George H. (George Henry) Thurston.

Allegheny county's hundred years online

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dividual producers. That losses are made by those thus purchasing oil does not
either make against the aggregate of the business nor decrease the dollar total of
the oil trade. Each sale is a business transaction, and gains or losses therein are
but us gains or losses in any other article in which men deal in expectation of
profit. The dollar total of the oil trade of Pittsburgh, in the sales on 'change,
the products of the refineries, the illuminating, lubricating, lard and other oils,
may therefore be stated at $700,000,000, that sum being, in some form or other,
accounted for in bank checks, drafts, or other cash representation."


Copper, Lead, Brass and Tin.

Manufactures from all these four metals date back to nearly the year of the
organization of the county. Some of them had very humble beginnings. In 1807
three copper and tin factories are mentioned in Cramer's Almanack, Gazzams,
Harbesons, and Bantin & Miltenbergers, (Geo. Miltenberger.) In 1810 there were
six copper and tin manufactories producing a value of 130,000. In 1808 a brass
foundry, carried on by Thos. Cooper, is mentioned, and also eleven " copper fac-
tories " in 1813. These latter, it is presumable in the absence of any fuller accounts,
were simple shops for copper work, although in 1817 they are of record as produc-
ing work to the value of $200,000. The changes and advent of new firms in

Copper Manufacturing,

through the early periods cannot be traced without occupying greater space than
could be afforded in this volume, and would even then be incomplete. While many of
the establishments did a considerable business, yet it was principally of a minor or
jobbing character, producing work for local demands, and was of the same char-
acter as those now active in Pittsburgh and Allegheny cities, at McKeesport,
Braddock, and Tarentum, and other suburban towns of the county. Manufactur-
ing stills for distilleries, copper pipes for steamboats, kettles, and similar products.
It was in 1840-1 that Pittsburgh became, in copper, a pioneer city, as it had
previously in many other businesses. At that time the copper deposits of Lake
Superior were brought to the attention of the business men of the city. Under
the facilities for travelling, transportation, and communication that then existed?


that region was more difficult of access and exploration than is now, or have beerb
during the past twenty years ; the mineral regions of the Kocky mountains, valua-
ble as was the metal, great hesitation existed as to embarkiug in what was con-
sidered a visionary enterprise, and involving too much capital to be risked in such
a venture. The men were, however, found who took the risk, and enabled Alle-
gheny county to claim the honor of developing, for the benefit of the whole
country, the copper regions of Lake Superior. Curtis C. Hussey, Thos. M. Howe^.
whose names are associated with the bringing to a successful point the manufacture
of crucible tool steel in the United States, and Charles Avery, also William Petitt^
a Quaker, who was at one time engagied in the banking business in Pittsburghy
after a consideration of all the information laid before them entered upon the
enterprise. In 1841-2, Mr. Howe made a journey to the Lake Superior region,
and a personal examination of the afterward famous Cliff mine property. After
his return he and Dr. Hussey, as he was generally called from having been in
previous years a member of the medical profession, with Charles Avery, William
Petitt, organized the Pittsburgh & Boston Mining Co., in 1845, and associating with-
them some Boston capitalists, proceeded to develop the Cliff mine, C. G. Hussey
being the president of the company, and Thos. M. Howe its secretary and treasurer,.
The effect of this practical manifestation of confidence in the outcome of the
copper region soon had its effect on the capitalists of Pittsburgh, and a number of
companies were soon after formed. The Adventure Mining Company was organ-
ized in 1846, of which C. G. Hussey was president, and James M. Cooper secretary
and treasurer. The Ridge Mining Co., in 1852, of which William Bagaley was-
president, and Joshua Hanna, secretary and treasurer. The North American
Mining Co., in 1850, of which Thos. Bakewell was president, and Waterman Pal-
mer, who was in the wholesale dry goods business in Pittsburgh about 1837, was
secretary and teasurer. In 1854 the Central Mining Co , (C. G. Hussey, president,
and Waterman Palmer, secretary and treasurer.) The Aztec Mining Co., in 1850
or '51, (C. G. Hussey, president, and N. Veeder, secretary and treasurer.) Also-
the National Copper Mine Co. Several smaller companies were also formed and a
large amount of Pittsburgh capital was embarked in those enterprises. From the
mention of the names of the chief officers noted of the principal copper mining
companies, it appears that Dr. Hussey was the leading investor.

The financial history of these early copper mines it is not necessary to trace ;.
they were immensely profitable, the Pittsburgh & Boston Mining Company alone
having in the course of ten years from its organization sold copper from the Cliff
Mine to the amount of $2,120,101, the expenditures for the same period being^
$1,405,719.58, and it has continued to be quite as remunerative. Mr. Hussey's in-
terest in the Lake Superior mines led him, in 1849, in association with Thos. M.
Howe, to build a copper rolling mill and smelting works at Pittsburgh, on the
east bank of the Monongahela river, at what is now in the Twenty-lhird ward of
the city, and embark in the business of copper smelting and rolling, under the
firm style of C. G. Hussey & Co., in which firm style it is still operated, Mr. Hus~


-sey being still living, although Mr. Howe died on July 20, 1877. Mr. Howe,
whose business career has left its impress on many of Allegheny county's business
enterprises, was born at Williamstown, Vermont, in 1808, and in 1817 went to
Trumbull county, Ohio, with his father and family. In 1828 he came to Pitts-
burgh, and became a clerk in the wholesale dry goods house of Mason & Mc-
Donough, at the corner of Wood street and Fifth avenue. About 1830 he became
a partner in the hardware house of Leavit & Co. In 1839 he was chosen cashier
of the Exchange Bank, and in 1841 elected president of that bank. In 1850 he
was elected to Congress from Allegheny county. In 1860 he was, at the urgent
solicitation of the business men of Allegheny county, induced, against his own de-
sires, to become a candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania, but was not nominated.
This digression is made to record briefly the more salient facts in the life of a
man remarkable for \vs business ability, integrity and pure personal life, who is
one of the historic business men of Allegheny county, and was the promoter and
-active agent in the establishment of many of its important interests.

In 1859 the second copper rolling mill was built at Pittsburgh by Park, Mc-
Curdy & Co. (David Park, James Park and W. McCurdy). This mill subsequently
■passed into the ownership of Park Bros. & Co., composed of substantially the
-same parties, Mr. McCurdy having retired, and is now carried on by Park Bros. &
•Co., Limited. The mill was originally built on Second avenue, about Soho street,
and was known as the Lake Superior Copper Works, but subsequently removed to
Thirtieth and Smallman streets. These two copper mills employ about 100
hands, and the value of their manufactured product isfrom $500,000 to $650,000
a year.

White Lead

is one of the manufacturing industries of Allegheny county that claims the aris-
tocracy of age, and has its origination subsequent to the establishment of the first
-glass house, but prior to thejirst rolling mill. As early as 1810 there were three
"Red Lead" factories in Pittsburgh, producing that article to the value of $13,000,
-according to a local census of that date. In 1813 there was one white lead fac-
tory (Beelin's); and in a report to the Councils in 1817 one white lead factory is
reported as employing six hands and producing $40,000 worth of leads. In 1837
there were eight lead factories, whose product was 74,496 kegs of lead, valued at
^206,000. These were Avery & Ogden (Chas. Avery, Geo. Ogden), H. Brunot,
JB. McClean & Co., Maderia & Ashton (Peter Maderia), J. Hannen, Daniel King,
Porter & Breckenridge (Judge Porter), Gregg & Wagner.

In 1843 T. H. Nevin & Co. established a white lead works, which subsequently
passed into the possession of Theodore H. Nevin, now dead, and as the time of
his death president of the First National Bank of Allegheny City, which are now
<?arried on by T. H. Nevin & Co. In 1844 B. A. Fahnestock & Co. established a
white lead works, to which C. F. Wells & Co., now Pennsylvanio White Lead Co.,
is the successor. In 1832 James Schoonmaker also built and operated white lead
works, which subsequently passed into the ownership of W. A. Stockton & Co.,


and is now carried on by M. B. Suydam & Co. In 1866 a new works were put
in operation by Davis, Chambers & Co., and in 1867 Beymer, Bauman & Co,
(Simon Beymer, R. Bauman) also erected works, which are still carried on under
the same firm style. In 1870 Armstrong & McKelvy (Thos. M. Armstrong, John
H. McKelvy) embarked in the business. In 1857 there were but three firms man-
ufacturing white and red leads, but although there is a falling off of five factories
in the number working, the three factories of 1857 produced 2,754 tons, of a valu&
of $443,000, where the eight factories of 1837 produced but 902 tons, being an'
increase of over 200 per cent. In 1875 there were six firms engaged in the man-
ufacture of white and red leads, using 5,000 tons of pig lead a year, occupying an
area with their factories of three acres, and employing 175 hands. The capital in
machinery, buildings and ground was $450,000, or more than the value of the
product of 1857, while the output has increased about 90 per cent.

In the past decade this industry has, as well as others, become sub-divided and
taken some new departures. Among those is a branch technically known a&
"Paint and Color" goods, also the manufacturing of ''Dry Colors." As in
other things previously mentioned, Pittsburgh has been the pioneer in the intro-
duction by white lead manufacturers of that city of mixed or prepared paints.
T. H. Nevin & Co. in 1875 making this new departure in the white lead business
by the introduction of what is known as the "Pioneer Prepared Paints," and
were soon after followed by Armstrong & McKelvy in the same line of paint
goods. Ten years ago colors were principally made in New York, but few being
made in Pittsburgh, but now the city is a leading market for these goods, and fur-
nishes her fair proportion of the trade of the country.

There are also six firms, those mentioned above as established from 1844 to
1870, producing white lead by corroding pig lead, and preparing it in oil for sale.

These six establishments corrode about 12,000 tons of lead a year and use
about 300,000 gallons linseed oil and about 370,000 pounds acetic acid, and the
product is about 1,050,000 kegs of twenty-five pounds each of white lead. In addi-
tion to the above product of white lead they manufacture oxides of lead, viz., red
lead, litharge, and orange mineral, 2,000 tons. These factories occupy a space of
quite ten acres, and the value of the plants, buildings, ground and machinery is
stated as in the neighborhood of $1,000,000 in round numbers. They employ 360
hands, whose wages annually are nearly $200,000. Although the product of the
white lead is given in a comparison of 25-pound kegs it is not all so packed, but
kegged in 25, 50, 80 and 100-pound kegs and some larger packages, so that the
number of packages used is less than the amount of 25-pound kegs of product
given, and cannot be given in number. The value of the product is in round
numbers $2,000,000.

For over three-quarters of a century the corroding of lead and the manufacture
of white lead has been among the "arts" of Pittsburgh workers, and is, as well as
the skill so peculiarly native here in the working of iron and glass, one of the
heirlooms descended from father to son in the lead factories of the city. The


->\ hite lead of the factories of Pittsburgh are a standard of quality in the market*
4ind deservedly so.

A further manipulation of the pig lead after its corroding and manufacture
into white lead is in the preparation of prepared paints and mixed colors.

A decade ago the preparing of paints and the mixing of colors was a province
of the painters' skill. To-day there are in Pittsburgh four firms who, as a branch
of their white lead business, carry on the preparing of paints and mixed colors
and packing them in cans of various sizes for shipment to all sections of the
•country. These firms are : — Armstrong & McKelvy, T. H. Nevin & Co., M. B*
Suydam & Co., W. W. Lawrence & Co. These four works prepare between 3,000,-
OOO and 4,000,000 pounds mixed paints annually, for which market is had in the
West and South. They employ in addition to the hands embraced in the white
lead works about seventy-five hands, whose wages in addition to those given there
will be some $75,000.

In the corroding of lead, the corroders have at the very door of their factories
the Pig Lead made in the county by the Pennsylvania Lead Co. Of this it is
said in "Pittsburgh's Progress, Industries and Eesources," (1886,) which is quoted
in preference to writing what would be but the same account :

" To the enterprise of J. E. Schwartz the city is indebted for this important in-
<Justry. The company above noted was established by Mr. Schwartz and associates
in 1875 for the purpose of producing lead from the ores and base bullion brought
to Pittsburgh from Colorado, Utah, Montana and Idaho. There are employed in
the various processes of the works 120 men, whose wages will average $100,000 a
year. The freights on the ores and base bullions alone amount to over $500,000
a year. The products of the works is given at from 3,000,000 to 4,000,000 ounces
of silver a year, worth, at present prices of silver, from $3,000,000 to $4,000,000 a
year ; also 22,000 tons of pig lead annually, worth $2,000,000. The product of
lead is disposed of to manufacturers in New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore as
well as Pittsburgh. The larger part of the silver product is exported to London,
England. The works use about 9 acres of ground in their operation, and the plant
is stated as of a value of $150,000.

"These smelting works are another exhibition of the magnetism of Pittsburgh
as a center toward which all metals seem to be attracted. Iron, copper, lead, sil-
ver, all seek her fuel. The works just noted, although yielding but few statistics,
is productive, it will be seen, of great monetary results, the value of its realizations
being from $5,000,000 to $6,000,000 annually."

A further manipulation of lead in Pittsburgh is in the manufacture of lead pipe
and shot, which is prosecuted by three firms. In

The Manufacture of Tin,

the record runs back to the beginning of the century, when Jeffery Scaife, the
grandfather of Oliver P., Chas. C. and Marion F. Scaife, and father of Wm. B. Scaife,
established a shop for manufacturing tin in 1802, at Pittsburgh, and is probably
the one mentioned in the view of the manufacturing trade of Pittsburgh in 1803,
published by Cramer's Almanack in 1804, where it is stated that 320 boxes of tin,
of a value of $40 each, were used in manufacturing tinware in 1803. There are


number of shops manufacturing tinware in the county, but chiefly for retail
trade. Some of them date well back in the century their origination, but to follow
their geneology would be uninteresting.

There are, however, two very large establishments manufacturing what is
known as lacquer, or Japan goods, and pressed tin ware, the manufacture of which
class of goods was commenced by John Dunlap in 1839, at which time the pro-
ducts were made entirely with hand tools. Now almost the entire work is done
by machines. These establishments employ about 150 hands, and manufacture
goods to the value of about ^400,000 a year. In the manufacture of


the products are varied, and there are now some fifteen establishments operating
at Pittsburgh. As said in the early sentenoes of this chapter, there was a brass
foundry in Pittsburgh as early as 1808. In the published records of the industries
of Pittsburgh at various succeeding dates there is no especial mention of brass
foundries, the accounts given being of the heavier manufactures of the city. In
1820 John Sherifi" established a brass foundry, and in 1832 Andrew Fulton estab-
lished his bell foundry, where was manufactured the greater portion of the bells
of the steamboats of the West. In 1857 there were four brass foundries in Pitts-
burgh, and in 1876 ten in the city, being an increase of six— Mansfield & Fitz-
simmons in 1861, John Fitzsimmons in about 1865, Cadman & Crawford in 1863,
now A. W. Cadman & Co.; Atwood & McCafir-ey in 1865, Wilson & Snyder, now
Wilson, Snyder & Co., in 1875, who are also steam fitters, machinists and manu-
facturers of valves, as are also A. W. Cadman and the others. The great demand
for "natural gas fittings" having largely increased the products of this branch of the
brass business. In 1886 there were fifteen brass foundries in Pittsburgh, which
gave employment to 250 hands, and produced brass castings to the value of
1600,000 to $700,000. In the past two years has been established a works for the
producing of "artistic brass goods," which makes a class of articles never before
made in the United States, designed to meet requirements for a description of
brass goods heretofore imported. It employs from 100 to 150 hands.

As has been said in a previous paragraph, the design of this volume is not to
present a trade catalogue of the manufacturers of Allegheny county, but such a
sketch of its hundred years as will give the reader a general knowledge of the
more important public and political occurrences in that time and of its greater
and more leading industries.

Therefore no attempt is made to present the hundreds, perhaps thousands, dis-
tinct articles that are the result of the skill of her workmen and the product of her
workshops, leaving to the catalogue of the individual manufacturer such enumer-
ation. It is enough to say that there is nothing in iron, from a steamboat or lo-
comotive to a tack, that the ironworkers of Allegheny county do not or cannot
make ; nothing in steel, from a rifled cannon or armor for a ship-to a watch spring,
that her steelworkers cannot supply; nothing in glass, from window plates, 10 and
15 feet square, so clear that but for its sheen there would seem to be nothing but


air into which the gazer was looking, down to the smallest wine glass, so fragile
that it would seem to scarce bear the weight of a butterfly without dissolving as an
air blown bubble ; nothing from 1,500 tons of pig metal a day to a stove plate;
nothing from an iron bridge to span the Mississippi or the Orinoco, to the tiny rent
that holds the smallest bolt; nothing from' a wagon tire to a blast furnace or roll-
ing mill complete.

So varied are the products of the factories, that to-day the citizens of Pitts-
burgh, familiar as they should be with the products of the factories around
them, and with the character of the factories themselves, often find themselves
brought face to face with some before unknown product of the county's industries.
Pitttburgh and Allegheny are in themselves wonderful cities in that respect, and
have been pronounced the " curiosity shop of the country."

To-day Pittsburgh has the largest Bessemer plant in the United States, the
largest glass chimney manufactory existing, and a table ware manufactory the
greatest in the world. While other instances of the size of the manufactories of
the city could be cited, these are simply mentioned as among the facts entitled to
record. The tonnage of three of the largest of Pittsburgh's iron works exceeds the
tonnage of the cotton crop of the south ; and the tonnage of the port, that of New
York city. The heaviest iron roll ever made was lately cast at Pittsburgh, and in
contrast with that may be mentioned that a Pittsburgh workman rolled iron so
thm that it took 1500 leaves to make an inch in thickness.

"^ As stated in a preceding paragraph, there is in these pages no attempt made to
present in enumerated detail the thousand and one distinct products of Allegheny
county's factories. The eflfort is only made in the historical account of its manu-
factures and business, to show its progress by the leading industries to indicate the
ramifications thereof, through which it is, year after year, acquiring new attrac-
tions as a continental store house of manufacture, and a prominent commercial
city as well.


Mercantile Interests.

In a presentation of what may be entitled the mercantile interests of Allegheny
county, it is neither necessary nor practical to present what is a similar feature
in any city, town or village, saving in its magnitude in correspondence with its
population, namely the retail trade. What may be termed its wholesale interests,
except in a few more prominent retail branches, are what is of general interest in
its history. Neither can a chronology of the past and gone firms of half a century
ago, be with any degree of accuracy traced and stated, or the genealogy of those
firms be given without too many errors as to dates and successions of firms coming
into the record.


The statistics are given, so far as could be obtained, of the wholesale trade of
Pittsburgh in its various branches outside of what might be called manufacturing
commerce. The trade here exhibited is strictly that of the wholesale jobbers, or,
more correctly, merchants, although the first term is used as a designation that
has grown to be almost technical as applied to wholesale trade.

The term "Merchants of Pittsburgh" first occurs in Smollet's History, in a
mention of the transaction of Major General Stanwix, at Fort Pitt, in the winter
of 1759-60.

In 1803 the entire commerce and manufactures of Pittsburgh were summed up
at $350,000. Of this, $93,000 was created by what was then termed the " Barter-
ing trade," or the exchanging of one article of merchandise for another.

In 1808 there were fifty store-keepers or merchants. In 1817 there were 109
stores of various kinds in the city ; and in 1836 there were 250 stores.

There is no doubt that Pittsburgh has, in her devotion to manufactures, neg-
lected her mercantile and commercial opportunities. What those appear to others
ten or fifteen year since, the following extract from the Chicago Bureau indicates.

The editor says; "Pittsburgh has always been, by its natural advantages and
manufactories, a supply point for the west ; which has also been the chief market
for its production. We believe in a healthy competition as the life of progress and
trade. Yet, when one visits these vast and varied factories ; notes the natural
union here of minerals and fuel ; the ponderous combinations of machinery^
skilled labor and capital ; with the able and experienced brains at work in the
management of the same, he is apt to think there can be little chance elsewhere
for the same enterprise with much show of success. It is certain that there is ^mall
probability of a discovery at any other point of similar combined advantages for manu-^

" Were we located at Pittsburgh, however, we should counsel her citizens not to continue
the error they are at present guilty of: namely — a neglect of commercial interests, wMIq.
securing the supremacy of manufactures.

The locality of Pittsburgh as a commercial center as well as a manufacturing
one is equally strong. '• The natural position for trade of that city (Pittsburgh) is
something wonderful to think q/"," is the terse way in which the writer of the extract
from the Chicago Bureau, before quoted, expresses an opinion held in even so re-
markable a city as Chicago. Not only has Pittsburgh the great and growing rail-
road forces to reach and supply trade, but, as before expressed, those '^ very roads
have an increasing power in that they are centered into a city of what wiU shortly

Online LibraryGeorge H. (George Henry) ThurstonAllegheny county's hundred years → online text (page 30 of 43)