A Guide to the Harriet Eliza Lathrop Reminiscences, 1937 Lathrop, Harriet Eliza Reminiscences Ms1988-011

A Guide to the Harriet Eliza Lathrop Reminiscences, 1937

A Collection in
Special Collections
Collection Number Ms1988-011


Special Collections, Virginia Tech

Special Collections, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
Phone: (540) 231-6308
Fax: (540) 231-3694
Email: specref@vt.edu
URL: http://spec.lib.vt.edu/

2018 (CC0).

Processed by: John M. Jackson, Special Collections

Special Collections, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.
Collection Number
Harriet Eliza Lathrop Reminiscences, 1937
Physical Characteristics
0.1 Cubic Feet 1 folder
Lathrop, Harriet Eliza
Photocopied typescript of the reminiscences of Harriet Eliza Lathrop, a native of New York who moved to Tazewell County, Virginia with her husband, employed there to oversee the opening of the Pocahontas Coal Field.

Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from the Harriet Eliza Lathrop Reminiscences must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Existence and Location of Copies

Images available online .

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: Harriet Eliza Lathrop Reminiscences, Ms1988-011, Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Harriet Eliza Lathrop Reminiscences were donated to Special Collections in 1988.

Processing Information

The processing and description of the Harriet Eliza Lathrop Reminiscences commenced and was completed in November, 2018.

Biographical / Historical

Harriet Eliza Williams, daughter of Charles F. and Eliza Campbell Williams, was born in New York City on July 26, 1856. On March 21, 1881, she married William Lathrop, and the couple had one daughter. Harriet Eliza Williams Lathrop died died on May 30, 1939, and was buried in Montrose Cemetery, Kingston, Pennsylvania.

William Arthur Lathrop, son of Dr. Israel B. and Mary Elizabeh Bolles Lathrop, was born August 4, 1854. He graduated from Lehigh University with a degree in civil engineering in 1875. From 1881 to 1884, he served as superintendent and engineer of the Southwest Virginia Improvement Company, establishing the Pocahontas coal fields and the town of Pocahontas in Tazwell County, Virginia. In 1885, he was named superintendent of the bituminous coal department of the Lehigh Valley Coal Company. The company promoted him to general superintendent at Wilkes-Barre three years later. In 1901, Lathrop became president of the Webster Coal & Coke Company; when Webster merged with Pennsylvania Coal & Coke, Lathrop became president. In 1906, Lathrop was named manager of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company, and he was elected president the following year. He also served as president or director of a number of other companies and as president of Lehigh University's board of trustees. William Lathrop died in Wilkes-Barre on April 12, 1912.

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of a photocopied typescript ([27] leaves) of the reminiscences of Harriet Eliza Williams Lathrop, a native of New York who, during the 1880s, lived with her husband (William Arthur Lathrop) in Tazewell County, Virginia from 1881 to 1884 while the latter was employed by the Southwest Virginia Improvement Company to oversee the opening of the Pocahontas Coal Field and the building of the town of Pocahontas. Included is a foreword, written by Lathrop's daughter, Helen Lathrop Thompson, in 1948 (Lathrop's reminiscences seem to have been written around 1936).

Lathrop's reminiscences commence with the couple's arrival in Dublin, Virginia on November 21, 1881. From there, Lathrop describes the couple's stops in Pearisburg and Princeton, before reaching their destination in Tazewell County, where they initially boarded with the Moore family.

Lathrop documents her interactions with local inhabitants (re-creating the dialogue in dialect), the couple's diet and living quarters; and her daily housekeeping routine. She also notes her husband's activities in overseeing the building of the town and the opening of the coal mines. She describes the initial development of the town of Pocahontas and the 1884 Laurel Mine explosion that killed 114 miners. Lathrop's reminiscences end around June, 1884, with the couple leaving Pocahontas for Snow Shoe, Pennsylvania, where William Lathrop had accepted a position as superintendent of the bituminous department of the Lehigh Valley Coal Company.

Index Terms


  • Coal mines and mining
  • Local/Regional History and Appalachian South
  • Women -- History
  • Geographical Names

  • Tazewell County (Va.)