Pennsylvania USGenWeb Archives


1804 - 1904

Clearfield County's Centennial


Raftsman's Journal

Clearfield, Pa.


Pages 60 - 69


transcribed for the Clearfield County PA USGenWeb by

Ellis Michaels



This page was last updated on 23 Apr 2011






1804 1904

July 26, 27, 28 and 29.

Population Clearfield County
1804 685
1904 100,000
One Hundred Years Old

Clearfield, Pa.


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     This industry grew very slowly and in 1828 the exports of coal amounted to but 2,000 tons. The reader will be loth to believe that there ever was a time when bituminous coal from Clearfield county was placed on exhibition on the State Capital grounds at Harrisburg, but such seems to have been the fact, as the extracts given below will tend to show :

     Bituminous Coal.—P. A. Karthaus, Esq., arrived at this place a few days since with six arks, laden with bituminous coal from his extensive mines on the west branch of the Susquehanna, in Clearfield county, near the Lycoming line. Specimens of this coal were exhibited on the public grounds in front of the Capitol on Wednesday last for the examination of the public, and we learn that it has been pronounced by those competent to judge, to be of a superior quality. The vein or stratum which forms this bed is about five feet thick, and it is said to cover hundreds if not thousands of acres.—Harrisburg Rep.

     Hazard's Register of Pa., Apr. 18th, 1828, p. 256.

     It would also appear that the newly introduced fuel found its way to Reading. Reading, June 6, 1829. Berks Journal.
     Our esteemed fellow-citizens, Messrs. Lane and Orrick, have introduced here among the blacksmiths the bituminous coal from Clearfield county, via Union Canal. We yesterday examined a cargo recently received, but claiming no credit as mineralogists, we of course are not prepared to expatiate upon the quality of this newly introduced fuel. As far as our judgment goes, however, we deem it in no particular inferior to the Liverpool or Virginia coal.—Hazard's Reg. of P., val. 3339.

     This, then, is the humble beginning of what has now become our chief industry, founded upon the wreck of Frederick Haney's ark, which was piloted by John Bell to destruction on "Rocky Bend."

     The coal trade of this county did not amount to much until 1867, when the mining and shipping of the fuel began in earnest, and there has been an ever-increasing output. It would indeed be interesting to follow this industry in its rapid development, if it were possible to present accurate figures, giving the production year by year. The Tyrone Herald some years since published a statement, afterwards appearing in "The Historical Journal," vol. 1, p. 62, which shows the coal tonnage from the Tyrone & Clearfield R. R., and which to a great extent came from Clearfield county, for a period of twenty years.
Years.      Tons.     
1867         169,219
1868         171,238
1869         259,994
1870         379,683
1871         542,896
1872         431,915
1874         654,251
1875         926,834
1876      1,218,789

1877      1,374,927

1878      1,298,425

1879      1,622,976

1880      1,739,872

1881      2,401,987

1884      3 173,363

1885      2,889,499

1886      2,280,782

Total    27,834,654

     The production of the county from 1888 to 1904 and number of employees












will appear from the table given below :

Year.      Tons.             Employees.
1888       5,371,795       8559
1889       5,124,522       7205
1890       6,549,546       9251
1891       6,706,016     10188
1892       6,631,013     10639
1893       6,081,324     10883
1894       4,156,310      9733
1895       5,442,299      9416
1896       4 889 793      8989
1897       5,392,472      9016
1898       4,885,780      7947
1899       5,860,397      8072
1900       2,819,109      4127
1901       5,232,054      9202
1902       6,422,836    10573
1903       6,822,052     10988

     Excluding the year 1887 it would therefore appear that from 1867 to 1904_ Clearfield County has sent to other markets the enormous quantity of 116,221,972 tons of bituminous coal, which, as great as the amount is, does not cover the total production.


     The third industry to begin its struggle for an existence was the iron trade, and inseparably connected therewith is the name of Peter Karthaus, who, with his son and J. F. W. Schnars, came to Karthaus between 1812-15. An extract from the manuscripts left by George A. Snyder, a son of Governor Simon Snyder, will prove interesting in this connection. Mr. Snyder says :

     "The first time I saw Peter was about the year 1812, when he came to my father's house in Harrisburg, having but lately arrived from Germany. He had with him the model of a boat having a water wheel at the head, connected with which was a lever. To the ends of this lever were attached poles whereby the boat was to be shoved against the stream. It is not worth while to give a more minute description of the contrivance ; suffice it to say that it was constructed on the very philosophical principal that the force of the current would turn the wheel, which would set the lever and poles in motion, and so propel the boat against the stream, something like mounting a chair to look over the top of one's own head.

     "Peter built his boat and discovering, of course, that it would not go up, stream, because the current was against it, and that it could not go down stream because the poles would not let it, resorted to stages and horse power, and departed for Clearfield county, where he had purchased a large tract of land. Peter was rich. And having discovered that his lands were well supplied with iron ore, coal, timber and water- power, resolved to become richer by means of the aforesaid iron ore, etc. Accordingly he laid out many thousands of his dollars in erect-






CLEARFIELD TRUST COMPANY—Organized January, 1902






ing a furnace, a forge, a large mill, a convenient wharf and several large houses, all of stone. Peter manufactured iron, but behold, there was no way to get it to market ; he made ready his mills, but alas, people grew no grain in the woods, and, of course, his toll dish was not often filled. Peter's works were very complete, but they stood idle."—Hist. Jour., vol. II, 290.

     During 1817 Karthaus and Rev. Frederick W. Geisenhainer erected a furnace on Moshonan Creek. The ore was brought up the river in canoes and flat boats to supply the furnace, and hollow ware, stoves, etc., of the best quality manufactured. This new branch of business had a beneficial effect on the company's (Allegheny Coal Co.) affairs and gave impetus to the settlement of their land. Roads were opened. The river, which afforded the only means of transportation, was cleared of rock and other obstructions. Things went on swimmingly. Hard ore of good quality being found in the neighborhood, the stack was enlarged and frequently in blast—the last time under the superintendency of Peter Ritner, but want of encouragement and the expense of sending iron from a new country, having but few and uncertain roads of carriage, brought the undertaking to a close. The furnace for some years has stood idle and the buildings are in a state of decay.—Raftsmen's Jour., Aug. 31, 1859.

     The writer in the Journal goes on to say that "a railroad will soon pierce this thriving settlement, and then the vast bituminous coal, iron ore and grey limestone, so generously distributed through it, will be brought into requisition," etc. IL was twenty-five (25) years after this article appeared before the building of the long-expected railroad.

     Mr. Thomas H. Burrows, in his "State Book of Pennsylvania." (1846), page 235, says : "At Karthaus, so-called from the name of the original proprietor, the first successful attempt was made in Pennsylvania to smelt iron by means of bituminous coal."

     Other attempts were made to manufacture iron in the county, but the quotations above are equally descriptive of them all—they needed facilities for transportation and incidentally the nourishment of a protective tariff, the exportation in 1828 being only 100 tons of castings and pig iron.

     A large plant has recently been established about two miles south of Clearfield, near the site of the old "Goodfellow" bridge, for the manufacture of steel, but not from native ores.


     The existence of fire clay in this county has been well known from a very early day, and it would seem that the manufacture of fire brick began as early as 1833, in Beccaria Township, near Coalport. The first manufacturers of fire brick in the county were Richardson & Campbell, and the Clearfield Banner in an article appearing in Hazard's Register of Pa., Vol. 12, p. 144, Sept., 1833, gives the following description of the oven :

     "The oven in which the brick is burned is after the English plan, measuring sixteen feet high and twelve in diameter, and heated by bituminous stone coal, containing nine grates and will burn at one time 26,000."

     The bricks were loaded on arks for the eastern market, but, according to Mr. G. L. Reed's recollection, never reached their destination, as for years afterwards you could find fire brick scattered all along Clearfield Creek.







     HOTEL DIMELING—Now in course of erection at Clearfield, which when completed will be one of the finest in central Pennsylvania, and will cost $1,50,000.  Beezer Bros. of Pittsburgh are the architects.







     The coal industry, the reader will recollect, was founded upon a wrecked ark and it would seem that the fire brick business, too, is founded upon a wreck. The real start, as in the coal trade, was made about 1867, and through the courtesy of Mr. H. F. Bigler, of Clearfield, it is made possible to give here a list of the fire brick works in the county, when erected and by whom established :

     No. I Works at Woodland, Erected. 1867 By Isaac and Benj. Reese, Thomas Hammond and John McMath.

     No. 2 Works at Woodland, Erected, 1870 By Wyle and Richards.

     No. 1 Clearfield Fire Brick Works, Erected, 1873 By Clearfield Fire Brick Co.

     Wallaceton Fire Brick Works, Erected, 1880 By Wallaceton Fire Brick Co.

     Philipsburg Fire Brick Works, Erected, 1882 By R. B. Wiglin & Sons.

     Widemire Works, Erected, 1895 By Harbison-Walker Co.

     Within the past five years the following works have been erected :

     Clearfield Works, Clearfield, By Harbison-Walker Co.

     No. 2 Clearfield Fire Brick Works, Clearfield, By Clearfield Fire Brick Co.

     Blue Ball Works, Blue, Ball, By W. H. Wynn & Co.

     Curwensville Fire Brick Works, Curwensville, By Curwensville Fire Brick Co.

     Osceola Fire Brick Works, Osceola, By Osceola Fire Brick Co.

     The above plants vary in capacity from 5 to 18 millions.

     To-day the coal and fire brick industries may be mentioned as the principal business enterprises in the county, increasing in magnitude each year.


     It is said that Benjamin Hartshorn built a tannery on the place where he settled, near Curwensville, in Pike township, as early as 18°6, and that it was the first tannery built in the county.

     About 1810 Thomas Reynolds built a tannery on the site now occupied by Judge McEnally's residence.

     At an early date Wm. McNaul built a tannery at Curwensville, which was operated until within recent years by Zariah McNaul.

     Two tanneries were built in Clearfield before 1840, one on the lot now occupied by the residence of S. V. Wilson, Esq., and Mrs. Boyer, on South Second Street, the other on the site of the Shirk tannery, on South Fourth Street, near Cherry.

     John McPherson operated a small tannery near Luthersburg, in Brady township, and afterwards, about 1835, came to Clearfield, where he erected a tannery on South Second Street, on the property now occupied by his daughter, Mrs. Robert Larrimer, which he continued to operate until the time of his death,






ANDERSON CREEK VIADUCT—This bridge is 795 feet high, on an 8° curve.










in 1864.

     Sometime prior to 1880, or thereabouts, W. S. White & Sons erected large tanneries at Osceola and Curwensville which afterwards came under the control of J. B. Alley & Co.

     J. B. Hoyt & Co. built a large tannery at Clearfield in 1880, which afterwards on a reorganization of the firm passed under the control of Fayerweather & Ladew, who, in 1893, sold it to the Elk Tanning Co., the present owner.

     A large tannery was built at DuBois in 1884 by DuBois & Van Tassel Bros.


     A tannery was also built about this time at Mahaffey by Moser.

     A second tannery was built at Curwensville, and at one or two other points in the county.

     For a time this industry was a great benefit to the farmers, who found a market for their bark, receiving ready money in exchange therefore, but 'twould have been a good investment to have let the trees stand until now.

     It will be impossible to enter into further detail in relation to the industries of the county. They are many and varied, including almost every class, and are mostly prosperous.


     In 1863 the Tyrone & Clearfield R. R. was completed as far as Osceola, and Clearfield county given its first rail connection with the outside world. It was not until February, 1869, that trains were run to Clearfield town and some five years later Curwensville was reached and later Grampian. The Tyrone & Clearfield R. R. Co. constructed branches into the Houtzdale and Morrisdale coal regions and soon developed those regions.

     In 1874 the Low Grade Division of the Allegheny Valley R. R. was constructed through the northwestern portion of the county, developing the large lumbering interests at Penfield and DuBois.

     In 1880 the Bells Gap R. R. was extended into Beccaria and Geulich townships and later to Coalport, and in 1886 from Ivona [sic] to Mahaffey.

     The Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburg, R. R. entered the county in 1883.

     The Karthaus and Keating R. R. was extended to Karthaus in 1883.

     The Beech Creek, Clearfield & Southwestern R. R. was constructed into the county in 1884 and its lines have since been extended up Clearfield Creek and the West Branch into Cambria county.

     The Cresson, Clearfield County & New York Short Route R. R. was constructed from Cresson to Ivona [sic] in 1886.

     The Clearfield & Mahoning R. R., between Falls Creek and Clearfield, was opened to the public in June, 1893, and gave to the eastern section of the county what had been long needed, an outlet to the Lakes and the West.

     With the completion of the railroad from Karthaus to Clearfield, in 1900, and the various and extensive branches of these different roads, Clearfield County is given an outlet for her varied products, a market for her coal, fire clay and other deposits.


     Clearfield County has exercised a very strong influence upon the political affairs of this section, as well as upon those of the State and of these United States.




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