George H. (George Henry) Thurston.

Allegheny county's hundred years online

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cussion of political economy theories, they are not inconsistent with the
character of the volume, and the very record of its progress renders a verdict to
those who read. Capital is so absolutely necessary to the existence and progress
of manufactures that low cost of money is quite as great an advantage as low-priced
labor. When Allegheny county's manufacturers first began, the labor of Europe
was cheaper even than it is to-day, and its employers enjoyed an equal advantage
in cheap money. To equalize these protection was a necessity, without which
there was nothing that would enable the manufacturer to pay the price of labor
in a new country, where its comparative scarcity enabled it to demand a higher
compensation than in Europe, and the rarity of unemployed money endowed it
with greater interest values. That is the whole story, and something to balance
this in the contests for home markets was necessary, or the home markets must


belong to the nation with the cheapest labor and the cheapest capital, else the
working masses must be forced down in their compensation to the scale of the
poorly paid European. Even then, unless interest rates for capital could be also
forced down to European rates, there was no equalization. In new countries cap-
ital, as history shows, money commands high rates of interest, and it is only by its
accumulation that it becomes cheap.

Its accumulation is the result of the development of the country's resources.
To develop these the establishment of manufactories, as all records show, is the
greatest factor, for history demonstrates that it is the manufacturing nations that
grow wealthy and acquire a superabundance of capital, while agricultural nations
remain poor. These are but trite observations, but they are, nevertheless, great
truths. Without a development of its manufacturing resources the United States
must have remained but an agricultural nation, with the consequent depressed
condition of its population that the low wages agricultural labor yields enforces.
The spirit of its form of government, which was for the elevation of the masses?
negative such a condition of labor as would prevent that.

Manufacturing became a necessity to avoid it, and protection a necessity to the
establishment of manufactures where, from the nation's condition of labor and
capital before stated, there could be no equality in those respects with competing
countries. To that protection the creation of manufacturing in Allegheny county
is due. It is, therefore, beyond question that it must continue the champion of
protection, as it has always been, and equally beyond question that without pro-
tection the furnaces, forges, foundries and all their correlative industries and iron
mills of which its population is so justly proud, would not have existed unless
perhaps, in some insignificant or impoverished coudition. That is the lesson that
is taught in the subsequent paragraphs that trace the progress during Allegheny
County's Hundred Years of its iron and steel trade.

It was in 1792 that it may be said that the first marked step toward manufa<3-
turing progress was made in the county. Previous to that minor manufactories
existed, or more strictly, workshops, where some of the cruder articles needed in
the households of a new country were made. Although they were, in one sense^
manufactures, yet not in the general acceptation of the word. In 1792, however,,
the first manufactory, in a more general sense, was established, and in the very
direction in which the county has continued to grow. In this year George
Anshutz began the erection of a blast furnace for the making of pig iron,' as before
mentioned in the general history, at a point about three miles east of Fort Pitt.
Mr. Anshutz was born near Strasburg, Alsace, France, November 27th, 1753. In
1789 he emigrated to the United States, and soon afterwards located in the suburbs
of Pittsburgh, where he built the furnace above mentioned, having been engaged
in Europe in the same business.

The non-success of this enterprise and the causes are narrated in the general
history of the county. After the abandonment of his furnace he became the
manager of the Westmoreland furnace, owned by John Probst, near Laughlins-


town, Westmoreland county. In about a year's time afterwards, Mr. Anschutz^
removed to Huntington county. Pa., and became interested and part owner of fur-
naces there. He died at Pittsburgh, February 28th, 1837, in his eighty-fourtb
year. Although the furnace erected by him was abandoned for causes already
stated, Mr. Anshutz is entitled to the honor of being the pioneer in the blast fur-
nace business of Allegheny county.

Prior to or immediately subsequent to the date of Anshutz's furnace, Wm^
Porter was actively engaged in the manufacture of iron implements needed by
emigrants who were then in numbers embarking at Pittsburgh for settlements in
Kentucky and the Northwest territory, as Ohio was then called. Just what is the
exact date at which Wm. Porter established this species of manufacturing does-
not appear in any of the early publications. It is mentioned, however, in a statis-
tical account of the manufactures of Pittsburgh, in 1803, published in Q^amer's^
Almanack, 1804, that axes, hoes, ploughs, iron chains, etc., was made, also cut and
hammered nails. As these were among the articles that emigrants would need, it
may be presumed that Wm. Porter's shop or factory had been established previous-
to the statistical account quoted. He died in 1808, and his remains are interred
in the old graveyard that surrounds the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh^
The next iron manufactory at Pittsburgh, was the foundry established in 1803 by
Joseph McClurg. This industrial establishment is doubly historical, that in it
were cast some of the cannon for Perry's fleet on Lake Erie in the war of 1812-14,.
also a portion of the balls for the guns. In 1807 three nail factories are mentioned
in Cramer's Almanack, Stringers, Stewarts, and Porters, the Wm. Porter previously
mentioned. About forty tons a year being stated as the product of the three-

In 1810 the same factories made 200 tons. The iron from which these nails-
were made, and that from which, about 1800, Wm. Porter made his implements^
was brought over the Allegheny mountains on pack horses. Of this Eupp, in his-
history of Cumberland county, says : " The pack horses used to carry bars of iron
on their backs, crooked over and around their bodies. Barrels or kegs were hung-
on either side. Col. Snyder, of Chambersburg, in a conversation with the writer^
(Eupp.) in August, 1845, said that he cleared many a day from $6.00 to |8,00 in.
crooking or bending iron, and in shoeing horses for western carriers."

The nails were made partially by machine and partially by hand, and it seems-
to have been very slow and laborious work. Nails, however, were quite extensive-
ly made at Brownsville, Fayette county, in 1795, by Jacob Bowman, who estab-
lished thie first nail factory west of the mountains, where wrought nails were made-
by hand and cut nails by machine. Fayette county was to a large extent the fore-
runner of Pittsburgh in the smelting of iron, and the casting of iron hollow ware^
and various of the cruder forms of iron ; and the first furnace west of the Alle-
ghenies was a furnace on Jacob's creek, which was put in blast November Ist^
1790. The first furnace in Allegheny county has been previously mentioned as
that of 1792. The first rolling mill in Allegheny county was erected in 1811-12^


by Christopher Cowan, a Scotch-Irishman. He had been a clerk for Wm. Porter,
and when the latter person died seems to have succeeded to his establishment.
This rolling mill, which had no puddling furnaces, was on the site of the Fourth
ward school house, at the corner of Penn avenue and Cecil alley. Of this mill
Oramer's Navigator^ for 1814, says:

" Mr. Cowan has erected a most powerful steam engine to reduce iron to var-
ious purposes. It is calculated for a seventy horse-power, which puts into com-
plete operation a rolling-mill, a slitting-mill and a tilt-hammer, all under the
came roof. This establishment furnishes sheet-iron, nail and spike rods, shovels,
tongs, spades, scythes, sickles, hoes, axes, frying-pans, cutting-knives, vises, scale-
beams, chisels, augers, etc."

In connection with the first rolling mill the following incident, as showing the
■contrasts between the methods of business intercourse then and to-day, is illustra-
tive. Mr. Cowan, who had established a branch house at Nashville, under the
<;haige of Gen. Carrol, found it necessary to communicate with him as expedi-
tiously as possible. Reuben Miller, the father of Reuben Miller, Jr., one of Pitts-
burgh's most notable citizens, was a clerk with Mr. Cowan and was selected to visit
Nashville. Starting on horse-back, as the most expeditious method, he rode on one
horse the 700 miles in thirteen days, making what was considered ^uick journey.
He used to tell that frequently he rode fifty miles without seeing a house. One
<iay, in the dusk of the evening, after such a day of solitariness, he came to a
small cabin. The inhabitants were willing to shelter him but were out of provis-
ions. That day Mr. Miller had fortunately killed a pheasant with a lucky blow
•of his heavy riding whip, so producing his bird, and his host some corn, which
they broke up finely between some stones, and making of it some corn dodgers
they roasted the pheasant and fared quite sumptuously. The contrast between
the commercial traveller of to-day in palace and dining room cars, rushing along
at a speed of as many miles an hour as Mr. Miller rode, with rapid riding, in one
'day, is illustrative of the progress of the century. Mr. Miller's journey was also a
collecting tour, and he brought his collections back in " sharp shins," what seems
to have been an elder brother of " shin plasters " born of the same financial neces-
sities, and while more reliable as to intrinsic value, must have been the source of
much worriment to a collector for a large firm. They frequently required two or
three mules to bring home their collections. In early times collections were large-
ly made in this peculiar currency. "Sharp shins" were silver coins cut into
equal parts. A thin slip was cut out of the middle of a dollar, for instance, which
tslip was retained by the cutter for his trouble. Each remaining piece was cut in-
to four parts of equal size called " levees," or eleven-penny bits, making eight le-
Tees to the dollar. Smaller pieces were cut into " bits " or " fi'penny bits," which
^ere usually a quarter of a dollar cut into four pieces.

This, while a digression from the theme of these pages, is pardonable, that it is
illustrative of those early days in which the iron trade of Allegheny county

Mr. Cowan does not appear to have long operated the mill, as according to
dramer^s Almanack, in 1814, it had been transferred to Messrs. Stackpole & Whit-


ing. In 1818, it was owned by Kuggles, Stackpole & Whiting, which firm failed
in 1819. This failure was, no doubt, occasioned by the depression following the
war of 1812-14, by which the prosperity of the county was greatly affected. So
great was the depression that in 1819, whereas, in 1815, the manufacturing
interest of Pittsl)urgli had a value of $2,617,883 and employed 1,960 persons, it
had, in 1819, fallen to a value of only $832,000 employing 672 persons. The
effects of this depression are further noted in the general history of the county..
Some time after the failure of Euggles, Stackpole & Whitney, their mill passed
into the hands of Kichard Bowen, and, in 1836, it was operated by the firm of
Smith, Eoyer & Co. They failed in the panic of 1837-8, and the works were
finally dismantled. At the time Mr. Cowan built the mill the iron manufactur-
ing establishments in Pittsburgh seem to have been very largely increased consid-
ering the size and population of the town, which, in 1813, had but 5,749 inhabitants
and there were 958 houses. In 1813 there were two "air furnaces, Joseph Mc-
Clurg's, as before mentioned, and Anthony Beelen's," and one carried on by Mr.
Price. This latter person was an eccentric Englishman of peculiar religious views^
and many other singular characteristics.

Anthony Beelen, to whom the second air furnace or foundry is credited, was a
Frenchman, justly claiming the title of Count de Beelen, of admirable business
habits and enterprising characteristics. He was one of the firm of Denny &
Beelen, who, in 1800, were the factors of the Ohio Glass Company, the proprietors
of the second glass house mentioned in the chapter on the glass trade of Pitts-

He was also, as appears from the accounts of the manufacturers of Pittsburgh
iu 1813, a proprietor of a white lead works. There was also in Pittsburgh in 1813^
an edged tool and cutlery factory, carried on by Brown, Barker & Butler ; a steam
works for making shovels, spades, and sythes, by Foster & Murray ; a lock factory*
Mr. Patterson's ; a factory for files and door handles, etc., Updegraff's ; two steam
engine works, one carried on by Stackhouse and Eodgers, the other by a Mr. Tus-
tin ; and a steel factory by Tuper & McKowan. The second rolling mill established
in the city was the " Union," which was situated on the Monongahela near where
is now the South 10th street bridge. It was built in 1818 by Wm. Robinson, Jr.^
John K. McNickle, Daniel Beltzhoover, and Henry Baldwin, afterwards United
States Judge. It made the iron for the first Allegheny river bridge, and the mak-
ing of it was the first order the firm filled. It is said that the first angle iron
rolled in the United States was rolled at this mill. The mill was dismantled and
abandoned in 1829

As a clearer presentation of the progress of the chief iron industries of Alle-
gheny county, it is perhaps better to group them in their respective classes, and
proceeding with the

Rolling Mills,

The establishment of the two first of which have already been noted, the next was
popularly called Grant's Hill Mill, from its location. This mill was built in 1821,


hy Wm. B. Hays and David Adams, under the firm style of Hays & Adams. As
the water for the use of the mill had to be hauled from the Monongahela river, it
is difficult to understand why a rolling mill should have been located there. It
does not seem to have been a success, nor are there any accounts of its business or
the causes of its abandonment.

In 1824 Dr. Peter Shoenberger, who died in 1854 or 1856, built what is known
as the "Juniata Iron Mill," on the site where it now stands, at the corner of Fif-
teenth street and the Allegheny river, he having been for some years previously
^engaged in the furnace and blooming business in Huntingdon county, Pa. He
subsequently associated with him one of his two sons, and the style of the firm
became P. Shoenberger & Son. About 1836 his two sons, George K, and John H.,
•succeeded to the business, and the firm style was changed to G. & J. H. Shoen-
berger, and about 1857 Wm. H. Shoenberger, son of George K., of Cincinnati,
was admitted as a partner, when the style of the firm was changed to G. & J. H.
Shoenberger & Co.

In 1863 the style of the firm became Shoenberger & Co. (Wm. H, Shoen-
berger, Thos. S. Blair, Wm. Crawford, Jr., John S. Slagle, Edwin Mills and David
^Crawford.) In 1864 David Crawford sold his interest in the firm to his partners.

On Februaiy 1st, 1865 a firm composed of Wm. H. Shoenberger, Thos. S. Blair,
John S. Slagle, Edwin Mills, Wm. Crawford, Jr., Geo. K, Shoenberger and John
H. Shoenberger was formed under the style of Wm. H. Shoenberger & Co., to
€rect and work a blast-furnace.

In 1868, John S. Slagle and Edwin Mills retired from the firm of Shoenberger
<& Co. and a new firm formed under the same style composed of Wm. H. Shoen-
berger, Thos. S. Blair, Wm. Crawford, Jr., Chas. L. Fitzhugh, John Z. Speer, Geo.
K. and John H. Shoenberger. The style of the blast furnace firm was at the same
time changed to Shoenberger, Blair & Co., the partners therein being the same
as those in the rolling mill, Wm. Crawford, Jr., subsequently disposing of his in-
terest in the firm to his partners.

In 1873 a new firm under the same style of Shoenberger & Co., was formed by
Wm. H. Shoenberger, Thos. S. Blair, Chas. L. Fitzhugh, John Z. Speer, Peter
Shoenberger, son of Geo. K. of Cincinnatti, Gotleib A. Steiner, Geo. K. and John
H. Shoenberger. The firm of Shoenberger, Blair & Co., continuing with the same
partners as were in the rolling mill.

On March 22, 1877, Wm. H. Shoenberger sold his interest in the firm to Peter
Shoenberger, the balance of the partners remaining as in 1873.

In 1878 a new firm was organized consisting of Peter Shoenberger, Thos. S.
Blair, John Z. Speer, Chas. L. Fitzhugh, Gotleib A. Steiner, Geo. K. and John H.
Shoenberger, the business style of Shoenberger & Co. being continued. The firm
carrying on the blast furnace being comprised of the same persons as those in the
firm operating the rolling mill.

In 1883, Thos. Blair sold out his interest to his partners, and in June 1883 the
style of the blast furnace firm was changed to Shoenberger, Speer & Co. The


style of the rolling mill remaining as heretofore, and the balance of the partners
remaining unchanged until January, 1888, when Peter Shoenberger died.

In 1825 the Sligo Iron Works were built by Eobert T. Stewart and John Lyon,
and carried on under the firm name of Stewart & Lyon. In 1828 Anthony Shorb
and James and Joseph Barnett purchased the interest of Messrs. Lyon and Stew-
art, and the mills were carried on under the firm style of Barnetts & Shorb. In
1830 John Lyon purchased the interest of the Messrs. Barnett, and the firm name
was changed to Lyon, Shorb & Co., under which style the business of the Sligo
Mill was prosecuted until 1872-4, when the works were sold to Phillips, Nimick &
Co., under which firm style they are now operated. Anthony Shorb died in 1856,
and John Lyon in 1868.

In 1828 John McNickle built the Dowlas Rolling Mill where the Kensington
Rolling Mill now stands, the name of the mill having been changed to the latter
title, by which name it was known in 1836, the style of the firm being Leonard
Semple & Co. The mill afterward passed into the hands of Freeman & Miller

( Freeman and Alex. Miller) about 1845, by whom it was rebuilt, having

been burned down in the great fire of that year. Subsequently the works passed
into the control of Alex. Miller, who was succeeded by Miller, Lloyd & Black
(Alexander Miller, Henry Lloyd and George Black). At some period within the
foregoing dates the mill is said to have been worked by a firm styled Church &
Carothers. The firm of Miller, Lloyd & Black was succeeded by that of Lloyd &
Black, Alexander Miller retiring. George Black dying in 1872, the firm became
Henry Lloyd, Son & Co., (Henry Lloyd, John W. Lloyd, Wm. F. Lloyd and Hen-
ry Balken.) Henry Lloyd dying Feb. 12th, 1879, a partnership was formed of
Henry Lloyd, Jr., John W. Lloyd, Wm.F. Lloyd and Henry Balken, and organized
under the former firm style, as it still continues.

In 1828 the Etna Rolling Mill was virtually built by Henry S. Spang, the
scythe and sickle factory which was on its site having been purchased by him from
H. K. Belknap, who in 1826 succeeded Belknap, Bean & Butler, by whom they
were built in 1820. The works were put in operation by H. S. Spang & Son (H.
S. Spang, Chas. F. Spang). Subsequently the firm became Spang & Co. (Chas. F.
Spang and James McAuley). This firm continued until 1856, when the present firm
of Spang, Chalfant & Co. was formed, composed of C. H. Spang, John W. Chalfant,
C. B. Herron and George A. Chalfant.

In 1828 Zebulon Packard built an iron works where is now the corner of
Thirteenth and Etna streets for the purpose of making shovels and nails. He was
succeeded by Jesse, William and James Lippincott, and the works were styled the
Lippincott Nail and Shovel Factory. The Lippincotts were succeeded by Kings,

Higby & Anderson (John and King, Wm. Anderson, a son of Colonel James

Anderson, and Enoch Higby). The mill had no puddling furnace, but rolled
Juniata blooms, making therefrom nails and shovels. The firm becoming finan-
cially embarrassed, Col. James Anderson bought the mill about 1839-40, and built
some puddling furnaces and put up some more rolls. In April, 1845, the mill was


sold to Graff, Lindsay & Co. (Henry Graff, John Lindsay, Wra. Larimer, Jr.,
Christopher Zug), when the name of the mill was changed to the "Sable" Iron
Works. This firm was succeeded by Zug & Lindsay, the partners being the same
as the preceding firm, with the exception of Henry Graff, who withdrew. In 1857
the mill was purchased by Zug & Painter (C. Zug, Jacob Painter), under which
style of firm the mill was carried on until 1864, when Zug & Painter having also
previously purchased the "Pittsburgh" Rolling Mill, the firm divided, and Chris-
topher Zug and Chas. H. Zug, under the firm style of Zug & Co., took charge of
the " Sable " Mill, Jacob Painter & Sons, under that firm style, retaining the
"Pittsburgh" Mill. The firm of Zug & Co. continued until 1876, when Christo-
pher Zug, Chas. H. Zug, James Hemphill, Wm. Mcintosh, Wm. Clark and T. C.
Clarkson, under the firm style of Zug & Co., Limited, succeeded to the ownership..
In July, 1887, Christopher Zug, Chas. H. Zug, Anthony Keating and T. C. Clark-
son purchased the interest of the balance of the partners, the firm style remaining
as Zug & Co., Limited, as it is at this date.

In 1829 the Wayne Iron Works were built at the corner of Tenth street and
Duquesne way, by F. H. Oliphant. From him they passed into the possession of
M. S. Mason, popularly called Manuscript Mason from his initials. Mr. Mason
was a partner of the wholesale dry goods house of Mason & McDonough, at that
time on Wood street, near Fifth avenue. From Mr. Mason, of whose associates,
if he had any, in the iron business no information could be obtained, the works
passed to the firm of Miltenberger & Brown, (George Miltenberger, James Brown).
They were succeeded by Bailey, Brown & Co. ( W. B. Brown, Samuel Bailey, Fran-
cis Bailey), and Poindexter & Co., (R. W. Poindexter and A. Culbertson) ; subse-
quently Francis G. Bailey retired and Wm. R. Brown became a partner ; and that
firm by Brown & Co., (John H. Brown, his sons, and Joseph S. Brown,) under
which style the firm is still continued by John H. Brown, J. Stewart Brown and
Henry Graham Brown — Joseph S. Brown having retired.

In 1836 Frederick Lorenz, Jacob Forsythe and James Cuddy formed a co-part-
nership under the style of Lorenz, Forsythe & Cuddy, and built the " Pittsburgh
Rolling Mill," on the south side of the Monongahela river, in what is now the
Thirty-fifth ward of Pittsburgh. This firm was succeeded by Lorenz & Cuddy,
Jacob Forsythe withdrawing and Henry Sterling purchasing into the firm. Sub-
sequently the firm style became Lorenz, Sterling & Co. Sometime about 1861, or
previous, the mill property was bought by Zug & Painter (Christopher Zug and
Jacob Painter). At the separation of this firm, as before mentioned in the chron-
ology of the Sable Rolling Mill, the firm of Zug & Painter changed to J. Painter
& Sons, they retaining the Pittsburgh Rolling Mills. Jacob Painter having died in
1888, the firm became J. Painter & Sons, Limited.

In 1836 Samuel H. Hartman, John Hartman and Hem/ Beeler, under the
firm name of Hartman, Beeler & Hartman, built the " Birmingham Rolling Mill,"
in what was then the Borough of Birmingham, on the south side of the Monon-
gahela river. At a period subsequent, Samuel H. Hartman, Abraham H. Hoge


and Whilmore formed a firm under the style of Hoge, Whitmore & Co., and

succeeded the previous firm. In 1841 the works were carried on by Woods, Ed-
wards & McKnight; from this firm the mill passed into the proprietorship of
McKnight & Bro,, ( Wm, McKnight, Joseph McKnight.) The firm afterwards be-
came McKnight & Co.; Joseph McKnight having died, and Wm. McKnight retir-
ing from active business. The firm ultimately succumbed under financial difficul-

Online LibraryGeorge H. (George Henry) ThurstonAllegheny county's hundred years → online text (page 19 of 43)