The Douglas House Marketplace of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

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The History of The Douglas House (circa 1840)

The Douglas House was named from the family who occupied it. Andrew Almerin Douglas (1818-1890), his wife Mary Ann Leisenring (1824-1893), and their 3 daughters Harriet Dexter (1847-1923), Elizabeth Crellen (1849-?) and Emily Juliet (1850-1896).

Until 1831, the property in the settlement which became Mauch Chunk and now Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania all belonged to the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, and whatever improvement had been made was solely the work of that corporation. But the town was to be opened to the enterprise of individuals, and to enter, as was proved subsequently, upon an era of moderate prosperity based upon several independent causes. When the company decided to put the village property in the market, they issued, under date of September 19, 1831, the following advertisement:

“Persons desirous of locating themselves at Mauch Chunk are informed that lots in that town, on both sides of the Lehigh, are now offered for sale on advantageous terms, and free from all restrictions. This town is situated in Northampton County, at the present head of the Lehigh navigation (which is adapted to boats of 140 tons burthen), is 46 miles, by the Lehigh Canal, from Easton (which is at the confluences of the Delaware Canal to Philadelphia and the Morris Canal to New York), 80 miles by land and 124 miles by canal to Philadelphia, 96 miles by land and 156 miles by canal to New York, and 32 miles by turnpike from the Pennsylvania Canal at Berwick, to which place the navigation will, no doubt, in a few years be extended by the route of the Nescopeck Valley. Water-powers can be concentrated here to any extent required for manufacturers, and the families of the laborers engaged in the coal business (of which this place is the exclusive shipping port) will furnish the necessary number of suitable hands. For terms, apply to Josiah White, acting manager at Mauch Chunk.”

The company began to sell lots in 1832. The property which the Douglas House stands changed hands a few times until Fisher and Elizabeth Hazard sold it to the Leisenring family in 1840. Based on the selling price of $2,000, I am assuming the brick structure was built onto the lot at that time. Mary Leisenring married Andrew Douglas on October 14, 1844 and together they lived in the home raising their three daughters.

The History of the Douglas Family

Andrew Douglas moved to Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania when he was a young man and was largely interested in the mining of anthracite coal. He was an engineer employed by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company and was engaged as an engineer on the Upper Lehigh navigation improvement which dealt with the construction of the locks of Lehigh canal from Mauch Chunk to White Haven. In 1843, he also engaged in coal-mining at Nesquehoning with Asa Packer. He carried on that business with various partners until 1865.

Andrew Douglas also worked alongside his older brother Edwin A. Douglas who came to Mauch Chunk in 1835. He too was an engineer on the canal, and surveyed for and had charge of the work from Mauch Chunk to White Haven. From 1843 until his death, in 1859, he was the superintendent and engineer of all the company's works, and a most efficient man in the place. There are numerous accounts of his engineering ingenuity which advanced the growth of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company during the most prosperous years of the company.

I have not found any evidence that Edwin resided with his brother in the Douglas House.

Andrew Douglas died on October 25, 1890 just shy of his 72nd birthday and after 46 years of marriage to Mary. Mary passed 3½ years later at the age of 69 and willed the home to their three daughters. The daughters were all adults, married and went their separate ways with their husbands and own families. After that, the building became the home of many families (Carter, Heaton, Stahl, Heimbach) from that time until it was converted and used as apartments from the 1960's until the early 1990's when renovation was completed and the Douglas House Marketplace was opened by Richard and Anne Gremling.

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