Uncovering history in Schuylkill County


POTTSVILLE, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Uncovering history, by learning who, or what, local towns were named after. The Schuylkill County Historical Society dusts off some old records to find out what’s in a name.

67 municipalities in Schuylkill County make for 67 unique names. Hundreds of thousands of visitors stop by the historical society to uncover the past. Many asking where these names come from.

Tom Drogalis pulls out a historic record by Herrwood E. Hobbs. Drogalis explains, most town names across the country were influenced by four things. Elected officials, heritage, war heroes, and “special” events.

Take the borough of Deer Lake. It got it’s name in 1936 when “extinct” deer made their reappearance.

Ringtown also has an interesting story; getting its name when a ring was stolen from the hub of a broken wagon wheel as a prank in 1909.

Those stories check out historically. But some others are considered folklore, like how Cumbola got its name.

“As the story goes, there was a person in town who had a cow named Bola. But then the cow got out of his pen and the village people went calling for the cow saying come Bola,” said Dorgalis, exec. director of historical society.

What really happened — it was named after a county in South Wales.

Some unique names on the list — like the village of Rough and Ready, named after President Zachary Taylor who was nicknamed “old rough and ready” of the Mexican War.

Other places, like Pottsville, named after its founder John Potts. Tamaqua comes from a Native American term, which translates to little beaver stream or running water. Shenandoah — also of Native American decent– translates to sprucy stream.

Other places in the county, like Coaldale, Minersville, and Mount Carbon have something else in common… Coal.

As for Schuylkill County itself, it was founded in 1811 and named after the Schuylkill River, which runs through it. Dutch explorers named the river around 1749, choosing “Schuylkill” — which translates to hidden. 

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