No less than they are today, a hundred years ago and more, business groups in the Honesdale and Hawley region were actively promoting the region for new industry, advancing economic interests and prospects for jobs. We were riding a wave of the Industrial Age.
HONESDALE & HAWLEY – No less than they are today, a hundred years ago and more, business groups in the Honesdale and Hawley region were actively promoting the region for new industry, advancing economic interests and prospects for jobs. We were riding a wave of the Industrial Age. Also like today, while some prospects bore fruit, others didn’t pan out. One that didn’t at least was a very sweet idea while it lasted!
A cocoa factory was coming, Wayne County newspapers in 1906 were reporting.
A site was being explored that winter for a new plant of a fine cocoa and chocolate manufacturer from Holland. The firm was looking to expand to the U.S. market.
While Honesdale was expecting the plant to be set up there, Hawley business people were competing for the company’s attention.
Offered site at Cromwelltown
A small article in the Tri-States Union (Port Jervis) in January 1906, was headlined, “Hawley May Get Honesdale’s Coveted Cocoa Factory.”
The article stated that a better location seems to have been found about a quarter mile below the Hawley Depot, 14 acres in size. The site has been offered free to the company. An “enterprising businessman” of Hawley, Al Killam, was said to have made the offer.
A big advantage the Hawley site provided was that it was right along the tracks. It did away with the need for a $50,000 railroad bridge over the Lackawaxen River that was going to be needed to reach the site looked at in East Honesdale.
“The Honesdale Board of Trade and Honesdale people better be up and doing or Hawley, little Hawley on the Lackawaxen, whose waters co-mingle there with the historic Wallenpaupack falls will steal a march on us and at the same time steal our cocoa factory,” the Wayne County Herald warned, in a February 1, 1906 article.
The secretary for the new American branch of the chocolate factory, Ferdinand Muckley of Scranton, along with Baron Adrian Von der Werk, president of the Dutch firm, called on businessmen in Hawley to evaluate sites along the Erie railroad. The Erie was interested in having it placed where a railroad switch could be built at the least expense.
It appears that the proposed site was to be in Cromwelltown, on the Pike County side of the Eddy section of Hawley, where the railroad tracks crossed. This site is only a quarter of a mile from the Erie railroad depot that sat near the corner of Paupack Street and Welwood Avenue.
The 1900 census listed Alfred K. Killam as a farm manager, living in Palmyra Township, Pike County. He may have lived in Cromwelltown at the time, and had farmland on the large level area along the tracks now used for homes and Eastern Propane.
In 1920, he was an agent for the Paupack Electric Company. He and his wife Eliza lived at 528 Academy St., Hawley.
The site in East Honesdale, however, won the day. The location was described as “the old glass factory site” which would seem to point to the Tracyville Glass Works which operated on the Carley Brook Falls, near the corner of Willow Avenue (Route 6) and Tryon Street. The glass factory closed in 1902.
The tracks are on the opposite side of the Lackawaxen; the present rail yard is found there, at the Brown Street crossing. If the factory needed a rail spur, a trestle would have been required. Otherwise, wagons or trucks could have shuttled between the plant and the railroad.
Honesdale Post Office was considering the placement of a sub-station at East Honesdale once the cocoa plant was completed.
The Herald reported in the July 12, 1906 edition that the cocoa factory was definitely coming to East Honesdale. Henry Fegster of Scranton was in Honesdale the Friday prior concerning the project. Fegster was expected to be the superintendent of the American branch of the cocoa and chocolate enterprise of F. Korff & Co., of Amsterdam, Holland. Fegster told the Herald paper that East Honesdale had been chosen over another location in Hoboken, NJ.
That Saturday, Fegster and Muckley- the latter the secretary of the American branch, sailed from New York to visit the firm in Amsterdam. They went to obtain the machinery for the plant in East Honesdale. They were due back by August 1st, and were then planning to hire a construction crew.
Building plans went through several revisions. Finally, a building twice as large as first expected, was planned. A contract was to be let as soon as Von der Wek returned from Holland. The 92 by 220 foot building was to be four stories high in center. The wings would be three stories. The facility, built of concrete, was to cost $75,000, and the equipment was valued at $50,000. As many 100 workers would be needed, mostly men and boys. They were not, however, expected to be local. Most of the workers were to be brought over from Holland.
Muckley disposed of enough bonds to fund the construction, which was expected to begin in a month.
The American Branch was organized under the state of New Jersey, with capital of $400,000 and a bond issue of $150,000. Officers of the branch were Von der Werk, President; E. C. Mumford, Vice-president; Charles J. Smith, Treasurer; Muckley, Secretary. Other directors were Dr. O. H. Van der Hoogt, New York City; William F. Riefler and W. H. McGreevey.
Muckley had set up an office next to the factory site.
Cocoa and chocolate specialties were to be made here.
Who they were
F. Korff & Co. was established in 1811 by space merchant Frederick Korff. As of 1907, they had plants in Amsterdam and Vienna. The company was importing annually to the United States about 500,000 pounds of cocoa in bulk, besides vast amounts of chocolate, cocoa butter, etc. In 1978 the company became the property of General Cocoa Company Holland. In 1986 it was taken over by the American company, Cargill.
Ferdinand Muckley was born in Verden, Hanover, Germany, Nov. 22, 1870. He emigrated in 1890 and became a citizen three years later. He worked as a painter in Scranton. On Aug. 12, 1897 he was wed to Wilhelma Albrecht. They made their home at 835 Adler Street. He also worked as an insurance agent. In addition to F. Kroff & Co., Muckley was a broker and promoter, and was associated with a telegraph company and an embroidery manufacturer. A news item from 1905 said that Muckley was a backer of a new telegraph system being developed by a local priest, Father Jozef Murgas of Wilkes-Barre.
Unfortunately it appears that the cocoa factory was never built. Little information has been located about the project’s demise.
The Scranton Truth reported on January 18, 1907, that F. Korff & Co. had recorded a deed for a new cocoa factory in Scranton, alongside the Laurel Line trolley system. About 12-1/2 acres had been secured; the new firm promised 200 jobs.
The article made no mention of the Honesdale plant, or of Muckley.
A news brief from March 1909 stated, “Ferdinand Muckley of Scranton, who will be remembered as the energetic though unsuccessful promoter of the proposed cocoa factory at East Honesdale, has filed a petition for bankruptcy. His liabilities are placed at $4,174. He owns real estate in Scranton which was seized to satisfy claims of the New York Savings and Loan Association and Paul Heinrich.”
A listing has also been found for F. Korff & Co., of New Jersey, stating that the charter was made void in 1909 for nonpayment of taxes for three years. A legal notice was published in The Honesdale Citizenm dated Dec. 17, 1910, announcing to creditors of F. Korff & Company of the Borough of Honesdale, that the firm had been adjudged bankrupt. A trustee’s sale was set for April 10, 1911 for the real estate the company held in Honesdale.
It appears that Muckley and his wife relocated to Easton, PA by 1910 where he was a merchant. Muckley was an incorporator of a new silk mill in the Easton area.
Although not certain this was the same individual, a record shows that there was a Ferdinand Muckley, who was born in 1870, died in 1918 in Ohio, age 47 or 48. He was laid to rest in Lorain, Ohio.
Plans for the cocoa factory came during a bustling time with many projects underway or forecasted, which followed the closure of the D&H Canal in 1898. One of these was a trolley line which was to connect Honesdale and Hawley, making use of the former D&H Canal towpath. The project actually started with a track being laid down the middle of Main Street, Honesdale. The idea was abandoned in time for Honesdale’s main thoroughfare to be paved with brick in 1914.
Another project earnestly sought during this period was a hydroelectric plant, making power from the waters of a lake to be formed known as Wallenpaupack. That idea worked.