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John Dixon, and English immigrant, was one of the best-known and wealthiest residents of Homestead during his lifetime. He was born in 1831 and moved to Pittsburgh as a young man before settling in Homestead in 1881, and was a large holder of real estate through the borough with properties that included the 8th Avenue First National Bank building and 9th Avenue Homestead Masonic block (now part of the Q Development Homestead Masonic Hall Lofts luxury apartment building).
Upon his death at the age of 70 in 1901, Mr. Dixon left an estate worth over $50,000.00, which equates to nearly $1.75 million today. He never married, and was survived by two brothers and a sister.
His namesake roadway, Dixon Street, runs perpendicular to E. 8th Avenue from the railroad tracks to E. 10th Avenue.
Information gathered from:
"John Dixon." The Pittsburgh Press, 11 May 1901, p. 11.
John D. Kerr, born 1852, in Worthington of Armstrong County, moved to Homestead in his youth. He was co-founder and operator of the Feath & Kerr Lumber Company, originally located at Third and McClure Streets in Homestead.
Following the death of his partner, J. C. Feath, Thomas J. Ingram purchased the remaining interest in 1882, thus organizing the Kerr & Ingram Lumber and Millwork Company. By the close of 1922, the company had purchased the former Homestead Brewery property at 7th Avenue and West Street, and was producing roughly 9,000,000 feet of lumber per year, servicing clients throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia.
In retirement, Kerr sold his portion of the company to Ingram in November of 1922. The company retained the name of Kerr & Ingram. He died at the age of 76 in 1929. Kerr had been involved within the Homestead community as a member of the Homestead School Board, the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Homestead, and the Homestead Lodge B. P. O. Elks. His estate was valued at $51,000.00 upon his death, which equates to nearly $883,00.00 today
"Arrange Rites for Homestead Lumber Dealer." The Pittsburgh Press, 03 May 1929, p. 53.
Horn, S. F., editor. “The Latest Plans of Lumbermen; Becomes Sole Owner.” Southern Lumberman, 25 Nov. 1922, pp. 41–41. Thomas J. Ingram Acquires Interest of John Kerr in Kerr & Ingram, Pittsburgh.
“John D. Kerr Funeral.” Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, 4 May 1929, pp. 13–13.
"Kin of Homestead Man Share $51,000." The Pittsburgh Press, 23 May 1929, p. 25.
Meinert, Norman J. “HOMESTEAD CEMETERY 2257 Main Street Homestead, PA 15120 (412) 461-1818.” Homestead Cemetery, Homestead, PA, 5 Dec. 2012, sites.rootsweb.com/~njm1/08Homestead.html.
Vojtko, Margaret Mary. “In Memoriam Homestead Cemetery - 1896-1986.” The Valley Mirror, 8 Jan. 1987, pp. 8–12.
Cumberland Willis "C.W." Posey, Sr., was born into slavery on August 30, 1858, to Alexander and Elizabeth (Willis) Posey in Port Tobacco, Charles County, Maryland. Shortly after the 1863 Emancipation, Elizabeth died in 1865 when C.W. was only seven years of age. Alexander was ordained into the African Methodist Episcopal Church and moved his children to Winchester, Virginia in 1867, and again to Belpre, Ohio in 1869.
C.W. found work as a deck sweeper on the Magnolia, a ferry boat that operated between Belpre and Parkersburg, West Virginia. As he worked, he learned the machinery of the vessel, igniting in him a passion for engineering. His employer, a Mr. Payton, encouraged and fostered C.W.'s eagerness to learn, and helped him to secure employment on another riverboat, the Striker," as an assistant engineer.
In 1877, at the age of 19, he secured a Second Engineer's license, an exceedingly rare position to be held by a Person of Color, and quickly rose to the position of Chief Engineer, traveling along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. According to the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, he was the first African American in Pennsylvania to be granted that distinction. From this position, he earned his nicknames, "Captain," and "Commodore."
It was during his travels that he met Angeline "Anna" Stevens, a daughter of Aquilla "Quill," a stone-cutter and railroad worker, and Elizabeth (Brackston/Braxton) Stevens of Athens Township, Athens County, Ohio. They were married on May 9, 1883, and moved to Homestead, Pennsylvania shortly after their union. Together, they had three children, including Beatrice (Posey) Baker, Seward Hayes "See" Posey, a Negro League executive and Homestead Grays booking agent, and Cumberland Willis "Cum" Posey, Jr., the 2006 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, who are also buried in the Homestead Cemetery.
C.W.'s career fluidly merged between industry and entrepreneurship. By 1890, he opened the Diamond Coke and Coal Company. With about 1,000 employees at its peak of operations, Diamond Coke and Coal was the largest Black-owned business in the Pittsburgh area. By the time of the 1892 Steel Strike, he had organized the Delta Coal Company, which he later sold to found the Posey Coal Dealers and Steam Boat Builders. Throughout it's tenure, the company produced 41 steamboats which supplied coal and iron ore from the Great Lakes to the mills along the Pittsburgh rivers, enabling Carnegie Steel to accumulate massive wealth.
He managed, owned, or invested in several local businesses, including the Preston Coal Company, and the Marine Coal Company, sealing a partnership with Henry Clay Frick.
His affluence allowed the family to live in a sizable home on E. 13th Street in Homestead. According to his obituary, Mr. Posey was president of The Pittsburgh Courier Publishing Co., an African American newspaper, for 14 years; president of the Board of Directors of the Warren M. E. Church for 15 years; treasurer of the Douglas Land and Investment Co.; president of the Hill District's Loendi Club for 3 years; a member of the True Reformers; Masons; St. Lukes; Knights of Pythias; Odd Fellows; Household of Ruth; Board of Directors of the colored Y. M. C. A.; and he was a member of the Board of Directors of the Modern Savings and Trust Company.
Mr. Posey, Sr., was 67 when he died on June 5, 1925, following complications of an illness at his home in Homestead. He was considered to be a great pioneer of industry, and one of the wealthiest men in Pittsburgh. He was survived by his three children, and second wife, Bessie B. (Taylor) Posey, whom he had married after Angeline's death in 1917.
Information and photos gathered from:
Abbott, Taylor. “Cumberland W. Posey: The Millionaire Industrialist You Probably Haven't Heard Of.” Weelunk, 2 Feb. 2021, https://weelunk.com/cumberland-w-posey-millionaire-industrialist-heard/.
Baker, David. “Cap and Anna Posey.” Early Marietta, 2 Oct. 2020, http://earlymarietta.blogspot.com/2020/10/cap-and-anna-posey.html. Accessed 9 June 2022.
Belko, Mark. “'Commodore' Posey Plied Boats, Ore Trade.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 21 Feb. 1994, pp. 9–15.
Cap and Anna Posey
“Captain C. W. Posey.” Pennsylvania Negro Business Directory, 1910: Industrial and Material Growth of the Negroes of Pennsylvania, Jas. H.W. Howard, Harrisburg, PA, 1910, pp. 38–39.
“Cumberland Willis Posey Sr., Entrepreneur.” Pennsylvania Heritage Magazine, 18 Dec. 2019, https://paheritage.wpengine.com/article/cumberland-willis-posey-sr-entrepreneur/.
Horan, Brianna. “Cumberland ‘Cap’ Posey.” Rivers of Steel, 29 Oct. 2020, https://riversofsteel.com/cap-posey/.
Whitaker, Mark. “The City, 2: the Negro Carnegies.” Smoketown: The Untold Story of the Other Great Black Renaissance, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, New York, 2019.
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