Organization—Physical Characteristics—Mineral Wealth—Streams—Railroads—Population—Justices of the Peace—Morris Run Mines and Railroad—Coal Mining Companies—The Village of Morris Run—Schools and Churches.
Hamilton township was created December 5, 1871, its territory being taken from Bloss and Ward townships. It is one of the smaller townships of the county and contains about fifteen square miles. Its surface is broken and for the most part mountainous, and was originally covered with a heavy forest growth. The pine and hemlock have been nearly all cut away, while a large amount of hardwood timber is annually used for props, etc., in the coal mines. The elevation ranges from 1,360 to 1, 800 feet above the sea level. Nearly the entire area of the township is underlaid with coal, iron ore and fire clay. Of the coal, three veins, the Seymour, Bloss and Bear Run, are workable. The township is well watered, the principal stream being the Tioga river, which flows in a northwesterly direction through the southern half, receiving Carpenter run, which flows from the south, and Morris run, which flows from the northwest. The valley of the Tioga is traversed by the Fall Brook railroad, and that of Morris run by the Morris Run railroad. The lands of the Morris Run Coal Mining company occupy nearly the entire area of the township, the portion devoted to agriculture being very limited. With the exception of some twenty-five or thirty families at Cummings’ mills, near the southeast corner of the Blossburg borough limits; a few families at Aylesworth mill, near the mouth of Taylor run, and a small settlement of Polish families in the northern part of the township, the population is confined to the village of Morris Run. In 1880 the census returns showed 2,060 inhabitants, and in 1890, 2,375.
The office of justice of the peace has been filled as follows: W. S. Nearing, elected in 1872; W. L. Richards, 1872; Nathan Church, 1877; Samuel Woodhouse, 1877; re-elected in 1882, 1887, 1892 and 1897.
MORRIS RUN MINES AND RAILROAD.
In 1832 when Richard C. Taylor made a geographical survey of the region in and around Blossburg, he discovered the existence of several coal veins in the valley of Morris run, a small mountain stream which rises in the northeastern part of Hamilton township, flows southwest, and empties into the Tioga river near the southeast corner of the Blossburg borough limits. It was named in honor of Hon. Samuel W. Morris, a pioneer settler of Wellsboro, prominently identified with the construction of the Corning and Blossburg railroad. In 1852 explorations, with a view to opening up new coal mines, were carried on in the valley of this stream, under the direction of the Tioga Improvement Company, with the result that coal of a superior quality and in paying quantities was discovered near its headwaters, about two and a half miles east of Blossburg. Steps were immediately taken to mine and market the coal. In order to do this it became necessary to build a line of railroad from Blossburg, along the valley of the Tioga river, to Morris run, and up the valley of that stream to the coal openings. This road was surveyed during the same year by Col. Pharon Jarrett, of Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, assisted by Humphries Brewer and J. Livingstone, and completed in October, 1853. It is four miles in length, and rises from an elevation above tidewater of 1,348 feet at Blossburg to 1,687 feet at Morris Run. It is now operated as part of the "Erie" system.
COAL MINING COMPANIES.
The Morris Run mines were opened in 1853 and were operated until 1862 by the Tioga Improvement Company, during which time there were mined 323,174 tons of coal. John Young was the first mining superintendent of the company, and James Brown, Peter Cameron, Jr., and Henry J. Landrus weighmasters. The office of the company was located at Blossburg, and that of the superintendent agent at Corning, New York, and also a paymaster of the company.
From 1862 to 1864 the mines were operated under lease by the Salt Company of Onondaga county, New York, with business offices at Syracuse. Maj. T. B. Anderson was appointed mercantile agent, and the business of the company carried on more extensively than before. Stores, offices, chutes and an increased number of dwellings were erected. During this period, and later, under the Morris Run Coal Company, John J. Davis was employed in exploring and developing the mines. He opened the East and Salt Lake drifts, advocated and adopted the T rail for mine tramways, and was the first to introduce mules in the mines.
In 1864 the Salt Company was succeeded by the Morris Run Coal Company. This company was chartered October 3, 1864, with $200,000 capital, and consisted of S. P. Haskin, president; John F. Dee, treasurer, who, with L. Gleason and Thomas T. Davis, all of Onondaga county, New York, formed the board of directors. The company’s offices were located at Blossburg, with a business office at Syracuse, New York. W. S. Nearing, at first employed as civil and mining engineer, was before the close of the year given full control as superintendent. This position he has filled with marked ability for thirty-two years. Every improvement or appliance tending to facilitate the working of the mines or promote the health and safety of the miners, that has stood the test of successful operation, has been adopted by him, and the mines under his charge are reputed to be among the best ventilated and the best managed in the State.
In 1877 the Morris Run Coal Company was succeeded by the Morris Run Coal Mining Company. This company wisely retained the old employes, almost without exception, and many of them are still in its service. Promotions have come to those who have proved themselves faithful and capable. Patrick F. O’Donnell, cashier and paymaster of the company, has held that position since March, 1868, and has disbursed millions of dollars. In the office with him are his son, John F. O’Donnell, book-keeper, and William Tipton, time-keeper. William O’Donnell, another son, is the freight and ticket agent of the company. Thomas V. Keefe, the telegraph operator and shipping clerk, worked in the mines as a boy, and has reached his present position by successive promotions. James C. Hadley, mining foreman, is an old employe. Michael Driscoll, foreman of the Jones mine, has been employed in Morris Run since the opening of the mines, coming from Blossburg in 1854. Campbell Haddow, foreman of the "Lake" or "New" mine, has been in the company’s employ over twenty years. The weighmasters are John Palmer, at the Jones mine, and John Hayes, one of the oldest employes of the company, at the "Lake" or "New" mine. Henry Hollands held the position of weighmaster at Blossburg from May 18, 1863, to his death, November 28, 1895. His successor is Frank H. Stratton. Homer C. Treat, the outside foreman, has charge of the saw-mill and of the force employed in the woods getting out logs, tan bark and timber for mine props. The saw-mill has a capacity of 20,000 feet of lumber a day.
The Jones mine is ventilated by a twenty-foot exhausting fan, driven by steam. The "New" mine is ventilated by shafts. Coal from the Jones mine is conveyed to the chutes in mine cars hauled by an endless wire rope or cable; the cars in the "New" mine are hauled by mules in the main drift, and then by mine locomotives to the chutes. During 1894 there were 709 men employed by the company, 522 of whom were miners. The average number of days worked by each man during the year was 138¾, and the total amount of coal mined 209,961 tons. The mining and timber lands of the company embrace about 7,000 acres, and are situated in Hamilton, Ward, Union, Bloss and Covington townships.
The Tioga and Morris Run Telegraph Company was chartered September 23, 1979, the incorporators being W. S. Nearing, Morris Run; A. J. Owen, Fall Brook; Anton Hardt, Alonzo H. Gorton and George R. Bowen. The line built by this company runs from Tioga Junction to Morris Run and Fall Brook, and is for the use principally of the Morris Run and Fall Brook Coal Companies.
THE VILLAGE OF MORRIS RUN.
As a preparation for the working of the mines and the building up about them of a mining village, sixteen log houses were erected in 1853, the first occupants of which were Joseph and Henry Mitchell, James R. Cameron, Joseph Hughes, Frank smith, Samuel Vickers, John Nailor, William Kelley, Andrew Baird, William R. Gilmour, William Bland, Dennis Mooney, John Kelley and James Brown. An office building for the superintendent and a store building were soon afterward erected, as were also coal chutes, switches, etc.
After the Morris Run Coal Company assumed control of the mines the village grew rapidly. Churches and lodges were organized and schools established, and large accessions to the mining population were received from Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland. In 1874 there were 2,350 inhabitants, occupying 356 dwellings. The present business interests include a general store, owned by George a. Magee, and managed by M. Tucker, agent. It is patronized by employes of the company, and the amount of business done each year is very large. Abernathy & Company run the meat market and also a wholesale liquor store.
A postoffice was established soon after the opening of the mines, the first postmaster being John James, Jr. His successors have been R. C. Bailey, Stephen Bowen, T. G. Dallman, Philip Williams and Lewis Nearing.
The resident physicians are Dr. H. E. Caldwell and Dr. J. H. Keily, each of whom carries on a drug store in connection with his practice. Among the predecessors of Drs. Caldwell and Keily were Dr. William Caldwell, who came in 1867 and remained until 1891; Dr. Charles Drake, Dr. Nathan Ingram, Dr. Griffin, Dr. W. W. Williams, Dr. Smythe, Dr. Henry Kilbourn and Dr. M. L. Bacon.
The Hamilton House, erected in 1864, is the only hotel. The first landlord was Frederick Caldwell, succeeded by David Wetzel, Capt. R. C. Bailey, George W. Phillips, Stephen Bowen, T. G. Dallman and Niel Munro.
SCHOOLS AND CHURCHES.
There are two public school buildings in Morris Run. Five teachers are employed, and the schools hold a creditable rank among those of the county. a public school is also maintained at Cummings’ mill. The children of the Polish families in the northern part of the township attend a school erected in 1895 just across the Covington township line, but on the Morris Run Coal Mining Company’s land. There is also in Morris Run a parochial school, conducted by Rev. S. Siedlecki, pastor of the Polish Roman Catholic church. In this school both the Polish and English languages are taught.
The Presbyterian Church of Morris Run was organized July 5, 1856, with the following membership: Alexander and Jean Pollock, James and Marion Brown, Andrew and Catherine Baird, John and Janet Dunsmore, William and Jane Gilmour, William and Catherine Watchman, John and Elizabeth Baird, James Morrison, Mrs. Mary Young and Mrs. Mary Rodolph. Alexander Pollock was chosen elder; William Gilmour, deacon, and James Brown, clerk. Rev. Sidney Mills was the acting pastor. This church maintained its organization until 1859. On May 11, 1864, after a lapse of about five years, the First Presbyterian church in Morris Run was organized with twenty-one members, most of whom belonged to the church organized in 1856. This church continued as an organized society until 1877, when, owing to the removal of the greater part of its membership to Arnot, it passed out of existence. The last entry in the session book is dated August 26, 1877.
The Welsh Baptist Church was organized in the year 1864. The first pastor was Rev. J. R. Harris, the deacons John M. Jenkins and William S. Edwards. A church building was completed and dedicated in August, 1873. It is a neat and attractive edifice, capable of seating 400 persons, and represents an outlay of $3,500. The church has had no pastor for several years.
The Primitive Methodist Church is the successor of a Welsh congregation organized in 1864. The present organization was effected about 1869. The building was erected in 1866, and, with repairs and improvements, has cost about $2,400. The names of the pastors who have served this church are as follows: Revs. Thomas Bateman, Mr. Sniffin, John Acornly, D. Savage, John Mason, John Atkinson, Thomas McKay, S. Hancock, W. Gratton and T. M. Phillips, who has had charge since June, 1894. Thomas P. Cornish is the superintendent of the Sunday-school. The church numbers thirty members, and the Sunday-school has an average attendance of ninety pupils.
The First Welsh Congregation of Morris Run was organized about 1864, and was regularly chartered, under the above name, January 29, 1867, the trustees being David Jones, John E. Jones and David Davis. Rev. Philip Peregrine, of Blossburg, was the first pastor. Rev. F. Tilo Evans, also of Blossburg, served this church for a number of years. Removals weakened its membership, who being unable to support a pastor, have for several years worshiped with the church in Blossburg.
St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church was organized December 31, 1882, when the following officers were elected: Rev. P. J. Murphy, chairman; P. F. O’Donnell, treasurer; Thomas V. Keefe, secretary, and Daniel Fogarty, Philip Haily, David Hays, P. F. O’Donnell, Thomas V. Keefe and Rev. P. J. Murphy, building committee. A neat building costing $1,500—the Morris Run Coal Mining Company contributing the lumber—was erected, and was opened for service on Christmas day, 1883. This church is served by the pastor of St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic church, Blossburg, in which charge it has been since its organization. There is connected with this church a branch of the Catholic Total Abstinence and Benevolent Association, with a large membership.
St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church (Polish was organized in 1892. Its membership consists of about 150 families, with seventy children in the Sunday-school. The church building, a commodious frame edifice, cost $4,000. This church is under the charge of the pastor of the Polish Catholic church in Blossburg.
The Swedish Lutheran Church was organized in 1888. It holds services in a neat edifice, erected at a cost of $600. There are about one hundred members in the church, and thirty-five pupils in the Sunday-school, of which Albert Swenson is the superintendent. Although this church has had no regular pastor, its pulpit has been supplied by students from the Lutheran college at Rock Island, Illinois. Rev. O. A. Johnson, a student of this college, has been serving the church for the past year.
The Morris Run Baptist Church was organized August 20, 1896, with twenty-two members, and was admitted into the Tioga Baptist Association, September 3, 1896. This society worships in the old Welsh Baptist church building, and is in charge of Rev. J. A. Klucker, pastor of the church at Blossburg.
The societies of Morris Run are an important factor in promoting social
and fraternal feeling among the diverse nationalities that make up its
population. The pioneer society is Morris Run Lodge, No. 698, I. O. O.
F. It was instituted January 22, 1870, with forty-one members, and has
now nearly 100. Louisa Lodge, No. 105, D. of R., was organized May 14,
1875. After flourishing for several years it surrendered its charter, but
was revived in 1895. Tioga Lodge, No. 304, K. of P., was organized June
22, 1871, with twenty-four charter members, since increased to 150. Caradog
Ap Bran, No. 11, Adran F., a Welsh social and benevolent organization,
known as "Ivorites," was organized May 14, 1872. A few years ago it was
merged with the lodge at Punxsutawney, Jefferson county, by reason of removals
and decreased membership. Morris Run Lodge, No. 109, I. O. G. T., was organized
June 27, 1888. It now numbers twenty members. Division No. 3, A. O. H.,
was organized August 25, 1889, and has now upwards of sixty members.