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city, seat (1851) of Schuylkill county, east-central Pennsylvania, U.S. It is situated at the gap of the Schuylkill River through Sharp Mountain, on the southern edge of the Pennsylvania anthracite-coal region, 35 miles (56 km) northwest of Reading. The first settlers were massacred (1780) by Indians; other settlers arrived in 1800 and became engaged in iron production. John Pott, for whom the city was named, acquired and expanded the iron works shortly after his arrival in 1806 and laid out the town in 1816. With the discovery of coal in the vicinity, Pottsville became a boom town. In the 1860s and '70s it was a rallying point for the Molly Maguires, a secret miners' society that struggled to improve mining conditions, often with violent methods; a trial in Pottsville (1877) resulted in six hangings and numerous prison sentences of suspected members of the society.