Waters Dewees Wood 1826-1899
Louisa Rosalinde Howell Gilpin 1829-1883
Gertrude St John 1854-1923
Waters Dewees Wood expanded the Wood iron and steel mill empire to Eastern Pennsylvania, to McKeesport and Pittsburgh.
Oldest son of Alan and Ann Hunter Dewees Wood, Waters Dewees Wood was born in Philadelphia, PA, April 17, 1826. He was the eldest of seven children, all of whom lived to adulthood. His childhood was spent amongst his father’s iron and steel mills where he learned the family business intuitively. His father had joined his grandfather in Wooddale, Delaware the year of his birth, so much of his childhood was spent in Delaware.
Second Street store of James Wood & Son, Philadelphia, birthplace of W. Dewees Wood
In 1842, W. Dewees, was at that time a lad of eighteen years, and had learned the rudiments of the business under the leadership of John Wood, while the latter was in charge of the Delaware Iron Works. W. Dewees Wood was put in charge of the mill under the direction of his father, who continued to live in Philadelphia, where he managed the business in the store, at No. 3 North Fifth Street, and sold the iron rolled in Delaware.
W. DEWEES MARRIES ROSALIND GILPIN
On March 16, 1848, W. Dewees Wood married Louisa “Rosalind” Howell Gilpin, in Wilmington, Delaware. Rosalind, or “Rose” as she was called, was the daughter of Richard Baker and Ann Reilly Porter Gilpin of Wilmington, Delaware.
Rosalind is the Wood family’s link to the Gilpin family.... first dating back in direct line to Sir Richard “The Rider” who in 1206 was given “Kentmere” by a grateful king for ridding the Kendal Valley, England, of boars. Joseph Gilpin, Sr. immigrated to America with his wife Hannah in 1696, settling in Chester County, Pennsylvania. It was her grandfather, Edward Gilpin (1760-1844) who had leased his land “by the bank of Wilmington and Breandwine and Edward Gilpin to James Wood for a period of 5 years from March 5, 1827. Here James and Alan Wood started the rolling and manufacturing business at the Delaware Iron Works. Little did Edward Gilpin and James Wood realize that years later their grandchildren would marry.
Dewees and Rosalind continued to live in Delaware until 1851. The first two of their children, Richard G. and Alan W. were born in the old Delaware home.
McKEESPORT IRON WORKS, Pittsburgh, PA
Waters Dewees Wood was the inventor of the process of making what is called “Russian” sheet-iron, and in 1851, he left his father’s business to go to McKeesport, Pennsylvania, where he associated with him Richard B. Gilpin, his father-in-law, and founded the McKeesport Iron Works to manufacture the sheet-iron by his patented process.
W Dewees Wood Company Works at McKeesport, PA
The Delaware Iron Works were then left in charge of Alan Wood, Jr., a younger son of Alan Wood, and only seventeen years old at this time.
Richard B Gilpin retired in 1855, but the McKeesport company was continued under the name of Wood, Moorhead & Co. In January, 1859, Mr. Wood leased the works to M. K. Moorhead and George F. McCleane, who had been his partners, and resumed the management of his father’s mill at Wilmington, Delaware. Upon the expiration of the lease in 1861, he took up his own business with Alan W. Lukens.
A TIME IN DELAWARE
For six years the Delaware Iron Works remained under the supervision of Alan, Jr., but at the end of that time, in 1857, the “Panic of 1857” caused his brother, W. Dewees, temporarily to give up his venture in McKeesport and return to Delaware, where for four years he was again manager of the little water mill. It was an ideal spot for his family of boys, as well as for his youngest brother, Howard, who frequently came from Philadelphia to visit. They all thoroughly enjoyed the country life, spending much time fishing and swimming in the mill race.
He remained there until 1861 when he returned to McKeesport.
BACK TO McKEESPORT
In the succeeding year his partners withdrew, and Alan Wood Lukens, his cousin, joined him in the firm of WOOD & LUKENS. Mr. Lukens withdrew later, and Mr. Wood took into partnership three sons, Richard G., Alan W., and Thomas D. Wood. The firm existed until 1888, when it was incorporated under the name of the W. DEWEES WOOD COMPANY.
WOOD'S "PLANISHED IRON"… BETTER THAN RUSSIAN SHEET IRON
At McKeesport, he carried on experiments on an extensive scale in annealing, cleaning, oxidizing and polishing processes. About the year 1872 he started to give the material a highly finished mottled surface by polishing the sheet under planishing hammers with large chilled face dies; and thereby give it the appearance which was one of the chief peculiarities of the Russian iron. From year to year the product had been further improved until the sheets surpassed the original Russian product in finish and uniformity of gauge. The Russian sheet iron made at this plant, called by Mr. Wood “planished iron,” almost superseded the imported article in this market.
Wellsville Plant of theW Deewees Wood Company
Other enterprises of Mr. Wood were the WELLSVILLE PLATE and SHEET IRON COMPANY, at Wellsville, Ohio, which he founded in 1880, and THE WOODSON COMPANY, on the Monongahela River, a few miles above Elizabeth. This was under construction when the firm sold out in 1900.
W. D. WOOD & COMPANY, 1871
In 1871, Mr. Lukens retired and the firm of W. D. Wood & Co., was formed, the partners being his three sons, Alan W., Richard G., and Thomas D., and in 1858, the W. Dewees Wood Co. was incorporated, with Mr. Wood, president; Richard G Wood, vice-president and general manager; Alan W. Wood, secretary and treasurer, and Thomas D. Wood, superintendent. The annual capacity of the company was now about 5,000 tons of patent planished sheet-iron, which had a world-wide reputation and which had almost entirely displaced the Russia iron in America. Other products of these works amount to 25,000 tons additional per annum; 1,200 men are employed.
Mr. Wood also owned the Wellsville, Ohio, Plate and Sheet Iron Co., of which his son-in-law, Persifor F. Smith was president and he built the McKeesport Illuminating Gas Works, which he sold to the United Gas Improvement Company in 1897.
ROSIE'S PASSING and REMARRIAGE
Unfortunately, Rosalind Gilpin Wood passed away on May 19, 1883 in Pittsburgh. She was 53 years of age and left her youngest three children still living at home. W. Dewees married a second time, six years later. He and Gertrude St. John were married on May 23, 1889 in New York City. Gertrude was born in Alabama, but had lived for years in New York. Dewees was 63 and Gertrude 35 when they were married. Four years later, Gertrude gave birth to a daughter, Gertrude Dewees Wood. Dewees once again was a father at the age of 67! Gertrude was their only child.
Gertrude St John Wood
Waters Dewees Wood was still working as president of the W. Dewees Wood Company in January of 1899, when he died in Pittsburgh. He was 72 years old.
Gertrude St John Wood passed away on May 4, 1923, in Pittsburgh. She was 69 years old.
Mr. Wood’s Will, dated 15 Feb 1893, and a Codicil, dated 28 Oct 1898 was filed 11 Jan 1899, Register of Wills, Pittsburgh, PA, No. 168, Will Book 57, page 314.
Sons of W. Dewees and Rosalind:
Richard GilpinWood and Thomas Dewees Wood
Gertrude Dewees Lawson, daughter of W. Dewees and Gertrude St. John
Obituary Article from The American Economist, Feb 10 1899:
The American Economist, with sorrow, records the death of W. Dewees Wood, president of the W. Dewees Wood Company, one of the oldest and most prominent iron and steel manufacturers of Pittsburgh, and long an active member of the American Protective Tariff League.
Mr. Wood was nearly 73 years of age at the time of his death, and his life has been an important part of the history of the iron and steel industry. Both his grandfather, James Wood, and his father, Alan Wood, were in the business before him. James Wood made crucible steel at Valley Forge, Delaware as long ago as 1818, while in 1829, James and Alan Wood were pioneers in the manufacture of American sheet iron at their works, five miles from Wilmington. The works for the manufacture of sheet iron, which James Wood & Son built, at Conshohocken, PA in 1832, are still in the family of James Wood’s descendants. Alan Wood, Jr., and Howard Wood, sons of Alan Woods, Sr. are the leading members of the Alan Wood Company, which owns the Schuylkill Iron Works, also at Conshohocken, built in 1858, their special product being sheet and plate iron and steel.
W. Dewees Wood was their brother. He was trained by his father in all the details of the manufacture of plate and sheet iron, and at an early age was entrusted by him with the management of the works near Wilmington.
Mr. Wood’s identification with the iron industry of Pittsburgh and Allegheny county appears to have dated from 1851, in which year, in company with his father-in-law, Richard B. Gilpin, under the firm name of Wood & Gilpin, he established the sheet iron works at McKeesport, which have since grown into large propertions and are famous everywhere for their special product, Russian sheet iron.
In 1855 Mr. Gilpin sold his interest in the works to Max Moorhead and George F. McCleane, and the name of the firm was changed to Wood, Moorhead & Company. In 1862 Mr. Moorhead and Mr. McCleane retired and were succeeded by Alan W. Lukens, a cousin of Mr. Wood, and the firm then became Wood & Lukens. In 1871 Mr. Lukens retired and Mr. Wood and his sons have ever since owned and managed the works, first as W D Wood & Co. and afterward as the W. Dewees Wood Company. The works at McKeesport are known as the McKeesport Iron Works. Mr. Wood was also one of the owners, with his son-in-law, Persifor F. Smith, and his sons, of the works of the Wellsville Plate & Sheet Iron Company, at Wellsville, Ohio.
Mr. Wood was one of the most enterprising and successful men that have ever been connected with the American iron trade. He was a liberal employer, a kind-hearted gentleman, and a good citizen.”
Name: Waters Dewees Wood Birth - Death: 1826-1899 Source Citation:
• The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. Volume 12. New York: James T. White & Co., 1904. Use the Index to locate biographies. (NatCAB 12)
Plot: Section: 13, Lot: 64, Grave: 1
1870 Census shows the Wood family (six children, ages 3-21) living in McKeesport, Allegheny, Pennsylvania. Their final child, George Waters would be born the following year. Waters “Dewees” is 44 and “Rose” is 40. Dewees’ occupation is listed as iron manufacturer. There are five servants employed in the home.
1880 Census shows Waters Dewees Wood living with his family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His occupation is listed as “iron manufacturer.” He is now 54 years old and his wife, Rosalind, is 50. Living with them are their daughters, Laura Smith (27), Anna (14), Nellie (12) and son George (9). There are three female and one male servants employed in the home.
A Passport Application in 1884 (Waters Dewees was then 58 years old) described WD Wood as: 5 feet 7 1/2 inches tall, high forehead, black eyes, straight nose, medium mouth, chin with hair, brown hair, and dark complexion and full face. Another passport application, in 1898, the year before his death described him as aged 72, 5 foot 7 inches, black eyes, prominent nose, medium mouth, chin with beard, brown hair, slightly gray and full face.
ARTICLES OF INTEREST:
From “McKeesport” by McKeesport Heritage Center Volunteers (avail. at Amazon)
“The Monongahela and Youghiogheny Rivers have always played a central role in the history of McKeesport, starting with the meeting on the banks of the Monongahela River of George Washington and Queen Aliquippa in 1753. Soon after, Gen. Edward Braddock and his troops, with aide-de-camp George Washington, journeyed through what is now White Oak and McKeesport to engage the French and drive them from western Pennsylvania.
John Frazier, a trapper had a cabin in the area and is considered the first settler. Next came the McKee familly - the patriarch, David; his wife, Margaret; their sons, Robert James Thomas, David, and John; and their daughters Margaret and Mary. In 1755, they arrived at the point where the two rivers met and cleared the land for cabins and farming. McKee started a skiff ferry over both rivers and soon other families followed to McKee’s Ferry, as it was then known. In 1769, the McKees bought several tracts of land from the colonial land office. Joh, McKee’s son, laid out 200 lots, which he offered for sale in 1795 when the name was changed to McKee’s Port. After the Native Americans were subdued in Pontiac’s War, the area continued to grow. The town that McKee founded had access to the rivers for transportation of raw materials, coal deposits in the immediate area, lumber for building, and an influx of settlers. It was inevitable that industry would flourish there.
In 1851, W. Dewees Wood purchased land on the northeast corner of Walnut and Water Streets and erected an iron works. Later this became a rolling mill, which was incorporated as the W. DeWees Wood Company, and produced sheet iron. Thus the groundwork was laid for the industry that would make McKeesport and iron and steel center. The Flagler Company from Boston, Massachusetts, moved there in 1870 and renamed itself the National Tube Works. The National Tube Works, W. DeWees Wood Company, and the American Sheet Association merged to become the US Seamless Tube Company in 1896. A consolidation of 13 major tube and pipe producers created the National Tube Company in 1899, and it became a subsideary of US Steel in 1901.
McKeesport became known as “Tube City” and attractead other companies in the 19th and 20th centuries, such as Carnegie (later US Steel), Kelsey Hayes, Firth Sterling, Continental Can, and Fisher Body. The products coming out of McKeesport helped the United States win two world wars and contributed to a heightened standard of living for its citizens.”
Volume 2, by Walter Hines Page and Arthur Wilson Page. Article from the book, “The World’s Work... A History of our Time,
A MILL TOWN IN STRIKE TIME: McKeesport, PA under the Excitement of the Steel Strike -- the Instructive History of the Wood Mill: Before Unions and Trusts and Under a Trust and A Union -- New Weapons in Labor Warfare. By M . G. Cunniff:
“This is a study of McKeesport, PA, and of some of the phases of the strike of the steel-workers. The writer went there and talked with all sorts of men, because in the early months of the strike the most instructive events happened there; and the Dewees Wood sheet steel mill there has a history that is full of instruction in a strike-time. Here men were managed for nearly half a century with wonderfully good results -- by human touch. The human touch had been removed hardly a year when trouble began. The story is suggestive alike to corporation builders, to workmen and to students of the ways of men.
McKeesport was self-consciously idle. Uncomfortable groups of men loafed about the railroad station, talking with much waving of the hands: Shaffer had said this or that. Up and down Fifth Avenue sauntered aimless strikers. In a second floor window overlooking the crowd was a man smoking a cigar. His crossed feet rested on the window sill; before him on a desk was a heap of better newspaper clippings. The sign on the window was “Doctor Black” -- the man, mayor, by the grace of one vote, of the city of McKeesport. On the river, in skiffs, and scattered around the vast stretch of sleeping mills the pickets of the strikers watched for “scabs.”
Down at the foot of Walnut Street rang the sound of hammers. A steam-crane was at work, and a switch-engine was shunting carloads of steel-billets and mill machinery. President McMurtry of the American Sheet Steel Company had checked the strikers by ordering the dismantling of the W. Dewees Wood Sheet Steel Mill, the oldest factory in the city; and a gang of laborers were demolishing it. The strikers said that the order to dismantle it was a “bluff”; in the main the townspeople also held this view; but, at all events, there was work then going on inside the mill. About the city, moreover, ran a disquieting rumor that the reported utterances of the mayor and the strike of the tube-workers, one of whom when asked as they struck, why they were coming out, replied: “Aw, we dunno; we’re just strikin’, had provoked the Steel Corporation to move also the mile-long Tube Works. That, too, it was said, would depart, leaving McKeesport as dead as Babylon.
Here was a new situation; the city, a prosperous and growing community of 35,000 inhabitants, but absolutely dependent on its mills, was facing the threat of utter industrial extinction.
The situation becomes more dramatic when the history of the town is recalled. The kernel of the tale is the history of the Wood mill. The story of that establishment throws a brilliant light on the growth and power, and the workings, of trusts and labor unions.
In 1856, W. Dewees Wood came from his father’s sheet-iron mill at Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, to the Monongahela Valley to build a factory. He knew a secret process for making planished iron, the shiny non-corrosive material that is used as the outside covering for locomotive boilers because polished metal holds heat better than rough. Though it had been supposed that the method of making it was known only in Russia, so that it is still called “Russia Iron,” Dewees Wood had the secret; and when he searched the valley for a suitable location for a Russia iron mill, he selected a spot just below the junction of the Youghiogheny and the Monongahela in the little village of McKeesport. There in 1856 the corner-stone of the new mill was laid.
The establishment consisted at first of a single pair of sheet rolls. But as the business waxed year by year, the mill spread out on both sides of Walnut Street; the force of workmen increased; through the development of the mill the village of McKeesport grew as the mill grew; and the workmen became known as highly skilled laborers and good citizens of the town, and Dewees Wood as an ideal employer.
“Every man in the works,” said a striker to me in McKeesport, “was ‘Tom’ or ‘Joe’ or ‘Bill’ to him; every day he would walk about and joke with the workers at the furnaces and rolls; and, if a mann looked ill, he would slap him on the back and tell him to take a few days off. He didn’t take the vacation out of the man’s time, either.” When a man had been killed in the mill - and the list of cuts and burns and broken backs along the Monongahela is appalling - the widow and the children regularly received the dead man’s pay envelop until they were able to take care of themselves. The enthusiastic reverence that the people of McKeesport, from bank presidents to the most hot-headed of strikers, pay the memory of W. Dewees Wood, implies that his methods were successful. On his return from a journey he always made a round of the mills, shaking hands with every Tom and Joe and Bill in the whole plant, like a man coming back to his family. Once, too, it is said, he was offered a chance to buy real estate to sell to his workmen - and the men working for him were of the kind that begin early to acquire homes - but his reported reply was, “No, I will not take back from the men the money I paid them in wages.”
The growing city needed a library;; the largest contributor was W. Dewees Wood. Nor did the men in the mill fail to respond. When, according to his habit, Mr. Wood advanced money to a man to tide him over a long illness - a man injured in the mill was supported outright - although the debt was never mentioned, every man gradually paid what he owed to the last dollar.
With these hearty relations between employer and employee, the mill grew until it covered fourteen acres and employed in rush times 1200 men, though the usual force was about 900; and Mr. Wood was able to make his favorite boast that every locomotive in the country wore a jacket of McKeesport steel. Around the works had grown up a flourishing town, and when twenty-five years ago capitalists from Boston built the Tube Works, that now extend from the Wood plant to Demmler at the outskirts of McKeesport, the town grew into a city. In that city the best known and best-liked man was W. Dewees Wood. In that city, too, which has prided itself on having more home-owning workmen than any other city of its size in the country, the employees of the Wood mill, the greater number of whom own their homes, were regarded as the highest type of skilled steel workers.
All this time there was no union at the W. Dewees Wood mill, nor was there any great corporation controlled by non-residents. “I shall run my own mill in my own way,” Mr. Wood was fond of saying. “If not, I shall not run it at all.” Whenever the men in the works had a grievance, an impromptu committee visited Mr. Wood, and the matter was discussed. Sometimes it was decided one way, sometimes the other, but always by Mr. Wood, and never so as to arouse resentment. Said one of the strikers, “he was always fair.” So firm was he, however, in maintaining his right to peremptory decision that a common remark during the strike was “If Dewees Wood had lived the mill would not now be threatened; he would never have gone into the trust.” At all events, while he lived he was executive officer of his own business. When he died, some half dozen years ago, the mill was closed, and every employee went to Pittsburg to the funeral, the older men in carriages sent by the family. How clearly he is remembered; any visitor to McKeesport may discover by asking the first passer-by what sort of man was W. Dewees Wood.
After his death the mill passed to his three sons, who, according to current talk in McKeesport, closely resemble their father. Mr. R G Wood, one of the sons, took charge of the mill. Business had fallen off a little, but the mill was still coating American locomotives with planished iron, still ran non-union; and Mr. Wood cooperated with his employees after the manner of his father.
But a little over two years ago appeared in McKeesport the American Sheet Steel Company, which in consolidating sheet steel plants took in the W. Dewees Wood mill, giving, it is said, $2,000,000 worth of mortgage bonds on the plant to the Wood brothers and making Mr. R G Wood manager. The people of McKeesport say that he was unwilling to sell. “But,” remarked a well-known citizen, “what could Dick Wood do?” He was trying to get new machinery at Philadelphia, billet steel for his rolls, cheap railroad rates - and he found the trust in his path. Said he to me when the transfer was made “I don’t want to go into the trust; I have to. If I hold out I can’t get supplies for my mill; I must go in.”
Almost at once it became a matter of common report that the mill was going to leave McKeesport. To mass all the sheet steel mills at some one town - Vandergrift was named - the Sheet Steel Company, it was said, would tear down the Wood plant. This is important, for when President McMurtry’s dismantling order was issued in August, and reports were rife that the departure of the Wood mill alone would mean the ruin of the city, it was recalled in McKeesport that the first announcement of the company’s project was of so little importance to the outer world that it had not been regarded as news beyond the Monogahela Valley. The strike magnified its sensational value.
As reasons for moving the mill it was urged that it was old and out of date; that it was cramped for room; that the point in the river made by the slag dumps upon which the Duquesne mills were built dammed the river in the spring until it flooded the boiler house; that the Tube Works wanted the land. Such a removal, however, was simply a business undertaking, to be reckoned with as such; workmen who had built houses in McKeesport were free agents - they could sell and flow, or sever connections with the mill and remain. There was regret but no bitter feeling.
Each year, however, the men had to sign contracts to remain non-union - and here enters a consideration bearing on an important question of the early days of the strike. Regarding the breaking of contracts by the Amalgamated Association itself nothing need be said. But it was often hotly declared that the Amalgamated Association had called on non-union men to break individual contracts with employers. Said a Wood mill striker with equal heat: “If an official comes through a mill, seeing the workmen one at a time, and asking each man to sign a contract, with the implied threat that the man will be discharged if he does not, the act is so near coercion that the contract, signed unwillingly, should not bind him. Even if all contracts began and expired at the same time, they might expect us to keep them; but when the contracts are so arranged that some expire at one time and some at another, so that under the system an no time could all contract non-union men be free to organize, such a shrewd plan on the part of the manufacturers must be met by drastic measures on the part of the Association, much as we hate to resort to them.”
At the Wood mill, therefore, under the Sheet Steel Company, there were demands for contracts on the one side and silent organizing on the other, until in April of this year (1905?) ten men were discharged for organizing. Mr. R. G. Wood, after begging the men not to organize, had resigned his position as manager, rather than fight his father’s old employees. Upon the discharge of the ten men for joining the Amalgamated Association, this supposed non-union milll struck in a body. The trouble was temporarily adjusted; but the Amalgamated Association was tightening its ranks for a fight, and during the two weeks’ shutdown of the mill in July for repairs, the strike was called. A member of the Amalgamated Association, with how much exaggeration it is impossible to say, asserted that all but six of the Wood mill employees were members of the association; and George Holloway, boss heater in the mill, was president of Enterprise Lodge of McKeesport. In brief, a business establishment that, as James Evans, President of the Bank of McKeesport and the most eminent citizen of the town, remarked, “helped give the city a world-wide reputation, made high grade specialties, furnished steady employment at the highest wages, and employed the best class of workmen in the city, prosperous citizens who owned their own homes,” was forced into a trust; a union was quickly organized in the mill, affiliated with the unions of other mills and pledged to uphold them even in questions not directly concerning the mill itself; and the result was, first, a strike, and then an order from an official of the trust to remove this institution of which the city was proud, and which had been the basis of its prosperity, with the assertion from another official of the trust that the removal was due not to ordinary business reasons but to a new feature in the problem -- the acts and words of the Mayor and citizens of McKeesport.
Thus came quickly the dramatic change from the methods and the personality of the elder Wood (W Dewees) to the present complex situation - from non-union to union; from private ownership and management to corporation ownership and management.
The words of the mayor are more numerous than his acts. His few acts were these: He declined to send police to the tube mill on the request of the chief of the private police of the mill when the strikers were gathered before the gates to meet and argue with the non-union men still at work; and he caused the arrest of strangers in the town who in the judgment of the police came under the “suspicious character” law, but not, as has been asserted, all strangers; up to the time when he became famous in the newspapers this was the sum of his activity. It was his too fluent talk that made the trouble.
As for the business men of the town, bankers, merchants, real estate men and the rest, they did not support the mayor. Privately they severely censured him, not so much for what he did as for his loose talk.
Now as far as the Wood mill is concerned, its removal was contemplated as soon as the Sheet Steel Company had bought the plant. The order for dismantling it was withheld until, during a strike, it was possible to use it for two strategical purposes... to frighten the strikers and to frighten the town into opposition to the strike.
Now take the point of view of McKeesport citizens. They have nothing to do with the strike, nor the Amalgamated Association, nor any steel company. Their gravest sin was permitting a man who talked too much to be elected mayor by one vote. Like a clap of thunder comes the threat of warring industrial powers to make their city a desolate place. The forgotten man in these wars of labor and capital is the innocent victim. And such a war may come, not because of any trouble in their own city, but of a dispute by the labor organization and the great steel company a thousand miles away. Such a situation, even as a mere possibility, raises the question: “Who are our masters, if not labor-unions and industrial corporations?”
McKeesport has been as prosperous as any mill city of its size in the country. Large numbers of the working men who make up the bulk of the community own snug homes that are the reward of decades of labor; it is said that McKeesport leads the cities of its class in the number of working men who own their own houses. Not far from the centre of the town is a broad hilltop overlooking the valleys of the Momomgahela and the Youghiogheny. This hilltop is dotted with houses ranging from tar-papered shanties to verandaed cottages with pretensions, and in every house lives a mill workman who owns the ground beneath his feet and the roof above him. The shanty-dwellers have paid for their land and are saving to build good houses; the others in years of skilled labor in the mills at wages ranging from $5-15 a day, have laid by a respectable competence.
The city has four banks and a trust company founded at various times in the last twenty-six years; and unlike some larger cities it has had for some time a clearinghouse; though the banks are also members of the Pittsburg clearinghouse. No bank has ever failed in the city. With a school enrollment of 6,500 pupils, it is sending into a well-equipped high school this year a class of 115 children. In this high school the largest classes are the commercial and the normal, composed almost wholly of the sons and daughters of the skilled workmen in the mills. The city supports several hotels and three daily newspapers, and a weekly published for the Swedish population, a conservative element, who after striking refused to join the Amalgamated Association. Two trolley lines make an hour’s run to Pittsburg, and the city is accessible by three railroads and a packet line on the river. It is a representative community of considerable importance, and it does not deserve a premature visit from Macaulay’s New Zealander.
When this article is finished the steel strike is still unsettled; and the future of McKeesport is undetermined, so far as the public knows. But the dramatic instance that the town affords of the far-reaching and complex social violence that an ill-managed and unnecessary labor-war may cause is as clear as it can ever become; and here is the contrast between working life under the former non-union, non-corporation conditions and the conditions which now exist with ambitious labor unions and great corporations. From it every man may draw his own conclusions according to his prejudices and his wisdom.