Friedensville was a bustling village in the 1850s through the 1870s. It was a strikingly different place than the rest of Upper Saucon Township which was populated with mainly merchants and farming families of German descent. Here, in addition to the local population, were many recent arrivals from Cornwall, in Great Britain, and Ireland. The Irish immigrants were largely working as miners in the Friedensville Mines. The Cornish were mine superintendents, crew leads and mining engineers. Known throughout the world for their skills in mining and steam technology, the Cornish technicians were highly recruited by the mine owners. They and the Irish had their own churches, social clubs, taverns and the primary school, directly across from the Ueberroth Mine, was named after the Lehigh Zinc Company president, Benjamin Webster. On the mine property, there were worker housing and farms to support the miners, When the mines began to fail in the mid 1870s, the Cornish mine specialists began to move away to more attractive mine locations in the mid-West and West. All that remains today of their presence is a small graveyard hidden behind a house on Oakhurst Drive located on land that once included a Methodist Chapel. In the middle part of the 20th century, the village came to life again as mining recommenced in the area. A planned village of Cape Cod style houses, built to house the New Jersey Zinc Company, still exists near the plant and office of the New Jersey Zinc Company. The above photograph is from the 1970s and shows miners drilling in the underground shafts (photograph is from Lehigh University Special Collections).
In the beginning, two people were critical to the Friedensville Mines development. Their rivalry somehow worked to create the first commercial scale zinc mining and production enterprise in the United States. W. Ross Yates, Lehigh University Hillman Award recognized professor from 1955 to 1986 and historian of Lehigh and the Lehigh Valley region, wrote the definitive story of Samuel Wetherill and Joseph Wharton's contentious relationship which somehow made this new enterprise a success by the time of the Civil War. This journal article was published in 1974 in the The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography.
L. Michael Kaas has written an interested article for the 2014 Mining History Journal on one of the Friedensville Mines superintendents (known as Captains). Richard Pascoe had a colorful career in both the North and the South during the Civil War period. It is easy to understand why mine owners found their Cornish operational managers so valuable.
Lehigh University is the current property owner and the institution has been involved with the Friedensville Mines since before their inception. Twenty years before Lehigh was founded in 1865, Lehigh's future first professor of mineralogy/geology determined that the strange rocks on Farmer Ueberroth's property were rich in zinc ore. From that point forward, Lehigh people have been interconnected with the Friedensville property. The attached document summarizes the key milestones in this interrelationship.