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Below is a family biography included in the History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania published in 1889 by A. Warner & Co.   These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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DR. CURTIS G. HUSSEY. Any history of Allegheny county would be incomplete without mention of Dr. Hussey, one of its well-known and honored citizens. He has won success in so many fields of labor, and has done so much as a business-man, manufacturer and developer of new fields of public wealth, that it would be difficult within these limits to enter into a detailed record of his life. In any mention, however, of industrial Pittsburgh, the name of Dr. Hussey stands prominent, for as the acknowledged pioneer of the Lake Superior copper region and as the first successful manufacturer in this country of fine qualities of crucible cast-steel, Pittsburgh owes much to him, and to his efforts and perseverance maybe accorded the successful establishment of two of her great branches of industry, copper and steel.

Dr. Hussey was born on a farm near York, Pa., in August, 1802, and is a descendant of Christopher Hussey, one of the early settlers of Massachusetts. Christopher was born in Dorking, county of Surrey, England, about 1597, and came to America in 1632, having married in England a daughter of Rev. Stephen Batcheller, who also came to America. Christopher Hussey was a resident of Hampton, Mass., which town he represented in the general assembly for several years. He was also counselor of the province, and was active in the settlement of Haverhill. He was one of an association of ten persons, all Quakers, who during the winter of 1658-59 purchased the island of Nantucket, and soon after made it their home. This step was forced upon them by the persecutions of the Puritans, and in consequence of a protest signed by Christopher Hussey and others, against an act of the general court of Massachusetts which made it a “misdemeanor for anyone to preach to the people on the Sabbath who was not a regularly ordained minister of the church.” The court regarded this action as a grave insult to its dignity and authority, and threatened severe measures to all concerned. Many of the offenders came forward and made open apology, but not so Christopher Hussey and his companions, who were contending for a principle of vital importance to their individual well-being and happiness, as well as for the liberties of those who should came after them. The persecutions of the Quakers were more or less actively continued, and in 1658 a new and stringent law was passed against them, and several were executed. For these reasons Christopher Hussey and his company took up their abode among the Indians of Nantucket, and about a century and a half later we find his descendant, the father of the subject of this sketch, settled near York, Pa., where, as before stated, Dr. Hussey was born. Soon after the family moved to Little Miami, Ohio, and in 1813 to a farm in the vicinity of Mount Pleasant, Jefferson county, Ohio. The parents of Dr. Hussey were Christopher and Lydia (Grubb) Hussey. The mother was also a Quaker, descended from a well-known English family. Her father, John Grubb, was a member of the Society of Friends in England, and came to this country before the revolutionary war, settling near the present city of Wilmington, Del., and where many of his descendants remain to the present day.

The early years of Dr. Hussey were spent on the farm in Ohio, going to school as opportunity allowed, and making the most of the educational advantages the day and neighborhood afforded. His choice was the medical profession, and he was fortunate in being able to study with a physician of prominence, then located at Mount Pleasant. After completing his course he removed to Morgan county, Ind., where he soon secured a successful and lucrative practice. He remained here for several years, giving close attention to his profession, and winning the respect and confidence of the general public. So large and remunerative had his practice become that in a few years he accumulated sufficient capital for embarking in mercantile pursuits, which he did in establishing several stores in adjoining counties, over all of which he exercised a general supervision as he traveled the country in following his professional calling. With keen insight and business ability of a high order, his ventures became large and his enterprises extended. He became a heavy shipper of produce to New Orleans, and his business transactions at that place proved very profitable. With all of his cares and duties he ever had at heart the development and prosperity of his adopted state, and at twenty-seven years of age, in 1829, he was elected to the legislature, serving one term, but declined a re-election on account of his varied business interests, which required his close personal attention. Possessing natural intelligence of a high order, and a strong and well-balanced mind, it seems hardly possible for him to have failed in any undertaking or in any calling. As a professional and business man he was eminently successful, but it is as a miner and manufacturer that he stands preeminent, his reputation as such being well known throughout the country.

In 1839 he married Rebecca, daughter of James and Susana (Jackson) Updegraff, of the well-known Ohio family of that name. James Updegraff, a man of enterprise and perseverance, was one of the pioneers of Jefferson county, settling at Mount Pleasant, and making for himself a home in what was at that time almost a forest wilderness, and contributed greatly by his energy and influence, particularly in the educational line, toward the growth of that flourishing town. Mrs. Hussey, a woman of high principle and more than ordinary mental attainments, is still living, and has been to her husband throughout their long married life not only an efficient helpmate but a truly congenial companion. They have had five children, two sons and three daughters. The youngest daughter (Mrs. E. B. Alsop) is the only one living, she and her husband residing at the present time with Dr. and Mrs. Hussey at their beautiful home—Shadyside—in the suburbs of the city. Upon occasion, however, the doctor and his wife can gather around them a goodly number of descendants—one daughter and nine grandchildren. Shortly after his marriage Dr. Hussey settled in Pittsburgh, and soon after engaged in those copper and steel enterprises which have not only contributed much to the prosperity of that city but have given him almost a national reputation.

From various sources came rumors of the existence of copper in the Lake Superior regions, but no effort to explore or develop was made until Dr. Hussey took steps in this direction. In 1843 he sent Mr. John Hays, of Pittsburgh, to prospect and explore. During his trip he purchased for Dr. Hussey a one-sixth interest in the first three permits for mining in that region ever granted by the United States. These permits were three miles square. One was located at Copper Harbor, one at Eagle River, and the other about three miles west of the latter. Based upon this and subsequent purchases, in the winter of 1843-44 the Pittsburgh & Boston Mining company was organized, Dr. Hussey being a large stockholder, and afterward its president until its winding up. In September, 1844, Dr. Hussey made a visit to these wild and unexplored regions, and joined at Copper Harbor Mr. Hays, Alfred Rudolph (a geologist) and the party of eight miners, all of whom he had sent out in the spring of 1844. Their discoveries were of such a character that he at once stopped all work at that place. The following year, 1845, he transferred operations to Eagle River, where was soon discovered a wonderfully rich vein of mass copper, which soon became known as the “Cliff Mine.” This was the first mine opened in the Lake Superior country, and the first to yield pure or metallic copper, not only in this country, but probably in the world. Masses weighing from one to eighty tons were found. This mine, the famous “Cliff,” cost its owners in assessments $110,000, produced nearly $8,000,000 worth of copper, and paid them in dividends $2,280,000, truly a valuable as well as wonderful discovery. In this connection we quote from a publication of some years back:

The “Old Cliff” is truly a historical mine. During the dark days that followed the excitement of 1816, and during other dark days which from time to time fell upon the copper region, the Cliff was a sure and steadfast reminder that copper-mining could be made profitable in the upper peninsula. It was always a strong moral force, encouraging new hopes and enterprises. In the dark days it stood as a beacon-light to the despondent operators throughout the district; its failure would have been followed by general collapse, and the mineral wealth of Lake Superior would have been everywhere regarded as a punctured bubble.

The “Cliff” was a great mine, and once found, here was a great opportunity—the first of its kind. How many are there who have the wisdom to make the most of their opportunities? Only a favored and gifted few. It might, perhaps, be claimed that almost any man of average good business capacity, or any company made up of such men, having once found a cliff deposit, would have conducted it through a similar splendid and satisfactory career; but that by no means follows. Mining so strongly stimulates the fancy, and so powerfully appeals to the imagination, that many engaging in it lose a large share of the common sense and prudence they are accustomed to exercise in their regular and daily employments, especially when their ventures give early and flattering promise. The company was fortunate in its first great discovery, but still more so in having at its head such a man as Dr. Hussey, who, by his careful and conservative management, secured such brilliant results. As before mentioned, the product was found in huge masses, and the question arose how to smelt such masses. To cut them up would not pay. The furnaces of Boston, Baltimore and Detroit all failed and gave it up. It looked dark for Lake Superior copper. At this juncture Dr. Hussey solved the problem. It occurred to him to build a furnace with a movable top, and in spite of the incredulity of those around him, he had such a furnace built. The cover was lifted to one side, the masses of copper hoisted by a crane and let down into their bed upon the bottom. It was a success, and the first ingots cast were as good as those now made. This same principle is in use at the present day. The only market for the copper mined and smelted was through a commission-house in New York. The manufacturing was all done in the east. This did not suit Dr. Hussey, so in 1848 he conceived the idea of erecting a mill for the manufacture of sheet copper, brass, etc., but met with no encouragement for a long time. All who were approached held back. The scheme, however, was too clearly developed and too firmly lodged in his mind to be in any danger of abandonment. After much persuasion he finally secured a partner to join him in the enterprise, and the firm of C. G. Hussey & Co. was formed, a mill erected in 1849-50, and on July 1, 1850, manufacturing was commenced, and a warehouse opened for the sale of its products. It will be interesting in this connection to quote the following extract from a contribution to “A History of American Manufacturers,” by J. Leander Bishop, Vol. Ill, 1867:

As the Pittsburgh Copper and Brass works was the first establishment projected for working exclusively American copper, and as the senior partner was one of the first successful explorers and adventurers in the copper regions of Lake Superior, his history is that of a pioneer in the development of what has become an important element of national wealth. The attention of Dr. C. G. Hussey was attracted to the Lake Superior region in the summer of 1843, immediately following; the consummation of the Chippewa treaty, which extinguished the possessory claims of the numerous tribes of Indians known by that name, and he dispatched thereto, during the same season, a small party to make necessary examinations preliminary to the organization of a regular mining force, if their report should prove favorable. In the summer of 1844 he visited the region himself and under his direction was commenced the first mining shaft, which was sunk in the vicinity of what is now known as Copper Harbor, on a tract selected in pursuance of the first permit to locate lands issued by the United States government. In the following summer regular mining operations were commenced by the company originated by Dr. Hussey and known as the Pittsburgh & Boston Mining company of which he is now (1867) the president, on the second tract selected in that region, and upon which is located the celebrated Cliff mine. This mine was the first to give character to the section as a reliable and remunerative copper-producing district, and up to this time it has produced more than seven millions of dollars’ worth of copper, and paid to its stockholders a sum exceeding two millions of dollars. The Pittsburgh Copper-works, it will thus be perceived, are the legitimate outgrowth of the extensive and profitable mining enterprises with which its proprietors have been long and intimately associated.

The “Pittsburgh Copper and Brass Rolling-Mills,” as they are called, and the smelting-works, are located on the Monongahela river, a mile above town, and of these Dr. Hussey is now, and has been for several years, the sole owner. The mills have lately been largely increased in capacity, and are among the most active industries of Pittsburgh. They used most of the product of the Cliff mine until that property gave out, and since then have bought their stock from the mines still in operation. The products are put into market by the house of C. G. Hussey & Co., which has continued the business without intermission under the old firm name. In 1858-59 the present warehouse, at 49 Fifth avenue, was erected, and in the spring of 1859 they removed to it, and have continued to occupy it ever since. As already stated, Dr. Hussey was the first man in this country to successfully make crucible cast-steel in large quantities, and of the best quality. It seemed to him a reproach that in this great and growing country, with its natural resources, all the steel used should be of foreign make. He knew the experiment had been tried by others and had failed. He also had evidence in abundance that the public had no faith in the attempt, and that, if he undertook it, it would be in the face of open and active hostility. His steel project was received even by his immediate friends with much the same doubt and coldness, amounting to positive opposition that met his plans for a copper-mill ten years before. After many objections, and finding that he was fully determined to try the experiment of manufacturing cast-steel, his partner finally consented that the firm of C. G. Hussey & Co. might engage in it. He could not, however, refrain from accompanying his consent with the warning that several concerns in Pittsburgh, and many others in the United States, had utterly failed in the attempt. Of all the failures alluded to the doctor was well aware, but with a firm faith in himself, and indomitable energy, he persevered without a halt. All opposition, warnings and prognostications of evil only served to stimulate him, and as difficulties arose his inflexible purpose only mounted the higher. With such conviction, faith and purpose, but one result was possible—success. He decided to allow the experiment a fair trial and to the expenditure of $100,000, and began in 1859 with the purchase of the old steel plant of Blair & Co. The difficulties he had looked for did not fail him. England had, in her own interest, educated this country in the belief that the article could not be produced here. Men laughed at the pioneer endeavor. At first the blacksmiths would not use the new material; the public had no faith in it. But he kept on; he threw his Anglo-Saxon grit into the balance, and determined not to give up until every resource of courage and skill had been exhausted. He would never have undertaken to make cast-steel by the old English methods; he developed and perfected what is known as “the direct process,” totally different from the English and all other known methods. This “direct process” was attacked bitterly by the agents of English Steel in New York and elsewhere, who declared that good steel could not be made in any such way. Nevertheless, after the Hussey Steel-works had been running for two or three years, it was discovered that good steel could be made, and was being made in this country, and other works were started, they adopting, however, the old English cementation process. They all raised the hue and cry that Dr. Hussey could not make good steel by his direct process, which, of course, had its influence in prejudicing the people against the Hussey make of steel; but in the face of all this opposition he meanwhile built up a good business, and established the success of his process, which has been universally adopted in this country and to a large extent in England. In 1862, feeling the need of rest after his three years’ fight in establishing the crucible-steel business, he made a trip to Europe. It appeared that his reputation in the steel business had already reached England, for while in that country he met Mr. Morgan, of the house of Peabody & Co., who solicited him to take an interest in the Bessemer patent for America, and asked him to go to Sheffield to see a “blow,” which he did. He felt that the process had a great future, and so expressed himself to Mr. Bessemer’s partner. He saw, however, that it was far from being perfect, and foresaw that its development would involve more risk and labor than he cared to assume, so the proposition was declined.

Besides his original developments, Dr. Hussey made other valuable improvements in the manufacture of steel, the details of which we omit. From a recent publication referring to Dr. Hussey and his steel enterprise, we quote: “The outcome of a small beginning and that to which it has led is best shown by a visit to the great steelworks founded by Dr. Hussey, which cover over five acres of Pittsburgh’s most valuable land, which is filled with massive and costly machinery, which employs a large number of men, which sends its products throughout all the country, and which has a name for good work and honorable dealing that is excelled by none.

We can not close our mention of the steel business without mentioning the name of one of the staff most intimately connected with the founder—his son, C. Curtis Hussey. He inherited great business ability, and gradually rose to the chief management of the business. This he retained with distinguished success for many years, up to 1884, when his honorable and useful life ended. He was held in great respect and affection by all who knew him, and his loss was regarded as a calamity to the manufacturing enterprises of Pittsburgh.

In addition to the copper and steel Dr. Hussey has also been at the head of several other successful manufacturing enterprises, but upon these we will not enlarge. We thus plainly see that Dr. Hussey was the pioneer of the copper and steel industries of Pittsburgh—industries for which the city has a world-wide reputation. Through many dark and depressing times, his good judgment, tact and business ability served to stimulate and encourage those around him. In all of the extensive and successful mining and manufacturing enterprises with which his name has been associated Dr. Hussey was the originator, and permanently controlled and sustained them throughout their continuance; and while most of those connected with him have done well their part, and have been useful in their spheres, yet there has been one source, one head from which the force and power have come. The history of the majority of similar successful undertakings always has been and always will be the history of one man, or of a limited number of men, possessing mental abilities and endowments far above the average inheritance of their fellow-creatures.

Dr. Hussey’s efforts and interests have not been confined to the concerns with which he was originally identified. He was a leading factor in the development of the Aztec, Adventure, North American, Medora, Mass, Northwestern, National and other copper-mines. He was early in securing extensive tracts of iron-lands in the Michigan peninsula. His explorations were among the first, in 1849, in California. Gold, silver and copper in Georgia, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, British Columbia, Mexico and elsewhere have received his active attention and have been sought for with free expenditure. His knowledge of mines and mining had become so well known, and his opinions so valuable, that his advice was constantly sought, and his active cooperation in various schemes often solicited; his office was the first place, for several years, to which these schemes were brought. Of course every man’s mine was a “big thing,” but he never took hold without a thorough examination by an expert, and if the mine was worth attention the doctor was ready to take hold and spend enough to ascertain the probable true character of the property. The expert referred to made at least a hundred such examinations. These dangerous traps were set for years, and great care and judgment were required to keep out of unworthy schemes, and considerable money was expended, but it was a satisfaction to gratify his pioneering taste, and at the same time to assist in developing the wealth and resources of the country. Here it is worthy of remark that no man is of more patriotic nature, or appreciates and enjoys the institutions of his country and its innumerable benefits more than he does. He has always been zealous and active in whatever may have been conducive to its prosperity. From early life to the present time Dr. Hussey has been a firm believer in, and an ardent advocate for, the doctrine of a protective tariff, steadily throwing the weight of his strong influence in its favor, and contributing liberally of his means for the wide dissemination of protection literature. He has a remarkable faculty for divining the course of events. He forecasts the improbable and anticipates the unexpected with an accuracy that is sometimes wonderful; but his conclusions are all arrived at only through the closest reasoning and most thorough analysis. If his lot had been cast in Wall street he would have been one of its kings. Dr. Hussey’s business policy since coming to Pittsburgh has been somewhat unusual in one respect, which is, that in his mining and manufacturing enterprises, and investments in property, he has never borrowed any money, and it has always been his custom to keep large cash reserves in his different concerns. If all business-men would follow the same policy we should have no money inflations, depressions, panics, or widespread insolvency, and business friction would be greatly reduced.

Not alone in business and manufactures is Dr. Hussey known in Pittsburgh and vicinity. He has been prominent in charitable, benevolent and educational undertakings. In Allegheny he, in 1860, took an active part in founding an observatory, purchasing a tract of land now very valuable, and contributing liberally of his means and personal attention, and he became its president. It was erected and equipped with a fine telescope, and a good assortment of appurtenant instruments. For seven years he retained this official relation, when the entire property was consolidated with the Western University, of which latter he is one of the trustees. The observatory has a world-wide reputation, being headquarters of the well-known astronomer, Prof. S. P. Langley. Another noted Pittsburgh institution claims him among its founders—the School of Design for Women. The position and needs of women have engaged his profound sympathies, and he has ever been on the alert to give expression. In 1864 Mr. Thomas W. Braidwood, principal of the School of Design at Philadelphia, came to Pittsburgh for the purpose of establishing a similar institution in that city. He at once sought out Dr. Hussey, and soon enlisted his sympathies and active cooperation. Their plans were made and presented to others, and they were afterward joined by William Thaw, Charles J. Clarke, and a number of other liberal-minded gentlemen. In January, 1865, the organization was effected and work begun. Dr. Hussey was the first president, and Miss Mary J. Greig, who had been Mr. Braidwood’s first assistant in Philadelphia, was the first principal, and remained such until her marriage with Mr. Nicholas Veeder in 1866. After Miss Greig’s resignation Dr. Hussey went to Philadelphia to secure her successor, and made arrangements for the coming of Miss Esther K. Hayhurst, a lady of rare qualifications, who occupied the position until her death, about four years later. About this time Dr. Hussey resigned the presidency, but though severing his active official connection he has always remained a liberal contributor. The school has always been a useful institution and has continued to flourish, and its patrons have the satisfaction of knowing that their efforts are yielding good and lasting results.

Dr. Hussey, as previously stated, is of Quaker descent, and in religion, politics and social matters his views agree in the main with those of the Society of Friends. He is a strong opponent of war, and in accordance with the teachings of that body of Christians, believes that wars are entirely unnecessary, and that the principles of true Christianity, if applied in practice, would cause them to be avoided. He is also a strong antislavery man—a friend of the negro, and before the war of the rebellion was outspoken in his views in regard to slavery. In regard to temperance, he is a strong advocate of total abstinence, and has done much to promote that cause, and his good health and the perfect preservation of his mental faculties at an advanced age attest the practical benefits arising from temperance in all things. He is thoroughly kindhearted and sympathetic, and no one is more ready than he to extend a hand to alleviate the suffering and distress of his fellows. His charities, while numerous and large, are always unobtrusive, and are generally bestowed in such a way as to be known to few except the recipients. His interests and sympathies are largely in the line of educational efforts, and many a struggling institution owes to him its existence and support. His benefactions in this line have been liberal and widely extended; schools in Tennessee, in North Carolina, in Indian Territory, and notably one in Mexico (the Hussey School for Girls atMatamoras, built, equipped and largely supported by him, where between one and two hundred young girls are being educated) attest the practical interest felt by him in this line of philanthropy. The Wesleyan College for Women, at Cincinnati, Ohio, and Earlham College, in Indiana, both owe largely to his generous gifts their continuance and prosperity. An intelligent gentle man who has had a long, intimate personal acquaintance with him says:

In person Dr. Hussey is tall and of fine appearance, and would be marked in any assembly as a distinguished-looking man. In disposition he is quiet and retiring, and although so widely known through his enterprises, he is seen and known but little in a social way. This seclusion is more of a loss to others than to himself, as the few who meet him socially are well aware. Many of his quiet home hours have been given to the shaping of his enterprises; also many to the diligent perusal of the best authors, of whose choicest treasures his retentive memory has secured a rich supply. With such stores of ripe thought within himself, he is never less alone than when alone. His very modesty and diffidence sometimes give an impression of austerity which a more intimate acquaintance would remove, for he is affable, considerate and easily approached. Though a good talker, and having an abundance of valuable information and sound views to impart, he is nevertheless a good listener, and will hear with attention and just appreciation what the humblest individual may have to say. One might think that a man who has achieved such large success and enjoyed for so long a time the consideration and respect arising from it would have become somewhat affected by such influences, but, though dignified in his demeanor, there is no trace of hauteur in his personal intercourse with people, of any class. His sympathies are on the side of the humble, the poor and the oppressed, and by those with whom he is in daily and familiar intercourse—his acquaintances, business associates and employes—he is regarded with veneration and affection, and well may this be, for now in the evening or life, upon looking back over a long and laborious business career of more than sixty years, he can safely say that while he has benefited many he has injured none.

Although advanced in years, and now at a period where most men who brave the storms and rigors of life feel the need of perfect rest and abstinence from business cares, he still fills an important place in the world, giving daily attention to his immense interests, watching the progress of events with keen vision, giving aid and encouragement to those about him, and looking over a long life that, although full of labor, has been crowned with splendid returns. He is held in the highest respect and esteem by the community in which he has produced such ample results, and his name will always hold a high place in the list of the pioneer manufacturers of the west.

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This family biography is one of 2,156 biographies included in the History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania published in 1889 by A. Warner & Co.

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