A Historical Sketch of Indiana County

Indiana County was named for the native Indians. During historic times the two principal tribes were the Delawares and Shawnees. Being reluctant to give up their lands, the Indians struggled desperately to keep out the tide of European settlers. Perhaps the first white settler to enter Indiana County was James LeTort, an Indian trader, about 1726-27. A place called “Letart’s...
read more

Ernest: Life in a Mining Town

In 1904, the Rochester & Pittsburgh Coal Company began deep mining in Ernest, Pennsylvania. In 1965, the industry there came to an end. Between these two dates, people lived out their lives in this small community northwest of Indiana, where for over sixty years every facet of existence revolved around the digging of coal from the hillsides surrounding the town. But what was life like in a...
read more

A Woman’s Day: Work and Anxiety

Many books and articles have been written about the lives of early Pennsylvania coal miners and their involvement in labor-management strife, unionization problems, and mine disasters. But has anyone remembered the women who packed the miners’ dinner pails, washed their blackened clothing, and waited in anguish outside the mines when disaster struck? The lives of these women also were...
read more

Historical Sketch of Elk County

Elk County is named for that noble animal that once abounded in the region in great numbers. The last native elk, however, was shot in 1867 in Elk County by an Indian, Jim Jacobs. Today, Pennsylvania’s only Elk herd roams freely over the area bounded by Elk and Cam­eron Counties. It is descended from the Elk herd imported into Pennsylvania in 1913 from Montana and Wyoming. The history of...
read more

Drawing from Jack Savitsky’s Sketchbook

The work of Jack Savitsky (1910-1991) is highly prized by aficionados of twentieth century folk art. A native of Schuylkill County, Savitsky drew the subject matter for his art from his own experience as a hard coal miner in north­eastern Pennsylvania’s anthracite region, as well as from the area’s miners and mining villages. Interestingly enough, his paintings and drawings depict a...
read more

Disaster – Or Murder? – In the Mines

In Winter 1959, after two days of drenching rain and unseasonably high temperatures, the frozen Susquehanna River began surging wildly. A recording station in Wilkes­-Barre, Luzerne County, measured the rise of the water level from 2.1 feet on Tuesday, January 20, to just below the 22-foot flood stage by Friday night. Wary Wilkes-Barre area residents kept a close watch, knowing that the river...
read more

Martin Ritt Takes on The Molly Maguires

Far from the glitter and glamour of Hollywood, in a remote mountain range of Pennsylvania, the film industry’s best and brightest gathered in the late 1960s to make a film that has been described as a dismal financial failure and, ironically, an extraordinary critical suc­cess. Before cameras whirred in and around the communities of Hazleton, Luzerne County, Jim Thorpe, Carbon County,...
read more

Baseball’s One-Armed Wonder: An Interview with the Late Great, Pete Gray

On Sunday, May 20, 1945, thirty-six thousand spectators packed Yankee Stadium, in the Bronx, for a doubleheader that pitted the New York Yankees against the defending American league champions, the St. Louis Browns. The Yankees, who had finished in third place in the previous season, six games behind the Browns, had something to prove that afternoon. Even though the World War II had stripped...
read more

Bookshelf

Wonders of Work and Labor: The Steidle Collection of American Industrial Art by Betsy Fahlman and Eric Schruers published by Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum and Art Gallery, 2009; 176 pages, cloth, $50.00 Mention Penn State and a few names immediately come to mind: Pattee Library, Happy Valley, the Blue Band, Berkey Creamery and, naturally, Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions. What the average...
read more

Giving a New Shine to an Old Boot and Shoe Factory

Named for Tahkamochk (or Tam-a-kwah), a Tuscarora Indian chief of the Turkey Clan, Tamaqua, in northeastern Pennsylvania’s Schuylkill County, was known as the “the land where the beaver dwells in the water” and “the valley among four mountains.” It began as an anthracite (hard coal) mining town with related manufacturing interests. Tamaqua’s first settler, Burkhart Moser, is credited with...
read more