The birth of Mauch chunk/ Jim Thorpe PA

All the information that I’m about to post here came from the Mauch Chunck Historical Society I will include the link to the site. I  did not write any of this it’s right from the site I’m only barrowing the information from them. I do not own any of the information that  I’m about to post. Here is the link to the page where you can find all the information on and where I barrowed the information from as well :http://mauchchunkhistory.com/home.html

Prior to 1818 the place where the Mauch Chunk Creek entered the Lehigh River was
a wild and lonely place. The creek met the river in a wide, rocky estuary known
to the few locals in the area as “Little Spruce Swamp”. Above the swamp, rocks
and boulders choked the stream, creating many pools and ponds as the water
cascaded toward the river. Rhododendrons grew thick on the steep hillsides and
fish and game abounded.

As for the presence of man, there was very
little, but what there was stood out in the wildness of the scene. The site had
been used by the Lehigh Coal Mining Company (LCMC) as a boat landing, but there
was much more activity in this regard about a mile up the river at Lausanne
Landing. The Lausanne Tavern also played host to the officials and laborers of
the LCMC when they were working in the area.

Perhaps the most
noticeable sign of man at Mauch Chunk prior to 1818 was the state road that
paralleled the river. Nicholas Kern, a pioneer of Lehigh Gap, had improved the
old Moravian Road from Lehigh Gap northward to the village of Weissport.
Beginning in 1792 he extended this road north along the river to the base of the
Broad Mountain. It was used mainly to reach the coalmines at Room Run (later
Nesquehoning). Kern was plagued with problems in the construction of this road,
with some of his worst problems located at the swamp at Mauch Chunk Creek. The
details of Kern’s road are not known, but it is likely he constructed a bridge
at the site.

 

By 1818 great
change was in the wind along the Upper Lehigh. The old LCMC was out of the
picture as a new company – or rather a pair of new companies, entered the scene.
Three partners had taken an interest in mining the coal and getting it to market
– two totally different ventures. To that end, they founded the Lehigh
Navigation Co. to improve the river and, shortly thereafter, the Lehigh Mining
Co., to mine the coal. This allowed backers their choice in what endeavor to
invest in. In a few years the two concerns would merge to form the Lehigh Coal
& Navigation Co.

 

Josiah White,
Erskine Hazard (Philadelphia businessmen) and George Hauto were the three main
partners in this new effort. They first visited the Upper Lehigh in 1817,
returning in spring of 1818 to commence work. White and Hazard recruited 13
laborers for the project and it was decided that the best way to quarter the
workers would be to construct a small fleet of boats that would carry them to
work the different work sites on the Lehigh. White dubbed the fleet “Whitestown
on the Lehigh”. Beginning work at Lausanne Landing, the crew gradually worked
its way down the river, moving rocks and clearing a channel in the river. The
workers were a mix of men – some local mountain people, some brought from
Philadelphia. All were roughnecks and strangers to White and Hazard – some of
dubious background. The partners, working side by side with their crew, were
mindful come payday so as not to be murdered by their employees.

 

By the fall of
1818 a channel had been cleared on the Lehigh and that work crew was dispersed.
The “Whitestown” boats returned to the Mauch Chunk Creek for the season. For the
next part of the work, White brought in a crew of 18 laborers, men from his
factory in Philadelphia and other men known to him. Along with White, Hazard and
Hauto, these men constitute the “charter citizens of Mauch Chunk”, the first settlers.

 

Some were only
short-term residents. Others remained and made a life for themselves in the new
village – some even spending the rest of their lives here. James McCrea became
one of the town’s best-known citizens. Born in Scotland in 1788, the wheelwright
had worked for White at his Philadelphia factory. He remained in Mauch Chunk
plying his trade from 1818 until his death, which came in 1882 at the great age
of 94. For many years his wheelwright shop stood where the Marion Hose Co. now
stands. He is the only charter citizen to be buried in the Mauch Chunk
Cemetery.

 

During the winter
of 1818-1819 the Whitestown boats remained moored at Mauch Chunk. One of those
boats housed Mauch Chunk’s first family, that of LC&N steward Nicholas
Brink. With the spring thaw of 1819 construction began again and Brink and
family moved from the boat to the first dwelling in the village. This was
located along the creek near where the Navigation building now stands, and
included a large bakery on one side, operated by Nicholas with three of four
helpers. The village grew rapidly in 1819 and soon there were over 600 laborers
to house and feed. Brink’s wife Margaret worked as a cook and was the
housekeeper for the large boarding house adjacent to the Brink home.

 

Not long after the
Brinks moved into their home, they welcomed a new child into their family. Born
April 21, 1819, he was the first child born in the village and was named in
honor of the three LC&N partners responsible for the founding of the town.
The full name bestowed upon the child was Josiah White Erskine Hazard George F.
A. O. Hauto Brink
His birth was a great cause of celebration for the village
and the laborers made an especially big event of it. Not only were they
celebrating the birth of a child, they were celebrating the new spring, their
hard work, and the firm establishment of the village of Mauch Chunk. A witness
described the celebration thusly,

 


”The forest was
illuminated with pine torches, plenty of good old and pure whiskey was drank,
and the noise and dancing were so great that it seemed as if the very tops of
the pines had caught the infection and kept time with it by waving to and
fro.”

 


And
so it was that Old Mauch Chunk was born, carved out of the wilderness as a
company town for the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co.

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