Nanticoke Historical Society

Nanticoke Historical Society

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

John Haydock at the City of David Excavation in Jerusalem.

In 1981, John Haydock, former mayor of Nanticoke, was among 120 International volunteers chosen by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to attend an archeological dig in the City of David, the oldest Museum. Haydock’s passion for archeology was evident in the 1970’s as he unearthed many stone knives and tools on a one-acre site in Huntington Township. One discovery of a spear point dated from 9000 B.C. Haydock had an extensive collection of Indian arrowheads and artifacts from the Huntington Township site.
section of Jerusalem. During the excavation, workers unearthed remnants of King Solomon’s Temple. Also during Haydock’s three-week expedition he was credited with uncovering a 14 inch stone statue from the Iron Age Period, which is about 1,100 B.C.  While there, Haydock was filmed by Israeli television crew after the discovery. His find went on to be displayed at the Hebrew University

Haydock at the City of David Excavation in Jerusalem.

City of David

Discovery of an oil lamp from 1800 BC

Iron Age Pottery

Incredibly rough terrain

City of David dating back to 1000 BC

A four-room house City of David 1,000 BC

Submitted by Judy Minsavage for NHS
Photos courtesy of Sally Gorgas

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Nanticokes- Reprint From our newsletter Fall 2014

The Nanticokes

People of the Ocean

In 1747, a small segment of the Nanticoke Indian population of the Eastern Shore of Maryland took to their dug-out canoes and paddled up the Delaware River then on to the Susquehanna in search of a peaceful place to settle. Leaving the only home they'd ever known and weary of a century of conflict with the English colonists, one can imagine their fear but sense of hope for a better life as they stepped on to the shore of what is now the city of Nanticoke. Seeing the abundance of pristine fertile land to farm, mountains to hunt and rivers to fish, tribal leaders must have thought their decision to migrate north a good one. Under the invitation and protection of the Six-Nation Iroquois, tribesmen built their wigwams and at night watched the flickering campfires of their Indian brothers, the Shawnee, across the river. Their new home seemed safe and far away from the colonists and their intolerance of all things Indian.
Despite their determination to make this their new
home, the Nanticoke would find their peaceful
existence short lived.

Who were the Nanticokes

Much of what we know about the Indians that populated Eastern United States was garnered
from accounts, stories, and maps documented by Captain John Smith in the 1600's. Smith recorded
the Indian settlements, governing systems, ways of life and rules of behavior. Listing the tribes and
their names was a challenge, so the English spelled them phonetically, resulting in several different
names for the same tribe. Smith documented Nantiquack (some spellings list as Nantiquak); in
what is now Dorchester County on the Delmarva Pninsula of Maryland, as the area in which the
Nanticoke lived. According to William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, Volume 14,
Nantaquack translates to “a point of land on a tidal stream”. The Lenni-Lenape translate it as “people of the ocean.” The Nanticokes were also known as the Nantego, Unechtgo or Unalachtigo... The Nanticokes, a southern offshoot of the Lenni Lenape (Delaware) tribe, were farmers and traders. Nanticoke women harvested corn, squash and beans, which they called the "three sisters." The men hunted deer, elk, turkey, and small game, and fished in the ocean and inlets. As English colonists arrived and settled along the Eastern Shore in the 17th and 18h centuries, Indian tribes were squeezed out of their settlements. The Nanticokes primarily, a peace loving people, were caught in a struggle between maintaining their traditions and adhering to the English laws. A splintering of a tribe  During much of the 1600'S the Indian nations had to decide at what level they were willing to compromise to retain the land allotted them. At various times, while still in Maryland, the Nanticokes resorted to violence against the English. One final stand, in 1742, resulted in fierce reprimand of the tribe by the English after they were betrayed by a member of the Choptank tribe who informed the colonists of the planned uprising. Into the late 1600's and early 1700's the Nanticokes tried negotiating treaties with their adversaries, but the colonists found it hard to understand Indian traditions, resulting in missteps that again led to a series of conflicts.

The Nanticokes realized the colonists were determined to push them from their lands so the tribe
splintered. Some migrated north, others westward to Ohio, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Ontario, Canada.
Wanting to stay close to their homeland, a significant number of Nanticokes moved eastward into Delaware and settled in Indian River Hundred. A segment that traveled to Pennsylvania settled on the Susquehanna. There they stayed until conflicts between the Six Nation Iroquois and the English settlers threatened their peaceful existence. Avoiding conflict It is written, that by 1753, well before the French and Indian War of 1758 and the Revolutionary War of 1775 the Nanticokes left the Wyoming Valley migrating north to New York and Canada, in hopes of finding the life they once had before the arrival of the colonists. Only since an 1879 U.S. Federal Court decision, has the American Indian been considered "persons within the meaning of the law." It was not until 1924 that Congress recognized Native American people as citizens of the United State. It was not until 1978 that Congress signed into law the "American Indian Religious Freedom Act," giving the Native Americans the right to practice their religious beliefs. Today, according to the tribe's website, there are about 550 Nanticoke Indians in Sussex County Delaware and about 500 in other parts of the state. There are members living in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Canada. Though the Nanticoke did not find the peace they were looking for on the banks of the Susquehanna, they left a legacy along with their name, a hope for a better life. As we delve into the history of our city, we find that this area represented a chance for a better life not only to the Native Americans, but to many generations of people who emigrated to the United States in the 18 and 1900's. 

Quick action led to
first memorial.

It stopped raining shortly before noon that November day in Dallas, Texas in 1963. If not
for that simple fact, our country's history may have been very different. At 12:30 p.m.,
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated as he rode in a motorcade through Dealey Plaza in
downtown Dallas, Texas. The sun appeared and a last minute decision was made not to attach the
limousine bubble top, which would have quite possibly protected he, the first lady, and Texas
governor and Mrs. John B. Connelly from an assassin's bullets. In Nanticoke, it was 1:30 p.m.
a 62 degree day and workers had just finished lunch and were back on the job constructing the
city's new $400,000 grade school on Kosciuszko Street. Word of the president's death must have
passed quickly among the workers and city residents. Suddenly time stopped. Our city, a
country and the world were in mourning. Four and a half hours later school board president
Leonard (Mack) Mackiewicz, board members and visitors met and stood for a moment of silent
prayer for the murdered president, after which a motion was made by Gelso Biscontini and
William Matikiewicz to name the new educational facility set to open in 1964, the John
F. Kennedy Memorial School. Mackiewicz and school board directors Biscontini, Matikiewicz,
Andrew Dorak, J. Novak, Mauro Nardozzo and John Shipp voted to pass the resolution. The
quick action possibly made the school the first in the nation to carry the president's name. A
resolution mourning the assassination was also adopted at the meeting and sent to the president's

Submitted by Judy Minsavage for HNS

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What's Buried in Patriot Square?

(Reprint from our Summer Newsletter)

Our Newsletter is posted to Facebook, is available at our website on our Stories Page and is available by subscription thru  our office.

Samantha Mill House • 495 East Main Street • Nanticoke, PA 18634• 570.258.1367

 What's Buried in Patriot Square?

The Susquehanna Coal Company laid out Nanticoke’s “Central Park”, now Patriot Square, in 1874 providing a place for residents to gather, discuss the events of the day and enjoy warm sunny afternoons. Locals did just that attending park concerts, shopping at the surrounding stores and enjoying the beautiful trees and flowers. In 1904, Commander George W. Simpson, Spanish-American War Vets made arrangements for securing a cannon for the public park, The gun was to be shipped from Ft. Wadsworth, NY, with 20 8-inch shells that would be placed in a pyramid at the base of the weapon. The cannon was placed on its concrete base and unveiled on July 4, 1904.
By 1909, city fathers were concerned with Central Park’s deteriorating walkways, unkempt trees and bushes, litter and vandalism. In July of 1912, Council members made a decision to spruce up the park and create a circular walkway in the center. Work was scheduled for bordering walkways along Broad, Market, Green and Prospect Streets as well.

While doing the excavation for the project, a young city worker, John Werth, uncovered a box described in the July 29, 1912 Wilkes-Barre Record as, “one foot in length, five inches in width and two and one-half inches in depth.” One can imagine Werth’s piqued curiosity as he lifted the box from its dirt-filled nest, handling it with care and pondering its contents. He immediately took it to his father, Street Commissioner Anthony Werth, who upon opening the lid, discovered the value of its contents worth more than he may have expected. The metal box contained a paper dated April 26, 1876, upon which, the following was written:
“Burgess of Nanticoke, Milton Stiles. John Werth, Jr, president of town council. Council members: Dr. William Barnes, George D. Morgan, S.S. Driesbach and Isaac D. Williams.”
One can only wonder what connection Anthony Werth had to the 1876 town council president, John Werth, Jr. No mention of a relationship could be found by this writer in Historical Society records. We do know, however, Commissioner Werth, named his son, the fellow who discovered the box, John. As Werth continued reading he must have recognized other names of prominent Nanticoke families.
“School directors, George Arrs, president; Jerry O’Brien, John Dunn, George Blakely, Samuel Keithline, Thomas R. Williams and Treasurer John Fairchild. Borough attorney, Dr. Harry Hakes. Street Commissioner, John Dunn. Constable, James Ryan. High Constable, John Dunn.
Principal business houses, Hildreth & Co., S.P. George, Silas Alexander, W.P. Jones, Evan Morris, George Hill, I.P. Vandermark, Charles Lewis, general merchandise. Druggists: Dr. A.A. Lape, and D.K. Spry; Clothiers: A. Hursh, George H. Aurback and C.H. Rich. Bankers: Washington Lee Co., with John Werth, Jr. cashier. Doctors: Dr. A.A. Lape, Dr. W. Robbins, Dr. R.A. Hylton and Dr. William Barnes. Ministers: Rev. Johnson, Rev. Hill, Rev. Harris and Father Mattingly.
Also enclosed, was a document noting the borough had been organized in Feb. 1874.
Obviously what young John Werth had discovered was a time capsule, that had been buried 36 years earlier on the 100th anniversary of the birth of the nation.
Also found in the box, were two coins, a check and a number of newspapers. The check read as follows: “Nanticoke Bank, Nanticoke, April 26, 1876, Washington Lee and Co. Pay to the coming generations or bearer, $9 trillion, signed by Centennial Committee. Written on the back a notation which read, We surmise that future ages will consider this event perhaps in the light of ridicule, but we give it as the best light we have in this (so-called) barbarous age.
The coins were an 1863 penny and a three cent piece made in 1868. Newspapers enclosed were the Daily Record of the Times, Wilkes-Barre dated April 25, 1876; The Luzerne Union, Wilkes-Barre, dated April 12, addressed to Charles Lecher; The New York Tribune, dated Oct 2, 1872; the Weekly Herald, New York, dated April 28, 1876; The Weekly Star, Plymouth, dated March 1, 1876 addressed to A.A. Lape; The Plymouth Index, dated April 2, 1876, addressed to Jacob Krause; The People, Wilkes-Barre, dated April 19, 1876 and The Pittston Comet, dated April 19, 1876.

According to the Wilkes-Barre Record
Commissioner Werth took the box to a Councilman Craig, chairman of the park committee who was unsure of what to do with the box.
In an article published in the Wilkes-Barre Record on August 14, 1912, Council President Smith suggested that “the box found in the park be placed in the window of Scureman's,” (a drug and photo store located on Main Street) for one week, then in a vault in the city building until the completion of park renovations.” It was then decided by council that the box would be reburied with “other similar data and articles.”

Without a Trace…
No one can be absolutely sure, but legend has it that Street Commissioner Werth personally oversaw the reburying of the box in Central Park. It is said that he made known the site’s location only to his daughter. Over time, and with the death of Werth, his daughter, and anyone who may have known of its whereabouts, the location of the box and its contents are forever a mystery.
In 1976, in honor of the countries bi-centennial celebration, a new time capsule was buried in the park. The park was renamed Patriot Square and a monument to local WWII Veterans was placed at the center of the circular walkway that Anthony Werth's son, John, excavated for so many years ago.

At the time, no mention was made of the discovery of the 1876 time capsule. One can only assume that the box with all of its contents, remains in the same location Anthony Werth had placed it 102 years ago.

By Judy Minsavage for NHS

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A special story submitted by a NHS member. Your involvement makes us who we are.

By John J. Rynkiewicz
I received this today in an email from my friend ANDRZEJ SZCZUDLO from Poland concerning his connection to the RYNKIEWICZ/RENKIEWICZ family from Krasnopol and also to the families who settled in Meriden, Conn. See attached file for a wonderful document translated by Andrzej's son Michal Szczudlo. Comments/Suggestions welcomed! I was jot able to load this document here on FB and so it will be placed on my Yahoo Home page for all to view. Here is the document and you must read all the way through!

(We got it John!)

He wanted to die in Poland ... 

I come from Sejny, located on the Polish – Lithuanian borderland. There are my family roots, both the father’s and mother’s side. As a child I had a limited awareness of the subject. Those days my knowledge of a family circle was narrowed down to a few dozen people in the area. We've had maintained a close contact only with people from the neighborhood, due to the obvious lack of transport possibilities, as well as time for celebration meetings. In the stories repeated by my mother the most recent was a story about the nobility origin of her ancestors Buchowski. After some years I decided to check it, but also throw in something about my ancestral roots from the father’s side, the Szczudlo. That’s how I stepped deep into genealogy. I started digging information mainly about three names in the family: Buchowski - my mother's maiden name, Szczudlo and Rynkiewicz - paternal. From the Rynkiewicz came my grandmother Marianna, my father's mother. 

Family Rynkiewicz of Krasnopol always knew that they had a family members in America. No one living, however, could tell who it was, what is the actual relationship to them. Layers of memory launched my father, Zygmunt, who remembered that in the interwar period to their home in Zagowiec (name in use until 1975, after which the village was connected to the neighboring one named Gawieniance) did come packages with different goods from across the ocean. One of them he memorizes the most because it makes him smile everytime it’s brought up. Some uncle from the USA sent my grandmother ointment, but in fear of eating it by the unaware people from the village wrote as he could: “Marianna, you do not need to eat that!”. He probably thought that the grandmother should not eat it, but lubricate the affected area, however after several years in the USA uncle had a right not to know the words “should, shall” etc., which would better describe the meaning of his message. It came out funny, but was saved thanks to that he was the uncle from America, who did send the packages. We also know that these packages sometimes contained cigarette paper, which later Jan Szczudlo, earlier mentioned Marianna’s husband and my grandfather, ritually pulled from behind the beam of his house. There was some more equipment behind the beam: special pad holder and a sharp knife for cutting tobacco as well as a bag for it. From my childhood, when I lived in Olecko and used to be on vacation with my grandfather, I remember when he took to the preparation of a cigarette. Focusing he did pull characteristically his tongue out (my father inherited this habit, also did I) and linger after the edge of the paper. Then stacked together and the cigarette was ready. Sometimes the American cigarette was not enough and then grandfather Jan was using an ordinary newspaper. It have been an awful stink and maybe that is why I have discouraged to cigarettes for a lifetime.

Grandfather left for eternity within a year after grandmother, in 1970. From my observation I gained an instructive memory: when she lived, he did argue with her to death, but when’s gone, he had the courage to say that he would rather have her sick, take care of her - if only she was. It reminds a well known phrase of Father Twardowski to haste in loving people because they leave so quickly. 

Since then it's been more than 40 years and now we are able to assert the truth of who was this mysterious Uncle from America. The story of a relative from overseas told me in 2007 my aunt Halina Debinska from Gdynia, the daughter of Antoni Rynkiewicz - the brother of my grandmother Marianna. She mentioned that many years ago her father, Antoni, contacted him. Some time after our meeting, my aunt sought in home archive and found documents explaining that. 

Actually it is not known exactly when and under what circumstances John Rynkiewicz went to America. However, from archival documents we know that in the 20s of the twentieth century he was wanted by Ludwika Wierzbicka. December 30th, 1936, the Regional Court in Grodno Branch in Suwalki in closed session dealt with filed by above mentioned Ludwika motion for recognition John Rynkiewicz and Antonina and Wiktoria Krzywicki as missing and a motion for appointment of a guardian. As a result of the Prosecutor’s of the District Court in Grodno motion to establish the guardianship for the rights and property of John Rynkiewicz aka Renkiewicz – as to the power of attorney authorizing Jozef Rynkiewicz, which was attached in the original to the motion filed on December 22nd, 1936 (duly certified by the Consulate General of the Polish Republic on June 2nd, 1936), the District Court in Suwalki on August 29th, 1923, overruled the motion in part to recognize John Rynkiewicz for missing and to appoint a guardian, dismissed Jozef Swiacki of guardian duties and redeemed further proceedings. The Court also ordered to notify Swiacki and Jozef Rynkiewicz, return the power of attorney and send a copy of this order together with the Jozef Rynkiewicz’s motion to the Prosecutor of the District Court in Grodno. 
The content of the power of attorney: 

“I, the undersigned, Jan Renkiewicz, a former resident of the Krasnopol, from Land Suwalki in Poland and now inhabited in Meriden, New Haven County, Connecticut, North America, give these power of attorney for Jozef Rynkiewicz currently inhabited in Krasnopol, in the Land Suwalki in Poland. 
By this power of attorney I authorize Jozef Rynkiewicz to manage my property and real estates in Krasnopol, in the Land Suwalki, Poland as a manager and proxy on my behalf until my arrival to Poland. 
Jozef Rynkiewicz is authorized to lease for money whomever he wants. Money received from my real estates is to be used to pay taxes. The remaining part should be deposited to the bank on the name of Jan Renkiewicz. 
I also authorize Jozef Rynkiewicz, giving him the overall power and authority in all matters substitution of judicial and extrajudicial also as to protect my interests regarding my real estates in front of all authorities etc. 
Whereof this power of attorney complies with my will it is signed by the presence of the witnesses personally.”

Meriden, Connecticut, May 22nd, 1936
Handwritten signature: Jan Renkiewicz 

Years passed, and John from America did not return. The 50s of the twentieth century came, and with them the next official communication on the “reality (real estate – added by the author) in Krasnopol”. The letter, written on December 13th, 1956, reveals the entire genealogical puzzle concerning John. Here are its contents: 

Notarial Act
“I, Jan Renkiewicz, once using the surname of Rynkiewicz, born on May 13th, 1881, the son of Franciszek and Jozefa maiden name Andruszkiewicz, residing now at 5 Main Street, New Britain, Connecticut, USA, own the plot of land with an area of 8,40 acres bordering the north to the land of Jan Kowalewski, east of Boleslaw Nosekowski, south of Kazimierz Malinowski, and on the west by Stanislaw Karlowicz, located in Krasnopol, a former district Suwalki, Bialystok province now, Poland. 
The plot, under the notarized power of attorney issued by me on May 22nd, 1936, manages my cousin Jozef Rynkiewicz, and now leases it my nephew Antoni Rynkiewicz, the son of above mentioned Jozef Rynkiewicz and Stefania maiden name Stawinski. 
By this Act, the above-described property with all components and appurtenances, I give to my nephew Antoni Rynkiewicz listed at the beginning of the act. 
I hereby authorize Antoni Rynkiewicz to any legal and required actions to settle the above mentioned property as well as to the disclosure of this Act in the land register.” 
Jan Renkiewicz

From the stories told by my aunt Halina Debinska I know that in the 60s John contacted Antoni in Poland wanting to be buried in his fatherland. He was, however, already too old and sick to take a trip across the ocean. For a long trip to the United States, in order to bring the Uncle back, Antoni did not decide. His daughter Halina wanted to go, but unfortunately she did not get a passport permission. 

The epilogue of this touching story is contained in a letter of 5 September 1967. Adel Raffler from Meriden - daughter of John Renkiewicz, writes to Antoni Rynkiewicz, then living in Swinoujscie: 

“Dear Uncle! 
We sincerely wish to write to you that our dad John Renkiewicz deceased last week, on Thursday at eleven o'clock in the morning. Our dad has not been healthy for a few years. My dad told me to write to you and let you know when he is dead. Our dad had 8 girls and 4 boys. Our mother had died three years ago (around 1964). We thank God that my dad lived for so many years. Dad died on August 31st, 1967, at 11 o’clock in the morning.
May God give you all health, long life and blessings.”
Adel Raffler
59 Frary Ave, Meriden, Connecticut, 06450, United States

Having had a lot of news about the “American Uncle” and powerful tool as the Internet is, at the beginning of the 21st century I made the effort to locate at least one person from the families of his twelve children. Information about the Renkiewicz of Meriden and the surrounding area are on the Internet, even with email addresses, but unfortunately no one responds the messages. Certain members of the family did accept my invitation on Facebook, but did not enter a discourse.

More useful occurred to be contact made by my friend from the USA, also John Rynkiewicz, but with a different line. Several years ago I decided to help him find his family in Poland, which eventually succeeded. Ancestors of John come from the countryside Mscichy and Zebry near Grajewo. Since that time, I was his "Help in Poland", and he is my support in the USA. John Rynkiewicz launched an online family forum, which was visited by different Rynkiewicz. Finally, there also appeared Slovak Latzo John Noel, whose mother was of our Rynkiewicz line. It was he who decided to spend $ 2,000 on the lookout for documents. The company from Warsaw did look through Polish archives for appropriate metrics. They established one continuous history of the family Rynkiewicz, starting in 1730. The oldest revealed ancestor was Szymon Rynkiewicz, the oldest traces of whom were found in the village Wilkokuk in the parish Berzniki on Land Sejny. Then the family moved among the Zlobin, Krasnopol and widely spread in the area. Some people emigrated to America. Probably the first of them was Feliks, (born in 1845 in Zlobin, his parents: Jozef and Wiktoria Terlecki), then his brother Jozef (born in 1848), who was greatly deserved citizen for the community town of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. Another person from the same family of Krasnopol was another Feliks (born 1879 in Krasnopol, parents: Benedykt and Franciszka Kraszewska) who married in America Michalina Cichocka (in 1900), the daughter of an emigrant from Jeziorki Male, a village located few miles from the Krasnopol. Today, their cousin Joe Cichocki from Texas effectively gathers the evidence of the family presence in America.

The main character of this text, Jan Rynkiewicz arrived in America in the beginning of the 20th Century. In 1905 he married, and in 1934 obtained American citizenship and then took the legitimate dispositions relating to his real estates in Krasnopol. It was he who has sent packages to his relatives left behind in Poland. 

Detailed genealogical line is not generally available, because such a condition - I hope temporarily - has been made by the project sponsor. I'm obviously in its possession. I maintain e-mail contact with John Latzo who quite rarely use the Internet. However, I hope that soon I will meet him in person during scheduled for June this year stay in the USA. 

Andrzej Szczudlo, Wschowa, Poland

By John J. Rynkiewicz

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Nanticoke Celebrates in Grand Style in 1976

Nanticoke Celebrates in Grand Style in 1976

In 1976, the American people were in need of something to celebrate. The turbulent “Sixties” were over but Vietnam and Watergate were still open wounds. The country’s bicentennial in 1976 was a good place to start the healing process. Throughout the year events were being held across the nation.  Nanticoke City leaders were at the forefront of planning for a memorable celebration. On Memorial Day weekend a three-day event was planned for Central Park. There were shows, contests for children, dancers, musical acts and multitudes of people enjoying the festivities well into the night. The Memorial Day Parade was expected to be one of the most impressive events to be held in the history of Nanticoke. It did not disappoint. Over 25,000 people watched as 95 churches, organization and schools, with over 175 units of floats, marching bands and decorated vehicles passed in review... An estimated 95% of the approximately 2000 participants were from the city.


Lt. Col Andrew W. Winiarczyk, U.S. Army Ret., chaired the parade, assisted by Ronald Stashak, Al Ruck, James Goodwin, Millard Hafele, John Uren, Thomas Ellwood, Harold Welch, Melvin Swithers and Gary Bray. The color guard from the 109th Artillery led the parade. Committee chairman Frank Knorek, Millard Galat and Jule Zaniecki Co-chairmen and Winiarczyk rode in the official Bicentennial Car. Listed as “in the place of honor” in the parade, was Deborah Lupco of Nanticoke, who had been selected Miss Wyoming Valley that year. The Fishing Creek Confederates, a fife and drum corps from Bloomsburg, performed Civil War era music. The event was heralded as “unparalleled” in newspaper accounts.
With the memory of the successful Memorial Day celebration still fresh, Col. Winiarczyk and his committee unveiled plans for a 4th of July commemoration for Central Park.  Nanticoke’s churches, schools, fire departments and residents participated in a national ringing of bells at 2 p.m., the time 200 years before the Liberty Bell chimed heralding the country’s independence, 

The city's “newly adopted Coat of Arms was introduced and displayed. Central Park was dedicated as “Patriot Square” in a program that included Paul E. Kanjorski, Joseph A. Grabowski, John Castagna, Judge Arthur Dalessandro, Stanley Glazenski, Congressman Daniel Flood, Leonard Omolecki, Fred Shupnik and Thomas Hill.
Winiarczyk asked residents to wear attire and carry flags representative of their native land. Those participating were Rachael Welch and Kim Stankovic, as a colonial couple; Arthur Reese Trevethan and Beth Ann Trevethan, pioneer couple; Jeffrey Pollock, Native American; Lisa Marie Stashak, Czechoslovakia, Mitchel Braeta, England; George Dutton, Germany; Margaret Callahan, Ireland; Linda Williams, Israel; Donna Micocci, Italy, Soni Mailander, Korea; Theresa Webby, Lebanon; Ann Marie Glazenski, Lithuania; Tim Chong, Malalysia; Susan Michaels, Poland; Darcia Guravich, Russia; Bobby Allan Welch, Syria; Bohdan Krawczeniuk, Ukraine and Suzanne Edwards, Wales. George Pelas emigrated from Greece to the United Stated in 1914. He spoke on the subject, “ What America Means to Me.” Kiet Huynh, who came to the United States in 1975 from Saigon, South Vietnam, spoke as well.

Also participating were descendants Revolutionary War heroes.  Pictured left to right are Richard Buttrick, descendant of Major John Buttrick, who commanded the troops at North Bridge at Concord and on April 19, 1775, was the Minuteman who, “fired the shot heard 'round the world.” Carroll C. Moorhead, descendant of Charles Carroll one of the 58 signers of the Declaration of Independence, James J. Kelly Jr. and Ralph C. Gates, descendants of Major Gen. Horatio Gates, first Adjutant General of the Continental Army and victor over Gen. John Burgoyne in the Battle of Saratoga and Ruth Bloom Yeager and Robert Vincent Yeager, descendants of Daniel Boone, diplomat, pioneer and Revolutionary War officer.
For posterity the names of those participating in the bicentennial celebration were recorded on an official document. Each received a copy. The original documents were placed in a Time Capsule and buried in Patriot Park.

Submitted by Judy Minsavage for NHS

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Our Future History

The Nanticoke Historical Society is as much about our present day community as it is of our past.  In my limited capacity, when opportunities present themselves, I try to look around myself for new and interesting activities around me.  It's important to keep an open mind that others who may not  necessarily share our  opinions or beliefs still have much to contribute.  We are a nation, a state and a city of many all as a whole, whom make up who we are, to all our greater good. Whomever we are, we still are one a community each, with our own stories and history that I welcome and invite you to share your stories and history with us. If they be different, that is even better.

The Christian Music experience was a little outside my realm which was the reason for my prelude such as it was. My interests in music and electronics lead me, by invitation I must admit, to a quite enjoyable and most unexpectedly pleasant evening. The room was softly lit. The people were warm friendly and inviting. The church offered free coffee and confections.  It was an evening of music, of song and pleasant melody.  The lyrics often told stories of retrospect, self examination, of experiences that give life purpose and meaning and perhaps of mistakes made, that if could, would be make right.  If you are a person who believes completely in yourself, that all decisions and choices you made were in good conscience and were true and correct and ultimately produced the possible outcome for yourself at least, with lack of need of any kind of reflection, if your song is: Me, Me,Me, then this evening probably wouldn't be for you.  I would like to think that there may be some out there like that, but most of us to some degree have some true moral conscience, humility,  decency and respect for those maybe a little different.

Now in my more advancing years, my favorite genres of music generally fall into several categories. I tend to listen to old 1940's (I love the era),  public broadcasting: homespun, music, classical.  The old wooden music
like Arlo Guthrie, (and who remembers The Christy Minstrels).  I'll watch American Idol and The Voice, but do not recognise most of the music unless it is retro 60's, 70's 80's.  So, my outlook on Christian Music was: "Well it's out there", neither like or dislike.  It did however have an element to which I could relate to. Even if you are just somewhat spiritual, it deserves a listen.

The featured artist was Dave Griffen (Dave I hope I got that right - I was limited by my slight hearing impairment).

This evening the coffee house was broadcast live from Nanticoke's own low power station WVHO FM 94.5.  Limited to about under 300 watts, it's coverage is pretty much limited to the surrounding area. The featured  event host was Stephen Perillo and was operations were conducted by on duty staff station operator Warren Storosko. The show was produced by St.John's Lutheran Church Nanticoke.

Warren gave me a quick 5 minute tour of the broadcast facility which was quite modest but more more than adequate.  The station also does some music production. Warren explained some of the equipment and it's capability. Look for more photos on our Pintrest site Facebook and Nanticoke History

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Steve Bilko Still Inspires Today and is Subject of New Book.  – By Judy Minsavage

Steve Bilko Still Inspires Today and is Subject of New Book.  – By Judy Minsavage

Baseball is in full swing, and fans are diligently following their favorite team and player. Player stats and win/losses aside the road to the big leagues is not an easy one. In 1945, from the standpoint of Bennie Borgman a scout for the St. Louis Cardinal organization the road to success looked like a sure thing for Nanticoke's Steve Bilko. Borgman witnessed the powerhouse hitting of the seventeen year old Bilko as he played an exhibition game in Artillery Park in Wilkes-Barre. Later that summer Borgman traveled to Honey Pot and watched as Bilko slammed three home run balls in a coalfield lot game, Borgman recounted in an interview about the right handed hitter “One, homer would have been out of Yankee Stadium, Yankee Stadium, hell it would have been out of the Grand Canyon.” Borgman resolved to sign Bilko, and in 1945, Bilko joined the Cardinal farm system. He made his big league debut in 1946. His time in the minors garnered much attention but after his switch to the big leagues he batted .249. Bilko's time in the majors was spent “backing up players such as first baseman Stan Musial. In 1952 Musial batting .331 was moved to center field, leaving an opening for Bilko. The misfortune of breaking an arm and enduring a recovery period led him back to Triple A Rochester.  Returning to the Cards in 1953, Bilko won the starting job and batted .251 with 21 home runs and 84 RBI's. He led the National League in put outs and assists. The next year did not prove as well and his contract was purchased in 1955 by the Pacific League's Los Angeles Angels, a team with no major league affiliation. There Bilko thrived, slamming 148 home runs from 1955 to 1957 and was only the ninth player in the 100 year history of the Pacific League to be named MVP three consecutive years. His time with the Angels heaped star status on the man from humble beginnings, and in 1958, because of the attention, the Los Angeles Dodgers pursued and signed Bilko. Although, back with the majors, was again assigned a backup position for first baseman Gil Hodges. Bilko was sent to Triple A in Spokane and was acquired by Detroit in 1960. In 1961 the Angels joined the American League and brought Bilko back. While there, he batted, .279 with 20 homers and 81 runs batted in. By the end of 1962, he was named starting first basement and hit 8 home runs  in at the beginning of the season. However once again bad luck intervened and Bilko suffered a broken leg, which ultimately ended his career. Bilko returned to Nanticoke, where he resided with his wife Mary and three children Steve Jr., Tom and Sharon. Bilko's grace with which he handled the ups and downs of his career and his tremendous talent is admired to this day. His record states he played in 600 Major League games between 1949 and 1962 with the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers, Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels. Bilko, who passed away on March 7, 1978. was formally recognized in 2003 with his induction into the Pacific Coast Baseball League Hall of Fame and Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in Philadelphia.
In a March 10, 1978 article written by columnist John Hall of the Los Angeles Times, Hall wrote, “It is impossible for anybody who wasn't around Los Angeles prior to the arrival of major league baseball in the form of the Dodgers in 1958 to understand the hold Steve Bilko had on the sport public and press. His home run heroics of the mid-50's for the Angels made him a special sort of local legend.
With men on base and a rally brewing, the late Bob Kelley, voice of the Angels, frequently used a favorite phrase to stir the audience, ' and here comes Bilko!' Kelley would scream.”
To read more about Bilko check out “The Bilko Athletic Club: The Story of the 1956 Los Angeles Angels by Gaylon H. White, available at bookstores and  The description of the book reads as follows: “During the 1956 baseball season in the city of Los Angeles, Mickey Mantle’s pursuit of Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record was matched only by the day-to-day drama of Steve Bilko’s exploits in the Pacific Coast League. While Mantle was winning the Triple Crown in the American League, Bilko was doing the same in the highest of all the minor leagues with the Los Angeles Angels. He led the league hitters in eight categories, and the Angels romped to the pennant. Bilko hit one mighty home run after another to earn Minor League Player of the Year honors and inspire the team’s nickname, “The Bilko Athletic Club.”

Judy Minsavage, as co-editor, actually primary, editor of our Blog is doing an outstanding job. Judy has dedicated her valuable time in a volunteer capacity to help further grow our exposure to our organization and our community. we consider her a valuable asset in our endeavors in enlightening and educating our community of our rich heritage. Judy is also a columnist for the Sunday Dispatch were you can read her articles about other events in our surrounding communities.

Thank you Judy Sunday Dispatch
Please thank Judy for her wonderful work at: 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

On Thursday, May 15, The Nanticoke Historical Society hosted guest speaker Attorney Charles Petrillo who presented four movies that centered on the coal mining industry and were filmed in Nanticoke and surrounding areas.  The Price of Carelessness, a silent movie, focused on the hazards of being under the influence of alcohol on the job. The movie debuted at the Rex Theatre in Nanticoke on June 15, 1915, and as Petrillo pointed out, is a year and one month shy of the first time the movie was viewed by the public. Petrillo also pointed out, the film shot at Truesdale Colliery was probably one of the first times a movie was filmed underground. In it an accident, caused by a miner under the influence of alcohol after drinking at a local well known bar, causes the death of his helper. It showed the helper being transported immediately after the accident in a horse drawn hearse or black Mariah as it was known at the time, to his residence, in Concrete City. The second film, also silent, Mining of Anthracite, is also believed to be from the Nanticoke region and presented an overview of the coal mining process. A third film from the 1960s showed the mining operations at Wanamie and the former railroad there.   The fourth film, however, was an additional one Petrillo brought along as an added surprise. produced by Blue Coal Company, the film heralded the assets of coal as an energy source and introduced the company’s new coal furnaces. The film produced in the 1960’s was an attempt to curb the popularity of the new oil burners, that after the decline in the use of coal,  would essentially take over as heating units in homes and businesses. Petrillo, added one more surprise, telling  those in attendance they were probably the first audience in 60 years view the film.  Another wonderful scene from this movie showed the Huber Breaker in Ashley in its heyday.  The evening was a wonderful look back at the life of those who toiled to feed their families and was a graphic representation of how dangerous jobs in the coal mining industry were. The men and boys who risked their lives and the women who sustained homes and families under unbearable hardships were truly heroes.  The Nanticoke Historical Society would like to thank Mr. Petrillo and the Anthracite Heritage Museum for sharing these informative pieces of history with our community. 

Contributed by Judy Minsavage for NHS

Thank you Judy

Friday, May 2, 2014

We would like to share this story!

This was such a great story submitted to us us by
Chuck Anziulewicz on Facebook.  Not everyone follows us on Facebook but I thought this was worth sharing.  We thank Chuck immensely for this wonderful contribution.


If there was one town that makes me want to jump in a time machine and travel back 50 years to a simpler, more innocent time ... Nanticoke is that town. That's where my mom's side of the family was. I had cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents there. Today there are a vanishing few older relatives who can still lapse into conversational Ukrainian once in a while, but when I was a child it was VERY common to hear Polish and Ukrainian spoken frequently in conversation. I wonder if ANYONE in Nanticoke speaks Polish or Ukrainian conversationally anymore.

My grandpa was a coal miner, and my grandma worked for a while at the old McGregor clothing factory on East Washington Street. Although I spent most of my childhood years in the Washington DC area, visiting my grandparents in Nanticoke was always something to look forward to.

My mother's maiden name was Patricia J. Petrash. She graduated from Nanticoke High School in 1954 and later attended Wilkes College before getting married to John Anziulewicz, my dad. My mom's parents were Walter and Anna Petrash, and when I was just a toddler they lived on Hanover Street (I think 614) directly across from the Stegura Funeral Home; their old house is still there. At the corner of Hanover and Ridge Streets, where the Walting dental practice is now located, there actually used to be an old grocery store run by an old man named Jack, and whenever we were visiting my grandparents, my grandpa would give me and my little sister a few coins, and we would run down to Jack's grocery to buy candy. This was back in the early 1960s.

On Church Street there's Larry's Pizza, which I believe is currently managed by the son of the original owner, Larry Carns. What many people in Nanticoke today may not know is that the pizzaria was originally located on Hanover Street, and I remember seeing Larry Carns and his son (who was probably a few years older than me) working down there whenever my grandparents would send me down to pick up a pizza order. I stopped by Larry's Pizza on Church Street several years ago, and honestly the smell and taste of that pizza has not changed a SINGLE BIT over 45 years. The next time I visit Nanticoke, hopefully in the next few years, I'm going to make a pilgrimage to Larry's Pizza.

Some people on these forums have mentioned the old Leader Store in downtown Nanticoke. I remember going there with my mom on a couple of occasions, and I was always utterly fascinated by the network of humming motorized cables that were strung throughout the store, connecting checkout stations to the business office: Receipts and other business statements and envelopes would be attached to a cable and OFF it would fly to another part of the store! That must've been the epitome of high technology back in the 1960s.

Going down the hill from my grandparent's house to West Side Park was always a lot of fun. There was one piece of playground equipment that had to be one of the coolest, most dangerous pieces of playground equipment ever invented: The "Witch's Hat," which was a kind of tilting merry-go-round. But like so many other wonderful pieces of playground equipment like swings and teeter-totters, it was ultimately removed, probably because some careless kid got bruised or chipped a tooth.

My grandparents, as well as many of my other relatives, attended St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church located at the corner of Hanover and Green Streets. At the time the mass was sung entirely in Ukrainian, with the choir singing "Hospodi Pomiloi" (Lord Have Mercy) up in the loft. Women sat on the left, and the men to the right. The altar was flanked by large statues of Mary and Joseph, both of whom had green neon tube halos! There was the lingering smell of incense, the big metal rack of red votive candles at the back the church, and sometimes teams of old women in babushkas would be down in the church basement, turning out pierogies by the thousands! Sadly, the church closed a number of years ago, but it's still there.

Of course, ANYONE in Nanticoke over a CERTAIN age has fond memories of Sans Souci Park. I think it was probably the first amusement park I ever went to, and for any child it was sheer HEAVEN. There were great classic old rides like the Tumble Bug, Bearcat Roller Coaster, and the utterly terrifying Wild Mouse, which looked like it was held together with little more than chicken wire and spit. I have actually seen wooden horses of Sans Souci's carousel up for sale online (if you want to spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars). The Bearcat was the first roller coaster I ever rode, probably when I was all of seven or eight years old, and I remember keeping my eyes closed for MOST of the time!

Sometime in the 1970s my grandparents moved from Hanover Street to a smaller house at the corner of South Walnut and East Grand Street. Then in 1981 my dear beloved grandpa, Walter Petrash Sr., died rather suddenly: He was was working in his garden, suffered a ruptured aorta, and died on the operating table just hours later. It was very sad. My grandma, Anna Petrash, passed away back around 2003, I believe. My mother's sister, Sonia Marshall, died several years ago after a long battle with cancer. But my parents are still alive, and my mother's brother, Walter Petrash Jr. (who went to WOODSTOCK!), lives with his wife Barbara in Wilkes Barre.

Sometime in the next few years I'm going to drive up to Nanticoke, spend the day walking around town, taking pictures, and I'll go to Larry's Pizza for dinner. I'm 54 years old now, and if I don't do this soon, I'm afraid I never will.

Below is a photo from 1942 that my mom sent me. It was taken somewhere up on Avondale Hill. My mom is the little girl on the far left.

Friday, February 28, 2014

We're Back!

After several months of recovering from severe carpal tunnel syndrome. I've decided to resume my blog.  In the past, you the visitors have been kind to me and I miss interacting with you and telling you stories.  My capacity is still diminished.  But after a meeting at the Mill House last night we decided to launch a campaign to increase our visibility to the community.  Our blog was an important tool.  Although my capacity is still diminished I will be getting help from my co-author Judy, who frankly will be picking up the majority of the work. Judy has done an exquisitely professional job on our news letters and has expressed an interest in doing  more which we so much need and appreciate.  It will be my job to be the conduit of information and post the articles on this blog site for your pleasure and viewing.  We also have our Facebook page which is doing quite nicely with your support.  You have submitted photos and stories to share with us,  the very purpose the page in itself.  Your interactions and contributions are what we are all about and it has been immensely appreciated.

We are grossly understaffed and have an abundance of material to process.  If you have an interest in community involvement and would like to share in the spirit of camaraderie among historical buffs such as ourselves.  Please feel free to get involved.  As we barely have enough financial means to stay alive, your reward will be in the satisfaction of your work. Too often our over micro managed, and over automated jobs are tied to time constraints and productivity quotas.  We have a state of the art database management system with a relatively user friendly interface.  Your work will be at your own pace and will most like involve more drinking of coffee that anything else. Kindly please refrain from applying sugary soft drinks to keyboards.

Note: We do not endorse the use of stimulants for recreational use: Decaf prefered but not mandatory.

Your requirements will be a minimal amount of keyboard skills.
 ( The average 10 year old may already be over qualified).

A desire for community involvement.
A love for or at least an interest in our heritage and history.
A need to fulfil a desire of selfless sharing and to  broaden your insight
to our city around you.
A desire to interconnect with other entities of our community.
Being open to the idea that, although our coal history has been a major part of who we are,
there is so much more to learn and share.

Your benefits will be being  part of something special and perhaps being the catalyst that
will take our organization to the next level.
An opportunity to cultivate your own potential:  College students: this will look great on your resume.

We have a rich library of information and as a Society we have an obligation to share that with you.

To restart the process over I am reposting a short story written by our VP about the origins on HNS. Enjoy.

A number of years ago, in the pre-Google world, I stopped into the Mill Library to obtain some information on Nick Adams, actor and television star of the 1960’s. This information was for a friend in New Jersey who had a picture taken with Adams when he was a child. I asked if the library had a local history section or something similar and I was told that they did not. I obtained the information elsewhere and sent it to my friend.
During the ensuing years I often thought about the lack of a repository for the history of Nanticoke. The celebration of Nanticoke’s 200th anniversary in 1993 brought more thoughts of preserving Nanticoke’s History.
In my office I had hanging on my wall a display of a number of old Nanticoke post cards. Mark Regulski , visiting my office one day, noticed the cards and he told me of his collection of Nanticoke artifacts. The conversation then turned to the need to have some sort of an organization to collect and preserve Nanticoke History. The seed had been planted. Mark and I decided that we should make an attempt at organizing such and call it the Nanticoke Historical Society.
We had a notice printed in the paper stating that anyone interested in forming a Nanticoke Historical should meet in my office in the Nanticoke City Building.
That first meeting was attended by Mark and I, Julianna Zarzycki, Helen Buczkowski, , Martha Price, Celia Zeedock, and Lynn Maulbeck. Georgetta Potoski, President of the Plymouth Historical Society spoke to us on the formation of her organization and what we would have to do to start a similar group.
In addition to the fact that all were in agreement that we should go forward in the formation of a Nanticoke Historical Society, it was agreed that from the onset, it would be a first class organization with a Constitution, By-Laws, elected officers, and compliance with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations. It was also agreed that we had no intention of becoming a museum but merely a repository for information.
The Constitution, By-Laws, and other legalities were established and Attorney Bernard Kotulak agreed to work pro-bono for the organization in filing the necessary legal documents such as the Articles of Incorporation. In addition to becoming a Pennsylvania Corporation, the Nanticoke Historical Society also has 501 c (3) status with the I.R.S.
Our birthday is June 26, 1995.

The first elected slate of officers were: President-Mark Regulski, Vice-President-Julianna Zarzycki, Treasurer-Janine Whittaker, and Secretary-Chet Zaremba.
With all the “t’s” crossed and the “I’s” dotted, we had a group of enthusiastic people all ready to go, but without a place to meet.

The first few meetings were held in my Police Chief’s office in the Nanticoke City Building through the graces of Mayor John Toole and City Council. The Mill Memorial Library was gracious enough to allow us to hold a few meeting in their facility.

We then rented the “Log Cabin” on Shea Street and set up operations there. We worked out of the cabin for a while until it was sold to a new owner who had other uses for it in mind.
Founding member Martha “Becky” Price then arraigned for us to rent a section of the home next to the First Presbyterian Church on Main Street. We operated out of that facility for a good number of years. As we continued to grow, we needed more space for our operations. Coincidental with the appointment of a new pastor at the First Presbyterian Church who needed our office space as living space, we were offered the opportunity to rent a portion of the historical Mill Homestead next to the Mill Memorial Library. We didn’t realize how much “stuff” we had until it became time to move it to our new quarters. The move having thus been made, we are now operating very successfully out of this most historic building.