SHICKSHINNY BORO- The population of this borough in 1870 was 1,045;
1880, 1,068; 1890, 1,448. It is one of the thrifty and beautiful villages along the banks of the
Susquehanna river, and is at the lower end of the Wyoming valley coal deposit, the Red
Ash vein across the river at Mocanaqua being one of the successful collieries in the county.
The mine on the Shickshinny side was worked for some years, but is idle, with only
sunnises as to whether it will be again opened. About the borough on every hand evidences
of thrift and many elegant houses, residences and storerooms, with others in the process of
building, are to be seen. It has none of the forbidding appearances of a mining camp, with
streets lined with foreigners who can not speak the English language, or their mangy dogs
and universal goats laying waste every green thing as well as tin cans and such light dishes
" on the side. " It is patronized by farmers, and on circus day the belles and beaux are
always on hand to laugh at the clown and drink circus lemonade. After all a good circus town
makes a desirable place to rear your children. It indicates a strong, healthy, clean
agricultural community, where your children are not so liable to contract the "polink" habit.
Such a community is good for camp meetings as well as shows and each in turn is welcome.
Such a community does not "rush the growler" on Sunday, nor is it an every-day occurrence
at weddings, funerals and baptisings for a general free fight and a murder to follow. A man
hunting a home, looking about for "a sweet Auburn of the vale" would pass Shickshinny and
fare worse. The most prominent thing against the place is its name; the Chocktaw of it is
said to mean the meeting of five mountains-to play shinny probably. Be that as it may, the
five great old fat porker looking fellows that have stuck their noses together here are the
mountains respectively, Newport, Lee's, Rocky, Knob and River mountain. There were
many reasons why in the days of panthers, bears and Indians this was an early rendezvous
for all of them. A sweet little valley nestled here at the foot of the bold and picturesque hills.
Then too here is a remarkable gap in the mountain giving an easy and natural outlet to the
splendid agricultural country back of it. Mr. Lot Search informs us that over thirty years
ago in studying the situation, he computed that Shickshinny was the natural trading,
shipping and business point for over 10,000 agriculturists back of the mountain, and for
sixteen miles up and down the river there was no "gap" offering to all these people such
easy access to the river, the canal and the railroad. Its surroundings were most favorable to
build here a great trading and business point. Two creeks cut their way through the
mountain and fall into the Susquehanna within the borough limits. The main stream rises in
Ross township, runs southeast through Union township, and the branch stream rises in the
west side of Salem township and they join within the borough limits. These streams are the
open doorway to the people of Salem, Huntington, Union, Ross and Fairmount townships.
Here an these people naturally come to export, import, trade and traffic. The original
proprietor of the soil, including all the valley and reaching back on the hills, was Ralph
Austin, who was the first permanent settler. His remains rest on the hill overlooking the
town. It is said there was a family named Crossley accompanying Austin, who fled back to
Connecticut after the massacre. Austin and family returned as soon as it was at all safe to
do so and rebuilt their log house, opened a little farm and the situation compelled the
keeping of travelers and strangers on their way-a farmer and hotel- keeper. In some way
Austin was juggled out of his land in the terrible days of contention between the Connecticut
and Pennsylvania people. Much of what is now the wealth of Luzerne county was often
purchased and deeds received when they would have to be again and again bought, and
sometimes a man would first find out he did not own the place he had paid for and improved
by a third party's sudden appearance with a posse to dispossess him. Mathias Hollenback
in time came into possession of the Austin lands under the Pennsylvania claim, and by
descent it became the property of his daughter, Mrs. Cist. Chester Butler married Mrs.
Cist, and after her death, 1857, the property was sod to Nathan B. Crary, G.W. Search, Lot
Search and Nathan Garrison, who plotted and laid off the village. The members of that firm
survive to-day except Garrison, who died in 1862, survived by Mrs. Rachel Garrison and
her children. The opening of the farm by Austin and his little old hotel were simultaneous.
The occupants, in their order, were: Austin, William Bellas, George Muchler ,--Coates,
William Hoyt, Headly and Wilson. In 1850 William Koons, B.D. Koons, Edward Barman,
Jacob Laycock, William A. Tubbs and H.J. Yaple. There was but one family in the place
when the village was laid out. Wtlliam Shoemaker was a long time one of the prominent
business men of the place. When the village was laid out there was in it the hotel and store
where is now the drug store. The store was Jacob Cist's, but the manager was Stephen
Bond. The beginning of the town was the beginning of the "hard times" of 1857. A colliery
and breaker were in operation on the mountain side just below town. This was diagonally
across the river from the Mocanaqua mine, where the "red ash" vein has proven so
profitable, but it seems that in crossing the river and striking the mountain it had reached its
end, or where the geological disturbances had resulted in carrying away the coal deposits.
The mine ceased work years ago, and the "plans" built to let coal down the mountain side,
not to haul it up as usual, went to ruins. Recently there was considerable work done there
for the purpose of reopening the mine, but numerous causes combined to stop it again. In
1859 a bridge was built across to Mockanaqua-still a toll bridge. In 1877 a turnpike was
made along the Shickshinny creek gap, six miles, and crossed to Huntington. An old iron
furnace that made at one time considerable very good charcoal iron was operated for years.
It was established by Headley & Wilson; then became the property of William Koons, who
ran it for some time, but entered into large iron operations elsewhere, bankrupted and the
furnace fires here went out in 1857. Years ago there was a sawmill a short distance from the
village. Considerable lumbering is still carried on at this point. A water sawmill
three-quarters of a mile, on the creek, stopped running in 1885. The present gristmill of
G.W. and Lot Search, water power, was built in 1865-flour, buckwheat and feed-and is a
valuable property. At this point is in operation the old canal which is still in esse up to
Nanticoke, thus giving Shickshinny the advantages of a railroad and canal, and across the
river is its second railroad. The old Berwick & Elmira turnpike passes through the town,
and was the first marked improvement in this section. It was built and on it was the old stage
line in 1810. The water supply for this and the other side of the river is of the fine water
from the mountain side of the west branch of Shickshinny creek. The company and works
came into existence in 1884. Officers and directors of the company: G. w. Search, president;
Dr. M. B. Hughes, secretary; Jesse Beadle, treasurer; Dr. Briggs, John Teasdale, Lot
Search and B.D. Koons. The canal was built through this point in 1828. Mr. Lot Search
informs us that when they were building the canal he went to school at a little schoolhouse
about a mile below town; William Robinson taught. Other teachers he remembers were
Mathias Blocher and Henry Whitaker. He informs us also that in 1858 he built for Union
Township the schoolhouse that stands opposite the Presbyterian church, and is still in use.
H.S. Clark, of Shickshinny, married a great-granddaughter of Ralph Austin. Mr. Clark
came here in 1839. His recollection is that Cretty & Bro. were the storekeepers then, and
that Lot Search had a small grocery store about three-quarters of a mile above the town on
the river and turnpike; his principal trade being with the canal boatmen. The post office was
first established at Search's place, and was moved down in the late fifties. Shickshinny
borough was organized November 30, 1861. First officers: Burgess, Jesse P. Enke; council:
G. W. Search, B.D. Koons, N.B. Crary, John F. Niceley and Thomas Davenport; secretary,
G.W. Search; supervisor, Samuel Slippy; second burgess, W.R. Tubbs; third, Hiram Knor;
fourth, G. W. Youlls; fifth, Daniel Baer; sixth, J. Post; seventh, M.B. Hughes; eighth, L. T.
Hartman; ninth, J .W . Bulkley. Present officers: Burgess, F. W. Briggs; council, S.B.
Adkins, president; M.M. Sutliff, W .B. Poust, B. R. Switcher and James Kester; secretary,
L. T .Seward. The borough is taken from Salem and Union townships; about two- tbirds from
Union, and the remainder from Salem. In the borough are 3 hotels, 14 general stores, 2
furniture stores, 2 drugs, 2 hardware, 3 confectioners, 1 clothing, 1 novelty, 1 books, 3 livery
stables, 1 gristmill, 2 quarries, 3 millinery , 1 undertaker, 1 laundry, 1 planing mill, 1
agricultural implements, 1 cigar factory, 2 harness shops, 1 select and public schools.