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KING, George S.

    Johnstown Tribune, 8 Dec 1903, Contributed by Lisa Baker


Long Career, Crowned with Honor
And Usefulness, Is Ended.


Venerable Citizen Passed to his Reward
This Morning, Death Ensuing From
Old Age - A Sketch of His Connection
with the Founding of the
Cambria Iron Company - City Councils
Will Meet to Take Action.

The foremost citizen of Johnstown lies dead today after a career of honor and usefulness such as falls to the lot of few men. The Hon. George S. King passed into rest at 5:45, o’clock this morning, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. J. P. Linton, in the Eighth Ward, having succumbed to the infirmities of old age in his ninety-fifth year. Mr. King reached his ninety-fourth milestone on life’s highway on the 28th of last October, and at that time The Tribune noted the failing of his health, which had been quite remarkable for one of his years up to a couple of months previously. After that he was compelled to spend a greater part of his time in bed, and lately was confined there altogether. Some two weeks ago his tongue become so paralyzed that he spoke only with difficulty, and other signs indicated the near approach of dissolution. In spite of this, however, Mr. King’s mental faculties retained a remarkable clearness until death.

The only one of Mr. King’s children with him at the time of his death was Mrs. Linton. The others have been notified by telegraph, and upon their responses will depend the time of the funeral. It is likely, however, this will take place Thursday afternoon, with services by the Rev. Dr. C. C. Hays, of the Presbyterian Church, Mr. King having been an adherent of that denomination. The interment will be in Grand-View beside the remains of Mrs. King, who died in 1890, at Lewistown, Ill., where the couple had made their home since 1868. After her death Mr. King made his home here with Mrs. Linton.

In addition to Mrs. Linton, the surviving children of Mr. King are as follows: Edward K. King, of Philadelphia; Mrs. Mary Goudy, of Kansas; George, of Peoria, Ill.; Otho S., of Mason City, Ill.’ Newton C., of Havana, Ill.; Mrs. K. S. Fisher, of Paris, Tex.

Owning to the distinguished and valuable services of Mr. King in his capacity as ironmaster, as Burgess, and as a member of the State Legislature, Mayor Pendry has properly issued a call for a special session of Councils tomorrow evening to take appropriate action on his death and to make arrangements for the representation of the municipality at his funeral.

A Long and Useful Career.

The Tribune has from time to time referred to the part of Mr. King in the founding of the Cambria Iron Company, which made him, beyond all doubt, the greatest benefactor Johnstown has ever known and at this time there is in press, for our approaching Semi-Centennial Edition, a full history of Mr. King’s connection with the iron industry which has grown to be the mainstay of this city, and which, without his persistence, might never have been firmly established. That feature of his career will therefore not be enlarged upon here.

Mr. King was born at Hagerstown, Md., and at the age of four years was taken to Mercersburg, Pa., where he was a schoolmate of two younger brothers of James Buchanan, afterward President of the United States, whose father he knew well. At the age of twelve he went to work in a Mercersburg store, at fifteen was manager, and at seventeen owner of the establishment. In 1833 he came to Johnstown and purchased from Abraham Morrison the tract of ground now owned by the Gore and Williams estates on Main Street and by Dowling and Ellis on Franklin Street. On this lot he started a store.

After selling out his store in 1838 Mr. King became convinced that there was iron ore in the hills surrounding Johnstown in quantities sufficient to warrant the erection of a furnace. After several months of active searching in the face of the ridicule of many of the people here at that time, he located a deposit and together with John K. and William L. Shryock and David Stewart, he erected the Cambria Furnace, which made its first iron in 1841. Cambria Furnace was followed in 1842 by Millcreek and Benscreek furnaces.

In 1844 Mr. King and Dr. Peter Shoenberger, of Pittsburg (the Carnegie of those days), became equal owners of these three furnaces. In 1846 King & Shoenberger bought Blacklick Furnace from David Stewart and built another furnace at Sharon, Mercer County.

Mr. King continued in the management of these five furnaces, except for two years spent in Pittsburg, attending to the making of the product, until 1853. The iron produced by these furnaces was hard and unsuitable for use in bars or as castings. Consequently it could not be marketed profitably and became necessary to devise some way of utilizing it more advantageously. After a great deal of discussion, and rather against the judgment of Dr. Shoenberger, it was decided to erect a rolling mill.

In February 1852, Mr. King went east to interest capital in the new enterprise. He did not meet with much encouragement at first, but finally succeeded in incorporating the Cambria Iron Company, with a capital of $1,000,000, and in February 1853, just one year after his first trip east, ground was broken.

The first rail was rolled in 1854. The mill was a money maker from the start, but owing to the failure of the subscribers to take up their stock the company was in constant financial difficulties. In 1855 the mills were rented to Wood, Morrell & Co., who later acquired the stock and franchises of the concern.

Mr. King was elected a member of the Legislature on the Whig ticket in 1855. During his term he interested himself in securing the formation of a new county with Johnstown as the county seat. The bill’s adverse interests succeeded in securing a reconsideration and the bill was lost by one vote. Had Mr. King resorted to the use of money, Johnstown would to-day be the county seat of Cambria County.

Mr. King was also extensively interested in real estate in this section. He was also one of the organizers and one of the first Directors of the First National Bank.

In 1868 Mr. King went to Lewistown, Illinois, and was in the real estate and banking business in that State for a number of years, remaining there, as above noted, until the death of his wife, who was Eliza McDowell, daughter of Charles McDowell, founder and first editor of the Bedford “Gazette”, the oldest newspaper in this part of Pennsylvania.

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