Area History: A History of Mahanoy City Colleries
written by T.L. Thomas
Contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by Shirley E. Ryan,
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A History of Collieries in and around Mahanoy City, Schuylkill Co. Pa.
written by T.L. Thomas, a local businessman and historian
Transcribed and submitted by Shirley E. Ryan
(Note: this article is not dated, but believed to have been written in
the early 1940's)
EARLY LOCAL COLLIERIES NEAR MAHANOY CITY, PA.
The following paper on collieries in this section was written by the late
Thomas L. Thomas from personal knowledge and from information furnished by
Reese T. Reese, Scranton, Pa.; Fred Moyer, John Cleary; John Feichtner;
Philip Bradbury, and Esau Rees, all deceased.
THE HARTFORD COLLIERY
operated by capitalist from Hartford, Connecticut, was located south of the 600
block on East Mahanoy St. The coal was mined in two drifts, located between Main
and Catawissa Streets. The inside foreman was John Weber, and the outside foreman
was Peter Malia - both Germans. The coal was hauled in mine cars, drawn by four mules,
along the side of the mountain South of town, to a trestle leading to the breaker,
and dumped. Michael Ryan who married Mary Ann Keegan, and his brother, Martin
(driver for the Human Fire Co., for many years afterwards) drove the four mule teams
from the Hartford drifts to the Hartford Breaker.
The original company that opened and operated this breaker which was known as the
"Hartford" was composed of Edward Gorman and friends from Port Carbon. Mr. Gorman
was a brother of Patrick J. Campion's mother and was a first cousin of Peter, Thomas,
and David Gorman, of Mahanoy City. They sold the breaker to some capitalist from
New England. The Gormans then opened and operated what was known as the "NEW GORMAN'S"
COLLIERY on the same railroad tracks near the tunnel.
What is now known as the "Hartford" drift (previously called Baldwin's), is directly south
of the City Shirt Dressing Department, 108-110 West Maple Street. John Holland, Sr.,
opened the Hartford drift but soon after it was operated by Philip Conrad and William
Cowley. Conrad was formerly superintendent of Wiggan's and Treble Colliery and Cowley
was also a former mine superintendent of a regional operation.
George King, William Tyler, and John Bryant operated this plant at a later date (This
was the Old Hartford Drift). They hauled the prepared coal over Catawissa Street to
the Reading tracks and loaded it into railroad cars near the Gashouse (near Linden Street
and Railroad Street). The famous riot of June 3, 1875 occurred at this operation.
Sheriff Werner read the riot act. That afternoon two companies of the National Guard
of Pennsylvania arrived from Pottsville and were stationed in Mahanoy City for several
days when they were relieved by the Harrisburg Grays and the Wrightsville Zouaves.
In the early 1880's Layton Baldwin operated this colliery which was then called Baldwin
Drift. He constructed shutes at Fourth Street (the present location of the
Mahanoy Township High School), to load coal from this point. This mine was later
sold by Baldwin and he went to North Dakota and took up farming. While in Mahanoy City
he resided at 34 West Mahanoy Street, in the same house in which Charles Conrad, Sr.,
his predecessor in the same mines, had lived.
was located back of the 500 block on East Mahanoy Avenue. It was on the mountainside
but not as high as the Hartford Colliery. A party of Welshmen operated this mine.
Their names were David Reynolds, Richard Phillips, Walter Lewis, and John Griffith.
COLE'S COLLIERY (now TUNNEL RIDGE)
was owned by George W. Cole, who built a breaker and commenced shipping coal in
December 1863. In 1869 it became a colliery. Thomas Lewis, Sr., father of
Dr. Thomas Lewis, was general superintendent and Thomas Williams was inside foreman.
The latter was shot in the labor troubles of 1875. Williams resided at
539 East Center Street. John Shipman was outside foreman in 1878.
Cole's Patch extended from the end of Stony Point to what is known as Seven Blocks
(there were seven block houses at this point). This is now included in Cole's Patch.
John Forster, son of Peter Forster, was a loader-boss at this colliery.
was also known as Fisk's Colliery. A company of men from Boston, Massachusetts, under
the leadership of Pliny Fisk of Suffolk County in that State, operated this mine in 1864.
The following year it was sold to the Suffolk Coal Company. John Phillips was
superintendent, and his son, Captain Edward Phillips, was outside foreman. The Village
of Suffolk contained thirty houses and a Union Church. Smith and Krebs owned the first
store in this Village.
ST. NICHOLAS COLLIERY
was also known as Cake's Colliery. Colonel Henry Cake and his partner, Mr. Guise,
opened this mine in 1861 and operated it for many years. The colliery is not standing now,
but was about seven hundred yards east of the Old Suffolk Breaker. The Village near the
breaker was known as Cake's Patch or St. Nicholas. At present the village of
St. Nicholas comprises the communites of Boston Run, Wiggan's, Suffolk, and Cake's.
WIGGANS AND TREIBLES' COLLIERY
stood at what is known as Upper Wiggans and the Village was known as Wiggans. Later
this colliery was identified with Bear Run Colliery. George Wiggan (prounounced Wig-gan'
accent on the last syllable), was an Englishman who resided at Tamaqua, Pennsylvania,
where he had mining operations twenty years prior to coming into the Mahanoy Valley.
He resided in a beautiful home which stood back in a yard surrounded by large shade trees
at 130-138 West Center Street. George Wiggan was an Uncle to Mathilda Ellis, the
second wife of Samuel Parmley. The opening of the Wiggan mining operation brought
the Parmley family to Mahanoy City. Samuel Parmley conducted a general store at
Center and Catawissa Street.
BOSTON RUN COLLIERY
was conducted by several men from Boston, Massachusetts. Focht and Allen operated it
in 1862. Three years later it was operated by Althouse & Brother. Rees Tasker was
superintendent at this operation for many years. John Skeath was inside foreman and
John W. Madenforth was outside foreman in 1880.
HILL'S COLLIERY NOW KNOWN AS MAHANOY CITY COLLIERY
was owned by Hill and Harris. Charles Hill was superintendent as well as owner. He
came from Pottsville and resided at 113 South Main Street in a very large and beautiful
home for several years. The first coal was shipped in 1862. The veins operated were
Primrose, Skidmore, and Mammoth. This is one of the earliest collieries in the
SILLIMAN'S COLLIERY LATER KNOWN AS NORTH MAHANOY CITY COLLIERY
was the second mine to be opened in this vicinity. Samuel and Edward S. Silliman, Sr.,
came from Pottsville to the borough in 1861. Alexander S. Fister, cousin of Mr. Silliman,
was outside foreman, he resided at Stony Point (the West end of Spruce Street). It was
Mrs. Fister who gave the name to that section, suggesting it instead of Rock Town, which
some of the men planned to call it. The first shipment of coal was made in 1861. The
original breaker was destroyed by fire in 1869. That year, Mr. Silliman sold it to Hill,
Harris, and Rumble, who built the present colliery.
BOWMAN'S COLLIERY LATER KNOWN AS COPLY COLLIERY
was opened in the Spring of 1862. The Bowman Brothers, Peter, Jonas, and David, came
from Parryville, Carbon County, Pennsylvania, to operate this mine. Peter Bowman had
been engaged in coal mining near Tamaqua since 1849, and was therefore an experienced
operator. He "sunk" the Newkirk Slope, which was the second slope to be opened in
Schuylkill County in 1849. The Village around Bowman's Colliery had fifteen houses.
William Davidson was inside foreman; Gottfried Reiding was blacksmith; John Snyder was
stable-boss. The original workings were six drifts. A shaft was "sunk" on the Buck
Mountain Vein. Peter Bowman resided on East Center Street (site of the Domson and
Elks Building), which his brother, Jonas, resided next door (site of Sherzinger's
Jewelry Store property) and David resided at the Northwest Corner of Main and Mahanoy
SHOEMAKER'S COLLIERY, LATER KNOWN AS WEST LEHIGH COLLIERY
was operated by a man named Shoemaker from Trenton, New Jersey. It was located where
the Village of Trenton now stands. This was in 1864. In 1870 he sold it to Bedford
and Company. In 1874, Fisher Hazard became the owner. Mark D. Bowman was superintendent
and Robert J. Bowman was outside foreman. There were twenty-four tenant houses
connected with this Colliery.
PARK PLACE WAS KNOWN AS THE "WELSH" COLLIERY
because it was owned and operated by Welshmen, David Reynolds, Joseph Roberts, and
Richard Phillips. It was opened in 1872. In 1877 they sold it to Lentz, Lilly and
was name for J. O. Robinson, a brother-in-law of the owner of the mine. He conducted
a company store in conjunction with the colliery at 32 East Center Street.
FOCHT'S COLLIERY, LATER KNOWN AS SCHUYLKILL COLLIERY
was opened in 1863 by Abraham Focht, who commenced shipping coal in the Spring of 1864.
The Colliery was sold in 1865 to the firm of Focht, Whittake, and Company who operated
it until 1877 when it passed into the hands of the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and
Iron Company. In the early days Rees Price was foreman and William Watkins was also
a foreman at this Colliery.
BUCK MOUNTAIN COLLIERY
was opened in 1833 by William Spencer of Minersville, Pa., who was also superintendent
of the mine. The employees came from "Old Buck Mountain", near Weatherly, Pa., to work
in this newly opened mine. They called it Buck Mountain in memory of the old home and
colliery from which they migrated. Those who came to this section when this mine was
opened were the Lowe, Coll, Trimble, Gilsion, Ryan, Quinn, Hanlon, Breslin, Fowler,
Herron, Bernard O'Donnel, Michael Myers, Charles Woodrow and William Welsh families.
Later in the 1890's the Griffith, Kline, and Comley families resided at Buck Mountain.
was opened in 1900. James Reese was superintendent here for many years. Michael Myers
and Conrad Dresch, Jr., were foreman at one time. The breaker was built under the
supervision of William Underwood, a mining engineer. Owned by the Lehigh Valley Coal
Company, it was closed with their other mines in this section early in 1930.
NEW BOSTON COLLIERY
was opened in 1864 by a party of capitalist from Boston, Massachusetts, hence the name.
Charles Hovey, of Boston, was the first superintendent. Coal shipments were made in 1865
and continued until 1871. This company was succeeded by the Broad Mountain and Lehigh
Company who operated here until 1873 when a reorganization was affected under the name
of the Middle Lehigh Company. In 1876 John Hitch leased the Colliery. In 1880,
Asa Packer and Eugene Delano were the proprietors. Morgan Price was superintendent.
John Goyne, Sr. was outside foreman, Michael Murphy and Henry Knaute were inside foremen.
The Lattimore family were connected with the Colliery and store for many years.
Thomas Belville was manager of the Store. William Comley and Harry Gerber were clerks.
Members of the Patterson and Kline families were also employed here. Morgan Beddow was
an official here for a number of years, retiring in 1937 when Madeira, Hill, and Company,
its operators in recent years, entered voluntary bankruptcy on Saturday, August 28.
On November 16, 1937, it reopened under the management of Tony Ross, West Pittson operator,
who also leased the Morea Mine. The Village of New Boston, which grew up in conjunction
with the development of the mine, numbers about fifty houses.
MILL CREEK, East of New Boston Colliery, afterwards was known as Mill Creek Coal Propery.
was known as "Old" Boston Breaker, in the early days when it was owned by Packer and
Delano. The name was changed to Morea about 1893. Daniel Thomas, who was a State
Senator from this district, was superientendent at this operation in the 1890's.
PRIMROSE COLLIERY, ALSO KNOWN AS STEELE'S
was opened in 1862 by Steel and Patterson, who operated it until 1866, when Caleb
Kneavies purchased the mine. The veins worked were the Primrose, Mammoth and Skidmore.
At one time James Wynne was outside foreman and Frank F. Reed was shipper. At a
later date, John Williams was inside foreman and John Pfleuger was outside foreman.
was opened in 1871 at a point opposite the Grant Iron Works (the old foundry), the site
of which is now known as Foundry Row. The operators of this Colliery were Ralph R. Lee
and Thomas and George Wren, of Pottsville. They erected a breaker with machinery at a
cost of $85,000 and operated it until 1874 when they sold the Colliery to the
Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company. Ralph Lee resided at
408-412 East Center Street in a large brick residence with a lawn to the East.
George Wren resided at 214 West Mahanoy Avenue in a similar residence with a lawn
at the Eastern side. Thomas Wren, his father, never resided in Mahanoy City.
LANIGAN'S, FOWLER'S, JACKSON'S AND MAPLE HILL
were in the same neighborhood, which seemed nearer to Shenandoah than Mahanoy City,
but the people were closely allied to our community. Lanigan's later became known
as Ellengowen, named for the wife of Franklin B. Gowan, president of the Philadelphia
and Reading Coal and Iron Company. Following the First World War, St. Aidan's Roman
Catholic Church was erected at Ellengowen.
is a more recent colliery than its neighbors. It was erected about 1890 and is midway
between Ellengowen and Suffolk. The St. Nicholas Central Breaker of the P&R Coal and
Iron Company, the largest breaker in the world, erected in 1932, is adjacent to
Maple Hill and the other mining villages in that area.
FOWLER'S, later known as KNICKERBOCKER COLLIERY,
was opened in 1864 by M. P. Fowler and Henry Huhns. The first shipment of coal was made
November 23, 1864. In 1865, the Colliery was sold to the Knickerbocker Coal Company of
New York City, of which Isaac I. Hayes, the great Arctic Explorer, was president. It
became a Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company operation in January 1873. The
Village adjacent to the breaker was known as Fowler's, but is now called Yatesville.
A Union Church with Methodist affiliation is located in Yatesville.
was operated by Henry Jackson, who also had a store at 137-139 West Center Street in
Patrick J. Barry operated a mine known as BARRY'S COLLIERY, near BARRY'S JUNCTION.
He conducted a store in connection with the mines at 17 West Center Street.
GLENDON, formerly known as LAWTON'S COLLIERY,
was opened in 1861 by Abram Potts, who built a small breaker in 1862. In 1863 the mine
was sold to Alfred Lawton, who built a larger breaker. A Mr. Bensinger was superintendent
when Mr. Lawton owned the Colliery. In 1866 this Colliery was sold to James B. Boylan
and he operated it until 1876. Joseph Seligman was superintendent at this time. In
1876, the Delano Land Company took possession of it, leasing it to J. C. Hayden and
Company. This company was composed of J. C. Hayden of Jeansville; Francis Robinson
of York; and Dr. Thomas N. Patterson of Summit Hill. The last mentioned moved to
Mahanoy City and assumed management. For thirty years the Patterson family continued
to be interested in this mine. The veins mined were the Seven Foot, Buck Mountain,
A little Village of nine houses, known as Lawton's or Glendon, grew up about the
Colliery - near Pleasant Hill picnic ground. The Palmer, Goyne, Richardson, Entwistle,
Noakes, Kline and Lynn families lived there. William Palmer, Sr., was inside foreman;
John Goyner, Sr., was outside foreman. Later, James McCabe was outside foreman;
William P. Daniels, superintendent; Samuel Patterson, clerk, and John Tucker, fireboss.
some people have the impression that there was a Colliery name Craigs. Near the
Village or "Patch" called Hill's there lived a family named Craig. Mr. Craig held
the position of foreman at the Collliery and resided in the little settlement which
eventually became known as Craigs.
Author's Note: Verification of many of the important details contained in the above
article may be found in the 'Schuylkill County History" published in 1881.
transcribed by Shirley E. Ryan