While doing research on water turbines sometime during 2004, I searched the name Jonas Hotel, as several local people told me the old Jonas Hotel once had a water turbine in its basement. I later learned this was somewhat true, but there was never a turbine in the basement.
One of the items I found during my Internet searching was a short news article in the New York Times dated 1885. It reported a suicide that took place at the Jonas Hotel in Jonas Pa.
I wondered why the leading national newspaper at that time would report a suicide in a small town some 150 miles from New York City. I could not understand why the New York Times would mention this news, and I could not think of a reason that satisfied me.
It wasn’t until six years later I discovered why that article appeared in the New York Times.
In 2010 I received an email at this Web site from a man named Tom Held who had found my website while searching information on the town of Jonas, as my site contains old photographs of various locations in the Pocono Mountains, Jonas being one of the locations.
Tom Held wrote to tell me he had a large collection of photographs and historical items relating to the Jonas Hotel and the town of Jonas. We made arrangements to meet so I could view his material.
At our first meeting I was impressed by Tom’s collection. I came to learn his father had owned the Jonas Hotel for ten years, having purchased it from the original owners, the Snyder family, in 1950. Tom had spent ten years of his youth actually living in the Hotel.
Jonas Snyder had purchased the original Inn building and surrounding land in 1858 and later his family built the existing hotel in1901. The Snyder’s had saved letters, photographs, advertising etc. dating back to the 1860’s. Tom Held had the foresight to preserve these items after his father sold the Hotel in the 1960’s.
The Jonas Hotel began as a small “Inn” that was known “Sterner’s”, a rest stop for early travelers thru northeastern Pennsylvania. It was situated on a stage coach road that connected the southwestern end of the Pocono area with towns to the north as White Haven and cities of Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, the road is presently named State Highway 534.
In the early years this area was called New Mechanicsburg. During this time there was a town called Mechanicsburg south of Brodheadsville indicated on a map from the 1790’s, what may now be Saylorsburg. Perhaps that is why Jonas was called “New” Mechanicsville back then.
The names and plots on this map date to the 1790s, though the town of Brodheadsville was know as “Shafer’s” back then. The name Mary Carr on this map outlines her land Warrant from 1796; the outlined area now is the area of the “Stamford Heights” development and the area around the local park and the municipal building. Note the name of the town called Mechanicville located where present day Saylorsburg is situated.
Eventually because of the small Inn owned by Sterner and it being a local meeting place, the area came to be known as “Sterner’s”.
In 1899 Jonas Snyder was appointed postmaster of "Sterners" Monroe County, Pennsylvania. In 1906 the P.O. department notified them that “Sterner’s” name was already being used and they had to change the Post Office name. One of the names submitted was “Jonas” after Jonas Snyder who had recently died in 1905. That is how Jonas became the Post Office name.
The existing Jonas Hotel was built in 1901, with additions and modifications made over the years to the original structure.
When I had the chance to view the material Tom Held had collected I came to realize why the New York Times had published the article on the suicide that took place at the Jonas Hotel in 1885.
Among the papers that had been saved were a number of letters from various banking and Wall Street Brokerage firms requesting rooms for various hunting and vacationing groups who had found the Hotel and the Pocono Mountains a great location for their relaxation and sport. Many photos show hunting groups with rabbit, fowl, deer, fish, and bear posed in front of the hotel.
The automobile was a new mode of transportation back then and in the letters an automobile is referred to as a “machine” as in “we will be arriving by machine”!
Since many Wall Street businessmen knew of Jonas and the Hotel, the editors at the Times likely included the suicide report as a news item for those New York businessmen who usually vacationed or hunted there. This gives you an idea of the popularity of Jonas thru the years.
Also among the papers were orders for large amounts of Cigars. Why would this small out-of-the-way Hotel stock so many various cigars? The answer again is the Wall Street Businessmen who smoked them while vacationing.
The history of Jonas and of the Jonas Hotel, as compiled by Tom Held, can be found HERE.
I have decided to present just a small part of Mr. Held’s entire collection, which includes more that fifteen three-ringed binders of material.
To put it all on display would require much space and cover aspects that may not be of interest to most as there are many photos of the Snyder family members and family gatherings.
Tom Held has the largest collection of historical documents pertaining to Jonas and the Jonas Hotel that I know of and it is a debt of historical gratitude that he has taken the time and effort to preserve it for posterity.
I am presenting material and photos of events, letters, and advertising that I feel most visitors to this site may find of interest.
I hope you enjoy this excursion into the early time of Jonas and the Jonas Hotel thru the materials in the Thomas Held Collection.
A Special thanks to the former Hotel owners Mike Pandolfo and Al Cantiello, for allowing access to the Hotel and grounds.
The Jonas Hotel is now a home for Verterans who are homeless at this time. Its history as a site for weary travelers continues-LAR-2015