Fred (Frederick Charles) Brenckman.

History of Carbon County, Pennsylvania; also containing a separate account of the several boroughs and townships in the county, online

. (page 11 of 44)
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conducted them to Summit Hill, where they were
joined by Fisher and McKenna. They had then waited
for their intended victim near the store of Captain
Williamson, where Powell was shot by Donahue.

Donahue was convicted and sentenced. At the Jan-
uary term of court, in 1877, Campbell, who was already
under sentence of death for the murder of John P.
Jones, and in whose case an appeal had been taken to
the Supreme Court, was placed on trial for the murder
of Morgan Powell.

Being again convicted, he smilingly inquired
whether it was proposed that he be hung twice.



144 HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY.

McKenna and Fisher were tried together. The
former was found gnilty of murder in the second de-
gree, while the latter was convicted of murder in the
first degree.

Governor Hartranft having signed their death war-
rants, Doyle, Kelly, Campbell, and Donahue were exe-
cuted together in June, 1877, by Sheriff Raudenbush at
Mauch Chunk. Campbell stoutly protested his inno-
cence to the last, and popular tradition has it that
before being dragged to the scaffold, he placed the
print of his right hand upon the damp wall of his cell,
which was on the first floor of the jail, vowing, as he
did so, that it should remain as a sign of his unjust exe-
cution. A figure resembling the large hand of a man,
with fingers and palm outstretched, is to this day
shown to curious visitors at the sombre jail, within this
cell, while the story of its origin is retold in hushed,
sepulchral tones.

On the same day that the four Mollies were executed
at Mauch Chunk, six paid the extreme penalty for their
crimes at Pottsville.

Two accessories before the fact in the killing of
Morgan Powell were tried at Mauch Chunk, and con-
victed of murder in the second degree. They, with
McKenna, were sent to the penitentiary, McKenna for
nine years, and the other two for four and five years
respectively.

A number of the Mollies who had turned state's evi-
dence during these trials had furnished information
regarding the idenity of the murderers of George K.
Smith, of Audenried. Most of the guilty parties were
fugitives from justice.

One of their number, however, James McDaniels,
known as the ''hairy man," was arrested in Wiscon-



HISTORY OF CAEBON COUNTY. 145

sin, brought to Mauch Chunk, tried, convicted and exe-
cuted.

William Sharp, also accused of complicity in the
murder of Smith, was found guilty and hanged, as
was Fisher, in whose behalf great but unavailing
efforts were made by his counsel and friends for a
commutation of sentence.

James Kerrigan, **The Squealer," was given his
liberty, in consideration of the service he had rendered
the state. Knowing that his life would be sought by
those whom he had betrayed, he mysteriously disap-
peared, and it is said that he died a natural death a
few years ago in Virginia.

The constant strain, worry, and excitement attend-
ant, upon the Mollie Maguire trials cost Daniel Kalb-
fuss, one of the leading lawyers for the defense, his
life. His mind gave way, and he died soon thereafter.

During the course of their long career of violence
and carnage, the Mollies committed more than one hun-
dred murders, not to mention the thousands of lesser
crimes and misdemeanors of which they were the au-
thors.

Smarting under the stigma which the conduct of this
band of outlaws had brought upon the fair fame of
their honored organization, the national convention of
the Ancient Order of Hibernians, held at New York, in
1877, denounced the Mollie Maguires in the most un-
measured terms.

Their membership in the fraternity was also denied,
and with a view to protecting the reputation of the as-
sociation, the counties of Carbon, Luzerne, Schuylkill,
Columbia, and Northumberland were excluded, for the
time being, from participation in the affairs of the
order.



146 HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY.

The Mollies were also scathingly denounced in addi-
tion to being excommunicated, by the leading prelates
of the Roman Catholic Church, and by the Pope him-
self.

Many persons throughout the coal region who have
scarcely passed beyond the bourne of middle age re-
member well the reign of the Mollies. But time works
great changes within comparatively short periods in
our country, and in the broader, better light of to-day,
the hates and prejudices engendered during the night-
mare that is past are for the most part entirely for-
given and forgotten.



CHAPTER XL

STRIKES AND LABOR DIFFICULTIES.

It is to be doubted if any other industry of equal
magnitude in the United States has suffered so much
from the disputes between capital and labor as the
anthracite coal industry.

For more than sixty years the conduct of this in-
dustry has been characterized by innumerable bicker-
ings, suspensions, lockouts and strikes, with their con-
comitants of bitter feeling, suffering and pecuniary
loss, often accompanied by scenes of violence and
bloodshed.

It is only within recent years that the warring in-
terests have been drawn closer together and that, to a
large degree, stability and security have been attained.

The first attempt at organizing the miners of the
anthracite fields was made under the leadership of
John Bates, an Englishman, in 1849. The union then
formed sought to improve the conditions of the miners
by calling a strike, which was confined almost wholly
to Schuylkill county. In this strike, among the first of
a general nature to occur in America, the miners were
defeated, and soon after its termination. Bates, who
had become an object of suspicion to his fellow work-
ers, disappeared, carrying with him the funds of the
association.

Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that
the union of which he had been the head quickly dis-
integrated.

From this time forth, petty labor troubles of local
importance only continued to crop out in various parts
of the region until the Civil War was in progress, when

147



148 HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY.

the price of coal rose in Philadelphia from two dollars
and seventy-eight cents a ton until it finally com-
manded nearly eleven dollars a ton. So many men
were needed for military and naval duties that labor
became scarce and wages correspondingly higher. It
was no uncommon thing during this period of high
prices for competent miners to earn five hundred dol-
lars a month, and they enjoyed the greatest prosperity
in the history of the industry.

But when the war ended, labor again rushed into the
coal fields, the over-supply bringing wages down from
their high former level.

Thereupon the miners organized to resist this re-
duction, brought about by the law of supph'^ and de-
mand; but they failed, although several strikes were
declared.

Appreciating the necessity of having the workmen
knitted together in one strong union in order to cope
successfully with the power of organized wealth, the
labor leaders of the anthracite region, during the sum-
mer of 1868, formed the Workingmen's Benevolent As-
sociation, the first president and controlling spirit of
which was John Siney.

He was rather a large man, with a determined face
and bearing. While being uneducated in the commonly
accepted sense of the term, he was, nevertheless,
shrewd and able, besides being thoroughly honest and
loyal.

By his straightforward methods and his direct,
simple rhetoric he frequently put Franklin B. Gowan,
the brilliant head of the Philadelphia and Reading
coal and railway interests, on the defensive.

Before many months the Workingmen's Benevolent
Association was strongly intrenched in the Lehigh
and Schuylkill regions, virtually controlling the situa-
tion in these fields.



HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY. 149

The building up of the organization was accom-
plished, however, by a cons^tant succession of local
strikes, parleying with operators, temporary resump-
tion of work, and further strikes.

But, while the Lehigh and Schuylkill regions were
tied up hard and fast, the mines of the Wyoming re-
gion were being worked day and night, supplying the
demand for anthracite.

So Siney's men marched across country to Wilkes-
Barre and persuaded the miners there to go on strike.
In this they were so far successful that the operators
of that section agreed to an eight-hour working day,
while those of the lower fields granted a slight increase
in wages.

During the summer of 1869, the union ordered a gen-
eral suspension to enforce the demand for a sliding
scale of wages, based upon the varying prices of coal at
cetain points of shipment and delivery.

After months of idleness, the men gained their point,
and operations were resumed.

Everybody now hoped for a year of peace and work
and wages ; but, early in 1870, the Schuylkill operators
announced a reduction in wages; the union resisted,
and ordered another strike, which was declared off in
August as the result of a compromise.

About this time, many of he independent operators
suffering, from the losses entailed by these conflicts,
together with the discriminations and exactions to
which they were subjected by the transportation inter-
ests, were crushed, and, to save themselves from utter
ruin were forced to turn their properties over to the
control of a few great corporations, which thereby
grew in strength and power.

On January 10, 1871, a general strike was ordered,
continuing until August, and shutting down practically



150 HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY.

every anthracite mine. It was necessary to put troops
in the field to suppress rioting and terrorism, and in
conflict with them several strikers were killed. The
union was utterly defeated, while the men gladly went
back to work on terms laid down by their employers.

Between the strike of 1871 and that of 1875, there
was no general suspension of work, although local
troubles were constantly coming up to be discussed,
debated, and in some manner adjusted.

The conflict of 1875 is generally referred to as the
"Long Strike," and with its adverse termination at
the end of five months, what remained of the power of
the Workingmen's Benevolent Association was com-
pletely broken.

During the continuance of the great railroad strike
of 1877, there was a long period of enforced idleness
in the coal regions, owing to the lack of facilities for
transportation. This resulted in much want and suf-
fering among the miners and their families.

For the span of sixty years, from the beginning of
the coal trade, in 1820, to 1880, the anthracite industry
was dominated almost wholly by native Americans and
by the older immigrant nationalities, the Irish, Eng-
lish, Germans, Scotch and Welsh.

But toward the close of this era, if one with an eye
to racial characteristics had stationed himself at some
high point overlooking the lower or Schuj^lkill section,
he would have seen trinkling into the valleys the begin-
nings of a newer immigration stream, and one that in
later years became so large as to be properly termed
an inundation. These were the first arrivals of the
Slavic and Italian nationalities.

Quietly and peaceably they came, and with ever in-
creasing numbers, gradually spreading over the whole
anthracite region, until, with the lapse of a few de-



HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY. 151

cades, they had largely supplanted the English speak-
ing miners.

Their presence soon wrought important and far-
reaching effects in every phase of the life of the coal
region. Coming at a time when the English-speaking
miners were disorganized and to a large extent de-
moralized as result of the reverses they had sustained
in their efforts to wrest better terms of employment
from the operators, the newcomers served to further
depress the conditions of labor and to reduce the stand-
ards of living.

Notwithstanding the apparent hopelessness of the
situation that now confronted the miners, the cause of
labor was not without its champions, chief among
whom were those of Irish nationality.

Always the first to resent injustice or oppression, the
Irish in the anthracite region, manifesting a total dis-
regard of personal consequences, have from the begin-
ning been in the forefront of every movement calcu-
lated to advance their own interests and those of their
fellow-workers.

It was in 1884 that the Miners' and Laborers' Amal-
gamated Association was organized, and three years
later its membership amounted to about thirty thou-
sand.

During these years, too, the organizers of the
Knights of Labor were actively at work in the anthra-
cite region, and in 1887 the two associations became
one in membership. A demand was then made for an
increase in wages, which was refused by the operators,
who also declined to submit the matter to arbitration.

This resulted in the declaration of a strike, on Sep-
tember 10, 1887, and the closing down of all the mines
of the Lehigh region.



152 HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY.

Temporary concessions were, however, made to the
miners of the Schuylkill region. Upon the withdrawal
of these concessions, on January 1, 1888, they, too,
joined in the strike.

Meanwhile, the mines of the Wyoming field, which
remained in operation, supplied the demand for coal.
During the long, gloomy winter the men on strike
fought heroically against want and the power of the
operators ; but their fight was fruitless.

With the coming of spring, after six months of idle-
ness, they were compelled to acknowledge their de-
feat and return to work. The adverse result of the
conflict sounded the death-knell of the Knights of
Labor in this portion of Pennsylvania.

After nine years of comparative peace, unbroken by
any general strike, although punctuated with unnum-
bered disputes and local difficulties, the strike of 1897
broke out. It began at the coUeries of the Lehigh and
Wilkes-Barre Coal Company, in Banks township,
quickly spreading to other portions of the nearby re-
gion. An increase in wages and various other conces-
rions were demanded.

Among the principal strikers now were those classes
of foreigners who in previous years had been im-
ported to the region by the operators themselves for
the express purpose of enabling them to control the
labor situation.

Marching in large numbers from colliery to colliery,
they coaxed or coerced as many workers as possible
into joining their ranks.

In September, toward the end of the struggle, which
was foredoomed to failure from its inception, owing to
the lack of organization among the men, a band of
marching miners was fired upon at Lattimer by the
sheriff of Luzerne county and his deputies.



HISTOEY OF CARBON COUNTY. ]^53

More than a score of foreigners were killed, while
over forty were wounded. This unfortunate affair led
to the calling out of the National Guard, and soon
thereafter work was resumed at the mines.

Thus every effort which had been made during the
course of a generation to permanently organize the
anthracite mine workers and to ameliorate their lot
had met with disaster.

Each defeat left them a little more hopeless, and the
conditions under which they lived and labored grew
steadily worse.

When, therefore, the region was first visited by the
organizers of the United Mine Workers of America, it
is little wonder that many miners grown old in the
anthracite fields gloomily shook their heads, predicting
that the efforts of the organizers would be of no avail.

But, in 1900, flushed with a great victory in the bitu-
minous fields, and guided by its young and able leader,
John Mitchell, this union, which then had a member-
ship of but eight thousand in the anthracite region de-
clared a general strike. This action, however, was not
taken until the failure of every peaceable effort on the
part of the men to gain some concessions from the
operators.

While the union was not numerically strong, most of
the miners were in sympathy with the movement which
had been inaugurated, and nearly one hundred thou-
sand workers responded to its call on the first day of
the strike. Within two weeks, fully ninety per cent, of
the mine workers in the entire region were idle.

Among those who preferred to remain at work were
the majority of the employes of the Lehigh Coal and
Navigation Company.

And, in candor, it must be said that to a large ex-
tent they were justified, because they were not being



154 HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY.

exploited and oppressed as were the most of their fel-
low workers in other portions of the anthracite fields.

Their course in remaining at work, however, was not
satisfactory to the men who were on strike. During
the month of September, with a view to making the tie-
up more complete, several thousand miners from the
Hazleton district invaded the Panther Creek and Nes-
quehoning Valleys by night, in order to be in a posi-
tion when morning should come, to dissuade the men
from going to their employment.

One party, led by ''Mother" Jones, a noted agitator,
and many other women in carriages, proceeded by way
of Tamaqua, while another division crossed the Broad
mountain to Nesquehoning.

The last named contingent succeeded in closing down
the colliery at Nesquehoning for a single day. But the
host following ''Mother" Jones was met west of Coal-
dale by the state soldiery under Colonel O'Neil, and
was turned back at the point of the bayonet, bloodshed
being narrowly averted. The expedition, therefore,
failed of its object.

The strike occurring at the height of a presidential
campaign, strong political pressure was brought to
bear on the operators in favor of a speedy settlement.

This influence, together with a growing scarcity of
coal and the weight of public opinion, which was on
the side of the miners, finally caused the operators to
yield, granting an increase in wages of ten per cent.,
besides agreeing to reduce the price of powder, to pay
wages semi-monthly in cash and to adjust some of the
other grievances complained of by their employes.

Work was resumed on October 29 after an idleness
of six weeks.

While resulting in a victory for the men, the strike
of 1900 did not solve the problem of the proper rela-



HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY. ;[55

tion of labor and capital in the coal fields. It was felt
on both sides that the outcome was not conclusive, and
preparations were begun for the further struggle
which was certain to come.

The agrressive policy of the operators was evident
from the start. Immediately after the strike, stock-
ades were built about many of the mines, depots were
established for the storage of coal, and washeries were
opened in many places. On the other hand, the men
quickly built up a compact and formidable organiza-
tion and began the accumulation of a war fund.

The settlement which had been reached was guar-
anteed to remain effective only until April, 1901.

It was then renewed by mutual consent for another
year.

At the expiration of this period, the miners, through
their representatives, the officials of the union, de-
manded further concessions in the form of increased
wages, the recognition of their union, and a shorter
work day, together with the payment for coal by weight
wherever practicable.

The absolute refusal of all these demands precipi-
tated the greatest strike in the annals of American in
dustry, entailing enormous financial losses, perma-
nently increasing the price of coal, and inflicting many
hardships upon the miners and the general public.

On May 15, 1902, at a signal, nearly one hundred and
fifty thousand workers dropped their tools, and for
more than five months the conflict raged. Both sides
fought with unflinching determination, the foreign ele-
ment, as in the two previous strikes being particularly
unyielding.

The operators were led by George F. Baer, while the
cause of the miners was again most ably and fairly
championed by John Mitchell.



156 HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY.

Before the restoration of peace, the entire National
Guard of Pennsylvania was stationed in the coal fields.

The warring forces were finally brought together
through the intervention of President Roosevelt, while
the questions at issue were adjusted by the Anthracite
Strike Commission, by him appointed.

Under the award of this body the miners gained a
number of important concessions, and the Anthracite
Conciliation Board which is still in existence, and
which has amicably disposed of many difficulties be-
tween the miners and the operators, was established.

In comparison with the chaos and warfare of former
years, the anthracite region has enjoyed peace and
prosperity since 1902.

The award of the strike commission remained oper-
ative until April 1, 1906, and was twice renewed for a
period of three years, though not without a temporary
suspension of work on each occasion.

In 1912, the representatives of the miners and the
operators met on the friendliest of terms, and it was
apparent that hostility on the part of the latter toward
the union had practically died out.

Operations at the mines were suspended for nearly
two months, however, pending the formation of a new
agreement, under the terms of which the union was
partially recognized for the first time. The men also
received an increase in wages, besides gaining a num-
ber of other points for which they had contended. The
duration of this agreement is fixed at four years.



CHAPTER XII.

STEAM AND ELECTEIC EAILEOADS.

The first railroad in Carbon county, and the first of
any importance in the United States, was the Switch-
back, extending from Mauch Chunk to Summit Hill.
As is well known, this was built as a gravity road, and
is still in existence.

The Beaver Meadow Railroad was the first within
the limits of the county employing steam a& motive
power. It is now a part of the Lehigh Valley system.
The Beaver Meadow Railroad and Coal Company was
incorporated on April 13, 1830.

According to the provisions of its charter, the com-
pany was empowered to build a railroad from the
Beaver Meadow Alines, in what is now Banks township,
to the Lehigh river, at, or near, Mauch Chunk, a dis-
tance of about twenty miles.

Various difficulties beset the projectors of the enter-
prise, chief of which appears to have been their own
lack of confidence in the feasibility of the undertaking.

It was not until 1833 that a definite start was made.

Canvass White, who had been one of the principal
engineers in the building of the Erie Canal, and Ario
Pardee, later a millionaire coal operator of Hazleton,
surveyed the route, which followed the windings of
Beaver, Hazle and Quakake creeks to the Lehigh.

Trouble with the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Com-
pany concerning tolls on the canal led to the determina-
tion on the part of those building the railroad to ex-
tend the line to Easton. The tracks had already been

157



]^58 HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY.

laid as far as Parry ville when an agreement was
reached.

The railroad was opened for transportation in the
fall of 1836, and Parryville was made the shipping
point. It so remained until 1841, when the memorable
freshet carried away all the bridges from Weatherly to
the end of the line, and Mauch Chunk became the termi-
nus, below which the road was abandoned.

Originally wooden rails, covered with an iron strap,
were used, and the locomotives were of the wood-burn-
ing type.

In 1860 another heavy flood occurred, carrying away
a number of bridges, together with the shops of the
company at Weatherly and Penn Haven.

The road gained rapidly in business, however, as the
mines tributary to it were developed, and it grew
steadily more prosperous until absorbed by the Lehigh
Valley Railroad in 1866.

The Lehigh Valley Railroad, which was the first to
be constructed through the length of the region from
which its name is derived, had its inception in the
efforts of a few enterprising and far-seeing men in
Lehigh and Northampton counties, while being brought
to completion and successful operation principally
through the labors and determination of Asa Packer,
its former president and the architect of its greatness.

A charter was secured on April 21, 1846, under the
name of the Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill and Susque
hanna Railroad Company.

In May of that year the stock of the company was
offered for subscription ; but capitalists seemed to have
little faith in the project. Although the promoters of
the enterprise were active, it was not until August,
1847, that enough stock had been subscribed to warrant
a start being made. Five thousand shares had then



HISTORY OF CAEBON COUNTY. ]^59

been taken, on eacli of which an instalment of five dol-
lars had been paid. At the first election of officers,



Online LibraryFred (Frederick Charles) BrenckmanHistory of Carbon County, Pennsylvania; also containing a separate account of the several boroughs and townships in the county, → online text (page 11 of 44)