HISTORY OF THE LACKAWANNA VALLEY
(CONTINUED FROM DOCUMENT #1)
HISTORY OF SCRANTON.
Nay-aug, or Roaring Brook, linked together by successive rapids and falls for many miles, emerges from the
water-shedding crest separating the Delaware from the Susquehanna, and forms the noisiest tributary of the Lackawanna, which it enters at Scranton, one mile below the ancient village of Capoose. The woodland along the brook, unbroken on its gorgeous surface save by the achievements of the beaver, whose dams and villages deepened many a curve, had no fixed tenantry but beasts of prey until 1788.
(engraved illustration of Nay-aug Falls)
Across the Lackawanna, the skin-clad savages had vanished from their wigwams with a sigh, leaving their fertile meadows to be tilled by men efficient in industry, yet indifferent to fear, who used the jungle now marked by Scranton, to return the visits of the wolf and the bear coming often to them unannounced. Although the great war-path from the Indian villages on the Delaware to the
tribes strolling over Wyoming, intelligence of which had been early gained of the wandering bowmen, entered Capoose at the eddy affording moorage for the warrior's canoe, no one looked upon the tamarack swamp, now hid in the interior of Scranton, as suitable for a dwelling-place while the richer lands west of the Lackawanna, more easily cared for, invited occupancy and tillage.
Philip Abbot was the first settler in "Deep Hollow", as this place was designated from 1788 until 1798, when it took the name of Slocum Hollow. While the month of Mary charmed the glen with its foliage and fragrance, Mr. Abbott marked out his clearing. On a ledge of rocks, washed by the brook whose waters it overlooked, near where stands the old Slocum House, rose from the up-rolled logs the first cabin in the Hollow. It was simply a long hut or pen covered with boughs, formed but a single room, occupied in great part by a huge fire-place four or five feet in width and as many in depth, filled in the long evenings of winter with great sticks of wood before a back-log, which furnished both light and warmth to the hardy inmates. Philip was a native of Connecticut, had emigrated to Wyoming Valley with the Yankees before the Revolution, owned property under the Connecticut title, which he transferred to his brother James, both of whom were expelled by the Tories and Indians in 1778.
The settlers in Providence Township in 1788 were limited in numbers, yet their necessities sometimes pressing, found expression in the settlement of Deep Hollow. Corn and rye raised in the valley, had to be carried twenty miles to mill in Wyoming Valley, or half cracked by the pestle and mortar, and eaten almost whole. The wants of the inhabitants, multiplying gradually by the development of the settlement, and other causes wonderfully productive here in the wild woods, suggested to the practical mind of Mr. Abbott the erection of a grist-mill upon the Roaring Brook. Its waters were ample in volume and power; a dam easy of construction along its rocky
grottoes. The Lackawanna, spanned by no bridge, could generally be forded during the summer months, unless swollen by rains; in winter an ice-bridge favored communication with the farmers living across the stream.
The construction of the mill was marked by strong simplicity. One millstone wrought from the granite of an adjoining ledge, slightly elevated by an iron spindle, revolved upon its nether stone as rudely and firmly adjusted upon a rock. A belt cut from skin, half wrapped on the drum of the water-wheel, passing over the spindle with a twist, formed the running gear of a mill fulfilling the expectations of its projector, and the hopes of those encouraging its erection. The mill building, upheld by saplings firmly placed in the earth, was roofed and sided by slabs hewn from trees and affixed by wooden pins and withes. Nails comprised no part of its construction, nor did the sound of the mallet and chisel take part in the triumph of its completion. No portion of the mill surpassed its bolt in novelty. A large deer-skin, well tanned and stretched upon poles, perforated sieve-like with holes, made partial separation of the flour from the coarser bran. The strong arm of the miller or the customer worked the bolt. An old gentleman, now deceased, informed the writer many years ago, that when he was a mere lad "he often went to Abbot's mill with his father, and that while the corn was being ground the old man and the miller got jolly on whisky punches in the house, while he was compelled to stay in the mill to shake the meal through the bolt." So primitive and unique was the construction of this corn-cracker, without tools or machinery, that it simply broke the kernels of corn into a samp-meal, which made a kind of food very popular in the earlier history of the valley.
The grist-mill, maintaining and even increasing its importance among the yeomanry scattered along the river, needed additional capital and labor to arrange and enlarge its capacity. These requirements came with James Abbott,
in October of this year, and with Reuben Taylor in the spring of 178, both of whom, with Philip Abbott, became equal partners in the mill. Mr. Taylor built a double log-house on the bank of the brook, below the cabin of Abbott, which was the second dwelling erected in the Hollow. Owing to the want of glass, its high, small windows, like all the cabins of the frontierman, gave place to skins from the forests. Doors, beds, and blankets, and sometimes clothes, were made from the same rich untanned material. The forest trees in the forks of the two streams, yielding to the united assaults of ax and firebrand, opened a strip of land for the reception of wheat and corn, bringing forth its maiden crop in 1789. John Howe and his unmarried brother Seth, animated by the hope that independence would come from a life of honesty and labor, purchased the rights and good-will of the former owners, and moved into the thatched dwelling vacated by Mr. Taylor. On the uplands known throughout the valley as the "Uncle Joe Griffin farm", Mr. Taylor, after rescuing a few acres from the woodlands, disposed of his place for a trifle because of its seeming worthlessness.
The first saw-mill built in Providence Township was planned on Stafford Meadow Brook, half a mile below Scranton, in 1790, by Capt. John Stafford, from whom the stream derived its name.
While the farmers living around Capoose enjoyed the prosperity and rustic comforts they themselves had created, little or no progress toward enlarging the settlement at the Hollow had been made. No building of a public character, neither school nor a meeting-house had yet been fostered within the limits of Capoose, Providence, or the Hollow. The Lackawanna led on its way, unvexed by dam or bridge. In 1796, Joseph Fellows, Sen., a man of great resolution and intelligence, who had just gained a residence on the Hyde Park hill-side, aided by the farmers of Capoose, placed a bridge across the river, with a single span. The plank used upon it was the first
production of Stafford's mill. It was located on the flats, where the slackened waters are still crossed by the throng.
That part of the certified Township of Providence now occupied by Hyde Park, originally reserved by the Susquehanna Company for religious and school purposes, was settled in 1794, by William Bishop, a Baptist clergyman of some eccentricity of character, whose log-quarters, fixed on the parsonage lot overlooking Capoose, in its rural simplicity stood where now stands Judge Merrifield's dwelling. Most of the land about the central portion of this thrifty village was cleared by the Dolphs. In 1795, Aaron Dolph rolled up his small log-house upon the present site of the Hyde Park hotel; his brother Jonathan then chopped and logged off the Washburn and Knapp farm, while the lands at Fellows Corner were brought to light and culture by Moses Dolph. The earliest house of entertainment or tavern in Hyde Park was opened and kept by Jonathan Dolph. In 1810, Philip Heermans, influenced by the community, which required a public point at which to hold town meetings and enjoy the largest liberty of franchise, turned his house into a tavern, where the spirit of frolic sometimes mingled with the more sober duties of the assemblage. Elections have been held at this place ever since. On the cold soil and bleak hill north of Dunmore, Charles Dolph, another brother, moved into the forest, where he sowed and reaped in due season.
The joint and double advantage of water-power and timber everywhere found along the Roaring Brook from its mouth up to its head-springs amidst the evergreens of the Pocono, could neither be overlooked nor resisted by Ebenezer and Benjamin Slocum, who purchased of the Howes, in July, 1798, the undivided land of Slocum Hollow. The father of the Slocums was Ebenezer Slocum, Sen. He had emigrated to Wyoming Valley previous to the massacre, was shot and scalped by the Indians, near
Wilkes Barre Fort, in December, 1778, with Isaac Tripp, Sen.
A domestic tragedy, casting a spirit of melancholy over the brook-side cabin, hastened and impelled the transfer of the property. Lydia, the eldest born of John Howes, depressed by some disappointed visions of girlhood, was found dead in her chamber, having hanged herself with a garter attached to her bedpost. The effect of this suicide--the first in the valley--removed every speculating consideration or cavil from a trade which placed the mill and the wild acres around it into the hands of the Slocums.
Benjamin was a single man; he afterward married Miss Phebe La Fronse. Ebenezer married a daughter of Dr. Joseph Davis, one of the most eccentric medical men ever known in the Lackawanna Valley. "He was not", in the language of an octogenarian familiar with his oddities five-and-sixty years ago, "a great metaphysical doctor but a wonderful sargant doctor." Dr. David died in Slocum Hollow in 1830, aged 98 years.
There were now but two houses in the Hollow, and only that number of grist-mills from Nanticoke northward to the State line.
The Slocums, young, strong, and ambitious, infused new elements into the settlement. The named the place Unionville, but the name, having no descriptive interpretation or bearing to the glen, readily gave way to that of Slocum's Hollow, or Slocum Hollow. In 1799, after the mill, necessarily rugged in its interior and external features had been improved, enlarged, and a distillery added thereto, Ebenezer Slocum and his partner, James Duwain, built a saw-mill a little above the grist mill. A smith shop, built from faultless logs, rose from the margin of the creek, and the sound of the anvil, carried afar, blended joyfully with the song of the noisy water. Two or three additional houses, built for the workmen, the saw and the grist mill, one cooper shop, with the smith shop and the distillery, formed the total village of Slocum Hollow
or Scranton in 1800. Both dams were swept away by the spring freshet of this year, exhausting the courage of Mr. Duwain, who forthwith retired from partnership; Benjamin Slocum taking his place.
The interests of the community suffered but little, as the dams were promptly built by the aid of a bee, which called together every farmer in the township. The grist-mill was patronized far and near. Farmers twenty miles away sometimes sought the mill with their grists, and when the work was pressing on the farm at home, they tarried and toiled while the wife, heroic and devoted, went to mill on horseback, with no equipage grander than the pillion.
The Pittston division of the valley owes no more kind remembrance to Dr. Wm. Hooker Smith for his vigorous efforts to extract iron from its hills, than the Scranton portion of it concedes to the elder Slocum brothers for the erection of the original iron-forge in the Hollow in 1800. Low down on the bank of the brook, beside the waterfall and yet above the flood, grew up the forge and trip-hammer, which, fed with ore gathered from gullies, brought for the molten product in abundance.
The old landmark of Slocum Hollow, cherished with pride by the old settler, is the old "Slocum House", yet standing by the creek, with its stone basement and broad long stoop, as proudly as in days of yore. It is the oldest structure in Scranton, was built in the fall of 1805 by Ebenezer Slocum, well preserved even to its capacious hearth where the fagot blazed and reflected back the light of smiling faces half a century ago, where the jest and the song went around and the old hall rang to the very roof. The second frame house in the Hollow was built by Benjamin Slocum. Facing the brook, with its low porch extending along its entire front, it offered an admirable view of the forge and the sturdy artisans around it. With all these improvements along a narrow strip of clearing, Slocum Hollow was yet comparatively a wilderness.
Deer, bear, and even panthers were hunted and killed here as late as 1816. Land now occupied by the massive Round House and the Depots of the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad, were cleared of the fallen tree and sown with wheat in 1816. Six years previous, a chopping had been made where Lackawanna Avenue runs, but the wolves issuing from their fastnesses in the tamarack jungle adjoining, prevented the Slocums from keeping sheep for their much-needed wool.
(Engraved illustration of "The Old Slocum House")
Elisha Hitchcock, a young mill-wright from New Hampshire, made his way into Slocum Hollow in 1809. He repaired the mill, married Ruth the daughter of Benjamin Slocum in 1811, an excellent lady who still survives him. Mr. Hitchcock was an honest man, who never wronged his fellow, and beloved by all for his exemplary qualities; he died a few years since.
A second still was put into operation in 1811. The tranquil succession of abundant harvests throughout Capoose--the absence of an approachable market for the grain, thrashed out by the flail--the frequent calls for whisky coming from Easton, Paupack, Bethany, Montrose,
and the high banks of Berwick, abating none of its value and inspirations as a commercial agent, served to welcome the accession of the new still as a public benefaction worthy of the unhesitated and active patronage and favor accorded to it by every member of society.
Luzerne County, as now bounded, had but two post-offices in 1810--Wilkes Barre and Kingston. In 1811 four were established, viz: at Pittston, Nescopeck, Abington, and Providence. The Providence office was located in Slocum Hollow, and Benj. Slocum appointed postmaster. The inhabitants of the valley working hard for coarse food and rustic homespun, sometimes had leisure to visit and reflect, but few books or papers to peruse. Scattered through Blakeley or over the mountain, they enjoyed no mail facilities other than those offered by this office, until the establishment of another one in Blakeley in 1824. The Slocum Hollow office was removed to Providence in this year, and John Vaughn appointed postmaster. The same year William Merrifield was commissioned postmaster of a new office established at Hyde Park. The mail was carried once a week on horseback from Easton to Bethany by Zephaniah Knapp, Esq., via Wilkes Barre and Providence; the entire mail matter for the Lackawanna settlements bore no comparison, in quantity, to the amount that very many business firms in the same vicinity are now daily the recipients of.
Frances Slocum, who was taken captive by the Indians in Wyoming Valley, in 1778, and whose subsequent history had been made familiar by Dr. Peck and Miner, was a sister of Ebenezer and Benjamin. When she was caught up in the arms of the savage that had just scalped a lad with the knife he was grinding at the door, a painted warrior rushed into the house of Jonathan Slocum "and took up Ebenezer Slocum, a little boy. The mother stepped up to the savage, and reaching for the child, said: 'He can do you no good; see, he is lame.' With a grim smile, giving up the boy, he took Frances, her daughter, aged
about five years, gently in his arms, and seizing the younger Kinsley by the hand, hurried away to the mountains." His release from the fickle savage, through the adroitness of his mother, was no more providential than his escape from as horrible a death in 1808. Losing his foothold while clearing the mill-race of drift-wood, he fell, and was carried by the rushing impulse of the current down the stream between the buckets of the water-wheel, before he was rescued by his faithful negro. Mr. Slocum's weight exceeded two-hundred, and yet, through this vise-like space, measuring scant six inches, he was forced with so little injury that he resumed his wonted labor within a week! Of such material, plastic yet withe-like, was made the men who carved and nursed the valley in its infancy.
In the manufacture of iron, no advantage was taken of the coal ramparts by the creek, because no knowledge of its use for this purpose had reached the public mind until 1836. Charcoal, made in the turf-clad pits by the wood-side, everywhere at the furnaces asserted its prerogative as the heating agent. In fact, the timber about Scranton in the earlier part of the century was swept away, more especially to supply the charcoal demand of Slocum's forge, than for any remunerative gain its soil promised to the cultivators of the country.
Iron forges and furnaces having sprung up in various sections of country where Slocum Hollow iron, famous for its superior texture, had been favorably known and used; the dilapidated state of the works in use for six-and-twenty years; the cost of transporting ore over miles of roads sometimes rendered impassable by fallen trees or deepened ruts; all contributed to extinguish the forge-fire. The last iron was made by the Slocums in June, 1826; the last whisky distilled a few months later. Up to this time these primitive iron-works were, in the hands of
these unobtrusive men, yielding their conquests and diffusing a spirit of enterprise amidst accumulative difficulties, in a valley having no outlet by railroad, no navigable route to the sea other than shallow waters long skimmed by the Indian's canoe.
Ebenezer retired from business in 1828; in 1832, full of years, peaceful, trusting, he went to his grave, as a shock of corn fully ripe cometh in, in its season.
Joseph and Samuel Slocum, full of youthful enthusiasm, began to carry on farming and mill interests with the same spirit of earnestness distinguishing the elder Slocums.
The obliteration of the still and forge abridged the importance and checked the growth of the village. Three roads, or rather two, cut through the woods, too narrow for wagons to pass each other only in places prepared for turn-outs, diverged from the Hollow: one from Allsworth's, at Dunmore, led to Fellows' Corners; while the other crossed the swamp, along what is now Wyoming Avenue, on fallen logs, and found its way by Griffin's Corners to the acknowledged political center of the valley--Razorville village. Upper and Lower Providence, Abington, Blakeley, Greenfield, Scott and Drinker's Beech, offering choice wild lands to all seeking a competency by a life of frugal industry, became the home of men whose hardihood, hospitality, and staunch virtues, carried cultivation and thrift into the borders of the forest, while Slocum Hollow, strangely intermingled with rock and morass, offered little to the husbandman, and nothing to the newcomer.
An effort was made in 1817 to improve the navigation of the Lackawanna, and a company incorporated at the time for this purpose; nothing more was done. In 1819,the late Henry W. Drinker--than whom no man surpassed in readiness to aid the needy pioneer or develop the resources of the country--explored the mountains and valleys from the Susquehanna at Pittston to the Delaware Water Gap, with a view of connecting the two
points by a railroad to operated over the Lehigh Mountain by hydraulic power achieved from the waters of Tobyhanna and the Lehigh.
While the Slocum Hollow settlement, being on the line of the proposed road, was expected to acquire some increased activity mutually advantageous, the interests of Drinker's Beech, watched carefully by Mr. Drinker, were more especially aimed at by the projectors of the road. A charter was granted in March, 1826; simultaneously a charter was obtained by Wm. Meredith, for a railroad to run up the Lackawanna to the State line from Providence village. Both were projected upon the plan of inclined planes.
The four pioneers obtaining railroad charters in the Lackawanna Valley were Wm. and Maurice Wurts, Henry W. Drinker, and Wm. Meredith. The first two gentlemen banded the mountain's brow with the flat rail; the last, owing to needless antipathies which aroused every impulse of selfishness, and embittered even the calm hour of triumph with its remembrance, were not able to infuse into charters easily obtained, advantage to themselves or to the places they sought to enrich and develop. These men were powerful in the day of the first railroads; polished, opulent, and educated, and had there been united an harmonious action among them, the valley would hardly have been so reluctant in yielding the wherewithal to gladden the firesides of the land. Drinker, averse to a strife fatal to his cherished projects, shared none of the prejudices against the men who had rendered practicable an eastern outlet from the valley.
The North Branch Canal, fed by the idle waters of the Lackawanna, was begun in Pittston in 1828 by the State, and looked to as the great commercial avenue to the sea. The citizens of old Providence Township, restrained by the mountain's wall from all hope of public intercourse with Philadelphia or New York by a continuous railroad, withal too modest to expect a canal at the expense of the
State, asked the Legislature, having but a negative representation from the valley, to build "the feeder of this canal, or some other improvement up the valley as far as would be thought of service to our citizens and the Commonwealth."
This scheme naturally excited the public mind, because its prosecution under any circumstances would reach out benefits to every husbandman jealous of his own rights, yet taught by invidious men to distrust the power of "incorporated companies." (see footnote)
The coal-clad slopes enjoyed repose. The cesarean drill had not yet fallen into the strong arms of the skillful miner. Up in the Carbondale glen, under the shelter of a ledge of rocks forming the western bank of the Lackawanna, a few hundred tons of surface coal had been mined by the Wurts brothers as an experimental measure. The operations of these weather-beaten, persecuted, yet hopeful men, were not recognized by the inhabitants of the lower townships as of any practical utility to any one but the miners themselves. Wood was abundant, and every hill-side offered fuel to the woodman who chose to gather it without cost. Coal had neither domestic value nor sale at home; no market abroad. A brighter aspect at length struggled its way into the valley, and the solitude of Slocum Hollow was gone.
"About 1836", says Mr. Joseph J. Albright, in a note to the writer, "at the suggestion of Geo. M. Hollenback I made the trip to Slocum Hollow for the purpose of examining the iron ore, coal, &c., with a view of purchasing from Alva Heermans the property (now Scranton) for $10 per acre. I took a box of the iron ore on top of a stage to Northampton County, where I was engaged in the manufacture of iron, and I contend that I shook the first tree, if I failed to gather its fruit. I believe the box of ore thus transported was the means of attracting
(footnote: See "Wilkes Barre Advocate", December 9, 1838.)
(Engraved portrait of William Henry with signature)
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the attention of Messrs. Henry, Scranton, &c., to this tract. These facts are known and recognized by S. T. Scranton; had I been successful in persuading Dr. Philip Walter and others to join me in its purchase, I might have gathered ample reward."
Drinker's route for a railroad from the Delaware to the Susquehanna, surveyed in 1831 by Maj. Beach, awakened neither interest nor inquiry among the yeomanry having scarcely means to meet the yearly taxes or support families generally large and needy, and yet, strange as it may appear, the initial impulse toward a village at Slocum Hollow came from the friends of this project. William Henry, (see footnote) one of the original commissioners named in the charter, was especially enthusiastic and active in his efforts to build up a town at this point for the purpose of advancing the interests of this unattractive project. His knowledge of the country was too thorough and general
(Footnote: A tradition in the "Henry" family exists, where the Indian character appears in a more amiable light than that exhibited on the Western plains. "My grandfather", writes William Henry in a note to the author, "William Henry, late of Lancaster, Pa., in 1755 was an officer serving under General Washington, at General Braddock's defeat near Fort Pitt; he there saw a well-made, athletic Indian in jeopardy of his life, and by extraordinary effort and means, saved him; in the recognition, names were exchanged, and a friendship established; parting soon after they never met afterward and nothing was known of the Indian until the commencement of the Revolution in 1774, when the rescued man called and made the acquaintance of my father, at Christian Spring, Northampton County as the Chief Killbuck, whose life, he stated, was saved by Maj. Henry, relating all the incidents attending the disastrous battle-field, remarking that while ordinarily he did not expect to live many more years, but that 'Indian never forgets', his own people and family would know how to pay a debt of gratitude.
"In the year 1794 my father and other gentlemen were commissioned by the U.S. Government to locate a quantity of lands donated to the 'Society for propagating the Gospel among the Heathen' in what then was Indian country and a wilderness; fortunately there resided the descendants of Chief Killbuck. The surveying party not knowing this, however, were the grateful recipients of bear's meat, venison, and other game, through the instrumentality of the Chief "White Eye', who subsequently made himself known as the leading successor of the Sachem Killbuck and his gratitude toward the son, whose father saved the life of his chief; about three months were occupied in the woods on the banks of the Muskingum in safety. A fuller detail and historical account, agreeing in every particular with the above, was given by the Indian family, now in Kansas, to Col. Alexander, late the editor of a paper in Pittston, then resident in Kansas; by them a friendly message from them was received in remembrance of their and our fathers; conclusively to show that an 'Indian does not forget.'
"The appellation of 'Henry' is at this day the middle name of every member of the family, to wit:--
Moses Henry Killbuck
Joseph " "
William " "
Josephine " "
Sarah " "
John " "
Rachel " "
"These are well-known persons in the West to the 'Moravian Missionaries.'")
to be without its stimulating influence, and yet this acquaintance of the mineralogical character of the western terminus of the route only enabled him to give decided expression to views neither adopted nor accepted by his friends.
Messrs. Drinker and Henry, undismayed by the cold, solemn avowal of the inhabitants occupying the valleys of the Delaware and the Susquehanna, that no such road was possible or necessary to their social condition, taking advantage of the speculative wave of 1836, called the friends of the road to Easton at this time to devise a practical plan of action. Repeated exertions in this direction had hitherto yielded a measure of ridicule not calculated to inspire great hopes of success. At this meeting, prolonged for days, Mr. Henry assured the members of the board that if the old furnace of Slocum's at the Hollow could be reanimated and sustained a few years, a village would spring up between the unguarded passes of the Moosic, calling for means of communication with the seaboard less inhospitable and tardy than the loitering stage-coach. This novel plan to achieve success for the road, although urged with ability and candor, met the approval of but a single man. This was Edward Armstrong, a gentleman of great benevolence and courtesy, living on the Hudson. In the acquisition of land in the Lackawanna Valley, or the erection of furnaces and forges upon it, he avowed himself ready to share with Mr. Henry any
responsibility, profit, or risk. During the spring and summer of 1839, Mr. Henry examined every rod of ground along the river from Pittston to Cobb's Gap to ascertain the most judicious location for the works.
Under the wall of rock, cut in twain by the dash of the Nay-aug, a quarter of a mile above its mouth, favoring by its altitude, the erection and feeding of a stack, a place was well chosen. It was but a few rods above the debris of Slocum's forge, and like that earlier affair enjoyed within a stone's throw every essential material for its construction and working.
After the decease of Mr. Slocum, the forge grounds changing hands repeatedly for a mere nominal consideration, had fallen into possession of William Merrifield, Zeno Albro, and William Ricketson of Hyde Park, and had relapsed into common pasturage. Mr. J. J. Albright was offered 500 acres of the Scranton lands for $5,000 upon a long credit in 1836; for such land that figure was considered too high at the time.
In March, 1840, Messrs. Henry and Armstrong purchased 503 acres for $8,000, or about $16 per acre. The fairest farm in the valley, under-veined with coal, had no opportunity of refusing the same surprising equivalent. Mr. Henry gave a draft at thirty days on Mr. Armstrong, in whom the title was to vest; before its maturity, death came to Mr. Armstrong, almost unawares. He had imbued the enterprise, by his manly co-operation, with no vague friendship or faith, and his death, at this time, was regarded as especially disastrous to the interests of Slocum Hollow. His administrators, looking to nothing but a quick settlement of the estate, requested him to forfeit the contract without question or hesitancy. Thus baffled in a quarter little anticipated, Mr. Henry asked and obtained thirty days' grace upon the non-accepted draft, hoping in the interim to find another shrewd capitalist able to advance the purchase-money and willing to share in the affairs of the contemplated furnace. The late
lamented Colonel Geo. W. Scranton and Selden T. Scranton, both of New Jersey, interested by the earnest and enthusiastic representations of Mr. Henry regarding the vast and varied resources of the Lackawanna Valley, of which no knowledge had reached them before, proposed to add Mr. Sanford Grant, of Belvidere, to a party, and visit Slocum Hollow.
The journey from Belvidere to the present site of Scranton took one day and a half hard driving, and was well calculated to test the self-reliance and vigor of the inexperienced mountaineer. The Drinker Turnpike, stretching its weary length over Pocono Mountain and morass, enlivened here and there by the arrowy trout-brook or the start of the fawn, brought the party on the 19th of August, 1840, to the half-opened thicket growing over the tract where now Mr. Archbald's residence is seen. Securing their horses under the shade of a tree, the party, amazed at the simple wildness of a country where green acres were looked for in vain, moved down the bank of Roaring Brook to a body of coal whose black edge showed the fury of the stream when sudden rains or thaws raised its waters along the narrow channel. None of the party except Mr. Henry had ever seen a coal-bed before. Assisted by a pick, used and concealed by him weeks before, pieces of coal and iron ore were exhumed for the inspection of the party about to turn the minerals, sparkling amid the shrubs and wild flowers, to some more practical account. The obvious advantages of location, uniting water-power with prospective wealth, were examined for half a day without seeing or being seen by a single person.
The village of Slocum Hollow, in 1840, yielded the palm to the surrounding ones. The Slocum house and its humble barn, three small wooden houses, and one stone dwelling, outliving the days of the forge, stood above its debris; a grist-mill, owned by Barton Mott, a seven-by-nine
school-house squatting on the ledge, and a clattering saw-mill, made up the village twenty-nine years ago.
The exterior features of the Slocum property were any thing but attractive, yet, after some question and hesitancy, it was purchased at the price already stipulated. Lackawanna valley achieved its thrift and fame from this comparatively trifling purchase of but yesterday, and Scranton dates its incipient inspirations toward acquiring for itself a place and a name from August, 1840.
The company, consisting of Colonel George W. and Selden T. Scranton, Sanford Grant, William Henry, and Philip H. Mattes, organizing under the firm of Scrantons, Grant & Co., began forthwith the construction of a furnace, under the superintendency of Mr. Henry, whose family immediately removed from Stroudsburg to Hyde Park.
None of the older portion of the community can forget the thriftless appearance of the four villages in Providence Township, exhibiting no reluctant spirit of rivalry. Hyde Park contained but a single store, where the post-office found ample quarters in a single pigeon hole; a small Christian meeting-house standing by the road-side, and six or eight scattered dwellings along the single roadway; neither physician, lawyer, nor miner, and but a single minister, without a church of his own, resided within its precincts. Providence, known far and wide by the sobriquet of Razorville, acknowledged as the seat of government for the county, had a dozen houses, two stores and a post-office, a grist-mill and a bridge, an ax factory, three doctors, no minister, and it did a snug business in the way of horse-racing on Sunday, and miscellaneous traffic with the round-about country during the week. Dunmore was the equal of Slocum Hollow in the number of its dilapidated tenements, sheltering as many families. Such were the towns that gave a negative welcome to the innovations of the unknown "Jerseyites", as they were termed, in
half derision, by people hearing of their search and purchase around Capoose.
New men naturally introduced new names. When the white man first strayed into the valley, no other name than Capoose--an Indian signification of endearment--was heard until the connection of the Slocums with the rough hollow, in 1798, opening land and trade, fixed the appellation of Slocum Hollow. the memorable days of "hard cider" substituted the name of Harrison for that of Slocum Hollow. The Scrantons, not without ambition to popularize a name never dishonored, assented to the exchange of Harrison for Scrantonia. With the growth and triumphs of the iron-works, the brief vowels ia were erased, leaving plain Scranton in possession of the field. This name thus serves to perpetuate the memories of the founders of the town, but would not the aboriginal Capoose or the Indian names for their streams, Nay-aug or Lar-har-har-nar, have been more musical and appropriate?
The first day's work on the Harrison furnace was done September 11, 1840, by Mr. Simeon Ward. During the fall and winter months satisfactory progress attended it. A small wooden building afterward enlarged for "Kresler's Hotel", was erected by W. W. Manness, who is yet in the employ of the company, and jointly occupied as an office, store, and dwelling. It was afterward torn down to make room for the blast-furnace engine-house. As the spring of 1841 opened, tenant-houses went up, and work went forward without cessation or abatement. Mr. Grant became a resident of Harrison, with his family, and for many years, when the tide was low, conducted the management of the store with such urbanity and studied regard for the interests of all, that he acquired consideration and popularity among the yeomanry of the country.
The interests of P. H. Mattes were represented by his son, Charles F. Mattes, who, from the time the furnace was put in successful blast, has been efficiently engaged at the head of one of the more important departments.
The liberal doctrines of Methodism, itinerated and diffused in the valley as early as 1786, were rarely practiced, and had but a feeble recognition in any way until 1793. "At this time", writes the venerable Rev. Dr. Peck, "William Colbert, a pioneer preacher, visited Capouse, and preached to a few people at Brother Howe's, and lodged at Joseph Waller's. Howe lived in Slocum Hollow, and Waller on the main road in or near what is now Hyde Park. In 1798 Daniel Taylor's, below Hyde Park, was a preaching place. For years subsequently the preaching was at Preserved Taylor's, who lived on the hill-side in Hyde Park, near the old Tripp place. When Mr. Taylor removed, the preaching was taken to Razorville, now Providence, and the preachers were entertained by Elisha Potter, Esq., whose wife was a very exemplary member of the church. Up to this period, preaching was held in private houses." School-houses, moderate in capacity, served for religious purposes until June, 1841, when a subscription was raised for the purpose of building a "meeting-house" at some suitable place within reach of missionaries and laymen. The great bulk of the subscription coming from Harrison Iron Works, governed the location of the church, which was built in 1842, and jointly and harmoniously used as a place of worship by Methodists and Presbyterians until the latter erected a place of their own. The Methodists have enjoyed the pastoral labors of A. H. Schoonmaker, Rev. Dr. Peck, B. W. Goram, G. C. Bancroft, J. V. Newell, J. A. Wood, N. W. Everett, and Byron D. Sturdevant.
The Presbyterians, now representing so much of the intelligence and wealth of the Scranton community, had no definite organization in Scranton until February, 1842. In 1827 missionaries were employed to preach at Slocum Hollow and Razorville twelve times a year, generally in school-houses and barns, and sometimes under the shelter of a friendly tree. Rev. Cyrus Gildersleeve, John Dorrance, and the bold, blunt Thomas P. Hunt, were
thus employed alternately. The success attending the Methodists in building their church by subscription, animated the fewer Presbyterians to a similar effort in the same direction. The pressure of poverty among the farmers of the valley, combined with the weak condition of this denomination, having but four members at Harrison, influenced the committee appointed in 1844 to select a site for a church, to decide upon Lackawanna, three miles below Harrison, as the place best calculated to favor the majority of the Presbyterians. The church, built in 1846, was owned in common by the members at Lackawanna and Harrison. This latter place was a mere subordinate preaching point, and yet cared for so well by the young gifted Rev. N.G. Parks, that in 1848 the Scranton portion of this organic body, acquiring influence and independence with the development of the village, sought a peaceful separation, and at once asserted its strength by the erection of an imposing church, costing $30,000, capable of seating 800 persons. Since Mr. Park, the Rev. J. D. Mitchell, John F. Baker, and the Rev. M. J. Hickok, have all creditably officiated within its walls. Mr. Hickok, whose purity of mind and blameless life endeared him to all, was hopelessly stricken with paralysis in the fall of 1867, thus leaving the church without an active pastor.
The spiritual wants of the Catholics in Scranton were first looked after by the Rev. P. Pendergrast in 1846. A small room in a private dwelling served for a gathering place until 1848, when a church, 25 by 35, was constructed. The constant accession of numbers rendered a larger place of worship necessary in 1853-4, under the attention of the Rev. Father Moses Whittey. The erection of a Catholic church in Providence and another in Dunmore, drew somewhat from a congregation yet so numerically strong in Scranton, that Father Whittey, well known for his calm deportment yet zealous devotion to the interests of his church, looking to the future want and welfare of
his flock, began in 1864 to build a cathedral, at an estimated cost of $100,000. The edifice is built in the Grecian style of architecture, 68 by 158 feet, and will seat 2,300 persons. Few individuals in the valley could have turned so powerful an influence to the greater advantage of Scranton than has Father Whittey done in the erection of this edifice.
The first Baptist church here was built under hopeful auspices in 1859; in 1863, the Rev. Isaac Bevan, acting in concert with those fostering the project, increased his claim to public gratitude by the erection of a brick sanctuary, 50 by 80, at a cost of $40,000. The church numbers about 200 communicants.
St. Luke's Episcopal Church dates back only to 1852. Within the next eighteen months, a frame church and parsonage were finished and completed at a cost of about $4,000. St. Luke's is now so comparatively wealthy and popular in Scranton, that a new stone church is being erected for a Parish, at a cost of $150,000. This ecclesiastical body, eschewing politics and religious ultraism, has, under the ministerial administration of Rev. John Long, W. C. Robinson, and the Rev. A. A. Marple, the indefatigable, gentlemanly pastor, grown into public favor in an especial manner since its original existence here.
The German Presbyterian Church of Scranton was dedicated in 1859; the Evangelical Lutheran Zion Church, organized in 1860, purchased the First Welsh Baptist Church of Scranton in 1863.
The Liberal Christian Society have a respectable organization without enjoying a place of worship of their own.
The German Catholics, looked after by their worthy pastor, Rev. P. Nagel, built them a neat edifice in 1866, at a cost of $11,000.
The above-named churches, enumerating only those embraced within the old village proper of Scranton, are named in the order of their development.
The fact is indeed creditable to the Lackawanna Iron and Coal Company, that a great portion of the land occupied by these respective places of worship, was generously donated by them for this specific object.
In the Slocum furnace of 1800, nothing but charcoal was used for smelting purposes. Experiments, attended with failure and sometimes with derision, were made in Pennsylvania between 1837-9, toward the substitution of anthracite coal as a melting menstruum in the manufacture of iron, for the more expensive and perishable charcoal. The Iron Works upon the Lehigh inaugurated the change; the Danville artisans were the next to enlarge the province of stone coal. This long-delayed triumph of coal, wonderful in the grandeur of its results everywhere, governed the design of the new furnace at Harrison. It was contemplated from the first to use the ball ore found adjacent to one of the veins of coal running through the whole coal region; a brief trial proved it too expensive to mine. Upon the southeastern slope of the Moosic, about three miles from Harrison, a large body of iron ore was discovered in the spring of 1841, which with the intervening acres of land was purchased, and a railroad stretched from the mine to the furnace.
The erection of miners' houses, the increased cost of the iron-works awaiting blast, the unforeseen yet unavoidable outlay for lands and railroad unprovided for in the original estimate, exhausted the capital, and left from the very outset an embarrassing debt. Under such auspices, little calculated to encourage the enterprise, came Col. George W. Scranton into Scranton, as a resident, in the fall of 1841. A man of ardent faith, affable and persuasive address, full of honor and probity, whom no difficulties could discourage, no honors cause him to forget the good of the poor man, he was eminently fitted to aid Mr. Henry in the superintendence and experimental inauguration of the iron-works.
The first effort to start the furnace, owing to various
causes incident to a new, wet, defective stack, appalled the projectors with failure. Wood, charcoal, and even salt and brimstone, employed as auxiliaries to intensify the heat, brought no fulfillment of hopes or prospect of victory. A second effort led to the same result. The furnace was altered. The hot-air ovens were multiplied and enlarged, the machinery changed, and the practical knowledge and services of Mr. John F. Davis secured. On the 18th of January, 1842, the furnace was blown in, amid mutual applause and congratulation. About two and a quarter tons of pig-iron per day was made the first month.
The early trials and failures at the furnace, occupying three months of constant struggle, awakened an interest among the better class of people of the valley and elsewhere, honorable alike to their intelligence and humanity. Many, willing to check any and every advancement toward general prosperity, boldly pronounced "the thing a Jersey humbug!" as they prayed and predicted it would be. Even such skepticism, when the molten stream of iron issued from the furnace into bars, exciting astonishment and pride, vanished into silence; the people acquiesced in the good feeling of the proprietors, whose recompense thus far had been only hope deferred.
In the spring of 1843, additional fire-ovens, with other improvements, were added to augment its capacity, which thus far had yielded iron superior in quality, but deficient in quantity. Iron, when manufactured, found no market to any extent short of the distant sea-board, reached only by two roundabout routes, viz.: the Delaware and Hudson Canal, and the North Branch and Tide Water Canal, to Havre-de-Grace. In either case, the iron must be transported upon heavy wagons from Harrison, fifteen miles to Carbondale, then the terminus of the railroad leading to Honesdale, or to Port Barnum on the Susquehanna.
The first year's product was shipped by the latter route to New York and Boston, at a time when great commercial
embarrassment pervaded the country, and threatened the annihilation of manufacturing interests in every section. Since the commencement of the forge, September 20, 1840, iron had fallen in value over forty per cent. Its demand and price continued to decline. More than this, Lackawanna Valley iron had neither name nor character in either of theses places to carry itself into public estimation. Thus were men whose fortunes were pledged to foster and sustain a great development, greeted in advance by restrictions especially baleful and adverse to their success. Meantime, financial obstacles in Harrison increased. The credit system was popular in the valley. It attenuated its dubious length as an equalizing medium among the inhabitants unwilling to accord it to the company.
The darkest period in the history of the partnership was seen in 1842-3. In a remunerating sense, the iron speculation had proved a failure, and left the treasury worse than empty. Without character, money, or credit, its affairs began to look hopeless. Their notes given to individuals in lieu of money, were daily offered to farmers at forty per cent. discount in the uncurrent tender of Pennsylvania currency. Every petty claim of indebtedness was urged and pressed before the justices of the township with an earnestness really annoying.
It was at this time that the existence of the company was preserved and prolonged by a timely loan made them by Joseph H. and E. C. Scranton, (see footnote) then of Augusta, Georgia.
The persons once expecting but a negative advantage themselves, expressed regret at their expected arrest and destruction; others looked calmly and coldly on the severe, unabated energy with which the Scrantons, forgetting every other consideration, fought for their bare integrity and financial preservation. Their failure at this especial time would have been of double signification and
(Footnote: Killed by the cars, Dec., 29, 1866, at Norwalk, Ct.)
injury, while the young, giant valley, far up among the hills, would have resumed the natural simplicity of its former character.
As the company faltered under the pressure of distrust, and danger menacing it from every side, Col. Scranton never exhibited the elastic and buoyant disposition ever characterizing the man, with such admirable advantage as now. He proposed to enhance the value of their iron 25 per cent., by converting it into nails and bars, by the aid of a Rolling Mill and Nail Factory, to be built on the brook below Nay-aug Falls. To accomplish this great project, Selden T. Scranton was sent to New York to negotiate for funds, if possible. This he successfully did. He thus obtained $20,000. The Rolling Mill and Nail Factory begun in 1843, was completed in 1844. The erection of these works with New York capital has indirectly led to an investment in coal lands in the Lackawanna basin, from the same quarter, of some one hundred and fifty millions.
The plan of the village of Harrison, laid out on a diminutive scale in 1841, by Captain Stott, a superior draughtsman of Carbondale, gave such brisk signs of life that the neighboring villages of Hyde Park, Providence, and Dunmore, feared that its continued growth might, at some future period, equal or possibly surpass their own!
It yet had no post-office. Hyde Park and Providence, a mile or two away, afforded the nearest mail facilities. Dr. Throop, then residing in the latter village, a warm, influential friend of the Scrantons and the improvements they were striving to inaugurate, attempted to get one established at this point. The Department at Washington, influenced by the known fact that a post-office had been suspended here a few years previous for the want of support, naturally gave the matter an unfavorable consideration.
Nor had the village a single minister, lawyer, or physician, within its boundaries. Dr. Gideon Underwood,
now of Pittston, began professional life in Harrison in 1845; he abandoned the place after a few months, for the reason that it was "too small to support a doctor." The late Dr. Robinson was his only competitor in the township of Providence, where no less than fifty physicians manage to keep soul and body together, and yet the entire practice failed to sustain a gentleman every way worthy of trust. Dr. Pier opened an office in the village in 1848; Dr. John B. Sherrerd in 1849. Drs. Throop and Sherrerd started the first drug-store in the town, which, after the death of Dr. Sherrerd, the next year, passed into the hands of L. S. & E. C. Fuller, two gentlemen who have, through a long series of years, obtained a comparative competency by their diligence and attention to business.
In the spring of 1844, Selden T. Scranton, who, like all the Scrantons already mentioned, originally came from East Guilford, now Madison, New Haven County, Conn., removed from Oxford Furnace, New Jersey, settled in Harrison, exchanging positions with his brother, George. He was one of the men who shared in the acquisition of the Roaring Brook lands, four years previous to this, and who, by no idle stroke of fortune, succeeded in connecting his name with its remotest future. Gaining some knowledge of the mineral resources of the valley of the Lackawanna from his father-in-law, William Henry, he readily joined in the hazard of their successful development; and, by the happy exercise of a talent adapted admirably to win friendship or insure success, he contributed to sow the seeds, of which the fruits were to appear in less than a lifetime. Selden was uniform in his advocacy of all pertaining to the welfare of the valley, and yet so honorable and consistent were his efforts in this direction, that it can be said of him, as of few men, he never made an enemy or lost a friend. The celebrated Oxford Furnace is now managed and principally owned by him.
(Engraved portrait of S. T. Scranton with signature)
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Under a new direction of mechanical industry, instituted at the Lackawanna Iron Works by its founders, the final struggle, which was life or death in a commercial sense to the inhabitants of the township of Providence, began to give way for actual remuneration. The Trail was first manufactured in the United States in 1845. Railroads, everywhere shod with the thin, flat rail, called for the Trail, the first of which was made in Harrison for the New York and Erie Railroad in 1847. This pioneer road through southern New York was then in operation no farther than Goshen. English iron, costing the Erie Company $80 per ton, had thus far been laid.
The presence of every variety of material cheaply attained, led the Scrantons to believe that as good, if not superior, Trail could be furnished by them, especially upon the Delaware and Susquehanna divisions, at a lower figure than the English iron-masters across the water had hitherto afforded.
Joseph H. Scranton, a man whose active mind for nearly a quarter of a century has been employed in guiding the iron enterprise which this company have developed, purchased the interests of Mr. Grant in 1846. Mr. Platt, who subsequently became a partner, filled the position vacated by Mr. Grant, and through the successive changes of firms, the expansion and enlargement of business, he has held the same satisfactory and creditable relation to the place he has filled so long.
The year of 1846 was auspicious in the history of Harrison. Col. Scranton returned, and aided by Joseph and Selden, negotiated a contract with the Erie Railroad Company for 12,000 tons of iron-rail, to weigh 58 pounds to the yard; to be made and delivered at the mouth of the Lackawaxen, in Pike County, during the years of 1847-8. This arrangement was mutually advantageous to both parties. It was of vital significance to that great road, now stretching its fibers from the lake to the sea. At the opening of the northern division of the Delaware,
Lackawanna, and Western Railroad, Mr. Loder, then President of the Erie Company, stated in a public speech that nothing but the prompt fulfillment of this contract averted bankruptcy to the road, by enabling them within the specified time to open it to Binghamton. To the Scranton Company it evoked life-long results. The men whose common interests and joint sacrifices and struggles had bound them together in the unity of brotherhood, felt the invigorating and fervid influence of this great sale of iron, which gave to the valley a prospect and prominence it never had enjoyed before.
Mills and machinery of a corresponding character, with the wherewithal to erect them, were thus necessitated by compliance of the contract.
Several gentlemen, wealthy and warm friends of the Erie road, promptly came forward, and on the simple obligations of the Scrantons alone, with no security, but faith in their integrity, loaned them $100,000 to construct the requisite iron-works. Extraordinary activity was now displayed in Harrison, in every department of business, the active management of which passed into the hands of Joseph H. Scranton, who came here to reside in 1847.
Up until now the means of transportation to market of the now largely increased annual product of iron, remained as difficult as at the commencement, with the exception of the extension of the Delaware and Hudson Canal company's railroad from Carbondale to Archbald, which reduced the hauling by teams to nine miles; the iron ore was carted three miles and a half from the mines; the limestone and extra pig-iron needed by the mill, purchased at Danville, drawn from the canal at Pittston, and the railroad iron, now the principal product of the works, was drawn to Archbald upon heavy wagons, requiring the use of over four hundred horses and mules. Even this large force, gathered from the farmers of Blakeley, Providence, and Lackawanna, sometimes at the expense
(Engraved portrait of Joseph H. Scranton with signature)
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of agricultural interests, was able to move the first rail iron only with provoking tardiness.
Two large blast-furnaces were now in the course of construction, as well as a railroad to the ore mines on the mountain. This road was so graded that the empty cars could be drawn to the mines by mules, and when loaded with ore, return to the furnace by gravity power alone, over five miles and a half of this circuitous road.
On the south side of roaring Brook, some three hundred houses had been built for the workmen; upon the other, now the business part of Scranton, but a single dwelling, aside from the few owned and occupied by the company, stood. This had been erected by Dr. Throop for his brother. With the constant influx of new-comers, the doctor, who was recognized pre-eminently throughout the country as the doctor, removed from Providence to Harrison in 1847. On the old mill road leading from Slocum Hollow to Razorville, amidst the tranquil woodlands, he built his modest cottage. He lived here many years, with his family, with no house in sight of his own, surrounded by the low murmuring pines, where, after the professional drives of the day, he enjoyed the cheerful fireside and smoked his pipe in quiet, with no sound to disturb him, save the grate bo-loonk-blonk of the denizens of the adjacent swamp, tuning up their minstrelsy at each successive nightfall. The cottage, remodified and absorbed into business quarters, is yet seen in sound condition, near the Presbyterian church.
The Lackawanna Iron Company, organized under the general partnership law, consisted of George W. Scranton, Selden T. Scranton, Joseph H. Scranton, and J. C. Platt as the general partners, and several New York gentlemen as special ones. Edward C. Lynde and Edward P. Kingsbury, two gentlemen eminently qualified for any station, fill the respective positions of secretary and assistant treasurer.
To carry through the programme of manufacturing and
delivering to the New York and Erie Railroad Company this quantity of iron, with the limited capital at command, required extraordinary exertion and energy. Extra work, additional machinery, and various expensive materials, augmented the necessity of more money and labor. Large iron contrivances which were essential to the works were drawn, by the jaded horse or stubborn mule, sixty or seventy miles over the rough, hilly roads for which upper Pennsylvania was formerly distinguished. Teams consisting of eight mules were used for this service with such vexatious experience, that willing and reliable drivers were rarely found or retained. When such were apparently secured, the company found it necessary to contract with the keepers of the small taverns along the road from Stroudsburg to the Hollow, to furnish meals for their drivers and feed for their teams, and forward bills each month to the office for payment. It was especially provided that no liquor should, under any condition or circumstance, be furnished the drivers. Yet bills properly attested for "sixteen glasses of leming ayde (lemonade), at six-pence a glass, and one pint of whisky", came from places where a lemon had never been heard of before or since.
The business of the company, so comprehensive in its character, so beneficial in its influence, made many a valley fireside exult with hopes and smiles. To witness a town spring from a pasture lot with such rapidity into a maze of founderies, furnaces, manufacturing works, and dwellings full of bright expectations, caused astonishment and pride among the inhabitants, unused to such rapid advancement. The rise in real estate along the Lackawanna Valley, as well as Wyoming, since the organization of this company, was at least one hundred per cent., while the relations of the Scrantons with the public were harmonious, and characterized throughout by general good feeling. It is true, there were then as there are yet, and ever will be, a class of croakers who gathered
(Engraved portrait of Benj. H. Throop with signature)
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in bar-room groups and gravely predicted that "the Scrantons must fail."
On the western side of the Lackawanna a line of four-horse stages ran up from Wilkes Barre to Carbondale, connecting at each place with a similar line via Milford and Morristown to New York, and via Easton to Philadelphia, and furnished the only mode of conveyance to or from the Lackawanna, and brought New York daily papers to Providence and Hyde Park in the forenoon of the third day after their publication.
The mills were completed; as they molded the hills into iron fiber awaiting no longer a market, the Lackawanna Iron Works stepped into the front ranks and established their character beyond cavil or peradventure. The first fifteen hundred tons of railroad iron was delivered at the mouth of the Lackawaxen. Here it was taken by canal to Port Jervis, and laid on the road between that place and Otisville. After that portion of the Erie road was opened to the public, the company, delayed by injunctions urged on by the cupidity of Philadelphians and the New York Central interests, in crossing the river into Pennsylvania at the Glass House rocks, finding their utter inability to open the road to Binghamton by the time specified without the delivery of the balance of the iron at different points along the route by the Scranton Company, arranged such terms of delivery, in pursuance of which the Scranton Company carted by teams some seven thousand tons of rail, which they delivered at Narrowsburgh, Cochecton, Equinunk, Stockport, Summit, and Lanesboro, an average distance of about fifty miles, thus enabling the company to lay the track almost simultaneously at all points along the Delaware division as fast as the grading was ready, and open the road for one hundred and thirty miles four days ahead of the appointed time. The difficulty of carting so large an amount of iron within so brief a period, can be inferred only by those
familiar with the ruggedness of the mountain roads intervening.
A post-office, named Scrantonia, was established in Harrison in 1848, and John W. Moore appointed post-master. The name of Harrison was dropped for that of Scrantonia. The same year the old names of Capoose and Slocum Hollow were disowned and forgotten by newcomers; the accidental and transient ones, Lackawanna Iron Works, Harrison, Scrantonia, were folded up laid away forever for the briefer name of Scranton.
The rapid expansion and concentration of business at this point, as well as the absence of all necessary communications with the sea-board and the lakes, rendered an outlet east or west most apparent and desirable. The project of connecting the valley by railroad with the New York and Erie road, in a northerly direction, was frequently discussed by the general partners; in fact, it was the sanguine expectations of a line of public improvement being extended both north and south at no distant day, that went far toward deciding the original proprietors in locating here.
With a view of bringing the subject of railroad facilities, and connections with the valley generally, before the minds of capitalists in a manner both advantageous and effective, Col. George W. Scranton was detailed from the active engagement of the affairs of the Iron Company in the summer of 1848.
Valuable coal lands had been secured as a reliable basis of such an enterprise; large delegations of New York and New England gentlemen were persuaded from time to time to visit the valley and examine the vast mineral resources apparent along its border, and witness the dark croppings of coal, the fertile farms and luxurious intervale, the abundant water-power for mills or manufacturing purposes, the splendid sites and the fine timber; all of which, the moment a railroad outlet appeared, would be trebled in value. By many, the valley was
considered too wild and remote, or too difficult of access, even for an exploring tour. Such never left the parental roof, and it was left for bolder hearts and stouter arms to plant and reap the harvest. An extra stage-coach, with its five miles an hour speed, now and then brought into the valley delegation after delegation from the East, which were hailed with friendly solicitude by the inhabitants. Often and always was the inquiry heard of that firm friend of the public interest, Sam Tripp, "When the Yorkers were coming?" All eyes, for a time, were directed toward the local movements of the Yorkers, and the hope of every honest citizen then as well as now was, that long life and prosperity would be the fortune of all who came.
Until 1847 no car had rolled nor had a single rail reached the remote Lackawanna, with the exception of those upon the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company's railroad from Carbondale to Honesdale. This road was a gravity one, worked by stationary steam-engines and horse-power, over the Moosic Mountain, and was built in 1826-8.
Drinker's route for a railroad from Pittston to Delaware Water Gap, surveyed in 1824, to develop which Scranton was originally planned, and ultimately reversed in relation and purpose, had yet no living functions given its indefinite existence. The line was run with a view of inclined planes operated by water, and perhaps a canal over the more level portion of the way.
Wurts Brothers, Meredith, and Drinker blazed the trees along the forest for their gravity roads through many a lonely nook shaded by woods; but the honor of conceiving and completing a locomotive road from Great Bend to the Delaware River, belongs to the late Col. George W. Scranton--the firm, fast friend of every industrial interest in the valley. Mountainous as were the general features of the intermediate country, formidable as appeared the idea of grading ranges offering stubborn resistance to such
invasions of the engineer, he advanced and urged forward his scheme until he was able to see and share its substantial achievements and advantages. Under the immediate direction of Col. Scranton, a preliminary survey was made of the proposed route, which was found to be quite as feasible as his own personal observations had let him to expect, and, as the idle charter of Leggett's Gap Railroad would answer every practical purpose, after slight modifications, it was purchased.
The public mind, understanding only the rough topography of the country, without a single village of a thousand inhabitants, was instructed into the benefits to flow from the construction of this rail highway to the upper border of the State. The subscription books were opened at Kresler's hotel, in Scranton, in 1847, by the commissioners, and the whole capital stock promptly subscribed, and ten per cent. paid in. While these flattering movements argued well for the common welfare of the valley, and country adjacent, men of means were so shy of the enterprise, that it was the work of two long years of ceaseless labor amidst every possible discouragement, before any real capital could be calculated upon The road was commenced in 1850, and pushed forward in the same spirit of earnest enthusiasm with which it was conceived. To overcome the objection that it would not pay as an investment, and reach and make a more northern market (for the first loads of coal taken hence, were given away in order to introduce the black stuff into general use), the Ithaca and Owego Railroad, one of the oldest roads in the country, was purchased by the Iron Company in 1849. This, like all railroads in the United States at this time, was laid with the flat or strap rail--a rail possessing neither strength nor safety, as one end of it sometimes becoming bent would dart up with lightning-like rapidity into the passing train, marking its progress with appalling slaughter.
A new company being now organized, called the Cayuga
and Susquehanna Railroad Company, for the purpose of building this road, Colonel Scranton was chosen President, who at once repaired to Ithaca and discharged the duties of the position with acknowledged prudence and success.
To carry out the original plan contemplated by the colonel, of connecting the iron-works with New York City by a locomotive road, a survey was made eastward in 1851-2, and the next year the present line, running parallel and sometimes embracing the Drinker route, adopted.
Thus far Scranton had but a single hotel. Mr. Kresler, popular as a landlord, could not in his abridged quarters meet the demands of the throng turning into the village. A large brick hotel, such as only courageous men could have planned in such a place, was erected in 1852, by the Iron Company, to which was applied the strange misnomer of Wyoming House. Mr. J. C. Burgess became the purchaser, and is the present owner. The next public house emerging from the forest, from which it derived its name--Forest House--was fitted up and kept by Joseph Godfrey, Esq. The St. Charles, Kock's, and the Lackawanna Valley House, appropriate in name, and a dozen others less familiar to the wayfarer, have anticipated the demand of the moving world until, to-day, Scranton can boast of the beauty, comfort, and healthfulness of its hotels, rarely equaled, and surpassed nowhere within the State.
The Iron Company reorganized in 1853, under a special charter, with a capital of $800,000 and Selden T. Scranton, now of Oxford Furnace, N.J., elected President, and Joseph H. Scranton, the present Manager and President, Superintendent.
After the Lackawanna and Western Railroad was consolidated with the Delaware and Cobb's Gap charter, under the name of the "Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad Company", work was commenced
vigorously on the southern division of this road. One the 21st of January, 1856, the first locomotive and train of cars passed over the Delaware.
Rapid as has been the sympathetic growth of half a dozen villages from Pittston to Carbondale, theirs has been a snail's pace compared to the sturdier growth of Scranton. In July, 1840 five small brown tenements composed the town of Slocum Hollow, where now the young city of Scranton, perpetuating the name of its founders as long as the Lackawanna shall flow by the dwellings of civilized man, enumerates a population, constantly increasing, of five-and-forty thousand.
The stranger who visits Scranton may not find as much wildness and sublimity around it as when, from the Pocono Range, his eye first catches a glimpse of the truly bold outlines of the Delaware Water Gap, he will, nevertheless, as he walks along the walls of Roaring Brook, and gazes on the massive piles of furnace stacks, pouring out, day after day, ponds of rude or finished iron, from the ponderous bar to the delicate bolt, and sees the smooth, yet resistless motion of the largest stationary engine on the American Continent, feel proud and pleased with the sights of industry and thrift everywhere around him.
To get and appreciate a bird's-eye view of the town and valley, let the tourist ascend the high bluff near the Baptist Church in Hyde Park, overlooking the city, where the charming panorama that unrolls itself before him, will compensate in the highest degree for the trouble of the visit. He will then look down into a region interesting for its scenery, its strata of coal, its beds of iron ore, and its Indian history. The first impression is one favorable toward this portion of the valley, as there appears on every side evidence of animation and thrift.
Yonder the noisy water (Roaring Brook) takes a white leap from one of the loveliest and loneliest nooks carved from the mountain, before it splashes on the busy wheel of the manufacturer, and after being used three or four
times in its passage through the city, mingles with the waters of the Lackawanna below. The huge, round, slate-roofed locomotive depot, filled with engines, at first strikes the eye, and reminds him of the Roman Coliseum; while the landscape, sprinkled with brown-colored depots, car-shops, and Vulcan-shops on every side; the chaste, imposing churches, the long white line of public and private architecture contrasting finely with the deep green of the surround trees, tastily left for shade; the trains of coal cars, serpentine and dark, emerging from the "Diamond Mines"; or skimming along the iron veins, down a grade of seventy feet to the mile, from the productive coal works at the "Notch", some two miles distant, on their passage to New York; the locomotives of the Lehigh and Susquehanna, the Lackawanna and Bloomsburg, of the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western, of the Delaware and Hudson Railroads, rushing into Scranton like some fleet devils, carrying on their back the whole moving world whether they will or not; the villages of Hyde Park, Providence, Dunmore, and Green Ride, arrayed in thrifty garb, far up and down the valley; the Lee-har-hanna, with its modest throat and richer shade drawn like a belt of silver along the picture; the neat farm-houses, here and there nestling in some lovely meadow, or half hid among the blossoms of orchards, with the background of the unshorn mountain, swelling upward from Wyoming or the Lackawanna region, all make up a sight as beautiful as the Jewish ruler of old once witnessed from old Mount Nebo. Nor is this all. As he looks into the bosom of "Capouse Meadow", his eye wanders over coal lands which, fifteen years before the completion of a railroad outlet north from the valley, could have been purchased for fifteen dollars per acre, and which now are worth $800 and $1000; and building-lots, which then no respectable man was willing to accept as a gratuity, now readily bring from one to five thousand dollars each.
The growth of Scranton has been marked by uniform decades.
In 1826, the Drinker Railroad wrought consternation among the pines of this secluded glen; in 1836 the same measure, combined with the North Branch Canal and new county schemes, again awakened hopes partially fulfilled. In 1846 sales of iron made by the Scranton Company, enabled them to defy threatened bankruptcy; in 1856, the first locomotive engine rolled from Scranton, just formed into a borough, to the Delaware River; in 1866, incorporated into a city; and in 1876, all the townships in northern and central Luzerne will probably take their places in the new county of Lackawanna, with the county seat at Scranton. In 1866, Scranton, Hyde Park, and Providence, were fashioned by the legislature of Pennsylvania into a city composed of twelve wards, with all the municipal rights and regulations necessary for its existence. E. S. M. Hill, Esq., was elected mayor.
The newspaper interests of Scranton, now so prominent a feature, had no place or foothold until fifteen years ago.
During the year 1845, a newspaper called the County Mirror was started in Providence (now the 1st and 2d Wards, Scranton), by the late Franklin B. Woodward. Harrison at this time had made so humble pretensions that but a single advertisement from the village found its way into this lively paper. In 1852, the Lackawanna Herald, a paper of more partisan bitterness than real ability, was issued in Scranton by Charles E. Lathrop. Three years later the Spirit of the Valley was published by Thomas J. Alleger and J. B. Adams for one year, when the two were consolidated under the name of the Herald of the Union, purchased and edited by the late Ezra B. Chase,--a gentleman of superior literary attainments. Declining health induced him soon after to sell out to Dr. A. Davis and J. B. Adams. In the spring of 1859, Dr. Davis purchased the interest of Mr. Adams,
transferring it to Dr. Silas M. Wheeler, and the paper was managed by these medical gentlemen with a degree of originality and spiciness rarely seen in a country newspaper. Dr. Davis at that time moved into Scranton, building the first house erected on Franklin Avenue, and now occupied by Dr. G. W. Masser. This paper finally subsided into the Scranton Register, owned and edited by Mayor E. S. M. Hill, until the summer of 1868.
Theodore Smith established the Scranton Republican in 1856, conducting it in a highly creditable manner for two years, when F. A. McCartney became the proprietor. After being owned by Thos. J. Alleger, and conducted fairly and honorably, it passed into the hands of F. A. Crandall, then again into those of F.A. Crandall & Co., the present energetic and spirited owners. The Scranton City Journal came forth from the hands of Messrs. Benedicts in 1867, and from the acknowledged industry and qualifications of these gentlemen, the new paper can hardly fail to thrive.
The Scranton Wochenblatt, a German paper, was started, with a large circulation, January 1865, by E. A. Ludwig. It is now edited and published by F. Wagner, and presents a neat appearance. The Democrat--a bold original, ultra-democratic paper--edited by J. B. Adams, has already secured the favorable consideration and good opinion of the people of the country.
The above named are and were all weekly publications.
One or two dailies and tri-weeklies have been born and buried within that period; some of them, especially the Morning Herald, a daily published in 1866 by J. B. Adams, evidenced considerable merit. None of them however, exhibited the substantial prosperity shown by the Scranton Daily Register, edited by E. S. M. Hill, Esq., and managed in its local department by J. B. Adams with a bluntness and severity of thought, which, however creditable it might have been to his abilities as a writer, offended the erring rather than corrected the errors of the
day. Messrs. Carl and Burtch, purchased the paper in 1868, converted it into an evening issue, and by its telegraphic features and the vigor of its young editors, without abating any of its democratic tendencies, it has already gained a place in the public heart.
In spite of the failures in every inland town and city in Pennsylvania to sustain a daily paper, with full telegraphic news, Messrs. Scranton and Crandall essayed forth the Scranton Daily Republican in November, 1867, as an experimental measure.
Its prosperity and success, at first jeopardized by a disastrous fire, is now fully assured in public opinion, and all concede to these gentlemen the credit of first offering to the people a daily country paper, with telegraphic news simultaneously enjoyed by the New York Associated Press. Its local department, managed by Mr. Chase, and its general editorials, somewhat ultra and positive in their character, bear evidence of vigorous thought.
Scranton abounds in industrial enterprises, which its remarkable growth have prompted and fostered.
FINCH & CO.'S SCRANTON CITY FOUNDERY AND MACHINE WORKS, situated on the Hyde Park side of the Lackawanna, was established, in 1856, by Mr. A. P. Finch. This establishment, representing high engineering attainment, is largely engaged in the manufacture of portable and stationary engines, mining machinery, circular saw-mills, turbine water-wheels, iron fronts, &c., &c.
MACLAREN'S BRASS FOUNDERY, deriving its name from its founder and owner, John Maclaren, is located in Scranton, near the depot of the Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad. Its establishment in 1866, to supply the demands of a wide section hitherto seeking New York or Philadelphia for the infinite variety of brass work needed in the interest of commerce, gave proof of sound judgment and a correct appreciation of the increasing wants of the Valley of the Lackawanna. This is one of the
(Engraved illustration of Scranton in 1860.)
most extensive brass founderies in the State, and while its success adds to the wealth and vigor of Scranton, the public are not indifferent to its general welfare.
THE CAPOUSE WORKS of Pulaski Carter, of Providence, known far and wide by the superior character of the edge tools issuing from them, as well as by the self-made man instituting on the low bank of the Lackawanna this pioneer mechanical enterprise; THE SASH AND BLIND MANUFACTORY of Messrs. Hand & Costen, of Providence; the PROVIDENCE STOVE MANUFACTORY of Henry O. Silkman; the SCRANTON STOVE AND MANUFACTURING COMPANY, of Scranton, and the various individual and associated operations and improvements within the city limits, establishes the reputation of Scranton as a manufacturing rather than a mining city.
The sketch of the history of Scranton can hardly be appropriately closed without a glance at the great iron works now in blast here, capable of smelting about seventy thousand tons of ore a year. The sizes of these blast furnaces may be inferred from the diameter of the boshes, which are 18, 18, 19, and 20 feet, with a height of fifty feet. Into these furnaces air is forced by four lever-beam engines of vast power. The steam cylinders are fifty-four inches in diameter, with ten feet stroke. The wind is forced by this apparatus into the furnaces, under an average pressure of eight pounds to the square inch. The huge fly-wheels which regulate the movements of this enormous apparatus weigh forty thousand pounds. In order to be prepared for any possible exigency, and have increased blowing power, the Iron Company have built appropriate apartments, and set up still another pair of engines upon the very ground where formerly stood, under one roof, the first office, store and dwelling of Messrs. Scranton and Grant, in Harrison, subsequently known as "Kresler's Hotel".
This pair of engines have cylinders 59 inches in diameter,
and blowing cylinders 90 inches. Each engine has two-fly-wheels, 28 feet in diameter, weighing seventy-five thousand pounds. By this power they are able to force air into the furnaces under a pressure of eight or nine pounds to the square inch, a great advantage, as it is found by experiments that in order for a furnace to yield the greatest product, it must not only have a certain amount of air, but that the air, to be most advantageous, must be introduced under heavy pressure, and at many places simultaneously, when it is more equally diffused through the stack. The aggregate productive capacity of the Scranton furnaces is about sixty thousand tons per annum.
A walk of five minutes brings one to the rolling-mills, which also stand on the north side of the Roaring Brook. Midway between the furnace and the mills, down the bank of the brook to the right, is seen a railroad track leading into a mine directly under our feet, into which a few blackened coal cars, drawn by mules, disappear in midnight. This vein of coal, at this point, which is used in all the iron works now, is the very one first seen by the exploring party, in 1840, led by Mr. Henry, and which, in connection with the adjacent iron deposits, decided the Scrantons and Mr. Grant to purchase this property for sixteen dollars an acre. Entering the rolling-mill, one is surprised to see the magnitude and the precision of the whole arrangement. The principal product of the mills is T railroad bars, of which about 40,000 tons a year are finished. A great quantity of railroad spikes and chairs are made, besides some three thousand tons of merchantable iron.
About 200,000 tons of coal are mined annually by the Lackawanna Iron and Coal Company, and consumed at their works.
Some general idea can be formed of the imposing character of the iron-works by the fact that over two hundred thousand tons of anthracite coal per year are consumed by
them alone, while they furnish employment to an effective army of two thousand men!
The amount of capital already expended by the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad Company, in their railroad and coal property, including the Cayuga and Susquehanna Railroad, and the Warren Railroad, in New Jersey, is, at this time, over fifteen million dollars, and a large amount will yet be required to complete the double track and properly equip the road.
The influence of the opening of this great eastern and western outlet upon a valley so long shut out from the great world by mountain barriers, make as plain as noon-day, facts of yesterday and to-day. It is visible in every hamlet, felt in every cottage by the wayside, and is written in vivifying lines everywhere along the Lackawanna; while the vast revolution it has effected in monetary affairs, finds expression in the grand aggregate of prosperity seen throughout every county in Pennsylvania and New Jersey through which the road passes. Much of this prosperity is due to Hon. John Brisbin, President of the road for the last ten years, and who has managed its affairs with singular sagacity and skill.
What Scranton lacks in antiquity, is compensated for in the design of the original village; in its fine streets, laid out with great regularity, and illuminated with gas--in its ample water works, supplying the purest water from the upper Nay-aug--in its street railroads, which traverse every portion of the city--in its free schools, surpassed by none in the State; in its churches, representing so great a diversity of religious sentiment, in the magnificence or the modesty of their structures, that "none need fall among thorns or thieves"; in its doctors of medicine, sheltered by broad Latin diplomas, which all the dictionaries in the Vatican would not enable them to read, skilled in the wherewithal to heal the sick and invigorate the feeble; in its clever lawyers, blustering when opposed, and every ready to mystify and perplex the simplest matter
for a fee; in its doctors of divinity who, learned in biblical affairs, are ever ready
"By apostolic blows and knocks
To show their doctrine orthodox;"
in fact, by the general intelligence and thrift of its inhabitants everywhere observed within its borders. Wyoming Valley, worthy of the fame it has acquired the world over, boasts of its gray obelisk with an honest pride,--of its shire town, filled with elegance, wealth, and intelligence, deriving much of its celebrity from being the residence of some of the finest lawyers in the State, with its streets shaded by long lines of stately elms; and yet it lacks the marvelous and irresistible business impulse which makes up the enchantment of Scranton City. Located in the very midst of unbounded mineral wealth, it will naturally exact tribute from the surrounding country by the aid of the numerous railroads entering within its limits, until the villages that begirt it now will expand and commingle and involuntarily become merged into one of the greatest cities of the State.
THE DICKSON MANUFACTURING COMPANY
The first stationary steam-engine used in the valley of the Lackawanna, between Carbondale and Wilkes Barre where now no less than five hundred daily vindicate the name of Stephenson, was put up in the rolling-mill in Scranton in 1847.
The valley, at this time, had just become an object of desire and competition, which led to its more energetic development. One of the results of that development which has aspired to make Scranton the great commercial manufacturing emporium, is visible in the existence and operations of the Dickson Manufacturing Company, which was organized in 1856.
This company, with a capital of $500,000, absorbing the "Cliff Works" and "Planing Mill" adjoining it in
Scranton, and the large foundery and machine-shops of Messrs. Lanning and Marshall at Wilkes Barre, gives steady employment to nearly a thousand men.
Not only is its business immense in volume, but so diversified in its general character, that the huge, stationary engine that throbs its lay upon the Moosic, or the locomotive plowing the plain below--the mining machinery, and every mechanical contrivance that can be wrought from iron or wood by the skill of the artisan engaged in the works of this company, all promise a measure of future prominence and remuneration, creditable alike to mechanical genius, and its happy concentration and encouragement by Thomas Dickson, the President of this young, opulent association.
The following is a list of physicians who have, at one time or another, lived and practiced their profession within the area now embraced by the chartered limits of Scranton City:--
Names Where settled When Settled When Left Died Remarks
Dr. Joseph Davis Slocum Hollow 1800 1830 Dr. Davis originally settled near Spring Brook.
Dr. Orlo Hamlin Providence 1813 1815
Dr. Silas B. Robinson " 1823 1860
Dr. Daniel Seavers " 1834 1837
Dr. Hiram Blois " 1839 1840
Dr. Joseph Osgood " 1839 1841
Dr. Benjamin H. Throop " 1840 Now resides in Scranton.
Dr. William H. Pier Hyde Park 1845 Now resides in Scranton.
Dr. Gideon Underwood Harrison 1845 1845 Pittston.
Dr. Nehemiah Hanford Providence 1846 1846 1847
Dr. Horace Hollister " 1846
Dr. William E. Rogers Scranton 1849 1858
Dr. Henry Roberts Providence 1850
Dr. Julian N. Wilson Dunmore 1850 1853
Dr. John B. Sherrerd Scranton 1851 1853
Dr. George W. Masser Scranton 1852 Surgeon in Army Potomac.
Dr. Bennet A. Bouton Providence 1852 Removed to Scranton, 1867. Pres. Med. Society.
Dr. Johnathan Leverett Scranton 1853 1854
Dr. John P. Kluge " 1853 1853
Dr. George B. Seamons Dunmore 1853 1865 Removed to Scranton, 1868.
Dr. Augustus Davis Scranton 1854 Hyde Park, Surgeon in Army.
Dr. Lucius French Hyde Park 1854 1859
Dr. George B. Boyd Scranton 1854
Dr. William E. Allen Hyde Park 1855 Asst. ex-Surgeon, 1865, Prov. Marsh., office Ralph A. Squires Scranton 1855 [Scranton]
Dr. S. Burton Sterdevant Providence 1856 Surgeon to the 84th Pa Reg. during the war.
Dr. Asa H. Brundage Scranton 1856 1858 Candor, N.Y.
Dr. Albert M. Capwell Dunmore 1856 1860 Resides at Factoryville, Pa.
Dr. F. Bodeman Scranton
Dr. William Frothingham " 1857 1861 New York.
Dr. John W. Gibbs Hyde Park 1857
Dr. Isaac Cohen Scranton 1857 1858 Jewish Rabbi, Scranton.
Dr. N. F. Marsh " 1857 1860 1867
Dr. Charles Marr " 1857 1865 Asst. ex-Surgeon, 1864-5, in Scranton.
Dr. Erastus W. Wells " 1858 1859
Dr. William Green " 1859 1862
Dr. E. B. Evens Hyde Park 1859
Dr. W. H. Heath " 1859
Dr. Thomas Stewart Scranton 1860
Dr. J. M. Fox " 1860 1865
Dr. Horrace Ladd " 1860
Dr. F. Wagner " 1861 1867 Wilkes Barre.
Dr. Wm. Gelhaar " 1861 1867
Dr. P. H. Moody " 1862 1867 Ex-Surg. dur'g the war, at Scranton.
Dr. Willoughby W. Gibbs Providence 1865 Coroner, Luzerne County.
Dr. Peter Winters Dunmore 1865
Dr. S. P. Reed " 1865 1868 Scranton.
Dr. John W. Robathan Hyde Park 1865
Dr. N. Y. Leet Scranton 1866 Surgeon during the war, 76th Reg. Pa. Vols.
Dr. A. W. Burns " 1866
Dr. Harper B. Lackey Providence 1867
Dr. J. B. Benton Scranton 1867
Dr. C. H. Fisher " 1867
Dr. L. F. Everhart " 1867 Surgeon 8th and 16th Pa. Cavalry.
Dr. N. B. Roberts Hyde Park 1867
Dr. ---McGinlie Scranton 1867
Dr. William Barnes " 1867
Dr. William Haggerty " 1867
Dr. J. Williams Providence 1868
Names Located Arrived Left
Dr. A. P. Gardner Scranton 1854 1859
Dr. ------ Reynolds " 1855 1855
Dr. A. P. Hunt " 1858 1862
D. C. A. Stevens " 1862
Dr. A. E. Burr " 1865 1868
Dr. J. S. Walter " 1868
Drs. Clark & Ricardo " 1868
Dr. Sidney A. Campbell " 1868
The superior or relative status of Providence and Scranton as business villages, five-and-twenty years ago, is plainly apparent in the enumerated list of medical and legal gentlemen, who, to advance their fortunes or achieve reputation, chose the former place for a residence, because of its real as well as its expected importance.
Lawyers who have for a longer or shorter period lived and practiced law within the city limits of Scranton:--
Names Original Location When Admitted Remarks
Lewis Jones, Jr. Carbondale August 5, 1834 Now of Scranton.
Charles H. Silkman Providence January 1, 1839 "
Peter Byrne Carbondale August 3, 1846 "
J. Marion Alexander Providence August 4, 1846 Kansas.
Elliot S. M. Hill " April 5, 1847 First May'r of Scranton.
David R. Randall " November 4, 1847 Late District Att'y Luzerne Co.
Daniel Rankins " August 7, 1850 Clerk of the Court.
Washington G. Ward Hyde Pardk November 10, 1851
Samuel Sherrard Scranton April 4, 1853
Edward Merrifield Hyde Park August 6, 1855
George Sanderson Scranton Sept. 14, 1857 Founder of Green Ridge.
*Ezra B. Chase " April 7, 1857
Edward N. Willard " Nov. 17, 1857 Register in the Dist. Court of the U.S.,for the Western District of Pa.
George D. Hangawout " January 18, 1858
Wm. H. Pratt " January 4, 1859
David C. Harrington " May 7, 1860
Alfred Hand " May 8, 1860 Notary Public
Frederick L. Hitchcock " May 16, 1860
John Handley " August 21, 1860
Aretus H. Winton " August 22, 1860 Notary Public
Corydon H. Wells Hyde Park August 30, 1860
Frederic Fuller Scranton Nov. 13, 1860
W. Gibson Jones " April 1, 1861
Charles Du Pont Breck " August 18, 1861
Aaron A. Chase " August 20, 1862
Zebulon M. Ward " August 17, 1863
James Mahon " Jan. 6, 1865 Dist. Att'y Scranton
M. J. Byrne " Dec. 5, 1866
Francis D. Collins " Dec. 24, 1866
Francis E. Loomis " Feb. 20, 1866
Daniel Hannah " Feb. 21, 1867
Jeremiah D. Regen " August 19, 1867
Lewis M. Bunnell " ---------1867
J. M. C. Ranch "
Isaac J. Post "
Charles G. Van Fleet }
F. E. Gunstur, } " Sept. 21, 1868
Wm. Stanton }
"This township was called Blakeley from respect to the memory of Captain Johnston Blakeley, who commanded the United States sloop of war Wasp, and who signalized himself in an engagement with the British sloop Avon." It was formed in April, 1818, from "a part of Providence, including a corner of Greenfield, east of Lackawanna mountain". It embraced Ragged Island (now Carbondale) and the lands of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company, then brought into value by William and Maurice Wurts.
During the Revolutionary war, a bridle-path, afterward leading through Rixe's Gap into the county of Wayne, marked by trees, was made by the trapper and hunter, but no settlement was attempted within its yet unmeasured boundaries, until comparative tranquility came to Wyoming and Lackawanna in 1786. In the summer of this year, Timothy Stevens, a war-worn veteran from Westchester, New York, who had served in the long struggle with courage and credit, moved into the Blakeley woods with his family. No Indian clearing was found, and but the vague trace of the deserted wigwam appeared on the bank of the stream, where he encamped and began a clearing for his home. Here, overshadowed by forest, where the pulse of the great world only throbbed in storms and winds, he uprolled his cabin from the rough timber felled, and lived many years with his family alone. In 1814, he erected a grist-mill upon the Lackawanna, subsequently known as "Mott's mill", the debris of which can yet be seen by the road-side, above the village of Price.
There cam a strange character here in 1795, about whom for a time there was great mystery. He carried a gold snuff-box, from which he incessantly inspired his
nose, wore an olive velvet coat, was a man of considerable literary attainment; exhibiting a good deal of
"Grandeur's remains and gleams of other days,"
He had been a German merchant in Hamburg, received a classical education, and was withal a clever linguist. His name was Nicholas Leuchens. A man of culture, fond of display in early life, he expended a thousand pounds sterling at his wedding. He left his native shore to escape conscription, landed in Philadelphia, in August, 1795, and departed at once for Wyoming Valley, just emerged from internal discord. Reaching Wyoming, he strolled up the Lackawanna to the present location of Pecktown, where he established the first log-structure upon these exuberant lowlands. This was thirteen years previous to the formation of Blakeley into a township, and Leuchens was at this time the only inhabitant of this portion of Providence, with the exception of Stevens, living a mile or two down the valley. Finding no owner for the land, he took possession of about five hundred acres, of which he never acquired a title. Here rose his plain habitation, roofed with boughs and barks, containing but a single room, in which he piled successive layers of beds almost to the very roof, so as better to repel the approach of ghosts, ever inspiring him with special dread. In the winter of 1806, he taught a district school in the old jail-house, in Wilkes Barre, and one of his pupils (footnote: Anson Goodrich) thus describes the school-house. On a little basin of water, called "Yankee Pond", lying back of the school-house, there was good skating after a cold snap, which the boys in their rustic freedom regarded as a healthier developer, both of muscle and mind, than the musty lore he aimed to inculcate. Leuchens had little control over his school; the larger boys starting off to skate without permission, assent would be given to others to follow, recruit after recruit
would be sent in vain after the delinquent pupils until none were left to homage to the master. Vexed at his roguish and boisterous scholars, he would visit the skating pond himself. Being sixty years of age, and near-sighted at that, his appearance was greeted with a storm of snow-balls, which he was unable to restrain or trace to the mischievous authors.
The mental power and the forcep-like grasp of the German trader distinguishing him in other days, forsook him on his farm, with his fortune; he grew aimless, indolent, and disheartened, returned to Philadelphia where he died, and buried by the hand of charity.
Upon the road-side from Providence to Carbondale, between the village of Price and the Lackawanna, can be seen an orchard in the meadow where John Vaughn and his sons settled in 1797. One of the pioneers in this year was Elisha S. Potter. Learning of the rich wild lands sold for a song along the Lackawanna, he left his native place, White Hall, N.Y., and sought them. Potter was the first justice of the peace in the township, and so well were the vexations and harassing duties of the magistrate performed by him, that litigating parties were generally satisfied with his judgment and decisions.
Moses Dolph, the grandfather of Edward Dolph, Esq., with the Ferrises, made a pitch here in 1798. Of the children of Dolph, none are now living.
There were yet no settlers farther up the valley than Leuchens, and sparse and poor indeed were the dwellings intervening toward Wyoming. Mt. Vernon, formerly the residence of Lewis S. Watres, Esq., was cleared and occupied in 1812.
The forbidding aspect of the country along the borders of the forest, the long severe winters, with their prodigious depth of snow, rising often with its long, white lines of drift, to the very tops of the cabins, and the absence of all roads to communicate with the settlement below, imposed upon the inhabitants the most exacting
hardships. Markings upon trees along the woods directed the path of the pioneer. No bridge spanned the Lackawanna at this time other than the one at Capoose and Old Forge; all streams were forded, if passed at all. Once swollen by the lengthened rain or spring freshet, all intercourse with the neighborhood was delayed or suspended with as much certainty as when the wintery months rendered crossing formidable.
The earlier inhabitants enjoyed neither churches, school-houses, nor mills. The product of the soil, in the shape of corn and rye, was either mashed by the simple stone or wooden mortar and pestle, or cooked and eaten whole. Bear meat, venison, potatoes, and the scanty salt, comprised the luxuries of the day; potatoes sometimes became so scarce in the spring, that those planted for seed were re-dug in a few instances to sustain a family perishing with hunger. (footnote: Moses Vaughn)
For many years, wolves were so bold and disastrous in their inroads upon all live stock left exposed at night, that cattle and sheep were driven into high, strong inclosures, around which fires were often lighted after nightfall for greater protection from these abundant animals, whose howl, prolonged with terrible distinctness and frequency at the very door of the cabin, made up one of the exciting features of border life.
Wilkes Barre, Stroudsburg, and Easton, furnished the only stores within a radius of fifty miles, and every spring, after a fine run of sap, was the ox-journey undertaken thither to exchange the maple sirup and sugar for tea, calico, and salt.
For many years, sweet fern was substituted for tea; browned rye and indigenous herbs appeared on the table for coffee. The pine knot, or "candle-wood", as the Yankees termed it, cheered the household at night, and blended its light with the friendly shadows of the moon.
In 1824, a post-office was established in Blakeley, and N. Cottrill appointed postmaster.
Between Olyphant and Mr. Ferris's, on the back road running from Olyphant to Archbald, is seen a small clearing on the bank of a creek, with no house or trace of a cabin, occupied as late as 1820 by an Indian half-breed, with his squaw and children, skilled as an "Indian doctor". He never went from home, nor received compensation for his cures only in the shape of presents; and yet, in the low moss-covered cabin hid away in the edge of the forest, he received many visits from the credulous ones in the valley. He died soon afterward.
Blakeley has no scrap of local history. Originally embracing the primitive coal-works of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company, its prosperity has steadily kept pace with the advancement of this company, until the villages of Archbald, Olyphant, and Rushdale, have gathered a population of hardy, industrious thousands, at whose touch the anthracite has been awakened from its dream and sent its allegiance from the wood-side down to the shore of the sea.
Peckville is prettily situated on the Lackawanna, does a snug lumber business, while its inhabitants, characterized by intelligence, good-nature, and liberal attachments, never yet have had a single breach in the social relations of the neighborhood.
Jessup, a thriving village in 1855, dwells in the memory of the inhabitants of the valley as a place which started into life with too sanguine expectations of coal mines, railroads, and iron developments, and was thus exposed to a shock fatal to its existence as a town.
One of the first churches in the valley was the Blakeley church. It was raised and inclosed in March, 1832, and remained unfinished for many years. Its completion was hastened by the ironical criticisms of a stranger who, upon passing it, remarked that he "had heard of the house of the Lord, but had never before seen his barn."
YANKEE WAY OF PULLING A TOOTH
Long before doctors, armed with lancets and well-filled saddle-bags, went forth in the valley, empowered, like the beast in Revelations, "to kill a fourth part", at least of those whom they might meet on the way, the more trivial duties of the physician necessarily fell upon the patient himself or the skill of some good-natured neighbor, or perhaps were assumed by some officious doctress, whose roots and "yarbs", gathered from the meadow and mountain, had such wonderful "vartu" in their simple decoctions that no disease could deny or resist. Toothache, rarely treated with the inexorable dignity of turnkey or forceps, vexed many a nervous sufferer by its presence. Sometimes, however, its court was summarily adjourned by a process original, sudden, and cheap.
Among the settlers in Blakeley, at the time spoken of, was a long, lean, bony son of a farmer, troubled with that most provoking of all pains, or, as Burns called it--"thou h--ll o' a' diseases"--the toothache.
The troublesome member was one of the wide-pronged molars, as firm in its socket as if held in a vise. The pain was so acute as it ran along the inflamed gums, that the usual series of manipulations with decoctions and "int-ments", alternated with useless swearing, failed to bring relief to the sufferer. As the ache grew keener with torture, a "remejil" agent was suggested and tried. One end of a firm hemp string was fastened upon the rebellious member, while the other, securely fixed to a bullet, purposely notched, was placed in the barrel of an old flint-lock musket, loaded with an extra charge of powder. When all was ready, the desperate operator caught hold of the gun and "let drive". Out flew the tooth from the bleeding jaw, and away bounded the musket several feet.
After this new way of extracting teeth had thus been demonstrated by one so simple and unskilled in the dental
science, it became at once the chosen and only mode practiced here for many years.
Among other resolute pioneers who sought the shores of the Susquehanna in 1783, appears the name of Thomas Smith, grandsire of the late T. Smith, Esq., of Abington.
On the east side of the river below Nanticoke, he laid the foundation for his future home. The great ice freshet of 1784, which bore down from the upper waters of the Susquehanna such vast masses of ice, overflowing the plains and destroying the property along the river, swept his farm of all its harvest product, leaving it with little else than its gullied soil. Hardly had his recuperative energies again made cheerful his fireside, when the "pumpkin freshet", as it was called, from the countless number of pumpkins it brought down the swollen river, again inundated its banks, sweeping away houses, barns, mills, fences, stacks of hay and grain, cattle, flocks of sheep, and droves of swine, in the general destruction, and spreading desolation where but yesterday autumn promised abundance.
Smith, not stoic enough to receive the visits of such floods with indifference, moved up in the "gore" (now Lackawanna Township) in 1786, "for", said the old gentleman, "I want to get above high-water mark."
His son, Deodat, intermarried with the Allsworth family in Dunmore, from whom sprung a large family of children.
THE SETTLEMENT OF ABINGTON
(footnote: Named after Abington, Connecticut.)
Of the highlands of Abington, lying between the Susquehanna River and the Lackawanna, now rendered productive by a comely and industrious people, little was known by the white man at the beginning of the
century, else that its wild thresholds were crossed by the Indians' pathway from Capoose village to Oquango, N.Y.
In 1790 a party of trappers, consisting of three persons, penetrated the wilderness where now spreads out the rich sloping farm of the late Elder Miller, with a view of making a settlement, as trapping grew dull and furs became scarce. Here they felled the underbrush and a few of the forest trees, rolled them into a cabin roofed with boughs, while the great crevices, liberally seamed with wedges of wood and mud, imparted to the new structure a Hottentot appearance. Their provisions having become exhausted, and bear meat losing its relish, they shouldered their guns and traps before the close of summer and abandoned the enterprise, so that no permanent settlement was made until 1794. In the spring of this year Stephen Parker, Thomas Smith, Deacon Clark, and Ephraim Leach, father of E. Leach, Esq., of Providence, led by the intrepid John Miller, on foot, slung their packs and guns over their shoulders, and with ax in hand, first marked and widened this ancient pathway of the wild man through the mountain gap, known as Leggett's. This gap, in the low range of the Moosic, offered then, as now, the only natural eastern outlet to the township of Abington. Before the work was completed, it was abandoned because of the unvarying obstruction offered by trees to the passage of a cart or wagon, and the declivity rising from Leggett's Creek abruptly into the very mountain. The slighter depression in the range, half a mile south of Leggett's Gap, was then selected for a wagon road, even with the disadvantages of its treble height. In 1791 encroachments were made upon the warriors' path through the notch for the passage of a wagon, when the mountain road relapsed again into forest.
Near the location of the present grist-mill of Humphreys, the white man's clearing first emerged from the Abingtonian woods. This was made by Ebenezer Leach, who afterward sold out his right at this point, and moved
down in the vicinity of Leggett's Gap, where he soon became a tenant of a small, low, lo-cabin, remarkable only for its rude simplicity. A clearing was niched out upon the slope of a hill, there the corn soon sprouted from the fresh burned fallow, and the pumpkins, with their yellow sides and rounded faces, threw a Yankee and domestic look over a region naturally rugged and lonely.
Corn once raised and husked, was either cracked in stone or wooden mortars, for the brown mush, or carried in back-loads down to the corn-mill in Slocum Hollow, to be ground. Sometimes, when the snow was deep or drifted, the journey was made to the mill upon the slow and cumbrous snow-shoe.
The utter solitude of Leggett's Gap, interrupted only by the screech of the panther or the cry of the wolf, as they sprang along its sides with prodigious leaps, made even the trip to mill perilous in the cold season of the year.
"Many a time", said Leach, "have I passed through the notch, with my little grist on my shoulder, holding in my hand a large club, which I kept swinging fiercely, to keep away the wolves growling around me; and to my faithful club, often bitten and broken when I reached home, have I apparently been indebted for my life." At length he hit upon a plan promising exemption from their attacks.
Being told that they were afraid of the sound of iron, he obtained from the valley below, a saw-mill saw. To this he attached a strong withe, by which he drew the saw by one hand over a trail or road, as yet unconscious of the dignity of a sled or a wheel, making a tinkling alternately so sharp and soft as it bounded over a stone or plunged into a root as to inspire them at once with fear so great that his passage was only interrupted after this by their indignant growls.
During one of his mill trips to Capoose, a timid fawn
being pursued closely by two wolves, ran up to him, and placed its head between the legs of Leach to seek protection from its half-starved pursuers. This was done in a manner so abrupt and hurried, as to first convey to the rider a knowledge of the chase. The wolves came up with a bound, within a short distance of where the fearless arm interposed for the trembling animal, and, giving one ferocious view of their white, sharpened teeth, crouched away to their retreats.
So frightened had the fawn become, that not until the path opened distinctly upon the clearing of Leach, could it be induced to leave the side of its protector.
Deer and elk, at that period, thronged along the mountains in such numbers that droves often could be seen browsing upon saplings or lazily basking in the noonday sun.
The Moose, from which the mountain range bordering the Lackawanna derived its name of MOOSIC, were found here in vast numbers by the earliest explorers in the Lackawanna Valley. The clearing of Mr. Leach subsequently embraced the Indian salt spring, mentioned heretofore.
Parker and Smith located upon land north of this, while Clark, drawn by the delicious landscape of Abington's fairest mount, plunged into the woods, where now thrives a village honoring his memory, in the preservation of the name--Clark's Green.
On the summit of the hill commanding such a sweep of mountain, meadow, lowland, and ravine, as stretches to the eye turned to the south or the east, there then stood the straight pine and the shaggy hemlock, interspersed with the maple and the beech, where was erected the original dwelling place of Deacon Clark. It was a substantial compact of unhewn logs, notched deep at either end, placed together regardless of beauty or timber. The floor came from ask-plank, full of slivers, unaided by the saw or plane--the keen ax alone being responsible for
smoothness and finish. It was, withal, a comfortable affair built in the wood-side, some 1,300 feet above tide-water; but energetic, contented, and industrious, the old gentleman passed under its humble roof many a pleasant hour in the long evenings of autumn, when the hearth glowed with the crackling fire, while his daily duties were to give thrift and culture to one of the finest farms in Abington.
John Lewis, James and Ezra Dean, Job Tripp, Robert Stone, Ezra Wall, and Geo. Gardner, also settled in the new region the same year. Job settled in the western portion of Abington while it possessed all its native ruggedness. Most of those who had plunged here in this old forest, were, like those who had commenced along the Lackawanna, so poor as to be unable to pay for their land, until from the soil, they could, by their honest industry and frugal management, raise the necessary means. Not so, however, with Job; he had a little money, and was determined to make the most of it. He purchased a grindstone and brought it into Abington, which for six years was the only one here. This he fenced in with stout saplings, allowing no one to grind upon it unless they paid him a stipulated sum, and turned the stone themselves. This enterprise, although it was comprehensive in its design, and brought to his barricaded grindstone one or two dull axes a week of the toiling chopper, could not bring into play all the energies of his mind, so he fenced in much of the woods by falling tree, for a deer-pen or park, into which, after the deer had wandered for his morning browse, or had been driven by Job, the passage to the pen was closed, when the deer was to be slain, and dried venison and buckskin were to effect such a revolution in the commercial aspect of Abington, and he was to be the Midas who had brought it. The chase over the acres he had thus fenced proved more invigorating to his stomach than beneficial to his pocket, and the project of the old man died with him a few years
later, marked only by the remaining debris of the fence yet seen around "Hickory Ridge"
Elder John Miller, a man alike eminent for his long services as a minister, and his virtues as a man, settled in Abington in 1802. He was born February 3, 1775, in Windham, Connecticut. Young, hopeful, and robust, he emigrated to the inland acres of Abington, where for half a century, identified intimately with its local and general history, he gave cheer and character to society around him as much as the brook crossing the meadow imparts a deeper shade and more luxuriant herbage to its banks. The great influence he exerted over the people of the township up until the very day of his death, in February, 1857, in keeping alive the spirit of improvement, husbandry, and morality, can yet be observed along the farms of his neighbors, in the enterprise, intelligence, industry, customs, and habits of the yeomanry of Abington. Previous to the coming of Mr. Miller to "The Beech", as Abington was designated until the formation of the township in 1806, few had inclined toward its rigorous domain. He located upon the spot marked and vacated by the trappers twelve years before, purchased three hundred and twenty-six acres of land for forty dollars--$20 in silver, $10 in the customary tender of maple-sugar, and $10 in tin-ware.
The only store in the county of Luzerne was kept in Wilkes Barre by Hollenback & Fisher, offering a variety surpassed by the ordinary pack of the modern peddler of to-day. At this store, Elder Miller was furnished with the necessary tin, which he manufactured into such ware as the county called for.
Almost simultaneously with his arrival, he began to preach the gospel and "turn many to righteousness". During this long five-and-fifty years of spiritual labor, he married nine hundred and twelve couples, baptized (immersed) two thousand persons, and preached the enormous number of eighteen hundred funeral sermons before
he was called to receive his reward on high. It was rare to witness a funeral in the valley when the elder was in his prime, and find absent from the mournful gathering his frank, friendly face, ever full of words of comfort and kind reminiscence of the dead.
For a period of twelve years he officiated in the valley as the only clergyman laboring here of any denomination.
Being a practical surveyor withal, there are few farms in the northern portion of Luzerne County he did not traverse while tracing and defining their boundaries. His wife--an estimable lady--was the fifth white woman living in Abington. Elder Miller, although he held his own plow and fed his own cattle, was the great representative of Abington, whose various qualifications to counsel and console, whose characteristic desire to do good, whose benevolence of heart, grave but kind deportment as a man of the world or the adviser of his flock, gave him an ascendency in the affections of the community attained by few.
While he has passed away, he left behind him in manuscripts events of his life, and incidents in the early history and growth of Abington, whose publication could not fail to interest all who knew him, and recall to the mind of the reader the gray head and kindly greetings of a man whose age, calm, deliberate air, whose venerable and unquestioned piety, and whose great sympathy in the hour of sorrow, made him one of the most remarkable persons ever living in Abington.
This township was the twelfth one formed in the county of Luzerne, and is sixty-three years old. At the Court of Quarter Sessions, held at Wilkes Barre, August, 1806, Abington was formed from a part of Tunkhannock, "Beginning at the southwest corner of Nicholson township, thence south nine and three-quarter miles east to Wayne County, thence by Wayne County line north nine and three-quarter miles", etc.
The original inhabitants were from Connecticut and
Rhode Island; and even now, after the lapse of over half a century with its mutations, the stern morality, the honest industry, and the social virtues literally impressed upon the hills of the parent State, are distributed and distinguished among their descendants. Although no evidence of coal or iron exhibits itself within the boundaries of Abington, it furnishes one of the best farming and grazing areas found in the county of Luzerne.
The only colored feature in the picture of Abington is a colony of negroes, which, in spite of the double disadvantage of prejudice and hereditary indolence, has drawn from the frosty hills thereabout the wherewithal to sustain animation in a very creditable manner.
ELIAS SCOTT, THE HUNTER
Daniel Scott emigrated to the Lackawanna in 1792. His son Elias was widely known throughout the country forty years ago as a successful Nimrod, but the encroachments of civilized life crowded the forest world from his reach with the same remorseless force that the Indians have been rolled up and frenzied to the very base of the Rocky Mountains.
Some years ago, while he was standing near the Wyoming House, in Scranton, in an apparently thoughtful and sorrowful mood, the writer asked him what was the matter.
"Matter! matter!" he exclaimed, as he looked up with a sigh, and pointed his wilted hand and hickory cane towards the depots. "See how the tarnal rascals have spiled the huntin-grounds where I've killed many a bear and deer."
In the autumn months he would take long hunting-jaunts, sometimes being absent a week from his home. Upon his left hand appeared unmistakable evidence of an encounter with a bear many years ago, while out upon such an excursion on Stafford Meadow Brook, running
through the southern portion of Scranton. Encamped at night among the willows on the border of the run, with his leather knapsack for a pillow, his belt, keen knife and long, heavy rifle for his companions, where the glare of his camp-fire startled the fawn as it browsed along the mountain side, or was chased by a wolf or more blood-thirsty panther down into the valley, he met old bruin at daybreak, as his bearship was gathering berries for his morning lunch. His organs of digestion, however, did not relish the tickling sensation of the bullet thrown from Scott's rifle, and he immediately approached the hunter with all the familiarity and warmth of an old friend, until he came frightfully close. Scott, declining his advances, retreated as rapidly as possible from the wounded and enraged brute, and by the frequent punches of his gun, now empty and broken, avoided the embraces of the bear. Walking backward from the animal, the heel of his boot caught in a treacherous root of a tree, and he fell to the ground. Before he could raise himself again, commenced the death-struggle. Bruin sprang on the hunter with such violence as to rupture an internal blood-vessel, and for a moment the copious flow of blood from his mouth threatened suffocation. Smarting from the wound of the bullet, the bear seized the left hand of Scott in his mouth, as it was uplifted to divert attention from his throat, while with his right arm he drew from his belt the well-tried trusty knife. This he plunged repeatedly into the bear, until, exhausted from the loss of blood, he fell dead on the mangled hunter.
Hunters then lived a life of plenty, for game of all kinds was so abundant at that period, that in the course one year's casual hunting, Scott killed one hundred and seventy-five deer, five bears, three wolves, and a panther, besides wild turkeys in great numbers. He has killed and dressed eleven deer in one day, three of them being slain at one shot.
Mr. Scott informed the writer that many years ago,
finding a rattlesnake den on the upper waters of Spring Brook, he killed seven hundred and fifty of the reptiles in a single day; the next day he slew three hundred and seventy-five more; making a total of thirteen hundred and twenty-five of the bright occupants of the rocks thus fraternizing in this snake castle or rendezvous, and destroyed by the hand of a single man. He died in the summer of 1867.
EARLY HISTORY OF THE SETTLEMENT OF "DRINKER'S
BEECH", NOW COVINGTON
As the dweller in wigwams turned his footsteps toward the setting sun, in search of hunting-grounds better stocked than the Pocono, he left behind him no region more wild than the section of country lying between the Delaware and the Lackawanna, known as Drinker's Beech--a name made popular by the vast number of beech-trees growing upon lands owned by Drinker. No attention of the white man was directed to the tract until 1787. During this year, and that of 1791, Henry Drinker, Sr., of Philadelphia, father of the late Henry W. and Richard Drinker, purchased from the State some twenty-five thousand acres of unseated land in the Beech, now embraced by Wayne, Pike, and Luzerne counties. An effort was made in 1788 to turn this purchase to some practical account by opening a highway through the lands. It failed for want of means. Four years later, John Delong, a hardy woodsman of Stroudsburg, was employed, with other persons, to mark or cut a wagon-road to these beechen possessions, from at or near the twenty-one-mile tree on the north and south road, which was also called the Drinker road, from the fact that it was opened principally at the expense of Henry Drinker, Sr., who was an uncle of Henry Drinker, Jr. and was withal a large landholder in the more northern portion of the State.
The road cut by Delong extended in a westerly direction, passed that romantic sheet of water, Lake Henry, crossed the present track of the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad, and thence taking a southerly course, terminated on a small branch of the Lehigh, called Bell Meadow Brook, near the old Indian encampment before mentioned, upon the edge of this run.
After the return of the choppers, the road grew full of underbrush, and forbade passage to all but the hunter and his game. In reopening it, in 1821, the name of "Henry Drinker, 1792", was round rudely carved upon a tree.
The late Ebenezer Bowman, Esq., of Wilkes Barre, was employed to pay taxes upon these lands as late as 1813, after which time Henry W. Drinker, as the agent, offered them for sale and settlement.
In the spring of this year, Henry Drinker, Sr., with his sons, Henry W. and Richard Drinker, visited Stoddartsville--a faint village brought into being by the late John Stoddard, who, being an alien, was impelled from the city of Philadelphia to a tract of land embracing the great Falls on the Lehigh, where his lumbering operations eventuated into a village of considerable note in the days of the stage-coach over Wilkes Barre Mountain.
As the southern portion of the Drinker lands lay on the Lehigh and its upper tributaries, about twelve miles northeast of Stoddartsville, it was decided to open a communication to them from that place by a road nearly following the course of the river, if the same was found at all practicable.
Previous, however, to running any line of road, H. W. Drinker determined to ascend that stream in a small canoe or skiff, up to the very mouth of Wild Meadow Brook--now called "Mill Creek". This the old hunters and sturdy woodsmen declared impossible, as the stream in one place was completely closed by a compact body of drift-wood of a very large size and great extent, on the top
of which a considerable strata of vegetable and earthy matter had accumulated, and brushwood was growing luxuriantly; in other places there were swift and narrow rapids, beaver dams, and alder and laurel, twisted and interwoven over the very current in such a manner that it seemed as if no boat could ascend the Lehigh, unless carried upon shoulders the greater portion of the way, as the bark canoes of the Indians were sometimes taken. Notwithstanding these discouraging representations, by offering high wages, a resolute set of axmen were at length engaged to undertake this truly formidable task, and after the expenditure of no little energy and money, accompanied with some of the hardest swearing among the choppers, a boat channel to the desired point was opened in the course of two months.
The first encampment of the Messrs. Drinkers, with their choppers, was near the mouth of Wild Meadow Brook, where they erected a bark cabin, or shed, open in front and at the sides, and sloping back to the ground. Each man was furnished with a blanket, in which he rolled himself up at night, and while a large crackling fire blazed in front of the cabin without, the soft hemlock boughs within furnished invigorating repose after the fatiguing labors of the day. Now and then, they were annoyed by the serenade of a school of owls, attracted to the camp by the strange glare of the fire, or the piercing scream of the sleepless panther, watching the intruders; in damp, rainy weather, by the bite of gnats or "punks", as they were termed. Trout and venison were so abundant around them, that an hour's fish or hunt supplied the cabin for a week with food.
This encampment was made in 1815, when this new avenue along the Lehigh was sometimes used for boating and running logs. Provisions and boards were taken up the stream from Stoddartsville in a large bateau drawn by a tough old mare, hitched to the bow with a plow harness, and with a setting pole to assist her when there was
a tight pull, and push en derriere when the speed slackened too much to suit the Rear-Admiral, as the hands called the driver and owner of the animal; sometimes swimming through deep beaver-dams, or scrambling along the narrow, rocky passes and rapids, to the astonishment of otters, minks, and muskrats, the soft-furred inhabitants of the banks of the stream.
"And if a beaver lingered there,
It must have made the rascal stare,
To see the swimming of the mare."
In the summer of 1814, these lands were resurveyed by Jason Torrey, Esq., of Bethany, Wayne County, into lots averaging one hundred acres each. Lots were sold at five dollars per acres, on five years' credit, the first two years without interest; payment to be made in lumber, shingles, labor, stock, produce, or any thing the farmer offered or had to spare.
The first clearing was made in Drinker's settlement, in 1815, by the late H. W. Drinker, on a ridge of land, where he built a log-house, about a quarter of a mile south of the spot long adorned by his later residence.
During the year 1816 a road was surveyed and opened from the Wilkes Barre and Easton Turnpike, at a point about half a mile above Stoddartsville, to the north and south road, near the Wallenpaupack bridge, a distance of some thirty miles. This road is also known as the old Drinker Road.
At the Court of Quarter Sessions, held at Wilkes Barre in 1818, Covington was formed out of a part of Wilkes Barre, embracing the whole of Drinker's possession. "In honor of Brigadier-General Covington, who gallantly fell at the battle of Williamsburg, in Upper Canada, the court call this township Covington." H. W. Drinker being an intimate friend of General Covington, this name was given to the new township at his suggestion.
Among the earlier settlers were John Wragg, Michael Mitchell, Lawrence Dershermer, Ebenezer Covey, John and William Ross, John and George Fox, John and Lewis Stull, Samuel Wilohick, Archippus Childs, John Lafrance, John Genthu, Henry Ospuck, John Fish, David Dale, Edward Wardell, John Thompson, Mathew Hodson, Peter Rupert, Wesley Hollister, John Besecker, Jacob Swartz, Nathaniel Carter, Samuel Buck, Richard Edward, John Koons, and Barnabas Carey.
The Philadelphia and Great Bend Turnpike, originated by Drinker, whose name it still bears, was the first to gain admittance into the valley from the east as a public highway. This turnpike commenced at the Belmont and Easton road, some three miles above Stanhope, and ran thence a northerly course to the Susquehanna and Great Bend Turnpike, at a point near Ithamar Mott's tavern, in Susquehanna County.
The charter for this road, over sixty miles of vast inland frontier, was obtained in 1819, but the State, willing to foster an enterprise promising to enlarge its development and dignity, had so little faith in the civilizing advantages of this proposed road that it favored it with the limited subscription of only $12,000. The balance of the stock was taken by the Messrs. Drinkers, Clymer, Meredith, and other wealthy landholders. Drinker, who located the road, superintended its general construction, and was elected president of the company.
The four villages, Moscor, Dunning, Dalesville and Turnersville, diversifying the agricultural centers among the hills and dales of the Beech, are all increasing in population and importance, and yet have ample room for expansion.
SETTLEMENT OF JEFFERSON
Although Jefferson Township was only formed in 1836, from Providence, its settlement dates back to 1784, when Asa Cobb, taking advantage of the repose succeeding the
Revolution, located his cabin, and made a clearing at the foot of one of the larger and steeper elevations, deriving its name from him, Cobb's Mountain, as it sends down its steep slope to the old Connecticut road crossing the range at this high point. This cabin, offering its unwavering hospitality to a friend or foe from Wyoming, was the primitive structure in Jefferson, and its former location is indicated by the mansion of his great-grandson, Asa Cobb. Between the solitary dwelling in Dunmore and the clearing at Little Meadows, in Wayne County a distance of sixteen miles eastward, the cabin of Mr. Cobb was for many years the only one intervening. In 1795 Mr. Potter chopped a place for his home in the extreme eastern border of the township and county, upon a tributary of the Wallenpaupack issuing from Cobb's Pond.
Jefferson has achieved no local history of interest, yet its uplands were once familiar to the savage clans crossing from the Delaware to their Wyoming villages. Upon the very summit of the mountain, north of the old Cobb house, the camp and signal fires of the Indian often rose, as the hunter or warrior gathered around the resinous logs, while the flames of the fire glowing high and red among the tree-tops, were visible miles away to the eastward. At an early period, a large number of Indian implements, to smite an enemy or secure the game, were found commingled with the debris of these upraised encampments. The township is sparsely settled and generally covered with timber, yet in spite of its altitude, it possesses a few farms of surprising fertility and beauty.
The Moosic or Cobb's Mountain, interposing its granite bowlders between Jeffferson and the Lackawanna, has shut off all traces of coal formation, yet a coal mine was discovered east of this range, a quarter of a century ago, by a voluble, inventive genius, who was promised a farm by the owner of the land, should the explorer find coal in a certain locality. Making an excavation deep in the
mountain side, he actually toiled weeks in carrying upon his shoulder baskets of anthracite for a distance of six miles before the blackened appearance of the drift gave satisfactory evidence of the existence of coal. The owner of this supposed coal property, always liberal in his gifts, cheered by his good luck in the discovery, promptly deeded a tract of land, from his many thousand acres, as a reward to the finder, who, like the kind-hearted possessor, lived long to join in the laugh at the joke.
The country east and southward of Cobb's, alternating with forest and meadow, possesses much of the gloom natural to the primitive wilderness in American when trodden by the warriors. Wild beasts, to a certain extent, inhabit the ravines and woods extending from this point to the head-waters of the Lehigh over the Shades of Death, on the Pocono, and haunt in places less accessible to the footsteps of the hunter making now and then such demonstrations upon the farmers' sheep-pens as to satisfy the fastidious that the keen, frosty air of the mountain imparts a keener whet to the appetite than rum.
The winter of 1835 was one of great length and severity, from the vast quantity of snow which had fallen. It lay upon the ground for many weeks four and five feet in depth on the level, while drifts, crossed only upon snow-shoes, often rose to a prodigious height. Game perished on the mountains in large numbers, and wolves even sought the settlements for food. A gray, lean wolf, thus impelled by hunger, found its way into the barn-yard of the late John Cobb, Esq., in Jefferson, during the winter, while the members of the family, with the exception of Mrs. Cobb, were absent from home. The commotion among the sheep in the yard, some distance from the house, attracted her attention. With a heroism that rose instinctively with the occasion, Mrs. Cobb, though naturally a mild and slender lady, caught the pitchfork in her hand and hurried forth to repel or dispatch the intruder. This
was comparatively an easy matter for the brave woman, as the brute, in its starved condition, had become enfeebled, and, although for a moment it turned its lurid eye and long, white, keen teeth upon the assailant, it soon fell a trophy to a woman whose sterling courage, thus displayed, exhibited in a broader and better light the requirements and qualifications of the earlier women of the country. For the scalp of the wolf, Luzerne county paid Mrs. Cobb the usual reward or bounty at that time of ten dollars.
There lived upon a time in Jefferson a man of fair mental endowments, upright and honorable, glib in speech, of unmeasured egotism, whose ambition led him to hope for a division of the great county of Luzerne and the selection of the green plateau of his plantation for the county seat. Visions of court-house, jail, and prominence, rose before him as he diffused his convictions among all parties throughout the county with a persistency worthy of success, urging the cutting in twain of its ancient boundaries for the especial good of the Beech and Jefferson, offering land gratuitously for the public buildings; and, as a final unanswerable counterpoise, the old gentlemen, in his enthusiasm for his favorite scheme, exclaimed to the writer, "Rather than see the thing fail, I would consent to act as judge myself the first year or two for nothing."
CHASED BY A PANTHER
To the east of Cobb's clearing, eight or ten miles upon the old Connecticut road, nestles down at the foot of a long hill a tract of low, swampy land, known in the ancient Westmoreland Records by the name of "Little Meadows". Two natural ponds, flooding hundreds of acres, lying a mile apart, divided by a strip of wild meadow-land grown over with coarse grass and willows, afforded the earliest pioneers to Wyoming a place to cheer their cattle with food, and led to the adoption of the name. The first
settlement in the county of Wayne, aside from that upon the Delaware, was made upon the edge of this meadow. From this place to the Paupack settlement, a distance of less than a dozen miles, stretched the woods, unbroken save by a single farm-house, kept for a tavern, remarkable for its neatness within, and its slovenish appearance without. A portion of this distance is swamp-land, grown full of alder, laurel, beech, and the long, wrinkled hemlock, and is a continuation of the swamp or "Shades of Death", extending their desolating aspect for a great space along the Pocono.
Midway through this swamp flows the Five-mile Creek in the most sluggish manner, from which the land upon either side of it gradually ascends for a distance of three or four miles.
In the autumn of 1837, while the writer was passing from this tavern homeward on one bright, frosty midnight, accompanied by a friend, just as the clearing receded from the view, the horse and ourselves were startled by the loud cry of a panther, coming from the thicket along the road-side. The dry limbs cracked as the enormous creature sprang into the road behind us, and it is difficult to tell whether the horse or the whitened drivers most appreciated the perilous condition. The moon shone bright down among the opening tree-tops, as over the road, frozen, steep, and stony, trembled the slender vehicle. Deeper and father the forest closed up behind us, leaving little chance for us to reach Little Meadows in safety. Turning the eye backward, and the approaching form of the panther could be seen within a stone's throw, leaping along at a rate of speed corresponding with our own. The silence of the woods, stretching back in such utter loneliness, the sound of the nervous horse-feet, the jar of the wagon over the stones, the terribly distinct yells of the pursuing animal breaking in upon the surrounding gloom, and our own defenseless condition, made such an impression upon boyhood--that its mention here may seem
a wide digression--it never was effaced or forgotten. We shot down hill after hill, around curve after curve, with fearful rapidity, without uttering a word or hardly drawing a breath, fearing every moment that the wagon would either prove treacherous to its trust, or that every leap of the panther would interrupt our ride. For three miles, down to the brook and over it, did the yellow beast follow up our trail, uttering as it came its shrill, appalling cries at intervals of every minute. Crossing the creek on a rude, log bridge here thrown across the stream, the horse, conscious of the danger, sniffed instinctively, hurried up the ascent with all possible speed, while the panther, slackening his pace perceptibly and ceasing his cries, led us to believe that the chase was abandoned. Now so, however. As we emerged from the woods into the edge of Little Meadows, where courage rose to a wonderful pitch, we gave one "hollo!" to ascertain the whereabouts of the animal, hesitating whether to leave or spring upon us. Hardly had the echo of our voices returned from the wood-side before the replying scream of the panther reached us, in accents so distinct and appalling as to remove all desire or effort to hold further intercourse with his panthership.
As for the panther, which had accompanied us six or eight miles during our moonlight flight, with no benevolent intentions, we took leave of his society with less regret than we had left the fair ones at the homestead on the Paupack.
Madison Township, embracing an area of twenty-eight square miles, much of which is timbered with the knotted hemlock or the smoother beech or maple, was formed from Covington and Jefferson in 1845.
Pleasant Valley, lying ten miles east of Scranton, on the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad, within this township, is a deep vale scooped out of the
hills for the passage of Roaring Brook, in its descent to the Lackawanna, where the village of Dunning animates the spirit of industry, and carries on a profitable traffic with the people of Drinker's Beech. Like the Lackawanna region, this short and narrow valley bears evidence of once having been a lake, whose waters, enlivened by fish and water-fowl, were liberated with heavy murmur through the fractured mountain below. About one mile west of the village, "Barney's Ledge" (see footnote), a long, bold bending of vertical rock, rises up some five hundred feet at the door of Cobb's Gap, with rugged outlines, and stretching its strong arms right and left, half encircles the village in its embrace. The old Drinker turnpike, once merry with the passing stage-coach, finding its way from Providence to Stroudsburg, and the light track of the Pennsylvania Coal Company, pass through it.
Hunter's Range, once famed for its trout-fishing and whisky, lies in the vicinity. Although the rough sides of Pleasant Valley, capable of great cultivation and production, if brought out by patient toil, are marked by an eruption of stumps wherever cleared, there is a fresh business air about the village, with its vast leather-trade and lumbering interests, that arrests the attention of the passer, and that gives assurance that when the scalping ax disperses the forest farther from the brook, it will, in point of thrift and enterprise, excel many older towns upon the line of this great locomotive road.
Hon. Abram B. Dunning, who represented Luzerne County in the Pennsylvania Legislature in a manner so eminently satisfactory to his constituents during the years 1852-3-4, as to be thrice elected-- a compliment seldom paid in this county--has grown up with the place, and given it a name and an impetus alike permanent and favorable in its character. Dunning enjoys the advantages of a depot, two stores, post-office, two hotels, and a
(footnote: Named from the late Barney Carey, who for any years kept a toll-gate on the Drinker turnpike, within view of this ledge.)
large tannery of Eugine Snyders, able to convert quarter of a million's worth of raw hides each year into ready leather.
Carbondale Township, underlaid with rich seams of coal, lies on the Lackawanna, twenty-four miles from its mouth, some 700 feet above the level of its confluence, and was formed from Blakeley and Greenfield, in April, 1831. On the eastern slope of the Moosic, near the present location of Waymart, Captain George Rix, whose name lives in the notch of the mountain, chose a dwelling-place, before Waymart had even a name. This led to the settlement of Ragged Islands (now Carbondale by David Ailsworth in 1802. He was a farmer from Rhode Island. He fixed his habitation in the spring of this year upon the spot known since 1830 as the "Meredith Place", cut away and burned the forest for a single crop of corn he planted and secured by his little cabin; in the fall returned for his family. The backwoods became his permanent abode in 1803, and by the aid of his trap, gun, and new land productions, he lived a life of contented obscurity. His self-reliant wife wove and spun every yard of clothing material worn, other than that manufactured from furs and skins, secured with little trouble from the bold inhabitants of the woods. Franklin Ailsworth ascended the Lackawanna from Capoose, to share the fortune of his father, in 1806. A daughter of Mr. Ailsworth, 66 years old, familiarly called "Aunt Ruth Waderman", who accompanied her mother here in 1802, yet lives above Carbondale. The first white child born in Carbondale was born on the Meredith Place in 1806. The second family that ventured into the Carbondale wilderness was James Holden, who in 1805 chopped and logged a piece of land near Ailsworth. He abandoned it the second year, and moved into the Lake country.
Peter Waderman and James Lewis moved upon
Ragged Island in 1807. Lewis abandoned his clearing the second year, while Waderman reared up a bevy of sturdy youngsters. The attire of Mr. Waderman, when full, was imposing and unique. A bear-skin worn for a coat, the fore-legs serving for the sleeves, a fawn-skin vest, buck-skin pants, and a raccoon cap, with the tail hanging behind when worn, set off his tall figure to great advantage, and when he visited Capoose, to vote or carry his grist to Slocum's mill, children stood dismayed or fled to their mothers at his approach. Near where the toll-gate stands, below Carbondale, Rosell B. Johnson, from New York, who had married a Boston lady, took possession of land covered with the tall hemlock and the low thicket in 1809, and lived upon it for five years. The "big flats", now occupied by a portion of Carbondale, was never disturbed until 1809. During this year, George Parker and his son-in-law, Winley Skinner, both more familiar with the rifle than the ax, cut away the timber for a corn-patch early in the spring of 1809. A small, one story log-hut, warmed by the abundance of fuel lying at the door, supplied them with shelter the few months they inhabited it, when they abruptly withdrew from the place, in despair of ever seeing it emerge into civilization. The green logs soon rotted down, and the young saplings again triumphed in the place where the cabin stood.
In 1810 Christopher E. Wilbur, an ingenious wheelwright from Dutchess County, N. Y., became a resident of the farm now occupied by Horace Stiles. He emigrated here to manufacture wooden wheels, then used along the borders for spinning wool and flax, worked by the foot or hand. There was no other wheelwright along the Lackawanna other than him, and so clever was his hand in working wood for the use of the busy housewife, that every fireside in the valley was gladdened by the hum of his wheels. In 1812 he erected a miniature corn or grist-mill upon the stream where he lived. It had no bolt, and
but a single run of stone diversified its work; corn, crushed by its rudely wielded power, had to pass through a common seive before being fit for use. Mr. Wilbur was a plain, practical man, and his house afforded a place for a school and meetings as early as 1813; Elder John Miller and Mr. Cramer alternately itinerated their diverse doctrines at this point once a month.
Carbondale, by its origin and nature a mining village, as indicated by its name, owes the vigor of its development to the genius of William and Maurice Wurts. In 1814-15, these true pioneers in the valley, with compass and pick, a knapsack of provisions slung over their shoulders, penetrated and bivouacked along the eastern range of the Moosic, exploring every gorge and opening favoring the exit of coal, two bodies of which they found, and uncovered a few years later, by the aid of Mr. Nobles and Mr. Wilbur, one at Carbondale, under the bluff, on the western edge of the Lackawanna, the other on a strip of half-cleared land in Providence, since known as the Anderson farm. The wild land about Carbondale, originally owned by an Englishman named Russell, living at Sunbury, came into possession of William and Maurice Wurts at the time of these explorations.
In November, 1822, these men, in quest of honest reward for their labors, cheered onward by no friendly hand from the inhabitants of the upper or lower valley, laughed at for their perseverance in digging among rock and rattlesnakes for naught, erected a long, low log-house for the joint occupancy of themselves and their workmen. Up until this time but a single horse-path showing its narrow and indefinite outline by marks upon trees, led to the site of Carbondale, and passed through Rixe's Gap to Belmont and Bethany.
Dundaff--named from Lord Dundaff, of Scotland--became a place of some note in the backwoods before Carbondale enjoyed even the honor of an appellation. Redmond Conyngham, an uncle of our excellent judge of
the county of Luzerne, purchased the land where the village now stands in 1822, laid it out for a town, whose growth was to be stimulated by the rugged agricultural developments of the country, and by the considerable travel on the Milford and Owego turnpike, which passed through the place as a stage route. Three or four small houses stood here before this time.
The settlement expanded into a village of such prospect, that Mr. Stone Hamilton started a democratic weekly newspaper, called the Dundaff Republican, the first number of which was issued in February, 1828. It was the only paper, with the exception of one or two published in Wilkes Barre at this time, issued within the county of Luzerne.
James W. Goff, Esq., afterward sheriff of the county, raised the first frame-house in Carbondale, in October, 1828. For a series of years the development of the village, enriched by its subterranean possessions, surpassed in promise and rapidity every settlement within the county. Churches were built, a railroad, licensed by mountain planes, led its iron way to the waters of the Dyberry, and a spirit of thrift blended its impulse with the sober notions of the farmers of the surrounding townships, hitherto poor and embarrassed. Awakened thus by the activity of these brothers, whose spirit and effort unlocked the mountains of the Lackawanna, and gave luster to a name unhonored in their earlier achievements, the village, deriving nurture from the operations of the company, of which they were the organic head, compares favorably to-day with the towns of the lower valley.
The principal persons who found remunerative occupation in the new, prosperous coal settlement, prior to 1832, were James Dickson, Charles Smith, Thos. Youngs, Stephen Mills, Dr. Thomas Sweet, Salmon Lathrop, John M. Poor, Samuel Raynor, Stephen Rogers, D. Yarington, Esq., R. E. Marvin, Henry Johnson, Hiram Frisby,
James Archbald, H. Hackley, John McCalpine, and E. M. Townsend.
Carbondale is now an incorporated city, rugged somewhat in the general style of its architecture, and yet from the uplifted anthracite within and beyond its boundaries, it gives employment, and even a comparative competency to its thousands of inhabitants.
It abounds in churches, the first of which, the First Presbyterian church, was erected in 1829. However
(page includes an engraved illustration of First Baptist Church in Carbondale)
counter and diverse may be the religious convictions of the mass, ample scope for their harmonious enjoyment is here found in the different churches, representing every Christian denomination.
The oldest coal-mines of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company are located at this point, which was for many years the western terminus of their railroad leading to the canal at Honesdale. The first car-load of coal passed over this road, October 9, 1829.
Maurice and William Wurts, in 1816, attempted to transport a sample of coal across the mountain to the Paupack waters upon sleds, from a superficial body they had uncovered in Providence township, some five miles above Slocum Hollow, and failed. After this route was found to be impracticable the irrepressible energy of these men turned to the Carbondale placer, where the first sled-load of stone-coal from the Lackawanna valley left its bed, by the creek side, and was floated to Philadelphia upon rafts; and while it claimed attributes for heat, brought jeers from the passer to its patrons, it wore and won its way into favor after many struggles, as the stream, sometimes baffled in its upper waters, becomes serene and goes unwearied to the sea.
APPEARANCE OF THE VALLEY IN 1804
A brief retrospective view of Lackawanna valley, as it appeared to the eye in 1804, while shut out from the great world almost as much as the Icelander among his glacial peaks, will have a local interest, enhanced by the fact that the reader is indebted for the faithfulness of the picture to the memory of the late Elder John Miller.
In searching for material for publication, the writer visited the elder in May, 1856. He was found alone in the plowed field planting corn, dropping the seed from a huge, leather bag, made from a boot-leg, hung by his side; and although he then was eighty-one years of age,
his extraordinary powers of vitality enabled him to fill the farmer's place as ably as one forty years his junior. Leaning his right arm upon his hoe, and successively raising handfuls of corn, to be dropped again in the bag through his fingers, he stood affixed for two long hours, describing the appearance of the country as he saw it sixty-four years before, interwoven with the remembrance of lively gossip and anecdote. It was done with that sober good sense and cheerful temper that always gave his conversation a charm suited to every taste, circle, and place.
The first house standing near the confluence of the Lackawanna with the Susquehanna, at this period (1804), was that of Ishmael Bennett, a blacksmith. He was a great Indian fighter and hater, having witnessed many of the cruelties practiced by them after the battle across the river. A huge elm-tree, seen a little east of the railroad depot at Pittston, indicates the original location of his dwelling. On the farm, now known as Barnum's, a little pretension in the potash and agricultural line was made by James Brown. Captain Isaac Wilson, who married a daughter of John Phillips, owned a narrow patch of land immediately above. Just as the road, skirting along the western border of the Lackawanna, below Old Forge, emerges from the strip of wood into the sandy plain, stood the residence of that old sunburnt veteran, Ebenezer Marcy. In 1778, he was engaged in the Indian battle and his wife was among the fugitives who fled from Wyoming on the evening of the memorable 3d of July of this year. The tourist, as he passes down the valley, can not fail to observe, as he passes over the Lackawanna bridge, below the rapids, a deep, ragged, narrow passage cut through a rock, that here turns aside the waters of the stream as they come fretting and chafing over the rocky bed, like an ill-curbed colt. This channel, dug out as early as 1774 for mill purposes, now conveyed to the forge below motive power from the stream above. At this forge, standing a little below the bridge spoken of,
Dr. Wm. Hooker Smith and James Sutton lived and manufactured iron. Opposite this point lay the farm since known as Drake's on which a cabin had been fashioned by Hermans, who claimed the land, while on the adjoining clearing there lived Deodat Smith, father of the late Thos. Smith, Esq., of Abington.
An old gentleman named Cornelius Atherton resided at Keys or Keiser's Creek. (see footnote) He was a blacksmith by trade; and it is claimed that the first clothier's shears in the United States were made by him in Connecticut. His son Jabez was shot in the Indian battle at Wyoming, the bullet passing through the femur, or thigh-bone, without a fracture. One of those tragic episodes so frequent in the earlier history of Wyoming was enacted upon this creek, at the present location of Taylorsville. The day after the Wyoming massacre, the whites remaining unharmed fled from the plains of Wyoming by every path leading from it. To escape the knife or the merciless ax, homes were hurriedly left, and all fled toward the Delaware for safety. A party of six persons, two men, their wives and children, were thus urging their single yoke of oxen over this route, when they entered the glen with comparatively little apprehension, as the savages were supposed to be present at their bloody carnival below. Hardly had a draught been taken from the creek before the whoop and uplifted tomahawk announced the presence of the savages as they sprang from the ambuscade. Before the whites could raise their guns upon their foes, and defend their families or themselves, one man fell by the dash of the tomahawk, while the other darted away in the forest with such rapidity, as to draw away entirely from the rest of the party the notice of the pursuing Indians. It was now a moment big with peril. To flee at once was the only hope to escape captivity, or perhaps a lingering, barbarous death. Each mother gathered a
(footnote: This creek took its name from Timothy Keys, once living there, who was killed by the Indians in 1778.)
child to her bosom, and instinctively hurried away in the deep, dark thicket of willows bordering this stream, as it flowed along that swampy lowland. From the knife, already gleaming and tried upon those they had loved so long, these bold women, with their nursing babes, successfully escaped. Although the stern wilderness frowned before them, and their assailants were prowling in their rear, they left their hiding-place at night; and, creeping from bush to bush along the Lackawanna, continued their journey over Cobb Mountain toward the settlements upon the Delaware. They subsisted upon roots and berries--the manna of the wilderness--and at night huddling together under some friendly tree, found wild-dreaming repose.
After passing every danger and enduring every hardship, heart-heavy, stripped, and starved, yet trusting in God, they arrived at the village of Stroudsburg in safety.
The Indians, as they returned from the chase, with the warm and dripping scalp in their hands, finding their victims beyond reach, cut out the lolling tongue of one of the oxen for a roast, leaving the other undisturbed, in which condition they were found the next day by some of the escaping settlers.
Along the path from this creek to Providence the woods retained their native aspect until the highland farm, now known as "Uncle Joe Griffin's" came in view. Upon this plateau, where the rich outlines of the Indian region rose up in every form of beauty, stood a log cabin, with its roof running to the very ground--better to withstand the storms of winter. Reuben Taylor lived here at this time.
Mr. Lafronse had a possession right immediately above Taylor's, while Joseph Fellows, Sen., who came to the valley in 1796, had made a permanent residence on the slope of the hill, near the present family mansion of Turvy Fellows, Esq. Subsequently he received a commission as a justice of the peace, an office which he filled with
ability and great satisfaction. His nearest neighbor up the valley was Goodrich.
Hyde Park, as a village, had no existence, and but a single cleared acre, half-hidden in the green park on all sides surrounding it, was inhabited. Upon the site of the residence of Hon. Wm. Merrifield, stood, in 1804, the unhewn-log habitation of Elder Wm. Bishop, who, as early as 1795, officiated as the first stationed minister in Providence.
With the exception of the "Indian clearing", and a little additional chopping around it, the central portion of Capoose Meadow, or Tripp's Flats, was covered with tall white pines. The road lay along the brow of the hill for nearly half a mile from the house of Bishop, when it reached the two-roomed log-tavern of Stephen Tripp, who at this time had a large distillery operating here.
Tripp was a man of singular evenness of temper. He never became boisterous or belligerent. The nearest approach to it occurred here at his tavern. A stranger stopping at his house, finding the landlord agreeable and full of social qualities, ventured to ask his name. He was told it was Tripp. "Trip, Trip, is it?" said the stranger, please with the reply; "that is a capital, capital name I know, for I have a dog by that name--and 'Trip' is a good dog!"
Entering a small, dark cabin, near where now lives Ira Tripp, Esq., there sat a short, gray-headed man, more cheerful and communicative than his associates of the day, whose earliest life was full of incident and hardships, and who emigrated from Rhode Island at the time of the formation of Luzerne County, in 1786. This was the father of Stephen.
About midway between this point and the Lackawanna River, a little to the northeast of the "Diamond mines", a small tract of rich land had been purchased by Lewis Jones from Wm. Tripp and John Gifford--a son-in-law of Isaac Tripp--who lived here at this time. Jone's farm
included that intervale where yet lies the debris of an old still-house. John Staples occupied the Widow Griffin farm--adjacent to that of Alderman Griffin--which soon after passed into the hands of Mathias Hollenback.
The Von Storch property, originally passing from the proprietors of the town of Capoose to Dean, and from him to Nathan Roberts, for a barrel of whisky, came into the hands of H. C. L. Von Storch in the spring of 1807, before coal lands had a name or a value in the valley. A strip of pines lay between the clearing of Von Storch and the cabin of Enock Holmes, standing on the site of the village of Providence. Where now stands the cottage of Daniel Silkman, lived Henry Waderman, who, as late as 1810, when the census was first taken in the valley by the Hon. Charles Miner--a gentlemen to whom all accorded the possession in a high degree of those frank, pleasing, and intellectual qualities, which seldom fail to secure the regard of every one--occupied the only dwelling he found above Providence. Mr. Miner recollected this more distinctly from the fact of staying over night with Waderman, whom he found cheerful, sociable, and fond of relating stories of Boneparte.
Upon the flats, now known as the Rockwell farm, dwelt James Bagley, whose porchless abode gave welcome shelter to children, cats, and dogs. Bagley's fordway crossed the Lackawanna, near his dwelling.
At the mouth of Leggett's Creek, Selah Mead cultivated the narrow intervale, while Mr. Hutchins occupied a patch of land rising up from the brook, known now as the McDaniels' farm. The adjacent clearing, thick with stumps, marked the well-chosen location of Ephraim Stevens, who, bending and white with the years of almost a century, passed away a short time since, leaving his estate to his son Samuel, subsequently deceased. Half a mile beyond, on the farm so long rendered productive by Colonel Moses Vaughn, one of the worthy
descendants of Captain John Vaughn, lived John Tripp. The orchard spread over the meadow crossed by the Delaware and Hudson Railroad, on the western bank of the Lackawanna, planted by Captain Vaughn, denotes the place where he and his sons long drew nurture from the soil. Upon the Decker farm lived Wm. McDaniels, whose sluggish ideas of agriculture governed each successive inheritance until the property came into possession of Messrs. Pancost and Price, two Philadelphia gentlemen of education and fortune.
The village of Price, peopled by hardy and industrious Germans, stands upon a portion of the Decker farm. The first clearing made in Blakeley turned to practical account, was that of Timothy Stevens, who, about the close of the Revolution, began a chopping on the farm known as the Mott farm, where he "logged-off" land for a corn and potato patch, which yielded abundance to the wants of his family.
Nicholas Leuchens, the erratic genius before mentioned, lived at the present site of Peckville. Along the forests of the Lackawanna, above Leuchens, the ax had rung, only to mark the course of the trapper or trader coming from Pleasant Mount, and but a single hut or cabin stood between. Blakeley, Carbondale, Rushdale, Archbald, and Jessup, had no impulse even toward a settlement, nor was there a township formed in the valley north of Providence; a "chopping", with the fallen pines divested of their lesser limbs by fire, edged its way into the green woods, where in latter years the "Meredith Cottage", made rural and attractive by warm hospitality, stood and still stands to gladden the wayside.
Having now reached the extreme point of the valley, on the west side of the Lackawanna, as far as settled in 1804, a glance of the eastern border, less sought after for a dwelling-place or heritage at this time, will be as briefly given. There are yet a few remaining who can bear testimony to the rugged, narrow path along the stream,
overhung with interlocking trees, which led its way from Ragged Island to Capoose, with only here and there a break in the woodland for the occasional occupant. Upon the farm known as the Dolph farm, in Olyphant, lived Moses Dolph, father of Alexander and grandfather to the present owner, Edward Dolph; immediately below, Samuel Ferris, father of Samuel, William, and John, won by hard toil a resting-place for his young family. From the lands of Ferris it was nothing but woods, broken only within a single mile by the blackened fallow of John Secor, whose cabin, built from logs of great strength and size, served to dispel all fears inspired by wolves never slumbering about the clearing after nightfall. Between Secor's and Dunmore, two miles away, two rights had been improved respectively by Charles Dolph and Levi Depuy.
The Corners (Dunmore) had two houses only--the tavern of Widow Alsworth and the residence of David Brown. Between this point and Slocum Hollow, a log-house of John Carey's, with its huge, stone chimney and mud-chinked sides, had risen from the clearing, and the bevy of children issuing from the door to wonder at the occasional passer, or building dams of mud across the stream running at the door, made up the daily picture of domestic life at this solitary habitation between these two named places.
At Griffin's Corners, there lived an old man named Atwater, while on the Dings or Whaling property (now Green Ridge, where the Hon. George Sanderson has brought a town into being), stood by the brook-side the rude yet hospitable dwelling of Conrad Lutz, occupied by his son John. The old Connecticut road, familiar to the Wyoming pioneers, following the Indian trail, came into Capoose Meadow, and crossed the Lackawanna at Lutz's fordway. This fording-place, deriving its name from Mr. Lutz, was traversed from 1769 until 1826. Tall pines, alienated from Indian tenure, crowded upon the
road leading to Slocum Hollow, where Ebenezer and Benjamin Slocum, with their less than a dozen employees, enumerated the entire white inhabitants of this tranquil and independent settlement.
James Abbott, whose iron energy had animated the glen of Roaring Brook, resided on the bank of Stafford Meadow Creek. Some two miles below Slocum Hollow, a tract of land improved as early as 1776, by Comer Phillips, was tenanted jointly by David Dewee and David David. The latter met with a sudden death a year or two later. Engaged at the break of day in prying up a rock for a hearth-stone, he was mistaken by Dewee, in search of game, for a beast of prey, and shot dead upon the spot. His widow subsequently married Mr. Abbott.
John Scott, father of the great hunter Elias, lived upon the farm lying farthest down in the township of Providence. His nearest neighbor was Joseph Knapp, a brave old revolutionary soldier, spurning alike title or pretension. At the surrender of Burgoyne he received a wound long incapacitating him from active service. After the declaration of peace he resumed farming in Columbia County, New York, until 1790, when he emigrated to the valley and settled in the "gore". (see footnote)
His son Zephaniah, attaining eighty years, yet lives among us. Much of his early life was spent in hunting and trapping various animals inhabiting the valley over half a century ago. Sometimes during the autumn months he was out alone for weeks, engaged in hunting, subsisting on the trophies of his gun, and finding on friendly leaves and boughs his only bivouac. He has kept a curious record of the number of bears and other wild animals he killed upon the Lackawanna; of the time and manner of their capture, with their respective weight, in a work of over one hundred folio pages; a work probably
unmatched in novelty and interest by any manuscript of the kind found in the country. He has given it the inimitable title of "The Leather Shirt".
This enumeration, embracing no particular creed nor politics, comprised the entire inhabitants of the valley four and sixty years ago. To many who may peruse these pages the foregoing particulars may seem out of place, but to those who visit the Lackawanna Valley, or make it their home, it will not be amiss to thus catch a retrospective glance of the days gone by, so as better to contemplate the changes years have wrought, and judge from the past how rapid and marvelous will be the prosperity of the future. Six years later the census was taken by the Hon. Charles Miner. Within the Lackawannian district existed but two townships, Pittston and Providence, the first having a population of 694, the last, 589, or a total population of 1,283 for the entire valley in 1804. Abington had an inhabitancy of 511.
The same territory, divided and sub-divided into cities, townships, and boroughs, will furnish in 1870, according to the same ratio of increase, a population of one hundred thousand. Diffused along its living border, it falls to-day a little short of eighty thousand, and a more enterprising, intelligent community, a more thrifty and successful people, remarkable alike for their love of liberty and their attachments to their country, can nowhere be found.
The thrift everywhere diffused along the intervale, no longer hid in its native fastnesses, has kept pace with the steady hum of its population. It is in fact impossible to contemplate the unvaried progress of the Lackawanna Valley for the last thirty years without astonishment and pride. It has been a progress at once so rapid, so liberal, so vast and comprehensive in its character, as to exhibit alike the importance of the valley, and the sagacity of those to whom its development has been intrusted. Buried deep in the forest of northeastern Pennsylvania, as it has
(footnote: The gore was a narrow strip of land, lying between Pittston and Providence. It is now Lackawanna Township, set off as an electoral district, Feb. 25, 1795; into a township at the November sessions, 1838.)
been within a few years, walled in from the great world by natural mountain barriers, like the Northmen among their glimmering crags, with no outlet to the east or the west, but for the slow coach, swinging along at the rate of four miles an hour behind the jaded stage-horse, with no incitement but its slumbering wealth, it has risen like a man awakened from his slumbers, strong, refreshed, invigorated, until it has become one of the most commercial and prosperous valleys in the State.
FORMATION OF TOWNSHIPS UNDER PENNSYLVANIA JURISDICTION:
Pittston was formed in 1790.
Providence was formed, August 1792.
Abington was formed, August, 1806.
Greenfield was formed, January, 1816.
Covington was formed, January, 1818
Blakeley was formed, April, 1818.
Carbondale was formed, April, 1831.
Jefferson was formed, April, 1836.
Lackawanna was formed, November, 1838.
Benton was formed 1838.
Newton was formed 1844.
Madison was formed 1845.
Fell was formed 1845.
Scott was formed 1846.
The same territory, divided into lots of 300 acres each, extending back two and a half miles, was covered by two towns, while under Connecticut jurisdiction, viz.: Pittston and Providence. Three hundred acres of land were appropriated or reserved in either of these original towns for the use of the first minister in fee, before other lots were offered to the settler. Before the ministerial occupancy of these reservations, the adjoining town of Wilkes Barre with that of Kingston, prospered under the spiritual pleadings of the Rev. Jacob Johnson, a Presbyterian minister, for whom a house was built by the colony in 1772, and whose salary this year was fixed at sixty pounds Connecticut currency.
After the annihilation of the Connecticut claim in 1782, by the court at Trenton, the commissioners allowed "The Rev. Mr. Johnson to have the full use of all the grounds he Tilled for two years, ending the first of May, 1785." He refused the kindness of the favor in a spirit less chafing than biblical, as evinced by the following letter of
"JACOB JOHNSON To the Comte of the Pennsylvania Landowners, &c.: Gentlemen,
I thank you for your distinguished Favor shewed to me the widows, &c., in a proposal of Indulgence, Permitting us to reside in our present Possessions and Improvements for the present & succeeding Year. Altho I cannot Consistly accept the offer, having Chosen a Comte for that purpose, who are not disposed to accept of or Comply with your proposals. However, I will for myself (as an Individual) make you a proposal agreable to that Royal President, Saml 9the, 16the & 19the Chapter, if that dont suit you and no Compromise can be made, or Tryal be had, according to the law of the States, I will say as Mepheboseth, Jonathan's son (who was lame on both his feet) said to King David, Saml 19, 30, yea let him take all. So I say to you Gentlemen if there be no resource, Neither by our Petition to the Assembly of the State of Pennsylvania or otherwise, Let the Landholders take all. I have only this to add for my Consolation and you Gentlemen's serious Consideration, Viz: that however the Cause may be determined for or against me (in this present uncertain State of things), there is an Inheritance in the Heavens, sure & Certain that fadeth not a way reserved for me, and all that love the Saviour Jesus Christ's appearing.
I am Gentlemen, with all due Respect, & good Will
your Most Obt Humble Servt,
Wioming, Apl 24the, 1783.
To the Gentlemen Comte, &c.
N. B. it is my Serious Opinion if we proceed to a Compromise according to the Will of heaven that the lands (as to the Right of soil) be equally divided between the two Parties Claiming, and I am fully Satisfied this Opinion of mine may be proved even to a demonstration out of the Sacred Oracles. I would wish you Gentlemen would turn your thoughts and enquiries to those 3 Chapters above refered to and see if my Opinion is not well Grounded & if so, I doubt not but we Can Compromise in love and Peace--and save the Cost and Trouble of a Tryal at Law."
The doctrines of Methodism were occasionally expounded to the people of Pittston and Providence in 1790. In 1794 an Englishman named William Bishop, a fervid Baptist preacher, kindled his fire on the parsonage lot in Providence. This lot lay on the east side of Hyde Park, and extended over the marsh or pond which a few years since gave to the interior of Scranton such a piscatory appearance. The principal hotels and churches, as well as the greater portion of Scranton, stand upon these ancient church lands.
On the bluff, upheaved from the Lackawanna, whose waters so gracefully bend around its base, the log-house and church of Elder Bishop, combined in one, emerged from the forest. It was a rude, paintless affair. No bell, steeple, pulpit, nor pews, marked it as a house of worship; four plain sides, chinked with wood held by adhesive mud, formed a room where the backwoodsmen gathered in a spirit of real piety, sincerity, and an absence of display impossible to find to-day in the more costly and imposing sanctuaries around us.
The habits of the assemblage were in keeping with the character of the humble edifice. Women wore dresses made from flax and woolen, fitting them so closely and straight as a bean-pole. These were sometimes plain from the loom, but generally colored and striped with a domestic dye, giving to the woolen fabric every variety of
finish and shade. Instead of the negative shoe worn nowadays, the old-fashioned ones then in use furnished to the wearer one of the essentials to long life and health--a generous warmth.
The shadowy and often senseless duties of the milliner were but slightly appreciated here at that time, for one instance is related to the writer of a woman whose bonnet, cut from pasteboard and trimmed as plainly as a pumpkin, was worn summer and winter for the long period of twenty-two years, with no other change nor "doing up" than the addition of a single new ribbon or string! Appalling and incredible as may appear the fact to the girl or the matron of the present time, the person yet lives in the valley who remembers this pious and economical mother well. The prudent wife and mother who understood the necessity of supplying the wants of the family from the scanty means within her reach, so united industry with economy as to exhibit in the most favorable light the qualities of the New England women.
Broadcloth coats were never seen unless brought from Connecticut. Their place was supplied by the rough, warm, honest homespun, or more frequently by a suit of bear, or the coveted deer skin. Hats and caps ingeniously constructed from the skin of wild animals found in every thicket, were universally worn in winter, while in summer the straw hat, braided from the well-thrashed rye, gave comfort and dignity to the wearer.
Men and boys went barefoot until they reached the place of meeting, carrying their shoes in their hands, putting them on during preaching, and after meeting would walk home, sometimes many miles, upon the bare feet, and the shoes were returned in the same manner in which they had been brought. Many of the settlers, pressed by the needs of the household did not enjoy the luxury even of carrying shoes.
The women were always seated upon one side of the house, the men upon the other. The habit of the male
and female portion of the community being seated promiscuously in a country school or meeting-house was indulged in here only within the last forty years.
PROPRIETORS' SCHOOL-FUND AND PRIMITIVE SCHOOLS
The fund in the township of Providence, known as the "Proprietors' School-Fund", came from a provision full of forethought and wisdom. The original proprietors of the seventeen towns certified to Connecticut settlers in Westmoreland, in setting aside certain lots for religious and literary purposes, inaugurated a measure that speaks for itself. Nearly 2,000 acres were thus reserved by the Yankees in the town of Providence.
The commissioners appointed under the act passed in April, 1799, offering compensation to Pennsylvania claimants, issued certificates or patents for the land from the State to the committees for the said town or township, and the annual committee had from time to time sold or leased for a term of years a great part of such lots, reserving the remainder for the proprietors' use.
As the committees, however, were supposed by many to be invested with little or no legal powers, the sales and leases made by them were so little regarded, that some debts and rents, due the original Yankee proprietors, are yet remaining unpaid.
A portion of the land thus appropriated by the old Susquehanna Company for school purposes, was sold the 17th of September, 1795, to William Bishop, by Constant Searles, James Abbott, and Daniel Taylor, who acted for the township.
With a view of confirming such contracts and sales, which at the time were deemed advantageous for the school fund, the proprietors of the township obtained an act of incorporation from the Legislature during its session of 1835, similar in its character to that obtained in 1831
by the townships of Wilkes Barre, Hanover, and Plymouth, clothing the trustees of the township with all the privileges and franchises of corporations. John Dings, Samuel De Puy, William Merrifield, Joshua Griffin, and Nathanial Cottrill were vested with the authority of trustees under this act, until after the annual election.
Although this act did not affect any sales previously made by individuals acting for the township, and consequently failed to reach and recover lands forever lost to it, yet it enabled the proprietors who were subsequently elected by the taxable inhabitants of the district, to sell the remainder of this land, lying in the vicinity of Hyde Park, for the sum of $3,300, which being secured by bond and mortgage upon the property, now furnishes by its yearly interest the "School Fund", a fund which contributes so justly toward the support and success of what is considered so essential to the promotion of national welfare--common schools.
The first house built in the valley with especial reference only to schools was erected in 1818, upon a plot of land now within the limits of Providence village. The building was nine by twelve, without paint, steeple or bell, yet no college hall now offers more willing culture to the young than did this plain edifice beneath the murmuring pines, open its doors to the mischievous urchins of the valley just half a century ago.
In reviewing the history of the Yankee settlements in Westmoreland, much of the thrift and sprightliness of the New England character can be traced in the elementary education imparted to them from the cabin school-house along the forest. Many of the pioneers were men of deep religious sentiment and principle, and after their families had been sheltered from the storms and the intrusion of the inmates of the wigwam, they made provisions for the school-house.
The school records of various townships in the valley, present no striking peculiarity, but as far as any
judgment can be formed from the contents and character of the former records, both of school and society, it leads unavoidably to the conclusion that there has been no relaxation of effort in the cause of education since the earlier settlers passed away. The standard which they created has not been overlooked, nor has the common interest of every citizen in the education of the community been forgotten. While the district and higher school arrangements in the Lackawanna valley are justly looked upon as superior--and some are eminently so--they would suffer none to-day by a comparison with any school found within the precincts of the oldest settled counties in the State.
The schoolmaster was, at an early period, an object of terror to school-children, and of vast importance in a small neighborhood where he "boarded around". The respected parson, frequent in his visits, and beloved by all for his good wishes and kind words, only received more courteous attention from the farmer and his wife, than did the country schoolmaster--especially a new one, whose reputation for "licking" his scholars had happily preceded him.
It is well for the timid, nervous child, that the barbarous and often surgical whip and ferule, and the triumphant blows of a master strong in muscle and weak in mind, have been exchanged for a more rational discipline.
While the writer recollects his own school-boy days, when he spent many an idle hour in the old school-house on the hill, surrounded on every side but one by saplings, whose branches were often applied to the coatless backs of the pupils by some itinerating vendor of a b c's, after the boys had been seated upon a high, hard, hemlock bench, six or eight hours, half frozen in winter and quite boiled in summer, he can not but rejoice at the progressive character of government in our common schools, as well as in their grade.
PATHS AND ROADS -- JOURNEY FROM CONNECTICUT TO
PITTSTON IN 1793
The general poverty of the earlier emigrants, united with the agitated condition of Wyoming while the Province of Pennsylvania acquiesced in British allegiance, restrained the inhabitants from planning and working roads needed for ordinary intercourse.
Mountain trails trodden by the red men centuries before, and by the whites seeking Indian homes for traffic in rum and skins, led over the Moosic toward Connecticut undisturbed until 1769, when a narrow road long called the "Cobbroad" was opened from the Province of New York to Wyoming. This was the great and only highway entering the valley eastward from 1769 to 1772. From the Lackawanna to the Great Council Fires of the Six Nations along the Lakes, there was no pathway other than the warriors' trail connecting Capoose with Con-e-wa-wah (Elmira), until 1788.
Among the traders roaming along this wood-wrapped avenue for traffic with its tribal masters, was the afterward celebrated John Jacob Astor.
The conflicting claims to the territory embraced by Wyoming and Lackawanna valleys, provoked a controversy between Pennsylvania and Connecticut, long and embittered. The claim of the Yankees being summarily disposed of by the Trenton Decree, Pennsylvania assumed jurisdiction over the valleys known as Westmoreland no longer. This obliteration of rival interest, however final and prejudged it might have been, gave the settlers who remained under the new order of things, leisure to repair roads sadly neglected during and after the war.
The first appointment by the justices in 1788 of the supervisors of roads in Pittston, was John Philips and Jonathan Newman; in Providence, Henry Dow Tripp.
At the September sessions, 1788, held in Wilkes Barre, a petition was received from "Job Tripp and others,
praying that proper persons may be appointed to lay out a road in the town of Providence. It is ordered that Ebenezer Marcy, Isaac Tripp, Samuel Miller, Henry D. Tripp, Waterman Baldwin, and Jonathan Newman, be, and they are hereby appointed to lay out necessary roads in said town and make return to this court at the next session." At the December session, 1788, they reported that they had laid out roads through Pittston, but had surveyed none in Providence, so their report was not accepted.
As the road was essential to the wants of the upper township, the court appointed six housekeepers to survey one fifty feet in width. This followed the old road leading up through the Capoose, constructed under Yankee jurisdiction. The next year, John Philips and David Brown were appointed supervisors of highways in Pittston, and Job Tripp and Wm. Alsworth in Providence.
It does not appear, however, that any new roads were laid out or worked up to this time, by any of these supervisors--old roads only being surveyed and repaired.
Job Tripp, Constant Searles, Jediah Hoyt, Daniel Taylor, and James Abbott, living in Providence, were appointed in 1791, to lay out roads here. The present road leading from Pittston to Providence was surveyed by them on the 4th and 5th of April, 1791. This began "on the northeast side of the Lackawanna River in the town of Providence, beginning at Lackawanny River, near where Mr. Leggett now lives", and thence through Providence to the Pittston line. Gabriel Leggett then lived a short distance above the residence and mill of the late Judson Clark, in Providence.
The Lackawanna was yet bridgeless, and only crossed by fording. Different fording-places took their respective names from the respective owners of the land in the immediate vicinity. Thus at the capoose Works of Mr. Carter, located a mile from the center of the ancient meadow by that name--was Bagley's ford; at Providence, near the mound of Capoose, Lutz's ford, etc.
Leggett's Gap road was laid out in 1795. The Lackawanna Turnpike Road Company was incorporated in 1817, and was the first turnpike along the valley.
The journey from Connecticut to the Lackawanna in 1793, through a half-opened wilderness of nearly two hundred miles, was no easy matter. A day's drive with the slow ox-team over a road barely answering its purpose, was but eight or ten miles. At nightfall, a camping ground was chosen by the road-side near some spring or rivulet, when fuel was gathered and the bright, welcome blaze of the fire in the woods lonely and deep, offered light and company while the supper was being prepared and partaken. If from the forest thronged with deer, none was secured for the evening's meal, bread and bacon issued from the chest, or corn-meal from the saddle-bags was readily converted into "Johnny cakes". Supper disposed of, and the oxen cared for by a liberal supply of browse, a few extra logs were piled on the fire as the party crowded under the cover of the wagon and found repose amidst the silence of night.
Along the Lackawack, whose sober waters no longer rocked the Indian's craft, this road offered few inducements to pursue it as it drifted toward Wyoming, passing through the "Lackawa" settlement, and crossing Cobb Mountain into Capoose. From the Paupack clearings to the Lackawanna there was in 1793 but three dwellings, at Little Meadows, Cobb's, and Alsworth's at Dunmore.
Several acres of land overgrown with wild grass and lying ten miles west of the Wallenpaupack in a rich intervale, were found inhabited by the red tribes when the whites explored it in 1769. A small creek stretches its languid line across the meadow into a neighboring pond, where the abundance of fish gave joy to the wigwams on the western edge of the meadow, from whence the warriors came forth with peace-pipe to smoke the friendly welcome. This point, because of its prolific growth of wild grass, was selected for a residence by
Seth Strong, in 1770. It was the first attempt to settle the territory, now known as Wayne County. Mr. Strong lived here at the time of the Wyoming massacre.
This farm is known as the Goodrich property, into whose possession it came in 1803. It was the birthplace of that eccentric genius, Phineas G. Goodrich, known in every nook and corner of Wayne, as "long-nosed Goodrich" who writes of Strong, "I had this from the early settlers on the Paupack, who in 1778 hid their effects in the woods and fled to Orange County, to escape the tomahawk and scalping-knife. There was a skirmish here on our old place (Little Meadow) between the whites and Indians. The whites were mostly slain. I remember the mound that was raised over their one common grave. Indians and whites were buried together. When a boy, I used to find the arrows and broken hatchets of the red-men around the mound and the hill."
In 1793 there lived a man here by the name of Stanton, whose one-roomed log-house, early styled an "Inn", furnished accommodation for the wayfaring man and beast. The structure itself, standing on the knoll rising westward from the meadow, was half occupied by a huge fireplace and chimney grouped from stone and mud. The guest, emboldened to ascend a ladder to the upper story where the bare rafters greeted the head of the aspirant, found only boughs and grass spread upon the pole flooring for their reception and repose.
Such was this rustic inn, whose counterpart was seen in many of the new settlements. Homely as was its fare, plain as were its pewter dishes and single hunting-knife, the venison or bear meat swinging from the trammels, hunger made always welcome.
Fox-meat was not so readily appreciated. A stranger passing the way, was drawn to the table by the smell of roasting meat. Taking a morsel of the smoking viand in his mouth, it stung him like cayenne. Thinking that the housewife had peppered one side of the roast too highly,
he turned the dish around and took a slice from the other side with the same provoking result. He laid down his knife and fork, and asked the good-natured landlady, what kind of meat it was. "Why', replied she, very innocently, "this morning my husband killed a fox, so I thought I would roast the hind quarter". The stranger was furious. "D--n your fox!" he exclaimed as he dashed platter, grease, fox, and all to the floor, and hastily resumed his journey.
Bishop Asbury, after visiting Wyoming in 1793, returned to New York over this route by Strong's, and thus records it in his diary.
"Monday 8, 1793.--I took the wilderness, through the mountains up the Lackawanna, on the Twelve Mile Swamp; this place is famous for dirt and lofty hemlock. We lodged in the middle of the swamp, at S------'s, and made out better than we expected."
Cobb's house on the slope of the Moosic Mountain, a distance of about eight miles from Little Meadows, was reached. The white cover of the wagon, jerking up or down as it mounted over a root, or plunged into a rut, passed over creeks never yet spanned by a bridge. The plain house of Cobb, floored, ceiled, and shingled with the split slabs, was too small to accommodate the emigrating party, who found in the hospitable wagon repose for the night. Asa Cobb made the first clearing here soon after the close of the Revolution. It was seven miles, or one day's journey from Cobb's, to where now stands the village of Dunmore. One green wave of tree-top was carried to the very summit of the mountain, disturbed by no clearing upon its western slope save that of William Alsworth, whose cabin half hid under hemlock and spruce, was also termed an inn. And, although the rude dwelling had little of the finish about it of modern times, the social comforts and the substantial meals and beds it furnished
to the casual emigrant, was evidence that Alsworth had lost none of the New England character. The good old man, who acted as landlord, hostler, and waiter, and doing every chore essential to household affairs, never was so delighted as when he saw gathered around him the happy face of the emigrant or his guests, and his greatest pleasure seemed to be, to smooth with his dry jokes and racy stories the ruggedness of each man's daily road.
Pittston, a tidy village on the Susquehanna of half a dozen houses, two only of which were frame, was thus reached after a journey of thirty-one days.
THE RISE OF METHODISM IN THE VALLEY
As the emigrants encamped upon Wyoming generally acquiesced in Presbyterian tenets, an organization friendly to their diffusion was easily effected under the ministrations of the Rev. Jacob Johnson, an officiating minister in the colony, as early as 1772, and who for many years was the only one, with a single exception, in all the wide territory lying between Sunbury and the Mohawk.
Not so, however, with the Methodists. As the noiseless border of the Lackawanna began to thicken with a population, whose physical wants for a time pressed those of a spiritual character aside, Sabbath morning, with its associations of youthful days in the old village church at home, came and went with better observance. Hunting, fishing, horse-racing, or wrestling for drinks for the crowd, were among the many ways chosen to wear Sunday away by a large proportion of the inhabitants many years ago, before religious influences crept into the new settlements of Capoose or Pittston. The birth of Luzerne county, in 1786, modified elements hitherto adverse to either the achievements of Methodism, or the favorable propagation of the doctrines of any organic religious interests.
One of those happy characters able to hew their way
into a prominent usefulness emerged from a blacksmith shop in Kingston, and commenced to exhort and explain the liberal doctrines to the world in 1787. This was Anning Owen. He had early emigrated from Connecticut to Wyoming with the pioneers; had fought beside the gallant Butler in the Indian battle on the plain until the day was lost, escaping only with his life. He accompanied the fugitives to the East after the massacre, where he remained for nine years before he again crossed the mountains and rolled up his log-cabin and shop on the bank of Toby's Creek in Kingston. Never neglecting the duties of his shop until his appointments multiplied far and near, he officiated in the double capacity of blacksmith and exhorter for a few seasons before he became a circuit preacher of singular efficiency and power.
A Methodist class was formed at Ross Hill, Wyoming Valley, in 1787-8; three years later a similar society, fewer in numbers, was first organized in the Lackawanna Valley, at the forge of Dr. Wm. Hooker Smith and James Sutton, by the Rev. James Campbell, who had been sent hither by the Philadelphia Conference for this specific purpose. The group, composed of five members, were led by James Sutton as class-leader.
In the summer of 1792 Mr. Owen ascended the Lackawanna to Capoose and upper Providence, where he preached alternately at Preserved Taylor's and Captain John Vaughn's, in private houses. Captain Vaughn had imbibed the broad doctrines of Universalism, but their fallacious character was so demonstrated and proven by the plain blacksmith, that he forsook them forever, and became a zealous convert to Methodism. Meetings were also occasionally held in other log-houses or cabins along the stream, where the minister, generally poor and penniless, tarried all night, and enjoyed the abundant and real hospitality of the valley. Bishop Asbury, in his reconnoiter of the Lackawanna and Wyoming valleys in 1793, appointed Valentine Cook presiding elder.
In 1800, Methodist meetings were held once a month at the house of Preserved Taylor, in Providence, who lived upon the western border of Capoose Meadow. After Mr. Taylor's removal, the dwelling of Squire Potter, two miles farther up the valley, became a stated preaching point. In fact, the lonely school-house or the isolated cabin, afforded the only places for religious gatherings in the valley until the fall of 1828, when there was erected the first meeting-house in that very portion of it last settled--in Carbondale.
Meetings were sometimes held in cool groves or woods from bare necessity. Some shaded nook, watered by a spring or brook, was chosen for a camp-ground. Here, around a circle well cleared of underbrush and sheltered by hemlock or beech from the rays of the sun, rose the whitened tents like the wigwams of the cunning bow-men, in which were collected groups of old and young, whose pilgrimage to this wild joyous Mecca was long remembered with pleasure and profit.
In 1803, two noisy itinerants went forth like John the Baptist, to prepare the way of the Lord. They preached at Kingston, Plymouth, Shawney, Wilkes Barre, Pittston, Providence, crossed the Moosic Mountain at Cobb's, journeying through Salem, Canaan, Mount Pleasant, Great Bend, and Tunkhannock, and preaching in all these places before returning to Wyoming. In 1807, a regular circuit was formed, and a portion of the same route was traveled over twelve times a year, or once in every four weeks. From 1810 until 1818, George Harman and Elder Owen officiated in this vineyard. One of the prominent members of the church here then was old "Father Ireland", as he was familiarly called, who emigrated to Providence Township in 1795, and settled upon what is now known as the Briggs's farm. He was a long time a class-leader. In his intercourse with the world, his kindness of heart, and his calm and virtuous life, until his sun passed behind the horizon after a long day,
contributed no little toward softening the prejudices of the illiberal against the Methodist Society.
The two events marking their distinctive era in the development of Methodism in the valley were the visit of Bishop Asbury in 1793, and the accession to its strength of the young but bold and fervid presence of the Rev. George Peck, D.D., in 1818. He brought with him a fixed purpose to diffuse Christian truths in the new field before him, in the exercise of which he was made familiar throughout the country as the great champion of Methodism. "In less than a century", said he to Brother Taylor, as he was threading his way along the infant settlement, "this charming valley, from its beauty and fertility, will have a large population and need great conversion." Heaven, in its mercy, has given the venerable elder fifty-three years in the pulpit, with a yet firm step and bright eye, so that he has not only lived to witness the fulfillment of his prophecy, but has shared in the triumphs of faith with a fidelity and complacency enjoyed by few. Dr. Peck has achieved distinction as an author of great ability, as his numerous, popular volumes offered the public attest.
Although many of the uncharitable charge the spiritual advisers of this denomination, with mercenary views as they direct the wanderer on to the New Jerusalem, we find them as a body to possess as little selfishness, and quite as much true, honest, available capacity, and appreciation of the right, as can be found in the same number of men of any creed or profession in the country; and, although some within the writer's acquaintance command a fortune, few a competency, while very many are comparatively poor, thus affording a decisive commentary on the utter want of judgment of the illiberal. And, yet, beset, with every inducement, with no hope of personal advantage or emolument from their ministerial labors, and pressed by wants that pride conceals from the careless eye, how rarely do they wield their talents for money,
position or power! And yet when a whole life has been spent to diffuse those sublime, simple truths which form the basis of all morals, how little security does the purity of character or the claim of age offer from the assaults of parishioners whose liturgy seems but a desire to exile their pastor, and whose devotions are the convenience or but the fashion of the hour!
Anning Owen was a son of Vulcan, a stout, swarthy, genuine specimen of earnestness, who spoke all he knew and sometimes more, in the most impulsive manner. He remarked often, that he preached as he hammered out hot iron, to make an impression. His sermons were always extempore; after he warmed up in his favorite subject, his eye grew animated, his voice full and clear, as he displayed eloquence of a high order.
The Methodists labored under many disadvantages. The self-sacrificing and sometimes boisterous itinerants who were toiling for their race merely for the sake of good, and no possible hope of pecuniary gain, with few thanks, little or no remuneration, often with scanty fare, were sometimes accused of ignorance, bigotry, and fanaticism, and yet under the effective appeals of Elder Owen, much of this common error was dispersed, while the church, augmenting in numbers, surpassed every other denomination in the extent of its prosperity. The loud "hallelujahs", "glories", and "amens", which pealed forth from the preachers in such sharp accents as to be heard at least half a mile from the stand at this period, was so different from the sober mode of worship of the more numerous Presbyterians, that many thought them crazy, and in one or two instances attempted to enforce silence by violent measures.
A good story is told of Elder Owen by an old uncle
of the writer, who heard him preach at a quarterly meeting, held at the court-house in Wilkes Barre, in the winter of 1806. Never closing his sermons without reminding sinners of the danger of brimstone, it had at length become so proverbial that the boys in a sportive mood (for there were sons of Belial in those days as well as now), had a living illustration of the virtues of his doctrine, at the elder's expense. In the south wing of the old court-house there was a large fire-place, in which smoked a huge beechen back-log. Behind this some of the boys had placed a yellow roll of the genuine article before the meeting commenced in the evening. The elder--or the Son of Thunder as he was called--opened his battery with more force than usual upon the citadel of Satan. He began to grow excited while elucidating the words of his text, "he that believeth not shall be damned". The flames of the fire began to penetrate the region where lay concealed the warming and wicked brimstone, the fumes of which spread through the room in the most provoking manner. The elder, with such a re-enforcement to his brain and his battery, felt inspired. Although ignorant of the joke the devil was playing upon him, he soon appreciated the odor of his resistless agent. Turning his eye upon the unconverted portion of the congregation, he exclaimed in a loud voice, "Sinners! unless you are converted you will be cast in the bottomless pit." Pausing a moment as he glanced indignantly upon the tittering ones who were enjoying the scene in an eminent degree, he raised himself to his utmost height, elevated his voice to a still loftier key, and at the same time bringing down his clinched fist with a powerful stroke upon the judge's desk, cried out "Sinners, why don't you repent, don't you smell hell?"
It may be interesting to note that in 1833 the long-remembered patriarch, Lorenzo Dow, with his long white beard and imposing equipage, in passing down the valley to his Southern death-bed, preached to a vast assemblage
in a barn in Providence. This barn was blown over by the great gale in 1834.
FORMATION OF ANTHRACITE COAL
To the geologist or the philosopher, coal-formation affords great scope for theory and reflection. The generally accepted supposition of scientific men, is that the coal-fields, once densely covered with trees huge as the California giants, were submerged by volcanic action, forming a vast lake into which whirled chaotic material, separated in the molten body into alternate layers of coal, sandstone, and shale. Different seams or veins of coal are thought to have been formed at different periods in the world's history, but under similar circumstances, thus alternately elevated or depressed. The progressive character of fossils appearing in separate strata, proves their deposit at different periods; and it is more than probable that centuries passed between their respective formations. Vegetable and organic remains found in one stratum, have no analogy in another. In the igneous or fire-rock no carboniferous element enters, while coal, viewed with a microscope, delineates the carbonized character of its origin. Many hundreds of extinct species of plants have been recognized in the secondary series of rocks. The fern is found in the greatest abundance, while the branching mosses--the calamities--the sigillaria--the cycades, and the palm appear in ceaseless profusion.
Geological examinations made in the Lackawanna coal basin seem to favor the idea that the rocks of this region, with their intervening coal strata, originally level in position, were crumpled or folded into their present form of alternate basins and ridges by the same tremendous convulsions or slow changes which crowded up the Alleghany ranges; and that, since then, the action of diluvial and atmospheric agencies have worn away the upper or coal-bearing strata on most of the high and exposed points
of the Moosic hills and mountains, leaving them only in the troughs or depressions which were sheltered by the mountain rock and left in the position now found by the miner. The contraction or cooling of the anthracite lakes, gave the dipping or broken appearance to many of the veins of coal. Coal destitute of bitumen, or hard coal, found only in a minute portion of the earth's surface, everywhere in the carboniferous series presents the same phenomena of fossils. The fern being identified in species and genus to all those found in coal bottoms, it is inferred that the earth in its primitive period was insular, and that the rank vegetable growing then was the result of the internal heat of the globe, which at that time was too uniform to affect the latitudes. In fact, the immense quantity of fossils brought to light along the Lackawanna, the remains of that by-gone time, attest how numerous the herd, and how hot and fertile the clime of that ancient epoch.
In the preparation of vegetable matter for coal, heat, pressure, and water, were probably the controlling agents employed millions of years ago in the great cooking laboratory of nature.
ORGANIC REMAINS IN COAL STRATA
Vegetable fossil and organic remains have been found in various mines in the valley--more especially in the townships of Providence, Blakeley, and Carbondale--imbedded in the inclosing strata, preserving every original outline except the change effected by the vast pressure, from the rounded to the flattened form.
A large turtle family, fossil sea-shells, and fish resembling the gar-pike, or common pickerel, is size and shape, were found in Providence during the summer of 1856, by Captain Martin, while engaged in sinking a shaft, at the depth of some 200 feet. These were incased in the carboniferous strata in such relation to the older, deeper
rock as to lead to the belief that the fish had once inhabited an open space of water communicating with a larger body or with the ocean itself, which by some upheaval of the earth became isolated, the waters of the lake were drained, while the fish perished and, intermingled with sand, shale, and stone, were translated into the petrified specimens, now unresistingly summoned by the miner's drill.
One large fish, more than a foot in diameter, and six feet in length, its fins, scales, and general structure yet distinctly recognized upon the stereotyping stone, was exhumed from its sepulcher, and blackened and brainless as it was found, takes us back to a period unknown and remote. This fish was broken while being blasted out by the miner, so that the skillful anatomist could soon determine, by the nature as well as by the number of the exposed vertebrae, its true species.
Rain-marks, foot-prints, stigmaria,and other characteristics of the coal-measure, have been furnished in interesting abundance, within a comparatively small space, during the progress of the excavation at the shaft of the Van Stork Coal Company in Providence.
In 1831, while Captain Stott was driving a drift in the mines at Carbondale for the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company, the roof of the mine, becoming dislocated from the parent earth, fell in over a considerable surface, furnishing the richest aspect of vegetable and organic fossils. Deep in the fractured interstratifying stone and slate were imprinted innumerable delicate impressions of leaves, flowers, broken limbs, of the palm leaf and the fern, so remarkable in size as to indicate that the temperature of the earth's surface at the period of their growth was far too heated for human life; fallen trunks and branches of trees, so singularly dark and beautiful, that Daguerre could neither imitate nor improve; huge outlines and tracks of the ichthyosauri--the giant lizard, curious in anatomical structure and strength; snakes, ribbed and
rounded, whose like is rarely known, and whose analogues are only found near the tropics; a class of amphibians intermediate between reptiles and fish--the batrachian tribe--the mammoth frog, foot-marks of which were displayed, exhibiting five toes before and four behind, marking their presence and passage in other times; all so distinctly and so terribly delineated upon this master-press of nature, as to convey to the mind some faint idea of the monsters once swarming the jungles, and whose courts on the low, wet, warm marshes were suddenly adjourned by the great phenomena of coal-formation.
MINERALS AND MINING
The Lackawanna and Wyoming anthracite coal basin, walled by low ranges of the Alleghany, and drained by the placid Lackawanna and Susquehanna, is about fifty miles in length and averages four in width. Veins of the purest anthracite emerge from the foot of the mountains, its entire length and breadth. The lower strata, sunk at a mean depth of four or five hundred feet beneath the surface in mid-valley, show themselves higher up the mountain side than those located nearer the surface of the valley.
In its mineralogical character, the Lackawanna valley is both varied and productive. Filled with the coal-measure from side to side, it not only presents a series of slate and shale interstratified with anthracite from a few inches to as many feet in thickness, but iron ore and limestone commingle and enrich the rugged acres of the intervale. Four of the great coal seams in the Lackawanna Basin, viz.: the 7, 8, 10, and 12 feet veins (least thickness), furnish a total thickness of 37 feet or 44,000 tons per acre.
The productive character of this coal basin is exhibited by the following table prepared by Professor Rogers,
with especial reference to the coal-bearing in the township of Providence:--
Least Thickness Good Coal Yield of good Coal per Acre
5 feet 3 feet 4,000 tons
7 " 4-1/2 " 7,000 "
10 " 7-1/2 " 12,000 "
6 " 3 " 5,000 "
12 " 9 " 15,000 "
8 " 6 " 10,000 "
6 " 4-1/2 " 7,000 "
54 " 37-1/2 " 60,000 "
These seven veins alone yield 60,000 towns per acre. Twelve distinct, separate beds underlying the entire valley, furnish about sixty feet of available coal,--a supply ample for many generations, or until the date of ballooning shall bring forth a new discovery calculated to supersede the coal fire, as the old beechen back-log of times gone by has vanished into ashes.
While the center of the Northern and Lackawanna coal-field is regarded as being near Pittston--the bed of the ancient caldron once glowing with anthracite--mines were first successfully worked at Carbondale at least one thousand feet above the level of Pittston coal. About twenty-five miles in length may be considered as the extent of this field, running northeast and southwest with the great Appalachian chain.
COAL LANDS FIFTY YEARS AGO
Between the villages of Hyde Park and Providence bristles from the road-side a clump of pines, swinging their green limbs over a low, faded cottage, once made attractive by the presence of a young and loving heiress. To the south of this cottage a few yards opens a glen, so worn by the rapid stream dashing through it after a heavy rain or sudden snow-thaw, as to make it look almost cavernous. Down this rock-rimmed ravine, where it expands into the ancient meadow of Capoose, there lived an
old gentleman in 1800, named Stephen Tripp, who owned much of the land in the notch of the mountain, about one mile above this point, called Leggett's Gap.
Upon the brink of Leggett's Creek, passing through this gap, a small grist-mill was erected in 1805 by Joseph Fellows, Sen., the remains of which are yet visible by the road-side, but as the bank upon one side of the creek rose almost vertically into a full mountain, and upon the other ascended quite as abruptly hundreds of feet, covered with the stern hemlock, neither road, team, nor grist could approach the mill with safety, and the enterprise was reluctantly abandoned.
This mountain mill-site, with a quantity of the wild land in the vicinity of the "Notch", Mr. Fellows purchased of Tripp, sixty years ago, for five gallons of whisky; Fellows stipulating in the purchase to pay expense of survey and deed. The commercial worth of whisky being one dollar per gallon, this sale realized about five cents per acre for lands now owned and mined by the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad Company, and worth at least five thousand dollars per acre. Some estimate of the value of coal lands at this period can be formed by the following incident. A then young man from Connecticut, who recently died in the adjoining county of Wayne, was passing along through Slocum Hollow (now Scranton), and observing a prominent cropping of coal by the road-side, asked the owner what it was and what it was good for?
"Wal", replied the owner, who suspected it was no great credit either to his judgment or his pocket to possess such land, "they call it stone-coal, I believe, but I wish the cussed black stuff was off!"
THE DISCOVERY AND INTRODUCTION INTO USE OF ANTHRACITE COAL
When lands passed from the natives to the whites, all knowledge of mineral deposits was rigidly withheld.
Tradition gives a definite place to mines of gold, silver, lead, iron, copper, and coal, in neighborhoods far up in the wilderness where the wild man dwelt in his silent realm, but so carefully did the Indians, who knew less of the crucible than the cupidity of the trader, baffle the whites in their concealment, that their existence or location has become the subject of strange tales. If the men skilled in the lore of the forest were familiar with precious metals or black stones, their worth was taught them by the whites.
Of the value, or even the existence of coal in America, all races were ignorant until about the middle of the seventeenth century. "At Christian Spring (near Nazareth) there was living about the year 1750 to '55 a gunsmith, who, upon application being made him by several Indians to repair their rifles, replied that he was unable to comply immediately; 'for', says he, 'I am entirely bare of charcoal, but as I am now engaged in setting some wood to char it, therefore you must wait several weeks.' This, the Indians (having come a great distance) felt loath to do; they demanded a bag from the gunsmith, and having received it, went away, and in two hours returned with as much stone-coal as they could well carry. They refused to tell where they had procured it."
That portion of Pennsylvania purchased of the Five Nations by the Connecticut Susquehanna Company at Albany, July 11, 1754, for "the sum of two thousand pounds of current money of the province of New York", embraced the Lackawanna and Wyoming coal district. Fourteen years later, November 5, 1768, the same territory was included in the Fort Stanwix purchase of the Indian Nations by the Proprietary Government of Pennsylvania. The strife between Pennsylvania and Connecticut over Wyoming resulted from these purchases.
As early as 1648, iron and copper mines were worked
in an imperfect manner by the Dutch and Swedes, at a small village on the Delaware called Durham, a few miles below Easton; but no mention of coal is made upon any map of Pennsylvania until 1770, when one published by Wm. Schull, of Philadelphia, bears the word "coal" in two places. Pottsville and Minersville are now located upon the points thus indicated.
On the original draft of the "Manor of Sunbury", embracing the entire western side of Wyoming Valley, surveyed in 1768 by Charles Stewart, in the Proprietary interests, appears the brief notation, "stone-coal", without further explanation.
A Yankee named Obediah Gore, who emigrated from Connecticut to Wyoming in February, 1769, began life in the new colony as a blacksmith. Friendly with the remaining natives from motives of policy, he learned of them the whereabouts of black stones, and, being withal a hearty and an experimenting artisan, he succeeded after repeated trials and failures in mastering the coal to his shop purposes the same year. He is believed to have been the first white man to give practical recognition and development to anthracite as a generator of heat. Mr. Gore, afterward an associate judge of Luzerne county, was one of the brave defenders of Forty Fort in 1778, when assailed by the British and their Indian-Tory allies. In the few blacksmith shops in Wyoming Valley and the West Branch Settlement, coal was gradually introduced after its manipulation by Mr. Gore.
When the struggle for American Independence began in 1775, the Proprietary Government of Pennsylvania found itself so pressed for fire-arms, that under the sanction of the Supreme Executive Council two Durham boats were sent up to Wyoming and loaded with coal at Mill Creek, a few miles below the mouth of the Lackawanna, and floated down the Susquehanna to Harris's Ferry (Harrisburg) thence drawn upon wagons to Carlisle and employed in furnaces and forges to supply the defenders
of our country with arms. Thus stone-coal by its patriotic triumphs achieved its way into gradual use.
Beyond the limits of Wyoming, no discoveries of coal were made until 1791. During this year, "a hunter, by the name of Philip Ginther, who had built himself a rough cabin in the forest, on the Mauch Chunk Mountain, being out one day in quest of food for his family, whom he had left at home without any supply, meeting with but poor success, bent his course homeward as night was approaching, considering himself one of the most forsaken of human beings. As he trod slowly over the ground his foot stumbled against something, which by the stroke, was driven before him; observing it to be black, to distinguish which there was just enough light remaining, he took it up, and as he had often listened to the traditions of the country of the existence of coal in the vicinity, it occurred to him that this might be a portion of that 'stone-coal' of which he had heard. He accordingly carefully took it with him to his cabin, and the next day carried it to Colonel Jacob Weiss, residing at what was then known as Fort Allen, now Weissport."
Coal-pits were opened here in May, 1792, by the "Lehigh Coal and Mine Company", which gratuitously distributed the brittle compound into every blacksmith shop in this portion of the State willing to use it.
When the forest began to recede and the fresh charred land engaged the thoughts of the backwoodsman on the Lackawanna, stone-coal had neither value nor recognition among men, with but a single exception.
In 1815, there died an eminent physician and surgeon in Tunkhannock, who had formerly lived in the Lackawanna Valley, and who made the first purchase in the county of Luzerne of the right to mine coal here, of which record evidence is furnished. This was Dr. William Hooker Smith, who made a number of such
purchases for a mere song, between the years of 1792 and 1798.
A bushel of coal was sent to Christian Micksch, a gun-smith in Nazareth, in November, 1798, but after trying it for three or four days by repeated blowing and punching and altering the fire in every possible manner, he grew so impatient at his long, fruitless efforts, that he indignantly threw it into the street, saying to Mr. William Henry, of whom he had purchased a bushel, "I can do nothing with your black stones, and therefore I threw them out of my shop into the street; I can't make them burn. If you want any work done with them, you may do it yourself; everybody laughs at me for being such a fool as to try to make stones burn, and they say that you must be a fool for bringing them to Nazareth."
During General Sullivan's march through Wyoming in 1779, one of his officers wrote of the valley: "The land here is excellent, and comprehends vast mines of coal, pewter, lead, and copperas." The last three named have never been found here. The first few ark-loads of coal, carried from Mauch Chunk to Philadelphia was purchased by the city authorities, placed under the boiler of an engine, where it "put the fire out, while the remainder of the coal was broken up and used for graveling streets."
Knowing that there was value in coal, which, in spite of the universal prejudice against its encroachments upon the old wood-pile and fire, would be made manifest by moral firmness and persistent struggle, and that it would rescue their mountains from oblivion, the Lehigh operators, animated by no hope of immediate remuneration, mined a larger quantity of coal in 1806. The general distrust, however, of using stony fuel for domestic purposes was so prevalent even among intelligent persons, that comparatively none could be sold, little accepted as a gift,
thus compelling these gentlemen to suspend operations, and calmly wait and watch for the public mind to become schooled in the treasures of the Lehigh. Men, however upright and honorable, who talked of its introduction into common use in Philadelphia, were deemed fanatics, and ridiculed accordingly; those attempting to sell the stuff for cash, compromised their integrity, and in some instances barely escaped arrest and maltreatment from the hands of the populace.
The late Hon. Charles Miner came to Wyoming in 1799, and for thirteen years afterward edited the Luzerne Federalist, a weekly newspaper published at Wilkes Barre, and conducted with such marked ability and success, that he soon became widely known as one of the strongest and most pleasing writers in the State. An accomplished scholar, an ingenious advocate, he combated the unsparing prejudices of the bigoted with an earnestness calculated to correct rather than offend.
No man labored with more unselfish fervor to unmuffle the coal-field or acquaint the masses with the grandeur of its character, than did the author of the History of Wyoming. Mankind, ever ready to embrace error, are slow to perceive great truths. The fallacy of employing stones gleaned from the mountain a hundred miles away for fuel, was so great, that the gray-headed octogenarian and the beardless youth--with all the intermediate conditions of life--laughed at the joke attempted to played upon them. Old head and young ones for once shared harmonious convictions as they arranged themselves as a unit on the orthodox side. Lectures delivered gratuitously explaining the power and character of the new combustible; certificates from Wyoming blacksmiths attesting in superiority; newspaper articles written with ability and patience, brought from the timid unbelievers not even a dull acknowledgment or approval. Or if a few assented to its possible future use in some capacity or another, they blended their assent with such a negative spirit as to
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