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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Local History: From coal picker to State Senator

  • Work was hard and long in the days of Hawley's gravity railroad. Here as well as everywhere, child labor was not uncommon. It did not mean their lives were commonplace or without legacy. One Hawley lad who was picking through coal at the age of 10 grew up to be a Pennsylvania' Senator.
    His son would become a career Army officer who had custody of a famous World War I canine hero.
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  • Work was hard and long in the days of Hawley's gravity railroad. Here as well as everywhere, child labor was not uncommon. It did not mean their lives were commonplace or without legacy. One Hawley lad who was picking through coal at the age of 10 grew up to be a Pennsylvania' Senator.
    His son would become a career Army officer who had custody of a famous World War I canine hero.
    Edmund Burnham Hardenbergh served in the state Senate for two terms, first elected in the year of his 48th birthday. That was in 1894.
    Turn back the calendar 48 years; Edmund was born July 31, 1846 at Wilsonville.
    His parents were George and Harriet (Barton) Hardenbergh. His father manufactured ax handles at the mill located at the Wilsonville falls.
    An early name for Hawley
    Soon he and his family moved to West Hawley, where Edmund later recorded in an autobiography that his father "was one of the first settlers." He also claims that the town at first was known as "Hardenberghville" after his father, "but on account of the unwieldiness of his name it was changed to Hawleysbergh and the Hawley."
    Other historical references give the original name of the Hawley settlement as Paupack Falls, which was changed to Falls Port in 1848 and then Hawleysburgh in 1849 after Pennsylvania Coal Company (PCC) President Irad Hawley. It was then shortened to Hawley in 1851. According to this account, at least the west section had an entirely different name at one time.
    Joseph Hardenberg(h) -who may have been Edmund's brother- was named postmaster in Hawley in 1860.
    George Hardenbergh became superintendent of the coal company. He and his wife were charter members of the Hawley Methodist-Episcopal Church and was charter member of the local Masonic Lodge. Their house still stands at the southwest corner of Chestnut Avenue and Keystone Street.
    Edmund had nine siblings. Anna, Elizabeth, John, Leonard and Willy J. died in infancy or early childhood. Mary died at 18. Joseph Barton enlisted in the Civil War where he served and was honorably discharged He died at Hawley at age 48. Franklin Harrison died in 1876. Charles worked for the railroad at Avoca, Pa.; Sara Louise became a music teacher at Scranton.
    Humble start
    Concerning Edmund, "His educational advantages were meager," said the editor of Illustrated Wayne, published in 1900. At the age of eight years he became a slate picker for the PCC and followed that occupation for nearly a decade.
    The PCC maintained great piles of anthracite coal at the Hawley yard, along what is now Gravity Road off Columbus Avenue in Palmyra Township. From 1850 to 1885, the PCC delivered coal from on its gravity system from Wyoming Valley mines to Hawley for shipment. The company was a major source of employment at Hawley, most of them jobs of hard labor- for boys and men.
    Page 2 of 4 - Textile mills in that era also employed children, including at the Bellemonte Silk Mill in Hawley where girls started at the age of eight. When the Silk Mill opened in 1881, the factory was a competition to the Hawley Graded School which opened in 1879. Some families sensed more of a need in sending their youngsters to work rather than school.
    Edmund was soon promoted to hauling water for the PCC, but this career was cut short when he fell in the canal basin at Hawley and nearly drowned. The boy was rescued as he went down the third time. His mother nursed him back to health, and then he went to school.
    He may have attended the schoolhouse just up the street from his home, on upper Keystone Street. Research is yet to verify that the school, found on 19th Century Hawley street maps, is still standing.
    After schooling in Hawley he attended Wyoming Seminary in Kingston, Pa. and later Normal School at Palmyra, NY.
    In the spring of 1865 at the age of 19 he became a brakeman on the Erie Railroad on the Hawley branch. Two years earlier the PCC had changed business to the new era of steam railroading rather than continue to transfer coal at Hawley to the slow canal boats of the Delaware & Hudson Canal (D&H).
    Hardenbergh was working on the first successful use of a steam railroad in Wayne County.
    In 1868, the Erie extended a line to East Honesdale. Edmund removed to Honesdale where he became baggageman on the new Erie passenger line. He was promoted to conductor in February 1870.
    Later he became the Division's Superintendent for the D&H.
    Political career
    While working on the rail, Hardenbergh had higher ambitions. He gave his spare time to study and during one of his vacations completed the course at Eastman's Business College at Poughkeepsie, NY.
    He had taken much interest in politics in his early years and in 1884 he was elected by the Republicans to the House of Representatives and twice served a two-year term.
    Hardenbergh served as chairman of the Wayne County Republican Committee for 1891-1892 and in 1894 was nominated and elected as State Senator. The one-time slate picker had won by 3,000 votes.
    In 1898 he was re-elected but by a slimmer majority of less than 400 votes. This was attributed to the Senator's acknowledged friendship for U.S. Senator Matthew S. Quay (Rep., 1887-1898; 1901-1904) and his opposition to the nomination of Homer Greene, esq.,, of Honesdale, for Congress.
    Hardenbergh served as senator until 1901 when he was elected as Pennsylvania Auditor General, serving one, two-year term. He resigned from the Senate on May 7th of that year, with numerous eulogies to his upstanding character left in the record by fellow Senators. He was known to them as "Ned."
    Page 3 of 4 - He was delegate to Republican National Convention from Pennsylvania in 1904.
    Hardenbergh married Susan Kimble Pellett of Paupack on Jan. 27, 1869. They resided in a fine home in north Honesdale, at 307- Fourteenth Street. He bought the house in 1875 and it stayed in the family about 80 years. They raised two children, Clara Louise and Raymond Waite.
    The Senator and his wife joined Grace Episcopal Church in Honesdale where he served as vestryman. He was a member of the Order of Red Men, Order of Railway Conductors and the Masonic Society.
    His wife's grandfather John Pellett was one of the original settlers of the Wallenpaupack river valley.
    Senator Hardenbergh died in May 1919 at home. At the time of his death he was President of Citizen Publishing Company in Honesdale. The company produced the Wayne County Citizen newspaper, direct forerunner of The News Eagle.
    Daughter Clara Louise Hardenbergh became a charter member of the Wayne County Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in 1913, serving as Registrar.
    Their son was born July 25, 1877. Raymond started his Army career when he volunteered for the Spanish American War in May 1898. He joined with Company E, 13th PA Regiment.
    He served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under Col. Edgar Jadwin in Cuba and was appointed a second lieutenant in the regular army.
    The flood control dam built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers north of Honesdale in the late 1950's was named for Jadwin, who attained the rank of General.
    Lt. Hardenbergh advanced to the rank of Colonel and served in both World War I and World War II.
    A famous dog
    In 1920 he and his family were given custody of a famous and heroic Army dog by the name of "Rags."
    Rags, a Cairn Terrier mix, was found abandoned on the streets of Paris by an American doughboy, Private James Donovan. Rags became mascot to the 16th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division. The dog was trained as a messenger. In July 1918 Rags and his handler, Donovan along with an infantry unit of 42 men were surrounded by German soldiers. Rags carried back a message in his collar which resulted in an artillery barrage and reinforcements that rescued the group.
    On October 9, 1918, Rags and Donavan were wounded and gassed by German shellfire. They were returned to the United States. They were placed in Fort Sheridan Base Hospital in Chicago that specialized in gas cases. Donavan died due to his injuries.
    Major Hardenbergh, his wife Helen and their two daughters Helen (15) and Susan (7) arrived at Fort Sheridan in 1920 and became attached to Rags. After several other tours of duty the Hardenbergh family, with Rags, arrived at Governor's Island in New York harbor in 1924. The dog became a well-known New York celebrity. He was the subject of a book, and in 1928 he marched down Broadway with the 1st Division troops as part of the divisions 10th Anniversary of World War I reunion.
    Page 4 of 4 - In 1934, Hardenbergh, by then promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, was transferred to Washington, D.C. to serve in the War Department. Rags was with them; the dog died in 1936 at the age of 20 and was buried at the Aspen Hill Memorial Park and Animal Sanctuary in Silver Spring, Maryland near the Hardenbergh home.
    The beloved mascot was known for his ability to hear incoming artillery shells and reacting, before the soldiers were aware of them. Rags was also trained to salute with his right paw.
    Colonel Hardenbergh died on Feb. 3, 1949. He and his wife Helen (1879-1951) are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. They also had a son, Raymond.
    ---
    Editors' Correction: A picture in the Local History story concerning Pat Monaghan and Hawley's Erie Garage had the incorrect name for the Hawley School official receiving the donation of the driver's education car. Pictured is Albert Haggarty, Supervising Principal, not Maurice Bobst.

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