History

 

Hastings, founded in 1889, and was named in honor of Daniel Hartman Hastings, Governor of Pennsylvania from 1895 to 1899. It was incorporated as a borough on December 4, 1894.

In 1887, Governor Beaver, General Hastings and Colonel Spangler, all of Bellefonte, and Robert Coleman of Lebanon, incorporated under the title of Blubaker Coal Company, came to Cambria County and bought some 14,000 acres of coal lands in Elder, Susquehanna, Barr and Caroll Townships upon which they had taken options at an earlier date.

It was intended that the company be named “Brubaker”, the name of the creek, a tributary of Chest Creek, which rises in the southwestern part of Elder Township and flows through the present town of Hastings. According to Mr. Isidore Pfiester, an engineer for the Blubaker Company, the name Blubaker was the result of an error in printing.

The development of the coal lands in the area was dependent upon suitable transportation to move coal to the markets. The established railroads were reluctant to extend their lines to the new coal field, but through some clever moves on the part of General Hastings and Colonel Spangler, the Pennsylvania Railroad was extended from LaJose to Hastings. A more suitable connection was later established with an outlet to the mainline at Cresson.

Leases were entered into with the Laurel Hill Coal and Coke Company and the Chest Creek Coal and Coke Company, which speeded the development of the area. The latter company built coke ovens and made such a good product that it received a prize for the best coke at the World’s Fair in 1893. Through advancement in the art of making coke, the ovens were later abandoned.

The first car of coal was shipped from Hastings in July 1888 by the Chest Creek Coal and Coke Company. This company was later purchased by T.H. Wakins and others who organized the Pennsylvania Coal and Coke Corporation, which operated in the area for many years.

The town was laid out in 1888 under the supervision of Mr. H.D. Van Pelt. In sixteen months more than 100 buildings, storerooms and homes were built, and the population increased to more than 1,000.

In 1890, the first municipal building, known as the “lock-up”, was built. This building was used in the early days for borough council meetings.

In common with similar rapidly growing towns, Hastings had much trouble with its water supply. In the beginning, each home had its own well. Private capital organized the Hastings Water Company in 1891. The borough had much litigation in the matter, and in 1926, the borough purchased the water system from private interests.

A highlight of the problems related to the water supply was the typhoid epidemic, which struck the town in 1908. The water supply was found to be uncontaminated, but the epidemic led to some municipal improvements, including a sewage system completed about 1914.

The development of the cultural and religious life followed quickly after the establishment of the commmunity. A Swedish Lutheran Church was established in March 1891, and the Catholic parish was established in the same year. During the year 1889, Rev N.B. Smith of the Cherry Tree Circuit organized the first group of Methodists who met in a building owned by Aaron Goldman. The Methodist Church was also built in 1891.

Wood School on Beaver Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues, was the first school in the community. It was a two-room building, and the instruction was by Mr. Boughter. Mr. Austin Weakland was a teacher in 1890 in a two-story building on Third Avenue, present home of Mr. Andrew Bills.

The first public school for the new town was a four-room wooden building on the site of the present Catholic Church; it was built in 1890 and had two grades in each room. The first teachers were Miss Mollie Nash, Mr. George Beaver, Miss Anna Callahan and Mr. J.S. Foley.

A two-year high school was established in 1904. The course was extended to three years in 1913. In 1923, the high school began an accredited four-year course.

The population of Hastings in 1950 was 1,846.

(NOTE: Mr. Jim Commons, former Mayor and member of the Hastings Borough Council, researched and submitted this information to the Hastings Borough Secretary in 1996.)