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806 Western Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

The Torrances

Francis Torrance was born in Letterkenny, Ireland in 1816. After living in various locations, Torrance settled in Pittsburgh and began working as manager of the Schenley Estate by 1858.

Francis Torrance appeared in the Pittsburgh city directory as early as 1857, when he was listed as a bookkeeper who roomed on Penn Avenue near Clymer Street in Pittsburgh. By 1859, Torrance moved to Allegheny, living with his family in a two-story brick Greek Revival house at 36 James Street (now 1300 James Street).

The 1860 manuscript census enumerated Francis Torrance and his family in the Third Ward of Allegheny. Francis Torrance, 40, worked as a real estate agent, and Jane Torrance, 36, had no occupation. Francis Torrance owned real estate valued at $1,000, and had a “personal estate” of $200.

In 1860, Francis and Jane Torrance had three children: Martha, 10, Catharine, six, and Francis J., one, all born in Pennsylvania. Jane Torrance’s widowed mother Ann Waddell, 68, also lived with the family.

Pittsburgh city directories published during the 1860’s identified Francis Torrance as a clerk, real estate agent, or notary public.

In the mid-1860’s, Francis Torrance moved to a slightly larger two-story brick Greek Revival house at 33 Boyle Street (now 1223 Boyle Street) in Allegheny.

The 1870 manuscript census reported that Francis and Jane Torrance lived in Allegheny’s Third Ward with their three children, Ann Waddell, and one servant. Francis Torrance, still working as a real estate agent, owned real estate valued at $7,000 and had a personal estate of $20,000.

In 1870, the Torrance family’s children were Martha, 20, Kate, 16, and Francis J., 11. The family’s servant was Ellen Callahan, 20, a native of Ireland. The census indicated that Ellen Callahan could not read or write.

In the early 1870’s, Francis Torrance worked briefly for Bovard, Rose & Company, wholesale and retail dealers in carpets, oil cloths, mattings and window shades. Bovard, Rose & Company was located at 21 Fifth Avenue in Pittsburgh.

In the mid-1870’s, Francis Torrance became a partner in the Standard Manufacturing Company, manufacturers of enameled iron, located at 286-297 River Avenue in Allegheny.

City directories listed Francis Torrance at 33 Boyle Street until 1877, when he lived on Western Avenue near Allegheny Avenue.

The 1880 manuscript census shows that Francis Torrance lived at 86 Western Avenue (now 946 Western Avenue) with his wife, children, and two female servants. The census gave Francis Torrance’s occupation as real estate agent and reported that Jane Torrance did not work.

The Torrances’ children who lived at 86 Western Avenue in 1880 were Mattie, 30, who had no occupation, and Frank, 20, who worked as a clerk in a store.

In 1880, the Torrances’ servants were L. McLaughlin, 27, who had been born in Ireland, and M. Reethback, 18, who had been born in Ohio to parents born in Baden, Germany.

City directories indicate that Francis Torrance lived at 946 Western Avenue until his death in 1886. After Torrance died, his son Francis J. Torrance continued to live at 946 Western Avenue.

Francis J. Torrance first appeared in the Pittsburgh city directory in 1878, at age 19, when he was listed as a clerk living on Western Avenue. Francis J. Torrance married Mary or Marie Dibert in 1884, and lived with his new wife at 946 Western Avenue.

By 1887, Francis J. Torrance became secretary of the Standard Manufacturing Company. Subsequent city directories listed Torrance as secretary or treasurer of the company.

The 1890 manuscript census, which would provide information on occupants of 946 Western Avenue in that year, was destroyed in a fire following its completion.

The 1900 manuscript census reported that a household headed by Francis J. Torrance lived at 946 Western Avenue. Francis J. Torrance, 40, worked as a manufacturer, and Mary Torrance had no occupation. The Torrances, married 16 years, had one child: Jane, 15. Francis J. Torrance’s mother Jane, 81, also lived at 946 Western Avenue.

In 1900, three servants lived with the Torrance family at 946 Western Avenue: John Dyson, Jennie McDougan, and Katie McDougan. John Dyson, 32, had been born in West Virginia. Jennie McDougan, 24, and Katie McDougan, 20, had both been born in Canada.

In 1900, no residents of 946 Western Avenue had been unemployed during the previous year, and all were able to read and write.

The 1900 census also indicated that Francis J. Torrance owned his home fully.

City directories published during the early 1900’s show that Francis J. Torrance served as first vice-president of the Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company and as president

of the National Metal Weather Strip Company, located at 12 North Diamond Street in Allegheny. The 1910 manuscript census again enumerated Francis J. Torrance and his family at 946 Western Avenue. Torrance, 50, was vice-president of a manufacturing company. His wife Mary, 48, and daughter Jane, 24, did not work.

In 1910, the Torrance family had only one servant, Alice Savage, 22. Alice Savage had been born in Ireland and immigrated to the United States in 1906. She was employed as a chambermaid, had not been unemployed during the previous year, and was able to read and write.

Pittsburgh city directories listed Francis J. Torrance as vice-president of the Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company and living at 946 Western Avenue through 1918, the last year that Torrance appeared in the directory.
City directories show that 946 Western Avenue was known as Torrance House, a home for blind women, beginning in 1928, the year that a trust for maintenance of Torrance House was established.

Directories indicate that 946 Western Avenue was known as Torrance House until about 1963, when the house was converted to apartments.

The Nevins

Theodore H. Nevin was born in October 1814 in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. Nevin’s father died while Nevin was a child, and Nevin and his mother moved to Allegheny City (now the North Side). Theodore H. Nevin was listed in the Pittsburgh city directory as early as 1841, as a druggist living at Mrs. Little’s boarding house on Fifth Avenue, Downtown. Nevin, according to information published in an obituary, by then owned a successful drugstore on Liberty Avenue near Sixth Street.

Nevin married Hannah Irwin, a daughter of Allegheny City rope manufacturer John Irwin, in the early 1840s. They had seven children who are known today: William, born in 1842-43, Eliza in 1844-45, Charles F. in 1847-48, Alexander in 1850-51, T. Herbert in 1855-56, Martha M. in 1862-63, and Frank Y. in 1866-67.

In 1841, Nevin established the Pioneer White Lead Works (later the Pioneer Paint Works), a paint factory, on Federal Street in Allegheny City. By 1847, Nevin, his wife Hannah, and their children lived on Federal Street. Samuel Finley, who later invested with Theodore H. Nevin in property at North Lincoln and Galveston avenues, was a partner in the Pioneer White Lead Works.
In the 1840s, Theodore H. Nevin became a trustee of the Western Theological Seminary in Allegheny City. In or after the 1840s, he helped found the First National Bank of Allegheny. He became president of the bank in the 1860s. The bank was located at 110 Federal Street in Allegheny City.

Nevin and his family moved from Allegheny City to Sewickley in the mid-1850s. In 1858, after the Irwin rope walk ceased operation, the Pioneer Paint Works moved to its longtime home at the southeast corner of Western and Galveston avenues. The paint works apparently thrived at that location. Allegheny City and Pittsburgh experienced significant economic and population growth in the 1860s and the first few years of the 1870s, resulting in considerable demand for paint and related products. It is possible that Nevin and others originally purchased the adjacent property at North Lincoln and Galveston avenues as a site for possible expansion of the Pioneer Paint Works.

In 1872, with demand for housing for middle-class and wealthy families in Allegheny West apparently stronger than any impetus to expand the paint works, Theodore H. Nevin and his business partner and brother-in-law John Irwin Jr. commissioned the construction of 850-858 North Lincoln Avenue. John Irwin Jr. conveyed his interest in the property to Theodore H. Nevin in 1874. Nevin had a smaller row of houses at 808-810-812 Galveston Avenue built around that time. He rented 850-858 North Lincoln Avenue, which became known as Nevin’s Row, and 808-812 Galveston Avenue to tenants.

The 1870 census, the last census to provide information on assets of persons enumerated, found that Theodore H. Nevin owned real estate worth $25,000 and had a personal estate of $53,000. Nevin’s total assets of $78,000 were comparable to more than $2 million in the early 21st century. Records of the 1880 census show that the Nevin family lived in an un-numbered house on the south side of Bank Street in Sewickley. Theodore H. Nevin had passed on his interest in the Pioneer Paint Works to his son Charles the year before, but remained president of the First National Bank of Allegheny. He served as president of the bank until he died on April 30, 1884. Hannah Nevin lived in Sewickley until she died in 1899.

The Diffenbachers

Jacob Diffenbacher first appeared in the Pittsburgh city directory in 1863, when he boarded at 162 Lacock Street in Allegheny. The directory did not indicate Diffenbacher’s occupation.

In 1864, Diffenbacher was listed as owner of a bung (stopper or cork) factory at the corner of Market Street and Duquesne Way in Pittsburgh. Diffenbacher lived at 327 Rebecca Street in Allegheny. The 1865 directory listed Diffenbacher as a partner in Diffenbacher & Watson, dealers in oil lands, and living in New York. Diffenbacher’s partner in this venture was Henry Watson, who boarded on Resaca Place near the gas works in Allegheny.

In 1866 and 1867, Diffenbacher was a partner with John F. Glosser of 21 Diamond Street in Allegheny in a grocery store located at 21 Diamond Street. Diffenbacher lived at 327 Rebecca Street (now Reedsdale Street) in Allegheny.

In 1870 the directory listed Diffenbacher as a publisher who lived and worked at 68 Fifth Avenue in Pittsburgh. Diffenbacher moved to Emsworth in the early 1870’s, and maintained an office on Fourth Avenue. The 1874 city directory indicated that Diffenbacher was publisher of the Pittsburgh Official Railway Guide. Diffenbacher began publishing the Pittsburgh city directory in addition to the railway guide by the late 1870’s.

Neither the 1870 or 1880 censuses provide information on Jacob Diffenbacher. The 1890 census, which would provide information on Diffenbacher, was destroyed in a fire following its completion.

City directories listed Diffenbacher as living in Emsworth until 1893, when he was listed at 78 Beech Avenue for the first time. Diffenbacher was listed in the directory at 78 Beech Avenue through 1897.

Jacob Diffenbacher died at Western Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane at Dixmont on April 1, 1898. Susan Diffenbacher was listed as a widow living at 78 Beech Avenue beginning in 1898.

Current house numbers on Beech Avenue and nearby were used beginning in 1900.

The 1900 manuscript census reported that Susan Diffenbacher, 57, lived at 843 Beech Avenue with a niece, Elizabeth Hale. Susan Diffenbacher had been married 34 years and had no children. She had no occupation.

Elizabeth Rale, 27, was single and had no occupation. She had been born in Virginia to parents also born in Virginia. City directories listed Susan Diffenbacher at 843 Beech Avenue through 1904, the year after she sold the house. She lived in the Buckingham Apartments at Craft Avenue and Kennett Square in Oakland in 1905. She lived at 3604 Forbes Avenue in Oakland in 1906, the last year that she appeared in the directory.

The Kaufmanns

Jacob Kaufmann was a confounder of what became Kaufmann’s Department Store. He was the first of four Kaufmann brothers to settle in Pittsburgh, and was the last of the four brothers to move away from Allegheny City to Pittsburgh’s East End in the early twentieth century.

Jacob Kaufmann was born in the vicinity of Mannheim, Hesse Darmstadt, Germany, in June 1849. He was one of at least five children of a cattle and horse dealer. Kaufmann immigrated in about 1869 and began living in the borough of East Birmingham (part of the present South Side of Pittsburgh) within a short time. The 1870 Pittsburgh directory was the first to list Jacob Kaufmann or any members of his family. The directory listed Kaufmann and his brother Isaac, who had just arrived in Pittsburgh, as clerks who boarded at 1911 East Carson Street in East Birmingham.

The federal census of population taken in 1870 enumerated Jacob Kaufmann as a boarder in the home of Julius Prader, a German immigrant tailor, in East Birmingham. Isaac Kaufmann was not enumerated in Pittsburgh in the 1870 census, suggesting the census was taken before he arrived in the city.

The 1870 manuscript census, the last census to provide information on assets of persons enumerated, reported that Jacob Kaufmann owned no real estate and had no personal estate.

By 1871, Jacob and Isaac Kaufmann founded J. Kaufmann & Brother, a men’s clothing store at 1916 East Carson Street. The first store’s floor space was only 18’ by 28’. Each of the brothers initially invested $1500 in the store – an amount that was approximately half the value of many of the homes in the neighborhood in which the Kaufmanns started their business. The store operated at 1932 East Carson Street, in a larger space measuring 20’ by 85’, between 1872 and 1876.

Jacob Kaufmann, 25, married Augusta Katz, 18, in 1874. Augusta Katz was born in downtown Pittsburgh in March 1856. She was one of at least three children of Abraham Katz, a peddler and laborer, and Julia Katz, both German immigrants. The Katz family appears to have lived modestly, renting living quarters in a small alley Downtown in 1860.

Abraham Katz died in the late 1860’s, and Julia Katz subsequently supported her children by operating a confectionery on East Ohio Street near Cedar Avenue in, the East Allegheny neighborhood. Augusta Katz worked as a saleswoman in the early 1870’s, before she was married. Known records do not identify the store in which she was employed.

After marrying, Jacob and Augusta Kaufmann initially lived above the store at 1932 East Carson Street. Isaac Kaufmann, still unmarried, lived with his brother.

In 1876-1877, the Kaufmann brothers closed the South Side operations and moved J. Kaufmann & Brother to storefronts on Smithfield Street, downtown, and Federal Street in Allegheny City (on the present site of Allegheny Center Mall). Jacob, Augusta and Isaac Kaufmann then moved from the South Side to a small house at 1414 (then 290) Federal Street in Allegheny City.

Jacob and Augusta Kaufmann’s first child, Alfred D, was born in September 1877. Following were Raymond M. in August 1879, C. Chester in July 1882, Edwin J. in May 1884, and Carl J. in July 1888. The Kaufmanns were among the minority of families who did not experience the death of a young child in the nineteenth century. The couple also adopted an orphan, Mitchell Schonberg.

In the late 1870’s, Jacob and Augusta Kaufmann moved to a larger house on Penn Avenue near Fifth Street, Downtown. Isaac Kaufmann, recently married, and his wife, Emma, began living next door to Jacob and Augusta Kaufmann. Another brother, Henry Kaufmann, had just settled in Pittsburgh, and boarded with Isaac Kauffmann’s family. Henry Kaufmann was the third of the four brothers who would become partners in what became Kaufmann’s Department Store.

J Kaufmann & Brother’s Federal Street store closed in about 1879. Subsequently, the Kaufmann brothers incrementally expanded the Smithfield Street store from its original 20’ by 50’ space to nearly a full city block by the end of Jacob Kaufmann’s life. With the expansion of the store, Kaufmann’s evolved from being one of many small clothing stores in Pittsburgh to one of a handful of large department stores in the city in the early twentieth century. The store began to offer women’s clothing and dry goods in addition to men’s clothing. It was not, however, the largest department store in Pittsburgh. in 1892, Kaufmann’s was worth $2 million, while its rival Joseph Home’s was worth $4.7 million.

As Kaufmann’s expanded, Jacob Kaufmann invested in real estate in its vicinity and became a significant owner of downtown property. Kaufmann also recognized the development potential of the East End, and invested in real estate there in the 1890’s.

The 1880 census enumerated the Kaufmann family in their home on Penn Avenue. Jacob Kaufmann was recorded as a clothing merchant, and Augusta Kaufmann kept house. The couple had two children, Alfred D., three, and Raymond, 10 months. Hannah Katz, a 26-year-old sister of Augusta Kaufmann, lived with the family. Census records also show that Jacob and Augusta Kaufmann, although only 30 and 25 years old, were able to employ three servants who lived in their home on Penn Avenue.

Morris Kaufmann, the last of the four brothers to arrive in Pittsburgh, began living on Penn Avenue in the early 1880s. A fifth brother, Nathan, remained in Germany. J. Kaufmann & Brother was renamed J. Kaufmann & Brothers at around the same time. The store became informally known as Kaufmann’s by the turn of the century.

Jacob and Augusta Kaufmann and their children moved in about 1883 from Penn Avenue to a home at 1238 Sheffield Street in Manchester. Isaac Kaufmann and his family moved to 1203 Sheffield Street and Morris Kaufmann moved to 1301 Bidwell Street in Manchester at around the same time. Henry Kaufmann moved from downtown to 1208 Sheffield Street later in the 1880’s. The Kaufmann’s new neighborhood became the home of some of the most prominent and prosperous Jewish residents of the Pittsburgh area in the 1880’s. Manchester’s Jewish population appears to have been concentrated on Sheffield and Liverpool Streets and W North Avenue.
The Kaufmanns lived at 1238 Sheffield Street until they purchased 913 Brighton Road in late 1890. Jacob Kaufmann’s brothers continued to live in Manchester for the next several years.

In 1900, according to census records, seven members of the Kaufmann family lived at 913 Brighton Road: Jacob, 50, a clothing merchant; Augusta, 44, with no occupation; Alfred D., 22, a clerk; and Raymond M., 20, C. Chester, 17, Edwin 16, Carl J, 11, all attending school. The Kaufmanns’ adopted son, Mitchell Schonberg, 15, also attended school.

The 1900 census enumerated three servants who lived at 913 Brighton Road:

  • Dora Hamm, 30, a German immigrant
  • Mary Pietch, 30, also a German immigrant
  • Ella Gardner, 37, born in Pennsylvania

Records of the 1900 census also show that Jacob and Augusta Kaufmann owned 913 Brighton Road without a mortgage.

Nearly all of the Jewish residents of Manchester and Allegheny West moved to Pittsburgh’s East End between the late 1890’s and the middle of the first decade of the twentieth century. Morris Kaufmann was among the first to leave, moving to Forbes Avenue near Wightman Street in Squirrel Hill in 1896-1897. Isaac and Henry Kaufmann followed in about 1900, leaving Jacob Kaufmann the only Kaufmann brother still living in Allegheny City. In 1902, Jacob Kaufmann and his family sold 913 Brighton Road and moved to 4922 Wallingford Street in Shadyside.

In 1904 or 1905, Kaufmann commissioned construction of a large home at 1935 Wightman Street in Squirrel Hill. The Kaufmanns moved into their new house, described in the Pittsburgh Gazette Times as “one of the finest homes on Squirrel Hill,” in mid- or late-1905.

Jacob Kaufmann lived at 1935 Wightman Street for only a short time. Kaufmann died on November 1, 1905, at age 56. His death was caused by appendicitis.

After the death of Jacob Kaufmann, his brother Isaac succeeded him as president of Kaufmann’s.

Augusta Kaufmann lived at 1935 Wightman Street for the rest of her life. Her obituary suggests that she continued charitable activities in which she had participated, without identifying organizations in which she was involved. Her sons continued to live with her before marrying. At least two of her sons, Alfred and Edwin, were associated with Kaufmann’s as an adult; others continued their father’s real estate activities.

Augusta Kaufmann died at home at 1935 Wightman Street on December 31, 1921. She was 65 years old.

The Stoners

Christian L. Stoner was born in November 1823 in Millersville, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. His parents were born in New York State and Pennsylvania. Stoner became a building contractor as a young man, and constructed homes in and around Lancaster for a number of years. He served one or two terms as Lancaster County Clerk of Courts, beginning in 1857.

Christian L. Stoner married Lizzie Hostetter in 1847. Lizzie Hostetter was born in November 1822 in Pennsylvania, to parents born in Pennsylvania. Their children included David H. Stoner, who was born in December 1847 and lived at 849 Beech Avenue in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. David H. Stoner and his wife, Mary Dilgen Stoner, were married in 1869.

The Stoner family left Lancaster County in the 1860s. The family may have lived in Washington, Pennsylvania in 1872, when Elizabeth Stoner (usually known as Bessie), one of four children of David H. and Mary Stoner, was born in that city. Other children of David H. and Mary Stoner, all of whom later lived at 849 Beech Avenue, were Mary, born in March 1871, Gertrude, born in April 1876, and Anne, born in January 1878.

Christian L. Stoner was first listed in the Pittsburgh city directory in 1876, as the superintendent of the Columbia Conduit Company. Stoner lived on Allegheny Avenue near West North Avenue. David H. Stoner began living in Allegheny City by 1880, when the city directory listed him as a clerk living on Pennsylvania Avenue in Manchester.

In the late 1870s, Christian L. Stoner became a partner in Stoner & McClure, proprietor of the Pittsburgh Saw Mills, which produced lumber, nail kegs and boxes at 27th Street and the Allegheny Valley Railroad in the Strip District. His partner was Alexander McClure of 946 Beech Avenue. Stoner remained a partner in Stoner & McClure until he retired in about 1890. During that time, Stoner was also a director of the Pittsburgh Gas Company and the Smithfield Street Bridge Company, which commissioned construction of the Smithfield Street Bridge as a privately owned toll bridge in the early 1880s.

David H. Stoner became treasurer of the Pittsburgh Gas Company in the early 1880s.

Christian L. Stoner purchased 849 Beech Avenue in October 1887. He never lived in the house, and remained at 1101 Allegheny Avenue for the rest of his life. He apparently bought the house for David H. Stoner, who lived there with his wife and children between 1887 and 1904.

The 1889 Pittsburgh and Allegheny Blue Book, a directory of socially prominent residents of both cities, included listings of the families of Christian L. and Lizzie Stoner and David H. and Mary Stoner. Christian Stoner appears to have been among a small minority of men who had any type of blue-collar background who were listed in the Blue Book.

Elizabeth (Bessie) Stoner, a daughter of David H. and Mary Stoner, married Francis E. Gaither, a draftsman, on June 9, 1892. Elizabeth Stoner was 19, and Francis Gaither was 23. The Pittsburgh Press mentioned the wedding in its social column the same day, describing the bride’s gown and reporting that a reception was to be held “at the home of the bride’s parents” at 849 Beech Avenue. The couple, later residents of 849 Beech Avenue, lived on Coltart Square in Oakland for about a decade after they were married.

Pittsburgh directories listed David H. Stoner as treasurer of the Pittsburgh Gas Company until the mid-1890s; Stoner was listed as a bookkeeper in the late 1890s, and subsequently as a clerk. Directories did not name Stoner’s employer after he became a bookkeeper.

Records of the 1900 census list six residents of 849 Beech Avenue: David H. Stoner, 52, a clerk, enumerated as the owner of the house; Mary Stoner, 52; and Mary, 29, Bessie, 27, Gertrude, 24 and Anne, 22. The enumeration of Bessie Stoner Gaither at 849 Beech Avenue in 1900 appears to have been erroneous, as she had been married and living in Oakland for eight years.

No servants or other unrelated persons lived at 849 Beech Avenue at the time of the 1900 census. Census records show that in 1900, at least half of all middle-class families living in Allegheny City employed at least one servant who lived in their home. It is possible that the Stoner family employed one or more servants who did not live in their home, or were between servants when the census was taken.

David H. and Mary Stoner and their unmarried daughters moved from 849 Beech Avenue to live with Christian Stoner at 1101 Allegheny Avenue in about 1904. At around the same time, Francis E. and Bessie Stoner Gaither moved to 849 Beech Avenue from Oakland. The Gaithers had one child, David S., who was seven years old in 1904.

By the early 1900s, Francis E. Gaither was a patent attorney and notary. His office was in the Farmer’s Bank Building at Fifth Avenue and Wood Street, downtown, in 1903, and moved to the Frick Building by 1907.
Christian L. Stoner died in April 1910, leaving 849 Beech Avenue to David H. Stoner. David H. Stoner continued to live at 1101 Allegheny Avenue after his father’s death, and Francis E. and Bessie Stoner Gaither remained at 849 Beech Avenue. The 1910 census enumerated three residents of 849 Beech Avenue: Francis E. Gaither, 41, a patent attorney, Bessie S. Gaither, 36 and David S. Gaither, 13.

Francis E. Gaither died in about 1914, when he was 45 years old. Available local records do not provide information on the date or cause of his death. Bessie and David S. Gaither lived at 849 Beech Avenue through about 1921. The 1920 Pittsburgh directory listed David S. Gaither as a student at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie-Mellon University).

Records of the 1920 census contain no information on residents of 849 Beech Avenue in that year, suggesting the house was temporarily vacant at the time of the census. David H. Stoner died in 1921, leaving 849 Beech Avenue to Bessie Gaither. Stoner had been widowed several years earlier, according to his obituary.
Bessie Gaither sold 849 Beech Avenue in February 1922, and appears to have left Pittsburgh with her son after she sold the house. She was not listed in Pittsburgh directories published in 1922 and in later years, and the Allegheny County estate index contains no information on her death.

The Grays

Theodore Gray was born in New York State in 1834, to parents from Scotland and Ireland. His wife, Annie Gray, was born in Pennsylvania in 1841. Her parents were born in Pennsylvania.

Theodore Gray was first listed in the Pittsburgh city directory in 1856, as a railroad engineer who lived in an un-numbered house on Western Avenue (then Water Lane) near Brighton Road (then Pasture Lane) in Allegheny City (now the North Side). Gray was listed as living on Federal Street in Allegheny City in the late 1850s. By 1860, he and his family lived on West North Avenue (then Fayette Street) near Bidwell Street (then Bagaley’s Lane).

Available records suggest that Annie Gray was the second wife of Theodore Gray. Records of the 1860 census show that Annie Gray, in addition to being seven years her husband’s junior, was also only 14 years older than the Grays’ older child.

In 1860, Theodore and Annie Gray, who were 26 and 19, had two children: Mary E., five, and Louis H., eight months. Theodore Gray was enumerated in the census as a railroad engineer, and Annie Gray had no occupation. Records of the 1860 census show that Theodore Gray owned no real estate, and had a personal estate of $700.

Pittsburgh directories listed Theodore Gray as a railroad engineer during the first half of the 1860s, and subsequently as a conductor. Gray and his family lived on Western Avenue near Bidwell Street in 1861, and at the corner of Western and Galveston Avenues during the rest of the decade. The 1867 Pittsburgh directory provides the only known information on Theodore Gray’s employer, indicating that Gray was employed by the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago Railroad.

Theodore Gray bought the lot on which 849 Beech Avenue now stands in 1869. That transaction was Gray’s only purchase of property in Allegheny County. The 1870 Pittsburgh directory listed Theodore Gray as a conductor living at 72 Beech Street (now 849 Beech Avenue) for the first time.

The 1870 census enumerated the Gray family in their new home on Beech Avenue. Theodore Gray, 36, was enumerated as a railroad conductor, and Annie Gray, 28, did not work. The couple had three children: Mary E., 13, Lewis, 10 and Margaret, eight. The census enumerated no servants or other unrelated persons at 849 Beech Avenue.

The 1870 census, the last census to provide information on assets of persons enumerated, reported that Theodore Gray owned real estate valued at $6,000 and had a personal estate of $3,000.

City directory listings show that Theodore Gray continued to work as a railroad conductor throughout the 1870s. Available records do not suggest that he and his family were adversely affected by an economic depression that lasted between about 1874 and 1877. Gray, a railroad worker who was lower in status than most of his neighbors, was probably able to endure the depression more easily than Beech Avenue residents who owned retail and manufacturing businesses.

In 1880, four members of the Gray family lived at 849 Beech Avenue: Theodore, 45, a passenger conductor; Annie, 39; Lewis H., 20, a sleeping car conductor; and Margaret, 17. A servant, Louisa Lubin, also lived at 849 Beech Avenue. Lubin, 17, was a Prussian immigrant.

Pittsburgh directories listed Theodore Gray as a conductor and living at 72 Beech Street through 1884. Theodore and Annie Gray sold the house for $7,575 in 1884. The Gray family appears to have left the Pittsburgh area the same year. Neither Theodore or Lewis Gray were listed in Pittsburgh directories published in 1885 or in later years. Records of the 1890 census, which might provide information on the Gray family in that year, were destroyed in a warehouse fire. The 1900 and 1910 censuses do not appear to have enumerated Theodore or Annie Gray, suggesting that they died before 1900.

The Allegheny County estate index and an index of obituaries published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and its predecessors provide no information on the deaths of Theodore and Annie Gray.

The Butzes

Edward M. Butz was born in or near Allegheny City, possibly in the Troy Hill area, in 1850. Known records do not provide information on his parents or on his residence as a child. Butz was listed as an architect for the first time in the 1868 Pittsburgh directory, at age 18. Butz worked in an office on Sixth Street, Downtown, and lived in what was then Duquesne borough (in the vicinity of the present H J. Heinz plant).

In 1870, according to census records, Edward M. Butz and three of his siblings lived on Troy Hill with the family of John Snyder, a Swiss immigrant house painter. His siblings were Harry P. Butz, a coppersmith’s apprentice, John A., a sign painter’s apprentice and Roman J., 13, attending school.

The 1870 manuscript census, the last census to provide information on assets of persons enumerated, reported that Edward M. Butz owned no real estate and had no personal estate.

Butz’s architectural career appears to have flourished during the 1870s, when he designed a number of important buildings in Allegheny City, Pittsburgh, and elsewhere. Butz was not listed in the 1871 Pittsburgh directory, but by 1872 opened an office on lower Federal Street in Allegheny City. He and G.C. Monahan of North Taylor Avenue were partners in the firm of Monahan & Butz on Federal Street for a short time in 1872-1873. Butz began to work on his own in the same Federal Street office by 1874.

Most information on buildings designed by Butz is provided by three sources: an entry in Industries of Pittsburgh, 1879-1880, an entry in Pittsburgh’s Business Proclamation (1903), and Butz’s obituary.

Unfortunately, many of the buildings that Butz designed in Pittsburgh and Allegheny City have been demolished in various redevelopment projects. Buildings that Butz designed that are still standing include:

  • 948-950 Beech Avenue
  • 1207 Allegheny Avenue, Manchester, Butz’s residence between about 1877 and 1880
  • the Western Penitentiary, Woods Run (1876-1882)
  • the Clarion County Courthouse, Clarion, Pennsylvania (1870s)
  • the Westmoreland County Courthouse, Greensburg

Butz claimed to have designed the Dollar Bank building (1868-71) on Fourth Avenue, Downtown, which is attributed to the Philadelphia firm of Isaac Hobbs & Sons. It is possible that Butz was employed by Hobbs for a short time in 1871, when he was not listed in the Pittsburgh directory.

It is interesting to note that by 1879, Butz designed Reineman’s Hotel (location unknown) in Pittsburgh for a member of the Reineman family. The Reineman family was prominent in the development of Troy Hill, the neighborhood in which Butz lived as a young man and possibly during his childhood. Documentation that Butz designed Reineman’s Hotel in the 1870s suggests that he may have designed other buildings for the Reineman family. The family was responsible for the construction of several large homes on Troy Hill, including a large and elaborate double Second Empire house built at 1515-1517 Lowrie Street in about 1875 for banker and real estate investor Adam Reineman.

Buildings by Butz in Allegheny City that have been demolished include the First National Bank and the C. Wattiey & Company furnishings store building, both on lower Federal Street; the C.C. Boyle lumber dealership at River Avenue and Sandusky Street; Trinity Lutheran Church, Stockton Avenue and Arch Street; Central Presbyterian Church at Lacock and Anderson Streets; a building for Western Theological Seminary, Ridge Avenue; and the Ridge Avenue homes of J.W. Dalzell, H. Sellers McKee, and D.M. Long. Buildings by Butz in Pittsburgh that no longer survive include the Seventh Avenue Hotel, downtown, and the Seventh United Presbyterian Church on 44th Street in Lawrenceville.

Butz married Mary A. Yeager of Allegheny City on December 28, 1876. Mary A. Yeager was born in Pittsburgh or Allegheny City in December 1856. She was a daughter of Christian Yeager, who owned a variety and dry goods store on Market Street, downtown. The Yeager family moved from Ninth Street, downtown, to Stockton Avenue in Allegheny City around the time that Mary A. Yeager was born. She lived on Stockton Avenue until she married.

In 1876, Edward M. Butz designed and commissioned construction of a large Second Empire house at 1207 Allegheny Avenue in Manchester (at the southwestern comer of Allegheny Avenue and Bidwell Street; now Duke’s Bar). He and Mary A. Butz began living at in the house after they were married. The couple had two children: Christian Yeager Butz, born in 1878, and another child whose name is not known. Christian Yeager Butz died in 1884, at age six, and the other child also died while young.

The Butz family lived at 1207 Allegheny Avenue until 1879 or 1880. The family resided in the Central Hotel in Allegheny City (in the present Allegheny Center Mall area) for a short time while 948-950 Beech Avenue was being built. They began living at 950 Beech Avenue in late 1880 or early 1881.

Edward M. Butz’s architectural office was still located on Federal Street when he lived at 950 Beech Avenue. Work with which Butz was associated while he lived in the house included the construction of the Western Penitentiary.

In 1883, Edward M. and Mary A. Butz sold 950 Beech Avenue and moved to 508 Pressley Street (demolished) in the East Allegheny neighborhood. The family lived on Sherman Avenue in the present Allegheny Center Mall area in 1884, and began living on Arch Street in the same neighborhood in about 1885. The family lived on Arch Street until about 1897.

Butz’s architectural office moved from Federal Street to 132 First Avenue, downtown, in 1886-1887. Butz became a partner in the architectural and engineering firm of Butz & Kauffman at 605 Smithfield Street a short time later. The firm’s other principal was William Kauffman of Buena Vista Street. The partnership dissolved in about 1891, and Butz returned to 132 First Avenue. In about 1893, his firm became known as E.M. Butz & Company, architects and engineers. Frederick A. Yeager, who was probably a brother of Mary A. Butz, was among its principals.

In the 1880s, Edward M. Butz was a founder of the Columbia Iron & Steel Company. The company’s headquarters was at 132 First Avenue, and it operated a mill in Uniontown. Butz’s younger brother, Roman J., was the company’s secretary.

E.M. Butz & Company moved to 236 First Avenue in about 1895, and to the 11th floor of the Park Building about a year later. In about 1897, Edward M. and Mary A. Butz moved from Arch Street in Allegheny City to Fremont Street in Bellevue.

Edward M. Butz lived on Fremont Street in Bellevue and ran E.M. Butz & Company until he retired in the 1910s. He and Mary A. Butz then moved to 1711 Termon Avenue in Brighton Heights. Butz died at home at 1711 Tennon Avenue on October 3, 1916, at age 66. His obituary incorrectly gave his age as 57. Earlier census records confirm that Butz was born in 1850.

Mary A. Butz outlived her husband by ten years. During part of the 1920’s, she worked at Joseph Horne’s in downtown Pittsburgh. She died on December 31, 1926, at age 70.

The Weihls

Charles George Berthold Weihl was born in Darmstadt, Germany, in 1833 or 1834. Available records provide no information on Weihl’s activities before the late 1850’s, when he settled in Pittsburgh.

Weihl was first listed in the Pittsburgh directory in 1859, as a clerk living at 132 Smithfield Street, Downtown. Weihl was not listed in the 1860 directory, and does not appear to have been enumerated in Pittsburgh in the 1860 census. Weihl, still employed as a clerk, lived at 161 Smithfield Street in 1861.

In about 1862, Charles G.B. Weihl formed a wholesale liquor firm with John Seiferth, who had previously operated a saloon at 87 Third Avenue. The new partnership, John Seifert & Company, began operating in a double commercial-residential building at 27-29 Market Street, Downtown (demolished; at the southwestern comer of Market Street and Boulevard of the Allies). Weihl moved to 27-29 Market Street, also the home of John Seifert.

Charles GB Weihl

Charles GB Weihl

Charles G.B. Weihl purchased property in Allegheny County for the first time in February 1866, when he and John Seiferth bought the 34′ by 70′ lot that their building occupied for $16,050. Over the next 12 years Weihl and Seiferth acquired other property in East Liberty, Lower Saint Clair Township (now the South Side Slopes area), Mifflin Township (now the West Mifflin area) and the Woods Run area of Allegheny City. Weihl and Seiferth acquired most of these parcels in foreclosure proceedings, and it is possible that the two were settling business debts.

Charles G.B. Weihl and Katharine J. Beisel were married no later than 1870. Katharine J. Beisel, about 15 years younger than Charles G.B. Weihl, was born in Pennsylvania, apparently outside the Pittsburgh area, in September 1848. Her parents were born in Wurtemburg, Germany.

Available records suggest the possibility that Charles G.B. Weihl’s marriage to Kate J. Biesel was his second. Weihl’s will, made in 1883, left his estate to his wife and “to all children of mine born from the body of my present beloved wife, Kate J. Weihl.” Although the censuses of 1870 and 1880 document that Weihl had a daughter, Kate, born in about 1867 (when Kate J. Weihl would have been 18), the younger Kate Weihl did not share in her father’s estate. The younger Kate Weihl was still alive in 1885, two years after her father made his will, as documented by her February 17, 1885 wedding to Edmund H. Brackemeyer of Braddock, reported in the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette.

Local records, including indices of weddings and deaths that were noted in the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette and its successors, provide no information on any earlier marriage of Charles G.B. Weil.

After marrying, Charles G.B. and Kate J. Weihl lived at 27-29 Market Street. The 1870 federal census of population enumerated the Weihl family at this address. Charles G.B. Weihl, 36, was enumerated as a liquor dealer, and Katharine J. Weihl, 21, had no occupation. The Weihls then had one child, Katharine, three.

Ettie Mathilda Weihl

Ettie Mathilda Weihl as a Girl

In 1870, the Weihl family shared their living quarters with Katharine Weihl’s mother and sister, a boarder, and a servant. Katharine Beisel, 51, was a widow with no occupation, and Louisa Beisel, 17, was a dressmaker. Boarder Emil Walther, 19, worked in a bottling house. He was an immigrant from Darmstadt, Germany. The Weihls’ servant was Barbara Studler, 21, a Bavarian immigrant.

The 1870 manuscript census, the last census to provide information on assets of persons enumerated, reported that Charles G.B. Weihl owned real estate valued at $20,000 and had a personal estate of $15,000. Weihl’s worth of $35,000 was comparable to $1 million or more in the last decade of the twentieth century.

Census records report that Clara L. and Ettie Mathilda, the second and third children of Charles G.B. Weihl, were born at 27-29 Market Street in February 1876 and November 1876 (sic).

Charles G.B. Weihl remained a partner in John Seifert & Company, still at 27-29 Market Street, until 1879. In that year, Weihl left the partnership and founded his own wholesale liquor business at 307 Liberty Avenue, Downtown (on the northern side of Liberty Avenue, halfway between Ninth and Tenth Streets).

At the same time, the Weihl family moved from 27-29 Market Street to a rented house at 31 Federal Street in the lower Hill District (later Fernando Street; on the site of the Civic Arena redevelopment project).

Records of the 1880 census show that the five members of the Weihl family – Charles, 46, Katharine, 31, Katharine, 13, Clara, five, and Ettie, four – lived at 31 Federal Street with Catharine Beisel, 59 (sic), and a servant, Fredericka Weber, 19. Weber was a native of Hesse Cassel, Germany.

Ettie Mathilda Weihl as a Young Woman

Ettie Mathilda Weihl as a Young Woman

The Weihl family moved from Federal Street to 942 Western Avenue after Charles G.B. Weihl purchased the house in June 1881.

Charles G.B. Weihl’s wholesale liquor business moved to 339 Liberty Avenue (at the northwestern comer of Tenth Street and Liberty Avenue) in about 1881. Weihl, however, closed this business by 1883.

The 1883 Pittsburgh directory listed Charles G.B. Weihl as a partner in Weihl & Lippert, which operated a saw factory, the Penn Saw Works, on the present site of the U.S. Steel Building on Grant Street in Downtown Pittsburgh. Weihl’s partner was E. Theodore Lippert of Shaler. Weihl withdrew from this partnership by the following year, and lived in retirement at 942 Western Avenue.

Clara L Weihl Swindell

Clara L Weihl Swindell

An 1886 description of the Penn Saw Works and a 1904 biography of E. Theodore Lippert omitted any mention of Weihl as a partner in the firm.

In 1886, Charles G.B. Weihl acquired a 25′ by 126’ lot on the Temperanceville and Noblestown Plank Road in the West Mansfield section of Robinson Township for $1.

Charles G.B. Weihl died at age 53 on April 23, 1887. His death was not noted in The Alleghenian, a weekly Northside newspaper, and received only brief notices in the daily Pittsburgh newspapers. Allegheny Cemetery records give the cause of Weihl’s death as dropsy.

In his will, Weihl left his estate, including 944 Western Avenue, to his wife and his daughters Clara and Ettie, in equal thirds. Katharine J. Weihl’s interest in the estate required that she not remarry. A widow at 38, she chose not to accept the terms of the will and instead was granted an unconditional one-third interest under Pennsylvania intestate law. In 1898, Clara and Ettie conveyed their interest in the property to their mother.

Ettie Weihl Ridinger with Children

Ettie Weihl Ridinger with Children

Extensive research on the period of construction of 944 Western Avenue does not establish whether construction of the house began before or after Charles G.B. Weihl’s death. Documentation of Weihl’s affluence suggests it is likely that Weihl commissioned the house as a larger residence for himself and his family. It is also possible that Weihl anticipated his death and had the house built as an income-producing property for his wife. Kate J. Weihl may have had the house built after she was widowed for the same reason.

Katharine J. Weihl lived at 942 Western Avenue for over a decade after her husband’s death. In about 1899, she began living with her daughter and son-in-law, Ettie and Charles W. Ridinger, after they moved to a house they purchased or had built at 3418 Perrysville Avenue, Observatory Hill. Charles W. Ridinger, who married Ettie Weihl in 1898, was an electrical engineer.

Edward H Swindell & Charles W Ridinger

Edward H Swindell & Charles W Ridinger

Clara Weihl and Edward H. Swindell were also married in 1898. Edward H. Swindell was a partner in a family-owned business, William Swindle & Brothers, which manufactured and installed regenerative gas furnaces. The Swindells boarded in an un-numbered house in Lincoln Avenue in Bellevue at the time of the 1900 census, and moved to 407 South Pacific Avenue in Friendship by the following year. The family lived at 2228 Perrysville Avenue between 1905 and 1910, and at 6334 Forbes Avenue and 5847 Northumberland Street in Squirrel Hill during the following decade.

In about 1908, the Ridinger family and Kate J. Weihl moved to 5830 Marlborough Street in Squirrel Hill. Kate J. Weihl lived with the Ridinger family for about another decade. In her last years she lived with her daughter, Clara Swindell, and her family. She died in the Swindell home at 5888 Marlborough Avenue in Squirrel Hill on October 16, 1921, at age 73.

The Holmeses (Letitia)

U.S. census records, Pittsburgh city directories and biographical materials provide information on Letitia Holmes, the first owner of 719 Brighton Road, and members of her family.

1830 to 1870

Letitia Holmes was born in May 1830. She was the daughter of John and Letitia Caldwell of the town of Allegheny. John and Letitia Caldwell’s other children included William A. Caldwell, who lived with his sister Letitia Holmes at 719 Brighton Road for over three decades.

Allegheny County records show that in May 1828, John and Letitia Caldwell were granted Lots 27, 28, and 29 in the eastern liberties of the town of Allegheny by William Anderson of the city of Pittsburg (sic). William Anderson granted the lots “in consideration of the love, good will and affection which I bear to my son and daughter John Caldwell and Letitia his wife.” Each lot measured 50’9″ wide by 140′ deep. The lots were part of Lot 146 in the Reserved Tract called the town of Allegheny.

William Anderson had opened Liberty and Washington Streets, each 50′ wide, through Lot 146 in a deed dated May
27, 1826 and recorded in Deed Book Volume 36, Page 79.

James Holmes, the husband of Letitia Caldwell Holmes, was born in about 1815 in Maryland. He was the son of Sarah Holmes, whose other children included William B. Holmes, a meat packer and banker, and Jane Holmes, a philanthropist. James, William B. and Jane Holmes were cousins of Jane Holmes, whose will provided for the founding of Holmes Hall for Boys.

The Holmes family settled in Pittsburgh by the late 1830’s, living on Penn Avenue near Hay Street in what is now Downtown Pittsburgh. Later directories gave the family’s address as 96 Penn Avenue, and subsequently 324 Penn Avenue.

1872 and 1890 plat maps of what was then Pittsburgh’s Fourth Ward shows that 96 Penn Avenue was located on the southern side of Penn Avenue, three houses west of Fourth Street. The house measured 24′ wide by approximately 85′ deep. Immediately to the east of the Holmes home was 98 Penn Avenue (later 326 Penn Avenue), owned by the Caldwell family. The Caldwell home measured 24′ wide by about 75′ deep.

The Holmes and Caldwell houses occupied part of the present site of Gateway Center. Plat maps and city directories indicate that 324 Penn Avenue existed until 1950 or 1951. In later years the house was used as a rooming house and was surrounded by stores and other businesses.

The Caldwell home at 326 Penn Avenue was later converted to commercial uses, housing a dry cleaning business until it was demolished in about 1950.

The 1850 manuscript census enumerated families headed by Sarah Holmes and James Caldwell, Letitia Caldwell Holmes’ brother, consecutively, suggesting that the families lived next to one another. The census enumerated the Caldwell family in dwelling house 493 and the Holmes family in dwelling house 494 in Pittsburgh’s Fourth Ward.

Sarah Holmes, 60, had no occupation. Living with her were William B. Holmes, 40, who had no occupation and owned real estate valued at $14,000, James Holmes, 33, who had no occupation, and Jane Holmes, 37, who had no occupation. All members of the Holmes family had been born in Maryland. William B. Holmes was the only Holmes family member who owned real estate. No members of the Holmes family had amassed a “personal estate.”

Also living with the Holmes family was Jane Nicklin, 19, who had been born in England and was reported to have no occupation. Jane Nicklin may have been a servant.

James Caldwell, 30, who had been born in Pennsylvania, worked as a tanner and currier, and owned no real estate. Mary Caldwell, 24 and a native of Ohio, had no occupation and owned real estate valued at $12,000. Sarah Caldwell, seven months old, had been born in Pennsylvania.

Ellen May, 25, who had been born in Ireland, and Sarah Davis, 10, who had been born in Pennsylvania, also lived with the Caldwell family.

The 1850 manuscript census apparently did not emumerate Letitia Caldwell (later Letitia Caldwell Holmes) in Pittsburgh or Allegheny.

Local marriage records of the 1800’s contain no information on the wedding of James Holmes and Letitia Caldwell.
James Holmes appeared in the Pittsburgh city directory as early as 1850, when he was listed as living on Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh. The 1850 directory did not give Holmes’ occupation. In 1856, James Holmes was a partner with William B. Holmes in William B. Holmes & Brother, a pork packing company located at 12 Market Street in
Pittsburgh. Both James and William B. Holmes lived at 96 Penn Avenue in 1856.

The May 9, 1881 obituary of William B. Holmes also reported that James and William B. Holmes were partners in a pork packing business. The 1893 obituary of Holmes’ sister Jane mentioned William B. Holmes and Sarah Pusey, a sister, but not James Holmes.

Sarah Holmes died October 24, 1859, at age 70. Her funeral, according to the Pittsburgh Gazette, took place at the Holmes family residence at 96 Penn Avenue.

The 1860 city directory listed James Holmes as proprietor of James Holmes & Company, pork packers and provision dealers, located at the corner of First and Market Streets in Pittsburgh. By 1860, Holmes had moved to Colonade Row on Federal Street in Allegheny. William B. Holmes, James Holmes’ brother and former business partner, had become president of the Mechanic’s National Bank and still lived at 96 Penn Avenue.

The 1860 manuscript census reported that James and Letitia Holmes lived in Allegheny in a household headed by Letitia Caldwell. Letitia Caldwell, 62, had been born in Pennsylvania and had no occupation. She owned no real estate and had a “personal estate” of $400. William Caldwell, 30, worked in a boat store. Charles Caldwell, 21, was a clerk. Kate Caldwell, 17, and Nelly Caldwell, 13, did not work.

The census reported that James Holmes, 40, had been born in Pennsylvania and had no occupation. Letitia Holmes, 35, also had no occupation. Neither James or Letitia Holmes owned real estate or had a personal estate.
The family’s servants were Catherine Creadiel, 23, and Lizzie Creadiel, 17, both born in Germany.

Pittsburgh city directories listed James Holmes at 18 South Commons in Allegheny through 1862. On May 17, 1862, the Pittsburgh Gazette reported:

DIED: HOLMES – On Friday morning, at 1 1/2 o’clock, Mr. James Holmes, in, the 47th year of his age.

His funeral will take place TO-DAY (Saturday) at 4 o’clock p.m., from his late residence, South Commons, Allegheny City. The friends of the family are invited to attend.

The Pittsburgh Daily Dispatch reported the same information on James Holmes.

Letitia Holmes was listed as the widow of James Holmes and living at 64 Union Avenue in Allegheny beginning in 1863. Letitia Holmes was listed at 31 Federal Street from 1865 to 1867. She did not appear in the directory again until 1876, when she was listed as the widow of James Holmes and living at 48 Irwin Avenue. The 1870 census did not enumerate Letitia Holmes in Allegheny or Pittsburgh.

Letitia Holmes’ brother William Caldwell was listed at 31 Federal Street between 1863 and 1869. William Caldwell next appeared in the city directory in 1871, when he was listed as president of the Monongahela Insurance Company and living at 48 Irwin Avenue.

The 1870 manuscript census apparently enumerated William A. Caldwell in Allegheny’s First Ward with other family members. Caldwell, whose age was given as 35, worked as president of a fire insurance company. The census, which gave Caldwell’s name as William F. Caldwell, indicated that he owned no real estate and had a “personal estate” of $5000.

Living with William A. Caldwell in 1870 were Louisa (sic) Caldwell, 79, who had no occupation, Agnes Caldwell, 30, who kept house, Kate Caldwell, 27, “at home,” and two servants. The Caldwells’ servants were Elizabeth Alexander,
28, and Elizabeth Fay, 19.

The census reported that all residents of the Caldwell home had been born in Pennsylvania.

Neither the 1870 census or the 1870 city directory indicated William A. Caldwell’s residence. However, the 1870 manuscript census enumerated the Caldwell family near families living at 126, 128, and 130 Robinson Street in Allegheny.

1870 to 1914

Pittsburgh city directories listed Letitia Holmes as the widow of James Holmes and living at 48 Irwin Avenue in 1876 and in most subsequent years. City directories never indicated that Letitia Holmes had an occupation.
In 1880, the census enumerated Letitia Holmes, 44, living at 48 Irwin Avenue with other family members and servants. The census reported that Letitia Holmes was a widow who had no occupation. Her brother William A. Caldwell, 60, was listed as the head of the household.

In 1880, the census reported that William A. Caldwell was single and was president of a fire insurance company. Letitia Holmes’ daughter Letitia C., 18, was a student. Asister, Agnes Caldwell, 65 (sic), also lived at 48 Irwin Avenue. Agnes Caldwell was single and had no occupation.

Servants who lived at 48 Irwin Avenue in 1880 were Sarah Campbell, 26, Maggie Coll, 26, and Maggie McCue, all born in Ireland, and William Remensnyder, 13, who had been born in Pennsylvania to parents born in Germany and Pennsylvania.

On March 19, 1886, the Pittsburgh Gazette reported on the wedding of Letitia Caldwell Holmes’ daughter Letitia C. Holmes and George P. Hamilton Jr. at 48 Irwin Avenue. Hamilton, an attorney, had previously lived at 187 Ridge Avenue. His father, George P. Hamilton, was also a prominent attorney. The Hamiltons’ daughter Elizabeth was born in 1887.

City directories listed George P. Hamilton Jr. at 48 Irwin Avenue beginning in 1887. George and Letitia Hamilton lived at 48 Irwin Avenue until Letitia Hamilton’s death on October 5, 1898. George P. Hamilton Jr. continued to live at 48 Irwin Avenue until his death on August 15, 1901.

In 1886, The Social Mirror, a book about wealthy and accomplished women of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, estimated Letitia Holmes’ fortune at $500,000 or more. The book also estimated Letitia Holmes Hamilton’s worth at $200,000.

The 1890 census, which would provide information on Letitia Holmes and other residents of 719 Brighton Road in that year, was destroyed in a fire after its completion.

Neither the censuses of 1870, 1880, and 1900, or biographical information on William A. Caldwell indicate that Caldwell was ever married or had a child. However, a photograph album dated Christmas 1886 and inscribed “To William A. Caldwell Sr. from William A. Caldwell Jr.” suggests Caldwell had a son.

An index of local deaths during the 1800’s and early 1900’s also provides no information on William A. Caldwell Jr.
The 1900 manuscript census reported that William A. Caldwell was the head of the household living at 719 Brighton Road. Caldwell, 76, was reported to be single and president of an insurance company. Letitia Holmes, 70, was a widow who had had three children. None of her children were alive at the time of the census.
George P. Hamilton Jr., 38, a nephew, was a widower and a lawyer. His daughter Elizabeth Hamilton, 13, attended school.
Five servants lived at 719 Brighton Road in 1900. They were Malinda L. Lieb, 25, Margaret Higgins, 47, Annie McCarthy, 23, Annie M. O’Hare, 30, and Ellen Mulligan, 24.

Malinda L. Lieb, a cook, had been born in Ohio and was of German descent. Margaret Higgins, a nurse, had been born in Vermont to parents born in Ireland. Annie McCarthy, a waitress, had been born in Ireland, and immigrated to the United States in 1894. Annie M. O’Hare, a chambermaid, had been born in Ireland and immigrated in 1896. Ellen Mulligan, a chambermaid, had been born in Pennsylvania to parents born in Ireland.

The census also reported that all adult residents of 719 Brighton Road were able to read and write, and that no employed residents of 719 Brighton Road had been unemployed during the previous year.

The 1910 manuscript census shows that Letitia Holmes, 75, lived at 719 Brighton Road with her granddaughter Elizabeth Hamilton, 23, and four servants. The census indicated that Letitia Holmes had had three children, and that none of her children were alive. The occupation of Elizabeth Hamilton was given as “own income.”

In 1910, servants living at 719 Irwin Avenue were Anne O’Hare, Anne Sweeney, Nora Cook, and Margaret Miller.
Anne O’Hare, 40, was a childless widow who had been born in Ireland and immigrated in 1882. Anne Sweeney, 19, was single and a native of Ireland, and had immigrated in 1904. Nora Cook, 40, was a childless widow who had been born in Ireland and immigrated in 1886. Margaret Miller, 23, was single and had been born in Pennsylvania.

In 1910, all residents of 719 Brighton Road except Anne O’Hare were able to read and write English.

City directories listed Letitia Holmes at 719 Irwin Avenue through 1913, the year before her death on March 1, 1914.

1914 to the Present

Letitia Holmes’ granddaughter Elizabeth Hamilton married Percy E. Donner during the early 1910’s. Neither Allegheny County marriage license applications or listings of newspaper wedding announcements provide information on this wedding.

Percy E. Donner was born in Indiana on November 18, 1878. As a young man, Donner began working for the newly formed United States Steel Corporation, managing the company’s Monessen, Pennsylvania mill. Subsequently, Donner was involved with the Pittsburgh Air Brake Company and Monessen real estate activities.

A 1900 rendering of Monessen shows that one of Monessen’s streets was named Donner Avenue.

Directories of the early 1900’s show that Percy E. Donner lived on Morewood Avenue near Fifth Avenue in Shadyside between 1905 and 1908. Donner maintained offices in the Frick Building in 1905, in the Frick Building Annex in 1907, and in the Union Bank Building in 1910.

Percy E. Donner was first listed at 719 Irwin Avenue in 1911, when he was a partner in Donner, Childs and Woods, brokers, located on the second floor of the Union Bank building. Donner’s partners were Clinton L. Childs of 653 Morewood Avenue and Charles W. Woods of 816 Ivy Street, both in Shadyside.

Following Letitia Holmes’ death, directories listed Percy Donner at 719 Irwin Avenue through 1921. Donner was listed as president of the Pittsburgh Power Reverse Gear Company in the late 1910’s and early 1920’s, and as secretary-treasurer of the Pittsburgh Air Brake Company in the late 1910’s.

The 1920 manuscript census, which should provide information on residents of 719 Brighton Road in that year, will be available to the public later in 1992. Census records are sealed for 72 years to ensure confidentiality.
Percy and Elizabeth Donner moved to Edgeworth by 1923, the year that Elizabeth Donner sold 719 Brighton Road to the Holmes Hall for Boys. Percy Donner died in 1926.

Elizabeth Donner lived in Sewickley until shortly before her death in 1968. The Donners had a daughter, Letitia Caldwell Donner, who died at age five, and a son, Frederick H. Donner, born in about 1920, who is a resident of Sewickley and Delray Beach, Florida.

The McKelvys

Hugh McKelvy was born in 1817 in Wilkinsburg, and was raised in Allegheny City (now the Northside) from the age of three. McKelvy probably grew up near the present site of Allegheny General Hospital, as his obituary reported that he attended a log school building that stood on or near the hospital’s present site.

Hugh and Sarah McKelvy were married by the early 1840s. Sarah McKelvy was born in 1821 in Pennsylvania. Wesley McKelvy, the first child of Hugh and Sarah McKelvy, was bom in 1844. He was followed by William in 1847, Emma in 1852, Ella in 1856, Dale in 1858 and Hugh Jr. in 1860.

By 1850, Hugh McKelvy was employed as an engineer, and lived with his wife and children on Reedsdale Street (then Rebecca Street) in Allegheny City. McKelvy became a riverboat captain within a short time. The McKelvy family moved from Reedsdale Street to a house that Hugh and Sarah McKelvy owned at 208 West North Avenue (then an un-numbered house on Allegheny City’s North Commons) in the mid-1850s.

In 1859, McKelvy became a partner in Burgess & McKelvy, grocers, located on Forbes Avenue (then Diamond Street) in Downtown Pittsburgh. McKelvy’s partner was John Burgess of Sandusky Street in what is now the Allegheny Center Mall area. McKelvy remained in that business until 1862.

The 1860 census of population enumerated seven members of the McKelvy family – Hugh, 43, Sarah, 39, Wesley, 16, William, 13, Emma, eight, Ella, four and Dale, two – in their home on the North Commons. The census reported that Hugh McKelvy owned real estate worth $4,000, probably the value of the McKelvy family’s home, and had a personal estate of $1,200.

The 1863 Pittsburgh city directory listed Hugh McKelvy as a steam boat captain, and as a partner in two businesses: McMahon & McKelvy, oil refiners, of 44th Street at the Allegheny Valley Railroad in Lawrenceville, and McKelvy & Moore, barrel manufacturers, of Diamond Street in Allegheny City. McKelvy may have found the oil refinery to be more profitable than his other enterprises, and ended his involvement in riverboats and barrel manufacturing by 1864.

Hugh McKelvy’s 1863 entry into the oil industry came four years after the discovery of oil at Titusville in northwestern Pennsylvania. McKelvy and thousands of other men intent on profiting from extracting, transporting, refining, and selling oil invested their time and available capital in this industry. Pittsburgh shared in the oil boom as a center of river transportation and as the site of several refineries. During that time, a number of Pittsburgh men traveled to growing northwestern Pennsylvania communities such as Titusville, Franklin, Oil City, and Pithole to participate in the oil business. Hugh McKelvy appears to have enjoyed moderate success in the highly risky and capital-intensive oil industry, and was not among those who made or lost fortunes.

In 1864, the McKelvy family lived at 1203 Boyle Street in Allegheny City. The family moved to a new house they had built at 846 Western Avenue in 1865. By 1865, Hugh McKelvy operated an oil depot or refinery at Ninth Street and Fort Duquesne Boulevard, Downtown.

In 1866, the Pittsburgh city directory listed Hugh McKelvy as an oil dealer on Fort Duquesne Boulevard, but with no home listing. It appears likely that McKelvy’s work in the oil industry may have caused him to leave the city in order to tend to his business interests in Pennsylvania’s oil towns for a short time. McKelvy returned to Allegheny City by 1867, when he was appointed Allegheny City postmaster. He held that position while living at 942 Western Avenue in 1868 and 1869. McKelvy could walked to work in the Allegheny City Post Office, in the city hall on Diamond Square in the present Allegheny Center Mall area, or could have taken one of the horse-drawn streetcars that passed in front of his house.

McKelvy returned to the oil business in 1870, as a partner in McKelvy, Brother & Company, at Fort Duquesne Boulevard and Eighth Street. McKelvy’s partners included his brother, William M. McKelvy, of 44th Street in Lawrenceville. After selling 942 Western Avenue in early 1870, the McKelvy family began renting a house at 846 Beech Avenue. The 1870 census, the last census to provide information on assets of persons enumerated, shows that Hugh McKelvy owned no real estate and had a personal estate of $1,000.

Hugh McKelvy and his wife and children lived in a house they owned at 910 Beech Avenue, or in an earlier house on the site, between 1871 and 1874. Hugh McKelvy was listed in directories as an oil broker and oil merchant during that time. McKelvy did not appear in Pittsburgh city directories published after 1874. Available records do not document where the McKelvy family went immediately after leaving Pittsburgh.

Hugh McKelvy died on May 24, 1894, at the home of a daughter on Linden Street in Allegheny City. An obituary published in the Pittsburgh Press stated that McKelvy had been a resident of Parker’s Landing, Armstrong County, a center of oil production.