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Minersville Borough

Minersville Borough Hall is located at 2 East Sunbury Street, Minersville PA 17954; phone: 570-544-2149.

Beginnings [1]

In a brief sketch by Charles W. Taylor, it is said: "Minersville was founded in 1830 by Titus Bennet, who laid out the town in that year on parts of two tracts of land. One of these was patented to Titus Bennet on the 7th of December, 1830, and enrolled in patent book 'H,' vol. 28, page 567. The other was patented to Lawrence Lewis and Robert M. Lewis on the 20th of July, 1829, and recorded in patent book 'H', vol. 26, page 493.

"The borough of Minersville was incorporated on the 1st of April, 1831, and the act was approved by Governor George Wolf. The original limits of the borough were the following boundaries; 'Beginning at a spruce tree on the corner of lands of Bennet and Walton, adjoining lands of Wetherill and others; from thence south 60E west, 131 perches, to a white oak stump; thence north 30E west, 63 perches; thence north 51E west, 127 perches; thence north 66E east, 128 perches; thence north 60E east, to a point on the division line of lands belonging to Bennet, Walton, and John White; and thence, by said line, to the place of beginning.'

"Minersville was so named because of the fact that a large portion of the inhabitants were engaged in coal mining."

In the Miners' Journal of December, 1830, it is said: "A little more than a twelvemonth ago the present site of town dwelt in all the loveliness of uncultivated nature, since which its aspect has undergone a wonderful change in improvements and population. Along the margin of the stream the West Branch railroad extends, and terminates at Schuylkill Haven (distance seven and one-half miles from Minersville), affording an easy and expeditious mode of transportation. The principal street bears the name of Sunbury, on which are situated all the stores and public buildings. It was formerly the old Sunbury road, communicating with the rich valleys in the direction of the Susquehanna. The northern portion of the village is of firm dry soil, gradually rising and affording a southern exposure, of favorable character for private dwellings. Seven large houses have already been erected during the present season on this spot by Messrs. Bennet and Gilmore, together with a number of small buildings in the same quarter. Last spring there were but six dwellings in all, since which there has been an increase of forty-nine substantial houses. The place contains six taverns, in any one of which are to be found respectable accommodations; eight stores, well supplied with every article for country consumption; six blacksmiths' shops, one saddlery, one bakery, two tailors' shops and two butchers'-all seeming to be in a thriving way. The population is estimated to be 500."

Since the incorporation of the borough it has been twice enlarged, and its corporate limits include about double its original area.

The first settler here was Thomas Reed, who came in March, 1793, built a saw-mill in the west branch if the Schuylkill, just below the mouth is Wolf creek, and a log house near it. This, it is believed, was the first residence in the place. He soon afterward built a tavern on the south side of what was then the Sunbury road, now Sunbury street, on the present site of the church of St. Vincent de Paul. At about the same time he erected a distillery for converting his surplus coarse grain into spirits. This was a log building, and it stood on a portion of the site of a brick house nearly opposite the Catholic parsonage. A portion of the timber of this distillery has been used in the construction of an outbuilding in the rear of this house. Besides the tavern and log house no other residences are known to have been built in Minersville till the latter part of 1828.

The hotel was long known as the "Half-Way House" between Reading and Sunbury. It also had the local name of the "Red House." Mr. Reed kept this hotel till his death in 1814. It is remembered that during the war of 1812 a body of troops were coming from Northumberland over the Sunbury road, and a boy, mistaking them for Indians, ran in his fright and reported what he thought he had seen to Mr. Reed, who sent away his family and secreted himself, rifle in hand, to await the coming of the savages. His alarm was of course dissipated on learning that they were American soldiers.

The first child born in Minersville was Susanna, daughter of Thomas Reed, December 18th, 1793. The first resident of this place married was Jacob Reed, to Rebecca Bittle, January 13th, 1813.

The first death was that of Thomas Reed, in 1814. He was buried in the cemetery at the rear of his hotel. A body had previously been buried there-that of the man who carried the mail, on foot, between Reading and Sunbury. He was found murdered at what is now called Primrose, about a mile and a half above Minersville. His body was guarded by his large dog, and after it was, with some difficulty, taken away and buried, this dog snuffed a short time at the grave, then ran away and went to Sunbury. The appearance of the man's dog alarmed his friends for his safety, and they came and learned the facts of the case, but the murderers were never apprehended. Robbery was supposed to be their motive. The first cemetery was in the rear of the old red tavern, adjoining the present cemetery of the church of St. Vincent de Paul. The ground was donated by Thomas Reed.

The other cemeteries are St. Mary's, in the northwest part of the borough; the German Lutheran and German Reformed, southeast from the borough on the road to Llewellyn; the Welsh Baptist, on Spencer street; the Congregational, near St. Mary's; and that of St. Vincent de Paul in the rear of the church. Peter Dilman resided in the log house near the saw-mill after Mr. Reed removed to the red tavern. He was the sawyer in the mill. The lumber that was manufactured in this region at that early period was manufactured in this region at that early period was rafted down the Schuylkill and found a market at Reading and the places below it. Lumbering was the principal business of the few settlers here. When the Mine Hill Railroad was built, and an outlet was thus given to the mineral wealth of this region, the influx of settlers was very rapid. Among the first settlers in 1829 was Joseph Dobbins, a carpenter, who built some of the earliest houses here. The first blacksmith was George Dengler, whose shop was a board shanty near where the tavern of Mr. Mock, on Sunbury street, now stands. He also boarded railroad hands in a newly built house near his shop.

The first store was established in 1830 by John Swaine and his partner, a Mr. Duncan, on the north side of Sunbury street, near Third. Drs. Robbins and Steinberger were the first physicians. In 1830 or 1831 Francis Finselbach established a brewery on the south side of Sunbury street, between First and Second streets. Among the people who came in 1829 and 1830 were Samuel Rickert, Daniel R. Bennet, N. Baker, B. McLenathan, Joseph Mills Jacob Bruner, Samuel McBride and others, whose names cannot be recalled. As before stated, the growth of the place was very rapid after 1829.

Thomas Reed was early appointed a justice of the peace. It is said that on the re-election of Governor Snyder, Jacob Reed, his son, was also appointed, as a reward for having cast his first vote for Mr. Snyder, in opposition to the wishes of his father. The son was a magistrate here during many years, and had his office in the log house which has been mentioned as the first residence erected in the place.

The first election for borough officers was held at the house of David Buckwatler May 1st, 1831, and resulted in the choice of the following officers: Samuel Rickert, Chief burgess; John Provost, John Patrick, Dr Anthony Steinberger, John L. Swaine, Daniel R. Bennet, John B. Hahn and Daniel Buckwalter, councilmen. Daniel R. Bennet was elected the first president of the council. John Bruner the first borough treasurer; Thomas J. Harman town clerk, and Milligan G. Gable high constable.

  1. History of Schuylkill County PA., 1881, W.W. Munsell & Co., New York
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