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 15 of 44)
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 15 of 44)
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timber, and it is one of the most sparsely populated
sections of the county.

Lumbering operations on an extensive scale were
begun in the forties. One of the largest of the early
landholders was Mahlon K. Taylor, of Bucks county,
who owned over six thousand acres about the mouth
of Hickory run, where he had a store and a wharf.
About 1845 he sold a portion of his holdings to Israel
Day and Samuel Saylor, of Easton, who were promi-
nent among the lumbermen of the township for many
years.

It was at one of the mills of Mahlon K. Taylor &
Company, near Saylorsville, that a large dam gave way
during a freshet in 1847, resulting in the loss of seven
lives.

Among the best-known lumbermen along Hickory
run were Isaac and Samuel Gould. A settlement, which
came to be known as Hickory Eun sprang up about
their operations. A postoffice was here established,
while a Methodist church and a school house were
erected.

Saylorsville, another lumber camp on Hickory run,
was named for Samuel Saylor, of the firm of Day &
Saylor, who owned mills at this place.

Leonardsville, which to-day is only a name, grew up
about the mills of John Burke, who became the owner
of the land in the vicinity about 1850. The place de-
rived its name from William Leonard, who was the
owner's foreman.

Bridgeport dates back to 1856, when Keck, Childs &
Company began cutting timber on a tract of several



HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY. 207

thousand acres, purchased from George M. Hollenbeck,
who had previously erected a small saw-mill at the
mouth of Hays creek.

A portion of this tract was soon thereafter sold to
Thomas Smull & Company, who built a large tannery
thereon. This plant was greatly enlarged in 1860, giv-
ing it a capacity of eighty thousand hides a year. This
was then the largest tannery in the country. The vil-
lage which was built about this establishment was
named Lehigh Tannery. A postoffice was here estab-
lished in 1866. The ownership of the tannery changed
hands several times, being last operated by I. M. Hol-
comb & Company. It was destroyed by fire in 1875, and
the supply of bark in the vicinity having become prac-
tically exhausted, it was not rebult. The inter-county
bridge across the Lehigh at this point was built in 1868.

Albrightsville lies about fifteen miles northeast of
Mauch Chunk, being situated on the southern border
of the township. In 1844 Joseph Serfass built a tavern
here, which he kept until 1850. He also started a store
in an adjoining building which was kept for many
years. The tavern is now kept by Herbert Getz. David
Snyder was the first postmaster at Albrightsville. The
postmaster now is Emery Getz, who conducts a store
just across the line in Penn Forest township.

Mud Run, situated at the junction of the stream of
that name with the Lehigh river, is a station on the
Lehigh Valley Railroad. Formerly there were many
saw mills along the stream from this point to Albrights-
ville.

Mud Run will long be remembered as the scene of
one of the most disastrous wrecks In the history of
railroading, entailing the loss of sixty-six lives, and
costing the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company, on the



208 HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY.

line of which the catastrophe occurred, hundreds of
thousands of dollars in settlement of damage claims.

The accident took place on the night of October 10,
1888, and those whose lives were thus suddenly and
horribly snuffed out were chiefly residents of the Wy-
oming and Lackawanna Valleys.

On the day in question the various Catholic temper-
ance societies of the Scranton diocese held their annual
parade in Hazleton, and excursion trains carrying thou-
sands of people from Wilkes-Barre, Scranton and near-
by towns were run over the road by way of Penn Haven
Junction to the place of the pageant.

Eeturning, the first train left Hazleton at five o'clock
in the evening, and other sections followed at intervals
of ten minutes. The first four trains reached their des-
tination in safety, while the fifth halted for a few
minutes in obedience to orders at Mud Run. While
this train was standing still on the track near the
station, the sixth section, drawn by two locomotives
which were in charge of Harry E. Cook, of Wilkes-
Barre, and Thomas Major, of East Mauch Chunk, who
failed to see any signal of warning until too late, ap-
proached at high speed and crashed into the rear end
of the forward train with appalling results.

The coaches of the stationary train were literally
rent asunder by the terrible impact of the collision,
while the scene of horror that ensued cannot be de-
picted. AVhen the onrushing train came to a stand-
still, the pilot and boiler of the locomotive which was
leading were heaped with the bodies of the dead and
dying. To add to the misery of those who had escaped
immediate destruction in the collision fire broke out
amid the ruins of the wreck, and some were roasted
to death. Fifty-seven people were killed outright,
while nine others subsequently died from their injuries,



HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY. 209

and many were maimed for life. Thirty-six of those
killed were members of a boys' drill corps from Avoca,
a town which then numbered but three hundred fami-
lies, and which is situated midway between Wilkes-
Barre and Scranton. The accident occurred at about
eight o'clock, while the night was intensely dark, ren-
dering the rescue of the wounded doubly difficult.

Cook and Major, the enginemen of the last section,
were nearly crazed by the magnitude of the catas-
trophe for which they no doubt feared they would be
blamed, and they spent the night in hiding in the woods.
An effort was subsequently made to fasten the respon-
sibility for the wreck upon them. They were charged
with criminal negligence, and were placed on trial at
the April term of court in 1889 ; both were acquitted.

At the time of the accident, Major was a young man
of about thirty-six years; so great was the mental
strain under which he labored, however, that when he
appeared in court at the opening of the trial, six months
later, his hair was white as snow, and he walked with
the feeble and tottering step of an old man.

Kidder township, in common with other nearby dis-
tricts, suffered an irreparable loss in the destruction
of its forests by the great fire of 1875. The fire broke
out near the mouth of Mud run on the 14th of May,
and at first burned but slowly. Eight days later, how-
ever, driven by a strong west wind, it swept eastward
into Monroe county with ruinous results, destroying
not only the major portion of the standing timber in the
territory visited by the flames, but reducing to ashes
many homes, mills, and other improvements, besides
large quantities of logs and sawed lumber. Of the land
thus denuded of its timber, which was the principal
natural resource of the district, but a small portion has
since been improved or placed under cultivation.



2X0 ' HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY.

Where the forests formerly stood, huckleberries now
grow in great profusion, and these are gathered and
marketed on a scale of some importance. Numerous
small birch and wintergreen distilleries have also
grown up, their aggregate output equaling that of any
district of similar size in the United States.

Game and fish are quite plentiful in the township,
the sparse population making it possible for the bear
and the deer to live here.

In 1903, the Hayes Creek Trout Company was
formed by a number of men from Freeland, Pa., and
a hatchery was established on the stream of that name,
about three miles east of White Haven. The company
owns 880 acres of land at this point. Fifty acres of
this land is covered with small ponds, and other im-
provements connected with the hatchery, while the re-
mainder serves as a game preserve.

The region about Lake Harmony has in recent years
become quite popular as a summer resort. Numerous
cottages or bungalows have been erected, principally
by people from Mauch Chunk and AUentown, while
many, lured by the cool breezes and quietness of the
retreat, spend a portion of the heated term of each
year as campers on the shores of the lake. The alti-
tude of the locality is quite high, and the nights are
always cool; the lake itself is over a mile in length,
while at some places the water is very deep. It is
drained by the Tobyhanna creek.

Kidder township has four schools, located respec-
tively at Albrightsville, Hickory Eun, Lehigh Tannery,
and on Hayes creek, near the trout hatchery. There
are three taverns — the American Hotel and the Wer-
nett House at Albrightsville, and the Valley House at
Lehigh Tannery.



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HISTORY OP CARBON COUNTY. 211

St. Paul's Lutheran church at Albrightsville, was
erected in 1882. Missionaries of that denomination
preached in this vicinity as early as 1847.

The members of the Evangelical church also con-
duct services here.

LANSFOBD BOROUGH.

Lansford, the most populous town in Carbon county,
is situated in the heart of the richest anthracite coal
district in the world. It is located in the Panther Creek
Valley, on the line of Schuylkill county, nearly midway
between Mauch Chunk and Tamaqua, and is reached by
the Central Eailroad of New Jersey. It bears the
middle name of Asa Lansford Foster, who was born
in Massachusetts, and who was prominently connected
with the development of the mining industry of the Le-
high region. He was the leading spirit in the formation
of the Buck Mountain Coal Company, and drove one
of the first tunnels in the Panther Creek Valley, being
one of the foremost authorities on the geology of the
coal regions. His death occurred in 1868, in the sev-
enty-first year of his age. An appropriate memorial
marks his resting place in the cemetery at Mauch
Chunk.

Lansford had its beginnings in two mining hamlets,
known as Ashton and Storm Hill, and grew up as new
operations were begun by the Lehigh Coal and Naviga-
tion Company, which owns the mines through this val-
ley. Storm Hill was so designated because a house
built in the vicinity by a man named Peter Fisher blew
over in a severe storm.

David Williams, a Welshman, who came from Hazle-
ton, and who was an expert geologist, planned and
supervised the driving of some of the first tunnels in
this section. Operations were begun about 1838.



VI 9 HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY.

Planes were built from the valley to the mountain top
at Summit Hill, whence the coal was transported to
Mauch Chunk over the Switchback Railroad. The first
coal was carried up these planes in 1846, but it was not
until a few years later that the tunnels in the valley
produced much coal.

The growing importance of the new mines, the build-
ing of the Nesquehoning Valley Railroad, early in the
sixties, the driving of the tunnel through the mountain
between Hanto and this place, furnishing easy access
to the outside world, all contributed to the rapid growth
of Lansford and operated to draw life away from the
parent town of Summit Hill.

During 1870-71, the construction and repair shops
and the offices of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Com-
pany were removed from Summit Hill to Lansford, fur-
ther emphasizing the tendency alluded to.

Land in the beginning was cheap, and lots were then
sold for one hundred dollars which to-day, in some in-
stances, are valued at more than twenty thousand dol-
lars.

Some of the early residents of the place, realizing its
possibilities and discounting the future, amassed snug
fortunes through this tremendous increase in the value
of real estate.

Those who first located here were principally of the
Welsh, Irish and Scotch nationalities; but in later
years, as in other towns of the coal regions, representa-
tives of the countries of southern Europe have pressed
in with increasing numbers.

For more than thirty-five years, William D. Zehner,
who had his offices here, was the superintendent of the
Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company. He retired in
1906, being succeeded by Baird Snyder, Jr., who re-
signed early in 1912.



HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY. 213

During the early days the stores here were conducted
by the company, giving little scope to individual enter-
prise in this direction. With the abandonment of the
companj" stores, however, numerous and varied busi-
ness establishments sprang up. Among the first to
enter the field were : Albert J. Thomas, J. C. Edwards,
C. C. Edwards, A. M. Neumiller, Charles Kline, Reese
Watkins, Howell Evans, John Quinn, D. R. Davis, D. J.
Mathew, D. R. Hughes, William Y. Evans, and E. War-
ren & Company. Some of these are still among the
prominent business men of the town.

The postoffice here was established on December 1,
1873, under the name of Ashton, with Thomas W. Wil-
liams as postmaster. It was thus designated until early
in 1877, when the town was incorporated as a borough
and the name changed to Lansf ord. Prior to this Lans-
ford formed a part of Mauch Chunk township. The
place is divided into three wards, named East, Middle
and West, respectively.

Since 1897 the postoffice has been in charge of Nathan
Tanner, a veteran of the Civil war. This office was
designated as a postal savings bank during the summer
of 1911. Free delivery of the mail was inaugurated in
the fall of 1912.

As in other respects, the schools of the town were
controlled by the township authorities until 1877.

The first school building to be put up under the au-
thority of the borough was erected in the Middle ward
in 1879. It is still in use, and is known as the "high
school" building. Two buildings have since been
erected in the East ward, and one in the West ward.
The schools were but partially graded until 1878, when
L. Huber was appointed to the principal ship. He was
followed by A. G. C. Smith, now superintendent of the
schools of Delaware county. The position of borough



214 HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY.

superintendent of schools was created in li903, with A.
A. Killian as the incumbent. Two years later he was
succeeded by E. E. Kuntz, the present superintendent.

Under the requirements of the state department of
public instruction, the high school of the place was
raised to the first class in 1903. A good library is main-
tained in connection with the school, and the physical
and chemical departments are fairly well equipped.

The parochial schools of St. Michael's (Slovak)
Catholic church were opened in 1906. They are at
present taught by seven Sisters of the Sacred Heart.
Several hundred children are in attendance.

The first attempt to light the streets by means of elec-
tricity was made directly by the borough, but the serv-
ice was unsatisfactory, while the cost was excessive, as
is commonly the case under municipal management.

On nights when the moon shone, there were no lights
at all, while at other times they were turned off at
midnight. Yet the cost of each light per year was one
hundred and fifty dollars.

After some years, the community grew impatient
with this state of affairs, and disposed of its plant to
the Panther Valley Heat, Power and Electric Light
Company for ten thousand dollars. This company was
chartered on February 20, 1893, and has since given
the town good service at reasonable rates. Under its
management incandescent lights were installed in the
homes and business establishments of Lansford, and
charges were based on the quantity of electricity fur-
nished, as indicated by a meter. During the first ten
years street lights, which were now kept burning dur-
ing the whole of each night, were supplied at the rate
of one hundred dollars each by the year. At the ex-
piration of this period the price was reduced to ninety-
five dollars for each light.



HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY. 215

By extending its system to other towns in the Pan-
ther Creek Valley, the company has been enabled to
give still cheaper service, and is now providing street
lights at an annual cost of sixty-five dollars each.
George M. Davies is the president of the company.

From the beginning Lansford has been supplied
with water by the Panther Valley Water Company
which is controlled by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation
Company.

The town is protected from fire by the American Fire
Company, organized in 1887, but not incorporated until
1894.

In 1894 a brick building costing twelve thousand dol-
lars was erected by the borough. This is the home of
the fire department and the meeting place of town
council.

The municipality has always been liberal in its sup-
port of the fire department, which is well organized
and equipped with modern apparatus.

The sewer system has been extended from time to
time in keeping with the growth of the town.

Much of the revenue required in the making of mu-
nicipal improvements has been derived from taxing
the underground wealth, a source of income which but
few towns have.

The mammoth vein here is in some instances three
hundred feet thick, while shafts have been sunk to the
depth of a thousand feet without reaching the basin,
or the bottom of the coal.

Among the important factors which have contributed
to make Lansford a town of homes have been the build-
ing and loan associations, the first of which, in this
vicinity, was the Fidelity, of Summit Hill. A number
of others have followed, and all have been honestly
and successfully managed.



215 HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY.

The Panther Valley Building and Loan Association,
now performing useful service, was organized in 1903.

The Miners' Bank, which had previously existed at
Summit Hill, was removed to Lansford in 1880, and
was the first monetary institution in the place. The
bank failed in 1883.

The First National Bank of Lansford was chartered
in 1899. Its capital in the beginning was fifty thousand
dollars, which was doubled in 1909. The bank now has
deposits of over a million dollars, and has a large sur-
plus fund. The present building was erected in 1904.
A. J. Thomas has been the president of the institution
from the start, while W. H. Kohler and C. Fred Kline
have served as cashiers.

The Citizens' National Bank was chartered in 1903,
having a capital of fifty thousand dollars. It did busi-
ness in rented quarters until 1909, when a splendid
building, costing forty thousand dollars was built and
occupied. A surplus of over thirty thousand dollars
has been earned by the bank. T. J. Nusbaum and M.
A. Whetstone originally served as president and cash-
ier, respectively. Andrew Brislin is now the president,
while W. J. Davis is cashier.

A number of private bankers, dealing principally
with foreigners, also do a thriving business, while a
dime savings bank has recently been established.

The Carbon Telephone Company, having numerous
subscribers in Lansford, Summit Hill and Coal Dale,
had its inception nearly twenty years ago. Originally
it was termed the Summit Hill and Lansford Tele-
phone Company. The present company, the stock of
which is held locally, was formed in 1899. William
Schneider was the first president. The company's
lines connect with those of the Consolidated and the
American Union telephone companies.




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HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY. 217

The first newspaper to be published here was the
Summit Hill and Lansford Record, first issued from
Summit Hill. It had been in existence less than five
years, when, in 1880, its owner and editor, the late
J. W. Malloy established himself in Lansford. He was
one of the best known among Carbon county's news-
paper men, and wielded a trenchant pen. His death
occurred in 1910, since which time the active manage-
ment of the paper has devolved upon William Gormley.
It was formerly Democratic, but in recent years it has
manifested independent tendencies. It is issued
weekly.

The Lansford Leader, which is also a weekly, began
its career under its present proprietor and editor, Lin-
coln Davis, in the spring of 1893. This is an inde-
pendent Republican journal. Both papers maintain
large job jDrinting establishments.

Lansford is connected with the neighboring towns
by means of an excellent electric railway system.
This road was placed in operation between here and
Tamaqua, Schuylkill county, on October 25, 1897.

The pioneer hotel man of Lansford was George
Evans, who opened the Lansford House. He was the
father of Thomas Evans, now conducting that popular
hostelry. George H. Holvey built the Mansion House,
while the American House was built by John B. Jones.

The religious history of Lansford begins with the
Welsh Congregational church. This congregation
was organized in 1848. The church edifice, built in
1850, was dedicated on Christmas Day. The most in-
fluential person in the establishment of the church was
David Williams, who has already been refered to in
connection with the early development of the mines
hereabouts. He was a man of good moral character
and organized the first Sunday school in the place.



218 HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY.

This preceded the church, of which it was the fore-run-
ner, by about ten years. From the beginning, services
in this church have been conducted in the Welsh
tongue. For nearly a generation there was no other
church in the town, and people of other denominations
worshipped here or attended services at Summit Hill
and elsewhere. The original building, which has
several times been remodeled and improved, is still
standing. The first regular pastor of the congrega-
tion was Rev. William Thomas. Rev. F. Tilo Evans
has been stationed here for more than twenty years.

The English Congregational church was organized
in 1872 in response to the demands of those who
wished to hear preaching in the English language, and
who had formerly attended the Welsh church.

The present building was dedicated in 1881 by Rev.
Henry Ward Beecher, the famous Brooklyn divine.

Manv of the Lansford churches were established as
missions by the churches of Summit Hill. First among
the number was the First Baptist church, founded
about 1872. Its first building stood where the West
Ward school house now stands. In 1888 the church
was torn down and rebuilt on the present location.
Rev. Allen J. Morton was the first pastor.

In 1880 Rev. Robert H. Kline, rector of St. Philip's
church at Summit Hill, began holding services here.
The mission thus established resulted in the organiza-
tion of Trinity Episcopal church, the cornerstone of
which was laid on Trinity Sunday, 1896. The building
was not consecrated until 1899.

Members of the Evangelical Association held ser-
vices at this place as early as 1872.

A church building put up in 1887 was later sold. The
United Evangelical church was built in 1895.



HISTORY OF CARBON tt)UNTY. 219

St. Michael's (Slovak) Roman Catholic congrega-
tion was started by Eev. William Heinan, of East
Mauch Chunk, in 1891. The building which was then
begun was destroyed by fire in 1907. Preparations
were at once made by the pastor, Rev. Joseph Kas-
parek, and his people to erect a more substantial
structure. This new building, costing one-hundred and
fifty thousand dollars, was dedicated with pomp and
pageantry by Archbishop Edmund F. Prendergast on
Thanksgiving Day, 1911.

St. John's Greek Catholic congregation was organ-
ized in 1892, when a frame building was put up. A
large brick edifice erected in 1906 was destroyed by
fire three years later. Under Rev. Gabriel Martyak,
the pastor in charge, the present magnificent building
of buff brick was completed, the corner-stone having
been laid in 1910.

The first Methodist church here stood in the woods
east of the town, later being removed to the site of the
present building, which was dedicated in 1890 by
Chaplain C. C. McCabe.

Emmanuel 's Reformed church was started as a mis-
sion of St. Paul's, of Summit Hill, by Rev. A. P. Horn
in 1894. Services were first held in the Lansford Ly-
ceum.

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran church came into
being during the same year, belonging to the charge at
Summit Hill, and being organized by Rev. H. D. Sie-
bott. The present building was erected in 1895.

A Sunday school which was started by Nathan Pat-
terson in 1851, and of which Andrew Weir was the first
superintendent, was the forerunner of the First Pres-
byterian church, organized in 1896. A church building
was not put up until 1901, while Rev. Alexander D.
Bateman was the first regular pastor. Both the Sun-



220 HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY.

day school and the church have always been self-sup-
porting.

St. John's (Slovak) Evangelical Lutheran church
was started as a mission in 1903, and St. Peter's and



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 15 of 44)