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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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ROBERT PITCAIRN, general agent and superintendent of the Pittsburgh division of the Pennsylvania railroad, was born May 6, 1836, in the village of Johnstone, near Paisley, Scotland, the son of John (now deceased) and Agnes Pitcairn. His father and mother early in their married life immigrated to America, but returned to Scotland. In 1846 they again came to America, settling in Pittsburgh. Robert received the usual common-school education, partly in Scotland and partly in America, and from force of circumstances he was obliged to earn his own living from almost his start in life. His first regular position was in a variety-store, in 1848. Afterward he secured the position of messenger-boy in the office of the Atlantic & Ohio Telegraph company, at Pittsburgh, where, taking advantage of the opportunity, he began the study of telegraphy, and, being associated with other bright, hard-working, ambitious boys, put forth extra exertion to keep pace with them. Soon perfecting himself as an operator, he became one of the first to read by sound. When the railroad west of Steubenville, Ohio, was started, he was sent to that place as assistant operator and telegraph-line repair-man. He was next promoted to operator at Pittsburgh on the Cleveland line, when the old Ohio & Pennsylvania (now the Pennsylvania, Fort Wayne & Chicago) railway was started, and afterward as operator at Pittsburgh on the Atlantic & Ohio (a line from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia) when the Pennsylvania railroad was nearing completion. The railroad business having an attraction for him, and desiring to become connected with it, in 1852 or 1853 he secured a position with the Pennsylvania Railroad company as telegraph operator and assistant ticket-agent at the Mountain House, near Hollidaysburg, while the road was still using the old Portage road, with its inclined planes over the mountains. In February, 1854, the company completed its own track, over the mountain, and Mr. Pitcairn was transferred to the general superintendent’s office at Altoona, where he remained, filling different positions, until 1861, excepting for about a year, when he was sent by the Pennsylvania railroad to the Western division of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago, while the road was being completed between Plymouth and Chicago. In 1861, Mr. Pitcairn, having served as acting division superintendent in previous years, was regularly appointed superintendent of the Middle division, embracing that part of the line between Conemaugh and Mifflin. Soon after his appointment the road was divided into three instead of four divisions, and Mr. Pitcairn, being the last appointed, was left without a division. A new department, however, was created and he was put in charge with the title of “Superintendent of Transportation,” and while filling this position organized the car-record, a system of car-mileage and other matters pertaining to that department as they are now conducted. After the outbreak of the war of the rebellion, in addition to the extra labor necessitated by the transportation of large bodies of troops and supplies, particularly in 1862, he had charge as superintendent of the Middle division, between Harrisburg and Altoona, and as superintendent of the Pittsburgh division, between Altoona and Pittsburgh. Though as superintendent of transportation his chances of promotion were better, yet his early ambition and desire were so strong that in 1865 he sought and secured the object of his highest ambition—that of superintendent of the Pittsburgh division, returning to Pittsburgh. In 1875 the general agency of the road at Pittsburgh was added to the position Mr. Pitcairn was holding.

July 26, 1856, he was married to Miss Elizabeth E., daughter of John Rigg, a resident of Altoona, formerly of Lewiston, Pa and of this marriage there have been born three daughters and one son.

While in no sense a politician, Mr. Pitcairn has been a stanch and unwavering republican from the organization of the party. In religion he is a Presbyterian. He has long been a member of the Masonic fraternity, and is past grand commander of the Knights Templar of Pennsylvania. In addition to his railroad duties, Mr. Pitcairn is active in other fields, being interested in many of the leading industries of the country. He has been a director of the Masonic Bank since its organization; is now a director of the Citizens National Bank, of Pittsburgh; director of the First National Bank of Greensburg; director of the Western Pennsylvania Exposition, and resident vice-president and director of the American Surety company Becoming acquainted with George Westinghouse, Jr., years ago, when that gentleman started his world-known and celebrated air brake, Mr. Pitcairn assisted in the organization and introduction of the same, and is now vice-president and director of the company; is also a director in the Philadelphia Natural Gas company, as well as other companies known as the Westinghouse plants, together with other institutions of Pittsburgh, both local and general.

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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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