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Ask A Historian - page 3

Due the lack of volunteers and excess back log of questions, the Lawrenceville Historical Society is not accepting questions related to family histories. For such information see the sources listed on http://www.lhs15201.org/articles_b.asp?ID=11.

This information was added on August 28, 2011.

Q: Jude Wudarczyk asks, “Can you settle something. My brother says that Joe Barker served as mayor of Pittsburgh for two years. I say the term of mayor at that time was one year. Which of us is correct?”

A: Joe Barker was the by far the most colorful of all Pittsburgh mayors. At that time the mayor served one year terms. Barker was elected in 1849, took office in 1850, and was defeated by John B. Guthrie, who took office in January 1851.

Q: Doug Holaday asks if anyone knows where Long Alley in Lawrenceville was located.

A: It is now called Locarna Way, and runs in between and parallel to 44th and 45th Streets. Today Locarna Way goes from Hatfield Street to Eden Way. The name was probably changed after 1907 when Allegheny City was absorbed by Pittsburgh. At this time there were a number of street name changes to avoid duplication. We have been informed that Allegheny City was allowed to keep their street names as part of the deal. They already had a Long Alley. It connected Madison Avenue with Chestnut Street.

The Lawrenceville Long Alley ran down to Valley Street. The last block of this alley, along with Valley Street, were wiped out when Heppenstall's expanded their mill during WWII or possibly the Korean War. By this time the alley was already known as Locarna Way.

Q: Where is Freddy’s Bar in Lawrenceville? I heard the patrons jumped an armed man and stopped him from robbing the bar. Is this true? What did Freddy have to say about it?

A: Freddy’s Bar was located on the corner of 45th and Davison Streets, and it was the location of a robbery a few years ago. The patrons jumped the two robbers and held them until police arrived. Freddy died, due to complications from diabetes, way before the robbery. His widow sold the place, and the new owner kept the name.

When asked why they stopped two men with guns, the patrons said that the robbers were interrupting the Penguins’ game.

The bar was sold again, and is now called Kelly’s Corner. It’s a great place to grab a beer and get a little, friendly conversation.

This bar is mentioned in Brian O’Neill’s book, Pittsburgh, Paris of Appalachia.

Q: I found an old school picture from when my Dad was 6 years old. There was a little boy holding a sign which looks like it says McClure or McClary School, Room No. 1, 1906. I am trying to figure out which little boy in the picture was my Dad. My Dad, James S. McCreedy, was born in 1900 and lived at 5152 Keystone Street in Lawrenceville. Is there anyone who could help me with the exact name of the school and if there were records listing all the children in the picture. Some notes from your Society mentioned Rich Basset is an expert of Lawrenceville schools.

Thank you for your assistance in this request.

Prudence Juran
159 Ivywood Road
Saxonburg, PA 16056

A: Rich responded as follows:

Hi Jude

It had to be McCleary School, which opened in 1900.

There is no way to find out who was in the picture.

These questions show the important need to date and identify pictures on the back as soon as we receive them.

If you have other family photos, you should be able to compare your father’s image on them with the children in the class picture. This might help you to determine which one is your dad.

Q: My aunt is looking for the date of death for her relative Walter H Hayek to obtain a death certificate. I see that he is listed under the Lawrenceville Veterns of World War I on your web page. Do you have any records by chance of what date he died?

Thank you,
karen Hudson

A: We have not found anything on Walter H. Hayek living in Pittsburgh. While checking the Social Security Death Index, we found a Walter Hayek died in Racine, Wisconsin in January, 1973. He was born August 10, 1894.

If this is your man, we suggest that you contact the Racine Library or local genealogical society. They might be able to locate something in the local newspapers to give you an exact date of death.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Karen at khudson@fidelitybank-pa.com.

Q: Is the address of the “White Cottage” 3600 Penn Avenue? I actually spoke with the landlady, but I forgot to ask. She's very nice and has owned the building for 12 years. She said that she believes the previous owner was part of the Pittsburgh Philharmonic and had been interested in building up Foster's name in the area.


April Warren
The Yomiuri Shimbun
(631) 889-1554

A: The building that currently occupies the site of the White Cottage, the birth sight of Stephen Foster, is 3600 Penn Avenue. The previous owner was Robert Austin Boudreau, the Music Director of the American Wind Symphony. It used to be called the Pittsburgh Wind Symphony. Before Boudreau restored the building and grounds, they were a wreck. The White Cottage is long gone from the site, having been damaged in a fire and consequently razed.

Q: Was the Foster statue was built in 1900 and moved to its new location in 1944? Why did it move? The pen and banjo were stolen after it was placed in its new spot, correct? Thanks,

April Warren
The Yomiuri Shimbun
(631) 889-1554

A: The statue of Stephen Foster, which is titled “Uncle Ned” and is found in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, was indeed built in 1900. “Old Ned” is the title of one of Foster’s songs.

Originally, this monument was placed in Highland Park near the Pittsburgh Zoo, but it was moved to its current location in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh and was unveiled on June 29, 1944. It was moved there, because Oakland was the new Civic Center in Pittsburgh. That neighborhood had museums, a sporting arena, a conservatory, a fancy hotel, etc.

The original cost of the statue was $6,000.00. It was paid for by a number of donors, including businesses, a millionaire, and individuals. More than half of the donations came from children giving pennies.

The bronze pen and banjo were stolen while the statue was in the original location. They were replaced as a birthday present to Stephen Foster on July 4, 1938.

The cost of the move from Highland Park to the new location was $2,500.00. The banjo is strategically placed on Ned’s knee to reflect a line from Foster’s composition “Oh, Suzanna”.

Q: I have a quick question regarding the Werneberg name. Digging back into the deeds of my home, 274 Fisk St., I saw that the original builders (after the parcels were broken into lots, but not for building until 10 years passed, 1880-1890), the first owners that sold a house on the parcel were named Werneberg.

There's also the alley of the same name a few blocks East.

Is much known about the family?

Thanks in advance!

-- Jonathan Gaugler
Arsenal Cheese

A: The Werneberg family had several members living in the community over the years. We have found none of the family living in the vicinity of Werneberg Way. This alley isn't mentioned in the City Directories until 1889, which seems to correspond roughly to the same time frame (the 1880's) with the appearance of Berlin Way and Dresden Way in Lawrenceville. Given this information we suspect that the alley was named after Wernberg, Germany, and someone just misspelled the name of the city.

This information was added on April 17, 2011.

Q: Mary Closson and I are working with Robert Venter, who put together the Venter Internet pages, to try to find out where my great grandmother and her great grandfather came from in Germany and if they are siblings, as from family lore they probably are, but we need proof. We are also looking for info on several other relatives, Jacob Venter, another brother, a Peter Venter, a relative of Jacob's age, and Catherine's husband, Jacob Wendel(in) Becker, who had a blacksmith shop in Lawrenceville in the 1870s. The Venters came in the fall of 1871 with a Fred. (Frederick) Venter age 24, who was already a resident of Pittsburgh, PA. Please see the original email below for the exact information.

We also seek information on how we can obtain copies of church records that were located in Lawrenceville. Specifically, we are looking for German Lutheran and German Catholic church records.

We would appreciate any help that you can give us.

Thank you.

Ginny Lange

A: There is some information on Frederick Venter and his sister Anna Marie Venter Storch, which can be found on pages 100-101 in the following source:

History of Pittsburgh and Environs: From Prehistoric Days to the Beginning of the American Revolution, vol. 4 by George T. Fleming, c.1922

According to the city directories of the 1870's and 1880's there are various Venters, but none living in Lawrenceville. Valentine Storch and Frederick Venter did go into business together somewhere around 1883-84. There is a Catherine Venter listed as a widow of Christian Venter around this time. However, none of them lived in Lawrenceville.

A Jacob Becker, who may or may not have been the father of the Jacob Becker you mention, served as an officer of the German Evangelical Protestant Church at various times in the 1820's through the 1840's. See page 53 of Historical and Descriptive Statement Published on the Occasion of the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Founding of the German Evangelical Protestant Smithfield Church (Congregational), Pittsburgh, PA, Oct. 16, 1932,

Sorry that we cannot find a Lawrenceville connection, perhaps one of the churches will be able to help.

The only Roman Catholic German parish was St. Augustine Church, which was on the corner of 37th and Butler Streets in the 1870's. Today it is called Our Lady of the Angels and is on the corner of 37th and Bandera Streets. To obtain information on the parishioners contact:

Cardinal Dearden Center
4721 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Tel: (412) 456-3158
Fax: (412) 621-6237
Email: archives@diopitt.org

Address your correspondence to - Burris Esplen.

The Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church is (and was) located across the street from St. Augustine. Write to:

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
37th and Bandera Streets
Pittsburgh, PA 15201

Address your correspondence to - Rebeckah Johnston. This church belongs to the Missouri Synod.

St. John Lutheran Church, which was located on 40th Street, closed a few years back. The records were transferred to St. Andrew's Church, but the pastor refuses to answer family history questons.

The German Evangelical Protestant Church, which was also located on 40th Street, closed in the 1960's. We do not know what became of the church records.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Ginny at ginnylange@hotmail.com, and/or Mary Closson at clossonpress@comcast.net.

Q: Hi I am trying to get information on my great grandmother and my grandmother they lived at 364 - 45th street in 1924, the names were Concetta D'Amico and her daughter Edith, I knew they lived there because I got a copy of Edith's 1924 marriage license, I am trying to find where Concetta Damico is buried.

Thank you,
Edie Kennedy

A: Using Norm Meinert's excellent website http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~njm1/tombs.htm, we found a Concetta D'Amico buried in Churchill Cemetery, which is located on Churchill and Harrison Roads. She was born in 1878 and died in 1963.

Q: My name is Noreen Castelli Sweeney—I am a writer—trying to research my family for a historical novel I am planning to write. The family name was Kearny. My great grandmother was Anna Kearny—who married Phillip Weber in 1899. I do not know her mother’s name (first or maiden) or her father’s name. I do know that her brother (first name unknown) was either the chief of police or fire departments—in Lawrenceville.

A: Unfortunately, we haven't found anything on a Kearny Family living in Lawrenceville or associated with the police or fire departments in Lawrenceville.

Philip Weber owned a furniture store at 4504 Penn Avenue in Lawrenceville around the turn of the last century (c. 1904).

If anyone can help Noreen, she can be reached at noreensweeney@optonline.net.

Q: Art Wallace writes - I am interested in knowing if the Protestant Home for Incurables had a recorded death index on patients who passed away at the home during the 1930's-1940's. In the research I am doing, I have found a relative lived at this home during the 1930 era, and more than likely died there. I have checked into her possible death date and burial, but have hit a brick wall. Are there any possible known records of the Protestant Home that may indicate patient deaths prior to the 1950 era? Any help or assistance you may be able to provide will be most welcome. Thank you.

A: The Protestant Home for Incurables, also called the Holmes House, was absorbed by Forbes Health System in 1982. After a quick internet search we found a phone number, but when we called to find out how you can obtain information, we were told to call (412) 858-2000.

They should have a list of patients.

Anyone with additional information can contact Art at ASMITHW@verizon.net.

Q: Art wrote back - Thank you so much for the quick response. The name of my relative was Phoebe Ammann. Phoebe was short for Philamina or Philippine. German first names were usually shortened to something more common, at least American wise!

She was at the home in the 1930 census, but since the 1940 census doesn't come out until next year, I don't know if she lived into the 1940's. Her family is interned at the old West Liberty Cemetery, in Beechview, the area the Ammann families lived. Her name does not appear in the burial list I found on line. Her parents and three brothers with their wives are buried there.

I truly appreciate the information you emailed. I thought there must be some type of record in the home’s logs that would indicate a death date for her, and possible burial place. She is not at Allegheny Cemetery. I've already looked into their records that are online.

Any assistance the society may be able to provide, would be most welcomed and appreciated. "This is probably like looking for a needle in a haystack!!!" Thanks so much again for the speedy reply.

A: We thought that we found Phoebe’s grave at West Libery Cemetery (see http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~njm1/West-Liberty.htm). There is an entry for AMMANN, PHOEBE, Lot 094.0/231. No death date is given. However, Art tells us that this is the mother of the Phoebe he is researching.

Q: Cheryl Whiltrek writes - I am looking for information on whether St. Kiernan's (may be spelling it wrong) had a cemetery and who I can contact for information.

I believe my grandmother's (maternal) family belonged there, and my mother had an infant brother who died in 1913 and may been buried there.

He died at a hospital in Pittsburgh and it is my understanding that he may have been buried there because his mother still had family out that way.

Could you point me in the right direction?

A: We believe that most of the deceased from St. Kieran's Church were taken to St. Mary's Cemetery on 46th Street.

Q: Amanda Cahill asks - I was wondering if there was an easy way to look up crime or death or even just news history in Lawrenceville. I live at 3504 Charlotte St (15201) and I'm not sure how old the place is, as I am renting, but some strange happenings have been taking place. I thought I might pretend to be a ghost hunter.

A: You might have reason to wonder if something unnatural happened in your home at 3504 Charlotte Street. It did. Bert Pezich was living there in 1951. He was suffering from depression when he fell, jumped, or was pushed from the 40th Street Bridge.

There was a man living in your house in 1890 with the name John Schmidt. A John Schmidt went insane and killed his business partner about 30 years later. We don't know if this is the same John Schmidt or not, as this is a common name.

Charlotte Street has quite a history of unnatural deaths. In March 1898, a little boy named, Eddie Leedy, who was living at 3405 fell out a bedroom window and was killed.

In January 1906, Richard Wilkenson, who lived at 3609, jumped out of his bedroom window killing himself. He was 71.

In July 1903, Elmer Zacharias went on picnic at New Castle and drowned during a boating accident. He was 18. Although he lived on Charlotte Street, we have not found which house was his.

Just be thankful that you don't live at 3710 Charlotte Street. John J. Maloney lived there. In July 1903, he was struck by train near Aspinwall.

Little Bobby Johnston also lived here. In March 1946, he was killed by a hit-and-run driver as he played on the street.

William Johnston (possibly a relative of Bobby) was severely beaten in March 1940. He was found on 37th Street, and helped home by someone living on that street. He died at the hospital. He wife suspected the communists did it, as he was a staunch anti-communist. He also lived at 3710.

When posed with questions such as yours, we use the Historic Pittsburgh web site and Google News Archive as starting points. Once you learn who lived in your house you can go to the Pennsylvania Department at Carnegie Library in Oakland and the Heinz History Center to seek further information that might not be found on-line.

Q: Tom Powers writes – There is a photo of one of the Arsenal survey photos that Charles M. Stotz (1898-1985) took on March 12, 1934. My question is: is the man in the hat holding the building identity marker Stotz himself? He would have been 35 when this photo was taken and though the man in the photo is heavily garbed, he looks about that age. Plus, he's dressed rather stylishly as an architect might be. I can't find any photos of Stotz on line, but see if you can come up with a positive I.D.

A: We’re not positive, but it looks like Stotz. There is a picture of him in the Pittsburgh Press when he died. The two men look very much alike. If it is not him, it may be his brother or father. The date that the picture appeared in the paper is March 6, 1985. (See page B10.)

Q: Cheryl writes - Louise Vetter was my grandmother. Her family, Theresa Gerstbrein & Joseph Vetter lived in Lawrenceville. Her parents had a meat market on Butler Street. This comes from Mom's notes.

Her mother was married first to Anton Dischinger. I believe she is buried in Millvale. But Louise & Ed Ging were married April 10, 1907 at St. Kiernan's Church in Lawrenceville. (Mom's notes).Howard was born first, died at 8 months old, 5/23/1913. That is all I know..

I've tried different avenues to find out more, or even see a obit., but not having any luck. Noone is around to ask anymore, at least noone that I am in contact with. I just thought-maybe some female cousins may know something-girls usually know more than boys.

A: Unfortunately, we have no information on Louise Vetter Gring. We did find the family’s butcher shop listed at 5402 Butler Street during the 1890’s.

Anyone with information can contact Cheryl at tim819j@aol.com .

This information was added on March 31, 2011.

Q: Susan Wingard writes, “You have been so helpful and hope you can tell me where to go from here. I have searched for an obituary index for Pittsburgh but haven't been able to find anything. Could you tell me who I should contact if I want to get an obituary. Again, I am searching out the O'Connell family. My 2nd gr. grandmother was Bridget (Corbett) O'Connell. She died Nov 11, 1916. I think she was living in "Ward 6" at the time.”

A: Go to http://news.google.com/archivesearch/advanced_search. Enter the word "death" in the search box mark "exact phrase". Where it says "date" enter 11/11/1916 to 11/13/1916. Where it says "source" enter Pittsburgh Press. Then click "find results". For some unknown reason 11/11/1916 and 11/12/1916 are scanned together under 11/11. Therefore, you will not see any entries for 11/12. Select any of these hits that are dated 11/11. Go to page 26, and you'll find her at the bottom of column 5. Page 26 is actually page 8 of 11/12/1916 as can be seen in the upper portion of the page.

Google News Archive does not allow you to print directly or to copy and paste into a Word document. However, if you have Windows 7, you can use the snip tool and copy and paste from that.

Q: I am researching my family history, and saw that my relative, Edward Sandys was shown as the superintendent of the “Hope Mission Rescue Home.” I read your article about the school for the blind that was temporarily housed at that location, but wondered if you have any information on the rescue home or Edward Sandys.

Thanks so much!

Julie Callis
Children's Ministry Assistant
Fellowship Church
8000 Middlebrook Pike
Knoxville, TN 37909
865.470.2820 x109

A: We perused the old city directories and found Rev. Edward M. Sandys in several locations in Pittsburgh, but could only find him living in Lawrenceville in 1902. He was living at 333 – 42nd Street. However, I did not notice him after 1908, which seems to be about the time the Good Hope Mission moved to 42nd Street. According to the 1896-1897 city directory, he was superintendent of Hope Mission, which was located at 111 Market Street. The Market Street address would have been in Downtown Pittsburgh, not the Lawrenceville section of the city. At this point the institution is listed as Free Methodist.

He did not stay long in Lawrenceville. As I matter of fact we only found him living here for one year (1902).

To find out more information on Rev. Sandys, go to the Historic Pittsburgh website at (http://digital.library.pitt.edu/p/pitttextall/). Enter the name Sandys. You’ll get a number of hits. When you have extracted all the information that you desire, go back to the starting point and put in the words “Hope Mission”. Do not use the words “Rescue Home” as we got no hits when they were included.

Next go to http://news.google.com/archivesearch/advanced_search. In the part where it says “Exact Phrase” enter “Hope Mission”. Under the word “Source”, type in “Pittsburgh Press”. You should get several more hits. Extract the information you desire and go back to Source. Now type “Pittsburgh Gazette”.

This site has a bad search engine, so you might have to go back and try again. Just keep trying, every week or two. Sometimes you get results, and sometimes you don’t. If you go back at some later date you might get more results.

Anyone with additional information is asked to get in touch with Julie. Her contact information is provided above.

Q: I visisted Allegheny Cemetery with my sister last month as the snow was falling. It was beautiful. However, we are all in need of some much needed sunshine and green grass !!

Once again, thanks for all your help with my previous questions.

I was wondering if you knew where I could purchase street maps of Lawrenceville. I would love to have street maps of the 1800's, but even a more recent map would be of great help to me. As I trace my family's life in Lawrenceville, I would like to have a map that I could write notes on concerning the properties they owned or trace routes they may have taken to church or school or into Pittsburgh or up to Freeport where some of the Kinsey/Davidson family moved to in the late 1800's. I have maps of Pittsburgh, but I was looking for more details of Lawrenceville and that particular area. I have located the propoerties they owned on Google Earth, which is fascinating, but I would like a map that zooms in to more detail. Any thoughts on that or on maps that would be of interest to me as I do my research.

Also, could you recomend a book concerning how Lawrenceville grew and progressed during the 1800's and into the early 1900's. I have read all three of the LHS books which have been really helpful in guiding me to more research on the issues that pertain to my family, but I would like to incorporate more details about the city in my research.

Thanks once again.

Caroline L. Dobrowolski

A: We know of no company that prints maps of only Lawrenceville, however, Rand-McNally prints maps of various American cities, including Pittsburgh.

The Historic Pittsburgh website has maps of old Lawrenceville. See http://digital.library.pitt.edu/maps/hopkins.html. Plug in a street name and you can see the maps of yesteryear. Sometimes they list the old street names as well as the current ones. At other times its just one or the other.

We know of no old books that describe Lawrenceville as a community, however, there are numerous books that deal with one or more aspects of life in Lawrenceville throughout the past two centuries. For this you should select a specific topic and research it rather than trying to research the entire neighborhood at one time. For example, if you want to learn about Andrew Carnegie’s steel mills here, read The Inside History of Carnegie Steel by James Howard Bridge. If you want to learn about St. Francis Hospital, read Healing Body, Mind, and Spirit by Carolyn Carson.

Q: Krazy Kaczynski asks, “Are there any mysteries set in Lawrenceville?

A: A Picture of Her Tombstone by Thomas Lipinski is an excellent mystery which takes place in Lawrnceville.

Q: I do have another question. While I was trying to compose and organize my research materials, I noticed that John O'Connell's death certificate from 1929 shows the informant to be what looks like ? an Ed? Conell or O'Connell. I can't read it because the copy if very poor. However, this person's address is very plain - 4061 Howley Street, Pittsburgh, PA.

Is there a way I can find his name from the street address? I have a feeling this may be a grandson - maybe he was John O'Connell's son. Thanks for your help. If you can make any suggestions, I would appreciate it.

Sue Wingard

A:> We used the city directories, which are found on the Historic Pittsburgh website. Edward O'Connell is found in many of them from the 1900's up to the 1920's living at that address.

Q: Hi – I found your email address on the web. I am researching my maternal great grandfather, Alois Emmerich. He emigrated to Pittsburgh in 1866 at age 13 or 14 and died in 1900. He was a merchant tailor. He owned property on Finley St. and at Butler and Penn. Family lore says that Alois was instrumental in the development of Lawrenceville. I have heard stories that business leaders, church leaders and civic leaders met at his house to discuss the development of the city. Is there a way for me to research this? I am also interested in what happened to his business and property when he died. Apparently he had 3 daughters and 2 sons. Legend has it that the sons squandered his wealth.

Thank you very much, Cathy Kelley

A: As of yet, we haven't found any information to indicate that Alois Emmerich was a prominent player in Lawrenceville's development, but who knows. We keep learning more and more as the years roll along. Something might come to surface yet.

At any rate, as you indicated he was a merchant tailor. He is listed in the city directories of his time. In 1879 and 1880 he is simply listed as being at Penn Avenue and Butler Street. However, in 1881he is shown as being at 3408 Butler Street, and in 1883 at 3416 Butler Street, and from 1885 through 1893 at 3417 Butler Street. All three of these addresses are near the intersection of Penn and Butler.

In the mean time keep searching the Historic Pittsburgh website every year or so. They are constantly adding more and more information to their site.

Anyone with information can contact Cathy at ptkelley@sbcglobal.net.

Q: I would like to find out about my great grandfather Phillip Spohn. He was from Alsace-Lorrain and a member of St. Augustine's Church. Can materials be searched on a Saturday, or how could I start. He was married to Margaret Metz Spohn (Katchhaler). The lived on 38th St. Any info would be very appreciasted.

A: Using the old city directories as clues for infomation about Philip Spohn we were able to learn that he lived at 1014 Penn Avenue in 1883. Sometimes he listed his trade as a teamster and sometimes as a laborer. He lived in a couple other places before settling on 38th Street. First, in 1886, he lived at 26th Street and Mulberry Way. In 1888 he resided at 2632 Smallman Street.

In 1906 he shows up living at 269 - 38th Steet. At this point he is listed as a grocer. He gave the same address for his store. Over the next few years he is listed as a teamster, grocer, or laborer, which leads us to belive that his wife minded the store while he worked as a teamster. The last year for which we found anything is 1911. At this same point he is listed as living at 251 - 38th Street.

Philip H. Spohn shows up off and on in the city directories starting with the year 1907. He is listed as a laborer.

An article in the June 4, 1960, issue of the Pittsburgh Press tells us of Philip E. Spohn celebrating his fiftieth wedding anniversary on the previous Memorial Day. The article relates that Mr. Spohn was a retired Pennsylvania Railroad engineer. The article mentions his son Edward and a daughter Irma. It also mentions a granddaughter, named Patricia, who was a postulate nun within the Mercy Order.

Anyone with more information can contact Chuck at CSpohn8850@aol.com, or write to him at:

Chuck Spohn
23 Wren Court
Wheeling, WV 26003

Q: I am writing to ask for your help, you see my sister and I have been trying for what seems like forever to find out information about our family.

We know so little, but we do know that his older brother (he was an altar boy for him) was a priest and his older sister was a nun. We believe we have located the sisters grave site and have contacted the Sisters of Mercy to find out more about her. We now have reason to believe that a catholic priest buried in your cemetery may have been our uncle, but we need more information to confirm this.

The person we are seeking your help in obtaining information about is Father John F. Corcoran who is buried in the priest section. We would appreciate so much your sharing any information you have regarding him. We are looking for things like the names of other family members, for instance mom, dad, and siblings and also what "order" he belonged to. Any help you can give us would be greatly appreciate.

I will be anxiously awaiting your response and thank you in advance!!

Linda (Corcoran) Meyer

A:According to http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~njm1/stmygp.htm, a wonderful webpage put out by Norman J. Meinert on the priests buried in Section G of St. Mary's Cemetery, we find the following information.

21 May 1892
25 May 1916
30 July 1947

A Rev. John F. R. Corcoran is mentioned a few times in the Historic Pittsburgh website. Use the Boolean search, select page, and then plug in "Corcoran" in one box and "John F." in another box. See if this is your man.

Q: I am looking for information on Joseph Daniel Czolba. He was married to Julia and I know they resided in Lawrenceville.

It is our great grandfather. Any help you can give me would be more than I have.

Thank you,
Linda Czolba

A: As you have not provided the approximate years in which Joseph Daniel Czolba lived in Lawrenceville our efforts have been limited to a general search for anyone with that name. Unfortunately, we have found nobody with that name living in Lawrenceville. However, we did find a J. Czolba, who owned a grocery store at 1643 Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh's Strip District. Some people refer to this area as being part of Lawrenceville, but most Pittsurghers consider it a separate neighborhood. This grocer appears in the 1900 city directory.

Anyone with information about Joseph Daniel Czollba is asked to contact Linda at the e-mail address listed above.

This information was added on March 14, 2011.

Q: While walking through St. Mary’s Cemetery in Lawrenceville one day, Michael Murphy noticed wording on one of the tombstones telling us that the man to whom this marker belonged was born in County Queens in Ireland. Having a good knowledge of the lay of Ireland, Michael was aware of the fact that many of the counties changed their names after the English were driven out. He knew that there was no county in Ireland, called Queens today. He assumed that the name was changed when the English were driven out. He asked, “What is the current name of this county?”

A: Tom Barnes of the Reference Department at Carnegie Library, who also knows more than a wee bit about Ireland, was able to tell us that Michael was correct in his assumption that Queens was the English name. Today this county is called County Laois (also known as Laoighis or Leix). It is pronounced like the English word “leash”.

Tom used the Irish Times website as his reference source.

Q: Dr. Nelson Bolton writes, “I am doing research on Michael Tiernan, who was a member of an elite horse troop in Baltimore called the First Baltimore Horse Artillery. They served in 1814 as a messenger/observation unit for Brigadier General Stricker at Bladensburg. After returning to Baltimore, he served the same mission for Major General Smith at North Point and Ft McHenry. This was done in addition to being his personal guard. I am looking for a portrait of Michael Tiernan that may have been painted when he was president of Merchants & Manufacturers Bank of Pittsburgh, or due to his founding of Western Pennsylvania Hospital Society.

I am putting together a war of 1812 bicentennial exhibit at Clifton Mansion in Baltimore. This unsung troop is the focus of the exhibit. Thus far, I have 15 portraits, and would like to add Michael Tiernan. Thank you for any help you might give on locating a portrait.”

A: Michael Tiernan’s image can be found in Palmer’s Pictorial Pittsburgh by Michael Palmer.

If anyone can provide additional information, please contact Dr. Nelson Bolton at damebolton@earthlink.net.

Q: My name is Eboni Simms and I am with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western PA. I am emailing in request of old photos of Lawrenceville to place in our new building (5200 Butler Street). If you can be of assistance, please contact me using the information below.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Eboni Simms
Office Manager
Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania
5432 Butler Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Phone: (412) 782-5710 *103, Fax: (412) 782-5720

A: There are two excellent sources for photos of old Lawrenceville. The first is the Historic Pittsburgh website, and can be found at http://digital.library.pitt.edu/images/pittsburgh/. The other is Retrographer. The url is http://retrographer.org/neighborhoods/Lawrenceville.

Q: Susan Wingard writes, I have no idea if you will be able to answer this, but it can't hurt to ask. A cousin of mine (born in 1930) said she can recall of visiting a relative in Pittsburgh when she was a child. She feels it was my great grandfather's place, but I told her I doubted it was him, because he died in 1909. My great grandfather was Edward O'Connell, born Aug 3, 1834. In 1909 when he died, he lived at 3317 Liberty Ave. This relative says she remembers she was impressed that everyone lived there together - Uncle, granmother, grandfather, etc. and she says, as a child, she was quite impressed with the dumb waiter in this "hotel" where they lived.

Hmmm - I am wondering if, in fact, there was a hotel operated by the O'Connells in Pittsburgh.

I feel as though this is an "Ask Jeeves" request. Hoping you can shed some light on this. Thank you so kindly.

A: The old Brewer's Hotel was, and still is, located at 3315 Liberty Avenue. I do see in the old city directories that Edward O'Connell lived at 3317 starting in 1886 and going to 1909. Looking at the old city maps for that era, it looks like E. O'Connell was still listed as the owner of the house in at 3317 in the year 1910. Probably, his widow didn't report his death, or the map was drawn up before he died.

While we can't find a date as to when the hotel was built, it's not showing up on the 1910 map.

We haven't found any O'Connell's owning a hotel in Lawrenceville after 1930. (We don't search for information outside of of Lawrenceville. For that you'll have to contact the Pennsylvania Department at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.)

If anyone can help, Susan can be reached at gardwin@verizon.net.

Q: Molly writes, unfortunately I am not permitted as much time as I would like to browse your extensive and informative website. It has been bookmarked, however, and I look forward to visiting it again soon. I have only two quick questions for the moment, and I would greatly appreciate a response at your soonest convenience.

1. How did Butler Street get is name?

2. I am currently living at the store building on the corner of 47th and Hatfield (4642 Hatfield St.), and it has been rumored to have been a butcher's shop. There are a few pieces of evidence that support this rumor, but in the end I'm just not sure. I'd be thrilled if someone could offer their insight.


A: From what we read, Butler Street was named in honor of the Revolutionary War veteran, General Richard Butler.

The house that you mention, 4642 Hatfield Street, was indeed a butcher shop for many years. The earliest record we could find citing it as a butcher shop was the 1895 city directory. Frank Fuchs was the owner. By the turn of the century, George Doemling ran the shop, but by 1905 Louis Fuchs, who may or may not have been related to Frank, was the owner. Then came Sam Gerich, and by 1915 Joe Gerich was in partnership with Anton Starcevic. They called the shop the Lawrenceville Provision Company.

Favian Gaslevich owned the shop in 1920, and two years later he was joined by Emerich Gaselevich. This family kept the shop for many years. One of the members of the family said that the family brought cattle, hogs, and poultry through the large gate and butchered them right on the premise. Some of the elderly members of the community told us that Mr. Gaslevich would give the neighborhood boys 25 cents to help unload a cow from the truck. We don’t know when the shop closed, but it was no longer a butcher shop in the mid-1980's when we first learned about this building being a butcher shop.

Q: Molly wrote us again. One follow up question regarding General Richard Butler - are the city of Butler and the county of Butler named after him as well?

A: Yes, both Butler and Butler County are named in honor of General Richard Butler.

Q: Tracy C. writes, my name is Tracy, I live in Maryland, and I have hit a road block on my research regarding my great-great-great grandfather, Charles Shank. He appears in the Pittsburgh Directories living on different streets in the Lawrenceville area, but he never appears in any census documentation.

I have corresponded with the Carnegie Library, and I even spent a day there trying to research him. I have had no luck. There is no documentation on his birth, immigration from Germany, his parents, his marriage, or his death. The only thing I have to go on are the directories, and one 1900 census document that lists his wife as a widow living with their four children on Carson Street. Here is s summary of the directory information:

1881-1882: 28th Street and Smallman Street. Occupation: Laborer
1882-1883: 38th Street and Smallman Street. Occupation: Chipper
1886-1887: 35th Street and Charlotte Street. Occupation: Laborer
1888-1889: 35th Street and Mulberry Street. Occupation: Laborer
1890: 35th Street and Charlotte Street. Occupation: Laborer
1890-1894 Smallman, Charlotte, or Mulburry; Occupation: Laborer
1895 - Shank, Isabella widow of Charles, 8 Carson Ave

Based on the directories, his wife is widowed by 1895. I was wondering if you could provide me information or guidance on the following questions:

Is there any way to find out where he was working, such as company rosters, etc?

Is there any place other than Carnegie Library that may have recorded his death such as churches in the area that were predominantly German or even newspapers?

Based on how often he moved around, I assume he was renting in boarding houses, do you think that is a possibility?

Based on the locations he lived in Lawrenceville, is there anything you glean from that information about a possible occupation. Laborer could be Steel Mill, but it could be many other things, too. Are there any maps or business listings from the late 1890s that provides information on what businesses were operating in Lawrenceville in the late 1800s?

His wife was Isabella Link Shank, born in Ohio in 1848. I do not know Charles Shanks date of birth, only that he was born in Germany. They had four children, Charles, Ella, John, and Myrtle.

Please do not feel you have to answer all my questions if you cannot. I am just hoping for some direction to continue my research. Many thanks.

Tracy C.

A: For sake of convenience I will list the questions and their corresponding answers.

Is there any way to find out where he was working, such as company rosters, etc?

Unfortunately, there are no such records of which we know.

Is there any place other than Carnegie Library that may have recorded his death such as churches in the area that were predominantly German or even newspapers?

There were five German Churches in Lawrenceville at the time. St. Augustine's was a Roman Catholic Church. It is now part of the Our Lady's of the Angles. Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church still stands at 37th and Bandera Streets. Zion English Lutheran Church at 44th and Sherod Streets is long gone. It was called English because the services were conducted in English. St. John's Lutheran Church has been absorbed by St. Andrew's. They do not open their records to the public. There was another German Church at 167 - 40th Street.

I think that Carnegie Library remains your best option.

Based on how often he moved around, I assume he was renting in boarding houses, do you think that is a possibility?

This is a good possibility, but bear in mind that families moved often in those days. Folks were always looking for someplace cheaper to rent. One old time Lawrenceville resident always said, "It's cheaper to move than pay rent, so keep moving."

Based on the locations he lived in Lawrenceville, is there anything you glean from that information about a possible occupation. Laborer could be Steel Mill, but it could be many other things, too.

There were many, many places he could have worked. Besides the numerous mills and foundries, there were railroads, warehouses, stores, etc. There is no way to tell where he worked or what he did.

Are there any maps or business listings from the late 1890s that provides information on what businesses were operating in Lawrenceville in the late 1800s?

The Historic Pittsburgh web site offers many such maps.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Tracy C. at dellaellamay@gmail.com.

Q: Dale Wayne Slusser writes, I’ve seen the quote on a few websites from Andrew Carnegie about Peter Shoenberger - “Peter was to the iron industry what I later would become to the steel”. But I have not been able to find the source of that to cite it for a reference notation. Can you tell me from where that quote comes. Also do you know of a publishable picture of John H. Shoenberger?


Dale Wayne Slusser
Asheville NC

A: In her book, The Story of St. Margaret , Mary Brignano has the quote on page 17:

As Andrew Carnegie put it, "He was to the iron industry what I later became to the steel." The "He" in the quote is a reference to Dr. Peter Shoenberger. Unfortunately, Ms. Brignano did not site her source. Her book was published in 1998 by UPMC, and tells the story of St. Margaret Hospital. The Lawrenceville Historical Society doesn't have a picture of John (or) Peter Shoenberger in its collection, but they do appear in the book mentioned above. There is a family tree on page 17 with tiny photos of both John and Peter. Other photos of John appear on pages 24 and 107.

There is a picture of the Shoenberger house on the Historic Pittsburgh website.

Anyone that can help Dale, please contact him at dws@helps1228.org.

Q: I’m looking for information on the number of Confederate soldiers buried in Allegheny Cemetery.


Craig Smith
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
412-380-5646 office
724-787-6662 cell

A: As far as we know, there are eight Confederates buried in Allegheny Cemetery. For a list of their names and further information see” Confederates in Pittsburgh” by James Wudarczyk - http://www.lhs15201.org/articles_b.asp?ID=8.

This information was added on February 11, 2011.

Q: Bob Sands writes - My maternal Great Grandfather was Jebez Griffin, who lived at 5316 Camelia Street. My Grandmother Florence C Griffin and my Grandfather Clifford Sands living only a block apart, probably went to the same grade school. Do you know which school that might have been?

In the 1900 census, my grandfather is listed as in school 9 months. He should have started school in 1898, and I think he dropped out of grade school.

In the 1900 census, my grandmother is listed as in school 10 months. She should have started school in 1897. I don't know if she graduated.

They were both Protestants.

A: From what elderly Lawrenceville residents, who lived at that time told us, in those days most children went to school up to the age of 14. After that they either entered the work force or went to correspondence school to learn a trade. Also they tended to start school at a later age (about eight) and exited school after completing the sixth grade. Richard Basset, LHS’s expert on Lawrenceville schools provided the following answer.

They would have gone to the 'old' Sunnyside. This building was located at 5705 McCandless Avenue near where upper McCandless ends at Stanton Avenue. Today this site is occupied by a new large estate with a modern mansion. The building was built in 1870 and originally named Albion. With the rapid housing development in Stanton Heights in the early 1950's, a new (and the present) school was built further out on Stanton Avenue. It opened in 1954.

The 'old' Sunnyside sat empty until St. Kieran's Parrish bought the building and it became known as St. Kieran's Annex. This lasted until the early 70's.

Q: I'm trying to find from where in Ireland William J Sands comes. – Bob Sands

A: Anyone that can help is asked to contact Bob at msands6877@aol.com.

Q: My name is Jack Trower and my Grandparents and Great Grandparents were native to Lawrenceville all of their lives. My question is What type documentation was made on stillborn births that occurred in the household and not in a hospital setting? Was there anything reported? My next question is did St. Mary's cemetery record the stillborn burials in their archives? I was told that stillborn s were buried one atop the other and no one knows what documentation existed. The time frame in question is between 1908 to 1920. Any info at all would be greatly appreciated.

I have recently found your web site, and I find it to be the most informative that I have received since my Grandmother's passing.

A: Thank you for the kind words about our website. They are very much appreciated.

Dan D’Alessandro, Lawrenceville Historical Society’s expert funerals and burials, informs us that still born deaths are a very individual thing. It is up to the parents as to whether or not to name a child that is stillborn. Again it is up the parents as to whether or not the child gets a tombstone.

We have never heard any stories relating to mass burials of stillborns in St. Mary’s or any other cemeteries.

Anyone with any additional information is asked to contact Jack at jacktrower@yahoo.com.

Q: What can you tell me about 3705 Butler Street?

A: As a general rule we don’t provide extensive property histories. However, someone volunteered to do this one, and provided the following information.

The following is a listing of the businesses that existed at 3705 Butler Street according to available city directories. The dates may be off slightly as the information gathered for the directories was usually gathered a month or more before the directory was printed. The earliest listing is believed to have been dated about 1880s.

About 1880 – this site is occupied by Eagle Pharmacy, Kennedy F. Lange is the proprietor. He also served on the Central Board of Education, representing Lawrence School.

1881 – 1885 George Engel ran his barbershop

In 1882, it is not clear as to whether Anthony Engel, ran a saloon in the front of the building here, or if he worked as a saloonkeeper and lived there. The barbershop may have been in the back.

In 1883, C. Engel also appears as a barber.

From 1884 - 1885, Meanor and Harper ran a Livery and Sales Stables. George Harvey appears as a veterinary surgeon. Samuel Jones is a driver.

By 1886 Martin Ohling is running the barbershop in the front of the store, while a shoe store (that also repaired shoes) was operating in the back. George Metz was apparently the proprietor of the shoe store. It is not clear if George Matz, George Netz, and/or George Uetz are the same men or different men. However, they are all working and/or living at 3705 from 1886 to 1892. We do know that Uetz lived at 354 Main Street.

From 1893-1894 W. J. Haber and Company, a dry goods store, occupied the site. W. J. Haber was the proprietor.

In 1896 through 1912 Kennedy F. Lange is back with his pharmacy.

From 1913 to 1915 George Erskine ran Erskine’s Pharmacy.

From 1918 to 1940 Armand Klein ran a church goods store.

1943 to 1961 A and B Restaurant occupies the site. Lawrenceville is in a state of decline and the restaurant is sold.

Around 1965 it became Joe and Stan’s Café.

Around 1968 it became Joe and Mary’s Glass Bar and Grill.

On November 30, 1976 William and Jean Krajcovic purchase the property for $20,000, and soon thereafter open Bill’s Tavern.

Lawrenceville experiences a mini boom, and by 2005 the property values are soaring. On June 4, 2010 Kevin and Michelle Trumble buy the tavern for $260,000. Later that same year they opened Eclipse Lounge.

George Engel mentioned above is not the same George Engel that managed the Pittsburgh boxers Harry Greb and Frank Klaus.

Q: Soupy asks, “When did Arsenal School open?”

A: Rich Basset, our resident expert on Lawrenceville Schools, tell us. Arsenal Elementary (the wing on 39th St) opened in September of 1939. At that time, Lawrence, Foster and Bayard all closed.

Q: There was a guy named Natoli, who ran the tenth ward democrats a few years back. For the life of me I can’t remember his first name. Can you help?

A: It was Joe.

Q: Please accept my thanks for all the research and effort that you put into the LHS newsletter and other articles!! While I've been away from the 'Burgh for many years, your articles seem to narrow the space and time between me and my Lawrenceville roots.

Happy New Year and best wishes to all.

Dan Connors
Roswell GA.

A: Thanks for the kind words. We usually expect a question to go with them, but we’ll gladly take any praise we get.

Q: Caroline L. Dobrowolski asks - Are there any records of marriages and baptisms from the 1800's that remain for the 39th Street Presbyterian Church?

A: The records for the 39th Street Presbyterian Church are most likely housed at:

The Pittsburgh Presbytery
901 Allegheny Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15233
(412) 323-1400
fax – (412) 323-2256

This information was added on January 17, 2011.

Q: Ron Szudy of Parma, Ohio, writes - A brief note to tell you how very much I enjoyed the "Doo Dah Days" DVD which arrived yesterday. Its gentle music, graceful images and information brings the viewer close to the life and work of Stephen Foster.

I have read a great deal on Foster and am interested in his brother Morrison (Mit), who resided in Cleveland during the Civil War years. Though Mit was here for business reasons, he was active in Democratic party politics in those turbulent years. He was here when Lincoln arrived, stayed overnight, and spoke briefly in February, 1861. He would also have been here when Lincoln's funeral cortege stopped here in 1865. I have been curious if Mit had any contact with John A. Ellsler, the theatrical leader of Cleveland who was a friend and briefly a business partner of John Wilkes Booth. It is possible that Mit may have known him. The Foster Hall Museum says they have no letters to or from Ellsler in their catalogue of Mit's papers. But it is an interesting possible connection.

Congratulations on the fine DVD.

A: Unfortunately we know of no connection between Stephen Foster’s brother Morrison and John A. Ellsleer or John Wilkes Booth.

Anyone with information on these possible connections is encouraged to contact Ron at RSzudy@aol.com.

Q: Laurence Glasco, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, is looking for anyone with information on any Gypsies (a.k.a. Romany) families or individuals that lived near the Doughboy Statue in Lawrenceville during the 1920’s. He is also seeking information on the Banks family from that area, the family of Eugene Bailey, who is said to have taught Romare Bearden how to draw, or anyone who knew Romare Beardon.

Professor Glasco can be reached at larryglasco@yahoo.com. .

Q: I am searching for genealogical information on my ancestors. I was told that around the 1880's my great grandparents had a grocery store in Lawrenceville, around 45th and Butler. There last name was Lennon and we are assuming that the store may have been named after them.

Could you let me know if it is possible for me to obtain this information from your society or should I search elsewhere?


Jeanne Clark
4400 Gateway Drive
Monroeville, PA 15146

A: Unfortunately, we are not able to help. If anyone has information for Jeanne, please contact her.

Q: Please settle an argument between my brother and me. There was a store at the corner of 45th and Davison Streets, during the mid 1960’s when we were growing up in Lawrenceville. I say it was Joe’s Store. My brother says it was Jack’s Store. Which of us is right?

A: Technically, it was Broz’s Market. Joe Broz worked there, but his parent’s owned the business. They rented the building. Most of the kids in the neighborhood called it Joe’s Store.

Moriarty’s Market was located one block away on 46th and Davison Streets. Mrs. Moriarty’s son, Jack, worked in that store, and the kids called it Jack’s Store.

Q: Sally May writes, “I bought a shot glass at an auction with the above inscription – address 4745 Butler street – do you know anything abut this company?”

A: The Zinssers were prominent business people in the Lawrenceville community for generations. Some were bakers, some were florists. Herman started out in the family bakery. In the 1911 city directory, we find that he started dealing in wholesale liquors and continued to do so for the next several years. As it became apparent that the coming Prohibition would put a stop to the sale of alcohol, most liquor dealers switched to dealing in soft drinks. By May 15, 1921, all transactions in wholesale liquor became illegal. Herman Zinsser was no exception to the rule. By 1920 or 1921, he too was dealing in soft drinks. By 1924 He disappears from the city directories.

Q: I am writing a book to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the dedication of St. Paul Roman Catholic Church in Butler, PA.

One of the very early benefactors of St. Peter Church and St. Paul Church was Sarah Lowrey Collins, who was the daughter of Stephen Lowrey and the wife of Thomas Collins.

Collins Township in Allegheny County, I believe, was named after the Collins Family. Stephen Lowrey acquired a tremendous amount of the Depreciation Lands in Allegheny and Butler Counties, and Mrs. Collins inherited the properties upon her father's death.

I've been able to find a good deal of information about Sarah Lowrey Collins, but not so much about Thomas Collins.

By any chance, do you know when Thomas Collins died? I know he originally was buried in the first St. Peter's Cemetery in Butler, but do you know if he was later moved to Allegheny Cemetery and buried with other members of his family?

Your help would be tremendously appreciated. Thank you.

Cathy Martin

A: We found a bit of information about Thomas Collins in the Historic Pittsburgh website. However, we’re not able to determine which parts fit with the Thomas Collins that married Sarah Lowrey and founded Collins Township, and which parts might belong to someone else named Thomas Collins.

Collins Township was later absorbed into the community of Lawrenceville.

Sarah and Thomas had five children. Their four daughters were Valeria, Lydia, Sarah, and Margaret. Stephen, their only son, died as a child. Eliza Foster was a good friend of Sarah Lowrey Collins, and named her son Stephen Collins Foster in memory of Sarah's son who died.

Thomas was a prominent lawyer in Pittsburgh. He and Sarah were married about 1808, and moved to Pittsburgh where they lived in a mansion in the vicinity of Penn Avenue and Fourth Street. In 1830, they moved to their country estate, which they called Whitehall. It was located in Lawrenceville.

We don't know where Collins is buried. There are six Thomas Collins buried in Allegheny Cemetery. One of these is buried with a woman named Sarah Collins. They are in Sect 25, Lot 136, Grave 1. This Sarah died in 1860, and this Thomas died in 1865. However, we don't know if this is the same couple you seek or not.

Anyone with additional information can contact Cathy at camartin@zoominternet.net.

Q: I lived in Lawrenceville for 21 years. My mother was born and raised there. I appreciate the stories, etc. I am a writer and would like to share some of my memories with your site. Please advise the guidelines.

I now live in Arkansas, after being in the military with my husband for many years.

Sincerely Kathy Kalinowski Trower

A: Regarding your offer to help with our webpage "Lawrenceville Memories" (http://www.lhs15201.org/articles_b.asp?ID=54). The stories should be sent in e-mail, or on a CD. Other than that it's a simple task of putting them down and sending them in. Just remember we don't want to talk about anything negative, such as someone's drinking habit, someone stealing candy from a local market, or general gossip. Stuff like that has no place on our website. They may include sad stories about fires, floods, sickness, etc.

We are looking forward to reading about your memories. We do reserve the right to edit the stories for spelling, grammar, and society need.

Q: I'm looking for information (preferably decendants) on JAMES L. MCGRATH. He had a brother Paul L. and sister Virginia M and all three are buried (or have markers listed) in St. Mary's Cemetary, Lawrenceville, PA. He was the son of James F and Ellen A (Lawley) McGrath. He owned the Pittsburg Rail & Machinery Company in the Bessemer Bldg, Pittsburg, PA. He died on Jan. 6, 1957. He assisted my father, Stanley A Groman, MD, in building the first steam operating railroad museum in the USA as noted on www.railcitymuseum.com under Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain RR. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Robert J. Groman
Owner/Curator, Rail City Historical Museum

A: Unfortunately, we found no information on James L. McGrath. If anyone can help, please contact Robert at rchm2007@verizon.net.

Q: As a boy, I heard many stories from my Grandfather that seemed quite exciting when he told them.....but I always wondered if the were true. My Grandfather said his father (my Great Grandfather) was a Blacksmith who shoed all the horses for the Pittsburgh Mounted Police...very believeable. But the story I'm thinking of is of my grandfather driving a team of horses across the frozen Allegheny river on a dare. Now I'm doing some genelogy and finding facts that lead me to believe that old story could be true. In the 1900 census, there is a William J. Sands who was a "horse shoer" by trade and he had five sons...my grandfather being one of them. Since my great grandfather was a Blacksmith, he would have horses available for my grandfather to "drive across the frozen Allegheny river". So this story could be true. Do you have any pictures of a Lawrenceville Blacksmith shop? This would be around 1890 to 1910. Do you have any information on the Blacksmith shop or my Great grandfather, William J. Sands.

Another story my grandfather told me was of him driving the back end of a hook-n-ladder fire truck down Stanton Avenue and turning the corner at Butler Street missing the wall of the Cemetery by inches. I know he was a Fireman for the City of Pittsburgh and I know his Firehouse was on the top of Stanton Avenue. Could this be true too. Do you have any articles from the newspaper on the hook-n-ladder truck from the Fire Station on Stanton Avenue?

Any information you have would be greatly appreciated.

Bob Sands

A: The old city directories do list a William Sands as a blacksmith. Apparently, he had his shop in Downtown. In 1815, he's listed as being on the west side of Church Alley, between 6th Street and Strawberry Alley. The others have him on Church Alley. This would be in Downtown, not Lawrenceville.

Old time Lawrenceville residents told us that it was a common thing for men to dare another man to cross the Allegheny River on ice with a wagon. Sometimes they would make a wager on the crossing. These seniors said that this was a very foolish thing as sometimes the ice cracked and more than one man lost his wagon and/or his life attempting to make the crossing. This same type of wager/dare would apply to crossing the river when the water was low. Again this was dangerous as the undertow would sometimes sweep wagon and driver downstream.

Sometimes these crossings were made to avoid paying the toll for crossing at the bridge. We are inclined to believe the story your grandfather told about almost hitting Allegheny Cemetery's wall. Allegheny Cemetery workers told us that it was common for large trucks to smash into the cemetery's wall as they went up Stanton Avenue. This was particularly true during icy weather. The street makes some very sharp turns.

Vehicles coming down Stanton Avenue are also known to have crashed into the fence and wall during icy weather, while their drivers were speeding, or while they were driving drunk or drugged.

We do not have information about Fire Station #6 as this would be Stanton Heights, and we only deal with things pertaining to Lawrenceville.

Update: Bob tells us that he found William J Sands on Blackberry Alley just north of the intersection of 50th and Butler Streets in the 1914 G. M. Hopkins map, and we found it him having property there.

Q: I wondered if you can help me answer a question for my parents. They were trying to remember the name of a drug store that was on the corner of 43rd and Butler Streets in the 1940s and probably long before. It may have been named Allen Drug Store or something similar (they ruled out Wilson Drug Store which was nearby). They don’t believe it’s there any longer, but wanted to know for nostalgia reasons. If you happen to know which one they are talking about, please let me know.

Thank you for your time.

Karen Ambrose
Spring Hill, TN

A: It was Heckler’s Drugstore. It was torn down, and is now part of a parking lot.

Wilson's was up near Penn Avenue and Main Street in the 1940's. They moved to be on the corner of Penn and Main and are still there. Jeff Wilson has the last family owned drug store in the neighborhood. He is a third generation owner. His family owned the store since the end of WWI.

Q: First of all, thanks for all the help your staff has given to me as I research my family. Your time and effort is always appreciated.

I have several areas of research where I could use some quidance. I hope you don't mind reading this lengthy email. Thanks !

First of all, I am trying to find information on the Masons orginization that conducted funeral services at Allegheny Cemetery for my great grandmother's brother-in-law Mr. Charles North. He was buried in August of 1891, and his obituary stated that the McCandless Lodge AYM took charge of the funeral at the gravesite. I have sent emails to the Masons in hopes of finding out anything about this Lodge, but I haven't received a response. In doing research on the lodges in general, I believe the "AYM" signifies that this lodge is comprised of African Americans. I found this very interesting for I am almost certain that Mr. North was not African American. I am wondering if he was a member of this lodge, and if not, why would they conduct services for him? I have many questions about this situation, and I am wondering if you know of anyone who has done research or is affiliated with the lodges in the Lawrenceville/Pittsburgh area. The lodges have websites, but nothing there gives me any detailed information about something like this.

Another fact concerning this funeral that I thought you may be interested in is that the funeral services were conducted in the North home in Lawrenceville by the Reverend H.H. Stiles of the Forty Third Street Presbyterian Church. According to the LHS website article, this is the church that branched off from the 39th Street Presbyterian Church about eight years prior to Mr. North's death.

This article on the LHS website was about Reverend Richard Lea, who married my great grandparents, John R. Davidson and Caroline Kinsey at the 39th Street church on May 9, 1872. I had that information in my possession for about 25 years not knowing anything about the pastor or the church until I read that article.

Having said all of that...my question is....are there any records of marriages and baptisms from the 1800's that remain for that church? I am certain that my family was affiliated with the church and those records would be very helpful to me.

That article also lists Civil War veterans that Reverend Lea mentions in his diary. There is a John Kinsey listed, and my great, great grandfather was John Kinsey and his son was also John Kinsey. I feel the son was probably the one in the war, and I am trying to get info on him through the national archives.

I do need some help with other aspects of the younger John Kinsey. I found him living with his parents at the age of nineteen in 1860. After that I can't find him anywhere around Pittsburgh, except for a John Kinsey that is listed in the census at Western Penitentiary in 1870. I have researched the websites for Western Penn, but I am not finding a way to get exact information on John Kinsey from the prison. Do you have anyone who has done any research like this, or could guide me to where I can actually get information on individual prisoners? The websites tell me that there are lists, but I cannot find out how to actually get into them.

I know I am asking a lot....but I just want you to know that I do as much research as I can before contacting you. I feel that you have many more resources there and more people who you know, who know the history of that area. I live in the Philadelphia area, and don't visit Pittsburgh often, so doing any leg work for research is difficult.

Caroline L. Dobrowolski

A: We asked Tom Barnes, a Reference Librarian at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to help us find out the meaning of A.Y.M. Hepulled out a book titled, Acronyms, Initialisms & Abbreviations Dictionary 40th ed. vol.1 pt.1. This source tells us that it stood for Ancient York Mason.

We were able to learn that the McCandless Masonic Lodge was on Butler Street in Lawrenceville, but the City Directories of the day do not list an address.

The records for the Forty Third Street Presbyterian Church merged with several other local churches including Emory Methodist Church. The records are kept at the Emory Church on Highland Avenue in East Liberty.

Unfortunately, we have no additional information to share. Anyone that can help is asked to contact Caroline at caredob53@yahoo.com.

This information was added on January 1, 2011.

Q: Hi, I'm writing a paper about Allegheny Arsenal for a college course. I was wondering if you could answer exactly what type of cannon is mounted at the lower end of Arsenal park and what division of the military would have used it. Thank you. -Jon

A: James Wudarczyk was kind enough to provide the following answer for us.

“The large one in the park was a Columbiad -- more specifically a Dahgren, and it was cast at the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, VA. I am not sure what branch of the military would have used it but considering its size, I am guessing that it was mounted at a fort or on a train car.

The smaller ones near the school are small Rodmans and were cast in Pittsburgh at the Fort Pitt Foundry-- which is also known as Budd and Knap.

For specifics on the number and types of cannon cast at Fort Pitt Foundry, refer to the chapter "Thomas Jackson Rodman: Forgotten American Patriot" in Pittsburgh's Forgotten Allegheny Arsenal.”

Q: Caroline L. Dobrowolski writes - First of all I was thrilled to find that there are a dedicated group of people wanting to keep history alive. Thank you !!

I am starting a new experience....an in depth research project on my father's side of the family. I must say it is an addicting project, and I am fascinated by it all.

With our parents now gone, my sister and I find that we are the last members of the Davidson family, and with that sober thought, we have taken it upon ourselves to chronicle those who have come before us. This project began on a summer's day this year, when my sister and I remembered a wish that my mother had made to one day visit Lawrenceville, Butler Street, and Allegheny Cemetery. This is where my father's, grandmother's family, the John Kinsey side of the family lived and are buried. My mother never visited these places, a sad fact that since she just lived in Natrona Heights. So in a nostalgic frame of mind, my sister and I drove down to visit Allegheny Cemetery. Within minutes its' charm, beauty and mystifying elegance overwhelmed us. A quick trip turned into a five hour visit and a return visit several days later. We located the Kinsey plot, and were instantly drawn to the history and reverence of the grounds. It was there that we decided it was imperative for us to do this research.

Since that day, I have located so much information on the Kinsey family through the census and have located properties they owned in Lawrenceville through Google Earth. This week I have located your website, have sent in a membership fee, and have purchased your literature which is no doubt a wealth of information. Now I want to ask you for your advice on several parts of this project.

My great-great grandfather, John Kinsey 1805-1874 (wf Jane Jones Kinsey) was a carpenter in 1864 on Butler and Mill Street, and 1869-70 on Butler and 48-49th Streets, and in 1871 listed in the 17th Ward on Butler Street. When he retired his business went to his son-in-law, Charles North, who is listed as having the business in 1871 on Butler Street 17th Ward. My grandfather's other son-in-law James Graham is also listed as a carpenter in the 17th Ward in 1871. I found these addresses on a copy of the original business directories by Harris and Thurston. I'm wondering if there is any way I could find out anything about the work they did and if any of their work still exists. In Charles North's obituary listed on the front page of The East Ender newspaper, Saturday, August 29, 1891, it states that Mr. North took over Mr. Kinsey's business of building and contracting and "that he was successful many buildings in this end of the city demonstrate" Where could I find information concerning this business?

Also, this obituary states that when Mr. North died his body was placed on a boat of the D&CSN Company and arrived the next day by the P&LE RR. From there he was taken to the Forty Third Street Presbyterian Church and then to Allegheny Cemetery. Can you give me any information or give me some idea where I can find information on this transportation situation. What were the names of the boat and railroad company? Why the boat and then the railroad? The obit states that Mr. North was in the office of the East Ender the day before he died. If he was that close to Lawrenceville, why transport him by boat and railroad to get the Allegheny Cemetery?

Also, I would like to find information on the schools in Lawrenceville. Mr. North "held the office of School Director in the 17th Ward for 21 years" off and on. I am assuming, of course, that Lawrenceville is the 17th Ward. I would also like to find out if any of the Kinsey, Graham or North children attended school in the area. Where could I locate this information?

I was born and raised in Natrona Heights, but for the last 30 years have lived in the Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton area of Pennsylvania, the Lehigh Valley. I do visit my sister living outside of Saxonburg often so that we can visit towns and cemeteries and libraries for this project. On my next visit back, we do plan on stopping by the LHS office.

Thank you so much for reading this lengthy email.....of course, family information is always so much more interesting to "the family" than it is to others....so I very much appreciate you taking an interest in this, and hopefully, you will have some direction for me or even answers to my questions. Once again, your time and effort is appreciated.

A: You might want to go to the Pennsylvania Department of Carnegie Library. Also, the Heinz History Center might have information to help you find what jobs the carpenters in your family did. Or they might be able to direct you to the correct city or county agency.

Regarding your questions concerning Charles North's death - the P & LE Railroad was the the Pennsylvania and Lake Erie. Unfortunately, it went out of business in 1992. We believe that the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation took over their buildings, but we don't know what happened to their records. You might want to contact them to see if they have these records.

The D & CSN Company is the Detroit & Cleveland Steam Navigation Company. This company moved freight and passengers from Detroit to Buffalo and by the 1940's was the largest freshwater fleet in the world. However, it did not fare well during the 1950's and died in 1960.

The only reason we can think of that they used both a boat and a train to move Charles’ body is that he died en route to Detroit while on a company vessel. He was possibly unloaded in Cleveland, Erie, or Buffalo and then shipped by train back to Pittsburgh. You must remember that D & C SN Company only serviced the Great Lakes. They did not service the rivers.

The first Washington School (also known as the Seventeenth Ward School and the Hatfield Street School), was located about a block or so in back of your family's home. The school was located in the 4800 block of Hatfield Street, and is still standing today although it is in dire need of some TLC.

Charles North was in fact on the Board of the Washington School. See:

Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny cities ... 1869-1870
Author: Thurston, George H. (George Henry), 1822-1895.

In the 1873 Directory, he appears as the Treasurer.

The Pittsburgh Board of Public Education keeps records of the children in attendance of the schools, but do not allow the public access to the records. They told us several years ago that one has to get permission from the court to see copies of the records.

Given the closeness of the Washington School to the 4900 block of Butler Street, and that they were not Catholic (as shown by the fact that they were buried in Allegheny Cemetery), it is a very good bet that they went to Washington School.

We were once told that during the 1860's and 70's, at the age of thirteen most students dropped out of school to go to work, take correspondence courses, or to learn a trade. As far as I know Pittsburgh Central High School, which opened in 1869 was the first public high school. It was located at 417 Wood Street, and was the only one servicing Lawrenceville during the time in question.

Now regarding the old Wards. In 1907 when the city of Pittsburgh annexed Allegheny City, there were many duplications of wards and streets. Many of the wards and streets were renamed. Lawrenceville basically consisted of the 15th, 17th, and 18th Wards. After the restructuring theses wards became the 6th, 9th, and 10th respectively.

If anyone has additional information, Caroline can be reached at caredob53@yahoo.com.

Q: I am interested in any information you can provide on the Lawrenceville Economic Action Program (LEAP), particularly the names of who worked there in 1966.

A: The Lawrenceville Economic Action Program was active in the 1960’s and 1970’s and may have existed all the way into the 1980’s. Its source of financial stability was tied to a federal grant. When the grant ran out, the organization folded.

They operated out of the old St. Raphael Home, which was on Penn Avenue. Unfortunately, we have no information on the staff.

Anyone that can help is asked to contact Patricia Schlosser at pschlosser2@mac.com.

Q: Great site! My grandfather, Ralph S. Bigley, was with Engine Company #7 (2200 Penn Avenue) back in the 40’s. The building still stands on Penn Avenue, but now it’s the Firehouse Lounge. I would love to get a photo of the building in its original form, if anyone has one. Thanks.

Mike Bigley
DeLand, FL

A: Unfortunately, we have no such photo. Can anyone out there help Mike?

This information was added on December 31, 2010.

Q: I am writing to request your assistance if possible. I am attempting to recreate my family tree. My ancestors were Irish immigrants and two generations lived and worked in Lawrenceville.

Specifically, I was wondering if you might have any information on the O'Shea's Funeral Home, which I believe was located at 5064 Penn Avenue. Do you have any information on the funeral home's records and where they may be located now if still in existence?

Any assistance you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Karen Young


A: Jerry T. O’Shea had his funeral home at 4064 Penn Avenue, which was on the corner of Penn Avenue and Main Streets in Lawrenceville from at least 1932 to 1953. It was not located at 5064 Penn Avenue. There is a gas station at 4064 Penn Avenue now. We think the gas station was built during the 1950's.

About 1943 a Tim O'Shea Funeral Home pops up at 460 Lincoln Avenue in Bellevue, a small town just outside of Pittsburgh. We found a 1962 newspaper reference showing a name change to O'Shea-Miller Funeral Home at the same location. Currently, the funeral home is called the Lawrence T. Miller Funeral Home. We couldn't help but notice the "T." keeps showing up. We guessed that Jerry T.'s middle name was Tim, Tim O'Shea was Jerry's son, and Lawrence Miller's middle name is Tim. At this point this is all speculation. At any rate, we called the Miller Funeral Home to see if we could find any connection with Jerry T. Unfortunately, they informed us that there was no known connection between the two undertakers, nor were we able to locate the O’Shea Funeral Homes records .

Q: Karen Young e-mailed again to say: My interest in O'Shea's stems from their listing as the funeral home connected with my great-grandfathers funeral, which occurred in January, 1925. {This info comes from St. Mary's cemetery}. He apparently fell on ice in front of his home on 38th Street, sustaining a head injury. He was taken to St, Francis Hospital where he died two days later. I was hoping to obtain funeral home records that might provide more information on family in attendance at the funeral, specifically a sister who I am sure lived in the area.

So, the O'Shea's you have cited for me appears to have begun operating in their first location in 1932. And I am certain my great grandfather died in 1925. I wonder if they had operated prior to 1932 but in a different location?

In any event I am very grateful that you responded to my email and will forward anything you find on O'Shea's to me. I have spent the last several evenings reading the articles on St' John the Baptist Church, where my great grandparents were married in 1888, as well as St. Mary's and the general articles on Lawrenceville. Thank you so much for the wonderful and rich history of the area that you have managed to bring to life. It is greatly appreciated.

Karen went on to say that her great-grandfather’s name was Joseph McIntyre.

A: O’Shea Funeral Home could not have been located at 5064 Penn Avenue. The address does not exist. The 5000 block of Penn Avenue stops at 5022, then picks up with 5100 when you cross the street.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Karen at Karenyoun1234@aol.com.

Q: Jake Zeigler writes, “I live in Lawrenceville and exercise through the lower side streets. The other day I noticed a man taking photos of this old building with huge, wood doors. I had never really noticed it before and was amazed by it. It almost looks like it was once a church. It's situated in the same black top "parking lot" as the Gas-Lite building on Charlotte Street. I was wondering what the building once was and if it had any historical significance. Also, while trying to find the answer on Google, I came across a page that described a log house on the same street on the corner of 38th and Charlotte. Apparently it was built a mere decade or so after the founding of Lawrenceville. I am having trouble locating this and was wondering if it was still standing?

“The best part of Lawrenceville, in my eyes, is the hidden away history.

“Thanks, I hope you can help.”

A: The Gas-Lite building and the portion with the huge wooden doors, which is part of the company, was once the Lawrence School (3701 Charlotte Street). Sometime around 1985 or so it was heavily damaged by fire. Charles Brown, the company's owner, planned to rebuild, but his life was cut short before he could achieve this goal. His home is now the Baynerhoff Museum in O'Hara Township. It is well worth a visit.

The log house is still there, but is covered over with siding. You'd never know it was a log house.

Q: Vivian Mason asks, Do you know the name of the singing society that was located at 5137 Holmes Street? The building later housed the Boom Boom Club.

A: The Singing Society at 5137 Holmes Street was called Vorwaerts Singing Society. When translated into English, the name meant, the Forward Singing Society. The group was originally Swedish and it also served as a beneficial club. Years later Germans took over the operations. In the 1960's more and more other ethnic groups frequented the club. According to what numerous people have told us "the Boom Boom" was a nickname given to it, because of the lively music played in the club. People reported that the music was so loud that the building would shake.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Vivian at vivijay@roadrunner.com.

This information was added on December 30, 2010.

Q: I'm a senior at Chatham working on my senior thesis, which is on "Sustainable Revitalization in a Working Class Community: Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh, PA." For my first chapter I would like to have a general overview of Lawrenceville's history from post WWII to present, within this general overview I would like to focus on community transistions such as, revitalization, loss of industry, demographic changes. I would also like to have a history focused on the working class of Pittsburgh and/or Lawrenceville as a working class community. I was wondering if you could give me some insight or point me in the direction of individuals that do, articles, books, films, anything that you think I would benefit from. Thank you so much for your time and help, I really appreciate it! - Katie McAuley

A: We cannot think of any single source that you could consult to find the information that you are seeking. However, there are sources out there that will provide you with data, which you can sift through to obtain this information.

The Lawrenceville Historical Society (LHS) has out three books that I recommend you purchase. (See http://www.lhs15201.org/publications.htm.) The last chapters in the books Monster on the Allegheny and A Doughboy's Tale will give you a brief overview of the changes in recent years.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has some statistical data on demographics of our community including census records.

If I were you I would contact the Lawrenceville Corporation, which is the Community Development Corporation for our neighborhood. In the past they have helped students that we referred to them.

Q: My name is Walter Leon. I am a great grandson of a Victor Vorndran. Now that I am retired I am putting together a family tree for my children. I have notes from my grandmother from many years ago, Leon (Vorndran) Leon that said her father participated in the laying of the corner stone at St. Mary's church. I was wondering if there were any old photo's of that event or do I even have the proper St. Mary's Church. I do know that I have many relatives buried at St. Mary's cemetary in Lawrenceville.


Walter Leon Castle Shannon

A: In the book History of Saint Mary's by the Rev. Raymond Conway. He talks briefly about the building of the original church (on 46th Street) in 1853. He does not have a photo of laying of the cornerstone, nor does he mention any names involved with the ceremony. On page 30 he talks briefly about the building of the current edifice. Here he says that it was Bishop Domenic that placed the cornerstone on June 23, 1873.

We also found other materials on St. Mary's (on 46th Street) and St. Mary Assumption (on 57th Street). Unfortunately, we found no mention of either the name Leon or Vondran for either church. The church on 46th Street was largely an Irish Catholic Church, while the one on 57th Street was chiefly made up of Slovenes.

We do not maintain any information about any other churches named St. Mary's. Our society deals only with Lawrenceville.

If anyone can help Walter, he can be reached at warroom11@comcast.net.

Q: I wonder if you might help me with a family history question. My great grandparents, William C Dodds and Elizabeth A Conn, married in 1888. According to Diffenbacher's 1888 city directory for Pittsburgh, both William and "Lizzie" were living on Irwin Alley (the present day St Johns Way?) near 40th. He was a bricklayer, she a housekeeper (perhaps his housekeeper).

My uncle said that the couple was married on Sept 14th, 1888 at Baptist Church of the Messiah in Pittsburgh. I've been unable to find any church by this name. The Pittsburgh Baptist and American Baptist offices have no record of it either. Could this have been a local congregation in or near Lawrenceville?

A: The only mention that we have been able to find of the Messiah Baptist Church appears in the 1889 Diffenbacher's City Directory. This book mentions Rev. Josephus Cheaney is the pastor of the church, but there is no address for either the church or the pastor.

We do know that there were many small congregations at that time that would meet in people's homes. Often the groups were unable to find funding for a building or perhaps there was turbulence within the congregation, so the congregation would drift apart after a year or two. We’re guessing that this was the case with the Messiah Baptist Church.

Q: Do you have any pictures, information, writings by Hugh Boyle Callahan? He was assistant pastor at St. John, the Baptist Church in Lawrenceville from October 10, 1906 through December 1908.

A: Unfortunately, we have not been able to find anything on Hugh Boyle Callahan.

You should contact the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh Archives at:

Cardinal Dearden Center
4721 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Tel: (412) 456-3158
Fax: (412) 621-6237
Email: archives@diopitt.org

Address your correspondence to - Burris Esplen.

This information was added on December 21, 2010.

Q: Janice Ihrig wrote: I am hoping you are able to direct me in the right direction. I have relatives who lived in Lawrenceville and attended the "St Augustin Catholic Church" They were buried along with many of their offspring in the "St Augustin Catholic Cemetery". I have attempted to locate this church and cemetery online and an email address and cannot find one. My only resource is a 1929 newspaper. Is St Augustin now St Augustine? Do you know if they have an email address?

Normal online methods of checking cemetery burials have shown none of the Zinsmeister family in their cemetery. I would appreciate any assistance you could lend me.

A: St. Augustine's Cemetery is now known as Our Lady of the Angels. It is located on 37th Street. (See http://www.lhs15201.org/articles_b.asp?ID=77 for more information about this church.)

We entered your ancestors' name into the search engine at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~njm1/tombs.htm, but came up with nothing. There is a good chance that they did not have tombstones as many people in those days were too poor to afford them, or you might have the wrong cemetery. I recommend you try this search engine using only the last name, and then search out corresponding first names.

As you did not give us the first names, we can't be of any more service. You could also try to contact the Catholic Cemetery Association.

Q: Robert Davenport wrote:

My brother and I have been doing genealogy research on our family and have found mention on your website on a piece written by my mom's brother, Charles Puder.

There is a quote that is from a publication titled, The Augustine. It appeared in the January 1980 issue, and refers to our great-grandfather, John Driesch, who worked at the old Allegheny Arsenal. The article is titled "Memories of Lawrenceville”.

Do you happen to have a full copy of this document? We would love to have it to help us in our search.

Thank you!

Bob Davenport (my mother was Claire Puder).

A: Try contacting:

Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh
Archives & Records
Attn: Burris Esplen
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
(412) 621-6204

Q: I am going to ask a really stupid question. Is there a source whereby one can search burials for St Mary's cemetery in Lawrenceville? My great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Shea Wolff, died in 1949 and was buried at St Mary's. Her husband was buried at Calvary Cemetery, though I have no clue why. They had children who died before adulthood that family says were also buried at St Mary's. Thing is, I don't have names or dates, just that they had children buried there.


A: There is nothing unusual about your request. We get quite a few such questions. The only Wolff I could find that shows up in St. Mary's Cemetery that died in 1949 is in Section Z. (See http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~njm1/stmytyz.htm.) There is no first name to go with the entry in the data base. This person died August 11, 1949.

Let us give you some helpful hints on how to find the graves of lost love ones. It doesn't work all the time, but it's the quick and easy method. Start by going to the Lawrenceville Historical Society's Links Page. (See http://www.lhs15201.org/links.asp.)

Scroll down to the part titled Cemeteries in Lawrenceville and Other Places. Click this selection and type in the last name of the person you are searching. Every entry in the database with that last name will appear on the next screen. In this case, you told us that Elizabeth was buried in St. Mary's Cemetery, so we just checked those entries that listed St. Mary's Cemetery. Then we checked the date - 1949. There was only one match. Sometimes you don't find any matches, and sometimes you find multiple matches. At any rate, it's an easy process.

Regarding the fact that Elizabeth's husband was buried at Calvary. Often parents buy graves for their children. When death takes them many years later, the family doesn't want to waste a good grave. They just bury the person in the grave that is already in the family's possession, instead of going through the expense of buying another grave.

Q:I’ve been researching my family for a dozen years starting with only the first name of my grandfather.

My 3G Grandfather WILLIAM BARBOUR begins the Barbour/Barber line in Lawrenceville beginning in 1863. What I’ve been looking for without any success is where in Ireland he is from. I have undoubtedly exhausted every record source I could find and everything just says “Ireland” when recording place of birth.

I thought maybe if the LHS had Leslie’s records, maybe William’s original home town would be mentioned.

All my BARBOUR/BARBER, HOYLE/HOIL, HAVENS/HAVEN and MOORE families were in Lawrenceville for generations. However, I can never get enough information about my Barbours. If you, or the members of the Lawrenceville Historical Society, ever come across anything mentioning Barbours – please let me know.

3G Grandparents: William Barbour 12/1840-3/29/1909 wife Ellen Moore 3/1834 – 9/28/1887

Irish Immigrants – have census/street directory and death records – both buried in Allegheny Cemetery. Ship’s Manifest and Naturalization records only say Ireland.

2G Grandparents: Arthur C. Barbour 4/16/1863-4/1/1926 wife Mary Hoyle 3/16/1867-2/1/1940

Second generation in Lawrenceville – same as above. Arthur was a member of the local Moose Lodge. Occupation was “gambler”. Found dead on Butler Street – unexplained cause. Have Coroner’s Record as well.

Mary’s mother was a Havens.

G Grandparents: John T. Barbour 10/22/1885-4/23/1966 wife Katheryn Moore 4/6/1885-11/20/1921

Third generation in Lawrenceville. Katheryn was the first Catholic to marry in to the Barbours – St. Mary’s.

Grandparents: Arthur J. Barbour 4/12/1908-6/28/1967 wife Louise Mares from Mt. Troy

Arthur raised Catholic, served in US Navy in the Pacific, WWII.

A: According to the 1857-58 city directory, William H. Barbour was boarding at Hare's Hotel, which was located at 133 Liberty Avenue. In 1880 he shows up as living at 1105 Penn Avenue.

While we are familiar with the Leslie Funeral Home on 43rd Street, the building is long gone, and we don’t know became of the funeral home’s records.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Bryan Barbour at BABarbour@peterstownship.com, or call him at (724) 942-5013.

This information was added on December 20, 2010.

Q: My query is regarding my husband's ancestry search which has led us to Lawrenceville and the Wilkinsburg area in the late 1800's.

My husband has been in contact with the staff at The Pennsylvania Room at Carnegie Library - they had several documents copied for us and were very helpful with the microfiche. The info we received was intriguing to my husband. We are not sure if he got answers, or if the family ties deepen.

My husband's name is John R. Foote, and he may have finally located a great-grandfather's brother. The family had been split up secondary to the death of the parents, and this is where his quest has reached. There is an area, section 22, lot 151 at Allegheny Cemetery that contains six graves – five were members of the Davison family and the sixth was William Foote. All were buried together. We wonder if William Foote may have been adopted or, at least, taken in as he is buried with that family, yet maintained his last name of "Foote". Isn't the Davison name prominent in Lawrenceville? Perhaps there may be some way to trace this, but where to start?

My husband has been researching for years, and this is actually my first moments of acute interest...he's done all the work until now. Any info, links or advice will be welcome.

Pat Foote

A: Yes, the Davison family was very important in Lawrenceville's yesteryear. There is a Davison Street named after them. They founded Davison Sand and Gravel Company.

We were able to get in touch with a descendant of the Davison family. Although he looked through his family history, he was not able to find any of mention of William Foote, or anyone else named Foote. Nor do the names of the members of the Davison family that are buried with William Foote appear in the Davison family history. They are Isabella Davison - died 1891, Isabella Davison - died 1883, James Davison – died 1904, James Davison – died 1925, and Robert Davison – died 1905.

Anyone with information about William Foote, is asked to contact Pat Foote at rubyfoote@aol.com.

Q: Robert Smith writes, “I am looking for information on the members of the Grand Army of the Republic, as I am trying to locate an ancestor for my genealogical project.

“Do you have a listing for the members from 1865 to 1880? “

A: Both the Pennsylvania Department of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial here in Pittsburgh have G. A. R. Registers.

We only help looking for information on people who lived in Lawrenceville. If your ancestor did, give us his name and we'll see what we can dig up.

Q: I have been trying to find out about the men in the 1860 census listed as "enlisted men" in the borough of "Lawrenceville," Allegheny County. Michael Kittrick (Killick) is a relative of mine. I believe this was a list of "Regular" Union Army. Where did they originate? Where did they fight in Civil War? I know he spends the rest of his life in Lawrenceville, but I really want to know if he lived there before he enlisted or ended up there due to already being in the army. I'd really appreciate any help you can give me. Thanks

A: We’re guessing that Michael Kittrick was stationed at the Allegheny Arsenal while he was in the military. You'll need to find out in which unit he served, and then contact Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall to find out if he was in the Civil War, and if he was, where his unit was stationed and if they ever fought in any battles.

We cannot find any record of anyone by the name of Kittrick, Kitrick, Killick, or Kilick living in Lawrenceville before, during, or right after the Civil War.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Sarah at megan.nasky@communitylivingcare.com.

Q: Andrea Filak writes, “Can you tell me where the Stephen Foster Historical Marker is located in Lawrenceville? The PA Website said it was at 3600 Butler Street, but I looked for it and cannot find it.”

A: The marker is by 3600 Penn Avenue, not 3600 Butler Street.

This information was added on November 28, 2010.

Q: Following is a list of the children of William Everett Warren and Eliza Reevy Warren. Listed are the marriages, year of marriage, and children. The family lived in the lower Lawrenceville vicinity on Penn Avenue and Minersville. I would like to hear from anyone who might be able to connect to the information I have listed. Thanks, Carol

Samuel L Warren m Sarah --- abt 1900
William J Warren m. Anna Jane DETRICH 1878 -
child, Lizzie J
Robert Warren married Minnie ---
child - Ada
Sarah Warren married --- RHULE abt 1885
David J. Warren m Laura HOSACK 1881
children - Robert G, Elnor B, Raymond, David J, Chester H, Laura
Hugh Harrison Warren m. Tamar BOND 1888
children - Elsie Phoebe 1888, Jennie H 1890-1979. Oliver A 1892, Hugh H.
Jr. 1894-1960
Rachael Warren m. 1st ,Wm. SHERBINE 1887 2nd William Albert RUDY 1893
Martha Warren m John HAHN 1893
children - Herman, Henry, Elizabeth, Louisia, Martha, David

Also related: James WALLACE was married to William Everett Warren's sister,

A: If anyone can help Carol, please contact Donna at djbooth1@verizon.net.

Q: In 1844 my 4th great-grandfather Samuel Garrison, coppersmith agt the Alleghenny Arsenal, was listed as the burgess for the city of Lawrenceville in the city directory by Isaac Harris. Do you have any idea what the role or responsibilities of burgess of the town really was? Thanks, Deborah T. Yarrow

A: We checked the old Lawrenceville Borough Council Minutes from 1844, and found that Samuel Garrison was not the Burgess of Lawrenceville during the full year. S. H. Sarber was.

The minutes were handwritten and are very hard to read. The entry for May 5, 1844 shows that Samuel Garrison was the "Overseer of the Poor". There is an entry next to his name of $13.55. Although we’re not certain, because the secretary did not keep good records, and his handwriting left much to be desired, we believe that this was the money that was in his account. It is probable that those jobs were voluntary positions and as such the $13.55 would not have been his pay.

He was also one of the Directors of the Lawrenceville Savings Bank in 1867. (See Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Almanac, p. 234.) Also, he was an honorary member of Engine Company No. 12. (See Our Firemen : the History of the Pittsburgh Fire Department edited by Charles T. Dawson, page 27).

According to Miscellaneous History of Lawrenceville by Joseph A. Borkowski, Samuel Garrison was the "Master Coppersmith" at the Allegheny Arsenal. (See page 26.) Mr. Borkowski does not mention in what year(s) Garrison held this post.

According to an address delivered at the request of St. John's Lodge, no. 219, F. & A. M. at the 444th stated meeting, April 12th, 1883, on the history of the lodge, and the establishment of freemasonry in Pittsburgh (see page 24) Garrison was the treasurer of Hamilton Lodge No. 173 in Lawrenceville. They met the first Wednesday of every month. According to the book Pittsburgh In the Year Eighteen Hundred and Twenty-six he was the Lodge Treasurer.

In 1903 a Samuel Garrison was the president of the Mortgage Banking Company. (See page 37 of A Century of Banking in Pittsburgh by Edward White.) According to History of Pittsburgh and Environs, Vol. 2 by George Thornton Fleming, he was this institution's first president. It seems doubtful to me that this is the same man.

A write up about him and his company, Garrison, Williams & Company Limited, appeared in the book Pittsburgh and Allegheny Illustrated Review by John William Leonard. (See page 83.)

The 1844 Harris Business Directory lists him as both the Master Coppersmith at the Allegheny Arsenal and Lawrenceville's Burgess. However, as we stated earlier the Council minutes list Sarber as the Burgess for 1844. As the information for the 1844 Directory was garnered in 1843, and we didn't actually see Sarber's name until April of 1844, we’re guessing that Garrison preceded Sarber and held his position starting in 1843 and ending early 1844. This directory lists S. H. Sarber as a councilman.

In the 19th Century Pittsburgh had two city councils. One was called the Select Council and the other was called the Common Council. According to the 1877-1878 City Directory, Garrison served on the Select Council's Committee for City Properties. However, we can't determine if this was the first Samuel Garrison, or the second.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Debbie Yarrow at teacherlady0409@yahoo.com.

Q: Mike Connors asked, “By chance do you know if Samuel and Alexander McBride from Lawrenceville's early years (1820's - 1860's) were related? If so, how were they related? “

A: We know that Samuel McBride lived in a log house, which is still standing at the corner of 38th and Charlotte Streets in Lower Lawrenceville. The house has undergone several modifications throughout the years, and is now covered with siding. Therefore, you can’t tell from the outside that it is a log house.

Alexander McBride was an employee at the Allegheny Arsenal. During the Arsenal explosion of September 17, 1862 McBride’s daughter, Katie, was killed.

We could not find any family connection between the two men. We asked Pittsburgh’s house historian, Carol Peterson, if she knew of any connection. Her reply read, “Samuel McBride from the log house was from North Fayette Township, Allegheny County, before he came to Lawrenceville, and he went back there after he sold the log house. So, in case any North Fayette association turned up for Alexander McBride, it would suggest a possible connection.”

We did not find anything linking Alexander to Fayette Township.

Anyone that has additional information is asked to contact the Lawrenceville Historical Society.

Q: Did you ever hear of the Lawrenceville Jokers? My grandfather played for them, but I don’t which sport they played.

A: As far as we can tell the Lawrenceville Jokers played mushball, a game that seems to have faded into oblivion. It was sort of like softball. We’re told that the Pittsburgh teams used a 16 inch ball that had a somewhat different stitching than standard softballs.

According to the September 1, 1927 edition of the Pittsburgh Press, the Lawrenceville Jokers club was at 29th and Smallman Streets. The team consisted of the following players – Turky (sic), Nicky, Stanley, Miller, Flink, Kusy, Victor Pierce, and Steak of the Light Hooks.

Q: What was the name of the bank in the 5100 block of Butler Street in the mid-1980’s?

A: Technically speaking, it wasn’t a bank, but a savings and loan. It was called Columbia Savings and Loan Association. It was located at 5123 Butler Street.

This information was added on May 16, 2010.

Q: Jeremy writes, “ I plan on repainting the trim of my brick house in Lawrenceville, and I was wondering if you could suggest a color that would be historically appropriate for a 1906 corner retail/residence structure.”

A: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Reference Department provided the information.

Jeremy, I found three books that could help you (you'll see their catalog records below). The 1st book (which, I think, is the best of the three) has house plans for 118 turn of the century house, and with those plans are descriptions which include the colors. The second book doesn't list what the colors of the houses are, but the illustrations are all in color. And, the last book is designed for homes of the Craftsman Style Architecture, which was an early 20th century architectural movement that was a reaction to the more traditional architecture, and was more of a "bohemian" style.

Turn-of-the-century houses, cottages, and villas : floor plans and line illustrations of 118 homes from Shoppell's catalogs / R.W. Shoppell et al.

Victorian house designs in authentic full color , 1885-1894 / edited by Blanche Cirker.

Stickley's craftsman homes : plans, drawings, photographs: by Ray Stubblebine.

Q: David H. Pardoe writes, “Do you know where Lafeyette Ally was? My grandfather had a sister whose infant child died in August 1881 and the death certificate says: Last residence: Lafeyette Ally, Ward 15. The length of residence is given as 3 months which would push it back to June 1881 when the family arrived. Mapquest did not find it, so I suppose either the name changed or it has disappeared.”

A: You are right in assuming that the alley changed names. Lafayette Alley is now called Mulberry Way. It runs parallel and in between Penn Avenue and Charlotte Street as far as 34th Street. It starts at 11th Street and runs as far as 38th Street. Butler Street, the main business thorofare in Lawrenceville, starts at 34th Street. Once Butler Street starts Mulberry/Lafayette runs 1/2 block north of Butler Street.

What used to be the Fifteenth Ward is now the Sixth Ward.

Q: I am searching for any pictures or information regarding a grocery store at 3947 Mintwood Street. I am pretty sure it was called Pilgrims .I am also interested in talking to any relatives of Pearl McGregor and Helen Lewicki. Anyone with information can reach me at (412) 688-0995 or dburns1950@verizon.net. My name is Daniel Burns.

A: Yes, Pilgrims was the grocery store at 3947 Mintwood Street. The store was in business for many years going back to the times when Mintwood Street was known as Mifflin Street. At one point in time they had a horse and wagon for deliveries.

Q: Lawrenceville obviously had some old fire stations. There is one near the Doughboy Statue, one at McCandless Avenue and Butler Street, and there used to be one on Calvin Street. How come we never had a police station?

A: We did. It was located at 44th and Summit Streets. After it was closed it became a club. The structure was razed in 1963 to make way for the new Holy Family School. The school later changed names to Lawrenceville Catholic Elementary School in 1968 and still later became St. John Nuemann.

Q: Where was the Arsenal Bakery?

A: The Arsenal Bakery was located at 3828 Penn Avenue. It was owned by George Munzinger back around 1926 to 1929. Prior to that Emil Boll ran a bakery in the same spot. The 1930 City Directory shows Munzinger was still operating a bakery in the same spot, but was no longer using the name Arsenal Bakery.

This information was added on May 9, 2010.

Q: I'm curious about the history of McCullough's Island, a long, skinny island which once sat in the Allegheny River just offshore from Lawrenceville. It appears on older maps, but no longer exists. For example, see this map of Pittsburgh's 15th Ward from 1872: http://bit.ly/bzTITV.

There's also a mention of it in a book from 1905 titled Early western travels, 1748-1846, which said that the arsenal was "on the Pittsburg side of Allegheny River, opposite the upper end of McCullough's Island".

My working assumption is that the channel was filled in and that part of Lawrenceville's riverfront is actually the former island land. Do you know where I might find more information?

Bill Price wcp5@pitt.edu

A: McCullough's Island was earlier know as Wainwright's Island. It was believed by some historians to be the island on which George Washington spent a night when he crossed the Allegheny River with Christopher Gist. Allan Becer wrote a chapter in the book A Doughboy’s Tale . . . and More Lawrenceville Stories about Washington’s crossing.

The island was owned by the Wainwright family who were early brewers in the Pittsburgh area.

According to an article that appeared in the December 14, 1906, edition of the Pittsburgh Press the back channel that separated the main shoreline by a narrow strip of water was about 100 feet wide and 4,000 feet long. This strip was owned by the state. In 1870 the state ceded the land that any company was using up to the shore line and apparently the channel itself went to the City of Pittsburgh. In 1906, Mayor Guthrie demanded that the companies that were using the channel to pay rent for its use. This matter was not settled until December 1916.

The back channel appears in the 1872 map, but not on the 1876 map, which means that the companies using the back channel had filled it in and were using city property, hence the mayor's demand for rent.

Q: Mary Lou writes, “The Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society has had an inquiry about English immigrants who came to Lawrenceville about 1870. Do you know of any such group? Is there anyone in the Lawrenceville Historical Society who might be able to help her?”

A: While there were many English immigrants to Lawrenceville, we know of no particular group that came here during the 1870’s.

Anyone with information on this topic is asked to contact Donna Booth at djbooth1@verizon.net. She will forward the information to Mary Lou.

Q: Soupy asks, “Whatever happened to the Lawrenceville Business Association?”

A: It merged with the Lawrenceville Development Corporation sometime around 1998. The resulting entity is now known as the Lawrenceville Corporation.

Q: When did the St. Mary’s Academy building on 46th Street close as a school?

A: In his book History of St. Mary’s, Father Conway states that, “St. Mary’s Academy for girls was closed in September, 1894, . . .”

Q: Daren Stanchak asks, “What is the City of Pittsburgh’s official border between Lower Lawrenceville and the Strip District? Is it 34th Street, 28th Street, 32nd Street, or some other street?

A: We had to ask Suzie Johnston at the Pennsylvania Department of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh for help on finding the city designated border between the Strip District and Lower Lawrenceville. She directed us to the following site http://www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us/cp/maps/lower_lawrenceville.html, which shows 33rd Street as the border between the Strip and Lower Lawrenceville.

This information was added on April 11, 2010.

Q: Does Desmone & Associates Architects or the City of Pittsburgh own the steps that run up from Butler Street to Penn Avenue along the side of the Doughboy Statue?

A: Chip Desmone, President of Desmone & Associates Architects assures us that the steps belong to the City of Pittsburgh.

Q: I am trying to get some information about the history and fate of Holy Family Church in Lawrenceville. My mother went to church and school there, and I believe my parents were married there. How can I find out more about this church?


A.J. Grieneisen

A: The items to read are Holy Family Church published by Custombook, Inc., and a booklet titled East European Ethnicity and Its Effect on the Lawrenceville Community of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania by James Wudarczyk (Revised 1999), The first book can be found from time to time in second hand bookstores in the Pittsburgh area, and is also in the library of the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. The booklet is available from the Pennsylvania Department of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Both are reference copies, neither circulate.

The church originally opened on the second floor of the school. It was located on the corner of 41st and Foster Streets. Ground was broken on October 8, 1939 for a new church building on 44th Street, and the parish then moved the school next to the church in 1964.

The church merged October 30, 1993, with St. Mary's (on 46th Street), St. Augustine, and St. John, the Baptist parishes. St. John's was permantly closed as a result of the merger. The new parish was called Our Lady of the Angels. St. Mary's closed a few years ago due to declining contributions and esculating costs to run the parish.

The church building still stands on 44th Street and was used as a worship site by the new parish, but was closed on December 27, 2008.

The new school building has been renamed twice. In 1968 it was called Lawrenceville Catholic Elementary School. Today it is called St. John Neumann School.

The original church/school building was closed in 1964, and stood vacant for many years. About four or five years ago, it was purchased, revamped and renamed as the Catalyst Building. It was used as an "incubator" for small businesses. However, the owners couldn't get enough tenants to make a profit, so they rented the building for use as a school. However, nearby residents raised a number of concerns, and the school was closed in just a few days. The most recent plans are to turn the building into condos.

Q: Do you know of a Methodist Episcopal Grave Yard in the Lawrenceville area? I have some church records from St. Luke's Episcopal Church, closed some years back, that mention a burial in an M.E. Grave Yard in 1887. My Francis family was living on Penn Ave. at the time. I am curious if the cemetery still exists, and if they have records. I might turn up some other information. I just recently found an 1870 census record for my Francis people, the year they arrived, and found they were living with in-laws who had preceded them to Pittsburgh. I thought the Edge family had stayed in England.

Dave Pardoe
Outside Baltimore, Maryland.

A: The only four burial areas that we know of in Lawrenceville are Allegheny Cemetery, St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery, the Washington Burial Ground, and the Fourth Presbyterian Cemetery. The latter was bought by Allegheny Cemetery. The Washington Burial Ground, which is also called the Lawrenceville Burying Ground was closed and the grounds used for Washington School and Carnegie Library. The school is now used as Stephen Foster Community Center.

Try contacting the Pennsylvania Department at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. They keep a file on area cemeteries past and present.

Anyone with additional information can contact Dave at dhpardoe@verizon.net

Q: Virgina Skander asks, “Could you tell me if you have any records for the Colonel O. H. Rippey Post No. 41. (It was a branch of the Grand Army of the Republic.) Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall supplied me with copies from books they had for this Post where my Great Grandfather, Conrad Limpert's name appeared. They were the dues ledger and the Index to the "Descriptive Book", which they do not have. I was wondering if you would have any idea where this Descriptive Book got off to, or have any other records for this Post which might contain my Great Grandfather's name. I'm also interested in historical type information pertaining to this Post. I secured the article from your web site under an article titled "A Day of Remembrance". I would appreciate your letting me know if you can help me in any way. Thanking you in advance for your assistance.”

A: The Rippey Post 41 first met at 43rd and Butler Streets and later at Leslie Park. Unfortunately we don't know when they disbanded.

Anyone with additional information that can help Virgina can contact her at
skanderv@connecttime.net .

Q: Do you have any other e-mail or contact info for michael pianga ?? The previous e-mail was out of commission. His dad fought fritzi zivic twice and my greatuncle was his manager. I would really appreciate it, if someone responded.


A: If anyone can help Jake, he can be reached at bigmac101@cogeco.ca.

Comment: After spending hours reading through your website and catching up with my Lawrenceville roots, I read all of the questions posed over the years to you. Someone asked if there have been any First Ladies who have ever visited Lawrenceville. Although she was never the First Lady, I remember Julie Nixon Eisenhower visited the WAVO school/building at the bottom of 40th street, sometime around 1970 or 1971. It was in the winter. Julie was President Richard Nixon's daughter and married a grandson of President Eisenhower. I was only about 5 years old at the time but I remember my mother taking me to see her. Somewhere in my parents house, there is a picture of me taken with Julie.

Also, Ted Kennedy visited Lawrenceville sometime in 1979 or 1980, as part of his 1980 campaign for President. I was in middle school at St. Mary's on 45th street at the time. I think he visited St. Margarets hospital, then on 46th street, right below the school. The teachers took all of the school kids to the hospital to see him the day he was here.

Great website and I think all of you do a great job.

Mike Viola

Reply: Thank you very much for the kind words.

Q: Tom Schoffstal asks, “1. According to your tours Charles Lockhart was the second richest man in Pittsburgh at the time of his death. If he was the second richest man in Pittsburgh at the time of his death. Was Henry Clay Frick the richest?

2. How many flags were put in for Memorial Day in Allegheny Cemetery? Who paid for them? Who put them in? How many volunteers did it take? How long did it take?

3. Whats the E.Z Hall story?

A: In 1902 Forbes Magazine ranked Henry Clay Frick as the richest man in the world. They ranked him with $11,000,000.00 more than Carnegie. Most likely he would still have been richer than anyone else in Pittsburgh in January 1905 when Charles Lockhart died. Carnegie might have passed them up, but Carnegie was had moved to New York by then and was no longer in Pittsburgh although he made frequent trips back here.

They are placed by the Allegheny County Bureau of Veteran Affairs out of Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland. They are paid for by Allegheny County. The volunteers come from the AMVETS on 45th Street and Saint John Neumann School. Much depends on the weather. We don’t have an exact number of flags used for this project, but we do know that the number increases each year.

A few years ago E. Z. Hall's family was looking for his grave. They only knew that he was buried in Pittsburgh, but couldn't find where in Pittsburgh. Bill Reynolds of the Lawrenceville Historical Society researched it, and he found that there was an E. Z. Hail buried in Allegheny Cemetery. Further research showed that all the information (his unit, home town, religion, etc.) matched Hall's information. There was no other information to support the existence of anyone named E. Z. Hail. Hence it was concluded that the name on the tombstone was a typographical error and that the man buried in the grave was E. Z. Hall.

The government provided a new tombstone. The LHS, Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, and Allegheny Cemetery all got together to provide a ceremony for the unveiling of the new tombstone. Hall's descendents came from all across the country to see it. PBS was on hand to film the event and they used it for their show on cemeteries.

This information was added on March 27, 2010.

Q: In my younger days I remember all the fun I had ice skating on the pond at Arsenal Park. In the summer there would be a live band playing in the evenings. They would set up in the space between the pond and the stone block building. There was a waterfall with water trickling down and fish swimming below. What I would like to know is:

When was the pond originally built?

How deep was it?

When did they fill it in? Why?

Did someone drown in it? When? Who?

I would appreciate any information you have on this.

A: We have little official information on the Arsenal pond, but it has the topic of many conversations throughout the years.

The pond may have originally been a natural pond, or may have been man-made to accommodate the Allegheny Arsenal. If it was man-made, then it would most likely have been built around 1814 or 1816. The powder magazine (now sometimes called "the Hut") may have been put in its location so that the pond could provide water in case of a fire. Its water was actually used to fight both fires at the Arsenal.

Most likely it was originally clay lined, but was converted to its current status during the W.P.A. renovations of Arsenal Park in the 1930's.

Ice skating at the was a popular pass time for city residents for many years and continued in the park until the 1970's or 1980's. We heard that the city put up warning signs about thin ice and told kids not to skate, but some kid didn't listen and fell in. The kid's parents threatened to sue. The pond was drained and remained so ever since. Other rumors were that the city just didn't want to pay for the upkeep, to have the pond relined, or pay for the liability insurance.

To the best of our knowledge nobody ever drowned in the pond.

We do not have any information on the pond's depth. If anyone can help this individual, they can be reached at njz1947@verizon.net.

Q: would you kindly pinpoint the location of the Fort Pitt Foundry at the moment the Rodman cannons were cast? Was it on Etna Street between 12th and 13th streets and the Allegheny River? or some other spot?

very best regards & thanks!

Frank Toker A: We checked a number of sources to determine the exact location of the Fort Pitt Foundry at the time of the Rodman cannon castings during the Civil War. The best we could find is from Western Pennsylvanians, edited by Charles Alexander Rook, Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania Biographical Association, 1923. This source indicates that, "Prior to 1825 the Fort Pitt Foundry . . . was founded on or near its present location in Pittsburgh." (See page 155.)

Apparently, the foundry burned in 1858 and was rebuilt. The 1872 Atlas of the Cities of Pittsburgh, Allegheny and Adjoining Boroughs shows the foundry bounded by 12th, 13th, and Etna Streets, and the Allegheny River. The 1923 Atlas of Pittsburgh shows the foundry in the same location.

Q: I have been searching for the family that owned a grocery store at 4400 Penn Avenue, and I have always assumed that it would be near 44th Street and Penn? This was ~1860-1880. In any event, I would be interested if anyone has any information on this family: Timothy, head Johanna, wife Ella, daughter Bertram, son ( I think this may be Bernard)(and ?? other children)

Johanna, Timothy and "Bernard" are buried in St.Mary's Cemetery in Lawrenceville.


A: Anyone that can help Joan can contact her at VFORSTEELERS@aol.com.

Q: My question is about the street numbers in the Lawrenceville area. I found an ancestor in the 1875 City Directory and it gives a house number on Penn Ave. where she lived . I know the wards have changed over the years, but what about the house numbers?


A: The City of Pittsburgh did indeed change some of the house numbers (as well as some of the street names) when Lawrenceville was annexed in 1868 or shortly thereafter.

This information was added on March 21, 2010.

Q: Before the 1960's, there was a movie theater called "The Dome" in the 5100 Block of Butler Street in Lawrenceville. Do have any information on The Dome, when it started and closed, other names of the theater, owner, capacity, etc.? Any help will be most appreciated.

Gene Scott,
former Pittsburgher now in Livonia, Michigan

A: Try as we might we have never been able to find out anything about the Dome. We do know that it was located at 5133 1/2 Butler Street, and we were told that it was a very low class place. Several people told us that during the 1930's it had milk crates for seats and was infested with rats. Beyond that we have no information.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Gene at genocam2@att.net.

Q: Jude Wudarczyk writes - The Lawrenceville Historical Society has a photo that the Dormont Historical Society donated to it. The picture is that of a Bloomfield streetcar. Did this line run through Lawrenceville? I can't tell for certain, but I'm guessing that the houses in the picture were the old houses on the 3400 block of Penn Avenue. They would be the ones that were torn down to make the first new batch of homes that are standing today.

The picture appears to be vintage 1920-1930'ish.

A: We had to go to our resident streetcar enthusist, Rich Bassett, for help on this one. Rich tells us, “Before the opening of the 16th St. Bridge, there was no 77/54. In fact, the life span of the 77/54 was probably shorter than the bus route 54C which replaced it. Before the merger of the "Bloomfield" line with the "Carrick-Oakland", there were two Bloomfield car lines. The details I am providing are from a seach of the year 1920.

“The 92 Bloomfield ran out Penn (which was two ways then) to Main, to Liberty, to Millvale Avenue, to Centre, to Craig, to Forbes to Downtown. The end of the line in town was 6th and Liberty. This route ran clockwise only.

“The 72 Bloomfield - was the total reverse of the 92 running counter-clockwise.

“At that time, it was not uncommon to have long, clockwise and counter clockwise loops, running on major streets.

“I am not sure of the date of the merging of the routes into the 77/54, but the picture you see is either the 72 or the 92, depending on the direction of travel.”

Q: I found your very impressive website yesterday and was very excited to see an entry from the Western PA Genealogical Society Quarterly that provided important information regarding a long lost ancestor. Thank you to Suzanne Johnston who abstracted the article and to the Lawrenceville Historical Society for publishing it.

I'm sending in my membership form and fee today!

Now to my query:

The only information I have ever found regarding my ancestor George Moffat is a ship manifest and an entry in the 1850 US Census records that locates him, his sister Jane, her husband, William Stewart, a James Moffat and a William Moffat as living in Lawrenceville. I know that he married Catherine Dunn (there is much information available regarding her and her family) and that they had two sons, one in 1852 and one in 1854. There is no record of George after that. I know that she opened a dry goods store in McKeesport as a widow and married Andrew Soles about 1860. Thanks to your website I now know that "George Moffat of Peebles Twp and Catherine Dunn of Pittsburgh were married by Rev. John Douglas on August 6, 1851" - it seems to indicate that this comes from the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church records.

Could someone please help me expand on this information. Do any records from that church still exist? If so, how could I access them? Have the cemetery records in and around Lawrenceville been compiled in any way - if so, would George Moffat be on any of the lists? Catherine Dunn Moffat Soles is buried in Versailles Cemetery in McKeesport, and George's sister Jane is buried in Union Dale Cemetery in Sharpsburg, but we have never found any record of when George died or where he was buried.

I was named for Catherine Dunn so this couple has been the focus of my genealogy research for many years, but this is the first breakthrough in a very long time. Of course, finding where George came from in Ireland is my eventual goal - I've visited Catherine's birthplace in Aidrie, Scotland.

I would greatly appreciate any assistance or advice.

Cathy Bekian
Los Angeles, CA

A: Thank you for your kind words about our website. Unfortunately, we do not have any information on George Moffat or his family.

If your ancesotr had died in Lawrenceville during the mid-nineteenth century, it is possible that he was buried in the Washington Burial Ground, which was also called the Lawrenceville Burying Ground. For the story of this small, but important burying ground, please read Monster on the Allegheny . . . and Other Lawrenceville Stories. The last known burial there took place in 1879.

We have tried to locate the records from this burial ground, but were told that they were turned over to the City of Pittsburgh or that the Pittsburgh Board of Public Education had been given them when the Washington School was erected on the grounds. Both institutions claim that they do not have the records. Our fear is that the records were disposed of many long years ago, or are lost in some warehouse or other storage facitlity.

We don't know where the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church records are, but we do know that this church became the United Presbyterian Church. The 7th United Presbyterian Church in Lawrenceville was located on 44th Street at Cessna Way. It is now a parking lot for Zalewski's Funeral Home. Try contacting the Pennsylvania Department at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh or the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania to see if they can tell you about the records.

If anyone can help, please contact Cathy at cbekian1@ca.rr.com.

Q: Gene Scott writes, “I grew up in Pittsburgh in the 1930s-40s and frequented the library on Fisk Street in Lawrenceville. My sister Patricia wrote a family history book a few years ago about The Scotts From The Hill in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

I need some information of the 62nd Street Bridge, also known as the Sen. Robert D. Fleming and Sharpsburg Bridge, rebuilt in 1960. Can you tell me when and why the earlier bridge it replaced was torn down and when (approximate year) the originial 62nd Street Bridge was built? Thank you.

A: The following information is taken from Jim Wudarczyk’s booklet, which is titled Historic Sites and Lost Landmarks of Lawrenceville pages 84-85.

62nd Street Bridge

The first bridge built at Sixty-second Stree was a wooden truss bridge in 1856. A later bridge of wood construction was built between 1899 and 1900 at a cost to the county of $324,923.80 This was a toll bridge until June of 1912 when this and other county bridges were made free of charge. A deck cantilever steel bridge with a 400-foot span, measuring 2,100 feet overall, was erected in 1961. Since the opening of the steel bridge, two fires caused major damages, which caused the closing of the bridge for varying intervals.

This is the only information we have on the bridge. The wooden bridges were all replaced for fire safety reasons. Officials did not want fires spreading from one side of the river to the other. Also, burning bridges were prone to collapse causing the fire to spread down river, and cluttering the waterways with burned debris.

Hope this helps.

Q: Hello. I am trying to find information on my great uncle, Michael J. Haggerty. He was from Lawrenceville, St. Mary's Parish, and was killed in WW I. He was originally listed as a deserter, but his body was later found in France, and he was returned to Lawrenceville and buried I think in Calvary Cemetery. I have an old newspaper clipping, but no date is on it.

Thank you.

Michelle Moore.

A: Unfortunately, we don’t have any information on this gentleman.

Anyone with information on Michael J. Haggerty is asked to contact Michelle Moore at Schmoore@aol.com.

This information was added on February 21, 2010.

Q: Al Mann writes, “I am writing another article on the history of petroleum in Pittsburgh, this time for a technical journal, and I want to include a little more information on Samuel Kier's role. In a previous correspondence you mentioned that Kier was the Burgess of Lawrenceville in 1864. Was that just for one year, or for several years? What years? Was that an appointed or elected office?”

A: Lawrenceville historian/author Jim Wudarczyk provides us with the following information.

Samuel M. Kier served as Burgess in 1864. The position of burgess was the highest position in the Borough of Lawrenceville and the term lasted one year. There were a few men who served multiple terms but not back-to-back. These were: John Sarber 1834 and again 1836; G. S. Bates 1845, 1847, 1849; and Jarvis Wainwright 1844 and 1846. The last elected burgess was J. C. Buffum, who was elected in 1867.

Additional information on Kier might be found on the Historical Pittsburgh Project database and Google News Archive.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Al at alfred.mann@verizon.net.

Q: Tim Burke wrote to ask - My GGG Grandfather, Henry W. Hoak, was born in Pittsburgh on Christmas day, 1824. His interment records show place of birth as "Inside Garrison Wall, Pgh".

I grew up in Beaver Falls and attended the University of Pittsburgh, but I don't remember any address or neighborhood like that.

I was able to find only a few things on the web. The Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Cities for 1862 seems to list a few folks' addresses as near the Garrison wall in Pittsburgh or Lawrenceville. In a History of Allegheny County Pennsylvania (orig pub 1889) I found a reference to a man named William Gamble who, sometime between 1807 and 1815, "superintended the building of the garrison wall". I sent an e-mail to the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh. They replied that their best guess was that "inside garrison wall" may refer to the Allegheny Arsenal in Lawrenceville. If Henry’s father was stationed there and his father's wife was there with him, she may have given birth inside the walls of the Arsenal.

I’ve started to read up on the history of the Arsenal but nearly all of what I find is related to the explosion in 1862. Are there any records of who was stationed there in 1824? Would it have been rare for a baby to have been born within the Arsenal walls?

Any information you can share would be greatly appreciated.

A: Here's a little infomation that we can share with you regarding the Allegheny Arsenal and Henry W. Hoaks. He served in Company B of the Ninth Regiment, (see http://www.pacivilwar.com/cwpa09b.html). He served under Captain William Sirwell, who was supposedly born at the Allegheny Arsenal, so it wasn't unknown for people to be born there. Ron Gancas wrote a book on Sirwell titled, The Gallant Seventy-Eighth.

Jim Wudarczyk wrote a book on the Allegheny Arsenal titled Pittsburgh's Forgotten Allegheny Arsenal. So far, it is the only history of the Arsenal of which I know, although John Carnprobst is writing another, which is reported to exceed one thousand pages and still hasn't been sent to a publisher. Jim's book is available from Closson Press.

Grounds for the Arsenal were purchased from William Foster, (the father of the famous composer, Stephen Foster) in 1814, so William Gamble could not have worked on the Allegheny Arsenal before then.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Tim at TimothyB@courtsquaregroup.com.

Q: Ron Milliken writes - In your article Faith of Our Fathers: Lawrenceville’s Religious Heritage you mention the Second German Methodist Church at 167 40th Street.

My ancestors Harry Warner and Sarah Milligan were married there on April 12, 1900. Do you know where I may be able to find the church records of that marriage?

A: At this time we don't know, but we'll look into it for you and see if we can find anything out for you.

If anyone can help, please contact Ron at rmilliken@stny.rr.com

Q: What do you know about the houses on Ligonier Street? How old are they? Were they originally rental properties? Who owned them - the railroad?

My great grandfather lived at 3432 Ligonier Street in the 1880s - 1914 or so. His name was Thomas Lawrence Brassell. He had 11 children, and his wife, Mariah, died in the house during child birth in 1892.

Any information you can provide would be appreciated.

A: As far as we know the Pittsburgh Junction Railroad did not own the houses on Ligonier Street. They were owned by individuals. The 1890 maps that appear on the Historic Pittsburgh Project website show that most of the lots had owners and buildings. We don't know when the houses were built.

You would have to do a lot by lot search to find out when the individual houses were built.

Based on what we were told, there would have been a mix of owners and renters living on this street during the time in question. Often renters lived in one or two rooms. During this time period, it was unusual for one family to live in an entire house. Sometimes different branches of the same family lived on different floors of the same house. For example, you might have lived on the first floor and your parents and single aunt or uncle would have lived on the second, while your aunt, uncle, and cousins lived on the third.

Q: Hannah Steiner writes - I am looking for information on my Great, Great Grandfather Owen Smythe/Smith 1825-1919, and his son also "Owen Smith" 1877-1954. I will call them #1 and #2 to distinguish one from the other. Owen #1 lived in Lawrenceville from approximately 1870 and died there in 1919 at the age of 98.

*Owen Smith #1 was born in Ireland. He supposedly immigrated here in 1854.

*I have no 1860 census for him.

*I find him on the 1870 census in Pittsburgh Ward 20 as "Orin" Smith with Julia (his wife) age 36 , Mary (presumably a daughter), and Rosie aged 88 (presumably his Mother). Owen, Rosie and Julia are all listed as born in Ireland.

*I find him on the 1880 census in Pittsburgh with wife Julia M age 40 this time,and sons Matthew 6 , John 5, and my Great Grandfather Owen #2 age 3......along the left edge is handwritten "St Marys Cemetery". Daughter Mary is not listed on this census as I have information that she died Oct 1879 at the age of 10 from Diptheria (she is buried in St Marys Cemetery).

*I have no 1890 Census

*Julia dies in 1894 (buried in St Marys Cemetery).

*In the 1900 Census, Owen #1 is living in Conemaugh Township with sons John, and Owen #2.

*In the 1910 census Owen #1 is living in Conemaugh Township with son John.

*In 1919, Owen #1 dies at the age of 98, and is buried in St Marys Cemetery.

St Marys Cemetery was kind enough to share their records with our family, and from that we found that Owen #1 was an employee of the cemetery. There are 14 family members buried in 6 unmarked gravesites in Section O/Lot 159. The cemetery records have notated under Owen #1 records "Little Sisters Of The Poor"

My questions are:

*Any information at all on this family would be so deeply appreciated.

*Owen #1’s wife Julia M's maiden name.

*Owen #1’s mother was Rosie, but what was her husbands name, and her maiden name?

*Could Owen #1 lived at Little Sisters Of The Poor when he died, or did they just pay for the arrangements? What can youtell me about people who resided at Little Sisters Of The Poor in 1919?

*I was told that he lived on the grounds of the St Marys cemetery and probably got the grave sites for free, where on the Cemetery grounds would an employee have lived ?

*Several Funeral homes are mentioned in the records they supplied me with. I believe they are no longer in existence. If anyone could tell me who bought them out, if anyone, I would appreciate it, as they may have pertinent records. "Byrne Funeral Home", "Giltinan Funeral Home", "Kirwin Flannery Funeral Home", "JJ Flannery Funeral Home,” and "Carney Funeral Home".

*I would like to know the exact address where they resided, and on the 1880 census it says MEXNYPOMABY for the Street Name. I can't find any mention of this anywhere, and it is an unusual word, what is Mexnypomaby?

*Is section O in St Marys the Pauper Section? Handwritten notes called it "Owen Smith’s lot" as if he owned it.

* Owen #2 was in the Lawrenceville area in the 1880 census,1910 living on Bigelow Street working as a "cemetery driver". He lived in Indiana County as well. I have been told by family members that he was a "Boxer", and never realized the strong connection to boxing in Lawrenceville until I started researching it. Any information on his Boxing history would be great. That's all I know.

*Any information on any of the other names of individuals buried in the St Marys Cemetery unmarked family plot:

*Rose Smyth-buried 7-28-1870 age 88 (probably Owen #1 Mother)
*Mary Smyth- buried 10-10-1879 age 10 (Owen #1 daughter)
*Joseph McConnell- buried 7-7-1881 age 3 months
*Matthew Smith- buried 4-30-1882 age 55
*James McAtlee- buried 8-12-1884 age 23
*Julia Smythe - buried 2-28-1894 age 56 (Owen #1 wife)
*Mary E Smyth - buried 8-28-1911 age 1 month (Owen #2 daughter) *Rose Smith - buried 2-6-1912 age 82
*Margaret Ruth Smith - buried 5-19-1916 age 1
*Matthew J Smythe - buried 8-18-1917 age 45 (probably Owen #1 son)
*Owen Smythe - buried 1-1-1919 age 98 (Owen #1)
*Mary (Carr) Murphy - buried 4-24-1928 age 62
*Edward O Murphy - buried 7-26-1933 age 77
*John Smyth - buried 12-27-1949 age 75 (probably Owen #1 son) < br>
A: You have so many questions here that we don't know where to start. This will take some time.

We do see Owen Smith Living on Penn Avenue in St. Mary's Cemetery in the 1879-1880 City Directory, which leads us to believe he was the gate keeper as the gatekeeper's house was on Penn Avenue. It was demolished about ten years ago or so. < br>
MEXNYPOMABY STREET seems to be a typo of some sort. As far as we are able to tell, it only appears on the Historic Pittsburgh Website on the page dealing with the 1880 census. We cross referenced some of the men who are listed as living on this street against the City Directories of that time (1880-1882) and found that all the men we checked except on were employed by either Allegheny or St. Mary’s Cemeteries in Lawrenceville. < br>
A fire in the Commerce Building of Washington, D.C. destroyed most of the 1890 census.

Anyone able to help is asked to contact Hannah Steiner at haroldeatyourbeets@yahoo.com.

This information was added on January 20, 2010.

Input from others: Bill Chislett writes - I used to run a Chislett Family History Group and produce a magazine. One of our members was John L Chislett (lives in South Carolina) a descendant of John Chislett and it was through him that I got a copy of the Society of Pennsylvania Newsletter that described Chislett's influence on the architecture of Pittsburgh. In consequence I researched his background here in Bath and Somerset and included an article in The Chislett Chronicle December 2001 that I used to produce. We were already aware of Chislett's design of the cemetery at Allegheny and Crown Hill Indianapolis.

Doug Chaffey (lives in Pittsburgh) also a member of our group and John L Chislett are acquainted and from memory went to the same college/school in Pittsburgh and both attend reunions. (There are Chaffey Chislett family connections).

I no longer run the group and I folded it up after 13 years and 26 Chronicles due to lack of interest by fellow Chisletts. I will photocopy for you the article and send when we get back from holiday.Off tomorrow for a week. I'm sorry I cannot send it by e-mail as it was typed up on an old word processor.

I came across your web site by surfing the web and found it most interesting. Re John Chislett - He was born in Keinton Mandeville Somerset in 1800 the son of William Chislett a stone mason. John Chislett trained as an architect/sculptor in Bath Somerset and was associated with as far as I can ascertain Walter Harris a builder; Joseph Harris a sculptor, builder and modeler and am E. Harris an organist and teacher of the pianoforte.

Before he emigrated from England to the USA (I think via Canada) the was living in Beaminster Dorset from 1823 - 1830.

In Pigot's 1830 Directory of Dorset he advertised himself as a sculptor and professor of Music. Similarly the Directory of British Sculptors credits him with several elegant monuments.

There are many similarities between the Chislett designed buildings in Pittsburgh and those of Bath. In particular the Third Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh and Walcot Church Bath. The facade of Sham Castle a folly designed by the celebrated John Wood and the gateway to Arno's Court resembles that of John Chislett's Gateway to Allegheny Cemetery.

John became a USA citizen in 1838.

As yet, I am unable to connect John's family with mine, albeit Keinton Mandeville is not far from Seavington St. Mary from whence my antecedents came.

If anyone can help Bill, he can be reached at Magbillchisbauk@aol.com.

Q: Aimee Matlack Heinly writes - My ancestor Joseph Matlack appears in the 1840 census for Peebles Twp/Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. His wife, Emily McGregor(y) Matlack was born 13 March 1814, and died 19 March 1843 in Pittsburgh. I am trying to find information on her birth/death that would lead me to information on her parents. Joseph remarried and moved to Ohio after Emily's death. Joseph and Emily's only son (my great-great-great-grandfather) was William Jancy Matlack, born July 30, 1842 in Pittsburgh.

Would there be a list of cemeteries or churches that might house information from this time period?

A: The Historic Pittsburgh website has the city directories for that era. These directories list the churches and cemeteries or the times.

Aimee can be reached at aimeeheinly@optonline.net.

Q: At the end of the Civil War my great grandmother Catherine Keating ran a store and lived at 401 44th St, on the corner of Sherrod St. Her daughter Johanna Keating married Patrick Joseph Bowler, and they also lived on the property til WW1.

Any info you have on them or the store would be greatly appreciated!

Susan Friday - susan@overchargerecovery.org

A: So far we have only found the following information.

Patrick Bowler worked as a machinist in 1897. He lived at 44th and Sherrod, which was at that time called Sherman Street. The name changed to Sherrod Street probably around the time Allegheny City merged with Pittsburgh in 1907.

The 1898 City Directory shows - Mrs. P Bowler, of Mrs. C Keating, 345 - 44th. This entry doesn't seem to make sense. However, the following year we see Mrs. Patrick Bowler as a grocer and living at 345 - 44th Street. Patrick lived at the same address, and was listed as a laborer.

The 1901 directory shows Josephine Bowler as the grocer living at 345 - 44th Street with no mention of Catherine.

In 1902 it is Patrick that shows up as the grocer with no mention of either Catherine or Josephine.

Catherine Keating pops up in the 1903 City Directory living at 345 - 44th Street. Patrick Bowler appears as a driver.

In 1904 Josephine lives at the house. In 1905 Josephine is listed as the grocer. The phone number is Fisk 9016-J. By 1910 we find Patrick J. as the grocer, with various other members of the family living at 345 - 44th Street. These include Mrs. James Bowler and Ralph, a telegraph operator.

In 1915 we find a Joseph Bowler living nearby in 4418 Garwood Way and Mrs. Jennie Bowler operating the grocery store at 345 - 44th Street, but residing at 4811 Baum Blvd. Patrick J. was operating a grocery store at the 4811 Baum Blvd. address. Several other Bowlers were living near the Lawrenceville store. They were scattered on Geneva Street, 45th Street, and Garwood Way.

We found no record of them after 1915 living on 44th Street after 1915.

Q: Susan B. Evans writes - My Keoppel family lived in Lawrenceville area in the early 1900. During the early days of WWI My great grandfather was accused of Seditious Utterances against the U.S.(National archives #178875 U.S. Attorney/U.S. Marshal- Pgh. Pa) My Question is how long did this sort of questioning go on. How can I find more info on this case?

Also, sighted in this case was a German society B.V.U. No.2 in Bloomfield on Rosina Alley. He was the door keeper on Sunday. What was this society? Does it still exist? Can I find any records from it.

He was not convicted.

A: We could not find any information on the Keoppel family, the B. V. U. , or this incident. If anyone can help, please contact Susan at jrevans3@gmail.com.

Although the B.V.U. mentioned is in Bloomfield, we would be most interested learning more about this organization and Susan’s great-grandfather.

Q: Joseph J. Tribendis writes - I am researching the McClure family in Lawrenceville, specifically James T. McClure and his brothers Nesbit Knox McClure, John Williams McClure; sisters Elizabeth Hindman McClure, Francis Parmiter McClure, and Mary Jane (McClure) Kirk. They all lived in Lawrenceville from about 1830-1870. James, Nesbit, and John were boot and shoe makers. Elizabeth and Francis never married. Mary Jane married Robert Kirk and moved to Allegheny City. Their parents were both born in County Down, Northern Ireland in about 1875 and named William and Jane McClure. All of the children were born in PA from about 1795-1812.

James was involved in Borough activities and was a charter member of St. John’s Episcopal Church in 1833 and was the town Burgess in 1837.

I know that James and Nesbit are buried in Allegheny Cemetery, but cannot find burial places for the rest. In Elizabeth Hindman McClure’s will it states…“that my body be decently interred in the Washington grave yard in the Borough of Lawrenceville, according to the rites and ceremonies of the Episcopal Church.” I assume she belonged to St. John’s.

My specific questions:

Where is (or was) the “Washington grave yard”?

What other cemeteries were there in Lawrenceville?

Where might I find B/M/D records for St. John’s Episcopal Church or its predecessor church?

A: Here's what we found so far:

James T. McClure - The Second United Presbyterian Church : late First Associate Reformed Church of Pittsburgh, Penn'a. from 1793 to 1876 mentions him as a preacher. (see page 24)

Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny cities ... 1869-1870 says that he was Secretary of Washington School in the 17th Ward. This is now the 9th Ward. The building is still standing on Hatfield Street, but a rumor is circulating around the neighborhood that there are plans to tear it down as it is in very bad shape.

Nesbit Knox McClure - No information found.

John Williams McClure - There are numerous hits for John McClure on the Historic Pittsburgh website, too many for us to search out. You'll have to do it yourself as we don't know if any of these men are from your family or not. There are no hits for either John Williams McClure or John William McClure.

Elizabeth Hindman McClure - No information found.

Francis Parmiter McClure - Many hits for Francis McClure using the Historic Pittsburgh, but nothing for Francis Parmiter McClure.

Mary Jane (McClure) Kirk - No information found.

The Washington Burying Ground was located in Lawrenceville between Main and Fisk Streets. Some history of the graveyard can be found in the Lawrenceville Historical Society's book Monster on the Allegheny . . . and Other Lawrenceville Stories. (See http://www.lhs15201.org/publications.htm to order on line or send us a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a list of stores that carry our publications in the Pittsburgh area. We have never been able to locate the Burying records for this institution.

The other cemeteries in Lawrenceville are St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery and the Fourth Presbyterian Cemetery. The latter was absorbed into Allegheny Cemetery.

As far as I've been able to determine, the church records for St. John's Episcopal Church are stored at the Diocese. The archivist can be reached at:

Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh
900 Oliver Building
535 Smithfield Street
Pittsburgh, PA, 15222-2467

Fax 412-471-5591

Anyone with additional information can contact Joseph at jtribendis@ventura-group.com.

Q: Gwynne Potts asks - Are you able to tell me what became of Croghan's Hall? I see from litigation that followed his 1782 death that very little was left there after he moved East. Is there a source in the Pittsburgh area that explains the Croghan-Trent-Smallman-Ward relationships better than the two extant biographies? Lastly, is there an area museum or archive that focuses upon the William Croghan, Jr -Mary O'Hara connections to George Croghan and William Croghan, Sr?

A: The Lawrenceville Historical Society only concerns itself with Lawrenceville matters. As Etna lies across the Allegheny River from Lawrenceville, it is not a matter of our concern. You'll need to contact the Pennsylvania Dept. of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh for information concerning this structure. However, Croghan's Plantation house is believed to have been in the vicinity of McCandless Avenue and Butler Street in Lawrenceville. Croghan is said to have lost his plantation house when it was burned down by Indians during Pontiac's Uprising of 1763. He is then said to have rebuilt a large, finer house, which was called "Croghan's Hall" in Lawrenceville. (See Monster on the Allegheny . . . and Other Lawrenceville Stories.) We don't know if people are confusing the colonial structure in Etna with the one that was built in Lawrenceville or if the Etna house belonged to another Croghan. The fate of the Lawrenceville "Hall" is unkown to us.

When you ask about the "Croghan-Trent-Smallman-Ward relationships" are you referring to blood relationships or business relationships? Also are you looking for some way in which the four are connected as a group or the individual relationships of Trent with Croghan, Ward with Croghan, and Smallman with Croghan?

Finally, we know of no museum or archive that focuses upon the William Croghan, Jr -Mary O'Hara connections to George Croghan and William Croghan, Sr. Originally, we were informed that William Croghan Sr. and George Croghan, the Indian Trader, who may have been the first white man to set foot in what is now Kentucky were brothers. However, the following source A Century and a Half of Pittsburg and Her People, vol. 2, by John Newton Boucher, New York, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1908, claims that George Croghan, the Indian trader was no relation to later day Croghans. However, General George Croghan was a brother to William Croghan, Sr. The two Georges were not the same person. (See page 406).

Anyone with more information can reached Gwynne at gwynnepotts@insightbb.com.

More from Gwynne Potts: Actually, Major William Croghan, Sr was the nephew of George Croghan the Trader and came to Philadelphia from Dublin in 1768 to live under the protection of his uncle. Colonel George Croghan of War of 1812 fame was the major's son and Will Croghan, Jr's brother. I am the former Executive Director of Historic Locust Grove in Louisville, Kentucky, George Rogers Clark's last home, and, of course, the home of GRC's sister, Lucy, and her husband, Major William Croghan.

I asked about the Smallman-Trent-Croghan connection to see if a definitive relationship had been established through research in PA. I know Smallman and Croghan were cousins- would just love to know who the parents were as a way of learning more about George Croghan.

This information was added on January 18, 2010.

Q: Susan Englert, who helped bring us the Pool Party at Leslie Park last year, sends us the following questions.

Do you have any information on:

1) Leslie Park Pool Historian Mark Miller, who works with City Aquatics, gave me the name of a historian who apparently wrote about Leslie Park Pool and Park: Stevwing. (No first name available) He fought the city when they slated our pool for closing.

Do you know him? or Have a contact for him?

2) Leslie Park Pool Plaque Mark Miller said there's a plaque that used to be in the Community Center on the second floor of the now-1-story bathhouse. It had a very nice history of the pool and the park. He thought perhaps the Lawrenceville Historical Society took posession of it after the fire. Any leads on that?

A: Unfortunately, the Lawrenceville Historical Society has no information on Stevwing or the Leslie Park Pool plaque. If you can help, please contact us and/or Susan at susan_englert@hotmail.com.

Q: My name is Chip Desmone, President of Desmone & Associates Architects. We are in the former Pa. Nat. Bank at Doughboy Square, owned by my family.

I am doing a little family research for my mother.

My Great-Great Grandfather was John C. O’Donnell and his brother was Cornelius. They are buried along with a few other ancestors in St, Mary’s. It is my understanding from All Sorts of Pittsburgher’s that he had a grocery store across the street at 3340 Butler St. He was apparently a Council member in the 16th Ward. I have not been able to locate any more info on him. Can you help me? Are there any photos of this grocery store (or him) archived anywhere or articles about what he may have done while representing the 16th ward?

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

A: Your Great Grandfather also had a grocery store in the Strip District. It was in the 1200 block of Penn Avenue. He was also the Pittsburgh Postmaster (appointed March, 1894) (see http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~pabutler/1895/95x09.htm ) after having been a grocer.

He served on a committee for the formation of St. John, the Baptist Roman Catholic Church. (See http://www.lhs15201.org/articles_b.asp?ID=1.) The Church opened in 1879.

The only John C. O'Donnell we could find in St. Mary's Cemetery is buried in section W. The tombstone says he served in Company E Pennsylvania Volunteers and died on July 7, (1915?). There are several O'Donnell markers, but no first names attached. We don't know if this is your John C. O'Donnell or not.

We contacted both the Republican and Democratic Headquarters and the Allegheny County Bureau of Elections to see if they have any information on your Great Grandfather. Unfortunately, none of them had records that far back.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Chip at CDesmone@desmone.com.

Q: Suzi Farabaugh, writes - Hello- first of all....I love the BURGH! Actually, I lived there for several years. My genealogical lineage has strong ties in Pittsburgh. I am trying to find more information on my grgrgr grandfather John T. Rees' business . It was along Penn Avenue in the mid to late 1800's. He owned a stone/ monument business called John T. Rees and Sons. Later it was called Rees and Sons.

I also wondered what resources you have available, and if you do research there. I also have the Moreland Family that I have strong ties with which also lived in Allegheny County. My grgrgr uncle was a police officer. Nathan Moreland. I wondered if there is a police roster from the mid to late 1800's available as well. I have not found one yet.

Can you also tell me what churches were in the Allegheny County/area-around 1870-1900? Which churches would have used Allegheny Cemetery, and which would have used St. Mary's?

A: There is a small write up about John Rees in a book titled History and Commerce of Pittsburgh and Environs : Consisting of Allegheny, McKeesport, Braddock and Homestead, 1893-4.

This book mentions that the stone cutting business had two locations on being at 1684 Penn Avenue and the other at 4620 Penn Avenue.

A John Rees also appears as a donor of $40.00 to the Relief Fund for those that suffered in the 1845 Pittsburgh Fire. (See Report of the Committee of Distribution of the Relief Fund contributed for the relief of the sufferers by the fire at Pittsburgh, April 10, 1845.) The 1896 City Directory has John living at 5405 Camelia Street. Earlier directories have him living at 54th Street near Butler Street.

We do only research related to Lawrenceville. There is no fee, but donations to the Lawrenceville Historical Society are greatly appreciated.

The 1879-1880 city directory gives a Nathan Moreland as living on Butler Street near the Standard Station on the Allegheny Vallety Railroad. He was a boiler maker by trade. He apparently changed occupations in 1887 becoming a teamster. It's not until 1898 that he finally appears as a policeman. By 1915 he's living at 5644 Harrison Street.

A listing of the cemeteries that were located in Allegheny County should appear in the city directory of a given year. Many of the older directories are available on line via the "Historic Pittsburgh Project." The Catholic churches would have used St. Mary’s Cemetery and the Protestant Churches would have used Allegheny Cemetery.

We know of no police rosters of old.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Suzie at suzif@comcast.net.

foster_bot.jpg (15553 bytes)

Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864)

Born on July 4, 1826, while the country celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence, Stephen Foster has become Lawrenceville’s most famous native son. He was the son of William Barclay Foster, founder of Lawrenceville and Eliza Tomlinson. Foster’s parents moved to Allegheny City (now Pittsburgh’s North Side) when Stephen was very small.

He developed a love for music at a very tender age of about three or four, and from that point forward there was no stopping him. Foster is considered by many to be the world’s foremost composer, and is the only person to have written two state songs – “My Old Kentucky Home” (Kentucky) and “Swannee River” (Florida). A third song “Oh! Susanna” was considered by the state of California as being their state song, but it was rejected.

Today he is considered the founder of “Pop Music” and his works are played throughout the world. There are many books written on Stephen Foster and the University of Pittsburgh maintains the Stephen Foster Memorial Center in his honor. It is located in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh close to the Cathedral of Learning.


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