Historical Association of Tobyhanna Township

HATT | PO Box 2084 | Pocono Pines, PA 18350-2084

CAMP COMFORT
Researched and written
By Penny Antrim
Research assistant Linda Beal
February 2014

During the early 20th century, families in Pocono Pines enjoyed a now long-forgotten area, which they fondly named Camp Comfort. Situated on Firehouse Road and across from where the Clymer Library (formerly the firehouse) now stands, this area is listed as number 19/9/1/26 on the current Monroe County tax map of Tobyhanna Township.

Camp Comfort was located on a plot of approximately five or so acres of rocky, wooded land which provided a pleasant summer vacation spot for folks who mostly came from the Lehigh Valley, more specifically Allentown, Bethlehem and Hellertown areas.

These early vacationers who came to gain relief from the heat of the cities and to enjoy the refreshing summer breezes in the tall, cool pines of the Pocono Mountains were mostly of Pennsylvania Dutch origins. They traveled by rough roads up the mountains by horse and buggy and, during the earliest years, camped with their families in tents on weekends and, in some instances, for a week or more at a time.

The Cottages


As years went by, most probably during the early 1900s, they began to build small summer cottages on the site. Six cottages can still be seen. A seventh burned down many years ago.

Photo1
Three Camp Comfort cottages, viewed from Firehouse Road, in 2011. The owner is gradually rebuilding the cottages.

There were originally four cottages facing Firehouse Road. Of these, three remain standing and can be seen from the road.

Three additional cottages are standing behind these on what is now called John Street (formerly Doney Road). The cottage that is gone stood between the little stone wall and the first cottage closest to John Street. Ownership, of course, has changed throughout the years.

Photo2
Three Camp Comfort cottages on John Street, rear view.

The research for this monograph dates back to a deed dated May 12, 1886, when Michael M. Kistler sold the acreage to Elizabeth Smiley, wife of James Smiley, for $300. Additional research needs to be pursued in order to document exactly how the pursuant transactions came about; however, it appears that 25 years later, on Oct. 13, 1911, for $750, Mrs. Smiley deeded her land to Benjamin Haas, Myron C. Kline, and Elwood Adams who may have been related to her in some way.

Photo6
Exposed original wood plank sidewalls, later covered by asbestos shingles.

In 1939, when Myron Kline died, his widow, Cora E. Kline and their children, Helen Henry, Lottie Shoemaker, and Frank C. Kline inherited his share.

This is where the transactions grow a bit murky. From courthouse records it appears that this little group of families and their heirs occupied this relatively small area known as Camp Comfort all throughout the first half of the 20th century. Elwood S. Adams and his wife appear to have been the only remaining folks from that time period when in 1955, in a recorded indenture, they received sole ownership from Paul E. and Myrtle Haas for $4,650.

Photo3
Rear of cottage facing Firehouse Road

In 1969, the property was sold to Ernest J. Haseney and his wife, Carolyn A., from College Point, N.Y., for $42,000. In 1978, the Haseneys sold the property to Millard and Judith Mertz of White Haven, Pa. They in turn sold it to Ali Ihsan Turan of New York in 1984 for $73,000. It was during this ownership that many of the original remaining beautiful, tall pine trees were cut down.

PHOTO 4

Photo4
Middle, rear cottage facing John Street

The Residents of Camp Comfort


Having spoken with several local long-time residents who are able to remember hearing stories from parents and grandparents about the days of Camp Comfort, we learned that “Three gentlemen came with their families and stayed in tents in the stony field. They teased the local children telling them they were gypsies.”

After the early ‘tent period,’ probably the late 19th century through the 1920s, the owners of the land built the small cottages and rented them out for the summer. The three families rented out all of the cottages save one which their families kept and shared during the rental season. One of the cottages was rented each year to a physician and his wife who spent their summers in Camp Comfort.

Mr. Tropea, the current owner, retains possession of some of the old rental signs from that period.

Another story is that after the cottages had been built, the women who were sisters described as “short little old ladies with their white hair tied back,” arrived early in the springtime in order to clean the cottages and prepare them for the rental season. One memory is of the women “whitewashing all of the large stones on the property with lime” which seems to have been a popular custom of that time. The children of a neighboring family looked forward to springtime each year when they were allowed to help the women with this springtime whitewashing ritual. What fun they had!

Photo1A
Original postcard showing Camp Comfort

There is a description of a fence with a gate along the front of the cottages. Above the gate hung a sign which read, “Camp Comfort,” the name these folks had given to their beloved summer vacation spot, much as folks still do today all over Pocono vacation communities. Recently added to the HATT archives is a postcard from that era (above) showing the Camp Comfort sign in front of the cottages.

Photo5
Sign promoting the renaming under new ownership.

Later, during the second half of the 20th century when all of the original owners and descendents of Elizabeth Smiley were no longer living in Camp Comfort and when ownership was in the hands of Ernest and Carolyn Hastened, the name on the sign was changed to “Tall Pines.” The present owner still retains possession of this sign.

Life at Camp Comfort


Camp Comfort owners and their renters appear to have enjoyed entertaining other summer folks from their Firehouse Road neighborhood.

In her diary dated June through October 1926, Emma Heilman, a summer resident on Pioneer Street, recently renamed John Street, refers to their visits with “Mr. Jones, a guest staying at Camp Comfort.”

Edwin Miller, a neighboring summer owner/resident, traveled up the rugged mountains by horse and buggy to Pocono Pines from the Lehigh Valley in the early 20th century. He is reported to have brought Boy Scouts to enjoy summer camping in tents at Camp Comfort and, in the evenings, he gave “magic lantern” shows for everyone to enjoy. He is the first to have built a cottage on what is now called Sweet Pea Lane off of Route 423 across from Lake Naomi.

Of all the Camp Comfort settlers from the late 19th and early 20th century, Elwood Adams is the only resident who is still remembered by local folks. He owned the Camp Comfort Cottage closest to the school.

The cottage was much like the others; however, to please his new wife, Mr. Adams put a new brick facing on his cottage and was the first to install indoor plumbing in his home in Camp Comfort. Mr. Adams was a machinist employed by the Mack Truck Company in Allentown. He and his wife retired to their Pocono Pines cottage and lived there full-time until he sold it in 1969.

Except for the brick-faced cottage which was occupied by Mr. Turan, the remaining five cottages were unoccupied and fell into relative disrepair for many years until the current owner, Frank J. Tropea, a local man, acquired it for $36,000. He now occupies the brick-faced cottage and has begun implementing plans to restore the others.

Photo7 Photo8
Original signs preserved. (Courtesy of Frank Tropea)


SOURCES
  • Monroe County Office of the Recorder of Deeds
  • Ancestry.com
  • Map from the estate of Russel L. and Mary E. Peters, from Lehigh County, Pa., and Pocono Pines
  • Camp Comfort postcard, HATT archives, courtesy: Bob Wilson
  • Diary of Emma Heilman

Interviews with the following residents of Pocono Pines
  • Mary Peters, deceased
    Polly Schell, deceased
    Robert (Sonny) Fisher
    Jack Major
    James Wilson
    Virginia (Sis) Hafner Mulligan
    Frank Tropea
    Anna Hawk Yaskoe