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Centralia Conyngham Township History & Genealogy

Raymond Reilley Obituary

This website is Dedicated to the Memory of My Dad Raymond Reilley.
He is loved and missed VERY MUCH

View of Centralia from Near the Wind Mills

Windmill near Centralia









updated 02/06/10

History of Centralia And Conygham Township:


Centralia was first known as the "Bull's Head", and the first house in the town on the Catawissa road was built in 1841 by Jonathan Faust, and called the "'Bull's Head Tavern". This Hotel subsequently passed into the hands of Reuben Wasser, but retained it's former name throughout it's natural life. It was a stopping place for travelers, and for about 12 years comprised all of Centralia that then existed. Jonathan Faust did not own the land on which the house was built; he did not even buy the lumber but appropriated it without compunction, and his right of possession was never disputed.

The "Bull's Head Tavern" was originally a log house and in 1916 it was razed to make way for a store. Patrick Dempsey, a contractor, erected the property which was used as a fruit and seed store and a residence. Mr. William Weidensaul conducted the tavern as a saloon till 1867. He was follwed by James Goldsworthy, and later it became the property of Mr. Andrew Zimbo. 

In 1860 Jonathan Hoagland opened the first store opposite the "Bull's Head Tavern". two years later he was appointed postmaster. for a few years the village had been know as centerville, but as an office of that name already existed in the State, at the insistence of the postal authorities, Centralia was suggested by Mr. Rae.

In 1865, the Lehigh and Mahanoy Railroad Company, later known as the Lehigh Valley, Built a line through the town on what is appropriately known as Railroad St. A freight and passenger station was then built on the Western extremity of Railroad Street. With this new entrance into the town several new collieries were opened and the town began to grow in size, population and wealth.

Increasing lawlessness caused an application to be made for incorporation, and at the February session of Columbia County Court, Bloomsburg, in 1866, the Borough of Centralia was formally chartered. James Dyke was
elected first mayor, or chief Burgess as it was then called.

Conynghm Township:   Conyngham was the seventh and last township formed out of the original territory of Catawissa. After being embraced successively in Roaring Creek and Locust, the extreme southern part of the county, at the February court, 1856, was erected into the township of Conyngham. It was named in honor of the president judge, Honorable John Nesbitt Conyngham, and by an unforeseen coincidence the township which perpetuates his name was formed at the last session in Bloomsburg over which he presided. The propriety of this tribute in appreciation of his upright character and unswerving integrity is attested by his eminent ability and untarnished record as an impartial judge and an honorable man.
     Until the year 1830 Conyngham township, and indeed the western middle coal field, was known only as a wild, mountainous country, whose fastnesses were the haunts of the deer, the fox and the catamount. The region was not, however, entirely unknown. The Sunbury and Reading state road passed through Ashland, just at the foot of Locust mountain, and from that point a rough wagon track led over the mountains northward. About the year 1804 the Red tavern was built on the top of Locust mountain by John Rhodeburger. Subsequently, when in 1816 or 1817 the bridle path was so improved as to be really a good road, there was an almost ceaseless stream of travel past the Red house. Stage-coaches dashed down the level grade above, while the echoing horn intensifies the hurry and confusion of the always noisy tavern yard. Four hostlers emerged from the stable door, ready to grasp the bits and undo the fastenings of the coach horses the moment they were stopped; others brought out the relay that had been resting, and the coach was ready to renew the journey before the jaded passengers had scarcely become aware of the stop. A new driver mounted the box, deftly grasped the reins, uttered a quiet signal to start or noisily cracked his whip, and the coach disappeared in a cloud of dust.
     Nearly the whole of Conyngham township was surveyed about the year seventeen hundred and ninety-three. No one, at that time, would have supposed that beneath it's rugged surface were the store houses of a vast mineral wealth. But during the succeeding thirty years rumors of discoveries of coal and iron began to be circulated and credited. The confirmation of these reports caused
Con't Here

I would like to meet with residents from the 1920's to the 1960's. I would like to know what life was like BEFORE the mine fire. Please call if you would like to  talk










Site Originally Created July 28, 1999


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Ritamarie Long

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Work Place Safety 


Centralia Ambulance is now a Training Center for CPR - First Aid - AED Training can be done on line !!!
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