Title: A century and a half of Pittsburg and her people / by John Newton Boucher ; illustrated. Vol. 2.
Author: Boucher, John Newton, 1854-1933.
A noted man of Pittsburgh in the forties, of last century was GENERAL WILLIAM LARIMER, JR., was born Oct. 24, 1809. He was married to RACHEL McMASTERS, of Turtle Creek, on Oct. 16, 1834. The first business he engaged in was the wagon business, a line of which he, in company with John Irwin, owned and operated between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia as early as 1830. After this he was engaged in merchandising and in many other newer enterprises which sprung up in the city in the thirties and forties. His success generally prompted his selection as first president of the Pittsburgh & Connellsville railroad and treasurer of the Ohio & Pennsylvania, now the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago Railroad. He was also the chief proprietor in the Youghiogheny Slack Water System and of the Remington Coal Railroad at McKee’s Rocks. Otherwise he was interested in the Overland Transportation Company and in the gold mining in the West. When the Pennsylvania Railroad was completed he united with John Covode and Thomas A. Scott in the formation of the Westmoreland Company, which still exists as one of the largest in Pennsylvania.
He helped to form the Liberal party and supported James G. Birney for President in 1844. After that until the defeat of Scott in 1852, he was in the front rank in the Whig party in both state and national politics. He was made major-general of the state militia in 1852, and was prominently spoken of as a candidate for governor in Pennsylvania.
The financial troubles which came in 1854-55 bore him down, and deciding to start anew in the West, he left Pittsburgh for Nebraska in 1855. The Republican party of that territory was organized at his home in Omaha and he was almost at once elected to its legislature. He also became interested in Kansas in 1858 and later in Colorado. He helped to found the city of Denver, and built its first house on land which he and his son had pre-empted. There he was appointed United States commissioner and judge of the probate court of the First Judicial District of the Territory. For more than twenty years he was thus prominently identified with the public interests of Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado.
When the Civil War began GENERAL LARIMER raised the Third Regiment of Colorado Volunteers and entered the service as its colonel. Increasing difficulties in the West, and particularly in Kansas, prompted him to resign and return there where he was engaged in home defense as captain of General Blunt’s bodyguard - four companies.
The Rocky Mountain News of September 11, 1862, publishes a war speech and we quote the editorial in part, and but two paragraphs of the address: (pg. 410)
“The war meeting held here Saturday night, last, was the largest and most enthusiastic ever held in the territory. The meeting was scarcely organized before GENERAL LARIMER was called for by the immense crowd in attendance. He came forward and was received with hearty cheers and most kindly feelings. The GENERAL spoke as follow:
“Mr. Chairman and fellow citizens: I am an old pioneer. I came to this country in the fall of 1858. I am one of the first settlers of the Rock Mountain Territory. I wrote one of the first letters ever written from this country, certainly the first ever written from Denver City. I had dated my latter the night before, “Golden City,” but after writting it we met and changed the name to Denver, after our governor, an honor to his country and to his name. Well, Denver is there still, and I believe will be for ages to come.
“Abraham Lincoln has been trying to preserve the Constitution and the Union, sustaining every State in all its rights, whether real or fancied, and to leave slavery untouched wherever it existed, believing that the National government was not responsible for it. He has been moving slowly, and has done everything that could be done to conciliate and assure the South that their institution would be untouched. In this course I have been disposed to stand by the President. Now I begin to think that I can see the hand of God in this mattter. Had this war been ended a year ago, slavery would have remained untouched. The millions who have so long been bowed down by tyrrany and opprossion would never have scented the air of freedom and universal liberty as it passed on every breeze over the plantations of the South from every far-off blood-stained battlefield, but now they have breathed its breath, heard its words, drunk in its spirit, and “as the lightning cometh out of the East and shineth into the West,” so has the light of universal freedom flashed tongue and mind over all the land.”
After the war closed he was elected to the Kansas State Senate and served in that capacity from 1867 to 1870.
While living in Pittsburgh he enjoyed a wide personal acquaintance with prominent bankers, journalists and statesmen of Philadelphia, New York, etc., and many of them were entertained at his home on Penn Avenue. The great editor and philosopher, Horace Greeley, was a frequent guest, but looked more like a farmer than a noted man of letters. One morning when Mr. Greeley and GENERAL LARIMER were walking down Penn Avenue, a neighbor seeing them, stepped back into his house, “to spare the General from the embarrassment of introducing his country cousin,” as he afterwards said, and thus to his sorrow missed meeting the great journalist. Later Mr. Greely visited him in Denver, and the General supported him for the Presidency in 1872, and it is claimed that he was the first man to suggest Mr. Greeley for nomination. Another friend who often visited the LARIMER home in Pittsburgh was General Samuel Houston. True to his Huguenot ancestry, he gave to all who came the best he had.
His name was given to LARIMER Avenue, Pittsburgh; LARIMER Station on the Pennsylvania Railroad; LARIMER Township in Somerset County; LARIMER COUNTY in Colorado; LARIMER Street in Denver, and to Fort LARIMER in Arkansas.
GENERAL LARIMER died near Leavenworth City in Kansas, on May 16, 1875, and his wife died in Pittsburgh on September 16, 1879.
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