The Honorable Donald A. Abraham served from 1974 - 1978 as a Democratic Representative in the PA House of Representatives from Allegheny County. He was born in Munhall on September 26, 1930 and was a 1948 graduate of Munhall High School. He served in the United States Navy from 1951-1955 in the Korean War.

 

He was elected to the Allegheny County Democratic Committee from 1962-1974; elected to the Munhall council from 1964-1976, which served as President from 1969-1974; elected as a Democrat to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1974, and was reelected in 1976. He was tragically killed in a fatal head-on collision on Route 885 after a vehicle crossed the median. He was pronounced deceased at Jefferson Hospital on July 24, 1978. He was 47. 
 

Information and photo source:

Old Section D, Lot 26

Cox Siblings
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John Freemont Cox, born October 6, 1852, was raised on his father’s Mifflin Township farm and attended Westminster College. In 1875, he graduated from Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio, studying law. He married Ms. Elvira Violet Ackard, daughter of Captain A. C. Ackard, and together, they had two children, Robert P. Cox and Anna L. (Cox) Dittman.  Mr. Cox worked as a schoolteacher in Homestead, for three years before continuing his law studies at the office of Major W. C. Moreland and John H. Kerr, of Pittsburgh. At the time of his death, he was a ranking member of the reputable law firm that included himself, George W. Brawner, Jr., John Kulamer, and Mead J. Mulvihill.  

Mr. Cox was elected as Burgess of Homestead and held that position for two years. He was admitted to the Allegheny County Bar in January of 1880, and practiced law for the remainder of his life.  In November of 1884, he was elected to the 6th District of Allegheny County in the PA House of Representatives. He was re-elected the following term, 1887-1888, and following a 20-year gap, returned to serve in the House for two additional terms in 1909-1910 and 1911-1912, following a large-majority election of several hundred votes over his opponents. He was seen as a "uniformly fair" Speaker by both his Democrat and Republican diplomats.

He was a member of the Judiciary Committee and of the General Election Committee, and was appointed chairman of the Retrenchments and Reform Committee during the 1887-1888 term. He withdrew his nomination to the House in 1888 with the intent of running for District Attorney of Allegheny County; however, he retired from the election early on.  Later, he considered running for Governor, but instead turned his attention once again to the State House. He was re-elected to the House in November of 1908, and on January 5, 1909, he was elected as Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. 

While serving as Speaker, Mr. Cox oversaw several significant legislative measures. Act 143 of 1909 created the Legislative Reference Bureau. Another success of the 1909-1910 session was Act 210 of 1909, one of the state’s first laws regulating child labor in the mining industry; the law prohibited minors under the age of 14 from working in mines, and limited the number of hours a minor between 14-16 years of age could work to 58 in a week. This law also required employers to verify the age of workers and the minors working would have to obtain a certificate from their local school district before they were authorized to work in the mines. Also enacted in 1909 was Act 174, which regulated the use of automobiles in the state. It required owners to have their car registered with the state and mandated that vehicle operators obtain a driver’s license. The law also set the state speed limit at 24 miles per hour on rural roads and 12 miles per hour in towns and cities.

As Speaker, he welcomed the first African-American, Harry W. Bass, to the PA House of Representatives. Representative Bass, a Republican from Philadelphia, went on to serve two consecutive terms in the House. Also during his time as Speaker, in 1909, the House increased from 204 to 207 members for a period of 16 years. Mr. Cox was again elected to the Speakership for the 1911-1912 session, but he was unable to serve for most of this time due to declining health. During his final legislation sessions, he frequently gave up his chair to other members due to "sinking spells."

He was also a member of the Homestead lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Homestead lodge of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, and was an honorary member of the Homestead Gen. Charles Griffin Post of  the G. A. R.

John F. Cox died at 10:30 AM on November 6, 1911, from renal failure at his residence of 427 Fifth Avenue, Homestead. 

His funeral services, led by Rev. L. R. Jones, were held at the First Methodist Episcopal Church (10th and Ann Streets) at 2 PM on November 8, 1911. His pall-bearers included nephews and prominent Homestead citizens, Andrew F. McClure and Charles W. Ashley, Esq. He was survived by his wife; son, Robert P. Cox; daughter, Anna L. Dittman; granddaughter, Sorothy Dittman; sisters, Elizabeth Ashley and Mrs. Boyd Kelly; and brothers, William and George Cox.

Information gathered from:

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Old Section I, Lot 12

Charles J. Mesta
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Rep. Charles J. Mesta was a relative and employee of George F. Mesta, the extremely successful manufacturing engineer and 1898 founder of the West-Homestead based Mesta Machine Company, after merging the Leechburg Foundry & Machine Company with the Robinson-Rhea Manufacturing Company. At it's peak during George's oversight, Mesta Machine Co. employed over 3,000 people within its mile-long plant, and manufactured rolling equipment and other heavy machinery used by steel mills throughout the United States. Upon his death in 1925, George's fortune was estimated to be worth upwards of $74 million dollars (over $1.2 billion today). 

According to the PA House of Representatives, Charles J. Mesta was born in Bethel Township of Allegheny County on February 20, 1873. He attended the Western University Pennsylvania (now known as the University of Pittsburgh), before working with the engineering department at Leechburg Foundry and Machine Company, and later as their superintendent. Following the merger that led to the Mesta Machine Company, Charles was elevated to the seat of second Vice-President, and worked as a sales manager upon his death.

 

He took an active part in making West Homestead a borough in 1902, and was a member of its first Council. He went further to serve in the 1907 term of the PA House of Representatives as an elected Republican official, and is credited with fathering a bill to organize the State constabulary, and was integral in legislation against unethical "bucket shops" which were firms that allowed their customers, usually unwitting investors, to gamble on stock prices, often using dangerously high levels of leverage.

 

On May 6, 1923, his body, along with a 35-caliber revolver, was found in his downtown Oliver Building office by his brother, Fred E. Mesta, and brother-in-law, W. J. Hirth. His death was ruled a suicide by the Coroner, noting a bullet hole in his right temple. His family claims that he had been suffering from nervous breakdowns for some time prior to his death.  He was 50 years old.

Information gathered from:

  • Barkes, Kevin. “Cemetery Bares Famous Names, History.” 5 Dec. 1973, pp. 7–7.

  • Center, Legislativate Data Processing. “CHARLES J. MESTA.” The Official Website for the Pennsylvania General Assembly., www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/BiosHistory/MemBio.cfm?ID=3646&body=H.

  • "Charles Mesta Dies From Bullet Wound." The Pittsburgh Daily Post, 7 Mar 1923, p. 2.

  • "Charles Mesta Ends His Life With Revolver." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 7 Mar 1923, p. 1.

  • “George Mesta.” Find A Grave, 16 Nov. 2000, www.findagrave.com/memorial/18500/george-mesta.

  •  "George Mesta, Noted Engineer, Dies Here"; subscription availability, The New York Times, 23 April 1925, page 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.

  • "Millionaire Found Dead." The News-Journal, Lancaster, 7 Mar 1923, p. 1.

  • "The Death Record. Mrs. Harriet Mesta." The Pittsburgh Press, 2 Dec 1902, p. 2.

  • Vojtko, Margaret Mary. “In Memoriam Homestead Cemetery - 1896-1986.” The Valley Mirror, 8 Jan. 1987, pp. 8–12.

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Old Section I, Lot 89

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Robert McWhinney, aged 56, was a well-known real estate mogul. He had been born in Hazelwood to an Irish family; his grandfather, Andrew McWhinney, was the original owner of a large farm that would become the location for the Mesta Machine Company and Liberty Plate Mill.

 

Robert served as Postmaster of Homestead, and was the Burgess of Homestead from 1894-1896, before being elected as a member of the Eleventh Legislature where he served five terms. He was active in the legislature and introduced several bills to protect coal miners. He was a longstanding member of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Homestead, secretary of the Homestead and Mifflin Street Railway Company, and held large amounts of property through the surrounding boroughs.

 

He had also been a former President of the Homestead Hospital, and was credited with organizing several enterprises around the town. He died on September 26, 1918.

 

His funeral arrangements were handled by Gillen & Coulter of Homestead, and he was buried on September 29, 1918 in Homestead Cemetery.

The family's namesake roadway, McWhinney Street, connects Caroline Street to Rebecca Street in Munhall. 

Information and photos gathered from:

  • "Robert McWhinney," Pittsburgh Daily Post, 27 September 1918, p. 7.

  • "The Death Roll. Robert McWhinney," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 27 September 1918, p. 4.​