|John Pitcairn & Family, 1900|
Welcome to this week’s EmigranThursday featuring John Pitcairn of New Lisbon, Columbiana County, Ohio. His biography appeared on page 242 of Brant and Fuller’s History of the Upper Ohio Valley with Historical Account of Columbiana County, Ohio published in 1891. Additional sources from Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.
- John Pitcairn, was born in Brig of Johnstone, Renfrewshire on October 29, 1819. His ancestors were also natives of Scotland, in which country his grandfather, Alexander Pitcairn, born in Edinburgh, was a well-known manufacturer of watches and clocks. Afterwards Alexander Pitcairn made machinery used in cotton factories and he died at Brig of Johnstone ca. 1835. John’s parents were Alexander Pitcairn and Ann Black and they were married in 1817. Their children were: John, Robert, William, James and Andrew – surviving; William, Alexander and Ann – deceased. Alexander, Sr came to United States in 1838 and located in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania where for some years he worked and had charge of a large cotton factory. He retired from active life in 1861 and died in Allegheny City in 1888 at 91. His wife died in 1874. John Pitcairn came to United States with his parents in 1838, and for some time there after was engaged on the St. Lawrence River, but in 1839 became a resident of New Lisbon and he stayed there. Previous to coming to United States he had served a six year apprenticeship to the tailor’s trade and on moving to New Lisbon he worked for a few years as a journeyman, and about 1843 opened a merchant tailoring establishment of his own, which he continued very successfully until 1880, during which time he realized a comfortable sum from his business. He retired from active life in 1880. On June 6, 1843 he married Catherine Small daughter of John Small of New Lisbon. They had nine children: Anson E, F.M., C.W., W.L., Laura G, J.S., Robert R, Edwin, and William A. Anson, Laura, William and Edwin are deceased. John is member of the Odd Fellows, which he joined in1847. His wife is a member of the Christian Church.
As usual, I didn’t find much about this family on FamilySearch. I did find a John Pitcairn born to Alexander Pitcairn and Ann Lang in Abbey Paisley, Renfrewshire baptized on 21 November 1819. However, since there are several things which do not match, it would take more research to determine if they are the same John Pitcairn.
There is also a record of an Alexander and Margaret Pitcairn and their family aboard the Floyd out of Glasgow in May 1830. The details of the families are tantalizing close, but since so many Scots had the same names and the biography states that the family under consideration emigrated in 1838 (and the 1900 census indicates that John emigrated in 1837) I would say that the family who came in 1830 is a different one.
I did not find any Pitcairns in the US Census before 1850 on Ancestry. They are either living in someone else’s household or their name was completely mangled. Alexander Pitcairn (53, b. Scotland, weaver), his wife Ann (53, b. Scotland) and their sons James (16, shoemaker) and Andrew (14) were enumerated in the 1st Ward of Allegheny City, just across the river from Pittsburgh. Living next to them were Robert Pitcairn (28, b. Scotland, engine maker), his wife Martha and their two sons. Presumably Robert is one of Alexander’s sons. There were two other Scottish families living near them, the Cogans and the Carnegies. In 1860 the Alexander Pitcairn and Robert Pitcairn families were also enumerated next to each other in the 1st Ward of Allegheny City. In 1880, Alexander (82) is residing with his youngest son Andrew (40, bookkeeper) and his family.
By 1850, John Pitcairn (30, tailor) had married Catherine Small (31) and was living with his two small children Florence (4) and Charles (1) in the household of John Morrison the sheriff. By 1860 the family had increased to include Sara (9), William (6) and Wesley (2). In 1870, Jon (5) was still working as a tailor and he and Catherine (43) had welcomed two more children into the world, John (8) and Robert (3). Elizabeth Small (45) was listed as a domestic servant in their household. Only three children were in the household by 1880, Wesley (22, clerk) John (18, tailor) and Robert (13, at school). Elizabeth Small was provided with a more appropriate description, as John’s sister-in-law, whose profession was “retired.” This census also indicates that Elizabeth and Catherine’s parents were born in Pennsylvania.
Given Alexander’s profession as a weaver, I wonder if he and his family were pushed out by the mechanization of the cotton industry in Scotland or pulled to the cotton industry in America, where with his skills he could have commanded high wages. If you are particularly interested in the Pitcairns, family stories are posted on Ancestry.com here and here. There are also several public family trees, too many to list here, so search “Alexander Pitcairn, 1797-1888.” I obviously cannot vouch for the veracity of these trees and stories.