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The History of Kingston, Pa.


In 1662, King Charles II granted land and gave a charter for it to some people in Connecticut for land between certain boundaries between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. About the same time, King Charles II owed Admiral Penn a large sum of money. To settle this debt, he granted Penn's son, William, a large territory in North America which Penn called Pennsylvania. Strangely, Charles had granted some of the same land to Connecticut nineteen years before. These land grants were ignored until the arrival of a German Nobleman and Moravian Missionary, Count Zinzendorf.

Count Zinzendorf was one of the first people to spark an interest in Wyoming Valley. He came to the Valley in 1742 for the purpose of converting the Indians to Christianity. His reports, combined with the descriptions of other adventurers, moved a group of Connecticut settlers to form the Connecticut Susquehanna Company. These people bought the land from the Indians and were given a Charter by Connecticut in 1755. Meanwhile, Governor Penn learned of the Company's plan and tried to stop them, saying that they bought land from the Indians who were not the rightful owners. Penn's plan failed, and the Company met in Hartford, Connecticut in 1768 and decided to survey and divide the territory into five townships, each five miles square. The plan was to sell and divide each township among forty men, if they would live on the land allotted to them. The townships were Wilkes-Barre, Hanover, Pittston, Kingston and Plymouth. The whole Valley was divided and assigned to two hundred men, and the first forty settlers took possession of Kingston Township. At this time, and until 1796, the Township included present day Kingston Township, Township of Dallas and part of Franklin and Lake Townships. The following are the names of the first forty settlers of Kingston Township: Asahel Atherton, Ezra Belding, Thomas Bennet, Silas Bingham, Richard Brockway, Elijah Buck, William Buck, John Comstock, Ruben Davis, John Dean, Nathan Denison, Simon Draper, Thomas Dyer, Vine Elderkin, Elias Roberts, Benjamin Follett, Joseph Frink, Stephen Gardner, Samuel Gaylord, Joshua Hall, Stephen Harding, Peter Harris, Zerubabel Jearum, John Jenkins, Stephen Jenkins, Cyprian Lothrop, Benajah Pendleton, Timothy Pierce, Benjamin Shoemaker, Elijah Shoemaker, Oliver Smith, Timothy Smith, Henry Dow Tripp, Isaac Tripp, Rudolph Brink Vanorman, William Walsworth, Theophilus Westover, Allen Wrightman, Benjamin Yale, Job Yale,

When the Yankees (Connecticut Settlers) arrived in Wyoming Valley in February, 1769, they found Pennsylvania settlers had been there since January, 1769. This land became a bloody battlefield for the first and second Yankee-Pennamite Wars under the leadership of Captain Zebulon Butler (Yankees) and Captain Ogden (Pennamites). The first Yankee-Pennamite War was a victory for the Connecticut Yankees.

In 1782, five Commissioners were named by Congress, at Pennsylvania's request, to settle the land disputes. These Commissioners handed down the Decree of Trenton, giving all the disputed land to Pennsylvania, but doing nothing about the land ownership of the properties the Connecticut settlers had purchased. The area became part of Northumberland County and a Commission was sent to settle claims. The Connecticut settlers were told to give up their lands, as Pennsylvania citizens owned them. Perhaps later, they were told, Pennsylvania would give them land in the West. This offer was rejected, and thus started the second Yankee-Pennamite War. Col. Franklin tried to reopen the case for Connecticut, and wanted to create a new state from Wyoming lands. Connecticut was in favor of this, and Pennsylvania knew it would have to act fast to save its land. Colonel Pickering was sent to the area to conduct a thorough political examination. As a result, the Pennsylvania Assembly passed a resolution to create Luzerne County, thus ending the idea of creating a new state.

Luzerne County was formerly part of Northumberland. Its original limits were considerably larger than the present size (3,700 square miles, as compared to 1,427 square miles). It included parts of Bradford, Carbon, Lackawanna, Susquehanna, Wyoming and Lycoming Counties. It was, at one time the largest county in the state, exceeding the State of Rode Island in size. It lost its distinction when Lackawanna County was formed in 1878.

Under Colonel Pickering's direction, county elections were held, courts were opened, and properties were legally deeded to the Connecticut Settlers. Finally, in 1799, the Comprising Act and its supplements settled the ownership once and for all, and the Connecticut settlers became "Pennsylvania Citizens from Connecticut in the County of Luzerne".


At some of the citizen's request, a bill providing for incorporation of limited land around Kingston Corners was introduced in the State House of Representatives 1831 Session. The majority of the Township opposed this bill and on February 22,1831, Benjamin Dorrance, a member of the House of Representatives, presented a petition against incorporation. The incorporation failed and was not revived until twenty years later.

With the construction and operation of the Lackawanna and Bloomsburg Railroad, there came a great increase in population. The village people, spurred on by this increase, were determined to incorporate. In fact, forty-three men signed a petition to help this cause along. Anson Atherton Richard Hutchins William Raymond Joshua Belding Ruben Jones A. H. Reynolds H. S. Butler John Keller E. W. Reynolds A. C. Church R. H. Little William C Reynolds Ira W. Dilley William Loveland Conklin Robbins Thomas Fender Reuben Marcy George Sealy Abram Goodwin William Morris H. C. Silkman Abram Goodwin, Jr. M. F. Myers Albert Skier P. J. Goodwin Thomas Myers Thomas Slocum Samuel Griffin R. Nelson Thomas Somers James Grinawalt Bestor Payne Isaac Tripp F. Helme Francis Page Robert H. Tubs H. M. Hoyt M. S. Perigo F.C.Woodhouse Samuel Hoyt Thomas Pringle Z. B. Hoyt Charles Raymond

With their help, the incorporation did take place by court decree on November 23, 1857. The total number of persons living in the Borough at the time was 598 including 125 who were boarding at Wyoming Seminary. Later, in 1891, owing to its number, the court divided Kingston into four wards with two Councilmen and two School Directors from each ward.

The first election in the new Borough was held on December 15, 1857 at Thomas Wambold's home. The polls were open from the hours of 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM with the following results: Ira Carl, Judge; P V Wambold, Frank Helme, Reuben March, and Abram Nesbitt, Inspectors of the Election; Burgess and Justice of the Peace, Ruben Jones; Councilmen, Reuben Jones, Bestor Payne, Marshall G. Whitney, Reuben Marcy, Thomas Pringle and Richard Hutching; State Commissioners, J R Gates, Giles Slocum and Cornelius Robbins; High Constable, Edward Pringle; Borough Clerk, Abram Goodwin; Auditors, Abram Nesbitt and R H Little.

Choosing a name for the Borough was a unique job and there are two different stories relating to it. Either way, a quart of whiskey figured in the naming of Kingston. The first account says that Ezra Dean offered a quart of liquor for the privilege of naming the town. As a compliment to his wife, who was a native of Kingston, Rhode Island, he gave it the name of Kingston. Another account of the same nature states that Dean offered a quart of whiskey as a prize for the naming of the town. His wife selected the winning name (presumably she got the whiskey).

At the meeting of the Town Council on December 22, 1857, Thomas Pringle was chosen President and Abram Nesbitt was selected to be Secretary. At another Town Council Meeting on July 10, 1858, the first policemen of Kingston Borough were appointed. They were C W Boughtin, John Remell and John Jackson.


1769 - John Atherton and Sons, James Atherton, Jr., Ashael, and Elisha were first settlers of the Township within the original Borough limits. 1804 - Henry Buckingham opened the first store in Kingston. 1809 - Henry Buckingham established first post office and became first Postmaster on Nov. 9 and conducted business there until 1822. 1857 - Incorporation of Borough 1886 - Wyoming Seminary was the first School to install power plant to light the school property. 1892 - First high school in Kingston - Wyoming Seminary played Mansfield State Teachers College in the first night football game in the United States. It only lasted for one half due to poor lighting and field conditions. Game was scoreless. 1896 - First bank within the Borough limits was the Deposit and Savings Bank of Kingston, incorporated May 25th. The bank building stood on Market Street and Page Street. The name was changed to the Kingston Bank and Trust Company on October 9, 1919 when it merged with West Side Trust. - First resident physician - Dr. Asa Whitney

First Public School

In 1775, a new school was erected on the site of one established in 1773, which is said to have been the first public school in Pennsylvania. This new school building stood on the southerly side of the present Bennett Street near its intersection with Wyoming Avenue, on the land of Oliver Pettebone. The measurements were 18 feet by 24 feet. It was up- to-date and furnished with a stove which was something of a innovation. The first schoolmaster was Asa Boughtin who was paid $10 a month, together with boarding and lodging in the homes of parents for a three-month term.

The First Locomotive Railroad

The first locomotive railroad in Wyoming Valley was the Lackawanna-Bloomsburg Railroad which was organized by a meeting of the incorporators held at the home of Frank Helme on May 22, 1862. After a great financial struggle, its first train ran as far as Kingston on the morning of June 24, 1856. It carried more than 300 passengers, and ran three times daily between Scranton and Kingston. A great celebration was held at Kingston Depot in which the whole region on the East and West sides of the river as far south as Bloomsburg participated. Completion of the line between Scranton and Kingston established a definite need for transportation of passengers between Kingston Station and Wilkes Barre, one-and-one-half mile away. To fill the need, the Wilkes-Barre and Kingston Passengers Railway, Believed to be the first local public transportation utility, was set up be an Act of Legislation, approved on April 14, 1859. Since then, horses, steam, electricity and gasoline have furnished motive power for passenger transportation in Kingston and the surrounding towns. On November 15, 1949, the last passenger train arrived at Kingston Station.

The First Telephone Company

The first telephone company was started in 1878 with seven subscribers. The list was as follows: D.L. Guthrie, MD, D.L. Rhone, B.G. Carpenter Company, S. Sturdevant, J.B. Stark and Fred Beach. This company was known as The Wilkes-Barre Telephone Exchange, and had the following rates: One telephone, $3.00 per month: two telephones, $3.85 per month, one telephone and one transmitter, $4.50 per month. The system was confined to a twenty mile area.

The First Weekly Newspaper

On April 4, 1832, Sharp D. Lewis started the publication of a weekly paper called the "Wyoming Republican", knowing that the people needed a source of reliable news of the area. In 1835, Lewis published the "Wyoming Herald" and consolidated it with "The Republican". He continued to print and publish the paper at Kingston under the name of "The Wyoming Republican and Herald". Miner S. Blackman and Henry Webb bought the paper from Lewis in 1837, and Webb ran it until 1838, when he retired. Blackman sold the paper on April 3, 1839 to S.P. Collings who consolidated it with the "Democratic Journal" and published under the name of "Republican Farmer and Democratic Journal". It was published in Wilkes-Barre.

Nesbitt Hospital

Nesbitt Memorial Hospital is the only hospital on the West Side. The movement for the organization of the institution as led by D.H. Lake of Kingston, supported by Abram Nesbitt who purchased the Sharp Street residence and grounds on Wyoming Avenue as the site of the hospital. Nesbitt West Side Hospital was chartered on May 15, 1912.The Nursing School was started shortly after the hospital's opening.

The Hoyt Library

Another historic building is the Hoyt Library. This building is the former Samuel Hoyt residence, which was bequeathed to Kingston Borough for a public library by his son, Frank Weston Hoyt. With the financial support of Kingston Borough Council, the Library opened on January 1, 1928. The first librarian was Miss Margaret Jackson. Her successor was Miss Frances Dorrence.

This information was sent by Jim Pace of Bradenton, Florida.
Jim is a former resident of Kingston who wanted to share with all of us who are interested in this area's history.

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Copyright © 1998 Pat Krivak