An editorial about the naming of the borough of Frackville

For additional information, click here to read the Evening Herald, Frackville Centennial Edition, August 21, 1976, article, The facts -- how Frackville got its name.


Long after the actual 1876 incorporation of the borough of Frackville, a second version regarding the naming of our town arose in 1934. The first and well documented version attributes the borough's name to an official court decision. The second version attributes it to the toss of a coin. The supposed controversy between our founding families created at the legend's inception is unfortunate at best. However, the fostering and perpetuation of a town controversy is inappropriate today since efforts and energies should be directed toward improving the borough.

Clearly, it was not unusual for two adjoining settlements to have different names. But, at the time of incorporation, the two areas were joined to form one borough. If they had both agreed on one name, there was no problem; but, as Judge Pershing said in 1876, "The naming of a borough was the responsibility of the court." Later, George B. Karcher agreed, stating that "the fixing of the name is within the discretion of the court." At the end of the court session, an 1876 newspaper reported, "The court was unanimous on calling it Frackville."

In 1893, a biography of Samuel Haupt was listed in Samuel Wiley's "Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Schuylkill County" and does not mention any controversy. Although Rev. Miller ambiguously states in his 1904 history, "it was quite a contest when it came to fixing the name for the new borough," a 1916 biography of Daniel Frack included in the J.H. Beers History of Schuylkill County does not mention any controversy. Likewise, in 1917 Mrs. Trautman interviewed both Lenora Frack Meredith and Samuel Haupt and does not mention any controversy in her writing. All succeeding histories written by professionals -- Beers, Munsell, Wiley, Rupp, and Schalck -- state that Frackville was named after its founder, Daniel Frack, with no mention of a controversy.

In 1934, however, high school students in the county were asked to write on their individual areas, and the toss of the coin story was created. Although of some value, the volumes resulting from that project are used by historians primarily as a starting place with their having to do further research to authenticate information.

In 1976 as part of the Shenandoah Evening Herald "Old Frackville Tales" series, I published the 1876 court news article regarding the naming of Frackville and, after conferring with history professors at Penn State as well as a local teacher Mary Connelly, I went on record as accepting the court decision as the actual process by which Frackville was named.

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