1840 Census PA Allegheny County Pine Twn
Male: two 5-10; one
10-15; two 15-20; one 40-50
Female: one under 5; one 5-10; one 40-50
NB: This probably
represents all four known sons and two known daughters of William Alston, plus
one other young male. In 1850, Pine Twn was divided, with the southern part becoming McCandless Twn. In 1860, William M. Alston and Archibald
Alston were counted as next-door neighbors in McCandless
Twn. John M.
Alston's bio says that he was working on his family's farm from 1834-37. This is farm was apparently in Pine
Township, later McCandless Township,
and split at least in two, maybe when William died.
1850 Census OH Colombiana Co
Fairfield im__of__ visit 397:
Name Age Sex Occup. Business
Archibald Alston 23 M Contractor
William Alston 53 M Contractor
PaORR 6000 Scotland
The Alstons are counted with 32
other men, one blacksmith, one baker, 30 laborers, mostly from Ireland. PaORR is the
Pennsylvania-Ohio Railroad. This
indicates a YOB for Archibald of 1827 and for William 1797.
Gale Research. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index,
1500s-1900s [database online]. Provo, Utah:
MyFamily.com, Inc., 2003. Original data: Filby, P.
William, edit. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s. Farmington
Hills, MI: Gale Research, 2003.
Source Publication Code:
information given, including date of intention to acquire citizenship, date of
naturalization, place of residence, country of birth, and name of sponsor.
Source Bibliography: WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY, Pittsburgh,
compilers. A List of Immigrants Who Applied for
Naturalization Papers in the District Courts of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
Pittsburgh: the society. Vol. 1,
1798-1840. 1978. 109p. 6,360 names.
Title: Biographical review; v. 24, containing life sketches
of leading citizens of Pittsburg
and the vicinity, Pennsylvania. Imprint: Boston :
Biographical Review Publishing Co., 1897, pages 84-86, images are online
William Alston was born in Lanark,
Lived in Lanark after marriage to Agnes Menzies
1830 - came to US
1831 - walked to Pittsburgh
June 1831 - family joins him
Contractor - Fagan, Swan and Alston
William, d. age 64; John M.,
architect, b. ca. 1823; Archibald, a stone contractor; Christina, wife of Joseph Williams; Robert,
superintendent of Standard Steel Works in Mifflin County; and Margaret, wife of Joseph Stevenson.
1852 - dies
Alston, a prominent architect and contractor of Pittsburgh,
was born August 22, 1823,
in the town of Lanark, Lanarkshire, Scotland,
where his grandfather Alston, a stone cutter, spent his ninety-four years of
life. His mother's father, John Menzies, a blacksmith, attained the age of ninety-eight
years; and John Menzie's wife lived to the age of
Alston, the father of John M., lived in Lanark some years after his marriage,
having there been a stone contractor. In
1830, desiring to improve his circumstances, he came to the United
States, landing at New
York, where his efforts to secure work proved
futile. He then walked to Philadelphia,
and thence to Pottsville, where he
was employed for a short time. Returning
again to Philadelphia, he started
in the month of January, 1831, for Pittsburgh
on foot. The canals were then in process
of construction; and, having secured remunerative employment, he sent for his
family, which joined him the next June.
Subsequently he worked on the court-house and on the Duquesne
water-works in the capacity of foreman.
Then he formed a partnership with a contractor named Fagan, and having
organized the firm of Fagan, Swan & Alston, continued in contracting
several years, building the old bank of Pittsburg
[sic] and the Chestnut Street
and the Ninth Street
bridges. When the senior partner died,
William Alston, in company with Mr. Hanna, built the locks on the Monongahela
Rivers. They subsequently took a contract on the old Pennsylvania,
now the Pittsburg, Fort
Wayne & Chicago Railroad; but before its
completion, in 1852, Mr. Alston died. His wife, whose maiden name was Agnes Menzies,
survived him, living until November, 1876. Of their eight children two died in
childhood. Their son William died at the
age of sixty-four years. The survivors
are: John M., the subject of this sketch; Archibald, a stone contractor, in
Allegheny; Christina, the wife of Joseph Williams. of
Avalon, this county; Robert, the superintendent of the Standard Steel Works in Mifflin
County; and Margaret, the wife of
Joseph Stevenson, of the same county.
Alston was eight years of age when he came with his parents to this
county. After attending for a time the
old academy at Allegheny, conducted by Master John Kelley, he went to work at
stone cutting at the age of eleven, and continued so employed until the removal
of the family to a farm, when he was needed at home. When fifteen years old he came to Allegheny
to learn carpentering of an uncle, with whom he served a four years'
apprenticeship, subsequently working for him six months as a journeyman
carpenter. Mr. Alston then secured a
position with J.W. Kerr, the first architect to open an office in Pittsburg,
remaining with him four years. From that
time until 1865 he was engaged in carpentering, millwright work, and
pattern-making, and thereafter until 1877 in the business of contractor. Then, resuming the profession of an
architect, he has since carried on a thriving business. Among the public buildings erected by him
are: the fine school-house in Avalon; the Second Ward School-house in
Allegheny, notable as one of the best in the State for school purposes; and the
Buena Vista Street Methodist Episcopal Church.
On January 13, 1848, Mr. Alston married
Miss Mary, daughter of William and Mary Lemon.
She died March 10, 1875. They had eight children, of whom two died in
early life. The others are: William and
James, twins, who are machinists in Pittsburg; Archibald, who is a contractor
in this city; John, a plasterer, residing in Allegheny; Charles, a blacksmith,
who is a resident of Oakland; and Mary, who has kept house for her father since
the death of her mother. Since he cast
his first Presidential vote for Henry Clay, Mr. Alston has invariably supported
the Republican candidates for office. He
is a valued member of the Methodist Episcopal church. The other organizations to which he belongs
are: the I.O.O.F., the Temple of Honor,
the Academy of Science
and Art, the American Institute of Architects, and the Chapter Association of
Architects of this city.
Note 1: 1925 Volume 5 - North Side: Wards 21, 27 and part of
22 and 25: Plate 4a shows the Buena Vista ME Church on Buena Vista
corner of Sampson Avenue,
one block north of Taylor Avenue. Yahoo maps shows this today to be the corner
of Sampsonia Way
and Buena Vista Avenue on
the North Side, not too far from the Uniondale
Note 2: 1923 Volume 1 - Central Pittsburgh:
Wards 1-6 and 9: Plate 14b shows Lock #1 on the Monongahela to be opposite Miltenberger Street (some
blocks east of present-day Mercy Hospital).
Note 3: 1876 - Atlas
of the Cities of Pittsburgh, Allegheny and Adjoining Boroughs: Plate 21 shows
Lock #2 to be opposite Water Street,
which still exists.
Note 4: 1876 - Atlas
of the Cities of Pittsburgh, Allegheny and Adjoining Boroughs: Plate 28 shows
From Historic Pittsburgh website:
business directory of the cities of Pittsburgh & Allegheny / by Isaac
Originally Published: Pittsburgh :
A.A. Anderson, c1844.
Business Directory, Allegheny
City (p. 72)
Page 72 - Chapter
. . . Allston, Wm. stone cutter, c. N. alley and Federal st
. . .
Note: (corner North Alley and Federal
City is now the North Side. Federal Street
is still there, opposite the 6th Street
Title: Harris' Pittsburgh
business directory for the year 1837 : including the
names of all the merchants, manufacturers, mechanics, professional, & men
of business of Pittsburgh and its
Originally Published: Pittsburgh :
Isaac Harris, 1837-
Bridges (p. 159 and 160]
HAND STREET BRIDGE.
This bridge passes
from Hand street,
Pittsburgh, to Sandusky
street, Alleghenytown. Contract given in January, 1837, and to be
complete on the 1st of October, 1838
. . .
Wood Work, William Labaron.
Stone " Pagan & Allston
Title: History of
Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania : with illustrations descriptive of its scenery, palatial
residences, public buildings, fine blocks, and important manufactories.
Originally Published: Philadelphia :
L. H. Everts, 1876.
History of Pittsburgh
The first bridge over the Allegheny, at Hand
Street, was built in 1837-38 . . . Contractors,
wood work, Lebaron; stone work, Pagan &
-- to be completed in November, 1837 - . . . Contractors, . .
. William Pagan & Co, stone work.
George Thornton, 1855-1928.
Title: Vol. 2 History
of Pittsburgh and environs, from prehistoric days to the beginning of the
American revolution ... / by George Thornton Fleming ...
Originally Published: New York,
Chicago : The American historical society, inc., 1922.
Transportation (p. 139)
The inconvenience of going to Allegheny to take trains soon
compelled local enterprise to plan for bridges to connect both the Ohio
& Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh
& Steubenville roads with the
heart of the city. An enabling act was
passed in 1854 permitting the construction of a railroad bridge across the Allegheny
River, and very soon the contract for the bridge was given to
Henderson, Allston & Company for $160,000.
Allegheny manifested much opposition to the bridge, and work was
delayed, but the bridge was completed in rather more than two years.
Author: Kussart, Sarepta Cooper, 1871-
Title: The Allegheny
river, by Mrs. S. Kussart.
Originally Published: Pittsburgh,
Pa. : Burgum printing company, 1938.
Early Bridges Built across the Allegheny River
incorporating a company to build the Hand (later known as the Ninth) Street
Bridge across the Allegheny
River at Pittsburgh
was approved by the Governor of Pennsylvania, June 26, 1836 . . . .
Sylvanus Lothrop was
the architect for the bridge,
Allston & Company did the stonework, and William Le Barron
the woodwork. The bridge was constructed on the arch principle. The whole structure formed one graceful arch,
extending from the mouth of Hand (later named Ninth) Street, in Pittsburgh,to the mouth of Cedar (later named Anderson)
The bridge cost the company $72,000, and was opened for use in April,
1840. After this bridge had been in use
for some time, it was repaired for the company by Daniel McCain, at the cost of
The Mechanic (or
Sixteenth) Street Bridge
was built in 1837, from the mouth of Mechanic Street,
Pittsburgh, to the mouth of Chestnut
The charter was granted in 1836 . . . Sylbanus
Lothrop was the architect; J.K. Moorhead
and E. Oles built the woodwork; and Wm. Pagan & Co.,
the stonework. The original cost of the
bridge was $62,400, but by the time it was destroyed by fire, January 26, 1851, the owners
estimated its value as $75,000. An
insurance of $20,000 was realized on the structure, and it was rebuilt at once.
Author: Parke, John
of seventy years and historical gleanings of Allegheny,
Pennsylvania / by John E. Parke.
Originally Published: Boston :
Rand, Avery & Company, 1886.
Bridges (p. 124)
Pittsburg and Allegheny
erected from the mouth of Hand Street
(now Ninth Street), Pittsburgh,
to the mouth of Cedar Street
(now Anderson Street),
Allegheny, was contracted for in January, 1837, to be completed October 1, 1838. (At of incorporation was passed by the
Legislature at the session of 1836, and approved by the governor, June 26, 1836. It was completed and opened for travel in
1839. It was constructed on the arch
principle, the whole forming one graceful arch from bank to bank.
On the root a
promenade was constructed, which in pleasant weather was quite a fashionable
resort, until it became prostituted to base purposes, and hand to be
abandoned. The entire structure was
thoroughly examined and repaired, at a cost of $30,000, by contractor Daniel McCain.
contractors for constructing the bridge were, --
Wiliam La Barron, Wood-work
Pagan & Allston, Stone-work
Sylvanus Lothrop, Architect
The first officers elected . . . [names follow]
Note. -- The promenade above referred to was at one time the
objective point of a ludicrous practical joke perpetrated on the citizens of
both cities. About the year 1852,
handbills were prominently posted over the [cont. next page] cities, to the effect
that a man would, on a certain day, fly from the roof of the Hand-street
Bridge, and pass over the
Suspension Bridge to the south side.
Long before the hour had arrived for the performance, the shore on each
side of the river, and the Suspension Bridge, were densely crowded, and every
available water-craft was brought into requisition to view the novel sight of a
man flying. Promptly at the hour
indicated, the practical jokers made
their appearance on the roof of the
bridge [and released a large gray goose.]
This bridge was chartered in 1836, and erected the following
year, from the mouth of Mechanic Street,
now Sixteenth Street, Pittsburg,
to the mouth of Chestnut Street,
Allegheny, and opened for public travel in 1837. It was destroyed by fire, Jan. 26, 1851, and rebuilt the same
year. Total loss, $75,000, on which
there was an insurance of $20,000 . . .
J.K. Moorhead, E. Oles, Wood-work
William Pagan & Co., Stone-Work
Title: Directory of Pittsburgh
and Allegheny cities, 1864-1865.
Originally Published: Pittsburgh :
University Library System's Digital Research Library, 2003.
Pagan Robert, gent, cor Pitt ay
and Gay ay, A
[Pagan, Robert, gentleman, corner Pittsburgh
Avenue and Gay Avenue, Allegheny
Author: Crumrine, Boyd, 1838-1916
Title: History of Washington
County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and
prominent men / edited by Boyd Crumrine. Illustrated. Philadelphia:
L.H. Everts and Co., 1882.
Originally Published: [Evansville,
Ind. : Unigraphic, Inc., 1975]
City (p. 565)
Page 582, 583:
Williamsport Bridge Company.-- This company was chartered by
an act of the State Legislature, approved March 16, 1832 . . . Proposals for
constructing the bridge were opened in July, 1836, and the contracts were then
awarded to William Pagan and Robert Alston for stone-work, and to Lothrop & Stockton for superstructure.
The bridge was
completed in 1838, at a cost of about sixty thousand dollars; and that the
contractors performed honest work is attested by the fact that, though, it has
been a prominent landmark and in constant use for nearly half a century, it is
still in good condition. Its
length is nine hundred and
[Note: Robert Alston, William's son, was born ca. 1834, so
Robert Alston is possibly a typo.]
Author: Jordan, John W. (John Woolf),
Title: Genealogical and personal history of the Allegheny
Valley, Pennsylvania; under the editorial supervision of John W. Jordan. Vol. 3
Imprint: New York,
Lewis Historical Pub. Co., 1913.
Physical Extent: 3 v. illus., ports. 28 cm.
Alston was the contractor for a cement dam built on the Youghiogheny
[From the bio of Joseph Robbins, b. 1824]: "In the year of 1847, when the scheme
of improving by slack water the Youghiogheny river was
taken up, Mr. Robbins became one of its most active supporters, and aided in
the raising the amount required to construct two dams, one at Elrods, and one at Buena Vista . . . The two dams to be
constructed cost about $100,000, and this was raised by subscription to the
capital stock of the Youghiogheny Navigation
Company. The contract was let to William
Alston for the first lock at Elrods, and Theodore
Swan for the one at Buena Vista. These locks provided slack water navigation
from McKeesport to West
Newton. The contractors
encountered great difficulties in building the dams -- in following the
specifications. They required the dams
to be built of plank and filled in with concrete and the dams would not hold
water. The company had agreed with the coal
operators to have the dams finished in 1848.
The work was not completed until 1849, and was continued until the
winter of 1861, when the heavy freeze caused the ice to gorge and the tops were
taken off these dams . . . had the dams repaired and navigation resumed. In the winter of 1865-66 the ice was
exceedingly heavy. The dams were then
again badly damaged . . . about June 1,
1866, without any apparent cause, the upper dam gave way, and the
result was that the lower dam was broken and the slack water of the Youghiogheny river was gone
forever. The washout in the dam was a break of over twenty feet in width and
came without warning, leaving the boats which were being loaded along the river
at the coal tipples down on the bottom of the river ,
where they remained until broken up and destroyed by the floods of the
succeeding year . . . "
Note: Unable to find Elrods or the appropriate Buena Vista
on my atlases.
John Newton, 1854-1933.
Title: A century and
a half of Pittsburg and her people
/ by John Newton Boucher ; illustrated. Vol. 2.
Originally Published: [New York] : The Lewis Publishing Company, 1908.
Chapter XXIX. Architecture (p. 370)
There is no reason
for supposing that there was a resident architect in Pittsburg prior to 1828,
when the city had a population of perhaps eleven thousand . . . In the thirties
were built . . . at least two banks of superior style. They were the Merchants' and Manufacturers'
Bank and the Bank of Pittsburg. The
architect who built them was most likely John Chislett,
who came to Pittsburg, or at least
began business there, in 1833. He was
the architect of the court house built in 1841, and this building showed
clearly the bent of his mind toward the classic style of architecture.
The court house,
which was destroyed by fire on May 7,
1882, was one which reflected great credit on those who built
it. Its exterior showed the people of Pittsburg
even at that early day were cultivating a taste for the highest style in
architecture. The builders were Coltart and Dilworth. The main part of the building fronted
165 feet on Grant street,
and extended back
avenue 100 feet.
In the rear of this structure was the jail, which was connected with
it. Facing on Grant
street was a portico of
the purest style of Grecian architecture.
The entablature was supported by two rows of fluted columns, six in each
row, and each column was six feet in diameter.
The entire structure was of gray sandstone, which had been quarried from
the neighboring hills.
picture of building, with caption, Ruins of Old Court House, Pittsburg,
burned down Sunday, May 7, 1882]
The elements had darkened their original color somewhat, so
that it might easily have been taken for a granite building, but for the fact
that the stones scaled badly.
Surmounting all was a beautiful dome, supported by columns of stone and
the interior being supported by seven Corinthian columns. Above the dome was a lantern the top of which
was 148 feet above the pavement. The
dome was about thirty-seven
feet in diameter at its base. in the center of the
building was a rotunda sixty feet in diameter and eighty feet high. Surrounding the rotunda were four court
rooms, each forty-five feet square, and easily accessible to those were jury
rooms, and other apartments necessary in court business. On the basement floor were ten rooms,
twenty-five feet by thirty-two feet, which were used by the county officers. These rooms were arched with stone and were
supposed to be fire-proof, and were as nearly so as the architecture of that
day would admit of.
In these rooms were the public records kept. The whole effect of the structure was one of
strength, simplicity and beauty, and the architect had combined these with the
all-important requisite, utility in a remarkable degree. The structure is said to have cost about
This court house
was a very handsome structure, and began to be admired a great deal by the
citizens of Pittsburg as an old
building and as one of great architectural beauty. It had been first used in 1841. On Sunday,
May 7, 1882, it was destroyed by fire . . .
Title: Memoirs of Allegheny
County, Pennsylvania; personal
and genealogical, Vol. 1.
Originally Published: Madison,
Wis. : Northwestern Historical Association, 1904.
Memoirs of Allegheny County,
Pennsylvania, Volume I (p. 17)
Robert B. Pagan, of Haysville,
Pa, prominently identified with the oil
industry of that part of the country, was born on September 12, 1855.
He is a son of Robert Pagan, a native of Dumfries, Scotland, who came to
America in the spring of 1836, at the age of twenty-one years, and here
followed his trade of stone-cutting for a number of years, assisting in the
stone work on the old Williamsport bridge, and also doing that kind of work for
a railroad company. The dust from the
stone later began to affect his lungs, and consequently he gave up that trade
and engaged in farming in Ohio township, where he died on March 27, 1893, at the age of seventy-eight years . . .
[More on his son]