Compiled by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Granting of the City Charter, Pittsburgh, Carnegie Library, 1916.
PrefaceThis little book will interest the Pittsburgher of 1916 chiefly because the parts and pieces of which it is made were written by men who were living here or who passed this way in 1816.
The three newspapers of the day--the Gazette, the Mercury, and the Commonwealth--have furnished, though somewhat sparingly, the items of local news. They have also furnished advertisements--these in greater abundance and variety.
The men who were the tourists of the day in America, traveling by stage, wagon, boat, or on horseback, often made Pittsburgh a stopping place in their journey. Many of them wrote books, in which may be found two or three pages, or a chapter, on the city as it appeared at that time. It is from these books that the section "Impressions of early travelers" has been gathered. The date given with these extracts is the date of publication, but the period referred to in every case is between 1815 and 1817.
In addition to these gleanings from contemporaries, a number of paragraphs from various histories of the city have been included.
The sketches that have thus been brought together do not form a systematic or well proportioned description of the city; yet they may help, through their vivid pictures and first-hand impressions, to give some idea of life in Pittsburgh a century ago.
Table of Contents
- The New City
- Impressions of Early Travelers
- United States Census
- Business and Industries
- Traveling Eastward
- Steamboats and River Traffic
- Ferries and Bridges
- The Newspapers
- The New Books of 1816
- The Theatre
- The Morals Efficiency Society of 1816
- Fourth of July, 1816
- Eagle Fire Company
- The Suburbs
- County Elections
- The State Legislature
- Advertisements from the Newspapers of 1816
The New CityA Meeting of the Democratick Republicans of the City of Pittsburgh, will be held at the house of Captain Jacob Carmack, (sign of the Turk's Head, Wood-street,) this evening (Tuesday June 25,) at 7 o'clock for the purpose of forming a ticket for the select and common Councils of the City of Pittsburg. -- Commonwealth, June 25, 1816.
A number of respectable citizens, desirous or preserving that harmony which has for several years past, so happily prevailed in the borough councils, and which is so essential to the prosperity of our infant city, have formed the following Ticket. They recommend it to the cool, dispassionate considerations of their fellow citizens; and they flatter themselves, that it will, on the day of the election, meet with a firm and honorable support. It is formed, as tickets of the kind ought to be, without respect to party. There can exist no possible ground for the absurdity, that party feuds and animosity should be called up on occasions like the present. Every consideration of public interest, and of the peace and good order of the city, forbids it.--Our city is as yet in its infancy.--Its government is to be organized, its ordinances framed, its police established, and its general policy devised.
In accomplishing these important objects, great prudence, deliberation, forbearance, and the undivided support of all classes of the citizens, are essentially necessary. Hence arises the necessity of checking, in the bud, any and every attempt, coming form whatever quarter it may, which would have a tendency to sow disunion and distrust among the people. Actuated by these reasons, the following ticket is recommended to the free and independent voters. Their aid and co-operation is solicited in checking the evils which may arise out of party feuds. The gentlemen composing the ticket here recommended, have been chosen with due regard to their local situations; they are respectable in private life; they are well qualified for discharging the duties which will devolve upon them as members of the councils, and are all deeply interested in the growth, prosperity, and good order of the infant city.Select Council John Wrenshall Benj. Bakewell James Ross Thomas Cromwell John Hannen E. Pentland Dr. Geo. Stevenson George Shiras Robert PattersonCommon Council James Lea Walter Forward John Lyttle Alex: Johnston, jr. Geo. Miltenberger James Irwin Richard Bowen Mark Stackhouse John W. Johnston Paul Anderson John P. Skelton George Boggs James R. Butler John Caldwell George Evans -- Mercury, June 29, 1816.
"Voters supported or opposed a candidate entirely according to their personal preferences. There were few newspapers and no political oratory to sway public sentiment. The United States was then passing through the 'era of good feeling,' which was renowned mainly for the absence of all political asperities. Had any question arisen which was fraught with political significance to the voters of this section the expression in and around Pittsburg would undoubtedly have been Democratic or in opposition to the Federalist doctrine. It took Pittsburg people a long time to forget that the excise tax, which brought about the Whiskey Insurrection, was a Federalist measure. The first question which arose to divide the people in bitter dispute came with the election of Andrew Jackson to the presidency in 1828." Boucher's Century and a half of Pittsburg.
"The first Election under the Act Incorporating the City of Pittsburgh, was held on Tuesday last, when the following gentlemen were elected:
Select Council James Ross Dr. Geo. Stevenson William Hays John Roseburgh Samuel Douglas James Irwin Mark Stackhouse William Leckey Richard Geary Common Council William Wilkins James R. Butler John P. Shelton A. Johnston, Jr. James S. Stevenson James Brown, (B.) Paul Anderson John W. Johnston George Evans John Caldwell Richard Robinson Thomas M'Kee Daniel Hunter John Carson John W. Trembly -- Commonwealth, July 9, 1816.
The New Mayor
Ebenezer Denny, esq. has been elected mayor of the city of Pittsburgh, Ohio.--This gentleman we believe is from Massachusetts and is highly regarded for his integrity and patriotism. Boston Yankee.
We congratulate the editor of the Yankee upon the knowledge of men and places, exhibited in the foregoing article. It has been a custom at the Eastward to censure and burlesque the people of Western Pennsylvania on account of their ignorance. Let the editor of the Yankee now blush at his own. Could it be believed that any man of common geographical knowledge--or who could have referred to Dr. Morse for information, (for on this subject even Dr. Morse is correct) would have located Pittsburgh--a city containing ten thousand inhabitants--possessing a manufacturing capital of many millions--having three banking institutions, and a commerce extending to every part of the union--a place which has long been considered the emporeum of the West, and which makes a more conspicuous figure in books of travels than even the Town of Notions itself;--could it, we ask, be believed, that such a place should be so little known or thought of in the town of Boston, as to be located in the state of Ohio? Mayor Denny possesses all the virtues that are attributed to him by the Yankee, and many more, that render him an ornament to the station to which he has been elected;--but he does not boast an ancestry in the land of steady habits, the seat of Hartford Convention politics. He is a native of Carlisle, in this state. Commonwealth, Aug. 6, 1816.
From the Ordinances of 1816
"From and after the publication of this ordinance, all and every driver or drivers of all coaches, chariots, caravans, waggons, phaetons, chaises, chairs, solos, sleighs, carts, drays, and other carriages of burthen and pleasure, driving and passing in and through the streets, lanes and alleys of the City of Pittsburgh, where there is room sufficient for two to pass, shall keep on that side of street, lane or alley, on his or their right hand respectively, in the passing direction."
"No person whatsoever shall sit or stand in or upon any such carriage or on any horse or beast unharnessed thereto, in order to drive the same, unless he shall have strong lines or reins fastened to the bridles of his beasts, and held in his hands, sufficient to guide them in the manner aforesaid, and restrain them from running, galloping, or going at immoderate rates through the said streets, lanes or alleys; and...no person whatsoever, driving any such carriage or riding upon any horse, mare or gelding, in or through the said city, shall permit or suffer the beast or beasts he shall so drive or ride, to go in a gallop or other immoderate gait, so as to endanger persons standing or walking in the streets, lanes or alleys thereof; and...all porters...having the care of any such carriages...who shall not hold the reins in their hands...shall walk by the head of the shaft or wheel horse, holding or within reach of the bridle or halter of said horse."
"It shall be lawful to plant on the bank of the Monongahela river, ornamental shade trees, provided the same do not incommode the passage; that they be set on the side of the street next to the water, and so as not to stop or obstruct the passage of water along the gutters; and so that the roots will not injure or raise the pavement:--when any of these injurious effects are produced, such trees then become a nuisance, and the street commissioners shall forthwith remove the same."
"A premium of ten dollars, to be paid on a warrant to be drawn by the Mayor on the city treasurer, shall be given to the fire company whose engine shall be first on the ground in fair operation, and in good order, in cases of fire; and the Mayor shall have power to determine all questions as to this premium."
An Ordinance respecting sundry new streets in the eastern addition to Pittsburgh.
"That Third-street extending from Grant-street to Try-street, and Fourth, extended in a direct line from Grant-street to Try-street; and Diamond-street extending from Ross-street to the lane leading eastwardly from the end of Fourth-street, and Ross-street extended from Third-street to Diamond-street, and Try-street extended from Third-street to the lane leading eastwardly from the end of Fourth-street, be and they are hereby accepted and declared to be public streets and highways of the city...and all those streets shall be kept, repaired and maintained for public use, at public expense forever hereafter."
For the Public Good
"If the chimney of any person or persons within the...city shall take fire and blaze out at the top, the same not having been swept within the space of one calendar month, next before the time of taking such fire, every such person or persons, shall forfeit and pay the sum of three dollars."
"No stove pipe within the...city shall project through the front door, front windows, front wall, or past the front corners of any house, shop or building, over or out upon any street, square or alley, or public ground of the...city; and if any stove pipe shall so project as aforesaid, the same is hereby declared to be a public nuisance, and as such shall be removed, and a fine of five dollars also imposed on the person or persons who shall so offend."
"If any person or persons, shall willfully suffer his, her or their horse or horses, mare, gelding, mule, ox, hog or hogs, to run at large in the...city, he, she or they so offending, shall for each offence, on conviction thereof, forfeit and pay for each of the said animals so running at large, the sum of one dollar."
"If any person or persons shall, within the said city, beat a drum, or without lawful authority, ring any public bell, after sunset, or at any time except in lawful defence of person or property, discharge any gun or fire arms, or play at or throw any metal or stone bullet, or make a bon-fire, or raise or create any false alarm of fire, he, she, or they so offending, shall for every such offence, on conviction thereof, forfeit and pay the sum of four dollars."
"City appropriation for filling up a part of the pond on Sixth street, between Cherry alley and Grant street--thirty dollars." Commonwealth, Nov. 19, 1816. Return to Table of Contents.
Impressions of Early Travelers
"Fort du Quesne, built by the French, formerly stood here; its site has almost disappeared in the Ohio. The remains of Fort Pitt (from whence the town has its name) are very faint; we can yet perceive part of the ditch, its salient angles and bastions, &c.) but several house, stores, and a brewhouse, are built on the ground." Palmer's Journal of travels in the United States and Canada, 1817.
"Although Pittsburg, a few years since, was surrounded by Indians, it is now a curiosity to see any there; a few traders sometimes come down the Alleghany, with seneca oil, &c." Palmer's Journal of travels in the United States and Canada, 1818.
"Pittsburgh was hidden from our view, until we descended through the hills within half a mile of the Allegany river. Dark dense smoke was rising from many parts, and a hovering cloud of this vapour, obscuring the prospect, rendered it singularly gloomy. Indeed, it reminded me of the smoking logs of a new field." Thomas's Travels through the western country in 1816.
"A mixture of all nations, though principally Americans; there are Irish, Scotch, English, French, Dutch, Swiss, etc... The character of the people is that of enterprising and persevering industry; every man to his business is the prevailing maxim, there is therefore little time devoted to amusements or to the cultivation of refined social pleasures. Strangers are not much pleased with the place in point of hospitality merely, but those who have business to transact, will meet with as many facilities as elsewhere. They are of all denominations of the Christian religion; many of them attentive on the duties of their worship, and but few addicted to gross vices and dissipation. Luxury, pomp and parade are scarcely seen; there are perhaps, not more than one or two carriages in the place. There is a public academy, but not in a flourishing state, where the Latin and Greek classics are taught. There are besides, a number of English schools where children are taught to read, write, arithmetic, grammar, etc. There is a seminary for young ladies, which is said to be well conducted. The amusements of these industrious people are not numerous, a few balls during the winter season; there is also a small theatre where a company from the eastern cities sometimes performs. A society has been formed for the purpose of natural improvement in the different departments of natural history, and is flourishing; it has attached to it a circulating library, a cabinet of curiosities and chemical laboratory." Cramer's Navigator, 1817.
"The first buildings of Pittsburg were of logs, some of which were unhewn; then came rude stone structures made from material quarried nearby, and these in turn were followed by brick buildings, for with an abundance of clay and fuel, it was an easy matter to burn brick. In none of them was there any attempt at architectural beauty. Most of them consisted of four square walls, with small windows and doors, thus displaying every evidence of economy. The interior finish of the early houses displayed more taste and beauty than the exterior, for it was easier to carve and fashion in wood than in stone... Nevertheless there was a beauty in the simplicity of the walls that gradually developed a style which in modern days is called Colonial architecture, and which even yet predominates Pittsburg." Boucher's Century and a half of Pittsburg.
"In 1815 the buildings of a public character were 'a handsome octagon Episcopal church, a handsome and spacious Presbyterian church, also a Covenanter, German Lutheran and Roman Catholic church, and an Academy, all of brick;' a court house, jail, three incorporated banks, a dramatic theatre, a Masonic hall, three market houses, one in the Diamond and two in Second street. Both the court house and market house in the public square, called the Diamond, were built of brick, and some of the mercantile and financial buildings were of a substantial character." Killikelly's History of Pittsburgh.
"When this city and vicinity was surveyed by the author of this treatise, in October, 1815, there were in Pittsburg 960 dwelling houses, and in the suburbs, villages, and immediate outskirts, about 300 more, making in all 1260, and including inhabitants, workmen in the manufactories, and labourers, upwards of 12,000 inhabitants." Darby's Emigrant's guide, 1818.
"Grant's-hill, an abrupt eminence which projects into the rear of the city, affords one of the most delightful prospects with which I am acquainted; presenting a singular combination of the bustle of the town, with the solitude and sweetness of the country. How many hours have I spent here, in enjoyment of those exquisite sensations which are awakened by pleasing associations and picturesque scenes! The city lay beneath me, enveloped in smoke--the clang of hammers resounded from its numerous manufactories--the rattling of carriages and the hum of men were heard from its streets--churches, courts, hotels, and markets, and all the 'pomp and circumstance' of busy life, were presented in one panoramic view. Behind me were all the silent soft attractions of rural sweetness--the ground rising gradually for a considerable distance, and exhibiting country seats, surrounded with cultivated fields, gardens, and orchards." Hall's Letters from the West, 1828.
"Pittsburg is a considerable town, generally built of brick... The site is romantic and delightful. It is well known as a manufacturing place, and once almost supplied the lower country with a variety of the most necessary and important manufactures. But the wealth, business, and glory of this place are fast passing away, transferred to Cincinnati, to Louisville, and other places on the Ohio. Various causes have concurred to this result; but especially the multiplication of steam-boats, and the consequent facility of communication with the Atlantic ports by the Mississippi. There is little prospect of the reverse of this order of things. The national road, terminating at Wheeling, contributes to this decay of Pittsburg." Flint's Recollections of the last ten years, 1826.
"It is laid out in strait streets, forty and fifty feet wide, having foot-walks on each side. Watch-boxes are placed at convenient distances, and the police of the city (except in lighting) is well regulated. From the number of manufactures, and the inhabitants burning coal, the buildings have not that clean appearance so conspicuous in most American towns. The houses are frame and brick, in the principal street three story high.
Outside of the town, some log houses yet remain. The number of inhabitants in 1810, was 4768; they are supposed to be now near 8000. The manufactures, carried on in the neighbourhood, out of the borough, employ many hundred people. The inhabitants, are Americans, Irish, and English. The Americans are most of them of German and Irish descent. The public buildings are a jail, fort Fayette barracks, a court house, market house, bank, and several churches." Palmer's Journal of travels in the United States, 1818.
"The adjoining hills contain inexhaustible quarries of sand rock, suitable for grindstones; and several establishments, for the manufacture of these useful articles, are extensively conducted. As no marble is brought hither, except from the neighbourhood of Philadelphia, those quarries also supply the citizens with gravestones. Near Breakneck, I noted that mica was contained in the sand rock and this singular addition is also found here, in all the strata of that stone which I have seen." Thomas's Travels through the western country in 1816.
"6 mo. 14.--Having been detained, day after day longer than we expected, this morning about sunrise, we left Pittsburgh with all the joy of a bird which escapes from its cage.
'From the tumult, and smoke of the city set free,'
we were ferried over the Monongahela, with elated spirits; and I repeated that line in Montgomery, with an emphasis, which it never before seemed to require." Thomas's Travels through the western country in 1816.
"There are a considerable number of free negroes in the city. Whilst here, we saw a funeral attended by these people; sixty or seventy couple, two and two in the manner of the Philadelphians." Palmer's Journal of travels in the United States, 1818.
"The inhabitants of Pittsburg are fond of music; in our evening walks, we were sure to hear performers on the violin, clarionet, flute, and occasionally the piano-forte. Concerts are not unusual. The houses of the principal streets have benches in front, on which the family and neighbours sit and enjoy the placidity of their summer evenings." Palmer's Journal of travels in the United States and Canada, 1817.
"If the inhabitants of Pittsburgh are determined to call that place after some English town, I should propose that, instead of the 'American Birmingham,' it be denominated, with relation of the humidity of its climate, 'the American Manchester;' for I remained at this place several days, during which time the rain never ceased. The smoke is also extreme, giving to the town and its inhabitants a very sombre aspect; but an English medical gentleman who has resided here some years, informs us that there is not a more healthy place in the United States." Fearon's Sketches of America, 1818.
"The streets of Pittsburgh are lighted, and consequently the useful order of watchmen is established. My ears, however, have not become reconciled to their music. It is true, I have been more conversant in forests than in cities, and may not comprehend the advantages of these deep-mouthed tones; but breaking the slumbers of the invalid, and giving timely notice to the thief, form two items of much weight in my view as a set off against them.
Pittsburgh is laid out to front both rivers; but as these do not approach at right angles, the streets intersect each other obliquely.
It is not a well built city. The south-west part is the most compact, but many years must elapse before it will resemble Philadelphia. Wooden buildings, interspersed with those of brick, mar the beauty of its best streets; and as few of these are paved, mud, in showery weather, becomes abundant. A short period, however, will probably terminate this inconvenience." Thomas's Travels through the western country in 1816.
"In October, 1816, a resolution was passed permitting a Mr. Gray to exhibit a panoramic view of the naval engagement on Lake Champlain and the battle of Plattsburg without a license or other tax, owing to 'the patriotic nature and worthy object of the exhibit.' In November, 1816, a committee was appointed to inquire whether it was expedient for the city to possess for public purposes more ground than it then did, and whether it would be expedient at that time to purchase ground upon which to erect buildings. In December a resolution introduced by Mr. Wilkins provided for the appointment of a special committee to make a detailed report upon the condition of manufactures in Pittsburg, which resolution was adopted; whereupon the following committee was appointed: Benjamin Bakewell, Aquila M. Bolton and James Arthurs... The city councils at this time also sent agents to Harrisburg and Washington to labor specially in the interests of public roads in the Western country. In 1816 Northern Liberties was laid out by George A. Bayard and James Adams." Wilson's History of Pittsburg.
"The price of property has increased in the most surprising manner within the last ten years; it is now at least ten times as high as it was at that period. There are but few sales of lots in fee simple, custom is to let on perpetual lease; the price in market and Wood streets, varies from ten to twenty dollars per foot, and in the other streets from four to eight, and in particular situations still higher. The rents are equally high. In Market, Wood and Water streets, the principal places of business, it is difficult to procure a common room in an upper story, under one hundred dollars per annum; the rent of stores, vary from three to five hundred dollars; there is one warehouse which rents for twelve hundred: the rent of tavern stands, is from five to twelve hundred dollars. The rent of dwelling houses varies much, according to the locality and kind of the tenement; a genteel private family can scarcely obtain a good dwelling under three or four hundred dollars." Cramer's Navigator, 1817.
"Provisions of all kinds bring a high price in this city though the market is fluctuating. Hay, at present is twenty dollars a ton, and oats one dollar per bushel. Butter varies from twenty-five to seventy-five cents per pound. The farmers of this neighbourhood, however, produce neither cheese or pork, that merits a notice. The former of these articles is chiefly obtained from the sate of Ohio, and bacon, procured from Kentucky, is now retailed at sixteen or seventeen cents per pound.
Before the late war, this market was distinguished for its cheapness; but with an influx of strangers, induced by the movements of that period, 'war prices' commenced; and though peace has returned--and though many of those new comers have sought their former places of residence,--the encouragements held out to the farmer, suffers no diminution. Indeed, there are great inducements for the industrious to migrate hither. Though the soil is uneven, it is far from being sterile; and exclusive of salubrity of situation, and of durable timber for fences, the coal mines, which pervade almost every hill, constitute treasures of great value.
Farms round this city, at the distance of two or three miles have been lately sold from fifty to one hundred dollars an acre, according to situation." Thomas's Travels through the western country in 1816.
"We remark much difference between the manners of the inhabitants of this country and those of Cayuga. In that place, profane language is rarely heard from any person, who pretends to decency, except in a paroxysm of vexation. Here it is an every day amusement. Crossing the Monongahela, in the ferry-boat, with an intelligent gentleman of polished manners, I was shocked and surprised to hear almost every sentence from his lips interlarded with an oath or an imprecation; yet he was in gay good humour, and, I believe, unconscious of this breach of decorum.
It would be unjust not to express my belief, that honourable exceptions to these censures are numerous; but impiety certainly constitutes a strong characteristic of no inconsiderable part of this people....
I have remarked with regret the impiety of some of these citizens; but we think, that generally, they are entitled to much praise for obliging and courteous behaviour. Civility to strangers, in a high degree, even pervades their factories; and in all those which I have visited, the mean practice of permitting children to ask the spectators for money, appears to be unknown." Thomas's Travels through the western country in 1816.
"Except the gratifying reflection arising from the review of so much plastic industry, Pittsburg is by no means a pleasant city to a stranger. The constant volumes of smoke preserve the atmosphere in a continued cloud of coal dust. In October, 1815, by a reduced calculation, at least 2000 bushels of that fuel was consumed daily, on a space of about two and a quarter square miles. To this is added a scene of activity, that reminds the spectator that he is within a commercial port, though 300 miles from the sea.
Several good inns, and many good taverns, are scattered over the city; but often, from the influx of strangers, ready accommodation is found difficult to procure. Provisions of every kind abound; two markets are held weekly." Darby's Emigrant's guide, 1818.
"The published accounts of this city are so exaggerated and out of all reason, that strangers are usually disappointed on visiting it. This, however, was not my case. I have been in some measure tutored in American gasconade. When I am told that at a particular hotel there is handsome accommodation, I expect that they are one remove from very bad; if 'elegant entertainment,' I anticipate tolerable; if a person is 'a clever man,' that he is not absolutely a fool; and if a manufactory is the 'first in the world,' I expect, and have generally found, about six men and three boys employed." Fearon's Sketches of America, 1818.
"As every blessing has its attendant evil, the stone coal is productive of considerable inconvenience from the smoke which overhangs the town, and descends in fine dust which blackens every object; even snow can scarcely be called white in Pittsburgh. The persons and dress of the inhabitants, in the interior of the houses as well as the exterior, experience its effect. The tall steeple of the court house, was once painted white, but alas! how changed. Yet all this might be prevented by some additional expense on the construction of chimnies. In the English manufacturing towns, a fine is imposed upon those who do not consume their smoke. Incalculable would be the advantage to this place, could such a regulation be adopted." Cramer's Navigator, 1817.
"Upon the whole, I consider Pittsburgh, in every point of view, to be a very important town; and have no doubt, although its prosperity is now at a stand, and property is not declining, is not increasing in value, that it will gradually advance; and that the time must come when it will be an extensive and very populous city. The present population is 10,000, made up from all nations, and, of course, not free from the vices of each: this indeed is but too apparent upon a very short residence." Fearon's Sketches of America, 1818. Return to Table of Contents.
United States Census1810 1820 United States 7,239,903 9,637,999 Pennsylvania 810,091 1,049,449 Allegheny county 25,317 34,921 Pittsburgh 4,768 7,248
Return to Table of Contents.
Business and Industries"In 1813 there were five glass factories, three foundries, a new edge tool factory, Cowan's New Rolling Mill, a new lock factory built by Patterson, two steam engine and boiler works, one steel factory and a goodly number of small concerns manufacturing various articles. In 1817 the city councils appointed a committee to collect and publish a list of all the large factories in the city. This was done perhaps to let the world know of the industry and thrift of Pittsburg, and is valuable because it is an official list and is to be relied upon. It must also be remembered that these figures represented the industries of Pittsburg when barely emerging from the panic of 1815-17, a financial depression that has scarcely been equalled in Western Pennsylvania in all its history." Boucher's Century and a half of Pittsburg.
"There are many good stores in Pittsburg, and a great trade is carried on with Philadelphia, Baltimore, and the States of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, &c.; exclusive of the carrying trade, and the number of boats that are always proceeding down the Ohio, with vast quantities of foreign merchandize, destined to Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, &c. The inhabitants send up the Allegheny, Monongahela, and their forks, whisky, cyder, bacon, apples, iron, and castings, glass and foreign merchandize; in return they receive many thousand bushels of salt from Onondago, and immense rafts from Alleghany and French creeks. The quantity of rafts imported into Pittsburg annually, is computed at 4,000,000 feet; average nine dollars per 1000 feet." Palmer's Journal of travels in the United States and Canada, 1817.
"The state of trade is at present dull; but that there is a great deal of business done must be evident from the quantity of 'dry goods' and 'grocery stores,' many of the proprietors of which have stocks as heavy as the majority of London retail dealers. They are literally stuffed with goods of English manufacture, consisting of articles of the most varied kind, from a man's coat or lady's gown, down to a whip or an oyster knife." Fearon's Sketches of America, 1818."It is difficult to form a judgment whether there is an opening in any of the present established businesses. One fact strongly in favour of the stability of this town is, that there has not been a bankruptcy in it for three years!!! a singular contrast this with New York, in which the last published list of insolvents contained upwards of 400 names." Fearon's Sketches of America, 1818.
"The principal manufacturing establishments are, a steam grist-mill, steam engine factory, slitting mill, to which is attached a nail factory, the first of the kind in America; a cannon foundery, air furnace, cotton and woollen factories, two potteries, three breweries, &c.--There are four printing-offices, and two bookstores. A complete description of this interesting town would fill a volume." Brown's Western gazetteer, 1817.
"Two cotton factories, one woollen factory, one paper mill, two saw mills, and one flour mill, are all moved by steam, in this city and in its suburbs across the Monongahela. Four glass factories, two for flint, and two for green, are very extensive; and the productions of the former for elegance of workmanship, are scarcely surpassed by European manufacture. It is sent in many directions from this place; one of the proprietors assured us that Philadelphia receives a part, but the great outlet is down the Ohio." Thomas's Travels through the western country in 1816.
"Some of the...manufactories may be denominated first-rate. This remark applies particularly to the nail, steam-engine (high pressure) and glass establishments. I was astonished to witness such perfection on this side of the Atlantic, and especially in that part of America which a New Yorker supposes to be at the farther end of the world.
At Messrs. Page and Bakewell's glass warehouse I saw chandeliers and numerous articles in cut glass of a very splendid description; among the latter was a pair of decanters, cut from a London pattern, the price of which will be eight guineas. It is well to bear in mind that the demand for these articles of elegant luxury lies in the Western States! the inhabitants of Eastern America being still importers from the 'Old Country.'" Fearon's Sketches of America, 1818.
"The glass establishment of Bakewell, Page & Bakewell was founded in 1808 and the building erected in 1811, on Water Street, above Grant, and, from the start, was devoted exclusively to the manufacture of white or flint glass. So excellent was the article produced that the manufacturers attained a fame, not only in all parts of the United States, but in Mexico and in many parts of Europe. No finer product could be found anywhere. If a stranger of prominence visited Pittsburgh he was taken with certainty to Bakewell's glasshouse." Wilson's History of Pittsburg.
"Perhaps of all the wonders of Pittsburg, the greatest is the glass factories. About twenty years have elapsed since the first glass-house was erected in that town, and at this moment every kind of glass, from a porter bottle or window pane, to the most elegant cut crystal glass, are now manufactured. There are four large glass-houses, in which are now manufactured, at least, to the amount of 200,000 dollars annually." Darby's Emigrant's guide, 1818.
"Walter Forward, the great lawyer of Pittsburg in his day, had addressed a large audience in the court house on December 28, 1816. In speaking of the rapidly growing iron business of Pittsburg, he said, that the iron interests were then consuming about 1800 tons of pig iron; that the business employed about 150 hands, and the product was valued at $250,000. Of wrought iron there was annually worked up about 2000 tons, the products from which were, according to the best estimates, worth about $1,300,000." Boucher's Century and a half of Pittsburg.
"The first furnace or foundry in the town which had a permanent existence was established in 1803 by Joseph McClurg. This was the celebrated Fort Pitt foundry.... Here were cast cannon that boomed over Lake Erie in the war of 1812 and thundered before Mexico in 1847. A large part of Commodore Perry's equipment came from here." Magazine of western history, 1885.
"The first rolling mill of Pittsburg was built by a Scotch-Irishman in 1811 and 1812. It was called the Pittsburg Rolling Mill.... This extensive mill stood on the corner of Penn street and Cecil alley, and is referred to by early writers as the Stackpole and Whiting mill. They were two Boston iron workers named respectively William Stackpole and Ruggles Whiting. They introduced nail cutting machines which both cut and headed the nails. They operated the mill during the hard times which followed the War of 1812, and strange to say, failed financially in 1819, when business of all kinds had somewhat revived." Boucher's Century and a half of Pittsburg.
"The slitting and rolling mill, together with the nail factory of Stackpole & Whiting, is moved by a steam engine of seventy-horse power. These we visited with much satisfaction. On entering the south-west door, the eye catches the majestic swing of the beam; and at the same instant, nine nailing-machines, all in rapid motion, burst on the view. Bewildered by the varying velocity of so many new objects, we stand astonished at this sublime effort of human ingenuity." Thomas's Travels through the western country in 1816.
"At the close of the first quarter of the nineteenth century Pittsburg had surpassed all other parts of the West in the production of nails. A patent nail machine had been introduced extensively, and it had revolutionized the manufacture. Some of the factories were built in connection with the rolling mills." Boucher's Century and a half of Pittsburg.
"The first rope-walk erected west of the Allegheny Mountains, was established in Pittsburgh in 1794, and was located on the ground now occupied by the Monongahela House. The business was carried on by Col. John Irwin and wife....
Immediately following the death of Col. Irwin, Mrs. Irwin gave her son an interest in the business; and it was carried on under the name and style of Mary and John Irwin.
In the year 1795 the works were removed to the square bounded by Liberty, Third, and Fourth Streets and Redoubt Alley. In view of the increasing demand for their products, and confined limits of this locality, the walk was removed in 1812 to the bank of the Allegheny River between Marbury Street and the point, where the entire rigging for Perry's fleet was manufactured....
Mrs. Irwin, on account of her age, and loss of health, resolved to quit business, in view of which she disposed of her interest to her son, who, in accordance with his preconceived notions on the subject, commenced the erection, in Allegheny, in 1813, of one of the most extensive works in the West, on the ten-acre out-lot bounded by the West Commons, Water Lane (now Western Avenue), out-lots Nos. 275, 29, and 30. It was known and designated as out-lot No. 276 in the 'Reserve Tract opposite Pittsburg.' Mr. Irwin successfully carried on the business until Jan. 1, 1835, when he associated with him his son Henry, under the name of John Irwin & Son." Parke's Recollections of seventy years.
"Mr. Charles Rosenbaum has established a shop for making Piano Fortes, which are of superior quality. They are equal in elegance of workmanship, and in tone, to any imported. We are happy to hear that his success meets his most flattering expectation." Cramer's Almanack, 1816.
"Knitting needle making has been commenced by Messrs. Frethy and Pratt. In New-York pin making is going on lively. It is hoped our females will be well supplied with these articles especially the first." Cramer's Navigator, 1817.
"Trunks are made smartly by J. M. Sloan, who wants for this purpose deer skins with the hair on.
Stocking weaving, for want of encouragement, perhaps goes on but slowly. We see no reason why a stocking cannot be wove as cheap and as good here as in any other part of the world.
Brush-making. Mr. Blair conducts this business to great advantage and manufactures vast quantities of brushes. Much more could be done were the farmers more careful of their hogs' bristles." Cramer's Navigator, 1817. Return to Table of Contents.
Traveling Eastward: Quick Transportation"In the course of the present week, waggons have arrived at Pittsburgh, in thirteen days from Philadelphia,with loads of 3500 lbs. and upwards." Mercury, May 11, 1816.
"Two good safe and easy Stages will leave Pittsburgh for Philadelphia on the 27th or 28th inst. and will offer a pleasant conveyance for four persons on very accommodating terms. Apply at the Branch Bank on Second street or at the office of the Pittsburgh Gazette." Gazette, 1816.
"Near Philadelphia, the single team of eight or nine horses is seen; in the lower parts of Maryland and Virginia, the light three-horse team is common; while in this country, the heavy Lancaster waggon, drawn by five or six horses, which vie in stature with the elephant, is continually before us. The extreme slowness of these overland slopes, often attracted our notice." Thomas's Travels through the western country in 1816.
"Before the time of railroads between the east and west of the Allegheny mountains, the freight business to the Monongahela was carried on by means of the Conestoga road wagons drawn by six horses. By this way the freight to Pittsburgh was carried exclusively, but after the completion of the Pennsylvania canal, transportation was divided between the canal-boat and the wagon. As early as 1817 12,000 wagons, in twelve months, passed over the Allegheny mountains from Philadelphia and Baltimore, each with from four to six horses, carrying from thirtyfive to forty hundred weight. The cost was about $7 per 100 weight, in some cases $10. To transport one ton of freight between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, therefore, would cost about $140, and in so doing two weeks, at least, of time would be consumed." Van Voorhis's Old and new Monongahela.
"The standard wagon for heavy work was the 'Conestoga.' The bed was low in the center and high at each end. The lower part of the bed was painted blue. Above this was a red part about a foot wide which could be taken off when necessary, and these with the white canvas covering, made the patriotic tri-color of the American flag, though this was probably unintentional. Bells were often used in all seasons of the year though not strings of bells such as were afterwards used in sleighing. The wagoner's bells were fastened to an iron bow above the hames on the horses and were pear shaped and very sweet toned. Perhaps they relieved the monotony of the long journey over the lonely pike." Boucher's Century and a half of Pittsburg.
"With the Conestoga wagons originated our modern 'stogie' cigars which have become so common in Pittsburg and which have been in recent years, sent from Pittsburg to every section of the Union. They were made in that day of pure home grown tobacco and being used very largely, at first by the Conestoga wagoners, took the name 'stogies' which clings to them yet." Boucher's Century and a half of Pittsburg.
"There were almost a continuous stream of four or six horse wagons laden with merchandise, going west and returning with the product of the Ohio Valley to supply the eastern cities. These wagons journeyed mostly between Pittsburg and Philadelphia and Baltimore. The wagoners generally stopped at a wayside inn which was less expensive than at the inns in the villages. Wagoners cared little for style but demanded an abundance while the stage-coach passengers demanded both. The wagoner invariably slept on a bunk which he carried with him and which he laid on the floor of the big bar-room and office of the country hotel. Stage drivers and their passengers stopped at the best hotels and paid higher prices. For the purpose of feeding his horses in the public square, the wagoner carried a long trough which at night he fastened with special irons to the tongue of the wagon.... An old gentleman told the writer that he had once seen 52 wagons in an unbroken line going towards Pittsburg on this pike. They were Conestoga wagons with great bowed beds covered with canvas, and none of them were drawn by less than four, while many of them had six horses. The old fashioned public square which kept them over night must have been a good sized one. The public squares on this turnpike were usually from three to four hundred feet long and from two to three hundred feet wide. Some of the older villages had two squares separated a short distance from each other, but this was generally brought about by a rivalry among two factions when the town was first laid out." Boucher's Century and a half of Pittsburg."When a village was laid out along the pike there was usually a public square in its center, and at least two corners of this public square were set apart for taverns. This square generally called a diamond, was not intended as a place of ornament as it usually is now, but was for special purposes. There the wagons laden with freight stood over night, and as a general rule in all kinds of weather, the horses were blanketed, fed and bedded in the public square. Upon these wagons were transported nearly all the goods between Philadelphia and Pittsburg." Boucher's Century and a half of Pittsburg.
"An account has been furnished us by Mr. Alexander Thompson, who resides on the Turnpike road four miles and a half from Pittsburgh, from which it appears, that from the 1st of January, 1815 to the 31st of December 1815, inclusive, 5,800 road waggons, laden with merchandize &c. passed his farm for Pittsburgh. The greater part of these waggons returned loaded with cordage, salt petre, &c. to the east of the mountains.
The waggons with iron from the Juniata and other iron works, are not included in the above." Gazette, Jan. 27, 1816.
"Recurring to my old plan of estimation, I passed on my road from Chambersburgh to Pittsburgh, being 153 miles, one hundred and three stage-waggons, drawn by four and six horses, proceeding from Philadelphia and Baltimore to Pittsburgh,--seventy-nine from Pittsburgh to Baltimore and Philadelphia,--sixty-three waggons, with families, from the several places following:--twenty from Massachusetts,--ten from the district of Maine,--fourteen from Jersey,--thirteen from Connecticut,--two from Maryland,--one from Pennsylvania,--one from England,--one from Holland,--and one from Ireland; about two hundred persons on horseback,--twenty on foot,--one beggar, one family, with their waggon, returning from Cincinnati, entirely disappointed--a circumstance which, though rare, is by no means, as some might suppose, miraculous." Fearon's Sketches of America, 1818.
"Pittsburg is a cheap market for horses...travellers from the east, often quit their horses here, and take the river for New Orleans, &c.; and on the contrary, those from the west proceed eastward from this place, in stages. Thus, there are constantly a number of useful hackneys on sale. The mode of selling is by auction. The auctioneer rides the animal through the streets, proclaiming with a loud voice, the biddings that are made as he passes along, and when they reach the desired point, or when nobody bids more, he closes the bargain.
A complete equipment is, in the first place, a pacing horse, a blanket under the saddle, another upon it, and a pair of saddle-bags, with great-coat and umbrella strapped behind.
Women of advanced age, often take long journeys in this manner, without inconvenience. Yesterday I heard a lady mentioned familiarly (with no mark of admiration) who is coming from Tenessee, twelve hundred miles, to Pittsburg with an infant; preferring horseback to boating up the river." Birkbeck's Notes on a journey in America, 1818.
"The horses, in this place, are a much larger breed than those commonly raised in New-York; and as the utmost regularity in feeding and currying prevails, their appearance is well calculated to excite the admiration of strangers, from the eastward." Thomas's Travels through the western country in 1816.
"A common mode of selling horses is for the owner to gallop through the street, announcing the amount of his last bidding. I have witnessed several crying out, 'twenty-five dallars,' 'twenty-five dallars,' 'twenty-five dallars;' and after half an hour's exercise, they have been transferred, saddle, bridle, and all, to a new bidder, for twenty-five dallars, fifty sants." Fearon's Sketches of America, 1818. Return to Table of Contents.
Taverns"A requisite of the old-fashioned wagon or stage town hotel or of the wayside inn was a large room used as an office and bar-room and as a sleeping place for the wagoners. In it was a large open fireplace which was abundantly supplied with wood in the early days, and later with coal. Around this, when the horses were cared for and the evening's diversion was over, the wagoners spread their bunks in a sort of semi-circle with their feet to the fire, for they were said to be much subjected to rheumatism, and this position was taken as a preventative.... Wagoners drove in all kinds of weather and the descent of a mountain or large hill was often attended with great danger, especially when it was covered with ice. The day's journey of a regular wagoner when heavily laden, was rather less than over 20 miles, and 100 miles in a week was a fair average.... The average load hauled was about 6,000 pounds for a six horse team. Sometimes four tons were put on, and even five tons which the wagoner boastfully called 'a hundred hundred,' were hauled, but these were rare exceptions." Boucher's Century and a half of Pittsburg. Return to Table of Contents.
Steamboats and River Traffic"Many travellers and emigrants to this region, view the first samples of the mode of travelling in the western world, on the Allegany at Oleanne point, or the Monongahela at Brownsville. These are but the retail specimens. At Pittsburg, where these rivers unite, you have the thing in gross, and by wholesale. The first thing that strikes a stranger from the Atlantic, arrived at the boat-landing, is the singular, whimsical, and amusing spectacle, of the varieties of water-craft, of all shapes and structures. There is the stately barge, of the size of a large Atlantic schooner, with its raised and outlandish looking deck.... Next there is the keel-boat, of a long, slender, and elegant form, and generally carrying from fifteen to thirty tons.... Next in order are the Kentucky flats, or in the vernacular phrase, 'broad-horns,' a species of ark, very nearly resembling a New England pig-stye. They are fifteen feet wide, and from forty to one hundred feet in length, and carry from twenty to seventy tons. Some of them, that are called family-boats, and used by families in descending the river, are very large and roomy, and have comfortable and separate apartments, fitted up with chairs, beds, tables and stoves. It is no uncommon spectacle to see a large family, old and young, servants, cattle, hogs, horses, sheep, fowls, and animals of all kinds, bringing to recollection the cargo of the ancient ark, all embarked, and floating down on the same bottom. Then there are what the people call 'covered sleds,' or ferry-flats, and Allegany-skiffs, carrying from eight to twelve tons. In another place are pirogues of from two to four tons burthen, hollowed sometimes from one prodigious tree, or from the trunks of two trees united, and a plank rim fitted to the upper part. There are common skiffs, and other small craft, named from the manner of making them, 'dug-outs,' and canoes hollowed from smaller trees.... You can scarcely imagine an abstract form in which a boat can be built, that in some part of the Ohio or Mississippi you will not see, actually in motion....
This variety of boats, so singular in form, and most of them apparently so frail, is destined in many instances to voyages of from twelve hundred to three thousand miles." Flint's Recollections of the last ten years, 1826.
"I reached Olean, on the source of the Alleghany River, early in 1818, while the snow was yet upon the ground, and had to wait several weeks for the opening of that stream. I was surprised to see the crowd of persons, from various quarters, who had pressed to this point, waiting for the opening of the navigation.
It was a period of general migration from the East to the West. Commerce had been checked for several years by the war with Great Britain. Agriculture had been hindered by the raising of armies, and a harassing warfare both on the seaboard and the frontiers; and manufactures had been stimulated to an unnatural growth, only to be crushed by the peace. Speculation had also been rife in some places, and hurried many gentlemen of property into ruin. Banks exploded, and paper money flooded the country.
The fiscal crisis was indeed very striking. The very elements seemed leagued against the interests of agriculture in the Atlantic States, where a series of early and late frosts, in 1816 and 1817, had created quite a panic, which helped to settle the West.
I mingled in this crowd, and, while listening to the anticipations indulged in, it seemed to me that the war had not, in reality, been fought for 'free trade and sailors' rights' where it commenced, but to gain a knowledge of the world beyond the Alleghanies.
Many came with their household stuff, which was to be embarked in arks and flat boats. The children of Israel could scarcely have presented a more motley array of men and women, with their 'kneading troughs' on their backs, and their 'little ones,' than were there assembled, on their way to the new land of promise.
To judge by the tone of general conversation, they meant, in their generation, to plough the Mississippi Valley from its head to its foot. There was not an idea short of it. What a world of golden dreams was there!
I took passage on the first ark that attempted the descent for the season. This ark was built of stout planks, with the lower seams caulked, forming a perfectly flat basis on the water. It was about thirty feet wide and sixty long, with gunwales of some eighteen inches. Upon this was raised a structure of posts and boards about eight feet high, divided into rooms for cooking and sleeping, leaving a few feet space in front and rear, to row and steer. The whole was covered by a flat roof, which formed a promenade, and near the front part of this deck were two long 'sweeps,' a species of gigantic oars, which were occasionally resorted to in order to keep the unwieldy vessel from running against islands or dangerous shores.
We went on swimmingly, passing through the Seneca reservation, where the picturesque costume of the Indians seen on shore served to give additional interest to scenes of the deepest and wildest character. Every night we tied our ark to a tree, and built a fire on shore. Sometimes we narrowly escaped going over falls, and once encountered a world of labor and trouble by getting into a wrong channel. I made myself as useful and agreeable as possible to all. I had learned to row a skiff with dexterity during my residence on Lake Dunmore, and turned this art to account by taking the ladies ashore, as we floated on with our ark, and picked up specimens while they culled shrubs and flowers. In this way, and by lending a ready hand at the 'sweeps' and at the oars whenever there was a pinch, I made myself agreeable. The worst thing we encountered was rain, against which our rude carpentry was but a poor defence. We landed at everything like a town, and bought milk, and eggs, and butter. Sometimes the Seneca Indians were passed, coming up stream in their immensely long pine canoes. There was perpetual novelty and freshness in this mode of wayfaring. The scenery was most enchanting. The river ran high, with a strong spring current, and the hills frequently rose in most picturesque cliffs.
1818. I do not recollect the time consumed in this descent. We had gone about three hundred miles, when we reached Pittsburgh. It was the 28th of March when we landed at this place, which I remember because it was my birthday. And I here bid adieu to the kind and excellent proprietor of the ark, L. Pettiborne, Esq., who refused to receive any compensation for my passage, saying, prettily, that he did not know how they could have got along without me.
I stopped at one of the best hotels, kept by a Mrs. McCullough, and, after visiting the manufactories and coal mines, hired a horse, and went up the Monongahela Valley, to explore its geology as high as Williamsport. The rich coal and iron beds of this part of the country interested me greatly; I was impressed with their extent, and value, and the importance which they must eventually give to Pittsburgh. After returning from this trip, I completed my visits to the various workshops and foundries, and to the large glass-works of Bakewell and of O'Hara.
I was now at the head of the Ohio River, which is formed by the junction of the Alleghany and Monongahela. My next step was to descend this stream; and, while in search of an ark on the borders of the Monongahela, I fell in with a Mr. Brigham, a worthy person from Massachusetts, who had sallied out with the same view. We took passage together on one of these floating houses, with the arrangements of which I had now become familiar. I was charmed with the Ohio; with its scenery, which was every moment shifting to the eye; and with the incidents of such a novel voyage." Schoolcraft's Thirty years with the Indian tribes.
"I have seen a pleasant anecdote of one of these (vessels, recorded in the Picture of Cincinnati, published at Cincinnati,) she had entered a port in the Mediterranean, and when the captain presented his papers, the examining officer read in his clearance, Pittsburg, state of Pennsylvania, 'Pittsburg, Pennsylvania,' said he, 'there is no such port; your papers must be forged; here is some deception or piracy; we shall detain your papers and ship till we see farther into this.' The American captain tried for some time, in vain, to convince him; till by the aid of the American consul and a map, he reluctantly admitted the possibility of there being such a place, from which a ship could be navigated, although two thousand miles from the ocean." Palmer's Journal of travels in the United States, 1818.
"A company, stiled the 'Ohio steam boat company,' has lately been formed, who intend building steam boats to run between this place and the Falls of Ohio. The dimensions of the boats will be 100 feet keel and 20 feet beam. They contemplate having two running this fall or winter, 1815-6....
This line of Steam Boats, though not attached to those belonging to the Mississippi Steam Boat Company, will form a chain of conveyance from New Orleans to this place, which must result very much to the advantage and prosperity of Pittsburgh and intermediate towns." Cramer's almanack, 1816.
"Steam-boat, ark, Kentucky, barge, and keel-boat building, is carried on to a considerable extent. Sea vessels have been built here, but the navigation is too far from the sea, and attended with too much hazard for it to answer. The following vessels, besides steam-boats, have been built at Pittsburg and on its rivers: ships, Pittsburg, Louisiana, General Butler, and Western Trader; brigs, Dean, Black Walnut, Monongahela Farmer, and Ann Jean; schooners, Amity, Alleghany, and Conquest, (navigator)." Palmer's Journal of travels in the United States and Canada, 1817.
"The steam-boat navigation, we are assured, is a losing concern. The newspapers have announced the hopes of our western citizens, and the editors now appear to to be careful to conceal their disappointments. Two large vessels of this description are lying near the Point, which have not justified public expectations. Captain FRENCH, of Brownsville, (fifty miles by water up the Monongahela and thirty-five by land) has built two vessels of this kind, which it is said have succeeded best." Thomas's Travels through the western country in 1816.
"The best mode perhaps in descending the Ohio, in time of low water, is in keel boats.... Merchants are beginning to prefer this method for safety and expedition; and instead of purchasing boats and taking charge of them themselves, they get their goods freighted down from Pittsburgh in keel boats by the persons who make them, and who make it their business to be prepared, with good boats and experienced hands for such engagements." Cramer's Navigator, 1817.
"The manners of the boatmen are as strange as their language. Their peculiar way of life has given origin not only to an appropriate dialect, but to new modes of enjoyment, riot, and fighting. Almost every boat, while it lies in the harbour has one or more fiddles scraping continually aboard, to which you often see the boatmen dancing. There is no wonder that the way of life which the boatmen lead, in turn extremely indolent, and extremely laborious; for days together requiring little or no effort, and attended with no danger, and then on a sudden, laborious and hazardous, beyond Atlantic navigation; generally plentiful as it respects food, and always so as it regards whiskey, should always have seductions that prove irresistible to the young people that live near the banks of the river.... And yet with all these seductions for the eye and the imagination, no life is so slavish, none so precarious and dangerous. In no employment do the hands so wear out. After the lapse of so very short a period since these waters have been navigated in this way, at every bend, and every high point of the river, you are almost sure to see, as you stop for a moment, indications of the 'narrow house;' the rude monument, the coarse memorial, carved on an adjoining tree by a brother boatman, which marks that an exhausted boatman there yielded his breath, and was buried." Flint's Recollections of the last ten years, 1826.
"Three steamers were built at Pittsburgh in 1816, the 'Franklin,' one hundred and twenty-five tons, by Messrs. Shiras and Cromwell; the 'Oliver Evans,' seventy-five tons, by George Evans; and the 'Harriet,' forty tons, by a Mr. Armstrong of Williamsport, Pennsylvania.... Up to 1816 grave doubts existed as to the practicability of navigating the Ohio by steamboats. A gentleman who in that year, with others, long watched the futile efforts of a stern wheeler to ascend the Horsetail ripple, five miles below Pittsburgh, afterwards wrote that the unanimous conclusion of the company was that 'such a contrivance might do for the Mississippi...but that we of Ohio must wait for some more happy century of invention.'" Magazine of western history, 1885.
The Steamboat Franklin
"The elegant steam-boat Franklin, was launched from the shipyard at the Point, in this city, on Wednesday last." Mercury, April 20, 1816.
"The Steam Boat Franklin, burden 140 tons, was launched from the Point Ship Yard, on Wednesday morning last. The Franklin is owned by a company of gentlemen in this city, and is intended as a regular trader between here and New Orleans. The engine for this boat is constructed on Bolton and Watt's plan, improved by Mr. Arthurs of this place." Gazette, April 20,1816.
"Maysville, Dec. 24, 1816.
The undersigned passengers in the Steam Boat Franklin, from Pittsburgh, feel it a just tribute due to the proprietors and captain, to express publicly their approbation of the very handsome manner in which they have been entertained. Her accommodations, speed and safety, as well as the polite attention of Captain Cromwell, are such as will always insure a decided preference.
Chas. Savage, Massachusetts.
J. P. Cambridge, M. D., Philadelphia.
Tho. Sloo, Cincinnati.
Robert J. Baron, London.
W. R. Ord, London.
Louis Caenon, France.
J. W. Simonton, Philadelphia.
Daniel Lewis, New York.
The beautiful Steam Boat above named passed by this place on Tuesday last." Commonwealth, Jan. 6, 1817.
Interesting to the Western Public
"On the 30th December, the steamboat Oliver Evans, departed from this city for New-Orleans, laden with about forty tons freight and forty passengers, and drew but thirty inches water, which is without doubt less than ever known.... Her length is one hundred and twenty feet and beam fourteen feet nine inches. She ascended the Allegheny when it was high and rapid, at the rate of five miles per hour, and passed over the ripple at Wainright's island, at such a rate as to cause people on the shore to walk, briskly, to keep pace with her, and there remains no doubt but that she is much the fastest vessel ever exhibited here." Mercury, Jan. 4, 1817.
The Steamboat Harriet
"We had, on Tuesday last, the pleasure of a sail in the new steam boat Harriet of Pittsburgh, owned by Mr. Joshua Armitage. She is designed as a regular trader between this place and New-Orleans. She is supposed to carry forty to sixty tons. Her engine and machinery were built by Mr. J. Arthurs. They are simple in their construction, and proved very complete in their operation. She ascended the Allegheny, which was high and rapid, at about the rate of three miles an hour; and ascended the rapid ripple at Wainright's island, with perfect ease.--We feel happy in being able to announce this effort of individual enterprize. It is the harbinger of the general introduction of steam boat navigation on the western waters--and the day is not far distant when individuals as well as companies will embark in such useful improvements." Mercury, Dec. 14, 1816.
The Steamboat Vesuvius
"We are sorry to state that the beautiful Steam Boat Vesuvius, launched about two years ago at this place, has been burned to the water's edge, at New Orleans. The Vesuvius was freighted with a valuable cargo of dry goods and other commodities. The fire broke out about 12 o'clock the night previous to her intended departure. As she lay in the middle of the stream, no assistance could be afforded her, and all the property on board fell a prey to the flames." Commonwealth, Aug. 6, 1816.
The Trans-Atlantic Steamer
"We are on the eve of one of the greatest experiments, which has been undertaken during the present age. A Steam boat is about to brave the Atlantic, and cross from N. Y. to Russia. The consequences of this enterprize who will predict? It may open a new aera in the art of navigation. It may dispense with the lagging and variable agency of winds and waves. It may bring the two worlds nearer together--it may shorten the passage from 25 to 15 days. A first experiment is everything, who does not wish it success?" Gazette, Aug. 23, 1816.
"We have heard it doubted (says the Virginia Patriot) whether the steam-boat soon to leave New York for Russia, will have sails; or those who go in it will venture to trust themselves to the efficacy of steam alone. If without sails (though Columbus deserves more credit,) those who first cross the Atlantic in a steam-boat will be entitled to a great portion of applause. In a few years we expect such trips will be common....
Bold was the man, the first who dared to brave,
In fragile bark, the wild, perfidious wave:
and bold will they be who first make a passage to Europe in a steam boat. Jason crept along by the shore: Not so these adventurers: they will have
No port to cheer them on the restless wave." Gazette, Sept. 3, 1816. Return to Table of Contents.
Ferries and Bridges"Between 1764 and 1819 the only means of crossing these streams, at Pittsburg, was by way of ferries. The first of these, it is believed, was operated from the foot of Ferry street, Pittsburg to the opposite shore, and this was the origin of the name 'Ferry street'.... Early in the nineteenth century a ferry was established from the mouth of Liberty street, called 'Jones Ferry.' Foot passengers desiring to cross the river employed skiffs, while stock was taken over on flat-boats. Such boats were pushed by means of poles, at low stages of water, and by oars in high water periods." Boucher's Century and a half of Pittsburg.
"The Subscriber respectfully informs his friends and the public in general, that he intends opening a new Ferry on the Monongahela River, where he now lives, a few steps East of the mouth of Wood-street, which will co-operate with Mr. Beltzhoover's new house on the opposite side of the river, kept by Mr. Robert Wilson. He has been careful to provide himself with good new crafts, and also good trusty ferrymen. He expects to be able to give general satisfaction to those who may please to favor him with their custom. As he is determined there shall be no detention at the ferry, those wishing to cross the river on the evening before the Market-day can be accommodated with storeage for their marketing free of charge. He intends keeping a supply of the best Liquors. He flatters himself that his strict attention to business will insure him a sufficient supply of the public patronage.
Pittsburgh, March 20.
N. B. Those wishing to take their Ferrage by the year, can have an opportunity of engaging with him at any time. W. R." Commonwealth, March 20, 1816.
Steam Boat Ferry
A meeting will be held at E. Carr's Tavern, in Water Street, on Wednesday evening, 3d April, at 7 o'clock, on organizing a Company to establish a Steam Ferry,--Those persons interested in preserving the present advantages of the western section of the City from being wrested out of their hands, by the injudicious scite chosen by the Legislature for the Monongahela Bridge, are particularly requested to attend. Gazette, March 30, 1816.
"The first steps taken towards the erection of bridges at Pittsburgh were as early as 1810. A charter was granted by the Legislature on the 20th of March of that year for two bridges, one over the Monongahela and the other over the Allegheny; but circumstances interfered to prevent their erection for several years. The bridge charter was allowed to lapse, but a new one was granted by the Legislature February 17, 1816, which was signed by the governor May 31, 1816. A company organized under this charter July 8, 1816. The bridges were constructed and opened to the public for traffic, the Monongahela in 1818 and the Allegheny in 1820." Warner's History of Allegheny county.
At an election held on the 10th instant for officers for the Monongahela Bridge Company, the following persons were unanimously elected:
Managers. James Ross, Oliver Ormsby, David Pride, Christian Latshaw, George Anshutz, Thomas Baird, Wm. M'Candless, Philip Gilland, James S. Stevenson, Benj. Page, Jacob Beltzhoover, Fred'k Wendt.
Commonwealth, June 25, 1816. Return to Table of Contents.
The NewspapersThe Pittsburgh Gazette
Printed by John Scull, corner of Market and Front Streets. The Gazette was published every Saturday morning at three dollars per annum. Later in the year the Gazette was published on Tuesdays and Fridays.
"On the 1st of August, 1816, John Scull, the veteran editor, relinquished the publication of the Pittsburg Gazette. He was succeeded by Morgan Neville in the editorship of that journal, and his son, John I. Scull, became associated with Mr. Neville." Wilson's History of Pittsburg.
"'The Pittsburgh Gazette' under the original proprietor, Mr. John Scull, was the first establishment of the kind, west of the mountains. On its first appearance, it was viewed as a meteor of the moment, whose existence would terminate with the second or third number; and the idea of deriving a subsistence from its publication, was classed among the chimeras of a too sanguine temper. Our country was than a 'howling wilderness,' and the Ohio, whose fair bosom is now covered with the 'white sails of commerce,' was then disturbed only by the yell of the savage, who lay ambushed on its bank, or glided over its surface, in his solitary canoe. But these obstacles, though disheartening, were not sufficient to destroy the enterprize of the Editor. He had turned his back on civilization and comforts of his native place; he had deliberately subjected himself to the inconveniences of emigration, and his was not the ardour to be damped at the outset.... He became a citizen of Pittsburgh, when it was little more than an Indian village; his interests grew with its growth; he saw it rise into a manufacturing town; he has heard it emphatically called the 'Birmingham of America;' and finally, he has the triumphant satisfaction, of beholding in his own days, the village of the desert, changed into the city of the west. He has succeeded even beyond his expectations; he has run his moderate, unostentatious course. The patronage he has received, was sufficient for his desires; his editorial life here ends; with feelings acutely sensible of the favors he has received, he now relinquishes to his son and successor the 'Pittsburgh Gazette,' unstained by corruption, and free from venality, but ever firm, he trusts, in supporting our palladium, the freedom of the Press." Gazette, Aug. 9, 1816.
Printed every Tuesday morning by C. Colerick for S. Douglas & Co. in Diamond Alley, between Market and Wood Streets.
The Pittsburgh Mercury
"'The Pittsburgh Mercury,' is published every Saturday, at the new brick building, in Liberty-street, at the head of Wood-street, opposite the Octagon Church; where the subscribers, advertising customers, and other friends of the establishment, are respectfully invited to call." Mercury, Oct. 19, 1816.
"The kind of news material found in the columns of papers of those days is entirely different from the style of material found today. Local news is rarely ever given in the papers of an early day. As a rule the subscriber read but one paper and local news could be handed around by gossip from one neighbor to another, and what the subscriber demanded in his paper was foreign news that he could gain in no other way. The founding of new enterprises, marriages, or deaths of prominent citizens, etc. found no place in the pioneer newspaper. European news necessarily nearly two months old, long articles on the management of public affairs, controversies carried on from week to week between rival exponents on different theories, essays on morality and amateur poetry, fill up the columns of nearly all the early newspapers of Western Pennsylvania.... Their value to those who would learn of early local history is found chiefly in the advertisements and from these...one may gather some important information concerning Pittsburg's early days." Boucher's Century and a half of Pittsburg. Return to Table of Contents.
ChurchesFirst Presbyterian Church
"In  a bill was introduced into the Legislative Assembly, at Philadelphia, to incorporate a 'Presbyterian Congregation in Pittsburgh, at this time under the care of the Rev. Samuel Barr,' which, after much delay, was finally passed on the twenty-ninth of September, 1787. The Penns gave the site for this church....
In the Spring of 1811 Reverend Francis Herron became the pastor of the First Church, which the year before had had a membership of sixty-five. Dr. Herron's salary was six hundred dollars per annum. For thirty-nine years he labored ceaselessly and wisely for the church and congregation. In 1817 the church was enlarged, and the membership steadily increased." Killikelly's History of Pittsburgh.
Second Presbyterian Church
"The Second Presbyterian Church was originated...in 1804, by those members of the First Church to whom the methods used, regarding the services in the First Church, were unsatisfactory. The next year Dr. Nathaniel Snowden took charge of the congregation which worshiped...in the Court House and other places, public and private. Dr. John Boggs came, but remained only a short time. He was replaced by the Rev. Mr. Hunt, in 1809. The first edifice, on Diamond alley, near Smithfield street, was built in 1814." Killikelly's History of Pittsburgh.
East Liberty Presbyterian Church
"Mr. Jacob Negley, whose wife had been a Miss Winebiddle, and consequently, inherited much real estate, controlled practically what is now known as East Liberty Valley, in the early days, called Negleystown. He was largely instrumental...in erecting a small frame school building at what subsequently became the corner of Penn and South Highland avenues. This was for the accommodation of the children of the district, as well as his own. It was...a long distance to the then established churches, and Mr. Negley very often, for the benefit of the neighborhood, invited some minister passing through, or one from one of the other churches, to preach in his own house and later in the school house. In 1819 the little school house was torn down to make way for a church building." Killikelly's History of Pittsburgh.
Reformed Presbyterian Church
"The First Reformed Presbyterian Church of Pittsburg, long afterwards known as the 'Oak Alley Church,' was organized in 1799. Rev. John Black, an Irishman of considerable intellectual force, who had been graduated from the University of Glasgow, was its first pastor.... He included, in his ministry, all societies of the same persuasion in Western Pennsylvania. He preached here until his death on October 25, 1849." Boucher's Century and a half of Pittsburg.
Roman Catholic Church
"The number of Roman Catholics prior to 1800, in what is now Allegheny county, must have been very small. They were visited occasionally by missionaries traveling westward.... [These] priests, ministering to a few scattered families, celebrating Mass in private houses, fill up the long interval between the chapel of the 'Assumption of the Blessed Virgin of the Beautiful River' in Fort Duquesne, and 'Old St. Patrick's Church,' which was begun in 1808.
Rev. Wm. F. X. O'Brien, the first pastor, was ordained in Baltimore, 1808, and came to Pittsburg in November of the same year, and at once devoted himself to the erection of...'Old St. Patrick's.' It stood at the corner of Liberty and Washington streets, at the head of Eleventh street, in front of the new Union Station.... The structure was of brick, plain in design and modest in size, about fifty feet in length and thirty in width. Rt. Rev. Michael Egan dedicated the Church in August 1811, and the dedication was the occasion of the first visit of a Bishop to this part of the State." St. Paul's Cathedral record.
Protestant Episcopal Church
"The building of the first Trinity Church was begun about the time it was organized and chartered, 1805. It occupied a triangular lot at the corner of Sixth, Wood and Liberty streets. It was built in an oval form that it might more nearly conform to the shape of the three cornered lot and for this reason was generally known as the 'round church.' Rev. Taylor in his latter years became known as 'Father' Taylor. He remained with the church as its rector until 1817, when he resigned." Boucher's Century and a half of Pittsburg.
First German United Evangelical Protestant Church
"When John Penn, jr., and John Penn presented land to the Presbyterian and Episcopal churches of Pittsburgh they, at the same time, deeded the same amount to the already organized German Evangelical congregation; the land given to them was bounded by Smithfield street, Sixth avenue, Miltenberger and Strawberry alleys. No church was built on this grant, however, until some time between 1791-94, and it was of logs. This was...replaced in 1833 by a large brick building, which had the distinction of a cupola, in which the first church bell in Pittsburgh was hung." Killikelly's History of Pittsburgh.
Methodist Episcopal Church
"In June, 1810, a lot was purchased for the first [Methodist] church built in the city. It was situated on Front street, now First street, nearly opposite...the present Monongahela House. The erection of a church was commenced at once, for on August 26th of that year Bishop Asbury preached on the foundation of it. His journal says: 'Preached on the foundation of the new chapel to about five hundred souls. I spoke again at 5 o'clock to about twice as many. The society here is lively and increasing in numbers.' The building was a plain brick structure, 30 x 40 feet. We do not know certainly when it was completed, but probably in the autumn of 1810.
In this church the society continued to worship in peace and prosperity for eight years. But near the close of this period it had become too small, and a new and larger one became a necessity. Consequently, in May, 1817, three lots were purchased on the corner of Smithfield and Seventh streets, and the erection of a larger church commenced. It was completed the following year." Warner's History of Allegheny county.
"The first church of this denomination in Pittsburg was organized in April, 1812, when the city had about five thousand people. It was an independent organization and included about six families with perhaps not more than twelve people in all who had come from New England. The chief organizer and pastor was Rev. Edward Jones, also from New England. The society was too poor then to build a church, but worshiped in private houses and in rented halls." Boucher's Century and a half of Pittsburg. Return to Table of Contents.
Schools"Robert Steele, who afterward became a Presbyterian preacher, opened a school in Pittsburg in January, 1803, at his house on Second street... His rates were four dollars per quarter. In 1803, a teacher named Carr opened a school for both boys and girls. The next year he advertised that his school was moved to larger quarters over Dubac's store, where he probably taught till 1808, when he opened a boarding school for boys. In 1818 he removed his school to Third street where Mrs. Carr 'instructed young ladies in a separate room in the usual branches, and in all kinds of needle work.' William Jones began a school in 1804, and charged but two dollars per quarter for tuition. In February, 1808, Samuel Kingston opened a school in a stone house on Second street.... A teacher named Graham opened a school on Second street, using the room formerly occupied by Mr. Kingston, in which he proposed to give his pupils an English and classical education on moderate terms. The advertisement stated that Mrs. Graham would at the same time open a school for 'young ladies' in an adjoining room, and that she would instruct them in all branches of an English education and in needle work. In 1811 Thomas Hunt opened a school 'for the instruction of females exclusively.' The hours he advertised were from 8 to 12 a.m., and from 2 to 5 p.m..... In the same year this advertisement appears: 'Messrs. Chute and Noyes' evening school commences the first of October next. They also propose on Sabbath morning, the 22 instant, to open a Sunday morning school to commence at the hour of eight a.m., and continue until ten. They propose to divide the males and females into separate departments. The design of the school is to instruct those who wish to attend, the Catechism and hear them read the Holy Scriptures. No pecuniary compensation is desired, a consciousness of doing good will be an ample reward.' In 1812 John Brevost opened a French school, and with his wife and daughter opened a boarding school in connection with it in 1814. Their terms were, 'for reading, writing, arithmetic, English grammar, history and geography, with the use of maps, globes, etc., $8.00 quarterly. Playing on the piano, $10.00 quarterly; vocal music, $5.00 quarterly. Drawing and painting of flowers, $6.00 quarterly. French language, $5.00 quarterly. Boarding $37.00, payable in advance. Dancing, books, materials, drawing, sewing, bed and bedding to be paid for separately or furnished by parents.' Mrs. Gazzam had opened a seminary for young ladies by this time, and advertised its removal to Fifth street. Her pupils were instructed in the elementary studies of an English education, and in needle work at four dollars per quarter. She taught them to cut, make and repair their clothes. The pupils were permitted to visit their homes once each week, but no young men were allowed to visit them unless attended by a servant. She boarded them for $125 per year. The two sisters, Miss Anna and Arabella Watts, instructed young ladies solely in needle work. In almost all schools needle work was a requisite part of the education of young women. In fact it was considered the all important part of a woman's training and not infrequently other branches were taught if required, or if thought necessary." Boucher's Century and a half of Pittsburg.
"The subscriber, respectfully informs his fellow citizens, and others, that he has happily secured the co-operation of Mr. Edward Jones--hopes their most sanguine expectations, relative to his seminary, will be fully justified.
All the most important branches of education, taught as in the best academies, on either side of the Atlantick.--Mathematics in general, as in the city of Edinburgh.--During four years, the subscriber taught the only Mathematical school in the capital of New-Hampshire.
A class of young gentlemen will shortly commence the study of Navigation, Gunnery, Bookkeeping, Geography and English grammar. George Forrester." Mercury, May 18, 1816.
The Lancaster School
"Will continue at the room where it is now kept in Market street. In addition to the common branches of reading, orthography, etc., the teacher gives lessons in English grammar, geography and Book-keeping. Penmanship is taught on a most approved system at all hours.
To those who are acquainted with this mode of instructing children, its superior excellence need not be pointed out, and such as have never seen a school on this plan in actual operation, and are not intimately conversant with its theory, are invited (if they have the curiosity) to visit the institution in Market street; where, although the number of pupils is small, yet the school will afford a sufficient illustration of the Lancaster system to convince the most incredulous that 500 or even 1000 pupils by the aid of this wonderful invention, may be taught with prodigious facility by a single teacher." Commonwealth, April 3, 1816.
University of Pittsburgh
"The first charter to an institution of learning west of the mountains granted by the legislature of Pennsylvania, February 28, 1787, created the Pittsburg Academy. The school was in existence earlier than this....
The principals of the academy from the very beginning were men of high attainments, some of them attaining great distinction. George Welch, the first principal, took office April 13, 1789. Rev. Robert Steele, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Rev. John Taylor, Mr. Hopkins and James Mountain successively were at the head of the academy. From 1807 to 1810, Rev. Robert Patterson, of excellent fame, successfully carried on the work. He was succeeded in the latter year by Rev. Joseph Stockton, author of the 'Western Calculator' and 'Western Spelling Book,' who continued in office until the re-incorporation of the academy as the Western University of Pennsylvania, in 1819." Boucher's Century and a half of Pittsburg. Return to Table of Contents.
Libraries"It was not...until the fall of 1813, that the question of a community Library took definite shape, when in response to the efforts 'of many leading and progressive citizens,' there was organized 'The Pittsburgh Library Company.' On the evening of November 27, 1813, about 40 representative people assembled in the spacious 'bar room' of the 'Green Tree Inn,' at the northwest corner of Fifth and Wood streets, where the First National Bank now stands, and took the initiative in the formation of Pittsburgh's first real public library.... Its first president was the Rev. Francis Herron, for 40 years pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. The secretary was Aquila M. Bolton, 'land broker and conveyancer.' The treasurer was Col. John Spear.... Quite a sum of money was subscribed by citizens generally for the purchase of books, while many valuable volumes were either contributed or loaned by members. Messrs. Baldwin, O'Hara, Wilkins and Forward being especially mentioned for their generosity in this connection. The first headquarters of the library were in rooms 'on Second street, opposite Squire Robert Graham's office,' who at that time dispensed even handed justice at the northeast corner of Market and Second streets. Here the library remained until the county commissioners set aside a commodious room in the Court House for its use." A. L. Hardy, in Gazette-Times, 1913.
"The triennial meeting of the shareholders [of the Pittsburgh Library Company] was convened at their new library room, in Second street, opposite Squire Graham's office, at six o'clock, Monday evening, December thirtieth, 1816. The following gentlemen were then elected by ballot to serve as a Board of Directors for the ensuing three years, viz: George Poe, president; Aquila M. Bolton, secretary; Lewis Bollman, treasurer; James Lea, Benjamin Bakewell, Robert Patterson, Walter Forward, Alexander Johnson, jr., William Eichbaum, jr., Benjamin Page, Alexander McClurg, J. P. Skelton, Ephraim Pentland, Charles Avery, J. R. Lambdin, directors." Killikelly's History of Pittsburgh.
"It has been published, that the Library of this city contains two thousand volumes. Through the politeness of J. Armstrong, the librarian, I gained admittance, and having examined the catalogue, am enabled to state that the whole collection is only about five hundred volumes. The books, however, are well chosen, and of the best editions. How the error originated is of no consequence except to him who made it." Thomas's Travels through the western country in 1816. Return to Table of Contents.
The New Books of 1816
Return to Table of Contents.
- Childe Harold (Canto III).
- The dream.
- Hebrew melodies.
- Prisoner of Chillon.
- Siege of Corinth.
- Dictionary of English synonyms.
- Character of James I.
- Italianische reise.
- A story of Rimini.
- Elegy on Sheridan.
- Irish melodies.
- Headlong Hall.
- Black dwarf.
- Guy Mannering.
- Lord of the Isles.
- Old Mortality.
- Carmen triumphale.
- White doe of Rylstone.
Return to Local History.