“A glance at Pottsville” – A description of the Schuylkill County seat from 1866

In September 1866, a reporter from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of New York made a visit to the Coal Region to describe the area to their readers. Over the preceding years of civil war, newspaper subscribers in the Empire State had read often of the dangerous, conflict-ridden mines of Eastern Pennsylvania. With peace returned to the Union, a follow-up story piqued the interest of the Eagle’s editors.

In their travels, the reporter made a stop in Pottsville and supplied a brief, but vivid description of the Schuylkill County seat as it appeared in 1866. It detailed the town’s appearance, endeavored to explain its social relationships between rich and poor and those of varied ethnic background, and through serious shade at the town’s weekly newspaper, the Miners’ Journal. The reporter took umbrage at the Journal’s spiteful cover of President Andrew Johnson.

President Andrew Johnson
President Andrew Johnson

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 20, 1866:

A Glance at Pottsville

As Pottsville is a fair specimen of the mining towns of Pennsylvania, a few words in regard to it may be found interesting. It is situated partially in a valley and partially on the sides of the hills forming the valley, and contains about 15,000 inhabitants of all classes.

The scenery is beautiful and the location healthy. Within a distance of from two to ten miles are numerous thriving villages, all finding their centre in Pottsville as the county seat. The wealthy manufacturer or storekeeper, and the commonest laborer, are all to be met here.

Pottsville Prospect Hill
Pottsville in the 1860s (NYPL)

The sons of Erin are generally to be found in the mines, while the “Pennsylvania Dutch” cultivate the soil or engage in storekeeping. Wealthy residents have erected handsome houses, where they live in style.

Most of the manufacturing done is that of machinery and boilers to be used in the mines. There is not much enterprise here in the manner of newspapers, there not being any daily, and only two very ordinary weekly papers. The Republican paper contains no sound political articles, but amuses its managers and disgusts its readers with the vilest kind of abuse concerning the opposition, and particularly the President.

Featured Image: Pottsville in the late 1860s (NYPL)

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