Hyde Park History

Excerpts from
History of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties, Pa.,
W.W. Munsell & Co., New York, 1880.
Jubilee History of Lackawanna County Pennsylvania,
by Thomas Murphy, Historical Publishing Company,
Topeka-Indianapolis, 1928.

After leaving their native Wales for America in 1848, my great-great grandfather John J. Thomas and family settled in south Scranton, Lackawanna county, Pennsylvania. In the early 1850s the family moved across town to the borough of Hyde Park, the epicenter of Welsh settlement in the region. Shortly thereafter Hyde Park was incorporated as a borough in 1852, followed by Scranton in 1856.

History of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties, Pa., was published in 1880 and was one of the first major published works covering the history of the region, while Jubilee History of Lackawanna County Pennsylvania, was published in 1828. Below you will find extracts from both books, covering the civil, economic, social and religious history of Hyde Park, with a focus on the area's mining history. By the eve of the Civil War, the steel mills and coal mines of Hyde Park/Scranton had transformed the once sleepy hollow into an industrial powerhouse, and it was for this reason that thousands of Welshmen, including John J. Thomas, emigrated to the region. Of particular interest here are the dramatic details of the 1877 strike and riots, which left four people dead and many wounded, resulting in a large force of armed soldiers being sent in to restore order in the community. Some have argued that the ultimate failure of the 1877 strike marked the beginning of the decline of Welsh dominance in Scranton's mining industry.

History of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties, Pa.

Hyde Park Borough

The Heermans House, or "old white tavern," has been referred to as long a place of popular resort. At this place the elections in Providence were often held before the boroughs of Providence, Scranton, Hyde Park and Dunmore were formed, and it was the scene of many a fierce and exciting contest. It was the changing place at dinner station on the stage route between Wilkes-Barre and Carbondale, and after the establishment of the daily line of four-horse coaches presented a lively appearance about noonday. Under the proprietorship of Norvel D. Green, and afterward of John Merrifield and Samuel Slocum, it achieved a notable reputation as a hostelry. The second tavern built in Hyde Park was erected by Anson H. Wood in 1831, on the north corner of Main and Franklin streets, on land now owned by the Catholic church. It was known for many years as "the yellow tavern," and was burned in 1868. The first school-house in Hyde Park was erected in 1816 or thereabout, on the westerly corner of Main street and that upon which the public school-house is located. It served several years as a meeting-house, and Elder Richmond often held meetings there.


As late as 1820 Hyde Park had not attained the size of a village. A blacksmith and wagon shop stood opposite the Heermans tavern. Between that and Mr. Washburns's who came during that year, timber grew on both sides of the street; opposite Washburn's Zephaniah Knapp lived; in the next house, below and across the way from the school-house, lived Robert Merrifield, who came in 1819. Just below lived old "Squire" Joseph Fellows and his sons Benjamin and Henry. Above the tavern on the right hand side of the road, about half way between Jackson and Franklin streets, was a dwelling house; the Bishop house had been destroyed by fire. Further up were the homes of Preserved Taylor and Holden Tripp; and there may have been one or two other families in the neighborhood. Shortly after this period Philip Heermans, with the assent of his brother-in-law Joseph Fellows, who resided in Albany, laid out a few lots about ten acres each, which measure may be said to have marked the commencement of the village. It received a name between 1825 and 1830. Harvey Chase, who came from Hyde Park, Dutchess county, N.Y., lettered the name "Hyde Park" on a board and stuck it up in the yard of one of the neighbors, from which time the village was known by that name.

Below: Slocum Hollow (Scranton) as it appeared in 1840. Photograph courtesy of the Lackawanna County PA GenWeb Project. http://www.rootsweb.com/~palackaw/


July 14th, 1832, a post office was established under the now well known name, and William Merrifield was appointed postmaster. Previously there had been a post office at Slocum's, on the Scranton side of the river, but it had now been abandoned, and the postmaster was directed to receive the papers and key to the mail pouch from Pittston. The appointment was resigned shortly after, and Robert Merrifield was commissioned under date of August 9th 1832. William Merrifield was reappointed June 5th, 1834, and held the office about nine years. The first store was erected in 1833 by William Merrifield, the old building yet standing on Main street opposite the Methodist church. The Judge Merrifield residence was built about the same time. Prior to that Charles Atwater had kept a few goods for sale, occupying a dwelling house near where the McKeever block now stands; but practically Merrifield's was the pioneer mercantile establishment in the place. The second store was built by David Benedict about 1836, where the McGarrah block now stands. Here he conducted business for a year or two, when he moved down to the Fellows corners. There he was succeeded by William Blackman & O.P. Clark. This was about 1840, when the village contained, besides the church and school-house, two stores, two taverns, two blacksmith and wagon shops, a cabinet and one or two shoemaking establishments, and not more than twenty dwellings.


April 4, 1833, Calvin Washburn donated the land on the north corner of Main and the street leading to the school building, where was built the first meeting house. It was generally recognized as belonging to the "Christian" church, but other denominations were permitted to worship in it. Rev. Wm. Lane, a noted and able "Christian" preacher, was at one time the regular occupant of the pulpit, but did not remain longer than two years. Rev. William K. Mott was an early settler in Hyde Park, and preached in this church most of the time during its occupancy.

Dr. Silas B. Robinson at first settled in Hyde Park, living on the easterly side of Main street, about midway between Troy street and Lackawanna avenue. Here he remained about ten years, when he moved a mile and a half up the road toward Providence village. From that time there was no resident physician until Dr. Pier came in 1846.

Charles H. Silkman, subsequently a noted lawyer and politician, came about 1835, and shortly after married the daughter of Holden Tripp. At this time the value of coal deposits was little appreciated, all the lands about having no money value other than for farming purposes. Silkman and William Merrifield devoted a great deal of their leisure time, by correspondence and otherwise, towards drawing attention to the great wealth buried underneath the valley, and the advantages existing at and near this section for manufacturing. In 1838 Mr. Merrifield, William Ricketson and Zenas Albro became the purchasers of the site of the iron works and the largest portion of Scranton proper. The development of this property by the Lackawanna Iron and Coal Company, to the pioneers of which it was sold by the gentlemen named, is the realization of their hopes for the future of the locality. From the time of that transaction Hyde Park improved slowly; but it was not until the northern division of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad was commenced that the village increased in size and population with much rapidity. In 1850 William Merrifield and B.S. Tripp, who owned adjoining lands, embracing nearly all the property lying between Main and Wyoming streets east and west and Jackson and Lackawanna avenue north and south, laid them out into village lots, most of which were readily sold. Mr. Merrifield prevailed upon his brother-in-law, William Swetland, who was the owner of the Mount Pleasant colliery property, to lay out a portion of the same in lots in 1852, from which time the growth of the place has been steady and rapid. Edmund Heermans was an active and earnest worker for the benefit of Hyde Park; he it was that induced his uncle Joseph Fellows to plot that body of land embracing nearly all the southern portion of the town, and he made extensive improvements which had a tendency to facilitate its progress. Similar measures on a more or less liberal scale were projected by W.W. Winton at a later date. The population of Hyde Park is made up partially of Americans, Irish and Germans, but mostly of Welsh; indeed the latter people have given the place a distinctive characteristic. By their prudence, exemplary conduct and general intelligence they have done much to add to its welfare and prosperity.


The borough of Hyde Park was incorporated May 4th, 1852. Judge William Merrifield was the first burgess and probably served two years. According to the records of the borough Joseph Fellows was elected to that position in 1854 and re-elected in 1855 and 1856. His successors have been as follows: 1857, William Smith; 1858, Joseph Fellows 2nd; 1859, 1860, 1864, (18)74, E. Heermans; 1861, Joseph T. Fellows; 1875-79 A.B. Stevens. Owing to unsettled local businesses the borough organization of Hyde Park is continued, though the territory embraced within its limits is incorporated with the city of Scranton. As soon as the outstanding business is adjusted borough elections will be discontinued.

The following names persons were commissioned as justices of the peace in Hyde Park borough from the date of incorporation to that of its inclusion in the city: William Pier, 1853; William P. Stephens, 1854; Sheffield Reynolds, 1857; C.H. Wells, 1858; Hiram Stark, 1862; S. Reynolds, 1863.


Welsh (Hyde Park) - This church and the Sunday-school connected with it were organized in 1850, in the schoolhouse near the old iron rolling mill in Scranton. Previous to this, Rev. William Richmond of Carbondale had held service in the same place. The first settled pastor was the Rev. John W. James, who resigned in 1859. Then Rev. Theophilus Jones was pastor two and a half years. He was succeeded by Rev. Isaiah Davis. It was during his ministry that the brick church edifice on Mifflin avenue, Scranton, was erected. It was afterwards sold to the German Lutheran church. From 1862 the church held services in Fellows Hall, Hyde Park, the majority of the Welsh people of Scranton living on that side of the river, until the present commodious house of worship was erected. The foundation of this building was laid in 1864. It was not finished until 1868. Rev. J.P. Harris was pastor for two years and a half from 1863; the Rev. Fred Evans three years; Rev. D.W. Morris, from November 1870, until 1876; Rev. M. Wright from January, 1877 to December 24th 1878, when he died. Since that the church has no settled pastor, but has depended on supplies. The congregation has been large. The present church edifice cost $14,450. The present number of members is 350; number in Sunday-school 500.

Below: the First Welsh Baptist Church, Hyde Park, circa 1907.


Within the limits of the city are the following mentioned drifts, shafts or slopes.

The Park Coal Company's slope in Hyde Park is operated by the School Fund Coal Association. It was opened in 1845. The veins are named "F" and "G," and the capacity is 350 tons per day. Two hundred men and boys are employed. From July, 1874, the slope was operated by the Park Coal Company till March, 1877, since when it has been in the hands of the present operators.

Mount Pleasant slope, Hyde Park, was opened by Lewis & Howell in 1854. It was operated by the Mount Pleasant Coal Company from 1864 until 1877, since then by William T. Smith. It is the property of W. Swetland's heirs. It has a capacity of 150,000 tons per annum and employs 300 men and boys. The veins are called respectively "Diamond," "Rock," "big," or "G" and "Clark."

William Connell & Co. own and operate Meadow Brook shaft and National colliery in Scranton. Each has a capacity of 150,000 tons annually. Most of the coal now shipped from the National (which was opened by the National Anthracite Coal Company in 1856 and operated by Theodore Vetterlein from 1858 to 1865 and from that time, until the succession of William Connell & Co., by the Susquehanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad and Coal Company), comes from the openings near Meadow Brook mines, and is taken to the National mines over a narrow gauge track which runs along the side of the hill. The Meadow Brook shaft, opened by Messrs. Connell & Co., in 1870, is operated by a shaft and several drifts. Five hundred men and boys are employed. The force at the National colliery is about 200, merely sufficient to prepare the coal for the market. These mines are both in the "Clark" and "Buck Mountain" veins.

The following mines are operated by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company: No.2 Diamond shaft, Tripp's slope, No. 2 slope and No. 2 shaft in Hyde Park, known as the Diamond mines, working veins known as "E," "F," and "G," producing 1,800 gross tons per day, and employing 800 men and boys; Oxford shaft, Hyde Park, in veins "E" and "F," opened by S.T. Scranton & co. in 1862, and taken possession of by the company in August 1868, having a capacity of 600 tons daily; Cayuga shaft, Providence, opened July 20th 1870, by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company, with a daily capacity of 700 tons, and affording employment to 280 men and boys; Central shaft, opened by the company October 22, 1870, working "big" or "G" vein, with a capacity of 900 tons per day, and employing 336 men and boys; Brisbin shaft, Providence, opened May 5th 1875, in "G" vein, having a capacity of 800 tons per day, and employing 294 hands; Hyde Park shaft, in veins "G" and "F," opened in 1858, and operated since 1869 by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company, capacity 700 tons per day.

The Fairlawn slope was begun by contractors June 16th 1872. The breaker was completed and started August 20th, 1873, under the name of the Fairlawn colliery. The proprietors were Hosie, Robertson & Hosie. January 1st 1874 the Archbald heirs bought the interest of John Robinson, and the firm continued under the name Hosie, Archbald & Hosie until July 30th 1874, at which time the parties in interest organized the Fairlawn Coal Company (limited). This mine ins in the "Clark" and "Upper," and "2nd" and "3rd" Dunmore veins. The Fairlawn Coal Company is working the "Clark" vein alone, the capacity of which and the other veins is estimated at about 1,000 tons of merchantable coal to each foot thickness of vein per acre, the capacity of the breaker is about 275 tons per day. Eighty men and 60 boys are employed.

Jermyn's Green Ridge shaft was operated by the present owner and operator, John Jermyn, June 19th 1876. It is in the "Clark" vein and its capacity is 800 tons daily; 350 to 400 men and boys are employed.

Von Storch slope, Leggett's Creek slope and Marvine shaft, Providence, are operated by the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company. The number of employees at these collieries in 1878 was 711 inside, 1,080 outside.

Capoose and Pine Brook shafts, in Hyde Park and Scranton respectively, are owned and operated by the Lackawanna Iron and Coal Company, mention of whose mines will be found elsewhere.

The Von Storch colliery, owned and operated by the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company, is in the second ward. It has a shaft 532 feet in depth and a slope of 1,062 feet in length. The breaker has a capacity of 1,000 tons per day, mining from the Diamond, Clark and Fourteen feet veins. The shaft was sunk in 1857 by the Von Storch Coal Company. The first coal was shipped in the fall of 1858 by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad.


Scranton, as the center geographically and commercially of the eastern coal district, has from time to time been the scene of some of those conflicts between capital and labor common to all localities where mining and manufacturing are carried out extensively. The local troubles have been so frequent that it would be neither profitable nor interesting to notice them all. Often they have been confined to one mine or manufacturing establishment and have been speedily adjusted without serious loss or inconvenience. The more notable strikes at Scranton occurred in 1869, in 1870-71 and in 1877.


A general strike of all miners in the employ of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company, together with those at all collieries whose coal was purchased by this corporation except the Nay Aug or Roaring Brook colliery, began May 25th 1869, and continued until August 27th. The miners of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company struck at the same time, but did not resume work until about a week after the date last mentioned. The cause for the action of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company's miners was the refusal of the company to grant an increase of ten cents a car in the price of mining. The difficulty was finally adjusted by the promise of the company to pay the same price for mining that was paid by the Pennsylvania Coal Company, and not to make any reduction before December 1st following, without thirty days notice. Roaring Brook colliery and the mines of the Pennsylvania Coal Company worked during this period of loss and inactivity without interruption. This was the first general strike in the Lackawanna district.


December 5th, 1870, the miners of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company and the Pennsylvania Coal Company stopped work. From time to time the employees of other companies joined the movement, and during the next five months and more, with few exception, the mines in and about Scranton as well as throughout the entire anthracite coal region, were idle, the miners remaining stubborn in their demands for higher wages and the coal companies in their refusal to grant any concessions. The effect of the suspension was disastrous not only to miners and operators, but to the business prosperity of the city and the surrounding country, and among the former there were numerous instances of want and destitution.

During the war the rapid increase in demand for coal stimulated production beyond precedent, forced higher rates for mining than was paid by any other branch of industry, and attracted to the mines more men that could be profitably employed when business returned to its natural channel. To maintain the then current high wages the miners formed an association, which in a short time embraced the entire anthracite region, and in 1869 resolved that they would not only determine the rates to be paid for labor, but would also control and determine the production of the mines and the value of coal to the consumer. This new and extraordinary claim was conceded by a majority of the producers, but was successfully resisted by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company, the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company and the Pennsylvania Coal Company.

This protracted period of inactivity and distress engendered hostile feeling on the part of the strikers towards such of their occupation as continued to work here and there, which culminated in the well remembered riots of April 6th and 7th, 1871. On the 6th a mob gathered at Tripp's slope, and tried to prevent the men working there from coming out of the mine at quitting time. The next day men were beaten, the work at mines stopped and much property was destroyed. A breaker was burned down, and a force of miners estimated at about 1,000 carried terror in all directions. Upon application from Mayor Monies, the governor sent Major General Osborne and a portion of his division, the Hazelton Battalion under Major Swank, the 15th regiment under Colonel O.K. Moore, together with the Thomas and Franklin Zouaves of Scranton. These forces were put on guard, and though all attempts at an adjustment of the differences between employers and employees by arbitration or otherwise failed for some time, there was no further violence. Work was generally resumed May 22nd, though some miners, notably those in the employ of the Lackawanna Iron & Coal Company, had resumed a few days earlier.


From the beginning of the troubles which culminated in the wide-spread strikes and riots of 1877, Scranton, the most important point in the coal region, was profoundly agitated. The strike in the city proper was begun July 24th by the employees of the Lackawanna Coal Company, though the employees at the Meadow Brook mines, numbering about 300, had struck the night before. It was first declared at noon in the old rolling-mill, and the men retired from the building, leaving the partly formed rails in the rolls and the fires in the furnaces still burning, and proceeded in a body to the company's steel mills, where work was suspended, the employees joining the strikers and marching with them to the shops and foundries, where work was also stopped; the entire force of workmen in all of these establishments, to the number of about 1,500, having struck, declaring that they had been unable to live on the wages they had received up to the 15th of the month, at which date a reduction of ten percent more had been made. During the afternoon a meeting was held at which it was determined to demand the restoration of this last reduction. The employees of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad and the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company struck that day. The locomotives were run into the yard, where their fires were drawn and they were left in good order. Passenger trains were taken to their destinations, but upon their arrival their fires were drawn and the engines placed on side tracks. There was no disposition shown by the firemen to injure any of the companies' property, which they declared they would protect. A coal train which left Scranton at five o'clock was returned and placed in the yard with nearly a score of others similarly loaded. A demand had previously been made on Superintendent Manville, of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company, by the firemen in the employ of that corporation, but concessions had been refused by him that afternoon. No engineers, conductors or brakeman were concerned in the movement at that time, though the brakemen afterward joined it. It was announced by the railway authorities that no trains would run until the difficulty was settled. All shipments of coal ceased, and the mines in all parts of the Lackawanna valley were thus rendered idle. The excitement in the city was intense. Doubt, uncertainty and apprehension were everywhere manifest. A proclamation was issued by Mayor McKune, urging the necessity of sober, careful thought and pointing out the criminal folly of any precipitate action.

The excitement increased, and on the 25th the crowds of idle and eagerly talking men about the streets were augmented by the arrival of thousands of miners who flocked in from all directions. The strikers said they would not obstruct the carrying of the mails, but declared they would suffer no passenger cars to pass over the roads. When the 10 o’clock train from Binghampton arrived, it was boarded by a number of strikers, who uncoupled the express and passenger cars as it neared the depot, but permitted the mail to pass. The railway officials refused to go through with the mail unless the passenger cars were permitted to pass, but the strikers procured orders for the governor to Superintendent Halstead to allow the mails to pass as usual. A statement was prepared by a committee of strikers for publication in the local papers, setting forth their grievances and the cause for their action. A petition was adopted asking the saloon keepers to close their places of business.

The miners of the Scranton district, representing not less than 40,000 men, demanded an increase of twenty-five per cent on their wages during the day, causing augmented excitement in the city. W.R. Storrs, general coal superintendent of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company, was waited on by a committee of six who presented a series of resolutions, representing that the men had been subjected to repeated reductions until their wages were far less than adequate to their support and that of their families, and that they would no longer endure it, but were determined to continue the strike until their demands should be complied with, even though the railway employees should return to their work. Mr. Storrs forwarded their petition to the general office of the company and promised the committee a reply on the following Friday; and the strikers called a mass meeting in the woods, in the suburbs of the city, for the afternoon of the 26th. The Lackawanna Iron and Coal Company’s employees, including the workmen in the iron and steel works, sent a committee during the day to wait on W.W. Scranton, the general superintendent, and demanded an increase of wages to the amount of twenty-five per cent, which he was unable to grant. The strike was rendered general by a demand of the employees of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western car shops of an increase of twenty five per cent, and now it extended to every important branch of industry in the valley; and one of the most dangerous elements in the trouble was supplied by the actions of the miners, who not satisfied with quitting work, refused to allow the pumps of the mines to be operated. The men who attempted to keep them going to prevent the mines from flooding were driven away by the strikers and the engines were stopped, allowing the water to flow steadily into the mines, injuring some of them to an almost inestimable extent. The prevailing state of affairs at the time was thus summed up in a dispatch from Scranton, July 29th:

“The entire Lackawanna region is idle. Week before last this region sent neatly 150,000 tons of coal to market. Last week it did not send a tithe of that quantity, and next week it will not send any. The miners of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company quit work yesterday morning, and those of the Pennsylvania Coal Company are in enforced idleness on account of the destruction of the head-house and bridge on their gravity railway. The head-house, which was situated in the woods east of this city, was burned down at three o’clock this morning by a mob which surprised the watchman and tied him with ropes to a neighboring tree. They saturated the wood of the head-house, and then set it off with a match. It made a fierce blaze, which was plainly visible here. Destruction of the head-house causes a complete stoppage from Hawley to Pittston. It was not the work of the company’s employees, but of outside persons, who took that mode of forcing the strike upon them. The Pennsylvania Coal Company have recently been working on full time at their mines and the best of feeling exists between themselves and their workmen. The latter are indignant at the dastardly act.”

The mayor was very active in efforts to effect adjustment of the troubles, and succeeded at length in inducing the miners in the vicinity of Scranton to allow the pumps to be put to work by the civil engineer bosses and clerks of the coal companies.

By dint of strong effort on the part of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company and the city authorities the employees of that corporation gave up the struggle July 30th and resumed work at their former wages. This action was brought about chiefly by the mayor, who sent for the executive committee of the striking railway employees and informed them that travel would have to be resumed over the road the next morning, even if the presence of troops should be necessary to such a result. At a meeting held early in the afternoon the men decided by a vote of 82 to 9, to return to their work, and a committee proceeded to inform Superintendent Halstead of their determination, the only terms asked being the promise of the superintendent that no one who had taken an active part in the strike should be prosecuted. This condition was not refused, and passenger and freight traffic was speedily re-established.

The miners declared their intention to hold out, and bitterly denounced the concession of the railway employees, their turbulence augmenting day by day to such a pitch as to make troops necessary. Some of the miners resumed work stealthily. On the morning of August 1st a mass meeting of about 5,000 strikers was held in the suburbs. The situation was discussed by partisan speakers with more fervor than deliberation. The policy of the railroad and coal companies was denounced in bitter terms, and the action of the workmen who had resumed their former positions in the shops and blast furnaces was scathingly reprobated. An incendiary letter from some anonymous person was read, which stated that W.W. Scranton had declared he would have the men at work for thirty-five cents a day, stirring the multitude up to a pitch of almost ungovernable excitement.Curses and threats were heard on almost every hand, and the influence of addresses by a few of the more conservative of the leaders, which had been listened to with attention and respect, seemed to have been destroyed in a moment. A few reporters were present, and as soon as they were recognized their notes were seized by the strikers and they were driven from the ground. The men then separated into two squads, proceeded to the machine shops, foundries and furnaces of the Lackawanna Iron and Coal Company, and drove off a number of men and boys who were at work. They then went to the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western car shops. The workmen there were panic-stricken and fled in terror. Some of them were seriously injured, as was also a foreman named Little. Mayor McKune, appearing on the scene, was hooted. After vainly addressing the mob, he was driven from the ground. In a rush which followed, Mr. Lilly, a lumber boss in the employ of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western shops, was beaten. The mayor endeavored by all the means in his power to disperse the crowd, but was knocked down and severely injured.

Upon learning the extent of the riot, the mayor had summoned a posse which had previously been organized in view of the dangers which threatened the city, under command of W.W. Scranton, which promptly assembled and marched about fifty strong to the scene of the danger, encountering the mob at the intersection of Washington and Lackawanna avenues, near where they saw the mayor bleeding from his recent wounds. As the posse approached him for instructions some of the more reckless of the rioters attacked the armed men with a shower of stones and other missiles; and moment later one of them shot T.W. Bortree who was in the rear of the mayor's posse, in the knee with a pistol ball; and immediately the posse faced about and a number of them fired, killing or fatally wounding four of the rioters and injuring others more or less seriously. The crowd fled and sought safety in various directions at the first volley. It was followed by two others in quick succession, and by this time the mob was utterly routed and the streets were soon clear, except for the presence of the dead, dying and wounded and those whom humanity or curiosity had called to the spot. Four had been killed or fatally wounded, and it is estimated that no less than a score of persons, including those killed, were injured. It was manifest that order could be preserved only by armed force. The streets were patrolled by armed citizens and an urgent appeal for military assistance was forwarded to the governor at Pittsburgh. Threatened freight cars were guarded.

Before daylight on the morning of August 2nd men were pouring in by the hundreds from the neighboring mining districts and concentrating near the depot. Here Governor Hartranft with a large force of soldiers under command of General Huidekoper, arrived about the same time, just in time to avert the impending difficulty. As the troops arrived, with two cannon on a platform car in advance of the locomotive and hundreds of bayonets protruding from the car windows, the rioters made an instant stampede. The troops were warmly welcomed by the citizens, and went into camps in various parts of the city and its suburbs. The Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company, under their protection, put its trains into motion, and a meeting of the citizens was held endorsing the warlike action taken by the mayor's posse and pledging firm support to the city authorities in behalf of law and order. Despite the powerful protection now afforded to those who desired to engage at their old pursuits, none of the miners returned to work and the mine pumps were still operated by engineers, clerks and bosses, and it was menacingly said that grass would grow in the mines and water flow from the mouths of the shafts before work would be resumed at the old rate of wages. At one o'clock on the 3rd a meeting of at least 5,000 miners and other workmen was held in the woods, at which a committee of six was appointed who sought and obtained an interview with the governor in his car, which resulted in nothing more than a friendly advisory talk to the committee, as the representatives of a great body of strikers, by the governor, who, as representative of the state, could not act as arbitrator in such a matter.

The excitement caused by the miners' riot and their encounter with the mayor's posse continued for some time. In spite of the protection afforded by the soldiers the workmen returned to their labor in the various industrial establishments slowly, being afraid of the miners, whose attitude was defiant and determined. A meeting of delegates from every mine in the section was held at Scranton, to appoint a general executive committee and form plans to secure a perfect unity of action among the strikers, so that the men in all directions would simultaneously resume work in all of the mines whenever the time for resumption should be declared. On the 7th a large store was opened by the miners' executive committee to relieve the immediate necessities of such of their families as might suffer for food, and it was soon filled with provisions. By the friendly cooperation of businessmen in the city and elsewhere, and the farmers throughout the section, trains were placed at their disposal, and donations of potato patches and other crops were made, and many miners went to the country in gangs to work and receive their pay in provisions. Information was received on the 7th of intended depredations by the strikers, and a double guard was placed on duty in all parts of the city. Meetings of miners were held at night in the woods round about, and rocket signals were sent up occasionally from every hill.

In the meantime a despicable effort had been made by the friends of the rioters who had been killed to be revenged on the members of the mayor's posse. A coroner's jury, composed of sympathizers with the miners, held an inquest on the bodies, and August 8th returned a verdict of willful murder against the members of the posse; and the alderman who had acted as coroner issued warrants for the arrest of six of the accused and placed them in the hands of the constables for immediate service. T.F. Hunt (who was not a member of the posse but against whom the charge had probably been urged by an enemy) was arrested at his residence that evening, with Mr. C.F. Chittenden, and they would have been taken to the 6th ward, the most lawless part of the city, had they not been rescued from the constables by soldiers, at the insistence of General Huidekoper, and conveyed to military headquarters, where they were protected during the night. The next day they were handed over to the sheriff and, with a majority of the members of the "citizen's" party, were taken by special train to Wilkes-Barre, where they gave bail. Upon trial they were acquitted. A number of the more prominent strikers were also arrested, but none were punished; all aggressive measures were abandoned on both sides, and in time the rancorous animosity which had been engendered died out. Had Messrs. Hunt and Chittenden fallen into the power of the friends of the dead rioters, who were likely numerous in the 6th ward, it is not unlikely they would have been murdered.

Jubilee History of Lackawanna County Pennsylvania

Hyde Park - (From Murphy’s History of Hyde Park)

Rev. William Bishop came about 1794 and built himself a house (Main and Price streets). A Mr. Lindley a few years before that (1790), made a clearing and erected a log cabin (Main and Washburn streets). Joseph Fellows in 1794 erected his log home on a bluff overlooking the river (Scranton and Seventh streets), and two years later threw a single span bridge across the stream on the site of the present gas house bridge. Preserved Taylor and Holden Tripp had taken title to land, now part of Swetland-Pettibone estate. Taylor’s home overlooked the meadow - covered by the Mt. Pleasant clump dump. Tripp’s place was northeast (near North Main Avenue and Pettibone Street). In lower Hyde Park Reuben Taylor had a holding which extended across the river to where it joined with John Abbott’s land in the Hollow. The Dolph’s-Moses, Jonathan and Aaron are also recorded as settling in Hyde Park in 1795. Moses, near Main and Luzerne streets where Benjamin Fellows later lived, Aaron, midway between Scranton and Washburn streets and Jonathan, corner of Main and Washburn streets.

But one road traversed the westerly side of the valley in early days. That appears to be along the present day Ninth Avenue. In 1790 the course of the road was changed to approximately the Main Avenue of today. From Slocum Hollow a road led across Fellows’ (gas house) bridge up Scranton Street to the main highway. Benjamin Fellows, son of Joseph, related that in 1804 he shot both panthers and bears in the woods between Hyde Park and Slocum Hollow and that as late as 1816 he had often seen fifty wild turkeys in a flock feeding on the stubble in his father’s field while deer tramped over the plowed fields like herds of sheep.

A new influx of settlers came to the region in the first quarter of a century, when the Washburns, Heermans, Griffins, Knapps and Merrifields, purchased land in what is now central Hyde Park. In Keyser Valley the Briggs family started in to win a living from the soil. In 1820 Calvin Washburn purchased 156 acres of land for $885 or &5.67 per acre. During the decade between 1820 and 1840, Hyde Park made slow growth. Hon William Merrifield had succeeded in getting a post office, the White and Red Taverns had established reputations as places of entertainment, but with all that the land remained untenanted. Mr. Washburn is said to have brought the first wagon into the valley. Food stuffs were drawn on stone boats from Pittston and Wilkes-Barre up to the time Mr. Merrifield opened the first store in the village in 1834. The store was located about opposite the present day Simpson M.E. Church on North Main Avenue. There Mr. Merrifield conducted business until 1864.

Along about 1840 Philip Heermans, Mr. Washburn, the Fellows heirs and Mr. Merrifield began to cut their broad acres up into lots, one to five acres and dispose of them. The starting of the blast furnaces and iron mills in Slocum Hollow and later the building of the railroad and opening of the mines gave Hyde Park its first impetus.

Dr. B.H. Throop about 1863 purchased more than 125 acres extending from Hyde Park Avenue west to Keyser Creek, cut the land up into building lots, marked out streets and entered into the business of selling Hyde Park home sites. Mr. Merrifield and Mr. Heermans had done the same thing in lower Hyde Park. The Fellows estate sold off tracts in Bellevue and Park Hill. The Washburn farm in time was also cut up and sold to eager prospective home owners.

Hon. William Merrifield more than any other man is given credit for having interested William Henry, the Scranton’s and Sanford Grant in the possibilities of Slocum Hollow as an iron manufacturing and coal mining center. In 1838 Mr. Merrifield, William Ricketson and Zenos Albro came into possession of some 500 acres of land in Slocum Hollow, the very heart of the present central city. This tract they sold to Mr. Henry and the Scranton’s. Mr. Henry during his residence in this region loved on Hyde Park Avenue.

Territorially Hyde Park of today is considerably larger than what was known as Hyde Park Borough. The borough only took in the territory bounded on the north by Pettibone Street, on the south by Landis Street, east by the river and west by Keyser Creek. The back valley and West Park, now part of Hyde Park, were in Providence township. Lincoln and Bellevue Heights were added by annexation from Lackawanna Township.

When Hyde Park, in 1866, merged with Providence and Scranton to form the present city, that section was split up into three wards - 4th, 5th and 6th. The boundary of these words were: 4th ward, all that territory northeast of Jackson Street and the road leading to Scranton (lower Scranton Street); 5th ward. That portion of the borough lying southwest of Jackson Street and west of the Lackawanna and Bloomsburg tracts; 6th ward, all of the present 6th and 18th wards (not including the Bellevue Heights later annexed). The three original wards have grown to eight - 4th, 5th, 6th, 14th, 15th, 18th, 21st and 22nd.

Development of anthracite mining made Hyde Park. Prior to the locating of the steel mills in the Hollow, the building of Leggett’s Gap (northern Division D.L. & W.) Railroad, and the opening of the coal mines there wasn’t much more than a name to Hyde Park. No section of Scranton has furnished more coal than Hyde Park, which in some places is underlaid with 60 feet of the purest anthracite. Hyde Park is proud of the role mining has played in the building up of Scranton. Many of the big men of the section in the past 65 years, like Benjamin Hughes, Col. R.A. Phillips and Hon. Thomas Phillips, have been men of the mines. They lived and labored in Hyde Park and for Hyde Park.

The Park Coal Company’s slope, a Joseph Fellow’s operation, it is generally accepted, was the first mine opened in Hyde Park. The slope penetrated “School Fund” coal and was located near the present O. & W. freight station. This operation was later called the Cork and Bottle and was owned by the former Sheriff A.B. Stevens. Prior to that early venture it was understood that a slope was driven into the hillside under Fairview Avenue. Whatever coal was taken out was only for local consumption.

The Mt. Pleasant shaft was opened about 1852. John Lewis, about 1852, secured a lease on the coal in the William Swetland tract. Eventually, he took Daniel Howell, his brother-in-law, into partnership. Mr. Lewis and his family occupied the little house located on the northeast corner of Main Avenue and Howell Street, afterwards used as a private school. In 1877 W.T. Smith secured control of the property by purchase from Mr. Howell. The operation is now owned by the Scranton Coal Company.

The first steam operated coal breaker in the valley was the Diamond. One of the early mining tragedies in the region was on May 21, 1863, when the Diamond cage rope broke and 13 men were killed.

One of the very earliest industries in Hyde Park was the Scranton City Foundry and Machine Works (Finch Manufacturing Co.), established along the railroad north of Lackawanna Avenue in 1855 by A.P. Finch, prominent for many years in Hyde Park business and civic affairs. The Scranton Stove Works, now located in Dunmore, first began in Hyde Park in 1865. Their foundry and assembling plant was located on the southerly side of the West Lackawanna Avenue, between Seventh Avenue and Dockash Place. Later the McClave & Brooks Company had a foundry nearby. The Price and Swan lumber yards adjoined the stove works.

The Washburn Street (Protestant) and Cathedral (catholic) cemeteries are the two oldest public burial places in the city. A number of the victims of the Avondale disaster are buried in Washburn Street Cemetery. Cathedral Cemetery is the last resting place of John Mitchell, the great leader of the mine workers. The Fellows family cemetery was located on South Main Avenue. Some years ago the bodies were removed and the plot given for a city park. The Heermans family cemetery was on Robinson Street near the intersection of Ninth Avenue. The bodies were long ago removed. Years ago there was a Protestant cemetery in what was known as mullen field near the Diamond shaft. The Briggs family cemetery was in the back valley not far from the Briggs shaft.

No section of Scranton has more or a greater variety of churches than Hyde Park. There are English, German, Welsh, Italian, Polish, Russian, Lithuanian, Ruthenian, Syrian and Mormon churches. In addition there is a Salvation Army Barracks and a Volunteers of America Mission.

Hyde Park can not only claim supremacy in the number of churches but it can also truthfully be said that section of the city is the very cradle of religion in the valley. In Hyde Park in 1794 Rev. William Bishop, a Baptist minister, the first ordained clergyman here, built himself a log house near the corner of what is now Main Avenue and Price Street. While Providence claims the distinction of having the first house of religious worship the honor may well go to Hyde Park. The Providence church was built in 1833-34, but occupied only a few weeks when destroyed by a cyclone. A Christian church was erected on land on South Main Avenue and Division Street, where Dr. J.D. Jenkins now lives, in 1836. Calvin Washburn had donated land for the purpose on April 4, 1883.

Although long since out of existence the old Welsh Philosophical Society is lovingly recalled by many West Scranton people. Organized in the sixties by leading Welsh citizens of Hyde Park the society continued in existence until about twenty years ago. The society has its quarters in the Banner America block on South Main Avenue. There discussions and debates on all questions of the day were carried on which stirred and interested the whole community. Membership in the organization was looked upon as a badge of standing. Nearly every prominent old Hyde Parker of Welsh blood or ancestry was a member at one time or another. Educationally, the Welsh Philosophical Society was a tremendous factor, socially it was a leader. A good number of Hyde Parkers owe their prominence, in part, at least, to reputations acquired on Philosophical Society discussions. With the passing of years and the injection of new blood into the organization the society changed its name to the Hyde park Literary and Debating Society. Finally a waning interest prompted the few remaining members 20 years or so ago, before disbanding, to donate the society’s collection of books and pamphlets to the Scranton Public Library. A condition of the gift was that a branch of the library should always be maintained in Hyde Park, so that to the Welsh Philosophical Society Hyde Park people owe the present branch of the library.

Jeff’s note: Unfortunately, over the years, the valuable holdings of the Welsh Philosophical Society have been lost. Although they were originally set up in the library as outlined above, it is thought that much of the collection was eventually sold to private collectors for profit by unscrupulous individuals.

In the sixties, Welsh and English miners in Hyde Park familiar with the workings of co-operative societies in their native land, organized a co-operative association. The association was chartered Feb. 27, 1867. A store was opened, later a fine building known to this day as Co-operative Hall, erected at 124-126 North Main Avenue. The purpose of the venture was to reduce the cost of living. For a time the business succeeded. Trading was limited to members in the association. Strikes and industrial depression in the seventies, with little or no work in the mines, was too much for the co-operative store and it was forced out of business. The hall property remained in possession of the association for many years. The association disbanded eventually. The late William B. Daniels, later clerk of the counts, was one of the managers of the store.

Learn more about the Brynmawr - Scranton connection
Return to the John J. Thomas page
Return to the main page at the Thomas Family Web Site

Text and photographs copyright © by Jeffrey L. Thomas, with all rights reserved
e-mail: jltbalt1@verizon.net