In the Kingdom of Coal: An American Family and the Rock That Changed the World

By Dan Rottenberg | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3

Holy Trinity

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.

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In the Kingdom of Coal: An American Family and the Rock That Changed the World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Leisenring and Givens Family Trees ix
  • Chronology xi
  • Part I 11
  • Chapter 1 - A Rock That Burns 13
  • Chapter 2 - A Passage from the Mines 21
  • Chapter 3 - Holy Trinity 29
  • Chapter 4 - Boy Wonder of the Anthracite 37
  • Chapter 5 - Souls in Darkness 47
  • Chapter 6 - A Road Not Taken 57
  • Part II 65
  • Chapter 7 - The Ambitions of Henry Clay Frick 67
  • Chapter 8 - At War in the Coke Fields 75
  • Part III 99
  • Chapter 9 - Starting Over 101
  • Chapter 10 - The Rise of John L. Lewis 115
  • Chapter 11 - Utopia Goes Union 135
  • Chapter 12 - Be Careful What You Wish For 165
  • Chapter 13 - Prelude to Murder 187
  • Part IV 207
  • Chapter 14 - The Age of Uncertainty 209
  • Chapter 15 - Riding the Roller Coaster 231
  • Chapter 16 - Nowhere to Hide 245
  • Principal Characters 267
  • Notes 273
  • Bibliography 315
  • Acknowledgments 319
  • Index 321
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