John Mosgrove, father of the subject of this sketch, was a native of
Ireland, and one of the first settlers of Kittanning, coming to the locality
as a young man about the time the town was laid out. He was a carpenter by
trade, and followed that occupation during the greater part of his residence
in Kittanning, which only terminated with his death. His wife, Mary Gillespie,
was the daughter of John Gillespie, one of the pioneers of Armstrong county.
They were the parents of five children. Andrew W. Mosgrove, the only brother
of our subject, was by profession an attorney. He entered the service of the
United States as a volunteer solider and met his death in the Mexican war. Of
the three sisters, Margaret, the eldest, is the wife of Thomas B. Storey;
Phebe Isabella is the widow of the late Judge Jackson Boggs, and Anna Jane is
the wife of Simon Truby.
James Mosgrove was born in Kittanning, June 14, 1822. At a very early age
he engaged in the iron business, accepting the position of clerk at the
Buffalo Furnace in this county. Combining a well regulated and fine business
capacity with the qualities of integrity and perseverance, he at once
commanded the respect and confidence of his employers, and the management of
the furnace was soon placed in his hands.
In 1845 he married Miss Rebecca Jane, daughter of Robert Brown. About the
same time he entered into a partnership with his brother-in-law, the late
James E. Brown, of Kittanning, and became part owner and active manager of
Pine Creek Furnace, which position he held from 1845 to 1880, passing through
all the different phases and vicissitudes of the iron business during that
long period of thirty-five years. He has also been engaged quite extensively
in oil production. Mr. Mosgrove's superior ability as a practical, strong and
enterprising business man is universally admitted.
Few men can be found in Armstrong county, or for that matter in Western
Pennsylvania, who equal him in the possession of the combination of
characteristics which command success.
He is now largely interested in the business affairs of the county, being
president of the Kittanning Ironworks and president of the National Bank of
Kittanning. He was the principal organizer of this financial institution, and
from the death of James E. Brown until July, 1882, when its charter expired,
was president of the old First National Bank.
In politics Mr. Mosgrove has always been a democrat. He accepted the
nomination of the greenback party for congress in 1878, when it was tendered
to him, not because he had abandoned any of his democratic principles, but
because he had for years advocated the financial doctrines of the greenback
party. In that campaign he ran far ahead of his ticket, but was defeated on
account of the failure of the democrats to indorse his nomination, which he
had a right to expect they would do. He never sought a political office in his
life, and he furnishes a notable example of the office seeking the man instead
of the man seeking the office.
In 1880 he was nominated for congress by both the democratic and greenback
parties without any solicitation on his part, and was elected by a majority of
756 votes over his competitor, and that, too, in a republican district. He
served his constituency intelligently and efficiently -- creditably to himself
and acceptably to the people of the twenty-fifth congressional district of
In 1882 he was renominated but declined to serve as a candidate.