History of Allegheny county, Pennsylvania
Chicago : A. Warner Co., 1889:
Cushing, Thomas, 1821.
“ALEXANDER McCLURG.The name of McCLURG is a prominent and honored one in the early history of Pittsburgh.The most widely known representative of that name was ALEXANDER McCLURE, the subject of this sketch.He was closely identified with the earliest efforts to found and foster the manufacturing industries of Western Pennsylvania, and later to place them on a firm and sure foundation.Like many of the leading men and families of Pittsburgh, MR. McCLURG sprang from a Scotch-Irish source.His father was JOSEPH McCLURG, of Colerain, in the north of Ireland, where ALEXANDER was born in 1788.JOSEPH McCLURG, the father, was filled with that love of liberty and progress which was just then awaking in the hearts of men, and he became one of the ardent and active patriots of his time and country.He was a leader in the movement of the “United Irishmen” in 1798, and like so many other Irishmen who have loved their country, he incurred the bitter hatred of the English government.On the failure of the efforts of the patriots, his arrest was ordered, and he was compelled hastily to fly from the country he loved.He sought concealment on a small vessel which was about to sail for the United States, and though the vessel was twice searched for him before she put to sea, he escaped, and finally arrived safely, but alone, in Philadelphia.He immediately made arrangements for his young wife and children to join him there, but when they arrived the yellow fever was raging so severely in that city that he pushed on farther west with them, and settled in the then young city of Pittsburgh.
It is interesting now to think what a beautiful spot this region must have been, situated as it was at the junction of two mighty and beautiful rivers, and surrounded for his home a beautiful spot on the south bank of the Monongahela, at some distance from the then small city, a site now shorn of its rural beauties, and embraced in the Twenty-fourth ward of Pittsburgh.Here JOSEPH McCLURG built what was at that time a capacious and comfortable old-style mansion, and, true to his love of the freedom in whose cause he had suffered, he named it “Liberty Hall.”Some of the older citizens will still recall it as it stood in its later days, fallen into ruin and neglect, and surrounded by mills and furnaces.It was not finally swept away until about 1845.
Before his death, which occurred in 1825, JOSEPH McCLURG, in connection with his enterprising young son, ALEXANDER, had erected and operated the first foundry built in Pittsburgh, and indeed the first foundry west of the Alleghany mountains.This foundry stood upon the ground now occupied by the postoffice building, and may properly be considered to have been the first step in founding the important industry which has since given wealth and prosperity to a great city.ALEXANDER McCLURG was the active spirit of this enterprise, and from this start he rapidly pushed forward in the development of all industries connected with the manufacture of iron, until before many years he was the owner and operator of various foundries, rolling-mills and blast furnaces in the vicinity of what was rapidly becoming known as the “Smoky City.”Perhaps the best known as the these industries was the great “Fort Pitt Works.”This noted establishment was founded by ALEXANDER McCLURG.It grew to great proportions, and afterward, as will be remembered, during our civil war it supplied to the government great quantities of ordnance-stores and guns of the very largest dimension.
In 1817 ALEXANDER McCLURG was married to MISS SARAH TREVOR, daughter of an English gentleman who had settled at Connellsville, Fayette county, Pa., and in 1825 the rapid development of his many manufacturing and commercial enterprises caused him to remove to Philadelphia, where he was already largely interested in the wholesale dry-goods business.The next ten years were, with him, years of great activity.He not only carried manufacture of iron, but he established branches of his Philadelphia dry-goods house in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Louisville, and also carried on very extensively the wholesale hardware business.He was the leading spirit in many firms, such as McCLURG, Denniston & Co., McCLURG, Wade & Co., McCLURG, Trevor & Co., McCLURG, Darlington & Co. and others, and for years his business enterprises everywhere were aggressive and successful.When, however, the financial crisis of 1837 came, owing rather to misplaced confidence in some of his partners than to want of business skill and prudence, many of his ventures were overtaken with disaster, and once more he returned to Pittsburgh to save what he could from the wreck of his fortune, and here he spent the remainder of his very active life.
MR. McCLURG’S first wife died in Allegheny City in 1840, and in 1845 he was again married to MARGARET CASKEY, who survived him.He died in Allegheny City April 6, 1873,(pg. 296) leaving six children by his first wife.ALEXANDER McCLURG was always a public-spirited citizen, and an ardent and fearless champion of the political opinions which he espoused.He was one of the early advocates of the abolition of human slavery, and it was a matter of great pride with him that he erected and owned Lafayette hall, at the corner of Wood and Fourth streets, in the City of Pittsburgh, where, on the 22d of February, 1856, the national convention was held which inaugurated the republican party, a party which was so soon to carry the country through a great civil war, and finally to free it from the curse of negro slavery.
MR. McCLURG was until his death a strong supporter of republican principles, and an opponent of every form of public wrong and tyranny; but it will be as a far-sighted and enterprising business-man that he will be chiefly remembered.It is not a little distinction to have been the first to found and foster, as it is believed he was, the industry by which the city of Pittsburgh has grown into its great prosperity.
Of the six children left by MR. McCLURG, TREVOR, the eldest, became an artist of considerable distinction, living abroad for many years, and now residing in Philadelphia; SARAH ANNE, the eldest daughter, became the wife of GEORGE HOGG, ESQ., of Tower Hill, near Brownsville, Pa.; WILLIAM A., who married a daughter of the late CHIEF JUSTICE WALTER H. LOWRIE, was for many years prominent in business affairs in Pittsburgh, and now lives in Meadville, Pa.; CAROLINE M., married HON. E. F. DRAKE, formerly speaker of the Ohio house of representatives and now an influential citizen of St. Paul, Minn.; MARY FRANCES remained unmarried, and lives with her sister, MRS. DRAKE, in St. Paul; while ALEXANDER C., the youngest, served with distinction in the war of the rebellion, rising to the grade of a general officer, and is now a successful bookseller and publisher in Chicago.”