Hanover Township

The early history of this, one of the original Connecticut townships, is so interwoven with the history of the settlement and troubles of the Wyoming valley that it is there given mostly as found in Miner’s, Pearce’s and Chapman’s other accounts of those "times that tried men’s souls." The recent History of Hanover Township, by Henry Blackman Plumb, of Sugar Notch, published in 1883 is one of the important additions to the county’s literature concerning the early settlers on the Susquehanna river. In his preface he says: "I was born in the house of one of the old veterans of the Wyoming massacre and the Revolutionary War. This was the house of Elisha Blackman, who was eighteen years of age when the bloody July 3, 1778 burst into history. Blackman was a resident of Wilkes-Barre from 1772-1791, and then in Hanover township till the day of his death,184 5. Mr. Plumb had carefully digested every accessible record and all that had been published, and from the lips of his venerable kinsman had heard his recollections of the dark and dismal story that enveloped the people as a pall during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Mr. Plumb has performed his task with admirable fidelity and judgment and has unconsciously reared for himself an imperishable monument in the hearts of the descendants of the pioneers, as well as the lovers of our country and its history. A single paragraph from his preface given that all men may know the incalculable loss that circumstance have entailed upon us all; "But I must acknowledge my great indebtedness to Hon. Steuben Jenkins for information and documents furnished. *** He furnished the key to unlock hidden mines of the most valuable information to a historian of Hanover. It seems to me now that without the list of ancient transfers of land (transfers previous to the Wyoming massacre) I should have remained ignorant of some of the most important facts contained in the book. *** It is understood that Mr. Jenkins is gathering materials for a copious and searching history of Wyoming to its minute particulars; and from what I have seen of his acquisitions in this respect, I have reason to think the work will be most thorough and valuable." The death of Mr. Jenkins has ended that dream and even the store of invaluable materials in Mr. Jenkins’ possession when he died are not now, and may unfortunately never be accessible to the compiler of the annals of Wyoming. Mr. Plumb was the first to find access to the old Hanover Town Record, and he tells us it is the only book of the kind concerning Wyoming valley in existence."

The first name that will forever remain as a prime part of the story of the settlement of Hanover township is that of Capt. Lazarus Stewart, who fell at the head of his company of Hanover men at the battle of Wyoming, July 3, 1778. An account of him and the part he performed on that memorable day are given in previous chapters. Capt. Stewart and his forty men--the "Paxton boys"--came from Lancaster first in February 1770. They were moving in behalf of Connecticut against the Penns, capturing Fort Durkee, and the four-pound canon that had been brought here. The roster of this company is as follows: Lazarus Stewart, Thomas French, Robert Young, James Stewart, Adam Storer Jacob Stagard, George Ely, Lodwick Shalman, George Aspen, John Lard, John McDonnell, George Meane, Lazarus Stewart, Jr., William Young, Peter Kidd, John Robinson, John Simpson, Adam Harper, Peter Seaman, John Poop, Mathias Hollenback, (spelled then Hollenbaugh), Joseph Neal, Balizer Stegard, John Stellis, John McDormer, William Stewart, Lazarus Young, William Carpenter, Luke Shawley Nicholas Farrings, Conrad Phillip, Casper Reiker, John Sault, Peter Szebewer, Robert Kidd, Ronemus Haine, and Adam Sherer. Within the next two years the following were all that remained in Stewart’s company: Lazarus Stewart, Lazarus Stewart, Jr., James Stewart, William Stewart, Robert Young, John Robinson, and Thomas Robinson--eight of the Lancaster men. their places were partly filled by Charles Stewart, David Young, John Young, James Robinson, William Graham, John Donshaw, Jonas Aspia, Hugh Coffrin and John Franklin and Silas Gore; the last two from Connecticut.

One of Stewart’s men was the first man killed in the Yankee and Pennite war for these lands; his name is given as William Stager but it was probably Jacob or Baltzer Stagard. It seems that this campaign and the much fighting during the months of March, April and May, caused many changes in Stewart’s men. Some were killed, drowned or captured, others sickened and others discouraged, sold their claims and left. What remained, however, were active in planting crops, and the summer moved along happily. In September, however, the Penn followers attacked the settlement and captured the fort. December 18, following, Capt. Stewart with thirty men re-captured the fort and expelled the Pennites from the valley. Connecticut had granted Hanover Township, then including all of what is now Hanover, Wright, Bear Creek, Bucks, Denison and Foster townships, or everything from Wilkes-Barre township to the Lehigh river. At the time of the distribution or allotment of the lands, Hanover had but eighteen "proprietors," but each one of these had on hired man, and at that time the township was the same as the other townships, five miles square.

At a town meeting in Wilkes-Barre, October 19, 1772, presided over by Capt Zebulon Butler, it was voted, "That Capt. Lazarus Stewart and William Stewat are deserving the town of Hanover, agreeably to the votes passed at the general meeting of the proprietors of the Susquehanna company, held at Windham, January 9, 1771. The lands in Hanover were marked out and divided among the settlers in three divisions The first di vision made in 1771 or 1772; the second in 1776 and the third in 1787.

The following Hanover men were in the battle of July 3, 1778: Captains: William McKarrican, Lazarus Stewart; lieutenant, Lazarus Stewart, Jr.; ensigns: Jeremiah Bigford, Titus Hinman, Silas Gore. Privates: Samuel Bigford, Joseph Crooker, John Caldwell, William Coffrin, Isaac Campbell, James Coffrin, John Franklin, Jonathan Franklin, James Hopkins, Cyprean Hibbard, Nathan Wade, Elijah Inman, Israel Inman, Robert Jameson, William Jones, William Lesterk, Thomas Neil, Jenks Corey, James Spencer, Levi Spencer, Josiah Spencer.

The following escaped with their lives: Rufus Bennett, Col. Roswell Franklin, Arnold Franklin, William Young, Jacob Haldron, Ebenezer Hibbard, William Hibbard, Richard Inman, David Inman, John Jameson, William Jameson, Joseph Morris, Thomas Neil, Josiah Pell, Jr., Giles Slocum, Walter Spencer, Edward Spencer.

Mr. Plumb, from a old fly-leaf inscription of Elisha Blackman, gives the following as the "killed" and "escaped" as the names of his company that were Hanover men:

Killed: Capt. J. Bidlack; Lieut. A. Stevens, Sergt. D. Spafford, E. Fish, P. Weeks, B. Weeks, J. Weeks, P. Wheeler, T. Brown, S. Hutchinson, S. Cole, T. Fuller, E. Sprague, C. Avery, I. Williams, James Wigton. Escaped: Sergt. D. Downing, S. Corey, J. Garrett, Joe Elliott, G. Slocum, E. Blackman, J. Fish, P. Spafford, D. McMullen, Thomas Porter, Solomon Bennett.

As stated, Hanover was parceled in three divisions--first, second and third. Each of these divisions was cut into thirty-one lots, twenty-eight to Capt. Stewart and his men, and three to "public use." In the first division the lots were forty-two rods wide and reached from the Susquehanna river to the township line beyond the top of Big mountain and contained 430 acres each. In the second division were twenty-eight lots, divided among the same men and such associates as had come in. In the first division were the following, with the number of the lots to each: Capt. Lazarus Stewart, 1,2, and 3; Lazarus Stewart, Jr., 4 and 5; John Donahow. 6; David Young,7; Capt. Lazaus Stewart,8; William Graham, 9; John Robinson, 10; James robinson,11; Thomas Robinson,12; Josias Aspia, 13; Hugh Cafion, 14; John Franklin,15; Robert Young, 16; John Young, 17; William Young,18; William Stewart, 21; Thomas Robinson 20; James Stewart 21; William Young, 22; Capt Stewart, 23, 24; William Stewart, 25; Charles Stewart, 26,; William Stewart, 27; Silas Gore, 28; parsonage lot, 29; public lot, 30; public or local lot, 31;

Silas Gore had sold in 1772 his settling right in Wilkes-Barre and took one in Hanover. John Franklin had owned a settling right (unknown where), sold and took one in Hanover. Joseph Morse had owned a settling right in Plymouth an sold and took one in Hanover.

Capt. Lazarus Stewart built his residence and blockhouse on lot 3, afterward known as Alexander Jameson’s, on the rise about midway between the river road and the river bank. Here was his family when he was slain in battle. All these houses were burned after the battle. Mr. Plumb thinks the township built its block-house in 1776, about three miles farther down the river, or two miles above Nanticoke, but the exact spot is not known. At the township block-house, wherever it was, was where Roswell Franklin made so many gallant defences against attacks. There were several block-houses in Hanover in 1778, as all people then who lived here had to live mostly in stockades, and often defend them to the death. One of these defence-houses stood many years a short distance east of the late Samuel Pell’s place. Even the ordinary cabins during the seventies were loopholed for defencive living.

Christopher Hurlbut in his journal speaks of the "murder of John Jameson at Hanover Green in 1782, near where the church was afterward built."

The township records from 1770-1 to 1776 are lost, and no trace of them can now be found.

James Lasley was required to notify all the proprietors to meet at the residence of Titus Hinman, March 25, 1776. At the meeting John Jameson was moderator and James Lasley,

clerk. Capt. Lazarus Stewart, William Stewart, John Franklin, Titus Hinman and Robert Young were appointed a committee of said district. Six acres were voted on which to build a meeting-house. April 25 following another meeting, Caleb Spencer, moderator, same clerk. It was voted that the two roads to the Newport line be six rods wide. A meeting May 1 following, Titus Hinman, moderator, same clerk, provided for the second land allotment; the second division as follows: Robert Young 29; Charles Stewart, 19; William Young, 22; Thomas Robinson, 26; Capt Lazarus Stewart, 9; Lazarus Stewart, Jr., 18; Hugh Coffrin, 24; James Robinson, 21; Capt. Lazarus Stewart, 14, 31; William Stewart, 7; William Young, 25; John Donahue, 15; William Stewart, 10; Capt. Stewart, 28; William Stewart, 20; Thomas Robinson, 30; Elijah Inman, 12; Lazarus Stewart, Jr., 8; Capt Stewart 4; William Graham, public lot, 16; John Young, 3; John Robinson, 11; James Stewart,2; Silas Gore, 13; David Young, 17; parsonage lot, 6; public lot, 5; Josias Aupiey, 23; and John Franklin, 27.

There were other settlers at this time in the township; the Hopkins, Campbells, Baldwells, Spencers, Bennetts, Hibbards, Jamesons, Humans, Wades, Laseley, McKarrican, Espy, Line and Pell.

By the time of this drawing, James Coffrin, (Cofron, Cockron or Cochrane), had erected a gristmill. In the drawing William Graham (Grimes or Greames), drew the lot and Coffrin purchased the mill site of him. Cofrin deeded lot 1, second division to John Comer.

The first roads were the "River road" and the "Middle road."

Lazarus Stewart made the first transfer of land in the township; November 25, 1772, to David Young. The next month Young sold the same to Thomas Robinson. May 8, 1774, James and John Robinson sold lot 7, first divison, to Richard Robinson; June 11, 1774, Ebenezer Hibbard sold to Cyprian Hibbard; October 13, Ebenezer Hibbard to Edward Spencer; October 25, Robert Young to Samuel Howard; July 1, 1775, Silas Gore to Samuel Ensign; July 13, 1776, John Jameson to William and Cyprian Hibbard; August 30, 1776, Lazarus Stewart, Jr., to William McKrrachan, lot 8, second divison; Robert Young to Samuel Gordon (no date); John Franklin to Samuel Gordon; June 16, 1776, James Coffrin to John Comer; September 11, Lazarus Stewart, Jr., to Nathaniel Howard (land not divided); September 11, Matthew Hollenback to Samuel Ensign; January 15, 1777, William McKarrachan to Gideon Booth, Jr.; February 5, Silas Gore to William McKarrachan; March 15, John Franklin to Nathan Howell; March 19, Gideon Baldwin to Caleb Spencer; Caleb spencer to Peleg Burritt; May 2, Willim Hibbard to Cyprian Hibbard; May 13, Margaret Neill to Richard Robinson; May 20 , James Lasley to Jenks Corey; May 25, Dr. Samuel Cooke to John Stoples; June 24, Mathew Hollenback to John Hollenback; June 24, Mathew Hollenback to James Lasley; July 6, James Coffrin (Cochran) to John Comer; September 9, William McKarrachan to John Ewings; September 12, Peleg Burritt to Gideon Burrit; November 12, John Hollenback to (Deacon) John Hurlbut; January 15, 1778, William Stewart to Cyprian Hibbard.

James Coffrin’s (or Cochran’s) mill in Hanover was attached February 28, 1777, at the suit of Nathaniel Davenport, who sued and got judgment for 80 pounds at the September term, 1776, for "enticeing" and evilly contriving and persuading one Job Scot, who ye Deft, had then agreed and bargained with to build and erect a certain Grist-Mill in said Westmoreland, at a place called Hanover District, etc."

A deed in the old Westmoreland Records is found, from Robert Young to Samuel Gordon, dated ____ ____1776, for " a tract of land situate on N. branch of nanticoke creek (No. 16), adjoining and below where John Franklin’s line between John Franklin (No. 15), and said Young’s lot crosses the creek at the lowest place, and as the said line runs from one branch to the other thence on the high bank runs on both sides of the creek down to the bank, next above the fence of John Ewing."

Nanticoke and Solomon’s creeks were regarded as good mill power. Solomon’s creek about half way up the mountain, was Gen. William Ross’ mill; just below the beautiful cascade,

and to this day it is a famed resort for lovers of nature. Anthracite coal is found in the township everywhere from the river to the mountain.

At a town meeting of Hanover town, January 31, 1789, it was provided to allow Elisha Delano to build a sawmill on lot 29, first division, the mill to be built within the next year. The other portion of lot 29 was leased to Fredrick Crisman. That was the old "Red Tavern" lot, the name of the noted old hostelry. The mill first was a gristmill and known as the "Behee mill." The Red tavern was built by Crisman on the "six-rod road" about 1789 and partly rebuilt in 1805; here the town meetings were held.

An early industry was that of Ishmael Bennett, making grindstones at the foot of Little mountain, a short distance from the present Hanover Coal Company’s breaker. At Warrior gap whetstones were made.

List of taxables in Hanover in 1796:

John Alden, Abraham Adams, David Adams, Edward Adgerton, Nathan Abbott., Jonas Buss, Elisha Blackman, Jr., Stephen Burrett, Gideon Burrett, Joel Burrett,Thomas Brink, Rufus Bennett, Ishmael Bennett, Frederick Crisman, Nathan Carey, William Caldwell, Elisha Delano, Richard Diely, Richard Diely, Jr., George Espy, Samuel Ensign, Jacob Flanders, Jacob Fisher, Cornelius Garretson, Andrew Gray, John Hames, Benjamin Hopkins, John Hendershot, Henry Huber, Jacob Holdmer, William Hyde, Ebenezer Hibbard, Calvin Hibbard, John Hurlbert, Naphtali Hurlbert, Christopher Hurlbert, Willi Hyde, John Jacobs, John Jacobs, Jr., Edward Inman, Richard Inman, John Inman, Elijah Inman, Jr., Jonathan Kellogg, Conrad Lyons or Lines, Conrad Lyons or Lines, Jr., James Lesley, John Lutzey, John Lockerly, Adrian Lyons or Lines, Michael Marr, Thomas Martin, Samuel Moore, J.S. Miller, Darius Preston, Josiah Pell, Benjamin Pott, Josiah Pell, Jr., John Phillips, Jeremiah Roberts, John Ryan, John Robinson, David Robinson, James A. Rathbone, George Roach, George Stewart, Edward Spencer, David Stewart, James Stewart, Daniel Simons, Peter Steel, David Steel, Abraham Sarver, Christian Saune, Archibald Smiley, John Spencer, John Treadway, Nathaniel Warden, Abner Wade, Arthur Van Wie, Ira Winter, Ashbel Wallis and William Young. Total 91.

This would indicate a population of about 473, and it should be remembered included all the territory to the Lehigh river. About one-half of that district was cut off in 1839 and again reduced in 1853.

The mills in Hanover and on Mill creek were built about the same time , about 1775. A sawmill and forge were about the same time built near Coffrin’s mill, but Mr. Plumb thinks the last named was just across the line in Newport township. This was the noted Bloomery forge, and it made all the iron from bog ore obtained near by until iron could be shipped in by the canal, cheaper than they could make it at the Bloomery forge, and then that industry ceased----1830.

Elisha Delano’s sawmill--Behee mills--were built in 1789. In 1826 Jacob Plumb and his son, Charles Plumb, put up their carding machine in this mill--the first carding machine in this region to supercede the universal hand-carding. In 1793 there was a saw and gristmill on Nanticoke creek near where is the Dundee shaft. Plumb thinks this was probably Petatiah Fitch’s mill, as it was assessed to him in 1799. the land on which the mill stood was afterward the property of Jonathan Robins.

In 1840 Holland built his railroad from his mines at the mountain to the Hanover canal basin. Near Fitch’s mill, a few rods down the creek, was a clover-mill, "an old mill," Mr. Plumb says, "in 1840." Another ancient and passed-away millsite and mill was where is now the Petty mill, on Solomon’s creek below Ashley borough. One of its litle queer millstones can still be seen. Nathan Wade built his sawmill about the same time of those mentioned above at "Scrabbletown" (now Ashley).

About the beginning of this century roads were cut through Hanover township leading to Wilkes-Barre, Easton, Stroudsburg and Sunbury and in other directions. They were simply "cutout" roads, but it now became possible to get about from place to place after a fashion; fords were improved and a few bridges began to span the small deep streams. They were the promise of the coming turnpikes and bridges, as the latter were blazing the way for the canal, and it in turn to become a roadbed for the railroad. The Easton and Wilkes-Barre turnpike was completed in 1807. Then Wilkes-Barre did all its transportation by wagons on the turnpike or Durham boats on the river. The first railroad in Hanover was in operation in 1848--the Lehigh & Susquehanna--from Wilkes-Barre to White Haven. It crossed the mountain, commencing its incline plane at Ashley. The first locomotive over the road was in 1848, as told in the account of White Haven.

The total resident taxpayers in Hanover on the roll of 1799 was 102. There were 2 gristmills, 2 sawmills, 2 distilleries, 10 single men, 3 blacksmiths, 2 physicians, 1 cooper, 2 carpenters and 2 stores. The list of names was very little changed from that of 1796, previously given. According to the census of 1800 there was a total population of 613--1negro slave.

A mail route, weekly, was established, and passed through Hanover township in 1797. This went around from Wilkes-Barre through Hanover, Nanticoke, Newport, Nescopeck to Berwick and returned to Wilkes-Barre via Huntington and Plymouth. There was no postoffice on all this route, and the postman simply delivered mail to all those he could find or left it with their friends if prepaid.

In 1809 the taxables in Hanover had increased to 125; 90 dwellings, 148 horses, 4 gristmills. In 1820, population, 879; 120 dwellings, 4 gristmills, 1 clover mill and 10 unmarried young men; 13 non-naturalized foreigners; 185 engaged in farmng; 30 manufacturing and 1 merchant. The Bloomery forge is mentioned and valued at $600, employing 2 hands and using 150 tons of bog ore.

Mr. Plumb gives the names of the inhabitants of Hanover in 1830 as they appear on the assessor’s roll: Wiliam Askam, William Askam, Jr., Jacob Andrew, Silas Thomas Bennett, Thomas R. Bennett, Josiah Bennett, Andrew V. Buskirk, Elisha Blackman, Henry Blackman, George Behee, John Bobb, William Brown, Thomas Brown, Joseph Barnes, William Barney, Jacob Bideler, Benjamin Carey, Benjamin Carey, Jr., Elias Carey, Comfort Carey, Benjamin Carey (third), Basherrow Crisman, John Carver, Daniel Colghlaser, Peter Caldren, Jacob Deterick, Fredrick Deterick, George Deterick, Robert Downer, Dayton Dilley, Jesse Dilley, James Dilley, Richard Dilley, Bateman Downing, James Decker, Joseph Davis, Jr., Isaac Dershammer, John Dershammer, John Espy, John Frain, John Freedrick, Abraham Frace, John Foust, Peter Fine, Jacob Fisher, Henry Fisher, George Gladhill, jacob Garrison, John Garrison, Lumen Gilbert, Charles Garringer, Daniel Garringer, John Garringer, Henry George, Jonas Hartsell,Samuel Huntington, John Hendershot, Henry Hoover, John Hoover, Michael Hooer, AMos Herrick, Miller Horton, Hohn Honnis, Joseph Hartzell, Hathan Inman, John E Inman, Richard Inman, Jr., Hon Inan, Isaac inman, Caleb Inman, Israel Inamman, Edward Inman, Asa Jones, Alexander James, Robert Jameson, Samuel Jameson, George Kriedler, daniel Kriedler, George Kocher, George Kocher, Jr., Elizabeth Knock (widow), Joseph Kirkendall, Christin Keizer, Valentine Keizer, Jacob Kintner, Henry Line, John Line, Conrad Line (fourth), James S. Lee, Washington Lee, Fredrick Lueder, John Lueder, Christian F. Lueder, George Lazarus, John Lazarus, Simon Learn, George Learn, Sr., John Lutz, Daniel Lutz, Jacob Miller, Ira Marcy, Henry Minnieh, Pete Minnieh, Valentine Moyer, John Moyer, George Moyer, Peter Mensch, Christian Mensch, John Mensch, Solomon Mill, Peter Mill, John Mill, Thomas H. Morgan, Eleazer Marble, John Merwine, John Nagle, Christian Nable, Peter Nable, Jacob B. Overbeck, Samuel Pell, Jacob Plumb Charles Plumb, Simon H. Plumb, Darius Preston, Hibbard Preston, Williston Preston, Samuel Pease, Samuel Pease, Jr., Joseph Rinehimer, Conrad Rinehimer, Conrad Rummage, Jacob Rummage, Jr., George Rimer, Jacob Rimer, Lorenzo Ruggles, Jacob Rudolph, John Robbins, Elijah Richards, Henry Rinehard, Samuel Rogers, Thomas Rogers, Ashbel Ruggles, Joseph Shafer, Jacob Shafer, Joseph Steele, Henry Sively, George Sively, Charles Streator, ____ Sterling (widow), George Sorber, William Shoemaker, John Sorber, John Teal, Rebecca Thomas, William Teeter, James Vandermark, Silas Wiggins, Benjamin Wright, Jonathan P. Willis, Nathan Wade.

And the following unmarried men: Stephen Burrett, Henry Burney, John A. Carey, Richard Edgerton, Isaac Fredrick, Daniel Fredrick, Levi Garringer, Jacob Garris, David Inman, Levi Learn, John Rummage, Charles Sterling, Chester Steele. Total, 186.

Mr. Plumb estimates of these thirty-one have descendants still living in Hanover. These families, the reader will understand, are in this, Wright, Bear Creek, Denison and Foster townships and White Haven. The total number of inhabitants in 1830 was 1,173.

About this time, says Plumb, the fanning-mill was first introduced, an era of labor-saving machines--dividing honors with the canal that came at that time. A daily stage now ran from Wilkes-Barre to Easton, passing through Hanover. Then it was only two days to New York or Philadelphia. Nothing could improve upon this luxury until the packet canal came.

From the recollections of Julia Anne Blackman Plumb, as they appeared in the Historical Record, we summarize the following:

"I was born in 1806. My brother, Harry, went to Nanticoke to live about 1818, when I was about twelve year old. John P. Arndt owned the forge there and a sawmill and other mills, and Harry was a good mechanic , and Arndt got him to move down there and repair and build machinery for the mills and forge. He lived there about two years. On the way there, Askam’s house was the first next to us, on the Middle road. He had lived there some years then.

"John Shaver lived where Harvey Holcomb afterward lived, where the crossroad turns off toward the river road. I think Pruner lived at the mill on that crossroad, that afterward Jonathan Robins owned, near where the Dundee shaft now is. Henry Sively lived in the litle house on the river road, where the Robins or Pruner crossroad comes into the river road. Jesse Crissman once lived in this litle house, and perhaps lived there at the time I am speaking of. Sively owned it afterward, and about 1838 George Koker owned it and lived in it, and died there about 1850, I should think. The Pruner or Robins crossroad I think went straight on at that time, across the river road there, and on down to the river at the mouth of the creek that comes in there. Down the river road toward Nanticoke, the next house was Mr. Arndt;s, where Barnett Miller afterward lived. A man by the name of Ebenezer Brown lived at the Pruner, or Robins mill, at that time. He had sons, Daniel and Harry. Mr. Brown had known father in Connecticut before they came here. Father was studying surveying at a school and Brown was a scholar at the same school. Father was a young man then, in Connecticut, after the Revolutionary war was over, and before he came back here in 1786. Brown lived at the mill only a couple of years; he moved to Kingston, and lived at the west end of the Wilkes Barre river bridge. This would be about 1820. I think there was at that time a log house standing below the Andrus house toward Nanticoke, two stories high, the upper story the largest, projecting out over the lower one all around the house. It was built during the Indian wars to protect the people from the Indians. Mothers’s maiden name was Anna Hurlbut, and she lived about a mile above this house toward Wilkes-Barre. I think old Mr. George Koker the first of the family here in Hanover lived in it; the Pells lived next below, toward Nanticole, where Samuel Pell afterward lived. The Pells, instead of a barn to keep their hay in like us, had large square stacks outside, with great square posts at the corners, and a roof, thatched with straw, over the stack; and as the hay was taken off and the stack got lower, they would let the roof down, to be near the top of the hay. The son, Josiah Pell, was in the Indian battle at Wyoming, where father was, and afterward in the army, and after the war lived with his father many years. the old man got married to a young wife, and gave all his property to her children, and the son, Josiah (the father’s name was Josiah, too) moved , I think, up the Susquehanna river somewhere. Father used to meet him in the jury afterward. James Lee lived in the house beyond the Nanticoke creek, called Lee’s creek then, in a nice, large house. Samuel James lived on the left side of the road, next beyond Lee’s. It looked like a frame house that he lived in, but I think likely as not it was log inside. I don’t remember any house at that time on the river road, where Robert Robin’s house was afterward built where he lived and died. The Mills lived on the right beyond, and down in the fields, toward the river, there was an old log house and two or three barns and a nice new house.

"Mr. Anheuser, a son-in-law of Mr. Mill, had a store in a pretty nice house on the road. The old log house down in the field near the barn took fire, and it and three barns were burned. My brother Harry and Jesse Crissman were there. There was not much of anything in the barns. It was just before haying and harvesting. After the fire Mr. Anheuser moved to Wilkes-Barre and kept a store there. I heard that Mrs. Anheuser is still alive and living in Wikes-Barre. She must be very old. The next building, I think, was the schoolhouse. This was before the schoohouse and church combined was built. When the church and schoohouse combined was built, Charles Plumb, my husband, built the pulpit in the church part . The churchroom was over the schoolroom. There was a house beyond the schoolhouse where Thomas Bennett kept a tavern. He married a daughter of old Mr. George Espy. Alexander’s store and house had not been built in 1818, and it was near this time when Mill’s house and barn was burnt, I should think. The road was a little ways from Bennett’s tavern, turned down toward the river, toward Lee's mill. I can’t remember how things were arranged down there by the creek near the mill. Harry lived in the first house on the left across the creek, I think, and then the road turned off to the left down into Newport, and then across that road there were two or three more houses along the road nearby toward Col. Lee’s and then a large, nice house in which John P. Arndt lived. Arndt had two sons while he lived in Wilkes-Barre before he moved to Nanticoke, Philip and Hamilton. Philip was drowned in the Susquehanna river while trying to catch driftwood and I think the body was never found.

I think the first school I ever went to was up on the Middle road, near Lorenzo Ruggles’, in some one’s private house, across the creek from his house, and below and southwest of it. I wasn’t more than four or five years old then. We didn’t call it but a mile from our house then, but now it is about two miles. Lydia Richards was the teacher. What makes me remember the school is that she would put her switch or stick on the noses of the disobedient, to hold there without touching it with their hands. There was three disobedient at one time, and they were made to hold up their faces so that the whip would lie across the noses of all three and not fall off, and then they yelled. I remember among the scholars Ruth Edgarton, Rachael Hoover and Phoebe Wright. I only remember these three. Ruth Edgarton married Anthony Wilkison. Lydia Richards was a sister of Elijah Richards, of Wright Township, afterward. The next school I attended was on ‘The Green,’ about two miles or more off. The teacher was a Scotchman. The scholars that I remember were myself, Elisha and Betsy Blackman and Maria Askam. Maria Askam aftrward married Thomas Brown, and lived about forty years in what is now called Newtown, in Hanover, adjoining the Wilkes-Barre line on the back road. They removed to Iowa. I don’t remember any others. At Behee’s mill pond, on the road to this school, there was a sawmill close to the dam and they were sawing logs. We could go into the mill right off the dam. The dam was also the road there as it is now---across the creek, and the children would frequently go into the sawmill and sit on the log as it was being sawed. I sat on one once with Maria Askam. I think Ludwig Rummage owned Behee’s mill when I went to school first on ‘The Green,’ but it may have been later a few years. Behee owned it when I was twelve years old anyway. The schoolhouse stood at the hill top at ‘The Green,’ and the unfinished church stood next to it. This was about 1811-2. They had meetings in the church sometimes though. Father said he used frequently to sit in the upper story of that church, and look over here toward his own house to see if it took fire from the fires in the woods in the spring and fall. Nobody lived over back here then but he or nearer than the Middle road, nearly mile off, and the fires used to burn in the woods clear to the middle road at Askam;s but that must have been before 1806. Askam sometimes used to live in a little log house near South Wilkes-Barre on the Middle road to Solomon’s creek. He was a tailor by trade, but he would rather do peddling than anything else, and so he wanted to live near town. In his peddling excursions he had been, he said, to Canada twenty-one times."

Julia Anna Blackman Plumb died on June 29 at the residence of her son, H. B. Plumb, Esq., in Plumbtown, at the advanced age of eighty-three years. She passed peacefully and painlessly away, in full possession of her faculties to the last. With the exception of a slight cold she was in her usual health, and death was due to the infirmities of advancing age. Interment in Hollenback Cemetery.

She was probably the last survivor of the second generation of the pioneers who participated in the battle of Wyoming, July 3, 1778. About seven years ago she became blind, an affliction that was severely felt by her, she having been a great reader. She had also become deaf. Otherwise her declining years have been marked with a degree of health and vigor not common to such advanced age. She was possessed of those sterling traits of character which ennoble our human nature and which made her life a benediction to all with whom she was thrown in contact. Her religious faith was after the teachings of the Swedenborgian church. For many years she made her home with her son, who has ministered to her every want with the most tender and devoted solicitude.

Mrs. Plumb was in the sixth generation from John Blackman, who was born in Dorchester, Mass., now Boston, in 1640. He had eight children:

Second generation---Joseph Blackman, 1661-1720. He had five children.

Third generation...Elisha, born 1700. He had four children.

Fourth generation...Elisha, 1727-1804. Had five children

Fifth generation---Elisha, 1760-1845. Had ten children

Sixth generation...The subject of this sketch, who was the ninth child.

Seventh generation...H.B, Plumb, of Hanover township

Eighth generation...George H. R. Plumb, Esq., now of Duluth.

She was the daughter of Elisha Blackman and Anna Hurlbut, of Hanover township, and was born on the same farm where she passed her entire life. April 25, 1806. She was married to Charles Plumb December 21 1828, he dying three years later. The only child was Henry Blackman Plumb, the local historian and member of the Luzerne Bar, who survives her. Her father was deeply attached to her, she being the youngest daughter, and she never left the parental roof. Upon her mother’s death she assumed the entire care of her father’s household, a duty far more arduous than falls to women nowadays. Her father was an extensive farmer and nearly everything with the exception of tea, coffee and sugar was raised upon the home lands. The round of exacting duty embraced spinning, weaving, dairying, butter and cheese, wool-raising, bee-culture, flax-raising, the care of harvest hands and numerous other domestic duties quite unknown to the generation now growing up. Her father died December 5,1845, at the age of eighty-six, her mother on January 26, 1828, at the age of sixty-five.

Her father was Elisha Blackman, born April 4, 1760, in Lebanon, Conn. He came with his father, Elisha Blackman, in 1772, and participated in the battle of July 3, 1778, he being one of the fortunate few who escaped. He was a member of Capt. Bidlack’s company, from Lower Wilkes-Barre, out of whose thirty-two men only eight escaped. After the repulse he succeeded in making his way to the Susquehanna river, which he attempted to swim. His efforts were noticed by a savage along the bank who fired a flintlock musket at him, but fortunately without effect. He succeeded in reaching the Monoconock island, where he secreted himself in the bushes. He was an eyewitness to the killing of Philip Weeks, who had also sought to escape to the river, but was induced by a savage to return to the shore on a promise that his life should be spared. It is needless to say that the promise was shamefully and instantly violated and Weeks was killed and scalped. The Blackman boy, for he was only a boy of eighteen, lay concealed until darkness had covered the earth for several hours, when about midnight he took advantage of the dead silence and returned to the west side of the river and made his way to Forty Fort in which such of the frightened settlers as had not fled toward Connecticut had taken refuge. About the same time another refugee came to the fort, Daniel McMullen, who was entirely naked, he having thrown aside his cloting when he took to the river. The next morning (Jul7 4, 1778), these two men objected to the proposed capitulation of the fort, and rather than fall into the hands of the British and Indians as prisoners they took advantage of the opening of the gates to admit some cattle and fled, reaching Wilkes-Barre fort in safety. This fort was already abandoned, Dr. William Hooker Smith and the aged men composing the local military company--the Reformadoes--having gone to the five Mile mountain as an escort for the women and children who were fleeing toward the Pocono on their way to their old homes in Connecticut. The only man in Wilkes-Barre fort was young Blackman’s father. The family home was in South Wilkes-Barre near where the late Judge Dana’s residence stands. Hastily concealing such family valuables as could be buried they got the cattle together and drove them toward the lower end of the valley, away from the Indians, where the oxen were found in safety several months later. They fled down the river, then up Nescopeck creek, and succeeded in crossing the Nescopeck mountain to Stroudsburg, where they overtook the main body of the fugitives who had gone by the way of the "Shades of Death" and Pocono mountain. When Capt. Spalding’s company returned to the desolated valley in August to bury the dead, young Blackman accompanied and assisted in that melancholy duty. He then gathered such of his father’s crops as had escaped the malignity of the tories and Indians. His father returned in November, and the crops harvested by the son found ready purchasers in the troops who were stationed in the valley. Father and son then returned to Connecticut, winter now drawing on, and the son enlisted in the Revolutionary army. He served a year in the New York lake region and then return to Lebanon, Conn. In 1786 he returned to Wilkes-Barre with his two brothers, Ichabod and Eleazer. In1787 his father came, and took the oath of alliegiance to Pennsylvania before Timothy Pickering.

The son married, in January, 1788, Anna Hurlbut, daughter of Deacon John Hurlbut, of Hanover, and in 1791 removed to Hanover and settled on the land where the family have ever since lived. He cleared up a tract of land, built a house and planted an orchard. This was between the middle and the back road. It was probably the only clearing on the southeast side from Newport to Wilkes-Barre, Rufus Bennett came about the same time.

"Old Hanover Green," now the Hanover Cemetery, was for many years the military training ground. A noted meeting place and the chronicler says that there was on noted occasions as much as a whole regiment of men at the place. It is now the "silent city." Commenting on this Mr. Plumb says: "The militia organizations gradually fell into disrepute, as they took men’s time from their labor and sober work and seemed to be useless. They were never called upon for any other service than that of two days each year of poor drilling and marching about a little--together with considerable drunkenness. The act enforcing it was repealed in 1848, though a relic of it remained for some twenty years afterward in a military tax of 50 cents a year on each person of the proper age."

Samuel Holland bought lands in Hanover in 1838 for coal mining purposes--the John B. Garrison, the Sterling and Andrew Shoemaker properties, paying at about the rate of $25 per acre--the first land ever sold or bought in Hanover for such purposes.

In 1840 the assessment had decreased $10,000, owing to the rush of emigrants to the West. The total number of taxables was 262; this too in the face of the fact that this was the time of building railroads and opening mines.

The census of 1840 showed a population of 1,938; 206 were agriculturists, 53 mining, 5 commerce, 77 manufacturing, 8 professional and 1 pensioner.

In 1850 the population had decreased to 1,506. There were still thirty-nine log houses, but all of them showed to be getting old, and were rotting down.

In 1850-60 coal lands had gone up in the markets to an average of about $50 per acre. and the farmers were mostly rejoiced to sell these poor and worn-out lands at such good prices and hie themselves west for good, cheap farms, and the large coal operators now began to work in earnest. Mr. Plumb says, with much plausible reason that those worn-out farms would have been excellent for sheep raising, but their neighbors persisted in keeping so many worthless sheep-killing dogs that this industry was totally destroyed. He says that he personally knew of a single dog that killed 117 sheep before he was killed. A result of the financial panic of 1857 was stopping coal operations and the bankruptcy of many of the investors.

The dam of Behee’s old mill is the road crossing still on the creek and forms the pond above. The streams that once supplied this creek from the mountain long since ceased to flow, and often the pond is dried up. Petty’s mill, built in 1840, was the only one that survived to the present.

The ancient powder mill on the "Middle road," run by water power on Solomon’s creek, ceased to manufacture about thirty years ago. The present brewery stands a few rods further up the creek.

Henry Blackman Plumb, in his admirable History of Hanover Township and Wyoming Valley, published in 1885, speaks thoughtfully of the more important subject

of the effects of the rapid, remarkable advancement of the county in the development of the coal industry since 1860. The increase in population and the far greater increase in wealth in the coal districts in the county are carefully noted by him. Then he has gone over the ground conscientiously he bravely approaches the far more important question of the effects that are flowing out to the people from this panoramic change.

"’Tis yours to judge how wide the limits stand,

Between a splendid and a happy land."

He is, in his comments, considering Hanover township, but his words are equally pertinent when applied to every mining district in the county:

"The township and the boroughs within it continued to prosper from 1870 till 1873, when stagnation overtook them, and no progress was made in business, in property or in the condition of affairs until 1880. The "strike" of 1877 put the finishing touch to the want and distress of the inhabitants. The strike lasted six months, and for the next two years many families had to live on "mush and Molasses.’ No building was done unless where it was absolutely necessary. No new mines were opened; no extension of old ones was made. After 1880 affairs grew slowly better, and in 1882 many new houses were built and old ones repaired and occupied, because rents could be of sufficient to justify the outlay. New mines were opened and old ones enlarged. House-building flourished in 1883 and the railroads were crowded with passengers as never before, and all the appearances of prosperity had come again. "In 1878 there were nine breakers in Hanover, Sugar Notch, Ashley and Nanticoke, within the old township lines, and only four of them in operation, and when at work it was only about half time or less. One of the breakers, the "Hanover," was struck by lightening and burned down. In 1883 there were ten beakers, and eight of them at work, sometimes full time and sometimes half time, but wages were high again, compared with what they had been, and half time part of the year produced no want among the workmen for the necessaries of life.

"Lands about the mines and their neighborhood for a distance of half a mile or more are generally uncultivated and thrown open to commons, on account of the difficulty of securing any crops from them, even if the crops grew. Unruly boys and men, and goats, cattle and hogs that run at large make it quite impossible to live by the cultivation of the soil in the neighborhood, and so the land lies open and vacant that once produced good crops. Nearly every family about the mines needs a dog, some two, three, or even four large ones, making it entirely impossible for any one to raise sheep within many miles of the mine. Dogs have been known to go many miles away from home to kill sheep. * * There have been no sheep raised in Hanover since 1858.

"Goats are kept in large numbers, and make it almost impossible to have any shade or fruit trees, vines or shrubs about the houses, or flower or even gardens. They are animals pretty well calculated for barbarians, but not at all for civilized communities. The destructiveness of these animals is one among the great reasons why everything appears so desolate and uncomfortable generally about miners’ houses. Another reason is the desire to have all animals run at large for the benefit of the ‘poor man.’ I leave for others to decide whether it is really to the benefit of the poor man to have these animals run at large. * * *

"There are now five postoffices within the boundaries of Hanover, viz.: Sugar Notch, Ashley, Askam, Peely and Nanticoke. No business is carried on in the township and boroughs but the coal business and railroading, and such mercantile business ad mechanical trades as are necessary on account of them, and the wants and needs of a mining population. Farming has fallen to a very low condition and but little is done. Garden products of every description are raised, mostly on the flats, and these have to be watched, frequently with arms in hand, night and day, to keep away thieves, and the arms sometimes have to be used. The mines, the railroads; the repair shops and machine shops are the business of the people now. In the whole township and the three boroughs, with a population of more than 12,000 in 1884, it is doubtful whether there are more than four blacksmith shops, not connected with the mines or railroads; while in the early times it took one blacksmith to every 100 people, old and young. Thing that were formerly made here have ceased to be manufactured and some are no longer made nor used here or elsewhere. There are no canneries now, no tool makers, no plow makers, no makers of scythes, sickles, knives, axes, hoes, harness, saddles, carts, wagons, carriages, brooms, cloth, soap--no weaving, no wool, no flax, no honey, no beeswax, no bees, no tobacco, no millwrights, no gunsmiths, no wheelwright, no makers of kitchenware. Indeed, there is almost nothing made here now and nothing produced except coal. But of coal the production is very large and overshadows everything * * * It seems as if when one enjoys one great and good thing he must forego all others. * * * The business of Hanover was at one time entirely agricultural, now it is entirely mining. Her future history, while the coal lasts, will be statistical--the amount of coal she produces, number of men employed, persons injured or killed in the mines, or the capital invested. Her population will not be the owners----* * * Her owners will not be a part of the population * * *

"The taxes are very high * * * the reason for it is that assessments are made by assessors not elected by the owners of the property, or by their friends and neighbors, but persons in general, not owners of anything and not responsible . The local taxes are also levied, collected and expended by the same class of person. It may therefore be surmised that the taxes will be put, as they are where these people rule, to the highest point the law allows, and frequently higher, and that this condition of things is growing more and more oppressive every year. If this only fell upon the companies alone they could easily get it all back out of their workmen, but where a man with his family owns and occupies his house of five rooms and a loft 50x100 feet, worth altogether $1,200 or $1,300, and has to pay taxes amounting to from 50 cents to 75 cents per month for his own dwelling, it seems pretty heavy. The owners of property are now pretty much all non-resident. No farmer can now own the back land and make a living on it and pay the taxes, insurance and repairs.

"There are but few Americans here now, whether natives of the township or new-comers. They are not liked by the foreigners. The foreigners are about the same in nationalities as in 1870; being English, Irish, Welsh, German, Swede, Swiss, French, Polanders, Hungarians, Canadians and Scotch."

For more information on Hanover Township History of Hanover Twp. by C. Plumb

Back to Town Histories

This Town History was donated by Jacqueline M. Wolfe.

© 1997-2010 by Mary Ann Lubinsky for the PAGenWeb Project, and by Individual Contributors

 Back To Luzerne Genweb