Horace Edwin Hayden.

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

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Morgan, at the Susquehanna colleries. There
he remained for the long period of fifteen years,
during which time he gave entire satisfaction
to his employers. He then engaged with the
Stevens Coal Company, of Pittston, filling the
same position. After remaining there a short
time he removed in 1891 to Peckville, and en-
tered the service of the Blue Ridge Coal Com-
pany, filling in a masterly manner the office of
foreman. At the end of seven years this com-
pany was purchased by the Scrahton Coal Com-
pany, to which organization he was transferred
and from which he received the position of fore-
man at the Ontario colliery. This is an ex-
tremely responsible office, involving the superin-
tendence and control of three hundred men, and
the manner in which Mr. Simpson has discharged
the trust proves him to be possessed of no or-
dinary degree of executive ability and fair-
mindedness. As a citizen Mr. Simpson is active
and public-spirited. Since coming to reside in
the borough of Blakely he has held the office
of school director for three terms. He is a
member of Oriental Star Lodge, No. 588, Free
and Accepted Masons. His political affiliations
are with the Republican party.

Mr. Simpson married in 1881, ■Mary A.,
daughter of Charles Meyers, of Hazleton, Penn-
sylvania, and five children have been born to
them, three of whom are living: Le Roy C,
Eugene R., and Jennie L.

JOHN THOMAS CARTWRIGHT. Nan-
ticoke has no more useful citizen than John
Thomas Cartwright. He is a son of Reuben
Cartwright, who was born in England, and in
1879 emigrated to the United States. He set-
tled first in Illinois, but in 1880 decided to make
his home in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, where he



394



THE WYOMING AND LACKAWANNA VALLEYS.



was joined by his family the same year. For
a number of years he was in the service of the
Susquehanna Coal Company, working in vari-
ous capacities, and for seventeen years holding
the position of fire-boss. He has partially aban-
doned the coal business and is now a practical
optician.

Reuben Cartwright married Aluze, daughter
of Mark and Elizabeth (Ashman) Hill, both na-
tives of England, who landed in this country
November 20, 1886. Mr. Hill's calling was that
of a gardener. He and his wife were the parents
of the following children, all of whom were born
in England : Aluze, born November 24, 1847,
became the wife of Reuben Cartwright, as men-
tioned above ; Charlotte, born June, 1849 ; Enoch,
born June, 1851 ; Joseph, born Eebruary, 1855;
Alfred, born October, 1857; Mary, born 1861 ;
and Cecilia, born November 16, 1865. Mr. Hill
died November 24, 1902. Mr. and Mrs. Cart-
wright were the parents of nine children, three
of whom are living: John Thomas, mentioned at
length hereinafter, and two daughters, Sarah
Ellen, married to Thomas Morgan, and Eliza-
beth Ann, wife of Lfrban Sorber.

John Thomas Cartwright, son of Reuben and
Aluze (Hill) Cartwright, was born November
29, 1867, in Monmouthshire, England, and was
thirteen years old when the family came to this
country. He entered the service of the Susque-
hanna Coal Company as a door-boy, from which
position he advanced step by step until he was
placed on the civil engineer corps, and was finally
made borough surveyor, a position which he
still holds. To prepare himself for this advance-
ment he took a special course in the Interna-
tional Correspondence School at Scranton, from
which institution he graduated with honor. In
1902 he was made mine foreman of colliery No.
5, in which responsible capacity he is still serv-
ing, having six hundred men under his charge.
He is a member of Nanticoke Lodge, No. 541,
Free and Accepted Masons, Valley Chapter, No.
214, and Dieu Le Veut Commandery, Knights
Templar, No. 45. He also belongs to Irem Tem-
ple, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles Mystic Shrine,
of Wilkes-Barre, and to John Bunyan Com-
mandery, Knights of Malta, No. 24. In politics
he is an ardent Republican.

Mr. Cartwright married, August 21, 1887,
Harriet Gardner, of Nanticoke, and they are the
parents of the following children : Thomas S.,
born March 10, 1890.; Matilda, born October 28,
1892; William, born October 19, 1896; Elsie,
born .April 14, 1898; Marjorie, born April 9,
1901 ; and John, born September 12, 1904. JNIrs.



Cartwright is the only child of James and Louise
Gardner, and was born August 7, 1869, in Som-
ersetshire, England. She came to this country
in October, 1884, with her parents, who are re?-
idents of Nanticoke.

IRA HOADLEY COLLINS, yard master
for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, which
office he has held for a decade, it being one of
great responsibility and requiring his undivided
attention, is a native of Beach Haven, Salem
township, Luzerne county, Pennsylvania, born
July 6, 1862, a son of John and Elizabeth E.
(McGraw) Collins, and grandson of Michael
Collins, who was one of the pioneers of the Wyo-
ming valley. John Collins (father) was one of
a family of four children — Thomas, Michael,
Catherine, and John — and his birth occurred in
Plymouth township. He was a brickmaker by
trade, which line of work he followed for many
years ; he devoted considerable time to boating,
and for several years later in life served as out-
side foreman of the Susquehanna Coal Com-
pany's mines at Nanticoke. His wife, Elizabeth
E. (McGraw) Collins, who was a native of Sa-
lem township, bore him four children : Florence
E., Thomas N., Ira H., and Ellen, who died in
infancy.

Ira H. Collins was reared and educated in
his native town up to his eighth year. In early
life he secured employment with the Susque-
hanna Coal Company, first as slate picker, next
as driver outside around the mines, and then
driver four years in the mines. The following
three years he gave his attention to farming in
Columbia county. March 14, 1885, he engaged
as brakeman on the Pennsylvania Railroad at
Nanticoke, was promoted to conductor Novem-
ber 23, 1885, which position he held for nine
years, four of which he was in Wilkes-Barre ;
became assistant yard master March 10, 1893,
at Nanticoke, and was appointed yard master
his present position, October i, 1894. His
supervision extends over forty-five miles of
track, which takes in the yard at Nan-
ticoke, and his jurisdiction extends from
Wilkes-Barre to Mocanaqua, all trains with the
exception of scheduled trains, also sixty em-
ployees. Mr. Collins is thoroughly acquainted
with his office and its complex and intricate
workings, and enjoys the full confidence of his
employers. His views on politics coincide with
the principles of the Democratic party, but in
local afl'airs he votes an independent ticket. Mr.
Collins is a member of the Brotherhood of Lo-
comotive Conductors, and the Patriotic Order



THE WYOMING AND LACKAWANNA VALLEYS.



395



Sons of America. On July 7, 1887, j\lr. Collins
married Hattie E. Oplinger, daughter of James
H. and Mary Ann Oplinger. Their children
are: Ethel A., Charles R., Lorin L., Harry F.,
JMarie S., and Ira H., Jr.

Mrs. Ira H. Collins was born October 9,
1863, at Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne county, Penn-
sylvania, and is a descendant of old families on
both the paternal and maternal sides. They
were both of German origin. Her paternal great-
grandfather was George Oplinger, who married
a Miss Rice, and their family consisted of five
children : Reuben, Nathan, Aaron, Henry and
Mrs. Deiter. Reuben Oplinger (grandfather),
son of George Oplinger, was born in Northamp-
ton county, Pennsylvania, in 1815. He came to
Luzerne county in 1835. He married Ellen
Worden, who bore him thirteen children, two
of whom died in infancy, and the names of those
who grew to maturity are as follows : Marv M.,
James H., deceased; Ezra W., John H., Lem-
uel S., Ellen R., deceased; Anna E., Reuben W.,
Thomas M., George W., and Edward F. James
F. Oplinger (father), son of Reuben Oplinger,
was born in Plains, Pennsylvania, in 1839. For
many years he was actively engaged in the lum-
ber business, but subsequently became a con-
tractor for Mr. Parish, and was also engaged
in laying railroad beds, etc. He married, Jan-
uary 23, 1859, Mary A. Stroh, and their chil-
dren were : John W., Sarah J., Mary E., and Hat-
tie E., aforementioned as the wife of Ira H.
Collins. James H. Oplinger lost his life by a
jiremature explosion in 1869.

The maternal great-great-grandfather of
Mrs. Ira H. Collins was David Stroh, a native
of Germany, who came to this country in 1742,
locating in New Jersey. One of his sons, Henry
Stroh, fought in the war of the Revolution and
was wounded at the battle of Trenton. After
the termination of the war he removed to North-
ampton county, Pennsylvania, and purchased a
large tract of land, upon which he erected a saw-
mill. He married Christina E. Strauss, who was
born in Germany in 1760, and five years later
was brought to this countrv by her parents, wlio
settled at Bethlehem, Northampton countv,
Pennsylvania. Four children were the issue of
this union : Henrv, Benjamin, Lydia and Peter.
The sons were all millers by occupation ;' thev
removed to Luzerne county in 1825, and the mill
of George Hollenback was operated bv them.
Mrs. Henry Stroh, while visiting a friend, ]\Irs.
Mauller, at whose house the battle of Brandy-
wine was planned, at Lancaster, Pennsylvania,
to which place her people had moved, helped to



cook and serve breakfast for General Washing-
ton on the day that the battle of Brandywine
was fought. Peter Stroh, youngest son of Henry
Stroh, was born in Hamilton township. In
1828 he moved to Tuttle's Mill, later to Ross'
Mill, and finally to Wilkes-Barre, where with one
of his sons, John, he was drowned while crossing
the river. His wife was Julia Neyhart, a native
of Stroudsburg, Monroe county, Pennsylvania,
and to them was born seven children, six of
whom grew to maturity, namely : Amos, Henry
W., Elizabeth, Mary A., Sarah A., and Lvdia E.
Mrs. Mary A. Oplinger and Mrs. Elizabeth
Finch are the only survivors.

F. H. KOHLBRAKER, superintendent of
the Susquehanna Coal Company, at Nanticoke, is
one of the representative men of the Wyoming
Valley, a man who has risen step by step to a
position of prominence and responsibility, and
whose active career is well worthy of emulation.
Personally he is a man of genial and affable dis-
position, one whom it is a pleasure to meet and
who holds a high place in the regard of his fel-
low-citizens. He was born in Pottsville, Schuyl-
kill county, Pennsylvania, December 15, 1857, a
son of George H. and Mary (Bauman) Kohl-
braker.

George H. Kohlbraker (father) was a native
of Germany, was reared, educated, learned his
trade of wheelwright, and was married in the
Fatherland, and about the year 1850 emigrated
to the L'nited States, locating at Shamokin,
Northumberland county, Pennsylvania, where
for twenty years he served as outside foreman.
His wife, whose maiden name was Mary Bau-
man, a native of Germany, bore him twelve chil-
dren : IMary, deceased ; Elizabeth, F. H., Cather-
ine, Anna, deceased ; George, Ida. Agnes, Gert-
rude, Henry. jMargaret, and John, deceased.
Mr. Kohlbraker lost his life by accident in 1865.
His widow is living at the present time (1905).

F. H. Kohlbraker, whose name heads this
sketch, being the eldest son, assumed the respon-
sibility of the familv at the demise of his 'father.
Like a dutiful son and a young hero he straight-
ened up under the burden and faithfully and
manfully took the place of the honored dead.
He made suitable provisions for the future useful-
ness of his vounger brothers and sisters by look-
ing after their proper education and by prepar-
ing them for a life of profitable service. The
public schools of Shamokin, Pennslvania, af-
forded him the means of obtaining a practical
education which thoroughly qualified him for the
duties and responsibilities of life. At the age of



396



THE WYOMING AND LACKAWANNA VALLEYS.



sixteen he entered the coal breaker as slate
picker, in time being miner, fireman, engineer,
holding the two latter positions for sixteen years,
breaker boss, outside foreman, and in 1897 was
appointed superintendent of the collieries at Sha-
mokin, which position he held up to 1901, when
he took his present office, that of superintendent
of the Susquehanna Coal Company at Nanticoke.
He has entire control of the interests of the
company, and has under his personal supervision
forty-five hundred men. He has been in the em-
ploy of this same management (the Pennsylva-
nia) from his boyhood up and thoroughly under-
stands the wants and requirements of the men.
He looks after their comfort and interest, and in
return demands from them labor well and faith-
fully performed for the companv he represents,
and by reason of his sterling characteristics is
universally admired and respected by the com-
pany and men. As a citizen he is active and
alert, aiding to the best of his ability enterprises
that tend to promote the welfare of the people.
He is a director of First National Bank of Nan-
ticoke.

On November 28, 1899. ^^''- Kohlbraker was
imited in marriage to Rebecca Morrison, who
bore him one daughter, Mary, born March 26,
1902.

JOHN T. THOI\LA.S. There is probably no
man in Luzerne county more thoroughly identi-
fied with the production of coal than John T.
Thomas, of Nanticoke. Mr. Thomas is a son of
Thomas Thomas, who was born in Wales, and in
1882 emigrated to the L^nited States and settled
in Shamokin, Northumberland county, where he
engaged in mining. He was a deacon in the
Welsh Congregational Church, but subsequently
became a member of the English Presbyterian.
His wife was Rachel Jones, also a native of
Wales, and they were the parents of nine chil-
dren, six of whom grew to maturity : William,
Thomas, Rachel, Sarah, Marv J., and John T..
mentioned at length hereafter. The life of
r)enjamin Thomas, one of the deceased sons of
this family, afifords a striking example of the
extent to which force of character mav triumph
over physical disabilities. While working in the
mines he lost his right arm and the left hand,
with the exception of the thumb and index finger.
In this condition he attended school, passed a
creditable examination and sfrnduated from the
Shamokin high school, finishing at the Lock
Haven State Normal School. He subsequently
became principal of the Shamokin high school.
He possessed a fine tenor voice, and was in all



respects one of those men of whose personality
and attainments it is scarcely possible to speak
too highly. His early death was a loss to the
community as well as to his family. Mr.
Thomas, the father, was a truly worthy man. His
death occurred in 1902, in Shamokin, aged sixty-
four years, and his widow is still living in Sha-
mokin, Pennsylvania.

John T. Thomas^ son of Thomas and Rachel
(Jones) Thomas, was born April 25, 1856, in
pont Berne, Carmarthenshire, Wales, and at the
age of ten years began to work in the mines. In
1880 he emigrated to the United States and set-
tled at Shamokin, where for some time he was
employed as a miner by small individual enter-
prises. As soon, however, as his capabilities be-
came sufficiently known, he was promoted to the
position of fire-boss, which is one of the most
responsible in the mines. This he retained for
four years, two years in the Henry Clay colliery,
and two years in the Garfield colliery. In 1888
he began to work under the management of the
Susquehanna Coal Company, and in 1892 was
promoted to be assistant mine foreman at the
Cameron colliery. In 1895 he was made mine
foreman, a position which he held until 1899,
when he was advanced to the post of first assist-
ant superintendent at Nanticoke, a place which
he fills at the present time with the full confidence
ot the company and the respect of the men. He
has under his control four thousand men, also
three collieries, the output of coal being twenty-
four hundred tons per day of nine hours. The
company have fourteen openings producing coal,
nine of the openings being shafts, besides seven
abandoned openings. One of these is nine hun-
dred and ninety feet deep, another one thousand
one hundred and seventy feet deep, the other
depths ranging from two to seven hundred feet.
In discharging the duties of his position Mr.
Thomas employs the best that is in himself, and
thus draws out the best that is in his men, this
being one secret of his great success. He is a
stockholder in the First National Bank of Nan-
ticoke.

Mr. Thomas possesses the musical gift so
universal among his countrymen, and in 1897,
while at Shamokin, organized a Mozart Glee
club of thirty voices. Since his residence in Nan-
ticoke he has organized and conducts the Nanti-
coke Glee and Oratorio Society which numbers
eighty voices. Mr. Thomas himself sings both
tenor and bass. He is a member of Nanticoke
Lodge, No. 541, F. and A. M.. of Sljamokin
Chapter. No. 265, and also of Shamokin Com-
manderv, K. T. He is a strong advocate of tem-



THE WYOMING AND LACKAWANNA VALLEYS.



39r



perance, and in politics is an ardent Republican.
He is a member of the Presbyterian church, in
the spiritual and musical work of which he is
actively engaged. ..mle at Shamokin he was
for fifteen years leader of the choir, and it may
be truthfully said that no better singing could be
produced by a choir than that rendered by the
choir of the Presbyterian Church at Shamokin.
He is president of the Young Men's Christian
Association of Nanticoke, in which position he
has raised a large sum of money to pay ofif the
debt of the association and place it on a firm
financial basis.

Mr. Thomas married, January 15, 1879,
Sarah, daughter of David and Mary Davis, and
of the six children born to them three are living :
David J., Benjamin and Emrys.

JOHN REAP. Among the old residents of
Avoca, none is better known or more highly re-
spected than John Reap. Mr. Reap is a son of
Thomas Reap, who was born in Ireland and mar-
ried Bridget Dugan, a native of the same county.
Their family consisted of five children, three of
whom are now in the United States: Michael,
Jr., Martin, and John, mentioned at length here-
after. Mr. and INIrs. Reap died in their native
land.

John Reap, son of Thomas and Bridget
(Dugan) Reap, was born June 25, 1842, in
county Mayo, Ireland, and in i860 emigrated to
the United States. He settled first in Bucks
county, Pennsylvania, where for nearly a year he
was employed on a farm. In 1861 he moved to
Moscow, Madison township, Luzerne county, and
entered the service of the Delaware, Lackawanna
& Western Railroad, for whom he worked three
years as a track hand. In 1864 the company pro-
moted him to the position of foreman of repairs,
and in March of that year he was employed by
the United States government in the construction
of militarv railroads. This obliged him to follow
the movements of the army, in consequence of
which he was often under fire of the enemy while
in the discharge of his duty. On the records in
Washington, District of Columbia, may be seen
the following: "John Reap was a civilian as
sub-foreman at a salary of $3.00 per day, under
Captain F. T. Starkweather, Assistant Quarter-
master United States Military Railroads, Mili-
tarv Division of the Mississippi, from March i,
1864, to May 15, 1865, and as foreman at $100
per month from Alay 16, i86,S, to July 16, 1865.
He ranked as first lieutenant."

On his return to civil life J\Ir. Reap settled in



North Carolina, where he was employed in the
construction of a new railroad. In July, 1866,
he returned to Moscow, and the same year re-
moved to the oil region of Pennsylvania, where
he became a member of the civil engineer corps.
After a time he secured the position of foreman
for a company in Wilkes-Barre, and from that
place was transferred to White Haven, where he
remained for a short time. In 1868 he removed
to Avoca, where in company with his cousin,
Martin Reap, he engaged in the general mer-
chandise business. In 1871 he was employed by
Mr. J. H. Sawyer, a coal operator, and in 1872.
entered the service of the Delaware & Hudson
Company, as track-foreman, working between
Moosic and Pittston. This position he retained
for thirteen years, resigning in 1885, in order to
accept a similar position with the Erie & Wyo-
ming Valley Railroad Company in whose service
he remained for sixteen years. In 1901 he
turned his attention to the insurance business, be-
coming an agent for the Metropolitan Company.
Finding the employment, however, uncongenial,
he abandoned it and took a position with the
Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Railroad Com-
pany in its construction department. In 1902 he
iDecame a track foreman for the Hillside Coal &
Iron Company, a position which he still retains.
Some years since he built for himself a beautiful
and commodious dwelling furnished with every
facility for comfort and convenience. Mr. Reap
holds a high place in the regard of his fellow
citizens, by whom he has been thrice elected jus-
tice of the peace, his terms of office not, however,
being consecutive. He has served two terms as
school director, and for the last six years has
held the office of notary public. He is a member
of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

Mr. Reap married, in 1869, Maria Grimes,
and the following children have been born to
them : Catherine, who became the wife of John
Early; Henry E., deceased; Elizabeth, also de-
ceased ; Bea, who is the wife of Floyd Porter ;
Nellie ; John R., an attorney at the Luzerne
county bar; Edward J.; Mary P.; James A.;
Thomas A. ; Frances ; and Agnes C. Mrs. Reap
is a daughter of Richard and Ann (Armstrong)
Grimes, and was born in Ireland, in 1853. The
same year her parents emigrated to the United
States. Their daughter, by reason of her tender
age, was left in her native land in the care of
relatives until 1863, when she joined her parents
in their new home. Mr. and Mrs. Grimes now
reside on their farm at Elmhurst, enjoying the
well earned fruits of long and useful lives.



398



THE WYOMING AND LACKAWANNA VALLEYS.



WILLLA.AI HENRY HOLLISTER. One
of the self-made men who are an honor to any
community is Wilham Henry HolHster, of
Avoca. Mr. Hollister is the son of Amos G.
Holhster, a prosperous farmer of Susquehanna
county, who married Lydia Tiffany, and became
the father of the following children : Amos P.,
who served three years in the Union army during
the Civil war ; two daughters who married re-
spectively R. K. Baily and A. Woodworth ; Wil-
liam Henry, mentioned at length hereafter :
Orville D., who is a farmer of Newton township ;
and another daughter, who became the wife of
Dr. E. A. Kent, and is now deceased.

William Henry Hollister, son of Amos G. and
Lydia (Tiffany) Hollister, was born in 1850, in
Susquehanna county. Pennsylvania, and passed
his bo}-hood on his father's farm, receiving his
primary education in the public schools. This
instruction he supplemented by a course at the
high school. In 1877 he moved to Avoca, where
on a small capital he engaged in mercantile busi-
ness. In this enterprise he was very successful,
and in 1889, in company with C. C. Bowman,
leased the colliery now controlled by the Avoca
Coal Company. Of this company Mr. Hollister
is general manager. The mine was first opened
and operated in 1872 by J. H. Swayer, who after-
ward sold it to the Hillside Company, from whom
it was leased by Hollister & Bowman. There is^
one shaft seventy-five feet deep and one drift
connecting with the shaft. The output of coal
is about ten hundred tons per day, the machinery
is the most complete in the coal belt, and the
working force consists of about five hundred
hands. In connection with the colliery is a well-
furnished store of which Mr. Hollister is general
manager. In addition to his duties in connection
with the production of coal, Mr. Hollister finds
time for attention to a variety of other interests.
In 1898 he became general manager of the Avoca
Electric Light & Heat Company, in which he is
a heavy stockholder. He has an interest in the
gold and silver producing mines of Colorado,
and is a director in the Sterling Mine & Tunnel
Company of that state. He is president of the
Indicator Construction Company, of Scranton,
and also of the Lippincott Steam Specialty and
Supply Company. Mr. Hollister is held in the
highest esteem by his fellow-citizens, and in 1894
served the borough as burgess. He is a mem-
ber of Pittston Lodge, No. 233, F. and A. M.,
in which he has held the rank of worshipful mas-
ter. He also belongs to Chapter, No. 242, of



Online LibraryHorace Edwin HaydenGenealogical and family history of the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys, Pennsylvania; (Volume 2) → online text (page 82 of 130)