From Pittsburgh Streets
One Man's Recollections of Pittsburgh Covering Three Quarters of a Century

Chapter III.

The Law Took Its Course.

IN 1836, was begun the erection of the new court house, the site of which was on a part of where James Ross resided and in the midst of a fine apple orchard and front garden on the southwardly slope of Grant's hill. The court house was completed in about three years. The new county jail, at the same place, was ready for inmates in 1838, and it was here on March 30, 1838, the second criminal execution in Allegheny county took place. The person executed was a negro, named Galigo, who was hanged for killing another colored man named Rogers. On that occasion the sheriff called out two military companies of the city to guard the jail at the time of the execution. The companies called out were the Duquesne Greys and the Jackson Independent Blues. There was no disturbance and all passed off quietly and in good order.

The first person executed in Allegheny county, I am told, was named Teirnan and was convicted of murdering his wife. The gallows were erected at the foot of Boyd's hill, and the execution was open to the public.

Councils, finding the water works then in operation unable to supply the wants of the growing city, made arrangements to put up a new plant with much larger facilities and for better and more extensive service. So about the year 1837 excavation for the reservoir on Bedford avenue, was begun, and in about two years it was made ready for service. The earth from this excavation was taken over by a tram road to fill a deep ravine that begun near Fulton street and running through what was then called "Scott's fields," about in a line with Franklin street, crossing Washington street and thence into Suke's run, a larger stream that skirted the base of Boyd's hill, and thence to the Monongahela river. The new pumping house was located at the foot of Etna, now Twelfth street.

In the summer of 1838, the campaign for the election of the governor of the State was on. The candidates were David R. Porter, Democratic candidate, and Joseph Ritner, the Whig and Anti-Masonic candidate. The contest was hotly fought by both parties, and the election very close, but the Democratic candidate was the winner. The Democrats that fall held a convention here, lasting three days, in the Graff canal warehouse, as at that time there was no hall in the city large enough to accommodate so large a number of people as attended the convention.

The last day was devoted to a daylight parade. The procession was quite large and made a fine display, with their flags and banners. One of the attractions of the parade was a large boat on wheels and drawn by eight horses. This boat was in imitation of a war vessel and rigged out as near as possible to resemble Commodore Perry's flagship "Lawrence," when he gained the glorious victory over the British at Lake Erie, on September 10, 1813. The parade was intended to commemorate the aninversary [sic] of that victory. Captain John Birmingham, an ardent Democrat and then superintendent of the Western penitentiary, arrayed in naval uniform, was acting commander of the miniature ship, while he had assistants who also wore naval uniforms. The ship after the election was given to the county giving the largest Democratic majority, Westmoreland.

After the election the leaders of the successful party held a jubilee and had an ox roast on the sand bar, in the middle of the river, just below the Smithfield stret [sic] bridge. A pontoon bridge was formed from the wharf out to the sand bar by placing a number of keel boats side by side across the deep channel of the river and putting on the decks of the boats a board walk, which made a safe an [sic] easy path. Large crowds attended this jubilee and ox roast.

A prominent figure at the festivities of that day was Davey Lynch, one of the leaders of the Democratic party at that time. Later he held the position of postmaster of Pittsburgh. Another prominent man then was Patrick McKenna, who held at one time the profitable position of auctioneer, that by law could only be held by one person in this city, and that by appointment of the governor.

In 1832, and for several years after, there were but two bridges spanning the rivers at Pittsburgh. The Monongahela, now called the Smithfield street bridge, and the St. Clair street, now called the Sixth street bridge. They were both covered wooden structures. In addition to these there was a ferry crossing the river from the foot of Liberty street to a point nearly opposite. It was called "Jones ferry," and was owned and operated by a person of that name. There were two boats used, one meeting the other in midstream. Each boat was propelled by four horses, two on each side of the boat, and working on a treadmill and setting in motion the machinery that turned the paddle wheels. This ferry was a great convenience to people living at Sawmill run, Temperanceville and out Washington and Steubenville turnpikes.

Most of the garden truck supplied to the Diamond market was raised and brought from the island below the city and was transported here in canoes or dugouts made from large trunks of trees hollowed out. They were propelled with long poles and were usually landed with their contents at the foot of Liberty street.

Sometimes [sic] in the later thirties, another covered bridge was erected and called the Hand street bridge, now Ninth street. It had a broad promenade walk on its roof, upon which people were permitted to travel. An amusing thing happened on this bridge. Handbills were posted throughout the city saying that on a certain day and hour, a person who had invented a flying machine, would at the time designated, make a flight from the top of the bridge, and land in the river near to the St. Clair street bridge. This announcement brought thousands of people to witness the sight, both sides of the river being lined with spectators. At the appointed hour two men were seen on the promenade approaching from the Allegheny side, and carrying a large sack which the people supposed contained the wonderful flying machine. When about midway they stopped and opened the sack, when out flew a large white goose. In a few minutes the crowd had vanished and afterward not a soul could be found who would acknowledge they had been there and saw the goose fly.

It was said that Harvey Bollman, a well-known man of the city and a practical joker, was the author and the perpetrator of this huge joke upon the crowd.

Chapter IV.

Laying Out the Hill District.

In the spring of 1834 Wylie street was marked and ploughed up through a green pasture field. Beginning near the court house and extending to Fulton street all the ground lying to its right and reaching to the Fourth street road was vacant; the part of the street beyond Washington street was called the Seventh street road, or pike, and was macadamized and was afterward extended to Minersville, where most of the coal used in the city came from. The coal mines then were known as the Herron, Ewert, Rutherford, Jenkins and Jones coal mines. The upper Bedford street water basin is built over the abandoned coal mines of Mr. Jones.

Some time in the late 30s Bayardstown was annexed and became part of the city. This necessitated the changing of the names of the old wards, and thereafter they were known by numbers. The West ward was called one, the South two, the East three and North four. The new ward was named Fifth.

The militia law requiring all able-bodied male citizens between the ages of 21 and 45 years to assemble once a year in their allotted companies, to answer roll call and make a pretense of a military drill was then in full force, but it was so thoroughly burlesqued and made sport of that it was held in general contempt and the law was soon repealed.

I remember an incident that occurred in connection with this matter that was rather amusing and might have resulted in a serious manner, but fortunately did not. About 60 young lawyers and clerks connected with the court house organized a burlesque parade on horseback, they and their horses were dressed up in every fantastic and ridiculous manner and wearing masks of all facial contortions. When the parade arrived at the corner of Penn avenue and Sixth street it halted and formed in line in front of the hotel, and the orderly sergeant proceeded to call the roll of the company. Samuel W. Black, a popular young lawyer, was standing, along with many others, on the portico of the hotel, enjoying the sport, while the orderly was calling the fictitious names and each of the company responding "present." At last he called out Pontius Pilate, then Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, Samuel W. Black, which was responded to "present" by one of the ugliest and most repulsive false faces of the motley company. At that Mr. Black rushed out and with a rattan cane he carried, began slashing the orderly over his body and head with all his strength until stopped by a number of friends, who ran to the rescue of the orderly. Many thought a serious duel might be the result of this affair, but it was happily ended, for a daily paper the next morning had an article prominently displayed, saying that "Mr. Samuel W. Black was very sorry and apologized for his outburst of passion on the previous day in front of the Exchange hotel."

Pittsburgh and its surroundings were well supplied with fruit orchards. There was the Ross orchard, already mentioned, then the Feidly Bowers orchard that was bounded by the canal running along Grant street, and by Seventh street, now Seventh avenue, and extending up the hill as far as the lower Bedford avenue reservoir. This orchard was owned by Harmar Denny and early in the 30s was laid out in building lots that were soon built upon. Black's orchard extended from near Washington street to Elm and from Webster to Wylie street. On the Fourth street road there was a succession of fine orchards extending from Stevenson street to Soho run, and from the Fourth street road to the brow of the hill overlooking the Monongahela river. The orchard near Soho was known as Tustin's. Mercy hospital is built on part of one of these orchards. Another fine orchard was located some distance above Fulton street on the Seventh street road. It was also plotted for building lots. It was in this place that J. K. Moorhead, his son, Max Moorhead, Asa Childs and many other of our prominent citizens erected elegant homes.

You may wonder why I remember all these fruit orchards, but boys were boys then, as well as now, and knew the location of every one of them. They admired their beautous [sic] bloom in the springtime and looked longingly for their rich, ripe fruit in the autumn.

Chapter V.

The Campaign of 1840.

The Presidential campaign of 1840 was begun early in the summer. The Whig party had nominated General William H. Harrison as their candidate, and the Democrats Martin Van Buren. The Whigs formed an organization and called it the Tippecanoe club, electing John D. Davis, a well-known wholesale and commission merchant, president of the club. Their first meeting was held in J. B. McFadden's canal warehouse, but afterward they rented and fitted up with platform and seats a large room on the second story in a building on Liberty avenue about where Harry Williams' Academy now is, in which to hold their fortnightly meetings. As the campaign became hotter and more exciting, they changed to weekly meetings. The speakers at these meetings were the most popular and eloquent of the party. Among them were: Walter Forward, Moses Hampton, Cornelius Darrah, S. W. Black, George Darsie, Thomas Williams, Dr. Elder and many others, whose names I cannot now recall.

The Democrats were not idle, but held many spirited meetings and listened to able addresses from their favorite speakers, among whom were: Wilson McCandless, Judge Wilkins, Judge Shaler, Dr. Gazzam, Thomas Hamilton ad others. At one time during the campaign they had Senator James Buchanan, who later was President, come to the city and deliver an address. The meeting was held in daylight in a vacant lot near the canal bridge on Penn avenue. Buchanan's opponents had accused him of saying in a speech he made in the United States Senate, while discussing the protective tariff question, that workmen in this country should work for 12½ cents a day in order to compete with the low prices paid labor in Europeean [sic] countries. It was to deny that he had said this, he was brought here. In his address he positively denied that he had ever made such an assertion, and anyone advocating such a thing should be placed in a strait-jacket and confined in a lunatic asylum. Nevertheless ever afterward he was styled "Ten Cent Jimmy." On the other hand, the friends of General Harrison had painted on their banners the motto: "Two dollars a day and roast beef."

Harrison's opponents had accused him of living in a log cabin and of drinking hard cider. The Whigs took that up and at once adopted a log cabin and a cider barrel as an emblem on their flags and banners, and small log cabins with coon skins dangling over the doors and windows hauled in wagons in their processions. During the summer a large log cabin was built on Stockton avenue, Allegheny, sufficiently large to hold a good sized assembly of people. In the afternoon, while the cabin was being finished, Walter Forward addressed a large audience from a platform erected nearby. He discussed the issue between the two parties in an eloquent manner, and was listened to with close attention. The city brass band, composed of young men who volunteered their services for the occasion, discoursed popular and patriotic pieces, and was led by Harry Kleber, then connected with John H. Mellor's piano store on Wood street. When the clapboards were laid and the roof finished, there came on a shower which drove the people under cover. They called for a speech, and seeing that Joe Barker, a well-known impromptu speaker, was present, they loudly called for him. He mounted a hurried rostrum and I remember his first words as follows: "Fellow citizens, I was born in a log cabin and was rocked in a sugar trough."

The Whigs held a daylight parade, made up of citizens of Allegheny county and other bordering counties of Western Pennsylvania. The display on that occasion was quite grand and the procession very large. After the parade a mass meeting was held on the West common at the bast of Seminary Hill, where a large stand had been erected, and seats arranged for the immense crowd. The meeting, or convention, as it was called, was opened with an invocation by Rev. A. M. Bryan, a popular minister of the city. John Tyler, the Whig candidate for the vice presidency, was present, and made the principal address. While he was speaking, a voice in the audience asked him if he was a protective tariff man. He replied to the question: "I am what I am," and then resumed his speech. This reply rather dampened the ardor of his supporters and put a check on their enthusiasm.

The Democrats that campaign issued a small daily paper devoted entirely to publishing such articles as would boost up the claims of the party as being the true friend of the workingman and gathering such items as would show that the other side was their foe. This paper was called "The Huge Paw." It lived only until the end of the campaign.

General Harrison was elected President and in the latter part of February, 1841, he stopped for two days in Pittsburgh while on his way to Washington to be inagurated [sic]. He came from Cincinnati on the steamer Clipper, and while here put up at the Iron Hotel, which was situated in Wood street on the same spot upon which the St. Charles Hotel stands. He held a reception there that evening and again the next morning, where many citizens called upon him and paid their respects. I had the pleasure, though only a boy, of shaking hands with him. In the afternoon of that day he took his departure by the Brownsville boat for Washington city. This route at that time was the speediest and most favored way of reaching Washington and Baltimore. The entire militia of the city turned out as an escort of honor to conduct him to the boat. The militia was under the command of Colonel Elijah Trovillo, an old soldier who had served under Harrison in his Indian campaigns during the war of 1812.

Harrison lived only a month after his inaguration [sic]. His body was brought through this city the same fall. The remains came here by a special canal packet boat, accompanied by a guard of eight United States soldiers. The hearse carrying the remains from the canal to the steamboat landing was followed by a number of the survivors of the War of 1812, and by many of the prominent citizens of the county and city.

(To Be Continued Next Sunday.)