Monday, July 12, 2010

John Adam Abe.....Family Man - (part 1) 10-018

John Adam Abe

    The war is officially over for John Adam. With his (34)parole from the 11th Virginia Cavalry on April 20, 1865, I'm sure that Adam was like any other soldier and only had thoughts of getting home. It would be familiar and comfortable surroundings. Someplace stable to set his roots back in the ground instead of constantly being on the move and not knowing what the next day would bring or if it would be his last.
     The most likely route for John Adam to take would be to go west from New Market and then north and northwest up the valley to Moorefield and Romney into Short Gap. Just a few days on horseback and he would be home. A good plan, but we all know plans don't always work out as we expect.
     From records found I think we can piece together the most likely scenario of events in his life.
     The first census record for Adam after the war is the (69)1870 Census for Allegany County, MD. Here Adam Abe is married to a woman named Margaret and they have a one year old daughter, "Lacey". Also living in the household is another man Hiram "Folck". Both Adam and Hiram are listed as a "railroad repair hand". The census record is dated July 16, 1870.

John Adam and Margaret (Fulk) Abe
(child is unknown)

     Who was this Margaret? The first record I have found to identify her is her daughter Lacy Ann's death certificate. There it lists her mother as Margaret Fulk, born in Rockingham County, VA.
     Margaret Fulk was the daughter of Isaac and Melvina (Cherryhomes) Fulk. She was born about (78)July 22, 1843 in Rockingham County, Virginia. Her birth was calculated from information found on her her headstone. The (79)1860 Census for Rockingham County, VA says that the family was living in "District 1, Harrisonburg Post Office". Members in this household are Isaac and Melvina along with children, Catherine, Margaret, William, Ellen, Hiram, John and Asher. The (80)1870 Census lists the area as "Brock's Gap Township, Harrisonburg, VA Post Office". Here it lists Isaac, Melvina, John and Samuel. The (81)1880 Census lists the area as "Plains District" with Isaac, Melvina, John R. and Samuel A. living there.
     Central voting places for Brock's Township were at the town of Fulk's Mill and Wittig's Store. They were located on or near both ends of what's known today as Brocks Gap Road. Wittig's Store was located in Dovesville, VA (now known as Bergton, VA).This road was the central passage east and west across the area.
      In the Mineral County Birth Records we find on (82)September 16, 1867 a child, Martha Ellen is born to John Adam and Margaret Abe. In the Mineral County Death Records, this same child dies on (83)May 25, 1868 of "Fits" (seizures). It is uncertain where the child was buried. (UPDATE: This first child is believed buried in the Abe Cemetery where he and his second wife are buried.) Three other known children are born to them; Lacy Ann, Isaac Franklin and Amanda Melvina.
     On April 17, 2010, I made a trip to Rockingham County, Virginia in search of where Margaret was buried. I stopped by the Brock's Gap Heritage Days exhibit at the Fulks Mill Elementary School. From there I was directed to the cemetery a couple miles west. The cemetery sits behind a house along Brock's Gap Road. The (78)Fulk-Fawley Cemetery has many graves marked only by field stones with no markings. There I found Margaret's headstone, the only "original" commercial headstone in the cemetery. The exact location of the grave could not be determined. The headstone and foot stone were broken off and leaning against a tree. The stone read "Margaret G. wife of Adam Abe". This really was the area of Virginia that Margaret was from.
     So how did a man from Mineral County meet up with and marry a woman from Rockingham County Virginia about 75 miles away. Keep in mind this was the middle 1860's where there was limited modes of transportation; horse, stagecoach and railroad.
     I am inclined to believe that John Adam met up with Margaret on the way home from New Market, VA after his (34)release from the Civil War on April 20, 1865. Maybe fate would have it that he stopped off at a farm house the very first night and it just happened to be where Margaret lived. The area he would have traveled would fit, as well as the time period. Brock's Gap Road would be the closest and most likely road to travel to the valley west of the Appalachian Mountains which would lead him north to home in what is now Mineral County, WV. The time period is correct with a window of about eight months between his release from military service and the approximate time of his marriage. This would leave nine months till the birth of their first child, Martha Ellen, if Margaret conceived right away. The window would be smaller if she didn't.  All four known children were born in Mineral County, WV so they either lived in Mineral County or close by. With the (69)1870 Census showing them living in Cumberland, Allegany County, MD it is possible that Margaret could have been taken to the Abe Farm when she neared the time to give birth. The farm was about 9-10 miles away.

Margaret (Fulk) Abe Headstone

(See below for headstone information)

     It hasn't been determined when he started working on the railroad. What's interesting is that Margaret's younger brother Hiram is living with them and working on the railroad in (69)1870. Did he start work on the railroad around the time he married Margaret or did Adam bury the first child in the Rockingham County Cemetery and connect up with Hiram and the railroad then? (UPDATE: This first child is believed buried in the Abe Cemetery where he and his second wife are buried.) If he was always a railroad "repair hand", this would also explain his movement from Rockingham County, VA to Cumberland, MD. He would be following the tracks doing repairs as needed.
     Cousin, Ronald "Shot" Abe, uncovered information in Martinsburg, Berkley, WV that shows John Adam built a very small house there. It is most likely the family only lived here a very short time with all children being born in Mineral County, WV. The marriage record for John Adam and Margaret's daughter, Amanda Melvina, lists her birth place as Berkley County, West Virginia so this would put the family there about 1872.

Martinsburg, WV House

     Almost nothing is known about Adam and Margaret after 1870. The (13)1982 "Abe Family Heritage" says that Margaret died giving birth to their last child. The last recorded child for them was Amanda Melvina, born in 1871. No death record has been found but Margaret's headstone says she died on July 10, 1874. If she did die in childbirth there may now be two children buried with her in Rockingham County, VA. No record of the death of this second child has been found. Maybe because of complications in childbirth, the child was never born.
     (78)Margaret's headstone reads as follows:

Margaret G.
wife of
Adam Abe
daughter of
Isaac Fulk
Aug. 11, 1874
31 years and 20 days

Footstone: M.G.A.

     After the death of Margaret, Adam is found living in Mineral County, West Virginia.

     .........Parts 2 and 3 to follow..........

Saturday, July 10, 2010

John Adam Abe Goes To War 10-017

     It's uncertain if he made it home for Christmas or even for New Years Day but John Adam was a free man again. After nearly 4 months at the Camp Chase Prison Camp I'm sure he wasted little time heading back to the home place. It would be good to settle back in to the regular family routine on the farm. A time to ponder what happened and what was ahead.
     Prisoners were usually transported to the closest point near their home that was accessible by train or boat. With Camp Chase located at Columbus, Ohio it would be pretty easy to put him on a train to Cumberland, MD. Rail traffic went west from Cumberland through southern Ohio to Cincinnati and also north from Cumberland to Pittsburg, PA and then west to around Columbus and then southwest to Cincinnati.
     I wonder what went through his mind when he found out that older brother Philip had enlisted with the Confederate Cavalry. How did his parents and the rest of the family feel about the whole Civil War situation since his arrest? More importantly, what feelings were now bottled up within his own mind?
     We don't know of any events that took place after his release on (73)December 22, 1862 to December 31, 1863 but on (34)January 1, 1864 Adam started the new year off by enlisting in the 11th Virginia Cavalry at Mt. Jackson, VA. He arrived with his own horse and may have been lucky enough to ride him his whole military service. The records listed below don't show him as losing one in battle. This was the same military division that Philip had enlisted in on October 15, 1862.

(34)(11th Virginia Cavalry, 2nd Edition, 1989, by Richard L. Armstrong -
The Virginia Regimental Histories Series lists the following military information)
      John Adam Abee - Pvt., Co. D. b.c. 1845. Prior service, Co. C, 77th Va. Militia. Arrested as a citizen, for aiding the rebels, 8/8/62. Desc. 8/8/62: age 17 1/2, 5’8”, dark comp., dark hair and black eyes, a farmer residing in Hampshire Co., W. Va. Enl. Mt. Jackson, 1/1/64. Had his own Horse. Present 1/1/64-4/30/64. Paroled, New Market, 4/20/65. Desc.: age 20 5’8”, dark comp., dark hair and gray eyes. Brother to Frederick and Michael Abe. NFR. (pg. 117)
     Pvt. Co. D. Correct spelling of name is Abe. b.c. 1845. Age 15, Patterson Depot, Hampshire Co., W. Va. 1860 census. Brother of Philip Abe. (pg. 211)

     He served with the cavalry group until April 20, 1865 when he was paroled at New Market, VA at about the age of about 19 or 20. Now all he had to do was to travel about 75 miles to get back home.

     UPDATE:  (115)New John Adam Abe 11th Va. Cavalry Records and (116) P.O.W. records are now posted for your viewing.  These records add to but do not change anything already published.

Monday, July 5, 2010

John Adam Abe.....Citizen P.O.W. 10-016

     John Adam Abe was the second child born to Nicholas and Lacy Ann (Long) Abe. His birth was about 1844 on the Abe Farm on the Old Furnace Road. No exact date has been found but the (70)1900 Census for Hampshire County, WV lists his birth as December 1944. I'm sure he grew up, as most young men of that time did, working the chores of farm life until the start of the American Civil War.
     The first shots of the Civil War were fired on January 10, 1861 when South Carolinians on Morris Island fired on the Union ship "Star of the West" as it attempted to reinforce Major Anderson at Fort Sumter.
     Adam's brother, Philip, became the first member of the family to enlist on (34)October 15, 1862 at Green Springs, VA at the age of 19 years and 5 months. It is very likely an incident that took place two months prior that had an influence on his decision to do so.
      The circumstances that led up to the incident would be only a matter of speculation so we won't stray too far down that path. On (73)August 8, 1862 Union Soldiers, of the Potomac Home Guard,  stationed in Cumberland, MD, crossed the Potomac River and marched down the Old Furnace Road to the Abe Farm. There they placed John Adam Abe under arrest. Why not Philip, his older brother, or younger brother Frederick? Why not his father Nicholas? Along with Adam Abe, five other persons were taken into custody the same day. They were John Long and his sons Noah and Nelson and also Jerome McKenzie (McKinzie or McKinsey) and his son Jonathan Oliver. Again there are more questions. What could the members of three different families have done to cause their arrest by the military? The only indication of the charges is in (34)"The Virginia Regimental Histories Series" book "11th Virginia Cavalry" 2nd Edition by Richard L. Anderson and published in 1989 which says that he was arrested for "aiding the rebels". It still doesn't specifically say what they did.
     We do know that John Long and his sons were a half uncle and half cousins to Adam Abe. They are children and grandchildren of Adam's maternal grandfather and his first wife. The McKenzie father and son also lived close by at (76)"Dwelling #1449" in the 1850 Census. The Abe Farm was at (3)"Dwelling #1474". The John Long residence was at (77)"Dwelling #1485". It is conceivable to say that whatever took place to cause his arrest that all six of them were there together, maybe in Cumberland, MD. Did they say something against the Union? Were they defending the South? Cumberland was a mixture of sympathizers for both sides but the Union held the city. Did someone else turn them in and if so who was it? More questions for us to ponder.
     (73)No matter what happened six men and boys were taken as Prisoner Of War by the 2nd Regiment, Maryland Infantry, Potomac Home Brigade (stationed at Cumberland, Maryland) and transferred to Wheeling (still VA at this time). From there they were moved to a prison camp in Camp Chase, Ohio. John Adam was transferred there on August 20, 1862 as Prisoner #764. A incarceration record for Camp Chase prison describes him as "Adam Abe, age 17 1/2, 5'8" tall, Black eyes, Dark hair and Dark complexion - A citizen of Hampshire County, VA, Captured on August 8, 1862. Received from Wheeling, VA by order of Major Joseph Darr - Provost Marshal". His release record, dated December 22, 1862 says his condition of release was to take the "Oath of Allegiance" to the Union and report to Major Darr. I guess Major Darr gave him a final set of warnings and what was required of him after release. When he is released, John Adam Abe has spent nearly 5 months as a P.O.W. 

    UPDATE: Newly found (116) John Adam Abe P.O.W. Records are now published for your viewing. See also the post "They Abandoned the 77th Virginia Militia 11-004". This posting gives a little more information on why John Adam was taken as a P.O.W. These records add to but do not change anything already published. 

     UPDATE: A signed (116)statement, by John Adam, on December 23, 1862 states that for his condition of release he would within 15 days of the date, file a $1000.00 bond with the Clerk of Court in Hampshire County, WV. This would have been in Romney, WV. This bond would be the guarantee that he would not fight for the Confederacy during the time of his probation. A large bond like this would most likely have to be backed by the family farm as collateral. This would explain why John Adam waited a whole year before he joined his brother, Philip, in the 11th Virginia Cavalry. If he violated his probation, the family would risk losing the farm. He also, within the 15 day time period, would have to repay the cost of his transportation from the P.O.W. camp in Wheeling, WV to Cumberland, MD.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Philip Abe Cemetery 10-015

     When Philip purchased the plot of land next to his old home place you can just imagine the excitement that comes with owning your own property. I am sure there was a lot of hard work ahead for them from clearing the land and building a house and barn to planting and harvesting crops. Their sixth child Harmon Seefers was born there in September of 1887. They were well on the way to a full and happy life.
     Sadly two years later, after the birth of the seventh child Alfred, family tragedy began to strike. Alfred died of whooping cough at the age of one month. Two years later their eighth and nineth children, Walter T. and Morris (Maurice is listed on his headstone), died of Brain Fever (most likely meningitis or encephalitis). Walter was two and one half and Morris was one month old. They died within eight days of each other. A tenth child, Gertrude, died at the age of one month a year after that. It is unknown what caused her death. They all were buried in a small plot on the farm.
     I haven't found any records on them but two more children, Florence I. and Bessie May are also buried there. They were Philip and Annie's fourteenth and fifteenth children. Almost all information on the headstones is unreadable. I was able to read Florence's death date as September 6, 1901.
     Annie Elizabeth (Largent) Abe was buried there after her death on April 27, 1914. Philip followed after his death on April 29, 1920. The last of the family buried there was Harmon Seefers in 1939. What's interesting is that he was also the first child born on the farm. Photos and inscriptions are as follows:

Philip Abe
May 21, 1843
Apr. 29, 1920

Annie E.
July 9, 1856
Apr. 27, 1914

Their toils are past,
their works are done.
They fought the fight,
the victory won.

(Inscription on monument base lists J. B. Williams Co., Cumberland, MD as carver.)

     The headstone is about 5 foot tall. The inscription is as listed above. The stone sits in the center of the cemetery in the back. Philip is buried on the left of the stone monument and Annie is on the right as you face the front of the monument. To the left of Philip’s grave is a son Hermon Seefers.

JUNE 19, 1939
(For some reason the stone was carved wrong.
It should be Harmon instead of Herman.)

In front of the above stones the following are from left to right:

 Alfred A. Abe
Son of
P. and A. E. Abe
Feb. 8, 1889
Died Mar. 14, 1889
(f.s. A.A.A.)

Walter T.
Son of
P and A. E. Abe
Mar. x1, 1890
Sept. 6, 1892
(f.s. W.T.A.)
(Defect in the stone and years of wear at that spot
make the complete birth day unreadable.)

Son of
P and A. E. Abe
Aug. 18, 1891
Sept. 8, 1892
(f.s. M.A.)
(There is a defect in the stone almost exactly like the stone of Walter T.’s.
The date is readable though.)

Dau. of
P. and A. E. Abe
Apr. 29, 1893
May 14, 1893
(f.s. G.A.)

Florence I .
Dau. of
P and A. E. Abe
xxx.  29, 189x
Sept. 6, 1901
(f.s. F.I.A.)
(Inscription is on top of the square block stone.)

Bessie M.
xxxx xx
(Inscription is on top of the square block stone.)

     Florence I . and Bessie M.’s headstones have the inscriptions on the top of a square block. This has made them susceptible to the weather and wear is considerable.
     The cemetery can be located  between 100 and 150 yards from the house at the end of the road. It is located to the right of a very deep gully and to the left and below the revenants a barbed wire fence. The cemetery is about half way between the house and a road that circles from the house on the left side straight down and then around to the right below the cemetery. It is easier to find by following the road to the left of the house and coming up to the cemetery from the bottom. A GPS device is recommended.

GPS Coordinates are:
39° 33.651 N    078° 46.511 W
39.56083° N    078.77519° W

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Philip Abe 10-014

Philip and Annie Elizabeth (Largent) Abe

     Philip Abe was born the first son of Nicholas and Lacy Ann (Long) Abe on (15)May 21, 1843 on the Abe Farm in Mineral County, WV. From information we know at this time, he was the first child of the John A. Abe line born on American soil. His name is first found in the (3)1850 census. He grew up living and farming on his grandfather and father's farm until (33)(34)October 15, 1862 when he enlisted in the 11th Virginia Cavalry of the Confederate Army. He had already been a member of the 77th Virginia Militia (a local military group). Twenty five members of this group were incorporated into the 11th Virginia Cavalry, in the early part of the war.

(11th Virginia Cavalry, 2nd Edition, 1989, by Richard L. Armstrong - The Virginia Regimental Histories Series lists the following military information)

     Philip Abee - Pvt., Co. D. b.c. 5/21/1843. Prior service, Co. C, 77th Va. Militia. Enl. Green Springs, 10/15/62. Ab. 1/1/63-2/28/63, detailed 2/17/63 to go to Hampshire Co., W. Va. after a horse. Present, 5/1/63-10/31/63, had his own horse. Present, 12/31/63-4/30/64, had his own horse. Paroled, Winchester, 4/19/65. Desc. age 22, 5’6”, dark comp., dark hair and gray eyes. d. 4/30/1920. Bur. Family Cem., Old Furnace, W. Va. (pg. 117)
     Pvt. Co. D. Correct spelling of name is Abe. b.c. 1844. Age 16 farmer, Patterson Depot, Hampshire Co., W. Va. 1860 census. Brother of Frederick, John A., and Michael T. Abe (pg. 211)

     The original (6)"Abe Family Heritage" published on 1982 says that he married a "Polly Hamilton". The (22)1870 Census lists her as "Mary". The (35)birth record for their son, Edward Randolph, also lists her as "Mary". Edward's (36)marriage record calls her "Pollie".  The (22)1870 census says she was born in Maryland but I have not been able to find out where. Philip apparently married soon after being paroled from military service on 4/19/1865 because on July 29, 1866, a son , Edward Randolph was born. Edward's (35)birth record says he was born in Mineral County, West Virginia so the family possibly lived on or near the home place for a short time. The (22)1870 Census for Allegany County, Maryland shows the family living in the Flintstone area.
     A deed found at the Allegany County Courthouse in Cumberland, MD shows that Philip and Annie (201)purchased a property lot in Shriver's Addition in South Cumberland on October 5, 1874 for (210.00) two hundred and ten dollars. The property was purchased from Anthony J. and Mary Shriver.
     The original (6)"Abe Family Heritage" book also says that Mary died in 1878 when Edward was about 12 years of age. No death records have been found.
     About 1879, Philip remarried to Annie Elizabeth Largent from Little Cacapon, West Virginia.  On (23)June 11, 1880 the Census for Allegany County, Maryland shows the family living on German Lane (now Third Street) in Cumberland, Maryland. Their first four children were born there.
     The (32)Warren Glass Works began operations in South Cumberland in 1880 and Philip worked there for a period of time as a glassblower. The factory was located between Queen Street and the railroad tracks and was in operation until 1888 when the factory was moved to Uniontown, PA.
     Fifteen children were born to this union: Laura Victoria (1880-1951), Herbert Ashby (1881-1970), Joseph Hampton (1882-1949), Grover “Cleve” Cleveland (1884-1968), Cora Bell (1886-1948), Harmon Seefers (1887-1939), Alfred A. (1889-1889), Walter T. (1890-1992), Maurice “Morris” (1891-1892), Gertrude 1893-1893), Clayton (1894-1976), Myra Elinor (1896-1978), Missouri Forest (1898-1947), Florence I. (?-1901) and Bessie May (?-?).
     Around 1885 Philip had to quit glassblowing because of glass dust build-up in his lungs. It was also around this time that he and Annie (201)sold the lot in Shriver's Addition. The lot was sold to Sarah A. House and  William Siebert as joint owners for the sum of (500.00) five hundred dollars on April 11, 1885.
     It seems that Philip and Annie were now living in Alaska (now Fort Ashby), Mineral County, West Virginia for a short time because their fifth child Cora Belle was listed as born there. Philip would soon  purchased a 160 acre plot of land from Col. John Armistead Robinson. This would have happened before (30)February 1889 when Philip and Annie's one month old child, Alfred was buried on the farm. The property joined the original Abe Home Place on the Old Furnace Road. He farmed there until his wife Annie Elizabeth died on (29)April 27, 1914. (30)She was buried on the farm where six of their children were already buried. In 1918 he sold the farm to his son Harmon. In (27)January 1920 the census for Mineral County, West Virginia lists Philip as living with his son, Joseph on Knobley Road.
     The Mineral County Death Records say he (28)died on April 30, 1920. His headstone says the death day was April 29th. At the time of death he was 76 years of age and was buried with his wife and six children on the farm.

Philip Abe and his dog “Shep”

The girl is Clara Willard a friend of Philip’s daughter, Cora Belle
The farm spring house is in the background
Picture was most likely taken around 1910.
 (31)Philip Abe's Will
     I, Philip Abe of Mineral County West Virginia being of sound and disposing mind do make and publish this my last Will and Testament.
     First and principaly I comit my soul into the hands of Almighty God, and my body to be decently buried at the discretion of my executor hereinafter named, and after my debts and funeral expenses are paid, I give and bequeath as follows:
     To my son Edward R. Abbe I give and bequeath the sum of five dollars
     To my son Joseph H. Abbe I give and bequeath the some of five dollars.
     All my remaining property I give and bequeath in equal shares to my children named as follows:
Herbert A. Abbe, Grover C. Abbe, Harmon S. Abbe, Clayton Abbe, Laura Branson, Cora Poffinburger, Mira V. Abbe, Missouri Abbe and I hereby appoint Herbert Abbe and David Branson as the executors will power of sale of this my last Will and Testament in testimony whereof I have hereunto signed my name and affixed my seal on the 19th day of April 1920.

Philip Abe (seal)

Signed, sealed and declared by the above named testator, as and for his last will and testament in our presence, who in his presence and the presence of each other, have signed our names as witnesses thereto.

No spelling has been corrected in will.
Photograph taken of will did not allow viewing of bottom part of will.

In Civil War Record above, Frederick and Michael T. are cousins to Philip, not his brothers. 

UPDATE:  New Civil War records for Philip Abe are now ready for viewing. See post "They Abandoned the 77th Virginia Militia 11-004" and also Records #0117, 0118, 0119 and 0120. These records add to but do not change anything already published.

The "Vulcan Furnace" 10-013

     In the deed for property transferred to "Gustus" Abe from Joseph Pancoast and his wife Rebecca, we find the following excerpt:

"...more or less Reserving the right of user of land on which the Furnace building is erected, and the Steam Engine and Boilers, and fixtures are located and being; to the Extent of one acre of ground alone measured and laid off around said furnace, Engine, Boilers and fixtures, including as part of said acre the land on which the same are located and erected; until the same are removed or taken away, at the option of said Joseph Pancoast and his assigns, and with the right to remove and take away the same at pleasure. Together with all and singular the covenants, hereditaments and appertinances thereto belonging, or appertaining ---- and the said Joseph Pancoast covenants that he will warrant specially the premises hereby granted and sold, to said Gustus Abe, his heirs and assigns, in fee simple."

      The furnace, steam engine, boilers and fixtures mentioned in this deed were the remnants of an era of manufacturing that pretty much had come to an end, at least in this particular design. It's large triangular shaped mouth and huge stone construction still stands majestically against the bank as a monument of that era. It sits about 100-150 yards off of Route 28 on the Old Furnace Road near Short Gap, West Virginia. This particular furnace became the namesake of the Old Furnace Church of the Brethren and the remnants and ground on which it stands are owned by the church across the road.
     The book "History of The Manufacture of Iron In All Ages" by James M. Swank, (published in 1892) mentions this furnace. Here it was called the  "Vulcan Furnace". These furnaces designed to produce pig iron were originally fired by charcoal and then bituminous coal. This furnace began using coke in the process about 1858. The bituminous coal most likely was hauled in from the Frostburg, MD area where large quantities of the product was being mined.
     Coke is usually produced from coal; the process is called coking.
     Volatile constituents of the coal including water, coal-gas, and coal-tar are driven off by baking in an airless furnace or oven at temperatures as high as 2,000 degrees Celsius. This fuses together the the fixed carbon and residual ash. Most modern facilities have "by product" coking ovens. Today, the volatile hydrocarbons are mainly used, after purification, in a separate combustion process to generate energy. Non by-product coking furnaces or coke furnaces (ovens) burn the hydrocarbon gases produced by the coke-making process to drive the carbonization process.
     Bituminous coal must meet a set of criteria for use as coking coal, determined by particular coal assay techniques. These include moisture content, ash content, sulfur content, volatile content, tar, and plasticity. The greater the volatile matter in coal, the more by-product can be produced, but too low or too high a level of volatile matter in the coal results in inferior coke produced in respect to coke quality properties. It is generally considered that levels of 26-29 % of volatile matter in the coal blend is good for coking purposes. Thus different types of coal are proportionally blended to reach acceptable levels of volatility before the coking process begins.
     Coke is used as a fuel and as a reducing agent in smelting iron ore in a blast furnace. Since smoke-producing constituents are driven off during the coking of coal, coke forms a desirable fuel for stoves and furnaces in which conditions are not suitable for the complete burning of bituminous coal itself. Coke may be burned with little or no smoke under combustion conditions, while bituminous coal would produce much smoke.
     It is uncertain exactly when this "Vulcan Furnace" discontinued production but it appears that it's manufacturing life was over by December 1868, when the property on which the furnace sat was sold off to Gustus Abe.