Agnew, David

Submitted by mercercounty on Fri, 07/23/2010 - 10:25

About the year 1846 there was considerable excitement in Mercer County in regard to the coal and iron business, which led to the erection of quite a number of blast furnaces along the Shenango Valley, but the expectations of these pioneers in the iron business of this county were destined to disappointment. The Lake Superior ores had not been obtained, and confined, as they were, to the native ores, and the use of mineral coal, with a general want of knowledge and experience in the working of these materials, it is not surprising that the business proved unprofitable, and was generally abandoned, so that very few of these old furnaces remain, having, since the introduction of Lake Superior ores, been superseded by larger and more perfect establishments. The connection of the iron ore of Lake Superior with the coal of Mercer County has produced an entire revolution in the manufacture of iron in Mercer County, and throughout Western Pennsylvania gener­ally. Mr. Agnew and his brother, John P. Agnew, were the first to use Lake Superior ore in a blast furnace. While running the old Sharpsville Furnace they procured at great expense, a few tons of ore for that purpose, which, it is believed, was the first time it had ever been so used. In 1856 Mr. Agnew removed to Erie where he remained two years, looking after the business affairs of the Sharon Iron Company, at the end of which time he severed his connection with the firm, and went to Parkersburg, W. Va., and engaged in mercantile pursuits. In 1862 he went to Mount Savage, Md., and took charge of the rolling mills and furnaces in that place, and returned to Parkersburg about the close of the war, and stayed until the spring of 1809, when he came to Sharpsville. In an acquaintance of over fifty years Mr. Agnew witnessed many seasons of prosperity and adversity, as well as great im­provements, in the iron industries of the county. Since 1869 he resided in Sharpsville, having the general supervision of the books and accounts con­nected with the various iron, coal and other concerns in which the late Gen. Pierce was interested, and in the capacity of secretary and treasurer of the Sharpsville Railroad Company. The business of the Pierce estate was closed in 1881, and notwithstanding its extensive and varied character, and the immense amount of labor involved, under Mr. Agnew’ s wise management, and comprehensive acquaintance with the affairs thereof, it was settled in a comparatively speedy and satisfactory manner to all concerned. In politics Mr. Agnew was a Republican, but never took an active part in any of the campaigns of the party. In 1873, just before the borough of Sharpsville was formed, he was elected a justice of the peace, but could not devote much time to the affairs of the office, though he did considerable work in drawing up deeds, legal documents, etc. In religion Mr. Agnew always took an active and earnest part, being a leading member of the Presbyterian Church. He was elected an elder of the Fourth Street Church in Wheeling, and was honored with that position in the church of his choice wherever he resided. He was prominent in organizing the church here, and lived to see a very neat edifice erected and dedicated but a short time before his death, toward the building of which he contributed liberally. Mr. Agnew was married in Pittsburgh, December 29, 1829, to Miss Eliza C. Lightner, Rev. Francis Herron, D. D., performing the ceremony. The deceased left two children: Charles F. and Mary. His widow died February 6, 1888, a consistent member of the Presbyterian Church. Her four oldest children also are dead. Their names were John L., Theodore P., William H. and David L. John L. has one son, J. Ford, who lives in St. Louis, Mo.; Theodore P. has one daughter, Nellie, who lives with her mother at Fredericksburg, Md.

History of Mercer County, 1888, pages 835-837

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