Joshua Rhodes was born in England on March 19, 1824, and immigrated to the United States in 1830. Rhodes’ family moved to Allegheny City in 1832.
Eliza Rhodes, formerly Eliza Haslett, was born in May 1833 in Lawrenceville, then a borough near Pittsburgh.
Biographical materials indicate that Joshua Rhodes worked for Benjamin Brown, a grocer, as a teenager and opened a grocery in 1844 at age 20 on First Avenue near Smithfield Street. Rhodes’ store was destroyed in the fire of 1845, and he subsequently rebuilt his store at Fourth Avenue and Smithfield Street.
Joshua Rhodes was listed in the Pittsburgh city directory as early as 1847, when he was listed as a fruiter and confectioner at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Smithfield Street. By 1850, Rhodes formed Joshua Rhodes & Company, fruiterers, at 6 Wood Street. Rhodes lived at 30 Smithfield Street in 1850. By 1852, Rhodes was a cracker baker at 189 First Street and also operated Joshua Rhodes & Company, fruiters and confectioners, at 6 Wood Street.
Joshua Rhodes began operating a brewery, Rhodes & Verner, by 1857. Rhodes and Verner was located at the corner of Penn Avenue and Barkers Alley in Pittsburgh. In 1857, Rhodes lived on First Avenue, and in 1858, he boarded at the Scott House, at Irwin Street and Duquesne Way in Pittsburgh. Rhodes moved to 249 Penn Avenue by 1860.
The 1860 manuscript census indicated that Joshua Rhodes and his family lived in Pittsburgh’s Fourth Ward. Rhodes, 37, was a brewery malster, and his wife Eliza, 31, did not work outside the home. The census showed that Joshua Rhodes owned no real estate and had a “personal estate” of $32,000.
The 1860 census indicated that Joshua and Eliza Rhodes’ children were Lucy B., five, Ida S., four and Charles R., two. Information contained in the 1870 manuscript census suggests that Ida S. was Ida S. Williams, a daughter of Elizabeth Williams, apparently a close relative of the Rhodes family, and that Lucy B. was Lucy Brown, who also lived with the Rhodes family in 1870.
Joshua Rhodes’ mother Elizabeth, 65, and a housemaid, Agatha Durkin, 20, also lived with the family in 1870. Eliza Rhodes had been born in England, and Agatha Durkin had been born in Ireland.
Joshua Rhodes moved to at 10 Hancock Street in Pittsburgh by 1862 and lived at 231 Penn Avenue in 1864 and 1865.
Joshua Rhodes moved to Allegheny between 1865 and 1866. The 1866 city directory listed Rhodes at the corner of Western Avenue and Bagaley Lane (now Bidwell Street). After moving to Allegheny, Rhodes continued operating his brewery in Pittsburgh.
Rhodes was listed as living at Bidwell and Sheffield Streets in Manchester in 1868 and at 156 North Avenue in 1869 and 1870.
The 1870 manuscript census reported that Joshua and Eliza Rhodes and their family lived in the First Ward of Allegheny. Joshua Rhodes, 46, was a malster and Eliza Rhodes, 40, did not work. The census indicated that the Rhodes’ children were William, seven, Mary, five and Annie, five months.
Also living with the Rhodes family in 1870 were Mrs. Lilly (sic) Rhodes, 76, Mrs. Elizabeth Williams, 40, Ida Williams, 14 and Lucy Brown, 15.
The 1870 census indicated that Joshua Rhodes owned no real estate and had a “personal estate” of $15,000. In 1870, Mrs. Lucy Williams owned real estate valued at $20,000 and had a “personal estate” of $1,000.
During the 1870’s, Joshua Rhodes continued to operate his brewery, which became known as the Pittsburgh Brewery. In the late 1870’s, Rhodes became president of the Pennsylvania Tube Works, with offices at 2 Duquesne Alley.
The 1880 manuscript census reported that the family of Joshua and Eliza Rhodes lived at 95 Western Avenue. Joshua Rhodes, 56, was a brewer and Eliza Rhodes, 46, had no occupation. William B. Rhodes, 17, worked as a clerk in a pipe house, Mary H., 15, was a student, Annie, 10, did not attend school and Walter J., eight, attended school.
In 1880, the Rhodes’ servants who lived at 95 Western Avenue were Katie Johns, 27, who had been born in Pennsylvania to parents born in Germany and Emma Edey, 19, who had been born in Pennsylvania to parents also born in Pennsylvania. Both servants were single.
The 1880 census indicated that no residents of 95 Western Avenue were ill or temporarily disabled.
Joshua Rhodes served as president of the Allegheny National Bank during the 1870’s, and as vice-president of the bank during the late 1800’s.
The 1890 census, which would provide information on residents of 939 Western Avenue in that year, was destroyed in a fire following its completion.
In 1900, the manuscript census reported that Joshua Rhodes, 76, Eliza J. Rhodes, 67, and their family and servants lived at 939 Western Avenue. The census gave Joshua Rhodes’ occupation as “capitalist”. Eliza Rhodes did not work. Eliza Rhodes had had five children, with four still living at the time of the census.
In 1900, three of the Rhodes’ children were single and lived at home. William R. Rhodes, 37, was single and worked as manager of a tube works. Mary H. Rhodes, 34, and Anna J. Rhodes, 29, had no occupation.
In 1900, three servants, all of whom were black, lived at 939 Western Avenue. The servants were Rebecca Stevenson, 38, Lizzie Rowe, 26 and Mazie Brown, 26. Rebecca Stevenson, a cook, had been born in North Carolina to parents born in North Carolina. Lizzie Rowe, a waitress, had been born in Pennsylvania to parents born in Pennsylvania and Maryland. She had been married three years and had had one child, who had died. Her husband did not live with her. Mazie Brown, a servant, had been born in Pennsylvania to parents born in Virginia.
The census also reported that all residents of 939 Western Avenue were able to read and write.
Joshua Rhodes died on January 5, 1909.
The 1910 census showed that Eliza Rhodes, 76, lived at 939 Western Avenue with two of her children, a niece, and five servants. Eliza Rhodes’ occupation and that of her daughter Mary was given as “own income.” William B. Rhodes, 46, worked as manager of a pressed steel plant. Eliza Rhodes’ niece Lucy Rhodes (sic), 61, was single and had been born in Pennsylvania to parents born in England. Her occupation was also given as “own income.”
In 1910, the Rhodes’ servants were Katy Rogers, 30, Kate King, 37, Elizabeth Krepler, 26, Sophia Lowrie, 30, and Thomas Northcutt, 43. Katy Rogers, a chambermaid, had been born in Ireland and immigrated to the United States in 1898. Kate King, a cook, had been born in Virginia to parents born in Ireland and Virginia. Elizabeth Krepler, a parlor maid, had been born in Pennsylvania to parents also born in Pennsylvania. Sophia Lowrie, a waitress, had been born in Scotland and immigrated in 1908.
All residents of 939 Western Avenue in 1910 were able to read, write and speak English.
City directories indicate that Eliza Rhodes lived at 939 Western Avenue until her death on September 6, 1912. Her son William B. Rhodes lived at 939 Western Avenue until his death in the 1920’s. Mary Rhodes Van Voorhis lived at 939 Western Avenue until 1933, when the house was sold to the Allegheny Colombian Association.
The 1920 manuscript census will be available for public review in 1992 and should provide information on residents of 939 Western Avenue in that year. Census records are sealed for 72 years to preserve confidentiality.
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