George H. (George Henry) Thurston.

Allegheny county's hundred years online

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New Geneva Glass Works.

The works of O'Hara & Craig were of frame with eight pot furnace holding
not over 500 pounds of material to the pot. The pioneer master workman was
Peter Wm. Eichbaum, before mentioned in connection with the establishments
He was the descendant of a family of that name at Allemand, Westphalia, who had
been glass cutters through many generations, and left Germany for France to per-
sue his trade where he is said to have furnished some of the glass cut for the pal-
ace of Versailles when Louis XVI. was on the throne. After the fall of the Bas-
tile, Mr. Eichbaum came to the United States, sailing from Amsterdam in 1792,^.
and settled at Philadelphia from whence he came to Pittsburgh, as already re-
lated. In 1810 the following mention is made of his work in an account published
that year of the manufactures of Pittsburgh. Says the account in mentioning
glass cutting ; "ThiS^ business has recently been established by an ingenious Ger-
man (Eichbaum) formerly glass cutter to Louis XVI. late king of France. We
have seen a six light chandelier with prisms of his cutting which does credit to the
workman and reflects honor on our country, for we have reason to believe that it
is the first cut in the United States. It is suspended in the Ohio Lodge No. 113 in.
the house of Mr. Kerr innkeeper."


This while a historic note of the early glass cutting at Pittsburgh, is also
another incident marking the pioneer character of Allegheny county's manufac-
turing progress before noted.

Great and unexpected difficulties were encountered by Major Craig, who seems
to have been the managing partner, as Gen. O'Hara who was much absent as ap-
pears from Craig's letters to him. Much trouble was experienced in the matter
of pots. The clay of the neighborhood was found not to be suitable, and that used
had to be brought over the mountains from New Jersey, in barrels at great ex-
pense. The frequent delays in receiving supplies of clay obliged the furnace to be
allowed to go out of blast for want of pots. When the clay did arrive all the
workmen were employed making pots, which not being allowed sufficient time to
dry, when the furnace was put in blast the pots would be lost sometimes at the
first melting. The workmen seem also to have been wanting in skill and easily
angered and constantly threatening to stop work. Major Craig, although a man
of great perseverance, seems to have become, after a time disheartened, and in
some publications is said to have declined any further connection with the busi-
ness in 1798, at which time the works were leased to a firm styled Eichbaum,
Wendt & Co. composed of workmen. The Eichbaum of the firm was the Eich-
baum brought from Philadelphia by Messrs. O'Hara & Craig. Just how long the
workmen continued their lease does not appear, but it was until after 1800 as ap-
pears from a letter dated at Pittsburgh, August 5th, 1803 subsequently referred to,
written to Samuel Hodgson of Philadelphia by Major Craig, who would seem to
have resumed the management or an interest in the works. He writes:

" With respect to our glass manufacturing, the establishment has been attended
with greater expense than we had estimated. This has been occasioned partly
by very extensive buildings necessarily erected to accommodate a number of people
employed in the manufacture, together with their families, and partly by the ig-
norance of some people in whose skill of that business we reposed too much confi-
dence. Scarcity of some of the materials at the commencement of the manufactur-
ing was also attended with considerable expense. We have, however, by perse-
verance and attention, brought the manufacture to comparative perfection. Dur-
ing the last blast, which commenced at the beginning of January and continued
six months, we made on an average thirty boxes a week of excellent window glass,
beside bottles and other hollow- ware to the amount of one-third of the value of the
window glass, 8 by 10 selling at $13.50, 10 by 12 at IIS, and other sizes in pro-

This is also of historical interest as giving the price of glass at that date at
Pittsburgh, and also as to the manufacture of bottles and hollow ware. Just what
was considered hollow ware does not appear, but it could not have been what is
now called tableware, as there is no evidence that as late as 1803 that flint glass
had been made at these works only in an experimental way. The attempt was
made at these works in 1800 by a William Price, of London ; as on September 5th,
1880, Major Craig wrote to Gen. O'Hara that an arrangement had been made with
Eichbaum, Wendt & Co. to allow Mr. Price to use a pot of the furnace and give
him such assistance as he needed. While Major Craig wrote to Gen. O'Hara, un-


der date of Nov. 17th, 1800, that he was satisfied of Mr. Price's ability to make
white glass, and had sent Gen. O'Hara a specimen of that made by Price, the man-
ufacture does not seem to have been carried on, for, as before observed, there is no
mention in any records of its being made further than at the experimental trials.

It is generally understood that quite a number of workmen came to the west
from the factories of the Messrs. Amlung, of Frederick, Md., about 1798 and 1800,
although the date is indefinite. There is a story, or rather legend, that it was this
party of workmen, chiefly Germans, whom Mr. Gallatin met at Wheeling while
on their way to Louisville, Ky., to establish works there, and persuaded them to
return with him to New Geneva and establish works there, he agreeing to furnish
the capital.

In 1807 the products of O'Hara's works are recorded as valued at $18,000. In
this year George Eobinson, a carpenter by trade, and Edward Ensel, began the
manufacturing of flint glass under the style and firm of Eobinson & Ensel. Disa-
greements arising in the firm, but little business was done, and in 1808 they were
bought out by Messrs. Bakewell & Page. This firm continued the manufacture of
flint glass under that style for many years, and produced beautiful ware after over-
coming many difficulties arising from inferiority of material, bad construction of
furnaces, want of skill on the part of his workmen, and their refusal to allow the in-
troduction of apprentices. This intractability of workmen seems to have attended
glass making from the time of O'Hara & Craig, when it is mentioned that they
were petulant, easily angered, continually threatening to leave and opposed to ap-
prentices, down to the present time, and calls for these comments because of its
appearing from the history of strikes in glass factories to be an inherent trait in
the disposition of glass workers.

The obstacles encountered by Mr. Bakewell would have disheartened a man
less determined, but relying on his own judgment and possessed of great business
ability, he persevered and overcame all his difficulties. He rebuilt his furnaces on
a better plan and obtained good material, had competent workmen brought from
Europe, by whom others were instructed, and the works finally became successful.
To Mr. Bakewell belongs the credit of establishing the first successful flint glass
house in the United States, and to Allegheny county the honor of its location.
The firm was changed afterwards to Bakewell, Pear & Co., and was for many years
the leading firm in Pittsburgh. Some years since, the original members of the firm
having died, the younger Bakewells, after closing up the estate, retired from busi-
ness, and the name of Bakewell ceased to be connected with the manufacture of
glass. The ware made by this house, under its various styles of firms, was always
famous in the trade, and to-day many of the older families of Pittsburgh have
pieces of cut glass made at the works of this firm that are treasured heirlooms. It
was some of the work from the establishment of Messrs. Bakewell & Page that is
mentioned by a Mr. Ferron, who was at Pittsburgh in 1817, and recording in his
journal various matters that came under his observation, wrote: "A pair of de-
canters, cut from a London pattern, the price of which was to be eight guineas


The site of the peculiarly historical flint glass works, because of their being
the first successfully established in the United States, was at the foot of Eoss street,
in the city of Pittsburgh, on the bank of the Monongahela. The furnace com-
pleted in 1808 held six twenty inch pots. This was, in 1810, replaced by a ten pot
furnace, and in 1814 another furnace of the same capacity was added. The works
were burned down in the great fire of 1845, and immediately rebuilt, and are now
occupied as part of the B. & O. R. R, depot. Mr. Bakewell is the Thomas Bake-
well mentioned as the author of the address to the citizens of Western Pennsyl-
vania on the outbreak of the rebellion, quoted in the general history of Allegheny
County's Hundred Years. He filled during his lifetime many public ofl&ces of
trust and honor.

In 1812 a new window glass factory was put in operation on the south side,
then in what was called Sydneyville, in Lower St. Clair township, now 28th
ward of Pittsburgh, on the lot bounded by the bank of the river and Muriel streets,
South Side. The tract of 350 acres, of which this is a part, was deeded in 1769)
by the Penns to John Ormsby. In 1812 a part of the tract passed to Beltzhoover,
Wendt & Co., and the new window glass factory just mentioned was built upon it
by them. This firm was composed of Daniel Beltzhoover, Geo, Sutton, John Mc-
Mickle, Edward Ensell, Sr., Edward Ensell, Jr., Frederick Wendt, Charles Ihmsen
and Peter Hain. The Frederick Wendt of this firm is probably the Frederick
Wendt of Eichbaum, Wendt & Co., the lessees of O'Hara & Craig's works in 1798,
and Edward Ensell, Sr., probably the Ensell of Robinson & Ensell of 1807. The
firm was changed in 1822 to Sutton, Wendt & Co. In 1836 Christian Ihmsen,
who was the son of Charles Ihmsen, of Beltzhoover, Wendt & Co., bought out
most of the partners of Sutton, Wendt & Co.

As illustrative of the conditions under which the window glass workers per-
formed their labor at that date, the following articles of agreement is quoted :

" It is agreed by and between the undersigned. Christian Ihmsen and the un-
dersigned journeymen glass blowers, as follows : The said journeymen, each one
for himself and not for the other, agree to blow glass ware for the said Christian
Ihmsen, at his glass factory in Birmingham, Allegheny county, Pennsylvania, for
the period of nine months, commencing on or about the first day of September,
1836, and ending on or about the first day of June, 1837. The said journeymen
are to be charged the sum of eight dollars for neglecting to work a whole day, and
four dollars for neglecting to work a half day, unless the said neglect shall be oc-
casioned by the sickness of themselves respectively, or their respective families, or
other accident. Provided, however, if tlie party neglecting as aforesaid, shall have
one or more persons working with him at a pot, he shall pay for neglecting as
aforesaid, but five dollars for whole day and two and one-half for a halt day; Pro-
vided, also, that no journeymen shall be charged as aforesaid, for neglecting to
perform a day's work, if he give to Christian Ihmsen or his foreman, one day's pre-
vious notice of his intention to be absent from his employ upon a day certain. The
said Christian Ihmsen to pay the said journeymen, respectively, their wages in full
once a month aforesaid, — the first payment to be made in full on the fifth day of
October, and the other months payments to be made on the fifth day of any re-
spective month during the said term of nine months. Any of the undersigned
who shall work at any time in flint glass shall be allowed for every day that he is


thus employed to the amount of what he can earn upon an average while working
in green glass."

In 1838, Thomas I. Whitehead, Christian Ihmsen, Chas. Ihrasen, and William
Phillips, organized a firm under the style of Whitehead, Ihmsen & Plunket, and
built the glass works on the corner of South Tenth and Carson streets. Subse-
quently this firm changed to Young, Ihmsen & Plunket, (W. P. Young, Francis
Plunket, Christian Ihmsen,) and afterwards to Ihmsen, Plunket & McKnight^
(Charles McKnight, Chas. I. Ihmsen, Francis McKnight.) The other partners
retiring, the works passed into the ownership of Chas. I. Ihmsen. Thomas I.
Whitehead went to Cincinnati, where he died ; Wm. P. Young went to St. Louis,
where he died; Francis Plunket died at Pittsburgh. In 1855 the firm became C.
Ihmsen & Co., (Christian Ihmsen, Chas T. Ihmsen, Franklin McGowin, and Wm.
Ihmsen.) In 1860, Franklin McGowin retired from the firm, and its style was
changed to C. Ihmsen & Sons. In 1862, Christian Himsen died, and the business
was continued under the same firm style, composed of Chas. T. Ihmsen, Wm.
Ihmsen, and Christian Ihmsen, Jr. Subsequently the firm became the Ihmsen
Glass Co., Limited, occupying the same site of the glass works of the firm of Beltz-
hoover, Wendt & Co., of 1812. The works at the corner of Tenth and Carson
having been during the changes, vacated, and subsequently occupied by new firms.
This genealogical record of this particular firm is given because it not only
directly connects the glass business of to-day in the city of Pittsburgh with the
second window glass house successfully established in Allegheny county, but has
virtually, by heritage, remained in the family for over seventy-five years, and thus
becomes the oldest firm in the glass trade, having continuous family membership.

In 1829 the Union Flint Glass Works were established by Hay & McCully. In
1831 the firm became Hay & Campbell. In 1834 the firm became Park & Camp-
bell, and in 1836 Park, Campbell & Hanna, and in 1838 Park & Hanna; in 1846
Hannas & Wallace ; in 1849 Wallace, Lyon & Co. With the formation of this
firm James P. Wallace, of the firm, inspired with the ambition to improve the
quality of the flint glass then made, turned the eflTorts of the firm in that direction^
and it is to him the credit is due of creating the rivalries through which the flint
or crystal table ware of the Pittsburgh factories began to increase in its beauty
and quality.

In 1852 the style of the firm was changed to James B. Lyon & Co., the title of
the works having been previously changed from its original one of the Union Flint
Glass Works to the O'Hara Works, and in 1875 a company by the title of the
O'Hara Glass Co., limited, came into the proprietorship of the works — James B»
Lyon, chairman; John B. Lyon, treasurer, and Joseph Anderson, superintendent.

In 1830 Curling & Price (Alfred Curling, Price) established what was

known as the Fort Pitt Glass Works on what is now Washington street, near Fifth
avenue, for the manufacture of flint glass ware. Subsequently this firm became

Curling, Robertson & Co. (A. Curling, Morgan Bobertson, Ditheridge).

Through the death of A. Curling and M. Robertson the works afterwards passed

gla;s;s ma:nufacturing. 18T

into the ownership of Ditheridge & Co., under which style the works are still
continued in the same location, but are now principally engaged in the manufac-
turing of lamp chimneys.

In 1831 Wm. McCully, in association with Capt. John Hay, built the bottle
house on the Allegheny river near the foot of Twentieth street. These work&
were flooded out in 1832, when Mr. McCully withdrew, and Capt. John Hay con-
tinued to operate the works, Mr. McCully building a new works at the corner of
Liberty and Sixteenth street. In 1834 he became interested with Wm. Ihmsen in
a window glass factory at Monongahela City. In 1810, when Wm. Ihmsen diedy
Mr. McCully associated himself with Frederick Lorenz in carrying on the Sligo^
Window Glass Works, established by him in 1824, and also the old O'Hara Works^
Thomas Wightman being also a partner. Subsequently the firm separated, and ia
1850 Mr. McCully bought from F. Lorenz the Sligo Works and formed a new firm;
in association with his son under the firm style of Wm. McCully & Co. Frederick
Lorenz and Thos. Wightman, under the firm style of Lorenz & Wightman, orgaii-
ized another firm, retaining the old O'Hara Works. The firm of Wm. McCully &
Son continued until 1852, when Mark W. Watson becoming a partner, the style^
of the firm became W. McCully & Co. In 1869 Mr. McCully died, and the business-
was continued under the same firm style by Mark W. Watson and John M. King^.
which it continues to the present time.

In 1834 Samuel McKee and James Salisbury and others established a windoAr
glass works in Sligo. In 1836 Saoauel McKee sold out his interest in the firm and:
erected a window glass factory near what is now South Thirteenth street and Car-
son, under which style the firm continues, Samuel McKee being, however, dead,,
and other partners by inheritance and by purchase being admitted. Mr. Salis-
bury and his partners discontinuing the business.

In 1834 William Eberhart began making window glass at Bellevernon, on the-
Monongahela river. The works subsequently passed into the ownership of
George A. Berry & Co., and from him to the firm of E. C. Schmertz & Co. (Eobert
C. Schmertz and others). Mr. Schmertz died in 1888, but the business is still con-
tinued under the same style.

In 1840 Mr. Phillips, afterwards President of the Allegheny Valley Eailroad^-
formerly a partner in Whitehead, Ihmsen & Plunket, built a glass works for
making flint glass at the corner of Try street and Second avenue. He subsequently^
associated with him Wm. Best, under the firm of Phillips & Best. Subsequently
Mr. Phillips disposed of his interest, and Mr. Best also retiring from the business
the works ceased to exist about 1868-70.

In 1841 Alex. Chambers, David H. Chambers and John Agnew established a
factory for the making of green glass in what was then the Fifth ward of the city,,
under the style of Chambers & Agnew. Subsequently John Agnew retired and

Anderson and Alex, and David H. Chambers formed a copartnership, under

the style of Anderson, Chambers & Co., to manufacture window glass and vials.^
and built works in Birmingham at what is now the corner of South Sixth and
Bingham streets.


In 1843 the firm became A. & D. H. Chambers, Mr. Anderson retiring. D. H.
Chambers died in 1862, in Chicago, but the business was continued under the
management of Alex. Chambers under the same firm style. Mr. Alex. Chambers
died in 1875, and his son, James A. Chambers, succeeded to the business, and con-
tinues the business under the style of A. & D. H. Chambers.

In 1849 Wilson Cunningham and Cunningham organized a firm under

the style of Cunningham & Co, for the manufacturing of window and green glass
and built a factory. In 1864 the firm became Cunninghams & Ihmsen (Dominick
Ihmsen). In 1886, Wilson Cunningham having died, and D. Ihmsen having re-
tired from the firm, the ownership passed to D, O. Cunningham, a son of Wilson
•Cunningham, by whom the business is still continued.

In 1851 the firm of Lorenz & Wightman (Frederick Lorenz and Thos. Wight-
man), which, as before mentioned, arose from the separation of the firm operating
the Sligo Works, took the O'Hara Works. Mr. Wightman subsequently retired, and
the works were carried on by F. Lorenz ; when he died, his son, Frederick Lorenz,
<;arried on the works for a few years, after which they passed into the possession of
Fahnestock, Albree & Co., who operated them for about two years, in about 1860,
1861 or '62. After that M. A. Lorenz, Thos. Wightman and Nimick & Co. carried
on the works under the firm style of Lorenz & Wightman until M. A. Lorenz
died, when the firm became Thos. Wightman & Co., and has so remained until the
firm of Thos. Wightman & Co., Limited, was formed, which is the present style of
the firm.

In 1851, Adams, Macklin & Co. established a factory at the corner of Eoss and
>Second streets, for making flint glass. Shortly after the formation of this firm, Mr.
Adams began a series of experiments to demonstrate the practicability of the use
•of lime as a substitute for lead in making table ware, with a view to cheapening
the cost of its production. This was an important "new departure" in the glass
making, resulting in making Allegheny county the controlling centre in table ware.
The cost of lead made an important item in the cost of its manufacture, and the
substitution of lime, it is apparent, would at once reduce it. Mr. Adams began his
-experiments about 1850 ; and, although several times at the point of abandoning the
-attempt, having " the courage of his own convictions," persevered to the crown of
success. While for a few years lime glass, as it was called, suffered in comparison
with lead or flint glass, as it was termed, continued practice and improved knowl-
edge in the use of lime has resulted in the production of "lime glass" of as great
beauty as the old flint glass, of which little is now made, except for the purpose
of making " cut glass " or druggist ware, for which lead or flint glass is requisite,
•owing to its greater weight and ductility. At this time, or perhaps a short time
before, Wm. Phillips, of Phillips & Best, also began a series of experiments in the
use of lime in the manufacture of glass, but does not seem, from the recollections
of the glass workers, to have been successful, and it is freely conceded that to John
Adams the glass trade of Allegheny county is indebted for that great advancement
in the processes of its manufacture. The firm of Adams, Macklin & Co. was sue-


ceeded by the present firm of Adams & Co. The works were, in 1860, removed to
South Tenth street. Mr. Adams died in 1887. The business, under the same
firm style, is carried on by the surviving partners, George F. Easton, D. E. Carle,
Godfrey Miller, Aug. A. Adams, William Adams and S. G. Vogeley.

In 1850, Bryce, McKee & Co. established a factory for the manufacture of
table ware on South 21st street and Wharton street. In 1852, the firm became
Bryce, Eichards & Co., and in 1866 Bryce, Walker & Co., and in 1882 Bryce Bros.,
under which firm style the business is now protecuted.

In 1853, Bobe & Albeitz erected the factory for the making of vials etc., called
the Eagle Works, which in or about 1855 passed into the ownership of F. Bobe,
and at a later date the business was closed and the works abandoned.

In 1853, F. & J. McKee established a factory at South 18th and Bingham
streets, for the manufacture of table ware. This firm subsequently became McKee
Bros., under which style it still continues, and the firm have lately erected exten-
sive works near Grapeville in that natural gas district.

In 1855, T. A. Evans established a factory for the manufacture of flint vials,.
called the Mastodon, which afterwards passed by purchase to W. McCully & Co.
About this date a firm under the style of Mulvany & Ledlie had a factory for
making table ware. The firm subsequently became Ledlie & Ulam. Through
financial difficulties the firm ceased about 1860.

In 1859, a firm under the style of Johnson, King & Co. built and put in oper-
ation a table ware factory on South 18th street, which in or about 1864, became
King, Son & Co. In 1883, the firm style was changed to King, Son & Co., Limit-
ed, and in 1887 to King Glass Co., W. C. King, president ; George B. Swift,
manager, A. H. Leitch, secretary and treasurer.

In 1859, Wolfe, Plunket & Co. established a firm for the manufacture of win-
dow glass, which firm, in 1863, became Wolfe, Howard & Co. (John A. Wolfe,
Abner U. Howard,) under which style the business is now prosecuted.

In 1860, Hale, Atterbury & Co. established a table ware factory at First and
Carson streets, which subsequently became Atterbury & Co. and so continues to
the present time.

In 1863, the Excelsior Flint Glass Co. were established, and began the making^
of chimneys, under which style the firm still continues.

In 1863, Sheppard & Co. established a factory for the manufacture of glass
ware, which in 1865 passed into the ownership of Campbell & Jones, and in 1886
Mr. Campbell retiring, the firm became Jones, Cavitt & Co., Limited, Jenkins
Jones, chairman ; A. M. Cavitt, treasurer ; and Henry Wilson, secretary. In the

Online LibraryGeorge H. (George Henry) ThurstonAllegheny county's hundred years → online text (page 25 of 43)