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 20 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 20 of 44)
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was established in 1867, conducting business prosper-
ously under that title until 1882, when the Linderman
National Bank was chartered. As has been shown,
this bank was merged with the present national bank.

The first newspaper issued here was the Lehigh
Pioneer and Mauch Chunk Courier, which was estab-
lished by Asa Lansford Foster in 1829. Its editor and
publisher was Amos Sisty, who came to this place from
Berwick. This was the forerunner of the Mauch Chunk
Daily Times and was for years the only newspaper in
the Lehigh coal region.

It had many owners, and was successively known as
the Mauch Chunk Courier, the Carbon County Transit,
the Mauch Chunk Gazette, and the Mauch Chunk Coal

During the Rebellion, its equipment was for a time
used by H. V. Morthimer in the publication of the
Union Flag.

The Mauch Chunk Daily Times was started by 0. B.
Sigley in 1883. In 1908 the property was acquired by
James J. Boyle, the present editor and proprietor, who
also publishes the Mauch Chunk Coal Gazette.

Enos Tolen, in 1847, founded the Carbon Democrat,
which after many changes and vicissitudes gave birth
to the Mauch Chunk Daily Neivs.

Joseph Lynn became the owner of this paper in 1870,
changing its name to the Mauch Chunk Democrat. In


1878 E. H. Rauch started a rival paper known as the
Carbon County Democrat. After a few years the
papers were merged under the name of the former.
Mr. Rauch soon acquiring the ownership. He and his
son, Lawrence, the present owner of the Mauch Chunk
Daily News started that journal in 1893, and under the
latter, the Mauch Chunk Democrat was published until
1911, when it was suspended.

The first regularly organized school in Mauch Chunk
was opened in 1821 in a log-house owned by the Lehigh
Coal and Navigation Company. It was taught by
Margaret Saunders, a native of New Jersey. Two
years after this, a second school was opened, which, in
later years, was presided over by James Nowlins "The
Irish School Master," who had many eccentricities, and
who was one of the most picturesque characters in the
early annals of the town. The "Slab School House"
was built in 1824, being subsequently lathed and pebble-
dashed. In addition to Nowlins, Amos Singley and
Joseph H. Siewers were prominent teachers prior to
the organization of the borough. In 1840, the ' ' Valley
School House" which occupied the site of the present
high school building was erected, being then consid-
ered as a model of its kind. The pioneer school of
Upper Mauch Chunk was established about 1842.

The high school of the borough was founded in 1855,
being originally located in a building which had form-
erly belonged to Park Seminary, a private school,
which, after a short career was closed owing to a lack
of patronage. The expense of maintaining the high
school was at first equally apportioned between the
borough and those attending the school.

During the winter of 1858, a new schoolhouse was
built at the Northern Liberties, just north of the point
where the bridge crosses the river to East Mauch


Chunk. This was afterwards known as the "Fort
Sumpter School."

At the time of the Eebellion this little settlement con-
tained fourteen homes and two boarding houses, and
more than forty-five volunteers went forth from here
in defense of the Union. Most of these were of Irish
birth or extraction. Strangely enough, the same lo-
cality also furnished one soldier for the Confederate

The first principal of the schools of the borough upon
whom supervisory powers were conferred was Laird
H. Barber, in 1877.

Among those still living who as instructors contrib-
uted notably to the success of the schools of Mauch
Chunk, is James W. Swank, famous as a penman, now
of Washington, D. C.

The high school building now in use was completed
in 1885, costing nearly forty thousand dollars. In 1905
the Asa Packer School, in Upper Mauch Chunk was
dedicated, being furnished, equipped and decorated by
Mary Packer Cummings, the daughter of him in whose
honor the building is named.

She was the most liberal friend of the cause of
popular education in the history of the town, regularly
contributing several thousand dollars annually toward
the maintenance of the schools, besides making many
additional contributions.

The excellent equipment and the high standard of
efficiency of the educational system of the borough has
largely been made possible through her generosity.
Her death occurred in 1912.

The parochial schools conducted by the church of the
Immaculate Conception were established in 1884, dur-
ing the rectorshij^ of Rev. M. A. Bunce.


Mauch Chunk has a very thorough fire-fighting or-
ganization consisting of three well equipped and dis-
ciplined companies, the nucleus of which was formed
in 1833.

The oldest of these organizations is Marion Hose
Company No. 1, formed in 1853. After a short period
the company disbanded, and the citizens of the town
did fire duty without organization until 1866, when the
company was re-organized.

The Phoenix Hose Company had its inception in
1868. After some years this company also disbanded,
being re-organized in 1872.

In 1874 the Diligent Fire Company of Upper Mauch
Chunk was founded. Asa P. Blakslee is the present
chief of the fire department of the borough.

The oldest hotel in the place is the Mansion House,
which was first known as the Mauch Chunk Inn. Va-
rious additions have been built to the stone structure
which comprised the original building. Edward Kim-
ball was the first regularly installed landlord of this
famous hostelry, which in the days of its splendor was
frequented by the wealth and beauty of America.

Formerly, too, it was the anthracite coal exchange,
the operators from all parts of the hard coal regions
gathering here periodically in the conduct of their busi-
ness and for the adjustment of their affairs.

Mr. Kimball was succeeded by John Leisenring, Sr.,
who was a very popular landlord. The building was
owned by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company
until 1873, when the title was vested in the Mansion
House Hotel Company. It is now the property of D. E.
Purcell and William Dods.

Cornelius Connor, in 1833, erected the White Swan
Hotel on the site now occupied by the American House.
This was a frame structure, and was destroyed by the


fire of 1849, after which event the present building,
which has since been enlarged, was put up.

One of the landmarks of Mauch Chunk in by-gone
days was the Broadway House, which stood on the spot
where the building of the Young Men's Christian As-
sociation has since been erected. It was surrounded
by towering pines, while the great rocks protruding
from the ground around its base gave it a wild and
picturesque appearance. This hotel was built by
Daniel Bertsch in 1833. It was while seated within its
hospitable portals, gazing at the terraced gardens on
the opposite side of the street, that a traveling man
once remarked : "Well, I have seen places before hav-
ing eleven-story buildings, but this is the only town
with eleven-story gardens that I have ever visited!"

The Central Hotel, which is owned by Peter Schwei-
binz, was built in 1889.

The first' religious services held in Mauch Chunk,
aside from the meetings of the Friends, or Quakers,
who were among the earliest settlers, were conducted
in the wheel-wright shop of James McCrea at the
"Bear Trap," where the opera house now stands.

The locality was thus designated by the pioneers of
the town, after the waggish remark of one of Josiah
White's workmen, who, being questioned by some
curious strangers concerning the purpose of an experi-
mental contrivance that was being tested in the creek
at this point, replied: "We are making a bear trap."

The organization which had its meeting place here
was known as a Lord's Day school, of which James
Biggers was superintendent. From this source sprang
a neat frame church, the pulpit of which was open to
all denominations. It eventually became the property
of the Methodists, who, in the autumn of 1828, effected





Interior St. Mark's Church, Mauch t'lii xk. Sjiowing Packer
^Memorial Altar and Reredos.


a church organization. William Coder, a local
preacher, was the father of this congregation. Origi-
nally the church formed a part of a six weeks ' circuit,
embracing the countrj^ between the boundaries indi-
cated by the Delaware river, Stroudsburg, the Broad
mountain and Pottsville. In 1838 Mauch Chunk be-
came for the first time a station. The present build-
ing, the third that has been owned by this congrega-
tion was dedicated early in 1874 by the late Bishop

St. Mark's Protestant Episcopal parish, the mother
of nearly all the churches of this denomination in the
Lehigh Valley, was organized in May, 1835. The con-
gregation had its inception in the year 1829, when Wil-
liam H. Sayre, who had come to Mauch Chunk from
Columbia county, began its upbuilding. He served as
lay reader until a clergyman was called.

In 1836 the parish was admitted into union with the
Diocese of Pennsylvania, while three years thereafter
the Sunday school was organized. The first church
edifice was begun in 1840, completed in 1845, and con-
secrated in 1852. The present building, which is de-
signed with special reference to the surrounding scen-
ery and which is one of the most beautiful and impos-
ing structures of its kind in Pennsylvania, was begun
in 1867, being consecrated two years later.

The Packer memorial altar and reredos, a costly
work of art, and the crowning feature of the interior
of the church, was erected by the family of the late Asa
Packer, one of the founders, and for many years a
vestryman and warden of St. Mark's.

The parish building, adjoining the church, which is
a model of its kind, was also built as a memorial to Asa
Packer, the donor being his widow, Sarah M. Packer.


This parish has always taken an active part in
diocesan affairs, and has manifested a lively interest
in the general work of the church.

Various affluent members of the church have left it
liberal bequests, and it now is richly endowed.

The First Presbyterian church was organized in No-
vember, 1835. During that year. Rev. Richard Web-
ster, then located at Easton, and engaged in mission-
ary work far and near, began preaching here once a
month. Nominally he was the founder of the church,
and he served as its pastor until 1856.

The first church building of the congregation was
dedicated in 1837. It was small and was built of stone,
being soon outgrown. The present fine building was
begun in 1855, and was completed and dedicated four
years later.

Like St. Mark's, this congregation has had many
prominent and wealthy families on its rolls, and they
have given freely and largely to the church and its

The land upon which the first church of the Immacu-
late Conception was built was acquired by Rev. Pat-
rick J. Hennegan in 1849; the erection of the church
building was begun during the following year.

The history of Mauch Chunk as an independent
parish begins with the pastorate of Rev. P. J. Coffey,
who came here in April, 1853. It was during his time
that the Asiatic cholera desolated the region. The
good priest was assisted in giving the last rites of the
church to the victims of this dread scourge by the ven-
erable Bishop Neuman, of Philadelphia, the only Amer-
ican whose name has yet been invested with the honors
of sainthood under the authority of the Catholic


The cornerstone of the magnificent new church was
laid during the rectorship of the present pastor, Rev.
T. J. Larkin, on June 24, 1906; and the building was
dedicated on October 4, 1908.

The Church of the Sacred Heart at Nesquehoning
forms a part of this parish.

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran church was organ-
ized in 1857 by Rev. E. A. Bauer. Services of this de-
nomination were conducted in Mauch Chunk as early
as 1835 by Rev. F. W. Meendson. The first house of
worship owned by the congregation was the old stone
church which had formerly belonged to the Presby-
terians. Its present building in Upper Mauch Chunk
was dedicated in 1879.

Ebenezer United Evangelical church was built in
1895, the congregation being the offspring of the
church of the Evangelical Association, which was
founded in Upper Mauch Chunk in 1857.

Henry H. Webster, son of the founder of the First
Presbyterian church, was the leading spirit in the
establishment of the local branch of the Young Men^s
Christian Association.

The present society originated in a Railroad Men's
Christian Association which was formed by Mr.
Webster in Upper Mauch Chunk in the Spring of
1878. This organization was succeeded by that which
is now in existence in 1889. The home of the associa-
tion at the time of its dedication, in 1894, was one of
the finest in the United States. The building, together
with the location, cost nearly seventy-thousand dol-
lars, which sum was raised by popular subscription.

Concert Hall, or the Opera House, owned by the mu-
nicipality, and opened in 1882, was built jointly by the
borough and a number of public-spirited citizens. It


stands upon ground formerly occupied by the market
house and town hall.

The Dimmick Memorial Library, which contains
about twelve thousand volumes, was built from a fund
bequeathed to the town by Milton M., son of Milo M.
Dimmick, a prominent Mauch Chunk lawyer and for-
mer congressman, whose name it commemorates. The
giver died in 1886, while the library was completed in
18190. The original fund amounted to forty-five thou-
sand dollars, which sum, by judicious handling, has
now been increased to fifty thousand dollars.

Mauch Chunk Lodge, No. 76, Independent Order of
Odd Fellows, is the oldest among the secret societies
of the town. It was instituted in 1842.

There are three bodies of the time honored Masonic
fraternity in the place. Carbon Lodge, No. 242, was
chartered on December 27, 1849. Lilly Chapter, No.
181, Eoyal Arch Masons, was constituted on December
6, 1855, being named in honor of General William
Lilly. Packer Commandery, No. 23, Knights Templar,
the namesake of R. A. Packer, was instituted Septem-
ber 28, 1866. The majority of the best men of the town
have been identified with the fraternity, and their in-
fluence and stability have rendered it prominent and

Mauch Chunk Lodge, No. 193, Knights of Pythias,
was organized on October 19, 1869.

Most of the patriotic and beneficial societies com-
mon to the region have also been established here.

Chapman Post, No. 61, Grand Army of the Republic,
was named for Major Lansford F. Chapman, one of
the many intrepid officers contributed to the cause of
the Union by Carbon county. He was killed at the
battle of Chaneellorsville.


It was under the auspices of Chapman Post that the
Carbon County Soldiers ' Monument, standing near the
court house, was erected. It was dedicated in 1886.
General Daniel E. Sickles, one of the heroes of Gettys-
burg, was the orator of the occasion.

The cemetery in Upper Mauch Chunk was laid out
in 1823 by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company.
It is the only burying ground in the town, and it con-
tains the remains of most of the men whose enterprise
and influence, together with the lavish gifts of nature,
gave to Mauch Chunk a celebrity out of all proportion
to her population. The cemetery is graced by several
notable examples of memorial architecture.

Mauch Chunk and its surroundings hold a perennial
charm for tourists and excursionists, who annually
visit the locality with increasing numbers. The
Switchback Railway, extending from here to Summit
Hill, continues to be one of the chief attractions. It
is operated chiefly for the accommodation of sight-
seers from May to November of each year.

Flagstaff Park, reached by the line of the Carbon
Transit Company, has in recent years become a popu-
lar resort. The name Flagstaff came into vogue about
half a century ago. At that time, upon the very sum-
mit of the mountain stood a hemlock tree, in all its
stately grandeur, until one day during a severe storm
it was struck by lightning, which divested it of its bark
and branches, leaving the trunk uninjured.

At the opening of the Civil War, a party of young
men nailed to this staff a flag bearing the stars and
stripes, which 'here remained until torn to shreds by
the bleak storms of winter. During the Franco-Prus-
sian War, some sympathizing friends unfurled the
Prussian flag from the same staff. But it was destined


to a sad fate, for on the ensuing night the partisans of
the French felled the famous flagstaff to the ground.

On July 4, 1898, when the successful conduct of the
Spanish-American War was stirring the patriotism of
the nation, a cable was strung from the Flagstaff to
the summit of Bear mountain, on the opposite side of
the Lehigh, from which the largest flag ever swung to
the breeze in America was suspended. It was over
seventy-five feet long and fifty feet wide.



In considering the value of their natural resources,
Mauch Chunk stands first among the townships of Car-
bon county, while in population it is second only to
Banks, which leads by a small margin. Together with
the boroughs within its borders, it contains the richest
deposits of anthracite coal known to exist in the world.

The township was organized in 1827, its territory
being taken principally from East Penn, while a small
portion was taken from Lausanne, and subsequently
a tract of land east of the Lehigh river was added.
This addition was equal in size to about one-third
of the township as at first constituted.

The Nesquehoning creek, forming the northern
boundary, flows eastwardly and empties into the Le-
high opposite Coalport. The valley drained by this
stream lies between the Broad mountain on the north
and Locust mountain on the south. The last named
forms an angle with Sharp mountain, which extends
westwardly into Schuylkill county. Mount Pisgah, on
the Lehigh, and Mount Jefferson, near Summit Hill,
tower above the summit of this mountain. The Ma-
honing mountain lies on the southern border of the
township. Between this and Sharp mountain Mauch
Chunk creek flows eastwardly into the Lehigh. Be-
tween Locust and Sharp mountains is the Panther
Creek Valley, where most of the coal in the township
is deposited.

The Landing tavern, situated at the junction of the
Nesquehoning creek and the Lehigh, was the first dot



of civilization to appear upon this wild and moun-
tainous tract, so entirely forbidding in appearance, yet
containing a vast concealed treasure, which, when
found, brought wealth and comfort to thousands. The
spot where it stood was known as Lausanne. This tav-
ern, erected at an early period in the last century, was
the resort of hunters, surveyors, prospectors for coal,
raftsmen and the occasional travelers who found their
way into the picturesque but desolate valley of the
Upper Lehigh. It was built at about the time of the
opening of the Lehigh and Susquehanna turnpike, the
line of which diverged from the river at this point, fol-
lowing a more direct course over the mountains toward

A man named Abram Klotz is suppposed to have
been the first landlord of this famous old tavern. For
a time it was kept by John Rothermel, father of the
celebrated artist of that name. Another landlord was
Isaac A. Chapman, who was appointed postmaster of
Lausanne in 1817. The last keeper of the tavern,
which was abandoned about 1873, was Jacob Buss.

It was the intention of the founders of the Lehigh
Coal and Navigation Company to locate their principal
town at Lausanne; but the owners of the land there
refused to part with it for a fair price, with the result
that the present site of Mauch Chunk was chosen.

The boroughs of Mauch Chunk, East Mauch Chunk,
Summit Hill and Lansford are situated in this town-
ship. Nesquehoning is now the only town of any great
importance in the district which has not been incor-
porated. Excepting that many of its workmen own
their own homes, most of the real estate in the town-
ship belongs to the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Com-
pany, and the mining and shipping of coal is the pre-
ponderating industry.


Nesquehoning is, next to Summit Hill, the oldest of
the mining towns of this company. The name is of
Indian origin, signifying narroiv valley.

The coal produced at Nesquehonng was originally
carried to Mauch Chunk on the Rhume Run gravity
railroad, along the line of the present electric road be-
tween the two places. This railroad was built in 1830.
For years mules were employed to haul the empty cars
back to the mines, being later displaced by a wood-
burning locomotive, which was brought across the
mountains from Tamaqua by teams. The gravity road
was abandoned upon the building of the Nesquehoning
Valley Railroad, since controlled by the Central Rail-
road of New Jersey.

The first house here was built for Thomas Kelly in
1824. One of the memorable events in the early his-
tory of the town was the celebration of the centenary
of Washington's birth, in 1832. The people of Lehigh-
ton, Mauch Chunk, Lausanne and other places partici-
pated in this patriotic function, one of the features
of which was a great dinner, given at the home of N.

This locality was at first popularly known as "Hell's
Kitchen," or ''the Kitchen."

Packer, Harlan & Company held the first lease of
the mines at Nesquehoning, which were subsequently
operated by various firms. Since 1867, they have been
worked directly by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation

Years ago it was thought that most of the available
coal had been exhausted, but later developments proved
this view to have been very erroneous, and at the
present rate of production there is still sufficient coal
remaining unmined in this district to last for an in-
definte period.


The first breaker at Nesquehoning was run by water
power, and it is believed that with a single exception
it was the only one thus operated in the anthracite

The mines of this section are now drained by a
tunnel four and one-half miles in length, extending
from Nesquehoning to Coalport, near Mauch Chunk.
This tunnel, which cost a fabulous sum, was begun in
1906 and completed early in 1912. It is the purpose
of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company to ex-
tend it westward through the Panther Creek Valley,
perhaps as far as Tamaqua.

The first school here was started in 1830. There
are now two school buildings in the place, one of which
accommodates the township high school. Twenty-two
schools are maintained throughout the township, and
a supervisory principal is employed.

A postoffice was established at Nesquehoning in 1838
with Joseph Minehard in charge. It was at first kept
at the store of the company operating the colliery. In
1910, the office was raised to the presidential rank.

St. Patrick's Roman Catholic church, the first house
of worship to be erected between Mauch Chunk and
Tamaqua, was built in 1839, under the leadership of
Rev. James Maloney. For some time it was attended
by missionaries from Easton, and services were held
only a few times each year. About 1848, Rev. Patrick
J. Hennegan, a conspicuous figure in the early history
of Catholicity in this portion of the coal fields, ap-
peared upon the scene. He was at first stationed at
Tamaqua, and had a large field of labor. In 1850, he
took up his residence at Nesquehoning. The only re-
minder of this church is the graveyard which adjoined
it, in which lie the remains of many of the first Catho-
lics of Mauch Chunk, who worshipped here before the


organization of a church of their faith at that place.
The church of the Sacred Heart is the successor of that
first named.

The Methodist Episcopal church was organized in
1863 by Rev. Henry H. Davis. David Trevarrow was a
local preacher of the congregation. The present build-
ing was dedicated in 1890, and is a memorial to James
Meeds, a former resident of Nesquehoning, who con-
tributed liberally towards its erection.

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 20 of 44)