From some old newspaper articles we can gather a reasonably correct idea of Greensburg as it existed shortly after it was incorporated. The first census, in 1810, gives the population as 685. The census of 1790 is very imperfect, and gives the population of Greensburg with Hempfield township, for it was then not incorporated. The census of 1820 gives the population as 770, showing an increase of eighty-five people in ten years.
The houses of the county seat were very common structures in that age. Most of them were built of logs, and but few were frame or weather-boarded structures. A few of the early houses were built of stone, but they did not generally date back as far as 1800. The old banking house of the Westmoreland Bank, for instance, which was thought to be one of the oldest buildings in Greensburg, was built of stone, but was not erected until 1805. On the other hand, the stone part of the house on West Otterman street and Harrison avenue, which was at first used as a tavern, was built in 1796. Nearly all of these old landmarks have been rebuilt in such a way that scarcely anything of the original structure now stands. Thus, the hotel at the corner of Pittsburgh and Main streets, opposite the court house, know now as the "Fisher House," and known long ago as the "Drum House," contains in its present superstructure nothing of the original building. A part of the foundation, it is said, is the same as the one which supported the old building, and which, if standing, would be perhaps the most historic landmark in Greensburg. It was the house in which the commissioners of the United States and the state officials were entertained during the Whisky Insurrection. At that time it had a clapboard roof, and had for a sign a large painted figure representing General Nathanael Greene. It is said that at that time nearly every house in Greensburg was set back in the yard, and were far apart, so that from almost any section one could look through between the houses and into the broad green fields beyond. East of Greensburg, on the hill entering the town and by the side of the old road, which was the main turnpike going east and west, was the principal business street of the place. Along it were always collected crowds of idle men and boys to see the big teams coming up the hill, and to hear the wagoners swear and crack their whips. Where the road crossed Main street were two taverns, a store, and the county buildings. Among the first buildings on Main street were taverns, which from time to time were kept by numerous old citizens. Many of the high officials of that date, or smaller county officers, if they came from office without much money, forthwith engaged in the tavern business, which did not require much capital, and seemed to suit them quite well. The number of inns in that day was large in proportion to the number of villagers. The people from all the county, however, came here and sought entertainment, which gave rise to more public taverns. The building above the court house, latterly owned by the Armstrong heirs, was called the Dublin Hotel. In front of it was an archway, and the wagoners drove their teams through it to the yard beyond. Between the lower house on Main street and the German burying ground there was a common upon which the boys of an early day played ball. At that day, too, nearly every citizen of Greensburg kept a cow, and this was a convenient place for them to pasture and spend the night. On the western side of Greensburg, now one of the most populous sections, there were but two or three log houses. Ludwick Ottoman was an old Dutchman who owned the farm now owned by the Seaton Hill Academies, afterwards known as the Stokes farm and still later a the John Jennings farm. It also included most of the land upon which the town of Ludwick is built. His log house stood near the place where the Stokes residence was afterwards built. It was entered by a double door, hung one above the other like a stable door. He was extremely homely in his dress and make-up, generally wearing a red flannel coat, a round-about made from a woolen blanket. Later came a better house on the summit of "Bunker Hill," which was made of frame, and was lathed and plastered on the outside. It was known as the Bushfield Tavern. Near by was a blacksmith shop. Indeed, every tavern had near it a blacksmith shop, for horse-shoeing was one of the leading industries of a wagon town in those days, and the creaking of the bellows might be heard from early morning until late at night. On Main street, where the Zimmerman House now stands, stood the house of the renowned lawyer, John B. Alexander. The Zimmerman House is yet the original structure, with a south end added on Main street, a third story on the entire building, and an addition extending along Second street. Nearby lived Judge John Young, in a house opposite the present Methodist Church building on Main street, now occupied by the Masonic Hall and the Troutman stores. Dr. Postlethwaite, the eminent physician of Greensburg, resided in a house opposite the Zimmerman House, now known as the Mace property. Judge Coulter, then one of the leading lawyers, lived in a house standing where the First National Bank and Huff building now stand.
From the local newspapers of that day a few items of interest may be gleaned. In the Gazette of November 27, 1823, is the notice that John B. Alexander and Joseph H. Kuhns entered into a law partnership as attorneys, and that James B. Oliver had an office in Greensburg as a scrivener and conveyancer. At the same time John Connell kept a store "opposite the market house and stage office," while M. P. Cassilly, Randal McLaughlin and Henry Welty, Jr., kept the leading merchandising establishment of the town. This firm dissolved partnership in April, 1824, and Cassilly continued at the old place. W. Brown & Son, and a man named Mowry, kept store opposite the postoffice, and between these stores was published the Gazette. John Connell's advertisement showed that he kept fancy goods for sale. Another store was kept by Arthur Carr, and still another by James Brady & Company. Edward N. Clopper, the progenitor of the Clopper family, had just come from Baltimore, and advertised his store in the room "below Horbach's Tavern and next door south of Simon Drum, Esq." A man named Gallagher, John Isett and William Finley, were the Greensburg hatters, for it must be remembered that hats were at that time manufactured by small establishments scatted throughout the country. Hugh Stewart manufactured spinning wheels and reels at this shop, which was ""he second house on the north side of the street west of the residence of Mr. Henry Welty, Sr."" James Armstrong did the tailoring of the town. George Singer was a chair maker, and also advertised to do gilding, sign painting and glazing. James Gimmel was a stonecutter, and his place was opposite the German Church. He also advertised grindstones for sale. Peter Fleeger was a saddler. Juhu Taylor had what he called a furniture warehouse, in which he advertised for sale many household conveniences, and he was also a cabinetmaker. In an issue of the paper of 1825 there is a complaint of a scarcity of water in the wells should a fire occur, and it was complained that the fire engine was not kept in repair and for all practical purposes was really useless. Samuel McCawley carded wool, and his establishment was one door below the brick brewery on the turnpike road. There was also a barber, for in the issue of February 13, 1824, there is an article which is signed, "E. F. Pratt, hair dresser," and says he does business at the "Jackson Tonsorial Hall," two doors south of the hat factory. He then remarks, "Those who cannot find the place will inquire at Alexander Smith's or Peter Shiras." There was also a movement made in that day, as is learned from articles sent to the Gazette in December, 1826, to start a circulating library for the benefit of the Greensburg people. Another article in the same issue laments the fact that Greensburg was without that "useful mechanic," a nailor.
In 1830 the population of the town was 810, an increase of forty in ten years. Still the buildings were largely frame or log, and bore little resemblance to the present structures. On the north the town extended to the lot where the present house lately occupied as the residence of the late Mrs. Thomas J. Barclay. Joseph Herwig, a chair maker, was in the last house on the opposite side of the street. On the south the town was bounded by the German Reformed parsonage, which stood below the present Zimmerman House. And on the opposite side of the street was a tavern kept by a widow named Bignell. She called her house the "Sun, Moon and Seven Stars." The sloping ground south of town was known for long years as the "Bullet Ground," because it was used for shooting at a mark. Long after this that whole section received the name of "Kinderhook," by which name it is still occasionally designated. The name Kinderhook was doubtless given to it about 1840, in the days of Martin Van Buren, for this was the name of his birthplace in New York. West Pittsburgh street was then called "Dutch Town," and extended down to a few doors farther than the Cowan residence, where a man named Jennings, living near Coal Tar Run, had a blacksmith shop. After passing the Run, the hill west of it was and is still called Bunker Hill, and on top of Bunker Hill was a riotous tavern where men went to indulge in the sports of cock fighting, dog fighting, etc. There were no houses on the hill at that time except one, which was about opposite the house built by Judge Burrell, now owned by the heirs of the late Hillary J. Brunot. This house was then owned by a man named John Williams, whose son, William Williams, became an efficient deputy and clerk in the court house. East Greensburg, or "Irish Town," ended with the steam mill of Eli Coulter, who was a brother of Justice Richard Coulter. It was a short distance west of Jack's Run. West Otterman street ended about the place where the United Brethren Church stands. On the ground where this church stands formerly stood an old stone tavern, which was perhaps the oldest stone house in Greensburg, for it was used as a tavern in 1797. From 1820 to 1830 it was kept by David Cook, who had been register and recorder and associate judge of Westmoreland county. East Otterman street was ended by the brewery, which was owned by John and Richard North, who came here from England. This was at a point about halfway between Main street and the end of East Otterman street, at the foot of the hill. At that time the canal, of which we have spoken before, and the state pike from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and national pike from Wheeling to Baltimore, had been completed, and the travel through Greensburg was very heavy. Wagons, carriages and horsemen passed daily through the town, and the hotels were well patronized.
As early as 1798 Greensburg had public taverns at which liquors were sold by authority under licenses granted by the court. The first license granted was to Joseph Thompson, of the town of Greensburg. He was licensed "to sell all kinds of spirituous liquors by the small measure," this meaning by the gill. The most important tavern in the early days was "The Simon Drum House," which stood where the "Fisher House" is now located. It was erected about 1791. The "Harbach House" stood on the southeast corner of Main and Pittsburgh streets. Both Harbach and his son Abraham were the proprietors of this hotel. The latter owned an interest in a line of stages, and was also a mail contractor; he succeeded therefore in having most of the stages put up at his hotel. The site now occupied by the "Null House" and the one occupied by the "Cope House" were famous tavern stands more than a century ago. It was the custom in those days to have large signs erected, upon which were painted pictures of prominent men of the day, such as Greene, Washington, Jefferson, etc., and these in some way generally indicated the politics of the hotel. The Westmoreland House was kept by Frederick A. Rohrer, and was for many years the Democratic headquarters of our people. On West Otterman street, at the corner of it and Harrison avenue, was a much frequented tavern kept by a man named Hornish. He catered to the broad-wheeled wagon trade, and to wagons in general. In Dutch Town there was another kept by a man named Kuhns, who was of German descent. This was the favorite stopping place of the German element, and particularly of those who were Democrats. In Irish Town there was a tavern called "The Federal Springs," kept by Frederick Mechling. The politics of this tavern was the opposite of the Kuhns House, as is indicated by its name, "Federal," but in both houses the language spoken was mostly Pennsylvania Dutch. Simon Singer kept the "Greensburg and Pittsburgh Hotel." The Dublin Hotel was an Irish house kept by a man named Thompson and stood on a site then called "Green Lane," now known as Pennsylvania avenue, and was between the Rappe Hotel and the stairway to the Pennsylvania railroad station. About a mile east of Greensburg, on the turnpike, was the Eicher House. This was also a wagon tavern, kept by Griffith Clark, who died in 1829, and who was buried with full Masonic honors. The brethren of the mystic tie attended his funeral in full dress, and at their head marched the venerable Judge John Young. This tavern was afterwards kept by Brintnal Robbins, a Revolutionary soldier, Peter Roe, Joseph Nicewonger and others.
Public amusements were very rare in the early days of Greensburg. Militia parades, Fourth of July demonstrations, circular fox hunts and barn raisings close to town were the leading diversions for the men and boys. Whisky was very cheap, and flowed copiously on all these occasions. Women attended and took some part in some of these diversions but they were almost exclusively for men. Exclusive gatherings for women were very rare, and were almost entirely confined to quiltings. When the turnpike was completed from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh amusements became more varied and numerous. Occasionally there came through on the new pike a traveling theatrical entertainment or a musical concert, which gave their performances in the upper room of the courthouse. With the pike, too, came the first exhibition of wild animals in menageries, generally called "shows." These were new then and were patronized by all classes, some even coming as far as twenty miles, many of them on foot, to see a tent show. The Westmoreland Republican of June 12, 1819, advertises a new wonder, a living male elephant named "Columbus," to be seen in Greensburg on Wednesday, June 16th. The paper announces that the elephant is "the largest and most sagacious animal in the known world," and that the manner in which it takes its food and drink makes it the greatest curiosity ever offered to the public. It also notifies the public that "Columbus" has large tusks, and that though he looks formidable his docility surpasses that of any other animal ever exhibited in this section. In Philadelphia, it says, "he was allowed to be the best educated animal that ever crossed the Atlantic ocean. His height is eight feet, his ears two feet two inches long, and his weight between four and five thousand pounds." In a note the advertisement says the elephant will be exhibited at Laughlinstown on Monday, the 14th and at Youngstown on Tuesday, the 15th of June. Admission, 25 cents; children at half price, in specie or par money.
The same year, 1819, came the first horse race. It was held on Thursday, October 7, on the farm of David Williams, west of Greensburg. It lasted three days, with a purse of fifty dollars for the first day and forty dollars for the second day. The third day was the sweepstakes day, and was free for all horse flesh in the state.
Wandering theatrical troups of those days had no advance agent, and the announcement of their entertainment was made after their arrival. "Richard the Third" was first played here by Messrs. Lucas, Davis and Smith on May 7th, 1825.
The first schoolhouse was a log building. The date of its construction cannot be determined, but it must have been about 1790, for it was torn down in 1825 or 1826, because it was no longer fit for use. It stood where a later borough, or common schoolhouse stood, and is now marked by the old brick house in the old St. Clair cemetery. The first information we have concerning it is in a deed from William Jack to the burgesses and inhabitants of the borough of Greensburg. This instrument is dated April 18, 1803. In describing the lot it says: "Upon which a log schoolhouse was erected by and at the expense of certain inhabitants of said borough and its vacinity." After the custom of that day it was built near a spring, and was a rude log cabin about eighteen by twenty-four feet, one story high, with a shingle roof. The furniture consisted of wooden benches of oak plank, and as long as the house would admit. The writing desks were made of broad inch boards, and were fastened to the walls around the inside of the building. They extended entirely around the room except at the door. In this house were three or four small eight by ten light windows. Among the early teachers were Robert Williams and Robert Morrison. Williams taught a long time, perhaps down to 1816 or '17. The third teacher was probably Robert Montgomery. After him came Gideon H. Tanner, who was a man of considerable attainments and introduced many improvements in the school and in the mode of teaching. Other old school teachers were Samuel Carpenter, Daniel C. Morris and John Armstrong, the former of who afterwards became the county surveyor, state senator, sheriff and associate judge of the county. They were probably the last to teach in the old log school house in 1823 and 1824. John Armstrong was admitted to the bar in 1825, and was the father of the late John and James Armstrong, of the Greensburg bar. Later teachers were Edward Stokes and Peter R. Pearsall, who taught school in the one-story frame building on West Pittsburgh street, belonging to John Kuhns, and also in the Academy borough schoolhouse. Mrs. Mary Foster came to Greensburg about 1824, and shortly after that commenced teaching. She was engaged almost constantly after that in teaching public and private schools, and only relinquished teaching a few years before her death, which occurred July 27, 1882.
In 1829, where the Methodist Church now stands, on Main street, there was an old log house owned by Dr. Postlethwaite. In this house, Miss Lydia Biddle kept school for many years. She was a well educated woman, and taught the children of the wealthier and more intelligent people of Greensburg almost exclusively.
Another old schoolmaster was an Englishman named Somerville. All the schools in the town were then maintained by subscription. Mr. Somerville taught the pupils after they had passed through Miss Biddle's school. He was a tall, straight, stern looking man, with a thin sallow face, "over hanging black brows from under which gleamed two savage eyes." He was a tasty man in his dress, wearing always a long black frock coat, cravat and standing collar. His whole appearance inspired awe and respect. It is said that after the pupils were seated he on one occasion inquired what books they had brought, and found the collection to consist of such works as Dilworth's and Murray's readers, the Old and New Testament, Plutarch's Lives, Aesop's Fables, etc. he, however, very ingeniously arranged the school in classes with these text-books. In order to enforce discipline he always walked to the woods on Saturday afternoon and brought in a goodly-sized bundle of rods. After teaching here for some years he left Greensburg suddenly, and nothing was ever her of him again. He had the reputation of being a good scholar, and this among the learned men of the town. It was said that he was a graduate of a British university. Even at an early period in Greensburg the citizens showed a great interest in education. They helped to open schools on Academy Hill and Bunker Hill. The latter was under the charge of Rev. Milligan. The Academy Hill school was taught by Rev. Cannon, a great light in the Presbyterian world. The ordinary schools created a desire for a higher institution of learning, and accordingly an act of legislature was passed in 1810 incorporating an academy in Greensburg. It was built on the hill north of town, on the same ground now occupied by the Greensburg high schools. To this the state gave a donation of $2,000. In 1836 or 1837 the state gave another donation, but this was given in common to all the academies and seminaries throughout Pennsylvania, and probably in some degree took the place of the munificent donations now given to the normal schools. This incorporated school was known as the Greensburg Academy, and was held in a plain two-story brick building, with four windows and a door in the first story, and five windows in the second. The rooms below were intended for a family to live in. Of the rooms above, one large one was used for the girls of the school and the other for the boys. There was a general idea in that day that it was the instructor's bounden duty to keep the boys and girls strictly separate. They had not only different rooms, but different playgrounds and different times for intermission.
The act incorporating the schools required that the dead languages and higher mathematics be taught in the academy, in addition to the rudiments of a common English education. To the course of study was added afterwards the French and German languages. Among the first teachers in the old academy were Jonathan Findley, Charles Lucas and Thomas Will. Findley was the brother of William Findley, once governor of Pennsylvania, and an uncle to James Findley, on of the early and able members of the Westmoreland and Allegheny county bars. These men were succeeded by James Jones, Samuel Sherwell, Messrs. Farnsworth, Lathrop, Ames, Woodend, and Moore. The academy was kept up until about 1850, when it caught fire and was burned to the ground. Some of the instructors of this academy were men of high intellectual attainments. Thomas Will had been graduated with high honor at St. Andrew's, in Scotland, and James Jones was graduated at St. Omer's, in France. Sherwell was regarded as one of the most accurate English scholars in the United States, and was an author of much note in his day. Lathrop, Farnsworth and Ames were natives of New England, and all were college graduates. Many of the alumni of the old Greensburg Academy became eminent men. Among them were Henry D. Foster, the noted Greensburg lawyer; Thomas Williams, of the Pittsburgh bar; James Reed, Senator Edgar Cowan, Augustus Drum, Judge J. M. Burrell, Governor William F. Johnston, Albert G. Marchand, Captain Alexander Montgomery, J. Herron Foster, Peter C. Shannon, Judge Thomas Mellon, and many others who gained fame and fortune in the pulpit, at the press, at the bar, and in other walks of professional life. After the burning of the academy building there was no special school established in Greensburg until 1862. At that time the school directors made a contract with the trustees of the burned academy for the transfer of the funds and grounds of the institution to them. A new building was erected at once and finished in 1863, and is now known as Public School Building No. 1. Four departments were opened in it as soon as it was finished. It stands on the site of the old Greensburg Academy, among the better residences of Greensburg, and faces the west. Its builder was Gordon M. Lyon, of Greensburg.
About 1840 came Miss Boggs, Miss Gillett, Miss Stewart, and Margaret Craig. Miss Mary Isett taught in the basement of the United Brethren church about 1860. Miss Kilgore, Miss Mitchell, Miss Emily Drumm and Miss Isabel J. Williams all taught select schools in Greensburg. The latter is probably remembered more kindly by those who knew her well than any other woman who has been connected with the schools of Greensburg. After her came Miss Garner (the late Mrs. Townsend), who taught from 1866 until 1868 or 1869. Miss McGinnis, Mrs. Gohen and Miss McFarren were also regularly employed in the Greensburg Schools.
In 1814 a military academy was established in Greensburg by C. D. Hass, but it was not patronized as it should have been and was soon abandoned.
In 1849 the Muhlenberg Collegiate Institute was established by the Lutheran Synod of Pittsburgh, with Rev. R. W. Ruthrauff as principal, but it unfortunately lasted only two years.
The Greensburg Institute was established in 1851, with w. D. Moore as principal. In 1853 Rev. R. J. White, brother of the late Judge J. W. F. White, of Pittsburgh, took charge of it, but only when it was on the decline, and, though a man of fine education, he was unable to restore it.
About 1860 the Catholics built a small school house south of their church on North Main street, and in 1892 a second school house was built containing four school rooms. In 1904 this was replaced by a large and convenient brick school building.
On November 18, 1895, the school board of Greensburg decided to erect a new and handsome building to be called the "Greensburg High School," large enough to accommodate four hundred pupils. S. W. Fraizer, of Pittsburgh, was the architect. Bonds were issued to the amount of $74,000, bearing interest at five per cent., payable in gold. It was built in 1896, and is now by far the finest and most stately school building in Westmoreland county. The sixtieth anniversary of the public schools in Greensburg was celebrated in this building on June 8, 1897.
A great fire occurred in Greensburg in 1858. On Tuesday, the 21st of September, the fire broke out in the stable of Jeremiah Gilchrist, near Main street, and near the present site of the Masonic Temple. Before it could be controlled it destroyed the whole portion of the square south of the Keenan building and residence of John M. Lohr, in which the postoffice was kept. The loss was estimated at $30,000 at that time, and considering the size of the town, it was indeed the greatest fire financially that Greensburg has ever had. For a time it was doubtful whether the town could be saved, but after three hours' work on the part of the citizens the conflagration was checked. The ground remained vacant for a long time after that, and presented a desolate appearance. At length the first building was erected in the "burnt district," and was used as a law office by General Henry D. Foster. It has since been covered with fine buildings, notably the imposing Masonic Temple and the store rooms immediately south. The Robinson corner was burned on the 10th day of October, 1875. The ground is now covered with the Baughman building. Another great fire was the burning of the Naly Opera House, which stood on the corner Pennsylvania avenue and Second street. The Laird House stood on the corner of Pennsylvania avenue and West Otterman street. It was a fine building, owned by the late Harrison P. Laird, and was consumed by fire in January, 1887. This fire caught from buildings on the opposite corner known as the Stark building, and both corners were laid in desolation. The loss was greater than in the fire of 1858, but the town was larger and better able to bear the calamity.
In common with most towns in western Pennsylvania, the people of Greensburg in an early day believed that a market house was indispensable, and had constructed one on the southwestern corner of West Pittsburgh and Main streets, a few years after the town was laid out. In one of the old records of the borough is found an account of Nathan Williams for its construction. It is dated October 30, 1801, and his bill was $240. Another bill is for paving the market house and graveling the ground in front of it. This was done by Nathan Stewart, and for this work he was paid $128.50. For posting the market house, for it stood largely on pillars or posts, the charge was $8. For taking out stumps from the ground upon which it was built the borough paid James McLaughlin $1.50. This market house stood for many years. The lot upon which it stood was owned by the borough and sold to the county for one dollar. It is now the most valuable lot in the county. A second market house was erected on the southwest corner of Pennsylvania avenue and Second street, which was removed in 1869.
The First Reformed Church of Greensburg was taken from Harrold's Church, about three miles southwest of Greensburg. When the town of Greensburg began to build up a congregation was organized here. They purchased a lot of ground from Michael Truby and Peter Miller, on South Main street, for the consideration of four pounds, and farther on down Main street was bought the ground for the German graveyard, for the same amount of money. The first communion held by them in Greensburg was held by Rev. John William Weber, on April 22, 1796. The church was built of logs and was of large dimensions. It was owned in partnership by the German Reformed and Lutheran churches. The worshippers sat on rude benches. There were no stoves or heaters, or even chimneys or flues, and at first there was not even a pulpit in the church. In cold weather public worship was held in private dwellings or in the old courthouse. Another lot and a half, adjoining the one on which the church stood, was bought on May 15, 1815, from a man named Ehrenfriedt, for $300. On this lot of ground the present brick church was built. A church which preceded the present one was built in the summer of 1819, and the dedication sermon was preached by Rev. Henry Gerhart, of Bedford. The original members were: Simon Drum, John Turney, Jacob Barnhart, Jacob Buergy, William Barnhart, Daniel Turney, Michael Truby, Peter Barnhart, Susanna Drum, Anna Barnhart, Magdalena Huber, Catherine Mechling, Maria Myers, Maria Walter, Catharine Silvis, Susanna Turney, Elizabeth Sourer, Elizabeth Barnhart, all of who were members for a generation. The church built in 1819 cost about $6,000 and entailed a large debt which was not wiped out for many years. Until 1875 the services in this church by the Reformed people were almost exclusively in the German language. Rev. Weber was succeeded by Rev. Henry Harbison, who was followed in 1819 by Rev. Dr. Nicholas P. Hacke. Further history of this church will be found in the part of this work devoted to church history in general. The Second Reformed Church was established in 1844. They built an edifice in 1851, which was completed in 1852.
Zion's Evangelical Lutheran congregation was practically founded by Rev. Michael John Steck, in 1847, when he made arrangements for regular English services to be held for the time being in the German church. Rev. John Rugan was the English Lutheran minister who took charge of this branch of the congregation. The German Lutheran people closed their houses to these English speaking people, some of whom were their own children, and for a short time the use of the Episcopal church was obtained. When that could be no longer had they used the courthouse. They moved from the courthouse to the old Presbyterian church, which they leased and used until the fall of 1851, when their own building was finished and dedicated. The lot of ground was secured from John Kuhns, on the corner of Pennsylvania avenue and Second street, upon which there has since been built a new and commanding edifice. The church built in 1851 cost $2,800. Rev. Michael Eyster was the pastor and continued with great success until August, 1853, when his work was suddenly ended by death. Rev. Milton Valentine followed him, and he was followed by Rev. A. H. Waters, who in 1855 gave way to Rev. W. F. Ulery. Rev. Ulery ministered to them but a short time and was succeeded by Rev. Daniel Garver, of Canton, Ohio, who began his work in October, 1863. He was followed in January, 1866, by Rev. J. K. Plitt, who remained until July 1873. On the 6th of May, 1874, Rev. A. H. Bartholomew became their pastor, and after his resignation Rev. W. F. Ulery again ministered to them. On March 8, 1877, the church was burned to the ground and a movement was inaugurated at once to erect a new one. The building committee were: Lewis Trauger, George F. Huff, C. H. Stark, Joseph Bowman, Z. P. Bierer, John Kooser and Lewis Walthour. It was dedicated on the first day of August 1879, Rev. Joseph A. Seiss, D. D., of Philadelphia, preaching the dedicatory sermon.
The Greensburg Presbyterian church asked Presbytery for supplies on the 15th of April, 1788, and was organized as a congregation in May 1789. On October 23, 1800, Rev. John Black was assigned to them, and remained until his death in 1802. Their next minister was Rev. William Speer, who came in 1803 and ministered to them until 1829, when he was released on account of declining health. He died April 26, 1829. Rev. Robert Henry followed him. Rev. Henry was married to a sister of James Buchanan, afterwards President of the United States, and during his residence here was frequently visited by Mr. Buchanan. He served them until his death in 1838. The church was then filled by supplies for two years, when Rev. J. L. Brownson was installed in 1841. He remained with them seven years, when he became president of Washington College and pastor of the church at Washington, Pennsylvania. He was succeeded by Rev. William D. Moore in 1849, who remained until June, 1853. Rev. Moore afterwards read law, abandoned the ministry and became a criminal lawyer of great prominence in Pittsburgh. In 1854 and 1855 they were ministered to by Rev. David Kennedy, who was succeeded by Rev. Joseph Smith, who resigned in 1865 on account of age, Rev. W. H. Gill followed him, and was installed in 1867. In 1870 he resigned and moved to Missouri. His successor was Rev. W. W. Moorhead, who was installed May 13, 1871, and remained with them until his death in 1897. He was succeeded by Rev. W. W. Wallace, the present pastor. In 1883, under the pastorate of Rev. Dr. Moorhead, they built a very commodious church edifice which is yet in use and is one of the handsomest church buildings in Greensburg. Dr. Moorhead is perhaps remembered more kindly for his many good acts and able preaching than any other pastor of Greensburg in the last forty years. The ground upon which the Presbyterian Church stands was donated by Judge William Jack in 1803.
The first organization of an Episcopal church, now Christ's Church, which held services was in 1818, when they were supplied by a rector named Taylor, from Pittsburgh. At that time they used the old court house as a place of worship. The congregation was properly organized in 1821 and was incorporated the same year. In 1823 a brick church was erected on what is now Maple avenue. This served them for more than a score of years, when Judge William Jack donated a lot to them on North Main street, and upon this a brick church was built. The corner stone of this church was laid by the now renowned Bishop Potter, who was then a young man serving as rector of the Greensburg congregation. He laid the corner stone on September 1, 1852, and the church was finished in May, 1854. The rectors of this church have been as follows: From 1830 to 1840, Lanson K. Brunot, J. L. Harrison, S. C. Freeman, and J. J. Kerr. Joseph Adderly; 1842 to 1848, Bruce Batcheller; 1850 to 1855, W. H. Paddock; 1855 to 1857, Fayette Derlin; 1857 to 1861, Henry C. Potter; 1861 to 1866, A. F. Steele; 1866 to 1876, George Slattery, C. C. Parker and George C. Rafter; 1876 to 1877 ------O'Connel; 1877 to 1880, J. W. Protheroe; 1881, J. B. Jennings.
The Methodist church in Greensburg began with the organization of a class at the house of Samuel Bushfield, in 1799. The members were Samuel Bushfield and his wife, Catharine; Jacob Kern and Susanna, and John Kern and his wife. In 1833 the first Methodist church was built. The contract price was $638.85 for a brick building forty-two feet long by thirty feet wide, one story high. It was seated with slab and board benches. This church was on South Main street, joining the present Presbyterian Church parsonage. It was sold to the school directors of Greensburg in 1849, and is still standing, being now used as a dwelling house. After the sale of this property they used a former Presbyterian church in St. Clair cemetery and the courthouse in which to hold their services. In 1850 a lot on the northeast corner of Main and Second streets was purchased from Jehu Taylor. The present church building on this lot was completed in the fall of 1852. On November 25 the church was dedicated by Bishop Matthew Simpson. The pastor in charge then was Rev. James G. Sansom, famous as a camp-meeting preacher and revivalist, and who lives in history as the sweetest singer in early Methodism.
The first Methodist Sunday-school was organized in 1835. This building served them well for some years, and was enlarged and greatly improved. In 1905 the church was sold to the Westmoreland Realty Company for $58,000, and on an adjoining lot on the corner of Maple avenue and Second street a much more commodious and handsome building is now being constructed.
The United Brethren Church, while they held services occasionally before, was properly organized in 1857, when there were nine members. They were: Joseph Gross and wife, Joseph Walters, Mrs. Daniel Reamer, John L. Holmes and wife, A. G. Marsh and wife, and a man named Crooks. The first church was erected on a lot nearly opposite the present church building, and was a brick structure thirty-eight by fifty-two feet. This building was burned on July 22, 1879, by an incendiary named Daniel Smithson, who upon his trial plead guilty and was sentenced to a long term in the Western Penitentiary. The second building and present edifice was dedicated October 10, 1881. It has since been improved, and is a very neat and handsome edifice.
For the further accounts of the early churches the reader will examine the chapter on Church History.
For many years the largest and most beautiful cemetery in Greensburg was the St. Clair cemetery, named in honor of Major General Arthur St. Clair. Formerly a part of it had been known as the Presbyterian graveyard, and this was enlarged by a donation from William Jack "to the burgesses and inhabitants of Greensburg." This deed was dated April 18, 1803, and is recorded in Deed Book No. 7, page 108. The purposes of the ground was to secure for Greensburg a place to erect a house of worship, and the residue was to be used as a place for the dead. The Presbyterians for many years occupied a building on this ground as their place of worship. The cemetery was very much admired in former years, and many of Greensburg's eminent citizens were finally laid to rest within its borders. In 1888 the place was abandoned as a place of sepulture and a new cemetery bearing the same name was opened about two miles east of Greensburg, on the south side of the Greensburg and Stoystown turnpike, since which time the old cemetery in Greensburg has been badly neglected. Both the old and new cemetery have many pretty monuments, and the new one is kept in splendid condition and is a delightful cemetery location.
The South Main street, or German graveyard, laid out, we believe, by the German Reformed and Lutheran congregations, has long since been abandoned as a place of burial, although there are yet in it many graves that will probably never be removed. They, too, have a new cemetery about two miles northeast of Greensburg, which is known as Union Cemetery.
The Catholic graveyard on North Main street, surrounding their church and other buildings belonging to them, has also been abandoned, and another a short distance northeast of Greensburg has been laid out.
The United Presbyterian church of Greensburg has been considered in the general church history.
The most important industry in Greensburg is the extensive manufacturing plant of Kelly & Jones Company, established in 1888, and which now employs one thousand men. They manufacture iron pipe, fittings, brass and iron valves, cocks for steam, gas, water, and oil machinery; also iron and steel tubing. They sell their product in all parts of the commercial world. They have branch offices in New York, Chicago and Pittsburgh. At the latter city they have a large store also. This plant covers twenty-one acres of ground, and one of its buildings has 76,000 square feet of floor space. The officers are: John Kelly, president; James Bolph, vice-president; W. J. Kelly, secretary; and George M. Jones, treasurer. It is incorporated with a capital of $300,000.
The Brown-Ketcham Iron Works, makers of structural and ornamental iron and steel, is a branch of the main plant at Indianapolis, Indiana, established thirty-five years ago. The Greensburg branch was established in 1902, and capitalized at $500,000. One hundred and seventy-five men are employed, and the gross annual output is 180,000 gross tons, which product goes to all parts of the United States. William H. Brown is president.
The Hempfield Foundry, a general foundry and machine shop, was established in April, 1898. They employ seventy-two men, and have an annual business of $60,000 in the production of bronze and grey iron castings, brass castings and mining cars. The president is J. Howard Patton.
Places of amusement of an early day have been referred to elsewhere. Until the building of the Nailey Opera House the court room was generally used for all public performances. In 1879 the Lowison Opera House was built, and served Greensburg as a public hall exclusively till 1903, when the St. Clair Theatre was built by the late George W. Good. It is situated on South Main street, and is one of the most complete rooms in the state outside of the larger cities. It was opened October 14, 1903.
The Greensburg Country Club has a fine location two miles west, on the Pittsburgh, McKeesport and Greensburg street car line. It includes a large golf links, and has erected on it a suitable club house. It is kept up almost exclusively by Greensburg people. The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks have a large lodge, and own a splendidly equipped club house on the corner of East Pittsburgh street and Maple avenue.
Source: Pages 487-501, History of Westmoreland County, Volume 1, Pennsylvania by John N. Boucher, New York, the Lewis Publishing Company, 1906.
Transcribed September 2000 by Tena McDowell Hanna for the Westmoreland County History Project
Contributed by Tena McDowell Hanna for use by the Westmoreland County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/westmoreland/)
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