Frack and Balliet families were Frackville's pioneers

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

portrait of Daniel Frack

Daniel Frack

The first member of the Frack family in America is presumed to be a Hessian Mercenary Soldier who fought in the Revolutionary War. England did not have sufficient troops to fight in America so they paid trained soldiers to fight for them. Approximately 29,000 German troops comprised one third of the British fighting force. The Hessians distinguished themselves in the Battle of Long Island, Fort Washington, Brandywine, White Plains, Newport, and Charleston, but they were defeated at the Battle of Trenton. After the war only about 17,000 returned to Germany. Many of the others settled in the United States and Canada.

Land was granted to all American soldiers who fought in this war and the 12,000 mercenary soldiers who chose to settle in America acquired the easily accessible land.

Two Hessian brothers were of this group. One chose to settle in Ohio, and the other, Michael Frack, father of Daniel Frack, the founder of Frackville, settled in Northampton County, Pennsylvania.

Daniel Frack, for whom our town has been named, was born September 23, 1803 in Northampton County. He was the eldest son of Michael and Hannah Ruch Frack who were the parents of eight children, four sons and four daughters. The only schooling he had was after he was twenty-one years old, when he attended a three month course at a small county school. He was a young boy when his family settled in Lehigh County in 1810 and worked on his father's farm near Ironton.

In 1828, he became interested in the hotel business and conducted a hotel in Ruchville until 1832 when he moved his family to St. Clair where he conducted a hotel for twenty years. In 1836, he and Michael Seltzer, under the name of Seltzer and Frack, started a powder mill at St. Clair for the manufacture of blasting powder. This was the first mill built north of Pottsville.

In 1838, he operated a colliery at Wadesville with his partners, Daniel Schaeffer and Frederick Frey under the name of Frack, Schaeffer and Company. He also kept a general store at St. Clair during this time. In 1849, he bought a tract of 166 acres of land from James C. Stephens, part of which is now included in the borough of Frackville, and moved his family there in the year 1852. The only building was a sawmill which Mr. Frack converted into a dwelling and hotel which he conducted until 1861. He then sectioned the land into lots and these were located between Balliet and Nice Streets. He engaged in farming for a few years and retired in 1861.

The Daniel Frack Hotel was built in 1852, "on the road from Catawissa to the Centre turnpike." These buildings were later demolished. This would have been on the site of the Miller Service Station on North Lehigh Avenue.

In 1861 Mr. Frack built "a large mansion and the hotel passed into the hands of another proprietor." This home is located at 119-121 North Balliet Street and owned by the Mary Kehler estates.

Mr. Frack was an elder and trustee of the Zion German Lutheran Church in town. On August 21, 1825, he married Mary M. Balliet who was born August 2, 1803. She was the daughter of Joseph and Margaretta (Burger) Balliet, and died January 23, 1886. They had three children: Leonora, born October 26, 1828, who married John S. Meredith; Samuel born in North Whitehall Township on July 22, 1832, who married Mary Harriet Welker of Oil City; and Daniel B. born in St. Clair on March 13, 1842 who married Elisabeth Seitzinger and after her death married her sister, Sarah A. Seitzinger.

A man of enterprise, energy and progressive nature, he had a long and successful business career in Schuylkill County, and in the pursuit of his interests also gave valuable assistance to the advancement of the community wherever he was situated. His activities during almost forty years were centered in Frackville, where traces of his influence may still be found.

Daniel Frack died November 7, 1890.

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