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Monongahela, the other stretching up the Allegheny river ; while the town of straggling houses, easily counted, and more of logs than frame, and more of the latter than of brick or stone, lay from the junction of the Monongahela. On the bank of the Allegheny, at the distance of a long Sunday afternoon's walk, stood Fort Fayette, surmounted by the stripes and stars of the old thir. teen : and from this place the King's Orchard, or garden, extending to the ditch of old Fort Pitt, the name by which the little town was then known. On the north side of the river just mentioned, the hills rose rude and rough, without the smoke of a single chimney to afford a rhyme to the muse of Tom Moore
“I knew by the smoke that so gracefully curled
Above the green elms, that a cottage was near.” The clear and beautiful Allegheny, the loveliest stream that ever glistened to the moon, gliding over its polished pebbles, being the Ohio, or La Belle Riviere, under a different name, was still the boundary of civilization ; for all beyond it was called the Indian country, and associated in the mind with many a fireside tale of scalping-knife, hair-breadth escapes, and all the horrors of savage warfare.
On the Monongahela side, the hills rose from the water's edge to the height of a mountain, with some two or three puny houses squeezed in between it and the river. On its summit stood the farm house and barn of Major Kirkpatrick. The barn was burnt down by the heroes of the Whiskey Insurrection, and this happening in the night, threw a light over the town so brilliant that one might see to pick up a pin in the street.
To the east-for I am now supposed to be standing on the brow of Grant's hill—the ground was peculiarly picturesque, and beautifully diversified with hill and dale, having undergone some httle change from the state of nature. The hill was the favorite promenade in fine weather, and on Sunday afternoon. It was pleasing to see the line of well-dressed ladies and gentlemen, and children-nearly the whole population-repairing to this beautiful eminence. It was considered so essential to the comfort and recreation of the inhabitants, that they could scarcely imagine how a town could exist without its Grant's hill! There was a fine spring half way up, which was supposed to afford better water than that of the pumps, and some persons even thought it was possessed of medical properties—which might be the case, after a pleasant afternoon's walk, and the toil in overcoming the steep ascent.
What a change in the appearance of Pittsburg since that day !-since the time when I used to roll over and over on the smooth side of Grant's
Sed fugit interea, fugit irrevocabile tempus. Yes, that beautiful hill itself, which might have enjoyed a green old age, has been prematurely cut to pieces and murdered by barbarous hands! The shallow pond at its base, where we used to make our first attempts at skating, has been wickedly and wilfully filled up, and is now con. cealed by brick buildings—the croaking of the bull-frogs having given place to men, more noisy still than they. What is passing strange, as if in mockery of nature, the top of the hill is half covered by an enormous reservoir of water, thrown up there from the Allegheny river by means of steam engines, while the remainder is occupied by a noble cathedral church. What is still more lamentable, the hill itself has been perforated, and a stream has been compelled to flow through the passage, at an expense that would have discouraged a Roman emperor. Streets have been cut in its sides, as if there was a great scarcity of ground in this new world; and in time houses will rise up along them like those of the Cowgate in Edinburgh-thirteen stories on one side, and half a story on the other. In short, it would fill a volume to enumerate the changes produced in a quarter of a century-in which comparatively short space of time, a small village has grown into a large city, possessing extensive capital, manufactures, and a wide-spread commerce. Its increase is still in the same ratio, and will continue until it reaches half a million of souls. Such has been the extraordinary growth of this city, that every ten years produce such a change as to render the person who has been absent during that period almost a stranger.
But to return again to Grant's hill—for I have not yet completed my sketch of the appearance of the place in olden time, and should consider it extremely imperfect if I were to say nothing of the race-course, to which the plain or common between it and the Allegheny was appropriated ; but at this day, since it has become the scene of business, it would-require the whole amount of the sweepstakes to furnish a single foot of ground there. At the time to which I allude, the plain was entirely unincumbered by buildings or enclosures, excepting the Dutch church, which stood aloof from the haunts of man, unless at those times when it was forced to become the cen. tre of the hippodrome. And the races, shall we say nothing of that obsolete recreation? It was then an affair of all-engrossing interest, and every business or pursuit was neglected during their continuance. The whole town was daily poured forth to witness the Olympian games, many of all ages and sexes as spectators, and many more, directly or indirectly, interested in a hundred different ways. The plain within the course, and near it, was filled with booths as at a fair, where everything was said, and done, and sold, and eaten or drunk—where every fifteen or twenty minutes there was a rush to some part, to witness a fistycuf-where dogs barked and bit,
and horses trod on men's toes, and booths fell down on people's heads! There was Crowder with his fiddle and his votaries, making the dust fly with a four-handed or rather four-footed reel ; and a little further on was Dennis Loughy, the blind poet, like Homer casting his pearls before swine, chanting his master-piece in a tone part nasal and part guttural
“ Come, gentlemen, gentlemen all,
Genral Sincleer shall rem'ber'd be,
In the Western Tari.to-ree." All at once the cry, To horse! to horse ! suspended every other business or amusement as effectually as the summons of the faithful. There was a rush towards the starting post, while many betook themselves to the station best fitted for the enjoyment of the animating sight. On a scaffold, elevated above the heads of the people, were placed the patres patriæ, as judges of the race, and—but I am not about to describe the races : my object was merely to call to mind the spot where they were formerly executed ; yet my pen on this occasion was near running away with me, like the dull cart-horse on the course, who feels a new fire kindled under his ribs, and, from seeing others scamper, is seized with a desire of trying his heels also. The Dutch church, after some time spent in searching, was found by me; but as for the race field, it is now covered with three-story brick buildings, canal basins, and great warehouses-instead of tempo rary booths, erected with forks, and covered with boughs just cut from the woods.
It will be the business of the annalist, or of the historian, to trace the gradual progress of in. crease, or the various changes which the city has undergone. Who would imagine, on beholding the concourse of country merchants from all quarters, laying in their supplies of merchandise for the purpose of retail, that, but a few years ago, the business was done in small shops, part cash and part country produce, that is, for skins, tallow, beeswax, and maple sugar ? Who would imagine that the arrival and encampment of Cornplanter Indians on the bank of the Allegheny, would make a great stir among the merchants? It was quite a cheering sight, and one which made brisk times, to see the squaws coming in with their packs on their backs, and to whom the business of selling as high, and buying as cheap as possible, was intrusted. Now an Indian is not to be seen, unless it be some one caught in the woods a thousand miles off, and sent to Washington in a cage to make a treaty for the sale of lands.
I can still remember when the mountains were crossed by pack-horses only, and they might be seen in long files, arriving and departing with their burdens swung on pack-saddles. Wagons and wagon roads were used in the slow progress of things, and then the wonder of the west, a turnpike, was made over the big hills; and now, canals and railways are about to bring us as near to Philadelphia and Baltimore, as the Susquehanna was in those times. The western insurrection is not so much a matter of wonder, and there is no trifling
excuse for the dissatisfaction of the west, when we reflect on their situation at that period. The two essentials of civil. ized and half.civilized life, iron and salt, were almost the only articles they could procure. And how could they procure them? There was no sale for their grain down the Ohio and Mississippi, on account of the Indian war, and the possession of New Orleans by the Spaniards. There was no possibility of transporting their produce across the mountains, for sale or barter. There was but one article by means of which they could contrive to obtain their supplies, and that was whiskey! A few kegs were placed on each side of a horse, transported several hundred miles, and a little salt and iron brought back in their place. Is it any wonder that the excise, in addi. tion to the expense of transportation, almost cut them off even from this miserable resource ?
Before my time, Black Charles kept the first hotel in the place; when I can first remember, the sign of General Butler, kept by Patrick Murphy, was the head tavern; and afterwards the Green Tree, on the bank of the Monongahela, kept by William Morrow. The General Butler was continued by Molly Murphy, for some years after the death of Paddy. She was the friend of my boyhood and youth ; and although as rough a Christian as ever I knew, I verily believe that a better Christian heart-one more generous and benevolent, as well as sturdy and fearlessnever beat in Christian bosom. Many an orphan-many a friendless one-many a wretched one, has shed, in secret, the tear of gratitude over the memory of Molly Murphy.
But it could not be said of Fort Pitt that there was a want of private hospitality, any more than there was of the public. It so happened, that after the revolutionary war, a number of families of the first respectability, principally of officers of the army, were attracted to this spot ; and hence a degree of refinement, elegance of manners, and polished society, not often found in the extreme frontier. The Butlers, the O'Haras, the Craigs, the Kirkpatricks, the Stevensons, the Wilkinses, the Nevilles, are names which will long be handed down by tradition. Col. Ne ville was indeed the model of a perfect gentleman—as elegant in his person, and finished in his manners and education, as he was generous and noble in his feelings. His house was the tem. ple of hospitality, to which all respectable strangers repaired. He was during the revolution the aid of Lafayette, and at the close of it married the daughter of the celebrated Gen. Morgan, an elogant and accomplished lady, who blessed him with an offspring as numerous and beautiful as the childiren of Niobe. Pittsburg could furnish at that day its dramatis persone of original char.
acters; and its local history is full of curious incident, which it might be worth while to rescue from oblivion. My esteemed friend Morgan Neville, in his admirable productions, " Mike Fink," the “ Last of the Boatmen,” “ Chevalier Dubac," and others, has clearly proved this. I must, however, correct an inaccuracy he has fallen into in relation to the Chevalier Dubac. It was not a monkey which he consulted in presence of his country customers, about the lowest price of his goods—it was a racoon. What should we think of the historian, who would write that Scipio Africanus consulted a sheep instead of an antelope ? It ought also to be put on record, that the racoon used sometimes (like a sans culotte as he was) to aspire to be free. On these occasions the chevalier was much annoyed by the boys, who would run to him, crying out, “M. Dubac, M. Dubac, your racoon has got loose your racoon has got loose!” to this he would rather petulantly, yet slowly, and with a most polite motion of the head and hands, repeat, “ Late eem go-late eem go.”
This town being the key or rather the gate of the west, was frequently visited by travellers of distinction, who remained a few days making preparations for their voyage. This circumstance, together with others which I might enumerate, gave a peculiar character and interest to the place. I have a distinct recollection of the present king of France and his two brothers, who were on their way to New Orleans. They were plain modest young men, whose simplicity of manners was favorably contrasted with those of the showy city gentlemen, with fair top boots and ratan, who found nothing good enough for them at the tavern, although at home content with an undivided portion of an attic chamber, and a meal hastily snatched.
The ensuing extract from the Cincinnati Gazette was published in 1829. The contrast between the early trade and the modern is now still greater. The main line of canal and railway over the mountains was first opened entirely through in 1834, and occasioned an immense augmentation in the business of Pittsburg. Harris's Directory for 1841 contains a list of 89 steamboats owned entirely or in part within the district of Pittsburg.
The first boat built on the western waters, of which the writer of this article has any record, was the New Orleans, built at Pittsburg in 1811. He has no account of more than seven or eight built previously to 1817. From that period they have been rapidly increasing in number, character, model, and style of workmanship, until 1825; when two or three boats, built about that period, were declared by common consent to be the first in the world. Since that time, we are informed that some of the New York and Chesapeake boats rival and probably surpass us in richness and beauty of internal decoration. As late as 1816, the practicability of navigating the Ohio with steamboats was esteemed doubtful; none but the most sanguine augured favorably. The writer of this well remembers that in 1816, observing, in company with a number of gentlemen, the long struggles of a stern-wheel boat to ascend Horse-tail ripple, (five miles below Pittsburg,) it was the unanimous opinion that “such a contrivance” might conquer the difficulties of the Mississippi, as high as Natchez; but that we of the Ohio must wait for some more happy “cen. tury of inventions." In 1817, the bold and enterprising Capt. Shreve, (whose late discovery of a mode for destroying snags and improving western navigation entitles him to the reputation of a public benefactor, made a trip from New Orleans to Louisville in 25 days. The event was celebrated by rejoicing, and by a public dinner to the daring individual who had achieved the miracle. Previous to that period, the ordinary passages by barges, propelled by oars and sails, was three months. A revolution in western commerce was at once effected. Every article of merchandise began to ascend the Mississippi, until we have seen a package delivered at the wharf of Cincinnati, from Philadelphia, via New Orleans, at one cent per pound. From the period of Capt. Shreve's celebrated voyage till 1827, the time necessary for the trip has been grad. ually diminishing. During that year the Tecumseh entered the port of Louisville from New Or. Jeans in eight days and two hours from port to port!
We cannot better illustrate the magnitude of the change in every thing connected with western commerce and navigation, than by contrasting the foregoing statement with the situation of things at the time of the adoption of steam transportation, say in 1817. About 20 barges, aver. aging 100 tons each, comprised the whole of the commercial facilities for transporting merchandise from New Orleans to the "upper country." Each of these performed one trip down and up again to Louisville and Cincinnati, within the year. The number of keel-boats employed on the upper Ohio cannot be ascertained, but it is presumed that 150 is a sufficiently large calculation to embrace the whole number. These averaged 30 tons each, and employed one month to make the voyage from Louisville to Pittsburg; while the more noble and dignified barge of the Missis. sippi made her trip in the space of 100 days, if no extraordinary accident happened to check her progress. Not a dollar was expended for wood in a space of 2000 miles, and the squatter on the banks of the Ohio thought himself lucky if the reckless boatman would give the smallest trifle for the eggs and chickens which formed almost the only saleable articles on a soil whose only
fault is its too great fertility. Such was the case twelve years since. The Mississippi boats now make five trips within the year, and are enabled, if necessary, in that period to afford to that trade 135,000 tons. Eight or nine days are sufficient, on upper Ohio, to perform the trip from Louisville to Pittsburg and back. In short, if the steamboat has not realized the hyperbole of the poet, in "annihilating time and space,” it has produced results scarcely surpassed by the in. troduction of the art of printing.–Cincinnati Gazette.
“Among others whose attention was drawn to the new field of enterprise opened on the lakes, after Wayne's treaty, was Gen. James O'Hara, a distinguished citizen of Pittsburg. He entered into a contract with the government to supply Oswego with provisions, which could then be fur. nished from Pittsburg cheaper than from the settlements on the Mohawk. Gen. O'Hara was a far-sighted calculator; he had obtained correct information in relation to the manufacture of salt at Salina ; and in his contract for provisioning the garrison, he had in view the supplying of the western country with salt from Onondaga. This was a project that few men would have thought of, and fewer undertaken. The means of transportation had to be created on the whole line; boats and teams had to be provided to get the salt from the works to Oswego; a vessel built to transport it to the landing below the falls ; wagons procured to carry it to Schlosser—then boats constructed to carry it to Black Rock. There another vessel was required to transport it to Erie. The road to the head of French creek had to be improved, and the salt carried in wagons across the portage; and finally, boats provided to float it to Pittsburg. It required no ordinary sagacity and perseverance to give success to this speculation. Gen. O'Hara, however, could execute as well as plan. He packed his flour and provisions in barrels suitable for salt. These were reserved in his contract. Arrangements were made with the manufacturers, and the necessary advances paid to secure a supply of salt. Two vessels were built, one on Lake Erie and one on Lake On. tario; and the means of transportation on all the various sections of the line were secured. The plan fully succeeded, and salt of a pretty fair quality was delivered at Pittsburg, and sold at four dollars per bushel—just half the price of the salt obtained by packing across the mountains.
The vocation of the packers was gone. The trade opened by this man, whose success was equal to his merits, and who led the way in every great enterprise of the day, was extensively prose. cuted by others. A large amount of capital was invested in the salt trade, and the means of transportation so greatly increased, that in a few years the Pittsburg market was supplied with Onondaga salt at twelve dollars per barrel of five bushels.”—Judge Wilkeson, in American Pioneer.
The conspicuous rank which Pittsburg held, as the metropolis of the West, drew to the place many young men of eminent talents. As Mr. Hall, in his sketches, justly remarks
“When this settlement was young and insulated, and the savage yet prowled in its vicinity, legal science flourished with a vigor unusual in rude societies. The bench and bar exhibited a galaxy of eloquence and learning.
"Judge Addison, who first presided in this circuit under the present system, possessed a fine mind and great attainments. He was an accomplished scholar, deeply versed in every branch of classical learning. In law and theology he was great; but although he explored the depths of science with unwearied assiduity, he could sport in the sunbeams of literature, and cull with nice discrimination the flowers of poesy. He was succeeded by Judge Roberts, an excellent law. yer, and a man of great integrity and benevolence.
“Judge Wilkins, who succeeded Judge Roberts, has long been a prominent man. As an ad. vocate he was distinguished for his graceful and easy style of speaking, and his acuteness in the development of testimony. He brought to the bench an active mind, much legal experience, and an intimate knowledge of the practice of the court. His public spirit and capacity for business have thrown him into a multitude of offices."
“There were at the bar in the olden time many illustrious pillars of the law: Steel Semple, long since deceased, a man of stupendous genius, spoken of by his contemporaries as a prodigy of eloquence and legal attainments; James Ross, who is still on the stage, and very generally known as a great statesman and an eminent advocate—who, for depth of thought, beauty of language, melody of voice, and dignity of manners, has few equals; Breckenridge, the eccentric and highly gifted author of “Modern Chivalry,” celebrated for his wit, his singular habits, his frolicsome propensities and strange adventures, and who, though a successful advocate and an able judge, cracked his jokes at the bar and on the bench of the supreme court as freely as at his own fire. side ; Woods, Collins, Campbell, and Mountain, who would have shone at any bar; Henry Bald. win, an eminent lawyer, a rough but powerful and acute speaker, conspicuous in congress as chairman of the committee on domestic manufactures, and as the author of the celebrated tariff bill—with others, whose history has not reached me. This constellation of wit and learning, illumining a dusky atmosphere, presented a singular contrast to the wild and untutored spirits around them; and the collision of such opposite characters, together with the unsettled state of the country, produced a mass of curious incidents, many of which are still preserved, and circulate at the bar in the hours of forensic leisure."
Of the gentlemen noticed by Mr. Hall, there are still living, the Hon. James Ross, now the most venerable patriarch of the city; the Hon. Henry Baldwin, who adorns the bench of the U. S. supreme court; and the Hon. William Wilkins, who was a few years since minister to Russia, and now resides at his splendid mansion near Wilkinsburg, a few miles from the city. Mr. Ross has held a distinguished rank in the politics of Pennsylvania ever since the revolution. He was a prominent member of the convention for forming the constitution of 1790; was an able defender of the new constitution of the United States at its first presentation ; and took a bold and open stand on the side of order during the great whiskey insurrection, being appointed a commissioner by Gen. Washington to treat with the insurgents. He was the candidate of the federal party of that day for governor, in opposition to Thomas M'Kean, in 1799 and 1802; and again in 1808, in opposition to Simon Snyder. Retiring from political life with the decline of his party, he stood for many years at the head of the bar in Allegheny county; and is now passing the evening of an honorable life, enjoying the sincere esteem of his fellow-citizens of all parties.
Hon. Judge Baldwin is a native of New Haven, Conn., where he graduated at Yale College, in 1797, and prepared himself for admission to the bar. His father was a highly respectable farmer, possessing a powerful intellect—a quality which seems to have been inherited by his children, who have nearly all been eminent in public life. An elder brother of the judge was a distinguished member of congress from Georgia; another was an eminent statesman of Ohioperhaps also a member of congress. One of the sisters was the lady of Hon. Joel Barlow, the poet, and ambassador to France; and a younger brother held for many years a public office under the U. S. in New Haven. Judge Baldwin's boyhood was spent amid the toils of agricultural life, to which circumstance he undoubtedly owes that mens sana in corpore sano, that strong mind in a vig. orous frame, which has marked his later years. We have heard him boast that he drove the cart for “ Jemmy Hillhouse” to plant that noble avenue of elms that now forms the pride of his beautiful native city; and Mr. Hillhouse used afterwards to delight in introducing Mr. Baldwin to his friends in Philadelphia as “a ploughboy of his." This “Jemmy Hillhouse,” by the way, was a member of the convention for forming the constitution of the U.S., and a distinguished member of the U. S. senate for many years afterwards.
Judge Baldwin was attracted to the west by the influence of his brother, of Ohio, and eventually settled in Pittsburg. His legal practice, however, extended far beyond the Ohio river, and the early citizens of Columbus, Ohio, had frequent occasions to admire his eloquence. He was appointed to his present office by Gen. Jackson; but he is still living, and this is neither the time nor the place to write his biography.
The following sketch is abridged from an able article in the Southern Literary Messenger for 1842.
Hugh Henry Brackenridge (or Breckenridge, as the name is most usually spelt,) was born in Scotland in the year 1750. When he was five years of age, his father emigrated to the barrens of York co., Pa., then a new settlement. Hugh's father was a poor farmer, but Scotch boys always find an education, rich or poor. With a few ragged books, bor