Morveldin Plum made his mark in Hawley, Pa. as a carpenter, builder and part of Hawley's original borough council. He also bore witness as a child, to an historic event, the running of the Stourbridge Lion, the first commercial railroad locomotive to operate in the Americas.
HAWLEY - Morveldin Plum made his mark in Hawley, Pa. as a carpenter, builder and part of Hawley’s original borough council. He also bore witness as a child, to an historic event, the running of the Stourbridge Lion, the first commercial railroad locomotive to operate in the Americas.
How to spell his name is a good question. Researching information about this active member of the Hawley community found no less than four ways:
“Morveldin,” however, is written in stone- on his grave marker in Hawley. This spelling was also found in a legal notice in a local newspaper, from 1880. We shall go with Morveldin, since he is of course, no longer with us to ask.
He was born in Montrose, Pennsylvania on May 6, 1822 to John Hiram (referred to as Hiram) and Phoebe (Tyler) Plum. They moved to Honesdale in 1828, when he was five. The community, first known as Dyberry Forks, was just getting started as the new company town for the Delaware & Hudson (D&H) Canal Company. The D&H opened their canal that year, with its terminus at Honesdale. The 108 mile canal was linked with a newly built gravity railroad from the coal mining area around Carbondale.
Hiram Plum was the first or one of the first carpenters in Honesdale.
A New York native, he had come from Connecticut before settling in Montrose. He came to Honesdale to build the portion of the D&H gravity railroad at this end. In 1828 he laid the first mile of track, the very route the Stourbridge Lion would be using the next year.
Known as “Captain Plum,” the elder Mr. Plum was credited with building “nearly all of the first and best houses” in town. With Solomon West, in 1851 Plum obtained a patent for a machine for making tool handles. This was one of a few of his innovations. He had a carpentry shop at what we know as 6th and Church Streets (NW corner).
The Stourbridge Lion arrived on a canal boat in late July, 1829.
Hiram Plum, with several others, were paid for materials and labor to raise the heavy locomotive from the canal boat and place it on the adjacent tracks.
On August 8, a crowd gathered to watch the trial run as Horatio Allen operated the locomotive from Honesdale to Seelyville (a mile away) and back. Among them was seven year old Mordelvin Plum. His obituary many years later stated that he was thought to be the last person alive to have witnessed the trial run of the locomotive, an experiment by the D&H to see if the coal cars could be brought back to the mines by a powered train, or if stationary engines were necessary. The latter proved to be the case.
It is interesting to note that the locomotive was brought from New York and carried on a D&H canal boat to Honesdale, passing through the hamlet of Paupack Eddy- later known as Hawley.
Captain Plum died in about 1858, at the age of 70.
PCC gravity project
Morveldin learned the carpentry trade from his father.
His wife-to-be was Jane Miller, of Wilkes-Barre; she was born September 9, 1820. They were wed on May 10, 1843.
On February 14, 1848, he relocated to Hawley, where he followed his trade and soon became employed by the Pennsylvania Coal Company (PCC). The PCC was building its own gravity rail system to bring coal to Hawley to transfer onto waiting canal boats. At this time, Hawley was quickly expanding and was in a great need for carpenters and builders.
In 1849 he became superintendent over the construction of the PCC’s 47-mile gravity railroad.
The Census for 1850 for Palmyra Township (which included Hawley) lists him as “Marveldam” Plum, age 28; Jane was 30; with them was Marcy Plum, 7; Amanda Plum, 3; and three other persons. Mr. Plum was listed as a carpenter.
When the Methodist Episcopal Church was to be built in 1851, Morveldin Plum received the contract. The cost was $800.00. Although the house of worship has gone through several changes, the church that Plum built is still at the corner of Church Street and Maple Avenue, and known as the Hawley United Methodist Church.
The trustees furnished the material. The cornerstone was laid in 1851, and the church was ready for its dedication ceremony on September 18, 1853. Rev. Asa Brooks was pastor.
The corner lot for the church was contributed by the PCC. The lot next to it on Maple Avenue was also provided. At this location, where the Methodists have since erected the Great Hall, Plum constructed the parsonage in 1859. The cost was $835.00.
Life in Hawley
Morveldin Plum served as Justice of the Peace, as shown on the 1860 Hawley map. He was listed as a carpenter and joiner. They lived on what we know as Prospect Street, on the northeast corner with Ridge Avenue. The address today is 201 Prospect Street. A separate carpenter shop stood right in back, on the corner of Highland and Ridge.
A school house was located a half block up Prospect Street, where undoubtedly the Plum children learned their “Three Rs.”
He was called to the draft during the Civil War, in September 1864, although no more information was found of any military service.
The 1870 Census shows “Morveldum” Plum still working as a carpenter in Hawley; his wife Jane kept house. Their children were Charles, 18 and Henry, 16, who were both carpenter apprentices; Herbert, age 9, who was in school, and Belle, 13, who was at home.
Like many men of social stature, Plum was active in a number of local fraternal organizations. He started the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.), Howard Lodge #79 in Honesdale, in 1849. A short time later he held form Wangum Lodge #448 I.O.O.F. in Hawley. He was a charter member at Wangum and their first Noble Grand.
Plum was a member of the Hawley Lodge, No. 305, Free and Accepted Masons (F. & A.M.). This fraternity, one of many located in Hawley, was set up in 1857. Plum was elected as a trustee on December 27, 1884 for the following year. William L. Overton and William D. Curtis were also trustees. Meetings were held in the Odd Fellows’ building on Main Avenue.
In 1854, he was listed as a delegate for the Democratic Party in Palmyra Township (which then included Hawley).
A newspaper account in February 1881 listed “Morvelden” Plum as being paid by the County of Wayne, $90 for assessing and $50 for registering, representing Palmyra Township.
When Hawley Borough was created and the first election held in February 1884, Morveldin Plum was one of the first councilmen. He helped frame the first ordinances and was on the streets and roads committee.
Jane lived until June 8, 1897. A news brief in the Wayne County Herald announcing her death commented, “she was a very estimable woman.” She had a total of three sons and two daughters.
Morveldin was residing in their Prospect Street home with his daughter Augusta Simons and her husband Mordecia in 1900, in Hawley. Morveldin was 78, and still employed as a carpenter, working for the railroad. Son-in-law Mordecia Simons was 62, and was a house carpenter.
Morveldin Plum died August 22, 1904 after an illness. He was 82. The pastor of the Hawley Methodist church, Rev. S.C. Simpkins, had charge of the services. Plum was laid to rest at Walnut Grove Cemetery, Hawley.
The Plum family has long standing in the Hawley community. Separate stories in this series discussed at length Morveldin and Jane’s son Herbert, who became a livery owner, and his brother, Dr. Henry A. Plum, a prominent physician. The livery owner’s granddaughter, Blanche Plum, was also featured, more recently.
History of Hawley, Pa. (1927) by Michael J. McAndrew
History of the Wyoming Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church
Vintage newspapers at Fultonhistory.com
Census and other records at Ancestry.com (Hawley Public Library)