History of Rochester Borough, Beaver County, Pa. (Part 2)
From: History of Beaver County Pennsylvania
and its Centennial Celebration
BY: Rev. Joseph H. Bausman, A. M.
Knickerbocker Press New York, 1904


Speyerer & McDonald Bank. - This was the first banking institution started in Rochester. Its firm members were G. C. Speyerer, J. V. McDonald, H. J. Speyerer, and W. J. Speyerer. The capital was $30,000. The first deposit was received November 3, 1869. In 1872 the firm name was changed to Speyerer & Company, with the same amount of capital. The members were then G. C. Speyerer, H. J. Speyerer. W. J. Speyerer, John Greabing, Sr., L. H. Oatman, and Louis Schneider. September 23, 1873, the business was turned over to the Beaver County Banking & Safe Deposit Association, Rochester, Pa., which was organized with a capital of $75,000. The first officers and directors were: G. C. Speyerer, president; H. J. Speyerer, cashier; directors: G. C. Speyerer, Louis Schneider, H. J. Speyerer, John Greabing, Sr., and L. H. Oatman. This institution is no longer in existence.

John Conway's Bank. - This is the second oldest banking institution in Rochester. It was organized in 1871 as John Conway & Company. From time to time Mr. Conway has bought out his partners, until he is now the sole owner. The bank is on the corner of Madison Street and Brighton Road. Mr. Conway does a general banking business on safe and conservative lines, and is an able financier.

First National Bank of Rochester. - This bank was established June 18, 1883, with Henry C. Fry, William S. Shallenberger, Edward B. Daugherty, Gilbert Pendleton, I. F. Mansfield, Thomas M. Armstrong, Tobias Hetchie, Moses B. Sloan, Boardman S. Ranger, Benjamin Mulheim, and Dr. A. T. Shallenberger, signers on the certificate of organization. The first directors were Henry C. Fry, W. S. Shallenberger, I. F. Mansfield, Gilbert Pendleton, A. C. Hurst, John M. Buchanan, Jesse H. Lippencott. Henry C. Fry was chosen president of this bank at the time of its organization, and has continued to occupy that position from that time till the present.

The bank first opened for business on the 18th of June, 1883, in the brick building on Brighton Street, now owned and occupied by Mrs. John Kaszer. At that time the bank owned this property. In 1887 the property was sold to Mrs. Kaszer, and the bank removed to its present convenient location, on the corner of New York and Pleasant streets.

Hon. W. S. Shallenberger was made cashier of this bank at the time of its organization. Mr. Shallenberger was succeeded as cashier by Charles J. Wack. Mr. Wack was a teller at the time of his election. He held the position from that time till August 3, 1894, when he died.

Thomas C. Fry was elected to succeed Mr. Wack, and Mr. Fry was succeeded by the present cashier, Mr. John H. Mellor. The capital stock of this bank in 1900 was $50,000, and its surplus, $50,000; in 1903 the capital was increased to $150,000, and the surplus is now $35,000.

The Rochester National Bank. - This bank was organized, December 17, 1898, with the following officers and directors: James G. Mitchell, president; W. J. Mellon, vice president; Joseph C. Campbell, cashier; Elmer J. Mengel, teller; directors: James G. Mitchell, W. J. Mellon, Joseph C. Campbell, Charles R. Eckert, Robert W. Darragh, Charles P. Brobeck, Robert L. Hood, Alfred P. Marshall, and Edward J. Schleiter.

It began business, March 13, 1899, with a capital of $50,000. The banking house was located in a handsome brick building, corner of Brighton and Washington streets, erected by James G. Mitchell. In 1902 this bank was absorbed by the Rochester Trust Company.

The Rochester Trust Company. - Early in the fall of 1902 a few of the most enterprising of Rochester's business men began to talk seriously of the organization of a new bank, believing that the growth of the town and increasing business of the county justified such a venture. Dr. W. A. Rose and Mr. Henry J. Miller were the prime movers in the enterprise, and their first idea was of a bank or trust company capitalized at $150,000. So favorably was this plan received that in less than two days' canvas Mr. Miller succeeded in getting nearly the whole proposed amount subscribed. A trust company was decided upon on account of there being no organization of that kind in Rochester, and on account of its wider field for business.

On the 9th of October, at the office of William Miller & Sons, was held the first meeting for the organization of the Rochester Trust Company. Those present were: Messrs. John A. Miller, Walter A. Rose, Curtis C. Noss, William A. McConnel, Frank Feyler, Henry J. Miller, Adie K. B. Wilson, George H. Karcher, and Thomas C. Fry - all subsequently directors in the company. John A. Miller was elected chairman, and Thomas C. Fry, secretary, of the meeting. The capital was placed at $150,000, and Thomas C. Fry appointed treasurer of the company.

A little later it was found that the Rochester National Bank would consider a proposition to sell its stock. Messrs. John A. Miller, Wilson, Noss, and Shugert, were appointed a committee to confer with the bank, and reported that the bank stock could be bought for $200 per share. This deal was immediately closed.

As the original $150,000 had already been subscribed, a resolution was passed on the 4th of November increasing the capital stock to $200,000. On November 20th the first stockholders meeting was held at the office of C. C. Noss & Company. At this meeting the directors, fifteen in number, were elected, namely: John A. Miller, Dr. Walter A. Rose, William A. McConnel, Joseph C. Campbell, Curtis C. Noss, George H. Karcher, Wesley E. Bonzo, Henry J. Miller, George A. Baldwin, Frank Feyler, Dr. Guy S. Shugert, Adie K. B. Wilson, Dr. John C. McCauley, James H. Ewing, and Thomas C. Fry.

The Rochester Trust Company commenced business in the rooms of the Rochester National Bank, on December 1, 1902.

On the 23d of December a meeting of the stockholders of the Rochester National Bank was held, and resolutions passed to place the bank in voluntary liquidation on January 6, 1903.

Mr. Joseph C. Campbell, formerly cashier of the Rochester National Bank, continued with the Trust Company until February.

The officers elected by the directors of the Rochester Trust Company were: John A. Miller, president; Dr. Walter A. Rose, vice president; Thomas C. Fry, secretary and treasurer; Herbert W. Douglass, assistant secretary and treasurer; Elmer J. Mengel, teller; and Charles A. Stewart, assistant teller.

The Rochester Savings and Loan Association was incorporated, August, 1894, with an authorized capital of $10,000,000. The officers were: George W. Miller, president; Paulus E. Kohler, vice president; George C. Deming, secretary; Thomas L. Darragh, treasurer. In 1902 this Association was merged into the Farmers' Building and Loan Association of Brush Creek, Pa., whose place of business is in Rochester

The Central Building and Loan Association of Beaver County. - Since its organization in 1888 this has become one of the largest and most successful institutions of its kind in Pennsylvania, with about 1400 shareholders, carrying nearly 7000 shares of stock, on which the annual receipts exceed $200,000. The list of officers and directors is as follows: William M. Fisher, president; G. T. Bentel, vice president; A. Heller, treasurer; J. T. Conlin, secretary; Hon. M. F. Mecklem, attorney; John Bender, H. B. Ruth, R. Radtke, John Flint, William List, H. L. Morgan, E. Romigh, J. H. Gordon, and Wheelen Dolby, directors.

Rochester Building and Loan Association. - This association was organized in the spring of 1894, and the charter was granted June 1, 1894. At the time of the organization the officers and directors were: A. C. Hurst, president; William Moulds, vice president; W. S. Shallenberger, treasurer; Thomas H. Javens, secretary; William Miller, Sr., John Coleman, John J. Hoffman, Robert H. Marshall, Harrison J. Chandler, Frank L. Robinson, A. N. Gutermuth, Frank Woodruff, and Joseph J. Zimmerman, directors; and the organization has remained the same ever since, except that when Mr. Shallenberger left Rochester, John J. Hoffman was elected to the office of treasurer; and Mr. Woodruff retiring from the board, John E. Nelson was elected in his stead. W. A. McConnel is solicitor. The capital stock is $1,000,000, with the privilege of increasing it to $5,000,000.

CHURCHES were at this point, now on a seperate page. [Church History]


The first school house in Rochester was the frame building until recently used as the parsonage of the Evangelical Association Church. In 1862 the brick building, containing four classrooms, in the Second ward, was erected. This was later enlarged. The Third Ward school building was erected in 1884-85, and in 1891-92 an addition of four rooms was made, at a cost of $8400. By a resolution of the board, June 2, 189o, the Rochester High School was established, and in 1901 ground was purchased from Mr. Charles Muse and Mrs. Sadie E. Speyerer on Pinney Street, at a cost of $5600, for the site of a High School building. W. J. East was employed as architect to draw plans for the same, and on June 10, 1901, the contract was let to Kountz Bros. This building was erected at a total cost of $43,270. It is in every respect a modem building of the best type, and, as will be seen from the cut facing this page, of simple and effective architectural design. The public schools of Rochester are of a high grade.

The Passavant Memorial Home. - This Home is on the hillside just above the town of Rochester, and consists of three well arranged buildings and sixty acres of fine farming land. It is a home and hospital for epileptics.

The Home is undenominational, and any sufferer whose application is favorably passed upon by the board is received as a patient. Twelve trustees have the management, four of whom must be Lutherans; eight may be connected with any other church or no church at all.

The management in the Home is under an approved deaconess of the Lutheran Church.


The Masons. Rochester Lodge, No. 229, F. and A. M., was instituted April 11, 1848. The charter members were David Eaton, Jemuel Woodruff, G. St. Clair Hussey, S. B. French, N. P. Fetterman, Ovid Pinney, C. W. Bloss, James A. Sholes, Martin Fisher, Joshua Logan. In the year 1873 Past Master Ovid Pinney gave to the lodge the lot on the corner of Rhode Island Street and the public square, and in 1884 Lewis Taylor, Esq., gave the lodge the sum of $10,000, under the condition that the lodge would provide a like sum for the purpose of erecting upon the land owned by them a Masonic building. This was done, and in the spring of 1885 the building was completed and the Masons took possession of it and dedicated it. With the necessary equipments it cost about $25,000. It is one of the finest Masonic buildings in the State outside of the larger cities.

Eureka Chapter, No. 167, Royal Arch Masons, was organized July 14, 1849.

S. M. Kane Lodge, No. 786, I. O. O. F. - January 24, 1880, this lodge was instituted, under the name of Rochester Lodge, No. 786.

Samuel M. Kane, who had always been a zealous worker in everything pertaining to the efficiency of the lodge, was instantly killed upon the railway crossing, January 17, 1895, while returning home from work, and as a deserved tribute to his memory it was decided to change the name of the lodge to the S. M. Kane Lodge. This was accordingly done by a dispensation of the Grand Lodge, granted April 26, 1895. Its membership is between 250 and 300.

In 1888 certain of the members and their wives applied for a charter for a Rebecca Degree Lodge, and "Winifred Rebecca Lodge" was instituted on the 19th day of April, 1888.

John W. Stokes Encampment, No. 285, I. O. O. F., was instituted December 21, 1889, in Odd Fellows' Hall, Opera House building, Rochester, Pa.

Woodmen of the World. - Apple Tree Camp, No. 5, Pennsylvania, was instituted in Odd Fellows Hall, Opera House building, Rochester, Pa., on Wednesday evening, February 10, 1892, and is at this date, 1904, in a flourishing condition.

The Young Men's Institute, " Dewey Council," was organized May 1, 1898, by the Roman Catholic young men of Rochester, in the Grand Army Hall on Brighton Street.

Post No. 183, Grand Army of the Republic, Department of Pennsylvania, located in Rochester, Pa., was organized July 7, A.D. 1880, with fourteen members. The charter members were: James C. Stewart, Williamson Graham, W. S. Shallenberger, Henry C. Fry, H. J. Chandler, A. Val. Woodruff, Thomas Matthews, Thomas Can, Win. D. Reno, Stephen A. Craig, S. J. Swoger, W. J. Ware, R. F. Mcllvain, Henry Weber.

Rochester Lodge, No. 274, Knights of Pythias, was organized December 15, 1870, and has ever since had a steady growth, numbering in membership at present about 140.

Garfield Council, No. 114, Junior Order United American Mechanics, was organized and instituted December 31, 1881, in the G. A. R. Hall, with twenty five charter members.

Rochester Lodge, No. 283, B. P. O. E., was organized in I. O. O. F. Hall, May 9, 1891.


A pioneer hostelry in what was East Bridgewater, now Rochester, was known as the Leaf House, still standing on the corner of Shields and Maine streets. This was built in 1834 by William Leaf, conducted by him for several years, and then leased to a man named Barnes. This was a well known hotel in the days of the canal. It is now occupied as a dwelling by several tenants. Another hotel was kept by Alex. Atkinson about where General Thomas Power afterwards lived.

Another old hotel was the Rochester Hotel on Water Street, built in 1848 by John H. Camp. About 1850 he sold out to his nephew, Michael Camp, and removed to the Point Hotel, which he named the National.

The St. James Hotel was built in 1845 by Andrew Purdy, and was then known as the Pavilion Hotel. Chester W. Bloss was the first proprietor. In 1862 Michael Camp exchanged the Rochester Hotel for the Pavilion, the exchange being made with Louis Schneider. Mr. Camp remained the proprietor of the Pavilion Hotel until 1886, when he sold it to Christian H. Clark, who changed its name to the St. James. It has since been in the hands of Thomas Lee, Mrs. Anna Lee, his wife; and now Mr. Hal Harsha. This hotel is the only one now occupied which was established and under successful operation when Rochester borough was incorporated.

The Doncaster House. - In 1865 Richard Doncaster bought the old Johnston House, and in 1871 established the present Doncaster House. After his death in 1882, his daughters, Sarah, Annie, Elizabeth, and Jemima, assumed control, with Sarah, proprietress, and J. N. Dowell, manager. On April 1.

James W. Doncaster, a son of Richard, took the management, and repairs costing $12,000 were made. August 17, 1897, Richard and James W. Doncaster purchased the property. Richard is now in control.

The Hotel Speyerer was established by a stock company, formed December 18, 1890. The leading members of the Speyerer Hotel Company were Herman J. Speyerer, Adam M. Johnson, J. Newton Dowell, and Andrew J. Welsh. The site of the old plow factory on the corner of Water and New York streets was purchased, and in January, 1891, the contract for the erection of a large building was let to Simon Harrold of Beaver Falls. The hotel was opened to the public, December 21, 1891. Its entire cost, including furnishings, was $67,832. Captain W. J. Bickerstaff is the present proprietor.


There are two cemeteries at this place, Lacock's, just on the edge of town, and Irvin's, about a quarter of a mile to the northeast of the borough line. Lacock's is the oldest, having been chartered in September, 1863.


The theater going public of Rochester are served by the Grand Opera House, Mr. George W. Challis, lessee and manager.


The first ferry boat plying across the Ohio River between Rochester and Phillipsburg was the Borough Bee. In 1862 a new boat was built, named the W. C. Gray. In 1873 Captain Joseph R. Campbell purchased this boat from Capt. J. V. McDonald, and had it rebuilt in 1880, calling it the Mary C. Campbell, for his wife. Captain Campbell had charge of it until 1884, when he sold it to Capt. M. Winnett. The boat was afterwards owned by a company, and was run until the building of the Ohio River bridge, when it was withdrawn from service here.


The first postmaster of the borough of Rochester was R. G. Parks. He was at that time in the forwarding business, and was appointed when the office was first established, and served until 1853. He was succeeded by Chester W. Bloss, who kept the office in a small building which he had erected for that purpose on Maine Street. He held the position through two administrations, and was succeeded by Captain John S. Shepler in 1861. Captain Shepler, it seems held the office but one year. It was then located in the Schielein building on Madison Street. Thomas M. Taylor was next appointed, and continued to hold the office from 1862 until 1877 - fifteen years. During this period the office was located either in the brick building that stood on the corner of Maine and Madison streets, or in the frame shoe store building belonging to Squire Taylor, and standing on the lot adjoining.

Mr. Taylor was succeeded by Williamson Graham, who was appointed December 22, 1876, and performed the duties of the office from 1877 to 1887. The greater part of this time the office was kept in Mr. Graham's residence on Shields Street. Toward the latter part of Mr. Graham's term, the location was changed to the Linnenbrink building on Brighton Street. He was succeeded by William H. Black, who was appointed February 28, 1887, and served four years. George C. Deming was appointed, February 16, 1891, also serving four years. He was succeeded by Franklin Feyler, appointed March 5, 1895, who served until Albert A. Atterholt, appointed January 8, 1890, assumed charge. June 15, 1904, the latter was succeeded by Hon. M. F. Mecklem. July 1, 1900, the office was moved to its present location in the Opera House building; and, June 1, 1902, free delivery was established in Rochester.


The Semi-Centennial Celebration of the incorporation of the borough of Rochester had been decided upon by the town council early in 1899. The charter of Rochester was approved by the Governor of this State on March 20, 1849. The celebration of this event could not well be held on the proper date, however, on account of the cold weather. It was decided, therefore, to hold a special meeting of the citizens of the town in the Opera House on the evening of that day, and have the celebration on the 28th and 29th days of June. That meeting was held. Addresses were made on subjects appropriate, and vocal and instrumental music was rendered, and the celebration was carried out as arranged for on the above dates in June.


In 1850 there was property in the borough that was assessed at $106,010. Today (1904) the assessed valuation of property is $2,675,387. Then there were twenty places of business; now there are seventy. Then there were about one thousand inhabitants; now there are over four thousand, with a growing suburban population that increases that number by a thousand. By the United States Census for 1900 the population of the borough was 4688.


East Rochester is a suburb of Rochester, lying within the limits of Rochester township, In September, 1888, it was partly plotted into town lots by H. C. Lacock and others, the plot being known as the "H. C. Lacock plan of lots"; and in July, 1903, a plan of lots was laid out by Curtis C. Noss, known as the "Stewart plan of lots."

The United Brethren Church of East Rochester was organized in Patton's Hall, Rochester, Pa., February 18, 1895, by Rev. S. W. Welsh, who became its first pastor. The first trustees were Lewis Vandevort, Edmond Kline, and Lewis Gross. In November of the same year Rev. E. H. Barnhardt was appointed pastor by Rev. J. W. Stahl, presiding elder. Mr. Barnhardt served the congregation for four years. In the year 1898 a lot was given to the church by Henry C. Lacock and his wife, in East Rochester, on which a neat frame house of worship was erected. This building was dedicated in April, 1899, by Bishop E. B. Shephard. The following ministers have served the church: S. W. Welsh, E. H. Barnhardt, ____ Smith, J. J. Funk, S. M. Miller, and A. V. Vondersmith.


This is a suburb started by the Business Men's Association of Rochester, and laid out by the North Rochester Improvement Company on lands of Hugh and Joseph Irvin. The site of the H. C. Fry Glass Company's plant, mentioned above under the head of "Manufacturing Enterprises," was donated by the Improvement Company.

[Return to part 1 of Rochester History]

[Also see History of Rochester Township]

Return to [ PA History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ]

All pages copyright 2003-2012. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy