[p.270] VAST DEPOSITS ONCE ALL OVER THE STATE—FIRST SHIPPED DOWN THE RIVER IN 1807—PARTIES WHO FIRST MINED AND TRANSPORTED IT—JESSE FELL—CANAL OPENED—NICHO ALLEN AND PHILIP GINTER—MINER, CIST & ROBINSON ATTEMPT TO MINE AND SHIP COAL—RAILROADS AND TRANSPORTATION COMPANIES—VALUE OF COAL LANDS—EASTERN MIDDLE COAL FIELDS—COAL FOUND—ARIO PARDEE—ECKLEY B. COXE—SUPERIOR HARD COAL—GEORGE B. MARKLE—TUNNELS—ACCIDENTS, ETC.
IN a preceding chapter is something of the county of Luzerne as it appeared on its face when the white man came to possess and make these homes and all this luxuriant wealth that we now enjoy. As it came from the hand of God it was lovely to look upon. The keen-eyed pioneer beheld it, said it was good and here he would stick down his Jacob's staff and dwell forever. He heeded but little the obstructions that confronted him on every hand. The heavy forests that perpetually shaded the ground; the fierce and hungry wild beasts in the constant search of living prey; the gliding serpents spotted with deadly beauty, the countless birds of song and plumage and game; the fish disporting themselves and shining in the mountain brooks and in the beautiful blue river, and beyond and more impressive than all these were the warlike Iroquois Indians, savage and pitiless, cunning and thieving, great and good in his own estimation when covered with greasy war paint, or when adorned with many and fresh bleeding scalps of men, women or children, and performing his war dance around the camp fire, or recounting the bloody legends of his cannibal ancestors. The dauntless pioneer met these powerful enemies of civilization, and his steady eye never quailed; his nerves were never shaken, and with one and all his motto was supremacy or death. The Anglo-Saxon blood has prevailed here as well as pretty much now all over the world. The English language is one of all-conquering energy. There is much iron in the blood that is propelling the life that formed the articulate words —it prevails, whether matched with the savages of the woods, or the older and once stronger civilizations that in their day ruled the world. The language is a part and essence of the Anglo-Saxon's nature; it simply predominates regardless of what it comes in contact with. The Spaniard discovered this country; his ancient settlements and villages antedate the coming and permanent clutch of the English more than 100 years; the French made largely the first discoverer's claim and title to far the larger portion of what is now the United States. All these hold prior claims to this wonder land, and yet the first 100 years has left the Spaniard the possessor of an insignificant little corner of the continent, and the French not even so much that they can claim either part or parcel thereof. The negro, that unfortunate black man of Africa, is now a free man and counts 8,000,000 of the over 63,000,000 of our people—the most cosmopolitan population in the world. The scientists tell us that the outcome of every civilization is a mere question of rocks and climate, the soil and water, with the sunshine; these are the factors, they say, in determining the ultimate story of every separate civilization. But there are other forces. Here are four separate peoples thrown together and, save the problem of the African, the Anglo-Saxon has settled the other questions. He too will fix in some way the solution of the "color" question in time. In all these ethnic matters the statute laws have only a nominal effect; the resistless [p.271] forces of nature play with ceaseless activity, and the destiny of man and animal life appear to unthinking men to be that of fate. Modern thinkers tell us that ethnic life, the quality of every distinct civilization, is one almost entirely of soils and climate. There is no doubt that the surface and the immediate subsoil, together with the climate, has a powerful influence in shaping the animal and vegetable life that will spring therefrom. But clearly with these forces, and perhaps even in more power, are the laws of heredity, the transmitted blood that runs in the veins generations after generations, and in the long lapses of time indicate the departing lines of different civilizations in their slow progress from savage to civilized life. Every page of the story of the Anglo-Saxon race tends to illuminate this fact. Swarming out from the inhospitable shores of the North Sea, strong and fierce savages, then bloody pirates and the most daring seamen, they raced around the world, trampling upon everything that stood in their way; with hair and skin bleached by the elements to whiteness, his strong animal nature conquering and destroying that he might build all anew; this wonderful creature transmitted his strong nature, planted his colonies, created his own language, hunted out dangers and obstacles and warred upon all and everything, and even upon one another, and fashioned the civilized world, and now at the close of the nineteenth century shows the astounding fact that he measures more brain surface than any other people the world has contained. And while modified markedly by different soils and climate, yet always and everywhere he maintains his race supremacy. And in the meridian hour of his greatness and glory, the canny Scotchman and proverbial scold, Thomas Carlyle said: "The English nation consists of 40,000,000 of people—mostly fools." And the more than 150,000,000 whom the taunt struck, have adopted the scold's words as an axiomatic trnth.
Here in this beautiful valley met the Dutch, the Palitinate, the Moravian, the Frenchman, Irishman and the native savages, and then the Anglo Saxon appeared. To-day everything is Americo-English. The Dutchman has transmitted only his name; his descendants are as purely Anglo-Saxon as the straightest English. And so of all others; absorbed and a part of the stronger stock, or extinct. This phenomenon holds over our continent, the process completed or in the rapid course of completion. Our language and our thought is dominating the world. It must be "all the one thing or all the other." The marvelous race has boxed the compass of triumphs and defeats—enslaving and enslaved—and when the Normans swooped down upon and captured the little English island, and took their property and made slaves of all the people, time effected the bloodless revolution, and the once slaves were again masters, the only race in the world's history that progressed on the road to enlightment as well in slavery as in conquering masters. The magnificent proof that blood is stronger than any possible circumstance or accidental conditions— "wherever he sits is the head of the table."
These observations are not inappropriate in considering the climatic and soil and water conditions of this section, coupled with the wealth down in the black- diamond caves that underlie a large part of the county, and this alone would make this one of the most favored spots of earth, even if there was little or nothing of value on the broad surface. The historian and poet have exhausted the resources of the language in describing this land of the anthracite—the "Happy Valley" of Dr. Johnson being the one most frequently used. One describes it as "The Richest Dimple" in the Appalachian chain of mountains. Its wonderful wealth of anthracite has made this one of the best known spots on the globe. The entire coal fields, with thousands of other fertile acres, were bought of the Indians for $10,000 in silver, or £2,000 New York currency. Both parties, ignorant of the hidden wealth beneath the surface, and fifty and seventy-five years after many a man sold his farm, nearly as ignorant as had been the Indians of its real value. With the other abundant riches of this spot, the immense deposits of [p.272] anthracite coal far exceed all others combined, an infinite source of wealth, of which the reader can begin to approximate some idea when informed there are in the different veins as you descend ninety feet of coal, and of a market value of more than $40,000 in every acre after reserving the pillars. These coal deposits in the valley all lie in a basin apparently forming the bottom on which rests the superincumbent rocks and soils, and reaching up on the sides only to the high table lands, a proof that at one time, in the long geological past, the entire country hereabouts, for hundreds of miles, covering the entire State and extending into other States, was all underlaid with the same strata of coal, which have been carried away from the uplands by the disturbances of the earth, and thus leaving for us only a very small portion of the once vast deposit.
Coal was found in outcrop in the valley when the white man first came. Obadiah Gore and others of the first blacksmiths in the county used it in their shops. During the Revolutionary war coal was shipped in arks and Durham boats to Carlisle, in this State, where the continental authorities established an armory. Of course all this quarrying in the other century was from outcrops and strip mining entirely. These shipments continued through the war for independence, long enough to demonstrate that it was a merchantable article that the outside world wanted, and that possessed values that would repay transportation. The trade increased slowly after the close of the war, but by whom shipments were continued is not now fully known. Some of the chroniclers of the early times place the commencement of the coal trade down the river from this point as beginning in the year 1820, with a shipment that year of 365 tons. However, after this statement was published, John B. Smith published in the Record of the Times, October 27, 1874: "I see you make a statement in your daily that the coal business opened in 1820. Abijah Smith [his father] purchased an ark of John P. Arndt November 9, 1807, and ran it to Columbia from Wilkes-Barre, loaded with coal. From that date Abijah and John Smith ran several arks yearly to 1826, loaded with coal for the market. In 1811 and 1812 they ran 220 tons of coal to Havre-de-Grace, had it unloaded on the schooner "Washington," and sold in New York, the bills for which were rendered by the commission merchant in 1813."
Some one has said that history is agreed fiction, and the history of the discovery and the use of coal here is certainly a verification of the fact that much fiction finds its way to the printing office. One of those has found its way into the last United States census report (1890) where, without stating it as a fact, the commencement of the coal trade is dated from 1820. Whereas the above shows that it was commenced in 1807. Mr. George B. Culp, in an address before the Historical Society, June 27, 1890, not only confirms the above, but year by year gives the amounts shipped from the Wyoming region to 1820 as follows:
Tons. Tons. 1807 55 1814 700 1808 150 1815 1,000 1809 200 1816 1,000 1810 350 1817 1,100 1811 450 1818 1,200 1812 500 1819 l,400 1813 500 1820 2,500
Mr. F. E. Saward, in The Coal Trade for 1891, states that the northern anthracite coal field is the largest anthracite basin in the world. It has long been known as the Wyoming. Its coal production since 1860 is as follows:
Tons. Tons. 1860 2,914,817 1880 11,419,270 1870 7,974,666 1890 18,657,694
[p.273] To mine this coal requires the services of over 50,000 men and boys, and this number is steadily increasing rather than diminishing.
Mr. Culp curtly disposes also of the story of Philip Ginter being the discoverer of coal in the anthracite regions. In the legislature in 1891 a bill was introduced to appropriate $2,000 for a monument to Ginter as the discoverer of anthracite coal in Pennsylvania. The fact simply was Ginter discovered coal in Carbon county, but himself stated that he had "heard of it over in Wyoming" before finding it. In a foot note Mr. Culp gives the following:
"The Lehigh region is great in making claims. For instance, on April 23, 1891, in the senate of the State of Pennsylvania, Senator Rapsher, of Carbon, called up the following bill on third reading:
"AN ACT appropriating the sum of $2,000 for the erection of a monument to the memory of Philip Ginter, the discoverer of anthracite coal in Pennsylvania.
"SECTION 1, Be it enacted by the senate and house of representatives of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania in general assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, that the sum of $2,000 be appropriated toward the erection of a suitable monument to commemorate the memory of Philip Ginter, the first discoverer of anthracite coal in Pennsylvania, to be paid to the committee in charge upon the warrant of the auditor-general.
"Senator Hines, from our own county, asked leave to strike out the words 'the first,' because Philip Ginter was not the first discoverer of coal.
"Senator Rapsher, in reply, said: 'Mr. President, the historians, like men, sometimes differ on that particular point, as to whether Philip Ginter was the first discoverer or not, but I think all the historians agree that Philip Ginter was the first authentic discoverer of anthracite coal in what was then Northampton county, a hundred years ago the first of next September, and it was the inception of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation company, and was the beginning of the anthracite coal traffic in Pennsylvania, and because the anthracite coal interest was of so much importance to the State credit in our section, this could be granted without any great strain on our consciences.'
"Senator Green, of Berks where they have no coal, said: 'Mr. President, I think we ought to have a discoverer of coal, and we might as well have him now as at any other time, so whether it is Mr. Ginter or somebody else, makes very little difference to me. I am willing to concede to that gentleman that claim. I am willing to go further: I am willing to take the word of the senator from Carbon for it. If he thinks he is the discoverer of coal, I think so.'
"Fortunately the bill was defeated in the house of representatives. Now, what was in this bill? First, to get $2,000 out of the State treasury to perpetuate a falsehood. This under false pretences.
"Second, To place on record the further falsehood that Philip Ginter was the (first) discoverer of anthracite coal in Pennsylvania. Mr. Ginter, himself, did not claim that he was the discoverer, because 'he had heard of stone coal over in Wyoming.'
"Mr. Rapsher is certainly mistaken when he says that historians differ as to whether Philip Ginter was the first discoverer or not. No, they do not differ. All historians agree that Mr. Ginter discovered coal in what is now Carbon county, in 1791, and that he was not the first discoverer of anthracite coal in Pennsylvania. Ill-informed people may think he was, but intelligent people knew better. Mr. Rapsher states that the discovery of coal a hundred years ago the first of next September (1891), was the inception of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation company, and was the beginning of the anthracite coal traffic in Pennsylvania. The Lehigh Coal & Navigation company was incorporated February 13, 1822, and if its inception was in 1791, it took it a long time to be born—even thirty-one years. The beginning of the coal trade was not on the Lehigh, but was on the Susquehanna, and commenced [p.274] in 1807. Do not let this be forgotten. Senator Green thinks 'we ought to have a discoverer of coal.' 'Whether it is Mr. Ginter or somebody else makes very little difference to (him) me.' Most noble senator, you certainly do not speak the words of truth and soberness. In a work gotten up by the Central railroad of New Jersey in 1891, I read the following: 'Mauch Chunk is in the very heart of the anthracite coal regions, and is also the birthplace in America of the black diamonds.' Considering that coal was discovered on the Susquehanna in 1762, and on Bear mountain, nine miles west of Mauch Chunk, in 1791, Mauch Chunk is a queer kind of a birthplace. It goes on the principle, claim everything for Lehigh.
"What surprises me, is that nothing in particular is claimed for the Schuylkill region. About all the worthies who make up tables and pyramids are Pottsville gentlemen, like Bannan, Daddow, Sheafer, et al. They are probably not familiar with the history of the State, and least of all, with the coal trade and its beginning in the Wyoming region. With a new generation of better informed gentlemen Wyoming will probably have justice done her in the future."
Mr. Stewart Pearce says that Col. George M. Hollenback sent two four-horse loads of coal to Philadelphia in 1813, and that James Lee, during the same year, sent a four-horse load from Hanover to a blacksmith at Germantown.
The blacksmiths of this region early learned the use of anthracite coal. Obadiah and Daniel Gore were smiths, who came from Connecticut as early as 1768 and became owners of coal lands near Wilkes-Barre.
As a local fact it may here be parenthetically stated that Jesse Fell was the first to burn coal in the county in a grate as common house fuel, and the pioneers who came here and found the coal knew nothing of its history in other places and that so far as using it for domestic purposes or in grates, they made their own experiments, and in this line Mr. Fell was the successful leader. Mr. Culp, however, gives many reasons for his belief that it was first burned in grates in Wilkes-Barre by Jacob Cist. There are authentic letters showing that anthracite coal was successfully burned in grates in Philadelphia in 1802 and in 1803. He further says that it was burned in grates in Wilkes-Barre from 1803 by Mr. Cist, and continuously since.
The prolonged and very uncertain controversy on the first discovery of coal in this section seems a matter of difficult settlement. In regard to the finds of Ginter and others, there are of course fictions always creeping in, and what is true and what is not is now difficult of ascertainment. The claim made for Philip Ginter is, that being a poor pioneer hunter, by accident he discovered coal where a tree had been torn up by the roots in a storm, in the year 1791. It is said this was the first of its known existence in that locality near Mauch Chunk. This may all be true, but it is strange, to say the least.
Obadiah and Daniel Gore had used coal in their smithy in Wilkes-Barre as early certainly as 1770, twenty years before Ginter's find. They found this coal a frequent outcrop about the foot of the hills around Wilkes-Barre. It was well known there was plenty of coal here in the Wyoming valley as early as 1766, and it was known in Bucks county as early as 1760—thirty-one years before Ginter's discovery.
The record evidence of its existence in Wyoming is in an official letter to the proprietaries, Thomas and Richard Penn, Spring Gorden, London, by James Tilghman, their agent at Philadelphia. In his letter to the Penns, after much other business he says: "He went up the northeast branch as far as Wyoming, where he says there is a considerable body of good lands and a very great fund of coal in the hills which surround a very fine and extensive bottom there. This coal is thought to be very fine. With his compliments he sends you a piece of the coal."
"The bed of coal, situated as it is on the side of the river, may some time or other be a thing of great value."
This letter is still extant and in excellent preservation. To this Thomas Penn [p.277] replies, dated London, the following November 7, and says: "I desire you will return my thanks to Col. Francis for his good services, etc., and for the piece of coal which we shall have examined by some persons skilled in that article."
The correspondence on the subject seems to have terminated just here, no doubt owing to the overthrow of the rigid denomination of the Penns about that time. Charles Stewart made a careful survey of this section in 1768, and on his survey he marks a large tract of land on the west side of the river opposite Wilkes-Barre, "stonecoal."
Bituminous coal in Pennsylvania was discovered in quantity on the Conemaugh river below Saltzburg as early as 1750.
John David Schoepf, in his Travels, mentions a visit in 1783 to a bed of brilliant black coal one mile above Wyoming, which on handling leaves no taint and burns without emitting an offensive odor. It is found here on both sides of the river and in various parts of the valley. He mentions in Jacob's plains, a spring on the surface of which floats a tenacious fatty matter, depositing a yellow sediment. He conjectured it came from the neighboring coal beds. Then William Sculls' map of the country where is now Pottsville, made in 1770, marks coal lands at this point.
W. Penn Miner states it as a curious historical fact that one of the strong inducements to the early use of coal in the house was that the crude grates, often the open wood fireplace where coal was mixed and burned with wood, allowed much of the sulphur fumes to escape in the room, and this proved a remedy to the seven-year itch that prevailed quite common at that time. Soon after its first use it was observed that the luxury of scratching gave way to the coal burning, and sufferers were soon well, and to this day have remained so.
Crandall Wilcox, as early as 1814, sold coal from his mine on Mill creek, Plains township, at $8.50 per ton in Marietta, Pa. His sons at a much later date sent coal in arks to market by the river, even after the canal was completed to Nanticoke, in 1830. Col. Lord Butler owned that wonderful development of anthracite on Coal brook, a mile east of the borough, afterward known as the Baltimore mine, which supplied Wilkes-Barre in early times. The coal was quarried and delivered at $3 per ton. Col. Washington Lee sent several hundred tons from his mines in Hanover in 1820, which sold in Baltimore at $8 per ton.
In 1823 Col. Lee and George Chahoon leased a mine in Newport, and contracted for the mining and delivery of 1,000 tons of coal in arks at Lee's ferry, at $1.10 per ton, the coal selling at Columbia at a loss of $1,500.
In 1829 the Butler mine on Coal brook, near Wilkes-Barre, was purchased for Baltimore capitalists, being originally incorporated as the "Baltimore & Pittsburg Coal company." From this company the coal takes its name, which has given a wide reputation as one of the finest veins of anthracite in the region. It first shipped coal in arks.
The Stockbridge mine in Pittston sent coal down the river in arks in 1828, furnishing about 2,000 tons in three years. Joseph Wright had shipped coal from Pittston in 1 13. This was probably the son of Thomas Wright, who had a forge on the Lackawanna near the crossing of the main road to Providence, and well understood the value of coal and coal lands. The place is still known as "Old Forge." It was among the earliest tracts to change hands from original owners, having been sold by the heirs of Thomas Wright to a Mr. Armstrong, of Newburg, and Hon. Charles Augustus Murray, a gentleman from England. It was said that the location of Scranton hung in the balance at one time between "Old Forge" and "Slocum Hollow," the latter with its blast furnace and iron ore beds securing the prize.
In its issue of April 26, 1837, the Kingston paper says of the trade: "Up to April 17 fifty arks had been despatched from Plymouth, averaging Sixty tons each. In 1824 the State provided for the survey of a canal route, or the exploring by [p.278] commissioners of the coal lands on the route from Harrisburg to Pittsburg. About the same time the National road starting at Baltimore was commenced to make a national road west to St. Louis. Everything at that time was directed to the western trade, while the boundless wealth of this section slept, and was unknown and unheeded. In time with the awakening of systems of internal improvements would appear articles in the newspapers or pamphlets calling public attention to the north branch of the Susquehanna. In 1791 the legislature appropriated money to improve this river, and make it easily navigable. In 1792 an appropriation was made for a road from "Metchunk mountain to Nescopeck," and another from Wilkes- Barre to Wyalusing. But in the idea of the proposers of these improvements there is no hint that the coal of this section was wanted. The first lock on the canal was laid at Harrisburg in 1827, and three years later the canal was completed to Nanticoke dam, and Hon. John Koons, of Shickshinny, built the boat "Wyoming," towed it to Nanticoke, where it was loaded with ten tons of coal, and after a long, tedious and difficult journey landed its cargo in Philadelphia. On its return trip, with fifteen tons of merchandise, it was frozen up, and the goods had to be carried to Wilkes-Barre on sleds. The next year, 1831, the "Luzerne" was built opposite Wilkes-Barre, and with a cargo of coal proceeded to Philadelphia under Capt. Derrick Bird. This boat made the first successful round trip to Philadelphia, loaded each way, in 1834.
At this time arose the serious question of shipping the coal northward from this point, and a struggle of twenty years finally ended in building the canal to the canal at Elmira, N. Y. In the fall of 1856 trade to New York was opened, and that year 1,150 tons were shipped, which in 1859 had increased to 52,000 tons.
In 1840 the board of managers of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation company deemed it a matter of sufficient importance to order the publication of the history of coal in this section. In that account two different hunters, at different places but about the same time, discovered important outcroppings in the year 1790. [There is now little doubt that these outcroppings had been found before this date by pioneers.-ED.] But the two hunters who were credited with calling others' attention to the find were Nicho Allen and Philip Ginter—the former found his on Broad mountain and the latter on Bear mountain, nine miles west of Mauch Chunk.
The account says Philip Ginter informed Col. Jacob Weiss of his find. When Col. Weiss received the pieces of coal from the hunter he took them to Philadelphia and submitted them to the inspection of John Nicholson, Michael Hillegas and Charles Cist, who authorized Col. Weiss to satisfy Ginter upon his pointing out the precise location of the coal. These gentlemen united with others in forming the coal mine company, but without a charter. Mr. Maxwell includes the eminent financier of the Revolutionary war, Robert Morris, among the active patrons of the early improvement of the Lehigh, but mention of his name does not occur in the early histories within reach.
Jacob Cist, a gentleman of unusually solid and brilliant scientific attainments, who had in early life removed to Wyoming, was a son of Charles Cist. In 1813 he united with Charles Miner, editor of the Gleaner, and John W. Robinson, all of Wilkes-Barre, in the lease on the Lehigh. Stephen Tattle was a fourth. Isaac A. Chapman, afterward editor of the Gleaner, and author of an early history of Wyoming, was at one time associated in the enterprise. He was an engineer with Milnor Roberts and Solomon W. Roberts on the upper division of the navigation under Canvass White, and died at Mauch Chunk while in the company's service.
A curious old contract of January 27, 1815, "between Charles Miner of the one part and Benjamin Smith and James Miars of the other part, witnesseth that the said Smith and Miars have agreed to haul from the great coal bed near the Lehigh, commonly called the Weiss bed, to the landing near the Lints place, sixty tons of stone coal by the first day of April, 1815."
[p.279] There is also a memorandum, signed and sealed by Philip Heermans, agreeing to build arks in a workmanlike manner, ready to run by the first spring froshets in the Lehigh, ten arks for $400. "Said Charles to find all the materials on the spot; to haul the timber, board the hands, and to furnish them a reasonable quantity of whisky. Wilkes-Barre, November 23, 1814." A note added—"Mr. Heermans was a very clever follow and had built the arks previously used."
The company's history says: "Only $4 was paid for hauling the coal over the road before referred to, and the contractor lost money. The principal part of the coal which arrived at Philadelphia was purchased at $21 per ton by White & Hazard, who were then manufacturing wire at the falls of the Schuylkill. But even this price did not remunerate the owners for the losses and expenses of getting the coal to market, and they were consequently compelled to abandon the prosecution of the business, and of course did not comply with the terms of the lease."
The venerable James A. Gordon wrote from his home in Plymouth to the Wilkes- Barre Record of the Times, February, 1874, his recollections of this early Luzerne enterprise on the Lehigh:
"On the 17th July, 1814, with Abail Abbott, Stern Palmer, Strange H. Palmer (another printer), Thomas P. Beach, Joseph Thomas, Chester Dana and Josiah Horton shouldered knapsacks and tools for a march to the Lehigh to build arks for Messrs. Cist, Miner and Millhouse (Hillegas?).
"Four arks were ready for loading by the first freshet. The estimated cost of fifty tons, one ark load of coal, was: Mining, $50; hauling from summit, $4.50 per ton, $225; cost of ark, $125; loading ark, $15. Total, $415.
"Lehigh pilots were on hand. The fleet moved off with the rapid current, and in fifteen minutes brought up on a reef called 'Red Rocks,' half a mile below. One ark got through. In the ensuing December peace was declared, and coal went down to $6. The enterprise was a financial failure."
Minor, Cist & Robinson made heroic endeavors to make mining coal a success, but their failure was complete and their time and money losses heavy. Their lease of coal lands expired by non user. The Lehigh Coal Mine company being wholly discouraged executed a lease to White, Hunt & Hazzard, for a term of twenty years.
In 1813 Mr. Miner was publishing The Gleaner in Wilkes-Barre; and in a long editorial article from his pen, under date of November 19 and the head of "State Policy," he urged with great zeal the improvement of the descending navigation of the Susquehanna and Lehigh rivers. He then said: "The coal of Wyoming has already become an article of considerable traffic with the lower counties of Pennsylvania. Numerous beds have been opened, and it is ascertained beyond all doubt that the valley of Wyoming contains enough coal for ages to come." He then goes on to speak highly of its quality, and says further: "Seven years ago our coal was thought of little value. It was then supposed that it could not be burned in a common grate. Our smiths used it, and for their use alone did we suppose it serviceable. About six years ago one of our most public spirited citizens made the experiment of using it in a grate, and succeeded to his most sanguine expectations."
Again, in the same paper, issued on the 31st of December, 1813, in an article headed "The Prosperity of Philadelphia," Mr. Miner wrote of the objects to be accomplished for her advantage: 1, The connection of the waters of the Chesapeake and the Delaware—since accomplished; 2, The connection of the Schuylkill with the Swatara—since much more than accomplished by the Union canal; and 3, The opening of a communication from the Susquehanna to Philadelphia by a road or railway from Wilkes-Barre to Lehigh, and thence by that river to the Delaware, and thence to Philadelphia. "I have visited," he said, "Lausanne and a number of other places on the Lehigh, having particularly in view to ascertain the real situation of its navigation." Then, in the next issue of the same paper there is another editorial by Mr. Miner, headed "Navigation of the Lehigh," and occupying two and a half [p.280] columns of the paper. In it he wrote earnestly and at length as to the merits of our coal, as well as to the improvement of the Lehigh. Upon this point he printed in italics the following sentence: "I say with great confidence, this is the course pointed out by Nature for the connection between the Susquehanna and the Delaware;" and experience has since verified its truth. He then urged upon the public the improvement in question, on the ground of the comparatively small expense it would require. He was too sanguine, as the event has proved. On the contrary, he then said: "Our public improvements must grow with our growth and strengthen with our strength. We can not expect in this young country, having so many points to improve, to equal the old and more populous countries of Europe. I appeal to the judicious men who have witnessed the failure of our grandest plans, if they have not miscarried because they were disproportionate to the necessity and the ability of the country;" and he closed this part of the subject by saying, "I hope our grandchildren may live to see a complete railway from this place to the Lehigh, and a canal from thence to Philadelphia."
This is an interesting passage. It would be interesting to know just how many of Mr. Miner's readers understood at that day what a railway was. There was not then a railway in existence—save the "tram roads" in and about the mines of Newcastle-and to those who understood this how much like the merest vagaries of the imagination must Mr. Miner's confident hope have seemed. And yet it has been more than realized. His grandchildren have indeed not only lived to see that very railroad and canal completed, but he lived to see it himself, finished an in use; and more than this—he lived to see not only that particular railroad and canal, but also eight other railroads and two other canals diverging from this valley to the great coal marts of the country!
But the result of Mr. Miner's investigations, and of his explorations of the Lehigh at that early day, was the hope that even then coal could be got down the Lehigh river to Philadelphia in arks from Mauch Chunk; and in December of 1813 he, in company with Messrs. Cist and Robinson, of Wilkes-Barre, leased the mines at Mauch Chunk and made arrangements to try the experiment. Mr. Robinson withdrew early from their company.
Mr. Miner for a number of years represented old Luzerne (then embracing all of northeastern Pennsylvania) in the legislature of the State. Subsequently he represented Lancaster, Chester and Delaware counties in congress; having for his colleague James Buchanan.
Jacob Cist, who was associated with him in their Mauch Chunk enterprise, was the son of Charles Cist, who with Robert Morris and others had formed the Lehigh Coal Mine company. He came to this valley in his yonth, and commenced the mercantile business in Wilkes-Barre, but he was devoted to scientific studies and held a wide correspondence with scientific men. He understood better than any other gentleman of his day the geology of this region. Highly appreciating its coal, and clearly foreseeing its importance, he was ever ready to promote it appreciation abroad; and great reason have his respected descendants in this valley to bless his honored memory, his sound judgment and far-seeing forecast, verified in his short life by his wise and ample provision for them in the purchase of coal land.
After many and varied experiences, generally marked by sad failures, but these came upon men of unconquerable purposes, at length, March 13, 1837, the company was chartered to build a railroad connecting the Lehigh navigation with the north branch of the Susquehanna. The Lehigh & Susquehanna railroad was completed in time for the shipment of 5,800 tons of coal from Wyoming in 1846.
The Beaver Meadow railroad, chartered in 1830, was finished in 1836, extending from the Beaver Meadow coal basin, which is partly in Luzerne county, to its shipping point on the canal six miles below Manch Chunk, a distance of twenty-five miles to Parryville, the real opening of the Eastern Middle coal district—the rich mines in [p.281] the mountainous regions lying on the south line of the county. These coal fields are distinct from those of the Wyoming valley.
The Hazleton railroad, commenced in 1836, connected with the Beaver Meadow road at Weatherly, half way to the Lehigh, and the Hazleton coal was shipped on the canal at Penn Haven. The old "planes" are seen as you pass the mouth of the Quakake creek at Penn Haven, decaying relics of the past, in the midst of the progress bustle and active business rivalry of competing railroads of the present; instead of the lonely wilderness described by Josiah White in 1818, when with Erskine Hazard they "leveled the river from Stoddardsville to Easton, the ice not having all disappeared, there being no house between the former place and Lausanne, obliging us to lie out in the woods all night." He further says there were but thirteen houses, including the towns of Lusanne and Lehighton, within sight from the river, and for thirty-five miles above Lusanne there was no sign of human habitation.
At the close of the year 1873 the coal lands of the Lehigh company were leased to the Lehigh & Wilkes-Barre Coal company, which was formed by the consolidation of the Honeybrook Coal company and the Wilkes-Barre Coal & Iron company at a minimum rental of $500,000, on a royalty of twenty-one per cent. of the price of coal at Mauch Chunk. This included lands in Luzerne as well as on the Lehigh. The great financial failure of Jay Cook & Co., in 1873, forced the New Jersey Central railroad into the hands of a receiver; the canals were abandoned and the Lehigh coal lands reverted to the original owners.
Asa Packer, native of Connecticut, a carpenter by trade, settled in Susquehanna county, whither he had traveled on foot from his eastern home, when a young man, found work upon the Lehigh, where his keen foresight had play and his great energy of character and indomitable will found material to work upon. He acquired coal property and projected a railroad to carry his coal to market from the Hazleton region. Following the river, his line absorbed the Beaver Meadow road, already in operation from Parryville to Penn Haven, where it received coal from the now abandoned planes. Crossing the Lehigh at that point, the towing path of the upper navigation occupying the west bank, his road followed on the east side to a point opposite White Haven, where by a substantial bridge it joined the Lehigh & Susquehanna railroad at its southern terminus, and thus had uninterrupted communication by rail with the great Wyoming coal field, and transportation without transhipment to tide water.
All this was not accomplished without opposition, and when, after the disastrous flood of 1862, which swept away the upper division of its navigation, the Lehigh Coal & Navigation company decided to abandon the water and extend its Lehigh & Susquehanna railroad from White Haven along its towing path to Mauch Chunk, the head of its canal, competition between the companies developed into keen rivalry for room and right of way along the narrow passes where there had been scant room for a tow path. The Lehigh Valley company, crossing from the east to the west side above Mauch Chunk, occupied available space by numerous sidings to accommodate its growing trade from the Quakake branch at Penn Haven, and the Lehigh & Susquehanna road had to draw upon the east bank of the stream at low water for material to make room for its tracks in the channel, alongside its rival.
The Lehigh Valley company met this new project by pushing the road northward from White Haven to Wilkes-Barre in 1866, competing with the Lehigh & Susquehanna road for through freight. A little incident, exciting at the time and now amusing, will show to what heat the friction of jarring interests had carried the immediate contestants. The Lehigh Valley road united with the Lehigh & Susquehanna road at grade, the bridge having been been built, of course, with a view to amicable trade. A long construction train of gravel cars crossed the bridge one evening, and was shunted upon the rival road with tools of all kinds, ready to begin operations on the new road, the high bluff on the White Haven side at the crossing [p.282] precluding any other arrangement. In the early morning an energetic employe of the Navigation company observed this intrusion, and taking an old locomotive up the track with a full head of steam, he let it loose upon the innocently offending train, and butted it into the Lehigh, a heap of ruins. The immediate result is not remembered, but it is a curious fact, illustrating, perhaps, the admiration of Judge Packer for pluck and energy, that the chief responsible actor in that day's drama has almost from that time been in the service of the Lehigh Valley Railroad company.
The navigation company improved the planes at Solomon's gap, and for convenience of returning trains of empty cars, light freight and passenger traffic, made a light track for locomotive power from the head of the planes north by the Laurel Run gap and back to the foot of the planes, a distance of thirteen miles, to overcome the steep mountain grade by the planes, some three miles. The steepest grade of the back track is ninety-six feet to the mile. It was considered by many to be an almost impossible feat in engineering, but it was successfully accomplished under the supervision of Dr. Charles F. Ingham, of Wilkes-Barre, an able and experienced engineer.
In 1833 the legislature appointed Messrs. George M. Hollenback, Andrew Beaumont, Henry F. Lamb, W. S. Ross, Charles Minor, Samuel Thomas, Joseph P. Le Clerc, Elias Hoyt, Benjamin A. Bidlack, E. Carey, Bateman Downing, Ziba Bennett, Jedediah Irish, Thomas Craig, Azariah Prior, Daniel Parry, Lewis S. Coryell, Joseph D. Murray, John C. Parry, William C. Livingston, Benjamin W. Richards, Robert G. Martin, Joshua Lippincott and Lewis Ryan, commissioners of the Wyoming & Lehigh Railroad company, who employed Henry Colt and Dr. C. F. Ingham, civil engineers, to examine the route through Solomon's gap and report. The elevation of the summit above the borough of Wilkes-Barre was found to be 1,251 feet, and above the Lehigh 604 feet, and the distance between the two points about fourteen miles. Grading for a double track was recommended, with a single track at first. The commissioners, in an address to the public, say: "Persons of intelligence and capacity to judge estimate that 200,000 tons of coal and 3,000,000 feet of lumber, at least, will pass along this road to New York and Philadelphia from the vicinity of Wilkes-Barre, which now remain undisturbed where nature placed them, and the great and increasing trade of the Susquehanna, which now goes to Baltimore, will be diverted to New York and Philadelphia."
At that day, with rails of wood covered with a flat, strap-iron rail, operated by horse power, solid road beds were not so necessary as they are now. The Little Schuylkill railroad ran a light locomotive on such a track, but not with success. So, too, the Delaware & Hudson Canal company, with its first imported locomotive, a more teapot in comparison with those of modern pattern, failed, because too heavy for the road. These estimates, ridiculous as they seem in the light of modern experience, were in accordance with the necessities of the times and the prospects they had of accomplishing a deliverance in that direction. The coal trade of the year preceding did not reach 300,000 tons from all the regions. The year before the company put their road under contract the trade was nearly 700,000 tons.
From the beginning the course of the anthracite coal trade has seemed to baffle all calculations, and those who look back see many wrecks, while in danger themselves of meeting the same fate, from want of faith in the future.
The failure of a loan in England to meet the cost of improvements to make good its loss of the upper navigation, and the sums thrown away in useless opposition to its rival roads, overwhelmed the Lehigh Coal & Navigation company, and its works passed into other hands, to be resumed as already stated. A modicum of the good sense of the early projectors might have shown them that there is room enough and market enough for all, and that competition for the coal trade must be open for the benefit of those most interested, the consuming millions scattered over the broad union of [p.283] States, from the great lakes to the gulf, and from the Atlantic far beyond the Mississippi, even to the Pacific ocean.
The Wyoming coal field is the largest and most northern anthracite basin of Pennsylvania. In area it is something under 200 square miles, or about 127,000 acres. It is about fifty miles in length and about an average of four miles in width, and extends from a point above Beach Grove, on the west side of the river Susquehanna, having a course about northeast, to its terminus a few miles above Carbondale.
Resting on the conglomerate rock of bright pebble stones cemented together, which lies in a cradle of red shale, its boundaries are easily traced along the out- croppings on the Kingston mountain on the west and the Wilkes-Barre mountain on the east, while the sinclinal axis or trough, dipping under the river, is carried deep below the rough hills of the lower townships, rising gradually with an irregular formation like solidified waves, until its measures thin out and disappear along the headwaters of the Lackawanna river, having the shape of a vast canoe.
The Susquehanna forces its way through the western boundary at the middle of the basin, where it receives the waters of the Lackawanna, which have traversed the upper regions of the basin's trough, and together they leave it at Nanticoke, taking a western gorge to Shickshinny, where the stream curves and crosses the lower point of the coal formation on its course to the ocean.
The cluster of small basins in the southern townships of Luzerne county, which are opened by the Lehigh improvements, belong to the second or middle coal field. While Josiah White, Erskine Hazard and other enterprising citizens of Philadelphia were seeking the black diamond among the rugged hills of the Lehigh to its upper waters in Luzerne county, and were solving the problem of its value as a fuel, other Philadelphians were exploring the northeastern borders of the county for mineral coal, and the passes of the Moosic mountain to find an outlet by the waters of the Lackawaxen and Delaware rivers to eastern markets.
Mr. William Wurts was the pioneer "who first conceived the idea of transporting coal of the Lackawanna valley to market by an eastern route." A note to an article on the Delaware & Hudson Canal company in The National Magazine, August 1845, for which acknowledgments are due to Mr. Charles P. Wurts, of New Haven, Conn., says: "With such views, as early as 1844, and while that valley was yet an unbroken wilderness, without road or bridle-path above Providence, he explored it and the passes of the Moosic mountain to find an outlet to the Laclawaxen and the Delaware rivers, selecting and purchasing such coal lands as were most eligibly situated in reference to that object."
On March 15, 1823, Maurice Wurts and John Wurts, who had conceived the bold enterprise of constructing a railroad and canal to their coal lands on the Lackawanna river in Luzerne county, procured from the legislature of Pennsylvania an act authorizing Maurice Wurts of Philadelphia, his heirs and assigns, etc., to enter upon the river Lackawaxen, or any streams emptying into the same, "to make a good and safe descending navigation at least once in every six days, except when the same may be obstructed by ice or flood," from near Wagner's gap in Luzerne, or Rix's gap in Wayne county, to the mouth of the said Lackawaxen, "with a channel not less than twenty feet wide and eighteen inches deep for arks and rafts, and of sufficient depth of water to float boats of the burthen of ten tons." Certainly a modest beginning.
Forty-two days after this act of assembly was approved at Harrisburg the legislature of New York passed "an act to incorporate the president, managers and company of the Delaware & Hudson Canal company," for the expressed purpose of forming a water communication between the rivers Delaware and Hudson, so that a supply of coal might be obtained from large bodies of this valuable article belonging, to Maurice Wurts, of the State of Pennsylvania.
[p.284] By an act of the Pennsylvania legislature approved April 1, 1825, and an act of the New York legislature of April 20, 1825, the two companies were consolidated and reorganized in this state as the "President, Managers and Company of the Delaware & Hudson Canal company; "with power to construct and maintain such railways or other devices as may be found necessary to provide for and facilitate the transportation of coal to the canal.
Soon after the consolidation of the companies work was begun, and ground broken July 13, 1826. Parts of the New York section upon which work was first commenced were being finished when the contractor began work on the Pennsylvania section, which runs from Honesdale to the mouth of the Lackawaxon, a distance of twenty-five miles, at which point it is joined to the New York section by an aqueduct over the Delaware. The length of the canal from the Delaware to the Hudson is eighty-three miles, making the total length of canal from Honesdale to Rondout 108 miles. The act of assembly of April, 1825, at the same time authorized the company to assume all the rights originally granted to Mr. Wurts. The State had reserved the right to resume all the rights and privileges granted at the expiration of thirty years from the date of the law of March 13, 1823, without compensation to the company if the tolls received had already repaid the original cost of the canal, with six per cent. upon the capital invested.
The sites of both Honesdale and Carbondale were in the natural state of our northern wilderness when ground was broken for these canal improvements. Carbondale in 1828 contained one log cabin, built to shelter Mr. Wurts in his early explorations.
Honesdale has long been the county seat of Wayne county, a populous and flourishing borough. It was named from the first president of the company, Philip Hone, Esq.
The Delaware & Hudson Canal company's trade at first was feeble, and anthracite as difficult to introduce in New York as it had been in Philadelphia. Mr. John Wurts, many years afterward president of the company, wrote to Mr. Charles Minor, of Wilkes-Barre, a long and interesting account of his efforts to introduce coal upon boats on the Hudson to generate steam as motive power where wood had been used as fuel. It seems strange at this time that a city having constant communication with Liverpool and Glasgow should have had such strong prejudices against coal, or so little knowledge of its use. True, improvements in making coke and the discovery of applying the hot blast to the hard coal of Wales were just beginning to revolutionize the iron trade in England. It was not till 1833 that the introduction of hot blast to the furnaces on the Clyde reduced the cost of pig iron more than one-half. Then, wood was still cheap in New York. Not a boat could be prevailed upon to give it a fair trial, or voluntarily to lose a day for the purpose of testing this stone coal. The greatest concession gained was permission to work at night, while the boat was lying idle, in fitting the furnace at the company's risk, and in furnishing coal for the experiment on one of the small day boats. This was at last accomplished, and the fact demonstrated that coal was good to generate steam. In 1835 it was deemed an experiment of enough importance to receive special mention in the New York Journal of Commerce under the head, "Steam by Anthracite Coal," that the new steam ferry, "Essex," had been fitted up with Dr. Nott's patent tubular anthracite coal boiler, to use Lackawanna coal. The boat contracted for all its coal at $4 a ton.
The active competition between the Schuylkill canal and the Reading railroad, approaching completion in 1841, so reduced prices that permanent enlargement of the Delaware & Hudson canal was hastened to lessen cost of transportation and meet this competition. But it was not enough. Canals had their day and were out of fashion. The long, cold winters of northern climes, where the bright fires of anthracite coal are most needed to cheer the lengthened nights, render canals useless [p.287] more than half the year by their frosts, and the Delaware & Hudson canal company, with an annual trade exceeding 3,000,000 tons, having reached the maximum capacity, controlled the trade on miles of railway leading from the heart of the Wyoming coal field to Canada, opening directly the very best prospective markets in the world, with numerous connections east and west at all important points along its route, insuring an almost unlimited demand for the products of its mines.
Like an oasis in the desert, the Pennsylvania Coal company through all the misfortunes and depressions of the coal trade, maintained its position as a dividend- paying corporation, and held its stock above par.
The reader will not confound this company with the Pennsylvania Railroad company, which is now enrolled among the coal-transporting companies in this region, operating under the charter of the Susquehanna Coal company on both sides of the river at Nanticoke, and which owns that portion of the old North Branch canal from Northampton street, Wilkes-Barre, south.
The subject of this sketch was originally engrafted upon the Delaware & Hudson Canal company, the ambition of which was limited in extent of its landed possessions and powers of expansion by restrictive clauses in its charter. Two charters were procured from the legislature of 1838, both approved April 16. "The Washington Coal company" was probably organized first, and on April 1, 1849, was authorized to sell and relinquish its property to the Pennsylvania Coal company, under which title the two were consolidated, and afterward absorbed the rights of the Wyoming Coal association, chartered February 15, 1851.
Large tracts of land were purchased in certified Pittston township on the Susquehanna, and in Providence and Dunmore on the waters of the Lackawanna. A double track railroad was made, the cars propelled by stationary power and gravity by a series of inclined planes a distance of forty miles. Ground for this road was broken in 1847 and it was finished in 1850. The loaded track, as it is termed, or the track upon which the loaded cars are run, started two miles below Pittston, on the Susquehanna, with a plane upon which the coal from the Port Griffith mine was hauled, and a train of cars made up at the summit run by its own gravity to the town of Pittston, again to the foot of No. 3 at Pleasant Valley, and so on to Hawley, on the Hudson & Delaware canal, tapping in its course its mines in Luzerne, and on the Lackawanna, in the present county of that name. The return track carried the empty cars back to Port Griffith, dropping the proper proportion at the different mines in its westward course.
As a coal company, looking to large markets and to profits on coal far beyond the capacity of its canal, it was wise to be seeking new markets and encouraging the trade by every opportunity which presented. This foresight has been of great service to the Pennsylvania Coal company. When coal sold at $2.50 at Rondout this company paid no tolls, but when the price was above the sum one-half the increase was charged as tolls on the Delaware & Hudson canal. This arrangement, with the favorable terms for transportation on the Erie road, has given the company important advantages over rival companies. Without the heavy cost of locomotive railroads, owned or leased, or large indebtedness to draw interest from its treasury, it has been able to make dividends which sent its stock up to two hundred and eighty per cent. while other stocks were below par in the markets. In 1850, the year the gravity railroad was opened, it was credited with 111,194 tons upon the Delaware & Hudson canal.
Mr. William R. Griffith, a gentleman of wealth visiting Wyoming valley, became interested in its coal deposits, and was chiefly instrumental in promoting the organization of the Pennsylvania Coal company, and in selecting its coal lands.
The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western railroad was merged in the Lackawanna Western Railroad company, and the corporate name changed to the name, style and title of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western in 1851, and with other small [p.288] charters and connections, uniting like mountain rills with larger streams, this great work was enlarged until it has become a thoroughfare for coal tonnage and for general transportation of freight and passengers from New York city to the far West and Northwest.
It is not many years since the valley of Wyoming was likened to that happy vale in the kingdom of Amhara, surrounded on every side by mountains, in which "Rasselas, prince of Abyssinia, was confided in a private palace, with the other sons and daughters of Abyssinian royalty, till the order of succession should call him to the throne." Col. William L. Stone, in the preface to his pleasant book, The Poetry and History of Wyoming, published in 1841, says: "The happy valley to which the illustrious author of Rasselas introduced his reader in the opening of that charming fiction was not much more secluded from the world than is the valley of Wyoming. Situated in the interior of the country, remote from the great thoroughfares of travel, either for business or in the idle chase of pleasure, and walled on every hand by mountains lofty and wild, and over which long and rugged roads must be traveled to reach it, Wyoming is rarely visited, except from stern necessity. And yet the imagination of Johnson has not pictured so lovely a spot in the vale of Amhara as Wyoming. "Col. Stone had a rough journey over the mountains in the stage coaches, comfortable as they were to the mountaineers, as those who read the notes of his visit in 1839 will remember. But he had the full benefit of the glorious vision which bursts upon the traveler who, after a tedious day's ride from the Delaware, over Pocono and through the "Shades of Death," reaches the summit of the mountains bordering the valley on the east.
Sweet vale of Wyoming! whose Gertrude was once embalmed in every heart of cultivated Europe by the pen of Campbell, now deemed worthy of mention in modern guide books. Has the romance departed from it with the retiring redman? and even the Gertrude of Halleck, seen on the next field, with
Love darting eyes and tresses like the morn,
Without a shoe or stocking, hoeing corn,
been driven out by flying trains of cars crossing its center on tracks leading north and south, east and west, from Baltimore to Boston, from New York to Niagara, and from Philadelphia to Saratoga and to Portland?
A mile east from the main road leading from Wilkes-Barre to Carbondale—not far from Providence Corners, then often called Razorville from the sharpness of its tavern keeper or of the winds which, sweeping the mountain gorges, occasionally blew his house and his sign post over—in a quiet nook on Roaring brook lay "Slocum Hollow," named from its proprietor, one of a large, respectable and influential family of the valley, who had there his farm and mill, and it may be a small furnace. Mr. William Henry, a gentleman of experience in ores and metals, came through Cobb's gap from the iron lands of New Jersey on a prospecting tour, and finding iron ores and coal convenient began the manufacture of pig iron, the power of the stream furnishing blast for his furnace. George W. Scranton with his Yankee brothers had migrated from Connecticut and settled at Oxford, N.J., when young, and there engaged in the iron business. He visited Slocum Hollow and, like Mr. Henry, whose daughter he had married, also became interested in these ore and coal beds; and soon perceived with prophetic eye what capital, energy and enterprise combined might produce from this wilderness. Of commanding presence, strong will and persuasive manner, with but a common-school education, his perceptions of business and of character were quick and clear. He went to New York and laid his plans before the money kings, and soon had capital at his locomotive wheels captive in the beech woods. The dam on Roaring brook was first too small and then too large. Then the furnaces became too large, and the steam engine had power enough to provide blast for several furnaces; but as it is the coal trade and not iron that is the subject of this sketch, each reader will visit Scranton and note the result for his own satisfaction.
[p.289] At the Delaware Water gap the railroad from Scranton united with the Warren railroad, by which it reached the Central railroad of New Jersey, at Junction in 1856, together forming the highway for Scranton coal to tide at New York. The Central railroad, feeling too independent with its immense tonnage, by insisting on terms of renewal of contract, drove both the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western and the Lehigh Valley railroads from it; the one to the Morris & Essex road, which was continued to Easton, crossing it at Washington, N.J., and the Lehigh Valley constructing a new line from Phillipsburg to Elizabeth alongside of and in direct competition with the Central, which was compelled to join fortunes with the Lehigh and Wilkes-Barre Coal Company and the Lehigh and Susquehanna road of the Navigation company to gain its coal tonnage. It was short-sighted policy all round and led to disaster, but served ultimately to greatly increase the coal trade.
In early days Cobb's gap on the east and Liggett's gap on the west smiled at each other over Providence and the Capoose meadows, a little north and east of Hyde Park and Slocum Hollow, both the prospective courses of possible grade for such small locomotives as were then constructed. Col. Scranton loved to tell of the look of incredulity which met his assertion that the time would come when the coal trade by these routes would reach hundreds of thousands of tons, and require so many locomotives— not one-third the number employed when he told it. Upon the completion of his line to New York Col. Scranton attended a meeting in Philadelphia for the first time to consult upon the prospects of the trade for the coming season. The estimated increase was about 400,000 tons. Mr. Scranton suggested in behalf of his company, just entering business, that a fair share of the prospective increase, at least at eastern points, should be conceded to it. Without vanity, he was a proud man, and met the uncalled-for assumption that with the heavy grades of his road through Cobb's gap he would not be likely to unsettle the trade with surplus of coal with a quiet determination to let them see what could be done; and their estimated increase was far exceeded, with a decided reduction in prices.
The northern division of the road, through Liggett's gap, joined the Erie railroad at Great Bend in 1851.
Col. Scranton represented this district in the thirty-sixth congress. Re-elected to the thirty-seventh congress, he died in Scanton, March 24, 1861, aged fifty years, mourned by hosts of friends who honored and loved him.
Slocum Hollow became Scrantonia, then Scranton, its forges and furnaces illuminating the night, and the sounds of its hammers and rolling mills making vocal the air with their music. Now the seat of justice of the new county of Lackawanna, it remains a fitting monument to the memory of its founder.
Among the oldest of the operators was Ario Pardee, of Hazleton. In the list of operators A. Pardee & Co., Pardee Sons & Co., C. Pardee & Co., Pardee Brothers & Co., G. B. Markle & Co., Coxe Brothers & Co., J. Leisenring & Co., Linderman, Skeer & Co., all became widely known.
The Hazleton district is geologically the eastern middle basin, and in the coal trade is the Lehigh district. In this district are the Grew Mountains, Black Creek, Hazleton and Beaver Meadow mining districts.
Demand and Supply.—It will be noted by the intelligent observer of the coal trade as it has passed into history that with the opening of every new line for coal transportation to competitive markets they have been overstocked, and prices reduced below the point of fair profit, until the demand grew to meet the supply. Increasing consumption secured better prices, with failure of adequate supply and larger profits, until new mines were opened and increased transportation, furnished by the completion of new lines of roads or canals, repeated the experience.
Through all the depression the consumption of anthracite coal fell little, if any, below 20,000,000 tons per annum. As the demand for manufacturing purposes failed new markets were found, and notwithstanding hard times and many reverses [p.290] the termination of each decade has registered a substantial increase. In 1830 the total amount of anthracite sold was 174,734 tons; in 1840, 364,384; in 1850, 3,358, 890; in 1860, 8,513,123; in 1870, 15,848,899; in 1879, 26,142,089.
The increased trade was not wholly occasioned by the revival of manufacturing industries. The demand for domestic sizes of anthracite throughout the western States has been rapidly increasing, chiefly supplied from this region. The sales of the Delaware & Hudson Canal company in the West reached nearly half a million of tons in 1879. The Lehigh Valley railroad and the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad company, with more direct communication over their main lines, must have equaled if not largely exceeded it. A revolution in this western trade was effected in the use of box cars of through freight lines for transportation of anthracite, the cars upon reaching their destination being swept out and loaded with grain in bulk for eastern markets or for exportation. With full loads each way transportation is so cheapened that anthracite is being used all through the West in competition with the bituminous coals which underlie any of the farms of those who use it.
An important question presents itself: Are the anthracite coal fields approaching the maximum of production?
More than thirty years ago gentlemen conversant with the subject estimated the limit of anthracite production at from 25,000,000 to 30,000,000 tons per annum. But a very important change in the trade must be taken into the account since those estimates were made. Thirty years ago the size known as chestnut coal was not marketable. At auction sales in New York years ago that size commanded the highest price in the market. Then pea coal and other sizes smaller than chestnut could not be sold at cost of mining.
There are eight large transporting companies dividing the anthracite coal lands. They are the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad company, the Lehigh Valley Railroad company, the Central Railroad company of New Jersey, the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad company, the Delaware and Hudson Canal company, the Pennsylvania Coal company and the New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad company; the railroad companies operating under charters incorporating coal companies controlled by them. There are few properties of any profitable size yet remaining not directly or indirectly at the mercy of these large corporations.
The prices paid for coal lands in the northern or Wyoming coal field when the trade was small were very low, often less than $100 an acre for those in choice positions but yet undeveloped. The farmer who owned a large tract, from a few acres of which he succeeded in gathering a frugal subsistence with hard labor, felt rich if he could sell 400 acres for $20 or $80 an acre and buy a much better farm in the growing West for half the money. Much of course depended on the prospects of early development of the coal and the opening of ways to market. Few of them had much faith in the coal, which had never done any good to the neighborhood; and they only valued the surface as yielding fair returns for labor bestowed. With few wants, the farmer out of debt was rich.
The Pennsylvania Coal company purchased the greater part of its best lands forty years ago, at prices ranging from $75 to $200 per acre, farms and all. When the last farms were secured, probably $300 per acre was paid to close and connect the surveys. Some years after, for small tracts from which they could take the coal through improvements already made, $1,000 per acre was reported as the price paid, which would be cheaper to the company taking the coal out at once than $200 when the coal lay untouched by the miner's pick or drill.
What in common parlance may be called the Hazleton district, is as distinct from the coal fields in the valley as if they were separated by States, instead of simply passing over or onto the range of mountains that occupy the south part of [p.291] the county. Coal here was not discovered until 1826, and a mine was only opened in 1836. This field is in the southeast part of the county and approaches near the Lehigh river. The coal is harder on the uplands than in the valley, and is esteemed by some as of a superior quality. The veins lie with a deep dip toward the center, and mining is carried on by slopes, sometimes at a sharp angle, by sinking a shaft in the center of the dip, the miners would simply work to the surface at each side. Mostly however, they commence at the outcrop and work their way at a steep pitch. The main working here is of the Mammoth vein, while in some of the mines the Wharton and Parlor are worked in connection with the Mammoth. All the mines here are by slopes and drifts, and the pitch varies so much that in no two places is it practically the same. At the Drifton mine the cars are run in and carry out the coal, passing under the hill a mile and a half. The problem of drainage of the mines is being solved by opening tunnels.
Eastern Middle Coal Fields are so distinct from those of the valley that they deserve a separate paragraph. The capital town of this important industry is Hazleton, crowning the high mountainous region of the southern portion of the county.
For some years after mining had commenced in the Wyoming valley there were no veins known to exist on the uplands. Coal was discovered near the city of Hazleton in 1826. John Charles, a hunter, in digging for a ground hog, found coal in what is now the city of Hazleton, and from this fact was formed the Hazleton Coal company. This is the current story and does well enough for a beginning.
Ario Pardee.—The Hazleton Coal company was incorporated March 18, 1836. This may be fixed as the actual commencement of the opening of the rich mining district in the south part of the county. We extract from an affidavit of the late Ario Pardee the following as the best possible history of the rise of this industry in this part of Luzerne:
"The first operations in the Hazleton district were commenced in 1837, on property then owned by the Hazleton Coal company. I was their engineer and superintendent until 1840. Then in connection with Robert Miner and William Hunt, formed the company—Pardee, Miner & Co, to mine coal and transport it to Penn Haven, to load on boats. This continued three years, Miner and Hunt having left the firm, when J. Gillingham Fell became partner. In 1842 we undertook to market the coal; we took part and marketed it. The Hazleton company marketed the rest, paying us a fixed sum on their part of the coal. This continued until 1844; then we made an arrangement to pay them a royalty, which continued as long as the Hazleton company existed and after it was merged and became the Lehigh Valley's property."
This affidavit, made by Mr. Pardee in a trial cause in court, is very authentic history, by the man above all other men acquainted with as well as a moving factor in developing the mines at Hazleton. This gentleman must necessarily go into permanent history in connection with the creating of an industry that has resulted in the proud little city of Hazleton and the rich immediately surrounding country. With great propriety Mr. Pardee has been called "the father" of the coal trade of southern Luzerne county. He was a trained engineer, mineralogist, botanist and a lover of nature, who cast his life here by a fortuitous circumstance, and happily possessed those qualities of intelligence, of foresight for the future and a tenacity of purpose that could not be turned aside by any obstacle; and so he struggled on when others grew faint and weary and met and overcame all adversity and crowned his life and his adopted county with a work that is now a factor in the movements of our civilization. He was no common man, as the results of his life are a demonstration. Of a quiet and retiring nature, known only by his immediate neighbors as "the silent man," but had always a smooth and pleasant intercourse with his friends, yet of a resolute purpose, the kind that builds nations—never destroying [p.292] them. His fortune and life-work for years hung in the balance between success and failure; his close friends feared utter failure and ruin, but he never wavered. When he had demonstrated that coal of finest quality could be here mined, the battle was only well begun. Without transportation the finest coal in the world at the mouth of the mine was only rubbish. He pushed everything to a final solution and a masterful victory. Results of men's lives are the telling points in history as well as in eulogy. The numerous great breakers dotting every hillside; the 100,000 people, the many boroughs, villages, mining towns and the bright little queen city of Hazleton can all say, or it can well be said for them, he was the foster father. "The silent man," who was as unassuming as he was silent and a personal force in the cause of developing the resources of the country in coal, lumber and iron that has had few equals and no superiors. From his home to his workshop and from his workshop to his home, this silent man came and went for more than fifty years. This clock- work routine went on from day to day, from year to year; his first few neighbors here grew old and passed away and children born grew to lusty life and the frosts of winters settled on their heads and they had seen their neighbor thus quietly go and come and come and go, and if the stranger to the place, attracted by the striking personality, would ask, they could all readily answer: "Why, that is Ario Pardee," and most generally with this brief answer their sum total of him was added up. They knew him perhaps as a rich man; a man who gave many men employment, who, they supposed or had heard indistinctly, gave sometimes large sums in charity. So conspicuous a figure, so long here, so material a factor in every movement in this end of Luzerne county and yet, more than his mere presence, little was known of him by his nearest neighbors. The incidents of his inner life were as unknown to the people generally of Hazleton as they were to the frozen Jakuts of northern Siberia. So much was this the case, that when death had so suddenly carried him away as he was away from home in Florida and there had preceded no word of his illness, that the neighbors who had known him so long, realized that of him they knew so little, and then they said again and again he was "the silent man."
By the kindness of his son, Calvin Pardee, we can here give a copy of a letter that is a most invaluable contribution, and so far as is now known, pretty much all of the authentic facts concerning him now attainable, as follows:
HAZLETON, April 6, 1876.
DR. W. C. CATTELL,
Dear Sir: You have often expressed a desire to have from me some personal particulars of my life; but really, on looking back over it. there seems such a lack of incidents that would interest anyone outside my own family, that it seems hardly worth taking up your time with the record. One thing, however, it will not weary you with its prolixity.
I was born in the town of Chatham, Columbia county, N.Y., November 19, 1810, but my earliest recollections are of my father's farm in Stephentown, Rensselaer county, N.Y., a few miles north of New Lebanon Springs, where I led the usual life of a farmer's boy until my twentieth year. My education was limited to what I learned at my father's fireside and the ordinary district school, though fortunately I had, for a time, the advantage of an excellent teacher, in the Rev. Moses Hunter, a Presbyterian clergyman, who, to eke out a scanty salary, taught our district school two winters. I shall always remember him with feelings of the most kindly respect. I was then fifteen years old, and his teaching about finished my school education, though I was an industrious worker at my books in my leisure time at home.
In June, 1830, I made application, through my friend Edwin A. Douglass, for a situation under him and Canvass White, the chief engineer of the Canal company in the engineer corps of the Delaware & Raritan canal, in New Jersey, with good hopes of success, as Mr. Douglass was a townsman, and had known me from a child; but I was met with the, to me, disheartening news, that the company had decided to employ none but Jersey men in the subordinate positions. A day or two after I received another letter saying that if I came on at once I could have the position of rodman. You may well believe I lost no time, receiving the letter on Saturday and leaving home before daylight Monday mornin—joining Mr. Douglass and his corps on the preliminary survey a few miles above Trenton. With him I remained until the canal was finally located, when I was stationed at Princeton with George Tyler Olmstead, [p.293] who had charge of the middle division of the canal. With him I remained until the fall of 1831, when I was sent as sub-assistant to Ashbel Welch, at Lambertville, on the Delaware & Raritan canal. With him I remained until May, 1833, When I was sent, still under Mr. White and Mr. Douglass, to Beaver Meadow, Pa., to make the survey and location of the Beaver Meadow railroad, from the mines of that company to the Lehigh canal at Mauch Chunk. After several changes in the engineer corps the entire charge of the road was given to me, and in the fall of 1836 it was finished and the shipment of coal commenced, when I resigned my position, and, after visiting my parents, who had moved to Michigan, I, in the month of February, 1837, took up my quarters at Hazleton, having Previously located a railroad from the Hazleton coal mines to the Beaver Meadow railroad at Weatherly. We finished that road, and commenced shipping coal in the spring of 1838, and I continued in the employ of the Hazleton Railroad & Coal company, as their superintendent, until 1840, when I commenced business as a coal operator, which I have continued up to this time, also engaging to a considerable extent in iron and lumber. Of the latter years of my life, at least since I made my first investment in Lafayette, you know and it is not worth while to repeat. My life so far has been one of active work, perhaps too much absorbed in, and too great a variety of business; but as that is somewhat a national characteristic, I am not therein singular.
[Signed] A. PARDEE,
His son furnished the following additional facts: "The first firm members were Pardee, Miner & Hunt; then in the course of time the firm was composed of A. Pardee and J. Gillingham Fell, under the name and style of A. Pardee & Co., which continues in business to-day, though both partners are dead. For many years this firm was the largest individual shipper of anthracite coal in Pennsylvania. They were connected either as a firm, or as individuals in the mines at Hazleton, Cranberry, Sugar Loaf, Crystal Ridge, Jeddo, Highland, Lattimer, Hollywood and Mount Pleasant, all being in the vicinity of Hazleton.
"My father was also largely interested in iron works at Buffalo, Stanhope and Secaucus, N.J., Longdale, Va., Allentown, Pa., and at many other points on the Lehigh valley; in lumber operations at various points in Pennsylvania, Michigan and West Virginia, and was engaged actively in business up to the time of his death, March 26, 1892, while in Florida."
The Hazleton Plain Speaker of March 28, 1892, in reference to the unexpected news of the death of Mr. Pardee, said:
"This was our master man. For more than fifty years he has been foremost in the development of the community. The history of the mining of anthracite coal in this field would be told if the life work of Ario Pardee were set out in detail. * * He was among the first also in the bituminous coal fields. [The paper might have added that he was most prominent in the iron and lumber industry of the country—extending, his vast operations into Canada.—Ed.] His was a master mind that could grasp easily every detail of even the greatest plans. His force of character was such that energetic action followed upon his planning as day follows night. And he worked as giants worked. Back of all was an iron will that brooked no contradiction. The secret of his success was the concentration of purpose; he swerved not a hair's breadth from the direct line of his business interests. Such a man could not but be 'generous;' his aid to Lafayette college is a matter of history, simply because he could not award so magnificent a public institution without the facts being the piiblie's. He would have had this, as his many other acts of benevolence, so secret that the left hand know not the doings of the right. * * Of the men closely associated with him in business, his counsel was always given the highest value. It was only in the inner recesses of such circles that the real man was known—better known, though they extended along the Atlantic coast, reaching far into Canada, than to his next-door neighbors in Hazleton. For he lived a man apart. He was our master workman; he has done the work of an hundred men. In the matter of piling up money he achieved a great success; his work is done—'the silent man' will no more walk slowly from his house to his workshop." * * *
Another one, who knew the man intimately, said: "Mr. Pardee's life would fill [p.294] a huge volume if set out in any detail, yet so silent has he been that but little can be obtained from his closest friends. His work, his successes, his temporary disappointments, his stupendous achievements in business enterprises, from the Canadas to the Carolinas, render him a man in a million." Another said: "His life in Hazleton was merely an incident. Of course he was the principal man here, but he was also the principal man controlling the greatest interests in Allentown, in Watsontown and other places. He possessed to an enormous extent the power of acquisitiveness. He lost a fortune in Canada; another at Allentown. His interests in the Broadtop region were as great as here. In New Jersey his iron investments made him the principal man there; he owned vast tracts of timber land in various parts of the Union; he had a fortune invested in the Carolinas alone. And with all he was the most unpretentious man of wealth I ever saw." Of those left at his death who were closely associated with him from his coming to Hazleton, the only one is Mr. A. R. Longshore, of this place. He repeated substantially as given in Mr. Pardee's letter above, adding that he became chief engineer on the Beaver Meadow railroad, and afterward was the chief engineer of the Hazleton railroad. He was in his day an eminent civil engineer. He tells of an incident that Mr. Pardee always said was the turning point in his life. After he had been at Beaver Meadow a few months, the place was so wild, so scarce of any society, that the young man grew homesick and concluded to resign and return home, and started to Philadelphia to carry this out. At Mauch Chunk he met an old friend, to whom he communicated his purpose. The friend warmly opposed the scheme, urged and pleaded with him to return and continue his work. And so strenuously did he present his views that the young engineer did return, and from this fact alone his permanent home was cast in Hazleton.
At first his prosperity was slow; in the financial upheaval of 1837 he suffered heavy reverses, borrowing enormous amounts to tide himself over successfully. But in 1864, said a man competent to know: "Mr. Pardee testified in court that his income the preceding year was over a million dollars. It was then he endowed the chair of mathematics of Lafayette college, and gave the college in addition $300,000 to build 'Pardee Hall.'"
Mr. Pardee was twice married. First with Elizabeth Jacobs, of Butler valley, and of this union were children as follows: Gen. Ario Pardee, Jr., of Philadelphia; Calvin, Alice (Mrs. Earle); Ella (died in Paris). His last marriage was with Miss Anna M. Robison, of Bloomsburg, and her children as follows: Izrael, Anne (Mrs. Allison), Barton, Frank, Bessie (Mrs. A. S. Van Wickle), Edith, Gertrude.
Although nearly eighty-two years of age at the time of his death, so unexpected was it that it came to the community like a sudden shock. But three weeks preceding the final hour he, in company with his invalid wife, daughter Gertrude, Mr. and Mrs. Van Wickle and Dr. Robison, had started on their trip to Florida in the hope of bettering Mrs. Pardee's health. At the time of starting it was the common remark that he looked unusually well and vigorous. At Rock Ledge, Fla., their point of destination, he had compelled himself to so much exercise that he became over-fatigued, and, against the earnest advice of Dr. Robison, refused to stop and rest. A slight cold, and then a chill, and in a few hours he peacefully passed away. So unexpected was the end that those of the party could hardly be summoned to his bedside in time to see him alive. When the first telegram reached Hazleton it was generally supposed that the natural mistake had been made by the operator, and that it referred to Mrs. Pardee, and not to him, and it required explanatory telegrams to compel a full realization of the facts in the case.
Are not these lands the most valuable in the world, considered without reference to any added value by the presence of population as in cities? Nature here has spread this wealth, and the energies of man simply dig out the black diamond and send it to the market.
[p.297] Fortunes have been sunk and millions lost in the early efforts to develop the mines and introduce anthracite coal to the various uses to which it is now indispensable. Few of the pioneers lived to enjoy the fruits of their labors and enterprise. Few of the living even now comprehend the value of anthracite, either the cost value, the "exchange value," or the far greater value as one of the necessaries of life, without regard to ratio, or exchange or price in open market. In the scramble for control of markets it has come to be regarded as a mere item of tonnage, by which to estimate income to rival lines of transportation. The next generation will be able to estimate it from a point of view gained through bitter experience, and will understand its full pecuniary value. The loss of life and the almost countless accidents, resulting in the loss of limbs and health, have added fearfully to the cost, which can not be estimated.
If the estimate which places the limit of production below 35,000,000 tons per annum shall prove correct, and experience to the present hour seems to confirm this, then will the money value soon be ascertained in the market price.
Following closely upon the opening of Pardee's collieries about Hazleton were the mines of George B. Markle & Co., at Jeddo.
Coxe Bros. & Co. started up their works at Drifton in February, 1865, and shipped their first coal in June following. Their second breaker at Drifton commenced work in 1876. In 1879 they started the mines in Black Creek valley, and developed the Gowen, Deringer and Tomhicken collieries. In 1881 opened the Beaver Meadow, and at Eckley in 1886; at Stockton in 1887, and about the same time at Oneida. Commenced shipping coal at the latter place in 1891. The firm commenced building its belt railroad in the spring of 1890, and completed between fifty and sixty miles of single track, connecting all their collieries with main railroads tapping this coal field.
The geological position of the coal seams in this region is as follows: B or Buck mountain, then Gamma or the G vein, then the Wharton, the Parlor, and E or the Mammoth, and then the Primrose. The average of the veins actively worked here is thirty feet in depth or thickness. The earth's disturbances have sometimes split the coal seams, and sometimes the Wharton and Parlor are one, and then in a short distance they again separate. Miners only know approximately the corresponding veins as they open them, even in closely adjacent localities.
Hon. Eckley B. Coxe bears a family name that is closely connected with the Eastern Middlecoal fields, and one that carries our history back to the early annals of the American colonies, their settlement and early struggles, defeats and triumphs in the new world.
In 1795 Hon. Tench Coxe, of Philadelphia, published his book called "A View of America." In the sub-title it says "the whole tending to exhibit the progress and present state of civil and religious liberty." In his book he speaks of our coal deposit and says: "Of this useful fossil Providence has given us very great quantities in our middle and western country. The vicinity of Wyoming and Susquehanna is one bed of coal of the open burning kind and the most intense heat. On the headwaters of the Schuylkill and Lehigh are some considerable bodies. At the head of the western branch of the Susquehanna is a most extensive body which stretches over the country southwesterly. All our coal has hitherto been accidentally found on the surface of the earth or discovered in the digging of common wells and cellars."
He states that at that time and earlier coal was carried from Virginia in ships as ballast. In 1810 he published another book, "A Statement of the Arts and Manufactures of the United States of America for the Year 1810." George S. White in his "Memoirs of Samuel Slater" called him the "father of American manufactures," and says, "Mr. Tench Coxe has been an harbinger of light on this subject." [The development of the cotton industry, then the one supreme article of importance to [p.298] manufacture.] Continuing, he further says: "The writings now extant of Tench Coxe prove emphatically that these were his great views as a statesman who was, advocating principles that were to be the foundation of new empires, and of ameliorating, the conditions of mankind." Then adds the significant sentence: "It is not saying too much when we claim for him the appellation of the father of the growth of cotton in America."
In White's Memoirs of Samuel Slater is the following additional reference to the. Coxes:
"The American branch of the family of Coxe. The first ancestor of the Coxe family connected with America was Dr. Daniel Coxe, who was physician to the queen of Charles II., of England, and also to Queen Anne. He was [by purchase from the king] principal proprietor of the soil of West Jersey, and sole proprietor of the government, he having held the office of governor to him and his descendants forever."
"At the request of Queen Anne he surrendered the government to the crown, retaining the other proprietary rights. [This historical incident may be consulted in. the old folio edition of the laws of New Jersey.] A member of the Coxe family was always appointed by the crown, while there was a resident member in the province, as a member of the royal council of New Jersey until the Revolution." Gov. Coxe was called "The Great Proprietor." [See Smith's history of New Jersey.] Here also is an account of his son, Daniel Coxe, the first ancestor who resided in America. Further along in Mr. White's valuable book we learn: "Dr. Coxe was also proprietor of the extensive province of Carolana [the early spelling] an account of which is given in full in an octavo volume written by his son, Col. Daniel Coxe, entitled the "History of Carolana,"—a copy of which is in the library of congress, the Philadelphia library and also the Atheneum of Philadelphia. The writer had the pleasure of examining a copy of this book in the library of Hon. Eckley B. Coxe, of Drifton. The king's charter to Dr. Coxe was in extent of territory and vested powers the most comprehensive ever granted by the crown to a subject. The family eventually released it, the king conferring in lieu thereof the fee to 100,000 acres of choice land in New York. Dr. Coxe was also a large proprietor of land in Pennsylvania, and in other of the American colonies. To his eldest son, Col. Daniel Coxe, he gave all his American possessions—the gentleman who is mentioned above as the first resident. He arrived here in 1702; intermarried with Sarah, the only child of John Eckley, a judge of the supreme court of Pennsylvania, and left issue among others, William Coxe, who married Mary, daughter of Tench Francis, attorney-general of the province of Pennsylvania. Tench Coxe was the son of this William and Mary Coxe; born in Philadelphia, May 22, 1755, died July 17, 1824. Summarized the genealogy of the Coxe family is: Dr. Daniel Coxe of London, governor of West Jersey, etc., born in 1640, died in 1730; his son Col. Daniel Coxe, born 1663, died April 25, 1734; his son William Coxe, born May 8, 1723, died October 11, 1801; his son, Hon. Tench Coxe, born May 22, 1755, died July 17, 1824; his son, Hon. Charles S. Coxe, of Philadelphia, born July 31, 1791, died November 19, 1879; this was the line of lineal descent that brings us to the present Hon. Eckley B. Coxe, of whom more anon.
In a valuable book, "First Century of the American Republic," pp. 160, a chapter on "Progress of Manufactures" by the Hon. David A. Wells, is the following:
"In an address before the Pennsylvania society for the encouragement of manufactures," August, 1787, by Mr. Tench Coxe (afterward assistant secretary of the treasury under Alexander Hamilton) the great progress in agriculture and manufactures since the late war was particularly dwelt upon." Mr. Wells than quotes numerous passages and statistics from the address showing the status of American growth in all parts of the country and awards to Mr. Coxe the highest [p.299] authority of his time on the subject. He further states that when the convention to form the constitution of the United States met at Philadelphia Mr. Coxe, by his earnest and able presentation of the subject to the members of that body, induced the southern representatives on their return to encourage the raising of cotton fiber, and it is truthfully said that many of them made personal efforts in that line.
Alexander Hamilton in his famous report of manufactures in 1791 says of coal: "There are several mines in Virginia now worked and the appearance of their existence is familiar in a number of places." His attention had been called thereto by his assistant, Mr. Coxe. It was about this time that Mr. Coxe published his views on inter-state commerce—a paper in importance second only to that of Jefferson's Declaration of Independence. He proclaimed the doctrine of "free trade between the States" and forever crushed the clamor of a party then rising up with all the specious pleas for regulating the commerce that crossed State lines.
Again of him Alexander Hamilton said*: "In examining, American writers on the subject I find no individual who commenced so early, and who continued with such unswerving perseverance in the patriotic promotion of the growth of cotton as the only redundant staple which this country could produce; in the commencement and forwarding the cotton manufacture under really disadvantageous and great embarrassments, I find no one appearing at the head and front of thess measures equal to Tench Coxe."
*See Memoirs of Samuel Slater.
In the matter of the development of American industries it has been fashionable, to name Samuel Slater as the "Father of American Manufactures." But history should rectify this. Tench Coxe was the great economist; the author of the American Samuel Slater, as he induced that young Englishman to come to America and was his guide, friend and mentor. Tench Coxe's writings in the foundation of our nation were as beacon lights shining out upon the troubled waters. He was a great statesman in the full, broad sense of a term that is so often misapplied nowadays. He, lived and advanced at least half a century before his age and time. And to-day his every idea and doctrine of government and the promotion of the welfare of the, people are as sound as they were at the dawn of the century and of our glorious republic. He was the cotemporary, and, with due deliberation, the peer of Adam Smith. As a historical fact of no slight significance it may be stated that he owned the first copy of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, that was ever brought to the United States. This man, greater than his time, would enlarge the liberty of the people by developing every of the great resources of the country. His ideas of political economy were as broad as is the true welfare of man. And like all correct principles, they were not confined by State lines, nor by mountains and seas, but as everlasting truths were for all time. Such minds only can reach to that high eminence that constitutes the true statesman as distinguished from the politician— or even the successful office seeker. The truth is always when found eternal, immortal—yesterday, to-day and forever; its discoverers, the patient slaves of genius, are the real sons and daughters of history, who will, because they richly deserve it, live forever. There was nothing, "brilliant" or "magnetic," as the parlance of the day has it, about Tench Coxe. He was far too great for that. His life and work in the young growth of the world's great republic was the strong and enduring foundation on which rests the present greatness and glory of our civilization. His modest little book, "View of America," published in the other century, attracted the profound consideration of the best men in every country of the old world and was translated into several different languages.
Here was another of this race of remarkable men. We have already referred to Col. Daniel Coxe, who married Sarab Eckley and was the author of a book published in 1741—a description of Carolana. The headlines of the opening chapter says: "A description of the great and famous river Meschacebe" (Mississippi). In [p.300] the preface of this book may be found what was undoubtedly the first suggestion that ever appeared in print of the confederation of the colonies of North Aruerica and that substantially foreshadowed the immortal work of our Revolutionary fathers, as follows:
"The only expedient I can at present think of or shall presume to mention (with the utmost deference to his majesty and his ministers) to help and obviate those absurdities and inconveniences and apply a remedy to them is that all the colonies appertaining to the crown of Great Britain on the northern continent of America be united under a legal, regular and firm establishment over which it is proposed a lieutenant or supreme governor may be constituted and appointed to preside on the spot, to whom the governors of each colony shall be subordinate."
There was a fitness, little known to the average American voter, in the election during the latter years of his life of Gen. George B. MacClellan as governor of New Jersey. His election was but a recurrence, most fittingly so, of a chapter in American history—Gen. MacClellan and Hon. Eckley B. Coxe were full cousins. The connection of Tench Coxe with the great coal industry was but a natural sequence of his keen foresight in the coming America. When he knew of the discovery of coal near where is now Mauch Chunk he promptly turned his attention in that direction. The geology of the subject at that time, it should be kept in mind, was but little' understood compared to now. He knew if there was coal at that point that then the vein must extend for miles in some direction and so he purchased nearly 80,000 acres of land and so arranged it that these encircled the point where it was known that coal existed. He knew all these lands were not probably coal bearing, but he reasoned well that some of them certainly would be. In this way be secured the coal lands that are now operated by the house of Coxe, Bros. & Co.
This, as briefly as possible, is something of the ancestry of Hon. Eckley B. Coxe the head of the house of Coxe Bros. & Co., of Drifton, one of the largest coal producors of any private house in the world. A word more here as to the family name of Eckley, and the romantic manner in which it came into such close connection with that of Coxe, may well be produced.
In Watson's "Annals of Philadelphia," we read that: "Col. Coxe, the grandfather of the late Hon. Tench Coxe, made an elopement in his youth with an heiress, Sarah Eckley, a Friend. What was singular in their case was that they were married in the woods in Jersey by firelight by the chaplain of Lord Cornbury, the then governor of New Jersey."
Sarah Eckley, of whose match (as quoted by the annalist) one Margaret Preston, evidently a member of the Society of Friends, writes in 1707, as follows: "The news of Sarah Eckley's marriage is both sorrowful and surprising, with one Col. Coxe, a fine, flaunting gentleman, said to be worth a great deal of money, a great inducement, it is said, on her side. Her sister Trent was supposed to have promoted the match. Her other friends were ignorant of the match. It took place in the absence of her Uncle and Aunt Hill, between 2 and 3 in the morning, on the Jersey side, under a tree by fire-light. They have since proselyted her and docked her in finery."
It will soon be 200 years since this pleasant little romance struck such terror to the female friends of the family of Mr. Eckley of Philadelphia. And yet how freshly is this ancient history accentuated by the prominence and presence of the great-great-grandson and bearer of the two names of that runaway match.
Judge Charles S. Coxe was many years one of the eminent members of the bar of Philadelphia, and for a long period filled with distinguished ability the office of judge of the district court of that city. He being purely a lawyer, realized his inefficiency in the matter of developing the great coal property that was the immense inheritance of the Coxe family. He would not sell any of the inherited coal lands, being well impressed with the wisdom and foresight of his eminent father, Tench [p.301] Coxe. He leased some of the mines, but the lessees were, as pretty much all others of that day, mere experimenters in the unsolved problem of mining, transporting, and then creating a market for the coal of the anthracite regions. Some mines had been opened in the Coxe lands, but had hardly been worked at all, and lapsed into neglect and mostly disuse. He determined to make amends in this respect in the education of his children.
The Engineering and Mining Journal, of June 27, 1891, in giving sketches of the prominent men in the mining industry of the United States, in a brief sketch of Mr. Coxe, said this much of the man on the scientific and technical side of big education and equipments as a master in this journal's specialty:
"No man could be selected as a better representative of the great coal mining industry of the United States than Hon. Eckley B. Coxe, of Drifton, Luzerne county, Pa. This gentleman, with big brothers, inherited large coal estates in Pennsylvania, and was consequently educated with the special object of preparing him for their management. The ability which he has displayed in the management of extensive works and his familiarity with the literature of the profession have won him a world-wide reputation as an expert in this difficult branch of engineering.
"Mr. Coxe was born in Philadelphia, June 4, 1839. His father was the late Judge Charles S. Coxe, and big grandfather, Tench Coxe, well known as a statesman, financier and author, who was commissioner of internal revenue in Washington's administration. Eckley B. Coxe graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1858, and after completing a course in the scientific department of that institution, and spending six months in the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania engaged in topographic geological work, he went abroad in 1860 to continue his studies. The next two years were spent at the Ecole des Mines, in Paris, and then a year in the Bergakademie, at Frieborg, Saxony, after which he passed nearly two years in visiting the mines of England and the continent to study their practical operation.
"Upon his return to the United States in 1865, Mr. Coxe, in company with his brothers, under the firm name of Coxe Bros. & Co., began the business of mining anthracite coal in the Lehigh region, upon property which had been inherited from their grandfather, Tench Coxe. Since that time he has been engaged in the operation of his company's collieries, which are now among the largest producers in the anthracite region of Pennsylvania, their output in 1890 having been about 1,500,000 tons. It is in the management of these mines that Mr. Coxe has won the high reputation which he enjoys, as one of the most progressive, able and honorable of the representatives of the great coal-mining industry of this country.
"For many years Mr. Coxe has resided at Drifton, Pa., near the mines and the homes of the many thousand miners and workingmen whom the firm employs. Between the firm and its employes have always existed the most cordial and pleasant relations, which is noteworthy in comparison with the feelings between operators and miners in some parts of the State. It has always been a matter of pride, however, on the part of Mr. Coxe and the firm which he represents, to spare no pains in improving the condition of the workingmen in their employ."
He has long been a prominent member of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, of which body he was president from 1878 to 1880, and he is an active member both of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and of the American Society of Civil Engineers, of the former of which he has been a vice-president. He has frequently lectured on scientific subjects, and in 1872 he published a translation of Weisbach's Mechanics of Engineering and Construction of Machines.
This is brevity itself when applied to what he has done in the way of developing one of the most important industries of the country. To tell of this fully would require far more space than it is possible to here give. When he took control of the active operations it was at the time of the original organizations of the labor [p.302] societies throughout the country, and the real beginning of this "conflict of labor and capital," to use an expressive term, that has gone on with a constantly growing strength on all sides. On one side labor combined, and the other capital or employers combined. Just here this statement of a simple fact is the widest and strongest comment possible to make on the life and services to mankind of Mr. Coxe: In his shops, mines and railroad are thonsands of employes—among the largest in this line of any firm in the country, and yet in fact in the bloodless but persistent war he has stood between the men and the vast corporations, the unconquerable champion of the rights of all. He has fought the battles of labor and the producer, we may well say, with far more success than have any of the great organizations themselves, and at the same time has championed with equal success the rights of capital against its own errors. Both sides to this sometimes bitter contention have made most hurtful mistakes, and as often as this has occurred, they have found this man their fearless and strongest adversary.
In all his vast and complicated affairs he has never reversed a deliberately formed judgment. This exemplifies the two sides of his nature, his combativeness and strong will, governed by a broad and generous education and a comprehension of economic subjects that most fitly illuminates the wise precepts that came to him from his grandfather, Tench Coxe. When the private mine owners of the country found themselves enmeshed in the coils of the railroads, and their very life being squeezed out of them, when the last ray of hope had nearly gone, this man, single- handed and alone, stepped forth, took up the gauge of battle, dragged the offenders into court, took them before the Inter-State railroad commission,and won a most signal victory. More than all this: When this titanic struggle was on, he brought to bear his own resources, and built his own belt railroad, nearly sixty miles of track, connecting his mines with all the different roads tapping this coal district—routing his strong enemies and compelling them to his terms more effectively than did his great victory in the courts. Thus he fought the battle and gained a signal victory for every private operative in the land, and humbled the proudest and most powerful corporate combine in the world. The victory was for all our people—the humblest miner in the deepest shifts, as well as for every householder in the land compelled to buy fuel—the universal and great necessity of us all.
Illustrating the point now in hand, the writer when at Drifton wandered over the grounds and shops, and among the workmen, and incognito talked to them of their employment and treatment. Chance threw him in company with a recently crippled laborer, who was just able to be out and was carrying a badly injured arm in a sling. He was able to give the minutest details of the men's treatment; telling of the hospital for the employes close at hand, with all its conveniences and elegancies of appointment, and the surgeons, nurses, as well as a large free library for the employes, etc., maintained by the company. Further he gave all the particulars of the very generous monthly allowance in case of misfortune—especially so where there was a widow and children in the case. He summed the case fully with the remark when he said: "Oh, every one knows that he will always be provided for." The writer asked the man finally the opinion of the employes of Mr. Coxe, leaving a slight impression on the man's mind that he was inclined to find some fault with every capitalist. His reply was very significant: "Mr. Coxe is rather a peculiar man; he pays only the common wages to his men; if he once forms an opinion as to what is best for himself and his men, he will tell them, and will never back down from one of his opinions. Generally, I think his opinion right, but sometimes I think him wrong, but he stands as strong by a wrong opinion as by a right one." This workman in his own language was correct, in his estimate of Mr. Coxe's tenacity of purpose. The man told of the strike of a few years ago; said that the miners at Drifton were ordered out and had to obey. They had an interview with Mr. Coxe and he frankly told them what would be the outcome; that they could not drive him; that he could afford to stop [p.303] all work at Driftion far better than they could afford to be idle; that in the end they would have to go to work at probably less wages; that he could live if his property at Drifton was all at the bottom of a Noah's flood, etc. The men mostly knew that all he told them was the truth, but they had to obey orders, and after six months of idleness and all its consequent suffering, were glad to resume work at less wages.
To the genius and thorough education of Mr. Coxe as a mine engineer and in experimental mechanics and chemistry the world owes some of the most valuable improvements in use to-day in mining. He built the first iron and steel breaker ever erected and filled this with many valuable devices as labor savers. This breaker is in full view as the cars approach Drifton, and until he completed his new iron and steel breaker at Oneida, the one at Drifton was the finest in the country. In and about any of these breakers is the most expensive machinery and in the one point of security from fire, if there were no others, he has settled the problem of future breakers and how to build them. He has now machinery that does the work of the coal pickers. At his Drifton shops he builds his own machinery of all kinds from the simplest tools to the great iron breakers, stationary and railroad engines, cars, etc. The company's road is the Delaware, Susquehanna & Schuylkill railroad, connecting the ten mines operated by the company—nine of these mines are in Luzerne county in addition to the one at Oneida. The new steel breaker at Oneida and its vast and improved machinery is one of the finest in the country. As Mr. Coxe said: "We did not want to build our railroad, but the railroads drove us to it and we built it," at an expense of over a million dollars. As a sample of what such pluck and energy may do, it should be stated that before the belt road was completed the roads hauled down their colors and said to all the private miners, we will take your coal at the mine and allow you a fair rate according to the market for it. And the contention was at once over. The company have supply headquarters at New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and for the Northwest at Chicago. The first three named are all connected by telephone with the office at Drifton, thus permitting this busiest of busy men to personally supervise even the details of this company's affairs at all these points, except Chicago, the same as if he were constantly in his office at Drifton. When he visited Europe a few years ago as vice-president of the mining congress held in Paris at the Exposition of 1889, he was cordially received by the most eminent scientists and men of varied culture wherever he went. He is to-day better known across the waters than to many of his immediate neighbors of Luzerne county.
Mr. Coxe has for many years been a prominent member of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, of which he was president from May, 1878, to February, 1880, and has been a frequent contributor of papers to its transactions. He has made a special study of the preparation of anthracite coal and surveying in collieries, and among the papers which he has presented have been several upon these subjects. Mr. Coxe is also a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, having been its vice-president from April, 1880, to November, 1881, and is also a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He has also published a translation of the first volume of the fourth edition of Weisbach's Mechanics of Engineering and Construction of Machines (New York, 1872).
As marked in the most practical affairs of life as is this head of the firm of Coxe Bros. & Co., on the side of his scientific attainments, yet the man is best to be known in his library and workshop; premising this paragraph with the fact that the Latin German and French langnages are familiar enough to him to readily translate the most technical books on his favorite subjects. Adjoining his private office is a large two-story building that is pretty much all windows, and on inquiry the writer found here Mr. Coxe with a corps of assistants, has his chemical and mechanical engineering experimental works, where are worked out his ideas of now machinery and every [p.304] labor-saving device of use in his mines, mining and shops. This is the most interesting spot, and the writer can now far better understand the expressed wish of Thomas A. Edison, who recently visited Hazleton, that he would be able while in the vicinity to visit Drifton and meet Mr. Coxe. In this experimental workshop such a man as Edison would find much to interest him deeply.
But a few steps from this building in company with Mr. Coxe, the writer—a blessed "tenderfoot" in this interesting workshop—was invited to enter a fire-proof one-story building that is his scientific library room, presided over by his assistant in the workshop, Mr. John R. Wagner. Here is gathered the finest technical library on these subjects that are a specialty to Mr. Coxe in the world to-day. This is saying a good deal, but it is simple truth. Over 12,000 volumes and nearly 5,000 rare manuscripts and pamphlets, mostly in English, French and German, but some rare old books that would set ablaze the eyes of a true bibliomaniac. Such is the admirable arrangement of the whole that Mr. Wagner can hand to Mr. Coxe any paper, magazine article, pamphlet or book and page that he may chance to want in a moment.
By this time, to the writer—a stranger to Drifton and the firm of Coxe Bros. & Co., the individual he had set for himself the pleasant task of "writing up"—had passed from the phase of one of the more than sixty millions of Americans to that of an institution—one of the remarkable institutions of our country. Such lives are rare indeed in this world; such a combination of practical and scientific attainments, backed by a capital so ample, all driven toward the one purpose of developing the natural resources of our continent, enriching mankind and pushing forward civilization should mark an era in history.
If the reader will keep in mind that this is a part of the chapter on mines and mining, and in no sense an attempt at biography, then he will understand that the only attempt so far is to present the salient points on this part of the subject of the life work of the head of the house of Coxe Bros. & Co. The details, the lesser lights and shadows of biography, would make a most interesting volume indeed. That, however, is the work of the future biographer and when it falls to the hand equal to the undertaking, the world's literature will be immeasurably enriched. And yet we can not refrain in closing this paragraph from a brief reference to a well-known circumstance that so fitly illustrates another side of this gentleman's character.
In the way of completing the many-sided picture of the man, the following is summarized from the current newspaper literature of the day:
"Mr. Coxe has always been a consistent and ardent Democrat, and in 1880 was elected to the State senate from the twenty-sixth senatorial district, composed of the lower part of Luzerne county and part of Lackawanna county. He did not take his seat as senator, however, because he declined to take the oath of office prescribed by the first section of article VII, of the constitution of the State; and on January 4, 1881, issued to his constituents the following address, in which he tersely gave the reasons for his action:
"'TO MY CONSTITUENTS: I deem it my duty to state to you simply and clearly the reasons which force me to refuse to take the oath prescribed by the constitution as a necessary prerequisite to entering upon my duties as senator, knowing, as I do, that this refusal forfeits my seat. The required oath is: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm), that I will support, obey and defend the constitution of the United States and the constitution of this commonwealth, and that I will discharge the duties of my office with fidelity; that I have not paid or contributed, or promised to pay or contribute, either directly or indirectly, any money or other valuable thing to procure my nomination or election (or appointment), except for necessary and proper expenses expressly authorized by law; that I have not knowingly violated any election law of this commonwealth, or procured it to be done by others in my behalf; that I will not knowingly receive, directly or indirectly, any moneys or [p.307] other valuable thing for the peformance or non-performance of any act or duty pertaining to my office, other than the compensation allowed by law."
He then proceeds in detail to point out the particular meaning of the law, as well as itemize the amounts he had contributed to the committee, and the purpose for which he specified it should be expended. On this the editor of the Philadelphia Times commented as follows:
"No one who knew Mr. Coxe doubted for one moment his assertion that he did not lay out $1 to procure his nomination, and that although he had used money for expenses not expressly authorized by law, not one cent was spent with his knowledge or consent for any improper or fraudulent purpose; and while many of his friends thought he was over-nice and sensitive in adopting a construction of the law which, if followed generally, would have left both branches of the legislature without a quorum, all admired that scrupulous integrity and high sense of honor which are the crowning traits of his character, and which led him to retire from the position to which he had been elected rather than take an oath to any fact about which the strictest constructionist could have suggested the slightest doubt.
"His constituents accepted the explanations of his address in the same spirit as that in which they were given, and in 1881 he was re-elected to the senate by a majority over three times as large as that which he had received the previous year. He served his term in the senate with honor to himself and with great benefit to the State. His intimate acquaintance with the great industries of the commonwealth, his knowledge of practical business, his unquestioned integrity of character and his honesty of purpose made him a model senator, and extended his reputation over the entire commonwealth. His name was presented during a few ballots in the convention of 1882 for the nomination of governor, and his many friends throughout the State urged him to make a contest for the honor, believing that in the struggle between Pattison and Hopkins he would have carried off the prize as an acceptable candidate to all sections of the State. As Mr. Coxe bad previously stated in private that he was in favor of the nomination of Mr. Pattison, he only permitted his name to remain before the convention until the vote given him added to that for Mr. Pattison were sufficient to nominate the latter, when he withdrew as a candidate, and subsequently worked earnestly for the election of Gov. Pattison.
"For many years Mr. Coxe has made his home in Drifton, Luzerne county, near to his mines and to the homes of the many thousands of miners and working- men whom his firm employs. He has been celebrated and justly praised not only for the admirable methods of his mining department, and the character and efficiency of its plant, but also, and even more notably, for the kindly and pleasant relations which have existed between him and the men employed at his collieries. It is doubtful whether at any other place in this country, or even in the world, an employer of labor has taken more pains and more pride than have been taken by Mr. Coxe and the other members of his family at Drifton to minister to the wants and laudable ambitions of his workingmen, and to establish those cordial relations of respect, confidence and friendship which should always exist between labor and capital.
"Like most other coal operators, however, Mr. Coxe has had his share of strikes and labor troubles; but he deserves the credit of having conducted the contests in such manner as to retain the respect and confidence of his men. His mines were idle during the late disastrous strike in the Lehigh region; but, notwithstanding this fact, when he reached Drifton upon his recent return from Europe, in the month of October last, he met with a most enthusiastic reception from some 5,000 of his employes and neighbors.
Since the expiration of his term as senator Mr. Coxe has always taken an [p.308] active part in the work of the Democratic party. He has filled no public position, however, except that of a member of the State committee, and a recognized and trusted leader of his party; and chairman, in 1884, of the Pennsylvania delegation to the national convention in Chicago that nominated Mr. Cleveland.
"He is placed in the gubernatorial gallery of the Times, not that he is himself in any manner an aspirant for the place, but because many prominent members of his party consider him an available candidate, and among those who do not covet the honor or aspire to the position, there is no one in the State who would better fill the office—who has more friends and fewer enemies—or whose occupancy of the high position would confer more honor upon the commonwealth."
George Bushar Markle is a name closely linked with this great anthracite coal region. Like Pardee Haydon and others who pioneered the way in this line, he came here a young man, with no other capital than his bare hands, resolute soul and a clear eye to the coming future and its possibilities. He was the son of John and Emily Markle, and was born in Milton, Pa., July 1, 1827. In his native village he had more than the average school facilities at the schools of Steele and of Kirkpatrick, where as a very young pupil he received those primary lessons in his education that he carried with him during his whole life. At these schools he was the junior companion of better grown lads, some, indeed many, of whom in after years rose to eminence and a wide celebrity. His father was a poor man and the lad, when very young, came to the full realization that his future depended upon himself. It was thus he gained that great lesson so important to every youth of self-reliance, a heritage after all that poverty can give its children, yet really worth more than all the jewels of Ophir and Ind. At the age of fourteen young Markle had learned surveying tolerably well, but the financial affairs of his parents made it imperative, and so he went to Philadelphia and in a carpenter's shop commenced to learn a trade, where he spent some time and made rapid progress. But all our lives apparently are results of trivial circumstances. In this country where everything is on a gigantic scale; where, when a neighbor's pig rooted up a hill of potatoes of another neighbor and this incident in time turns the election for President, and the President's success settles the question of a great war with a foreign nation, that perhaps ends in re-mapping the world, you may see that even a trivial circumstance may culminate in great results. Young carpenter Markle had a fall from a trestle and for quite a while could not follow his trade. He returned, in consequence, to Bloomsburg, where his father had in the meantime removed, and learned, with his father, the saddler's trade—work that he could do. He had now reached the age of twenty; was an expert saddler and harness maker and his hand had not forgotten its cunning with the carpenter's tools; was clerk in store; and connected with a foundry a short time. His exhibition of his faith in himself is given by at that time joining in wedlock with Miss Emily Robinson. Of this union were nine children— five of whom are living: Clara, Ida, George B. Jr., John and Alvan, and when he was twenty-two, with his young wife, came to Hazleton and made his life home, finding his first employment as a clerk in Pardee's store, being by marriage related to Mrs. Ario Pardee. First clerk, book-keeper and at the same time was superintendent of store. In this employ he remained nine years, soon having superintending charge of the store and from that was made the responsible head of this great firm, as general superintendent of its collieries, etc. In an incredibly short time after his last promotion he became a master among the mine operators and was a most valuable aid to Mr. Pardee. Mr. Markle was a born mechanic and here his genius found full play. He introduced many valuable improvements in mining machinery. His quick eye detected defects in the old machines and his ready wit would then solve the problem by the substitution of a better way of doing it. Thus he could make himself invaluable. He introduced changes and made inventions on every hand, enough to revolutionize the coal industry. He was the designer of the present form of "breaker" now in universal use in the anthracite districts.
[p.309] Anthracite coal as it comes from the mines is not marketable. The "run of mine" can not, as in the case of bituminous coal, be sold. Anthracite, being very compact and practically free from volatile combustible matter, burns only at the surface, and it is, therefore, deemed important to have lumps as nearly of a uniform size as possible, so that between them a large amount of surface will remain exposed to the action of the air without checking the draught too much, or allowing enough air to pass to cool the coal below the ignition-point. In other words, if the pieces of coal of the size of a chestnut and smaller are mixed with lumps of the size of an egg they fill the air-passages and prevent a free draught. It has long been recognized, therefore, that one of the most important points in preparation is to have a uniform sizing, and also to make as large a number of different sizes as can be produced without too great expense. It is also essential to remove all dust, which is of little or no use at present, and depreciates the value of coal in the market.
Mixed with the pure coal large amounts of slate, "slate coal" and "bony coal" generally occur. The term "slate-coal" is used to designate lumps composed partly of coal and partly of slate, in which the pure coal occurs in such large masses that, by re-breaking, pieces of pure coal of marketable sizes can be obtained economically, and "bony coal" to designate lumps in which the coal and slate are so interstratified that they can not be separated economically by mechanical preparation; also coal in which the impurities are present in such high percentages as to destroy or greatly diminish its market value. In other words, slate coal is coal from which, by breaking and preparation, a certain amount of pure coal can be obtainded: bony coal is coal which can not be economically rendered more pure by mechanical preparation, although it may be used for certain purposes in its crude condition.
The problem is to remove the impurities as completely as possible. Of course, when the slate occurs in separate pieces it should be eliminated without further breaking. But the slate coal must be broken into smaller pieces to separate the slaty portion from the coal. It is generally impossible to sell all the larger lumps which come from the mines, and machinery must be provided for breaking them up into such sizes as the market requires.
This statement is made necessary to give the reader outside of the anthracite region some idea of the functions and importance of the "breaker"—those black, tall, open, camelopard-looking structures the traveler on the cars sees in passing through this section for the first time, and wonders what they and their great culm piles have to do in the coal getting. These ungainly-looking affairs each, of themselves, have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. We are assured that the late George B. Markle may be called the "father of the breaker" in its present form. He had learned the coal business while with Mr. Pardee, and, after nine years' experience with him, resolved to commence business for himself, and in 1858 formed the firm of G. B. Markle & Co., the partners being J. Gillingham Fell, Ario Pardee and William Lilly. Mr. Markle was the senior and entire manager and they opened the Jeddo colliery. Then was laid the firm foundation of the vast fortune that awaited this man of tireless energy and keen foresight. Mine operating was still an unsolved problem. The world was unused to the absolute necessity of the common use of hard coal. The operators were working under many disadvantages, chiefly that of imperfect machinery about their breakers. Mr. Markle realized all this fully, and, as said, his experience had taught his remarkable mechanical mind that here was where improvement must commence. He conceived a plan for the improved breaker, called to his side the best mechanical skill he could find, and attempted to convey to them his idea and was ready to build one on his new plan. After many efforts to convey his ideas to the minds of these mechanics he realized they could not fully understand him from drawings and specifications, and so, with his pocket- knife, he whittled out a breaker—a model, perfect in proportions and with every piece of timber in its proper place, and then the builders could not err. That model, [p.310] made with a knife only, is substantially the exact breaker now in universal use, and from that has come the great impulse that has extended this industry to its present bewildering proportions. His son, John Markle, the present head of the house in the coal business, gives the history of that whittled-out model, and, with regret, informs us that it was carelessly given to the children as a toy, and was by them finally totally destroyed. What a misfortune! It would have been, if preserved, to-day one of the most interesting contributions to the Columbian Fair at Chicago in 1893. Mr. Markle was an inventor of marked ability. "The Markle pump," now so extensively manufactured, and in use in the collieries, was his sole invention. It has no rival in its line of work. His improvements in the coal crushers, the jig and much of the other machinery that he never thought it worth while to patent, are, by their common use, ever-living testimonials of his mechanical genius.
That this man became first in importance in this part of the coal fields is much as a matter of course. He had many of the elements of a born leader. Original and daring in conception, and yet every faculty perfectly balanced. When the "labor troubles" came and the whole business of mining was in jeopardy; when the coolest heads among employers were becoming much confused; then it was, that, by a common impulse, all turned for guidance and counsel to him, and soon the word was passed from one to the other: "We will all agree to whatever Mr. Markle agrees to with his men." And upon this basis the threatened calamity was generally safely tided over.
In 1876 Mr. Markle's health became seriously impaired, and this continued to grow until 1879, when he retired from active life and went to Europe, where he spent a year, returning in 1880, when he completely severed all personal supervision even largely as advisor of his now vast affairs and resigned himself to the care of his physician and family. He consulted the most eminent physicians attainable, visited many of the world's most noted health resorts, but in vain. August 18, 1888, he passed peacefully from earth. His widow, helpmate and mother of his children, survived but a brief month after his death.
This, briefly, is Mr. Markle as he was intimately linked with the anthracite coal industry and its development. Great as it was it was but a part of the man. In his social and financial life he was equally a central figure. This article will conclude with a brief enumeration of some of the leading facts in his case.
In 1868 he founded the banking house of Pardee, Markle & Grier. It soon was widely known as one of the soundest money institutions of the country. He was a large stockholder and director in the Lehigh Valley Railroad company; director and stockholder in the Highland Coal company; the same in the Rock Hill Iron & Coal company, the East Broad Top Railroad company; was chairman of coal land purchasing committee of Lehigh Valley railroad; director of the Union Improvement company; was the general coal land purchasing agent of the Lehigh railroad; and was extensively interested in the iron industry, holding large and valuable shares therein.
Jeddo Tunnel is one of the most important improvements so far introduced into the coal industry in the anthracite regions, its daring projector being John Markle, who is president and chief engineer of the company. Like most of the world's advances, it is the creature of a commanding necessity, and had its origin in the following: On June 20, 1885, about twenty-eight acres of ground over the Harleigh mine caved in. This extended close to the Ebervale workings. About a year afterward, for fear that the immense body of water would crush the barrier between the two mines, the Ebervale Coal company drilled six holes through the barrier to release the water into the Ebervale mine, from whence it was pumped to the surface. The workings were profitably mined from that time on to January, 1886, when one of the heaviest rain storms flooded nearly every mine in this section. The immense amount of water passing through the new canal on the south side of [p.311] the coal measures was filled to overflowing, and the backwater began running into the old channel and from there into the Harleigh mine. The water rapidly rose to the level of the old gangway connecting with the Ebervale workings and began pouring into the latter, submerging the pump beneath forty feet of water.
The operator of the Harleigh mine at this time was M. S. Kunmerer, and the operators of the Ebervale mine were Van Wickle, Stout & Co. This incalculable wealth was thus locked securely against man's efforts to reach it and these important mining industries were practically abandoned. Skillful engineers were called for, and yet but little light came as to the way out. Broad Mountain, as its name suggests, is not a narrow mountain range that can readily be drained from either side. The scheme of driving a tunnel, commencing in Butler Valley and penetrating the hill and draining all that rich district was that of Mr. John Markle, who had given the subject much consideration, John Markle then acquiring the property for the G. W. Markle Coal company. If he could figure out this as a feasible undertaking, it was the evident solution of a most important problem. Calling to his aid the resident engineer of the Tunnel company, Thomas S. McNair, after a full preliminary examination, the enterprise was determined upon. Thereupon the Jeddo Tunnel company, limited, was organized in December, 1890, and the following officers chosen: President and chief engineer, John Markle; resident engineer, Thomas S. McNair; secretary and treasurer, William H. Smith, Jr.; board of managers, E. P. Wilbur, William Lilly, John Markle, William H. Smith, Jr., and Alvin Markle. The entire work when completed will be 360 feet short of five miles, striking the foot of the mountain a short distance east of the Mountain View house, and the main tunnel passing under the mountain a distance of three miles, being thirty feet under the bottom of the Ebervale mines. The greatest depth under the surface is 700 feet, passing under the Latimer mine at a depth of 260 feet below the bed of the Lattimer mine. Before reaching the Ebervale mine, the tunnel changes its direction almost at a right angle, running north a distance of about two miles to Jeddo slope No. 4 (Mammoth vein). The two tunnels are A and B.
Tunnel "A" is to be constructed from Butler valley in Butler township to near the bottom of Ebervale Mammoth vein slope No. 2, a distance of about three miles. This tunnel is to be 8x8 feet in the clear.
Tunnel "B" is to be built in a vein beneath the Mammoth vein from the bottom of Ebervale slope No. 2 to a point opposite Jeddo No. 4 slope and about right angles from this point to near the bottom of Jeddo Mammoth vein slope No. 4. This Tunnel B will be one and seven-tenths miles long and will be 5x6 feet in the clear.
The slope and airway will be sunk on a vein underlying the Mammoth at Ebervale. The size of the slope will be 9x7 feet and about 1,000 feet long. The airway is to be 5x5 feet and 1,000 feet long.
Tunnel "A" is to be built with three headings, two from the bottom of the proposed slope and the other from the Butler Valley side, so that the water will run from the tunnel as the work proceeds.
The estimated cost of the work is over $500,000 and it is to be completed in 1895.
The official figures as gleaned from the government official reports in reference to the collieries in Luzerne county, their location and their operators are given below.
The anthracite coal fields of Pennsylvania are situated in the eastern part of the State, and extend about equal distances north and south of a line drawn through the middle of the State from east to west, in the counties of Carbon; Columbia, Dauphin, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Sullivan, and Susquehanna, and known under three general divisions, viz.: Wyoming, Lehigh, and Schuylkill regions. Geologically they are divided into five well-defined fields or basins, which are again subdivided, for convenience of identification, into districts, as follows: [p.312]
Geological Fields or Basins. Local -Districts. Tade -Regions. Northern Carbondale Wyoming Scranton Pittston Wilkes-Barre Plymouth Kingston Western Northern Bernice Wyoming Eastern Middle Green Mountain Lehigh Black Creek Hazleton Beaver Meadow Southern Panther Creek Lehigh Southern East Schuylkill Schuylkill West Schuylkill Lorberry Lykens Valley Western Middle East Mahanoy Schuylkill West Mahanoy Shamokin
PRODUCTION OF ANTHRACITE COAL OF ALL GRADES, BY COUNTIES, IN 1899 DISPOSITION OF TOTAL PRODUCT. Total product of Loaded at Mines Used by employes Used for heat coal of all grades for shipment on and sold to local and steam for year 1889 railroad cars trade at mines at mines COUNTIES Long Tons Long Tons Long Tons Long Tons Susquehanna & 351,842 319,126 5,820 26,896 Sullivan Lackawanna 8,939,621 7,823,694 588,535 527,392 Luzerne 16,607,177 14,892,324 446,036 1,268,817 Carbon 1,210,973 1,080,544 19,592 110,837 Schuylkill 9,052.619 7,837,369 181,893 1,033,357 Columbia 628,695 539,273 15,663 73,759 Northumberland 3,176,740 2,770,914 57,857 847,969 Dauphin 697,485 553,632 14,184 129,669 Total 40,665,152 35,816,876 1,329,580 3,518,696
The total production of anthracite coal in Pennsylvania during the calendar year 1889 was 40,665,152 tons of 2,240 pounds (equal to 45,544,970 tons of 2,000 pounds), valued at the mines at $65,718,165, or an average of $1.61-3/5 per long ton, including all sizes sent to market. In the above 35,816,876 tons are included unsalable sizes temporarily stocked at convenient points near the mines and tonnage loaded into cars but not passed over railroad scales, as well as waste in rehandling in the various processes of cleaning the smaller sizes. The quantity reported by the transportation companies as actually carried to market, which is the usual basis for statistics of shipments, was 35,407,710 tons during the year 1889; 1,329,580 tons were used by employes and sold to local trade in the vicinity of the mines, and 3,518,696 tons were reported as consumed for steam and heating purposes in and about the mines. The item of colliery consumption, however, is somewhat indefinite, the coal being taken either from the current mining, or from screenings and used where needed, often without preparation, and rarely included in the accounts of the operator, being reported to the census office in most instances as "approximated." For these reasons it has been excluded from the basis of valuation of the product at the mines.
The average number of days worked during the year 1889 by all collieries was 194. The suspension of mining, during periods aggregating about one-third of the year, was caused mainly by the inability of the market to absorb a larger product. [p.313] The number of persons employed during the year, including superintendents, engineers and clerical force, was 125,229. The total amount paid in wages to all classes during the year was $39,152,124. The total number of regular establishments or breakers equipped for the preparation and shipment of coal was 342, nineteen of which were idle during the year. Besides these there were forty nine small diggings and washeries, supplying local trade. There were also eighteen new establishments in course of construction.
The statistics of anthracite coal in Pennsylvania compiled for the tenth census were based upon the year ending June 30, 1880, and thus covered the last six months of 1879, and the first six mouths of 1880. The present census covers the calendar year 1889. The following items from the previous census are herewith given to show the developments which a decade has made in this industry:
Total production for 1889, including all coal shipped to market and sold to employes and local trade about the mines, exclusive of culm (long tons) 25,575,875 Equal to (short tons) 28,640,819 Value of product at mines $42,172,942 Average price of all grades per long ton at mines $1.68 Total shipment for census year (long tons) 24,566,822 Total shipments for calendar year 1879 26,142,689 Total shipments for calendar year 1880 23,437,242 Total number of collieries 275 Total amount of wages paid in the year $22,664,055 Total number of employes, all grades 70,669
The largest actual shipment during any year in the history of the trade was made in 1888, being 38,145,178 tons of 2,240 pounds. The largest actual shipment for any one mouth was 4,187,527 tons, in October, 1888. The largest actual shipments ever made in each of the months of and year to December, 1889, inclusive, are given in the table below, and show that, if the mines should be operated as actively in each month of the year as they ever have been in that mouth, the product for the year would be a little less than 4O,OOO,OOO long tons. The shipment of 1889 was, therefore, ninety per cent. of the maximum shipments practicable under existing conditions.
LARGEST SHIPMENT FOR EACH MONTH OF ANY YEAR. Years. Months. Tonnage. Years. Months. Tonnage. 1889 January 2,622,529 1888 August 4,097,563 1887 February 2,551,003 1888 September 3,916,326 1887 March 2,911,272 1888 October 4,187,527 1888 April 2,856,593 1888 November 3,718,652 1889 May 3,016,531 1887 December 3,068,079 1889 June 3,038,216 1889 July 3,627,522 Maximum shipment practicable 39,611,813
Average monthly tonnage based upon largest shipments ever made 3,300,984 Average annual shipments during ten years ending with 1889 31,551,301 Average annual shipments during five years ending with 1889 34,390,868 DISTRIBUTION OF ANTHRACITE COAL FOR 1889. Sections. Long tons. Per cent. Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey 22,314,331 63.02 New England States 5,407,357 15.27 Western States 4,922,076 13.90 Southern States 1,613,120 4.56 Pacific Coast 20,900 0.06 Canada 1,094,736 3.09 Foreign 35,190 0.10 Total 35,407,710 100.00[p.314]
SHIPMENTS OF ANTHRACITE COAL SINCE 1820. SCH'KL REGION. LEHIGH REGION. WYOMING REGION. YEARS. Long tons. Per ct. Long tons. Per ct. Long tons. Per ct. From 1820 to 1859 inclusive 44,049,622 52.54 17,755,009 21.18 22,031,210 26.28 83,835,841 From 1860 to 1869 inclusive 44,769,022 41.80 20,035,073 18.71 42,288,823 39.49 107,092,918 From 1870 to 1879 inclusive 68,237,040 34.87 35,683,152 18.23 91,794,184 46.90 195,714,376 From 1880 to 1889 inclusive 96,428,369 30.56 55,016,850 17.44 164,077,794 52.00 315,523,013 Total 253,484,053 36.10 128,490,084 18.30 320,192,011 45.60 702,166,148The initial lines of transportation from the anthracite coal fields are operated by the following companies:
Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad company.A directory of the mines and operators of mines in Luzerne county is as follows:
New York, Susquehanna & Western Railroad company.
New York, Ontario & Western Railroad company (in construction).
Delaware & Hudson Canal company.
Erie & Wyoming Valley Railroad company.
Central Railroad Company of New Jersey.
Lehigh Valley Railroad company.
Pennsylvania Railroad company.
Philadelphia & Reading Railroad company.
New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad company.
NAMES OF MINES. Local district. Townsbip, etc. Nearest station. Name. Ewen Breaker Pittston Jenkins Tp. Pittston Pennsylvania Coal Co. Shaft No. 4 Pittston Jenkins Tp. Pittston Pennsylvania Coal Co. Breaker No. 6 Pittston Jenkins Tp. Port Blanchard Pennsylvania Coal Co. Breaker No 10 Pittston Marcy Tp. Pittston Pennsylvania Coal Co. Breaker No 14 Pittston Jenkins Tp. Port Blanchard Pennsylvania Coal Co. Barnum Pittston Marcy Tp. Pittston Junction Pennsylvania Coal Co. Annora No. 1 Pittston Jenkins Tp. Laflin Annora Coal Co. Avoca Pittston Pittston Tp. Avoca Avoca Coal Co. Ltd. Langcliffe Pittston Pittston Avoca Langecliffe Coal Co. Twin Pittston Pittston Pittston Newton Coal Min'g Co. Ravine Pittston Pittston Pittston Newton Coal Min'g Co. Seneca Pittston Pittston Pittston Newton Coal Min'g Co. Mosier Pittston Marcy Tp. Pittston Newton Coal Min'g Co. Hunt Pittston Kingston Tp. Wyoming D., L.& W. R.R. Co. Hallstead Pittston Marcy Tp. Duryea D., L.& W. R.R. Co. Butler Pittston Pittston Tp Pittston Butler Mine Co. Ltd. Everhart Pittston Jenkins Tp. Yatesville Butler Mine Co. Ltd. Schooley Pittston Exeter Tp. West Pittston Butler Mine Co. Ltd. Columbia Pittston Marcy Tp. Duryea Old Forge Coal Co. Babylon (b) Pittston Marcy Tp. Coxton Babylon Coal Co. Consolidated Pittston Pittston, Tp. Moosic H. C. & I. Co. Clearspring Pittston West Pittston West Pittston Clearspring Coal Co. Elmwood Pittston Pittston Tp. Avoca Florence Coal Co. Ltd. Fairmount Pittston Pittston Tp. Pittston W.& J. O'Neill Keystone Pittston Plaines Tp. Will Creek Keystone Coal Co. Stevens Pittston Exeter Tp. Exeter Stevens Coal Co. Mount Lookout (b) Pittston Exeter Tp. Exeter M. L. C. Co. Ltd. Exeter Pittston Exeter Tp. West Pittston Lehigh Valley Coal Co. Heidelberg, No. 1 Pittston Pittston Tp. West Pittston Lehigh Valley Coal Co. Heidelberg, No. 2 Pittston Pittston Tp. West Pittston Lehigh Valley Coal Co. Spring Brook (a) Pittston Old Forge Tp. Moosic Whitney & Kemmerer Diamond, No. 1 Wilkes-Barre Wilkes-Barre Wilkes-Barre L.& W. Coal Co. Hollenback No.2 Wilkes-Barre Wilkes-Barre Wilkes-Barre L.& W. Coal Co. Empire No. 4 Wilkes-Barre Wilkes-Barre Wilkes-Barre L.& W. Coal Co. S.Wilkes-Barre No.5 Wilkes-Barre Wilkes-barre Wilkes-Barre L.& W. Coal Co. Stanton No. 7 Wilkes-Barre Wilkes-Barre Ashley L.& W. Coal Co. [p.317] Jersey No. 8 Wilkes-Barre Hanover Tp. Ashley L.& W. Coal Co. Sugar Notch No. 9 Wilkes-Barre Hanover Tp. Sugar Notch L.& W. Coal Co. Wanamie No. 18 Wilkes-Barre Newport Tp. Wamamie L.& W. Coal Co. Alden Wilkes-Barre Newport Tp. Alden Alden Coal Co. Newport No. 1 Wilkes-Barre Newport Tp. Lee Newport Coal Co. Red Ash No. 1 Wilkes-Barre Wilkes-Barre Tp Ashley Red Ash Coal Co. Red Ash No. 2 Wilkes-Barre Wilkes-Barre Tp Ashley Red Ash Coal Co. Colliery No. 1 Wilkes-Barre Hanover Tp. Nanticoke Susquehanna Coal Co. Colliery No. 2 Wilkes-Barre Hanover Tp. Nanticoke Susquehanna Coal Co. Colliery No. 5 Wilkes-Barre Hanover Tp. Nanticoke Susquehanna Coal Co. Colliery No. 6 Wilkes-Barre Newport Tp. Glen Lyon Susquehanna Coal Co. Bennett Wilkes-Barre Plaines Tp. Mill Creek Thomas Waddell Warrior Run Wilkes-Barre Hanover Tp. Warrior Run A. J. Davis. West End No. 1 Wilkes-Barre Conyngham Tp. Monanaqua West End Coal Co. Maffett Wilkes-Barre Hanover Tp. Sugar Notch Hanover Coal Co. Abbott Wilkes-Barre Plaines Tp. Miners Mills Abbott Coal Co. Hillman Vein Wilkes-Barre Wilkes-Barre Tp Wilkes-Barre Hillman Vein Coal Co. Franklin Wilkes-Barre Wilkes-Barre Tp Ashley Lehigh Valley Coal Co. Enterprise Wilkes-Barre Plaines Tp. Port Bowkley Lehigh Valley Coal Co. Henry Wilkes-Barre Plaines Tp. Port Bowkley Lehigh Valley Coal Co. Midvale (a) Wilkes-Barre Plaines Tp. Port Bowkley Lehigh Valley Coal Co. Mineral Spring Wilkes-Barre Plaines Tp. Wilkes-Barre Lehigh Valley Coal Co. Prospect Wilkes-Barre Plaines Tp. Wilkes-Barre Lehigh Valley Coal Co. Dorrance Wilkes-Barre Wilkes-Barre Tp Wilkes-Barre Lehigh Valley Coal Co. Wyoming Wilkes-Barre Plaines Tp. Port Bowkley Lehigh Valley Coal Co. Mill Creek Wilkes-Barre Plaines Tp. Mill Creek Del. & Hud. Canal Co. Pine Ridge Wilkes-Barre Plaines Tp. Miners Mlls Del. & Hud. Canal Co. Laurel Run Wilkes-Barre Plaines Tp. Parsons Del. & Hud. Canal Co. Baltimore Slope Wilkes-Barre Wilkes-Barre Tp Parsons Del. & Hud. Canal Co. Bal.Red Ash No.2(a) Wilkes-Barre Wilkes-Barre Tp Parsons Del. & Hud. Canal Co. Baltimore Tunnel Wilkes-Barre Wilkes-Barre Tp Wilkes-Barre Del. & Hud. Canal Co. Conyngham Wilkes-Barre Wilkes-Barre Wilkes-Barre Del. & Hud. Canal Co. Delaware Wilkes-Barre Plaines Tp. Mill Creek Del. & Hud. Canal Co. Lance No. 11 Plymouth Plymouth Plymouth L. & W. Coal Co. Nottingham No. 15 Plymouth Plymouth Plymouth L. & W. Coal Co. Reynolds No. 16 Plymouth Plymouth Plymouth L & W. Coal Co. Avondale Plymouth Plymouth Tp. Avondale D. L. & W. R. R. Co. Woodward Plymouth Plymouth Tp. Kingston D. L. & W. R. R. Co. Dodson Plymouth PlymouthTp. Plymouth John C. Haddock. East Boston Plymouth Kingston Kingston W. G. Payne & Co. Parrish Plymouth Plymouth Plymouth Parrish Coal Co. Colliery No. 3 Plymouth West Nanticoke West Nanticoke Susquehanna Coal Co. Salem Plymouth Shickshinny Shickshinny E. S. Stackhouse. Boston Plymouth Plymouth Tp. Plymouth Del. & Hud. Canal Co. Plymouth No. 2 Plymouth Plymouth Tp. Plymouth Del. & Hud. Canal Co. Plymouth No. 3 Plymouth Plymouth Tp. Plymouth Del. & Hud. Canal Co. Plymouth No. 4 Plymouth Plymouth Tp. Plymouth Del. & Hud. Canal Co. Plymouth No. 5 Plymouth Plymouth Tp. Plymouth Del. & Hud. Canal Co. Pittebone Kingston Kingston Bennett D. L. & W. R. R. Co. Kingston No. 1 Kingston Kingston Tp. Kingston Kingston Coal Co. Kingston No. 2 Kingston Plymouth Tp. Kingston Kingston Coal Co. Kingston No. 3 Kingston Plymouth Tp. Kingston Kingston Coal Co. Kingston No. 4 Kingston Kingston Tp. Kingston Kingston Coal Co. Gaylord Kingston Plymouth Tp. Plymouth Kingston Coal Co. Harry E. Kingston Kingston Tp. Bennett Wyoming Val. Coal Co. Harry E. No. 2 Kingston Kingston Tp. Maltby Wyoming Val. Coal Co. Black Diamond Kingston Kingston Tp. Kingston John C. Haddock. Mill Hollow Kingston Kingston Tp. Bennett Thomas Waddell. Maltby Kingston Kingston Tp. Maltby Lehigh Valley Coal Co. Pond Creek Green Mount'n Foster Tp. Sandy Run M. S. Kemmerer & Co. Upper Lehigh No. 2. Green Mount'n Butler Tp. Upper Lehigh Upper Lehigh Coal Co. Upper Lehigh No. 4. Green Mount'n Butler Tp. Upper Lehigh Upper Lehigh Coal Co. Minesville Black Creek Hazle Tp. Hazleton Milnesville Coal Co. [p.318] Latimer No. 1 Black Creek Hazle Tp. Hazleton Pardee Bros. & Co. Latimer No. 2 Black Creek Hazle Tp. Hazleton Pardee Bros. & Co. Latimer No. 3 Black Creek Hazle Tp. Hazleton Pardee Bros. & Co. Hollywood Black Creek Hazle Tp. Hazleton Calvin Pardee & Co. Sandy Run Black Creek Foster Tp. Sandy Run M. S. Kemmerer & Co. Highland No. 1 Black Creek Foster Tp. Highland G. B. Markle & Co. Highland No. 2 Black Creek Foster Tp. Highland G. B. Markle & Co. Oakdale No. 1 Black Creek Hazle Tp. Jeddo G. B. Markle & Co. Oakdale No. 2 Black Creek Hazle Tp. Jeddo G. B. Markle & Co. Deringer Black Creek Black Creek Tp. Deringer Coxe Bros. & Co. Drifton No. 1 Black Creek Foster Tp. Drifton Coxe Bros. & Co. Drifton No. 2 Black Creek Foster Tp. Drifton Coxe Bros. & Co. Drifton No. 3 Black Creek Hazle Tp. Drifton Coxe Bros. & Co. Eckley No. 5 Black Creek Foster Tp. Eckley Coxe Bros. & Co. Eckley No. 10 Black Creek Foster T. Eckley Coxe Bros.& Co. Gowen Black Creek Black Creek Tp. Gowen Coxe Bros. & Co. Tomhicken Black Creek Sugar Loaf Tp. Tomhicken Coxe Bros. & Co. Oneida (a) Black Creek Sugar Loaf Tp. Tomhicken Coxe Bros. & Co. Hazlebrook Hazleton Foster Tp. Hazlebrook J. S. Wentz & Co. Humboldt Hazleton Hazle Tp. Hazleton Linderman, Skeer & Co. East Sugar Loaf No.1Hazleton Hazle Tp. Stockton Linderman, Skeer & Co. East Sugar Loaf No.2Hazleton Hazle Tp. Stockton Linderman, Skeer & Co. East Sugar Loaf No.5Hazleton Hazle Tp. Stockton Linderman, Skeer & Co. Mt. Pleasant Hazleton Hazle Tp. Hazleton Pardee Sons & Co. Stockton Hazleton Hazle Tp. Stockton Coxe Bros. & Co. Cranberry Hazleton Hazle Tp. Hazleton A. Pardee & Co. Hazelton Hazleton Hazleton Hazleton A. Pardee & Co. No. 3 Hazleton Hazleton Hazleton A. Pardee & Co. No. 6 Hazleton Hazleton Hazleton A. Pardee & Co. Laurel Hill Hazleton Hazleton Hazleton A. Pardee & Co. South Sugar Loaf Hazleton Hazle Tp. Hazleton A. Pardee & Co. Beaver Brook Beaver Me'd'w Hazle Tp. Audenried C. M. Dodson & Co. Spring Mount'n No.4 Beaver Me'd'w Jeansville Jeansville J. C. Hayden & Co. a Idle in 1889. b New establishment, no product in 1889.
Of the coal trade of 1891 and its prospects the Wilkes-Barre Record of October 30 says:
"In the meantime the anthracite coal trade is at its best this year in production, price and demand. All the roads are shipping as much coal as they can conveniently handle, and there are evidences that at least two of them are working to their full capacity. These companies are the Delaware & Hudson, and the Pennsylvania Coal company. The Lackawanna has a very heavy tonnage, and the Jersey Central is doing all it can. The latter company, which has no western outlet, is disposed to find fault with the Reading. In fact all racers for tonnage find it fashionable to put the onus of the big tonnage on Mr. McLeod. It can not be denied that Reading is doing a very heavy business, but all the companies are doing the same thing. The Reading company has several outlets for coal which it didn't have last year, and it is sending more coal west and south than it did at that time. The line trade is also larger, but the competitive tide shipments are very little, if any greater, than in 1890. The trade is, apparently, taking all the coal which is going to market, and while this is the case there can be no serious results. It is estimated that the shipments of coal this month will foot up over 4,000,000 tons as against an allotment of 3,850,000 tons."
The using of the heretofore vast quantities of culm that are piled like mountains about the mines is now successfully carried on in this county in three places: Salem, by E. S. Stackhouse; at Swetland, by J. W. Davis, and Glen City, by the Scotch Valley Coal company, limited.
[p.319] Avondale Disaster.—Monday morning, September 6, 1869, the civilized world was startled by the news of the disaster at the Avondale mine, situated one mile below Plymouth in this county, where 108 people perished. Fire broke out in the shaft at 10 a.m. and soon passed up to the headhouse, and this and the coal breaker and all the other buildings near the shaft were quickly wrapped in flames, that first seemed to come up the shaft roaring, like a storm. This explosion was the first notice the engineer, Alexander Weir, had of the fire, and so rapidly did it spread in the buildings, that he barely had time to arrange the machinery to prevent explosion of the boilers and escape without his hat. The buildings extended 300 feet to the track of the Bloomsburg railroad. At one time the rows of miners' houses were threatened, but the wind fortunately carried the flames toward the mountain. The families of the men down in the mine instantly realized the horror that came so suddenly, and the people for miles of the surrounding country hurried to the spot. The telegraph called the fire companies from every surrounding town to Scranton and these, too, hurried by special trains to stay, if possible, the holocaust.
By the middle of the afternoon the combined fire companies had control of the fire and a stream of water was poured into the shaft through a tunnel and the mouth of the shaft cleared and soon preparations made to descend. A small dog and a lighted lamp were first sent down at 6 o'clock and both came up all right. Loud calls were made down in the hopes of a response from the men, and many in that throng of thousands, excited and strung to utmost tension, imagined they heard a feeble response and the heart-broken wails turned momentarily to expressions of joy and hope. A volunteer to descend was now called for, and Charles Vartue stepped forth, took his place in the bucket, and no man probably ever was followed with more prayers and hopes than was this brave follow as he descended. He had only gone half way down when he met obstructions in the shaft. Two fresh men were now sent down. They found a closed door and pounded upon it but received no answer; returned and reported, and now hope was gone from the coolest-headed of the crowd; but the families of the imprisoned were wild with fear and hope still. Two other men were sent down—Thomas W. Williams and David Jones—a voyage of death to the poor fellows, The deadly gas was rapidly gathering and had struck them down and they were brought up dead—the first of the many victims whose bodies were recovered. Air was now pumped into the mine. Parties of two were now sent down at frequent imtervals and after a few minutes were hoisted up suffering greatly and many were resuscitated with difficulty. The first bodies were found the Wednesday following at the stables. At 6:30 o'clock a.m. that day, R. Williams, D. W. Evans, John Williams and William Thomas descended and made an extended search, and came to a closed brattice in the east gangway and breaking this down, found the dead, sixty-seven, together, all grouped in every position in this place where they had shut themselves in; the others were found in groups and singly in other places of the mine, having fled as far as possible from the burning shaft.
A relief fund for the families was set on foot and the willing charity of the people in all parts of the country soon reached the figures of $155,825.10, and the distribution committee met and agreed upon a plan of distribution. This meeting was held September 13, following, and the first payment was made October 1, according to the regulations of the respective payments as formulated by the executive committee, Hendrick B. Wright, George Coray and Draper Smith.
This shocking disaster called the attention of the country to the necessities of putting up every possible protection for the miners. It was made evident by the testimony before the coroner's jury that had there been a second outlet to the mine the men might have been saved. And laws were passed to that effect, as well as providing mine inspectors much as the laws are now. Still disasters follow, and at this writing, December, 1891, but a few weeks ago, a quiet Sunday morning thirteen lives, of the fourteen in the mine were sacrificed by a gas explosion in a mine.
[p.320] Jeansville Disaster occurred February 4, 1891, and in some respects was one of the remarkable ones in the history of mining. In the mine operated by T. C. Hayden, seventeen men were suddenly entombed by the water, and all perished except four, who in this darkness of horror survived twenty days and were finally rescued and recovered from the dreadful experience. The mine is at Jeansville, near the south line of the county and south of Hazleton, a little over two miles. The protecting wall of a gangway gave way to the waters about 10 o'clock a.m. of that day, and, except the four, all were drowned. These fled to the slope, where, by getting on a rock near the roof, they were out of reach of the water, but completely cut off from the outside world. The news of the disaster was carried around the civilized world, and after trying every possible experiment and finding thirteen of the dead, in the face of hardly a shadow of a hope the pumping of the water went on for eighteen days before further explorations could be made. On the morning of the twentieth day the party heard voices, and upon calling were answered and the names of the four given. It took more than half a day to reach them and carry the poor fellows to the slope, where were physicians, nurses, and every possible precaution to save the sufferers. Twenty days without light, food or water and hardly room to move their bodies. Human endurance, it seems, has nearly exhaustless fountains to draw upon. The imagination can not even make an effort to picture the sufferings of these poor miners. Less than one more day and all would have been dead.
Nanticoke Disaster, November 8, 1891.—About 4 o'clock of the quiet Sunday afternoon a terrible explosion shook the ground for a distance around shaft No.1 of the Susquehanna Coal company, which is at the intersection of West Main and Church streets, Nanticoke borough. The shaft is 1,000 feet deep and works seven coal seams, and where the explosion occurred is 1,200 feet under ground. Here fourteen men were at work, all carefully selected or well-known experts, engaged in changing the air currents to meet new openings in the mines. But fourteen men were in the mine, and that all feared danger is seen in the fact that Sunday was selected, when the miners were all out. It is not known how the gas explosion was caused, whether through a defect in some one of the lamps or otherwise. Of the fourteen men twelve were instantly killed and the thirteenth mortally hurt, and even the remaining one was seriously afflicted, though not immediately at the point of explosion. From this shaft the seven seams worked are the Ross, Hillman, Lee, Forge, Mills, Twin and George. It is well understood there is more or less gas in all the mines in this vicinity. Three of the men killed were fire bosses; Henry R. Jones, aged thirty two, married, two children; John Arnot, aged thirty-seven, married, three children; and William Jonathan, aged thirty-five, married, three children.
Lesser accidents from various causes, mostly however gases, are still frequent. So frequent are fatalities reported that, until one reflects how many people are delving in the mines, he is apt to conclude that here life is precarious.