The Lehighton tannery that John Leisenring and his cousin Daniel Leisenring acquired around 1820 stood just three miles downstream from Mauch Chunk, the coal and tourist town created and entirely owned by Josiah White’s Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company. It could not have escaped them that Mauch Chunk was the de facto capital of what was poised to become the Silicon Valley of its day. In the surrounding countryside rival operators were already opening their own mines and canals wherever coal and rivers to transport it could be found. The Schuylkill Navigation Company, for example, floated seven thousand tons of anthracite (a fraction of the LC&N’s haul, to be sure) from the Schuylkill River Valley to Philadelphia in the late 1820s. Another new company, the Beaver Meadow, took an option on a coal mine bordering the Schuylkill. Along the Susquehanna River, Maurice Wurtz and his two brothers joined forces in a hasty plan to build a canal from the Lackawanna River to city markets.
An ambitious man with a growing family would be foolish to linger around Lehighton when so many opportunities beckoned in Mauch Chunk. For one thing, the LC&N was in the process of expanding Mauch Chunk’s inn to accommodate its tourist trade. In 1827 or 1828, when John Leisenring was about thirty-five, his father-in-law, Alexander Steadman, proposed a business partnership with his old Philadelphia acquaintance, Josiah White: Steadman and his son-in-law John Leisenring would take charge of the inn, now renamed the Mansion House. John would operate the hotel while Steadman ran the hotel’s metal and tanning concessions. The deal was struck, and John sold his half of the Lehighton tannery to his cousin Daniel and moved to Mauch Chunk.