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 21 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 21 of 44)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


The First Baptist church of Summit Hill is the
mother of the church of that denomination at Nesque-
honing.

St. Mary's Greek Catholic church, a handsome struc-
ture costing sixteen thousand dollars, was Kuilt in 1910.
It is a mission of St. John's church of Lansford.

For some years past the town has been furnished
with water by the Panther Valley Water Company, and
it is lighted by the Panther Valley Electric Light, Heat
and Power Company. The Tamaqua and Lansford
Street Railway was placed in operation between here
and Mauch Chunk in 1903.

Nesquehoning Hose Company No. 1 was organized
in 1009, and a substantial fire house was built in 1911.

The only industry independent of the mines is the
plant of the Mauch Chunk Silk Mill Company, built
here in 1910. Charles Neast is the president of this
company.

The mines at Hacklebernie, owned by the Lehigh
Coal and Navigation Company, and situated near
Mauch Chunk, were opened in the early days and oper-
ated by many different companies. The village that
grew up about these workings is named after a town in
England.

The output of these mines was formerly sent to
market over the Switchback Railroad, but the coal is



294 HISTORY OP CARBON COUNTY.

now carried underground to the breaker at Nesque-
honing. David Purcell and James Breslin, operating
under the name of the Hacklebernie Coal Company,
held the last lease of this property.

Hanto, located in the Nesquehoning Valley, across
the mountain from Lansford, is the namesake of
George F. A. Hanto, who was one of the founders of
the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company.

This company is now erecting a mammoth electrical
power house at this point, which will cost several
millions of dollars. The plant, when completed, will
transmit electricity to New York, Philadelphia, and
other distant cities, the theory being that this can be
done more cheaply than to ship the coal required for
generating purposes.

Coalport is at the head of the Lehigh Canal, where
boats take on their cargoes of coal for shipment to
Philadelphia and intermediate places.

Little Italy, a settlement of recent growth, is sit-
uated on Locust mountain, near Nesquehoning. The
place is inhabitated exclusively by Italians.

Bloomingdale is a small farming community lying
between the Sharp and Mahoning mountains, near
Summit Hill.

PACKER TOWNSHIP.

The namesake of Hon. Asa Packer, who was then
one of the associate judges on the bench of Carbon
county. Packer township was organized in the year
1847. Like Banks and Lehigh townships, Packer was
carved from Lausanne. The Broad mountain extends
through the entire length of the southern and middle
portion of the township, while the Spring mountain
lies in the northern part. Between these mountains
is Quakake Valley, extending from east to west



HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY. 295

through the township, and containing all the land that
is now under cultivation therein. It is watered by the
Quakake creek, rising on the Spring mountain, in the
western part of Banks township, and flowing east-
wardly through Packer and Lehigh townships to Penn
Haven, where it empties into the Lehigh river. The
Mahanoy division of the Lehigh Valley Railroad runs
parallel to Quakake creek through the township. A
great deal of coal and other freight from the Schuyl-
kill region passes over this branch, and formerly ex-
cellent passenger service was maintained; but shortly
subsequent to the deal whereby the Philadelphia &
Reading Company for a time secured control of the
Lehigh Valley, the passenger service was abandoned.
Hudsondale and Gerhards are places within the town-
ship where the company maintains sidetracks or yards
for the convenience of shippers or receivers of freight.
Hudsondale was formerly known as Hartz's Station,
so named in honor of Colonel Jacob Hartz, one of the
early settlers of this locality, then one of the stopping
places on the line of the Lehigh and Susquehanna turn-
pike, running from Berwick to Easton.

That portion of this old highway leading from Hud-
sondale to Mauch Chunk was allowed to fall into dis-
repair and was finally abandoned to travel about 1885.

It is now however being rebuilt in a most substan-
tial manner, the cost being defrayed jointly by the
county and the state.

Another road, leading from Weatherly to Tamaqua,
also runs through the township.

The first settlers of Quakake Valley were Daniel
Heil and George Glaze, who came to this section in
1790. They came from beyond the Blue mountain, fol-
lowing a road which had been built to a point four



296 HISTORY OP CARBON COUNTY.

miles south of Tamaqua. The intervening fifteen miles
were covered on a road of their own construction.

Mr. Heil located on the farm owned by the late
Frank Billig, while the other constructed his log dwell-
ing on land now held by J. J. Gerhard.

As illustrating the hardships encountered by the
pioneers it may be mentioned that Heil carried an old-
fashioned feed cutter on his back all the way from
Dinkeyville, where he had formerly lived, to his new
home.

These men built a saw mill, the first in the valley,
providing lumber and building material for themselves
and the later settlers.

Another early settler was Jonathan Winter, who
cleared the farm on which Allen Gerhard now lives.

Stephen Gerhard, the grandfather of Jonas Ger-
hard, who, at the age of ninety, yet lives in the town-
ship, was the first of that family to locate in Quakake
Valley. He bought and cleared the farm which is
to-day occupied by William Reed. Like most of the
other pioneers of this section he came from the region
south of the Blue Ridge.

Daniel, one of the sons of Stephen Gerhard, became
the father of six sons : Benjamin, Jonas, Joel, Daniel,
Solomon, and Reuben.

Solomon was the father of J. J. Gerhard, who is now
living on the old homestead.

The first of the Hinkle family in the township of
whom any record remains bore the name of Philip.
He originally lived on the place later occupied by John
Faust, and now the property of John Bittner. From
there he removed to the Round Head.

Col. Jacob Hartz, who has already been mentioned
came to the township about 1800. He was a clock-
maker, and about 1812 built the Spring Mountain



HISTOKY OF CARBON COUNTY. 297

Hotel, occupying the site of the present hotel at Hud-
sondale. He kept it until 1820, when he sold out to
George Kelchner.

Later he purchased several hundred acres of land
near the foot of the Broad mountain. There he built
the White Swan Hotel, which was kept by him and his
descendants for many years.

Colonel Hartz was elected sheriff of Northampton
county in 1829. He had eight children, namely : Jonas,
Susan, Sarah, Mary, Elizabeth, William, Abigail, and
Hannah.

Jonas became the father of Levi, Peter, George and
Abram, the latter, who lives at Weatherly, alone sur-
viving.

Levi kept the Packer House at Weatherly until his
death, which occurred about 1890.

Peter spent his entire life in the place of his birth.

An interesting story is told of a feat he performed
when but a boy of about sixteen years. His father
owned a powerful and high spirited black colt, which
no amount of hardship seemed able to subdue, being
in fact such a horse as was Rienzi, the celebrated
charger of General Sheridan.

With the idea in mind of curbing his spirit, Peter
was ordered by his father to ride the horse to Easton
and return, a total distance of one hundred and twenty
miles, in a single day, or else kill him. He did as had
been commanded, but fared worse than the horse in the
endurance test which his compliance made necessary.

Peter Hartz was several times elected to the office of
county commissioner, and kept the Spring Mountain
Hotel for a time. One of his daughters, Mary, the wife
of Walter O'Neill, still lives in the district.

John Wetzel was a resident of the township as early
as 1812. He located on land now owned by the Lehigh



298 HISTOKY OF CARBON COUNTY.

Valley Coal Company. He was a member of the family
which produced the famous Indian fighters of that
name, men whose deeds are enshrined in the pioneer
history of the country alongside those of Boone and
Crockett. His sons were John, Valentine, David and
Aaron. A saw mill, the ruins of which may still be
seen, was built by Wetzel on a stream that has since
been named Wetzel's run.

David Wetzel reared a large family in the old log
house which his father built at the foot of the Spring
mountain.

He was of patriarchial appearance, and in his home,
dispensed the kind of hospitality that only the gener-
ous, old-fashioned country people could bestow. Much
of his substance was spent in proving for coal on lands
that he owned on the Spring mountain, and he died
with the firm conviction that the treasure he sought
existed there, but without having discovered it. Three
of his sons, Thomas, Jonas and Amos, remain in the
township.

John Faust, another patriarchial figure, came to
Packer township, then Lausanne, from Schuylkill coun-
ty in 1829. He was the father of thirteen children, and
his descendants hereabouts are quite numerous.

Ephraim Balliet, originally from Luzerne county, in
1839 settled on the farm now occupied by Arthur Bitt-
ner. He served for years as a justice of the peace.

In 1829 George and Benneville Keim erected a grist
mill on the Quakake creek, about two miles above Ger-
hards Station. It was purchased by John Faust in
1841, and it was by him removed to its present location
near Gerhards Station, in 1849. It is now owned and
operated by William S. Dietrich.

Samuel W. Hudson came to the township in 1859,
purchasing property on which he erected a foundry
and machine shop. A saw mill, which had previously



HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY. 299

been owned by William Koons was on the creek. The
saw mill was operated by Mr. Hudson for about
twenty years, while he conducted the foundry and ma-
chine shop until 1881. He also became owner of the
stone grist mill which was erected at Hudsondale in
1869. In addition to this he dealt in mine timber on an
extensive scale, becoming one of the foremost business
men of the county. He died January 17, 1885, and his
son, S. B. Hudson, succeeded to the business.

The firm of Hoover Brothers, headed by Elijah
Hoover, soon after the close of the Rebellion, began
the manufacture of powder in the western portion of
the township. Having had an explosion or two, they,
in 1873, sold out to the Laflin Powder Manufacturing
Company, which rebuilt the mills and continued the
business until 1878, when another explosion resulted in
the removal of the enterprise to the vicinity of Wilkes-
Barre. In 1886 the Tide Water Pipe Company erected
its pumping station at Hudsondale. This company
operates an oil line which originally extended from
Rixford, near Bradford, Pa., to Bayonne, N. J., a dis-
tance of approximately three hundred and fifty miles.
The line has recently been built westward into Illinois.
This company was the pioneer in the construction of
long distance pipe lines, being driven to try the des-
perate experiment through the discrimination prac-
ticed in favor of the Standard Oil Company by the rail-
roads. The oil, in its crude state, is pumped through
a six inch pipe all the way from the oil fields to tide
water. Hudsondale was originally the sixth station on
the line, the oil being forced from there to Change-
water, N. J., a distance of sixty miles. The average
quantity of oil pumped per day is eleven thousand bar-
rels. A. J. Romig is the local superintendent for the
company.



300 HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY.

M. L. Smith, in 1887, established the Hudsondale
Ochre Works at this place. The product is red ochre,
ground exceedingly fine, and is used as a base in the
manufacture of certain grades of paint. The main
building in which the mill is housed was formerly oc-
cupied by the machine shop and foundry of S. W.
Hudson. A vein of good ochre, situated about two
miles west of the mill, supplies the raw material for
this industry. From fifteen to twenty men are em-
ployed, while the mill is kept running day and night.
M. L. Smith died in 1908, and his brother, J. Rowland
Smith, is now superintendent of the concern.

The Hazleton Water Company erected a pumping
station at Hudsondale in 1897, having purchased a
tract of eighty acres of land from S. B. Hudson. The
company has two reservoirs at this place, and two
large pumps, having a total capacity of four million
gallons daily, Torce the water over the Spring moun-
tain to Hazleton, a distance of seven miles. The plant
is now under the direction of John Scanlon.

In 1906 the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company built
a coal storage plant at the foot of the north side of the
Broad mountain, about half a mile below Hudsondale.
It has a capacity of approximately two hundred and
fifty thousand tons, and coal is stored and re-loaded
there as is expedient.

Another large storage yard of this description was
erected by the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company on
the south side of the Broad mountain, near Hanto, in
Packer township, during 1908.

These are all the industries located in the township,
the bulk of the population being engaged in agricul-
tural pursuits. Most of the farms are reasonably well
kept and productive, and Quakake Valley is the leading
farming section in the northern part of the county.



HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY. 301

Scarcely any heavy timber remains in the township,
but formerly its forests were the principal dependence
of its people. The Broad mountain which is now de-
nuded and bare, producing little but huckleberries and
scrub oak, was once covered with stately forests of
white and yellow pine ; most of this timber was sold in
the rough state for use inside the mines. Fires, which
have annually been allowed to go unchecked on this
mountain, have killed off most of the young timber.
Nearly all of the land is classed as being unseated.

Much has been spent at various times in proving for
coal on the north slope of this mountain, but always
without avail. As late as 1850, wild game abounded on
the mountain, and Samuel Young, who enlisted for the
war with Mexico, killed forty-eight deer there during
the fall before his departure with the army.

The first school house in the township was built in
1823, near the Spring Mountain Hotel. Eleven years
later the church in the western portion of the township
was erected, and a part of the building partitioned off
for school purposes, being so used until 1868. Subse-
quently a school house was built near Krop's Crossing.
The three buildings now in use stand on substantially
the same sites occupied by the original buildings.
Four teachers are employed, while the schools are
modern and up-to-date, both as regards equipment and
in methods of teaching.

The only church in the township is that which has
already been referred to as having been built in 1834.
It was originally a log structure, and was located on
land donated by John Faust. This building was torn
down in 1868, when the present edifice was erected.
Some years ago this was remodeled and much im-
proved. It is known as St. Matthew's Lutheran and
German Reformed church.



302 HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY.

In 1905 the Bethany Union Sunday School chapel
was built at Hudsondale, where a Sabbath school has
been maintained for manj^ years.

The Spring Mountain House and the White Swan
Hotel, both built by Colonel Jacob Hartz, have already
been mentioned. The former was destroyed by fire in
1893, being then owned by Patrick Garra, while the
other was recently torn down. Garra built a new house
on the site of the old, and this is owned by his estate.

The place kept by Charles Plinkle on the road to
Tamaqua is the only other tavern in the township.

A postoffice was established at the store of Samuel
Wolf about the year 1820. Upon his removal from the
townshij) the office was transferred to the tavern stand
of Jacob Hartz, and the landlords acted as postmasters
until about 1858. Soon after the building of the rail-
road through the township, Hudsondale became a sta-
tion, being so named in honor of S. W. Hudson, who
then became the postmaster. Later the postoffice was
kept in the telegraph office of the Tide Water Pipe
Company. It was abolished in 1903, when a rural de-
livery route, starting from Weatherly and covering
the inhabited portion of the township, was instituted.

The Hudsondale Grange Telephone Company and
the Packer Township Telephone Company, both con-
necting with the Bell system at Weatherly, furnish ade-
quate service to the people of the township. The
former was organized in 1910, with J. A. Werner as
president, while the latter came into being during the
year subsequent. Allen Bittner is its president.

PALMERTON BOROUGH.

Palmerton, the youngest borough of Carbon county,
and one of the model communities of the state, is of
very recent growth. Until the autumn of 1912, when




z;
o
m

Q






z



2

<






^^. ^




X



y.



P-,
<






HISTOKY OF CARBON COUNTY. 303

the town was incorporated, it formed a part of Lower
Towamensing township.

It owes its existence and its many excellencies solely
to the enterprise of the New Jersey Zinc Company of
Pennsylvania, the works of which are located near here.

Its name is derived from Stephen S. Palmer, the
president of this company.

The place is beautifully located near the western
bank of the Lehigh within the northern shadows of the
majestic Blue Ridge, commanding a view of the wild
grandeur of the Lehigh Water Gap. The southern
portion of the town borders on the Aquashicola creek.

This stream was thus named by the Delaware In-
dians, and in their tongue signified the place of fishing
with bush-nets.

Palmerton is on the line of the Central Railroad of
New Jersey, being one hundred and ten miles distant
from New York, and eighty-two miles from Philadel-
phia. Mauch Chunk lies ten miles to the northward.

The first white man to settle on the present town site
of Palmerton was Nicholas Opplinger, who in the year
1752 was appointed constable of Towamensing town-
ship.

It was on the farm of this German that Benjamin
Franklin and his little army were quartered in Janu-
ary, 1756, while enroute from Bethlehem to New Gnad-
enhiitten, now Weissport, where they built Fort Allen.

When the Indian troubles of 1755 broke upon the
frontier, the settlers of this vicinity erected a block-
house, surrounded by a stockade, immediately in the
rear of the spot where the First National Bank of
Palmerton now stands.

The land on which it was built originally belonged to
Nathaniel Irish, one of the first residents of Bethlehem,
and whose property adjoined that of Opplinger.



304 HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY.

Within the enclosure of this fortification, later
known as Fort Lehigh, the settlers and their families
gathered for protection.

Among those who sought the security afforded by
the protecting walls of this little haven of safety was a
man named Boyer and his family.

Boyer had established his home about a mile and a
half east of the fort on land until recently owned by
Josiah Arner and James Ziegenfuss, and that still held
by George Kunkel.

One day, accompanied by his son, Frederick, then a
lad of thirteen, and several of his other children, he
went from the fort to his farm to attend the crops.

The father was ploughing and his son busied himself
with hoeing, while the rest of the children were in the
house or playing nearby.

Suddenly a party of hostile Indians appeared upon
the scene, and the father, seeing them, called to Fred-
erick to run, and himself endeavored to reach the
house.

Finding that he could not do so, he ran toward the
Aquashicola, being shot through the head as he reached
the farther side.

Frederick, who had escaped to an adjacent wheat
field, was captured and brought back. The Indians
then scalped his father in his presence, took the horses
from the plow, and making captives of his sisters,
started tor the Stony Ridge, in the rear of the house.

There they were joined by another party of Indians,
and uniting their forces, they marched northward to
Canada.

On the journey the sisters were separated from their
brother and were never again heard from.

Frederick was held as a prisoner among the French
and Indians in Canada for five years. Upon his re-



HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY. ) 305

lease he was sent to Philadelphia, whence he proceeded
to his old home to take possession of the farm.

Soon after his return he married a daughter of Con-
rad Mehrkem, with whom he had four sons and four
daughters. He died on October 31, 1832, aged eighty-
nine years. His remains lie in St. John's Union Cem-
etery.

The inscription on his tombstone states that he was
born in 1732, and that he was nearly one hundred years
of age when he died. This is thought to be a mistake,
because it was admitted by his descendants that he was
but a lad when captured, and there were no Indian
troubles in this region prior to the year 1755, when
Braddock was defeated and the Indians were incited
to deeds of violence. Frederick Boyer's descendants
in the county are still quite numerous.

Fort Lehigh, commanding the approach to Lehigh
Gap, and being situated at the junction of the road
leading to Fort Allen, on the north, and that extending
to Fort Norris, on the east, in Monroe county, occu-
pied a very important position.

It was garrisoned by provincial troops for a number
of years, and there were sometimes as high as thirty
xnen stationed there.

Nothing definite is known of the close of its history ;
but it appears to have been abandoned as a station in
1758, when hostilities had almost come to an end, only
to be again occupied in 1763, when Pontiac's war broke
out and the Indians began to make incursions into
Pennsylvania.

The last mention that can be found of it refers to the
latter year, at which time Captain Jacob Wetherhold
with a company of soldiers was posted here.

The incident bringing this intelligence to light is
decidedly to the discredit of that officer and the men
under his command.



306 HISTORY OF. CARBON COUNTY.

During the year 1760, the Moravians established a
missionary settlement among the Indians in the pres-
ent township of Polk, Monroe county, locating it on
the exact spot where Frederick Hoeth and his family
were slain in the uprising of 1755.

The place was called Wechquetank, and prospered
exceedingly for a few years. But when the Indian
troubles of 1763 began, there was grave danger of a
repetition of the dreadful occurences of 1755. Not
only were the Moravians and their converts disliked
by the hostile Indians, but they were also suspected by
the settlers and the soldiers, who looked upon their
villages as convenient lurking places for the savage foe.

Wechquetank had several times been threatened with
destruction by the whites, and some of the more pru-
dent of the converts had forsaken the mission on ac-
count of the two-fold danger which menaced it.

Among the number was an Indian named Zachary,
his wife and child.

During the month of August, 1763, they returned to
the village for a brief visit, earnestly trying to per-
suade their friends who remained there to leave the
locality.

A woman named Zippora accompanied them as they
started on their return journey to the Susquehanna.

They stopped for the night at Fort Lehigh, and were
permitted to sleep in the hayloft of a barn near the
fort.

During the darkness they were rudely aroused from
their sense of fancied security when they were sud-
denly attacked by the soldiers.

Zippora was thrown upon the thrashing floor and
killed.

Zachary escaped from the building, but was pursued,
and, with his wife and little child, put to the sword,



HISTORY OF CARBON COUNTY. 307

though the mother begged for their lives upon her
bended knees.

It was deemed best to abandon Wechquetank soon
after this event. The place was burned to the ground
by the whites during the fall of 1763.

The ruins of Fort Lehigh, in the form of a heap of
stones, may still be seen on the western bank of a
little stream which passes through Palmerton on its
way to the Aquashicola.

One of the first steps taken by the New Jersey Zinc
Company of Pennsylvania in locating its immense
manufacturing establishment at Hazard, about a mile
north of Palmerton, was the organization of the Pal-
mer Land Company.

It was wisely decided that the works should be erect-
ed at some distance from the point where it was deter-
mined to build the town which would be necessary for



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 21 of 44)