Fred (Frederick Charles) Brenckman.

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

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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 12 of 44)
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held on October 21, 1847, James M. Porter was chosen
as president.

Little had been done beyond securing the right of
way, when, on April 4, 1851, Asa Packer became a
member of the board of managers. This was just sev-
enteen days before the charter would have expired by
limitation, and soon thereafter a mile of road-bed was
graded near Allentown to forestall this embarrass-
ment. In the following October Mr. Packer purchased
nearly all the stock which had been subscribed and took
steps to obtain the additional money required to finish
the road, which proved to be a difficult task.

He secured the services of Robert H. Sayre, who had
prior to this held a responsible position with the Le-
high Coal and Navigation Company, as chief engineer.

In January, 1853, the name of the corporation was
changed to the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company.

The line between Easton and Allentown was finished
and placed in operation on June 11, 1855. Two trains
were run daily between these points from that date, and
during the month of September the road was com-
pleted to Mauch Chunk.

In the begining, all the rolling stock was leased from
the Central Railroad of New Jersey, but before the
close of 1855 a passenger locomotive and four coaches
were purchased. At the close of three months, re-
ceipts from the passenger service were larger than had
been anticipated, while the earnings from carrying
coal and other freight were kept down from the want
of cars.

Headquarters were first established at Mauch
Chunk; but in 1856 the main offices were removed to


During the next few j'ears a number of advantageous
traffic arrangements were made, adding largely to the
prosperity of the road.

Perhaps the most imj^ortant of these was that pro-
viding for connections with the North Penn Railroad,
opening the way to Philadelphia.

Notwithstanding that the company sustained heavy
damages as a result of the great freshet of 1862, the
career of the road was one of steady growth and ex-
pansion, and before the close of the decade it had
gained control of connecting roads in the Lehigh and
Schuylkill regions and had etfected an entrance to the
Wyoming Valley, whence the line was extended north-
ward to the state line of New York.

In 1866, the Lehigh and Mahanoy Railroad was
merged with the Lehigh Valley. This comprised the
stretch of road from Black Creek Junction, near
Weatherly, to Mt. Carmel, a distance of forty miles.

That i3ortion of the line lying in Carbon countj^ and
now a part of the Mahanoy Division of the Lehigh Val-
le}^ Railroad, was first graded by the Morris Canal and
Banking Company, about 1837. The road had scarcely
been completed and placed in operation when the com-
pany failed, and the rails were taken up and shipped to
Pottsville. The Quakake Valley Railroad, incorpo-
rated in 1857, relaid the tracks during the following
year, and the road was operated tributary to the Cata-
wissa, Williamsport and Erie Railroad for a time. Its
name was changed to the Lehigh and Mahanoy Rail-
road in 1861.

The Hazleton Railroad, connecting with the line of
the Beaver Meadow company, was acquired in 1868.

A branch extending from Lizard Creek Junction to
Pottsville was completed in 1890. The Hay's creek
''cut-off," extending from Ashmore, near Hazleton,


to the main line of the Lehigh Valley, below White
Haven, was opened to traffic in 1912.

Asa Packer remained the president of the company,
though not continuously, until his death in 1879. He
lived to see the Lehigh Valley become one of the fore-
most railroads of the state, more than fulfilling his
fondest expectations, and fully compensating him for
the trials and discouragements which he encountered
in its building and extension.

Under subsequent management it was for a period
less prosperous, but in recent years its securities have
regained favor with investors.

The railroad to-day occupies a commanding position
among the anthracite coal carriers, and is one of the
leading trunk lines between New York and the Great

The Nesquehoning Valley Railroad Company, the
line of which extends from Nesquehoning Junction,
near Mauch Chunk, to Tamanend, Schuylkill county,
a distance of nearly seventeen miles, was organized
on May 14, 1861.

This road was built principally to carry the output
of the mines of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Com-
pany, receiving the traffic which formerly passed over
the Switchback Railroad and the gravity road from
Nesquehoning to Mauch Chunk.

It was subsequently merged with the Lehigh and
Susquehanna Railroad, and is now operated by the
Central Railroad of New Jersey.

The immediate cause of the building of the Lehigh
and Susquehanna Railroad was the freshet of 1862, re-
sulting in the almost complete destruction of the Le-
high Canal between Mauch Chunk and White Haven.
It was generally believed that the giving way of the
dams on this portion of the canal was largely respon-


sible for the ravages of the flood farther down the
valley, which led to the enactment of legislation against
rebuilding them.

In lieu of this right the assembly of Pennsylvania
granted the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company a
charter for a railroad from Mauch Chunk to White
Haven, connecting with a road which had previously
been built from the latter place to Wilkes-Barre.

Later, the company was authorized to build the road
to Easton. When completed, this railroad supplanted
the canal above Mauch Chunk, while largely reliev-
ing its overburdened condition below that point.

In 1871, the Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad was
leased to the Central Railroad of New Jersey, being
still operated by the latter company on this basis.

In 1861, a stretch of railroad was built by the Lehigh
Coal and Navigation Company from Hanto to Ta-
maqua. This connects with the various collieries of
that company in the Panther Creek Valley.

With a view to providing an independent outlet for
its coal to th« eastern markets, this company, in 1912,
completed a line of railroad extending from Tamaqua
through the Lizard Creek Valley and on to Daniel s-
ville, Northampton county, connecting there with the
Leliigh and New England Railroad. This latter road
is also controlled by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation

The Chestnut Ridge Railway, reaching from Palmer-
ton to Kunkletown, Monroe county, was built in 1898.
It is a little more than ten miles in length, and is now
owned by the New Jersey Zinc Company of Pennsyl-

The first electric railway in the county was built by
the Carbon Transit Company, wTiich was incorporated
in 1892. Its line originally extended from Mauch


Chunk to East Maiich Chunk. In 1901, the road was
built to the Flagstaff, and during the following year it
was constructed to Lehighton. This company has been
several times reorganized, and is now known as the
Carbon Street Railway Company.

The Lehigh Traction Company, operating a line
which passes through Jeanesville and Audenried on its
way between Hazleton and McAdoo, was chartered in

The Tamaqua and Lansf ord street railway originally
extended from Summit Hill and Lansford to Tamaqua.
It was built by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Com-
pany. In the fall of 1902 the road was opened to
Mauch Chunk. It is now conducted by the Eastern
Pennsylvania Railways Company.




The earliest settlement in Banks township was made
in that portion which was in 1897 set off to form the
borough of Beaver Meadow. The township was con-
tained "w^ithin the territory of Lausanne until January,
1842, when it was separately organized, being named
in honor of Judge Banks, then on the bench of North-
ampton county, of which Carbon formed a part until

The township is about ten miles in length, from east
to west, and approximately two miles in width. Its
territory comprises the top of the Spring mountain,
varying between fourteen and sixteen hundred feet
above sea level.

Beaver creek has its source near Jeanesville, flowing
eastwardly till it reaches Hazle creek, on the verge of
Lausanne township. Hazle creek rises in the north-
eastern portion of the township and flows southeast-
wardly. The two streams meet at Hazle Creek Junc-
tion, forming Black creek, which descends the moun-
tainside very rapidly on its turbulent way to the Le-

The principal railroads in the township are the
Beaver Meadow and Hazleton divisions of the Lehigh
Valley. The Philadelphia and Reading Railroad and
the Central Railroad of New Jersey also touch the
western portion of the township, while the line of the
Lehigh Traction Company passes through Jeanesville,
Yorktown and Audenried on its way between Hazleton
and McAdoo.



Banks township owes its settlement and develop-
ment wholly to the underlying coal deposits, scarcely
any of its soil being arable.

The mining and shipping of coal being the only in-
dustry of importance, the township has a large foreign

Nathan Beach, of Salem, Snyder county, found coal
in the township in 1812. The discovery was made near
the point where the Leviston station of the Lehigh
Valley Railroad now stands. A mine or quarry was
opened by Beach in 1813 where Cuyle's stripping is
now situated. The first coal produced here was hauled
in wagons to Berwick and Bloomsburg, where it was
used for blacksmithing purposes. As the nature of
anthracite became better understood and the demand
increased, the product of this mine was hauled over
the Lehigh and Susquehanna turnpike to the landing
on the Lehigh, from which point it was shipped to
Philadelphia in "arks," commanding eight dollars
per ton. Mr. Beach, being called upon to defend the
title to his land, in 1829, won the suit, and soon there-
after sold five hundred acres to Judge Joseph Barnes,
of Philadelphia.

The Beaver Meadow Railroad and Coal Company,
soon after its organization, purchased two hundred
acres of land, located where coal had been first dis-
covered, and these workings became known as the
Beaver Meadow Mines. This property was leased to
A. H. VanCleve & Company in 1841, and was operated
by that firm until 1846. William Milnes & Company
then worked the mines for about a year. The firm of
Hamberger & Company then leased them and continued
operations until 1850, after which the mines were
abandoned until 1881, when they were leased to Coxe
Brothers & Company. The property is now controlled
by the Lehigh Valley Coal Company.


Coleraine colliery, now owned and operated by the
A. S. VanWickle Estate, was the second to be opened
in the township. Operations were begun soon after
the opening of the Beaver Meadow Railroad. The firm
of Rich & Cleaver held the first lease.

They were succeeded by Ratcliffe & Johnson, whose
rights were purchased in 1862 by William Carter &
Son. After some years, the property was sold to Wil-
liam T. Carter, his father, the senior member of the
firm, declining to join in the purchase because he be-
lieved that most of the available coal had been ex-

William T. Carter died in 1893, and that his faith in
Coleraine colliery was not misplaced is attested by the
fact that its output during the years of his ownership
had made him a multi-millionaire.

Upon his death the property was sold to A. S. Van-
Wickle for a much larger sum than the elder Carter
had considered excessive twenty-five years before.

Mr. VanWickle was killed by the accidental dis-
charge of a gun he was carrying, in 1898, since which
time operations have been carried on in the name of
the A. S. VanWickle Estate. Approximately 300,000
tons of coal per year have been produced by this col-
liery since 1893. The principal work now, however,
consists in "robbing pillars." There are 366 acres in
the tract.

It is interesting to observe that the coal miner in
Banks township, like the proverbial "Star of the Em-
pire," held his way to the westward.

Jeanesville, the next place to be opened after Cole-
raine, joins the VanWickle tract on the west, while
Tresckow and Yorktown, still farther west in the to^vn-
ship, were developed in harmony with the rule that has
been noted.


Coal was discovered in the immediate vicinity of
Jeanesville by James D. Gallup, who was associated
with the Beaver Meadow Railroad Company. The
property was bought from Joseph H. Newbold, by
Joseph Jeanes and others, of Philadelphia. The pur-
chase price is said to have been $20,000. The original
company let the land to William Milnes, in 1847, re-
ceiving a royalty of twenty-five cents per ton. The col-
liery was soon in operation, and in 1855 the royalty
amounted to $40,000. During the time that Mr. Milnes
operated the mines about 1,500,000 tons of coal were

In 1864, Mr. Milnes' lease having expired, the Spring
Mountain Coal Company was organized, securing con-
trol of the property. Ten years later the Lehigh Val-
ley Coal Company bought out the Spring Mountain
company, and the mines, during the ensuing twenty
years were operated under lease by J. C. Haydon and
Francis Robinson, under the firm name of J. C. Hay-
don & Company. Since 1894 the mines have been
worked directly, though not continuously, by the Le-
high Valley Coal Company.

A large and modern breaker, handling the output
of several nearby collieries, as well as that of the
mines at Jeanesville, was erected in 1909. It is located
just across the line in Luzerne county.

It was at the Number 1 slope at Jeanesville, on Feb-
ruary 4, 1891, that the memorable mine horror, com-
monly known as the ''Jeanesville Disaster," occurred.
Thirteen men were then drowned, while four others,
after having been entombed for twenty days in this
prison of rock and water, cut off from all communica-
tion with the outside world, were brought out alive, in-
voluntary heroes of this industrial tragedy. The
stamina, fortitude, and endurance displayed by these


men under circumstances the most discouraging, we
may well believe, have seldom been equalled in human

The accident was caused in unexpectedly breaking
into an abandoned mine, where a large body of water
had accumulated, and it was this merciless element
that caused all the havoc and destruction. It was
at a little past ten o'clock on the morning of the
fatal day that a blast was fired in a ''breast" or
chamber that was being worked by Charles Boyle and
Patrick Coll. Coll is said to have fired the shot, al-
though it seems that Boyle was looked upon as being
in charge of the work, because in after years he was
familiarly known as "Boylie Tap-the-Water. "

After the echoes of the shot had ceased to reverber-
ate in the gloomy caverns of the fated mine. Coll re-
turned to the face of the chamber, and, using a bar,
began to pry down some loose pieces of coal that were
still hanging to the face. While so engaged he noticed
that the face seemed to be bulging toward him, as
though there was to be a "squeeze" or settling. Not
liking the looks of things, he retreated a few paces,
calling to Boyle, as he did so, to make for a place of
safety. In another instant, to his horror, he saw the
whole face bristling out, and with a roar like that of a
tornado the flood was upon him. Rushing down the
slope with irresistible force the waters, in their mad
career, tore out the timbers of the mine, smashed cars
into fragments and rolled up the tracks as pne would
roll up a long strip of carpet. The rush accompany-
ing the flood blew out every light save one, that of
Harry Gibbon, a driver-boy of about sixteen. Boy-
like, he had just previously pulled out the wick of his
lamp to an inordinate length so as to create a glare
that would outshine that of any of his fellow-workers.


The mingled tide of air and water that swept some
of the men to their doom in the depths of the mine
carried others on its crest up the slope toward the
surface. Among the latter was Harry Gibbon, and
many of the survivors attributed their deliverance
from death to his light, which had enabled them to
avoid being dashed to pieces against obstructions on
their thrilling journey up the slope.

Some of the men, warned of their danger by the
terrible roar of the approaching flood, escaped by
quickly jumping into a ventilating shaft, which led
perpendicularly to the surface. Through this well-like
opening they climbed, hand over hand, and foot over
foot to the top, the flesh of their arms and legs being
painfully bruised and torn by the sharp edges of the
rocks which formed the walls of the shaft.

The news of the accident spread rapidly, carrying
grief and consternation to many hearts.

When composure had in a measure been restored, it
was found that seventeen men were missing. It was
not thought that any of them would be brought to the
surface alive. Such a thing seemed impossible. How-
ever, those in authority determined to do all in their
power to effect the rescue of anyone who in some
manner might have escaped immediate destruction.
All the available pumps were worked at top speed day
and night in the effort to empty the mine of water as
quickly as possible.

One by one the bloated bodies of the victims were
recovered. At the end of twenty days thirteen had
been brought to the surface. The mine was now
pumped dry; but four men were still missing. Never
dreaming that they might be alive, a rescue party,
headed by Superintendent David MacFarlane, was
organized on the afternoon of the twenty-third of Feb-


ruary to search for their bodies. Scenes of wild con-
fusion and disorder met their gaze on every hand as
they penetrated the dark recesses of the mine. Heaps
of wreckage and debris, together with giant boulders,
weiging from one to ten tons, obstructed their pro-
gress. As they were making their way thus laboriously
among the ruins, one of the men thought he heard a
voice that seemed to proceed from the mouth of one
not a member of his party. Feeling somewhat startled
but yet uncertain, he ejaculated: "My God, I believe
there is a man alive down here!" All paused now,
listening intently, and one of the party half-heartedly
called, *' hello!" ''Hello," came the faint reply, and
the men were sure that it was not an echo. ' ' Who are
you?" was the somewhat tremulous demand that was
framed by the lips of the spokesman of the rescue
party. ''I am Joe Matuskowitz," was the reply,
spoken in broken English. "Wassil Finko, John Tom-
askusky, and John Barno are with me. We are not
dead, but nearly so." Words of heartfelt encourage-
ment were spoken to the four men, and the rescue
party was divided, some of the men going to the as-
sistance of the helpless and well-nigh famished miners,
while others hastened to the surface to secure medical
aid and such nourishment and stimulants as were
deemed fit to be given to men who had eaten scarcely
a bite for nearly twenty days.

The four men were lying at the highest point of the
chamber, that had been worked by Joe Matuskowitz.
They escaped being drowned by reason of the fact that
the flood poured down the slope in such volume as to
fill it completely, compressing the air in the breasts
and gangways, and sweeping on to the depths below
in the line of least resistance. As the mine filled up,
the air pressure in these confined places was sufficient
to keep out the water.


When the accident occurred, these four men, who
worked communicating breasts, came together here.
All they had with them to eat was a few sandwiches,
and after this scant supply of rations had become ex-
hausted they were face to face with starvation. The
mine was filled with sulphur water, but this, of course,
was unfit for drinking purposes.

By the rarest chance, however, a blast which had
been fired but a few moments before the flood came,
opened a fissure in the rocks from which a stream of
water, pure, cold and invigorating gushed forth. Of
this the men drank during their confinement, and upon
this they lived.

Under these desperate conditions they passed the
maddening and soul-trying period that intervened be-
tween the date of the accident and their rescue. The
air at first was good, but later it became very un-
wholesome, and before the rescuing party could enter
the chamber it was necessary to brush out the "black
damp" which, like a sinister presence, brooded there.

When the intelligence began to be noised about the
grief-stricken village that the men had been found
alive in the mine, few, indeed, were ready to give
credence to the report. So certain was everyone that
they were dead that their graves had already been dug,
while their coffins were waiting to receive their bodies
at the entrance to the slope.

As the truth began to dawn upon the people, how-
ever, hundreds gathered in awe and reverence at the
portals of the mine, and until the last of the survivors
was brought to the surface, scenes were there enacted
that will live as long as life shall last in the memories
of those who witnessed them.

It was long past midnight of the twenty-third of
February when the work of rescue had been completed.




Then it was that sixty-five miners, most of whom had
taken part in the rescue, filed in solemn procession be-
fore the residence of J. C. Haydon, being dressed in
their work clothes and bearing lighted lamps upon
their heads. There they sang a hymn of praise with
deep feeling and with wonderful effect.

All of the four men recovered, thanks to their won-
derful vitality and to the tender nursing and expert
medical aid they received. Mrs. J. C. Haydon, wife
of the senior member of the firm that was then operat-
ing the mines at Jeanesville, among others, personally
ministered to the men. It was ten days before they
were allowed to partake of solid food.

Joe Matuskowitz, popularly known as ''Big Joe,"
was the only one of the quartette who declined to re-
enter the mines as a means of gaining a livelihood.
He has since said that when he descended the mine
on the morning of the disaster he weighed two hundred
and twenty-five pounds ; but the terrible ordeal through
which he passed reduced his weight to seventy-five
pounds. He is now a prosperous contractor and
builder at Hazleton.

The Jeanesville horror was caused by a faulty sur-
vey, made by the mining engineers.

Tresckow was the next place in Banks township
where mining was begun after the opening of the mines
at Jeanesville. The German Pennsylvania Coal Com-
pany began operations here in 1851. They sank a
slope, built a breaker, and erected a tavern, store, and
several dwelling houses. After a few years the prop-
erty came under the control of Samuel Bonnell, Jr., of
New York city. He operated the mines for two years,
and then sold out to the Honey Brook Coal Company,
which was incorporated April 23, 1864. Ten years
later, the Central Railroad of New Jersey formed the


Lehigh and Wilkes-Barre Coal Company, by which the
Honey Brook Coal Company was then absorbed. There
has been no change in ownership since that time. The
coal produced at Tresckow is prepared for shipment at
the Audenried breaker of the company. Two slopes
are now being worked, and large improvements are
promised for the near future.

The Lehigh and Wilkes-Barre Coal Company also
has operations at Audenried and at Honey Brook,
the breakers being located just across the line in
Schuylkill county.

The tract of two hundred and two acres on which
the Spring Brook colliery of the Lehigh Valley Coal
Company is now located originally belonged to Chris-
tian Kunkle. N. P. Hosack bought the property for
$30,000. He failed financially after a few years, and
the New York and Lehigh Coal Company secured title
to the land, being still the owner.

In the summer of 1855 James Taggart secured a
lease on the property. He sank the first slope on the
Big Vein, and in 1856 shipped the first coal from this
point over the Beaver Meadow Eailroad. This slope
was drowned out in 1860, remaining idle for four

A second slope was sunk in 1858, and George K.
Smith & Company leased the mines soon thereafter.
Mr. Smith was assassinatel in 1863. The lease was
continued by Thomas Hull, a member of the firm, until

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 12 of 44)