As the anthracite coal industry grew in the mid- and late 1800's, small communities called patches sprouted around Saint Clair and all of Schuylkill County.
The Patches that surrounded Saint Clair were; Arnots Addition, Wadesville, Lorraine, Dark Water, New Castle, Mill Creek, Conquenac, Windy Harbor, Mount Hope, Mine's Hill, Girard Tunnel, Georgetown, Milne Hill, Irish Town, Delaware Mines, Crow Hollow, and John's Patch. Today most of these patches are gone or with only a few homes here and there. New Castle, Dark Water, Delaware Mines, Lorraine, and many parts of Wadesville no longer exist after being razed by Reading Anthracite Company for strip mining. The people in Crow Hollow and most of the other remote patches were relocated when a coal vein was discovered where the homes were built. An example, people from Crow Hollow, were relocated when a drift of the Mammoth Vein was opened. This vein later became known as Pine Forest. The last time I was in Lorraine was the early 1970's, you could walk on what remained of the cobble stone streets and see what was left of the foundations of the homes that once made up the town. At that time you had to walk there because there were no longer roads to Lorraine. Trees were growing in the foundations at that time, I would guess today you would not be able to distinguish the streets among the ruins. Lorraine is still listed on some maps of the area, even those on the Internet (Excite Maps).
You ask what are Patches?
They were small communities built beside breakers and collieries, usually by coal companies, the PATCHES housed miners and their families, most newly arrived immigrants.
The Patches' proximity to the mines afforded the miners a short walk to work. Because of the hardships of the mine the people who lived in the Patch formed a sense of community. Several factors were attributed to this, the Patches isolation and their tiny size - usually a few dozen homes.
"The smallness of the patch threw them together on terms of intimacy. There was a sharing of meager worldly possessions and an expression of sympathy in times of illness and trouble."
This observations came from George C. Korson, a Pottsville REPUBLICAN reporter of the 1920s, in his 1938 book "Minstrels of the Mine Patch: Songs and Stories of the Anthracite Era." His book details ballads and yarns that mining families sang in the evenings to forget their hard lives.
Patches were built above anthracite seams, usually outside larger towns, like Saint Clair. Wadesville - a half-mile west of Saint Clair and a mile north of Pottsville - lies atop the rich Mammoth Vein.
Today the communities are not as close, they no longer have their own stores, schools, teams, or mining jobs. With the closing of the mines and advances in transportation the Patches overcame their remoteness and isolation. The people don't live and work within a 1-mile radius anymore. Back in the mining heyday the men went to the mines while the women took care of the homes and children, today the majority of families the men head one way to work and the women head to their job.
The "Patch" still existing in St. Clair
In 1846 William and Thomas Johns took a least from Wetherill and Seitzinger to mine an area that became known as "Johns Basin". They built their 1st breaker in 1849 but replaced it in 1857 with a new one that was known as "Johns Eagle Colliery". Both William and Thomas were miners from Wales and both serious about being near their operations. They lived in a "mansion" within 100 yards of their breaker in John's Patch. Their mansion was exposed to all the soot, noise and mud that came with being near a colliery. Even when they became millionaires they did not move away. Around their "mansion" in the patch were the homes of the miners. Over the years "Johns Patch" became known as just "the Patch". The "patch" exists today even after Wal-Mart moved in, and is the best example of "company homes". Several "patch" homes were removed for the construction.
The Early Settlers in the Town
Between 1840-1870 parts of the town were divided in "rows." Howard's Row on South Mill Street, the Long Row on North Thrid Street, Lanigan's Row on South Third Street, and Kirk's Row on Nicholas Street.
LORRAINE - Still found on some maps. This town only lasted for about 10 years around 1920
This picture shows Rt. 61 going through Saint Clair on Second Street. In the mid-1980's a bypass was constructed that moved Rt. 61 behind the homes on 4th Street. With this bypass two train bridges were removed, one at the North end of town and one at the South end.
GEORGETOWN - Wadesville area Homes were moved in the 1940's
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