Chronology of Western Pennsylvania -- 1800-1859

Created: Thursday, 14 March 2013 Last Updated: Thursday, 14 March 2013 Written by Carol Eddleman Print Email

From a series of four brochures entitled "Pittsburgh Frontier To Future."

1800, June 28 - Zadok Cramer buys stock in John Gilkeson's book store and opens his own book­selling business in Pittsburgh. Later, Cramer offers for sale "any quantity of Dutch and English Almanacks, for the year 1801 ... " His circulating library opens June 12, 1801.

1800, Aug 16 - H. H. Brackenridge sponsors Pittsburgh's second newspaper, the "Jeffersonial Tree of Liberty." The population of Allegheny County is 15,087 and Pittsburgh's is 1565.

1802, Feb 26 - Zadok Cramer publishes the first of many editions of "The Navigator," an informative guide to the western rivers.

1803. Jan 1 - A traveling group, Bromley & Arnold, presents scenes from "The Poor Soldier" and "The Mad Actor." The performance takes place at the courthouse.

1802, Jan 16 - The brig "Dean" sails from Pittsburgh, beginning one of the first transatlantic voyages by a Pittsburgh vessel. "Dean" calls at Liverpool and ports on the European continent.

1802, Feb 18 - James O'Hara announces the opening of his Pittsburgh Point Brewery. Also this month Samuel Haslam founded Pittsburgh's first cotton factory.

1804, Jan 13 - Directors are chosen for the Pittsburgh branch of the Bank of Pennsylvania. Among them are Presley Neville, James O'Hara, Ebenezer Denny and Joseph Barker.

During the summer of 1804 weekly stagecoach travel begins between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. And Joseph McClurg establishes the Pittsburgh Foundry, predecessor to the Mackintosh-Hemphill Company.

1805, Feb 15 - The articles of association for George Rapp's Harmony Society are signed. The association builds a model community at Harmony in Butler County,

1805, Jul 24 - "The Commonwealth," a radical newspaper is published.

1806 Jan 8 - Thomas Stewart kills Tarleton Bates near the end of present-day Bates Street in Pittsburgh's last recorded duel.

1806, Jun 11 - An advertisement for the construction of a turnpike from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg appears in Pittsburgh newspapers.

1808 - Benjamin Bakewell and Thomas Pears found Bakewell, Pears and Co., one of Pittsburgh's most important glassworks.

1809, Sep 13 - George Evans operates Pittsburgh's first steam grist mill. With an engine constructed by Oliver Evans, the Pittsburgh Steam Flour Mill grinds 19 bushels of flour an hour on an early trial run.

1810, Feb - Pittsburgh opens its second bank, the Bank of Pittsburgh, but restrictive legislation requires it to operate until 1814 as the Pittsburgh Manufacturing Company.

Pittsburgh has now grown to 4,786 people, and the county to 25,317 persons.

1811, Jun 24 - Lodge number 45 of the Free & Accepted Masons dedicates Pittsburgh's Masonic Hall.

1811, Aug - Bishop Egan of Philadelphia dedicates St. Patrick's Church at Liberty and Washington Streets. St. Patrick's is Pittsburgh's first Roman Catholic Church.

1811, Oct 20 - "New Orleans," first steamboat on western waters, leaves Pittsburgh on her maiden voyage down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The boat, financed by Nicholas Roosevelt, carries him and his wife to New Orleans.

1812, May 22 - George Evans announces that the Pittsburgh Steam Engine Company is "ready to contract for the supplying of STEAM ENGINES .... "

Christopher Cowan, an Englishman, builds Pittsburgh's first sheet-iron rolling mill.

1813. May 10 - The Reverend Joseph Stockton organizes the Humane Society "to supply the wants of the hungry, the naked, and the aged."

1813. Aug 1-2 - Pittsburgh troops fight during the siege of Fort Stevenson in the Sandusky campaign of the War of 1812.

1813. Aug 28 - The Pittsburgh Theatre, the city's first, presents a melodrama, "The Tale of Mystery."

1813. Sep 10 - Western Pennsylvanians are with Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry at his victory over the British at Lake Erie. John Irwin's ropewalk across the Allegheny River provides the commodore's fleet with necesary cordage, and Joseph McClurg's Pittsburgh Foundry supplies Perry's ships with ordnance.

1814, Oct - Benjamin Latrobe draws Uf' plans for the United States Allegheny Arsenal. This arsenal supplied munitions until after the Civil War.

1815. Jul - "Enterprise" returns to Pittsburgh after delivering badly needed supplies to Jackson's army at New Orleans. The steamer is the first to ascend the western waters.

1815. Dec 6 - Jane Grey Swisshelm, advocate of women's rights is born.

The "Pittsburgh Directory. 1815," the town's first City Directory is published by James M. Riddle.

1816. Mar 18 - Pittsburgh is incorporated as a city. On July 9 City councils meet and elect Ebenezer Denny, Revolutionary War veteran, as Pittsburgh's first mayor.

1817. Spring - "Pilot Tom" Jones begins shipping coal downriver to Maysville, Ky.

1817, May ·31 - The Pittsburgh and Harrisburg turnpike is completed at a cost of $450,000.

1817 Sep - H. Childs and Co. (now Childs Corp.) is formed. The oldest company continuously operating under the same name.

1818, Apr 6 - Joseph Pluymart and Daniel Emmons rob the Farmers & Mechanics Bank. The theft of $104,000 is Pittsburgh's first bank robbery.

1818, Nov 21 - The first bridge over the Monongahela River is completed. Cost: $110,000.

The Bethel A.M.E. Church, one of the oldest black churches west of the Allegheny Mountains is founded as a Sunday school in a lane between Third and Fourth Avenues.

1819, Feb 18 - Pennsylvania charters the Pittsburgh Academy as the Western University of Pennsylvania.

1819, Nov 2 - The first bridge over the Allegheny River opens to traffic.

1820 - Pittsburgh's· population is 7,248; Allegheny County has 34,92L

1823, Jul 4 - Western University of Pittsburgh issues diplomas to its first graduating class.

This same year Pittsburgh's first free public library, the Apprentice Library. is started for use by apprentice boys in factories and mills.

1823, Spring - Thomas Mellon, founder of the Pittsburgh banking family, visits the city for the first time.

1825, Jun 17 - The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church announces that it will establish the Western Theological Seminary (now Pittsburgh Theological Seminary). First classes are held in 1827 at the First Presbyterian Church until buildings are completed· in Allegheny City in 1831.

1826, Jul 4 - Stephen Collins Foster, one of America's greatest song writers, is born in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh.

1827. Nov 22 - Western Penitentiary is completed on the commons of Old Allegheny (city) at a cost of $650,000.

1828. Apr 14 - The state legislature incorporates Allegheny (city) as a borough.

1828. Sep 8 - J.R. Lambdin opens Pittsburgh's first museum and art gallery. Henry S. and Charles F. Spang begin the Etna Iron Works and produce the first iron tUbing west of the Allegheny mountains.

1829. Jun 29 - The cornerstone is laid for St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church.

1829. Nov 10 - The wooden aqueduct carrying the Pennsyvlania Canal over the Allegheny River into Pittsburgh officially opens.

1830 - Pittsburgh's population is 12.568, Allegheny City has 2,801, and the County 50,552.

1831 - David G. Blythe, later one of Pittsburgh's foremost painters, comes to the city to work as an apprentice to woodcarver Joseph Woodwell. John H. Mellor begins his music business at 122 Wood Street.

1832, Feb 10 - Pittsburgh suffers one of its worst floods when the Ohio River at the Point crests at 38 feet. In June of that year Asiatic cholera strikes the city.

J.J. Gillespie opens his painting and art shop on Wood Street, it is still in existence today.

The Orphan Society of Pittsburgh (later the Protestant Home for Children) is founded.

1833, June - Western Female Collegiate Institute is formed, with a faculty of seven.

1833, July 30 - The Pittsburgh Gazette changes from a weekly to a daily newspaper.

1834, Feb 27 - The Historical Society of Pittsburgh (now Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania) is organized.

1834, Mar 18 - The Allegheny-Portage Railroad officially opens. Travelers can now journey from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia entirely by canal and rail. Pittsburgh companies provide the stationary steam engines for the railroad's inclined planes.

1834, Apr 1 - Governor George Wolf approves a "common school law." It forms the basis for the public school system. Also this year Pittsburgh Gas Company receives a contract to lay 3,000 feet of underground pipes for the city's gas system.

1835, Sep 11 - Pittsburgh's first public school opens at Smithfield and Water Streets, with one teacher and five male pupils.

1836, Mar 26 - An ordinance is passed establishing a police "night watch" to secure our citizens in their persons and property. City council also decided that the first "cut"
should be made toward leveling Grant's Hill.

1836, Mar 31 - The Monongahela Navigation Company, capitalized at $300,000, is formed to provide slackwater improvements on the Monongahela River.

1836, Oct 31 - Construction begins on Pittsburgh's second courthouse. The structure located on "Grant's Hill" is completed in 1841.

1838, Mar 16 - The sternwheeler "Davy Crockett" is the first towboat on the Monongahela River.

183S, Sep 9 - Robinson, Minis and Miller launch the Valley Forge America's first iron-hulled steamboat here.

1840, Apr 13 - Allegheny (City) is incorporated as a City.

Peter Duff establishes Duff's Merchantile College. The school (now Duff's Business Institute) is the first business college in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh's population is 21,515; Allegheny City is 10,089 and the County is 81,235.

1841, Apr 20 - The Monongahela House, one of the city's finest hotels, opens.

1842, May 19 - The partnership of Stackhouse and Tomlinson receives a contract to build the "U.S.S. Michigan," the U.S. Navy's first iron steam warship.

In Sept. of this year Pittsburg's "Daily Morning Post" (newspaper) begins publication.

Two year old Henry W. Oliver arrives in Allegheny City with his family from Dungannon, Ireland.

1843, Aug 7 - The Catholic diocese of Pittsburgh is formed, with Michael O'Connor appointed bishop.

1843, Dec 5 - The "U.S.S. Michigan," after being hauled in pieces and re-assembled, is launched at Erie, Pa. on Lake Erie.

1844, Apr 24 - Allegheny Cemetery is incorporated.

1844, May 22 - Mary Cassatt. the impressionist painter, is born in Allegheny City.

1845. Apr 10 - Fifty-six acres and 1,000 buildings in the heart of the city are destroyed by the Great Fire. Total damages amount to between $10 & $20 million. The city loses such landmarks as the Monongahela House, Bank of Pittsburgh, Western University, and the Monongahela Bridge.

1845, May 22 - Water is admitted to John A. Roebling's wire-cable suspension aqueduct. It carries the Pennsyvlania Canal over the Allegheny river into Pittsburgh.

1845, June - The "Walter Forward" is the first steamer to tow coal down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh.

James Rees, former employee of Stackhouse & Tomlinson, opens his own machine shop. Later, James Rees & Sons Company becomes an important boat and steam engine builder.

1846, Feb - Roebling's suspension bridge over the Monongahela river opens.

1846, oec 22 - The "Duquesne Greys," and the "Jackson Blues" leave Pittsburgh for New Orleans and eventual service in the Mexican War.

1846, Dec 29 - Pennsylvania Adjutant General Bowman sends the first telegraph message from Pittsburgh.

IB47, Jan - The Sisters of Mercy open a temporary hospital in the old Concert Hall.

1847, Feb 22 - The 1,000 ton iron steam frigate The Allegheny is launched at the Stackhouse & Tomlinson yards.

1847, Nov 27 - The "Duquesne Greys" and the "Jackson Blues" are present at the siege of Puebla during General Winfield Scott's Mexico City campaign (in the Mexican War).

1847, Dec 9 - The "Commercial Journal" (newspaper) receives the first telegraphic message sent to Pittsburgh by an American president.

1848, Jan 1848 - Dr. William M. Wright uses chloroform for a tooth extraction.

1848, Feb 1 - Pittsburgh's "Sunday Mercury" is the first newspaper published in the city on Sunday.

1848, Mar 18 - The Western Pennsyvlania Hospital is incorporated.

1848, May - Sisters of Mercy open Pittsburgh's first permanent hospital on Stevenson Street. It has 60 beds.

1848, July - Andrew Carnegie, aged 13, arrives in Allegheny from Scotland.

1849, Feb 22 - Joseph Horne begins a wholesale and retail business, today known as the Joseph Horne Company.

Charles Avery founds a school for black youth. W.A. Passavant establishes an infirmary on Fleming Street in Allegheny City. Curtis G. Hussey forms the C.G. Hussey Company to roll and market sheet copper. James Anderson opens a library for apprentices in Allegheny City. Andrew Carnegie is one of the library's patrons.

1850, Jan 8 - Joseph Barker, while serving a term in jail for street preaching, is elected mayor of the city.

1850 - Pittsburgh's population is 46,601, Allegheny City is 21,262 and Allegheny County numbers 138,290.

1850, Feb 16 - Striking iron puddlers and boilers march in protest against the use of strike­breakers by Pittsburgh's iron mills.

1850, Sep 10 - Pennsylvania Railroad between Johnstown and Pittsburgh is opened.

1851, Jan 14 - Jane Grey Swisshelm receives three votes in the city's mayoral election.

1851, Apr 25 - Jenny Lind, the "Swedish Nightingale," performs in the Masonic Hall.

A permanent Board of Health is established. William Shinn, a well-known Pittsburgh lawyer, founds Evergreen Hamlet in Ross Township. 8enjamin F. Jones associates with Bernard Lauth's American Iron Works. James Laughlin joins the new Jones, Lauth and Company in 1854. In 1857 that company becomes Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation. In July 1851 the Pennsylvania and Ohio Railroad opened to New Brighton, Pa.

1852, Jan 22 - Louis Kossuth, fighter for Hungarian independence, visits Pittsburgh during his American tour.

1852, Apr 18 - Flood. River marks 31 feet 9 inches.

1852, Aug 18 - The Pennsylvania and Ohio Railroad opens service from Pittsburgh to Cleveland. On Dec. 10 of this year the Pennsylvania Railroad opens its Western Division. Pittsburgh for the first time has continuous rail service to the east. The old Portage Railroad, however, remains the connection through the mountains.

1853 - Pittsburgh's second post office, which includes other federal offices, is completed at Fifth Avenue and Smithfield Street.

1854, Feb 15 - Trains between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia begin using the new Summit Tunnel on the PRR. The Portage Railroad is no longer needed for rail service to the east.

1854, Mar 22 - A bill is introduced in the state legislature to consolidate the cities of Pittsburgh and Allegheny along with other surrounding communities.

Samuel M. Kier sets up .the first commercial oil refinery in the city. Pittsburgh suffers through one of its worst cholera epidemics.

1855, Mar 24 - Andrew W. Mellon is born in Pittsburgh. On Aug. 29 Allegheny County holds its first Republication convention. On Sept. 25 Central High School opens with 133 pupils.

1856, Jan 25 - The Allegheny Valley Railroad. later an important oil carrier, opens between Pittsburgh and Kittanning (in Armstrong County).

1856, Feb 22 - The first national convention of the Republican party is called to order here.

1856, Jul 29 - Directors are selected for the newly incorporated Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railroad. This line is intended to give the Pennsyvlania Railroad access to the west.

1857, Feb 23 - Margaret Deland, the novelist, is born in Allegheny City.

1857, Jun 25 - The PRR buys the old Pa. Canal for $7.5 million.

1857, Sep 21 - A Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago train crosses the Allegheny river into the city over a new railroad bridge.

1857, Sep 28 - Several Pittsburgh banks agree to suspend specie payments as the Panic of 1857 spreads westward.

In December the Pittsburgh councils pass an ordinance creating a permanent police department.

1858, May 26 - The United Presbyterian Church of North America is formed here through the merger of the Associate Reformed and Associate Synods.

1858, Nov 26 - the Western Pennsyvlania Historical Society is officially organized.

The suns of the Vulcan, an association of iron puddlers and boilers is formed here. Anthony and Andrew Kloman open a small forge on Girty's Run in Millvale. The Klomans' shop later forms the basis for Carnegie's iron and steel empire.

1859, Mar 2 - Allegheny Observatory is founded when 25 donors pay $100 each to purchase a telescope. The Observatory is incorporated a year later.

On July 19 the cornerstone is laid for ~Dxmont State Hospital. On August 5th, the Citizens Passenger Railway Company runs its first horse-drawn streetcar in the city. The line later extends to Lawrenceville. On August 27 Edwin L. Drake strikes oil at his well near Titusville. Drake is the first to drill specifically for oil; his achievements mark the beginning of the petroleum industry in America. On Nov 16 Graff, Bennett & Co. 's Clinton furnaces produces pig iron using coke for fuel. The furnace is the first in the county since that of George Anshutz in 1793. Also this year, the Pittsburgh volunteer fire company acquires its first steam fire engine. The earliest fire company was the Vigilante Fire Company which was organized May 31, 1811.