This is West Main Street in Giardville. On your left, you will soon be passing McDonald's Funeral Home. The next right hand turn will take you over Girardville's first bridge and straight on up Perdokas' Hill.
Every kid in Girardville knew this was downtown. Downtown was Shalamanda's candy store, the way back to the Obstacle Course, the park, and the baseball field. In the centre of town was Nestor's (later known as the Golden Moon - it had The Best hamburgers, fries, and vanilla cokes), the furniture store, St. Joe's and the PM church, Bracey's TV, St. Joe's school, and the bank. If you continue straight, you are on your way uptown. Uptown were the firehouses and the skating ring. Down Second St. was Snubbie's Candy Store and Gotchies, the pool hall. All the way, on the corner of Second and Mahanoy Avenue (or the High Road) was St. Vincent's church.
Girardville was established in 1832 by wealthy landowner Stephen Girard. Today, Girardville Trusts continues to exist and provides various funds to area residents.
Below is a old history of Girardville according to a gentleman named Munsell.
A History of Girardville
(Exerpts from Munsell’s History of Schuykill County)
The earliest efforts at development of this part of
then Barry township, were made by the distinguished philanthropist after whom the place is named. Stephen Girard, of Philadelphia, having become the possessor of large tracts of coal land in this part of
Although a portion of the road was completed, the effort to develop the mines prove unremunerative, and the death of the founder put a stop to the extensive works he had projected. Confident of the brilliant future of this part of his property, he made it a prominent part of the bequest left to the city of his adoption for the support of
clearing and sale of the fine pine timber that shaded the valleof the Mahanoy, three mills having been built by Mr. Girard's agents in the vicinity, which were operated under leases so long as lumbering remained profitable. In 1841, John Hower, now the eldest resident of the place, became the lessee, and he did much to develop the interests of the place, which at that time contained but few inhabitants.
In 1862, the Mine Hill and Schuylkill Railroad and the com-
pletion of the Gordon planes having attracted the attention of
operators, coal lands on the
by Colonel Connor as a present to the mayor of
acknowledged the receipt in a letter of thanks, which stated that
he had divided the coal between the two soldiers' restaurants in
Further developments followed rapidly, and from a hamlet of
about one hundred inhabitants in 1862 grew a thriving borough,
which had a population of three thousand in 1875, and a coal
trade for that year of more than nine hundred thousand tons.
The first buildings erected in the village were the real
estate office and hotel building, in 1832, the first of which now
constitutes a stable building, and the latter a part of the
The Presbyterians and Methodists in that part of
ship occasionally held meetings as early as 1841 in the old
office, and in private dwellings; and an occasional term of
school was held in the same way, there being at that time not
more than ten or twelve children of school age living near enough
The successful opening of not less that ten collieries within
a few miles of the place made a market that quick-witted business
men were not slow in grasping; and, although fifteen years ago
Parker Street was a wild country road, cut through the under-
brush, it boasted in 1880 as fine a grade and as handsome rows of
business blocks as can be found in many an older town.
To this prosperity John Hower, E.C. Wagner, William Gwyther,
Dr. A.B. Sherman, Louis Blass and E.J. Becker contributed large-
ly. Mr. Wagner, as the agent of the estate, by his liberal and
prudent management made his trust a valuable one to his princi-
pals, and incidentally, to the people of the place. In 1872, the
inhabitants petitioned for a borough government.
The Girardville Gazette was founded in 1878, and its first
number was issued March 17th of that years, by T.F. Hoffman, who
continued it until August 1st, 1980, when John A. Gilger took
charge of it. In February, 1879, he discontinued the subscrip-
tion price, which had been one dollar a year, and issued it as an
advertising sheet distributed gratuitously. In August 1880, Mr.
Gilger disposed of his interest to the firm of Smith & Arnold,
who have renewed the practice of charging a regular subscription
price of one dollar per annum. It is a six-column folio, issued
weekly and well filled with local news.
The only other journalistic venture in the place was under-
taken by Smith & Stephens, who issued twenty-five numbers of a
paper called the Girardville Herald, a four-column folio, in
THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
The Girardville school board was organized May 17th, 1872, by
the election of Thomas Connor president, Henry Schafsted, secre-
tary, and E.C. Wagner, treasurer. The first directors were Thomas
Connor, E.C. Wagner, Henry Schafsted, George Rogers, Patrick
Follard, and Ephraim Goldin.
At that time there were two school buildings in the borough,
one of wood, accommodating three schools, the other of brick,
with two schools. In 1876 the board erected the elegant and
capacious high school building, a fine brick structure, on a lot
adjoining the old brick house. It cost $12,000. The expense of
erection was defrayed by the issue of bonds. The total value of
school property is $16,000. Nine schools are sustained, with the
same number of teachers, and an aggregate attendance of five
hundred and forty-six scholars.
The directors for 1880 were: president, John Johnson; secre-
tary, F.D. Butler; treasurer, George Strong; and William Higgins,
Joseph Fetzer, and John G. Scott.
The borough of Girardville was incorporated June 4th, 1872,
being taken from
the house of Mr. Blass, and resulted in the choice of the following officers:
Joseph Swansborough, chief burgess; James Brennan,
William Daly, Louis Wehl, Thomas Rodgers and John Griffith,
councilmen; Thomas J. Lewis, clerk. The chief burgesses since
have been: Joseph Swansborough, 1873 1874; Daniel Eister, 1875,
1876; Jonathan Davis, 1877, 1878; Joseph D. Davis, 1879. The
officers for 1880 were: Chief burgess, Joseph D. Davis; council-
men-Thomas, Bracey, Thomas D. Davis, Michael Cook, Louis Blass
and Robert Green; town clerk, J.H. Prichard.
A lock-up and council room was built in 1872, at a cost of
about $1,600. At a special election held at the house of Louis
Blass, August 9th, 1879, the question of raising a loan and
erecting water works was submitted to the popular vote, and
decided in the affirmative; and the council took steps toward
securing a suitable water supply.
Girardville Light Infantry, Company I 7th Regiment N.G.
was organized July 24th, 1872, and mustered in for five years'
service. Its officers were: Captain, P.H. Monaghan; first
lieutenant, P.H. Dolan; second lieutenant, W.P. King. There were
The company was called out during the labor riots of 1875,
June 3d, and at Shenandoah relieved Captain Linden's police
force, who had been on duty sixty consecutive hours. The company
was stationed at that point until itself relieved, fifteen days
later, by the 8th regiment, under Colonel Gobin.
During the Centennial exhibition, in 1876, the company was
quartered at the Atlas House in
the 2nd day of July, 1877, when within two days of the expira-
tion of their term of enlistment, they were called to
to assist in quelling the railroad riots. They responded prompt-
ly with full ranks, and were highly complimented by General
Latta, the commander in chief. While there they re-enlisted in a
body, and were sent to
August. The company also attended General George G. Meade En-
The officers for 1880 were: Captain, P.H. Dolan, who was pro-
moted to fill the vacancy caused by the promotion of Captain
Monaghan to be major of the 7th regiment; first lieutenant, James
Bones; second lieutenant, John Fell. The company meets for drill
at the armory, on Richard and Railroad streets, everyTuesday
evening; and for business the fourth Tuesday of each month.
The Girardville Greys were organized July 21st, 1876. The
first officers were: Captain, T.F. Hoffman; first lieutenant,
George Nattrass; second lieutenant, Henry Davis, who still re-
tained that rank in 1880. The company musters sixty rank and
file. During the riots of 1877 they were stationed at
and Rocktown until the end of the riots. They attended Meade
Encampment in 1880.
GIRARDVILLE MAMMOTH SAVING FUND ASSOCIATION
This institution was chartered in May, 1873. Among its
founders were Louis Blass, Joseph M. Glick, Henry Haas, Dennis
Kirke; secretary, P.J. Birmingham; treasurer, Henry Haas.
At the close of the fiscal year ending April, 1880, the net
assets were $61,047.94. The officers for 1880 were; President,
C. Eberley; secretary, P.J. Birmingham; treasurer, Joseph M.
SECRET SOCIETIES OF GIRARDSVILLE
Washington Camp Patriotic Order of Sons of America was insti-
tuted December 27th, 1869. The charter officers were:
J.M. Glick, P.P.; A.B. Sherman, P.; T.F. Hoffman, V.P.;
G.W. Barnhard, Con; B.E. Troutman, R.S.; B.J. Smith, treasurer;
C.S. Phillips, M. of F. & C.; J.C. Wolff, A.R.S.; S.K. Cleaver,
F.S.; J.J. Weightman, chaplain; C.G. Hower, I.G.; J. Brophy, O.G.
The officers for 1880 were: P.P., James A. Morrell; P., J.H.
Babb; V.P., E.C. Becker; M.of F. & C., C.J. Seaman; R.S., T.L.
Evans; A.R.S., G.H. Becker; FF.S., J. Wesley Mertz; treasurer,
C.J. Hower; Con., John Crosby; I.G., L. Lichenstein; O.G., O.G.
Johnson; C., E.D. Gregory; R. Sent., J.C. Evans; L. Sent., W.
Aqua Lodge, No 736, I.O. of O.F. was instituted on the 7th of
November, 1870. The following persons were installed as the
first officers of the lodge: Thomas Sanger, N.G.; John Wademare,
V.G.; H.B Johnson, R.S.; Daniel Billman, assistant recording-
secretary; J.F.Price, treasurer; trustees, George Tiverton,
Louis Blass, and J.M.Glick.
The lodge is in a flourishing condition, and numbers one hun-
dred and three members. Two members of this lodge, Thomas Sanger
and Thomas Gwyther, were allegedly murdered by Mollie Maguires. Its meet-
ings are held at the lodge rooms in Haas Hall,
Tuesday evening of each week.
The officers in the last term of 1880 were: Adam Sala, N.G.;
William J. Yeo, V.G.; H.B. Johnson, R.S.; Nicholas Blass, assist-
ant secretary; Christopher Eberley, treasurer; E.C. Wagner, Louis
Blass and William Clark, trustees.
The lodge owns a cemetery lot of several acres just outside
of the borough limits, where its members and their families are
entitled to interment. Upon the death of a member $60 is allowed
for burial expenses, and half that amount on the decease of a
member's wife. The assets of the lodge amount to $2,400.
Jennings Post, 121, G.A.R. was instituted in 1879, with John
M. Jenkins as post commander, Louis Biltz adjutant, and J.M.
Glick quarter-master. The last two still serve. It meets on
Thursday evening of each week at Haas Hall, and it was composed
in 1880 of thirty-eight members, with William G. Gwyther as post
Girardsville Division, No. 35, Sons of Temperance was insti-
tuted April 12th, 1879. Its first officers were: W.P., W.P.
Daniel; W.A., Miss M.M. Kluse; R.S., T.L. Evans; A.R.S., Dr. A.
Burt; F.S., E.D. Gregory; treasurer, William Stein. The follow-
ing persons have filled the office of W.P.: W.P. Daniel, two
terms; B.S. Evans, John Kerby and O.G. Johnson.
The officers for the last term of 1880 were: W.P., O.G. John-
son; W.A., Miss E. Smith; R.S., T.L. Evans; A.R.S., W.P. Daniel;
treasurer, L. Stephens; F.S., B.S. Evans.
CHURCHES OF GIRARDVILE
As is not unfrequently the case, a Sunday-school was the nursery of the Protestant churches of this borough. One was organized in 1862, with D.T. Hendricks as its superintendent.Its meetings were in what was known as "the White School-House."The people who gathered there occasionally addressed by clergymeof the Primitive and Episcopal Methodist denominations, until theyear 1864; at which date the members of the congregation most favorable to the Primitive creed organized and built a church for themselves.
Rev. Robert Weightman, a local preacher of great zeal, was perhaps the most prominent of the missionary preachers to this flock.
The preachers of the Baltimore Conference contin-
ued to labor here until 1867, when Hon. Jay Cooke, then a member
of the Preston Coal Company, built a church edifice for the use
of the employes of that company, and succeeded in securing the
services of Rev. D.D. Hudson as a missionary.
During the following year a change in conference boundaries
placed the church in the territory of the
ence. Mr. Hudson remained pastor until 1870, when he was suc-
ceeded by Rev. Andrew Cather, who was followed during the ensuing
year by Rev. J. Brickerton. Under the pastorate of the last
named gentleman the trustees obtained a charter from the county
court and Mr. Cooke completed his favors to the church by donat-
ing to it the building which he had erected, deeding it to the
In 1872, David McKee was appointed to the charge; in 1873, Eli
Pickersgill; 1874, and 1875, D.M. Gordon; 1876, D.H. Shields;
1877, A.L. Urban; 1878 and 1879, Josiah Bawden; and in 1880
George A. Wolfe, the present pastor.
In 1874 a new building, farther up town, was commenced, which
was completed and dedicated in 1877.
The society now numbers about one hundred members, with a
Sunday-school of two hundred scholars. Elijah Gregory is the
Primitive Methodist Church
The preliminary meeting for the purpose of organizing this church was held at the residence of Edward T.
Joseph Wells, James Stonier, Thomas B. Marsh, Josiah Boughey,
George Strong, William G. Gwyther, Edward T. Davis and D. Wasten-
holm. A board of trustees was elected, and steps were immediate-
ly taken toward the erection of a new building, the corner stone
of which was laid with the usual ceremonies August 7th, 1864.
Revs. Charles Spurr, George Parker and George Bell officiating.
This building, a framed structure, 35 by 45 feet, situated on the
north-east corner of Parker and Richard streets, was dedicated
November 19th, 1865; Rev. J.K. Helmbold and Dr. F. Cowen taking
charge of the exercises. The cost of the new church was $3.000.
Here the congregation worshiped until February 2nd, 1872, when
the house was destroyed by an accidental fire. A new building,
of brick, 40 by 60 feet, was immediately commenced on the old
site, and finished during the following year, at a cost of
$8,000. It was dedicated October 19th, 1873, by Rev. T. Penrose,
years the church was served by the pastors of other stations; the
first resident minister, Rev. Richard Povey, entering on his duties July 3d, 1866.
The following list comprises the pastors here since Mr. Povey's removal,
with the date at which each assumed the pastorate: Richard Turner, July,
1869; Joseph Bickerton, July, 1870; W.B. Bache, July, 1871;
Thomas Bache, January 1872; Joseph W. Reed, July, 1872; W.B.
Bache, April, 1874; H.G. Russell, April, 1875; George Parker,
November 1876; Samuel Evans, April, 1879; Thomas Bateman, April,
1880. The last named is the present pastor.
A convenient parsonage was built in 1875, at a cost of
The Sunday-school was organized May 14th, 1865, with Edward
T. Davis as its superintendent. A juvenile department has since
been added. The total attendance in 1880 was 180, besides teach-
ers and officers.
This organization was the outgrowth of a Sunday school, which held its first meeting in the primary school building, July 12th, 1875. It numbered eleven teachers and thirty-six scholars, and consisted of members of Baptist families. The
principal workers of the school were William Waters and George
Howells, of the
and Jonathan Harvey. Rev. William Warlow, then pastor of the
church at St. Clair, made this field a mission branch of his
church during that year. On the 9th of March, 1876, a council
met, composed of members of adjacent churches; and William Waters
and wife, Mary Blass, Lizzie Lewis, George Howells, Jonathan
Harvey and wife, Daniel Morris and Thomas Richards, presenting
letters from neighboring churches, together with David Evans and
Clair; Eliza Phillips, of the Welsh church at the same place, and
Jane Frick and Elizabeth Purcell, who were received by baptism,
were recognized as the Baptist
uest of the new church the council recognized Rev. W. Warlow as
its pastor. He was succeeded by Rev. M. Brown, at the expiration
of whose term of service the General Association of Pennsylvania
sent Rev. Samuel Goodshall to preach for this church, and also to
supply mission stations at Shenandoah and Frackville.
The present pastor is Rev. D.T. Davis, who accepted the
charge in December, 1878. He is a native of
graduate of two English colleges.
Services were held in the school-house until December 25th,
1880, when the congregation took possession of a church edifice,
which was then formally dedicated. The new building occupies a
lot on A street near the Lehigh Valley Railroad depot, 60 feet
wide by 100 deep, which was the gift of the Girard estate. The
edifice is a wooden structure 34 by 48 feet, built by Price &
Hall at a cost of $22,000. The furnishing and a cabinet organ
cost $400 more, and the entire expense was provided for on the
day of dedication. The present membership is sixty-two, with
William Waters, George Howells, Jonathan Harvey and John Evans as
deacons. The Sunday-school, under the care of Deacon George
Howells, has an average attendance of one hundred.
St. Joseph's Church was organized on the 10th of August, 1870. Its first pastor was Rev. Joseph Bridgman. For two years the congregation worshiped in a temporary chapel, erected on a lot in the rear of the present building. The cornerstone of the new church was laid October 21st, 1872. The building was completed in 1876, and, on account of failure to pay thecontractor, was advertised for sale by the sheriff on a mechanic's lien, and was bid in by the contractor for $12,000. Meantime Rev. Daniel O'Connor was appointed pastor in January, 1877, and, finding the church in a dangerous state, refused to pay the amount claimed as due on it. Thus the building passed out of the hands of the church, and it is believed this is the only instance
in this country of a Catholic church building having been alienated from the congregation by sheriff's sale. The building remained in the hands of the contractor until May, 1879, when it was purchased by the congregation for $6,700. Father O'Connor commenced at once to make the building safe, and it was consecrated by Archbishop Wood on the 19th of October, 1879, in the presence of a crowd of fully 15,000 people-one of the largest gatherings ever held in the county - Catholic societies being present from nearly every town in the county, and making it an
event long to be remembered by the friends of
The building is of wood, on a cut-stone basement. It is located on the northwest corner of Richard and Parker streets. On an adjoining lot is the priest's house, a handsome French roofed structure.
St. Joseph's Total Abstinence Society, connected with the
church, has a membership of two hundred, and there is also a
sodality of one hundred and twenty young men, and a Sunday-school
of four hundred members.