George H. (George Henry) Thurston.

Allegheny county's hundred years online

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Completed April 1888.


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Siir\(if ed Yekf^.

— BY


A. A. Anderson & Son, Book and Job Printers, 99 Fifth Avenue.







Chapter, Page.

I. From 1754 to 1788, I

II. From 1788 to 1794, 24

III. From 1794 to 181 1, . . . 34

IV. From 181 1 to 1845, 43

V. From 1845 to i860, 54

VI. From i860 to 1865, 58

VII. From 1865 to 1878, . • 81

VIII. From 1878 to 1888, ......... 93

IX. Boat Building in Allegheny County, 99^

X. Coal and Coke Trade, ........ 121

XI. Iron and Steel Trade, . . . . . . . . .136

XII. Glass Manufacturing, 179

XIII. Natural Gas, 202

XIV. Oil Trade in Allegheny County, . . . . . . 210

XV. Copper, Lead, Brass and Tin, 218

XVI. Mercantile Interests, . . 224

XVII. From Pack Horse to Railroads, 241

XVIII. Financial Institutions, 251

XIX. Insurance Companies, ......... 280

XX. Electrical Appliances, . 286

XXI. Churches, Schools and Newspapers, . . . . . . 289

XXII. Music, Art and Benevolent Institutions, 305


This volume is not published as an elaborate history of a hundred years. It, is
simply intended as a handy book of the more prominent and leading events in Alle-
gheny county during that period. '^^^^

Nor is the narration of the growth of its industries designed to be an exhaustive
account of them, which of themselves would far outrun the pages to which the piu|)-
lisher proposed limiting this volume. As it is, the impossibility of confining within
that scope even such a condensed exhibit of Allegheny county's manufacturing pro-
gress and commercial interest, has caused it to overrun the limit prescribed. Even
then much has been omitted that there was every temptation to dilate upon, although
it is hoped that sufficient has been said to present such an account as will render the
book an acceptable souvenir of the celebration of the county's centennial

It is believed that the statistics of the various interests are nearly accurate, although
the extreme difficulty of obtaining them, from indifference or procrastination of those
that should be interested therein, has caused some of the more important industries
and mercantile interests to be incomplete in their exhibit. This, especially, in bio-
graphical data, has been discouraging. Rip Van Winkle is made to say, in Jeffer-
son's play of that name, when he wanders back to the village of Falling Water after
his twenty year's sleep, " How soon we are forgot when we are dead." Poor old
" Rip's " reflections have arisen often in the compiler's thoughts while preparing this
volume, and a sad amazement at the rush and roar and exacting demands of the
business life of to-day, sweeping with its furious current details of the lives of those
who, from family, social, or business relations should be remembered, from the minds
of those who might be expected to hold them in remembrance.

It is well for the human race, if the records of the past are of any value, that the
ait of printing was invented, for it is only in books that the lives of men, the records
of industrial progress, and the lessons of political events are preserved. Manuscripts
might have done so to some extent, but in this mighty flood of progress they would
have been no more than the birch canoe is to the huge steamers and the immense
trains of burden Cars in the transportation of the commerce of the world. Such chro-
nological record of successors of firms in the various industries of Allegheny county,
and such biographical mention as are contained in this volume are submitted not as
all that should be written, or even as in those cases complete, but as so much reserved
from the engulfing waves of time.

Keats, in his ode to the Nightingale, writes, " No hungry generations tread thee
down." The generations of to-day are hungry, not for food, but for wealth and
power, and tread upon another's heels so fast and ruthless that they trample into for-
getfulness the acts and lives of their predecessors. Memories fade, monuments decay
with years, and even solid edifices are erased before the wave of progress, but books
live. Perchance, then, something in these pages will preserve facts and memories,
else lost, valuable in the future and of interest now.

The narrator of this panoramic history of Allegheny County's Hundred Years
Years lays down his pen wondering at its growth, regretful to leave so much unsaid,
impressed with the importance the county has been in the political development of
the nation, the settlement of the west, the progress of manufacturing in the past, and
convinced, unless there is some radical change in human affairs, that prominent as
the county has been it will be more so in the future ; that great as has been its pro-
gress in the years that are gone, it will be greater in the years to come. That the
elements of manufacturing industry concentrated in and around the county, its geo-
graphical location, its transportation advantages, and the knowledge and skill ac-
quired by its great army of mechanics, must result in a development as great in the
next hundred years as in those past, unless all the factors now potent in the progress
of the world cease.

From 1754 to 1788.

From 1788 to 1888, comprises a wonderful century in the development of the
industrial arts, and the commercial faculties of the world. The century that has
witnessed the birth of the steamboat, the locomotive, the telegraph, and its cog-
nate electrical appliances. The hundred years in which man has demonstrated
his power of self government ; and a nation, that stands now the foremost of
the world, has risen to the grandeur of a leader of the nations in all that points
to a higher civilization, and a broader Christianity and the equality of man
before law and his fellows. Allegheny County has, in that century, made a
marked impress and contributed its full share in the development of the arts
whereby men earn their bread, and attain wealth. First and foremost in many of
the advances in commercial facilities it has been no laggard in those that opened
the way to a broader civilization, and the elevation of men, nor has its voice been
silent where political rights were to be maintained, or wrongs righted.

To sketch the story of Allegheny County's hundred years is to paint the pano-
rama of the march of civilization into the Ohio and Mississippi valleys. Through
her territory marched the advance columns of emigrants, and for years and years
the wharves of her great city, Pittsburgh, witnessed the embarkation of thousands
and thousands, who laid the foundation of the great western States. Her soil is
classic ground in the nation's history. On it France and England strove to hold,
the empire. On it the footsteps of men grand in history have left their impress.
To tell of the development of the industries of the nation is to describe the growth
of Allegheny County's mills, furnaces, and forges ; the progress of transportation
facilities ; and the emancipation of the nation in steel and glass and copper, from-
a tributary condition to Europe. In the latter half of the eighteenth century a
most important point in the view of rival European nations, Allegheny County, as
it rounds her hundred years, is the most prominent county in the nation of sixty
millions of people, and of marked interest to every manufacturing community in
the old world. Well may her citizens celebrate with pride her centennial year.

To establish the date at which the history of Allegheny County considered as
an integral portion of Pennsylvania begins, is difficult. Remotely it is not un-
connected with the arrival of William Penn in the new world, late in the fall of
1682, as from that time gradually cumulated the events that led up to the more
striking incidents in the earlier historic annals of the country. It is in 1744,
when hostilities were declared between France and Great Britain, that the more
salient points became apparent that tended so directly to render the territory, out
of which was finally formed Allegheny County in 1788, an important center.

To the natural transportation facilities afforded by the Ohio and its confluents
at the point of land now occupied by the city of Pittsburgh, is largely to be attri-


l)!!ted to tlie tendency of events thither. In 1744, a treaty was made witli the
Delaware Indians, by which they ceded to the king of Great Britain all the
hinds in the bounds of Virginia. In 1748, Thos. Lee, one of his Majesty's council
in Virginia, proposed forming a settlement in the wild lands west of the Alle-
gheny mountians, and he associated with himself Thomas Hanbury, a merchant of
London, and twelve other persons in Virginia and Maryland, among whom were
Lawrence and Augustus Washington, brothers of George Washington. They
formed "The Ohio Land Company," to which was ceded by the King one half
million acres of land to be taken chiefly from the territory on the south side of the
Ohio river, between the Monongahela and Kanawha rivers. Before this- date no
English residents occupied this region A few traders mingled with the tribes, but
neither occupied nor cultivated the lands. These lands were ceded on very easy
terms, which were that 200,000 acres should be immediately selected and be held
for ten years free from any quit-rent or tax to the King, on condition that 100
families should be seated upon them within seven years, at the company's expense,
a fort built, and a garrison maintained to protect the settlement. The Ohio Com-
pany appear to have erected a storehouse at Redstone creek, now Brownsville, and
to have made a small establishment at the forks of the Ohio ; but the disturbed
state of the frontier prevented them from bringing any large amount of goods
beyond the Allegheny mountains. The French war interrupted their oj^erations
entirely, and the company was, in 1770-72, merged in a more extensive one in
which Thos. W^alpole, Dr. Franklin, and Gerge Pounal were interested.

The Revolution breaking out about that time put an end to the company, and
the title to their lands was never perfected. The formation of this company is
closely allied with and provocative of some of the early events in the territory
that subsequently became Allegheny County, a portion of the lands of the Ohio
Company being now within its bounds. In 1752, Mr. Christopher Gist was sent to
explore the county. In his journal he states that he went from Virginia to the
Juniata, which he ascended, and descended the Kiskiminitis to the Allegheny.
This latter river he crossed a little below where Sharpsburg now is, and passed on
to the Ohio, and around the county on the south side of the Ohio as far as the
Kanawha. In 1752 a treaty was held with the Indians at a point called Logstown,
about fourteen miles below the present city of Pittsburgh. Soon after this treaty
Gist was directed to lay off a town and a fort near the mouth of the Chartiers

In the fall of 1753, Major George Washington was sent by Governor Dan-
widdie to report on the lands held by the vState of Virginia on the Ohio, and those
ceded in 1748 to the Ohio Company.

In his report Washington writes :

"The excessive rains and the qviantitiesof snow which had fallen prevented our
reaching Mr. Fraziers, an Indian trader at the mouth of Turtle creek on the
Monongahela river, till Tuesday, the 22d, (November.) We were informed here
that our expresses had been sent a few days before to the traders down the river,
to acquaint them with the death of the French General and the return of the


major part of the Frencli army to winter quarters. Tlie waters were quite impassa-
ble, without swimming our horses, wliicli obliged us to get the loan of a canoe from
Frazier, and to send Barnaby Currin and Harry Stewart down the Monongaliela
with our baggage to meet us at the forks of the Ohio, about ten miles, there to
cross the Allegheny. As I got down some time before the canoe, I spent some
time in viewing the rivers and the land in the forks, wiiich I think extremely
well situated for a fort, as it has absolute command of both rivers. The land at
the point is twenty to twenty-five feet above the common surface of the waters, and
a considerable bottom of flat, ivell timbered land all around it, very convenient for
building. The rivers are each a quarter of a mile or more across, and run here
very near at right angles. The former of the two is a very swift and rapid run-
ning water, the other deep and still without any preceptible fall. -^ * ^ * *
About two miles from this on the south east side of the river at the place where
the Ohio Company intend to erect a fort, lives Shingiss, King of the Delawares."

Of this residence of Shingiss, Neville B. Craig says in the Pittsburgh Gazette,
in 1841, "Our late esteemed friend, John McKee, Esq., has often pointed out the
place where Shingiss resided. It was near the river and near McKee's Rocks."

The prominence of George Washington in the history of the nation, gives an
interest to any location in'Allegheny County where he stood. On November 22d,
1753, he was at the mouth of Turtle creek, on the 23d, at the point where the
Allegheny and the Monongaliela unite. A month later, returning from his visit
to Fort Le Boeuf, in w'hat is now ^^enango County, on foot with his guide, Mr.
Gist, he was thrown from a raft while crossing the Allegheny, on December 26tli,
1753, and narrowly escaped drowning in ten feet of [water running thick with ice.
Extracting himself with great difficulty he managed to reach an island, where he
and his companion remained until morning. That island is now part of the bank
of the river, through the filling up of river channel between it and what was at
that time the shore. It was what was called " Wainright's Island" opposite the
foot of Eoptlfe^ig^ht-h 'street of the present city of Pittsburgh.

The next morning they crossed on the ice to the main land. Current old time
authorities indicate that they landed near where the Sixteenth street bridge now

At the time of the battle of Braddock's Fields, in 1755, Washington was again
an actor in the historical incidents of x4.11egheny County, and in 1770, on his return
from an examination of lands on the Kanawha, appropriated among the soldiers
who served in the French war, he spent all of the 22d of November at Fort Pitt.

From 1753, the historical events that cluster around the territory that was, in
1788, organized as Allegheny County, began to thicken. In 1753 the French were
busy in carrying out their scheme of uniting Canada and Louisiana by a line of
forts. One of these was to be located at the present site of Pittsburgh, and one at
Logstown. The one at Logstown it would appear the French had erected before,
or about the time of the building of Captain Trent's stockade at the junction of
the Allegheny and Monongaliela rivers, as the following entry in the records at
Harrisburg would indicate :

" March the 12, 1754, evidence sent to the House that Venango and Logstown,
where the French Forts are built, are m the province of Pennsylvania."


At this date there was a controversy be+ween the States of Virginia and Penn-
sylvania about the ownej'ship of the territories at and around the forks of the
Ohio. Under date of March 21, 175- Governor Dunwiddie, of Virginia, writes
to Governor Hamilton of Pennsylvania — "I am misled by our surveyors if the
forks of the Monongahela be within the bounds of Pennsylvania."

This claim was probably, in some measure, based on the ceding of lands to the
Ohio Company, composed principally of citizens in Virginia, by the King in 1748^
A double contest for that portion of territory was beginning. The French and
English were about to cross swords for it, and Virginia and Pennsylvania were
contending for it. This latter claim lasted for nearly twenty years, and was the
occasion of much angry feeling.

The letter of Governor Dunwiddie, before quoted, was dated March 21, 1754^
but a month earlier Captain Trent had begun the erection of a stockade for the
defence of the point against the threatened occupation of the territory by the
French, and possibly in protection of the Ohio Company grant, by which they
were to erect a fort for the protection of the settlers. This movement resulted
from the visit of Washington, in November of the preceding year, to examine the
lands of the Ohio Company. On his report to Governor Dunwiddie, two compa-
nies were immediately, on Washington's return to Williamsburg, Va., ordered to
the "forks" to erect a fort. One company under the command of Captain Trent,
being ready, marched promptly, and on the 17tli of February, 1754, they were
busy erecting the little stockade which was, on the 24th of April, surrendered to
Captain Contrecoeur by Ensign W^ard, then in command — Captain Trent being
away at Wills Creek, near Cumberland, and Lieutenant Frazier at his residence^
near Turtle Creek.

As mentioned previously, Mr. Gist and Col. Fry, on the part of Virginia, had
concluded a treaty with the Indians at Logstown, by which the Indians agreed not
to molest the settlements of the English on the south-east of the Ohio, but refused
to recognize any English title to the land, denying that a previous treaty at Lan-
caster had been made with their consent, or that it conveyed any land west of the
Allegheny mountains. The Ohio Company made an attempt to settle their lands
with German emigrants in an effort to carry out the condition by which the lands
were ceded to them.

The system of English episcopacy which prevailed in Virginia, and demanded
church rates from dissenters, was repulsive to the Germans, and they preferred to
settle in the province of William Penn. To the understanding at the present day,
of this apparent confusion as to the territory of Pennsylvania, it should be remem-
bered that the whole valley of the Monongahela, including the country around
the forks of the Ohio, was for many years supposed to be in Virginia. A great
part of the land titles in this region originated from patents granted by the Gover-
nors of that State.

In October, 1753, Major George Washington, then twenty-one years of age,
while on his way to the commandment of the French forces at Le Bceuf, called at


Mr. Gist's plantation, who had built himself a cabin soon after the Logstown
treaty, at a point since called Mount Braddock. Keceiving to his inquiries unsatis-
factory information as to the designs of the French, he made a report to Governor
Dunwiddie, of Virginia, who made preparations to repel their encroachments. A
regiment was raised under the command of Col. Joshua Fry, for the purpose of
■erecting a fort at the forks, of which Washington was appointed Lieutenant
Colonel, and Captain Trent's company was hurried forward to erect tlie fort, which,
as previously narrated surrendered to the French under Captain Contrecoeur, with
a force of one thousand French and Indians, he having also eighteen pieces of

Captain Contrecoeur at once began the erection of Fort Duquesne, a plan of
which is one of the illustrations of this volume. This sketch was made by Cap-
tain Strobo, who, at the surrender of Fort Necessity, at Great Meadows, by Wash-
ington, July 3d, 1754, was detained as a hostage by the French. The drawing
was made on the back of a letter written July 29th, 1754, by Captain Strobo to
Governor Morris, of Pennsylvania, and sent by an Indian, urging an attack on
the fort.

In that letter Strobo writes : " There are but two hundred men here at this
time, two hundred more are expected in a few days; the rest went off in several
detachments to the amount of one thousand, besides Indians. The Indians have
great liberty here, and go in and out when they please without notice. If one
hundred trusty Shawnees and Mingoes and Delawares were picked out they might
surprise the fort, lodging themselves under the platform behind the palisades by
day, and at night secure the guard with their tomahawks. The guard consists of
forty men only and five officers. None lodge in the fort but the guard, except
Contrecoeur, the rest in bark cabins around the fort. All this you have more
particularly in yesterday's account. La Force is greatly needed here. Let the
good of the expedition be considered before our safety. Haste to strike."

On July 9, 1755, occurred the battle between the French under Dumas and
Bsaujeu, with their Indian allies, and the English under Gen. Edward Braddock,
with which was inaugurated the effort of Great Britain to wrest from the French
the control of the west. Four days previous, on July the 5th, the French and
the Indians at Fort Diiquesne were thrown into a state of great excitement by
the report brought by out-lying scou.ts that Braddock with a formidable army was
approaching. The French commandant's force was small, and the fort incapable
of resisting the lightest field-pieces. The commandant had abandoned the idea
of resistance, when Capt. Beaujeu proposed to take a detachment of French and
Inlians and intercept Braddock on his march. The Indians declared the pro-
ject foolhardy, and declined to go. After repeated urging by Beaujeu they con-
sented. On the 7th of July Braddock was but eighteen miles distant, and on the
morning of the 9th the French and Indians marched on what was thought by
nearly all to be a hopeless expedition. This force ambushed themselves at the
point now occupied by the town of Braddock. At that time the ground was com-


pleteiy covered with forest, whicli hid from view deep ravines of ten to twelve
feet depth, in which the Frencli force conceafed themselves. Of tluir nnmbers,
JSTevilie B, Craig', in his mention of this event, while giving no account of the
battle, says: ''The lowest estimate reduces the number of white men to tv.'o hun-
dred and thirty-live, and the number of Indians to six hundred."

Gen. Braddock, with 1,200 men and officers, moved from the north side of the
Youghiogheny on the morning of the 9th. Of this Washington, who had been
ill with a fever and joined the forces on the 8th, writes in a letter written after
the battle: "On the 9th, the day of the battle, I, although very low and weak,
attended the General on horseback. The army crossed the left bank of the
Monongahela a little below the mouth of the Yorghiogheny, being prevented by
rugged hills from continuing along the right bank to the fort."

Sparks, in his "Life and Writings of General Washington," writes: "Wash-
ington was often heard to say during his lifetime that the most beautiful s]^ectacle
he had ever beheld was the display of the British trcops on this eventful morn-
ing. Every man was dressed in full uniform ; the soldiers were arranged in^
columns, marching in exact order." Captain Orme, an aid of Braddock's, in a
letter dated at Fort Cumberland, July 18, says: "The 9th inst. we passed and
repassed the Monongahela by advancing, first a party of three hundred men^
which was immediately followed by another of two liundred. The General, with
the column of artillery, baggage and main body of the army, passed the river the
last time about one o'clock. As scon as the whole had arrived on ilie fort side
of the Monongahela we heard heavy and quick firing in our front."

Colonel Burd, who leceived his information from Colonel Dunbar at P^ort Cum-
berland, writes : "The brittle began at one o'clock of the neon aid ccntinued
three hours. The enemy kept behind trees and logs of wood, and cut down our
troops as fast as they could advance. The soldiers insisted ujucli to be allowed to
take to the trees, which the General denied, and stf rmed nnich, calling them cow-
ards, and even went so far as to strike with his own swoid ftr attempting (o
take to the trees. Our flankers and many of our soldiers that did to the
trees were cut off from the fire of our own line, as they nred their platoons
wherever they saw a smoke or (ire. One-half of the army engaged never saw
ihe enemy, - s- -^ * * The General had with him all liis papers, which are
entirely fallen into the hands of the enemy, and likewise twenty-five thousand
pounds in cash. The loss of men, as nigh as Colonel Dunbar can compute at that
time, is seven hundred killed and wounded (about one-half killed) and forty

Colonel Washington writes to his mother, m July 18, from Fort Cumberland :

Online LibraryGeorge H. (George Henry) ThurstonAllegheny county's hundred years → online text (page 1 of 43)