George H. (George Henry) Thurston.

Allegheny county's hundred years online

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Cole taught a school on Sixth street where the Hotel Anderson now stands, and
Daniel Bushell and William McCleary taught in the Court House. In 1821, Rev.
John Campbell taught an ungraded school over Lecky's blacksmith shop on Vir-
gin alley and later opened a high school on Smithfield street near Sixth. About
this time there was a school in a frame building near the Lewis block in charge of
V. B. Magahen, and Daniel McCurdy and a Mr. Moody taught in an academy on
the corner of Fourth avenue and Ferry street. In 1821-2 Mr. McClurkan kept a
school in a frame building on Fifth avenue opposite Masonic Hall. In the same
year David L. Brown had also a school in his dwelling on Second avenue between
Wood and Market streets. In the time from 1823 to 1830 a number of teachers
came to Pittsburgh. One of these was a Mr. Carr who had a school in a small
frame building on Hay Scale alley between Third and Fourth avenues. At this
time other schools in the city were taught by Mr. J. Dumars. Mr. Richmond, and
Rev. John Winters. This last named taught in the Baptist Church on the lot now
occupied by Kaufman's building.

In 1832 Mr. Daniel Stone and his sister opened a Young Ladies Seminary in
Bishop Hopkins' residence. The following year a high school upon the site of the
English Block, on Fourth avenue, was opened by Mr. John Nivens.

In 1832 Mr. Caskey taught a school in the upper story of a blacksmith's shop
which stood on the lot now occupied by the Vandergrift Block. As the city in-
creased in population the schools became more numerous than is possible in this
limited space to mention. At a session of the legislature in 1832 numerous peti-
tions (12j per cent of all the voters in the state) asked for a repeal of a school law
that had been passed in 1834 and quite a number of the petitioners were obliged
to make their mark, not being able to write their name.

Immediately after the passage of the free school law each of the four ward-;,
North, South, East and West, then constituting the city of Pittsburgh, approved


the measure and took steps to put its provisions into effect. The county bought a
lot on Ferry street, upon which they erected a building and opened a school for
the education of the children of the very poor. The First Ward School Board
(Duquesne) purchased this in 1836 or 1837 and opened a public school under the
law of 1834. This is believed to be the first property owned by a school board
under this Act. The building is still standing.

The Second ward (South) opened the first public school in that district on the
11th of September, 1835, in the old carpet factory near the corner of Smitfield and
Water streets.

The Third ward (Grant) erected the first public school building for that dis-
trict in 1836 on the corner of Diamond street and Cherry alley. The present
building at the corner of Strawberry alley and Grant street was said, when com-
pleted, to be the best school building in the United States, (1852).

The first public school in the Fourth ward (North) was opened in an old
building on the corner of Duquesne way and Seventh street.

This school continued there from 1835 to 1838, when it removed to a building
erected for it on the same street near Penn avenue.

In 1836, when the Fifth ward (now Ninth and Tenth) was added to the city, a
school was opened in this ward in 1837, in rented rooms, where it remained until
1842, when it removed to two school houses built for it, one on Pike street, the
other on Liberty street.

The Sixth ward (Forbes) becoming a part of the city in 1846. the first school
building was erected on Ann street in 1848, and the small building on Second
avenue was built in 1851.

The Seventh and Eighth wards (Franklin) became a part of the city in 1845,
and the first school was opened in the present building on the 11th of May, 1847.

The Eleventh ward became part of the city in 1846, and a school building was
erected in 1848 on Green and Linton streets.

The Twelfth ward (O'Hara and Springfield) became part of the city in 1846,
and although there was a small school building, a public school building was
erected in 1848 upon the corner of Twenty-fifth and Small man streets.

Almost all of these early schools have since moved into new buildings, and are
difierently called than at the time of their opening. As many of the public
schools are of such recent date it is not of interest to the general reader nor as yet
of sufficient historic value in a general work to mention at length.

It is said in the minute book of the Peebles township school board that the
people of the East End were the first to avail themselves of the privileges of the
free school act.

Among the names of those who worked to build up the free school system in
this vicinity are John Kelly, J. B. D. Meads, Isaac Whittier and George F. Gil-
more, who organized the first free schools in Allegheny county ; later on we have
the names of S. F. Covell, Andrew Burtt, D. C. Holmes, James M. Pryor, Henry
AVilliams, James Newell, Lucius Osgood, W.W. Dickson and Philotus Dean. The


free school system that PennsyWania adopted over half a century ago under so
much opposition has steadily grown in favor until free education is ofiered to the
children of all the thirty-eight States in the Union.

In 1835 George F. Gilmore opened the first public school in Pittsbrgh, in
rented rooms on the corner of Irwin (now Seventh) street and Duquesne way, en-
rolling five pupils.

In 1856 there were 109 teachers and 6,724 pupils, and in 1886 there were 557
teachers and 27,959 pupils. The school property of the city is valued at over


Longfellow has tersely written " Let the dead past bury its dead," and to re-
view the past of the newspaper world of Allegheny county, is but to erect some
pages of tombstones to the memory of a hundred or so of newspapers dead and
gone, on some of which might be aptly inscribed the famous epitaph, "Since so
soon I'm done for I wonder what I was begun for." Many of them were launched
on the sea of journalistic venture by able hands and talented journalists, but their
wrecks lie thick around. In the centennial number of the Pittsburgh Gazette,
(1886,) is an historic sketch of the newspapers from 1786 to 1850, prepared by
William C. Anderson, editor of that publication, himself a veteran in journalism
who won his spurs over forty years ago as a reporter. This article makes mention
of fifty-two publications, daily, weekly, and monthly, which succumbed to financial
storms and the neglect of an unappreciative public. Of these born but to die since
that date it can be said they were many. With newspapers the survival of the
fittest is an active law, and at no time more so than in these days when the publi-
cation of an acceptable newspaper means not only the constant expenditure of
large sums of money, but a corps of the brightest minds of the day, and indefatig-
able workers. The newspapers of to-day in Allegheny county are an illustration
of that law, and some of them in their lives have assisted at the death bed of
many defunct publications, and with a sort of newspaper cannibalism absorbed their

Printing has been styled " the art preservative of all arts," and the newspaper
might be called the never ceasing historian, for in their files is recorded daily con-
tinuance of all things, from Farmer Jones' tall stock of oats to the events that
change the whole current of human life ; the instantaneous photograph of the
hour, they become in years the phonograph from out of whose columes come the
tones of censure or praise, the voice of warning or of commendation from the past.

The newspaper of to-day, whose files reaches the political, social and mercan-
tile voices of Allegheny county's existence from its beginning, is the Pittsburgh
Commercial Gazette, established in 1786, two years before the organization of the
county. Issued two years previous to the election of George Washington, it is
noteworthy that it has participated in every presidental canvass and election. It
has always been a political journal, and it may be said the advocate of the same
party principles through the various ancestry of editorship which has controlled


its columns, and to-day is thoroughly "Republican" as it was "Whig" years ago,
and earlier "Federal." Established 1786 by John Scull and Joseph Hall, it was
a journalistic venture in the fullest sense of the word. At what time Joseph Hall
retired from the proprietorship does not appear, but Nicholas Scull retired in 181 G
and his son, John I., succeeded.

From 1818 the paper was published by John I. Scull and Morgan Neville, and
was issued as a semi-weekly until March 2d, 1820, when the paper was issued as a
weekly again. In March 20th, 1820, Scull and Morgan dissolved partnership.
They were succeeded by Eichbaum & Johnston, as publishers, Morgan Neville
being retained as editor. The paper was enlarged and its title changed to Fltts-
burgh Gazette and Manufacture and Mercantile Advertiser June 5th, 1820.

About 1822 it passed into the hands of D. & M. McLean who continued its
publication until September 18th, 1829, when they were succeeded by Neville B,
Craig. The secondary title of the paper had been dropped about 1825-6. The
paper was issued as a weekly until September 23d, 1823, when it again changed to
a semi- weekly.

September 28th, 1828, a separate weekly edition was begun. The first issue of
the Gazette as a daily was on July 30th, 1833. On September 16th, 1835, Mathew
Grant became a partner, and the business style of the firm was Craig & Grant.
July 1st, 1840, Alex. Ingram, Jr., purchased the paper. In 1841 D. N. White
purchased it from Mr. Ingram and changed the issue from an evening to a morning
one, associating with him B. F. Harris ; the firm style was White & Harris. On
April 1st, 1846, Erastus Brooks purchased the paper and took charge as proprietor
and editor. June 7th, 1847, the firm style was Brooks & Co., S. Haight having
become a partner. July 1st, 1848, Mr. White again purchased the paper and con-
tinued its publication until 1859, when he sold it to S. Eiddle & Co., (Samuel
Eiddle, Russell Errett, James M. Macrum, and Daniel L. Eaton.) In 1864 " The
Gazette Association " was formed and purchased the paper from S. Riddle & Co.
May 14th, 1866, the establishment was purchased by Penniman, Reed & Co., (F.
B. Penniman, Josiah King, N. P. Reed, Thos. P. Houston.) Mr. Penniman retired
•November 1st, 1870, and February 1st, 1871, Henry M. Long was admitted, and
the firm style became King, Reed & Co. July 1st, 1872, Mr. Long retired, his
interest being purchased by George W. Reed and D. L. Fleming. December 28th,
3875, Thos. P. Houston died, and Mr. Fleming in February, 1876. The surviving
partners purchased their interest. December 18th, 1882, Josiah King died, and
January 10th, 1883, the remaining partners purchased his interest, and the firm
style was changed to Nelson P. Reed & Co. Mr. J. P. Reed being admitted to the
partnership. On April 1st, 1883, Frank M. Higgins became a partner. Mr. Hig-
gins died November 1887.

Such are the various business changes of a hundred years in the pioneer news-
paper of the West, which celebrated its centennial now over two years since — a
notable journalistic life in which it has absorbed three prominent rivals in the
same school of politics: In 1844, the Daily Advocate and Advertiser, the Com-


mereial Journal in the '60s, and the Commercial in February, 1877, when its title
was changed to the Commercial Gazette.

The Commercial, the last absorption of the Gazette, was established in 1863 as-
the Pittsburgh Daily Commercial by the Commercial Printing Company. Thomas
J. Bigham was editor; John B. Kennedy, associate editor. John C. Harper wa&
also editor, and N. P. Sawyer was business manager. It was purchased by the
Pittsburgh Newspaper and Printing Company, an association of business men of
the city who entered the field of journalism as a stock company, with a capital of
$50,000, in 1864. C. D. Brigham became its editor, and R. D. Thompson its busi-
ness manager. A new charter was obtained in 1868, and the title changed to the
Commercial Printing Company. About this date Mr. Brigham secured a majority
of the stock, and controlled the paper financially, as well as editorially. In De-
cember, 1872, Eobert M. Mackey bought the controlling interest, and Mr. Brig-
ham retired in 1873. December 25th, 1873, Russell Errett became managing:
editor, and M. L. Egan business manager. He was succeeded in 1875 by Edward
Abel, and, as before stated, it was absorbed by the Gazette in 1877.

The second paper whose origination goes further back in the century is the
Daily Post. Descended from a line of Democratic journals, the gradual process
of newspaper evolutions has resulted in a journal purely Democratic, without
tinge of any other political belief in its blood, so to speak. The root of its ances-
try was the Commonwealth, established by Ephriam Pentland, July 24th, 1805,.
which was, to some extent, succeeded by the Mercury, established by James C
Gilleland in 1811. In 1812 Joseph M. Snowden purchased the Mercury, of which
he continued publisher until 1830, when Joseph M. Snowden took charge, until
1835, and William H. Smith and Robbert Morrow were his successors. The
Allegheny Democrat was established in 1824 by John M. Farland; after his death
it being published by Leonard S. Johns. The Democrat passed through several
hands, being in 1837 the Allegheny Democrat and Workingman's Advocate, W. C
Stewart, editor, until in 1841 it was united with the Mercury, and both papers-
were published by W. H. Smith, under the title of Mercury and Democrat. Some-
time about 1831 William B. Conway established the American Manufacturer, which
was continued by him, and afterwards by Thomas Phillips, until 1842, when the
Mercury and Democrat and the Manufacturer were merged into the Weekly Mer-
bury aud Manufacturer, and on the 10th of September, 1842, the Daily Post was-
issued by Thomas Phillips and William H. Smith, under the firm style of Phillips^
& Smith. The paper afterwards passed into the proprietorship of Bigler, Sargent
& Bigler, who were succeeded by Leckey Harper. During his proprietorship-
John Layton, who was business manager, became a partner, and the firm style was^
Harper & Layton. John Layton died of the cholera in 1854, and Mr. Harper
subsequently sold the paper to Gilmore & Montgomery (George F. Gilmore and
— . Montgomery). James P. Barr, who had been originally a clerk in the estab-
lishment, obtained the control of the Post from Gilmore & Montgomery, and the
firm ultimately became James P. Barr & Co. (James P. Barr, Joseph S. Lare^,


William Schoyer and E. A. Myers). Joseph S. Lare dying daring the partner-
ship, his interests were purchased by the surviving partners, the firm style con-
tinuing unchanged. James P. Barr died September 21, 1886. Shortly before Mr.
Barr's death, on September 1, 1886, the Post was incorporated into the "Post Pub-
lishing & Printing Company," of which Albert Barr is president, and William
Schoyer, treasurer and business manager. The Post was the last of the large jour-
nals of the city to change its folio form to that of a quarto, influenced in its ad-
herence to old-time habits, perhaps, by its Democratic instincts. Several attempts
have been made during the Posfs existence to establish rival Democratic journals,
but the Post has continued the even tenor of its way, prospered and prospering,
quietly watching the gradual decline and always sudden death of its Democratic
compeers. Under the editorship of James P. Barr the Post obtained great influ-
ence with the leaders of the Democratic party, and Mr. Barr was, in 1862, elected
Purveyor General of the State of Pennsylvania.

The Presbyterian Banner, which is the oldest religious paper in the United
States, now owned by Rev. James Allison and E. Patterson, Rev. James Allison
•editor, had its origination in the Weekly Recorder, which was established July 5th,
1814. It was originally printed in Chillicothe, O., by Rev. John Andrews. Re-
jmoved to Pittsburgh February, 1822, and name changed to Pittsburgh Recorder.
January 10, 1828, it absorbed the Spectator; January 15, 1829, the Christian Her-
ald, Rev. S. C. Jennings; 1833, Pittsburgh Christian Herald, Rev. J. D. Baird ; 1838,
Presbyterian Advocate, Rev. Wm. Annan ; November 17, 1855, Presbyterian Banner
and Advocate, Rev. D. McKinney, D. D.; March 10, 1860, changed to Presbyterian
Banner. February 3, 1864, it passed into the ownership of Rev. Dr. James Alli-
son and R. Patterson.

The Pittsburgh Conference Journal, edited first by Rev. Charles Elliott, who was
•succeeded by Rev. Wm. Hunter and Rev. Charles Cooke, was established in 1833*
In 1841 it had been changed to the Christian Advocate, and has since been pub-
lished under the auspices of the M. E. Church.

The Pittsburgh Freiheits Freund (German) had its origin in Franklin county,
Pa., at Cham bersburg, where it was established by Henry Ruby. It was a weekly,
Tictor Scriba editor. In 1834 Mr. Scriba purchased Mr. Ruby's interest. In
1837 Mr. Scriba removed the paper to Pittsburgh. In 1844 he began the pub-
lication of a tri weekly, and in 1847 he issued it as a daily. In 1848 Mr. Louis
Neeb, who, with his brother William, had been apprenticed in 1836 at Chambers-
burg, entered into partnership with Mr. Scriba. In 1850 Wm. Neeb purchased
Mr. Scriba's interest, and the firm became L. & W. Neeb, under which business
fityle the paper has ever since been published. It is a strong advocate of the
-doctrines of the Republican party.

In 1839 the Western Recorder was established. This paper, which subsequently
became the Methodist Recorder, resulted from the action of the Ohio and Pittsburgh
Conferences of the Methodist Protestant Churches in favor of a Western Church
paper, and Cornelius Springer was engaged to establish and conduct the paper. It


was first published at Meadow Farm, Muskingum county, O., July, 1839. The
name of the paper was twice changed, first to Western Methodist Protestant, and
then in 1866 to Methodist Recorder. The paper was removed to Pittsburgh in
1871, the first number issued here bearing date November 15, 1871.

The Chronicle was issued as a weekly in May, 1841, by R. G. Burford. Sep-
tember 8, 1841, as the Daily Morning Chronicle, edited by J. Heron Foster and
Wm. H. Whitney. September, 1843, by Whitney, Dumars & Wright. In 1846^^
Wright sold his interest to James Dumars. In 1847 or 1848 the firm became
Dumarp & Dunn ; in 1851 Barr & McDonald ; in 1853 Mr. Barr was succeeded by
Rev. Samuel Babcock. Kennedy Brothers purchased the paper in 1854, and sold
to Charles McKnight in 1856. In 1863 Joseph G. Siebeneck took an interest
with McKnight, and in 1864 McKnight retired, and the firm became Siebeneck &
Collins. Collins retired in 1874, and Siebeneck was sole proprietor until 1884
when the paper was merged with the Evening Telegraph.

The Preacher, Associate Reformed Presbyterian, semi-monthly, was established
in 1842 by Rev. John T. Pressly, D. D., succeeded by Rev. David R. Kerr, D. D.,
in 1845. In 1848 changed to a weekly. In 1854 continued as the United Presby-
terian by Dr. Kerr. This paper absorbed the United Presbyterian and Evangelical
Guardian, of Cincinnati, about 1858, the Westminster Herald, of New Wilmington,
Pa., in 1868, the Presbyterian Witness, of Cincinnati, in 1870, the Christian In-
structor, of Philadelphia, in 1858. Rev. Dr. Kerr and H. J. Murdoch are the
present proprietors.

The first issue of the Pittsburgh Catholic is under date of March 16, 1844. The
paper was started by P. F. Boy Ian and conducted by him until July, 1847, when
it was purchased by the present proprietor, Jacob Porter. The word "Pittsburgh"
was dropped from the title some years ago. The paper is the organ of the Catholic
Diocese of Pittsburgh, but is individual property.

In 1846, J. Heron Foster began the publication of the first successful penny
paper in the west under the title of the Daily Dispatch. There had been a paper
with a similar title issued in July, 1833, by John F. Jennings, which was the first
penny paper in Pittsburgh. The paper was short lived as but seven numbers were
printed. The Daily Dispatch of J. Heron Foster was, however, destined to a long
life, verging now close on its semi-centennial year. It was a very small sheet when
first issued, its columns containing not much more matter than is now published
in two pages of the present eight page quarto edition. In 1849 Reese C. Fleeson:
purchased an interest which he retained until his death in 1863. In 1865, O'NeiU
& Rook purchased half the concern, and at the death of Mr. Foster, in 1867, be-
came sole proprietors. Mr. Dan'l O'Neill died in 1877, and Mr. Rook in 1880.
The controlling interest has since been held by Mr. E. M. O'Neill, who is presi-
dent of The Dispatch Publishing Co., incorporated June 5, 1888.

This journal has always been independent in its editoriaJ utterances and is at
all times a reflex of the independant sentiments of the ccmmunity in all local
public questions as well as national.


Ori sby Phillips, formerly mayor ol ti .ity of Allegheny and long one of the
Ijoard of inspectors of the Western Penitentiary, was for some years its business
managv?r, having purchased an interest. He died November 12, 1884, and his son
Bakewell Phillips, succeeding to a part of that interest in the paper, is now its
treasurer and business manager. In September, 1883, the Dispatch began the pub-
lication of a Sunday edition (16 pages quarto) which at once acquired great popu-

In 1864, on December 11th, the first number of the Sunday Leader was issued
Iby John W. Pittock, whose penchant for journalism was acquired as a news-boy —
which humble busir' beginning he did not forget, having established the custom
at PittsbVjrgh of a v^ Years dinner to the news-boys of the city. The Sunday
Leader " ",;xht its wa^, to success through much prejudice against a Sunday paper,
and other obstacles. The result of the first number was but forty-five dollars
against an expenditure of two hundred and sixteen dollars, while the second
brought but eight dollars and forty-three cents with an unreduced expense. The
paper became a success and to-day no paper is looked for with more eagerness
than the Sunday Leader. It was not until October, 1870, that the Evening Leader
was issued, and sprung at once into general favor through its independent spirit
and vivacity. Previous to this the edition of the Sunday Leader, having so largely
increased that it called for faster presswork and Mr. Pittock purchased a Bullock
press at the cost of |22,000 and is thus entitled to the honor of being the first to
introduce the steyrotyping process for newspapers in the west. While this and
other improvements were going on the business style of the publication was chang-
ed to Pittock, Nevin & Co. (John Pittock, Kobert P. Nevin, John I. Nevin, E. M.
Nevin, Jr.) on July 31st, 1870.

Since then the business style has been changed to the Leader Publishing Co.
The Evening Leader was the first to introduce special columns under the charge of
distinct editors, with the terse headings of " All Sorts," " Personals " and " Brevi-
ties " a feature in journalism that became popular and was subsequently made in
other journals special features unrl^r other heads. The increase of the Sunday
Leader called much rivalry int( ,voiiig but they died shortly for want of support

In 1872, the Evening Telegraph was projected by a number of the professional
and business men of the city during the political campaign of that year. It did
not, however, make its appearance until April, 1873. The association was organ-
ized under the title of The Pittsburgh Evening Telegraph Publishing Company.
H. B. Swope was the first editor of the journal, John C. Harper, managing editor
and Thos. MacConnell, Jr., business manager.

The Telegraph continued to be published under its first charter until December,
1876, when the paper passed into the proprietorship of Kalph Bagaley. In July,
1874, H. H. Byram, Robert H. Campe and C. S. Huntingdon purchased the estab-
lishment from Mr. Bagaley and organized a firm under the business style of the
Pittsburgh Telegraph Company and continued the publication of the paper with

Online LibraryGeorge H. (George Henry) ThurstonAllegheny county's hundred years → online text (page 40 of 43)