Blog Chatter from the President – Jan. 20, 2017

Greetings and happy new year from the Board of Directors of the County Historical Society. My New Year resolution is to have regular blog articles on the website. My articles will touch on activity within the society as well as county history in general. I will try and weave them together from time to time. Remember this is a blog and not a historical treatise, so I may add some humor into the mix of topics.

For starters your board of directors held its first meeting of the year on January 11th at which time we w were joined by a new member, Tom Eltringham, who hails from Minersville. Tom became interested in the Society after the Society featured the Vietnam War Commemorative Exhibit in 2015 and has assisted as a volunteer since then. His brother Bill was killed during combat in 1968. I am sure that Tom will be an asset to the Society and its future. However, he does have big shoes to fill as he replaces a dedicated and hardworking Board member, Bill Van Stone. Although Bill has stepped down from being on the board, he promises to stay active and bring his unique electronic and handyman skills to the Society whenever he can be of assistance. There were no other changes on the board this year and the officers were reelected without any changes.
Now for some history. With the changing of the calendar one tries to bring attention to significant anniversaries. 2017 is significant for the county as well as the nation in that it is the centennial year for American involvement in World War I, or rather “The Great War.” It obviously was not referred to as World War I until several decades later. War was declared by Congress on April 6, 1917 shortly after Woodrow Wilson was re-elected in an extremely close election that took days to call (Schuylkill County and Pennsylvania favored the defeated Republican Charles Evans Hughes).
The Society would be honored to feature memorabilia of local citizens who played a part in that conflict, whether on active duty service or on the home front. If you have any artifacts, photographs or other memorabilia, please consider donating them or lending them to the Society. For instance I attach a photograph of my wife’s Uncle Fred “Fritz” Leinheiser who had been a foreman at the Ellsworth Coal Company in New Castle Township, northwest of St. Clair, before shipping out as doughboy to fight the Germans with hopes of ending the war to end all wars. Fritz lived his entire life in the Fishbaugh section of Pottsville. In his later years Fritz would bring up tales of his overseas tour of duty but unfortunately I never had him write them down….more lost history.
Ellsworth Coal Company in New Castle Township, by the way, was the scene of Mollie Maguire activities in the 1870s. Send in your photo to the Society of a Schuylkill County ancestor and we can place it on the website. The Society also has a vast collection of coal maps for those interested in researching coal fields and colliery locations.

On the home front after war was declared Philip Schoen, a real estate developer who owned the Schoentown Addition to Port Carbon, turned over 125 vacant lots to be used for agricultural purposes to increase food production that would be needed during the war. He told the Pottsville Republican newspaper that these lots had fertile soil as they were once part of the old Brown’s farm.
Whether or not his generous offer helped the war effort, Schuylkill County residents did gradually increase in weight ever since 🙂
Your President,
J. R. Zane