Harveys Lake
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The Legendary Frank Meighan: 'Santa,' Philosopher, Hermit
[Wilkes-Barre Record]
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'Santa' Meighan Stories


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'Santa' Drowns at Lake

Reprinted from the Wilkes-Barre Record June 29, 1937

Frank “Santa Claus” Meighan, 76, hermit philosopher of Laketon, drowned last night at 9 in Harvey’s Lake, when he fell and hit his head on a tree while taking his nightly walk along the shore, near the picnic ground.

His fall was witnessed by three unidentified little girls, who told a motorist a man had slipped while walking along the shore, hit his head against a tree and then toppled into the water.

frank meighan

The motorist, who, like the little girls left the scene during the excitement, ran to picnic ground for a boat and lights.

Chief of Police Ira Stevenson reported the body was recovered from eight feet of water by Leo Rowan, a young man who set out from the picnic ground in a rowboat when he heard the alarm.

For nearly two hours Chief Stevenson, Dr. Harry Brown of Lehman and first aid workers applied artificial respiration. An oxygen respirator was obtained from Sandy Beach. Chief Stevenson estimated Meighan was in the water 15 minutes before he was brought to the surface.

Meighan, known to Chief Stevenson as “Sankie,” short for Santa Claus, was born in McAdoo, Schuylkill County, six weeks before the outbreak of the Civil War. He lived most of his life in Wyoming Valley.

He served three years as keeper at Luzerne County prison an was a member of Parsons School Board. He held these posts between 1885 and 1890.

During an interview with a Record reporter in March “Sankie” asserted he drove the first suburban electric car. He said that it went from Wilkes-Barre to Plains and he named Frank LaBar as the conductor. He said in the winter when the snow was deep they would start the run at 6 in the morning and get back at nightfall.

The victim also identified himself at time as the only living witness to the Red Nose Mike murders of McClure and Flannigan in October 19, 1889. He said he helped put the dead men in the patrol wagon.

A resident of Laketon for more than - 10 years, Meighan was much in demand during the summer as a gardener and general yard man for owners of summer homes.

During the long winter nights he wrote short stories, poems and comment, but would never give permission to anyone to have them published.

A son, who with other members of the family lives in Miners Mills, went to the morgue of Ralph Brickel at Dallas to identify the body. The son was notified by city police.


Copyright 2006-2007 F. Charles Petrillo

Copyright 2006-2008 F. Charles Petrillo