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The
Glenshaw
Story

By
Violet F. Rowe


 


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                    The Glenshaw Story

                    By VIOLET F. ROWE

               (Reproduced with permission)

         Let us look back to the year of 1800,
         when John Shaw, Sr. purchased six hun-
         dred acres of land. He built a log sawmill
         on Pine Creek to prepare the lumber for
         his house, built on Glenshaw Avenue.
         Then he built a log grist mill which stood
         until 1845, when his son, John, Jr.,
         replaced it with a much larger brick grist
         mill. This mill stood on the property
         across from the present Glenshaw
         School.

         In 1826 Thomas Wilson Shaw built
         the brick house which still stands along
         Butler Plank Road and is presently oc-
         cupied by his great-granddaughters, Mrs.
         Dan Tatom and Dr. Katharine L Shaw.

         In this year of 1835, Thomas Shaw
         built a sickle factory on Pine Creek, not
         far above his home. Long bladed reaping
         sickles were made from steel imported
         from Russia. This steel had lobe ordered
         two years in advance. The factory was
         run by water power, and about a dozen
         men were employed. When the factory
         ceased to operate, the building was con-
         verted into a dwelling, and later became
         our first Sunday School and Church.

         The first school was a stone building
         on the James Shaw farm on the other
         side of Mt. Royal Blvd., directly across
         from the North Hills Library. The first
         teacher was David Hiland, who boarded
         with John Shaw. The next school was
         built in the woods on Kieber Rd. There
         were no bridges over Pine Creek, and the
         children who lived on the other side of
         the creek had to be taken over on rafts by
         the men working in the sickle factory.

         About 1840, John Shaw, Jr. opened a
         coal mine on the Spencer property, the
         present site of Mr. & Mrs. Frank
         Hutchison's house. The mine supplied
         Spang's Mill in Etna, then called
         Stewartstown. The coal was hauled by
         six-horse teams up Glenshaw Ave, to the
         Butler Pike-now Mt. Royal Blvd. In
         1845 a tramway was built from the mine
         along Pine Creek to Spang's Mill, a dis-
         tance of three and one-half miles. These
         cars held fifty bushels of coal, and people
         often rode to Etna on top of one of these
         cars of coal. For Sundays a car was clean-
         ed out and two boards laid across to
         provide transportation for anyone
         wishing to attend church in Etna or
         Sharpsburg.

         When the West Penn Railroad was
         completed, Spang got their coal from up
         the river, and the Shaw coal mine was
         practically abandoned. Mr. Shaw kept a
         few miners to supply coal to the people in
         the neighborhood, and when the farmers
         came in the autumn to haul their winter's
         supply of coal it was a common sight to
         see thirty or forty wagons at the mine at
         one time.

         Thomas Wilson Shaw also opened a
         coal mine above the tunnel in 1840.
         When the mine was at its best, about 16
         hundred bushels of coal would be taken
         out daily. Aithough there were only three
         houses near the mine, it became known
         as Coal Dale, due to the fact that it was a
         coaling station for the engines on the
         railroad. The houses were torn down
         when the cut was made at Mt. Royal, and
         the course of the creek was changed.

         Of course, no village In the early days
         was complete without a blacksmith shop.
         The first shop in Glenshaw was opened
         in Huckleberry Flat, now Spencer Lane,
         in 1850 by Mr. Joseph Hunter, Besides
         shoeing horses, he made the horseshoes
         and also the horseshoe nails. He charged
         18 cents for a new shoe and 9 cents for
         removing and replacing one shoe. Dur-
         ing the Civil War he made chains for
         harnesses to be used in the Army.
         The same year the DeHaven School
         was built, and the Braun School was built
         a few years later.

         The Butler Plank Road was laid out
         between Pittsburgh and Butler in 1852
         and was considered one of the finest
         pieces of engineering in Western Penn-
         sylvania. Although chartered under the
         name of Butler Plank Road, the planks
         were not laid until the early seventies.
         The first road was flagstone, taken from
         the quarry on the hill between Wittmer
         and Undercliff.
         
         When the Plank Road was graded, the
         stage coach, which had formerly run on
         the Butler Pike, transferred its route to
         the Plank Road. This stage carried
         passengers and mail between Pittsburgh
         and Butler, taking 14 hours for a trip one
         way. The people thought nothing of
         waiting many hours for a stage coach.

         Shortly after the Plank Road was built,
         the first post office in Glenshaw was
         opened in small store building in the
         John Shaw yard. Mr. William Shaw was
         postmaster. The post office was discon-
         tinued when the West Penn Railroad was
         built in Butler in 1864. The mail was then
         carried by train, and the Glenshaw peo-
         ple had to go to Etna for their mail.

         In 1870 Mr. Shaw built the first ice
         house beside the old mill race, near
         where the B. & 0. Station now stands.
         Several ice houses were built, making a
         very profitable business. Ice ponds were
         delightful places to skate, and people
         came for miles to enjoy this winter sport.

         In 1875 fire bricks used on steam
         boats were made on a small scale In a
         yard in Huckleberry Flat.

         When the Pittsburgh and Western
         narrow gauge railroad was built through
         Glenshaw in 1877, a Post Office was
         again opened in a small room at the rear
         of the grist mill wtih Miss Nancy Shaw as
         Postmistress. Later she put up a new
         building near the mill and opened a store
         in connection wtth the Post Office.

         The Glenshaw or Shawtown children
         attended the Braun School until 1865
         when a brick school house was built on
         the Fall Run property, but this building
         soon proved too small, and plans were
         made for a new school. While four rooms
         of the present Glenshaw School were be-
         ing built, it was necessary to equip a room
         in the old grist mill for the primary
         children.

         The American Natural Gas Company
         was formed in 1887. Its first gas was
         found in Hampton Township. Not hav-
         ing meters at first, families were charged
         according to the number of fires and
         lights used.

         In 1888 the Pittburgh Coal Company
         leased the Fall Run property. A company
         Store and two rows of red houses, known
         as Red Row, were built. Coal at this time
         was 7-1/2 cents per bushel, and about one
         hundred men were employed. All the
         trees large enough for pit posts were cut
         down, and the ferns and wild flowers-
         which had always made Fall Run one of
         the beauty spots of Western Penn-
         sylvania were trampled out.

         In 1892 the Post office burned and
         was replaced with a brick structure in
         1893 by Mr. McMlllan.

         It was June 21, 1893, when Mr. & Mrs.
         Walter Shaw were among the first to ride
         on the Ferris Wheel at the World's Fair in
         Chicago. Mr. Shaw was the lnspecting
         engineer and was associated with the
         builder, Mr. George Washington Gales
         Ferris.

         The Reverend J.F.R. Currie, pastor of
         the Valley Church, started the first library
         in 1896. He selected the books,
         catalogued them and acted as librarian.
         When he left Glenshaw, the library was
         neglected and the books not in circula-
         tion.

         Four men, each putttng up six hun-
         dred dollars, built the Glenshaw Glass
         Factory. On January 7, 1895, the first
         bottle was made by Pete McClafferty.
         There were ten employees. Mr. Jacob
         Meyer joined the company in August of
         that year and relieved a financial em-
         barrassment.

         The first barber shop In Glenshaw was
         opened in 1898 by Mr. Philip Hartz. It
         was this year that four rooms were added
         the Glenshaw School, making It a two-
         story building.
         
         In 1900 Glenshaw Glass Company
         bought their present location, across the
         road from the first factory, and a two-year
         high school course was added at the
         Glenshaw School.
         
         In 1902 Mrs. H. C. Shaw, along with
         some other women of the community,
         became interested in the library and had
         the books removed from the church to
         the building which stood below the
         church on Pine Creek. A group of men
         had erected this building to be used as a
         Store and lodge room, but it proved to be
         a failure and became a white elephant.
         Mrs. Haines was the librarian at this time.

         At the turn of the century, America
         was progressing rapidly-Congress pass-
         ed the Gold Standard Act, Major Reed
         discovered that the mosquito was the
         cause of yellow fever, and the popular
         means of transportation were the horse
         and buggy and the bicycle. The days of
         the bicycle races in the '90's were big
         events in the lives of people of Glenshaw.
         Many can still remember the numbers of
         the racers' backs and lemons in their
         mouths as they rode from Etna to
         Bakerstown. Bert Goebel was champion
         racer in those days. The popularity of the
         bicycle was reflected by the most popular
         song of the '90's-"Daisybell."

         In 1903 the Bell Telephone Company
         had its beginning in Glenshaw with a
         small switchboard in the back of James
         McKee's store.

         This was also the year Ford Motor
         Company was founded, and the first
         transcontinental auto trip was completed
         from San Francisco to New York--it took
         ten weeks. At the turn of the century
         there was but one auto for every 9,500
         persons, and not ten miles of concrete
         road. George Wittmer, Jr. owned the first
         automobile in Glenshaw, and Dr. Ray,
         the second. Yes, the automobile was
         becoming very fashionable, and those
         who were lucky enough to own one wore
         dusters or loose coats to ward off the
         dust. Chiffon veils were tied over hats,
         and dark glasses were worn to complete
         the motoring outfit.

         In the year 1903, the Wright brothers
         made their first successful flight at Kitty
         Hawk, North Carolina. In 1904, the
         Congress of Mothers worked for laws to
         restrict child labor, preventing children
         under 16 from working nights and il-
         literates under 16 from working at all.
         The Panama Canal was begun this year,
         the Olympic games were held for the first
         time in the United States, and everyone
         was talking about the stage play, "Mrs.
         Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch."

         This same year on May 19 a fire of un-
         known origin completely razed the
         Glenshaw Glass Company, along with
         the ice houses belonging to the Wittmer
         Ice Company across the road. The fac-
         tory was rebuilt, and in exactlv 21 days
         they were again making bottles.  March
         3, 1904, was the date of the big flood in
         Glenshaw.  The flood washed away all
         bridges on Pine Creek and caused much
         property damage.  The water came
         through the tunnel, making it level
         between the hills. These two disasters
         coming so close together almost ruined
         the Glenshaw Glass Company. Coal
         mining was also ended in Glenshaw.
         When the miners left, only six rooms
         were needed in the school, so the par-
         titions were removed between the rooms
         on the second floor, making an
         auditorium for public meeting.  Time
         passes until the year 1907.  The Ball
         Chemical Company, originally from
         Millvale, built at Wittmer Station on the
         property once occupied by the Wittmer
         Ice Company, the ice business becoming
         a thing of the past. Elmer J. Nicklas es-
         tablished the Coat and Builders Supply
         Yard, and Glenshaw Glass installed a
         new machine to make jars, thus
         eliminating making them by hand.
         
           In 1910, the Plank Road was replaced
         with brick and warrenite. The road was
         completed in 1912 and is now State
         Highway Route 8, the main highway
         between Pittsburgh and Erie.

           In 1916 a recommendation was made
         to have an effective censorship of moving
         pictures, and efforts were made to teach
         English to every foreign-born mother as
         soon as she arrived in this country.

           Our country was in the midst of World
         War I. The Reverend Baker left to enlist
         in the service. Out of thirty-five Glenshaw
         boys, Robert Leight Titzel was the only
         one to lose his life in the war. In the
         school yard a tree has been planted to his
         memory.

           In 1917 the Thomas Spacing Machine
         Company was built at Wittmer Station.
         This was an asset to the community, for
         75 men were employed, manufacturing
         spacing machines, punches, shears and
         specialties.

           The Glenshaw Glass Company suf-
         fered greatly from another fire, and
         Prohibition made thousands of dollars of
         beer bottles stock worthless. Mr. Samuel
         Meyer was elected General Manager
         when the factory was rebuilt. This mark-
         ed a new era in the history of Glenshaw
         Glass, for now the main products were
         pop bottles and food containers.

          In 1924 to meet the demands of a
         rapidly growing population along the
         Butler Pike, the high school was moved
         to the Braun School.

          This year the library was again moved
         back to the "white elephant" with 300
         books to meet the needs of both voung
         and old. This was the period that the
         crossword puzzle took the nation by
         storm, and Paul Whiteman performed
         Gershwin's famous "Rhapsody in Blue"
         for the first time in New York.

           On September 14, 1927, "William
         Crooks," the first B. & O. train, under its
         own power and with several Indians on
         board from Glacier National Park, pass-
         ed through Glenshaw on its way to the
         Centenary Exhibition of the Baltimore
         and Ohio Railroad at Baltimore,
         Maryland.

           When the bottom fell out of the stock
         market in 1929, it put the country in a
         great depression. In November, 1930 the
         first Presbyterian Home for the Aged was
         opened in Glenshaw by Mrs. Martha
         Kelly, sister-in-law to Wilson A. Shaw. In
         1931 Moortgat Studios, designers of ar-
         tificial flowers and foliage, moved to their
         present location of Vilsack Rd.

           Franklin Delano Roosevelt was
         elected President of the United States in
         1932.  The Works Progress Ad-
         ministraton (WPA) was set up to increase
         employment. Men in this group built the
         stone wall, steps and fence around the
         Glenshaw School, and young men in the
         C.C.C. Camps helped build many state
         parks and dams that we enjoy today.

           In 1936 flood which caused much
         damage to Pittsburgh by-passed
         Glenshaw, the worst damage being only
         one-and-a-half inches of water in the
         cellars of the houses next to the creek.

           On December 7, 1941, the North Hills
         Library held ground breaking
         ceremonies for their new building on Mt.
         Royal Blvd. It was this fateful Sunday
         afternoon when we heard that the
         Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.
         Our country was plunged into World War
         II.

           The North Hills Library held open-
         house in September, 1942. The reading
         group of the North Hills Women's Club
         was the forerunner of this library. The
         Presbyterian Home for Aged moved to
         the house on the corner of Glenshaw
         Avenue and the Butler Plank Road this
         same year.
         
           It was in the 40's that Glen Miller was
         the idol of the Bobby Soxers, and Kate
         Smith introduced the song she made so
         famous, "God Bless America."

           In 1944 the Lower Glenshaw Library
         Association purchased the "white
         elephant" when the owners threatened
         to tear it down. The first floor room was
         made into a memorial to Miss Mary Sim-
         mons, the first librarian. In the front win-
         dows of the library, two lamps burn night-
         ly. They were givn by Mr. & Mrs. G. P.
         Thomas as a memorial to their sons
         Robert and Edgar. The ceiling lights at
         the library were presented by Mrs. Louis
         Statler in memory of her son, Louis.

           On May 8, 1945, we celebrated V-E
         Day. On July first of that year the Post Of-
         fice moved into its present building. Mr.
         Edgar retired from his duties as Post-
         master in May, 1949, and Mr. George V.
         Baitler. our present Postmaster, was ap-
         pointed.

           With the growth of the township, the
         600-student high school located on Mt.
         Royal Blvd. was overcrowded. In 1950
         plans were drawn up to erect a new high
         school building and to convert the old
         building into a junior high school.
         Ground was broken in 1951, and the
         building was in partial use by the winter of
         1953.

           The Kiwanis Club of Glenshaw
         purchased 22 acres of land in May, 1951,
         to be used as a community park. This
         area is still being developed and im-
         proved each year for the benefit of the
         residents in the community.

           The Mount Royal Shopping Center
         became a part of the township scene in
         March, 1952, proving popular with the
         ever-increasing number of suburban
         residents.

           In 1959-the lower Glenshaw Library
         was completely remodeled, the new
         junior high school on Scott Avenue was
         opened in September, Route 8 has
         become a four-lane highway, and
         Burchfield Road is the fastest growing
         section in Glenshaw.

           Such has been "The Glenshaw
         Story"-a community rich in history,
         tradition and service to God.


                   The End


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         Did you know:

           Miss Mary Simmons was the
         first Librarian of Glenshaw. For
         25 years she was the Librarian
         of the Glenshaw Free Library.
           Dr. Sturges(Sturgis?) (photo below)
         was the first doctor in Glenshaw. He
         was located near the Old Glenshaw Post
         Office.

         

           Joseph Selnak was the first
         policeman of Shaler. Mr. Selnak
         had the jail built in his home-
         two cells, with steel bars and
         doors.

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