Patrick Hoban was a railroad contractor for the Pennsylvania Coal Company (PCC), whose duties including managing the massive coal piles at Hawley.

HAWLEY - Patrick Hoban was a railroad contractor for the Pennsylvania Coal Company (PCC), whose duties including managing the massive coal piles at Hawley. The PCC’s gravity railroad started operation in 1850 and continued to 1885.

Patrick and his wife Bridget’s first born child, Michael, became a Catholic priest and in 1896, was consecrated as Bishop of the Scranton Diocese.

Moved to Hawley, 1853

Patrick Hoban was born in 1813 (another source says 1830) in Kilfine, County Mayo, Ireland. He had a sister Catherine and two brothers, James and Joseph.

He and Bridget Agnes Hennigan were married January 2, 1852, in St. Rose Church, Carbondale. She was also from Ireland- Ardnaree, County Sligo. After their wedding they went to West Virginia where he worked on a section of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.

While there, they were scammed and lost all their money paying their employees. They moved to Waterloo, New Jersey, where they built a log cabin and stayed two years. Patrick Hoban was completing a contract to build a section of the Morris & Essex Division of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western (DL&S) Railroad.

While in Waterloo, their son Michael John Hoban was born, on June 6, 1853.
Mass was celebrated in Patrick’s house, in lieu of a local church, for the Catholics employed on the project.

Once he was done with that work, he decided to move to Pennsylvania, where he “perceived the advantages of the industrial conditions at Hawley,” Hawley historian Michael J. McAndrew wrote in 1927. Hoban and his family moved here in the fall of 1853.

Hoban secured from the PCC the contract of loading the coal stored during the winter months, or while canal navigation was closed. Another reference states that he had a contact to transfer coal to the canal boats.

Hawley’s major period of growth in the mid-19th century was owed to the need to transport anthracite coal to market. The PCC carried millions of tons of it from the mines in the Pittston, Pa. area in Luzerne County, to Hawley. From 1850 to 1863 the coal was transferred to canal boats on the Delaware & Hudson (D&H) Canal. Starting in December 1863, the coal was loaded onto waiting Erie steam trains instead.

The coal did not move in winter due to the expectation that the canal would be frozen over. That all changed in Hawley when the PCC brought in the steam railroad, connecting Hawley to Lackawaxen and the outside world by rail. The D&H, however, continued to rely on its canal where the canal company’s own gravity system brought coal to Honesdale.

Township supervisor

Patrick Hoban was elected to a three year term as Palmyra Township Supervisor at the election on February 18, 1859. Also elected were George W. Atkinson for a one year term and Andrew Simons for a two year term.

Palmyra Township, at that time, included the town of Hawley; the borough was not annexed until 1884.

Other township posts filled at that election were Inspectors, Peter Carr and William R. Atkinson; Treasurer, Thomas Jordan; Clerk, Patrick Jordan; Assessor, Charles Jameson; School Directors, William C. Conklin and A. M. Atkinson; Auditor, I. B. Fitch; Poor Masters, F. Seidler and Ira Compton; Constable, Nicholas Dauber and James Thompson. The race for  Judge of Election ended in a tie, between Michael Bohan and D.R. Dix.

Family store

The Hobans may have lived at the northwest corner of 15th (Keystone Street) and 20th (Chestnut Avenue) streets in Hawley, where James Hoban conducted a store selling general merchandise and groceries.

The 1860 map of Hawley labels the building as “Hannigan & Hoban Store.”
McAndrew penned in 1927 that the store belonged to James Hoban and Thomas Hennigan; they were brothers-in-law.

Another reference states that Patrick’s brother James Hoban operated the mercantile as James Hoban & Co.

When Bridget’s brother, Thomas Hennigan died in 1870, she made a claim that he had been an equal partner with James Hoban and made a claim on the store. James Hoban died that same year.

The 1872 map refers to it as “Mrs. B.A. Hoban Store.”

Although 18th Street (Main Avenue) was only two blocks away, several small stores dotted Hawley’s side streets.

The store was only a block from St. Philomela’s Church, later known as Queen of Peace and occupying the same corner since 1853.

Priest, lawyer & a doctor

A previous story in this series detailed the life of their son Michael, who was destined for the priesthood. The present story surrounds his hometown and family.

Until he was 15, Michael attended private schools in Hawley, principally the one operated by Mr. and Mrs. John Rodman. He then attended St. Francis Xavier School in New York City for  a year, and Holy Cross College in Worchester, Mass., for another three years. About that time his father died, and Michael was back in Hawley settling up the mercantile business.

Michael was ordained to the priesthood in 1880, and as stated, became Bishop in 1896. Bishop Hoban officiated at the laying of the cornerstone for the new, brick church for St. Philomena’s Parish in Hawley, in July of 1900. The church is today known as B.V.M. Queen of Peace.

The Right Rev. Michael J. Hoban died November 13, 1926.
We have an image of his father, Patrick, likely thanks to Bishop Hoban. The Bishop was pictured in the 1906 publication, Prominent Men of Scranton & Vicinity… by Dwight J. Stoddard. While full of pictures and short accounts of men living at that time, a painting of Patrick Hoban was included, with his biographical information.

Patrick and Bridget had seven children: Michael J. (1853), Catherine (1854), Thomas P. (1856), Mary A. (1858), Charles J. (1860), Annie (1862) and Alice (1864).

In a biography written for Rev. Michael Hoban, he described his mother as “pious and practical” who nurtured the priestly vocation which she believed had been given to her first-born. His family was described as “harmonious for spiritual development.”

In addition to their son Michael becoming a priest, Thomas became a lawyer and Charles was a medical doctor.

The same book in 1906 pictured Thomas P. Hoban, who was born in Hawley, Feb. 1, 1857. He was educated at St. John’s College, New York and Fordham University (1879). He married Jane F. Donnely. They had a son, Thomas Linus. Thomas practiced law in Scranton and was a director of Lackawanna National Bank. Attorney Hoban was an expert in Church Law and decedents’ estates. He defended his brother, Rev. Hoban, in a real estate case involving church property. He died November 23, 1930, age 73.

Their younger brother, Dr. Charles James Hoban, was born in Hawley, November 4, 1860. He graduated from Pennsylvania Medical School in 1886 and entered practice the following year. In 1890 he moved to South Philadelphia. He was a practicing physician for 54 years.  Dr. Charles Hoban and his wife Ellen (Healy) were married in 1891. Their children included Dorothy, Rosalie, Eleanor, Charles and Catherine. Dr. Hoban lived until January 30, 1944 at the age of 83.

As of 1922, Mary, Alice and Anna were living in Atlantic City. Their sister Katherine had died in 1882. Another reference indicates that the three surviving daughters were unmarried at the time of their brother Bishop Michael Hoban’s death in 1926.

Patrick Hoban died on August 26, 1867 after a six month illness. Bridget lived until September 13, 1902; she died in Scranton where she was residing. Her son, Bishop Hoban, presided at High Mass. Nearly every priest in the diocese was in attendance.

Main sources:
History of Hawley, Pa. (1927) by M.J. McAndrew
Census records at
Consecration of the Rt. Rev. M. J. Hoban, D.D. (1922) edited by Thomas J. Comerford