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History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania online

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were operated for shipment, they were in charge of .fohn James, a native of
Pontypool. Wales, and a practical miner. The production from the opening of the
mines until the suspension of mining for shipment was as follows: -Arbon Coal
Company. 4!l,(333 tons; William ^I. ^yiallory >S: Comi)any. 405,110 tons, and Duman S.
Ma;;ee, representing his fatiur, John :\[agee, TS.iHid tons, making a total of .■■)33,:45
tons of coal mined at Blossbur;,' between ISIO and lS."i9.

The history of the organization of the Morris Run Coal Alining Company, the
Fall Brook Coal Company, the lUossburg Coal Company, and of the (Jaines Coal
and Ciiko Company, as well as of the opening of the mines at Alorris Run, Fall
Brook, Arnot, .\ntrini, Landrus and (iaines, will bo found in the township and
boroupli chapters dealing with those plaees, where nu'Ution is also made of the con-
struction of the various railroads eonneeted with the>e mines.



126 HISTORY OF TIOGA COUNTY.

SIE CHAELBS LYBLL'S VISIT.

The coal mines at Blossbnrg were \isited in 1841, by Sir Charles Lyell, the emi-
nent English geologist. The distinguished visitor was the guest of Dr. Lewis
Saynisch, then the president of the Arbon Coal Company, and appears to have been
deeply impressed with what he saw. After his return to England he published the
following account of his visit to the mines:

It was the first time I had seen true coal in America, and I was very much struck
with its surprising analogy in mineral and fossil character to that of Europe; the same
white grits or sandstones as are used for building near Edinburg or Newcastle; similar
black slates, often bituminous, with leaves of fern spread out as in an herbarium, the
species being for the most part identical with the British fossil plants; seams of good
bituminous coal, some a few inches thick, others several feet thick; beds and nodules
of clay, ironstone, and the whole series resting on a coarse grit and conglomerate, con-
taining quartz pebbles very like our millstone grit, and often called by the American
as well as English miners, "farewell rock," because when they had reached it in their
borings they take leave of all valuable fuel. Beneath this grit are those red and gray
sandstones corresponding in mineral character, fossils and positions, with our old red.
I was desirous of ascertaining whether a generalization recently made by Mr. Logan
in South Wales could hold in this country. Each of the Welsh seams of coal — more than
ninety in number — have been found to rest on a sandy clay or firestone, in which a
peculiar species of plant called Stigmaria abounds to the exclusion of all others. I saw
the Stigmaria at Blossburg in abundance, in heaps of rubbish extracted from a horizon-
tal seam. Dr. Saynisch, the president of the mine, kindly lighted up the gallery that I
might inspect the works, and we saw the black shales in the roof adorned with beau-
tiful fern leaves, while the floor consisted of an under clay in which the stems of
Stigmaria, with their leaves and rootlets attached, were running in all directions. The
agreement of these phenomena with those of the Welsh coal measxires, 3,000 miles dis-
tant, surprised me, and led me to conclusions respecting the origin of coal from plants
not drifted, but growing on the spot, to which I shall refer hereafter.

COAL SEAMS DESCRIBED.

James Macfarlane, A. M., of Towanda, Pennsylvania, says in his "Coal
Regions of America," published in 1865:

The general geological section in the Blossburg region consists of 333 feet of strata,
including five workable seams of coal, four of which have been worked at various times
in the district. The lowest, or Coal A, known among the miners as the Bear Creek vein,
is from three to three and a half feet thick, and was worked as well as the Bloss seam,
at the old Blossburg mines by William M. Mallory previous to 1858. It produced a
good steam coal, but it frequently thinned out. The most important seam, which is
worked at all the mines, is B, which is called the Bloss vein, which is from thirteen to
twenty-nine feet above A. From this seam most of the coal of the region is produced.
It is sometimes interlaid with a thin seam of slate, and when this occurs an allowance
is made to the miner of a certain sum for each inch of slate, added to his usual price
per ton for mining. This system is a very just one, on account of the additional labor.
At other localities in the same mines this slate disappears, and the seam presents a
clean bed of pure coal from four and a half to five and a half feet in thickness.

The next seam which is worked to a limited extent, is twenty to thirty feet higher,
and sometimes less, and will be called Coal B, but on account of the heavy bed of fine
clay, on which it rests, it is commonly called the Fire Clay vein. It is a variable seam,
from one and a half to three and a half, and sometimes five feet thick, when impurities
occur in the middle. It appears to be a rider or satellite of seam B. It produces good



COAL MINES AXD MIXING. 127

coal, and when it appears in its best form it is a valuable seam. It is being mined only
in a portion of the field.

Coal C occurs from seventeen to eighteen feet higher, and produces a species of
cannel coal. In western Pennsylvania this seam is the great deposit of cannel coal,
wherever that variety is found, but cannel coal is always liable to become degraded into
bituminous shale, and that is its character at Blossburg. This seam is always stig-
matized in this regfion as the Dirty vein or the Slate vein. It is regarded as worthless
and has never been mined.

Next in the ascending order, at an elevation of from seven to twenty feet above
the last, is a small seam, only useful as a geological landmark — Coal C, or the Monkey
vein, as the miners call it, on account of its small size, it being only from one and a half
to three and a half feet thick. It has never been opened for mining purposes.

Coal D is called at Blossburg the Seymour vein, in honor of ex-Governor Seymour,
who was the land owner where it was first wrought. It is from three to four and a
half feet in thickness, always free from slate, and produces a bright, beautiful-looking
coal of a columnar structure, and an excellent blacksmith coal. It is worked in a portion
of the region. Its elevation above the last-named seam, is from thirty to sixty-seven
feet, but like all the other intervals of rock, this is sometimes much less. Its elevation
above the Bloss vein is from 114 to 102 feet.

About fifty feet above the lusl is Coal E, commonly called the Rock vein, on account
of the heavy, coarse rocks over it, which is sometimes conglomoritic. This seam is
from two and a half to three feet thick, and in a few localitie.s is of a better size, but it
has never been worked. Fifty-six feet of rock have lu'en meiisured over this seiim, but
«7ithout coal, and it is not improbable that the foregoing series embrace tlie whole of
the lower coal measures of Pennsylvania.

CIIAEACTER AND USES OF BLOSSBURG COAL.

Blossburg coal early acquired a wide-spread fanu' as a smithing coal, and
blacksmiths were quick to recufiiiize its value, especially in the finer eiasses of
work. As the facilities for transportation increased, its use exteiuied. It found its
way to the mining camps of (California, Colonulo, Utah and Nevada, bein? trans-
ported from the termini of the railroads in saeks on the backs of pack muks. A
single gunny-sack full has been known to cost as high as $25. It also found ita
way into the lumber camps of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, where it was
highly prized for use in delicate work. A\'herever it was tested a report was re-
turned praising its excellence and adding to its fame. The result was that, year
by year, increasing demand made an increased output of the mines necessary, and
stimulated the organization of new mining companies, until the annual output rose
above 750,000 tons, and in 1873 — the year of ma.ximum production — reached a to-
tal of 991,057 tons. An examination of the published statistics shows that the
total production of coal for shipment since 1840, when the Corning and Blossburg
railroad was completed, is not far from 25,000,000 tons, being about one-third, ac-
cording to the lowest estimate, of all the workable coal in the lUosslnirtr coal basin.

The recent opening of mines in the extensive coal beds of (!learfield county —
where the coal is more easily and cheaply mined— has had the effect to greatly re-
duce the annual output of the mines of Tioga county. The consequence is that
there has been a marked falling off in the number of men employed by the different
companies.



J^28 HISTOEY OF TIOGA COUNTY.



THE MANUFACTURE OF COKE.

Practical tests, carried on under the direction of John J. Davis, at Amot,
having demonstrated that coke of an excellent quality could be produced from
Blossburg coal, the Blossburg Coal Company, in 1880, erected 200 bee-hive coke
ovens at Amot, and for a time carried on the manufacture of coke on a large scale.
A similar plant was erected in 1882 at Tioga by the Pall Brook Coal Company. For
-several years these plants were operated successfully, a ready sale being found for
the output. The necessity, however, of washing the coal, added so much to the cost
•of manufacture, that it was found impossible to compete, on anything like equal
terms, with Connellsville and other coke producing centers. The works at Tioga
were accordingly abandoned, and afterwards dismantled, and production for ship-
.ment at Arnot reduced until at present but a few ovens are operated, and those only
.semi-occasionally. The output for 1895 was 976 tons.

LABOE STEIKES AND TEOUBLES.

Prom 1840 until 1865 there had been occasional disagreements .between the
jniners and the companies operating the mines at Blossburg, Morris Eun and Pall
Brook. Most of these occurred after 1863, when the Miners' and Laborers' Benevo-
lent Union was formed. Subsequently the laborers and mechanics withdrew and
formed a separate union. Each union had a committee to hear the complaints of
individual members, and to present such complaints to a full meeting for action. To
this committee applications were to be made by those seeking employment, none
but members of the union being permitted to work for the mining companies. A
limitation was also placed on the number of members to be admitted to the Miners'
Union. The Laborers' Union was not so strict in this regard, and many miners,
unable to obtain admission to the Miners' Union joined it, and worked in the woods,
ithough the wages were much less than those paid to miners.

At this time the great Civil War was in progress, draining every department of
industry of able-bodied laborers and mechanics. This not only created a demand for
labor, but a demand on the part of the laborer for an increase of wages, made neces-
;sary by a constant increase in the cost of living. These demands were either ac-
ceded to without a strike, or compromised after a strike had been inaugurated. As
"the result of these repeated advances, miners were among the best paid wage earners
in the country, and their union one of the strongest industrial organizations in ex-
istence. The unusual wages paid also stimulated miners from England, Ireland,
'Scotland and Wales to seek employment in the United States, and the miners at
Horris Eun and Pall Brook now received large accessions from those countries to
take the places of those that had gone into the army, as well as to supply the demand
'for more men to work in the mines and the woods.

In the year 1864 there was a great demand for houses, the companies being un-
•able to build them fast enough. While this demand was at its height, Hon. John
llagee, during a visit to Pall Brook, discovered that a number of miners working in
the mines at Morris Eun were living in his houses at Fall Brook. It was also dis-
•covered that miners were working in Pall Brook and living in Morris Eun. As the
two companies were business rivals, this arrangement did not please Mr. Magee, and
•an understanding was had between the companies that each should restrict its miners



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COAL MIXES AND MINING. 129

or laborers to the occupancy of hoiises owned by the company in whose employ they
were. A contract or lease was drawn up and submitted to the householders to the
effect that when they ceased to work for the fall Brook Coal Company, they would
surrender possession of the houses occupied by them. These contracts or leases were
submitted to the unions and were rejected. Notices, dated December 31, 18G4, to
surrender possession were then served on the employes of the Morris Bun Coal Com-
pany, living in the Fall Brook Coal Company s houses, and hke notices ser\ ed on
the employes of the Fall Brook Coal Company living in the houses of the Morris Kun
Coal Company.

The strike that followed was a long and bitter one. The men had been earning
good wages and were prepared for a prolonged coutust, to which they were urged
and encouraged by their leaders. At the end of three months ejectment proceedings
were begun. The opposition to this led to an aitjicul to tlie sheriff, and to the sum-
moning of a posse of 200 or 300 of the citizens of the coimty which nas likewise
resisted. This occurred on May 8, 1865. Thu arrest of a number of miners followed,
some of whom were committed to jail, others fined and still others put under bonds.
Finding himself unable to serve writs and ciifdiie ejectments, the sheriff ap-
pealed to the governor, who ordered the "Bucktail" regiment to report to and assist
him. The work of forcibly dispossessing the miners of their houses anil removing
their household goods was tluii carried forward, the floods and their owners being
loaded on cars and conveyed to Blossburj,'. This action broke tlie spirit of the
strikers, and led to negotiations which resulted in the larger number of them re-
turning to work, though at deerensed waj;es, owing In the termination of the Civil
War, and the decline in the juiee of coal. The failure of the strike had also re-
sulted in a virtual dissolution of the Miners' and the Laborers' unions.

The next struggle oceurred in 18:3. The panic of that year was severely felt
by the mining companies, and they were on the point of closing the mines, when in
Sejjteniber, upon consultation with a number of leading miners, they determined to
run them two or three days a week, in order to keep the men employed a part of the
time, at least. Soon after this new order of working had pone into effect, a move-
ment among the miners looking to the formation of a miners union, similar to the
one which existed from 1863 to ISdo, led to another clash. The companies fearing
a repetition of the scenes of the latter year, opposed the organization of the n.w
union, and posted notices that they would not employ anyone belonging to it. The
miners were determined to organize. As neither the companies or the miners would
yield another strike resulted, the men organizing unions at Fall Brook, Morris Run
and Arnot. At Antrim — many of the miners having suffered by the strike of ISe") —
they did not succeed, and work went on there without interruption.

This strike lasted from December, 1873, until about March, IST-l, and though a
stubborn one, and resulting in mueli bad feeling, wa."! free from the violence and the
distressing scones of 1865. After it was inaugurated a number of questions became
involved. Terms acceptable to the men were finally submitted by the companies
and work resumed.

In 1879. after a number of dull years, residting in a marked dccrea.se in the out-
put of the mines, and the cmploj-ment of the miners only two or three days in the



130 HISTOBY OF TIOGA COCTNTT.

week, business brightened and the demand increased. This was followed in De-
cember of that year by a demand for an increase of wages on the part of the miners.
It was acceded to, although the companies were filling contracts made in May, when
prices were low. A few days later the men made a demand for a further increase of
wages. This was refused, and after several weeks of discussion, another strike re-
sulted lasting until May 1, the time for renewing contracts, when a satisfactory setr
tlement was made and work resumed.

On May 1, 1890, the miners at Arnot struck for an advance of ten cents a ton for
mining, and were Joined on May 8, by the miners at Pall Brook, Antrim and Morris
Eun. This strike lasted until June 23, 1890, when work was resumed upon a
promise of an increase of wages after July 1. Dui-ing this strike the companies lost
several valuable coal contracts, which resulted in less production and less work
after the strike ended.

At a meeting held at Columbus, Ohio, March 11, 1894, the United Mine
"Workers of America resolved to demand a restoration of the scale of 1891, and in
the event of a refusal to accede to the demand on the part of the operators, to order
a general strike of all the bituminous coal miners throughout the country. At this
time the miners of Tioga county had no grievance, but when the strike was ordered
April 1, 1894, they quit work out of sympathy for the miners of western Pennsyl-
vania and Ohio. The strike in Tioga county lasted until the middle of July when
the miners returned to work at the old rate of wages. The strike was a costly one
both for them and the companies. The latter lost valuable contracts, while the men
lost twelve weeks' wages, and have since worked only a portion of the time, owing
to a lack of orders for coal.

EECEKT STATISTICS.

The report for 1895 of James N. Patterson, of Blossburg, inspector for the
Eighth Bituminous District of Pennsylvania, to the secretary of internal affairs,
presents the following facts and figures relating to the coal mines of Tioga county:

ArnoL— Number of men employed in mines, 631; number of men employed
outside, 120; total, 651. Number of days worked, 208; number of tons of coal
mined, 262,416. '

A7itrim.—NuxabeT of men employed in mines, 306; number of men employed
outside, 74; total, 380. Number of days worked, 136; number of tons of coal mined,
123,408.

Bear Run.—This is the mine at Landrus. Number of men employed in mines,
243; number of men employed oiitside, 29; total, 272. Number of davs worked,
203; number of tons of coal mined, 126,694.

Fall Brook.— munber of men employed in mines, 136; number of men em-
ployed outside, 23; -total, 159. Number of days worked, 248; number of tons of
coal mined, 72,465.

Gurnee.—Theve were sixteen men employed in the mines and outside They
worked 162 days and mined 6,511 tons of coal.

Morris Run.~mmbeT of men employed in mines, 539; number of men em-
ployed outside, 68; total, 607. Number of days worked, 127; number of tons of coal
mined, 198,920.



COAL MINES AND MLNINQ. 131



The above figures show that 1,TG9 men were employed in the mines, and 316
outside, making a total of 2,085, who worked an average of 180 days during the year,
and produced 789,414 tons of coal, being an average of 451 tons for each man ac-
tually employed in the mines. The 316 men employed outside embrace blacksmiths
and carpenters, engineers and firemen, slate pickers, superintendents, bookkeepers,
clerks, mill men and woodsmen. Each of the companies, except the Gaines (_'oal
and Coke Company, operates one or more saw-mills and keeps a force of men at work
in the woods, getting out logs and tan bark.

PAST AND PBESEXT.

From 1840 — the year in which the ('orning and Blossburg railroad was com-
pleted — may be said to date a new era in the bituminous coal trade and production
of the Uuited States. Previous to that year, in which thu production reached 78,571
tons, the bituminous coal supply of the country was confined to tlii.' Richmond (N'a.)
basin. The opening of the mines at Blossburg, however, and the subsequent organi-
zation of the Morris Run, Fall Brook and Blossburg Coal Companies, ^oou placed
Tioga county at the head of the bituminous coal producing si^ctions of the country,
and gave to Blossburg coal a widi'-sprcad reputation as a smithing and steam coal.
The area of bituminous coal production, however, sonn began to extt ml rapidly, and
the output to assume enormous figures. The demand kept even pace with the
supply, and operators were able to maintain prices and to pay the scale cjf wages de-
manded by the miners until the close of the great Civil War restored to the trades
and industries of the country the men who had been at the front. Prices of every-
thing, including labor, soon began to fall, and strikes and struggles between em-
ployers and employes were frei|uent. The great army of labor was also rapidly in-
creased by immigration from foreign lands, and it was not long before, instead of
being a scarcity of laborers, there was a scarcity of work, not because work was scarce,
but because the number of laborers had increased more rapidly than the various in-
dustries had developed. Employers were therefore able to not only make terms, but
to pick and choose, which they did to an extent that has practically changed the
character of the mining population of Tioga county. The English, Seotch, Welsh
and Irish miners, have for the most part given way to Poles, Swedes and Hungarians.
These latter have proven industrious, frugal and tractable, and are becoming
naturalized as citizens, as rapidly as permissable under the law.

Notwithstanding the business depression of the past few years, the coal pro-
duction of the country at large continues to show a marked increase. In 1895 the
production of anthracite in Pennsylvania was 45,000,000 tons, an increase of 5,000,-
000 tons over the previous year, and yet the miners did not work full time. For
the same year the bituminous production of the country and the limited anthracite
production of Colorado, reached a total of 148,990,933 tons, making for the Fnited
States a total anthracite and bituminous production of 193,990,933 tons, only 16,-
879,895 tons less than Great Britain, the leading coal-producing country- of the
world.

These figiire.'s give some idea of the enormous growth of this vast industry since
the time when, in 1840. the shipment of coal by rail from Blo^bure began. They
tell of thousands of millions of dollars invested in coal lands, in railroad and navi-



132 HISTOET OF TIOOA COUNTY.

»

gation companies, in rolling-mills, furnaces and factories, and in a multitude of in-
dustries in every part of the country. And they also tell of hundreds of thousands
of men who toil amid the dimness and darkness and dangers of the mines, in order
to provide food and raiment for themselves and those dependent upon them.

Here in Tioga county the industry has been going backward. The last few years
have been marked by decreased production and uncertain employment. The area of
coal production is limited, and the cost of mining greater than in many other places,
which does not give a hopeful outlook for the future. Nevertheless, the companies
and their employes are looking eagerly and anxiously forward to a revival of business
in the belief that even if wages are not advanced full-time work will be guaranteed.



CHAPTEE XI.

PUBLIC BUILDIFGS AND OFFICIALS.

FiHST Meeting Place of the Commissioners— Tempoeary Quarters Secured
—First Public Buildings Erected— An Odd Contract— High Price of Nails
—Description of Buildings— The New Court House and Jail— The Present
Jail— The Only Criminal Execution— New Record Building— County House
AND Farm— Roster of Public Officials.



THE first meeting, in their oificial capacity, of Nathan Niles, Caleb Boyer and
Ira KilbuTn,the first commissioners of Tioga county, was held October 30,1808,"at
the Meeting House, in Wellsboro, in said county." At this meeting it was agreed
by the commissioners "that their further meetings, for the purpose of transacting
the public business be held at this place." The meeting of June 23, 1809, was held
at the house of David Lindsey, which appears to have been the place of meeting for
several years. That the commissioners were desirous of purchasing it for that pur-
pose, as well as for the safe-keeping of records, the following, under date of August
20, 1811, will show:

Eesolved, That, as a house is necessary for securing the papers and books of the
county of Tioga, after taking the matter into consideration, we look upon the house of
David Lindsey to be suitable for that purpose, and have agreed to advance the said David



Online LibraryEmanuel SwedenborgHistory of Tioga County, Pennsylvania → online text (page 16 of 163)