WIGGANS

DECEMBER 10, 1875

Local History

 
Photo courtesy Shirley Ryan. Thanks Shirley! 
 
 The information that follows
is directly from the pages of the reference
 

Find Munsell's Book in its entirety

online at the link opposite

under Books at  
Schuylkill County Gen Web .
or Munsell's book can be 
purchased at 
the Schuylkill County Historical 
Society .
It is also available at
the Pottsville Public Library.
These type of writings 
provide color into the 
black and white world of history
and bring to life the coal region
as it was during 
the mid to late 1800's.

The St. Nicholas, Wiggans, and Suffolk Patches

 

St. Nicholas/Wiggans/Suffolk Patches

 

This place includes the St. Nicholas, Wiggan's  and  Suffolk

patches, as they were formerly called.  It was settled in 1861,

at  which date Cake & Guise commenced  mining  operations  here.While engaged in erecting the breaker Mr. Guise was killed by an

accident.  H.L. Cake, the surviving partner, named the place and

colliery St. Nicholas, and the post-office, established in  1863,

and kept  by B.F. Smith, was given the same name.  In 1864, Mr.

Cake disposed of the colliery to a party of  capitalists  and

operators, incorporated as the St. Nicholas Coal Company.   Some

of  its prominent members were George Ormrod, C.F. Shoener,  John

Donneston and W.F. Donneston.  This company operated the colliery

until February, 1880, when the Philadelphia and Reading Coal  and

Iron Company succeeded it.

 

The first store in St. Nicholas was kept by Smith & Krebs, and

opened about 1861.  It is now kept by James Delong.  The Union Church was built in 1874 by the united  efforts  of all who were interested in having

Protestant services held in the place.  Among its prominent supporters were Major Phillips, James Delong, Benjamin  Jones  and John A. Donneston.  It is a neat framed structure and meets the wants of all classes of believers. Services are held by Primitive Methodist, Evangelical, Presbyterian, Lutheran and Reformed clergymen from the adjacent boroughs.

 

St. Nicholas Colliery

This colliery was opened in 1861, and

it  is now the property of the Philadelphia and Reading Coal  and

Iron  Company.  Its breaker was built in 1861; has a capacity of

five  hundred tons daily, and its average annual  shipments  have

been about 80,000 tons.  Three hundred men and boys are employed.

The  slope is sunk to a depth of 720 feet below water  level  and

workings opened in the Buck Mountain, two splits of the Mammoth,

and, to some extent, in the Primrose.  J.A. Donneston was superintendent  under the St. Nicholas Coal  Company  nearly  sixteen

years.

 

St.  Nicholas  Division, No. 26, S. of T.

This  division  was

instituted  April  8th, 1879, with Richard Koons,  John  DeSilva,

B.R. Jones, F.J. Smith, Thomas Metz, George Shafer, Charles Drum,

William  Jones, William Trevethyn, E.C. Koons and Owen  Brown  as

charter members.  At the first meeting Richard Koons was  elected

W.P., George Shafer secretary, and John DeSilva treasurer.  Since

that  time the following members have passed the  chair:   George

Shafer, John J. Reed, F.J. Smith, Thomas Metz and John DeSilva.

 

The  officers  in position November 1st, 1880,  were:   W.P.,

E.C.  Koons; W.A., Rachel Jones; R.S., John A.  Trevethyn;  F.S.,

Alexander McHale; T., Richard Koons; chaplain, W.C. Emory;  cond.

W.M.  Gibson;  assistant cond., Alice Gibson;  I.S.,  Emma  Koon;

O.S., George Case.

 

There are about sixty members.  Meetings are held at  Suffolk

school-house Tuesday evenings.

 

St.  Nicholas Silver Cornet Bank was organized November  5th,

1878, with twenty members, and employed Jacob Brittz, of  Mahanoy

City, as  teacher.  Within a few weeks after organization  J.C.

Neuland was chosen leader, and he still holds the position.  Its officers in 1880  were:John  J. Reed, president; Thomas Metz, secretary;  Enoch  Decker,treasurer;  J.C.  Neuland, leader.  It is well  equipped  and  a credit to the place.

 

PUBLIC SCHOOLS

 

The first public school was taught in 1859.  From data kindly

furnished by the superintendent of schools,  M.J.  Murphy, 

the following  summary  of the condition of the schools  in  1880 is gleaned.

 

There were  at that time in the  township  fourteen  school

buildings; one at Hill's, with one school, containing  fifty-four

scholars;  one at Bowman's, with two schools, containing  in  all

one  hundred  and  fourteen scholars; one at  Suffolk,  with  two

schools,  and ninety-four scholars; one at Myersville,  with  one

school,  and  thirty  scholars; two  at  Yatesville,  with  three

schools  and  one hundred and twenty-four scholars; one  at  Wig-

gan's, with two schools and seventy scholars; one at  Grantville,

two schools and seventh scholars; one at New Boston, two  schools

and  fifty  scholars;  one at Boston Run, with  two  schools  and

sixty-four  scholars; one at St. Nicholas, with two  schools  and

seventy-four scholars; one at Cole's, two schools and  sixty-four

scholars;  one  at Ellangowan, two schools and  one  hundred  and

three scholars;  in all twenty-three schools and  913  scholars.

 

The highest salary paid to teachers was $55 per month; the lowest

$30.   Thirteen male and ten female teachers were employed,  of

whom the greater number received their education in  the  public

schools  of  the county, and seven held  permanent  certificates.

The total monthly pay-roll for teachers' wages amounted to $985.

 

COLLIERIES

 

North  Mahanoy Colliery.-The first development here was  made

by Samuel and E.S. Sillyman as the firm of Samuel Sillyman & Son,

and  this  was the first colliery opened at  Mahanoy  City.   The

first shipment of coal was made in 1861.  The colliery continued

in the hands of the Sillymans until 1869, when E.S. Sillyman sold

it  to Hill, Harris & Rumble, and in 1872 it became the  property

of  the Philadelphia Coal and Iron Company, the  present  owners.

The  original  breaker  was destroyed by fire in  1869,  and  the

present one built by Hill, Harrison & Rumble.  It has a  capacity

of four hundred and fifty tons daily, and about the same  average

production.   The workings consist of a slope about  two  hundred

and  twenty-five yards deep, with gangways driven west about  one

and one-half miles.  Half a mile west of the foot of the slope is

another, driven one hundred yards.

 

Schuylkill Colliery was opened in 1863 by Abraham Focht,  who

commenced shipping coal in the spring of the following year.   In

1865  the works were sold to the firm of Focht, Whitaker  &  Co.,

who  operated  the colliery until 1877, when it passed  into  the

hands of the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company,  who

are  the present operators.  The coal mined previous to 1870  was

taken from the Five-feet and Seven-feet veins, above water level;

but  in that year a shaft fifty-seven feet deep was sunk  to  the

Buck  Mountain vein, from the foot of which a slope 636  feet  in

depth, with four gangways, has been driven.  The vein now  worked

has an average depth of about fourteen feet, with a "dip" west of

about  six  degrees.  The capacity of the breaker is about  five

hundred  tons daily, and the average production is nearly  up  to

its capacity.  Two hundred men and boys are employed.  The power

is supplied by four engines, with a total of 200 horse power.

 

The  Primrose Colliery was first opened in 1861, by Steele  &

Patterson, who operated it until 1866, when Caleb Kneavles  pur-

chased it, and he still operates it.  The original slope was 125 yards, with a pitch of 40 degrees.The distance of the farthest heading from its foot is 900 yards. The veins worked are the Primrose, Mammoth and Skidmore.  A slope was commenced in 1879, and it has been driven to the middle split

of the Mammoth vein, and a tunnel to the Skidmore.  Engines with

a capacity of 310 horse power are in use.  The present breaker

was built  in 1871, and has a capacity of 350 tons  daily.  The

average daily  product is fully up to its capacity.  The total

number of men and boys employed is 150.  James Wynn is  superintendent; William Wynn, outside foreman; William B. Harris, inside

foreman; Frank Reed, shipper.

 

The  Tunnel Ridge Colliery was opened in 1863, by  George  W.

Cole, who built a breaker and commenced shipping coal in  December.   It was operated by him until 1879, when the  Philadelphia

and Reading Coal and Iron Company bought it.  The capacity of the

breaker is nine hundred tons daily.  The average production  is

about  seven  hundred tons.  Six engines, aggregating  270 horse

power, are in use, and 300 men and boys are employed.  The depth

of  the  slope is one hundred and sixty-six yards,  and  gangways

have  been driven fifteen hundred yards each way, east and  west,

from its foot.  The veins worked are the Mammoth and Buck  Mountain.  John L. Shipman is the outside foreman.

 

Glendon  Colliery was opened in 1860, by Abraham  Potts,  who

built  a  small breaker in 1862, and in 1863 sold  it  to  Alfred

Lawton,  who built the present breaker two years  later.   Lawton

sold it to James B. Boylan, who operated it until 1876, when  the

Delano  land Company took possession of it and leased it  to  its

present  operators, J.C. Hayden & Co., which firm is composed  of

J.C. Hayden of Janesville, Pa., and Francis Robinson of New York.

The capacity of the breaker is seven hundred tons daily, and  the

average  production five hundred tons.  The power is supplied by

four  engines,  aggregating  one hundred  and  eighty-five  horse

power.   The veins worked are the Seven-feet, Buck  Mountain and

Skidmore.   The slope is sunk one hundred and  fifty-five  yards,

and  gangways are driven two thousand yards from its  foot.   The

total number of men and boys employed is ninety-five outside  and

one hundred and fifty inside.  There are nine tenement houses on the property.

 

The  New Boston Coal Mining Company opened a drift  and  commenced  operating in 1864.  They erected the breaker, from which

the first shipments were made in 1865,  and continued operations until 1871.

They were  succeeded by  the  Broad Mountain and Lehigh Company,

who  operated  until 1873,  when a reorganization was affected under the name  of  the Middle  Lehigh Company, who remained the owners until 1878,  when the  personal property and lease was purchased by  Joseph  Hitch, who  still controls the colliery.  The breaker has a capacity of

950 tons daily, and employs 425 men and boys.  The depth of the

slope sunk  is 375 feet, with a pitch south of 22  degrees.   The

distance from the foot of the slope to the extreme eastern

heading is one and three-fourths miles, and to the extremity of  the

western headings 1,500 feet.

 

The vein worked is the Buck  Mountain,  with an average depth of fifteen feet.  The  company  have also  driven a tunnel one hundred feet south from the  bottom  ofthe slope to the Skidmore vein, on which a distance of 2,700 feeteast  has been worked.  The engines used are two at the fans,  of20 horse power; one pair of hoisting engines, of 180 horse power;

one  pair of pump engines, of 530 horse power (capacity of  pumps

1,200  gallons per minute), one pair of small pump engines of  45

horse  power (capacity of pumps 300 gallons per minute), and  one

breaker engine of 45 horse power.  Morgan W. Price is the present

superintendent,  John Goyne outside foreman, and  Michael  Murphy

and Henry Kanute inside foremen.

 

The  Coply Colliery was opened by the Bowmans at an early  day

and is one of the oldest workings in the town.  It was purchased

in 1879 by L.F. Lentz.  David Bowman became superintendent, J.L.

Bowman assistant  and outside foreman, William  Davidson  inside

foreman.   The colliery was formerly known as  Lentz,  Bowman  &

Co.'s.   The number of men and boys employed outside is eighty,

and inside one hundred and forty.  Thirty-five mules are worked.

The  average production is 250 tons daily.  The capacity of the

breaker is  1,000  tons.  One pair of 60 horse power  hoisting

engines,  one 80 horse power breaker engine, one dirt  and  plane

engine,  of  15 horse power, and two 12 horse power  fan  engines

supply the  power.  The shaft is one hundred and sixty feet in

depth.   The workings extend half a mile east and the same dis-

tance west.  The original workings were six drifts, now worked

out.   The colliery is still working one drift on the Seven-feet

vein.  The shaft is sunk on Buck Mountain vein, which here aver-

ages  ten feet in depth.  The number of tenement houses  is  fifteen.  The colliery is free from fire damp.

 

West  Lehigh Colliery mine was opened in 1864 by a  man

named  Shoemaker, from Philadelphia, and is usually  known  among

the residents of Mahanoy as the Shoemaker colliery.  He built a

breaker with a capacity of 200 tons daily, and commenced shipping

coal in  1864.  In 1870 he sold to Bedford & Co.   The original

workings were in a drift on the "Seven-feet" vein.  The new firm

sunk  a slope two hundred and fifteen yards, with a pitch  of  45

degrees, on the Buck Mountain vein.  In 1874 Fisher Hazard became

the  owner, and built a new breaker, capable of turning  out  six

hundred  tons daily.  This structure is on the main line of  the

Lehigh Valley road, north of the old one, which stood on the line

of the Mahanoy City branch of that road, and which, when stripped

of its machinery and valuable timbers, was destroyed by fire,  as

the best way of disposing of it.  The average daily production is

four hundred tons.  Ninety-five men and boys are employed  inside

and  twenty-five outside.  The extreme headings are five-eighths

of a mile east and three-eighths west from the foot of the slope.

Thirty-two breasts are being worked, the average thickness of the

vein  being  ten feet.  Four engines, with an aggregate  of  one

hundred and forty horse power, and two steam-pumps of one hundred

and  thirty horse power are in use.  Twenty-fourtenement  houses

are connected with the colliery.

 

Bear Run Colliery was opened in 1863, by George F. Wiggan and

C.H.R. Treibles, who built a small breaker during that years, and

erected  the  present  one in 1871.  It has a  capacity  of  four

hundred  and fifty tons daily, and the average out-put  is  about

three  hundred.  The original slope was one hundred yards  deep,

and  from  it  was worked the top split of the  Mammoth  and  the

Seven-feet veins.  This slope is not worked, but is in a condi-

tion  to  reopen  at any time when the condition  of  trade  will

warrant.  The present slope was sunk two hundred and  twenty-five

yards,  with  a  pitch of 45 degrees, and  workings  extend  west

three-fourths  of  a mile, and east seven hundred yards,  on  the

Mammoth  vein.   There are in use at this colliery  one  pair  of

hoisting  engines of 120 horse power, one breaker engine  of  20,

one fan of 15, and three pumps of 150 each.  The total number  of

men  and  boys employed outside is one hundred  and  twenty-five;

inside,  one  hundred.   The average thickness of  the  vein  now

worked is sixteen feet.

 

The Suffolk Colliery was first opened in 1863 by Pliny  Fisk,

and in February, 1864  sold  by  him to the Suffolk Coal Company,

which built, during  that year, the  present  breaker to take the

place of a small one built by Fisk. The capacity of this  breaker

is 750 tons daily, and the average production 600 tons. One hund-

red and twenty men and boys are  employed outside, and  the same

number inside. The slope is driven 193  yards, at a  pitch  of 20

degrees, and seven gangways are being worked  in the Primrose and

orchard veins. The power used is furnished by one hoisting engine

of  sixty  horse power, one  breaker  engine of fifty, one fan of

forty, one shop fan engine of eighteen, one pump-used for washing

-of forty, and one tank pump engine of eight, with one mine loco-

motive of twenty, besides a slope pump of one hundred  and fifty.

the head of the slope is about eighty yards east of the breaker.

 

The  name by which  the Ellengowan colliery  was

first known was Maple Dale, or more commonly Lanigan's  colliery,

it  having  been opened by James Lanigan, the ordinal  owner  and

operator.   Mr. Lanigan sold his interest to a Mr. Star, of Bos-

ton;  he sold to John C. Scott & Sons, of Philadelphia,  and  the

name was changed to Glenville.  Subsequently it was purchased  by

the  Philadelphia  and Reading Coal and Iron  Company  and  named

Ellangowen colliery.  Under the control of this company, who  are

the present owners and operator has become one of the best equipped

and most productive  collieries  in the anthracite coal region.  It has one of the best  con-

structed  breakers,  with  the latest  improvements  in  hoisting

machinery, and it is producing an average of twelve hundred  tons

of coal daily ready for market, which is its full capacity.  This

colliery requires the labor of two hundred and fifty men and boys

inside  to keep it in successful operation.  It has two  hoisting

engines  for the shaft, of ninety horse power each, and  two  en-

gines for the slope, of thirty horse power each, besides  breaker

and  fan  engines.  It has tow fans to regulate  ventilation,  of

twenty-two  and  sixteen feet diameter respectively.   The  veins

worked  are  the Primrose, about ten feet in thickness,  and  the

Mammoth,  in  three splits, each from twelve to sixteen  feet  in

thickness.   There are about one hundred tenant houses  belonging

to this colliery, and occupied by employes.

 

Knickerbocker  Colliery  was opened in 1864  by

M.P. Fowler and Henry Huhn, and they made their first shipment of

coal  November  23d  of the same year,  having  already  expended

$75,000 in its opening and partial development.  In March, 1865,

they  sold  the colliery to the Knickerbocker  Coal  Company,  of

which  Isaac I. Hayes, of Arctic expedition fame, was  president.

The contract being unfulfilled the colliery was sold January 1st,

1873, to the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company.  Two

hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars had been spent  in  de-

veloping and running the colliery to the time of the last  sale.

Under the management of the present owners and their able foremen

the average daily production is about 450 tons, the full capacity

being  500.   The colliery gives employment to 150 men  and  boys

outside,  and 180 inside.  It has seven engines, with an  average

of forty horse power each, and one six-inch double-acting Griscom

pump  of  six feet stroke.  There are  thirty-two  double  tenant

houses,  in which the employes reside.  The slope is sunk on  the

south dip of the Primrose vein and the tunnel south to the  north

dip.   The  Mammoth  vein is being worked, both  top  and  bottom

splits, which are here divided by about fifty yards of rock.

 

Boston Run Colliery was opened in 1862, by Focht &  Althouse,

which  firm  was afterward changed to Althouse & Brother by  the

retirement of Mr. Focht.  It is owned and operated by the Phila-

delphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company.  The workings consist

of a slope 235 yards deep, with a pitch of 35 degrees, and  gang-

ways on  the Mammoth vein.  The breaker has a  capacity of  six

hundred and fifty tons, and about three hundred and  fifty  tons

are shipped daily.  A saw-mill and car and blacksmith shops  are

on  the premises.  One pair of sixty horse hoisting engines, one

fifty horse breaker, one forty horse fan, a twenty horse  engine

at the sawmill, and a five horse at the blacksmith shop  furnish

the  power.   Eighty-eight men and boys are employed  inside  and

ninety-five  outside.   Thirty-six  tenement houses  are  on  the

property.   The colliery has been carefully managed and but  five

lives  have  been  lost since its opening.  John  Skeath  is  the

inside foreman and J.W. Madenforth the outside foreman.

 

MURDERS

 

In 1796 a log tavern was built, by an old hunter named Reisch,

on the spot where now stands the Mansion House of Mahanoy  City.

August 10th, 1797, two travelers spent the night together at this

lonely hostelry; one a Jew peddler named Faulhover, the other  a

hunter from New Jersey, named Bailey.  The latter on the follow-

ing morning preceded the peddler to a place known as West  House

Run,  lay in ambush for him and shot him through the  heart.   He

then robbed his saddlebags of the gold and silver they contained,

carried the bags, still laden with a quantity of copper coins, to

a  point some distance from the scene of the murder, buried them

and  disappeared.  Passers by buried the unfortunate peddler.   A

small mound marks the spot, which was pointed out for many  years

afterwards.  Bailey was afterwards traced to New Jersey, arrest-

ed,  and  captured, and was executed January 6th,  1798.   August

6th, 1880, a party of five boys playing in a field near Lawton's

Patch picked up a large number of old copper coins, some of them

bearing a date two hundred years ago.  The report of  the discov-

ery spread rapidly, hundreds repaired to the place to search  for

hidden treasure, and intense excitement pretiled until the  story

of  Faulhover's  murder was remembered, and the place  where  the

coin was unearthed was found to correspond with the story of  the

buried saddlebags, which could never be found, although they were

searched for at the time.

 

Another  cowardly  murder was that of Jefferson  F.  Yohe, a

farmer's  boy, living in Columbia county, and aged about  sixteen

years.   On  the 27th of May, 1870, he was shot and robbed  at  a

point near the old colliery on the Ringtown road.   Several arrests were made, but no one was ever convicted of the crime.

 

About three o'clock in the morning of Friday, December 10th,

1875, a party of masked men visited the house of Charles McAllister at Wiggan's Patch and broke in the back door.   McAllister went into the cellar, which was separated from the adjoining house by a board partition only, and, removing a board, went in to the  other house and escaped by the back door.   Mrs. McAllister went toward the kitchen door, and, meeting the ruffians, was shot dead, and left in the doorway where she fell.  The murderers then went up stairs, and, finding Charles O'Donnell, a brother of Mrs. McAllister, took him out and shot him; following him as he  attempted  to escape, to a point some fifty yards from  the  house, where  he fell, riddled with bullets.  James McAllister was also

seized, and  a rope put around his neck; but he managed  to  get

loose from it and escape.  James Blair, a boarder in the house,

was seized,  but on giving his name was released and  warned  to

leave.  So rapidly had these outrages been accomplished that when

the neighbors,  awakened by the firing, reached  the  spot,  the

perpetrators were not to be found.  They have never been discovered.