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Search companies…. Edit Aultnagar Lodge Hotel. Top Businesses. Evaluations of Aultnagar Lodge Hotel:. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 0. Rating details. All Languages. More filters. Sort order. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. About Anna F. Anna F. Books by Anna F. Trivia About Altnagar House. A word, a look, an accent, may affect the destiny not only of individuals, but of nations. He is a bold man who calls anything a trifle. Who was it who, being advised to disregard trifles, said he always would if any one could tell him what a trifle was?
The young should remember that upon trifles the best gifts of the gods often hang.
My uncle mentioned my name, and said he would see whether I would take the position. I remember so well [Pg 37] the family council that was held. Of course I was wild with delight. No bird that ever was confined in a cage longed for freedom more than I. Mother favored, but father was disposed to deny my wish. It would prove too much for me, he said; I was too young and too small.
For the two dollars and a half per week offered it was evident that a much larger boy was expected. Late at night I might be required to run out into the country with a telegram, and there would be dangers to encounter. Upon the whole my father said that it was best that I should remain where I was. He subsequently withdrew his objection, so far as to give me leave to try, and I believe he went to Mr. Hay and consulted with him. Hay thought it would be for my advantage, and although, as he said, it would be an inconvenience to him, still he advised that I should try, and if I failed he was kind enough to say that my old place would be open for me.
This being decided, I was asked to go over the river to Pittsburgh and call on Mr. My father wished to go with me, and it was settled that he should accompany me as far as the telegraph office, on the corner of Fourth and Wood Streets. It was a bright, sunshiny morning and this augured well. Father and I walked over from Allegheny to Pittsburgh, a distance of nearly two miles from our house. Arrived at the door I asked father to wait outside.
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I insisted upon going alone upstairs to the second or operating floor to see the great man and learn my fate. I was led to this, perhaps, because I had by that time begun to consider myself something of an American. At first boys used to call me "Scotchie! Brooks than if my good old Scotch father were present, perhaps to smile at my airs. I was dressed in my one white linen shirt, which was usually kept sacred for the Sabbath day, my blue round-about, and my whole Sunday suit. I had at that time, and for a few weeks after I entered the telegraph service, but one linen suit of summer clothing; and every Saturday night, no matter if that was my night on duty and I did not return till near midnight, my mother washed those clothes and ironed them, and I put them on fresh on Sabbath morning.
There was nothing that heroine did not do in the struggle we were making for elbow room in the western world. Father's long factory hours tried his strength, but he, too, fought the good fight like a hero and never failed to encourage me. The interview was successful. I took care to explain that I did not know Pittsburgh, that perhaps I would not do, would not be strong enough; but all I wanted was a trial.
He asked me how soon I could come, and I said that I could stay now if wanted. And, looking back over the circumstance, I think that answer might well be pondered by young men. It is a great mistake not to seize the opportunity. The position was offered to me; something might occur, some other boy might be sent for. Having got myself in I proposed to stay there if I could. Brooks very kindly called the other boy—for it was an additional messenger that was wanted—and asked him to show me about, and let me go with him and learn the business. I soon found opportunity to run down to the corner of the street and tell my father that it was all right, and to go home and tell mother that I had got the situation.
And that is how in I got my first real start in life. There was scarcely a minute in which I could not learn something or find out how much there was to learn and how little I knew. I felt that my foot was upon the ladder and that I was bound to climb.
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I had only one fear, and that was that I could not learn quickly enough the addresses of the various business houses to which messages had to be delivered. I therefore began to note the signs of these houses up one side of the street and down the other. At night I exercised my memory by naming in succession the various firms.
Before long I could shut my eyes and, beginning at the foot of a business street, call off the names of the firms in proper order along one side to the top of the street, then crossing on the other side go down in regular order to the foot again. The next step was to know the men themselves, for it gave a messenger a great advantage, and often saved a long journey, if he knew members or employees of firms.
He might meet one of these going direct to his office.
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It was reckoned a great triumph among the boys to deliver a message upon the street. And there was the additional satisfaction to the boy himself, that a great man and most men are great to messengers , stopped upon the street in this way, seldom failed to note the boy and compliment him. The Pittsburgh of was very different from what it has since become. It had not yet recovered from the great fire which destroyed the entire business portion of the city on April 10, The houses were mainly of [Pg 40] wood, a few only were of brick, and not one was fire-proof.
The entire population in and around Pittsburgh was not over forty thousand. The business portion of the city did not extend as far as Fifth Avenue, which was then a very quiet street, remarkable only for having the theater upon it. Federal Street, Allegheny, consisted of straggling business houses with great open spaces between them, and I remember skating upon ponds in the very heart of the present Fifth Ward. The site of our Union Iron Mills was then, and many years later, a cabbage garden. General Robinson, to whom I delivered many a telegraph message, was the first white child born west of the Ohio River.
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I saw the first telegraph line stretched from the east into the city; and, at a later date, I also saw the first locomotive, for the Ohio and Pennsylvania Railroad, brought by canal from Philadelphia and unloaded from a scow in Allegheny City. There was no direct railway communication to the East.
Passengers took the canal to the foot of the Allegheny Mountains, over which they were transported to Hollidaysburg, a distance of thirty miles by rail; thence by canal again to Columbia, and then eighty-one miles by rail to Philadelphia—a journey which occupied three days. The great event of the day in Pittsburgh at that time was the arrival and departure of the steam packet to and from Cincinnati, for daily communication had been established.
The business of the city was largely that of forwarding merchandise East and West, for it was the great transfer station from river to canal. A rolling mill [Pg 41] had begun to roll iron; but not a ton of pig metal was made, and not a ton of steel for many a year thereafter. The pig iron manufacture at first was a total failure because of the lack of proper fuel, although the most valuable deposit of coking coal in the world lay within a few miles, as much undreamt of for coke to smelt ironstone as the stores of natural gas which had for ages lain untouched under the city.
There were at that time not half a dozen "carriage" people in the town; and not for many years after was the attempt made to introduce livery, even for a coachman. As late as , perhaps, the most notable financial event which had occurred in the annals of Pittsburgh was the retirement from business of Mr. How great a sum that seemed then and how trifling now!
My position as messenger boy soon made me acquainted with the few leading men of the city.
The bar of Pittsburgh was distinguished. Stanton, afterwards the great War Secretary "Lincoln's right-hand man" were all well known to me—the last-named especially, for he was good enough to take notice of me as a boy. In business circles among prominent men who still survive, Thomas M. Howe, James Park, C. Hussey, Benjamin F. Jones, William Thaw, John Chalfant, Colonel Herron were great men to whom the messenger boys looked as models, and not bad models either, as their lives proved.
My life as a telegraph messenger was in every respect [Pg 42] a happy one, and it was while in this position that I laid the foundation of my closest friendships. The senior messenger boy being promoted, a new boy was needed, and he came in the person of David McCargo, afterwards the well-known superintendent of the Allegheny Valley Railway. He was made my companion and we had to deliver all the messages from the Eastern line, while two other boys delivered the messages from the West.
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The Eastern and Western Telegraph Companies were then separate, although occupying the same building. A short time after "Davy's" appointment a third boy was required, and this time I was asked if I could find a suitable one. This I had no difficulty in doing in my chum, Robert Pitcairn, later on my successor as superintendent and general agent at Pittsburgh of the Pennsylvania Railroad.