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 7 of 44)
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introduced for hoisting both coal and water, effecting
a decided improvement and correspondingly increas-
ing the output.

But the pit or shaft was soon abandoned in favor
of the drift or tunnel from the foot of hills, thus se-
curing gravity drainage, as well as the application of
that principle in bringing out the coal. For some
years the wheelbarrow was the means of conveyance
from the mines. This gave way to the mule and the
underground railroad, and the mule has now in many
instances been superseded by the electric motor.

The function formerly performed by the pick, wedge
and hammer in cutting or loosening the coal now de-
volves principally upon high explosives. The primi-
tive breaker was a sledge in the hands of a brawny


A careful, intelligent supervision under state laws
and legally selected officials was inaugurated years
ago, and every mine in Pennsylvania is visited at
stated intervals by the mine inspectors, whose famili-
arity with mining in all its details renders them eli-
gible for their important work.

In addition to this, mine foremen and superintend-
ents are required to undergo an examination as to
their competency, and the proficiency of every miner
must be legally attested.

With all these precautionary measures, many acci-
dents occur in this hazardous industry, and a trained
hospital corps is employed to render "first aid to the
injured. ' '

For purposes of inspection, the state is divided into
districts, to each of which one inspector is allotted.
Carbon county forms the major portion of the Seven-
teenth Anthracite District.

Normally this district now produces about four mil-
lion tons of coal annually, the largest individual opera-
tor being the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company,
which is credited with approximately three-fourths
of the output of the whole district.

Since the beginning of the industry, the Lehigh
region, which includes the mines of the Hazleton dis-
trict, has shipped about three hundred million tons of
coal to market.

As is well known, practically all the anthracite coal
in the United States is confined to an area of five hun-
dred square miles in eastern Pennsylvania. The total
output of the entire region thus far has been about
two billion tons, and, according to the estimates of the
Pennsylvania geological survey, at the present rate of
production the coal beds will be exhausted in less than
one hundred years.



The great county of Northampton, which in the
beginning extended westward from the Delaware to
the Susquehanna, and northward to the state line of
New York, was separated from Bucks, one of the three
original counties of Pennsylvania, in 1752.

Its territorial extent was nearly equal to that of the
neighboring state of New Jersey.

Lehigh county was set off from Northampton in
1812; influenced by that act and the hardships under
which they labored in being so far removed from
Easton, the seat of justice, the people in the more
northern portion of the valley began to agitate the
project of forming another new county as soon as the
termination of the second war with England allowed
their thoughts to turn from military to civil affairs.

Several abortive attempts were made in this direc-
tion, and it was not until March 13, 1843, that the long-
desired legislation, providing for the establishment of
Carbon county, was secured and approved by the gov-

As then constituted the county contained the town-
ships of East Penn, Mahoning, Lausanne, Banks, Tow-
amensing, Lower Towamensing and Penn Forest.

All of its territory was taken from Northampton
county, excepting Penn Forest, then including Kidder,
which was carved from Monroe. The boundaries of
the county still remain as established in 1843.

John D. Bowman, Thomas Weiss, John Fatzinger,
Abrara Shortz and Samuel Wolf were the commis-



sioners to whom Governor Porter assigned the delicate
duty of choosing the county seat.

Lehighton and Mauch Chunk were rival claimants
for the honor, the latter being selected.

The commissioners were to a certain extent actuated
in their choice by the offer of the Lehigh Coal and
Navigation Company to provide a suitable court house
and jail at their own expense as a special inducement to
the location of the seat of justice at Mauch Chunk.
The old stone storehouse of the company, occupying
the site of the present court house, served the first of
these purposes, while a small structure in the rear was
converted into a jail. These buildings and the ground
upon which they stood were formally deeded to the
county in 1846.

In December, 1843, the first session of court wa&
held. Judge N. B. Eldred presiding, and Asa Packer
and Jacob Dinkey sitting as associate justices.

At this session, twelve lawyers were admitted to the
bar of Carbon county.

Neither the court house nor the jail were of fire-
proof construction, and both were destroyed in the
fire which devastated Mauch Chunk during the sum-
mer of 1849. Fortunately the county records were

The jail was rebuilt during the succeeding year, but
it was not until 1854 that the work of replacing the
court house was completed.

After about a dozen years the former was found to
be inadequate, and in 1869 the present prison of the
county was begun.

The court house finished in 1854 stood until 1893,
when it was torn down preparatory to the erection of a
more modern temple of justice.

The Old Court House at Maucii Chunk.
Tom Down in 1893.


("AKitox ('()r.\T\- ("orirr IIorsE. ^1ai;cii (>ih:xk.


The stone for this handsome building, which was
completed in 1894 at a cost of about one hundred and
twenty thousand dollars, was quarried at Rockport.
Bonds to the value of seventy-five thousand dollars
were issued toward defraying the expense involved in
the construction of the building, and these have nearly
all been redeemed.

Excepting the apportionment of 1873, Carbon has
always been associated with the mother county of
Northampton in congressional affairs.

In 1843 Carbon was made a part of the district
which included Northampton, Monroe, Pike and
Wayne counties.

It so remained until 1861, when Wayne was dropped
and Lehigh was added. One year later, however, the
original grouping was restored.

By the apportionment of 1873, Carbon was linked
with Columbia, Montour, Monroe, Pike and portions
of Luzerne and the present county of Lackawanna.

Since 1887, Carbon, Northampton, Monroe and Pike
have constituted what is now termed the Twenty-
sixth Congressional District.

For years Carbon and Lehigh were associated for
legislative purposes. From 1874 to 1888 Carbon
county alone was allotted two representatives in the
assembly. In the latter year the allotment of the
county was reduced to one.

Schuylkill, Carbon, Monroe and Pike were consti-
tuted one senatorial district in 1843. In 1864, Carbon,
Monroe, Pike and Wayne counties formed the district.
Ten years later Wayne county was dropped, only to be
restored by the apportionment of 1906.

Until 1851, judges were appointed by the governor,
since which time they have been elected by the people
in the manner provided for the election of other county


or district offices. The county was in 1849 judicially
linked with Monroe, Wayne and Pike. In 1874, this
was changed to Carbon and Monroe, so remaining until
1901, when Carbon was constituted an independent
judicial district.


Prior to the year 1856 indigent people in the county
were taken care of by the districts in which they lived,
the subjects of public charity being let out for care
and protection to the lowest bidder. On April 26,
1855, however, an act was passed by the legislature
providing for a house of employment for Carbon
county, and authorizing directors of the poor.

This law was left to the acceptance or rejection of
the people of the county, and, it being feared that the
new plan would result in higher taxation, a number
of the districts voted negatively on the measure. The
election took place on October 9, 1855, and there were
majorities in the affirmative from the boroughs of
Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk and the town-
ships and Banks and Lausanne. The districts reject-
ing the law preferred to continue to care for their un-
fortunate ones in the old way, while the other districts,
having accepted the law, proceeded to adopt measures
for putting it into execution.

Before the close of the year the newly-elected direct-
ors took steps to establish the proposed institution at
Laurytown, in what is now Lehigh township. The
farms of D. J. Labar, John Toomey, and Jacob Cole,
aggregating 315 acres, were purchased at a cost of
$5,100. Other additions in acreage have been made
from time to time.

George Kline, J. H. Chapman and R. D. Stiles were
elected the first poor directors, while they appointed
Jesse K. Pryor as steward and his wife as matron.


Temporary quarters were provided, pending the
erection of a suitable building. This was completed
and occupied during the summer of 1857, the cost being
$8,273. There were fifty-four inmates at the institu-
tion at that time.

David Petrey and wife were appointed steward and
matron, respectively, on November 1, 1857, and the af-
fairs of the district were apparently well administered,
because, while the number housed at the farm had
risen to ninety-nine, in 1861, there was a balance in the
treasury of $2,656.

In 1862, a number of the poor districts of the lower
end of Luzerne county signified a desire to unite with
the districts in Carbon county which had accepted the
law of 1855. After the preliminary steps had been
taken, a bill authorizing this union was passed by the
legislature, March 25, 1862. The district, as then or-
ganized, was composed of the boroughs of Mauch
Chunk and East Mauch Chunk, and the townships of
Banks, Mauch Chunk and Lausanne, in Carbon county,
and of the borough of Hazleton and the townships of
Hazle and Foster, in Luzerne county. Later, the bor-
oughs of Jeddo, West Hazleton and Freeland, of Lu-
zerne county, were admitted to the district, while in
Carbon county the boroughs of Weatherly, Beaver
Meadows, Summit Hill and Lansford, and the town-
ship of Lehigh have been added, the whole being known
as the Middle Coal Field Poor District.

Luzerne county had been organized as a poor dis-
trict by Act of May 1, 1861, but the districts mentioned
effected their union with those of Carbon county before
any definite arrangements had been made for the build-
ing of a poor house by the Luzerne county authorities.

Commissioners were appointed to determine the
amount that the incoming districts from Luzerne


county should pay the Carbon county district in ad-
justing the property proportionately, and the sum of
$4,500 was agreed upon. The accession of the Lu-
zerne county districts made the building of an addition
to the poor house necessary.

In the spring of 1871, a hospital, which had been
built at a cost of $15,000 was opened for use, and this
served the purpose for which it was intended until
the erection of the present fine brick structure, which
is valued at $40,000.

The number of inmates kept at the almshouse often
exceeds two hundred, while the district pays for the
maintenance of about the same number at various state
institutions for the insane. The real estate and per-
sonal property owned by the district is valued at about

Of the seven hundred and eighty acres of land com-
prising the farm, three hundred and fifty are under
cultivation. The gross value of the produce of the
farm averages about $10,000 annually.

S. W. Gangwer, the present j^teward, was appointed
in 1902.

The feasibility of erecting a building capable of ac-
commodating the insane of the district now kept at the
almshouse and at the various state institutions has
been seriously entertained for some years. During
1910, after much wrangling as to the location of the
proposed building, steps preliminary to its erection
were taken by the directors; influences hostile to the
idea, however, succeeded in halting the execution of
the plan for the time being at least.

In 1911 Governor Tener api)roved an act of the leg-
islature increasing the number of directors of the dis-
trict from three to five and vesting the power of their
appointment in the Carbon county court, instead of


leaving their selection to the direct vote of the people,
as was formerly the case. Under the provisions of
this act, two of the directors are allotted to Carbon
county and three to the Luzerne portion of the district.
This law is looked upon with general disfavor, dis-
franchising as it does, the voters of the affected terri-
tory, together with other objectionable features.

A neat chapel for the use of the inmates of the alms-
house was erected by Mrs. Eckley B. Coxe and her
sister-in-law. Miss Rebecca Coxe, in 1900. These
benevolent women have done much at Laurytown
toward mitigating the monotony and hopelessness
which, under the most favorable circumstances, are the
concomitants of life at an institution of this nature.

In addition to the sum expended for the maintenance
of those kept at the almshouse, large amounts are
annually disbursed by the directors in the form of out-
door relief.

The divisions of the county not belonging to the
Middle Coal Field Poor District are principally agri-
cultural sections, having a smaller number of paupers
in proportion to population than the boroughs and the
mining regions. The number of indigent people they
have to support is insignificant, and this, in a measure,
explains why these districts prefer to remain inde-
pendent, although in an instance or two their tax rate
for poor purposes is as high, or even higher, than that
of the Middle Coal Field Poor District.

The Carbon County Law Library was established
by legislative enactment in 1868. The money arising
from certain fines' and penalties imposed by the court
is set aside for the maintenance of the library and for
the purchase of books for the use of the court and
members of the bar. This library, which is under the
direction of three resident members of the bar, ap-


pointed annually by the court, now numbers about two
thousand volumes.

The Carbon County Bar Association, which is co-
eval with the county, is a voluntary organization of
resident memberE of the bar, and has not vet been in-
corporated. Until recently applicants for admission
to the bar were examined by a committee of this asso-
ciation, but this has now become a function of the state.

The Carbon County Industrial Society, under the
auspices of which the county fair is annually held at
Lehighton, is the second organization of this nature
in the historv of the countv. The fir&t was termed the
Carbon County Agricultural Society, which was
formed during the summer of 1858. This society con-
tinued in existence until 1875, holding a fair at Le-
highton each year. It then became financially em-
barrassed, and its property was sold on the foreclos-
ure of a mortgage. This led to the formation of the
present society, which was incorporated in June, 1875.
The fairs held by this society are attended by increas-
ing numbers with each passing year.

Drs. J. G. Zern and J. B. Tweedle, both of whom are
still living, were among the leading spirits in the or-
ganization of the Carbon County Medical Society, in
1879. This association, while not very strong numer-
ically, has done much for the advancement of profes-
sional knowledge among its members.

An aid to progress in religious channels has been the
Carbon County Sabbath School Association, which
came into being about a decade ago. This society
works in harmony with the State Sabbath School As-



The military spirit which pervades the American
republic seems to have been co-existent with the land-
ing of the first settlers on our shores. With the excep-
tion of a few religious organizations whose creeds
were opposed to strife and bloodshed, and the adher-
ents of which were frequently subjected to ridicule
and censure, the principles of self-defense and na-
tional supremacy have ever been dominant.

The struggles of the hardy pioneers of this region
for self-preservation in the Indian troubles of the
early days have already been outlined.

But a handful of the most venturesome had suc-
ceeded in gaining a permanent foothold on this side
the Blue Ridge prior to the war of Independence. Not
a few of the heroes of that conflict later settled within
the present limits of Carbon county, however. The
best known among these were General Thomas Craig
and Colonel Jacob Weiss.

As a part of old Northampton county, this section
contributed its proportionate share of men in the sec-
ond war with England, while in the national emer-
gencies which have occurred since that time, Carbon
has remained true to the spirit of 1776. Never fal-
tering in her patriotism, she has responded to every
call with a heartiness and alacrity worthy of her char-
acter and fame.

The organization of the state militia was effected in
early times, and "training day," perhaps more fa-
miliarly known as ''battalion day," was looked upon



as an event of great importance by our forefathers.
But the organization, though in a measure meeting the
requirements of that period, was not in harmony with
military discipline, and a law was enacted in 1822 re-
quiring the enrollment for military duty of all able-
bodied men between the ages of twenty-one and forty-
five. Under the provisions of this measure a fine was
fixed for non-attendance at ''muster" or regularly
established drills. Beyond the point of keeping up an
enrollment for emergencies, this system was not
greatly successful.

In 1864, as a necessary war measure, the militia
was re-organized in a more systematic manner; the
state was divided into twenty military divisions, and
companies and regiments were organized, uniformed,
armed and equipped for active service as needed.
This organization was termed the volunteer militia.
Its members were largely required to bear their own
expenses, working a serious hardship to many volun-
teers. Later enactments provided that the state
should pay a portion of the necessary expenses.

By the acts of 1870 and 1874 the volunteer militia
became the National Guard of Pennsylvania, which
General Sheridan once said was the only establish-
ment of its kind amounting to anything worth while.
The number of districts had now been reduced to ten,
each division being placed under the command of a
major general.

In 1878, these divisions were abolished, the state
being constituted a single division of three brigades.
Under this law, Carbon county became a part of the
territory of the Third Brigade.

The Stockton Artillerists, of Mauch Chunk, consti-
tuted the first organized military company of Carbon
county. The company derived its name from Com-


modore Robert Field Stockton, builder of the Dela-
ware and Raritan Canal, and commander-in-chief of
the naval forces of the United States on the Pacific
during the war with Mexico, who was a warm per-
sonal friend of Asa Packer. John Leisenring was the
first captain of the company, being succeeded by Jo-
seph H. Siewers and James Miller, respectively.

Upon the declaration of war against Mexico, the
company eagerly offered its services, being accepted
by Governor Shunk.

Prior to the departure of the men, the women of
Mauch Chunk, during the space of three days, made
them over three hundred shirts, together with other
articles of practical use. The sum of fifteen hundred
dollars, raised by voluntary subscription, was also pre-
sented to them.

The long journey from Mauch Chunk to the seat of
war was begun the day before Christmas, in 1846.
The soldiers, accompanied by a large delegation of
citizens in conveyances, first repaired to Tamaqua.
Here, much to their disappointment, they were met
by the deputy secretary of the commonwealth, who
bore an order countermanding their acceptance, with
the explanation that the command to which they were
to have been attached was already full.

Thereupon the men at once resolved to proceed to
Philadelphia and offer their services to the President.
Going by way of Pottsville, the people of that town
gave them a cordial welcome.

After remaining in Philadelphia a short time, they
were notified of their acceptance.

Proceeding from Philadelphia to Baltimore, the
men were transported from that point to Cumberland
by rail, whence the journey across the Alleghanies to
Brownsville was made in stage coaches. From there


they went down the Monongahela to Pittsburgh by

On this toilsome and tedious journey the soldiers
were accompanied by Asa Packer and William Butler.
The former generously footed transportation bills
amounting to more than one thousand dollars. No
part of this sum was ever refunded to him, nor was
there any demand made for it.

At Pittsburgh the company, numbering eighty-four
men, was mustered into service as a part of the Second
Pennsylvania Kegiment.

Among the officers of the company who afterwards
became prominent were James Miller, the captain, and
Eobert Klotz, lieutenant.

Embarking for New Orleans, the troops reached
there on January 18, 1847, encamping on the field made
famous by Jackson and his celebrated riflemen. Every-
thing passed off pleasantly for a time; but later the
men suffered much from wet and cold, aggravated
by unkind treatment from the natives of the locality.

The transport ship Ocean bore them on a rough
passage to Lobos Island, in the Gulf of Mexico.

Being ordered to Vera Cruz, they landed there early
in March and were attached to General Patterson's
command. On the day subsequent to their arrival, the
men received their baptism of fire, with the ther-
mometer registering one hundred and nine degrees.

Following nearly the same route traveled by Cortez
so long before, vastly outnumbered and facing many
natural obstacles, the Carbon county men formed a
part of the intrepid little army with which General
Scott crushed Santa Anna and captured the city of

At the battle of Chapultepec, Captain Miller was se-
lected by General Quitman to join Major Twiggs, who


had a separate command of two hundred and forty
picked men, constituting the storming party of the

In the assault which followed, Twiggs was disabled
and the command of the party devolved upon Miller,
who, though himself wounded, led the remnant of his
men into the frowning castle of Chapultepec, the last
defense of the city of Mexico. Following the lead of
Miller and his lion-hearted company, the conquering
army swept resistlessly through the San Cosme and
Belen gates, and at nightfall the soldiers of the Union
were in the suburbs of the Mexican capital, while the
war was virtually over.

In the engagement at the National Bridge, Lieuten-
ant Klotz was arrested for refusing to obey orders
when the command was given to spike cannon and re-
treat. The reply which involved him in this difficulty

was: " I didn't come to Mexico to spike cannon!"

After being reprimanded, he was permitted to join his
command the next day at the battle of Cerro Gordo.

One of the Carbon county men, Samuel Horn, had
served as a drummer-boy under General Scott, then
a colonel, at Lundy's Lane, in the second war with
England, and they renewed their friendship in Mexico.

Twenty-three of the Stockton artillerists found sol-
diers' graves in the land beyond the Kio Grande.
Others were wounded and some died of disease after
returning home. Thus the fortunes of war reduced
their ranks to less than half their original number.

After nineteen months of service, the survivors of
the company returned to Pittsburgh, where they were
honorably discharged.

Upon their arrival in Mauch Chunk, on July 20,
1848, they were tendered a great ovation, having previ-
ously enjoyed the hospitality of Easton, Bethlehem,



Allentown and many other places. The sole survivor
of this heroic band is Edward Remmel, who resides
at Mauch Chunk.

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 7 of 44)