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A Comparison of Cost, 34 

An Historic "Smithy," 63 

Band of 1847, 24 

Battalion Day, 13 

Boat Building 10 

Borough Officers in 1848 9 

"Bully Rums" and "Pine Knots" 16 

Coal Trade in 1849, 44 

Canal and Water Power 40 

Coal Digging at Sunbury 41 

Col. Samuel Hunter, 49 

Clubbing Eels, 19 

Distant View of Northumberland, 59 

Domestic People, 19 

Dr. Awl as an Acrobat, 16 

Election Returns of 1849 and 1852, 66 

Early Horse Racing, 15 

Early Hotels 23 

First Opera House, 16 

First School House Built in Sunbury 29 

Port News 10 

Former Chief Burgesses, 9 

Founding of Sunbury, 5 

Population in 1842, 7 

Flood of i86s 42 

Great Mass Meetings of Olden Times, 47 

Harrisburg and Pottsville Stage Line 45 

Hon. S. P. Wolverton's Residence 46 

How Sunbury People Lived 21 

Jordan's Orchard, 18 

List of Jurors, 43 

Magazine at Fort Augusta, 43 

Mary M. Packer Hospital, 65 

Odd Fellows' Orphanage, 58 

Public Square in 1844, 25 

Public Schools in Sunbury in 1840 28 

Rafting Season, 20 

Residence of Ebenezer Greenough, ; 47 

"Shikellimy ; Oneida Chief of Old Shamokin," 52 

"Seventy Years Ago," 54 

Stole Because He Couldn't Help It, 55 

Sunbury, 61 

Sunbury's First Railroad, 10 

Sunbury Current Prices 20 

Stage and Packet Lines, 11 

The Passing of the Early Business Men, 7 

The Vote in 1844, 8 

Tax Levy of 1848, 9 

The Early Coal Business, 9 

The Stove of Our Grandmothers, 27 

The House in Fort Augusta 27 

The "Echo" Song, 17 

The Old Picnic Ground, 18 

The Fishermen's Paradise, 18 

The Big Swamp, 18 

The Old Cannon 36 

The Old Market House, 19 

Three Days to Philadelphia, 13 

Time Table, 12 

The Old Stage Coach 35 

Worthies of a Century Ago 50 

When the Railroads Reached Sunbury, 13 

Where the Boys Skated 17 



The design of this pamphlet is to give a few of the reminis- 
cences of Sunbury from former years. Many of the facts herein 
recorded may seem tedious to the general reader, and yet such 
facts have a local interest and for that reason have been in- 

In accordance with the taste of the age this small book is 
embellished with several engravings, which are from drawings 
made seventy years ago, and the older citizens will recognize 
them as true to life. 

That errors may perhaps have crept into it is to be expected, 
but care has been taken to make it accurate as well as com- 


Reminiscences of Sunbury. 

Eighty years ago the writer of these reminiscences was born 
in Sunbury, Pa. Sunbury, in its early days, was quite a 
primitive looking town, with quiet streets and whitewashed 
fences. The northern limit of the town was Race street, the 
southern Spruce, and on the eastern Spring Run. In the year 
1840 there were 215 houses in the town, built mostly of log 
and frame, scattered between Race street on the north and 
Spring Run on the east. There were 3 houses on Spruce street, 
16 on Walnut, 1 1 on Penn, 34 on Chestnut, 3 1 on south side of 
Market, 35 on the north side of Market, 30 on Arch, 6 on Race, 
20 on Front, 2 on Second, 6 on Third and 30 on Fourth. 

Sunbury, though not an ancient town, dates its origin a few 
years previous to the Revolution, which wrested the Province 
of Pennsylvania from the hand of the proprietors, the descend- 
ants of Wm. Penn, and British rule. The town of Sunbury 
was surveyed and located by John Lukens, Surveyor General, 
and his assistant, Wm. McClay, in pursuance of an order of 
Council, by direction of the Governor of the Province, dated 
June 16, 1772. Tlie manor of Pomfret, in which Sunbury is 
located, is an English institution, and according to the survey 
contains 4,766 acres of land, &c. The northern line, running 
eastward, commences at the river, about two-thirds of the way 
above the lower point of Shamokin Island, and runs southward 
to nearly opposite the point of the Island, thence about ten de- 
grees north of east; thence southward, and from thence west- 
ward to the river, at the head of the two small islands below 
the Shamokin Falls. In this survey, the point of Shamokin Is- 
land extends down, nearly opposite the southern shore of the 


West Brand! , show inj; that much of the island has been washed 
away by floods subsequent to that time. 

The following is the order referred to, by which it appears 
Sunbur)' was laid out as the county town of Northumberland 
County, which county then embraced witliin its boundaries, 
nearly one-fifth of the State : 

"At a meeting at the Governor's on Tuesday the i6th day, 
of June, 1772, present, the (jovernor, the Secretary Mr. Tilgh- 
man, the Receiver General Mr. Physick, the Surveyor General 
Mr. Lukens. 

Ordered that the Surveyor General with all convenient speed 
repair to Fort Augusta on the Susquehanna, and with the as- 
sistance of William McClay, lay out a town for the County of 
Northumberland, to be called by the name of Sunbury, at the 
most commodious place between the fork and the Shamokin 
creek, into three hundred lots to be accommodated with streets, 
lanes and alleys, and a commodious square in the most conve- 
nient place for public buildings. The two main streets to be 
eighty feet wide, the others sixty, and the lanes and alleys 
twenty feet. The lots to be sixty feet wide in front and two 
hundred and thirty feet deep if the ground and situation will 
conveniently allow that depth. And it is further ordered, that 
a space of at least one hundred and tw enty feet be left between 
the town line and the bank of the river. Every other lot ad- 
joining the Square and fifty commodious lots besides to be re- 
served for the Proprietaries. After laying (jut the tow^n, the 
Surveyor General, while he is there, and Mr. McClay, after the 
Surveyor leaves the place, may receive applications and make 
entries to be returned and recorded in the Secretary's office, 
from any person or persons inclinable to settle and build in the 
town, particularly tradesmen and such as are of ability to im- 
prove. No person to be allowed to take more than one lot 
without the Governor's special license. And upon making the 
application, the party applying shall receive a ticket in the form 
following : 

"The. . . .day of ^77 ■ ■ , A. B. applies for and is allowed 

to take up lot No in the town of Sunbury, for which he is 


to take out a patent within six months from the time of appli- 
cation, otherwise the application to be void, and the lot free for 
any other applier." A clause to be contained in the patent, 
that if the said A. B., his heirs or assigns, do not, within three 
years from the time of application, build and erect on the said 
lot, a dwelling house of twenty feet square at least, with a 
brick or stone chimney, the patent to be void. The lot to be 
forfeited to the proprietaries and they at full and absolute liberty 
without re-entry to grant, and dispose of it to any other person 
or persons whatsoever. The annual ground rent, for the said 
lot to be seven shillings sterling. 

N. B. — The rent of the unreserved lots adjoining the square 
to be ten shillings sterling. A true copy. 

Jas. TlLGHMAN, Sec'y of the Land Office. 
In testimony that the above is a copy of the original on file in 

the Surveyor General's Office, I have hereto set my hand 

and the seal of the said office, at Harrisburg, the 24th day of 

June, 1854. 
[SEAL] For J. Porter Brawley, S. G. 

Tho. J. Rehrer." 

At that time, Broadway, at Market or Shamokin street, was 
208 feet wide. At Chestnut street 190 feet, and at Walnut 
street 176 feet. Market Square is 200 feet wide and 740 feet 

Mr. McClay, above referred to, was one of the first residents 
of Sunbury, and occupied a log house where the late John G. 
Fry resided. 


The population was 1,108 in 1842. At that time there was 
not a house in sight north of Race street or south of Spruce, or 
east of the "Gut" (Spring Run). 

In an examination of an early business directory I find sev- 
enty of the business people of Sunbury registered. The list 
did not include all the business people, but of those registered 
there remain but six alive to-day, namely — William T. Grant, 


William M. Rockefeller, John Yount^man, Jared C. Irwin, 
Jaines P. Hileman, and William H. Bright. Those remaining 
are fairly well and enjoy a jaunt around the town to view the 
new buildings that are going up on every street. Improve- 
ments are to be met everywhere, business arrangements and 
enterprise are to be found all over. 

Time has wrought many changes, not only in a business 
way but in social affairs. For instance, in those days, all the 
people were neighbors, all knew each other. They even 
knew the owner of the cows and dogs that roamed the streets; 
now we do not recognize one out of fifty people we meet. 


At the election for President in 1844 there were one hundred 
and ten votes cast for James K. Polk, the Democratic Presi- 
dent, and one hundred for Henry Clay, the Whig candidate. 

The annexed election table shows the vote in detail of the 
county : 

POLK. Clay. 

Sunbury no 100 

Augusta 299 161 

Northumberland 133 68 

Point 105 52 

Milton 117 163 

Chillisquaque 161 117 

Turbut 79 'Oi 

Lewis 200 73 

Delaware 224 164 

Shamokin 268 1 1 1 

Rush 164 65 

Coal 103 28 

Jackson 191 ^7 

Little Mahanoy 26 25 

Upper Mahanoy " 207 13 

Lower Mahanoy 48 218 

Total 2445 1 54<3 



The local government of the borough of Sunbury for the year 
1848 was constituted as follows : 
Frederick Lazarus, Chief Burgess. 

George Zimmerman and George Rohrbach, Supervisors. 
Gideon Yorks and Benjamin Krohn, Overseers of tlie Poor. 
George Bright, School Treasurer. 

TAX LEVY OF 1848. 

To provide for the ordinary expenses of the borough the fol- 
lowing taxes were levied for the year 1848 : 

For streets and alleys ;>228.89 1-2 

For schools 700.57 1-2 

For relief of tlie poor 365. 16 

Total expenditure for the year $1294.63 

Edward G. Markle and Peter Masser audited the above ac- 
count and found a balance due the borough of $1.30, which 
munificent sum was allowed the auditors for their service. 


The following gentlemen served as Chief Burgess from 1830 
to 1900: 

Alexander Jordan, William McCarty, Charles G. Donnel, 
Frederick Lazarus, John H. Purdy, Samuel J. Packer, George 
Weiser, Jacob Painter, Lewis Dewart, John B. Packer, J. H. 
Zimmerman, William L. Dewart, George B. Youngman, Peter 
B. Masser, C. J. Bruner, Samuel J. Young, William M. Rock- 
efeller, E. Y. Bright, Solomon Boyer, J. W. Bucher, P. M. 
Shindel, Darriel Heim, P. H. Moore, S. P. Malick, John Bourne, 
Geo. M. Renn, A. N. Brice, Geo. B. Cadwallader. 

Several of the above named served from two to three terms. 


The principal business of the town was in the mercantile 
line and the coal business. The coal business gave many peo- 
ple employment, not only on the wharves, but in the trans- 


portation of the coal by canal boats to the cities of Philadel- 
phia, Baltimore, and all intermediate points along the canals. 
The coal business was in its infancy those days. 

In a weekly report before me 1 find that for the week ending 
October 2nd, 1849, there were six hundred and fifty tons of 
coal arrived from the Shamokin region for Sunbury for ship- 
ment by canal to other points. 

in regard to the price of coal, I copy from the Sunbury Ad- 
vocate of the issue of October 22, 1836, the following : "We 
are much pleased to announce the arrival hereon Saturday last 
of two cars on the Sunbury Railroad laden with coal from the 
Shamokin coal mines, and was purchased by Chas. G. Donnel 
and George Prince at S3- 50 per ton. The coals were of the 
best quality." 


The coal business stimulated boat building for the transpor- 
tation of the same on the canals. Charles Gussler estab- 
lished a boat yard on the river bank south of Spiuce street 
and continued the business for several years. Samuel Clem- 
ent and Samuel Snyder also engaged in the business. Ira T. 
Clement built several steamboats on the river bank between 
Race and Arch streets. He named one the "Shad Fly," and 
another the "Susquehanna." He also built a boat he named 
"Sunbury," used as a ferry boat, which made hourly trips to 
and from Snyder county to the foot of Market street. 

A notice of the arrival of a canal boat, from the Sunbury Ad- 
vocate : "Port of Sunbury — Entered our basin, returning from 
Philadelphia on the 3rd of April, 1835, the canal boat Augusta, 
the property of George P. Buyers, laden with merchandise, 
Capt. George Lorwick in command." 


The first track of Sunbury and Shamokin railroad consisted 

of wooden ties laid upon the ground at intervals of several feet; 

on these oak stringers were fastened with wooden wedges, and 

the stringers were covered with strap iron about two and a 


half inches wide and about one inch thick. Horse-power was 
first used. Engines were too heavy and the result was the 
trains were frequently off the track, causing delays, and re- 
sulted in the substitution of horses again. The Fegley Broth- 
ers operated the road for about ten years by horse-power. 
They made the round trip from Shamokin in two days, four 
and five horses hauling a train of ten dumps ; the cars holding 
about four to five tons of coal each. 

The passenger station was located on Third street where the 
Penna. freight house stands, at the crossing. The water tank, 
turn table and building where the coaches were housed was 
just in the rear of the location of the present Reading R. R. 
depot. Bill Bright can locate the site of the turn table ex- 

About the year 1853 the track between Sunbury and Sha- 
mokin was relaid with iron rails. Several new locomotives 
known as the "Longenecker," "Lancaster," "Green Ridge," 
and "Carbon Run," were in use at that time. A. R. Fiske 
was the Superintendent. 


The facilities for travel and transportation at that time were 
limited. The stage coach and packet boat were the modes in 
use. The stage left daily from Sunbury by the way of the 
turnpike over the town hill to Pottsville and Philadelphia, it 
carried the mail and was drawn by a team of four horses. Re- 
lays of horses were provided at different stations along the 
road for affording relief from time to time. They made about 
five miles an hour and seated from five to six persons. The 
baggage was carried in a boot on the rear of the coach. The 
fare was about a fip (6 14 cts.) a mile. Each person was 
allowed fifty lbs. of baggage ; one hundred and fifty lbs. was 
considered equal to one passenger. 

Northumberland was headquarters for the line of stages and 
packet boats. The coach from Philadelphia generally arrived 
at the post office here about midnight. The driver would blow 
his horn and wait until the mail was changed. The post ofiice 


at that time was located in the building fronting the Park on 
Market street in the residence of the late S. J. Packer. His 
mother, Mrs. Packer, was postmaster. The mail then was 
very light. A table in the office with a drawer in it contained 
all the mail. There were no envelopes at that time, neither 
were there any stamps. The letter sheet was folded up and 
sealed with sealing wax. The postage was paid at the office 
at the rate of six cents for 30 miles or under. 

The packet boats were provided with all the necessary con- 
veniences for passenger service, and one could travel in 
comfort with safety and speed. A team of four horses was 
used and was kept on a trot on the towpath of the canal. A 
relay of horses arranged before-hand were provided at certain 
stations for a change. 

The packet boat became a formidable competitor of the stage 
coach during the season of navigation. It was continued upon 
the canals in this part of the State until the opening of the 





On and after November ist, 1849, fit? passenger trains will 
run between Philadelphia and Pottsville as follows : 

Leave Philadelphia at 8 1-2 A. M., daily except Sundays. 

Arrives at Reading at 11. 18. 

Arrives at Pottsville at 12.50. 

Leaves Pottsville at 8 1-2 A. M. daily except Sundays. 

Arrives at Reading at 10. 

Arrives at Philadelphia at 12.50. 

Fares — Pottsville and Philadelphia $3.50 and *S3.00. Potts- 
ville and Reading $1.40 and ^1.20 ; Reading and Philadelphia 
$2.25 and $1.90. 

Passengers cannot enter the cars unless provided with 

There will be no afternoon train. 

NOTICE— Fifty pounds of baggage will be allowed to each 


passenger in these lines ; and passengers are expressly pro- 
hibited from taking anything as baggage but their apparel, 
which will be the risk of the owner. 
By order of the Board of Managers. 

S. BRADFORD, Secretary. 
November 24, 1849. 


The Sunbury and Shamokin R. R. was opened in 1836 ; the 
P. & E. in 1856 ; Northern Central in 1858 ; the Sunbury and 
Lewistown in 1871 ; Sunbury and Hazleton in 1869, and the 
Philadelphia and Reading in 1883. 


in order to show the time consumed to transact business in 
Philadelphia in 1836 1 copy the following entry from the jail 
record of Geo. W. Kiehl, Sheriff of Northumberland County : 

The Commonwealth 


John Batcher. 

Nov. 12, 1836, Defendant tried and 

found guilty and sentenced to six 

years imprisonment in the Eastern 

^ Penitentiary. 

Nov. 21, 1836, started to Philadelphia. 

Arrived at Philadelphia Nov. 24. 
(Signed) David Rockefeller, 

Deputy Sheriff. 


Sunbury to-day presents a wide contrast with the town 
years ago, not only in appearance, but in the general make-up 
of the people and their diversions. Sunbury years ago had a 
great event which occurred yearly — it was Battalion Day. 
The Sunbury battalion was composed of the militia of the ad- 
joining townships. On the appointed day the companies com- 
posing the battalion would arrive in Sunbury and were formed 
in line by the proper officers on Market street, adjoining the 
public square, and awaited the arrival of Maj. Gen. Wm. H. 
Kase, General of the 8th Division P. V., and staff. In the 


meantime the Adjutant had the battalion formed and ready for 
the command. The General and staff arrived and gave the 
command to march. They marched out Market street to the 
drill grounds, in a field this side of Conrad's Hill. The drum 
corps were old-timers, and never failed to play that old fami- 
liar melodv, "The Girl 1 Left Behind Me." On one occasion 
the drum corps was short a fifer. There was a great whist- 
ler in town who was considered the greatest in that line this 
side of Penn's Creek, and he agreed to whistle, and he did in 
his ludicrous and happy way he had, while the crowd laughed 
at the idea. He never smiled but kept up the old tune, and 
winked to the drummers and they took the hint, and thrashed 
those drums to beat the band. 

During the review and evolutions on the drill ground, nearly 
the whole population was present. The soldiers carried canes 
and umbrellas in lieu of guns. Their parade through the 
streets created much merriment and brought forth many funny 
remarks, but all was right on battalion day. After the parade 
was dismissed the streets were crowded with people. 
General Orders. 

Rushtown, North 'd Co., Oct. 22, 1849. 

In accordance with the recommendation of Gov. Johnston, 
the Field and Staff officers of the Eighth Division will hereafter 
appear on parade in the undress frock coat and forage cap of 
the United States Army. 

Those officers who have already procured the full uniform 
are not included in this order. 

William H. Kase, 
Maj. Gen. 8th Div. P. V. 

A line of wagons and booths surrounded Market Square 
where spruce beer, cakes, ginger ale, oranges, lemonade, ice 
cream, and various other refreshments were served in great 
quantities. The hotels, shops and stores did a thriving busi- 

On battalion day the old personal difficulties were generally 
fought out. Each community had its own bully, and when 


they came together there was trouble, and often resulted in a 
fight, but the encounters in general were mere tests of strength 
and skill, not only the fists but the teeth and finger nails were 
brought into the fray. 

Dancing was a great pastime of the day. At the tavern of 
John Batcher, on Chestnut street, between Second and Front, 
and the Cross Keys tavern, in the stone house below the dam, 
one could always be accommodated with a straight four dance 
or a fight, or both if you felt so inclined. 

Old Simon Roush with his flying horse aggregation was 
always on hand to amuse the crowd. The old gentleman died 
in Snyder county at the age of 88 years. On the evening be- 
fore he died he had entertained the family with his old fiddle 
for two hours previous to retiring. 

Battalion day was a holiday for hundreds of people. They 
came from all sections. People living in adjoining townships, 
who had not seen old friends for a year or more, took the op- 
portunity to be present on these occasions. And many were 
the greetings of old friends. All had a pleasant time, and dis- 
persed to their homes feeling happy and better for their outing. 
The day was also beneficial in many other respects. 

There were games and all kinds of sport during the day. 
The game of long bullet was quite popular and considered good 
exercise. An iron ball weighing about twelve ounces was used. 
The ball was propelled by a jerk of the arm and made to bound 
along the surface of the ground. The player propelling the 
ball the longest distance won the game. This game was 
played on Spruce street from the corner of Front street to Third 
street. Spruce street was then known as the "Bullet Alley." 
There was also corner ball, town ball and hand ball. There 
were two hand ball alleys in town — one at the corner of Mar- 
ket and Center alley, and one in the old jail yard. 


There were many horse races in town in the early days. 
Horses from all the neighboring towns were brought here on 
those occasions. There were two courses, one on Front street, 
from the corner of Spruce street down to the two trees, or to 


the dam, as agreed on ; and the other course was from the cor- 
ner of Spruce and Third, down the lane to opposite the dam. 
The Northern Central R. R. now occupies the latter course. 


At an earl)' date a great rivalry existed between Sunbury 
and Northunberland among the younger classes, and the parties 
on either side were not slow to devise nicknames for the other. 
The people of Sunbur)- received the name "Bully Rums," 
(frogs) which lived in the marshy ground around the town. 
And the people of Northumberland were known as "Pine 
Knots." This feeling often found expression in trouble be- 
tween the boys and young men, and often resulted in fights, 
but the old-time collisions have abated under the intimacy 
brought about by the frequent meetings and associations with 
each other, and the close commercial relation by rail and other 
conveyances between the towns worked wonders. 


The diversions of Sunbury were few. There were but few- 
shows. The old court house was generally used for that pur- 
pose ; but in case it could not be procured the exhibition was 
lield in the dining rooms of the hotels. 

Along in the forties there was a circus advertised for Sun- 
bury. The circus in those days traveled on the road by 
wagons. Of course there was great excitement over the event. 
They arrived on time and pitched their canvass on the river 
bank, between Market and Chestnut streets. Before the can- 
vass was properly adjusted, the athletes of the show were 
having a rehearsal. The late Dr. R. H. Awl was present, and 
as he was known as an amateur acrobat, he was induced by 
friends to compete with the showmen in their acrobatic feats. 
The Doctor did so, and surpassed them in turning back sum- 
mersaults without the aid of spring-boards, which was required 
by the professionals in such feats. There are two living wit- 
nesses to the Doctor's exploit in town to-day, Wm. H. Bright 
and J. C. Irwin. 


On one occasion an amateur association of persons from a 
neighboring town posted a lot of bills in Sunbury advertising 
a vocal concert to be given in the court house on a certain date. 
At the appointed time the company arrived, and as the price 
of admission was low, there was a large audience present. 
Among the crowd were Dr. John W. Peal, Dr. R. H. Awl, 
William Dewart, W. I. Greenough, Francis Bucher, Chas. J. 
Bruner, and Jacob Youngman. They were all perched on the 
coal boxes behind the stoves, and ready for an opportunity for 
any sport, which they enjoyed. There was an echo song on 
the bill. After a part of the program had been rendered the 
echo song was announced by the conductor, who requested the 
audience to preserve perfect quiet in order to give effect to the 
echo. One of the ladies proceeded up the stairs to a room on 
the second story to repeat, or send back the echo. One of the 
ladies sang the song in great shape; and when the last word 
was uttered, which was "Lala-who," one could hear a needle 
drop, but instead of the echo, a loud familiar noise was heard 
by all in the house. In a moment the crowd perched on the 
coal boxes roared with laughter. The audience and even the 
singers joined in the ludicrous scene. After order was restored 
the manager of the show stated that only a part of the enter- 
tainment had been given, but as the audience was so well 
pleased, and the applause so spontaneous, he would give a re- 
turn date later on. After the audience had been dismissed, Al. 
Hunter, a driver on the raging canal, who was quite a singer, 
but more of a joker, was accused of the humiliating offense, 
but always denied the accusation. 


The old basin, located where the Reading passenger station 
is now, was a great place for the geese and ducks to congre- 
grate; also cows, hogs and stray horses, all came there to quench 
their thirst. It was also a good fishing pond, as there were 
plenty of catfish in it ; also logs, bogs and frogs, in the winter 
it was an ideal skating pond, and if a boy became dry he just 


kicked a hole in the ice and drank his fill out of the old goose 
pond ; but that was before these awful germs were invented. 

Between Second street and Center alley, fronting on Penn 
street, there was a half square of apple trees in full bearing of 
splendid fruit. It belonged to the late Judge Jordan and was 
called Jordan's orchard. 


in the year 1839 there was a dense growth of trees south of 
Walnut street and east of Spring Run, extending along Shamo- 
kin creek, quite up to the old town mill. Back of the mill is 
where the old and young held their picnics. At that time the 
brow of Conrad's Hill was covered with a thick growth of 
yellow pine, in which the boys carried on the rabbit trade. 


Shamokin creek at that time was the fisherman's paradise, 
as it contained the best kind of fish and plenty of them. One 
could stand on some elevated spot and see pike by the dozen 
lying below the surface of the water. All you needed was a 
fish pole and a brass wire loop to land them. There was also 
plenty of game in the woods, and in the river and creeks there 
were many geese and ducks and other water fowl. 


Up to the year 1850 there was a large swamp, about five 
hundred feet wide, extending from opposite Tliird street above 
Race up to the Gobin and Hunter farms, and terminated oppo- 
site Cold Spring woods. The P. & E. R. R. now occupies a 
portion of the ground, it had a dense growth of trees, grape 
vines, hazlenuts, bushes and briars. At certain seasons of the 
year it was covered partly with water, and certain species of 
snakes, frogs, etc., infested the place. It was also a haven 
for rabbits, quail and woodcock. 



In the early years, before the fish laws were enacted, the 
river, creek and tributaries, all had an abundance of fish of all 
kinds, and one could fish in any way he pleased — setting nets, 
fish basket, outline or seine at any time of the year, and fish 
never seemed scarce ; why, they even clubbed eels. The trap- 
pings for clubbing eels consisted of a club, a bag, and a torch 
to see by, as the work was done after dark. At certain stages 
of the water when the eels commenced running down in the 
fall, the torch was lighted and the fishermen proceeded to walk 
over and back on top of the dam, and while the eels would 
wriggle to get over the wet logs, the fellows with clubs 
would kill them before they could escape. It was a sight at 
night to see fifty or a hundred persons cross and recross the 
dam with their lighted torches. 

Now the State pays a lot of spies who sneak along the river 
and other streams, watching some fellow trying to hunt a 
square meal for his family and haul him up before some mag- 
istrate where he is fined and sent to jail if he fails to adjust 
the matter. 


Seventy years ago the people were very domestic. All had 
their own gardens in which they raised all their vegetables, 
made their candles, soap, applebutter, etc. Many had cows 
and made their own butter, cheese and smearcase. 

Our old mothers then were in a way considered competent 
to administer to the many wants of their children in the many 
ills and troubles they were subject to, and generally filled their 
prescriptions from the garden, from the remedies grown and 
cultivated, such as tansy, peppermint, sage, dandelion, cat- 
nip, etc. 


The old market house that stood on Market square, east of 
the court house, was a structure about 80 feet long and 25 feet 
wide, standing on brick pillars. It was a regular rendezvous 
for the boys, particularly on warm and rainy days. Games 
of all kinds took place there — corner ball, town ball, shooting 


marbles, pitching buttons, quarreling, and many a fight took 
place, besides chasing and throwing stones at the poor whip- 
porvvills as they flew through the streets. The bird is seldom 
seen through the day, but seeks its food by night, catching in- 
sects while on the wing, near the ground, in a zigzag manner. 

The old pump that stood near the court house and market 
house was quite a convenience and comfort for the crowd that 
hung around, as the water was of an excellent quality. 

There was a public weigh scales on the square, north of the 
market house, for the purpose of weighing hay and any other 
articles of heavy weight. 

Correctly weekly by Henry Masser. 

Wheat ^ 1 .00 

Rye 56 

Corn 50 

Oats 37 

Butter 14 

Eggs 9 

Pork 5 

Flaxseed $1.25 

Tallow 10 

Beeswax 25 

Flax 8 

Heckled Flax 10 

Dried Apples 50 

Dried Peaches $2.00 


In the spring, when the rise in the river was sufficient, the 
rafting season opened up, and business began to boom. Thou- 
sands of rafts floated down the river to port and good pilots 
were in demand. A board raft consisted of a collection of 
boards bound together with wooden withes, to serve as a sup- 
port on the water. There were timber rafts of large logs, 
fastened together with plank ; also arks, a rough plank boat, in 
which farm products were transported from the upper counties 


of the State. It was the general mode for the transportation 
of potatoes. They all had cabins on them in which the crews 
lived during their journey to port. In those days there was no 
transportation for passengers except the stage and packet 
boats, and as their rates for travel were very high, the raft- 
men generally walked home from Harrisburg and points below, 
and as a rule they came up on the other side of the river, 
which made business for the taverns along the road. 

The Ferry House, opposite Sunbury, done a fine business 
during the rafting season, and at that time there was a house 
across the river, just about where Clement station stands, a,t 
the end of the Reading R. R. bridge, and there was also a tav- 
ern below the West Branch bridge, built right up to the rocks, 
which was a great place for the raftmen to stop. 

There were many board and timber rafts purchased by 
parties here and brought to this side. The board rafts were 
washed and drawn and piled on the bank ten and fifteen feet 
high. The bank at that time was a regular board yard. The 
boys washed the boards for a levy (12 1-2 cents) a thousand 


The people of Sunbury sixty years ago were just as hearty 
and vigorous as they are to-day, but they did not appear to 
have the push and enterprise they have now, neither were 
they as fashionably dressed, although they were dressed ac- 
cording to custom and had just as good clothing, but the mod- 
ern style of cutting and inaking of garments, for both sexes to- 
day, are a revelation, in fact a revolution, from former years. 
The dress and general make-up of old and young now days 
creates a decided difference in the appearance of both for the 

In the early days the boys and girls had not the opportunity 
to earn money that they have to-day ; in fact there was very 
little employment for girls, and a boy could not earn more than 
twenty-five cents a day, and had to work twelve hours. A 
levy (12 1-2 cents) was the regular day's wages for boys, and 
fifty cents was the regular wages for men at labor. 

But the boys had certain advantages over the boysof to-day. 


They could learn almost any trade, as the town had all kinds 
of mechanics and manufactured nearly everything needed ; 
furniture of all kinds, wagons of every description, boots and 
shoes, plows, chairs, and even spinning wheels. In case a boy 
wished to learn a trade, he was bound out as an apprentice to 
the party that was manufacturing the line of business he 
wished to learn, from three to four years, as agreed on. He 
was considered as one of the family and to obey his master in 
all respects ; to have his board, clothing, washing and mend- 
ing, and from six to nine months' schooling, one half of the 
schooling during the last year, and after he had served his full 
time and worked diligently he was given his freedom and. two 
suits of clothes, one to be entirely new, and in addition $50 
or $40 and a set of tools to ply his trade with. 

Sixty years ago the streets of Sunbury were green with 
grass upon which cows, hogs, ducks and geese pastured at will. 
There were very few pavements and no crossings, the streets 
at night were very dark, as there was no light, only what 
shone through the windows of residences and business places. 
Tallow candles and lard oil lamps were in general use. 

At that time nearly all families had what was called grand- 
mother's ten-plated wood stove and used no other fuel. The 
stove created heat very quickly. This stove and a fire in the 
chimney corner were the means used for general housekeep- 
ing. Very few people had any heat in their dwellings after 
they retired for the night. 

As there were no matches in those days it was necessary to 
make provisions for fire in the morning ; so, before retiring for 
the night the burning coals that had accumulated during the 
day were banked or covered with ashes, and if done properly 
the coals would keep fire until morning ; if it did not, it was in 
order to take a shovel and branch out to a neighbor and bor- 
row a live coal or two ; then after considerable blowing one 
could start a fire with a little pitch pine. People who could 
afford it had a pair of bellows to do the blowing. In case fire 
could not be procured it was necessary to resort to the tinder 
box, which contained a piece of steel, a flint and some intlam- 


mable material — a piece of half burned muslin or punk (decayed 
wood), then by striking the flint with the steel it would cause 
sparks, which set fire to the tinder, and as the tinder would 
not burn in a flame a splinter of pine dipped in sulphur and 
thrust into the tinder would cause a flame. It was a familiar 
sight to see a man pull out his tinder box and light his pipe. 

People raised and cured their own meat. Many persons 
took great pride in feeding and raising large hogs, and in 
the fall, before the time to butcher, you could see parties of 
men on a Sunday roaming through the alleys, peeping in their 
neighbors' hog pens to size up the hogs for betting purposes, 
either for money or for the drinks. At that time the hotels 
were open all day on Sunday for the sale of all kinds of liquors 
over the bar. The bar-rooms were regular rendezvous on 
Sundays for a talk over matters of the preceding week. Of 
course, large hogs and politics were the principal topics dis- 

Whiskey was then sold over the bar any day in the week 
at a fip (6 1-4 cts.) a drink, and good whiskey could be pur- 
chased by the quart for a levy (12 1-2 cts.) and I venture to 
say the town of Sunbury was just as moral then as it is to-day. 


There were nine hotels in Sunbury in 1845. Charles Wea- 
ver kept a hotel at the present site of the City Hotel, which 
swung the sign of the Buck. 

John Boulton kept a hotel, with the sign of the Red Lion, 
on the north side of Market street, between Third and Fourth, 
now J. A. Keithan's place of business. 

The Lawrence Hotel, a brick building adjacent to the site of 
the present court house. The sign was embellished with a 
portrait of the naval hero and his memorable words, "Don't 
give up the ship." 

Weitzel's Hotel on the southwest corner of Market street 
and River avenue, now the property of the First National Bank. 
On the sign was an eagle with a chain and the word hotel. 
At this house the Judges of the Supreme Court lived during 


the session of the court, which was held annually for two 
weeks in each year. They were a jolly crowd and very lib- 
eral. The boys of town received many a dollar from them for 
rowing them around on the river in a foot boat. They gener- 
ally gave instructions to row up to the West Branch bridge and 
down the canal to the old hotel that was erected close up to the 
rocks, below the abutment of the bridge. They always tied up 
there and got off and wended their way up into the hotel and 
sometimes spent an hour. Of course, we boys could not enter 
the hotel, but we could hear that tliey had lots of sport drink- 
ing the good water they claimed was there. At the hotel old 
Hete Cooley (colored) lived, who acted the part of a servant 
and blacked their boots and played the part of hostler. 

The Washington Hotel, at the corner of Second and Market, 
now the Neff House, was kept by C. D. Wharton. 

The Ferry House, on Front near Spruce, was kept by Henry 

The Cross Keys, in the stone house below the dam. The 
sign was two crossed keys. 

There was a hotel at the corner of Front and Arch, kept by 
H. W. Villee. Villee also kept a hotel at the corner of Front 
and Penn streets. 

Henry Batcher kept a hotel on the south side of Chestnut 
street, between Front and Second, called the Black Horse. 

THE BAND IN 1847. 

A list of the gentlemen who composed the brass band in 


William Youngman, leader, clarionet. 

Daniel W. Shindel, cornet. 

Edward Masser, picolo. 

Jacob Youngman, tenor slide trombone. 

Abram Fry, bass slide trombone. 

Samuel Fry, clarionet. 

Charles Weiser, tuba bass. 

Newton Shindel, French horn. 

Washington Weiser, snare drum. 

Charles Bogar, bass drum. 




The above is a view of the pubhc square in Sunbury, in the 
center of which are seen the court house and market house. 
The engraving was reproduced from original drawings made 
seventy years ago. At tliat time there were no trees around 
the square. A number of Lombardy poplars stood north of 
the court house. . Trees were planted around the square about 
the year 1844, and it is conceded that three of them are still 
living. On the day that they were being boxed there was a 
public declaration made that certain parties (colored) had 
driven the owners off an island in the river, just above Selins- 
grove, and had taken possession of the same, and defied the 
authorities to remove them. 

Sunbury at that time had a military company named the 
Sunbury Grays. They were equipped with a gray uniform 
with high leather hats and flint lock guns. The company was 
not very prompt in their attention to drills, and seldom turned 
out more than twelve, and for that reason were known as the 
twelve apostles. 

The event caused great excitement in town, and as the mil- 
itary company was the only means of defense at hand, they 
were ordered by the proper authorities to proceed at once to 


the seat of trouble. The captain ordered out the company, 
and at the command the army proceeded to walk to the dam, 
where they embarked aboard a flat and drifted down the river 
to the island. Bijo and Cudjo (colored) acting as commissary 
in charge of the military stores, in order to keep the ammu- 
nition dry they poured it into two jugs, in the excitement 
the boys became very patriotic, and Dicky Peal and Shirty 
Irwin hoofed it down this side of the river and arrived at the 
seat of war. Just as the soldiers disembarked on the island, 
the company was formed and proceeded to load their flint-lock 
guns, and in their nervous condition there was a premature 
explosion of one of the guns, and Bijo claimed he was shot, and 
after an examination it was found that he was wounded by 
the contents of the jug. When order was restored the captain 
appointed Abe Irwin and Pete Getter a patrol to make a search 
for the enemy. They were given the countersign and pro- 
ceeded to locate the enemy, and in case they found them in force, 
then to fall back on the main line and report their number and 
position. The patrol started, Cudjo and Bijo being in charge 
of the transportation of the jugs containing the ammunition. 

It was not long until the patrol reported having as prisoners 
an old negro and his wife. A counsel of war was held, and 
after a short parley with the prisoners they were discharged 
and the war ended. A motion was then made and carried by 
a unanimous vote to bunch their coin and detail Bijo and Cudjo 
and the prisoners to proceed to Selinsgrove and purchase a jug 
of patriotism. They soon arrived, too full for expression. 
The jug was taken aboard the flat, and the army proceeded to 
pole the flat back to the dam. On the voyage Pete Getter 
and Abe Irwin lost their hats in the river, and I am informed 
one of the hats was picked up along the shore by a farmer and 
is in use to-day as a nail keg. 




The above is a view of the public square in Sunbury, in the 
center of which are seen the court house and market house. 
The engraving was reproduced from original drawings made 
seventy years ago. At that time there were no trees around 
the square. A number of Lombardy poplars stood north of 
the court house. Trees were planted around the square about 
the year 1844, and it is conceded that three of them are still 
living. On the day that they were being boxed there was a 
public declaration made that certain parties (colored) had 
driven the owners off an island in the river, just above Selins- 
grove, and had taken possession of the same, and defied the 
authorities to remove them. 

Sunbury at that time had a military company named the 
Sunbury Grays. They were equipped with a gray uniform 
with high leather hats and flint lock guns. The company was 
not very prompt in their attention to drills, and seldom turned 
out more than twelve, and for that reason were known as the 
twelve apostles. 

The event caused great excitement in town, and as the mil- 
itary company was the only means of defense at hand, they 
were ordered by the proper authorities to proceed at once to 


the seat of trouble. The captain ordered out the company, 
and at the command the army proceeded to walk to the dam, 
where they embarked aboard a flat and drifted down the river 
to the island. Bijo and Cudjo (colored) acting as commissary 
in charge of the military stores. In order to keep the ammu- 
nition dry they poured it into two jugs. In the excitement 
the boys became very patriotic, and Dicky Peal and Shirty 
Irwin hoofed it down this side of the river and arrived at the 
seat of war. Just as the soldiers disembarked on the island, 
the company was formed and proceeded to load their flint-lock 
guns, and in their nervous condition there was a premature 
explosion of one of the guns, and Bijo claimed he was shot, and 
after an examination it was found that he was wounded by 
the contents of the jug. When order was restored the captain 
appointed Abe Irwin and Pete Getter a patrol to make a search 
for the enemy. They were given the countersign and pro- 
ceeded to locate the enemy, and in case they found them in force, 
then to fall back on the main line and report their number and 
position. The patrol started, Cudjo and Bijo being in charge 
of the transportation of the jugs containing the ammunition. 

It was not long until the patrol reported having as prisoners 
an old negro and his wife. A counsel of war was held, and 
after a short parley with the prisoners they were discharged 
and the war ended. A motion was then made and carried by 
a unanimous vote to bunch their coin and detail Bijo and Cudjo 
and the prisoners to proceed 'to Selinsgrove and purchase a jug 
of patriotism. They soon arrived, too full for expression. 
The jug was taken aboard the flat, and the army proceeded to 
pole the flat back to the dam. On the voyage Pete Getter 
and Abe Irwin lost their hats in the river, and I am informed 
one of the hats was picked up along the shore by a farmer and 
is in use to-day as a nail keg. 




The aliove is a view of the pubhc square in Sunbury, in the 
center of which are seen the court house and market house. 
The engraving was reproduced from original drawings made 
seventy years ago. At that time there were no trees around 
the square. A number of Lombardy poplars stood north of 
the court house. Trees were planted around the square about 
the year 1844, and it is conceded that three of them are still 
living. On the day that they were being boxed there was a 
public declaration made that certain parties (colored) had 
driven the owners off an island in the river, just above Selins- 
grove, and had taken possession of the same, and defied the 
authorities to remove them. 

Sunbury at that time had a military company named the 
Sunbury Grays. They were equipped with a gray uniform 
with high leather hats and flint lock guns. The company was 
not very prompt in their attention to drills, and seldom turned 
out more than twelve, and for that reason were known as the 
twelve apostles. 

The event caused great excitement in town, and as the mil- 
itary company was the only means of defense at hand, they 
were ordered by the proper authorities to proceed at once to 



the seat of trouble. The captain ordered out the company, 
asfid at the command the army proceeded to walk to the dam, 
wliere they embarked aboard a flat and drifted down the river 
to the island. Bijo and Cudjo (colored) acting as commissary 
in charge of the military stores. In order to keep the ammu- 
nition dry they poured it into two jugs, in the excitement 
the boys became very patriotic, and Dicky Peal and Shirty 
Irwin hoofed it down tliis side of the river and arrived at the 
seat of war. Just as the soldiers disembarked on the island, 
the company was formed and proceeded to load their flint-lock 
guns, and in their nervous condition there was a premature 
explosion of one of the guns, and Bijo claimed he was shot, and 
after an examination it was found that he was wounded by 
the contents of the jug. When order was restored the captain 
appointed Abe Irwin and Pete Getter a patrol to make a search 
for the enemy. They were given the countersign and pro- 
ceeded to locate the enemy, and in case they found them in force, 
then to fall back on the main line and report their number and 
position. The patrol started, Cudjo and Bijo being in charge 
of the transportation of the jugs containing the ammunition. 

It was not long until the patrol reported having as prisoners 
an old negro and his wife. A counsel of war was held, and 
after a short parley with the prisoners they were discharged 
and the war ended. A motion was then made and carried by 
a unanimous vote to bunch their coin and detail Bijo and Cudjo 
and the prisoners to proceed to Selinsgrove and purchase a jug 
of patriotism. They soon arrived, too full for expression. 
The jug was taken aboard the flat, and the army proceeded to 
pole the flat back to the dam. On the voyage Pete Getter 
and Abe Irwin lost their hats in the river, and 1 am informed 
one of the hats was picked up along the shore by a farmer and 
is in use to-day as a nail keg. 




The above engraving is a grandmother's ten-plated wood 
stove, wood being tlie only fuel that could be used in them. 
This stove and a large open fire place in the chimney cor- 
ner were the only means used for heating and general house- 


The engraving used as a frontis-piece in this book is a view 
of the house that stood inside of Fort Augusta, the headquar- 
ters of Capt. Samuel Hunter. It is a reproduction of a paint- 
ing which was in the possession of the late Capt. John Buyers, 
of Selinsgrove, and has the following endorsement on the 
back : "A view of the house in Fort Augusta, one mile above 
Sunbury, Pa., at the junction of the North and West Branches 
of the Susquehanna River, in the year 1825. Painted by 
Mrs. Amelia Donnel." 



The public school system of Sunbury was adopted in the 
year 1834. The board of school directors were Rev. J. P. 
Shindel, President; George Bright, Treasurer ; John G. Young- 
man, Secretary ; Jacob Painter and Alexander Jordan. The 
only record of their actions as a board, 1 copy from the Work- 
ingman's Advocate, edited by John G. Youngman, who was the 
Secretary of the first School Board. In its issue of December 6, 
1834, is the following : 

"Upon due notice by the School Directors, a small portion 
of the citizens of the Borough of Sunbury met on the 29th ulti- 
mo, in the court house, and acting upon the 7th section of the 
Free School Law, passed and approved April ist, 1834. Henry 
Reader in the chair. 

Resolved, That double the amount of county tax be raised as 
a sum in addition to the amount of half the county tax deter- 
mined upon by the school delegates on the 4th of November 

On November, 1836, the School Board was composed of the 
following persons : Rev. J. P. Shindel, as President; Chris- 
tian Bower, Secretary; Lewis Dewart, Treasurer; John Young, 
Jacob Painter, George Bright. 

The total revenue for the first year by taxation was. . $554.73 
From State appropriation 1 54-73 

Total 3709.46 

Christian Bower and John Young audited the above account 
of Mr. Dewart and reported it correct. 

On November 14, 1837, the Board was composed of Rev. J. 
P. Shindel, President; Jacob Painter, John Young, H. B. Mas- 
ser. Dr. W. M. Robbins and Alexander Jordan, who purchased 
from Mrs. Susan Giberson the property on Third street, now 
occupied by the post office, for the sum of $169.90, and erected 




thereon the above buildino;, which was the first school building 
erected in Sunbury. it was built in the year 1837 and was- 
used for school purposes until October, i856, when the prop- 
erty was sold at public outcry to the Masonic Hall Association 
for $3031. The foUuwino; gentlemen composed the School 
Board at the time of the sale: S. P. Wolverton, John B. Len- 
ker, Dr. D. W. Shindel, J. H. Love and Emanuel Wilvert. 

The contractors of the building were Charles Derring and 
Samuel Fetter. The building was a two-story structure, sixty 
feet long and forty feet wide. It was built of brick and con- 
tained four rooms — two up and two down — and a large hall on 
each floor. "There are no records at hand to show whether 
the building was let by contract or not. The Treasurer's book, 
which is complete from 1836 to i860, does not show that an 
order was ever granted to either of the contractors. 


The bell was purchased June 23, 1838. Its cost was thirty- 
three dollars. The supplies for each room included one water 
bucket, tin cup, broom and coal bucket. There was one look- 
ing glass for the building, which hung in the hall on the first 
floor. The cost of the supplies was $7.15. There was one 
stove allowed to each room. 

The Board at that time advertised for teachers, and there 
were many applicants from different places and a number were 
preserved. There were several from Philadelphia. 

A School Teacher Wanted. 

Sealed proposals will be received by the Directors of the 
Common School in the Borough of Sunbury until i o'clock P. 
M. on Saturday, the 8th day of December next, for one male 
Teacher, at which time there will be a meeting of the said di- 
rectors held in room No. 4, of the Public School house, when 
the application will be considered, the allotment made and 
Teacher examined. 

By order of the Board. 

G. M. YORKS, Sec'y. 
Sunbury, Dec. i, 1849. 

Two applications are appended as follows : 

Sunbury, June 28, 1846. 
To the Board of Directors of Sunbury, Pa. 

Dear Sirs : — 1 propose to teach in Room No. 2 at ten dollars 
per month. SARAH JANE FRY. 

Lock Haven, May 25, 1848. 
To the Board of Directors of Sunbury, Pa. 

Sirs : — in leaving home yesterday 1 neglected to leave a pro- 
posal for a school. When you advertise for teachers Mr. John 
B. Packer will present my application. 1 will teach the Prin- 
cipal School for $25 per month. Should that be awarded. 
1 will teach the Second at $23 per month. 

Yours in truth, 

Lucius Chapman. 
After the sale of the property to the Masonic Hall Associa- 

W. L. DEWART, President. 


tion the Board issued bonds to the amount of five thousand 
dollars with interest at the rate of seven per cent, per annum, 
for the purpose of securing lots and the erection of suitable 
school buildings. Later the Board purchased the northern half 
of lot on the corner of Arch and Second streets, where the 
Methodist church is located, ?nd intended to erect a school 
building thereon, but when it became known what the inten- 
tion of the Board was there was great objection made by peo- 
ple in that neighborhood and the result was a petition was 
circulated and presented to the Board of Directors, claiming 
that the property holders are satisfied that the school house 
would cause a material loss in the value of their property if 
located on the northern end of the lot. The petitioners also 
claimed that the southern end of the lot could be bought for 
the same price as the northern half. The result was the Board 
sold the northern half of the lot at public sale to John Farns- 
worth, who represented the Methodist church, for the sum of 
$1405, he being the highest bidder. 

The first principal of the Sunbury schools was David Trites, 
at a salary of $28 per month, with Aaron Risley, assistant, at 
a salary of $25 per month. The lady teachers were Miss 
Dorcas Grant and Miss Chapman, at a salary of ;^i5 each per 

The following report of the schools of Sunbury, Pa., was 
presented to the Board of Directors in the year 1843, by the 
Secretary : 

Whole number of schools 4 

Number required None 

Average months taught 10 

Number of male teachers 2 

Number of female teachers 3 

Average salary of male teachers $23 

Average salary of female teachers $g 

Number of male pupils 184 

Number of female pupils 119 

Total 303 


Books in use — Smith's English Grammar, Porter's Rhetori- 
cal Reader, Pike's and Cobb's Arithmetic, Cobb & Town Spell- 
ing Book, Geography, writing and spelling. 

Signed by JACOB PAINTER, President. 

Christian Bower, Secretary. 

The classes were easily graded and the studies of the ad- 
vanced pupils were limited. The English Reader being the 
highest text book. The teachers set the copy for writing and 
made and mended the quill pens, which the boys stole from 
some of the old geese. The second class scholars devoted their 
attention to the spelling books, and the lowest was confined to 
the primmer. 

In those days it was always necessary to practice economy, 
as literature was not as cheap as now. The teachers were 
strong believers in corporal punishment as an educational stim- 
ulant. Whips or gads were formidable implements and were 
freely used. A gad of moderate size was used when a pupil 
required correction, in case it was required to punish two or 
three the gad was much longer, but when a whole class needed 
punishment the fishing rod was used. 

Jn the year 1839 there was a Union Sunday School in suc- 
cessful operation in the grand jury room, over the county offices, 
where the court house is now. The rooms were used by per- 
mission of Court, and all the various denominations, then rep- 
resented in Sunbury, supported the school. The late Judge 
Alexander Jordan was president, and often presided over the 
school in its sessions. The Judge was a fluent and impressive 
speaker. This school was continued as a union organization 
until the formation of denominational Sunday schools deprived 
it of its support and terminated its usefulness. 

The description of ttie conditions of the free schools of Sun- 
bury furnish a striking comparison between the state of educa- 
tion at that time and its present advancement. The Free 
School Laws had many strong opponents, and it is said that 
when the question of free schools was submitted to the voters 
of Augusta township it received but eight votes in its favor, 
namely : Elisha Kline, Peter Oberdorf, Jacob Clark, Col. 


John Snyder, Samuel Bloom and Samuel Awl, and two others 
whose names are unknown. 

In order to show that the average school boys were about the 
same the year round, I will relate an instance or two to present 
the facts, A few years after the schools had been in opera- 
tion in the new building, some of the older pupils came to the 
conclusion that the new building required some additional dec- 
oration, and they proceeded to put their ideas into effect. 
They secured their material from a slaked lime box, and after 
they had finished the job they held a parly and further decora- 
tion was agreed on and two of the artists finished the job by 
inscribing their initials on the walls. (The initials were C. F. 
and H. B.) Their actions caused a great commotion in the 
community, and as a part of them left their tracks it was not 
difficult to apprehend the parties. They were arrested and 
brought before the Court and found guilty, and Judge Anthony 
sentenced them to board and lodge with Felix Maurer, High 
Sheriff, for 30 days. The above young men were a brave, 
good-hearted crowd, and took their sentence as a joke, and it 
appeared so, for they were out of jail every night. 

On another occasion, certain pupils who had a dislike to the 
sound of the old bell, came to the conclusion to stop it ; so sev- 
eral of the gang, on a cold winter night, secured an entrance 
to the building and proceeded up through the door to the belfry 
and turned the bell upside down and filled it with water 
and the result was the water froze and cracked the bell. The 
act created great indignation, but as they were unknown and 
left no tracks the job ended there. 

The following gentlemen were the fathers of the Sunbury 
school system from 1834 to 1837, working under the Free 
School Law : 

Rev. J. P. Shindel, John G. Youngman, 

George Bright, Jacob Painter, 

Christian Bower, Alexander Jordan, 

H. B. Masser, John Young, 

W. M. Robbins, Lewis Dewart, 

George C. Welker, George Young. 

The Sunbury School Board could not make a mistake by 
naming a School Building after either of the above gentlemen. 



To show the difference between the cost of maintaining the 
schools of the borough in 1836 and 1910, the receipts of the 
first year are given below and the expenditures of the year 
just closed. 

The total revenue for the first year by taxation was. . $554.73 
From State appropriation 1 54-73 

Total $709.46 


For building in First Ward $30,824.5.8 

For building in Seventh Ward 7,884.50 

Treasurer's commission 383.37 

Purchasing grounds in Seventh and Ninth Wards.. 1,700.00 

Buildings and furnishings 590.08 

Fuel and light 3, 166.60 

Text books 2,972.69 

Repairs 2,072.69 

Secretary's salary 360.00 

Supplies 1,746.56 

Other expenses 1,273.98 

Janitors' salaries 2,228.50 

Teachers' salaries 30, 161 .47 

Water rent 161.75 

County Institute 524.00 





The above is an engraving of the stage coach which was one 
of the modes used for tiie conveyance of passengers, and car- 
ried the public mails. It was a closed vehicle for commodious 
travel and was drawn by four horses. They seated from five 
to six people. The mail was carried on the rear of the coach 
in a boot. The coachman sat outside. They made about five 
or six miles an hour on good roads. The fare was about a fip 
(6 1-4 cts.) a mile, and made daily trips from place to place. 

This engraving is a fine view of a small house that stood on 
the river bank, nearly opposite Fort Augusta, in the year 1845. 
At one time there was a grove of trees east of the house, along 
the river bank. Samuel Hunter's farmer, Godfrey Watters, 
used it as a dwelling for many years. 


In the year 1846 several spans of the river bridge, between 
the island and Grant's farm, were blown down by a hurricane. 
The spans landed in the river above the pier without sustaining 
very serious damage, and the bridge was rebuilt with a part of 
the original material. The loss of the bridge caused Mr. Hun- 
ter to introduce a ferry between Sunbury and Northumberland. 
The above described house being empty at the time was used 
as a ferry house. 

Peter Coble, at that time, was employed by Mr. Hunter as 
his farmer, and also to manage the ferry, in a short time, 
business not being brisk at the ferry, and the farm being in 
need of Coble's attention, Coble then employed W. H. Bright 
and J. C. Irwin to work the ferry. The boats started from 
the landing just above the house and crossed around the point 
of the island, up to the first canal bridge, below the wagon 
bridge at Northumberland. When the ferrymen were not en- 
gaged they spent their time searching for old Indian graves in 
quest of crow-feet and other relics. Crow-feet were a small 
pointed angular device with four prongs, made of iron and 
were so constructed that it mattered not how they were placed, 
there was always a point up. They were scattered on the 
ground on the trail or track of an Indian, and were supposed to 
penetrate the Red Man's moccasin. 

Large numbers of bones and Indian relics had from time to 
time been exposed by the inroads of the river upon the bank, 
and relics were not hard to find, especially crow-feet. In the 
fence corners one could always find more or less of these de- 

On this ground is where Mr. M. L. Hendricks gathered his 
valuable collection of Indian relics. He also dug up several 
skeletons on this territory, one of which was supposed to be 


This old piece of ordnance came to Sunbury before the war 
of 1776. Its strange and checkered history was written by 


the late Dr. R. H. Awl, of Sunbury, and published in the 
"History of the West Branch Valley." 


"hi 1758 Fort Augusta mounted from twelve to sixteen pieces 
of artillery, ranging from six to twelve pounders. They were 
of English manufacture, and all have been lost sight of save 
one. The single one that has been preserved, is treasured as 
a valuable relic of by-gone times and its history is check- 
ered and interesting. 

"This cannon measures from the tip of cascabel to the end 
of muzzle tifty-six and one-half inches, in front of trunnion 
thirty-one inches, behind trunnion thirty-three and three- 
fourths inches, in circumference it measures thirty-nine 
inches at the base ring and twenty-four and one-half inches at 
the muzzle, and weighs about one-half ton. The piece at the 
muzzle end was broken off with a sledge hammer by an old 
darkey, "Cudgo," while drunk, in 1838. The cannon began 
its migration by being taken to Muncy, where it remained un- 
til 1774, when it was brought back to Augusta, it is supposed 
that at the time of "The Great Runaway," in 1778, the can- 
non was spiked and thrown into the river. In 1798 it was 
taken from the river by George and Jacob Mantz, Samuel 
Hahn and George Shoop. After heating it by the burning 
of several cords of hickory wood they succeeded in drilling out 
the spiked file. 

"It next became the object of political contention, frequently 
changing from one party to the other. At one time the party in 
possession buried in Mr. Prince's archway, opposite the south 
side of the public square. Its hiding place was made known by 
Mrs. Prince having stumped her toe on a part that jutted above 
the ground. The place of its concealment being thus revealed 
the other party stole it, and put it in the cellar of Robbin's tan- 


ning place, at the east end of Market street, where George 
Cadvvallader's residence stands. In 1824 it was stolen from 
the river bank at Sunbury by citizens of Selinsgrove, then 
Union county, and hidden away in Mr. Baker's cellar. In 1825 
George Weiser, Esq., of Sunbury, on going to Selinsgrove, by 
some means discovered where it was hidden, bribed the maid 
to have the cellar door unlocked and the dog removed from the 
premises, when a company from Sunbury, consisting of George 
Hileman, John Eply, John Weaver, John Pickering, James 
McCormic, Jacob Diehl, and others, took the cannon from the 
cellar and started for Sunbury. 

"After arriving at Sunbury they went to the hotel then kept 
by John Weaver, at the corner of Third and Market streets 
in the stone building now owned by Wm. H. Miller, carried 
the cannon up on the attic, placed a bed over it, on which Jo- 
seph Eisely, then a fourteen-year-old boy, was to sleep and give 
alarm in case a party should come to steal it away. The can- 
non having been kept safe, was brought down next morning 
and did good service at the Fourth of July celebration. In 
1830 it was stolen out of the cellar of Robbin's tanning place, 
where the residence of George Cadwallader now stands, by 
citizens of New Berlin, Union county, named Charles Awl, 
Samuel Kessler, Charles Baum, Elias Hummel, Michael Kleck- 
ner, Thomas Halabush, Samuel Winter, and Thomas Getgen. 
From New Berlin it found its way to Selinsgrove, where it 
remained until 1839, when Dr. R. H. Awl, Cliarles Rhinehart, 
Henry V. Simpson, Thomas McEwen, Jerry Mantz, Jacob and 
John Reichstine, Weiser Zeigler, Edward Lyon, Peter Zim- 
merman and George Mahan, laid a plan to recapture it. Two 
of the boys went to Selinsgrove on the Fourth of Jul)' and 
learned that ttie cannon was kept in the fire engine house of 
the place. The rest of the party at Sunbury took a horse 
from Mrs. Rhinehart, a wagon from Hugh Bellas, Esq., and the 
ferry flat, crossed the river and met the other two boys late 
that night at the red bridge over Penn's Creek. After suc- 
ceeding in getting the cannon from the engine house, they 
loaded it, crossed the river and came to Sunbury, where George 


Mahan stole a keg of powder from Edward Y. Bright, and at 
day break on the 5th of July opened fire on the river bank in 
front of Captain Daniel Levy's residence, who, with sword 
and pistol, came out and offered to command the defence in 
case of an attack from Union county. 

"We quote the following from the 'Annals of Buffalo Val- 
ley' : 'Daniel Levy, Esq., outlived all the old lawyers except 
Mr. Bellas. He was a conceited man, active as a cat, an in- 
satiable dancer, a hard fighter and great boxer.' The inter- 
esting fact in Levy's history is, that of the only two duels 
fought in this county he was one of the participants. A mili- 
tary gathering took place in 1812 at Michael Kutzner's hotel, 
on the corner of Market and Second streets, the house now be- 
ing occupied by the widow of Hon. C. G. Donnel. During the 
time of the gathering a dispute arose between Daniel Levy and 
General Hugh Brady, a man of six feet, active, strong and as 
brave as Caesar. He was the last survivor of the Brady fam- 
ily, and died at Detroit, Michigan, in 185 1. No sooner did this 
dispute arise than, without further preparations, they attacked 
one another with their swords, in the fight Brady cut off 
Levy's cue, wounded him in the shoulder and also broke his 
sword. Samuel Awl, Esq., Michael Kutzner and others put 
chairs between the duelists and in this way separated them. 
This took place in the bar-room of the hotel. The sword of 
one of the duelists missed its mark and hit the window sill with 
great force, making a deep mark which remained for years, 
until the room was repaired for a private residence. 

"in 1849 about thirty young men from Danville undertook 
to capture the cannon. Jerry Hall, of Sunbury, who was then 
a clerk in the Danville post office, learning of the plan, sent a 
letter by Clinton Fisher, in advance of the confiscating party, 
to Captain C. J. Bruner and Captain Henry Wharton, noti- 
fying them of the plot. The Sunbury people placed pickets 
around the house of Benjamin Krohn, on Front street, where 
the cannon was concealed. When the Danville party made 
their appearance they had been outgeneraled. They returned 
to their homes sadder and wiser than when they came. 


"In Sunbury it has remained since 1834, frequently chang- 
ing owners and place, as the several parties got possession of 
it. First at the old barracks on Front, near Chestnut street, 
where the soldiers of 1812 staid, being chained and locked to a 
5CXD pound ring-stone ; then in Peter Weimer's cellar, the vat 
of Ziegler's tan yard, the Nortiiumberland county prison. 
Chestnut street gutter, where it was buried, and John Shiss- 
ler's cellar, all of which were at one time the keeping place of 
this old military piece, from whom it was stolen, and is now in 
the possession of the Sunbury No. i Fire Engine Co." 

At a celebration of the opening of the Sunbury and Shamo- 
kin Railroad in 1853, the event was marred by an accident to 
two men who were firing a salute with the above described 
cannon in honor of that occasion, in which Berljamin Diehl 
and Isaac Albert were both seriously injured, the former hav- 
ing a part of a hand blown away and the latter a part of an 
arm, by the premature explosion of this piece. 

Samuel Hoey had charge of the cannon several years, from 
whom it was stolen, and is now in the possession of the Sun- 
bury No. I Fire Co. 


About the year 1846 the Sunbury Canal and Water Power 
Company had a number of men employed in excavating a part 
of the canal connecting with Shamokin creek, including a basin 
or dock for the use of canal boats while being loaded with coal 
from the Shamokin coal mines. The railroad for the transpor- 
tation of coal was to occupy the same route as what is known 
as the "Horn." The so-called upper basin is the basin that 
was excavated at that time. 

The purpose of the canal was for the use of the canal boats, 
logs, timber, etc., that were to be locked in from the river and 
floated down through the canal that was to be excavated 
through what is known as Spring Run to a large saw mill that 
was partly erected on Shamokin creek. 

The connection was to be established with the river by an 
iron lock designed by Kimber Cleaver. E. Y. Bright had the 
contract for the work. His shop and foundry was located on 



Chestnut street, between Third and Fourth streets, east of and 
adjoining S. & J. W. Stroh's blacksmith shop. The lock was 
constructed and placed in position, the following winter being 
very severe, the earth froze very hard and the result was the 
pressure broke in its iron sides and rendered it useless. That 
misfortune ended the canal. James Malone had the contract 
for the excavation of the canal. His son Richard was boss of 
the job. The working force were all Irishmen. There were 
no steam shovels in those days. They used picks and shovels 
for digging and carts and wheelbarrows for hauling the earth 
and rock to its destination. At that time the employed men 
worked twelve hours a day and the wages were very low. 


During the annual floods in the river and creeks thousands 
of tons of coal are washed down the streams and lodge in the 



eddies, A great many persons find employment in taking the 
coal from streams both by hand and machine power. The 
machines are on flats and get power from gasoline motors. 
They dig the coal and elevate it to the screens where it is 
washed and separated from the dirt. Nearly all the manufac- 
tories use the coal as it is much cheaper and does the work. 
It is delivered where needed for about $1.50 per ton. 

FLOOD OF 1865. 

Market street in Sunbury during the flood in the Susquehanna 
river in the year 1865, taken from opposite the City Hotel, 
looking west, the court house in the distance. I'he late John 
B. Lenker, of Chestnut and Fourth streets, who was elected 
Treasurer of the Sunbury School District, June 5, 1865, sits 
astride of one af his trotting horses and appears to be in com- 
mand of the whole job — water and all he surveys. 



The old magazine at Fort Augusta is said to be one hundred 
and eighty years old. It is the only evidence of the fort. It 
is located near the brick house, known as the Hunter mansion, 
now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. 1. M. Gross. A small mound 
of earth marks the spot. There are several stone steps lead- 
ing down into it and is about ten feet deep. The arch is of 
brick which is said to be of English make. The magazine is in a 
good state of preservation, it has been said that an under- 
ground passage led from the magazine to the river, but up to 
this date no one has ever found it. 


James Covert, High Sheriff of Northumberland County, em- 
paneled the following jurors for November Term, 1849 : 

Upper Augusta — Elisha Kline, Samuel Riland. 

Lower Augusta — Peter Malick. 

Rush — Joshua Reed. 

Upper Mahanoy — Benneville Holshue, John Renn, Felix 
Maurer, Barnard Adams. 

Lower Mahanoy — Michael Emerich. 

Jackson — Jamuel Malick, John Otto, Levi Drumheller. 

Chillisquaque — William Frick, Joseph N. Nesbit, William 
E. Irvin, Neal Caul. 

Milton — Simon Randolph, William Frymire, 

Delaware — Samuel Finney, D. H. Watson. 

Lewis — William Tweed, William K. Ellis, Levi Glaze, 

Turbut — Peter Billmire. 



Sunbury — Francis Bucher, George Bright. 

Upper Augusta — Frederick Haas, Abraham Sarvis, John 

Lower Augusta — Jacob Kehr, Thomas Updegraff, John N. 

Shamokin — John Kaseman, Isaac Titsvvorth, Henry Leisen- 

Rush — Geo. A. Dickson, Isaac Woolverton, Stanley Gear- 
hart, Jos. Kelly. 

Coal — Washington Smick, John Everitt, Jos. Zuern, John 
Thompson, Michael Derk, Philip Stambach. 

Upper Mahanoy — Daniel Hine, Abraham Geist, Jacob Erd- 

Lower Mahanoy — Frederick Tschoop. 

Jackson — Wm. Deppin. 

Northumberland — Thos. Withington, Charles Rey, Charles 
Little, Robert Martin. 

Point — Thomas Vankirk. 

Chillisquaque — Andrew Fetzer, Peter Voris, Abraham Lan- 
ger, John Sholl, Jr. 

Milton — Thos. Strine, Jesse Derrickson. 

Delaware — Wilson Hutchison, James Rincarson, John Work, 
Edward Druckemiller, James Oakes, Wm. McWilliams. 

Lewis — Rudolph Huntsinger, Anderson Denius, Aaron B. 
Artman, Daniel Derr, David Johnson. 

Sunbury — Jacob Cable, E.Y. Bright, Ed. Gass, Caleb Fisher. 

Lower Augusta — Wm. Bloom, Wm. B. Silverwood, Daniel 
Hollabach, John Fox. 

Shamokin — Jesse Campbell, Asa John, 

Rush— John Case. 


The following is taken from the Sunbury American of De- 
cember 8th, 1849 ' 

t®"The Shamokin coal trade for the season is nearly over. 
Some will be wanting to supply the Borough, for those who 


buy, and for others who take it without buying. The Messrs. 
Fegleys will, no doubt, keep up a sufificient supply for both 
sets of customers. Editors, we think, ought to be placed on 
the free list. 


The following is copied from the Pennsylvania Reporter, 
published at Harrisburg, November 16, 1832 : 

Three Times a Week. Fare $3.50. 

New Line of Mail Stages Between Harrisburg 

and pottsville. 

The subscribers respectfully inform their friends and the 

public that they have commenced running a line of mail stages 

between Harrisburg and Pottsville, viz : 

Schuylkill Haven, Friedensburg, Pinegrove, Stumpstown and 
Jonestown, three times a week, as follows : Leaves Harris- 
burg every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, at 4 o'clock A, M., 
and arrives at Pottsville the same evening; returning, leaves 
Pottsville every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, at 4 o'clock 
A. M., and arrives at Harrisburg the same evening, at the fol- 
lowing rates of fare : 

From Harrisburg to Pottsville ^3-50 

From " to Pinegrove 2.25 

From Pinegrove to Pottsville 1.25 

Way passengers, per mile, 61-4 

At Pottsville this line intersects the daily line of stages run- 
ning from Pottsville to New York via Port Carbon, Tuscarora, 
Tamaqua, Mauch Chunk, Easton, &c. — At Harrisburg this line 
intersects the Columbia, Pa., Pittsburg and Wheeling lines. 

The proprietors have procured new stages, calculated to ride 
easily and expeditiously, and the route being the shortest and 
most comfortable, they respectfully solicit a share of public 

B®°Seats can be taken at Smull's Hotel, Harrisburg; and at 
Dunlap's National Hotel, Pottsville. All baggage at the risk 
of the owner. WEAVER & CO. 

Nov. 16, 1832. 




The above residence of Hon. S. P. Wolverton was built by 
William Maclay, the first United States Senator from Penn- 
sylvania, about 136 years ago, on lot No. 56, on the original 
plan of Sunbury borough. Mr. Wolverton has enlarged and 
modernized the building and erected an addition to the rear 
with the same kind of stone, making it much larger than the 
original building, giving it a fme appearance. During the Rev- 
olution a small stockade was erected on the rear end of this 
lot for the better protection of the refugees in case of an attack 
on the town by Savages. 




Ebenezer Greenou^^h, who came to Sunbury in the year 
1806, occupied the above building during his life. He was a 
Whig in politics, and was elected a member of the Pennsylva- 
nia Legislature in 1831. The house was built in 1796. 

The late Wm. 1. Greenough, his son, was born in Sunbury 
in 183 1, and was a lawyer by profession. 


"The most spirited campaign this country ever witnessed 
was the famous one of '44. The surroundings all made it a 
fierce fight. The Whig party was stronger than ever and they 
placed in nomination their great leader, "Harry of the West." 
The Democratic party up to that time had also nominated none 
but great chieftains. In the convention of that year it inau- 
gurated the new plan of placing before the people a dark horse. 
A majority of the delegates who met in Baltimore were for 
VanBuren, but as it takes two-thirds in Democratic National 
Conventions it was found impossible to nominate him. James 
K. Polk, of Tennessee, was nominated for President and Geo. 
M. Dallas, of Pennsylvania, for Vice President, both unknown 
men. Neither had been spoken of before the convention and 
at this new departure the country stood aghast. But it won, 
and from that time on dark horses have been the rule with 


both parties and not the exception. The Whig party was 
wrapped up in Henry Clay, and occasionally to this day an old 
line Whig can be seen who swore never to be shaved or shorn 
until the gallant Henry Clay would be President. 

Great meetings were held all over the country, and particu- 
larly in this State did the fight wax warm. A political meeting 
in those days was vastly different from the ones of the present. 
They were the old timers, and the whole family and towns 
would turn out enmasse to swell the crowd. Personal encoun- 
ters between the Whigs, who were so guiltless of winning elec- 
tions, but who were so highly respectable, and Democrats was 
a daily occurrence. 

The Whigs had a great demonstration at Milton during the 
campaign and the Sunbury delegation started from Market 
Square early in the morning to attend it. There were bands, 
wagons filled with people, pretty girls decked in white and gaily 
sashed marshals on horseback. As the procession reached the 
river the Court House bell began to toll mournfully. Martin 
Irwin, father of Jared Irwin, of Sunbury, who was a leading 
Democrat, had locked himself in the Court House and was per- 
forming a part of a funeral service for the procession. The 
whole procession was mad in a minute, but after breaking up, 
to discover, if possible, who was perpetrating the joke, they 
moved on, leaving a guard at the Court House to catch him as 
he came out. The Democrats, to relieve Irwin, called a 
meeting in the afternoon, and while it was in progress in the 
Court House Irwin slipped among the crowd and escaped de- 
tection. It took the Whigs years to find out who played the 
joke upon them. In the same procession the Whigs tied polk- 
berry bushes under their wagons and dragged them through 
the streets of Milton, much to the chagrin of the Democrats of 
that place. Personal encounters were the order of the day and 
many a bloody fight did the town witness between a strugg- 
ling Polkite and an admirer of gallant "Harry of the West." 
It was a Whig holiday, they owned the town and royally did 
they make use of it. 

Two weeks from the Whig meeting the Democrats of the 



county met at the same place to outnumber in speeches, in 
numbers and enthusiasm the Whig demonstration. To wipe 
out the stain of the pokeberry bushes was the study of the 
leaders, and they succeeded. One of the arguments used 
against Clay was his connection, as advisor, with the Cilly- 
Graves duel. Both of these men were members of Congress. 
The vote of the county at that election is an interesting 
study. Polk had 899 majority ; his majority in Sunbury was 
only ten. There was no coal region vote in those days, and 
the vote in the Mahanoys has changed but little. Lower Ma- 
hanoy was as strong Whig as it is Republican now and Upper 
Mahanoy is as strongly Democratic, counting Washington, 
which was a part of Upper Mahanoy. Watsontown voted with 
Delaware, and Shamokin town and township together. 


Colonel Samuel Hunter was born in the north of Ireland in 
1732. His military career began in 1760. On the 20th of May 
in that year he was commissioned a lieutenant in Captain 
Joseph Scott's company of Col. Hugh Mercer's battalion of the 
Pennsylvania Regiment. He was at Fort Augusta in 1763, &c. 


He died at Fort Augusta April 10, 1789, leaving a widow, 
Susanna (nee Scott), and two daughters, Nancy and Mary. 
The former married Alexander Hunter, the latter Samuel Scott. 
He was buried in what is called the Hunter burying ground, 
near the corner of Joseph street and Susquehanna avenue. 



It is much regretted that so little of the history of this man 
has been preserved. No doubt he was a native of Ireland and 
came to this valley among the first emigrants. Mr. Ball was 
the first secretary of the Northumberland County Committee 
of Safety, organized February 8, 1776, and is accredited to Au- 
gusta township. He acted as paymaster to Colonel Hartley's 
regiment while it was on the frontier, and was deputy prothon- 
otary of Northumberland county until his death, in 1779. His 
place of residence was Sunbury, and doubtless he performed 
the duties of the office while William Maclay and David Harris, 
the regularly appointed prothonotaries for that period, were 
otherwise engaged. 

Among the early merchants of Sunbury were these two 
brothers. They were natives of Ireland. Their parents, 
James and Rachel Black, evidently came to Sunbury sometime 
in the last century. John, the elder of their sons, was born in 
1735, and died November 13, 1790, at Sunbury. He served as 
supervisor of Augusta township in 1779, which shows that he 
was among the early emigrants and was probably established 
in business before that date. James was much younger than 
John, having been born May 12, 1752, and died at Sunbury, 
November 30, 1830. He married Catherine, daughter of James 
and Jane Cochran, who settled in what is now Columbia coun- 
ty, opposite the mouth of Catawissa creek, before the Revolu- 
tion. She was born July 25, 1766, and died December 23, 

James Black was an active and prosperous business man. 

He erected the first three-story brick house in Sunbury, upon 

the site of the building now occupied by the Sunbury Tire Filler 

Co., on Front street. On March i, 1790, he purchased at 

sheriff's sale a tract of two hundred acres near the mouth of 

i^imestone run, and in 1795 laid out a part of this land as an 

addition to the town of Milton, which had just been founded by 


Andrew Straub. This land, as well as Straub's purchase, 
originally belonged to the estate of Turbutt Francis. He left 
nine children, viz : Jane, John, David, John, William, An- 
drew, James, Jesse and Rachel. Several of the sons became 
active and prominent business men. 


The parents of John Buyers — John Buyers and Letitia Pat- 
ton — were natives of County Monaghan, Ireland, and emigrated 
to this country in 1735. They settled in the Pequea Valley, 
Lancaster county, where John, the subject of this notice, was 
born June 9, 1749. When he grew to manhood he learned the 
trade of carpenter, and soon after the town of Sunbury was 
founded he removed thither and was employed upon the erec- 
tion of many of the earlier buildings, including the first jail. 
In 1796 he erected a brick building and engaged in merchan- 
dizing, which he continued until 181 5. 

The name of John Buyers first appears in local official con- 
nection in 1776 as overseer of the poor in Augusta township; 
September 28, 1780, he was commissioned a justice of the 
peace, serving also as justice of the county court, and fre- 
quently presiding in the absence of the regularly commissioned 
president ; he was commissioned as justice of the peace for 
Sunbury and Aususta township, September i, 1791, serving in 
that capacity some years ; December 31, 1784, and the 3rd of 
January, 1786, he was elected county treasurer, which office 
he also filled in 1787-88, and in 1800-08, inclusive, he served 
as county auditor. 

His death occurred May 5, 1821 ; his wife, Ann Fullerton, 
died October 30, 1808, in the 59th year of her age. They 
were the parents of ten children, seven sons and three daugh- 
ters. William P., one of their sons, (born January 12, 1782,) 
learned the trade of printer and founded the Lycoming Gazette 
at Williamsport in 1801, and, having sold his office, he returned 
to Sunbury and established the Times in 1815. He married 
Martha Hunter, December 13, 1815, daughter of Alexander 
Hunter, and granddaughter of Col. Samuel Hunter, the famous 
commandant of Fort Augusta. Her mother, Nancy Hunter, 



was a daughter of Col. Samuel Hunter, and married her cousin, 
Alexander Hunter, consequently she did not change her name. 
William F. Buyers died June 27, 1822, at Sunbury. in 1824 
his widow married his brother, George Patton Buyers, at Har- 
risburg, and probably died there. 


[Written by a delegate from York, Pa., to the General Synod 
of the Lutheran Ctuirch, held at Sunbury.] 

Not ever did the curious eyes of man 

The solemn bronze of that weird feature scan 

Upon an easel, on the painter's part. 

Or in the marble of the sculptor's art ; 

But Nature, with her matchless skill, 

Well carved them in the rock of yon Blue Hill. 

Not Caesar, great in all his storied pride. 

Nor all the earth's great heroes, far and wide. 

Can boast a monument like this at all — 

No Pharaoh's face e'er gazed from such a wall ! 


What dost thou see, thou silent sphinx of stone, 

At Susquehanna's gate, there all alone .-' 

What feels thy heart, what tells thy pensive thought 

Of long ago, of olden battles fought, 

Of howling wolves and burning homes, alas, 

And fleet canoes as on a sea of glass ? 

Where are the fawns that on these meadovvs fed, 

The men that sought, like beasts, life's blood to shed ? 


For, razed are Fort Augusta's frowning guns, 
The watcher's gone — asleep these many suns ! 
And all the scenes thy wistful eye holds fast 
Are but the grave mounds of thy palmy past. 
When river-bank and woodland battlement 
Were dotted with the red man's snowy tent. 
And yon fair isle on Indian summer days 
Was veiled by wigwams' smoke in azure haze ; 
Where dark-eyed maidens sang like cooing doves 
And winds to stars revealed their coyish loves. 


The hills are here, the rocks and gaps of yore, 
The river moves majestic — evermore ! 
Shamokin stream pursues its ancient pace — 
Shamokin town, alas, has lost its place ! 
The children of the forest — Seneca 
And Delaware, and brawny Tutela, 
The south-bred Shawnee, the frontier white. 
No longer greet the eager, weary sight ; 
No startling warwhoop now, nor cannon's boom 
Burst on the ear or clouds thy brow with gloom. 
A modern town usurps the pristine seat : 
Here all the pulses of a new world beat : 
The engine's puff, the whizzing wheel and loom, 
The bridge's span, all seal the red man's doom. 
Not Brainard's prayer, nor Zinzendorf's hot zeal. 
For sweet Benigna's* voice now brings the weal. 
Thy words gave welcome to their lonely breast. 
But long their sun has sought the golden West ! 
The Cross here found in thee a trusted friend. 
And hence thy fame in lore has found no end. 


Then let the laurel bloom thy brow adorn. 
Anemones, mints, lupines, each dewy morn, 
Their fragrance, as from altars, upward send. 
And all the wild-wood choirs their music lend 
In praise of Shikellimy, mighty chief. 


Who bound his arrows in a silver sheaf 

And buried deep in this historic sand 

The war-ax, at tlie holy Christ's command ; 

Who, where the royal rivers speak their ban, 

Owned all the sons of earth as brother man. 

The rocks shall hold that nature-moulded head. 

Till all the generations shall be dead, 

The river mirror it in placid deep, 

When all the human race shall rest in sleep ! 

The King of Day shall hail that sculptured face, 

Till all the starry world's shall fall from space ! 

Each spring the trees and flowers a crown shall frame, 

And thus shall live old Shikellimy's name. 

*Zinzendorf's daughter. 


How many are the changes, Jim, 

Since seventy years ago ! 
When gals wore woolen dresses, 

And boys wore pants of tow ! 
When shoes were made of calfskin, 

And socks of homespun wool ; 
And children did a half day's work 

Before they went to school ! 

The gals took music lessons, then. 

Upon the spinning wheel. 
And practiced late and early, Jim, 

On spindle, swift and reel. 
The boys would ride bareback to mil 

A dozen miles or so, 
And hurry off before 'twas day, 

Some seventy years ago. 

Yes, everything is different, Jim, 

From what it used to was ! 
For men are always tampering 


With God's great natural laws. 
And what on arth we're coming to, 

Does anybody know ? 
For everthing has changed so much, 

Since seventy years ago ! 

The people rode to meeting, Jim, 

in sleds, instead of sleighs, 
And wagons rode as easy then 

As buggies nowadays. 
And oxen answered well for teams, 

Though now they'd be too slow. 
For people lived not half so fast 

Some seventy years ago. 

O, well do I remember, Jim, 

The Franklin patent stove 
That father bought, and paid for, too, 

hi cloth our gals had wove ! 
And how the neighbors wondered 

When we got the thing to go ! 
They said 'twould bust, and kill us all ! 

Some seventy years ago. 


The following bit of local history is given to show the pun- 
ishment sometimes inflicted on law breakers in the early days: 

"About the close of the Revolutionary War, a notorious char- 
acter named Joe Disberry lived about Selinsgrove and Sun- 
bury on the Susquehanna. Whence he came is unknown, but 
he is supposed to have been of Connecticut origin. He is re- 
puted to have been possessed of great physical strength ; could 
excel in running and jumping, and in thieving and lying had 
no equal along the river. He was of a humorous disposition 
also, and frequently indulged in amusing pranks while engaged 
in plying his avocation. It is related of him that on more than 
one occasion he was known to slyly enter the kitchen of a 
family when all were in bed, start up the fire and cook himself 


a meal and leisurely eat it. If discovered he relied on his 
swiftness of foot to escape. Finally his thefts became so nu- 
merous that the whole neighborhood arose against him, and he 
was arrested and confined in the rude jail at Sunbury. But as 
it was not very secure he escaped, and Sheriff Antes offered a 
reward for his apprehension. Joe took refuge on the "Isle of 
Que," and conceaeld himself in a dense thicket. He might 
have eluded pursuit but for his inordinate love for perpetrating 
jokes. While lying in his place of concealment near the road 
which crossed the island, Joe heard the footsteps of a horse, 
and slyly peeping from his covert discovered the Sheriff's wife 
approaching on horseback on her way to Selinsgrove. Quickly 
stepping into the road he pulled off his hat, made a polite bow, 
and as quickly disappeared in the bushes. The astonished 
lady, who knew him, hurried on to Selinsgrove and gave the 
alarm. A party headed by George Kremer (afterwards a 
member of Congress) was hurriedly made up and went in pur- 
suit of the refugee. He was captured and returned to the cus- 
tody of Sheriff Antes at the jail in Sunbury. He was tried 
and convicted, and his sentence is one of the strangest found 
in the annals of criminal history in Pennsylvania. The Quar- 
ter Sessions docket, still preserved among the court records at 
Sunbury (for September term, 1774) shows that he was con- 
victed and the following sentence was imposed : 

" 'Judgment : 'That the said Joseph Disberry receive 
thirty lashes between the hours of eight and nine o'clock to- 
morrow; to stand in the pillory one hour; to have his ears cut 
off and nailed to the post ; to return the property stolen or the 
value thereof; remain in prison three months; pay a fine of 
$30 to the honorable, the President of this State, for the sup- 
port of the government, and stand convicted until fine, fees, 
&c., are paid.' 

"This remarkable sentence shows the estimate that was put 
on Joe as a criminal. The whipping post and pillory stood in 
the public square in Sunbury, and the spot can still be pointed 
out. Colonel Henry Antes, the Sheriff, directed the whipping, 
if he did not do it himself. There is no record to show who 
did the ear cropping, but as the surgical operation fell to the 


Sheriff, it is presumed that he did. Among the twelve men 
that composed the jury were noted Indian fighters and Revo- 
lutionary soldiers. Peter Hosterman, foreman, was active as a 
militiaman, and had command at one time of a company to 
repel Indian attacks. Adam and Michael Grove were famous 
as Indian scouts, and were engaged in several bloody encoun- 
ters with the savages. This severe sentence did not cure Joe 
of his thieving propensities, for the Quarter Sessions docket 
for August term, 1798, shows that he was arraigned and tried 
on three indictments for robbing the houses of Philip Bower, 
Peter Jones and Isaiah Willits, and convicted on each. Hon. 
Jacob Rush, President Judge of the judicial district, was on the 
bench and imposed the following sentence: 

" 'That the prisoner, Joseph Disberry, forfeit all and singu- 
lar his goods and chattels, land and tenements, to and for the 
use of the commonwealth, and undergo a servitude of seven 
years for the burglary committed in the house of Philip Bower, 
and be committed to the House of Correction, pay the costs of 
prosecution, etc' The Court then sentenced him on the other 
two indictments seven years each and continued: 'That the 
defendant be conveyed to the goal and penitentiary house of 
the city of Philadelphia to undergo the servitude aforesaid for 
the term of twenty-one years. And that the said Joseph Dis- 
berry be kept for the space of two years in the solitary cell 
out of tlie teim of twenty-one years.' 

"When the sentence was being delivered Joe was an atten- 
tive listener, and when the last 'seven' was pronounced he 
broke with this remark: 'Why, Judge, three times seven are 
twenty-one !' which caused the audience to smile. Joe was 
taken Philadelphia and served his long sentence, which ex- 
pired in 1819. He returned to his old haunts about Sunbury 
and Selinsgrove an old man, but as merry as ever. His long 
and frequent punishments failed to make an honest man of 
him, and he continued to pilfer wherever an opportunity offered. 
The date of his death is unknown, but it is said he went one 
night to a mill in Union county to steal flour, and falling 
through a hatchway sustained injuries which finally killed 



:f(«p m\. 

The Central Pennsylvania OJd Fellow s' Orphanage, insti- 
tuted twelve years ago, is an institution which is the pride 
not only of the members of the great organization which 
founded and supports it, but of all Sunburians. It is located on 
what is known as the Hoover farm, a few miles east of Sun- 
bury on the Snydertown road. The illustration above shows 
the new building. Two years ago a large brick building, con- 
taining all the modern conveniences, was erected at a cost of 
about $40,000, and next year a $10,000 or $12,000 school 
building will be erected. At present there are 72 boys and 41 
girls, orphans of Odd Fellows, in the Home. But two deaths 
have occurred in its history. The value of the Home is about 
$75,000, but the good it has done, is doing and will do, can 
never be measured with dollars. 

The present officers are : E. C. Wagner, Girardville, pres- 
ident; J. W. Stroh, Sunbury, first vice-president; F. C. Han- 
yen, Scranton, second vice-president; S. B. Hilliard, Watson- 
town, secretary; H. L Romig, Beaver Springs, assistant secre- 
tary; Robert Davis, Mt. Carmel, treasurer. 



''Northumbeiland IS situated neail\' opposite Sunbury, at the 
point formed by the confluence of the North and West Branches. 
The country expands behind the town in a semi-circle form, 
rising in gentle swells towards Montour Ridge, which crosses 
between the two rivers at a distance of about three miles. 
Opposite the town in the North Branch is a long and beautiful 
island called Lyon's Island, and recently belonged to Mr. Cow- 
den. Tw^o substantial bridges connect this island with the 
main land on either shore, and another splendid bridge crosses 
the West Branch at its mouth which is used as a towpath. At 
its southern end of this bridge rises the high and precipitous 
sandstone ledges of Blue Hill, from which a magnificent view 
is enjoyed of the valleys of both rivers. 

"The above view of Northumberland was taken from the 
canal bank, about a mile south of the town, in 1839. It is well 
laid out with spacious streets, it contains a bank, academy. 
Old and New School Presbyterian, German Reformed, Meth- 
odist and Unitarian churches. The population was about 928. 

"From the peculiar geographical position at the junction of 
the two great rivers, it was predicted that the place would 
become of great commercial importance, and it might have 
proved true if no canal had been made. In that case the tran- 


sit of trade would have been at Northumberland, but now the 
valley of each tributary creek has its own trading town on 
either brancli.and the boats pass and repass without leaving 
any profit there. 


"On the Sunbury side of the river, near the end of the 
bridge, between the two towns, stands a fine mansion occupied 
by a venerable Mrs. Grant, her children and grandchildren. 
This lady, whose memory extends back about eighty years, is 
the widow of Capt. Grant of the Revolutionary Army, who 
had command of one of the forts in this region. She relates 
that her father, Robert Martin, who had settled in Wyoming 
Valley under the Pennsylvania title, but being unable to live 
in peace he abandoned his farms and moved to Northumber- 
land where he opened a tavern not long previous to tlie pur- 
chase of 1768. His house at that time was the only one to be 
seen about the point, or even about Sunbury except within 
Fort Augusta. For three miles up the West Branch there 
was no house, and none for a great distance up the North 


Branch. Capt. Lowden and a Mr. Patterson owned the site of 
Northumberland and sold a part of it to Reuben Heynes from 

"After the disastrous battle of Wyoming, Mrs. Grant says, it 
made her heart sad to see the poor fugitives with their cattle 
floating down the river in great numbers in flat boats, canoes 
and rafts. 

"Northumberland was occupied in 1785. The average price 
of lands about the town was 320 to ^24 per acre. Near the 
river town lots sold at $48 to $50. The inhabitants, mostly 
foreigners — Irish, Dutch and English, and Germans about Sun- 
bury. People here were much in favor of the Whiskey Insur- 
rection. The island of 250 acres is now the property of an 
aged man, who lives on it in a small log house. He bought it 
about seven years since for $1,600 and lately refused $3,300." 
— From the Duke of Rochefaucauld, a French traveler, 1795. 


From Day's Historical Collections, about 1843. 

"Sunbury, the county seat, is an ancient town, situated on 
a broad plain on the left bank of the Susquehanna, immediately 
below the forks, and just above the mouth of the Shamokin 
creek; this is a beautiful site. Near the town, above and below, 
are ranges of high hills, affording a magnificent prospect of the 
scenery of the valley in front of the town. The Susquehanna, 
backed up by the Shamokin dam, spreads out into a basin 
nearly a mile wide, which receives the united streams of the 
North and West Branches. The town was originally laid out 
with streets of ample width, with a broad margin along the 
river bank. The place contains, besides the usual county 
buildings, Lutheran, German Reformed, Presbyterian and Meth- 
odist churches, foundry and the depot of the railroad. 

"Among the earlier settlers here were Mr. Dewart, father of 
the Hon. Wm. Dewart, still residing in the town, and Mr. Da- 
vid Mead, who kept an inn here, and in 1787 removed to Mead- 
ville. The Brady family also resided here when it was unsafe 
to occupy their residences further up the West Branch. There 
are still here two venerable sisters of that family." 



■*vT -, 


In tlie year 1826 the Pennsylvania Legislature passed an 
act authorizin*^ tbe Governor to borrow on the credit of the 
Commonwealth three hundred thousand dollars for the com- 
mencement of the construction of the Pennsylvania canal, and 
in the year 1833 the canal boat Enterprise arrived at Sunbury 
under the command of J. Kramer, as captain. The boat was 
the property of H. Yoxtheimer & Co., and, of course, the dam 
was constructed during the six years intervening. 

There was a ferry conducted between Sunbury and the 
other side of the river by flat boats and set poles before the 
dam was built, and in certain seasons when the river was low 
it was necessary to dig cliannels to permit the passage of the 
flats. At times a rope ferry was used ; also a treadmill horse- 
power was used by Hoey & Wharton. For a number of years 
the exclusive privilege of operating the ferry was disposed of 
by the Borough of Sunbury to the highest bidder. In 1854 Ira 
T. Clement leased the wharf at Market street landing. The 
exclusive right of ferryage across the river was vested in Dr. 



Isaac Hottenstein by an act of the Legislature in 1859. The 
canal had been constructed through his land a distance of about 
a mile and an abutment of the Shamokin dam was built upon 
it. It was in compensation for damages thus sustained that 
this franchise was conferred upon Dr. Hottenstein, from whose 
heirs it passed to Ira T. Clement, 


This historic old landmark that is passing with the years, 
might appropriately have been the scene of Longfellow's "Vil- 
lage Blacksmith." Wliile it never stood beneath the spreading 
chestnut tree, and thousands of "children have looked in at the 
open door and heard the bellows roar, and watched the sparks 
as they tlew, like chaff from the threshing floor," and many 
a Sunbury boy can remember it by the scar on the sole on his 
foot. From this old shop, established nearly a century since 
by George Zimmerman, the father of Mrs. Mary Stroh, who mi- 


grated from Berks county about 1814 or '15, has been turned 
out work that has tlu;ured importantly in the making of this 
and surrounding towns. 

Beginning with the spikes (all forged by hand) that went 
into the building of the dam ; then ironing canal boats ; making 
the iron rails that were spiked to the wood rails on the railroad 
from Sunbury to Shamokin ; ironing coal cars, carrying four 
tons of coal, to run on this railroad, drawn by horses and 
mules ; forging irons and making bolts for the old wooden 
bridges across the river and creeks throughout the county; later 
all the iron work for the West Branch boom that was located 
above the bridge, some of the piers of which are still marking 
the spot. In 1883, more than forty tons of iron were made 
by hand that went into the cribbing that supports the piers of 
the Reading bridge crossing the river at Penn street. 

Nothing was ever too small or too large to be turned away 
from the old smithy. It is said of an old farmer's wife, that 
she brought a darning needle here to be welded and while she 
waited at the front door Mr. Zimmerman stole out of the back 
door to John Young's store (the Bassler corner), bought a new 
one for a cent, charging the old lady three cents, who remarked, 
"many an extravagant housekeeper would have thrown the 
old one away." 

Some time in the '40s, the late J. H. Zimmerman, Esq., 
succeeded his father and conducted the business for a few 
years, when he was succeeded by the late Solomon Stroh, who 
in 1848 came from Danville, where he had just finished his 
trade, secured work for a few days prior to going to the gold 
fields of California, but he never left Sunbury. He boarded 
with his employer, married his daughter, and worked the old 
shop for just 50 years, when he died and the business has since 
been carried on by his sons. Thus for three generations this 
old shop has been going it "hammer and tongs," in season, 
out of season and all the seasons. 

Some day there will be no anvil choruses played, no more 
flying sparks, no more kicking horses and mules shod ; then 
will have passed another old-time industry into the memory of 



By the way, if all the horses that were ever shod in this old 
shop were placed in parade two by two, I believe they would 
S[irdle the earth. 


The main building of the Mary M. Packer Hospital was built 
by the late T. H. Purdy, Esq., as a residence for himself in 
the early '70s and as such it was occupied until about fifteen 
years ago. The building has been enlarged so that there are 
now six private rooms for patients and accommodations in the 
wards for twenty-four others. The late Mrs. Packer, after 
whom the hospital is named, furnished practically all the money 
to buy the building and grounds. It is supported by the State 



and by private contributions. During the past year 279 pa- 
tients have been admitted and 62 others received emergency 
treatment. The hospital has an efficient medical and surgical 
staff and is indispensable as a refuge for the sick and injured, 
not only of Sunbury but of the surrounding towns. 

VOTE OF 1849. 


J. B. W. L. 

Packer. Cook 

Sunbury 201 194 

Northumberland ... 157 156 

Milton 172 157 

Turbut 114 113 

Lewis 223 229 

Delaware 255 251 

Chillisquaque 171 153 

Point 133 132 

Upper Augusta .... 1 24 113 

Lower Augusta. ... 226 225 

Shamokin 221 225 

Rush 158 35 

Coal 109 96 

Little Mahanoy ....51 43 

Upper Mahanoy ... 129 135 

Lower Mahanoy . . . 162 139 

Jackson 200 99 

Total 2806 2619 

VOTE OF 1852. 
County Treasurer 

G. B. J. 
Youngman Young 

Sunbury 54 157 

Northumberland ... 97 ^7 

Milton 60 158 

Turbut 67 59 

Lewis 160 79 

Delaware 150 102 

Chillisquaque 97 73 

Point 74 68 

Upper Augusta .... 33 99 

Lower Augusta .... 148 80 

Shamokin 1 54 90 

Rush 1 16 46 

Coal 65 5S 

Little Mahanoy .... 29 19 

Upper Mahanoy ... 93 42 

Lower Mahanoy ... 58 91 

Jackson 95 108 

Total 1 55 1 1403