What's in a name?
Frackville is named after the Frack family.
Balliet street is named after the Balliet family.
Lehigh avenue is named after Lehigh Council where Mary Balliet was born.


The facts -- how Frackville got its name

(Evening Herald, Frackville Centennial Edition, August 21, 1976)

Webster defines legend as an unauthentic story, especially one handed down by tradition from early times and popularly regarded as historical though not verifiable.

For many years the legend of how Frackville was named has been written and handed down from generation to generation. Quote: "When the time came for the incorporation of the Borough, there was much discussion as to its name. Mr. Frack desired it to be called Frackville, and Mr. Haupt wished it to be called Planeville. The discussion continued until the time when the town wished to have a post office. The government refused to provide a post office until a name had been given to the town. Consequently, a decision had to be made. Mr. Frack and Mr. Haupt were in a tavern one evening, and they decided to toss a coin to settle the question. Mr. Frack won, and so the borough bears the name Frackville." That is a legend.

Webster defines fact as what has actually happened or is the case; truth attested by direct observation or authentic testimony.

These are the facts:

On November 22, 1875, a group of 190 residents of the area known as Frackville signed a petition to be incorporated into a borough to be named Frackville. This petition was headed by Daniel Frack, the first resident of this area, who owned 166 acres of land east of Birch Street. This petition was one day short of the required thirty days by law to be advertised before being presented at the January Sessions of the Grand Jury.

On January 3, 1876, a group of 147 residents of the area known as Mountain City signed and presented a petition to the court in Pottsville to be incorporated into a borough and to be named Mountain City. This petition and court records of this period cannot be located, but it is presumed to be headed by Samuel Haupt. When Mr. Haupt first moved to this area, he called his section Planeville, and it was so called until 1874 when he changed the name to Mountain City. This group was represented by Attorney Little.

When the Grand Jury saw both petitions, they and Judges Pershing and Green realized that all of the residents living in the Frackville-Mountain City area wanted to be incorporated -- but a difference developed as to the name.

In 1875, Pottsville, a borough built on seven "mountains," was often referred to as the "mountain City," and one of the banks was called "The Mountain City Bank of Pottsville" in addition to several lodges using the name Mountain City.

Judge Pershing felt that the naming of a borough was the responsibility of the Court and, because several businesses in Pottsville were already known as Mountain City, it would be confusing to name the proposed area "Mountain City." He felt that the area was known as Frackville for several years and should be so named!

An anonymous letter sent to Judge Pershing, probably from a resident of the Frackville-Mountain City area mentioned that a town should not be named after a man who is still living, and Daniel Frack was still living in Frackville. In Ohio, a town named in honor of William W. Belknap, who was Secretary of War under General Grant, was in the process of changing its name because "Mr. Belknap had accepted bribes and short changed the Indians -- using the money for his two wives who were very extravagant. He resigned before the Senate could impeach him.

Regardless of any legend, we now know Frackville was named by Daniel Frack, and this name was upheld by the court.

Here is the Grand Jury report of January 8, 1876. Resolved: That we recommend to consolidate Frackville and Mountain City with the continuous territory into a borough under the name and title of the Borough of Frackville.

Here are several newspaper clippings taken from the newspapers one hundred years ago.

Daily Miners Journal, April 4, 1876

A petition was presented to the Grand Jury at the January Sessions, 1876, from a number of residents of Frackville, asking for the incorporation of that place into a borough under the name of Mountain City. Another party who also desired the place to be incorporated, but who desired the present name to be retained, got up a petition to that effect, but as they failed to comply with the law enforcing advertisement beforehand, they could not present their petition to the Grand Jury. They did, however, protest against the name of Mountain City and to such a purpose that the Grand Jury recommended the incorporation of the place under its present name.

The matter was then in the hands of the Court, where it has been ever since. It is contended by the Frackville party that the name which has been associated with the place for so many years should be retained. Beside the name Mt. City has been for years commonly applied to Pottsville. A number of its institutions bear that name as for instance The Mountain City Banking Company. The opposition of the Frackville party seems to have nettled the original petitioners, for yesterday they endeavored through their attorney, Mr. C.Little, to execute a flank movement. Mr. Little asked the court to make the following order:

In the Court of Quarter Sessions of Schuylkill County:

      In the matter of a petition for the incorporation of a borough, to be called Mountain City, presented to the Grand Jury at the January sessions of 1876.

And now, to wit, April 3, 1876, on motion of the petitioners, the Court grant leave to withdraw the petition above referred to."

The Court at first granted the order, but Mr. George B. Kaercher and Mr. Brumm for the Frackville party objected that the Court had no right to grant it. After the Grand Jury had passed on the matter, they claimed the Court only had to fix the name. The Judges seemed to think otherwise, but consented to hold the matter over until next Monday, the parties to cite authorities meanwhile.

Daily Miners Journal April 11, 1876

Yesterday Mr. Charles N. Brumm called on the matter of the incorporation of a borough, to be named either Frackville or Mountain City. He said the original petition was presented on the 22nd of November, 1875, asking for the incorporation under the name of Frackville, and was signed by 190 names. There was presented, on the 3rd of January, 1876, a petition signed by 147 names asking that it be styled Mountain City. This was sent before the Grand Jury and they returned it to Court with a recommendation.

Both petitions were published, but the first was one day short of the thirty days fixed by law. The consequences was that a remonstrance was gotten up and signed by 100 citizens of Frackville, to which was attached an affidavit by seventeen of them, in which they alleged that they signed the latter petition under a misapprehension of the facts.

Mr. Little represented the petition presented on the 3rd of January, and asks now to withdraw it. To this the original petitioners object, and in support have a petition signed by 80 of the 147 signers to that petition, in which they set out that they have not authorized its withdrawal. To this there is an affidavit as to its truth and correctness. They also have a general petition in which it is stated that it is the unanimous desire that the place should be incorporated, that the only difference between the parties is that of the name.

This is signed by two hundred and forty-two citizens, eighty of whom signed the petition of the 3rd of January. This matter of the incorporation was talked of long before anything was done and a meeting was called to discuss it. The question of incorporation was decided upon and the name of Frackville proposed, discussed and almost unanimously decided upon.

All the parties were present and took their chances, and the petitioners had no idea that any one was dissatisfied until they saw the notice in the paper. Under these circumstances with the eighty signers objecting to the withdrawal of their petition, Mr. Little who presented it cannot withdraw it.

In reply Mr. Little said his side would like to have something to say because they will have to foot the bill. There is nothing in this application or contest but the matter of discretion -- whether or not parties presenting petitions shall have the right to withdraw them.

Judge Green suggested that the only difference was the matter of the name. Mr. Little thought not. He said he did not know what his clients could do in the matter of getting up petitions. These people seem to sign everything promiscuously and he didn't know but what his clients could get these eighty signers to sign a remonstrance for them. The petition he presented was in bona fide earnest, but these gentlemen fought it. When the time came they fell asleep and did not get before the Grand Jury in that shape. He said he did not know how many persons he represented in this matter. He never consulted one tenth of them. The parties he spoke to about presenting the petition now asked him to have it withdrawn. This had always been the practice and he did not see why it should be otherwise in this case.

George B. Kaercher suggested that the petition of Mr. Little was irregular. It contained the name proposed, whereas it should only contain the boundaries. The fixing of the name is within the discretion of the court. He spoke of the confusion which would follow naming the borough Mountain City. There is a bank here of that name and several lodges (meaning Pottsville).

Judge Pershing said he had a consultation with his colleagues, and they were unanimous on incorporating the borough. The court does not think they ought to permit the withdrawal of the petition. They think the wishes of the people and the Grand Jury should be carried out in this matter. It would be a misnomer to call a borough Mountain City, and the unanimous resolve of the bench is to name the place Frackville. The only objections he had was form an anonymous letter, in which it was stated that a town in Iowa had been called Belknap, and the people were about having it changed. That no town should be named after a man who is living, and it ended by saying that "old Frack is still living, a fact which he had not known before." However, the Court was unanimous on calling it Frackville. The petition for time and place will lay over until next Monday.

Content Copyright © 2015 Lorraine Stanton and Deborah Stanton Janov.
Use of this site constitutes your acceptance of these Conditions of Use.