Schuylkill County Courthouse
Location within the U.S. state of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's location within the U.S.
|Founded||March 1, 1811|
|Named for||Schuylkill River|
|o Total||783 sq mi (2,030 km2)|
|o Land||779 sq mi (2,020 km2)|
|o Water||4.2 sq mi (11 km2) 0.5%%|
| o Estimate |
|o Density||182/sq mi (70/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|Area code||570 717|
Schuylkill County (,) is a county in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the population was 148,289. The county seat is Pottsville. The county was created on March 1, 1811, from parts of Berks and Northampton counties and named for the Schuylkill River, which originates in the county. On March 3, 1818 additional territory in its northeast was added from Columbia and Luzerne Counties.
The lands constituting Schuylkill County were acquired by Penn's proprietors by treaty executed August 22, 1749, with representatives of the Six Nations and the Delaware, Shamokin and Shawnee, who received 500 pounds "lawful money of Pennsylvania". The territory described included all of Schuylkill County, except the northern part of Union Township which was included in the purchase of 1768.
In the year 1754, the area that would become Schuylkill County was settled by Germans, as were areas that are now part of Berks, Dauphin, Lebanon, and Lehigh counties. The earliest settlers in southeastern Schuylkill County, which was then part of Northampton County, were primarily Moravian missionaries from Saxony. Other early settlers in southern Schuylkill County were German Palatines.
An early mill in the county was built in 1744 by John Finscher, but it later burned down. The first log church in the county was built in 1755. Native American massacres were commonplace in Schuylkill County between 1755 and 1765. Warrant for tracts of land in the vicinity of McKeansburg were in existence as early as 1750. Found by Sammy Hepler in 1789.
Schuylkill County was created via an Act of Assembly on March 1, 1811, from portions of Berks and Northampton counties. More land was added to the county in 1818, from Columbia and Luzerne counties. At the time of its creation, the County had a population of about 6,000. An early book of Schuylkill County history was written by Daniel Deibert in 1802.
McKeansburg was the first community in Schuylkill County to be laid out. Initial construction of the community was done in 1803, and the community was expanded in 1809. During the early years of Schuylkill County, there was an attempt to make McKeansburg the county seat of the new county. The community of Orwigsburg was also a contender for the county seat. Orwigsburg was agreed upon to be the county seat, as it was deemed to be well-suited for industries. Beginning in 1831, sentiment began to rise for moving the county-seat to Pottsville. In 1846, the Legislature passed the Act; it was approved by the Governor on March 13, submitting the question to the voters. The change was desired principally because the railroad and canal connections with Orwigsburg were problematic to transport the public to that town without losing valuable time, while Pottsville had such facilities and was within easy access from all parts of the county.
Kelayres Massacre On November 5, 1934 (election eve), a parade marched through the Village of Kelayres, Kline Township. A crowd of Democratic Party supporters walked toward the home of Republican Party leader, Joseph Bruno. Frustration with Bruno family control of the school board and other local offices had been growing for years. Shots were fired from the Bruno home and yard located at Fourth & Centre Streets. Several people were killed and more than 20 marchers were injured.
Anthracite coal (then called stone coal) was discovered near where Pottsville was to rise in 1790 by Necho Allen.[a] In the year 1795 a blacksmith in Schuylkill County named Whetstone also learned how to use it successfully for smithing purposes. In the year 1806 coal was found in cutting the tail-race of the Valley (Iron) Forge, on the Schuylkill, and was used successfully by Daniel Berlin, a blacksmith, which led to its general use by the smiths in the neighborhood.
However, it wasn't until coal found an industrial use, that mining became important. In 1812, George Shoemaker who with Necho Allen had also discovered "stone coal" at Centerville in Schuylkill County personally delivered some coal to Philadelphia. Most of the coal was given away to persons who would attempt to find a use for it. Most of the experiments failed and as Shoemaker was nearly run out of town and called an "Imposter", Mellon and Bishop of Delaware County successfully used it in their rolling mill. Then other rolling mills in the area also successfully used the fuel and thus a large industrial market was born
Then the Schuylkill Navigation Company was chartered in 1815 to build a series of navigation improvements in the Schuylkill River, nearly as early as the much more ambitious Erie Canal and well ahead of other key canals fueling the Industrial Revolution, such as the Delaware and Hudson, the Lehigh, the Chesapeake and Ohio, Delaware and Raritan and Morris canals. The originators of the project did not count upon the coal trade to promote the success of the undertaking. They looked forward mainly to the agricultural products below the mountains, the lumber of Schuylkill county, and the grain and other products of the counties between the Susquehanna and Schuylkill Rivers. The first shipments of coal by canal were made in the year 1822, when 1,480 tons were sent down the line.
This outlet for a regular supply of anthracite coal existing, public attention was strongly attracted to the southern anthracite coal field. There was a rush to Schuylkill County of capitalists, adventurers and fortune hunters, who were inspired with the idea of suddenly becoming millionaires. This was the first speculative era of the Schuylkill coal trade. Pottsville became the center of the movement. The more successful explorers revealed the existence of a great number of veins of coal, extending over a vast stretch of county and with a seemingly inexhaustible quantity of coal. These discoveries brought excitement and speculation; lands were bought (and sold); roads were laid out in the forest, mines were opened and railroads projected, and innumerable town plots planned. The demand for houses was so great that the lumber for quite a large number was actually framed in Philadelphia and sent by canal to the burgeoning coal region.
Coal mining firms were small, family owned concerns. There was an earnest and increasing opposition to incorporated coal companies in the Schuylkill region. In these years, coal mining operations in the Schuylkill region were conducted with simplicity and economy, very little capital being required for their successful prosecution. The workings were all above the water level, no machinery being required for water drainage or for hoisting the coal to the surface. Coal breakers and other expensive fixtures and appliances for the preparation of coal had not then been introduced. There were many operators sending from five to six thousand tons to market annually (which was then considered a respectable business) that had not at any time a capital employed of as many thousands of dollars, including the first land purchase of the coal mine. It was asserted that it did not require as much capital to buy a piece of coal land and open the coal mines upon it as it did to buy a decent farm and stock it or did not require as much capital to work a coal mine as it did to establish a line of stages or transportation wagons.
Eventually, railroads replaced the canals as the primary means of transporting coal to the markets. See below "Railroad History". Mining did become big corporate business, especially after the Civil War. As a result, the Middle Coal Field was developed in the 1860s and the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad created a subsidiary (Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company) to buy or lease and develop the expanding industrial coal trade. For example, consumption of coal along the Schuylkill above Philadelphia in the year 1839, at which time the first anthracite furnace in the United States - the Pioneer, at Pottsville - was operational, was 30,290 tons. Ten years afterward it had increased to 239,290 tons, in the year 1859 to 554,774 tons, and in 1873 to 1,787,205 tons.
The mining industry was the catalyst for mass immigration to Schuylkill County in the 19th and 20th centuries. As mines became more numerous - by 1846 there were 110 operators in the region and 142 collieries in Schuylkill County - and more complex - pumping (in 1846 there were 35 collieries below water level), mechanical breakers, steam locomotives it became more labor intensive; not just for accomplishing mining tasks but also to support the peripheral industries related to mining. Such industries included manufacturing of explosives, metal screens, pump components, piping, timber for support, etc. This led to an influx of population into Schuylkill and other anthracite counties to fill these jobs. Beginning with the Irish immigration in the 1840s (fueled by the potato famine), after the Civil War, beginning in the 1870's, newcomers arrived from Eastern Europe. Poles, Hungarians, Lithuanians, Slovaks, Rusyns and Ukrainians (Ruthenians) settled in the villages of Schuylkill County and took their place among the laborers in the coal mines. By the 1880s and 1890s thousands of Italians immigrated for jobs related to mining.
The anthracite mining industry peaked its production in 1917. Subsequently, the industry declined (with exceptions during the First and Second World Wars). In the 1950s and 1960s underground mining operations closed in Schuylkill County and throughout the Coal Region and surface mining became predominate. The following shows the decline in production and the number of employees from 1950 until 1965, and the production and number of employees in 2015, the last year for which data is available. This includes all anthracite production in Pennsylvania and not just Schuylkill County:
|Year||Production Net (Tons)||Number of Employees|
In 2016, Schuylkill County had 6 underground mines and 25 surface mines operating, producing 62,000 tons and 833,000 tons of coal respectively. Anthracite production today is unique in that operators are re-mining areas that were previously mined. It is estimated that 98 percent of the anthracite produced is from existing mines.
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In the early 19th century southern Schuylkill County was served by the Union Canal out of Pine Grove Township with connections west, and the Schuylkill Canal (more properly the Schuylkill Navigation) southward from Port Carbon to Philadelphia. Coal mined by Lehigh Coal and Navigation in the Tamaqua and Coaldale areas was often shipped down the Lehigh Canal from Jim Thorpe in neighboring Carbon County. To the north, mountain and ridges were a natural barrier to navigation. Other means would be required to transport coal out of the rich basin of the Mahanoy Valley. Numerous railroads were begun in the late 1820s and early 1830s, north of the Schuylkill Canal to enable the transport of coal to the canal terminus and thence to Philadelphila and other markets. These included:
Of prime importance was the Mine Hill and Schuylkill Haven, which served the Schuylkill Canal. Chartered in 1831, tracks were laid from the "flats" in Schuylkill Haven along the river through Cressona and Minersville to Tremont. The railroad eventually reached Ashland and Locust Gap via the Gordon Planes.
Construction beginning in 1829, the Little Schuylkill Railroad ran from Port Clinton northward to Mahanoy Junction above Tamaqua. It would become the keystone of the Philadelphia and Reading system, serving as a gauntlet for its eastern and western branches. Connecting with it were four important lines. The 146 mile (235 km) Catawissa Railroad operated from Mahanoy Junction to West Milton, providing access to the Mahanoy region by joining the northern terminus of the Little Schuylkill with connections to New York City, Scranton and also points west. At Port Clinton, it connected with the P&R's main line from Mount Carbon. Its most important connection would be with the Mahanoy and Broad Mountain Railway via Mahanoy Tunnel and East Mahanoy Railroad.
There was once over 1,000 miles (1600 km) of railroad track in Schuylkill County. At point in the 1800s, the largest railyard and roundhouse in the world was located at Mill Creek, PA., between Pottsville and St. Clair.
Schuylkill County's history is not solely a story about coal mining and railroads. The first settlers were farmers or lumbermen. In the fertile agricultural valleys (not underlain with coal) between the Blue Mountain range in the south to near the Susquehanna River to the north, generations of farming families have helped feed their neighbors in the mines, on the rails, on the canals, and in the towns within and surrounding the county. After settlement of the farms, came a period of diversified, small scale production that lasted until about the late 19th century. After then, more highly mechanized small farms combined livestock and crop production for new, mainly local and regional markets. Then the system re-oriented to add orchard products, trees and plant products and poultry farming. In 2012, the estimated value of agricultural products in Schuylkill County sold was $165,853,000, ranking 9th in the State and 704th in the US (counties). The county ranks in the top 100 in the US counties for nursery, greenhouse, floriculture, and sod products and cut Christmas trees and short rotation woody crops.
Textile manufacturing evolved as a major industry in the county near the beginning of the 20th Century. Phillips & Jones Co. (Now known as Phillips Van Heusen - PVH Corp, began in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, and was once Schuylkill County's largest employer. Another textile giant, John E. Morgan Knitting Mills also began manufacturing in 1945 in Tamaqua, eventually becoming the largest employer in the county in the 1970-80s. In addition there were numerous smaller shops all over the county, doing subcontract work for the major manufacturers all over the US. As the century wore on, textile industry, which employed significant numbers of women, rivaled the coal mining industry in importance, especially after the end of World War 2, when that industry began to collapse. As a consequence of the Great Depression, garment manufacturers began to look for people willing to work (at lower wages) outside of New York City, the center of the industry. Pennsylvania became the 3rd highest-ranked apparel manufacturer in the United States by 1940. Women's clothing became the state's fastest growing product. The dominance of the industry in Schuylkill County lasted until the last decade of the 20th century, when it was clear that the garment manufacturing industry was leaving Schuylkill County and other regions of the US and moving to foreign countries. By 2011, only six manufacturers employing 341 people remained in the county.
The Schuylkill River headwaters are found in the county, starting in the Appalachian Mountains, and flows through many towns and the city of Reading, Pennsylvania to Philadelphia where it flows into the Delaware River. The Schuylkill drains the majority of the county while some western and northern areas of the county are drained by the Susquehanna River. The Swatara Creek, Wiconisco Creek, Mahantango Creek, Mahanoy Creek, and Catawissa Creek all start in Schuylkill County and are tributaries of the Susquehanna. Areas of the eastern portion of the county drain into the Lehigh River via the Quakake Creek, Nesquehoning Creek, Mahoning Creek, and Lizard Creek, all of which also start in the county. To the south, southern Schuylkill county is home to Blue Mountain and the Appalachian Trail. Broad Mountain crosses the county from northeast to southwest.
Schuylkill County is located in northeastern Pennsylvania's Coal Region. It is located just north of the Lehigh Valley and Reading metropolitan areas. Portions of eastern Schuylkill County around Tamaqua are located in the Pocono Mountains. As a result, like other portions of the Poconos, eastern Schuylkill has experienced an influx of people from New York City and New Jersey who commute into Manhattan each day. The commute can take up to two hours each way due to distance and traffic. Far western areas of the county are located near Harrisburg and are sometimes considered to be located in South Central Pennsylvania.
The county has a humid continental climate (Dfa/Dfb) with four distinct seasons. The hardiness zone is 6b in lowlands of the south-central and SW areas of the county. In the remainder of Schuylkill, the zone is 6a except in some higher areas to the NE on Broad Mountain where it is 5b. Broad Mountain separates the Susquehanna and Schuylkill watersheds for much of its length. Average monthly temperatures in the vicinity of downtown Pottsville range from 27.3° F in January to 72.3° F in July, while in Mahanoy City they range from 24.3° F in January to 69.3° F in July. 
As of the census of 2000, there were 150,336 people, 60,530 households, and 40,131 families residing in the county. The population density was 193 people per square mile (75/km²). There were 67,806 housing units at an average density of 87 per square mile (34/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 96.62% White, 0.08% Native American, 0.42% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.35% from other races, 2.09% African American, and 0.43% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.11% of the population. 29.0% were of Slovak, 14.1% Irish, 9.7% German, 7.5% Italian, 5.6% American and 5.1% Greek ancestry. 95.7% spoke English and 1.2% Spanish as their first language.
There were 60,530 households out of which 26.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.40% were married couples living together, 10.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.70% were non-families. 29.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.93.
In the county, the population was spread out with 20.90% under the age of 18, 7.20% from 18 to 24, 28.30% from 25 to 44, 23.80% from 45 to 64, and 19.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 99.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.20 males.
Schuylkill County is one of the most heavily Lithuanian parts of the United States. New Philadelphia, West Mahanoy, Shenandoah, and Girardville have the highest proportions of Lithuanian Americans of all places in the country. Lithuanian Roman Catholic parishes could be found in Shenandoah (St. George); Mahanoy City (St Joseph); Minersville (St. Francis of Assisi); Tamaqua (SS. Peter and Paul); Frackville (Annunciation BVM); Girardville (St. Vincent de Paul); Gilberton (Our Lady of Siluva, formerly St. Louis); and Coaldale (St. John the Baptist). Also in Schuylkill County (as well as its neighbor to the north, Luzerne County) are Tyroleans, whose ancestors immigrated from the County of Tyrol. Although they bore Italian surnames, the ancestors of the Tyroleans, who immigrated to the Coal Region in the late 19th century and early 20th century, spoke German as their native language. The Tirolesi Alpini organization in Hazleton continues to preserve and promote Tyrolean culture. Irish Americans and Polish Americans are also predominant. The southern and western portions of Schuylkill County which border Berks, Dauphin, Lehigh, and Lebanon counties are predominantly Pennsylvania Dutch.
Schuylkill County's live birth rate was 1,794 births in 1990. The County's live birth rate in 2000 declined to 1,439 births, while in 2011 it was 1,446 babies. From 1960 to 2010, rural Pennsylvania has experienced an ongoing decline in the number of residents under 18 years old.
Schuylkill County had 33 babies born to teens (age 15-19) in 2011. In 2015, the number of teen births in Schuylkill County was 32.
According to research by The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, which is a legislative agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the poverty rate for Schuylkill County was 13.5% in 2014. The statewide poverty rate was 13.6% in 2014. The 2012 childhood poverty rate by school district was: Blue Mountain School District - 24.1% living at 185% or below than the Federal Poverty Level; Mahanoy Area School District - 64.6%; Minersville Area School District - 47.1%; North Schuylkill School District - 44.3%; Pine Grove Area School District - 38%; Pottsville Area School District - 53.5%; Saint Clair Area School District - 53.4%; Schuylkill Haven Area School District - 37.7%; Shenandoah Valley School District - 75.5%; Tamaqua Area School District - 40.9%; Tri-Valley School District - 36.8% and Williams Valley School District - 43.4%. The child poverty rate is collected by the school districts as part of the federal free school lunch program.
The United States Office of Management and Budget has designated Schuylkill County as the Pottsville, PA Micropolitan Statistical Area (µSA). As of the 2010 U.S. Census the micropolitan area ranked the number 1 most populous in the State of Pennsylvania and the 5th most populous in the United States with a population of 148,289.
|Schuylkill County Sheriff's Department|
|Operations jurisdiction||Schuylkill, Pennsylvania, USA|
|Map of Schuylkill County Sheriff's Department's jurisdiction.|
|Size||778 square miles (2,000 km2)|
|Elected officer responsible|
|Schuylkill Sheriff Webpage|
The Schuylkill County Sheriff's Department in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania consists of the Sheriff's Office, Security Guard Service, and Central Booking. The Sheriff's Office is composed of a Civil and Criminal Division. The Civil Division processes real estate and property paperwork, as well as issue firearms permits. The Criminal Division is responsible for the security of the courthouses, as well as the transport of prisoners. The Security Guard Service is responsible for detecting and interdicting weapons before they can enter a courthouse. Central Booking processes fingerprints and photographs of arrested individuals.
As of November 2008, there are 94,110 registered voters in Schuylkill County.
While the Republican Party has been historically dominant in Schuylkill County politics, Democrats became dominant at the county level after the 2007 elections. John McCain received 53.6% of the vote to 44.9% for Barack Obama in November 2008. In the state row offices of the same election, each statewide winner carried the county. In 2006 Democrat Tim Seip won the heavily Republican 125th House district and Bob Casey Jr. carried Schuylkill when he unseated incumbent Republican US Senator Rick Santorum. Former State Representative Dave Argall won the special election of March 3 to succeed the late State Senator Jim Rhoades and was sworn in on March 17. Jerry Knowles won the special election for Argall's seat in the 124th House district on May 19. In 2010, the GOP regained ground when Seip was defeated for reelection by Republican Mike Tobash. In 2011, the GOP reclaimed the county government. This GOP resurgence has been followed by the subsequent election of Donald Trump in 2016, where he received 70% of the area's popular vote to Hillary Clinton's 26.7%.
Under Pennsylvania law, there are four types of incorporated municipalities: cities, boroughs, townships, and, in at most two cases, towns. The following cities, boroughs and townships are located in Schuylkill County:
+ county seat
|Rank||City/Town/etc.||Municipal type||Population (2010 Census)
|10||Ashland (partially in Columbia County)||Borough||2,817|
|45||Nuremberg (partially in Luzerne County)||CDP||434|
|62||Locustdale (partially in Columbia County)||CDP||177|