George H. (George Henry) Thurston.

Allegheny county's hundred years online

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households there is no coffee roasting, except from an occasional " whim." John
Arbackle, of Arbuckle & Co., was the first to see to what extent this field in the
<X)ffee trade of the United States could be cultivated, while the house of Dil-
worth Bros, are an energetic second in the race.

There are also in Pittsburgh six distinctive tea houses, making 26 strictly
wholesale grocery, tea, and roast coffee houses, the latter being carried on by the
same firms that are in the general grocery business. In 1856 there were 31 whole-
sale grocery houses in Pittsburgh, although there were some that did a mixed
business of groceries, liquors and produce. The sale of those firms amounted to
something over $7,500,000. In 1876 there were 21 firms transacting a strictly
wholesale grocery business, with sales to an average of $12,250,000 a year, employ-
ing 250 hands, being an increase in sales of 80 per cent., with a decrease of nearly
one third in number of firms. In 1886 there were 26 firms, employing about 500
hands, whose sales were over $22,500,000 being an increase of about ninety per
cent, in ten years, and over the sales of 1856, in thirty years, of 200 per cent.

The Produce Trade

is, while one in its general acceptation, divided into three classes, the grain and
hay dealers, the general produce commission firms, and the wholesale flour houses.
Touching the first division of this trade it is said in " Pittsburgh's Progress, In-
dustries and Resources" (1886) :

" Whatever may have been said in previous pages of the difficulty of obtaining
absolute statistics of any department of the trade of Pittsburgh may be repeated of
the produce business. This is especially the case with the grain trade, and what
figures are here given are but indicative of what the business is, not an exhibit of
its real proportions, which is something ' no man can find out.' Even the ' Pro-
duce Exchange' of the city confesses itself beat on this point from the willful neg-
lect or indifference of its own members. In presenting other matters in this vol-
ume touching the resources of Pittsburgh this failure of application of the power
of the fullest possible exhibit of business transacted as a magnet to attract capital,
enterprise and trade, has been lamented. Business is like a snowball, gathering
as it grows, and still gathering greater bulk as it increases in size. It needs no
great business acumen to understand that there is no inducement for produce to go
to a small market or a sluggish one, but that to one of a reverse character the
natural flow of trade is. That Pittsburgh is neither a small market or a sluggish
one there are many facts to show, but that it is statistically a secretive one is also
true. Whether this comes from certain inbred characteristics that obtained in
the early days of Pittsburgh's settlement and growth, or from an absence of public
spirit that fosters a trade selfishness which is as a stupefying vapor to commercial
progress, cannot be said, most probably a mixture of both.

There is no doubt that if the full statistics of the produce business of Pittsburgh
could be presented as thoroughly as those of some other cities that the showing of
its magnitude would not only be a surprise, but create thereby fresh accretions of
capital and material for transactions. Be that as it may, the bulk of the produce
business of the city of Pittsburgh, notwithstanding the adverse influence comment-


ed on, has been for the past several years steadily on the increase, though it is far
from what the position of the city should command. There is no better point for
the holding of grain for the advantages of the eastern and foreign markets. The
western rivers and railways afford admirable facilities for the concentration of
grain or other produce at this point."

From the governing reason that called out the above quoted remarks, and
which appears from previous publications to be a constitutional characteristic of
this branch of trade, there are no statistics by which the status of the trade at
various dates can be prepared. There were, however, eighteen firms transacting a
wholesale hay and grain business in 1836, also six wholesale flour houses and four
flour mills. There were also twenty-seven general produce commission firms, and
one exclusive cheese house, selling 3,500,000 pounds of cheese yearly. The general
commission houses, in 1886, made sales to the amount of $4,000,000. As observed
in the quotation, just what amount of business these twenty-eight firms transact
cannot be obtained, nor, therefore, can any complete statistics of this branch of the
business be compiled. However, a report of the Pittsburgh Chamber of Com-
merce, for 1882, gives the transactions of the flour and grain dealers for that year
at $4,891,630, and the produce business at $2,000,000. A report of the same body
for 1884, give the transactions of the flour and grain dealers and flour mills at
$7,970,000, or an increase in two years of nearly fifty per cent. The figures ob-
tained for the produce trade in 1886, as compared with those of the report of the
Chamber of Commerce of 1882, shows an increase in the four years of 100 per
cent. An authority before quoted says:

" Although such figures as could be obtained were so incomplete for the year
of 1885 of the flour and grain trade, yet sufficient Avas gotten to indicate that the
progress shown from 1882 to 1884 was continued from 1884 to 1886, and the busi-
ness most probably sums up to $10,000,000."

If to this, assuming that it is approximately reliable, is added the statistics of
the produce commission firms, it may be assumed that the entire sales of this
branch of the mercantile interest of Pittsburgh will amount to some where in the
neighborhood of from $14,000,000 to $15,000,000. It is a great mistake that those
interested in these branches of the city's trade "hide their candle under a bushel,"
and prevent the great proportions of its produce business from being seen, and
thus secure to the city the advantages that Avould 'arise from the reputation of its
being an important produce center. The

Wholesale Boot and Shoe Business

is carried on by nine firms, one of which dates back to 1817. The sale of these
firms average about $3,000,000 a year. In 1857 the sales of the seven firms which
in that year carried on that branch of business, are given at $456,000, which is
quite probable is below the actual figures. In 1876 the same firms made sales to
the amount of $1,600,000, or 300 per cent, increase; and in 1886 the sales were
compiled at over $3,000,000, being an advance on the great increase of 1876 from
1856 of about 50 per cent., and over 600 per cent, on the sales of thirty years pre-


vious. This is indicative of the increase of the wholesale business of the city, and
corresponds with that in other branches, and indicates an advance along the entire-
line of mercantile interests.

In 1887 a corporation, entitled the Pittsburgh Shoe Company, was organized,,
and began making boys' and men's fine and medium grade of shoes. Their factory
is of three stories, about 120x60 feet, with an L. The president is Gabriel Mayer;
secretary, J. F. Grimes ; treasurer, Philip Wagner. Their present capacity is 300
pairs of shoes a day, and they employ seventy hands. The outlook is for a suc-
cessful establishment of this addition to Allegheny county's industries, as they
have now more orders for shoes than they can fill. Why shoe manufacturing
should not become an industry of larger proportions here is a question. Pitts-
burgh is not only a large market for leathers, but that from the tanneries of
Allegheny county is, in many kinds, the standard of the markets all over the
country. Pittsburgh is, geographically, a central point for distribution, and it is
possible that in the "may-be's" of the future New England may find a rival in
Allegheny county, as it has in other manufactures.

There are four hat houses who are exclusively wholesalers of this class of goods
viz. : McCord & Co., 509 Wood st., established 1798 by Eobert Peebles, which is.
the oldest house west of the mountains in this line of business, having been estab-
lished when there were but 1,395 inhabitants in the then village of Pittsburghr
and is probably the establishment mentioned in "A View of the Trade of the City
in 1803" as selling 2,800 fur and wool hats at |5 each, and ninety dozen chip hats>
at 17.50 per dozen. There is also W. J. Moreland, 406 Wood street, established
in 1839 by E. H. Palmer ; Oppenheimer & Kaufman, 705 Liberty street ; J. L.
Cooper & Co., 636 Liberty street. These four firms transact a business of between
1450,000 and $500,000 annually, employing about thirty-five hands.

Pittsburgh is the recognized head of the market of the United States for cer-
tain kinds of leather, among which that which is technically known as harness-
leather, of which that of Pittsburgh make is the market standard. It was natural
that in view of the oak and hemlock forests of Western Pennsylvania that this
industry should early take root at Pittsburgh.

Of the first tanneries established at this point there is no authentic informations
but in 1808 there were, according to "Cramer's Almanac," which gives at that,
date a statement of the '' master workmen " in the town, seven tanners. In 1812,
according to the same publication, there were in the town six tanneries.* In 1817,
in a report made by order of the Town Council, there were seven. In 1857 there
were, as given in " Pittsburgh As It Is," thirteen tanneries having 477 vats, em-
ploying 132 hands. In 1876 there were fourteen tanneries employing 166 hands,,,
who tanned 70,000 hides, besides calf and sheep skins, and the value of their pro-
duct is stated at $850,080. One of those earlier tanneries established in 1790 hy
William Hays is virtually continued in existence at the present date.

In 1888 there were twenty tanneries. These twenty tanneries occupy an area
of thirty acres and employ about 750 hands. The value of the plants is estimated


-at $750,000 and the value of the output as near as figures can be had is $3,500,000.
Outside of the tanneries, mention of which is made in another chapter, there
are four strictly wholesale dealers in leather and hides. These four firms value
their business transactions at $500,000 to $600,000.

This would make the leather business of the city something over $4,000,000.

The Carpet Business

At Pittsburgh, as a distinctive mercantile business, dates back to about fifty years
-since. In 1834 Samuel Thompson, who, in 1807, with his brother John, carried
on a cloth and tailoring store one door from the corner of Market and Water
streets, began the selling of carpets in connection with dry goods at the corner of
Fourth and Market streets. In 1837 he relinquished the dry goods business to his
son Washington, continuing the carpet business on the second floor of 110 Market
■street. In 1835 he disposed of the carpet business at 110 Market steeet to his son-
in-law, who, in connection with David Noble, formed the firm of W.McClintock &
Co., Mr. Thompson organizing the firm of Samuel Thompson & Son (Robert D.
Thompson), and selling carpets on Wood street near Fifth avenue. This firm
soon dissolved, and Robert D. Thompson succeeded David Noble in the firm of W.
McClintock & Co., who opened a new store at 75 Fourth avenue.

The building was burned in the fire of 1845. When rebuilt the firm again
•occupied it, but in 1853 removed to 110 Market street again. In 1854 Alexander
and George L. were admitted to partnership, under the firm style of McClintock

The firm was dissolved in 1855, W. McClintock continuing the business alone
qintil 1862, when his son Oliver was admitted to partnership, the firm style being
McClintock & Son. This firm was dissolved in 1863, and the firm of Oliver Mc-
Clintock & Co. (Oliver McClintock, W. McClintock, George R. Senior,) was formed
January 8th, 1863, and purchased the carpet store of Robinson & Co. at what is
now 33 Fifth avenue, W. McClintock continuing the business at 110 Market street
until 1864, when he retired from the carpet business. He died July 28th, 1870.
On January 1st, 1864, Walter L. McClintock was admitted as a partner to the
firm of Oliver McClintock & Co. On January 1st, 1874, Thompson McClintock
was admitted a partner in the firm, and on January 1st, 1884, upon the retirement
•of George R. Senior, Frank L. McClintock became a partner in the firm.

The four brothers, Oliver, Walter L., Thompson and Frank L., under the style
•of Oliver McClintock & Co., perpetuate the direct line of business succession from
1807 of their maternal grandfather and their father; W. McClintock & Co. being
-among and perhaps the only one of the old firms of the county whose business
dates back more than fourscore years in direct family succession.

Other firms dealing in carpets were afterwards established, among whom were
IV. McCallum & C, about 1850, since closed out; McFarland & Collins, now J.
W. McFarland, April, 1863 ; Bovard & Rose, Dec, 1866, and E. Groetzinger, in 1885,
who also commenced in the dry goods business in 1862, and who in the former


year abandoned the dry goods business to deal exclusively in carpets, combining-
a large wholesale carpet department with the retail.

The Furniture Business of Pittsburgh is largely of a retail nature. There
are some eight firms manufacturing special articles, one firm employing 175 hands,,
manufacturing all descriptions of furniture, and seven others making special ar-
ticles. These eight firms employ an aggregate of 300 hands, and manufacture fur-
niture to the amount of about $550,000 a year. There are some exclusive retail
establishments who also finish up goods and do some wholesaleing. The whole
number of firms is about forty, employing some 400 hands, and their sales aggre-
gate $1,250,000 a year, and the furniture business of the city will approximate
$1,800,000. In this class of business the selling of carpets has been combined
with that of furniture, as also in some carpet houses the sale of furniture. Into
this business has also been introduced the feature of installment sales, which was
first introduced in Pittsburgh by W. H. Keech, combining carpet, furniture and
upholstry. The sale of carpets with some descriptions of furniture has also been
adopted by upholstry firms, so that it is difficult to make any statistical statement
of the furniture business as a distinct branch of business.

The Clothing Business

of Pittsburgh has somewhat changed its character since the days when the mak-
ing of "buckskin breeches" to the value of $500 were of sufficient importance to
be one of the items in an exposition of the manufactures of the time — in 1803 —
and the making of "linsey woolsey" was an important item. The "buckskin
breeches" and the "linsey woolsey" disappeared before the advent of "store
clothes," and although there were no visions then of the immense ready-made
clothing houses of the present day, there were undoubtedly "custom tailors" from
whose small shops the working man and the fashionable gentleman of the day
were fitted out in the latest fashion with broadcloth, cassimere and cassinet
adornments. The "ready-made" clothing stores came later, in the gradual growth
of population. It was about 1838-40 that the "Three Big Doors," as it was
called, of John McClosky's ready-made clothing establishment was projected and
opened — the prototype of Gusky's immense bazaar of to-day. Although but a
little 24x60 feet building, it was for several years a notoriety of the city, and its
piles of ready-made coats, vests and pantaloons were a wonder. It was a favorite
dealing place for the raftsmen from up the Allegheny, the coal miners and farm-
ers from the country round. Others soon followed in McClosky's wake, and ready-
made clothing houses began to abound. These found rivals that began to spring
up in other towns and villages, and the establishment of wholesale houses for
ready-made clothing became a promising field for business investments. In about
1847-50 this branch of Pittsburgh's mercantile industries began to develop, be-
ing at first in combination with the retail houses. In 1850 Klee & Kaufmann
entered the field as an exclusive wholesale firm. In 1865 this firm was succeeded
by J. Klee & Bro., and they by J. Klee & Co. in 1880, the style of the firm still
bein7 J. Klee & Co.


In 1857 H. & M. Oppenheimer established the second wholesale house, who
^vere succeeded by M. Oppenheimer, under which style the business is still carried
on. The two firms existing in 1857 sold |600,000. In 1876 there were three
wholesale clothing firms, whose business was about $650,000, being an increase of
one firm and a small per cent, increase on the business of twenty years previous,
which was probably incorrectly returned, and is also to some extent accounted for
by the reaction in prices after the war and competition from the growth in firms
in similar business in the East.

In 1888 there were four firms, and the amount of sales as given was about
^700,000. Between 1860 and 1870 there were several firms who embarked in the
business, among whom were Hampton, Campbell & Co., who relinquished the dry
goods business for that purpose ; E. Frowenfield & Bro., and Morgenstern & Bro.,
the latter two subsequently removing from the city.

The growth of the retail business in this line has grown to be immense, several
of the firms engaged in it having almost palatial sales rooms, one of them —
Gusky's — occupying the front of an entire block. It is said that Pittsburgh is the
largest market for clothing in the country. Statistics would show this, but cannot
be obtained. This business, as in others, has become divided into classes, there
being houses exclusively making pantaloons, and others special garments. There
are also some two or three firms dealing exclusively in ready-made ladies' clothing.

There are also three firms dealing in men's furnishing goods whose sales average
$350,000 a year, and four wholesale firms in what is known to the trade as "no-
tions" doing a business of from $150,000 to $175,000. There are six wholesale
queensware firms whose sales will run about 200,000 to 225,000 a year. One firm
in wooden and willow ware making sales to the amount of $200,000. Two who
deal in cordage, with sales to the amount of $200,000 annually. Six firms dealing
in agricultural machinery, whose sales will average $600,000 yearly. Four firms
selling rubber goods and leather belting with sales to the amount of quite $400,-
000. There are six firms dealing in machinery whose sales are over or about
$600,000. Two firms dealing in tin, spelter and similar metals and tinners' ma-
terial with sales to a value of $600,000 yearly. Four firms selling saddlery and
carriage hardware to amount of $600,000 yearly. Seven wholesale dealers in
sewer pipe, terra cotta ware and cement selling about $600,000 annually.

The tobacco business of Allegheny county is a large one. There are 250 cigar
factories, in which there are employed 750 hands, which make returns in the 23d
and 24th districts of the Internal Revenue, of $1,250,000. Several of the whole-
sale grocery houses have cigar factories of their own. One firm having a factory
in another district and making 10,000,000 cigars yearly. The making of cigars is
more largely carried on than any other branch of the tobacco business, with per-
haps the making of cut and dry and snuff by Weyman & Bro. whose factory was
established in 1823 by George Weyman. There are seven firms engaged in the
wholesaling of tobacco leaf, selling one year with another about 3,000,000 pounds.
There are also twenty-one wholesale firms selling tobacco and cigars. One firm


Heymer & Bro. giving especial attention to the importation of the finer grades.
Exact statistics of the monetary value of the tobacco trade, like those of many
others, could not be obtained, but from those collated the tobacco trade of Pittsburgh
may be estimated at $1,500,000 or over.

The wholesale liquor business amounts to $2,800,000 yearly, there being eigh-
teen firms engaged in it, and there are in addition some thirty other firms who
combine retail with wholesale, with about $1,200,000 more of sales.

There are eight wholesale firms dealing in paper, the value of whose business
is annually about $1,200,000.

There are five strictly wholesale jewelry firms. Of these Heeren Bros. & Co.
have a large factory for manufacturing, and is the only house who carry watch-
makers and jewelers supplies. These five firms sell goods annually to the value of

The Pork Packing business is also an important one, there being six firms
engaged in it. In 1856 there were seven firms transacting a business of $650,000.
In 1875 there were eight, whose business was short of $2,500,000, being, however,
an increase of 400 per cent, in twenty years. In 1886 there were but six firms,
being a decrease in firms of 25 per cent., but their business was stated at about
$3,000,000. This latter amount may be something less but is believed to be nearly

The foregoing is a summary of the wholesale mercantile interests, as embraced
in their leading classes, — several of which run into minor ramifications that are
not itemized, to mention which in detail would be to render this chapter prolix
The gross value of what may be considered as the mercantile interest, thereby
meaning the business of the firms noted in the foregoing paragraphs, and their
co-relative branches, may be estimated as from $70,000,000 to $75,000,000 yearly.
The statistics that have been given in a number of instances show that the city is
fast growing in importance as a commercial center. There is no reason why it
should not, it has all the advantages of geographical position, and great transpor-
tation facilities to render that available.

The Cracker Baking is an important branch of manufacturing business of the
city that is perhaps more properly classed among the manufacturing interests than
mercantile. The first bakery in Pittsburgh was established in 1786 by Hugh
Gardner and John Cowan, who, on December the 2d of that year, advertised in

the Gazette :

" As they mean to have biscuit ready baked and packed in barrels or kegs, or
loose for smaller demands, therefore, will be able to supply expeditiously those on
a passage down the Ohio river to Kentucky or elsewhere, and surveyors or others
going to uninhabited parts."

There are no further special mention, but in 1808, in the list of " master work-
men " published in that year there are six bakers mentioned. In the report of
1817 by a committee of Councils of manufactures, there is no mention made of
any of these cracker or other bakeries, although it cannot be supposed that the
business was not carried on. In 1856, Pittsburgh As It Is mentions E. & J.


Davis having a cracker bakery at 91 Liberty st., who were the successors of John
Davis who established the business in 1831. Of this establishment S. S. Marvin
& Co. were successors in 1866. In 1856 there were six factories producing crackers
to the amount of |114,000. In 1876 there were four cracker manufactories whose
sales averaged about $500,000. In 1886 there were five establishments, employing
380 hands, and the incomplete statistics shows an output of over $700,000. In 1888-
Pittsburgh has the largest cracker bakery in the United States, (S. S, Marvin &
Co.,) and five others, the value of whose output will exceed $1,000,000.

The Lumber Trade

of Pittsburgh is one that is largely supported by local demand. In 1807 there
were four lumber yards at Pittsburgh. In 1812 the quantity of lumber brought
down the Allegheny was 7,000,000 feet, worth about $70,000. In 1831 the amount
of lumber brought down the Allegheny was of a value of $300,000.

The increased demand consequent upon the rapid progress of the population
of the Ohio Valley and the manufactuies of Pittsburgh rapidly swelled the
amount of lumber annually cut on the Allegheny and its tributaries, until the
amount of lumber run from that section and sawed upon their banks increased.
About one-half of the entire "cut" of the mills was consumed at Pittsburgh; the
remaining half was taken to ports below and sold.

Of late years the supply from that section has not increased, but the amount

Online LibraryGeorge H. (George Henry) ThurstonAllegheny county's hundred years → online text (page 32 of 43)