From the PATC Archives


The following is an historic reprint from the October 1934 Edition of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club Bulletin, precursor the PATC's current newsletter, the Potomac Appalachian.

 


RECOLLECTIONS, HISTORICAL AND OTHERWISE,
RELATING TO OLD PINE GROVE FURNACE

By Horace Andrew Keefer

 


Pine Grove Furnace was one of the old style cold blast furnaces using charcoal for its fuel, situated on the beautiful stream of water known as Mountain Creek in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, and it is a pleasure to know that at this late date, one of its old time managers has consented to give some of the experiences that go to make up the routine life of the various people who were connected with these old iron industries.

This article was written at the request of the Department of Forests and Waters of the State of Pennsylvania, and was intended for publication by the State, but due to the necessity for economy in state printing in recent years, it was never published. The original manuscript gave still more experiences with the old pioneers and the author's impressions of Jay Cooke and Jackson Fuller, the last owners, but it is unfortunately not now available. It is to be hoped it may some day be published, together with the many photographs and plates furnished by the author. Mr. Keefer has kindly consented to the publication of this portion of the article and has promised to assist in the near future in locating some of the old landmarks in the vicinity of Pine Grove Furnace. - J. S.

I desire to acknowledge valuable assistance from George H. Witt and S. F. Moore of the Department of Forests and Waters; Mrs. George S. Comstock, daughter of William Watts, who was born at Pine Grove Furnace; Miss Nellie King, Finksburg, Md., daughter of Daniel King and niece of Jackson Fuller, and Charles D. Barney, son-in-law to Jay Cooke. - H. A. K.

 


In my early life there were no vocational schools to direct one's natural abilities, no physiological genius to jumble our age-old inheritance for good or evil, we just grew up and took such places as circumstances offered. In my case it was a clerkship in the office of the Paxton Furnaces at Harrisburg, Pa., and as proved fortunate was the beginning of a growing love for the manufacture of iron. So, when in 1879 I was offered the superintendency of The South Mountain Mining and Iron Company's properties at Pine Grove, I felt (after six years' experience) capable of the undertaking, responsible as it was and proved to be. In offering these reminiscences I desire to convey first a short chronology of this old and historic property, fully aware of some gaps which I am unable to supply.

Pine Grove Furnace was built on the original land warrant granted to Samuel Pope dated July 23, 1762, for 137 acres 17 perches of land, and Samuel Pope, by his deed dated October 2, 1762, conveyed his land to George Stevenson, and this land with the surrounding lands came into the hands of Michael Ege, Joseph Thornburg and Thomas Thornburg, the deed reciting, "Being the same lands whereon a Furnace is now erected known by the name of Pine Grove Furnace, and mine holes sunk to supply with ore."

This would indicate that the original furnace was built prior to 1770, certainly not later. In fact Thomas Hyle, an old life-time employee, now in his 85th year, still having a good memory, says he has always understood that the furnace was built prior to the ownership of Michael Ege, but the second furnace was undoubtedly built by Peter Ege at a later date, although Swank, in his "Iron Making in Pennsylvania" says that the furnace was built by Michael Ege. The records show that on August 11, 1810, the Court appointed referees who reported an agreement by which the Pine Grove Furnace and all the lands should be sold at public sale, and they were so sold November 7, 1810, to Michael Ege for 15.565 pounds sterling. At the time of his death, August 31, 1815, he seemed to be the sole owner of the plant at Pine Grove, and the Mt. Holly Estate Furnace and Forge and the Cumberland Furnace Estate, as an order for an appraisal of his estate soon after his death, was issued by the Court, and the following lands were taken at the appraisement:

Peter Ege (his eldest son) took the Pine Grove Furnace Estate.
George Ege (his second son) took the Mt. Holly Iron Works.
Mary Ege accepted the Cumberland Furnace lands.

The patents for the various warrants that became the property of Peter Ege were all granted to him in 1821, and the furnace continued in operation under his management for several years. According to Mrs. Laura E. Flower, of Carlisle, Pa., Peter built the mansion house, without which no old cold blast charcoal furnace property was complete, and when he died we do not know, but the fact remains that his burial place was in the small cemetery on the hill back of the old brick plant, and there an iron slab with the name barely legible still remains.

The Ege family were all iron masters of the old style. George Ege (1st), the father of George (2d) and Michael Ege, died in 1759 and the two sons were brought up by their uncle Baron Henry William Steigle at Elizabeth Furnace, Lancaster County. Baron Steigle will be recalled as one of the great iron masters of his day, and the first manufacturer of glassware in the United States.

The George Stevenson who purchased the lands in 1762 from Samuel Pope, was born in Ireland in 1718 and came to America in 1741. He married Jane Geddes of Mill Creek Hundred in 1744, Mrs. Stevenson died in 1748, and some years later Mr. Stevenson married the widow of Colonel Thomas Cookson and removed to Carlisle in 1765 and became part owner of Pine Grove Furnace.

George Stevenson and Mary his wife by their deed dated April 21 1772, conveyed their land to Finley McGrew, and at this time this land was returned as being located in West Pennsborough Township. Finley McGrew and Dinah his wife by their deed dated April 15, 1773, conveyed the land to Jacob Simeon, and Jacob Simeon and Anna his wife conveyed the land to Michael Ege, Joseph and Thomas Thornburg by his deed dated December 3, 1782. This deed cites, "The same premises on which a furnace is erected," and seems to indicate that the original furnace was built prior to the first date of Michael Ege's ownership. Joseph Thornburg and Rebecca his wife by their deed dated December 22, 1788, conveyed his interest to Thomas Thornburg and John Arthur, and the firm continued until about 1800 when Ege, Thornburg and Arthur seem to have disagreed and various law suits were entered against Michael and Peter Ege, which continued until about 1810 when an agreement was arrived at to refer the matters in dispute to Robert Coleman, another well-known iron master. This agreement was signed by David Watts for Thornburg and Arthur, and by Michael Ege. November 7, 1810 Pine Grove Furnace with all its accumulated acreage of wood land was put up at public sale by order of Court, and Michael Ege purchased it for fifteen thousand dollars, and he seems to have been the sole owner until his death, August 31, 1815. At the time of his death, he left to survive him the following children: Peter; George; Michael (this boy had received special favor from his father and did not share in the estate when the division was made), Mary (we take it from the records that she was married to William C. Chambers); Eliza, then about fourteen years old.

Letters of administration were granted to Peter Ege, George Ege, Michael Ege, Isaac B. Parker, and James Duncan, dated September 15, 1815, and as stated before, Peter Ege came into sole possession of the Pine Grove Furnace Estate, and continued to purchase the surrounding lands at every opportunity. We find that Peter Ege purchased at sheriff's sale November 30, 1826, the lands of David Watts and Robert Buchanan in Dickinson Township, and from which a number of court actions arose as to title.

During the years 1835 to 1838 Peter Ege became involved financially to such an extent that a foreclosure was necessary for the payments of his creditors, and February 6, 1838, he agreed to waive all inquisitions and condemnations. The Pine Grove Furnace Estate was sold by the Sheriff July 21, 1838, to Frederick Watts and Charles B. Penrose for $52,500 and a Sheriff's Deed Poll given dated August 20, 1838, for 35,000 acres located in Dickinson and South Middleton Townships, with a furnace, forge, coal houses, smith and carpenter shops, brick mansion houses, 30 log dwelling houses, grist and saw mill, etc. The property thus came into the ownership of Watts and Penrose, and Charles B. Penrose and Valeria his wife by their deed dated November 25, 1843, conveyed all his interest in the estate to Frederick Watts.

Frederick Watts was the grandfather of William Watts, and came to Pennsylvania in 1760 and bought land on the Juniata River near Duncannon and called his place "Wheatfields." David Watts was his only son and was prepared for college by his mother, Jean Murray. He graduated from the first class sent out from Dickinson College, studied law in Philadelphia and practiced in all the Circuit Courts as far as Baltimore. William Watts, son of David Watts, was born 1809, and was the youngest of six children, four boys and two girls. William was educated both in law and medicine, became the owner of one half interest in Pine Grove Furnace by virtue of a deed from Charles B. Penrose and wife dated October 17, 1845 and deeds from the heirs of Frederick Watts. According to Julia Watts Comstock, her father, William Watts, lived at Pine Grove, her brother David Watts marrying Marion Cameron, granddaughter of General Simon Cameron, and she became the wife of George S. Comstock of Mechanicsburg, both brother and sister having been born at Pine Grove. David Watts in 1794 had taken up several tracts of vacant land farther down the creek, and there were gradually purchased and became part of the lands of the Furnace. David Watts died about 1819, as his will dated July 30, 1819, was probated September 18, 1819.

Rev. Conway P. Wing, D.D., in his "History of Cumberland County, 1879," states that the original furnace was built by Jacob Simons between 1773 and 1782, as Simon became owner of the property April 15, 1773, and conveyed to Michael Ege and the Thornburgs in 1782 and his deed calls for "His improvements."

Mr. Edward B. Wiestling in his splendid article read before the Kittochtinny Historical Society in 1922, entitled, "Old Iron Works of the Cumberland Valley," states that Laurel Forge was built in 1850, and had six fires, a run out and a trip hammer. It used the waters from Laurel Dam for the power and had an output of about two thousand tons yearly. He also adds "The old Garrison at Carlisle added to the gayety of the region. In those days there were fewer people in the world and they were closer together. If they happened in the neighborhood of the mansions, they were expected to stop as a matter of course. The only fuel was wood, and the big fires in the huge hearths were not only comfortable but lent a cheer that nothing else could do. All supplies were brought in large quantities and brought to the works in big wagons."

By the Act of April 23, 1864, the "South Mountain Iron Company" was incorporated, with George A. Cooke, George C. Thomas, James T. gingham and others as incorporators (P. L. 1864, p. 582) and they purchased all of the Pine Grove property from William Watts, and the furnace was greatly improved.

The right to build the railroad connecting the Pine Grove works to the Cumberland Valley R. R. was given by the Act of Assembly of February 28, 1865 (P. L. 1865, p. 245) and the railroad was extended as rapidly as possible. A mortgage was given by the incorporators, but probably on account of the slump in the charcoal iron industry, the iron company failed in the payment of the interest and payments, and at the January term 1877 the Cumberland Valley R. R. Company foreclosed their mortgage against the South Mountain Iron Company and a sale was held at the Merchants Exchange in Philadelphia May 15, 1877, but the property as a whole was not purchased. The property was then divided with the result that Jackson C. Fuller purchased the entire Pine Grove property excepting the railroad and its franchise for one hundred dollars subject to the various liens against it. Thomas B. Kennedy purchased the railroad and its franchise for ten thousand dollars. These sales were confirmed by the Court June 11, 1877.

This resulted in the incorporation of the South Mountain Mining and Iron Company with Jay Cooke, Jay Cooke, Jr., Charles D. Barclay, E. J. Williams, B. J. Woodward, John W. Sexton, William H. Woodward, and John M. Butler, as incorporators with a capital stock of $20,000, which was approved by the Governor September 22, 1877, and Jackson C. Fuller and Caroline M. his wife by their deed dated November 30, 1877, transferred all their right, title and interest in the Pine Grove property situated in Cumberland and Adams Counties. Allen Butler was appointed Treasurer and Manager of the company.

In 1879 the furnace was thoroughly overhauled and recondition" ed by John Birkenbine, one of the best known hydraulic engineers of the time, who afterwards became a member of the State Forestry Reservation Commission, and I was given the task of its physical operation. At this time, so far as I know, it was the most complete charcoal furnace in the State and possibly in the United States. lts engine was one of the "Weimer make that had been in the World Exposition at Philadelphia in 1876. The stock had been enlarged with a closed bell and hopper top, iron syphon hot ovens and steam hoist had been added. It was connected by railroad with the three operating ore mines and limestone quarries, and had a woodland area of about 25,000 acres embracing all of Cooke Township (which had been erected out of Penn Township June 18, 1872 and included all of the furnace proper) with a circumference of about 70 miles.

Despite the misgivings of the old workers who were unfamiliar with modern conditions, the "blow-in" was entirely successful, and the continuance of operations for four years, with only one blow out for repairs and relining, was maintained. As I recall it we made about twenty tons of pig iron every twenty- four hours. Most of this pig iron was sent to Laurel Forge and made into ingots or blooms, although quite a little was sold for car wheels and other purposes requiring a high grade of pig iron.

Even under these advanced conditions, it soon became apparent that not for long could we compete with the cheaper Bessemer products now coming rapidly into the iron market. People looked to price rather than quality, and at that time there was no basis for comparisons. Today, we know that charcoal products for ductility tensile strength and longevity were better than the Bessemer and open hearth steel, but what could we expect. The forests were gone with their fuel, along with the furnaces and forges, and we may only see one inevitable phase of the process of evolution and economical pressure of a vast productive period which demanded volume that could not be met with the charcoal industry.

With all the trials and tribulations of a cold blast charcoal furnace, there was generally considerable comedy, for despite this ducal-feudal colony, there was so little tragedy (except its decay) as to be negligible. The old Tennessee and Virginia mountaineers who formed much of the colony were peaceably inclined, so long as the red liquor was kept in control, and this, we believe, was done then better than it is today. The forge workers were all negroes and a finer lot of men I never worked with. The wood chopping was mostly done in the winter by the surrounding farmers and the charcoal burners who lived in self-constructed cabins in the woods. It was when the coaling jobs became busy in the spring that the teamsters with their mule teams got under way, after a winter's idleness and there was much bucking and confusion at first, but the refractory mule was soon put in line by hitching him backward to a load coming down hill. One lesson of this kind was usually enough, I wish I had jotted down some of the amusing incidents that occurred to me during my stay there, but several stand out clear after all these years. I had an assistant, Willie Bolton, whose widowed mother was the head of a fashionable girls' school at New Rochelle, N. Y., and she induced Mr. Cooke to wish Willie on me. Nothing we did was quite up to Willie's standard. Mrs. Lynch, our Maryland housekeeper in the old mansion, just before Easter, wanted to know how many eggs she should have for each one at breakfast. I thought three or four, but Willie promptly told us he could eat a dozen and top it off with a goose egg, all hard boiled. I promptly bet him a five- dollar bill he could not eat them. The boy ate them and collected the five. To give us all a Christmas dinner diversion, I arranged for a turkey dinner at Gettysburg. We found our sleigh would be too crowded with five, so Willie offered to walk by having a half hour's start and beat us into Gettysburg, but here he lost his bet and I collected mine.

The ore miners were a shifting and mostly an irresponsible lot. They labored eleven hours each day and received eight cents an hour, and were expected to supply their wants from the company store in which Colonel J. D. North kept their accounts balanced for fear of squandering too much on non-essentials. Pat McGuire was one of these. He lived in a log cabin not far from the church, and his wife frequently helped out around the house. One winter night Pat, in a drunken fit, beat up this little woman and ran her out of the house with nothing on but a pair of boots and night dress. Fortunately I was out late that night when she came to the furnace crying and shivering, and I took her to Mrs. Lynch who made her comfortable. Next night Pat was visited by a committee of six, who thoroughly whipped him and put a rope around his neck but let him off on his promise to leave the place and not come back. He went to Carlisle and was locked up, and the foolish little woman left me no peace until I went to Carlisle and got him out, but neither of them was permitted to come to Pine Grove. The next issue of the Police Gazette had a large picture of how the Pine Grove Vigilantes treated wife beaters.

Frequently there were guests of either Mr. Fuller or Mr. Cooke in the mansion during the summer months. As a young man of social connections and supposedly of good behavior, it became my duty to see those guests entertained. Horseback riding was the chief attraction, and usually by those who never had been mounted. Three young ladies were given preliminary training and when thought safe, I started with them one moonlight evening to cross the mountains to Bendersville where a supper had been ordered. We reached the top of the mountain safely and then our troubles began. Approaching from the other direction we could clearly hear the hoof beats of many horses. The girls became panic stricken. I dismounted them all and took the horses and girls into the underbrush and I went forth to meet the enemy, which proved to be four men looking for horse thieves. After some parley and inspection of our mounts, they went on their way, but the girls refused to proceed and insisted on returning, thus missing a good supper.

Catoctin Iron Works, just south of us in Maryland, were having trouble with their men who were out on a strike, and word came to me they were coming in a body to Pine Grove to induce our workers to strike. That would have been a serious matter which must be avoided. Silently and unobserved at night I fastened a locomotive head light on my railroad velocipede (a new vehicle just out) and started to Carlisle. I came near not reaching that place for near Laurel, a rabbit started ahead of me between the rails and in my endeavor to overtake it, I upset and lay for some time unconscious in the ditch. Finally coming into my senses and feeling no bones broken, I proceeded. I had myself appointed a special policeman and was back before sun-up and sent a trusted party to intercept the Catoctin people with the threat that they would all be arrested the moment they came into Cooke Township. They did not come.

The old ore bank near the furnace had become a source of constant anxiety. It was about eighty feet deep and water coming in regularly. Never did we have enough ore to supply the needs of the furnace beyond a week, often only two days, and a flooding of this ore hole meant disaster. The water was kept under control by the use of a large plunger pump about six feet long and 12" in diameter driven by a huge water wheel 20 feet diameter and 10 foot face. One night the unexpected happened. Gravel sucked into the cylinder and constantly rocking back and forth with each suction of the piston had gradually worn through the iron and the mischief was done. When I was called, the water had raised four feet and in order to get the name of the maker I stood in water up to my waist and felt for the letters with my-fingers. I finally made out Reading, Penna. and in consulting old ledgers we ordered by wire a cylinder to replace. Before it was out of the sand mould, I was in the shops seeing it bored and through the influence of personal friends had a special car placed on a passenger train and met our waiting locomotive at Carlisle Junction. In the meantime a centrifugal pump had been mounted on a raft in the mine hole to help out, and within a week we were normal. The ore from this mine was run through washers to remove the clay and sand, the overflow from the washers was confined to a dam which frequently broke out, and the Mt. Holly Paper mills soon were to detect.

Just before casting time one evening, the keeper informed me they could not cast on time because a drunken workman whom we had discharged had purposely waded through the "Pig Beds" and destroyed the moulds.I ordered him out, and when he refused there was a test of skill and endurance, but the third round was sufficient and I took him out, and Esquire Weiser sent him to Carlisle on the next train. His big burly brother tried to get me the next day, but did not like the looks of my hip pocket, and left after trying to beat up another man after dark, when he mistook the man for me. As an evidence of what might have been a panic among good but credulous people, and how it was met, Dr. Longsdorf, our Company physician, startled us one day by announcing that we had a case of smallpox on the place. Old Jim Dougherty, a wood chopper and collier out in the Whetstone job four miles away, was down with the disease, and every last person around him had deserted him. It was necessary for someone to go there at once. Several of us offered, but Daniel King, the General Manager, who happened to be at Pine Grove, vetoed it and went himself, daily, until the poor fellow died. The person who would not be inspired by such noble leadership is hopeless.

Water, pestilence and famine are dreadful scourges, but nothing at Pine Grove filled us with such terror as an alarm of fire in the mountains. The year before I came there over 2,000 cords of wood had been burned and many acres of growing timber. This was all new to me, but after the first fire I saw that the failure lay in having too many bosses with cross purposes. There should be one director whom all must obey. Dan Leeper the wood boss mapped out the various wood and coal jobs. The bosses of the different jobs were instructed that at the given signal from the furnace whistle all hands were to report to me. The six carpenters were furnished with brush hooks, who, under Leeper, were to cut away brush for a fire line following them with torches and forks, backfiring was begun and patrols folio-wed for keeping the fire line clear. I never lost a cord of wood, though we had many stubborn fires. Meals were conveyed to the fire fighters who were kept on the line until all danger was past. I had some narrow escapes. One hot July day during a very stubborn fire, in back tracking I found the line uncovered for several miles, and was at a loss to know the meaning until I heard some one talking in a secluded spot, and on investigation found six men playing seven up. I ordered them to the office, but they threatened to beat me up. Putting my hand to my hip pocket, I declared it was death to the first man who came towards me. Of course it was sheer nerve, but I got them down the hill and at once replaced them.

The railroad was the weakest part of our system. Not enough business could be supplied locally to balance the expenditures. We laid out a park half mile south of the furnace. Dammed up Mountain Creek for a lake. Put in a number of attractions and erected rustic buildings. With these diversions we had through the summer season daily, four to ten coach loads of Sunday School and other organizations with picnics. One of the Market Street, Philadelphia, Baldwin steam cars, that operated during the 1876 Centennial, was purchased and carried parties between the park and the furnace at ten cents the round trip, and it soon paid for itself. On one of these days a drunken rowdy held the car by himself and refused to get off. We ran the little machine to Laurel out of sight, and dumped him in the shallow water of the lake. This park was the gathering place for some of the most notable meetings of distinguished persons in the State of that period, for once in each year Mr. Cooke and Mr. Fuller royally entertained their friends. Special cars from Philadelphia carried notables from that city, while on the Cumberland Valley another car gathered them up. United States Senators, Congressmen, bankers, railroad officials and state officers were highly entertained, and the topics of the day thoroughly discussed. Bart Woodward of Philadelphia, with his famous "Fish House Punch," soon had them all going full steam ahead.

The Fuller Brick and Slate Company. - March 14th, 1891. the South Mountain Mining and Iron Company conveyed to the Fuller Brick and Slate Company four tracts of land in Adams and Cumberland counties consisting of 439 acres for the purpose of operating as a brick-making plant, as a fine body of shale and clay had been found on the land, and a stock company was organized with a capital of $600,000. A fine quality of buff-colored brick was made, but for some reason the market did not seem to be open for their product, and the brick company was forced to suspend operations, and by a deed dated August 11, 1913, reconveyed back to the South Mountain Mining and Iron Company the four tracts of land. The large building used for the brick making was lowered four feet, and is now used for the storage of machinery and stables for the teams of the Forestry Department. The stone grist mill has been refitted into a delightful building now used for entertainment and eating rooms, and during the summer months is well patronized. The park with its many original pine trees, is used during the summer season by the girl scouts organizations, as well as other pleasure seekers. One of the curiosities in the older days was a pine tree fountain. Pipes were laid from a spring of fine mountain water across the creek, and were run under one of the big pine trees, and brought out about three feet above the ground. No one could see the pipes, and of course the query was where did the water come from flowing so freely out of that pine tree?

By deed dated November 22, 1912, and other deeds later, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania purchased from the South Mountain Mining and Iron Company over fourteen thousand acres in Cumberland County and nearly three thousand acres in Adams County for forestry purposes at four dollars per acre. The Department rebuilt the roadway running from Pine Grove to Caledonia, and it is now one of the attractive automobile drives that could be taken for mountain scenery, and a great number of pleasure cabins are built on the land, especially along Mountain Creek.

A terrific forest fire occurred April 20, 1915, on these lands, and destroyed many acres of fine young timber, and burned the Forge Farm house, barn and all out buildings, burned the Forge Mansion then occupied by Joseph Fuller, and several summer cabins, and also burned the immense ice house that stood at the edge of Laurel Lake filled with hundreds of tons of pure ice that had been harvested from Laurel Lake for use in Carlisle and Harrisburg by the United Ice and Coal Company of Harrisburg. It was a wonderfully destructive sight to watch the glistening ice while the wooden house around it burned fiercely.

It is almost impossible to record a history or even a sketch of history of such works as the old charcoal furnaces, without giving the names of those faithful helpers, who in all troubles stood shoulder to shoulder with the owners, feeling that the end of their work must soon come. While I was manager of the works, the following were my dependable helpers ready for call at any time:

John Christman, master mechanic, could do more and better work with a chisel and file than many can now with lathe and planer.

Daniel Leeper, wood boss, knew every foot of the property, and all the deceptive tricks of wood choppers, putting stumps and crooked sticks in their cord ranks.

William Foreman, Superintendent of No. 1 ore bank, a splendid man who had to deal with all sorts and conditions of men and knew how to do it.

Ezra Root, general repairman at banks, expert wire rope splicer, blacksmith and wood worker, very ingenious, loyal and intelligent.

Joseph D. Barber, millwright. Splendid mechanic. Built the large overhead water wheels at forge and the ore hole. Was a man of intelligence. He was an ardent member of the "Greenback" political party. Died January 1st, 1892.

Jerry Barber, his son, for years in charge of the stables and later the personal coachman for Mr. Fuller, and with his wife, Kate Bailey Barber, conducted the boarding house. It was always said that when Jerry looked at a horse, he knew every fault and favor in every bone in the body. It was thought that nothing but death could pry Jerry away from Pine Grove Furnace, but he did move with his family a few years ago to Mount Holly Springs, and died there January 29, 1927. Jerry was born October 21, 1849.

Charles Sheaffer, the miller at the stone grist mill, was a good miller and quite a wag. His tales would make a good volume rich in humor if they had been kept.

Samuel Dysart, boss carpenter and coal and iron policeman, Sam had wonderful skill with his tools.

William Mounts had charge of mine banks No. 2 and 3 in the vicinity of Laurel, and was always known as "Old Man Mounts" by everybody, loved by everybody, and had the character to go with it.

To make a success in the charcoal iron manufacture, no set of men are more important than the Charcoal burners, and we were fortunate in having a set of very dependable men. Mr. Thomas Hyle still living at Pine Grove in his 85th year, was one of them. There were four men in each coal job, and they were expected to turn out into charcoal from 200 to 400 cords of wood each coaling season. These colliers were William Showers, William and George Stainer Emery Cline, Daniel, Calvin, John and William Cline Eli, Andrew and Fred Heller, John, Hiram and John Warner, Jr. Thomas and Henry McElwee, William, John, Jesse and William Waine, Jr. George Murtiff and George Boane.

On the furnace work the following were employed:

Keepers: Daniel Stout and Davie Weiley.
Keepers' helpers: George Shockley and John Martin
Filler: John Bohn.

At the forge the following were employed: Joseph Fuller, Superintendent. Clerk, Mr. McClure, who later became a noted divine in the Episcopal Church. The company store was managed by J. D. North, assisted by W. A. Davis and Albert Warner. The upper or Bunker Hill farm was tenanted by Frank Arnold, the Forge Farm by Edward Grimes and the Furnace Farm by Mr. Lynch. The teacher in the little school house was Miss Ella Cormoran. Mrs. Lynch took splendid care of us in the old mansion house until we moved into the new mansion house (now used for a hotel) where Mrs. Mary Mullen and her daughter were persuaded to come from the Mount Holly Inn to take charge of the new place.