Located in the anthracite coal region in eastern PA, Pottsville, the county seat of Schuylkill County, is neighbored by many boroughs, villages and "Patches" that spot the mountains and valleys.
This region is rich in history, culture and hard work. The mountains provide not only power-giving resources but gorgeous views, sanctuaries for migrating raptors, fly-fishing, biking, hiking, nature gawking and big and small critters that often visit the town folk! The valleys provide space for agriculture, especially Christmas trees, fresh milk (and ice-cream), and wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables.
People came from all over to work the mines and to farm the fields. Not only did the Pennsylvania Dutch settle but so did the Irish, German, Italian, African, Slovakian, Lithuanian, Dutch and Russian.
In her geography book, Charlotte Mason, spoke of the amazement a colleague felt when traveling through the anthracite region and Pottsville during the early 1900’s. The air was clean, quite unlike the polluted air of the cities in England.
This city also provided a safe-haven for those escaping extreme oppression. Unknown to many, Pottsville had its own “railway station” and “conductor” on the Underground Railroad. The Quaker family, the Gillinghams, risked fortune and life by harboring escaped slaves from the South as they worked their way to Canada. Perhaps coincidently, the St. John’s elementary school building, the future site of Gillingham’s Schoolhouse, is on land originally owned by Quakers…the small Quaker cemetery sits between the schoolhouse and the woods of Sharp Mountain.