Nanticoke Historical Society

Nanticoke Historical Society

Saturday, July 30, 2016

John. S. Fine Timeline As Research by the Nanticoke Historical Society Part II

My opening comments: A distant relative, the benefactor of this material was unable to be contacted. I was hoping to put some narrative and a personal story to this blog.  We were unable to contact her perhaps for reasons of anonymity, privacy or health,we are not sure.  In light of that we will present a timeline of John S. Fine Governor of Pennsylvania.

John Sydney Fine
  (Includes excerpts taken from article on the life of John S. Fine, author unaccredited, now in possession of Nanticoke Historical Society. New material added as uncovered.)


  John Sydney Fine was born in Alden on 10 April 1893, the son of Jacob W. and Margaret C. Fine.


  The family moved to Nanticoke about this time. John S. attended Nanticoke public schools, worked as a farm hand during the summer months, and also worked about the mines.


  A handsome piano was purchased by Jacob Fine yesterday. (WBR, Hanover column, Fri, 10/22/1897)

 Mrs. and Mrs. Jacob Fine, sons, John and Franklin, and daughter Bertha resided in Rhone. (WBR, Rhone column, Tues, 8/23/1898)
  J.W. Fine was a member of Knights of the Maccabees of the World, 1898 and a Nanticoke councilman, 1898


  J.W. Fine has a baby boy. His son, John, is ill with scarlet fever. (WBR, Tuesday, 2/21/1899)
  The 7-week old child of ex-councilman Jacob Fine of Hanover was buried in the Centre Cemetery yesterday. Services were conducted in the Centre Church. (WBR, Tues, 4/11/1899)
  Everette Fine, 2 months, son of Jacob Fine, was interred in Newport Cemetery on Monday, 10 April 1899. Pall bearers were Maud Andrews, Ethel Cease, Blanche Whitebread and Katie Carr. (WBR, Rhone column, Friday 4/14/1899)
  Mrs. Jacob Fine and daughter Bertha spent Thursday in WB. (WBR, Sat, 6/10/1899)
  Jacob Fine, who was burned in the Auchincloss engine house, is improving. (WBR, Wednesday, 7/26/1899)
  Bertha Fine was a graduate of the High School (1901) and teacher in the Nanticoke public school system. Bertha became Mrs. Harry Goulston and resided in Kingston at the time of her father’s death in 1931


  John S. Fine graduated from Nanticoke HS. While attending HS, Fine became an assistant to TA McHenry, in charge of the Nanticoke department of the WB Record. Fine showed an aptitude for journalistic work, which augured well for his success in that field and in his later legal profession.
  John Fine and John Smith left for Carlyle to take up the study of law at Dickinson College. (9/23/11)


  Fine took the preliminary examinations before the State Board in Phil. A total of 165 applicants tested and only 31 passed, of which Fine was one of the latter. (2/15/12)


  Friends of John Fine will be pleased to know that he has successfully passed his examination at Dickinson College at Carlisle and was handed his diploma a few days ago. (5/2/14)
  Date? Fine was admitted to practice at the Luzerne County Bar and became connected with the law office of Attorney Clarence Coughlin (later Judge Coughlin).


  Opened a law office at 15 E. Main in the former rooms of Atty. James M. Fritz over O’Brien’s Drug Store. (4/1/15)

  John S. Fine became a candidate for Republican State Committeeman for the 20th Senatorial District. (WBR 2/17/1916)


  District chairman of the Fourth Legislative District of Luzerne County.


  Fine and Hale Coughlin were among the first to volunteer for military service during WWI. After a period in officer’s training camp at Madison Barracks, they were commissioned first lieutenants and assigned to duty with labor battalions in the South. In the early stages of the war, both men were sent to France with the Expeditionery Forces of the 28th Division, where they saw active service until the end of the war.


  After the close of WWI, Fine entered Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland, where he pursued the study of law before returning to the US.
  Franklin Fine, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Fine of Middle Road and brother of Atty. John S. Fine, was a veteran of WWI. He was a member of the Medical Corps stationed in the general hospital at Ft. Ontario, Oswego. (WBR 8/7/1918)

  Fine returned to the US and opened a law office at 34 E. Main. (1919 CD)


  Fine and Atty. E. Foster Heller of WB were alternates for the advance guard of the local GOP attending the Republican National Convention in Chicago where nominations for the next president of the US were about to begin. (6/5/20)
  Served as secretary of the Luzerne County Republican committee (1920-21), by appointedment of Asher Miner.


  John S. Fine was appointed instructor in the law course in the WB Extension School of Accounts and Finance of the Wharton School of the University of PA. (WBR, Saturday, 1/22/1921)

  Fine supported Gifford Pinchot in his bid for the governorship of PA, thereby opposing the political machine of Luzerne County, which was supporting William G. Altar. After winning the election, Pinchot never failed to show his gratitude to Fine for his help. 


  Attorney John S. Fine has returned to his home after spending several days at Washington. (WBR, Saturday, 1/28/1922)
  Attorney John S. Fine has returned to his home after spending his vacation in Canada. (WBR, Thursday, 8/3/1922)
  John S. Fine was elected Republican county chairman, and was chairman of the Luzerne County Pinchot-for-Senator committee. He began building a party machine, and for the next 35 years the Fine Organization delivered votes to the party each election.


  JS Fine’s office was at 34 E. Main and his residence was on Middle Road. (City Directory)
  Franklin Fine and Walter Walp, juniors at the Dental College of Temple University, have gone to Philadelphia where they will resume their studies. (WBR, Wednesday, 10/3/1923)


  John S. Fine took the oath of office as Luzerne County Judge in Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, Philadelphia, on 3 January. Fine, who was named by Governor Pinchot, filled the vacancy caused by the death of Judge John M. Garman on Thanksgiving Day, 1925. Judge Fine, who was in Atlantic City recovering from a cold, was advised to take the oath of office before 10AM on the morning of 4 January when the PA Senate was due to convene. This step was taken to prevent the necessity of Judge Fine’s name going before the Senate for confirmation, which would have been the case if he had been appointed after the Legislature convened. Unable to reach Harrisburg in the appointed time, Fine took a late train to Philadelphia on the night of 3 January where he met John Brace of Plymouth, who had brought the judge’s commission from Harrisburg. After a frantic search for an available notary public to administer the oath of office to Mr. Fine, Mr. Brace located Nathan Goldstein, a notary public and taxi driver (the only notary public/taxi driver in the city), who administered the oath of office to Fine at 11:57PM on 3 January. Fine thus became the only Judge of the US who ever took the oath of office from a taxi driver. At age 32, Fine was the youngest man to serve as a common pleas judge in PA. He was a member of several fraternal organizations, including the Mason, POS of A, Nanticoke Lodge Knights of Pythias, and Fraternal Order of Moose. He was a member of the Reciprocity Club and attended St. George’s Episcopal Church, Alden. (1/4/27) (1/6/27)
  A number of public-spirited citizens of Nanticoke met and outlined tentative plans for a big testimonial dinner to be given in honor of Judge Fine at the Broadway Armory. (Jan)
  On July 20, Judge Fine announced his candidacy for continued tenure on the Luzerne County bench, after a delay of several weeks during which he had “made a careful analysis of the judicial situation.” Member of Nanticoke Post of the American Legion, Elks, several Masonic bodies, POS of A, Junior Mechanics, Reciprocity Club, etc. (7/21/27)
  Re-elected a Judge of Luzerne County, with 42,446 votes. (11/9/27)
  Mr. and Mrs. Jacob W. Fine of Nanticoke, parents of Judge John S. Fine, celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on 25 December 1927. (WB Record Almanac)


  Fine’s commission as Luzerne County Judge expired on the first Monday in January (2 January).
(He had been re-elected to a second term.)
  A photograph of Judge John S. Fine and cab driver/notary public Nathan Goldstein was printed in the 3 January edition of the Wilkes Barre Record, in which they re-enacted the swearing in ceremony that took place the year before. (WBR 1/3/28)

From: Eastern Pennsylvanians; Eastern Pennsylvania Biographical Association, 1928


  The State administration wing of the Republican Party organization in retained control of offices gained in 1930, and by winning every office in the 1931 campaign gained power and influence. A spirited battle was staged between State administration faction headed by Judge John S. Fine, Arthur Nicholson and Ambrose Langan, and the Old Guard faction, led by William P. Gallagher and former Lt. Gov. Arthur H. James. Candidates endorsed by the Fine-Nicholson-Langan group at the primary won Republican and Democratic
nominations with few exceptions.
Luzerne County
(Wilkes-Barre Record Almanac)







  Fine was re-elected county judge. 


  Fine ran in the Republican primary election for State Supreme
Court and lost.


  John Sydney Fine, 76 W. Main Street, Nanticoke (Nanticoke Telephone Directory listing, 1943)


 Governor Duff appointed Fine to the State Superior Court (10-year term).


  Fine resigned his position in the Superior Court on 1 March to seek the Republican candidacy for governor of PA.
  Fine became one of the “Blue Bell Boys” of the Duff faction of the Republican Party in the 1950 primary. He won the nomination by defeating Jay Cooke of Philadelphia by 201,923 votes. In the general election he defeated Democrat Richardson Dilworth in an extremely close election.
  Under the direction of Mayor Dreier and Chief of Police John Smereski, and a committee of public officials and representative citizens, plans were made for a motorcade and street demonstration in honor of Nanticoke’s native son, former judge John S. Fine. The event was held in conjunction with the Duff-Fine rally at the Kingston Armory. (Date?)
  During the campaign in October Fine’s wife, Helene, 42, fell from a platform and died while undergoing brain surgery at University Hospital in Philadelphia, leaving Fine with the upbringing of his two sons, John, 10, and Donald, 7. He never fully recovered from the loss, which colored the rest of his private and public life.


  Fine entered the Governor’s office on 16 January knowing he had to raise $120 million in new tax money to meet the increased cost of government, especially education. He asked for a state income tax of one half of one percent, which would have meant a tax of $50 on a salary of $10,000 a year. The tax passed the house but was killed in the senate.
  The 1951 legislature did pass some outstanding pieces of legislature, including laws to begin the care of drug addicts, an indeterminate sentence program for sex offenders, job retraining, and teacher pay raises.


  The state’s first bicentennial $1 billion budget was approved and Fine was forced to take the 1% sales tax to pay for it. The slogan “a penny for Fine” became popular and seriously damaged his reputation. 


  Fine received a major blow from the unfavorable publicity he drew at the 1952 GOP national convention. He headed the 70-member PA delegation, which was split between General Eisenhower and Senator Robert Taft. Fine was caught in the confusion and televised coast to coast as he raged to be recognized by the chair. It is ironical that he was a victim of the searing eye of television, for he had been the first governor to have his inaugural televised


  Governor Fine urged the PA legislature to approve educational TV. His 1953 legislature redistricted the State House for the first time in 32 years, approved a program of area technical schools, and established the Governor’s Commission on Industrial Race Relations. Fine set up the Chesterman Committee to find means for modernizing government, and many of its suggestions were adopted by the Leader Administration.

Letter to Eugene A. Hudak, City Clerk


Letter to Thomas B. Thomas, City Clerk


  Fine’s term as governor ended on 18 January. Though he left office a discouraged and unpopular man, with a Democrat in George Leader replacing him, he had been a fairly constructive governor. At age 61, he went into political retirement.


  Fine sought a position on the Orphans Court of Luzerne County but was defeated. He farmed at Loyalville in Luzerne County and then in March 1961 was indicted for income tax invasion. While under indictment he remarried, and in May 1962 was declared innocent of the tax charges.


  John S. Fine of Loyalville, a life member of Nanticoke VFW Post 290, was principal speaker at a testimonial dinner in honor of Louis T. Giusti, a long time quartermaster of the local veterans organization. The dinner was held at the American Legion on 5 March. (Sunday Ind., 2/20/1966; with photo)




John S. fine died 21 May 1978.

Short Biography of John S. Fine


Road To Success (Times-Leader, 5/26/1982)


Oil Painting of John S. Fine Presented to Board of Education



  John S. Fine, Jr.
  Married: Mariellen Daw
  Children: John S. Fine III; Helene

Saturday, June 18, 2016

John S. Fine part I

It's been awhile since I've done any blogging and I may be a little rough around the edges but I will try to present a story of interest.  The Story of John S. Fine may not be familiar to many readers. But if you are a History buff especially a Nanticoke History buff and lived in Nanticoke for a number of years.  You will find this story fascinating.

Perhaps you are a graduate of John S. Fine  High School. Has any one questioned why the school was named after him?  Has anyone told you of his story? This blog will reveal everything the the Nanticoke Historical Society has researched about him.  We are happy to share this story with you.  In the past I have closed the comment box.  After reconsideration I have decided to open it up.  After reading this blog we would love to hear your stories as as a student of John S. Fine High
school. Share your comments here and your photos on our Facebook page.
We would love to hear from you.

Notice: All photos in this blog are the archive of the Nanticoke Historical Society and are freely placed into the public domain any third party material that may appear will properly credited. If you take credited material please keep the captioned source.  Respect the rights of others.  Their hard work is deserving of such respect.

We are in construction of a John S. Fine Library with a collect of personal artifacts, law books and photos, some of which are not seen here.  Please support the Nanticoke Historical Society we have much to offer.  Become a a member or benefactor.  Become active, we need the help for simple tasks.  Extra hands could help so much.

John Sydney Fine

  (Includes excerpts taken from article on the life of John S. Fine, author uncredited, now in possession of Nanticoke Historical Society. New material added as uncovered.) 

The whole story will posted  Installments

And  Now Our Story Part 1

Before we start I will outline some key points of John S. Fine.

The Former Governor of Pennsylvania

  • John Sydney Fine was born in Alden on 10 April 1893, the son of Jacob W. and Margaret C. Fine.
  • He was a resident of Nanticoke
  • Fine graduated from Nanticoke HS. 
  •  He was an attorney 
  • 1927  John S. Fine took the oath of office as Luzerne County Judge in Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, Philadelphia, on 3 January He was a Luzerne County Judge
  • Fine is the name sake of Nanticoke Senior High School
  • He served in the military during WWI
  • Member of the VFW and American Legion
  • Fine Served as Governor from 1951 to 1955
  • Died May 21, 1978 at the age of 85
  • Fine was of the Episcopal Faith
  • Services where conducted by Rev. Henry  R. Taxdal and
    Rev. William Halloway
  • Fine was entombed in the Hanover Green Cemetery

Our Photo Album

In this segment we will focus on the  John S. Fine Library in an upstairs room of the Samantha Mill House, our Home and office of the Nanticoke Historical Society. I hope to complete all segments by the Destination Date Aug. 19, 2016. Time 11:00 am. All will be revealed at this time.  Among the articles collected are Fine law books his personal Bible many photos and other documents of his period.

In the Mill House a collection of photos have been preserved some of these photos. This photo of Fine by Life Magazine photographer Alfred Eistesteade was taken at the National Republican Convention where Fine served as a delegate in 1936

This photo of Fine was take with actor/comedian Bob Hope. The exact details of the occasion were not detailed with this photo but one can surmise that Fine, whom was active in the military during WWI had a photo opportunity perhaps some time after his tour of service since he was not uniform at the time.  Hope often did USO tours in the period to help keep up the moral of the troupes.  Hope, a popular entertainer of the time was well know and a visit from him was more than warmly welcome.  The photo op would to appear to be with him some time after his years of service and would  have been rare, as most everyone, especially our men would almost certainly clamored  at the opportunity.

This photo of apparently of Fine and his brother was labeled in our archives as "Fine Children" and is the photo by   Life Magazine photographer Alfred Eistesteade

An abundance of photos of Fine may easily be found on the internet.  In our collection we have a series of political of undefined origin. Many articles about fine can be found online with background stories.  These photos have been acquired by the Fine Family whom was ready to dispose of them without realization of the historic value.

These political photos are in the NHS  collection without sources listed  or captioned. One may assume that they were campaign  photos or part of the John S. Fine Library that NHS has acquired and is currently organizing.

I have personally not have had the opportunity to visit the library.  It is still under construction. I intend in the near future to document the contents and share with our blogesphere many interesting articles.

Add caption
Our next photos are from a newspaper clipping source AP wire (wmv 32230stfg) local paper unidentified. Here the Governor escorts his wife the day he was inaugurated. The day followed with an inaugural Ball.  Perhaps somewhere in Harrisburg.  Photo 2 the
swearing in ceremony.
According to  In 1947, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) proposed a series of extensions beyond the existing 160 miles already opened. Legislation signed that year enabled not only construction of extensions east to Valley Forge and west to the Pennsylvania-Ohio border, but also preliminary planning for additional routes in the turnpike system. In these photos Governor Fine is shown breaking ground on the NE Extension. 
The exact date of ground breaking was not included with these photos
BUILDING THE PIKE:It took 20 Months to build the initial 37 miles of the extension from the southern terminus in Plymouth Meeting north to the current EXIT 56 (US 22 / Lehigh Valley Thruway). This initial section of the four-lane turnpike opened to traffic on November 23, 1955, but the two intervening interchanges at Lansdale (current EXIT 31 / PA 63) and Quakertown (current EXIT 44 / PA 663) did not open until early December.

Our Story Continues...

These photos are courtesy Jules Shick and the Fine Family show what is described as political photos. The photo on the right shows Mamie and Dwight Eisenhower.  The photo on the left would appear to be Fine at the State Capitol.

Candidate Fine and his wife Nov. 6 year unspecified photo courtesy Assoc. Press wire photo.Photo on right Penn. State Department Chamber of Commerce and the Fine Family.

Fine was a member of both VFW and the American Legion show here are his membership cards courtesy of the Fine Family.

This Concludes Installment 1 of our series of John S. Fine. Continue following us on our website and Facebook as our story unfolds.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Bischwind Bed & Breakfast

   The Bischwind Bed and Breakfast is an elegant Colonial style retreat located in our backyard in the Poconos just outside of Wilkes-Barre, PA and just past the infamous Bear Creek Dam of Bear Creek Village.   It is the Albert Lewis Mansion and is an attraction for honeymooners seeking the retreat of the Poconos.  Of course you don’t have to be a honeymooner to enjoy the elegance and seclusion of the Pocono hideaway, it is nestled only a few feet from Rt. 115 just past the Bear Creek dam.  The Mansion hosts guest in up to eight rooms; the Master’s Room, the Beehive Room, the Blue Room, the Bears Den, the Autumn Room, the Wolf’s Den, the Green Suit and the Theodore Roosevelt’s Room.  The mansion's amenities include an outdoor swimming pool and Presidential Dining Room as well as an outdoor dining where guests such as Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft had stayed.  The mansion is located on 8 acres just off of Bear Creek Lake.  The Bed and Breakfast is owned by Billy Dykins-English, the daughter Ms. Barbara Von Dran.  Barbara is a was a resident and now resides at the mansion  She is also
the daughter of Dr. W. R. Dykins, who had a dentistry practice in Nanticoke, 120 E. Broad Street right off the square.  Barbara told us her father died 29 years ago this November (2015).  Amazingly, the Bed and Breakfast as large and stately that it is, is managed by only three people the English/Von Dran family.  Interestingly enough, Barbara explained that the mansion was built on a boulder foundation that would shift from time to time causing doors to swing and the mansion to creek.  Haunted?

The setting…
Let the web of history unwind. The origins of this story begins right here in Nanticoke and will follow its threads through Bear Creek Village, the coal industry, the lumber industry and ice harvesting industries of our area and even St. Augustine, FL.  The Nanticoke Historical Society was  a guest of Barbara Von Dran as well as Charles Petrillo author of  Albert Lewis the Bear Creek Lumber and Ice King  and Ann Lewis granddaughter of Albert Lewis and Larry Newman, director for the Diamond City Partnership Downtown Wilkes-Barre’s Management Organization.

 The dining area was already prepped for a wedding party booked for the weekend with bows and white linen seating trim. The dining room, adorned with a crystal glass chandelier, a Steinway baby grand piano and a soft cream white color scheme and mirrors and crystal abound, all elegantly accentuating the stories that we were about to hear.

 As guests we were treated to coffee and confections but with an unexpected twist.  Barbara, as a follower of history and a member of our
Historical Society had arranged an unexpected presentation for us by three guest speakers: our own Charles Petrillo, historian, Ann Lewis, granddaughter of the mansion’s namesake Albert Lewis and
Larry Newman Executive Director of the Diamond City Partnership.

Ann was asked by Barbara to speak about her visit down to St. Augustine, FL in 2013 and started her presentation with a history of her grandfather.  The Albert Lewis mansion was the summer home of Albert Lewis. He also had a winter home in St. Augustine, FL.  Her purpose down in Florida was to be present at a dedication of a historic plaque for a horse and mule watering trough. Her grandfather had a love for these animals, beasts of burden, and purchased a tract of land on the south end of St. Augustine where the South Dickson Highway comes in to town and built the trough back 1904.  The animals would water down when entering St. Augustine after long journeys into town.

 Back in March of 2013 Ann was contacted via numerous emails by a woman by the name of Sheila Greenlee.  Sheila is a lifelong resident of St. Augustine, she has deep community roots and she enjoys genealogy and local history.  She describes herself: A fun time for her is to poking around in dense overgrown cemeteries, old houses and dusty libraries.   Sheila is a member of the St. Augustine Historical Society, The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Sheila explained in her emails to Ann about the horse trough that she didn't realize the significances of it, on a photo of the trough that Sheila had, on the back it was marked trailer park.

Sheila’s email to Ann Lewis (paraphrased from audio notes)

“The Albert Lewis trough served in 1904 at 92 South Dixie Highway. Lewis was a wealthy lumber baron from Bear Creek, PA and a great benefactor to St. Augustine and St. John’s County, who wintered there in St. Augustine. Lewis was a great benefactor of St. Augustine and St. John's County .  Albert Lewis planted palms, trees and flowering shrubs in order beautify many streets and avenues.  In March 1904 Albert Lewis purchased a parcel of property along current South Dixie Highway and built a brick trough that would service animals that were coming in and out of the city from the south.  This trough was completed in December of that year. The Hotels in St. Augustine were in full swing. The fruits and vegetables brought in from Hastings and Watry satisfied the needs for fresh fruit and produce.  Watry was also busy with lumber milling and turpentine.  Horses and mules continued to enjoy the benefit of fresh water from the trough up into the 1940’s.  The property became the site of a trailer park community: San Juan trailer park, which was in existence for over 50 years.  The trough transitioned into a planter and the bold lettering on its back advertising the trailer park was a familiar icon to local people. Albert left his mark on the community with many trees and palms that still line the streets.  His donations to various causes and his participation in building the good roads lead are immeasurable.  Lewis Point Road, built by Lewis, lead picnickers to his picnic pavilion at Watry Point.  Lewis Field, no longer in existence was a ball field at the south end of Marine Street where Console On Aging is now located, that was named for him.  Lewis Boulevard and Lewis Speedway were other business ventures for Albert Lewis and still bear his name”

In additional notes from Sheila’s research: “Albert Lewis was a winter resident very active in promoting St. Augustine.  In 1902 he purchased 500 acres on the North side of Watry Creek, today St. Augustine South and constructed a shell roadway from Watry Road eastward to his property. A short section of this road, US 1, still retains the name Lewis Point Road. With the advent of the automobile Lewis Point became a popular driving destination for winter visitors. Albert Lewis built a palm thatched cabin for picnickers.  He was president of the East Florida Prim Rose Association and Lewis Speedway, Lewis Ballpark that all still bear his name.”

In one of Ann’s personal notes she had mentioned that her father’s love and devotion to animals was shared with her grandfather and that they believed that one should care for the animals above themselves, that before they showered or rested or had a cold drink after his hard day of work, that the animals were watered, and fed, sheltered and protected first.

The next guest speaker, to which we were no stranger to NHS, was Charles Petrillo. Charles on numerous occasions has given presentations on a variety of topics, most noteworthy are Charles’ works on the history of Harvey’s Lake.  Charles has been down to the Mill House on several occasions and perhaps you have seen his presentations. If you missed him we apologize. The limited seating capacity (approximately 30 people) has been antiquated due to your generous support and interest in NHS so we are in the process of moving our venue to St. Faustina’s Cultural Center as circumstances allow. 

 Charles enlightened us on some of the many accomplishments of Albert Lewis.  He started out by bringing our attention to the Ice Industry of the region.  Albert’s time between the 1870’s to 1920’s was when he was known as the Lumber King of the Wyoming Valley but was also known as the Ice King of the Wyoming Valley.  Lumber and ice harvesting were huge industries in the Wyoming Valley.  Albert, who was born in Canada was a lumberman as was his father who settled to Buck Township, the largest township in Luzerne County.  For a while Albert who was also a lumberman worked on the Lehigh Valley Railroad and married into Lehigh Valley Family that was headed by Acai Packard, a multi-millionaire railroad tycoon.  Charles sited some interest facts about Albert:

·         He largely lumbered in the 1870’s in Hickory Run and White Haven
·         He bought 10’s of thousands of acres in in Bear Creek
·         He built the Beer Creek branch of the Lehigh Valley Railroad
 that was necessary to get the lumber out.
·         He sold it to the Lehigh Valley Railroad
·         He was extremely charitable
·         He built churches for his workers.
·         The Alderson Methodist Church at Harvey’s Lake
·         The Lutheran Church in Noxen
·         Churches in Hickory Run
·         St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Eckley originally built in White Haven then moved with the creation of Eckley Village.
·         He built the original road from Wilkes-Barre to Beer Creek
·         Bear Creek Lake was used for Lewis’ ice harvesting.
·         The lumber used to build a series of dams gave out by the late 1880’s
·         He then converted the lumber ponds into ice harvesting ponds.
·         He acquired 10’s of thousands of acres on the Harvey’s Lake and Noxen Region.
·         He built the Harvey’s Lake Railroad, then later sold it to the Lehigh Valley Railroad.
·         He lumbered there with partners from Skull Family
·         1906 to 1908 he sold off all his Harvey’s Lake and Noxen properties.
·         He also had properties around Ricketts Glen where he also harvested ice.
·         By the late 1880’s he was largely out of lumbering and into ice harvesting.
·         He originally had an ice house called the White House on the other side of the dam.
·         He built the Lewis mansion in 1895.
·         He was extraordinary charitable unlike his competitor the Rickets of Ricketts Glen.
·         The Lewis mansion was substantially damaged in a fire around 1920.  It was rebuilt then Lewis died 6 months later.

All these facts and many more are in Charles’ book: Albert Lewis the Bear Creek Lumber and Ice King are well worth reading.

Barbara, before introducing our last guest speak interjected an amusing side story. While during a short break the subject came up about our former Governor John S. Fine.  Our President Julianna had stated that the Historical Society’s next project was to erect a historical marker for him.  The former Governor Fine had a home in Nanticoke and the High School was named after him. Governor Fine’s first wife Bunny was a shirttail relative of Barbara’s father. Her father, Dr. Dykins, during the time of prohibition used to go over to the Governor’s house and make gin in the bath tub. (LOL)

Larry Newman, our last speaker, is now the executive director for the Diamond City Partnership Downtown Wilkes-Barre’s Management Organization and in the late 1990’s Larry and Bob Janosov 
  had a private planning business in Wilkes-Barre and both at one time taught at Luzerne county Community College.  Bob spoke to Larry about how the residents of Bear Creek Village were looking for ways to get put on the National registry for Historic Places.  Larry, while addressing the residents said that he would also like to include the historic timber dam that had created the Albert Lewis mansion and had so much influence of the ice harvesting industry of Albert Lewis. The dam at that time had deteriorated and needed some significant restoration.  As a result the residents were looking for ways to get help with that work.  This was a community that was very interested in its own character, history and pride in their community. Bear Creek Village became the youngest municipality in Luzerne County when it separated from Bear Creek Township in 1991 to become the Borough of Bear Creek village. Larry had help significantly in getting Bear Creek Village put on the National Historic Register. Larry had worked with Bob Janosov on a national register nomination for the district that encompasses a large portion of the borough. Larry explained the importance of being placed on the National Historic Registry.  The National Register of Historic Places is the official Federal listing of those structures, sites districts and places that are significant in our Nation’s history.

He went to explain that being on registry was more like a badge of honor to be respected.  Being on the registry does not allow the Federal government to tell you what to do with your property. It does allow the registrant to take advantage of certain programs that are available. The only time the Federal Government will restrict demolition of a registered site is when public funds are invested in that site.

Larry and Bob started to work on nomination in the late 90’s. The district is about 222 acres. It comprises the historic area of operation of Lewis’ operations. The historic significances goes from 1880 to 1949 that would be the era of lumber and ice harvesting.  To be registered certain criteria must be met.

  • General Themes - Industry: Ice harvesting
  • Works of art or architecture 
  • Recreation- weekend destination and summer residences

1)      General Themes in the United States that are Significant to History
a)      Industry: The Lumber and Ice harvesting – more so ice harvesting that was unique to the are - Charles Petrillo’s extensive research
b)      Recreation: where Bear Creek became a weekend retreat
2)      People in the United States that are Significant to History
a)      Albert Lewis-National significances
i)        Theodore Roosevelt – Lewis’s acquaintance
3)      Works of art or architecture in the United States that are Significant to History
a)      The Lewis Mansion
b)      The original Lehigh Valley Railroad Station in Bear Creek Village
c)       Albert Lewis’ old bowling alley
d)      Lewis’s boat house
e)      Grace Chapel-Albert Lewis’  own place of worship

Of course this story was comprised of notes taken from the presentation. NHS is not the author of this material nor claims to be.  We were fortunate enough to have been enlightened by the brilliant contributors: Barbara Von Dran, Ann Lewis, Sheila Greenlee, Charles Petrillo and Larry Newman.  These people were thrilled to share their stories with us and will be honored to share them with you.  Thank you all for the wealth of knowledge. So many fascinating stories with their roots firmly planted here in Nanticoke.