George H. (George Henry) Thurston.

Allegheny county's hundred years online

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About 1830 a rolling mill was built at what is now the intersection of Eobinson
and Darragh streets, Allegheny, by Col, James Anderson, Wm. Stewart and Syl-
vanus Lothrop, under the firm and style of Anderson, Lothrop & Co. This mill
was subsequently sold to the firm of Bissell, Morrison & Stephens, (John Bissell,
Wm. Morrison, E. W. Stephens) ; subsequently, Wm. Morrison retiring or selling
his interest to Wm. M. Semple, the firm became Bissell, Semple & Stephens. Sub-
sequently, about 1835, Messrs. Semple and Stephens retiring, Mr. Stephens going
to Wheeling, John Bissell associated with him his son, and the firm became John
Bissell & Co. The mill was finally abandoned about 1846-8.

In 1842 Elms & Chess, (Philander Elms and David Chess), built or rather be-
gan working a small tack factory, in one room of a planing mill on 16th street,
with two tack machines run by horse-power. From this grew what has been
known for nearly two score years as the Anchor Nail and Tack Works. Like all
the other rolling mills of Allegheny county several changes of firms have occurred
in the carrying on of these works. The original firm of Elms & Chess, was suc-
ceeded by that of Campbell & Chess.

In 1854 the firm was changed to Chess, Wilson & Co., (David Chess, Robert
Wilson and others,) having absorbed another tack manufacturing firm styled
Billings, Wilson & Co.

In 1860, the firm became Chess, Smythe & Co., (Richard Smythe, Jacob W.
Cook, Robert J. Anderson, David Chess), and they were succeeded in 1880 by
Chess, Cook & Co. Robert J. Anderson withdrawing and subsequently engaged in
the manufacture of steel, Jacob W. Cook and Richard Smythe having died a new
firm consisting of Henry Chess, Walter Chess, Harry B. Chess, Thos. McK. Cook
and G. R. Lauman was formed in 1883, under the old style of Chess, Cook & Co.,
which still continues in the proprietorship of the Anchor Nail and Tack Works.

These works were twice almost entirely destroyed by fire once in 1864 and
again in 1866.

In 1844, Wm. H. Everson and associates built the Pennsylvania Forge, at the
place where the present rolling mill of that name stands. In or about 1852-4 the
forge passed into the ownership of Wm. H. Everson, Barclay Preston, Thos. K.
Hodkinson and Christopher L. Grafi*, under the firm style of Everson, Preston &
Co. At a subsequent date the firm became Everson, Macrum & Co. Mr. Hod-
kinson having retired and gone to Philadelphia to reside, the firm was dissolved in
1873-4. Mr. Preston, having withdrawn from the iron business, was subsequently
elected president of the People's National Bank, and died May, 1887, while hold-


fng that office. At a later period the mill passed into the proprietorship of
Everson, Hammond & Orr, and subsequently into the firm of Hammond, Orr & Co.)
Limited ; while in this firm's proprietorship it was seriously injured by fire, and
the firm went into liquidation.

In 1845, what is known as the "Clinton Mills," was built by Arnold Plummer
and Wm. Ebbs, and operated under the firm style of A. Plummer & Co. To this
firm and mill Cuddy, Jones & Co. became successors. (James Cuddy, Morris
Jones, Wm. Ebbs,) In 1853, James I. Bennett, Kobert K. Marshall, Wm. B-
English, Edward Bahm, and W. P. Jones, formed a co-partnership under the style
of Bennett, Marshall & Co., and purchased the " Clinton Mills." In 1854 the firm
of GraflT, Bennett & Co., successors to the previous firm, John GraflT purchasing an
interest, and Edward Kahm and W. P. Jones retiring.

In 1845, the Vesuvius Polling Mill was built by Robert Dalzell, James Lewis
and others near Etna borough, and operated under the firm style of Lewis, Dalzell
& Co. Owing to financial difficulties the works passed into the ownership of John
Moorhead, and subsequently the works were put in operation under the style of
Moorhead Bros. & Co.

In 1846, Wm. Coleman, James Hailman and Samuel H. Hartman built the
Duquesne Spring Steel Works, and operated the same under the firm style of Cole-
man, Hailman & Co. These works were subsequently remodeled into a rolling
mill, under the management of the firm of Hailman, Kahm & Co., at which time
the mill was on 16th street. The firm finally dissolved, some of the partners
having died, and the machinery was sold, some of it being taken to Erie, Pa., to
form part of a rolling mill in that city.

In or about 1849-50, a number of rolling mill workmen who had lost their
positions in other mills through participation in the labor strikes and riots of 1849,
built a small rolling mill at Millvale, which was called the Mechanic Iron Works*
This mill subsequently passed into the possession of Stewart, Lloyd & Co., (Thos*
Stewart, Alfred Lloyd,) and from them to Lorenz, Stewart & Co., (Frederick
Lorenz, Kobert Stewart, James Grrey,) when it became known as the '' Lorenz
Kolling Mill." The firm was financially unfortunate and the mill was purchased,
in 1861, by Graff, Bennett & Co., by whom it was enlarged from time to time, and
in 1886-7, almost entirely rebuilt.

In 1851 W. Dewee^rWood erected the "McKeesport Rolling Mill," at Mc-
Keesport, for the purpose of manufacturing a special kind of planished or Russia
sheet iron, under a patent granted to James Wood, the grandfather of W. Dewees
Wood, and under an improvement made by J. Wood Brothers, in 1844. The
imitation of Russia sheet iron made by this establishment, although equal in
appearance to the imported Rus'sia article, would not resist the action of the
atmosphere as well.

This difficulty was partially overcome in 1861 through improvements by W. D.
Wood. Other improvements were patented by him in 1865, '67, '73, '74, '76 and
'78; but the required result was not fully attained until 1883.


The growth of this important branch of Pittsburgh's manufactures is the result
of forty years' experimenting and study upon the part of the inventor; and this
city is the only point in the country where an article of planished sheet iron is
produced fully equal, if not superior, in all respects to the best Russian iron, and
which is so endorsed by all the master mechanics of the railroads, locomotive
builders and stove dealers throughout the country.

Like other mills, the McKeesport mill has been operated by various firms
IVood, Moorhead & Co. (W. Dewees Wood, M. K. Moorhead, &qo. F. McCleane)'
then Wood & Lukens, who was succeeded in 1871 by W. D. Wood & Co., and that
firm in 1884 by W. D. W^ood & Co., limited (W. D. Wood, and his sons Eichard
O., Allan W. and Thos. D. Wood).

In 1852 the American Iron Works, now the largest in Pittsburgh, was estab-
lished under the firm style of Jones, Lauth & Co. (B. F. Jones, Bernard Lauth) •
in 1853 they purchased the Monongahela Iron Works, at Brownsville, which they
ran for about a year and then dismantled, transferring the machinery to the
American Iron Works, at Pittsburgh. In 1854 James Laughlin purchased an interest
in the works, Mr. Lauth retiring, and the firm name was changed to Jones &
Laughlin. In 1883 the firm became Jones & Laughlin, limited, B. F. Jones,
chairman; Geo. M. Laughlin, secretary- treasurer; Thos. M. Jones, general man-
ager, Mr. James Laughlin dying December 18, 1882. In connection with this
mill it is proper to state that it produces an article made nowhere else in the
world, known as cold rolled polished shafting, being a special product of the
American Iron Works. These works, like many other of the iron works, in the
change that is gradually going on in the use of steel in the place of iron, has also
embarked in the making of steel.

In 1856 there were in Allegheny county twenty firms engaged in the rolling
mill business, having twenty-five mills and two hundred and sixty-two puddling
furnaces, 165 heating furnaces, 448 nail machines, producing 699,762 kegs of nails
in that year, 10,000 boxes of tacks, 77,000 tons of rolled iron, and other articles
to the value of over |11,000,000. They employed 4,632 hands, to whom they paid
wages yearly to the amount of |2,366,000, and the capital invested in grounds
buildings and machinery was something over $4,000,000.

The comparative increase from 1810 to 1856 the following statistics show: In
1810 there were sold in Pittsburgh 4,900 tons of bar anJ steel iron — but none
made, it being brought from points to the eastward across the mountains. In 1829
there were, according to the Pittsburgh Gazette, eight rolling mills, using 6,000 tons
of blooms, 1,500 tons of pig metal, and employing 300 hands. In 1831, according
to Peck & Tannei^s Guides of that year, there were but six rolling mills, the value
of whose products was about $274,000. This is probably an erroneous estimate.

In 1836, according to Lyford's Western Directory, there were nine mills, using
28,000 tons of pig metal and blooms, employing 1,000 hands, and producing manu-
factured iron to the value of $4,160,000. In 1850, according to Fahnestock'' s Direc-
tory, there were in Pittsburgh thirteen rolling mills, with a capital of five millions


of dollars, employing 2,500 hands, consuming 60,000 tons of pig iron, and produc-
ing bar iron and nails to the value of |4,000,000. In 1864, according to Chas. A*-
McKnight, there were nineteen rolling mills in Pittsburgh, with 176^ puddling
ovens, 121 heating furnaces, with 253 nail machines, consuming 98,850 tons of
metal, and employing 2,720 hands. The statistics of 1856 are as before stated.
These figures show an increase in seven years, from 1829 to 1836, of a small per
cent, in number of mills, but about 300 per cent, in amount of metal used,

From 1836 to 1856, a period of twenty years, there is an increase of over 100
per cent, in the number of mills, and about 300 per cent, in amount of metal used ;.
and a similar increase in the number of hands employed, and not quite 200 per
cent, in the values of products. This latter item is hardly a fair criterion of the
progress, as fluctuations in prices might reduce the per centages of total values
even on increase per centages of production. The entire exhibit is, however, evi-
dence of the rapid progress Allegheny county was making in this great staple of
her manufactures.

From 1856 to 1883, another period of twenty-seven years, the number of the
iron mills of Allegheny county increased another 100 per cent.

In 1857 the Glendon Mills were built by Porter, Rolfe & Swett, near Sixth
street, South Side. Through various changes in the firm from the death of the
original partners, and an interest in the firm being purchased by Joseph Dilworth,
the firm becanxe Dilworth, Porter & Co., and afterwards Dilworth, Porter & Co.,
limited, under which title the works are now carried on. In 1859 the Soho Iron
Works were built by Moorhead & Co., under which style they are still operated.

In 1861-2 the Lower Union Mills were built by Kloman & Phipps, which firm
was organized September 1st, 1861, and afterwards sold to the " Union Iron Mills,"
incorporated May 1st, 1865, who were succeeded by Carnegie, Kloman & Co., which
firm was organized January 1st, 1871. From this firm the works passed into the
ownership of Wilson, Leggate & Co., organized January 1st, 1873, and from that
firm to Wilson, Walker & Co., organized January 1st, 1875, which firm became
Wilson, Walker & Co., limited, January 1st, 1882, and by that firm the Lower
Union Mills were sold to Carnegie, Phipps & Co., limited, January 1st, 1886.

The " Upper Union Mills " were built in 1864 by the Cyclops Iron Co., organized
July 1st, 1864, by whom they were sold to the Union Iron Mills, incorporated
May 1st, 1865, by whom they were sold to Carnegie, Kloman & Co., organized
January 1st, 1871, and by them to Carnegie Bros. & Co., organized April 1st, 1875,
and by them to Carnegie Bros. & Co., limited, organized April 1st, 1881, and by
them to Carnegie Phipps & Co., limited, organized January 1st, 1886.

In 1871 the Lucy Furnaces were built by Kloman & Carnegie Bros., organized
December 31, 1870, by whom they were sold to the Lucy Furnace Co., organized
April 1st, 1875, and by that company to Carnegie Bros. & Co., limited, organized
April 1st, 1881, and by that firm to the Lucy Furnace Co., limited, organized June
1st, 1881, and by it to Carnegie, Phipps & Co., limited, organized January 1st,
1886. As a clearer presentation of the chronological record of what is popularly


termed the " Carnegie plants," and thus giving the reader a verbal bird's-eye view
of what is a remarkable illustration in virtually one firm's establishment of the
growth of the iron and steel industries of Allegheny county, the genealogy of the
additional mills and correlative works in the Carnegie association is here noted ;
although some of them would more correctly find place in the account of steel
manufacturing, but are grouped here for succinctness.

In 1873 the Edgar Thomson Steel Works and Blast Furnaces were founded
% Carnegie, McCandless & Co., which firm was organized January 13th, 1873,
who sold their partially constructed plant to "The Edgar Thomson Steel Co.," Lim-
ited, which was organized October 10th, 1874, under which firm style the works
were operated until they were sold to Carnegie Bros. & Co., Limited, an association
organized on April 1st, 1881. In connection with this immense plant, as adjunct
to its operations is the Larimer Coke Works, built by Carnegie & Co., a general
partnership organized April 1st, 1871, which cokery was sold to Carnegie Bros*
■& Co., Limited, April 1st, 1881. The Youghiogheny Coke Works built in 1888
fcy Carnegie Bros. & Co., Limited ; and also the Scotia Ore Mine of Carnegie Bros.
& Co., Limited, established 1881. In 1880 the Homestead Steel works were built
fcy the Pittsburgh Bessemer Steel Co., Limited, which was organized October 22d,
1879, and sold to Carnegie, Phipps & Co., Limited, January 1st, 1886. The Car-
negie Natural Gas Co.,. which, under the adoption of gas fuel, became a consequent
adjunct to the foregoing works, was incorporated March 10th, 1886, own and
operate wells in Murraysville and Grapeville gas fields, conveying the gas from
thence in ten, twelve and sixteen inch pipes towards Pittsburgh, supplying enroute
the Edgar Thomson Steel Works and Blast Furnaces, at Braddock, and the
Homestead Steel Works, at Munhall. Of these "Carnegie plants," Carnegie*
Phipps & Co, Limited, own and operate in 1888, the centennial year of Allegheny
<30unty, the Lucy Furnaces, the Upper Union Mills, (steel and iron,) the Lower
Union Mills, (steel and iron,) the Homestead Steel Works, Carnegie Bros. & Co.,
I^imited, the Edgar Thomson Steel Works and Blast Furnaces, the Larimer Coke
Works, the Youghiogheny Coke Works, and the Scotia Ore Mines. In addition
there is controlled by the Carnegie capital, the Hartman Steel Works, built in
1882-3 by the Beaver Wire Co., and sold March 1st, 1883, to the Hartman Steel
'Co., Limited, consisting of two wire mills, a steel rolling mill, a rod mill, and wire
nail factories. The American Manganese Co., Limited, which operate the Crimora
ore mines in Augusta county, Ya., and the Old Dominion ore mines adjoining,
opened in 1883 by J. B. White & Co., and sold in 1885, to the American Man-
ganese Co., Limited, which was organized February 2d, 1885. Also the controll-
ing factors in the ownership and management of the Keystone Bridge Co. The
■Carnegie interests mentioned above represent a capital of upward fifteen millions of

Returning to the regular chronological sequence it appears that, in 1862, Lind-
-:say & McCutcheon began operating the Star Rolling Mill, and still continue. In
1862, Reese, GraflT & Dull built the Fort Pitt Iron & Steel Works, at the foot of


Thirty- third street. The firm subsequently became Eeese, Graff & Wood, and
after some other changes the works passed into the occupancy of Graff, Bennett &
Co., and where by them sold to the Carbon Iron Co. In 1863, the firm of Byers?
McCullough & Co., built an iron mill for the making of iron pipe chiefly, which
firm, a few years afterwards, became A. M. Byers & Co. ; under which style the
firm still continues. In 1863, the Ormsby Iron Works were built by Wharton
Bros. & Co., near South Thirty-second street; not being successful the buildings
were bought after some years by the Eepublican Iron Works Co., Limited, were
improved and enlarged and are by that company now operated.

In 1864, Lewis, Oliver & Phillips, (W. J. Lewis, Henry W. Oliver, Jr., Jas-
Oliver, David B. Oliver,) built the Monongahela Iron Mill, and in 1866, the Alle-
gheny. The firm subsequently changed to Oliver Bros. & Phillips, under which
title the mills are now operated, W. J. Lewis retiring. In 1864, the Pittsburgh
Forge & Iron Co. put up a large iron works in Allegheny city, by which company
they are still run. In 1864 the Pittsburgh Bolt Works were built by the Pitts-
burgh Bolt Co., but becoming financially embarrassed about 1877, the works passed
into the hands of assignees.

In 1865 the Keystone Iron Mill was built by Glass, Neely & Co., but that firm
becoming financially embarrassed the works passed into the hands of assignees and
were purchased by the Elba Iron Bolt Co. This firm also becoming embarrassed
after an interval, a new company was formed with fresh capital, and under the
same title the works are still operated. In 1869, Lewis, Clark & Co. built the
Solar Iron Works at Thirty-fifth and Railroad streets, which firm subsequently
became Wm. Clark & Co., Mr. Lewis retiring, when the firm became Wm. Clark's
Sons & Co., Limited, under which style the works are now operated. In 1873 the
U. S. Iron & Tin Plate Co. built works at a point near Port Perry, Allegheny
county. The works were burned in 1883, and were rebuilt and now operated by
the same company.

In 1876, Kirkpatrick & Co. built the Leechburg Iron Works. In 1877, Long
& Co., the Vulcan Iron Works. In 1881 the Spang Steel & Iron Co., Limited, was
organized, C. B. Herron, chairman ; John C. Porter, secretary and treasurer; and
Geo. A. Chalfant, manager. In 1883 the Chartiers Iron & Steel Co., Limited,,
their works, and the Cannonsburg Iron Co., theirs. In 1886 there were at Pitts-
burgh thirty-five firms carrying on the rolling mill business, so to be designated
for want of a more distinct title, as iron business is a generic term for the whole
range of iron metal and their manufactures.

For various causes complete statistics of their product is not only difficult but
seemingly impossible to obtain. As near as could be collated, and it is thought to
be a close approximation, the product of these mills is over 550,000 tons. The ca-
pacity of these mills is set down as reputed, at over 766,000 tons a year. This, it
will be observed, is exclusive of the steel and rail mills.

The area of ground occupied by these mills in the usages of their business, is^
138 acres, employing over 18,000 hands in all the departments of labor, whose


wages would average, as nearly as could be arrived at in round numbers, from
$11,000,000 to 112,000,000. Owing to the reluctance among firms to make any
exposition of the details of their business, and questions arising out of labor distur-
bances, the exact statistics of disbursement of wages are not to be arrived at, but
the figures given are probably a close approximation. Of the capital employed in
this branch of Pittsburgh's industries in the prosecution of the business thereof, is
an item that could not be consistently asked, or expected to be given. Some idea
may be had by the capital in the plants of these 35 rolling mills, viz : ground,
buildings and machinery which is computed at between $17,000,000 and $18,000,-
000. Or an investment of that large sum, which unless the mills are running, is
virtually sunk and non-productive. The value of the product of these mills is
also a matter upon which no absolute statistics can be given, because of the fluctu-
ations in values constantly arising from various causes. Neither can those values
be based on past returns for the same reason. Then there are specialties made by
especial mills, whose prices are not regulated by any fixed market rate made by
the competitors for the general trade, but regulated by the circumstances sur-
rounding their production.

Taking the value of the about 700,000 tons of metal consumed by these mills,
the estimated amount of wages paid, together with all the other outlays of manu-
facturing, and allowing but a very small per cent, of margin over cost of produc-
tion, it is probable that the value of the out-put approximates $36,000,000 either
something above or below.

The kinds of goods manufactured are merchant bar, hoop, band, boiler plate,
tank and sheet iron, wrought iron pipe and boiler tubes, railroad spikes, nails and
tacks, horse shoes, galvanized sheet iron, and light plates, skelp iron, axles, rail-
road specialties, bridge rods, angles, and peculiar shapes.

The making of

Steel in Allegheny County

is a triumph of the Pittsburgh manufacturer. On this claim "Pittsburgh and
Allegheny in the Centennial Year" (1876) says:

" The progress of this industry at Pittsburgh is full of triumphs, not only over
the difficulties of its production, but over foreign manufactories in the quality of
the product. If republics were grateful, or it was in the old Koman days, when
civic wreaths were voted as marks of distinction and compliment to public bene-
factors, Pittsburgh steel manufacturers would be thus decorated. For here and by
them has, in the establishment of the manufacture of steel, a great industrial and
commercial victory been won. By their pluck, perseverance and business acumen
the country has been emancipated from dependence upon foreign steel makers
and placed in an independent position, so far as the supply of that article is in
question, whether for the arts and usages of peace or the sterner demands for
national defence."

And further, in "Pittsburgh's Industries, Progress and Resources " (1886), is
said :

" The effort to make fine crucible tool steel had about been abandoned in the
United States, when Pittsburgh manufacturers achieved a success and produced


an article with which they were able to enter the market in successful competi-
tion with English makers. To-day Pittsburgh steel is the steel of the American

The effort to make steel seems to have been, early in the history of the country,
made in the American colonies. In 1655 John Fricker, of Southold, Long Island,
informed the general court of New Haven of his intention to make steel if he
may have some things granted him. In 1782 James Higley, of Sunbury, and
Joseph Dewey, of Hebrac, Connecticut, represented at the Legislature of that
State that they had found a way to transmute iron into steel, asking an exclusive
right, and obtained a patent from the State for ten years. In October, 1740, the
Connecticut Legislature granted Messrs. Fitch, Walker & Wyllys the sole privi-
lege of making steel for fifteen years. Previous to 1750 Aaron Elliot owned a
steel furnace at Killingsworth, Connecticut. In 1750 Massachusetts had one steel
furnace, and Pennsylvania had two at Philadelphia. There was one also in New
Jersey, and one in Chester county. Pa. In 1787 the making of steel was carried
on in Easton, Mass., by Eliphalet Leonard. In 1776 Peter Townsend produced
the first steel made in the State of New York. At Amenia steel was made in
Dutchess county, N. Y., for the Continental army, and also in Trenton, N. J., and
steel bayonets were made at Elkton, Cecil county, Md. In 1791 Alexander Ham-
ilton, in his celebrated report, states that "steel is a branch which has already
made considerable progress." In the same year French Coxe stated that about
one-half the steel used in the United States is home made. In 1805 there were
two steel furnaces in Pennsylvania, producing annually 150 tons of steel. In 1810
there were 917 tons of steel made in the whole country, of which Pennsylvania
produced 531 tons in five furnaces. In 1813 Tuper & McKowan had a steel
furnace at Pittsburgh, which was the first at Pittsburgh, although at Bridgeport,
adjoining Brownsville, Fayette county, there was in 1811 a steel furnace known as

Online LibraryGeorge H. (George Henry) ThurstonAllegheny county's hundred years → online text (page 20 of 43)