Horace Edwin Hayden.

Genealogical and family history of the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys, Pennsylvania; (Volume 2) online

. (page 17 of 130)
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railroad companies have entered into contract,
with the management for the technical educa-
tion of their employes, thirty-five thousand of
whom are now under instruction. The Schools
also give thorough preparation to applicants for
practically all positions in the various depart-
ments of the United States government, which
are only attainable through civil service examina-
tions, for which the International Correspond-
ence Schools afiford ample preparation. In this
work the methods of the Schools are practically
identical with those of the Civil Service Com-
mission, the examination blanks being of the
same nature, and the grading being similarly
conducted.

Air. Foster, who, for his great services as
epitomized in this narrative, is justlv to be ac-
counted as a public benefactor of the highest and
most practical type, is closely identified with the
community life of the city of Scranton, and is
held in the highest regard for his business abil-
ities, public spirit and genial personality. He
is a member of the Scranton Board of Trade, a
director in the Traders' National Bank, and' is
interested in various other financial and com-
merical institutions. He is of scholarly dispo-
sition and aesthetic tastes, and carries into his
varied business relations, and particularly the
great educational system of which he is the head,
a degree of healthy sentimentalism which dis-
tinguishes him from the many whose only am-
bitions are based upon a purely commercial
spirit, and look only to financial returns for their
life effort.

Air. Foster comes of an excellent English an-
cestry, tracing his descent from Reginald Foster,
who came from Ipswich, England, in 1638. His
great-great-grandfather, Thomas Foster, was a
resident of Ipswich, Massaciuisetts ; he was one
of the minutemen at Lexington ; a lieutenant in
the patriot army during the Revolution, and was
honorably discharged in 1778, being past the age
for military service. Daniel, son of Lieut. Thorn- .
as Foster, took his father's place in the armv,
and it was his distinguished honor to be a mem-
ber of the Alarquis de Lafayette's select battal-
ion until the end of the war, and to rise to the
rank of captain. Jesse Foster, son of Captain



78



THE WYOMING AND LACKAWANNA VALLEYS.



Daniel Foster, came from Xewburyport, J\las-
sachusetts, to Pottsville. Pennsylvania, in Feb-
ruary, 183 1, where he became a prosperous mer-
chant, and resided until his death. He was a
member of the First Presbyterian Church. He
married Elizabeth Tappan, of Newburyport,
Massachusetts, and their children were : Thomas,
father of Thomas J. Foster; Mrs. Oliver Dob-
son, Mrs. Edward Shisler, Clement S., father of
Rufus J. Foster, a sketch of whom appears in
. this work ; Fred L. and Mrs. E. N. Harpel.

JOHN D. PECK. The members of the Peck
family have been foremost in the line of original
: settlement in the Lackawanna Valley, have risen
to the first rank in the development of its indus-
tries, and in the improvement and building up of
the town of Peckville, Pennsylvania, they have
been important and influential factors. The
family is of English origin, the ancestors having
belonged to the aristocracy of their native land,
where they figured in the highest walks of life.
The first member of the family to emigrate to this
country was Joseph Peck, in 1638. He settled
in New England, where his descendants became
numerous and influential. They have filled many
of the first offices of the state, have represented
the useful and honorable professions, and have
always proved themselves loyal citizens and orna-
ments to society.

Abraham Peck, great-grandfather of John D.
Peck, was born in Massachusetts, December 23,
1723. He subsequently removed to Colerain,
Franklin county, same state, where his death oc-
curred on July 18, 1798, in the seventy-fifth year
■ of his age. His son, Abraham, Jr., grandfather
of John D. Peck, was born June 24, 1767, and died
in 1831. On February 3, 1790, he was united in
marriage to Miss Arathusa Calvin, who was born
April II, 1771, and died August 23, 1824. The
children of Abraham, Jr., and Arathusa (Calvin)
Peck are as follows: Calvin, born November i,
1791 ; Samuel, born January 15, 1793 ; John, born
May 27, 1794; Jerre, born February 6, 1796;
Moses, born May 2, 1798 ; Arathusa, born Octo-
ber 12, 1801 : Matilda, born November 27, 1804:
Laura, born December 21, 1806: Abraham, born
November 7, 1808; Lovella, born May 7, 1811 ;
Joanna, born September 28, 1813 : Moses, born
September 26, 1816, and' Harriet, born August
12, 1826.

Samuel Peck, of the above family, father of
John D. Peck, removed from Massachusetts,
where he was born, reared and educated, to Penn-
sylvania, in 1831. Lackawanna Valley was then
an unbroken wilderness, and Scranton was un-



known. He purchased a large tract of land in
and around Peckville, and in 1839 erected a saw
and grist mill. He was a thoroughgoing Yan-
kee, manufactured lumber on a large scale, but
confined himself to the lumber of commerce, leav-
ing for others the mahogany hams and wooden
nutmegs. He manufactured builders' supplies,
such as doors, window sashes and other articles
used in his day. He also supplied the market
from his grist mill.

December 31, 18 16, Samuel Peck married
Sarah Wilson, who was born June 20, 1792, and
their children were : Samuel L., born November

28, 1817 ; Mary A., born April 4, 1819 ; Sarah W.,
born June 25, 1821 ; Arathusa 15., born December

29, 1823; Jonathan W., born July 9, 1826; Ema-
line C, born May 8, 1829 : Elvira C, born May 8,
1829, twin of Emaline C. : John Dwight, born
April 26, 1831, mentioned hereinafter: and Cal-
vin, born July 21, 1834. After the death of the
mother of these children, Samuel Peck married
Susan Snider, the ceremony having been perform-
ed on January 28, 1845 • one child was the issue
of this union, William W., born March 9, 1847.
Mrs. Susan (Snider) Peck died August 11, 1857.

John D. Peck, third son of Samuel and Sarah
(Wilson) Peck, was born April 26, 183 1. After
acquiring an education in the schools of the neigh-
borhood, he, in connection with his brother Jon-
athan W., worked with their father in the lumber
business until 1861, in which year they established
a lumber business on their own account in Peck-
ville. This connection continued for twenty
years, and at the expiration of that period of time
they sold out to the Peck Manufacturing Com-
pany of Peckville, John D. serving in the capacity
of president of the company. He is one of the
well known and much respected men in the Lack-
awanna valley, and in addition to his incumbency
of the office of president of the Peck jManufactur-
ing Company is also interested in the United
States Lumber Company. Mr, Peck has been hon-
ored by the office of chief burgess of Blakely,
which he held one term : member of council for
three terms, and a member of the school board for
thirteen years. His political affiliations are with
the Republican party. His religious views coincide
with those advocated by the Methodist Episcopal
Church, and he has been a faithful and staunch
upholder of that doctrine for over forty years,
serving as trustee during all that long period.
Mr. Peck is a member of Oriental Star Lodge,
No. 588. Free and Accepted INlasons of Peckville,
and a member of the chapter and commandery of
Scranton.

Mr. Peck has been married three times. First,




f<-.','tl -^l.'^ :VMi-A.ti - jj:*.




THE WYOMING AND LACKAWANNA VALLEYS.



79



■to j\liss Sarah Snider, on August 25, 1852. To
this union were born three children : George C,
July 7, 1853; Sanford D., February 28, 185b: and
Byron N., j\Iarch 7, 1858. Mrs. Sarah (Snider)
Peck died in 1858. Mr. Peck married for his sec-
ond wife Miss Delano Stone on November 8,
i860. She was born December 25, 1839, and died
in 1876. Their children were : Herbert J., born
.September 15, 1863; Bertha E.. born April 19,
1866; William G., born October 13, 1868; Arthur
M.. born August 22, 1873; and Dilla E., born
February i, 1876. Air. Peck married for his third
wife Mary F. Robinson on January 16, 1878.

ANDREW NICOL, deceased, was a worthy
iigure among a group of typical Scotchmen who
were early comers to the Lackawanna valley, and
who contributed in a highly superior degree to
the development of the industrial interests of that
now world-famous region. His associate fellow-
countrymen, and with whom he was intimately
related in business and social affairs, were such
strong characters as Thomas Dickson, Edward
Weston and A. H. Vandling. All of this excel-
lent company have now passed away Mr. \'and-
ling last of all, surviving Mr. Nicol by but a
year. Mr. Nichol was a fine representative of
the sturdy race from which he sprang, possessing
all those traits of character for which it has ever
been noted — unflagging industry and persever-
ance, conscientious devotion to principle, and un-
impeachable integrity. His fidelity and worth
are discernable in his service with one great cor-
poration for the long period of forty-five years,
and his masterly ability in his calling by the high-
est honor therein which the government of Penn-
sylvania could bestow. His personal life was ex-
emplary throughout and was characterized by all
that marks the truly good citizen and blameless
christian.

He was born at Troughrig, in the parish of
Girvan, Ayrshire, Scotland, August 20, 1817,
and was baptized at Dalquharran, in the parish
of New Daily. His parents were John and Janet
(Gray) Nicol. The Xicol (originally MacNicol)
family originated in the Highlands. John Nicol
was a carpenter and millwright to. the Right Hon-
orable Thomas Francis Kennedy, of Dalquharran,
who was owner of two collieries which had been
in operation for more than two hundred years. In
185 1 he came to America with his family and set-
tled in Carbondale. Pennsylvania, where he died
at the age of seventy-six vears, and his wife at
the age of seventy years. She was also a native of
Ayrshire, Scotland, and of the Covenanter faith.



They were the parents of seven children, of whom
Andrew was the second.

At the age of thirteen years Andrew Nicol
began to learn carpentry under his father and
after four years' service went to Glasgow, where
he worked as a journeyman giving his spare time
to studying draughting and pattern making.
After two years thus spent he engaged as a pat-
tern maker in the Girdwood foundry at Trades-
ton, Glasgow, and a year later entered the Sum-
merlee Iron Works at Cote Bridge in the same
capacity. After one years' service manager Wal-
ter Nelson transferred him to the machine shop,
where he acquitted himself with so much credit
that after two years he was made foreman. Mean-
time he had determined to fit himself for mining
engineering, to that end studying geology and
inineralogy, and six months after his promotion
he sought and obtained employment with the en-
gineering force of the works, thus gaining op-
portunity to obtain practical as well as theoretical
knowledge of the science which he had chosen for
his life work. He made rapid advancement, and
at the end of eighteen months was appointed as-
sistant superintendent of mines and machinery,
and remained with the company until October
I, 1847, when he was engaged to take charge of
the Kennedy mines and machinery at Dalquhar-
ran (where his father yet resided) and he con-
tinued in this employment until Alarch, 1851.

April 6, 1851, Mr. Nicol sailed from Glasgow
in the ship "Alary Morris," and arrived in New
York on May 18. He was in the prime of life,
thirty-four years of age, the personification of
manly vigor and ambition, and the master of a
profession which (and especially in the United
States) offered attractive opportunities. He had
given "hostage to fortune," for he brought with
him wife and children, and his parents also ac-
companied him. The day after landing in New
York, Air. Nicol went on to Albany, thence to
Schenectady and Scotia, where respectively were
located his brothers \\'illiam, John and James,
who had come to the country before him. Leav-
ing his family with his brother William, in Al-
bany, on June ist he went to Pennsylvania. On
his arrival in Carbondale he sought out an old-
country friend, Air. Bryden, who gave him intro-
duction to James Clarkson, superintendent of the
coal department of the Delaware & Hudson Canal
Company, who at once gave him a position as his
assistant. As a keynote to the character of the
man it is to be remarked that in this same week,
the first of his employment in the land of his
adoption, Mr. Nicol purchased a home, and dur-



8o



THE WYOMING AND LACKAWANNA VALLEYS.



ing his entire life after liis coming he never lived
in a rented house.

Mr. Nicol served as assistant to Mr. Clark-
son in the Carbondale mines until 1863, when he
was appointed general superintendent. He was
so occupied until 1870, when he came to Scran-
ton, still in the employ of the same company,
which owned mines from Carbondale to Wilkes-
Barre. Here he served as mining engineer and
inside superintendent, and at one time went to
Sheffield, Illinois, to open up a mine for his com-
pany.

In 1870 Mr. Nicol was awarded a well de-
served distinction. In that year the legislature
enacted a law providing for the inspection of
the anthracite coal fields, and he was recom-
mended for the position. In compliance with the
provisions of the law he appeared before the
state board of engineers, and. after passing a
rigid examination covering every department of
mine operation, received the only first-class cer-
tificate issued by the board, whereupon Governor
John W. Geary commissioned him inspector of
coal mines for the eastern district of Pennsyl-
vania, for a term of five years. July 20 shortly
after receiving his commission Mr. Nicol was re-
lieved from service with his company and en-
tered upon his new duties. His new vocation
called him so constantly from home that it proved
distasteful to a man oi his domestic habits, and
in December of the same year he resigned, the
same day resuming his former position with the
Delaware & Hudson Company. He was so em-
ployed until January I, 1874, when he asked re-
lief from duties which had become overweighty.
To some degree his wishes were complied with,
but, instead of being allowed respite from all la-
bors, he was engaged to take charge of the Green
Ridge colliery. In 1875 he resumed his former
position with the Delaware & Hudson Company,
which he occupied until January i, 1897. when
he was permanently relieved. To this time he
had served the company a greater length of time
than any other man in its employ, a period of
forty-six years, with signal ability and unselfish
loyalt}-, and. in consideration o,f his long and
valued service, he was placed upon the retired
list, with a pension.

Such was the greater part of the life of An-
drew Nicol. True to one of the chief characteris-
tics of his race, he was devoted (in the full
meaning of the word) to his calling, not simply
as such, or as a means of livelihood. He held to
a lofty conception of duty, and estimated at the
fullest the weight of his responsibilities in guard-
ing the interests of his employers and the lives



of the men under him. These considerations
pressed upon him to that degree that he could
not be persuaded to enter upon public life,
though he was repeatedly solicited to become a
candidate for mayor and assemblyman. From
this it is not to be inferred that he neglected com-
munity afl^airs. No man felt a deeper interest
in the welfare of his town and the well-being of
his neighbors, and he exercised an influence po-
tent for good. A man of cool judgment and
careful observation, discreet, conservative and
eminently practical and the soul of honor in all
the relations of life, he bore himself with spot-
lessness of character ; and, when his advice was
sought, as it frequently was, his approvals or
warnings were known to be the dictates of a
sympathetic heart and wholly unselfish mind. He
was a liberal contributor to deserving charities
and to the relief of those of the community who
might be overtaken by misfortune, bestowing his
benefactions so modestly that few o.f his most in-
timate friends knew of them. He was deeply at-
tached to the religion of his forbears, and was-
one of the founders of the Green Ridge Presby-
terian Church, of which he was a worthy mem-
ber from its formation to the end of his life.

Mr. Nicol passed away, at the family home,
corner of Dickson avenue and Delaware street.
Green Ridge, on August 6, 1898. being within
fourteen days of completing his eighty-first year.
The funeral services were held at the same place,
August 9, and were largely attended. The in-
terment was in Dunmore cemetery. Following a
time honored custom of his native Scotland, the
remains of the deceased were conveyed to their
last resting place by the nearest male relatives
(two grandsons and four nephews) acting as
pallbearers.

On June 12, 1846, five years before leaving
Scotland, and when in his twenty-ninth year, Mr.
Nicol married Helen Brown, born in (Maybole)
Ayrshire, secontl daughter of David and Agnes
(Haswell) Brown, and granddaughter of John
Brown and William Haswell. Her father was a
merchant and manufacturer. Her brother William
resides in Green Ridge, Pennsylvania. Five chil-
dren were born to Mr. and Mrs. Nicol, two in
Scotland, and the others in this country. Janet
died in early childhood : .Andrew came to his
death in the mines in September, 1889 ; Agnes
died young ; Margaret and Mary alone survive.
Mr. Nicol gave to the rearing of his children the
affectionate and conscientious care which charac-
terized the Scotch parent of a bygone day, and
those who came to maturity stand as monuments
to the highest Christian duty faithfully performed.-



THE WYOMING AND LACKAWANNA VALLEYS.



81



The noble character of the son, Andrew B. Nicol,
his heroism and his pitiful death, are dwelt upon
in another narrative. Margaret, the elder of the
living sisters, has for three years past served as
an assistant to the pastor of the Green Ridge
Presbyterian Church, and within a year has made
as many as two thousand visits to his parishioners
and the homes of sorrow and want. The younger
sister, Mary, cares for the family home, and for
the aged mother who, while blessed in the com-
panionship of the children who remain with her,
holds constant communion with the loved ones
gone before.

"More homelike seems the vast unknown

Since they have entered there ;

To follow them were not so hard

Wherever they may fare.

They cannot he where God is not,

On any sea or shore ;

Whate'er betides, Thy love abides.

Our God for ever more !"

ANDREW B. NICOL. In all the history of
the Lackawanna valley there is no more distress-
ing event recorded, nor any story of more heroic
effort and self-sacrifice for the sake of others,
than that relating to the death of Andrew B.
Nicol, general superintendent of mines of the Del-
aware & Hudson Canal Company, on September
14 1889. His heroism and great personal cour-
age form a narrative well worth the repeating,
for it is from such examples that others in suc-
ceeding times catch the inspiration to dare and
even die for their fellows. He inherited the pa-
ternal characteristics ; became widely known as
one of the most accomplished miners in all the
great Pennsylvania coal region ; and, as is at-
tested by his life as well as his death, was a noble
manly character.

He was a native of Scotland, born in the par-
ish of Dalquharran, Ayrshire, April i, 1849, son
of Andrew Xicol. He was but two years old when
his parents came to the United States, settling in
Carbondale. From his early youth he manifested
an intense desire to engage in mining, and, after
acquiring a rudiinentary education, declined an
ofifer to send him to a distant school for a techni-
cal training, preferring to engage in practical
work. He entered the surveying corps of the
Delaware & Hudson Canal Company when fif-
teen years old, and gave his attention diligently
to all in which he was called to engage or which
he could observe. It was a fortunate period for
him, for the company was extending its opera-
tions down the Lackawanna Valley, continually
absorbing new coal fields, opening new mines
2-e



and enlarging old workings. Nothing escaped
his close attention, and he became so familiar
with all the details of mine operations, both above
and under ground, that before he was twenty
years old he became assistant to his father in su-
perintending the workings of the mines about
Providence (now Scranton) while his father was
engaged about Carbondale. Subsequently the
elder Xicol was moved to Green Ridge, and the
son succeeded him at Carbondale. It was a try-
ing position for so young a man — he but a youth,
set over mine bosses whose hair had grown gray
in the service. It is, however, equally creditable
to him and them that they held each other in mu-
tual respect — they rightly esteemed his earnest-
ness, ability and courage, and gave him their ad-
miration and loyal efifort ; he respected them for
their years, their experience and their devotion,
and he made them his familiar friends, for years
meeting them almost nightly, rehearsing with
them the events of the day, and planning for those
of the morrow. Thus deeply interested, Mr,
Kicol developed an aptitude for his calling which
can only be characterized as phenomenal. He
came to know every miner and breaker-boy by
name ; knew every mine room, in all its details,
as intimately as though he worked in it contin-
ually and in it alone. There was not an aban-
doned working in his district which he had not
entered ; not a neighboring mine he had not ex-
plored. His ability found recognition, and the
area of his district was enlarged from time to
time until, as his father's assistant, he was given
the charge of all the Company's mines between
Forest Citv and Plymouth, a distance of forty-
five miles. In 1884 he assumed the duties hith-
erto devolving upon his father (who had been in-
capacitated while fighting a fire in the Leggett
Creek mines) and in 1885 he removed to Green
Ridge and took full charge of the company's
mines, a position which he held until his death.

The foregoing chronological narrative of the
service of Mr. Nicol affords suggestion enough
of the responsibilities devolving upon him, but
nothing of the dangers which he daily incurred.
The danger was shared in by all his men, but
he carried an awful responsibility in the convic-
tion that he was in a manner their guardian and
protector : and in times of disaster, actual or im-
pending, he displayed a degree of valor in no way
inferior ( in instances superior) to that of the
soldier in the storm of battle. In whatever emer-
gency, his self-possession never forsook him, and
his resourcefulness seemed exhaustless. A strik-
ing instance is found in the case of the Marvine
shaft disaster. A portion of the mine had fallea



82



THE WYOMING AND LACKAWANNA VALLEYS.



in, closing up three different avenues of approach
to the workings beyond and imprisoning eight
miners. Mr. Nicol at once made a personal ex-
amination, and immediately planned for their
rescue. They could only be reached by driving a
passage way through one hundred and fifty-four
feet of solid coal. Setting a course from the
mine-map, he set his men at work in relays, tak-
ing up night as well as day continuously, and per-
sonallv superintending the operations from be-
ginning to finish. j\Ir. Nicol was the first to
enter the chamber when the wall was finally pen-
etrated. All the poor fellows were found dead,
but this dreadful conclusion does not dim the lus-
tre of the achievement which it was hoped would
prove their rescue. The instance related is only
one of many to testify to his courage and per-
sistency. Yet he was never rash, in any sense of
the word. He would not expose himself or his
men to what he deemed a useless danger, nor
would he ask a man to go where he was not
ready to lead.

The death of Mr. Nicol was due to a
"squeeze" in the Eddy Creek mines of the Dela-
ware & Hudson Canal Company, near Olyphant.
Taking with him fire boss Lavin and three other
bosses (Mason, Williams and Jones) he went in,
examining for gas or other evidence of danger.
On their way they passed where a fallen aid-
bridge had left a large cavity in the roof. Going
on to the edge of the fall they listened for a time,



Online LibraryHorace Edwin HaydenGenealogical and family history of the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys, Pennsylvania; (Volume 2) → online text (page 17 of 130)