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Early Times Capsule

Saturday, March 13, 2010

By JIM ZBICK

jzbick@tnonline.com

The census 100 years ago was a big deal in this area, especially since so many immigrant families had moved to and settled in the coal regions during the late 19th and early 20th century.

Tamaqua was a good example of the population surge. In 1900, it numbered just over 7,000. By 1910, town officials were expecting the census figures to show a population of over 12,000.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Undermanned, under budgeted and overworked local police departments were facing hard challenges during the first few months of 1910.

One man who was stretched to his limit was George Hahn, Tamaqua's police chief, who dealt with everything from street punks to hard-drinking miners to gun-slinging criminals. During one incident, Hahn went searching for a visitor from New Philadelphia who had been drinking heavily and was reportedly insulting women on the street.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

No one could dispute that in 1910, the Rev. Father Francis Brady was much-beloved by his congregation at St. Jerome's Church in Tamaqua.

His 17-year tenure at St. Jerome's was the longest of his coal region assignments and, in January 1910, the parishioners showed their appreciation by surprising him with a special evening event to mark his 25th year in the priesthood.

The congregation presented him with a purse with $800 in gold for his service, which at the time was seen as a most generous gift. With today's currency rate of exchange, it was a whopping sum of money.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

By JIM ZBICK

jzbick@tnonline.com

Just as there are numerous online and telephone scams going on today, persons living in the early 20th century also had to be wary of fraudulent print advertisements.

One century ago, a scam involving a phony matchmaking/marriage service originated from a residence on Lafayette Street in Tamaqua. Because the perpetrator, known as Mollie, used the mails to solicit money, federal authorities got involved in her case.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Between Halley's comet, the early "aeroplane" flights and reports of Unidentified Flying Objects, people living during the first decade of the 20th century had good reason to have their eyes glued to the sky.

The Wright Brothers, Wilbur and Orville, were busy pioneering the aviation field. The Ohio brothers received the congressional medal in 1909 for their service in the field of aerial navigation and in June of that year, they conducted trial flights at Fort Meyer, Va., for the U.S. government.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

By JIM ZBICK

jzbick@tnonline.com

Maybe it was the cold winter that numbed the senses, or the pressures of work and putting food on the table that drove some to desperation, but some weird news stories surfaced in the early weeks of 1910.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

By JIM ZBICK

jzbick@tnonline.com

January 1910 proved to be a deadly month for miners, not only locally but throughout the nation.

The largest loss of life came on the last day of January a century ago when an explosion of gas and dust killed 75 people at the Primero iron mine in Colorado. The Tamaqua Courier carried the story on its front page but somehow it doubled the actual death count in its headline which claimed "150 dead in Mine Horror."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

By JIM ZBICK

jzbick@tnonline.com

Rev. G.A. Humphries did not shy from using his pulpit at First Presbyterian Church in Tamaqua to rail against what he felt were excesses in society.

In late January 1910 he used his time to discuss the reasons for the high costs of living facing residents. Many of the pastor's observations of a century ago still ring true today.

Humphries admitted he was no economist.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

By JIM ZBICK

jzbick@tnonline.com

Pottsville's courtroom was a busy place during the first month of the second decade of the 20th century.

The Tamaqua Courier reported that 19 murders were committed in Schuylkill County during 1909, a number it considered "nothing less than appalling."

"Schuylkill County needs moral strengthening," one writer said.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

By JIM ZBICK

jzbick@tnonline.com

As a dealer in precious gems, no one was better at his trade in the early 1900s than James Edward Boeck. Blessed with fine looks, courtly manners and a host of wealthy friends, he had little trouble obtaining thousands of dollars worth of gems from dealers with no other security than his word. He even negotiated the $100,000 sale of a diamond and pearl necklace to industrialist J. Pierpont Morgan.