Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Back to Town Characters

John Penn Arndt
Proprietor of Arndt's Tavern

John P. Arndt was a very enterprising man. By age 18, under the guidance of his father, he established himself in Wilkes-Barre opening a tavern and inn not far from the ferry landing. Not long after he built general store adjacent to it and a storehouse on the river bank across from it. The Arndt's were setting themselves up to profit from trade with Easton and beyond by way of the Easton turnpike which had not yet been built.

Interested in profitting from the abundant natural resources in the Wilkes-Barre area, Arndt and his father established the boat yard of Arndt and Arndt on the river bank, north of Northampton street and engaged in boat building. They also experimented in shipbuilding. In July 1804 they launched the "John Franklin", a schooner of about twelve tons, which successfully reached Baltimore and engaged in ocean bourne traffic.

After his father death in October 1804 Arndt took full control of the milling, lumbering, merchandising, and other businesses, including the building of the Durham boats for the navigation of the Susquehanna.

With continued success he built an addition of a hall and two spacious parlors onto tavern in 1812.

Unfortunately he lost heavily due to the industrial and financial crisis following the War of 1812 and decided to reestablish himself westward.

By 1818 he sold the tavern to Thomas Morgan.

As one of the early settlers of Green bay, Wisconson, he became very active and prominent in business and public matters, having to do with the local development of Green Bay and the organization of the Territory of Wisconsin.

He built the first saw mill and the first sail vessel ever built west of Lake Michigan.

He died at Green Bay, Wisconsin, June 11, 1861, age 80.

John Penn Arndt
John P. Arndt came to Wilkes-Barre from Easton in 1897, for the purpose of merchandising and opening a trade to Easton by way of the turnpike - not yet constructed, but generally anticipated as speedily to become an accomplished fact. J. P. Arndt's father, a storekeeper of Easton, was the bottom partner of the enterprise. (James A. Gordon, Wilkes-Barre Times - Newspaper Article -July 18, 1878)

John Penn Arndt, only child of Philip and Mary (Little) Arndt, was born at or near Durham, Bucks County, Pa., November 25, 1780. His mother died at his birth, and he was reared in the family of his grandfather, Abraham, and uncle, Jacob Arndt, in Williams Township, Northampton County.

From the age of eighteen years he was associated with his father in business in Wilkes-Barre, milling, lumbering, merchandising, and other industries, including the building of the Durham boats for the navigation of the Susquehanna. After the death of his father, John Penn Arndt, being the only son and heir, took full control of the business in its several branches, and was successful for many years, and until the industrial and financial crisis of 1815-16, when he lost heavily. (The Story of the Arndts By John Stover Arndt)

From letter written by John Wallace Arndt, youngest son of John Penn Arndt
My father John Penn Arndt was born in the town of Durham, Bucks County, Pa., November 25, 1780, on the Penn tract near Easton, Pa. My mother Elizabeth Carpenter was born in Warren County, N. J., about three miles east of Easton, Pa., on August 7, 1780. She died at Green Bay, Wisconsin, June 10, 1860, and father died at the same place June 11, 1861. They were married in 1799 and soon after removed to Wilkes- Barre, Pa., where he went into business and was very successful, accumulating a large property in a few years.

During the years following the close of the War of 1812, due to the general prostration of business and the consequent financial panic, he met with heavy losses and a large portion of his property was sacrificed.

In 1818, he in company with a friend, who with him, was considering a change of location, undertook a journey of exploration on horseback through Western Pennsylvania and New York to Buffalo, then through Ohio, and part of Michigan, into Indiana, and part of Illinois. On his return home he decided to settle at Buffalo, which was then but a small village of a few hundred inhabitants, but conveniently situated for business. Accordingly he went there in 1819, leaving his family at Wilkes-Barre, but returned in 1820 and made the necessary preparations for their removal to Buffalo. This was done by wagons drawn by horses, the only available means of transportation then.

There were three wagon loads, containing such household goods as could be moved, and the members of his family, consisting of Father, Mother, one daughter and three sons of which I was the youngest. In 1822 we moved to Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan, where father engaged in buying and shipping fish and furs. He purchased two vessels and did his own forwarding and transportation, but meeting with much opposition from the American Fur Company, whose headquarters in the west were at the time at Mackinac, he decided to remove to Green Bay, where with his family he landed on September 25th, 1824.

Here he lived for 37 years, honored and respected by all, was active and prominent in business and public matters, having to do with the local development of Green Bay and the organization of the Territory of Wisconsin. He was elected a representative of the first Territorial Council in 1836 and held many other prominent and important offices.

John Penn Arndt brought with him to his new home in the wilderness of the Fox River Valley an experience of more than twenty years of success and failure in a business similar to that he was called upon to engage in there. (The Story of the Arndts By John Stover Arndt)

From the Green Bay Advocate, June 11, 1861
An Old Resident Gone
It is with feelings of sadness that we today record the death of Hon. John P. Arndt, one of the oldest pioneers of Wisconsin. He was born in Williams Township, Pennsylvania, Nov. 20, 1780; came to Macinac about the year 1821, and to Green Bay in November 1824, and has resided in the same house where he died since the spring of 1825.

In civil life he has honorably filled many offices in the county, and was a member of the first legislature of the Territory of Wisconsin. He was always kind and obliging in his intercourse with those around him, he was always respected and honored. In the various vocations of his long and active life, he was always energetic and perservering.

He built the first saw mill and the first sail vessel ever built west of Lake Michigan, and lived to see thousands succeed them.

From a half dozen families in the little village of Green Bay, in the Territory of Michigan, in 1824, he has lived to see grow up around him the great state of Wisconsin, numbering over seven hundred thousand. Strong in body and in mind, he has been among the foremost in the affairs of our city and county, and was capable of the transaction of business up to the last hours of his sickness. He has gone to his rest at a good old age, and we shall miss the venerable form of the "old man" in our accustomed walks.

Flags throughout the city yesterday were displayed at half mast in token of respect to the deceased.

In the News
The subscriber informs his friends and the Public in general, that he has commenced the Hatting Business in Wilkesbarre, the next door to John P. Arndt's Inn, where he intends to keep a general assortment of Wool and Fur Hats. Which he will dispose of, at the most reduced price, for Cash or produce. He will pay the highest price for Furs. Isaac Carpenter. (16 July 1803)

The birth-day of American Independence was, as usual, celebrated by the Federal Republicans of Wilkesbarre and the neighboring towns, with festivity and joy. An excellent dinner was provided on the occasion by Mr. Arndt, of which about 40 gentlemen partook, under an arbour on the bank of the Susquehannah. Arnold COLT, Esq., was elected President of the day and Maj. William Slocum, Vice-President; after dinner a number of Toasts were drank, accompanied with songs, huzzas and other proofs that the ever memorable era, that gave the nations of the earth a sister, and Americans their freedom, was remembered with becoming sensibility and pleasure. The Democrats dined together at Mr. Hancock's where if we may judge from their rosy cheeks and smiling countenances, they had been partaking of good cheer. In the evening a number of both parties united, in a dance at Mr. Fell's. (7 July 1804)

The subscriber informs the public that he has commenced the Hatting Business, two doors below the Public House of John P. Arndt, in Bank Street, where he will supply those who may choose to favor him with their custom, with Hats of all kinds. Furs, Suitable for his business will be purchased or exchanged for Hats. A likely lad, 14 or 15 year old, will be taken as an apprentice to the above business. (Aug 21 1807)

New Store — Delamanon & Co. — has been opened at the house formerly occupied by Arndt's& Robinson, on Bank-Street, next door above Mr. Taylor's Inn in Wilkesbarre, where they offer for sale on the most reasonable terms, a general assortment of dry goods and groceries., also an assortment of drugs and medicines. All kinds of country produce will be taken in payment for goods. (29 Sept 1809)

Cut Nail Manufactory — John Sletor, informs the Public that he carries on the Manufacturing of Nails, in the building two doors below John P. Arndt'sTavern, Merchants, and all other persons can be supplied with Nails of an descriptions, at the shortest notice and on reasonable terms. Wilkesbarre. (25 May 1810)

Celebration of Independence — A Public Dinner on July 4th, upon the Bank of the Susquehanna, opposite the house of J. P. Arndt, in Wilkesbarre. (30 June 1810)

The Wilkesbarre Stage leaves Gulick's Hotel, Easton, at 3 o’clock every Thursday morning and arrives at Arndt's Inn, Wilkesbarre, early the next day. Leaves Wilkesbarre every Saturday morning and arrives at Easton on Sunday. Fare through, Three Dollars and Fifty Cents. Way Passengers pay six cents per mile. Nathan Gulick, Samuel Nicholas. ((31 May 1811)

Invitation - All free and accepted Masons, with the fraternity of Lodge #61, are hereby invited to attend the Communication at our Lodge Room, the 28th inst. at 10 o'clock A. M. An appropriate Discourse will be delivered and the Society walk in procession to dine at Mr. Arndt's. Eleazer Blackman, Thos. A. Helms, T. B. Oveton, Committee of Arrangements, Wilkesbarre. (18 Dec 1812)

Patriotic & Public Meeting held at the house of John P. Arndt, on 27th July. (30 July 1813)

John P. Arndt, respectfully informs his friends and publick, that he has opened at his old stand, first door above his hotel, and nearly opposite the Ferry in Wilkes-Barre, and extensive assortment of New Goods. (3 Nov 1815)

A Card. The Federal Republicans of Wilkesbarre and its vicinity, are respectfully solicited to unite in the celebration of the Anniversary of American Independence, on the 4th day of July next, in the borough of Wilkesbarre. The citizens, will form a procession at 12 o'clock, on the bank opposite the house of John P. Arndt, whence they will proceed to the Meeting house, where an appropriate address will be delivered - whence they will proceed to partake of a dinner prepared for the occasion. Thos. B. Overton, S. C. King, Chas. Catlin, Committee of Arrangement. (28 June 1816)

Public Vendue. Will be sold at the Washington Hotel, in Wilkes-Barre, on Tuesday next, at ten o'clock A. M. a number of Beds & Bedding with a variety of other articles. John P. Arndt. (10 Apr 1817)

Wyoming Guards - The members are requested to attend a meeting at Mr. MORGAN'S Tavern, on Saturday the 24th October, inst., at 4 o'clock P.M. for the purpose of selecting suitable persons for Officers, preparatory to organizing the Company. (Oct 23, 1818)