Was one of the original townships when this was Westmoreland county, Conn., and derives it name from Newport, R. I. It now contains within its boundaries but nineteen square miles, whereas originally it was all of what are now Newport, Slocum, Dorrance, Hollenback, Conyngham and Nescopeck townships.
The first settlement in Newport was made by Maj. Prince Alden, in 1772, on the Col. Washington Lee property. A few years after this his sons, Mason F. and John Alden, erected a forge on Nanticoke creek. In the same year Mr. Chapman put up a log gristmill, with one run of stone, near the forge. This was the only mill in Wyoming that escaped destruction from floods and from the torch of the savage. In 1780 it was guarded by armed men, and, as far as possible, it met the wants of the public, but many of the settlers were compelled to carry their grain to Stroud's mill, at Stroudsburg, a distance of fifty miles.
Even when Stewart Pearce wrote his Annals he states that the industry of farming, once quite a business of all the people, was passing away - the farmers selling their land to the coal companies and moving off. While the lands were mostly hilly and undulating, yet they were once productive, but when the coal operators got possession of them, farms began to be neglected and soon agriculture was given over to careless and indifferent renters or turned out as commons. "Companies seem to take no interest in the improvement of the farms, further than to rent them on short and uncertain leases for enough to pay the taxes." In other words, Newport is now almost exclusively "a mining district" - a term sufficiently descriptive to the average reader.
Prince Alden made his improvement on Newport creek; in modern times his place was the property of Col. Washington Lee. This description is still somewhat vague, as Lee owned at various times a great deal of property. Either Alden's first location was in what is now a part of Nanticoke borough or was very close thereto. Of one thing there is little doubt, namely, that his settlement here was the cause of the coming of the first settlers in what is now Nanticoke borough, such as William Stewart and others, who came in 1773. About one-third of the borough of Nanticoke, the south part, was taken from Newport township. To which the reader is referred for the early settlers. The first record information we can find of the original settlers is of date June 13, 1787, as follows:
NEWPORT TOWNSHIP - At a meeting legally warned and held at the house of Prince Alden, Saturday, June 9, 1787, made choice of Mr. Prince Alden, moderator, and Mason F. Alden, clerk.
"Resolved, Whereas the survey of this town was utterly lost at the destruction of this settlement, it is, therefore, resolved that a committee of three persons be appointed to carefully inspect into and ascertain the proprietors and actual settlers of the town of Newport at or before the decree of Trenton," etc.
The town meeting provided for other things, but the material act is given verbatim. The committee appointed were Prince Alden, Capt. John P. Schott and Mason F. Alden. They wre also to "allot out the third division of 300 acres lots, to each proprietor." The persons who were residents and found to be entitled to lots, as reported by that committee, were as follows: James Baker, Mason Fitch Alden, John P. Schott, Prince Alden, Sr., William H. Smith, John Hegeman, Ebenezer Williams, William Smith, Caleb Howard, Clement Daniel, Isaac Bennett, William Stewart, George Miner, Peleg Comstock, Samuel Jackson, Benjamin Baily, Anderson Dana, John Canaday, John Jameson, Elisha Drake, John Carey, Edward Lester, Luke Swetland, William Hyde, Hambleton Grant, Turner Jameson, John Bradford, John Nobles, James Barks, Prince Alden Jr., Andrew Alden. There were seven other proprietors' names in the reported list, but they were non-residents, and therefore omitted. It should be further explained that "non-residents" means those not in this part of the State. There are in the above list some who were well known residents of Wilkes-Barre and Plymouth.
Prince Alden and John P Schott were agents to lay out the lots of land, or to act with the surveyors, and Shubart Bidlock and Elish Bennett were chain bearers and ax-men.
September 15, 1790, William Jackson, Isaac Bennett and Silas Smith were appointed to care for the public lands. John Hegeman was appointed to revise the town records. It was voted that each proprietor in elections should be entitled to cast as many votes as he owned "rights."
In 1792 William Jackson, John Fairchild, Mason F. Alden, M. Smith, Daniel McMullen and Abram Smith were appointed a committee to lay out roads. They employed Christopher Hurlbut to do the work.
August 3, 1794, Isaac Bennett, Sidney Drake, John Fairchild, Jonathan Smith and William Jackson were appointed a committee to attend to the land trials with the Pennsylvania authorities, and to attend to any other township business that might arise. This committee, October 4, 1794, leased for 900 years lot 18, second tier, first district, to Elias Decker, at a rental of one pepper corn per year, if demanded to be paid into the town treasury. Also on the same terms to Jacob Crater, lot No. 49, third division. Putnam Catlin was voted £25 17s. 3d. (£25 = 25 pounds sterling, typist's note) for expenses of land trials. March 15, 1800, the committee leased to John Alden lot 25, for 999 years for $43, to be paid any time before the expiration of the lease, and $2.58 a year to be paid the treasurer; to Henry Schoonover, lot 1; to Abram Setzer, lot 13; to Andrew McClure, Nos. 26 and 27.
February 25, 1805, the following persons signed and agreed to abide by the lines and surveys established by William Montgomery under the confirming act:
Silas Jackson, James Stewart, John Noble, Benjamin Berry, Mathew Covel, Andrew Dana, Nathan Whipple, Martin Van Dyne, Abraham Smith, Jr., John Fairchild, Abraham Smith, James Mullen, Fredrick Barkman, Philip Croup, William Bellesfelt, Cornelius Bellesfelt, Isaac Bennet, Andrew Keithline, Cornelius Smith, William Nelson, Jacob Reeder, Christian Sarver, Casomin Fetterman, Daniel Adams, James Reeder, John R. Little, Jonathan Kelley, Daniel Sims, William Jackson, John Jacob, Jr., Elisha Bennett, Henry Bennett, Michael Hoffman, Valentine Smith, John Lutsey, James Millage, Andrew Lee, Jacob Lutsey, Conrad Line, Jr., Jacob Scheppy (Slippy) and Henry Fritze.
After Chapman's mill had worn out, William Jackson put up his mill, also on Newport creek. And for years this was the only mill in the township. When it was worn out there was no other attempt at this time to build a mill in the township. John Slippey put up his sawmill about one mile west of where is now Wanamie; which was in after years changed into a foundry and made cast-iron plows here as early as 1820. Mason F. Alden and his brother John Alden built a small forge on Nanticoke creek, not far from Chapman's old mill - making their own iron from ores dug in Newport township. This ore running thirty-three per cent, of metal of a superior quality, and the Aldens sold their bar iron at one time as high as $120 per ton. This property was afterward owned and operated by Washington Lee. All these mills and industry, like agriculture, have faded away, given place to coal mining.
The first store was that of Jacob Ramback on the road between Wanamie and Nanticoke. There was a "corners" once called "Newport Center." Here was the first postoffice, served by the mail coaches that ran from Wilkes-Barre to Conyngham in Sugarloaf township. This was the old "State road" that branched off from the old Berwick turnpike at the west end of Hazleton, on its way to Wilkes-Barre. The postoffice was abandoned long since. The township has never had but one resident physician - Dr. William Thompson, who lived near the Hanover line.
Wanamie is a postoffice and mining town. It came into existence by the opening of the Wanamie colliery. A company store, now a private one, a hotel, and a little shop or two are the entirety of the industries of the place outside of mining. The railroad passes it and has a station.
Alden is another mining town and is east of Nanticoke about four miles and about two miles from Wanamie. This was opened by the sinking shafts and erecting a colliery a few years ago by the Messrs. Sharp.
Glenlyon is about four miles from Nanticoke and the mines were opened in 1870. A postoffice, store and hotel and all else of the thriving place is connected with coal in some way. The Central railroad of New Jersey built a branch road from Ashley to Nanticoke and Wanamie and extended it to Alden and Glenlyon, thereby securing a large transportation of coal.
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This Town History was donated by Deb Horton.
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