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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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WILLIAM ANDERSON, grandfather of William A. Herron, and one of the pioneers of the notable Pittsburgh family, was born in Ireland about the middle of the eighteenth century. He came to America when the cry of liberty had lately arisen among the colonists, and with all a young man’s ardor he entered heartily into the revolutionary spirit of the age. It was between 1775 and 1780 when he first put his foot upon the soil of the country that was so soon to shake off the thrall of the tyrant of the old world. He first settled in Carlisle, Pa., but soon joined the army under Gen. Washington, taking the rank of major, and serving with distinction throughout the war. At its close he was awarded the contract for building the presidential mansion (the White House). The structure, still in splendid condition after a hundred years of use, is a lasting monument to the excellence of Mr. Anderson’s material and the judgment with which it was employed. The brick-and stone-work will today bear the closest inspection. He was a living example of a sound mind in a sound body. Stout, hearty and vigorous, he possessed remarkable executive ability, and was honored with the friendship of some of the greatest men of his time, including Washington himself. As an instance of his physical strength as well as his determined will, it is related that at one time, on account of sickness in his family, he walked from Washington to Carlisle in twenty-four hours. In 1795 he left Carlisle, and after stopping several months in Huntingdon and Bedford, Pa., putting up public buildings in both places, he arrived in Pittsburgh in 1797. His first place of residence was on the north side of Penn street, between Fourth street (formerly Pitt street) and Evans alley, about where J. H. Shoenberger’s residence now stands. The house was built of logs. The orchard was between the house and the Allegheny river, and the horse and cow pasture between Penn and Liberty streets.

Mr. Anderson built the first steam saw mill and gristmill west of the Allegheny mountains. He bought his logs of the Indians, and did a large business in lumber. His grist mill was the second one erected in Pittsburgh, and during a part of each year was running day and night to supply the demands upon it. In dry seasons, farmers, who came in from many miles around, were often compelled to wait several days for their turn to get their grain through the mill. He also owned a large brickyard, and built a number of public edifices, besides business-houses and residences, employing a large number of workmen. Among the more notable buildings erected by him may be mentioned the First Presbyterian church, on Wood street. The new church was built over the old log edifice, the logs being taken out of the windows of the new church. In 1810 he built a two-story brick residence on the corner of Penn street and Irwin’s alley (now Eighth street) for himself and son James, which is still standing, immediately in front of his sawmill. John Herron afterward purchased this property on Penn street, with the house and mills, from Maj. Anderson (his father-in-law) between Maddock’s alley and McCormick’s alley, where he carried on the business for many years, but afterward confined himself entirely to his coal operations. Mr. Anderson was a close friend of Col. O’Hara, and was very active in all public enterprises in Pittsburgh’s early days.

He united with the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, bringing his certificate of membership and good standing with him to America. On his arrival in this country he joined a church at or near Carlisle, and later he and his wife became members of the First Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh. He was a prominent member thereof until 1820, when he removed to Mercer county, near Mercer city, where he owned a fine tract of land that he intended to improve. He was not able to carry out his intentions, however, for in 1821 he was attacked by an illness that proved fatal within a few days. His body was taken to Pittsburgh and buried in the First Presbyterian churchyard, beside that of his wife, who had passed away about 1816. She was Mary Ann Cann, born in Carlisle, Pa., and becoming an orphan, lived in the family of her guardian, Rev. Dr. Duffield, pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Carlisle, of which she was a member.

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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.

View additional Allegheny County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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