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Early Times Capsule

Saturday, December 26, 2009

By JIM ZBICK

jzbick@tnonline.com

Two days before Christmas in 1909 Tamaqua lost one of its most distinguished citizens in Mrs. Sarah Wolmelsdorf Souder.

Sarah was a direct descendant of Conrad Weiser, the 18th century German immigrant who served as an Indian interpreter and helped coordinate Pennsylvania's Indian policy.

Weiser's diplomacy skills were well-known outside our state's borders. If he ever had the need to write a job resume during his time, he could have dropped the name of George Washington as a reference.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

By jim zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com

To help readers get into the spirit of Christmas, the Tamaqua Courier ran a number of feel-good stories in 1909.

The first, published 11 days before Christmas and titled "Forget Them Not," urged residents to remember those children who would not be receiving gifts. The omission was not because the children were naughty.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A century-and-a-half ago, before the Civil War, no one could have imagined equal rights for African Americans, let alone a black man one day becoming president of the United States.

Before the war to end slavery, the only time a black person would become a noteworthy subject would be on a poster, listing him as a runaway slave. The underground railway, a route of safe houses used by runaways to flee north, was common in Pennsylvania's northeast and central counties.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

By JIM ZBICK

jzbick@tnonline.com

"Crime Here on Increase," a headline in the Tamaqua Courier blared a century ago.

The article reported that nearly every town in Schuylkill County was experiencing an increase in crime. Leading the way was Shenandoah with 80 criminal cases bound for court, followed by Mahoning City (39), New Philadelphia, Pottsville (16) McAdoo (12) and then Tamaqua (10).

This was not the kind of news local citizens wanted to hear heading into the holiday season in 1909. Most disconcerting was much of the crime was perpetrated by teenagers.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

By JIM ZBICK

jzbick@tnonline.com

For many rural families a century ago, hunting was seen as a necessity since it put food on the table.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

By JIM ZBICK

jzbick@tnonline.com

Imagine having Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel and star pitcher Cliff Lee make a stop in your town while motoring through the area.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

By JIM ZBICK

jzbick@tnonline.com

In the fall of 1909, many Pennsylvania farmers were looking to the skies for help from the drought conditions that had gripped the Mid-Atlantic region.

In October, the skies literally opened up and dumped great amounts of rain on some areas of the Keystone State.

The severe weather system first affected areas of the deep South when a killer storm, which the Tamaqua Courier labeled a "southern cyclone," struck in mid-October.

The Courier report painted a bleak picture in the storm's aftermath.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

One day in late October 1909, a man wearing a heavy steel and leather harness to support his head and neck visited the newspaper office of the Tamaqua Courier.

Despite his obvious discomfort, W. Teddy Peters said he was not looking for sympathy and that he had never asked for charity. Instead, he wanted to share his survival story with the newspaper readers.

"Tamaqua was honored today with a visit from the man who claims that he is the only living individual with a broken neck," the Courier reported.

Friday, October 30, 2009

After making history with the first powered flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C., on Dec.17, 1903, brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright were treated like modern-day rock stars wherever they went.

The brothers had come a long way from their days of running a bicycle repair shop and factory in Dayton, Ohio, and by 1908 and 1909, they were literally on top of the world. After travelling to Europe, attention was riveted to their new flying machine in France, Italy, England, and Germany.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pennsylvania's prison reform efforts are rooted in the state's early history. To encourage humane treatment of inmates, a group of Christians known as the Society of Friends (or Quakers) established the Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons in 1787.