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A History of Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania


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1796—First newspaper, The Herald of the Times (weekly), published in Wilkes-Barré.
1797—July. The Duke of Orleans (later Louis Philippe, King of France) and his broth-
ers, the Duke of Montpensier and the Count of Beaujolais, visit Wilkes-Barré.
—December 26. John Wilkes, one of the two men for whom Wilkes-Barré was
named, dies in England.
1799—April 4. The Pennsylvania Legislature enacts the “Compromise Law,” relating
to lands lying “ in the seventeen townships, Luzerne County.”
—July. Capt. Samuel Bowman, holding a commission in the “ Provisional Army”
being organized by the United States for the anticipated war with France, is
raising a companj’ of infantry at Wilkes-Barré. A detachment of thirty men
marches to Elizabethtown, New Jersey.
—December 27. Public exercises held in the Court House in memory of General
Washington, whose death occurred at Mt. Vernon December 14.
1800—July. Erection begun on Public Square of a meeting-house—many years later
known as “ Old Ship Zion.”
1801—Erection begun on Public Square of the second Luzerne County Court House.
—March 4. Democrats celebrate by a procession and barbecue the election and
inauguration of Thomas Jefferson as President of the United States.
1802—Erection begun of stone jail on East Market Street.
—July 20. Isaac Barré, one of the two men for whom Wilkes-Barré was named, dies
in London.
1805—Easton and Wilkes-Barré Turnpike in process of construction.
1806—March 17. Borough of Wilkes-Barré incorporated by Act of Legislature.
—August 18. Wilkes-Barré Library Company organized.
—October 16. First elephant show in Wilkes-Barré.
1807—First brick building in Wilkes-Barré erected.
—March. Wilkes-Barré Academy incorporated, and opened a few months later.
1808—February 11. Jesse Fell burns anthracite coal in an open grate for the first time
in North-eastern Pennsylvania.
1810—September. First bank (“Philadelphia Branch”) begins operations in Wilkes-
1812—April 10. Launch of the river-boat, The Luzerne of Wilkes-Barré.
1816—June and August. Severe frosts in Wyoming Valley, and certain crops destroyed.
1817—February 14. Thermometer at Wilkes-Barré registers 20° below 0.
1818—July 12. Extraordinary hail-storm in Wyoming Valley.
1819—February. First bridge across the Susquehanna at Wilkes-Barré—foot of Market
Street—opened to the public.
—November 1. Luzerne County Bible Society is organized.
—November 14. The river at Wilkes-Barré is frozen over.
1826—April 12. First steamboat (Codorus) at Wilkes-Barré.
1831—May. First canal-boat leaves Wilkes-Barré for Philadelphia, laden with flour, coal
and lumber.
1833—July 3. The remains of those wrho fell in the battle and massacre of Wyoming are
re-interred, and the corner-stone of the Wyoming Monument is laid.
1834—May. Ice, snow, cold weather, and seven-year locusts damage vegetation in Wyo-
ming Valley and cause much inconvenience.
—June 27. Wyoming Division, North Branch Canal, completed, and water let in.
1836—March 26. Sleds cross the Susquehanna on the ice.
—October 5. Eleven inches of snow fall in Wyoming Valley.
1842—June 18. First balloon ascension in Wilkes-Barré.
1843—May 23. First train of passenger-cars run on a railroad in Wyoming Valley.
1846—July 3. Wyoming Monument dedicated, in the presence of the Governor of the
Commonwealth and other distinguished visitors.
—December 7. The Wyoming Artillerists leave Wilkes-Barré for the seat of war.
(The War with Mexico.)
1849—April 6. Wilkes-Barré Law and Library Association organized.
1850—First telegraph line running into Wilkes-Barré is in operation.

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02 Apr 2013
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