07 March 2013

Those Places Thursday: Shenandoah

Shenandoah is a borough situated in Schuykill County. It was first settled in 1835 by Peter Kehley, a farmer. He sold his land rights to the Philadelphia Land Company, which in turn laid out the town.

Anthracite coal was discovered in the 1830's in the area, which led to the town's growth and prosperity, especially during the Civil War when the need for coal was great. Incorporated as a Borough in 16 January 1866, the town served as a magnet for immigrants.

My Walsh/Welsh and Keating families are from Shenandoah. They - like many Irish immigrants - worked in the coal mines. In the 1870s many Irish settled in town. By the end of the decade, the immigration trend swtiched to more immigrants from the Eastern European countries, especially Lithuania, Poland, the Ukraine, and Slovakia. The immigrants were hard workers many of whom spent the better part of their lives in the coal mines.

Anthracite coal burned cleaner than soft coal and had become the main heating fuel in many cities and towns on the East Coast. On 12 May 1902 the miners in Shenandoah joined the Great Coal Strike of 1902, demanding better wages, union recognition and shorter hours. The PA National Guard was called into Shenandoah on 30 July after 5,000 strikers began to riot when scabs were brought in. Deputy Sheriff Rowland Beddall was stoned, three men were killed and many more injured during the riot. It took President Theodore Roosevelt intervening to get the issue resolved. Before it was resolved however, many of the miners and their families left the area. Some even returned to Europe. Commissioner of Labor Carroll D. Wright stated that of the 147,000 strikers, 30,000 left the area. He estimated that of those 30,000 who left, between 8,000 to 10,000 returned to Europe. The strike lasted for 163 days, ending on 23 October 1902.

The Greater Shenandoah Area Historical Society was organized in October 1998 to preerve the history of the town.

Shenandoah is the birthplace of the pierogie! In 1952, Mary Twardzik's son Ted used his mom's original pierogie recipe and launched the Shenandoah-based, brand Mrs. T's Pierogies'. After college, Ted returned home to Shenandoah to start his piergie business. He quickly outgrew his mom's kitchen and moved to his father's former tavern. The company today is run with the help of Ateeco Corp. Pierogies are potato-stuffed pasta pockets. Fillings can vary.

The Sixth Annual Kielbasa Festival
Shenandoah is known as the Kielbasa Capital of the Eastern Coast, thanks to kielbasa makers like Capital Food Store, Lucky’s Kielbasi Shop and Kowalonek Kielbasi Shop. The three businesses will be among those at the Sixth Annual Kielbasa Festival on Saturday, 18 May. Enjoy Eastern European foord, games and the Shenandoah All Star Polka Band at the Festival. There will be Polish Pottery and Matryoshka Dolls and an appearance from the Kielbasa Man! A kielbasa making contest is also scheduled. It will be held in the 100 block of N. Main Street (Route 924). The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is organized by the Downtown Shenandoah Inc.

The Downtown Shenandoah Inc. also promotes the Downtown Shenandoah Kielbasi & Pierogie
Golf Open Tournament on 21 June. The Heritage Day and the Parade of Nations is scheduled for 24 August.

Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.