Organization of the County - Public Buildings - Care of the Poor.



Pages 607 to 612




Page 607



Civil Divisions prior to 1843. - It will not, we think, prove uninteresting to trace the successive divisions of the territory included in Carbon County. In 1752, when Northampton County was organized, the territory north of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and thirty-six miles in width east and west, was known as Towamensing District. Thus it will be seen that this region, of which Carbon County is a part, contained in the middle of the eighteenth century so little of civilization that it did not attain to the dignity of being named as a township. There was little need for the machinery of law and civil government within this district, and it is not known to have had any other officers than a constable. In September, 1768, this great section of the wilderness portion of Pennsylvania was divided into Penn and Towamensing townships, between which the boundary line was the Lehigh River. At this time (1768) Northampton County embraced all that part of the State west of the east line of Berks County (from which Schuylkill was in part formed) to the Susquehanna River, and all east of that stream to the eastern and northern boundaries of the State 1.  

Penn township embraced in this division all of the lands north of the Blue Ridge and west of the Lehigh River. In 1808 this township was divided into East Penn, West Penn, and Lausanne townships, of which West Penn went to form a portion of Schuylkill County when it was erected in 1811. The territory now constituting Carbon county was thus, in 1808, composed of East Penn and Lausanne on the west side of the river, and Towamensing on the east. 


The northern part of Towamensing was cut off and made a separate township, named Tobyhanna, which, upon the erection of Monroe County, formed a part of it. That portion of this township lying between the Lehigh River and Tobyhanna Creek, in 1842, was set off as Penn Forest township, which in 1843, was detached from Monroe to become a part of the new county of Carbon.

The township of Mauch Chunk was taken chiefly from East Penn in 1827, a narrow strip of territory also being added from Lausanne.

Towamensing was divided into two townships in 1841, the southern division receiving the name of Lower Towamensing, while the northern retained the original appellation.

In 1842 Banks township was formed from a portion of Lausanne, and Mahoning from East Penn.

In 1843, when the county was organized, it embraced East Penn, Mauch Chunk, Banks, and Lausanne west of the Lehigh, and Lower Towamensing, Towamensing, and Penn Forest east of the river. Since the county was organized the townships set off have been Packer, in 1847, and Lehigh,
 in 1875, from Lausanne; Kidder, in 1849, from Penn Forest; and Franklin, in 1851, from Towamensing.


Erection and Organization of Carbon county. - Lehigh County had been set off from Northampton in 1812, and influenced doubtless by that act, the people in the more northern portion of the valley began to agitate the project of forming another new county as soon as the close of the war of 1812 had allowed their thoughts to subside from military to civil affairs. In the diary of Isaac A. Chapman, who was in this region during the second war with Great Britain (and is spoken of at length in the chapter on Mauch Chunk Borough), under date of Jan. 24, 1816, occurs this entry:


“In the afternoon rode to Lehighton to attend a meeting for considering a new county.”


This only proves that some, at least, of the people were early awake to the desirability of forming a new county, and implies that Lehighton was then, as ever since, ambitious of becoming a seat of justice. The project was soon dropped, as were several others entered upon at different periods. 

Following we present three petitions 2 to the Assembly (numbered 1, 2, and 3), which show that, as is usually the case where similar measures are proposed, there was considerable diversity of opinion as to how the division should be made, some contending for one line, or combination of lines, and some for another:




1 The great county of Northampton, as above outlined, was lessened by the establishment of Northumberland County in 1772, and the latter was in turn decreased in size by the erection of Luzerne in 1786, and of Schuylkill in 1811. [Return]


2 Petition No. 1 refers to others which had preceded it, but nothing is now known of them, and it is doubtful if any copies are in existence. [Return]





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“To the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:
“The Petition of the Subscribers, Inhabitants of Toamensin and the western part of Chestnut Hill and Ross Townships, in Northampton County, north of the Blue Mountain, respectfully represents, -
“That the great distance of this portion of the County from the seat of justice at Easton occasions much expense and great inconvenience to your Petitioners, and this expense and inconvenience is becoming more expensive with the increase of Population, business, and improvements north of the blue mountains.
“These disadvantages have heretofore been represented to your Hon. Body, and a division of the county so as to remove them has been petitioned for. Your petitioners now trust that these repeated prayers will induce your Hon. Body to enact a Law that shall divide this county in such a manner as to give to your petitioners the reasonable accommodation of a Seat of Justice north of the mountains. And your Petitioners beg leave most respectfully to propose that the line of such division should begin at the corner of Schuylkill and Northampton county on the top of the Blue Mountains; thence along the dividing line of said Counties to where it strikes the Northumberland County line; thence along the said line to where it joins the Luzerne County line; thence up the Lehi to the mouth of Tobyhanna; thence to Muddy Run so as to take in the saw-mill erected thereon; thence (on a line that shall include the western half of Chestnut Hill and Ross townships) to where the road through Smith’s Gap in the Blue Mountain strikes the line of Moore township; thence along the summit of the Blue Mountains to the place of beginning. And your petitioners further pray that the seat of justice for the proposed new County be established at Lehiton, the place where the elections for East Penn township are held, which place is for various reasons the most convenient and suitable, and where the County buildings will be erected on the public square in said Town by the voluntary contribution.

 “And your Petitioners will ever pray.


 George Olwine                       Nicholas Berger
 Adam Brown                          Jost Driesbach
 George Olwine, Jr.                 Peter George
 George Greensweig                Anthony Lowyer
 John Greensweig                    Peter Korr
 Nicholas Snyder                     Edward Murray
 John Boyer                             Henry Burger
 Jacob Snyder                          Heinrich Sillfuss
 Henry Blose                           Jacob Sillfuss
 Henry Boyer                          Heinrich Clinetob
 Andreas Ziegenfuss                Andrew T. Boyer
 George Boyer                         Jonathan Greensweig
 John Golt                                Linnert Strohl
 Paul Golt                                John Strohl
 Peter Blose                             Samuel Bahler
 Jonathan Heller                      John Hasleman
 David Greensweig, Jr.            Isaac Hasleman
 M. G. Christman                    Conrad Hasleman
 Peter Lerfass                          John Balliet
 Nicholas George                    Samuel Kline
 Jacob Heath                            John Ziegerfuss
 John Beltz                               Michael Olewine
 Christopher Correll                Jacob Snyder
 John Smith                              John Kuntz
 David Smith                           Daniel Schneider
 John Zees                               Peter Snyder
 Samuel Richardson                Barnhart Bauman
 Jacob Smith                            George Kelchner
 John Smith, Jr.                        John Kurn
 Nicholas Smith                       John Kelchner
 Simon Engbert                       Henry Bauman
 Adam Engbert                        John Bauman
 Conrad Clinetob                     David Stroup
 David Christman                    Nicholas Blose
 George Clinetob                     Henry Blose
 Joseph Groble                        John Boyer
 George Frever                        Jacob Hasleman
 Joseph Frever                         Jacob Arner
 David Brutzman                     John Arner
 Philip Frantz                           John Driesbach
 David Swartz                          Charles D. Bowman, Jr.
 Samuel Golt                           John Closs
 Daniel Golt                             John Harkins
 John Golt                                Thomas Vorly
 Jost Driesbach                        Jacob Fisher
 Jacob Golt                              John Ruddles
 George Olewine                     William Pryor
 Jacob Yundt                            Lewis Erke
 Wilhelm Remely                    Jacob Swenk
 Frederick Scheckler               Christian Houpt
 John J. Beltz                            Philip Daubenstein
 Daniel Closs                           Jacob Schwab”





“To the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in General Assembly met:
“The Petition of the Subscribers, Inhabitants of the County of Northampton,

“Respectfully sheweth, That as a division of the County of Northampton has for some time been contemplated, which probably will ere long be effected, and as various plans have been proposed, we take the liberty to recommend the following limits as the most convenient and suitable, in case a division takes place, to your consideration, namely: to commence at the southwesterly corner of Linn township, where it adjoins Berks County line; thence almost in a northeasterly direction to the road passing through the Wind Gap, to include said Linn, with Heidelberg, part of Lehigh, and a part of Moore township; thence to the blue mountain; thence along the line between Chestnut Hill and Plainfield township to the road in said Gap; thence along the road lately turnpiked, leading to Wilkesbarre, to where it intersects the
Luzerne County line; thence along said Luzerne County line to the corner of Northumberland County line; thence along said line to the corner of Berks County line; thence along Berks County line to the place of beginning.

“Thus divided, we conceive will, almost in every respect, be far more convenient and benefical to the county at large, especially by having the seat of justice north of the Blue Mountain and near the river Lehigh, so as to command the practicable boat and raft navigation thereof, as well as the trade and intercourse of the Susquehannah settlements, by means of the lately-made turnpike from the Susquehannah to the Lehigh, which will likewise be still further extended to Tioga point, being already in great forwardness. Many other advantages will be derived by the aforesaid division, such as
 the procuring of lumber for buildings, &c., which can be done much cheaper than south of the mountain.
 “And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.”





“To the Senate and house of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in General Assembly met:
“The petition of the Subscribers, Inhabitants of the Township north of the blue mountains, in the county of Northampton, Respectfully sheweth, -

“That from the repeated application for a division of Northampton County having been made for several sessions, made and to say countenanced as just and equitable, we are again encouraged to apply therefor. Two distinct divisions were proposed, which may be designated by a western and northern. The latter, if we are correctly informed, was, at the last session, as the most suitable manner to divide the county. Therefore we most earnestly solicit that the subject may again be taken into consideration. As the chief objections to the northern division arose from (only but a few of) the Inhabitants of Linn and Heidelberg Townships, who were alarmed at the Expense that would accrue as held forth to them in the formation of a new county, as well as the Idea of having to cross the mountain in case the Seat of Justice should be fixed there, we propose the mountain to be the southern line as far as opposite to the main forks of Aquanschicola Creek; thence a northeasterly direction (so as to accommodate the Inhabitants) to Wayne County line; and then of the East, North, and West boundaries, those of the adjoining counties. Thus divided, we are of an opinion will meet with general approbation, especially as the Inconvenience we labor under will be remedied, as well as be the means of promoting the Improvement of the Country, to encourage which we are sensible are the sentiments of the Legislature. It unquestionably will make as respectable and as wealthy a County as several heretofore and of late formed within the State. To enlarge
upon the subject we deem as present unnecessary, …




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                                                                               … being, in our opinion, well known to you. Therefore, relying in your wisdom, we, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.


“John Pryor                             Robert McMinn
 John Hagenbuch                     Matthias Gangwere
 John Klotz                               Andrew Gangwere
 Peter Heller                            Abraham Klotz
 Michael Harter                       John Horn
 John Kuntz                              John Totten
 John Roth                               Samuel Rainsmith
 Jacob Kister, Jr.                      Daniel Flexer
 John Fuhr                               John Lintz
 John D. Bauman                    Daniel Ebert
 Peter Snider                            Bernard Rath
 Nicholas Brink                       John Heller
 Daniel Beck                           George Fritz
 Jacob Beck                             Henry Notestein
 Jacob Hartz                            Jesse Ziegenfuss
 Jacob Fister                            John Fuhr
 Nicholas Hawk                       Abraham Miller
 Isaac Harleman                      William Andreas
 David Harleman                    George Andreas
 Solomon Gordon                   Adam Wieder
 Peter Bobst                             Andreas Bush.”

The plan finally carried into effect was nearly, if not quite, identical with that proposed in petition No. 2, the suggestion contained in No. 3 regarding the making of the Blue Mountains the southern line of the new county being acted upon.  The act of Assembly decreeing the long-desired establishment of the county was passed March 13, 1843. Its important clause, which prescribed the boundaries of Carbon County, was a follows:

“Be it enacted, . . . That all those parts of the counties of Northampton and Monroe, lying within the following bounds, viz.:

“Beginning at the northwest corner of Northampton County; thence southwardly along the said county line till it intersects the northern line of Lehigh County; thence eastwardly along the top of the Blue Mountain to the southwest corner of Monroe County; thence northwardly along the Monroe County line, and continue the same point of compass in a direct line through Tobyhanna township, in Monroe County, to such point as may strike the Luzerne County line; thence westwardly along the Luzerne County line to the place of beginning, shall be, and the same is, according to the foregoing lines, declared to be erected into a separate county, to be called carbon: Provided, That the territory taken from Monroe County shall only embrace the township of Penn Forest, and that the said township of Penn Forest shall constitute the whole of the territory taken from Monroe County by the provisions of this act.”


There was considerable joy manifested over the birth of the new county among the friends of the project at Harrisburg, and, as is customary at the christening of ships when they are launched, a bottle of wine was broken, and many were drank. The Daily Chronicle of Harrisburg contained the following allusion to the merry-making:


“In the afternoon of March 16, according to custom, the friends of a new county, called Carbon, which has just been erected by the Legislature out of parts of Northampton and Monroe, give a jollification on champagne and other etceteras, just after dinner today, in commemoration of the happy event, to which, in consideration of their distinguished services in the premises, several members of the Legislature were invited. Now, it happened, when the House met in the afternoon, the first business to be attended to was the creation of another new county (Blair), and the short distance between Mr. Prince’s, where the celebration of ‘Carbon’ was held, and the capitol, where ‘Blair’ was being made, together with other circumstances, so operated on the minds of some gentlemen, who attended both, that when the latter was attending to they became confused, and thought they were celebrating the former. Half a dozen gentlemen were on the floor at the same time delivering their sentiments in sparkling glee. There was no holding them in their seats. Their ideas seemed to flow and their wits to sparkle so vehemently that to contain themselves was altogether impracticable.”


The commissioners appointed to form Carbon County were Charles W. Huggins, of Northumberland; William J. B. Andrus, of Clearfield; and John b. Brodhead, of Pike; and the trustees assigned by the Governor to the delicate duty of choosing the seat of justice were John D. Bowman, Thomas Weiss, John Fatzinger, Abram Shertz, and Samuel Wolf.  The latter concluded their deliberations on Monday, June 19, by selecting the town of Mauch Chunk as the most suitable place for the county-seat, the citizens agreeing to provide the public buildings at their own expense. Immediately after the announcement of the decision cannon were fired, and the people of Mauch Chunk held an informal but enthusiastic jollification.

 While the agitation of the county division and county-seat location was going on, a business man of Mauch Chunk, now living, was in Easton, and one day was asked in the presence of several gentlemen who were opposed to the setting off of Carbon, “When you get your own county, and have the seat of justice located at Mauch Chunk, where will you build the addition to your village which the natural growth will require?” Without a moment’s hesitation he replied, “Oh, we’ll dig down one story and build up two.” This was precisely the manner in which most of the building since 1843 has been accomplished, and in addition a few houses have been hung up on the sides of the mountains.  After the fire of 1849 had destroyed the public buildings, Lehighton, which had been as we have shown, an early aspirant for the county-seat location, made a strong endeavor to secure a removal from Mauch Chunk, and in still later years renewed the endeavor. At neither time was her prospect for success very assuring, and her citizens soon abandoned the struggle.

 The Public Buildings. - As an inducement to the …




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                                                                                    … location of the county-seat at Mauch Chunk, the people and the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company agreed to provide suitable buildings for a court house and jail at their own expense. The old stone store building of the company, on the ground where the present court-house stands, served the first of these purposes, and a small structure in the rear was converted into a jail. The buildings and the ground upon which they stood were donated by the company, but not formally deeded to the county until 1846. On the 1st of July the company met and agreed to convey the lots to the county of Carbon, “for the purpose of affording suitable accommodations for the holding and continuance of the seat of justice at Mauch Chunk, and for no other purpose.” The deed, signed by Josiah White, Caleb Cope, and James Cox for the company, was dated July 23, 1846. There had been some delay on the part of the donors, and this action was brought about or hastened by the report of the grand inquest in March, 1845, which had urged the importance of speedily securing a perfect title, and suggested the propriety of securing suitable buildings elsewhere if such title was not given.


That the so-called jail was hardly adequate appears from the report of the grand jury to the Court of Quarter sessions, at its first term, in December, 1843. They said, “The jail of the county may answer for the present for the safe-keeping of prisoners, but we recommend that a yard be immediately enclosed by a stone wall, of sufficient height and strength to prevent any assistance to the prisoners from without.”

The buildings donated by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company were to be fitted up to serve their new purpose by the citizens of Mauch Chunk, and it appears that there was considerable delay on their part in carrying out the work that was thought necessary. In their report to the judges, on March 26, 1845, the grand jury said, “We feel it our duty to call the attention of the court to the fact that as yet no provision has been made for the security from fire of the books and papers belonging to the county, and to express the hope that the commissioners will, at as early a period as practicable, take the necessary measures for providing the county with a fire-safe.” This had not been provided the following year, and in 1847 it was still lacking, while the suggestion made in 1843, for the building of a stone wall around the jail, had not been carried out. It was, perhaps, as well that no great improvements were made upon the buildings, for they were burned in the disastrous fire of July 15, 1849. As it occurred in the daytime, the records and books were saved.


The first session of the court after the fire was held in August.  The grand jury then made the following report:


“The grand jury, at August Sessions now holding at Mauch Chunk, in and for the county of Carbon, in view of the subject presented to them by the court for deliberation, and of their knowledge moving them, they would respectfully represent to the court that they have visited and examined the offices where the public records are now kept, which offices are in a frame building, they therefore deem them very insecure in case of fire. They have also examined the county buildings that were in a great measure destroyed by the recent conflagration, and are of opinion that the walls now standing are totally unfit for use, with the exception of the jail-yard wall. They would therefore recommend that an alteration be made in the construction of the buildings; that, in order that the records and papers may be secure, they recommend that fire-proof offices be erected on the rear of the lot, and to front on Susquehanna Street, and also that a jail be erected on the rear of the lot, back of the offices, and to connect with them, with a dwelling-house for the sheriff attached, the building to connect with the jail-yard. The jail-yard to remain as it
is, with this exception, that the back and end walls of the present jail be removed, which will increase the size of the jail-yard. They also recommend that the court-house be set back from Broadway ten or twelve feet from its present location. All of which they especially recommend to be put under contract immediately, and as the county is suffering severely for want of a jail, they would recommend that the jail be first erected, and with the least possible delay, the buildings to be constructed with a view to the increase of population, and of such materials as the commissioners of the county shall deem most suitable for the several purposes o their erection.”

 Steps were immediately taken to rebuild the court-house, county offices, and jail on the ground occupied by those which were destroyed. The progress of the work is indicated by the following
 report, made April 17, 1850:

“To the Honorable Court: The grand jury would respectfully report that they have examined the county offices and jail, and are much gratified to find that the buildings have been put up in so substantial a manner; the records of the county they think perfectly secure from fire, as the offices are, in their opinion, fire-proof. The jail is constructed with a view to convenience, comfort, and security of prisoners; much credit is due the commissioners, both for the plan of the buildings as well as for the energy with which they forwarded their completion. The cells of the jail are of good size, and are kept in good order. The persons who have contracted to build the court-house are at work putting in the foundation, and from the character which they, as well as the commissioners, sustain for energy and perseverance, we feel warranted in anticipating an early completion.”


The foundations of the new court-house were ready to receive the brick superstructure in June, 1850. In may, 1852, when the building was nearly completed, the grand inquest in their report to the judges recommended that the walls should be raised five feet higher than the original plan had contemplated. The build –…






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                                 ing was completed the following year, and has stood without material change or improvement to the present.


The grand jury examining the new jail in March, 1853, reported that they had found it “not safe for the retention of prisoners, and for better security” they suggested “the building of an additional wall outside the western wall, to be three feet in thickness at the bottom and two and one-half feet at the top.”

This jail was found a dozen years after it was built to be inadequate for the purpose designed. In 1864, and the following year, the project of building a new one was agitated, and the county commissioners negotiated for the purchase of several lots on Broadway as a site for the proposed structure. Their action was vigorously opposed by the grand jury, which reported to the court at its January session (1865):


“That they have learned with regret that the county commissioners have either purchased or contracted for the purchase of four lots on Broadway Street, in the borough of Mauch Chunk, with the intention to locate and build thereon a new county jail; that they unitedly protest against the said purchase, location, and removal of the jail, in view of the fact that the county owns the rear part of the lot upon whose front the Mauch Chunk Bank building is situated, and which rear parcel
of lot is contiguous and adjoining the present jail inclosure; and we protest the more strenuously against such action by the commissioners because the county has been lately, and is at present greatly burdened with extraordinary taxation; and we recommend that the commissioners
suspend any further outlays in reference to such removal, and that they make no more outlays at present than are absolutely necessary upon the present jail or the county offices to keep them in safe or good order.”


In consequence of this opposition, and in deference to the feeling of the people in general, who considered themselves burdened with taxes, the project was abandoned for the time being, and not revived until late in 1868. On Feb. 17, 1869, the commissioners bought of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company lots Nos. 90, 92, 94, 96, and 98 on the north side of Broadway (a part of the Robert Brown tract) as a site for the new jail. A proposition was made by Charles Mendron and Henry Bowman, early in 1969, to build the jail for sixty-six thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars. This proposition was accepted, and a contract made May 18th. Mendron withdrew on the last of August following, and Bowman later. The latter then carried on the work, on a salary until Feb. 1, 1871, when he made a second contract to complete it for twenty-five thousand five hundred dollars. The payment to the time of making this contract was over one hundred and two thousand dollars, so that the entire cost of the building exceeded one hundred and twenty-seven thousand dollars. The architect of the substantial stone structure which holds secure the captured criminals of the county was Edward Haviland.

Measures for the Care of the Poor. - Of all the legislation of the commonwealth, none has been more creditable in design than that enacted from time to time for the relief and support of the poor. The poor of the county were taken care of by the individual townships until 1855, when, upon April 26th, an act was passed incorporating the directors of the poor and the House of Employment of Carbon County. This law was left to the acceptance or rejection of the people, to be expressed by their votes, and as the plan to be brought into vogue by its adoption would increase their taxation, the people in a number of the voting districts rejected it. It was on Oct 9, 1855, that the people went to the polls to vote for or against the establishment of a poor-house. There were majorities for in Mauch Chunk borough, East Mauch Chunk borough, Banks and Lausanne townships, and majorities
against the new measure in all of the other townships. The people of the latter continued to care for their poor in the old method, while those of the boroughs and townships accepting the new law took
measures for carrying out its provisions. On the 20th of October the commissioners named in the act of Assembly, and living in the accepting districts, met at the court-house in Mauch Chunk and
resolved to receive proposals for a suitable farm or tract of land to serve as a site for the proposed poor-house. Upon the 15th of the following November they again met, considered several proposals which had been received, and adjourned to visit the localities offered. In December following, having examined all of them, they took their relative merits into consideration, and after rejecting several proposals, decided on accepting the farm of D. J. Labar, 100 acres, at $1900; the farm of Jacob Cole, 106 acres, at $1800; and the farm of John Toomey, 109 acres, at $1400. Making a total of 315 aces in what is now Lehigh township for the sum of $5100. To this land a small addition, about fifteen acres, purchased from George Stettler, was made ten years later.

Upon Nov. 13, 1855, R. D. Stiles, J. H. Chapman, and George Kline were elected as the first poor directors, and upon the 23rd of December following they appointed Jesse K. Pryor steward, and his wife as matron. The went to the farm in February following.  An estimate was made of the amount required for the farm and house, and it was set at $23,300.  A tax was levied, and $11,201.40 collected.  On Nov. 26, 1856, a plan for the proposed house, which had been prepared by J. H. Chapman, was accepted, and the directors advertised for proposals for the building. A temporary building was completed in April, and a few paupers were immediately admitted to it. On May 31,
1856, the proposal of Jacob D. Arner to build the house according to specifications for $9900 was accepted. The first annual statement showed that the …



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                                                                                                       … directors had received $9809.82, and expended $8273.16, leaving a balance on hand of $1536.66, and that the number of paupers in the temporary quarters which had been provided was fifty-four. They were transferred Aug. 1, 1857, to the new building, which was completed at the date. In November following David Petrey and wife were appointed respectively steward and matron, which positions they still hold. The new house answered well the purpose for which it was built, and the condition of the refuge for the poor was maintained at a good standing. The directors were not hampered for want of funds, for in 1861 they had a balance on hand of $2656.50. The number of inmates of the institution was at a given time in that year ninety-nine, of whom sixty were males and thirty-nine females. 


In 1862 it was proposed to unite a portion of the Luzerne County poor districts which had accepted the law of 1855 with the similar districts of Carbon County. On March 8th the directors from the two counties met at the Carbon Poor-house to consider the proposed union.   The result of this meeting was the drawing up of a bill establishing a plan for the proposed co-operation, which was placed in the hands of a committee of two (one director from each county), instructed to proceed to Harrisburg and secure its passage by the Legislature. It was passed March 25th as an act to organize “the Middle Coal Field Poor District.” This district embraced the townships of Banks, Lausanne, and Mauch Chunk, and the boroughs of Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk, in Carbon County, and now includes also the boroughs of Lansford and Weatherly and Lehigh township, added as they were organized. The divisions of Luzerne County originally embraced in the district were the townships of Hazel and Foster and the borough of Hazelton, and there have been added since, upon their establishment, the boroughs of Freeland and Jeddo.

The poor district of Luzerne County had only been organized by act of May 1, 1861, less than a year before the union with Carbon County was effected. The commissioners appointed were Joseph Greenawalt, of Hazelton, Ralph Tozer of Hazel township, and Richard Sharp, of Forest township. Their successors, a board of directors elected in October, made the proposition to unite with the Carbon County districts before they had made any definite arrangements for building a poor-house.
Arrangements were made adjusting the property proportionally when the Middle Coal Field Poor District was formed, and the districts of Luzerne County paid to the Carbon County authorities four thousand five hundred dollars, when they became the joint beneficiaries with them of the house and farm. An addition, forty by forty feet square, and two stories in height, was erected at the west end of the poor-house. In the fall of 1869, it having become obvious that a hospital was necessary, steps were taken toward establishing one. A committee was appointed to visit hospitals in several counties of the State, to obtain ideas as to the best plan for building one. A draft embodying the most valuable details was drawn up, and on April 4, 1870, was adopted. Work was immediately commenced in preparation for the foundations, and proposals for building were advertised for, the
result of which was that the directors entered into contract with John Fiddler in the sum of fourteen thousand nine hundred and fifty dollars for erecting a three-story structure with Mansard roof, and forty by eighty feet in dimensions. This building was completed in the spring of 1871. The barn upon the poor farm was destroyed by fire on the night of May 10, 1880, and was replaced by a fine structure soon after, at a cost of six thousand dollars. The buildings of the Middle Coal Field Poor District are commodious and well arranged, are heated by steam, and lighted by gas throughout, and are kept in excellent condition. The total receipts during the year 1882 were $25,924.10, and the expenditures $21,657.23, of which $16,599.64 was the cost of maintenance for the year. The whole number of inmates during the year was 314, and the total number of days’ support given them was 65,609, the average daily number of inmates being nearly 180. The produce of the farm for 1882
was 150 tons of hay, 957 bushels rye, 136 bushels wheat, 400 bushels corn, 808 bushels oats, 137 bushels buckwheat, 1800 bushels potatoes, 100 bushels beets, 150 bushels turnips, 300 bushels mangel-wurzels, 2500 heads cabbage, 1800 pounds butter. There were raised and slaughtered 4890 pounds of pork and 3700 pounds of beef. The stock on farm Dec. 31, 1882, was 9 horses, 24 cows, 32 calves, 13 yearlings, 2 bulls, 21 shoats, 24 pigs, 8 hogs, and 300 fowls.

The present directors are H. B. Conahan, P. J. Boyle, and Henry Beineman.
















The History of the Counties of Lehigh & Carbon, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,


Alfred Mathews & Austin N. Hungerford

Published in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1884


Transcribed from the original in June 2004


Shirley Kuntz



Proofing &

web page by

Jack Sterling

July 2004