William P. Price was born in what later became the Allegheny Center Mall area in October 1845. He was one of at least seven children of Henry T. and Mary Price, both born in Pennsylvania. By 1858, the Price family lived on Sherman Avenue near Sampsonia Street. At the time, Henry T. Price was a carpenter with a shop at Water and Middle Streets in Allegheny.
In about 1862 the Price family moved to Chateau Street in Manchester, then an independent borough bordering Allegheny City. Around that time, William P. Price began working as a carpenter with his father.
In 1865 Henry T. and William P. Price formed a partnership, Henry T. Price & Company, oil tank builders, at 165 Lacock Street. The Price family moved to 1231 Monterey Street the following year. William P. Price went into business as a real estate and insurance agent at 33 Ohio Street in 1867, and moved the business to 21 Diamond Street by 1870. Later in 1870, William P. Price closed his office and joined his father in Price, Stewart & Company, agricultural implement dealers, at 32-34 Ohio Street.
Records of the 1870 census show that William P. Price, 25, lived with his parents and younger brothers and sisters on Monterey Street. Price’s siblings were James, 21, a clerk in a boat store, John, 19, a salesman in a store, and Mary, 17, Ella, 14, Charles, 13, and Frank, ten, all attending school. In 1870, William P. Price owned no real estate and had no personal estate. Henry T. Price owned no real estate and had a personal estate of $3000.
In 1872, at 26, William P. Price married Margaret McClintock Whitesell, 22, of Carrington Street in Allegheny City. She was born in Allegheny City on February 4, 1850, and was a daughter of Catherine McClintock Whitesell and the late Dr. George L. Whitesell. William P. and Margaret Price began living at 1214 Arch Street.
William P. Price was elected to Allegheny City Council for the first time in 1873. Serving on the councils of Allegheny or Pittsburgh was then a part-time endeavor, and Price continued as a partner in Price, Stewart & Company. He eventually served as Allegheny City Council president.
The Prices moved to 1528 Arch Street by 1877. The 1880 census enumerated William P. and Margaret Price at 1528 Arch Street with their children George L.W., five, and Henry T., three, and Margaret Price’s mother Catherine Whitesell, who was 50.
The Price family lived at 1528 Arch Street until they moved to 908 Beech Avenue in 1886. At about that time, William P. Price left the agricultural implements business that he had worked in with his father and became a manufacturer’s agent. Price had an office Downtown at 43 Sixth Avenue in the late 1880s, at 943 Liberty Avenue in 1890, and at 17 Seventh Avenue in 1892.
Records of the 1890 census, which would provide information on residents of 908 Beech Avenue in that year, were destroyed in a warehouse fire in Washington D.C. in the 1920s.
William P. Price changed careers again by 1893, when he opened a sewer pipe and builders supplies business at 302 Wood Street in Pittsburgh. Price continued in this work until about 1895, when he and his son George L.W. Price went into business as electrical contractors.
At the time of the 1900 census, William P. and Margaret Price had had five children, all of whom were still living at home at 908 Beech Avenue. George L.W. Price, 25, was an electrician, Henry T., 23, was a physician, and Ella, 19, John M., 17, and Catherine, 14, attended school. An adopted daughter, Nancy J. Stinson, 26, also lived at 908 Beech Avenue. Stinson was an unmarried schoolteacher who had been born in Pennsylvania to Scotch-Irish parents. Margaret Price’s widowed mother Catherine Whitesell, 70, also lived at 908 Beech Avenue in 1900.
William P. Price died on October 25,1904, when he was struck by a train at the North Avenue and Brighton Road crossing near his home. The crossing was then at-grade, a few years before the tracks were lowered through and northwest of West Park. During the first decade of the 20th century, numerous fatalities at at-grade railroad crossings throughout the United States led to the lowering or shifting of railroad lines in the interest of public safety. It is likely that the death of a well-known citizen such as William P. Price contributed to the decision to lower the tracks through West Park.
In 1910, according to census records, Margaret Price lived at 908 Beech Avenue with other family members, a lodger, and a servant. Nancy Stinson, 36, was a schoolteacher, as was Ella Price, 28. John Price, 26, was an electrical supplies dealer, and Catherine Price, 23, was a self-employed music teacher. Frederick A. Riegel, 28, an unmarried electrical supplies salesman, was the Prices’ lodger. He had been born in Pennsylvania. The family’s servant was Margaret O’Brien, 20, who had born in Pennsylvania to parents born in England.
Pittsburgh city directories show that Margaret Price moved out of the city of Pittsburgh in 1911 or 1912. After leaving 908 Beech Avenue, Price converted the house to a four-family dwelling. She lived at 6911 Prospect Avenue in Ben Avon, which she owned, with her daughter Ella and Nancy Stinson before she died on February 7,1934.
John Sterritt was born in Virginia to foreign-born parents in about 1802. His wife Jane Stewart Sterritt was born in Ireland in about 1815. By 1850, John and Jane Sterritt were married and living in Allegheny City, where John Sterritt operated a dry goods store on Federal Street. Records of the 1850 census show that John and Jane Sterritt had four children, and also shared their home with Jane Sterritt’s sister and two other persons. In 1850, the Sterritts’ children were James S., ten, and William H., six, both attending school, and Robert, three, and Jane M., one. Jane Sterritt’s sister was Rachel Stewart, 29, who had no occupation. Also living with the family in 1850 were Jane Longhay, 13, born in Ireland, and James Vanweller, 20. Jane Longhay’s relation to the Sterritt family is unknown. James Vanweller was a salesman who boarded with the family.
The Sterritt family belonged to the First United Presbyterian Church of Allegheny for many years, including during the time that they lived at 908 Beech Avenue. The church was located on Union Avenue in what later became the Allegheny Center Mall area.
By 1856, the Sterritt family lived at the northeast corner of the North Commons (now North Avenue) and Federal Street. In the late 1850s, John Sterritt closed or sold his dry goods store and became a property assessor. Within a few years, Sterritt was a real estate agent and rent collector with an office at 70 Diamond Street in Allegheny. Sterritt’s sons William and Robert began working with him as clerks in the late 1860s.
The Sterritt family lived at North Avenue and Federal Street until 1868, when the city directory listed John Sterritt as living on Beech Avenue near Grant Avenue (now Galveston Avenue). Sterritt was listed at 53 (908) Beech Avenue beginning in 1870.
Records of the 1870 census show that John and Jane Sterritt lived at 908 Beech Avenue with two of their sons, Jane Sterritt’s sister Rachel Stewart, and a servant. William Sterritt, 25, was reported to be a bookkeeper, and Robert Sterritt, 21, was a salesman. Rachel Stewart, 49, had no occupation. The Sterritts’ servant was Amanda Hopkins, 18, who had been born in Pennsylvania.
The 1870 census, the last census to provide information on assets of persons enumerated, reported that John Sterritt owned real estate worth $25,000 and had a “personal estate” or cash savings of $1400. Jane Sterritt owned real estate worth $12,000 and had no personal estate. The Sterritts’ total assets of $38,400 were comparable to around $1.2 million or more in the early 21st century.
John Sterritt’s real estate office moved to 40 North Diamond Street in the early 1870s. At around that time, William H. Sterritt became a notary public at the same address. John Sterritt worked as a real estate agent until he died in late September or early October 1876. After Sterritt’s death, Jane Sterritt and other family members continued to live at 908 Beech Avenue.
The 1880 manuscript census listed William H. Sterritt as the head of the household at 908 Beech Avenue. Sterritt had married by that time, and he and his wife Jennie had a son, John C., five. Jennie Sterritt, 27, had been born in Pennsylvania and was of Irish descent. Jane Sterritt, 63, and Rachel Stewart, 59, still lived at 908 Beech Avenue in 1880.
In the early 1880s William Sterritt was a partner in Sterritt & Algeo, real estate agents, at 49 North Diamond Street. Sterritt’s partner was W.W. Algeo of Armandale Street in Allegheny City.
In 1885, Jane Sterritt prepared to sell 908 Beech Avenue. A December 8, 1885 advertisement in the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette informed the public:
FOR SALE – 53 BEECH ST., NEAR GRANT ave, Allegheny. Ground 40 x 100 to alley; two-story brick house, 8 rooms, attics, laundry, bath, range, natural gas, stable. A good substantial residence. A. LEGGATE, Agent, 31 Federal St.
Jane Sterritt sold 908 Beech Avenue in 1886. She lived in the Pittsburgh area, possibly with her son William in Bellevue, until she died in 1893.
Madelaine F. Laughlin Alexander and her husband, Rev. Maitland Alexander, lived at 838 North Lincoln Avenue between 1907 and 1910. Madelaine F. Laughlin Alexander was a daughter of Mary Franklin Jones Laughlin, first child of B.F. and Mary McMasters Jones, and Alex Laughlin Jr. Maitland Alexander was the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh between 1899 and 1929.
The 1910 census enumerated the Alexander family at 838 North Lincoln Avenue. Maitland and Madelaine Alexander had been married for four years and had one child, Maitland Jr., who was 23 months old. The couple employed six servants who lived in the house:
- Margaret Cleary, 31, a chambermaid, a widow who had been born in Pennsylvania to Irish immigrant parents
- Anna Fitzpatric, 27, a nurse, she was a widow who had immigrated from England in 1895
- Katharine McGonigle, 39, an unmarried cook who had immigrated from Ireland in 1899
- Marguerite Steen, 21, a waitress, born in Pennsylvania and unmarried
- Bridget Gagin, 38, a laundress who had immigrated from Ireland in 1898, unmarried
- Hulda Richter, 29, a ladies’ maid who was unmarried and had immigrated from Germany in 1907
In about 1911, the Alexander family moved into one of the largest houses ever built on the Northside, a mansion at 920 Ridge Avenue. At around the same time, Madelaine Alexander’s sister, Mary McMasters Laughlin Robinson, her husband William C. Robinson, and their children moved into a mansion of similar size next door at 900 Ridge Avenue, at the corner of Galveston Avenue.
Mary Franklin Jones Laughlin had made the construction of the mansions possible in 1909, when she purchased the Pittsburgh and Allegheny Orphan Asylum at that site, demolished the building, and gave the property to her daughters. The Alexander and Robinson houses, alone with the adjacent William Penn Snyder house across Galveston Avenue, were the last mansions constructed in Allegheny West. The Alexander and Robinson mansions were demolished between 1938 and 1940.
Henry Buckingham Darlington and his wife, Constance Alden Darlington, rented 838 North Lincoln Avenue from Elizabeth M. Horne between 1912 and 1915. Henry B. Darlington was an Indianapolis native and 1.906 Princeton University graduate, and a grandson of Harry Darlington of 721 Brighton Road. Constance Alden Darlington was a daughter of the architect Frank Alden.
Pittsburgh directories published in the early 1910s listed Henry Darlington as a clerk. In 1910, he worked for the Union Spring & Manufacturing Company, which had its office in room 617 of the Farmers Bank Building at Fifth Avenue and Wood Street, Downtown. He and Constance Darlington lived at 815 Western Avenue before they moved to 838 North Lincoln Avenue. In late 1913 or early 1914, Darlington was among the incorporators of the Standard Steel Spring Company. He became secretary-treasurer of the company, which operated a mill in Coraopolis. The couple married in 1910 and had one child, Henry B, Jr.
Henry B. Darlington died at home at 838 North Lincoln Avenue on November 14,1915, as a result of a bullet wound to the head. A revolver was found near Darlington, whose death was ruled a suicide. He was 32 years old.
Constance Alden Darlington and her son Henry Jr. left Pittsburgh in 1915 or early 1916.
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 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 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
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
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
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
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.
Robert Milligan was born in Swissvale on August 28, 1869. Milligan first appeared in the Pittsburgh city directory in the late 1890’s as a physician who lived in Swissvale and practiced in the Smith Block in Downtown Pittsburgh. Directories listed Milligan as living in Swissvale and practicing in the Westinghouse Building during the early 1900’s. The 1909 directory reported that he lived at the Duquesne Club in Downtown Pittsburgh.
The 1910 manuscript census reported that Robert Milligan and his wife Marguerite lived at 934 Western Avenue with Marguerite Milligan’s mother, Hester Singer, and two servants. The Milligans, married one year, had no children. Robert Milligan, 39, was a physician in general practice, and Marguerite Milligan, 36, had no occupation.
Hester Singer, a 72 year old widow born in Pennsylvania, was of Irish descent. She had had four children, with all still living in 1910, and owned her home at 934 North Lincoln Avenue fully. She had no occupation.
Servants living at 934 Western Avenue were Agnes Benach, 36, a “ladies maid” who was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States in 1907, and Annie Kelley, 32, a chambermaid who was born in Ireland and immigrated in 1895.
Directories listed Robert Milligan at 934 Western Avenue through 1918. He was listed at 709 Irwin Avenue from 1919 to 1940, the year after Marguerite Singer Milligan died. After selling 709 Irwin Avenue in 1940, Milligan lived at the Hotel Schenley in Oakland through 1943, the last year he appeared in the directory.
The 1920 manuscript census will be available to the public in 1992 and should provide information on residents of 709 Irwin Avenue in 1920. Census information is withheld for 72 years after it is gathered for purposes of privacy.
Harry Darlington Jr. was born May 8, 1888, when his family lived at 50 Irwin Avenue (now 721 Brighton Road). His parents were Harry Darlington and Mary E. McCullough Darlington. Harry Darlington Jr. was born about two years before his parents demolished an earlier mansion on the site of 721 Brighton Road and built what is now known as the Darlington house.
Harry Darlington was an industrialist whose business pursuits included founding the Westmoreland & Cambria Natural Gas Company, operation of a brewery, and many corporate directorships. At the time of Harry Darlington Jr.’s birth, Harry Darlington operated a brewery at 110-112 First Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh. Mary E. McCullough Darlington was the daughter of Jacob Nessly McCullough, a vice president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and Rebecca T. Andrews McCullough.
According to the 1900 manuscript census, Harry Darlington Jr., then 12, lived at 50 Irwin Avenue with his parents, sister, and five servants. The census reported that Harry Darlington, 62, had been born in Pennsylvania to parents who had been born in England. Darlington owned his home fully. The census gave his occupation as “capitalist.”
Margaret E. McCullough Darlington, 44, had been born in Ohio to parents also born in Ohio. In 1900 the Darlingtons had been married 23 years and had had five children, with two children still living. In addition to Harry Darlington Jr., the Darlingtons had a daughter, Rebecca M., 20, who had no occupation.
The Darlingtons’ servants were Margaret Griffin, 31, who was born in Ireland and immigrated to the United States in 1883; Julia Griffin, 29, who was born in Ireland and immigrated to the United States in 1888; Bridget Carey, 48, born in Ireland and immigrated in 1873; Rose McCague, 36, born in Ireland and immigrated in 1883; and Loraine Oger, 21, born in Pennsylvania and of German descent.
The census also reported that all residents of 721 Irwin Avenue were able to read and write.
Harry Darlington Jr. first appeared in the Pittsburgh city directory in 1909, when he lived at 72 Irwin Avenue (now 709 Brighton Road). At the time, Darlington worked with his father in Room 42 of the Fidelity Building, 341 Fourth Avenue. Directories did not indicate the type of business in which the Darlingtons were engaged.
Sources provide conflicting information on whether Harry Darlington Jr. was married at the time of the 1910 census. The 1910 manuscript census reported that the younger Darlington, then 22, lived at 709 Irwin Avenue with a 20 year old woman identified as Lasheda W. Darlington, his wife. The census indicated that Lasheda W. Darlington had been born in Ohio, that the couple had been married one year, and that eight servants also lived at 709 Irwin Avenue.
Biographical materials indicate that Harry Darlington Jr. was first married in 1917, when he married Ethel Shields. Allegheny County marriage license applications contain no record of Darlington applying for a marriage license in or before 1910, and an index of weddings reported in Pittsburgh newspapers also does not mention Harry Darlington Jr. It seems likely that a census taker incorrectly recorded one of the many servants living at 709 Irwin Avenue as Harry Darlington Jr.’s wife.
The 1910 census reported that servants living at 709 Irwin Avenue were Bridget O’Neill, 30, who had been born in Ireland and immigrated in 1900; Howard Challingsworth, 30, born in England and immigrated in 1902; Louise Tiefenbuner, 34, born in Austrian Germany and immigrated in 1905; Elizabeth Yems, 32, born in Canada and immigrated in 1892; Josephine O’Hara, 24, born in Ireland and immigrated in 1903; Agnes P. Rintone, 35, born in Scotland and immigrated in 1892; Franklin C. Hubener, 38, born in New Jersey and of German descent; and Julia M. Dartoux, 39, born in France and immigrated in 1909.
The 1910 census also reported that Harry Darlington Jr. owned 709 Irwin Avenue fully, and gave Darlington’s occupation as “own income.” In 1910, the census also reported Darlington’s father’s occupation as “own income.”
Directories listed Harry Darlington Jr. as living at 72 or 709 Irwin Avenue and working in the Fidelity Building through 1918. Darlington was listed at 721 Irwin Avenue beginning in 1919; his father had died in 1914, and his mother in 1918. Continuing to work in the Fidelity Building, Darlington lived at 721 Irwin Avenue through 1925.
Harry Darlington Jr. was listed as living in Sewickley Heights and working in the Union Bank Building between 1926 and 1931. Darlington died on June 25, 1931.
Philip and Martha Bianco, the third owners of 719 Brighton Road, operated a funeral home at 719 Brighton Road between 1955 and 1979.
Philip Bianco was born in 1906. He was the son of Angelo and Mary Bianco, who lived at 3414 Monroe Street in a small Italian settlement in the area now known as Polish Hill. Angelo Bianco was born in Italy and immigrated to the United States in 1881. In Pittsburgh, Angelo Bianco worked as a street lamp lighter, and later as a street lamp inspector.
The 1910 manuscript census indicates the Bianco family lived at 3414 Monroe Street and shared their home with two other families. In 1910 Angelo Bianco, 45, worked as a lamp inspector and owned his home. Mary Bianco, 38, had no occupation.
In 1910, the Biancos had had six children, with five of their children living at the time of the census. The census indicated that their children were Antonio, 17, an office clerk in a steel mill, Elizabeth, 15, Frank, 12, Peter, nine, and Felix (Philip), three.
In March 1992, Philip Bianco’s daughter Phyllis Abinanti indicated that her father was known as Felix as a child.
The Bianco family moved from 3414 Monroe Street to 136 Stratford Avenue in Friendship in the late 1910’s.
Philip Bianco first appeared in the Pittsburgh city directory in 1928, when he worked as an embalmer for the Grime & Blair funeral home, located at 4112 Main Street in Bloomfield. In the early 1930’s, Bianco began working for the William A. Sirlin funeral home at 620 East Ohio Street in East Allegheny; he and Martha lived on the premises. In the late 1930’s, Bianco opened his own funeral home at 239 South Highland Avenue in Shadyside, and the Biancos moved their home to this location.
The Biancos moved their business and home to 825 Western Avenue in 1943 or 1944, and remained at this location until 1955, when they purchased and moved their home and business to 719 Brighton Road. After Philip Bianco’s death in 1960, Martha Bianco operated the funeral home at 719 Brighton Road until her death in June 1979. The Bianco Funeral Home continued operation through the end of 1979.
719 Brighton Road was known as Holmes Hall for Boys between 1923 and 1954. Holmes Hall for Boys was established by the will of James Holmes’ cousin Jane Holmes.
In her will, dated December 31, 1883 and recorded in Will Book Volume 28, Page 570, Jame Holmes left $50,000 for the founding of a Christian home for working Protestant boys to age 21. The home was to be known as the Protestant Home for Boys and was later renamed Holmes Hall for Boys.
After its founding, the Protestant Home for Boys was located at 33 Anderson Street (later 201 Anderson Street), at the corner of Robinson Street in Allegheny. The Home was located on Anderson Street between about 1886 and 1910, when it moved to 330 East North Avenue.
The Protestant Home for Boys was renamed Holmes Hall for Boys in about 1915. Holmes Hall for Boys remained at 330 East North Avenue until about 1918, when it was moved to 204 East Stockton Avenue. Holmes Hall for Boys moved to 203 Anderson Street in about 1920 and remained there until 1923, when it relocated to 719 Irwin Avenue.
Biographical materials indicate that Jane Holmes was a cousin of James Holmes, who had a sister also named Jane Holmes.
The Jane Holmes who founded the Protestant Home for Boys was known as “Pittsburgh Jane” Holmes in order to distinguish her from her cousin, “Baltimore Jane” Holmes. Both women were well-known for their philanthropic activities.
City directories of the 1880’s indicate that “Pittsburgh Jane” Holmes lived at 109 Penn Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh.
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.