From Pittsburgh Streets
How it Was Founded—Interesting Historical Incidents Recalled.

The borough of Birmingham was laid out in 1811. It was cut out of St. Clair township. As Dr. Bedford owned all of the land included in the borough he laid out the streets to suit his own taste and had the land surveyed and sold the lots at auction. A large portion of the property he retained in his own name. This was situated in the lower portion of the town and adjoined the old Bedford homestead.

Dr. Bedford was an English physician and was a prominent figure in the early history of Pittsburg. He was born in Birmingham, England, in 1754, and came to Pittsburg about 1770. In after years he was known as the first regular physician in Pittsburg.

In 1787 he married Miss Jane Armsby [sic], the daughter of John Ormsby, the pioneer on that side of the Monongahela river. His father-in-law settled on a tract of land upon him which is now the Twenty-seventh, Twenty-eighth and Twenty-ninth wards. The doctor made his home upon this tract and a portion of his homestead remained until a few years ago, when it was demolished for the Twelfth street incline.

In 1798 a lottery was organized in Pittsburg to raise money to erect a pier along the banks of the river to keep the water from encroaching upon the land. Dr. Bedford was one of the managers of this lottery and assisted in the selling of 6,000 tickets at $5 each. The board consisted of nine members, all of whom were prominent citizens of Pittsburg.

Carson street was called after an old sea captain living in Philadelphia, with whom Dr. Bedford had a slight acquaintance. The remainder of the streets in the borough were named after his relatives, and several of them still retain the names given them by the founder of the town. Among these are Bingham street, named after Mrs. Martha Bingham, of Birmingham, England; Jane street, after his youngest sister, Miss Jane Bedford; and Sidney street, for his sister-in-law, Miss Sidney Ormsby.

Dr. Bedford died March 21, 1818, and was buried in a vault on the hill side above his home, near the present residence of John Nusser, at the head of South Twelfth street.

Before his death he superintended the construction of the vault. He was buried with the masonic rites, and in 1822 a sandstone monument, designed by himself, and covered with masonic emblems, was erected over his remains.

At the time of the anti-masonic excitement the monument was thrown down and covered, but was afterward replaced. The Bedford property was finally sold at sheriff's sale, and was bought by George Duncan, of Beaver Falls.

The part containing the grave was finally sold to the German methodist congregation, who erected a small brick church. When the church was built the body was reinterred some distance above the former resting place, on the edge of the hill overlooking the church building.

The present market house in the South Side Diamond has been the fifth structure that has been erected since the incorporation of the borough of Birmingham. When Dr. Bedford laid out the town of Birmingham in 1811 he donated the peice [sic] of ground on which the present handsome structure stands for market purposes. From this it became known as Bedford and later Market square. The first public market was built about 1813. It was a frame one-story building set upon posts. At one end was a public school, which was attended by many South Siders still living. Among them is John Gallagher, of Bingham street, who remembers very well the market and school. Afterwards the posts were cut out and the building dropped down to the ground. Later is [sic] was moved around to Thirteenth street, between Muriel and old Neville streets, and made into three dwelling houses. A one-story brick structure took its place. This was the second market, and was owned by a stock company. It paid large dividends and was afterwards purchased by Birmingham town. The one-story structure building gave way to a two-story structure, about 125 feet long, and through which an arcade was built. In the arcade were the first public hay and cattle scales, on the south side of the Monongahela river.

In 1862 the next market house was erected. This building was in use until 1871. In 1871 this market house gave way to the one that was burned. There are few people living at the present time but who remember it. The first floor only was devoted to market purposes, while the second story was the Birmingham town hall. Here all meetings of the Birmingham council and the offices of the borough were located. The large hall on the second floor was named Salisbury hall, in honor of 'Squire Salisbury, then burgess of the borough.

The event of the opening of thetown [sic] hall was a ball by the old Mechanics' volunteer fire company.

The opening was a town event. At that time Birmingham was not included in the city, and the building was built more for a town hall than anything else. The offices of the borough were in the lower end. The space not utilized by the borough was given to market purposes. Between 4,000 and 5,000 people tried to get into the place on the opening night.

At that time there were three volunteer fire companies on that side of the river. The Mechanics' was housed on Fourteenth street, in a building opposite St. John's church, which was used later as a police patrol station. The Walton company was in East Birmingham, with headquarters on Sarah street above Twentieth street, now occupied as a stable, while the Ormsby company covered the territory embraced by the borough of that name, but then known as Brownstown. The companies disbanded in January.

The new market house is a two-story structure of brick, the contract for which was let June 23, 1892. The contract price was $33,700. The second floor of the building is reached by easy stairways on both sides of the main entrance at Carson street. The offices of Supt. McDonald and other city officials of the South Side department of public works are in that part of the building.

In talking over old times Daniel Wenke, at one time postmaster of old Birmingham, said to a Press reporter:

"I moved from Bayardstown, now the Ninth and Tenth wards, with my father and mother, to Birmingham in 1839. Then there were but 1,000 people living in the borough, and not over 200 residences. I well remember the first impression I had of our new home. On the lower side of the old pike, now Carson street, all the way from First street to Sixth street was a row of stately willows in the shade of which we boys used to have a great deal of fun. Then there was but one bridge, that was the old Smithfield street bridge. It was a wooden structure and burned down in the fire of 1845. The borough was incorporated, I think, in 1834, and originally extended from McKee, now Tenth street, to Harmony, now Seventeenth street. I well recall the old toll houses that stood at the junction of the old pike and Brownsville road, and at Harmony street. In 1844 a portion of Lower St. Clair township, from Tenth to Sixth streets, was added to the borough.

"There used to be a large apple orchard between Eleventh and Twelft, on the south side of Carson street, that was for years free to everybody. When apples were ripe it was great fun to see the people gathering them. We boys had great sport in pelting each other, as well as passers-by. From 1840 to 1846 Frederick Olnhausen conducted a large pleasure garden that was well patronized by the townspeople. It was bounded by Mary Ann, Dunham [sic], Twelfth and Eleventh streets. In the summer time his place was a great resort for those that wished to spend a pleasant evening.

"One of the earliest industries was the rolling mill operated by James Wood, who afterward sold out to McKnight, Hartman & Co. This mill was between Fifteenth and Sixteenth streets, and is now used by the Olivers as a tinplate mill. In 1850 a big strike occurred at this mill, and a large number of citizens were supplanted by eastern men. The greater portion of the residents of the borough were Welsh, and they resented the bringing in of eastern men. It became necessary for the company to build a large board fence about the entire property, and to call on the sheriff for protection. The company was on the winning side.

"Between the bridge and Sixth street the road at certain times of the year became almost impassable, the wagons often sinking above the hubs. The township authorities then built what they called a corduroy road. Large logs were laid lengthwise in the swamp as stringers, and then other logs were placed across these, making a very rough, but much better road. In 1849 the borough issued bonds bearing six per cent interest, and running five years. The proceeds of these bonds were used in paving Carson street. The bonds were all taken up in their allotted time, and when the borough became a part of the city it did not have one cent of debt.

"In 1850 an omnibus route was started between that side of the river and Pittsburg. They sold out to Barnhardt Beisel in 1856, who ran it until superseded by the horse cars about 1860. In 1844 a German named Weyman conducted a skiff ferry between Sixteenth street nnd [sic] what was then called Pipetown. Henry Whitfield also ran a skiff and float ferry from the foot of Twelfth street. The float was used for vehicles and was propelled by poles. Force Brothers started the first steam ferry, and eventually sold out to the Dalzell Brothers, who operated a ferry from the foot of Twelfth street to the foot of Grant street, Pittsburg.

"The first burgess was Edward Ensel. James Salisbury was burgess for 15 years and 'squire for 30 years. In 1850 William Syms was burgess. When the borough became a part of the city of Pittsburg in 1873, John P. Pears was burgess. Nathaniel Patterson was the 'squire from 1848 to 1853. He was also at one time burgess. Robert Dunken was postmaster from 1840 to 1844; James Barr from '44 to 52, George Dunken from '52 to '56, Daniel Berg from '56 to '61, and Philip Hoer from '68 to '73.

"The first public school was on Fourteenth street. It was a two-room house, the lower floor being used for the boys and the upper floor for the girls. The boys had two male teachers, while the girls had one female teacher. The late Andrew Burtt was one of the first school teachers. He remained until the Bedford school was built in 1853.

"The borough also boasted of an efficient volunteer fire department. At one time there were 200 able bodied men in the company. The engine house stood on Carson street, between Thirteenth and Fourteenth streets. The town house was on Fourteenth, between Carson and Bingham streets. The lower part was used for the 'squire's office and the borough liock-up [sic]. The upper floor was the council chamber. In 1854 a right of way was granted the Monongahela Water Co., who began furnishing water to the borough in 1866. Two of the oldest living residents are Dennis Doran, who has resided on the South Side 65 years, and John Gallaher, who has been there 68 years."