Exeter Borough

Is in many respects the most remarkable, and even historical, of any spot in the county. "Remember the Hardings," was the battle cry with which the leaders of the patriotic forces entered upon the fatal battle of Wyoming, July 3, 1778. It is remarkable in extent of territory, being nearly four and a half miles long north and south and two miles wide; remarkable in the further fact that is surrounds on three sides another borough – West Pittston; remarkable again that in its council and school board always elects three democrats and three Republicans. And, while this is not a record, yet it is said that it was made one long borough to accommodate a couple of prominent and rather contentious citizens – one at each end – so that they, while in the same borough, could be a kind of czar at the respective ends. It is said that all this has worked most admirably, and by turns the two "emperors" have had pretty much everything their own way. The experiment has worked smoothly and Exeter is the borough of peace and prosperity – full of great men, the descendants of great men and of Revolutionary relics, and every foot of it has some special history of interest.

Exeter borough was incorporated February 8, 1884. The law requires that a plat be made of a borough and put on record. Attracted by the general outlines, with no resident exactly able to give correctly the boundary at every point, and some who could not tell whether they lived in the borough or not, the scribe made a faithful search of the records, but failed to find any trace of them, however.

In general terms Exeter borough is situated on the northwestern bank of the Susquehanna River, its northern line (including Scoville’s island) extending along down the river to the north borough line of West Pittston, then following the borough line west, south and east to the river, and then along the river to the Kingston township line, following that west 300 rods and then turns north and turns east to the place of beginning. It is all within Exeter township. It has within it the former hamlet of Strumerville, the camping ground, or Indian park, where the Indians camped the night before they engaged in battle, July 3, 1778; a part of the battle-ground where the fight commenced on the bloody day, that is, where the Indians and the British were drawn up in line and where the patriots went out, met them and first drew their fire, and where the heavy mortality occurred. All this is within the boundary lines of Exeter borough. The patriot forces fell back across the township line into Kingston township and in the direction to where now stands the memorial monument. Their slow and stubborn retreat marked the ground with blood, and there lay the dead and dying. The sad story of that day has been written and re-written now for more than a century; horrible enough in its literal details, but here imagination has woven still more a nightmare of horrors that have found their way to the school books.

From that bloody day to this, excepting the long cruel contention with the Pennsylvania proprietaries, the men of peace and pastoral pursuits have been engaged in binding up the bruises of war and creating the present domain of peace and bounteous plenty.

There is a population of 850 souls in the borough, but it is just now on the threshold of additions and improvements that will send it forward in the next decade at a tremendous pace. The Delaware, Lackawanna &Western railroad and the Harvey’s Lake branch of the Lehigh Valley railroad pass through the place, both having depots. The electric street line from Wilkes-Barre to Pittston is now just opened to the public. There are three colleries, the Schooley, the Mount Lookout and the John Hutchins; the Forest castle brewery, built in 1874, employing fifty men. Vast coal deposits are under nearly the entire borough; a large portion of this is the property of the railroads. A few years ago there was a pistol factory. This was operated some time, then converted into a silk mill in 1889, and after two years, 1891, was closed. It has 5 stores, 2 hotels, 1 brickyard, 3 gardening farms that are conducted on a large scale, 2 school buildings, 150 enrolled pupils.

James S. Slocum was elected first burgess and served by re-elections eight years; succeeded in 1892 by the present burgess, J.J. McCalley. First council: Mathew Dougher, Abraham Hoover, Col. A.D. Mason, Isaac Carpenter, J.J. McCalley.

In 1885 A.O. Farnham was elected secretary and has continued in office to the present. In 1890 he was elected treasurer, and in 1891 assessor, and continues to hold three offices.

Present council: J.B. Carpenter, Mathew Dougher, William Pocknell, James McCabe, Thomas Mackin and Robert Ferguson.

First school board: William Slocum, president; A.O. Farnham, J.T. Kern, Arthur Roberts, Bernard O’Brien, Philip James. Even here were the strict rules of three Democrats and three Republicans.

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This Town History was donated by Cathy Ailstock .

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