THE PROUD QUEEN OF THE NORTH SUSQUEHANNA—FOUNDED BY JOHN DURKEE—FIRST SETTLERS—FIRST IMPROVEMENTS—FIRST HOUSE WAS ABBOTT'S, CORNER OF MAIN AND NORTHAMPTON STREETS—FORTS—REMINISCENCES OF THE EARLY PEOPLE AND BUILIDINGS—BANKS, FACTORIES AND INDUSTRIES—CITY IMPROVEMENTS,—ETC.
THE important city and the first settlement in Luzerne county is the one descriptive phrase applicable to this city. A beautiful city, queen of the Susquehanna north of Harrisburg to its source: a crown-jewel on the east bank of the river and in the center of the far-famed Wyoming valley; the county seat of Luzerne county, the center and hub from where flows out in every direction by electric and steam railroads, her rich trade, and the daily and hourly ever swelling stream of visitors for business and pleasure; a city truly, a rich and beautiful city, now invested with all that you may find in the way of luxuries in the great metropolis, as well as the forest trees, the flowing peaceful river and the pure air that comes of a rural life; where is elegance, refinement and culture; where there are more families of great wealth, comparatively to numbers, than can be found in any other city in the United States. A city that never had a "boom" but that now is forging ahead at a marvelous step, and on every hand are suburban boroughs that are progressing rapidly. Here is the capital of a county that is of itself a rich and distinct empire.
The settlement of Wilkes-Barre by whites began within the limits of the present town. According to a certified warrant many of Wilkes-Barre, which has been consulted, the land now embraced within the township limits was granted to the following named persons: Wilbur Bennett, Ebenezer Bowman, Samuel Bowman, Robert Bennett, Lord Butler, Hugh Conner, Aziel Dana, Anderson Dana, Amelia Durkee, Jabez Fish, Jesse Fell, Hugh Forseman, Matthias Hollenback, Rev. Jacob Johnson, William Ross, Jonathan Slocum, Stephen Tuttle, Andrew Wickeizer, Conrad Wickeizer and Elizabeth Wigton.
Prior to 1772 the small population being busily engaged in the pioneer steps of agriculture, there was no organized local government, nor was such needed under the existing circumstances. Owing to the unsettled condition of civil affairs, arising from disputed proprietorship, the local government was inseparable from that of the five townships as organized by the Susquehanna company in 1773; each of which was entitled to three representatives whose duty it was to meet in Wilkes-Barre every three months for the settlement of any disputes which arose from time to time. June 2, 1773. Maj. John Durkee, Capt. Zebulon Butler and Obadiah Gore, Jr., residents of Wilkes-Barre, were appointed to serve in such capacity until the first Monday of the following December.
The laws were not elaborate, though sometimes enforced with undue zeal. They required that the people live orderly, soberly and peaceably, and they were impartially executed. Idleness and disorder were punished at the whipping-post and [p.471] at the stocks. The more serious crimes of burglary and adultery were sometimes attended with exclusion from the community or forfeiture of property.
Lands in Wilkes-Barre, as the town was then bounded, were very cheap in the early days. From records of sales in 1772-3 it appears that lots brought the following prices: July 6, 1772, Silas Gore sold to Jonathan Stowell of Ashford, Conn., for £20, one whole settling right, which included "the home or house lot No. 28, the meadow lot No. 50 and the third division or back lot No. 44." August 21, 1772, Asa Stephens sold to Enoch Judd for £43 one settling right, "being meadow lot No. 20, house lot No. 27, and back lot No. 8." February 22, 1773, Elijah Loomis, of Harrington, Litchfield county, Conn., sold to Elisha Swift a whole right, including "town lot No. 2, meadow lot 28 and back lot No. 26," for £100. The old Wilkes-Barre burying ground with an area of nearly three acres, was purchased in 1772 for £9 10d.; and in that burial place were laid to rest many whose names will live in the history of Wyoming long after the monuments erected to their memory shall have crumbled into dust—the fathers and mothers and defenders of the valley.
At the first town meeting for the town of Westmoreland, held March 1 and 2, 1774, Wilkes-Barre was made a district of the said town, which included all of the settlements from the Delaware river to fifteen miles beyond the Susquehanna, and from the Lehigh north to Tioga Point.
In 1776 a stuggle occurred between Wilkes-Barre and Kingston for the county seat of Westmoreland, which, during that year, was created a county by the assembly of Connecticut. The contest terminated disastrously to the last-named settlement. The first court of the new county was held at Fort Wyoming, on the river bank at the foot of Northampton street. From 1778 to 1782, when the Connecticut jurisdiction ceased, the courts were held in Fort Wilkes-Barre on the public square.
In the measures taken by the authorities of the town of Westmoreland for the public weal and progress, residents of Wyoming, the Wilkes-Barre district bore an important and conspicuous part, holding many offices; but the civil history of Westmoreland, embracing so extensive a territory, can not be treated in an article relating to the township or city of Wilkes-Barre, which by a decree of the county court in 1790 became one of the eleven original townships of Luzerne county. Those honored with positions of trust in the town of Westmoreland were Zebulon Butler, Anderson Dana and other residents of Wilkes-Barre. Capt. Butler was chosen moderator at the first and several succeeding town meetings.
After a period of rivalry on the part of the citizens of Kingston, Wilkes-Barre was regarded as the most important point in the town, and there most of the public business was transacted. At the second town meeting, held April 1 and 12, 1774, it was voted "that for ye present ye tree that now stands northerly from Capt. Butler's house shall be ye town sign-post." This house stood on the corner of Northampton and River streets, in the town plot, and the tree stood on the river bank.
This matter of a legal sign-post, "says Miner, "is of weightier import than, without explanation, might be imagined. Newspapers were little known in those days, save in the larger cities. It had, therefore, been enacted that a signpost be established in each town, on which notices of public sale, stray animals taken up, etc., should be nailed or placed to render them legal. It is proper to add that, as an accompaniment to the sign-post, which was also the legal whipping-post, a pair of stocks was provided for a punishment of the guilty and warning to deter from crime. These (now abjured) monuments of civilization and law were derived from England, and brought over, nay, almost venerated by our Puritan fathers." That this tree had previously been used as a public sign-post is evident from a notice dated November 18, 1772, which can be seen at the rooms of the Historical and Geological society. It is a call for a town meeting of the proprietors, and shows the perforations of the tacks which held it to the tree. By the operation of the [p.472] Trenton decree of December 30, 1782, the jurisdiction of Wyoming was transferred from Connecticut to Pennsylvania, and the town of Westmoreland ceased to exist.
Upon the erection of Luzerne county a strife arose between Wilkes-Barre and Forty Fort, in Kingston, as to which should be the county seat town, which, for various reasons, was ultimately decided in favor of the former. From 1782 to 1786 no courts had been held at Wilkes-Barre, as under the Trenton decree Northumberland was the seat of justice of what had been Westmoreland. The first court of the newly-created Luzerne county was held May 27, 1787, at the residence of Zebulon Butler, at the corner of River and Northampton streets, the site of the present residence of Hon. Stanley Woodward. The public offices were in the building for several years, in charge of the celebrated Timothy Pickering, who performed the multifarious duties of prothonotary, register, recorder and clerk of the courts.
The civil history of Wilkes-Barre under the Luzerne county organization is even more difficult to trace than that of a prior date, there being no regularly kept records in existence.
Wilkes-Barre township has been reduced as follows at the dates given: By the erection of Wilkes-Barre borough, March 17, 1806; by the erection of Covington township in January, 1818; by the setting off of a portion to form part of Plains township, November 10, 1851; by the erection of Bear Creek township, April 7, 1806; and by the erection of the city of Wilkes-Barre, May 4, 1871.
As a matter of interest, the names of some of the early constables are appended, though it has been found impossible to complete the list. The successive constables elected by the combined vote of the township and borough, previous to 1819, were as follows: Josiah Lewis, 1806; Enoch Ogden, 1807; Jonathan Bulkley, 1808; Isaac Carpenter, 1809; Peter Yarrington, 1810; Joseph Vonsick, 1811; Andrew Coget, 1812; John Hancock, 1813-5; Phineas Walker, 1816; James Gridley, 1818. The first high constable elected was George Griffin, a member of the Luzerne county bar. He did not qualify, for the reason that it was decided that the two positions were incompatible. A special election was ordered to fill the vacancy thus occasioned, and Peter Yarrington was elected and sworn in. The first constable elected by the voters of the borough for "Wilkes-Barre, county town," was Barnet Ulp, in 1819. John Hancock, son of Jonathan Hancock, was his deputy.
The Wilkes-Barre town plot was surveyed and dedicated in 1772, by Col. John Durkee. It was near the center of the township north and south, on the river, and embraced 200 acres of land, laid out in eight squares, with a diamond (the public square) in the center. By the opening of Washington and Franklin streets these squares were afterward divided into sixteen parallelograms.
March 17, 1806, the borough of Wilkes-Barre was duly incorporated, embracing the town plot and the public common bordering the river, according to the following survey:
"Beginning at a stake at low water mark, on the south side of the northeast branch of the Susquehanna river, and running thence south thirty-four degrees forty minutes east, ninety-four perches, to a stake on the main street; thence on the south side of said street south thirty-four degrees forty minutes east, sixty-four perches and two-tenths of a perch, to the south corner of said town plot; thence on the southeast side of said back street, and continuing that course fifty-five degrees twenty minutes, four hundred and five (405) perches, to a post where that line intersects the north side of Jacob Johnson's lot; thence on the line of said lot north fifty-one degrees thirty minutes west, ninety-nine perches to a post; thence south fifty-five degrees twenty minutes west, one hundred and eighteen perches, to a post on the north side of North street; thence north thirty-four degrees forty minutes west, fifty-six perches, to an iron bolt in a rock at low water mark of the said Susquehanna river; thence down the said river the several courses thereof at low water mark to the place of beginning"
By act of assembly approved March 13, 1847, the borough limits were changed as follows:
[p.473] "That portion of the borough lying northeasterly of North street, which runs southeasterly and northwesterly below the tannery of Bowman & Lewis in said borough is separated from the borough and attached to the township of Wilkes- Barre, and the upper or northeasterly side of said North street extending from the Susquehanna river to the southeasterly line of the borough shall be the north- eastern boundary, and the line between the borough and township of Wilkes- Barre."
By an act passed in 1868 the limits were a second time changed, as follows:
"Beginning at a point on the Susquehanna river, at low water mark, in line with the northerly side of North street; thence along North street to the road leading to Coal brook; thence along the northerly side of said road about twenty rods; thence by a line nearly parallel with Canal street to the southerly side of the towing path of the canal; thence along the southerly side of the towing path of the North Branch canal to a point in line with the division between lots number 22 and 23 of certified Wilkes-Barre; thence along that line about one hundred and fifty-three rods toward the river Susquehanna; thence by a line parallel with River street to a point on the river aforesaid, at low water mark; thence up the said river to the beginning.
By an ordinance approved May 2, 1870, the following territory was added to the borough:
Beginning at the southwesterly corner of the borough, thence southwesterly by the prolongation of the southwesterly line of the borough to a point on the westerly side of the Careytown road; thence southwesterly and along the westerly side of said road to a point opposite the division line of the lands of E. W. Sturdevant and of the estate of Mary Richards, deceased; thence southeasterly by the said division line and the prolongation thereof to a point on the easterly side of the roadway of the Lehigh & Susquehanna railroad; thence northerly along the easterly side of said railroad roadway to the westerly bank of Coal brook; thence northerly along the westerly bank of said brook to the southerly bank of Mill creek; thence westerly along the southerly bank of Mill creek to the Susquehanna river at low-water mark; thence southwesterly down the river at low water mark to the northwesterly corner of the borough, and thence by the northerly, easterly and southerly lines of the borouoh to the point of beginning.
By an ordinance approved October 29, 1870, another addition was made to the territory of the borough, as follows:
"Beginning at a point on the easterly line of the borough in the prolongation of the southerly line of Stanton street or road toward the borough lines; thence by said line and the southerly line of said Stanton street or road southeasterly to the easterly side of the Empire road; thence northeasterly along the easterly side of said Empire road to the northerly side of Coal street; northwesterly to a point in the prolongation of the line between lands of Mrs. Ellen J. Wells and the Hollenback Coal company; thence by said line northwesterly to a point on the easterly line of the borough in the line of the prolongation of the southerly side of Union street, and thence by the easterly line of the borough to the point of beginning."
The act of creating the borough did not separate it from the township of Wilkes- Barre nor constitute it an independent election district, but left its citizens still inhabitants of the township, its voters being voters at the township elections for the township officers until 1818 or 1819, when the borough ceased to have any connection with the township election and from that time forward elected its own constable under the somewhat lengthy title of "Constable of Wilkes-Barre County-town;" but it was not until 1835 or 1836 that the borough was made a separate election district and ceased to vote with the township at general election. The first mentioned of the two changes above referred to was effected by an action of the voters in Wilkes-Barre township outside the borough limits, who took possession of the election board and ballot boxes and denied the right of any resident of the borough [p.474] to vote for township officers; and at the succeeding session of the legislature the borough was empowered to elect its own constable, of which right the voters availed themselves as above stated.
Jesse Fell was named in the act of incorporation as a commissioner to proclaim the first borough election, which was held May 6, 1806. There is no record of the number of votes polled, but it has been estimated at about sixty. As the result of that election Jesse Fell became the first burgess and Mathias Hollenback, Roswell Wells, Lord Butler, Arnold Colt, Nathan Palmer, Charles Miner and Samuel Bowman constituted the first council. May 14, 1806, the first meeting of the borough council took place, and a more efficient board never met. They were all first-class men socially and in business life. Messrs. Hollenback and Butler were the principal merchants of the town. Messrs. Wells and Palmer were lawyers of ability. Charles Miner, the subsequent historian of Wyoming, was a printer and the editor of the Federalist, and a leader in borough affairs as long as he remained a member of the council. Arnold Colt, a blacksmith by trade, was a man of sterling qualities. Peleg Tracy was appointed clerk. Soon after organizing, the council adopted a series of rules for the government of its proceedings, the last of which imposed a fine of 25 cents upon the councilman for non-attendance at regularly authorized meetings. These regulations were thirty-two in number, and are said to have been drawn up by Charles Miner. Rule 32 first had application in the case of Col. Hollenback, who was absent at the second meeting of the council and was accordingly fined.
Under an act of the legislature of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the regulation of boroughs, passed in 1851, a new charter was granted to Wilkes-Barre borough at the April term of court in 1855, under which it existed until 1871.
The city of Wilkes-Barre was incorporated by an act of assembly approved May 24, 1871, and included the borough of Wilkes-Barre and all of the township of Wilkes- Barre lying west of the Empire road, projected northerly to the township line of Plains and southerly to the township line of Hanover. It was divided into fifteen wards.
The first municipal election resulted in the choice of the following officers: Ira M. Kirkendall, mayor; F. D. Vose, high constable; Isaac S. Osterhout, Adolph Voigt and J. A. Rippard, auditors. The following named gentlemen composed the first board of councilmen: J. E. Clarke, M. Regan, J. C. Williamson, H. B. Hillman, Hiram Wentz, William A. Swan, Walter C. Sterling, H. C. Fry, George H. Parrish, Charles A. Miner, C. P. Kidder, Joseph Schilling, Anthony Helfrich, C. B. Dana and John Gilligan.
The following named persons have served successively as mayor: 1871-3, Ira M. Kirkendall; 1874-6, M. A. Kearney; 1877-9, W. W. Loomis; Thomas Brodrick 1880-6; C. B. Sutton 1886-92. Present mayor, F. M. Nichols, elected in April, 1892.
In 1772 the population of Wilkes-Barre was so small that there were within its borders only five white women; but during the year several of the settlers went East to bring out their families. The whole number of buildings in 1778 was twenty-six, and twenty-three of these were burned by the Pennamites during that year. The population of the village in 1800 is not definitely known; but the entire number of taxables in the township, as then bounded, the previous year was 121. At the date of the incorporation of the borough (1806) the number of persons living within its limits is said to have been about 500, and there were only forty-eight houses between North and South streets. The borough had attained to a population of 732 ad 1820. In 1830 it was 1,201; in 1840, 1,718; in 1850, 2,723; in 1860, 4,259. About this time the borough began that rapid growth which caused the number of its inhabitants to reach 10,174 in 1870 and to increase to 23,340 in 1880; 1890, 37,718, out of a total of 201,120 for Luzerne county; and from the different school censuses and other semi-official sources it is estimated that at present (October, 1892) the city has a population of over 45,000.
[p.477] The history of the city of Wilkes-Barre has never been written. Those early events which have made its name and location famous to all readers of the pioneer history of Pennsylvania have been recorded from time to time in the various works relating to Wyoming and its tragic past, and isolated articles have appeared which treated of special elements in its growth and prosperity, while a few of the operations incident to its earlier advancement have formed no uninteresting portions of the words above referred to; but the history of the city, as a fact, as a separate identity, remains to be unfolded. Of course, practically for half a century after the first settlement it had really no other history than that of the valley, of which it was a part and parcel merely. Even after it became a borough it was still a part of the township, and therefore it really had no distinct history of its own until it began to approach the importance of a city.
Those events, which occurred within the limits of the present city subsequent to the first settlement of Wyoming, and during the trying periods of the Revolutionary and Pennamite wars, were so intimately related to others whose locale was up and down and across the river, in adjoining villages and townships, that it has been found impossible to consider them separately from those other events which, with these, formed the material for the thrilling history of Wyoming. As a remarkable chain of tragic occurrences they have, in their entirely, excited remark from the pens of distinguished historians, poets and novelists on both sides of the Atlantic. They have taken their place in the annals of the commonwealth as without parallel for the many terrible elements which rendered the beautiful Wyoming valley an abiding place for horror, rapine and murder, and to the general history of the county the reader is referred for such record as they have seemed to deserve at our hands. The erection of Forts Durkee, Wyoming and Wilkes-Barre within the borders of the town plot, Fort Ogden, just within the border of Plains and Fort Jenkins on the Wilkes-Barre mountain; the capture of John Franklin in 1787, and of Timothy Pickering, June 26, 1788; the zeal of Wilkes-Barreans in the Revolutionary cause; the burning of the village, July 4, 1788; the capture of Frances Slocum by the Indians and her subsequent interesting story; the sojourn of the Duke of Orleans, the Duke of Montpensier and the Count of Beaujolais, French exiles, at Arndt's tavern in June, 1797, and other noteworthy occurrences, are most of them among those referred to above, and all help to form the events in a history as striking and as full of tragic interest as that of any part of the United States. Those events of which the forts mentioned were the centers would, if they could be written of as isolated occurrences, properly belong to the history of the township and present city of Wilkes-Barre. Those events and measures which have contributed to the growth and prosperity of Wilkes-Barre successively as a frontier settlement, a charming country village, a thriving borough and a busy city, it is designed to consider in the following pages.
"The leading families of Wilkes-Barre," says Clark, "are nearly all direct descendants of the pioneers of Wyoming valley, and are cultured to an enviable degree. * * * A few of the familiar names may be cited as exhibiting the social status of the city. Here is the Ross family, historical as descended from Gen. William Ross; the Hollenbacks, tracing with pride to the old colonel, of whom every household in northern Pennsylvania has heard; the Butlers, from Gen. Zebulon Butler; the Dorrance family, from Col. Benjamin Dorrance; the Pettebones, from Noah Pettebone, an old hero in the early struggles; the Johnsons, from Rev. Jacob Johnson; the Myers family; Shoemaker family; the Denisons, from Col. Nathan Denison; the Swetlands, McKerachans and Careys; the Ransom and Jenkins families; Inmans, Ives and Abbotts; Blackmans and Starks; the Harding and Dana descendants, now prominent in local history; Beach, Jameson, Perkins, Searle and Gore; Young, Durkee, Sill, Fitch, Atherton, Harvey, Pierce, Gere, Gaylord, Miner, and a long line of others too numerous to mention." Mr. Steuben Butler, a son of the colonel commanding, and a daughter of Col. Denison (Mrs. Sarah Abbott) who was second [p.478] in command on the field of massacre, are the last living immediate descendants of that fated band of heroic men who fought so desperately on the plains at Wyoming in opposing the savage invaders of the valley in 1778.
There were numbers of Young men ready to embark in mercantile enterprises in the new territory to the full extent of their means, anticipating large return profits for their limited outlays. The first settlers brought their first year's supplies with them, and a merchant would have found small resultant profits who depended upon the early settlers alone for his patronage; but here was a promising field for Indian commerce—a great volume of the peltry trade, extending from the Nanticoke falls up the Susquehanna river to Seneca lake and thence to Niagara, the central point of the Indian traffic in furs—both before and after the Revolutionary struggle.
It is pretty certain that there were Indian traders in Wyoming before the first advent of the Yankee colonists in 1763, and subsequently in 1769; but of these traders there is no record among the archives of the Susquehanna company, though it is a well established fact that John Jacob Astor visited the valley as early as 1775, and made the tour to Niagara with Matthias Hollenback as his guide and partner in trade. It was during this journey that Mr. Hollenback marked out his future program as a trader from Wilkes-Barre to Niagara. He came to the valley from Lebanon county, whither his father had come from Virginia, and another branch of the family had settled in Montgomery county. It is quite certain that Mr. Hollenback kept a store on South Main street, just below the corner of Northampton, previous to the battle of July 3, 1778; and this store was kept after the restoration of peace up to about 1820, when it was removed to the new brick store of George M. Hollenback. Mr. Hollenback was the first regular merchant of Wilkes-Barre, and one of only two merchants in Westmoreland in 1781. His business extended for many years after the war up the Susquehanna river to Niagara, with branches at Wysox, Tioga, and a fur trading house at Niagara, in which he had succeeded John Jacob Astor in 1783.
After the peace of 1783 and the return of the fugitive settlers to Wilkes-Barre there was no lack of storekeepers. Among the first if not the very first was Lord Butler, on the corner of River and Northampton streets. This establishment was continued up to l820. About the same time John P. Schott opened a retail store on River street between Lord Butler's and South street, but did not continue long in trade. As early as 1795, or perhaps earlier, Thomas Wright and Thomas Duane opened a store in Wilkes-Barre, on the corner of the public square and North Main street, which in 1801 was removed to Pittston Ferry and ruacle an adjunct of Wright's "Old Forge." In 1800 Rossett & Doyle opened quite an establishment on the corner of Market and River streets, which they continued to 1803 or 1804. They were succeeded by Jacob and Joseph L. Suitan, who in 1816 removed to the corner of Franklin and Market streets, where they flourished for many years on the ground where now stands the Wyoming bank. In 1803 Allen Jack came from the north of Ireland to Wilkes-Barre and opened a store on South Main street in the residence of Dr. M. Covell, where he sold goods until his death, in 1814.
In 1840 Benjamin Perry kept a small store on the corner of Northampton and Main streets, and on the opposite corner Nathan Palmer dispensed dry goods and groceries. Both these establishments were short-lived. Mr. Palmer sold out to Zebulon Butler, who discontinued the business after a brief period. Ziba Bennett came from Newton (now Elmira), N. Y., in 1815, and began trade in company with Matthias Hollenback. In 1826 he embarked in business singly, on North Main street, where he continued in trade until his death, in 1878, having been connected with the mercantile business of Wilkes-Barre over sixty years, and having enjoyed the distinction of being recognized as the oldest merchant in Luzerne county.
These were the principal storekeepers of that early period, when the goods were brought from Philadelphia to Harrisburg by wagons and shipped in Durham boats up the Susquehanna to Wilkes-Barre.
[p.479] From 1800 to 1802 Joseph Hitchcock was the leading builder, and was succeeded by George Chahoon, who did a very large business up to 1816.
In the early days hominy blocks were plenty in the township. The necessity for these rude appliances was done away with in 1782 by the erection of a grist- mill on Mill creek, near the river—the extreme northern city limits. The builder was James Sutton, who had previously erected mills in Kingston and Exeter townships.
In 1804 there were six distilleries in Wilkes-Barre township. A shipyard was established on the public common, and the construction of ships was begun in the hope that they could be navigated to the ocean by way of the Susquehanna, and there disposed of profitably. In 1803 a small ship named the "Franklin," in honor of John Franklin, was built and reached the ocean in safety. A stock company was organized, and begun operations in 1811; and early in the following year a vessel named the "Luzerne," of between fifty and sixty tons measurement, was finished. The builder was Mr. Mack, but J. P. Arndt was the principal proprietor. It was launched early in April, and a few days later started on its voyage down the river, only to be dashed to pieces on the rocks at Conawaga falls, near Middletown. The loss of this vessel was a disaster, not only to its proprietor, but to many who had hoped to drive a profitable trade in timber, and to others who hoped to reap profit from the sale of lots when the ship-building interest should become permanently established. But like many another alluring project before and since, this had failed, and no more ships were built at Wilkes-Barre.
A small cut-nail manufactory was established by Francis McShane in 1811, and for several years a somewhat extensive wholesale and retail business was carried on. There were other enterprises, which were begun early and flourished for longer or shorter periods, leaving their impress on the advancement and prosperity of the village and township, though the men who conceived them have long been dead.
Abel Yarrington kept a house of entertainment, which was probably the first in Wilkes-Barre, on the ground now occupied by the Judge Conyngham homestead, on River street, at a very early period. In his journal John Franklin mentions having been at Mr. Yarrington's, February 28, 1789, and again in the following month. Mr. Yarrington removed to what was afterward the Wyoming hotel, on Main street, below the public square.
Jesse Fell kept the "Old Fell house" before the beginning of this century, it having been erected in 1787 or 1788.
Another old-time inn, and one that had historic associations, was the Arndt tavern, which stood on River street below Northampton, on the site of the residence of E. P. Darling. The proprietor was John P. Arndt, who, with his brother Philip, came from Easton at an early date and engaged in various business enterprises. Thomas H. Morgan succeeded Mr. Arndt, and he in turn was followed by Maj. Orlando Porter, whose stay was brief, he soon taking charge of the then new Phoenix, out of which has grown the Wyoming Valley hotel. The fame of the old tavern declined gradually, and it eventually became a dwelling-house. The old Arndt tavern sheltered the royal fugitives of France, princes of the Orleans-Bourbon line, afterwards Louis Phillippe, king of the French, and his two brothers, the Duke de Montpensier and Count de Beaujolais, on their way to Bradford county, where Robert Morris had purchased for them 1,200 acres of land lying on the Susquehanna river. This place is still known as Frenchtown. Another noted visitor at the old inn, which was pre-eminently the center of social gaiety, was the beautiful and accomplished wife of Herman Blennerhasset, so graphically described by William Wirt in the trial of Aaron Burr for treason. This visit was made subsequent to Burr's conspiracy, which resulted in the ruin of the Blennerhassets.
At a later date a hotel at the corner of Market and River streets was kept by a little round fat man named Richardson, and afterward by a widow Johnson. Thomas Duane, John Paul Scott, and afterward Jonathan Hancock kept a hotel [p.480] where the Luzerne house now is. The latter also kept open house at the corner of Market and Franklin streets. Archippus Parrish kept a hotel on the public square near the site of the Daily Record office. It was set fire to and burned down in warming it for a Washington's birthday ball. Mock's tavern, on the hillside just below South Wilkes-Barre, is well remembered by many of the present citizens of Wilkes-Barre.
When Col. Durkee laid out the town plot of Wilkes-Barre he donated the public square and the common for "the use of the public forever," and they were successively under the jurisdiction of the town of Westmoreland, the township of Wilkes- Barre and the borough and afterward the city of Wilkes-Barre. The original boundaries of the common were probably the same as those of the present day. Years ago it was much wider than now, numerous floods having washed away a portion. "As I first remember this common," wrote Mr. James A. Gordon, "it was a beautiful lawn extending from South street along the river bank to North street. Between Union and North streets, along the base of Redoubt hill, was a low, wet marsh, very imperfectly drained, or rather not drained at all. Immediately at the northern base of the redoubt, lived Mollie McCalpin, in rather a hard-looking shanty, built by herself with the aid of Job Gibbs, who was at that time reputed to be the laziest man in Wilkes-Barre. But Mollie was not the only trespasser upon these public grounds." Mathias Hollenback's warehouse, and another, the property of John P. Arndt, stood on the common; but both disappeared long since, and mother McCalpin's shanty is seen no more. At various times enterprising or speculative business men have attempted to lease portions of the common for the erection of buildings in which to carry on commerce. In 1808 an effort was made by certain parties to drain that part lying between North and Union streets, the ulterior object being to obtain and hold possession of the land for the benefit of the proposed drainers; but that and all subsequent attempts failed, it having been decided that the borough had no authority to lease the common nor any portion of it; and it remains to-day the property of the public, a place much frequented by both residents and visitors, and one of the most attractive spots in the city. Forts Durkee and Wyoming stood on the common, which, because of its historical associations, will long remain a point of interest.
The early settlers were too poor to build a bridge between the settlements of Wilkes-Barre and Kingston, but they had recourse to a cheap and convenient means of crossing, in the way of a ferry. When the borough of Wilkes-Barre was incorporated the borough authorities were granted the exclusive right to maintain a ferry between the two localities, and, until it was superseded by the bridge, it was let annually to enterprising parties, who paid certain rentals into the borough treasury.
The Wilkes-Barre Bridge company was incorporated in 1807. The bridge was completed in 1818, at a cost of $44,000, and they were two years engaged in its construction. In 1819 the pier nearest to Wilkes-Barre was undermined and two reaches of the bridge lost. The damage was repaired by the State at an expense of $13,000. In 1824 the entire bridge was lifted from the piers by a hurricane and deposited on the ice several feet distant from its original location. Fifteen thousand dollars, to be devoted to its repair, was appropriated by the State, which by this added sum became possessed of $28,000 stock in the concern, which was subsequently sold. The bridge, with occasional repairs and renewals of certain portions, existed until 1892, when the superstructure was replaced with the present iron bridge with its street-car track on the south side.
The bell on the old courthouse was made in Philadelphia in 1805, and during the years that followed served to summon the inhabitants of the town to meetings of every kind common to such a community. It called the criminal to receive his sentence, and the man who had not been proven guilty to receive his acquittal; it summoned the people to hear the preaching of the gospel and the eloquence of political advocates; if the people were to be assembled for any purpose the old courthouse [p.481] bell was generally brought into requisition. Various were the uses to which the courthouse was put, serving for all judicial and deliberative proceedings and as a public or town hall. It is said to have been utilized as a dancing academy and as a church, and it is authoritatively stated that a meat market was kept in the basement at one time, as Mistress Tuttle had, before its time, sold cakes and beer in the lower story of the old log building. June 11, 1810, an ordinance was passed by the council of Wilkes-Barre ordaining that until a suitable market house could be erected the cellar of the courthouse should be used as a market place "on and after July 13 next." Two days in the week were set apart as market days, Wednesday and Saturday being so distinguished, and the place was ordered to be kept open from 5 to 10 a.m. and the clerk of the market was authorized to erect one or more stalls, benches and blocks, and provide scales and other articles necessary to the traffic of the place.
In 1777 a post route was opened between Hartford, Conn., and Wyoming.
A postoffice was established at Wilkes-Barre in 1794, with Lord Butler as postmaster. It may easily be conceived that his official labor must have been the reverse of arduous, and that his office, at the corner of River and Northampton streets, must have contrasted greatly with the city postoffice of the present day. But it was not until after the close of the Revolution, and the organization of Luzerne county in 1786, that provision was made for a weekly mail between Wilkes-Barre and Easton. Clark Behee, was the postrider, but whether the first over the route does not appear, though there is evidence that he filled that position in 1897, during which year weekly mails were carried from Wilkes-Barre to Berwick via Nanticoke, Newport and Nescopeck, the return route being via Huntington and Plymouth. At this time Wilkes-Barre enjoyed the distinction of being the only regularly established post town in the county, and mail for residents of the township mentioned was left at certain houses within their limits chosen by the postmaster at Wilkes- Barre.
A mail route was established between Wilkes-Barre and Great Bend in 1798, and another between Wilkes-Barre and Owego, N. Y. The mails were received by the former route once a fortnight and by the latter once a week. Both were sustained by private contributions chiefly, if not entirely, like those of the early settlers before the war. It is said that subscribers to newspapers had to pay at the rate of $2 a year to the mail carrier for the privilege of receiving them. In 1800 Jonathan Hancock was a post rider between Wilkes-Barre and Berwick. In 1803 Charles Mowery and a man named Peck carried the mails on foot between Wilkes-Barre and Tioga, making the trip once in two weeks.
The history of the advance in mail facilities from this time forward is coincident with that of "staging," nearly all the stages having carried the mails. With the first railroad came added mail conveniences, which have been increased from year to year since, until the residents of the city in 1892 can have but a faint conception of the difficulties under which their forefathers labored in this respect one hundred or seventy-five or even fifty years ago.
Fire Department.—W. P. Ryman contributed to the Historical Record concerning the early fire department; the borough of Wilkes-Barre was incorporated in 1806, thirty-seven years after the first house was erected and thirty-four years after the town was first laid out.
Among the first things to occupy the attention of the officers of the new borough was the question of how best to protect it from fire, and the first action taken was at a special meeting of the council called for this purpose March 31, 1807. There were present Mathias Hollenback, president pro tem., Nathan Palmer, Charles Miner, Arnold Colt and Samuel Bowman. On motion of Miner it was "resolved to appoint a committee to obtain information as to the expense of a fire engine."
Messrs. Palmer and Miner were appointed as this committee, but they never made any report except to offer a resolution, which was adopted January 11, 1808, requiring all householders to provide themselves with fire buckets.
[p.482] April 12, 1808, a committee, Consisting of Councilmen Ebenezer Bowman, Jonathan Slocum and J. P. Arndt, were appointed "to purchase the patent right of a water machine for the borough of Wilkes-Barre," and it seems the committee paid $8 for the same.
The fire problem did not long stay solved by the "water machine." August 16, 1609 [sic], on motion of Mr. Sinton the borough council resolved "that a committee be appointed to endeavor to obtain opinion of inhabitants of the borough on the propriety of procuring a fire engine, to form an estimate of the expense and whether the funds of the corporation are sufficient to defray the expense." Thomas Dyer, Charles Miner and Joseph Sinton were made the committee. This committee did not make any report until June 18, 1810, when they delivered themselves as follows: "That they have considered the subject submitted to them; are of opinion that it is expedient to have an engine procured."
At the same meeting Mr. Arndt, in behalf of committee, brought in a bill to purchase an engine. Nothing was done with this resolution, nor was any action ever taken on it afterward. After these efforts the council rested from its labors for nearly three years. Tuesday, March 16, 1813, council met. Present, Jesse Fell, president, and members Arndt, Bowman, Cahoon, Drake, Robinson and Sinton.
A petition was presented by Ebenezer Bowman, in behalf of himself and others, stating "they desired the council would take such measures as may be thought necessary to procure without delay a fire engine for the use of said borough."
It was also resolved to appoint a committee of two, Messrs. Arndt and Sinton, to procure an engine as soon as the funds of the borough shall be sufficient to meet the expense." It was also at the same time resolved "that the sum of $700 be appropriated for that purpose." This committee was never heard of by report, or otherwise, afterward. Nothing more was done in the matter for three years next following.
In the meantime there seemed to grow up a conviction that something more than resolutions and committees would be necessary to secure the fire engine. A petition was drawn with so much adroitness that it completely captured the county commissioners, and induced a grant of one-half of the entire cost, not only of the engine, but also of the hose and other fittings, when they supposed they were only contributing about one-third of cost of the engine alone.
A petition was laid before the grand jury, and they made report that $200 be given by the county. This recommendation was approved by the court. Nothing more was done in relation to the fire engine until March 7, 1818, when the council resolved that the check drawn by the county commissioners of Luzerne county on the treasurer for $200 be received; also, resolved that Messrs. Beaumont and Ulp be appointed a committee to contract with John Harris, or some suitable person, to haul the fire engine from Philadelphia.
April 18, 1818, it was "Resolved, that Messrs. Dennis, Ulp and Beaumont be appointed a committee to cause to be built and prepared a suitable building to receive and preserve the fire engine and appendages belonging to the same, on the back of the academy lot, if the trustees of the academy will admit thereof."
Also, "that an order be drawn in favor of Perkins & Co. for $300 on account of the fire engine, and delivered to the treasurer, who has advanced the said sum."
May 13, 1818, new council was convened. Messrs. Dennis, Tracy and Miner were appointed to superintend the erection of the engine-house. John Barton was paid $40 for building an engine-house.
A total of $34.48 was charged Mr. Harris for hauling the engine.
December 27, 1819, Joseph Dennis contracted to dig a well.
December, 1819 it was resolved to procure the hose, ladders, buckets and fire hooks, and Gen. W. S. Ross, Col. Bowman, Joseph Sinton and David Scott were appointed fire wardens.
Wilkes-Barre, 1820, had a population of 732, and with the equipment and [p.483] appropriation thus obtained there were no changes or improvements made in the fire department for the next ten years.
Nothing more was done by the borough in this matter until March 18, 1831, when the council resolved to appropriate $250 for the purchase of a fire engine.
October 1, 1831, Mr. Davidge and Mr. Laird appointed committee to draw funds from county commissioners, and to make arrangements with Joseph P. Le Clerc, Esq., with respect to purchasing an engine and to give him instructions on the subject.
October 21, 1831, it was resolved that an order be drawn for $650. being the amount appropriated for the purchase of an engine.
November 5, 1831, the engine "Reliance" was purchased.
December 3, 1831, Dr. Christell, Mr. Davidge and Mr. Howe were appointed a committee to make any arrangements necessary to obtain the engine and to take charge of it when it arrived. Also the president and secretary authorized to draw an order on the treasurer for the freight bill for engine upon examination and ascertaining the amount.
December 30, 1831, Mr. Morgan, Dr. Christell and Mr. Howe appointed committee to locate engine-house and ascertain its cost, etc.
February 21, 1832, resolved: "That when the funds in the hands of the treasurer shall amount to $100 the construction of the engine-house be commenced."
Also resolved: "That Mr. Barnes be authorized to take such boards as may be used for roof boards of the engine-house and enclose a part of the market-house for the temporary reception of the engine."
April 7, 1832, "The account of Gilbert Barnes presented for material labor furnished and done for the engine-house for $11.90½ and an order drawn therefor."
August 30, 1833, "A petition presented from very many of the citizens of the borough, soliciting the erection of an engine-house in connection with a set of weight scales."
September 27, 1833.—Matter of engine and weighhouses was called up and resolved "that the old engine-house be converted into a scalehouse, and that the scales be immediately built, or as soon as funds sufficient for the purpose shall have accumulated in the treasurer's hands." The committee on engine and weighhouse were continued, and instructed to obtain and prepare the lower room of the academy for the reception of the meetings of the town council and fire company during the coming winter. They also were instructed, if possible, to obtain a suitable site for an engine-house.
August 2, 1834, a petition from many young men praying for privilege to have the small engine appropriated to their use as junior fire company, was read and accepted. Whereupon a committee was appointed to consult with the "Reliance" Fire company and ascertain their views on the matter in question; Hugh Fell, A. C. Laning and W. S. Bowman, committee.
Saturday, September 26, 1834, committee on small engine matter reported as follows:
"WHEREAS, The Reliance Fire company have delivered to the town council the small engine, and a petition has been presented by a number of young gentlemen who are desirous that the town council should place said small engine in their hands:
"Therefore, Resolved, That the small engine, 'Davy Crocket,' be placed under their control, and to be under the immediate Control of a director selected by said young men from among the members of the Reliance Fire company, who, in case of fire, shall be subject to the general control of the directors of the Reliance Fire company."
Thus the long struggle for a fire engine and company was at last ended, and from that day to this, the good work has gone on uninterruptedly.
The city has a paid fire department, and it is accounted as efficient now as any similar service in the State. Four steamers, fully manned, numbered from one to [p.484] four inclusive; one hook and ladder company and three hose companies, with ample and suitable buildings so distributed over the city as to give the greatest facility in reaching conflagrations.
Fire Department.—The equipment and efficiency are equal to the best. There are thirty-one Gamewell non-interference alarm boxes, and four fine engine-houses, including the new one on Ross street, finished March 1, 1892, costing $16,000; a new hosehouse, with stable on Barney street. There are constantly employed five hose-cart drivers, four stokers, four engine drivers, one hook and ladder truck driver and one tillerman. Chief engineer, T. S. Hillard; A. Constine and E. F. Roth, assistants; steamer foreman: No. 1, G. A. St. John; No. 2, Charles Sauermilch: No. 3, W. A. Richards; No. 4. G. J. Stegmaier; hook and ladder, No. 5, C. Shiber; hose No. 6, J. G. Shuler; No. 7, D. R. Gates; No. 8, S. W. Bartleson; No. 9, Alex. Lendrum.
The Historical Record says:
"Reference has already been made in these columns to an old pocket account book in the possession of H. B. Plumb, author of the History of Hanover Township, the same having been kept by his great-grandfather, Elisha Blackman. Not only is the book valuable as affording ideas of the manner and cost of living in those early days, but it is interesting as furnishing what is almost a directory of that time. How interesting would a complete directory be. The book mentions fully half the families of Wilkes-Barre. The whole number of names in this account book is sixty-five. Of these, fourteen were killed in the battle and massacre of 1778; there were also in the battle six who escaped. Fifteen of them or their sons served in the continental or Revolutionary army during the war for independence.
The accounts cover date from 1772 down to the battle and massacre, July 3, 1778, and Mr. Plumb has kindly furnished the Record with a list of the names, together with brief mention by himself of each one. Though the comment is brief it has required no little research by Mr. Plumb to cull the matter from published and unpublished sources. The original orthography of the names is given:
Jonathan Avery: In Wilkes-Barre in 1775-6; nothing further known of him.
Benjamin Baley lived in Wilkes-Barre in 1774-8; was a corporal in Capt. John Franklin's company of militia previous to 1782.
Samuel Becket: In Wilkes-Barre, January, 1774-8; nothing further is known of him.
James Badlock [Bidlack] lived in Wilkes-Barre in 1775-7. As there was a James Bidlack, Jr., who was slain in the battle and massacre of Wyoming in 1778, it is uncertain whether this is father or son. The father was taken prisoner by the Indians on the flats opposite Wilkes-Barre in 1779, and carried into captivity. His son, Benjamin, was in Spalding's company in the United States army, after June 23, 1778.
Elisha Blackman, Sr.: The owner of the account book in which these names appear lived in Wilkes-Barre from 1772 to 1778; the family fled to Connecticut after the massacre. He returned in 1787 to Wilkes-Barre, where he resided till his death in 1804, aged eighty-seven. Some of the descendants are still here. His sons Elisha, Eleazer and Ichabod left large families.
Elisha Blackman, Jr.: Son of the above, was eighteen years old at the time of the Wyoming battle and massacre in which he fought, and escaped with his life, and fled the next day with his father to Stroudsburg, the rest of the family having fled earlier in the day. While the family returned to Connecticut whence they came, he returned to Wyoming early in August with Capt. Spalding's men, helped to gather such of the harvests and crops as they could, helped to bury the dead on the fatal battle-field in October (and he always said they were buried in two graves or treaches a half mile or so apart); and then enlisted in the active army in the field, and served to the end of the war. He received two pensions, one from the United States and one from Connecticut. His brothers were too [p.487] young to be in the army. His residence was in Hanover from 1791 till 1845 when he died, aged eighty-six.
Joseph Blackman: In Wilkes-Barre, in January, 1778; but probably never lived here.
Esquire Zebulon Butler: Lived in Wilkes-Barre in January, 1773, was a colonel in the United States army 1775 to 1783, was one of the first settlers in Wilkes- Barre, was in command of the militia in the battle of July 3, 1778, at Wyoming, being home on furlough at the time. He escaped the massacre, and served in the army till the end of the war.
Mr. — Carr: Was in Wilkes-Barre in 1773. Capt. Carr and Philip Goss were murdered by Indians below Wapwallopen in November, 1778. Daniel Carr was taken prisoner before the battle. Either of these may be the man.
Uriah Chapman: Of the Lackawack settlement, was a mill owner, removed there from Norwich, Conn., in October, 1773. Mill irons carried to Minisink for him that year by Elisha Blackman, Sr.
Dr. John Corkins: Lived in Wilkes-Barre 1775 to 1778, was a noted surgeon in New London, Conn., came here in 1773. Many of the people desiring to have him establish himself here, drew up a petition and procured subscribers, the money to be laid out in a "lot for his benefit and use." It is supposed the issue was favorable, for his name is found here as late as 1789.
Joseph Crooker: Lived in Wilkes-Barre previous to 1778; probably kept the lower ferry at the foot of Northampton street, as he bid £10 10s. 0d. for it; was killed in the battle and massacre.
Anderson Dana: In Wilkes-Barre, 1774, to March 30, 1778; was slain in the battle and massacre; was a lawyer by profession. Descendants of his still live here.
Clemans Daniel: In Wilkes-Barre in November, 1775; nothing further known of him except that he resided in Wilkes-Barre as late as 1789.
Dugles Daveson: Lived in Wilkes-Barre in 1773; belonged to Capt. Durkee's company; in the army from 1776 to 1778; did not belong to Spalding's company in 1778; lived here long afterward.
William Davison: In Wilkes-Barre in 1776; belonged to Capt. Durkee's company in the United States army 1776 to 1778; did not join the consolidated company of Capt. Spalding. Nothing more known of him.
Col. [Nathan] Denison: In Wilkes-Barre in 1776 to 1778; escaped the massacre; was a colonel of the militia in the battle July 3, 1778; afterward judge of the court till 1782-3.
Mathew Dolson: In Wilkes-Barre, in January, 1776; nothing further known of him.
Mr. [George] Dorrance: Lived in Kingston; 1776 collector of rates; lieutenant- colonel of the militia July 3, 1778, and was killed.
Daniel Downing: Lived in Wilkes-Barre in November, 1775 to 1778; was in James Bidlack's company in the battle and massacre and escaped; returned to Wilkes-Barre the same fall, and afterward resided there as late as 1792. Afterward there is a Joel and a Reuben named.
Capt. Robert Durkee: Lived in Wilkes-Barre in 1774 to May, 1777. He was commissioned captain of one of the two Wyoming companies, August 26, 1776; on the day of the battle of Wyoming, he with Lieut. Pierce came spurring their jaded horses to Forty fort, about a half hour after our men on foot about forty miles off, and had ridden in to assist their families and friends. "We are faint, give us bread." Having snatched a morsel of food, they hastened to the field. Both were slain.
Thomas Durkee: Lived in Wilkes-Barre in 1776-7. Nothing further is known of him.
Thomas Ells [probably Ellis]: In Wilkes-Barre in 1773. His lot was put into Springfield.
John Ewens: Lived in Hanover 1773-8, assisted by Elisha Blackman, Sr., to [p.488] move into Hanover in 1773 from Lancaster county, Pa., was a resident till the massacre, after which he lived in Lancaster county.
Daniel Fine [or Finny, or Kinne, or Kinny]: in Wilkes-Barre in January and October, 1774. Nothing further is known of him. The name seems to be uncertain.
Jonathan Fitch: In Wilkes-Barre in 1776, was sheriff of the county of Westmoreland till the very last; was an old man and probably one of the Reformadoes to guard the block-house in Hanover, in 1778; after the battle and during the flight he was the only man among 100 women and children to lead and direct them across the mountains in Hanover, along the Warrior path to Fort Allen [Weissport now], on the Lehigh. From 1780 to 1782 he was elected assemblyman to Connecticut four times.
Mr. — Forsids [Forsythe]: In Wilkes-Barre in 1776; lived in Hanover in 1779-80, and it is understood he lived there for many years afterward.
John Franklin: Of Hanover, May 1773-8, was slain in the battle and massacre of July 3, 1778, together with his brother Jonathan. His brothers, Lieut. Rosewell Franklin and Arnold Franklin, escaped.
Capt. Stephen Fuller: Lived in Wilkes-Barre, 1776; a private in the battle of Wyoming, July 3, 1778, and was killed; had been captain in the Wyoming militia in 1775.
Jedediah Goor [probably Obadiah Gore, Jr.]: Came, to Wilkes-Barre in 1769; was a resident of Wilkes-Barre in 1773; was in the United States army, lieutenant in the company of Capt. Weisner, 1776 to 1782. Afterward lived in Sheshequin; was an associate judge of Luzerne county; died in 1820.
Mr. — Gordon: In Wilkes-Barre, in 1776; was the surveyor of the town of Westmoreland; laid out the public roads in September, 1776. the roads had been laid out before by the townships, but it would seem from this they were not lawful roads or highways of the "town of Westmoreland."
Benjamin Harve (Harvey]: Lived in Plymouth, 1774; belonged to Capt. Durkee's company in the United States army 1776, till his death in the service; unless, as is probable, this Benjamin is the father, who had another son, Silas, killed in the battle and massacre of Wyoming, and in 1780, in December, himself and only remaining son Elisha, were taken prisoners by the Indians and driven to Canada. They survived and were afterward released, and lived and died in Plymouth.
Jonathan Haskel: Was one of the original settlers on the Delaware or Lackawaxen in 1773; was assisted by Elisha Blackman, Sr., in moving to the Minisinks, on the Delaware, from Connecticut in October, 1773. He was constable, collector of rates and key keeper for his district in 1774.
Asel Hide: Lived in Wilkes-Barre in 1775-6; was corporal in Capt. Durkee's company in the United States army 1776 to June 23, 1778, when he joined Capt. Spalding's consolidated company as a private till 1782, the end of the war.
John Hide: Lived in Wilkes-Barre in October, 1775; nothing further known of him.
Simon Hide: Lived in Wilkes-Barre in 1775; nothing more known of him.
John Hollenback: Lived in Wilkes-Barre in 1777 to 1794; mill owner on Mill creek; some of his descendants still reside in Wilkes-Barre.
Mr. — Jenkins: Lived in Kingston in 1776; collector "for rates;" supposed to be John Jenkins. He was, in 1777, taken prisoner by the Indians and taken to Canada; was sent for exchange for what turned out to be a dead Indian chief; he however, made his escape. He joined Capt. Spalding's company and was made lieutenant in 1778, and came into the valley with them in August; he was with the army which under Gen. Sullivan invaded and devastated the Indian country in New York in 1779; served in the United States army till the end of the war. He died in Kingston or Wyoming in 1827. Descendants of his still reside there.
Timothy Cyes [Keys]: Lived at this time, October, 1772, in Wilkes-Barre; in 1775 was ensign in the Wyoming militia: afterward lived up the Lackawanna, and after the battle of July 3, 1778, early in the fall, or perhaps in August, he was taken [p.489] prisoner by the Indians together with Isaac Tripp, Esq., Isaac Tripp, his grandson, and a young man named Hocksey. The old man they let go, but up in Abington on the Warrior path to Oquago, they murdered Keys and Hocksey.
Ebenezer Lain: Wilkes-Barre in 1776; nothing further known of him.
William Lisk: Was in Wyoming in l775 to 1776; nothing, further known of him.
Alexander Lock: Lived in Wilkes-Barre in 1774-6; bought a quarter of a town lot No. 32, in the town plot of Wilkes-Barre of Elisha Blackman, Sr., March 28, 1774, for £2 14s. Connecticut currency—$9 in United States money of these times. A James Lock was killed in the massacre, probably his son.
Daniel Mackmullen: Lived in Wilkes-Barre in 1778; was in the battle and massacre and escaped. Nothing further known of him by the writer.
John Obed: In Wilkes-Barre in February 1777; nothing further known of him.
Ebenezer Phillips: Lived in Wilkes-Barre in 1775-6; belonged to Capt. Durkee's company in the United States army 1776-8 till its consolidation with Ransom's in June, 1778, under Capt. Spalding; nothing further known of him.
Mr. — Porter: In Wilkes-Barre in 1774; a Thomas Porter was in Capt. Durkee's company in the United States army in 1776, and was killed by a cannon ball in battle. A Thomas Porter was in the lower Wilkes-Barre company in the Wyoming battle and escaped the massacre. They may be father and son.
Jabez Post: In Wilkes-Barre in July, 1774; nothing further known of him.
Mr. Prid [Pride]: In Wilkes-Barre in 1775-6; nothing more known of him.
Mr. Sill [Jabez Sill]: Resided in Wilkes-Barre in 1776; was one of the first 200 settlers in Wilkes-Barre, 1769; had two sons in the United States army with Capt. Durkee, Elisha N. and Shadrack. On the consolidation of the two companies at Lancaster on June 23, 1778, Shadrack re-enlisted with Capt. Spalding, but Elisha N. came home. Another son, Jabez Sill, Jr., belonged to Capt. Franklin's company of militia in Wyoming previous to 1782, [after the massacre,] during the war. Elisha N. Sill after the war went to Connecticut, studied medicine there and practiced, and died there a very old man.
David Smith: In Wilkes-Barre in 1774: nothing further known of him.
Isaac Smith: Lived in Wilkes-Barre in 1776. Belonged to Capt. Durkee's company in 1776 and to Spalding's consolidated company to the end of the Revolutionary war.
Capt. Josiah Smith: Lived in Wilkes-Barre in 1776 or 1768; bid for the Upper ferry £6 6s. 0d. This ferry was at the mouth of Mill creek, and Miner says yielded half as much as the Lower ferry. He says from $25 a year, the rent of the Lower ferry soon rose to $60; and the Upper to half that sum, until discontinued on the erection of mills in Kingston:
In Connecticut currency— The Lower at £10 10 0 $35 00 The Upper at 6 6 0 21 00
Total revenue at this sale per year $56 00
Derias Spaford: Lived in Wilkes-Barre in 1775; was killed in the battle and massacre; was a blacksmith; was son-in-law of Elisha Blackman, Sr., the proprietor of the pocket account book from which these names are taken.
Dr. Joseph Sprague: Lived in Wilkes-Barre, June, 1872-7; was a physician by profession; he had come to Wyoming as a settler in 1770; he had a son killed in the battle and massacre, July 3, 1778; he died in Virginia; his stepdaughter was the wife of William Young, of Hanover, and he was also in the battle, but escaped the massacre.
Asa Stevens: Was in Wilkes-Barre, January, 1772, to April, 1778; was slain in the battle and massacre of July 3, 1778; was lieutenant in the lower Wilkes-Barre company.
Mr. Stuart: Lived in Hanover, 1776; collector "for rates."
[p.490] Daniel Tracy: In Wilkes-Barre in 1774; nothing more known of him.
Flebas Waterman: In Wilkes-Barre in 1776. This name and the one below, Flavill Waterman, are so nearly alike, and both so near Flavius Waterman, the lieutenant in one company of our little army in the battle of Wyoming in 1778, and who was slain there, as to make the names of both uncertain.
Flavill Waterman: Lived in Wilkes-Barre in 1776 to 1777. [See Flebas Waterman above.]
Elihu Waters: Lived in Wilkes-Barre in 1776-7; was killed July 3, 1778.
Capt. Wigden [probably Capt. James Wigton]: Lived in Wilkes-Barre in 1778; was in the Wyoming battle and massacre as a private in 1778 and was killed; belonged to the lower Wilkes-Barre company of Capt. James Bidlack.
Aaron Wilder [or Wildor]: In Wilkes-Barre in 1774; nothing more known.
Mr. — Woodworth, in Wilkes-Barre in 1775; a boarder; nothing further known of him.
Abel Yereton [Yarington]: Lived in Wilkes-Barre in 1777; was in Capt. John Franklin's militia in Wyoming in 1782; lived in Wilkes-Barre as late as 1791.
The following incident of the Wyoming massacre may not be without interest to your readers: "Mrs. William Miller was born January 1, 1760, and was, therefore, eighteen and a half years old at the time of the massacre, but, young as she was, she was a mother, living in the vicinity of the Old Forge, her husband being in the continental army. She was taken prisoner, with her child, by the Indians, and held for some time, just how long is not known. She wandered about with them, but at length they determined to release her, and, learning that her former home had been in Orange county, N. Y., they painted her face and that of her child and sent them thither under an escort. She walked and carried the child in her arms the whole distance. The painting was done, as their Custom was, to show that they had been released, and that other Indians might not molest them; consequently when any met them they would say: "Jogee jun, jogee jun," meaning "Go on, Indian; go on, Indian." Her husband survived the war and joined her, after which they returned to Wyoming valley and lived for some time in the vicinity of Pittston. They subsequently moved to Clifford, in Susquehanna county, where her husband died in 1816, and after his death she came to live with her son, the late Jonathan Miller, in Pleasant Mount, where she resided until her death, which occurred June 23, 1845. The terrible scenes of the massacre and her captivity were ever present in her memory, and none the less so as age advanced. After her mind became impaired by age, stumps, in her imagination, were transformed into Indians, and she would start at almost every passing object and exclaim: "The Injuns are coming; the Injuns are coming." J. Miller, of Pleasant Mount, and James W. Miller, of Pittston, are her grandsons, and she has descendants living here to the sixth generation.
From Deacon John Hurlbut's diary, 1773. we extract the following:
"Afternoon, Mr. Chapman drew the plan of intervales. These intervales near the river are generally very good, being overflown frequently in winter. That quantity of these lowlands in both towns is about 5,000 acres, that is dry enough to bear English grass, to which may be added, about, of land contiguous, 3,000 acres of swamp, part of it of good kind and the rest a bad kind, being composed of willow or bog meadow; a portion is about three feet high and entirely clear of trees or bush. The timber on the best part is on ye south end—beach, elm, shagbarks, walnut, maple, ash, birch, black and white oak—but toward the middle of the town is chiefly walnut; solely white pine and hemlock on points and higher lands, butternut also and chestnut; the smaller growth is thorn, black, speckled and common alder, spicewood, hazel and some other small trash. Of the herbs or grass kind are mandrakes, nettles, wild grass or joint, wild oats, spikenard, balm, and a variety of other kinds of herbs. Gooseberry bushes, also, and other weeds to which low lands are incident.
[p.491] Thursday, May ye 20.—A little wet, but warm and sunshine about 10 o'clock. This day was spent in planning the intervale lots.
"Friday, May ye 21.—Layed out eight lots of intervale in Parkbury next adjoining those laid out, which are No. 30 to 37. At night drew 17 lots. My lot was 32.
"There is in this town five houses, about thirty men and lads and five women. The town is situate on ye side of an hummock, facing toward ye northwest, about one- half mile from ye river. The lands from ye meadow generally rise a little too high for conveniency, although in many places the ascent is very easy. The timber is chiefly white pine, but in some places white oak, but not of ye best kind, and ye land is mostly too stony, but far from being ledgy, and about a mile and one-half from ye fort the intervale or river land is barked with vast, large plains, with a few yellow pine. This land is sandy, but entirely free from stone, covered with a sort of vine and wintergreen. The bark lands and hills are well watered with little brooks and springs.
"Saturday, May ye 22nd.—Bounded out a number of our lots, and my lot in particular. This day's work was very bad, for, after wading all day, came on a shower at night, and we had near four miles to travel through wet bushes.
"Sabbath day, May ye 23rd.—Attended meeting with Capt. Parke.
"The number and names of lots laid out and drawn: Elisha Gifford, 1; Abel N. Kimball, 2; Capt. Silas Park, 3; Benjamin Lathrop, 4; Kendrel Edwards, 5; Gilbert Denton, 6; Ephraim Killam, 7; William Edwards, 8; Jonathan Haskal, 9; Capt. Silas Park, 10; Elijah Park, 11; Samuel Hallett, 12; Jepthah Killam, 13; John Westbrook, 14; Matthias Button, 15; John Ansley, 16; Capt. Zeb. Parrish, 17; Reuben Jones, 18; Deliverance Adams, 19; James Adams, 20; Elijah Witter, 21; James Dye, 22; Abner Newton, 23; Nathanell Gates, 24; Daniel Denton, 25; David Gates, 26; Isaac Parish, 27; Ezekiel Yerington, 28; Hezekiah Bingham, 29; Capt. Silas Park, 30; Lebens Lathrop, 31; John Hurlbut, 32; William Pellet, 33; John Pellett, 34; Walter Kimbal, 35; Stephen Parish, 36; Eliab Farnam, 37; Uriah Chapman, 38; Ezra Tracy, 40; Jeremiah Park, 41; Jacob Kimbal, 42; Deacon Griswold, 43; Zadock Killam, 44; Obadiah Gore, Jr., 45.
"Monday, May ye 24th.—About 10th clock, passed Laquawack river and took my journey to Susquehanna, in company with Capt. Parish and Mr. Benajah Park, went that day to Laquanar, about—32 miles.
"Tuesday, May ye 25th.—Visited Mr. Johnson at Chapman Mills, went to Wilkbury fort—3 miles. In ye afternoon went over to Capt. Gore's in Kingston, then returned to Wilgbury. Went up to Abraham's Plains. Again returned to ye fort. At a town meeting at night; returned to Kingston to Benedict Satterly's. Slept there that night.
"Wednesday, May ye 26th.—Went down on ye fields to Plymouth and then back to Capt. Gore's, then returned to Wilkbury again. Visited Mr. Johnson. Was with him about two hours and a half. Found him in a low disconsolate state, but looking like rain rid for Lackawanna fort. Came on a very black cloud of thunder and rain in ye shower reached ye fort. After ye rain rid to Rason's about two miles. Tarried there that night.
"Thursday, May ye 27th.—Came thro Capows great hill and great swamp at night; came to Hallet's ferry and so to ye fort.
"Friday, May ye 28th.—Settled my affairs at Parkbury with ye settlers.
"Saturday, May ye 29th.—Took my journey towards home; tarried that night on ye east of Delaware river, at Isaac Fenarties, in ye Minisinks.
"Sunday, May ye 30th.—Rode to Honas Deikers; breakfasted there; afternoon rid 20 miles to Owen's.
"Monday, May ye 31st.—To walking thence to North River about noon, thence up ye Fishkills to Bakers in ye Patents.
"Tuesday, June ye 1st.—Thro ye Patents kent into Litchfield to Mack Neals; these 3 days very hot and dry; especially the last." [p.492]
MISCELLANEOUS MEMORANDA. Kingston on the Susquehanna, May ye 26th, l773. Received of John Hurlbut ye sum of one pound, ten shillings and 3d. I say received for me. STEPHEN HURLBUT. 1,241 14 ------ 1,255 acres and 35 rods. A streight line from ye bounds at each end of ye town of Huntington, leaveth 1,255 acres on ye east side and taketh off the town of Parkbury 569 acres. 1,255 less 569-686. My cost of purchase and expense on ye affairs of the Western Lands. Febry ye 2nd, A. D. 1773. Purchased ½ a Susquahannah. £ s d Right Cash 5 0 0 Paid Capt. Joseph Hurlbut 0 3 0 March ye 15th took a deed of gift of ye Delaware 2nd purchase and part of ye 1st purchase deed 0 1 0 Expense 0 5 0 May ye 10th paid to Capt. Park for a draught of that grant 0 18 0 For lotting out 0 9 0 For lotting out ye town of Huntington 0 8 0 Drawing lots. Expence 0 5 0 March ye 15th and 16th, 1774, at a meeting in Norwich respecting ye Delaware rights. Expence 0 10 0 --------- 8 4 0 Received of Capt. Hurlbut 0 3 0 --------- Remains 8 1 0 Oct., 1774, paid to my brother Stephen, for cost and expenses in surveying and lotting my rights in ye district of Groton Susquhanna purchase 0 12 0
"A Record man met Isaac M. Thomas the other day (1887), that gentleman remarking that his mother, widow of Jesse Thomas, could give the desired information in regard to the old house at the corner of Frankling and Union streets, now undergoing demolition to make room for a handsome block of residences. Mrs. Thomas was accordingly called on at her home on South Franklin street. She remarked that the old house was built about 1811 or 1812 by her father, Hon. Charles Miner, and that she and her brother, William P. Miner, founder of the Record of the Times, were born under its roof. While her father was engaged in its erection he occupied the house at the corner of Union and River streets, now occupied by Dr. Ingham. In 1817 Mr. Miner sold it to Judge Burnside, who was a distinguished jurist."
All the corners except one, that occupied many years later by Hon. Andrew Beaumont's house, were built upon. These were older than Mr. Miner's house, and the one in the southwest corner was demolished in 1862. It was called the Evans house, its owner being quite a prominent man in his day. On the northeast corner, the Stickney block, was the Palmer house, known to a later generation as the "old red house." The Palmers afterward removed to Mount Holly, and they were a large family. The Beaumont house was built years after, in the early days of the canal, and was intended by Mr. Beaumont as a warehouse for canal shipping rather than for a dwelling. This was demolished during the summer of 1892 and a block of residences erected by Col. E. B. Beaumont, son of Hon. Andrew Beaumont.
Franklin street ended at Union seventy years ago. Above Union it was called the "green lane," and was a favorite playground for our parents and grandparents during the first decade or two of the century. There were no houses above Union except that of Capt. Bowman, now the residence of Mrs. Col. A. Bowman.
Owing to the fact that Mrs. Thomas spent most of her days away from Wilkes-Barre, [p.493] she can not tell who occupied the Miner house subsequent to Judge Burnside, though she recollects that Joseph Le Clerc lived there in 1833.
Mrs. Thomas well remembers the consecration of the first St. Stephen's Episcopal church, in 1823, by Bishop White. It was a great event in Wilkes-Barre, and as Mrs. Thomas had lived among Quaker influences, she (then nine years old) had never seen a surpliced clergyman before. She remembers coming to visit Wilkes- Barre at that time, and that a fellow traveler in the stage coach over the Easton pike was a gentleman who was also coming to Wilkes-Barre. The little girl and her mother did not know the gentleman, though they were curious too, because he was constant in his kindly attentions to the child. What was their snrprise at afterward seeing their fellow-passenger a conspicuous figure at the church consecration, he being a candidate for ordination, Bishop White laying his hands upon his head with the bestowal of the apostolic blessing. Rev. Samuel Sitgreaves, for this proved to be his name, served as rector of the parish for a year. Bishop Bowman died in 1861, and his wife was a sister to the young deacon who rode across the mountains with little Miss Miner on that bright June day in 1823. The church, Mrs. Thomas says, was a low, frame building painted white, with a gable end to the street, a flight of half a dozen steps leading up to a long porch. The Presbyterian church was built a little later, and was similar to the Episcopal, except that its pulpit was at the front while that of the Episcopal was at the farther end from the entrance.
William Penn Miner contributed the substance of the following to The Historical Record: Among the old daguerreotypes taken by C. F. Cook, just before he went to war, is one of a passenger canal-boat on its way from Laning's foundry to the river. It was built in the abandoned foundry by Capt. B. F. Welles, and floated down to the outlet lock at Nanticoke.
He thinks some of the figures in the crowd are distinguishable—the long cloak and hat of Squire Gilbert Burrowes, and the partially shaded features of Dr. C. F. Ingham. At the door of the Anheiser building, next to the Welles building, is a figure very like Anning or Urbane Dilley with his white apron on. The Bowman building across from Anheiser's was then standing, but a sign "New Clothing Store" indicated the beginning of a change. These have passed completely away. He says he well remembers the engine-room in the Butler mill; and in an old-time address by Dr. T. N. Miner, he mentions especially this mill as the evidence that the town is rapidly improving. The mill was operated by Col. John L. Butler. And Lord Butler lived in the frame house where is now the steam power of the Record office. The mill of Abram Thomas stood on the north bank of the canal, between Franklin and River streets, but like the Hillard block on Main street was ruined by the State's delay in completing the North Branch canal, upon the hopes of which they had too early builded.
In 1886 Dr. C. F. Ingham demolished an ancient landmark at the corner of Union and River streets. This house was built by Rev. Jacob Johnson, more than one hundred years old at the time, who died in the house in 1797; then occupied by J. P. Johnson, who, in 1826, sold to Arnold Colt and removed to Laurel Run, where he died in 1830. Dr. Ingham occupied the place thirty years before it was torn down and made modern improvements.
Dilton Yarrington, "the village blacksmith," deserves a place in the reminiscences of the city of Wilkes-Barre, if for nothing else than for the many communications that in the latter years of his life recounting his recollections of the old times. He was born in Wilkes-Barre, October 8, 1803, and says, in 1880, he commenced reading in 1813 the local papers and is still reading them. He says he remembers well the great eclipse of 1806, when he was two years and eight months old. [The eclipse was in 1807, so he was three years and eight months; this makes more reasonable his statement that he remembered it.—ED.] He was aged eighty- five when he sent this communication. Speaking of the eclipse, he concludes: [p.494] "That was the first day that I knew I was in this world, and from that day during the next forty years I remember almost everything that came under my observation, but the last forty years appear like looking down a long, shady and dark road."
Wilkes-Barre eighty years ago will be seen in the following from the pen of Mr. D. Yarington: "On the last day of February, 1825, I left my home in Wilkes-Barre and walked to Dundaff. I had previously made a contract with Col. Gould Phinny to work a year for him at my trade (blacksmith). I went up the turnpike from Wilkes-Barre through Pittston to Hyde Park, and while there I looked over to Capouse (now Scranton), and I saw the residence of Maj. Ebenezer Slocum, and eight or ten tenant houses in which his workhands resided, and there were apparently ten or twelve acres of cleared land where Scranton now is. Maj. Slocum had a forge there and manufactured what was called bloomer iron, and soon after the war of 1812 I used to go up with my father to purchase iron of Mr. Slocum, my father being a blacksmith. Where Scranton now is was then a dense wilderness with the exception of the few acres around his house. I went on up the turnpike through Greenfield and arrived at the Dundaff hotel about sundown. Then I found an old Wilkes-Barre friend and his family with whom I was acquainted, Archippus Parrish, whose horses I had shod from 1818 to 1822, at which time he had moved with his family to Dundaff. He ran the hotel there for a number of years and then moved back to Wilkes-Barre. I felt perfectly at home and boarded with the family a year, and I can positively say that it was one of the happiest years of my life.
"I will now go back a few years with the occurrences of my boyhood at Wilkes- Barre. When I was ten years old (1818), my father carried on the blacksmith business. At that time there were no hardware stores in Wilkes-Barre, and no edge tools could be found in either of the four or five stores there, except now and then an old-fashioned one-bladed Barlow knife at a huge price. Such an article as a cast-iron plow, or a cut nail was not known, but about the close of the war a man by the name of Francis McShane started a cut-nail machine, a very simple affair indeed, but himself and his helper (Shepard Marble, a Wilkes-Barre young man) could cut and head about twenty pounds daily; this caused a great excitement in town, hundreds of people from town and county came to see the nail factory. The price of wrought iron came down from 20 and 25 cents a pound to the price of 12½ cents. Cut nails were sold at 10 cents. The three fires in my father's shop were used as follows: First, at his fire were made all the edge tools, including cradles and scythes, chopping axes and various kinds of carpenter's tools. At another fire nothing but the various kinds of wrought-iron nails were made, and the third fire was kept busy at the various kinds of customer's work as it was called for. During the War of 1812 the great ship "Luzerne" was built on the river bank in front of John W. Robinson's store. I saw the launch. A thousand or more people were present. The war spirit was rampant at that time, and the people of our town expected that the noble "Luzerne" was going to assist in bringing the "flag of Great Britain" down. A few days after the launch a sufficient flood arose and the ship was manned and started down the river toward the ocean, but in passing the Falls of Conawago she ran on the rocks and lay there till the ice in the river broke up the next spring, when she was totally destroyed.
John P. Arndt was one of the stockholders—probably the largest one—in the vessel. Several others, including my father, had from $3,00 to $500 of the stock. There was great excitement in Luzerne county about those days. The war spirit prevailed to a great extent. There were two recruiting stations at Wilkes-Barre and the recruiting officers were very busy for one or two years. Business of every description was brisk, and all kinds of provisions were high—wheat, $2.50 per bushel; corn, $1.25; pork, $18 to $20 per barrel, and everything else in the line of provisions proportionally high."
Old houses like old people have to go: "That historic old residence corner of Franklin and Union streets, once occupied by Chief Justice John Bannister Gibson, [p.497] is now (1888) in process of demolition to make room for the block of six private residences to occupy the same lot extending from Union street to the old canal, now L. V. railroad track. This is an old structure, so old that perhaps no one living here remembers when it was built or by whom; the frame is yet stanch and sound, but the style of architecture is too antiquated for the present generation, and more than that, land is too scarce to allow a half acre to each dwelling here in the central portion of the city.
The old frme building adjoining the Leader office is about to be removed to make room for two fine wholesale stores, though it may not be considered as among the "old landmarks," is not yet of very recent date. It was first used as a public house by Archippus Parrish, after the destruction by fire of his former hotel, which stood on the east side of the public square, about where Josiah Lewis' stores now are. The old tavern was burned on the night of February 22, about the year 1831. The sleighing was fine on that day, and there was to be a Washington's birthday ball at night. Bright fires had been kindled to warm up some of the upper rooms for the comfort of expected guests during the early evening, when at 9 o'clock a cry of fire was heard on the public square and flames were seen shooting up through the shingles of the roof, and in half an hour the old hostelry was reduced to ashes. The new building was used but a short time, before Mr. Parrish removed to another hotel, corner of the public square and East Market street, which was also destroyed by fire many years ago.
The following in substance was printed in Stewart Pearce's Annals of Luzerne as he found it printed in the Federalist of March 30, 1810. It was probably written by some local wit, under the guise of a foreigner traveling through this part of the country, and was "takin' notes i'faith to print 'em." It is not material what the motive or who it was, it is something of a picture of the village eighty-two years ago. The writer, printer and all that were animate here then, are now gathered in "the silent city." A stranger in Luzerne is the heading and then follows:
Cloudy day—rain towards night—4 o'clock, came in sight of a small town— a delightful and extensive valley, sufficiently watered by Susquehanna and its tributary streams. Set this county down rich—the soil undoubtedly will reward the labors of the husbandman with an abundant harvest.
"Came down into the town (Wilkes-Barre)—found it regularly laid out—handsome place, though too many small houses for beauty. Streets terribly muddy— almost impossible to get along. Wonder the inhabitants don't have a sidewalk, at least, so that foot-people may not have their legs pulled out by the roots.
"Came down into the street—extends north and south—two men running horses! Mud knee deep. Well, they sputter it agoing bravely; they spout it around like Mount Etna in a fit of the colic. Huzza! there goes a man and his horse heels over head—spatter, dash, souse all over in the mud—a new way of dismounting. Walked up to the center of the place—saw a meeting-house—courthouse—an academy, I guess, with one end of it fenced in—a jail probably, by the high yard fence—four public buildings, religion, justice, knowledge, and iniquity—curious compound. Wonder what old, huge, antique stone building that is with new roof and windows—contrary to Scripture—put no new cloth upon an old garment. This is the first building that bears "such strong marks of antiquity, and which appears to have been too rough for the devouring jaws of time, which I have seen in America. I can find no date upon it. Went a little further—found six great, strong, robust men playing cards without any concealment. Inquired if they had any laws in this State, or, perhaps their magistrates are blind, like Justice of old. Went down to the river—a delightful bank, save the mud, which for the purpose of brevity, I wish might always be excepted when this place is mentioned hereafter. A big house on the bank—foundation all gone from one end—a little more will tumble it down the hill. Saw a man drunk—he had business on both sides of the way (there was once an insurrection in this State on account of taxing whiskey). [p.498] Saw another man moving with great obliquity—made inquiry—found he was a candidate for sheriff. Do all sheriffs in Pennsylvania step quick two or three times and then with a long side-way stride? The river is wearing away the bank very rapidly—from appearance it seems to incline side-ways, like the man I saw just now.
"Two men rode up from the river-one horse kicked up and threw the rider head and heels in the mud—the people all flocked around just as they do to see dogs fight—made inquiry and found the man was a Methodist minister. Well, if I remember right, this sect of Christians held to falling. I went down a little further—saw a tavern, heard a bell ring and found there was a Methodist meeting. Went and found many people there. The minister delivered a forcible, impressive, eloquent and Scriptural sermon.
"March 21.—Rose at 6—walked out upon the bank—saw only one man up and he, from his looks, will be down before night. At 7 went to the store opposite the ferry, found all closed and silent. Walked on—saw a new white house, very handsome situation—fence all gone around it. What! a printing office! Saw another store—found it open and doing business—good many people in it—inquire if this man does not tend his own store, of course, makes more money. Going back saw a man without a hat—his hair pointing to every quarter of heaven, his mouth open and both hands working daylight through his yet closed eyelids—hope he has a large patrimony to doze over. Returned to the tavern—found a good many men come to get their morning charge. After breakfast walked around town; at 11 o'clock went to the academy—steeple as big as an eel basket—saw a number of great tall boys gaping and leaning against the side of the house, and stretching as if for victory.
Went on—saw things which I shall never forget—returned to my lodgings sick —evening pleasant—many people came in, and as they poured down the whiskey they drowned out the politics. If they should drink less, talk less, and read more, won't they understand the subject better? Went up street—going by the courthouse heard a stamping, like that of a livery stable in fly time—made inquiry and found there was a dancing-school kept there."
The Allen Jack brick storehouse, on Main street, was erected in 1813, and the G. M. Hollenback store and dwelling on the corner of Market and River streets, in 1816.
Old Iron Mill.—That was a memorable time in Wilkes-Barre way back in 1842, when the town made a gala day of it to turn out and see the new rolling-mill start up. The canal then raged and the canal horn quickened the heartbeats of the people as the flying packet-boat, Capt. Wells commanding, would proudly come into port. A distinguished mark of a heavy man about town then was to be able to rush on board, shake familiarly the captain's hand and indulge in one of the boat's gorgeous meals for the sum of 25 cents. It is now fifty years to a day since that memorable day, October 1, 1842, and the whole country gathered in to see the iron mill start. There were two engines, one 100-horsepower, the other sixty, and all else was in proportion. Mr. Ellis was superintendent, and Capt. John Y. Wren, of Plymouth, had the proud satisfaction of starting one of the engines. The engines moved all right. The blast was finally turned on, but then the imperfections became palpable. The flames instead of going to the iron blew out of many crevices. The furnaces were a sad failure. They were remodeled, but it never would roll well; the rails being imperfect and badly finned and ragged all along. It was run, never to advantage, for some years and then dismantled. Capt. Wren thus speaks of his recollections of Wilkes-Barre fifty years ago: "Leaving the canal bridge toward the public square there were only green fields and blooming orchards. The two buildings that attracted the captain's eye especially were the armory of the Ninth regiment on Main, and Ely Post No. 97 building. He regards these as the two proud monumental buildings of the city. It is hardly necessary to state that Capt. Wren in the Historical Record gave the facts of the old mill.
[p.499] C. E. Wright contributed to the Historical Record his recollections of some Of the leading business men of Wilkes-Barre, and pays the following glowing tribute to Jacob Cist, of whom he says the first time he ever saw him he was actinging postmaster. He was busy writing and seemed to be annoyed at the interruption. "No wonder," he says, "it was shameful that a man so far outstripping his fellow countrymen in science, art and philosophy, should be chained down to the routine of a menial clerkship. But he must make his bread like other men, though all the aspirations of his genius rose to the contemplation of grander things. * * * He should have been a companion of Humboldt in his voyages of scientific exploration; he was fitted for the task. From a bug or a butterfly up through the range of all the ologies to an iron mountain and the inauguration of the coal trade, he was in his proper sphere. When other men were groveling in the mud of De Witt Clinton's ditches and blocking the channels of our grand river with dams, Mr. Cist was foretelling the superior system of railroads as means of transportation. If the legislature had listened to him a great deal of blasphemy might have been saved to the raftsmen and our supply of shad escaped annihilation. But he knew and others did not. But a few months before his untimely death he made a day's visit to my father's house. Such was the delight his courteous manner excited in my boyish heart, that I forgave him the coolness of the postoffice scene, and to this day I esteem it a great privilege to have thus intimately met the most cultured man of the North."
Of the first merchants Mr. Wright rambles along, and in his delightful way, says that G. M. Hollenback ranks first. Along the whole bank of the Susquehanna no man was better known. His amenity of address and winning expression of face were remarkable. He dressed with more taste than any man in the county; his manner was perfection. I was accustomed to regard Mr. Hollenback with an awe of deference and admiration never since bestowed on any man on earth.
When I first knew the brick store on the corner at the bridge, Ziba Bennett was head clerk. He was certainly a model merchant. He was a paragon in the line of business, adopted in early life and continued through so many succeeding years. He was the idol of country customers for many miles around.
Following Mr. Bennett came two other individuals who subsequently established successful careers—N. Rutter and A. C. Laning. It was their good fortune to begin life under the influence of such a man as Hollenback. Then there was another merchant located further down the river, and this was Jacob Cist, above referred to. * * * While less known was one of the great men that made Wilkes-Barre his home.
First Brewery.—As an evidence that the teutonic element was well sprinkled among the early settlers is the fact that an attempt was made about 1823 to establish a brewery in Wilkes-Barre, by Thomas Ingham, on river below Union street. He carried it on, of course, in a most primitive manner, for some time, making what the few beer-drinkers then here swallowed and supposed it rough but the best they could do. In time he sold to Christian Reichard, who ran it until 1833, when he transferred it to Judge John Reichard, his cousin, who was fresh from Germany. When it is remembered everything about it, except the drinkers, had to be wagoned from Philadelphia, it is remarkable that he soon commenced enlarging the works and more than kept pace with the growing demands, and thus it was successfully operated with no very great changes until 1874, when the old building was dismantled, torn down, the machinery having been removed to the new and elegant plant. Here with all modern appliances and improvements it has continued to keep pace with a fast age. It is still in the possession and operated by Reichard & Co., composed of George N. Reichard and George Weaver.
The Stegmaier brewery is a more modern build.
Somewhere about 1825 Isaac A. Chapman, the first historian of Wyoming, erected on North River street, near Union street, what was at that time regarded [p.500] as one of the finest residences in the town. Eleazer Carey married Chapman's widow and lived and died in the house. In course of time Caleb E. Wright purchased the property and occupied it many years, but a portion of the lot had been sold. Then Benjamin F. Dorrance became its owner and made his home here until he moved to his Kingston farm. The old place became then a cheap boarding house, until purchased by the Jonas Long estate, when the old landmark was torn down and the present elegant residence, in 1888, was erected. What memories are in the story of even the old dumb buildings.
In 1888 the old building on North Main, near the Record office, where Ziba Bennett commenced business was torn down. This was immediately after he had withdrawn from his connection with George M. Hollenback. By a singular coincidence this building and the old Hollenback store were demolished to make room for better ones, at the same time. At the Bennett place were chopped down some trees that had been planted forty years preceding by Mr. Bennett, a maple measured twenty-nine inches, perfectly sound.
Old Bridge.—The first river bridge at Market street which succeeded the ferry at Northampton street was built for the Willkes-Barre Bridge company, incorporated in 1807, at a cost of $40,000. It was two years in building, and was completed in 1818. In 1819 the first pier was undermined and the first span carried away. The same was repaired by the State at a cost of $13,000. In the winter of 1824-5 a violent hurricane carried the bridge off the piers and deposited it some distance above upon the ice. It was again rebuilt by the aid of the State, which remitted $15,000 in State claims against the county by an act of the legislature, and appointed G. M. Hollenback, Garrick Mallery and Calvin Wadhams commissioners to rebuild the bridge. Andrew Beaumont was appointed by the commissioners to collect the money and let the work. The State claims against the bridge now amounted to $28,000, which were taken up by the company in after years. The Hollenback storehouse was built to accommodate the river traffic in salt, plaster, grain, etc., which was brought down from York state in arks during high water in the river. The salt was in barrels and the plaster in bulk, which was deposited upon the bank and weighed out to farmers in quarter or half tons, as required. The same was true of the "Arndt stone house," which stood opposite the Darling property. John Arndt kept the tavern, which stood upon the site of the Darling property, adjoining which was his store. Thomas Morgan kept the Stage house there in 1830, from which the Troy coaches departed for New York, Philadelphia, etc. As money was scarce in those days, most of the business was barter of produce for goods, and farmers brought grain in wagons many miles to trade. This grain was also deposited in these storehouses, taken from the wagons to the shoulders of the clerks and carried-up into the second story and deposited in the bins. It was in the Arndt stone house that "old Michael" lived alone for many years and died there. In the year 1846 John Myers, not being able to agree with the terms of the Bridge company, started a ferry immediately below the bridge and ran a flat and skiff until he brought the company to terms. The tolls were high, and many farmers and others tied up their teams on the west side and crossed on foot with light produce, and so many took advantage of the free ferry that it was kept going to its capacity. The trade in butter, eggs, etc., was never so great in the town. Butter was worth from 8 to 10 cents, and tons of it were brought in, showing what an advantage a free bridge would have been. Several attempts were made by our merchants to make the bridge free, but they never succeeded, except that they caused a reduction of tolls.
Prominent Men, 1818, who were living in Wilkes-Barre.—For this list we are indebted to Dilton Yarington, who wrote a letter in 1888 to the Historical Record and recalled the past when he was a well-grown youth. In his letter he gave as he remembered them the business men in the borough in 1818, omitting himself. William S. Ross, Lord Butler, Jr., Charles Tracy, Washington Ewing, Jacob E. [p.501] Teeter, Chester A. Colt, David Conner, as he considered them only youths, not yet to be ranked among the "business men." Noah Wadhams and Joshua Green were not that year residents of the place. Rev. Ard Hoyt had gone as missionary to India and he did not mention the "great Indian fighter," Abram Pike, as he was not then engaged in business. A man of whom Historian Miner said: "No man then living had rendered greater service to his country in time of her greatest need." With this explanation we give the following as a valuable directory of Wilkes-Barre business men in 1818:
J. P. Arndt, shipbuilder.
Jacob Cist, merchant.
[p.502] George Evans, lawyer.
George Lane, preacher.
[p.503] Zura Smith, druggist.
Rosewell Wells, lawyer.
As an appendix to this list, a correspondent, "W. J.," sent to the Record in 1887 the following items, of great interest concerning some of the parties named above:
Philip Abbott's son Philip went to St. Paul, Minn. H. C. Anhiser, father of Joseph Anhiser and Mrs. F. Koerner. Ziba Bennett, his son George S. and daughter, Mrs. J. C. Phelps. John L. Butler, father of Frank Butler and Mrs. Judge Woodward Steuben Butler's children, C. E. Butler, Mrs. Alexander Shiras,...and the late William H. Butler. Pierce Butler, his son Pierce,... daughter Mrs. Mary Reynolds, of Kingston. Zebulon Butler, of these there are no sons or daughters now living...Jonathan Bulkley, his son C. L. Bulkley, daughter Mrs. A. R. Brundage...Anthony Brower, daughter Mrs. W. S. Parsons... Isaac Bowman, son Col. Sam; daughter Mary Bowman...Andrew Beaumont, his son Col. E. B. Beaumont, now retired officer of the United States army, and daughter Mrs. Julia Gloninger...Job Barton, sons C. P. Barton and Lehman Barton...Oristus Collins, son Rev. Charles Jewett Collins. George Chahoon, daughters Mrs. Josiah Lewis and Miss Anna Chahoon. Anning O. Chahoon, son Joseph Slocumb Chahoon...Daniel Collings, daughter Mrs. Julia Dougherty, Mrs. J. N. Davidson and Eliza...Henry Colt, son Henry Colt, of Allentown... Isaac Chapman, his son C. I. A. Chapman of Pittston...Jacob Cist, daughters Mrs. H. Wright and Mrs. C. T. McClintock. Frances Dana, daughters Mrs. J. R. Coolbaugh and Mrs. William T. Rhoads...Bateman Downing, Son Reuben... J. J. Dennis, son Capt. J. P. Dennis...John Davis, his son John, and daughter Mary Ann, deceased. James Ely, son Thomas Ely of Kingston...George Haines, daughter Mrs. V. L. Maxwell...James Hancock, son Maj. E. A. of Philadelphia, and D. P. of Peoria, Ill....George Hotchkiss, daughter Mrs. T. W. Robinson...Dr. L. W. Jones, daughter Mrs. Thomas Wilson...J. P. Johnson, son William P. of Dallas, and Wesley Johnson, J. P...John Jameson, daughter Mrs. E. B. Collings, and Mrs. John Chahoon. Amasa Jones, sons Joel and Joseph of Philadelphia...Lewis Ketcham, son W. W. Ketcham...Gilbert Laird, sons J. D. and Grover, and Mrs. Joseph Easterline. Josiah Lewis, his son Josiah...H. F. Lamb, daughter Mary...Peter P. Loop, sons Edward Sterling and John Millard Loop. Charles Miner, son William Penn, and daughter Mrs. Jesse Thomas. Samuel Maffet, son W. R. Maffet...Simon Monega, son C. B., daughter Mrs. P. R. Johnson...Benjamin Perry, daughters reside on Northampton street. Archippus Parrish, sons Charles and George H., daughter Mrs. F. W. Hunt...Joseph Slocum, daughter Mrs. Abi Butler, deceased...George Sively, daughter Mrs. Judge Pfouts...Abram Thomas, daughter Mrs. Washington Lee...E. Taylor, sons John, Thomas and Edmund; daughter Mrs. E. H. [p.504] Chase...Phineas Waller, son Rev. David J. Waller of Bloomsburg...Luther Yarington, son Thomas O. of Reading...Peter Yarington, son Dilton Yarington of Carbondale...John P. Arndt and family removed to Green Bay, Wis., one son was drowned in the Susquehanna, another was shot by a fellow member, and died on the floor of the Wisconsin territorial legislature...Amasa Jones, sons Joel and Joseph. Amasa had lost a leg, and as corks were not then known he was called "Peg Leg." He was a broom-maker. His son Joel became a distinguished judge of Philadelphia, and Joseph a distinguished preacher... Jesse Fell (history given elsewhere.)...Moses Wood, an Englishman, brought considerable money to this country, and a large family of sons. John G. and George B. Wood are grandsons. David Scott, surviving descendants E. Greenough Scott and Rev. Charles H. Skidder, grandsons...George Dennison had two sons, Henry M. and George; one married a daughter of Pres. John Tyler... Francis Du Puy of Pittston, is grandson of Ralph D. Lacoe. Anderson Dana, his grandson, Gen. E. L. Dana...Joseph Davis, never married, became crazy, and shot and killed a man on Hazel street; spent the remainder of his days in an asylum. Barnet Ulp, grandfather of the Misses Alexander...Gilbert Barnes, grandsons Stewart L. and Albert Barnes...Abraham Pike, daughter Mrs. Hannah Porter...Joshua Miner, grandson Dr. J. L. Miner...Dr. G. W. Trott, grandfather of Judge Stanley Woodward.
This correspondent says that in the first list of the men of 1818 that in the upper part of Wilkes-Barre township there are many prominent names not mentioned. To the list he adds Benjamin Cortright, father of John M. and James Cortright; "Uncle Fritz" Wagner; near him James Stark, farmer and merchant; his sons, Henry and John M. Stark, of West Pittston; John Stark, of Mill Creek, father of John Stark, Mrs. G. M. Miller and Mrs. O. A. Parsons; Cornelius Stark, father of Col. B. F. Stark; Crandall Wilcox owned the place afterward the property of John Searl, and his son, Samuel Wilcox, worked in the mines. Then Thomas Williams owned the John Mitchell farm; his sons, Thomas, Ezra and George W. Williams. Then the next was Thomas Osborne, laborer, of "Punkin Hollow." He was great- grandfather of the Misses Wildoners, of Wilkes-Barre; Stephen Abbott, farmer, and his son, John Abbott, father of Cassie and Lucy Abbott; Benjamin Bailey, tanner and currier at the corners; Cornelius, or "Case," Courtright, shoemaker; Hiram Post, laborer; Thomas Joslyn, laborer. His son, Thomas, was the first man who lost his life in the mines in this region; Thomas Wooley, farmer, and his large family of sons and daughters; Mathias Hollenback, miller, called "Crazy Matt," who was insane for years; George Dickover, mason and plasterer; his son, William Dickover; Hezekiah Parsons, of Laurel Run, farmer and manufacturer; his son, Calvin Parsons; Stephen Gould, on the Lehigh on the road above Mr. Parsons' place.
C. E. Wright pleasantly tells of the great old-time dancing masters in Wilkes- Barre, as follows: "I doubt if anything makes a deeper impression on the young than the glory of the first dancing school. If any exception be taken to this assertion, all I can say in return is, I am speaking for myself.
"The first teacher I had the honor of performing under was a sedate gentleman by the name of Tobias, from Lancaster. That city had produced some distinguished men, but in my view none were equal to Mr. Tobias. He was a man of good presence, good manner, had the use of his heels and was a medium violinist.
"I think it was in 1839 he opened his school at Morgan's, on the present site of Mr. Darling's dwelling in Wilkes-Barre. and another at Atherton's hotel in Plymouth. To get all out of the thing that was in it, I attended both. It was an easy matter, on a good horse, to ford the river at Plymouth, pass up through the Inman and Lazarus flats, and thence on to Morgan's. Dark nights or stormy ones, or even a slight freshet, was no hindrance to an ambitious youth of nineteen, in search of knowledge. All the young damsels of the county seat attended the school. This probably had some weight, for that class of young ladies has never been excelled.
[p.507] "After this, probably the outcrop of Mr. Tobias' labors amongst us, there was the annual ball on February 22, at the Phoenix. To this came the notables of Berwick, Danville, Bloom, Tunkhannock and other outlying cities.
"Porter, the memorable landlord of the Phcenix, had what was called a spring floor. It was over the long dining-room and supported only at the sides of the apartment. The combined tramp of many feet, in time with the band, produced a vibratory motion, something like the teeter of a buckboard. It always seemed a wonder to me the whole affair didn't crash down with its live freight.
"This short history, pertaining to the subject of the dance, would be deficient without mention of Messrs. Morton and Jones. They were the successors of Mr. Tobias. Their school, very large and successful, was at the Dennis hotel, where is now the National bank.
"Mr. Morton, from Philadelphia, was a very polite gentleman, short of build, yellow-haired, florid complexion and frolicsome on his legs as a young colt. I never look at the picture of Pickwick, in his oratorical attitude, but it reminds me of Morton. Mr. Jones, per contra, was a very slim young gentleman. Nature must have had a fiddler in view, when drafting the plans and specifications of his makeup. He had the most delicate of hands, with fingers like straws. How could he be else than a prime manipulator of the strings?
"I suppose it would be proper to seek pardon for making reference to matters of such minor importance, knowing that the cotillion has gone down with many other barbaric usages of our ancestors. Our more favored lasses of the present day will scarce thank me for calling off their attention from the german, the polka, the waltz and other matters coming in on the tide of reform."
Mrs. Jesse Thomas, on the occasion of dismantling the old house at the corner of Franklin and Union streets, in 1887, gave her recollections of the building and times of nearly seventy-five years ago that are very interesting. The house was built by her father, Hon. Charles Miner, about 1811, and under its roof she and her brother, William Penn Miner, were born. Mr. Miner sold the house in 1817 to the distinguished jurist, Judge Burnside, on the occasion of his removing to West Chester, to establish there the Village Record. The other corners of the streets, except the one afterward built on by Hon. Andrew Beaumont, were built upon prior to Mr. Miner's. The one on the southwest corner is the only one of the four left. This was the Evans house, its owner being quite a prominent citizen. On the northeast corner, where is now the Stickney block, was the old Palmer house, known latter as the "old Red house." The Palmers were a large family, afterward removed to Mount Holly. The Beaumont house was built in the approaching canal days and originally intented for a warehouse. She says when she can first remember, Franklin street ended at Union street and above Union it was called "Green lane" and was the favorite playground in the first and second decade of the century. The only house above Union was Capt. Bowman's, latterly the residence of Mrs. Col. A. H. Bowman.
Mrs. Thomas' description of her father's printing office, as well as her account of how in this old office her father had used wooden type to teach his blind daughter the alphabet and finally how to read, and when the child was sent to a blind school she was the first ever admitted who could read, how this blind daughter in time became her father's amanuensis and his great aid in writing his History of Wyoming. She had a remarkable memory and would accompany her father and listen to the old pioneers tell over their stories of the past and then so readily and accurately recall them when wanted by the writer as he progressed with his history. This valuable history is now out of print and in the interests, if nothing else of the libraries and schools of the world, a new edition should be printed, and the invaluable work placed within the reach of all students of history. It will remain the history of Wyoming valley par excellence. Its correctness as history, its brilliance in every line, weaves the facts into a story of transcendent interest. If it has ever been [p.508] criticised adversely, that criticism has never gone farther than the alleged fault that a careful reading would disclose the fact that the author was a federalist.
Charles Miner was a native of Connecticut, born in 1780, and came to Wyoming in 1799, and located in Wilkes-Barre, where his brother, Asher (great-grandfather of the present Asher Miner), had established the Luzerne County Federalist in 1801, which time the Wilkes-Barre Gazette, by Thomas Wright, ceased publication. Asher Miner married the only daughter of Thomas Wright, and Charles Miner married Wright's grand-daughter, Letitia, daughter of Joseph Wright. In 1807 Charles Miner was elected to the legislature, re-elected the following year. In 1810 he sold the Federalist to his two apprentices, Steuben Butler and Sidney Tracy. He resumed the office in 1811, sold in 1816 to Isaac A. Chapman, then located in West Chester. In 1824 he was elected to congress, reelected two years later. In 1825 he was joined by his brother, Asher, and they published the Village Record until its sale by them in 1834. Charles returned to the valley in 1832 and Asher in 1834, and they ended their days on adjoining farms at Miner's Mills.
From old newspapers the following: "This line has commenced running regularly between Wilkes-Barre, Northumberland, Williamsport, Harrisburg and Philadelphia and intermediate places. The boat leaves Wilkes-Barre daily at 2 o'clock p.m., and arrives at Northumberland every morning at 7:30 o'clock and at Harrisburg the following evening at 9 o'clock, where passengers will remain over night and take the railroad cars next morning for Philadelphia, etc., through in 48 hours from Wilkes-Barre. Fare to Northumberland, $2; fare to Harrisburg, $4; fare to Philadelphia, $8. For freight or passage apply to P. McC. Gilchrist, Phoenix hotel, Wilkes-Barre, May 7, 1839."
(In our days of "apprenticeship," cheap fuel and rapid transit such things seem very antiquated. Will the next half century bring the consummation, a new caloric and aerial yachts?)
Runaway Apprentice.—In the Wilkes-Barre papers of that day such advertisements as the following appear, accompanied by a picture of a little fellow galloping off with a bundle tied to a stick and thrown over his shoulder:
"Six Cents Reward.—Ran away from the subscriber on the 12th inst., James Pringle, an indented apprentice to the farming business; he was about fourteen years of age, of light complexion; he had on when he went away butternut colored pantaloons and frock coat. All persons are forbid harboring or trusting him on my account as no charges will be paid. Isaac Smith, Exeter township, April 9, 1836."
Coal Fifty Years Ago.—(A card.) I am now ready to deliver coal to the citizens of Wilkes-Barre at the following prices, viz.: At the shute, lump coal per ton of 2,240 pounds, $1. 25; broken coal and raked, $1.12; fine coal without screening, 75 cents; lime burner's coal, per bushel, 1½ cents, and 25 cents per ton additional for hauling.
The Wilkes-Barre and Wyoming Valley Traction, Company.—President, B. F. Meyers; secretary and treasurer, John Graham. With the beginning of the year 1891 there were in Wilkes-Barre horse-car street railways to Kingston and Luzerne, to Ashley and the suburban road, when some enterprising gentlemen came here, and, in connection with some of the citizens, formed a stock company and purchased the franchises of these lines, and consolidated them under the name given at the head of this paragraph. The company commenced the work of converting the new line into electric roads in October, 1891, and have built and completed the road to Pittston, passing through Kingston, Dorranceton, Forty Fort, Wyoming and on to West Pittston; also have extended their electric line to Plymouth, Nanticoke, Ashley and Sugar Notch. This is one of the most extensive street railway lines by electric power in this country and the system, when complete will have from forty-five to fifty miles of trackage, operating within the immediate suburbs of Wilkes-Barre, making the valley practically a part and parcel of this city of 120,000 people. The immense patronage of all these lines well demonstrate the long-felt want of this the most [p.509] important improvement that has been added to the city in this generation, and the company find that it is nearly impossible to build and stock the road to keep pace with the public demand. There is but little doubt that next season the line will be extended on the east side of the river to Pittston. The incorporators of the company: John J. Patterson, John Graham, W. F. Sadler. G. Mortimore Lewis, Robert McMeen, J. Howard Neeley. As an evidence of the capacity of these lines it is estimated that at the recent Columbus celebration in Wilkes-Barre their trains handled 45,000 people, and the entire system is not yet completed.
Upper Wagon Bridge was built in 1877-8 and opened to the public, September 1, 1888. The company built in fact three bridges—two of them over culverts connected with the main iron bridge by a heavy grade macadam road. The entire improvement cost $141,000. John B. Reynolds, president; Pierce Butler, secretary; directors: Stephen B. Vaughan, C. E. Stegmaier, T. F. Ryman, Dr. Ed Gumpert, E. R. Troxell, P. M. Gilligan, Liddon Flick, John P. Warwick.
Banks.—A branch of the Philadelphia bank was established in Wilkes-Barre in 1810. It was on River street in a building of late owned by Mrs. Ulp. It was run until l820 and closed. Stewart Pearce said that the effect of this bank here was to drain the county of specie. At one time Steuben Butler and Col. Bowman, directors of the bank, took $40,000 in silver in wagons to Philadelphia. Philip Reed was the wagoner. After this bank closed the Wilkes-Barre and Easton turnpike issued "Shinplaster" notes, as much as $10,000 at one time being out. All received it, as this practically was the only money in the country. These convenient notes were signed by Lord Butler and Stephen Tuttle. This was an important recruiting station in 1812, and it is said that army officers issued their individual notes in $1 and $2 and these passed as money.
In 1816 the Susquehanna Bank of Wilkes-Barre was incorporated; Joseph Sinton, president of the board. A wave of hard times, however, prevented the institution from ever opening its doors to the public.
Wyoming National Bank was organized November 16, 1829, under its present name, except "National." Its charter is dated November 4, 1829. William Ross, Henderson Gaylord, John N. Conyngham, William Swetland, Isaac Bowman were commissioners to receive subscriptions. The directors were Benjamin Dorrance, William Ross, John N. Conyngham, George N. Hollenback, O. Collins, Ziba Bennett, William Swetland, H. Gaylord, James Nesbitt, Jr., Steuben Butler, Abraham Thomas and Miller Horton; officers: Col. Benjamin Dorrance, president; Ziba Bennett, secretary of the board until a cashier should be chosen; Edward Lynch, cashier. Benjamin Dorrance resigned the presidency May 18, 1831, but was re-elected and served until May 30, 1832; again resigned and George M. Hollenback was elected and served until his death, November 1, 1866. Gen. William S. Ross elected president and served until he died, June 11, 1868; succeeded by Hon. Ziba Bennett; resigned May 9, 1878; succeeded by Col. Charles Dorrance, who continued in the office until his death, January, 1892, when the present incumbent was elected to the vacancy.
March 17, 1861, the bank moved into its present home, corner of Franklin and Market streets, which, with the adjoining building on Market street, is owned by the bank. It became a national bank January 19, 1865. Capital, $150,000; surplus, $210,000. Officers: Sheldon Reynolds, president; Charles A. Miner, vice-president; George H. Flanagan, cashier; directors: Sheldon Reynolds, Charles A. Miner, Henry M. Hoyt, George S. Bennett, Charles D. Foster, B. M. Espy, F. A. Phelps, Andrew H. McClintock and Irving A. Stearns.
First National Bank, organized April 14, 1863; chartered July 21, following, and opened its doors to the public August 8, with a capital of $51,500. The first president and cashier were James McLean and Thomas Wilson, respectively. The capital has been increased and is now $375,000; surplus $130,000. Officers and directors: William S. McLean, president; H. H. Ashley, vice-president; P. M. Carhart, cashier; Samuel H. Lynch, M. W. Wadhams, C. Stegmaier, Jesse Beadle, Charles P. Hunt, George Loveland.
[p.510] The Second National Bank, organized September 23, 1863, with a capital of $250,000, which has been increased to $450,000, and having a surplus of $145,000. First officers were Thomas T. Atherton, president; M. L. Everett, cashier; Present officers and board of directors: Abram Nesbitt, president; R. F. Walsh, vice- president; Isaac Everett, T. H. Atherton, R. T. Black, L. D. Shoemaker, E. H. Jones, George F. Nesbitt, John M. Ward; cashier, E. W. Mulligan.
Anthracite Savings Bank.—Capital $100,000; surplus $19,000; deposits special and general, $621,632.37. Officers and directors: Benjamin Reynolds, president; Andrew F. Derr, vice-president; C. W. Laycock, cashier; A. N. Rippard, assistant cashier; Benjamin Reynolds, H. A. Fuller, A. H. Dickson, George N. Reichard, Andrew F. Derr, H. W. Palmer, Bernhard Long, William Stoddart, T. F. Ryman.
Bankers.—F. V. Rockafellow & Co., one of the oldest and most reliable banking institutions of Wilkes-Barre.
The Miners' Savings Bank was incorporated by an act of February 13, 1868, and was the first savings bank in the city, the purpose being to establish a savings bank and loan company with powers to transact any other business done by banks in Pennsylvania, and to act as executor or administrator of any deceased testator or intestate. The capital stock is $150,000; the surplus over $50,000. The first officers chosen were: A. C. Laning, president; Ziba Bennett, Walter G. Sterling and A. T. McClintock, vice-presidents; J. A. Rippard. cashier. Present capital, $150,000; surplus, $220,000; deposits, $1,560,465.99. Officers and directors: N. Rutter, president; David P. Ayars, cashier; N. Rutter, T. S. Hillard, A. H. McClintock, H. W. Palmer, Andrew F. Derr, W. L. Conyngham, William J. Harvey, Allan H. Dickson, John Laning.
The Wilkes-Barre Deposit and Savings Bank was organized May 20, 1871, with an authorized capital of $300,000, $150,000 of which was paid in by the stockholders, and began business July 1, 1871. The first directors were Joseph Lippincott, C. L. Lamberton, Stanley Woodward, C. Brahl, J. McNeish, Jr., W. W. Ketcham, J. P. Williamson, A. J. Pringle and F. J. Helfrich; president, Joseph Lippincott; cashier, J. P. Williamson. Present capital stock, $150,000; surplus, $115,000; deposits special and general, $1,098,538.52. Officers and directors: President, A. H. Van Horn; vice-president, Christian Brahl; cashier, J. C. Bell; A. H. Van Horn, Christian Brahl, Joseph Birkbeck, Morgan B. Williams, Fred Ahlborn, W. W. Amsbry, Woodward Leavenworth, J. J. Roberts, Jr.
The People's Bank was organized and commenced business July 1, 1872, with a capital of $250,000, with authority to increase the same to $1,000,000, $125,000 was called in immediately, and in 1874 the balance of the $250,000 was called in and paid up, since which time (with two exceptions), a regular semiannual dividend has been declared and paid free of all taxes. This institution moved into its new quarters in the summer of 1892. Capital, $250,000; surplus, $160,134.46; deposits, $718,525.73. Directors: J. W. Hollenback, A. J. Davis, H. B. Hillman, Isaac H. Thomas, Edward Welles, O. B. Macknight, Calvin Parsons, F. J. Leavenworth, Isaac P. Hand, Thomas H. Atherton, A. A. Sterling; J. W. Hollenback, president; F.J. Leavenworth, vice-president; A. A. Sterling, cashier.
The Wilkes-Barre Water Company was incorporated by act of the legislature February 12, 1850. The corporators were: George M. Hollenback, Samuel P. Collings, Henry M. Fuller, W. J. Woodward, Lord Butler, Thomas W. Miner, Peter C. McGilchrist, Harrison Wright, Calvin Parsons, Ziba Bennett, George P. Steel, Samuel Puterbaugh, Oliver B. Hillard, Edward M. Covell, Sharp D. Lewis, Francis L. Bowman and Joseph Le Clerc; president, Hendrick B. Wright; secretary and treasurer, Isaac S. Osterhout; managers, Alexander Gray, John Orquhart, William Wood, Charles Parrish, John Reichard and Samuel R. Marshall. The original capital stock was $40,000, with the privilege of increasing it to $80,000. By subsequent amendments it has been increased from time to time, and in 1879 amounted to $220,000. The company has about thirty-five miles of cement and [p.511] wrought-iron pipe laid, the source of water supply being Laurel run and Mill creek.
The Crystal Spring Water Company was chartered April 11, 1861. Its source of supply is a large pond of the same name in the northeast part of Wright township, south of Wilkes-Barre, one of the sources of Big Wapwallopen creek. The company has $80,000 in capital stock, and bonds to the same amount. Officers: J. R. Maxwell, president; Walter Gaston, secretary and treasurer; Elmer Lawall, manager; Ieorworeh Jones, superintendent and engineer.
Laflin Water Company.—Charles Parrish, president; W. C. Allen, secretary; Walter Gaston, treasurer.
Honey Brook Water Company.—J. R. Maxwell, president; E. W. Marple, secretary and treasurer; Elmer H. Lawall, manager.
The Wilkes-Barre Gas Company was charted in 1854, and the works were constructed in 1856. The present capital stock of the company is $130,000. It has eighteen miles of main laid, and makes 20,000,000 cubic feet of gas per annum, furnishing gas for city lamps and lighting most of the leading business places and private residences. Officers: William S. Cunningham, president; A. A. Sterling, vice-president and treasurer; Marcus Smith, secretary and superintendent.
Wilkes-Barre Electric Light Company.—The plant was built and started operations in 1884, and the first arc light ever lit in the city blazed out on the night of April 1, 1884. Officers: Sheldon Reynolds, president; Isaac Long, vice-president; H. A. Fuller, secretary and treasurer; T. W. O'Brien, superintendent.
The Wilkes-Barre City Hospital was opened for the reception of patients October 10, 1872. There is also a board of visiting lady managers. Prior to the winter of 1874 the support of the hospital was derived entirely from voluntary contributions made by the people of the city. Since that time appropriations have been made by the State as follows: In 1885 a lot containing about four acres, on River street, near Mill creek, affording an elegant site for a hospital building, was presented by John Welles Hollenback. During the winter of 1875-6 the new hospital building was erected on this lot, and was occupied April 1, 1876, capable of accommodating from seventy-five to 100 beds. Officers: president, Hon, C. A. Miner; vice-president, J. W. Hollenback; treasurer, G. Murray Reynolds; secretary, E. H. Chase; directors: J. Welles Hollenback, S. J. Strauss, Irving A. Stearns, George S. Bennett, G. M. Reynolds, Charles A. Miner, Richard Sharpe, Jr., C. M. Conyngham, E. H. Chase, A. T. McClintock, Liddon Flick; executive committee: Messrs. Miner, Chase, Phillips, Reynolds and Sharpe; board of lady managers: Mrs. C. M. Conyngham, president; Mrs. J. V. Darling, vice- president; Miss E. W. Mayer, secretary; Mrs. S. L. Brown, Mrs. A. A. Sterling, Mrs. M. L. Driesbach, Mrs. A. J. Davis, Mrs. A. Farnham, Mrs. R. J. Flick, Miss. Laura G. Brower; resident physician, Dr. H. C. Masland; attending physicians: Drs. Murphy, Fell, Shoemaker, Guthrie, Davis and Harvey; consulting physicians: Drs. Ross and Crawford; registrar, Dr. W. S. Stewart; ophthalmologist, Dr. L. H. Taylor. Cost of maintenance per year (approximately), $15,000.
Nearly 400 patients were treated during 1891; deaths, 20; 259 cured and 76 benefited. Of the whole number 245 were surgical cases. Less than one-fifth were pay patients.
Home for Friendless Children is one of the noble charities of Wilkes-Barre. George B. Kulp, in his Families of the Wyoming Valley, expresses the fact that Mrs. Ziba Bennett (nee, Priscilla E. Lee) was chiefly the originator and founder. She had given very largely to her church and in many ways shown a most liberal Christian spirit of charity. March 22, 1862, a number of ladies interested in benevolent works met at the house of Mrs. Bennett. This meeting had a purpose, and resulted in the first steps toward building the present "Home" on South Franklin street, between Ross and Academy streets. This elegant and spacious edifice is one of the interesting objects of the city, and has indeed been a "Home" to many a [p.512] poor orphan that otherwise would have been a waif upon the uncertain charity of the world. At this meeting a board of lady managers was chosen and Mrs. Bennett was chosen treasurer, and the society was soon after incorporated. The management of this noble institution is in the hands of twenty-four women, who regularly meet once a month. For many years Mrs. Bennett has been the efficient president of the "Home," and to her guidance, council and aid much of its success is due.
Officers: President, L. D. Shoemaker; vice-presidents, Richard Sharpe and J. W. Hollenback; secretary, John C. Phelps; treasurer, Francis A. Phelps; trustees, J. W. Hollenback, Richard Sharpe, Hon. L. D. Shoemaker, F. J. Leavenworth, John C. Phelps, Edwin Shortz, Andrew T. McClintock, Francis A. Phelps, Marx Long, Hon. Stanley Woodward, C. M. Conyngham, Charles Morgan; M. B. Houpt, A. H. Dickson, Isaac M. Thomas.
Lady managers: President, Mrs. Ziba Bennett; vice-president, Mrs. E. G. Scott; secretary, Mrs. G. M. Reynolds; treasurer, Mrs. J. C. Phelps; Mrs. A. R. Brundage, Mrs. R. J. Flick, Mrs. T. S. Hillard, Mrs. F. W. Hunt, Miss Mary Ingham, Mrs. George B. Kulp, Mrs. F. J. Leavenworth, Mrs. M. B. Houpt, Mrs. Fred Mercur, Mrs. T. C. North, Mrs. Thomas W. Brown, Mrs. Susan Beach, Mrs. F. V. Rockafellow. Mrs. William H. Sturdevant, Mrs. Isaac M. Thomas, Mrs. Mathew Wood, Mrs. Stanley Woodward. Miss Hetty Wright, Mrs. Garrett Smith, Mrs. E. C. Wadhams, Mrs. J. C. Phelps.
Average number of children, forty-five; a small annuity from an invested fund, about $800 per annum from paid boarders, and the balance from private donations, make up the $4,000 annually necessary to maintain the home.
Telephone.—This important addition to modern civilization first received the attention of the people of Wilkes-Barre in the summer of 1877. Some of the good people had heard of the curious invention by which people could talk and distinctly hear each other, though a mile or more apart. A few had seen it in the city, but they were like the man's sign about touching it: "Don't monkey with the buzz-saw." But the movement was seriously set on foot by several of the enterprising men of the city, and it was resolved to establish the Wilkes-Barre Telephone exchange. William L. Raeder, aided by L. C. Kinsly, proceeded to get subscribers to the new enterprise, and their efforts were soon crowned with success, and the exchange office opened February 1, 1880. After it was well established, in 1882, the company was consolidated with the Scranton company and formed the North Pennsylvania Telephone & Supply company. The long-distance telephone is now reaching out from Wilkes-Barre to all portions of the county, recently making connections to reach all the principal cities of the East and Chicaoo by the line just completed from New York to the latter place.
Board of Trade.—The Wilkes-Barre board of trade, after the usual abortive attempts to establish such an institution, was permanently organized in 1884, when a charter was granted and the following officers elected: president, C. M. Conyngham; first vice-president, S. L. Brown; second vice-president, Isaac Long; treasurer, F. V. Rockafellow; secretary, George A. Wells. The only change in the officers were the late J. K. Bogert became president; he was succeeded by Col. G. Murray Reynolds. Mr. Wells was succeeded as secretary by Leo W. Long. A committee consisting of Hon. C. Ben Johnson, G. Mortimer Lewis and Maj. C. N. Conyngham was appointed when the interest in the institution began to lag, and they gave it a fresh impetus, and since then it has been quite successful. Hon. C. Ben Johnson was made secretary, rooms fitted up, and the membership soon swelled to 300.
Industries.—In 1810 there were in the township thirty-three hand looms, and during a year which included a portion of the one mentioned, 129 yards of cotton, 1,717 yards of woolen and 6,531 yards of linen cloth were manufactured. Francis McShane established a small cut-nail factory at Wilkes-Barre, using anthracite coal for smelting iron, and for several years conducted a successful wholesale and retail [p.513] business. There was in the early days of the borough the usual diversity of mechanics' shops, and the proprietors changed from time to time, rendering the tracing of the history of these common industries more than difficult.
A large rolling-mill and nail factory was erected at South Wilkes-Barre by Thomas Chambers, E. R. Biddle and others in 1840, at a cost of $300,000. The firm became involved and the establishment was sold to satisfy a debt due the Wyoming bank; and, passing into the hands of the Montour Iron company, was removed to Danville, Montour county.
In 1840 Lewis Le Grand opened a blacksmith and general jobbing, ironing and repair shop on South Main street. In 1859 he began the manufacture of wagons— his main shop having been erected in 1857. In 1871-3 D. R. Malvin was a partner in the concern. December 4, 1872, C. D. Le Grand, son of Lewis Le Grand, patented the well-known buckboard wagon, since so extensively manufactured at this establishment. November 11, 1878, the patent was renewed to cover recently perfected improvements. In 1842 H. S. & E. Renwick, of New York, erected an anthracite furnace, operated by steam power, and carried on the manufacture of pig- iron for about a year; but the furnace was subsequently permitted to lie idle until 1854, when it was purchased by John McCanley and the Messrs. Carter of Tamaqua, who enlarged it and began business on quite an extensive scale. The iron ore and limestone were brought from Columbia county by canal, and the works, under the supervision of Mr. McCanley, yielded six tons of iron per day. In 1856 the establishment was burned.
Planing Mills.—In 1844 S. Y. Kittle established himself as a manufacturer of furniture on South Main street, below Ross. He introduced improved machinery from time to time, and putting in power planers about twenty years later, engaged quite extensively in the manufacture of planed lumber and moldings. He was the inventor of Kittle's patent carving machine. In January, 1854, Price & Wetzel established a planing mill at the corner of Canal and Union streets, where buildings were erected for that purpose. A year later the firm became Price & Haas. Ten years afterward C. B. Price became sole proprietor, and remained so until 1876, when the firm became C. B. Price & Son. About 1864 the original buildings were burnt and replaced by others, which were torn down in a dozen years, after the erection of the present commodious accomodations on Canal street, near Market. Operations at the planing mill on Canal street now the property of the estate of Stephen Lee, deceased, were begun about 1855.
The establishment, after passing through the hands of several proprietors, became the property of Hamilton & Brew, of whom the late Stephen Lee purchased it in 1867. Since his death, in 1874, the business has been conducted by his sons, Conrad and Samuel N. Lee, executors of his will, and builders, furnishers and dealers in all kinds of lumber. Another leading establishment in this line of manufacture and trade, is that of J. E. Patterson & Co., on Canal street at the corner of Jackson, which has an extended trade and reputation, having received the Centennial medal for its doors, etc.
The Vulcan Iron Works.—The Vulcan Iron works, one of the most important manufacturing interests in the city, were founded by Richard Jones in 1849, and successfully conducted by him until 1866, when a stock company was formed and incorporated with a capital stock of $100,000, of which Richard Jones was president and superintendent, and Robert T. Block secretary and treasurer. The company began at once to increase the capacity of the works by building a substantial brick machine shop 75x100 feet, and equipped with the most modern tools, and a three- story brick pattern house. The constant demand for heavy machinery manufactured at these works compelled the company to further enlarge their manufacturing capacity by the erection of a new foundry and pattern shop, 80xl65 feet, and a smith and boiler shop 66x130 feet, in 1873, when the capital stock had increased to $200,000. During the progress of these improvements Mr. Richard Jones died. He was [p.514] succeeded by L. C. Paine as president, and E. H. Jones, son of the former president, became superintendent. The works cover an area of about eight acres, fronting 400 feet on Main street and extending 634 feet back. Tracks and sidings run into the shops from the Lehigh Valley railroad, with a turntable by which cars can be directed into any department of the establishment.
The company have four large buildings and two more being erected, a boiler shop and a new smith shop. Their product is all kinds of machinery and boilers; number of employes 250; output $500,000.
The Wyoming shops on Hazle street are a branch and belong to the same company. They were built in 1872; employes 100, and the product is machinery and locomotives. Officers: E. H. Jones, general manager; Fred G. Smith, treasurer; H. B. Hillman, secretary. The charter members of this concern and directors were Richard Jones, Henry B. Wright, Thomas F. Atherton, Lewis C. Paine, George W. Woodward, Stewart Pearce, Nathanial Rutter, Stephen Bowles, Robert T. Black, Joseph Stickney, Lewis Landmesser.
The company also have extensive shops in West Pittston.
Thus from the very humblest beginning this has grown to be one of the largest and most important industries in the city.
The Wyoming Valley Manufacturing Company.—In 1866 Jonathan Mooers & Son had a small foundry at the corner of Main and Dana streets. Mr. Milton Dana and others afterward becoming interested, the firm name was changed to Dana & Co. April 5, 1867, a charter was granted to William L. Stewart and others under the name of the Wyoming Valley Manufacturing company, and the following officers were elected: E. W. Sturdevant, president; E. Robinson, vice-president; F. Koerner, secretary and treasurer; Milton Dana, assistant secretary; William L. Stewart, superintendent. The company enlarged the capacity of the foundry and erected a frame machine shop, a car shop and other necessary buildings on the same location, but as the business increased it became necessary to secure more room. New brick buildings were erected on lands purchased of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation company, immediately adjoining the railroad and affording increased facilities for receiving material and shipping manufactured articles. At these works are manufactured every description of light and heavy machinery, including steam engines for shafts, slopes, planes, coal breakers, blast and rolling mills; double and single acting pumps of every variety for mining and other purposes; mills for powder making, locomotives, flue, tubral and cylinder boilers, of the best Pennsylvania charcoal boiler plate; forging of all kinds, and iron and brass casting of every description. The wire rope machinery of the Hazard Manufacturing company was made at this establishment.
The Hazard Manufacturing Company, manufacturers of iron and steel wire ropes, is the outgrowth of a business in the same line established by Fisher Hazard, of Mauch Chunk, at that place in 1848. The growing demand for such a manufactory in the heart of the anthracite coal region led to its removal to Wilkes-Barre December 1, 1867. A stock company was formed, of which Fisher Hazard was elected president; E. B. Leisenring, treasurer, and T. C. North, superintendent and secretary. In 1868 the company was chartered, Charles Parrish, E. B. Leisenring and Fisher Hazard being the corporators. The ropes manufactured by this company are made of wire drawn at their own factory from the best brands of Swede and Norway iron and a superior quality of steel. All sizes of round and flat, coarse or fine, iron or steel wire rope, for the transmission of power and use on slopes, and capable of turning out 6,000 feet of three-inch wire rope in one piece. Officers: Charles Parrish, president; C. M. Conyngham, vice president; Walter Gaston, secretary and treasurer; Thomas C. North, superintendent.
In the spring of 1860 Fred Ahlborn began the manufacture of soap and chandler's ware. The present factory was erected in 1874. In 1876 the firm became Ahlborn Bros. They are extensive manufacturers of soap and candles and dealers in tallow, sal soda and similar goods.
[p.517] J. H. Brock began the manufacture of wire screens on Canal street about 1874. In 1876 he sold the establishment to Mr. E. H. Hunt, who is doing an extensive and constantly increasing business in the manufacture of woven wrought-iron screens for screening coal. C. A. Becker, manufacturer and dealer in all kinds of earthen ware, Rockingham and yellow ware, and a great variety of stove linings, terra cotta garden vases and flower pots, began business in 1874.
Ladies' Underwear Factory, by Galland Bros. & Co., was established in 1881. This firm is one of the most extensive of its kind in the world. They make ladies' muslin underwear, and in addition to this plant has another in Pittston and a general office in New York. In the works here are 600 employes—using 400 sewing machines and an annual output of 90,000 dozen of their goods.
Wilkes-Barre Pottery was established in 1873 by C. A. Becker, and is a strong and representative concern of the kind, having a two-story building 46x150. Terra cotta ware, stove linings and fire brick are among its specialties.
Wyoming Brush Company was established in 1889. Their large two-story building is in South Wilkes-Barre and gives employment to over 100 hands. The proprietors are John Derby, Christian Walters and Grif. Lunger.
Sheldon Axle Works were organized at Auburn, N. Y., 1867, by Sheldon & Co., as contractors of the Auburn prison convict labor. In 1885 the law of the State of New York prohibited the further employment of convicts. That year a company was formed in Wilkes-Barre and the business at Auburn was purchased and moved to Wilkes-Barre in 1886, the grounds purchased and the plant built that year, commencing operations in December. The company has fourteen acres of ground, about five acres of which are under roof and are supplied with 1,200- horse power steam engines and employs from 400, the minimum, to 700 workmen, being the largest concern of the kind in the world, the output being 350,000 sets per year, valued at about $1,000,000. The plant has a capacity of 1,800 sets per day, running at full force ten hours, cutting thirty tons of steel and using, fifty tons of coal per day. The chief product going mostly direct to carriage and wagon manufactories or of road vehicles. Their products consisting entirely of axles for carriages, wagons and road vehicles, making a few steel axles for mining cars. The pay-roll of the company runs from $15,000 to $30,000 per month. They recently added a forge shop 70x90 with 150-horse power Corliss engine; have their own track connecting with all railroads, giving them complete facilities for shipment. Their works are located in the north extremity of the city on Conyngham street, near the railroad.
Officers—Charles L. Sheldon, president; N. P. H. Hugus, vice-president and general manager; C. H. Gillam, secretary and treasurer; directors: Charles L. Sheldon, William Brookfield, Edwin H. Jones, N. P. H. Huaus, Thomas H. Atherton, John W. Hollenback, George S. Bennett.
Silk Factory.—By Hess, Goldsmith & Co., silk manufacturers. Plant was built in 1885; the building being erected by the city and leased to the company at a nominal rent. The main building is 200x60, and two stories; the annex is 140x60, one-story; the engine building is 60x60, with a 100-horse power engine. The company spin but a small portion of their thread for a special article; buying their material and weaving mostly dress goods; employ 275 persons. The members of the firm are Leon Hess, Max and Louis Goldsmith, H. J. Spillman, superintendent. The works are located in the extreme south end of the city.
Wilkes-Barre Gun Company.—This institution was moved from Ithaca, N. Y., to Wilkes-Barre and the works built here in 1891, and commenced operation on January 14, 1892. In New York it was known as the "Perry Fire Arms company." The output is hammer and hammerless double-barrel-breech-loading shotguns. The building is 32x130, two-story. The engine-house, also two stories, is 15x30. Average employes, forty. It is a chartered company, and the officers and charter members are Isaac Long, president; George P. Loomis, secretary; Christ Walters, [p.518] treasurer; executive committee: Isaac Long, Jesse T. Morgan, Earnest Roth, J. W. Pattent and Moses M. Wadhams. The works are situated just outside of the south line of the city.
Keystone Roller Mill, M. W. Morris and R. F. Walsh, proprietors. This is a merchant mill, and is the largest of the kind in the city; has the roller process and all modern improvements. The plant was built in 1854 by Horton & Richards, and came into the possession of the present owners in 1864. An addition was built in 1872 and many improvements added. Capacity, 125 barrels per day. Their engine is 125-horse power.
Crescent File & Tool Company was built in 1889, having two buildings, each 150x25. Average employes, fifty. Makes exclusively files and rasps; has a capacity of 300 dozen pieces per day. The company was incorporated in 1889. P. S. Hillard, treasurer and manager; John Teasdale, president; and M. C. Andreas, secretary; Christian Henssler, superintendent; board of directors: John Teasdale, E. E. McCargo, Samuel J. Tonkin, T. S. Hillard, John A. Schmitt, C. E. Stegmaier.
Wilkes-Barre Soap Company was organized and commenced operation in 1889. Employs fifteen men and two traveling salesmen. Officers: G. D. Harrington, president; S. C. Chase, secretary; E. H. Chase, treasurer; Mr. Troutman, superintendent.
Sanson Cutlery Company (incorporated) manufacture table cutlery, knives, forks, etc. Capacity, 10,000 pieces a day. Works built 1887 and commenced business in March, 1888. Officers: Aaron I. Sanson, president; Josiah D. William, secretary; Abram Nesbitt, treasurer; Aaron I. Sanson, Jr., manager. The works are situated in the extreme south end of the city.
Wyoming Boiler Company (limited).—A company formed and commenced operations here in July, 1892. The building is now in course of erection, and as soon as this is completed they will increase their operations largely. The company are making a specialty on a new patent boiler, patented this year by James Pollock. The improvement being extending the heating surface of cylinder boilers. The company also build steam boilers on another patent granted to the same party in 1892. It is anticipated that from a small beginning this will soon grow to be one of our most important industries. The firm is John A. Schmitt, chairman; Woodward Leavenworth, secretary and treasurer; James Pollock, engineer and superintendent.
Wilkes-Barre Lace Factory.—The first industry of the kind started in the United States-the largest and most complete of its kind in the world. It is a chartered company; work was commenced on the plant in 1885; at first but a small building—a wing with two machines operated. In 1887 a large addition was built, 60x193, four-story, for finishing work; in 1888 a dry house, 100x60, was added, and the same year another was added, also four-story, the last 130x30 feet. They commenced with twenty-horse power, and now have 250-horse power. During the summer work was commenced upon an addition, building 245x93 feet, four-story, and a new boiler-house, 93x45. This will give nearly 1,000 added horse power and require 250 more employes to their already 400 men and women. Their output estimated nearly 1,000,000 pairs (curtains) for 1892. Among other of the advantages of the new addition is that of being prepared to take the raw cotton in the bail and turning out the perfect lace. Officers: President, L. D. Shoemaker; vice-president, J. W. Hollenback; treasurer, Clarence Whitman; secretary, H. A. Dunning,; superintendent, John W. Doran.
The Wilkes-Barre Paper Manufacturing Company.—This institution commenced the manufacture of superior grades of straw wrapping paper, gray wrapping paper, butcher's paper, baker's paper, manilla paper, and all kinds of straw paper. It employs about twenty-five men, and is well equipped with first-class machinery, having two 800-pound beating engines, and one forty-eight-inch paper machine. Officers: J. R. Lines, president; J. G. Wood, treasurer, and J. Meeker, manager.
Empire Brewery was started in 1885, by A. M. Bryden, on Canal street. A fine [p.519] four-story brick building with all modern appliances, and has already established an extensive trade, and is rapidly growing in public favor.
Dimmick & Smith Manufacturing Company.—Capital, $10,000. The company occupies the old Charter house, on Hazle street. They manufacture as their specialty the celebrated D. & S. Patent wrought-iron safety boiler for steam heating. Officers: A. M. Dimmick, president; George Loveland, treasurer; F. C. Sturgess, secretary.
Robert Baur & Son.—Printers, publishers, stationers and binders. This has grown from a small country printing office in 1842 to be one of the oldest and leading establishments of the kind in this section of the country. Robert Baur commenced a small bindery here when Wilkes-Barre had less than 3,000 people, and his concern, extending itself into a printing office also; has grown with the growth of the city.
Blank Book and Bindery.—By J. W. Raeder. This is one of the largest institutions of the kind, outside of Philadelphia, in the State, and has grown from the smallest beginning, in April, 1881, to its present mammoth proportion under the supervision of this gentleman, occupying an entire floor of the great Coal Exchange building.
Business.—The classified business of Wilkes-Barre is indicated in the following: Amusements: Grand Opera house (completed in 1892), Music hall (theater), and Wonderland. There are in the city 18 bakeries, 5 cracker factories, 1 turkish bath, 2 basket makers, 1 bedspring factory, 1 belting factory, 2 bird dealers, 26 blacksmiths, 2 blank-book makers, 3 boiler makers, 11 stationers, 22 boot and shoe dealers, 2 shoe jobbers, 62 shoemakers, 3 shoe factories, 2 brass and copper foundries, 3 breweries, 2 brickyards, 1 brush factory, 2 bus lines, 12 carpet weavers, 10 wagon and carriage factories, 3 china and glassware dealers, 36 cigar factories, 3 wholesale tobacco, 17 clothiers and merchant tailors, 6 clubs, 15 coal mines and handlers, 3 coal screen manufactories, 1 coffee roaster, 6 commission merchants, 75 confectioners, 3 wholesale confectioners, 20 dentists, 28 drug stores, 23 dry goods stores, 6 dyers, 4 dealers in electrical supplies, 3 engine and boiler factories, 2 engravers, 5 express companies, 10 fancy stores, 6 florists, 2 flour gristmills, 4 wholesale fruit dealers, 8 furniture stores, 3 galvanized cornices, 7 gents' furnishing, 37 general stores, 172 grocers, 9 wholesale grocers, 1 gun factory, 21 hardware stores, 8 harness and saddle shops, 5 hat and cap stores, 4 heaters and ranges, 52 hotels and restaurants, 8 house furnishing, 2 ice companies, 6 installment stores, 1 lace factory; 1 dealer in ladies' furnishings, 11 laundries, 119 lawyers, 2 leather and findings, 6 lime and plaster, 17 livery stables, 7 lumber yards, 3 mantels and tile, 4 marble and granite, 51 meat markets, 7 wholesale meats, 34 merchant tailors, 2 postal and messenger service, 16 milk dealers, 7 mill and mine supplies, 8 millinery goods, 7 oil dealers, 1 overall factory, 1 paper manufactory, 116 physicians, 6 piano dealers, 4 planing mills, 13 printing offices, 10 produce dealers, 2 soap factories, 8 stone dealers, 7 tea and coffee, 12 undertakers, 2 upholsterers, 17 jewelers, 2 wire rope factories, 5 variety stores.
City Government.—Officers: Mayor, F. M. Nichols; president of council, W. H. McCartney; city clerk, Frank Deitrick; assistant clerk, Fred H. Gates; city treasurer, F. V. Rockafellow; city attorney, W. S. McLean; city engineer and superintendent of sewers, W. V. Ingham; street commissioner, M. Crogan; sanitary officer, Evan L. Evans; engineer of sewers, J. Byron Dilley; high constable, John J. O'Donnell; meat inspector, William O. Reilly; chief of police, B. F. Myers; sergeant of police, T. W. Farrell; house sergeant, James Hall; receiver of taxes, J. W. Gilchrist; chief engineer of fire department, T. S. Hillard; first assistant engineer and superintendent of fire alarm, E. F. Roth; second assistant engineer, A. Constine; city auditors: Wesley Johnson, H. F. Mooney and J. F. Becker; councilmen: Timothy Theophilus, John G. Wood, J. W. Patten, Robert W. Williams, Edward Welles, David P. Ayars, Christopher C. Jones, James F. Marley, C. [p.520] E. Stegmaier, I. M. Kirkendall, D. A. Fell, Jr., John Guinney, W. J. Harvey, Oscar Smith, Morgan B. Williams, W. H. McCartney, J. Gross Meyer, Fred Reutelhuber, W. W. Neuer, Luke French, W. F. Goff.
Taxable property.—Total value $4,821,888. The public streets and highways of the city are lighted by 82 electric lights, 205 gas lamps and 307 naphtha lamps, furnished respectively by the Wilkes-Barre Electric Light company, Wilkes-Barre Gas company and the Pennsylvania Globe Gas Light company.
There are over twenty miles of paved streets, six miles of asphalt, two and a half miles of chestnut blocks, one-half mile cedar blocks, ten miles of cobble and one mile of red sandstone. In the year 1892 the main drainage on Market street was rebuilt and that street converted into asphalt pavement.
City of Wilkes-Barre.—Incorporated as a borough, March 17, 1806; incorporated as a city, May 4, 1871; area, 4.14 square miles; number of streets and avenues, 206; total length of accepted highways, 51.65; population, as per census 1890, 37,718.
Burgesses of the borough of Wilkes-Barre.—May, 1806-11, Jesse Fell; May, 1811-4, Lord Butler; May, 1814-9, Jesse Fell; May, 1819-20, Matthias Hollenback; May, 1820-3, Thomas Dyer; May, 1823-4, Ebenezer Bowman; May, 1824-7, David Scott; May, 1827-8, John N. Conyngham; May, 1828-9, Garrick Mallery; May, 1829-30, George Denison; May 1830-3, Josiah Lewis; May, 1833-4, Orlando Porter; May, 1834-8, John N. Conyngham; May, 1838-9, Hendrick B. Wright; May, 1839-41, Joseph B. LeClerc; May, 1841-3, Isaac Grey; May, 1843-4, Eleazer Carey; *May, 1844-5, Augustus C. Laning; May, 1846-8, Joseph B. Williams; May, 1848-9, Gilbert Barrows; May, 1849-50, Benjamin Drake; May, 1850-1, Sidney Tracey; May, 1851-2, Oliver Helme, Jr.; May, 1852-3, Charles A. Lane; May, 1853-5, H. Baker Hillman; May, 1855-62, W. W. Loomis; May, 1862-5, C. Bennett; May, 1865-6, E. B. Harvey; May, 1866-8, J. B. Stark; May, 1868, to September 1870, David L. Patrick; September, 1870, to October, 1870, William S. Doran; October, 1870, to June, 1871, Ira M. Kirkendall.
*[In consequence of the neglect of officers whose duty it was to advertise time of holding borough election no election was held. Council of preceding year held over.]
Mayors of City of Wilkes-Barre: June, 1871-4, Ira M. Kirkenhall; June, 1874, to February, 1877, M. A. Kerney; April, 1877-80, W. W. Loomis; April, 1880, to February, 1886, Thomas Brodrick; February, 1886, to April, 1893, C. B. Sutton; April, 1892, to —, F. M. Nichols.
Presidents of the Council: May, 1806-8, Lord Butler; May, 1808-9, Ebenezer Bowman; May 1809-10, Jesse Fell; May, 1810-11, Joseph Sinton; May, 1811-14, Jesse Fell; May, 1814-6, Col. E. Buckley; May, 1816-8, Joseph Sinton; May 1818-9, Joseph Slocum; May, 1819-20, Ebenezer Bowman; May, 1820-3, Jesse Fell; May, 1823-4, George Dennison; May, 1824-5, Benjamin Drake; May, 1825-6, Joseph Sinton; May, 1826-7, Arnold Colt; May, 1827-8, John W. Robinson; May, 1828-9, Arnold Colt; May, 1829-30, Joseph Slocum; May, 1830-1, William S. Ross; May, 1881-3, Thomas H. Morgan; May, 1833-4, Thomas Davidge; May, 1834-5, L. D. Shoemaker; May, 1835-9, E. W. Sturdevant; May, 1839-40, Thomas Davidge; May, 1840-1, E. W. Sturdevant; May, 1841-6, W. S. Ross; May, 1846-7, Joseph P. Le Clerc; May, 1847-8, John Reichard; May, 1848-9, E. W. Reynolds; May, 1849-50, John N. Conyngham; May, 1850-1, D. John Smith; May, 1851-5, Lord Butler; May, 1855-6, John Reichard; May, 1856-7, Jacob Bertels; May, 1857-8, L. D. Shoemaker; May, 1858-9, William S. Ross; May, 1859-60, N. Rutter; May, 1860-6, William S. Ross; May, 1866-71, Charles Parrish.
Presidents of the City Council: June, 1871, to April, 1874, Charles Parrish; April, 1874, to December, 1874, Charles A. Miner; December, 1874, to June, 1875, Herman C. Fry; June, 1875, to April, 1880, G. M. Reynolds; April, 1880-1, Daniel A. Frantz; April, 1881-2, E. W. Sturdevant; April, 1882-4, E. L. Dana; April, 1884, to February, 1885, H. H. Derr; February, 1885, to April, 1885, Lewis S. [p.521] Jones; April, 1885-6, E. L. Dana; April, 1886-91, William J. Harvey; April, 1891 to —, W. H. McCartney.
Summarized.—Last year a movement was made by the people, headed by Congressman G. W. Shonk, for the building of a new postoffice and to contain all the federal offices that government may need at this place. Mr. Shonk presented the matter to congress, but in the multiplicity and confusion of law-making at the capital the measure failed, in the face of the overwhelming facts in the people's petition, showing the urgent necessity for such improvements. The following may be said to be the substance of the grounds as made up by the people and presented to congress:
The postoffice is now located in a rented building and is entirely too small for the purpose. The receipts of the office last year were over $42,000, an increase of $7,000 compared with the preceding year. The number of pieces of mail matter handled was 6,500,000, an increase of twenty per cent. over 1890. The internal revenue offices are widely separated and inconveniently located. The collections last year in Wilkes-Barre were $225,000, and in the district over $600,000.
Wilkes-Barre is the center of the Wyoming coal field, the largest coal producing valley in the world, which in 1891 shipped over 23,000,000 tons of anthracite coal, or fifty-two per cent. of the total anthracite production of the world. There are over thirty-five coal companies, with a capital aggregating over $50,000,000. The production of anthracite coal in the Wyoming district has increased from 43,000 tons in 1830 to 23,000,000 tons in 1891. There was paid out as wages to employes in the mines of this valley, in 1891, over $30,000,000. The valley also now contains the largest tract of undeveloped anthracite coal in the country. This tract is now about to be developed, and within the next five years will be in operation, giving employment to additional thousands of people.
The city of Wilkes-Barre has six separate competing trunk lines of steam railroads, connecting with it the whole valley, and an important new one being rapidly built; six separate and competing lines of steamboats; numerous horse car and electric street railroads; an electric street railroad, nearly completed, going up on one side of the Susquehanna river and down on the other, encircling the whole valley in a belt, with numerous cross connections, the capital of which road is $3,000,000.
After enumerating the hotels, business houses and industrial establishments at Wilkes-Barre, it says:
"By far the greater number of these industries have been commenced within the past three years, owing to the fact that the smaller sizes of anthracite coal, which have heretofore been considered worthless, have been found to be efficient and valuable steam producers, and can be obtained at the merest nominal figure, thus inducing manufacturers to locate in the Wyoming valley. As there are fully 50,000,000 tons of these small sizes of coal which were until recently worthless and now piled up in the said valley, there is enough to supply the needs of all new manufactories which may locate in the valley in coming years.
"The 155 manufactories of Wilkes-Barre include the Hazard Wire Rope works, one of the largest in America; Nottingham Lace factory, the only one in the United States, and having a capital of $500,000, and the Sheldon Axle works, the largest in the United States, employing 800 hands, and the Vulcan Iron works with a capital of $1,000,000."
The official reports by the United States census authorities for the city of Wilkes- Barre for 1890 contains the following, giving the reports for 1880 and 1890, which show the increase of industries in the city in a decade: 1880, number of establishments, 89; capital, $1,146,500; hands employed, 645. 1890, number of establishments, 155; capital, $3,237,253; hands employed, 3,039.