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Shenandoah Borough

Shenandoah Borough Hall is located at 15 West Washington Street, Shenandoah PA 17976; phone: 570-462-1918.

Beginnings [1]

Shenandoah was incorporated as a borough on the 16th of January, 1866, a petition setting forth its boundaries and signed by one hundred freeholders having been presented to the court of Schuylkill county in September previous. At the first election, held in the spring of 1866, the following officers were chosen: Chief burgess, Frederick Wright; council: C.J. Heller (president), Martin Franey, Thomas Egan, Christian Young, and George Quinn; secretary, J.F. Murphy; treasurer, Anthony Devitt; solicitor, Charles D. Hipple; high constable and collector, Michael O'Hara.

The borough of Shenandoah, though one of the youngest, is the second in population in Schuylkill county. It owes its existence and prosperity entirely to the development and workings of the coal deposits with which it is immediately surrounded. As late as 1862 its site and vicinity were for the most part a wilderness and a favorite hunting ground; deer, bear, and smaller game being comparatively abundant. Instances are related of choppers who carried their dinner with them to the bush having been robbed of it, bucket and all, by bears within plain sight of the victims.

The site of Shenandoah was originally owned by Peter Kehley, who as early as 1835 built a log house near the present Lehigh Valley depot, and, with his family, was for many years the only resident in the vicinity, gaining a sustenance by hunting and cultivating small patches of ground. Several years previous to 1860 he was induced to transfer his title to the land to parties in Philadelphia for a nominal consideration, but continued to occupy it, at an annual rental of a dollar, until his death, when the family removed to other parts.

In the spring of 1862 the purchasers of Mr. Kehley's land, then or subsequently known as the Philadelphia Land Company, anticipating the speedy opening of coal mines here, had a town surveyed and plotted by P.W. Sheaffer, then acting as civil engineer for that company, who gave to it the name of "Shenandoah City," probably after Shenandoah creek, which runs through the southeastern portion of the present borough.

The following summer the land company built a two-story frame hotel, on the corner of Main and Center streets, which was opened, under the name the United States Hotel, in August, 1862, by Seymour Wright, as manager, with rent free. This was the first frame building put up in Shenandoah, and it is still used for hotel purposes, though having undergone some changes since its first erection. The same year James Hutton built two dwelling houses, and building was also begun at the Shenandoah City colliery.

The opening of that colliery, which was begun in 1862, brought to this place many of the first settlers. Seymour Wright, Jacob O. Roads, James Hutton, Christian Young, John Houzer and perhaps a few others came here in 1862. Seymour Wright was a native of the State of New York, and came here from Columbia County, Pa. He was manager of the United States hotel about three years, station agent as long, and then returned to Columbia county, where he died.

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