Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Friday, November 30, 2012
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION/DONALD R. SERFASS  A group of Tamaqua men apparently organized Hibernian Hook & Ladder Co. in the 1870s.

It was a group civic-minded men.

They lived in the 1870s and most or all were likely Irish Catholic. They were either immigrants or sons of immigrants.

They likely worked in the mines or performed manual labor.

They joined together and called themselves Hibernian Hook & Ladder Co. of Tamaqua. And they blazed a trail.

But they also left a trail of questions.

Three early units

To understand Hibernian H&L, one must first look at the earliest days of firefighting in Tamaqua.

Friday, November 23, 2012
DONALD R. SERFASS/TIMES NEWS After completing months of planning, volunteers of the Tamaqua Spirit of Christmas Festival grabbed a holiday wreath and, in a moment of fun, framed their hardworking chairwoman, Jean Ann Towle, center. Others, clockwise from bottom left: Leona Rega, George Taylor, Kathy Schock, Linda Heigele, Judy Hoppes, Linda Yulanavage, Gary Wayne Price, Karen Davison and Jason Boris.

The17th Annual Tamaqua Spirit of Christmas Festival will kick off next Friday, launching three days of attractions and events geared to all ages. The event sends a message that the special magic of the holidays is part of all of us, and it's right here at home, according to organizers.

A showcase of community spirit, the annual Tamaqua holiday festival brings together clubs, churches and organizations to stage one of the largest holiday festivals in Schuylkill County.

Saturday, November 17, 2012
AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS John Drury, president of the Mauch Chunk Museum, holds a display box of packets of anthracite coal. The Jim Thorpe Lions Club supports local Jim Thorpe nonprofits and White's Residential & Family Services in Indiana by selling small packets of anthracite coal. In the background is an image of Josiah White and a print of a portion of the canal system that he engineered.

Recently, when the borough's elementary school children were asked who founded their town, two of the responses were Jim Thorpe and Mark Chunk.

They are hardly alone. The town was established as Mauch Chunk in 1818 by Josiah White, the founder of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company. In 1954, the east and west sides of the town merged to form a borough, and it was named Jim Thorpe in honor of the Native American Olympic athlete-whose body was laid to rest in the town but who during his life had never visited it.

Friday, November 16, 2012
Dorothy Baclawski discussed details about some of the Gilbert Cemetery burials.

The October tour at the Gilbert cemetery sponsored by the Chestnuthill Township Historical Society was a tremendous success with 175 people attending. It was organized by Nancy Christman.

The tour began at the Conrad Kresge monument and ended at the Kresge Mausoleum with 25 stops in between including the story told by a woman whose home is next to the cemetery.

It began in the old section and continued in the cemetery's new section, ending at a table offering refreshments.

Friday, November 16, 2012
ELSA KERSCHNER/TIMES NEWS Dianna Russell decided her purple chapeau would be ideal to meet the cemetery tour people. She stood on the porch as she told people of the visitors from the past.

Dianna Russell moved into the former Church Schoolhouse next door to the Gilbert Cemetery in 1998. Since they were there she, her mother Janet and a daughter have enjoyed the company of people from the past. A son has not seen or talked to them.

"When we moved in we had an Episcopal priest bless the house," said Russell.

Her daughter began seeing things when she was young, said Janet of her granddaughter.

Saturday, November 10, 2012
In his short life, Canvass White would oversee or consult in the design of the Lehigh Navigation, the Union Canal, the Schuylkill Navigation, the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal, the Glens Falls feeder canal, the New Haven and Farmington Canal, and the water supply for the city of New York.

Two men are responsible for the transformation of the Lehigh Valley from a frontier into the cradle of the American Industrial Revolution. Those two, although they shared a common surname, were unrelated. They were Josiah White, founder of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company, and Canvass White, perhaps the greatest canal builder in America.

Friday, November 9, 2012
DONALD R. SERFASS/TIMES NEWS Tamaqua native R. Thomas Berner, retired PSU journalism professor, shares early career memories and provides advice to budding journalists of the Tamaqua Area High School Blue and White magazine.

Retired journalism professor R. Thomas Berner returned to his alma mater last Friday after an absence of 51 years and offered youngsters sage advice about a secret to success.

"Fall in love," he said. "Love your work. It's a labor of love," explained the former Pennsylvania State University instructor to fifteen staffers of the up-and-coming Tamaqua Area High School Blue and White magazine.

Friday, October 26, 2012
TN PHOTO ILLUSTRATION/DONALD R. SERFASS Friendly and trusting peddler Jost Folhaber hiked to the top of Locust Mountain, 15 miles northwest of Tamaqua, unaware he was being followed by sheer evil just one step behind. The peddler is represented here by Tommy Symons, village of Black Heath.

His name was Jost Folhaber.

He was a traveling salesman on his way to peddle wares.

He stopped for a short break at a tavern 15 miles northwest of Tamaqua, and continued on his way. Within an hour or two, he was ambushed and savagely butchered. Why? Not for revenge or hatred. But for simple greed.

The cruel homicide is recognized as Schuylkill County's first murder. And the victim is called The Immortal Peddler.

True to the name, the shocking story of the brutal death along the old Catawissa Trail will survive until the end of time.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Put four gallons of cider in a large copper kettle, add cut-up apples to within two inches of the top, cook, and 5-1/2 hours later there is apple butter. This is only one of the many exhibits at the annual Pioneer Day, an event sponsored by the Lynn-Heidelberg Historical Society and held in New Tripoli on October 6.

This year the stirring was made easier when it was found a rocking chair matched the motion required for the constant stirring.

Saturday, October 13, 2012
AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Tim Dugan (standing in left foreground) from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources led the planting project, the fourth program in their Tree Vitalize Program-previous programs have taken place in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton and over 2,000 trees have been planted.

A partnership of organizations with three dozen volunteers planted 520 trees as part of a project to transform a former hazardous waste site into a riparian meadow park which already has a boat launch and bike trail.

The site, along the Lehigh River, immediately south of the Rt. 873 bridge, was the location of one of the area's 19th century industries. In 1858, Robert Prince began processing the local iron oxide ore as a paint primer and established the Iron Ore Metallic Paint Company. The plant prospered and in 1879, was relocated to Bowmanstown.