GIRARDVILLE

Home of the best little St. Patrick's Day Parade anywhere!

About Girardville

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 Butler,

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 Schuylkill county, sent agents in  

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  Girard College. The principal use to which the lands were put prior to 1862 was  the

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 Preston tract were leased  to the Heaton and Colonel J.J. Connor, of Ashland, and in that year the first coal was mined and shipped, the first car load being sent

by Colonel Connor as a present to the mayor of Philadelphia, who

acknowledged the receipt in a letter of thanks, which stated that

he had divided the coal between the two soldiers' restaurants  in

the city.

 

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

Girard House.

The Presbyterians and Methodists in that part of Butler town-

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

to attend.

 

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 PRESS

 

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

1873.

 

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.

 

CIVIL GOVERNMENT

 

The  borough of Girardville was incorporated June 4th,  1872,

being taken from Butler township.  The first election was held at

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.

 

MILITARY

 

Girardville Light Infantry, Company I 7th Regiment N.G.  Pa.,

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

fifty-seven men.

 

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 Philadelphia for ten days; and on

the  2nd day of July, 1877, when within two days of the expira-

tion of their term of enlistment, they were called to  Harrisburg

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 Pittsburgh, and relieved on the  4th  of

August.   The company also attended General George G. Meade En-

campment at Fairmount Park in August, 1880.

 

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 Pittsburgh

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.

Glick.

 

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.

Waters.

 

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, Parker Street,  on

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

commander.

 

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  

M.E. Church

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  Philadelphia  Confer-

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

"M.E. Church of the United States of America.”

 

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

superintnedent.

 

Primitive  Methodist Church

The preliminary meeting for  the purpose  of organizing this church was held at the  residence  of Edward  T.  Davis, on the 3d of May, 1864.   There  were  present

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,

of  England, and W.D. Thomas, of Mahanoy City.  During its  first

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

$1,500.

 

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.

 

Baptist

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 Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron  Company,

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

wife,  of Ashland; Rev. W. Warlow, of the English church  at  St.

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 church of Girardville. At the req-

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 England, and  a

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 Roman Catholic Church

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 St. Joseph's  parish.

 

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.