Girardville was established in 1832 by wealthy landowner Stephen Girard. The earliest efforts at development of this part of Butler, then Barry township, were made by the distinguished philanthropist after whom the place is named. Stephen Girard, of Philadelphia, having become the possessor of large tracts of coal land in this part of Schuylkill county, sent agents in. Although a portion of the road was completed, the effort to develop the mines prove remunerative, and the death of the founder put a stop to the extensive works he had projected. Confident of the brilliant future of this part of his property, he made it a prominent part of the bequest left to the city of his adoption for the support of Girard College. The principal use to which the lands were put prior to 1862 was the clearing and sale of the fine pine timber that shaded the valley of the Mahanoy, three mills having been built by Mr. Girard's agents in the vicinity, which were operated under leases so long as lumbering remained profitable. In 1841, John Hower, now the eldest resident of the place, became the lessee, and he did much to develop the interests of the place, which at that time contained but few inhabitants. In 1862, the Mine Hill and Schuylkill Railroad and the completion of the Gordon planes having attracted the attention of operators, coal lands on the Preston tract were leased to the Heaton and Colonel J.J. Connor, of Ashland, and in that year the first coal was mined and shipped, the first car load being sent by Colonel Connor as a present to the mayor of Philadelphia, who acknowledged the receipt in a letter of thanks, which stated that he had divided the coal between the two soldiers' restaurants in the city. Further developments followed rapidly, and from a hamlet of about one hundred inhabitants in 1862 grew a thriving borough, which had a population of three thousand in 1875, and a coal trade for that year of more than nine hundred thousand tons. The first buildings erected in the village were the real estate office and hotel building, in 1832, the first of which now constitutes a stable building, and the latter a part of the Girard House. The Presbyterians and Methodists in that part of Butler town-ship occasionally held meetings as early as 1841 in the old office, and in private dwellings; and an occasional term of school was held in the same way, there being at that time not more than ten or twelve children of school age living near enough to attend. The successful opening of not less than ten collieries within few miles of the place made a market that quick-witted business men were not slow in grasping; and, although fifteen years ago Parker Street was a wild country road, cut through the under-brush, it boasted in 1880 as fine a grade and as handsome rows of business blocks as can be found in many an older town. To this prosperity John Hower, E.C. Wagner, William Gwyther, Dr. A.B. Sherman, Louis Blass and E.J. Becker contributed largely. Mr. Wagner, as the agent of the estate, by his liberal and prudent management made his trust a valuable one to his principals, and incidentally, to the people of the place. In 1872, the inhabitants petitioned for a borough government.
HISTORY OF THE BOROUGH OF GIRARDVILLE