Friday, April 20, 2012

The Justice Bell Tour

     On August 18, 1920 the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, granting women the right to vote. The amendment stated “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”  On June 24, 1919 Pennsylvania congress voted to ratify the amendment becoming the 8th state to do so.
     Four years earlier Amendment #1, a women's suffrage referendum, was presented on the November 1915 ballot for approval from the men of Pennsylvania. By this time thirty states of the US had already voted for at least partial rights for women’s suffrage. The Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association kicked off a statewide campaign to convince the male voters to vote for the amendment. The “Justice Bell”, an exact bronze replica of the liberty bell was cast with the words "Establish Justice" in the inscription. The 2000-pound bell required a special truck to transport it. At a cost of $2,000., the bell was a gift from Katherine Wentworth Ruschenberger of Strafford, PA. The clapper was muted by chains with the idea that the bell would not ring until women were granted the right to vote.
     The bell began its 5,000-mile tour of the state of Pennsylvania in Bradford County in May of 1915 then continued on through the rest of the 66 counties. It zigzagged through the state ending in Philadelphia in time for the November election. The bell was escorted by a group of speakers and campaign props. Popular items in demand by local suffragettes were “votes for women” fans, buttons, paper napkins, pennants, note-paper, drinking cups, lanterns, flowers, lead pencils, candy, and children's toys. Yellow was the color adopted by the Association and could be seen displayed prominently at the rallies. The bell arrived in Bethlehem on August 29, 1915.
     In addition to the Justice Bell tour the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association organized open-air speeches from automobiles and county fair booths as well as booking halls for their speakers. Bethlehem turned out in record numbers to hear Dr. Anna Shaw speak at the Broad Theater on October 3, 1915.  Dr. Shaw was the first woman ordained by the Methodist Protestant Church. As a minister, she would not perform a marriage ceremony in which the word "obey" would be used. Dr. Shaw noted that none of the marriage ceremonies she officiated ended in divorce. She was national superintendent of franchise of the Women's Christian Temperance Union and president of the National Woman's Suffrage Association. Of her speech in Bethlehem, she was quoted in the October 4, 1915 edition of the Globe Times as stating, “Being human beings women have the qualities that belong to humanity and having them, should have the right of exercising them.”  She went on to say, “A republic is a form of government conducted by representatives of the people. You never read a definition of a republic which granted the right of one half of the people to vote and elect representatives to govern the other half.” Those who attended roundly applauded Dr. Shaw’s speech.

Celebrating ratification of the women's suffrage amendment, Alice Paul, seated second from left, sews the 36th star on a banner, in August of 1920.  The banner flew in front of headquarters of the Women's Party in Washington of which Miss Paul was national chairperson.  The 36th star represented Tennessee, whose ratification completed the number of states needed to put the amendment in the Constitution.  (AP Photo)
     A local suffrage leader, who attended Dr. Shaw’s speech, was Ruth Frick, the great granddaughter of Asa Packer, great-granddaughter of Robert H. Sayre and daughter of Robert P. Linderman. She was the Lehigh County chairman of the Woman Suffrage Party. Frick offered her car for open-air speeches by several visiting women’s suffrage dignitaries. Frick and others went on to form the Allentown Women’s Club.
     On November 2, 1915 Amendment #1 was soundly defeated in Pennsylvania. The 50,000 votes against the referendum were significantly represented in Berks, Lebanon and Lehigh counties. It was widely known that a majority of Pennsylvania German men were against the amendment because various temperance organizations supported the amendment.
     The women’s suffrage campaign turned its focus on a constitutional amendment with support from President Wilson. The House of Representatives and the Senate passed the amendment. When Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment on August 18, 1920, the amendment passed its final hurdle of obtaining the agreement of three-fourths of the states and became law.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Old Videos of the Lehigh Valley

Follow these links to go back in time to see old footage of the Lehigh Valley.

Short vintage film clip shows life in 1950's Lehigh Valley Pennsylvania. Features Bethlehem Steel, Hess's department stores.

This adorable story of 'Pip The Mouse' has been around since 1962. One of only two sets made by Creegan Company of Steubenville Ohio, I believe the only one in operation. Outstanding puppeteer performance, original soundtrack. Can be found at Liberty Bell Museum, Allentown, PA. Original owner Max Hess, read the history of how this puppet became an icon.

1950's circa. The Fairgrounds Hotel in Allentown, PA during the 1950's. An italian wedding reception. Backyard scenes during Easter from a farm in nearby Orefield PA.

Relive the bygone era of one of the great landmarks in eastern PA, Hess Department Store by PBS 39.

Check out America's oldest football rivalry as PBS 39 showcases possibly the best known football game in college football, the Lehigh -- Lafayette football game.

Final voicemail left for managers by an Ames VIP the day before the store closed forever. Someone made a video to it.

1914 Trolley from Philadelphia to Allentown

Preview of new (2010) video produced for the Rockhill Trolley Museum from the 1947-1949 films of Gerhard Salomon. This presentation features the Lehigh Valley Transit Company's Easton Line from Allentown to Easton via Bethlehem. Visit for ordering information.

Video slideshow of Allentown and Bethlehem Steel set to Billy Joel's Allentown. Long Live Bethlehem Steel; Hail Steel!

Bill McLane "Railroad Memories"
Bill McLane is interviewed by Max Carroll of WNCY-24's Unique New York on February 14, 2000. Bill shares memories of working on the Lehigh Valley Railroad and shows rare 8mm footage he filmed.

A film about the state of Pennsylvania in the 1950s. To license footage from this subject, go to:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Lehigh Hook and Ladder Company

The Grand Opera House and the Union Hall on 4th Street burned to ground in the middle of the night of October 7. 1884. The cause of the fire was never determined. There was no Hook and Ladder apparatus available in South Bethlehem at the time of the fire. The residents of the South Side decided it was time to remedy this problem and organized the Lehigh Hook and Ladder Company on November 24, 1884. They were ready for fire emergencies by December 10, 1884, when they acquired a hand-drawn hook and ladder truck. Temporarily the fire equipment was stored at the stable of H.C. Bachmans First Ward Hotel and then it was moved briefly to Lewis Levy’s store, on Broadway. Finally Bethlehem Borough council built the fire company a permanent fire hall at 217 Broadway in 1885. They remained at that location until the city phased out the company in the early 1970s.

The good citizens who formed the Lehigh Hook and Ladder Company were R.H. Sayre, Jr., President; William H. Rudolph, Vice-president; Milton S. Grim, Secretary; W.A. Wilbur, Treasurer; Frank Wynkoop, Fire Recorder; Milton H. Miller, Frank O. Lear and George O. Weaver, Trustees; Morris H. Schaffer, Foreman; William F. Anderson, Assistant Foreman; Charles H. Groman and Tillermen; Clinton H. Weiss.

The equipment known as a hook was a steel crook at the end of a wooden handle, six to twenty feet long. It was used to rip down ceilings to reach fire areas and to pull down burning structures. Hooks were also used to pull down houses the flames had not yet reached in order to create a fire-break.

In August of 1886, the Company received a horse-drawn hook and ladder wagon. Twelve leather water buckets hung from the bottom of the wagon. On November 5, 1895 Council supplied a new horse-drawn 75-foot Hayes Aerial Extension Ladder Truck. This truck had an aerial ladder that could extend as much as 85 feet in height. Four to six men could fully raise the telescopic ladder in less than 40 seconds by turning a crank. The aerial was mounted on a turntable, so the ladder could be swung around to the desired direction. It seemed that whoever could supply the horses became the driver. L.J. Bachman was the first driver who furnished two horses then Lewis Felker became the driver as he provided three horses. Typically, when a horse drawn wagon or truck reached the fire, the firemen released the horses to get them out of harms way. It was the firehouse dog’s responsibility to guide the horses to a safe place to wait until the fire was out.

The South Bethlehem community showed their support in various ways for the brave men of the Lehigh Hook and Ladder Company. In 1887, the Bethlehem Iron Company presented the Company with a safe. Johnson A. Yerkes, a local artist and member of the Company donated his painting of the burning of the coke works to the firehouse, which he had painted in 1855. The 1854 destruction of the coke works may have been the first recorded fire in South Bethlehem. The painting was displayed in the fire hall until the Company was dissolved. The Kemerer Museum, at 427 N. New Street has the painting in their collection, along with a helmet, badges, and an elaborate 4-by-6-foot wooden frame that holds 54 photographs of members of the Lehigh Hook and Ladder Company in 1887.

In 1891 the borough installed a Gamewell Fire Alarm System. It utilized the South Bethlehem telegraph system to pinpoint the location of a fire alarm. Alarm stations were set up through out South Bethlehem, which could trigger a 2075-pound bell that was hung in the tower of the Liberty Company’s fire hall on Vine Street. The Borough also maintained a supplementary alarm of a large whistle located at the South Bethlehem Brewery. Gamewell still manufactures fire alarm systems today but with more sophisticated technology such as fiber-optic cable.

In 2004 the South Bethlehem Historic Commission approved plans presented by George Kline for the renovation of the old Lehigh Hook & Ladder Company’s 2-½ story building. Kline owned the old fire hall that his company, Bethlehem Sporting Goods, used as a warehouse. With this approval, Kline cleaned and repointed the bricks, restored the windows, replaced the roof and recreated the old fire hall doors. Kline received a $30,000 BEAR grant (Blight Elimination and Abatement Response) and a $60,000 facade loan from the city of Bethlehem to complete the work on the 8,000-square-foot building. Kline did such a fine job at restoring the old fire hall that as you pass the building you expect the bell to ring and the doors to swing open for a horse powered hook and ladder wagon to exit the building. You look for fire fighters with axes and bullhorn-like trumpets all wearing wool Civil War-style uniforms with red wool shirts, rubber slickers, leather helmets and knee-high leather boots. The building is now the site of The Firehouse, a bar and restaurant.

Friday, September 30, 2011

History of Education in Northampton County

Engraving of Pennsylvania Governor George Wolf.

     Before 1834, when the “Free School Act” was passed in Pennsylvania, church schools commonly provided education. When settlers formed a community large enough to support the building a church, a school was usually built next. The curriculum for these schools included reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic and religion. If parents could not afford the subscription cost or did not approve of the religious instructions, their children went without a school education.
     The Bethlehem Moravians arrived in America as an organized community. Separately, a girls and boys schools were opened in 1742. The female seminary was organized in 1785, which was the first secondary school for girls, in the United States.
     The Free School Act put the Moravian Church leaders in a difficult position. Bethlehem already had strong educational institutions when the act was passed. To accommodate the new act the Moravian day schools, separate schools for boys and girls, were converted into public schools. A public school board was elected with the same individuals that served on the previous board for the Moravian private schools. The Bethlehem Area School District as an entity was approved by the state legislature in 1836. This collaboration came to an end in 1844 when there were enough non-Moravian children in Bethlehem, whose parents sought secular instruction.
     In 1854, the Pennsylvania Legislature passed an act requiring the professional supervision of all public schools. The county superintendent was elected for three-year terms by the school boards of directors, within the county. Every June, all the county superintendents submitted a report for the school year. These reports were published in a hardbound book. Today, you can find this books in the special history collections of the Bethlehem Area Library and Easton Public Library.
     Valentine Hilburn was elected as the first Northampton County Superintendent in 1854. Hilburn was very outspoken which made him unpopular with teachers and school boards. He wrote in his Superintendent Report of 1855 that too many teachers in their dry presentation of information were dull and heavy and discouraging to students. He stated that most school board directors refused to do their job and were corrupt by their frequent requests for funds from the district treasurer. He instituted exams for teacher certifications for the first time in the county. During Hilburn’s term more than half of the students in the county did not speak, read or write in English. German was the primary language in use. Teaching English to the county’s students became a top priority for Hilburn.
     The next superintendent to serve Northampton County was Abraham Kind. He served two terms (1860-1866). The Civil War drained the county of seventy male teachers. Superintendent Kind pushed for female replacements. He said, “Their success and usefulness was equal to that of the best male teachers.”
     In 1875, Superintendent of Public Instruction J. P. Wickersham reported that male teachers were receiving an average of $6.98 more a month in salary than their female counterparts, who received $34.09 a month. All the teachers had received a decrease in salary from the previous year of $1.83. The average length of the school term, through the state was 6.85 months. The percentage of registered students who attended school was 62%. The state paid about 12% of the educational costs of the districts. Wickersham deliberated over the role of the bible in public schools. He acknowledged that it was unfair to use public money for sectarian purposes. His solution was, “the Bible-reading should take place at the end of the day, neither loss of time nor disorder need result from a part of the pupils quietly leaving the school room at a given signal.”
    The Northampton County superintendent, B.F. Raesly, in 1875, reported that no new schoolhouses in the county were built during the past year. He stated that all the schoolhouses were equipped with out-houses and the teachers were responsible for their cleanliness. The most up-to-date schools had factory made desks (as opposed to homemade desks and benches), along with blackboards, globes, maps and charts. Parents were responsible for purchasing their children’s schoolbooks. Raesly had high praise for the South Bethlehem High School, one of only two high schools in the county. He commended the excellent condition of the room where the high school was held, as it was furnished with Bancroft seats and desks. Alexander C. La Barre of Bethlehem assisted in preparing the program for the Northampton County Teachers Institute. La Barre was the Supervising Principal of the Bethlehem School District.
model of schoolhouse
     The Centennial International Exhibition of 1876 was held in Philadelphia. In the Pennsylvania Hall, exhibits were selected to impress domestic and foreign visitors. A model of the ideal Pennsylvania schoolhouse caused a stir. It represented a 22 X 34 foot structure, which received light through six windows. A cellar wood or coal stove heated the building from the basement. The large platform in front of the building was built at a height of the floor in the average horse driven carriage. A person could step easily from a carriage onto the platform in front of the school. The teacher’s desk sat on an elevated platform. The estimate for building the school was $1,500. The model was a hit with foreign visitors. Japanese officials offered to purchase the model as they were so taken with it.
     Beginning in 1883, Bethlehem public education was under the direction of its own district superintendent, George H. Desh. The school districts of South Bethlehem and West Bethlehem continued under the supervision of the county superintendent. In 1888, Oren R. Wilt was elected as the first district superintendent of South Bethlehem.
Lutz-Franklin Schoolhouse, built in 1880, in Lower Saucon Township.
     As the population grew and school districts consolidated, school districts elected their own superintendents. The Edmonds Act of 1921 ended the county superintendents' role in certification of teachers. In 1969, the name of the Department of Public Instruction was changed to the Department of Education, with the title of Superintendent of Public Instruction changed to the Secretary of Education.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dinner=cans of beef or pork and bags of dried beans.

Thirty-five years ago, as the year 1976 began, the Globe Times reported that amendments to the Food Stamp Act of 1964 were about to go into effect in Pennsylvania. Families receiving food stamps no longer had to purchase a portion of the food stamps, which on average required paying for half the food stamps allocated.  Also the stamps were no longer tied to food surpluses. In 1976 one in every fourteen Americans used food stamps. To be eligible the maximum income a family four could have was $542 a month or $6,540 a year. At or below this income level the family would receive $192 a month in food stamps. Therefore a family with income of $542 a month paid $96 for their $192 worth of food stamps.

     During the Great Depression, the increase in unemployed workers resulted in both a surplus of food and larger number of hungry Americans. As people were starving, farmers were burning their surplus corn for fuel. In 1933 the U.S. government found a way to pay farmers for their surplus food then transport the food to the families that needed it. This was a revolutionary idea, as never before did the Federal Government offered food to the poor. Up until this point local communities were responsible for taking care of the less fortunate.  

     The agency, Federal Surplus Relief Corporation (FSRC) was created to administer the new program.  The effort gave much needed assistance to those citizens who needed it but there were problems. People had to walk miles to the closest food site and wait hours for the truck to arrive with one-pound cans of beef or pork, bags of dried beans, flour, cornmeal and occasionally butter and fresh fruit. Garments were also provided, manufactured by the WPA. The food allotments arrived monthly and consisted of the food that happened to be in surplus at the time. Supply was not guided by what was good nutritionally. The creation of a food stamp program in 1939 corrected many of these problems.  One could use food stamps at the local grocery store to purchase food items and government surplus foods.

     Today the food stamp program is called SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Eligible individuals or families are given an electronic benefits card that works like a debit card that you use at grocery stores. Your food stamp benefits are loaded onto your card depending on your benefits, which can range from $2 to over $1502 a month. To receive food stamps you need to meet requirements such as having less than $5,000 in assets. A family of four cannot earn more than $2,297 a month. That family would receive $668 a month for food.

     According to the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, in 2009, there was a 40% increase in use of food stamps by the residents of Northampton County and a 23% increase in Lehigh County. In 2010 12% of the population in Lehigh County received food stamps and 9.2% in Northampton County. This is a direct result of more people suffering from unemployment. In Northampton County unemployment rose 63% affecting 9.0% of the residents and in Lehigh County it rose 57% leaving 9.2% out of work in 2010. Second Harvest formed a partnership with Bethlehem food banks such as New Bethany Ministries, Holy Bethlel Pentecostal, Concordia Lutheran, Trinity Episcopal, Moravian Food Bank and many others to feed thousands of our neighbors each day.  The Animal Food Bank Services in Hellertown takes care of the pets during hard times for their owners.

You can apply for SNAP benefits on-line at: 
or in person at (Lehigh County) Lehigh County Assistance Office, 101 South 7th Street, Allentown, or (Northampton County) Northampton County Assistance Office, 201 Larry Holmes Drive, Easton.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Broughal School, Gone But Still Missed

     The South Bethlehem School Board established their first public high school, in 1874, in the Penrose School on Vine St. The only other high school in Northampton County, at the time, was located in Easton. Since 1874, the population of the borough grew rapidly.  In 1890, South Bethlehem’s population of 10,386 out did the population of Bethlehem proper. The 1910 census, recorded that the population had grown to more than 20,000. Over a third of the new residents were first generation Americans, immigrants from Europe and Eastern Europe. They sought a better life for their children, which included a good education.
New Broughal School being built as demolition proceeds on old Broughal.
     By the time of the celebration of their Semi-Centennial in 1915, the Borough of South Bethlehem was large enough to be a third-class city. What better way to show their pride than to invest in the future? The school board commissioned the noted architect, A.W. Leh to design a large “state of the art” high school. The borough was so proud of Leh’s architectural drawings that an image of the proposed high school was placed in their Semi-Centennial booklet.
     A.W. Leh designed a four story, 114,000 sq.ft. building in the Italian Renaissance design. It was built (1915-1916) on 4.2 acres on the corner of Brodhead St. and Packer Ave. The floors were laid with Terrazzo tiles. It had a pit-type gymnasium with a capacity for 500 spectators. The first floor, center-of-building, auditorium had a seating capacity of 1,300. The auditorium with balcony was known for its excellent acoustics. Lehigh University ran a jazz series there for several years, taking advantage of the near perfect acoustics. The series included performers; Wynton Marsalis Quartet (1985); Sonny Rollins (1990): Bela Fleck (1994); Tito Puente (1995) and Al Di Meola (1996.)
Broughal School in 1949.
     There were a few unforeseen glitches to the opening of the South Bethlehem High School. With the outbreak of World War I, the allied nations ordered large amounts of goods from the U.S. In the year 1916, before the U.S. joined the war, rail ton-miles increased 32 percent. Shortages were felt nation-wide and delayed the delivery of equipment for the gym and cafeteria of the new school. The U.S. finally entered WWI on April 6, 1917, after Germany sunk seven U.S. merchant ships.
     Another problem occurred in the summer of 1916. A Polio epidemic (known as Infant Paralysis) broke-out across the United States with 27,363 cases reported. Polio was responsible for killing or handicapping more children than any other known disease. Parents were terrified of the disease, until Jonas Salk, from the University of Pittsburgh, used the dead virus as a vaccine successfully in 1955.
Broughal School in 1952.
     South Bethlehem had several cases of Polio. There was a borough wide ban of any kind of public meetings including attending movies, school and places of worship. South Bethlehem lifted the ban on Friday, September 29, 1916. A.W. Leh, architect of the grand new high school, met with the South Bethlehem School Board at the school, on Tuesday, 10/3/1916, to sign off on the project. Leh closely supervised the building of school, one of his greatest achievements. The high school opened that week with Peter J. Hall as the principal. The curriculum included three tracks; classical, scientific and commercial. The total student population in South Bethlehem that year was 2,000.
     At the beginning of the next school year, the high school was presented a flag from the GAR post, Robert Oldham Post No. 527, on September 10, 1917, in a ceremony that included a parade, the Steel Band and several speeches. The Globe wrote about the event, “It was furthermore fitting that the first public meeting held in the handsome and spacious high school auditorium was one in which love of country was the ruling spirit.” The high school’s unique and exquisite auditorium comfortably sat 1000 students that day.
1920 postcard of Broughal.
     The citizens of Bethlehem and South Bethlehem voted to consolidate their governments on July 10,1917. An election for the new city government representatives were held on November 6, 1917, with Archibald Johnson elected as the first mayor. The combined Bethlehems’ population had jumped 65 percent, from 32,810 in 1910 to 50,538 in 1920. In August of 1917, Northampton County Judge, Russell C. Stewart, selected the new school board of nine members for the consolidated city.
     Each new Bethlehem superintendent has had their own ideas about how the school would serve the students. With the building of Liberty High School in 1922, the school became South Bethlehem Junior High. Its name was changed to Broughal Junior High in 1933, in honor of Lawrence Broughal, a former school board member. A 1937 study of the Bethlehem school district reported that Broughal served as a junior high school (7-10) and as a trade and industrial high school (7-12). An addition of 10,000 sq. ft., was added in 1961.
     In 1992, the school celebrated its 75th anniversary. For the diamond jubilee, the school used the motto, "75 Filled with Pride.” The students celebrated with a day of singing songs, meeting alumni and listening to Principal Joseph Petraglia tell the history of the school.
A.W. Leh's drawing of Broughal.
     In 2005, the Bethlehem Area School District, announced plans to build a new middle school for the students of Broughal. Their first idea was to swap the 1916 building for a lot of land on Mountain Top Campus of Lehigh University. The parents of the Broughal students requested that the middle school remain within their neighborhood. In 2009, a new middle school was completed on the lot along side the old school, making the 2008/2009 school year the last year the 94 year old school served the students. At the writing of this article the building still stands. B.A.S.D. plans to demolish the school within days and replace it with a playing field. The Friends of Broughal formed in 2005 to advocate the preservation of the building. Members of the group have faithfully attended school board meetings, city council meetings, written letters to Bethlehem representatives and reached out to anyone who could help to save the beautiful landmark. Christine Ussler, Bethlehem Historic Architect, applied for the eligibility of the building on the National List of Historic Places. She received a letter on April 4, 2005, from the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission approving Broughal’s status of eligibility. In February of 2007, Senator Boscola and Representatives Freeman, Samuelson and Brennan, in a letter to the Bethlehem Area School Board, urged them to consider adaptive reuse of historic Broughal School.
     The elegant building will be greatly missed in the streetscape of South Bethlehem. It was an important part of a group of A.W. Leh buildings that represent the best of South Bethlehem architecture.
A. W. Leh

Local preservationists try to save the Broughal Building. Their signs "This place matters!" fell on deaf ears.
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Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Uncooperative Lehigh River

     As the sun was setting on Bethlehem, on August 9, 1814, a crudely built ship, called an ark, was floating by on the Lehigh River. Its cargo would bring Bethlehem into the industrial age. The ark contained twenty-four tons of “black diamonds” or anthracite coal from the Room Run Mine. The ark was sixty-five feet in length and fourteen feet in width and built with hemlock wood. It began its journey at the landings at Lausanne with a crew of six men. Within a quarter mile the ark collided with a slate ledge that caused a gash its side. The crew ripped off their clothing and successfully plugged the hole. The ark stayed afloat all the way to its destination of Philadelphia, five days later.
     The Lenni Lenape were the first to discover the coal and spoke of it to the early settlers. Philip Ginter may have heard these rumors so when he stumbled upon some black rocks, in 1791, while hunting on the summit of the Sharp Mountain, he took them home for further examination. Ginter had migrated to the Mahoning region in the 1770s. He was a miller, farmer and landowner of 300 acres. It is believed that Ginter took a piece of this coal to the local blacksmith, Joe Neyer, who was able to ignite the rock, confirming it was coal. Next, Ginter gave samples of the coal to Colonel Jacob Weis who was living in the area of Weissport, formally New Gnaddenhuetten or Fort Allen.
     Weiss had served as the assistant deputy quartermaster-general at Easton (1780-1783.) Upon retirement in 1783, Weis purchased 700 acres, which included the former Fort Allen, from the Moravian Brethrens and moved his family to that location. He started a lumber business and farm. Weis took the coal to Philadelphia to seek the advice of his cousin, Michael Hillegas, United States Treasurer during the Revolutionary War, Charles Cist, a printer and his brother-in-law, John Nicholson, the Comptroller General of Pennsylvania. Cist was able to verify that the stone was anthracite coal.  With this discovery they decided to form the Lehigh Coal Mine Company in 1792. Weiss offered Ginter assistance in securing a land warrant in exchange for pointing out the spot where he found the coal.
     At first the company’s plan seemed easily accomplished. They needed to find coal deposits, purchase the property containing the deposits, improve the Lehigh River so transportation of the coal by boat would be unimpeded and develop a market for the coal. Every part of this plan proved difficult. Weiss took charge of purchasing 10,000 acres of coal rich land. As he attempted to buy land, counter claims would surface. Weiss eventually sorted out ownership with the company purchasing the land between Mauch Chunk and Tamaqua, along the Lehigh River. The idea of mining coal from shallow pits was abandoned for digging mineshafts at the Room Run Mine near Nesquehoning. This mine was closer to the river therefore reducing the cost of transporting it. Several attempts to clear the Lehigh River for transportation of the coal failed. In 1798, a separate company was organized to deal specifically with this task, the Lehigh Navigation Company.
     The War of 1812 raised the cost of coal and limited its availability through the British blockade of Chesapeake and Delaware bays. This inspired a new attempt of transporting coal from the Lehigh Coal Mine Company down the Lehigh River to the Philadelphia market. The Lehigh Coal Mine Company began leasing their mines to other enterprising men hoping to increase the value of their mines. Some of the original investors, Hillegas, Cist and Nicholson, had passed away. The next generation (Jacob Weiss, Isaac Abel Chapman, Jacob Cist, Charles Miner, and John Robinson) took their chances with the mining and selling of anthracite. Arks were produced at Jacob Weiss’ sawmill at Lausanne. They were sixty-five feet long by fourteen to sixteen feet wide. Each ark could carry from twenty to thirty tons of coal. A pilot who navigated with a pole controlled the ark.
     Josiah White and Erskine Hazard purchased a cartload of the coal that was piled on the ark that passed through Bethlehem in 1814. They wanted to investigate its usefulness for heating the furnace at their mill, the Fairmount Nail and Wire Works, at the Falls of the Schuylkill (northwest of Philadelphia). They experimented with lighting the coal for several hours but soon gave up. They shut the furnace door and left the mill, greatly discouraged. One of the mill workers realized that he had left his jacket. He returned to the mill thirty minutes later to find the furnace to be red hot. The closed furnace door increased the flow of oxygen and facilitated the combustion. White and Hazard saw the great potential of anthracite. Their involvement in the anthracite mining industry solved many of the problems encountered by the Lehigh Coal Mine Company.