Chapter XV

Apollo Borough



 The location of Apollo has many natural advantages, situated as it is on a sloping plain in a beautiful cove of the Kiskiminetas, with a fine outlook on every side. The recent rehabilitation of the iron industry will greatly increase the population.

 Apollo was formerly called "Warren," from either a trader or an Indian chief who bore that name. It obtained the title through the location of a grave, said to be that of an Indian chief, about a mile below the town. On an ancient map this grave was given the name of "Warren's Sleeping Place."

 John Cochran and Abraham Ludwig cleared the principal part of the land on which the town afterward was built. The first settlers before the Pennsylvania canal was built were: Joseph Alford, John Cochran, Abraham Ludwig, Isaac McLaughlin, Michael Risher, Robert Stewart and John Wort.

 Before the establishment of the postoffice here, August 15, 1827, the points nearest to Warren for receiving mail matter were Freeport and Kittanning. Milton Dally was the first postmaster. The department gave this office a name different from that of the town, because there was another office in this State by the name of Warren. During 1913 there were two postmasters, Charles S. Hegeman and J. Gallagher, the former resigning before his term had expired.

 The town of Warren was surveyed off into lots, streets and alleys by William Watson, in November, 1816. These lots were fifty in number and respectively 66 by 165 feet, each containing a quarter of an acre. Water (now Canal) and Back (now Church) streets are parallel to the Kiskiminetas river-the former being from 90 to 100 and the latter 60 feet wide, and are intersected at right angles by North, Main, Indiana and Coal Bank streets, each 60 feet wide. An alley 30 feet wide intersects Water street between lots Nos. 20 and 21 and Back street between lots Nos. 11 and 30. Four other alleys parallel to Water and Back streets are respectively 12 feet wide. Two acres adjoining Back street and opposite the eastern end of Main street and lots Nos. 10 and 11 were laid out agreeably to the terms of sale of the town lots free of charge, as a location for a meeting-house, schoolhouse and cemetery.

 Rev. William Speer and William Johnson laid out the town. The first houses built were four log structures on what is now known as Second street. The first one completed was the old McMullen house. The Guthrie, Chambers, Truby, Bovard, Jackson and Miller additions have since been included in the town of Apollo.

 The first separate assessment list of the town of Warren, then in Allegheny township, was made in 1830 thus: John Alford, lot No. 22, 1 horse, 1 head of cattle, total valuation, $58; James H. Belt, lot No. 16, 1 house, 1 other lot not known, $156; Catherine Cochran, lot No. 34, 1 house, 1 head of cattle, $31; Robert Cochran, single man, lot No. 9, $25; Andrew Cunningham, lot No. 48, 1 head of cattle, $31; William Davis, lot No. 17, 1 house, blacksmith, $91; Philip Dally, lot number not known, one house, $225; Samuel Gardiner, lot No. 225; William Graham, lot No. 48, 1 house, 1 head of cattle, $31; John Lewellyn, lot No. 4, 1 house, 1 horse, $255; Robert McKissen, lot No. 15, 1 house, 1 head of cattle, $106; Alexander McKinstry, lot No. 1, 1 house, $252; William McKinstry, 1 lot and house, $225.25; John McElwain, lot No. 3, 1 house, 2 horses, 1 head of cattle, $601; Isaac McLaughlin, lot No. 38, 1 house, transferred to John McElwain; William Mehaffey, half-lot No. 24; Peter Risher, lot No. 18, 1 house, 1 horse, $225; John Wort, lots Nos. 5 and 6; 1 house, 1 tanyard, 1 horse, 2 cattle, lot No. 12 unseated, $247.

By act of Assembly March 15, 1848, Warren, then in the township of Kiskiminetas, was incorporated into the borough of Apollo. One reason for changing its name was because goods shipped from the East were often carried past it to Warren, in Warren county, Pennsylvania. The old boundaries have been repeatedly extended to meet the demands of this growing town.

The first borough election was held May 8, 1848, when Robert McKissen was elected burgess, and William Nichols, William Miller, George C. Bovard, John T. Smith, John Elwood and David Risher town councilmen. The population at that time was 359 whites and two colored.


The first ferry was kept by Owen Jones where the bridge across the Kiskiminetas now is. Increased facilities for crossing that river were afforded by the bridge across it, which was erected by a company incorporated by the act of March 15, 1844, called the Warren Bridge Company. In the course of six or seven years after the bridge was erected, indebtedness had so accumulated against the company that additional legislation was resorted to to enable it to discharge its liabilities and after some litigation the bridge was sold in 1858. That bridge, which was a wooden structure, roofed over, had three stone piers. It was carried away by an ice gorge in 1881.

The present bridge is a steel one, erected by the Morse Bridge Company, of Youngstown, Ohio, and was jointly constructed by Armstrong and Westmoreland counties. The commissioners were: James White, John Murphy and L. W. Corbett for Armstrong; Henry Keeley, J. N. Townsend and William Taylor for Westmoreland.

Milton Dally is said to have been the captain of the first boat that made a trip on the Pennsylvania canal west of the Allegheny mountains. John B. Chambers was the captain of the first packet-boat that plied between Apollo and Pittsburgh.


The first tannery was opened by John Wort in 1823. In 1839 he was followed by James Guthrie, and in 1850 Simon S. Whitlinger also began to handle hides and leather. The latter sold to John F. Whitlinger, who introduced modern methods, and it was in active operation until his death, about 1910. A harness shop had also been added.

 The first tavern was opened in 1824; the making of pottery was introduced in 1832; of saddles and harness in 1837; cabinet-making in 1836; of wagons in 1840; coverlet weaving in 1841; stonecutting in 1842; chairmaking in 1843; coopering in 1844; making tinware in 1848; carding in 1848; dentistry, cigarmaking, making mill-wheels, etc., making copperware, in 1851; grocery business, as a separate branch, in 1855; teaching music, confectionery as a separate business, and butchering in 1858; coal merchant and druggist in 1860; coal merchant and milling in 1851; coal mining in 1863 ; brickmaking in 1865; auctioneer in 1867; planing mill, foundry and salt merchant in 1868; stove and tin merchant, book agent and painter in 1870; oil merchant and broom-maker in 1871; undertaker and silversmith in 1873; oil dealer and photographer in 1874; lumberman, furniture dealer and brickpresser in 1875.


 A cooperage was established by Samuel Jack, at the foot of Indiana street, in 1854-55, and was continued in operation until 1864-65. The annual product was about ten thousand barrels, and the number of employees varied from eight to twelve.

The Apollo gristmill was erected by John H. and Eden Townsend in 1849. For the ten years subsequent to 1876 it was owned by George Brenner. It was three stories, frame, with three runs of burrstones, smutmill, corncracker and sheller, and other modern improvements. It was situated on the southerly side and at the lower end of Mill street.

The Superior Roller Mills are operated by William H. Carnahan & Co. The lumber and planing mills of W. W. Wallace Company are of greater capacity than any others in this part of the county, and do a business of considerable extent in this and Westmoreland counties.

The Apollo Foundry Company, organized in 1889, is still in a thriving condition and caters to a trade coming from all points in the Kiskiminetas valley.

The Apollo Lime & Ballast Company have a crushing plant and quarry half a mile east of the town, where on an average ten men are constantly employed in producing fine building stone, and ballast for railroad track surfacing. The officers are: Walter George, president; Charles P. Wolfe, secretary.

The Apollo Woolen Mills Company was organized in April, 1908, with a capital of $30,000, $36,000 being paid in. The present officers are: T. E. Cunningham, president; J. M. Hankey, secretary-treasurer. They have a large factory building in the west end of the town, employing thirty persons, manufacturing cloth for the United States army and blankets for some of the largest department stores in this country, under various trademarks supplied by the customers. So great has the business grown since its inception that the firm find it impossible to accept additional orders, owing to lack of capacity. They contemplate shortly enlarging the factory.


Apollo has two hotels, the Hartman House, formerly the Chambers, kept by C. A. Hartman, and the Arlington, of which William Troup is proprietor.

The mercantile establishments of Apollo are: Druggists - W. A. Gray, C. W. Bollinger, W. F. Pauly, Frank T. Wray. Jewelers - William Johnston, 0. F. Neale. Dry goods, clothing - The Famous Department Store, Thomas F. Sutton, E. A. Townsend & Son, Shaw-Phillips Company, W. F. Devers, Sutton & Flude, F. Porrica, The People's Store. Shoes - Ritts & Cochran, R. F. Orr. Furniture - C. J. Kepple & Co. Photographers - N. H. Stewart, Charles Bellas. Hardware - G. J. Brooks, A. D. Stewart, H. S. Steel, C. H. Truly. Tailors - George L. Teeters, S. Herman. Butcher - J. W. Whitlinger, H. W. Walker & Son. Confectioner - B. F. Bosworth.

There are in Apollo also one garage, kept by H. D. Bellas; a plumbing establishment, D. R. Hook, proprietor; one blacksmith, J. H. Snyder; one livery barn, kept by Joseph DeShong; and six general stores.

The Women's Exchange has a store for the sale of homebaking and fancy work; the five and ten cent store is owned by T. G. McCullough; S. C. Miller operates a one cent to one dollar store; the real estate agents are R. M. McLaughlin, J. C. Gallagher and Ira J. Wray; and the leading contractor and cement manufacturer is Preston Grim.

Apollo has three motion picture theatres which are liberally patronized by the people of the town and surrounding territory.


In 1854 Dr. James P. Speer, who had been interested in the Ramsey furnace, donated a plot of ground and in company with George W. Cass and Washington McClintock organized the Kiskiminetas Iron Company, for the manufacture of nails, using the water from the canal to operate an overshot wheel 20 feet in diameter with a 20 foot face, the fall of water being 24 feet. Owing to the unsuitability of the iron, which was of brittle quality, they failed to pay expenses, and the plant was sold by the sheriff in 1860 to Cass & McClintock for $4,100. Under the management of Dr. J. S. Kuhn the mill was run until 1861, when the Civil war put a stop to operations. Dr. Kuhn had, however, succeeded in producing good nails. The mill was also operated by George W. Cass & Co. for eighteen months. In 1863 Washington McClintock, William Rogers, Sr., and W. E. Foale, under the title of McClintock, Rogers & Co., leased the works, abandoned the manufacture of nails in 1869 and produced a good quality of plain sheet iron, for which they received 16 cents a pound. There is in 1913 a better quality of iron on the market which brings but 3-1/2 cents. The number of employees during this period averaged fifty. Until the destruction of dam No. 2 in February, 1866, water power was used, but after the ice carried away the wheel the mill suspended operations until August of that year, when steam was substituted and the firm reorganized. It then became known as Rogers & Burchfield, with Thomas J. Hoskinson as silent partner. Additional rolls were put in and the manufacture of cold rolled iron begun. The property in 1874 consisted of two sheet mills, seven puddling furnaces, one heating furnace, two sheet furnaces, two annealing furnaces, one steam hammer, two gas wells, three engines, twenty-one tenant houses, one storehouse and bakery and a wire suspension bridge across the Kiskiminetas. The firm failed in 1875. From 1876 to 1893 P. H. Laufman & Co. owned the plant, having purchased it, and in the latter year the firm was changed to Apollo Iron & Steel Company; this company having bought the P. H. Laufman interests, and Mr. George McMurtry, of Pittsburgh, an experienced iron and steel manufacturer, was made president and general manager. After a few years of increasing success in making the "Apollo Brand" of blue sheets, in 1898 this company bought five hundred acres across the river from (and below) Apollo and built a new mill and new town, named Vandergrift after the largest holder of stock in this Apollo Iron & Steel Company. The name was changed to the Vandergrift Steel Sheet & Tin Plate Company, and Mr. McMurtry continued as president. In 1902 they moved the Apollo mill to this plant or practically wrecked it. Mr. McMurtry is now president of the board of directors of the United States Steel Corporation, who bought the plant in 1900.


Ten years later, after many attempts to establish another mill to help the town, Robert Lock, formerly a superintendent in Kirkpatrick & Co.'s mills in Leechburg, and later with the Vandergrift mills and still later with the Allegheny Steel Company, at Brackenridge, went to Apollo and promoted a new company in conjunction with the business men of the town. The grounds were selected near the site of the oil mill.

When the citizens of Apollo decided they needed a mill to take the place of the one removed to Vandergrift they did not waste time in useless discussion, but went to work to form a company of their own. On February 16, 1912, the first citizens' meeting was held, a company formed and steps taken to build a plant for the manufacture of sheet steel. On June 3d of the same year the ground was broken for the mill, on March 20, 1913, the furnaces were fired, and on June 16th, exactly sixteen months after the first meeting, the first iron was rolled in the completed mill. The power was turned on by President Robert Lock, of the company, at 8:22 A. M., and the mill was in operation at last. The first piece of iron was put through the soft rolls at 8:45 A.M. on No. 4 mill by roller W. E. Jones, John M. Fiscus, a veteran iron worker, taking the place of catcher and President Lock running the screw. The first pair was broken down by rougher Ira Dodson at 9:05 A. M. and the first pack was finished by roller Jones at 9:21 A. M., when a great cheer went up from the large crowd of spectators and Apollo again took her rightful place among the iron producing towns of the valley, after a lapse of eleven years, lacking twelve days.

The ponderous machinery moved off without a hitch and worked more like a mill that had been in operation for some time than one making the initial start. This is most remarkable when it is understood that the big gear wheel was received into the works at 11:30 P. M. Wednesday of the week before, and that the spider and other parts of the great drive had arrived only a few days before. The work of installing the drive was begun on Sunday night at 10 o'clock under the personal direction of W. F. Monnich, erector for the United Engineering and Foundry Company, of Pittsburgh, and the machinery was turned over for the first time at 11:45 P. M. Thursday, June 12, 1913. The machinery ran idle from that hour until the start was made on Monday morning at 8 o'clock. This is considered a remarkable record.

The plant is housed in a building 156 feet wide by 432 feet long, with an extension runway 116 feet by 72 feet, partially roofed. The building is divided longitudinally into a main center span of 70 feet and 10 inches, with a furnace building 38 feet and 2 inches, and a stack aisle 6 feet and 7 inches wide on one side, and a shear building 40 feet and 2 inches wide on the other side. The equipment consists of six sheet mills, two cold mills and a galvanizing department, with the necessary accessories.

The drive for the mill is a double helicalcut tooth gear, the largest of its kind in the world, and was designed and built by the United Engineer & Foundry Company, the cutting being done by the Wm. Todd Company, Youngstown, Ohio. It consists of two cast steel half rims attached to a central spider. The pinion is 15 feet in length, with pitch diameter of 32 inches, 42 inches face, and weighs 12 tons. The pitch diameter on the big gear is 19 feet, 4 inches. The two solid web flywheels measure 13 feet, 6 inches diameter each and are of 50 tons weight. The gear, spider, shaft and coupling weigh 85 tons. The big gear rim is 40 tons weight and the spider 20 tons.

The large motor is of 1,400 h. p. 240 revolutions per minute, 235 full load, 60 cycles, 3 phase 2,300 volts induction motor, 332 amperes per phase, and was made by the General Electric Company. To protect the motor from the severe shocks encountered in sheet rolling, it was necessary to obtain an exceptionally large fly wheel effect, and on this account it was deemed advisable to place the fly wheels on the motor shaft, making them of cast steel. The peripheral speed of these wheels is approximately 10,000 feet per minute. The necessary fly wheel effect, if obtained from a single wheel, would have required excessive rim weight, and for this reason, and also to balance the pinion shaft, two fly wheels of equal weight were used.

The entire plant is equipped in the most modern manner and far excels any similar works in America. One of the splendid features of the construction is the electrical work, which is unsurpassed by any of its size in the country. The current is furnished by the West Penn Electric Company, and comes from their great power plant at Connellsville, Pennsylvania. The incoming lines carry 25,000 volts, 3 phase, 60 cycles alternating current. This enters the transformer house or sub-station and is stepped down through three K V A transformers to 2,300 volts. This passes through conduits underground to the control pulpit located at the centre of the roll train and elevated about ten feet above the sheet floor. This location gives the operator an unobstructed view of the entire sheet floor.

The sub-station also contains three 75 K V A transformers which step the current down from 2,300 volts to 240 volts. This also passes underground through conduits to the mill switchboard, which is located beneath the control pulpit, and this voltage is used for all lights, cranes and small motors. The sub-station also contains all necessary meters for registering the power consumption on the large motor, small motors and lights. On the control pulpit, the switchboard which controls the starting and stopping of the 1,400 h. p. motor is located.

The furnace equipment, which consists of six combination sheet and pair furnaces and two annealing furnaces, was designed and built by George J. Hagan. All the furnaces are provided with American underfeed stokers. The galvanizing department consists of two pots, with necessary pickling and washing tanks, and the arrangement is of somewhat novel design, being worked out along lines suggested by Robert Lock, president of the Apollo Steel Company.

As the plant is not provided with any regular boiler equipment, it was necessary to install a small low pressure boiler for heating the pickling tanks in the galvanizing department, and this is the only steam used in the plant. In order to avoid the use of high pressure steam, an air compressor was installed, which serves the power doublers, this being the only operation which could not conveniently be taken care of by electric motors.

The hoisting equipment consists of a 30-ton crane over the main mill building, and two 10-ton cranes in the furnace building.

An interesting fact in relation to this mill was that there was no shop in Pennsylvania large enough to cut the helical gears, and they had to be shipped to Youngstown, Ohio, to be finished. On the trip there and back the utmost care was necessary to prevent the great weight and height of the halves of the wheel from damaging the bridges and stations along the railroads. Several bridges were raised to permit the castings to pass, and the halves were sunk into the floor of the car to save height and prevent overturning.

The last iron made in Apollo by the American Sheet Steel Company was rolled by John Hanna on the 28th day of June, 1902. A. L. Zimmerman, then manager of the Apollo works, sent the last pack through the rolls.


The Apollo Savings Bank was organized in 1870 and first assessed in 1872. Its capital stock was $50,000. In 1896 it was made a State bank, and in 1901 the name was changed to Apollo Trust Company. The capital now is $250,000. The officers are: J. N. Nelson, president; E. A. Townsend, vice president; John H. Jackson, secretary and treasurer; Walter J. Guthrie, solicitor.

The First National Bank of Apollo, chartered in 1901, with a capital of $50,000, occupies the new building, just completed at a cost Of $35,000. The officers are: W. L. George president; Andrew Gallagher, vice president; Charles P. Wolfe; cashier; S. M. Jamison, assistant cashier.


Considering the size of Apollo and the facilities for fire protection in the past, the absence of any serious conflagrations, with the exception of that of 1876, is a credit to the care of the inhabitants and the precautionary measures taken since that date. For a period of sixty years after the founding of the town only three buildings were burned. But this period of rest was rudely broken by the fire of 1876, in which twenty-nine buildings were wiped out, causing a loss of over $32,000, with but $12,000 insurance. This put the townspeople on their guard and they started the construction of the present excellent water system. Three volunteer fire companies are provided with hose carts and a hook and ladder truck, the pressure of the street mains being ample for all purposes. A box system of alarms, connected with the telephone lines, is provided, and has saved the place from repeated dangers.

The Apollo Water Company have lately added to their plant, and now have two impounding reservoirs across Beaver run, in Westmoreland county, with a capacity of 60,000,000 gallons. Another reservoir and filter plant, on the Orr and Gilkerson farms, has a capacity of 10,000,000 gallons. On the Owens farm is the storage reservoir, from which the water goes direct to the mains. It has a capacity of 14,000,000 gallons. The old Allegheny gas engine of 75 horsepower is capable of lifting 1,000,000 gallons daily, and the new Westinghouse gas engine and pump can handle 1,500,000 gallons. A pressure of 115 pounds to the square inch is continually carried, and can be increased to double, but the necessity has never arisen. These reservoirs could supply the towns of Apollo and Leechburg for five months, without pumping, if necessary. Leechburg is supplied through mains six miles in length, from Beaver Run reservoir.

The most important point about this plant is the absolute purity of the water. No other towns in the county have such a clean water supply. The Beaver run is free from contamination by mines or factories, and no persons are allowed to foul the waters, which come from a strictly clear farming country. When the Public Service Commission rates went into effect in 1913 the Apollo company, although a private concern, did not have to alter its rates one cent.

The company is not overloaded with ornamental officials. The three gentlemen in charge have office hours alternately morning and evening, in Leechburg and Apollo. They are: W. C. Hawley, general superintendent; D. C. Shull, superintendent; W. J. Murphy, cashier.


The first newspaper published in Apollo was the Warren Lacon, in 1835, owned and edited by Dr. Robert McKisson, who seems to have been the most prominent man in the town. He was the first burgess, the first doctor, the first editor, the only storekeeper, boat agent, was a poet and a Democrat. His paper was published for several years. It bore little news, save death notices and marriages, and was finally discontinued for lack of patronage in 1840. In 1875 Miss Jennie Stentz started the Kiskiminetas Review and after a short time transferred it to J. Melhorn. The name was later changed to Herald and in 1883 the plant was purchased by William Davis, who later sold it to M. H. Cochrane. In 1883 Cochrane died and his widow, who was left with two small sons and only the printing plant to make a livelihood, at once assumed the editorship and management of the paper. Remaining in Apollo for fifteen years, or until 1898, she then moved the outfit to the new town of Vandergrift, following the line of progress, and changed the title of the publication to The Vandergrift Citizen and was most successful as an editress, boosting the new town, which also stood by her and the paper, until in 1906 she married her second husband and sold the paper to E. H. Welsh. In 1894 C. W. Bollinger, now a prominent druggist of Apollo, started the Advertiser, his brothers conducting it till 1897, when it was sold and suspended. In 1895 a number of citizens formed a company and began the publication of the News-Record, but it was not a very successful venture until the present proprietor, Mr. T. J. Baldrige, took possession in 1908. Mr. Baldrige has made a newspaper out of the ruins of the past journalistic failures, and has added modern machines to the plant. He presents all the news in an interesting form, and is ever alert to advance the prosperity of Apollo.

The Apollo Sentinel was started in 1907 by R. V. Bentzell & Bro., who sold it in 1913 to E. W. and C. C. Hilderbrand. It is a weekly, and the new firm has only got under way.


The early history of the Presbyterian Church in Apollo is somewhat indefinite as to date, but probably the first steps taken to place it upon a permanent footing were made at the time the town was laid out in lots, the Presbyterian plot, a donation of two acres from Messrs. Spear and Johnson, being received in 1814. The signers of the deed were Samuel Gordon, David Watson and George T. Crawford, trustees. Jacob McCartney, an elder, rode over to Kittanning the day following the signing of the deed and had it recorded. At first the services were held in the open air, the congregation seated on logs and the preacher holding forth from a rostrum of logs covered with a board roof. Rev. Robert Lee was the first temporary pastor, and in 1824 Rev. Joseph Harper was chosen permanently. During his pastorate in 1826, a rough stone edifice was erected, and was for many years the only church in Apollo. Following Mr. Harper came the Rev. Mr. Dunlap, for about six months. Rev. Watson Hughes next filled the pulpit from 1830 to 1837, and for a year following there was no supply. Rev. Alexander Donaldson served for six months in 1838 and in 1840 Rev. Levi M. Graves took charge, remaining until 1843. Dating from 1846 Rev. Cyrus B. Bristol remained as pastor for twelve years, resigning in 1858. Following came Rev. Robert McMillan, until 1864, and in 1865 Rev. John Orr began a service which lasted until 1872. During his incumbency the third church, a brick, was founded, but not completed. It stood facing First street, a little further up the hill from the present one. Rev. Hezekiah Magill in 1872 took charge, remaining until 1879. After him came Revs. Samuel E. Elliott, J. Q. A. Fullerton, R. P. Daubenspecht, Leon Stewart, and the present pastor, Rev. William W. Brockway.

In 1906 the present building was erected. It is of the lantern dome style of architecture, the architect being T. C. Fullerton of Uniontown, Pennsylvania. It is built entirely of stone quarried near Apollo, and the total cost was $33,000. There are nine classrooms and a fine auditorium, yet the congregation are already crowding the building, so fast have they grown in numbers. The present membership is 550, and the Sunday school has 348 on the roll. The superintendent is Charles W. Walker, and the organist is Eugene T. Baldrige, son of the editor of the News-Record.

The elders are: T. A. Cochran, W. T. Gilkerson, T. M. Willard, F. T. Wray, A. C. Hammit, John H. Jackson, W. E. Jones, R. F. Orr. The trustees are: Ira J. Wray, president; Adam Alcorn, secretary; E. E. Cochran, J. M. Jackson, George W. Steele, J. M. Spahr.

The United Presbyterian Church of Apollo was organized in 1868. The present church building was erected in 1885, and greatly remodeled in 1911. The present value of the church and parsonage is $20,000. Rev. R. A. Jamison has been the pastor for thirty-five years. For eighteen years the church has supported Miss Fannie Martin as missionary to the Punjab, India. The church membership is 25, and the Sabbath school, 200.


The First Evangelical Lutheran Church of Apollo was organized in 1859, at a meeting in the old M. E. church, by Revs. Geo. C. Ehrenfeld and L. M. Kuhns, with the following members: Isaac Townsend, Mary Townsend, James Fair, Philip Long, Sarah Long, Peter Branthoover, Emeline Branthoover, Christian Kepple, Elizabeth Kepple, John Bair, Elizabeth Bair, Mary Martin, Frederick Dibler, Nancy Dibler, Bohemia Townsend, G. W. McMillen, E. C. McMillen, Levi Risher, Belinda Risher, Margaret J. Hunter, Sarah Uncapher, Esther Gumpert, Matilda McCullough, Deborah Starry.

Isaac Townsend and Philip Long were elected elders, and Christian Kepple and James Fair, deacons. A few weeks after the organization Rev. Mr. Ehrenfeld resigned. The old "Seceder" church was at first used as a house of worship.

The pastors have been: Revs. Lewis M. Kuhns, 1859-60; Rev. John A. Delo, 1860-64; Rev. John Welfley, 1864-68; Rev. M. Colver, 1868-76; Rev. G. F. Schaeffer, 1876-82; Rev. C. B. King, 1883-90; Rev. M. L. Culler, 1890-97; Rev. William H. Nicholas, 1897-1902; Rev. M. E. McLinn, 1903-10; Rev. H. E. Berkey, 1910 to date, 1913. The present adult membership is 515. The present church building was erected in 1863, and subsequently repeatedly enlarged and improved. The amount expended on it originally and later, including $2,200 for pipe organ, was about $10,000. The Sabbath school has 393 members.


The Methodist Episcopal Church was incorporated June 2, 1856, with Rev. Samuel Jones as pastor. Jacob Freetley, Daniel Rishir, D. L. Byrer, Hugh Jones and Samuel Jack were trustees. The first church edifice, a frame, was erected on a lot adjoining the one where the present building is situated. The second church was a brick structure, with a lecture room in the basement, on the South side of Mill street, near Church. It was built in 1851. The membership in 1876, was 272; Sunday school, 150.

The present pastor is Rev. H. G. Gregg. The membership is 535; Sunday school, 850, the largest in the entire county.


The First Baptist Church was erected in 1873 on the canal and Maple street; incorporated December 21, 1874, William Reese, Thomas Reese, Hugh Evans, A. M. Hill, W. B. Ansley and John Morgan, trustees. The present new brick church was erected in 1895-96. The present pastor is Rev. W. S. Caron.


St. James Roman Catholic Church of Apollo had an unusual life story. The first Catholic resident of the town was Thomas Shorter, a colored man, in 1884. Soon after came James Mallon and family. In the autumn of that year Rev. James McTighe, resident pastor of Leechburg, took compassion on the little band of the faithful and in the house of James Reynolds the first Mass was said in Apollo. Later on a hall on North Fourth street was leased and occasional services held. As Father McTighe had already two congregations to serve, he was compelled to turn the work over to St. Vincent's Benedictine monastery, situated near Latrobe, who sent Father Fidelius to the scene. Under his care the congregation increased sufficiently to enable them to erect a frame church in North Apollo, which was dedicated in 1892. Following Father Fidelius came Father Constantine, and in 1895 Father Macarius Schmitt, who had the honor of being the last pastor. At that time the Apollo Rolling Mill was moved over to Vandergrift, and as the congregation were almost entirely from that source deriving a livelihood, they moved with it. They had increased to seventy-five families of over 450 souls, had outgrown the little frame edifice and had bought two lots for the purpose of erecting a brick building of larger capacity. However, they proceeded with their plans, and shifting the work to Vandergrift put up a neat brick church at a cost of $5,000. To complete their history it may be said that they now worship in one of the largest and handsomest churches in western Pennsylvania, lately erected in that place.


The Reformed Chapel was built in 1893, near the Hartman House. The pastor in charge is Rev. D. W. Kerr.

The Free Methodists are under the charge of Rev. R. B. Campbell, of the Pittsburgh Conference.


The only public library in Armstrong county at present is located in Apollo, in the W. C. T. U. building. Its foundation came about from a festival given by the ladies of the town, the proceeds of which were used to purchase the first twenty books. Other donations were later made by the citizens and friends in Pittsburgh, and the State now sends fifty books every six months to the library. At present there are nearly sixteen hundred volumes on the shelves. Miss Agnes Mullen, the librarian, is paid a salary by the borough, and attends to the issuing of books three times a week. The Woman's Club pays the rent of the upper floor of the W. C. T. U. building, where the books are kept.



The Woman's Club of the Kiskiminetas valley was organized in 1908, federated in the same year and united to the congress of women's clubs in 1910. Regular meetings are held twice a month in the W. C. T. U. building, where the most important topics of the present century and historical matters are discussed. For the coming year (1914) the topic will be "South America-The Land of To-morrow." The officers for the coming year are: Mrs. C. W. Bollinger, president; Mrs. H. G. Gregg, vice president; Mrs. Walter George, second vice president; Miss Grace McLaughlin, recording secretary; Miss Bella Glass, corresponding secretary; Mrs. T. J. Henry, treasurer.



The headquarters of the W. C. T. U. of Armstrong county is located at Apollo, where they occupy a building of their own, erected in 1907. This is also the home of the Woman's Club, making Apollo the center of feminine activities for the county. The officers of the Armstrong County W. C. T. U. are: Miss Laura Guthrie, president, Apollo; Mrs. Sarah Leslie, vice president, Slate Lick; Mrs. Ida Cowan, corresponding secretary, Apollo; Miss Jennie Gallagher, secretary, Manorville; Mrs. Jennie Butler, treasurer, Dayton; Mrs. M. J. Mechling, Dayton, and Mrs. J. M. Guthrie, Apollo, honorary presidents. Regular meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each month. They are making a strong campaign for national prohibition in 1920. It is proposed to publish the names of all signers of petitions for saloon licenses, with their church connection, if any, and thus cause them to make a stand for or against the cause.


Apollo Lodge No. 437, F. & A. M., was instituted March 4, 1869. Membership, 42.

Mineral Point Lodge No. 614, I. 0. 0. F., was instituted Dec. 14, 1867. Members, 75. Kiskiminetas Encampment, No. 192, was instituted Dec. 13, 1869. Membership, 30.

Conewago Tribe No. 228, I. O. R. M., was organized in 1875. Membership, 20.


The Charleston Guards were organized in 1840, and were merged with the Independent Blues of Apollo, a volunteer company, in 1848. The first captain of the latter organization was Thomas C. McCulloch, afterward a practicing physician of Kittanning. After his removal from Apollo he was succeeded by Samuel Owens in 1855, A. J. Marshall in 1856, J. C. Crawford in 1858 and Samuel M. Jackson, immediately after the firing on Sumter in April, 1861. The services of the Blues were promptly tendered on President Lincoln's first call for 75,000 troops, but not in time to be then accepted. It was directed by Governor Curtin to be held in readiness for future service, and June 5, 1861, it left Apollo for Camp Wright, and was assigned as Company G to the 11th regiment of Pennsylvania Reserves, in which it served valiantly during the war. Captain Jackson having been promoted to the rank of colonel Dec. 13, 1863, First Lieut. James P. Speer succeeded him as captain, and, on his subsequent promotion to the rank of major, was succeeded by First Sergt. James H. Mills, who continued to be its captain until that regiment was honorably mustered out of the service after the close of the war. The ranks of that company were filled by gallant and patriotic men, not only from Apollo but from the surrounding country. Among its heroic deeds was its participation in the notable charge upon the Rebel breastworks at Spottsylvania.

Charles S. Whitworth Post No. 89, Grand Army of the Republic, has but twenty-four members in 1913, but the combined ages of these old veterans is 1,754 years. The youngest is sixty-seven years and the oldest eighty-two.


The first resident lawyer in 1855 was Jacob Freetly, who later united with John B. Guthrie, their successor being Walter Guthrie. Horace N. McIntyre also practiced in 1883. The present resident members of the bar are J. Q. Cochrane and his sons, Earl F. and Alexander M.

The first resident physician was Robert McKissen, whose successors at different periods have been William Brown; William P. McCulloch, who was surgeon, or assistant surgeon, in the 78th Regiment, Pa. Vols.; Thomas C. McCulloch, Thomas H. Allison, William McBriar, 0. P. Bollinger, J. S. McNutt, W. B. Ansley, J. W. Bell and Robert E. McCauley. A dentist was first assessed in 1851.

The members of the medical profession now resident in Apollo are Drs. Thomas J. Henry, James C. Hunter, A. Howard Townsend, William W. Leech and Robert E. McAuley, retired. The dentists now here are Drs. C. Cameron and J. W. Currie.



Prior to the incorporation of the borough schools were taught in two separate log structures a short distance east of the town, and then in another in a hollow near the forks of a run. The first stood above the old graveyard on the State road in what is now Owens' field. It was made of hewed logs, one story high, with a fireplace on one side wide enough to hold logs six feet long. Backless seats ran across the room, and desks were arranged along the sides, so that the scholars stood facing the teacher. Sliding windows at intervals gave some light. Samuel Owens (later an attorney and judge of court in California) and a Mr. Beacon were successively masters here. The late William McKinstry attended school there in 1825.

The second schoolhouse was erected on the run in the rear of the old Presbyterian church, the Owens farm at that time. It was taught by Jack Brown, grandfather of J. J. Brown and Mrs. Henry Bowers, now living in Apollo.

Soon after the organization of the borough, in 1850, a frame schoolhouse was erected on Church street. After seeing good service, this building was purchased by Alexander Henry, remodeled and used as a dwelling. It still stands on the corner of Pennsylvania avenue and Third street, and is owned by William Kirkwood. The bell that swung in the little tower is now doing duty in the new building. In 1863 a two-story frame schoolhouse was erected on Mill street near Wood, well furnished, and containing six schoolrooms.

The first board of school directors was elected at the spring election in 1850, and consisted of William C. Bovard, John B. Chambers, John T. Smith, Thomas Cochran, Samuel Owens and H. M. G. Skiles.

In 1860 the number of teachers was 2; scholars in attendance, 119; amount of State appropriation, $48.71; from collector of township, $264.61; general expenses, $228.60.

In 1876 the number of schools was 5; average number months taught, 4-7/8; male teacher, 1; female teachers, 4; average salary of male teacher per month, $60; average salary of female teachers per month, $42.50; male scholars, 129; female scholars, 134; average number attending school, 211; cost per month for each scholar, 86 cents; total amount tax levied for school and building purposes, $3,299.40; received from State appropriation, $292.95; from taxes and other sources, $2,526.18; cost of schoolhouse, $646.19; paid for teachers' wages, $820; paid for fuel, collector's fees, contingencies, and other expenses, $1,335.42.

In 1913 the number of schools was 14; average months taught 9; male teachers, 2; female teachers, 14; average salaries, male, $110; female, $48.93; male scholars, 324; female scholars, 348; average attendance, 580; cost per month, $2.00; tax levied, $9,775.69; received from State, 3,231.52; other sources, 1,446.57; value of schoolhouses, $18,000; teachers' wages, $8,145; fuel, fees, etc., $7,831.61.

The school directors are: A. D. Stewart, president; C. H. Truby, secretary; J. N. Nelson, treasurer; W. M. Biehl, Milo D. Shaw, W. J. Henry.


In 1850 the number of white inhabitants was 329; colored inhabitants, 2. In 1860, white, 449. In 1870, white 762; colored, 2. The number of taxables in 1876 was 315.

In 1876 the population was 1,449; in 1890, 2,156; in 1900, 2,924; in 1910, 3,006.

The assessment list of 1876 showed the various avocations to be: Clergymen, 4; lawyer, 1; physicians, 3; teachers, 2; dentist, 1; laborers, 90; carpenters, 10; blacksmiths, 6; shoemakers, 3; saddlers, 2; painters, 3; tailors, 2; clerks, 12; cashier, 1; wagonmakers, 2; tanners, 2; tinners, 2; weaver, 1; watchmaker, 1; cigarmakers, 3; miller, 1; plasterer, 1; barber, 1; tollkeeper, 1; printer, 1; rollturner, 1; rollers, 2; puddler, 1; miners, 6; engineers, 3; heaters, 4; manager, 1; agent, 1; haulers, 2; stonemasons, 3; butchers, 3; bookkeeper, 1; farmer, 1; planingmill, 1; planer, 1; foundry, 1; foundryman, 1; old gentlemen, 4.

In 1913 the assessment returns were: Number of acres, 9, valued at $12,500; houses and lots, 804, valued at $538,475; average, $672.88; horses, 126, value, $5,215; average, $45.88; cows, 11, value, $345; average $28.85; taxables, 1,077; total valuation, $606,335. Money at interest, $89,245.71.


One of the interesting residents of the town is the "Borough Horse." A newspaper controversy arose over his purchase and under the above caption many a witticism was printed, aimed at contemporary occurrences.

John Marshall raised him and in 1893 sold him to Joseph Owens for $85. Owens sold him to the borough of Apollo for $180. Some persons claimed at that time that he was defective, yet in 1913, when he was twenty-four years old, he was still pulling a wagon every working day for the street cleaning department.

Source: Page(s) 146-155, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J. H. Beers & Co., 19114.
Transcribed September 1999 by Sara Stewart for the Armstrong County Smith Project.
Contributed by Sara Stewart for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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