History of New Brighton Borough, Beaver County, Pa., Part 1
From: History of Beaver County Pennsylvania
and its Centennial Celebration
BY: Rev. Joseph H. Bausman, A. M.
Knickerbocker Press New York, 1904


NEW BRIGHTON is located on the east bank of the Beaver River, about two miles from its junction with the Ohio River, and is built upon what was designated as tracts Nos. 91 to 95, in Leet's district of Depreciation Lands.

Tract 91 began at the south line of the town, extending to Eighteenth Street, contained 160 acres, and was patented to Mark Wilcox, January 19, 1786. It was conveyed to Benj. Wykoop, March 20, 1793; by his heirs to David Shields and James Allison, November 21, 1834; and by them to Robert, David, and Hugh Mitchell, December 24, 1834, the last conveyance of the tract as a whole.

Tract 92 extended from Eighteenth Street to Thirteenth Street, contained 232 acres, ands was patented to John Lukens, January 18, 1786. It was conveyed to Thomas Lukens by John Lukens's executor, April 18, 1807; from Thomas Lukens, by sheriff's sale, in 1811, to James Allison and Parker Campbell; and by them to John and Charles Lukens in 1829, who partitioned it between them the same year, and then began its subdivision into lots.

Tract 93 extended from Thirteenth Street to Eighth Street, contained 262 acres, and was patented to Elias Boudinot and William Bradford, April 20, 1786. William Bradford died, and his interest passed to his brother, Thomas Bradford. In a partition between Bradford and Boudinot in 1812, the tract was taken by Bradford. The Bradfords came from Philadelphia, and their ancestor, William Bradford, came from England with William Penn in 1682. Bradford conveyed the tract to David Townsend, August 11, 1829, who laid out a considerable part of it in lots, many of which he sold during his lifetime, and many were sold after his death by his executors, John Pugh, Levi McConnell, and Nathan Townsend.

Tract 94 extended from Eighth Street to a point on the river bank between the Brighton and Fort Wayne Railroad bridges, contained 265 acres, and was patented to Thomas Bradford, April 21, 1786. Mr. Bradford sold it to Benj. Sharpless and David Townsend in 1801; and Mr. Sharpless conveyed his interest to Mr. Townsend, August 15, 1815, who laid out a plan of lots, which will be more fully described later on. This tract was laid out in lots first, followed by tract 93, the plans supplementing each other.

Tract 95 extended from the north line of tract 94 to the north line of the present borough, contained 286 acres, and was patented to Mark Wilcox, January 31, 1786. During its early history it passed through the hands of several persons, among them Daniel Leet, John Wolf, and David Shields, the latter conveying it to Oliver Ormsby in x829. Ormsby the same year conveyed it to James Patterson, who conveyed it to Samuel C. Atkinson. Atkinson's title was sold by the sheriff to the assignee in trust of the Bank of the United States, and, April 20, 1848, the latter conveyed the larger part of the tract to John Miner and Silas Merrick. They sold it off in smaller tracts, considerable portions being purchased by Edward Hoopes, William Kennedy, Samuel A. McGowan, Rev. Joseph P. Taylor, and others, and since then several plans of lots have been laid out on different parts of the tract, now covered by hundreds of homes.

These tracts extended eastward beyond the borough line into Pulaski township, but all terminated westward at the Beaver River. The title to tract 95 was in 1799 conveyed to John Wolf, who put in operation a flouring mill near the present dam and east end of the Tenth Street bridge, known as Wolf's mill. This was probably the first mill of any kind east of the Beaver, and people came to it from a distance of over thirty miles, even from east of Pittsburg, over a bridle path cut through the forest. It was operated until 1820, and remained standing until the canal was dug.

In 1803 Hoopes, Townsend & Company erected a building in Sharon, the second house from Brady's Run, for the use for merchandising of Isaac Wilson, who came from Chester County, Pa., The Hoopes family were from the same county, and the progenitor of the family came from England with William Penn in 1682. The building referred to was called the "Old Red Front," and is yet standing, remodeled, and made more modern. Near this old building, on the flat between the river and Brady's Run, in 1806, Aaron Burr's managers and workmen built a flotilla of boats as a part of his expedition down the Ohio to found an empire.=

With this expedition were two English brothers named Constable, who had no part in the enterprise, but went along to see the country and sketch its interesting points. The owners of the "Black Walnut Bottom," where the lower part of Beaver Falls now stands, wished to lay out a plan of lots, and engaged the Constable brothers, who were engineers, to do the work. For their services they were granted the privilege of naming the new town, which they called Brighton, after their old home in England.

In 1815 a plan of lots was laid out on tract 94, which led to the name given to New Brighton. By an Act of Assembly of March 20, 1810,2 a company was incorporated under the name, style, and title of "The President, Managers and Company for erecting a Bridge over Big Beaver Creek opposite the Town of Brighton," where the Brighton (overgrade) bridge now stands. If erected where laid out it would not be opposite Brighton, but in a township, and in order to conform to the charter, the name of East Brighton was given to the plan of lots surveyed on tract 94, and thus the eastern end of the bridge was built opposite (East) Brighton, and the conditions of the charter carried out. In course of time East was changed to New, and the newly laid out village became known as New Brighton, while Brighton came to be known as "Old" Brighton. The late Joseph T. Pugh had a bill of sale of these lots, in excellent condition, dated September r, 1815, from which we quote: "Any person purchasing one or more lots shall improve them as follows: If one lot, the purchaser shall erect thereon, within three years from this date, a building equal to /5 by 20 feet, two stories high, with shingle roof and stone or brick chimney; if more than one lot, one such building for every two lots." The bill is signed by D. Townsend, Evan Pugh, John Pugh, and Benj. Townsend, and 54 lots were sold, averaging about $33 each. Joseph Hoopes, grandfather of Henry Hoopes, was the surveyor, and J. W. Wilson, father of Wade Wilson, the chain carrier. The part of the town surveyed was largely a wilderness, and the surveyors had to carry a hatchet and chop the saplings out of the way, in order to run their lines. The original plot is yet in good condition, and is in the possession 0f Wade Wilson.

In 1806 or 1806 a man named Walton attempted to establish boat yards a short distance below the foot of Thirteenth Street, but he met obstacles that defeated his project. The brick dwelling formerly occupied by J. W. Wilson, now a part of F. G. Rohrkaste's property by the Brighton bridge, was built by his father, Isaac Wilson, in 1817, and was known as "the Brick House," being the only brick house in this region. In 1828 a fine flouring mill was built by David Townsend, which was operated for many years by J. W. Wilson, and afterward by his son, Wade Wilson, and is now in operation under the name of the Quaker Milling Company. It has been remodeled in part, and has been burned out, but the strong old walls yet stand.

New Brighton started on a new career of prosperity with the opening of the Pennsylvania canal, but the boom came when a branch of the United States Bank was established. In the charter of the Bank of Pennsylvania, under the influence of Hon. John Dickey, it was stipulated that the bank might establish branches, "one of which must be in Beaver county." Taking advantage of this the bank established a branch at New Brighton, with the following officers: President, John Pugh; Cashier, Dr. William Denny; directors, R. Townsend, M. F. Champlin, James Patterson, Ovid Pinney, Dr. E. K. Chamberlin, A. W. Townsend, and J. P. Johnston of Beaver County; John B. Pearson of Mercer County; and John Gilmore of Butler County. All responsible persons were urged to borrow money, which increased the volume of business in the community, but at a fearful cost when settlement day came. Bank obligations had to be met, the mother bank in Philadelphia failed, and a financial panic followed, causing disaster and ruin. Values were depressed, property had no sale, and the effect on the community was disastrous. Afterwards a large amount of the debts were compromised, by which most of the manufacturers were enabled, in a small way at least, to resume business, and in process of time confidence was restored.


July 4, 1833, Marcus T. C. Gould, from Rome, N. Y., advertised the establishment of the New Brighton Female Seminary, wherein young ladies were taught all the useful branches of modem female education.

May 1, 1837, Richard Leech and his wife, of Harrisburg, opened a female seminary, announcing that they would teach the English branches and French and Latin and the higher mathematics.

The Beaver County Institute, of New Brighton, was organized in 1837, the object being "the promotion of science and literature, but more especially of natural history." At a meeting, January 16, 1838, the association was fully organized by the election of the following officers: President, James Patterson; Vice Presidents, Joseph Hoopes, Robert Townsend, and Enoch Marvin; Curator, A. W. Townsend; Corresponding Secretary, Dr. T. W. Powers; Recording Secretary, Rev. A. Williams; Librarian, B. B. Chamberlin; Treasurer, M. F. Champlin; managers, M. T. C. Gould, H. Mendenhall, Dr. E. K. Chamberlin, Dr. John Winter, Edward Hoopes, John Collins, and J. W. Maynard. The frame building adjoining the News office, burned in February, 1899, was the hall of this society for a number of years. It was then located on Third Avenue, near the Presbyterian Church.

In 1840 the "New Brighton Female Seminary" was chartered. Robert Townsend was the president, and B. B. Chamberlin secretary. It was advertised as under the superintendence of Mrs. M. Sheddon, assisted by Laura K. Collins. In it were taught Greek, Latin, Hebrew, French, and Italian, with music, drawing, and the usual English branches. In 1841 and 1842 Mrs. Eunice Critchlow was advertised as the principal of the seminary. The "Greenwood Institute," under the direction of Miss Myra Townsend and her sisters, was established later. It was held in the brick building on Third Avenue, now the residence of Chas. A. Barker (then the home of the Townsend sisters), and a part of the time also in the frame building on the corner opposite, where the new residence of Charles C. Townsend is built. In 1840 and later there was a male academy known as the "Brighton Institute," of which S. L. Coulter was principal in 1841.

In 1841-2 a private school was conducted by Rev. Mr. Hawkins, back of the Presbyterian Church, corner Twelfth Street and Fourth Avenue; 0ne by A. P. Dutcher in 1843, in B. B. Chamberlin's office; and one about the same time by Harvey Thomas, at the Steinfeld corner, Third Avenue and Eleventh Street. Miss Curtis had a school in the early fifties in the building where Hon. G. L. Eberhart now lives and the one torn down by Dr. J. S. Boyd, Third Avenue and Thirteenth Street. Later a building was erected where the Central school building now stands, in which the Davis school, and later the Curry Institute were held. In the early sixties the Johnston school was held in this building for a short time. It was also used afterwards as a Water Cure establishment, an asylum for the insane, and later as a fine boarding house and dwelling.

In 1855 Rev. Joseph P. Taylor, rector of the Episcopal Church, established the Kenwood boarding school for boys. Its main building is now occupied by the Beaver Valley General Hospital. Subsequently Professor Charles Jacobus was in charge of the school. Other private schools were in existence that helped to give character to the town and the reputation of being one of the finest educational places in the State.


The first public schoolhouses in New Brighton was built in 1835, a few rods north of where the Church of God now stands. It was a small brick building, with seats of rough planks, and boards nailed to the walls as writing desks, and with no modem conveniences. Mr. Moss was the first teacher in the building. About 1840 a brick building of two rooms was built on the present site of the Church of God. In 1849 the Board of Directors purchased the property, corner Third Avenue and Fifteenth Street, now owned by J. F. Miner. Previous to this time the frame building on this lot was used for a Friends' meeting house and a private school. These were ungraded schools, and the only ones until 1857. In October of that year the three story brick building, corner Ninth Street and Fifth Avenue, was completed, and in it was opened on the first Monday of November, the first graded school in the county. In 1861, when the stirring scenes of the war were disturbing the ordinary routine of life, patriotic meetings were held in the school hall, and seventeen of the students of the school enlisted and went to the front.

In 1884 the fine school building in the Third Ward was opened and in 1890 the beautiful First Ward building was occupied. In 1893 the large and beautiful high school building was completed and put to use, one of the most attractive in western Pennsylvania, and later, 1895, the fine Fourth Ward building was dedicated. The old Ninth Street building was sold s00n after it was abandoned for the new high school building.

The following persons have been principals of the schools: George M. Fields, S. P. Van Pelt, G. W. Karatz, J. B. On, J. C. Gilchrist, H. C. Missimer, Luther Fuller, Miss S. A. Platt, H. N. W. Hoyt, E. C. Lavers, John Collier, J. B. Richey, and J. W. F. Wilkinson.

In 1881 a three years course was adopted for the high school, that being its first year, and the first diplomas were publicly granted in 1883. In 1889 another year was added, and now the course is one of the most complete in the State.


The beginning of the building of manufactories was about 1836. Prior to that time there were no factories on the race below the Quaker Mill. In 1836 F. D. Houlette, John Hammel, and James Erwin put up a building, which was used for a while as a wagon shop, then as a woolen mill by Mr. Hyde; and afterward a saw mill was built on the same lot, which was operated for a number of years by Joseph Darling, a native of Vermont, who came here in 1847 from Chautauqua County, N. Y. Later, Thomas Seal and Charles Coale occupied it as a sash factory. In later years James Erwin and T. B. White operated a machine shop in it, after them C. R. Tuttle had a machine shop there, and it was then bought by Henry Fetter and run until recent years as a planing mill, but is now abandoned. Mr. Fetter came here in 1837, and engaged in business as a millwright, helping to erect many of the factories on the race. He retired from business a few years ago.

In 1836-7 Talbot Townsend erected a flouring mill, which was burned. It was rebuilt by Alexander & Kelly, but is now dismantled. Just below this mill they erected a building which in later years was used as a planing mill by it H. McPherson and H. McClain, and afterward by R. B. McDanel & McClain. About 1838 Benjamin Bedison and Levi McC0nnell built the "Star" flouring mill, which they operated for about twenty years, and which has been in operation ever since, for some years run by Mellon & Douglass, and now operated by Douglass & Co. In the same year Root, Bush & Dukehart manufactured stoves, machine, mill, and plow castings in the Quaker Mills. At the same time the Beaver County Insurance Company was operating in the town. In 1840 Abel Townsend and others built the felt factory, which was afterward used by B. & W. Wilde as a woolen factory. Ephraim Smith advertised, November 17,1841, that he had rented the New Brighton felt factory, and intended to card wool for country customers, all kinds of country produce to be taken in pay. In 1844 Charles Coale and Thomas Seal built what is known as the tub and washboard factory, and also began the manufacture of buckets, in the building formerly occupied by the Messrs. Wilde, in connection with John W. Gill, of Wheeling. Messrs. Coale & Gill also built a saw mill at the lower end of the race, where they had a large pool in which to float the logs. This mill was operated by Joseph Darling for a few years at the close of the war, and was owned at one time by Wm. Kennedy. The Messrs. Wilde erected a new brick building for their own use, which was burned down and replaced by the building now occupied by McDanel & Sons as a planing mill, the walls having been cut down somewhat. They also built a brick building north of the Star mills, which was wrecked by high water. The woolen factory passed out of existence many years ago. On the present site of Bentley & Gerwig's brick building was one erected by M. M. Marquis, and afterwards owned by R. E. Hoopes & Company, and used by them as a foundry. Immediately adjoining this was a three story frame building used by White & Erwin as a planing mill and machine shop, by Beeson & Company as a planing mill, and later by Abram Bentley as a twine factory. August 12, 1861, a water spout caused a sudden rise of the river, which carried away the head gates of the race, and completely wrecked these two buildings.

The Pioneer Flax Mills were established in 1850 by Abram Bentley, and are now in successful operation, run by Bentley & Gerwig. Just below this point Henry Stauffer erected a mill for grinding gypsum, and after a few years turned it into a flouring mill, and afterwards this was used as a paper mill by Frederick Trudley. C. R. Tuttle built a machine shop adjoining this last property and operated it for a number of years. Between this shop and Bentley & Gerwig's present new brick building, T. B. White started the manufacture of bridges, and in 1868 established the works known as the Penn Bridge Company, now operated by his sons and others in Beaver Falls. Charles Coale had a japan varnish works in the building at the foot of Ninth Street. Ephraim Estep had an axe factory adjoining the Star mills property, and carried on the business for many years. On the other side of the road, Henry Hunter manufactured table cutlery for a few years, the building now being used as the warehouse of the Star mills. At the lower end of the race Oren Waters' built a shovel factory, which was used by Waddle, Fetter & Company as a planing mill, and later by Buckley & Bradbury as a scouring and dyeing establishment. Mr. Fetter retired from the planing mill firm and Joseph Wilson became a member; and in 1867 F. K. Brierly was added to the firm, which was then known as Waddle, Wilson & Company. Their business was afterwards removed across the river.

Brick making is among the early and successful industries of the town. As early as 1830 a brick yard was operated on Oak Hill, near the entrance to the cemetery, said to be the oldest in the county. In 1882 Thomas Wilson began the manufacture of brick there, and in 1887 Wilson & Peatling conducted the business, which is now abandoned. In 1840 John Glass started a brickworks and continued it until 1886, when it was purchased by A. F. Smith & Company, who yet conduct it, as well as mining clay and quarrying sandstone, and it is a prosperous concern. Charles K. Chamberlin, William and Levi Fish, Joseph Dewhirst, Alfred and Akroid Dewhirst, and the Pittsburg Clay Manufacturing Company have also operated quite extensive works. Ingram & Company's brick yards, established several years ago, are in successful operation. The clay in the hills along Block House Run and the Fort Wayne Railroad is especially valuable for this industry. The Fish Bros. also engaged in quarrying stone. Richard Butler was engaged for a few years in mining clay and quarrying flag and building stone.

About 1857 the car works was built and put in operation by Merrick, Hanna & Company in 1859. This was succeeded by a steel coffin works by Silas Merrick, a foundry by Merrick & Company, by a chain works, by the Dithridge glass works, and later by the Phcenix Glass Company. The large building has now been bought by the Pittsburg Wall Paper Company and put in condition for that industry. In 1867 Wisener & Bingham started a carriage manufactory, of which W. Scott became a partner later. They afterwards sold out, and G. W. Carey, J. N. Andre, and C. W. Mali engaged in the business, the former afterward retiring, and the business was continued by Andre & Mali until 1896, when they sold their building to Grace M. E. Church and retired from business. The church remodeled the lower story and have used it for church services since. A cutlery works was started in the building above the Quaker Mills in the seventies, which was afterwards used as a brass foundry, and later for the Glenn Driller Company, all now abandoned. In the eighties a building was erected on lower Block House Run, in which to make ferraline, a black glass. This business was discontinued, and in 1886 the New Brighton Glass Company was started in the same building, which is now occupied by the New Brighton Steel Company. Spokes and felloes were made in a building on the race for a few years in the eighties. In the latter part of the same decade a vinegar factory was started and operated for a while by M. McPherson and W. O. Alexander, the property being purchased in 1893 by the Pierce-Crouch Engine Company, manufacturers of the Brighton gas and gasoline engines. The Logan & Strobridge Iron Company, founded by Turner Strobridge in 1874, is in operation, making iron novelties. The Leard machine shop was established in 1885. Martsolf Bros.' large planing mill and lumber yards is another of our more recent busy industries. Louis A. Glaser is engaged in manufacturing brass, bronze, and castings of other compositions.

The Pittsburg Clay Manufacturing Company included the Elverson, Sherwood & Barker pottery and the sewer pipe works. The former is now a part of the Sherwood Bros. Pottery Company, and the sewer pipe works was absorbed by the Sewer Pipe Combination. The Sherwood Bros.' pottery was founded by G. W. and W. D. Sherwood in 1879. The Enterprise Pottery was founded in 1883 by D. Osborne, F. H. Stuchfield, and others, and was later purchased by a company of which F. G. Barker was the head, and is now owned by the W. H. Elverson Pottery Company. The Oak Hill Pottery was in business a few years, but was burned down and abandoned. About 1889 Scott Bros. erected a pottery for the manufacture of tile. The property was purchased by the American Porcelain Company in 1896, is now in operation, making sinks, trays, etc., of clay, with the finest porcelain finish. Later the Brewer Pottery was erected, which was bought in 1899 by J. H. Cooper, and is now operated by the Keystone Pottery Company.

The keg works, now in successful operation, were started by M. T. & S. Kennedy in. 1836, in Fallston. These gentlemen were born in Beaver County, their ancestors coming from County Derry, Ireland, in 1790. The New Brighton plant is an offshoot of that at Fallston and was established in 1876. It is now operated by Thomas, William A., T. Livingston, and George F. Kennedy, sons of the founders.

The Standard Horse Nail Company was started in 1872 by Charles M. Merrick and Job Why Sall, the latter retiring in 188o, and succeeded by E. E. Pierce. The works were burned in 1884, in Fallston, and were then removed to New Brighton.

In 1887 Dawes & Myler started in business to manufacture enameled iron ware and pump cylinders, and later they made enameled iron plumber goods, giving special attention to enameled iron bathtubs.

Continued in New Brighton History part 2.

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