New Wilmington was incorporated into a borough by Act of the Legislature, April 4, 1863, from a part of Wilmington Township. The land incorporated includes an area of between three and four hundred acres, and extends north to the Mercer County line. The ground on which the original town stands was a 100-acre tract, purchased by James Waugh, shortly be fore the town was laid out. New Wilmington was only made a "half borough" in 1863, and it was not until about 1872 that it became a complete borough, with all the powers pertaining to such a corporation.
The town of New Wilmington was laid out by James Waugh and sons, about 1824, and the first buildings were erected in that year. A house had been built previously by James Hazlep, the first settler in the vicinity, and was the first one in the place. James Waugh built the second one. He had settled in 1798, in what afterwards became Lackawannock Township, Mercer County.
The first house built in the newly laid out town was erected by Dr. Hindman. It was a log structure. Soon a one-story frame building was put up by Phillip Crowl. John Galloway built a tannery about 1824-25, at the east side of the village.
David Carnahan opened the first wagon shop in the place; next came J.W. H. Hazlep.
Thomas Wilson had the first saddle and harness shop, which stood at the south west corner of the West Diamond. The first shoe shop was kept by Robert Hamilton.
The first blacksmith shop was opened by Phillip Crowl, who afterward removed to Eastbrook, in Hickory Township. The first general store in the place was opened by the Waughs about the time the town was laid out; the second by James Hazlep, subsequently sold out to J. & A. Galloway, who carried on the store for a time. Thomas Brown had the first actual tailor shop, although William McCready had done some work in that line before Brown came, but never owned a shop.
School was first held in a frame building now or recently used as a dwelling, the teacher being Robert Miller. Long before this house was built, a log school house had been erected a mile west of town, about 1810-12. The two-story brick school house of more recent times was built about 1868.
Thomas Wilson kept the first hotel, about 1834, and was succeeded by Richard Hammond, who built the second hotel building about 1835. The Lawrence House was next built, and conducted for a while by a man named Weir.
James Hazlep, previously mentioned, became the possessor of some 800 acres of land in the neighborhood.
Thomas Pomeroy came to New Wilmington ton in 1834, and acted as justice of the peace for several years. In 1855, he was elected one of the associate judges of Lawrence County, and twice elected subsequently. He also served as county auditor, was one year-1863-on the Internal Revenue Board of Pennsylvania, and two years-1846-47-in the State Legislature.
William M. Francis came to New Wilmington from Baltimore, Md., in 1839. In February, 1841, he purchased a piece of land south of town, and built a house upon it, which was his residence for the remainder of his life. In the winters of 1858-59-60 Mr. Francis represented Lawrence County in the State Senate, and was speaker of the Senate in 1860.
James A. McLaughry came to New Wilmington from Mercer County; Pennsylvania, in 1835, and for two years taught school in the village. He was originally from Delaware County, New York, and from Wayne County, Pennsylvania, when he came to Mercer.
The New Wilmington Telephone Co., an independent concern, was organized September 19, 1905, by New Wilmington capital, and after being conducted for a year and a half, was purchased by Martha and Robert J. Totten. Mr. Totten assumed full control on May 1, 1907, and has been enjoying a steady increase of patronage for the past year and a half. The office is centrally located on Vine Street, occupying a two-story frame building. There are 100 subscribers and about forty or fifty miles of wire. Three operators take care of the calls, generally assisted by two or three sub-operators, who are learning.
R. S. Mercer & Co.'s department store of New Wilmington was organized about a year ago. This store is on Market Street, and is one of the largest in the city.
John Wright and son keep a hardware store. The business was started by the son in 1903, the father entering into the partnership with him in 1907.
Wyatt B. Campbell conducts a furniture and undertaking business. He is the only undertaker in Wilmington Township.
Norman G. Vance is the proprietor of a feed and hay market-the only one of its kind in the township.
J. Frank Williams conducts a dry goods and notion store-the 'largest business of its kind in the place.
The New Wilmington Bank was organized by George H. Getty, who was cashier thereof for twelve years. His son, Howell T. Getty, has held that position for the past year. The bank is a safe and conservative institution, and is a prominent and useful factor in the commercial life of the community.
George M. Robinson, with his son, has conducted the leading grocery in town for eight years.
New Wilmington is the seat of Westminster College, a sketch of which admirable institution may be found in another part of this work.
The postoffice at New Wilmington was established January 14, 1828, and was known as New Wilmington Postoffice, Mercer County, Pennsylvania, in which county it was then located, it being before Lawrence County was erected. Its first postmaster was John Carnahan, who was appointed January 14, 1828.
In 1850, after Lawrence County was erected, the office was transferred to it.
New Wilmington is remarkable for the excellence of its sidewalks and stone pavements. This work, begun in 1874, has since been kept up, to the credit of the borough, which thus gives a favorable impression to the passing stranger. It stands well in line with other places of its size with respect to modern improvements, and the presence of the college, with its numerous students coming and going, were there no other causes, would prevent it from lapsing into a condition of stagnation, which from one cause or another, has been the fate of many other promising communities.
Source: Twentieth Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County, 1908, pages 370-371
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