Our Town Nanticoke



WVIA started their Our Town series in the fall of 2009, and in April 2019, Nanticoke was featured in the series. The documentary had featured enlightening stories about the town of Nanticoke and its heritage. The Our Town series features a town within Northeastern Pennsylvania and takes their heritage and stories to make a documentary series of episodes about their town.

The program began talking about how the town of Nanticoke was once only a mining town, but they had dug deep into the history of the city to show that Nanticoke’s history was more than just mining. The town was declared a city in 1926, while beforehand it was a borough due to lack of population.

The town of Nanticoke was named after the Native American tribe called the Nanticoke Indians. While the Nanticoke Indians were here, the land was very large and flat near the river and had fertile soil. The fertile soil was important to them since they lived off the land and needed to grow crops. The Nanticoke Indians were here from the 17th century to about the mid 18th century. John Haddock, a former Nanticoke mayor, decided in 1987 to bring back the Nanticoke Indian tribe from Delaware. After they arrived the town hosted a powwow and signed a treaty in their honor.

Because Nanticoke is known as a mining town, they included plenty of information about the mining that occurred. Albert Borowski recalled the mines tunneled nearly a mile, to a mile and a half underneath the Susquehanna River. Borowski started going into the mines at the age of 19.

The Mill family also has left a huge impact on Nanticoke.  The Mill family lived in the town before the Revolutionary War. The family owned a majority of Nanticoke today and Newport Township. Mining under the Mill’s land for the mineral rights cost the town some significant amounts of money. Samantha Mill was born in 1856 and passed away in August 1937. Samantha gave a lot of her money for children’s funds to go to college. Inside Samantha’s will, she left a sum of money to build the library near her home and money to buy the property for the library.

The Mill Memorial Library had an extension built in the 1980s. A former Nanticoke Area school district faculty member, Alta Harrington, paid for the extension to be built onto the library. Today, the library hosts children’s story time on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the library. The library also hosts plenty of other events throughout the year.

Nanticoke was also known for the copious amount of theaters in town. The city had six or seven Nickelodeon theaters alone which had vaulted seating. The Palace Theater was opened in 1989 and is currently Nardozzo’s pizza. The Rex Theatre held science fiction films.

The State Theater had three lobbies and marbled floor to represent a real palace. The theater showed the Disney classic movie “The Lady and the Tramp.” In the 1920s, Gypsy June “Dainty June” Havoc and her sister visited the theater three times.

The Cultural Center of St. Faustina opened upon the closing of St. Stanislaus in 2010. The church was founded in 1985 but was built in 1922.

Nanticoke even had an actor come out of the town. Nick Adams lived in Nanticoke for a few years before getting starring in a role in James Dean’s film “Rebel Without a Cause.” In the 60s, Adams became Nanticoke’s pride and joy due to his successful career as an actor.

The Kanjorski family moved to Nanticoke in 1855. Paul Kanjorski was another shining star for Nanticoke. Kanjorski is a former U.S. Representative of the 11th Congressional District of Pennsylvania. Nanticoke was Kanjorski’s hometown.

John S. Fine was the 36th Governor of Pennsylvania and judge of the common pleas court. Fine was an inspiration to people of all races and walks of life.  Fine helped get people of all races into the state police. He also got funds to build the old PA turnpike and also has a high school named after him in the Greater Nanticoke Area School District.

West Side playground on Grand St. in Nanticoke was built by soldiers from WWII because they wanted a place where children can play and bring their community together. The mining company was going to lease the land to them for a dollar each year, but the Veterans had a better idea in mind. The Veterans raised the funds to own the land for the playground and made six payments on the property.

John Stanky was born into a family of musicians and miners in 1936. John got his start performing at weddings and performed in five out of seven continents. Stanky also performed for the USO tour in South Korea. Stanky is also an active fireman and still plays polka music with his band, Stanky and The Coalminers.

Concrete City is also a huge attraction on the outskirts of the Hanover section of Nanticoke. Fire companies have used this desolate place for training. Concrete City was abandoned instead of blown up due to the mines underneath.

Nanticoke also had two major league baseball players, Pete Gray, and Steve Bilko. Pete Gray was a baseball player with one arm and had a movie and a few novels written about him. Steve Bilko played for the St. Louis Cardinals and the L.A. Angels.

Doctor Stanley Dudrick, a GNA graduate, was given the title of being in the top 150 surgeons in history.

Former Mayor Richard Wiatroski was born and raised in Nanticoke. Wiatroski started many traditions for the town such as the fireworks display at the GNA football stadium, brought back Christmas to Patriot Square and the annual Christmas parade, and introduced trunk-or-treat to the town. Wiatroski did this and much more to bring the city together, as a community.

Overall, the program had plenty of other information about the city. The town had been a booming mining town with an extraordinary and lavish history. https://mail.yahoo.com/d/folders/1

Information received from: http://www.wvia.org/television/documentaries/our-town-series/our-town-nanticoke/