George H. (George Henry) Thurston.

Allegheny county's hundred years online

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Philadelphia, and by 1860 the main lines to Cincinnati and Chicago were in op-
eration. Thereafter the railroad facilities of Allegheny county continued to in-
crease, until now twelve distinct roads center at Pittsburgh, six of which are
strictly trunk lines, and the other by their comprehensive connection virtually so.

The railroad is the child of the day, and there needs no review of its past, as
of the pack-horse, the Conestoga wagons, the stage coach and the canal boats, to


call forth reminiscences. There is, however, a reminiscent anecdote toucliing the
running of locomotives over the mountains connected with the building of the
Pennsylvania Kaih'oad illustrative of their early building and their working now.
The road across the mountains was built in the face of adverse criticism from
many leading civil engineers of the day, who regarded the plan as impracticable.
While in charge of the construction of the mountain division Mr. J. Edgar
Thomson, afterwards superintendent of the road, met at Hollidaysburg James
Burns, of Lewiston, then State Superintendent of Public Works. The conversa-
tion that passed between them is thus related by Burns :

"I asked him how he expected to take the cars over the mountains. He said
by locomotives. Then I saw the man was a fool. I thought Pd find out just how
big a fool he was, so I asked him how long he expected a train to be in running
from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia. ' Fifteen hours,' he said. Then I knew the
man was a howling idiot and left him."

Whatever the city of Pittsburgh has gained in the past from her unrivalled
water highways, and however much she may hope to acquire in the future under
some comprehensive system of river improvements by the National Grovernment,
her present and her future is largely influenced by the facilities for railway trans-
portation the city may possess.

Located midway between an empire of population on the east and an empire
of people on the west, to both of which the products of Pittsburgh, and the con-
sumption thereof, are requisites to their own commerce, and the city's facilities for
railroad communication with either section is direct, comprehensive and well sus-
tained. There is no city of the Union whose railway system so comprehensively
grasps, in a day's travel, the three great cities and export ports of the nation.
With equal directness and force Pittsburgh stretches out a giant hand to grasp the
trade of the West; literally, as well as metaphorically, for the delineation of the
western railway routes of the city on the map is strikingly similar to an out-
stretched hand.

Eastwardly by the Pennsylvania Eailroad to Philadelphia it attaches to
New York and the North-east by the New Jersey railroads, and to Baltimore
and the South by the Northern Central Kailroad, which connects with the Penn-
sylvania Railroad at Harrisburg.

North-easterly by the Allegheny Valley Railroad the great trunk lines
of the lake routes are reached, and a second direct connection with New York
obtained. South-westerly by the Pittsburgh Division of the Baltimore &
Ohio Railroad a second direction is secured with Baltimore.

Thus, by her Eastern railways, two direct connections are available with New
York, and two with Baltimore ; while the admirable advantages of the Pennsyl-
vania Railroad give every facility to reach Philadelphia as well as New York and
Boston. There is no city where three so great and important cities concentrate by
their lines of railroads, traversed in such few hours, upon one community, so ad-
vantageously situated to distribute by water or by rail to the West.


Westwardly by the Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne & Chicago Kailroad to Chi-
cago, it embraces in its connections the entire net- work of roads which cover the
States of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, and reaches by various roads through the
States of Missouri and Iowa.

By the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railroad not only is a second
avenue to Chicago and the North-west secured, but a direct route to St. Louis,
140 miles shorter from the East than that by way of Buffalo and Cleveland. By
this road a second and different connection is formed with the net of roads which
so thoroughly intersect the States of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, and the States be-
yond the Mississippi.

Northwardly by the Cleveland & Pittsburgh Railroad the Pittsburgh
railway system reaches the Lakes at Cleveland, and by the steamboat routes on
them, with which this road forms close connections, the railroads of Chicago and
Detroit, and thence westwardly. As a northern route this one is extremely valu-

By the Erie & Pittsburgh Railroad another direct Northern route is had
as well as a second connection with the great East and West Lake lines of rail-
road, giving yet another facility for reaching the East, as well as the West and

By the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie another route is had to the North, North-
west and West and East through its connections with East and West lines, at its
intersection therewith in Ohio, aud also with the lakes, thus giving Pittsburgh
access to the supply of the lake region by four distinct routes.

By the Pittsburgh, Virginia & Charleston access is had towards the
South along the south banks of the Monongahela, and by possible extension in
future into Western Virginia, and thus into the great central South.

The Western Pennsylvania Railroad gives facilities along the north
shore of the Allegheny, and an auxilliary connection east by way of the Penn-
sylvania Railroad.

The Pittsburgh & Western also gives facilities along the north bank of the
Allegheny river, and in its future extensions or connections another route to the

The Pittsburgh, McKeesport & Youghiogheny furnishes a second route
up the course of the Youghiogheny and to the Connellsville coke regions, and
possibly, in the future, in its extensions, a third trunk line to the sea coast.

The value of the trunk lines to the growth of Pittsburgh, and their power of
consumption of her products, is indicated by the population along their routes and
the agricultural and manufacturing values contained in the counties through which
they pass. By the census of 1880 there were in those counties— served by four
main branches alone — 4,268,919 inhabitants; a cash value of farms of $1,221,383,-
473 ; a cash value of farm products, annually, |189,634,059 ; a cash value of live
stock, $113,612,804. There were 27,764 manufacturing establishments, which con-
sumed materials to the value of $489,771.72, and produced articles to the amount
of $577,995,091.


To-day Pittsburgh originates more freight than any other city in the United
States, except, perhaps, New York City.

Until 1864 such a thing as through freight was unknown to Pittsburgh ship-
pers. Each railroad carried goods to the terminus of its line, where they had to
be unloaded and reshipped on the next road. Each railroad company had its own
freight depot, which were generally wide apart and the freight had to be wagoned
between them. In this year, however, the Union Star freight line, founded prin-
cipally through the efforts of Wm. Thaw, began to ship freight through over the
Pennsylvania Central and the newly bnilt Western lines.

A consideration of the consumptions, the purchasing power, the traffic import-
ance, the transportations, the travel, the circulation of money, which these statis-
tics represent, show forcibly the wealth and importance of the markets these four
lines alone chain to Pittsburgh by their facilities, and the value of the lines in
themselves as the transportation agents of all that this wealth, production and con-
sumption represents.

It is the centrality of Pittsburgh's position on these lines, so briefly sketched,
that renders this system of railways so valuable to her progress. By it an econ-
omy of time in the transit of goods is secured ; and, as before pointed out, her pro-
ducts need but travel half diameters to be distributed over a wide circle. All
quarters of that circumference Pittsburgh's railway system markedly and admira-
bly bisects ; and beyond the rim thereof, at the Mississippi, connects with the
trans-Mississippi roads to all the wide markets beyond in the most direct manner.

Marching with rapid steps to the position of a metropolitan manufacturing
center Pittsburgh has at her command a railway system equal to her demand for
supplies of whatever nature, and to her distribution requirements, whatever may
be the magnitude of her productions.


Financial Institutions.

A narrative of the financial institutions of Allegheny county in a succinct form
that will embrace correct chronological and geneological data is a difficult task.
In attempting it many obstacles have arisen that may prevent its being given a&
thoroughly as was designed, not the least among these being the difficulty of obtain-
ing from those who were supposed to be the most interested, a concession of such
time as would be required to examine the archives of the various institutions. The
indifference that prevails as to the past has elsewhere been noted, and the rapidity
with which" the business exactions of the present are destroying memories of past
actors in the building up of the business interest of the county. It is said that the
eyes of the old are turned backward, but the young ever look forward, and when
the effort is made to collect in some general preservable shape the data relative to>
business institutions or firms whose origination is in the past, the active generations
of to-day have forgotten, and the retired or retiring veterans are few. To hunt
among musty papers of years past is a task to which neither their inclinations-
urge the actors of to-day, nor does their time permit, under the crowding pressure
of so rapidly progressing a community as Pittsburgh, and especially has this been
found the case among the financial institutions of the county. What has been
gathered has been given, as some account of Allegheny county's record during its-
hundred years in that class of business, and for the reasons given even that is, per-
force, confined to the briefest statements. It will be, however, sufficient to enable
some historian in the future to make a fuller narrative.

The first bank in Pittsburgh was established January 1, 1804, in a stone build-
ing which stood on Second street between Ferry street and Chancery lane. It wa&
a branch of the Bank of Pennsylvania, and was the first bank west of the Alle-
gheny Mountains. John Wilkins was the first president of this branch and Thos,
L. Wilson its first cashier. John Thaw, father of Wm. Thaw, vice president of
the Pennsylvania Railroad, came from Philadelphia here as the first teller of thi&
branch. In the board of directors were Ebenezer Denny, subsequently the first
mayor of Pittsburgh, Presley Neville, Abram Kirkpatrick, Adamson Tannehill^
George Stevenson and John Wilkins, Jr., all of whom had been officers in the
Revolutionary Army. As president John Wilkins was succeeded by James-
O'Hara, identified with the earlier glass manufacturing in the city. Mr. O'Hara
was the president at the time this bank was merged in the United States Bank in
1817, and the branch became the Office of Discounts and Deposits of the United
States. James Corry being the cashier in 1833, he resigned to accept the cashier-
ship of the Merchants and Manufacturers Bank, organized that year, and wa&
succeeded by John Thaw. It continued to occupy the stone building until 1830^,
when it removed to the banking house now occupied by the Mechanics National
Bank, where it remained until its dissolution from the expiration of the charter


of the parent bank, when it was rechartered as a branch of the United States
Bank of Pennsylvania in 1836, which continued for three or four years and failed
from cotton speculations, a forerunner of others who came to a similar end from
their officers being tempted to embark the capital of the bank in enterprises out-
ride of its legitimate province of legitimate banking. There has not, it is believed,
been a bank failure in the city where the officials have conscientiously guarded the
interest of the bank in this respect.

The second bank, and perhaps justly to be styled the first bank at Pittsburgh, as
it was organized here and its capital supplied by Pittsburgh merchants, was the
Pittsburgh Manufacturing Company, which was organized in 1810, and did a
banking and insurance business, beginning business in 1812 as a partnership. An
application had been made for a charter, which was not obtained. In 1814, how-
ever, a charter was obtained, and the Pittsburgh Manufacturing Company was
merged into the present Bank of Pittsburgh.

The Bank of Pittsburgh was chartered in 1813-14, and organized for busi-
ness on November 22, 1814, with the following board of directors : Wm. Wilkins,
Oeorge Anshutz, Jr., Thomas Cromwell, Nicholas Cunningham, John Darragh,
William Hays, William McCandless, James Morrison, John M. Snowden, Craig
Ritchie, George Allison, James Brown and J. P. Skelton. On the 28th of No-
vember, 1814, Wm. Wilkins was chosen president, and Alexander Johnstone, Jr.,
cashier of the bank. The capital of the bank was nominally at this time $600,-
€00 ; of this only $250,000 had been paid up to 1833, which in 1834 was increased
to 11,200,000.

Mr. Wilkins, who resigned November, 1819, was succceeded in the presidency
hj John Darragh, who was followed by John McDonald, and he by Wm. H.
Denny, who, in April, 1835, was succeeded by John Graham. In 1866 Mr. Gra-
ham was succeeded in the prebidency by John Harper, who entered the bank in
1832 as chief clerk, which position he retained until 1850, when he became assis-
tant cashier; and on John Snyder's resignation in 1857, cashier, and on the retir-
ing of Mr. Graham, in 1866, president, as above stated. Tliis oSice he still fills,
^fter fifty-six years of continuous service in the same institution, nearly three-
fourths of the bank's existence, having filled all the official grades from clerk to
president, being to-day the oldest bank officer in continuous service in the city.
On Mr. Harper's succession to the presidency, Wm. Roseburg was elected in
March, 1866, cashier, which position he still fills. John A. Harper being subse-
<]|uently elected assistant cashier. The bank declared its first dividend of four per
cent, on May 15, 1815, and has paid regular semi annual dividends ever since,
having paid up to May, 1888, one hundred and forty-six dividends, amounting to
over $6,000,000, and has a surplus of $399,125.44. During the general suspension
of specie payments in consequence of the Civil war it paid out in redemption of
its notes and deposits $1,375,000 in gold.

On August 2, 1814, the Farmers' and Mechanics' Bank of Pittsburgh was char-
tered with a capital of $450,000, began business and was apparently prosperous.


John Scull, one of the proprietors of the Gazette, was president, and George Lucky,
was its first cashier. He was succeeded by Morgan Neville as cashier. Morgan
Neville was also one of the proprietors and, for a considerable period, editor of the
Gazette. The bank was robbed on the night of April 6, 1818, by a couple of men
named Pluymart and Emmons. In that robbery the gold medal awarded by Con-
gress to Gen. Daniel Morgan for heroism at Cowpens was lost and has never been
recovered. The credit of the bank was hopelessly shaken by the robbery and it
finally resolved to wind up its affairs July 20, 1819, when it had only $9000 in
notes outstanding and $118,000 in demands against solvent parties. It did nothing
further as a bank than to carry out the purpose of this resolution. Morgan Ne-
ville resigned as its cashier November 29, 1819, having been elected SheriflT of
Allegheny county, but continued as editor of the Gazette.

Emmons was subsequently captured but Pluymart escaped. Emmons told
where the money was secreted, below Beaver on the Ohio road at a point after-
wards known as Pluymart's Rock. Emmons went with his captors and showed
where the money was hidden, and $100,000 of the bank's notes and $1,800 of specie
was recovered. Emmons expressed surprise that there was so little specie, and said
that Pluymart must have visited the place and carried off some of the money.
Pluymart was afterwards captured in Odgensburg, N. Y., with about $.5,000 on his
person. He was sentenced to three years in the penitentiary, but subsequently
escaped in company with a prisoner named Garrabrants. The robbers obtained
entrance into the bank by stealing- the key from the city watchman's box, where it
was kept, while he was warming his feet at his stove. By this means they entered
the bank several times, always hanging the key up in the box without disturbing
the watchman. In this way they obtained the dimensions of all the keyholes
by measurements, and were enabled to make the robbery unmolested, and without

In 1818-19 what was called the City Bank, organized and opened for business-
in a house then owned by Wm. Eobinson, Jr., where Wm. McCully & Co.'s glass
warehouse now is, 18 and 20 Wood street. The president was the Kev. Robert
Patterson, who kept a book store, Anthony Ernest, cashier. The bank made but
one discount and then closed, the notes which it paid out were afterwards redeemed
at the book store of the president. What was the cause of this sudden death of
the institution does not appear. It may be presumed it was a bank mystery.

In 1830, or about that date, Geo. A. Cook opened a banking house on Fourth
street about where the Farmers Deposit National Bank now stands, in connection
with which was the firm of Cook & Cassett, dealing in real estate. The selling of
lottery tickets was then an authorized business, and Mr. Cook made that a part of
his business. He was succeeded, about 1837, by E. Sibbett & Co., then Sibbett &
Jones, about 1840, afterwards S. Jones & Co., (Judge Samuel Jones, Michael Jones,
John Jones.)

In 1821-2 the private banking house of N. Holmes & Sons was established.
This old firm had its origin with James and Gordon Gilmore, v'ho had a cloth Irouse


in 1819, on Water st., with which they established a small banking business. Thej
^vent to Cincinnati in or about 1819-20, where they engaged in the banking busi-
ness and continued it until quite old. When he left Pittsburgh Nathaniel Holmes
succeeded to the business, the firm of J. Gilmore & Co., at Cincinnati, being for many
years a correspondent of N. Holmes & Sons. Nathaniel Holmes established his
bank about 1821-2, and subsequently associating with him his son, Thos. E., and
later Nathaniel, the firm became N. Holmes & Sons, under which style it still con-
tinues, there being a Nathaniel of the third generation now of the house. This
private bank is the second oldest banking institution in the city, having been sixty-
seven years in existence, passing from father to son in unbroken succession without
interruption from any cause.

In 1833 the Merchants & Manufacturers Bank was organized, at which time it
was chartered by the State. It began business in June, 1833, with a capital of
$600,000, the par value of the shares being |50. The first board of directors were
Michael Tiernan, Isaac Lightner, T. B. Dallas, Jacob Forsythe, Thomas S.
Clark, Geo. A. Cook, Fred. Lorenz, Samuel Church, Thos. Scott, Francis G. Bailey,
Samuel Smith, S. Fahnestock, and John H. Shoenberger.

The first president was Michael Tiernan, from June 4th, 1833, to April 10th,
1845, he dying on the day of the great fire. He was succeeded by Thos. Scott,
April 14th, 1845, who served until November 26th, 1849, when he was succeeded
by Francis G. Bailey November 26th, 1849, who served until November 25th, 1850,
when he was succeeded by Thos. Scott from November 25th, 1850, until October
13th, 1857, and he by H. L. BoUman, from October 15th, 1857, to January 15thj
1873, and he by Robt. H. Hartley, from January 15th, 1873, to October 13th, 1875,
when, he dying, was succeeded by Wm. Rea, who was succeeded by Eeuben Miller,
Jr., and he by E. M. Ferguson, now president.

The first cashier was James Corry who served from June 5th, 1833, until July
2d, 1836, when he was succeeded by Jesse Carothers, who served from July 2d,
18S6, to February 1st, 1842, when he was succeeded by W. H. Denny, who served
from February 1st, 1842, to May 10th, 1863, T. B. Dickson acting cashier from
May 11th, 1863, to June 1st, 1863, at which latter date John Scott, Jr. was elected
-cashier and served until February 1st, 1874, when William A. Shaw was elected
cashier on February 16th, 1874, and continues to hold the office. The bank has
paid since its organization |3,141,000 of dividends, and its surplus and undivided
profits>re $103,000.

In 1836 the Exchange Bank was chartered by the Legislature of Pennsylvania,
with a capital of $1,000,000, and the fii-st meeting of its board of directors was
held May 18th, 1836. The first board of directors were, Wm. Eobinson, Jr., Syl-
vanus Lathrop, James E. Ledlie, Geo. Wallace, Tobias Meyers, B. A. Fahnestock,
Samuel P. Darlington, John Grier, John Freeman, W. G. Alexander, James W.
Erown, Samuel Baird, Harvey Childs. It began business in a small store building
on the north side of Second street, between Market and Ferry, but soon removed
to its new building on Fifth avenue, near Wood street, where it continued business


for thirty-six years. In 1873 its present banking house was begun, and in 1874 it
moved in. Wm. Eobinson, Jr., was elected the first president of the bank. He
served until the close of 1851, when he was succeeded by Thos. M. Howe, in 1852.
On Mr. Howe retiring from the presidency, he continued a director until his death,
being thirty-seven years in continuous connection with the bank in an official
capacity. Mr. Howe was succeeded by James M. Murray, and John H. Shoen-
berger succeeded Mr. Murray. On Mr. Shoenberger resigning, Mark W. Watson,
the present incumbent of the office, succeeded him.

The first cashier was John Foster, Jr., and on Mr. Foster resigning in 1839
Thos. M. Howe succeeded him, Mr. Howe resigning in 1852, having been elected
president. James B. Murray was elected cashier.

On Mr. Howe retiring from' the presidency of the bank Mr. Murray resigned
to succeed him, and Henry M. Murray was elected cashier. Henry M. Murray
resigned on November 30, 1869, at which date he was succeeded by Andrew Long
who is now cashier. On April 8th, 1865, the bank was chartered under the U. S.
laws as a Nationnal Bank, and its title changed to the Exchange National Bank,
and its capital is now |1, 200,000. The bank has paid since its organization as a
National Bank $3,655,000 of dividends. Its regular surplus is $400,000; other
profits, $104,094. The par value of its stock is $50 per share ; its book value $70,
and its market value $80.

In 1833 was organized the Pittsburgh Savings Fund Company, which was re-
chartered as the Farmers Deposit Company in 1844.

The organization of the Pittsburgh Savings Fund Company, which thus be-
came the nucleus of one of the leading financial institutions of the city, was
effected by ten men paying in $10 apiece as capital, and subsequently adding $2
a week apiece. Their number soon swelled to fifty, but they were very particular
as to who could be admitted, one black ball being sufficient to reject. The orig-
inal ten members were James Fulton, who was the first president ; James Ander-
son, the first secretary; Keuben Miller, Jr., the first treasurer; James Marshall,
James Armstrong, Nathan Carlisle, Hugh Sweney, Eobert Galway, Samuel George
and Gabriel Adams.

The first banking house was on St. Clair street, now Sixth, at which time
James McAuley was its first clerk or cashier, the bank having but one at that
time. In May, 1841, the title of the bank was changed to the Farmers Deposit
Bank and its place of business removed to 57 Fourth avenue, and Gabriel Adams
elected president and Thompson Bell cashier. On May 13, 1845, James Marshall
was elected president, which office he held until his death, when William Walker
succeeded him. April 17, 1849, Thompson Bell resigned, and John Magoffin was
elected his successor. The present site of the building was purchased in June,
1853, and an iron building erected. On June 25, 1857, the Farmers Deposit Bank

Online LibraryGeorge H. (George Henry) ThurstonAllegheny county's hundred years → online text (page 34 of 43)