The Very Beginning
In 1662, King Charles II granted land and gave a charter for it to some people in Connecticut for land between certain boundaries between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. About the same time, King Charles II owed Admiral Penn a large sum of money. To settle this debt, he granted Penn’s son, William, a large territory in North America which Penn called Pennsylvania.
One of the first people to take an interest in Wyoming Valley was Count Zinzendorf, who came to the Valley in 1742 to convert the Indians to Christianity. His reports led a group of Connecticut settlers to form the Connecticut Susquehanna Company. This company bought the land from the Indians and in 1768 met in Hartford, Connecticut and decided to survey and divide the territory into five townships, each five square miles. The plan was to sell and divide each township among forty men. The first forty settlers took possession of Kingston Township.
When the Connecticut Settlers arrived in Wyoming Valley in February, 1769, they found Pennsylvania settlers had been there since January, 1769. This area became the battlefield for the first and second Yankee-Pennamite Wars.
In 1782, five Commissioners were named by Congress to settle the land disputes. These Commissioners handed down the Decree of Trenton, giving all the disputed land to Pennsylvania. The area became part of Northumberland County. The Connecticut settlers wanted to create a new state from Wyoming Valley lands. Colonel Pickering was sent to the area to conduct a thorough political examination. As a result, the Pennsylvania Assembly passed a resolution to create Luzerne County, thus ending the idea of creating a new state.
Luzerne County was formerly part of Northumberland. Its original limits were considerably larger than the present size. Under Colonel Pickering’s direction, county elections were held, courts were opened, and properties were legally deeded to the Connecticut Settlers. Finally, in 1799, the Comprising Act and its supplements settled the ownership once and for all, and the Connecticut settlers became “Pennsylvania Citizens from Connecticut in the County of Luzerne”.
The Beginning of Kingston Borough
In 1831, at some of the citizen’s request, a bill providing for incorporation of limited land around Kingston Corners was introduced in the State House of Representatives. The incorporation failed and was not revived until twenty years later.
With the construction and operation of the Lackawanna and Bloomsburg Railroad, there came a great increase in population. The village people, spurred on by this increase, were determined to incorporate. The incorporation took place on November 23, 1857. The total number of persons living in the Borough at the time was 598 including 125 who were boarding at Wyoming Seminary.
There are two different stories relating to how a name was chosen for the Borough. The first account says that Ezra Dean offered a quart of liquor for the privilege of naming the town. As a compliment to his wife, who was a native of Kingston, Rhode Island, he gave it the name of Kingston. Another account states that Dean offered a quart of whiskey as a prize for the naming of the town. His wife selected the winning name.
Firsts for Kingston Borough
In 1775, a new school was erected on the site of one established in 1773, which is said to have been the first public school in Pennsylvania. The first schoolmaster was Asa Boughtin who was paid $10 a month, together with boarding and lodging in the homes of parents for a three-month term.
The first locomotive railroad in Wyoming Valley was the Lackawanna-Bloomsburg Railroad. Its first train ran as far as Kingston on the morning of June 24, 1856. It carried more than 300 passengers and ran three times daily between Scranton and Kingston. Completion of the line between Scranton and Kingston established a definite need for transportation of passengers between Kingston Station and Wilkes Barre, one-and-one-half mile away. To fill the need, the Wilkes-Barre and Kingston Passengers Railway was set up. This is believed to be the first local public transportation utility. On November 15, 1949, the last passenger train arrived at Kingston Station.
The first telephone company was started in 1878 with seven subscribers. The system was confined to a twenty mile area.
On April 4, 1832, Sharp D. Lewis started the publication of a weekly paper called the “Wyoming Republican”. In 1835, he published the “Wyoming Herald” and consolidated it with “The Republican”. He continued to print and publish the paper at Kingston under the name of “The Wyoming Republican and Herald”.
Another historic building is the Hoyt Library. This building is the former Samuel Hoyt residence, which was bequeathed to Kingston Borough for a public library by his son, Frank Weston Hoyt. With the financial support of Kingston Borough Council, the Library opened on January 1, 1928.