George H. (George Henry) Thurston.

Allegheny county's hundred years online

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death of John B. Semple his son, Frank Semple, succeeded to his interest, the
firm style remaining unchanged until 1881, when John B. Jones, the surviving
partner of the original firm, sold his interest to Wm. E. Thompson, formerly
president of the Mechanics National Bank, and the firm style was changed to
Semple & Thompson, and has since become W. E. Thompson & Co.

There were other banking institutions, whicli have not only ceased to be, but
their memories are so lost that no reliable account of their existence or officers
can be gathered. The record that is here given has been difficult to obtain.


There are, no doubt, omissions and also errors, but they must be attributed, in
many cases, to the indifference of those who should be most interested, and pro-
crastination in others to furnish the information necessary until the hour, almost,
of the forms going to press.

The record tells its own story, so far as the narrative goes, of the progress in
Allegheny county in what is technically styled the banking business. The amount
of dividends paid in the eighty-five years embraced is, uncertain as it is, an im-
mense sum.

The earnings of the banks during the war period and for a number of years
after was much larger in proportion to the volume of business than at present. In
those days it was profitable to have circulation, and the National banks took out
all the law permitted, whereas, now it does not pay to purchase bonds at the high
premium necessary to pay the Government for the- circulation. The most of the
New York banks have reduced their circulation to a minimum, i. e., a deposit of
150,000 of bonus for $45,000 of circulation. The rates of interest on Governmental
bonds during the war was 7. 30 and 6 per cent, and the interest was paid in gold
and this was sold at times at a premium as high as 100 per cent. The high rates
of interest paid by the government compelled private borrowers to pay even high-
er rates and it was not uncommon for good paper to be discounted at from 9 to 10
per cent. While the rates of interest on bonds and on discount is much less than
before, the volume of business done by the banks is so much greater that the earn-
ings are kept up.

Insurance Companies.

The first insurance issued by a home company in Allegheny county was by the
Pittsburgh Manufacturing Company, in 1810, to William Wilkins, on his home
where the Monongahela House now stands, that company being chartered as a
banking and insurance company.

On the 1st of January, 1845, there were four solvent fire insurance companies
in Pittsburgh. On the close of April 10th, 1845, there was but one, the great fire
bankrupting the other three. The four were the Firemans, of which John D.
Davis was president, and Samuel Gormley secretary ; The Penn, of which Josiah
King was president, and John Finney secretary ; The Navigation, of which Michael
Allen was president, and James S. Craft secretary; The Allegheny Mutual, of
which Samuel R. Johnston was president, and John Robinson Secretary. Of these
the Navigation, which had a capital of $200,000, escaped ruin by the great fire.
Its capital was largely impaired, but it paid its losses and continued business on
$80,000 of capital, and was merged in the Western in 1849.

The Citizens Insurance Company was organized March 7th, 1849, with a capi*
tal of $100,000, par value of stock $50 per share. The first board of directors was


"Wm. Larimer, Jr., Robt. Woods, Wm. B. McClure, Joseph Plummer, Samuel Kier,
Josiah King, John Sheriff, Alex. Roseburg, H. D. King. The first president was

C. G. Hussey, who was succeeded by H. D. King, December, 1852, and he by Wm.
Bagaley, December, 1854, and he by Samuel Rea in 1875, and he by Wm. G. John-
ston, who is now president. A. M. Marks the first secretary, was succeeded Decem-
ber, 1851, by Samuel L. Marshall, and he, in 1860, by Samuel Rea, and he, in 1864,
by W. A, Shepard, and he, in 1871, by John Rea, and he by Walter Morris, in
1875, and he by James Ross Snively, October 1st, 1887. Total cash dividends paid
from organization, $679,000. Total losses paid, $1,246,000. The capital was in-
creased subsequently to $500,000.

The Western Insurance Company was organized in 1849, with an authorized
â– capital of $300,000, but $225,000 of it was subscribed. In November, 1884, the
remainder of the stock was issued. The first board of directors was

The first president was Rueben Miller, Jr., who served until December, 1855,
when he resigned to accept the presidency of the Mechanics Bank. He was suc-
ceeded at that date by George Darsie, who died in May, 1861, but had resigned
previously. He was succeeded by Reuben Miller, Jr., who served his second term
until June, 1865, when he resigned and Alex. Nimick succeeded him and has con-
tinued in office ever since.

John Finney, Jr., was the first secretary, he served about one year when, he
dying, Frank Gordon was elected his successor in 1850. He served until May,
1865, when he resigned to become the cashier of the Peoples National Bank, and
on June 4tli, 1865, Capt. W. P. Herbert was elected to succeed him. Capt. Her-
bert began his service in the company as an errand boy in 1854. In 1862 he en-
listed in the three year service, and while in it was elected the secretary as above.
The gross assets of the company are $447,011.33. In thirty-nine years it has paid
seventy-two dividends amounting to $1,014,250, and losses to the amount of

The Allegheny Insurance Company was incorporated January 27th, 1854, and
began business April 4th, 1859, with a capital of $100,000 ; par value of shares,
$50. The first president was Isaac Jones, who was succeeded by John Irwin Jan-
uary 1st, 1866, and served until January, 1880, when he declined re-election, and
was succeeded by Capt. Geo. W. Cochran, who served until January, 1887, when
declining a re-election, he was succeeded by Chas. Hays, who is now president.

D. M. Book, the first secretary served until January, 1886, when he was succeeded
by C. G. Donnell, who has filled that oflace since. The first vice president, John
D. McCord, served until January, 1869, when he moved to Philadelphia, and was
succeeded by Thos. J. Hoskinson, he serving until 1873, when he also moved to
Philadelphia, and was succeeded by James D. McCord, who now holds that office.
The total dividends paid by the company since its organization is $189,000, the
total losses, $508,000. Its surplus is $52,000. Book value of its stock, $75, market
value, $56.

The Monongahela Insurance Company was organized 1854 with an authorized
capital of $500,000, its place of business was at 98 Water street. James A. Hutch-


inson was its first president, and Henry M. Atwood its first secretary. James A.
Hutchinson resigned April 2d, 1867, and was succeeded by Wm. A. Colwell, who
has continued in office ever since. Henry M. Atwood resigned as secretary July
1st, 1863, and was succeeded by Henderson E. Davis, who resigned May 21st, 1864,
and was succeeded by J. H. Claney, who has continued in that oflace. The com-
pany has paid dividends since its organization to the amount of |433,435. and paid
losses to the amount of $541,304. Its capital stock paid up is $175,000, and surplus
$30,000. Par value of stock, $50.

The Pittsburgh Insurance Company was incorporated February 10th, 1851, as
the Pittsburgh Life Insurance Company. The incorporators and first board of
directors were James S. Hoon, Sam'l McClurkan, John S. Dilworth, Jos. S. Leech,
Chas. A. Colton, Wm. Phillips, John A. Wilson. James S. Hoon was elected
president, Sam'l McClurkan vice president and Chas. A. Colton secretary. On
March 27th, 1854, the title was changed to the Pittsburgh Life, Fire and Marine
Insurance Company. On February 18th, 1859, the name was again changed to
the Pittsburgh Insurance Company. February 14th, 1855, Robt. Galway succeed-
ed James S. Hoon, the first president, and he by James W. Hailman February 9thy
1860, and he by George Black February 11th, 1861, and he by Henry Lloyd Feb-
ruary 5th, 1873, and he by Chas. Arbuthnot February 30th, 1880, who is the pres-
ent president. On February 14th, 1855, Sam'l McClurkan, the first vice presidents
was succeeded by John Alpin, he was succeeded February 7th, 1856, by Chas.
Arbuthnot, and he by Alexander Bradley February 6th, 1858, and he by Chas. W.
Batchelor February 9th, 1860, and he by Sam'l McClurkan February 11th, 1868,
and he by James Gordon February 14th, 1872, and he by John Fullerton Febru-
ary 1st, 1887. Chas. A. Colton, the first secretary, was succeeded February 14th,
1855, by Jas. D. McGill, and he on February 7th, 1856, by Thos. Graham, and he
by F. A. Rinehart February 6th, 1858, and he by J. B. Livingston August 8d,
1863, and he by James Collard April 5th, 1864, and he by W. B. Neeper February
8th, 1867, and he by D. C. Hultz February 11th, 1868, and he by Hillis McKowan
March 24th, 1873, who has continued to fill the office since. Only $10 per share
was paid by the subscribers on account of the stock when the company was organ-
ized, the total cash paid by stockholders being $20,000, the balance being secured
by stock notes which were paid by stock dividends. The present cash capital is
$100,000. Assets, $274,278.15. Net surplus over capital stock, reinsurance and all
other liabilities, $157,370.29. Par value of stock, $50 per fchare. Market value of
stock, $125 per share. Losses paid since organization, $736,956.12. Dividends,

The German Fire Insurance Company was incorporated March, 1862, and be-
gan business July 1st, 1862, on Liberty avenue, near Sixth, (now 640) with capi-
tal of $100,000. Par value of stock $25. Clemenc Hoeveler was the first presi-
dent and F. L. Gross the first secretary, which office he still holds. Mr. Hoeveler
resigned in December, 1877, and was succeeded by C. Barchfield, who is now presi-
dent. In 1877 the capital was increased to $200,000 and the shares to $50 par


value. The company has a surplus of 182,166.37, and have made dividends to the
amount of |632,000 and losses to the amount of $1,071,718.55. The book value of
the stock is $72.

The Peoples Insurance Company was organized and began business June lOth^
1862, with an authorized capital of $100,000 and a paid up cash capital of $50,000.
In January the capital stock was increased to $200,000. The first board of direc-
tors was Wm. Phillips, John Watt, Wm. Vankirk, John E. Parke, Capt. John
L. Ehoads, Geo. B. Jones, Frank VanGorder, Wm. B. Hays, James D. Verner^
Chas. S. Bissell, C. Hanson Love and Sam'l P. Shriver. The first president was
Wm. Phillips, who resigned January, 1872, and was succeeded by John Watt, who
served until January, 1874, when James Herdman was elected his successor and
who is still president. Wm. F. Gardner has been secretary and treasurer from
the date of the organization of the company. Capt. James Gordon was general
agent for the company from 1865 to 1869, when he was succeeded by George M>
Alexander, Avho served from 1875 to the present time. Wm. A. McCutcheon was
elected assistant secretary January, 1884. Dividends paid since organization
$294,000. Losses paid, $1,120,751.91.

The Cash Insurance Company was organized May 22d, 1865, and began busi-
ness June 1st, 1865, at 59 Fourth avenue, with a paid up capital of $100,000. The
first president was Isaac M. Pennock, who resigned January 9th, 1866, and was^
succeeded by Kobert H. King, which office he still fills. The first secretary wa&
Thomas Graham, who resigned January 9th, 1865, and was succeeded by Joseph
T. Johnston, who has continued in the office of secretary to this time. The com-
pany have paid $232,000 of dividends since its organization,''and losses to the
amount of $230,000. The par value of its stock is $50, its book value $81.50, and
its market sales at $52.

The Manufacturers and Merchants Fire and Marine Insurance Company wa&
incorporated February 28th, 1865, and began business May 1st, 1865, at 87 Wood
street, with a capital of $250,000, shares of $50 each. The first president was
James I. Bennett; John W. Chalfant, vice president; W. P. Jones, secretary, who-
died August 22d, 1871, and was succeeded by A. E. W. Painter, who was appointed
secretary jpro tern, until January 1st, 1872, when James A. Kenney was elected
secretary. Mr. Kenney resigned March 18th, 1885, and was succeeded by John
P. Henry, who resigned March 15tli, 1887, and was succeeded by Wm. T. Adair.
On August 14th, 1871, August Ammon was elected general manager, which office
he still holds. The company has paid dividends to the amount of $537,500, and
losses to the amount of $708,000. The book value of its stock is $58, and it has a
surplus of $40,876.81.

The Boatman's Fire and Marine Insurance Company was organized March
20th, 1865, with a capital stock of $250,000 ; par value of stock, $50. K. C. Grey
was the first president, and was succeeded by Jas. E. Hutchinson January 12thy.
1875. He resigned September 1st, 1880, and January 11th, 1881, O. P. Scaife, the
present president, was elected. David E. Park was the first vice president. He


resigned December 8th, 1873, and was succeeded December 8th, 1873, by Wm. H.
Forsythe, who died November 1st, 1874, and January 12th, 1875, Oliver P. Scaife
was elected to succeed Mr. Forsythe, holding that office until January 11th, 1881,
when he was elected president. Jas. H. Sewell was, on January 11th, 1881, elected
to succeed Mr. Scaife. Mr. Sewell died August 4th, 1885, and on January 12th,
1886, John A. Caughey, the present vice president, was elected. Robert Finney
was the first secretary and treasurer, and served until about November 20th, 1873.
On December 3d, 1873, Earl S. Gardner was elected secretary, and on April 1st,
1884, he was succeeded by the present secretary, H. H. Schenck. On April 1st,

1884, Henry F. Weaver, who had been with the company as bookkeeper since
January 23d, 1872, was elected treasurer. Dividends paid since organization,
1332,107.50 ; total losses paid by the company, 11,236,108.13.

The Artizan Insurance Company was organized March, 1866, with a capital of
$100,000, the par value of the shares being $50. It began business July, 1866.
Wm. H. Smith was the first president, and J. Gardner Coffin the first secretary.
John Dunlap, vice president, in which office he still continues. In March, 1885>
Wm. H. Smith died, and was succeeded by Albert J. Barr, who now fills that of-
fice. J. Gardner Coffin resigned as secretary December 5th, 1871, when he was
succeeded by Albert J. Barr, who continued to hold the office until he succeeded
Mr. Smith in the presidency, when Chas. P. Smith was elected secretary May 5th,

1885. The company have paid since its organization |198,000 of dividends, and
losses to the amount of $260,376 ; surplus, $13,453. The book value of its stock
is about $58. There has been none of its stock for sale for years.

The Ben Franklin Insurance Company was incorporated February 9th, 1866,
;and began business June 26th. The present president is John Ogden ; the secre-
tary, W. A. Ford. Its cash capital is $150,000, and its surplus $15,217.03. It has
paid losses to the amount of $387,936.32, and cash dividends of $100,301, and stock
dividends to the amount of $40,000.

The Allemania Insurance Company was incorporated in 1868, and began busi-
ness July, 1868, on Fifth avenue. Eobert C. Schmertz was the first president,
which office he held until his death, in April, 1888, when Joseph Abel was elect-
-ed president. Charles F. Herrosee was its first secretary, and still continues to
hold that office. The cash capital of the company is $200,000. It has paid divi-
dends to the amount of $260,000 and losses to the amount of $1,714,603.

The City Insurance Company was organized in 1870, and began business De-
cember 15th, 1870, at 64 Fourth avenue. Robert J. Anderson was the first presi-
dent, and is so to the present time. John R. Gloninger was the first secretary,
^nd Captain R. J. Grace the first vice president, and William Barker treasurer.
Captain Grace died July 22d, 1885, and was succeeded by John R. Gloninger, be-
ing succeeded in the secretaryship by J. F. Lauker, which office he still holds.
Mr. Gloninger being killed in an accident on a railroad on November 1st, 1887,
he was succeeded by James Phelan. The company has paid dividends to the
amount of $105,000 ; losses to the amount of $645,000. The book value of its
stock is $54, and its market value


The Union Insurance Company was incorporated February 10, 1871, with a
capital of |100,000, par value of shares being $50. They began business May 1st,

1871, at 75 Smithfield street. James N. Hopkins was the first president, and J.
W. J. McLain the first secretary, and George Ogden as general agent, which oflaces
they still hold. James N. Hopkins resigned in 1880, and was succeeded by J. T,
Colvin, who resigned in 1883, and was succeeded by Andrew Mellon. The com-
pany has paid |82,960.60 dividends, with a surplus of $21,537.21, and losses to
the amount of $868,121.86. The book value of the stock is $60.75; market
value, $47.50.

The Teutonia Insurance Company was incorporated July 8th, 1871, and began
business July 18th, with a cash capital of $125,000. The present president is
Henry Gerwig, and C. W. Young, secretary. To January 1st, 1888, the company
had paid $87,805.22 cash dividends, and made stock dividends to the amount of
$62,500, with a surplus of $52,809.20. They have paid losses to the amount of

The Humboldt Insurance Company was incorporated November 18th, 1871^
and began business November 23d. The present president is P. J. Urling ; A. H.
Trimble, secretary. They have a cash capital of $100,000, and a surplus of
$2,417.22. They have paid losses to the amount of $151,348.38, cash dividends of
$44,192.88, and stock dividends to the amount of $23,202.65.

The Birmingham Insurance Company was incorporated May 17th, 1871, and
began business August 1st. John P. Schneider is now president, and E. G. Scholtze,
secretary. It has a cash capital of $200,000. It has paid losses to the amount of
$264,854, cash dividends of $116,046, and stock dividends to the amount of

The Armenia Insurance Company of Pittsburgh was incorporated March 26th,

1872, and began business May 15th, 1872, with a capital stock paid up of $250,000;
par value of shares, $100. Its first office was over the first National Bank, Fifth
avenue. Its first board of directors was S. S. D. Thompson, T. Brent Swearingen,.
Alexander Patterson, John S. Scully, W. P. Logan, Jacob H. Walter, Chas. Zug,
Hugh McNeil, A. Weise, John A. Myler, John Heath, C. L. Shaub, Henry War-
ner, John H. McCreery, James Laughlin, Jr., R. S. Waring, Joseph Phillips, R.
H. Dalzell, Joseph Gazzam, Jacob Kopp, Isaac Stewart. The first president was
S. S. D. Thompson, who is still in office. The first secretary was T. Brent Swear-
ingen. Pie was succeeded by J, L, Butler, who was elected in November, 1874,
and died in May, 1875. He was succeeded by E. A. Curtis, June, 1875, who re-
signed in May, 1880, to take charge of the New York branch of the company,
and was succeeded by W. D. McGill, the present secretary, in May, 1880. The
company has paid dividends from the time of its organization up to January 1st,
1888, to the amount of $270,000, and losses to the amount of $385,882.90, and has
a surplus of $25,000 over all liabilities.

The German- American Insurance Company was incorporated March lltb,

1873, and began business June 2d. G. H. Meyer is the present president, and W..


J. Patterson the secretary. It has a cash capital of $100,000, and a surplus of
^7,783.81. It has paid losses to the amount of $243,119.35, and cash dividends
of $76,000.


Electrical Appliances

It is safe to say that Pittsburgh has within the past ten years made more rapid
strides in introducing the practical applications of electricity to the various indus-
tries than any other city in the United . States. It is not meant by this that the
city is in advance of all others in this field, but have reference more particularly
to what has been acquired in that time.

Prior to 1878 there was nothing here in the electrical line save the ordinary
telegraph systems. Pittsburgh has always been an important telegraph point as a
repeating station. In 1878 Mr. T. B. A. David brought the Edison telephone to
Pittsburgh, and in the same year the Bell system was introduced. The merchants
were slow in seeing the advantages of the telephone, as is proven by the amount
of business done by both companies at the time of their consolidation, Edison
Company having fifty instruments and the Bell about thirty, or a total of eighty,
while now there are between two and three thousand instruments in service.

In 1877 Mr. Eugene Ingold brought from Cleveland a four-light electric light
machine. The apparatus was put up on Duquesne Heights and operated for a
week. This attracted attention, but did not develop business. In fact, two years
were spent in securing the first sale. And this- was a six-light machine to James
Park, steel manufacturer.

This attracted general attention, and its superior advantages as an illuminant
for mills were appreciated and they soon came into general use. By 1882 the
electric light had secured the confidence of the public, and Mr. George Westing-
house and associates organized the Allegheny County Electric Light Company and
purchased the rights of the Brush patent. A short time after Mr. Ingold organ-
ized the Pittsburgh Electric Company and secured the agency of the Edison Com-
pany for incandescent lighting, and the Thomson Hueston Company for arc lighting*
This briefly sketches the introduction of the use of electricity into its wider com-
mercial usages in Pittsburgh.

It has been actively followed up, and to day the use of electricity for motors,
illuminating, telephones, call wires, and the many ways in which it is being daily
applied, has made its use no longer a novelty in Allegheny county. It has, how-
ever, given rise to an establishment at Pittsburgh which is a scientific wonder.

The works of the Westinghouse Electric Company have grown from Mr. George
Westinghouse's first investments in electrical appliances in 1882, before mentioned.
To attempt to give any description of these immense works, unless in purely


technical language, would be a failure, and but little understood by the general
reader unless accompanied by illustrations and pages of description.

In its rooms are to be encountered men of many nationalities, Hungarians,
Italians, Germans, Swedes, Frenchmen, Englishmen, men learned in the abstruser
depths of the science of electricity and of proven genius. Whether one is learned
in the native languages of these corps of talented men who are enthusiastically
busy developing new electrical appliances, and inventing new methods of rendering
it of practical use in every day life, they must be well acquainted with the lan-
guage of science to comprehend the technical explanations of the work performed.
It may be briefly described as an encyclopedia of electrical knowledge and a poly-
technical school of science.

The Westinghouse Electric Company has a capital of five million dollars, fully
paid ; employs at its works in the city of Pittsburgh from 750 to 1,500 hands, ac-
cording to the season and the condition of work.

The manufacturing property of the company consists of two brick buildings,
each 150x75 feet, and five stories high ; another brick building about 75 feet front
and 140 feet deep, five stories high, and a large one-story machine shop about 175
feet square.

The apparatus manufactured by this company is in use at over 125 central
lighting stations throughout the United States and Canada. The capacity of the
works is equal to the turning out of apparatus for the complete supplying of 5,000
16-candle power lamps per diem.

This company was organized early in the year 1886, prior to which time it
existed almost as an experimental department of the Union Switch and Signal
Company. So soon as the organization of the Westinghouse Electric Company
was effected, early in 1886, a large amount of money and a great deal of energy
was put into the new organization, which resulted in placing this company in the
short space of about three years in the foremost ranks of electrical manufacturing
and engineering concerns in this country.

Online LibraryGeorge H. (George Henry) ThurstonAllegheny county's hundred years → online text (page 38 of 43)