Benjamin Franklin Jones was born in Claysville, Washington County, southwest of Pittsburgh, in 1824. He came to Pittsburgh at age 18, in 1842, and began working as a clerk for the Mechanics Line, which shipped freight between Pittsburgh and other eastern cities by river, canal and railroad. He entered the iron industry with his employer Samuel Kier in the 1840s, and in 1851 became a partner in Jones & Lauth, which operated the American Iron Works along the Monongahela River on what is now the South Side. The firm was succeeded by Jones & Laughlin less than a decade later, and expanded its works on the South Side while adding large new plants in Oakland, Hazelwood, and later Aliquippa, Beaver County. Jones & Laughlin eventually employed at least 20,000 workers with an annual output of hundreds of millions of tons of steel.
In 1850, Jones married Mary McMasters of Allegheny County. Elizabeth McMasters Jones was born in September 1863; the couple’s other children were Mary Franklin, born in 1851, Eva K. (1859-61), Alice B., born in 1867, and Benjamin F. Jr., born in 1868. The family lived in a large house on the 900 block of Penn Avenue, Downtown, in the 1850s and 1860s. In 1870, they moved to a new mansard-roofed mansion on Brighton Road at North Lincoln Avenue in Allegheny West. Members of the Jones family lived there into the twentieth century, and constructed several other Allegheny West houses as well. The mansion at Brighton and North Lincoln may have been the biggest house in Allegheny West when it was built, although a few later mansions in the neighborhood, including at least three built by Jones descendants, were larger.
Elizabeth M. Jones married Joseph Otto Horne of Bidwell Street south of West North Avenue in Manchester on February 28, 1884. Joseph O. Horne was born in Pittsburgh in 1860. He was a son of Joseph Horne, the founder and proprietor of the Pittsburgh department store that bore his name for well over a century, and worked for the family business in the 1880s.For the first five years after they married, Joseph O. and Elizabeth M. Horne lived in the Jones mansion on Brighton Road. They moved into the new house at 838 North Lincoln Avenue in time for Joseph O. Horne to be listed there in the Pittsburgh directory published in that year. The Hornes were then childless, but had three children in the 1890s: Madelaine in 1893, Elizabeth in 1895, and, Franklin Jones in 1899.
B.F. and Mary McMasters Jones’ other three children who reached adulthood occupied large Allegheny West houses after marrying. Mary Franklin Jones married Alex Laughlin Jr., a partner in Jones & Laughlins (the firm name then reflected the fact that more than one Laughlin was a partner), and they lived in a house that measured approximately 35’ wide by 70’ deep at the northwest corner of North Lincoln Avenue and Rope Way. After Alex Laughlin Jr. died in 1881, Mary F. Jones Laughlin moved back to her parents’ house and raised her children there.
Alice B. Jones married William W. Willock in 1889, and in 1893 the Willock family began living in what remains known as the Willock Mansion, commissioned by B.F. Jones at 705 Brighton Road. B.F. Jones Jr., a partner in Jones & Laughlin, and his family lived in a mansion next door to the Willocks at Brighton Road and Ridge Avenue for a decade or more before 1908, when they commissioned an even larger mansion that still stands on the site.
Joseph O. Horne left his family’s business in 1889 or 1890. He was elected to serve on Allegheny City Council, an unpaid position, around the same time, and remained in office for eight years. Pittsburgh directories did not list an occupation for him between 1890 and 1892. In 1893, Horne was corporate secretary of the National Safe Deposit and Vault Manufacturing Company on Third Avenue, Downtown. He was listed simply as a merchant living at 838 North Lincoln Avenue in Pittsburgh directories published in 1894 and 1895, and as living in the house and with no occupation between 1896 and 1900. He ran for Congress as a Republican in 1898, but lost the election.
Records of the 1890 census, which would provide information on occupants of 838 North Lincoln Avenue in that year, were destroyed in a warehouse fire in Washington D.C. in the 1920s. The handwritten 1900 census manuscript identified Elizabeth M. Horne, 36, as a divorced woman and as head of the family at 838 North Lincoln Avenue. Her children were Madelaine, six, Elizabeth, four, and Franklin, one. Elizabeth Horne then employed six servants who lived in her home. They were:
- Sadie Cox, 18, a waitress who had been born in England and immigrated in 1887
- Mary Meehan, 23, a chambermaid who had immigrated from Ireland in 1896
- Agnes Cane, 26, a laundress who had been born in Pennsylvania to Irish immigrants; married but living separately from her husband
- Kate McKennith, 23, a nurse who had immigrated from Ireland in 1880
- Annie Hill, 19, a nurse born in Ireland; year of immigration unknown
- Annie Steinholm, 26, a cook who had immigrated from Germany in 1895; living apart from her husband and two children
The Horne children attended Allegheny Preparatory School at the corner of North Lincoln and Galveston avenues. The school operated between 1898 and 1919 or 1920, with the majority of its students coming from Allegheny West and Manchester.
The 1900 and 1901 Pittsburgh directories listed Joseph O. Horne as a broker living at 838 North Lincoln Avenue; in 1902, Elizabeth M. Horne was listed as Joseph’s widow. Joseph O. Horne died from pneumonia on November 12, 1906.
Articles in the Pittsburgh Gazette Times and Pittsburgh Press reported that after Horne left his father’s business, “he gave up business life and spent most of his time in travel…for several years he had made California his home, but went to New York shortly after the earthquake.” The newspaper reports and an obituary in the society magazine The Bulletin did not mention Elizabeth M. Horne or the couple’s children.
Pittsburgh directories indicate that Elizabeth M. Horne and her children lived at 838 North Lincoln Avenue through 1906. After that time, the family lived full-time at their Sewickley Heights summer home, Ridgeview Farm. Elizabeth M. Horne owned 838 North Lincoln Avenue until 1916. She lived in Sewickley Heights until she died in 1939. After her death, newspapers reported that she had been worth $390,000. She is remembered in Aliquippa for having donated the construction cost of that community’s public library, the Benjamin Franklin Jones Memorial Library, which was built in 1927.