History of the Lackawanna Valley

By H. Hollister, M.D.
Sixth Edition, 1903

NOTE: Although this is from the 1903 edition, changes in each edition were made to the Appendix. All references to time, such as "twenty-nine years ago," are based on the date of the 1869 edition.

| Providence | Dunmore | Scranton

Pages 186 to 205

Providence Township and Village

The Lackawanna, from the two Indian villages of Capoose and Aserughney, was explored in 1753; it was laid out into two townships in 1770, viz., Pittstown and Providence – the first, named after the celebrated Pitt, the British Commoner; the latter after Rhode Island’s capital, as thirty of the Susquehanna Company, owning the wild lands, came from the "Colony of Rhod-island." Pittstown embraced the first five miles of the valley; Providence extended its boundaries still five miles further up. Both townships unrolled an area of six thousand acres, divided into lots of 300 acres each, called shares. For greater convenience and availability, lots were sometimes subdivided into half lots or shares. Providence, originally surveyed five miles square, was the sixth township formed; was designated in the Westmoreland Records as "Ye 6th Town of Capoose," because Capoose, cleared of its timber, lay on the path which brought emigrating parties into the Monsey town, where they were fed on venison and fish, and kindly treated by the bow and oar’s men inhabiting it. These Indians, roaming over the territory for twenty years after the original sale of the lands, were skilled in the use of the bow and tomahawk, which the French, by lavishing gifts with prodigality, adroitly turned upon the English in 1755-6. At the Indian Treaty, held at Easton in the fall of 1758, this tribe "brightened the chain of Friendship and cleared the blood from the Council Seats" ever afterward.

Being some ten miles away from Pittstown block-house, settlers were less readily prepared to encounter the greater danger apparent in this township than to labor in clearings more favorably located on the Susquehanna.

Timothy Keys and Solomon Hocksey, two young men from Connecticut, struck the first blow into the woods of the new township in 1771. With gun and ax they penetrated the willowed glen now known as Taylorsville, where they built their cabin by the side of the brook named from Mr. Keys. One vast park, filled with deer, stood between this creek and Capoose, marked by a single foot-path.

Capoose lands originally fell into the hands of Capt. John Howard, from the Susquehanna Company, a gentle man unacquainted with the precise location or their wonderful fitness for immediate culture. As there was no disposition to settle them, for the prudential reasons already named, he interested with him in the lands Christopher Avery and "Isooc Trypp of west-moreland in ye County of Litchfield & Colony of Connecticutt in New-England," [Westmoreland Records] both bold Yankees, seeking fortune in Wyoming as early as 1769. The latter, more fearless and determined than his fellows, could not overlook the garden, where orchard and vineyard, cared for no longer by the strolling braves, enraptured the eye with blossom and promise. Near the vacated wigwams he shaped his cabin in 1771, and, without clearing a foot of land, planted and raised a crop of corn, the first season, on the plantation deserted but a short time previous. Mr. Tripp being neither scalped nor endangered during the winter, others, reassured and emboldened by his good luck, sprinkled their cabins along the stream, giving an air of comfort to the wilderness, here and there eruptive with stump.

A lot "in ye Township of New-Providence, alious Capoose," surveyed to Col. Lodwick Ojidirk, passed into the hands of Johnathan Slocum, in 1771, "on account of Doeing ye Duty of a settler," for Ojidirk. This tract, containing 180 acres, was sold to James Bagley, April 29, 1778. Bagley’s Ford, near the mouth of Leggett’s Creek, took its name from this old resident.

Among the pioneers who purchased lots or shares of the Connecticut Susquehanna Company, in the township, between 1772-5, the Westmoreland Records mention John Dewit, Andrew Hickman, Fred. Curtis, Isaac Tripp, Jr., Solomon Johnson, Thos. Pukits, Benj. Baily, Mathew Dalson, Ebenezer Searles, James Leggett, Gideon Baldwin, John Stevens, Johnathan Slocum, Maj. Fitch, John Aldren, Christopher Avery, and Solomon Strong. Solomon Strong, identified in 1785-6 with Col. Ethan Allen, John Jenkins, and the brave John Franklin, in the attempted formation of a new, district State out of Westmoreland, like Fitch, Searles, Aldren, Stevens, and Ojidirk, had no interest in the township other than a speculative one; this was trifling, as Baily acquired his 300 acres of woodland from Strong, for a "few furs and a flint gun." [Westmoreland Records]

Land was cheap, and, when purchased fro a few shillings an acre, excavations in the great woods over it were only made by hard, patient labor, and, after the trees had paid reluctant homage to the ax, their removal and destruction gave infinite trouble and work. Instead of leaving the fallen timber to season for a year, and then, when favored by a long dry spell, apply the torch for a good burn, making "logging" barely necessary, the pioneer, pressed by the wants of his family, drew the green trees into log-heaps where they were roasted and burned into ashes. And even after the new land was thus prepared for the reception of seed, the corn, promising reward to the toiling husbandman, must be defended against the vigilant raccoon and squirrel, before the husking bee secured the crop in the garret, away from its nimble enemies.

The houses, beginning to gladden the waste places, had but a single story, where built from green logs up-rolled and chinked with mud, to protect the inmates from cold, and gave one-third of this space to huge stone chimneys. There was not in the entire township, in 1775, so strange a feature as three houses in a cluster, or two within sight of each other. Every farmer was his own carpenter, and thus every style of architecture became popular. Doors were made without boards; windows, without glass. The rich skin of the fawn easily obtained, or the bushy robe snatched from the old bruin while visiting the barn-yard, brought comfort and ornament to the cabin, warmed in winter by piles of fire-wood, and illuminated at night with pine-knots every where abundant.

The township had neither physician nor lawyer for a long time afterward, nor does it appear that any physical or material interest suffered from their absence; for what tonic can equal hard work and coarse food in the field or forest, and what law compare with common honesty, blended with common sense?

No newspapers entered their cabins, for none were printed in the country; almanacs, selling for a shilling a piece, supplied the settlement with the news of the year. Falling and burning the giant timber gave recreation to the settlement, disturbed by no breach of the social relations.

Nothing exhibits the New England character in a light more favorable and philanthropic, than the fixed organic rule of the proprietors of each township, of setting apart and reserving forever certain lots for gospel and school purposes before others were offered to the settler. In every township one lot of three hundred acres was thus reserved for the first minister of the gospel in fee – one for a parsonage – one for the support of a school; three were reserved as public lots, subject to the future disposition of the town. Nearly 2,000 acres of land were thus held in Providence Township. Paths cut through the woods – over hills instead of around them – were more bridleways than roads, while fallen trees or friendly ford-ways served for stream-crossing.

"The town of Westmoreland legally incorporated for civil purposes, was about seventy miles square, and could only be established by Supreme Legislative authority. Within this limit a number of townships of five or six miles square, were laid off by the Delaware and Susquehanna Companies, divided into lots, which were drawn for by Proprietors, or sold. These townships had power to make needful laws and bye-laws for their interior regulation, the establishment of roads, the care or disposal of vacant lots, and other matters entirely local. Of these, there already existed Wilkes Barre, Hanover, Plymouth, Kingston or the Forty, Exeter, Pittston, and Capouse [sic] or Providence; more were from time to time added. A town meeting, therefore now when ‘legally warned,’ called together all the Freemen, in all the townships or settlements, from the Delaware to fifteen miles beyond the Susquehanna, and from the Lehigh north to Tioga Point." [Miner’s Wyoming, p. 154] At the first town meeting legally warned and held in Westmoreland, "at eight of the clock in ye forenoon, March ye 20th, 1774," for the purpose of choosing town officers, all this vast territory, sparsely occupied, was divided into eight separate districts. Wilkes Barre, Plymouth, Hanover, and Kingston, made four districts. Voted, "that Pittson [sic] be one district by ye name of Pittston district; and that Exeter, and Providence, and all the lands west and north to ye town line, be one district, by ye name of ye North District; and that Lackaway settlement and Blooming Grove, and Sheolah, to be one district, and to be called by ye name of ye Lackaway district; and that Coshutunk, and all ye settlements on Delaware, be one district, and joined to ye other districts, and known by ye name of ye east district." [Westmoreland Records, 1774] From the Lackawanna portion of the town, or "ye North District," Isaac Tripp, Esq., who declined serving, was chosen Selectman for the ensuing year, John Dewit of Capoose chosen of the Surveyors of highways, John Abbot, one of the Fence-Viewers, Gideon Baldwin, one of the Listers, Barnabas Cary and timothy Keys, two of the Grand Jurors, and James Brown one of the Tything men. These persons, the old records informs us, were "all loyal subjects of His Gracious Majesty King George the Third."

August Hunt and Frederick Vanderlip, two residents of New Providence, were expelled from the township at this meeting, because they were men "that have, and now do so conduct themselves by spreading reports about ye town of Westmoreland, much to ye disturbance of ye good and wholsome inhabitants of this town, and by their taking up and holding land under ye pretention of ye title of Pennsylvania." "Voted that Hunt be expelled this purchase, and he be, as soon as may be, removed out of ye town by ye committee at ye cost of this Company, in such way as ye Committee shall think proper." [Westmoreland Records, 1774]

"Voted that ye Indian apple Tree, so called Capoose, shall be ye Town Sign Post for ye town of New Providence." [Westmoreland Records, 1774] Each township had a prominent tree as a Town Sign Post, which, in the absence of press, newspaper, or almanac, made a public point where all notices of a public character had to be affixed to be lega. Such tree notices, always written – for all the inhabitants could read and write – made a meeting legally warned. This apple-tree, venerable in its broad branches, as if arrayed in the foliage of its youth, planted more than a century and a half ago, yet blooms and bears it fruit by the road-side, between Providence and Scranton, a few hundred feet above the site of the ancient village of Capoose.

In the winter of 1775, there was a meeting of the settlers under this apple-tree, to dispose of land on the Susquehanna at the site of the present village of Tunkhannock, as can be seen by "a list of men’s names that drew for lots in the township of Putnam (now Tunkhannock), in Susquehannah, Dec. 20th, 1775, at Providence." [Westmoreland Records, 1774] Among persons thus drawing lots appear the names of Isaac and Job Tripp, William West, Paul Green, Job Green, Zebulon Marcy, and John Gardner.

An unsuccessful effort was made at this time to change the name of Providence for that of Massassoit, as is shown by the old surveys and maps preserved among the archives of the county. The few savages remaining in the valley in 1776-7, as they could not preserve their neutrality despite the tempting offers of the Tories and British in 1778, left charred and crimson traces of their presence. Settlers fled to Stroudsburg with their affrighted loved ones, or removed temporarily to Wyoming, where the muttering of the savages hissed down through the forests from the upper lakes. Isaac Tripp, Timothy Keys, James Hocksey, and Andrew Hickman, with his wife and child, alone remained. These few, having dispute only with wolves, panthers, and bears, around the rich intervale of Capoose, living amicably with the hand preparing to strike, gave no thought of the danger of ambush or encounter with a foe until it came. And even when the Senecas, dancing the war song in prospective triumph, ready to sting with their arrows, poisoned and loaded, hastened from their wild parks into the flood of canoes moored fro Wyoming, these settlers, conscious of no wrong done by themselves, cherished the hope that their frail cabins, isolated and remote, would be spared by the bands which had promised neutrality or friendship.

After the Wyoming massacre, it took but a few quick strokes of the hatchet to do the work of depopulating the entire Lackawanna Valley, leaving it a waste, where the camp fire again gleamed upon the roaming conquerors.

A few months after the massacre, the inhabitants returned to Wyoming to bury the dead and secure the remnant of the crops; but not until after Gen. Sullivan, in the summer of 1779, had carried fire and bullet through the Indian lodges along the upper Susquehanna, did the few former occupants of Providence lands venture back to the ashes on their farms, where their cabins once were standing. These few persons, influenced by the objective attitude of the Pennymites, were able to enlarge the range of agriculture in the township but little, if any.

In 1786, Isaac Tripp, 3d, emigrated from Rhode Island with his son, Stephen, then ten years old. He brought with him at this time no other member of his family, and it was not until 1788 that his residence at Capoose became permanent.

Miner informs us that a company of soldiers were at Capoose at the time of the Wyoming massacre, but, as all the valuable papers having reference to the history of the township’s affairs at this particular time were destroyed, it is impossible to tell the precise time they retired before the savages ascending the Lackawanna.

The pacification of the valleys in 1786-8, by the measures long delayed, imparted new impulse to every interest by removing all barrier to agricultural progress and prosperity. Men began to enjoy a conscious security, denied them till now, which expanded into measure os public good.

The route for a public highway across Luzerne had been surveyed in 1778 by legislative authority, the commissioners of which reported "that Providence, situated favorably between two mountains, would be of vast importance to the road." [Commissioners’ Report, 1778, p. 10] These facts being promulgated, had their influence with men willing to wrestle with the forest for slight reward and secure homes.

Aside from the structure at the mouth of Leggett’s Brook, put up unframed by Mr. Leggett in 1775, to be abandoned soon afterward, the first house erected upon the site of the present village of Providence was a low double log affair, built in 1788 by Enoch Holmes. The single apple-tree, standing near the northeast corner of Oak and Main streets, marks the precise location of his cabin. Along the terraced slope of Providence, the heavier wood had been cleared away, either by Indian husbandmen or by whirlwinds, such as in later years disturbed the equanimity of the young village, thus rendering necessary but little intrusion upon the thickets to fit the land for planting or pasturage. He remained here two years with his family, pounded his maize and prepared his hominy, subsisting upon venison, bear meat, and the varied products of his clearing, in peaceful solitude.

In the winter months he constructed brooms, baskets, and snow-shoes from the laminated ash and basswood, carrying them on foot to Wilkes Barre to exchange for the most needed commodities. With no capital but a large family, increasing with each succeeding year, he toiled upon his hill-side opening until 1790, when he removed north of Legget’s Creek.

Daniel Waderman, of Hamburg, Germany, was the second settler. While visiting London in 1775, he was seized by the British press-gang, and forced into unwilling service. He was present at the battle of Bunker Hill, followed the fortunes of the British until 1779, when he was taken prisoner on the Mohawk. Taking the oath of allegiance, he enlisted in the American service, and, by his faithful deportment as a soldier during the remainder of the war, provide himself an unquestioned patriot. Under the shadows of the bluff, deepened by the foliage extending down to the edge of the Lackawanna, this scarred veteran, in 1790, brought forth his cabin. The house of Daniel Silkman now occupies its site. For a period of twenty-one years Mr. Waderman lived here in comparative thrift and contentment, acquiring, by frugality, means to purchase wilder lands farther up the valley, where he died in 1835.

Preserved Taylor, Coonrad Lutz, John Gifford, Constant Searles, John House, Jacob Lutz, Benjamin Pedrick, Solomon Bates, and the Anthertons, settled in the township in 1790, while John Miller, afterward famous for ministerial achievements and other good works, unbosomed the uplands of Abington. During this year alterations were made in the township lines.

While townships, as surveyed under Connecticut jurisdiction, retained the name originally given them, their boundaries were purposely extinguished, or so radically altered by Pennsylvania landholders as to lose in a great measure their former identity and relation.

In March, 1790, Providence township line, defined twenty years previous by Connecticut settlers, was obliterated by the Luzerne County Court, which divided the county into eleven townships, one of which, Lakawanak, extended over the Lackawanna Valley.

The people of the old upper township of Providence, or Capoose, readily acquiescing in arrangements inaugurated by Pennsylvania, were thus compelled to transact all business of a public nature at Pittston, some ten or twelve miles away from their homes.

The inhabitants asked for a restoration of Providence township, because "the Town of Providence," says their petition, "labor under great disadvantages by reason of being annexed to Lackawanna, that the inhabitants live remote from the place where the Town meets on public occasions, and that they have a very bad river to cross, which is impassible at some times." In 1792 the petition was granted.

The first bridge across the Lackawanna was built in 1796. Until this time there were three public fords across the stream above Pittston, viz: Tripp’s, Lutze’s, and Baggley’s. Along the stream, wehre the banks were low and the waters shallow, a place was selected for a fordway, which, in the absence of a horse or a tree, was crossed on foot alike by heroic women and men. The abrupt character of the bank of the stream at Providence village, and for a quarter of a mile below it, allowed of no crossing in this manner, nor was the Lackawanna at this point spanned by a bridge until the Drinker Turnpike rendered one necessary in 1826.

The two-wheeled ox-cart, drawn at a snail’s-pace, over roads filled with stones, obstructed by hills, served the purposes of the settlement during the summer months, while the cumbrous snow-shoe or the wooden sled, bent from the oak or beech, brought happiness to many a home. Oxen were generally used both for farming and traveling. In 1792 there were in Providence township but ten horses, twenty-eight oxen, and fifty-two cows.

The original Griffin in Providence was Stephen, who, in 1794 left Westchester County, N. Y, to battle with Pennsylvania forests. He located near Lutze’s fordway. Thos. Griffin became a resident of the valley in 1811, James in 1812, and Joseph and Isaac in 1816. The far-seen hill, below Hyde Park, crowned on its western edge by a noble park reserved for deer, is known throughout the valley as "Uncle Joe Griffin’s" place, where he lived for half a century. He filled the office of justice of the peace for many years. In 1839-40, conjoined with the late Hon. Chester Butler, he represented the interests of the county in the State Legislature with credit. Wit the exception of Isaac Tripp, Sen., sent to Connecticut from Westmoreland, in 1777, Jos. Griffin, Esq., was the first man thus honored by the people of the valley.

The taxables of Providence township, embracing the entire settlement from Rixe’s Gap to Pittston, numbered in 1796 ninety persons, sixty-one only of whom resided within its boundaries, as will be seen by the following "Providence Assessment for the Year 1796."

For full size scans of the next two tables, and the additional information provided for each name, click on Page 198 (to John MacDaniel) and Page 199 (remaining)
Corn’s Atherton John Atherton
Elezer Atherton Benj. Atwater
Philip Abbott Wm. Alesworth
James Abbott Wm. Bishop
James Brown James Bagley
Benj. Brown Asher Bagley
Jesse Bagley Zeb’m Butler, heirs
David Bidwell Silas Benedict 
Solomon Bates Phebe Corey 
William Cogwell Asa Cobb 
John Carey John Chamberlain
William Clark James Conner 
Mathew Covel Aaron Dolph 
Charles Dolph Johnathan Dolph
Moses Dolph Johnathan Dean
Wm. Goodridg Stephen Gardner 
John Gifford  Stephen Hoyt
John How John How, Jr.
Ransford Hoyt Wm. Hardy
Enock Holmes Nathan Hall
John Hunter John Halstead
Jonar Halstead Ichibod Hopkins
Joseph Fellows James Howard
Ebenezer Hibbert Coonrad Lutz
John Lutz John Lamkins
James Lewis Mich Lutzs
Jacob Lutz Nicholas 
Christopher Miller Lutzens Samuel Miller
John MacDaniel John Mills
Lodwick Obedike Ebenezer Park
Thomas Picket Ben. Pedrick
David Potter Wm. Ross
Timothy Ross Nathan Ross
Johnathan Ralph John Rozel
Thomas Smith Timothy Stephen
Samuel Slaiter Wm. Simral
Daniel Scott Constant Searles
Shadrick Sills Obediah Selah
Wm. Stanton Daniel Taylor
John Taylor Preserved Taylor
Abraham Taylor Isaac Tripp, Jr.
Amasey Tripp Isaac Tripp
Thomas Wright Elizabeth Washburn
Barnabas Carey Ben Tompkins
James Lewis ____ Gaylor

Town Meetings were first held in Providence at the house of Stephen Tripp, in 1813. The entire vote of the township, then extending jurisdiction over the subsequent townships of Lackawanna, Covington, Jefferson, Blakeley, Greenfield, and Scott, numbered eighty-two, as follows:--

Federal vote 46 Democratic 36
Federal vote 1814 47 Democratic 36
Federal vote 1815 51 Democratic 44
Federal vote 1828 55 Democratic 55

As late as 1816, wild game thronged the thickets around Slocum Hollow. Benjamin Fellows, Esq., the hale old gentleman, informs the writher that he has often seen fifty turkeys in a flock feeding on the stubble in his father’s field, in Hyde Park, while deer tramped over the plowed land like herds of sheep. In 1804, in company with other hunters, he killed both panthers and bears in the woods between Hyde Park and Slocum Hollow.

The general history of the township contains little of general interest. Roads were few and rugged, and the inhabitants, priding themselves in assiduous labor and frugality, lived and died contented. They enjoyed neither churches nor school-houses, nor none had yet emerged from the clearings; were annoyed by few or only light taxes; and yet kindness and hospitality were so blended with their daily toil on farms rendered fertile by a good burn or unvaried cultivation, that the social relations of the residents of the township were rarely, if ever, disturbed by sectarian partiality or political asperities. The general health was good, with no prevailing sickness until 1805, when the typhus fever, or "the black tongue," as it was termed, carried its raves into settlements just beginning to feel the impulse of prosperity, along the borders of the Susquehanna and the Lackawanna. Drs. Joseph Davis and Nathaniel Giddings, the latter of whom settled in Pittston in 1783, became the healing Elishas to many a needy household. H. C. L. Von Storch settled in Providence in 1807. A German by birth, he inherited the habits of industry and economy characterizing the people, which in a few years enabled him to unfold the field from the forest, and gather about him a competency.

The main portion of Providence village stands upon land which came into possession of James Griffin in the winter of 1812, who moved with his family into the solitary log-house vacated by Holmes. The labor of destroying the large trees upon the new land for the reception of seed not always rewarding the husbandman with the yield expected, owing to the occurrence of frost and the presence of wild animals, was so slow, that the settlement of the township, encouraged only be a lumber and agricultural interest, made tardy advancement. As late as 1816, three settlers only lived in the immediate vicinity of the Borough, Daniel Waderman, James and Thomas Griffin. The next year a clearing was commenced in the Notch by Levi Travis.

The land originally reserved in Providence exclusively for school purposes, owing to the prolonged Wyoming dispute and change of jurisdiction, lay idle. Forty-eight years elapse after the settlement of the valley before a school-house was erected within its limits. The first school-house, diminutive in proportion, but yet sufficient for the demand upon it, was built, a few rods below the Holmes house, in 1818. It is still standing by the road-side and used as a dwelling. Previous to this, schools were kept in private houses, and sometimes under the shade of a tree in summer, and some, if taught at all, were taught to read, write, and cipher by the fireside at home. In the upper portion of the village, near the terminus of the Peoples Street Railway, stands an old brown school-house, erected in 1834, known as the Heerman’s or "Bell school-house." The bell giving the house its name, costing fifteen dollars, paid for by subscription, hung in the modest belfry for forty-five years, when it was transferred to the Graded School building. It was the first bell ever heard on the plains of the Lackawanna, and as its animating tones rang out on the air, and were borne by the breeze over hill and valley, it awakened a pride that was ever cherished by the older inhabitants until its sudden and vandalic removal a few years since. The bell is yet sound and sweet in its vibrations, and serves to call the unwilling urchin to school as in days of yore. A partisan spirit was introduced into the school, which so embittered the relations of the neighborhood as to result in the erection of a new school-house across the river in 1836 under Democratic auspices.

Dr. Silas B. Robinson [additional informaton on Dr. Robinson is available here] came into the township in 1823, where he creditably practiced his profession nearly forty years. So long had he lived in the township, and so well was he known for his blunt manners, blameless life, and kind heart, even with all his pardonable eccentricities, that his presence was welcome everywhere, and his sudden death in 1860 widely lamented.

Nothing tended to give a vigorous direction to Providence toward a village more than the Philadelphia and Great Bend Turnpike. This highway, well known as the "Drinker Turnpike," promised as it passed through the village with a tri-weekly stage-coach and mail, to land passengers from the valley in Philadelphia after two days of unvarying jolting. This road, chartered in 1819, completed in 1826, was the first highway through Cobb’s Gap. The Connecticut road, long traversed by the emigrant, casting a wishful look into the valley, passed over the rough summit of the mountain, here cut in twain by roaring Brook. The Luzerne and Wayne County turnpike built this year, intersected Drinker’s road at Providence.

As the village from these causes, and from its central position began to grow into importance, Slocum Hollow, shorn of its glory by the abandonment of its forge and stills, was judged by the Department of Washington as being too obscure a point for a post-office, as the receipts for the year 1827 averaged only $3.37 per quarter. The office was removed the next year to it thriftier rival, Providence.

On what is now the southwest corner of Market and Main streets, Elisha S. Potter and Michael McKeal in 1828 inaugurated a country store upon the popular principle of universal credit, and they were so successful in establishing it, that some of their dues are yet outstanding. The late Elisha S. Potter, and our townsman Nathaniel Cottrill, looking forward to the future value of the idle acres surrounding "Razorville," as the village was long called, purchased fourteen acres of the Holmes tract in 1828, including the fine water privileges, for $285 per acre. Mr. Cottrill shortly afterward came into possession of the entire interest of Esq. Potter, and erected a grist-mill upon the premises. The village has been visited by three tornadoes since its settlement. The most fearful one, or the "great blow," swept away a great portion of the village on the 3d of July, 1834. During the afternoon of that day, which was one of unusual warmth, the thunder now and then breaking from the blackened sky, gave notice of the approaching storm. It came with the fury of a tropical whirlwind. A strong northwesterly current of air rushing down through Leggett’s Gap, met the main body as it whirled from the more southern gap, contiguous to Leggett’s, and concentrating at a point opposite the present residence of Mr. Cottrill, commenced its wild work. As it crossed the mountain, it swept down trees of huge growth and its progress, leaving a path strewn with the fallen forest.

At Providence seems to have been the funnel of the northwest current, which, as it arrived at the Lackawanna, was turned by that from the southwest to a northeast direction. Before dusk the gale attained its height, when the wind, accompanied with clouds of dust, blew through the streets, lifting roofs, houses, barns, fences, and even cattle in one instance, from the earth and dashing them to pieces in the terrible exultation of the elements.

Nearly every house here was either prostrated, disturbed, or destroyed in the course of a few seconds. A meeting-house, partly built, in the lower part of the village, was blown down and the frame carried a great distance. The house and store of N. Cottrill, standing opposite the tavern kept by him at this time, was raised from its foundation and partly turned around from the west to the northwest, and left this angular position. The chimney, however, fell, covering up a cradle holding the babe of Mrs. Phinney, but being singularly protected by the shielding boards, the child, when found about an hour afterward, was laughing unharmed.

Some large square timber, lying in the vicinity, was hurled many rods: one large stick, ambitious as the battering ram of old, passed endwise entirely through the tavern-house, and was only arrested in its progress by coming into contact with the hill sloping just back of the dwelling, into which it plunged six or seven feet. In tits journey – or forcible entry, as lawyers might term it – it passed through the bedroom of Mrs. Cottrill, immediately under her bed.

Gravel-stones were driven through panes of glass, leaving holes as smooth as a bullet or a diamond could make, while shingles and splinters, with the fleetness of the feathered arrow, were thrown into clapboards and other wooden obstructions, presenting a strange picture of the fantastic.

The office of the late Elisa S. Potter, Esq., standing in the lower part of the village, was caught up in the screw-like funnel of the whirlwind, and carried over one hundred feet, and fell completely inverted, smashing in the room; it was left in its half-somerset [sic] position, standing on its bare plates. The venerable and esteemed old squire and Mr. Otis Severance, who were transacting business in the office at the time, kept it company during its aerial voyage, both escaping with less injury than fright.

The embankment of the old bridge across the Lackawanna, from it south abutment, was sided with large hewn timbers, remaining there for years, and well saturated with water. On the lower side these were taken entirely from their bed, and pitched quite two hundred feet into the adjacent meadow. An old aspiring fanning mill, standing at the front door of the grist-mill, upon the ground, took flight in the whirlwind, and was carried in the door of the second story of the mill, without being broken by the power so rudely assailing.

Along the eastern side of the road leading to Carbondale, in places where the focus of the current dipped or reached the earth, all was wreck and disorder. Young hickory-trees left standing by the settlers for shade or other purposes, and apple-trees bending with the ripening apple, fell like weeds, and the remaining branches and roots, twisted, torn, and uprooted, revealed to the passerby the strength of the blow.

At the present thriving and appropriately-named Capoose works, owned by Mr. Pulaski Carter [additional information on Mr. Carter is available in two articles: article one, and article two], there lay a strip of meadow upon the bank of the Lackawanna, where was standing a small carding-machine. This building was quickly demolished, the wool and rolls being spun along the fields and woods for miles. Some were carried in an oblique direction to Cobb’s Pond, on the very summit of the Moosic Mountain.

One of the most singular incidents, however, in the phenomenon of the hurricane, occurred to a young woman living half a mile from the village, on the route taken by the whirlwind. Like many timid ones of the town, tremulous at the approach of the lightning and thunder, she sought refuge in bed. While smothering in the feathers under the covering of the quilt, the bed on which she was lying was whirled from the house, just unroofed, and carried along by the force of the black current of air several rods, and landed safely in the meadow adjoining, before she was aware of her aerial and unjolting flight.

In 1849, Providence village was incorporated into a borough; in 1866, consolidated into the city of Scranton, forming the first and second wards of this young metropolis of the Lackawanna valley.


Pages 206 – 211

Like Scranton, Hyde Park, Green Ridge, Dickson, Olyphant, Pecktown, and Petersburg, Dunmore is one of the numerous villages which sprang from the original township of Providence. Purchased of the natives in 1754 by the whites, long before the tomahawk was flung over the Moosic, the territory now embracing this village offered its solitude in vain to the pioneers seeking a home in the wilderness between the Delaware and the Susquehanna until the summer of 1783. At this time, William Allsworth, a shoemaker by trade, who had visited the Connecticut land at Wyoming for the purpose of selecting a place for his home the year previous, reached the point at evening, where he encamped and lit his fire in the forest where Dunmore was thus founded.

The old Connecticut or Cobb road, shaded by the giant pines extended from the summit of the mountain to Capoose, had no diverging pathway to Slocum Hollow, No. Six, or Blakeley, because neither of these places had yet acquired a settler or a name. From the "Lackawa" settlement, on the Paupack, some four and twenty miles from the cabin of Allsworth, there stood but two habitations in 1783, one at Little Meadows, the other at Cobb’s, both kept as houses of entertainment. The need of more places of rest to cheer the emigrants toiling toward Wyoming with heavy burdens drawn by the sober team of oxen, induced Mr. Allsworth to fix his abode at this spot. While he was building his cabin from trees fallen for the purpose of gaining space and material, his covered wagon furnished a home for his family. At night, heaps of logs were kept burning until long after midnight, to intimidate wolves, bears, wild cats, and panthers inhabiting the chaparral toward Roaring Brook and Capoose. Deer and bear were so abundant form many years, within sight of his clearing, that his family never trusted to his rifle in vain for a supply of venison or the substantial haunches of the bear. In the fall and winter months, wild beasts made incursions with such frequency, that domestic animals at night could be safely kept only in palisaded inclosures [sic]. These were a strong stockade made from the well-driven sapling, and generally built contiguous to the dwelling, into which all kinds of live stock were driven for protection after nightfall. Every farmer in the township of Providence, unwilling to see his home invaded and occupied by the common enemy at the dead of night, took this precaution less than eighty years ago. And even then they were not exempt from depredation at Mr. Allsworth’s. At one time, just at the edge of evening, a bear groped his way into the pen where some of his pigs were slumbering, seized the sow in his brawny pawys and bore the noisy porker hurriedly into the woods, where it was seen no more. The affrighted pigs were left unharmed in the pen. At another time, during the absence from home of Mr. Allsworth, a large panther came to his place before sundown in search of food. This animal is as partial to veal as the bear to pork. A calf lay in the unguarded inclosure at the time. Upon this the panther sprang, when Mrs. Allsworth, alarmed by the bleat of the calf, seized a pair of heavy tongs from the fire-place, and, with a heroism distinguishing most of the women of that day, drove the yellow intruder away without its intended meal. The same night, however, the calf was killed by the panther, which in return was captured in a trap the same week, and slain.

The house of Mr. Allsworth, famed for the constant readiness of the host to smooth by his dry jokes and kind words the ruggedness of every man’s daily road, became a common point of interest and attraction to the emigrant or the wayfarer. The original cabin of Mr. Allsworth stood upon the spot now occupied by the brick store of John D. Boyle.

The descendants of Mr. Allsworth have filled many places of trust and usefulness in the county, and adorned the various walks of social life. For twelve years this pioneer had no neighbors nearer than those living in Capoose or Providence. In the summer of 1795, Charles Dolph, John Carey, and John West began the labor of clearing and plowing lands in the neighborhood of Bucktown or Corners, as this place was long called after the first foot-path opened from Blakelye to the Roaring Brook crossed the Wyoming road at Allsworth’s.

Edward Lunnon, Isaac Dolph, James Brown, Philip Swartz and Levi De Puy, purchased land of the State between 1799-1805 and located in this portion of Providence Township.

The old tavern, long since vanished with its round swinging sign and low bar-room, one corner of which, fortified with long pine-pickets, extended from the bar to the very ceiling, in times of yore, was owned successively by Wm. Allsworth, Philip Swartz, Isaac Dolph, Henry W. Drinker, and Samuel De Puy, before its destruction by fire, a number of years ago.

The external aspect of Dunmore, somber in appearance and tardy in its growth, with a clearing here and there occupied by men superior to fear or adversity, promised so much by its agricultural expectations in 1813, that Dr. Orlo Hamlin with his young wife, was induced to settle a mile north of Allsworth. He was the first physician and surgeon locating in Providence. This locality, fresh with hygiene from the forest, offered so little compensation to a profession without need or appreciation among the hardy woodmen, that the doctor the next year removed to Salem, Wayne County, Pennsylvania.

The population of Dunmore and Blakeley, doubling in numbers and increasing in wealth, warranted Stephen Tripp in erecting a saw and grist mill in 1820, on the Roaring Brook half a mile south of the village, the debris of whose walls, forgotten by the hand that reared them, are seen at No. Six, favored with no thought of their former value to the community.

A store was opened at the Corners in 1820 under the auspices of the Drinker Turnpike; but the village, consisting of but four houses, had but a negative existence until the Pennsylvania Coal Company, in 1847-8, turned the sterile pasture-fields around it into a town liberal in the extent of its territory and diversified by every variety of life.

The immense machine-shops of this company, concentrating and fostering a vast amount of superior mechanical skill, are located at No. Six, and serve to give Dunmore additional note and character as a business village. In fact, Dunmore can congratulate itself not so much upon the internal wealth of its hells, as upon the vigor of the men who furrowed them out, and thus encouraged a town at this time deriving its daily inspirations wholly from this source. While Gen. John Ewen, President of the Pennsylvania Coal Company, especially looks after its affairs in New York with a zeal assuring his courage and fidelity, the general superintendence of the entire works in Pennsylvania has been exercised by John B. Smith, of Dunmore, through an administration of nearly twenty years, in a manner so discreet, popular, and yet withal so modest, as jointly to advance the interests of the company, impart strength of development to Pittston, Dunmore, and Hawley, and change the circumstances and fortunes of a large class of men employed along the line of the road, who looked and trusted to industry for reward.

Dunmore is now an incorporated borough, is connected with Scranton, Hyde Park, and Providence by a street-railroad, and enjoys an aggregate population of about five thousand souls.

Transcribed and contributed by Susan W. Pieroth 1999
History of Scranton from Hollister
History of Scranton: Excerpts from Craft, Wilcox, and Wooldridge
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