George H. (George Henry) Thurston.

Allegheny county's hundred years online

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The Westinghouse Electric Company was the first to introduce in this country
what is known as the alternate system of electric lighting, which has revolution-
ized the art and rendered possible the distribution of incandescent lighting and of
power service from any given spot as a central station over any area actually found
to exist in a city or town.

This company is also the first to introduce a meter for measuring electricity,
the same as gas companies. This instrument, which is beautiful in its simplicity,
is the invention of the company's electrician, Mr. O. B. Shallenberger.

The Westinghouse Electric Company was also the first to introduce motors for
running on an alternating current circuit.

Although the Westinghouse Electric Company is the youngest of what are
known as electric companies, yet through the great energy and ability of its pro-
moter it has become one of the strongest and most enterprising companies in the


The works of the Union Switch and Signal Company, mentioned before as the
establishment of which the Westinghouse Electric Company was but an experi-
mental department, before its organization as a distinct corporation, are too well
known in all railroad circles to requre any especial introduction, and its automatic
electric signals, switching apparatus and automatic block signals are too widely in
use to have escaped the observation of travelers, while to railway people and ex-
perts they need no description.

The products of this corporation are not only such as add to the magnitude of
the output of the manufacturers of Pittsburgh, but of a character that renders
them valuable in other than by pecuniary estimates. This value is in the safety
which is by them given to railway travel and the prevention of collisions by the
electric automatic locking switch and signal shifting levers manufactured by thi&
company. The appliance of these is through the ''Block system" as first intro-
duced on the Pennsylvania Eailroad some three or four years since.

The Union Switch and Signal Company manufacture railway signals of all
kinds, operating automatically by the passing train through rail or wire circuits^
to set or reverse signals in front or rear, or both.

The company own or control over 250 patents, which is believed to cover all
reliable or safe circuits for electrical signaling.

This comprehensive corporation, of which George Westinghouse, Jr., is presi-
dent, C. H. Jackson, vice president and general manager, and A. T. Eowand,
secretary, occupy in the manufacture of their signals one and a quarter of an acre
of ground, the greater part of which is covered by a five-story brick building,
in which 135 hands are employed, whose wages average $135,000 a year. The
works are in operation about 300 days in the year, and the products run from
$300,000 to $500,000 annually. The value of the plant, including cost of patents^
is $1,886,000. The office is at the works, on the corner of Duquesne way and
Garrison alley.

Although many inventions have been patented and tried by which the wires
of telegraph and telephone companies could be laid underground, yet none of the
inventions were satisfactory in their practical working. To Pittsburgh talent, in-
vention and persistency belongs the honor of having solved the problem, which
success resulted in the formation of the Standard Underground Cable Company.

This company manufactures the Waring underground aerial and submarine
cables for telephone, telegraph, electric light and other electrical uses. In the
summer of 1882 E-ichard S. Waring, the inventor of the cables and processes
owned by the Submarine Underground Cable Company, laid his first experimental
line of five-wire anti-induction cable from Vesta Oil Works, Waring Station, on
the Allegheny Valley Eailroad, to the general offices of the Standard Oil Com-
pany, on Seventh street, Pittsburgh.

Operating a single wire as a Morse circuit and an adjacent one as a telephone
circuit, it was discovered that induction, the bugbear of air lines as well as of
previous underground systems, was completely overcome. In 1883 a company was


formed, with a capital of $3,000,000, and a large manufactory was built at the
corner of Sixteenth and Eailroad streets, in Pittsburgh, for the manufacture of
the Waring cables, which covers 100x117 feet, four stories. In the same year the
company put several miles of the Waring anti-induction cable into successful op-
eration for the National Government in Washington, connecting the Capitol, the
White House, War, State and Navy Departments, and several miles for the Dis-
trict Fire Department.

The inventor seems to have solved the problem of underground telegraphy and
marks another era in the progress of Pittsburgh in the building up of its national
reputation as a cosmopolitan manufacturing center.

Though unable to give the amount of labor, as it varies from time to time, it is
safe to say that it ranks among the leading industries of Pittsburgh.

In concluding this brief account of the chief electrical industries of the city,
it cannot be better done than by quoting the opening sentence of this chapter, "It
is safe to say that Pittsburgh has within the past ten years made more rapid
strides in introducing the practical application of electricity as an industry than
any other city in the United States."

Churches, Schools and Newspapers.

Settled as Allegheny county was so largely by the Scotch, Irish and the G-et-
man population, it would have been a strange departure from the general charac-
teristic of either race if under their religious tendencies the country around Fort
Pitt had not shown buds of the uprising of the various religious denominations
that have since grown to healthy trees, bearing good fruit. The soil on which
the seeds were dropped seemed unpromising, for it is indisputable that any or all
of the vices of the frontier and garrison town of that early period flourished at
that time.

In the general history embraced in this volume mention has been made of th6
opinion of Arthur Lee as to the moral atmosphere of Pittsburgh, and the almost
despairing expression as to the possible religious future of the settlement in the
record that that there is "neither priest or church in the place." It is very evi-
dent from all accounts written in those early days and the traditions of the es-
capades of even the better sort of people, that there was but little systematic
religious observance, although James Kenny, in 1761, writes in his journal: "Ye
soberer sort of people seem to long for some way of public worship."

The word the "Quaker man" used to designate the class of people who had a
"longing for some way of public worship" as from what is known of the affection
entertained by the population at that time of the frontier for "John Barleycorn "
is rather ambiguous in the meaning, but for the credit of the early settlement



must be interpreted as meaning the more reflecting people. It is certain that
amid the rude and reckless characters of the first settlements there was little sym-
pathetic religion practised and no resident minister of the gospel.

The first Protestant religious services west of the Alleghenies were at Mus-
kingum, a Wyandot town, on the river of that name, where on Christmas day,
1850, Christopher Gist read the Church of England services, which was translated
to the Indians by Andrew Montour.

From time to time ministers visited the point and preached to the soldiers and
settlers. Eev. Charles Beatty in 1758, and Kev. Dufiield in 1766. But their
preaching seems to have been of but little avail, as a company of ruffians from this
section massacred the first Christians of the wilderness. In April, 1770, Moravian
missionaries came down the Allegheny in sixteen canoes from the Christian Indian
settlements on the Susquehanna. From Fort Pitt the missionaries went down the
Ohio river and up the Big Beaver some twenty miles and established a settlement
called Friedensstadt, or the Village of Peace. Here many converts to Christianity
were made from the surrounding Delaware villages, and the settlement prospered
in every way, but the feeling of revenge against the "red skins" was too bitter
around Fort Pitt for peace, and, in 1775, the Moravian missionaries took their con-
verts to a quiet region on the Tuscarawas river in Eastern Ohio, where the settle-
ments of Gnadenhutten and Schoebrunn were established. Five years later, when
these two peaceful settlements were destroyed by the surrounding unchristianized
Indians at the instigation of Simon Girty and Elliot the deserter, Kilbuck the fa-
mous Delaware chief took them under his protection, and the Moravian mission-
aries continued their work in the Indian village on Smoky Island, since washed
away by the Allegheny river floods, opposite Fort Pitt. In 1782 the Moravian
village of Gnadenhutten was again surprised and pillaged by a body of 300 men
under the command of Captain Williams, of Washington, Pa., incensed against the
missionaries possibly on account of their preaching abstinence from liquors.

The first permanent church west of the Alleghenies was the German United
Evangelical Protestant Church. A log structure, on the corner of Diamond and
Wood streets, was established by the Rev. Wilhelm Weber, a minister from West-
phalia, Germany, who included in his circuit four churches. The church which
ultimately took the place of this log building is the structure at the corner of
Smithfield street and Sixth avenue.

In 1786 the Penn heirs donated the property now occupied by the church. In
1793 Rev. Mr. Weber dropped the Pittsburgh church and gave his attention to his
Greensburg congregation, the twenty families of the Pittsburgh congregation having
grown to twice that number. He was succeeded in his pastorate by Rev. Mr.
Sahnee, and he by Rev. Mr. Ingold, one of the most learned men of his time in
the State. He was the son of a Huguenot minister who fled to America to escape
persecution. His library was at that time one of the finest collections in America.
Rev. Mr. Geisenheimer succeeded him and preached to the Reformed denomina-
tion in the morning and the Lutheran in the afternoon, under the same roof. He


"was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Kurz, and he by Rev. Mr. Kaemmerer, who remained
in charge until 1840. In 1883 it built a new meeting house surmounted by a
steeple and a bell, which was the first used in the city for religious purposes. The
bell still calls the people to worship and has a romantic history, having been
brought to America by a poor Swiss schoolmaster who was unable to pay duty upon
it, and the church obtained it by paying the Custom House demands.

Until 1833 the Smithfield Street Church was the only German church in the
county. In that year the congregation split, and one faction, headed by Nicholas
Voegtly, established the Lutheran church corner of Ohio street and Church alley,

In 1840, the Rev. Mr. Jaehal came to minister to the Pittsburgh church. He
was succeeded by Rev. Koeler in 1846, then Rev. Waldburger in 1852 ; in 1858,
by Rev. Dr. Walther, a man of much learning, in whose ministry the burying
ground which had extended back of the church to Montour way and Strawberry
Alley, was changed to Troy Hill, and the present dwellings erected upon it. On
the death of Dr. Walther, in 1868, Rev. Carl Weil succeeded him, in whose charge
the building now occupied by the congregation was erected. It cost $137,000. In
1879 Rev. Frederick Ruoff assumed the charge. The church has now a member-
ship of 1,800 persons. The property it owns is assessed at $400,000.

In response to a petition from some few individuals in this modern Sodom, the
Redstone Presbytery sent Rev. Joseph Smith then pastor of the churches of Cross
Creek and Buffalo, to preach to them on the fourth Sabbath of August, 1784.
Among the first to encourage a place of worship in Pittsburgh was John Wilkins,
who records that when he first entered the town in 1783, "all sorts of wickedness
was carried on to excess " he concludes that " Presbyterian ministers were afraid
to come to the town, lest they should be mocked and mistreated." The history of
the times afford just such a conclusion as that to which this first settler came.
Many incidents are still preserved of the difficulty under which the pioneers of the
church labored. Not with Indians only, but also with the disorderly element
among the white settlers, who maintained the bitterest aversion to everything in
the name of religion. Very often the people assembled for worship were hooted,
pelted with stones and their assemblies broken up. In October, 1784, Rev. James
Power, by appointment of the Presbytery, preached to the congregation of wor-
shipers in the town. In 1785, Rev. Samuel Barr, from Londonderry, Ireland, be-
gan to minister regularly to the people in Pittsburgh and Beulah, in Pitt township,
and on June 17th of that year he was ordained to the full work of the Redstone
Presbytery. Although a request was made in this year to the Legislature for the
incorporation of a Presbyterian congregation, no Act was passed until 1787. Dur-
ing this period the Rev. Mr. Barr ministered to the two congregations. On Sep-
tember 24th, 1787, the Penn heirs deeded two and a half lots of ground to' the
congregation on which to erect a house of worship. This they proceeded to do
building a church of " moderate dimensions and square timber." This church
was used until 1804 when it was replaced by a more commodious one. This build-


ing was the first Presbyterian Church in the city that now contains two hundred

No doubt but that the elders at least of that early church were Godly and piou&
men, but the methods they used to defray church expenses would to-day cause
them to be " sessioned " expeditiously. In 1807 an advertisement in the Pitts-
burgh Gazette announces that " the managers will commence the drawing of the-
Presbyterian Church lottery in the Court House in Pittsburgh the 20th day of
October." The advertisement is signed by John Wilkins, John Johnston and
William Porter, managers.

They also purpose to sell the tickets on credit, payable ten days after the draw-
ing commences.

In a later advertisement the managers threaten to bring suit against all parties
who have not yet paid for their lottery tickets. Church fairs and oyster suppers
have to-day taken the place of the lottery of 1807 as a church financial scheme.
The principle seems to be the same, if it has been somewhat watered, in accordance
with the fashion of to-day.

Eev. Samuel Barr continued to serve this congregation until June 12th, 1789^
when he requested a dissolution of his pastoral relations, giving among other rea-
sons that " the trustees had requested him to collect his own salary for the past
year, which was as much as to say that he might hunt after his salary from door
to door." After his withdrawal the church was variously ministered until 1799,
when Rev. Robert Steele, from Ireland, began to preach for them, and soon after-
wards became the pastor, and so continued until his death, March 22d, 1810. On
April 3d, 1811, Eev. Francis Herron, D. D., one of the noble men connected
with the growth of the city, became the pastor, which he continued, loved and
revered by all his people, until his death in 1860, although ten years previous to
his decease Rev. W. M. Paxton took the great burden of the work off his shoulders.
In 1803 differences arose among the membership of the First Church, which finally
culminated in the formation of the Second Presbyterian Church, over which Rev.
Nathaniel R. Snowden was installed pastor on October 5th, 1805. From this be-
ginning has been evolved at least thirty thoroughly organized churches of like
faith in the territory embraced by the Mother Church.

The Protestant Episcopal Church stands third in succession among the family
of Protestant Christianity in Pittsburgh. No regular parochial was organized until
1805, although in 1797 a company of people brought up in the faith invited the
Rev. John Taylor to officiate as their minister. An act of corporation was granted
to Trinity Protestant Church, and in the same year the congregation began the
erection of a brick building on the triangular piece of ground at the intersection
of Wood street and Sixth avenue with Liberty street, Presley Neville and Samuel
Roberts being chosen wardens, with Nathaniel Irish, Joseph and Jeremiah Barker,
Andrew Richardson, Ohver Ormsby, Nathaniel Bedford, George W. McGonigle,.
George Robinson, Robert McKee, Alexander Laughlin, William Cecil and Joseph
Davis as vestry men. Worship was maintained in this building, which became


If nown as the " Eoiind Church " from its circular form, until 1825, when the
building so familiar to Pittsburghers as Old Trinity on Sixth avenue was erected
and consecrated by the Rt. Rev. William White, D. D., Bishop of Pennsylvania.
Rev. John Taylor continued in the rectorship of the church until 1817, when he
was succeeded by Rev. Able Carter. This church has enjoyed the services of
some of the most prominent clergymen of that faith in this country, among others
-Rev. John H. Hopkins, afterwards Bishop of the Diocese of Vermont, and Rev.
Oeorge Up fold, D. D., who was rector from 1831 to 1849, when he became Bishop
of the Diocese of Indiana ; the Rev. Scarborough, Bishop of New Jersey. This
church is the mother of many large and prosperous churches of that order in
Pittsburgh and Allegheny, and is to-day ministered to by the Rev. Samuel

During the French occupation of this spot a Catholic chaplain ministered here
t)ut he retired with the French. As the population began to increase, the small
number of Catholics were ministered to from 1787 to the end of the century by
priests passing west to Kentucky and other places. The population did not contain
more than fifty practical members, with perhaps as many more nominal, at the
beginning of the century, who were from time to time visited by a priest from
Westmoreland county ; the first resident priest. Rev. W. F. X. O'Brien, who arrived
in November, 1808, and in the same year the first church was begun. The first
visit of a bishop was that of the Rt. Rev. Michael Egan, of Philadelphia, in
August, 1811. The place was first under the ecclesiastical of Quebec, then of
iiondon, England, next of Baltimore, and later of Philadelphia, till July, 1843,
when the See of Pittsburgh was erected and the Rt. Rev. Michael O'Connor named
first bishop. The statistics of the two cities were then, one bishop, four priests,
one cathedral, two churches, one orphan asylum, and a Roman Catholic popula-
tion estimated at 11,000 souls. The See of Allegheny was erected January 11th,

1876, but tlie administration of it was reunited to that of Pittsburgh August 3d,

1877. The work done by this denomination to- day is an extensive one, and num-
ber besides its cathedrals, churches, and chaples, parish schools, academies, hospi-
tals, orphan asylums, homes for the aged, and reformatory institutions, under the
jurisdiction of this See. The Roman Catholic population, which is now estimated
at 87,000 souls, increased slowly but began to grow apace and received its greatest
impulse from the rapid developments of our manufactories, especially since the be-
ginning of the late war, as in many industries a large part of the foreign working
population come from Roman Catholic countries. The large number of churches
in which from two to six masses are celebrated every Sunday, are often incapable
•of accommodating those of this faith. A constant demand is made either for en-
larging the churches or building new ones. The influence of this church has not
sunfrequently been exerted effectively where civil law was little regarded by the
large foreign element of that faith which continually seeks employment here with
but the one idea of accumulating a little money with which to return to their

mative land, and have little or no respect for our civil authorities. It is not possi-


ble to follow in this limited space the history and good work done by the twenty-
five denominations in the city and their two hundred churches. The Methodist
church which began in weakness to sow the seed is now foremost in zeal and mem-
bership, and is followed closely by the Baptist and Lutheran and United Presby-

It is much to the credit of Allegheny county to say that the number of those
professing religion to those who do not is greater to-day than at any time in our
history. Among the many names which are still reverently cherished as promul-
gating the truths of the gospel, are Robert Bruce and John Black. The former
a Scotchman and the latter a Scotch-Irishman. Robert Bruce was a seceder, as
the first offshoot of the Kirk was called in those days, and an Edinburgh graduate.
He was born February 20th, 1776, and died June 14th, 1846. As the first princi-
pal of the Western University and second pastor of the First U. P. Church, Rev,
Ebenezer Henderson was the first, and as a diviue of that severe orthodox type now
not so frequently observed, the memory of Dr. Bruce is one of Pittsburgh's favorite
reminiscences. Dr. John Black was his cotemporary and successor at the university^
was another divine of the olden style, that of the gloomiest Calvinistic type. Dr.
Black was for many years pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, and was
ordained in the old Court House in 1800. Rev. Dr. Black was a graduate of
Glasgow University, and died in 1849 in the 81st year of his age.

The first Baptist Tabernacle was a low frame edifice on Grant street. The
first Methodist worship was held within the enclosure of old Fort Pitt. The first
regular Roman Catholic Church was on Liberty street, near the old canal. The
most eminent of the Romish priests who upheld the teachings of Rome was the
Rev. Charles B. Maguire, for many years the spiritual guardian for the cure of
souls of St. Patrick's Catholic Church. It was under his consecration that the
corner-stone of St. Pauls Cathedral was laid, before mentioned in the general his-
tory of the county, on June 24th, 1829.

There are now in Pittsburgh and Allegheny cities alone some 251 churches,
of which 15 are Baptist, 56 Roman Catholic, 4 Congregationalist, 6 Disciples, 17
Episcopal, 17 Evangelical Lutheran, 33 Methodist Episcopal, — African Method-
ist Episcopal, 10 Methodist Protestant, 30 Presbyterian, 26 United Presbyterian,.
5 Reformed Presbyterian, 5 Evangelical Association, 2 Cumberland PresbyteriaUy
4 Reformed Church of the United States, 7 United Evangelical Protestant (Ger-
man), 4 Jewish, and 6 miscellaneous.


In any account of education in Allegheny county the Quaker, James Kenny,,
whose journal in 1760-61, written at Fort Pitt, has been several times quoted
from, must be mentioned again, as fixing the date when teaching of the young
was first begun at Fort Pitt.

In "12 mo., 4," he writes: "Many of ye inhabitants have hired a school
master, and subscribed about sixty pounds for this year for him, and he has about
twenty scholars." This was in 1761, and in that year, it is to be assumed, the


first seed of public assessments for the payment of school expenses was sown,
which finds its modern development in the school tax.

The growth of schools from that time until the beginning of the present cen-
tury is difficult to trace. In a public list in 1808 of the "master workmen" in
each particular branch of business carried on in Pittsburgh, twelve school mis-
tresses are mentioned ; and about this time an advertisement in the Gazette, before
mentioned in the pages treating of the general history of Allegheny county, an-
nounces that a Mrs. Pride has opened a school to teach certain accomplishments.

The Pittsburgh Academy was chartered in 1787 and in 1819 it became the
Western University. There is no record of its early professors but in 1810 it was
in charge of Kev. Joseph Stockton and Drs. Swift and McElroy. Dr. Stockton was
the author of some text books that were in general use the first half of the present
century. Later on among the professors of the institution were Father Maguire
and Drs. Bruce and Black who, although they difiered on religious matters, were
the closest friends.

In 1799 there was a Pittsburgh Classical Academy taught by Tierney and Cal-
lan. Their school was in a building opposite the Exchange Bank. In 1819 Mr.

Online LibraryGeorge H. (George Henry) ThurstonAllegheny county's hundred years → online text (page 39 of 43)