History of Danville Main Page
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©2001. Terri Cook. All rights reserved.

Danville Past and Present
Danville, Montour County, Pennsylvania
A Collection of
Historical And Biographical Sketches,
By: D. H. B. Brower
Harrisburg, PA.:
Lane S. Hart, Printer and Binder

Simon P. Kase

     Simon P. Kase, one of the most remarkable men of the day, was
born in Rush, on the opposite side of the river, on the 27th of Au-
gust, 1814.  His father was long a justice of the peace.  He was
the owner of several good farms and was in comfortable circumstan-
ces.  He had the confidence of those around him and was consulted
in relation to all public questions as well as in private affairs.  He
was an elder in the church at Rushtown for many years.  His mother
is said to have been a noble woman who endeared herself to all
around her.  His brothers and sisters were John, William, Eliza-
beth, Katy, Charity, Sarah, Susan and Amy.  Simon, the subject
of this sketch was the youngest of the family.  At twenty years of
age he left his home to enter alone the battle of life.  His first
enterprise was building threshing machines, and he carried the first
machine over the mountains to Lebanon county - the first that was
carried on wheels.  This first portable machine was hailed by the
agricultural fraternity as a great improvement, and he was very suc-
cessful.  He had the agency of John C. Boyd to sell the patent in
Schuylkill, Berks, Bucks, Montgomery and Lancaster counties.  In
six weeks he sold "rights" to the amount of $2,200.  In 1835 he
established an agricultural and machine shop in Lebanon county
and carried it on for two years when he sold it and returned home.
 In 1837 he built the second foundry in Danville.  Here he
manufactured threshing machines, stoves and mill-gearing, boat-
loads of which he sent to various parts of the State.  In 1840 he
married Elizabeth McReynolds, previous to which he had built the
house on Market street now occupied by his daughter.  In 1844
Mr. Kase built the first mill for the manufacture of merchant iron,
which he conducted for two years in connection with the foundry.
In 1846 he completed his rolling-mill, which was an important event
in the history of Danville.  Mr. Kase also made the first "three
high" train of rolls in the place.  It worked to perfection and was
a great feat, as he had never learned turning or pattern making.
But the ad, valorem tariff, adopted by the casting vote of George
M. Dallas, completely silenced forges, rolling-mills and manufacto-
ries of all kinds.  In 1848 he leased his mill to David P. Davis, who
finally failed, and he had the mill on hand again, while England
was supplying the market of the United States with iron.  In 1852
he sold the rolling-mill and it was moved to Knoxville, Tennessee.
From 1848 to 1855 he manufactured and sold what is known as
Kase's celebrated force pump, supplying them in quantities to par-
ties that purchased the patent-right.  In this enterprise Mr. Kase
realized a sufficiency to retire from business.  And he did so, only
loaning money to parties that could not be accommodated without
paying more than legal interest.  Mr. Kase  retired with the inten-
tion of now enjoying a life of ease, for which his means were am-
ple; but how oft our calculations fail and how little we know of the
destiny the future has in store for us.  In 1857 his brother William
induced him to purchase his furnace at Roaring Creek.  An in-
ventory was made of stock amounting to $25,000.  But it seems
the stock was not there and S. P. Kase realized only $6,000 out of
the whole concern.  There was $19,000 gone at one swoop.  Out
of his real estate he saved only some farms he owned in Iowa.  All
the rest went for an unjust debt as he regards it to the present day
The money a considerable amount which he still had in hand and
his Iowa lands he retained.  He then saw the necessity for another
struggle with fortune, and accordingly went to New York and hung
out his "shingle" to sell railroad iron.  Very soon the Flint and
Parmaquett Railroad Company applied to him for iron for their
road, from Flint to Parmaquett in Michigan.  The rails were fur-
 nished but the pay not being satisfactory Mr. Kase was finally
solicited to take charge of the construction.  It was at that time
graded only from Flint to Saginaw.  The length of the road is one
hundred and eighty miles.  Mr. Kase assumed the sole management
and by the exchange of old for new bonds and in various movements
requiring executive ability of the highest order, in two years he
completed the enterprise.  It was a grand success and its bonds
sold at ninety-five percent.

     In 1862, William G. Kase, a nephew, then president of the
Reading and Columbia Railroad Company, together with the board
of directors, sent for S. P. Kase and solicited him to take sole man-
agement as financial agent to build their road, as all their efforts
had completely failed.  After surveying the route and ascertaining
the want of means and refusal of subscribers to pay their stock,
on account of former mismanagement, Mr. Kase at once proceeded
to Washington city, where he presented the matter to the Congres-
sional Committee on Railroads, together with a bill appropriating
$450,000 in United States bonds for an equal amount of the bonds
of the Columbia and Reading railroad.  Here he was met and op-
posed by all the power of the Pennsylvania, and the Baltimore and 
Ohio railroad and every rival interest.  For fours weeks the contest
was carried on.  Mr. Kase made the fact of an inland route between
New York and Wshington his main point.  Of this, the road he rep-
resented was an important link, and as there was a possibility of
England going with the South, the value of a route remote from 
the sea board was duly estimated and he gained the point.  His
next struggle was to complete the road, which he accomplished.
But such is the perversity of human nature, that no sooner had Mr.
Kase lifted them out of trouble and gave value to their late worth-
less investment, than they deliberately set about robbing him of his
promised reward by the most treacherous procedure.  Mr. Kase
concluded that it is only safe to confide in those who believe in per-
sonal accountability for every act in life.

     In 1864 Mr. Kase started improvements in coal mining in McCau-
ley mountain and established the Beaver Creek Coal Company; but 
after the works were erected the Catawissa Railroad Company re-
fused to furnish cars for its transportation.  This induced him to 
build the Danville, Hazelton and Wilkes-Barre railroad.  This
 road extends from Sunbury to Tomhicken and is fifty-four miles in 
length.  It not only opens the market to the coal; but forms an
important link in the direct line between the East and the West. 
The opposition Mr. Kase encountered from cnoflicting interests in
the prosecution of this great enterprise was enough to discourage
any many but himself.  But he persevered and finally triumphed,
completing and equipping the road; and it was a proud day for
him when the first train, laden with excursionists, passed over the
road.  His judgment was confirmed, his name was vindicated and
his great ability was manifested in his wonderful success.  Then he
was honored and banqueted like a lord by those who never raised a
finger to aid him when he struggled alone to secure this great im-
provement.  A brief sketch of this road will be found in another
portion of this book.

     Mr. Kase in now engaged in building the Lehigh and Eastern rail-
road, which is another connecting link in the direct route, passing
through the coal fields of Pennsylvania.  It connects with the Dan-
ville, Hazelton and Wilkes-Barre road at Tomhicken and extends
to Port Jarvis.  Capitalists of the country and all public-spirited
men are beginning to comprehend the vast importance of this direct
route from Boston and New York to the great West.

     On closing a rapid sketch of the prominent features in the stirring
life of Simon P. Kase, it is just proper to say that in the great
industrial enterprises and in the progressive improvements of this re-
gion, no man of his age has made a more lasting impression, and
that impress in all our future history will remain indelible forever.
He is one of those rare specimens of the genus homo that are not
met at the corner of every street.  Once in a while they dash across
the common track in their seeminingly eccentric course, understood
no more by the masses than the origin and mission of the comet.
Such men as S. P. Kase do not travel in the beaten path; but ever
and anon strike out into new and startling projects that seem to the
multitude visionary, impracticable and beyond the reach of human
effort.  But looking to the end from the beginning and discarding
the word "fail" from their vocabulary, they hear but one word and
that is "forward," and such men feel the inspiration of genius or
some unseen power impelling them onward in the accomplishment
of great purpose opposition or even ridicule becomes new incen-
 tive to action, and with a tireless energy they persevere until the
world is startled again by their complete success.  Looking abroad
as he crossed the threshold of manhood he saw with impatience the
slow and sober pace of local and general affairs; and instead of
waiting form something to "turn up" he proceeded at once with a
bold and fearless hand to turn something up.  It must not be for-
gotten however, that such men as he, absorbed in the prosecution
of great enterprises and in the ceaseless whirl of important improve-
ments or bold adventures often forget minor matters or lesser de-
tails; and this affords a pretext to embarrass their steps and retard
their progress; thus hindering instead of aiding in that which must
result in a common benefit.  Men like Mr. Kase always have been
and always will become the common mark for the arrows of de-
traction.  It is the tribute that all who rise above the level must
pay to the world, until we reach a higher plane of civilization.
Their motives are misrepresented by those of conscious inferiority
and the envious predict a failure at every step of their progress.
Even final success is poisoned with a bitter ingredient, and the his-
tory of inventors, reformers and public benefactors, who have de-
voted their lives to the general good, is but the history of public
ingratitude if not of actual persecution.  But time brings all things
even, and when the lapse of years has swept away the cobwebs of
human prejudice, S. P. Kase will be honored for what he has done
for Danville, and his name will be associated with the great public
improvements in which he pioneered the way, long after he
                                 "Hails the dark omnibus,
                                  That brings no passenger back."

This page is maintained by Terri Cook as part of the USGenWeb Project.
©2001. Terri Cook. All rights reserved.