Mail Time at Morris Run
Postcard from Joan NASH O'Dell
|Historical Highlights of Morris Run
Morris Run, Pennsylvania
From the Press of the Wellsboro
Gazette, July 3, 1932
Morris Run’s One Hundredth
Birthday, July 3-4-5-6, 1932
The discovery of coal in Tioga County exerted a profound influence upon the complexion of all northern and western Pennsylvania, for it brought to this then new and promising domain the sturdy Welsh, the thrifty Scotch, the energetic Irish, and then in later years, many fine Polish and Swedish families. From Tioga County, representatives of these prolific families migrated to the coal and iron fields of the western and northwestern sections of the state, and thence even further afield.
Today, not only Tioga, Bradford, and Lycoming counties, but Jefferson, Clearfield, Cambria, Allegheny and many other Pennsylvania counties are filled with the descendants of those families whom made Morris Run, Fall Brook, Antrim, Arnot or Blossburg their initial homes in a new world. Names that are today written high on the rolls of industry, commerce, and the professions are the same names that were known with respect in the Morris Run of a hundred years ago.
Great impetus was given the growth of the new county of Tioga by the development and discovery of the Morris Run mines, and industry throughout the east benefited by Morris Run’s production. Its name was one to stand with the foremost among coal producing centers.
But it is back to the stable culture of the early Morris Run settlers themselves that much of the success of their sons and grandsons may be traced. Lacking in modern educational methods, this community made much of the few schools it did afford, but based its learning mostly in the study of the bible. Churches were from the first a dominant influence, and the veneration in which the church was always held in this community is exemplified this week in the Silver Jubilee of the Polish congregation. Singing schools and night schools were periodical educational or social projects. The church has been continuous and effective.
That the world, and the descendants of Morris Run families in particular, may not forget the picture of their native heath, the editors of this book present with some little pride and much trepidation, their summary of the history of outstanding men and moments in Morris Run.
May the future be kind to coal and coal towns, everywhere, and may the sons and daughters of Morris Run continue to uphold the splendid records they have made, not forgetting, if we need remind them, the community that their forefathers carved from the coal of Tioga County.
1832 ----- MORRIS RUN ------- 1932
The story of Morris Run is the story of coal, and of the men whose lives revolved about the mining and production of coal. Eons of primordial vegetation and ages of cosmic change in an unpeopled universe were required to produce the mineral deposits which centuries later brought to mankind those prime factors of civilization - - warmth and comfort. These ages, too, prepared the way for the birth of Morris Run and hundreds of communities like it.
To conceive of those prehistoric times is almost beyond the ken of us today, but in the shadow of their misty background, the year 1792, when George Washington was beginning his second term as president of the United States, and northern Pennsylvania was still a wilderness, seems but a decade ago.
Coal Discovered at Blossburg, 1792
It was in August of that year that a party of German and English immigrants led by two noted Revolutionary soldiers, now attached to the "Indian Scouts" paused on their wilderness trek from Williamsport to Bath, N.Y., and made camp along the Tioga River at a spot where now stands the town of Blossburg. Because the center of the camp was the "kitchen" where a harried, grease-laden cook named Peters held forth, they named their stopping place Peters Camp. While the camp was being set up and arranged for the night, Robert and Benjamin Patterson, the leaders of the party, struck off into the nearby hills in search of game and fuel. When they returned they bore in their hands a hard, black, mineral substance.
"Coal" cried the immigrants, for many of them had come from portions of England and Germany where this fuel was highly prized. "Good coal" said the Patterson brothers, and they tested it to see if it would burn.
Soon Peters Camp broke up. The cavalcade went on to settle Bath, N.Y., and the story that coal had been found in the mountains of northern Pennsylvania was carried back to the Philadelphia capitalists who owned much of the land, but even more important for our purposes, to the friends and relatives of the immigrants who had remained in the old country.
Things moved slowly in the day when roads were few and means of communication limited, and a decade passed before the veins of black diamonds in Pennsylvania’s hills were touched. In the meantime, America was on the move and settlers from Vermont and Connecticut began to find their way across New York state and up the Tioga River where they settled. Other migratory souls pushed up the trail that later became the Williamson Road and struck the headwaters of the Tioga. Benjamin and Samuel Morris bought Philadelphia
families to see the wilds of Northern Pennsylvania, and settlements appeared where the Seneca Indians had once held sway.
Tioga County Formed, 1804
In 1784, a vast tract including what is now Lycoming, Tioga, Jefferson, McKean, and Potter counties had been purchased from the Indians and attached to Northumberland County.
In a few years the settlements increased to such an extent that in 1795 the Northumberland County Court granted a petition for the organization of Lycoming Township; bounded on the north by the State of New York, east by Lycoming Creek, west by Pine Creek, and south by the Susquehanna River. Later in the same year this territory was organized into Lycoming County. In the year 1797, Tioga Township was organized as a district of Lycoming County. On March 26, 1804, by an act of legislature the counties of Jefferson, McKean, Potter, and Tioga were formed out of Lycoming County. The affairs of each county were placed in the hands of three trustees appointed by the Governor, Benjamin W. Morris, for various reasons, at once proposed to convey a certain number of acres to the trustees of Tioga county on which to locate the county buildings. The offer was accepted and on March 21, 1806, an act was approved fixing the seat of justice at Wellsboro, making it the county seat.
Shortly before Tioga became a county in itself, a Connecticut Yankee named Aaron Bloss, came down to the site of Peters Camp and settled. Here, in 1802, he established a hotel, for the trail that the immigrants had followed was becoming a popular one.
David Clemons First Producer in 1806-1815
Aaron Bloss was followed by David Clemons, who wanted to exploit the coal, which he heard was to be found in the mountains near Peters Camp. David Clemons opened a little drift on Bear Creek, mined small quantities of coal, and for want of a market nearer him, hauled it overland to Painted Post, N.Y., nearly 40 miles away, where he sold it. David Clemons thus became the first man to produce coal in Tioga County. He was a Vermonter, well-educated, and the forebear of a family well-known throughout this section. He died February 2, 1867. His coal operations, which took place between 1806 and 1815, were not extensive, but they were the first, and they attracted the attention of capitalists in New York State and Philadelphia.
Aaron Bloss, too, opened a vein of coal, but worked it only desultorily, largely for purposes of exploration. His vein, the "Bloss vein", later became one of the most important producers in the history of the Tioga County coalfields. It was on the lands of Aaron Bloss that David Clemons opened his mines. Aaron Bloss died April 17, 1839.
Judge John H. Knapp, of Elmira, N.Y., was probably the first capitalist to become interested in the coal of Tioga County. About 1825 he opened and operated a mine 280 feet above the level of the bridge at Blossburg, and worked in connection with it the iron deposits of the area. Judge Knapp collaborated with other capitalists to form companies to work in the Tioga County field, and continued in his endeavors until his health failed.
From 1815 to 1841 the fortunes of the Tioga County coal lay in the hands of the legislatures of New York and Pennsylvania, and the scene of action changed to private homes, hotel rooms, and legislative chambers where a group of pioneer industrialists worked diligently to secure the most needed requisite to the development of Tioga County coal.
Transportation ----- 1841
They wanted transportation. The market for coal was not in Tioga County, where civilization had not yet progressed to the stage of manufacturing. The market was in New York State, which had no coal, but which had mills and homes and railroads. When this agitation began, the Tioga Navigation Company was incorporated in February, 1826, with the purpose of building a canal to ship coal from Blossburg to Corning. When, in 1841, the purpose of the movement had been achieved, it was a railroad, 40 miles long, from Blossburg to Corning, which stood ready to haul Tioga County’s coal to market. It was one of the longest railroads in the world at that time.
John L. Sexton, one of the leading historians of this county, names the following men as leaders in this movement: Aaron Bloss of Blossburg; Samuel W. Morris of Wellsboro; Edwin Dyer and Thomas Putnam of Covington; Amos Spencer of Canoe Camp; Asa Mann of Mansfield; William Willard, Thomas Berry,
Elijah DePue, and James Goodrich of Tioga; Curtis Parkhurst, John Ryon, James Powers, and Simeon Powers of Lawrenceville; Robert Patterson, the pioneer of 1792, and his sons Benjamin and Samuel Patterson, Benjamin Harrower, Joseph W. Ryers, G. Adrian Ryers, and Theodore Mercereau of Lindley; Laurin Mallory, Nelson Somers, Silas Gorton, and John and Thomas McBurney of Corning; John Winters and John L. Sexton of Big Flats; Hiram Grey, William Maxwell, and Jay Cooley of Elmira; Vincent Conklin and Honorable Jacob Westlake of Horseheads; Elijah Sexton, Jabez Bradley, and Erastus Crandall of Pine Valley; Dr. Watkins of Watkins; William Dezang of Geneva; Horatio Seymour of Utica; Erastus Corning and Thomas W. Olcott of Albany.
Samuel W. Morris of Philadelphia owned a large tract land in Tioga County. He founded Wellsboro and he watched with interest the development of this area. In 1832 he sent an engineer named Richard C. Taylor to survey the route for the proposed railroad, and to make to him a report on the coal lands near Blossburg.
Samuel Morris had a number of things in the county named for his family. There was Morris, later a great lumber town, and there was Morris Run, a stream running southwest from Bradford County into the Tioga River near Blossburg. Up Morris Run toward it headwaters went Richard Taylor. He found coal. His discovery was the first that had been made in that sector of the county, and it meant that a new area could be added to the Tioga County coal fields.
Discovery at Morris Run
An abandoned drift along Morris Run, just east of the town itself, now stands to mark the spot where Richard Taylor found pure coal cropping out along the stream bank. For many years this drift was operated by the various companies at Morris Run.
Taylor’s report, which was published in 1833, has been found in later practice to have been remarkably accurate, but with the completion of the much sought Corning to Blossburg railroad, the coal industry was centered at Blossburg, and mining activity ties remained centered there until about 1852, when the Tioga Improvement Company was organized to conduct further surveys and operations in the Morris Run area.
In 1853 this company opened the mines at Morris Run, and a village sprang into existence. First superintendent of the company was John Young. James Brown, Peter Cameron Jr. (a brother of the late Honorable David Cameron) and Henry J. Landrus were weighmasters. The office of the company was located at Blossburg, while the superintendent occupied one of the sixteen log houses, which had been erected at Morris Run. According to available records, the first settlers of Morris Run, who dwelt in the log homes raised by the Tioga Improvement Company, included the following: Joseph and Henry Mitchell, James R. Cameron, Joseph Hughes, Frank Smith, Samuel Vickers, John Nailor, William Kelley, Andrew Baird, William R. Gilmour, Dennis Mooney, John Kelley, William Bland, and James Brown. Nearly all of these men and their families were recent arrivals from England, Scotland, Wales, or Ireland. Nearly all of them have left descendants who still live in Tioga County and who occupy important positions here and at other points in the state. Later came the Pollocks, the Watchmans, the Dunsmores, the Jenkins, O’Donnells, Edwards, Harris, Jones, Maxwells, and Davises. Many another name might be mentioned of those who were among the first to work in the coal at Morris Run, but space will not permit. In the story of the building of this community more names shall be included.
One of the first civic accomplishments of these stalwart miners was the organization of a church. Not three years after the mines were opened, services began in the First Presbyterian Church of Morris Run, with a membership composed of most of the Scotch folk of the town. They were: Alexander and Jean Pollock, James and Marion Brown, Andrew and Catherine Baird, John and Janet Dunsmore, William and Jane Gilmour, William and Catherine Watchman, John and Elizabeth Baird, James Morrison, Mrs. Mary Young, and Mrs. Mary Rodolph. Reverend Sidney Mills was acting pastor. Except for a five-year lapse from 1859 to 1864, the Presbyterian Church, in one form or another, continued in Morris Run until its membership drifted away into Arnot in about 1877.
According to an entry in the minutes of the old Tioga Improvement Company, in the year 1852, the following were officers of the company: W.E. Morris, president; Charles Ellis, treasurer; and William Ellis, secretary. All were Philadelphians, and their meetings were long held in the Merchants Exchange Building there. Their holdings in the coal lands of Tioga County were vast, and their other interests wide-spread. 323,174 tons of coal was mined by this company. February 17, 1863 they leased to the Salt Company, of Onondaga, N.Y., the privilege of mining coal in the Morris Run area. George F. Comstock, probably of Syracuse, was president of this company. Many new dwellings and much new mine machinery were erected by this company, and the field of operations in the mines was extended. John J. Davis, who later worked under Morris Run Coal Company, was superintendent for this concern, and to him goes the credit of introducing the use of mules to haul the coal from the mines. This work, hitherto, had been accomplished by young lads who pushed the loaded cars out of the mines. Davis also opened the East and Salt Lake drifts, and advocated the use of the "T" rail for mine tramways.
The Salt Lake drift, interestingly enough, was not so called because of the Salt Company, nor because of the findings of salt water, but because an old miner from Utah who was in charge of its construction, was dubbed "Old Salt Lake" by the miners, and "Old Salt Lake’s Drift" soon became contracted to simply "Salt Lake Drift".
During the same year that it leased the coal lands to Onondaga’s Salt Company for operation, Tioga Improvement Company leased to James P. Haskin other lands in that section for the mining of coal, subject to the lease of the Salt Company, and 1864 saw the first mention of Morris Run in the name of the operating company there, when, on October 3, James P. Haskin, as president; John Dee, as treasurer; L. Gleason and Thomas T. Davis, as directors; incorporated the Morris Run Coal Company.
It is interesting to note that as far back as 1839 a charter for a mining company to be known as the Morris Run Coal Company had been secured by Judge Samuel W. Morris, and that the Tioga Improvement Company, in a meeting held at the Merchants Exchange, in Philadelphia, July 7, 1852, seventy years ago this week, considered the uses to which that charter might be put for their purposes.
Apparently it wasn’t long before an altercation arose between the two companies at Morris Run. Tradition has it that to settle a dispute as to the ownership of a large section of territory, it was decided that the miners of the opposing companies should start two headings, the first to intersect the others line to claim all the territory back of its own heading, In this way one heading became known as the "Race Drift".
Regardless of settlements made at Morris Run, in 1866, an agreement was made between Morris Run Coal Company and the Salt Mine Company, whereby the Salt Company withdrew from coal operating at Morris Run, and the Morris Run Coal Company agreed to furnish all coal for the plants of the former company at Coal Point, Watkins, N.Y. on Seneca Lake, where it was carried by barges to the mills of the Onondaga group.
It was under the control of the Morris Run Coal Company that W.S. Nearing, one of the most colorful figures in the history of Tioga County’s coal, came to the fore.
Historical Highlights of
Morris Run, Pennsylvania
From the Press of the Wellsboro
Gazette, July 3, 1932
Morris Run’s One Hundredth
Birthday, July 3-4-5-6, 1932
(pages 7 to 13)
The Regime of Nearing
Hired as a civil and mining engineer, W.S. Nearing was given full control as superintendent within the same year, and for forty-three years he ruled the town of Morris Run almost as a benevolent despot. To him were brought the disputes of his employees, and he settled them with the same dispatch and efficiency that he settle matters of moment in the operation of his mines. Chary of the welfare of his men, he caused every possible safety device to be installed in the mines, and worked consistently toward improving the system of production. He knew his men and he knew his work. That he respected education was evidenced by his interest in establishing schools and providing teachers. Under his tutelage many first class miners became first class superintendents and officials for this and other companies.
Morris Run Coal Company, with Nearing at the helm, numbered many a man among its employees who became well known throughout this country and state, and many who were strong figures in the industry. Well known was Patrick F. O’Donnell, for many years cashier and paymaster for this company, and its successor. His sons, William, John, and Robert, later successful coal operators and prominent Tioga Countians, were also company employees. Others were William Tipton, Homer C. Treat, Thomas V. Keefe, James Hadley, Michael Driscoll, Campbell Haddow, John Palmer, John Hayes, and Henry Holland.
During the regime of Morris Run Coal Company, schools and lodges were formed, and the town took on more and more the semblance of a permanent community. Honorable David Cameron, later judge of Tioga County for many years, taught night school and worked in the mines in Morris Run to pay his way through Mansfield Normal. He tells in his recollections of the teachers who came and went, depending for their tenure upon the disposition of the "big boys" of the school, and eking out their meager salaries by "boarding round". Ralph E. Cross, a learned geologist, as well as a schoolteacher, was one of the first of these instructors, Judge Cameron said, and one of the ablest.
The early circuses, like Dan Rice’s, provided entertainment during the summer, while the winter found the good folk of the community gathered into singing schools and church groups. One of the most amusing characters of the coal fields in this country was Asa G. Churchill, of Blossburg, who traveled from town to town earning a living at the trade of shoemaker, but making his greatest reputation when, from the lantern lit back of a wagon, he would improvise endless jingles about the people and the things of the community in which he was working. Some of Churchill’s poems were published, but copies of his "collected works" are few.
In 1864, a hotel called the Hamilton House was opened, with Frederick Caldwell as the first landlord. This hotel prospered under various owners for many years. Some time later, Matthew Waddell kept a "temperance" house at Morris Run.
Where there were men at work in the mines, and women and children living in a busy town, medical attention was a real necessity, but the first doctor of record in Morris Run was Dr. William Caldwell, who came there in 1867. Later physicians were Dr. Charles Drake, Dr. W.W. Williams, Dr. Smythe, Dr. Kilbourn, and Dr. M.L. Bacon, later of Wellsboro.
Rapid Growth Is Shown
1874 found a population of 2,350 people in the twenty year old coal town, dwelling in 356 houses, most of which were owned by the company. George Magee owned the general store, which was run by M. Tucker as agent, and Abernathy and Company were the owners of a meat market and wholesale liquor store.
More rapid communications to further the efficiency of the mines was provided in 1879, when on September 23 the following men incorporated the Tioga and Morris Run Telegraph Company: W.S. Nearing, A.J. Owen, Anton Hardt, Alonzo H. Gorton, and George R. Bowen.
The years of the Civil War and just prior thereto were prosperous ones for the coal men, and for the miners. The demand for coal steadily increased, and despite the fact that the coal areas of the nation were being constantly expanded the pioneer fields of Blossburg and Morris Run had a steady market for the high quality coal they mined. Duncan S. Magee of the Fall Brook company had done a great work in persuading locomotives on the growing railroad systems to use coal instead of wood in their boilers, and a huge and advancing market was thus opened. Publicity handled by John L. Sexton, lobbying among the companies, by a committee headed by Honorable Horatio Seymour, of Utica, N.Y., and practical demonstration by William and James Green, were the weapons used in this battle for progress.
When the war came on, additional markets were opened up, and times were good in the mining sections. It was during this period that one of the first miner’s unions was organized under the name of the Miners and Laborers Benevolent Union, and the activities of this group aided in maintaining a high wage scale. As the boom continued, more and more people came to Morris Run, Fall Brook, Arnot, and Blossburg to join in the prosperity of the coal business. Houses were at a premium.
So scarce were houses, in fact, that some of the miners, who worked at Morris Run, lived in houses at Fall Brook, and Fall Brook Coal Company miners were to be found living at Morris Run. Strong business rivals, neither Morris Run Coal Company nor Fall Brook Coal Company relished this situation, and notice was soon served on the miners that they must surrender their homes as soon as their contracts with the respective companies ceased. The air was charged with trouble. Agitation was rife, and when in 1865, the sheriff of Tioga County, Leroy Tabor, with a posse of 200 men, came to eject the stubborn occupants of the houses, trouble descended. Scenes of violence were witnessed, and the governor, Andrew Gregg Curtin, sent a detail of the famous Bucktail regiment to quell the disturbance and finish the job. The offending miners were shipped to Blossburg, and before long, the strike was called off.
This was the first important strike in the history of the operations at Morris Run. Others followed in 1873, when a business depression caused a reduction in work; in 1879 when a pick-up in business made the miners ask for higher pay; and again in 1890 and 1894 when, because of the strikes, the miners lost much time and money, and the companies many good contracts. It has been said that conditions were never the same after these two disturbances. A notable strike occurred in 1904. On the whole, however, cooperation between the miners and operators has been better than the average in Morris Run, especially so during the last 25 years.
Sweden and Poland Send Citizens
The years following the Civil War saw a gradual change taking place in the complexion of Morris Run’s population. Added to the Scotch, the Irish, the English, and the Welsh, were now the immigrants from Sweden and Poland. Because of the abundance of labor in Morris Run and Blossburg, and the other coal towns of the county, they settled there, and brought their families. They too, brought with them, Old World traits that were of value to the new American communities, and they developed into good citizens, becoming naturalized as the opportunity presented itself, and organized churches and schools.
More than any other groups, the Swedish, the Polish, and the Welsh citizens made an effort to maintain the identity of their native tongue and their native history. This was accomplished through the schools held under the auspices of the church, and through the conducting of church services in the native tongue of the congregation. Today, it is the Polish and Swedish people who form the bulk of the population in Morris Run and Hamilton townships. Their names mingle with those of the Scotch, Welsh, and Irish on the various governmental boards and business concerns.
The Polish and Swedish people were musically inclined, and enjoyed groups of singers and musicians. On September 1, 1887, the First Polish Band was organized with Thomas V. Keefe as director. Among the first members were: Stan Lukaszewicz, Peter Wisniewski, Theo. Ryngwalski, Michael Witucki, Geo.Jankowski, John Welniak, Joe Kujawa, Jan Jankowski, Thomas Cichowhas, Marcin Jerzak, Jan Jerzak, Anthony Matusjak, Joe Welniak, Chas. Rucki, Andrew Bubacz, Jan Przygoda, Martin Zeporowski, John Chrzan, Peter Wiecjorek, John Zaporowski, Peter Strong, Ignacy Bednarek, William Strong, and Thomas V. Keefe, director.
Bands and Baseball
One of the most famed of the Morris Run musical organizations was the Cornet Band, which, organized in 1887, is pictured together with the Polish and Swedish bands on another page of this book. In the Cornet Band picture, standing, left to right, are: John Reid, H.A. Munro, John Waddell, Sam Woodhouse, Sandy Woodhouse, William Hayes, Ed. St. Peter, William Woodhouse, Robert Waddell, Donald Curry, John MacLaughlin. First row: James Woodhouse, Thomas V. Keefe, Robert McBlane, William MacLaughlin.
Skilled musicians, and popular throughout the county, was the Morris Run Swedish Band, which was organized in 1910. Pictured here, the band members were (standing, left to right): John Johnson, Emil Olson, Frank Higland, Thomas Carlson, Carl Nelson, William Eckman, Adolph Olson, John Patterson, Charles Larson, Arthur Patterson, Otto Patterson, Eli Johnson, Frank Johnson, Hjalmer Isaacson, Willard Olson, Augustine Johnson, Edwin Forsberg, Leonard Orton. (Seated): Carl Patterson, John Swanson.
Athletics played a great part in the affairs of the Morris Run Community, and to this day, baseball teams and other athletic groups representing the town are formidable opposition for any of the best teams in this section. Foot racing and track events, feats of strength, and similar activities were outstanding in the field of athletics of long ago, but one of the best remembered of the early athletic clubs was the "Social Baseball Club of Morris Run" which, in 1877, made a fine record as a team. In he picture shown on another page, the following appear: (Seated) Husted, pitcher; Evans, catcher and captain; F. Nearing, right field; Heron, second base; L. Nearing, first base; (Standing) Kelly, short stop; Kruger, center field; T.G. Dallman, president; Blake, third base; and Shea, left field.
In the meantime, Morris Run Coal Mining Company, an operating company controlled by Miller and Dennison, of Corning, N.Y., had assumed control of the Morris Run coal fields, but the change in personnel so slight that little difference could be noted. The O’Donnells, William Tipton, Thomas V. Keefe, and the others were still at their posts, and William S. Nearing was in the saddle as superintendent. This change took place in 1877, and a great deal of coal was mined. Seven thousand acres of land were under control of Morris Run Coal Mining Company, and by 1894, 709 men, 522 of them miners, were in their employ.
In 1904, records state that 15,000,000 tons of coal had been taken from the Morris Run mines.
Now, although the half century had seen the names of several companies come and go above the mines at Morris Run, Tioga Improvement Company had been the land owning concern, and each of the succeeding Morris Run coal companies had been operating units, working the mines under lease from Tioga Improvement Company.
The New Era
In June 1909, nearly eighty years after Richard Taylor noted coal outcrops along the banks of Morris Run, T.S. Barber and Associates, of Wilkes Barre, took complete control of the Morris Run Coal Mining Company, acquiring all rights of the Tioga Improvement Company and the operating companies then interested.
From 1909 to 1912, Morris Run Coal Mining Company was under the management of James B. Neal, and Malcolm McDougal, successor to William S. Nearing, was superintendent.
That was the beginning of a new era at Morris Run. Immediately steps were taken to improve the conditions of the mines by centralizing operations. In July of the year 1912, Theodore A. Schmidt and his assistant, John C. Thiemann, came from Wilkes-Barre to make extensive surveys inside and outside of the mines. In May of 1913, Charles G. Morgan succeeded Malcolm McDougal as superintendent of operations. The following year a new tipple replaced the old one, the endless rope haulage was replaced by electric haulage motors, and wherever possible, electric motors replaced mule haulage.
In rapid succession, the old colliery buildings gave way to modern, permanent brick and concrete structures.
Morris Run Coal Mining Company now rejoices in the ownership of a single mule, named "Mabel".
Coal is prepared for market in three sizes: furnace size, two to four inches; range size, three-quarters to two inches; and fine, under three-quarter inches. All this is done by means of a modern washery which was built for the purpose.
Extensive improvements inside and outside of the mine soon brought about new drifts of steel in place of the old timber ones, and many other renovations which were carried out in the interests of true permanency.
Prospecting and surveying of old workings proved large areas of unmined coal, and developments of the company were planned to utilize, so far as possible, the findings of these surveys.
Personnel of the Morris Run Coal Mining Company is as follows: President and General Manager, T.S. Barber; Secretary-Treasurer, C.H. Searles; Sales Manager, George Magee; Superintendent, Charles G. Morgan; Mining Engineer, Theodore A. Schmidt; Shipper, Samuel MacBlane; Inside Foreman, Robert B. Martin; Assistant Foreman, Frank Kurzejewski and Robert English.
Ellsworth Stores Inc., since 1849 the leading commercial enterprise in Morris Run, maintain an excellent general store and meat market. Although no industries other than mining are at present active in Morris Run, a building occupied in 1914-1926 by Leon Fernbach, a silk manufacturer, and later by the Aracoma Textile Company, is now used by the Morris Run Coal Mining Company for storage.
Two smaller mining concerns are operating for coal in Morris Run at the present date. One of them, Matthew Atkinson, became successor to O’Donnell Brothers, sons of the late Patrick F. O’Donnell, who operated their mines successfully from about 1905 to August, 1929, when they sold to Atkinson. Labuski Brothers operate a small mine, producing a good grade of run of the mine coal.
(Pages 14 to 20/end)
Morris Run’s churches are in an important factor and a driving force in the morale of the community. Generously supported by their parishioners, they work constantly for the betterment of the town. Their cooperation has been particularly notable in this centennial celebration.
Of unusual interest at this time is the history of St. Joseph’s Polish Catholic Church, which this week celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary.
St. Joseph’s Polish Church dates its existence from 1892, as one of the missions of St. Mary’s at Blossburg, Pa. This church was a temporary mission built by the late Reverend Theophilus Klownoski.
The mission was administered for fourteen years by the following pastors of St. Mary’s Church at Blossburg: Reverend T. Klownoski, 189201893; Reverend St. Siedlecki, 1893-1898; Reverend B. Dembinski, 1898-1902; Reverend B. Ivananarr, 1902-1906. During this time, and many years prior to this date, Polish immigration was exceptionally heavy, due to the fact that Poland was divided among the three great powers of Europe of that time, Germany, Austria, and Russia.
Among the numerous immigrants at that time, we find on records the name if the late Jacob Chiebawski, who made his permanent domicile in Morris Run in 1887.
The Polish Catholic population at this time was about 1500 souls. Two hundred parishioners attended St. Mary’s Church at Blossburg. For fourteen years the parishioners made desperate efforts to have a church and school and a resident pastor in Morris Run. Eventually their efforts, supplications, and ardent prayers were heard and their desires fulfilled in 1906. The parishioners at that time were both spiritually and financially strong enough to erect their own church, parochial school, and to have a resident pastor, instead of belonging as a mission to St. Mary’s and having services only twice or three times a week. With the permission of the late Bishop O’Hara, of Scranton, the corner stone was blessed and the present St. Joseph’s Church was built. The late Reverent T. Klownoski officiated at the first mass in 1893. During the space of time between 1902-1906 and the late Reverend Ivanowski administration, history marks the crisis of the struggle for social independence and an individual church during the eighteen-month strike in 1903. The result was that Reverend B. Ivanowski was transferred and Morris Run received a pastor exclusively for its parish.
In person, Reverend H. Blarzinski officiated the first mass on January 14, 1906 and his first baptism was Vincent Bejma on February 4, 1906, who today is a member of the Catholic Clergy of the Scranton Diocese, and was ordained May 21, 1932. The first marriage was that of M. Zarauski and Miss Johanna Hekta; while the first burial was Mrs. Victoria Pecyaska, the funeral being held March 9, 1906. At this time there was no rectory, so the Reverend Blarzinski and Reverend Wieszak lived in company houses. The late John Domaszewicz succeeded Reverend Weiszak and in 1910 built the present rectory and in 1912 was transferred to Eynon. He died in St. Stanislaus Orphanage, Nanticoke, in 1932. Later Reverend B. Walter and Reverend Eugene Helczynski labored very zealously for nearly ten years from 1914 to 1923. From 1923 to 1927, Reverend A. Lafaj was the first diocesan pastor who studied and was officially ordained for the diocese. His great work and sacrifice in his comparatively short stay marks the “Golden Age” of St. Joseph’s Parish history at Morris Run.
Reverend A. Lafaj renovated the church both in the interior and exterior. The rectory built by the late Reverend J. Domaszewicz was renovated and modern equipment was installed. Much credit is due to his ambitious leadership and hearty cooperation of the good parishioners.
Finally, after Reverend A. Lafaj was transferred to St. Stanislaus, at Hazelton, Pa., the present Reverend C.F. Wydra was sent here from the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary Church of Scranton, August 26, 1927.
St. Joseph’s Parish is second to none, proportionally speaking, in the Scranton Diocese. Much new equipment was installed within the last five years, including a new electric organ. The large hall has been equipped and improved. The rectory was renovated, both internally and externally. A new water system was installed and a new hot water heating system improved. For the last twenty-five years Morris Run has had only seven pastors, of which the later three are Reverend E. Helczynski, Reverend A. Lafaj, and Reverend C.F. Wydra.
St. Joseph’s congregation has been for twenty-five years loyal, both in word and deed, to its church and country, and to inculcate a still greater fervor for God’s glory and true loyal spirit of patriotism, the congregation is celebrating this year, on July 4th, its Silver Jubilee, and the little coal mining village, its Centennial, in order to bring forth to the inhabitants and the community at large, that the reason why Morris Run is still existing is because Morris Run Coal Company owns and produces a quality of coal of which no other place in our state can boast.
The following societies were organized early in the church’s existence are as follows: Society of Sacred Heart, Polish Catholic Union, No.144, Society of St. Cyril and Methody, Society of St. Joseph’s Polish Temperance, Society of Rosary Women, Society of Scared Heart of Jesus Women, Society of Sodality, Society of Polish Literacy Club, Society of Sons of Polish Crown, Society of Holy Name, St. Theresa Society.
First Polish School was built September 1, 1889 and was supported by the state. The following were the teachers: Prof. Lapinski, Prof. Dudzics; teachers: Jessie Labuski, Agnes Whalen, Olga Heron, Eva Janeski, Anna Driscoll, Mary Duggan, Elizabeth Coleman, Belle Woodhouse.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SWEDISH LUTHERAN CONGREGATION
In September, 1879 Reverend A. J. Ostlin of Titusville, Pa., made a visit to Morris Run and found many Swedish people here. In November of the same year, Reverend A.J. Ostlin, together with Reverend P.O. Hultgren, made a second visit to Morris Run and organized the Swedish Lutheran Church at this place. As no minister could be stationed here just then, visits were made occasionally by J. Franzen, L.G. Abrahamson, A.J. Rinell, P.A. Bergquist, and G.S. Olson. From 1899 until 1908, students from the Institutions of the Augustana Synod kept up the work in congregation. Such students were: N. Forsberg, 1889; Alfred Appell, 1890; S.W. Swanbeck, 1891; J. Gullans 1892; C.E. Frisk 1893; P.E. Nordgren 1893-94; O.A. Johnson, now Henry, 1895; A.R. Hallquist, 1896; M. Parson, 1897-98; E.M. Allison, 1900; J. Gullans, 1902; A.R. Reading, 1903; H.L. Swan, 1904; G.L. Dagner, 1905; A.M. Beausang, 1907; P.G. Carlstedt, from 1908-1915 the congregation has their own minister, namely Reverend J.A. Broden, and in 1916 a student named N.A. Nelson from Upsala College was here at Morris Run. During 1917-1920 the congregation again had their own minister, Reverend J.P. Samuelson. After that, Reverend J. N. Stiemer, Emil Johnson, and A.C. Edstrom had charge of the congregation. In 1921 the Siloa congregation of Morris Run was merged with the Gethsemane congregation of Arnot, and have thus been served by Reverend M.O. Olson 1921-1927, and by Reverend C.A. Bergendoff since 1927. As soon as the congregation found itself able after its organization, it built its first church edifice in about 1889, which served its purpose for about twenty years. In 1909 the congregation bought an old church building, known as the old Welsh Baptist Church, and had it put in shape for devotional services once more. This one is still used, having been remodeled several times.
The congregation had at one time about 260 paying members, a very large Sunday school, and a very active Ladies Aid and a Young Peoples Society, which now goes by the name of the Luther League.
These are the first officers of the congregation: Deacons: A.G.Johnson, John Fred, Gustaf Highland, Andrew Johnson, Alfred Swanson, Aaron Swanson. Trustees: Joseph Johnson, Peter A. Bergman, John Forsberg, Rasmus Rasmusson, Edward Carlson, John Carlson, John G. Patterson, August Nelson, J.H. Johnson.
These are the present officers: Deacons: Albin Anderson, Oscar Anderson, John Johnson, Leonard Olson, Otto Patterson, Chas. A. Swanson. Trustees: Chas. Carlson, Leonard Eckman, Lennart Johnson, Otto Lindquist, Edward J. Olson, Andrew Patterson.
Some few years ago the congregation had a large brass band. The church services and society meetings are kept up very regularly and are always very well attended -- Rev. C.A. Bergendoff.
PRIMITIVE METHODIST CHURCH
The Primitive Methodist Church was organized July 25, 1870. The record shows the church to have been built in 1872, with a cost of $2,200 and it was clear of debt on December 1, 1879.
The first minister was Reverend John H. Acornley, and it appears that Reverend Daniel Savage was twice pastor of this church, first in 1880, and again in 1885. It was during his second term that the Ladies Aid Society was organized. In 1874 the Sunday school was organized and the first superintendent was John Heron; Assistant Superintendent, George E. Davis; Treasurer, George Palmer.
P.M. Roll of Honor was organized in 1882 and was named the Garfield Roll of Honor of the Morris Run P.M. Church. Reverend Acornley was the Worthy Commandant; William Tipton, Secretary; and James Richards, Treasurer.
The following is the list of ministers that have served this church:
Rev.George Parker, 1872; Rev. Samuel Harvey, 1873; Rev. John H. Acornley,
1875; Rev.A.T. Geehter, 1876; Rev. Benjamin Willock, 1877-1878; Rev. James
Lee 1878; Rev. John Acornley, 1879-1881; Rev. John Mason, 1882; Rev. J.H.
Atkinson, 1883-1885; Rev. Daniel Savage, 1885-1887; Rev. Thomas McKay,
1887-1891; Rev. S. Hancock, 1891; Rev. Wm. Gratton, 1892-1894; Rev. T.M.
Phillips, 1894-1896; Rev. W.H. Russell, 1896-1901; Rev. W.C. Hall, 1901-1905;
Rev. Griffiths, 1906-1909; Rev. A.B. Russell, 1909-1919; Rev. George Lees,
1919; Rev. J.H. Evans, 1920-1923;
Rev. W.R. Currie, 1923-1925; Rev. J. Ward, 1925-1927; Rev. Joseph Mason, 1927-1932; Rev. Richard Seymour, 1932.
SHORT SKETCH OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
The St. Joseph Catholic Church at Morris Run has always been a mission of St. Andrews Congregation of Blossburg, Pa., which was organized in 1840 by Reverend Joseph O’Reily, who was appointed pastor by the Very Reverend John Nepomuch Neuman, Bishop of Philadelphia. The church was built the next year.
Some of the early Irish families were here before the railroad, others arrived shortly after. Among them were Mrs. Frances McIntyre and Mrs. Ellen Dwyer, who both still live at Morris Run. At that time, mass was celebrated in the home of Tim Sullivan and P.F. O’Donnell, and others who had room to accommodate a priest and temporary chapel by Rev. S. Somers; he was pastor of St. Andrews in 1862. When the new hall was built, services were held there for several years. In the early seventies the people built their own church on the present site under the leadership of Rev. Murphy. This church was practically rebuilt in 1912 by Reverend George Dixon.
Many noted men at different times were pastors of St. Andrews: Among those of more recent date are the late Dr. Lucas and Rev. Kelly; Rev. George Dixon, now of North Pittson; Rev. M.F. Corrigan, now of Wilkes Barre; Rev. J. Ben Leonard, now of Williamsport. The present pastor is Rev. T.A. Ahearn; his assistant is Rev. A.L. Maloney. They together take care of Blossburg, Morris Run, and Mansfield.
Today and Tomorrow
Authentic data on the establishment of the first school at Morris Run was unavailable at the time this book was hastily compiled, but education has been a feature of the life of this community which has ever received the best attention of both the companies and the citizenry.
Morris Run’s first school was located in a wooden, single story building just below the O’Donnell property on the old Blossburg road. About two yeas ago, after a severe windstorm had deprived a nearby farm family of its dwelling place, the old school building was removed and placed at the disposal of the unfortunate family.
Today, the school is housed in a handsome two-story, ten-room building in the center of the town. It has maintained an average of instruction which ranks it among the first in the county. The following is the personnel of the teaching staff: Edwin MacBlane, principal; Nellie Whalen, assistant principal; Katherine Hewitt, Elsie Johnson, Lucy Labuski, Marguerite Fogarty, Eva Janeski, Nellie Bell, Marion Witucki, Emma Sterling.
HOW MORRIS RUN SERVED ITS COUNTRY
Ready to serve its country in any national crisis, Morris Run performed, perhaps its most notable endeavor of this kind, when it sent to the service of the United States of America 104 men and women during the World War. Four men never returned.
At home, the village was intensely active in Red Cross work, and many, many cases of goods were sent to the front from the mining town. A large membership was maintained in the Red Cross organization throughout the war, and the town responds splendidly in every yearly roll call.
The average subscription to each of the five Liberty Loans in Morris Run was 123 per cent, surely an abnormal figure for a “declining town”. Among the first places in the United States to maintain a “war chest” to defray the cost of varied activities, Morris Run found that project with a sizable balance which was used in aiding returned soldier boys when the war was over. It is believed that Morris Run’s “war chest” was established within a week after that of Cleveland, Ohio, which was the first in the country.
The Civil War and the Spanish American War each had their share of Morris Run men in the ranks, and each found the hometown actively engaged in doing its part behind the lines. In the Spanish American War, the following were among the Morris Run men who saw service:
Joseph W. Abernathy, born Morris Run February 22, 1869, served with Company K, 5th Penna Vol. Infantry, organized in Wellsboro, died January 19, 1926.
Fred C. Abernathy, a brother of the above man. Not born in Morris Run, but a resident there for a long time. Served in same company and regiment. Now a N.Y.C. freight conductor. Lives in Corning.
Ralph Johnson, born Morris Run February 18, 1877, lived there till 1897. Served during Spanish War in Navy, being assigned to the Nashville and Marietta. Saw service in Philippine Islands and China. Now lives in East Lynn, Mass. Streetcar operator.
Joseph C. Burrow, not a native of Morris Run, but a resident from 1901 to 1914. Served continuously with the 23rd U.S. Infantry from January 24, 1890 to January 23, 1901. Participated in assault and capture of Manila in August 1898. Now lives in Elmira, N.Y.
James Cairns, native of Scotland. Served during Spanish War in Company K, 5th Penna Infantry. Resident of Morris Run for several years. Died in Charleston, S.C. in 1929.
Patrick F. Fitzgerald. Served during Spanish War in Company L, 203rd N.Y. Infantry. Resident of Morris Run for several years. Died in 1916.
William Wightman, native of Scotland. Served in Philippine Islands with Company D, 21st U.S. Infantry. Now proprietor of barber shop in Horseheads, N.Y. Lived in Morris Run for a time.
The service rendered by the men who stayed home and dug coal when it was needed should not be overlooked as a significant stroke for the good of the country.
Following are the names of those who were called to their nations service during the World War: Capt. W.C. Wilson, MD; First Lieut John C. Thiemann; Edith Beechy, nurse; Elizabeth Orbank, nurse.
Killed in action and in service: Wm. Fallon, Joseph Jankiewicz, W.M. Reid, and Frank W. Johnson. Stan Chmeil, John Eckman, Stan Mazurkiewicz, James B. Lewis, Leonard Payne, Ed. Matreski, John Mesuch, Frank Kiczniski, Eli Whitehouse, Jos. Hudzinski, James Martin, Frank Kirejewski, Frank Kaminski, Adolph Olson, John Shaffer, William Mesuch, Joseph Baroneski, Stan Dominikoski, Alzy Matreski, James Lee, Walter Baroneski, James Beechey, Ralph Carlson, Stewart Hutchinson, Harrison Hawthorne, Joseph Kaminski, Alfred Anderson, Thos. Sterling, Frank F. Johnson, Joseph Woods, Walter Matreski, Jos. Novitski, John Koscielny, Walter Kurzejewski, Edward Forsberg, Benjamin Hughes, Taflus Kujawa, Carl Patterson, John Hays, Willard Harvey, Brownie Mahonski, Max Lubuski, John Squires, Edward Jenkins, Walter Labuski, Frank Early, James L. Austin, John Kwasneski, Theo. Price, Vincent Bombeski, Zielie Labuski, Samuel Martin, Walter Stahowski, Vincent Nowakoski, John Dzikoski, Andrew Christopher, Joseph Garczynski, Geo. Pawlock, Joe Strong, Archie Higland, Frank Guiry, James Boyd, Stan Dzikoski, Geo. Hatherill, John Lamonski, Vincent Labuski, John Novakoski, Thos. Carlson, George Bombeski, Peter Baroneski, W.M. Matuzak, Stan Tacka, Frank O’Dea, Michael Symarek, Frank Nowakoski, Leo Powlock, Frank Levindofski, Louis Garczynski, Chas. A. Johnson, John Bajma, Stan Skullney, John W. Olson, Anthony Skullney, Stan Garczynski, David Hill, Thomas Hill, Michael Klimick, Frank Kwasneski, Ed. Jaskolski, Fred Glenwright, Adam Janeski, Emil Nybeck, Taflus Pawlock, Edward Scaife, Wm. Novitski, Orvil Stokes.
In the American Legion picture on page 11 are the following: First row seated, left to right: Thos. Carlson, Carl Patterson, Geo. Bombaski, Bruno Mahonski, Walter Labuski, James Beechey, John Kwasneski. Second row, left to right: John Lamonski, Vincent Bombaski, Max Labuski, James Boyd, Stanley Chameil, Joseph Hudzinski, Adolph Olson, Thos. Hill, Frank Johnson, John Dzikoski, Taflus Pawlock, Leonard Payne. Third row standing, left to right: Lt. John C. Thieman, Frank Kirewski, Adam Janeski, Samuel Martin, John Shaffer, Alzy Matreski, Walter Matreski, Geo. Woods, Frank Early, Stan Dzikoski, Willard Olson, Ed. Jaskolski, Harry Bogardis, Herbert Johnson, Eli Whitehouse.
Other members of the post not in the picture: Thos. Sterling, James Lewis, Stan. Skully, Ath. Skullney, John Zukalski, Walter Stahowski, Edward Jenkins, Mike Symark, Jacob Levindofski, John Eckman, Michael Klimick, Ed. Matreski.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Morris Run’s population today numbers about 1,000 people, 350 of them being employees of the Morris Run Coal Mining Company. A thousand tons of fine quality bituminous coal are produced daily by the efficient mines, and an evidence of progress which belies the woeful tales of those who said Morris Run was “done” thirty years ago, is found in the construction of a new state highway through the town to Alba, Gleason, and Canton.
From 1909 to 1931, it has been estimated, 5,000,000 tons of coal have been mined in Morris Run. In the fifty years previous, experts believe, 20,000,000 tons were taken from the fecund earth of this vicinity. What the future will bring forth in the realm of coal in this county is no more certain that what the future will bring forth in manufacturing, or oil and gas, or publishing. This much is certain, efficient operation, scientific engineering and prospecting, are the features upon which further development depends. With these exemplified in the activities of the Morris Run Coal Mining Company, Morris Run and Tioga can look to the future with hope.
When the coal of Morris Run is exhausted, an epic of industry will have ended. We shall not be here to see it or to write of it.