Origin of the Name -- White Prisoners Among the Indians -- Savage
Torture -- Early Mention of the Town Site -- Robert Brown, the Watsons, James
Claypoole, Patrick Daugherty, Andrew Hunter, and Other Pioneer Settlers -- The
Town Platted -- Sale of Lots -- A Glimpse of the Village in 1804 -- The First
Merchants, Lawyers, Physicians and Inn-Keepers -- Some Reminiscences of the
War of 1812 -- A Groundless Alarm -- The Postoffice -- The Village in 1820 --
Corporate History -- Security Against Fires -- The Streets -- Public
Improvements -- Wharfing the River Bank -- Crossing the Allegheny -- Ferries
and Bridges -- First Steamboat Arrivals -- River Improvement Convention --
Some Old-Time Fourth of July Celebrations -- Other and Later Notable Events --
Tornadoes, Floods, Ice Gorges and Fires -- The Churches of Kittanning --
Public Schools -- Academy -- University -- College -- Public Library --
Literary and Dramatic Societies -- Lecture Courses -- Temperance Societies --
Secret and Benevolent Organizations -- Independent Military Company -- Bands
-- Boat Clubs -- Manufacturing, Early and Late -- Banking -- Insurance -- Gas
and Water Works -- Mercantile Matters -- The Professions -- Public Buildings
-- Cemeteries -- The Town in 1876 -- Statistics -- Geology of the Locality --
Kittanning is a word of Indian origin, and is
significant. The writer's authority for the meaning of this and most of the
other hereinafter mentioned Indian names in Armstrong county is Rev. John
Heckewelder.*(1) He says: "Kittanning is corrupted from Kit-han-ne, in
Munsi Delaware Gicht-han-ne, signifying the main stream, i.e. in its region of
country. Kit-han-ne is perpetuated in Kittanning, corrupted from Kit-han-nink,
signifying at or on the main stream, i.e. the town at or on the main stream.
He also says: We indeed have the word "Kittanning" on our maps for a
particular spot on the Allegheny river, whereas the true meaning of the word,
which should be written Kit-han-nink, denotes the river itself. He gives its
etymology thus: Kitschi, superior, greatest, and han-ne, which denotes flowing
water, or a stream of flowing water. The late Rev. W. C. Reichel, who was very
familiar with the Indian languages, in one of his papers says: "Among
themselves the Indians always called the river Kit-han-ne. * * * Only when
conversing with traders or white travelers to whom the word was familiar, in
naming the river in question, would the Indians call it the Ohio."
Thus the common idea that Kittanning means
cornfield is exploded. The etymology of the word does not indicate that such
is its meaning. According to the glossary of words used by the Delaware and
Shawanee Indians, made by Major Denny at Fort McIntosh, January, 1785, the
meanings of the words in which were chiefly obtained by him from the
"Grenadier Squaw," the Indian word tommey also means corn. It is
manifest that the word Kittanning has not originated from either of these
"The Kittanning" was, as already
intimated, an important point, having been the base of operations by the
French and Indians against the frontier settlements. In Washington's letter to
Gov. Hamilton, written in the latter part of April, 1754, he said: "It is
with the greatest concern I acquaint you that Mr. Ward, Ensign in Capt.
Trent's company, was compelled to surrender his small fort in the forks of
Mohongialo to the French on the 17th inst., who fell down from Weningo" -
as Venango was formerly called - "with a fleet of three hundred and sixty
battoes and canoes, with upward of one thousand men and eighteen pieces of
artillery, which they planted against the fort," etc. It may not be a
violent presumption that, if the diary or journal of the commander or someone
else of that French fort could be had, it would show the landing of that
fleet, in its descent down the Allegheny, at Kittanning, or at least the
salutations with which it was greeted by the then dusky inhabitants of this
ancient town, which was the Delaware's chief town from 1727 and 1729 until
1756, and which had been frequented by white traders from the East until 1749,
when the French expedition, under the command of Louis Celeron, descended that
WHITE PRISONERS AMONG THE INDIANS
This, too, was one of the prominent places
where English prisoners were confined. One of the first, if not the very
first, of them brought here was James Smith, mentioned by James Burd,
commissioner of the roads, in his letter to Gov. Morris, dated "From the
Allegheny mountains, 5th July, 1755," where the force then employed in
opening the road from Fort Loudon to the three forks of the Youghiogheny,
where it intersected Braddock's road, had then arrived. Smith was captured and
a companion killed in this vicinity by the Indians. The former was taken to
Fort Du Quesne, where he figures in Charles McKnight's historical novel,
"Old Fort Du Quesne, or Captain Jack the Scout," as the companion of
Lord Talbot, who is also represented as confined there, having been captured
in Braddock's defeat. Smith, on his arrival at the fort, was compelled to run
the gauntlet. Shortly afterward, as he relates in his narrative, he was taken
by some Delaware Indians, who had determined to spare his life, in a canoe up
the Allegheny to an Indian town about forty miles distant, on the north side
of the river, which must have been the Indian town, or villages, as they were
called, of Kittanning, where he remained several weeks.
At a council held at Philadelphia, Tuesday,
September 6, 1756, the statement of John Coxe, a son of the widow Coxe, was
made, the substance of which is: He, his brother Richard and John Craig were
taken in the beginning of February of that year by nine Delaware Indians from
a plantation two miles from McDowell's mill, which was between the east and
west branches of the Conococheague creek, about twenty miles west of the
present site of Shippensburgh, in what is now Franklin county, and brought to
Kittanning "on the Ohio." On his way hither he met Shingas with a
party of thirty men, and afterward with Capt. Jacobs and fifteen men, whose
design was to destroy the settlements in Conogchege. When he arrived at
Kittanning he saw here about one hundred fighting men of the Delaware tribe,
with their families, and about fifty English prisoners, consisting of men,
women and children. During his stay here Shingas' and Jacobs' parties
returned, the one with nine scalps and ten prisoners, the other with several
scalps and five prisoners. Another company of eighteen came from Diahogo with
seventeen scalps on a pole, which they took to Fort Du Quesne to obtain their
reward. The warriors held a council, which, with their war dances, continued a
week, when Capt. Jacobs left with forty-eight men, intending, as Coxe was
told, to fall upon the inhabitants of Paxton. He heard the Indians frequently
say that they intended to kill all the white folks, except a few, with whom
they would afterward make peace. They made an example of Paul Broadley, whom,
with their usual cruelty, they beat for half an hour with clubs and tomahawks,
and then, having fastened him to a post, cropped his ears close to his head
and chopped off his fingers, calling all the prisoners to witness the horrible
Among other English prisoners brought to
Kittanning were George Woods, father-in-law of the eminent lawyer; James Ross
(deceased), and the wife and daughter of John Grey, who were captured at
Bigham's Fort, in the Tuscarora Valley, in 1756. Mr. Grey came out here with
Armstrong's expedition, hoping to hear from his family. These three prisoners
were sent from Kittanning to Fort Du Quesne, and subsequently to Canada.
Fort Granville, which was situated on the
Juniata,, one mile above Lewistown, was besieged by the Indians July 30, 1756.
The force then in it consisted of twenty-four men under the command of Lieut.
Armstrong, who was killed during the siege. The Indians having offered quarter
to those in the fort, a man by the name of John Turner immediately opened the
gate to them. He and the others, including three women and several children,
were taken prisoners. By order of the French commander the fort was burned by
Capt. Jacobs. When the Indians and prisoners reached Kittanning, Turner was
tied to a black post, the Indians danced around him, made a great fire, and
his body was run through with red-hot gun-barrels. Having tormented him for
three hours, the Indians scalped him alive, and finally held up a boy, who
gave him the finishing stroke with a hatchet.*(2)
Such were a few of the terrible enactments of
which Kittanning was the scene in the eighteenth century.
The writer has not learned the exact
locality of that "black post," or whether it was in the upper,
central or lower one of the three villages, as the separate clusters of the
forty houses were called, and which were located on the beach now between
McKean street and Grant avenue -- two of the villages having been above and
one below Market street. Between these villages and the river was an extensive
cornfield. William M. Darlington, in a communication to the writer, says:
"Respecting the Indian villages of Kittanning, I have some where seen the
narrative of a white prisoner, who mentions the villages as the upper, middle
and lower. They were not far apart, and all on the river bottom where
Kittaning now stands."
Tradition says that "black post"
was at the mouth of Truby's run, which was formerly several rods lower down
than it is now.
Thomas Girty, mentioned in the list of
prisoners rescued by Col. Armstrong, was a brother of Simon, George and James
Girty. He is said to have been the only one of them who returned to civilized
life after they were captured by the Indians. He became one of Capt. Sam
Brady's spies in the Indian wars after the Revolution.
Kittanning was a notable point in the
boundary line, established between the Northern Colonies and the Indians, at
the treaty held by Sir William Johnson at Fort Stanwix (near what is now Rome,
New York), November 5, 1768, known as the purchase line of that year.*(3)
The line between those two purchases divides
the borough into nearly equal portions. Its bearing from, at or near the mouth
of Truby's run to the nearest fork of the west branch of the Susquehanna river
is south 79 degrees east.
Major Ebenezer Denny, in that part of his
military journal relating to the return of Gen. Harmar, himself and others
from Fort Franklin - Venango county - whither they had gone to inspect the
fortification there, for erecting which Capt. Heart had been ordered, April
10, 1787, to proceed from Fort Harmar, at the mouth of the Muskingum, says of
the lower Allegheny: "Some very beautiful situations and tracts, indeed;
old Kittanning a delightful one." They made their down trip from Fort
Franklin to the fort on the Monongahela - from Franklin to Pittsburgh - in
fifteen hours, the "Allegheny river flowing brimful" - May 4, 1788.
Robert Brown first came with some hunters to
Kittanning in 1798, and settled here soon after. About that time William -
father of ex-Sheriff Watson - John, James and Robert Watson made a tour of
observation along Cowanshannock and Crooked creeks, and the Allegheny river.
They then saw vestiges of the Indian cornhills on the site of the present
borough of Kittanning. They desired to buy either a part or the whole of the
tract embraced in the Armstrong purchase. They wrote to the then owners in
relation thereto, but, the organization of this county having then begun to be
agitated, they could not purchase any portion of it.
In the spring of 1791, James Claypoole, as
related to the writer by one of his grandsons, with his wife and six children,
settled near the mouth of Truby's Run. He built a log cabin at what is now the
northwest corner of Arch and Water streets, on lot No. 75, now owned by Miss
Kittie S. Craig*(4), and resided there until he noticed, one day the next
spring, that his horses ran past as horses do when they are very much
frightened. He inquired of a peaceable, friendly Indian whose cabin was in the
rear of his own, what that frightening of the horses meant? The Indian mounted
a high stump, and looked around in every direction, and then asked: "Can
you go home?" Claypoole, fearing that danger from the approach of Indians
was imminent, hurriedly prepared a raft from the dead timber standing in the
bottom, on which he and all of his family, except two of the boys, descended
the river to Pittsburgh, where they resided a short time, and removed thence
to his former residence on the Monongahela, nearly opposite Turtle Creek. His
sons, John and Jehu, drove his two horses and two or three cows by land down
the east side of the river to Pittsburgh.
The next earliest settlers appear to have
been Patrick Dougherty, who lived a short distance below, and Andrew Hunter,
who lived a short distance above, the present borough limits. The site of the
latter's house was washed away years ago by the freshets and occasional
THE TOWN PLATTED -- SALE OF LOTS
The town of Kittanning having been laid out
in 1803, its lots were surveyed and a draft of them made by the late Judge
Ross, who was then deputy surveyor general for this county, and were soon
after offered for sale at public outcry, at the house of James Sloan, on the
west side of the Allegheny river, nearly a mile below the present bridge
across that river, which was then the only tavern in this region. The first
stake in the first lot laid out was driven, the writer is informed, by the
above-mentioned Robert Brown. The highest and best prices bidden for these
lots varied considerably, according to their locations in different parts of
the town. For instance, in-lot No. 14, being the fourth lot below High, on the
west side of Jefferson street, brought $10.50; No. 1, corner of High and Water
streets, the present site of St. Mary's church, $28; No. 45, the third above
Arch, east side of Jefferson street, $18; No. 125, corner of Market and Water
streets, Eagle House, $280; No. 121, corner of Market and Jefferson streets,
Reynolds House, $294; No. 123, northeast corner of Market and McKean streets,
on which and the adjacent lots was the body of the old Indian town destroyed
by Gen. Armstrong and his force, $100; No. 152, third above Jacob, on the west
side of Jefferson street, $72; No. 163, northwest corner of Jacob and Water
streets, $106; No. 207, second above Mulberry, east side of Jefferson street,
$15; No. 211, northwest corner of Water and Mulberry streets, $80; No. 248,
northeast corner of Walnut and McKean streets, $71.12 1/2; No. 119, second
above Market, west side of McKean street, $9.25; No. 84, corner Arch and
McKean, $34. Out-lots, No. 5, $37; Nos. 13 and 15, each $34; No. 19, $27; No.
25, $31. The out-lots varied in extent, the largest being 2 acres, 17 2/10
perches, and the smallest, 1 acre, 13 6/10 perches.
A GLIMPSE OF THE VILLAGE THROUGH THE ASSESSMENT LIST OF 1804
From a part -- the other part has been
detached and lost -- of the assessment list of persons and occupations, the
first after the town was laid out, of such as were then taxable and residing
in the town, which was then in Allegheny and Toby townships, dated December
21, 1804, Joseph Clark, assessor, and James Gaff and Isaac Townsend, assistant
assessors, for Allegheny township -- from the preserved part of that list, it
appears thus: James Guthrie, joiner, trade valued at $10, horse 1, cattle 1 --
total valuation, $25. William Hannegan, tailor, $10, lot No. 125, present site
of St. Paul's Church, $16, cattle 2 -- total, $36. James Hannegan*(5), hatter,
$10. James Henry, lot No. 232, $5, horses 4, cattle 1 -- total, $50. Daniel
Lemmon, single man, whose son Thomas is the oldest man now living who was born
here. Joseph Miller, storekeeper, $40, horse 1, cattle 1, -- total, $55;
Bernard Mahan, shoemaker, $5. Alexr. Moor, lot No. 25, $10, horse 1, cattle 1
-- total, $25. James McElhenny, wheelwright, $16, lot No. 90, $18 -- total,
$28. Samuel Miller, shoemaker, $5. James McClurg, storekeeper, $40, lot No.
45, $10 -- total, $50. Samuel Massey, attorney at law, $25. Michael Mechling,
lot No. 120, $22, horse 1, cattle 3 -- total, between $40 and $50 -- the last
figure in the total torn off. James Pinks, joiner, $10. Abraham Parkinson,
mason, $10. David Reynolds, storekeeper, $40, lot No. 221, $22, horse 1,
cattle 2 -- total, $77. William Reynolds, single man, tanner, $10. Col. James
Sloan, single man. John Shaeffer, joiner, $10, lot No. 173, $22 -- total, $32.
Dewalt Shaeffer, rough carpenter, $5. Erastus Sands, joiner, $10, lot No. 220,
$6 -- total, $16. John Thomas (mulatto), shoemaker, $5. That list contained
the names of taxables living on both sides of the Purchase line. It appears
from other sources, that David Crawford was the first blacksmith, having
settled in Kittanning in 1805. His son David is the first white male born and
raised here, who is still living. James Monteith, Samuel Houston, and Robert
Robinson were the next earliest merchants, who commenced business about
1806-8, and were, in common with nearly all the Kittanning merchants until the
present time, safe, solvent and successful business men.
As indicated by the foregoing partial list,
there were in Kittanning, in 1804, at least one lawyer, three merchants, four
joiners, one rough carpenter; one tailor, one hatter, one tanner, three
shoemakers, one wheelwright, and one mason. There were also four single men,
but whether the single ladies, if there were any, allowed these gentlemen to
remain single, all that leap year, the records show not.
Other early settlers than those
above-mentioned, to each of whom one or more lots were assessed, were John
Brandon, George Brown, Alex. Blair, Robert Beatty, John Coon, Robert Cooper,
James Gibson, Daniel Long, Jinney Mosgrove, Paul Morrow, Joseph McClurg, James
Monteith, John Orr and Henry Worts.
The first hotel-keepers were Michael
Mechling and David Reynolds. The former kept on the north side of Market
street, adjoining the present store and residence of his son Philip, and the
latter on the same side of Market, near the corner of Jefferson street.
The early resident lawyers, after Mr.
Massey, were Samuel S. Harrison, Guy Hiccox, Ebenezer Smith Kelly, Joseph B.
Beckett, Thomas Blair, John Henderson; later, prior to 1840, Robert Findly,
William F. Johnston, Joseph Buffington, James Thompson, J. H. Hepburn, John
Francis, William M. Watson, H. N. Weigley, Robert E. Brown, most, if not all,
of whom are dead.; Thomas Struthers, Darwin Phelps, George W. Smith and
Horatio N. Lee, still living. The present number is twenty.*(6)
The first resident physician was George
Hays, who settled here in 1810 or 1811. His successors, prior to 1825, were
Samuel S. Neale, Josiah E. Stevenson, Samuel McMasters, Abner Bainbridge,
Malthus A. Ward and Samuel Byers. The present (1876) number is eight*(7), one
of whom is a homaeopathist (sic). The first call to the physicians of this
county to meet at Kittanning, for the purpose of organizing a medical society
to regulate the practice of medicine and for other purposes, was issued
November 16, 1825, by Drs. Neale and Stevenson.
SOME REMINISCENCES OF THE WAR OF 1812.
John Reed, of East Franklin, one of the oldest citizens in this county, and
who has a very retentive memory, informed the writer that there were but very
few buildings here in 1807, and they were all log ones, and that he saw the
military company, recruited by Capt. James Alexander, parade here on the
Fourth of July, 1812. Its headquarters were in a log building, on lot No. 122,
north side of Market street, below the alley.
One of the modes of enlisting men for the
regular army, a year or so later, as the writer is informed, was by placing
and rattling silver coins on a drumhead, which were free to all who were
capable of being mustered into the service, and whoever took one of them off
was held to be enlisted. A considerable number were recruited. Capt., or
Lieut., Brooks was the recruiting officer. The recruiting station and barracks
were on lot No. 75, corner of Arch and Water streets.
That volunteer company, after being fully
recruited, was moved, with other companies, from east of the Allegheny
mountains, which encamped here temporarily on the river bank, between Arch and
Market streets, and on the vacant portion of the old court-house square, to
Meadville, Pennsylvania, in September, 1812, where it was assigned to the 1st
Inf. regt. of that Pennsylvania detachment, commanded by Col. Jeremiah Snyder.
It and the 2d regt. Inf., commanded by Co. John Purviance, of Butler,
Pennsylvania, the 1st regt. of Riflemen, Col. Jared Irwin, and the 2d regt. of
Riflemen, Col. William Piper, were brigaded at Meadville, and Adamson
Tannehill, of Pittsburgh, was elected brigadier-general.
Those volunteer troops were detained at
Meadville until the latter part of October -- Col. Purviance's regiment until
about the 1st of November -- on account of their arms being defective. When
properly inspected one half of them were found to be totally unfit for
service. So that instead of marching immediately to the place of destination,
as Gen. Tannehill expected, he was under the mortifying necessity of sending
teams to Pittsburgh for a supply to make up the deficiency. Between two and
three weeks were thus lost. It is said that the deficiency of proper arms was
caused by the shameful impositions of brigade inspectors on the
adjutant-general. Furthermore, the amount of funds was sufficient to pay off
only three regiments, so that seven or eight days were lost in a trip to
Pittsburgh to procure enough to pay off the fourth one.
A considerable number of that detachment of
Pennsylvania volunteers, while at Meadville, expressed their determination not
to cross the line, that is, not to go over into Canada. Some of those
volunteers must have either lost their courage or become weary of military
service before their brigade moved from that rendezvous, for the Sunbury Times
of October 9 said that it was related of a volunteer of a neighboring county
that he had deserted and returned home, and that "his wife refused
speaking to him or having anything to do with him unless he would
return." So he shouldered his knapsack and retraced his steps to
Meadville. The same paper lamented the arrival at Sunbury of five deserters
from Capt. Jared Irwin's rifle company, which had been recruited in that part
of Northumberland county. They were promptly arrested and confined in jail,
and in case they did not give approved security for their return to their
corps, were sent thither under guard by order of the adjutant-general. The
writer has not met with a statement or intimation that any of Captain
Alexander's company deserted while the detachment to which it belonged
remained at Meadville.
It has come to the knowledge of the writer
that Walter Stone was the first lieutenant, Jacob Hughes ensign and Joseph
Shields first sergeant of that company. Thirteen members of it, James White
remembers, volunteered to cross over from Buffalo or Black Rock to Canada and
afterward won a solid and brilliant fame in the sortie of Fort Erie and were
said (in the report of the General commanding) to have "stood undismayed
amidst the hottest fire and repulsed the veterans opposed to them."
AN ALARM OF 1812
In July or August, 1812, a lively sensation
was caused by a report brought here by a Mr. Snyder, who was then employed to
distribute the pamphlet laws throughout this and the northwestern part of the
state (which he then conveyed to the various counties in a wagon), that a
large force of British troops and Indians were moving toward this place,
whereupon a public meeting was called. Thomas Hamilton was appointed its
chairman, who addressed the excited assemblage from a stump in Market, a short
distance below Jefferson street. Grave fears were entertained that this town
was in danger of being taken by the enemy. That meeting resolved, after an
interchange of opinions, to employ Daniel Lemmon to proceed to Meadville and
elsewhere in that direction for the purpose of ascertaining the whereabouts
and proximity of the supposed invaders. He soon started on his mission, from
which he returned in a few days with the welcome intelligence that a false
alarm had been raised by the rumor which Snyder had heard in his travels, and
which probably sprung from the general alarm that Gov. Snyder alluded to in
his message of December 3, 1812, to the legislature, as having prevailed in
the town and vicinity of Erie, caused by the appearance of a British Indian
force on the opposite side of the lake, in consequence of which he had
ordered, July 15, a portion of the sixteenth division of the Pennsylvania
militia to be organized under Gen. Kelso for the protection of the frontier,
which, he said, he was happy to add, "prevented the British or their
savage allies from polluting our soil with hostile feet."
As several of the earliest record books were
destroyed by the fire which consumed the postoffice department building in
Washington, D. C., on the night of December 15, 1836, the exact date of the
establishment of the postoffice here is not known. But it is ascertained from
the ledger books of the auditor's office, which were mostly saved, that it was
in the winter of 1807, as Joseph Miller, the first postmaster, was appointed
in that year and began to render his quarterly accounts on April 1, then
instant. He was a merchant, to whom lot No. 75, corner of Arch and Water
streets, was assessed for several years. His store is said to have been there,
and there, too the writer concludes, he kept the postoffice. Philip Mechling,
who was then a lad, thinks it was kept by Miller on lot No. 120. The next
postmaster must have been David Lawson, as he published the list of letters
remaining in the Kittanning postoffice in September, 1810.
Among the later but early postal facilities
was a weekly mail, carried on horseback, from Greensburg, Pennsylvania, via
Freeport. Still later, in 1818, a weekly mail was carried in the same way,
from Indiana, Pennsylvania, via Woodward's mill, to Kittanning, thence to
Butler, Pennsylvania, and thence back via Freeport, by a youth bearing the
familiar name of Josiah Copley. As he was the only person who gladdened the
people of this region with the mail during that and the next two years, it may
readily be supposed that he was a very important personage, whose weekly
arrival, heralded by the blowing of his horn as he came over the hill below
town, at the postoffice, then kept by Robert Robinson, down on Water street,
where P. K. Bowman now lives, was hailed with delight by the expectant
multitude gathered there to receive their letters and papers.
The old "Kittanning Inn," kept by
David Reynolds, was then the principal hotel. There that youthful mail carrier
tarried over night on his return trips from Butler and witnessed in its large
front room, which was then the chief social hall of the town, many a lively
scene in which the jovial seniors of the place participated, when each played
off his peculiar humor on the rest. Their fun, if sometimes not what the
fastidious would enjoy, was always good-natured.
THE TOWN IN 1820
An old citizen*(8) who settled here in 1820,
and who distinctly remembers the condition of every part of the town as he
then first saw it, has kindly furnished the writer with the following facts:
There was then on Water street nineteen
dwellings and business houses, two of which were brick. Jacob Truby"s
gunsmith shop was on lot No. 17, where William Brown now lives; Henry Rouses's
cooper shop on lot No. 25; William Reynolds' leather store on lot No. 93, now
occupied by the widow of George Reynolds, deceased; Samuel McKee's saddler's
shop on lot No. 151, now occupied by Mrs. Matilda Robinson; Joseph Erwin's
inn, in the stone house built by David Lawson, in 1808-9, on the southwest
corner of Jacob and Water streets, now owned by Miss Amanda Colwell and
occupied by F. E. Willis; Robert Robinson's store and the postoffice were on
lot No. 193, southwest corner of Water street and a public alley, now owned
and occupied by P. K. Bowman, and an inn, kept by Walter Sloan, on lot No.
221, now owned and occupied by Darwin Phelps.
There were not any buildings on Jefferson
street above the public alley between lots Nos. 53 and 59 -- between David
Patterson's and St. John's (Lutheran) Church. Thence down to the lower end of
the town there were twenty-three dwellings and business houses, two of which,
including the court-house, were brick. John Gillespy's shoe shop was on lot
No. 83, southeast corner of Arch and Jefferson streets, now owned and occupied
by James Mosgrove; the Columbian printing-office, on the old court-house
square, on the lower part of lot No. 6 of the plot of that square made just
before the sale thereof by the county commissioners; Wm. Small's tailor shop
and Hugh Rodger's hat shop, on lot No. 165, northwest corner of Jacob and
Jefferson streets, now owned and occupied by John Croll; James Richart's chair
and wheelwright shop, on lot No. 183, next below the present site of the First
Presbyterian church; and David Crawford's blacksmith shop on lot No. 194,
southwest corner of Jefferson street and a public alley, now owned by G. F.
Fischcorn and W. Hirscher.
There were seven dwelling and business
houses, including the jail, on McKean street. Robert Speer's nail factory was
on lot No. 143, southwest corner of McKean street and a public alley, and
Isaac Scott's pottery on lot No. 190, southwest corner of McKean street and a
There was not then any dwelling or business
house on Back street, now Grant avenue. The first house thereon was erected by
James McCullough, Sr., the one in which he now resides, in 1851. None others
were built for several years afterward.
At that time there was not a dwelling or
business house on either High, Vine, Arch or Mulberry streets.
There were eight dwelling and business
houses on Market street, including the Eagle House block, southwest corner of
Market and Water streets, erected by James Monteith, deceased, and which was
then nearly completed. Michael Mechling's inn was on lot No. 120, just above
the northwest corner of Market and Water streets; Samuel Houston's store on
the same lot, near the public alley; David Reynolds' inn, on lot 121; Hamilton
& McConnell's store on same lot, northwest corner Market and Jefferson
streets; Joseph Shields' hatter shop on lot No. 122, northeast corner of
Market and Jefferson streets; James Monteith's store in Eagle House block,
southwest corner of Market and Water streets; William Hannegan's tailor shop
on lot No. 126, where the insurance office now is; and Henry Jack's store, on
same lot, southwest corner of Market and Jefferson streets, and his saddlery
establishment a little farther down on Market street. There were on Jacob and
Walnut streets respectively one tannery and one dwelling house.
In 1830 the number of dwellings was 90;
THE TOWN INCORPORATED
By act of assembly, April 2, 1821, the town,
then a part of Kittanning township, was incorporated as a borough, comprised
with the limits heretofore given.*(9) The original boundaries were
subsequently extended. By acts of May 4, 1844, and April 2, 1850, one and
three-fourths acres and thirty perches of land in the lower part of the
borough, owned by Philip Hutchinson and John Turner; by act of March 20, 1849,
the rolling mill plot, which had until 1846 been a meadow, and some winters a
skating pond; and, by act of March 31, 1860, two acres and thirty perches
owned by John Scott and John Baker, were annexed to the borough. Some property
a short distance above the northern limit, belonging to the Late Robert Brown
and others, was also annexed thereto by act of April 16, 1845, but was
afterward detached and put back into the township. The act of April 2, 1821,
contained the usual provisions in charters granted at that period to small
towns. The population of Kittanning was then about 325. The burgess and town
council had rather limited powers; yet adequate, perhaps, for so small and
well-disposed a population .
About the year 1854, the borough subscribed
for a considerable amount of Allegheny Valley railroad and Kittanning bridge
stocks. In 1857, the court of quarter sessions of Armstrong county on the
petition of the requisite number of the inhabitants of this borough, made
several amendments to its charter: changing its corporate name from "The
Burgess and Town Council of the Borough of Kittanning" to "The
Borough of Kittanning;" increasing the number of councilmen from five to
six, three of them to be elected annually and the term of each to be two
years; prohibiting the members of the town council from receiving compensation
for their services in that capacity, and from having any pecuniary interest in
contracts made by the borough; and providing that the debts of the borough,
exclusive of those created by the subscription to the stock of the above
mentioned companies, should be reduced, as soon as practical, to $1,000, and
that the amount therof should not be increased unless to promote some object
of general utility and authorized and required by two-thirds of the taxable
inhabitants of the borough.
A supplement to the original act or charter
was made by the act of April 4, 1866, providing a board of overseers of the
poor, changing the name of the chief executive officer from that of burgess to
mayor, investing him, the town council and the justices of the peace, with
needed additional police power, and enlarging the powers of the town council
to pass ordinances fixing licenses on wagons, carriages and other vehicles
traversing the streets of the borough, and in regard to the municipal
regulation, sanitary conditions, revenue and financial affairs, which new
powers have been from time to time beneficially exercised. An act repealing
the supplement of April 4, 1866, was passed May 5, 1876, which has been
judicially declared to be unconstitutional by the president judge of the
courts of this county.
The first election of borough officers was
held on the first Monday of May, 1821, of which the writer cannot find any
record, either in the minutes of the town council or in the prothonotary's
office. The oldest inhabitants do not remember who were then elected. He is,
therefore, unable to state who the first burgess, town councilmen and other
borough officers were. The most ancient minutes of the town council which he
has been able to find are those dated June 2, 1823, from which and from those
of subsequent dates it appears that David Reynolds was then burgess, David
Crawford, Frederick Rohrer, Joseph Shields, Isaac Scott and Michael Truby,
Sr., town councilmen, and James E. Brown, clerk. Joseph Shields was one of
Capt. Alexander's company, who was not deterred by constitutional scruples
from crossing the line into Canada, when it was necessary for the American
forces to go there.
SECURITY AGAINST FIRES
On Wednesday, May 26, 1824, the town council
received a certificate, signed by fifty-five of the taxable inhabitants of the
borough, stating that, in their opinion, a fire engine would be of general
utility to them, and therefore, requesting that a tax of one cent on the
dollar be laid on the valuation of the taxable property in the borough, to be
applied to the purchase of a fire engine. The tax prayed for was then laid,
and on Thursday, November 10, 1825, it was ordered: That the burgess purchase
a fire engine in the city of Philadelphia at the price of _____ dollars. The
burgess was authorized, Tuesday, May 9, 1826, in case a sufficient sum to pay
the balance of the price of the fire engine should not be collected, to borrow
the sum required and pledge the faith of the borough for its repayment. It
does not appear from the minutes of the council what that engine cost. The
burgess must have resorted to a loan to pay for it in part, for it was ordered
by the council, July 30, 1832, that an order be issued to A. Colwell and J. E.
Brown for $78.65, paid by them for the engine in 1826.
The first fire company was organized by a
meeting in the court-house, Saturday evening, August 27th, in the
last-mentioned year. The last notice of that company which the writer has
observed in files of old papers is that of a meeting held Saturday evening,
April 11, 1835, for the annual election of its officers.
A frame engine-house, costing about sixty
dollars, was erected, during the summer of 1827, on the east side of
Jefferson, below Market street, a short distance below the present alley
between J. A. Gault & Co's store and Dr. McCulloch's building. By orders
of council, May 31, 1827, the borough and the county were each to furnish
twelve fire-buckets, and each owner or renter of a house one. Two hooks and
two ladders were to be procured.
Such were the means provided by the public
authorities for extinguishing fires until 1854, when, after a serious fire --
the burning of L. C. Pinney's carriage factory -- which had occurred shortly
before, the requisite number of taxable inhabitants petitioned the town
council to procure a larger and more effective fire-engine. Whereupon a
special tax was levied, and a new hand-engine, costing $2,500, was procured.
It was better that the old one, but inadequate for the extinguishment of large
In 1871 the borough entered into a contract
with the Kittanning Water Works Company to furnish and put down in their main
water-pipes, twenty-three of Lowry's patent fire-plugs, one at each diamond,
or intersection of streets, for the sum of $2,783.09. They are well
distributed over the borough. Such is the hight of the reservoir above the
streets that the pressure forces the water from the fire-plugs through hose
two inches in diameter over the highest buildings, and when under proper
management, is effective for the extinguishment of extensive and dangerous
fires. This arrangement, even when there was not a properly organized fire
department, has been the means, on several occasions, of saving a large
portion of the buildings in this borough from destruction.
By that contract the Water Works Company
agreed to furnish the borough with water for extinguishing fires, practicing
with the hose and sprinkling the streets at an annual rent of $500 for ten
STREETS AND ALLEYS
The original streets were Water, Jefferson,
McKean and Back, extending northeastwardly and southwestwardly parallel to the
Allegheny river, which are intersected at right angles by High, Vine, Arch,
Market, Jacob, Mulberry and Walnut streets. The original names of all the
streets are still retained, except that of Back, which by act of March 24,
1868, was changed to Grant avenue.
The public alleys, laid out when the streets
were, are twelve feet wide, three of which are parallel with the river, and
are intersected at right angles by six others.
As late as July, 1824, the streets were far
from being in a perfect condition either for health or convenience. McKean
street was a gully for years afterward, and so deep that persons sitting on
benches or chairs on the sidewalks on Market, below Jefferson street, could
not see persons traveling along McKean, owing in part to a ridge of moderate
hight which crossed Market street, between McKean and Jefferson streets near
where the town hall now is.
That part of Jefferson between Market and
Arch streets was covered with water in July, 1824. That part of Market between
Back and McKean streets was then in a bad condition from having been washed by
heavy rains. There was a pond on McKean between Jacob and Mulberry streets,
and another pond on the same between Arch and Market streets. The town council
ordered those parts of those streets to be repaired, which was done, the cost
of which was as follows: repairing Jefferson street, $58.50; Market street,
$4.94; filling the upper pond on McKean street, $59.73, and draining the lower
pond on the last-mentioned street by digging a drain four feet wide at the top
and two feet at the bottom, regularly slanted, with a well made bridge of
slabs, sixteen feet wide, across it, opposite Mulberry street, $7.75. Total,
$130.92. The aggregate of annual outlays on the streets since then is immense.
Still the mud is very deep in wet weather except on that portion of Grant
avenue recently covered with a hard cinder, and that portion of Market street
between the railroad and Jefferson street recently covered with broken
limestone. Other substantial improvements made within the last two years are
excellent street crossings and a solid stone culvert over Truby's Run on
Water, above Arch street, in the place of wooden bridge which used to be
greatly injured or swept away by floods in the river. In making and repairing
public thoroughfares, as in other matters, the best is in the end the
By virtue of various acts of assembly and
borough ordinances, nearly all the sidewalks have been paved with brick. The
curbs are stone about five inches thick. The borough pays one-third and the
property owners the other two-thirds of the expense of the brick work.
The wharfing of the river bank, which was an
important local improvement, must have been commenced as early as 1818-19. An
order was issued by the county commissioners September 25, 1819, to Henry Jack
for $250, one-half of the subscription made by the county for wharfing the
Allegheny river at Kittanning. Considerable sums have since been expended by
the borough for that purpose, the largest being for wharfing the bank with
stone from a point about five rods below Jacob street to a small run between
Walnut street and the rolling mill, a distance of about ninety rods, in
CROSSING THE ALLEGHENY IN EARLY TIMES AND LATE
In the earlier years after the first
settlement of Kittanning by the whites, the facilities for crossing the river
were by skiffs and flatboats, when the water was too high for fording, which
were either rowed or poled from one side to the other. The first ferry was
some distance below the rolling mill, known as Sloan's ferry. Brown's ferry
was established at a later period, higher up the river, at the mouth of Jacob
street. Cunningham's ferry was established by the late William Cunningham, at
the mouth of Market street, which was, in and after 1834, a chain ferry, said
to have been invented by Mr. Cunningham, though it was much like the pont
volant, or flying bridge, long before known to French military engineers. The
ferry-boat was born across the river in about five minutes by the force of the
current, by means of a strong wire, fastened to a tree about four hundred
yards above the landing on the west side, the other end of the wire being
fastened to the boat by stay-ropes, by which it could be brought to any
desired angle with the current, the wire being kept out of the water by
several buoys resembling small boats which crossed the river simultaneously
with the large boat. The foremost end of the latter, being slightly turned up
stream, was impelled across the river by the oblique action of the water
against its side. Those buoys, says Sheman Day, looked like so many goslings
swimming with their mother. That ferry was subsequently owned by Philip
Mechling, who kept it up until the bridge was erected. The above-mentioned
mode was changed to that of the more modern chain-ferry, which is by fastening
the wire to trees or posts on both sides of the stream, dispensing with the
buoys, connecting the boat to a pulley running along the wire by means of
ropes or smaller wires, turning the foremost end of the boat up-stream, and
thus causing it to be impelled by the oblique action of the current of water
on its side.
By the act of April 2, 1838, and several
supplements thereto, the present Kittanning bridge company was incorporated.
The charter thus granted lay dormant until about 1855, when, the requisite
number of shares of stock having been taken, the work of building the bridge
was begun, and was completed in March, 1856. The foundation consists of two
stone abutments and four stone piers, substantially built. The first
superstructure was chiefly wooden -- Hall's patent. In a few weeks after its
completion, about dusk, April 12, 1856, it was struck by a violent tornado and
blown into the river. Wilson Todd, the toll-gatherer, and John Lininger were
then on or near the east end of the bridge. The former, a one-armed man,
sprang from the superstructure into the swollen river. There was intense
anxiety for several hours among the excited people of Kittanning concerning
his fate. He clung to that part of the bridge on which he went down.
Fortunately, and to the great relief of all who were cognizant of his peril,
he was rescued below Mannville. That tornado came from the west, and did
considerable other damage in its fierce easterly sweep, through a limited
portion of this borough and out through the country.
The bridge company having been authorized by
the act of April 19, 1856, to issue preferred stock, replaced the lost
superstructure by a wooden one on a different plan, that was firmly bound to
the abutments and piers. It was covered. It lasted until 1874, when it was
removed and the present graceful, durable, iron structure, with five channel
arches, was substituted. The length of this bridge is nine hundred and sixteen
feet. The total cost of the abutments, piers, superstructure and repairs is
FIRST STEAMBOAT ARRIVALS
On Saturday, April 11, 1826, the steamboat
Albion, Capt. Pursall, arrived here from Pittsburgh, bringing a number of
gentlemen as passengers, for the purpose of making the first experiment of
navigating the Allegheny by steam. The river was then about five feet above
low water mark, and the current very rapid. Yet she stemmed it majestically at
the rate of about four miles an hour, without the full force of steam. About
11 o'clock A. M. the report of a swivel on board announced her approach and
the shout "The steamboat!" was heard through the borough, and the
wharf was soon thronged with the people of this place and vicinity, eager to
see her. She was soon noticed coming round the bend below town, plowing
through the rapid current in splendid style, and was shortly moored at the
wharf. She was a beautiful boat of fifty tons, designed for low water in the
Ohio, and drew, with full load, a little more than five feet of water. A party
of 120 persons of this place, among whom were forty ladies, arranged with the
Captain to take them a few miles further up the river on a pleasure excursion.
The boat returned an hour or two sooner than she should have done on account
of the disturbance and unpleasantness occasioned by a few men on board, who
were exceedingly Bacchic and turbulent, which elicited from one of the
gentlemen aboard an uncomplimentary remark concerning Kittanning, in relation
to which the chronicle of the event said: "Hard, indeed, that this place
should bear such a stigma, when a large majority of its people abhor such
On Wednesday night, February 20, 1828, the
Pittsburgh and Wheeling packet arrived, respecting which some one, probably
Josiah Copley, on the 23d, wrote to Hazard's Register: "A sound was heard
down the river, 'an unco sugh,' as Burns says, which was soon recognized to be
the puffing of a steamboat. The town was immediately in a buzz. All looked out
to catch a glimpse of the water walker as she came around the bend below town.
Presently the bright glow of the furnaces burst upon the sight; the report of
their swivel resounded among the hills, and the boat rushed through the
yielding current amid the cheers of the people, and was safely moored
alongside the wharf. She proved to be the Pittsburgh and Wheeling packet, of
100 tons, owned by the Society of Harmonists, at Economy -- a beautiful
vessel, very handsomely finished, with two decks. A number of ladies and
gentlemen from Pittsburgh and Freeport came as passengers. A large party was
got up next morning, who took an excursion of six or seven miles up the river,
for the double purpose of the pleasure of the trip and a small remuneration to
the worthy Captain for the visit. It stemmed the current at the rate of five
or six miles an hour, and came down at about fifteen. The trip was delightful,
the accommodations were excellent and the company equally so. All were highly
pleased. No accident occurred to mar the pleasure of the party. We returned at
11 o'clock, and the boat left in a few minutes for Pittsburgh amid the united
cheers of the people on shore and on the boat. We expect her return on Friday
for the purpose of ascending the river as far as Franklin or Warren. Two
hundred passengers are to go from this place alone. The people are anxious
that this important experiment be made."
The writer is informed that the trip on
February 21 was to have been extended to the mouth of Red Bank, but it was
found impracticable to extend it further than a few miles above Kittanning, on
account of the high and rapid stage of water. Many of the passengers, however,
clamored for the extension to Red Bank. At the suggestion of one of the other
class of passengers, who took a more rational view of the circumstances, the
Captain turned his boat down stream, while the up-streamers or extensionists
were in the cabin, and landed at Kittanning. When the passengers came on deck
and got a glimpse of their own town, some of them didn't know it, and thought
the mouth of Red Bank was a much larger place than they had supposed it to be.
The Wm. D. Duncan, a side-wheel steamer,
Benj. Brooks, captain, and James P. Murphy, pilot, arrived here about 10
o'clock Friday night, February 22, 1822,when Washington's birthday was being
observed by a ball at the Kittanning Inn. She had on board a number of ladies
and gentlemen from Pittsburgh and Freeport. She left here on her upward trip
for Franklin and Warren at 9 o'clock the next morning, drawing four and a half
feet of water, and moved up stream at the average rate of about four and a
half miles an hour, and in nine hours reached Lawrenceburg, now Parker City,
where there was an accession of several gentlemen as passengers. Thence she
proceeded above the mouth of Clarion river, where she remained the rest of
that night, and left the next morning, arriving at Franklin about 5 o'clock
P.M., where those on the boat were cordially welcomed, in the midst of a
violent rain-storm, by the hospitable people of that place, a considerable
number of whom took an excursion to Oil Creek Furnace, while the visitors from
the lower Allegheny enjoyed the civilities shown them by the good people of
Franklin. The next (Tuesday) morning they commenced their downward trip, the
steamer moving at the rate of eleven or twelve miles an hour, and reached
Kittanning about sunset without accident or aught to mar the pleasure of their
excursion, except the crowded cabin, which was necessarily occupied by all
much of the time, on account of the rain.
In 1830 the steamboat Allegheny, the first
one for the Allegheny river, was built. Two citizens of Kittanning owned
interests in it, which did not prove to be profitable. Her first trip to
Franklin was on Friday, April 16, 1830, with three tons of freight and thirty
or forty passengers. Her speed up stream was three miles an hour. She reached
Warren on the 22d, and Kittanning, on her return, on the 26th of April. On one
of her other trips, she ascended the Allegheny to Olean, New York.
The New Castle was the next steamboat that
was built for the Allegheny river, on which steamboating soon after became
Among the steamboat captains on the
Allegheny none was, perhaps so noted for his brusqueness as John Hanna, whose
new steamer, the Allegheny Belle, made her first arrival here Thursday night,
December 8, 1842.
Another notable event of a public nature was
the convention of about fifty delegates from the counties of Allegheny,
Armstrong, Butler, Crawford, Jefferson, Venango and Warren, which met,
pursuant to previous notice, in the Presbyterian church, Kittanning, June 18,
1835, which was organized by appointing Henry Shippen, of Crawford county,
president, William Ayen, of Butler, and Adam Hays, of Allegheny, vice
presidents, and Josiah Copley, of Armstrong, and Ephraim Galbraith, of Venango,
secretaries. The following preamble and resolutions were then discussed and
SOME OLD-TIME FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATIONS
"Whereas, the Allegheny river, from its magnitude, local position
and adaption to steamboat navigation, is evidently destined to become the
principal medium of communication between the northeastern and southwestern
portions of our country, and may, at comparatively trifling expense, be
rendered navigable for steamboats at all seasons of the year when
uninterrupted by ice,
"Resolved, That the improvement of the Allegheny river would go far
toward a union of the Genessee, Susquehanna and Lake Erie with the Ohio, and
that it would be a great central channel from which lateral avenues of
commerce would diverge in all directions.
"Resolved, That the object of this convention be earnestly
recommended to their fellow citizens of Western Pennsylvania.
"Resolved, That Thomas Blair, Joseph Buffington and Wm. F. Johnston,
Esqs., be a committee for the purpose of drafting a memorial to the
Legislature of this state, praying for the passage of an act to incorporate
a company to improve the Allegheny y river from Pittsburgh to the New York
"Resolved, That a committee of correspondence be appointed to
inquire of and consult with such public bodies or private individuals as
they shall deem proper to further the objects of this convention, in the
improving of the Allegheny river, and that said committee consist of A. W.
Foster and N. B. Craig, of Pittsburgh, Hon. R. Orr, of Kittanning, J. Bredin,
of Butler, Hon. J. Galbraith, of Franklin, and Robert Falconer, of
Warren." -- Hazard's Register.
The Fourth of July, 1828, was celebrated in
a manner worthy of description. As preliminary and preparatory to it the
following communications appeared in the Columbian of June 21, 1828, viz.:
"Communication. The friends of Gen. Andrew Jackson are requested to
meet at the house of Mr. John Mechling" -- on lot No. 120 --"in
Kittanning, on Friday evening next" -- June 28, 1828 -- "at early
candle-light, to consult upon measures preparatory to celebrating the
approaching anniversary of American independence in a suitable and becoming
"Communication. The friends of the Administration" -- John Quincy
Adams -- "wishing to participate in the festivities of the day of the
Fourth of July next are requested to leave their names at the house of Mr.
The Armstrong Guards met at the hotel then
kept by R. B. Alford -- Eagle House -- Saturday evening, June 21. The meeting
was organized by appointing the captain of the company, Thos. Blair,
president, and John Croll, secretary. A preamble and resolutions were adopted
deprecating the observance of that day as a party instead of a national
jubilee, and that, though differing politically, they would celebrate the day
by having a dinner provided for the company and such other citizens as would
join in the celebration, at such place and by such person as the committee
might think proper. In pursuance of that arrangement the fifty-second
anniversary of American independence, which occurred on Friday, was celebrated
by the Guards and a large number of citizens, friends of both presidential
candidates, in this borough. Samuel Matthews was chosen president, Michael
Mechling and David Johnston, vice-presidents, and James Douglass, secretary.
Capt. Blair read the Declaration of Independence and Charles G. Snowden
delivered the oration. The orator, having presented at considerable length the
advantages resulting from that independence, concluded his oration in these
words: "In the ardor of enthusiasm into which my mind has been carried I
have ascribed the possession of freedom and happiness to the people of this
country without distinction. But, painful task! I must retract, or at least
qualify, the expression. For is there not, O Columbia! thou first-born of
freedom -- thou who last taught the world to know and prize as they might this
heaven-born blessing -- is there not within thy bosom a numerous class of men
who have no cause to unite their voices with ours in celebrating this
memorable day? Alas! there is; and while truth and candor make this confession
the fair genius of liberty forgets for a moment the rapturous joy of the day
to weep over their fate. Unhappy sons of Africa! when I think of your
condition I am ready to ask myself if this be the United States -- that land
so famed for the natural rights of man? I am ready to ask, where are those
solemn declarations, those solemn appeals, which our ancestors made to the
Great Father of the great family of mankind in the hour of their distress
during the Revolutionary conflict? Did our patriots reason and heroes bleed to
establish the position that a part only of the human race were born with an
inherent right to freedom? This indeed was not their declaration, nor is it
ours: but what must the rest of the world think of our conduct? Will they not
brand our name, in other respects so fair, so glorious, with the foul epithets
of interested, inconsistent nation? Of all the extremes capable of being
united in a political system surely liberty and slavery are the most
heterogeneous, discordant and shocking! Extirpate, then, fellow-citizens, this
baneful weed out of the fair garden of liberty, and let each return of this
glorious anniversary find the evil rapidly diminishing until its name shall be
forever lost from the annals of America, and the chorus of liberty shall be
filled with joyful notes of all nations and colonies of men that breathe the
pure air of Columbia. In order that this happy purpose may be effected, O may
the luminous and divine spirit of liberty which is diffusing itself throughout
the world still continue to diffuse itself and once more shed its influential
rays upon the minds of Americans! And O ye enlightened republicans, whose
ancestors so gloriously opposed acts of despotism for the establishment of
your liberty, may you now pursue the dictates of humanity, and let proper
motives actuate you in the establishment of universal liberty, until that
happy period shall arise when all mankind shall enjoy equal felicity!"
Although the anti-slavery sentiment
expressed in the foregoing extract then harmonized with the general sentiment
of the people in this borough and county, yet, in the course of eight or nine
years, a change had come o'er the spirit of their dream, for on the 18th and
19th of April, 1837, a large meeting of men of all parties, from different
parts of the county, was held, showing that Armstrong was then determined
"to discountenance the fanatical course of abolitionists in their
endeavors to embroil Pennsylvania with her sister states of the South."
The sentiment was promulgated in one of the resolutions, that Pennsylvania,
having abolished slavery within her own limits, had done all that she was in
duty bound to do in regard to it. Time, knowledge and the logic of events
wrought another change in the proceedings and voted for the resolution to that
convention -- a change favorable to emancipation. .
The assemblage then enjoyed an excellent
dinner prepared by John Mechling, and then repaired to the shade of a large
sugar-tree on the bank of the river below where the rolling mill now is.
1. The day we celebrate. Sacred to liberty and the rights of man. Four
2. The surviving officers and soldiers of the army of the revolution. They
now receive the appropriate reward of valor -- the gratitude and bounty of
their country. Three cheers.
3. The congress of 1776. A memorable proof that wise heads are as necessary
as strong arms. Four cheers.
4. The memory of Washington. Drunk standing and in silence.
5. The president of the United States. (Three cheers.)
6. The governor of Pennsylvania. (Three cheers.)
7. General Andrew Jackson. (Three cheers.)
8. The memory of DeWitt Clinton. The New York canal is the monument of his
fame and the glory of his country. Standing, and in silence.
9. Our free institutions. May this rich inheritance from our fathers escape
unhurt from the fury of party warfare. (Three cheers.)
10. Bolivar. He has filled the measure of military fame -- his fitness to be
a ruler of a free country remains to be seen. (Three cheers.)
11. The cause of liberty and representative government through the world. We
wish it a steady and sure march. (Three cheers.)
12. The laws and constitution of our country. To these alone we owe
allegiance. (Three cheers.)
13. Our fair countrywomen. (Four cheers.)
By the president -- The memory of Gen. Jacob Brown.
By Vice President Johnston -- The right of suffrage. With freemen, its
transcendent importance should outweigh every other earthly consideration.
By the secretary -- The citizens of Kittanning. May the preparations which
they have made for celebrating the fifty-second anniversary of the American
Independence prove to a demonstration that they emulate the spirit of '76.
By Capt. Blair -- The memory of Kosciusko. The unwavering needle of the
patriot's heart will point steadily to the Pole.
By J. M. Jordan -- Officers and soldiers of the revolution.
And when the battle's thunder roar'd
From morn till day's decline,
For us their blood they freely pour'd,
In days o'lang syne.
By John Francis -- When the fair sex stand in danger, may the Armstrong
Guards be found standing at their arms prepared to protect them.
By Josiah Copley -- The Pennsylvania canal. A silver chain to bind the State
together -- pity it must have an iron link in it.
By Thomas McKelvey -- The Armstrong Guards. May we celebrate the present
anniversary with the same feelings as did the heroes of the revolution on
the 4th of July, 1776.
By Lieut. Johnston -- The memory of Patrick Dougherty, a soldier of the late
By John Clugsten -- The United States. May they flourish and be crowned with
success, and ever be the bright luminary of this western hemisphere.
By Wm. W. Hastings -- The fifty-second anniversary of our glorious
independence we celebrate, and not men.
By A. Colwell -- The late preamble and resolutions of the Armstrong Guards;
their enemies find fault without knowing the reason why.
By James R. Snowden -- The navy of the United States: It has wrested the
trident of Neptune from the ancient lords of the ocean and forced the
British lion to crouch at the feet of the American eagle.
By Lieut. McCullough -- May the oppressed of all nations break their chains
on the heads of their oppressors.
By George Rohrer -- The Jacksonites on the other side of the water: May they
celebrate this day with the same harmony and good feeling that we have done.
By a guest -- Our senator and representatives in the late legislature: Their
exertions to secure our interests have secured our confidence.
By Thomas Struthers -- David Lawson, the active and zealous friend and
supporter of the interests of the west.
By Jesse Williams -- Our worthy host.
By the company -- The president of the day, the vice-presidents of the day,
the orator of the day.
Our venerable and respected guest, Judge Orr.
That fifty-second anniversary was also
celebrated on the opposite side of the river by the friends of General
Jackson. Robert Orr, Jr., acted as president, Samuel S. Harrison and Jacob
Mechling as vice-presidents, and Frederick Rohrer and Thos. McConnell as
secretaries. The locality of this celebration was among some trees just below
where the old Freeport road turns up the hill, nearly opposite the foot of
Mulberry street. After those present had partaken of a sumptuous dinner,
prepared by the late Joseph Brown, the Declaration of Independence was read by
the late Dr. Neale, and an oration was delivered by George W. Smith, then a
resident of Kittanning, but now of Cecil county, Maryland, a copy of which the
writer has not seen. The following toasts were then drunk with, it is stated,
"a unanimity of sentiment seldom equaled:"
1. The day we celebrate. May the God of nations protect our happy
country, so that in the latest ages our posterity may join in celebrating
the birthday of freedom.
2. Our country: May her councils be always peace and ever free from the
suspicion of corruption.
3. The memory of Gen. George Washington.
4. The heroes and statesmen of the revolution: Devoted to the inherent
rights of man, they have left us a monument of greatness for an admiring
world to contemplate with wonder and gratitude.
5. The army and navy of the United States: Matchless in skill and bravery --
in the hour of need the sure defenders of our rights and liberties.
6. The President of the United States: Elected by intrigue and corruption --
may those concerned in betraying the rights of their constituents meet with
a just reward -- an expulsion from all offices of honor and profit.
7. The Governor of Pennsylvania: His mild administration meets the applause
of a free people.
8. The State of Pennsylvania: Her sons, celebrated for virtue and
patriotism, and always true to the principles of 1776, form a solid phalanx
in support of the hero of two wars.
9. Gen. Andrew Jackson: The choice of the people of the United States for
10. DeWitt Clinton and Gen. Jacob Brown: In the civil and military, the one
unsurpassed in talents and the other not exceeded in bravery. Their desire
to promote the public good deserves that their memory should be cherished by
a grateful people.
11. Internal Improvement: The sure foundation of the wealth and prosperity
of our State -- may the citizens of Pennsylvania soon feel the effect of her
12. The Allegheny river: Its waters unequaled by any other stream in the
world -- a link formed by nature to connect the lakes with the ocean.
13. Our wives and sweethearts: Though not with us, our hearts are with them.
Volunteers -- By the President: Success to the plow and the scythe, the
spindle and the loom.
By Jacob Mechling -- The intrigues at Washington city -- the evil is
contagious and evidently spreading. God send us a safe deliverance from it
in our cities and little villages.
By Thos. McConnell -- The hero who protected and preserved "Beauty and
By F. Rohrer -- Our members of Congress: Having represented their
constituents with fidelity and unwearied industry, they merit a continuation
of public favor.
By. J. E. Brown -- The 14th day of October, 1828: A day suspicious to the
real friends but fearfully ominous to the enemies of the vested and
constitutional rights of the Allegheny country. A day on which Armstrong
county will, with unanimity unparalleled, and in language not to be
mistaken, show her determination to maintain these rights.
By George W. Smith -- Gen. I. D. Barnard: His patriotic devotion to his
country in the field and cabinet, as well as in the senate of the United
States at the late session, in the able and distinguished part he took in
favor of the tariff bill, entitle him to the confidence of his
By James Thompson (late chief justice) -- John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay
-- a mysterious union of discordant materials: May our country arouse from
her slumbers and banish from her council hateful suspicion by removing the
objects that justly gave rise to it.
By James Richart -- General Andrew Jackson: Undaunted in war, matchless in
his deportment as a gentleman, the brave and noble defender of beauty, the
undefiled lover of his country.
By S. S. Neale -- The military chieftains: Strange that an American
statesman should have advanced the sentiment.
By Walter Sloan -- May the rotting, tottering, clayey pillars of the present
administration be removed from their sandy foundation by the voice of the
Union and rebuilt with better materials, founded upon a rock against which
the storms of corruption and autocracy may beat but not prevail.
By John Mosgrove -- General Jackson: May his talents as a statesman, his
courage as a warrior, and his virtues as a citizen make an impression on the
minds of all independent Americans.
By J. H. Hepburn -- Our country: The asylum of the oppressed, the birthplace
of heroes, and the land of patriots; may she flourish unrivaled among the
nations of the earth.
By. G. W. Brodhead -- Let us, like freemen, fill our goblets and drink a
health to Gen. Andrew Jackson, whose name stands sanctioned by the people's
will first on the roll of fame.
By Samuel Davidson -- Let the friends of Gen. Jackson be watchful and not
suffer the enemy to decoy them from the ranks.
By J. G. Fry -- John Quincy Adams: May he be removed from office, and Gen.
Andrew Jackson take his place.
By Peter Frantz -- Gen. La Fayette: Until liberty shall have been consigned
to the tomb of ages, may his name never cease to be remember by freemen.
By Frederick Robinson -- A porcupine saddle and a rough-trotting horse for
the enemies of Jackson to ride upon.
By Samuel Truby -- Gen. Andrew Jackson: A patriot, a statesman, a soldier;
may he be a president.
By Joseph Cogley -- May Gen. Andrew Jackson receive more votes than he did
on a former occasion, and may John Quincy Adams be removed from office and
Gen. Jackson take his place.
By Wm. Wiley -- Gen. Jackson: His course throughout has been marked by a
steady devotion to his country; a grateful people praise his fidelity and
will reward his merits.
By a member -- Public men worthy of public confidence: If conscious of
fidelity, why do they appeal to the people for the course of their public
After the close of the exercises, the
assemblage recrossed the river at Brown's ferry without an accident or
occurrence to mar the pleasure or wound the feelings of any one present.
The services and the spirit of the
respective toasts of these two assemblages show the different phases of a
partisan and a non-partisan observance of our Sabbath day of freedom.
For many years prior to 1828, the Fourth of
July had been harmoniously celebrated in this place by those belonging to
different political parties, especially so in 1826, the semi-centennial
anniversary of our National Independence. This is one of the toasts on that
occasion: "Adams and Jefferson -- venerable for their years, glorious for
their achievements, let them receive the plaudits of a great nation, as they
retire from the theater of life." It so happened in the course of Divine
Providence, that both of the illustrious subjects of that toast died, within
about five hours of each other, on that day, unbeknown, of course, to the one
who gave, and those who listened to, that toast until the news reached them by
mail a week or two afterward. Jefferson expired at ten minutes before one, and
Adams at six o'clock P.M. The other toasts breathed a grateful spirit to
Washington and the fathers of our Republic and its subsequent defenders. The
declaration of independence was read by Rev. Moses P. Bennett, and the oration
was delivered by Rev. Nathaniel G. Snowden, a copy of which the writer has not
seen. The dinner was served on the opposite side of the river by Joseph Brown,
which was partaken of by the Armstrong Guards and a large number of citizens.
Thomas Blair was president, Samuel Matthews vice-president, and Eben S. Kelly
secretary. They and nearly all who participated in that proper observance of
that semi-centennial of American independence, are numbered with the dead.
Other features of that and the other old-time celebrations of the Fourth of
July were the raising of Liberty poles and the firing of guns, pistols, and
The old-time non-partisan celebrations were
in vogue after 1826. In 1840, however, the day was observed by the Whig and
Democratic parties separately. The former had a large convention of members of
that party from all parts of the county. Their log cabin was situated in the
grove on the hill east of the court-house, where Mrs. Colwell now lives. Party
spirit ran high. The chief marshal*(10) on that occasion informed the writer
that fears were entertained that the cabin would be destroyed by some of the
other party, at least it was so intimated. The Whigs, therefore, placed a
strong military guard, with loaded arms, around it, the night before the
Fourth. On Friday night, the 4th, it and the grounds were occupied by the
Whigs, and brilliantly lighted. Thither marched a large procession, in which
were several veterans of the revolutionary and Indian wars, and the war of
1812. By prearrangement the Democrats had a celebration and dinner of their
own. The dinner was at the Mansion House on Jefferson street, then kept by
Thomas H. Caldwell. The Independent Blues, Capt. Rowlands, and some citizens
observed the day in a non-partisan way by a parade and a dinner at Isaac
Scott's, and an oration by the late Thomas McIlhenny.
The gradual decadence of the old-time
celebrations followed. The public dinner, the oration, the raising of liberty
poles, and the firing of guns ceased. That day was observed for several years
thereafter at the Federal Spring and other shady nooks, when the Declaration
of Independence was read and toasts were given, some of which were national
and patriotic, some humorously personal, and others indicated that Bacchic
merriment was a prominent element. That of 1848 was signalized by the holding
of a Democratic county convention. The last one that most nearly approached
the old-time celebrations was, probably, in 1854, among the active movers of
which were members of the corps of civil engineers, then engaged in surveying
and laying out the Allegheny Valley Railroad. Edward S. Golden presided, the
Declaration of Independence was read by John V. Painter, and various toasts,
usual on such occasions were given.
At one of the earlier celebrations, a
certain German*(11) was called on for a toast, after a great variety of others
had been given. He was naturally at a loss for a sentiment different from any
that had already been heard. In the depth of his perplexity, he justly evoked
applause by giving this: "Freuheit and Flour genuge!" which, in pure
German, is : "Freuheit and viel mehl!" and in English: "Liberty
and plenty of flour!"
In pursuance of a resolution of the American
Sunday School Union, requesting a meeting of superintendents, teachers,
scholars, and friends of Sunday Schools in their respective localities, on
July 7, 1833, the meeting thus requested was held in this place at the
Academy, on the fourth of that month, the exercises of which were prayer,
singing, an exhortation by Rev. J. Sommerville, an address by Rev. G. A.
Reichert, and a succinct narrative of the rise and progress of the Kittanning
Sabbath School, by James E. Brown, its superintendent. That school was
organized in 1830 and continued to be a union school for several years. The
observance of Fourth of July by Sabbath School picnics began here in 1835. On
that occasion the superintendent, teachers, two hundred scholars, and a goodly
number of parents met at the Methodist Episcopal church. The exercises were:
1. Singing. 2. Prayer by Rev. Joseph Painter. 3. Singing. 4. Address by Rev.
B. B. Killikelly. 5. Singing. 6. Prayer by Rev. G. A. Reichert. 7. Singing a
hymn, in which the teachers and scholars alternated. The hymns used were
printed on small sheets for the occasion. After the conclusion of these
exercises, the assemblage partook of a repast, for the excellence, abundance,
and variety of which the ladies who prepared and dispensed it were deservedly
entitled to a full share of praise.
The chronicle of that event further states
that good order prevailed and all seemed to enjoy themselves, conscious that
they had spent that morning of our glorious anniversary in an innocent,
rational and pleasant manner. The procession left the church about noon and
were handsomely received by Capt. R. E. Brown's company of Independent Blues
in open order and with presented arms, beautifully and impressively emblematic
of the true use of the military, the protection of the helpless and innocent.
Some years afterward that school was
separated into denominational ones, which, however, continued to unite for
several years in celebrating the Fourth of July, in holding their annual
picnics in groves, when the weather would permit. The last of the union of
more than two schools was in 1850. On that occasion an address was delivered
by the late L. S. Cantwell, whose theme was, American Independence is the
triumph of religious as well as civil liberty. His peroration was in these
"Our fathers never paused to ask, will our generosity be requited well
or ill? They did their duty; they acted their part faithfully and nobly in
the history of the world; they set a rising nation an emulous example of
universal benevolence. In God they trusted for their recompense, and they
have received it. The world is now resounding their praise. Looking down
from a higher sphere of charity, they beheld the principles which they
professed and acted on triumphant through our vast republic and destined yet
to triumph throughout the entire world.
"Americans, emulate the glory of your fathers! Men of every creed and
country, learn that civil and religious liberty belongs to all mankind!
Practice this doctrine, act upon this principle and the sun in his course
will visit no land more free, more happy or more united than this -- our own
The next year the Presbyterian and Episcopal
schools unitedly, and the Methodist and other schools separately, celebrated
that anniversary. Since then the various schools have had distinct
celebrations, except that on two or three occasions the Presbyterian and
Episcopal schools united. Within a year or two past the Presbyterian school
has changed the time of its annual picnic until later in the season.
There is still another phase of the
observance of the Fourth of July. In pursuit of a call, signed by twelve
members of the Washington Total Abstinence Society, viz., Robert Orr, Darwin
Phelps, Josiah Copley, Andrew Arnold, John Mechling, James Douglass, Edward
McBride, W. Reynolds, W. J. Reynolds and George Rodgers, an immense mass
temperance convention assembled here July 4, 1842, with which the united
Sabbath schools, after their picnic in the morning, joined. A procession was
formed at the Presbyterian church and, preceded by the military, marched
through the several streets to Reynolds' Grove, where prayer was offered by
Rev. Wm. Hilton, a temperance ode was sung, the Declaration of Independence
was read by the late Thomas T. Torney, and the vast assemblage was addressed
by temperance speakers from abroad. There was a partisan celebration the same
day on the opposite side of the river. Another celebration by the temperance
element was July 4, 1848, by a picnic in one of the groves near town, when the
ladies presented a bible to the Kittanning division of the Sons of Temperance.
OTHER NOTABLE EVENTS
Washington`s centennial birthday, February
22, 1832, was celebrated by the ringing of the court-house bell at early dawn.
At 12 M. the Armstrong Guards paraded, and were joined by the citizens at 2
P.M., making a large procession. After partaking of an excellent dinner
prepared by David Reynolds, Robert Orr, Jr., was appointed chairman and Samuel
L. Harrison, secretary. Washington`s Farewell Address was read in a distinct
and impressive manner by Thomas Blair. The borough was magnificently
illuminated from six until nine o'clock in the evening, and the night closed
with a ball. Every countenance, it is related, evinced joy and gratitude
beyond those of other public celebrations. Neither accident nor improper
conduct occurred to mar the observance of that one hundredth natal day of the
:"Father of our Country."
The Allegheny Valley railroad was opened to
Kittanning for business January 29, 1856, on which occasion there was a free
excursion, which was enjoyed by a considerable number of the friends of the
road, to whom the freedom of the borough had been tendered. Among the sports
of the day those guests and others participated in a brisk game of
snow-balling. For about nine years the station was at the head of Walnut
street, whence it was removed to the corner of Vine street and Grant and
Reynolds avenues, where a commodious building was soon after erected for a
passenger and freight depot on a tract of two acres and thirty square feet,
purchased by the late president of the railroad company from Absalom Reynolds.
There is on the same tract, a few rods north of the depot, a neat two-story
frame building, erected by the company for the use of the passenger and
Wednesday, April 19, 1865, the day on which
occurred the funeral services of the lamented President Lincoln, was duly
observed here. Business was suspended; the sable emblems of mourning were
visible in every part of the borough; the bells were tolled; and unfeigned
regret and sadness and indignation pervaded this community. Suitable religious
exercises were held in several of the churches -- in the Methodist Episcopal
church in the morning, when a discourse was delivered by Rev. T. D. Ewing; in
the Presbyterian church in the evening, when an address was delivered by the
late Rev. A. H. Thomas. Revs. B. B. Killikelly, J. N. Dick, M. Sweigert and J.
A. Earnest also officiated. The addresses and other exercises were solemn,
touching and appropriate.
During the forenoon of Friday, September 15,
1871, a telegraphic dispatch was received stating that a special train from
Oil City, bearing President Grant and family, would arrive here at 12:40. A
hasty effort was made by the mayor to have the people form in procession in
front of the town hall and move thence to the depot for the purpose of
receiving and welcoming his excellency in an orderly manner. But, fearful that
they might miss seeing him, they heeded not the request to move in procession.
The court, then in session, adjourned before the usual time. A large multitude
of people from town and country, among whom were some who had fought under
Gen. Grant at Vicksburg and in the Wilderness, were assembled to greet him.
The train arrived at 12:42, two minutes late, so that the very short time
alloted for stopping here was somewhat abridged. The president appeared upon
the rear platform of the car when all who could, in the brief space of three
or four minutes, rushed thither and grasped his hand and evinced their esteem
for and gratitude to one of our country's most illustrious benefactors.
A public meeting was held at the court-house
Monday evening, October 10, 1871, in reference to taking measure for
contributing aid to the sufferers by the great Chicago fire. A committee of
twenty was appointed to canvass the borough and vicinity, which in a few days
thereafter reported that the sum of $1,300 had been raised and forwarded,
which was increased by an additional sum of probably $150 or $200.
Another public meeting was held at the court
house Thursday evening, November 9, 1871, for the purpose of consulting in
reference to taking precautionary measures to prevent the spread of small-pox,
which was then fearfully prevalent in Pittsburgh and various other places, and
which it was feared would sooner or later be brought here. After an
interchange of views a committee of fifteen, consisting of five physicians of
this borough and ten citizens, was appointed, to which was intrusted (sic) the
adoption of such sanitary measures as it might deem best. This "Board of
Health" held its first meeting Friday evening, November 10, and appointed
two sub-committees -- one of physicians to see that vaccination be made as
general and preventive as possible; the other of five citizens, as a finance
committee, to raise funds to defray the necessary expenses of vaccinating all
who were unable to pay and to provide, if necessary, for erecting and
furnishing a small-pox hospital. This was a voluntary movement on the part of
the people for self-defense against the ravages of that contagious disease --
necessarily voluntary in the absence of any borough ordinance providing for
such an apprehended emergency. The town council had and it still has ample
power under section 13 of the act of April 4, 1866, to pass such ordinances as
may be needed in relation to the sanitary condition of the borough, which it
has not yet exercised. That committee of physicians and citizens did their
work thoroughly. Nearly every one who required vaccination was vaccinated,
whether he or she was able to pay for it or not. It was probably owing to
those precautionary measure that this borough was thereafter so singularly
exempt from small-pox and that a hospital or pest-house was necessary.
TORNADOES, FLOODS, ICE-GORGES
Besides the tornado already mentioned,
several others have at different times done more or less damage. Many years
ago, probably in the summer of 1811, a furious one crossed the river from the
west, about seventy-five yards in width, which prostrated numerous trees in
its course, unroofed the log building on lot No. 245, in which had been James
McClurg's store, and carried before it the unfinished frame building (it had
been weather-boarded) which was being erected by Philip Essex on lot No. 241,
on Water street, where the poorhouse, now is, in an easterly direction across
the run to the hill near the present residence of Ephraim Buffington, a
distance of nearly sixty rods.
That the portion of this borough between the
river and McKean street or a little beyond it was subject to inundations when
this region was inhabited by the Indians, is, perhaps, inferable from the fact
they they located their town, at least the heart of it, on what was then the
third, but what is now the second bench, between McKean street and Grant
Avenue. The first well-known inundation -- the writer is informed there was a
high flood in 1803 -- after the settlement here by the whites, was February
10,1832, which caused such of the people living on the then second bench as
could to remove to higher ground until the subsidence of the waters. The hight
of the water at the northwest corner of Arch and Water streets was four feet
one and a half inches above the present pavement; at the northwest corner of
Water and Mulberry streets, two and a half feet. On Wednesday, October 21,
1835, the river rose twenty-five feet above low-water mark, which was within a
few feet of being as high as it was in 1832.
In the latter part of the second week in
March, 1837, the heavy bodies of ice that had accumulated through the winter
on the upper Allegheny, French creek and their tributaries broke up, which, or
at least large portions thereof, gorged between Kittanning and the mouth of
Red Bank. On Sunday and Monday, 12th and 13th, that gorge moved about forty
feet and then stopped. Between 1 and 2 o'clock A.M., Tuesday, 14th, the alarm
was given that the ice had begun to move. It soon stopped again. The people of
Kittanning, thus awakened, were much alarmed, and the approach of daylight was
indeed welcome to them. Immense gorges of ice accumulated from one side of the
river to the other, so high as to intercept the view of buildings on the other
side to those on this side of the river. There were vast piles of ice along
the river above Kittanning from thirty to forty feet high. About 4 o'clock
P.M. the river overflowed, both above and below town. Hugh cakes of ice, four,
five and six feet thick, were furiously borne into McKean street from both
above and below. The whole town was covered with ice. There was a continuous
bed of ice in Water street from fifteen to twenty feet thick, and nearly the
same on Jefferson street. The turnpike at the lower part of the town was
blocked up, as were the landings on both sides of the river. The bridge across
Truby's run, on Water street, was forced back to Jefferson street. The swollen
river raged and foamed as if it would free itself from its unwonted burden.
All the people that could fled to the hills. Many that had not time to reach
them betook themselves to the upper stories of their dwellings until after the
fall of the water, which overflowed the river banks about 4 o'clock P.M.,
bearing ice, trees, fences, hogs and cattle from north and south into McKean
street, and destroying the bridge in the lower part of the town. There were,
of course, hours of intense anxiety during the continuance of the fearful
prospect of an ice-floe as well as a flood. But, fortunately, just after that
overflow, when the alarm of the people was most intense, the lower part of the
gorge broke, and the rest of it soon moved down stream. No person's life was
lost and not much other damage was done except what was caused by the high
water, which was four feet higher than in the flood of 1832. Large cakes of
ice were left on some of the streets, which were not entirely melted until May
or June. In the confusion of fleeing to the hill, some mistakes were made. A
singular, if not ludicrous, one was that of an old lady taking her cat and
leaving her babe behind. When asked why she had saved her cat instead of her
child, she is said to have replied: "Oh, she is such a rouser for the
mice." The hight of the water above the pavement at the corner of Arch
and Water streets was five and one-quarter feet; at the corner of Water and
Mulberry, six and one-half feet.
The highest water flood was March 17, 1865,
when the water reached five and one-quarter feet above the pavement at the
corner of Arch and Water streets; two feet nine and one-half inches, corner of
Water and Jacob streets; and six and one-half feet, corner of Water and
Mulberry streets. The water reached to within three inches of the door-sill on
Market, a few feet above McKean street, and filled every cellar between the
latter street and the river, except Gen. Orr's, on lot No. 76.
The flood, December 12, 1873, raised the
water at the corner of Arch and Water streets three feet above the pavement;
corner of Water and Jacob streets, one foot nine and one-half inches; and at
the corner of Water and Mulberry streets, four feet.
Another terrific ice-gorge occurred in the
second week of March, 1875. For several days the ice accumulated above and
below Kittanning -- several miles each way. It was called the "ten-mile
gorge." The severely cold weather which had prevailed through the winter
made the ice very thick and hard. Though it was not piled up as high as it was
in1837, the gorge was considerably longer, and, for a few days, there was a
great, a very uncomfortable apprehension that immense damage would be done by
sweeping away the bridge and parts of the town, which would probably have been
the case if the water had risen suddenly and rapidly. Such of the inhabitants
on Water street and other low ground as could found quarters on higher ground.
After several days' waiting and watching and fearing a direful calamity,
relief came on Monday afternoon, March 15. For then -- it was a clear, warm,
beautiful afternoon -- the lower end of the gorge broke, and the vast body of
ice, which had given the river an arctic look for miles, moved slowly and
majestically down the Allegheny, an earnestly wished for sight, which all who
could thronged the river bank to witness.
Between 11 and 12 o'clock Sunday night,
March 9, 1828, a lively shock of an earthquake was felt here. Those who
noticed it described the motion as having at first been undulating and easy,
and afterward quick and vibratory. It continued from one to two minutes, and
was more sensibly felt in Pittsburgh at the same time.
Besides the serious conflagrations already
mentioned one occurred about 3 o'clock A. M. Thursday, June 28, 1828, which
destroyed the hatter shop of the late Hugh Rodgers, which adjoined his brick
dwelling house on lot No. 76, corner of Arch and Jefferson streets, now
belonging to the estate of the late Gen. Orr. The fire had made such progress
before it was discovered that it was impossible to save either the shop or its
contents, and it required a very vigorous and well directed effort to save the
house. Very high commendation was deservedly bestowed upon the ladies, who
freely volunteered on that occasion to assist in conveying water to the
engine. They entered the lines with alacrity and steadily remained at their
posts until the danger was over. Without their assistance it would have been
very difficult to have saved the dwelling-house.
On Friday, April 10, 1835, two houses
belonging to Mrs. Cust and the cabinet and chair-making shop of Nathaniel
Henry and George W. Ross, on lot No. 122, north side of Market Street, were
burned; and on Monday night, April 25, then instant, McCarthey & Shields'
tannery, northeast corner of Jacob and Jefferson streets, was nearly consumed
by fire. On both of these occasions also the ladies were prompt and active in
aiding to check the conflagration.
Another occurred August 7, 1862, which
originated from a young boy's playing with matches in the large stable of
Lightcap & Piper, on lot No. 70, on the west side of Jefferson street,
which destroyed that stable and the houses of A. L. Robinson and Judge Boggs,
and other buildings on the square or block between the public alley bounding
that lot on the south and Arch street, and endangered other buildings in the
vicinity. There were several other fires, at earlier and later periods, which
would have been extensive ones if they had not been checked in due time.
The most extensive robbery ever committed
here, or at least acknowledged to have been, was on Wednesday night, November
28, 1822, when the store of Philip Mechling was entered by cutting a hole
through one of the window-shutters, on the Water street side of the building,
removing a pane of glass, taking the key out of the bolt-pin by which the iron
bar was fastened across the outside of the shutter, hoisting the sash, and
thus effecting an entry. Mr. Mechling was thus robbed of about $2,000 worth of
property, consisting chiefly of bank notes. Although a reward of $300 was
offered for the apprehension of the robber, he has thus far eluded detection.
If he is still living the pangs of a remorseful conscience ought to impel him
to make restitution ere he shall receive the final and irrevocable sentence of
As early as April, 1806, the Presbyterian
congregation of Kittanning applied to the Presbytery of Redstone for supplies,
although there was not then a church organization here. The congregation
probably consisted either of members of the Presbyterian church elsewhere or
of those who preferred that denomination. Those supplies having been ordered,
the first of them was by Rev. Joseph W. Henderson, on the second Sabbath of
June, 1806. Supplies were afforded by him and other members of the Redstone
and Erie Presbyteries at the rate of one to five times a year, until a church
organization was effected, August 31, 1822, when the number of members was
twenty-one, and Thomas Hamilton, David Johnston and John Patrick were elected
elders. From that time until January 1, 1825, there were occasional supplies.
A stated supply was then commenced by Rev. Nathaniel P. Snowden, which
continued until the latter part of 1827 or the beginning of 1828. Then
followed occasional supplies until August 11, 1830, when the first pastor,
Rev. James Campbell, was installed. He preached here three-fourths of his
time. He resigned his pastoral charge October 4, 1831. The church was then
dependent on supplies until the second Sabbath of April, 1834, when the late
Rev. Joseph Painter, D. D., commenced his ministerial labors. He was installed
November 14, 1834, and continued to be the active pastor until December, 1863,
preaching here two-thirds of his time, and to other congregations the other
third, until the spring of 1853. During the last ten years of his active
pastorate all his time was given to this congregation. He was assisted for
several months in 1863 by Rev. George P. Hays, D. D., now president of
Washington and Jefferson college. The present pastor, Rev. T. D. Ewing, was
installed May 10, 1864.
The membership of this church was 32 in
1834, 146 in 1864, and it is 318 in 1876. Its Sabbath school was organized in
1830. Its present number of scholars is 270. For several years after 1830
there was in this place a union Sabbath school of all the Protestant
Prior to the erection of the first
court-house, religious services were held in private houses, afterward in the
court-house, until a church edifice was erected in 1830-31. To aid in building
it Thomas Hamilton, by his last will and testament, probated and registered
October 30, 1829, bequeathed the sum of $400, and specified that it be "a
neat brick building to be called the First Presbyterian Church." Some of
his other bequests were $100 to aid the funds of the first Sabbath school
organized within this borough; $100 to aid the first Bible society organized
here; $100 to purchase Bibles -- one Bible to be given gratis to any poor
family in this county, if so many were then unprovided, and the residue to
single individuals. He also directed $200 to be paid to the American Bible
Society, $200 to the Foreign Missionary Society, and $400 to Princeton
College, New Jersey, and $400 to Jefferson College, Pennsylvania, to be
applied in aiding indigent "pious young men of competent talents in
defraying the expenses of their education for the Gospel ministry." These
last four bequests were to be paid out of the proceeds of the sale of a
certain 150-acre tract of land. After deducting from the amount of these
proceeds the expenses of the sale, the balance was applied to the payment of
the legacies of those two societies in full, and $305.32 to each of those
That church edifice was erected on lot No.
177, east side of Jefferson, and second lot below Jacob street, where, in its
remodeled state, it still stands. Its conveniences and style of architecture
do not compare favorably with those of some of the more modern temples of
religion elsewhere. A vigorous effort is being made to erect a new one in
another part of the borough, on a scale comporting with the wants of the
congregation and the esthetic taste of this age of progress and improvement.
This church was incorporated by the court of
common pleas of this county June 26, 1841. The trustees named in the charter
were Alexander Colwell, Adam McConnell, A. L. Robinson, Joseph McCartney,
Darwin Phelps, John R. Johnston and James E. Brown, who were to continue as
such until the election to be held on the third Wednesday of November then
next. A supplement was granted by the same court, amending articles 4, 5 and 6
of the charter, March 8, 1865.
The Lutheran church was organized in 1820.
The records for several years after its organization were imperfectly kept, so
that a considerable portion of the knowledge of it which the writer has been
able to acquire is traditional. Until 1840, the preaching was chiefly , if not
altogether, in the German language, by Revs. Adam Mohler, ----- Ezardfels, G.
A. Reichert*(12), ----- Burnheimer and ----- Stackfeld; from 1840 to 1858, by
Revs. George F. Ehrenfeldt, W. A. Passavant, D. D., Asa Waters, Michael
Sweigart, and ----- Reck -- partly in German and partly in English.
St. John's -- the English branch -- was
organized May 13, 1858, of which Rev. J. A. Ernest was the pastor from
October, 1859, until October, 1867, when he resigned and was succeeded by the
present pastor, Rev. J. A. Kribbs. Trinity, the German branch, recalled their
former pastor, Rev. G. A. Reichert, in 1858. The present membership of both
branches, 218, with 190 scholars in their two Sabbath schools.
In 1830-31, the Lutheran and Episcopal
congregations united in erecting a church edifice, a brick structure, with a
tower, in which was the vestry room, on lot No. 33, on the east side of Water,
above Arch street, where Simon Truby now lives, which was alternately occupied
by these two congregations until July 21, 1845, when it was blown down by a
violent storm of wind, accompanied by thunder and lightning and copious rain,
which did other damage in this borough. For some time previous to this
casualty, the Episcopalian rector insisted that his congregation must have the
exclusive use of that edifice, because it was contrary to the rule or canon of
the Episcopal church for any other denomination to have services in the same
building, the force of which was not perceptible to the pastor of the Lutheran
congregation. The contest thus begun was ended, so far as actual occupancy was
concerned, by that act of God. The Lutheran congregation then worshiped in the
court-house, until they became possessed of the first edifice erected by the
Union, now United Presbyterian, congregation, on the parts of lots 174 and
180, fronting on Jacob street and on one of the public alleys, a frame
building, now occupied by the German branch. The erection of a brick edifice,
now occupied by the English branch, was commenced in 1867 and finished in
1872. Services were held in it before its completion, the first having been in
The Methodist Episcopal church is the
outgrowth of class-meetings held and preaching enjoyed here more than sixty
years ago when occasional services were held in private houses, one of which
is still standing on the corner of Market street and a public alley, on lot
No. 127, and in the court-house.
Among the first circuit preachers, about
1816, were Revs. Bair and Baker, and about 1821, Rev. Thomas Hudson,
heretofore mentioned. This point became a station in 1861. The station
preachers, Revs. E. Hingeley, 2 years, A. H. Thomas, 3 years, M. W. Dallas, 1
year, W. P. Turner, 3 years, N. G. Miller, 3 years, J. B. Uber, 1 year, and
the present pastor, M. J. Sleppy, now in his second pastoral year. The present
membership is 240; Sabbath school scholars, 150.
The first church edifice was erected near
the head of the extension of Market street, on the south side, on that part of
out-lot No. 24, now owned by James Mosgrove. The deed to the trustees of the
church is dated December 29, 1838, and the house was probably erected in 1839.
It was one-story brick, and of adequate size for the then congregation. The
present edifice is brick, two stories, and situate on the old jail lot, corner
of McKean street and the public alley between and parallel to Arch and Market
streets. It was incorporated by the court of common pleas of this county, June
5, 1871, and James Piper, Daniel B. Heiner, Samuel C. Davis, W. D. Mullin and
W. R. Milliun (sic) were named as charter trustees.
The Episcopal -- St. Paul's -- was organized
in 1824. Prior thereto an effort was made to secure aid for this point from
the Society for the Advancement of Christianity in this State, as appears from
an autograph letter, in the possession of James B. Neale, from the venerable
Bishop White, who was appointed chaplain*(13) to Congress during the time of
its flight to York, Pennsylvania, and was thereafter annually chosen until the
capitol of the United States was located at Washington, dated at Philadelphia,
March 26, 1822, in reply to one which he had received from Dr. Neale, in which
he wrote: "I have received your letter of 6th instant, and shall hand it
to the committee of missions in order that if it should be in their power,
during the ensuing summer, to employ a missionary to go beyond the mountain,
there may be due attention to your request.
"The Society for the Advancement of
Christianity in Pennsylvania feel most keenly the pressure of the times. We
shall, however, continue to aid our distant brethren as much as the funds
afforded to us will permit."
The efforts of the late Robert Brown and Dr.
Samuel S. Neale were effective in establishing this church.
There was occasional Episcopal preaching
here before 1824, by Rev. Mr. Thompson. Services were held in the court-house
from 1824 until the erection of the edifice by the Episcopalians and Lutherans
Rectors -- Rev. Moses P. Bennett, from 1824
until 1827; Rev. William Hilton, from 1829 until 1832, and again from 1839
until 1871, since which time he has been, and he still is, emeritus rector;
Rev. B. B. Killikelly, D. D., from August, 1834, until October, 1839; Rev. O.
S. Taylor, from 1871 until his death, April 6, 1874; Rev. R. W. Micou, the
present rector, commenced his clerical labors in July, 1874.
Membership -- (In 1876) 151. Sunday school
The present church edifice, brick, one
story, with vestry-room in the rear, is on lot No. 105, on Water street. The
corner-stone was laid September 21, 1846, when the late Bishop Potter, who
died at San Francisco, California, July 4, 1865, was present and delivered an
eloquent and appropriate address*(14).
This church was incorporated by the proper
court September 26, 1846. The wardens named in the charter were David
Patterson and Joseph Boney, and the vestrymen Robert Brown, Joseph Buffington,
John Portsmouth, Ephraim Buffington and George W. Smith, who were to continue
as such until the next regular election. It was consecrated by Bishop Potter,
August 27, 1847.
The choir is aided by a large, good-toned
organ. A neat, comfortable brick manse, one and a half stories, has been
erected near the church within the last few years, valued at $6,000.
The Associate Reformed, now United
Presbyterian, Church was organized September 18, 1845. Before that time Rev.
John Dickey, deceased, and other clergymen of what was formerly called the
Seceder, and then the Union, Church, preached occasionally to congregations in
the old court-house. The following is a copy of a subscription paper, in the
handwriting of the late David Reynolds:
Under a strong and impressive presumption that it will enforce on the minds
of the rising generation an important view of eternity, we, either as
parents or guardians of families, feel it an incumbent duty in which we are
bound, for our offspring as well as ourselves, to have the Scriptures
publicly preached amongst us. Therefore, we, the subscribers, do hereby
promise to pay the sums annexed to our respective names for the yearly
support of the Rev. John Dickey, as a minister of the Gospel, for the part
of Associate Presbytery denominated Kittanning. February 17, 1815.
The writer is not informed whether that was
one of the several other like papers. The amount of subscriptions on it
appears to have been $76.
Some time previous to the date of the
organization application had been made to the Presbytery of the Lakes, by
persons living at and in the vicinity of Kittanning, for preaching and for the
organization of a congregation. By order of that Presbytery Rev. Isaiah
Niblock and S. G. Purvis and A. P. Ormond, Sr., met at Kittanning, and having
constituted a session, received forty persons into the fellowship of the
Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, administered the sacrament of the
Lord's Supper, presided at the election and ordination of John Cunningham,
Moses Patterson, Hugh Rodger and Alexander Henry as ruling elders, and thus
completed the organization. At that time Rev. Joseph Kerr Riddle was preaching
as a stated supply to this people, and he continued thus for a year or more
afterward. He was followed by Rev. Joseph Buchanan as stated supply for
another year, and then by several other ministers, who were sent hither by
order of the above mentioned Presbytery.
In the winter of 1849 a call was moderated
by order of Presbytery, which was made out for Rev. John N. Dick, D. D., which
was presented at a meeting of Presbytery, held in April of that year, and was
accepted. He commenced his pastoral work that month, the church roll showing
the number of members to be thirty-two. He was ordained and settled as pastor
October 16, 1849, and continued thus until February 2, 1876, when the charge
was dimitted and the Butler Presbytery released him from the pastorate. The
present number of church members is 95; number of Sabbath-school scholars, 35.
A large portion of the congregation reside in the surrounding country.
The Associate Presbyterian and the Associate
Reformed Presbyterian Churches united in 1858, thus forming the United
Presbyterian Church of North America. The denomination to which this
congregation belonged having entered into that union, it has ever since been
known as the First United Presbyterian congregation of Kittanning, under the
care of the Butler presbytery. It has been dependent on supplies ordered by
Presbytery since Dr. Dick's resignation. It is not improbable that another
pastor will be called before the next 4th of July. The present church edifice
is a large brick building, containing an audience room, lecture room and
pastor's study, situate on the northwest corner of Jacob and Jefferson
streets, on lot No. 166.
The Associate Reformed Church was
incorporated by the proper court March 23, 1850, and the trustees named in the
charter were James Colwell, Robert Speer and Samuel C. King,, to serve until
the election held on the first Monday of January, 1851.
The United Presbyterian Church was
incorporated by the same court June 15, 1859, and the council of deacons named
in the charter were George Bovard, John M. Daily, William McClelland, Samuel
M. Sloan and John Barnett, to serve for one year.
The First Christian Church, Campbellite, was
organized about 1853. The deed for lot No. 172, on Jacob street, to the
trustees thereof is dated October 20, 1853. A two-story brick edifice was
erected on that lot. The audience room is in the second story, and lecture and
Sabbath-school room, two other rooms and vestibule are in the first story. The
membership was small and the organization was short-lived. That lot and
building subsequently became the property of J. E. Meredith.
The Reformed (St. Luke's) Church was
organized August 30, 1869, by adopting a constitution and electing Fred'k
Smith elder and David Knoble and Diederich Stoelzing deacons, with a
membership of twenty-five. Rev. C. A. Limberg, of Butler, Pennsylvania,
preached to the congregation in German, as a supply, prior to the organization
of the church, from some time in the fall of 1858 until some time in the
following spring, when, by order of the Clarion Classis, the service was
changed from German to English, and Rev. J. F. Wiant was designated to preach
as a supply, which he did semi-monthly until he was relieved by that classis
in 1872. Rev. L. B. Leasene, of Irwin's Station, Pennsylvania, was then
elected and continued to be the pastor during the next eight months, preaching
semi-monthly. The present pastor, Rev. D. S. Dieffenbacher, received a call,
which he accepted, and entered upon his pastoral duties June 1, 1873. The
present membership is 156; Sabbath-school scholars, eighty-five.
The congregation, feeling the urgent
necessity of a church edifice, appointed a committee, September 26, 1870, to
secure one and succeeded in effecting a purchase of the above-mentioned
edifice of the First Christian Church for $2,500. The deed is dated June 15,
1871. During the summer of that year the congregation caused the building to
be finished, beautified and made a comely and inviting place of worship. It
was dedicated October 8, 1871, under the name of St. Luke's Reformed Church.
St. Mary's (Catholic) church was organized
in or about 1851. The first services were held at the house of William Sirwell,
near the head of Jefferson street, and subsequently at other private houses,
in the academy and court-house, until the present church edifice was erected
in 1853, which is a neat, comfortable brick structure, at the corner of High
and Water streets, on lot No. 1, and is furnished in the usual style of that
denomination. The first priest who had charge of this church was Rev.
Mitchell, who was followed by Revs. Gray, Scanlon, Phelan, O'Rourke, Lambing
and Dignam, that is until July 4, 1876, and the number of families belonging
thereto is fifty.
The first school in Kittanning was taught by
Adam Elliott, in a log home situate on lot No. 69, near the public alley,
between Water and Jefferson streets, which lot is now owned by Mrs. Mary A.
Craig. Its only pupils known to be still living are Mrs. Catherine Truby and
her brothers Jacob and John Mechling.
That school was opened in 1805, and
continued to be kept in that house until the completion of the first jail, to
one of the upper rooms of which it was transferred and from which it was
subsequently removed to a private house on lot No. 165, corner of Jacob and
Jefferson streets, now owned and occupied by John Croll.
Adam Elliott continued to teach for many
years, and sometimes used the rod quite vigorously. One of his pupils , now a
grave and respected senior, related to the writer that, on a certain occasion,
Teacher Elliott gave him a severe flogging which he thought he did not
deserve. Feeling aggrieved, he told his father all about it when he went home.
After listening to the grave story of his boy's fancied wrong the father
consoled him by saying that he must go and see the teacher about it. Father
and son proceeded to the schoolroom, the latter in high glee, fondly expecting
the teacher would suffer a penalty, of a reprimand at least, for the injustice
which the pupil considered had been inflicted upon him. After entering the
schoolroom, the father inquired of the teacher whether he had flogged his son.
Being answered in the affirmative, he wanted to know whether he really
deserved a good flogging. The teacher said that, in his opinion, he did.
"Well, then," said the father, "give him another one."
That affair took a turn so different from what that young hopeful wished and
expected that he never again complained at home for being punished in school.
There is in the Gazette, of Wednesday, March
22, 1826, an editorial notice of an examination of the students then under the
tuition of Rev. Nathaniel G. Snowden on the next previous Saturday evening,
written by Josiah Copley, in which he said: They "were examined in the
presence of a numerous audience who were well pleased with the proficiency
they had made, and which was highly creditable to them and their teacher.
After the examination the scholars gave a few specimens of their elocution and
pronunciation. We were particularly pleased with the easy, clear and
unembarrassed manner in which the young ladies recited a number of pleasing
pieces, in the selection of which they manifested fine taste.": The
writer has learned from one of the participants* (15) in that first school
exhibition in Kittanning, that the late Thomas McConnell was so well pleased
with the exercise that he presented to the teacher twenty-five dollars as an
indication of his appreciation of his ability and of his fidelity to his
pupils. That school was taught in one of the jury-rooms in the court-house,
and the examination and exhibition were held in the court-room. Of the pupils
who participated in these exercises the following are the only ones known to
be still living, namely, Mrs. Geo. A. Barnard, Mrs. Mary M. Johnston, Mrs.
Mary M. Killikelly, Mrs. Margaret Nulton, Mrs. Mary Watson, Alexander
Reynolds, Sr., and James Ross Snowden. The two last named appeared in the
amusing dialogue entitled "The Gentleman and the Farmer."
There were, beside Mr. Elliott's and the
last mentioned, various other subscription schools, which were well
patronized, prior to and after the establishment of the common school system.
One of them was kept in a brick schoolhouse on the upper part of lot No. 149,
now owned by H. N. Lee, on the public alley parallel to and between Market and
Jacob streets. One of the walls fell in one day soon after school was
dismissed at noon, when fortunately neither teacher nor scholars were there to
be injured. The mason who built it on being told by certain quizzers that he
had put too much lime in his mortar innocently replied, "No, no, it was
more than half sand." The teacher of that school was a Mr. Jones, who was
addicted to flagellating his larger pupils with great severity. One of them
says Jones used to box his ears, and tell him he "would yet be governor
of Pennsylvania," in consequence of which the other boys, for the purpose
of aggravating him, called him "Governor," at which he became
indignant and threatened vengeance on his tormentors. Teacher Jones refused to
treat his scholars one Christmas day, for which they barred him out for three
days, receiving food and encouragement from his wife. After a long and
vigorous attempt of Teacher Jones to gain an entrance into his schoolroom, he
became hors de combat by an accidental fall which injured his back. Thus the
boys became victors.
At a later period, two other subscription
schools were in operation at the same time. One of them was taught by David
Simpson in a frame building, recently torn down, near the stone house on Jacob
street. The other was taught by Dr. Meeker in the building on lot No. 193, on
Water street, now occupied by Mr. Bowman. A rivalry in muscular scholarship
existed between the male pupils of these two schools. The boys of the Meeker
school, by boasting of their courage and strength, and frequently taunting the
boys of the Simpson school, provoked the latter to take up stones and other
weapons to which juveniles resort to when incited to combat. Thus armed, and
with their banner waving o'er them -- they had been presented with a flag --
the boys of Simpson school marched in serried line upon their boastful rivals,
who were also arrayed and armed for the shock of battle. The contest was short
and decisive. It resulted, says an eye-witness, in the boys of the Meeker
school being driven to the wall, or rather within the walls of their own
schoolroom. Then followed a conference between the teachers, which suddenly
ended when the casus belli was disclosed to the teacher of the vanquished.
About 1830-31 a one-story brick schoolhouse
was erected by the late Samuel Houston on lot No. 176, on the west side of
Jefferson, below Jacob street, on account of dissatisfaction with the
management of school matters in the Academy, in which a well-patronized school
was taught for several years by the late Thomas Cunningham, who was afterward
a member of the bar of Beaver county, Pennsylvania, and an incumbent of a
judicial position in Kansas. His successor in that school was Jonathan E.
Meredith, who taught it several months. January, 20, 1836, George Fidler
issued his notice in the Kittanning Gazette, then edited and published by
Josiah Copley for the estate of Simon Torney, deceased, southwest corner of
Market and McKean streets, informing the people of Kittanning that he was
about to open "a school for instruction in the usual branches, in Mr.
Houston's schoolhouse on Jefferson street."
Other private pay-schools were, at various
times, liberally supported.
The free-school system was inaugurated by
the act of April 1, 1834. In pursuance thereof, the then sheriff of this
county, Chambers Orr, deceased, issued his proclamation, dated August 6, 1834,
for the election, to be held on the third Friday of September of that year, of
six school directors in each township and borough in the county -- if a
borough connected with a township for the assessment of county rates and
levies, it and such township formed one school district. The candidates for
the first board of school directors, under that law, for the borough and
township of Kittanning, announced in the Gazette and Columbian, Wednesday,
September 3, 1834, were Frederick Rohrer, Samuel McKee, Findley Patterson,
John R. Johnston, Joseph M. Jordan and Richard Graham.
The first free schoolhouse in the borough of
Kittanning was built on the upper part of lot No. 175, on the south side of
Jacob street. It was a one-story frame building, fifty-five by twenty-four
feet; hight of ceiling, eight feet; and contained two rooms, heated by stoves.
In the course of time, -- several years -- the increased number of pupils
required additional room. That building was enlarged by adding a story built
of brick, nine and one-half feet high, lower down toward McKean street, and
removing the frame house, which was on higher ground, on to it, thus making a
two-story school-house with four rooms, which answered the public wants for a
few years. During the last several years of its occupancy for school purposes,
its capacity was not adequate to the health and comfort of the largely
increased number of scholars. In 1842-3, Judge Boggs taught in that building
for fifteen months. Educational interests and public sentiment demanded a more
capacious, comely and comfortable temple of knowledge, to be located on higher
and better ground. The board of school directors were willing and anxious to
meet that demand. The chief obstacle in the way for several years was their
inability to obtain a lot of sufficient size and suitable location at a
reasonable price, for such an edifice as the educational wants of this borough
required, until the purchase of an acre of ground, with gravelly soil, a
gradual northwesterly slope, consisting of lots Nos. 37, 43, 49 and 55,
bounded by McKean and Vine streets and two of the public alleys, was made by
the school directors from Gen. Orr, for the reasonable sum of $3.500, in
1867-8, the deed for which is dated February 28, 1871.
The contract for building the new or present
school edifice was made between the school board and James McCullough, Jr., in
April, 1868. The building was finished in December following, and accepted by
the school board January 1, 1869. It is a substantial brick building,
eighty-two feet and two inches by sixty-two feet and two inches, three
stories. Hight of ceiling in the first and second stories, thirteen feet, and
seventeen feet in the third story. The roof is hipped, in the center of which
is the belfry, in which is suspended a bell of adequate size and clear,
pleasant tone. The cost of that edifice, substantial outbuildings, 264 feet of
stone wall in the rear, cherry desks and seats and other furniture, maps,
apparatus, bell, lightning-rods, grading, paving walks, iron picket fence,
shade trees and their boxes, is about $26,200, adding to which the cost of the
The basement of the school edifice is
divided into four rooms, each 34 by 28 feet, ceiling eight feet, and arranged
for the introduction of furnaces for heating the entire building. Two of the
four schoolrooms in the first story are each 34 by 28 feet, and the other two
34 by 24 feet. There is the same number of rooms of the same dimensions in the
second story, and one, 34 by 28 feet, partitioned off in the northwest corner
of the third story. The present number of schoolrooms, then, is nine. The
third story was originally designed for a hall for exhibitions and other
public exercises. It will probably be necessary to still further divide it
into three more schoolrooms. The present means of heating the several rooms is
by stoves, and the fuel is bituminous coal. There are five windows in each
room, and sixty-five in the entire building.
The width of the main halls in the first and
second stories is twelve feet, which are intersected on their southwestern
sides by side halls eight feet wide. The width of the stairs in the main halls
is six feet, and in the side halls eight feet. The number of steps to the
third floor is forty-seven.
The average surface of blackboard in each
room is 166 square feet, and the total surface in the building is 1500 square
The school is graded. The number of grades
is eight. The corps of teachers consists of a principal or superintendent, who
is a gentleman of learning, skill and experience, and eight competent and
faithful female assistants. Each grade is under the special charge of one of
those assistants. Those grades are divided into three departments. The last
monthly report for the school year, ending in June last, showed the attendance
to be: in primary department, 259, and the average, 219; in the secondary
department, 73, and average, 65; in the grammar department, 73, and average,
64. In all departments: Total attendance, 405, average attendance, 348. All
the common and several of the higher English branches and the Latin language
The uninviting and uncomfortable condition
of the old schoolhouse begat an unwillingness on the part of many of the
pupils to attend school. Truancy became quite a common offense. Corporal
punishment did not prove effective in checking it. The board of school
directors found it necessary to adopt a rule requiring every scholar who was
absent a certain number of times without written excuses to be suspended -- to
be sent home with his books. Parents, at first, before they understood the
reason and necessity of the rule, were sorely displeased that their children
should be suspended, but when informed why it was adopted, and that those who
had been suspended could be readmitted by obtaining a permit from the
president or secretary of the school board, approved of it and promised that
they would co-operate with the directors and teachers in securing punctual and
regular attendance. The vice of truancy was nearly eradicated by thus bringing
it to the knowledge of parents. The comforts, conveniences, equipments and
attractions of the new schoolhouse and the improved methods of teaching which
have been adopted ;have wrought a favorable change in the inclinations of
pupils in this respect.
An act of assembly, approved April 2, 1821,
provided for and authorized the establishment of an academy or public school
for the education of youth in the English and other languages, in the useful
arts, sciences and literature, by the name, style and title of "the
Kittanning Academy," under the direction and government of six trustees,
viz.: Thomas Hamilton, James Monteith, Robert Robinson, Samuel Matthews, David
Reynolds and Samuel S. Harrison. They and their successors were thereby
declared to be one body politic and corporate in deed and in law, by the name,
style, and title of "the Trustees of the Kittanning Academy," and
they were to be so changed that none of them should remain trustees longer
than three years without being re-elected by the citizens of this county.
Their first meeting was to be on the first Tuesday of September, 1821, at
which they, or a quorum of them -- not less than four-- were required to cast
lots for ascertaining the numbers to be changed, each year, until the whole
number should be changed. Any vacancies thus occurring were to be filled by
the citizens of the county electing two trustees at the general election on
the second Tuesday of October, 1822, and annually thereafter, and in case a
vacancy or vacancies should occur by resignation, death, or otherwise, the
remaining trustees should fill the same by appointment, until the next general
election. That corporation was to have perpetual succession, and was
authorized to sue and be sued, plead and be impleaded, to erect such buildings
as might be necessary, accept and dispose of personal and real property, and
do all and singular the matters and things which should be lawful for them to
do for the well-being of the academy, provided, that the yearly value or
income of the estates or money should not exceed four thousand dollars.
That act or charter, authorized the
appropriation of two thousand dollars out of any unappropriated money in the
treasury of the commonwealth, to be applied under the direction of the
trustees, viz.: One thousand dollars to the erection of a building or
buildings, suitable for the accommodation of the institution, on such lot as
might be chosen or purchased for that purpose, and to the purchasing of books,
mathematical instruments, and the necessary philosophical apparatus; the
remaining thousand dollars was to be place in some safe and productive fund or
funds, and the income to be forever applied, in aid of other revenues, to
compensate a teacher or teachers in said academy. The trustees were required
to give bond to the Government in the sum of three thousand dollars, for the
use of the commonwealth, conditioned for the faithful application of the money
thus appropriated to the purposes mentioned, and leave was given them to cause
to be erected academy building or buildings on any of the lots reserved for
the use of the public buildings in the town -- as it was then called -- of
Kittanning, if they should approve of the situation and judge the same to be
expedient. That act or charter also requires the trustees to exhibit annually
all their books, accounts, and vouchers to the county auditors, to be settled
and adjusted in the same manner as the accounts of the county commissioners,
under the penalty of forty dollars each for neglecting so to do.
ORGANIZATION OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
The first meeting of the trustees was held
on Tuesday, September 4, 1821, at the house of David Reynolds. Present: Samuel
S. Harrison, Samuel Matthews, David Reynolds and Thomas Hamilton. Being a
quorum for the transaction of business as provided in the charter, they cast
lots for determining the length of the term of service of each member of the
board, which was determined by ballot thus: Samuel Matthews and David Reynolds
were to serve until October 1822; Samuel S. Harrison and Robert Robinson until
October, 1823; Thomas Hamilton and James Monteith until October, 1824. Rev.
John Dickey and Eben S. Kelley were elected in October, 1822, and Thomas Bair
and Frederick Rohrer in October, 1823.
The minutes do not show that any meeting of
the board was held after the first one, September 4, 1821, until Friday, April
2, 1824. Then present: Thomas Hamilton, James Monteith, Rev. John Dickey, Eben
S. Kelley, Thos. Blair and Frederick Rohrer. It does not appear from the
minutes that any business was then transacted. Another meeting was, however,
held the same day, at which all the members, except Mr. Dickey, were present,
when Mr. Kelly's resignation was tendered and accepted and David Reynolds
appointed; also Mr. Hamilton's and Samuel S. Harrison appointed; and Mr.
Monteith's and Alexander Colwell appointed. At another meeting, held on the
evening of that day, Samuel S. Harrison was elected president and James Pinks
treasurer of the board, and it was resolved that the trustees execute the bond
required by the charter, which was done on the next day. The bond was soon
after forwarded to the treasurer of the commonwealth, but was returned, May 4,
with the governor's objections. On or about the 10th of that month another
bond avoiding those objections was executed and forwarded to the state
On September 25, 1824, an agreement was
entered into between the board and Samuel Matthews for erecting the academy
building for the sum of $1,130, and an order for $500 was then directed to be
issued in favor of the contractor or builder. On January 15, 1825, the
trustees examined the ground on which to erect the academy and selected the
one-half acre -- as the minutes of the board show -- "on the northeast
end of the public lot," on which the first court-house was situated.
Those minutes do not show that the trustees subsequently changed the location
for the academy from the "northeast" to the southwest end of that
public lot where, fronting on Jefferson street, and nearly opposite what is
now the Walker House and William Gates' store, that academy edifice was
erected. The question of employing a teacher seems to have been first
considered by the board March 27, 1826, when it was unanimously resolved that
it was inexpedient to employ a teacher until the academy building should be
taken off the hands of the contractor, which was not done until February 17,
1827, when, or about that time, a contract was made with Charles G. Snowden to
commence teaching on the first day of April then next, or sooner, whose
compensation was to be $15, quarterly, out of the public money in addition to
private subscriptions. The board was not to be liable for the latter. The
number of students was limited to thirty-five and the rates of tuition were
fixed at $2 per quarter for reading, writing and arithmetic, $3 for English
grammar and geography, and $4 for languages, mathematics, etc. The second
story of the academy building was not finished until the summer of 1834. On
September 2 of that year the board resolved that the upper story should be
occupied exclusively for the schoolroom and for no other purpose, and the
lower story for general purposes. Provision was made by the board, March 17,
1842, for erecting a paling fence in front of the academy and a cupola over
the bell. In that condition, with occasional repairs, that building continued
to be used, the upper story for school purposes and religious and some secular
meetings, and the lower story as family residences, until the spring of 1864,
when the First Christian Church, on Jacob street, was rented for academy
purposes from Samuel Owens and J. E. Meredith at $60 per annum.
To understand why that change as to the
building was made, it is necessary to go back several years in the
chronological order of events. The trustees, it will be remembered, had in the
charter a legislative permission to erect the academy on one of the lots
reserved when the town was laid out for public uses, of which they availed
themselves without acquiring a grant or title from the county. In 1855-6 the
trustees of the academy and the school directors of the common school district
wished to unite the academy and free school into one institution, in which,
besides the common school grades, there should be an academic department and a
normal school department -- the latter to afford facilities for the proper
training of common school teachers in this county. In order to consummate such
a plan, the trustees of the academy realized the necessity of obtaining a deed
of conveyance of the ground on which the academy building was erected and the
adjoining ground which had been used as belonging to the academy. The minutes
of the board of Monday evening, March 10, 1856, show that a resolution,
offered by Jeremiah Heighhold, was passed, directing the writer of this sketch
"to confer with the county commissioners in reference to calling a county
meeting to take into consideration the expediency of the commissioners
executing to the trustees of the academy a deed or quit-claim of the ground on
which the academy building stands." The commissioners, it should have
been stated, were willing to convey to the trustees, provided their conveyance
should be approved by a meeting of the citizens of the county. That meeting
was not called, because the trustees apprehended that not to be an opportune
time to secure an attendance from all parts of the county, and that a large
attendance from and about those points in this county where vigorous efforts
were then being made, and considerable sums of money had been subscribed to
establish normal schools, would be large enough to defeat an expression
favorable to the approval of such a conveyance. Two other conferences - the
first by two and the last by all members of the board -- were subsequently
directed to be had with the commissioners in reference to the same matter.
Whether the Kittanning academy had not acquired by legislative grant and
occupancy a valid title to that portion of the half acre selected by the
trustees as before stated, which the county commissioners had sold in several
lots, agitated the minds of some of the trustees, and there was more or less
talk by them, at several meetings of the board, of instituting proceedings to
try that title, which was not favored by those members who were of opinion
that the purchasers of those lots had acquired good titles thereto. At a
meeting of the board, held August 24, 1858, at which a bare quorum was
present, a resolution was passed, directing that "a writ of ejectment be
brought immediately for the academy property against all persons in
possession," i.e. in possession of the several lots which the
commissioners had sold to Judge Buffington, J. E. Brown and others. Suit was
accordingly brought, tried in the court of common pleas of this county, and a
verdict and judgment rendered in favor of the defendants. The case was removed
by the plaintiff, or the academy, to the supreme court, where the judgment of
the court below was affirmed at October term, 1861. It is reported in 5
Wright, pp. 270-71. The court there held the public buildings of the county to
be "a court-house, the necessary public offices for the conduct of the
business of the county officers, and a jail. An academy is not a public
building within the meaning of the act of assembly. The legislature had in
mind those buildings which are ordinarily used in conducting county affairs.
Nothing more. Churches, academies, schoolhouses, poor-houses and the like are
in some sense public buildings, but they are not what is meant by legislative
language, when, in the erection of new counties, 'public buildings' are
provided for, because they are not indispensable to the conduct of the
ordinary business of the county. This title, therefor, was never held upon any
trust for an academy. * * * Holding the lots, as the county did, for the
purpose of supplying the people with the necessary public buildings, the
academy accepted its license necessarily subject to that paramount trust. The
trustees of the academy were bound to know that their house was not one of the
'public buildings' of the county, and they knew also that if they placed it on
ground devoted specifically to public buildings, the necessary implication of
the license or contract would be that they must quit the premises whenever
they should be wanted for the purposes of the county's public buildings. The
most that can be made out of the license is that it was a contract for quiet
enjoyment during the pleasure of the county. * * * The substance of the
transaction may be expressed in language like this: 'You may place your
academy building on our ground if you choose -- for the present there is room
enough for you and us; but when the time comes for us to occupy all the
ground, or sell it for the purpose of enabling us to build public buildings
elsewhere, you must take yourselves out of possession, for we have neither the
power nor the disposition to devote the ground permanently to any other than
county use.' * * * Still less reason has the academy to claim title under the
statute of limitation, for in the first place it is settled law that public
rights are not destroyed by long-continued encroachments or permissive
trespasses. And in the next place the possession here was not adverse to, but
under and according to the title of the county."
Soon after that decision, the county
commissioners assumed possession of the academy building and ground on which
it was situated, and leased the same for several years. The upper room of the
building was occupied by the Union Free Press company as a printing office,
from April 1, 1864, until January, 1873, when the latter was removed to its
present location in Orr's building, on the north side of Market, below McKean
By the act of April 8, 1851, the
commissioners of this county were authorized to divide the acre lot fronting
on Market and Jefferson street, on which the first court-house, public
offices, and the academy had been erected, in to lots, and sell them to aid in
the erection of new public buildings. That acre was divided into eighteen
lots, fifteen of which were sold July 2, 1852. By the act of March 12, 1872,
the county commissioners were authorized to sell the three unsold lots, in the
occupancy of the academy, on what was called "the old court-house square,
with the buildings thereon," at public sale, with fifteen days' notice of
the time and place of sale, in the newspapers printed in this borough, to
execute deeds therefore to the purchasers, conferring good and indefeasible
title, and the proceeds of the sale were directed to be paid into the county
treasury, and applied toward defraying the expenses of erecting the new jail
and jailer's house. They were accordingly sold May 1, 1872, for the sum of
For years after that Academy went into
active operation, it afforded the only facilities, except those of the
Doaneville Seminary, for acquiring by both sexes a knowledge of such branches
as are usually taught in institutions of that grade, throughout this county.
The minute s of the board indicate that the trustees were careful and
painstaking in securing competent teachers, among whom were Alexander Shirran,*(16)
Rev. J. N. Stark, Rev. Joseph Painter, D. D., and the Rev. E. D. Barrett. Some
of the pupils have honorably distinguished themselves in the learned
professions and in other useful avocations.
Besides the above-mentioned state
appropriation and private subscription of citizens, the academy was the
recipient of a bequest of four hundred dollars, made in the last will and
testament of the late Thomas Hamilton, which was paid in 1836 and 1837,
amounting with interest, after deducting ten dollars collateral inheritance
tax, to $501.35.
All that remains of that academy, designed
to be a permanent instrumentality for advancing the great interests of
education in this region, now consists of its charter franchises, its board of
trustees, and a fund amounting to $4,971.09, of which the sum of $1,813.13 is
loaned to Armstrong county, and the sum of $3,157.96 to the school board of
By the act of assembly, approved March 18,
1858, a very liberal charter was granted for the incorporation of the
University of Kittanning, "for the encouragement, promotion, cultivation
and diffusion of the liberal arts and sciences, literature, law and
medicine" -- "to embrace the departments of a university, grammar
school, a faculty of science and letters, a faculty of law, a faculty of
medicine, and an agricultural school, or any one or more of said
departments," and such other departments as might be deemed necesssary
for such institution. The original charter consists of five articles, in which
are ample provisions concerning the board of trustees, chancellor, professors,
students, and for the regulation of the various departments, and, through a
senatus academicus, for conferring academical, legal, philosophical, or
medical and honorary degrees, diplomas to graduates, and certificates to such
as might have pursued a partial course. The trustees of the Kittanning academy
were authorized and empowered to transfer the funds and convey all the estate,
real, personal and mixed, of that academy to the trustees of the University of
Kittanning, when at least ten thousand dollars should be subscribed to the
funds of the latter, which has not yet been done. The supplement of May 1,
1861, provided, among other things, for the organization of a department for
the education of females, to be called the Young Ladies' Collegiate Institute.
The supplement of March 13, 1868, changed the name to Columbia University,
changed considerably the board of trustees, limiting the number to nine, six
or whom to be chosen by and from the shareholders-at-large, the remaining
three from and by the First Presbyterian church of Kittanning, as follows: the
first to be the active pastor, the second is chosen from and by the session,
and the third by and from the board of trustees of that church. A majority of
the trustees are to be members or communicants of the Presbyterian church in
the United States, whose general assembly met May, 1867, at Cincinnati, Ohio,
or of its legitimate successors. That supplement also provides that all
persons, irrespective of birth, sex, creed, or denomination, shall be
admissible to any class or department, examination, degree, or honor in or of
this institution, without any sectarian test whatever; that all students shall
be freely permitted to attend such church, religious meeting, or worship as
their parents or guardians or their own unbiased consciences may prefer; and
that the pastors of the several churches of Kittanning shall be permitted to
instruct the students of their respective denominations in such moral and
religious culture as they may respectively deem prudent, so as not to infringe
upon the regular hours of instruction in the institution. The name of the
chief officer is changed from chancellor to that of president of the
university. The subscriptions which had been made to the pastor or treasurer
of the First Presbyterian church of Kittanning, for founding and establishing
an institution of learning , were declared to be valid, and required to be
paid to the treasurer of the board of trustees of this university. Various
other modifications of the original charter were made by that supplement --
vide acts of March 18, 1858, March 31, 1859, May 1, 1861, and March 13, 1868.
Departments were organized under the
original charter; also under the last supplement. But as the institution,
notwithstanding the ample provisions of its charter, never had an adequate
pecuniary basis or suitable buildings for a university in these modern times
to make a vigorous and substantial start, its organization, however fair on
paper, was necessarily ephemeral. Although the pupils -- male and female,
adult and juvenile -- numbered one hundred and fourteen for the session
commencing in May and closing in September 1868, all that now remains of that
university is the corporate name, and the liberal franchises conferred by its
Soon after the passage of the
above-mentioned act of March 13, 1868, the Episcopalians of this diocese
determined to establish a college at Kittanning and accordingly took the
necessary legal steps to secure a charter, which was granted by the court of
common pleas of Armstrong county, September 7, 1868. The body corporate
thereby constituted consisted of prominent Episcopalians of Kittanning,
Brady's Bend, Allegheny City, Pittsburgh, Erie, Clearfield, Rochester and
Sewickley. The charter confers upon that corporation the name of Lambeth
College, and, among other usual and necessary powers, the powers to hold
property, real, personal, and mixed, by purchase, gift or devise, whose annual
income shall not exceed $30,000; to confer degrees of bachelors of arts,
science and philosophy, master of arts and philosophy, and the several
academic degrees honoris causa; to award honors in the girls' school in the
form either of certificates or diplomas. The bishop of this diocese is
constituted ex officio the chancellor of the corporation. It is provided that
the college be managed by a board of nine trustees, who must be members of and
in faith attached to that branch of the church catholic known as the
Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. Authority is given to
establish primary, preparatory and academic departments, also departments of
law and medicine, and a girls' school. The object of the corporation, as
declared by the charter, is the promotion of liberal learning on a distinctive
church basis -- the religious instruction to be in accordance with the
Christian faith as held by the last above-mentioned church -- the worship to
be in conformity to the formularies thereof, and daily morning and evening
prayer to be an essential part of the exercises of the college. (Vide Deed
book, Vol 35, p. 385 et seq., in the office for the recording of deeds in this
Since its incorporation until how this
institution has afforded educational facilities in the primary and higher
English branches and the classics to a respectable number of students of both
sexes. The examinations of its pupils and the exhibitions in which they
participated, like those of its cotemporary(sic), the Columbia University,
were creditable to both the teachers and the taught, but, like the latter in
another respect, it has not yet an adequate pecuniary basis and suitable
buildings and equipments for consummating the purpose for which it was
established. Whether either or both of the charters of those institutions
will, during the coming century, be effective in accomplishing the designs of
their originators is a question for some future historian of this county to
answer, and for those who may have the means of placing the one or the other,
or both of those corporations, on a broad and enduring basis to determine.
Ought not both those charters to be fully utilized so as to meet the
educational wants of the dense population with which this valley and this
region will be filled before 1976?
As early as, or perhaps prior to 1820, the
founding of a public library was commenced, to which Thomas Hamilton and
Thomas R. Peters were liberal contributors. Several hundred volumes of
standard historical and other works were contributed by them and others. That
library was kept for several years in the northeast room in the second story
of the first court-house, and was removed thence to the southwest room in the
first story of the academy. After being fully neglected in the latter years of
its existence, the books were finally scattered, and they have thus continued
for more than thirty years in the custody of numerous individuals.
DRAMATIC AND LITERARY SOCIETIES
Between 1840 and 1845 a Thespian society was
organized, consisting of about fifteen young men of the town, whose
performances are said to have been quite entertaining. They were a mixture of
tragedy, comedy and recitations. The society's rehearsals were had and its
exhibitions given in the old oil mill, which had been erected by the late
James Pinks about 1824, on lot No. 66, where the late Charles Cermpstey
afterward erected a steam grist mill, now known as the Briney mill. Their
first public theatrical performance was on Friday evening, November 17, 1843,
when the following plays were, or at least advertised to be, acted: The
Review; Perronation, or Fairly Taken In; Swiss Cottage, or Why Don't You
Marry? Those Thespians are represented not only to have acted tragedy and
comedy well, but some of them to have had a large share of wit. Some of them,
too, were great wags. One of the members, on a certain occasion, was to render
the piece beginning with, "My name is Norvel. On the Grampian
hills," etc. After repeating the first line several times, and vainly
endeavoring to recall what followed, another member, a noted wag and
fun-provoker, assayed to help the declaimer's faltering memory by shouting at
the top of his voice, "What the _____ is your name in America?"
which caused peals of hearty laughter. That incident is akin to one which once
happened in classroom at a noted theological seminary in this country. It was
a certain student's turn to deliver a discourse before one of the professors
and the class. He had chosen for his theme or text the words: "None of
these things move me." He rose, uttered the words of his text, but could
not recall the beginning of his discourse. Several times he repeated,
"None of these things move me, -- none of these things move me,"
when the venerable professor, having become impatient to hear more of the
discourse, with much earnestness exclaimed: "What in the world does move
That Thespian society's existence was not
permanent -- it was ephemeral -- it was not a lasting success. Therefore, I
leave the names even of its stars behind the curtain.
In the winter of 1854 the Literary and
Scientific Institute was organized, with a fair prospect of permanent success.
The number of members was respectably large, among whom were those engaged in
the literary professions and other business pursuits. The meetings for awhile
were well attended. The subjects selected for oral debate, written discussion
and essays were investigated with a commendable degree of thoroughness and
research, and the various exercises were creditable to the industry and
ability of those who participated in them. So long as the generality of its
members felt and evinced a lively interest in promoting the object for which
it was established, it was an effective instrumentality for acquiring
knowledge and enhancing mental culture. A library was founded, the maximum
number of volumes in which was about 250, among which were substantial
literary, scientific and historical works. Nevertheless, the organization, in
the course of a year or two, became extinct, either from the lapse of the
charm of novelty or want of unanimity among its members, or both. The library
was sold at public outcry, and the proceeds of the sale were distributed pro
rata among those who had contributed the means for purchasing the books.
The meetings of that institute were held in
the third story of the brick building on the southwest corner of Market and
Jefferson streets, in the hall of the Sons of Temperance, fronting chiefly on
Jefferson street. The close of its brief career was signalized by the delivery
by the late Alonzo Potter, D. D., the then bishop of the Episcopal diocese of
Pennsylvania, of his masterly and eloquent lecture on the life and services of
Washington, before a large audience in the court-room, on a pleasant April
evening in 1856.
On the evening of November 18, 1867, about
sixteen young and middle-aged men met for the purpose of organizing a Young
Men's Christian Association. On Thursday evening, December 5, 1867, an
organization was effected by the adoption of a constitution and by-laws, which
were subsequently amended. The object of the association was declared to be
the mutual improvement and encouragement of its members in Christian work; the
cultivation of brotherly love and kindness, and Christian charity; to use
their means for the relief of the poor and suffering and their personal
influence for advancement of home evangelization. Its officers were a
president, vice-president, treasurer, corresponding and recording secretaries,
and four standing committees, viz.: executive, finance, lecture, and on
members. Special committees were also appointed as emergencies required. The
various evangelical denominations were, as far as practicable, to be
represented in the appointment of those committees. The officers were elected
by ballot semi-annually. The several committees were appointed by the
The members consisted of four classes --
active, sustaining, life, and honorary. Each active member was required to pay
two dollars annually; each sustaining member, five dollars annually; and each
life member ten dollars at any one time. Active and life members only had the
right to vote. The number of active members who signed the constitution was
91, about 25 others applied and were elected active members; sustaining
members, 2; life members, 3; honorary members, 4. The regular meetings were
held weekly on Thursday evening, except from the first week in October, when
they were held once in two weeks. The places of meeting, until May 21, 1868,
were in the lecture rooms of the First Presbyterian, Episcopal, Methodist
Episcopal, and United Presbyterian churches. Afterward, until regular meetings
ceased to be held, they were held in McConnell's hall, which is in the third
story of the store building on lot No. 5 of the old court-house square,
fronting on Market street, and in McCulloch's hall, second story of the
building on lot No. 7 of the old court-house square, fronting on Jefferson
street and an alley between that lot and lot No. 6 of that square.
The opening and closing exercises of the
regular meetings were devotional. For several weeks considerable time was
spent in revising and amending the constitution and by-laws.
A series of excellent sermons on practical
subjects, were occasionally preached by six clergymen of the different
denominations, in the several churches, on which occasions the usual Sabbath
evening exercises in the churches were suspended, so as to enable the
congregation to hear these sermons. The audiences on these special occasions
were large, interested, and appreciative.
A large number of the constitution and
by-laws and a suitable selection of hymns and psalms used in the devotional
exercises was printed for the use of the members.
A branch relief committee was appointed at
an early period of the existence of the association, upon which devolved the
duty of seeking out the destitute of this borough in order that they might, if
found worthy, receive such aid as could be afforded them by the means at the
disposal of the association. A then unprecedented degree of destitution
existed on account of so many having been thrown out of employment by the
burning of the rolling mill at the lower part of the borough in December,
1867. The aid thus rendered was timely and greatly needed by some who would
have gladly declined it if they could.
About the same time, a special committee was
appointed to devise ways and means for establishing a library and reading
room, which resulted in securing a respectable number of valuable standard
works for the former, which were chiefly contributed by several ladies, and a
variety of magazines and religious and secular papers containing excellent
reading matter for the latter. Both were in due time opened to the members and
the public, but much less extensively used than such reading matter deserved.
Soon after the complete organization of the
association, it was determined to have a series of popular lectures. The first
one was delivered February 20, 1868, by Rev. Alexander Clark, Pittsburgh --
subject, "Creed and Copy;" the second, by Rev. Charles A. Dickey,
Allegheny City, March 10 -- "At Home and Abroad;" the third, by Rev.
Jonathan Edwards, D. D., then president of Washington and Jefferson college --
subject, "The Philosophy of the Fine Arts;" the fourth, by Rev. J.
M. Guiley, Butler, Pennsylvania, at the opening of the new hall, McConnell's,
June 1 -- "The Young Man's Glory;" the fifth, by Rev. Alexander
Clark, November 18, 1869 -- subject, "Common Wonders;" the sixth, by
Rev. George P. Hayes, D. D., President of Washington and Jefferson college,
December, 31, -- subject, "Hunting an Appetite." Prof. Robert Kidd
gave several of his varied and masterly elocutionary entertainments, February
3, March 2 and 3, 1869, and in the latter part of January or fore part of
February, 1870. A free lecture on the Darwinian theory was delivered by Rev.
G. P. Hays, May 1, 1871. The plan for securing audiences was by publishing in
the usual way the time and place of each lecture and entertainment and
trusting to the inclination of the people to attend. At first, the price of a
single admission was twenty-five cents, which was afterward increased to fifty
cents. The total receipts from all these lectures, except the fifth, of which
no account appears to have been kept by either the treasurer or the secretary,
were $208.75, and from the elocutionary entertainments, $300.20 -- from both
lectures and entertainments, $508.95. Through some misunderstanding, the
attendance at the fifth lecture, though a very able one, was so meager that
the receipts did not exceed, if they equaled, the expenses. Net proceeds from
lectures, $108.75; from elocutionary entertainments, $163.30.
In the summers of 1868 and 1869, festivals
were held for the benefit of the association. Each continued for several
evenings. The friends of the association, especially the ladies, in town and
the surrounding country, made liberal contributions of material and of their
time, labor and attention to render those festivals successful. The total
receipts from the first one were $212.70, and from the second one, $65.33;
from both, $278.03. I do not find in the records any statement of the expenses
of the first one. Those of the second were $32.58. The net proceeds of both
were, I judge, about $157.75.
When the association was organized it had an
open field, which for a while it had a fair prospect of fully occupying for an
indefinite period. In the absence of other organizations outside of the
churches for advancing the moral and religious interests of this community, a
large number of young men of different religious denominations, desirous of
uniting on common ground for promoting these interests and their own
improvement, were naturally attracted to it and were actuated by a desire to
make it a permanent benefit to themselves and to society. But as the charm of
novelty wore away, as the interest of some of its members was divided between
it and various other organizations which, about the beginning of its second
year, entered the field to help gather the fruits of good works, and after
some of its most active members had removed to other places, the lively
interest which it had awakened gradually flagged, and its regular meetings
almost ceased to be attended by a quorum. It was sometimes difficult to get a
quorum together for the transaction of urgent business. In June, 1870, the
balance in the treasury was only $1.04, and a considerable amount due for rent
of hall. Notwithstanding such an adverse state of affairs, the few who still
adhered to its interests, determined to institute on a different plan another
course of lectures, to be given by some of the most noted lecturers in the
country, during the winter of 1871-2. The lecturers were selected, and then a
successful attempt was made to sell season tickets, so that the lecture
committee knew, before they absolutely engaged the lecturers, on what
pecuniary basis they could stand. With the encouragement afforded by the
extensive sale of that kind of tickets. the committee ventured upon the
experiment of inaugurating for that season the following course:
December 12, 1871, Daniel Dougherty -- "Oratory."
January 12, 1872, Mark Twain -- "Roughing it."
February 9, 1872, Rev. G. P. Hays, D. D. -- Talk, wise and otherwise."
March 7, 1872, Frederick Douglas -- "Self-made Men."
March --, Felix R. Brundt -- "Indians and Indian Policy."
April 3, Miss Anna E. Dickinson -- "Joan of" Arc. (sic)
The amount realized from the sale of season
tickets was $755, and from single admission tickets, $224.50. Total, $979.50.
Expenses, $636.10. Surplus, $343.40, out of which the back hall-rent was paid,
still leaving a balance of $143.40 to be added to the trifle that was left in
the treasury as above stated.
The committee continued to provide for three more courses, viz:
December 18, 1872, Daniel Dougherty -- "The Stage."
January 3, 1873, S. K. Murdock -- "Select Readings."
January 25, 1873, Mrs. Mary A. Livermore -- "What shall we do with our
February 4, 1873, Rev. A. A. Willetts, D. D. -- "Sunshine, or the
Secret of a Happy Life."
February 21, 1873, Hon. Wm. Parsons -- "Richard Brinsley
March 4, 1873, Miss Anna E. Dickinson -- "What's to Hinder?"
Receipts from season tickets, $586; from
admission tickets, $175.25. Total, $761.25. Surplus $26.95, making the balance
then in the treasury $170.35.
November 27, 1873, Rev. A. Willetts, D. D. -- "The Model Wife."
December 4, 1873, ----- Andrews -- "Dialect Humor."
December 26, 1873, Rev. Geo. P. Hays, D. D. -- "Every-Day
January 28, 1874, Mrs. Mary A. Livermore -- "The Battle of Money."
February 9, 1874, Josh Billings -- "Specimen Bricks."
February 27, 1874, John B. Gough -- "Peculiar People."
March 2, 1874, Frederick Douglass -- "John Brown."
March 26, 1874, Rev. F. A. Noble, D. D. -- "Christian Communism."
Receipts from season tickets, $536; from
reserved seats, $195; from admission tickets, $263.50. Total, $994. Expenses,
$1,112.53, which, deducted from the balance in the treasury at the close of
the last season, still left in the treasury a balance of $51.82.
December 3, 1874, Rev. W. H. Gill -- "William the Silent."
December 14, 1874, Daniel Dougherty -- "American Politics."
January 20, 1875, Grace Greenwood and Mrs. Sarah Fisher Ames --
Impersonations of Various Characters.
January 27, 1875, Rev. A. A. Willetts, D. D. -- "A Plea for Home."
February 8, 1875, Mrs. Mary A. Livermore -- "Concerning Husbands."
March 5, 1875, John B. Gough -- "Man and his Masters."
Receipts from season tickets and reserved
seats, $479.25; from admission, $229.25; from other sources, $62.93. Total,
$771.43. Expenses, $762.40. Surplus, $9.03, which, added to the balance in the
treasury at the close of the preceding season, equaled $60.85 as the surplus
at the close of the fourth and last course of lectures.
These lectures -- those embraced in all the
series and courses from 1868 to 1875 -- evinced ability and research. None of
them were devoid of merit or of ideas, sentiments, and information which are
well calculated to improve, elevate and purify the public taste and morals.
Some of them had a practical bearing upon the affairs and every-day life of
all who heard them. Genuine bursts of eloquence, flashes of wit and humor,
laughter-provoking fun, and rational amusement were, during the several series
and courses, happily blended with the grave matter and useful knowledge with
which they abounded.
As the public interest had evidently begun
to wane even in that branch of the association's work, the committee deemed it
best not to provide courses of lectures for the last two seasons. Alas! all
that remains of that association consists of a few members who would gladly
resuscitate it, if circumstances were auspicious, of some of its furniture, of
a nucleus for a library, and of a small balance in its treasury.
How many more organizations, designed to
enhance moral and intellectual improvement, are destined to rise and fall in
this community? Is some evil Genius hovering over Kittanning to blast all such
The first temperance organization here --
the Kittanning Temperance Society -- was established at a meeting held in the
academy on Wednesday, August 18, 1830, and was auxiliary to the State
Temperance Society, at Philadelphia, by which the temperance pledge of those
times was adopted, which was not to use ardent spirits unless in cases of
bodily hurt or sickness, or provide them for entertainment of friends or
employees, and to discountenance their use throughout the community. How long
and effectively it existed I have not learned, yet, as I have heard, for years
after the public mind in Massachusetts and other states began to be agitated
concerning the enormous evils resulting from the use of intoxicating liquors
as beverages, by Kitteridge, and other apostles of temperance, it was
hazardous for speakers to publicly advocate the cause of temperance and
denounce the use of and traffic in those intoxicants, in Kittanning. On one
occasion, in or about 1836, as the writer is credibly informed, a temperance
speaker was in imminent danger of being mobbed, and would have been if he had
not been protected by several sturdy and resolute citizens who volunteered to
escort him from the place of meeting to his lodgings, at the Temperance House,
then kept by Hamlet Totten, in the brick building on lot No. 128, southeast
corner of Market and McKean streets. Several years afterward, however, the
Washingtonian excitement, which had originated among some confirmed inebriates
in a bar-room in Baltimore, who called themselves Washingtonians, extended to
Kittanning -- the constitution of the Washington Total Abstinence Society was
adopted January 12, 1842 -- and such a change in public sentiment was effected
respecting use of such beverages, that one of the physicians remarked that he
found it to be unsafe, or at least unpopular, for him to be seen carrying a
bottle of whisky even for medical purposes, and one of the hotel-keepers
deemed it prudent for him to temporarily close his bar.
On Thursday evening, January 7, 1842,
delegates from the Washington Total Abstinence Society lectured here to a
large and attentive audience. Their labors were crowned with success. Between
one hundred and two hundred took the pledge, among whom were a goodly number
of both temperate and intemperate drinkers.
That movement was instrumental in
permanently rescuing at least a few from the horrors of drunkenness. The
reformation which it effected in some others was but temporary. The excitement
which it caused, though spasmodic, was wholesome. After it subsided, it was
followed by another organization -- a close or secret order, the Kittanning
Division of the Sons of Temperance, its charter is dated December 23, 1848 --
which flourished for several years, and was effective in both saving and
rescuing a goodly number from drunkenness -- some at least permanently -- and
in helping to make up a correct and wholesome public sentiment. After
prospering, with over a hundred members, for several years, it was dissolved
in 1853 or 1854.
By the act of April 28, 1854, the qualified
voters of this state were authorized to vote at the general election, on the
second Tuesday of October, 1854, for and against a law which should entirely
prohibit the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors, except for
medicinal, sacramental, mechanical and artistical purposes. The vote in this
borough was: For the law, 193; against the law, 113; majority for a
prohibitory law, 80.
An open temperance society was afterward
organized, but was ephemeral.
A juvenile temperance organization, called
the Band of Hope, was effected and flourished for a brief period and expired.
The light of science clearly discloses that the great harm which
liquor-drinking causes to individuals, communities, the state and nation is
done by the nartico acrid poison contained in even those which are pure. That
is what the great chemists tell us alcohol is. The question arises, will the
evils of intemperance be completely eradicated until all parents and teachers
become persistent and faithful in so bringing the light of science to bear
upon the minds of their children and pupils as to show them that it is poison
alone that causes drunkenness, and thus enlighten their understanding and
educate them against its use in any form of a beverage? In this as in other
"Tis education forms the common mind;
Just as the twig is bent the tree's inclin'd"
A lodge of another close or secret order,
the Good Templars, was organized here December 28, 1868, bearing the name of
"Bay Leaf Lodge, No. 654, I. O. of G. T.," holding a legal charter
granted by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. Its constitution required that
"every member shall take a solemn pledge never to make, buy, sell or use
as a BEVERAGE any spirituous or malt liquors, wine or cider; and shall also
promise to discountenance the manufacture, sale and use thereof in all proper
The total number of enrolled members, male
and female, was 206, many of whom were firm in their fealty to the spirit of
the constitution of the order. Some, however, soon wavered, and yielded to the
temptations of the mocking demon that is concealed even in the purest wine
which is "red," which "giveth its color in the cup, which
moveth itself aright, and at last biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an
The "Bay Leaf" bloomed with
varying vigor until it, too, wilted in the summer heat of 1873.
A lodge of the Temple of Honor, or True
Templars, was organized July 9, 1869. Its enrolled members numbered about 90.
The discipline of this temperance order is more rigid than that of the Good
Templars. It is claimed that its members, by their vigilance and concerted
action, thwarted a well-laid plan of the liquor men to prevent this borough
from giving a majority against license to sell intoxicating liquors at the
election of 1873. That lodge was suspended in December, 1875.
That both of those lodges were effective in
doing good while they lasted cannot, I think, be denied. Their decline is but
the fate common to kindred organizations which had preceded them.
An informant who has been cognizant of the
state of affairs in this county for more than half a century says:
"Profanity and drunkenness and horse-racing and fisticuffing were more
prevalent, in proportion to the population, in the forepart of that period
than they are now."
By the act of March 27, 1872, commonly
called the local option law, the question of granting or not granting license
to sell intoxicating liquors as beverages was to be triennially submitted to a
vote of the people of the respective counties of this state. The vote on that
question in this county was taken on Friday, February 18, 1873. The number of
votes in the borough against license was 184, and for it 139; a majority of 45
Since the decadence of the above-mentioned
temperance organizations and the repeal of the local option law, the only
restraints upon the liquor traffic have been the penalties of the present
license law and such checks as public sentiment affords.
SECRET AND BENEVOLENT SOCIETIES
The Masonic Lodge, No. 244, was constituted
March 12, 1850. Its place of meeting was in the third story, fronting on
Market street, in the brick building on the southwest corner of Market and
Jefferson street, on lot No. 126, until it was transferred to the third story
of the brick building on the Southeast corner of Market and Jefferson streets,
on the old court-house square, which is still occupied by the lodge. The
present number of members is 120.
The Orion Chapter of Royal Arch Masons was
constituted in June, 1874, and has about 75 members.
Lodge No. 340, Independent Order of Odd
Fellows, was instituted March 31, 1849. Its charter was surrendered December
5, 1853. This lodge was resuscitated and reorganized August 10, 1857. Members,
100. Its hall is in the third story of the above-mentioned brick building, on
lot No. 126, fronting on Jefferson street.
Echo Encampment, a branch of the Independent
Order of Odd Fellows, was instituted November 19, 1873. Its hall is in the
third story of Orr's building, on Market, third door below McKean street.
Ariel Lodge, No. 688, Independent Order of
Odd Fellows, was instituted in November, 1869. Its hall is in the third story
of McCulloch's building, on the old court-house square, corner of Jefferson
street, and an alley, the first alley below Market street, being one of the
alleys laid out by the county commissioners for the purpose of sale. Members,
Knights of Pythias, Lodge No. 296, was
organized May 10, 1871. Members about 40. Its hall is in the third story of
Orr's building, near the northwest corner of Market and McKean streets.
INDEPENDENT MILITARY ORGANIZATIONS
Besides the companies organized and drilled
under the militia laws of the state, the first independent or volunteer
company organized after the war of 1812 was the Armstrong Guards, whose
organization was maintained until, perhaps, after 1830. There is in an old
Columbian, also in an old Gazette, an order dated June 21, 1828, issued by the
late Isaac Scott, orderly sergeant, by order of the captain, for that company
to parade precisely at nine o'clock A.M., Friday, July 4, then next, at the
court-house, with arms and accouterments in complete order for training, each
member to furnish himself with thirteen rounds of blank cartridges. The
captains of that ancient company were Thomas McConnell, Thomas Blair, John R.
Johnston, James McCullough and John Reynolds. The two last named are the only
ones still living. It was reorganized in 1844, and was ordered to meet for
parade at the court-house at 4 P.M., Saturday, May 23, of that year. The
captains of the latter were James Rowlands, A. L. Robinson and Andrew Mosgrove.
The next company appears to have been the
Independent Blues. The writer has not been able to learn when it was
disbanded. The latest which he has respecting it is an order issued by Hamlet
Totten, orderly sergeant, by order of the captain, dated January 20, 1836, for
the company to parade at the court-house on Monday, February 22, then next, in
complete winter uniform (blue pantaloons, etc.), with ammunition for twenty
rounds of firing. Notice was also given that an appeal would be held on that
day at the Temperance House, then kept by H. Totten, southeast corner of
Market and McKean streets, where absentees might attend, and that new rifles
would be given to such members as then appeared in full uniform.
The third company was the Washington Blues,
which was organized about 1845. Its captain, Wm. Sirwell, and its first
lieutenant, Wilson Colwell, and its second lieutenant, Daniel Crum, were in
the Union military service in the late civil war. Both of these lieutenants
fell in battle, the former at South Mountain and the latter in the Wilderness.
The young ladies of Kittanning, July 4,
1846, presented to that company a beautiful silk flag, at the house of the
late George Reynolds, on Water, between Arch and Market streets. The
presentation speech was made by Philip Templeton, colonel of the 126th regt.
of Pennsylvania Militia, which was responded to by George Rodgers.
The Armstrong Rifles, Capt. F. Mechling, and
later the German Yeagers and the Brady Alpines were organized by Col. Sirwell.
The Yeagers, Capts. Ingles and Cantwell, and the Alpines, Capt. Sirwell, were
consolidated at or shortly before the beginning of the rebellion, and most, if
not all, of their members were in the military service during the war.
The first brass band was organized in 1858,
and consisted of twelve pieces. Its leader was G. A. Schotte. The organization
continued until 1861, when, and in the following year, several of its members
went into the army. A reorganization was subsequently effected by the
accession of other members. That band accompanied the company of three months
men, and afterward Company A, 8th Reserves, to Pittsburgh, and was the first
one present on the occasion of Ex-Gov. William F. Johnston making his first
great war speech from the steps of his residence in that city. It was also in
attendance at the various war meetings held in this county during the
rebellion, for recruiting men for the army. In 1860, there was a schism in the
band, which was caused by some of its members wishing to play for the
Presbyterian, and others for the Episcopal Sabbath school on the 4th of July,
and from which resulted a law suit -- an action of replevin, Henry vs.
Robinson, No. 15, September Term, 1860, for the bass drum, sticks and cymbals,
which were in the possession of and retained by defendant, who adhered to the
Presbyterian side of the controversy. The case was tried and a verdict
rendered for the defendant. By consent, a motion for a new trial was granted,
and discontinuance entered by the plaintiff. Several, if not all, of the
instruments were destroyed by the fire which occurred August 7, 1862. The
present cornet band was organized in November, 1874, and consists of fifteen
pieces. The instruments were partly, if not wholly, ordered from Germany. For
several months after the organization, experienced teachers taught and drilled
the members in the theory and practice of music, and fair progress has thus
far been made.
There have been organized, at different
times, several boat clubs. The last one was the Armstrong Boat Club, organized
in the summer of 1873, and consisted of a goodly number of young men, who
entered into the enterprise with much zest and vigor. They procured a neat,
well-equipped, narrow, sharp-pointed boat, sixty feet long, which they named
the "Alhambra." A regatta occurred between that and a Pittsburgh
club, on the Allegheny river, over the space of about a mile, from and above
the Kittanning bridge, in which the latter was victorious by reason, it is
said, of the breaking of one of the former's oars. These boat clubs, like
various other voluntary organizations that have from time to time sprung up
here, were ephemeral.
Besides the usual and various mechanical
trades carried on in a town or borough, several branches of other manufactures
have been established and prosecuted from time to time and for varying
Hand-wrought nails were manufactured by John
Miller, deceased, from 1811 to 1813; by Alexander Colwell, deceased, in
1814-15, and by Robert Speer, from 1816 till 1825, on lot No. 122, on the
northeast corner of Market and Jefferson streets, excepting that Mr. Speer
occupied lot No. 143, on the northwest corner of McKean street and the public
alley intersecting it, during at least a portion, probably the latter portion,
of the time that he was engaged in the business.
Alexander Reynolds, then a schoolboy, now an
iron-master, employed his leisure hours in assisting Mr. Colwell in making
nails, thus earning six and a fourth cents a day, which he doubtless regarded
as a liberal compensation for his time and labor thus usefully and, because
so, honorably spent, for all useful labor is honorable, in acquiring a
knowledge of a useful art and enjoying the amusement which that employment
afforded him. The iron from which those nails were wrought was transported
hither from east of the Allegheny mountains on pack-horses.
The first foundry was started as an
experiment in 1843, by Adams & Thompson, on the upper side of Grant
avenue, on out-lot No. 25 or 26, nearly opposite to the public alley between
and parallel to Market and Jacob streets. It was operated at first by horse
power, and afterward by steam. About three-fourths of a ton of pig metal was
used per week in making plow-points, the other iron-work of plows, and other
agricultural utensils. Those proprietors, after running it about six months,
sold it to parties by the name of Wann, who ran it about a year, but did not
find it a profitable experiment. The next foundry was connected with the
Anderson & Buffington's foundry went
into operation about June, 1853, and was destroyed by fire in March following.
Its site was on lot No. 206, on the west side of Jefferson street. It was
rebuilt and operated by Mr. Anderson for awhile, then by Anderson &
Buffington. For the last few years it has been operated by Anderson &
Marshall. Its average consumption of pig metal has been about two and a half
tons at each of the three heats per week. Its products are stoves and a
general assortment of iron castings.
Hulings & Robinson's, afterward,
Robinson & Crawford's foundry, went into operation about 1857-8, and
continued until May, 1876, when it was closed by the death of Mr. Robinson,
which occurred in the winter previous. It was situated on lot No. 84, corner
of Arch street and the public alley between, and parallel to, McKean and
Jefferson streets. From three to four tons of pig metal were consumed each
week, in the production of stoves, machinery, and various other iron castings.
An explosion occurred at this foundry September 23, 1870, by which James Kerr,
an employee, was seriously and permanently injured, the building was
considerably damaged, and the boiler propelled with so great force that it
penetrated the brick wall of the then dwelling of Judge Boggs, and was
deposited in the middle of the dining-room, in which no one except his aged
aunt happened to be at that time. She was slightly injured. Had that casualty
occurred half an hour later, the family would have been at dinner, and most if
not all of them would probably have been killed or severely injured.
McCullough's National foundry, on lot No. 240, west side of the lower end of
McKean street, was built and put in operation in 1873. From sixteen and a half
to eighteen tons of pig metal are used weekly in producing stoves and a
general assortment of iron castings.
The rolling-mill was built in 1847, and was
put in operation in January, 1848. The cost was chiefly furnished by the solid
men of Kittanning. The original firm name was the Kittanning Iron Works. Then
in the mutations of ownership the firm names were Brown, Phillips & Co.,
Brown, Floyd & Co., R. L. Brown & Co., Martin, Brickel & Co., and
Meredith, Neale & Titzell. Connected with it were a foundry and nail
factory. The products were common bar, rod, sheet and hoop iron, nails, and
castings. It gave employment, while in full operation, to about 150 men, and
thus afforded support to about 750 persons. Other beneficial effects were a
considerable impetus to the general business of the borough, and an increased
demand and consumption of, and a cash market for, agricultural products. Its
benefits in these respects were sensibly felt while it was in operation, and
the loss of them was sadly realized in the several intervals during which it
was temporarily idle, and since it became, at least thus far, permanently so.
The buildings and machinery were so much injured by fire Wednesday night,
December 18, 1867, that the then proprietors, Martin, Brickel & Co., did
not repair them, but subsequently sold their interest therein to Meredith,
Neale & Titzell, who repaired them, and operated the works until March,
1873, since which time they have been idle. They are now owned by Brown,
Colwell & Mosgrove. There were connected with that rolling mill sixteen
puddling and five heating furnaces, three trains of rolls, twenty-two nail
machines, and one squeezer. Its annual capacity is said to have been seven
The Kittanning Iron Company (limited),
consisting of James E. Brown*(17), James Mosgrove, J. A. Colwell, Henry A.
Colwell and C. T. Neale, of Kittanning, and several Pittsburgh men, associated
under the name and style of Groff, Bennett & Company, organized in
October, 1879, with a capital of $150,000, purchased the property of the last
named firm, and enlarging their facilities, began iron manufacture on an
extensive scale. This company built a large blast furnace, the capacity of
which is at least 15,000 tons per annum. the product of which is in part sold
and in part manufactured by the company into muck bar. New puddling furnaces
were constructed and old ones repaired, until at present (1883) the works
include thirty-three. The company has, besides, all of the machinery necessary
for the manufacture of iron in all its form. The product of the furnace and
the mill reaches a value of about $600,000 per annum. Fully $100,000 has been
expended by the company in the erection of buildings, repairs, purchase of
machinery and in building railroad side-tracks, etc. The company owns several
thousand acres of iron land and leases several thousand more in the Allegheny
valley, in Armstrong and Clarion counties, the ore from which is used without
admixture in their blast furnace. When the pig-iron goes to the puddling
furnace it is mingled with about one-fourth its own bulk or weight of lake
ore. The coke used is also manufactured at works from coal mined in the
About a year after this company began
business they purchased a gas well about three miles west of the works, which
had been struck by parties boring for oil three years before. The gas from
this well was conveyed to the works in 3 3/4 inch pipes, and has since been
the only fuel used in the puddling process. As the flow, which is very strong,
making a pressure of eighty-five pounds to the square inch, has never sensibly
abated, it is fair to infer that it may remain undiminished for a very long
The company gives employment in its furnace,
mill and coal bank to about 400 men, and to about 300 more elsewhere, chiefly
in its iron mines. It is thus carrying on an industry very valuable to
Kittanning and also to other localities in this county and its northern
The facilities for grinding grain were for
many years very meager. At an early day, probably in 1805-6, Abraham Parkinson
fitted up a hand-mill on lot No. 30, fronting Vine and Jefferson streets.
James Gibson also had such a mill somewhat later on one of his lots fronting
on High and Water streets, and still later Michael Truby had one of the same
kind on lot No. 75. For other milling facilities the people were dependent on
the mills on Cowanshannock, Crooked Creek, Rinker's Run and other streams
several miles distant, until the late Andrew Arnold erected a steam grist-mill
on Jacob between Water and Jefferson streets in 1834-5, which continued in
operation but a short time. Charles Cumpsley who had previously manufactured
mowing machines, a large number of government wagons for use in the West and
wheel-barrows for the contractors on the Allegheny Valley railroad, erected
the steam grist-mill, in 1857, on the site of James Pink's old oil-mill on lot
No. 66, which is a two-story brick building, containing two runs of stones,
and which has been for several years past known as the Briney mill. The
Klingensmith or Federal Spring steam grist-mill, brick, three stories, three
runs of stones, was erected on lot No. 3, corner of High and Jefferson
streets, in 1859, and went into operation January 1, 1860. Those two mills
accommodate not only the people of this borough, but of the surrounding
country, especially when the water in the streams is too low, by reason of
drouth, for running water mills.
The first tannery was established by Henry
Worts, probably in 1804-5, on lot No. 30, fronting southwardly on Vine,
between Water and Jefferson streets. The vats and other parts of his tannery
having been seriously damage by high water in the river, he abandoned the
business, disposed of those and his other lots, Nos. 126 and 218, and returned
to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, whence he came. It appears from the assessment list
that John Davison and Henry Jack had tanneries in 1806. That of the former was
on lot No. 6, on the west side and near the upper end of Jefferson street, and
the latter on lot No. 164, on the north side of Jacob, and between Jefferson
street and the public alley, parallel to the latter. Lot No. 248, corner of
Walnut and McKean streets, was assessed that year to William Reynolds, tanner,
who about that time started thereon his tannery. Mr. Davison carried on his
tannery until 1816-17, when he removed to Stoystown; Mr. Jack until about
1830, when he sold to Andrew Arnold, by whom it was operated until 1850, and
then by H. J. Arnold and others until 1855-6; Mr. Reynolds until about 1840.
There was another tanyard on lot No. 170, south side of Jacob, between Water
and Jefferson street, which was operated by A. Boyd & Co. for a year or so
prior to October, 1830, and for a term of years thereafter, i.e., from October
16 in the last-mentioned year, by Joseph Galbraith and John Shields. In
October, 1843, that property was conveyed to Joseph McCartney, who used it as
a tannery until 1862. Stephen B. Young carried on the same business on ground
adjoining Arnold's steam mill for a limited period in 1835-6. John S.
Alexander's tannery was started on lot No. 34, corner of Vine and Jefferson
streets, and continued until 1873-4, when occurred, thus far at least, the
finale of the manufacture of leather in this borough. The products of these
tanneries were sole, upper and harness leather in considerable quantities.
Before the spinning of yarn and thread was
cheapened by machinery, or, as some good old ladies would say, before pianos
were substituted for spinning wheels, the business of the wheelwright was a
necessary and important branch of manufactures. In 1804 lot No. 90, on west
side of McKean, next but one below Arch street, was assessed to James
McElhenny as wheelwright, but not afterward. It was carried on by George Clark
in 1809 and perhaps later, by Daniel Morrow in 1812-13, by Robert Robinson,
Sr., for awhile, by Thomas Clyde from 1813 until 1817-18, by James Richart in
1819, as appears from the assessment lists. James McCullough, Sr., settled
here in 1820, and soon entered into that branch of manufactures, on or near
that part of lot No. 127 where the First National Bank is located. In the
course of a few years he had three shops in different parts of the borough, in
which that kind of wheels was made, to the making of which he added that of
chairs. After his retirement from the business in 1862, it was conducted for
several years by his son Alexander, on lot No. 167, northeast corner of Jacob
and McKean. D. B. Heiner, who learned his trade with the elder McCullough,
also carried on the manufacture of spinning-wheels, on both sides of
Jefferson, near Arch street, from 1822 until 1854, exclusive of several years,
during which he was engaged in mercantile business.
In the Columbian of June 21, 1828, is an
advertisement of John Clugston, in which he stated, among other things, that
he had "commenced the manufacture of eight-day and thirty-hour brass
clocks, in the frame building next door to Thomas Blair's office," which
was on lot No. 122, on the north side of Market, a little above Jefferson
street, and opposite the old Register's office. He. however, made none of the
thirty-hour and but five of the eight-day kind. Those which he did make were
the long-case corner clocks, one of which was purchased by John Mechling,
which is now owned by J. E. Brown; one by James McCullough, Sr., who still
keeps it in good running order, the cost of both clock and case being $40; one
by the late David Reynolds, which is still in the dining-room of the Reynolds
House, but it has not been kept in running gear for several years; one by the
late James Monteith, which became the property of his daughter, the late Mrs.
Dr. John Gilpin, and was removed by Dr. Gilpin, several years before his
death, to his homestead in Cecil county, Maryland, and the remaining one by
the late James Matthews, which was sold with his other effects after his
death. Mr. Clugston's part of the work consisted in making, polishing and
fitting the different parts of the machinery, and adjusting them to the
dial-place, which he did in such a way as to be creditable to Kittanning
artisanship. There are attachments to those clocks showing the day of the
month and the phases of the moon.
The first carding machine was operated by
Richard Graham, and then, in 1822, by Robert Richards, on lot No. 59, now
owned by David Patterson, on the east side of Jefferson street and on the
south side of a public alley between, and parallel to, Arch and Vine streets,
probably not longer than a year or two, for, in 1823-5, he was assessed as a
schoolmaster, and shortly afterward, for a year or two, as a surveyor.
The next carding machine, with fulling-mill
and spinning machinery, was operated by Hugh Fullerton, on lot No. 51, on east
side of Water street near the mouth of Truby's run, in 1855, and continued to
operate the same until the fall of 1860, when he sold to J. Kennerdell &
Co., who extended the business by manufacturing jeans, blankets, flannels and
cassimeres, producing daily about 100 yards of those articles. The machinery,
etc., cost $4,000. In the fall of 1863 the machinery was transferred to the
three-story brick building known as the Iron Store, on lot No. 145, on Water
street and the public alley between and parallel to Market and Jacob streets.
It soon after changed hands. J. E. Brown and J. B. Finlay became largely
interested in the factory. Large accessions were made to the machinery,
costing $70,000 to $80,000. The products were flannels, blankets and
cassimeres, amounting to about 500 yards a day. The number of employees was
about fifty. With occasional stoppages, it continued to be operated the last
few years of its existence by Goodell & Co., until Wednesday morning,
March 25, 1874, when it was destroyed by fire, which originated, it is
supposed, in the engine-room. It was insured for a considerable amount, the
claim for which, or a part of it, is in litigation. How long before, or
whether ever, it will be rebuilt is questionable.
It is said that lightning strikes the same
spot but once. Be that as it may, fire sometimes ravages the same locality
more than once. On the site of that factory a three-story brick building was
erected prior to 1820, in which resided, for several years, John Brodhead,
deceased, who was a son of Gen. Daniel Brodhead, who was the commandant of
Fort Pitt in 1778-9. This house was, twenty or more years after the death of
that descendant of Gen. Brodhead, occupied by Rev. Joseph Painter, and
Thursday night, November 14, 1844, was destroyed by fire, which subjected him
and his family to such loss and inconvenience as such disasters usually
occasion. Hence, the trustees of the academy gave him the use of the lower
story of their building until April 1, 1845, and elected him principal.
In the spring of 1837 the late John S.
Watson began the manufacture of farm, road and Dearborn wagons, chaises,
buggies, sulkies, barouches, gigs, sleighs, etc., at the corner of McKean and
Jacob streets, near Isaac Scott's pottery, and continued it a few years.
About 1842, L. C. Pinney commenced the
manufacture of buggies, carriages and sleighs, on lot No. 142, on the corner
of two public alleys, which was afterward continued by Pinney & Combs, and
by Pinney & Son until 1860, on the opposite corner on the old court-house
square. It was subsequently carried on by Croll & Myers, in the old
schoolhouse building on Jacob, between McKean street and the public alley
parallel, thereto, and it is now conducted there by J. F. Keener.
The manufacture of threshing machines was
commenced by Henry Rush in 1849, and it is still continued, averaging about
twelve per year.
In 1866, the first and as yet the only
planing mill in this borough, was put in operation by the Heiner Brothers, on
lot No. 86, corner of Arch street and Grant avenue, which was removed to their
new brick building on lot No. 10, on the west side of that avenue, in1874. The
average quantity of lumber used annually is about one million feet. The
products are worked and rough lumber, door, sash, moldings, brackets, window
and door frames, shutters, mantels, palings, and the various kinds of scroll
work. The machinery consists of planers, molders, scroll and circular saws,
morticers, and tenon-machine, which are worked by steam.
In 1873 the manufacture of machinery, of
brass work, and the repairing of engines, boilers, and threshing machines,
etc., was commenced by George M. Read, on lot No. 103 on the east side of
McKean street and the public alley between and parallel to Arch and Market
streets. The machinery was worked by steam, and continued in operation until
the building was destroyed by fire, on the morning of Saturday, November 27,
1875, since when this distinctive branch of manufactures has ceased, except so
as it is carried on in connection with foundries.
The manufacture of hats was carried on by
different individuals, from at least as early as 1804 until 1858, when it
The manufacture of cabinet-ware was
commenced in 1807-8, and is still continued, though much of the furniture sold
by the cabinet-makers, for some years past, has been purchased from large
manufacturing establishments elsewhere.
The number of tailors has increased with the
increase of population from 1803-4 until now. Of late years they have
generally been merchant tailors, keeping on hand assortments of cloths,
trimmings, and ready-made clothing, but still making many suits to order from
their own stock or from material furnished by their customers.
The number of shoemakers has been, since the
laying out of this town, commensurate with the wants of its population.
Several of this class of tradesmen have, for several years past, combined with
their manufacture of boots and shoes the purchase and sale of the ready-made.
So that boot and shoe makers' shops have, in some instances, been expanded
into large boot and shoe stores.
The manufacture of tinware, with was from
1823 until recently a branch by itself, is now connected mostly with the
The business of silversmith, i.e., repairing
watches and other chronometers, was introduced here in 1820-1. For most of the
time since then, there have been at least two establishments therefor, which
of late years have kept more or less extensive, varied and suitable
assortments of clocks, watches and jewelry -- made elsewhere.
The milliners, in addition to what they make
themselves, have, for a number of years past, kept supplies of articles in
their line, purchased in the great marts of trade.
It appears from the assessment lists, that
the following trades and occupations began to be exercised here thus: Cooper,
in 1808; weavers, 1811-12; saddle and harness-maker, 1815; gunsmith, 1821;
tinner, etc., 1823; barber, confectioner, 1833; millwright, grocer, butcher
and dentist, 1843; plowmaker, 1834; windmill-maker, stone, cutter, 1844;
baker, 1848; brewer of lager beer, marble-cutter, 1849; pump-borer, druggist
or apothecary, 1831; bookseller, lumber-merchant, 1853; livery stable-keeper,
1856; banker, broker, restaurant-keeper, 1856-7; daguerrotype ------;
photographer, 1863; bookbinder, 1871; undertaker, 1873. Several of these
branches of business may have been commenced earlier than the assessments
lists indicate. What used to be called strong beer was brewed, on a small
scale, between 1820 and 1830, on lot No. 75, on Water street. There was an
interval of several years between the cessation of brewing this kind of beer
and the beginning of the brewing of lager beer. Daguerrotyping has been
substituted by photographing. The rest of these branches of business, with a
few exceptions, are still carried on -- most of them have been extended to
meet the increasing wants of the community.
The number of stone and brick masons,
plasterers and carpenters has, from the first, kept pace with the increasing
demand for their labor. Much of the carpenter work formerly done by hand is
now done by machinery; especially that of planing, molding and carving. House
painting became an established branch of business here at a somewhat later
period, and the number of those now engaged in it has increased. Since 1858,
there has been a marked change for the better in the style of buildings; an
improved architectural taste has been evinced in most of the edifices since
The first pottery was started by John Black,
according to the assessment list, in 1814. Lot No. 215 was then assessed to
him, which is on the southeast corner of McKean and Mulberry streets. The next
year lot No. 202, on the opposite side of McKean, being the third lot above
Mulberry street, was also assessed to him. Afterward, from 1816 to 1818
inclusive, he was assessed with lot No. 184 only. He seems to have commenced
the pottery business on the first named, and to have closed it on the last
named lot. He occasionally taught singing-school in his own house. Portions of
McKean street were then quite swampy, and the frogs were so numerous that it
was called "Frog street." A common expression, when they were
croaking near his residence, was, "There's Black's singing-school."
The pottery manufacture was resumed by the
late Isaac Scott, on lot No. 184, on the west side of McKean street, being the
third lot below Jacob street, in 1822, in which he was succeeded in 1846-7 by
George Buyers, who carried it on until his death, which was caused by the
accidental discharge of his gun that was lying on the bags of grain in his
wagon, behind which he was walking on his way to the mill near the mouth of
the Cowanshannock, in the summer or fall of 1849. His successors were George
Gabel, John M. Dosch and John Volk. The last-named retired from the business
in 1863. After Mr. Scott ceased to operate the pottery, it was probably
transferred to lot No. 190, which was assessed to George Buyers until his
death; while lot No. 184 was assessed from 1847 to 1851-2 to Benjamin
Blanchard, as a windmill-maker. The products of the pottery were chiefly
Plows were manufactured, on a limited scale,
by Francis Dobbs, on lot No. 136, west side of Jefferson, between Market
street and the public alley parallel thereto, in 1843-5. Adam Cook was
assessed as a plow-maker in 1844.
Brickmaking must have started, not exactly
within the borough limits, but just "over the border," or northern
limit, opposite out-lot No. 3, as early at least as 1805, for articles of
agreement were made February 22, 1806, whereby Andrew Goody leased to Paul
Morrow his "brick-yard and land appurtenant, situate just above the town
of Kittanning" -- which some of the oldest inhabitants distinctly
remember was in the locality above indicated -- for one year from that date,
"together with all the clay already dug, the molding tools, two spades,
one ax and a wheelbarrow." Goody also agreed to repair the roof of the
shed and permit Morrow to carry away the casing of the kiln and any cordwood
that might remain after the bricks were burned. For all which Morrow agreed to
pay Goody, his heirs or assigns, the sum of $30 on the 1st day of November
then next, and the further sum of three shillings and sixpence for every cord
of wood then cut. It does not appear from any endorsement on that lease, or
any other accessible source, whether that lease was continued for a term or
terms running through the three or four subsequent years. But it does appear
from the county commissioners' records that Paul Morrow furnished 189,000
brick for the first court-house, in 1809-10. The piece of land on which that
brick-yard was located contained two acres and sixteen perches, and was one of
the "two fragments or pieces of land" which James Armstrong, of
Carlisle, Pennsylvania, conveyed to Robert Brown for $130 by deed dated
October 18, 1809, and which the latter, for $500, by deed dated January 1,
1813, conveyed to Robert Stewart, who supplied this town with brick therefrom
until 1827. He was one of the very few marked "colored" on the
Kittanning assessment lists. His complexion, it is said, indicated that he was
of African descent, but his hair did not, so that he was regarded by some as a
Portuguese. His successor in that brick-yard until 1830 was John Hunt, who was
followed by James Daugherty, deceased, and William Sirwell, Sr. The latter
there erected the first dry-house and made the first pressed brick in this
county, in 1851. Since then, that ground has been used for other purposes.
One-fourth of an acre of it was conveyed to John W. Rohrer and wife, by deed
dated April 1, 1852, for $250. Another quarter of an acre in the rear part of
it has been covered with water, winter and summer, since it was excavated,
making a pond which does not dry up at any season of the year and affords a
considerable supply of good ice in the winter, and has no visible inlet or
The manufacture of brick was carried on, at
different points within the borough limits, at different periods, from 1838-9
until 1866, by the above-mentioned James Daugherty, and then by John F.
Nulton, H. D. & G. B. Daugherty, and, perhaps, some others, until 1866.
The Avenue Brick Works, on out-lots Nos. 20 and 21, are owned and operated by
G. B. Daugherty, with which are connected a dry-house capable of holding 6,000
bricks, and two kiln walls, etc. Their present capacity is equal to the
manufacture of 4,500,000 bricks per annum.
The annual product of the various kilns has
varied from 100,000 to 1,000,000 bricks.
In the Gazette of February 17, 1836, is a
call for a meeting of the citizens of Kittanning and vicinity to be held in
the grand jury room on Saturday evening, the 27th of that month, for the
purpose of forming a Mechanics' Savings Fund Company. The call also stated
that drafts of a constitution and by-laws would be submitted. That meeting was
held and the company organized.
At a meeting of the directors March 16,
1836, a resolution was adopted requiring the members of the company to pay
into its treasury respectively five dollars on Saturday, the 26th then
instant. As that institution is one of the things of the distant past, readers
may be interested to know who the officers and directors of that first banking
company in this borough were. From the papers of those times they appear to
have been: William F. Johnston, president; William Matthews, secretary; Joseph
M. Jordan, treasurer; Frederick Rohrer, Nathaniel Henry, Francis Dobbs, Hugh
Campbell and Archibald Dickey, directors.
The stockholders were almost exclusively
mechanics. There is but a faint recollection of this financial institution
left in the minds of even those who were its stockholders. I have not been
able to obtain a copy of its constitution and by-laws or access to its
records, so that I cannot state the amount of stock subscribed, or that of
each share, or how long it continued in operation. I am, however, informed by
one of the stockholders that stock was paid up and some loans made, but to his
surprise it was determined at one of the meetings of the officers or managers
to close -- wind up the affairs of the company -- which was accordingly done,
and the amount of stock which each had paid, together with its earnings, was
refunded. It was not, of course, clothed with banking powers and privileges,
but was intended to afford without them some of the facilities incident to
banking institutions. My informant suggests that opposition to it originated
among the merchants, because it afforded its members facilities for loaning
money with which they purchased such goods as they needed in Pittsburgh or
elsewhere. Another cause of its discontinuance, suggested by another
informant, was, according to his best recollection, dissatisfaction among such
of its members as could not be accommodated with loans when they wanted them.
For several years after 1836 there was a
great, a distressing scarcity of money here as well as everywhere else in this
country. So general was the dearth of currency that merchants and other
business men in Kittanning and other places reluctantly resorted to the
issuing of scrip or "shin-plasters," as they were called, as a
medium of small change or currency. The following is a copy of one of those
No. 275 "50 CENTS. .50
Received by the KITTANNING SAVINGS COMPANY
from R. Cunningham, on deposit, Fifty Cents, which is
payable to him or bearer, on demand, in current
BANK NOTES OF THE CITY OF PITTSBURGH,
With interest, at one per cent per annum, by A. Colwell,
R. Robinson, P. Mechling, J. E. Brown, G. Monroe, and
T. McConnell, or either of them, when presented in
sums amounting to five dollars.
(Signed) "P. MECHLING, President
"R. Robinson, Treasurer.
"Kittanning, 1 June, 1837
Though the paper-promises, of one of which
the foregoing is an (attempted) copy, were not as widely and universally
current as is the present United States scrip or fractional currency, they
nevertheless were very convenient in those truly hard times as a means of
exchange, or as small currency here, and where the solvency and reputation of
the promisers were known.
A number of citizens of this borough
inaugurated a movement for the establishment of a bank here in 1844, as
appears from their notice, dated June 27, that they would apply to the
legislature at its next session for the incorporation of the Armstrong County
Bank. That application did not prove to be successful.
By the act of May 5, 1857, the Kittanning
Bank was incorporated, with a capital stock of $100,000 and the right to
increase it to $300,000, to be divided into shares of fifty dollars each; to
be organized, managed and governed as provided by the general act regulating
banks, approved April 16, 1850; and to pay a bonus of one per cent of the
amount of its capital stock into the state treasury. Its charter is dated June
24, 1857. It was duly organized and commenced business in August, 1857, in a
small brick office adjacent to the present building, on lot No. 127. Its
capital stock was $200,000. During the general bank suspension of specie
payments in 1857-8 it continued to pay specie. It was one of the very few that
did not suspend. In those times bills of banks were not readily received out
of their own states or vicinities. During that general suspension the writer
had occasion to purchase a railroad ticket in Cleveland, Ohio, but had with
him only bills of the Kittanning Bank, which the ticket agent at first refused
to accept, requiring bills of such banks as were in his own state, but on my
assuring him that that was a specie paying bank, and that it had never
suspended, he receded from the stand which he had taken and sold me a ticket.
Soon after the passage of the National Bank
act the First National Bank of Kittanning was organized, but did not then,
viz., August 21, 1863, or until 1867, commence business. An attempt having
been made to establish a Second National Bank here, the Kittanning Bank, being
then a state bank, was changed to a national bank, July 2, 1866, so that until
the next year, when the latter was closed or wound up, there were two national
banks, under one management, in operation. Since then the First National has
been the only one of that kind in operation here. Its capital is $200,000.
The Allegheny Valley Bank was established in
April, 1872. It is not incorporated, but is rather a copartnership, with
individual liability. It is not a bank of issue, but of deposits and loans.
Its capital stock is $100,000. It is located in the Reynolds block, on lot No.
All of the banks in Kittanning have thus far
done a safe business, their customers or depositors not having lost a dollar
through failure or insolvency of either of them.
By an act of April 2, 1853, the Kittanning
Insurance Company was incorporated. The number of corporators specified in the
charter is twenty, any five of whom were authorized to be constituted
commissioners, who, at any time within one year from the passage of that act,
after giving two weeks' notice in one or more newspapers printed in
Kittanning, to meet and receive subscriptions to the capital stock, which is
to consist of 1,000 shares at $50 each, and to be paid in as the directors
might determine, and which could be increased at any time to 10,000 shares of
$50 each. This corporation is authorized to take risks on the mutual plan or
otherwise against fire; to effect marine and inland insurance on vessels,
cargoes, freights, etc.; also to make insurance on the lives of persons and
animals; to invest the capital stock and other moneys of the company, or
intrusted to it, in bonds, notes, mortgages, ground rents, judgments, stocks
and loans of the United States and Pennsylvania, and in other good securities,
and to sell, transfer and change the same, and to reinvest the proceeds
thereof in such other bonds, notes, etc., whenever the directors may deem it
expedient, but it is not authorized to engage in the business of banking. The
directors must annually declare a dividend of so much of the profits as they
may deem advisable, which is to be paid to the respective stockholders,
according to their rules and regulations, and annually publish a full and
accurate statement of the condition and affairs of the corporation.
The company was duly organized, and it has
ever since been doing more or less business in investing its stock and other
moneys, and but little, if any, in insuring either property or lives. Whether
it will, after this year (1876) engage in the latter branch of business
remains to be seen. There have been established here for some years past
several efficient agencies, representing a considerable number of fire
insurance companies of this and other states.
The Kittanning Gas Company was incorporated
by the act of March 13, 1858, which gave to that corporation the exclusive
authority to supply this borough and its vicinity with gaslight. The capital
stock is limited to $20,000, and each share to $50. The penalty for using the
gas without proper authority is not less than $20 or more than $80, and for
injuring the works a fine not less than $100 and not more than $500, or
imprisonment not less than ten days and not more than one year, or both, at
the discretion of the court. The managers are authorized to issue certificates
of credit or evidences of indebtedness not exceeding $15,000 at any one time,
for the purpose of aiding in constructing the works and managing the business
of the company, no certificate to be for a less sum than $50, the payment of
such certificates to be secured by a general mortgage upon the real estate and
all the effects of the company; and makes the stockholders jointly and
severally liable individually for all debts due mechanics, workmen and
laborers employed by, and for material furnished to the company to the amount
remaining unpaid on each share of stock held by the respective stockholders.
By Act of April 15, 1859, the Armstrong Gas company was incorporated with the
exclusive right and authority to furnish this borough and its vicinity with
gaslight; the capital stock to be $50,000, and each share $25; the company to
be organized and governed as provided in the general act of incorporation of
gas and water companies of March 11, 1857. All acts and parts of acts
conflicting therewith were repealed. A company was organized and commenced
building their works on the lot on the southwest corner of Water and Walnut
streets; a house was erected and the ground prepared for constructing the
gasometer, in 1860-1, but the embarrassment of the chief stockholder, who
resided elsewhere, prevented the completion of those works, and the company's
property was subsequently sold under the sheriff's hammer. The act of February
25, 1860, repealed the above-mentioned act incorporating the Armstrong Gas
Company, and the act of March 25, 1859, which was a supplement to the act
incorporating the Kittanning Gas Company, and provided that the last-mentioned
company should commerce practical operations within six months from the
passage thereof. By the act of February 25, 1868, the above-mentioned
supplement was revised, and the provision requiring the last-mentioned company
to commence operations within six months was repealed. Thereupon the present
Kittanning gas company was organized May 14, 1868, and erected their works,
gasometer, etc., in the spring and summer of 1872, on lot No. 197, northwest
corner of McKean street and the public alley between and parallel to Jacob and
Mulberry streets, and commenced the manufacture of gas in July, 1872. On a
certain night in that month, after the gas had been distributed, every
building, private and public, into which it had been introduced was
illuminated with its light free of charge, which was, of course, a cheerful
and brilliant entree of this changed mode of illumination. Besides the
borough, which has by contract with the gas company, forty-four posts and
street lamps distributed along the streets, there are one hundred and
thirty-seven paying consumers. The aggregate length of the main pipes for
distributing gas is a fraction over two and a third miles, which from three to
six inches in diameter, and are laid from three to seven feet below the
surface of the ground in various streets. Those works cost $31,000. On
Thursday November 25, 1875, a fire occurred there, caused by the bursting of
the gas-pipe, which, it was feared, would cause a general explosion and
conflagration. So serious a disaster was prevented by shutting off the gas
from the large tank, and by the prompt, resolute and well-directed efforts of
the manager, Wm. B. Kerr. The loss thus occasioned was about $1,500, which was
nearly, if not entirely, covered by insurance.
By act of March 12, 1866, a charter was
granted to the Kittanning Water Company for the purpose of introducing pure
water from any stream in this county into this borough. The capital stock is
$50,000, divided into shares of $50 each. The company was to be organized,
managed and governed as provided by the general act of March 11, 1857,
providing for the incorporation of gas and water companies. The charter gives
this company the right to enter upon and take possession of any lands or
inclosures, streams or water within this county for effecting its purposes, on
filing bond as required by that general act to cover all damages assessed
therefor. The company is also authorized to borrow any sum of money not
exceeding $20,000 and issue bonds at such rates of interest as may be agreed
upon between the parties, each one not to be for a less sum than $100. Letters
patent were issued May 17, 1871, and the company was organized June 7, next
following. Within the ensuing seven months the water works were completed and
the water was turned into the pipes January 10, 1872. The number of paying
consumers is 354. The reservoir, with a capacity of 35,717 barrels, is located
in the upper part of the field east of the street and road extending past the
court-house and jail into Valley township, 190 feet in hight above Water,
Jefferson and McKean streets, giving a pressure of eighty pounds to the square
inch, to which water from near the bottom and middle of the Allegheny river,
through a pipe extending from along the bed of the river beneath the public
alley between and parallel to Arch and Vine streets, by steam pumps located on
lot No. 58, on the south side of that alley and adjacent to the southern bend
in Truby's Run. The reservoir, if empty, can be filled in forty-five hours.
The main pipes are iron, four-six, and ten inches in diameter, and laid from
three and one-half to four feet below the surface along all the streets, their
aggregated length being four and one-half miles, besides 3,500 feet of
six-inch rising main extending from the pumps to the reservoir and 600 feet of
ten-inch suction main extending from near the middle of the river to the
pumps, which, with the engine, are in a brick structure erected therefor.
MERCANTILE AND PROFESSIONAL
Although most of the merchants still keep a
variety of such goods as belong to the different branches of mercantile
business, there has been for some time a growing change in this respect, so
that there are now four large drug stores, whose trade is confined to drugs
and such other articles as are usually kept by druggists. The trade in
hardware, groceries, provisions, books and stationery has become more distinct
from other mercantile business than it formerly was.
The professions of medicine and dentistry
are more distinctly and numerously represented than was heretofore the case.
The legal profession remains in statu quo in
regard to the choice of specific branches of legal business by the respective
members of the bar, such as is so often made in large cities. Each
practitioner still continues to take charge of cases in courts of law, in
courts of equity and in criminal courts, without making any particular branch
a specialty. A few are overburdened with their mixed business, while others,
some at least, for lack of opportunity to develop, are comparatively
briefless. Notwithstanding the increased facilities for traveling, the
presence here of distinguished members of the bars of some of the adjoining
counties, during our court weeks, is far less frequent than was the case when
the usual mode of locomotion was on horseback. In those times, when the
general business in the courts in this and in those counties was lighter than
it now is, but when there were more of important land titles to be tried than
there have been for several years past, there was many an able, brilliant and
vigorous contest before court and jury, in which those foreign and our own
resident lawyers zealously participated; and there was, too, many a pleasant
social gathering out of court, which was not barren of genial flashes of wit
and humor and good feeling.
In 1859, a town hall, brick, two stories, 50
by 32 feet, was erected for $1,000, under a contract between the borough and
Charles B. Schotte. The rear part of the lower story is used for keeping the
fire-hose, hose-carriages, etc. The front part of that story is used as the
chamber of the town council, and the post-office. The upper story was for a
while used for public meetings and a school-room, but of late years it has
been occupied as the printing-office of the Armstrong Republican. This hall is
situated on the northeast corner of Market street and an alley, on the old
In 1872, a grain elevator, frame, 100 by 60
feet, 25 feet high, was erected by J. A. Gault & Co., on the east side of
Grant avenue, on out-lot No. 22. Though owned by a private company, it is, on
the score of general convenience to the agricultural class, at least, a
quasi-public building. It has a capacity for holding or containing about
70,000 bushels of grain. The largest number as yet stored in it at any one
time is 36,000 bushels.
In 1874, an opera house was erected by a
joint-stock company, on leased ground, on the upper part of lots Nos. 128 and
133, on the southeast corner of Market street and a public alley between it
and the Avenue House. It is a frame building, the main or front part,
containing the parquet, dress circle and gallery, is 60 by 49 feet, with a
hight of ceiling varying from about 16 to 25 feet. Its roof is what its
builders call a drop-Gothic. The rear part, containing the stage,
dressing-rooms and scenery, is about 24 by 20 feet, with a less hight of
ceiling than the main part. The acoustic properties are very good, bating
(sic) the ringing noise made by movements on the floors and stairs, on which
are but single layers of boards. If they were so modified as to deaden the
sound caused by foot-falls upon them, and the building were otherwise
finished, the comfort and satisfaction of the audiences that assemble in it
would be greatly enhanced. Its cost, including that of some well-painted
scenic representations, is $6,000.
The first ground used for interring the dead
within the borough limits consisted of lots Nos. 61, 67, 73 and 79, on the
east side of McKean, between Arch street and the public alley next north of
the last-mentioned street, forming the square now owned by James Mosgrove and
John Gilpin. Dr. James Armstrong, the former owner, appropriated those lots to
be used as a burial-ground.
Few interments, however, were made therein.
Some, it is said, were made by mistake on the public alley bounding them on
the east. Upon the representation made by the inhabitants of this town that if
those lots should be occupied as a burial-ground, the water with which the
people were supplied, owing to the sandiness of the soil and the elevation of
these lots, would be materially adulterated, the legislature passed an act
March 19, 1810, authorizing and empowering the commissioners of Armstrong
county, after giving four weeks' notice in The Farmer's Register, printed at
Greensburg, Westmoreland county, in one of the newspapers in Pittsburgh and by
written or printed advertisements put up in six of the most public places in
Armstrong county, one of which was to be on the court-house door in the town
of Kittanning, of the time and place of sale, to sell the above last-mentioned
four lots for the highest and best price that could be had therefore, to
execute deeds to the purchaser or purchasers on payment of the purchase money,
and to immediately apply the money arising therefrom to the purchase of other
more eligible ground to be occupied as a public burial-ground for the
inhabitants of this town and its vicinity, which was to be taken and
considered in lieu of those four lots.
A few residents of this town were buried in
the grave-yard on Pine Run, on the west side of the Allegheny river, now in
East Franklin township.
A part of the field east of the public road
extending from the head of Market street past the court-house and jail, now
owned by Mrs. J. F. Nulton, was used for a while as a burying ground. Among
the interments made in it was that of the remains of Robert Duncan, a former
proprietor of a part of the Manor, and a brother of Thomas Duncan, deceased,
one of the former justices of the supreme court of this state.
The location of the next cemetery is on
out-lot No. 2, which, and out-lot No. 4, were purchased by Joseph McClurg at
the fist sale of the town lots for $93. Mr. McClurg and Anne, his wife, by
their deed dated July 13, 1808, conveyed the former to Paul Morrow for $100.
As the money arising from the sale of the above-mentioned four lots was not
sufficient to purchase out-lot No. 2, some of the inhabitants of this town and
of other places subscribed and paid the requisite amount. Whereupon, the
commissioners having agreed to appropriate the proceeds of the sale of those
in-lots to the purchase of that out-lot, Paul Morrow and Lydia, his wife, by
their deed, dated September 21, 1818, conveyed it to the commissioners of this
county, viz.: Isaac Wagle, David Reynolds and Joseph Rankin and their
successors in trust for the use of the inhabitants of the town of Kittanning
and its vicinity, and of the grantors for their purchase money for a public
burying-ground for the sum of $130. Thomas Hamilton made this, among other
bequests, in his will: "One hundred dollars to aid in putting a neat
substantial board or post and rail fence around the grave-yard lot in or near
the said borough." That lot was unfenced for several years after it began
to be used for burial purposes. There probably never was such a fence around
it as specified in Mr. Hamilton's will, as no credit for the payment of that
bequest was claimed by James Hamilton, the surviving executor of that will, in
his final and only executorship account, which was approved by the proper
court September 16, 1839. It was, however, applied toward defraying the
expense of building the present brick wall around that lot, which was done by
John F. Nulton in 1842. That bequest and a portion of the amount subscribed
was all that he received. The quantity of land contained in that lot is
according to the assessment list of 1804, one acre, one rood and ten perches.
It was never laid out in walks and roads, and it has been beautified by
shrubbery to only a limited extent.
The company having control of this cemetery
was incorporated by the proper court March 18, 1844.
The first catholic cemetery is located in
the rear of St. Mary's church, on High street. One of the new ones, laid out a
few years since, is on the high ground in Valley township, a mile and
three-quarters in an air line northeast from St. Mary's church, and about one
hundred and seventy-five rods east from the river. The other -- that of the
German portion of the congregation -- is about 200 rods northwest of that
church, on land purchased from James Patrick, in Valley township.
By act of February 18, 1853, a charter was
granted to a corporation styled "The Kittanning Cemetery," which
contains ample provisions for its perpetuity and for effecting the purposes
for which it was constituted. The corporators are, at least once every year,
to meet to fill vacancies that may occur in the corporation. The minimum
number of members is restricted to seven, and the maximum to twenty-one, who
must be lot-holders. The officers are five managers, a president, secretary,
and treasurer, who must report their proceedings and the state of the finances
at the annual election, on the first Monday of June, and whenever a majority
of the corporators may require. The corporators or managers are authorized to
purchase any quantity of land, not exceeding twenty-five acres, within five
miles of the borough of Kittanning, for the purpose of the cemetery; to lay
out, ornament, divide, and arrange it into suitable plats and burial lots; to
allow the remains of persons buried elsewhere to be reinterred therein; to
preserve and replace head and foot stones, tombs, obelisks or monuments, to do
all other things necessary and proper to be done to adapt the ground to the
purposes of a cemetery; and to sell the lots and burial plats in fee simple or
otherwise, for the purpose of sepulture, to individuals, societies, or
congregations without distinction of sect or creed, under such rules and
regulations as the corporators may establish for the government of
lot-holders, visitors, and burial of the dead. The lots cannot be used for any
but burial purposes and are free from taxation, levy or sale, under any
process against the grantees and holders thereof of the corporation. It is
also provided that the corporation may hold as much personal property as may
be necessary for its purposes, and that a fund be created out of the proceeds
of the sales of burial lots to be invested in judgments or mortgages, the
income therefrom to be applied to the improvement and perpetual maintenance of
the cemetery in proper order and security; that at least ten per cent of the
purchase money of all burial lots be set aside for these improvements and the
creation of that perpetual fund; and if the managers or corporators fail to
perform the duties devolved upon them, they shall be subject to the control of
competent judicial authority for correction. The penalty for opening any tomb
or grave in this cemetery, without the consent of the corporation, and
clandestinely or unlawfully removing, or attempting to remove, any body or
remains therefrom, is imprisonment in the county jail or the western
penitentiary not less than one nor more than three years, and pay a fine of
not less than one hundred dollars, and for wilfully destroying, mutilating,
defacing, injuring, or removing any tomb, monument, obelisk, gravestone, or
other structure in the cemetery, or any fence or railing or other work for the
protection or ornament of the cemetery or any lots therein, or for cutting,
griddling, breaking, injuring or destroying, or removing any tree, shrub, or
plant therein, or for shooting or discharging any gun or firearms within the
limits of the cemetery, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and on
conviction be subject to a fine of not less than five nor more than fifty
dollars, and be imprisoned at the direction of the court from one to six
months. No street, lane, or road can be laid out or made through the lands in
the cemetery without the authority of the corporation, and such lands are
exempt from taxation. The corporators or managers can borrow any sum of money,
not exceeding five thousand dollars, and issue therefor the bonds of the
corporation, each not to be less than one hundred dollars.
The first meeting of the incorporators was
held July 23, 1857. The Board was duly organized and officers elected.
Subscriptions were soon after solicited for the purpose of securing suitable
ground for the cemetery. On or before August 17 of that year the subscriptions
thus obtained amounted to $3,285. On January 23, 1858, an agreement was made
between Franklin Reynolds and the cemetery company for the sale and purchase
of fifteen acres and four perches of land in Valley township, but adjacent to
this borough, surveyed by James Stewart and J. E. Meredith, September 23,
1857, for the sum of $3,000. On the payment of the purchase money in full, Mr.
Reynolds and Mary Jane, his wife, executed their deed therefore, dated May 20,
1864, to the cemetery company or corporation. The site is eligible for such a
purpose, being on elevated ground sloping northwestwardly, southeastwardly and
southwestwardly, and but a few rods from the northeast corner of the borough
limits. Grand, Centre, North, South and Crescent avenues are each thirty-three
feet, the Holy Cross avenue is sixteen feet, another unnamed one is ten feet
wide. The width of the walks in three of the sections is three, and of all
other internal walks four feet. All the regular lots in seven of the sections
are each 10 X 15 feet, all in four of the sections are each 16 X 16 feet, and
those in one of the sections are each 16 X 17 feet. The entire number of lots,
regular and irregular in shape and size, is 1011, besides eight others which
appear on the draft or plot to be laid out, but not numbered. The number of
lots in the various sections that have been sold is 248, at prices varying
from $20 to $150 per lot, amounting to nearly $15,000. In 1875-6 the company
expended fully $2,000, as I am informed by the secretary, in building stone
wall on each side of the westerly entrance, stone steps, paved stone gutters
or water-ways, etc. Evergreen and other kinds of trees and shrubbery have been
extensively and successfully planted. Considerable money has been expended and
much fine taste displayed on various lots by their respective owners; so that
this cemetery is, year after year, becoming a more and more beautiful city of
In proportion to the length of time since
those several cemeteries were laid out, the number buried in them is not
large, which, in connection with the fact that there are now within the
borough limits seventy-five persons over the age of sixty, a goodly number of
whom are over seventy and eighty years of age, is good evidence of the
salubrity of this region. Although this, as well as other places along the
river, is subject to dense fogs, they are not such as generate chills, or
fever and ague. So dense are they sometimes that it is impossible to see
objects quite near, and for experienced pilots to keep their boats in the
channel. Their great density may be conceived from this incident: Many years
ago Philip Mechling, William Reynolds and Daniel Reichert, when they were
young men, being on the west side of the river, attempted to cross over to
this side at night through one of those fogs. Their attempts were several
times thwarted by their boat striking the shore on that instead of this side
of the river. They finally succeeded in crossing by following the direction of
some noise on this side. Each thought, after landing, that he could reach his
home without difficulty. But Mr. Reynolds, who lived in the lower part of the
town, became so bewildered that he wandered about, unable to find his house,
until the fog began to clear away early in the morning.
Since the close of the war of the rebellion
the comely and grateful custom of strewing the soldiers' graves in those
cemeteries with flowers has been annually observed, on some occasions by large
multitudes of people of this borough and vicinity, and by appropriate and
patriotic addresses on decoration day, which by act of assembly has been made
a legal holiday.
THE TOWN IN 1876
The number of public buildings, dwelling and
business houses this centennial year is estimated at 530, a large portion of
which are substantial brick edifices, a respectable number of which, as well
as some frame ones, are elegant and costly.
The mercantile appraiser's list shows the
number of wholesale and retail dealers for this year to be fifty-seven, viz.:
In the 14th class, 41; 13th class, 8; 12th class, 3; 11th class,3; 4th class,
1. One of those in the 8th class was exonerated from paying license because he
had not been engaged in the mercantile business since the 1st of May.
Population -- In 1810, 309; in 1820, 318; in
1830, 526; in 1840, 702; in 1850, 1561; in 1860, 1696; in 1870, 1889. The
number of taxables in 1876 is 580, which, at the rate 4 3/5 persons to a
taxable, makes the present population 2,628. The number of the different kinds
of mechanics is adequate to the wants of the community. There are 9 licensed
hotels. One of the stores does a large wholesale as well as retail business.
The mode of transacting business, as in many other Pennsylvania towns, is
quiet. The amount thus done here would make far more show and bustle in places
of equal or even of less size in some other states.
GEOLOGY OF THE LOCALITY -- MINERAL SPRINGS
Ferriferous limestone of a gray or blue
color, 14 to 16 feet thick, not containing many fossils, underlies this
borough. Its fragments cover the river banks; it sinks under water level below
the southerly limit of the borough. It is seen on Mr. Reynolds' farm, one mile
north, where the Kittanning coal is twenty feet above it. On the Nulton land,
north of the court-house, it is four feet thick, and is divided by a thin
slate about one foot from the top; a short distance south, it is from two to
two and a half feet thick, and below the rolling-mill two feet and ten inches
thick, whence it gradually sinks beneath the river-level.
The strata, compiled from around Kittanning,
indicate as follows, descending, i.e., from the surface of the high ground to
Slaty sandstone, 35; red and variegated shales, 15 feet; brown shales and
argillaceous sandstone, with nodules of iron ore and bands of aranaceous
limestone, 45 feet; limestone, blue, black, sandy, 12 inches; coal, not
always present, 6 to 9 inches; olive shales and slaty sandstones, 25 feet;
brown shales, 25 feet; upper Freeport coal, 3 feet; blue, compact shale, 10
to 15 feet; Freeport limestone, 5 to 6 feet; shale and sandstone, 30 feet;
lower Freeport coal, 4 feet, sometimes thinned away; brown and black shales,
25 to 30 feet; coal, 6 to 15 inches; fine clay and shales, 25 feet; iron
ore; ferriferous limestone, 12 to 14 feet.* (18)
The forgoing features are to be taken in
connection with such as are presented in the sketches of Manor, Valley and
East Franklin townships.
The passing remark may here be made, that as
that part of the report of the second geological survey of Pennsylvania
relating to this county, under the charge of Prof. Lesley, has not yet become
accessible, the writer is limited, in presenting the geological features of
this and other portions of this county, to the able and extensive report of
the first geological survey of our state, under the charge of the late Prof.
Rogers, and to such developments as have casually and more recently occurred.
While Anderson and Marshall were excavating
a piece of ground for a foundry, in June, 1876, next below outlot No. 27, on
the upper side of Grant avenue, below and opposite the head of Jacob street,
they developed a ten-inch vein of excellent iron ore, a stratum, several feet
thick, of blue limestone of a superior quality, and a mineral spring.*(19) The
water of this spring is agreeably cool and very clear, except when some vis a
tergo forces it up more rapidly and copiously than usual through divers
apertures in the bed of the spring, when the sediment is disturbed and the
water is temporarily roiled. Analyses of that water by able and experienced
chemists and the opinions of learned physicians clearly indicate that it
contains valuable medicinal properties. The following are the analyses:
1. By Drs. David and Myron H. Alter, of Freeport,
"Reaction slightly acid; gravity, 1.002.
"Sulphate of lime in one pint
............................................ 15 grains
"Sulphate of magnesia in one pint ................................... 1
"Carbonate of iron in one pint
.......................................... 4 "
"Substances not determined in one pint ......................... 1
"The proportion of iron in this water being greater than in that of the
it is therefore a better chalybeate -- the Bedford containing only 1 1/4
grains in a pint.
The gas being held in solution by carbonic acid renders it a most valuable
tonic -- a grain
of it being equal to at least ten grains as found in the shops."
2. By Dr. F. A. Genth, chemist of the Geological
Survey of this state, and
professor of chemistry in the University of Pennsylvania, in accordance with
the request of Prof. Lesley, chief geologist:
"Calculated in grains for one gallon of 231 cubic inches:
"Sulphate of alumina
Sulphate of ferrous oxide ...........................................
Sulphate of magnesia .................................................
Sulphate of lime ...........................................................
Sulphate of soda
Sulphate of potash
Phosphate of lime
Bicarbonate of lime
Bicarbonate of manganese .............................................
Chloride of sodium
Prof. Genth's is manifestly a very elaborate
and minute analysis, such as can only be made by so extensive and complete an
apparatus as there is in that university. Both analyses show that the water of
this spring contains an unusually large percentage of iron and magnesia,
which, combined with other ingredients, make it a valuable "alterative
and tonic,"*(20) effective in removing "gastric troubles caused by
indigestion," and in curing those complaints "arising from an
impoverished condition of the blood,"*(21) as intimated by some of our
It is noticeable that a pint of this water
contains, by Dr. Alter's analysis, four grains of iron, and a gallon of it, by
Prof. Genth's, 24.49271 grains, denominated by the former "carbonate of
iron," and by the latter "sulphate of ferrous oxide." Whether
the iron ingredient is a carbonate or a sulphate, it is manifestly very large
-- much larger than in any other known spring in the world. A gallon of the
Ballston Spa, New York, contains of iron 5.95 grains; Lebanon Springs, New
York, 3.25 grains; Congress Springs, Saratoga, 3.51 grains; Capon Spring No.
1, West Virginia, .041 grains; Capon Spring No. 2, West Virginia, .052 grains;
Buffalo Lithia Spring No. 1, Virginia, .500 grains; Buffalo Lithia Spring No.
2, Virginia, .300 grains; Buffalo Lithia Spring No. 3, Virginia, 3.774 grains.
One of the merits justly claimed for the
waters of those springs is that they are tonic. Such is the deliberate
conviction and candid opinion of learned and experienced physicians who have
carefully studied their medicinal properties and observed their effects.
Granted that they are tonic, it must be granted that the water of the
Kittanning spring is, a fortiori, tonic. An eastern physician*(22) of close
observation and several years' successful practice, in a letter to the present
writer, says after examining the analyses of the last-mentioned spring:
"I have by me analyses of all the springs of any note in the world. It
(the Kittanning spring) is by far the richest in iron, magnesia, lime
sulphates, lime bicarbonates and phosphate of lime of any other mineral spring
of which we have any analysis. * * * This one in your place exceeds them all
for the tonic properties which the water contains. * * * The effect of the
water prepared in nature's laboratory is much more efficacious than that
prepared by art. * * * In all cases where a tonic, alterative and exhilarating
effect is needed I think you have just the water to produce this."
An eminent physician*(23), in an article
respecting the medicinal properties of the water of the Buffalo Lithia
Springs, of Mecklenburg county, Virginia, in the Virginia Medical Monthly,
says: "It may be said, however, of all mineral spring waters, that
analysis can never reveal the combinations upon which their efficacy depends;
in fact, the very process of analysis may break up combinations formed in the
laboratory of nature, which the best skill of the chemist can never detect,
and which may impart to them their most valuable properties."
About thirty-five yards from that spring is
another, which was covered four or five feet deep while excavating as above
mentioned, the water of which is quite acid, which, mixed with sugar, made a
drink tasting like lemonade. It probably contains sulphuric acid in solution.
The elevation or level above the Atlantic
ocean, at the top of the curbstone, northwest corner of Market street and
Grant avenue, is 809.94 feet. -- (Pennsylvania Second Geological Survey, N.)
THE PURCHASE OF 1768.
No. XLI of London Documents, published soon
after the making of the treaty of 1768, contains the entire deed then
executed, establishing the boundary or purchase line. Various good and
prudential reasons and considerations are given in the preamble or recitals
why such a line should be established. The grantors in that deed were the
Sachems and chiefs of the Six Confederate Nations, and of the Shawaneese,
Delawares, Mingoes of Ohio, and other dependent tribes. The grant,
consideration and boundaries are in these words:
"Now, therefore, know ye, that we, the
Sachems and chiefs aforementioned, native Indians or proprietors of the lands
hereinafter described, for and in behalf of ourselves and the whole of our
confederacy, for the considerations hereinbefore mentioned, and also for and
in consideration of a valuable present of the several articles in use amongst
Indians which, together with a large sum of money, amount in the whole to the
sum of ten thousand four hundred and sixty pounds seven shillings and
threepence sterling, to us now delivered and paid by Sir William Johnson,
Baronet, His Majesty's sole agent and superintendent of Indian affairs for the
northern department of America, in the name and on behalf of our sovereign
Lord George the Third, by the grace of God," etc, "the receipt
whereof we do hereby acknowledge: We, the said Indians, have, for us and our
heirs and successors, granted, bargained, sold, released and confirmed, and by
these presents do grant, bargain, sell, release, and confirm unto our said
sovereign Lord King George the Third all that tract of land situate in North
America, at the back of the British settlements, bounded by a line which we
have now agreed upon and do hereby establish as the boundary between us and
the British colonies in America, beginning at the mouth of the Cherokee or
Hogohege (Tennessee) river, where it empties into the river Ohio, and running
from thence upward along the south side of said river to Kittanning, which is
above Fort Pitt, from thence by a direct line to the nearest fork of the west
branch of the Susquehanna, thence through the Allegany mountains along the
south side of the said west branch until it comes opposite to the mouth of a
creek called Tiadaghton,*(24) thence across the west branch along the south
side of that creek and along the north side of Burnett's Hills to a creek
called Awandae, thence down the same to the east branch of Susquehanna and
across the same and up the east side of that river to Oswegy (Owego), from
thence to Delaware river and up that river to opposite where Tianaderha falls
into Susquehanna, thence to Tianaderha and up the west side of the west branch
to the head thereof, and thence by a direct line to Canada creek, where it
empties into the Wood creek at the west of the carrying-place beyond Fort
Stanwix, and extending eastward from every part of the said line as far as the
lands formerly purchased, so as to comprehend the whole of the lands between
the said line and the purchased lands or settlements, except what is in the
Province of Pennsylvania, together with all the hereditaments and
appurtenances to the same belong," etc. It was sealed and delivered, and
the consideration paid in the presence of William Franklin, governor of New
Jersey, Frederick Smith, chief justice of New Jersey, Thomas Walker,
commissioner of Virginia, Richard Peters and James Tilghman, of the council of
Pennsylvania. It was executed at Fort Stanwix November 5, 1768, in the
presence of Sir William Johnston by Tyorhansere als Abraham for the Mohawks,
Canaghaguieson for the Oneidas, Seguareesera for the Tuscaroras, Otsinoghiyata
als Bunt for the Onondagas, Tegarria for the Cayugas, Guastrax for the
Among other descriptions of the Purchase
Line of 1768 is the following, by Chief Justice Agnew, in Poor vs. McClure, 77
Pa. St. Reports, p. 218: "Part of the western and southwestern boundary
lines are thus described in the treaty of 1768: 'To the said west branch of
the Susquehanna, then crossing the said river and running up the same on the
south side thereof to a fork [canoe-place on the old and Cherry Tree on the
recent maps] which lies nearest to a place on the Ohio [Allegheny] called the
Kittanning, and from said fork in a straight line to Kittanning aforesaid, and
then down the said river Ohio by the several courses thereof to where the
western boundary of said Province crosses the same river, and then with the
said western bounds to the south boundary thereof, and with the south boundary
thereof to the east side of the Allegheny hills,'" etc. He further says:
"The treaty of October 22, 1784, is for the land within the state lying
west and north of the purchase of 1768, and is bounded eastward by the line of
the treaty of 1768, reciting it by quotation in the language just given."
The commissioners on the part of the United States on that occasion were
Oliver Wolcott, Richard Butler and Arthur Lee, and Cornplanter, and Red Jacket
were the most prominent of the Indian chiefs. The former was in favor of, and
the latter opposed to, peace. La Fayette, who was present and advised them to
keep the peace, to rely upon the clemency of the American people, to sell
their lands only to those who were the duly authorized agents of Congress, and
to abandon the use of intoxicating liquors, says that Red Jacket's speech in
favor of war was "a masterpiece, and every warrior who heard him was
carried away with his eloquence." The treaty was not signed until after a
long conference, one of the conditions of which was, that six hostages should
be immediately delivered to the commissioners, to remain in possession of the
United States until all the prisoners, white and black, which had been taken
by the Senecas, Mohawks, Onondagas and Cayugas, or by any of them, in the
revolutionary war, from among the citizens of the United States there, shall
be delivered up.
* - Footnotes
1. Heckwelder was Moravian missionary among the Lenni Lenape of
Delaware and other Indians, chiefly those in Pennsylvania, from 1762 until
1814, during which period he traveled about twenty-six thousand miles. He is
undoubtedly reliable authority, judging from the mention made of him in one of
works in the Philosophical Department of the Historical Society of this state.
Henry R. Schoolcraft, who was well versed in Indian customs and languages,
says: "The inquiries into the Indian languages under the directions of
Mr. Heckewelder evince more severity of research than had before his time been
bestowed upon the subject." Schoolcraft's kinsman, Francis W. Sherman,
who was one of the writer's class and room mates at Hamilton College, informed
the writer that his distinguished relative was partly, on his mother's side,
of Indian extraction. Sherman could, as he did on the occasion in the presence
of his class, make an impressive speech in the Oneida language, with which he
had become familiar in his boyhood. Hence, the writer thinks that Heckewelder
may safely be taken as reliable authority for the etymology and meaning of
words in the Lenni Lenape language.
2. Gordon's History of Pennsylvania.
3. See note at close of chapter, which contains a full account
of the treaty by which this line was established.
4. Since married to Melchin B. Chaplin.
5. He was the first court crier in the county.
6. David Barclay, James E. Brown, J. A. Gettys, John Gilpin,
Edward T. Golden, Henry J. Hays, Jos. R. Henderson, J. M. Hunter, J. H.
McCain, W. Mechling, Jackson Boggs, Jas. R. Scale, Barclay Nulton, Grier C.
Orr, Willis Patton, Darwin Phelps, H. F. Phelps, Jefferson Reynolds, John V.
Painter, John W. Rohrer, Robert W. Smith, W. Martin and James Stewart.
(Since Mr. Smith wrote the foregoing James E. Brown, John V. Painter,
Darwin Phelps, Jackson Boggs and W. Martin have died, as has also the writer,
whose name is included in the list. In addition to the names given the bar
includes (in 1883) G. S. Crosby, Joseph and Orr Buffington, Ross Reynolds,
Jr., Alex. Reynolds, Clark Austin, D. B. Heiner, Jr., M. F. Leason, R. S.
Martin, D. L. Nulton, W. L. Peart, Calvin Keyburn, Finley P. Wolf, J. F.
Whitworth and R. R. Ivory. -- EDITOR)
7. T. H. & T. M. Allison, H. K. Beatty, J. G. Cunningham,
C. J. Jessop, T. C. McCulloch, W. W. Smith (homoaopathist), and W. H. Stewart.
8. James McCullough, Sr.
9. Vide pages 99 and 100.
10. Thomas McConnell
11. Christopher Oury
12. Rev. G. A. Reichart preached his farewell sermon to his
congregation in the Methodist Episcopal church, Sabbath, December 17, 1837 --
in English in the forenoon, and in German in the afternoon. He had accepted a
call to become pastor of a German Lutheran church in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, after visiting once more the several congregations then under
13. In a postscript to a letter from his sister, Mrs. Robert
Morris, to their mother, dated March 15, 1777, she said: "Billy has been
told that the Congress appointed him their chaplain when in Baltimore, but has
not yet heard it from them, and begs it may not be mentioned."
14. Bishop Potter, in his annual address or report to the
sixty-third annual convention, held in St. Andrew's church, Philadelphia,
1817, said: "I delivered an address and laid in a beautiful position the
corner-stone of a new edifice for St. Paul's church, Kittanning."
15. Mrs. Watson
16. A part of Mr. Shirrans' system of school government was by
a sheriff whom he appointed from among his scholars, one of whose duties was
to look up absentees, and, in case they had not permission from parents or
some valid excuse for their absence, to arrest and bring them into school. It
is said that truants had great dread of Shirran's sheriffs, one of whom was
the late Thomas S. Torney, who took great delight in apprehending such
17. The company has remained unchanged, with the exception of
the removal by death of James E. Brown. His interest was taken by the other
members of the company.
18. Rogers' Geology of Pennsylvania
19. This spring is really in Manor township.
20. Dr. J. G. Cunningham.
21. Dr. W. H. Stewart
22. Dr. D. E. Smith, New York.
23. Dr. M. H. Houston, Virginia.
24. It was questionable for several years after that
treaty, whether Tiadaghton was Pine creek, now in Tioga county, or Lycoming
creek, the next considerable branch of the Susquehanna to the eastward. While
there was doubt as to which of those two streams was meant, it was not prudent
for settlers to occupy west of the latter creek. That vexed question ought to
have been settled in the negotiations between the Pennsylvania commissioners
for treating with the Indians and the six confederated tribes of Indians,
effected at Sunbury, Pennsylvania, October 12, 1784, when Capt. Aaron Hill, on
behalf of the Six Nations, declared to the commissioners: "With regard to
the creek called Teadaghton, mentioned in your deed of 1768, we have already
answered you and again repeat it, it is the same you call Pine creek, being
the largest emptying into the west branch of the Susquehanna." Which
declaration Samuel Kirkland, missionary, and James Dean, interpreter,
certified as having been made by Hill on that day. (Pennsylvania Archives.) It
is stated in 2d Smith's Laws, page 195, that the Indians declared at Fort
Stanwix, in October, 1784, that Pine creek was meant by Tiadaghton, which is
recognized as the boundary in the Indian deeds of October, 1784, and January
1775. Nevertheless the act of December 21, 1784 rescinded the powers given to
those commissioners, and maintained the view taken by the proprietaries that
Lycoming creek was the boundary line in the purchase of 1768, so that
settlements on land between those two streams were unlawful. That act,
however, declared that those who had made actual settlement there prior to
1780, and had made an application and tender of purchase money prior to
November 1, 1785, on account of "their resolute stand and sufferings
during the late war, " should be allowed the right of pre-empting tracts,
respectively, of not more than three hundred acres, that is, not a greater
quantity than that in any one tract. Those provisions of course ended the
exercise of the functions of the fair play men, who were a
self-constituted tribunal, established in that doubtful district to decide all
controversies and disputed boundaries, from whose "decision no appeal was
allowed, and it was enforced by the whole body, who rose up en masse on the
mandate of the court to carry their decree into execution."
Source: Page(s) 105-155, History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania by
Robert Walker Smith, Esq. Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883.
Transcribed January 2001 by James R. Hindman for the Armstrong County Smith
Contributed by James R. Hindman for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy
Armstrong County Genealogy Project Notice:
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