HAWLEY - John A. Haggerty, a surveyor for P.P.& L. in the early days of Lake Wallenpaupack, served on Hawley Borough Council for more than 20 years. During his time in elected office in mid-20th century, his town saw many changes.

HAWLEY - John A. Haggerty, a surveyor for P.P.& L. in the early days of Lake Wallenpaupack, served on Hawley Borough Council for more than 20 years. During his time in elected office  in mid-20th century, his town saw many changes.

Haggerty was born September 20, 1903 in Hazleton, Pa., to Frank and Julia (McFadden) Haggerty. He graduated from Girard College in Philadelphia where he had studied civil engineering.

P.P.& L.

In 1922, Pennsylvania New York & New Jersey Power Company received its permit to construct a hydroelectric plant in Hawley at the base of the Paupack Falls where it meets the Lackawaxen River. If the power plant had been built there, the scene at the Eddy section of Hawley and Cromwelltown would be dramatically different today.

The company had been bought out by Pennsylvania Power & Light Inc. (P.P.& L.) which altered the plan and put the power facility at Kimbles, allowing greater water pressure for the turbines. A massive flow line, over three miles long, was needed to connect to the dam that would be built at Wilsonville.

A vast new lake would be formed, a bold project that had been proposed over 25 years earlier, a project that would transform the region’s way of life.

P.P.& L., through its subsidiary, Phoenix Utility Company, built the dam between 1924 and 1926.

Among the vast number of workers was John A. Haggerty, who employed his skills as an engineer and surveyor.

He is not listed in the 1925 Hawley, Pa. street directory but in 1927, he was listed as living at 330 Main Avenue and was a civil engineer for the power company.

It is possible that he had been boarded by the company at least part of the time. Phoenix erected four small “villages” of workers’ cottages near the dam.

The 1961 street directory lists Haggerty as a P.P.&L. Service Technician.

In later years, he worked in his home town, Hazleton, for P.P. & L. He and his wife Emma had an apartment there and came back to Hawley on weekends, his great niece Patricia Bartleson, recalled.

Family life

Also living in Hawley was the Roloson family.  At some point in the 1930’s, John Haggarty was wed to Emma A. Roloson. They never had children.

Emma’s parents were Lafayette and Catherine Roloson. They had six children, Bertha, Cora, Lillian, Emma, Lawrence and Janet.

Their mother was a widow for many years, and lived at 496 Welwood Avenue. Her husband had built it, and Catherine ran it as Roloson’s Tourist Home. She raised her children there. The Tourist Home sat next door to Pine’s Tavern (on the right as seen from Route 6) but the home burned down in later years.

Emma Roloson was listed in 1931 as a weaver.

Hawley native Eugene “Art” Glantz recalls that in 1945 he went to work at Arrow Throwing Company while still in high school. He said he remembers Emma Haggerty working there. “She was a weaver and I was a bobbin boy for 35 cents an hour,” he said.
John and Emma Haggerty lived with her mother at the Tourist Home at first, before moving to 216 Penn Avenue.

“I recall that when they went to the movies, at the Ritz, they always sat in the same seats, three or four rows down on the left side,” Glantz said. “What a thing to remember!”
Sali Rose recalled about John and Emma Haggerty, “…They loved to grow roses. They would invite me to sit on their porch [on Penn Avenue] and drink lemonade. And when I tried to burn leaves along the curb, as we did back then, they would give me a good talkin’ to.”

Emma’s sister Lillian Plum lived around the corner at 510 River Street, said Lillian’s granddaughter Patricia Bartleson who lives there now. Bartelson is currently serving on Borough Council, just like her great uncle. She said her Aunt Emma and her grandmother talked on the phone every day.  Emma was also very close with her sister Janet Schweighofer, who was always known as “Nettie.”

John Haggerty had a nickname, “Hack.” Bartelson said that is how she always knew him.
She remembered sitting on the Haggertys’ porch where Aunt Emma would serve milk and cookies.

John was a member of St. Philomena’s (Queen of Peace) Catholic Church.


For over 20 years, beginning in the 1940’s, Haggerty served on Borough Council. He was Council President for many years. He was a Republican.

The Pike Wayne Eagle took a picture of Council for the front page, January 4,1962 edition, showing the Mayor Harry N. Goodman, who had just taken the oath of office at the re-organizational meeting. He was being congratulated by outgoing mayor (burgess), Michael T. Peirche. Haggerty, who was reappointed as president, stood nearby with fellow councilmen who were also sworn in: Matthew Finan, vice-president and newly elected; Thomas Conway and Henry Vasisko. Thomas Murray Jr., councilman-elect, was absent.

Busy time

Among the items making news in Hawley during his tenure on Council:

Hawley cleans up after the great flood May 23, 1942

The Lake Wallenpaupack region sees a boom in development and tourism following the war; the Tudor Manor (Settlers Inn) was finally finished right after World War II, to serve the expected influx of vacationers.

Dial service came to Hawley on Friday, June 29, 1951. Mayor Peirche made the very first call, to President Haggerty. The new phone system cost $166,000.

On October 18, 1952, Borough Hall, along with the attached fire station and jail, and two nearby houses, burned down. Borough Hall was located at the time, on Spring Street facing up Main Avenue. Borough Council took refuge at the American Legion Post 311 on Church Street, where meetings were held until the current borough hall was ready in 1964.

A devastating flood struck Hawley in August 18, 1955, leaving two dead and much damage in the Middle Creek and Lackawaxen River corridors.  Hawley finally undertook a massive flood mitigation project, between 1958 and 1961. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the earthen flood levee along the river and a concrete spillway on Middle Creek. The Middle Creek Bridge,which fell in the 1955 flood, was replaced.

The Erie Wyoming Division discontinued rail service between Hawley and Scranton in 1961.

Haggerty left Council prior to the new borough hall opening in 1964 across from Bingham Park, in the former Monaghan Garage.

John A. Haggerty was 75 when he died at home following an illness, on October 18, 1978.  Pat Bartleson’s husband Stanley would mow Aunt Emma’s lawn and otherwise assist her after Hack had died.

Emma Haggerty lived till about 1997. They were both laid to rest at Walnut Grove Cemetery.

Their impact on their community and descendants, live on and like their fellow Hawley area citizens, helped form the next generation and the life we live today.

Main Sources:
Wallenpaupack Historical Society newspaper archives
Wallenpaupack, published Nov. 2001
Anecdotes shared by people who knew the Haggertys