Posted By Norman Gasbarro on January 2, 2012
The Good Tannery was located at the west end of Gratz. In 1842, a “tanyard” was owned by Daniel Good and Samuel Ritter but tax records show that the property on which the Good Tannery was located was not conveyed to Daniel Good until 1843. Good had originally settled in Loyalton and operated a tannery there before establishing his main operation in Gratz.
The three elements needed to operate a tannery were the bark of oak trees, hides of animals and power. In Loyalton, the tanning operation was powered by water, but in Gratz, no streams being available in the new tannery location, the power was provided by horses.
According to information found in A Comprehensive History of the Town of Gratz Pennsylvania, the Good Tannery was important in the commercial and mercantile interests of Gratz in that the resident boot and shoe makers and saddle and harness makers needed a steady supply of tanned hides. Plasterers also needed animal hair which was a by-product of the process.
Several pictures of the Good Tannery operation have survived and are available at the Gratz Historical Society. The one shown above is of the main tannery building and was probably taken in the late nineteenth century. Several skins, tanned at the Good Tannery, are on display in the Gratz Historical Society Museum.
Also available at the Gratz Historical Society is the account book of Jeremiah Good (1836-1905), which lists all transactions from 3 May 1858 through April 1865 – including the entire period of the Civil War. Jeremiah was the son of Daniel Good (1809-1870) and it was Jeremiah who operated the tannery during the Civil War. No record has been found of Civil War service for Jeremiah Good.
The Good family was quite prosperous and owned several other properties in Gratz. The family history will be further discussed in relation to those properties.
Part of one of the pages of the account book is shown above – with surnames Romberger, Good, Umholtz, Shade and Witmer being prominently noted on the example pictured. Credits and debits were noted in this book with each account given a unique number – more than 250 separate accounts kept! The prices and types of materials were carefully noted. The book consists of 360 pages of these transactions – and is a treasure of information. The name of nearly every person in Gratz as well as the surrounding township appears in this book. At the present time, the account book has has not been indexed or transcribed into a database format. It is a project that awaits a willing volunteer.
At this time, it is not known when the tannery ceased operations or when the buildings were demolished. There is an historical marker on the site, which was placed by family members John W. Good and Sarah Good Miller.
This is part 28 of an ongoing series on Gratz during the Civil War. Some of the information for this post was taken from the book A Comprehensive History of the Town of Gratz Pennsylvania.