Ario Pardee
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Ario Pardee

Ariovistus Pardee
A history of higher education in Pennsylvania (1902) (14761950394).jpg
Born(1810-11-19)November 19, 1810
DiedMarch 26, 1892(1892-03-26) (aged 81)
OccupationCoal baron, philanthropist
Known forFounder of Hazleton, Pennsylvania

Ariovistus Pardee (November 19, 1810 - March 26, 1892) was an American engineer, coal baron, philanthropist, and director of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. In the 1840s he began purchasing land in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, suspecting it to contain a wealth of coal. When he began mining the area, the town went through an economic boom, and credited Pardee as its founder. Pardee was also a major benefactor of Lafayette College to which he donated over $500,000, and had a building on campus named after him.

Early life

Pardee was born in Chatham, New York to Ariovistus and Eliza (née Platt), and grew up in nearby Rensselaer County where his father owned a farm.[1][2] Pardee was taught by his father while working on the farm and received some formal education in engineering from a schoolhouse in town run by the Presbyterian minister, Moses Hunter.[3]


In 1829, Pardee left New York to work as a rodman (or surveyor's assistant) on the construction of the Delaware and Raritan Canal. One of the key purposes of this canal was to move anthracite coal out from the mountains to be processed in factories in New Jersey. Pardee often referred to this job as the key turning point in his life.[4] After the completion of the canal, Pardee was sent to the Beaver Meadow Railroad Company to survey and find a location for the company's railroad which would be used for the shipment of coal. While there, he realized the potential earnings in the anthracite industry if it were connected to railways, rather than canals.[1] After a brief trip to Michigan, where his parents had relocated to, Pardee settled down in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Here, he signed on with the Hazleton Railroad and Coal Company as a superintendent.[1]

In 1840, Pardee began buying land in Hazleton, believing it to contain more coal than its current operators realized.[1] He formed his own coal mining company with business partner John Gillingham Fell, who would later go on to become the president of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. The land Pardee purchased turned out to sit on an incredibly valuable vein of anthracite, and the company began setting up mines to extract the valuable coal. In 1848, Pardee built a gravity railroad to ship his coal, which was later connected to the greater Lehigh Valley railroad. The effect of this new industry transformed Hazleton from a cluster of houses to a populated town, and Pardee personally helped found many banks, churches, schools, and libraries, thus being credited as the founder of Hazleton.[1][5][6]

Pardee diversified his interests following the success of anthracite mining and by 1888 was engaged in iron manufacture, operating blast furnaces in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and Tennessee.[7]

During the American Civil War, Pardee funded a military company in which his son, Ario Pardee Jr. served.[8] The company was known as the "Pardee Rifles".[9] Pardee Jr. would later earn valor at the Battle of Gettysburg, and a monument at the battleground now commemorates "Pardee Field".[7]

Lafayette College

Pardee Hall on the Lafayette College campus

With the onset of the Civil War, Lafayette College saw a drastic reduction in its student population and was nearing bankruptcy. Reverend William Cassady Cattell was called in as the college's new president, tasked with finding endowments to keep the college, on the verge of closing, alive. In 1864, Cattell visited Hazleton at the invitation of Pardee to deliver a sermon, and afterwards Cattell explained to Pardee the financial situation the college was in.[10] That same day Pardee gave a gift of $20,000 (equivalent to $268 thousand in 2018 dollars),[11] for the school's use, which was at the time the largest sum ever given to an educational institution in Pennsylvania.[7][8] Without this gift the college would have faced certain closure.[12]

Pardee, now a director for the Lehigh Valley Railroad as well as a coal magnate,[8] realized the need for trained engineers in the railroad and mining industries and went back to Lafayette in 1865 with a proposal to fund the college's scientific course.[13] With another gift, this time of $100,000, the "Pardee Scientific Course" was created,[14] and the college began issuing engineering degrees for the first time.[15] Shortly after its creation, the college realized the need for a new building on campus to house its growing scientific program and Pardee made another gift of $250,000 to construct this new building.[16] An additional gift of $50,000 was given for equipment for the science program.[7][17] This building, dedicated as "Pardee Hall", opened in 1873 and was regarded as "the largest and most complete scientific college building in the United States."[7] In 1879, the building burned down but was rebuilt with the same appearance by the end of 1880.[18] The building was burned down again in an act of arson in 1897, but was again rebuilt by 1899.[19]

Pardee was a member of the Board of Trustees to Lafayette College for 27 years, and also served as its president from 1881 to 1892.[20] His total donations to the school at the time of his death reached the sum of $522,883 (equivalent to $6.9 million in 2018 dollars).[11][21]

Personal life

Pardee married Elizabeth Jacobs in 1838,[22] with whom he had four children: Ario, Calvin, Alice, and Ellen. A fifth child was conceived but died in childbirth in 1847 along with Elizabeth.[1]

Now a widower with four young children, Pardee hired a governess, Anna Maria Robison, to help him raise his children. They married in 1848[1] and had nine children: William, Israel, Anna, Barton, Frank, Bessie, Edith, Robert, and Gertrude.[2] Israel, his second child with Anna Maria, was a twin, but the other child died during birth.[23]

Pardee died on March 26, 1892 in Rockledge, Florida.[24] His funeral service was given by William Cassady Cattell.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Whitehead, Margaret (2011). Blithewold : Legacy of an American Family (PDF) (First ed.). [Bristol, R.I.]: Blithewold Press. ISBN 978-1-61434-248-9. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 6, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "Industrial Pioneer - Ario Pardee". Standard Sentinel (Vol. 92. No. 25, 464). July 1, 1957. Archived from the original on July 2, 2018. Retrieved 2018 – via to read
  3. ^ Novak, Michael (2018). The Guns of Lattimer. Routledge. ISBN 9781351303781. Archived from the original on March 17, 2019. Retrieved 2018.
  4. ^ "Pardee Laid to Rest". The Plain Speaker. April 1, 1892. Archived from the original on July 2, 2018. Retrieved 2018 – via to read
  5. ^ Krause, Arthur (1999). History of Hazleton and Area. West Hazleton, PA: Arthur A. Krause. p. 6.
  6. ^ "Pardee king of coal barons, father of Hazleton". January 16, 2016. Archived from the original on September 24, 2017. Retrieved 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e Cutter, William Richard (1918). American Biography: A New Cyclopedia. Pub. under the direction of the American historical Society. Archived from the original on March 17, 2019. Retrieved 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Jacobus, p. 372
  9. ^ Orr, Timothy J. (2011). Last to Leave the Field: The Life and Letters of First Sergeant Ambrose Henry Hayward, 28th Pennsylvania Volunteers. Univ. of Tennessee Press. p. 247. ISBN 9781572337930. Archived from the original on March 17, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  10. ^ Skillman, vol. 1, pp. 265-268
  11. ^ a b Thomas, Ryland; Williamson, Samuel H. (2019). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 2019. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the Measuring Worth series.
  12. ^ Skillman, vol. 1, p. 267
  13. ^ Skillman, vol. 1, p. 278
  14. ^ Jordan, John W (1914). Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania (3 ed.). New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company. Retrieved 2018.
  15. ^ Skillman, vol. 1, pp. 281-282
  16. ^ Skillman, vol. 1, pp. 341-343
  17. ^ Johnson, Rossiter; Brown, John Howard (1904). The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans ... (8 ed.). Biographical Society. Archived from the original on March 17, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  18. ^ Skillman, vol. 2, p. 20
  19. ^ Skillman, vol. 2, pp. 143-144
  20. ^ Skillman, vol. 2, p. 316
  21. ^ Skillman, vol. 2, pp. 87-88
  22. ^ Jacobus, p. 367
  23. ^ Jacobus, p. 373
  24. ^ "Ario Pardee is Dead". The Plain Speaker. April 1, 1892. Archived from the original on July 2, 2018. Retrieved 2018 – via to read


  • Jacobus, Donald Lines, The Pardee Genealogy, New Haven, Connecticut, 1927
  • Skillman, David Bishop, The Biography of a College: Being the History of the First Century of the Life of Lafayette College Volume 1, Easton, Pennsylvania, 1932.
  • Skillman, David Bishop, The Biography of a College: Being the History of the First Century of the Life of Lafayette College Volume 2, Easton, Pennsylvania, 1932.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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