Agnew, David

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

DAVID AGNEW.—The late David Agnew was, for many years, one of the leaders in the development of the infant iron industries of West Virginia, western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, and during the last years of his life a leading and beloved citizen of Sharpsville, Mercer county, where he died on the 24th of August, 1882. He was born at Frankstown, Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania, on the 25th of September, 1805. His entrance into the field of industries in which he labored until the last was made in youth, when he obtained a clerkship with Dr. P. Shoenberger, at Maria Forges, Bedford county, and about 1823 was transferred to the main works in Pittsburg. Remaining in that city until 1832, Mr. Agnew then removed to Wheeling, West Virginia, where, in partnership with Dr. Shoenberger, he erected a rolling mill, the first in the city and perhaps in the state. While a resident of Wheeling he was appointed a member of the county court: was one of the founders of the Wheeling Merchants’ and Mechanics’ Bank, of which he was a director and acting president, and subsequently served as postmaster of the city for four years, being appointed by President Tyler.

In 1846 David Agnew removed to Sharon, Mercer county, and in partnership with Dr. Shoenberger and others erected the Sharon furnace. Afterward were organized the Sharon Iron Company and the Sharon Iron Works, of which he was manager. Many of the earlier furnaces of the Shenango valley proved unprofitable, and were closed on account of the dearness of the ore. But while running the old Sharpsville furnace Mr. Agnew, with his brother John P., procured a few tons of Lake Superior ore as an experiment, and its introduction by them revolutionized the manufacture of iron in Mercer county and western Pennsylvania. In 1856 Mr. Agnew removed to Erie, where he remained for two years looking after the affairs of the Sharon Iron Company, when he severed his connection with that firm and located at Parkersburg, West Virginia, to engage in mercantile pursuits. During the last three years of the Civil war he was superintendent of the rolling mills and blast furnaces at Mount Savage, Maryland; then returned to Parkersburg and resided there until the spring of 1869, when he became a resident of Sharpsville. From that time until his death in 1882 his main business was the supervision of the iron, coal and railroad interests controlled by the estate of General James Pierce. He was also deeply concerned in local public affairs, both as justice of the peace and as elder of the Presbyterian church. He was prominent in organizing the Sharpsville church, contributed liberally to the erection of a new edifice and saw it completed shortly before his death. On December 29, 1829, Mr. Agnew married Miss Eliza C. Lightner, a native of Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, who died in Sharpsville, February 6, 1888. They had five sons and one daughter—John L., Theodore P., William H., David L., Charles E. and Mary M.

Charles E. Agnew has lived in Sharpsville since 1869, and from 1873 to 1903 was cashier of the Iron Banking Company. That institution was then reorganized as the First National Bank of Sharpsville, and he has continued in the same position with this institution.

Twentieth Century History of Mercer County, 1909, pages 362-363.

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