton, the parish was in charge of Rev. 
Charles DeKay Cooper, D. D. 

"Rev. George D. Miles took charge of the parish as rector, April 1, 1848. During the eigh- 
teen years of his earnest and active ministry, the parish was blessed with large successes. In 1852, 
the increase of the congregation was such as to demand enlarged accommodations. The church 
building, erected in 1822, was a frame structure of one story, with a tower at the northwest corner. 
The Sunday School met in a building a square distant. 

"It was decided to erect an edifice of brick. In March, 1853, Rev. Mr. Miles preached his 
last sermon in the old edifice. The new building was erected by D. A. Fell, yet living, and had a 
capacity of 600. The first service was held in the basement on Christmas Day 1853. 

"The building was consecrated April 19, 1855, by Bishop Alonzo Potter. 

"Rev. R. H. Williamson succeeded Rev. Mr. Miles, in 1866, and remained until 1874, 
when he was deposed from the ministry. During 1874, the parish had the services of the late 
Rev. Chauncey Colton, D. D. On the second Sun- 
day in November, in that same year, the present 
rector, Henry L. Jones S. T. D , took charge, and 
has served with the greatest acceptability ever since. 
During the last ten years he has declined calls to 
several metropolitan pulpits, and has, in more than 
one instance, withheld his name when he was so- 
licited to become a candidate for the bishopric. His 
ties are all one in Wilkes-Barre, and he would not 
willingly break them. From time to time the local 
work has gone on increasing until the parish of St. 
Stephen's became almost a diocese of itself, with 
Dr. Jones as bishop. He has had various assistants, 
the present ones being Rev. Horace E. Hayden, who 
has been here since 1879; Rev. Walter D. Johnson, 
who came in 1894, and is now in charge of Calvary 
Church; Rev. J. P. W^are, Plymouth, and Rev. Dr. 
D. W. Coxe, Nanticoke and Alden.* 

Entertaining different doctrinal views 
schooled in theology of a different atmos- 
phere, it is small wonder that the two con- 
gregations which shared the privileges of 
"Old Ship Zion" were shortly to engage in 
further controversy. 

The Congregationalists, superior in 
umbers and doubtless in influence, be- 

Rev. Henry L- Jones, D. D. 

gan to assert what was thought to be their due. As early as the fall of 1818, 

♦Owing to failing health. Dr. Jones .sent in his resignation, June 4, 1914, to become effective upon completion cf 
forty years of active service, November 1, 1914. The beloved rector did not live to round out the two score years of 
service, however, his death occurring June 17th, of that year, at Wilkes-Barre. The Rev. Frank William Sterrett. 
his assistant, was called to the vacancy thus created, and January 11, 1915, assumed the full duties of the rectorship. 

Under his administration, the church continued to increase in membership and influence. In 1923, the need for 
larger quarters to house the growing parish activities of the church became apparent, whereupon Mr. and Mrs. William 
H. Conyngham and their son William H. Conyngham 2d. presented to the church a commodious building, formerly oc- 
cupied by theWestmoreland Club, as a memorial to William L. Conyngham and Olivia Hilliard Conyngham. his wife. 
The latter building was joined to a new structure in the rear, finished in the same year and known as the Rev. Dr Henry 
L. Jones Memorial, thus giving the church one of the most complete and best appointed parish houses in the vState. 

Scarcely had this dedication occurred than announcement was made that Rev. Mr. Sterrett had been elected 
Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Bethlehem, thus necessitating his resignation. He was formally inducted into his 
new office with elaborate ceremonies in the church, on November 9, 192,^, and later the Rev. F. L. Flinchbaugh, D. D., 
of Cincinnati, was called to the rectorship of St. .Stephens. 


the following incident, of the strife then existing in connection with a warfare 

that gained more than local fame, is recorded in Pearce (p. 284) : 

"About this time a dispute arose between the Presbyterians and Methodist KpiscojaHans, 
respecting the occupancy of the church in Wilkes-Barre, the former asserting their exchisive right, 
and the latter declaring it was a I'nion church, towards the construction of which they had 
liberally contributed. 

" 'When Greeks joined Greeks, 
Then was the tug of war.' 

"The Presbyterians held the keys, and the doors were locked against the invading 
Methodists. Committees were appointed by the outs, but the ins refused to confer. At length 
the followers of Wesley assembled in the court house, and resolved to enter the church at all 
hazards. They accordingly, with the approval of their pastor, the Rev. Morgan vSherman, 
appointed Joseph Slocum, Abraham Thomas, Daniel Collings, and others, a Committee to Storm 
the Lord's House. Mr. Slocum forced the windows with a crowbar, and Mr. Thomas, like Samj)- 
S3n at Gaza, lifted the door from its hinges. The people entered the building, and, by direction of 
James McClintock, Esq., attorney for the Methodists, broke the locks from the i)ulpit and pew 
doors. Mr. Sherman then approached the sacred desk, and commenced the religious worship by 
giving out the hymn commencing, 

" 'Equip me for the war, 

And teach my hands to fight.' ' 

"In his opening prayer the minister thanked the Lord for many things, but particularly 
that they could 'worship under their own vine and fig tree, few daring to molest and none to make 
them "afraid." At the close of his discourse Mr. Sherman said, 'With the permission of Divine 
Providence, I will preach in this house again in two weeks from to-day.' Whereupon Oristus 
Collins, Esq., arose and said, 'At that time this church will be occupied by another congregation.' 
Mr. Sherman repeated his notice, and Mr. Collins repeated his reply, after which the benediction 
was pronounced, and the congregation quietly dispersed. 

"On another occasion the Methodists entered the church, on Sunday morning, in advance 
of the Presbyterians. Just as the Rev. Benjamin Bidlack was about giving out the first hymn, 
Matthias HoUenback, Esq., accompanied by the Rev. Mr. Tracy, a Presbyterian clergyman, 
entered the house, and walking a few steps up the aisle, thus addressed the preacher, 'What are 
you doing here?' 'Page 144, short metre,' said Mr. Bidlack. 'What is that you say?' inquired 
Mr. HoUenback. 'I say, page 144, short metre,' was the reply. Whereupon Mr. HoUenback 
and the Rev. Mr. Tracy retired from the church, while Mr. Bidlack proceeded with the religious 

"A full detail of this religious war would be long and tedious. It was finally terminated by 
the sale of the Presbyterian interest in the building to the Methodists. They occupied it for a 
number of years, when it was sold to a company; and in 1857, it was taken down and removed." 

By some form of truce, the terms of which are not referred to bv news- 
papers of the time, nor by contemporaneous writers, the Methodist congregation, 
in the interests of peace, fitted up the second floor of the adjacent Court House 
for their use. One of the rare references in public prints to the whole matter is 
found in the Susquehanna Democrat on April 5, 1822, as follows: 

"In the Borough of Wilkesbarre, they have a handsome and commodious Presbyterian 
Church. The second story of the Court House is conveniently fitted up for the purpose and is 
occupied as a place of worship by the Methodist Society. Clergymen of the Baptist Society 
occasionally preached in the Court room." 

The early history of the Congregational church down to the pastorate of 
Rev. Art Hoyt, has been referred to in a previous chapter of this Historv. 

The later affairs of the church were interestingly narrated by Sheldon 

Reynolds, Esq., under title of "A History of the First Presbyterian Church," 

published in pamphlet form, in 1899, a summary of which may well find space here : 

"The year following Mr. Hoyt's departure (1818) Mr. Hutchins Taylor, a missionary 
of the New York Evangelical Society, was minister in charge. He assumed the duties with a view 
of permanent settlement, and near the close of his term he received a formal call to become the 
pastor of the Church, at a salary of $600. He declined the invitation, as he was to assume the same 
relation to the Kingston congregation, now about to form a new Church. The increase in the 
membership of the Church at this time, especially of the Kingston part of the congregation, 
through the preaching of Messrs. Taylor and Barrows, seemed to warrant a division of the con- 
gregation and the organization of another church. Other reasons also for a division were urged 
by the Kingston people. The Presliytcry of the Susquehanna accordingly, March 2d, 1819 
divided the Churches of Wilkes-Barre and Kingston, the members in Kingston constituting a 
separate Church, Mr. Hutchins Taylor becoming its first pastor. He was a devout, laborious and 
humble minister; his pastoral relations extended over a period of three years. 


"The Rev. Eleazer S. Barrows also preached occasionally during this time, 1817 to 1821. 

"The Rev. D. Moulton was stated supply 1819 and 1820, and in the following year he preached 

in Wilkes-Barre, Kingston and Newport. A much worn subscription paper bearing the familiar 

names of many in the congregation attests the fact that an earnest effort was made to pay Mr. 

Moulton for his services. He may have remained in this field of labor for a longer time.* 

"During the period of five years succeeding 1817 there were added to the Church thirty- 
seven members and twenty-one were dismissed to unite with the Kingston Church. 

"Early in the spring of ISIS, the first Sunday School in Wilkes-Barre or in this vicinity, 
was established under the auspices of this Church by certain of its members. An incident worthy 
of remark relative to the establishment of this Sunday School is that on the occasion of the fiftieth 
anniversary of the school, Hon. Oristus Collins, the superintendent in 1818, was present and de- 
livered an address on the organization and work of the school. 

"Mr. Hutchins Taylor having severed his pastoral relations with the Church in Kingston, 
the two Churches again uniting, called, June 15, 1821, the Rev. Cyrus Gildersleeve. He accepted 
the call and continued in this charge until 1826 when he gave up his relations with the Church 
in Kingston, and thereafter, until the year 1829, was pastor of the Wilkes-Barre Church alone. 
He was succeeded in the Kingston Church by Rev. James Wood who had assisted him in his labors 
in the two Churches. 

"Mr. Gildersleeve resigned in 1829, but continued for a time to preach in the vicinity as 
a mi sionary. Like his predecessors, Mr. Gildersleeve, in addition to his regular duties, was ac- 
customed to preach in Hanover, Newport, Pittston and other neighboring villages. During his 
pastorate there were two revivals of religion 
— one in 1822, when thirty members were re- 
ceived into the Church on profession, besides 
a number added to the Kingston Church; and 
another in 1826, when nearly fifty were united 
with the Church. Some of these, said Dr. 
Dorrance, were residents of Hanover, New- 
port, Pittston, Providence, etc., and became 
the foundation of separate Churches. The 
whole number added during Mr.Gildersleeve's 
ministry of eight years, was 129; on profes- 
sion ninety-five, by certificate thirty-four. 

"This Church for a period of more than 
fifty years after its organization had been 
under the auspices of Yale College. Among 
the institutions of learning, Yale College was 
the chief representative of the Congrega- 
tional Church; most of its ministers were edu- 
cated there; its traditions were preserved 
there ; and its main support and strength were 
thence drawn. 

"In 1829, the Rev. Nicholas Murrayf 
was called and accepted the pastorate of this 
Church. He had been educated at Williams 
College and had studied at the Princeton 
Theological Seminary. Through his in- 
strumentality the Church became Presby- 
erian in name as well as in government. 
Since this date Princeton College has exer- 
cised a like influence and borne the same re- 
lationship toward this Church that Yale Col- 
lege had established prior to this time. An 

unbroken succession of men, graduates in both the academical and theological departments of 
Princeton College, have for more than sixty years formed its pastorate. 

"In August, 1829, the Churches of Wilkes-Barre and Kingston joined in a call to the Rev. 
Nicholas Murray. In the month of June, this year, Mr. Murray had accepted an appointment 


1772-1790 Presbyterian Church 
Dedicated, 1833 

following is a list of Ministers of the First Presbyterian Church: 
The Rev. Jacob Johnson, A. M 

The Rev. Nathaniel Thayer, D. D 1791-1792 

The Rev. Jabez Chad wick. I -.t- • ii u 

The Rev. James W. Woodward f Missionary Preachers. 

The Rev, Ard Hoyt 1806-1817 

The Rev. Hutchins Taylor (Missionary) 1817-1818 

The Rev. D. Moulton (Supply) 1819-1820 

The Rev. Cyrus Gildersleeve 1821-1829 

The Rev. Nicholas Murray. D. D 1829-1833 

The Rev. John Dorrance, D. D 1833-1861 

The Rev. Archibald A. Hodge. D. D. LL. D 1861-1864 

The Rev. Samuel B. Dod. AM 1864-1868 

The Rev. Francis B. Hodge, S. T. D 1869-1904 

The Rev. Edward G. Fullerton, Ph. D., D. D 1904-1910 

The Rev. James M. Farr, D. D 191 1-1924 

The Rev. Paul Silas Heath 1924- 

tDr. Murray was born in Ireland, December 25. 1802; he was bred in the Roman Catholic faith, but after coming 
to thi-; country he embraced the Protestant religion. He wa^ educated at Williams College, graduating in 1826, and 
afterwards was graduated from the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1843; his alma mater conferred upon him the 
degree of Doctor of Divinity. After leaving Wilkes-Barre he continued in the pastorate of the Elizabeth Church until 
his death, February 4, 1861. He gained great reputation through his controversial letters to Bishop Hughes of the 
Roman Catholic Church . over the non de plume of "Kirwan." 


of a mission from the Board of Missions of the General Assemlily to tlie borough of Wilk.s- 
Barre, for two months. During this engagement, he became acquainted with the i)eople and the 
field of labor, and when he received the call of the Churches he took time to deliberate. He 
looked upon the Church of Wilkes-Barre as in a most distracted state There were two parties 
in it who differed on most subjects affecting the Church's welfare. After, however, prescril)ing 
certain conditions, one of which was 'that the Church of Wilkes-Barre become previous to my 
ordination, Presbyterian,' he accepted the call and was duly ordained and installed pastor of these 
Churches November 4, 1829. At a meeting of the Church and congregation held September S, 
1829, the change in the form of Church government was made in accordance with the condition 

'By his advice the congregation was induced to sell their interest in the old Church "vShip 
Zion' to the Methodist congregation, and to build a Church more suited to their uses. The Church 
then built cost something more than S4,()()0 exclusive of the lot, which was the gift of the late 
Judge Matthias Hollenback. One thousand dollars were received from the Methodist congre- 
gation for the old meeting house and applied on the payment of the new Church building, SI, 200 
were raised by Mr. Murray from churches in other places, the rest was paid by this congregation 
excepting $650 which remained as a debt and burden on the Church for some years. The building 
was situated on PVanklin street on the lot now occupied by the Osterhout Free library; it contained 
sixty-two pews and had a seating capacity of about four hundred 

"In his effort to secure the means to build this Church Dr. Murray visited other congre- 
gations; in making an api^eal for aid to the First Presbyterian Church, of Elizabeth, X. J., the 
people were so impressed by his sermon that they soon afterwards, iijjon the resignation of their 
pastor. Dr. ^McDowell, called him to be their pastor. During Dr. Murray's pastorate here of 
less than four ytars there were received into the Church sixty-six, fifty on profession and sixteen 
by letter. The call of the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth, he accepted, and was installed 
in that charge on the 23d of June, 1833. 

"Rev. John Dorrance* succeeded Dr. Murray in the pastorate and was installed August 
22,1833. On the same day the Church building, just referred to, was dedicated. Dr. Dorrance's 
relations to this community were somewhat different from those of his predecessors; he was at 
home here and among his own people ; his family had been resident here since the settlement of 
the place; his acquaintance with the people was general; he knew of their early struggles, their 
losses and their bereavements nearly as well as though he had had part in them. He was not de- 
pendent upon his salary for his support. He entered upon his mission with great earnestness and 
resolute purj^oses; his zeal in the work was strong and continuous; he strov-e to discharge his duty 
here as the pastor of this Church, and to so build up and invigorate it that its influence and power 
might be felt throughout this region in the upbuilding of other Churches and gathering together 
of many congregations. The Church became not only self-sustaining, but was able to lend aid 
to other communitits, and help in the organization of othtr Churches. 

*The following biography of Dr. Dorrance was written by Oscar Jewell Harvey and published in the Yearhook 
of the First Presbyterian Church 1915-1916. 

The eighth pastor of this Church was the Rev. John Dorrance, D. D. who served it faithfully and well for twenty- 
eight years, until his death in 1861. He was a native of Wyoming Valley, being a grandson of Lieut. Col. George 
Dorrance (who fell at the battle of Wyoming, July 3, 1778), and was a great-grandson of the Rev. Samuel Dorrance of 
Voluntown, Windham County. Connecticut. 

According to the best authorities the Dorrance ancestors of Samuel Dorrance were originally French Huguenots, 
who, driven from their native land by religious persecution, settled in Scotland, whence they emigrated to the North 
of Ireland at some time between 1666 and 1685 — during the period of the perecution of the Covciianti-r . hatiniel 
Dorrance was bom in 1685, and having been graduated at Glasgow 
University was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Dumbarton 
in 1711. During the next few j'^ars he served as pastor of Churches 
in two or three different localities in Scotland, and then was settled 
over a Presbyterian Church in a village in the North of Ireland 
There he remained until 1719, when, either in company with, or 
closely following, his brothers John and George Dorrance, he emi- 
grated to America. 

The first organized company of emigrants from the North of 
Ireland to America, of which we have any certain know'ledge, ar- 
rived at Boston in 1718. In the years 1719 and 1720 five or more 
shipfuls of families from the North of Ireland were landed in New 
England; and during the next ten years thousands of emigrants from 
the North of Ireland arrived in .\merica. These Scots-Irish brought 
with them to their new home their national characteristics — per 
severance, energy, ambition, sturdy stubbornness ("dourne^s." they 
called it) and blunt speech. When they came to America they were 
not only the most industrious and virtuous, but they were as a 
whole, like the early settlers of New England, the best educated of 
the English speaking race. 

"In the great Scots-Irish immigration of 1718-1720 there came 
over two Georges, two Samuels, a John and a James of the Dorrance 
family. They were brothers and cousins, and they settled near the 
Connecticut-Rhode Inland boundary-line. 

"In June, 1721. the town of Voluntown, Windham County 
Connecticut, was formally and legally organized, and thirty-seven 
persons were admitted inhabitants. In September or ( )ctober. 1 722. 
the Rev. Samuel Dorrance received an informal request to preach 
to the people of Voluntown. He responded and on the 17th of 
December following, received from the town a formal invitation to 
preach "on trial" until May, 172.^. He accepted this invitation the 
same day. His preaching was so satisfactorv to the people that thev 

met together in town-ineeting April 17, 1723 and voted unam- ^ j^„,^ D.RRANCH, D. D. 

mously to extend a call to Mr. Dorrance to become their pastor. -' 

At the same time a committee was appointed "to arrange for and oversee the building of a meeting-house and to select 
a spot for a bur>-ing-place." 

"Mr. Dorrance accepted the call to Voluntown in July, 1723, and at a town-meeting held in the following month 
a committee of eight inhabitants was appointed to apply to the Congregational .Association at its next meetin ; with 


respect to the ordination of Mr. Dorrance. Shortly thereafter the Association communicated its action to the Vol'un- 
town people in the following words: 

" llVifr^ai, Reverend Mr. Samuel Dorrance has laid before this Association his testimonials from several associa 
tions in Scotland and Ireland of his being licensed to preach ye Gospel, and was a person of a sober and good conver 
sation: which credentials we give credit to and are well satisfied with — and you having unanimously chosen him for 
j-our minister * * * we do hereby signify that we approve.' " * * * 

"On October 10, 1723. the General Assembly of Connecticut granted liberty to the Voluntown inhabitants to 
form a Church, and five days later a fast was kept by the prospective Church members, preparatory to the ordination 
of their minister. A sermon was preached in the morning and one in the afternoon, after which such as were in full 
communion, and clothed with satisfactory testimonials, subscribed to certain obligations and the Westminster Con- 
fession of Faith. 

"Some writers have stated that this Voluntown Church, 'thus adopting the Westminster Confes ion of Faith 
was the first and long the only Presbyterian Church in Connecticut.' This is undoubtedly an erroneous statement, for, 
although the Voluntown Church subscribed to the Westminister Confession, adopted the Presbyterian form of govern- 
ment, and in 1760, voted 'to remain Presbyterian,' the Church was never regularly Presbyterian, for it had no connec- 
tion with any Presbytery or Synod in this country or elsewhere. In the latter years of his life the Rev. Samuel Dor- 
rance declared that he had never sat in, or had any connection with, a Presbytery in this country. 

"October 23, 1723, was fixed upon for the ordination of Mr. Dorrance, and invitations to be present at the ser- 
vices were sent to the Congregational ministers of New London, Plainfield, and other nearby places. 'But,' says Mijs 
Lamed, in her 'History of Windham.' 'On this day (October 23) a violent opposition was manifested. Various con- 
flicting elements were working among the people. A large number of new inhabitants had arrived during the Summer. 
Mr. Dorrance had been accompanied to New England by several families of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, who had 
followed him to Voluntown and settled there, buying land in various localities. * * * The advent of these foreigners 
— though men of good position and excellent character — was looked upon with great suspicion by the older settlers. ' 

"The Congregational ministers assembled in Council at Voluntown on the day named, and were proceeding regular y 
to business, when a number of people appeared, determined to obstruct the ordination of Mr. Dorrance. In a riot- 
ous, disorderly and unchristian way, without waiting for prayer or ceremony, they presented the following remonstrance: 
'We whose names are underwritten, do agree that one of our New England people may be .settled in Voluntown 
to preach the gospel to us, and will oblige ourselves to pay him yearly, and will be satisfied, honoured gentlemen, that 
you choose one of us, to prevent unwholesome inhabitants — for we are afraid Popery and Heresy will be brought into 
the land.' " 

"Great clamor and confusion followed. The members of the Council passed the day in hearing these opposers 
repeat their reasons over and over, and the next day, after having advised Mr. Dorrance 'to continue to preach and 
the people to endeavor a more regular and comfortable call,' they departed for their respective homes. Subsequently 
a new Council was summoned, which met at Voluntown December 12 , 1723, when Mr. Dorrance was formally ordained 
and installed minister of Voluntown Church and township. 

"We have gone thus fully into the history of the origin and beginning of the Voluntown Church for two reasons; 
First, to show that in early days in New England the matter of selecting a pastor for a Church was sometimes attended 
with contentions and dissensions of a somewhat bitter character. Second, because a considerable number of the fir-tNew 
England settlers in Wyoming Valley came from 

Voluntown, where they had sat under the min- 
istrations of the Rev. Samuel Dorrance (some 
of them being related to him by ties of either 
consanguinity or marriage); and, having estab- 
lished themselves here, became actively in- 
strumental in organizing the religious body 
which ultimately became The First Presby- 
terian Church of Wilkes-Barre. 

"Mr. Dorrance continued to serve as min- 
ister of the Voluntown Church until March 5, 
1771^a period of forty-seven years and more 
— when, in the eighty-sixth year of his life, he 
resigned his pastorate 'and was dismissed in 
peace.' He died at his home in North Volun- 
town, November 12, 1775, and was buried at 
Oneco. where his grave-stone is still standing. 
The Providence Gazette, of December 16, 1775. 
referring to the death of Mr. Dorrance, de- 
clared that 'he was a zealous Contender for 
the Faith once delivered to the Saint i, and an 
Ornament to the Religion he professed.' 

"The Rev. Samuel Dorrance was married 
(1st) at Voluntown, August 1, 1 726, to Elizabeth 
Smith. She having died September 11, 1750, 
Mr. Dorrance was married (2d) at New London, 
Connecticut, July 1, 1775, to Mrs. Mary Owen, 
widow of the Rev. John Owen. By his fir,t 
marriage Mr. Dorrance became the father of 
six sons and one daughter who grew to maturity. 

"At Windham, Connecticut — distant only 
a few miles from Voluntown — there was organ- 
ized, in July, 1753, by .some 250 inhabitants of 
eastern Connecticut, an association under the 

nn,taWm\aa,'!,/m li'^iLurMM' \\ 



if;,^ ;.M ' yt afci| .i^ 5^ 


Rev. Samuel Dorrance's Sheepskin 

style and title of The Susquehanna Company, the object of which was to purchase from the Six Nation Indians, 
and settle upon and improve, a large tract of country lying along the Susquehanna River and known as the 'Wyoming 
region 1 he Rev. Samuel Dorrance and two of his sons— Gershom and John— were original members of this Company, 
and u-ere named among the grantees in the Indian deed which was executed at Albany, New York, in July, 1754 
John Dorrance, aforenamed settled in Wilkes-Barre in 1769, under the auspices of The Susquehanna Company, but 
later removed to Kingston Township, where, with some interruptions, he resided until his death in 1804. 
cc -tt" T^*^ Autumn of 1773, George Dorrance (born March 7, 1736), third child of the Rev, Samuel and Elizabeth 
l,S>mith; Dorrance, removed from Voluntown to Wyoming Valley, and settled in Kingston Township. In 1774, he 
Ih'^T;i?!^''J^^ \i° '^°"'" °^ Westmoreland (Wyoming), and in 1776, was one of the Selectmen of the town. When 

ine 24th (Of Westmoreland) Regiment of Connecticut militia was organized in 1775, with Zebulon Butler of Wilkes- 
uarre as its Colonel, George Dorrance was commissioned lieutenant of the 2d Company. In May, 1777, he was Major 
ol the regiment and in the following October was promoted Lieut. Colonel. At the battle of Wyoming, July 3, 1778 
he wa^ wounded and captured by the enemy, who subsequently put him to death. 

George Dorrance was married (1st) at Voluntown, Janury 24, 1758, to Mary (born 1737), only daughter of Robert 
and Mary Wilson of Voluntown. Mrs. Dorrance having died February 19, 1765, Mr. Dorrance was married (2d) 

'° ' '^.'r^° R''2abeth of Windham County. 

xTr.u li^- eldest child of this second marriage was Benjamin Dorrance, who was born in Windham County, in 1767 
with his "-"■♦' — ' ~^^- - • ' ■ • - ... ., . - — ... . - _ _ ^ 


was ' 
Sheriff ' 

and commissioned Lieut. Colonel, commanding the 35th Regiment, 9'th Brigade, 2d Division; Pennsylvania Militia. 
This office he held for a number of years. 

"Colonel Dorrance represented Luzerne County in the State Legislature for eight terms between 1807 and 1831. 
He was the hrst President of The Wyoming Rank (now The Wyoming National Bank) of Wilkes-Barre, holding the 


office from November, 1829, to November, 1830, and from May, 18,^1, to May 1832. He died suddenly at his home 
in what is now the borough of Dorranceton. in Kingston Township, August 24, 1837. In an obituary, printed in a 
Wilkes-Barre newspaper at the time of his death, occurred these words: 

"If asked who, for the last half-century, has been the happiest man in the county, the county, I think, would say 
Colonel Dorrance. * * * He was an extraordinary man; throughout life popular without envy, without an enemy, 
and never vielding his independence or integrity.' 

Col. Benjamin Dorrance was married November 25, 1795, to Nancy Ann (bom 1767; died 1834) daughter of 
Jedediah and Martha (Clark) Buckingham, and they became the parents of three sons — John. Charles and C.eorge, 
"John Dorrance, the eldest of these brothers, was bom February 28, 1800, in what is now Dorranceton. He re- 
ceived his preparatory education in the schools of Kingston and in The Wilkes-Barre Academy— entering the latter in 
1811. (Twenty-five years later he became one of the Trustees of the Academy.) In 1819 he entered the College of 
New Jersey (Princeton), from which he was graduated with the degree of A. B. in 1823. Three years later he received 
his A. M. degree, and in 1859. the honorary degree of Sacrtr TheoloRiif Doctor (S. T. D.) was conferred upon hini by 
his Alma Mater. A few months after his graduation from college, Mr. Dorrance matriculated as a student at Prince- 
ton Theological Seminary, where he spent three years in special preparation for the ministry. 

"In the Autumn of 1825, having received a commission as a missionary to preach the gospel in Louisiana (which 
then had a population of less than 100,000 souls, and only fourteen years previously had been admitted to statehood in 
the Union), Mr. Dorrance set out from Wilkes-Barre for Louisiana on horseback, accompanied by the Rev. Zebulon 
Butler (a native of Wilkes-Barre) as a fellow-traveler and co-worker. In November, 1827, Mr. Dorrance was ordained 
to the ministry of the Presbyterian Church by the Presbytery of Mississippi, and was installed pastor of the Presby- 
terian Church at Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

"The next month (December 6. 1827) Mr. Dorrance was married, near Baton Rouge, to Penelope (born at Pitts- 
burgh, Pa. in 1807), daughter of Samuel Mercer, a native of Lancaster County, of Quaker ancestry. She had 
lived in Pittsburgh until about 1814, when, on the death of her father she had removed with her mother to Ohio to 
live with her maternal grandparents. When she met and married Mr. Dorrance, she was visiting her married sisters 
in Louisiana. . . 

"Mr. Dorrance served as pastor of the Baton Rouge Church until the Summer of 1830, when, at the earnest solici- 
tation of his parents, he resigned his pastorate and, accompanied by his wife and two young children, returned to his 
parents' home in Kingston Township. There he remained about a year, in the meantime supplying vacant pulpits 
and doing missionary work along the upper Susquehanna and Lackawanna Rivers, in places remote from organized 

"In 1831, he was called to be pastor of the Pre.sbyterian Church at Wysox, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, 
and there he labored until called to the First Presbyterian Church of Wilkes-Barre, to succeed the Rev. Nicholas 
Murray, who had resigned in June, 1833. 

"During the ensuing twenty years, and more, Mr. Dorrance's labors were not confined to Wilkes-Barre. He was, 
in the best sense of the word, a missionary, and his field extended from Nanticoke to Carbondale, on the east side of 
the Susquehanna. For a time he preached regularly at Nanticoke and Newport, at intervals at Pitt>ton. and occasion- 
ally at Providence and other points in Lackawanna Valley. Men and women from Lackawanna (Pittston) and Pro 
vidence (Scranton) , communicants of the 'First' Church, journeyed to Wilkes-Barre on communion occasions, and 
were entertained over Sunday in the hospitable homes of the village. 

"From 1833, until about 1842, Mr. Dorrance had. at one time or another, as missionaries under his charge in Wyo- 
ming and Lackawanna Valleys, the Reverends Thomas Owen, John Turbot, Orrin Brown, John Rhodes and Isaac 
Todd. They gave special attention to the Lackawanna field, and in February, 1842, through the exertions of Mr. 
Dorrance. a Presbyterian congregation was organized at what is now Scranton. was called the Church of Lackawanna, 
and embraced a membership scattered all the way from Providence to Pittston. In 1846. largely through the influence 
of Mr Dorrance — who bought and paid for the lot on which the building was erected — a house of worship was built 
in Pittston. A Church having been duly organized, the Rev. N. G. Parke (who had come to Wyoming Valley at the 
instance of Mr. Dorrance in 1844, and since then had been preaching at various points in and near the valley) was 
installed as pastor, in June, 1847. The Church was incorporated as 'The First Presbyterian Church of Pittston,' 
January 22, 1848. When Mr. Parke was installed the understanding was that he should preach at Pittston in the morn- 
ing and in the afternoon at Harrison (rechristened Scrantonia. in April, 1850, and finally named >Scranton , in January, 
1851), on each Sunday. 

"In October, 1848, what is now The First Presbyterian Church of Scranton, was organized by Messrs. Dorrance 
and Parke, and was incorporated as 'The Presbyterian Congregation of Scrantonia.' November 6, 1850. 

"During all these years, when Mr. Dorrance was working hard to build up and strengthen his Wilkes-Barre con- 
gregation, and at the same time was traveling up and down Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys, and preaching the 
gospel in school-houses and private residences, he was in receipt of the munificent salary of 5500. per annum. 

"Owing to the incompleteness of the records, the number of communicants who united with the Church during 
Dr. Dorrance's ministry of twenty-eight years cannot now be given accurately; but, as stated by him in a sermon 
delivered on the twenty-fifth anniversary of his pastorate, in 1858. there had been received up to that time 540, of whom 
370 were on profession of their faith, and 170 by letters from other churches. 

" One of the most important results perhaps, cf Dr. Dorrance's work.' wrote his daughter, Mrs. G. Murray Rey- 
nolds, in 1898, 'was the large number cf young men who. through his influence, were led into the ministry. Among 
them were Prof. John W. Sterling, Henry H. Welles, John Brown, Alexander Dilley. Henry Rinker. John F. Baker, 
Charles J. Collins, A. D. L. Jewett, Wil-liam M. Baker, Benjamin C. Dorrance. Evan Evans and Theodore Byington." 
"Dr. Dorrance also took an active part in educational matters. As previously mentioned, he was a Trustee of 
The Wilkes-Barre Academy as early as 1836. From 1841 until his death, he was a Trustee of Lafayette College. In 
1850, he became one of the corporators, and President of the Board of Trustees, of the Luzerne Presbyterial Institute, 
at Wyoming. In 1854 he was one of the corporators of the Wilkes-Barre Female Institute (now the Wilkes-Barre 
Institute) , and continued to be a member of its Board of Trustees until his death. 

"In 1849, the church edifice which had been dedicated in 1833, at the beginning of Dr. Dorrance's pastorate vyas 
torn down, and on its site was erected the brick building which, with some modifications, has been owned and occupied 
by The Osterhout Free Library, since the Summer of 1888. This building, which cost in the neighborhood of $15,000 
(raised mainly through the efforts of Dr. Dorrance.) was dedicated in December, 1851. While it was in course of con- 
struction the congregation worshipped in 'Old Ship Zion' on Public Square. 

"Dr. Dorrance died. April 18. 1861. after a brief illness, at his residence on South Franklin Street, where his wife 
had died January 7, 1860. In the newspapers of the town only a brief announcement of his death was printed. In view 
of his activities and prominence in the community for twenty-eight years this seems very surprising, until we recall 
the fact that, only six days previously, the American Civil War had been begun by the attack on Fort Sumter; and that 
on the morning of the day Dr. Dorrance died , the first company of Wyoming Valley volunteers to join the Union 
forces at 'the front' set out from Wilkes-Barre, for Harrisburg. The local newspapers, apparently, had little space 
then for anything but war news. 

Dr. and Mrs. Dorrance were the parents of seven children, who grew to maturity, as follows: (i) Frances Gertrude, 
born January 23, 1840: married October 27, 1852, to John Colt Beaumont of Wilkes-Barre, who at the time of his 
death . in 1882. was a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy; she died June 15. 1855. (ii) Benjamin Charles, horn 
November 8, 1832; died February 2, 1859, unmarried, at the residence of his parents in Wilkes-Barre. (iii) John 
Breckinridge, bom June 1, 1834; died October 18, 1855, unmarried, (iv) James Mercer, born .A.ugust 10. 1836; he be- 
came a student at Lafayette College, Class of 1855, and spent three years there. He died at the home of his parents. 
March 22, 1855. only a few months prior to the graduation of his class, (v) Charles Buckingham, bom January 1. 1839; 
entered the United States Navy; killed in action at Mobile Bay. October 9, 1864. (vi) Stella Mercer, bom December 
3, 1840; married May 4, 1866 to G. Murray Reynolds; died at Wilkes-Barre. November 13, 1904. (vii) Emily Augusta. 
bom September 1 . 1844; married July 18, 1865. to Alexander Farnham ; died February 7, 1909. 

"(ii) Benjamin Charles Dorrance was graduated at the College of New Jersey (Princeton) in 1852, with the degree 
of A. B. Three vears later he received the honorary degree of A. M. .Shortly thereafter he entered the ministry of 
the Presbyterian "Church. Owing to ill health he went to Minnesota, in the latter part of 1857. and remained there 
until July. 1858, when he returned to Wilkes-Barre. I'pon learning of his death the Minneapolis Journal printed the 
followin ' concernin.; him: 


"Dr. Dorrance extended the field of his labors throughout the county, preaching for a time 
regularly at Nanticoke and Xewport, also at regular intervals at Pittston and Providence, and 
intermediate points in the Valley of the Lackawanna, thus holding the ground and preparing the 
way for missionaries and the organization of Churches. The influence of the Church was much 
extended and several Churches were afterwards organized within the localities thus visited: 
one in Tunkhannock and one in Falls, Wyoming County, and one in Providence, composed mainly 
of members of this Church resident in that neighborhood. Out of the Providence Church soon 
afterwards grew the Church of Scranton and the Church of Pittston. At a later period a Church 
organization was elTected at White Haven, and the Coalville chapel was established, now the Pres- 
byterian Church of Ashley. 

Dr. Dorrance was assisted in these labors, and in other missionary work in this region, 
by several missionaries stationed here from time to time under his charge, among them were the 
Revs. Thomas Owen, John Turbot, Orrin Brown, John Rhoades and Isaac Todd. Their field of 
labor was chiefly the upper Susquehanna and vicinity. 

Under the auspices of this Church also, the Wilkes-Barre Female Institute was established 
in 1S54, and a substantial brick building was erected for the purposes of the school at a cost of 
about Si 2,000. During Dr. Dorrance's ministry the frame building that had served as a house 
of worship since 1833, was removed, and on its side was erected a handsome brick structure. 
The building was begun in 1S49 and finished soon afterward at a cost of $15,000. It was occupied 
by the congregation until 18SS. 

The Methodist congregation appears to have used the second floor room 
of the Court House from approximately 1822 to 1831, as during that period the 
meeting house was almost invariably referred to as the "Presbyterian Church." 
The exclusive use of the larger building by the latter congregation was not 
however, without protest on the part of the Methodists. 

Minutes of the latter Society show that on October 25, 1829, a meeting 
of members of that church as well as others interested, was held in the Court 
House to consider "the manner in which the Wilkes-Barre Meeting House was 
occupied." The meeting appointed a committee to determine if "even justice" 
was being done by the Presbyterians in excluding other societies from a joint 
use of the building and the following letter was drafted to those who had com- 
posed the building committee of "Old Ship Zion" at the time of its completion: 

"To Gen. David Richards and Maj. E. Blackman: 

"The undersigned were appointed a committee on behalf of the Meth. Ep. Church to as- 
certain whether this Church has a right to hold meetings of Religious worship in the Wilkesbarre 
Meeting — and to obtain this information it is highly necessary that we have a list of the 
names of those persons who subscribed towards building said House. Learning that you composed 
the Committee that superintended its erection we deem it expedient to ask you to furnish us with 
such list of names, or such part of them as may be practicable. 

"Your immediate attention to this subject is respectfully requested. 

"Signed Jon. BulkelEy 
Gilbert Barnes 
Lewis Worrell 
ZiBA Bennett 
Sharp D. Lewis 
"Nov. 9, 1829." Committee. 

Evidently the former building committee complied with this reqtiest, 

as later the Society's investigators addressed a letter to each person, or his 

representatives, who had contributed to the original building, the list being as 

follows : 

"Natha.n Palmer, 'Reuben Downing, 

Benjamin Perry. Garrick Mallery, 

Ti.mothy Behee, Chester and John Butler, 

.■\nderson, Administrators of Estate of 

Putnam Callin. L. Butler, dec'd. 

I^BE.NEZER Slocum Wm. L. Bowman, 

Duct. Davis, Ad. of S. Bowman dec'd. 

"Thi> amiuunctment. though not altogether unexpected, will be read by many in Minneapolis and St. Anthony 
with tender sadness The deceased came here a perfect stranger in the early part of last Winter, and remained till the 
begirining of July. By his untiring efforts in seeking out and Collecting the scattered members of the Presbyterian Church 
and inspiring them to work for the building up of a Church of their own; and by his faithful preaching and earnest, 
edifying prayer-;, as well as by his uniformly kind . cheerful intercourse with the people, he won the respect of all who 
knew him.' " 


Stephen Tuttle, 

Rep. of S. Tuttk', dcc'd. 
George Denison. 
DocT. Miner, 
Jas. W. Bowman, 

Ad. of E. Bowman, dec'd. 
Lyman Coveli., 

Heir of Doct. M Coveli 
Amasa Dana, 
Alvix Dana, 

Heirs of Aritd Dana, dec'd 
John Carev, 
Eleaser Blackman. 
Arnold Coi.t. 
Roswell Welles, 


Ad. of Instate .>f M. Hollen 
back, dec'd. 


Samuel Pease, 
\\•^^ Ross, 
John W. Robi.nson, 
David Richards, 
Joseph vSloci\m, 
Nathan Waller, 
JosiAH Wricht, 

Heir of Thos. WriKlit. dec'd. 
AsHER Miner, I{\'r of 

Cornelius Cortright, 
Thos. Dyer 
Benjamin Drake, 

The Committee received answers to their circular from the followino[ 

W.M. L. Bow^L\.\•. 
Lyman Covell, 
Benj. Drake, 
Arnold Colt, 
Reuben Downing, 
William Ross, 
Timothy BebEE, 
Be.xjamin vSlocu.m, 
Eleaser Blackman, 
Jehoida p. Johnson, 
Amasa Dana, 
Alvin Dana 

Nathan Waller, 
Samuel Pease, 
John Carey, 
David Richards, 
Joseph vSlocum, 
Putnam Callin, 
Isaac Bowman, 
E. A. Bowman, 
Doct. T. W. Miner, 
Stephen Tuttle, 
Nathan Palmer, 
JosiAH Wright." 

The answers of a large proportion of those who replied confirmed a generally 
accepted understanding as to common rights of all congregations in the building 
and this was pushed to advantage b}' the Alethodists. 

On June 22, 1830, minutes disclose that the Methodist committee was 
authorized "to propose to give to the Presbyterian Church one thousand dollars 
for the interest and right such church had in the meeting house, or to take one 
thousand dollars for. the interest and right the Methodist Church has in such 

\\"hether wearied of the struggle or impressed with the fairness of such 
offer to close a long drawn theological controversy is not in evidence, but later 
in the year the Presbyterians agreed to accept the figure offered, which sum, 
as has been seen, was applied to the erection of the community's original Presby- 
terian Church. 

A further narrative of Methodism in W'ilkes-Barre was prepared by Dr. 
Lewis H. Taylor, in the form of an address delivered on the 85th Anniversary 
of the First Methodist Church, October 10, 1915. The address in part follows: 

"On June 26, 1827, the first Methodist conference held in the Wyoming Valley convened 
in Wilkt-s-Barre with Bishop George as presiding bishop. The Presbyterians cordially gave the 
use of the church to the ]\Iethodists for this conference and many attending were entertained 
in Presbyterian families. 

"The Methodists had held service in Wilkes-Barre for thirty years with a small society, 
scanty means and no special jilace for worship. In 1 826, Rev. George Peck was ai)])ointed to 
Wyoming Circuit with Philo Barberry, and as there seemed to be a necessity that Wilkes-Barre 
should have the entire service of one man, the Presiding Elder took George Peck from the circuit 
and stationed him at Wilkes-Barre, which was thus early made a station with Hanover, Newport 
and Plains as outside jjreaching places. 

"The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Wilkes-Barre was formally organized on Sep- 
temlxr 16. 1830. The Rev. Charles Nash was preacher in charge, with John Carey, Joseph Slocum, 
Zilia Bennett, Sharp D. Lewis, Lewis Worrall, Abraham Thomas and Anning O. Chahoon as 
trustees; and Gilbert Barnes, Sharp D. Lewis, Ziba Bennett, Robert Miner and David Thompson 
as stewards. 

"The church, now in i)eaceful jjossession of its own house of worshi]), continued to grow 
in numbers and influLUce. There was not a record kept of the membershi]) previous to 1835 


except upon the class books, but the complete list for that year shows a membership of one hunidred 
and thirty-seven, and this list includes many names well known in the early history of the church. 
As there were no suitable accommodations in the old meeting houses for social meetings, Ziba 
Bennett, in 1S36, built and gave to the church the use of a building for such purposes on North 
Main Street, on the site of what later became Montayne's tin store, which many of us remember. 

"We find in 1839, on September 23, a special meeting of the official members was called for 
the purpose of adopting suitable measures for celebrating the centenary of Methodism and this 
celebration was held on October 25, 1839, the Hon. Charles Miner, later the Historian of the 
A'alley, being asked to preside. 

"Although the church was organized as seen in 1830, it was not incorporated until some 
years later. The charter was filed June 26, 1844. 

"Public preaching and the Sunday School continued to be held in the old church on the 
Square but the increasing prosperity and importance of the congregation demanded other and more 
suitable quarters, and as early as 1846, the question of a new church edifice was considered, 
and a committee appointed to solicit the necessary funds for the erection of a building on Franklin 
street, Ziba Bennett having donated a lot for the purpose. 

"On March 4th of that year (1846), at a meeting of the quarterly conference it was 'Re- 
solved, That as soon as a responsible subscription to the amount of the estimate of the committee 
be obtained, we proceed to the erection of a Methodist Episcopal Church upon the lot given by 
Bro. Ziba Bennett. It is understood that Mr. Bennett gives the lot on condition the Church 
be built within five years, and with the Reservation, that it shall revert to him or his heirs or as- 
signs if ever used or occupied for a Theatre or Tavern, or place where Liquor or ardent spirits 
are sold or for any purpose repugnant to the spirit of Christianity. 

"Nothing, however, appears to have been done for more than a year for at the second 
Quarterly Conference, November 1847, the question of repairing the old meeting house on the 
Square was considered, and during the discussion. Brother Ziba Bennett (who in addition to giving 
a lot had subscribed $500 toward the 
building) stated that he would double 
his subscription of $500, which with the 
amount already on paper would make 
the subscription obtained almost $4,500 
and he believed the new house could be 
commenced the 'following spring, that 
we ought to, could, and must build one 
and therefore he was opposed to ex- 
pending money on the old one. 

"With this encouragement, en- 
thusiastic resolutions were adopted to 
proceed with the enterprise. 

"As sufficient funds had been 
subscribed to warrant the trustees in 
commencing the erection of the new 
church, the old church on the Square 
was off'ered for sale and arrangements 
were made to begin the new church in 
the spring of 1848. Ziba Bennett, Lord 
Butler, William Wood and Sharp D. 
Lewis were appointed a building com- 
mittee. In 1849 the old church on the 
Square was sold to Oristus Collins, George M. HoUenback and Charles Dcnnison for $600. It 
was subsequently pulled down and removed. Pearce says, in 1857. Most of the lumber in the 
house was purchased after taken down by W. C. Gildersleeve, who used it in building a barn in 
the rear of his home on FrankHn Street, which was on the site of the Carpenter house, a few doors 
below this church. 

"The new church on Franklin Street, which some of us remember as the old church, was 
completed and dedicated on October 4, 1849, by Rev. Jesse T. Peck, D. D., later Bishop Peck. 
It cost exclusive of the lot $8,200, and was dedicated free from debt. Those of us who attended 
this church well remember the rectangular white slab in front with the date 1849 carved upon 
it. We well remember, too, the straight uncompromising interior; with the basement for Sunday 
School, prayer meeting and class rooms. Very different indeed from the spacious edifice in which 
we now worship, but at that time it was the finest and most commodious building of the kind in 
the country round about. 

"The enterprise was started under the pastorate of Rev. David Shepherd, prosecuted and 
continued under that of Rev. Bostwick Hawley, completed under that of Rev. Thomas H. Pearne. 

"It was no doubt a grand church for its day, but when I first knew it, only twenty-two years 
after it was erected, it seemed like an old and somewhat dingy church even, with poor accommo- 
dations in the basement for Sunday vSchool."* 

*The following Pastors have served this Church from 1826 to 1924: 

Rev, George Peck, 1826-'28; Revs. Joseph Castle and vSilas Comfort, 1828-'30 (Wilkes-Barre and Wyoming were 
united for these two years, when Wilkes-Barre was again made a station). Rev. Charles Nash, 1830-'32; Rev. H. F. 
Rowe, 18.32-'33; Rev. vSelah Stocking, 1833-'3.5; Rev. J. M. Snyder, 1835-'37; Rev. Robert Fox, 1837-'38; Rev. D. 
Holmes, 1838-'40; Rev. John Davidson, part of 1840; Rev. D. W. Bristol, 1840-'42; Rev. John Leys, 1842-'43; Rev. 
D. Holmes, 1843-'44; Rev. D. A. Shepherd, 1844-'46; Rev. B. Hawley, 1846-'48; Rev. Thomas H. Pearne, 1848-'50; 
Rev. Nelson Rounds, 1850-'52; Rev. George Peck, D. D., 1852-'54; Rev. William Wyatt, 1854-'55; Rev. Henry Browns- 
combe, 1855-'57; Rev. J. M. Snyder, 18.57- '58; Rev. Rueben Nelson, part of 1858-'59; Rev. Z. Paddock, 1859-'60; 

First M. E- Church — Erected 1849. 

1 865 

Old Baptist Church — Erected 1S4S. 

The Baptist congregation, which had from time to time shared "Old 
Ship Zion" or conducted meetings at irregular intervals in the Court House, 
was formally constituted a church in 1842. Rev. A. L. Past conducted the 
exercises. This congregation, built 
a brick church in 1847 on West 
Northampton street. A stone edi- 
fice, later built on the corner of 
Franklin and vSouth streets, was 
destroved by fire in 1927; and ;he 
congregation then purchased a site 
for a new church on South River 
street. The original brick church 
dedicated in September 18, 1848, 
had the first town clock in the 

In rounding out events of the 
third decade of the nineteenth 
century, the death of Judge Mat- 
hias Hollenback brought general 
sorrow to the w^hole vSusquehanna 
country. His was the outstanding 
figure of his time. While not of 
Connecticut stock, and not always in sympathy with those whose loyalty to 
that commonwealth has never been questioned, Judge Hollenback nevertheless 
rose to a position of commanding influence, large wealth and universal esteem in 
the community of his adoption. His death occurred February 18, 1839. 
Identified with every interest concerned with public welfare, a man of wide 
philanthropies, uncommon foresight and integrity, his loss was keenly felt. 
As will be noted from a sketch of his life w^hich concludes this Chapter, Judge 
Hollenback's activities in public and private life were second to those of none of 
his contemporaries in the Commonwealth and through him, Wilkes- Barre was 
most favorably known over a wide section of the country. f 

Rev, Jacob Miller, 1860-'62; Rev. J. A. Wood, 1862-'64; Rev. Y. C. Smith, D. D., 1864-'67; Rev. Henry Brownscombe, 
1867-'69; Rev. Thomas M. Reese, 1869-'72; Rev. .A. H. Wyatt, 1872-74; Rev. W. H. Olin, D. D., 1874-'77; Rev. J. 
E. Smith, D. D., 1877-'80; Rev. vSamuel Moore, 1880-'83; Rev. J. O.Woodruff, D. D. , 1883-"86; Rev. A. H. Tuttle, 
D. D., 1886-'89; Rev. Watson L. Phillips, I889-'91; Rev. J. Richard Boyle, D. D., 1891-'95; Rev. W. H. Pearce, 
1896-1900; Rev. John H. Bickford. 1901-'04; Rev. Albert E. Piper, D. D., 1904-'10; Rev. Charles E. Guthrie, D. D., 
1910-'15; Rev. Albert E. Piper, D. D., 1915-'20; Rev. Leon K. Willman, D. D., 1920; Revs. John E. Bone, C. H. 
Seward, D. S. McKellar and L. W. Karschner have acted as assistant pastors of this church. 

*The "Old Baptist Meeting House" passed from the ownership of the local congregation on November 10, 1873 
when the church was disbanded and the property transferred to the Baptist General Association of Pennsylvania. 

Rev. J. B. Hutchinson was sent by the Association to reorganize the work as a mission in 1874. Due to his efforts 
the congregation and the church was again accepted into the Association on July 1, 1875, under the name of the Cen- 
tennial Baptist Church, of which he became pastor. 

In 1888, the name was again changed to the First Baptist Church of Wilkes-Barre and a new chapel was dedicated, 
which later was incorporated into the present church building, In May 1900, the corner stone of the present handsome 
stone church was laid with Masonic ceremonies and the building itself occupied in December of the same year. 

tCEORGE Hollenback, a German emigrant, settled in Pennsylvania prior to 1729, and in 1734 "owned lands and 
paid quit-rents" in the township of Hanover, Philadelphia (now Montgomery) County, Pennsvlvania. 

John Hollenback, son of George, was born about 1720, and immigrated to America with his father. He took up 
land, and settled, in Lebanon Township, Lancaster (now Lebanon) County. Pennsylvania, in 1750. prior to which 
time he had been married to Eleanor Jones, of Welsh descent. In 1772, John Hollenback removed to Martinsburg, 
Berkeley County, Virginia, where he died. 

John and Eleanor (Jones) Hollenback were the parents of three sons, George, Matthias a'nd John. 

Mathias Hollenback, the second .son, was born February 17, 1752, at what is now Jonestown, Lebanon County, 
Pennsylvania. In February, 1770, just before his eighteenth birthday, he marched from Hanover Township, Lan- 
caster County, for the Valley of Wyoming, as one of Capt. Lazarus Stewart's "Paxtang Boys" and assisted in taking 
possession of Fort Durkee, Wilkes-Barre on the Uth of February. 

During the ensuing few months young Hollenback remained at Wilkes-Barre, taking part with the "Paxtang Boys 
in the warfare which they carried on against the Pennamites and in preparing the country for settlement, for which he 
received in May, 1770, from Captain Stewart, a certificate as an "associator", which entitled him to share in the dis- 
tribution of the lands of Hanover Township. .... 

His name appears as "Mathew Hollinback" in an original official "List of the Proprietors of the Five Townships 
of the Connecticut Susquehanna Company, prepared at Wilkes-Barre, June 17, 1770. (It may be stated here that 


ivhere\ er the name of Mr. Hollenback appears in the records of the Susquehanna Company, prior to 1 775, his Ch^i^tian 
name is given as "Matthew"; and also that, as is shown by original documents in e.\i^tence, he so wrote his name during 
the same period. Afterwards he returned to the use of "Matthias." which was. without doubt, his baptismal name.) 
June 18, 1770. "^Matthias Hollenback" bought for twelve pounds of Capt. Zebulon Butler, a member of the Committee 
of Settlers of the Susquehanna Company, one "right" in the Company's purchase. 

In August. 1770. Mr Hollenback returned to Lancaster County with the other "Paxtang Boys." He was not with 
Captain Stewart and his men when they recaptured Fort Durkee. in December, 1770, but joined them there a few 
days later, was in the fort when Nathan Ogden was killed, and, with Captain Stewart and the other Hanoverians, 
evacuated the fort and departed from the Valley on the evening of January 21, 1771. 

When in July. 1771. the expedition commanded by Captain Butler marched to Wyoming and forced the Pennamites 
to capitulate Fort Durkee. and leave the valley. Matthias Hollenback was not a member of the combined Connecticut- 
Hanover force. Nor was he in Wyoming during that Summer; but on December 9, 1771 , he came to Wilkes-Barre, 
bringing a quantity of blankets which he sold for £3. 7s. 5d. to Captain Butler, and which were used by the latter as 
gifts to Indians who. about that time, attended a Council held at Wilkes-Barre with the white settlers there. 

When in the Spring or early Summer of 1772, the lots of the First Division of Hanover Township, in Wyoming 
Valley, were divided among Captain Stewart and his associates, "Lot No. 5" was drawn by Matthias Hollenback. 
This lot lay a little more than one-half mile below the Wilkes-Barre and Hanover boundary, was forty-two rods in 
width, extended from the Susquehanna River five miles to the Hanover line beyond the top of the Big Mountain, 
and contained 436 acres. 

Very soon after drawing this lot Mr. Hollenback left Wyoming, and did not put in an appearance there again until 
a year later — as is thown by the records of the Susquehanna Company, It is presumed that during this time he was 
with his father's family in Virginia, whither they had just removed, as previously noted. 

Owing to Matthias Hollenback's absence from Wyoming for this long period, his right to Lot No. 5. in the First 
Division of Hanover, was forfeited, and the lot was awarded to Lazarus Stewart, Jr., for his services as an "associator." 
When Mr. Hollenback returned to Wyoming and learned of this state of affairs, he made a formal complaint to the Sus- 
quehanna Companj'. At a meeting of the Company held at Hartford. Connecticut, June 2, 1773, a committee reported 
among other things; "We find that Mathew Hollinbach was one of Captain Stewart's associates, but had so neglected 
his Duty that Captain Stewart and his associates judges him unworthy, and have refused to allow him a settling right 
in Hanover, and we find no reason to dissent from Captain Stewart's doings." This report was accepted and adopted. 
The neglected duty referred to was, of course, Mr. Hollenback's failure, during the Summer and Winter of 1772, and 
the Spring of 1773, to "man his right" in Hanover, either personally or by proxy, as was required by the regulations of 
the Susquehanna Company. 

Mr. Hol'enback spent but little time at Wyoming during the remaining months of 1773, but early in 1774, he came 
there to stay, accompanied by his younger brother John, then in the nineteenth year of his age. 

At a meeting of the Susquehanna Company, at Hartford. March 9. 1774, the following was adopted: "Whereas, 
Matthew Hollenback is one of the associates of Capt. Lazarus and William Stewart. &c., and ought to be one of the thirty- 
six settlers to whom the township of Hanover was granted as a gratuity, and drew in said town 'Lot No. 5'; and the said 
Stewarts have pretended to exclude said Hollenback from his said right upon a report of a Committee for that purpose 
appointed, it is now voted that the said Mathew Hollenback shall have and enjoy his said right in said town of Hanover, 
viz. Lot No 5, &c." 

Several years passed before the right, or claim, of Mr. Hollenback to any of the lands of Hanover township was 
recognized by the proprietors of the township, but he finally and effectually established his right before the "Compromise" 
Cornmissioners, and in 1802, "Lot No. 5" in the First Division, and one lot in each of the other two divisions were 
certified by the Commissioners to Mr. Hollenback. 

On April 25, 1774. John Hollenback. described as "of Wilkesbarre," bought of William Holland for 15 pounds, 
a half-right in the Susquehanna purchase, and thereby became a member of the Connecticut Susquehanna Company. 

Some time later he acquired from the then owner "Lot No. 19" in the town-plot of Wilkes-Barre. This lot (which 
in 1770 had been drawn by Isaac Bennet. and was still owned by him. in 1772) was pentagonal in shape, and was bounded 
on one side by South Main Street, on another by the west side of the Public Square, on the third side by West Center, 
now Alarket Street. Its fourth boundary lay along where South Franklin Street now runs, and from that a line ex- 
tending to ,'!OUth Main Street, parallel with Market and Northampton Streets, formed the fifth side of the lot. Between 
1779 and 1795, Johh Hollenback conveyed to his brother Matthias, a one-half interest in this lot, and in 1802, the 
"Compromise" Commissioners certified the lot to Matthias Hollenback, and to his nephews Matthias, 2d, and John. Jr., 
sons of John Hollenback, who had died in 1707. 

The Susquehanna Company voted, in June. 1770. "That there be at present but one trading-house set up in our 
purchase on Susquehanna River for trading with and accommodating the Indians with such necessaries as they from 
time to time shall want; and that those persons that shall trade and deal with the Indians shall be under the direction 
and control of Major Durkee, Captain Butler and Deacon Timothy Hopkins, who are hereby authorized to take care 
of and oversee the trade, and deal with the Indians, and see that justice is at all times done to them." 

Under this regulation Captain Butler set up at Wilkes-Barre in 1770. a trading house, where, as circumstances 
and the Pennamites permitted, he trafficked in a small way with the Connecticut settlers at Wyoming and with the few- 
Indians who semi-occasionally visited the valley. He carried on this business (in 1772 and 1773 in the block-house 
at Alill Creek) until September, 1773, when he discontinued it, having a multiplicity of other duties — military, judi- 
cial and executive, to perform. 

As a trader he was succeeded, in the Autumn of 1773 or early in 1774, by Matthias Holenback. The latter estab- 
lished himself at Mill Creek, and carried on his store there until his brother John purchased "Lot No. 19", previously 
mentioned, when he erected upon a portion of it fronting the Public Square a building for store and dwelling purpose 
to which he removed, probably in 1775. About this time he formed with John Hegerman, a Pennsylvania Cierman, 
a business partnership which continued until 1 782 at least. 

At Wilkes-Barre, under date of March 28, 1776, Capt. Zebulon Butler wrote to the Hon. Roger vSherman, a Dela- 
gate from Connecticut in the Continental Congress, then sitting in Philadelphia; "This will be handed you by ]Messrs. 
Hollenback and Heggaman who waits on the Congress for help on account of goods taken from them at Shamokin. 
They are young gentlemen that follow the business of trading at this place, from Philadelphia and other places, & have 
behaved themselves very well and to the acceptance of the inhabitants in general. I hope they will have justice done 
them. As they have no chance in the county where their goods are detained they are obliged to apply to a higher 
Board." * * * 

Matthias Hollenback was commissioned October 17, 1775, Ensign of the 6th Company (Rezin Geer. of Wilkes- 
Barre. Captain) in the 24th Regiment. Connecticut Militia, then just organized. 

On August 26, 1776, the Continental Congress proceeded to the election of certain military officers, when "Matthew 
Hollenback" was elected Ensign of one "of the two companies ordered to be raised in the Town of Westmoreland." 

Ensign Hollenback marched from Wilkes-Barre with his company — which was commanded by Capt. Samuel 
Ransom — in January. 1777, and during the ensuing year participated in the various battles and expeditions in which 
the Wyoming Independent Companies took part. At the beginning of December, 1777, when Washington's army was 
encamped near Philadelphia — prior to going into Winter quarters at Valley Forge — Ensign Hollenback resigned his 
commission and returned to Wilkes-Barre, being succeeded by Sergeant Timothy Peirce, who was promoted Ensign, 
December 3, 1 777. 

Mr. Hollenback resumed his business pursuits at Wilkes-Barre, where, during his absence in the army, his partner 
John Hegerman had been conducting the affairs of Hollenback & Hagerman. 

Mr. Hollenback took part in the battle of Wyoming, fighting in the ranks of his old company of the 24th Regiment, 
commanded by Capt. Geer, who fell early in the battle and was suceeded by Capt. R. Durkee who was on the field 
without any command. Colonel Wright relates (in his Historical Sketches) that when the retreat of the Americans be- 
gan Capt Durkee. who had been wounded in the thigh, could not walk. Ensign Hollenback. being much attached to 
him. carried him on his shoulders some distance from the field; but being pressed closely by the Indians Captain Durkee 
prayed Mr. Hollenback to abandon him to his fate, as they would both lose their lives in any further effort to save him. 
Reluctantly Hollenback laid the Captain on the ground, saying "God Almighty protect you. Captain. " and then sped 
on towards the river. He had gone but a short di-tance when he heard the crash of a tomahawk into poor Durkee's 


Mr. HoUenback. who was an expert swimmer. pluriKed into the river, iTossed to the eastern shore and ha>lened 
to the fort at Wilkes- Barre. where he was one of the fir.-t. if not the first, to >,i\e a report of the fatal battle. Hefore 
dayliyht the next morning he set out on horseback over the Wilkes- Barre mountain to meet Captain Spalding and his 
company of seventy men, for the purpose of hurrying them to the Wilkes- Barre fort He uiel the company at Hear 
Creek but Captain Spalding declined the hazard. 

Mr HoUenback then procured from Spalding's commissary all the provi: it n^ l.e could pack en his horse, and hast- 
ened along the path which led through the "Shades of Death" he administerid naiih netdtd relief to the hungry fugi- 
tives from Wyoming. 

On the ibth of the following August Matthias HoUenback in company with Benjamin Harvey. James Xisbitt Sr.. 
John Jameson. William Ross, Stephen Fuller. Hzekiel Peirce and a number of others, returned to Wilkes- Barre and 
joined a detachment of the -?4th Regiment under the provisional command of Lieutenant Colonel Butler l{.irly in 
December. 1778, Lieutenant Colonel Butler, still in command of the post at Wyoming, sent Mr HoUenback to Deputy 
Quartermaster General Cook, at Northumberland, for a supply of food and money for the Wyoming po^l and Mr. 
HoUenback returned shortly before Christmas day bringing ,t'l .155 to be used at the post in a manner "most eondrictive 
to the public welfare." 

Mr. Hollenback's building on the west side of the Public Square, Wilkes-Barre. having been burnt by the savages 
on the 4th of July. 1778. he erected in 1780 and '81 , a long two-story frame building, on a lot which he had just purchased 
on the west side of South Main Street, opposite where now stands what is known as the "Ross" house In this !)uilding 
Mr. HoUenback resided and did business for a number of years. A portion of the l)uilding is ?till standing, and it was 
the oldest structure to survive in Wilke-Barre. (It was torn down in 1922 to make room for a modern building.) 

Here, in later years, after he had established branch stores in other parts of the country, Mr. HoUenback maintained 
his principal establishment. He had partners in his various enterprises, several of whom in after years became prom- 
inent in the business world. 

In a "True List of the Polls and Estate of the Town of Westmoreland" for the year 1780. "Matthew HoUenback" 
is rated at .£21 , and John Hegerman. his business partner, at the same amoimt. In the rate list for 1781 Messrs. HoUen- 
back and Hegerman, are assessed as follows: Two polls fl8 or €36; four cows f,^ or £12 ; one swine. £1: two and 
a half acre lot. £1, 5s; as Traders, £50. Total, £100, 5s. In the "Bill of Losses" mentioned on page 95 the lo-s of 
"Matthew Holonback" is stated at £671. 3s. — the largest amount, with one exception, set forth in the "Bill." 

On February 1. 1787. the first election of civil officers in the new county of Luzerne took place, and Matthias 
HoUenback was elected one of two Justices of the Peace for the First District and on May 11th. following, he was 
commissioned by the Supreme Executive Council, a Justice of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County. When 
a new Constitution was adopted by Pennsylvania, in 1790, Judge HoUenback was, with Col. Nathan Denison. commis- 
sioned an Associate Judge of the Courts of Luzerne County, and this oflice he held until his death — a period of over 
thirty-eight years. 

In January, 1789, Colonel Pickering, the Clerk of the variou; Court; of Luzerne County, wrote to President Milllin 
of the Supreme Executive Council: "^Ir. HoUenback. the Justice residing here in the town, is obliged frequently liy 
his business to be absent several weeks together, and ^ometimes three or four months, and at such times the inability 
to attend of a single Justice suspends the business of the Orphans Court, and on any special sessions of the peace." 

In the Augumn of 1787. when the militia establishment of the county of Luzerne was organized, Mr. HoUenl ack 
was commissioned by the Supreme Executive Council of Pemi^ylvania Lieutenant Colonel of the "First Battalion of 
Luzerne County Militia." In 1792 he was re-elected to this office, and in 1793. when there was a reorganization of the 
militia, he was elected and commissioned Lieutenant Colonel of the 3d Regiment, Luzerne Brigade of Militia 

From May, 1819, to May, 1820. he was Burgess of the borough of Wilkes-Barre. 

Colonel HoUenback was the Fir-t Treasurer of Luzerne County, and from 1807 to 1829 was one of the Trustees of 
the Wilkes-Barre Academy. "He always took great intere-t in religious affairs and the welfare of the Church. He gave 
largely towards building the fir^t church built in Wilke-Barre and was generally punctual in his attendance upon the 
services. * * * He was in many respects an extraordinary man, endowed with great capacity and courage, and with 
an indomitable will which overcame all obstacles. In all his business relations he was a pattern of punctuality, scrup- 
ulously faithful to public trustr; and private confiden^. 

His powers of endurance were very remarkable; he took all his journeys on horseback, and his business interests 
called him from Niagara to Philadelphia . Between WyMjning and the New York State line he owned numerous tracts 
of wild land which he often visited unattended, travel intP^or days and even weeks through the wilds of Northern Penn- 
sylvania, and being as much at home in the wildness as in his coimting-room, 

""Judge HoUenback exerted much influence upon the progress and elevation of the country. He provided employ- 
ment for many poor laborers, he furnished supplies to multitudes of new settlers, he took an active part in the early 
public improvements, he kept in circulation a large capital, and he was a living, almost ever-present example of industry 
and economy. Not Wyoming alone, but the whole country between Wilkes-Barre and Elmira, owes much of its early 
development and present prosperity to the business arrangements and the indomitable perseverance of Matthias 
HoUenback " ■< 

At the time of his death, which occurred at Wilkes-Barre. February 18, 1829. the day following his seventy-second 
birthday — Judge HoUenback was probably the wealthiest man in Northeastern Pennsylvania. As early as 1802. he 
owned more than one-tenth of the land comprised within bounds of the town-plot of Wilkes-Barre. 

The only son of Judge HoUenback and brother of Mrs. Sarah (HoUenback) Cist was George Matson HoUenback, 
who, inheriting a large fortune from his father, succeeded him in many of his business pursuits, and for nearly half a 
century was connected with all the public affairs of Wyoming Vallev. 

Mrs. Sarah (Burritt) HoUenback. widow of Judge HoUenhack. died in WUkes-Barre, July 24, 1833, in the eighty- 
third year of her age. She was born November 19, 1750. in Connecticut, the second child of Capt Peleg Burritt. Jr., 
and his second wife Deborah Beardslee. Peleg; Burritt, Jr., was born in 1 721 . in Stratford. Ccnn. son of Peleg and grand- 
son of Ensign Stephen Burritt. who. according to Hinman, was a famous Indian fighter, and Commissary General 
to the army in King PhUip's War Stephen's father, William, the first of the name in this country, was an original 
settler in Stratford, Connecticut, prior to 1650. 

According to Plumb's "History of Hanover" Capt. Peleg Burritt, Jr , rtmoved. about 1773 cr '4. with his family. 
from Connecticut to Hanover, in Wyoming Valley, where Sarah Burritt was rrarritd (hti to Cyprian Hibbard. third 
son of Ebenezer and Hannah (Downer) Hibbard of Windham County, Connecticut 

Cyprian Hibbard's name first appears in the annals of Wyoming in a "List of settlers on the .Susquehanna," prepared 
in May, 1772. He signed at Wilkes-Barre, October 3, 1772. the memorial mentioned on page 284. He took part in 
the battle of Wyoming, July 3, 1778, and was slain by the savages on the bank of the river while trying to make his 
escape. He was survived by his wife and one daughter, and some years subsequently the former was married to Matthias 
HoUenback. as previously noted. 




We hear no more of the chnking hoof, 

And the stage coach rattling by ; 

For the steam king rules the traveling world, 

And the old pike's left to die. 

The grass creeps o'er the flinty path. 

And the stealthy daisies steal 

Where once the stage horse, day by day. 

Lifted his iron heel. 

No more the weary stages dreads 

The toil of coming morn ; 

No more the bustling landlord runs 

At the sound of the echoing horn. 

For the dust lies still upon the road, 

And the bright eyed children play, 

Where once the clattering hoof and wheel, 

Rattled along the way. 

No more do we hear the cracking whip. 

Or the strong wheel's rumbling sound ; 

And ho! the water drives us on. 

And an iron horse is found. 

The coach stands rusting in the yard, 

And the horse has sought the plow, 

We have spanned the world with an iron rail 

And the steam-king rules us now. 

The old turnpike is a pike no more, 

Wide open stands the gate; 

We have made us a road for our horses to stride. 

And we ride at a flying rate ; 

We have fiUed the valley and leveled the hills. 

And tunneled the mountain's side, 

And round the rough crag's dizzy verge 

Fearlessly now we ride. 

On! on with a haughty front! 

A puff, a shriek and a bound — 

While the tardy echoes wake too late 

To babble back the sound. 

And the old pike road is left alone, 

And the stages .seek the plow ; 

We have circled the world with an iron rail. 

And the steam-king rules us now. — Anonymous (1859) 

\Mt i^^ ^-^k 



Every problem in the building of the American Republic has been, in the 
last analysis, a problem in transportation. Even the casual reader of history will 
find, in studying the period embraced, roughly speaking, in the first half of the 


nineteenth century, that the perpetual rivalries between packhorseman and wac;- 
oner, riverman and canal boatman, steamboat owner and railway capitalist, 
led to a more rapid advancement of transportation ideas in the United States 
than can be found elsewhere in Christendom. 

On September 1, 1784, General Washini^ton set out from Mount \'ernon 
on his journey to the West. He was then at the hei.s^ht of his fame and in the prime 
of life. Going over the same route that, as a youno^ militia Colonel, he had tra- 
versed in the Braddock campais^n and then pluno^ina^ deeper into the wilderness 
beyond the Ohio, it is small wonder that a man of his foresi(!;ht and business 
acumen returned with a correct vision of what would be necessary to transform 
the countrv into a homogenous, happy and rich nation. "Open all the communi- 
cation which nature has aflforded" he wrote Henry Lee, "between the Atlantic 
vStates and the Western territory and encourage the use of them to the utmost 
and sure I am there is no other tie by which they will long form a link in the chain 
of P^ederal Union." 

Taking Detroit as a key position, Washington deftly traced in his Joiinuil 
the main lines of internal trade. He foresaw New York improving her natural 
lines of communication by way of the Mohawk and Lake Erie. He pointed out 
to Pennsylvania the importance of linking the Schuylkill and vSusquehanna and 
of opening two avenues westward to Pittsburg and Lake'Krie. In a general way 
he forecast not alone canal systems which were to follow, but great railway 
arteries of the Pennsylvania, Erie and other systems as we know them today. 

Indeed the vision of a great man was needed in this respect. The struggle 
of England and France for supremacy in and possession of the New World was not 
alone one of territorial aggrandisement. An extension of trade was uppermost 
in the mind of each. Even after France lost the keystone of her arch of military 
posts along the Ohio, in the surrender of Fort Pitt, she continued to monopolize 
the extensive trade of the Ohio country through direct commercial routes to 
Montreal and Quebec. 

Pennsylvania early recognized the importance of this trade. One of the 
main reasons for organizing the vSociety for Promoting the Inland Navigation 
of the L^nited States, at Philadelphia, in 1791, was to excite public interest in 
an undertaking to couple that city up with this desirable western commerce. 
Baltimore likewise took steps to reach the western river systems bv improving 
the Potomac and extending a road over passes of the Alleghenys. New York 
was not behind in realizing that her future depended largely upon the creation 
of channels of commerce which would threaten the trade of New France. Indeed, 
the rivalry of different eastern cities, no less than the rivalry of methods of trans- 
portation, accounted in large measure for the mushroom grow^th of highways, 
canals and eventually railroads, all of which were over-built in the days of their 
more pronounced development. 

The year 1800 saw the packhorse as almost the exclusive means of trans- 
portation between the East and the Ohio country. Fertile stock breeding grounds, 
lying between the Delaware and vSusquehanna rivers and peopled largely by 
thrifty "Pennsylvania Dutch," multiplied the packhorse. 

Here, in the first granary of civilized Amcica, Germans, Scotch Irish and 
English, bred horses worthy of the name. These animals, crossed with the Indian 
pony from New Spain produced the wdry, w^ise and sturdy creature which could 
transport a load of some two hundred pounds of merchandise across the rough and 


narrow Allegheny trails. This animal and the heavier but intelligent Conestoga 
horse from the same pastures, fevolutionized early inland commerce. It might 
be stated in passing, that practically all routes westward adopted by various modes 
of transportation of the whites were those which had been opened by huge herds 
of deer and buffalo as the Indian followed them in intermittent pursuit. They 
sought the best fords of rivers which afterwards became the foundation sites of 
our bridges. Instinct directed them to mountain passes along streams to various 
water sheds. The Indian path followed these rude tracks of the hunted beasts. 
And the white man followed the Indian trail almost as instinctively. The Phila- 
delphia and Lancaster turnpike, as has been recorded in a previous Chapter, 
was the first "artificial" highway of America. At its western terminus stood 
waiting the packhorse convoy, ready to transport merchandise to the West and 
return with grain, whiskey and furs. Indicative of the extent of this trade 
thus conveyed from the East to Pittsburg and trans-shipped southward by 
river, are figures of the port of Louisville which, by reason of control of the Missis- 
sippi being in alien hands, was a port of entry as were New York, Philadelphia 
and Norfolk. These figures totaled the sum of 28,581 pounds in Pennsylvania 
currency as the value of cargoes passing the falls of the Ohio in January, Feb- 
ruary and March of the year 1800, while for the final quarter of the same year, 
dry goods to the value of $32,000 appeared among the items of these cargoes. 
It was the ever increasing tide of this same river commerce which induced 
the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, which transaction, although much criticised 
in portions of the east, was forever to set free the commerce of a mighty river. 
Its tonnage, indeed, shortly before the Civil War, came to exceed even that of 
Great Britain itself. 


However valuable the packhorse was in the early processes of commercial 
development, he was soon to give place to the "Conestoga wagon" whose services 
became historically important. 

Originating in the Lancaster region, and taking its name either from the 
horses of the Conestoga Valley or from the district itself, this vehicle differed 
from anything known in England or elsewhere in America, because of the curve 
of its bed. This pecuHarly shaped bottom, higher by some twelve inches at 


each end than in the middle, made the wagon a safer conve>-ance across mountains 
and over rough roads than the older straight bed conveyance. 

The Conestoga was covered with canvas, but the lines of the bed were 
also carried out in the framework above and gave to the whole an effect of a ship, 
swaying to and fro along the billowy roads. The wheels of the wagon were 
heavily built and wore tires four and six inches in thickness. The harness of 
the horses attached, usually six in number, was proportionately heavy, the back 
bands being fifteen inches in width, the hip bands ten, while traces consisted of 
ponderous iron chains. 

The color of the original Conestoga never varied. The under frame was 
alwavs blue and the upper parts were red. Wilkes-Barre was early to contribute 
its share to the turnpike and the consequent Conestoga. 

The six horse teams of Stover, Bywater and Pettebone, in their trips to 
Philadelphia, brought most of the goods for Wilkes-Barre merchants over the 
Easton & Wilkes-Barre turnpike for about $1.25 per hundred pounds. 

"The old Conestoga wagon," says Wright, in his History of Plymouth, 
(1873) ''drawn by four horses, was the vehicle of transportation on the turnpike. 
It has disappeared; but it was a goodly sight to see one of those huge wagons 
drawn along bv four strong, sleek, and well-fed horses, with bearskin housings 
and 'Winkers tipped with red.' It was very common to have a fifth horse on 
the lead. I have seen trains of these wagons, miles in length, on the great road 
leading to Pittsburg, as late as 1830. It was the only way of transportation 
over the Allegheny chain westward. A wagon would carry three, four, and some- 
times five tons. The bodies were long, projecting over front and rear, ribbed 
with oak, covered with canvas, and generally painted blue. There were several 
persons, residents of the valley, who made it their only occupation to carry goods 
for the earlv merchants here. Joshua Pettebone, one of this number, is still 
living in Kingston at an advanced age." 

Indeed, to the financial success of the Eastern and Wilkes-Barre turnpike, 
whose construction has been previously noted, may be attributed a measure 
of the mania of turnpike building which seemed in years subsequent to its com- 
pletion to seize upon the whole country. From New England to the Carolinas, 
newlv chartered companies built every variety of toll road which fancy or ex- 
perience dictated — earth, corduroy, plank and stone. 

Xor was the National Treasury itself free from the onslaughts of the road 
builder. An act foreshadowing the Cumberland, or "National" road, was passed 
bv Congress, in 1802, and called for "making public roads leading from the navig- 
able waters emptying in the 

■■*t^ -r" 

Atlantic to the State of Ohio, 
and beyond same." Cum- 
berland, ^Maryland, a point 
reachable from both Balti 
more and Philadelphia, was 
chosen as the eastern ter- 
minus. Commissioners were 
named in 1806, on the part 
of the government, to locate 
the national artery. In 1811, a contract was let for the first ten miles of 
road, reaching out from Cumberland. 




In succeeding years other contracts followed. Slowly but surely a mag- 
nificent highway, sixty-four feet in width, crept westward through the 
Potomac gateway, over mountain passes to the Youghiogheny, the first "western 
water" and thence through Uniontown to Brownsville, where it crossed the muddy 
Monongahela and then, by almost a straight line, through Washington County 
to Wheeling, West Virginia, with a spur to Pittsburg. 

Eventually this splendid road wound on through the Ohio country to St. 
Louis. Today it has come back to us in the form of the Lincoln Highway, much 
favored by automobilists and bearing much commerce propelled by the gaso- 
line engine. 

The eastern division of the road was first used in 1817, and a year later 
mail coaches of the United States were running on a regular schedule between 
Washington and Wheeling. 

In Luzerne County, as elsewhere, the road building urge proved irresistible. 

Between the years 1810 and 1830, the following local enterprises, mentioned by 

Pearce in his Annals (1860) were either completed or in process of construction: 

"The old Nescopeck and Lehigh road was transformed into a turnpike, under the name of 
the Susquehanna and Lehigh Turnpike. The Susquehanna and Tioga Turnpike, extending 
from Berwick in Columbia County, opposite Nescopeck, through Fairmount and Huntington 
Townships in Luzerne and thence to Towanda, was constructed at an enormous expense to the 
state and to individual stockholders. The stock finally became valueless, and the road was aban- 
doned. Through the influence and energy of H. W. Drinker and Thomas Meredith, Esqs., what 
is known as Drinker's Turnpike was constructed, connecting the northern portion of this county 
with the Easton and Wilkesbarre Turnpike at Taylorsville. 

"The Wilkesbarre and Bridgewater Turnpike, extending northward, via Tunkhannock and 
Montrose was also constructed, and in common with the other roads, except the Easton and Wilkes- 
barre and the Susquehanna and Lehigh, was abandoned by its company many years ago." 

It might be added that the Bridgewater and Wilkes-Barre Turnpike Com- 
pany, through its Treasurer, George Denison, called for the payment of arrearages 
on stock subscriptions in an advertisement published March 15, 1815. The high- 
way itself was completed in the fall of the following year. 

A movement towards building a turnpike from Wilkes-Barre to Mauch 
Chunk was instituted in 1822. It was not until 1827, however, that a commission 
was appointed by the Governor to undertake the task. Isaac Hartzell, William 
S. Ross and Ziba Bennett were named on this commission from Luzerne County. 
The survey led through Soloman's Gap and extended through Mauch Chunk 
to Northampton in Lehigh County. A year later the road was opened for toll 

Another enterprise, early in conception but late in completion, was the 
Berwick and Elmira turnpike. The construction company was chartered in 
1807, and had completed a considerable stretch of the road from Berwick north- 
ward, in 1810. The northern section into Elmira was not finished, however, 
until 1825, when a stage line, scheduling three trips per week, was maintained 
between the two points. 

In referring to what was generally called the "vState Road," the last link 
in which construction was completed in 1838, the Wyoming Repuhlicav, of Feb- 
ruary 1, 1837, has this to say of the highway itself and the rou'te it opened: 

"A few years ago the Legislature passed a law authorizing the construction of a State Road 
from the Borough of Wilkesbarre to the Berwick and Mauch Chunk turnpike, and thence on 
through Tamaqua and Port Carbon to Potts ville. The distance from Wilkes-Barre to Hazleton, 
the place where the state road reaches the Berwick and Mauch Chunk turnpike is twenty-four 
miles, thence to Beaver Meadows 4 miles, Beaver Meadows to Mauch Chunk 12 miles, and from 
Mauch Chunk to Philadelphia 80 miles, making the distance from Wilkesbarre to Philadelphia 
by this route 120 miles, the same distance as the route by Easton. From Hazleton to Philadelphia, 
the road is a good one, and near one-half of the State Road from Wilkesbarre to Hazleton is well 


worked, so that with but little additional expense, that route to Philadelphia may be rendered 
the easiest, safest and most pleasant highway to our great market. The State Road from Wilkes- 
barre to Hazleton and Beaver Meadows is already much travelled and is destined to be more so. 
To this valley its completion is of much importance. We all feel the benelit of a good road to Car- 
bondale, now our best market for agricultural produce. It may not, however, long continue so. 
The country about is rapidly improving and may soon fill the market to the exclusion of more 
distant competitors. On the contrary, Hazleton and Beaver Meadows are villages within twenty- 
four and twenty-eight miles of us, rapidly rising into the importance of Carbondale, and being 
situated in the midst of a comparatively barren country, must ever remain a good market for the 
produce of this valley. Mauch Chunk, Tamaqua and its neighboring villages are within forty 
miles of us, and by the State Road may easily be rendered accessible to our farmers." 

In spite of a patent fact that road building for the remuneration of stock- 
holders had long passed its promising stages, local interests still continued to 
promote highways of this character even as late as Civil War times.* 

One of those later constructed was by the Wilkes- Barre and Providence 
Plank Road Company, chartered in 1851, which, a year later, finished what was 
then a modern plank road from Wilkes-Barre to Pittston, at a cost of $43,500. 
Before this section of the highway had been finished, however, the stock dropped 
in price from its par of twenty- five dollars to four 
dollars per share, and the venture ended without 
reaching its proposed terminus at Providence. 

The Scranton and Carbondale Plank Road 
was constructed in the years 1853-1854. It like- 
wise endured financial difficulties and in 1860, 
abandoned the section from Scranton to the 
Blakely Township line. 

Another highway, once of promising import- 
ance was that constructed about the same time, 
from Providence to Waverly, N. Y. This was 
later converted, at considerable expense, from a 

plank road to a turnpike and is still is use, with the toll features long since elimi- 
nated. The Bear Creek and Lehigh Ttirnpike, constructed from Port Jenkins, 
the head of Lehigh navigation, to connect with the Easton and Wilkes-Barre 
at Bear Creek, was another venture which, while failing to make an expected 
return to its stockholders, became a lumber road of considerable importance. 
The Gouldsborough Plank Road was still another joint stock enterprise in what 
was then Luzerne County. It connected the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western 

*As a matter of fact the Commonwealth began unloading all its interests in the stocks of turnpike corporations 
as early as 1843. These included numerous holdings in local highway companies as evidenced by the following text 
of a hand bill circulated in Wilkes-Barre in the Spring of 1844: 


"Owned by the Commonwe.^lth of Pennsylvania 

"In pursuance of the provisions of the 4th. 5th and 6th sections of the .\ct of Assembly, passed the 8th of .\pril, 

1843. entitled "An .■^ct to provide for the payment of the Domestic Creditors of this Commonwealth, sale of State 

Stocks, and for other purposes," there will be exposed to sale, at Wilkesbarre, on the 29th day of JUNE next, at 10 

o'clock. A. M. 

No. of Shares Companies Par ^'alue 

430 Wilkesbarre Bridge Company 50 

250 Easton & Wilkesbarre Turnpike Co. 50 

"1500 Susquehanna and Lehigh do 100 

" 240 Milford and Owego do 25 

300 Cayuga and Susquehanna do 20 

516 Bridgewater & Wilkesbarre do 50 

160 Bethany & Dingman's Choice do 50 


Belmont and Oghuge do 

Clifford and Wilkesbarre do 

Carbondale and Lackawanna do 

Lackawanna do 

Sterling and Newfoundland do 

Lenox and Harmony do 


"Purchasers will be required to pay for the Stocks at the time or immediately after sale in certificates issued by 
the Auditor General, in pursuance of the resolution of 7th April. 1842 — notes issued by the banks of this common- 
wealth, under the act of 4th May. 1841 . specie or the notes of specie paying banks. The transfer of stock will be made 
in a reasonable time after sale. 

"James Clarke. 
"EvA.vs Rogers, 
"Job Mann, 



railway with the once thriving village of Gouldsborough and is, like most of its 
contemporaries, a country road still in service. 

While the end of practically all these early toll roads spelled financial 
loss to their promoters, the immediate effect of their building was to stimulate 
population along their lines and to increase the wealth of centers Hke Wilkes- 
Barre, from which they radiated. 

Tannery at Gouldsbokuugii. 

The Borough of Wilkes-Barre was accredited with a population of 732 
persons by the census of 1820. The official figures in 1830 gave the municipality 
a total population of 1,201. 

The canal era did not begin until about 1830, and a limited anthracite 
trade of the Wyoming Valley, up until that period, depended almost entirely 
on the Susquehanna ark for its transportation. Almost doubling its population 
in the ten year interval between the 1820 and 1830 census is, therefore, not 
attributable to the present basic industry of the community. Rather this encour- 
aging increase may be set down to the fact that Wilkes-Barre was a terminus 
of the Easton and Wilkes-Barre Turnpike and the point of trans-shipment of 
river bourn commerce as well as a center of trade for a network of other turnpikes 
which focused their business at Luzerne's County seat. Perhaps no period of its 
history was as picturesque and as full of promise as were the rollicking stage 
coach days of Wilkes-Barre. 

The lone post rider, asking no more than an isolated Indian trail to traverse 
between settlements, was the precursor of the mail stage. 

Emigrants from Connecticut, in 1769, blazed the first wagon road from the 
Delaware, crossing that river near the present Dingman's, ferry and approach- 
ing the valley from the headwaters of the Lackawanna. 

At first, those going to and returning from the frontier places of resi- 
dence of these early settlers were relied upon to effect any interchanges of cor- 
respondence. Later, individuals were employed at irregular intervals to at- 
tempt the long journey for that purpose. 


Prince Aldeu was the first of these re,i,aihirly employed 
tract, the cost of which was defrayed by private subscriptions 
once in two weeks between Wilkes-Barrc and Hartford durini;: 

The year 1775 saw the then loose- 
ly federated national tj^oyernment at- 
tempting:: to consolidate many independ- 
ent lines of mail service. The ser\-ice 
between Philadelphia, Xew York and 
Boston and another line between Phila- 
delpliia and Baltimore, tlien in private 
hands, formed a nucleus of a system 
of post routes placed under national con- 
trol throu.*,di the efforts of Benjamin 

The first post office in all the terri- 
tory of the Susquehanna Purchase was 
established at W'ilkes-Barre, in 1794. 
Lord Butler was named postmaster.* 

Indicative of the tremendous in- 

, called 
the year 

His con- 
for a trip 

crease in the postal business in Greater 

Wilkes-Barre, since the post rider days when Lord Butler was postmaster, or 
of later times when the equivalent of a larj^^e packins^ case contained all the 
letter boxes of patrons, is the appended statement of details of statistical data 
of the Wilkes-Barre postal plant, furnished for this History, by Postmaster 
JNIannear, as of December 31, 1923: 

William E- Alannear, Postmasttr. 
William E. Newhart, Assistant Postmaster 
Patrick J. Burke, Supt. of Mails. 
Samuel Llewellyn, Asst. Supt. of Mails. 
Winfield Koons, Asst. Supt. of Mails. 

James J. Devaney, Foreman, Money Order Section 

Ella Uevaney, Foreman, Registry Section. 
Joseph A. Williamson, Supt. Kingston Branch. 
Alexander Armstrong, Supt. Ashley Branch. 
William G. Griffith, Supt. Parsons Branch. 
Edmund D. Cam]i, vSui)t. Luzerne Branch. 

*Lord Butler, appo nted 1794. kept the postoffice on the site of the original Butler home:;tead, River street, corner 
Xorlhampton Street 

John Hollenback. appointed in 1802 — Thomas Dyer, deputy — kept the office in the latter's residence. Main street. 

Ezekiel Hyde, appointed in 1805, kept the office on the comer of Market and Franklin streets, diagonally across 
from the Wyoming bank. 

Jonathan Hancock, appointed in 1805. kept the office on the site of the present Bennett building. 

Jacob Cist, appointed in 1808, kept the office for several years in M. HoUenback's store, Main street, below North- 
ampton street, and afterwards removed to a building on the site of the residence of G. S McClintock, Esq., River street 

A. Beaumont, appointed in 1826. kept the office in the old "fireproof," in centre of Public .Square, and also on the 
site of the present Miners Bank 

William Ross, appointed in 1832, kept the office on the site of Lazarus Brothers' store, .South Main street 

David CoUings, appointed in 1835, kept the office on the site of 80 Public Square. 

.■\. O. Chahoon, appointed in 1835, kept the office on the site of Chahoon Hall, Market street. 

J. P. LaClerc, appointed in 1843. had the office at 78 Public Square. 

E. B. Collings, appointed in 1845, kept the office on the site of 80 Public .Square. 

Steuben Butler, appointed in 1849, kept the office on the site of Shupp's jewelry store. West Market st,, south side. 

John Reichard, appointed in 1853, kept the office on the site of 80 Public Square. 

Jacob Sorber. appointed in 1854, kept the office in the same place part of the time, and then removed it to the site 
of the Bristol House. 

E B Collings, reappointed in 1858, kept the office in the last named place until 1861, 

S M Barton was appointed in 1861. when he removed the office to the East side of Public .Square. 

E H Chase, appointed in 1865, kept the office at the same place. 

Stewart Pearce. appointed in 1869, also kept the office in the same place until .\pril, 1870, when he removed it 
to West Market street, now the site of the Industrial Loan Building. 

Douglas Smith, appointed in 1877, removed the office to Muiic Hall Buildiii.;. the present Hotel .Sterling site. 

.A. S. Orr was postmaster from 1881 to 1885, at Music Hall. 

Joseph K. Bogert from 1885 until his death in 1887. at Music Hall. 

Mrs. T. K. Bogert from 1887 to 1892, at Music Hall 

L B. Landmesser, 1892 to 1896. at Music Hall. 

E F. Bogert from June 1, 1896 to 1898. During Mr. Bogert's term the office was removed from Music Hall to 
the site of 16 North Main street. 

Daniel A. Fell from 1898 to 1899, at 16 North Main street. 

Byron G. Hahn from 1899 to 1905. 

In 1902 the corner stone of the new Federal Building, corner South Main and South streets was laid and in March 
4, 1904. Mr. Hahn moved the office in that structure where it has since been maintained. 

Col. J.D Laciar from 1905 to 1907. 

Thomas F. Heffernan from 1907 to 1916. 

Lawrence J. Casey from 1916 to 1921. 

William E. Mannear from 1921- 


Territory served includes, Wilkes-Barre, Peely, Sugar Notch, Hano\er Township, Wilkes- 
Barre Township, Parsons, Miners Mills Hudson, Plains, Plains Township, Coal Ridge, Kingston, 
Forty Fort, Swoyervillc, Luzerne, Courtdale, Pringle, Edwardsville, Oliver's Mills, and part of 
Larksville. The territory served embraces that which was formerly served by Post Oflfices which 
are now discontinued, namely: Westmore, Kingston, Forty Fort, Dorranceton, Maltby, Luzerne, 
Courtdale, Pringle, Larksville, Edwardsville, Coal Ridge, Plains, Hudson, Miners Mills, Parsons, 
Oliver's Mills, Ashley, Sugar Notch, Peely and Christopher. 

Estimated population served 185,000. 

Postal receipts (postage and box rents) for 1923 — $455,753.14; Money Order business for 
1923: Orders issued, 164,630, amounting to $1,893,210.27; Orders cashed, 90,733, amounting 
to $1,042,554.80. 

Main Office, Federal Building, Wilkes-Barre, Branch office in rented quarters at Kingston, 
Luzerne, Ashley and Parsons, Pa., Twenty-four contract stations located in business places through- 
out territory. 

92 Regular letter carriers; 22 Substitute letter carriers; 65 Regular clerks; 10 Substitute 
clerks; 2 Rural Delivery carriers 

Rural delivery service covers Hanover Township, Ashley Boulevard, Oliver's Mills, Bear 
Creek Boulevard and Storm Hill. 

Vehicle Equipment: For hauling mails from stations, 5 motor trucks; For delivery of 
parcel post and collection of mails, 10 motor trucks and 2 horse drawn vehicles. 

It mav be a matter of interest to note that the "post office" maintained by 
Jacob Cist from 1808 to 1826, is preserved in its original state, at the rooms of 
the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society. Names of box holders may be 

Federal Post Oi'i'ice Buill>i.\g, Wilkes-BarrK. 

found attached to a scanty number of pigeon holes of the "office," while below 
are larger compartments for the distribution of mail to Kingston, Plymouth 
and Nanticoke. 

In 1797, Clark Behe, appointed post rider from Wilkes-Barre to Easton, 
advertised that he would also "carry passengers when the sleighing is good at 
$2.50 each" on his weekly trip. The same year, mail service was extended by 
weekly rider from Wilkes-Barre via Nanticoke, Newport and Nescopeck, to 
Berwick, returning via Huntington and Plymouth. 


A year later found rej^ular service established once in two weeks between 
Wilkes-Barre and the settlements along the upper vSusquehanna as far as Great 
Bend, the same service being extended to Owego, New York, in 1790. 

These early riders were paid by the government only for actual letter 
mail transported. To supplement this slender income, it was customarv for 
them to carry newspapers at the expense of the publisher or subscriber; the pub- 
lishing days, in Wilkes-Barre as elsewhere, being timed to coincide with the 
departure of horse or coach. 

In 1825, and for many years thereafter, the rates of postage in the United 
States were six cents for a letter, if not carried over thirty miles, ten cents, if 
carried over thirty miles and not over eighty miles, twelve and one-half cents 
if over eighty and not over one hundred and fifty miles, and twenty-five cents 
for any distance over four hundred miles. Double letters, or letters composed 
of two pieces of paper, were double these rates. Every distinct piece of paper, 
if written on, was liable to single-rate letter postage. Envelopes were then un- 
known. If used, they would have subjected letters to double postage. The 
fourth page of the letter sheet was left vacant, and the letter was so folded as 
to bring a part of this page on the outside of the letter and thus furnish a place 
for the superscription or address. 

"Post Office" of Jacob Cist, 180S-1S26. 

Original in possession of the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society. 

Upon completion of the Easton and Wilkes-Barre Turnpike, in 1S06> 
John P. Arndt established the first stage line on that thoroughfare. Under the 
firm name of Arndt and Robinson, he advertised a regular two-horse stage 
service through to Easton once a week, the schedule occupying a day and a half 
for a journey each way. From Easton to Philadelphia or from Easton to New 
York, another day was required. 

In 1810, Conrad Teeter contracted with the government to carry the mail 
bv stage once a week, from Sunbury to Painted Post, by the way of Wilkes- 
Barre and Athens. He, however, sold his interest in the route from Sunbury to 
Wilkes-Barre to Miller Horton, but ran the other portion himself until 1816. 
In that year Miller, Jesse and Lewis Horton opened a new era in stage-coach 
traveling, and in carrying the mails in Northern Pennsylvania. These enter- 
prising brothers contracted, in 1824, to carry the mails, in four-horse coaches, 


from Baltimore to Owego, by way of Harrisburg, Sunbury, Wilkes- Barre, and 
Montrose; and from Philadelphia to Wilkes-Barre, via Easton. They also con- 
tracted to carry the mails from New York City to Montrose, by way of Newark 
and Morristown in New Jersey, and Milford in Pennsylvania. Post Offices 
were successively established at Plymouth, Kingston, Pittston, Tunkhannock, 
Providence, and other places in the county; and comfortable and substantial 
four-horse coaches rolled daily and rapidly over the highways. 

Advertisements of stage lines, as they were established, fill a considerable 
of the limited space of local papers and excite the imagination of the present day. 
The Gleaner of April 15, 1811, devotes its first page to an announcement of the 
"Old Line Stage," as follows: 

"Stage leaves the Sivau Inn, Philadelphia, Wednesday and Saturday mornings at 3 o'clock 
and reaches Easton same day, — evening. Leaves Easton every Thursday morning at 3 o'clock 
and arrives at Arndt's Inn, Wilke:- barre, early next day. 

"Stage leaves Wilkesbarre every Saturday morning and reaches Easton on Sunday. Leaves 
Easton for Philadelphia Monday and Thursday at 4 A. M. 

"Fare, S3. Easton — Philadelphia. Fare, $3. Easton — Wilkesbarre." 

On the same date, Conrad Teeter advertised the "New Line of Stages from 

Wilkesbarre to Painted Post, Tioga Point and Newtown." That Mr. Teeter 

fulfilled every requirement of a profession of that period is manifest from his 

further description of his line, which concludes the advertisement: 

"Stage starts from Wilkesbarre every Saturday at 11 A. M., arriving at Tioga Point on 
Monday at 12. * * * j have four as good horses as ever travelled, and my stage is new and 
well-fitted to accommodate travelers. I can take twelve passengers. The driving I have the 
pleasure to assure the publick, will be in the best style, as I drive myself, and am always sober, 
yet a merry fellow on the road." * * * 

In 1819, Miller Horton and Co., established a through line to Philadelphia, 
with tri-weekly service to upper Susquehanna points, as well as connections with 
the line previously established by them to Sunbury. 

The flourishing announcement of this line, published in the Herald on 
December 31st of that year, is not without interest: 

AIail Coach. 

"Clear the way for the new mail stage on the Great Northern Route. A new line of stages is 
now established, and will run three times a week from Philadelphia via Bethlehem, Nazareth.Wilkes- 
barre, Tunkhannock and Montrose o Owego, N. Y. The stage will leave Philadelphia Sunday, 
Tuesday, and Thursday, at 3 A. M., and arrive at Wilkesbarre Monday, Wednesday and Friday 
evenings; and from hence to Owego on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, and arrive there same 
days. * * * The Northumberland stage will leave Wilkesbarre as usual on Sunday and Wed- 
nesday mornings at 4 o'clock." * * * 

"Miller Horton & Co." 

"Fare, Owego to Wilkesbarre — $6.00 

"Fare, Wilkes])arre to Bethlehem — $5.00 

"Fare, Bethlehem to Philadelphia, $4.00." 


This line established local headquarters in the Old Fell Tavern which, 
from that time forth became known to visito "s as well as it had been known to 
townspeople, as one of the famous hostleries of the times. 

Indeed the stage tavern, everywhere in America, was the center of infor- 
mation. It was a common practice for travelers, after signing their names in 
the register, to add on the same page any news of interest wliicli the\- broii-lit 
with them. Manv writers of the 

period mention the fact that 
few taverns, even in isolated dis- 
tricts, were without at least one 
billiard table around which, at 
night, gathered stage drivers and 
Conestoga freighters who kept 
up a boisterous din until late 
hours. So numerous were the 
latter class of patrons, that ob- 
jections were at length hied with 
tavern keepers as to their sharing the same quarters with passengers. Xo con- 
ditions of this nature are to be noted in the system of taverns which cjuickly 
sprung up along the stage coach lines operating out of Wilkes- Barre. But else- 
where, and particularly in the stage coach trade between larger eastern cities 
as well as along the Cumberland road, special taverns were erected for the accom- 
modation of drivers and freighters, while passengers sought hospitality in inns of 
more seclusion. 

The stirring appeal of stage coach days may be gathered from narrative 
and correspondence of the period. 

"There was something exhilarating" said Pearce, "in the sight of those 
large four-horse coaches, as they rolled into town, with the blast of the driver's 
horn, and the crack of his long lash. Proud of his steeds, and proud of his skill, 
with the lives of many intrusted to his charge, the driver, in those days, was no 
unimportant personage. Philip Abbott was the driver of Robinson & Arndt's 
two-horse stage in 1806; but no driver, in this section of country, has equal fame 
with George Root, who drove stage for upwards of forty years. 

Conrad Teeter was a large, fat man of a jovial disposition, and desirous 
of making a favorable impression on strangers. He drove his own stage up the 
river. He took pleasure in pointing out his farms to the passengers. He fre- 
quently informed them, as he passed the large residence and farm of Colonel 
Benjamin Dorrance, in Kingston, that he was the owner; and if asked why he 
drove stage, would reply that he loved to rein four horses and drive, but had 
no taste for farming." 

In his "Early Reminiscences of Wilkes-Barre," vSanmel H. Lynch, Esq., 
reverts to incidents of this period as follows: 

"Our town limits were between North and South streets in one direction and 'Back street' 
(Pennsylvania Avenue), and River street in the other. Northampton street was the outlet to 
Philadelphia and New York, via 'Connors' Hill,' 'Spring House,' 'Bear Creek,' 'Pocono,' 
'Wind Gap,' 'Easton,' etc., by four-horse coaches, capable of carrying nine passengers inside and 
an extra one on the seat alongside of George Root or Jeff Swainbank, the famous drivers of that day. 

"It was the custom at that time to send a messenger to awake the passengers travelling 
by stage, as the stage started in the early morning hours. The post office was in a small l^uilding 
on Market street, near where 'Ben Dilley's' place now stands, and Andrew Beaumont was the 
post master (1826). After driving here and getting the mail bags, the jiassengers would be called 
for at the difTerent houses about town, their trunks piled in the boot, and secured by a leather 
cover, securely strapped down, and then away out Northampton street for a long two days' 


drive over the mountains to Philadelphia and New York. The first change from this route was 
over the Hazleton road to Pottsville, where after staying over night and taking the Philadelphia 
& Pottsville railroad, you would get into Philadelphia early in the afternoon. The next change 
was via Tamaqua, where you had dinner, thence by way of the little Schuylkill railroad to Port 
Clinton and thence via the Philadelphia & Pottsville railroad to Philadelphia, going through in 
one day, which was considered a great improvement. 

"The Bloomsburg line was then called the 'Huckleberry Line.' Following are the names 
of the drivers: Charles Horton, 'Jep' Swainbank, H. Mitchell, John Teets, Stewart Rainow, 
George Root, James White, Mr. Dcvers, Charles Laraway, David Seamon, Harrison Williams, 
Sidney Eick, Mr. Kite, and one of the Gress boys of Hanover." 

The first stage tavern from Wilkes-Barre eastward, and the last stopping 
point for westbound passengers before a final descent into the valley began, 
was Terwilleger's, a description of which will serve to set forth the character 
of entertainment which might 
have been expected in many 
other hostleries of the sort, on 
routes operating out of Wilkes- 
Barre. Fortunately a faithful 
picture of the old tavern has 
been preserved in a contribution 
to ''Johnson s Historical Record,'' 
Vol. 8:335, pubHshed in 1893, 
which is quoted at length as 

follows : 

"The 'Old Stage House,' an 
ancient hostelry built of logs covered 
by weather boards — a deserted turn- 
pike road — a noisy, babbling creek . 
the old house stands there — a monu- 
ment to the past almost alone. 

"The history of the 'Old Stage House' and the turnpike are almost one and the same history 
— both being born about the same time and so closely interpleaded that the history of one is 
necessarily the history of the other. 

"The 'Old Stage House' stands on the western side of the Easton and Wilkes-Barre Turn- 
pike, about six miles from Bear Creek, (fourteen miles from Wilkes-Barre) and though rustic and 
unostentatious in its appearance, has entertained a greater number of guests in its day than any 
other house now existing in this county. 

"About 100 years ago George Buck, a relative of Capt. Aholiab Buck, who was killed in 
the battle of Wyoming, built the first log tavern on that portion of the road nearly opposite where 
the 'Old vStage House' now stands. When the Easton and Wilkes-Barre Turnpike was chartered 
and work commenced on the new road, he built the present house in antici])ation of the trade 
arising from the increased travel over the new mail and passenger route. 

"In 1806, John P. Arndt and John W. Robinson established a weekly line of two-horse 
mail stages running through to Easton in two days, but it was not until about 1824 that a daily 
line of four-horse mail coaches commenced running over the road, leaving Wilkes-Barre at 4 a. m. 
and stopping at 'Terwilleger's' for breakfast and change of horses. It was operated by Miller 
Horton, James Eley, Whitesell and Stauffer. 

"About the year 1802, George Buck built the 'Old Stage House' and moved from his old 
log house on the opposite side of the turnpike into the new house and opened to the public, where 
he entertained the stage passengers and others for many years. C. L. Terwilleger, having married 
one of his daughters, then assumed the proprietorship of the house and kept the hotel for a long 
time, when the property was then .sold to Abijah Lewis, father of Albert Lewis of Bear Creek, 
who kept the house for some time. The next landlord was a man from Northampton County by 
the name of Jacoby — he was followed by a Mr. Oyer, Abram Bellas, who is still living near by, 
was also landlord for a time. About 1850 Frank Horton leased it and remained there for some four 
years, when it was again taken possession of by the owner, Mr. Lewis and his brother Isaac, 
after which it was sold to William Tucker, who, together with his widow, has been in possession 
for about forty years, the latter still dispensing a generous hospitality to all who have occasion to 
rest there on their way over the mountain or who tarry there for a few days to fish the trout streams 
in that neighborhood and where all will find a good clean bed and enjoy a hearty meal. 

"About this time a postoffice was established at the 'Old Stage House' and called 'Beaumont' 
in honor of Hon. Andrew Beaumont, who was at that time an influential member of the Board 
of Managers of the new turnpike Co. The locality is still spoken of as Beaumont but long ago 
ceased to bear the dignity of a postoffice. These were the days of the 'reining profession,' and he 
who could skilfully handle one of the four-horse teams was more than an ordinary man. Among 
the celebrities of those days were George Root, Jep vSwainbank, Harrison Williamson, Jim Bird 

View on Laurel Run Boueevard. 


and many others of less notoriety. There is only one of the drivers of the old stage Hne now Hving, 
Dave Larraway of Wilkes-Barre, whose face is often seen on the streets or at Tuck's livery stable 

"The country of the 'Great Pine Swamp)' was then wild and rugged and as day broke upon 
the stage passenger, there was naught to break the silence of the forest save only the 'joyous bay 
of a hound at play or the caw of a rook on its homeward way.' Even now rattlesnakes are to be 
seen in the neighborhood and within the last thirty years three have been killed inside the 'Old 
Stage House.' Game was very abundant, and at almost all times of the year a ride from Wilkes- 
Barre so early in the morning sharpened the appetite, which was apjK'ased by delicious venison 
steak, bear meat and trout, and occasionally Tim Barnes, the veteran hunter, might be found 
there with a huge panther that he had killed in that neighborhood. Tim Barnes, Conrad Sox 
and his son George were the champion hunters of the 'Great Pine Swamp,' the latter having shot 
a perfectly white deer not far from the house — he also killed three jianthers in one day. Conrad 
Sox, who built a good portion of the turnpike, killed a panther while resting his ritle on the shoulder 
of his wife. 

"The first saw mill in the township was built by Hugh Connor, in 1806, and the first 
church was built in 1816, about three miles from the 'Old vStage House.' George Buck and John 
Nagle were among the earliest settlers in this part of the country, the latter building his log house 
about three or four miles from Buck, in 1782. 

"From 1824, to about 1848, a daily line of four-horse stages left Wilkes-Barre every morning 
at 4 a. m., reaching Easton in the evening, arriving at Philadelj^hia the following day, but soon 
the 'advance of civilization,' the opening of the steam railroads, etc., comjjelled the old stage 
coach to yield to its rivals and finally to disappear from the road. 

"Sitting on the porch of the 'Old Stage House' on a bright autumnal day the ])lace seems 
invested with the halo of the pleasant memories of the past — pleasant memories of bye-gone days, 
and we can see the old coach with George Root on the box roll up to the door of the tavern. We 
can see old bow-legged Charlie Terwilleger, with his good-natured face, opening the coach door 
and helping his guests out, while the aroma of strong Rio and fragrant venison steaks filled the sur- 
rounding air and only increased th voracious app?tites caused by the long ride over the mountains. 

"We can see the figures of familiar friends — long since passed over to 'the great beyond' — 
we can hear the merry laugh and note smiling faces at the breakfast table — we can see them dis- 
cussing the sumptuous m al after their early morning ride over the mountains, each one solicitous 
of the other's welfare; and again we can see them after finishing their meal, don their wraps and 
enter the coach with old Philip Sigler or Andrew Buskirk on the box to drive them to John Smith's 
at Pocono for dinner. Happy, happy days were those, but they arc gone, gone into the mouldy 
past and we 

" 'Feel like one who treads alone 
Some banquet hall deserted, 

Where lights that shone, now dimmed and gone 
And all but me departed.' 

From another source (Wri.s^ht p. 274), comes the following; description of 
winter life along the old turnpike: 

"The principal crop in those days was wheat. Upon the sale of this, the farmer relied for 
all the money he received. The remaining products of the farm were used in barter and exchange. 
There was very little money; what there was came from Easton, on the Delaware, the market 
for the wheat of the whole valley. 

There W'Cre no banks. Easton bank 

bills made up the entire currency. 

"W'hen the winter set in, the 
first matter was the thrashing of 
the wheat. It was put away in bins, 
awaiting the fall of the first snow 
for transportation. When this oc- 
curred, all was commotion. The 
moment the snow fell in sufficient 
quantity to warrant the journey, 
the teams were started. The dis- 
tance by the Easton and Wilkes- 
Barre Turnpike, and then the only 
avenue of travel out of the valley Haston and Wilkes-BarrK Turnpike Company (Scrip), 
toward the east, was sixty miles. 
The round trip could be made in three days. The load was usually al^out thirty bu.shels. 

"It was an exciting and pleasant excursion in early days, this Easton journey. I have 
hauled many a load, and I have counted on Pocono a hundred sleds in line. The jingling of bells, 
the mirth and laughter, and sometimes the sound of music, gave it a charm that made it very 
agreeable. Besides this, every tavern upon thj roadside had its fiddler, and we generally had a 
dance for half the night, and then off in the morning, our horses, steaming in the snow flakes, 
and the merry songs and shouts made the summits of Pocono and the Blue Mountain ring with 
their echoes!" 

pa\ \\ie\)cavev,on UicOtfti'e i>\H\\i\vTveft»vircv. 
\n ViWs cuiTeut lu Vt;n«»>\\aun\. TWO DOIjIAWS. 

Wilkobirre, .Manh 1616 

A newspaper account, published in the Republican Fanner, vSeptember 25, 
1839, describing a portion of the Poconos through which all highways to the eastern 


termini ran, then as now, may seem strangely familiar to ears of a generation 
nearly a century later. "As you advance," the account proceeds, "you are much 
surprised to see evidences of the selfishness of man. This vast mountain was 
once covered with the loftiest forests. Now it shows here and there a dead hem- 
lock standing solitary and alone, the remnant of a former gigantic generation, 
while scrub oak and small bushes occupy the place of that generation. The helter 
skelter, here and there generation who live, nobody knows how, have been here 
and cut oft' much timber, made it into shingles and drank it up. But the hunters, 
by kindling fires with which to surround the deer, have done much more mis- 
chief. These great fires have laid the glory of this great mountain in the dust." 

While the turnpike days laid the foundations of permanent prosperity for 
Wilkes-Barre, Easton and many other communities in the eastern section of 
Pennsylvania, they proved merely an artificial stimulant to several points where 
extensive settlements were projected. Stoddartsville was one of these. 

John Stoddart, a wealthy merchant of Philadelphia, believed he saw a 
great business opportunity. The falls of the Lehigh would furnish the power for 
a great milling industry and the grain of Luzerne County would no longer have 
to be hauled to Easton but would be ground at his mills and be conveyed to 
Philadelphia easily and cheaply by the navigation company's slackwater canal 
svstem then surveyed. He saw that he could save Luzerne County farmers the 
greater part of the sixty mile haul to Easton by buying their wheat at the Lehigh. 
The project was an ambitious one, but force of adverse circumstances were to 
strangle it in its infancy. 

Mr. Stoddart accordingly laid out a town at the falls, in 1815, and it bears 
his name to-day, although he projected a city instead of the hamlet that it has 
since become. He built an extensive grist mill and a busy little mountain village 
opened up. Had the original plans of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Com- 
pany been carried out, Mr. Stoddart's venture might have been successful. 
According to the charter of this company, Stoddartsville was to have been the 
head of navigation, but a subsequent decision made White Haven the head of 
its canal system. This unforseen action left Stoddartsville isolated in huge 
pine forests, a dozen miles away from that great commercial highway of the navi- 
gation company, which was to float the flour of Luzerne County to Philadelphia. 
Mr. Stoddart bravely undertook to fight against fate by hauling his flour to 
Easton by wagon, but it took only two or three years of this kind of business to 
wreck his enterprise completely.* 

In 1836, Dundaft' was another community of promise. Today it is largely 
a memory. A description of it, penned in 1896, follows: 

"Dundaff is situated in the south-east corner of Susquehanna County, near the line of 
Lackawanna County, on the old Mil ford and Owego turnpike. The stage coach and four horses 
used to rein up to the hotel, with nine passengers inside and three with the driver, and the boot 
and top of coach loaded with trunks. On its arrival the porch would be filled with spectators 
with more curiosity than there is now on the arrival of a train of railroad cars. A stage driver 
was equal to a conductor on a passenger train. It was the height of a boy's ambition to be a stage 
driver. A two-horse coach was run 60 years ago from Wilkes-Barre to Dundaff by the Searle 
family of Pittston. 

"Dundaff was a very lively town at that time, the only business town of any consequence 
north of Wilkes-Barre. There were two churches, two hotels, three stores, a millinery store, 
two l)lacksmith shops, two wagon shops, two shoe shops, two tailor shops, a i^rinting office, the 
Northern Bank of Pennsylvania, a jewelry store, a tannery, a glass factory, a fulling mill, an ax fac- 
tory, hat factory, tin and cabinet shops, two law offices, two physicians, carpenters and builders, etc. 

*The abandoned mill stood practically intact until 1913, when a fire of unknown origin destroyed the well preserved 
structure. The house near the western entrance to the bridge at present crossing the Lehigh, at Stoddardsville and 
known as "Stull's." was built as a mansion house for Mr. Stoddard's son at the time of the erection of his mill. 


W'ilkes-Barre, it has been stated, looked forward with confidence to the 
future, in the year 1830. A stray item in the Susquehanna Democrat, of Novem- 
ber 25, 1825, spoke with becoming:: modesty of the fact tliat "tliere has been erected 
durincj the last year, no less than fifteen or twenty iiuildiui^^s, several of which 
are but little inferior to the best buildings in the boroui:;!!." Tlie same pul)li- 
cation, in its issue of November 19, 1830, continues inoptimistic strain as follows: 

"We were struck the other day with an impression of a geutleiuan who liad been absent a 
few years from the Borough. 

"'How astonishingly' said he 'the jilace has improved since I left it.' The remark was a 
true one. Within two or three years the appearance of the Borough has changed materially. 

"Improvement has gone steadily forward — not as in some places to recede as quickly . It did 
not receive its start from a phantom tliat soon vanishes or from some sudden speculation scheme . 
The bowels of our neighboring hills, and our fine farms, produce therewith to sustain improvement 
in its onward march. We should not so long have been in the background, but that we were al- 
most shut up. As soon as a reasonable prospect was seen of an outlet to market the aspect of 
things changed. Houses have l^een and are going up ra])idly — business has increased, and is 
increasing, and with it the population. 

"Business men have come, and are settling from abroad. vSales have been made of coal 
lands, and farms, and building lots in the Borough, which has made money move plenty, and helped 
the mechanic and the laliorer. The surroimding country is also im])roving. 

"At this time it would be imi)ossible to rent a dwelling house in the Borough of Wilkes-Barre. 
All are full. Several wealthy gentlemen in Philadeljihia have recently made purchases here, and 
are preparing houses for the reception of their families. New buildings are going up in various 
directions, and business of every kind is increasing. 

"The Baltimore Company have got an immense quantity of coal, and much of it has already 
reached the Baltimore market. It is a lamentable fact that the only means of transportation 
is by the channel of the Susquehanna and if the coal business is profitable, notwithstanding the 
difficulties and losses attending the river navigation, what will it be ere long, when the canil 
is extended?" 

While we might expect to find that views of the local newspaper overlooked 
shortcomings in affairs of the growing borough, we could scarcely expect to 
escape mention of these shortcomings in the unbiased opinion of an observer sent 
here about that time by the Philadelphia Album, a weekly publication then widely 
read in eastern districts of the state. In its edition of September 25, 1830, the 
Album carried the comments of this observer, which are valuable in forming 
an estimate of local conditions, at a turning point in the history of the community : 

"In descending the mountain on the Philadelphia road, there is a large rock jutting from 
its side, called Prospect Rock. From this is presented a perfect bird's eye view of the valley. 
I have frequently enjoyed the expressions of rapturous admiration which break from travellers, 
as this landscape, from a turn in the road, suddenly bursts on their view. At the foot lies Wilkes- 
barre, 'loveliest village of the plain', with its neat spires and comely white houses: while further 
off, the eye wanders over one of the most calm and beautiful landscapes in the world. The Sus- 
quehanna, which meanders slowly through the valley, embraces in its course several lovely islands: 
and the gentle declivity from the mountain to its bank is clothed with the richest fertility. Indeed, 
in several places on the Kingston or western side of the river the farms climb up the sides of the 
surrounding eminence, and in some instances, wreathe the stern brow of the mountain with the 
verdure of the vale. 

"Yet I cannot boast that the natural beauties of the plain are properly appreciated or im- 
proved. The Yankee (and we are mostly from 'up east') has but little taste, or seldom con- 
descends to use it. The necessity of adorning and improving his place never occurs to him. Our 
farm-houses, therefore, display little of the neatness and beauty of which farmers in your neigh- 
borhood are so justly proud. No honey-suckles twine around the cottage door, nor does the beau- 
tiful garden and ample green which surround the house betoken the neatness and industry of 
the thrifty house-wife. The style of building is various as the caprice of the inhabitants, and pre- 
sents as many different models of architecture as from the whimsical ingenuity of New Ivngland 
character could be expected. On account of the scarcity of lime, houses are generally framed. 
In digging cellars the earth is thrown carelessly around the excavation, and on this unsightly 
heap the building is generally erected. It has been said, and I think truly, by a modern author, 
a close observer of rural manners, that a bird-cage at the door or a flower at window of a cottage 
generally indicates a happy moral family. The comforts of a country life are almost wholly made 
up of these trivial and neglected particulars; and until our farmers learn to regard their own iilan- 
tations as the source of their pleasures and the sphere of their enteri)rise, our population will 
remain needy and discontented. Our system of farming is slight and lazy in the extreme. The 
soil, which is naturally good, is soon worn out by a stingy course of cultivation. Our farmers, 
impatient of the return of their labour, urge the ground to exhaustion. They destroy the goose 
for the golden egg. unmindful that eventual affluence is only consequent on a slow, prudent, and 


preserving cultivation. The farms are generally but illy stocked; the race of horses and cattle 
being small and unprofitable. But in this, as in other respects, the influx of a number of sub- 
stantial Dutch farmers begins to work a reformation; and in a few years we may reasonably 
anticipate the introduction of a more generous and profitable mode of agriculture. 

"Wilkesbarre, the county town, is elegantly situated on the eastern bank of th e river. 
It is laid out in the style which, in regard to boroughs, prevails all through this country — with 
streets crossing at right angles, and a circular space in the centre for the Court House and other 
public buildings. The town is old; but the houses being mostly frame, and kept neatly painted 
white, its appearance betrays no mark of age or decay. Wilkesbarre had not for some years past 
increased, but the present year has witnessed many beautiful additions; and the work of improve- 
ments is now going busily on in every quarter of the town. Among the new buildings, a very 
extensive hotel raised by Mr. Hollenback, a wealthy and enterprising citizen of Wilkesbarre, 
may be mentioned. Society here is refined and elegant to an extent that would surprise the 
exclusive conceitedness of cockney. The bar is celebrated for its legal acumen and general ability. 
It numbers among its members Garrick Mallery, the distinguished chairman of the committee 
of ways and means at the last session of the legislature, and his talented and eccentric colleague, 
Mr. Denison. 

"There is an extensive and very lucrative inland trade carried on in this place. I have been 
credibly informed that the net proceeds of one of our stores is $30,000 per annum. Their goods 
are generally brought from Philadelphia; though it is said to be less profitable than dealing with 
New York, and the added facilities of transportation from that city may be likely to invite a 
larger proportion of the business. Your citizens should look to this. There is a large quantity 
of wheat raised in this valley; and until recently it crossed the mountain to Easton, but now the 
public operations in the neighborhood afford a market at home. 

"Coal is the prominent object of attention here. It is almost incredible to what a height 
the excitement with regard to this subject has risen. It is expected instantly to raise the price 
of land and labour; to pour the wealth of the whole state into the lap of the valley, and to accom- 
plish — God knows what. Those who now swing and sweat over their plough will leave it for the 
carriage; and, from Dan to Beersheba, plenty and pleasure are to bear unmeasured sway. It 
is the coming of the canal that is to work these wonders; and we have been for years most devotedly 
wishing and waiting for this consummation — our mouths open for the dropping of the manna. 
But it has not yet come; and when it does, it will be with the inseparable follower of such expec- 
tations, disappointment. The presence of coal has no doubt its advantages; but they are advantages 
in which the whole state will share. The coal of Wyoming Valley is pronounced by Professor 
Silliman to be, in the farthest sense of the word, inexhaustible. It overspreads the whole country. 
It is impossible to walk a quarter of a mile in any direction without discovering the unequivocal 
demonstration of its presence. Its extent is not ascertained, and cannot be computed. From 
the abundance of coal it must be obvious, that the value of the mineral here cannot be much greater 
than the expense of mining it. 

"The most sanguine cannot anticipate a permanent and unglutted market for the immense 
quantity of coal which is now. from every quarter, pouring into Philadelphia. The works at Mauch 
Chunk, in consequence of their recent improvement, are or will be greatly extended; the Potts- 
ville mines, even supposing them, as alleged, eventually exhaustible, will for a long time continue 
to furnish a large quantity. It is impossible that the market can sustain the addition of th? Wyoming 
coal, without a reduction of the demand; and, however great may be the facilities of navigation, 
it will be found impracticable to send it to so remote a market at a price much lower than the pres ?nt . 

"Still it has its advantages. It will, for a while at least, afford a handsome profit on its 
transportation, and furnish a ready market for our produce. It will, if permanently pursued, 
crowd our valley with a dense population; but one which will not elevate its character, though, 
by enhancing the value of land, it must increase its prosperity. 

"We boast another source of wealth, iron. The extent of it is not ascertained, but from 
my own observation, I know it to be great. The advantages presented for iron works, from 
the abundance of coal, wood, and water, render this an object worthy the attention of the wealthy 
and adventurous. The streams of this country afford many valuable millseats. Among these 
the Lackawanna is the first. It pours down from the mountains a copious and constant torrent, 
and presents situations for mills unequalled." 

Notwithstanding the fact that the Wyoming Valley and particularly 
Wilkes-Barre were reaping a full commercial advantage of the turnpike age, 
influences were at work, wholly beyond local control, which were to prove a 
greater impetus to its permanent growth than anything that had gone before. 

The struggle for transportation supremacy was the ruling impulse of this 
stimulus. The Cumberland road, while a national institution, gave Philadelphia 
a particular advantage in reaching western waters in that its course led mainly 
through Pennsylvania. 

New York early sensed this advantage of its rivals. In 1808, its legislature 
appropriated six hundred dollars for the preliminary survey of a canal system 
from tide water to Buffalo, and the aid of Congress was invoked in the project. 


The national government, however, failed to respond to any inducements for 
it to enter the canal construction field, then or subsequently. The Erie canal 
became, therefore, a state enterprise in contra-distinction to the national highway. 

All activities in canal plans were held up during the war of 1812, but the 
year 1817 witnessed a revival of interest. On April 14th of that year, the con- 
struction of the Erie canal was authorized by act of the Xew York legislature. 

On Julv 4. 1817, work was formally inaugurated at Rome, Xew York, 
with simple ceremonies. Thus the year 1817 was marked by three great under- 
takings: the navigation of the Mississippi River upstream and down by steam- 
boats, the opening of the National Road across the Allegheny Mountains, and the 
beginning of the Eric Canal. No single year in the early histor}^ of the United 
States ever witnessed three such important contributions to the material prog- 
ress of the country. 

The engineers of the Cumberland Road, now nearing the Ohio River, 
had enioved the advantage of many precedents and examples; but the Commis- 
sioners of the Erie Canal had been able to study only such crude examples of canal 
building as America then afforded. Never on any continent had such an in- 
accessible region been pierced by such a highway. The total length of the whole 
network of canals in Great Britain did not equal that of the waterway which the 
Xew Yorkers now undertook to build. The lack of roads, materials, vehicles, 
methods of drilling and eff'icient business systems was overcome by sheer pa- 
tience and perseverance in experiment. The frozen winter roads saved the day 
bv making it possible to accumulate a proper supply of provisions and materials. 
As tools of construction, the plough and scraper with their greater capacity for 
work soon supplanted the shovel and the wheelbarrow, which had been the chief 
implements for such construction in Europe. Strange new machinery born of 
necessity was now heard groaning in the swamps of New York. These giants, 
worked bv means of a cable, wheel, and endless screw, were made to hoist green 
stumps bodily from the ground and, without the use of axe, to lay trees prostrate, 
root and branch. A new plough was fashioned with which a yoke of oxen could 
cut roots two inches in thickness well beneath the surface of the ground. 

Handicaps of various sorts wore the patience of commissioners, engineers, 
and contractors. Lack of snow during one winter all but stopped the work by 
cutting off the source of supphes. Pioneer ailments, such as fever and ague, 
reaped great harvests, incapacitated more than a thousand workmen at one time 
and for a brief while stopped work completely. 

For the most part, however, work was carried on simultaneously on all 
the three great links or sections into which the enterprise was divided. Local 
contractors were given preference by the commissioners, and three-fourths of 
the work was done by natives of the State. Forward up the Mohawk by Schen- 
ectady and Utica to Rome, thence bending southward to Syracuse, and from 
there by way of Clyde, Lyons, and Palmyra, the canal made its way to the giant 
viaduct over the Genesee River at Rochester. Keeping close to the summit 
level on the dividing ridge between Lake Ontario streams and the Valley of the 
Tonawanda, the line ran to Lockport, where a series of locks placed the canal 
on the Lake Erie level, three hundred and sixty-five miles from and five hundred 
and sixty-four feet above Albany. By June, 1823, the canal was completed from 
Rochester to Schenectady; in October boats passed into the tidewaters of the 
Hudson at Albanv; and in the autumn of 1825, the canal was formally opened by 


the passage of a triumphant fleet from Lake Erie to New York Bay. Here two 
kegs of lake water were emptied into the Atlantic, while the Governor of the State 
of New York added: 

"This solemnity, at this place, on the first arrival of vessels from Lake Erie, 
is intended to indicate and commemorate the navigable communication, which 
has been accomplished between our Mediterranean vSeas and the Atlantic Ocean, 
in about eight years, to the extent of more than four hundred and twenty-five 

Opening of Erie Canal. 

miles, by the wisdom, public spirit, and energy of the people of the State of New 
York; and may the God of the Heavens and the Earth smile most propitiously 
on this work, and render it subservient to the best interests of the human race." 

Thus did the canal challenge the highway. The challenge was promptly 
met. To rival canal with canal became Pennsylvania's avowed intention. 

The Juniata was chosen as a natural artery toward the West from Harris- 
burg. While the fall of this stream from mouth to source was considerably 
greater than the whole of the Erie canal, and while a barrier of mountains, some 
3,000 feet in height, confronted its engineers in the Altoona region, nothing seemed 
to daunt the Commonwealth. Having overcome the lowlands by main strength 
and the mountains by strategy, Pennsylvania's parent canal was opened for 
through traffic within nine years of the completion of the Erie waterway. Con- 
quest of the mountain ridges from Hollidaysburg to Johnstown was accomplished 
by building five inclined planes on each slope, each plane averaging about twenty- 
three hundred feet in length and gaining two hundred feet in elevation. Giant 
cars and cradles, upon which the canal boat rested, were hauled or lowered on 
these planes, first by horse power and later by steam. The eastern division of 
the Pennsylvania canal was completed in 1827, from Reading on the vSchuylkill, 
to Middletown on the vSusquehanna. The Juniata section was then driven on 


to Hollidaysburg. Beyond the Allegheny ranges, the valleys of the Concmaugh, 
the Kiskiminitas and the Allegheny were followed to Pittsburg. 

This route was famous not alone for its engineering skill of construction 
but because a portion of it included the first tunnel on the western hemisphere 
which, like the canal bed itself, later became the right of way of the Pennsylvania 

Well did Robert Stephenson, the famous English engineer, say that, in 
boldness of design and difficulty of execution, this Pennsylvania scheme of master- 
ing the Alleghenies could be compared with no modern triumph short of the 
feats performed at the Simplon Pass and Mont Cenis. Before long this line of 
communication became a very popular thoroughfare; even Charles Dickens 
"heartily enjoyed" it, and left interesting impressions of his journey in part, 
as follows: 

"Even the running up, bare-necked, at live o'clock in the morning from the tainted cabin 
to the dirty deck; scooping up the icy water, plunging one's head into it, and drawing it out, all 
fresh and glowing with the cold; was a good thing. The fast, brisk walk upon the towing-path, 
between that time and breakfast, when every vein and artery seemed to tingle with health; the 
exquisite beauty of the opening day, when light came gleaming off from everything; the lazy 
motion of the boat, when one lay idly on the deck, looking through, rather than at, the deep blue 
sky; the gliding on, at night, so noiselessly, past frowning hills, sullen with dark trees, and some time 
angry in one red burning spot high up, where unseen men lay crouching round a fire; the shining 
out of the bright stars, undisturbed by noise of wheels or steam, or any other sound than the 
liquid rippling of the water as the boat went on; all these were pure delights." 

Pursuing its aggressive policy still further, the legislature of Pennsylvania, 
in 1824, authorized and directed the Governor to appoint three commissioners 
"to examine routes along the vSusquehanna, and other rivers in the state, with 
a view to the proper location and construction of canals." In February, 1825, 
a general internal improvement act was passed by the assembly, under the oper- 
ation of which the great public works of Pennsylvania were constructed at a cost 
exceeding $40,000,000. 

In this stupendous undertaking the people of Luzerne naturally felt a 
deep interest, from the fact that it promised a speedy development of her vast 
mineral resources. A state internal improvement convention was assembled 
at Harrisburg, in August, 1825. Nathan Beach and Jacob Cist appeared there 
as representatives from Luzerne. Hon. David vScott was Ltizerne's represent- 
ative on the Canal Commission. 

On the 14th of March, 1827, the corner-stone of the first lock was laid at 
Harrisburg, in the presence of a vast multitude. There were present Governor 
Shulze of Pennsylvania, Governor Findley of Maryland, Governor Carrole of 
Tennessee, the speakers and members of the vSenate and House of Represent- 
atives, the military, and a great crowd of citizens. The occasion was celebrated 
in the midst of discharges of cannon, the ringing of bells and rejoicing of the people. 

Garrick Mallery and George Denison were elected to represent Luzerne 

in the General Assembly of 1827-8. They were sent for the express purpose 

of securing speedy action in reference to the commencement of the North Branch 

Canal. Their efforts, strenuously directed to that end, were successful, and on 

their return home, they were welcomed by a grateful constituency, who gave 

them a public dinner at the Phoenix Hotel, in Wilkes-Barre. 

"The commissioners," says Pearce (470) "were diiected to place the North Branch division 
of canal, from Northumberland to the state line, under contract. The 4th of July, 1S2S, was fixed 
upon as the day to break ground at Berwick; and the writer, then a boy, numbered one among 
the great multitude assembled to witness the interesting scene. The military were there with their 
colors, and drums and gay attire. Crowds came from Wilkesbarre, Plymouth, Kingston, North- 
umberland, Danville, Bloomsburg, and from all the region round about for thirty miles or more. 


Old men and women were there, and the boys and girls from town and country came. And there 
was good cider, and a vast supply of cakes and beer, that made the eyes of the drinker snap. At 
the appointed hour the ceremonies began, by plowing near the present lock at Berwick. 

"The plow was held by Nathan Beach, Esq., and was drawn by a yoke of splendid red oxen, 
owned and driven by Alexander Jameson, Esq. The loose earth was removed in wheelbarrows, 
a rock was blasted, cannon were fired, whiskey was drank, and all returned to their homes, happy 
and buoyant with the hope of a glorious future. The peace of the assemblage was disturbed by 
five displays of pugilistic science, called fist-fights, an absolute essential at all gatherings in 
those days. 

"The laborers upon the public works were principally Irishmen, who were accustomed to 
the pick and the shovel, and, when stimulated by the indispensible whiskey, could fight or work 
as the occasion required. At that day the idea of constructing a canal without whiskey would ha\ e 
been viewed as preposterous; and equally absurd would the conduct of a farmer have been pro- 
nounced, who would have presumed to gather his harvest without the fiery beverage. Every 
shanty was supplied with whiskey, which cooled them when it was hot, and heated them when it 
was cool; that was good in prosperity or adversity, in sickness and in health, before breakfast 
in the morning, and on retiring to rest at night ; in a word, an article ihat possessed specific virtues 
at all times, on all occasions, and under all circumstances. But the cool-headed spectator plainly 
saw that whiskey was the origin of strikes, and riots and feuds among the workmen themselves; 
that it was the great head-breaker and blood-letter of the day." 

In 1830, the canal was completed to the Nanticoke dam which, in Novem- 
ber of that year, was finished to the extent of admitting several coal arks through 
the shute. The first boat, named "The Wyoming," built shortly thereafter 
by John Koons, at Shickshinny, was launched and towed to Nanticoke, where 
it was laden with ten tons of anthracite coal, a quantity of flour and other articles. 
The destination was Philadelphia. The North Branch Canal being new and 
filling slowly with water, the Wyoming passed through the Nanticoke shute 
and thence down the river to Northumberland, whera it eitered the Susquehanna 
division of the canal. It then proceeded with considerable difficulty by the way 
of the Union and Schuylkill Canals to Philadelphia. The Wyoming received 
in that city, fifteen tons of dry goods, and commencing her return trip, was 
frozen up in the ice and snow at New BuflFalo, in January, 1831. From this place 
her cargo was transported to Wilkes-Barre on sleds. 

On May 5, 1831, Derrick Bird of Wilkes-Barre announced that he would 
launch his canal boat "Luzerne" on the 14th of that month from a new boat 
yard on the shore of what is now the F. M. Kirby park. This boat, he further 
announced, "would be employed constantly between Wilkes-Barre and Phila- 
delphia, carrying produce and merchandise." The Philadelphia Chronicle, of 
June 1st, conveyed the intelligence of the arrival of this boat at "Bolton's wharf, 
on the Schuylkill with flour, coal and lumber." 

The same journal congratulated Captain Bird upon being the first arrival 
from the Wyoming region via the canal and cheerfully concluded: "thus we 
see the vast resources of our State brought to our markets by means of our canals." 
In July, this boat returned with a cargo of merchandise and reached the Nanti- 
coke dam after a voyage of eleven days, being likewise the first vessel to complete 
the round trip by canal exclusively. 

Navigation of the North Branch artery was not, however, to be undertaken 
without risk for several years to come. The state was having troubles with 
the proper functioning of supply streams and water levels. The high water in 
the Spring of the years 1832 and 1833 destroyed a portion of the Nanticoke dam, 
and caused as well much damage to locks and retaining walls. Delays were ex- 
asperating and no regular schedules could be adopted until the year 1835, when 
two packet boats, the "George Denison" and "Gertrude" were launched from 
the Bird yard. These were the first passenger boats to operate on the North 
Branch division and were financed by a company composed of M. Horton, 
A. O. Cahoon and other residents of the valley. They first ran on a daily schedule 


between Wilkes-Barre and Northumberland, making connections at the latter 

port with packets on other divisions of the Pennsylvania canal. "For comfort 

and convenience," so an advertisement on the line remarked, "they surpass 

every other mode of travelling." 

A description of one of these packets, contained in the columns of Hazard's 

Register, (June, 1837) may be read with interest at this time: 

"These boats are constructed according to the most approved plan of those used on the 
New York and Erie canal. The largest arc 79 feet long; and will carry 25 passengers, and .^0 tons 
of freight, to be drawn by two horses. The ajjartments are these: a ladies' cabin in the bow 
of the boat, calculated for eight jiersons. This cabin is handsomely decorated, and has tables, 
chairs, and beds for the number of ])ersons, and is as neat and comfortable as such rooms usually 
are in steam boats. The ne.xt room is what is called the 'mid ships,' containing the freight. 
Next is the gentleman's room, large enough for all the passengers; this room, besides a bar, with 
the choicest liquors, is calculated for a table, at which all the i^assengers breakfast, dine, and 
sup, and contains beds or bunks for all the male passengers. The last room is the kitchen, at the 
steerage where cooking is done in superior style." 

In May, IS37, appeared the first announcement of the establishment of 
the vSusquehanna Line, a daily through service of packets between Philadelphia 
and Wilkes-Barre.* The Line's advertisement is quoted for the information 
it contains: 

"Passengers can leave the West Chester Hotel, Broad street Philadel])hia, daily, at six 
o'clock, A. M. reach Harrisburg at 4 P. M. of the same day. Northuml:)erland, at 10 o'clock, 
A. M. of the next day, and Wilkes-Barre on the succeeding morning, at S o'clock, when Coaches 
will immediately start for Carbondale, Tunkhannock and Montrose, and thence to the western 
part of New York vState, Returning the Boats leave Wilkes-Barre daily at 2 o'clock P. M. and 
reach Philadelphia in 48 hours thereafter. 

"The Boats also arrive at Williamsport on the West Branch, at about '> o'clock P. M. 
of the same day they reach Northumberland and return daily. 

"The Boats on the above line have been rejiaired and are now confidently recommended 
to the Public as a pleasant, comfortable, and convenient mode of Traveling. .Seats may be taken 
in Philadelphia, in the north east corner of Fourth and Chestnut streets, at No. 200 Market 
street, at the West Chester Hotel Broad street, and at the- White Swan Hotel, Race street." 

*The seven boats of the Susquehanna Line in 1837, one of which reached Wilkes-Barre and departed from the 
Northampton street lock daily, were the "Comet," Captain McLaughlin; the "Pennsylvania," Captain Frederick; 
"Jackson," Captain Will; "Monroe," Captain Daniels; "C.eor>;e Denison," Captain Palmer; "Certrude," Captain 
Cook; and "Washington," Captain Sloan. 


"Freight may be forwarded by Rail Road, from Orrick & Noble and J. J. L,ewis & Co., 
Broad street, and by Capt. McCabe's Line of Union Canal Boats, to Harrisburg, (where they will 
be received by the Susquehanna line) from Jabez Harradin, Vine street Wharf, Schuylkill. 

"P. M' C. Gilchrist, Agent. 

"Wilkes Barre May 17, 1837. 

The lazy canal boat might be said to have controlled the destinies of the 
Wyoming Valley for a period of fifteen years — roughly speaking from 1830 to 
1845. It was a period of rapid commercial advancement and marvelous material 
prosperity for the community. Reflected in census figures of the Borough of 
Wilkes-Barre alone, a gain of some fifty per cent, in population followed in the 
interval between 1830, when the figures stood at 1201, and the census of 1840, 
which gave the Borough a population of 1718. In' 1850, these population figures 
reached 2723. 

Due to the opening of new routes of passenger travel, which will be dis- 
cussed in a later portion of this Chapter, the canal packet trade showed the first 
tendency toward decline, which was later to be generally lamented by those 
responsible for the expensive system of canals which burdened the Common- 

But in the ability of the canal to move a constantly growing anthracite 
tonnage, Wilkes-Barre in particular saw opportunity which induced its men of 
affairs to invest in local canal enterprises long after the oncoming railroad had 
sealed the doom of artificial water ways. 

Original surveys made by the State had located an extension of the North- 
umberland- Wilkes-Barre or Wyoming division of the North Branch system, 
from Northampton street in Wilkes-Barre, northward to the New York state 
line; an additional distance following the winding Susquehanna, of one hundred 
and four miles. 

The Commonwealth had entered without enthusiasm upon this final task 
of completing its originally planned internal improvement. 

The cost of previously constructed sections in the most prosperous peri- 
ods, had outrun even the predictions of the chronic pessimist. Returns to the 
State upon its investment barely succeeded in meeting interest charges on the huge 
bonded indebtedness, and were in the end of things to temporarily bankrupt 
the public treasury to the extent of causing it to default on interest payments. 

But the Wyoming Valley was enthusiastic about completing the upper 
vSusquehanna branch. Its mineral products would thus reach a connection 
with the Erie canal, with a promise of entering new western as well as additional 
eastern markets. 

The State, on the other hand, proceeded cautiously. Work on the water 
bed of the canal continued half heartedly until 1838, when the excavation reached 
from the Redoubt basin to the mouth of the Lackawanna at Pittston. With 
the exception of connecting up various sections of this excavated portion, and 
completing a dam in the Lackawanna for water supply purposes, all work 
was then dropped. The Mill Creek Viaduct was one of these connecting links com- 
pleted after general work had stopped and was considered the most remarkable 
engineering feat of the North Branch division. To carry the canal bed across 
the deep chasm of Mill Creek, Colonel Moorehead, the vState Engineer assigned 
to the task, first constructed a high trestle work and then laid a miniature canal 
on its top. This aqueduct served the double purpose of permitting canal boats 
to pass through it as well as to afford an inflow of water for the basin and the canal 


MiLi, Creek Aqueduct. 

level at Wilkes-Barre, where a water shortage at certain seasons had prevented 
a complete use of the level. The flume was comi^leted vSL'ptem1)er 30, 1S4(), 
whereupon the State withdrew its eny^ineers. 

Scarcely had the Aqueduct been completed before an earh- S])rini; freshet, 
in the Spring of 1841, overflowed 
the retaining walls and opened 
eight well defined breaches in 
them between Pittston and 
Wilkes-Barre. It was not until 
the year 1842 that local resi- 
dents, in particular, could in- 
duce the legislature to take fur- 
ther action. When this followed, 
it was rather in the direction 
of permitting private capital to 
complete the undertaking than 
for the Commonwealth sinking 
more public funds in a doubtful 

In the latter year, the leg- 
islature incorporated the North 
Branch Canal Company, with a 
capital stock of $1,500,000, and 
transferred to the Company all 
the right, title, and interest of the Commonwealth in the unfinished work 
from the Lackawanna river to the southern boundary of New York, provided 
the Company completed the canal within a period of three years. In 1843, 
a supplement to the foregoing was passed by the General Assembly, donating 
to said Company the finished canal, from the outlet lock at vSolomon's Creek 
to the Lackawanna, fourteen miles, as a further inducement to the formation 
of the Company and the completion of the enterprise. It was supposed that the 
liberal offer of the State would induce prompt action on the part of capitalists, 
but the presumption was not well founded. In 1848, the Commonwealth resumed 
the work. Up to the 30th of November, 1857, this North Branch Extension, 
as it was called, had cost the State $4,658,491.12. 

To connect the North Branch Canal with those of the State of New York, 
sixteen miles of additional canal were necessary, to construct which the Junction 
Canal Company was formed. Through the energy of Mr. Arnot, of Elmira, 
Messrs. Laport, Mason, and others, of Towanda, George M. Hollenback, and 
others, of Wilkes-Barre, and Judge Mallery, of Philadelphia, the connection 
was effected. In November, 1856, the first boats laden with coal departed from 
Pittston, destined for Weston, New York. The boat "Tonawanda," Captain 
A. Dennis, loaded with forty tons of coal from the mines of Mallery and Butler, 
and the boat "Ravine Coal Co. No. 4," Captain T. Knapp, were the first to 
ascend the canal, and with great diflficulty reached their destination at Elmira. 
They were given half cargoes, and were drawn by double teams, yet their pro- 
gress w^as slow and heavy. Before the canal closed for that year, however, 
one thousand one hundred and fifty tons were transported northward, and in 
1857, two thousand two hundred and seventv-four tons. 


Those who have in mind a picture of the City of Wilkes-Barre today can 
scarcely grasp an outline of what it was in the heyday of its canal era. Crossing 
the Susquehanna from its westerly bank about a mile above the Nanticoke dam, 
the canal entered an extensive basin at the mouth of Nanticoke creek. The 
canal proper then wound diagonally across the fiats below Wilkes-Barre where 
Soloman's creek gave it the opportunity of another basin reserve. It then fol- 
lowed what is now the bed of the Pennsylvania Railroad, to Northampton 
street, in Wilkes-Barre, just south of which a lock was necessary to reach a higher 
level. Subsequent development led the waterway under Northampton street 
where a bridge was erected to accommodate traffic on the Easton and Wilkes- 
Barre turnpike. 

The canal then followed what is now Pennsylvania avenue to approxi- 
mately the Laurel Line station where the course of the waterway was deflected 
in a north-westerly direction between Union and Franklin streets, along what 
is the present road bed of the 
Laurel Line. Beyond River 
street and on what is now the 
site of the Court house, and its 
grounds, a huge pool was hol- 
lowed out, mentioned officially 
as the "Public Basin" but more 
popularly known as the Redoubt 

Private loading docks, 
there and elsewhere, however, 
gave individual names to certain 
sections. In June, 1837, H. Colt 
and R. Porter advertised that 
they possessed a "large and con- 
venient storehouse on the canal at 
Bank (River ) street near the Pub- 
lic Basin, where goods will be re- 
ceived for storage or forwarding." 

In 1842, Wilham RidaU announced that he had established a "boat yard 
at the Redoubt Basin." Bennett's Basin was another well known point of for- 
warding and storage. In 1855, Zenus Barnum gave notice that he had "opened 
a commission and forwarding house" there. George N. Stark was hkewise en- 
gaged in the wholesale business at this point. This basin was reached from 
Union street, near Franklin. 

The Hollenback basin likewise comes in for a share of mention at a some- 
what later period. On June 4, 1856, it was announced that Hollenback and Com- 
pany, the partners being B. K. Haag, J. H. Brown, of Milton, and George M. 
Hollenback, had acquired the interest of E. Bogardus in the forwarding business 
and would succeed him at Hollenback basin. This was located at the intersec- 

*"A day never to be forgotten." says an unnamed contributor to Johnson's Historical Record, "was that on which 
it was announced, that the waters of the Susquehanna were to be let into the new canal. How long those embankments 
had been before the eyes of boys associate with the strange promise of another water high-way for merchandize and 
travel? But who of them believed it? But a holiday was declared and the long lingering promise was actually in its 
fulfillment. At the old 'Redoubt' in the bed of the canal, stood every academic, holding high in air his shoes and stock- 
ings—waiting for the waters. Down they came, so slowly; over the naked feet of how many mother s .sons rose the 
gentle tide. What a gladsome day, at a day, when no dreamer could have been found l)old enough to promise the 
present easy access to the far-famed Valley of Wyoming. Now 'Redoubt' has disappeared; the canal is no more; 
how many landmarks of the past are disappearing, if they have not passed from the knowledge of Wyoming s sons 

Canal Basin — Redoubt. 


tion of Market and Canal (Pennsylvania avenue) and across from it, about 
the location of the Lehigh Valley railroad station, was a boat yard. As surface 
traffic grew, so did the necessity of bridging the canal at various points other than 
Northampton street. 

Bridges at Washington, North Main, Franklin and River streets were 
added as the need arose and the canal was likewise bridged at Hast Market 
street and again at Hazle avenue. Many of these early bridge structures were 
in use well into the late 80's. 

In proportion as the canal brought prosperity, it likewise wrought changes 
in the business zones of the community. The early warehouses and docks 
along the Susquehanna gave place to substantial buildings of commission and 
wholesale firms abutting on the canal. In fact, at the present writing, the whole- 
sale district of Wilkes-Barre still maintains its place along the route of the old 
canal and streets adjacent thereto. 

Today, but few remains of Pennsylvania's expensive system of canals 
can be found in all the Wyoming region. Portions of the old canal bed are vis- 
ible from Buttonwood to Nanticoke along the right of way of the Pennsylvania 
railroad. Other portions can be seen from windows of the Delaware, Lackawanna 
and Western railroad on the opposite side of the Susquehanna from West Nanti- 
coke to Northumberland. Concealed in a clump of willows on the river bank 
just below the present remains of the Nanticoke dam may be found the sole 
remaining stone lock of the canal with its heavy wooden gates still in place. 
Not a vestige remains of the expensive internal improvement within the confines 
of Wilkes-Barre. 

The original dimensions of the Pennsylvania canals were forty feet water 
level, twenty-eight feet bottom, with four feet of depth, designed for boats carry- 
ing eighty tons weight. The canal from Wilkes-Barre to the New York line hai 
three dams and thirty locks, with an average lift of eight feet, while that part 
extending from Wilkes-Barre to Northumberland had eleven locks, with an aver- 
age lift of eight feet, and only one dam, that at Nanticoke. 

As early as 1844, the Commonwealth had under advisement disposing of 
a portion of its canal system from Middletown to Pittsburg. The matter was 
referred to voters of the state. The measure failed at that time, Luzerne County 
indicating its full faith in the canal improvement by casting a vote of four thou- 
sand four hundred thirty-eight against the sale to three hundred seventy-eight 
voters in favor of selling. 

But the railroad was gaining favor. And once again, the competition of 
states and the urge of rivalry were to bring about a third upheaval of the trans- 
portation systems of the country. 

Baltimore had done more than any other eastern city to ally herself with 
the West and to obtain its trade. She had instinctively responded to every move 
made by her rivals in the great game. If Pennsylvania promoted a Lancaster 
Turnpike, Baltimore threw out her superb Baltimore-Reisterstown Boulevard. 
If New York projected an Erie Canal, Baltimore successfully championed the 
building of a Cumberland Road by a governmental godmother. So thoroughly 
and quickly, indeed, did she link her system of stone roads to that great artery, 
that even today many well-informed writers seem to be under the impression 
that the Cumberland Road ran from the Ohio to Washington and Baltimore. 


Now, with canals building to the North of her and canals to the South of her, 
what of her prestige and future? 

For the moment Baltimore compromised by agreeing to a Chesapeake 
and Ohio canal which, by a lateral branch, should lead to her market square. 
Her scheme embraced a vision of conquest regal in its sweep, beyond that of 
any rival, and comprehending two ideas worthy of the most farseeing strate- 
gist and the most astute poHtician. It called not only for the building of a trans- 
mountain canal to the Ohio but also for a connecting canal from the Ohio to 
the Great Lakes. Not only would the trade of the Northwest be secured by 
this means — for this southerly route would not be affected by winter frosts as 
would those of Pennsylvania and New York — but the good godmother at Wash- 
ington would be almost certain to champion it and help to build it since the pro- 
posed route was so thoroughly interstate in character. With the backing of 
Maryland, Virginia, Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and probably several states 
bordering the inland lakes, government aid in the undertaking seemed feasible 
and proper. 

Theoretically the daring scheme captured the admiration of all who were 
to be benefited by it. At a great banquet at Washington, late in 1823, the pro- 
ject was launched. Adams, Clay, and Calhoun took the opportunity to ally 
themselves with it by robustly declaring themselves in favor of widespread 
internal improvements. Even the godmother smiled upon it for, following 
Monroe's recommendation. Congress without hesitation voted thirty thousand 
dollars for the preliminary survey from Washington to Pittsburgh. Quickly 
the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company and the connecting Maryland Canal 
Company were formed, and steps were taken to have Ohio promote an Ohio 
and Lake Erie Company. 

High as were the hopes awakened by this movement, just so deep was 
the dejection into which its advocates were thrown upon receiving the report 
of the engineers who made the preliminary survey. The estimated cost ran 
towards a quarter of a billion, four times the capital stock of the company; 
and there were not lacking those who pointed out that the Erie Canal had cost 
more than double the original appropriation made for it. 

But the worst blow was yet to come. Engineers reported that a canal 
connecting the Potomac and Chesapeake was not feasible. "The men of Balti- 
more then gave one of the most striking illustrations of spirit and pluck ever 
exhibited by the people of any city," says Archer B. Hurlburt in "The Paths of 
Inland Commerce": "They refused to accept defeat. If engineering science 
held a means of overcoming the natural disadvantages of their position, they 
were determined to adopt that means, come what would of hardship, difficulty, 
and expenditure. If roads and canal would not serve the city on the Chesapeake, 
what of the railroad on which so many experiments were being made in England?" 

The idea of controlling the trade of the West by railroads was not new. As 
early as February, 1825, certain astute Pennsylvanians had advocated building 
a railroad to Pittsburgh instead of a canal, and in a memorial to the legislature 
they had set forth the theory that a railroad could be built in one-third of the time 
and could be operated with one-third of the number of employees required by 
a canal, that it would never be frozen, and that its cost of construction would be 
less. But these arguments did not influence the majority, who felt that to follow 
the line of least resistance and to do as others had done would involve the least 


An I{aki.y Railrdad Train. 

hazard. But Baltimore, with her back against the wall, did not ha\c the alter- 
native of a canal. It was a leap into the unknown for her or coinnicrcial stag- 

The difficulties which faced the Baltimore aiul ()lii() railroad enthusiasts 
in their task would have daunted men of less heroic mold. l{\er\- conceivable 
trial and test which nature and machinery could seemingly devise was a part 
of their dav's work for twelve years -struggles with grades, loconiotixes, rails, 
cars. As Rumsev, Fitch, and I<"ulton in their experiments with boats had floun- 
dered despondentlv with endless chains, oars, paddles, duck's feet, so now Thomas 
and Brown in their 
efforts to make the 
railroad effective 
wandered in a maze of 
difficulties testing out 
such absurd and im- 
possible ideas as cars 
propelled by sails and 
cars operated by horse 
treadmills. By May, 
1S30, however, cars 
on rails, running b>- 
"brigades" and drawn 
by horses, were in 
operation in America. It was onh- in this vear that in England, locomotives 
were used with any marked success on the Liverpool and Manchester Raiload; 
yet in August of this year, Peter Cooper's engine, "Tom Thumb," built in Balti- 
more, in 1829, traversed the twelve miles between that city and Ellicott's Mills 
in seventy-two minutes. Steel springs came in 1832, together with car wheels 
of cylindrical and conical section which made it easier to turn curves. In 1835, 
the railroad received three millions from the State of Maryland, and the City 
of Baltimore was permitted to subscribe an equal amount of stock. With this 
support and a free right of way, the railroad pushed on up the Potomac. Though 
delayed by the financial disasters of 1837. in 1842 it was at Hancock; in 1851, 
at Piedmont; in 1852, at Fairmont; and the next year it reached the ( )hio River, 
at Wheeling. 

Once again Pennsylvania met its competition head on. The first success- 
ful attempt to commercially operate a railroad in the Commonwealth was the 
opening of the Mauch Chunk railroad in 1827. It connected the coal operations 
of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company with the company's canal along 
the Lehigh. 

In 1828, two British locomotives were imported by the Delaware and Hud- 
son Canal Company. They were the "America" and "vStourl)ridge Lion". 
Assembled in New York, they were then loaded on the Company's boats and 
taken to Honesdale, the terminus of the canal. Here a gravity railroad had al- 
ready been constructed, over mountain ridges, to Cari^ondale where the Company 
had extensive coal deposits. A portion of the gra\"it\- road included long 
level stretches and upon these it was the intention to use locomotives, to keep 
the traffic in motion. After numerous experiments it was decided that the 
locomotives were too heavv for the wooden rails and flims\- road bed then in 


use and they were shortly consigned to the junk pile from which they were 
subsequently rescued to find a resting place in the Smithsonian Institute. 

The Mount Carbon railroad was begun in 1829 and, in 1831, so firmly 
had the railroad fever taken hold, that the Commonwealth granted charters 

First House Built in Carbondale, 1824, Called the Hog-Tavern. 

to twelve railroad companies. In 1834, a portion of the eastern division of the 
Pennsylvania canal was paralleled by a railroad and during the same year, 
the Allegheny Portage railroad was constructed. New York lines struggled for- 
ward from the lower Hudson to Buffalo, in 1842. The Pennsylvania railroad 
was incorporated in 1846, purchased the main line artery of the State canal in 
1848, and was completed to Pittsburg in 1854. 

The Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company was responsible for the first 
railroad to enter the Wyoming Valley, although coal cars were moved by rail 
as early as 1834, from the Baltimore mine to the Canal. 

Under the original provisions 
of its charter, this company was 
obligated to extend its slackwater 
dams to vStoddardsville to connect 
with the Easton and Wilkes-Barre 
turnpike. vSo rapid, however, had 
been moves on the checker board of 
transportation, that the company 
secured an amendment to its char- 
ter upon completion of the dam 
near White Haven in 1835 and 
agreed to build a rail connection to 
Wilkes-Barre, in consideration of 
being released from that require- 
ment. Its railroad extension was 
chartered in 1837 under the name 
of the Lehigh and Susquehanna 
Railroad Company and the work of construction was begun in the Spring of 
the next year, with E. A. Douglas and Lord Butler as supervising engineers. 
The plans of this venture called for the transportation of cars, hauled by a 

Passenger Station, C R. R. of N. J. 


locomotive, from the canal terminus at White Haven to Mountain Top, where 
its tracks were to enter the head of a series of three planes, to Ashley. From the 
foot of these planes another rail extension was constructed to vSouth street in 
Wilkes-Barre between what are now vSouth and West River streets, where a 
station was built on the site of the Conyn.c^ham propert\", ,i;iven in 1926 for a 
future art nailery. 

The transportation of freii;ht and passen,2^ers between the termini of the 
\\'voming extension of this road was at first considered beneath the dijj^nity 
of a locomotive. Two horses or mules furnished the motive power of each car 
moved. The Lehigh and vSusquehanna played safe in desij=^nin,e; its planes. 
They were constructed with a double purpose of liftin.f,^ either canal boats or 
cars an aggre^^ate distance of one thousand two hundred seventy feet, stationary 
steam engines being installed at the head of each plane for the purpose. 

A?HLEv Planes. 

Full confidence had not yet been inspired in the future of railroading. 
Moreover the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company was primarily in the 
business of transportation by water. If its railroad enterprise failed, it could 
fall back upon an ambitious plan of moving canal boats with their cargoes intact 
from the network of canals of the Susquehanna to the Company's own system 
on the Lehigh and Delaware. Severe floods in the vSpring of 1841, delayed com- 
pletion of the railroad in that year as contemplated, and it was not until two 
years later that the first passenger car reached the road's terminus at Wilkes- 
Barre. On May 23, 1843, the entire Borough, as well as guests from outlying 
districts, welcomed a new connecting link with the East. Cannon boomed, toasts 
were drunk and general rejoicing was manifest in the belief that a new era of 


prosperity and improvement had followed the piercing, by mechanical means, 
of the mountain barrier to populous eastern markets.* 

By degrees, the White Haven terminus of this rail connection was moved 
down the Lehigh to Mauch Chunk and later to Easton, the whole forming a 
part of the Central Railroad of New Jersey system. In 1866, this corporation 
constructed an all rail link between Mountain Top and Wilkes-Barre; since 
which time, by the installation of heavier hoisting engines and the improvement 
in equipment of its planes, they have been used exclusively as a means of moving 
heavy freight. Today they continue to haul a larger tonnage, particularlv of 
anthracite, than any other planes in existence. 

The Nanticoke and Wanamie branch of the Lehigh and vSusquehanna 
railroad connected wnth this road at the foot of the planes and extended north- 
eastward a mile above Wilkes-Barre, to the Baltimore coal mines, and southwest- 
ward to Nanticoke. It was built in 1861, by the Nanticoke Railway Company, 
which was composed of owners of coal lands along the route of the road. In 
1867, the Lehigh & vSusquehanna Company, which had purchased this road, built 
a branch from near Nanticoke to Wanamie, and an extension from the Baltimore 
mines to Green Ridge. Subsequently a connection was made between this 
extension and the Delaware & Hudson Canal Company's road. Another branch 
of the Delaware &: Hudson Company connected the Lehigh & Susquehanna at 
South Wilkes-Barre with the Bloomsburg branch of the Delaware, Lackawanna 
& Western railroad by bridging the Susquehanna, thereby establishing contact 
with the collieries on the west side of the river. 

The Lehigh Valley Railroad was chartered in 1846, as the Delaware, 
Lehigh, Schuylkill & Susquehanna Railroad Company. In 1850, the route was 
surveyed from Easton to the mouth of Nahoning creek. In 1851, Asa Packer 
became a principal stockholder and to this circumstance largely is due the great 
railroad system now known as the Lehigh. In 1852, he secured Robert H. vSayre 
(after whom the borough of Sayre in Bradford County was named), as Chief 
Engineer. That same year, Mr. Packer commenced the building of a road from 
Mauch Chunk to Easton to connect with the New York and Philadelphia outlet. 
The name of the corporation was changed in 1853, to the Lehigh Valley Railroad 
Company. The first train from Easton to Mauch Chunk passed over the road 
in 1855. In 1865, steps were taken to extend the road to White Haven and thence 
to Wilkes-Barre. This extension was built in 1867. Mr. Packer, in the meantime, 
had purchased the North Branch canal from Wilkes-Barre to the north state 
line and obtained a charter for the Pennsylvania & New York Canal & Railroad 
Company, authorizing the building of a railroad the entire length of the canal 
and along the towpath. The road was completed from Wilkes-Barre to Waverly, 
in 1869. 

A marked characteristic of the policy of the Lehigh, as developed in the 
Packard regime, was the purchase of control of stocks in branch lines, or the 
construction of such lines, particularly to points in the anthracite field where ton- 
nage was available. In 1868, the control of the Hazleton Railroad Company and of 

"One Summer day, after a circus performance on the lower river common, I walked with another boy to South 
street and entered an old frame building located midway between South river and West river streets on the present 
site of the Conyngham conservatory. Through the old building was an open arch, and standing on a railroad track 
m the arch was a small car painted a bright red and about the size of an ordinary street car. I learned that this car 
made a daily trip to and from White Haven, being drawn by a pair of horses or mules to the foot of the planes at 
Coalville, now Ashley, and was thence taken up the planes to the top of the mountain and then by a small locomotive 
to White Haven, where it connected with the slack water navigation of the Lehigh river. 

"The old depot and the railroad tracks between South street and a point below Academy were removed many years 
ago, but the tracks still remaining below .Academy street are in use as part of the railroad system of the Central Rail- 
road of New Jersey." From "Some Early Recollections " by C.eorge R. Bedford. Esq., published in 1918. 


the Lehigh and Luzerne Railroad, passed to tlie lary;cT c()ri)()ralion t]in)u>;h an 
exercise of this poHcy. 

Mr. Packard's foresight was further cni])hasi/,e(l l)y (Hrecting tlie ])urchase 
of large tracts of coal lands whose titles were held hy and whose operations were 
conducted through the medium of a separate corix-ration the capital of which was 
owned by the parent company. Half a century later, after lengthv litigation 
in which the government appeared as i)laintirf, the Lrhigh, together with other 
systems known as anthracite carriers, was ordered b\- the Supreme Court in 
1923 to unscramble its coal securities from any connection with its railroad 

While out.side capital was developing larger .systems of communication 
which tapped the Wyoming Valley, its own capital built mauA- links of railroad, 
all of which were later to form bases for merger, but which, in their time of 
independent control, did much to de- 
velop the resources of the valley. 
The earliest of these was the Lacka- 
wanna and Bloomsburg railroad, now 
a division of the Delaware, Lacka- 
wanna and Western. 

At a meeting held in Kingston, 
in January, 1852, it was decided to 
apply for a charter for this enterprise, 
its main purpose being to afford a 
direct connection for both east and 
westbound commerce wnth the Dela- 
ware, Lackawanna and Western rail- 
road, which was then in process of 
construction. The charter was 
granted in April of that year and, by 
a supplemental act in 1853, an ex- 
tension of the line was authorized to 
Northumberland, where further rail 
connections were in prospect. 

At its organization meeting, held '^''''' ^"<"^^^'-^'' ■'VunEBn Sxow." 

at Kingston, April 16, 1853, William vSwetland was cho.sen President, Thomas 
F. Atherton, Secretary and Charles D. vShoemaker, Treasurer. Capital was 
readily forthcoming for the enterprise and work on its eighty mile course, which 
paralleled the canal from West Nanticoke to Northumberland, was rushed to 
partial completion a year later. 

The Wilkes-Barre & Williamsport Railroad was chartered No\ember 26, 
1889. W. P. Ryman was elected President and its board of directors consisted 
of: W. P. Ryman, George R. Bedford, Ira A. Hartrode, F. C. Sturgis, H. A. 
Fuller, George F. Nesbitt, F. W. Wheaton, E. Troxell, A. S. Orr, Gu stave E. 
Kissel and Joseph W. Ogden. This road was propo.sed as a direct line from 
Wilkes-Barre to Williamsport. Direct connections were proposed with the Wilkes- 
Barre and Eastern to New York. The Wilkes-Barre & l{astern Railroad was 
chartered March 8, 1892. Its officers and directors originally consisted of: 
W. P. Ryman, President; DeWitt H. Lyons, \'ice- President ; Roswell Eldridge, 
.Secretary and Treasurer; H. A. Fuller, Assistant .Secretary; J. W. Hollenback, 


George R. Bedford, Ira E. Hartwell, George H. Butler, E. Troxell, F. G. Strugis, 
Henry A. Fuller, Tuthull R. Hillard, Albert vS. Orr, DeWitt H. Lyons and 
Charles B. Copp. 

Owing to disappointments in interesting sufficient capital in the under- 
taking, the proposed Wilkes-Barre and Williamsport venture was abandoned 
after surveys were completed. The Wilkes-Barre and Eastern was pushed for- 
ward to completion and w^as operated by independent capital from a terminus 
in what is now Riverside park, to New York. Later it passed into control of 
the Erie system, its terminus fixed at Plains and the road practically abandoned 
insofar as passenger train service was concerned. 

By constructing the "Cut-off" from Pittston to Mountain Top in the 
years 1886-1887, the Lehigh ascended the troublesome mountain barrier to 
the eastward of the Wyoming Valley by a low grade extension which served the 
double purpose of diverting its through freight from its main line at Wilkes-Barre 
and escaping the heavier grade to the south still used for its passenger traffic. 

This same corporation completed its Harvey's Lake and Towanda branch 
from Wilkes-Barre in 1S92, to reach extensive lumber operations and semi- 
anthracite deposits in what had theretofore been in part a barren wilderness. 

In the natural sequence of events, the steamboat might have been mentioned 
as a connecting link between the stage coach and the canal, or at least have claim- 
ed space for discussion, of an early period of the development of transportation 
facilities that were to revolutionize the commercial relationships between far flung 
districts of a great empire. Mention of the subject has been reserved as a final 
topic of this Chapter on transportation, because of the relative unimportance of 
the steamboat to the Susquehanna in general, and to Wilkes-Barre in particular. 

It was not, however, due to lack of effort or want of actual experiment that 
this condition obtained. The accomplishment of Fulton who decided, after 
many experiments, that the paddle wheel driven by steam would conquer current 
and tide, fired the imagination of those who dwelt along the banks of inland 
rivers, in no less degree than it inspired visions of trans-oceanic voyages as a 
possibility to those who went down to the sea in ships. 

The first voyage to Albany of the Clermont in 1807 occupied thirty-two 

hours; the return trip was made in thirty. H. Freeland, one of the spectators 

who stood on the banks of the Hudson when the boat made its maiden voyage, 

gives the following description of the event: 

"Some imagined it to be a sea-monster whilst others did not hesitate to express their belief 
that it was a sign of the approaching judgment. What seemed strange in the vessel was the sub- 
stitution of lofty and straight smoke-pipes, rising from the deck, instead of the gracefully tapered 
masts — and, in place of the spars and rigging, the curious play of the walking-beam and pistons, 
and the slow turning and splashing of the huge and naked paddle-wheels, met the astonished 
gaze. The dense clouds of smoke, as they rose, wave upon wave, added still more to the wonder- 
ment of the rustics. — On her return trip the curiosity she excited was scarcely less intense — fisher- 
men became terrified, and rowed homewards, and they saw nothing but destruction devastating 
their fishing grounds, whilst the wreaths of black vapor and rushing noise of the paddle-wheels, 
foaming with the stirred-up water, produced great excitement." 

In 1815, these dreams resulted in the establishment of a line of steam 
packets between New York and Providence, and in 1818, a similar line was oper- 
ated on a variable schedule between New York and New Orleans. 

In the latter year, an ocean bound vessel and a Mississippi river steamboat 
were in sight of each other at the latter port, the distance from Pittsburgh 
on the Ohio, to the southern terminus, having been negotiated for the first time 
in that vear. 


In 1819, the first steamship crossed the Atlantic from the new continent 
to England. With these examples in the minds of residents along branches of 
the Susquehanna, it is small wonder that men began the study of currents and 
levels of that stream with a purpose in mind of adapting a type of steamboat 
to commercial uses on its shallow waters. Canals along the river were then only 
a remote possibility. It is a matter worth mentioning that all the futile experi- 
ments in steam navigation of the vSusquehanna had the prosperous countv seat 
of Luzerne in mind as a center of activities or, at least, as a port from which 
could be drawn such cargoes as would justify the expenses of construction and 

Isaac A. Chapman was one of the j)ioneers in attem])ting to construct 
a boat that would operate by mechanical means. 

It consisted, in Mr. Chapman's own description, "of two hulls thirty-two 
feet long and three feet wide, four feet apart, worked by setting poles only 
and machinery turned by four men — being the first successful team boat on the 
vSusquehanna." On Saturday, June 26, 1824, he records in his journals: 

"Made the first trial heat with my team boat. vStarted from the dock where she was 
built, about fifty rods above the bridge at Nescopec Falls and passed up against the current two 
miles and a half, having nine persons on board." 

"Saturday, July 3, 1824. Set out in my team boat for Wilkes-Barrc. Was detained much 
by having to change some of the rigging. vStayed all night at »Shickshinny Eddy. 

"Sunday, 4. Passed up the river, having on board some twenty persons. Sprung one of 
the gudgeons ascending Nanticoke Falls. Lay by and repaired. 

"Monday, 5th. — Arrived at Wilkes-Barre at half-past 10 o'clock. Was received by the 
citizens in handsome style, under discharge of cannon, voile ys from an indei)endent company of 
infantry and a salute from a band of music." 

The first real steamboat, however, was to reach Wilkes-Barre two years 
later. The earliest mention of the "Codorus," seems to have appeared in the 
York Gazette, of November 8, 1825, which stated: 

"The steamboat constructing of sheet iron, at this place, will be ready to launch this week. 
The boat has sixty feet keel, nine feet beam, and is three feet high. It is composed entirely of 
sheet iron, rivetted with iron rivets, and the ribs which are one foot apart are strips of sheet iron, 
which by their peculiar form are supposed to j^ossess thrice the strength of the same weight of 
iron in the square platform. The whole weight of iron in the boat, when she shall be finished, 
will be fourteen hundred pounds. That of the wood work, deck, cabin, etc., will be two thousand 
six hundred pounds, being together two tons. The steam engine, the t^oiler included will weigh 
two tons, making the whole weight of the boat and engine but four tons. vShe will draw, when 
launched, but five inches, and every additional ton which may be put on board her, will sink her 
one inch in the water. 

"The engine is upon the high pressure principle, calculated to bear six hundred pounds to 
the inch, and the engine will be worked with not more than one hundred pounds to the inch. It 
will have an eight-horse ])ower, and the boiler is formed so that anthracite coal will be exclusively 
used to produce steam. The ingenuity with which the boiler is constructed, and its entire com- 
petency for burning the vSusquehanna coal are entitled to particular notice, and the inventors, 
if they succeed in this experiment, will be entitled to the thanks of every Peimsylvanian. 

"The boiler is so constructed, as that ev^ery part of the receptacle for the fire is surrounded 
by the w^ater intended to be converted into steam; and thus the iron is preserved from injury by 
the excessive heat produced by the combustions of the coal. Its form is cylindrical; its length 
about six feet, and it will be placed upright in the boat, occupying with the whole engine, not more 
than ten feet by six feet. 

"The engine is nearly completed, Messrs. Webb, Davis and Gardner being its constructors, 
The boat, which is the work of Mr. Elgar, is in great forwardness. The whole cost of the boat 
and engine will be three thousand dollars." 

On November 15th, the boat was finished, and was the occasion of not a 

little enthusiasm on the part of the citizens of York as again the Gazette of that 

date mentions: 

"The steamboat, which was built at this place, was drawn through our streets yesterday 
morning, on her way to the .Susquehanna. She is placed on eight wheels, and such was the interest 
felt on the occasion, that notwithstanding Ijeing in weight more than six thousand pounds, the 
weather rainy and disagreeable, the citizens attached a long rope to her, and about sixty or .seventy 


taking hold, drew her from the west side of the bridge to the upper end of Main street, amidst 
the shouts and huzzas of a multitude, such as used to dangle at the heels of Lafayette. 

"She has been named after the beautiful stream on whose banks she was brought into 
existence — Codorus — a name, that should her destiny be prosperous, will not in future be 
pronounced without associating the most pleasing recollections in the minds of the citizens of 
this place." 

On November 22nd the craft was launched, at Wrightsville, and a trial 
of her engines indicated that without a full head of steam she could easily make 
five miles an hour against the current. With forty persons on board she drew 
only eight inches of water. The boat reached Harrisburg on December 3rd and 
then seems to have escaped further mention until the Spring following when she 
began her maiden voyage to Wilkes-Barre. From an account of the propitious 
arrival of the steamer at the latter port, it would appear that unsatisfactory 
results were being obtained from burning anthracite under her boilers and that 
wood had been substituted. The account of the Susquehanna Democrat, of April 
14, 1826, is reproduced: 

"On Wednesday evening last, just as the orb of day was hiding in the West, we were greeted 
with the appearance of the steamboat, Codorus, turning the point below the borough. The dis- 
charge of cannon and hearty cheers of the people, mingling with the sound of martial music, 
and the peals of several bells, proclaimed the approach of the first steamboat that ever visited 
the shores of Wyoming. She cast anchor opposite the borough, a little before dark, in the presence 
of a crowd of spectators, who assembled to witness her arrival. Next morning a company of about 
sixty gentlemen boarded her at Wilkes-Barre, and sailed up to Squire Myers's at Forty Fort, 
about three miles distant. In the journey it had to encounter nearly half a mile of strong ripples, 
and what is called falls. It performed the trip in one hour and eighteen minutes. After tarrying 
a short time she returned to Wilkes-Barre in thirty-three minutes, against a severe wind, with 
an increased number of passengers. At 1 1 :30 she again anchored at Wilkes-Barre, and about 
3 o'clock, Mr. Elgar, the principal of the boat, and seventy or eighty citizens, sat down to an 
excellent dinner, prepared by O. Porter. It is but justice to say the dinner was good, it was sump- 
tions. After dinner a number of appropriate toasts were drank, which will probably be published 
next week. 

"This experiment entitled Mr. Elgar to much credit and esteem, and we heartily wish him 
a pleasant journey to the head waters of the Susquehanna, the place, we believe, of destination. 

"The greatest difficulty to be encountered is in procuring wood, people along the river 
should have this article in readiness. Dry pines and pine knots are best and are plenty. 

"Mr. Elgar, we understand, intends tarrying here until Monday, which will afford the in- 
habitants generally, an opportunity of witnessing the movements of steamboat on the waters 
of the Susquehanna." 

The career of the "Codorus" seems to have been one of adventure, rather 
than the serving of any useful purpose. In June, 1826, she was at Owego. Later, 
she appeared at Binghamton. Late in July, she had descended the river as far 
as Athens. At all of these points the vessel excited great interest and engaged 
in the excursion business until the novelty wore off. Two years later, a stock- 
holder in the enterprise complained as follows: 

"Between $2,000 and $3,000 have been expended upon the construction of this boat, 
and from the use, or rather no use being made of it, after it was built, the question may ration- 
ally be asked for what purpose has this large sum been expended, or what was the object of build- 
ing the boat? But I am in hope some better use might be made of it, than .suffering it to be dis- 
mantled, and becoming a pray to the corrosions of time. Suppose some of the stockholders were to 
employ some of the arkmen to tow it down to tide, where perhaps it might be applied to some 
useful purpose. Something could perhaps be obtained for it to be used as craft in the bay." 

Whatever merit the vessel may have possessed, the claim appears to be 
stibstantiated that she was the first iron steamboat of history. Her subsequent 
career was one of desultory voyages, taken as river conditions permitted, 
without attempting to establish a regular schedule between ports of commercial 
promise. In 1831, her dismantled hull was rusting at York Haven, with the 
investment of her stockholders a total loss. 

A second attempt to navigate the river was made by the steamboat "Sus- 
quehanna and Baltimore," as she was originally christened. Her wooden keel 


was laid down in a shipyard at Baltimore, also in the vSpring of 1825. Her con- 
struction was intended by an association of Baltimore business men, who fur- 
nished funds for that purpose, to cement the trade of that city with the Susque- 
hanna country. When completed she was towed to Port Deposit, where the 
task was undertaken of getting her up the river to Columbia, over what was 
considered the river's most dangerous stretch of water. From all accounts 
this proved a formidable undertaking. Her pilot, Captain Cornwell, was thor- 
oughly acquainted with the peculiarities of current and channel, having piloted 
rafts and arks over the stretch for many years, but all his skill could not induce 
the little steamer to ascend the swifter shutes under her own power. Men and 
horses, tugging at hawsers, finally brought her to Aliddlctown, where she seems 
to have spent the \\'inter of 1825-1826. 

In the Summer of the latter year, she fared forth on a trial trip to the North 
Branch, having been joined meanwhile by three commissioners, Messers ElHcott, 
Patterson and Morris, representing the City of Baltimore. On her trip to north- 

;ife. :. 

tc* -^* 


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T-^ar'-'-x. -rry^djj 

























ern waters, the boat appears to have dropped a part of her original name, being 
designated thereafter merely as the "vSusquehanna." With a length of eighty- 
two feet, stern wheels four and one-half feet in diameter and carrying a thirty 
horse power engine, she drew, when loaded to her passenger capacity of one 
hundred, some twenty-two inches of water. Her trip was without incident 
until Berwick was sighted. Arriving at Xescopeck Falls, opposite that point 
on the afternoon of July 3, 1826, an opportunity was afforded all passengers 
to leave the boat before a trial of the rapids was made. 

Here was to occur the upper Susquehanna's most tragic accident. Pearce, 
who was an eye witness of the destruction of the "Susquehanna," thus describes 
the catastrophe in his "Annals of Luzerne County, page 460:" 

"The ascent of these rapids was looked upon as the most difficult part of the undertaking. 
The three commissioners and all the passengers, except about twenty, left the boat, and walked 
along the shore. A quantity of rich pine-wood had been procured for the occasion, and with a 
full head of steam, the dangerous passage was commenced. The banks of the river were crowded 
with spectators from the villages of Benvick, Nescopeck, and from the surrounding country. The 
angry waters seemed to dash with redoubled fury against the rocks and against the devoted Ijoat, 
as if aware of the strife. Trembling from stem to stern, the noble craft slowly advanced, cheered 
by a thousand voices, until she reached the middle, and most difficult point of ascent. Here her 


headway ceased. The multitude stood silent on the shores, watching with intense anxiety the 
boat and her passengers. In a few moments she turned slightly towards the shore, and struck 
a rock. Her boiler immediately burst with an explosion, that sent the dreadful intelligence of 
her fate many miles throughout the surrounding country. Shattered, broken, and on fire, all 
that remained of the 'Susquehanna' was carried down the conquering tide. The mangled bodies 
of her passengers and crew, dead and dying, lay upon her decks, or had been blown into the river. 
Alen with ropes rushed into the stream to their shoulders, to save the unhappy survivors from a 
watery grave. The rescued sufferers were taken into Berwick, where they received the kind 
attentions of a sumpathizing community. The writer, then a small boy, was an eye-witness of 
this awful scene. The bodies of several persons were placed in a large room in the hotel of Mr. 
John Jones. What there presented itself will never be erased from our memory — the bloodstained 
floor — the mangled, scalded bodies — the groans and dying words of men far from home and kindred. 

"Colonel Joseph Paxton of Cattawissa, who was on board, in a letter to the writer says, 
'With our rich pine we succeeded in raising a full head of steam, and set off in fine style to ascend 
the rapids. The strength of the current soon checked our headway, and the boat, flanking towards 
the right bank of the river, struck a rock. I stood on the forward-deck with a long ash pole in 
my hand, and was in the act of placing it in the water hoping to steady her, when the explosion 
took place. Two young men standing near me were blown high into the air, and I was hurled 
several yards from the boat into the water. I thought a cannon had been fired, and shot my head 
off. When in the water I thought I must certainly drown, but, making a desperate effort, succeeded 
in reaching the shore. I was badly scalded, and lost my hair and a portion of my scalp.' 

"Doctors Headley, Wilson, and Jackson, of Berwick, were actively engaged rendering 
all the medical assistance in their power. The citizens generally, especially the ladies, ministered 
to the wants and comforts of the suffering. 

"John Turk and Ceber Whitemarsh of Green, New York, were killed instantly. William 
Camp of Owego died in a few hours, and his remains were conveyed to his family. Mr. Maynard, 
the engineer, lingered a day or two and died. He died in the triumphs of the Christian faith. He 
was a resident of Baltimore, and a class-leader in the Methodist Episcopal Church. The fireman, 
a brave little fellow, was most severely scalded, but recovered. 

"William Fitch and David Rose, of Chenango county, N. Y., were scalded and severely 

"Colonel Paxton and C. Brobst, of Catawissa, and Jeremiah Miller, of Perry county, 
were severely scalded. Messrs. Woodside, Colt, and Underwood, of Danville, Foster, Hurley, 
and Barton, of Bloomsburg; Benjamin Edwards and Isaac Lacey, of Luzerne county, were slightly 

Undismayed by the failure of the "Codorus" and the fate of the "Susque- 
hanna", the year 1834 found discussions in vogue between Owego and Wilkes- 
Barre, as to the advisability of organizing a local company for further experi- 
ments with river craft. This discussion took practical form at Tunkhannock, 
by the appointment of a committee of citizens of that point to confer with like 
committees from Wilkes-Barre and Owego as to the formation of a corporation 
whose shares of stock might be purchased at all points along the proposed route 
of travel. The Wyoming Republican of June 18, 1834, mentions the fact that 
a joint meeting for formulating plans was held at Towanda and a decision had 
been reached to seek a charter authorizing an issue of five thousand shares of 
stock at ten dollars per share. 

On August 27, 1834, a meeting of all interested was called at Wilkes-Barre, 
the Susquehanna Steamboat and Navigation Company organized with a capital 
stock of one hundred thousand dollars, and the following committee appointed 
to solicit subscriptions and conduct the affairs of the company until its charter 
should arrive: Messers G. W. Woodward, B. A. Bidlack, J. L. Butler, L. S. 
Coryell, Messers James Pumpelly, Wm. H. Ely, H. W. Camp, Lathan A. Bur- 
rows, Jonathan Piatt, Amos Martin, and J. S. Pumpelly of Owego; S. D. Ingham, 
of Bucks County and George M. Hollenback, Henry Colt and Henry Pettebone 
of Wilkes-Barre. 

Early in the following Spring, sufficient funds were in sight to allow the 
building of an experimental boat at Owego the keel of which was laid down as 
soon as weather conditions permitted. She was ready to be commissioned by 
May 1st, the name "vSusquehanna" having been given to her by popular vote 
although the same name had belonged to the ill-fated boat of 1826. On May 12, 

1835 she left Owego at seven A. M. and reached Wilkes-Barre at six P. M. the 
same day. Discharo^ing; some freight and passengers, and with a cargo of coal, 
she began a retnrn trip the following day. But the "vSuscjuehanna" was to find, 
as the "Codorus" had found before her, that while an occasional trip on the river 
might be made, maintaining any sort of a schedule that might prove of commercial 
benefit was out of the question. vSlie experienced such dcla\s and found the need 
of so many repairs while making the ascent of the river, her owners decided 
that using her for excursion purposes was the only way to earn her up-keep. 
"What has become of the vSteam Boat.^" exclaims the WyoDiiJi'^ Rcpiiblicdu, 
May 17, 1837. "It has heretofore taken advantage of the vSpring and Fall freshets, 
and made its periodical trips with something like regularit\-. It was rather 
pleasant than otherwise to hear the loud shout of the bovs from the redoubt — 
'A Sail! A vSail!' 'The Boat! The Boat!' — and then the merry gathering of men, 
women, and children at the wharf, the jokes of the youngsters, and the bright 
eyes of the girls. To Wilkes-Barre even this trifling occurrence was of moment. 
The people here like fun —and grow very, very taciturn without some kind of 
excitement. The Boat must come — the wood is in readiness; it has been for some 
time in the hands of a very public spirited gentleman and the loss wall fall heavv 
upon him if the trip is not made. If not convenient to come further than Tunk- 
hannock the first day, we won't complain if the arrival should be a day after. 
In the general depreciation of stocks and the panic and pressure which prevail, 
we are sorry to see that Wilkes-Barre and Owego Steam boat stock has fallen 
below zero." 

The final appearance of the "vSusquehanna," at Wilkes-Barre was in the 
Spring of 1838. Considerable amusement must have attended her adieu to 
local efforts, judged from an account of the Republican: 

"The steamboat Susquehanna 'of and from' Owego, made her appearance at Wilkesbarre, 
on Friday morning last. It is the second time, we believe, that the Valley has been honored with 
the presence of this aqueous stranger. 

On Saturday she made two pleasure excursions from the Borough to Nanticoke, well loaded, 
we understand, with the fair and gay; but unfortunately, on the return of her second trip, when 
about two miles below town, her stern wheel struck upon a sand bar, breaking the shaft, and bring- 
ing the boat to a dead halt. The votaries of pleasure on board were di.sembarked, and had the 
advantage of active exercise in walking back to the place of starting. 

"We are not aware whether the experiment of navigating the Susquehanna by steam is 
now considered thoroughly tested." 

As a matter of fact, the "experiment" was "tested" for the "Susquehanna," 
at least. She was floated to the mouth of Nanticoke creek where her hull was 
later crushed bj^ ice, thus proving another total loss to stockholders. 

It was ten years later before the largest boat that ever attempted to navi- 
gate the upper river was launched. vShe was the "Wyoming," constructed by 
undaunted citizens of Tunkhannock with the aid of a ship builder brought on 
from New York for the purpose. A length of one hundred twenty-seven feet and 
beam of twenty-two feet outrivaled the dimensions of any other craft. She was 
launched, at a total cost of $6,000, in April, 1849. After a trial trip to Towanda, 
the Wyoming proceeded to Wilkes-Barre, where she engaged in the coal carrying 
trade between the Wyoming Valley and Athens, as condition of the river permitted. 

Being found an unprofitable venture at the end of three years, especially 
in view of canal opposition, the Wyoming was beached and permitted to dis- 
integrate. Local capital now being wholly discouraged as to further ventures 
which tied up large sums in a doubtful enterprise, it remained for citizens of 
Bainbridge, New York, to make a final attempt at navigation. There the "Enter- 


prise" was constructed intended, like its immediate predecessor, for coal carrying 
purposes. She was launched in 1851, and while the Spring months permitted 
profitable employment, between Wilkes-Barre and up-river points, the low water 
of Summer and Fall, which had left the boat high and dry upon the bank, so 
injured her hull that she was salvaged for what her machinery might bring. 

While this venture ended all attempts to navigate the Susquehanna in 
the sense that the Missippippi and its tributaries were navigated, it did not de- 
stroy a belief that boats could be operated profitably in interurban passenger 
trade. Conditions in the Wyoming Valley were exceptionally favorable in this 
respect. The Nanticoke dam maintained a dependable stage of water throughout 
the year and ice dangers alone were to be feared. Populations of communities 
along the river were growing in proportion as Wilkes-Barre grew. The earliest 
boat to engage in this trade was the Winohocking which, in 1859, began to main- 
tain a regular schedule between Plymouth and Wilkes-Barre. Uncertainties 
of Civil war times and financial troubles which followed in their wake disrupted 
this trade for several years. Local capital came forward in 1874, to build the 
"Hendrick B. Wright," a stern wheel steamer built after the pattern of Ohio river 
craft and capable of carrying four hundred passengers. She immediately engaged 
in a profitable trade between Plymouth, Nanticoke and Wilkes-Barre and came 
into great popularity for moonlight excursions after scheduled hours. The 
"Wright" is credited with an excursion to Tunkhannock on August 26, 1875, 
the round trip being easily made in daylight hours. The financial success of 
this boat quickly drew rivals to the Wyoming pool. In the vSpring of 1875, the 
sidewheel steamer "Owego" rechristened the "Pittston," was purchased by 
vSmith and Shiffer and brought to Pittston to engage in making two trips a 
day between Pittston and Nanticoke. 

Plymouth capital now became interested in the purchase of the "Lyman 
Truman," an excursion boat then plying between Owego and a pleasure resort 
nearby. She was rechristened the "Susquehanna" by her new owners and at 
once stirred up keen rivalry. Lack of harbor facilities during periods of heavy 
ice took a heavy toh of this fleet. Both the "Pittston" and "Hendrick B. Wright" 
were crushed b}^ ice and sunk on February 11, 1881. 

The "vSusquehanna" bore the same fate as at least one of her namesakes. 
While about to take on passengers at the Wilkes-Barre wharf, on July 3, 1883, 
her boilers exploded, demolishing the craft and injuring all of the members of 
her crew. They were fished out of the river, however, without any fatalities 
and their wounds dressed at the Wyoming Valley Hotel. In spite of masses of 
debris hurled shoreward where passengers were waiting, none were seriously 
injured. P. L. Raeder, an eye witness to this accident, in a contribution to the 
Record May 9, 1912, is authority for the statement that the boiler of the boat 
was hurled clear of the old covered bridge at Market street and fell into the river 
beyond. In the year 1885 the "Wilkes-Barre, "a side wheeler, was built, to reopen 
this trade, by Capt. Joel Walp, of Kingston, who likewise commanded her. En- 
gines of sixty horsepower were installed in this vessel and her passenger capacity 
was rated at four hundred. Captain Walp also placed in service a small stern- 
wheel craft named the "Pusher." In the Spring of 1886, two smaller boats, the 
"Plymouth" and "Mayflower" were rebuilt for the Wilkes-Barre and Nanticoke 
route, by William Jenkins, vSr. and his son of the same name. Each of these 
was rated as one hundred twenty-five passenger capacity. In 1889, the "Glen 


Mary" from Owego entered the local trade for a season. But the de\elopment 
of traction lines and the appearance of a new danger to navigation in a by- 
product of the mines had their ciTect. In the eighties, the bed of the Xanticoke 
pool began noticibly to fill with culm, much as coral reefs make their appearance 
along tropical coasts. Channel uncertainties thus added to the rixerman's 
trials. The final trip of the "Wilkes-Barre" occurred in the Fall of 1S87. vShe found 
a haven in the old canal outlet above Nanticoke where, for manv vears, she was 
a prey to weather and flood. The "Mayflower" sank in 1894, and nf) vestige 

Ste.amb().\t Laxding 

at present remains of the last fleet that had contributed to the development of 
the Wyoming \'alley. 

Just as the stage coach was to give place to the canal packet and it, in 
turn, to lose prestige through the spectacular efforts of the swiftly moving loco- 
motive, so was the fleet of small carriers which landed their passengers at the 
dock below the almost forgotten Wyoming Valley Hotel at Wilkes-Barre to 
feel the influence of an easier and swifter mode of travel in the appearance of 
electrically propelled traction cars which passed the doors of those who must 
needs fare forth. 

The story of transportation is, indeed, the story of development of America. 
That story, as this Chapter has intended to describe, was likewise written 
indelibly upon pages of Wvoming's historv. 



Where Susquehanna, journeying to the main, 
Wyoming's fertile fields divides in twain. 
Lies a small village, little known to fame, 
From Wilkes and Barre that derives its name. 

Returning thence, upon a little height, 

A public school house rises to the sight; 

"And here fond memory deUghts to trace," 

The various friends who've fiU'd the master's place. 

If worth and excellence consist in these — 

A mind informed — and well disposed to please, 

A friendly heart — with every virtue warm. 

Of gentle manners, and a pleasing form, 

Then s thou hast to excellence a claim, 

Which thy excessive modesty'U disclaim — 
Friend G-n-h next assumed the master's rule 
And swayed the birchen scepter of the school. 
His mind's a diamond of the brightest hue. 
That shines with judgment — cuts and sparkles too. 

Extracts from a poetical description of the Academy by an 

ananymous writer, published iv the Luzerne Federalist, May 9, 1806 

It has been held by many who have written of the earher history of Wyo- 
ming, that the turning point in affairs of Wilkes-Barre became apparent about 
the year 1830. The present writer is in agreement with this view. Its history, 
as earlier Chapters of this record have disclosed, was peculiar in the annals of 
America. But physically, as well as from a civic standpoint, the borough of 
Wilkes-Barre, in 1830, differed in small degree from other borough county seats 
of Pennsylvania or elsewhere. 

That the prospects of the community were bright, none doubted. Hazard's 


Register, of May 1, 1830, (V-288) shared this sentiment. "\Vvoiniu,i^ \'allev is 
fast exciting interest abroad" said this widely read journal, "and we mav safch- 
assume is now verging towards that rank she is destined to hold in the scale with 
other flourishing districts. New buildings are going uj) in wirious directions and 
business of every kind is increasing." 

But a controlling fundamental of sound business was lacking. ( )f I)anking 
facilities in all the northeast section there were none. The I'nited States had 
but a limited coinage of gold at this period and, of this, only a small percentage 
was in actual circulation. vSilver was more plentiful, but dilhcult to transport 
by stage from outlying districts to centers of supply. The bills of banks in Phila- 
delphia and Easton were in local demand for larger transactions involving cash, 
but these fluctuated in value from time to time. Tlie sustaining influences of 
a bank, backed by local capital and under comnumity superxision, were sorely 

In 1810, as has been mentioned in a previous Chapter, the Philadelphia 
Bank anticipated this need in opening a branch at Wilkes-Barre. 

In 1814, the legislature authorized the Susquehanna Bank to be capitalized 
in the district of Luzerne County, but due to unsettled conditions following the 
capture and destruction of the seat of government, in that year, local capital 
could not be induced to finance the undertaking. 

The Philadelphia branch bank continued in operation until 1820. Then, 
to preserve its parent organization intact through a period of exceptional finan- 
cial stress, the Wilkes-Barre branch was abandoned. For a period of almost ten 
years, the community was to be without any form of a financial institution. 

^Meanwhile, however, enterprising residents of the community had not 
given up hopes of a bank of their own. Early in 1829 these hopes, quickened by 
various commercial activities, crystallized into action. 

The Pennsylvania Legislature enacted on March 30, 1829, that William 
Ross, John N. Conyngham and Isaac Bowman of Wilkes-Barre, Henderson 
Gaylord of Plymouth, and William Swetland of Kingston Township, be "ap- 
pointed commissioners to carry into effect from and after May 4, 1829, the 
establishment of a bank to be called and known as 'The Wyoming Bank at Wilkes- 
barre,' agreeably to an Act passed May 21, 1814, regulating banks." 

Under the date of Mav 5, 1829, these commissioners advertised in tlu' 
newspapers of Wilkes-Barre that, "for receiving subscriptions for the stock 
of the proposed bank, a book would be opened June 8, 1829, at the Court House 
in Wilkesbarre, and kept there for six days." Agree- 
alily to this notice a subscription-book was opened 
bv the commissioners at the time and place fixed. 

Under the law, the capital stock of the bank was 
to consist of three thousand shares, of the par value 
of S50.00 each— being a total of $150,000.00, and the 
sum of $5.00 was required to be paid in on each share 
when subscribed for. 

On the first day that the subscription-book for 
Wyoming Bank stock was opened, the small number 
of only fortv-two shares was subscribed. 

Under the date of June 17, 1829, the commissioners ])reviously mentioned 
advertised in the newspapers of Wilkes-Barre that, "in order to alTord the in- 


habitants of the county an opportunity to subscribe" for stock in the projected 
bank, one or more of the commissioners would "attend," on certain days men- 
tioned, at nine different places from Tunkhannock on the north to Berwick on 
the south. 

Finally, by October 30, 1829, the required complement of shares was sub- 
scribed for, and a charter for the proposed bank was issued to the subscribers 
in due form of law. At the same time, notice was given to the stockholders to 
meet at the Court house in Wilkes-Barre, on Saturday, November 14, 1829, 
between the hours of ten A. M. and three P. M., to choose thirteen of their 
number to be directors of the bank. The election resulted in the choice of the 
following-named persons: William Ross, Benjamin Dorrance, George M. 
Hollenback, John N. Conyngham, William Swetland, Henderson Gaylord, 
James Nesbitt, J. Zibias Bennett, Steuben Butler, Abraham Miller, Thomas 
Horton, Ortrus Collins, and John D. Stark. 

The board met in the building formerly occupied by the Philadelphia 
Branch Bank, where it was duly organized by the election of Col. Benjamin 
Dorrance, as President and Ziba Bennett*, as vSecretary. Messrs. Collins, 
Hollenback and Bennett 
were appointed a com- 
mittee to devise a set of 
forms for the notes, or 
bills, to be issued by the 
bank; and also to ascer- 
tain the probable espense 
of engraving the plates 
therefor, Messrs. Thomas, 
Butler and Conyngham. 
were appointed a com- 
mittee to make inquiries 
relative to the procuring 
of a suitable building in 
which to conduct the 
business of the bank. 

At a meeting of 
the Board of Directors, 
held on November 18th, 
the committee on bank- 
notes reported that they 
had arranged with Messrs. 
Fairman, Draper, Under- 
wood & Co., of Philadel- 
phia, to furnish the bank 
with fifteen hundred 
notes aggregating $60,- 
000.00, in denominations 
of $5, $10, and S20. 

*ZiBA Bennett was bom in Weston. Connecticut. November 10. 1800, the fourth child of Piatt and IVIartha 
(Wheeler) Bennett. .\t the age of fourteen years he became a clerk in the branch store of Col. Matthias Hollenback 
at Elmira, X. Y.. whence, in 1815, he came to Wilkes-Barre, where he was employed for a number of years thereafter 
in the main Hollenback store, on South Main Street. In 1822 he became a partner of George M. Hollenback in the 
general mercantile business conducted in the building at the corner of River and Market Streets. In 1826 he began 
business for himself on North Main Street, near Public Square, and soon became one of the leading merchants of Wyo- 

The Hox. Ziba Bennett 


Messrs. J. N. Conyngham, G. M. llolk-uback and Stcubcu Butk-r. of 
the Board of Directors, having been appointed "to receive proposals for a Cashier" 
for the bank, were, on December 10. 1829, directed to take with them to Phila- 
delphia $6,000.00 in cash, in the form of bills of various banks, received from 
Wyoming Bank stockholders on account of their stock subscriptions, of which 
amount the sum of $1,000.00 was to be deposited in one of the Philadelphia 
banks to the credit of the Wyoming Bank and the remainder was to be laid out 
in the purchase of specie for the use of the home bank. 

At a meeting of the Board of Directors, held December 19, 1S29, a letter 
was received from Mr. Conyngham, at Philadelphia, relative to the empkn meat 
of a Cashier for the bank; whereupon the following was adopted: 

"Resolved, That the proposal of Edward Lynchf of Philadelphia, to be- 
come Cashier of this institution at a salary of $600 per annum be accepted, com- 
mencing January 1, 1830. The bank will pay him a gratuity of fifty dollars to 
defray the expenses of his removal liere." 

At this same meeting it was voted, with respect to the banknotes to be 
prepared for and issued by the bank, that the head of George Washington be 
put on the twenty-dollar bills, and the head of Robert Morris on the ten-dollar 
bills; and that on ah the bills "the word Wilkes-Barre be spelled with a capital 
'B,' and a mark over the final 'K' to point out its pronunciation." 


Reduced photo-reproduction of a ten-dollar lull .laUil X..\ 1. 18.56. hearing the portrait of George M 
Hollenback. President, and the signatures of Edward Lynch. Vice President, and Edward S. Loop, Cashier 

The bills issued by the bank were drawn payable to the order of George 
Wolf, the then Governor of Pennsylvania. Five-dollar bills, as well as "tens" 
and "twenties," were originally issued, but no "ones" or "twos." At a later 
period bills of the denominations of $50 and $100 were also issued. 

ming Valley. He was engaged in business continuously at the location mentioned, alone, and in partnership with others, 
until the date of his death. 

Mr. Bennett was, however, at the same time interested and concerned in many other important enterprises. He 
was one of the founders of The Wyoming Bank, was its first Secretary, and served as a Director, in that institution 
and its successor, continuously until his death. He was for some years President of the Wilkes-Barre Bridge Company, 
and also of the Hollenback Cemetery Association. He was also, for some years, a Director of the Wilkes-Barre Gas 
Company, the Wilkes-Barre Water'Companv. the Miners' Savings Bank, and the Home for Friendless Children. 
For many years he was Superintendent of the Sunday School of the First, or Franklin Street. Methodist Episcopal 
Church, 'in 1833 Mr. Bennett was one of the Representatives from Luzerne County in the Pennsylvania Legislature, 
and Feb. 21 , 1842, he was appointed and commissioned an Associate Judge of the Courts of Luzerne County. In 1862 
he founded, and was senior member of the banking-house of Bennett, Phelps & Co., which transacted a general banking 
business in Wilkes-Barre until 1879. 

Judge Bennett was twice married: First. Nov. 26, 1824. to Hannah Fell Slocum (born .Xpril 16, 1802; died Feb. 
5, 1855); second, Nov. 18, 1856, to Priscilla E. Lee. Judge Bennett died at his home on North Main Street Nov. 4, 1878. 

tEDWARD Lynch was bom in Philadelphia. March 2, 1 785. For a number of years prior to coming to Wilkes-Barre. 
he was employed as a clerk in the Bank of the United States, at Philadelphia. With his wife and three sons he removed 
to Wilkes-Barre in the latter part of December, 1829. He died here. January 18, 1804, in the seventy-ninth year of 
his age. 


The Board of Directors voted, on January 1, 1830, to purchase for $1,500,00 
the house and lot owned by Zurah Smith, and situated on the west side of South 
Franklin Street, a short distance below vSt. Stephens' Episcopal Church; and a 
committee was appointed to attend to having the building put in proper condition 
for use as a banking house. 

I The Original Wyoming Bank Building 

' It stood on the site of the present Westmoreland Club 

This building was an ordinary two-story frame dwelling house, and it 
was converted into a banking house by setting up in the front room, or parlor, 
on the ground floor, two or three desks and a plain wooden counter. A brick 
vault, closed by a door of boiler iron furnished with a common tumbler-lock was 
erected in the banking room. The adjoining dining room was used by the Direc- 
tors, for their weekly meetings, even after the Cashier and his family had taken 
up their residence in the living rooms of the house. 

On Monday, February 1, 1830, The Wyoming Bank was formally opened 
for the transaction of business, and two days later the Board of Directors met 
and proceeded to discount notes offered for that purpose, to the amount of $3,000.00. 

vSome six months later a statement of the bank's affairs submitted to its 
board, disclosed that the bank had taken a firm grasp upon the financial affairs 
of its community and was in a flourishing condition. 

The figures submitted on August 11, 1830, follow: 

" Dr. To stock, $29,940.00 

" discounts, 1,591.27 

" notes in circulation, 44,295.00 

" amount due depositors, 41,073.96 

" profit and loss, 8.74 $1 16,908.97 

" Cr. By bills and notes discounted S62,083.08 

" real estate, 1,500.00 

" expenses, 1,365.9,^ 

" specie, 1 8,048.90 

" foreign notes 8,000.00 

" Philadelphia Bank 25.911.06 $116,908 97" 


On November 1, 1830, the welcome news was disseminated that a dividend 
of three per cent had been declared on stock ontstandin.-j; and from that date to tlie 
present no semi-annnal dividend, in substantial anioinii, has been omittid by the 
institution. At the annual election of directors held at the Court house on Novem- 
ber 22nd of the same year, Col. Benjamin Dorrance and William Ross declined 
re-election. This election resulted in the choice of the following named : ( -arrick 
Mallery, Wilham Svvetland, George M. Hollenback, John X. Conyngham, Hen- 
derson Gaylord, James Nesbitt, Jr., Ziba Bennett, Steul)en Butler, Abraham 
Thomas, Miller Horton, Oristus Collins, John L. Butler and Jolm I). vStark. The 
Board was immediately organized by the election of Garrick Mallery,* I{s(|., as 
President, and Ziba Bennett as Secretarv. 

Upon the removal of Judge Mallery* from \\'ilkes-Barrc\ Colonel Dorrance 
was on May 18, 1831, again called to the board and re-elected President of the 
bank. A year later, Colonel Dorrance again resigned, whereupon (k*orge M. 
Hollenback was named president of the institution, a position lie honorai)lv 
and capably filled until his death in 1866. 

In 1833, President Hollenback proposed to the directors that he would 
erect a building adjacent to his house more suitable than the first bankitig (|uar- 
ters to accommodate -a rapidly increasing business. 

The proposal having been accepted, the annex illustrated in a cut re- 

*Garrick Mallery was born at 
Middlebury. Litchfield County, Con- • . , . , , ^ 

necticut. .^pril 17, 1784. Having been ' 

graduated at Yale College in 1808 he 
came immediately to Wilkes- Barre, to 
assume the principalship of the Wilkes- 
Barre Academy. This position he held 
until June, 1810, when he resigned and 
took up the study of law. He was ad- 
mitted to the Bar of Luzerne County, 
-August 8, 1811, and forthwith entered 
upon the practise of his profession in 
the courts of Luzerne and contiguous 
counties. Within a few years thereafter 
he achieved a reputation throughout 
North-eastern Pennsylvania as a law- 
yer of great ability and industry. 

In 1826, and a,gain in 1827, 1828 
and 1829 Mr. Mallery was elected a 
Representative from Luzerne County 
to the Pennsylvania Legislature. In 
1828 and 1829 he was Burgess of Wilkes- 
Barre. In January, 1 S?,0, he was offered 
by Governor Wolf the office of President 
Judge of the 12th Judicial District of 
Pennsylvania, composed of the counties 
of Dauphin, Lebanon and vSchuylkill, 
but he declined the appointment. 
However, in Alay, 1831, he accepted 
an appointment to the President Judge- 
ship of the 3d Judicial District, com- 
prising the counties of Northampton, 
Lehigh and Berk>. Whereupon he re- 
moved from Wilkes-Barre to Reading. 
(Later he took up his residence at 

In March, 1836, Judge Mallery 
resigned from the Bench and removed 
with his family to Philadelphia, where 
he returned to the practise of law. He 
soon became one of the mo.t disting- 
uished practitioners at the Bar. In 1840 

he received the honorary degree of LL. D. from Lafayette College 
fuly 6, 1866. 

The Hon. G.\krick M.m.i.ickv, I,L. I). 

Judge Mallery du-d at his honu- in l'liilad<-!phi 


produced herewith was erected and occupied by the bank from January, 1834, 
until the erection, in 1860, of its own building at the southwest corner of Market 
and FrankHn streets. In 1893, this building in turn was found inadequate to 
accommodate the business of the bank. By acquiring additional land and re- 

Hollenback Building on the Site of Present Coal Exchange Building 
The Wyoming Bank Annex shows to right 

modeling as well as adding to the older structure, the facilities of the institution 
were largely extended. 

In 1912, with its resources increased to nearly $3,500,000.00, Wilkes- 
Barre's oldest bank felt the need of again expanding its services. 

Three years later, the bank having removed to temporary quarters during 
the process of building, its present dignified structure on the same site was com- 
pleted and business resumed therein. 

It is not the intention of this History to more than outline the growth of 
financial institutions which have contributed in no small measure to the pros- 
perity of the Wyoming Valley. The Wyoming, a;s the community's first local 
banking enterprise, comes in for a relatively greater mention. 

It survived, in what is now nearly a century of existence, many vicis- 
situdes of the business world. In common with other banks and for the protec- 
tion of its own depositors it suspended specie payments for brief periods. But 
at no time was its credit impaired or its soundness questioned. Re-chartered 
in 1850, at the expiration of its original charter, it remained a state bank until 
1865, when upon vote of its stockholders, and in compliance with national laws, 
it gained its present title of the Wyoming National Bank. 

Preceding it in point of becoming a national institution were the First 
National Bank, organized June 1, 1863 and the vSecond National Bank, organized 
September 19, 1863.* 

*The following sketch of the Second National Bank was prepared for this volume by Sheldon Evans, historian 
of that institution: 

During the year 1862 it became apparent that, if this government were to emerge victorious from the Civil War, 
all the available resources of the Nation must be used. The Covemment was hampered in all its financial operations 
by the lack of a stable currency and a satisfactory basis of credit. President Lincoln in his message of January 17, 1863, 

. 1915 

The capital stock of the Wyoming remained the same from its date of 
original charter until the year 1922. Finding most of this stock in the hands of 
estates of earlier holders, and desiring to infuse new blood into its activities, 
the bank, in that year, increased its capital to $500,000.00. 

Of this increase, the sitm of $150,000.00 par value of new stock was divided 
in the form of a dividend of one hundred per cent to old stockholders and 
a further amount of $200,000.00 par value of stock sold to new subscribers at 
S130.00 per share. This reorganization left the bank with a surplus of $800,000.00, 
in addition to its capital stock of half a million, and offered a wider scope than 
ever before for the bank to measure up to community needs. 

The new bank in its earlier activities lent its .stabihzing influence to the 
community in more ways than one, in a period of rapid expansion. Its notes 
w^ere accepted at par by the Commonwealth and maintained at par in all eastern 
cities. This enabled the traveller, the business visitor and many others who came 
to Wyoming, either in connection with the canal or with a thought of speculating 

urged Congress to adopt the National Banking Act. which provided for a currency based upon the pledge and credit 
of the Government. On February 25, 1863, this act became a law and by the prompt organization of National Banks 
throughout the North, the people were able to come to the aid of the Government by buying its bonds and sustaining 
its credit. As a result the Government was enabled to prosecute the War with renewed vigor and the Union was pre- 

On the 19th of September 1863. a group of men met in the Office of Messrs. Hoyt and Loveland, lawyers in the 
citv of Wilkes-Barre, and signed the .Articles of Association and subscribed for the stock of the Second National Bank 
of Wilkes-Barre, Pa. 

The'^e signers and subscribers were: Thomas F. Atherton. Abram Nesbitt. Charles Parrish, Samuel Hoyt. Lazarus 
D. Shoemaker, Benjamin F. Pfouts, M. L. Everitt, George Coray, Wm. C. Reynolds, John Sharps, Jr., .Abram H. Rey- 
nolds, Isaac Everitt and William S. Ross. 

The bank was chartered and on December 3, 1863 was opened for business, being the 1 04th organized under the 
act of Congress. 

Thomas F. .\therton and M. L. Everitt were elected President and Cashier respectively. The first board of direc- 
tors consisted of the following: Thomas F. .\therton, George Coray, M. L. Everitt, Samuel Hoyt, .Abram Nesbitt. 
-A. H. Reynolds and John Sharps. Jr. These men were favorably known throughout the valley for their integrity and 
responsibility, and the institution immediately won the confidence of the public and started auspiciously on its success- 
ful career. 

The bank began business in what was then known as the Chahoon Building, on West Market Street, in the room 
now occupied by Jordan & Son. 

In 1864 larger quarters were secured in the Anthracite Building of J. W. Hollenback on West Market Street near 
River. These quarters were occupied until May, 1870. From that time until February 29, 1908 the bank occupied 
the building on the Northwest comer of Franklin and Market Streets, now occupied by the Dime Deposit Bank On 
February 29, 1908 the bank moved into its present home on the Northeast comer of Franklin and Market Streets. 
The Second National Bank was capitalized at SIOO.OOO at the time of its organization. This was increased to 
5200,000 in December 1863. On June 31, 1864 the capital was increased to 5400,000. 

On July 2, 1868 a further increase of S50.000 and on October 16. 1906 another increase of $50,000 was made. In 
1922 the capital was increased to 51,000,000 and the surplus to 52,000.000. 

On January 1 , 1865, Walter G. Sterhng. who had been conducting the business of a private banker on West Market 
Street was elected Vice-President of the bank and his business was taken over. 

On February 1, 1917. under authority granted by the Federal Reserve Act, the Second National Bank organized 
and established a Trust Department. On October 1. 1922 the bank opened to the public a thoroughly modern and 
spacious Safe Deposit Department with every facility for the safe-keeping of valuables. 

The Second National Bank came into existence during the dark days of the Civil War. It has made progress 
during the periods of prosperity which have come since the war; it has aided every legitimate business enterprise that 
has called for its help in times of prosperity and depression; and it has come through every period of financial disaster 

Officers and their respective terms of service: 
Thomas F. Atherton, President, 1863-1870 Abram Nesbitt, President, 1878-1920 

L D. Shoemaker. " 1870-1878 Abram G. Nesbitt, " 1920-1925 

M L. Everitt, Cashier, 1863-1872 Walter E. Lewis, " 1925- 

E. A. Spalding, " 1872-1882 E. W. Mulligan, Cashier, 1882-1919 

W. G. Steding, Vice-President, 1865-1870 W. E. Lewis, " 1919-1925 

Hendrick B. Wright, " ' 1870-1871 Thos. H. Atherton, Vice-President, 1900-1923 

Richard F Walsh, " " 1878-1903 Edwin H. Jones, " " 1908-1908 

F. M Kirby. " " 1908-1914 

Present List of Officers and Directors. 
Walter E. Lewis, President E. B Mulligan, Vice-President and Cashier 

H. B. Schooley, Chairman of the Board Sheldon Evans, .Assistant Cashier 

W. T. Payne, Vice President James Mulligan, Trust Officer 

.Allan P. Kirby, Vice-President 
A. C. Campbell James L. Morris .Allan P. Kirby 

John Flanagan .A. D. Shonk S T Nicholson 

P. F. O'Neill F. J. Weckesser John B \'aughn 

Geo. M. Wall Samuel H. Huber, Vice-President 

(»rowth of the Bank 
Capital Surplus Undivided Profits Deposits 

December 3. 1863 $ 100.000.00 S 11,783.64 

Tanuary. 1874 510,000 00 298,724.81 

January. 1884 575.000.00 564.931.32 

Tanuary. 1894 625.000.00 1,349.033.47 

January. 1904 3,375.991.34 

Tanuar>-. 1914 1,500,000.00 5,173,066.80 

Tanuary. 1924 3,400,000.00 10,194.364.66 

Tanuary, 1928 3,941,163.00 13,203,378.00 


in coal lands, to obtain an order on his home bank for funds to be delivered upon 
his arrival at Wilkes-Barre. It otherwise simplified what would today be con- 
sidered a crude and complex method of commercial negotiations. With its 
finances established, one of the pressing needs of the community, as it looked 
forward from the vantage point of the year 1830, was more taverns to accom- 
modate' the increasing flow of visitors to whom new modes of transportation 
permitted a more comfortable access to the valley. Wilkes-Barre's earliest 
taverns have been described in preceding chapters. They were all small struc- 
tures, generally built for private residences rather than for public entertainment, 
and adapted to the latter use only through force of circumstances. 

The inn of John Hollenback, on South River street, and the Arndt tavern 
near it as well as the public house of John Paul vSchott on North Main street 
and the ferry tavern of Abel Yarington have all received mention. The Fell 
tavern, larger in size and better suited to its purpose than most of the others 
was, nevertheless, of limited capacity. 

In 1830, the old red Hollenback tavern and the ferry house were no longer 
in use as hostleries. In their stead other taverns, whose names are strange to 
the generation of today, had sprung up and seemed to be doing a thriving business. 
In 1803, Isaac Carpenter announced that he had opened a public house "at the 
Sign of General Washington, a few rods north of the Court house." Two years 
later, Jonathan Hancock gave notice that he intended to "keep a House of Enter- 
tainment at the Sign of the Free Mason's Coat of Arms." It was formerly the 
vSchott Tavern. 

At this point begins a great difficulty in distinguishing an old tavern under 
a new name, and a new venture into the business. For some reason, not readily 
understood, our earlier tavern keepers, after a few years of open house, would 
sell their business to a newcomer and would later appear as taverners at some 
other stand. Sometimes the original name would adhere to the old house. At 
other times, it would be transferred to the new abode of the public caterer. 

Thus it is that we find vSilas Jackson mentioned in 1808 as keeping the old 
Hancock tavern, and a year later an announcement that "Jonathan Hancock 
has reopened his Tavern at his old stand." Col. Eliphalet Buckeley appears 
about the same time to have acquired the Carpenter stand. For many years 
thereafter he continued in business there. 

In the Susquehanna Democrat of August 12, 1812, the following appears: 

"The subscriber informs the pubhc that he has opened a house of Entertainment on the 
East side of Pubhc Square, in the borough of Wilkesbarre, Sign of the Farmer and Mechanic, 
where he hopes by keeping a good assortment of hquors and other refreshments, to merit and 
receive a portion of the Pubhc Calls. 

"Peter Gallagher." 

No further mention of this tavern can be found among records of the 
period. From what can be gathered, it probably stood on the site of the American 
Hotel, mentioned later. 

In 1814, Arnold Colt had returned to Wilkes-Barre and reopened, under 
the name of the Colt Tavern, a former inn which, for a time had been run by 
Abel Yarington. This stood on South River street near the bridge entrance and 
was later to become the site of the Phoenix and Wyoming Valley hotels. 


In 1818, the Arndt tavern came to be known as the "Washington" but was, 
of course, a dififerent establishment from the house "at the vSign of George Wash- 

Then and up to the passage of the Volstead act, tavern keepers had the 
exclusive right to serve liquid refreshments by the drink. All the early merchants 
of Wilkes-Barre, wholesale and retail, almost without exception dealt in spirits 
in package lots. It was doubtless true then of the name tavern, as it afterwards 
and in not many years became true of the name hotel, that a large percentage 
of public houses offered little by way of entertainment to frequenters other than 
in liquid form. 

In each case the law compelled them to state that they were provided 
to take care of the travelling public before a license to dispose beverages was 
forthcoming. One of the original licenses of the Commonwealth in this par- 
ticular was granted to John Paul Schott, in 1789, a copy of which appears among 
the Pickering Papers, L\'III-188, as follows: 

"Original Tavern License. 

"By the Supreme Executive 
(Seal) Coiuicil of the Commonwealth 

"Thomas IMifflin of Penna. 

"Whereas John Paul Schott hath been recommended to us as a sober and fit person to keep 
a house of entertainment; and being requested to grant him a license for the same, WE DO hereby 
license and allow the said John Paul Schott to keep a Public House in the township of Wilkes- 
barre, for selling of Wine, Rum, Brandy, Beer, Ale, Cyder and all other spiritous liquors in the 
house where he now dwells, in said Wilkesbarre and in no other place in the said township, until 
the fifth day of March next, Provided he shall not at any time during the said Term suffer any 
drunkeness, unlawful Gaming, or any other disorders, but in all things observe and practice all 
laws and ordinances of this Government, to his said employment relating. 

"Given under the Seal of the Commonwealth, the 1st day of September in the Year of Our 
Lord 1789. 


"Ch.\rles BiddlE, Sec'y." 

Indeed, the age of which we write w^as one of notable intemperance. Whiskey 
was almost universally consumed at public functions and in private life. This 
intemperance upon more than one occasion furnished a theme in describing con- 
ditions at Wyoming. Gambling, also, went more or less unchecked. In 1840, 
the first temperance wave which swept the country was instituted in Baltimore. 
To Wilkes-Barre in that year came the Rev. Thomas P. Hunt, an emissary of 
the Washingtonians, as the temperance society was called, with a result that many 
men, whose names have been frequently mentioned in these pages, took the 
pledge. The next year he was followed by an evangelist, the Rev. Daniel Baker, 
a Presbyterian clergyman , who sent to church many prominent men of the 
community who had previously been little inclined toward religion. 

But notwithstanding these reformative measures, taverns in Wilkes-Barre, 
at least, increased rapidly. The first mention of the White Swan tavern appears 
in print in 1822. It was then kept by Aechippus Parrish, on the site of the present 
Fort Durkee hotel. The name of this hostlery was changed upon opening the 
canal to the Packet Boat Hotel. 

The canal likewise brought places for public entertainment, largely for 
boatmen, along its route. Two of these, well known in Wilkes-Barre in the 
canal period, were the Hibernian on North Main street, kept b\- Paul Dunn, 
and the North Branch, on Canal street, kept by Peter Ciroghan. 


In 1839 it was announced that vS. H. Puterbaugh, whose activities as a 
taverner appear more frequently in print than those of any other early Wilkes- 
Barrean, had taken "the 
Packet Boat Hotel and 
has put the establish- 
ment in good order under 
the name of the White 
Swan." The name hotel, 
as distinguished from the 

word inn or tavern, was ■ ,^S 

first applied in Wilkes- 
Barre to what in its time 

was the most commod- ^ v^ 

ious house of public con- ^ ^^ 

venience then in exist- 

In 1820, George M. 
Hollenback* completed, 
at the corner of River and 
Market street where now 
stands the Hollenback 
Coal Exchange, the most 
pretentious private build- 
ing of the Borough. It 
was used as his dwelling 
house and offices. Later 
an annex was constructed, 
as has been shown, to 
house the Wyoming bank. 

His lot, upon which stood The Hon. George M. Hollenback 

a small building known as the Colt tavern, extended well to the south of the 
annex. Public spirit, more than the hope of reward, led him to coriiplete, in 

1831, the Phoenix Hotel, on this site: 

" 'The new hotel, now finishhig,' states the Advocate, April 29, 1831, 'to which the public 
are indebted to the liberal enterprise of G. M. Hollenback, Esq. will be a splendid establishment 
— large and commodious, eligible in design, and neat in execution. — Wilkesbarre from its position, 
in the centre of the Anthracite Coal region — in the heart of this rich and beautiful valley — seems 
destined to be a place of extensive business, as it is a delightful location for gentlemen of ease and 
fortune, who delight in the chase of the red deer, or love to throw the speckled trout from the 
mountain stream.' " 

Maj. Orlando Porter was the first manager of the new enterprise. He 
was succeeded in 1837 by Capt. William H. Alexander who, in turn, gave place 
to P. McCormick Gilchrist, all famous hotel men of the time. 

♦George Matron Hollenback was born at Wilkes-Barre August 11, 1791, the only son of Colonel and 
Judge Matthias Hollenback and his wife Sarah (Burrill) Hollenback of Wilkes-Barre. He began his business career 
in the mercantile establishment of his father on South Main vStreet, Wilkes-Barre, first as a clerk and later as a partner. 
In 1818 he began the erection of a three-story brick building at the south-east corner of River and Market Streets. 
It comprised a large store-room and counting-room and a dwelling, was completed early in 1820. and was for some years 
the largest and most imposing private building in Wilkes-Barre. Upon its completion Mr. Hollenback established his 
home in the residence part of the building, while he occupied the remainder of the building with a mercantile business 
which soon became, and continued to be for a number of years thereafter, the leading business of its kind in Wyoming 

Upon the death of Col. Matthias Hollenback in February, 1829, George M. Hollenback mhented from him a 
large fortune, and succeeded to many of the business pursuits in which the former had been engaged for a long time 
In January, 1819. George M. Hollenback was appointed Treasurer of Luzerne County. At that time he was a member 
of the "Wyoming Guards" (commanded by Capt. John L. Butler) of the Pennsylvania Militia. A few years later he 
succeeded to the captaincy of this company, and a number of years subsequently attained the rank of Lieut. Colonel 
in the militia of the State. In 1824, and again in 1825, he was elected one of the three Representatives from Luzerne 
County to the Pennsylvania Legislature. In 1840 he was a Presidential Elector on the Van Buren and Johnson ticket. 
He died at Wilkes-Barre November 7, 1866, in the seventy-sixth year of his age. 


In the thirties, few wrote or spoke of Wilkes-Barre witliout mention of 
deUcacies, especially oysters, served by vSam Wright.* He had mastered the art 
of southern cooker>' and first established himself "on the Meeting House side 
of the Public Square where persons wishing beer or any article in the cake or 
bread line can always be accommodated." 

An adept, hkewise, at blending drinks, "Wright's Imperial Beverage" 
which, according to advertisements seems to have possessed a claret base, re- 
ceived gratifying recommendations. Three .years later he opened a branch in 
the basement of the Phoenix Hotel as the following announcement in the Herald 
will substantiate: 

"All Hail! Lovers of high flavored and well dressed Oysters. 

"Both Fryed and Stewed, Are requested to call at my old stand on the west side of the Public 
Square or at my New Oyster Establishment in the cellar of Alaj. O. Porters Hotel, on River 
Street, where they will find oysters as well as other refreshments, served up at short notice. 

"Samuel Wright." 

"Samuel Wright, by day and by night, 
Will serve up fine oysters you know; 
I have them on hand and move at command 
On the square and at Porters below. 
If you call for a heart, or even a tart, 
I'll furnish them both if you please; 
Mince pies, I have too, or Plumb Pudding in lieu 
As well as dried beef and good cheese." 

The apphcation of the word hotel, as applied to the Phoenix was not without 
loss of the romantic names of earlier hostleries. It will be recalled that the Arndt 
tavern was "at the Sign of the Ship" and the Fell tavern, the only name of a 

Phoenix Hotel 

lengthy list still to survive, was "at the Sign of the Buck." I'sually the signs 
were upheld by tall uprights erected in front of the premises. Xot infrequently, 
however, these signs swung from neighboring trees. It may be left to the imagin- 
ation as to the character of the sign of the Red Lion hotel which, in 1838, was 
kept by George Kocher, Jr., on Market street "a few doors from the bridge." 
An advertisement of the Red Lion in the same year indicates that the "New 
Eagle and Accommodation Line" of stages started from this stand "daily for 
Philadelphia via Hazleton, Beaver Meadows and Mauch Chunk." Doubtless 

*01d Sam Wright at his unpretentious bake shop on the Public Square dispensed cake and beer to both ureat and 
small. We see him now, with his ebony face and portly mien, always pleasant, always ready to wait on those who 
frequented his place, and when a surcessful student at law had passed his examination it was customary for him to 
give the examining committee a supper at Sam's which feast was usually presided over by Squire Dyer. "Reminiscences' 
by Samuel P. Lynch. 


a significant emblem overhung mail coaches of the "Berwick, Northumberland 
and Harrisburg Line" advertised to leave the White Swan in March, 1839. 
Then came the Black Horse hotel of 1840 on the south side of Public Square, 
a rival in name and fame of the White Horse Hotel, of West Market street. 
In the year 1880, James A. Gordon wrote from memory the following 
"Reminiscences of the White Horse Hotel" which became better known to a later 
generation as the Courtright House: 

"My first recollection of this locality is as early as 1806 or 7. Anderson Dana was then 
the owner. He lived at the corner of Franklin and Market streets, in a small one story house 
owned by Parthenia Gordon. On the adjoining lot toward the river, was Geo. Chahoon's carpenter 
shop. From this point there was not a single building until you reached Jacob and Jos. Sinton's 
store and dwelling on the site of the present Music Hall; nor was there any up to 1815. In the 
Spring of that year Benj. Drake erected a blacksmith shop, with a store house in front, on the 
lot now occupied by the Courtright Block, where he carried on blacksmithing and a store in 
connection with Henry Courtright, a son of Cornelius Courtright, Esq., and uncle to the present 
proprietor. The store, however, was of brief duration, and gave place to a millinery establish- 
ment conducted by Miss Nancy Eley, who afterwards became Mrs. Nancy Drake. At what 
particular date the premises were converted into a house of entertainment for travelers it is 
difficult to state, but certainly not before 1824, and probably not until 1830; and it is quite as 
uncertain who was the first landlord. * * * j have come to the conclusion that Geo. P. 
Steele was the hangman of the then young 'White Horse.' He was at that time a young man 
from Hanover, just married to a member of the Chrisman family. About 1833 or 4 he became 
proprietor of the old red tavern on the corner of Main street and the Public Square, now the 
Luzerne House. Who Mr. Steele's immediate successor was I am unable to state. Among those 
who followed him, however, I remember James Conner, Thos. Hutchins, James H. Phinney and 

"About this time Jesse Dilley and Cornelius Courtright became the owners of the property 
and subsequently Dilley sold his interest to Courtright and it has remained in the family from 
that time to the present. 

"In 1840-41, Geo. Kocher took charge of the house. During his term it was the stage house 
for the northern mail routes from Wilkes-Barre. He was succeeded by Henry Petit from Sugar- 
loaf, Pa. He was an active and intelligent young whig 
of the Henry Clay pattern, and during the Clay and Fre- 
linghuysen campaign in 1844 his house was headquarters 
for the Whig party of Luzerne County. Here the 
Clay and Frelinghuysen clubs held their meetings. 
Here Amos Sisty, Chas. Bennet, Judge Taylor, Samuel 
Lewis, Dr. John Smith, Thos. F. Atherton, Walter 
Sterling and others were wont to congregate and work 
in the interest of the Kentucky statesman. Amos 
Sisty furnished the poetry, and Walter Sterling. Judge 
Taylor, and Sylvanius Heermans led the singing. The 
glee club was always on hand to entertain. * * * 

"On the opposite side of the street, on the corner 
of the Alley, (Fazer) and within ten feet of H. B. 
Wright's office, we raised a pole one hundred and 
twenty feet in height; and at the raising we had a mass 
meeting from all northern Pennsylvania, which for 
numbers and respectability has never been surpassed 
in Wilkes-Barre. On that occasion landlord Petit 
erected a platform in front of the hotel, on a level with 
the 2nd floor, for the accommodation of the glee clubs 
in attendance. * * * Among the notables who 
figured conspicuously at the White Horse during this 
campaign was Mayor John Swift of Philadelphia, 
accompanied by a glee club from that city, and Jos. R. 
Chandler, editor of the North American. Mayor Swift 
spoke from the White Horse platform and Chandler 
addressed the citizens of Plymouth. Chandler re- 
mained in Wilkes-Barre several days, and delivered 
one of his best lectures in the Presbyterian church to a tt j ■ ^u tj -r ^ n ,, • „ 

,j, .1-^ x-AjTi- >+** Used in the Harnson-Tyler Campaign — 1840 

crowded house on Domestic Affections. 

"Before Henry Petit came to the 'White Horse' he kept the 'Black Horse' on the corner of 
W. Market street and Public Square, and subsequently he returned to his old quarters and was 
succeeded at the 'White Horse' by Wm. Beisel. 

"The raising of the pole was conducted by a young bricklayer named Parker. The flag 
used on this pole was 45 x 75. It is still in existence, and is in the possession of Wm. H. Butler." 

In 1828, the first mention appears of the Dennis Hotel, when a dancing 
school was advertised to be conducted in the "long room" of that hostlery. 




In 1844, this hotel stood at the corner of Market and Franklin streets, 
"at the Sign of the Heart," and was still conducted by Col. Jacob J. Dennis, 
for whom it was named. Several stage advertisements of the period vouch for 
its popularity. 

In 1849 this became known as the Eagle Hotel, Col. H. B. Hillman then 
being proprietor. The building was destroyed by the disastrous tire of 1S67 
and later became the site of the first home of the vSecond National bank. It 
might be stated, in passing, that fire had much to do with the rebuilding of manv 
taverns of an earlier day. On July 19, 1848, the White Swan was partiallv 
destroyed by fire and the next night, its neighbor, the Black Horse, was also badly 
damaged by the same element, fatalities being fortunately avoided in both cases. 

In 1854, the White vSwan again took fire and this time was totally destroved. 
In 1855 proprietor Puterbaugh, apparently undismayed by his loss, announced 
the completion of the Exchange Hotel, a three story brick, on the site of "mv 
White vSwan Hotel, burned last spring." 

In 1851, George P. Steele, a hotel man of varied experience, laid plans 
for the largest hotel venture of the community's earlier history. In 1837, he 
had succeeded Messrs Carpenter and Hancock as taverner of the small hotel 
at the corner of North Main and 
the vSquare which then bore the 
name of the Pennsylvania Arms 

Mr. Steele changed this 
name to the Pennsylvania Hotel 
and continued in occupation 
until his election as Sheriff of 
Luzerne County, in 1841. It was 
then leased for a time to Jacob 
Bertels, in whose regime it was 
headquarters for the stage line 
using the Easton and Wilkes- 
Barre turnpike. 

Later, the lease was pur- 
chased by Capt. B. F. Welles, 
who then, and until a later 
period operated the packet boat 
Northumberland from Wilkes- 
Barre to the town of that name, 
making three trips per week. 

As one of the most popular and dependable men of his time, Mr. Steele 
was able to secure the finances necessary for the erection of a commodious struc- 
ture, and on March 24, 1852, he completed, on the site of The Pennsylvania, 
a four storv brick hotel, sumptuously furnished for its time, which was thrown 
open to guests. With its name afterward changed to the Luzerne House and 
under different proprietors, man}' readers of this account \vill remember it as 
it stood until 1895, when it gave place to the present modern Bennett building. 

Another hotel of considerable fame in the fifties and later, was the American 
House, built on the Square, on the site of the present Clobe store. 

It was erected bv George F. vSlocum, later owned by his estate. ( )f sul)- 
stantial three storv brick construction, it was rated, together witli the Phociiix 

1 1I B B IJ i! 

* 11 li ii 

hT [•:!•; I. 



and vSteele's, as among the three excellent hotels of the community, until the 
building of the pretentious Wyoming Valley Hotel, on the site of the Phoenix, 
in 1865. The name American was later changed to the Bristol House, by which 
it will be familiar to many readers. 

While the Wyoming Valley Hotel cannot be classed as one of the early 
hostelries of Wilkes-Barre, its mention recalls the fact that it became known for 
its hospitality and entertainment more widely, perhaps, in its prime, than any 
public house of the Commonwealth. Its site, overlooking the river and the com- 
mon, was invariably a matter of remark. It proved in a sense, a community 
center. Its cuisine was a matter of delight and its bar a pleasant memory. 
Around its tables were negotiated many deals for coal properties which later 
changed the character of a great industry. With it as an objective over the week 
end, travelling men shaped their schedules and theatrical people their routings. 
Among its guests were registered the great and famous of the country. In the 
attached cut of the hotel and its grounds, reproduced from a photograph taken 
in 1873, may be found some well known residents, among them the Hon. Henry 
A. Fuller, engaged in an innocent game of croquet. As further reference will 

Wyoming Valley Hotel 

be made to the community's most famous hotel which became a memory by 
the erection of the handsome office structure of the Lehigh and Wilkes-Barre 
Coal Company on its site in 1909, and mention also made at a later period of 
the few new hotels which have followed it in service, the record will be resumed 
of general events which were coincident with a remarkable constructive period 
of Wyoming's history. 

The business affairs of the community have thus far been touched upon 
in this constructive period. On the civic side, things dragged miserably. In the 


category of members of council of the borough of Wilkes-Barre may be foimd 
some of the most distinguished names of the growing municipahty. But even 
these men, apparently keen in their own business or profession, lagged in 
tugging at the harness of public services. 

It requires but an illustration of the beginnings ui a lire tlepartment for 
the Borough, and drawn from its minutes, to bear out this fact. In 1806, when 
the Borough was erected not a single building within its limits was constructed 
of any material other than wood. 

Among the first things to occupy the attention of council, therefore, was 
the question of how best to protect the town from fire. The first action taken 
was at a special meeting, called for this purpose March 31, 1807. There were 
present Matthias Hollenback, president pro tern., Nathan Palmer, Charles 
Miner, Arnold Colt, and Samuel Bowman. On motion of Mr. Miner it was 
"Resolved to appoint a committee to obtain information as to the expense of a 
fire engine, and report such other information on the subject of the best means 
to secure the borough from fire as they shall think." 

Messrs. Palmer and Miner were appointed as this committee, but they 
never niade any report, except to ofi"er a resolution which was adopted January 
11, 1808, requiring all householders to provide themselves with fire buckets. 
On the 12th of April, 1808, a committee consisting of councilmen Ebenezer 
Bowman, Jonathan Slocum and John P. Arndt were appointed "to purchase 
the patent right of a water machine for the borough of Wilkes-Barre," and the 
committee reported at a meeting held April 16, 1808, that they had performed 
the duties of their appointment and paid eight dollars for the said rights. 

The fire problem did not long stay solved by the "water machine" for 
we find that on the 16th of August, 1809, on motion of Mr. Sinton, council 
resolved "that a committee be appointed to endeavor to obtain opinion of in- 
habitants of the borough on the propriety of procuring a fire engine, to form 
an estimate of the expense and whether the funds of the corporation are sufficient 
to defray the expense and report to a future meeting of the council." Thomas 
Dyer, Charles Miner and Joseph Sinton were made the committee. This com- 
mittee did not make any report until June 18, 1810, when they delivered them- 
selves as follows: "That they have considered the subject submitted to them 
and are of opinion that it is expedient to have an engine procured." 

At the same meeting Councilmen John P. Arndt and George Cahoon were 
appointed as committee "to bring in a bill in conformity with above report." 
At the same meeting Mr. Arndt, in behalf of committee, brought in a 
bill entitled "An act for appropriating a sum of money to purchase an engine," 
which on being read, passed, to be read a second time at next meeting, which was 
to be held on Saturday following. 

At the next meeting nothing was done with this resolution, nor was any 
action ever taken on it afterwards. After these efforts the council rested from 
its labors for nearly three years. 

On Tuesday evening, IMarch 16, 1813, Council met; Present, Jesse Fell, 
President, and members Arndt, Bowman, Cahoon, Drake, Robinson and Sinton, 
A petition was presented by Ebenezer Bowman in behalf of himself and 
others, stating "that they had viewed with concern the danger to which the 
buildings in the borough are exposed from fire and lament that no further pre- 
cautions have been taken to guard against the ravages of that destructive ele- 


ment and expressing a wish that the council would take such measures as may 
be thought necessary to procure without delay a fire engine for the use of said 

The council then went into a Committee of the Whole on the above 
petition. After discussing the same, the committee arose and reported, "that 
it is expedient immediately to procure an engine." 

It was also resolved to appoint a committee of two "To procure an engine 
as soon as the funds of the borough shall be sufficient to meet the expense." 
It was also at the same time resolved, "that the sum of $700 be appropriated 
for that purpose." 

This committee pursued the same do-nothing course of its predecessors 
for more than a year, when at a meeting of the new Council, held May 9, 1814, 
it was resolved "that the com.mittee, consisting of Mr. Arndt and Mr. Sinton, 
appointed by a former Council, on the subject of fire engine, be continued, and 
to report the best method of supplying it with water." 

This committee was never afterward heard of, by report, or otherwise. 

This failure, following the many like results to like efforts, was so dis- 
couraging that nothing more was done in the matter for three years next fol- 

In the meantime, there seemed to grow up a conviction that something 
more than resolutions and committees would be necessary to secure the fire en- 
gine. The proposition to assess the borough for this purpose was unpopular so 
long as there was a hope of making other people do it. There was the county 
treasury, with everybody's money in it, how could it be reached? 

The Council resolved to invoke the aid of a petition to the Court, which 

was presented at the August session, 1817, in the following language: 

"The petition of Garrick Mallery and other members of the Town Council of the Borough 
of Wilkes-Barre and other inhabitants of the County of Luzerne would most respectfully represent 
that from the increase of wooden buildings in the Borough of Wilkes-Barre the destruction by 
fire has become very frequent and the danger therefrom very alarming to all property within 
the borough, and the publick, as well as the individual interest, requires some more effectual 
means of preventing with ravaging fire (sic). In the opinion of your petitioners this object can 
only be aflFected by procuring a fire engine with appropriate apparatus, the expense of which 
would probably amount to seven or eight hundred dollars, and inasmuch as the county and all 
individuals therein are interested in the preservation of the publick property as well as that of 
the individuals. Your petitioners therefore pray your honors to lay the matter before the grand 
jury of the county, and if they and the court shall think proper, they may grant some assistance 
from the funds of the county to aid the purposes aforesaid." 

This petition was laid before the grand jury, and they made report as follows : 
"The grand jury in taking into consideration the importance of the subject of the within 
petition cannot at the same time forget the present pecuniary embarrassment of the inhabitants 
of the county still feel a disposition to afford some aid, notwithstanding the pressure for money 
upon the treasury, for so laudable an object, do therefore recommend to court to aj^propriate 
the .sum of two hundred dollars for the object under consideration. 

"Cornelius Courtright, Foreman." 

This recommendation was approved by the court as follows: "The Court 
concur with the grand jury and recommend the commissioners to pay the sum 
of two hundred dollars in assisting to purchase a fire engine for the borough of 
Wilkes-Barre, when the council make the said purchase." 

On the 7th of October following Council directed its then president, Thomas 
Burnside, "to address a letter to John B. Wallace, Esq., requesting him to as- 
certain at what price a fire engine could be procured and the terms of payment 
in the city of Philadelphia." 

At the meeting of October 29, 1817, the president laid before the Council 
"a communication received from John B. Wallace, Esq.," after which it was 


resolved "that Messrs. Mallery and Maflfet be appointed a committee to call 
on the county commissioners and obtain from them a draft on the treasurer of 
the county for the amount of the appropriation made by the Grand |urv of 
August term towards purchasini; a tire engine. Also on the treasurer and liii^di 
constable of the borough and ascertain of them what sum of mone}- thev can 
procure in two weeks belonging to the corporation." 

At the next meeting Oct. 31, 1817, it was resolved "that the president 
be requested to inform Ebenezer Bowman, Esq., treasurer of the corporation 
to retain in hand the money that he may receive from Oliver Helme,* as the 
same being pledged towards purchasing a lire engine." 

Nothing more was done in relation to this fire engine until March 7th, 
1818, when the Council resolved that the check drawn by the County Commis- 
sioners of Luzerne for two hundred dollars be deposited in the liands of Kbenezer 
Bowman, Esq., treasurer of the Corporation, on account of a pavment for a fire 

Also resolved that Messrs. Beaumont and I'lp be appointed a committee 
"to contract with John Harris or some suitable person to haul the fire engine 
from Philadelphia." 

At meeting of April 18, 1818, it was "Resolved that Messrs. Dennis, I'lp 
and Beaumont be appointed a committee to cause to be built and prepared a 
suitable building to receive and preserve the fire engine and appendages belong- 
ing to the same on the back of the academy lot if the trustees of the academy 
will admit thereof." 

Also "Resolved that an order be drawn in favor of Perkins (S: Co., for t.hree 
hundred dollars on account of the fire engine and delivered to the treasurer 
who has advanced the said sum."t 

These records indicate that eleven years had elapsed before Wilkes-Barre 
was rewarded with an "engine" in the Spring of 1818. Having reached Wilkes- 
Barre, as may be found by an item of $34.48 "for hauling the engine from Phila- 
delphia" approved at the May meeting of Council, the Davy Crockett, by which 
name the first fire fighting apparatus of Wyoming was known, was found to 
be a pump originally constructed for the purpose of wetting down the canvass 
of a sailing vessel during periods of calm. 

No record of Council indicates where it was housed and no regularly 
organized fire company appears to have been ready to man it upon arrival. 
Six months elapsed when an impatient contributor to the Herald of November 6, 
1818, must have stirred the community to action. The pointed inquiry is as 
follows : 

"Mr. Butler — Almost every mail brings an account of the destruction of jjropcrty by 
fire How soon a similar calamity may happen here is very uncertain, and yet do we not act 
as if there was no danger i* We have, it is true, a Fire Engine, but what is very strange no Fire 
Company, as in other towns. 

"If a fire should break out would not the engine be nearly useless without a Company to 
manage it, keep order, form lanes, point out the best means of obtaining a supply of water? 
As the season is approaching when the danger from fire is the greatest, I hope this business will 
be no longer neglected, — and for this purpose I request you will call a meeting of the inhabitants 
of the Borough at 2 o'clock P. M. on vSaturday next, the 21st inst., at the Court House. 

"A Housekeei^er." 

Acting upon this suggestion, editor Butler took it upon himself to call 
"a meeting on vSaturday next at 2 P. M., at the Court House." 

*Oliver Helme was lessee of the ferry franchise for one year from the 1st of .April, 1817, at 5 US per year. 
tThere is no record of any additional sum ever having been paid for this engine, thouj^h in the petition to the 
Grand Jury it was represented that it would cost ' with appropriate apparatus about seven or eijcht hundred dollars." 


Reportorial mention of the meeting is lacking in a subsequent issue of 
the publication, but two weeks later on November 26, 1819, the following ap- 
peared, as evidencing an outcome : 

"A meeting of the Wyoming Fire Co. will be held at the house of A. Parrish, on Saturday 
the 4th day of Dec. at 3 o'clock P. M. A punctual attendance is requested, as on that day the 
Co. will be organized, or in failure thereof be dissolved. 

"Saml. Maffet, Captain." 

No records of the original Wyoming Fire Company are extant insofar 

as a search of the present writer discloses. Minutes of the Borough refer from 

time to time to the organization but make no mention of the names of its members. 

Two of such members, however, are disclosed by the following communication 

addressed to Council at its last meeting in 1819: 

"To the President and members of the Town Council of the Borough of Wilkes-Barre: 
The undersigned have been appointed a committee on behalf of the Wyoming Fire Company to 
confer with the Town Council on the subject of the more effectual organization of said company, 
and are instructed to make the following representations: 

"1st, That to render the engine of service in case of fire it is necessary that an additional 
quantity of hose be procured, and which the company are of themselves unable to furnish, where- 
fore, they respectfully solicit the Town Council to procure from forty to sixty feet of good sub- 
stantial hose, made of harness leather. 

"2d, We solicit the Town Council to procure one long ladder, say 40 to 45 feet, and one 
other ladder sufhcient to mount the roof of any common building. These with the ladders to 
be furnished by the citizens will be sufficient 

"3d, We request the Town Council to procure at least twenty-five fire buckets for the use 
of the engine, to be deposited at the engine house, either by a deposit of that number by the 
citizens, or in such other way as the council may think proper. 

"4th, We request to Town Council to appoint four active and discreet citizens to act as 
fire wardens, whose duty it shall be in case of fire to act in concert with the fire company in directing 
a supply of water and in such other measures as may be found necessary. 

"5th, We request the Town Council to procure one or more fire hooks, one of which to be 
thirty or thirty-five feet and the other twenty or twenty-five feet in length. 

"Samuel Maffet, | Committee" 
George Chahoon, ( 

After hearing this report Council resolved "to procure the hose, ladders, 
buckets and fire hooks as prayed for, and Gen. William S. Ross, Col. Isaac Bow- 
man, Joseph vSinton and Judge David Scott were appointed fire wardens. 

Another decade was to elapse before additional fire protection was pro- 
vided the Borough. In the interim, two wells were dug on the Square, one by 
the county near its court house building, the other by the borough near the 
market house, a rambhng frame building on the West Market street side. 

The interest of the Wyoming Company appears to have lagged in the year 
1824, as an announcement was made in the Democrat of April 30th, of the neces- 
sity of a meeting of citizens for the organization of a new fire company. This 
was called the Wilkes-Barre Fire Company, its notices of meetings being first 
signed by S. D. I^ewis as Secretary and later by Ziba Bennett, in the same capa- 
city. Ebenezei- Bowman, Col. Henry F. Lamb and Daniel CoUins were named 
a Committee on Membership in the organization. Not until 1830, however, 
does the matter of organization in connection with fire fighting seem to have been 
taken seriously. In February of that year the tavern of Aechippus Parrish 
was destroyed. In his case, as in other similar cases of the time, the neighbors 
expressed their sympathy for his losses in taking up a collection for his benefit. 
No insurance companies then made such compensation as called for in their 
poHcies, or demanded of the municipality such protection as would soften their 

Roused to action, the Council once again apf)ealed to the County for a 
contribution toward the purchase of a newer and better engine. The sum of 

was thereupon recommended by a grand inquest and approved by the court 


then consistint^ of David Scott, President, Jesse P'^ell and William .S. Ross, Associ- 

After waiting:: a year, the l)orouj;h on Au<;:ust 6. 1S31, added the sum of 
5250 to the county appropriation. Following; considerable correspondence with 
John Jordan of Philadelphia, a barji^ain was struck to purchase an "en,g;ine known 
as the Reliance for the sum of $500, and 200 additional feet of hose to match the 
engine for Si 00." 

Sometime late in November, 1831, the Reliance, Wvoming's second piece 
of fire apparatus, seems to have reached Wilkes- Barre as on December ,^rd of 
that year council engaged in a lengthy controversy over the freight bill for trans- 
porting the "engine." In a description of "Wilkes-Barre in 1841," H. B. Plumb, 
an early historian of the community, gives the following word picture of the 
Reliance ; 

"The engine had four low wheels about eighteen inches or two feet in diameter with a box 
or body intended to hold water and a water tower three or four feet square and six or eight inches 
high standing up in the middle of it to hold the pump and nozzle four feet or so long on the top 
of the tower. The pump was worked by four Ijrake handles, two at each end, the lower handles 
were worked by men standing on the ground and facing the engine. The other two handles were 
higher up and the men had their backs to the engine. I think some six men could get hold of 
each handle. The engine was painted red and striped with gold leaf and made a big display, 
and all the small boys in town wanted to get around where they could see that engine work. 
Then they had a lot of leather buckets to carry water to pour into the box of the engine. While 
there was water in the box it would throw out a good stream but there was no suction hose to 
the engine. This engine was kei:)t locked up in the old market house. The market house must 
have been sixty feet long with an ordinary house roof on it, and the gable end on the west end was 
ornamented and painted white." 

The arrival of the Reliance brought on the usual councilmanic discussions 
as to a proper housing place for the machine. Finallv, on April 7, 1832, Gilbert 
Barnes was authorized payment on a claim of Sll.QO'i "for enclosing a part of 
tlie market hotise for the reception of the engine." 

With the exception of frequent discussions as to combining a "set of scales 

and engine house" no other event of importance to early fire department history 

seems to have developed until the council meeting of vSeptember 26, 1834, when 

a committee consisting of Hugh Fell, A. C. Laning and W. vS. Bowman submitted 

the following resolution which was immediately adopted: 

"Whereas, the Reliance Fire Company have delivered the small engine to the Town Council 
and a petition has been presented by a number of young gentlemen who are desirous that the 
Council shall place said small engine in their hands. Therefore, resolved that the small engine 
"Davy Crocket," be placed under the immediate control of a director selected by said young 
men from among the members of the Reliance Fire Company, who in case of fire shall be subject 
ti> the general control of the directors of the Reliance Fire Company." 

It was not until the year 1837 that any further constrtictive measures 
were taken by Council in connection with the fire department. ( )n June 2d 
of that year a committee consisting of H. B. Wright, W. S. Ross and Htigh Fell 
introduced a resolution to erect a fire house on a vacant lot belonging to George 
M. Ho-llenback "on Franklin street near Market, to be 16 feet in width and 24 
feet in depth."* Prior to introducing the resolution, the committee had inter- 
viewed Mr. HoUenback, obtaining his permission for the use of the ground 
without cost to Council "until such time as he may want to appropriate the land 
for the purposes of building himself." 

Appropriations for the building totaled Si 2 1.83. When completed it 
housed the Reliance engine and became headquarters for the fire company of 
that name. 

Thus far but two pieces of fire apparatus were in possession of Wilkes-Barre. 

*This lot was on North Franklin street and afterwards became the property of Ziha Bennett 


In reading histories of the fire department, usually carelessly penned, one is 
often misled into believing that more than that number of "engines" were in 
possession of the community. What has given rise to confusion is the fact 
that names of the machines were changed to fit the appellations of newly organ- 
ized volunteer companies which were to man them. 

It can readily be understood that volunteer companies of the early days 
were loosely organized, that fires were infrequent and, when occurring, brought 
out practically the entire population of the community eager to lend a hand 
under direction of someone in authority. The day of the modern small town 
volunteer department, and of substantial fire houses where rooms to be used for 
social purposes often provide a sort of community center, was yet to come. The 
names of many prominent women of the community were linked with the rosters 
and fortunes of companies of the time. 

The following, from Miss Edith Brower's "Little Old Wilkes-Barre as 
I Knew It," is reminiscent of a day when firemen and firewomen rivaled each 
other at conflagrations : 

"My two aunts, Laura (Miss Laura Brower) and Ellen, (Mrs. Winfield S. Parsons) along 
with every woman in town who possessed what we now call the civic spirit, belonged to the tire 
department. The department was wholly voluntary; even the men who pumped the funny little 
hand engine, named 'The Good Will,' gave their services under combined sentiments of altruism 
and self-preservation. 'The Good Will' had been bought at second-hand in Philadelphia in 
1849. This information comes from the present No. 2 Fire Company. It must have been a good 
engine, for it lasted us for twenty years. From my earliest days I can remember how my aunts 
went to bed nightly, with special clothing laid out ready beside them, things easy to get into, 
that they might at the first alarm of fire rush forth to help. Those horrible fire alarms! Nothing 
else could ever awaken me. Every bell in town jangled, every human who could roar, bellow, or 
screech, did his utmost in his special line. Aunt Laura and Mrs. Sarah Day (daughter of Mr. 
William Hibler of South Wilkes-Barre) were the Lady Generals at fires. It was my aunt's office 
to gather and organize inside helpers, instructing them not to carry feather beds down stairs and 
throw crockery out the windows; in a word, while keeping her own head level — a task natural 
to her — ■ to see to it that the others kept theirs. 

"Mrs. Day's part was the outside work of forming lines to pass buckets to and from the 
nearest pump. The pumpers, in case of a prolonged fire, must be very frequently relieved. Fancy 
the agonizing slowness of drawing up from great depth a gallon or two of water at a time! Again, 
fancy even attempting to put out a well-advanced conflagration by such means! The drop of 
water that Lazarus begged for to cool his tongue would have been quite as effective. Everybody 
owned fire-buckets of leather, hung in the handiest place. We had two, extra size, always sus- 
pended from the slanting ceiling above our back stairs. 

"Mrs. Day, after finding her weU-pump, would impress every willing bystander into service. 
Two lines there must be, one for full and one for empty buckets. Sometimes these lines reached 
a long distance. At a fire that is quite vivid in my recollection, which broke out in the middle of 
the north side of the Square, the nearest available water was brought from North Main street, 
about where the Posten offices now are. Possibly what helped me to remember this occasion was 
that Mrs. Day, catching a man in the act of crossing over from the full to the empty side, threw 
the contents of the next full bucket that came along over this Viad citizen, like the 'captain cour- 
ageous' that she was." 

Interest taken in the volunteer companies varied, with the number and 
destructive tendency of fires. The year 1843 recorded an unusual number of 
small fires, whereupon the Neptune Fire Company came into existence early 
the following year. On January 18, 1844, council delegated the "Davy Crockett" 
to the care of this organization and the name of the machine was thereupon 
changed to the "Neptune." A new building being proposed on the Bennett 
lot, the fire house which had been erected there was ordered disposed of to the 
highest bidder and both the "Rehance" and the newly christened "Neptune" 
machines were thereupon housed in t.he market house. 

Thus matters continued until Wilkes-Barre's first really serious fires 


occurred in succession on the 15th, 16t)i and 17th of July, 184S.* 

This series of fires, all originating in the neighborhood of the jail, were 
supposed to have been of incendiary origin with a purpose in \iew of reaching 

Davy Crockett, Later The Neptune 
Wilkcs-Barre's First Fire Engine 

the jail and releasing James Cadden, then held for the murder of Daniel Gilligan, 
who was waylaid and killed in Hanover Township. 

Cadden was afterwards found guilty of murder at the August term of 
court and sentenced to death by Judge Conyngham. His execution on March 2, 
1849, was the first hanging under the laws of Pennsylvania in Luzerne County. 

The whole community was in such commotion following these fires, that 

*"My first recollection of fire matters of Wilkes-Barre is the spring of 1848. The old Reliance (built by Patrick 
Lyons of Philadelphia) and the little Neptune (afterwards named Wyoming) stood in a small building on North Frank- 
lin street now occupied by Mrs. P. L. Bennett's residence. There were a few sections of old leather hose, but no hose 
carriage. Neither machine was built to raise water and when a fire occurred (which was a rare thing) the men of the 
town formed a line and passed the buckets of water from some pump near by. The four mostly used were one opposite 
the Exchange Hotel, one in front of the old jail on ICast Market street, the old red pump in Slocum alley and one that 
stood in the middle of Washington street just below Northampton street. The women formed a line also, passing back 
the empty buckets. Kvery property holder almost had a pair of leather buckets made for the purpose marked with 
their names, and when the fire was out the buckets were thrown on a pile until daylight (if at night), when they would 
be returned to the proper owners. 

"The first fire I remember was the summer of '48, the old Black Horse tavern on the corner of East Market and the 
Square, then kept by Mr. Bacon. Everything was consumed from the old jail to the Slocum House (Brown's book 
store) and a few days afterwards the stables in the rear of the White Swan hotel were destroyed The spring of '49 
the Triton Co was organized by the younger business men. A new suction engine and the old Columbia hose carriage 
of Philadelphia were purchased with a liberal amount of leather hose. These w^ere housed in a brick store house in 
the rear of the residence of Hon. Ziba Bennett, Main street. I recall some of the active members — Charles and Ciould 
Parrish, William and T. S. Hillard, J. P. and W. F. Dennis. M. D., Charles Roth, C. E. Butler, W. L. Conyngham, 
Frank and Samuel Bowman. The little Neptune was manned by boys from 16 to 20 years of age — Bill Freece. .'\ce 
and Jim Williams, Tom and Ben Helms, Joe and Boney' .^nhauser, and I think Col. E. B. Beaumont. 

■'.■\bout Feb 1. '.S9, C. C. Blotz, an old fireman from Easton. Pa., suggested that a meeting be called and the result 
was the formation of the (lood Will Engine Co.. No. 2. with Blotz, foreman; E W. Finch and W. H. Stephens, assis- 
tants. The Protector was organized about the same time, who took the Reliance, thus becoming No. 1. 

"Neptune No. ,? was organized soon after. About this time nothing was thought or talked of liut fire matters, and 
the companies concluded that we must have a parade. A committee was appointed and the companies of Scranton, 
Hyde Park and Pitt^ton were invited to participate. The day set was June 4th. Only a day or so before the event a 
fire broke out in Robert Wilson's store, the site now occupied by Jonas Long's Sons, which burned from the alley 
(Cahoon's) to Steele's hotel (now Bennett block.) No. ^ was undergoing repairs and was all apart. It was hurriedly 
put together and did good service W. G Sterling was chief engineer. Judge Woodward and C.overnor Hoyt assistants. 
From that time until April 9, 1867. we had an occasional fire, but they were trifling until the date mentioned. About 
7 a m. the flames burst out of Burnett's tin shop on West Market street and in about one hour both sides of the street 
were burned from Frazier's to the Wyoming Bank and from Loomis's to the corner of Franklin, and some four or five 
buildings on the latter street below the bank. We did all we could with the water supply we had and no steamers. 
Soon after the town was presented with the No 1 steamer by A. C. Laning and about 1870 the present department 
was organized Many of the volunteers were retained Am glad to say as the population increased the efficiency of 
the department increased, until to-day we have a department no citizen need be ashamed of" From an address of 
Charles B. Metzger, delivered at a firemen's banquet May 16. 1899 Mr. Metzger at that time was the oldest fireman 
then living in Wilkes-Barre. 


Council went on record as offering its first reward for the capture of a law breaker. 
On July 17, 1S48, that body offered the sum of Si 00.00 for the apprehension 
"of the incendiary" but as he was neyer apprehended, the reward was unclaimed. 
Apprehension as to further fires from incendiary or other sources prompted 
representatiye citizens of the community to seek additional apparatus as a 
means of more adequate protection. The borough treasury^ howeyer, was not in 
condition to meet any hea\n^ demand in that direction, hence, in the summer of 
1849, through the media of priyate subscriptions and the proceeds of a community 
ball, a fund was in sight of sufficient size to permit negotiations being opened for 
the purchase in Philadelphia, of the "Triton," with an accompanying hose cart 
named the "Columbia," and 1,000 feet of leather hose. To this fund, the borough 
contributed the sum of Si 00.00 at the council meeting of September 4, 1849. 
To man the new engine, the Triton Fire Company was organized. Reference 
to the appended roster will indicate that the most distinguished citizens of the 
community were members.* 

The Triton, w.hich reached Wilkes- Barre early in the fall of 1849, was con- 
sidered a maryel of efficiency in its time. It was one of the first suction engines 
ever built. The other two machines, which were still continued in active ser- 

The Triton, Later The Good \Vu,i, 
Purchased in Philadelphia in 1849 

vice, merely pumped what water was fed by buckets into the water box. The 
Triton picked up' its own supply of water by a pipe lowered into a convenient 
well. In other words it was a suction machine as well as a "squirter." 

*The following was the roster of the Triton Fire Company in 18.S1-18.S2. 

W. H. Beaumont A. Morse 

Charles Parrish A. D. Shoemaker 

G. M. Harding W. Stookey 

G. H. Roset I. Nasser _^ 

C. Bennet I. Mowery "^ 

J. P. Dennis E.^W. Wandall 

W. H. Butler E.»B. Collings 

E. B. Harvey F, HuUbower 

Arnold C. Lewis 
F. L. Butler 
Charles A. Miner 
Charles Bennett 
Isiah Lewis, Jr. 

D. Mordicai 

E. B. Harvey 
Charles F. Ingham 


Like the other two earher eni^ines, the name of the Triton was changed 
in course of time. When the Good Will Fire Company succeeded the Triton 
company, April 2, 1859, the name of the engine was changed to the "Good Will," 
which appellation it bore until its destruction, in 1912, by tire wJiile stored in 
a wagon shed on the Heights.* 

The Reliance retained its original name, likewise, until 1859, when it was 
transferred to the Protector Fire Company. From that time until it was per- 
mitted to disintegrate it was known as the Protector. No trace of the old ma- 
chine is now in existence. | 

C. F. Ingham 
F. L. Bowman 
I. B. Innes 
C. Fell 
I. W. Eicke 
DA. Fell 
I. M. Butler 
C. Roth 
A. Jackson 
W. S. Hillard 
F. C. Wait 
I. B. Mills 
C. F. Smith 
.\. J. Baldwin 
P. H. Myers 
S. Bowman 
R. Kilman 
I. P. Fell 

G. Groffe 

R. Wilson 

I. C. Hull 

W. H. Cook 

G. Yeide 

R. Cutter 

G. Collings 

Y. M. Luby 

Y. Yotten 

W. Warner 

M. Rester 

E. B. Miner 

W. W. Bidlack 

Wm. S. Conynghain 

E. Bowman Miner 

Henry S. Anhauser 

Garrick M. Harding 

Edward C. Mallery 

*List of officers and members of Good Will Fire Co , Xo. 2 of 


W. G. Sterling, Chief Engineer 
Stanley Woodward, Assistant Engineer 

B. F. Bennett, Fire Warden 

C. C. Plotz, Foreman 
Isaac M. Mask, President 

D. C. Miller, Yice-President 
Isaiah B. George, Treasurer 
R. H. Waters, Secretary 

Thomas H . Leas 

C. Pearce 

I. Augustus Leas 

I. B. Jones 

I. S. Hamilton (^) 

H. Y Frisbie 

Thos. H. Parker 

Henry C. Wilson 

Jacob Bertel 

James M Rutter 

C. L. Roth 

D A. Yarington 

John Behee 

.\. Jackson 

A. D. Gilchrist 

W Bidlack 

J. M Pierce 

Wilkes-Barre, Instituted .April 2d. A U IS.S' 

Jonathan S. Jones, Assistant Secretary 

R. H. Waters. Librarian 

E. W. Finch, 1st .\ssistant Foreman 

John C. Kropp, 2d. Assistant Foreman 

George W Hoover, .\xe Man 

Charles Stegmayer. .\xe Man 

Julius Reufs, Torch Boy 

Roll List 







C. C. Plotz 



R. H. Hay 



C. Buell Metzger 



Ogden Linn 


boat builder 

Joseph H. Everett 



Enos Royer 



A. H. Dennis 



John Linn 


boat builder 

E. W. Finch 



John Zies 


cabinet maker 

A. C. Montanye 



George Reufs 


carriage painter 

J. Henry Root 



Stanley Woodward 



John C. Barney 



\. C. Jones 



J. J. McDormott 



Samuel J. Tonkin 


mechanical engineer 

Frank Souder 



Cornelius Wambold 



Cyrus A Marcv 



Marx Long 



B. M. Mask 



Charles Stegmayer 



Rufus W. Marcy 



Charles M. Cyphers 



John C Kropp 



Samuel Geisinger 



C. B. Stout 



V. R. Urquhart 



Joseph W. Dilley 



D. C. Roberts 


stage proprietor 

W. H. Stephens 



Samuel Emmery 



M. B. Houpt 



John Fritz 



J. H. Jones 



R. H. Waters 



Frederick Fox 



D. C. Miller 


engineer assistant 

H. C. Himer 


marble cutter 

E. S. Dana 


attorney at law 

George Moore 


harness maker 

Cieorge W. Smith 



G. W. Hoover 



Edward Mackin 



Isaiah B George 



John Kropp 



Richard S Perrv 



Jay Campbell 



Daniel W. Perry 



D. C. Connor 



B. F. Bennett 


mechanical engineer 

William L. Butkr 



Jonathan S. Jones 



S. Clapsaddle 


restaurant keeper 

D. F. Groff 



Jonas Long 



Alfred GrofF 


Julius Reufs boy 
n the date of adopting its constitution and by-lav 

torch boy 

{Roster of the 

r Fire Company o 

vs, March 28. 1859: 


N. Reichard 

E A. 


Lewis LeGrand 

W. W. Ellis 

Richard Sprague 








( Ttorge 




.\dam Drusbach 


L Patri 



E. Line; 

Andrew M. Tell 

Hugh Connor 

M. C 





George Scheuer 

George C. Caffey 





J. W. 



P Dennis 

Washington Norton 

Lemuel W. Jone- 

; i. G. W 


Phillip McGuire 

Frederick Scherer .\lfrcd 



IS Culver 

W. A 

. Holmes 

E. B. Miner 

S. H. 




Wm. H 

[. Cook 

Dominick Mc 


G. W 

. Lehmen 

Frank 1 




Christian Barber 

John Shovlin 

Emanuel Edv 



on B Connfir Henry 

M. Hoy 



s Deufenbach 

William French 

H Liekuirlker 


The first machine, the Davy Crockett of 1818, later the Neptune, for- 
tunately survived the vicissitudes of more than a century of use and abuse. 
Today, in a good state of repair and under the name Wyoming, which it gained 
by being transferred to a company of that name in 1865*, Wilkes-Barre's first 
piece of fire apparatus proudly occupies a niche in No. 7 Engine House and 
sometimes makes its appearance in civic parades, when its ropes are manned by 
veterans of the department. 

Even a disastrous conflagration in 1855, when a fire destroyed most of 
the buildings on the east side of the Public Square, including the Exchange 
hotel and the Hillard steam mill, did not stir the community to a point of add- 
ing any equipment to the three pumps above mentioned. 

It did, however, inspire the reorganization of the Neptune Company 
with James M. Rutter as foreman in the winter of 1858.t Early in 1859, still 
another Company, w'ith E. B. Harvey as president and C. C. Plotz, an exper- 
ienced fireman who had removed from Easton to Wilkes-Barre, as foreman, 
was organized. It so happened that there was serious work ahead for each of 
these companies. In November, 1859 occurred the second large conflagration 
in Wilkes-Barre's history. A description of this fire narrated by an eye witness, 
was published in the official program of the vState Firemen's Convention held 
at Wilkes-Barre, October 4-6, 1921, as follows: 

"During the time Mr. Rutter was foreman, the Neptune Company attended all fires 
which occurred, the first fire of importance being the big one of 1859, which started on West 
Market street and swept everything before it clear out to the corner of North Main street and 
Pubhc Square. This fire started in the building owned by John G. Wood and which was occupied 
by a clothing store. This structure was situated next to Cahoon's Hall, formerly occupied by 

Jacob Williams 
Thomas A. Dennis 
Millen Gilchrist 
John Thay 
Wm. Stine 
George Baer 
B. Hillman 
John Conner 

*Roster of Wyoming Hose Company, 
J. C. Bergold 
S. S. Barnes 
A. Betterly 
S. Barnes 
E. Constine 
Wm. Claproth 
J. Eley 
S. Barnes 
A. Clapsaddle 
A Allabach 
E. Allabach 
W. Alden 
G. Dutter 
W. Finch 
E. Everett 
J. Fell 
J. Gray 
S. Gaffney 
J. Houswich 
S. Holmes 
H. Johnson 
I. E. Long 
J. Megennis 
J. Kilmer 
J. Miller 
R. A. Leslie 

Lewis Hay 
D. W. Bennett 
Joseph F. Ceroid 
Charles Roth 
H. B. Dennis 
John P. Fell 
J. B. Denniz 
George L. Ruke 

3. organized August 1st. 

Y. Montamey 

J. W. Patten 

John Prior 

H. Rainow 

E. F. Roth 

I. H. Yeets 

James Rutter 

E. W. Stiles 

El. W Smith 

W. Stetler 

G. Stewart 

J. Williamson 

R. Walker 

E. D. Williams 

J. Weaver 

E. Willits 

D. Purcel 

W. Driesbach 

William Kay 

(t. Habestifrger 

M. Hoffman 

P. B. Carey 

J. Beales 

C. Zahn 

N. Belding 

Andrew Keiser 
John Severns 
Michael Kane 
Francis Whartes 
Phillip Hapersberger 
I.E. Hterley 
Patrick Reilly 

S. Co.\ 

V. Kropp 

F. Ayres 

F. Corkins 

D. Rockafellow 

B. Marshall 
N. Reading 
P. Allabach 
W. Stark 

C. Hartland 
Chancey Root 
N. Y. Sandmeper 
Anthony Bower 
C. Hartland 

J. Neigh 
O. Monnega 
Charles Gable 
Samuel Barton 
George Behee 
A. Roberts 
T. M. Kesler 
J. Anger 
R. Orr 
James Jones 
M. Kidder 

tThe old Neptune company, of which James M. Rutter was foreman, was composed of the following members: 
James M Rutter. foreman; William Swan and Charles D. Hoover, assistant foremen; pipemen, Frank Densmore 
and Sterling R. Catlin; president, H. G. Hillman; secretary and treasurer, E. G. Butler, and members C. P. Hunt, 
Elwood Hunt, Peter Behee, William Keiser, Andrew Kaiser, James Penman, J. W. Kestler, Frank Baab, Philip Rineman. 
John Rineman, J. W. Patton, Frank Corkins, William Ward, John Neuer, Charles Elliott, George Behee, R. F. Roth. 
I. E. Finch, C C. Betterly, James Higgs, Adam Fraley, John Fell. J. L. Lewis, Phillip Killian, Albert Clapsaddle, 
Frank Kline, Anthony Kline, Toney Bauer, Newell Louder, Edward Yarrington, P. Carey, John Jenkins, Bob Russell, 
James Russell, J. F. Kappler, Harry Gilchrist, Thomas Gilchrist, Thomas Taylor, Theodore Brymer, George McCiinnis, 
John Weaver, Charles Fritz, Michael Snyder, Adam Jacobs, Ellis Housenick, William S. McLean, Edward Willitis, 
Jacob Bergold, Chester Monega and Charles Engle. 

.\t the outbreak of the war nearly all of these men enlisted in the Union Array and served various terms. During 
their absence the company was kept up by "Ike" Long, Edward W. Smith, Stewart Barnes, Edward Constine, John 
Bauer, I. M. Teets, John McGinnis and a number of others whose names cannot be recalled. (From State Firemen's 
Convention Program, 1921 ) 


Yordy's printing establishment. Cahoon's Hall, which was one of the few brick buildings in 
the city at that time, had just been completed, and the painters had but a day or two previous 
added the finishing touches. The building was saved after a hard fight, but not until considerable 
damage had been done. 

"At the time this fire broke out old Neptune was lying dismantled in the paint shop of 
George W. Leach on West Market street where now stands the newer addition to the Miners Bank 
building. The building in which Mr. Leach had his paint shop was a two-story frame structure 
and the shop was on the second floor. The Neptune had been taken apart a few days previously 
for the purpose of having it painted. 

"Realizing its value at the fire, Mr. Rutter and William Stevens kicked in the rear door 
leading to the paint shop, rushed up stairs and seizing the wheels threw them out of the window 
and then handed down the brake or lever, with which the pump was worked, to the people on 
the pavement, and lowered the body of the engine with ropes. Descending to the street they 
secured wrenches, put the machine together, and, attaching the hose, soon had a stream of water 
playing on the flames. While Mr. Rutter and Mr. vStevens were putting the machine together, 
the bucket brigade had formed and by the time the hose was attached they were ready to begin 
pouring water in the box; for this fire occurred previous to the introduction of fire hydrants and all 
water at that time was secured from pumps. The nearest pump to the fire at that time was on 
Public Square. 

"During the progress of this fire an incident occurred which, looked at from this date, 
appears quite amusing. Shortly after old Neptune had been gotten to work, the heat from the 
fire became so intense that the buildings on the opposite side of the street began smoking, and 
later the paint shop, in which the machine had been housed, caught and blazed right merrily 
for a few moments. The firemen turned their attention to this building and soon had the fire out. 
The loss by this fire amounted to thousands of dollars as all the buildings on one side of the Square 
were destroyed." 

In spite of frequent petitions to council and of considerable newspaper 
comment on the subject, the community continued to be satisfied with the 

Group of \'oluuteer Members of the Fire Department after the Market Street Fire of 1S67. 
As numbered they are: 
1. James M. Rutter 2. George Behee ,3. Antony Bauer 4. Chester Monnega 5. John McC.innis 

6. Isaac Teets 7. Ernest F. Roth 8 Frank Smith 9. Stuart Barnes 

three antiquated machines until the "great fire" of 1867 made imperative a 
complete reorganization of the system of fighting fires in the growing community 


April 9, 1867, was to prove that the old must give place to new if property was 
to receive sufficient protection. 

The fire started on West Market street, on the roof of Theron Burnet's 
tin shop or the bakery adjoining, at 6:30 in the morning, and it burned until 
long in the afternoon. The buildings consumed extended from the Harvey 
(Morgan) building on North Franklin street around West Market to the alley 
adjoining the old Windsor Hotel, and on the opposite side of Market street 
from the alley ( Fazer) adjoining the Misses Doran's store up the street and around 
South Franklin street to where the Grand Opera House now stands. The Wilkes- 
Barre fire companies, the Good Will, the Reliance and the Wyoming, were as- 
sisted by the Kingston company, and all worked valiantly for hours, but could 
make scarcely an impression on the flames. 

The press, machinery and book bindery of the Record of the Times were 
destroyed with all the stock of paper. 

The Wyoming National Bank building, which was then at its present 
location at the corner of West Market and South Franklin, was left standing, 
while the fire burned all around it. This was due to the fact that the building 
was built of brick and was more substantial than the mass of wooden structures 
that were consumed. 

The list of buildings destroyed was as follows: 

"Charles Lehman, Stock of paints, wall paper and shades, loss $1,700; Patrick Higgins, 
loss S2.200; Theron Burnet, loss $8,500; William P. Miner, loss $5,000; J. C. Jeffries, loss $75; 
E. B. Yordv, printer, loss $400; Estate of Jacob J. Dennis, loss $7,000; Urquhart & Paine, 
loss $2,000;' W. U. Telegraph Co., loss $510; A. R. Brewer, operator, loss $20; L. B. Perrin, 
loss $4,000; C. B. Butler, stock loss $3,500; George L. Haines, furniture, clothing, etc., loss $250; 
O. Trumbower, stock and household furniture, loss $2,000; J. W. Gilchrist, household furniture, 
loss $800; Gilchrist & Son, hvery shed, loss $650; O. Collins, loss $3,000; John Grandon, two 
buildings, loss $2,500; Faser & Smith, loss $125; John Faser, loss $3,300; J, W. Lynde, building 
and stock, loss $500; J. Sturdevant, building and stock, loss $10,000; W. W. Loomis, harness, 
loss S500; Pyle Creveling & Co., loss $3,000; B. M. Stetler, baker and confectioner, loss $1,500; 
James Taylor, baker and confectioner, loss $2,500; C. F. Cook, photographer, loss $1,200; Miss 
Phalla Ransom, dressmaker, loss $100; Miss Kate Patten, milliner, loss $100; S. E. Parsons, Esq., 
loss $300; W. Lee, Jr., loss $2,000; J. M. Courtright, Hotel, loss $3,000; Ziba Bennett, two 
buildings, loss $2,000; D. Mead, barber, loss $600; B. G. Carpenter, loss $250; F. L. Faries, 
hatter, loss $1,600; J. F. Jourdan, jeweler, loss $500; Mrs. Frances Lamb, loss $350; Timothy 
Parker, jeweler, less $300; J. W. Everett, tailor, loss $150." 

It may seem strange, viewed in the light of present municipal affairs, 
that three years .should elapse after the "great fire" of 1867 before any improve- 
ment was noticed in the scope of fire fighting ability of the community. Borough 
affairs, however, were not in shape to consider any large expenditures in this 
direction. The aftermath of the Civil war materially affected finances, both 
public and private. Steam fire engines were not a new contrivance at that time. 
In fact one of the earliest uses to which a heat engine was applied was in pumping 
water. Nor was Wilkes-Barre inifamiliar with what an engine of this classi- 
fication could accomplish. On September 24, 1860, a Boston concern, which manu- 
factured a steamer, brought it to the community for exhibition purposes. The 
municipality was then more concerned with the rumblings of approaching 
internecine strife than with fire protection and the engine was not purchased. 

While the Borough looked with envious eyes upon other municipalities 
which possessed modern equipment and apprehension was general as to fire 
dangers, it remained for a public spirited citizen of the community to arise to the 
occasion. In the spring of 1870, Augustus C. Laning entered into negotiations 
with a Philadelphia manufacturer for the purchase, at his individual expense, 
of a suitable steam engine for the department. In the fall of that year a small 


steamer, bearing the name Mechanic was dehvered and presented to the Borough 
by ]Mr. Laning. 

Council gave the engine over to the care of Protector Company which was 
then largest in point of membership of all the volunteer companies; vStanley 
Woodward being named chief engineer, with T. S. Hillard and Charles B. Metz- 
ger, assistants. On Mav 4, 1871 the form of government of Wilkes-Barre was 

Kari.v Chiefs of the Fire Department 

T. S. Hillard 

Stanley Woodward 

Chas. B. Metzger 

changed from that of borough to city and shortly after the election of a council 
to meet new requirements, plans for the reorganization of the fire department 
were advocated. In 1874 the first step was taken toward converting the old 
volunteer system to a paid department. 

Horses were purchased for the heavier apparatus, the drivers and the 
stokers of engines being at first the only salaried employees. Other members 
of the department were call men, being paid fifty cents per hour for their actual 
services at fires. In the fall of 1874, council authorized the purchase of a second 
and larger steamer. This was named the A. C. Laning in honor of the donor of 
the city's first steam fire engine. Upon its arrival it was used at all fires, the 
Mechanic being held in reserve. 

From that time forth, the history of Wilkes-Barre' s department has been 
one of advancement in point of efficiency and of sufficient increase in equipment 
to meet every emergency. The office of chief engineer, conferred upon Stanley 


Woodward with the arrival of the Mechanic, carried with it the responsibihties of 
chief of the department. 

Upon Mr. Woodward's election to the bench of Luzerne County he re- 
signed January 1, 1880, to be succeeded as chief by Charles B. Metzger, who in 
turn was succeeded by T. S. Hillard. Other chiefs of the department since its 
organization on a paid basis have been: Ernest Roth, George J. Stegmaier, 
George St. John, Joseph G. Schuler and Frank Hochreiter. The administration 
of Chief Schuler is generally credited with having done more than that of any 
other to bring the local department to favorable notice among the smaller 

Two Later Chiefs 

Front seat to left, Joseph G. vSchuler. Chief, 1899-1913. Front seat to right. Frank Hochreiter. Chief, 1913- 

city departments of the country. Named chief in 1899, Mr. vSchuler completely 
reorganized the department in 1903. Under this plan, twenty-nine paid men 
were continuously stationed in the five engine houses then owned by the city. 
To each company, eight call men were attached for active duty, the call men 
being paid a salary of $70 per year in lieu of an hourly fee for services. In the 
latter part of Mr. Schuler's administration, the task began of converting the 
city's apparatus from that of the horse drawn variety to the latest type of motor 
driven equipment. Resigning from the department in 1913 to accept a position 
as councilman under the new commission plan of government for Wilkes-Barre, 
Mr. Schuler has since been in position to lend valuable advice to his successor, 
Chief Hochreiter, under whose administration call men were eliminated from the 
department and a two platoon system composed entirely of paid men was in- 
stituted in 1919. The following year the last of horse drawn equipment was re- 
placed with motorized apparatus. On April 1, 1924, the following modern equip- 
ment, stationed in eight engine houses of the city, was owned by the city: 

"No. 1 Engine House, one eight hundred gallon Ahrens-Fox pumping engine and hose car. 
One Mack combination wagon. One American LaFrance eighty-five foot aerial ladder. One 
Stutz car for chief. 


"No. 2 Engine House, One Stutz triple combination with seven hundred and fifty gallon 
pump. One Mack combination wagon. 

"No. 3 Engine House, one eight hundred gallon Ahrens-Fox pumping engine and hose car. 
One Mack combination wagon. 

"No. 4 Engine House, one eight hundred gallon Ahrens-Fox pumping engine and hose car. 
One Mack combination wagon. One Seagrave fifty-five foot city service truck, (hook and ladder.) 

"No. 5 Engine House, one eight hundred gallon Ahrens-Fox pumping engine and hose car. 
One Mack combination wagon. One Seagrave seventy-five foot aerial ladder. 

"No. 7 Engine House, one nine hundred gallon Nott steam fire engine. One Mack com- 
bination wagon. 

"No. 8 Engine House, one American LaFrance seven hundred gallon pumping engine and 
hose car. One Mack combination wagon. One Pope-Hartford combination in reserve." 

Such indifference as measured councilmanic attention to early fire depart- 
ment affairs was reflected in the attitude of that body towards other borough 
matters. Even a rising tide of optimism which was noticable in the early 30's 
failed to turn attention to civic improvements deemed essential to a growing 
community of today. The streets in season, and frequently out of season, were 
notoriously muddy. Sidewalks meandered where and when the individual 
property owner felt impelled to lay them. No system of sewers, of street 
lighting or of water supply existed. The borough treasury was usually bankrupt. 
The population of Wilkes-Barre had grown from 1206 in 1830 to 1718 in 1840, 
but the latter year witnessed but a slight change in the bearing of either citizens 
or their officers towards the fundamentals of improvement which are a mark 
of permanent progress. 

The appended statement of borough finances for the fiscal year 1841-1842 
will indicate how slim must have been the hopes of those who expected municipal 

Of the amount of Tax levied, amount collected, and 
• THE AMOUNT OF Expenditures, of the Borough 

OF Wilkes-Barre, for the Council year 
OF 1841-2. 


"Expenditures for 
Joshua Miner's Check Roll 
as Street Commissioner, 
Michael Bannin. 
Dennis M'Ewen, 
Edward Ennis. 
jMartin Curry, 
Joseph Henry, 
Martin Bult,' 
John Kelly, 
Harvey Lloyd, 
Alexander Gra^', lumber, 
Sinton, Tracy & Co., spikes, 
J. G. Fell, mending tools, 
Phillips & Flick, spikes, 
J. Miner's salary. 

"Andrew Beaumont's Check 

Roll as Street Commissioner, 
Owen Flannagan, 
Francis M. Govern, 
John Riley, 
James ^Murter, 
William L. Bowman, 
George WooUey, 
Abraham Thomas, 
John Reichard, 
C. Eschelman, 
Bowman & Thomas, 
John G. Fell, 
Henry Colt, 


























!1 6/ 

"The following accounts, contracted under 

previous councils were allowed bv the council 

of 1841-2: 

J. J. Slocum, half vear of 

clerk's salary for 'l 840-1. SIO 00 

J. W. Lynde and others, 
work done on Franklin 
street, in 1840, under 
street commissioner Al- 
exander, 9 87K 

Charles Reel, street comm- 
missioner for 1840, as per 
receipts and vouchers ex- 
hibited — (to be allowed 
in the settlement of his 
duplicate for that year), 77 62 

$97 49K 

























"List of Pavement Certificates is- 
sued DURING the year 1841—2. 
Order, No. 77 Alexander Gray. 395 

feet on Union street, S27 70 

Order, No. 217, George Kocher, Jr.'s 

estate, 352 feet on Market street. 21 12 
Order, No. 213, A. T. M'Clintock, 

520 feet on Northampton street, 31 20 

Order, No. 214, J. G. Fell, 116 feet 

on Market street, 6 96 

Order, No. 215, Luther Kidder, 348 

feet on Market street. 20 80 

Order, No. 216, David Scott's estate, 

414 feet, on Public Square, 24 84 


Henry Pettit, 

N. G. Howe, 

Gilbert Barnes, 

Porter & Colt, 

John Myers, lumber, 

Peter Alabach, 

Jeremiah Smith, 

John C. Smith, 

Richard Bynon, 

George A. Davis. 

Houghton Teeter, 

Andrew Beaumont's salary, 
expenses paid, and ma- 
terials furnished. 


46 38 

Jacob Bertel's Check Roll 

as Street Commissioner, 

William S. Ross, 



A. C. Laning, 



H. B. Wright, 



J. Norser, 



A. Parish, 



J. Bertel's salary, amount 

paid to hands, for materi- 

als furnished, &c.. 



$215 42 

$92 85 

CoUings, Barnum & Co., 

printing ordinance, 
Amos Sisty, 
Ziba Bennett, hauling gravel 

on streets, 
Charles Reel, distributing 

tax notices, 
John Reichard, hauling gravel 

on River street. 
Christian Eschelman, open- 
ing North street through 

Redoubt hill. 
W. W. Loomis, hauling 

gravel on streets, 
J. M. Kiensle, salary for 

ringing 9 o'clock bell, and 

as clerk of the market, 
M. S. Blackman's salary as 
















30 00 

20 00 
6 75 

$501 49 

Order, No. 123, Charles B. Drake, 

622K feet on Main street, 37 50 

Order, No. 118, Nancy S. Drake. 236 

feet on Market street, 14 10 

Order, No. 113, Isaac Wood, 238 feet 

on Market street, 14 28 

Order, No. 128, Lewis & Colt, 238 

feet on Market .street, 14 28 

Order, No. 126, John Dorrance, 800 

feet on Franklin street, 4S 00 

Order, No. 124, Samuel Jones, 71 feet 

on Northampton street, 4 26 

Order, No. 128, Sharp D. Lewis, 224 

feet on Frankhn street, 13 44 

$278 60 


Amount of Tax levied for Borough 
purposes, for the year 1841-2, 

Amount of Taxes collected 
by Reuben J. Fhck, 


Borough Orders, 

Receipts for endorsements 
on pavement certificates, 

Amount of Taxes collected 
by S. S. Winchester, 

Amount due upon duplicate 
of 1841-2. 

$1011 71 









91 47 




To this statement, published in the Republican Farmer and Democratic 
Journal, May 31, 1843, M. S. Blackman, then borough clerk, added the following 
note of apology : 

" It is due to the Town Council of 1841-2, to state — that upon their accession to office they 
found themselves embarrassed with unsettled accounts, contracted under their predecessors; 
funds of the Borough exhausted, from the delinquency of former collectors; and all its affairs ex- 
tremely confused,, from the loose and irregular manner in which the business transactions of the 
Borough had been previously conducted. vSeveral of the Collectors of former years were in arrears; 
the large amount of Pavement Certificates previously issued had provided the means beforehand 
for paying the taxes which they might levy; while there existed an immediate necessity for large 
expenditures in repairing the streets, and in draining the water from the Public Square, which had 
become a serious nuisance. In addition to this, the irresponsible character of the person elected 
High Constable for their year, rendered it imprudent to place the duplicate in his hands for col- 
lection; and it was difficult to procure any other person to undertake the thankless office. They 
were, therefore, obliged to resort to the credit system, and issue Borough Orders, instead of paying 
money, for their expenses. The result was, that a large amount of this species of currency was 
thrown into circulation; imposing upon succeeding councils a necessity for resorting to a similar 
expedient — the effects of which must continue until a more perfect system of administering the 
Borough affairs can be adopted. 

"The items in the foregoing account were paid by orders drawn iii^on the Borough Treasurer; 


the number of the order, the amount, and the number of the bill, being noted in the Minute-Book 
or Journal of the Council, and corresponding with the entry or the marginal note of the Order Book, 
(to which the payers receipt is attached,) and with the bid filed. This is the system which the 
present clerk was compelled to adopt; and imperfect as it is. it was found impossible to reform 
it in the peculiar situation of the Borough affairs, as described above. 

"Attest— M. S. Blackman, Clerk." 

From the above statement, it can readily be surmised that s^reat expecta- 
tions could scarcely be realized from limited funds available. 

T.he total tax levy was, in round figures, $1,000. More than half of this 
amount remained unpaid at the close of t.he year. A large proportion of t.he 
amount carried as collected was in the form of "pavement receipts" bv which 
the borough allowed credit to individual property owners for sidewalks laid at 
the owner's expense. Less than $200 in cash was actually handled by the muni- 
cipality in the whole of a fiscal year. 

Up until the year 1842, boroughs were left to shift for themselves by way 
of methods of assessment and taxation. Local assessors placed what valuations 
they pleased upon taxable objects without any attempt on the part of the state 
to regulate their system. vSo notorious had the evasion of taxes in general 
Ix^come in that period, that by an act of July 27, 1842, the legislature prescribed 
not only w.hat objects must be taxed for municipal, county and state purposes, 
but prescribed penalties for the failure of property owners to make the required 

Pursuant to this act, borough assessors made rettirn on Februarv 10, 1843, 

of the following assessed valuations in Wilkes-Barre: 

' ' Real and Personal Property $508,323 

Trades and Occupations 80,803 

Money at Interest 65,06S 

Pleasure Carriages 4,120 

Furniture 5,210 

Number of Watches 39, \'alue 2,185 

Offices 11750" 

While improvement followed this standardization of levies, it was many 
years before Wilkes-Barre could claim to be on anything like a sound business 
basis with reference to its financial aflfairs. When money was not available, orders 
in the form of script were issued against the day when the treasury might find 
itself in a plethoric condition. 

These orders were peddled about by their unfortunate holders for what 
they might bring, hence it is not surprising that complaint found its way into 
the local press. The Republican Farmer, under date of May 24, 1843, printed 
this contribution to the matter: 

"Mr. Editor. 

"Can you, consistently with your position as public sentinel, inform the tax payers of 
the Borough of Wilkes-Barre, why it is that the orders drawn by the Borough Council on their 
Treasurer, are at such a shameful depreciation' From the amount of taxes, annually imposed, 
one might suppose, that if fairly collected, and properly disbursed these orders ought to be at 
par. and not so grossly dishonored. Do the collectors do their duty? Do they render a strict 
account of the Duplicates or Tax books put into their hands, and pay the money and orders 
over into the hands of the Treasurer in all cases? The people should be called upon to pay no 
more taxes than are indispensible to the public wants — and when taxes are imposed, it is right 
they should understand how the money arising therefrom is applied. I pause for information. 

"One who would like to see the poor man who repairs your streets paid in something that 
would buy him a loaf of bread." 

The same journal, in its issue of Augtist 2d of the same year, carried the 

complaint a step further: 

"We must get rid of the county and borough shinplasters from abroad as soon as jrossible. 
Harrisburg, Lewistown, Lancaster and Carlisle tickets have been circulated very freely here 
from some time past. They are l^srought up by the boatmen and travellers. The general re- 
sumption by the solvent banks, which seems now to be indicated, and the free circulation of specie. 


will soon destroy the credit of this worthless trash. We must send them home, therefore, while 
they have value there Some of the merchants of this place have already declined receiving them; 
if the example is followed, the whole batch goes down. We do not wish any of our people to lose 
on them ; and advise them to send back the tickets by the boatmen, or any body else going down 
the river. They can be put off for a month or two, after that they won't buy dogs, even in the 
places where they are issued." 

In fact, at this period, the same newspaper, under the editorial guidance 
of vSamuel P. ColHns, assumed an aggressive stand as to matters municipal. 
Commencing with its issue of November 21, 1838, and continuing the same 
aggressive editorial policy for many years thereafter, the Republican Farmer and 
Democratic Journal discussed shortcomings of the community with refreshing 
candor. The editorial broadside of that early date is as follows: 

"We understand that at the late November sessions, the Grand Inquest presented the 
Public Square of this Borough, as a public nuisance. Why that body should have distinguished 
the Square as particularly entitled to this judgment, we cannot imagine, as we believe if they had 
occasion to, or by accident had examined beyond its boundaries, they would have found that the 
balance of the town was equally liable to the application of a presentment. We think if that body 
had valued their reputation for impartiality, they should have rendered the same charge against 
every way, bye-way, and strip of public ground in the entire borough. 

"But, will not this public judgment and condemnation by so respectable a body as the 
Grand Inquest for this county, of the manner of keeping and preserving the public grounds of 
this Borough, bring the people to a sense of the indecent appearance these grounds present, if 
not to the inconvenience the people themselves experience from their remaining in such a condition? 
A consideration for their own interests, both private and general, if not an honorable pride should 
have influenced this community to long since remove the 'nuisance' of which the Grand Jury 
complain. For we sincerely believe, that, in addition to the greater health and comfort that would 
be secured to the citizens by a judicious improvement of the public grounds and streets of this 
Borough — its business relations with the surrounding county, and the influx of visitors, would be 
increased sufflcient to early repay the entire expense. The inducements for wealthy individuals 
to select this Borough as their place of residence, would also be much increased. We hope our town 

councils will early take some steps in reference to this matter. The streets of the Borough are 
in the very worst condition they can possibly be. For about seven months in the year, they are 
always in nearly as bad a condition, although we think that this Fall in consequence of a very 
great increase of the business of this place, the streets are worse than usual." 

From this and other sources, it can be inferred that the Public Square 
was anything but a center of civic adornment. Nor, in fact, did it then hold 
its present position as the business center of the community. West Market 
street, convenient to ferry and bridge, was the hub of activity. In 1840, if any- 
thing like zones might have been applied to Wikes-Barre, the borders of the 
Public vSquare would have been classed as the community's manufacturing 
district. The foundry of A. C. Laning, of which mention will later be made 
in connection with early industries of Wyoming, stood on the southerly side of 
the Square. 

The grist mill of Lord Butler occupied a major portion of the space on the 
easterly side between what is now the Fort Durkee hotel and North Main 
street. The municipal hay scales, extending well into the street, faced the mill.* 

*The Wilkes-Barre Leader, under date of June 6, 1893, published the following as to the Public Square hay scales: 

"The hay scales that were removed June 2, 1893 from opposite the store of Lewis Brown, on east side of Public 
Square, were put in place something over fifty years ago by the Messrs. J. L. and L. Butler, who had them placed 
there to accommodate the business of the steam grist mill, which was built somewhere along in the latter part of the 
thirties. The hay scales mentioned as belonging to John P. Arndt in 1810 as being on the Square, were an entirely 
different affair from the modem sCHle just removed. Arndt's scale was fashioned something after a gigantic steelyard 
scale, with a long beam, and machinery to lift the load bodily from the ground. Mr. Arndtleft Wilkes-Barre about 
1820, and settled at Green Bay, Wisconsin. After his removal to the West "Old Michael" occupied the storage house 
formerly belonging to the Arndts, which stood on the river bank about opposite the E. P. Darling residence, and was 
general weighmaster for the town until the Butlers set the .'■cales just removed, which was a great improvement on the 
old style. The .'^rndt scales may have been located on the Square in 1810, but if they were, they did not remain there 
a great while, and they had no feature in common with the ones just removed, and could not have occipued the same 
place, as they required to be operated through a second story door or window. There were no scales on the Square 
at the time the Butlers built their mill on the east side, facing the Square, near where the Exchange Hotel stands. 

"The scales just removed have been operated up to June 2nd, jointly by Lewis Brown and the Hillards, who own 
them. The receipts averaged about a dollar a day, at twenty-five cents a ton, though on some days thirty or forty 
tons came to town. 

"The Leader has unearthed the following with reference to the first scale: 

"The fact is that the scales were first allowed on the Square by an ordinance of the old borough council passed July 7, 
1810. There were present at the meeting Thomas Dyer, Charles Miner, Geo. Cahoon, Enoch Ogden, Isaac Bowman and 
F. Tracy, the clerk The ordinance as passed was as follows: 

" Whereas, John P. Arndt hath offered for the use of the borough his hay scales on certain conditions: Be it or- 


A few shacks of buildings were dotted here and there along the Square's borders, 
the brick house of Joseph Slocum being the sole building of any pretention in 
the neighborhood. Within the Square area stood buildings before enumerated : 
Old Ship Zion, the second court house, the "Fireproof", the old Academy and a 
flimsy market house with hose house attached. With the exception of the 
"Fireproof," these buildings were of wood construction, the academy and church 
plainly showing the ravages of time and the market house a mere shell of rough 

With no drainage provided, the Square area became a huge pool of water 
after everv^ rain and as the water stagnated, frogs congregated in numbers, 
affording considerable amusement for restless youths attending the Academy. 
In fact, the whole district north of Market street now occupied by railroad 
yards, a part of which still retains the name of "Duck Pond" was a morass drained 
by a small stream which meandered through the present city and emptied into 
the river along Riverside drive. 

Small wonder it was, under the circumstances, that a grand inquest, 
with some show of civic spirit, felt impelled to indict the offending section as 
a "nuisance." 

Dilapidated structures in and around the Public vSquare were not the 
only objectives that drew the fire of Editor Collins. In his publication of May 1 1, 
1842, he must have rattled the dry bones of ultra conservatism in the borough 
by the following: 

"We'll tell the property holders of this town a truth, and they may believe it or not, as 
they choose. A change will take place in our borough affairs in less than two years. The shops are 
filling up. If property holders won't improve their property, others will do it for them — but at 
their own expense. That policy which keeps large tracts of eligible and building lots in a thriving 
town, vacant, or filled with miserable disgraceful shanties — which refuses to sell a foot of land, 
even at exorbitant prices, to those who could pay for it, and build good houses upon it — is not 
only a narrow and mistaken policy, so far as pecuniary advantage is concerned, but is against 
the spirit of the times and cannot last, 

"There is a current of feeling afloat in this borough, in reference to local improvement, 
which will have its way. It is to be regretted that it should meet with any opposition, so long as 
it is confined within reasonable bounds. True, landholders have a perfect legal right to say — "my 
property is my own, and I'll do as I please with it." But every man owes something to public 
taste and general utility; and in town and cities this obligation is peculiarly strong. Illiberal ity 
in this respect begets ill-feeling — it engenders sentiments, which all good men must deplore. To 
illustrate this; we have heard fifty citizens declare that should a fire break out in certain rows of 
buildings in this town, they would only exert themselves to preserve adjoining tenements, but 
would not raise a hand to save the shanties. And why? Because the buildings are a disgrace to 
the town, and the owners .veil able to put up better ones in their place." 

Mr. Collins, however, was not adverse to giving credit for improvement 

where he considered it due. For instance in his paper of July 7, 1842, the editor 

epitomizes some of the improvements of the season in the following terms: 

"We are pleased to note, that notwithstanding the general depression of the times, the pace 
of improvement is gradually onward in Wilkesbarre. Several superior buildings have been 
put up already this season, and others are in progress of erection. On Main Street the beautiful 
stores of Messrs. Pettebone and Reynolds are indeed an ornament to the town. These stores are 
built in connection, of brick, three stories high, with open fronts, supported on cast iron pillars, 
with cut stone base and coping, tin-roofed and finished throughout in superior style. Mr. Reichard 
has built a solid and substantial stone dwelling house, on Union street near his brewery. On 
Franklin street, below Market, Mr. Hollenback has the cellars prepared for two three story brick 
dwelling houses, which will be put up during the season. The Academy, on the square, accomplishes 
its usual weekly allowance of six inches increase in altitude. At its present and past rate of pro- 
gress, it is likely to be enclosed sometime before Christmas — perhaps. 

"In almost every portion of the town we hear the hammer of the artizan, and notice im- 

dained that from and after the first day of August ne.xt, the hay scales, now situate on the Public Square, shall be in 
readiness to weigh all hay that may be brought to the borough for sale.' 

" Be it ordained that the town council shall annually or as often as need be. appoint some per-.on to take charge 
of the hay scales, and that he shall justly and truly weigh all hay brought to the scales to be weighed, and he shall 
receive for every load of hay weighed the sum of twenty-five cents, one-half of which shall go to John P. Amdt for the 
use of said scales.' 

"It was added that in case the weigher takes more than twenty-five cents per load he shall be fined four dollars. " 


provements of different kinds. In the outskirts of the town, more particularly, the number of 
new buildings is to be remarked, many finished with neatness and taste." 

Whether due to the inherent defects of its patched up construction or spring- 
ing from a wider interest in affairs aroused by the editorial pen, the community 
for a number of years discussed the erection of a more suitable building for 
academy purposes. On March 18, 1836, was held the first mass meeting in the 
old Academy called for the purpose of discussing the pressing needs of Wilkes- 
Barre's only school, semi-public in character. Various committees were ap- 
pointed which reported to a second mass meeting held in the same place on 
April 6th. 

The Rev. John Dorrance officiated as chairman of the meeting, and George 
W. Woodward as secretary. 

The committee appointed at the former meeting made a report, which was 
received, and after various amendments, adopted as follows: 

"The Committee appointed at a public meeting of citizens held on the 18th day of March. 
1836, to report at an adjourned meeting the best mode of raising the requisite funds to build a 
new Academy in the Borough of Wilkesbarre, and the most suitable location, size, and plan of 
the proposed building, with an estimate of the probable cost, proceed now to report — That the 
consideration they have given the subject, has resulted in the conviction that the best mode of 
raising the requisite funds to accomplish the object in view, will be by individual subscriptions 
of stock to the amount of not less than $2000, in shares of $10 each. It is presumed that the cost 
of such a building as the subscribers of stock may hereafter determine to erect, will not much ex- 
ceed $2000, and that such a building when finished, may be so rented as to produce annually to 
the subscribers, at least three per cent on tlieir respective investments. 

"The Committee have thought it most proper to refer the choice of location, size and plan 
of the building to the persons who may become stockholders, and for the purpose of procuring 
subscriptions of stock and organizing the friends of the object, recommend the adoption of the 
following resolutions: 

"Resolved, That a committee be appointed to prepare articles of association to be submitted 
to a meeting of the subscribers of stock, at such time as may be hereafter designated. 

"Resolved, That a committee be appointed to obtain subscriptions of stock to the amount 
at least of $2000, and that this committee be required to notify a public meeting of subscribers 
within two months from this date, at which meeting both they and the committee to prepare 
articles of association, shall report. 

"Resolved, That a committee be appointed to address the public through the newspapers 
on the importance and necessity of erecting a new Academy in the Borough of Wilkes-Barre. 

"All which is respectfully submitted. 

"(Signed) J. N. Conyngham "] 
Henry F. Lamb 

T. W. Miner > Committee" 

Henry Colt ( 

G. W. Woodward J 

Those who expected a new academy building to quickly follow a propitious 
launching of the movement at the two meetings of 1836 were destined to that 
disappointment which invariably accompanied all public service efforts of early 
Wilkes-Barre. The project marked time for two years. 

On March 12, 1838, the legislature passed an act by whose terms academies 
were eligible to financial assistance from the state in case they conformed to 
certain requirements. The board of the local academy determined to avail it- 
self of this aid and on April 16th of that year the legislature approved a petition 
to re-incorporate the institution as the Wyoming Academy. Aid secured by 
reason of this change of charter applied merely to expenses of the school and left 
the community to finance any buildings necessary for scholastic purposes. 

By midsummer of 1838, sufficient subscriptions were secured toward a 
new building to justify the board of the new institution in disposing of the old 
building and determining upon the erection of a brick structure on the same site. 
Accordingly the old half log. .half frame structure was purchased by Henry F. Lamb 
in July with an understanding that the building would be demolished when 
trustees of the Academy were ready to proceed wit.h a new building on the site. 


Due to the difficulty of securing payments of subscriptions, the work 

then lagged discouragingly for nearly four more years. In the vSpring of 1842, 

the cellar was dug and work progressed during the summer on a brick structure. 

Conditions attending the work were not to the liking of Editor Collins, however, 

and in his publication of July 27th, he candidly explains what had excited his 

wrath : 

"The materials used in the building of the Academy, have been carek'Ssly deposited, 
without any regard to the convenience of passers. Two of the most frequented walks across the 
Square have been obstructed all Summer, and are likely to continue so the rest of the year, when 
it might as well be avoided as not. The mass of people have some rights, as well as the person 
who happens to be building a house. The practice of throwing dirt, stone, lumber, and lime and 
sand anywhere that a careless teamster may choose, is becoming too common in this town and 
as the town increases, it will become an insufTerable evil, unless corrected, It is to check the prac- 
tise that we make these remarks at this time. For near two long months, the cellar of the Academy 
was left an unguarded trap, for the incautious or the stranger, right in the line of one of the most 
public walks in town. Sev-eral strangers were precipitated into the pit — happily without much 
injury. But these things must be cared for. The people must be waked up, and the authorities 
must do their duty." 

While the official title to the institution when it formally opened its doors 
to the public in its new building for the spring term of 1843 was the Wyoming 
Academy, it was but rarely referred to in cither press or private correspondence 
as other than the Wilkes-Barre Academy. 

Thus, in the Advocate of May 3, 
1848, appears an advertisement of "Pro- 
fessor Gardner" who announces himself 
as "Principal, Proprietor and President 
of the Tonsorial Institute under the 
Wilkes-Barre Academy." 

The "Professor" modestly states 
in the same advertisement that "he will 
ensure to the young gents that he can 
beautify a head of hair to that degree, 
that it will have a galvanic effect of such 
power that a slantendicular glance at a 
feminine gender will cause a sensible 
ffirtation around their hearts." 

One of the first announcements of 
the newly organized school enumerates 
the hours of attendance expected of 
pupils. Students at present day insti- 
tutions will doubtless be interested in perusing them: 

"The school will be open in the morning from 9 to 12 o'clock and in the 
afternoon from 2 to 5, excepting from the middle of November to the middle of 
March when the afternoon hours are from 1 to half past 4 o'clock. On Saturdays 
the morning session only will be held." 

It will be remembered that a 50 pound bell adorned the small cupola 
on the frame end of the old academy building. The fate of this bell was disclosed 
by a paper read before the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society by Harrison 
Wright, Esq., December 14, 1883*, Mr. Wright himself, as a student of the 

*Mr. Wright gave the following lists of teachers, janitors and trustees of the old Academy from its foundation in 
1808 to its re-incorporation as the Wyoming Academy in 1838: 

■Iq 1808 the Academy was formally opened, with Garrick Mallery as principal, he serving until June. 1810. His 
assistants, during this time were, Jacob Taylor, John F. Dupuy and Alexander Baldwin. Mr. Mallery was followed by 
Rev. A E Thayer, who served for a year and a half. His associates were, Edward Chapman, Andrew Beaumont and 
Edward Covell Mr. Mallery and Thomas Bartlett, with Andrew Beaumont and Edward Covell as assistants, then 
took charge of the school until November, 1812, when William Janneson was engaged as principal. His assistants were. 


school, being intimately concerned with the bell's mysterious disappearance. 
The reference is as follows: 

"When the building was dismantled, prior to its removal, some of the old students captured 
the bell and sunk it in the swamp near the spot where the L. & S. depot now stands; it was after- 
wards taken up and buried in the cellar of the old Lamb drug store, from which it was again 
resurrected to find a final resting place in the ground under where the Oristus Collin's barn stood 
until the fire of 1867, and is now covered by a part of the livery stable of Art Pursel." 

An incident unusual to a community so far removed from what 
became known as the Mason and Dixon line as was Wilkes-Barre in the thirties, 
warned citizens of dangers of lawlessness in connection with a question which 
may, at the present, seem to have been remotely concerned with local thought 
and action. 

There were those, especially of New England stock, who looked with 
abhorrence upon slavery in any form and who early began to spread doctrines 
opposed to the further extension of slavery into new states to be organized. 
The earliest victory of those who shared anti-slavery doctrines came in the form 
of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, when President Monroe signed the measure 
prohibiting the holding of slaves in the territory of the Louisiana Purchase north 
of 36 degrees, 30 minutes. Agitation of the question, pro and con, followed 
throughout the whole country. The census of 1840 showed no slaves owned in 
Luzerne County. The few which had been shown as owned by citizens in earlier 
census reports had gradually been sold or, in several instances, given their 
freedom. But while public sentiment did not countenance the actual possession 
of blacks in the community, it by no means was in sympathy with the views of 
early abolitionists who sought to upset a widely established system, backed 
by powerful and far reaching positive law. In the year 1821, William C. Gilder- 
sleeve came to Wilkes-Barre and engaged as a merchant in a building on the 
north side of Northampton street not far from its intersection with River. He 
was pronounced in his opposition to slavery. Born in Midway, Liberty County, 
Georgia, in 1795, .he had gained his impressions of traffic in human chattels at 
first hand.* His father was a slave owner. He had seen men, women and children 
placed on the auction block in front of the church where his father preached. 
As a young man he had migrated north, settling first in New Jersey and then 
coming to Wilkes-Barre. Mr. Gildersleeve had, in addition to his impressions, 
the courage of his convictions. His home and store buildings soon became 
stations on one of those mysterious "underground railroads" which accounted 
for the escape of many runaway slaves into Canada. Towns along the Nortjh 
Branch of the Susquehanna river usually possessed residents who thought as 
Mr. Gildersleeve thought. Secreted until late at night by these abolitionists 
who were willing to be classed as law breakers in their zeal, the fugitive black 

Andrew Beaumont and John F. Palmer. He served until June, 1814, when he was removed. Subsequent teachers are 
Rev. Wm. Woodring, 1815, Josiah H. Miner, 1816, Samuel Turney, Rev. Samue Phinney, till 1817, Joseph H. Jones, 
Joel Jones, Milton P. Orton, Mr. Talcott, 1828, Daniei Ulman, 18.50, Israel Dickinson with Dr. C. F. Ingham as assist- 
ant From 1837 to the close of the Academy's existence the principal was Sylvester Dana. 

"As janitors John Miller served from 1809 till his death, November 16, 1824. He was familiarly known as Speck 
Miller He was followed by John Tilghman, who was succeeded by John Michael Kienzle, better known as Old Michael. 
"The trustees servint; at various times from 1807 to 1838 were as follows: Rev. Ard. Hoyt, Charles Miner, George 
Dennison, Lord Butler, Thomas Dyer, Chester Butler, Jesse Fell, Lawrence Myers, David Scott, Matthias Hollen- 
back, Nathan Beach. Andrew Beaumont, William Ross, Jo.seph Sinton, Joseph McCoy. Pelcg Tracy, Garrick Mallery, 
John N. Conyngham, Rosewell Welles, Stephen Tuttle, Jacob J. Dennis, Ebenezer Bowman. Rev. Wm. Woodbridge, 
Wm. S. Ross, Samuei Bowman, Nathan Palmer, Wm. L Bowman, John P. Arndt, Dr. Edward Covell, Dr. T. W. Miner, 
.\rnold Colt, Hon. John B. Gibson, Rev. James May, Dr. Matthew Covell, Henry Clymer, John L. Butler, Joseph 
Slocum, Josiah H Miner, C. D Shoemaker, Benjamin Perry, Rev. CjCO. Lane, Ziba Bennett, Thomas Graham, G. M. 
Hol.enback. James McClintock, Rev. John Dorrance, Lewis Worrall, V. L. Maxwell. Biographical sketches of the 
trustees were also given " 

*Mr. Gildersleeve who like many others whose opinions were in advance of their times, lived to see his views 
shared by practically all his townspeople and the cause for which he suffered martyrdom become a triumphant issue 
of the Civil war, died in Wilkes-Barre, October 7, 1871. 


was conveyed under cover of darkness to the next friendly station. Providence 
was then the largest village between Wilkes-Barre and Carbondale. It, hke 
Wilkes-Barre, possessed a station whose destinies were controlled by converts 
to the cause of liberty for all human beings. To Providence, Mr. Gildersleeve 
made many nocturnal trips, in each case accompanied by one or more of the 
hunted creatures. From Providence, the "underground" left the valleys of 
the Susquehanna and Lackawanna, t.he objective being Montrose, where allies 
of Mr. Gildersleeve were prepared to set the fugitives another step on the way 
to freedom. By those content to let the law take its course in such matters or 
who, at that period, openly favored slavery as an institution recognized by the 
Constitution and protected by its laws, the abolitionist was held as an object 
of contempt and ridicule. 

Mr. Gildersleeve suffered accordingly. But having set his hand to the plow, 
he was not one to be turned back. In opposition to general sentiment and in 
defiance of frequent warnings, he brought the Rev. John Cross to Wilkes-Barre 
and announced on January 27, 1837, that the speaker would address residents 
on the subject of slavery. All churches of the community denied the use of their 
buildings for the purpose. 

County commissioners being approached as to the use of the court house 
for the discussion, curtly refused such permission. Mr. Gildersleeve then 
opened his own home and invited all who cared to hear t.he address to enter. 
A few hardy souls responded to the invitation. 

While the meeting was in progress a crowd gathered outside, becoming 
more pronounced in its hostility as the discussion proceeded. 

Finally the mob forced the door and entered the room where the small 
company had gathered. But Mr. Cross, in spite of threats of personal violence 
went on with his discourse. Unable to silence him, the m,ob eventually withdrew 
after removing objectionable pictures from the walls and carrying away the fence 
and s.hrubbery in the yard. Two years later, Mr. Gildersleeve brought on another 
abolitionist speaker in the person of a Mr. Burleigh of Boston, who had gained 
both fame and notoriety by his utterances and writings. Upon this occasion, 
no opportunity for a public meeting was vouchsafed. Shortly after the arrival 
of Mr. Burleigh at the home of Mr. Gildersleeve, a more determined mob than 
that which had assembled on the former occasion, quickly broke open the doors 
of the house and made search for the object of their wrath. Mr. Burleigh how- 
ever, had escaped to the home of Judge Dana, who shared anti-slavery views 
to some extent, and later was taken under guard to the Phoenix hotel to await 
an outgoing stage. The mob, robbed of its intended prey, decided to vent its 
spleen upon Mr. Gildersleeve. 

Induced by a subterfuge to visit the hotel, he was then set upon by the 
assembled crowd and a pail of black dye poured over his head and hands. A 
tarred fence rail was then produced and, borne on the shoulders of his persecutors, 
Wilkes-Barre's outstanding abolitionist was "ridden" from the hotel to his .home 
on North Franklin street. The presence of Mr. Gildersleeve's daughter, who 
fought her way through the crowd and took determined position at her father's 
side during the unhappy ride, probably prevented furtjher violence at the hands 
of the jeering captors. Not content with setting down the victim in front of 
his home, the crowd remained, smashing windows and destroying such furniture 


as could be reached. Charles F. Reets, an eye witness of the outrage, thus 
described its events many years afterwards in a newspaper interview: 

"I well remember one morning when I was taking an early breakfast at the old White 
Horse in 1839, said Mr. Reets, 'when the girl came and called me to the door'. 

"See here, Mr. Reets; here comes Mr. Gildersleeve on the rail! 

"I went to the door and there was W. C. Gildersleeve being ridden on a rail. He was a 
rank abolitionist. I remember that Hiram Dennis was at one end of the rail. Of the four I cannot 
remember the rest. They had tar hanging on the rail. Gildersleeve had induced a noted Eastern 
abolitionist to come here to deliver a lecture. The following morning the men of the town called 
at the hotel to see the lecturer who had been prevented from speaking and Gildersleeve walked 
down to the old Phoenix Hotel. The minute Gildersleeve arrived he was told his hnrse' was ready. 
They had a rail leaning from the walk on the porch rail and it was only a moment's work to compel 
Gildersleeve to take his position, and he was then given a free ride up Market street to Franklin 
and from that street to his home, about 400 feet up the street, followed by a large crowd. To the 
best of my recollection some of the crowd broke into the kitchen of Gildersleeve's home and de- 
stroyed some of his furniture. Th^ lecturer disappeared from town early that morning, taking 
the stage for the East. Between 10 and 1 1 o'clock that morning, 'Squire Dyer read the riot act 
to the crowd, telling them to disperse as they were rebels. The crowd did not obey the 'squire, but 
finally about noon I saw James Nesbitt, father of Abraham Nesbitt, president of the Second 
National Bank, and Mr. Norton, a harness maker, go past with horse pistols. They repaired to 
the front of Gildersleeve's house and at the point of their pistols commanded the crowd to dis- 
perse. Both Nesbitt and Norton were determined men and had the respect of the community, 
and the crowd soon melted away." 

Various meetings held in relation to afifairs of the academy naturally led 
to discussion of educational matters in general. Wilkes-Barre's one established 
school w^as intended primarily for boys. The question of a school for girls pre- 
sented itself insistently. For a time the question was answered by individual 
teachers. In the Republican Farmer, April 24, 1839, the following advertisement 
appeared : 


"This institution will be open on the first Wednesday in May for the reception of pupils. 
The course of study will embrace three years, including the primary class, each year consisting 
of two terms of 22 weeks each. 

"The course will embrace the following studies: 

"Primary Class 
"1st Term — Orthography, reading, writing, grammar, geography, arithmetic, history, 
composition, etc., etc. 

"2d Term — Studies of the preceding term reviewed and continued; outline of history, 
natural philosophy. 

"Junior Class 
" 1st Term — Grammar, arithmetic, history, geography, rhetoric with a reference to com- 
position, physiology. 

"2d Term — Grammar, chemistry, intellectual philosophy, geography of the heavens, 
algebra, logic and composition. 

"Senior Class. 
"1st Term — Algebra continued, logic, Euclid, Abercrombie on Moral Feelings, astronomy, 
history, composition. 

"2d Term — Euclid, moral science. Evidence of Christianity, Butler's Analogy, chemistry, 


"For board, lights, fuel, etc., with tuition in English branches, $75 per term. 

" F"or tuition of day pupils in English branches, $6 per quarter. 

Washing per dozen $ .50 

For tuition in French 5.00 

For tuition in Drawing and Painting 4.00 

For tuition in Music .^.00 

Use of piano 2.00 

"Provisions will be made for instruction in Latin and Greek without any additional charge 
to till- pupil. 

"The department of Education will be luider the direction of Miss F*. M. W'oodworth. 
The Seminary is delightfully situated on the bank of the Susquehanna." 

This school, a predecessor of the Wilkes-Barre Institute, was opened in 
a private home on River street end for a period of three years satisfied such 


local demands as were placed upon it. The times, however, did not make for 
the prosperity of a private institution unaided by state or individual subscriptions. 
Try as its principals and teachers would, they were unable to make financial ends 
meet. In the spring of 1844, a meeting of citizens resolved upon the incorpor- 
ation of a girls school, t.hus placing it on somewhat the same basis as the Academy. 

It was thereupon chartered as the Wilkes-Barre Female Seminary and 
arrangements were made with officials of the Academy for the use of two rooms 
in the new brick building. The Misses Sara.h F. Tracy and Augusta J. Donley 
were placed in charge of the reorganized seminary and announcement of the 
reopening date on Monday August 18, 1844, was contained in the Advocate 
of August 7th. 

As a matter of information to parents and pupils expecting to attend, an 
early pamphlet of the school gave the following: 

"For the information of distant parents, the board of trustees state, that the Seminary 
which was incorporated by recent act of assembly, united with the 'Wyoming Academy,' another 
incorporated school designed for boys, in the erection on the Public Square in the Borough of 
Wilkes-Barre, of a large and commodious brick building, which is divided into rooms of a con- 
venient size, neatly finished and furnished with all the apparatus for the comfortable and success- 
ful prosecution of the business of education. The union of the schools in the same house, will 
enable the teacher of the Academy, who is a graduate of Yale College, to give assistance, when 
desired, to the higher classes of the Female department, although the schools are entirely separate. 

"The pupils of the two schools, enter the building from opposite sides and have no com- 
munication whatever with each other. The Trustees have secured the services of two young 
ladies, in whose qualifications they have entire confidence. They have also established a system 
of visitation which they think will exert a highly favourable influence on the school, and enable 
them from time to time to award merited honors to the pupils. The Board consists of nine Trustees 
who have resolved themselves into three visiting Committees, by whom the school will be visited 
and examined, alternately on the first Monday in each month. The Committees are as follows: 

"No. 1. Reverend R. B. Claxton, Nathaniel Rutter, H. F. Lamb. 

"No. 2. Reverend John Dorrance, John N. Conyngham, Luther Kidder. 

"No. 3. H. B. Wright, Isaac S. Osterhout, Geo. W. Woodward. 

"The trustees are determined to promote in the school a system of thorough female edu- 
cation and to make it worthy of the confidence and patronage of the public. 

" By order and in behalf of the Board. 

"Geo. W. Woodward, 

In 1845, the Rev. A. H. Hand, formerly pastor of the Berwick Presbyterian 
church became principal of the Seminary. For a period of approximately eight 
years both the academy and Seminary organizations functioned side by side 
in the one building. By 1853 the growing attendance of each school made other 
arrangements necessary. Like Old Ship Zion, from which had come four con- 
gregations, the brick school building, like a full .hive, was getting ready to swarm. 
Upon the Seminary fell the burden of securing new quarters. Those who had 
the matter much in thought then determined upon a different form of incorpor- 
ation for the girl's school. Those willing to give financial aid in a large way to 
the new venture were, in the main, members of the First Presbyterian church. 
Morever the pastor of this church, the Rev. Dr. John Dorrance was especially 
active in affairs concerned with the school. A charter was thereupon applied 
for and granted, by order of the Court, April 10, 1854, which provided that 
control of the "literarv Institution to be known as the Wilkes-Barre Institute 
shall be under direction * * * of the Presbytery of Luzerne." Further 
provisions of t.he charter designated that of the thirteen members of the board 
of trustees, the pastor of the church and at least six members of his congregation 
must be named by the Presbytery. After clothing the board with general powers, 
the charter then provided that "they shall not have power to alienate the real 
estate of the corporation without the consent of the church * * * jn writing 


obtained at a meeting of said congregation held in pursuance of at least two weeks' 
notice given from the pulpit of the church."* 

The following trustees were named in the charter of the Institute: 
George M. Hollenback, Alexander Gray, Henry M. Fuller, Harrison Wright. 
Andrew T. McClintock, John Faser, John Urquhart, Elisha B. Harvey, all of 
Wilkes-Barre, Ario Pardee of Hazleton, Samuel Wadhams of Plymouth, John 
Brown of White Haven, William R. Glen of Tamaqua, with Dr. Dorrance 
member ex-officio. At the first meeting of the trustees held April 15, 1854, 
George M. Hollenback was named president, John Faser, treasurer and 
Edward M. Covell, secretary. A committee was appointed to solicit funds for 
land and building which shortly thereafter reported a gift of valuable real estate 
from Henry M. Fuller, which gift was later augmented by an additional lot of 
land given by Mr. Hollenback, the 
whole comprising what are now lots 
numbered 154, 158 and 164 South 
River street. Subscriptions from one 
hundred and five residents, varying in 
amount from $1,000.00 to $5.00 are 
noted on the original subscription 
books of the Institute, the sum total 
being about $5,000.00 With a major 
portion of these subscriptions in hand, 
a building committee was empowered 
to construct a three story brick build- 
ing on the newly acquired property, 

the interior arrangements affording 

,1 .L i-L -4-1- J Wilkes-BarrE Institute — Erected 1854 

several class rooms together with dor- 
mitory accommodations for a limited number of boarding students. 

The Luzerne Presbyterial Institute located at Troy (now the Borough 
of Wyoming) being likewise under the jurisdiction of the Presbytery, it was 
recommended by that body that the latter school be made "as far as practicable 
a school for young men and boys in order to have under our care institutions 
providing for the separate training of each sex."t 

The Presbytery likewise recommend the Rev. Joseph E. Nassau, a resident 
of Lawrenceville, New Jersey, as a suitable candidate for principal of the Institute, 
which recommendation was favorably acted by the board. He entered upon 
his duties in September following, when the new building was opened with an 
encouraging number of students. The history of the Institute from that time 
forth, until comparatively recent years was one of struggles, of frequent changes 
in the personnel of principals and teaching staff, of periods of prosperity inter- 
spersed between periods of adversity. Owing to a demand for the education of 
local boys under denominational influences, a boys' school was run in con- 
junction with the Institute, Rev. Winfield S. Parsons of Pottstown being called 
to the head of the boys' department in 1856. During the Civil war and for a 
considerable period thereafter, the Institute existed almost in name only. Upon 

*Tvvo occasions have called into use this proviso of the chapter. In 1876 the congregation voted affirmatively 
upon disposing of the school property on South River Street and again in 1924. a like permission was granted to the 
board to dispose of the present school building on South Franklin Street preparatory to the erection of a modern school 
plant in Forty Fort, 

tThis school closed its doors finally in 1877. 


the initiative of Rev. Francis B. Hodge, a brother of Rev. Dr. A. A. Hodge, 
pastor of the church, interest in the school was revived in 1872. New blood was 
transfused to the board of trustees and the concern of the Presbytery, then the 
Lackawanna Presbytery, secured in the undertaking. 

The school was not, however, formally reorganized nor its doors opened to 
students until the fall term of 1876. In the meanwhile the River street property 
had become much dilapidated and it was determined by the board to sell the 
real estate for home building purposes. Consequently a sale was effected to 
Charles Parrish and with funds derived therefrom, the board in May, 1876, 
purchased from Edward Welles a plot of ground at the corner of South street 
and Barnum Place intending to erect a new building at that location. 

A delay in building plans deterred further action by the board until August, 
1880, when it was found that the large house which had been occupied by the 
late Hon. George W. Woodward was on the market. This the trustees then bought. 
It has been, since it was remodeled in 1881, the site of the Institute, but pursuant 
to plans adopted by the board in the spring of 1924, this site was sold to the 
Wyoming Histo.ical and Geological Society and a modern school plant built on 
a commodious plot of ground on Wyoming avenue. Forty Fort. From its reor- 
ganization in 1877 to 1897, the Institute was under the management and direction 
of Miss Elizabeth H. Rockwell who came from Springfield, Massachusetts, to 
assume her duties in that connection. The administration of Miss Rockwell 
proved highly satisfactory to the board and was marked by an improvement in 
curriculum and attendance which is still in progress under the aggressive and in- 
telligent leadership of Miss Anna M. Olcott who was advanced from teacher to 
principal in the fall of 1912.* 

Among the earlier educational institutions of the Wyoming valley which 
have survived to the present, Wyoming Seminary at Kingston holds unique 
position. Like similar foundations at Harvard, Yale, Princeton and other 
institutions of the east, its beginnings were the fruit of religious convictions, 
inspired by unselfish motives and attuned to high ideals. As has been related 
in a previous chapter, the Methodist church had flourished in the Wyoming Valley. 
The school with no ties that might bind it to leveling influences of state-dictated 
policies, and with its roots imbedded in the teachings of that denomination 
where its influences are now so widely felt, made appealing call upon the com- 
munity. At a session of the Oneida conference held in Wilkes-Barre August 9, 
1843, this sentiment crystallized in a resolution appointing Rev. David Holmes 
of Wilkes-Barre, Rev. Lucian S. Bennett of the Kingston and Wyoming circuit, 
Rev. Silas Comfort of the Susquehanna district, Thomas Myers and Madison F. 
Myers of Kingston, Lord Butler and Sharp D. Lewis of Wilkes-Barre "trustees 
of a contemplated Seminary of learning to be located either in Wilkes-Barre or 
Kingston according to the larger amount of subscriptions secured on the first 
of October to which time the .subscriptions were to be kept open." In thus 
pitting two sections of the same community against each other for the distinction 
of becoming the site of the proposed institution, the conference seems to have 
mixed a bit of shrewd business acumen with sentiment. Committees on each 
side of the river began the work of solicitation. In an address delivered at the 

*An interesting sketch of the history and attainments of the Wilkes-Barre Institute was given by the Hon. George 
R. Bedford, a member of the board of trustees for many years, at the Sixtieth Anniversary Commencement, 1914. 
This address was afterward printed in pamphlet form and to it the reader is referred for many additional farts relating 
to the school. 


Seminary by Rev. L. L. Sprague, D. D. on Founder's Day, June 15, 1919, due 

credit for securing the larger amount of contributions on the West Side was 

given to Rev. William Reddy, a young minister of the Kingston- Wyoming 

circuit, who gave the 

task of solicitation 

practically his entire 


When the time 
set for deciding the 
location of the Sem- 
inary arrived, it was 
found that Rev. Mr. 
Reddy had secured 
sufficient subscrip- 
tions to guarantee 
completion of a build- 
ing and accordingly a 
contract was let for 
$4700.00 to Thomas 
Myers. The building 
was erected on a plot 
fronting on College 
street, Kingston, do- 
nated by Mr. Myers, 
and was completed 
September 17, 1844. 
A charter for the in- 
stitution having in the 
meanwhile been ap- 
plied for, the trustees 
began t.he task of sift- 
ing applications for 
the position of prin- 
cipal. The choice of Reuben Nelson was a most fortunate one. He was a 
graduate of Hartwick Seminary and Union College. For a time he had been 
principal of Otsego Academy where he attempted to add to his scholastic duties 
the work of a preaching circuit. 

The strain he had found too great and, when elected to his new position 
he was recuperating from a breakdown in health. The building having been 
dedicated September 25, 1844, its doors were thrown open to students. 

From the start, the institution made a rapid headway. By the end of 

the first year its faculty had grown from two to seven, composed of the following: 

"Prof. Nelson, principal and instructor in Latin and Greek. 

'Mrs. Eliza Y. York, preceptress. 

"Prof. E. E. Ferris, teacher of the normal department. 

"W. W. Ketcham, a student teacher of mathmatics. 

"Miss Sarah Tomkins, teacher of elementary English. 

"Mrs. Nelson, wife of the principal, teacher of drawing and painting. 

"Miss Emily H. Schott, teacher of music." 

In its second year, the vSeminary attracted nearly two htmdred students, 
most of them pupils in the course in elemental English. It has been character- 

Levi L. Sprague, D. D., L. H. D. 


istic of the Seminary, as it is of most of America's institutions of learning, that 
funds sufhcient to meet expenses have never been accumulated from tuition fees. 
As numbers of students increased and the scope of its courses widened this deficit 
between income and outgo was likewise widened. For several years after its 
foundation, the Seminary was saved from closing only after recourse to judgment 
notes and the inevitable subscription paper. The skies cleared somewhat in 
1850, when a generous contribution from William Swetland of Wvoming, then 
a trustee, made pos- 
sible the building of 
a wing to the original 
building in order to 
overcome crowded 
conditions. A similar 
wing was planned for 
the other end of the 
building but, at a 
time when the future 
seemed most promis- 
ing, fire, w.hich begun 
early in the morning 
of March 15, 1853, 
destroyed the school 
building, the new 
Swetland wing and 
wiped out the Bennett 
library, a donation to 
the Seminary from 
Judge Ziba Bennett of 
Wilkes-Barre. Dr. 
Nelson and friends of 
the institution faced 
a serious situation. 
But once again com- 
petition came to the 
assistance of its foun- 
ders. Wilkes-Barre 
again made overtures 
for relocating the Seminary on a two acre plot along South Main street. A com- 
mittee, consisting of Judge Bennett, Lord Butler and W. W. Loomis offered a 
guaranteed subscription list totalling $7,000 as a substantial background for their 
request. The trustees, however, voted six to three against the offer, basing 
their decision upon charter provisions which named Kingston as the site of 
the vSeminarv. 

The task of raising funds was therefore begun in earnest and from the pro- 
ceeds of these the buildings now known as Administration Hall and Union Hall 
were erected and Swetland Hall, contributed entirely by Mr. Swetland, completed. 
Judge Bennett generously replaced the library which still bears his name. In 
1866, at the Ceateaary celebration of American Methodism, Dr. Nelson canvassed 
the Wyoming conference (set off in 1852 from the Oneida conference) for funds 

Reuben Nelson, A. M., D. D. 


for a much needed new building. There was raised a sum of $25,000 for the 
purpose. From this fund grew Centenary Hall a year later. In 1871 additional 
land was purchased in rear of this building which provided room for Nesbitt 
Hall when that dignified structure was made possible in 1894 through the gener- 
osity of Abram Nesbitt.* Nelson Memorial Hall, containing the chapel of the 

Main Building — Wyoming Seminary 

institution was erected in 1887 in memory of the learned principal to whose 
management and administration for a period of twenty-seven years the Seminary 
owes much of its standing today. The Caroline M. Pettebone Gymnasium, 
erected in 1897 and bearing the name of its donor, has added much to the at- 
tractiveness of the Seminary's group of buildings as it has to the equipment 
of the institution. At the semi-centennial of the vSeminary, celebrated in 1894, 
a plot of approximately five acres was purchased for use as an athletic field. 
In 1922, Abram G. Nesbitt turned this field into a completely equipped athletic 
ground such as is possessed by few institutions in the country. Presenting 
this improved athletic park to the Seminary, it was named the George F. Nesbitt 
Memorial Field, in memory of Mr. Nesbitt' s brother who, as a student, had 
advocated the selection of the plot for the identical purpose to which it was 
afterwards dedicated. 

The Seminary began to contemplate in 1924 one of the largest undertakings 
in its history. Free of debt, with an endowment fund well over $600,000.00 
owning buildings and lands approximating a million dollars in value, the Seminary 

*Abram Nesbitt was born Thursday, December 29, 1831, in Plymouth Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. 
He was not quite one year old when his parents removed in November, 1832, to Wilkes- Barre. Here he lived, in a house 
on East Market Street, until March, 1849, when he located in the Borough of Kingston, Luzerne County, where he 
continued to reside. 

As a youth he attended the academy taught by "Deacon" Sylvester Dana, and located on what is now Academy 
Street, Wilkes-Barre In the Spring of 1845 he became a student at Wyoming Seminary, but remained there for a 
few months only and then returned to "Deacon" Dana's school. Here he continued as a student until he removed with 
his mother to Kingston, when he again entered Wyoming Seminary. 

Within a short time thereafter he left school and began to study surveying under the direction of his brother-in-law 
Samuel Hoyt. Before he reached his twenty-first birthday he had become Mr. Hoyt's assistant, and within the next 
year or two he had started as a surveyor on his own account, and was .soon busily and successfully at work. Mr. Nesbitt 
devoted all his time to his profession until 1864, when, having considerable othtr business of importance to look after. 


he retired from active work as a surveyor. During the next eight or ten years he was, as an expert in his profession 
often called upon for advice, opinions and testimony. 

Early in 1863 arrangements were made for organizing and establishing the Second National Bank of Wilkes-Barre. 
The organization of this institution was completed in September, 1863, and in November business was begun in the 
Chahoon Building on West Market Street. 

Abram Nesbitt. who was one of the organizers of this Bank, was elected a member of its first Board of Diiectors, 
and by successive re-elections served as a Director until his death. He was elected Vice-President of the Bank in January, 
1 871, and in that ofSce he was continued until January, 1877. when he was elected President. 

In 1870 Abram Nesbitt was appointed a member of the Board of Directors of the Central Poor District of Luzerne 
County, and by re-appointment from time to time served in that responsible office continuously until 1920. He was 

Abram Nesbitt 

Treasurer of the Board and the District for most of the time from 1870 to 1895 when he was elected President of tlie 

The village of Kingston was incorporated as a Borough in 1857, and for about three-fourths of the time from that 
year until 1887 Abram Nesbitt was a member of the Town Council of Kingston; and for about half of the time from 
1857 to 1885 he was a member of the Borough Board of School Directors. In January, 1882, he was named one of the 
Trustees and also Treasurer of the Forty Fort Cemetery Association. He was one of the organizers of the Wyoming 
Valley Coal Company in 1884, and served as a member of its Board of Directors and Vice-President of the Company. 

In 1889 he was one of the organizers — being one of the largest stockholders — of the Spring Brook Water Company. 
He was elected a member of its first Board of Directors, and subsequently was chosen Treasurer oi the Company. 
These offices he held until 1896, when there was a mer.ging of this Company, the Wilkes-Barre Water Company and 
the Crystal Spring Water Company in a new corporation called the Spring Brook Water Supply Company, the .stock- 
holders of which are, with a few exceptions, those who were stockholders of the original Spring Brook Company. 

In 1885 the Consumers' Gas Company was organized in Wyoming Valley, and began operations in Wilkes-Barre. 
Abram Nesbitt was a member of the Board of Directors of this Company. Early in 1898 the principal stockholders of 
the Consumer's Company bought up the stock and bonds of the Wilkes-Barre Gas Company and in June, 1898, these 
two organizations were consolidated into The Gas Company of Luzerne County. Abram Nesbitt was elected a 
member of the Board of Directors of the Company, and upon the organization of the Board was chosen President. 

In 1896 the Wilkes-Barre Theatre Company was organized and incorporated, Abram Nesbitt being one of the 
largest stockholders in the Company. A handsome and commodious building was erected by the Company on South 
Main Street above South, which was furnished and equipped in an up-to-date manner, and was opened to the public 
October 29, 1897. In June. 1897, the stockholders of the Theatre Company unanimously voted to name this new 
theatre "The Nesbitt." 

In the latter part of 1898 The People's Telephone Company was incorporated, and was organized at Wilkes-Barre 
soon after with Abram Nesbitt as President of the Company and a member of its Board of Directors. 

In 1883, Mr. Nesbitt became one of the Trustees of Wyoming Seminary. He also became a Life Director, havmg 
"contributed to the fund of the institution to the amount of $1 ,000 or upwards." For many years he was Vice-President 
of the Board. 

In 1892 the Seminary was pressingly in need of further accommodations for its students in the way of study and 
classrooms, laboratories, etc., and it was decided to make a special effort to raise from the friends of the Institution 
about $25,000.00, to be used for the erection of the additional building so badly needed. Early in 1893 rough plans for 


the proposed building were prepared, and arrangements were made to begin a canvass for subscriptions to the building 

Shortly thereafter Abram Nesbitt met President Sprague of the Seminary on the street and said, "I should Ike to 
see the plans for the proposed Science Hall." A few days later the plans were taken to Mr. Nesbitt. who, after looking 
them over, said to President Sprague. "Well, Doctor, I will see that you have this Hall built." "Do you mean to say, 
Mr. Nesbitt, that you, alone, will give us this much?", exclaimed Doctor Sprague. "Why not?" was the quick reply — 
and that settled the matter 

At the Commencement exercises of the Seminary, June 22, 1893, ground was broken for the new building, prior 
to which President Sprague publicly announced for the first time the name of the Institution's latest and greatest 
benefactor. The large audience present greeted the announcement with tumultous and long-continued applause. 
But Mr. Nesbitt was not in evidence he having, with his customary modesty, remained away from the Seminary grounds 
upon this interesting occasion. 

The semi-centennial anniversary of the founding of Wyoming Seminary was celebrated with much enthusiasm 
during the Commencement week of the Seminary in June, 1894. In the afternoon of Tuesday, June 19th, of that 
week Nesbitt Hall was dedicated with interesting ceremonies in the presence of a large a-jsemblage of students, alumni 
and friends of the Institution. The Hon. Henry W. Palmer of Wilkes Barre, former Attorney General of Pennsyl- 
vania, presided over the meeting, and in the course of his remarks on taking the chair he paid a high tribute to the 
character of Mr. Nesbitt. He also said: "Were we to follow the wish of the donor of Nesbitt Hall there would be no 
public exhibition of gratitude. He would say. 'Take the building, use it to the best advantage for the purpose for which 
it was designed, and say no more about it.' " The Rev. George E. Reed, D. D., President of Dickinson College, Penn- 
sylvania, then followed with a formal address, in which he briefly but eloquently eulogized Mr. Nesbitt for his liberality 
to the Seminary. 

.\t the time of his death, Mr. Nesbitt was a large stockholder of the Vulcan Iron Works. President and Director 
of the Wilkes- Barre Railway Company, which controls the splendid system of traction lines of the Wyoming Valley, 
a director of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company and a director of the Wales Adding Machine Company. 

In fact, no citizen of the community has ever been more widely interested in business affairs of local and national 
import than was Mr. Nesbitt. Added to the time and patience which he devoted to the upbuilding and prosperity 
of the community at large, was the spirit of generous helpfulness which he extended to individuals who were struggling 
with their own enterpri^es and might have failed without this help which he gave. The moral risk counted more with 
him than the usually demanded collateral. In 1912, and in subsequent years, his generous gifts towards a hospital 
on the West Side made possible the institution which now bears his name. To the last of his busy career, he maintained 
an interest in young men whom he considered worthy of trust and scores of these throughout the Wyomini; Valley owe 
much of their success in life to his cheerful advice and financial backing. His philanthropies were largely of a quiet, 
unassuming and often unknown nature. Many were the stories which were told after his death of mortgages cancelled 
by his direction and promissory notes destroyed through his liberality when their foreclosure or collection would have 
wrought hardship to struggling individuals. 

These kindly acts have contributed to the erection to Abram Nesbitt of a monument in the minds and hearts of 
the community such as cannot be expressed in stone or bronze. 

Abram Nesbitt died September 26, 1920. As a tribute to his memory, the wheels of many industries of the valley 
ceased for a time as his body was being carried to its place of interment. The sincere sorrow at his death, which was 
manifested by all classes of people in the community where his life had been spent and his work so splendidly accom- 
plished, bespoke the general esteem in which he was held as a business associate, a man of wide sympathies and a 
Christian gentleman. 

Abram Nesbitt was married at Kingston , Pennsylvania, Tuesday, Septeml er 2, 1862, by the Rev. R. Nelson D. D. 
to Sara Myers Goodwin, who was born in King.'ton, Sunday, September 30, 1832, the third and youngest daughter of 
Abram and Sarah (Myers) Goodwin. Her death occurred February 22, 1894. vSix children were born of this union: 

Walter James Nesbitt. bom September 22, 1863, died April 20, 1864. 

George Francis Nesbitt. bom in Kingston, Tuesday, January 24, 1865. Having been graduated from Yale Uni- 
versity in 1887 with the degree of A. B., he studied law in the office of E. P. and J. V. Darling, Wilkes-Barre, and was 
admitted to the Bar of Luzerne County in 1890. He was an original stockholder of the old Spring Brook Water Company, 
and was a member of its Board of Directors In 1884, he became a director of the Second National Bank. Always 
interested in affairs of Wyoming Seminary, he, with several companions, presented that institution with the plot of 
five acres to be used for athletic purposes, which field now bears his name. His genial nature and unassuming disposi- 
tion won for him a wide circle of friends. His untimely death, November 27, 1900, as the result of accident, cut off a 
most promising career which bade fair to rival that of his father in many of its attributes. Shortly before his death 
he established at Wyoming Seminary two prizes for original orations at public exercises held on Washington's Birthday . 

Abram Goodwin Nesbitt, bom at Kingston, Novem- _^^ 

ber 18, 1866. He was the only child of the union whosur- ""' 

vived both parents. He was educated at Wyoming Sem- 
inary and has always been a friend and contributor ti that 
institution. Under tutelage of his father, Mr. Nesbitt early 
became affiliated with many of the larger business interests 
of the Wyoming Valley and showed an aptitude for positions 
of responsibility and trust which had made him a power in the 
community. For several years a director of the Second National 
Bank, Abram G. Nesbitt in 1920, succeeded his father as Presi- 
dent of what has grown to be the largest National Bank in 
Luzerne County. Identified, as was the elder Nesbitt, with 
a wide field of industrial enterprizes, he has taken part in the 
active management of many of them. In the matter of quiet 
unobtrusive giving, he has generously preserved family tradi- 
tions. His gift of a substantial sum made possible a new and 
completely equipped building and workshop of the Blind 
Association of Wilkes-Barre. 

In 1922, as has been mentioned, he gave to Wyoming 
Seminary the substantially appointed athletic grounds known 
as the George F. Nesbitt Memorial Field. His offer to purchase 
a considerable acreage of the Shoemaker tract adjoining the 
river frontage donated by Abram Nesbitt. to be added to the 
park system of Wilkes-Barre, was deferred only by the necessity 
of legal means of acquiring title to the tract. Indeed Abram d. 
Nesbitt gave every evidence of filling the place of his father in 
many sided affairs of the community. His death occurred 
in 1925. 

R.\LPH Nesbitt, born January 9, 1869, died February 18, 

Mrs. Sarah Nesbitt Smvthe, born September 12, 1872, 
died January 4, 1918. 

Frederick Nesbitt, sixth and youngest child of Abram 
and Sara M. (Goodwin) Nesbitt, was born in Kingston , 
Wednesday, June 23, 1875. In the autumn of 1892 he entered 
the Freshman class of Lafayette College and b^ecame active in 
many phases of college life. He continued as a student at 
Lafayette until February, 1896 — about the middle of his 
Senior year — when, a good opportunity for engaging in business 
being brought to his attention, he gave up his studies, and, in 
partnership with other business men there, he purchased a property in Easton and organized The Easton Foundry 
and Machine Company. In this business he continued until the time of his death, June 24, 1911 

Abram G. Nesbitt 


has been compelled for many years past to turn away scores of prospective 
students. Its enrollment of 701 students in 1923 measured the limit of capacity. 
Plans calling for the erection of Sprague Hall at a cost of $250,000.00 have reached 
such an encouraging stage of progress that the proposed building should be under 
way as a fitting close to the eightieth year of usefulness of the institution. 

A pamphlet mailed to alumni and setting forth the needs of the new 
building epitomises the underlying reasons for naming the structure in honor 
of Dr. Sprague as follows: 

"Sprague Hall will be not so much a monument to Ur. Sprague's life, as it will be an ex- 
pression of the gratitude of the men and women who have been influenced by his life. He has 
already erected a monument ' more lasting than fine bronze' in the lives and hearts of men, but 
the friends of Wyoming Seminary need to proclaim to the world by a fitting Sprague memorial 
that such a life cannot be lived without proper recognition. 

"In all the years ahead, Sprague Hall will be one of the most serviceable buildings to be 
found on the campus and it is the dominant desire of every one who is at all acquainted with the 
facts that this Hall shall be in all its appointments a fitting testimonial to the peerless leadership 
of our good friend who for fifty-eight years has served the institution we all love as student, 
as professor and as President." 

In concluding a Chapter devoted, in the main, to a narrative of events 
of civic importance to a community beginning to find itself, as was Wilkes-Barre 
in the period roughly outlined between the dates 1830-1850, mention is in order 
of the Wyoming Artillerists, an organization which brought much honor to the 
community through its active service in the Mexican w^ar and was again to re- 
ceive a baptism of blood in the greater conflict of the Civil war. As early as 
1831 there was a company of that name in Wilkes-Barre. From the files of the 
Susquehanna Democrat of May 27th of that year, the following is taken: 

"At a meeting of signers to the articles to organize an Artillery Company to be called the 
Wyoming Artillerists, held at the house of J. J. Dennis, on the 14 inst., it was resolved to adjourn 
to Saturday the 28th instant, at 6 o'clock P. M., at the house of J. J. Dennis to determine on 
uniform. Punctual attendance is requested by the committee. 

"Ira Ash 

"Joseph P. Dennis." 

As but few references can be found to the organization in years immed- 
iately succeeding, it is evident that not much interest followed on the part of 
members nor was much recognition accorded it on the part of the public. The 
early forties proved a period of the organization or reorganization of many 
military and quasi-military bodies in the county. They were loosely cemented 
companies, assuming but few^ responsibilities and viewing their military duties 
without great seriousness. The State attempted to hold these units together 
by skeleton regiments and brigades, but wars and the rumor of wars seemed far 
removed from a district from which no troops had been called to active duty 
since 1814. 

The annual training day was one of revelry and confusion. In a small 
pubhcation which he called the Record of the Wyoming Artillerists published 
in 1874, Col. D. C. Kitchen thus described one of these occasions: 

"The old Red Tavern, in Hanover Township, on the road leading to Nanticoke, was the 
early training ground. Here the young men assembled on the first Monday in May for inspection 
and drill. Wilkesbarre was divided into two companies, those south of Market street being 
known as the 'Bloody Eight,' which numbered about 800 rank and file and such a motley mass 
could have done no discredit to Falstaff's famous regiment, yet it was only a type of the fighting 
material which this great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania annually paraded for the delight of 
little boys and as a huge joke for the public generally. The one redeeming feature was the gorg- 
eous array in which the field officers displayed themselves, regardless of good sense or good taste ; 
why, a circus of the present day was nothing to it. These trainings always happened after corn 
planting time, when the lads who had followed the furrow and swung the hoe had money to pay 
the fiddler, buy the girls cake and beer, and invest in the French bank or 'sweat.' and they were 
always arranged so as not to interfere with each other. This gave the fiddlers, gamblers, showmen 
and peddlers the benefit of a full harvest. The parade ground was a lot adjoining the church near 


by. In the tavern all the rooms were appropriated to dancing and drinking. In each was a plat- 
form, on which was perched a man with a fiddle and a boy with a tambourine, making screeching 
music while the lads and lassies caused the 'double shuffle' and 'pigeon wing' in 'straight fours' 
and 'French fours' to the tunes of 'Money Musk' and the 'Irish Washerwoman.' 

"All this was preliminary to the organization of the famous Wyoming Artillerists, and in 
the light of subsequent events was just what was needed to develop the patriotism necessary for 
the formation of the company. Gen. Isaac Bowman, the father of Maj. F. L. Bowman and Col. 
Samuel Bowman, was the leading military spirit. He was not only an ardent friend to the volun- 
teer system, but he had given his sons a thorough training and imbued them with something of 
his own enthusiasm." 

In 1841, ten years after its organization, a few surviving members sought 
to reorganize the company in order to have it participate in the spring encampment 
of the next year. Into this task Captain Francis L. Bowman threw himself 
with customary zeal. The uniform selected was patterned aftcx" a Light Artil- 
lery uniform of the regular army and consisted of a dark blue cutaway coat, 
light blue trousers piped with red. A red cap with white plume completed the 
apparel. Captain Bowman secured a promise from the state to furnish muskets 
for the company as soon as it could be mustered into the militia. The company's 
muster roll at training day of that year showed the following officers and enlisted 

men in the organization: 

"Captain, Francis L. Bowman; First Lieutenant, Edmund L. Dana; Second Lieutenant. 
Martin Long; Third Lieutenant, Aaron Brown; First Sergeant, E. B. CoUings; Third Sergeant, 
William Sharpe; First Corporal, William Dickover; Second Corporal, G. H. Davis; Third 
Corporal, John Wolf; Fourth Corporal, John Millhirsh; Musicians, Gilbert Barnes, Peter Kropp, 
Thomas Hay. 

"Privates, Adam Behee, Jacob Bauer, John C. Frederick, William H. Jones, Daniel Wagner, 
I. M. Fritz, Con Tippenhauer, Andrew Kessler, J. H. Robins, Augustus Schimpf, Conrad Klipple, 
John B. Smith, William Hunter, J. S. Mickley, J. P. Puterbaugh, Anthony Mowery, Francis 
Brown, S. A, Lynch, David Fry, Ed LeClerc, Valentine Flick, Samuel Bowman, William B. Maloy, 
Joseph Mowrey." 

"Additional names in another roll, Julv, 1842: 

"Ernest Roth, M. B. Hammer, B. R. Phillips, Charles Lehman, C. B. Price, W. H. Alex- 
ander, G. L. Jackson, Charles Westfield, Abram Moxby, E. P. Lynch." 

The company appears to have made satisfactory progress in drill as may 

be judged from the following mention in the Republican Farmer of February 1, 


"The 'Wyoming Artillerists' under Capt. F. L. Bowman, made their first public parade on 
Saturday last. They numbered about thirty muskets, and performed their evolutions with 
remarkable correctness and precision. Their uniform is got up with a good deal of taste. If 
this company carries out the promise of its commencement, it will be indeed a credit to the place." 

The Artillerists were next accounted for at an encampment held on the 
Kingston fiats in the autumn of 1843, participated in by militia units from Luz- 
erne, Columbia and Wyoming counties. Colonel Kitchen's booklet contains 

the following description of that event: 

"Gen. E. W. Sturdevant, Col. Charles Dorrance and Maj. George F. Slocum were the field 
officers, and Capt. Francis L. Bowman was elected inspector with the rank of major. During 
the encampment the officers gave the country folks an illustration of military discipline. Private 
Conrad Tipplehauer was tried and convicted before a drum head court martial for stealing cheese 
and was sentenced to be shot. The news spread throughout the valley, and at the appointed hour 
for the execution an immense crowd had collected to witness it. Tippenhauer was placed in 
the centre of a hollow square and marched to the place of execution. 'There was the wailing of 
the dead march,' says the historian, 'and the solemnly suggestive roll of muffled drums.' The 
farce was made to appear so real that tender hearted maidens sobbed aloud, while stalwart country- 
men swore it was a 'danged shame to shoot a poor feller jest for stealin' a bit of cheese.' Tippen- 
hauer was shot, fell over and apparently dropped dead. Next day he appeared in the parade, 
however, and the people who had witnessed the affair realized that they had been duped." 

The causes of the Mexican war are deeper than the question of the annex- 
ation of Texas. Due to frequent uprisings of revolutionary character, the 
United States had presented many claims against the government of Mexico for 
damages done to property of Americans and in reparation for the violent treat- 
ment of American citizens. The American element which had taken part in 
wresting Texas from Mexico were set on annexation at any cost. In 1845, 


Texas had been a republic for nine years and had been so recognized by most 
of the countries of the world. But when President Polk indicated to congress 
that he would not veto any measure that might grant the annexation requests 
of Texas, Mexico forthwith sent notification that the consent of the United 
States in this direction would be regarded by her as a casus belli. Notwith- 
standing this attitude, Congress by resolution on March 1, 1845, passed the an- 
nexation act. The Mexican minister was withdrawn, but it looked for a time 
as if peace might be maintained even under these strained relationships. A 
strip of territory between the Neuces and Rio Grand was to cause the final break 
between the two nations and be the scene of the first bloodshed. Mexico held 
that this strip had never belonged to Texas, and could therefore under no circum- 
stance pass to the United States. The American government held otherwise, 
and extended its revenue laws to the strip. General Arista with a Mexican 
force and Gen. Zacharary Taylor with a force of some 2,000 Americans approached 
the strip from opposite directions. With t.hese forces in proximity, conflict was 
inevitable. On April 24th, a force of Mexicans crossed the disputed river near 
Matamoros and defeated a detachment of Taylor's dragoon. News of this en- 
gagement reached Washington early in May and on the 11th, President Polk 
went before Congress with a war message. No formal declaration of war followed, 
but Congress, two days later, voted men and money for defense of the country. 
■Many months were to follow before any definite war policy took shape and, as 
yet no volunteers had been called into service. By the fall of 1846, it became 
apparent as to what were the President's intentions. General Kearney with a 
small force seized Santa Fe and brought all New Mexico under subjection. 
Commodore Sloat took possession of upper California. General Taylor made his 
way slowly into the interior of Mexico, eventually reaching Monterey. Final 
efforts to arrange a satisfactory peace in the spring of 1846 failed. Moreover a 
revolution in Mexico had restored vSanta Anna and his war party to power. 
It then became clearly apparent that American forces would be compelled to 
reduce the capital to subjection before peace came. In August, 1846, the Presi- 
dent called upon the States for quotas of troops to carry out this purpose. 

In November, the Governor designated the quota of Luzerne County and 
a few days later Captain Dana was handed the following communication on 
the part of his company: 

"To E. L. Dana, 

"Capt'n Wyoming Artillerists, 

The undersigned members of the Wyoming Artillerists report themselves to you in readi- 
ness to enter the service for the ^Mexican War, whenever your orders therefor may be received 
agreeably to General orders No. 6 of the date of Nov. 18, 1846. 

E. L. Dana Geo. CoUings John Smith 

J. W. Myers Edward M. Flynt Patrick Ring 

Jno. B. Vaughn E. B. Collings John Sisk 

D. R. S. Whitzell F. L. Bowman John Frace 

H. T. Vaughn, providing the C. W. Lutes John Sliker 

Co. is called on. D. C. Kitchen James Smith 

Hiram Spencer Geo. F. Slocum " James H. Stephens 

Wm. St. John, providing the A. J. Baldwin William Spencer 

Co. is called on. A. D. Jones Wilson E. vSistz 

A. H. Goff George W. Fell Chas. Seefrit 

H. Titus E. L. Cooper Walsingham G. Ward 

Chas. Bennet John Howard Hemzah Hovenbrot 

Wallace Belding William Demorest Thompson Price 

WiUiam Huffman J. W. Potter Nicholas Fell 

M. M. DeBurger, Carbondale James B. Clark Thomas Huffman 

Edward Hughes Patrick O'Brien Samuel Wiggins 

Bernard Hose William Vaudenbark John Pittinger 


T. S. Hillard 
William A. Drips 
David H. Hamarell 
Joel Smith 
Arnold C. Lewis 
A. Beaumont. Jr 
Sm. S. Kutz 
O. P. Hart 
Frederick Lehman 

Samuel Hunt 
Charles Johnson 
Hiram Moore 
Wm. Willis 
James McGinnis 
Patrick Fling 
Chas. H. Lacye 
James F. Dill 
Granius Able 

Wm. H. F. Owen 
Patrick Fallon 
Uriah Bonham 
Patrick O'Donnell 
Charles Tripp 
H. S. Larrison 
John Smith 
James Megan 
Gershom B. Vangordon' 


/^'f- .r'. 


Wyoming Artillerists Emlistment Roll 

Captain Dana lost no time in getting this application to Harrisburg and 
on November 29, 1846, he had the satisfaction of issuing instruction to the com- 
pany in this form: 

"By this morning's mail I have the acceptance by the Governor of the 
Wyoming Artillerists as one of the ten companies forming a regiment required 
of Pennsvlvania to serve to the end of the War with Mexico unless sooner dis- 

The 6th of December, 1846, was set for the company's departure. Major 
Bowman, whose interest in the company had not abated, now found himself 
out of it. He held a staff position in the state but was no longer on the roll of 
the Artillerists. With characteristic energy he resigned his staff commission 
and enlisted with his old command. 

Captain Dana immediately appointed him to a vacancy in the list of first 
lieutenants and the local company had the satisfaction of seeing him elected 
major of the regiment when the whole command was assembled at Pittsburg. 

Days preceding the departure of the Artillerists from Wilkes-Barre were 
filled with excitement and interspersed with many functions arranged in honor 
of the company. Headquarters were established at the Dennis hotel. At a 
farewell dinner given at the Phoenix hotel, Captain Dana was presented with a 
handsome sword. 

The morning of the 6th dawned black and dreary and a heavy snow storm 
enveloped the command as it was mustered on Franklin street. From here. 
Captain Dana marched his men to Old Ship Zion, where services had been 


arranged and where an overflow crowd had gathered. Dr. Thomas W. Miner 
preached a fareweU sermon, goodbyes were hastily said and the men marched 
to a packet boat anchored in the Hollenback basin of the canal. 

The complete muster roll of the Artillerists is given below. Those mentioned 
as recruits at the foot of the roll did not leave Wilkes-Barre with the command 
but joined it later in Mexico as replacements: 

"Roll of officers and men of Company 'I' First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, 
who served in the war with Mexico: 

Captain Edmund L. Dana, returned with the company. 
1st Lieutenant, E. B. Collings, discharged at Vera Cruz. 
1st Lieutenant, F. L. Bowman, elected major. 
2d Lieutenant, A. H. Goff, killed at Pcrote. 
2d Lieutenant, Jacob Waelder, returned with the company. 

1st Sergeant, Arnold C. Lewis, appointed 2d Lieutenant returned with the comj^any. 
2d Sergeant, Joseph W. Potter, discharged at Perote. 
3d Sergeant, Dominick Devanny, returned with the company. 
4th Sergeant, Joseph W. Miner, elected 1st Lieutenant. 

1st Corporal, \Vm. H. Beaumont, api)ointed 1st Sergeant, returned with the company. 
2d Corporal, D. W. Kitchin, wounded at Cerro Gordo, and discharged. 
3d Corporal, Charles W. Stout, appointed lieutenant, 1 1th infantry. 
4th Corporal, John B. Vaughn, discharged at Jalapa. 
Drummer, Wilson B. Connor, discharged. 
Fifer, Wallace J. Belding, discharged. 


1. Grandison Abel, returned with the company. 

2. Joseph Alward, returned with the company. 

3. John Barnes, left sick at Cincinnati. 

4. Alfred Bentley, died at Jalapa. 

5. Luke Burke, returned with the company. 

6. Obed C. Burden, returned with the comi)any. 

7. W'illiam Bachman. 

S. Lloyd M. Colder, died at Perote. 

9. George Collings, appointed corporal, returned with the company. 

10. Jacob L. Cooper, returned with the company. 

11. Wm. H. CarkhulT, died at Perote. 

12. James F. Dill, died at Perote. 

13. Thomas G. Dripps, appointed sergeant, returned with the company. 

14. M. M. Deberger, discharged at Vera Cruz. 

15. John C. Drinkhouse, discharged at Vera Cruz. 

16. James Ellis, discharged at Vera Cruz, June, 1848. 

17. Levi Emery, returned with the company. 

18. George W. Fell, returned with the company 

19. Luke Floyd, wounded, and returned with the company. 

20. Samuel Fox, discharged at Jalapa. 

21. Frederick Funk, returned with the company. 

22. Joseph C. Garey, discharged at Vera Cruz. 
2?i. Patrick Gilroy, discharged at Vera Cruz. 

24. Aaron Gangawcre, returned with the company. 

25. Magnes Gonerman, died at Perote. 

26. John Goodermooth, died at Puebla. 

27. Henry Hernbroad. 

28. Peter Hine, discharged at Vera Cruz. 

29. Nathaniel G. Harvey, died at Perote. 

30. Alexander Huntington, returned with the company. 

31. John Hunt, discharged at Jalapa. 

32. John Howard, returned with the company. 

33. David H. Howard, returned with the company. 

34. Anthony Haberholt, returned with the company. 

35. Charles Johnson, returned with the company. 

36. Patrick King, returned with the company. 

37. Lyman C. Kidder, discharged at Jalapa. 

38. Frederick Lehman, discharged at Vera Cruz. 

39. Joseph Leopard, returned with the company. 

40. Samuel A. Lewis, returned with the company. 

41. Charles W. Lutes, discharged at Vera Cruz. 

42. John W. Myers, died at Perote. 

43. John Morehouse, returned with the company. 

44. David R. Morrison, killed at the battle of Cernj Gordo. 

45. Walker B. Miller, discharged at Vera Cruz. 

46. Samuel Marks, returned with the company. 


47. John B. Price, died at Jalapa. 

48. John Preece, killed at siege of Puebla. 

49. Jules Phillips, returned with the company. 

50. Isaac Rothermell, died at Vera Cruz. 

51. James W. Rigg, returned with the company. 

52. John Shadell, returned with the company. 

53. Levi H. Stevens, returned with the company. 

54. James Stevens, discharged at Vera Cruz, wounded. 

55. John Swan, returned with the company. 

56. Hiram Sp ncer, discharged at Perote. 

57. John Sliker, died at Perote. 

58. James Sliker, returned with the company 

59. Thompson Price, discharged. 

60. Wilson E. Sisty, discharged at Perote. 

61. Charles Tripp, died at siege of Puebla. 

62. George Tanner, died at Perote. 

63. Wilham C. Toby, discharged at Jalapa. 

64. John Smith, died at Perote. 

65. Norman Vanwinkle, discharged at Perote. 

66. Holdin P. Vaughn, discharged at Jalapa. 

67. Gershon B. Vangordon, died at Perote, May 25, 1847. 

68. Edmund W. Wandell, returned with the company. 

69. Walsingham G. Ward, discharged at Vera Cruz, April 3, 1847. 

70. Thomas G. Wilson, died at Jalapa, May 20, 1847. 

71. WiUiam Vanderberg, returned with the company. 

72. William H. Whitaker, returned with the company. 

73. Thomas J. Wright, returned with the company. 

74. Armon Westhoren, returned with the company. 

75. Daniel W. Witzell, returned with the company. 

76. William T. Wilson, returned with the company. 

77. Daniel W. Yarlott, returned with the company. 

78. William Diamond, discharged at New Orleans. January 16, 1847. 

79. Elias Klinger, died at sea, January 31, 1847. 

80. Patrick O'Donnell, died at New Orleans, January 2, 1847. 

81. Samuel Knorr, lost; supposed killed at National Bridge, January, 1847. 


82. Augustus Ehles, returned with the company. 

83. Landlin Fist, returned with the company, 

84. John Gaul, returned with the company. 

85. Charles Gordon, returned with the company. 

86. Ernest Gordon, returned with the company. 

87. William Hillsman, returned with the company. 

88. Frederick Musler, returned with the company. 

89. John McKeoun, returned with the company. 

90. Anthony Vernet, returned with the company. 

91. Michael Wolstein, returned with the ompany. 

92. Henry Wehle, returned with the company. 

93. Adam Robinholt, died on Ohio River, July 13, 1848. 

94. George O'Craft, lost, July 3, 1848; supposed drowned. 

Total 109; of whom 51 returned with the company." 

The following account of the campaign experiences of the Artillerists, 
was published in 1860 by Pearce in his Annals of Luzerne County. As they were 
fresh in mind at the time and were gathered from reliable sources by that his- 
torian, the present writer quotes them at length: 

"The company was transported to Pittsburgh by canal, where it remained long enough to 
complete its equipment, and be mustered into the service of the United States as a part of the 
1st Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, to serve during the war. This company was desig- 
nated T in the regiment; and after fillin',' the vacancy occasioned by the election of Major 
Bowman, started for New Orleans on the 22d of December, 1846, on board the steamer St. Anthony. 
After their arrival, they encamped on the Old Battle Ground, about 7 miles below the city, where 
they remained until the 16th of January, 1847. On that day they sailed in the ship Russell 
Glover, with three other companies, and were conveyed to the Island of Lobos (Wolf Island), 
which they reached February 1st. The passage to this point was stormy and tedious. The ship 
is represented to have been a miserable transport; and 400 men were compelled to live below 
ahtches in a crowded, suffocating space, for a period of two weeks, with little light, fresh air, or 
comfort of any kind. The island where they landed is about 12 miles from the Mexican coast, 
and 120 miles north of Vera Cruz. It is about one mile in circumference, and was covered with 
a thick growth of chaparral; and the water used by the trooi^s for cooking was of a brackish 
character, being sea-water filtered through the sand. The United States forces had not been a 
week on this island before they were attacked by disease. The Mississippi Regiment became 


infected by mumps, and, it is said, they lost six men per day during their stay on Lobos. Small- 
pox next made its appearance in the 2d Pennsylvania Regiment. 

" March 3d, the company left Lobos and sailed for Anton Lizardo, 9 miles below Vera Cruz, 
where they arrived two days later. On the 9th of March, a landing was effected on the Mexican 
coast, at a point 3 miles south of Vera Cruz. The fleet had hardly swung to its cables, when 
General Worth's division, with wonderful celerity, filled the surf-boats, and, at a signal from the 
ship of the commander-in-chief, darted for the shore. By nine o'clock of the night of that day 
12,000 men had landed without firing a gun, and were marshalled within 2 miles of the city. 

"After resting that night on the beach, the army commenced the next morning its march 
through the thick chaparral and sand-hills, for the investment of Vera Cruz. The day was in- 
tensely hot, and many men were striken down by sun stroke. To add to their sufferings, they 
dared not drink the water of the springs of the country; for a report was abroad that they were 
poisoned by the enemy. It was the fortune of the Wyoming Artillerists to receive the first fire 
of the Mexicans. Passing through the chaparral by a narrow path, along the base of a gen le 
declivity, the enemy poured their fire upon them, when the company was halted, and delivered 
their own with admirable coolness. The enemy fled to the city. The company participated 
actively in the investment of the place, and were engaged throughout the siege. The trenches 
were opened on the 22d, and after a terrible storm of iron had been blown on the city for a few 
days and nights, it surrendered to the American army on the 29th of March, 1847. 

" In April, the volunteer division left the city for the interior, under the command of Major- 
General Patterson. Having arrived at Place del Rio, 50 miles from Vera Cruz, they found General 
Twiggs with his division of regulars already there. The Mexicans, under General Santa Anna, 
were strongly posted in the pass of Cerro Gordo. On the morning of the 18th of April, the American 
army attacked the Mexican lines. The volunteer brigade formed the left wing, under the command 
of General Pillow, to which the Wyoming Artillerists were attached. The brigade took a position 
within 200 yards of the Mexican batteries, which opened upon them a tremendous fire of grape. 
The Wyoming boys suffered but slightly; but the 2d Tennesseean Regiment, occupying more 
elevated ground, suffered severely, and General Pillow himself was wounded. In twenty minutes 
the line of attack was completed, and the brigade moved forward towards the batteries The 
Mexicans now displayed the white flag from their defences, for their left wing had been completely 
routed by the forces under General Twiggs, Shields, Worth and Quitman. The fruits of this 
victory were 3000 prisoners, 5000 stand of arms, 43 cannon, the money-chest of the Mexican 
army, containing $20,000, and a free passage for the army into the interior of the enemy's country. 
In this action David R. Morrison, of the Wyoming Company, was killed, and corporal Kitchen 

"After the battle, the volunteer force encamped 3 miles west of Jalapa, where they re- 
mained about three weeks. They were then ordered to Perote, a place about 35 miles west of 
Jalapa, on the main road to the capital. Here they took up their quarters in the celebrated castle 
of Perote, and formed its garrison. The period of their stay here was the most melancholy of 
the whole campaign, for the burial of the dead was the principal feature of their soldier life. 

"Typhus fever, broke out and made fearful havoc in their ranks. For many weeks was 
heard, almost constantly, the melancholy strains of the dead march accompanying their mess- 
mates to lonely and forgotten graves. It was a joyful day when they received orders to leave 
the gloomy castle and dreary plains of Perote. About the 2d of July they marched for the city 
of Puebla. On the night of the 4th, when the soldiers had taken to their blankets, the camp was 
alarmed by an attack on the pickets, which were driven in. Satisfied with this the enemy retired. 

"Having reached El Pinal, or the Black Pass, General Pillow anticipated a fight, for the 
enemy were posted there, prepared to dispute the passage. The Wyoming boys formed part of 
the storming party, and behaved gallantly; but when the light troops had scaled the heights 
commanding the gorge, the Mexicans abandoned their position, and fled. 

"On the 7th of July, they approached the fine old city of Puebla. Here General Scott, 
by the first of August, had concentrated about 1 1,000 men of all arms. On the 7th of that month 
the army left Puebla for the city of Mexico. The Wyoming company, with five others of the 1st 
Pennsylvania Regiment, remained behind, constituting, with a company of United States ar- 
tillery, and one of cavalry, the garrison of Puebla. They were about 600 men, under the command 
of Colonel Childs. To this small force was intrusted the charge of 2000 sick men, and an immense 
amount of government property. The pojiulation of the city was turbulent and warlike, and 
evinced an uncompromising hostility towards the Americans. The place now was besieged by 
the Mexicans, who harassed the garrison, day and night, with alarms and attacks. This continued 
for forty days; but our men, occupying strong and favorable positions, maintained their ground 
and the enemy failed so far as not to succeed in driving in a single sentinel. 

' ' In this siege John Priest was kifled in an engagement with guerillas, outside the city walls. 
Luke Floyd, a brave old soldier, who, with Priest, was a member of the Wyoming company, 
was severely wounded. 

"The arrival of General Lane, with 3000 men, on the 12th of October, put an end to the 
siege. In this arrival there were four companies of the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment, which had 
been left in garrison at Perote. They had participated in the fight at Huamantla, under the 
command of Major F. L. Bowman, of Wilkesbarre. His conduct on this occasion was highly 
spoken of by all who witnessed it. Not long after the raising of the siege the regiment, now 
united, left Puebla, and, on the 7th of December, 1847, arrived in the city of Mexico, where they 
remained about two weeks. They were then quartered at San Angel, 7 miles from the city, until 
the treaty pf peace, in June, 1848. 

"They now returned to their country at New Orleans, and passing up the Mississippi and 
Ohio to Pittsburgh, they were honorably discharged at that place, and mustered out of service 


by reason of the expiration of the term of enlistment, July 24, 1848. 

"The Columbia Guards, of Danville, Pennsylvania, constituting a portion of the 2d Regi- 
ment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, was composed in part of volunteers from Luzerne County, 
under Edward E. Leclerc, of Wilkesbarre, who was elected 2d lieutenant of the company. Among 
the names of privates who united with the Guards under Lieutenant Leclerc, were Norman B. 
Mack, Peter Brobst, Abram B. Carley, Randolph Ball, George Garner, Oliver Helme, Joseph H. 
Stratton, William Kutz and William White. 

"On the return of the volunteers to their homes, they were greeted at every point by the 
enthusiastic demonstrations of the people, who welcomed them with shouts and the roar of ar- 
tillery. When the Wyoming troops reached the valley, they found Wilkesbarre crowded with 
citizens from the country round about, and extensive preparations made to receive them in a 
becoming manner. While the body of the people manifested their rejoicings in tumultous shouts 
and with the thunder of guns, the relatives and friends of the returned soldiers met them with 
tears of joy, and the demonstrations of deep and quiet affection." 

In connection with the valor of services rendered by the Artillerists, a 
letter from Major Bowman to friends at home created great public enthusiasm 
and paved the way for a magnificent reception on their behalf w.hen the war was 
concluded. In part the letter is as follows: 

"San Angel, 26 Jan'y, 1848. 
"To J. P. Dennis, A. Yobe and Milton Dana. 

"My dear boys: * * * j ^m pleased to see that the honors won by our boys are par- 
ticipated in by their friends at home. * * * 

" The honor of old Wyoming could not have been placed in better hands than the Artillerists. 
In all of my letters home I have spoken of their will 'to do and to dare'. I felt confident of them 
before they were tried, but did not know than men could be so recklessly brave. The greatest 
fault found with them at the siege of Puebla, by Col. Childs, was their frequent careless exposure 
to the fire of the enemy. No company in the army bears a higher reputation for bravery. Wyoming 
may well be proud of her Artillerists. * * * 

"About one quarter of our Co. 'I' are dead, and more than that number discharged. 
Those that are left are hardy, jovial, and ripe for any expedition. * * * [ ij],^ these boys. 
I love a brave man. 

" F. L. Bowman." 

As early as the first of July, 1848, preparations were being made in all the 
settlements of the Wyoming Valley for a gat.hering, in celebration of the return 
of survivors of the Artillerists, such as had never before been witnessed. Couriers 
brought news of approaching packet boats which were bringing forward the 
veterans and their baggage from Pittsburg. At Bloomsburg, July 29th the packets 
were met by a delegation of local citizens, accompanied by a band. If an ovation 
attended them at all points along the line of approach, it was to be outdone as 
the boats entered the confines of Luzerne County. Shortly before noon, July 30, 
1848, the boats reached the receiving lock above Nanticoke. Triumphal progress 
was made to a basin of the canal near vSouth street, thousands of men and women 
trudging along the tow path as the boats advanced. Previous to their arrival, 
an arch had been erected across Franklin street in front of the home of Captain 
Dana. A huge bower of flowers and greenery had likewise overspread a portion 
of the Ross lawn on vSouth Main street the formal program of welcome was 
to find expression. 

All military, civic, fraternal and religious bodies of the community were 

represented in a procession which started immediately tipon disembarkment 

of the Artillerists. President Judge John N. Conyngham was selected to deliver 

the address of welcome. Captain Dana made the response. A barbecue and feast 

of unprecedented proportions closed a day that brought gladness to many families 

of the veterans and revived the heartaches of many more. In writing from 

memory of the event, in his Some Early Recollections, hereinbefore mentioned, the 

Hon. George R. Bedford recalled the following circumstances of the day: 

" I came to know Wilkesbarre fairly well early in life and when the town had a popu- 
lation of less than three thousand, but was the centre of influence, social and civil, for all North- 
eastern Pennsylvania. 


"As already stated, I was a frequent visitor at the nearby villages of Kingston and Plym- 
outh, and I also visited relatives who lived in Wilkcsbarre. 

"I well remember the year 1848 

because of an experience which made 
a never-to-be-forgotten imj^ression 
upon my boyish mind. That year 
marked the close of the Mexican War, 
and in July the company of soldiers 
known as the 'Wyoming Artillerists,' 
under the command of Captain Kd- 
mund Iv. Dana, who had gone from 
Wilkesbarre and served during the 
campaign under Major General Win- 
field Scott, returned home and was 
warmly welcomed by a turnout of 
practically the whole valley. 

"Captain Dana's company ar- 
rived in canal packet boats, debarked 
along Canal Street, now Pennsylvania 
avenue, near South street, and was met 
by all the military organizations of the 
valley, commanded by their regimental 
officers. The reception and parade 
were followed by an address of wel- 
come by President Judge Conyngham. 
An evergreen arch of welcome spanned 
Franklin street in front of Captain 
Dana's home, a frame building on the 
site of the present church rectory, 
next St. Stephen's church." 

2d Lt. Wm. Ridale, Wyoming Artillerists, IS35 

(Showing type of Officers Uniform of Mexican War ) 

The tattered battle flag of 
the Artillerists, carried through- 
out the Mexican campaign and which was borne in the procession which 
marked their return, has fortunately been preserved. It is now a treasured 
possession of the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society and is on exhibit- 
ion in its rooms. In a recent communication to the Society, Mrs. vSarah I. Camp, 
(nee Allabach) gives the following information as to the history of these colors 
of the Artillerists: 

"The flag which my father, Peter A. Allabach of Wilkes- Barre, carried 
in the Mexican War is the actual flag now in your possession. He lived on 
Bowman Hill with his parents. When a youth he enlisted and went to ^vlexico 
as color bearer. At the battle of Chapulchepec, he placed this flag on the top 
of highest point of Chapulchepec. Other engagements in which he carried the 
colors were Palo Alto, Monteray, Cerro Gordo, Contreras and Cherubusco." 



Come, I will make the continent 

I will make the most splendid race the 

sun ever shone upon, 
I will make divine magnetic lands, 

With the love of comrades, 

With the life-long love of comrades, 
I will plant companionship thick as trees 

along all the rivers of America, and 

along the shores of the great lakes, and 

all over the prairies, 
I will make inseparable cities with their 

arms about each other's necks, 

By the love of comrades, 

By the manly love of comrades. 

— Bv Walt Whitinau. 

In addressing himself to a period, roughly speaking, from 1840 to 1860 
various unusual impressions will be gained by a student of the history of Wyoming. 
The old order was changing. From an agricultural community of small settle- 
ments, the picture gradually evolves itself into an industrial community of 
crowded and, in many cases, unsightly municipalities. For the once neglected 
and unharnessed Stone Coal of previous decades was to be crowned King. 

The effect of this coronation on the once peaceful landscape, which had 
so often tempted the descriptive pen of scribe and poet, was not greater than 
a change wrought in the character of a population, which was to assist in the 

Many other communities of a new country shared a like fate. Where 
industry settled by choice or by necessity upon a district, the face of things was 

If that industry was coal, men must be found to mine it. And families 
of these men followed the toiler wherever employment offered. 

Necessities of the infant anthracite industry beckoned to all who would 
share the fortunes of that enterprise. They came from East and North and vSouth, 
did those familiar with mining, and from the isles of the sea and populous dis- 
tricts of Europe. 



To supply the needs and luxuries of living of those employed in this occu- 
pation, there followed those of commercial training as well as those engaged in 
rendering professional and other services, just as sutlers follow an advancing army. 

It is true that these changes were not thrust upon the community suddenly 
or with particularly noticeable effect in any single decade. They began to be 
notiqed when transportation to and from the community was made easier in 
the stage coach era. Other elements of population filtered in during the con- 
struction period of the community's canal system. vStill other elements appeared 
in the wake of railroad building. But back and through all these eras of growth 
was the insistent call of the great fundamental industry of the Wyoming Valley 
having root in its underground treasures of anthracite. 

At the time of the Revolution, there was a definite American population 
in the country generally, knit together by over two centuries of toil in the hard 
school of frontier life. They were inspired by common political purposes, spoke 
the same language, acknowledged one sovereignty and complied with the man- 
dates of one common law. Through these influences they became a nation. 

For nearly half a century thereafter, this original stock was comparatively 
free from admixture. It is estimated that between the first census of 1790 and 
that of 1820, only 250,000 immigrants came to America. The great bulk of 
these came after the War of 1812. The white population in 1820 was 7,862,166. 
In ten years it had risen to 10,537,378. This amazing increase, however, was 
due rather to the fecundity of native stock than to immigration. The pathfinder 
was composed almost exclusively of that stock. States admitted to the union 
prior to 1840 were not only founded by them but were almost wholly settled 
by this element. 

When the first noticeable influx of foreign born began in the thirties, they 
found these trails blazed, municipalities established and the first terrors of the 
wilderness dispelled. 

In 1900, the Census Bureau estimated that there were living in the United 

States, 35,000,000 white people descended from persons enumerated in 1790. 

Of these 35,000,000, if the proportions of ancestry of 1790 still held good, the 

result would appear as follows : 

English 28,738,000 

Scotch 2,450,000 

Irish 665,000 

Dutch 875,000 

French 2 10.000 

. German 1,960,000 

All Others 105,000 

In 1900, there were also 32,000,000 descendants of white persons who had 
reached the United States after the first census, yet of these over 20,000,000 were 
either foreign born or children of those born abroad. 

No records of immigration were kept by the government until the year 
1819 when collectors of customs were directed to submit records of such arrivals 
to the Secretary of State. These records disclose that in 1820, 8,385 aliens 
arrived, of whom 3,614 came from Ireland. Until 1850 this proportion of Irish 
immigrants to the whole was maintained. 

In fact, this striking showing of one people in the mass of new seekers 
for homes in America was the first noticeable ground swell of alien born population. 
Since records were kept, over four and a quarter million Irish immigrants have 
found their way hither. 


The discontent of this element had a striking background in their own 
country. Famine, rebelhon, restrictive legislation and absentee landlordism 
were the four fundamentals which caused migration. Even before the first 
census many had arrived. Thus we find St. Patrick's Day observed in Boston 
in 1737. Many of that stock were naturally found as officers and soldiers in 
the Revolutionary War. Unskilled, as a rule in handicraft, the great majority 
of arrivals in the thirties and later were forced to take jobs as laborers. In this 
capacity they first reached the Wyoming Valley in numbers during the period 
of canal building. 

As the Irish wave of immigration receded, the Teutonic tide set in. In a 
work on the subject edited by Samuel P. Orth, published among the Yale Classics, 
an interesting reference is made to a w4de difference in characteristics which 
marked the product of these succeeding waves. 

"A greater ethical contrast" says this authority, "could scarcely be im- 
agined than that which was now afforded the plegmatic, plodding German and 
the vibrant Irish, a contrast in American life as a whole which was soon repre- 
sented in miniature on the stage by popular burlesque representations of both 
types." Reports of the Immigration Commissioner disclose that approximately 
four and one-half milHons of Germans migrated to America between 1823 and 
1910. Religious persecution and economic want accounted for the first ground 
swell of Teutons. They came largely to Pennsylvania. 

The second swell which lasted well into Civil War times, was caused by 
economic conditions growing out of the Nepolionic Wars, coupled with political 
unrest which culminated in the revolution of 1848. Prussianism in the seventies 
and eighties inspired the last swell w^hich continued, until the World War and its 
subsequent legislation placed all immigration on a greatly restricted footing. 

A third element of immigration that had its marked effect upon many 
portions of the country at large in the period considered by this Chapter was the 
Jew. Of all countries and of no country, a city dweller abroad and a city dweller 
in America, Jewish immigrants have more readily adapted themselves to con- 
ditions in America than almost any other race which has reached our shores. 
The doors of this country have always been open to them. At the time of the 
Revolution several thousand Jews dwelt in American cities. By 1850 the number 
had increased to 50,000 and at the close of the Civil War, the number reported 
was well over 150,000. The cruel policies of Czar Alexander III in the eighties 
increased this number to 400,000. Today, at least one fifth of the 10,000,000 
Jews of the world live in the United States. 

These three elements of a new population had much to do with events 
in the Wyoming Valley in the period embraced in this Chapter, and each will 
be considered in turn. Concerned also in the development of the community 
were those of Welsh and English extraction who, having been miners at home, 
came to the valley for the express purpose of continuing their occupation under 
conditions offered in the anthractie field. There were no waves of either of the 
last two classifications in the sense that numerous arrivals of Irish, Teutonic 
and Jewish elements can be thus classified. But gradually through the later 
years has been a steady influx, particularly of Welsh arrivals, which have made 
a deep impress upon affairs of the community. 

Heretofore, in speaking of the establishment of religious denominations 
in the Wyoming Valley, only the four churches have been considered which 


swarmed from the common hive in Old Ship Zion to church edifices of their own. 
Chronologically, of course, they antedated any others, the seeds of the congre- 
gations having been brought with the original settlers from New England and 
Pennsylvania. But even in the earhest history of the valley, the Catholic church, 
strongly represented in Maryland, began to look after the religious welfare of 
communicants of that faith in nearby districts. The first official visit of a priest 
appearing of record, was that of Rev. James Pallentz who reached the Wyoming 
Valley in 1787 and proceeded up the Susquehanna as far as Elmira. His voyage 
appears to have been rather in the nature of a survey of the field than for any 
other definite purpose, although he spent some time at Standing Stone and 
purchased a tract of land near that settlement. A Father Dilhet traversed much 
the same route in 1805, holding mass in the then dissolving settlement at Asylum, 
and doubtless ministering to such of his faith as he found in private homes along 
his course. 

Earlier pages of this history make mention of the names of many Irish 
Cathohcs who came to the valley even before the advent of the first official visit 
of Father Pallentz. Abram Pike, Thomas Neill, Michael Kelly and others shared 
in the earlier hardships and dangers of the settlers. 

In an address delivered by Rev. Father R. A. McAndrew before the school 
and congregation of St. Mary's when the old church of that denomination was 
used for the last time on December 27, 1805, the following history of the church 
in the Wyoming Valley was given : 

"The official record of local church history begins with the visit of Father John O'Flynn, 
who came to Wilkes-Barre in 1828, and celebrated mass, heard confessions, baptized several 
persons and solemnized marriages. This priest died on the mission at Danville in the following 
year and his remains were taken up along the river to Wilkes-Barre and thence to Silver Lake 
where they were interred. 

"A Father Clancy was appointed to the vacant mission which then included all northeastern 
Pennsylvania, and a single visit to Wilkes-Barre is all that can be accounted for until May, 1837, 
when Father Henry Fitzsimmons, afterwards well known here, paid a visit to this place as one 
of his outmissions from Carbondale. He was young, zealous and energetic and attended this 
mission three, four, or six times a year until 1840, when he came bi-monthly, and continued to 
do so until 1842. Mass was usually said at the house of a Mrs. Marr or Maher, on the corner of 
Canal street and the alley adjoining the old cemetery. 

"The mines having now opened up, large numbers of Catholics came in from other parts, 
notably from Baltimore, then one of the important seaports. This influx of Catholics so aug- 
mented the congregation that it was impossible for them to hear mass comfortably at any house, 
and made it evident that a church building must be provided. To that end, in April, 1842, Father 
Fitzsimmons called a meeting of the men to be held immediately after mass, and the needs of the 
community were discussed. It was then and there decided to build a church, and they began 
forthwith to collect the necesssry funds. The good priest appointed a committee to take charge 
of this collection. The committee was composed of Edward Birmingham, Patrick Nelson, James 
Dolan and Patrick Kieran. Then and there the first dollar ever contributed for the erection of 
a Catholic Church in Wilkes-Barre, by Michael Clinton, a sterling Catholic Irishman, a credit to 
his race and faith as are his children and grand-children, who are now among the best people, 
and among the foremost in church and other good work. 

"Having started the matter, the work was not permitted to lag, the contract was given to 
Messrs. Anthony Mowery and Charles Ehret, and the same summer saw a commodious frame 
church erected on Canal street, just south of the present St. Mary's Parochial School. Growth of 
population being greater than anticipated, in one year it was found necessary to build an addition, 
which was done. It was as yet continued an out mission from Carbondale, but in 1845 it was 
suflficiently advanced to be considered a separate congregation, and the baptismal and marriage 
records were permitted to remain, the first records being entered by Father Fitzsimmons Sept. 28, 
1845. The first child whose record was entered is now a lady much respected, the wife of one of 
the leading citizens of the city. 

" In 1 845 a brick church was built on South Pennsylvania Avenue by Rev. Father Fitzsimmons 
where the school is now. The congregation was mostly Germans and Irish, and in 1856 the 
members had so increased that it was deemed advisable to divide the congregation. The Germans 
took the wooden building and the Irish congregation the brick church, where is now St. Mary's 
Parochial School. The rectors of the German church were Fathers Schneider and Summer. 
Father Nagel, the present rector of St. Nicholas Church, came here in 1858, and conducted the 
first service in the then new church, now St. Conrad's Hall, corner of South and Washington 


"St. Mary's Church, on Washington street, is the outgrowth of the Httle wooden church of 
1842, under the ministrations of Rev. Henry Fitzsimmons. The present large and handsome 
building (St. Mary's) was erected in 1872, valued at $250,000. The old building became St. 
Mary's Parochial School in 1875. The pastors in the order of coming were; Revs. Henry Fitz- 
simmons, 1840-7; Prendergast 1847; Ethoflfer 1848; John Loughman Shorb, 1849; Casper 
Burgess, Henry Fitzsimmons, 1856-69; Dennis O'Haran, 1869-89; Richard McAndrew, 1889, 
present in charge. 

During the pastorate of Rev. Father O'Haran the parochial residence and St. Mary's 
Academy on Washington street were built and parishes were organized at Plymouth, Nanticoke, 
Sugar Notch, Plains, Kingston, Parsons and Ashley. During the administration of Father Mc- 
Andrew, a cyclone having wrecked the steeple and damaged the front of the church, repairs were 
necessary. Decorations inside were made by Scataglia and the painting by Costigini. 

"A marble altar was built, costing about $5,000. The consecration took place Sunday, 
May 3, 1891. Cardinal Gibbons was present; evening services were conducted by Archbishop 
Ryan of Philadelphia. Present on this occasion were Bishops Phelan and McGovern, the latter 
saying mass. The church was consecrated by Bishop Phelan of Pittsburgh, who was substituted 
owing to the suden illness of Bishop O'Hara. Assistant pastors; Revs. James Jordan, William 
Nealon and John Moylan'" 

Father McAndrew, some two weeks before his death, received temporal 
recognition of his splendid life work by being elevated to the dignity of a mon- 
signor in the Pope's household. He died November 17, 1909, at the rectory- of 
his church in the twentieth year of his pastorate of that congregation.* 

The Rev. Father McManus succeeded the Rt. Rev.' Monsignor McAndrew 
in the pastorate of St. Mary's and upon the former's death, after serving his 
people faithfully for a period of nine years, the Rev. J. J. Curran was called from 
his East End congregation to the greater responsibility of the central city church 
on January 24, 1918. The wide acquaintance of Father Curran with people of 
all denominations, his official connection with affiliated organizations of the faith, 
the national recognition accorded him as an unbiased arbitrator of industrial 
controversies and his unfailing interest in welfare work of the community in 
its largest scope have combined to bring vSt. Mary's to the fore as one of the 
largest and most influential congregations of the Commonwealth. 

The growth of the German Catholic congregation, from the time of the 
separation of the Irish Catholic element from the single frame church which, 
in 1856, housed all of that faith in the valley, has been one of surprising pro- 

*Rt. Rev. Monsignor Richard A. McAndrew was born in the city of New York December 11, 1852, the son 
of James and Mary McAndrew who had emigrated from Ireland the year before. 

After spending a few years in New York they removed to Hawley, Wayne County, where the deceased spent his 
boyhood and attended school with the present Bishop Hoban. 

After graduating from the high school. Father McAndrew entered Holy Cross College at Worcester, Massachusetts, 
where he completed his classical education and then entered the theological seminary of St. Charles Borromeo. Phila- 
delphia, where he studied for the priesthood and was ordained July 18, 1877. He was assigned to the Scranton diocese, 
where his work soon won the regard of the late Bishop O'Hara. After serving a few years as a curate at various parishes 
he was appointed rector of St Peter's Cathedral at Scranton, where he served for ten years. 

On the death of the late Father Dennis O'Haran, who was pastor of St. Mary's Church for twenty years, Mon- 
signor McAndrew was named as irremovable rector of St. Mary's and served a pastorate of the same length as his 

His work for the church in this city is his most eloquent eulogy and will be his most lasting monument. He began 
by improving the church property until now it is one of the handsomest and most valuable in the diocese. He purchased 
the Mountain House for the sisters and built a chapel which later became the nucleus for the present flourishing St. 
Joseph's congregation at Georgetown. He also assisted other growing parishes which were taken from the original 
St. Mary's and worked zealously in the cause of religion and morality. 

His greatest work, however, was the erection of the new parochial high school, in which he took a just pride and 
interest The old school on South Pennsylvania avenue, which had been the original church half a century ago, was 
inadequate and wholly unfitted for school purposes, so, with the approval of the congregation, he sold that property 
and began the erection of the present new school. 

Although its cost totaled over $100,000, he raised the money for its completion and furnishing, and before his death 
had the happiness of seeing the la?t dollar of debt wiped off the property and of being present when the mortgage 
was burned. 

His labors among the poor and needy will never be known, his good works in this direction being done quietly and 
the many who were helped by his purse and counsel will tearfully pray for his 

He was a member of the Board of Visitation, appointed by the court to visit the various State institutions where 
children of this country are being cared for, and last summer spent a day with the members of the board, judges and 
commissioners in inspecting a site for the erection of a home for dependent and delinquent children in this county. 

For his own people, he encouraged the Sisters of Mercy in establishing a mercy house on South Washington street 
for working girls of the city, and also assisted in organizing the Catholic Gymnasium Association, for the erection of 
a building similar to the Y. M. C. A., for the mental, moral and physical improvement of the young men of his 
parish. He also took an interest in the Mercy Hospital and the work of the sisters at the local convent. 

His church and parish activities were many and varied, and the esteem in which he was held by the members of 
his congregation and the citizens in general was .'trikingly exemplified by the notable demonstration in his honor at 
the public reception in the armory on the evening following his investiture as a monsignor. 

KK\-. J. J- CUKRAN. 


For the first two years of its struggling existence, this congregation was 
ministered to by Fathers Schneider and Sommer, missionary priests. 

With the coming to Wilkes-Barre in 1858 of the Rev. P. C. Nagel,* a 
young priest, the real constructive work of the parish began. 

This parish then embraced all of Luzerne, Lackawanna, Pike and Wayne 
counties. At the time of his arrival, the congregation had found its quarters 
too small for comfort and plans had been drawn for the erection of a larger struc- 
ture of brick on South Washington Street. This was completed in 1858, Father 
Xagel preaching in it on Christmas day of that year. 

In 1866, Rev. Father Weninger, a Jesuit priest, conducted the first mission 
in the German Catholic Church of Wilkes-Barre and he found the church to 
be too small to accommodate the crowds that thronged to hear hijn. In 1867 
the church building was enlarged to accommodate the needs of the parish, which 
was increasing every day, mainly because of the immigration of Germans to 
the valley, and the congregation began to prepare for the erection of a bigger 
building. The church could not be enlarged because the property would not 
permit it and galleries were built in the church, which was still found to be too 

Then it was that Father Nagel bought a new property 60 x 231 feet in size. 

*The following biography of Rt. Rev. Monsignor Nagel was published at the time of the death, of the venerable 
priest, March 12, 1911: 

Monsignor Peter Conrad Nagel, aged nearly 86, the only rector St. Nicholas German Catholic Church, this 
city, has ever had. and the oldest priest both in service and in age of the Scranton diocese, died last night at 11:45 at 
St. Nicholas parochial residence. He had been in ill health for several years and his condition had been critical for 
several days past. 

His death marks the passing of one who was a pioneer in ministering to the spiritual needs of the German Catholics 
of this section of the State, for in the early days of his work, his parish was a broad one, covering territory from Hones- 
dale to Hazleton. At the time of his death he was pastor of the largest German Catholic congregation in the diocese. 
He was not alone its only rector, but it was the only parish he ever served. On November 28, 1908, he celebrated his 
golden jubilee. 

Monsignor Peter C. Nagel was born on the 25th day of May, 1825 , in Grevenstein, a httle hamlet south of Arustein, 
in Westphalia, Prussia. Owing to peculiar circumstances, he was somewhat advanced in years, being 34 years old when 
ordained to the priesthood. His parents were Frederick Nagel and Margaret Nagel nee Becker. Monsignor Nagel 
was the youngest of seven children, four boys and three girls, and was destined by his father to take up the only bus- 
iness in Grevenstein, namely, that of farmer. However, he was called to a higher vocation. 

The desire to study grew more and more in him, as did his apathy towards work on the farm. In 1841 he began 
his studies at the Laurentian College in Arusberg. He graduated in 1847 at the age of 22 years. He next went to 
the Academy at Winister, where he studied theology and philogy. After three years' study at the Academy in Munster, 
he left for Paderborn to complete his theorlogical studies. However, after one year, he returned to Munster to serve 
in the army as volunteer. It seems the Monsignor was not quite sure of his vocation. Nevertheless, after one year 
of voluntary service in the 13th Regiment he returned to Paderborn to make his examination for priesthood, which he 
passed witli high honors. Having passed the examination, he did not apply for a position as rector, but wishing to 
acquire still more experience, he took up a position as private tutor with a noble family in Poland by name Donimirski. 
He remained with this family until 1857. In the meantime his vocation had been definitely settled upon, and he had 
decided to spend his life in North America where German priests were in great demand. On the first of November, 
1857, he embarked at Hamburg and landed in New York on November 17th. He applied to Bishop Newman of Phila- 
delphia for admittance into the Philadelphia diocese, which then also included Wilkes-Barre and Scranton. On Novem- 
ber 28, 1858, he was ordained priest by Bishop Newman and in the same year was appointed rector of the German 
Catholics of Wilkes-Barre and surrounding to\yns. And in those days of tedious travel on horse or by stage coach it 
can readily be understood that the monsignor's early years in Wilkes-Barre were anything but years of ease and leisure. 
Many parishioners of St. Nicholas still recall how they waited patiently in front of the old church on a Sunday morning 
till the monsignor returned from Pittston with his little black mare. Often he returned just in time to complete the 
holy sacrifice of mass before the noon hours. 

Fifty-three years have passed since the monsignor came to Wilkes-Barre, and the city has grown very much, 
and with it also the St. Nicholas congregation. Monsignor Nagel built the new St. Nicholas Church, and the grand 
Catholic edifice is one of Wilkes-Barre's most beautiful buildings. The school built by Father Nagel has served its 
purpose and plans are now being made by architects Reilly & Schroeder for a new school, which is to be one of the most 
modem and artistic buildings in Wilkes-Barre. 

Another great work of merit on the part of the late monsignor was the introduction of the Sisters of Charity into 
America The mother house, Mallinckrodt Convent, being located in Wilkes-Barre. 

Along in 1876, at the time of the expulsion of the Catholic sisterhoods from the German Empire, through the 
policy of Bismarck, Father Nagel invited the Order of Christian Charity to settle in his parish. Rev. Mother Pauline 
de Mallinckrodt, the founder of the order at Paderborn, Germany, who was a member of a royal family there and who 
had come to this country with some of the members of her community, came to this city and was so pleased with the 
valley that she decided to establish a mother house here. 

A little colony of the Sisters was established in a building on South Fell street. Later the ground for the present 
large building was secured and the centre of the present structure erected. This was opened November 4, 1877, and 
St. Ann's Academy was opened in connection with the convent. 

In 1902 Pope Leo XIII, recognizing the extraordinary merits of Father Nagel, and desirous of showing his appreci- 
ation of the great work done by the late rector of St. Nicholas, bestowed upon him the title of monsignor and named 
him domestic prelate of the papal household. He lived to enjoy this great honor for nine years. 

During his residence in Wilkes-Barre, Monsignor Nagel made two vi-its to his old home in Germany, one in 1872 
and again in 1892. The last time he went there he performed an act of charity that has made his name renowned 
among the people of that neighborhood. The little town of Grevenitein is located on the top of a hill, and for centuries 
there was no water supply except that which was secured from the streams that ran along the base of the hill, and that 
had to be carried up into the town. Father Nagel decided to remedy this and on his last visit he had the pleasure 
of presenting to the town a system of waterworks with which the water is brought up into the town. This act alone 
cost Monsignor Nagel thousands of dollars. 


In 1869 Father Nagel built a parish house on this plot, facing State street. In 
1873 a new parish house was built on Washington street, and the old parish 
house was given to the sisters who conducted a school there. 

In 1882 the congregation decided to build a larger church. Architect 
Schieckel of New York drew the plans. Father Nagel presented a new plan of 
paying off the debts and providing money for the new church, asking the parish- 
ioners to agree to pay $1.50 a month for fifty months. This they agreed to and 
some of them paid even larger amounts, so that at the end of the fifty months 
sums varying from $75 to $500 and even $1,000 had been paid into the treasury, — 
Father Nagel, himself, giving the first $1,000. 

The corner stone of the new church building was laid on May 8, 1883. 
The following spring work was started on the building. 

After several changes in the original plans and various delays incident to 
the financing of so large an enterprise, the present church of St Nicholas, one 
of the dignified structures of the city, was dedicated October 15, 1905. 

From the modest beginning of a single congregation welded together in 
the frame church of 1842, some idea of the growth of Catholicism in the Wyoming 
Valley may be gained by a census taken at the behest of Bishop Hoban of the 
See of Scranton in December, 1907. There were then ten Catholic parishes 
within the City of Wilkes-Barre itself. 

The census figures of Catholic families in these parishes were reported by 

priests in charge as follows: 

"Parish. Families. Souls. Male. Female. 

St. Marys 1,084 6,448 2,984 3,464 

St. Nicholas 800 4,000 2 000 2,000 

Blessed Virgin 500 2,500 1350 1,150 

Holy Savior 415 2,176 1,052 1,124 

Sacred Heart 350 2,048 1,200 848 

St. Mary's Greek 280 1,700 1,020 680 

Holy Trinity 180 950 500 450 

St. Boniface 150 813 401 412 

St. Aloysius 91 455 225 230 

Blessed Virgin (Ital) 85 700 425 275 

Total 3,935 21.790 11,157 10,633" 

From a steady influx of Germans into Pennsylvania came the first Lutheran- 
Reformed church in Luzerne County, established at Conyngham in 1809. The 
church was built of logs, on a plot of three acres donated for the purposes by 
Redmond Conyngham. A portion of the building was used for school purposes. 
Other congregations likewise used the structure for worship, but, as was the case 
with Old vShip Zion, a common tenancy soon bred dissentions. Called in as a 
mediator of these disputes, Mr. Conyngham advised the united Lutheran-Re- 
formed congregation to withdraw from the older building and erect a church of 
their own on another plot which he ofi"ered to donate. The advice having been 
accepted, steps were immediately taken to ralise funds for a new building. The 
deed to this donated plot bears date of November 16, 1820, but the building, 
named Christ church by its congregation, was not erected until 1826. This 
building, like its predecessor in erection, was built of logs but so substantially 
that it was used as a place of worship until 1872, when the present Christ church 
w^as erected on its site. 

The first religious service in German was held in Wilkes-Barre in 1840 by 
Rev. Abram Berkey. He continued to reside in the neighborhood until 1844. 
In the latter year came Rev. John W. Lesher, a man of pronounced views and 


energetic disposition. The small congregation assembled by Rev. Lesher was 
at first composed of members of both Lutheran and Reformed denominations 
but under his guidance it assumed the title of a Reformed church exclusively. 
It was the first distinctive German Congregation in the community and soon 
became possessed of a desire for a place of public worship. In the Spring of 
1844, the congregation, then numbering approximately 100, purchased for 
$150, a plot of ground at the corner of South Main and South Streets, the present 
site of St. Paul's Church, upon w^hich a small frame edifice was erected. The 
late forties proved troublesome times for those of independent thought in 

Consequently, the population of the Wyoming Valley was increased bv 
numerous arrivals of thrifty, intelligent immigrants of Teutonic birth, many of 
whom were strongly Lutheran in belief. Assisted by those of Rev. Lesher's 
congregation who were not wholly in sympathy with the doctrines proclaimed 
by their pastor, a separate congregation, composed exclusively of Lutherans, 
was organized in December, 1845, under the pastorate of the Rev. H. Eggers. 
•On May 17, 1846, the newly organized congregation resolved to purchase a lot 
on South Washington, near South Street, for a church of their own. The con- 
gregation of Rev. Eggers was known as St. Paul's church and in its struggHng 
years received support from the Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania. On 
October 31, 1846, a small frame church was consecrated on this plot. 

In 1856, the seating capacity of this building was enlarged bv the ad- 
dition of a gallery^ and in the same year a Sunday School was instituted. 

A school building, dedicated October 4, 1863, proved the next venture 
of those of Lutheran faith. This was erected on a portion of the church plot. 
Meanwhile the Reformed church over whose destinies Rev. Lesher still presided, 
had felt effect of a too ambitious program of extension. 

The corner stone of a brick edifice, to surplant the small frame structure 
was laid in 1849, as evidenced by the following comment in the Advocate of Julv 
11th, of that year: 

"The ceremonies of laying the corner stone of a church for the German Reformed Con- 
gregaVon in this Borough, took place on 
Wednesday last, July 4th. A sermon was 
preached in English and one in German. 
A large audience was in attendance. In 
the evening Rev. IVIr. Bomberger of 
Easton, preached an excellent sermon, 
suited to the occasion of the day, in the 
Methodist Episcopal Church. 

"The members of that denomination 
in this vicinity, are neither very wealthy 
or very numerous. They need a house 
of worship, and have begun to build one. 
The public ought to, and doubtless will, 
assist them in their praiseworthy under- 

When completed, the brick 
church appears to have been com- 
monly known as the Bethel Church, 
although still maintaining vigor- 
ously its position as a Reformed 
congregation. John Laning, William 
Edwards and Wilham H. Luender, all prominent in aifairs of the community, 
were actively identified with this congregation. After struggling along for nearly 

German Reformed Church 


a decade, burdened by a mortgage which the congregation seemed unable to 
lift, Rev. Lesher's activities were brought to a sudden and unusual end on 
May 1, 1858, when the church plot, on which stood, in addition to the brick 
edifice, a house and barn, was sold at Sheriff's sale to C. B. Drake. From then 
until 1860, the brick building lacked the tenancy of any religious body. On June 
17th of that year, however, an attempt was made by a pastorless congregation 
to revive interest in the church. This proved but a temporary expedient, how- 
ever, and in 1864 the brick church was sold for $5,000 to the congregation of 
its more thriving Lutheran neighbor, which transferred the name St. Paul to 
its new home. 

At the close of the Civil War the brick edifice was enlarged and the steeple 
which still adorns the structure was raised. In 1868, the church bell was dedi- 
cated. Later other improvements and enlargements followed as represented 
in the building of today which still houses the congregation of St. Paul's German 
Lutheran Church.* 

Until the year 1872, services in all churches of the Lutheran faith in the 
community were held in the German language. In the autumn of that year, 
Rev. F. F. Buermeyer of New York was sent hither by the ministerium of the 
English Lutheran Church to make a survey of the situation. Reporting favorably 
on the establishment of a church of that denomination, Rev. Buermeyer was 
appointed pastor. A large portion of funds for constructing a new building 
having been contributed by members of the congregation of St. John's Evangelical 
Lutheran Church of Philadelphia, the local church took the same name. The 
congregation was organized at Music Hall, November 3rd, and a plot of ground 
was purchased at the corner of River and Acacemy Streets. Upon this plot a 
substantial church building was later erected. Until May, 1891, this congre- 
gation received financial support from the ministerium, but at that time declared 
itself able to become independent. In the pastorate of Rev. G. W. Sandt, a 
call was extended to Rev. H. F. J. Seneker to become assistant and to take charge 
of a mission in the northern portion of Wilkes-Barre which, in the fall of 1894, 
became the congregation of Christ Lutheran Church. The corner stone of a 
building to house this congregation was laid September 23, 1894. • 

Later the present church at the corner of Beaumont and North Washington 
Street was completed. 

The growth of Lutheranism in more recent years has been manifested in 
the building of many other churches of branches of that denomination. Among 
these might be mentioned the dedication of the first German-English Lutheran 
Church, situated on East Ross Street, October 1, 1901; the William McKinley 
Memorial Lutheran chapel on the same street, February 16, 1902; the dedi- 
cation of the church of St. Matthew's Slovac Evangelical Lutheran congregation 
on North Main Street on Labor Day, 1904; the rededication of St. Peter's Evan- 
gelical Lutheran Church, removed from Waller to Barney Street, February 10, 
1907 and the consecration of the beautiful new edifice of the Grace English 
Lutheran Church on South Franklin Street below Sullivan, May 28, 1911. 

There remains to trace the earlier history of the Jewish element of pop- 
ulation which, like those of other races described, had a permanent effect in 

*The pastors who served the congregation since its organization were: Revs. H. Eggers, Arthur O. Brickman. 
J. R. Reufcelt, Dr. J. Schwalm, G. H. Vasseler, C. M. Jaeger, Edward Speidel. C. Oeffinger, Carl Schlenker, J. P. Lichten- 
berg, E. A. Fuenfstueck, J. E. Nidecker, C. Kuehn, G. A. Struntz, J. E.. Nieman, L. Lindenstruth, the present pastor. 


moulding the character of the Wyoming Valley in the period embraced in this 

Martin Long, the first Hebrew who reached Wilkes-Barre, was a native 
of Pretzfeldt, Bavaria. Shortly after landing in 1839, he decided to engage in 
business in the Wyoming Valley and was shortly joined by his brother Marx 
Long and in 1846 by a second brother, Simon Long. Joseph Coons was the 
third arrival, reaching Wilkes-Barre about the same time as Marx Long. These 
pioneers of their race were shortly joined by others and a small congregation was 
formed, which in earlier years, worshipped in private homes. In 1840 decision 
was made to attempt the erection of a place of worship. The purchase of a plot 
of ground the next year on 
South Washington Street, 
where the present temple is 
now located, exhausted the 
finances of the group for the 
time being. At the November 
term of court in 1848, the 
congregation of B'nai B'rith 
was incorporated* and a de- 
cision reached to proceed with 
the erection of a synagogue 
whose corner stone was laid 
in July 1848. The building 
was completed in the summer 
of 1849 and dedicated on Aug- 
ust 31st. The dedicatory ex- 
ercises were thus described in 
the Advocate of September 5, 

"On Friday afternoon last, 
August 31st, the Jewish Synagogue, 
recently erected in this Borough was 
dedicated. The services (in the 
Hebrew language except the ser- 
mon) were performed by Rev. Mr. 
Strausser, resident minister. Rev. 
Mr. Isaacs, of New York, and Rev. 
Mr. Peeser, of Philadelphia, assisted 
by a choir of good singers. The 
Dedicatory sermon was preached 

by Rev. Mr. Isaacs. Barring disputed points, it was what all might pronounce a most excellent 
and eloquent discourse, giving much sound and wholesome instruction to the Jew and as well 
applicable to the Christian. It was listened to attentively by a crowded house. 

"The Jewish Church in this place, we understand, consists of 22 members. They are gen- 
erally peacable law-abiding, industrious and respectable citizens. The Synagogue is tastefully 
finished. It will seat about 250 persons, including the Gallery. Considering the smallness of 
their number the building is a high compliment to the enterprise and liberality of the Jews in 
this place." 

During the construction of the synagogue. Rev. Maus was, in the annals 

of the day, classed as reader. At completion of the edifice. Rev. Moses Strasser 

was called in that capacity. Descended from a line of distinguished rabbis, he 

was born in Floss, Bavaria, in 1809. 

*The congregation of B'nai B'rith incorporated by Court of common pleas in 1848, was composed of the following: 
Joseph Coons, Martin Long, Marx Long, John Constine, vSimon Long, David Maier, M. Rosenbaum, Solomon Kramer^ 
Mar.\ Straub, S. Wilzinsky, H. Ansbacher, Joseph Schwabacher. A. Lederer, J. Lowenstein, Isaac Lengfield, A. Frah- 
lich. M. Silberbaclh, B. Burgunder, W. Baum, H. Lowenstein, Moritz Strauss, Joseph Hamburger, David Mordache,, 
L. Ullman, David Coons, J. Merzbacher, Leopold Schwabacher, J. Lengfield, Louis Rees, L. Akerman, Solomon Schloss, 
.■\bram Strauss, Lehman Rosenbaum. L. Steinhard, Moritz Sultzbacher and Lieb Heimer. 

Present South Washington Street Temple 
Congregation B'nai B'rith 


Reaching the United States in 1845, he intended to engage in business, 
but through the intervention of friends who had previously reached the Wyoming 
Valley, he was induced to come hither. He was a very enthusiastic musician and 
composed much of the music used here and elsewhere in that period. He re- 
signed in 1851, and entered business in Albany. 

From August 1851 to May 1853, the Rev. Isaac Strouse was rabbi of 
the local congregation. Then came the Rev. Herman Rubin who served the 
local synagogue for a period of thirty years. 

Rabbi Marcus Salzman succeeded Rabbi Israel Joseph in active charge 
of the affairs of this synagogue in March 1896, and, at the time this is written, 
his wide interest in civci affairs had gained him recognition as a member of a 
large number of boards of local philanthropies. 

Practically all members of the B'nai B'rith Society of the time were con- 
cerned with the organization of Hoffnung Lodge, Independent Order of Odd 
Fellows. This lodge was established at Wilkes-Barre in March, 1851. 

From the original Jewish congregation of 1849 have sprung the B'nai 
Jacob congregation, organized in 1872 and having its place of meeting on South 
Welles Street; that of Holche Yoser, established on Lincoln Street in 1883; 
the South Pennsylvania Avenue congregation of Oheb Zedek organized in 1890; 
that of Ansche Emeth in 1909 and Ahavath Achim, established also in 1909. 

The Jewish school of Talmud Torah was first located in rear of the Lin- 
coln street synagogue in 1896, but its growth in recent years necessitated larger 
quarters. At present it is housed in the building of the Hebrew Institute, a 
commodious structure dedicated in September, 1921. 

The progress and prosperity of those of Jewish extraction in the Wyoming 
Valley has been illustrated in more recent years in the character of buildings 
they have dedicated to public service. In 1918, all elements of the Jewish body, 
of the community united in building a handsome structure to house the Young 
Mens' Hebrew Association and its affiliated activities. This building, located 
on South Pennsylvania Avenue, posessses every facility leading to its use as 
a community center and is rated as one of the most serviceable and best appointed 
edifices of its kind in the country. In this building in August, 1922, were held 
the first services of Temple Israel, a congregation which has enlisted the support 
of the younger Jewish element in particular. With its numbers increased to 
more than two hundred members in 1923, this congregation decided upon the 
erection of a place of worship, acquiring a valuable lot on South River Street 
for the purpose. On June 18, 1924, the corner stone of the new temple was laid 
with impressive ceremonies. As was said by Rabbi Louis Levitsky in connection 
with these exercises. Temple Israel offered the first instance in the history of 
that denomination when women of the congregation were permitted to assist 
in the construction of a building. 

On October 23, 1924, exercises commemorative of the 75th anniversary 
of the founding of congregation B'nai B'rith were celebrated in the present 
South Washington street temple of that congregation, erected in the year 1881. 
A booklet, entitled "A Historical Chronicle of the Congregation" was prepared 
for the occasion by the Hon. S. J. Strauss and Joseph D. Coons, Esq., which 



The First Synacogue 

Dedicated August, 1849 

-in the Borough on the 10th by the Rev. Mr. 
(They were the parents 

gives, in addition to early records of the temple, which coincide substantially 
with the narrate of this Chapter, the following later history of the congregation's 

affairs : 

"In 1838 the death of a Jewish child occurred, the first to be recorded in this community. 

As there was no Jewish burial ground, it was necessary to have the Jewish burial in Easton. 
"In the Luzerne County court records of June, 1855, appears the following: "Thomas W. 

Miner to Congregation Beneberid — On Main road township of Wilkes-Barre leading to Plains, 

containing 9750 square feet being the same part or parcel of land now occupied as the Jewish 

burying ground." Ten years earlier, 

however, another court record shows 

the transfer of another piece of property 

for the same purpose, so it is assumed 

that the death of the first child led the 

pioneer Jews to make burial provisions 

in the early forties. 

"The pioneer Jews' names are 

recorded in the early Masonic history 

of Wilkes-Barre and they were also 

active in other fraternal organizations, 

John Constine was treasurer of Lodge 

61, F. and A. M. from 1848 to 1853. 

Other pioneers were admitted to this 

lodge as follows: Joseph Coons, 1845; 

David Coons, 1851 ; Martin Long, 1S44; 

Simon Long, 185 1 ; David Meyer, 185 1 ; 

Morris Strouse, 1851, and David Mor- 

dechai iti 1855. The latter was wor- 
shipful master of the lodge in 1863. 

"The first marriage performed 

among the Jewish pioneers and the first 

in the new Synagogue took place in 

September, 1849. A newspaper notice 

of September 12th, that year, reads: " 

Strasser. Mr. David Coons to Miss Helen Long, all of this Borough. 

of Joseph D. Coons.) 

"Early Jewish merchants believed in the driving force of advertising, for in the newspapers 

of this community as early as 1849 are found the advertisements of Simon Long, clothing; 

Mordecai and Hilliard; Marx Long, general merchandise; Martin Long, general wares; Abraham 

Strouse, new merchant tailor and Joseph Coons, clothing and variety emporium. The California 

gold fever was then at its height and each merchant featured it in his advertising headlines. 

The same ad was permitted to run unchanged for a period of from si.x months to a year and dis- 
play lines or layout were unknown. All advertising of the period, however, was exceedingly 

modest as compared with the advertising of today. 

"Preceding the Civil War, the Wyoming Jaegers was the dominant military organization 

of this community. Joseph Coons, father of Joseph S. Coons, was a captain in that organization 

and the names of other of the pioneer Jewish citizens are to be found on its muster roles. When 

the Civil War was declared and the Jaegers was reorganized 
for military service. Captain Coons went with his men to 
Harrisburg to be mustered in. His service was rejected, 
however, because of the serious impairment of his vision. 
"Lewis Constine, Herman Cohen and Abraham 
Frauenthal, young men of the first American born gener- 
ation, enlisted from the then small Jewish community for 
Civil War service. Constine was the first Jew from this 
community killed in the Civil War. He was shot at White 
Oak Church. He was a member of the 143rd Infantry. 

" Barney Cohen and Julius W^eil were among the many 
Jews who enlisted for Spanish-American War service from 
Wyoming Valley. They both laid down their lives in the 
service of their country. 

"More than 100 Jews from Wilkes-Barre and vicinity 
participated in the World War. Dr. William Reese died 
while in the service. 

"From the days of the pioneers, the Jews have been 
active in civic and communal affairs. Abraham Strauss was 
a member of the borough school board. His son, Hon. S. J. 
Strauss served on the city school board a generation later, 
and is the only Jew to have been a member of the bench in 
Luzerne County. Augustus Constine, deceased, was for 
many years chief of the old Wilkes-Barre Volunteer Fire 
Department, and recognized as one of its best chiefs. All of 
the young Jews of the sixties were members of the rival volun- 
teer departments. 

Rev. Marcus Salzman 


"Activities of the younger generations of Jews in this community today are known to all. 
They have no place in this record. In their ancestors, the pioneers, they have a worthy example 
for good citizenship and adherance to the finest Jewish traditions. Little is said in this sketch 
of the pioneer Jewish women. They were the home makers — the mothers of large families. Side 
by side with their husbands, they worked to better the conditions of their families. Their's was 
tiie inspiration and the encouragement that developed an Americanism and a Judaism of which 
their descendants might be justly proud." 

It may seem somewhat beside the point to have placed the question of 
immigration to the Wyoming Valley and the influences of this immigration 
upon the social and religious life of the community before analyzing the induce- 
ments which beckoned it hither. 

But history seeks to be accurate. The fact remains that tides of immigra- 
tion found a level in the Wyoming Valley in even greater measure than was 
indicated elsewhere throughout the country. Having marked the nature and 
extent of these tides, the task becomes easier of arriving at a definite conclusion 
as to causes inducing them. 

Men of an earlier generation, more than those of the present, held to a 
belief that industries would come to the coal, rather than that coal should seek 
industries in other markets. 

They, therefore, experimented with many forms of manufacture with a 
spirit whooly disproportioned to the size of the community and an interest that 
but rarely seemed to flag. These experiments, as did the activity in canal build- 
ing of the thirties and early forties, brought many artisans to the valley not 
concerned directly with the rising tide of coal exploitation. Moreover, what may 
seem strange to residents of the present time, there existed an insistent belief, 
shared by the early community, in the existence of iron in large quantities through- 
out the neighborhood of the Wyoming Valley. 

Colonel Pickering, as has been shown in a previous Chapter, entertained 
this belief. Realizing that so unusual a combination of fuel and ore in the same 
locality would mean much in the industrial development of the valley, persis- 
tent search followed for ore no less than for coal beds in regions where no outcrop 

As early as 1778, John and Mason Alden erected a forge on Nanticoke 
creek where bog ore was hammered into bar iron for the use of blacksmiths. 

The next venture in this direction was undertaken in 1789 by Dr. William 
Hooker Smith and James Sutton at the falls of the I^ackawanna. Benjamin 
and Ebenezer Slocum entered the iron industry in 1800 at Roaring Creek, near 
the present city of Scranton. Their forges, like the others, depended upon a 
supply of bog ore from neighboring hills. The Slocum enterprise, more succes- 
ful than other earlier experiments, continued in profitable operation until 1828. 
On Nescopeck creek, E. and J. Leidy, later succeeded by S. F. Headley, estab- 
lished a much larger forge in the year 1830, using ore brought from Columbia 
County. This proved a* successful business until 1854 when, failing to adopt 
later processes of iron making, the firm went out of business. 

One of the first to apply anthracite coal to the manufacture of iron products 
was Francis McShane, who, in 1811, erected a small cut nail factory on the 
north side of the Square and which, under different proprietors was in operation 


for many years. Thus, in 1814, is found an advertisement relating to this factory 
in the Susquehanna Democrat as follows: 


"North side of the Public Square, Wilkesbarre, where the subscriber offers for sale all kinds 
of nails and brads of a superior quality, cheap as the times will admit for cash only. 

"P. S. As the subscriber has been at considerable expense and trouble in procuring good 
iron, and the first rate work men from Philadelphia, he hopes to receive a share of the public 
favor, and give general satisfaction to all who may honor him with their custom. 

"George Gordon." 
"Wilkesbarre, October 11, 1814. 

Another forge was established on Toby's Creek in 1836 by George W. 
Little, Benjamin Drake and others. 

The ore smelted here was brought via canal from Columbia Countv, 
as it was to a more ambitious anthracite blast furnace constructed in 1842 at 
South Wilkes-Barre by H. S. and E. Renwick of New York. Pig iron from this 
furnace as well as from a similar furnace erected at Shickshinny in 1847, was 
much in demand among manufacturers of stoves. The year 1852 found still 
another furnace in blast on Hunlock's Creek, its capacity being seventy-five 
tons of pig metal per week. 

In comparison with later methods of the making of iron and the manufacture 
of crude materials into finished products, these early ventures of Luzerne County 
now appear insignificant. The power of steam was eventually to revolutionize 
processes of iron manufacture just as its application widely influenced the 
mining and preparation of anthracite. The absence of limestone, as well as 
dependable veins of accessible ore proved a handicap to local development of 
the business which became all the more apparent as time progressed. But while 
local capital hesitated in seeking new development in this direction, outside 
capital came forward to construct at Wilkes-Barre one of the largest pioneer 
iron plants of the country. Almost simultaneously influences of this outside 
capital were felt in the Lackawanna and Wyoming valleys. 

In 1839, William Henry, a native of New Jersey and familiar with metals 
and their manufacture, visited Slocum Hollow on a prospecting trip. Impressed 
with the possibilities of iron production in that locality, he returned and erected 
a small forge in the vicinity. He brought with him his son-in-law, George W. 
Scranton and a younger brother of the latter, Selden T. Scranton, residents of 
Oxford, New Jersey, where they had been engaged in the iron business. The 
three visited New York for the purpose of securing capital in order to establish 
a plant on a large scale in the new territory. The application of the hot blast 
to the smelting of iron, instead of a cold blast employed for that purpose up 
until that time, had been successfully accomplished by English iron manufac- 
turers as early as 1833 and the plan of the Messers Scranton and their associate 
was to adapt this process to their plant if funds could be secured. They finally 
interested Sanford Grant and P. T. Mattes of New York in the venture and thus 
began the vScranton Iron and Steel Company, destined to become the back- 
bone of a community first named Scrantonia and then vScranton in recognition 
of the enterprise and ability of the family which not only secured its major 
industry but was later to secure an extension of the Delaware, Lackawanna and 
Western railway system to meet the needs of iron and anthracite development. 

When the introduction of Mesaba ores once again revolutionized the iron 
trade, vScranton lost the promising industry established by its fotmder, but the 


loss was more than compensated for in railroad and coal expansion which have 
made it the largest city of the Susquehanna Purchase. 

In the same period, Wilkes-Barre launched a movement to enlist the aid 
of eastern capital in a like direction. Officers and directors of the Wyoming 
Bank were particularly active in the plan. Through their aid, Thomas Chambers 
and the firm of E. R. Biddle and Co., of Philadelphia sent representatives hither, 
who reported favorably upon the project of constructing blast furnaces, rolling 
mills and a cut nail factory. A site w^as chosen in 1840 in South Wilkes-Barre, 
and bids were let for the construction of a plant to cost approximately $300,000. 

This site, extending from near the present Stanton breaker to what is now 
the easterly portion of the property of the Vulcan Iron Works, still retains the 
name Rolling Mill Hill, although the last vestige of the works has long since ceased 
to exist. There are many accounts available of the interest the community took 
in the completion of this plant, of booms in real estate in both town and southern 
suburb which accompanied the construction and of the date, October 1, 1842, 
when the furnaces were fired for the intial blast. From the standpoint of in- 
timate concern with the building of the plant and ot techincal knowledge of 
the advantages and shortcomings of the venture, the present writer quotes in 
full a letter contributed to the Wilkes-Barre Record October 3, 1887, by Captain 
John Y. Wren, of Ph^mouth, who came to Wilkes-Barre forty-five years before 
that time as one of the erectors of the plant. The letter follows: 

"Having read some interesting reminiscences relating to Wilkes-Barre and the Valley of 
Wyoming in your valuable paper, I was more especially interested in the vast changes and im- 
provements which have taken place. The early history of our coal and iron business is not only 
interesting, but very instructive. Comparing the past with the present helps us in our antici- 
pations. What we might expect the future to be is the principal theme of this article. 

"And in looking back forty-five years, I find the prosperous city of Wilkes-Barre of 1887 
very different from the country town of Wilkes-Barre 1 842, the date of my first visit. I was at 
that time yet an apprentice to the firm of Haywood & Snyder, of Pottsville, Schuylkill Co., and 
was one of a number of machinists sent by them for the erection of the rolling mill which was 
located at South Wilkes-Barre, of which they had the contract to build the machinery, engines, 
boilers, mill works, etc. 

"As there is not a vestige of the mill remaining to-day, a short history of its career may 
not be out of place, and although it would appear that blast furnaces and rolling mills have not 
been a .success along this part of the valley, yet to my mind the question has never been satis- 
factorily answered, why they should not be made one of the leading industries, comparing the 
advantages surrounding this locality with other iron districts. I believe the day will come when 
iron works will line the banks of the Susquehanna resembling those in Scotland on the banks 
of the Clyde. Having assisted and taken an active part in the erection of nine rolling mills I 
feel justified in saying all honor to the pioneers of the coal and iron business. By the undaunted 
energy and perseverance of Pennsylvania she stands to-day a beacon light to every state in the 
Union, after many severe trials still advancing, step by step upward, demonstrating that what 
was considered an experiment 45 years ago is to-day a reality in the handling and manufacturing 
and manipulating of iron and steel. 

"The South Wilkes-Barre mill I find by my memoranda, made at the time, was first put 
in operation October 1, 1842. Its motive power consisted of one hundred horse and one sixty 
horse power engines made very strong, but no ornament, and they would not compare with the 
highly finished and beautifully designed machinery made by the Vulcan Iron Works and the 
Dickson Co. of the present day. The starting of the mill was a gala day in Wilkes-Barre. All 
the honest men and bonnie lasses were assembled to witness the operation, as, indeed, it was a 
novelty at that day. I felt rather proud myself as I had the honor of starting one of the engines. 
Many questions were asked and the good old farmers and their wives asked some puzzlers. The 
machinery moved off well and thus far was a success. The mill was syperintended by Mr. Ellis, 
assisted by his sons. The principal workmen, heaters, puddlers and rollers were English and 
Welsh. The heating and puddling furnaces were then ordered to be fired up and the blast applied. 
This done, weak points were exposed, showing the badly constructed furnaces. The flame that 
should reach the iron to heat it was blowing out at every opening. The furnaces were a failure 
and had to be remodeled, and, although improved, never were what they should be, such as the 
successful furnaces of the present day. Another drawback was badly constructed rolls, the grooves 
of which would not reduce the iron properly. The rails made were very imperfect, being finned 
and ragged on edges like a cross-cut saw. It took several years in all our mills to overcome making 
bad rails, but by perseverance this trouble has been successfully overcome." 


In spite of defects in construction, necessitating additional capital for 
their correction, Wilkes-Barre's major industry of the time maintained for a 
period of six years a measure of prosperity which brought high hopes to the 
community. Thus, in the Advocate of January 29, 1845, appeared the folowing: 

"Who that casts the eye back a few years does not mark the difference? In every direction 
on our pubUc roads, houses and business shops have been built. Here and there a cluster of 
buildings have been reared, and occasionally a thrifty village has sprung up. Nor has the County 
town been behind. Here in Wilkesbarre many buildings have been reared, and among them a 
number superior to the general cast of buildings in the Borough. The block of elegant stores now- 
being built by Mr. HoUenback, and the building of Col. Lamb on the opposite corner, and the one 
just finished by Mr. Wood, reflect credit on their proprietors and add to the beauty and business 
facilities of the Borough. Within a little time two villages have sprung up in the southern portion 
of Wilkesbarre Township, which in connection with the Rolling Mill, give that section the ap- 
pearance of thrift. Wilkesbarre, in all human probability will sooner or later be a continuous 
Town to the Iron Works. * * * 

"In our Boroughs in addition to various common and select schools, we have two female 
seminaries, in charge of well qualified preceptresses. The Academy is in a flourishing condition, 
in charge of a highly competent and worthy teacher. Mr. Dana sustains his undoubted reputation 
with his select school. * * * 

"There are a number of Foundries, one of them that of Mr. Laning's including the machine 
shop, is an extensive operation, in which is embraced the manufacture of steam engines." 

But the iron business, as was the case with anthracite, was to learn the 
lesson of a new country. Of stable conditions, excepting as to agriculture, the 
United States knew but little. Currency problems had not been worked out 
by the legislative branch on anything approaching a sound basis. Tariff reg- 
ulations were on a hit and miss foundation. Railroad construction, whose chief 
requisite called for iron products, hesitated in the period of the forties. Cross 
currents of political sentiment carried their uncertainties into business life. In 
fine, the iron business of the time, as was the case with anthracite then and later, 
lived up to a reputation of being on a basis of either a feast or a famine for those 
who engaged in them. 

The year 1847 found creditors of the Wilkes-Barre plant clamoring for 
settlement of their claims. Solicitations fo-' the investment of further capita 
proving without avail the plant was sold to satisfy a judgment of the Wyoming 
bank and its machinery purchased by the Montour Iron Company, by which 
it was transported to Danville. A contributor of the Advocate of February 6, 
1850, thus bemoans a gloomy situation: 

"An occasional visitor to our County town, I recollect but a few moons ago, fires were 
streaming up from the furnace and huge Rolling mill at South Wilkesbarre. Such a clatter! 
Such a cheerful bustle! Such a busy throng! And then there were town lots selling, and new 
houses and stores and stables being erected. The day laborer, the mason — the carpenter were all 
at work. Eggs, Butter, Fowls, Beef, Pork, brought in by the neighboring, aye, and distant 
farmers they told me, found a ready market; wheat, hay oats, and even straw brought a good 
price. Every house was tenanted, and what's that? What's that? an omnibus! An Omnibus! 
rolling its rapid wheels, up and down every hour from the Borough. 

"How changed! How gloomy! How melancholy! The fires of this life giving industry are 
extinguished — grass grown up in the path so recently kept smooth by the feet of the laborer; 
and the fox may presently look out from the broken window. 

"Pray tell me, Mr. Printer, who and what has put out these fires, and checked, if not finally 
destroyed, to Wilkesbarre certainly. North and South, this prolific source of prosperity?" 

However unsatisfactory may have been experiments in the smelting of 
basic iron products from raw^ materials, the community felt no lack of enterprise 
on the part of those who were to undertake the manufacture of finished materials 
which, in fat years and lean, were almost constantly in demand. 

Augustus C. Laning was a pioneer in this respect.* In 1834, he erected 
on the site of the present Laning Building on the Square, a small machine shop 

*" Augustus C. Laning was born in Owego. N. Y., 30 September, 1808, the son of John Laning and his wife Mary- 
Ann (HoUenback) Deshong, daughter of Judge Matthias HoUenback and widow of John Deshong. John Laning was 


and foundry structure of stone. In common with others of a mechanical turn 
of mind, he soon began experimenting with the appHcation of steam to machinery. 
Upon the point of who constructed the first steam engine used in the Wyoming 
Valley, historians have never been able to agree. Pearce credits Richard Jones, t 
then scarcely more than a boy, with having made the first serviceable engine at 
a tin shop in Wilkes-Barre in 1833, although the youth had never seen steam used 
and depended entirely upon written accounts of other engines for his specifi- 
cations. The same authority also credits Joseph White, another ingenious 
local workman, with a miniature boat with side wheels and of propelling this 
with the same steam engine on the canal basis at Wilkes-Barre on July 4, 1835. 

One is apt to credit the account of the editor of the Democratic Journal, 
appearing in that publication under date of November 10, 1841, with a well 
verified knowledge of the situation at that time. He frankly states that the maker 
of the first steam engine used in Northeastern Pennsylvania was unkown, al- 
though those responsible for later engines are given due credit for their crafts- 
manship as follows: 

"In remarking last week upon the advantages of employing steam power in coal regions 
we did not state the fact, which of itself, establishes the proposition, that at this time there are 
probably more Steam Engines erected in Wilkes-Barre, than in any other town of equal size in 
Pennsylvania. There are now in daily operation in this borough, seven steam Engines of different 
capacities. We propose to notice these in detail, and the purposes to which they are applied, 
not because of their extent and importance — for we do not pretend to claim any great consider- 
ation for them — but rather as a record for those who may wish, in after times, to look back upon 
the infancy of our prosperity, and the early stages of the progress of manufactures in Wilkes- 

bom in New Jersey 5 June, 1779, son of Robert and Sara (Coryell) Laning. and died at Owego, N. Y., 12 February, 
1820. Mary Ann HoUenback was bom 27 February, 1785; was married to John Laning 9 June, 1806; died I March, 

"In 1822 A. C. Laning removed to Wilkesbarre, where he became an inmate of the home of his uncle George M. 
HoUenback, and a clerk in the mercantile establishment of his grandfather Matthias HoUenback. In 1826 he was a 
clerk in the store of his uncle at the comer of River and Market street, Wilkesbarre. About the time he became of 
age Mr. Laning engaged in business in Kingston, Luzerne County, but he soon returned to Wilkesbarre, and for a time 
carried on mercantile business on the east side of the Public Square. 

"Mr. Laning conducted at his foundry on the Square with great success for a number of years the business of an 
iron founder. 3 January, 1850, the foundry was burned, and shortly afterwards Mr. Laning began the erection of a 
large brick foundry on the west side of Canal Street north of Market. In this building were set up new and improved 
appliances for manufacturing various kinds of iron work and machinery, and Samuel R. Marshall, an experienced 
manufacturer of Philadelphia, was .secured as superintendent of the establishment. 

"About 1 853, Mr. Marshall was admitted into partnership with Mr. Laning, and for some fifteen or sixteen years the 
firm of Laning & Marshall was weU known throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania as engine and briler makers and 
founders. Their manufacturing plant, which had been considerably enlarged and improved dimng this period, was 
disposed of in 1869 to the Dickson Manufacturing Company of Scran ton, and Messrs. Laning and Marshall retired from 
a business which they had condicted most successfully and profitably. 

"During the remaining years of his life Mr Laning spent the greater part of his time in looking after his real estate 
interests, which were very large and valuable. He was one of the original stockholders of the Miners' Savings Bank 
of Wilkesbarre and held the office of President from May 13, 1868 — when the Bank was organized — until his death 

"For a number of years he was Treasurer and one of the Managers of the Wilkesbarre Bridge Company. During 
the last five years of his life he was a member of the Board of Commissioners of the Luzerne County Prison. From 
May, 1844 to May, 1846, he was Burgess of the Borough of Wilkesbarre. From 1871 to 1874, inclusive, he was a 
member at large of the Wilkesbarre City Council, and Chairman of the Finance Committee. 

"About 1870 Mr. Laning presented to Wilkebarre its first steam fire engine the 'Mechanic' When the paid fire 
department of the city was organized in 1871 this was the only 'steamer' owned by the city, but in 1874 a second one 
was purchased, which was named 'A. C. Laning.' 

"Nearly all the enterprises which grew up in Wilkesbarre had in Mr. Laning an active and efficient counsellor 
and supporter. Careful, shrewd and energetic, every detail of his enterprises received his constant and unwearied 
attention, and from their cares he took little recreation until his retirement from active business. 

"Augustus C. Laning was married at Wilkesbarre December 8, 1831, to Amanda Elizabeth (born in Hanover 
Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, January 22, 1814), daughter of Dr. Charles Francis Joseph and Elizabeth 
(Stookey) Christel, and they became the parents of four children — Elizabeth Virginia, who was married (1st) to Josiah 
Bradner, (2d) to George Cotton Smith; Mary Ann, who died unmarried; John, who was married to Helen C. Brower; 
and Amanda Mary, who was married to WilUam J. Harvey 

"Augustus C. Laning died May 29, 1875, at his home in Wilkesbarre." 

tAs to the Jones engine, the following account appears in Vol. 4-63 of Johnson's Historical Record: 

"Editor Record: Reading in the historical columns of the Weekly of the old!settler, happenings, etc., of early days, 
I thought perhaps an account of the first railroad in Wilkes-Barre might be of interest to the Record readers. 

' About the year 1832 I was an apprentice in Ansel Thomas' cabinet shop. At the same time Dick Jones, then a boy 
of 15 or 16, was an apprentice in Sam Howe's tin shop. Thomas' shop was on the comer of Northampton and Main 
streets, and Howe's was on Franklin, a few doors below Market. The first Icomotive was built in Howe's tin shop, 
by Dick Jones, He made the boiler of copper, most of the works being of brass. He and I did the turning of the wood 
work on a lathe in Thomas' shop, evenings. I made the rails of half inch white wood, wedging them into notches in 
the ties. This track was laid on Howe's work bench and was about 60 feet long. The engine was about 18 inches in 
length, and had an upright boiler. An admission fee of 6'i cents was charged to see the engine run. 

"After a while, tiring of the engine, Jones got Joe White, son of 'Danny' White, the wagonmaker, to build him a 
boat with side wheels. In this boat the engine was placed, so forming a side wheel steamboat. He took this down to 
the basin of the Redoubt and ran it first on the 4th of July. Dick Jones afterwards became proprietor of the Vulcan 
Iron Works in South Wilkes-Barre. 

"Miles Johnson, 

Lathrop, Cal." 


" 1. The first Engine erected, was at Mr. Wm. L. Bowman's tannery and foundry, in the 
northern part of the borough. It was put up, we beheve, by Messrs. Drake and Laning, and 
appHed principally to the foundry, though used also in the tannery. We do not know where it 
came from, or by whojn it w^s made. After doing good service for several years, it has given 
place to a new and larger Engine, made by Mr. J. C. Smith, of this place, which is now used ex- 
clusively for the tannery of Mr. Bowman. In this connection we may mention, that Mr. Bowman 
has recently made extensive additions to his establishment, and will soon be prepared to prosecute 
the manufacture of leather on a very large scale, 

"2. The second in ordeir of time, is at Butler's Steam mill. This is of Pittsburg manufacture 
and of 12 horse power. It drives three run of stones, and the other machinery of the mill. 

"3. Mr. A. C. Laning's Foundry. Six horse power, made at Auburn. This will soon be 
replaced by an Engine of increased capacity, manufactured in IVIr. Laning's establishment. 

"5. Reichard's Brewery and Distillery. Six horse power, made by Smith, Wilkes-Barre. 

"4. Mr. Thomas's saw mill. Eighteen horse power — manufactured by Smith, Wilkes- 

"6. Butler and Co.'s saw mill. Twelve horse power, made by Smith, Wilkes-Barre. 

"7. F. L. Bowman's tannery. A small Engine formerly employed in sinking the shaft 
at the Baltimore mines, repaired by Smith. 

"To these may be added the Engine at Smith's steam mill, in Plymouth, also made by 
J. C. Smith, which gives us eight in the alley. 

" In this account are not included the two immense engines in progress of erection at the 
Wyoming Iron Works, near the borough — one of ninety, the other of sixty horse power. These, 
and the works connected with them, were the subject of a distinct article some time since; and 
though forming an important item in our aggregate prosperity, yet being the product of foreign 
capital entirely, we omit them in an account of the immediate local improvement of our Valley." 

The tannery, mentioned above, seems to have existed only a short time as 
such. In 1839, the business bf Mr. Bowman was discontinued and in May of 
that year, John Mooers and Isaac Baldwin announced that they had taken over 
the plant for the purpose of manufacturing "ploughs, mill gearings, hollow- 
ware etc." As forests were depleted, tanneries moved to outlying regions. In 
1856, Zadock Pratt and Jay Gould erected what, at that period, was the largest 
tannery in the country at Gouldsborough on the Lehigh. Machinery for grinding 
the necessary bark for tanning processes was driven by water power and the 
enterprise w'as a prosperous, capably managed venture which endured as long 
as a supply of hemlock could be secured. Of Wilkes-Barre's second engine a 
circumstance is related, scarcely compatible with the conduct of a piece of machin- 
ery then held in imaginative awe by a large proportion of population. On Feb- 
ruary 6, 1836, Messers J. L. and Lord Butler advertised the completion of their 
steam grist mill, previously mentioned, stiuated on the north side of the Square. 
According to this advice, the mill consisted of "four sets of stones, three for the 
grinding of grain and one for scouring and cleaning buckwheat, propelled by 
an engine of 18 horse power. In Johnson's Historical Records, (Vol. 4-143) 
appears an account of the unusual performance of this engine, penned many 
years afterward by one familiar with the facts: 

"Later I entered the employ of Lord Butler and had charge of his mill. The Butler mill 
was located on the now Public Square, Wilkes-Barre, and near where is now located the hroker 
office of Lawrence Myers. This mill was the first steam mill in Luzerne County, and it required 
days and weeks to convert the people of those days to the understanding of the ways of steam. 
About the time their fears were removed and the mill began receiving the patronage of the sur- 
rounding country, an accident occurred which resulted in the bursting of the boiler and came near 
causing the death of Mr. Stroh and his fireman. The work of repairing the boiler had to be 
accomplished at night time, that the people might not learn the facts of the case. Had they been 
apprised of the accident their feared suspicions of the new power would have ofTered new evidence 
to their fright. Accordingly a man with four horses and lumber wagon was dispatched to Harris- 
burg in the night, a boiler maker and a quantity of boiler steel procured, and the work accom- 
plished in the night, and the people were none the wiser." 

Records throw but little light on the J. C. Smith credited with being the 

designer and builder of the first engines manufactured for commercial purposes 

at Wilkes-Barre. By those available, he is mentioned as a sort of independent 

genius who built machinery on the basis of a factor in the Laning shop. His 

business was taken over by the Laning plant which, in 1850, was destroyed by 


fire. Undaunted, Augustus C. Laning in the same year began the erection of 
a more commodious foundry and machine shop along the canal on what is now 
Pennsylvania avenue, the site being selected owing to an intention of the firm 
of engaging largely in the building of iron hull canal boats and engines for their 

Several of these were actually built but the eventual decline of canal 
activity turned the firm's attention to the construction of engines almost ex- 
clusively. The firm prospered under the name of Laning and Marshal until in 
1869 the business was sold to the Dickson Manufacturing Company, to be later 
consolidated with the latter's plant at Scranton. 

Adding to a diversity of industries of early Wilkes-Barre was the hat making 
establishment of Isaac Carpenter, established in 1808 and continuing in the 
manufacture of hats and clothing for nearly half a century, a wagon manu- 
factory, founded by Benjamin Drake, George Flake and A. O. Cahoon in 1824; 
Peter Gallagher's plant for the manufacture of copper and tin products, at first 
situated at the corner of Union and Franklin streets, and the Wyoming Planing 
Mill Company whose business was taken over by the firm of Daniel A. Fell & Co., 
in 1853. 

In 1812 a small paper mill was erected along Toby's Creek in Kingston 
Township by the subscriptions of a number of prominent Wilkes-Barreans. 
Commercially it was a failure and in 1827, passed to the ownership of Col. 
Matthias Hollenback by whom it was operated until his death. 

In addition to furnishing the limited supply of newsprint needed to pub- 
lish the Gleaner, the 
mill manufactured 
writing paper of a fine 
quality, samples of 
which may occasion- 
ally be found in old 
letters of the period. 
It gave employment 
to but few persons 
during its existence 
and is referred to 
more for the sake of 
indicating the diver- 
sity of industries es- 
tablished in early 
times than for its im- 
portance as an enterprise. The opening of the lumbering business along the 
upper Lehigh in the early forties likewise brought a share of trade to the county 
town. For the period 1850 to 1860, the average amount of forest product, 
largely pine, marketed via the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company locks 
in the Lehigh River from this section, averaged over 30,000,000 board feet per 
annum. The blasting of rock and coal at the mines brought forward still another 
indu^ti^ now unimportant in scope in the country. This was the manufacture 
of powder. 

R.'^FT ON THE Upper Lehigh 


While no record of many of these early powder manufacturies remains, 

the following clipping from the Republican of February 20, 1839, is significant: 

"We learn with regret that the Powder Manufactory of Capt. W. H. Alexander, on Laurel 
Run above Wilkes-Barre, was destroyed yesterday, by explosion. Fortunately no lives were 
lost; one man was seriously, though it is thought not dangerously burnt. A singular fatality 
seems to attend powder manufactories in this region. This is the third instance of explosion within 
a year. Whether they are the result of inexperience, accident or carelessness, we cannot tell — - 
probably, however, of accident." 

The establishment of other early powder mills is determined rather by 
their fate, as recorded in the local press, than by recorded information as to 
situation or size. Thus the Advocate of September 15, 1847, narrates that 
"A powder mill on Laurel Run about two miles east of this Borough was shattered 
by an explosion on Thursday afternoon last. One man named Charles Kinney, 
was so badly hurt that he died next morning. Another man was injured but 
it is believed he will recover. The mill had just been started by Messrs. Parish 
and Knopp two enterprising young men, whose loss is two or three hundred 

The same journal records that this same firm built another powder mill 
"below Wilkes-Barre" in 1849, only to announce that an explosion had wrecked 
that establishment in May, 1852. 

An estimate of capital invested and numbers of men employed by reason 
of the major industries of Luzerne County in 1850, exclusive of coal, was made 
by Pearce and published in his Annals as follows: 

"Industry Number of Employees Capital Invested 

Iron Industry 650 $ 650,000 

Lumber 500 450,000 

Tanneries 225 550,000 

Foundries and Engine Works 355 290,000 

Powder 125 100,000 

1855 $2,040,000" 

In the absence of Chambers of Commerce or other civic bodies looking 
to the industrial development of the community, individual citizens took the 
initiative in matters of this sort. It appears of record, for instance, that members 
of the board of the Wyoming Bank and other enterprising business men made a 
decisive, although unsuccessful, effort to have the United States Government 
establish a gun factory at Wilkes-Barre in the year 1845. The greater difficulty, 
however, has been an ability to preserve in the community many industries 
which seemed well established. The loss of a once promising basic iron industry 
to Danville and points along the Lehigh River, the removal of the well estab- 
lished and prosperous plant of Laning and Marshall and the decline of many 
other ventures which looked promising to the generation of an earlier day seem 
difficult to reconcile with the forward trend of events which attended the general 
affairs of the community. But the history of all industry has been one of capable 
management rather than of opportunities afforded by capital or location. And 
to the support of this business axiom might be brought the success of the Vulcan 
Iron Works, which today, as for three quarters of a century past has been one 
of the industrial mainsprings of the valley. Aside from the Miner- Hillard 
Milling Company, dating back to 1795 and maintaining an unbroken record of 
continuous and increasing service to employees, shareholders and community 
ahke, the Vulcan works alone remains of the pioneer industries of Wyoming. 

The business of this establishment was begun in a modest way by Richard 
Jones — he of the diminutive steam engine some thirteen years before — in the 


fall of 1849. Mr. Jones who had been an employee of the then defunct rolling 
mill, was wise enough to confine his manufacturing activities to iron products 
needed in connection with mining. Hence his business grew in proportion as 
the mining industry thrived. 

Needing more capital in the business to meet its opportunities the concern 
was incorporated as the Vulcan Iron Works in 1867 since which time its ex- 
pansion has made it one of the most dependably managed as well as the largest 
of the community's independent industries. Acquiring branch plants at West 
Pittston and Tamaqua as occasion offered and purchasing the business of the 
Wyoming Valley Manufacturing Company locomotive builders, in 1888 the 
Vulcan's output of engines, machinery and locomotives now has an international 
market as well as possesses a corresponding reputation for merit. 

With its splendid organization placed at the disposal of the government 
during the duration of the World War, the Vulcan completed a new steel plant 
in 1919 on the site of a large acreage purchased for the purpose along the lines 
of the Pennsylvania and Delaware and Hudson railroads. 

This steel plant, was, at the conclusion of the war, adapted to uses of or- 
dinary lines of manufacture, thus providing its own processes in the conversion 
of raw materials to finished product of the most exacting engineering requirement. 
The value of its manufactures in 1923 was in excess of $3,000,000.00 With an 
increase of its capital stock in 1924 to 5^2,500,000, the Vulcan is, at the present 
writing, in position to avail itself of additional facilities for manufacture and of 
new markets for its products. Employing, at capacity, some 1600 skilled ar- 
tisans, the concern is rated as the community's most valuable manufacturing 
asset. Those at present responsible in an oflScial capacity for its progressive 
policies are: President, S. T. Nicholson; Vice President and Assistant General 
Manager, George Nicholson; Secretary and Manager, Fred O. Smith; Treasurer, 
Wm. E. Wilhngaie. 

With this sketch of the diversified industries of the valley up to Civil War 
times, attention may next be drawn to the secondary development of the great 
underlying wealth of Wyoming, as it progressed through the years, in response 
to the hitherto described beginnings of anthracite production impelled by the 
tenacious purpose of the Smith brothers of Plymouth. 

Viewed through the century of its existence as an enterprise, the anthracite 
business resolves itself into three epochs. The first, dealing with its discovery 
and its adaptation to commercial use by slow and discouraging processes, has 
been covered in a previous Chapter. The second epoch found the industry on 
the threshold of a promising career but needing half a century of seasoning 
process before it could be classed as reaching a stabilized basis. 

This was the period of the independent operator, of his efforts to obtaining 
markets; of inadequate capital to properly exploit the business; of his struggles 
to make ends meet in good times and ill. It was, notwithstanding, a half century 
of close association of capital and labor and relates to a day when owner and miner 
called each other by first names and the human side of relationships was worn 
outermost. The third epoch of anthracite development is naturally grouped 
about the business after the dream of George F. Baer was fulfilled in the almost 
monopolistic control of stores of anthracite by large carrier systems of the country. 
With the second epoch the remainder of the present Chapter will be concerned. 
The last period will be referred to in proper sequence. 


Underground treasures have, from time immemorial, excited both the 
curiosity and cupidity of mankind. It is therefore not surprising to find that the 
first quarter century of anthracite development was one of speculation in the 
main, when frequent turnovers of properties wxre in evidence and when gain 
or loss was more lightly considered than would have been the case in a venture 
concerned with usual business activities. 

Practically no anthracite was shipped from the Wyoming Valley prior to 
1808. From 1808 to 1830, those who deal with statistics, estimate that some 
48,500 tons sought outside markets from the same source. In the decade be- 
tween 1830 and 1840, more reliable figures place the tonnage at 350,000 tons, 
mounting to 1,407,554 tons between 1840 and 1850 and gaining by leaps and 
bounds to 4,079,053 tons in the decade ending with the close of 1860. 

For those with a penchant for figures, the following table of shipment 
from various portions of what was then Luzerne County, but exclusive of ship- 
ment by river from the Wyoming Valley, may be studied with interest: 







Canal Co. 

wanna & 



and Sus- 

Coal Co. 

I Lacka- 
wanna & 
burg Rail- 
I road 

Coal & 






































405,87 7 






' 'i'i'i',6i4 

1 688.855 

' 210,042 
























' 8,466 
































8,666,704 I 2,792,776 | 5,658,443 | 94,285 | 522.091 | 4,842.589 | 568,513 | 4,660,233] 1,254,752 |29 ,060,386 

Production in the earlier portion of the period in question, as the figures 
clearly show, did not run to appreciable totals. 

Reference to files of publications of the time furnishes the historian with 
practically the only information obtainable as to facts as well as figures of the 
early industry. 

The first attempts of the Messers. Smith to introduce a knowledge of the 

uses of anthracite were limited to small settlements along the Susquehanna. 

But it was the markets of large seaboard cities that those who had visions of 

an exapanding industry sought to secure. Diihculties in this direction took 

years to overcome. The earliest mention of anthracite in the Baltimore market 

appeared in the Baltimore Patriot of January 21, 1823, as follows: 

"Every day circumstances are transpiring which develop the importance of Susquehanna 
navigation to Baltimore. Last season a large quantity of coal was brought down to this market 
for which hardly any price could be obtained, its quality not being known. It was reshipped to 


Philadelphia and New York, and there sold as the Lehigh coal, which is in much repute. This 
morning we were invited to call at the stores of Messrs. W. & N. Tyson, on Spear's wharf, where 
we observed a grate of a very simple construction, filled with the Susquehanna Coal — the fire was 
as good as ever witnessed from any other Coal, and free from any disagreeable smell. It is a matter 
of pleasure to find that this valuable article is becoming to be known here, and we can assure the 
people on the Susquehanna, that their inexhaustible coal Mines will be to them a source of wealth, 
and to their children an unfailing resource. From observation and enquiry, we can confidently 
recommend this article to those who study economy and comfort; and we recommend others to 
call and examine for themselves." 

Of the Philadelphia situation, Watson's Annals, published in 1839, states 
that "no regular sale of anthracite coal was effected in the Philadelphia market 
till the year 1825." In 1820 the old Lehigh Coal Company sent 365 tons from 
Mauch Chunk to Philadelphia, "as the first fruits of the concern," and, "little 
as that was, it completely stocked the market and was sold with difficulty. 
It increased each subsequent year up to 1824, making in that year a delivery 
of 9,541 tons. In 1825 it ran up to 28,393 tons, and kept along at nearly that 
rate until 1832, when 70,000 tons were delivered. From that time it went regul- 
arly on increasing, until in 1839, it has delivered 221,850 tons. And now that 
it has got its momentum, who can guess where it will end?" 

Due to a greater proximity to the markets of New York and Philadelphia 

both Schuylkill coal and that from the Mauch Chunk mines became established 

there before the Susquehanna product could gain a footing. T.he Susquehanna 

Democrat of November 12, 1824 thus reflects a peculiar situation which arose 

in the New York market of that year: 

"The New York papers begin to lament the scarcity of fuel and express their fears that they 
will not be able to get their susual supply of Liverpool Coal, nor yet make up the defficiency from 
the Schuylkill or Lehigh. Their distresses are much regretted, but if the New Yorkers are so 
disposed, they can prevent a recurrence of the like difficulties in future years. Coal of the best 
quality can even in the present state of the Susquehanna navigation, be delivered at the head of 
the Chesapeake Bay, from Wilkesbarre, at about five dollars per ton — and we have no doubt that 
in a few years, the navigation will be so much improved as to enable us to deliver Coal at the head 
of tide {or four dollars per ton. All we want is capital, to carry the business on. Let the people 
of New York, Boston and Baltimore, think of it — and perhaps a trade may be established which 
will prove mutually beneficial and accommodating." 

The shortage of that fall commanded a complaint in the New York Evening 

Post of November 2, 1824, as follows: 

"A number of our citizens have put themselves to the expense of fitting up grates of a 
peculiar construction to burn the Schuylkill coal, which they were led to expect would have been 
for sale in New York at least two months ago. They are now, to appearance, as near obtaining 
it as when it was first spoken of . But this is not all. The owners of the Liverpool vessels, believing 
that this market would be overstocked with Schuylkill coal, have not brought us the usual supply, 
in consequence of which, Liverpool coal has risen to 17 or 18 dollars a chaldron. 

"About a month ago when every one expected the arrival of the boats with the native 
coal, the former could have been purchased at 12 dollars a chaldron. All kinds of fuel have risem 
upon us in a manner both distressing and indeed alarming. We are afraid that speculation have 
had some hand in this. If so, their conduct cannot be too severely reprobated." 

Rarely, however, in the early days was there an insufficient supply in any 
market. Instead, the opposite tendency usually prevailed. But in spite of the 
fact that different sources of supply were competing against each other for sea- 
board markets, the business responded amazing after the year 1825, for those 
who patiently spread the propaganda of its use and were content to await such 
results as this form of advertising might bring. 

As to this competition and the rather dubious outlook of meeting it on the 
part of the more distant Wyoming coal, the following sentiments, expressed by 
a Wilkes- Barre correspondent of the Philadelphia Album, a widely circulated 
weekly journal of the period, may be found interesting. Under date of Saturday, 
vSeptember 25, 1830, and the title of "Wilkes-Barre," the following appeared: 

"Coal is the p'rominent object of attention here. It is almost incredible to what a height 
the excitement with regard to this subject has risen. It is expected instantly to raise the price of 


land and labour; to pour the wealth of the whole state into the lap of the valley, and to accom- 
plish — God knows what. Those who now swink and sweat over their plough wil Heave it for the 
carriage; and, from Dan to Beersheba, plenty and pleasure are to bear unmeasured sway. It 
is the coming of the canal that is to work these wonders; and we have been for years most de- 
votedly wishing and waiting for this consummation — our mouths open for the dropping of the 
manna. But it has not yet come; and when it does, it will be with the inseparable follower of 
such expectations, dissapointment. The presence of coal has no doubt its advantages; but they 
are advantages in which the whole state will share. The coal of Wyoming Valley is pronounced 
by Professor Silliman to be, in the farthest sense of the word, inexhaustible. It overspreads the 
whole country. It is impossible to walk a quarter of a mile in any direction without discovering 
the unequivocal demonstration of its presence. Its extent is not ascertained, and cannot be com- 
puted. From the abundance of coal it must be obvious, that the value of the mineral here cannot 
be much greater than the expense of mining it. 

"The most sanguine cannot anticipate a permanent and unglutted market for the immense 
quantity of coal which is now, from every quarter, pouring into Philadelphia. The works at 
Mauch Chunk, in consequence of their recent improvement, are or will be greatly extended; 
the Pottsville mines, even supposing them, as alleged, eventually exhaustible, will for a long 
time coniinue to furnish a large quantity. It is impossible that the market can sustain the addition 
of the Wyoming coal, without a reduction of the demand ; and, however great may be the facilities 
of navigation, it will be found impracticable to send it to so remote a market at a price much lower 
than the present. 

"Still it has its advantages. It will, for a while at least, afford a handsome profit on its 
transportation, and furnish a ready market for our produce. It will, if permanently pursued, 
crowd our valley with a dense population; but one which will not elevate its character, though, 
by enhancing the value of land, it must increase its prosperity. 

"We boast another source of wealth, iron. The extent of it is not ascertained, but from my 
own observation, I know it to be great. The advantages presented for iron works, from the abund- 
ance of coal, wood, and water, render this an object worthy the attention of the wealthy and 

A Typical Cargo Boat of the Later Canal Era 

adventurous. The streams of this country afford many valuable mill-seats. Among these the 
Lackawanna is the first. It pours down from the mountains a copious and constant torrent, 
and presents situations for mills unequalled in the state. It passes through a country full of coal, 
iron, and timbers, and has, for the establishment of manufactures, a combination of advantages 
seldom seen. Property on this stream is at present cheap, but rising rapidly. 

"The presence of so many different sources of profit demonstrate, beyond a doubt, that 
this valley, must be, at no remote period, the seat of industry and wealth. Indeed, its present 
progressive improvement is wonderful. The idle but enterprising race which generally pioneer 
in the path of the prudent and prosperous Dutchman, is gradually advancing further onward; 


while a population more thrifty and substantial supply its place. The natural advantages of 
the valley are beginning to be appreciated and improved; and, while individual prosperity is 
advanced, the general welfare is secured and extended." 

Editor Collins of the Republican Farmer was one who held to a tenacious 
faith in the future of mining. Among a number of articles of hopeful albeit some- 
what wistful, trend which featured the editorial pages of his weekly in 1837, 
was the following appearing in the issue of February 22d, of that year: 

"All things change. Improvement is altering as with the wand of magic, and as Spring 
opens we shall have probably new faces, new associations, new impulses, and new interests. To 
many this is not pleasant, either in prospect nor in reality. 

"Suppose all the coal land in this valley purchased by those coming from different quarters, 
north, south, east and west, and the activity necessary to render such investment of capital 
profitable fairly employed, what would be the change in the aspect of everything round us! What 
a different population from that now occupying this Valley! How increased in number, and how 
changed in views, feelings, religion, etc. 

"Standing at this point in its history but little more than half a century from its settlement, 
it is easy for us, limited as our opportunity has been, to embrace in the memory almost every 
inhabitant. With each house and its head we are acquainted, almost without exception. 

"The coal of this Valley, inexhaustible, as it is, it is very reasonable to suppose will be in 
other hands soon. It will require very, very little of that immense capital now waiting for pro- 
fitable investment to buy every foot of our land. At the average price of $40 per acre, the sum 
would not be anything like as great as has been expended by our nearest neighbors at Carbondale 
and Mauch Chunk. This result then is enevitable — that the moral features of this Valley — that 
the habits of the people, will be altered, and that in the place of that happy indolence which waited 
for the grass and grain to grow, as it did with but little culture, we shall have the sharpness and 
skill of competition — the restlessness and unwearying vigilance of those who wish to be rich. 
We are preparing for the consummation of this view. Starting in life as we do now just at its 
threshold, and soliciting, in common with others, patronage and property, certainly we ought not , 
to complain. 

"And yet that which induces the influx of a new population, must inevitably presuppose 
the emigrations of the old. The seller will probably go west, influenced by the same motives 
which led the purchaser of his property to dispossess him. The rich soil of Illinois of Indiana has 
attractions for him. The old names of the Valley — those identified with its earliest history, 
will remain perhaps; but what of his? Tempora Mutantui! 

"There are yet many fine bargains to be made — men of capital who wish to make safe in- 
vestments can do so here. No district or country holds out stronger inducements. No branch 
of business has increased more than the coal business. The Baltimore Company alone, have 
upon the bank of the River about 6,000 tons. 

" Besides this, Messrs, Borbridge & Donley, and other individuals have an immense quantity. 
All of which if our canal had been completed, would ere this have been conveyed to market. 

"During this week, we presume some thousands of tons have been started on the river. 
The remainder will be upon the bank, waiting the favor of freshets, perhaps till spring, by which 
time the quantity will be greatly augmented." 

In the same publication of April 12, 1838, appears what might now be 
termed a "snappy" contribution from the pen of one who poses as a would-be 
speculator in coal lands. 

The article in question serves a purpose in throwing a side light on the affairs 
of that period. In part it reads as follows: 

" Come all the way from Boston to buy coal land — heard much of making money here — 
Gad!'t don't look like it. I'll buy an anthracitometer at Pompton, and try my hand among the 
natives. Had no letter of introduction — only helps a chap now-a-days into troubled-put him 
right into the maw of the shark — kept looking around — heard little knots of men talking about 
land, eight and ten feet veins, extension of the canal, new railroad, beautiful valley, richest min- 
eral deposit in the world. All this fell upon my ear like the sweet and silver sound of the lute, 
though a deal more stirring. That man, (naming him,) said one, sold yesterday for the trifling 
sum of $20,000; and his neighbor, said another sold for $10,000. Having come all this way to 
make my fortune — force of early education — a New England lad, you know does nothing ir- 
reverently — concluded to lounge about — look into two or three graveyards — go to an evening 
meeting, sober myself, and see that the heart was in the right place, and the motive not improper 
before venturing upon this uncertain business, and rise in the morning with proper views and 
proper feelings, and then all right within. I'll see how the land lies. Slept soundly — heard the 
robin-red-breast carroUing his morning roundelay — couldn't stand it any longer — dressed myself 
and walked out upon the balcony of the third story — the sun just peeping above the Eastern 
hills — lovely sight — ^thought of the lines, 

" 'Oh, there is freshness in the morning air. 

And health, that bloated ease can never hope to share.' 

"All along for a mile the river was lined with rafts, arks, etc., running rapidly with a strong 
current to market. What's the value of the property that passes by here in the Spring on the 


Susquehanna? I'll ask that question. Don't believe any of them can answer it. — don't look like 
studious people — quick at conclusions, most likely, without much calculation. 

"Went down to breakfast — met a stranger from Poughkeepsie, ripe for trade and specu- 
lation. Told me all about the art. — said he learned it some years ago in the Pottsville region — 
had his pocket full of maps and drawings of future improvements, etc. — half a dozen cities on 
paper — one at Pittston, another at Nanticoke — the plans of the cities were good — easy introduction 
of fresh water for the inhabitants. — had seen the Susquehanna bank full a few days ago at Lacka- 
wanna — thought it myself a fine place to raise water in the Spring for washing and cooking purposes. 
Profited in a small way by the aptness and wisdom of the York State gentleman's experience. 
Said he got along without a dollar — took pledges to convey property to him within^a given time 
at a stipulated sum — went off in a hurry, sold at an advance, and pocketed the excess; or if he 
failed to raise the wind and coax any body into the measure, why then he never returned! 

"Rode out a mile or two above to a plain, sensible man, whose land lay favorably to my 
notion — told me I might have his 4 or 500 acres at $30 per acre. Ask'd him to give me two months 
to conclude, and put his fist to a piece of paper obliging himself to convey within that period 
at that price, or forfeit $800. 'Cui Bono?' says he 'Why yours and mine of course,' replied I. 
He thought mayhap I did not look like understanding his lingo. But I did not come from the 
East, without a little smattering of the 'Typture tu patulae.' 'That's flat' said he 'why half the 
boys in Wilkes-Barre have been playing that game. I understand my own affairs.' I walked off 
— called at two or three other places with like success — abandoned the notion of coal speculations 
— crossed the river — called at New Troy — got out my horse and cargo of tin and wooden bowls, 
and thought it better to follow my old business." 

Canal Loading Basin, Susquehanna Coal Company, at Nanticoke, 1861 

Pearce devotes a chapter of his Annals to the early coal trade. From this 

narrative (p. 378) the following additional summary of events is taken: 

"We return now to the Susquehanna, and will proceed to give a brief account of the coal 
trade on that river, and also trace, as far as our limits will admit, the first developments of the 
Northern or Wyoming and Lackawanna anthracite coal-fields. Before entering on this narrative, 
however, a short paragraph in relation to bituminous coal may not be amiss. In 1785, Samuel 
Boyd, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania became the possessor of a large tract of land in what is now 
Clearfield county, and upon which bituminous coal was discovered. In 1803, William Boyd sent 
an ark-load of this coal to Columbia; and in a few weeks thereafter, John Jordan sent down a 
second ark -load, and this was the first bituminous coal which descended the Susquehanna. At 
this time, inconsiderable quantities of Liverpool coal were used in Philadelphia and Baltimore, 
and, consequently, the intoduction of our bituminous coal, igniting as readily as the foreign variety, 
would have been compartaively easy, yet we have no evidence that the Clearfield coal was used 
in these cities until 1815. In that year Phihp Karthauss descended the Susquehanna with three 
or four ark-loads to Port Deposit, whence it was shipped by sloops to Philadelphia and Baltimore. 


We have no positive evidence that the Wyoming coal had been used in Baltimore prior to this 
attempt of Mr. Karthauss to introduce the bituminous variety. But the fact that John and Abijah 
Smith were engaged in the business of shipping coal, and in no other, from 1808 until 1825, renders 
it probable that some of our anthracite reached Baltimore shortly after its introduction into 
Columbia. The Smiths were energetic, persevering men, and it seems not improbable that they 
shipped coal from Port Deposit to Baltimore before the attempt of Karthauss in 1815. 

"In 1813, Colonel G. M. Hollenback employed Daniel Gould to mine two ark-loads of coal 
from the bed above Mill Creek, at 75 cents per ton. In the fall of the same year, Joseph Wright 
Esq., loaded two arks with coal from an opening near the present depot of the Pennsylvania 
Coal Company, at Pittston. It was from this opening that Ishmael Bennett dug coal as far back 
as 1775, to use in his blacksmith shop. 

"About the same time (1815), General Lord Butler sent down the river 100 tons, mined 
from the old Baltimore bed, which, with that of Messrs. Hollenback and Wright, was the first 
coal from Wyoming to come in competition with Smith's at Marietta and Columbia. The price 
of coal at these places then ranged from $5 to S7 per ton. 

"In 1814, Crandal Wilcox entered the trade, and sent several arkloads of coal down the 
river from the old Wilcox mine, in Plains township. 

"In 1820, Colonel Washington Lee discovered coal in Hanover, on the Stewart property, 
which he had purchased; and in the same year he mined and sent to Baltimore 1000 tons, which he 
sold at $8 per ton. White & Hazzard, the same year, shipped only 365 tons of the Lehigh coal 
to market. Up to this date the total amount of coal sent from Wyoming is reckoned at 8500 
tons, while that from the Schuylkill and Lehigh regions did not exceed 2000 tons. And thus, it is 
seen, that in the year which dates the commencement of the coal trade, Wyoming sent to market 
a much greater quantity than the other portions of the anthracite field. 

"In our valley, at this time, grates and coal stoves were in general use; and Wilkesbarre 
was supplied with fuel from Lord Butler's mine at $3 per ton, delivered, while the farmers, each 
digging for himself, obtained their supply from the numerous imperfect openings in their several 

"In 1823, Colonel Lee and George Cahoon leased the Stivers mine in Newport, 14 feet 
vein, and employed Timothy Mansfield to mine and deliver 1000 tons of coal into arks at Lee' 
Ferry, at $1.10 per ton. Mansfield notwithstanding he was a Yankee did not understand coal 
mining; for, instead of tunneling and blasting, he removed a heavy covering of earth and slate 
from the vein, and broke it down with large iron wedges, at a fearful cost to himself, as well as 
to his employers, who sold the coal at Columbia for $1500 less than cost. 

"From 1823 to 1829 the Susquehanna coal trade increase with considerable rapidity. The 
completion of the canal, then under contract up to Nanticoke, promised new and enticing fac- 
ilities for the transportation of coal to market. The attention of Baltimore capitalists was directed 
to the Wyoming coal field, and in July, 1829, Thomas Simington, Esq., of that city, purchased the 
Lord Butler mine, 410 acres of land, for $14,000 or less than $35 per acre. Soon after this the 
Baltimore Coal Company was formed. 

"The completion of the canal to the Nanticoke dam, in 1830, gave a great impetus to 
business in this part of the state, which was further increased by the Tide Water Canal, construc- 
ted to avoid the dangerous navigation of the Susquehanna from Columbia to tide. In 1834, the 
canal was completed to the Lackawanna, affording facilities for sending the Pittston coal to 
market. A coal-bed was opened in a bluff, near the eastern end of the Pittston bridge, by Calvin 
Stockbridge, in 1828, and during three years he sent about 2000 tons down t e Susquehanna in 

"In 1838, Garrick Mallery and John and Lord Butler, Esqs. opened their mines at Pit- 
ston, connecting them with the canal by a railroad one mile and eight hundred feet in length, 
and in 1840 they shipped their first coal from Pittston by canal. 

"The completion of the Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad, in 1843, connecting Wilkesbarre 
with White Haven, promised another outlet to market from Wyoming coal. These improvements, 
together with the discovery of the methods of generating steam on boats, and of smelting iron 
in furnaces, by the use of anthractite, created a great and increasing demand for coal in all quarters 
of the state, and in the seaports of the country generally. At this time (1843) the coal operators 
in the valley and vicinity were, Washington Lee, Jameson Harvey, Freeman Thomas. Thomas 
Pringle, Henderson Gaylord, John Turner & Sons, J. B. Smith, Mallery & Butler, Boukley & 
Price, John Blanchard, David Lloyd, Jonathan Jones, The Baltimore Company (Alexander 
Gray, agent,) Nathan Beach, who opened his mine in the Rocky Mountain, below Shickshinny, 
about the year 1828, and the Wyoming Coal Company (S. Holland. H. B. HiUman & Alexander 
Lockart) . 

"In 1838, the Wyoming Company connected their lands, 500 acres in Hanover, with the 
Nanticoke pool or slack-water, by a railroad 2 miles in length, and a basin, at a cost of $22,700. 
They shipped their first coal in 1840, and in 1847 Colonel Hillman shipped 10,000 tons of coal from 
the old Blackman and Solomon Gap or Ross mines to New York and Philadelphia, via the Sus- 
quehanna and Lehigh Railroad, &c. This was the first considerable amount of coal sent from the 
valley by that route. 

"In 1842, Wyoming sent to market 47,346 tons of coal; in 1843, 57,740 tons; in 1844, 
114,906 tons; in 1845, 178,401 tons; in 1846, 166,923 tons, and in 1847, 285,462 tons. 

"In 1850 the Pennsylvania Coal Company completed their railroad to Hawley, and com- 
menced shipping coal from Pittston to New York. This, with the exception of the Delaware 
and Hudson, is (1850) the largest Company in Luzerne. It owns about 10,000 acres, of which 
6000 are coal lands, and ships annually about 600,000 tons to market. 


"The North Branch Canal was completed in 1856, connecting us with the New York im- 
provements, and during the fall of that year 1150 tons of coal were sent up to Western New York. 
In 1857, 2274 tons passed up to the same destination; in 1858, 38,947 tons; and in 1859, 51,914 
tons. By the extension of the Lackawanna and Bloomsburg Railroad to Northumberland, and 
the finishing of the lateral roads connecting with the Susquehanna and Lehigh Railroad, all of 
which has been accomplished at the present date, and Wyoming coal is now transported by rail 
and canal to all the inland and seaboard cities of the country. The amount shipped from the 
Wyoming coal-field may be reckoned as follows: From 1808 to 1830, 48,500 tons; from 1830 
to 1840, 350,000 tons; from 1840 to 1850, 1,407,554 tons and from 1850 to 1860, we estimate the 
amount at 4,079,053 tons, exclusive of that mined in the valley by the Pennsylvania Coal Com- 
pany. The total amount mined in the Wyoming Valley down to 1860, is 10,293,376 tons. 

"The shaft of the Dundee Company, in Hanover township has been sunk to the perpen- 
dicular depth of 792 feet, where the Nanticoke or Mill vein was struck, which is 12 feet in thick- 
ness. It is the first vein below the surface, and the sixth from the bottom. This proves the 
truth of the theory that the flats or lowlands in the valley are underlaid with coal " 

With reference to the formation of companies for mining purposes and the 
rise of the independent coal operator to a position of influence and wealth in 
the community, the present writer finds it necessary to quote at length from 
earlier historians. There is little of original record remaining for the searcher 
for facts upon which he may base 
his own narrative. Speculation 
in coal properties was so rife in 
the period referred to, and the 
ownership and management of 
many of these early mining ven- 
tures were changed so frequently 
that cross sections of the sit- 
uation at certain intervals must 
suffice to give to a present day 
reader an idea of the epoch. As 
one company succeeded another, 
older records of the business, ex- 
cepting those which pertained 
to title, were considered value- 
less and frequently destroyed. 
Stich statistics of the trade as were preserved have already been quoted or will 
be dealt with later. Both Wright and Pearce wrote of mining operations and 
of the men involved in the forties and fifties from a personal contact with the 
times. Each speaks of the arrival in Wilkes-Barre of Alexander Gray as marking 
a progressive step not to be overlooked by him who records the development 
of mining. One of the earliest outside capitalists to reach the valley with an 
idea of engaging in the business on an extensive and permanent scale was Thomas 
Simington, a prominent citizen of Baltimore. After a creful survey of the situ- 
ation, he negotiated for the business being conducted by John L. and Lord Butler. 

After purchasing the holdings of these pardners in land and mine equipment 
for a price which barely reached thirty-five dollars per acre for the former, 
ISIr. Simington returned to Baltimore in July, 1829, and interested others with 
him in the formation of the Baltimore Coal Company. They selected Mr. 
Gray, then a young and enthusiastic engineer, to manage the property. Mr. 
Gray removed to Wilkes-Barre some time later with a constructive program in 
mind and an ability to put his ideas into practice. Up until his arrival, the coal 
of what then became known as the Baltimore opening in the East End portion 
of Wilkes-Barre, had been hauled by wagon to a point on the river bank near 
where the present Gas plant of the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company 

An Early Coal Breaker 


is situated. A crude loading chute ran from this point to the eddy water of the 
river below and, as the stage of water permitted this chute filled the w^aiting 
arks moored to the bank. 

The operation of the mine, however, was continued practically throughout 
the entire year, its product being stored on the bank until river conditions per- 
mitted the loading of boats. 

While the coming of the canal did not entirely end the shipment of coal 
by river, to reach the easier facihties of the former, Mr. Gray in 1836 constructed 
a gravity railroad, the first of its kind in the valley, from the mine opening to 
the canal basin. The rails were of wood and the empty cars were returned to 
the mine by horses. 

A contributor to the Advocate of March 12, 1845, refers to this railroad in 
an article which dealt in the main with a plan of making Wilkes-Barrea health 
resort by advertising numerous springs in the neighborhood, one of which, on 
the lands of Capt. H. Parsons, was supposd to contain medical properties of 
a decidely healing nature. The railroad reference in the same article is as follows: 

"One suggestion more. The great Baltimore mine presents to the stranger 
the most ready and impressive view of our coal formation of any I have seen, 
but it is difficult of access. Could not an arrangement be made with Mr. Gray, 
a gentleman while thoroughly 
attentive to his business, yet 
courteous and obliging, to allow 
a neat car to run up his railroad 
for the accommodation of pas- 

Almost coincident with the 
formation of the Baltimore Coal 
Company, was the driving of the 
Grand Tunnel at Plymouth. 
Perhaps no event concerned with the early anthracite trade appeals more to 
the imagination of readers of a present generation than does the story of the 
faith and persistence of a single individual who struggled forward on an un- 
charted course, for nearly three years. At the end, almost assured that he had 
failed in his carefully completed reckonings and practically bankrupt as a result 
of his efforts, he was to find his dreams realized in greater measure than he or 
anyone else of his time ever contemplated. 

In 1811 Freeman Thomas, a former resident of Northampton County, 
settled on a farm he had purchased in Plymouth Township and upon which he 
conferred the euponious title of Avondale. In addition to a knowledge of farming, 
Mr. Thomas gained considerable information as to coal formations after he 
reached the valley from a study of geology and associations with Andrew Beau- 
mont who entertained many correct theories as to anthracite strata. Up until 
his experiment, no coal measures of the valley had been tapped excepting those 
whose outcrop gave unmistakable evidence of their presence. And it was many 
years following this same experiment before shafts below the river level were 
attempted by even the most daring. Studying the rock strata closely, Mr. 
Freeman was convinced that by tunneling through a thick measure of rock 
which pitched at a steep angle on the eastern face of the Plymouth mountain, 
he would strike the same veins of coal which underlay that particular rock 

Alex Gray & Sons Shinplaster 


stratumn in other portions of the valley. Wright in his Historical vSketches of 
Plymouth, thus describes the eflfort of Mr. Freeman: 

"Mr. Thomas was in advance of most of his neighbors in his knowledge of coal measures. 
At an early day he commenced driving the 'Grand Tunnel' into the mountain side, with the pur- 
pose of striking the coal. This was probably as early as IS 28. This was the first experiment of 
tunneling in the Wyoming Valley through rock. He labored on very assiguously for several 
years before the object was accomplished. His neighbors regarded the enterprise as Utopian, 
but amidst all obstacles, and against the counsel and advise of his friends to abandon the tunnel, 
he moved steadily and persistently on; and after three or four years of persevering labor, and 
with his credit almost sunk, he struck the big red ash vein. 

"This experiment established a new theory, new at least in this valley. And the 'Grand 
Tunnel' as its constructor named it, will long be remenbered as one of the most expensive efforts 
of the early days of the coal pioneers, as also a monument to commemorate the name of the man 
whose sagacity and foresight were far in advance of his contemporaries. In the toiling years 
which he devoted to the excavation of the tunnel, he constantly encountered the opposition of 
his friends; and many of them failing in argument to convince him of what they called his error, 
would laugh at and deride him. as the last means of driving him from his fixed and determined 
purpose. But to all this he meekly submitted, still holding on to his own convictions, and finally 
proved to them all that the error was with them and not with himself. 

"Freeman Thomas lived to a good old age. He died in 1847, at his home in Northumber- 
land countj'. in his eighty-eighth year. He left the valley for his new residence some ten years 
before. His children are still the owners of the ' Grand Tunnel' property, and they also own and 
undivided interest in Avondale. 

"Not long after the construction of the 'Grand Tunnel', Jameson Harvey discovered coal 
upon his premises near by. And these two coal properties being most eligible to the canal, were 
more extensively worked than any other mines in the township. William L. Lance became the 
lessee of the 'Grand Tunnel' property in the year 1851. He carried on the business of mining 
and transporting coal from this mine for several years, and became otherwise very largely engaged 
in the trade." 

Turning to additional sources of information as to the Baltimore and other 
mines of importance in the forties, use may be made of the "Recollections" of 
J. Bennett Smith who contributed to a local newspaper in 1905. His references 
to mining were as follows: 

"The Baltimore Coal Co., with Alexander Gray as general manager, had a mine located 
on Coal Creek, near what is now Five Points, was among the first and largest in the vicinity of 
Wilkes-Barre. The coal was run by gravity 
in mine cars to Gray's Basin, which was 
just east of Market street about in the rear 
Brown's block, and there loaded it into 
canal boats and shipped to market, mostly 
as lump coal. The only small sizes shipped 
were hammered through cast iron perfor- 
ated plates and broken by hand hammers 
through the perforations, then screened by 
revolving screens turned by man or horse 

"During the early forties Samuel 
Holland opened a mine at Warrior Run and 
hauled the coal to Hanover Basin, just 
below Butzbach's Landing, and shipped it 
from there to market by canal. He also 
operated a mine at Port Griffith. He was a 
man of great enterprise but failed because 
he was a generation ahead of his time. 

"Herman B. Hillman, father of 
Baker Hillman, was also a heavy operator 
near Midvale, and Jamison Harvey, Free- 
man Thomas and William L. Lance were 
among the early operators at West Nanti- 
coke. Col. Washington Lee of East Nan- 
ticoke who afterwards sold his land to 
Parrish, Stickney & Conyngham for $1,600,- 
000, was one of the early shippers of coal. 
The principal men at Plymouth were Abija 
and John Smith, Wiiliam C. and Fuller 
Reynolds, John J. Shonk and Samuel Frenc h 
and others whose names I cannot recall. 

"The old Blackman mine, now the 

Breaker Boys 

Franklin mine, was operated by Jonathan Jones, an uncle of Edwin Jones, president of the Vulcan 
Iron Works. This coal was sent to market via the .A.shley planes and Lehigh Canal. 


"About 1847 Mordecai and Hillard came from Charleston, vS. C, and purchased the Bow- 
man and Beaumont land and commenced developments. They built the Hillard block at the 
Corner of Main and Union streets, also the large grist mill on Union street. O. B. Hillard was 
killed a few years later by being caught between a trip of coal cars and a pile of stock coal near 
the Baltimore mine. 

'"Among the early operators at Pittston were Lord and John L. Butler of Wilkes-Bane, 
the Bowkleys, the Prices, Griffiths, Tomkins and Johnsons and others. The largest shippers 
were the Butlers, Bowkleys and Johnsons. 

"All the coal up to 1850 was mined by drifts and tunnels above water level. There 
were a number of small mines operated for local consumption. On the West Side, at Mill 
Hollow, was Raub's and Ziba Hoyt's; at or near Blind Town (Larksville) were Elias Hoyt and 
Harry Pace; on the east side of the river was A. C. Laning, on HoUenback's land back of the 
Baltimore mine, where we drove the teams into the mines and loaded the coal from the face of 
the chambers. This mine caught fire and burned for many years.* John Jamison at the old 
Spring House on the mountain had another mine which is now being stripped of surface by the 
Red Ash Coal Co.i There was another extensive opening at Ross's old mill at Solomon's Gap, 
and William Preston's mine near Sugar Notch, and others along the stream down the valley. 
All of these were worked at water level, where the veins of coal were exposed by the streams 
utting through the coal measures. 

"About 1853 the rolls and breakeis were introduced with screens to separate the different 
sizes of coal. About this time, too, they commenced sinking shafts and working below water 
level, which made an entire revolution of the coal business. Among the notable men who came 
to the front about this time were such prominent figures as Charles Parrish. William L. 
Conyngham, Joseph Stickney, Harry Swoyer, Thomas Brodrick, Lewis Landmesser and many 
others. The most notable figure of all the men engaged in the development of the coal industry 
in the vicinity was Charles Parrish." 

From still another source and referring to a period in the next decade, 
the North American and U. S. Gazette of Philadelphia published, on December 23, 
1855, the following account of mining operations furnished by a Wilkes-Barre 
contirbutor : 

"The Baltimore Company, whose property lies just above the town of Wilkes-Barre, 
is in the highest degree prosperous under the management of Mr. Gray, a gentleman whose 
practical knowledge of mining is equalled by his accurate and extensive knowledge of the region. 
The outlay of this Company for lands and improvements is about $150,000; and although its 
market is a most exclusively the southern, by no means equal to the northern, where the winters 
are longer and manufacturing interests larger and more active, yet thig Company clears annually 
$60,000. Several smaller operations are in the vicinity of the Baltimore Co.. and the North 
Pennsylvania Company is in progress of development not far distant. This Company is formed 
of Philadelphians, who were the first to 
discover the value of the land hereabouts. 
Passing below the town, one encounters 
the lands of the Empire Coal Company, 
which belong almost exclusively to Phila- 
delphians, 16 or 17 gentlemen (one at 
Wilkes-Barre) having purchased and paid 
for the whole tract, and subscribed a 
sufficient sum to develop it, which they 
are doing with the greatest energy, con- 
tinuing the work night and day, to be 
in readiness for the next season's bus- 
iness. Their property has a front of 
1150 feet on the canal, and will connect 
in the rear by a short road with the 
Lehigh Company's road. They have 
cut the top, or seven foot vein, twenty- 
feet below the surface, and having from 
two to three hundred tons of coal ex- 
cavated already. Their purpose is to 
reach the Baltimore or great vein of the 
valley by the 1st of March. Their whole 
operation is for cash, and no debt of any 
kind impedes them Next is Stanton & 
Co's., improvement, which is also in 
Philadelphia interest, and is being pushed 
with energy and ability. The Wilkes- 
Barre Company is next. I believe it is 

West Market Street — Circa 185S 

principally held in New York, and is doing a successful business this year. Its coal 

♦Editor's Note. The 6re above referred to is, in 1924, still burning in the outcrop vein of this mine and effects 
of the fire can be seen by pedestrians and motorists from the East End boulevard along the ledge east of that thorough- 
fare. * * * 

tThe Red Ash Coal Company is (1924) contending with a very serious fire near where this stripping was made 
on Wilkes-Barre mountain. 


is of excellent quality, and deservedly popular in the market. The Hartford Coal Company's 
property lies at the foot of the plain, on the Lehigh Company's road, and is in active preparation 
for a large business. The New York and Wyoming Coal Co., is a new and energetic organization 
of the Rose Mill property; is owned in New York, and will be prosecuted with the usual energy 
of that city. The William Penn Coal Co., is a new Philadelphia enterprise, including three gentle- 
men here. It belongs, principally, to the Quakers in the city, who with their habitual prudence, 
have paid for the whole property, subscribed the money to develop it. which will be done at once 
the Company being clear of debt of any kind. Below, and adjoining the William Penn. are the 
lands of the Kimberton Coal Company, also owned in Philadelphia, including two or three gentle- 
men of Wilkes-Barre. This property is wholly paid for, and no debt of any sort encumbers it. 
Near this, is the Dundee Coal Co., also a Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre interest. But the largest 
and most important among the new enterprises of the Valley, is the Consolidated Coal Co., owned 
by gentlemen of Philadelphia, New York Wilkes-Barre and New England. This, is, perhaps, 
one of the most extensive Anthracite investments made by a single company in the State. It 
comprises over 800 acres, all coal land, extending from the back, or mountain road, to the river, 
on both sides of the canal, and running along the Lehigh Company's railroad, near the foot of 
the first plain. These lands lie about equa-distant from the Empire and William Penn and Kim- 
berton Coal Co's., belonging, in part, to the same owners, by whom they will be held clear of 
debt, for the land or improvements. Without disparagement to any others, it may be safely 
said that these four companies, the Enpire, W'illiam Penn, Kimberton and Consolidated Company 
have a basis not subject to fluctuations, all of their lands being first class coal lands, selected with 
great care, belonging to efficient business men, by whom they have been brought for investment, 
and who will develop them on a cash basis. 

"The purchase of these four tracts is in pursuance of an object for some time cherished 
by certain of our citizens, viz' to place sufficient active capital in this part of the Wyoming Valley 
to justify the Lehigh Railroad in ample expenditure for improvements to facilitate the commerce 
of the valley, which improvements the Lehigh Company promptly began the moment they 
were assured of bona fide investments for development. These four companies have invested 
about S800,000, and they will own in feet not less than 2300 acres, all coal, including all the im- 
portant veins, measuring probably one hundred millions tons, lying contiguous to all the avenues 
to market. The canal, the Lehigh Railroad (and those projected) pass through parts of the prop- 

"Each company will be, as stated, clear of debt, and under its own direction, but having 
a unity of interest and combination of effort that must secure success." 

The use of mechanical contrivances as an aid to mining gained ground, 
but slowly. 

The "stone coal" offered problems as to blasting, crushing and screening, 
which did not handicap the producer of the bituminous variety. Until the 
vSmiths, in 1818, in their Plymouth mine exploded the theory, it was a matter of 
general opinion that anthracite, owing to its lack of cleavage, could not be 
successfully blasted. Early shipments were all in run of mine form. It was 
left to the purchaser to break up the Itimps into whatever sizes he needed — a 
staggering task to the uninitiate as anyone who has tried it will testify. The 
Baltimore company was the first to attempt to prepare its product for the con- 
sumers' needs. These experiments, however, did not follow until 1842. They 
consisted of merely the crudest attempts of a hand wielded sledge accomplishing 
the breaking of large lumps placed upon an iron plate through the perforations 
of which shattered remnants of coal passed. 

It was the call for a graded size of coal for use on locomotives that finally 
turned the attention of operators to more scientific methods of anthracite prep- 
aration. In 1843, practically all locomotives were wood burners. The sparks 
thus generated became so menacing to buildings and forests along the way that 
the legislature of Pennsylvania in that year appointed a commission "to enquire 
into the practicability and expediency of using mineral coal exclusively as fuel 
for locomotives and of prohibiting by law the use of any other fuel for such pur- 
pose." After gathering much testimony on the subject it was found that an- 
thracite was successfully burned by locomotives of the Beaver Meadow railroad. 
S. D. Ingam, who made the report for this railrod made plain to the commission 
that ordinary run of mine coal, while readily ignited, would not burn for a long 
period unless the locomotive was in motion, thus supplying a forced draft for 


the coal. Not being able to extend the height of the stack, as was possible to 
secure a better draft in a stationary boiler, Mr. Ingam gave, as his opinion, that 
by the use of anthracite broken to proper size, the difficulty would be overcome. 

While other devices than the crude nethods of the Baltimore company 
were devised in succeeding years, it was not until the year 1853 that the Delaware, 
Lackawanna and Western Railroad installed at Scranton a device for elevating 
coal to a level high above ground and breaking it for the use of its locomotives 
by mechanical means as it slid through an inclined chute. The modern coal 
breaker is an evolution of the railroad's successful experiment. 

George B. Markle of Hazleton is credited with applying many devices to 
his breakers in the nature of labor saving machinery and Eckley B. Coxe, an 
eminent engineer who with his brothers successfully engaged in the coal business 
at Drifton in 1865, built the first breaker of the anthracite field in which iron 
constituted the chief material of the structure. 

The purpose of presenting various descriptions from different sources of 
the development of anthracite mining in the period from 1820 to Civil War 
times has been to give the reader opportunity to reach conclusions of his own as 
to foundations upon which the basic industry of the community has been reared. 

The discouraging task of introducing anthracite to general use was a story 
in itself. Having been introduced, the next great task was one of transportation 
of the supply to points where the demand existed. Having supplemented the 
river by canal and the canal, in turn, by railroad facilities, the task then remained 
of changing mining methods to meet conditions imposed by the law of supply 
and demand. The second epoch of anthracite which we are now considering, 
saw the business expand from a wedge and shovel stage to a point where large 
amounts of capital were employed in single operations and where machinery, 
however crude as judged by present standards, was called upon to assist in the 

To secure capital necessary for the industry's development was a task in 
itself. One may wonder today as to prices paid for land in that period: prices 
which seem ridiculously low in light of the present. But prices as well as con- 
ditions of the business at the period mentioned must be taken into consideration. 
Editor Collins in the Republican Farmer of May 16, 1838, touches upon this very 
point as follows: 

"A new era we verily think and hope is dawning upon the fortunes of this hitherto torpid 
region. The stationary character of the business of this section, remaining for years past as it 
has about the same maximum, has been attributed to the lack of energy and enterprise of our 
citizens. This we consider to have been a very harsh judgment, and not warranted by the premises. 
An enterprising disposition exists to a paramount degree in all American communities. It gen- 
erally lies dormant however, and very properly unless inducements in the shape of well founded 
expectations of profit call it forth. There has been heretofore few or no inducements for capitalists 
to step forward and make investments in any enterprise. To the great coal deposits is looked 
as the source of great wealth and prosperity. And it may at this time be very justly regarded 
in this light, as avenues are opening in all directions for carrying it off. But as it was heretofore 
situated by the mean contrivances of Philadelphia, land locked on every side, it was almost 
valueless to the people, except the quantity consumed by themselves, as tho' it were in the moon, 
small quantities, it is true, were carried on the Spring and Fall freshets of the Susquehanna, and 
more recently on our state canal, but its value was for a long time unknown, and as a large supply 
of wood fuel still remained, it was difficult to introduce it into use generally. Predjudices have 
been gradually overcome, however. The supply of wood is decreasing, but still along the region 
accessable by means of state improvements at present furnished the demand in proportion to 
the quantity that could readily be furnished is exceedingly limited. The market is quickly glutted. 


and as a consequence, the price is so reduced as to make engaging in it as a regular business, 
no object. Where then we would ask, was the inducements to enterprise for this people. They 
learned by bitter experience that it was a sacrifice of time and money engaging in the coal busi- 
ness and it got into disrepute. It was justly considered folly to persist merely for the sake of enter- 
prise. The people were ever ready to dispose of their coal lands almost for nothing to those who 
were desirous of entering into the business. This was certainly a most sure indication of an 
enterprising disposition as it was holding out every inducement for investments by cai)italists." 

It was the same low valuation of land that first interested capital from 
Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and New Ens^land. 

In 1830 the population of Luzerne County was 27,399. Ten years later 
it had grown to 44,006. The half century mark found it 56,070. The year 1860 
found the mark at 90,244. Among the original settlers and their families were 
few men of any great wealth. Only a small number of the larger mining operations 
were, or could, from the circumstances if the case, be locally owned or locally 

Those who looked ahead, realized that the investment of outside capital 
would prove the only means available of placing the industry on a substantial 
basis, of bringing men to the community fitted by knowledge and experience 
for handing large enterpises, and, as this combination of capital and new blood 
opened addition mines and acquired additional lands, it was patent to them that 
population would increase rapiidly and general prosperity increase proportion- 
ately. Yankee shrewdness thus played no unimportant role in laying the found- 
ations of a great enterprise. 



" \'ast Ages rolled. Man smote a simrk 
And lit a torch to pierce the dark, 
The glory brightened, flame Ijy flame, 
Until triumjihant Science came! 
Then blazed from street and storied height 
A myriad vSuns. 'And there wa light.' " 

— Frederick Moxon. 

' Lo, on every side are found 

Graven stone and grassy mound, 
Shaded hillock, dale and slope. 
Sanctified bv Faith and Hope." 

— /. H. Woods 


'See how the noble river's swelling tide, 
Augmented by the mountain's melting snows, 
Breaks from its banks and o'er the region flows." 

— BlacI^Dian. 

The period naturally included in the present Chapter is a period unique 
in many respects as compared with other eras of local history. 


It embraces, roughly, a span of fifteen years, beginning with the appearance 
of the community's first pubhc utihties and ending with the immediate echoes of 
the Civil war. 

In the main, it was an age of materialism. Prosperity had set its seal in 
no uncertain terms upon citizen and community alike. In 1850, the population 
of Luzerne County was numbered at 56,072. The census of 1860, at the very 
threshold of a titanic civil conflict showed an amazing increase to 90,244. 

The increase in urban population was not as noticeable as in the larger 
area, due to the fact that wide development of the anthracite business meant 
the gathering of substantial population centers near the scenes of mining oper- 
ations and lack of transportation between these outlying centers and the county 
seat itself permitted but little intercourse, commercial or otherwise, between 
them. Wilkes-Barre grew, however, on firm foundations. And in the growing, 
it demanded refinements and conveniences of life that had featured no earlier 
period of its existence. 

Long before the question of slavery was to reach its tragic processes of settle- 
ment in the actual theater of war, the telegraph had reached Wilkes- Barre. 
Evidencing rapid advancement in wealth and population figures, the character 
of the Public Square was to be almost wholly changed by the erection of a new 
court house, occupying almost the entire area of that territorial heritage from the 
community's original survey and crowding out the then dilapidated buildings 
which had marked the Borough's first strides in civic improvement. 

While discussions raged as to the location and even as to the advisability 
of a new court house, manufactured gas was to supplant the crude lighting 
facilities of both home and street within the Borough. 

The company supplying it was the first locally promoted and locally 
owned public utility. 

Coincident with the initial sounds of internecine conflict, the first water 
supply corporation of the community turned into its mains what was then, and 
still continues to be, one of the most adequate and healthful gravitv water 
services of the state. 

These pioneers in the field, as the chapter will disclose, were the foundation 
stones upon which subsequent mergers of all water supply, lighting and heating 
utilities were based and the tremendous corporations of a present day established . 

Expansion, once begun, gathered dimensions like the proverbial snowball. 
But the' times had not yet produced the men or perhaps the occasion for such 
refinements as spring from generous impulse or from an appreciation of responsi- 
bility on the part of individuals as to the humanities of community life, which 
were to leave their impress in later periods. In fact, with the exception of the 
founding, in a small way, of the Home for Friendless Children and a rather 
unusual incident, or, perhaps, coincident, leading to the establishment of the 
Wyoming Historical and Geological Society, no other welfare projects are a 
product of the period. 

It was an age dealing with material problems in a material way but halted, 
as will be seen, by the startling and revolutionary effects of the Civil war. 

A review of certain phases of the war itself and a narrative of the generous 
assistance in men and means which Luzerne County lent to the country in its 
darkest hours, constitute a story in itself and will be reserved for the next succeed- 
ing Chapter. 


The age was one rich in scientific discoveries and distinguished by invent- 
tions which were to add to the comfort and convenience of community Hfe as 
well as influence the habits and customs of individuals. Aside from the canal 
and turnpike, Wilkes-Barre, in 1850, was an isolated community. In that year 
came the telegraph, annihilating time and space insofar as communication was 

In the vear 1835, Morse crowned years of interesting experiment in the 
electrical field bv perfecting a crude instrument for recording dots and dashes 
produced bv making and breaking the electrical circuit of a similar instrument, 
the whole being coupled up by the use of wires. The arrangement of a code, 
understood by both sender and receiver, was a matter of detail. 

While there is but scant mention in the press of that period as to telegraph 
lines which were rapidly stretching over the country, the Wyoming Valle}- must 
have shared this interest. What meager records exist of such an event as the 
opening of a telegraph office at Wilkes-Barre proved, have been examined by 
the present writer with but slight satisfaction. Archives of the Western Union 
Telegraph Company, a successor of the first local company and of many like it 
the countrv over, throw but little light on the subject. The memory of no 
person living in the community when this is written reverts back to an anxious 
moment when some unknown operator listened for the first "tick" of a message 
from the outside world. 

The first mention of preliminaries to interesting the Borough in the tele- 
graph is found in the Advocate of November 15, 1848. That publication narrates 
that "a gentleman of Washington visited the village the early part of the week 
for the purpose of enquiring into the practicability of establishing a Magnetic 
Telegraph Line to connect with Philadelphia. * * * 'p^ insure the ex- 
tension of the line from that place to this it is necessary to raise subscriptions 
to stock here to the amount of $4,800.00." 

Whether this unnamed visitor was then successful in his promotion ideas 
and shared in the subsequent organization of a corporation is not knowm. 

The operating company was of Philadelphia origin but its promoters 
succeeded in securing the cooperation as well as the financial assistance of prom- 
inent residents of various communities through which its line was to pass. The 
charter bears date of March 29, 1849, the title of the corporation being the 
Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre Telegraph Company. Those actively associated 
with the venture are named as corporators in the charter as follows: 

Section I. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Common- 
wealth of Pennsylvania in General Assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of 
the same. That James Cox, Samuel D. Moore, J. Gilligham Fell, Josiah White, Erskine Hazzard, 
Mathew L. Bevan, Mathew Newkirk, John Brock George Abbott, Henry Cope, W. D. Cox, 
F. A. Comly, James Page, Jenkins Ross, Joseph Fisher, Edwin Walter, Louis Audenreid, Richard 
Jones, M. C. Jenkins, Charles Ferguson, W. S. B. Smith, George R. Field, James Rowlant, 
William Wallace, C. E. Spangler, J. R. White, George H. Hart, F. B. Haas, F. N. Buck, J. L 
Baum, Samuel L. Davis, F. A. Hinchman, and A. C. Goell, and John Thomason of Philadelphia, 
Samuel D. Ingham, James S. Rich, John Fox, Henry Chapman, Thomas Ross, Caleb E. Wright, 
John Davis, Henry J. C. Taylor, Caleb N. Taylor, Charles H. Mathews, James L. Shaw, Samuel A. 
Smith, William S. Hendrie, William Carr, John Buckman, John S. Bryan, of Bucks County, 
James N, Porter, Alexander E. Brown, Henrv D. Maxwell, Anthony M'Coy, Richard Brodhead, 
PhiHp Goell, and Charles Luckenbach of Northampton County, Henry S. King, John S. Gibbons, 
and John D. Morris of Lehigh County, Asa Packer and E- A. Douglas of Carbon County and 
Hendrick B. Wright, John N. Conyngham, Luther Kidder, Chester Butler. G. W. Hollenback, 
Harrison Wright, E. D. Mallory, E. W. Reynolds, A. C. Jauney, G. Bennett, A. T. M'Clintock, 
J. S. Slocum, and W. G. Gilhurst of Luzerne County, and such other persons as may hereafter 
become stockholders in the company called "The Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre Telegraph 
Company," their successors and assigns, shall be and they hereby are made and constituted a 


body politic and corporate for the purpose of making, using and maintaining telegraph lines and 
communications between the city of Philadelphia and the borough of Wilkes-Barre, and inter- 
mediate towns and villages by the name, style and title of "The Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre 
Telegraph Company." 

Following issuance of the charter, agents of the company were prompt in 
reaching Wilkes-Barre in the solicitation of stock sales. From the Advocate of 
June 6, 1849, we learn that "an agent is busy in procuring subscriptions. * * * 
In Easton and Bethlehem he was very successful. In the latter place stock was 
taken to the amount of $2,500." 

The line itself, it is learned from other sources, followed the turnpike 
from Wilkes-Barre, through Hazleton, Mauch Chunk, Allentown, Bethlehem, 
Nazareth, Easton and Doylestown, to Philadelphia. The real work of construc- 
tion, owing to weather conditions, was not begun until the Spring of 1850, when 
it was pushed through with considerable rapidity. On May 15th, it appears that 
stock subscriptions in Wilkes-Barre had reached a point sufficient to complete 
the last section and that "only a few hundred dollars are now needed." That 
these final subscriptions were shortly forthcoming may be gleaned from the 
following cheerful newspaper description which appeared under date of July 1 7th, 
the margins of which paper, are so worn by time that its name is not distinguish- 

"On Friday of last week (July 9, 1850) to the surprise of many and the gratification of all 
the Telegraph came stalking up Main street of the Borough and housed itself on the North side 
of Public Square. * * * f ^e enterprise and energy of the gentlemanly constructors of this 
line, Dr. A. C. Goell and James L. Shaw, Esq., cannot be sufficiently commended; both for their 
despatch and the rapid completion of their work of unrivalled excellence. It will be seen that our 
Borough is now placed in communication with the whole telegraphic world through Philadelphia 
and a separate line has been constructed to Berwick and Danville. The greater part of the stock 
has been taken to extend it to Pittston and the work is already commenced." 

The room occupied by the company "on the Ptiblic Square" is not mentioned 
in an}^ of the earlier notices of its selection as a terminus, but through an adver- 
tisement appearing in October, 1853, when it doubtless remained in its original 
location, we find that the "office of Morse's Magnetic Telegraph is at the drug 
store of Seth Tuck, Public Square, Wilkesbarre, now headquarters of the Phila- 
delphia and Wilkesbarre Company as well as that of the Susquehanna West 
and North Branch Telegraph Company." A few years later, both of these com- 
panies were absorbed by the Delaware River Telegraph Company, extensions 
being made in the system to include Carbondale. After the completion of the 
Atlantic cable and its opening on September 1, 1858, the way was paved for the 
consolidation on a big scale of many theretofore independent companies. This 
task was undertaken by the Western Union, chartered April 4, 1856 which, by 
the year 1866 had acquired practically all the telegraph lines of the east, con- 
trolling more than 75,000 miles of wire. 

Up until the appearance of the telegraph, Wilkes-Barre was without the 
services of a single corporation to-day classed as a public utility. 

"Every house hoisted water from a well by a windlass and crank, showing 
that there were cranks as far back as 1830." Samuel H. Lynch, Esq., somewhat 
facetiously remarked in an address "Reminiscences of Early Wilkes-Barre" 
delivered before the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society, October 18, 
1901. Continuing his description, the same historian states; "the water from 
these wells was of various quality, mostly too hard for Monday's wash day. 


Hotel of Col. J. J. Dennis, South AIain Street 

to obviate which, barrels and hogsheads were used to catch the water from roofs; 
also utilized to raise mosquitoes until old enough to raise themselves by trans- 

The town pump, on Market vStreet, has been hereinbefore mentioned as 
a source of water supply in case of fire. 

The first attempt of the 
community to secure a water 
supply other than that fur- 
nished by its wells is found in 
an Act of Assembly of May 5, 
1832 which chartered the Wilkes- 
barre Water and Insurance Com- 
pany. Nearly three years later, 
a meeting of those interested 
was held in the hotel of Col 
J. J. Dennis, at which time 
Andrew Beaumont, John Myers, 
Ziba Bennett and H. F. Lamb 
were named a committee to open 
subscription books. As no fur- 
ther mention of this enterprise 
can be found in records of that 
time or later, it is natural to im- 
agine that the community did 
not then feel the need of a water 
supply to the extent of risking money in a dubious venture. 

The subject, however, would not remain quiescent. In its edition of Jan- 
uary 24, 1844, the Advocate thus sums up what activities were then on foot: 

"We perceive that anxiety on the part of our citizens to have the Borough supplied with 
water, has not subsided. We hope it will not, until the object is accomplished. The project is 
feasible, and the means necessary, under proper arrangement might be raised. 

"By request of a number of citizens George W. Leuffer, Esq., a competent Engineer, 
and of much experience for one of his age, assisted by Mes.srs. Alexander, Dickinson, Maffet 
and Bennett, have made surveys, etc. which are now completed, and which establish the practic- 
ability of the project. Explorations have been made, and levels taken, on two routes; one from 
Coal Brook, and one from Laurel Run, either of which may be adopted. Mr. Leuffer has prepared 
a draft or sketch of both Routes, exhibiting in miniature the shape of the ground, together with 
the descent or fall on each route. This sketch may be seen by calling at his office on Franklin 
street. He is decidedly of the opinion that the water on one of these routes is sufficiently abundant 
to supply the town (with a greatly increased population) and that the ground admits of bringing 
the water into the Borough with a reasonable expenditure. Those interested, who are acquainted 
with Mr Leuffer, will place great confidence in his judgment, and be pleased to learn that the 
ground is so favorable. 

"It is hoped the subject will be kept in view, and that our citizens will unitedly put forth 
exertion until the important, the necessary object is accomplished." 

A month later, on February 24th, a meeting of citizens is reported by the 
same publication in the Phoenix Hotel, George M. Hollenback being named 
chairman and Eleazer Carey secretary of the gathering. 

From that time forward for a period of four years what, if any, activities 
were in evidence were not subjects of publicity. That Mr. Hollenback was im- 
pressed with the practicability of the scheme may be judged from the following 
mention of the Record of the Times under date of October 13, 1848: 

"Col. G. M. Hollenback, we know has had the question of bringing water into Wilkes- 
Barre under consideration for some years, and has had surveys made and estimates of the probable 


expense. Even with all the heavy interests now requiring his attention, we shall not be surprised 
soon to hear that he has determined to construct the works at his own expense knowing as he 
does, that the investment will not lie idle." 

But it was not until the year 1850 that a step was taken which was event- 
ually to provide the community with an adequate supply of water. 

By an Act of February 12th of that year legislative permission was granted 
to organize the Wilkes-Barre Water Company. 

The corporators were: George M. Hollenback, vSamuel P. Collings, Henry M. 
Fuller, W. J. Woodward, Lord Butler, Thomas W. Miner, Peter C. McGilchrist, 
Harrison Wright, Calvin Parsons, Ziba Bennett, George P. Steel, Samuel Puter- 
baugh, Oliver B. Hillard, Edward M. Covell, Sharp D. Lewis, Francis L. Bowman 
and Joseph LeClerc; President, Hendrick B Wright; Secretary and Treasurer, 
Isaac S. Osterhout; Managers, Alexander Gray, John Orquhart, William Wood, 
Charles Parrish, John Reichard and Samuel R. Marshall. The original capital 
stock was $40,000, with the privilege of increasing it to $80,000. By subsequent 
amendments it has been increased from time to time. In 1879 it amounted to 
$220,000, and in 1887 to $440,000. 

Books were opened at the Phoenix Hotel and secondary surveys, conducted 
by engineer C. F. Ingram, followed the course of several streams deemed suitable 
as a source of supply. 

These being finished, a meeting of those interested was called in Gaboon's 
hall in the Spring of 1858, when decisive action was demanded by those who 
felt that delay was no longer justified, particularly in view of the fact that the 
charter of 1850 required completion of the work by 1860. Laurel Run was fav- 
ored by a majority as the stream to be tapped, in spite of assertions made by 
members of the minority that "the stream ran dry in summer and froze solid 
in winter." To overcome both of these objections the company authorized the 
construction of a stone dam for storage purposes and let the contract for approx- 
imately three miles of 10 inch mains, the material of which was sheet iron lined 
with cement, to be furnished by the Patent Water and Gas Pipe Company of 
Jersey City. 

These mains reached the borough line at North Street and from them six 
inch taps of the same variety of pipe were carried under the principal streets. 
On June 15, 1859 it was announced that the sum of $23,000 had been subscribed 
toward the capital of the company and that the laying of mains was in progress. 
Records of the original company, now in possession of the Spring Brook Water 
Supply Company, state briefly that "water was turned on September, 1859." 
This is obviously an error, as mains had not reached the borough line at that time. 
The exact date of this event, as disclosed by newspapers of the period, was 
vSeptember 19, 1860, one of them describing the incident as follows.: 

"The long looked for Laurel Run water came running through town today. 
The force was sufficient to throw a stream from a three-fourth inch nozzle as 
high as the three story brick store of the south side of the Square." 

In spite of prophesies to the contrary, the company from the start was a 
financial success. Attachments were made to the mains on the part of some 
three hundred customers the first year, and lines were extended to meet districts 
not incorporated in the first survey. By 1869 an additional source of supply was 
in demand. This was met by diverting a portion of the waters of Mill Creek to 
the Laurel Run reservoir, the stream being carried by means of flumes and open 


ditches, and the work being completed on September 16, 1869. To overcome 
evaporation in the three mile stretch of open ditch which, in times of drought 
had a noticeable effect on the supply, the company, in 1876, laid a sixteen inch 
terra cotta connection between the two streams. The growing use for its product 
forced the company in 1874 to duplicate its connections between reservoir and 
the city, a fourteen inch main of iron pipe being laid which took care of the 
"Heights" district as well as augmented the supply of central city users. 

A final step taken by the company to complete its Laurel Run unit of 
supply soon followed. A long summer's drought indicated that the two streams 
feeding the Laurel Run basin would not adequately meet the situation. As an 
auxiliary source of supply it was deemed advisable to tap the Susquehanna above 
the mouth of Mill Creek. A pumping station, still in existence, but now unused, 
was thereupon constructed and on July 24, 1877, a steam pump, having a capacity 
of 800,000 gallons per day, was used to augment the reservoir supply in case of 

It is not the intention of this Chapter to narrate in detail the organization 
of subsequent corporations which supplied water to other portions of the Wyoming 
Valley nor trace the development of the original company in later times. The 
capital of this and other corporations furnishing a like service was increased 
from time to time as new sources of supply were needed and new districts of 
the community connected to their mains. Only once in the history of the original 
company was an epidemic of sickness traced to its supply. From the very nature 
of the water shed and its occupancy. Laurel Run was to prove an unsafe source. 
In 1889, just as had happened in Plymouth five years before, an unexpected 
and violent outbreak of typhoid feVer startled the community. Between 
June 20th and August 1st, two hundred and twenty-nine cases of the dread 
disease were reported. 

August added one hundred and ninety-seven more cases to the list, Sep- 
tember ninety-two cases and October forty additional cases. To those reported 
in the city, forty-two cases in hospitals must be added as well as fifty cases in 
Parsons and Miners Mills. 

A careful survey of the situation disclosed that practically all the six hun- 
dred and fifty cases then existing occurred in districts provided with water from 
t^e Laurel Run reservoir, This discovery led to the use of a water supply from 
a small reservoir at Pine Run supplemented by water pumped from the river 
which, followed by boiling the water before use, checked the contagion. To 
avoid its repetition stockholders of the Wilkes-Barre Water Company made 
overtures to the vSpring Brook Water Company, a Scranton concern then supply- 
ing water to both Scranton and Pittston and having a far greater capacity for 
the storage of its supply than the local company. The consequences of 
these overtures will hereinafter be noted. 

The earlier typhoid outbreak at Plymouth, above referred to, was on an 
even greater and more deadly scale than the later epidemic at Wilkes-Barre. 

The source of contagion in the former case was so unusual and its effects 
could be traced with such accuracy as to command wide attention at the hands 
of the medical fraternity. During the summer of 1885, typhoid cases in the 
Plymouth District multiplied so rapidly that the community soon realized that 
it was dealing not alone with an epidemic but with a catastrophe. 


Before the source of contagion could be definitely fixed and its cause rem- 
edied, one thousand one hundred and four severe cases had developed, resulting 
in one hundred and fourteen deaths. 

Located on a slope of the watershed from which the Plymouth Water 
company secured its supply were two houses, an occupant of one of which, 
returning from Philadelphia, found that he had contracted the disease in the 
latter city. No attention was paid to the sanitation of the premises and germs 
of the disease from this isolated case were washed into the lower Coal Creek 

The primary outbreak came from this source. A secondary stage of the 
epidemic followed when people, warned of danger in the company's supply, 
turned to abandoned wells and the river for water, only to find both sources as 
badly contaminated as was the original. The removal of the patient from the 
offending house and the razing of all residences formerly permitted to exist on 
the slope of the water shed averred further danger of contamination from that 
quarter and restored the confidence of consumers. 

It remained for the vSpring Brook Water Supply Company to consolidate 
various units in the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valleys w^hich had theretofore 
furnished water to some forty-five different localities of the anthracite country. 

Chartered March 2, 1896, with an authorized capital stock of $5,000,000 
and the authority to issue bonds in like amount, the new corporation proceeded 
rapidly with its plans of consolidation. In only three cases were the charters 
of the affiliated companies discontinued, the remaining forty-two companies 
concerned retaining their original franchises and being operated by the parent 
organization by stock control or perpetual lease. 

Starting with only four reservoirs of any useful proportion in 1896, the 
four being Spring Brook, Huntsville, Pine Run and Crystal Lake and a new 
auxillery pumping station from the river above the mouth of the Lackawanna, 
the company now controls forty-two reservoirs, including intakes; has a present 
storage capacity of over nine billion gallons of w^ater, which will be increased 
to approximately eleven billion gallons upon completion of the Watres reservoir 
along Spring Brook. 

Upon legislation sanction of the merger, the new company laid a thirty 
inch main along Wyoming Avenue connecting its main at Pittston with mains 
on both the east and west sides of the Susquehanna, thus giving the entire 
community an abundant supply of pure water which has been increased from 
time to time to meet the public's needs. Officers serving the company at the 
close of 1924 were, Louis A. Watres, President; Lawrence H. Watres, Vice- 
President and General Counsel; L. W. Healy, Vice President and General 
Manager, S. H. Hicks, Secretary-Treasurer. 

The first locally promoted and locally owned public utility to actually 
o+Ter its services to the community was the Wilkes-Barre Gas Company, chartered 
October 26, 1854. The original incorporators were George M. Hollenback, 
Hon. George B. Steele, Oliver B. Hillard, S. H. Puterbaugh, P. McGilchrist, 
Harrison Wright, John Reichard, Ziba Bennett, Charles Denison and Alexander 

The financial success of like ventures elsewhere brought subscribers to the 
$50,000 capital stock of the new venture much more quickly than in the case 
of any other local corporation thus far formed. 


The spring following receipt of the charter of this company found the site 

of Alexander Gray's sawmill and plaster Avorks adjoining the northern limits of 

the River common already decided upon as a location for the necessary structures 

of the plant and in less than a 

year from the date of charter 

the following cheerful item 

appeared in the columns of 

the Record of the Times: 

"In the report of boats, pub- 
lished in this issue, it will be seen 
that one left Philadelphia Monday 
(October 15, 1855) loaded with gas 
pipes. This looks like getting gas 
in our midst very soon and a glori- 
ous thing it will be. It is almost im- 
possible to navigate some of our 
streets on a cloudy night." 

Another item in the 
same publication under date 
of November 28, 1855, states 
that "gas pipes are being 
rapidly laid in our streets" 
while still further mention on 
January 29, 1856, fixed the 
status of the company then 
as follows: "Gas is being 
burned at the works, but has 
not yet been turned on in the 

The experience of con- 
sumers after Februarv 1, 1856, 


when the new product was actually turned into the mains is summed up in the 

following story of the Record of the Times dated February 6th. 

"The long looked light has burst upon us. A new era of improvement has come. Stores, 
offices and parlors are beautifully illuminated with a brilliant and pleasant flame of gas. What 
can be more delightful after groping our way so long in comparative darkness? 

"Everybody says we have always had gas enough in Wilkes-Barre, but if we have, it has 
never before been put to any good use. The company has given us a kind that is of some service. 
On Friday afternoon, Feb. 1, 1856, the meters were arranged and quite an excitement created 
by a general lighting up of innumerable burners. It took of course, one or two nights to get the 
air out of the pipes, during which time the flame was a dim one; but by Saturday night it burned 
pretty well, and on Monday night nothing could be prettier. The only material used in the manu- 
facture is the Pittsburg bituminous coal. In its combustion, the gas accumulated is conducted 
by pipes for the purpose, into the receiver, and from there through the ma'n pipes into the town. 
The tar is conveyed into a cellar made for the purpose. This, simple as it may seem is the whole 
operation of manufacturing that useful article, which is to prove so great a benefit to our town. 

"Bituminous coal is easily obtained from Pittsburg. The calculation is, that each burner 
will consume from 3>^ to 4 feet per hour, which at $4 per thousand, will be a little less than two 
cents an hour for each burner. The gas did not flow until Thursday, Jan, 3 1st, when we first had 
the light in our reading room — not very good, however. Friday somewhat brighter. Saturday 
we took down the old lamp. Monday very good, light enough, but some air in pipes yet." 

That the company proved financially successful from the start may be 
predicated upon the fact that four dollars per thousand cubic feet was the first 
price established, this price being raised to five dollars for a like unit during Civil 
War times S. R. Dickson, of Schuylkill County, erected the plant and continued 
as its manager for about a year after completion. 


In the Fall of 1857, Marcus Smith, a former manager of the gas plant at 
Honesdale, succeeded Mr. Dickson and became a well known figure in the 
community thereafter in connection with the management and merger of various 
lighting utilities. 

Strange as it may now seem, the hghting of streets in 1857 was deemed a 

matter for private enterprise, rather than a public dut}^ on the part of council. 

As a consequence, some of the community's thoroughfares were lighted, while 

others preserved their pristine gloominess after nightfall. Some that were hghted 

refused to remain so after popular subscriptions for that purpose failed. Thus, 

in the Record of the Times, under date of July 29, 1857, appears the following: 

"The gas lamps along Market street are useless these dark nights. They were put up and 
lighted a year by contributions raised by the exertions of C. A. Lane, Esq. Air. Lane is away and 
the gas stopped with the supplies. Must we continue to grope in darkness, or will not the Borough 
fathers take the case into consideration, and light the Iami« again? It is a public benefit and the 
public should pay for it." 

The "Borough F'athers" did take the lighting project in hand for several 
sessions and on December 30th, adopted the following compromise measure — 
"Resolved, that the Borough put gas lights at such street corners as may be furn- 
ished with iron posts and lamps at the expense of citizens desiring same, to be 
placed in position to be approved by the committee on gas, and the dog tax, 
with fines and licenses, are specially appropriated toward the expense of gas." 

While the original Gas Company earned large dividends for its share- 
holders, its methods of doing business brought down the wrath of consumers 
about its ears on more than one occasion. It was not until 1892, however, that 
this opposition assumed practical form in the incorporation of the Consumers' 
Gas Company which was granted the right to lay mains under streets of the city 
on June 7th. The stock control of the new company was vested in Abram 
Nesbitt, its first president, Edward C. Jones of New York, vice president, Jesse T. 
Morgan, secretar^^ E. W. Mulligan, Liddon Flick and John Flanagan, the latter 
members of the first board of directors. 

After a lively competition for business with the older company resulting 
in lowering the price of gas to $1.10 per thousand feet, it became apparent that 
a consolidation of interests w^ould best serve the community. Whereupon it 
was announced June 10, 1898, that such consolidation had actually been effected 
by prominent stockholders of the new company securing control of the old with 
an understanding that minority holders in both companies had the right to dis- 
pose of their holdings at prices paid for the majority interests. As an index 
of the earning power of shares of the original company at the time of merger, 
it may be stated that the holders of 2,600 shares whose par value at S50 per share 
represented $130,000 capital stock, received some $450,000 for their interests. 

Nor was consolidation to end with the merger of the two local gas cor- 
porations under the name of the Gas Company of Luzerne County with a capital 
stock of $750,000 and a franchise giving it the exclusive right to furnish gas to 
the city and many of its environs. 

A motive leading to the consolidation outlined above came from an in- 
creasing use of electricity for lighting purposes, thus throwing it into direct 
competition with the product of two gas producing organizations which were 
fighting each other for business. United, they could meet this competition to 
better advantage. 


While Sir Humphrey Davy had given to the world the results of his ex- 
periments in producing light by directing a current of electricity through two 
separated pieces of charcoal as early as 1807, nearly three quarters of a century 
were to pass before the arc light demonstrated an ability to adapt itself to com- 
mercial advantage. The first exhibition of this Hght in Wilkes-Barre was given 
in the Dickson plant on Canal Street on May 28, 1879. There a dynamo was 
erected and hghts installed. The exhibition attracted wide attention and se- 
cured the interest of such men as George H. Parish and Charles P. Hunt, but no 
steps were taken at that time to continue the lighting arrangement beyond the 
thirty day period of the exhibition. In December, 1880, nearly a year and a half 
after the exhibition was a closed chapter, officers of the Dickson plant decided 
to install a dynamo for the purpose of thoroughly testing out the new lighting 
principle. Consequently an Arnoux and Hochhausen dynamo of six lights 
capacity was procured, two of these lights being burned in the shops, one in- 
stalled in the Reading and Hunt hardware store, another carried on temporary 
wires to the Square and West Market Street and still another was hung at the 
intersection of South Main Street and the Square. The invention of the in- 
candescent lamp by Thomas A. Edison in 1879 and the demonstration that cur- 
rent for both the arc lamp as well as for the incandescent could be manufactured 
under one roof, lent encouragement to the formation of the Wilkes-Barre Electric 
Light Company, incorporated January 24, 1883, with a capital of $50,000. 

The corporators of the company were the following: J. H. Swoyer, 
George H. Parrish, Charles P. Hunt, William M. Miller, William J. Harvey, 
S. L. Brown, Isaac Long, WilHam Penn Ryman. 

This company almost immediately began fitting up a plant on Butler 
alley, installing seven dynamo units of fifteen lights each. On July 16th of the 
same year a contract was made with the City Council to place sixteen arc lamps 
at as many street intersections, same to be burned nightly for a period of one 

The price named in this first contract was for the sum of $2,000, or at 
the yearly rate of $125 per light. 

The first pubhc use of the incandescent lamps which press references of 
the time seem to recognize, was at the Armory fair in May, 1886. The company, 
in order to popularize the use of the new lamp, went to the expense of wiring 
the building as well as furnishing the current for that purpose without charge 
to the fair promoters. 

The next public utility in point of time to extend its services to the public 
was the Wilkes-Barre Heat, Light and Motor Company, chartered April 28, 1886, 
its corporators being the following: John G. Wood, Joseph Birbeck, J. J. Rob- 
bins, B. G. Carpenter, John J. vShonk, George W. vShonk and Albert S. Orr. 

Owing to the limited area of the city and the compactness of building 
within these limits, the new venture, like its predecessors, early became a financial 
success and was pointed to in various parts of the country as one of the few sys- 
tems where steam for heating purposes could be successfully carried in especially 
constructed piping beneath the surface of streets of a municipality. 

It is not surprising that the eyes of capitalists were soon turned in the 
direction of Wilkes-Barre with a purpose in view of amalgamating all of these 
public utihties into one corporation and under one directing head. 


The merger of the two Gas Companies proved the forerunner of what was 
to follow. vShortly after this preliminary consolidation was eflFected in 1898 
the same local financial interests which had acquired a controlling interest in 
the Gas company of Luzerne County, began purchasing what securities were 
available of the Electric Light Company, intending to remove a new and more 
dangerous competitor from serious encroachment in the lighting field. 

So successful was the strategy of these purchases that a few years later 
it became known that a majority interest in the light company had changed 
hands and that a movement was on foot looking to the formation of a holdings 
corporation in which would be vested the entire control of franchises in the 
community pertaining to its supply of both gas and electricity. 

The organization of the Wilkes-Barre Gas and Electric Company did not 
follow immediately In fact its charter bore date of December 15, 1904, and, 
in order to secure adequate capital for purposes of consolidation, as well as to 
carry into effect various matters of enlargement and improvement, outside 
capital was given opportunity to seek investment in the undertaking. This 
came forward readily, the entire capital stock of $1,500,000 being quickly sub- 
scribed and bonds to an amount of $3,000,000 finding a ready market as their 
proceeds were needed for improvements. 

Five years later, capitalists throughout the country found it profitable to 
carry the amalgamation of community public utilities to a point of assembling 
under one management light, heat, power and heating corporations, including 
in many cases local transportation companies in the merger. The consolidation 
of such interests of one community were linked up in a huge holdings company 
with those of other communities. Often the project carried with it the central- 
ization of power generation for the whole in one favorably situated locality. 
The term "super power" system has come into use more recently as typifying 
such centralization of production. 

In Wilkes-Barre, and perhaps fortunately for all concerned, the communitv 
transportation problem has been kept separate and apart from other utilities 
in point of financing and management as will later be mentioned. 

On April 16, 1910, it was announced that the vSusquehanna Railway, 
Light and Power company had not only purchased a majority control of the 
original gas, electric and steam heating properties whose histories have been 
previously traced, but had absorbed similar operating companies in suburban 

The concerns consolidated were the Wilkes-Barre Gas & Electric Co., 
the Wilkes-Barre Steam Heat Co., the Anthracite Light, Heat & Power Co., 
which was organized to furnish light in Hanover Township, and the Standard 
Electric Co., which supplied light in Parsons, Miner's Mills and Plains Township, 
including Plainsville, Hudson and Midvale. 

In order to embrace within its title the manifold objects of its creation, 
as well as permit a further issue of securities, the names of all the original com- 
panies disappeared, and the local organization became known merely as the 
Wilkes-Barre Company, which name it still employs. 

The first officers and directors of the combination were the following: 
President William H. Conyngham of Wilkes-Barre; vice president, George 
Bullock of New York; treasurer, J. N. Thompson of Wilkes-Barre; secretary 


and assistant treasurer, A. L. Minor of New York; assistant secretary, Henry 
Morgan of New York; manager, E. A. Wakeman. 

The directors were William H. Conyngham, J. O. Thompson, Gen. C. 
Bow Dougherty, C. W. Laycock and Philip S. Rice of Wilkes-Barre; George 
Bullock, Henry Morgan and S. J. Dill of New York City; J. vS. Jenks, Jr., R. E. 
Griscom and Howard S. Graham of Philadelphia. 

The year 1912 brought about still another change in ownership of Wilkes- 
Barre's utihty merger when the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company suc- 
ceeded to all the holdings of its predecessor within the state of Pennsylvania. 
With E. A. Wakeman in charge of the local constituent company of this corpor- 
ation, it has continued in business until the time of this writing (1925). 

While the various ramifications of its original public utilities have been 
carried down to present times, it is now necessary to again revert to the period 
of their original incorporation in order that the thread of this Chapter may be 
resumed and the sequence of events recorded. 

Activities as to the formation of local utilities corporations were, as might 
be surmised, reflected in other phases of community life. Coal operators laid 
aside many differences of opinion and of policy and organized the Operators 
Association in the early fifties, meeting twice a month at Steele's Hotel to compose 
their differences and attempt to stabilize their markets. This was the first organ- 
ized body of either owners or miners to receive mention in the local prints. 
There were those who, in 1852, felt that instead of its hitherto weekly publica- 
tions. Northeastern Pennsylvania was ripe for a daily newspaper, whose columns 
might carry to readers late information of the world particularly in relation to 
coal, as it filtered through by telegraph. E. B. Colhns and Halsey Brower made 
the initial experiment in this direction, naming their small publication the Daily 

It survived only a few months, owing to a lack of sufficient capital; then 
perished, unhonored and unsung. In 1869, another attempt was made to es- 
tablish a daily. In that year Messers Hibbs and Linn issued a daily edition of 
their weekly, the Luzerne Union under the title of the Daily Union. This, like 
its predecessor, was doomed to failure. It might be remarked, although not 
pertaining to the period of this Chapter, that it remained for William P. Miner, 
in rebuilding and equipping the plant of the Record of the Times after the West 
Market vStreet fire of 1867, to install the first steam driven press the community 
had seen. This led him into the daily field and since 1870, his publication, now 
the Wilkes-Barre Record, has enjoyed a continuous and successful existence as 
a daily publication. 

Search through the files of publications and reference to Borough minutes 

give the historian but few "leads" in the direction of general events in the decade 

before the Civil War. Public finances, then, as now, a matter of concern, afford 

an interesting reflection in that the Borough's statement, published May 7, 1851, 

carries an item of $1,189.32 as the municipality's total indebtedness and notes 

the fact that "of a total rental of the market house of $75.00, the sum of $2,125 

has been collected, the balance lost." In 1856, as a prelude to vSpring elections, 

the "ins" replied to criticisms of the "outs" through the Record of the Times of 

January 23rd as follows: 

"The Community feel a great anxiety to know the state of the Borough accounts. So far 
as we can gather, they are these: In orders there are out, about twenty-three to twenty-five 
hundred dollars; in bonds about twenty-five hundred more, making the debt of the Boro. some 


five thousand dollars. In 1851 the debt was near eleven thousand dollars, so that within a few 
years, six thousand of it has been liquidated. This will account for the great amount of taxes 
paid in. From 1849 the accounts have been kept clear and plain so that the books show the affairs 
from that time, as clear as the merchant's ledger shows his accounts. The present Town Council 
are endeavoring to get and kecj) matters straight. The orders that are now out are principally 
in the hands of those who hold large amounts of them. If the Council are paying the current 
expenses, and applying near a thousand dollars a year towards wiping out the debt, this looks 
like a proper management of the Boro' affairs. All will be glad to hear that such is the case." 

The year 1855 brotight some concern to Wilkes-Barre on account of the 
noticeable loss of sections of the River Common aggregating nearly an acre in 
extent. The five years preceding this time had been singularly free from floods, 
hence severe river currents did not enter into the discussion. As successive 
subsidences occurred above and below the piers of the Market Street bridge, 
and as these piers themselves had given much trouble owing to insecure found- 
ations, a general alarm was felt on the score of quicksands which writers pointed 
out might underlay the wide plain upon which the Borough stood and whose 
weakening effect on the clay strata above might cause the washing away of the 
whole plain under certain abnormal conditions of high water. Indeed, there 
were those alarmists who opposed raising the road over the Kingston flats on the 
ground that the work when completed, would act as a dyke, throwing a stift' 
cross current against the Wilkes-Barre bank, thus completing the work of de- 
struction. Town Clerk E. B. Harvey met the situation in a practical manner. 
From the west bank he secured a quantity of brush and rocks. The brush being 
distributed along the affected shore and weighted down by means of a stratum 
of stones, it was found that the improvised abattis prevented much further 
incursion of current until the bank could be rip-rapped at a much later time. 

To the stranger who has published his reflections on Wilkes-Barre from 
time to time, this History has been indebted for cross section views of the com- 
munity and once again we draw upon his observations for a side light on life as 
he found it in pre-war years. An unnamed contributor to the North American 
and U. S. Gazette of Philadelphia thus summarizes his views in the issue of that 
publication dated January 9, 1856: 

"Wilkes-Barre, Dec. 23, 1855. 

"If a low temperature indicates salubrity, Wilkes-Barre must be eminently healthful in 
tlie winter, for, as a shivering individual said to me, one of these sharp mornings, as we were 
looking at the thermometer — 'The mercury don't seem to stop the weather much in these parts.' 
But the air is invigorating, the sky clear, the river blue and placid, not yet locked by ice, abundant 
fires in ample grates glow hospitably, venison prevails, and general good cheer, good health, 
and good temper indicate fine natural advantages and material prosperity. 

"The political life of Wilkes-Barre is very active, and is felt in the State. A number of 
distinguished men belong to the valley, whose influence is manifest in many directions. Able 
lawyers abound here, and their social antidote, clergymen, are devoted and eflScient. Tobacco 
seems to be an institution, if one may judge by the ardent patronage which it receives from old 
and young. More the pity that the manly vigor incident to so fine a climate should be impaired 
by so bad a habit. 

"I hear, 'by the hearing of the ear,' that excellent society is found in the place; that, socially, 
the people do not forget their Puritan lineage; nor are they unmindful of their history and tra- 
ditions, but that they vindicate the one by intelligence, and commemorate the other by hospi- 
taUty; but 'prospecting' for coal through mountain streams and wild ravines, down perpendicular 
shafts hundreds of feet towards Pluto, or literally, by Mr. Gray's tunnell, into the dubious abodes 
of subterannean workers are, perhaps, not the conditions most favorable to participation in ele- 
gant social life. One experiences attitudes, makes sudden explorations into places not polite, 
followed by inconvenient discoveries, and, by and by returns with the marks of the contest, 
an insatiate appetite and a healthful weariness not suited to the drawing room. 

"At the hotel the greatest diversity may be found, men of every calibre and condition — 
people who have lands to sell, and people who wish to buy lands, and people who have neither and 
do neither, but who are ubiquitous and accommodating. These later gentlemen deserve notice. 
To supply you with any piece of land in the valley Wyoming is their heritage! Every man's 


tract is at their disposal. They have maps and charts, and diagrams, and contracts, and 'miner's' 
reports, and a hst of 'projected improvements' for each tract, all of which cannot fail to convince 
you that the value of each lot is in due proportion to their anticipated brokerage! 

"Here do congregate capitalists from the great cities — the shrewd New Yorker and the 
cautious Philadelphian, looking for investments, safer and better than sharing at iX per month 
and here they may be found; here, also, come citizens without capital, but in search of it, and 
hither are coming disappointed operators from less favored regions, to renew their fortunes by 
more remunerative labor on deeper and surer veins — and here they may do it. And here are com- 
ing gentlemen with 'claims upon coal,' the Supreme Court having decided that the surface is 
'one estate,' the minerals another, and the conveyance of one does not imply the alienation of 
the other. Formerly it was supposed if a man bought land, his title went down to the other side, 
and upward to the limit of vision; but we are wiser now, and one must look to the 'hidden things' 
as well as to the visible. Here also, come the 'old settlers' to submit their patrimony to the 
scrutiny of strangers, consoling themselves for the loss of the paternal acres by the convenient 
reflection that 'things are not as they used to be.' 

"A melancholy feeling possessed me, in view of this transition, and I resolved that, should 
any portion become the lot of my inheritance, it should not be divested of its historic associations, 
but in the security of the present should be remembered the dangers of the past, and the hum 
of industry should become but a musical substitute for the clash of arms. So reflecting and re- 
volving, I left the hotel, to gather and chronicle the doings of our citizens in the valley." 

However placidly life was described in that year, the growing anthracite 

business was plunged into a position of unemployment of both capital and labor 

by one of those recurrent periods of hard times which swept the entire country 

in 1857. Like most of its predecessors, this wave of business disorder followed 

hard upon a distrust of the national currency system and an unsettlement of 

pubhc confidence. It proved the first widespread local complaint of lack of 

employment that the present writer can discover and emphasized to a marked 

degree, the dependence the community was beginning to feel upon what was even 

then its major industry. In spite of business depression, the general morals of 

the community seem to have been on a highly satisfactory plane. On March 18, 

1857, editorial mention of the situation ran along this line: 

"From January 25 to February 16, our police were idle. The terrors of the law as admin- 
istered by Chief (E. B.) Harvey and his aids, seem to have worked wonders in the way of improve- 
ment in our Borough." 

Recovery from the general business depression is evidenced by numerous 
news items of 1858, and in June of that year the Borough council was requested 
by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association to assist in securing funds from nation 
wide sources in order to take over the home and grounds of the Washington 
estate. The council in turn appointed Gen. WilHam S. Ross*, chairman; E. B. 
Harvey, secretary, and Nathaniel Rutter, solicitor of a local association which 
purposed to help in the undertaking. As was the case in connection with the 
erection of the Wyoming Monument, a narrative on which appears in the fol- 
lowing Chapter, the association composed exclusively of men made but little 
headway in the task. In March, 1859, Mrs. M. L. Bowman of Wilkes-Barre 
was appointed "Lady Manager of Luzerne County of the Ladies Mount Vernon 
Association" and through her efforts the sum of one hundred sixty dollars, 
secured in small subscriptions and forwarded in May, composed the contribution 
of the community to perpetuate the national shrine along the Potomac which is 
now internationally revered. 

An agitation as to the improvement of streets of the Borough, especially 
relating to the unkempt condition o.' the Public Square and its approaches, 

*The following biography of Gen. William Sterling Ross, from the pen of Col. H. B. Wright, was read before the 
Wyoming Historical and Geological Society at its meeting August 3, 1868: 

William Sterling Ross was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on the 11th day of August, 1802. He died on the 11th 
day of July, 1868, lacking just one month of being sixty-six years of age. His birth and death occurred m the same room; 
the southwest part of the Ross mansion — erected of oak materials, frame and clapboards, by Timothy Pickering, 
in the year 1787. He came into the world at an eventful and interesting period in the history of the Wyoming valley. 
The bitter and vindictive conflict between the Pennsylvania and Connecticut claimants, in which his father had borne 


so conspicuous a part, had culminated; peace had succeeded the desperate strife which at times was marked with blood. 
The supreme jurisdiction of Pennsylvania was established upon a firm basis, and the Connecticut settler yielded his 
resistance upon the confirmation of his title by the State, and general quiet prevailed throughout the Wyoming vailey 
for the first time during the third of a century. . , . , , , , . 

The settlers upon the broad banks of the Susquehanna, for thirty years previous to this, had known but few com- 
forts. The Revolution had done its work in the depopulation of more than half its fighting men; everywhere were 
visible its blackened and charred monuments. The inroads, before and long after the colonial war, of the savages 
compelled the hardy pioneer to place sentinels around the field whiie he was engaged in planting and gathering his crops, 
and to recline upon his trusty rifle at night. He must be ready at all hours to answer the alarm of battle; to these 
add the troubles growing out of the 

angry conflicts among the Pennsyl- . . ' "" """' " ' 

vania and Connecticut people, and it 
made almost a constant scene of dis- 
cord and war. It was indeed the mili- 
tary, if not the chivalrous age of Wyo- 
ming. The tradition of these exciting 
events, heightened by the narration of 
them by the men who had passed 
through them, made a deep impres- 
sion upon the young. 

The father of the subject of this 
biographical notice. General William 
Ross, had participated in many of 
these scenes. Born in New London . 
Connecticut, in 1761, he emigrated 
with his father to the valiey about 
1 775. Of too tender an age to carry a 
musket at "the massacre," he joined 
the retreating fugitives after that dis- 
astrous day, to return again to re- 
newed scenes of anarchy and discord. 

With the surrender of the sword 
of Comwallis peace succeeded the 
Revolutionary strife, but not in Wyo- 
ming. The Indian border feud, and 
the question whether Pennsylvania or 
Connecticut should rule, still agitated 
the valley of Wyoming. Timothy 
Pickering, a New England man by 
birth, clothed with official power \>y 
the State, and invested with all the 
county offices, was sent here to pacify 
and heal up the local strife. It only 
aggravated the Connecticut settlers ; 
they invaded his home, took him a 
prisoner by night and carried him 
away captive. He was rescued by 
General, then Captain, William Ross, 
at the head of a force of State militia, 
who received a serious wound in the 
struggle. He was rewarded by the 
State Executive Committee, who also 
presented him with a sword, upon the 
scabbard of which is the following in- 
scription : 

"Capt. Wm. Ross: — The S. E. 
Council present this mark of their 
approbation acquired by your firm- 
ness in support of the laws of the 
Commonwealth on the 4th of July, 

"C. BiDDLE, Secretary." 

The mission of Mr. Pickering 
having ended, he was called into 
Washington's cabinet, and on the 9th 
of January, 1796, for the consideration of £2,600 — Pennsylvania currency — he conveyed his real estate in this place 
and vicinity to William Ross. 

Stirring scenes were these truly which preceded the birth of the subject of our notice. As the son of a man of he inherited privileges which but a few at that early period in the valiey possessed. Having passed the pre- 
paratory schools, he entered and was graduated at the College of New Jersey. His inclination, however, did not lead 
to a learned profession. The pursuit of agriculture was his theme. In this he took great pride, and in it he excelled. 
He was a practical farmer — no man better understood its detail and theory — and no man produced better crops. And 
this was his chief occupation during a long and prosperous life, an occupation suited to his mind, and one which con- 
duced to his happiness and enjoyment. 

At an early period of his life he conceived a fancy for military affairs. It was natural that this could be ; the son 
of a military officer, bom and educated at a time when the stirring events of a long continued, eventful and success- 
ful war were the household words of a united, happy people. He entered into the subject with a will, passed through 
all the official grades, from that of captain of volunteers to that of brigadier. For a period of thirty years General 
Ross was the acknowledged head of the volunteer system of this county. In this employment and the pursuit of mili- 
tary knowledge he took an especial delight, and his word in military affairs was ever regarded as authority. At his 
drills he always wore the sword which the executive council of Pennsylvania had presented to his father as a reward 
of merit And there are few of the men in this county who were interested in military matters during the last forty 
years that have not often seen and (those of them now living) would not recognize this sword as an old and honorable 

General Ross possessed a sound and discriminating mind; evinced fully in the discharge of the numerous and 
responsible positions with which he was intrusted by the public. And whether on the judicial bench, in the legislative 
hall or in the council chamber, he exhibited ever the same strong common sense view of the varied subjects which the 
particular piace presented. His long continuance as director in the various municipal, charitable and business corpor- 
ations of the town showed that the public appreciated the man, and had great confidence in hi? ability, judgment and 
integrity. He was commissioned associate judge of the courts of the county in 1830, as the successor of Hon. Jesse 
Fell, which he retained until 1839 — the time of the adoption of the amended constitution of the State. The duties 
of this office were discharged with much credit to himself, and the entire approbation of the bar and community at 
large. For a long succession of years he was a member of the borough council, and generally its presiding officer. Quite 
as long he was a director and general manager of the Easton and Wiikes-Barre Turnpike Company, down to 1840 
the only great thoroughfare leading to the seaboard from the Susquehanna east. He was for many years a director 
in the Wyoming Bank, and at the time of his death the president; he was also the president of the Wyoming Insurance 
Company at his decease, and was also a director in the following corporations' The Wilkes-Barre Water Company, 
the Wilkes-Barre Bridge Company, the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society, and the Home for Friendless 

The Hon. Wiluam Sterling Ross 


strikes the casual reader of local publications of 1860 as the most important 

local question then before the public. But that the community possessed a 

prosperous appearance, even in its lack of surfaced highways, must have been 

apparent, at least to a newsgatherer of Scranton, forced to attend court in the 

then recently completed new court house on the Square. Just how much of 

honest criticism was mixed with a growing sense of rivalry between the centers 

of trade of the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valleys may be left to the reader of 

the following which appeared in the Scranton Republican of June 20, 1860: 

"One thing is certain. The curse of Wilkesbarre is wealth. In the heart of a valley un- 
surpassed for its fertility as well as its beauty, with boundless resources of coal and facilities for 
manufacture not excelled by any inland town of the State, it might and ought to have been, an 
extensive city — the grand business center of Northern Pennsylvania. But its shortcomings are 
owing to the want of energy and public spirit belonging to extensive wealth. One large-minded, 
go-ahead, public spirited man is a perpetual stimulus and encouragement to his neighborhood, 
ever calling upon them to emulate his example, while one narrow, penny grinding capitalist 
is a social upais, scattering meanness, illiberality, timidity and torper into every channel of in- 

One particular result of energy displayed by the mother community as to 
a new court house had been a considerable opposition on the part of the newer 
Lackawanna district, and perhaps had even invited the hard word "upas" as de- 
scriptive of leading citizens of the older. Even then an undercurrent of feeling 
as to a proposed new county, with Scranton as its seat, was in agitation. 

Luzerne's second court house completed, as has been seen, in 1804, had 
served nearly half a century of usefulness when the census of 1850 was reported. 
That census gave the county a population of 44,006 as against 12,389 upon which 
had been predicated the structure of the opening years of the nineteenth century. 

Children. He was also a member of the vestry of St. Stephen's Church. Probably no one of General Ross's cotempor- 
aries had more to do with the various local associations of the town for a third of a century than he had. And he was 
remarkably punctual in his duties in all the labors these associations demanded and required of him. 

He represented the Luzerne district in the Senate of this State during the session of 1845-6-7. The last year of 
his term he was the speaker of that body. He was also elected to the General Assembly for the session of 1862, and in 
this service his conduct and business capacity were marked with much ability and unblemished integrity. His charitable 
impulses were large. He ever had a generous heart and open hand. Those who appealed to him, in trouble and ad- 
versity, almost always met with a liberal response. Neither were his gifts limited or restrained; as they were the off- 
spring of a warm and impulsive heart, so they corresponded with its noble emotion. His donations to the Home for 
Friendless Children, considering the character of his estate, were indeed exceedingly liberal. Those amounted, from 
time to time, including the bequest of his last will of $5,000, to $10,000. The helpless and dependent condition of these 
poor friendless children made a deep impression on his mind. It was a theme that often engaged his thoughts and his 
conversations, and resulted in a liberality that should impose a subject for the reflection of others, who would do well 
to imitate his noble and praiseworthy example. Of this institution he was the firm and steadfast friend. His memory 
will long be revered by the forsaken objects of that noble enterprise; and many of them who shall hereafter reacli 
manhood, and become respectable and useful citizens, will praise the name and honor the noble virtues of their friend 
and benefactor. 

He was a man of unbending integrity and unblemished honor. His word was his bond. He was scrupulously 
exact in complying with all the engagements he made. He used no subterfuge to evade a promise, and his mind was 
above the contemplation of a wrong. In this particular his actions and hfe furnish a model worthy of imitation. 

It was a generous act in his life which prompted the purchase of the "Chamber collection" of coins and other 
ciuiosities, at a cost of $2,000, and the presentation of them to the "Wyoming Historical and Geological Society." 
of this town. It was the grand nucleus around which other contributions gathered, and which really gave the society 
success. It gave the institution a prestige and a name, that commended it to the friends of science everywhere. The 
name of its most munificent founder will live with the institution. 

These random and hasty reflections may not be closed without an allusion to his firm, unwavering love of country. 
The blood of his ancestors had sealed the bond of American independence. His birth was amid the closing scenes 
of the Revolution; his young mind had been elated with the rejoicings over the advent of a nation, flung into life 
from the ruins and fragments of one overthrown. From the lips of the same man who had produced this result he 
received the impression of the magnitude of the struggle and its cost. The subdued language of history had not dis- 
robed those events of the freshness and power with which they came from the men who had achieved them. They were 
before him in person, and they wore the marks and scars of the campaign — the soldiers of liberty — the men of the 
Revolution. When, therefore, treason walked abroad in the land, and threatened the overthrow and destruction 
of the Federal Union, General Ross was among the first to rise up in its defence; his contributions in money were not 
stinted; he gave, and he gave with his accustomed liberality. He encouraged the enlistment of volunteers; he took 
an open and manly stand on the side of his country. And so he remained during the whole of that long and eventful 
strife. He lived to see treason discomfited, and the time-honored flag triumphant. 

The death of a man thus connected with the various enterprises of his residence, its charitable and scientific associ- 
ations, its municipal and local institutions, is a public loss. It is a vacancy not easily to be supplied; a link broken 
in the social chain that many generations may not replace; to his family a severe affliction, but to the poor and desti- 
tute, the widow and orphan, it is a loss that language can but poorly express. To such he was a friend in need, and 
their prayers and blessings will long, long linger above his grave. 

His decease was sudden and unexpected, though he had all but reached the allotted age to man. Friends were 
not prepared for the event, but 

"We know that moons shall wane, 

That summer birds, from far, shall cross the sea, 
But who shall tell us when to look for death!" 

H. B. W. 

He was married December 1st, 1825, to Ruth T. Slocum. niece of Frances Slocum, and a descendant of a pioneer 
family in Wyoming valley. 


In fact the growth of the county in one decade from 1840 to 1850, namely 12,066, 
had added almost as much population as the whole of the vSusquehanna Purchase 
could boast when the second court house was constructed. vSmall wonder, 
therefore, that judges, grand juries and Wilkes-Barre in general should demand a 
new building more in keeping with the progress of community affairs and better 
suited to its purpose than was the dilapidated frame building which, with others 
almost as decrepit, shared most of the surface of the Public vSquare. 

As early as 1832, the legislature had passed an act enabling Luzerne, if 
it so desired, to issue bonds for a new building. But the times were not then 
considered ripe for the venture. Little further mention of the subject seems to 
have commanded notice in local publications of the time until 1844, when a 
grand inquest made a mild reference to the condition of the old structure and 
submitted the whole matter to the county commissioners.* One reason assigned 
for a new building, in the jury's summary of the situation, was that the court 
house hall, long used as a community meeting place as well as a place of assemblv 
for military, fraternal and musical organizations was no longer able to accommo- 
date those who sought admission. The commissioners, however, were not to 
be hurried. Other grand inquests repeated the demands of the first. That 
assembled at the April term of court in 1855, felt that it had a considerable 
portion of the community back of it in pointing out the absolute necessity of 
proper court facilities and in peremptory tones proclaimed the need of prompt 
action. In this view the court concurred and certified both the report and the 
court's opinions to the commissioners. Then began a popular and somewhat 
acrimonious discussion, as old as the court house itself and one that was revived 
with even greater bitterness nearly half a centur}^ later when the present River 
Street Court House was in prospect, as to a proper site for the building. 

*A complete list of commissioners of Luzerne County from 1794, prepared by clerks of that ofBce, is herein 
presented. No available records of the county discose the name? of those who served from 1786, when the county 
was organized, until the date mentioned. An order, in possession of the Hon. Steuben Jenkins at his death, directed 
to Abel Yarington, treasurer, and reading: "Pay James Westbrook, or bearer, four shillings out of the county 
treasury" dated September 6, 1792, and signed Jno. Hagerman and J. HoUenback, Commissioners, appears to indi- 
cate that the signatories were then county commissioners and perhaps had been in office, as had the treasurer, from 
the erection of the county. The balance of the li^t follows: 

1794 — Jesse Fell, Alexander Jameson. 

1795-6 — John PhiUps, John Jenkins, Thomas Wright. 

1800-1 — Lawrence Myers, E. Blackman, Thomas 

1803 — E. Blackman, Arnold Colt, Oliver Pettebone. 
1804 — Arnold Colt, Ezekiel Hyde, Oliver Pettebone 
1805 — Oliver Pettebone, Benjamin Dorrance, E Hyde, 

Eleazer Blackman. 
1806 — E. Blackman, B. Dorrance, Elisha Harding. 
1807 — B. Dorrance, E. Harding, H. Tiffany. 
1808 — E. Harding, H. Tiffany, James Wheeler. 
1809 — H. Tiffany, J. Wheeler, Benj. Perry. Peleg 

Tracy was clerk of the board from 1804 to 

1810 — Benj. Perry, Thos. Welles, Noah Wadhams. 

Samuel Bowman. 
1811 — B. Perry, N. Wadhams, Thomas Park. 
1812 — B. Perry, N. Wadhams, Abiel Fellows. 
1813— Cornelius Cortright, Napthah Hurlbut, Abiel 

1814 — N. Hurlbut, C. Cortright, Benjamin Carey. 
1815 — C. Cortright, Benj. Carey, James Reeder. 
1816 — Benj. Carey, James Reeder. Lord Butler. Jesse 

Fell was clerk of the board from 1810 to 1816. 
1817 — Lord Butler, James Reeder, Isaac Hartzell. 
1818— Lord Butler, I. Hartzell. E. Shoemaker. Arnold 

Colt was clerk of the board in 1817 and 1818. 
1819 — E. Shoemaker, I. Hartzell, Cvrus Averv. 
1820— E. Shoemaker, C. Avery, Joel Roger \ 
1821 — C. Avery, Joel Rogers, Samuel Yost. 
1822 — Joel Rogers, Samuel Yost, Hezekiah Parsons. 
1823 — Samuel Yost, H. Parsons, Steuben Butler. 
1824 — H. Parsons, Steuben Butler, Elisha S. Potter. 
1825— S. Butler, E. S. Potter, Deodat Smith. 
1826— E. S. Potter, D. Smith, Arnold Colt. 
1827— D. Smith. A. Colt, John Bittenbender. 
1828 — A. Colt, John Bittenbender, Isaac Harding. 

1829— J. Bittenbender, I. Harding, Wm. Swetland. 
1830 — i. Harding, Wm. Swetland, Cornelius Cortright 

Jesse Fell was clerk of the board from 1819 

to 1830. 
1831 — Wm. Swetland, C. Cortright, Jacob Rambach . 
1832 — C. Cortright, J. Rambach, Luman Ferry. 
1833 — J. Rambach, Luman Ferry, Joseph Tuttle. E. 

Carey was clerk of the board from 1831 to 

1834 — L. Ferry, Joseph Tuttle, Sebastian Sybert 
1835 — Joseph Tuttle, S. Sybert, Samuel Say lor. 

Thomas Mvers was clerk of the board in 

1834 and 1835. 
1836— S. Sybert, S. Baylor, John Fassett. 
1837 — S. Savior, John Fassett, Wm. Koons. 
1838— John Fassett, Wm. Koons, Gorton Wall. 
1839— Wm. Koons, Gorton Wall. Philip Yost. 
1840— Gorton Wall, PhiHp Yost, Nathaniel Cottrill. 

Chester Tuttle was clerk of the board from 

1836 to 1840. 
1841— PhiUp Yost, N. Cottri.l, Thos. Irwin. Chas. W. 

Potter was clerk of the board in 1841. 
1842 — N. Cottill, Thos. Irwin, J. Benscoter. 
1843 — J. Benscoter, Jno.Rosencranse, Jr.. Thos. Irwin. 
1844 — J. Benscoter, J. Rosencranse, Jr., E. Chamber- 

lin. Edward Dolph was clerk of the board 

from 1842 to 1844. 
1845 — J. Rosencranse, Jr., E Chamberlin, Charles 

1846 — E. Chamberhn, C. Berry, Philip Meixell 
1847 — C. Berry, P. Meixell, Ira Branson. 
1848 — P. Meixell, I. Branson, Robert Eaton. 
1849 — I. Branson, R. Eaton, Jacob Besecker. 
1850 — Robert Eaton, Rowiand Richards, Isaiah 

Stiles. Jared R. Baldwin was clerk of the 

board from 1845 to 1850. 
1851— L. H. Litts, Isaiah Stiles, R. Hutchins. 


The Record of the Times threw the whole weight of its influence against 
reouilding on the Square and suggested that the old stone jail at the corner 
of Washington and East Market Streets be moved and the new building erected 
at that point. Others favored the present site of the Laning building upon which 
no structure had then stood since the destruction of the first Laning and Marshall 
foundrv bv fire in 1850. A main objection to the Square site, as the Record of 
the Times pointed out, was the necessity of providing a suitable facing to the 
structure oi four sides to correspond with the approach of each of the four prin- 
cipal streets. This, the pubhcation argued, would prove an unnecessary expense 
to taxpayers. A decision of the Borough itself turned the tide in favor of the 
Square. With no municipal building it could call its own and without funds 
sufficient to erect one, the council of Wilkes-Barre made a proposition to the 
commissioners that if suitable office space were provided for the Borough in 
the proposed building without rental charges, it would attempt the expedient 
of issuing bonds to share the cost of the structure. T'his offer, including the selec- 
tion of the site of the Square, having been accepted by the county, the legislature 
was immediately appealed to and on May 5, 1855, the Borough was empowered 
to issue bonds "in an amount not less than $10,000 or more than $20,000 and 
deliver the proceeds of same to the county treasurer for purposes of the building." 

These bonds, to the amount of $10,000, bearing six per cent interest and 
payable twenty years from date were subsequently issued on April 1, 1857, 
bearing the signatures of Jacob Bertels, president, and E. B. Harvey, secretary 
of the corporation. 

The Record of the Times, still complaining of the selection of the Square for 
building purposes, mentions in its issue of November 28, 1855, that "plans are 
now in the hands of D. A. Fell." The architect of the building was J. C. Wells of 
New York, Mr. Fell later assuming the general contract for the building's erection. 

1852 — Isaiah Stiles, R. Hutchins, Peter Winter. 
1853 — R. Hutchins, Peter Winter, Abraham Smith. 

Chester Tuttle was clerk of the board from 

1851 to 1853. 
1854 — Peter Winter, A. Smith, Daniel Vail. 
1855— A. Smith, D. Vail. Silas Dod-on. 
1856— D. Vail, S. Dodson. W. A. Tubbs. 
1857— S. Dodson, W. A. Tubbs, Benj. F. Pfouts. 
1858 — W. A. Tubbs, B. F. Pfouts, Jno. C. Dunning. 
1859 — B. F. Pfouts, J. C. Dunning, John Blanchard 
1860 — J. C. Dunning, J. Blanchard, Daniel Rambach 
1861 — John Blanchard, D. Rambacli, Samuel Vaughn. 
1862 — D. Rambach, S. Vaughn, Nathan Kocher. 
1863 — S. Vaughn, N. Kocher, Stephen Devenport 

Chas. T. Bamum was clerk of the board from 
1855 to 1863. 

1864 — N. Kocher, Stephen Devenport, Uriah A. Grit- 
1865— S. Devenport, U. A. Gritman, William Wolf. 
1866 — U. A. Gritman, W. Wolf, William Franck. 
1867— W. Wolf, W. Franck, W. W. Smith. 
1868— W. Franck, W. W. Smith, Michael Raber. 
1869— W.W. Smith, M.Raber, B. F. Louder. vSteuben 

Jenkins and Geo. M. Nagle were clerks of 

the board in 1870, the former having been 

in office since 1864. 
1870— M. Raber, B. F. Louder, G. W. Bailey. 
1871— B. F. Louder, G. W. Bailey, Chas. F. Hill. 
1872— G. W. Bailey, C. F. Hill, A. J. Williams. 
187.3— A. J. Williams, C. F. Hill, R. Gersbacher 

George M. Nagle was clerk of the board 

from 1871 to 1873. 
1874 and 1875 — A. J. Williams, R. Gersbacher, N. 

Sibert. P. F. Lynch was clerk of the board 

in 1874 and 1875. 
1876. 1877 and 1878— N. N. Dean, Samuel Line and 

Peter Jennings. H. C. Jones was clerk of 

the board in 1876. 
1879. 1880 and 1881— L. C. Darte, Stephen Turnbach, 

James D. Harris. S. A. Whitebread was 

clerk of the board from 1877 to 1881. 

1882, 1883 and 1884— Thos. W. Haines, Casper 
Oberdorfer, Henry Vanscoy. S. A. White- 
bread and H. W. Search were clerks of the 
board in 1882. H. W. Search was clerk of 
the board in 1883 and 1884. 
188.S, 1886 and 1887— Thos. W. Haines, Thos. English, 
Cyrus Straw. Robert P. Robinson was 
clerk from 1885 to 1901. 
1888-'89-'90 — Thomas English, John Hart and Henry 

Evans. R. P. Robinson, chief clerk 
1891 -'92- '93 — Henry Evans, Thomas Smith, Thomas 

M. Dullard. James M. Norris, chief 

1894-'95-'96 — P. T. Norton, T. M. Dullard and Thomas 

Smith. James M. Norris, chief clerk. 
1897-'98-'99 — A. D. Hay, John M. Jones and John 

Guiney. M. L. Dreisbach, chief clerk. 
1900- '01 -'02 — A. D. Hay, John M. Jones and Patrick 

Finn. T. R. Peters, chief clerk. 
1903-'04-'05— Jacob vSchappert, Thomas Smith and 

Patrick J. Finn, James Holman, chief 

1906-'07-'08— Walter McAvoy, 

Silas E. Jones. 

chief clerk. 
lO-'ll— Walter McAvoy, 

Silas E. Jones. 

chief clerk. 
13 14 15— John J. Moore, John Todd Walsh 

and William C. Brenton. Charles 

Mackin, chief clerk. 
1916-'17-'18-19— M. J. McLaughlin, John Todd Walsh 

and Alvin Beisel. Hugh McGeehan, 

chief clerk. 
1920-'21-'22-'23— Ambrose West, Peter A. Meixell and 

Con J. Gallagher, Bruce Malkames. 

chief clerk. 
1924-'25-'26-'27 — .Ambrose West, David M. Rosser and 

Michael J. McLaughlin. (Chief clerk 

to be appointed). 



George Smith and 
Crawford C. Smith. 

George Smith and 
Crawford C. Smith, 


Complaints as to delays in proceeding with the work of the erection of 
all Dublic buildings, extravagance in expenditures, usually attending, may be 
traced in press report during the ensuing year. Excavations for foundations 
were begun in February 1856, and midsummer saw preparations completed for 
the laying of the corner stone on August 12th of the same year. A program of 
the event, in possession of the present writer, discloses the following: 





Luzerne County Court House, 
at wilkes-barre, 

AUGUST 12TH. 1856. 

The procession will be formed at 10/-^ o'clock, A. M., on the 

River Bank — -the right resting on Northampton street — in the 

following order: 


Members of the Order of Free and Accepted Ancient York 

Orator and Chaplain. 


Judges of the Courts. 

Officers of the Courts and County Officers. 

Mayor of the City of Carbondale and Burgess of the several 

Wilkes-Barre Law and Library Association*. 

Members of the Luzerne County Bar. 

Independent Order of Odd Fellows. 


J. L. Butler, 


W. H. Alexander, 


*The Wilkes-Barre Law and Library Association was organized April 6, 1859, and had maintained a continuous 
and distinguished existence since that time. Its first officers were: Hendrick B. Wright, president; George B. Nichol- 
son, secretary; Andrew T. McChntock, treasurer. In addition to the above, the charter members were: John N. 
Conyngham, V. L. Maxwell, Harrison Wright. Horatio W. Nicholson, Henry W. Fuller, Warren J. Woodward, Jonathan 
J. Slocum, Charles Denison, L. D. Shoemaker, Asher M. Stout, and Elisha B. Harvey. The Association owns and 
maintains an extensive and valuable law Ubrary. 


On the opposite page from the formal program, as indicated above, appears 
the following ode, the name of its author being unmentioned: 

Odes to be sung at the laying of the Corner Stone of the New 
Court House at Wilkes-Barre, on Tuesday, Aug. 12, 1856. 


When earth's foundation first was laid, 

By the Almighty Artist's hand; 
'Twas then our perfect laws were made 

Established by his strict command. 

In vain mankind for shelter sought. 

In vain from place to place did roam, 
Until from heaven he was taught 

To plan, to build, to fix his home. 

Illustrious hence we date our art. 

And now in beauteous piles appear. 
We shall to endless time impart, 

How worthy and how great we are. 

Nor we less famed for every tie, 

By which the human thought is bound; 
Love, truth and friendshjt^ socially, 

Join all our hearts and hands around. 

Our actions still by virtue blest, 

And to our precepts ever true, 
The world admiring shall request 

To learn, and our bright paths pursue. 


Deep in the quarries of the stone, 

Amid vast heaps of other rock; 
In darkness hid, to art unknown. 

We found this rude and shapeless block. 

Now shaped by art, its roughness gone. 

And fit this noble work to grace; 
We lay it here, a corner stone, 

Chosen and sure in proper place. 

Within this stone there lies conceal'd 

What future ages may disclose, 
The sacred truths to us reveal'd, 

By him who fell by ruthless foes. 

On Him this corner stone we build. 

To Him, this edifice erect: 
And still, until this work's fulfill'd 

May Heaven the workmen's ways direct. 

The original owner of the program noted in pencil on the cover, "singers 
for the occasion as follows: B. A. Barnes, E. P. Darling, W. F. Dennis, E. L. 
Dana, H. M. Hoyt and Wm. Ridall." 

%0 The address, delivered by the Hon. John N. Conyngham,* has been pre- 
served in pamphlet form, an intr. duction to which, on behalf of the committee 
in charge reads as follows: 

"The Commissioners of Luzerne County having invited Lodge No. 61, FrEE and Accepted 
Ancient York Masons, to lay the Corner Stone of the New Court House, now in progress of 
erection at the County Seat, August 12th was selected as the day on which to perform the cere- 
mony, and preparation was made to secure as general attendance as practicable of the Citizens 
of the County. Hon. John N. Conyngham was selected and invited by the Lodge to deliver an 
Address on the occasion. 

"The Committee of Arrangements, appointed by the Lodge, tendered invitations to the 
Clergymen of the Borough — to the Officers of the County — to the several Masonic Lodges in 

♦Hon. John N. Conyngham, LL. D. The Conynghams originally went from England to Scotland with King 
Malcolm. One of their number in later year.s was William Conyngham, Bishop of Argyll, A. D, 1539. 

The first of the family who settled in America was Redmond Conyngham, a native of Letterkenny, Ireland, and 
a descendant of Bishop Conyngham. He was a large landed proprietor, and about the year 1749 emigrated to America 
and settled in Philadelphia, where he engaged in mercantile pursuits. Some years later he became a member of the 
l.rm of J.,M. Neibitt & Company, of Philadelphia. He was connected with old Christ Church of Philadelphia, and. 


the County — to the Members of the Bench and Bar of Luzerne — to the Lodge of Odd Fellows — 
to the Municipal Officers of the City of Carbondale, and of the several Boroughs within the County 
and to the Citizens generally, to be present and witness the ceremonies. The day was favorable 
A procession was formed on the river bank, and, preceded by the German Band, marched to 
the site of the building. After prayer by the Chaplain of the day, Rev. Dr. George Peck, the 
ceremony of laying the Stone was gone through with. 

"There was deposited in the Stone: — 

"A copy of the Holy Bible; 

"An American Dollar and its parts; 

"Lists of the names of Members of the several Lodges of Masons in the County; 

"List of names of the County Officers; 

"List of names of Members of the Bench and Bar; 

"List of names of the Municipal Officers of the Borough of Wilkes-Barre; 

"A copy of each j^aper published in the County. 

"After the Stone was laid, an excellent and pertinent Address, fraught with highly in- 
teresting local historical facts, was delivered by the Orator of the day, to a large concourse of 
citizens, whose pleasure in listening thereto was shared by a number of Ladies in attendance. 
The proceedings closed with prayer by Rev. Mr. Hickock. By request of the committee. Judge 
Conyngham furnished them with a copy of his Address, which they deem well worthy of pub- 
lication in a form convenient for reading and preservation, and here present it, dedicated to the 
Citizens of Lazerne County. 

"G. B. Nicholson, 
Jas. p. Dennis, 
S. D. Lewis. 

" Comniiltee of Arrangement. 
"Wilkes-Barre, Aug. 13, 1S56." 

with William Shippen, Elias Boudinot, Charles Meredith, and others, aided that church substantially when it was 
deemed advisable to provide it with a steeple and a set of bells. Subsequently he was elected Vestryman and Warden 
of Christ Church, and in 1758 was one of the foremost to assist in the erection of St. Peter's Church, at Third and 
Pine streets, Philadelphia. 

January 13th, 1750, Redmond Conyngham married Martha, daughter of Robert Ellis, Esq., of Philadelphia. 
They had six children, of whom the eldest was David Hayfield Conyngham, born March 21st, 1756, in the North of 
Ireland, where his parents were then temporarily residing. About the year 1775, Redmond Conyngham left Phila- 
delphia and returned to Ireland, where he died in 1784. 

David Hayfield Conyngham remained in this country, and took his father's place in the house of J. M. Nesbitt 
& Company, then and for many years afterwards, one of the most extensive mercantile establishments in Philadelphia. 
After the War of the Revolution the name of the firm was changed to Conyngham & Nesbitt. 

David H. Conyngham was an original member of "The Light Horse of the City of Philadelphia" (subsequently 
the "First Philadelphia Troop of Horse," and now the "First City Troop"), organized in November, 1774, under Capt. 
Abraham Markoe. It was the first organization of volunteers in the Colonies for the purpose of armed resistance to 
British oppression. 

In 1777, while in France, Mr. Conyngham was engaged, in connection with William Hodge, a merchant of the same 
class, in fitting out an armed vessel to cruise against the British, under the command of his cousin, Capt. Gustavus 
Conyngham At the request of Lord Stornmount, Mr. Hodge was thro^vn into the Bastile, and Mr. Conyngham only 
escaped similar misfortune by the management of his father's great friend. Dr. Benjamin Franklin, who sent him off 
with dispatches. Returning to America, Mr. Conyngham devoted largely of his means and personal services in aid 
of his country in the struggle for independence. 

In 1780, so great was the distress of the American army that Washington was apprehensive they would not be 
able to keep the field. He wrote to Richard Peters, Esq., giving him full information of the state of affairs, and that 
gentleman immediately called on J. M. Nesbitt. and explained to him the distress of the army, and the wishes of the 
General. Mr. Nesbitt replied that a Mr. Howe had offered to put up pork for the firm of Nesbitt & Company if he 
could be paid in hard money. The firm had contracted with Howe to put up all the pork and beef he could possibly 
obtain, for which he should be paid in gold. Mr. Howe having performed his engagements, and been paid as stipulated, 
Nesbitt & Company informed Mr. Peters that he might have this beef and pork, and in addition a valuable prize, 
just arrived to Bunner, Murray & Company, loaded with valuable stores. These provisions were sent forward in time, 
and the army was saved. In addition to this relief, Nesbitt & Company subscribed £5000 for the use of the Government 
during the war. Both General Washington and Robert Morris, the financier, gratefully acknowledged their obligations 
for this generous aid. 

John Maxwell Nesbitt, the senior member of the firm of Nesbitt & Company, was a native of the North of Ireland 
and emigrated to Philadelphia about the year 1769. During the Revolutionary War he was a faithful coadjutor of 
Robert Morris in the support of public credit. He was appointed Paymaster of the Pennsylvania Navy, September 
14th, 1775, and March 14th, 1777, he was appointed Treasurer of the Board of War at Philadelphia. 

In 1777 he joined the "Troop of Light Horse." and was a member of it for a number of years. He was the second 
President of the "Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick," of Philadelphia, and held the office for fifteen years. 
This Society was founded in 1771, and in 1792 was succeeded by the "Hibernian Society," which still exists in Phila- 
delphia. Mr. Nesbitt was one of the charter members of the "Hibernian." General Washington, Governor McKean, 
General Wayne, and Robert Morris, Esq., were members of the two Societies. Washington, in 1782, described the 
"Friendly Sons" as "a society distinguished for the firm adherence of its members to the glorious cause in which we 
are embarked." 

After the Revolutionary War David H. Conyngham became the owner of the Pennsylvania title to certain lands 
in the Wyoming region. The following extract from his diary refers to a visit he made to this region, coming on horse- 
back via Bethlehem: "Left Philadelphia, July 8th, 1787, with Mr. Meredith. * * * Arrived at Wyoming, 123 
miles, and put up at John Hollenback's. * * * Nauticoke pleases me most, and the settlers there at present 
appear better advanced than any others. * * * Colonel Pickering came in on the 17th (Tuesday). The other 
Commissioners not coming made the settlers in general uneasy. * * * Lots in town sell for $40 to $50. Meadow 
lots at ,t3 per acre. Lots of 300 acres, £200 to £275." 

In Claypoole's Daily Advertiser, Philadelphia, October 25th. 1796, there appeared the following item in the column 
devoted to "Shipping Intelligencer" "In the America (Captain Ewing, Hamburg, 27 days) came ten passengers. 
Among them is L. P. B. Orleans, eldest son of the ci-devant Egalite, and distinguished in the French Revolution as a 
Lieutenant General at the battle of Jamappes and the final flight of the celebrated Dumouriez." The "L. P. B. Orleans" 
referred to was the Duke of Orleans, afterwards King Louis Philippe of France, who had sought the shores of America 
in compliance with the requirements of the French Directory, and out of regard to his mother's wishes. The ship 
America was owned by Conyngham & Nesbitt. and when the Duke landed he was invited by Mr. Conyngham to 
lodge at his house on Front street, which he did for several weeks, and then established himself in a house on Spruce 
street, near Third. February 6th, 1797. the Duke was joined by his brothers, the Duke de Montpenjier and the Count 
de Beaujolais, after their release from three vears' imprisonment at Marseilles In the following June the three exiles 
set out on horseback for Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. 


David H. Conyngham was a Trustee of the College of Philadelphia, and afterwards of the University of Pennsyl 
vania, from 1790 to 1813. He died at Philadelphia, March 5th, 1834. He had married, December 4th, 1779, Mary 
West of Philadelphia, who bore him ten children; five daughters and five sons. 

John Nesbitt Conyngham, the subject of this sketch, was the youngest child, and was born in Philadelphia. 
December 1 7th. 1 798. He received his academic education at Mount Airy Institute and the public Academy in German- 
town, near Philadelphia, and in 1817 grduated from the University of Pennsylvania with high honors. Immediately 
after receiving his degree he commenced the 
study of the law with the Hon. Joseph R. 
Ingersoll, of Philadelphia, and was admitted 
to practice in the Courts of that city in 
February, 1820. Of an ardent and sang- 
uine temperament, he was unwilling to 
wait the slow progress to eminence in his 
native city at a time when the Bar was 
lustrous with some of its brightest legal 
lights, and so he resolved to remove to 
Wilkesbarre, then a town of only a tew 
hundred inhabitants, but the centre of in- 
fluence, social and civil, forall Northern 

The Wyoming Valley was settled by 
some of the most inte.iigent people who 
came into Pennsylvania, — certainly by the 
most heroic, gallant, and patriotic men 
that ever lived in any part of the Common- 
wealth of Pennsylvania. The people of the 
Valley, from their earliest history, paid 
more attention than the people of any other 
portion of the State, outside of the large 
towns, to the cultivation of their intellects 
and their manners. The first schools of 
any importance established in the State 
out-;ide of Philadelphia, were in the Valley 
of Wyoming. 

Hither, then, to the almost frontier 
town of I Wilkesbarre. came the young 
Philadelphia lawyer in March. 1820, and 
on the 3rd of the following month was ad 
mitted to the Bar of Luzerne County. At 
thatjtime'the Luzerne Bar had|a reputation 
for learning and talents second to none in 
the State. Rosewell Welles,[Ebenezer Bow- 
man, Garrick Mallery, Thomas Dyer, and 
George Denison, who resided here, were 
all men of a high order of legal ability 
And then there were other gentlemen of 
high professional attainments who were in 
the habit of attending the Courts here; 
Hon. Thomas Duncan, afterwards a Judge 
of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, 
David Watts, of Carlisle, and John Ross, 
of Easton. Hon. David Scott, "a man of 
stern integrity and iron will, upright in the 
administration of justice, and fearless in 
the discharge of his official duties," was 
President Judge of the Judicial District 
comprising Luzerne County. 

At the time of his coming here, Mr. 
Conyngham 's figure was tall but spare, his 
face ruddy and finely chiselled, hi-; manners 
easy and graceful, and hi-; whole bearing 
full of that unselfish kindness which is so 
magnetic in drawing to itseif the love and confidence of all who come within the area of its attraction. 

During the first two years of his residence here, his prospects as to success were exceedingly doubtful There 
were many struggles and trials. He had had but very little experience and practice in the law, and particularly as to 
proceedings before Justices of the Peace, about which he was more generally consulted; and he was thus compelled 
to trust to his own judgment and his own resources. He had, however, full time for reflection, as the visits of clients 
were in those days few and far between. In later life Judge Conyngham, in speaking of the experiences of those early 
days, said: "I landed here and burned my boats. There was no return, and I made up my mind to work hard, early 
and late; to ride the circuit with or without a brief, and to use every effort to obtain position." He acknowledged, 
however, that sometimes his heart failed him, but his resolution was strengthened by whispers around that "the slim, 
tall, and pale Philadelphian would not hold out in his country life." 

He found it was the habit to ride the circuit, and he plunged at once into the fullness of the labor and fatigue 
thereof. Without business in the commencement, he attended in succession the Courts of the Counties of Luzerne, 
Pike, Wayne, Susquehanna, and Bradford. He started out as a Wilkes-Barre lawyer, and soon found that among the 
people the reputation of a Wilkes-Barre lawyer was that he must know everything. He was thus called upon immediately 
to learn self-dependence, to trust to his own knowledge, and to use every means of self-improvement in his power. 
The best means of this self-improvement in the Bar was by steady and constant attendance at the Courts during 
their hours of session, and personal attention to the various questions arising in every trial. The evenings at the houses 
of sojourn were usually passed with oth;r lawyers, and these gatherings became a sort of moot Court in review of the 
proceedings of the previous day. Libraries in several of the counties were very small, and a traveling lawyer upon the 
circuit was obliged to keep his own stock of knowledge always ready for use. The offices at home furnished the means 
of replenishing the stock. 

As early as the fourth year after he commenced practice Mr. Conyngham may be said to have had as good a pos- 
ition at, the Luzerne Bar as any one. save Garrick Mallery. 

The operations of the Philadelphia Branch Bank at Wilkes-Barre ceased January 1st 1821 and Joseph McCoy 
Esq., the former cashier, was appointed agent to collect outstanding debts. Mr. McCoy having died, Mr. Conyngham 
was, in September. 1828. appointed to close up the affairs of the bank in this locality, with descretionary powers to 
do what he should think best under the circumstances. The debt to the bank lazy Uke a mill-stone about the necks 
of the people, paralyzed industry, and , connected with the low prices of grain and other farm products, almost destroyed 

As before remarked, this bank was the first institution of the kind which the people here ever had among them. 
Many of the farmers and mechanics thought that there was offered a fine chance for them to make their fortunes, 
and consequently they ran to the bank for money almost without knowing to what uses they were to appropriate it. 
Strange inconsistency! as if a whole country could get rich by a bank. Many of the men who had obtained discount s 
had failed in business, and their endorsers or guarantors, who were mostly the farmers of the county, had become 
liable to the bank. 

Hon. John N. Conyngham, LL. D. 


"Many of these endorsers were soldiers of the Revolution, and several of them had survived the terrible massacre 
of Wyoming. These old veterans being thus threatened with impending ruin, the whole community was in sympathy 
with them. It was in his capacity as agent and attorney for the bank that John N. Conjngham made that fame and 
reputation for benevolence and kind-heartedness, that established his reputation in the county. He gave these old 
veterans time, indulged them in their misfortunes, and saved most of them from total and absolute ruin. And they 
remembered these acts of generosity, and their children after them did also. And he acted in good faith to the bank, 
which, in addition to his fees, presented him a set of silver as a token of the satisfactory manner in which he had dis- 
charged the trust confided to him." He served as attorney and agent for the bank until 1833. 

He was a man of remarkable industry- He would annually devote a week or ten days to visiting his father in 
Philadelphia, and this was the extent of his pastime. He labored incessantly. Col. H. B. Wright, in a communication 
printed in The Luzerne Legal Regisler in 1877, said: "He [Judge Conyngham) was a great reader (of law, I mean) ; 
he had every decision at his tongue's end. He prided himself on this, and he has told me time and again that he at- 
tributed al. his success to his industry. He was too modest a man to admit that he had enough of natural ability to 
reach the position he knew he enjoyed as a lawj^er. I have kno\vn Judge Conyngham, when in the height of his practice, 
to devote a half day or more to the preparation of an elaborate opinion, and accept a fee of five dollars! I have oftener 
seen him charge three dollars than five During all the time I was a student in his office, the price of preparing and 
writing a deed for the conveyance of land was always one dollar and a quarter, and this included the examination of 
the docket as to liens. I always wondered why the extra quarter of a dollar was added!" 

Mr. Conyngham maintained a commanding position at the Bar until the year 1837. In that year the celebrated 
trial of the Commonwealth vs. "Red" John Gilligan. "Black" John Gilligan, et al., occurred at Wilkes-Barre. The 
defendants, six in number, had been indicted for the murder of George McComb. a skilled mechanic employed in the 
construction of dam No. 4 in the Lehigh River, about three miles below White Haven. The prisoners were defended 
by Luther Kidder, John N. Conyngham, and Hendrick B, Wright, Esqs. In conducting the defense in this trial, Mr. 
Conyngham broke down. He made in it the best speech of his life. His violent effort brought on, at the close of the 
trial, a bronchial affection from which he never entirely recovered. He was laid aside with this attack for more than 
a year, most of the time confined to his house. He never appeared in Court again as an advocate. He had just reached 
the point for which he had been long striving — to stand in the forefront of the Bar of Northern Pennsylvania, when 
his bright hopes .seemed blighted, and he was appointed to sickness and to silence. 

"The delicate state of his health was, of course, matter of deep regret to the Bench, the Bar, and the people. .\\\ 
remedies failed to restore him, and the common voice was that he must go upon the Bench; and there he went, with a 
reputation for ability, legal learning, and honesty of purpose, all of which he moit faithfully sustained." In March , 
1839, he was appointed by Gov. David R. Potter to the presidency of the 13th Judicial District of Pennsylvania, then 
one of the largest districts in the state, and comprising the counties of Susquehanna, Bradford, Tioga, Potter, and 
McKean. The first session of his Court was held in Tioga. 

By Act of April 13th, 1840. Luzerne County was attached to the 13th District, and Susquehanna County was 
transferred to the 11th District, then presided over by the Hon. William Jessup, of Montrose, Susquehanna County. 
By this transfer Judges Conyngham and Jessup were enabled to live at their respective places of abode within their 
districts. Judge Conyngham took his seat upon the Bench of Luzerne County at April Term, 1841. Hi- commission 
expired in 1849, and he was not reappointed, as the then Governor of Pennsylvania was a Whig, and Judge Conyngham 
was a Democrat; but in the Fall of 1851. under the amended Constitution, he was unanimously elected to the presi- 
dency of the 11th Judicial District, then composed of Luzerne, Wyoming, Montour, and Columbia Counties. These 
last three counties were in 1853 and 1856 transferred to other districts, leaving Luzerne to constitute the 1 1th District. 

In October, 1861, Judge Conyngham was re-elected President Judge of the Luzerne District, on the Union and 
Democratic tickets. 

On the 18th of June. 1870. he informed his fellow-citizens, through the press, of his resignation of the office which 
he had held for twenty-nine years. He said: •• * * * Advancing years and some physical infirmity, ciearly 
perceived by myself in times of official labors, admonishing me of my inability to attend to official duty as I would 
desire to do. have led me to the determination to deliver back to you. through the proper channel, the trust which, in 
my younger days, you committed to my charge.* * * I retire from you, however, only officially. 

It is my comfort and my pride that, though hereafter determined to remain in a private station, I intend to live, 
and hope to die. a citizen of old Luzerne — a county in which I have resided upwards of fifty years, the period of my 
professional and judicial life. * * * 

I trust and hope you will obtain an abler judge, though I feel in my conscience that you wih not acquire one who 
will more faithfully and laboriously strive to do his duty. 

I separate, officially, with deep and abiding regret from a people who have so often, by the expression of their 
wishes, and the indorsement of my course, sustained me in my official position, and with feeUngs which no language 
can express, from my friend and brother the learned Additional Law Judge [Edmund L. Danal elected by you, and from 
my other brethren on the Bench, and from the Bar. to whose friendship, forbearance, and consideration I owe so much, 
with each and all of whom I have ever maintained the kindest relations, and for whom I have so strong a regard." 

The members of the Luzerne Bar, desiring to express their kind feelings towards Judge Conyngham, tender_ed 
Viim a banquet, which took place at the Wyoming Valley Hotel, Wilkes-Barre, on the evening of August 4th. 1870. 
Eighty-two members of the Bar and invited guests were present, and the Hon. H. B. Wright presided. During the 
evening a very handsome silver tea service was presented to the honored Judge, in behalf of the cornpany present, 
as the lasting evidence of their personal and official regards. It is not often that such a tribute is paid to a Judge. 
It was the first instance of the kind in Pennsylvania. 

Judge Conyngham was succeeded on the Bench bv the Hon. Garrick M. Harding. 

From May. 1827, to May 1828, and from May, 1834, to May, 1837, Judge Conyngham was Burgess of Wilkes-Barre 
Borough, and in 1849 and in 1850 he was President of the Borough Council. He was a member of the first Board of 
Directors of the Wyoming Bank of Wilkes-Barre, organized in November, 1829. 

In 1850 he was a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from Luzerne County; was chairman of 
the Committee of Ways and Means, and took an active part in the several important questions then before the Legis- 
lature. Among other matters he advocated the then proposed amendment, to the Constitution, taking the appoint- 
ment of Judges from the Executive and giving the selection to the votes of the people. 

In 1850 he was prominently mentioned in connection with the Democratic nomination for Governor of the State. 

In 1855 the "Hollenback Cemetery Association of Wlkes-Barre" was organized and Judge Conyngham was elected 
a member of the first Board of Managers. He continued in the Board as long as he hved, and at the time of his death 
was President of it. 

In 1821 Judge Conyngham was elected a vestryman of St. Stephen's P. E. Church. Wilkes Barre. In October, 
1826, he was elected a lay deputy from St. Stephen's parish to the Annual Convention of the Protestant Episcopal 
Church in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. In 1844 he was nominated and elected by the Convention a Deputy to the 
General Convention, and in the following October he took his seat in that body at Cincinnati. Subsequently, with 
but a single exception, he was returned to the General Convention at every session. In the Diocesan Convention 
he was one of the most promising and influential members; was placed on many important committees, and was highly 
respected for his earnestness and sterling talents. In the General Convention, a body compo.sed of four clergymen and 
four laymen from each Diocese, and meeting every third year in order to legislate on matters involving the interests 
of the whole Church in the United States, he early attained an active and prominent position. In 1862 he was placed 
on the most important of all committees of the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies, that known as the Committee on 
Canons. His lay colleagues were Murray Hoffman, Esq., of New York, Judge Chambers of Maryland, the Hon. 
Robert C Winthrop of Massachusetts, the Hon. Hamilton Fish of New York, and other gentlemen of equal ability 
and prominence. He brought into the body the same calm, deliberate, impartial judgment which gave him reputation 
in the civil courts. His suggestions were always listened to vrith respect and deference. He was recognized as one of 
the leaders of the Low Church party of his Church in the United States. 

In October. 1868, he was elected President of the American Church Missionary Society, one of the most important 
organizations in the Protestant Episcopal Church, and having its central office in New York City. "In this office." 
sai<i the Rev. Dr. Tyng, "his presence has brought commanding dignity to the fulfillment of his duties, his eminent 
christian character has added veneration and respect to his position, and his decided evangelical judgments and ex- 
pressions have enhanced the confidence with which its operations have been regarded." 


The masterful address of Judge Conyngham upon that occasion, from which 
frequent extracts have been quoted in these volumes, summed up with pains- 
taking accuracy the history of Luzerne County from its inception to the date of 
the new cornerstone. In speaking of the proposed building itself, the orator 
left the following description: 

"Some persons have supposed the new plan to be unnecessarily large; but if such persons 
will only, calmly enquire what is needed in the County buildings, and then examine the details 
of the plan, the conveniences and objects to which the various parts are to be applied, they will 
be satisfied that a building to answer the required purposes, not only at the present time, but for 
many years to come, will require dimensions at least as extended as appear by the foundation 
under our eyes. 

" Our County, one of the most prominent in her growing prosperity in the State, is worthy 
also of handsome buildings, which will vie with those of other Counties not more prominent. 
Yet while, it is believed, these buildings, proposed to be erected, will be handsome, comparatively 
little of the expense will arise merely from the ornamental parts. It is in the solid character 
of the work, the safety and security of the office rooms, and the conveniences connected with the 
building, that the heavy portion of the expenditure is to be found. The people of this Borough, 
too, feeling a pride in the progress of this improvement, have been willing, from their own indi- 

On the 20th of February, 1871, owing to the serious illness of his eldest son, Lieut. Col. John B. Conyngham, of 
the 24th U. S. Infantry, at Fort Clark, Texas, Judge Conyngham, accompanied by his second son, WilUam L.. started 
for Texas to bring home the dying son and brother. 

On their way, at Magnolia, Miss., Thursday, February 23rd, Judge Conyngham, in attempting to leave the train 
was run over by the cars, and both of hi;, legs were crushed below the knees. Wilhng hands and kind hearts were present 
to render all the assistance possible, and he was gently carried to the Central Hotel where two physicians examined 
his wounds. His mind was not in the least affected; he inquired about his wounds, asked his son to be calm, thanked 
the men who had been with him from the time of his injury for their great kindness to him, and was often heard praying. 

About thirty minutes before his death, which occurred within two hours from the time of the accident, one of 
the gentlemen present at his bedside said "Judge, you are a perfect hero; I never saw so much nerve in a man of your 
years." As if in reply to this remark he clearly but calmly said, "I know that my Redeemer liveth." These were his 
last words, as he almost immediately fell asleep. 

The remains of Judge Conyngham reached Wilkes-Barre on the morning of March 1st. The Borough authorities, 
the members of the Bar, and the police force escorted the remains from the railroad station to the late residence of the 

The funeral took place the next afternoon. At noon all business was suspended in town and stores closed, while 
early preparations were made by almost the whole population to testify respect for the deceased. Upon many buildings 
were displayed mourning emblems. At three o'clock the general proces-ion was formed on Franklin Street under tlie 
direction of Gen. Henry M. Hoyt. The coffin containing the remains of the honored dead, covered with floral emblems, 
was then escorted to St. Stephen's Church. Brief addresses were delivered by the Rev. Charles DeKay Cooper, 
Rector of the Church of the Holy Apostles, Philadelphia; the Rev. George D. Miies, Rector of St. John's Church, 
Taunton, Mass; and the Rev. R. H. Williamson, Rector of St. Stephen's. After these services the funeral procession 
moved to the Hollenback Cemetery, where the interment took place. 

Judge Conyngham was a handsome, refined, gentlemanly man, of soft voice and persuasive manners, and had 
not mentally, morally, or physxally, an angle about him. In his presence you thought of Shakespeare's lines: 

"The elements 
So mix'd in him, that Nature might stand up, 
And say to all the world, 'This is a man!' " 

His word was a synonym of honor as well as of sense. 

.\s a lawyer and a Judge he had the entire confidence of the members of the Bar. They were aware that his de- 
cisions were not the result of an inconsiderate conclusion. They knew that the rule of law adopted was the conclusion 
deduced from authority, or from close consideration. "A great lawyer," said Charles O'Connor once, "is not the one 
who knows the most of law, but who understands what the point involved is." 

Judge Conyngham's industry was wonderful. "During an adjournment of Court he would frequently go without 
his meal, spending the whole time in his library, that he might be ready at the assembling of the Court to meet the 
questions that the case presented. Labor seemed to be a pleasure to him. 

"He was proud of his reputation as a Judge. He disliked to be reversed, and his great desire was that he should 
be sustained by the Court of review, and it was very seldom that he was reversed. Therefore, no labor was too much 
for him to perform. When he \vas in the midst of a trial, he was lost to everything else; his mind was on that and 
that alone. Hurrying, with his head down, absorbed in liis own reflections, in passing from his office to the Court, 
he would scarcely notice any one. Never was man more devoted to his occupation, and never did man have a more 
earnest desire to administer the law correctly and in all its purity. Thus, with his research and his well-balanced 
mind, and his scrupulous desire to administer justice, he could not be otherwise than a most excellent Judge. And such 
he was." 

In early life he was warmly interested in State and National politics, and though invariably decided and inflexible 
in his attitude, was respected and admired even by his opponents. In a speech which he made in 1862, at the Triennial 
Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States, he said that since he had had the honor of being 
raised to the Bench he had refrained from any active part in politics; he had not attended any political meetings, 
had dehvered no political addresses, and had heard none. 

During the War of the Rebellion he was an earnest advocate for the Union, headed many subscription lists, ad- 
dressed public meetings, and encouraged enlistments. 

Judge Conyngham's piety was robust and manly. There was no equivocation about it, no timidity in its main- 
tenance, no restiveness under it as if it were a burden. He was never ashamed of his religion. It was not a garment 
made for home wear, to be put off when he went on the circuit and on the Bench. It was not a robe to be worn on 
Sundays and in churches, and to be laid aside on journeys and in court houses. 

At the time of his death Judge Conyngham was Senior Warden of St. Stephen's Church, Wilkes-Barre, having 
held the office of Vestryman for fifty years; President of the Wilkes-Barre Tract Society, of the Luzerne County Bible 
Society, of the Hollenback Cemetery Association, and of the American Church Missionary Society, New York Citj'; 
Vice President of the .American Sunday School Union, and of the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, Philadelphia. 

Judge Conyngham married, December 17th, 1823, Ruth Ann Butler, seventh child of Gen. Lord Butler, and she 
bore him seven children, as follows: David Conyngham, born January 7th, 1826; John Butler Conyngham, born 
September 29, 1827; William Lord Conyngham, born Novembe.- 21, 1829; Thomas Dyer Conyngham, born December 
11. 1831; Mary, wife of Charles Parrish. Esq ; Anna Marie, wife of Rt. Rev. William Baker Stevens, D. D., Bishop 
of Pennsylvania; Charles Miner Conyngham, born July 6, 1840. 


vidual means, in addition to their liability in common with the citizens of the whole County, 
to aid materially in the expense of its construction. 

"The plan of the proposed new building is in the Commissioners' office, and open to the 
inspection of those who may wish to examine it. The foundation which we see before us shows 
the size and general outline upon the ground. The front portion of the building is of two stories, 
to be built most solidly and compactly, with cross beams of iron, supporting the brick arches 
between the floors, to ensure their safety from lire. All the public offices are to be located in this 
part of the building, except the Sheriff's, which will be in the second story of the tower in front. 
The Court room properly fitted is high and commodious; and the Jury rooms are in the second 
front, or rather the rear of the building, opening towards the east end of Market street, and 
contiguous to the Court. These are also on a second floor, and can be conveniently guarded and 
watched by the officers." 

The usual deliberateness to be expected of public work attended the com- 
pletion of the building after its cornerstone was laid. On Xovember 25, 185 7, 
the building was reported "under roof." Care was taken, in connection with 
plans for the new structure, not to imperil the foundations of the old, or second 

LuzERXE County's Third Court House 

Completed 1859 

court house, and this continued to be used for county purposes until the Spring 
of 1858 when it was sold to Metzgar and Shiber, who agreed to remove the old 
building, pile up the foundation stones and fill up the cellar in return for salvage 

Commenting on the situation, the Record of the Times, under date of Oct- 
ober 10, 1858, has this to say: 

"IMuch as we dislike everything connected with the new court house, in its present lo- 
cation, we must give the court room the credit of being the handsomest we have ever seen. Thomas 
Lewis has just been putting up a handsome chandelier having 18 lights which, with those on the 
judges desk and the side lights, will give all the light needed. The woodwork of the room is painted 
to imitate^oak. The windows are of colored glass and the arched ceiling is ornamented in good 
taste. The room would look better without the elevated seats, but perhaps we have been accust- 
omed to them sc long in the old court rooms that we should be lost without them. We rather 
think that when alterations are made thev will come out." 


On November 27th the same year, gas in the court room was lighted by 
way of experiment which pleased even the pessimistic journal above mentioned, 
although it further complained that "the room is still uncarpeted and unfurnished 
and there are bad echoes." 

In September, 1859, we find from press mention that "the court house is 
not vet completed. Nearly the whole season has been consumed in extending 
the height of the tower thirty feet. It will have to remain through another 
winter uncompleted." Again in November of the same year a somewhat sar- 
castic reference to the building appears as to the unfinished tower. "The cap" 
comments the scribe, "looks like a man's hat on a child's head — as though it 
must slip down. A very neat straw thatch instead of shingles would add to the 
picturesqueness of the top finish." The Fall of the same year saw the removal 
of the "fire proof," and the still older academy building, but as the cellars of 
these buildings were not filled in, the condition of the grounds was pronounced 
"a disgrace to the county and a nuisance to the town." 

By gradual stages, however, Luzerne County's third court house was com- 
pleted. Many offices were occupied in the early months of 1859 and the court 
room was used at the Fall term. On July 4, 1860, the national colors were flown 
from a new flag staff then completed on top of the structure. 

The court house bell was raised to position in December of the same year 
and continued to ring first at 9 A. M. and 2 P. M., later at 10 A. M. and 2 P. M. 
until 1901, when the practice was discontinued. The clock appeared on the tower 
in the vSpring of 1861. When in June, 1874, the building was remodeled to some 
extent by the addition of a second story at East Market vStreet approach, the 
building, to all intents and purposes remained the same as that remembered by 
the present generation, before it, too, gave way to larger demands of public 
business and was banished for all time from a location on the Public Square. 

In a previous Chapter devoted to the early coal trade of Wyoming, men- 
tion was made of the organization of the Wyoming Historical and Geological 
Society on February 11,. 185 8, that date being the fiftieth anniversary of Judge 
Fell's experiment in burning anthracite without a forced draft. A fortunate 
coincidence led to the birth of this institution which, with the years, has become 
of increasing service to the community. 

On the anniversary above mentioned, Capt. James P. Dennis, a grandson 
of Judge Fell, J. Butler Conyngham, the Hon. Henry M. Hoyt and the Hon. 
Stanley Woodward found themselves in a carriage on the way to the business 
portion of Wilkes-Barre. Captain Dennis mentiohed that before leaving home 
that morning, he had picked up some old documents belonging to Judge Fell 
and had noted his entry on the fly leaf of a Masonic volume that February 11, 
1808, was designated as the day of the Judge's experiment. Following an ex- 


clamation of surprise that exactly fifty years had elapsed since the entry had been 
made, came a suggestion that the four gentlemen in question invite others of 
their acquaintance to attend an informal meeting that afternoon in the then 
standing original Fell tavern, for the purpose of commemorating the occasion. 
Captain Dennis was elected chairman and William P. Miner secretary of the 

Capt. E. L. Dana outlined the purpose of the meeting and appointed the 
following committee to report resolutions expressive of the sense of the gathering: 
Stanley Woodward, Henry M. Hoyt, G. B. Nicholson, Caleb E. Wright, W. H. 
Beaumont and Samuel Bowman. The committee then framed the following 
resolution: "That in view of the fact that there are still preserved in our midst 
many memorials, papers and relics of local and general historical importance, 
liable to be lost or disfigured in the removal and change of families and which, 
if gathered together, would form a collection of increasing interest and value 
therefore, resolved, that a committee of five be appointed by the chair to report 
a plan of organization of a Historical Society. Subsequently on March 11th, 
a more general meeting was convened, a name selected and a motion adopted 
that apphcation be made to the legislature for the incorporation of a society 
"for literary and scientific purposes." By decree of the Court, under date of 
May 10, 1858, the charter was confirmed and the Society empowered to proceed 
with business. The first officers elected were: president, Edmund h. Dana, 
vice president, Charles F. Ingram, M. D., corresponding secretary, William P. 
Miner, recording secretary, George H. Butler, treasurer, John B. Conyngham 
and librarian. Welding F. Dennis, M. D."" 

It was not until the charter of the Society was amended by order of Court 
under date of December 11, 1882, that the oversight and management of the 
organization became vested in a board of five trustees. Such trustees named in 

'^The following men have served the Society as Presidents and Corresponding Secretaries, respectively, since 
its foundation: 


James Plater Dennis, Chairman, February 1 1 to Andrew Todd McClintock, LL. D., 1876 

March 11 1858 Calvin Parsons 1877-78 

Hon. Edmund Lovell Dana 1858-'60 John Welles Hollenback, 1879-'80 

Gen. Wm. vSterling Ross 1861 Hon. Charles Abbot Miner 1881 

Charles F. Ingham, M. D., 1862-'63 Charles F. Ingham, M. D 1882-'83 

Welding Fell Dennis, M. D 1864-'65 Hon. Edmund Lovell Dana, 1884-'88 

Volney Lee Maxwell 1866-'67 Andrew Todd McClintock, LL. D I889-'91 

Martin Coryell 1868 Calvin Parsons 1892-'93 

Hon. John Nesbitt Conyngham, LL. D. 1869 Sheldon Reynolds 1894 

Hon. Hendrick Bradley Wright 1870-'72 Hon. Stanley Woodward 1895-'99 

Calvin Wadhams 1873 Maj. Irving M. Steams 1899-1920 

James Plater Dennis 1874 Col. Dorrance Reynolds, 1920- 

Payne Pettebone 1875 


William Penn Miner 1858-'60 Calvin Wadhams 1869 

Welding Fell Dennis 186a-'62 Douglas Smith 1880 

Hon. Edmund Lovell Dana Sheldon Reynolds 1884-'94 

1862-'63; 1876-79; 1881-'83 Rev. Horace Edwin Hayden 1894-1917 

James Plater Dennis 1864-'65 Samuel C. Chase 1917- 

Martin Coryell,... 1866-'68; 1870-75 


1844, the seventh 

the order of the Court were: Charles F. Ingram, M. D., Edward P. Darhng, 
Esq., Ralph D. Lacoe, Esq., of Pittston, Sheldon Reynolds, Esq.* and Harrison 
Wright, Esq. 

The early years of the Society's life were uneventful. On the first anni- 
versary of its foundation, Gen. William S. Ross presented to the organization 
the "Chambers Collection" of coins and curiosities. This had been procured by 
the donor at an expense of two thousand dollars and consisted of some ten thous- 
and specimens, "around which," says his biographer, "a neucleus of other con- 
tributions gathered, and which really gave the Society success, and a prestige 
and name that commended it to the friends of science everywhere." 

The early meetings of the Society and its collections were at first housed in 
Institute Hall, but at almost every annual meeting of the body after its collections 
became larger and more difficult to catalog, discussions arose as to obtaining 
more suitable rooms as a home for the organization. On March 11, 1870, a 
resolution prevailed to rent rooms in the new Music Hall building at that time 
nearing completion, but for some reason not apparent on the minutes, this 
was not done. Instead, the newly organized City of Wilkes-Barre, voted through 
its council on January 21, 1871, to deed to the Society three lots of the "Old 
Grave Yard property, having a frontage of one hundred feet on Washington 
Street," provided, "the Society would erect a building, costing not less than 
$40,000, for its own use on said lots within the time limit of two years." 

*ShELDON Reynolds was born in Kingston. Luzerne County. Pennsylvania, February 
child of the Hon. William Champion 
and Jane Holberton (Smith) Reynolds. 
He was graduated at Yale College with 
the degree of A. B. in 1867, and in 1872 
received the degree of A. M. After 
leaving college he spent some time in 
foreign travel, and then, upon his re- 
turn home entered the law school of 
Columbia College, New York, where, 
in 1868 and 1869, he pursued the usual 
course of law. Later he became a stu- 
dent of law in the office of Andrew 
T. McClintock. Esq. , at Wilkes-Barre. 
and October 16, 1871, was admitted to 
the Bar of Luzerne County. 

He was Treasurer of the Wyoming 
Historical and Geological Society in 
1880-'82; Corresponding Secretary, 
1884 -'94. and President in 1894 -'95. 
He was also a member of various 
other historical and scientific societies 
in different parts of the country. He 
was one of the original Trustees of 
the Osterhout Free Library of Wilkes- 
Barre, and was Secretary of the Board 
from the date of its organization until 
his death. In 1875 and '76 he was a 
member of the School Board of the 
Third District of Wilkes-Barre, and in 
1892 he became President of the 
Wilkes- Barre Water Company. He 
was the author of various essays and 
monographs, some of which have been 
published in pamphlet form, and others 
in different volumes of the "Proceedings 
and Collections of the Wyoming His- 
torical and Geological Society." 

Mr. Reynolds was married Nov- 
ember 23, 1876. to Annie Buckingham 
Dorrance. only daughter of Col. 
Charles Dorrance. 

Mr. Reynolds died at Saranac 
Lake. N. Y., February 8, 1895, after 
a long and tedious illness. Mrs. 
Reynolds died at her residence in 
Wilkes-Barre, October 4, 1905, being 
survived by one son — Dorrance Reyn- 
olds, Esq. 

Sheldon Reynolds, A. B., A. M. 


As no plans for such building were authorized, the conclusion remains 
that the site was not satisfactory. Instead, the minutes mention negotiations 
being opened bv a committee with Col. E. B. Harvey for "the purchase of a 
brick building owned by him (now occupied by C. Morgan and Sons) near the 
corner of Franklin and Market vStreets." 

The dilemma of securing suitable quarters was at length solved by securing 
a portion of the rear of the building erected by the then newly organized Miners 
Bank. Into these quarters the Society moved in the year 1870. 

It was not until the will of the Hon. Isaac S. Osterhout*, dated January 27, 
1881, was read that dreams of the founders of the Society were to come true in 

*Isaac Smith Osterhout was commissioned, February 9, 1870, by Governor Geary, an associate judge of Luzerne 
County, Pennsylvania, to fill a vacancy caused by the death of George Palmer Steele. The Osterhout^. as their name 
indicates, came originally from Holland. They settled first in Connecticut, whence they removed to Dover, Dutchess 
County, N. Y., Jeremiah Osterhout. grandfather of Isaac S. Oiterhout, removed from Dover in 1778 and settled at 
or near Tunkhannock, where he assisted in organizing the township of Putnam, one of the seventeen townships set 
apart to claimants under the Connecticut title. Isaac Osterhout, son of Jeremiah 0,terhout, and the father of Isaac S. 
Osterhout, subsequently settled at a point now known as Lagrange. Wyoming County. Pennsylvania, where he en- 
gaged in merchandise and lumbering, and for some years kept a hou^e fDr the accommodation of strangers and travelers- 
He married, at Old Forge, 
Susanna Smith, a daughter 
of William Hooker Smith 
The forge was originally built 
by Air. Smith, but his son-in- 
law Colonel Napthali Hurl- 
but, ran it at this time. I. S. 
Osterhout's mother was bom 
in a house which formerly 
stood at the comer of North- 
ampton and Franklin Streets, 
on the lot owned and occupied 
by him at the time of his 
death, and later owned by 
G. W. Guthrie, M. D. The 
house Isaac S. Osterhout 
built and occupied at La- 
grange is said to have been 
the fir?t frame house erected 
between Pittston and Athens. 
This house is yet standing. 
Here I. S. Osterhout was 
bom, October 26, 1806. In 
1810 his father moved some 
three miles up the river, in 
1818 to Black Walnut, and 
in 1822 to the Provost farm, 
six miles above Tunkhannock, 
where he died, June 27, 1824. 
He had, prior to his death, a 
share in the Hunt's Ferry 
Shad Fishery. Abou.- 1820 
I. S. Osterhout took a load 
of shad, salted in barrels, to 
Salina, Xew York, to ex- 
change them for salt. Mr. 
Kinney accompanying him 
took a load of whetstones. 
The t rip was made in sleighs 
and occupied two weeks. The 
shad found a ready sale, but 
the whettones were disposed 
of with much diflicuity and 
at a sacrifiitye. When I. S. 
Osterhout was twelve years 
of age he was sent to school at 
the Kingston Academy. In 
1823 he came to Wilkes-Barre 
and engaged as clerk with 
Denison. McCoy & Daven- 
port, who had a store on River 
Street. He remained with 
them about a year, when he 
returned to Tunkhannock and 
engaged with Beach Tutt'.e 
who was then in business 
there. In 1824 he went to 
Elmira. New York, and re- 
mained there until 1830, clerk- 
ing for Tuttle & Covell. He 

then came to Kingston and clerked for Gaylord & Reynold^, and remained with them nearly a year. In the latter part of 
the last named year he came to Wilkes-Barre and entered into partnership in the mercantile business with hi, cousin, 
Whitney Smith. This partnership continued until 18.^4, when it was dissolved, and the business thereafter was con- 
tinued by Mr. Osterhout alone. .A.s an evidence of enhancement of value; in Wilkes-Barre. it may be remarkedfthat 
the premises occupied, embracing thirtv feet on South Main Street and fifty feet on the Public Square, with suitable 
space in the rear, commanded a rent of but thirty dollars a year. In 1837 Mr. Osterhout purchased of Rev. George 
Lane, for the sum of three thousand dollars, the valuable property still owned by the estate, comprising a frontage 
of one hundred feet on the northwest side of the Public Square, now occupied by the Jos. S. Coons store, on which 

Isaac S. Osterhout 


Wyoming Historical and Geological Society 

having a suitable building provided for its needs. Under provisions of the will, 
practicallv the entire estate of the philanthropist was devoted to "establishing 
and maintaining in the City of Wilkes-Barre a free hbrary to be called 'The 
Osterhout Free Library, ' " and further directing that "in the election and ar- 
rangement of the building herein authorized, the same shall be so constructed 
that, in addition to the space required for the accommodation of the library 
and the increase thereof * * * a portion of said building shall be devoted 
to the use and accommodation of the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society, 
without charge for rent, heat or light 
of the rooms that may be devoted to 
and used for the purposes of said 

In 1893, the trustees of the li- 
brary, deeming it safer as well as pre- 
ferable to house the Society's valu- 
ables in a separate building, author- 
ized the erection of the Society's 
present home in rear of the Library 
proper. On November 30, 1893 the 
completed building was accepted on 
behalf of the organization by the Hon. 
Stanley Woodward, the last survivor 
of its founders in an address which 
traced the history of the Society and 
to which mention has been made from time to time in these volumes. 

In 1925, the Society acquired the larger building then about to be vacated 
by the Wilkes-Barre Institute and considered the adaption of that building 
to its continually growing needs. This plan however was changed when in 1927 
the Society merged with the Arts and Sciences Association, and with the prospect 
of a wing in that group of future buildings. 

Just as the history of a community and the composition of its population 
can be traced through the establishment of churches of different denominations 
at various periods, so may a reasonably definite knowledge of the trend of events 
be gained by an investigation of the laying out and abandonment of burial 
grounds; lugubrious but necessary concomitants of community existence. The 
Wyoming Valley differed in no essential from other American communities in 
that many of its earlier burial places were intended for private or family use. 

Many of these plots, usually a half acre in extent and, at the start, protected 
by well kept fences, have received mention in earlier portions of this History. 
Few, however, have survived to the present excepting as overgrow^n and almost 
unrecognizable odd corners of farm lands or suffering a far more dismal fate in 
the encroachment of mine cave and culm pile. The earliest of these, in point 
of authentic record is what today is known as the Jenkins and Harding cemetery 
at West Pittston which, through the ministration of heirs of the two families, 
has been spared the fate of so many others. 

there was then a house and two stores. Mr. Osterhout continued in the mercantile business until 1859. He had 
after years of toil and industry skillfully directed, acquired an ample competency He held the offices of secretary 
and treasurer of the Hollenback Cemetery at the time of his death, and most of the time from its organization in 1854 
He was also at the time of his death, and had been for thirty years, the secretary and treasurer of the Wyoming .A.then- 
aeum. On January 29, 1840, Mr. Osterhout married Elizabeth C. Lee, only daughter of Hon. Thomas Lee, of Port 
Elizabeth, Cumberland County, New Jersey, who was a prominent and highly respected citizen of that place, and 
represented the district on the congress of the United States. I. S. Osterhout died in Wilkes-Barre April 12, 1882, 
and his wife, April 28, 1887. They left no children. 


A sketch of this plot, prepared by E. Sweetser Tillotson, and pubhshed in 
the Sunday Independent of October 26, 1924, accurately traces its history as 
follows : 

"Going back to 1754 there is found the first transfer of land that was utilized for the 
Jenkins & Harding cemetery in West Pittston. The land on which the cemetery is situated is 
a portion of the land owned by John Jenkins, Sr., »vho was the general agent of the Connecticut 
Susquehanna Land Co., and who surveyed and purchased the district of Westmoreland from the 
Indians for that company in 1754. The lot was given by him to the public for general use as a 
burying ground but was merely set aside for burial purposes and was never deeded. 

"When Judge Jenkins died and his estate was divided among his heirs, the portion occupied 
by the cemetery was included in the inheritance of Stephen, son of John Sr. At Stephen's death, 
his son, Jabez, came into possession of this tract. Jabez Jenkins sold the farm to Peter Polon, 
'reserving one-half acre for a burying ground and more if needed.' This is the first time that 
this cemetery ground or plot is mentioned in a legal way. When the village of West Pittston was 
laid out there was danger that the old burial ground would be obliterated;- the worn rail fence 
that enclosed it was being carried away by the newcomers for use as firewood. Observing this 
with decD concern, Alarv B. (Mrs. George AI. Richart) went to the Hon. Garrick AI. Harding 
and expressed her fears that the place would be destroyed and asked him to advise what .should 
be done about it. 

"He suggested that an association he formed to be known as "The Jenkins and Harding 
Cemetery Association,' and otTered to transact all the legal business if Mrs. Richart would make 
the copies of the papers. Thereupon a meeting of interested persons was held and money sub- 
scribed to build a fence. That was in 1865. Funds to the amount of S40 had been previously 
given toward the ground in the will of Jabez Jenkins but as the will stipulated that the fence 
must have a ground wall of brick and the new fence was of wooden pickets set on stone, with iron 
rods in the posts, the money so willed was not used. The picket fence is replaced by a substanial 
iron one, the expense of which was paid from a fund presented through the will of Mrs. Alary, 
widow of Col. Harris Jenkins, son of Col. John; excepting that portion of the fence on Linden 
street, w^hich was paid for in part from the same fund and in part by contributions from Mrs. 
Garman and Mr. John S. Jenkins, a great-grandson of Judge John. 

"The gift of this plot was made prior to the time of the battle, incorrectly called the" Wyo- 
ming Massacre" and is one of the few old cemeteries left undisturl^ed by the march of improve- 
ments in this section. The incorporators of the old 'Jenkins and Harding Association' are: G. M. 
Richart, Peter Polon, J. E. Myers, N. M. Breese, William Love, A. Polon, W. S. Holmes, J. J. 
Breese, John Jenkins, John J. Hyde, G. AL Harding and C. K. Corman. ' 

Later in point of dedication, but first used at practically the same period 
as the Jenkins and Harding plot, was the private burial ground of the Hollen- 
back family, located on North Main Street in Wilkes-Barre along the opposite 
side of the road from the present cemetery of that name. In this were buried 
the first members of the Hollenback family who reached Wyoming, in addition 
to other relatives and friends. 

This plot was surrounded by a picket fence and was kept in order by 
the family until all the bodies possible of identification were re-interred in the 
present Hollenback cemetery. Another family plot which was preserved until 
the present Hollenback cemetery was opened, was the Ross Burial ground, 
situate on a part of the William Ross farm. This plot, as described by Charles 
Miner, in 1837, "was on the right of the road as you came down the hill into 
Wilkes-Barre over the Hazleton turnpike." 

The same writer in recording events in the year 185 7, made this observation 
as to other private burial plots which came under his observation: 

"From the center of Wilkesbarre within eight miles towards Pittston, 
there are no less than eight public and private places for the deposit of the de- 
parted. If there is one of the number where neglected spot is not written in legible 
characters, it has not been my fortune to see it." 

One of these mentioned by Mr. Miner and still remembered by older resi- 
dents, was the Gore family burial grounds at Port Bowkley, near the present 
Henry Colliery. 

As late as 1904 traces of it remained, but gradually the encroachments 


of mining have almost completely obliterated the plot. Most of the bodies were, 
however, re-interred in other cemeteries before its fate was sealed. 

Still another of the older burying grounds, first dedicated as a family plot 
and later opened to public use, has been described by ]\Ir. Tillotson in his Sunday 
Independent sketches as follows: 

"The Baldwin Cemetery which is located in Exeter Township, is outstanding because of 
the great length of time over which its use has extended Interments were first made at the very 
start of the nineteenth century. At the ])resent time, more than one hundred years later, it is 
still the burial ground for the people of that section. 

"It lies along the river road in Exeter Township about two miles above Ransom Ferry. 
It is situated on the right hand side of the road when traveling up the river, on the land which 
slopes down toward the water and about a quarter of a mile from it. 

"The grave stones are in an excellent state of preservation. This is partly due to the fact 
that there are but few trees there to collect moisture and shade the stones and also the continual 
use of the ground has brought constant care. The cemetery is fronted along the road by an ex- 
cellent brick wall. On the other sides, the cemetery is surrounded by cleared farm lands. It has 
been named after the Baldwin family, the earlier settlers of the section." 

To the fact that it was a churchyard and that a church building has been 
maintained on a portion of the plot from earliest times, is due the preservation 
of the old Hanover Green Cemetery in Hanover Township as well as the Forty 
Fort burial ground in the Borough of that name. 

Both of these have been mentioned on previous pages. A more unkind 
fate befell the churchyard of St .Stephens in Wilkes-Barre which, while not a 
rival of either of the others mentioned in point of early occupanc}^ was never- 
theless, a place of burial of man}^ of the earlier settlers of Wyoming. One of 
the earliest burials recorded in this plot was that of Capt. Samuel Bowman, 
June 25, 1818. The march of progress and the gradual encroachment of an ex- 
panding building line in the business districts of the Borough combined to cause 
the abandonment of the St. Stephens plot, just as the same combination wrought 
the conversion to other purposes of the site of the Borough's first "grave yard" 
as it was officially called, and mention of which will follow in order. 

In each of these plots, abandonment meant the removal of only a portion 
of the bodies interred. Many unknown and unmarked graves were untouched 
when the major removals were effected and their later discovery in excavation 
for buildings .have startled the community upon more than one occasion. 

When the parish building of St. Stephens was erected in 1828, it was upon 
a portion of the old burying ground. All unclaimed remains which were discovered 
during the work of excavating for the foundations were removed to a common 
lot in the City Cemetery, in North Wilkes-Barre. Such remains as were claimed 
by relatives were removed and birried in family lots, but some graves were evi- 
dently overlooked. There was no record of the burials in the churchyard other 
than that furnished by the stones then standing, which were as follows: 

"Amos Sisty, Feb. 16, 1S47; Samuel D. Bottle (or Bettle), Nov. 10, 1832; William R. 
Bottle (or Bettle), Dec. 21, 1847; Peleg Tracey, March 15, 1825; Dominique Germaine, Feb. 27, 
1827; MaryW. Denison, Aug. 19, 1842; George B. Denison, March 11, 1843; Carohne B. Denison, 
July 1, 1853; Lucy E. Miner, May 15, 1842; Ebenezer Bowman, March 1, 1829; Horatio F. 
Bowman, Dec. 21, 1847; Esther Ann Bowman, July 21, 1848; Samuel Bowman, Jan. 25, '48; 
William B. Norton, July 20, 1842; James D. Eichelberger, Oct. 5, '52; John Ellsworth, March 10, 
1823; Hannah Tracy, Sept. 28, '46; Ralph Peters, Nov. 11, '42; Thomas Davidge, Nov. 25, '49; 
Hannah McClintock, 1833; Ann E. Myers, May 27, 1848; Martha A. Myers, April 29, '38; 
John Myers, Jan. 25, '50; EHzabeth M. Emily, April 29, '37." 

Again in 1897, when further excavations were made in the plot for the 
enlargement of the church edifice, numbers of other bodies were imcovered. 


and still again in 1924, when an addition to the parish house was in progress 
of construction, additional remains were discovered. So unmindful of the history 
of the church plot proved the generation of press chroniclers of the last named 
year, that one in particular, penned a rather lurid account of the discovery of 
the remains of Indians in the city's business district. 

In the original town plot of W^ilkes-Barre, surveyed in 1770 by Samuel 
Wallis at the direction of Major Durkee, no provision was made for a public 
burying ground within the surveyed limits. As has been seen (page 655) the 
original fifty "town lots" laid out at this time were all subsequently allotted, 
number 45 being drawn by Ichabod Downing. This lot, like all the others, 
with the exception of pentagonal shaped tracts which conformed to the peculiar 
shape of the "diamond" or Public Square, was rectangular in form and 
contained approximately four acres. Lot 45 extended along Center (now East 
Market) Street from Back Street (now Pennsylvania Avenue) to a point which is 
now the center of Washington Street. 

In a northerly direction it followed the line of Pennsylvania Avenue to 
a point about half way to Union Street and then paralleled Market vStreet to 
the present Washington vStreet. This particular lot, after changing hands 
several times in the course of earlier years, finally reverted to the Susquehanna 
Company and by it was dedicated as a public burying ground. 

The use of a major portion of Back vStreet (Pennsylvania Avenue) as a 
bed for the canal urged forward the Borough Council to action in opening a 
new street in the long block stretching from Main Street eastward, just as the 
business development of West Market Street had demanded the opening of 
Franklin Street through an equally long block which extended westerly from 
Main Street to Front (now River Street.) By action of the council under date 
of April 25, 1842, it was ordained "that Washington Street commence at a post 
on the north s de of South vStreet, on the lands of Gen. William Ross, equi- 
distant from Main and Back vStreets, thence running parallel to said streets, 
crossing Northampton, Main and Union Streets and the Pennsylvania canal, 
and terminate on the south side of North Street in the lands of John Myers, 
said street being forty-nine feet in width and have sidewalks corresponding with 
Franklin Street."* 

Thus were the boundaries of the public "grave yeard" finally and definitely 
fixed. Here it w^as that the earliest burials of the community were made, that 
of Zebulon Butler, Jr. a boy of six, being recorded in the Spring of 1773. 

Aside from the burial plots of St. Stephens Episcopal Church and in later 
times, a small Jewish cemetery in North Wilkes-Barre, this was the exclusive 

*It may be added in passing that a lack of foresight on the part of earlier councils in failing to establish additional 
intersecting cross town streets to break up the thousand foot blocks which parallel the Susquehanna, has resulted 
in imposing upon a later generation in 1925 some of the most difficult traffic problems which confront any city of 


public cemetery of the Borough until the organization of the Hollenback Ceme- 
tery Association in 1855. On 
June 4th of that year the 
corporators of this Associ- 
ation met and elected the 
following: George M. Hol- 
lenback, president; Isaac S. 
Osterhout, secretary ; John 
N. Conynghgm, H. M. Ful- 
ler, 7iba Bennett, W. J. 
Woodward and A. T. Mc- 
Clintock, managers. 

The original area of 
this cemetery was fifteen 
acres, the same being a gift 
of Col. George M. Hollen- 
back with a single limitation 
that "a lot in same should be 
reserved for family use." To 
this acreage, the late John 
Welles Hollenback in 1887, 
added an additional five Hollenback Cemetery Entrance 

acres by way of gift to the Association. By an advertisement in the Record of 
the Times on December 13, 1855, it was announced that the cemetery was open 
for the "choice and selection of lots." The first burial therein was that of the 
remains of George F. Slocum, March 26, 1856. 

On May 21st of the same year, minutes of the Association record the 
issuance of one hundred twenty-nine permits for burial, the rather astonishing 
number being due to the abandonment of private plots for the purpose and the 
assembling of ancestoral dead in this more appropriate spot. 

The "new" cemetery was the product of what had provoked years of dis- 
cussion as to the fate of the ''old." The coming of the canal and its location 
along the easterly boundary of the common burying ground had turned the trend 
of building and business development eastward from the Square. The cemetery, 
cornering as it did at the intersection of two principle streets of this new develop- 
ment, impeded a natural progress in that direction and occupied a major portion 
of four acres of land whose value was much enhanced with the years. As early 
as 1849 the subject of the "grave yard" was a matter of printer's ink as well 
as of much oral discussion. The Advocate of February 14th of that year plunged 
squarely into the controversy. "Ought not" inquires this journal, "interments 
in the present common burying ground to be suspended as early as a new ceme- 
tery can be procured. Ought not suitable grounds in the outskirts of the town, 
where buildings and population are least likely to extend, be obtained either 
by a company or the public, to be laid out with convenience and taste? Would 
not the unoccupied portion of the present lot sell for money sufficient to purchase 
one twice or thrice as large?" 

Council, by resolution dated July 2, 1856, provided "that on and after the 
first day of October, 1856, no burials shall be made in the public graveyards of 
any person, except the deceased be a resident of the Borough, and on and after 


January 1, 1857, no burials shall be made within the Borough limits." The 
municipality's neglect in caring for the abandoned plot then came in for a share 
of editorial attention and for the slurs of press contributors. The absence of a 
fence, the breaking of headstones by mischievous boys, the tendency to stray 
cattle to work further damage in the then unsightly grounds all suggested elo- 
quent appeals to the Borough fathers from those accuated by sentiment. 

These appeals, however, seem to have fallen upon deaf ears. Council- 
manic minutes of the time frequently record discussions as to the proprietv of 
removing the bodies interred therein to some more suitable location, but fail 
to disclose the appropriation of public funds for the upkeep of the then existing 
grounds. In the summer of 185 7, a committee of interested citizens felt im- 
pelled to solicit funds by popular appeal and the Record of the Times records the 
successful culmination of the task in its edition of July 29th as follows: "Our 
citizens will be pleased to learn that a neat fence now encloses the old grave yard. 
Great credit is due to those who have labored to accomplish it, and to the con- 
tributors. Now let the Borough put it in good order." 

But the Borough did not seem inclined to "put it in order" then or later 
nor, if a brief reference in the same journal at a later date is worthy of notice, 
did the contributors to the fence project voluntarily settle with the contractor 
for the job of fence building. On xlugust 4, 1858, Editor ]\Iiner rather caustically 
refers to the fact that H. B. Dennis, contractor, "has given written notice of 
offering for sale the new fence around the grave-yard to satisfy his claims of 
building it." 

The ensuing ten years give every evidence of bickerings on the part of 
the public, perversity on the part of the Borough council and much detail of 
a controversy over the troublesome"grave-yard" that ended more or less happily, 
during the aftermath of the 
Civil war in removing all ex- 
ternal traces of the cemetery 
from the heart of a growing 

Finally in December, 
1868, the Borough council 
announced that it was negot- 
iating with Francis W. Hunt 
for somewhat over eleven 
acres of land adjoining the 
Hollenback burial ground 
A price of fifteen hundred 
dollars per acre was agreed 
upon for the plot and the 
purchase completed January 
19, 1869. 

Council, by subseque- 
quent legislation, provided a 
burial lot in what was offic- 
ially termed the City ceme- 
tery for each holder of title 
to a lot ill the abandoned 

Looking Dowx the River from Site of City 
Cemetery, 1855 


plot and agreed to conduct the removal of remains, the erection in place of head- 
stones and, in effect, to restore in its newly acquired possession as well as possible, 
the arrangement and sequence of graves as they had formerly been known to 
exist in the long neglected Market Street enclosure. Lot holders in the latter, 
in their turn agreed to permit the Borough to take title to whatever equities 
still existed in their names. The Borough thereupon set about the task of the 
removal of some one thousand bodies which in 1870 still remained in the old 
burial place, some six hundred removals having been effected to Hollenback and 
other cemeteries before that time. The work consumed the greater part of two 
years, being practically completed when Wilkes-Barre was to take upon itself 
the added dignity of becoming a city of the Commonwealth. 

On March 3, 1903, in referring to the death of Andrew Heim, the first 
sexton of the City cemetery, the Wilkes-Barre Record made the following in- 
teresting reference: 

"The departure of Andrew Heim from the concerns and cares of this world removes from 
the service of the city its oldest servant. For more than a third of a century he had charge of 
the city cemetery, or s'nce the opening of this burial ground in 1871. Every person about the city 
hall who came in contact with \lr. Heim has a kind word for him, as he was one of those public 
servants who attended strictly to the duties assigned him and never gave his superiors a chance 
to find fault w th the manner in which he performed his work. The burial permit book in the 
office of city clerk Gates gives silent evidence of the great amount of sorrow that Mr. Heim was 
in the presence of during the thirty-two years he spent as superintendent of the cemetery. 

"In that time 11,613 burial permits have been issued for the cemetery It is hard to realize 
what a long silent caravan the souls represented by this number of permits would constitute. 
Of this number about 1,600 were for removals, leaving 10,000 as the number whose remains have 
found their last resting places in the City Cemetery. It is certainly a city of the dead, its popula- 
tion being almost as large as any of the cities in the county outside of Wilkes-Barre." 

Events preceeding the outbreak of the Civil War have, insofar as they 
apply to the scope of this History, been chronicled. A narrative of some of the 
more general local activities that were coincident with the great struggle and 
were permanent rather than merely temporary in their effect seems in place at 
this point, reserving for another Chapter the story of the mighty conflict itself. 

Among many war activities of the year 1862, the first organized charity 
of local scope was to come into existence. 

The Home for Friendless Children was founded March 22, 1862. A 
society was organized by a few ladies at a meeting in a private parlor. They 
were instructed and encouraged by Miss Mary Bowman, sister of Bishop 
Bowman of Lancaster, who had founded a similar home in that city. A small 
frame house on South Street was offered the society rent free, by Mr. William C. 
Gildersleeve. A small amount of money was raised and a call made upon the 
public for contributions of anything that could be turned to account. Gifts 
of money sufficient to cover the salary of the matron for a year were received, 
and applications for admission were so numerous that at the end of three months 
the building, insufiicient to accommodate any more inmates, was enlarged, the 
expense being met by private contributions. On April 11, 1862, the legislature 
legalized the proceedings of the institution and incorporated it under the name 
of "The Home for Friendless Children for the Borough of Wilkesbarre and the 
County of Luzerne." 

The first board of trustees included: George M. Hollenback, president; 
Samuel R. Marshall and James D. L. Harvey, vice presidents; Agib Ricketts, 
secretary; William vS. Ross, treasurer; Andrew T. McClintock. solicitor*; Dr. 
Edward R. Mayer, Dr. Lathan Jones, Robert C. Shoemaker, Volney L. Maxwell, 

*Anijrew Todd McClintock was born in the town of Northumberland, County of Northumberland, n this 
State, on the second day of February, 1810, and was consecjuently nearly 82 years of age at the time of death . January 
14, 1892. His father, Samuel McClintock came to America when eighteen years of age, havini; been born in County 


William ]\I. Lewis, William Wood, Nathaniel Ruttcr, Sharp B. Lewis, \Mlliam 
Swetland, Joseph Lippincott. 

The first board of lady managers included: Airs. W. C. Gildersleeve, 
directress; Mrs. James L. Blake, second directress; Mrs. V. L. Maxwell, secre- 
tary; Mrs. Ziba Bennett, treasurer; Mrs. G. j\I. Hollenback, Mrs. J. N. Conyng- 
ham, Mrs. A. T. AlcChntock, Airs. S. D. Lewis, Mrs. Theron Butner, Mrs. J. 
Lawrence Day, Mrs. E. R. Alayer, Airs. W. S. Ross, Airs. Joseph Lippincott, 
Airs. H. B. Wright, Airs. S. E. Parsons, Airs. C. E. Wright, Airs. W. F. Dennis, 
Airs. J. B. Stark, Airs. J. D. L. Harvey, Aliss Eliza B. Covell, Aliss Harriet AI. 
Waller, Aliss Augusta L. Rutter, Aliss Harriet X. Jones and Aliss Hetty Wright. 

■ Donegal. Ireland. He was followed several years later by his father and both lived and died in Xorthumberland, 
The father of deceased died in 1812. when thirty-six years of age. The mother of A. T. McClintock was Hannah, 
daughter of Col. Andrew Todd of Traffe. Montgomery County, who served in the Revolutionary- War. 

Air, McClintock was educated in the public schools and in Kenyon Collej;e, Ohio, of wnich Bishop Mcllvaine 
was then president. Among his fellow students was Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War durini; President Lincoln's 
administration. He was a close student and made a brilliant record in the iu'^titution, from which he came thoroughlv 
equipped with the most formidable weapon that has yet been suggested with which to battle through life, Steppin,' 
from college life with his diploma, he 
entered the law office of James Hep- 
bum, Esq., in Northumberland, where 
he took the first step in an occupation 
which he so honorably and success- 
fully pursued in Luzerne County, an 
occupation for which he seemed pecul- 
ilarly fitted. A year latei he came to 
Wilkes-Barre and completed his law 
Kudies in the office of Hon. Cicorge W. 
Woodward. On August 8, 1836 he was 
admitted to the bar of this county upon 
the recommendation of the late Judge 
Conyngham, of Chester Butler and 
Volney L, Maxwell, who then con- 
stituted the examining committee, after 
having passed a highly creditable ex- 
amination. Mr. McClinto'ck entered 
into a law partnership with his tutor 
and the firm prospered for two years. 
In 1839 Attorney General Ovid F. 
Johnson appointed him district attorney 
for Luzerne County, but public life 
was not to the liking of Mr. McClintock, 
and one year later he resigned the office 
and resumed his private practice , which, 
on account of the recognized ability of 
the man, was constantly growing. He 
was often importuned by his friends 
to run for oiiice, but he courteously 
refused all offers of assistance in a 
political way and refused to allow his 
name to be used at any of the con- 

In 1867, when Luzerne County 
was first granted an additional law 
judge, the unqualified choice of the 
people seemed to be A. T. AlcClintock. 
He was looked upon as a lawyer em- 
inently fitted for the position, one who 
would carry from the bar to the bench 
all the qualities that go to make a de- 
sirable judge. The following corres- 
pondence explains itself: 

Wilkes-Barre, Pa., April 8, 1867: 
We, the undersigned members of the 
Democratic party of Luzerne County, 
are very desirous that Andrew T. 
McClintock, Esq., should become ad- 
ditional law judge of the Eleventh 
Judicial District, and we urge upon 
him to accept the position, should it 
be tendered him. We have the fullest 
confidence that he will be the choice of 
the Democratic party beyond all 
question, and we shall do all that mav 
be necessary for us to do to secure his nomination. It is simply unnecessary to speak of Mr. McClintock as a man and 
as a lawyer. He is known to every one, and he is without reproach, whilst his professional ability is acknowledged 
with profound respect here and elsewhere 

Howard Ellis 
D, R. Randall 

D. C. Cooley 
John Lynch 
Hendrick B. \\'right 
C. F. Bowman 
Ct. B, Nicholson 

E. L. Merriman 
A number of leading lay Democrats and others also signed the petition, 
A similar letter from Republicans was drawn up April 10 and was signed by Henry M. Hoyt, W. W. 

Andrew Hunlock, Garrick^M. Harding, A. M, Baily. E, B. Harvey, V. L. Maxwell, W. W. Ketcham. W. 

Stanley Woodward 
George B. Kulp 
A, R, Brundage 
Gustav Hahn 
O. F. Nicholson 
E. K, Morse 
Charles L. Lamberton 
G, R. Bedford 

Hon, Andrew T, INIcClintock, L.L.D, 

T. H. B. Lewis 

D. Rankin 

Charles Pike 

D. L. O'Neill 

Rufus J. Bell 

Stephen S. Winchester 

M. Regan 

C. L. Bulkeley 

P. Miner, 


During the war an arrangement was made with the state government by 
which soldiers' orphans were placed temporarily in the Home. The remuneration 
for their care enabled the managers to enlarge their corps of helpers and lay 
bv a small sum annually, to form a nucleus to an endowment fund. In 1864 the 
Home became so crow-ded with soldiers' orphans that a larger building became 
an absolute necessity. A subscription book was opened and application made to 
the Legislature for an appropriation. The State promised $2,500 provided 
double that sum could be raised by subscription. At once four of the trustees, 
Messrs. G. M. Hollenback, W. S. Ross, Wilham C. Gildersleeve and V. L. Max- 
well, subscribed $1,000 each. Others gave $500 each and many added smaller 
sums, thus securing the State appropriation and making it safe to commence 
building. The lot was offered at a very low price by Mr. Charles Parrish and 
Dr. E. R. Mayer, and the latter added as a gift an adjoining back lot for a garden. 
The building, a large brick edifice with ample grounds, on South Franklin vStreet, 
was completed and occupied in the autumn of 1866. 

There was so much in the thought of those responsible for the Home as 
to obligations due the families of absent soliders that its work in the first years 
of existence was confined almost exclusively to caring for those made orphans by 
the war. In fact, the institution was most frequently referred to in its early 
life as the "Soldiers Orphanage." It was this phase of its ministrations that 
actuated the new building, dedicated in 1866, which is still the main structure 
of the institution. It was not long, however, before Pennsylvania itself adopted 
measures looking to homes of its own which would provide for these orphans and 
four such institutions were projected in as many sections of the state. Fore- 
seeing that eventually revenues from the state for the care of those then in charge 

Alexander Farnham ,Calvin Wadhams, R. C. Shoemaker, A. H. Winton, H. W. Palmer, H. B. Payne, Jerome G. Miller, 
C. D. Fobter. D. C. Harrington, George Loveland and a number of gentlemen not members of the profession. 

On April 15, 1867, a meeting of the members of the bar was held endorsing Mr. McClintock for the position in 
laudatory terms. 

To these earnest solicitations of his friend? Mr. McClintock replied as follows: 

Wilkes-Barre, April 24, 1867. 

Gentlemen: Your communication of the 15th inst., informing me of the proceedings of a meeting of the bar of 
Luzerne County held on the 8th inst., was duly received. I have given careful consideration to the reasons so kindly 
urged to induce me to permit the use of my name for the position of additional law judge for our several courts, under 
the act recently passed. I did not suppose that anything could be urged to induce me to hesitate in answering such a 
suggestion, but your strong appeal, and the appeal made to me from my fellow citizens, without distinction of party, 
have forced upon me the consideration of whether my duty should over-rule my inclination, and have, I confess greatly 
embarrassed me. I would like to oblige my friends, and am deeply sensible of the compliment they have paid me; 
but if. before receiving such expressions of confidence in my fitness for the position, I distrusted my ability to discharge 
the duties thereof with acceptance, I certainly am now convinced that I could not fulfill the expectations which it is 
evident my brethren of the bar and my fellow citizens entertain of my qualifications for the office. The standard which, 
in your kind appreciation of my qualifications, you esteem me fitted to fill is so high that I cannot undertake even to 
try to come up to it. I am averse to public life — the result, probably, of too exclusive attention to the calls of my 
profession. I greatly prefer the bar to the bench, and cannot bring myself to the point of consenting to the use of my 
name for the position of judge Another consideration has its influence in bringing me to this conclusion. I have been 
counsel for many years for interests that embrace a large portion of the business and property of our county. Aly 
relations to those interests have been so confidential and intimate that I could not, on the bench, feel free to sit in 
ca-es where those interests were involved, even though they might arise after my relations as counsel to such interests 
had ceased, and I could not, therefore, dispose of very much of what must, in the next few years, make up the greater 
part of the business of our courts. 

With every disposition to oblige my friends, and with deep sense of their kindness in the expression of their par- 
tiality to me for the position of additional law judge, I must decline, decidedly and absolutely, the use of my name for 
the office. I cannot consent to accept the position. Very truly, your friend, 

Andrew T. McClintock. 

This refusal was a sore disappointment to the legal fraternity and to all people who recognized Mr. McClintock's 
ability, for they knew that one of the brightest legal minds in the Commonwealth had, unfortunately for the bench, 
determined to stay in the ranks of private practitioners. 

When Ciovernor Hartranft appointed, in 1877, the committee to revise the constitution of the State, he included 
in the committee the most eminent legal minds in the State, justices of the Supreme Court, judges well known in the 
lower courts and Senators. Mr. McClintock was named as a Member of the committee and participated actively in 
the important councils that followed. 

In 1870 the degree of LL. D. was conferred upon him by Princeton College. 

Mr. McClintock's practice embraced multitudinous interests of grave moment and he conducted, while in active 
practice, the most responsible cases on the trial lists of our courts. He was counsel for the Delaware and Lackawanna 
& We-tern, the Pennsylvania, the Delaware & Hudson and other railroad and coil companies. 

.•\t the time of his death he was president of the board of directors of the Wilkes-Barre City Hospital and of the 
Wvoming Historical and Geological Society, a director of the Home for Friendless Children, of the Wyoming National 
Bank, president of the Luzerne County Bible Society, president of the Hollenback Cemetery Association and president 
(J the Wilkes-Barre Law and Library Association. He was a member and elder of the First Presbyterian Church and 
has been chosen a number of times as delegate to the General Assembly of that denomination. 

Air. McClintock was married May 1 1, 1841, to Augusta, daughter of Jacob Cist, of Wilkes-Barre. Five children 
were the issue of this marriage, three of whom, with the widow survived him. 


of the local Home would no longer be forthcoming and that it would then be 
dependent upon its own resources for support, its trustees in 1S67 took steps 
to endow the Home in order that its future might be assured. Under an impetus 
of gifts of $5,000 each from William C. Gildersleeve and Judge William S. Ross, 
an endowment fund of approximately S20,000 was shortly created. Invested in 
securities created in a period of inflation immediately following the war, the value 
of this fund was greatly impaired by losses but was to be restored in large measure 
by a further gift from Mr. Gildersleeve of $5,000, mentioned as a bequest in 
his will. 

In the early seventies, the withdrawal of the orphans of veterans began, 
when the Soldiers Orphans Institution of the state opened its doors at Harford, 
Susquehanna County. From that time forth, the Home has adhered to the 
original mission of its founding and its splendid work in connection with the care 
and schooling of local orphans in general has attracted wide attention at home 
and abroad. 

Generous gifts in more recent years to particular needs of the institution 
include a bequest in the will of Isaac S. Osterhout of a fund, the income from 
which is to provide a Fourth of July entertainment for the children; the gift 
of a fund by Mrs. William H. Conyngham endowing an annual Christmas treat 
for inmates, and the erection of a modern annex to the original building, the gift 
of Mrs. Allan H. Dickson. To the income from these and other gifts and be- 
quests which have been forthcoming from time to time and the proceeds of an 
annual "Donation Day" in October, the Home has conducted its work and lived 
within its income under the prudent management of its boards. 

Upon the material prosperity of the community, the war had but slight 
effect. In spite of furnishing more than its full quota of troops to state and nation, 
its population kept up the full normal of increase. 

Coal was a commodity which, as in case of the World War, found itself 
in steady demand. The full effect of inflation of the currency system of the 
country, resulting in varying degrees of premium on gold at the expense of other 
commodities, was not felt until after years. Hence, it is not surprising that new 
banks were to come forward with assets not alone intended to facilitate local 
business but for the purpose of assisting the nation in immense financial under- 
takings of the time. The first of these, and the only addition to the organized 
banking system of the community since the foundation of the Wyoming Bank, 
was the First National, which secured the thirteenth charter from the government 
under the then new and untried national banking act. It was organized April 24, 
1863, and chartered July 21st following. Its capital at the beginning was $51,500. 
James McLean was elected its first president, Thomas Wilson being named the 
first cashier. The bank was opened for business August 3, 1863, since which time 
it had been known and esteemed as one of the solid financial institutions of North- 
eastern Pennsylvania. The existence of the Second National, of which a sketch 
has been given in a previous Chapter, began only a few months later, it being 
Chartered September 19, 1863. 

These banks were to care for the financial needs of the community as well 
as take their part in such national financing as could reasonably be expected of 
them for a period of nearly fifteen years thereafter before additional banks 
were established. 


While in no wise attributable to any phase of war, it so happened that two 
of the greatest floods the community has known were to wreck their vengence 
during the war period. One, by far the less destructive coincided almost exactly 
with the outbreak of the conflict. The other, known as the "Great Flood" or, 
upon occasion, as the "St. Patrick's Flood" followed as the hostile armies were 

The first great overflowing of the Susquehanna of which there is any local 
record occurred in 1784. The water was so high as to injure ammunition in 
Fort Wyoming on the public common. A horse was also drowned in the settle- 
ment at the same time. The next was the great "pumpkin" flood of 1786. Both 
of these have received previous mention. There were other floods of greater or 
lesser magnitude in 1807, 1809, 1831, 1833, 1841, 1842, 1843 and 1846. The last 
occurred in the Spring, the water standing three and a half feet deep on the 
river bank in Wilkes-Barre There was another in July, 1850, which extended 
to all portions of the country round about, preventing mails from reaching 
Wilkes-Barre for several days. In the following September the water was so 
high as to cover the flats between Wilkes-Barre and Kingston, and there was no 
communication between the two places except by means of boats. 

The flood of 1861 appears to have escaped lengthy mention in local pub- 
lications, due largely to the fact that prospects of civil conflict proved a topic of 
major consideration. No definite marks of the stage of water reached by the 
river on February 12th and 13th, 1861, when at its crest, seem to have been 
recorded. But that it was "higher than at any time in fifty years" sums up the 
unanimous verdict of editors who mentioned it. Like others before and since, 
the freshet of this Spring was made doubly destructive by ice gorges. The river 
had been frozen without intermission from late December until a warm rain 
started the ice. Above Wilkes-Barre a huge ice dam formed and the w^ater, 
retarded in its natural course, cut a new channel for itself through the Kingston 
flats, marked by the fast disappearing "pond holes" of the present. A pier of 
the old covered bridge again suffered in this flood, making passage for teams and 
travellers unsafe, it being late in March before the bridge was open even to 
pedestrians. The unsurfaced road from the western end of the bridge to Kingston 
was entirely washed away and practically all of the flats were so covered with 
huge ice cakes, trees and other debris left by the ebbing tide that it was weeks 
before a new road could be opened. On the Wilkes-Barre side, the gas plant was 
badly damaged and the community went without its customary gas lights for 
two dreary nights. Cellars of River Street were filled to the brim for the first 
time within the memory of the generation of that day. 

But the damage done in 1861 was comparable in small degree with what 
was to follow in the vSpring of 1865. An Indian tradition that a "Susquehanna 
Flood comes only once in every fourteen years" was rudely shattered by the 
unexpected deluge of the latter year. An unusually severe winter, lasting well 
into March, set the stage for the highest flood ever recorded in the Susquehanna 
basin. Warm rains of the 12th started the ice, which jammed against piers of 
the ]Market -Street bridge March 15th brought a torrential rainfall with un- 
usually high temperature On St. Patrick's Day, March 17th, the rapidly 
rising stream left its banks and began its work of destruction. In the meantime, 
the river had practically cleared itself of ice but the water kept rising until 
about 3 P. M. of Saturday, March 18th, when the entire Wyoming Valley, 


from mountain to mountain, was an inland sea with only a few well favored 
points of the lowland protruding. The Luzerne Union of March 22nd records 
the following impressions of its editor: 

"The Susquehanna river has, during the past three months, presented unusual phenomena 
in this vicinity. From about the 20th of December, during a period of about eighty five days, 
the river has been ice-bound The long continued cold weather caused ice of unusual thickness 
and solidity, and a great ice field continued to remain some time after the usual period of breaking 
up. About ten days ago, a slight thaw and rain began to disturb the surface, in due time, the 
whole body was afloat and moving. The movement was of short duration, as the pressure and 
glut were too excessive for the narrow limits of the old channel, and a dam of immens:? strength 
was formed by the sharp elbows and island just below, and by the four piers of the Wilkes-Barre 
bridge, extending several miles above the bridge. That dam jeopardized the bridge, the town, 
the gas works, the canal and the 
Kingston flats. The water and ice 
accumulating from above, bore 
down against the mass like an aval- 
anche, but the resistance was too 
great, and the large fragments of 
ice were pulverized and crushed 
somewhat, as infantry dashing 
against impregnable breastworks 
This avalanche and this resistance 
were again and again repeated, un- 
til the threatening mass rose to the 
floor of the bridge. Of course, 
there was little room for water, and 
there was none — the ice being piled 
and pressed to the bottom. Such 
a scene is said to have occurred 
about the year 1786, but nothing 
like it since then. A good oppor- 
tunity was now presented for an 
Arctic exploration, with dogs and 
sledges, to discover 'a southwest 
passage,' and it was shrewdly sug- 
gested to the bridge Company to 
send for Gen. Butler to blow up 
the dam; but this was declined, 
from apprehensions that he would 
probably seize the toll house and all 
the Banks, as well as all the rafts 
passing down the river. 

"In the meantime, the river 
was forced to make a new channel 
and the high embankment near 
Forty Fort, thrown up some years 
ago to prevent the overflow of the 
'flats, gave way, thereby forming 
a deep and rapid current down 
through the low grounds, about 
eighty rods north of the bridge. It 
was in this channel that Mr. Rice's 
dam was lost. Its depth and width. 

Kingston Flats after the "Great Flood," 1865 

and the damages caused thereby to the Wilkes-Barre and Kingston road, and the flats above and 
below, cannot be estimated until after the water has subsided. It is probable that a section 
across said channel will have to be bridged. 

"Things remained in this condition several days. A warm rain and thaw continued to 
swell the volume of water and greatly reduce the body of ice, until Wednesday, the 15th inst., 
when things took several whimsical, capricious turns, and at night subsided as before. Everybody 
went to bed promising himself a great entertainment next morning at seeing the great i::e dam 
move off, to be followed by the Tunkhannock bridge and other things. But lo! in the morning 
the ice was all gone, as if Gen. Butler had stolen it away in the night, and the Tunkhannock bridge 
was still standing on its piers. It was a great disappointment. But it was very agreeable to see 
the famihar and friendly face of our old river once more swelling and rolling and boiling under the 
morning sun, with all his wonted freshness and buoyancy, again awarding some pleasant suggest- 
ions of bathing and angling, of eel-wares and of wild ducks and cranes flying up the river, and 
raftmen floating down. What a glorious time for shad to come up to see us, if it were not for those 
miserable dams! 

"Thus much as to the ice freshet! The river continued to surge and overflow, and swell, 
until 2>}4 o'clock P. M., on Saturday, 18th, March. At this tim^e the town of Wilkes-Barre was 
everywhere inundated. — From dark of the day previous everybody had been removing things 
from their cellars and first floors, and stock from their stables, and hundreds were crying from their 


upper windows for help. The droves of cattle and crowds of people moving to higher ground; 
the Ijoats passing along through the principal thoroughfares; the water rushing through the bridge, 
and a thousand other circumstances, seen on every hand, presented a scene such as Wilkes-Barre 
has never witnessed since the first stone was laid. The water was two feet higher than has ever 
been known Logs, trees, timber, lumber, some loose some in rafts of two to twenty thousand 
feet, fences, fragments of buildings, canal boats, skifTs, haystacks, whole barns, sheds, and even 
large, well-finished dwelling-houses, with chimneys all in order, came rushing down the roaring 
torrent at the rate of S miles an hour. For three days the dark, muddy waters overflowed the 
banks, which were covered with wrecks of every description. At Skinner's Eddy, in Wyoming 
County, 19 buildings, mostly dwellings, were swept away. Two large stacks of lumber, contain- 
ing 40 and 50 thousand feet, were carried off, and a thousand bushels of corn were set afloat." 

Once again the Wilkes-Barre bridge was to suffer. This time an entire 
span, the second from the eastern shore, was moved some six feet on its piers 
but fortunately did not topple into the river. Wesley Johnson, in an account 
penned years afterward, states that he was present when the span was damaged, 
a huge tree, acting as a battering ram, being the chief cause of trouble. In order 
that permanent and indisputable evidence of the height of the "Great Flood" 
might survive, the following minute was entered on the court docket of Luzerne 
County of August 29, 1865: 

"Wilkesbarre, 26th August, 1865, 
Hon. John N. Conyngham, President Judge of Luzerne County. 

"From levels taken from explorations for rail route from the Lehigh Valley to this Valley 
by C. F. Mercur, Esq., I find the elevations above tide water of the door-sills of the 

Court House 543. 102 feet 

"Low water in the Susquehanna River 512.9 " 

"High water in the Susquehanna ISth March, 1865 537.6 " 

"Door-sill of the Court-house (on Public vSquare) above the 

high water of 18th March, 1865 5.5 

"Rise of water in the flood of 17th and ISth March 1865, 

at Wilkesbarre 24.7 

"And the general opinion is that the flood of 1865 was four feet higher than the pumpkin 
flood of October, A. D. 1786. 

"Respectfully submitted, 

"Martin Coryell." 

The "Great Flood" of 1865 has been a fertile source of narrative and rem- 

iniscence. Judge Garrick M. Harding* 
community contributed accounts of 
their experiences through columns of the 
local press. Judge Harding recalls, in the 
Record of the Times, that the Wyoming 
Valley Hotel was then in process of 
building and that on the way down River 
vStreet in a boat to assist in removing the 
Fuller family from the present home 

*HoN. Garrick Mallery Harding was born in Luz- 
erne County. July 12, 1827. died Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 
May !9, 1904. He was a son of Isaac and Nancy (Harding) 
Harding (of John, Thomas, Captain Stephen, Stephen 
of R. I., 1669) Judge Harding, graduated A. B., Dickinson 
College, Pennsylvania. 1848; studied law under Henry M. 
Fuller. E=q., admitted to practice Luzerne County, 18,56; 
elected District Attorney, 1858. filling that office until the 
end of his term, 186,S, when he entered into law partnership 
with Hon. Henry W Palmer. He was appointed. 1870, by 
Governor Geary, President Judge of the Eleventh Judicial 
District to succeed Hon. John Nesbitt Conyngham. LL. D . 
deceased. In the Fall of that year he was elected for the 
full term He served until 1879, when he resigned and re- 
turned to the practice of his profession. His interest in 
hi-toncal studies was keen, discriminating and accurate. 
He was the