Notes:Forward Avenue

From Pittsburgh Streets

To do

Source:Ordinance-1896-153 vacated "Forward avenue, or that part of the old Four-Mile-Run road, between Shady avenue and Pocussett street."

Source:Lambing, pp. 112–113:

Walter Forward succeeded Judge Hepburn [as President Judge of the District Court of Allegheny County], and was the first President Judge of the District Court elected by the people. He was commissioned November 7, 1851, and held the office till his death, Nov. 24, 1852.

Walter Forward was born in Connecticut, in 1786. When he was fourteen years of age his father moved to the then far West, located on a tract of land in Ohio, and began to clear the forest and erect a log cabin. He worked with his father three years on the farm, the last year teaching a night school, by which he got the means to purchase a few books, among them an old copy of Blackstone, that started in his mind the notion of being a lawyer. In the spring of 1803, at the age of seventeen, he told his father he was going to Pittsburgh to read law. He started on foot with a small bundle of clothes hung on a stick over his shoulder, and only a dollar or so in his pocket. On the road he picked up a horseshoe and put it in his bundle. When he arrived in Allegheny he had no money to pay his ferriage across the river, but the ferryman took the horseshoe in payment. He knew no person or lawyer in Pittsburgh, but had heard of Henry Baldwin. Walking along Market Street, reading the signs to find Mr. Baldwin's office, a man, in the act of mounting a horse, inquired what he was looking for. On being informed of his object and purpose, the man—it was Henry Baldwin just starting to attend Court at Kittanning—gave him the key to his office, and told him to occupy it and read Blackstone till his return. Such was the introduction of the future Secretary of the Treasury to the future Judge of the Supreme Court.

While the young, uncouth stranger was thus sitting and reading in the office alone, a well-dressed, well-educated, and talented young man entered and tackled the rustic stranger in argument, but was soon worsted, as he afterwards candidly admitted. It was H. M. Brackenridge. The acquaintance thus formed ripened into a life-long intimacy. As a further illustration of young Forward's straitened circumstances at that time, Mr. Brackenridge says: "We took a walk one Saturday afternoon, and descended into the deep, romantic glens east of Grant's Hill. We took a shower bath under my favorite cascade, after which my companion washed the garment unknown to the luxury of Greeks and Romans (his shirt) and laid it in a sunny spot to dry; while seated on a rock we 'reasoned high of fate, foreknowledge.'"—Brackenridge's Recollections of the West, p. 82.

Mr. Baldwin, at that time, was interested in a Republican newspaper called the Tree of Liberty, of which Mr. Forward became the editor in 1806, when nineteen years of age. What he received for his services as contributor and editor of that paper, supported him till he was admitted to the bar in 1808. He soon rose to distinction at the bar as a man of rare intellectual endowments and an eloquent advocate. In 1822 he was elected to Congress, and again in 1824. In 1824 and 1828 he supported John Quincy Adams for President in opposition to General Jackson. In 1837 he was a member of the State Constitutional Convention, and bore a conspicuous part in its deliberations; in 1841 was appointed by President Harrison first Controller of the Treasury; in September of that year was appointed by President Tyler Secretary of the Treasury; retiring from that office in March, 1845, he resumed the practice of law in Pittsburgh; in 1849 was appointed by President Tyler Charge d'Affairs to the Court of Denmark; and resigned in 1851 when elected President Judge of the District Court.

Judge Forward came to the bar when such men as James Ross, Henry Baldwin, Wm. Wilkins, John Woods, Steele Sample, Sidney Mountain, were the leaders; yet in a few years he stood their peer in all respects, and was employed in every important cause. His arguments to the court or jury were never long or tedious; always brief, but directly to the point, and masterly in their clear logic and forcible presentation. In a celebrated case, where the opposite counsel had occupied days in their argument, Mr. Forward spoke less than two hours, and at the conclusion of his argument Chief Justice Gibson adjourned the court, with the remark that "the law was not devoid of luxuries when the Judges had an opportunity of listening to such an argument as that." Yet the heads of that argument were written in the kitchen, while his wife was preparing their meal—an incident illustrating the strong social affections of the heart, as well as the greatness of intellect.

Judge Forward was a great man intellectually, morally, and socially. And, like all truly great men, he was modest and unassuming, candid and sincere, not envious or jealous, rejoicing at the success of others, and always ready to give a kind word or a helping hand to those starting in life. The religious element was strong in his character, resulting in a life remarkably exemplary, pure, and spotless. He was exceptionally domestic in his habits, devotedly attached to his home, and delighted in social enjoyments. His conversational powers were of the highest order. Like Chief Justice Marshall and Chief Justice Gibson, he was passionately fond of music, and was a good performer on the violin. His "bump" of order, however, was not largely developed. His office was filled with books and papers, lying about on tables and chairs, mingled with letters, essays, music, and musical instruments, while the corners of the room were stacked with guns, hunting accoutrements, and farming implements, covered with dust; for he would scarcely allow a servant to "put things to rights," for fear he could not lay his hand on what he wanted.

Judge Forward was on the bench only one year. Like Lord Eldon, he was sometimes called the "doubter," because he was slow in deciding an important question. Weak men jump to a conclusion, for their vision cannot reach beyond the case in hand. A great man looks beyond, to see how the principle will apply to other cases. He is careful that a hasty decision shall not establish a precedent to work injustice in the future. The last case Judge Forward tried was an important will case, which took several days. He walked in from his country home to the court-house, Monday, Nov. 24, 1852. It was a cold, damp day. The court-room was very uncomfortable, and he had a chill just before charging the jury. The jury retired in the afternoon, and he went to his lodgings. Before the jury had agreed upon their verdict, Walter Forward was dead. Perhaps no man ever died in the county more sincerely lamented, or more beloved and esteemed by the people. He was admired for his great intellectual abilities, and loved for his great moral excellence. And Walter Forword [sic] loved the people; not as a demagogue or office seeker, but as a man and patriot. His highest ambition was to be a useful man.

Source:History-pgh-environs-2, p. 191: "Two years later [1846] he [Hopewell Hepburn] was appointed presiding judge [of the District Court of Allegheny County]; this position he held until November 3, 1851, when he was defeated by Walter Forward. The latter had already gained prominence in not only local affairs, but was known nationally. Born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1786, he came to Pittsburgh in 1803 to read law with another native of Connecticut, Henry Baldwin. He was admitted to the bar November 12, 1806, became a successful lawyer, and was the leader of the bar at an early age. When thirty-six years of age, he succeeded his preceptor in the lower house of Congress. He was made the first comptroller of the United States Treasury, and President Tyler made him a member of his cabinet, giving him the portfolio of secretary of the treasury. He resigned this position February 28, 1843, and returned to Pittsburgh to practice law. President Tyler appointed him minister to Denmark, which position he resigned October 10, 1851, and came home to accept the office of presiding judge of the District Court. He only served a year on the bench; he took a chill in the court house after charging the jury on a contested will case; before the jury returned with the verdict, the judge had expired. Judge Forward was a lawyer, statesman, and orator; a giant both intellectually and physically, equally eloquent and impressive whether before court, before a jury, or on the political platform. As a lawyer he had in his day no equal; a thorough scholar and student of the law, his cases for trial were prepared with painstaking care. Though a man of legal knowledge and extensive practice, his excess of good nature and generosity did not allow him to accumulate but little of this world's goods for a rainy day."

Source:Kussart, p. 10: "The Greenfield district was the home of men prominent in Pittsburgh's public and business life in early days. Judge Walter Forward, one of the most eminent men and brilliant scholars Pittsburgh ever produced, lived here, and Forward Avenue was named for him. He was a member of Congress, Secretary of the Treasury (15) during the administration of President Tyler, and was appointed charge-d'-affairs to Denmark, by President Taylor. He resigned this post, in 1851, when elected President Judge of the District Court of Allegheny County, Pa. His death occurred Nov. 24, 1852."

Source:Miller-chronicles, pp. 107–108:


One of the brilliant lawyers of Allegheny County arrived in Pittsburgh from the State of Ohio, in 1803, when a boy of seventeen, with his few belongings in a bundle on a stick over his shoulder, and nothing but a lucky horseshoe to pay the ferryman's fee across the river. He had heard of the great lawyer, Henry Baldwin, and his one ambition was to read law in Judge Baldwin's office. As he stood in the street in the strange city, uncertain which way to turn to find the law offices, a man mounting a horse nearby asked the boy what he was looking for. Judge Baldwin, for such it was, listened to the lad's brief story, then handed him the key to his office and said, "Go study Blackstone till I come back".

This boy, Walter Forward, was later member of Congress, Charge d'Affaires to Denmark, President Judge of the District Court of Allegheny County, and in 1841 Secretary of the Treasury. During the administration of President Tyler, Pittsburgh had two splendid representatives in the Cabinet, the Hon. Walter Forward, Secretary of the Treasury, and the Hon. William Wilkins, Secretary of War.

In 1808 Mr. Forward married Henrietta Barclay, of Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

The Pittsburgh Directory for 1837 records the dwelling house of Walter Forward in Hay's Row, Penn Avenue, near Pitt (Fifth) Street, but the country house known to have been built and the farm to have been beautified by Mr. Forward in 1839 was on Squirrel Hill, then a most rural district. The house still stands on Shady Avenue, near Forward Avenue, with a few of the old trees he planted and cherished like his children. The house is but one story, with an added half-story at the rear. A great one-piece door opens into a wide hall with two sturdy, carved arches of oak. The big square rooms have been the scene of much gayety, for the Forwards entertained generously. Their daughter's wedding was long remembered. Mr. Forward was very fond of music, and his diversion was his violin.

The original farm was about 160 acres, and there was a famous cool spring. The springhouse was a thing of beauty, a mass of Virginia creeper, and an immense lilac tree was one of the charms of the garden.

Mr. Forward's hobby was planting trees, both ornamental and fruit trees. His pear and cherry trees were noted in all this section of the State.

Source:Wilson-helen, p. 20: "Another Squirrel Hill road named after an early historical figure is Forward Avenue, named for Walter Forward (1786–1852), whose estate was located there. Among the positions Forward held were U.S. congressman, secretary of the treasury and presiding judge of the District Court of Allegheny County. ¶ . . . ¶ Forward Avenue is an old road, based on a route that travelers from eastern Pennsylvania took through Squirrel Hill to get to downtown Pittsburgh."