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Pohoqualine Fish Association
While researching deeds and mortgages for my report on this web site regarding "Stamford Heights" and "The Mills of Brodheadsville", I frequently came across the name John Price Wetherill. This name was always associated with deeds where McMichaels Creek traversed a landowner’s property.
Mr. Wetherill was buying the land or arranging lease agreements from the land owners for rights of access to the Creek and ten foot sections of land adjoining the Creek on either side. These property purchases' or leases, were being arranged by Mr. Wetherill for the use of the Pohoqualine Fish Association.
Portion of 1894 lease agreement for stream rights on property in Brodheadsville, Pa. showing J.P. Wetherill's name.
At that time I did not know much about the organization, but had heard of the quality of the water flowing in the Creek by most of the local people I met after settling in Brodheadsville in 1989. People said the water in the Creek was maintained at a high level of purity and the Creek was monitored almost daily to be sure no one was introducing pollutants, and that only members of the Fishing Club could fish in the section of the creek maintained by the association. In researching the Association, I learned these statements were in fact true by speaking with the Association's Stream Manager, Jim Hartzler.
From its conception, the Association had agreements with the land owners that they would not introduce any animal waste "manure, offal, etc." into the Creek and refuse would be kept a distance from the Creek bed. In today’s terms, this was one of the first "Green" agreements on record. The Association has maintained this high level of maintenance to this day.
The Creek is a natural beauty, and driving along route 715 is a scenic pleasure to see the Creek flowing alongside the road. Though local residents, not members of the Association, have complained and brought suits against the Association in the early days, for not being able to fish in the Creek, I feel the result of such restrictions and high standards of the Association, do we have such a natural pristine waterway flowing through this area, untarnished by development and pollution.
I found there was little information available about the Association, and my visits to their office on Route 715 in Mc Michaels usually found no one available to provide answers. It was only after receiving a letter from Mr. David Wood, a member of the Board of Directors of the Association, in regard to my research on the "Mills of Brodheadsville", did I begin to learn of the history of the Association and its founder, John Price Wetherill. Mr. Wood is a descendant of the Wetherill/Wood families, both families founders of prominent manufacturing firms in the 19th century.
Mr. Wood's letter in response to a series of questions I had asked of him:
Great Grandfather John Price Wetherill was an expert on mining, and developed an economical method for extracting zinc from the ore removed from mines in Palmerton, Pa. He became wealthy from this operation, and lived in Bethlehem, PA. He enjoyed trout fishing in his spare time, and often went to the McMichael’s Hotel to stay. The Hotel was owned by the Kresge family at that time, but the stream, of course, was always there. He decided to start a fishing club with a few of his family and friends who became regular guests of the Hotel during the summer months. They made an arrangement with the Hotel owner to have exclusive rights to what today we call the “club room” which was reserved for his fishing club. The Club was officially founded in 1894. The Kresge family continued to keep the Hotel open for the general public and act as hosts for the Club until Prohibition came, when they sold the Hotel, now the Clubhouse, to the Club. One of their family, Grover Kresge, stayed on to act as Club manager for many years after the sale. All during the early days of the Club, John Price Wetherill, as Club President, would buy farms along the stream, divide off the streambed and 10 feet on either side, then sell the property back to whoever wanted it. Over many decades, the Club eventually owned the length of approx. 7 miles of stream, as well as the headwaters area. The headwaters area was sold to the State of PA about thirty years ago and is now State Game Land located at the top of Hypsie Gap Road.
It was the Club’s posting of restrictions along the stream preventing non-members from fishing which caused the famous netting trial. John Price Wetherill used a dip net to retrieve the trout after having hooked them and played them to his feet. The tackle used was very light, as it must be to fool the wary trout, and it was impossible to lift the trout out of the water using only the thin leader, so the dip net was used only to lift the fish into the creel. However, some of the locals were angry with the restrictions on the general public fishing the stream, and filed a report that John Price Wetherill was “netting fish” which, of course, would have been a violation of the game laws, if true. He hired some top notch legal talent from Philadelphia to defend him on the charges, and there was a trial at which he was found not guilty.
John Price Wetherill had sons, but also two daughters, Alice and Florence (Floy). Both of them had their names attached to outdoor pavilions set up along the stream for the Club members to meet and enjoy lunch together. Camp Floy and Camp Alice were the names. Camp Floy was located on what today is stretch 7, and the original Camp Alice was along stretch 14, later relocated to stretch 21. Camp Floy fell into disuse and no longer exists, but the relocated Camp Alice is still in use. The reason for two outdoor pavilions was that in the days of travel by buckboard, the Club members each morning had to select whether to fish either the upper stream or the lower stream, and that would determine whether they used Camp Floy (upper stream) or Camp Alice (lower stream). Now, with automobile travel, only Camp Alice survives.
Florence (Floy) married my Grandfather, Grahame Wood. She taught him to fly-fish for trout, which he enjoyed greatly, and passed that love on to his daughters and sons, one of whom was my late father, David Wetherill Wood. Grahame’s brother, Richard (Dick) also became a member and a number of his descendants have been members. Since the early 1900s there has always been one or more members of the Wood family connected with the Club. One of the charms of the Club is that there are about seven or eight families whose members seem always to be members as the generations come and go.
David Wood's letter was certainly a help in my understanding of the Association, and gave me names to research, though his letter was very concise and a good synopsis overall.
I would like to present a brief history of the Association and its founder, as the Pohoqualine Fish Association has been a part of this areas history, and contributed directly to the preservation of beautiful McMichaels Creek.
POHOQUALINE FISH ASSOCIATION-JOHN PRICE WETHERILL-FOUNDER
Following are quotes regarding J.P. Wetherill from various sources found on Google Books.
"John Price Wetherill, eldest son of Samuel and Sarah Maria (Chattin) Wetherill, was born in Belleville, New York, November 13, 1844, and after studying in private schools preparatory to college entrance matriculated at the Polytechnic College of Philadelphia. In this institution he took civil and mining engineering courses and graduated with degrees in both, until 1881, being connected with the mining and' engineering department of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Company and the Philadelphia & Reading Iron and Coal Company, located at and working from Pottsville, Pennsylvania. In this year he, his brother, Samuel Price Wetherill, and Richard and August Heckscher, jointly purchased the Lehigh Zinc Works, at South Bethlehem, the concern founded by his father, and was manager of the works until the original company was absorbed by the New Jersey Zinc Company,(see photos below) becoming director and consulting engineer of the latter company, offices that he relinquished upon his retirement from business. A portion of these were subsequently sold to the Bethlehem Rolling Mills and Iron Company, the remainder continuing a part of the town of Wetherill, or Bethlehem South, as the place was called in the interval between 1858 and 1865."
"Among the new processes put into operation at the Lehigh Zinc Works, including the Wetherill furnace was the Wetherill magnetic concentrating process for the treatment of refractory ores, a process invented and patented by John Price Wetherill, who inherited a large portion of the mechanical genius that characterized his distinguished father. The patent of J. P. Wetherill, is dated March 3, 1896, patent No. 555,792 (application filed Feb. 10, 1896.) "The uncommonly short time between the dates of filing and issue of this patent show that it was distinctly considered a novelty by the examiners at Washington and probably was allowed without citation of references to previous inventions." It was a process for "separating various mineral and chemical substances, of such feeble magnetic permeability, that they have been heretofore generally considered as non-magnetic, from one another and from such accompaniments as are absolutely inert, by means of powerful and specially devised electro-magnets." Valuable not only because of its extreme practicality, but marking an epoch in metallurgical science, Mr. Wetherill's invention attracted wide notice and laudatory comment in scientific circles, and is minutely described in a paper by Professor H. B. C. Nitze, presented at the Pittsburgh meeting of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, in February 1896. Besides being published in the "Transactions" of the Society, it appeared in the "Journal of the Franklin Institute'' for April, 1897, appreciations of rare distinction.
Social, athletic, and patriotic societies claimed J. P. Wetherill as a member, and he belonged to the Union League, Rittenhouse, Philadelphia Country, Merion Cricket, Radnor Hunt, Corinthian Yacht, New York Yacht, Biscayne Bay Yacht, and Manufacturers' Clubs; was the organizer of the Pohoqualine Fishing Association, of Monroe county, Pennsylvania, of which he was for ten years president; a member of the Society of the Cincinnati, and of the Pennsylvania Society, Sons of the Revolution. Mr. Wetherill was a member of the Philadelphia Art Club, and it was his love of outdoor life that furnished him with the subjects upon which he performed some of the best of his work, his rural scenes and landscapes showing an exceptional talent and a faithful, sympathetic reproduction of localities in which he passed many pleasant hours."
"He married, January 20, 1869, Alice D. Cortright, born at Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, (Jim Thorp-LAR) January 1, 1847, daughter of Ira Cortright, a prominent coal operator of that section, by his wife, Margaret Sherry, and a descendant of Sebastian Van Kortright, of an ancient family of Flanders, who came to New Amsterdam in the ship "Brindle Cow," April 16, 1665, with his two sons, Michael and Jan, settling at Harlem."
Children of John Price and Alice D. (Cortright) Wetherill:
1. Margaret, born February 8, 1870, died October 21, 1870.2. Samuel, born May 10, 1871, died April 24, 1872. 3. Ira Cortright, born October 17, 1873, married Elizabeth Josephine Campbell, and has issue. 4. Anna, born February 13, 1876; married (first) William H. Addicks; (second) George C. Stout, M. D., having issue by her second marriage. 5. Alice, born March 20, 1878, died August 20, 1878. 6. Florence, born August 11, 1881. Married Graham Wood, and had issue. 7. John Price (4th), born April 18, 1883; president of the Wetherill Pneumatic Casting Company; married Catharine Hall. 8. William Chattin, born August 16, 1886. 9. Carl Augustus Heckscher, born October 15, 1889.
"Mr. John Price Wetherill, Third, died at his home, No. 2014 Walnut street, Philadelphia, November 9, 1906, after an illness lasting a year as the result of Bright's disease.* Mr. Wetherill was born in Belleville, N. Y., in 1843. After graduating from the Philadelphia Polytechnic College he entered the engineering department of the Philadelphia and Reading Coal & Iron Company in the Schuylkill region, and eventually became chief mining engineer of that company. This position he retained until 1880, when he organized the Lehigh Zinc Co., of South Bethlehem, of which he was general manager until the company was merged with the New Jersey Zinc Co. Of this latter company he was a director and consulting engineer until the time of his death. He is survived by a widow and six children."
* Bright's disease - also known as albuminuria, essential nephritis, kidney disease; a progressive, degenerative disease of the kidney characterized by dropsy of the upper and lower parts of the body; ranked high as a cause of death during the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries
The John Price Wetherill Medal
The John Price Wetherill Medal. —On April 3, 1917, the family of the late John Price Wetherill gave to The Franklin Institute a certain sum as the first contribution toward the establishment of a Fund for the promotion of research, to be known as " The John Price Wetherill Memorial Research Fund."
On June 10, 1925, the Board of Managers of The Franklin Institute, in accordance with the desires of the family of Mr. Wetherill, voted to set aside as much of this Fund as might be necessary, for the design and production of a silver medal, to be known as " The John Price Wetherill Medal," and to be awarded for discovery or invention in Physical Sciences, or for new and important combinations of principles or methods already known.
The obverse of the medal bears a profile relief of Mr. Wetherill and is inscribed around the margin—" The John Price Wetherill Medal 1925."
The reverse bears the legend: "Awarded by The Franklin Institute to for discovery, invention, or development in the physical sciences."'
IMAGES FROM THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY BOOKLET OF THE POHOQUALINE FISH ASSOCIATION
John Price Wetherill-Founder
Mrs. J.P. Wetherill
Above 16 historic photographs from booklet courtesy-Pohoqualine Fish Association, Jim Hartzler, and David Wood. Last two photographs courtesy Thomas Held Collection.
VIEWS AROUND THE CLUB HOUSE
A-1768 Original parchment deed from Thomas and Richard Penn for 250 acres b-Section of Stream Map showing section markers. C-Arrow and Spear heads found along the Creek.
WETHERILL MAGNETIC ZINC SEPARATOR-INVENTED BY J.P. WETHERILL
NEW JERSEY ZINK
Abandoned New Jersey Zinc Plant-1898, Palmerton Pa. J. P. Wetherill was once a director and consulting engineer for New Jersey Zinc.
Samuel Wetherill, J.P. Wetherill's father, founded Lehigh Valley Zinc, later purchased by New Jersey Zinc.
Note how the zinc dust after many years of processing, completely defoliated the mountains in the immediate vicinity. Environmental laws since passed are attempting to re-forest the mountains.