Reynoldsville History Briefs
Reynoldsville borough was originally an Indian village. The last Indians to leave were the Johns who were still around in 1824.
In the 1830s, the men that came to be the founders of Reynoldsville packed up all their belongings and moved from opposite sides of the state and settled in Winslow Township. Thomas Reynolds, Sr.(right) lived about two miles east of what is now Reynoldsville but he owned all the land in what is now the eastern portion of the town.
Woodward Reynolds (left), no relation to Thomas, bought all the land that is now the business portion of the town and lived here. Woodward married Amelia Ross from Kittanning. Their son David was born in 1837. David was the first white (non-Indian) child born in Reynoldsville.
Thomas Reynolds suggested that the place be called Reynoldsville, and in 1850 this suggestion was confirmed by the Post Office Department.
The first telephone was put into service in Reynoldsville in 1882. The Bell Telephone Exchange was established on February 15, 1892. Gas was first put in on April 8, 1890. The pipes were laid from the northern part of Jefferson County in 1889.
Reynoldsville experienced great growth during the coal mining era, since it was in the center of the coal mining region of the county. About 1847, Woodward Reynolds opened the first coal mine not only in Jefferson County, but in this section of the state. It was closed about 1878. The mine was located in a little hollowÑsouthwest of where Reynoldsville Cemetery is and a short distance south of the Punxsutawney Road.
The Diamond Coal Company was the first to market mined from Jefferson County. The mine furnished the principal industry of the town, and William Sharpe, the pioneer of this coal region, deserves the praise for the first development of the bituminous coal region of Reynoldsville. In 1873 Diamond Mine was opened, located on the south side of the Sandy Lick Creek north of Reynoldsville. In April of 1874, the first shipment was sent by railroad and went out of Jefferson County. It was the beginning of coal shipments from this region to distant markets.
The Powers-Brown Coal Company and the Hamilton Coal Company were both organized circa 1878. In 1885 the firm of Bill, Lewis and Yates of Buffalo, New York, bought the holdings of the Hamilton Coal Company and the Powers-Brown Coal Company in Winslow Township. In 1887 this firm became a chartered corporation and was known as The Bell, Lewis and Yates Coal Mining Company.
The Big Soldier Run Mine, which belonged to this company and opened on October 1, 1889, was at one time considered the largest bituminous coal mine in the world. Its output for years ranged from 500,000 to 2,000,000 tons of coal per annum. The first coal mining machine put in this region was a Harrison allowing coal began to be taken out of the western openings of the mine by a system of wire rope. Before that time, they used mules. The first electric haulage in the mines in the township was in 1903.
In the beginning, most of the business and social life in Reynoldsville was dependent on the stage coach and its traffic. But after Sandy Lick Creek was cleared of overhanging trees and debris, the major industry became lumbering. The first large saw mill was near Reynoldsville and known as the Smith Mill. It was built in 1865 and was located on Sandy Lick Creek, a mile and a half below the town. The trees would be cut down and then floated down the Sandy Lick Creek, the Red Bank Creek, and then the Allegheny River to Pittsburgh. One of the first and largest lumbering and rafting operations was run by Charles H. Prescott (for whom Prescottville is named).
The first industry was a tannery started by Thomas Reynolds. Erected in 1845 and located between Jackson and Tenth Streets, it ran until the end of the Civil War. In 1860, John Reynolds, second son of Woodward Reynolds, introduced the planing mill as well as sash and door manufacturing on the corner of Main and First Streets. The first steam whistle in this section of the country was used in 1870, when one was placed in the planing mill at First and Main Streets.
In the first few years of Reynoldsville's existence, religious services were only held occasionally. An old house on East Main Street, afterwards remodeled and occupied by Milton Coleman, was often used for the purpose of holding religious meetings. On one occasion, about 1852, the floor gave way, dropping the congregation to the basement. It is said that five people died in the accident which was augmented by the fire from the over-turned stove.
Many of the religious denominations were active. In 1873, the Presbyterians built a church in what is now Snydertown and in 1870 they formed a church on Main Street. The Catholics also built their first church in Snydertown. Their present building was erected on Main Street in 1884. Prescottville was the site of the First Baptist Church where the congregation was organized about 1858. In 1887, they started the construction of their present building on Main Street. In 1874, the Methodists organized in Reynoldsville, building their first church in 1879. The Lutherans organized here in 1880, building a church on Jackson Street four years later. In the latter 1800s, the Episcopal services of the church organized in Reynoldsville by that denomination in the spring of 1887 were held. In recent years the Christian Missionary Alliance Church was located at the corner of Grant and Third Streets.
The first schoolhouse in this locality was a little log structure built in 1836 on the hill above the former flouring mill in Prescottville. It was known as the Fuller Schoolhouse and one of the teachers was Thomas Reynolds. A few years later, another schoolhouse was built in Cold Spring Hollow, which was in constant use until 1874, when it was sold. The large school building on central Main Street was built in 1875.
In 1876, a large eight-room, two-story structure was built and used for the next 20 years. In 1896 a brick schoolhouse was erected on Main and Grant Streets, with an addition in 1924. In the early 1950s Winslow Township merged with Reynoldsville Schools and bussed all pupils to Reynoldsville for their education.
Reynoldsville High School
Construction began on the Reynoldsville High School building in June 1895 and was dedicated on September 4, 1896. It had fourteen classrooms, a library, a large auditorium, four extra rooms, an office, and a basement with space for furnace and supplies. This building also served as a hospital during the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1917-1918. In 1924, a $100,000 addition was put on that included eight large classrooms, restrooms, corridors, a large gym and a coal storage room. In 1964, the local School Board voted to join the DuBois Area School District.
Reynoldsville is the location of the DuBois-Jefferson County Vocational Technical School.