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Schuylkill County Sheriff Session Docket

Identifier: SC MS 0338.MS

Scope and Contents

Volume measuring 42 x 28 x 6 cm bound in reverse paneled sheep skin with leather straps and morocco spine labels (damaged). The spine and edges are worn but binding is solid, has two black leather patches stamped in gold: Session Docket J.P. Hobart Sheriff. The docket contains 569 pages stamped in upper corners; only 307 pages are used. Marblelized end pages. Internally the pages are of heavy good quality paper with a printed page (laid in loosely) "Prison Calendar Schuylkill County Prison, [June] Session 18[61]. Handwriting is bold in most cases. Approximately 732 cases are recorded - apparently a complete record of cases adjudicated during Hobart's tenure as Sheriff of Schuylkill County 1858 to 1861. There are many original signatures of both defendants and witnesses recorded within the cases.


  • Creation: 1858-1861


Language of Materials


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Collection is open for research.

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Biographical / Historical

John Potts Hobart was born in 1814 in Pottstown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, the son of Pennsylvania Auditor Nathaniel P. Hobart. He was well educated in private schools and a military school in Mt. Airy. He studied law with William Biddle at Carlisle, Pa. and was admitted to practice in the courts of Cumberland County. In 1837 he opened a law practice in Orwigsburg, PA. When Pottsville became county seat of Schuylkill County, he moved his practice there. In 1838 he married Anne Amelia Smith and they had 10 children. He was a prominent jurist and public official in Schuylkill County. Politically he was a Whig/Republican in a predominantly Democratic county. He was elected sheriff in September 1858 serving one term in that capacity until late 1861. Hobart was a colonel of a regiment of militia. Following his term as sheriff, he served as an officer for the military conscription in Schuylkill County. Mandatory military service had ended in 1858 so it was necessary for each county to draft "volunteers" for the Civil War. To try to end the unrest and rioting among the miners and the related population, it was proposed to conscript as many of the miners as possible to serve in the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteers of Schuylkill County. Many of the conscripted groups had Irish and German surnames. The idea was to use the militia to end the political problems caused by the rioting miners. The disgruntled miners frequently vented their grievances in assault and battery against the mine supervisors and railroad men. These are the troubles fermenting during the era represented in the "Session Docket of J.P. Hobart." The Civil War demand for coal led to the violence attributed to the Irish secret society known as the "Molly Maguires." After the Civil War Hobart was Register of Schuylkill County for many years while maintaining a private practice. He was also associated with the Schuylkill Coal Exchange founded by Franklin B. Bowen. He died in Pottsville in 1892.


1 volume : 307 p. ; 42 cm


A documentation of court history of Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, infamously known as the site of the activities of the Molly Maguires, a secret society primarily of Irish miners who riot against anthracite coalmine owners in the mid-1800s. Although the time frame of this court history was before the real "crime wave" that appeared in the anthracite mine area, it is indicative of the labor unrest prevailing throughout the citizenry in the Pennsylvania coalfields.


The arrangement is chronological.

Acquisition Information

Purchase, September 2017.

Related Materials

Special Collections holds wide range of titles related to Pennsylvania Anthracite history especially in regard to the Eckley B. Cox, a trustee, and Asa Packer founder of Lehigh University.


Vliet, Garret L. & Cake, Henry L. Editors. 1858-1862. "Mining Register & Pottsville Emporium" Pottsville, PA. 1858. "Miners' Journal" 1880. Annual Report of the Bureau of Statistics of Pennsylvania, v. 7, pt.III. 1881. "History of Schuylkill County, Pa." New York: W.W. Munsell & Co. 1947. Schlegel, Marvin W. "Ruler of the Reading: The Life of Franklin B. Gowen." Harrisburg, PA: Archives Publishing Co. of Pennsylvania, Inc.

Finding Aid of Schuylkill County Sheriff Session Docket SC MS 0338.MS
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Eleanor Nothelfer.
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Lehigh University Library and Technology Services.

Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Lehigh University
Linderman Library
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