The high terrace south of the above named former highway and reaching
about to the present Sunflower Road was called Mount Ephraim. It was so
termed because that was the name EPHRAIM SMITH gave to the home he
built thereon in 1852, and which is still in existence, though not
occupied by any descendant. For many years it was a fine suburban country
place in a setting of trees, shrubbery, a large orchard and grape arbors,
with the usual gardens incident to such a country seat. But the subsequent
years of the manufacture of brick and clay mining have not improved the
appearance of the original homestead, though Perry A. Smith, a grandson
maintains a fine residence on part of the premises.
Ephraim Smith was a Yorkshire Englishman, another of the early settlers
who came to New Brighton from old Fallston. A young married man, the
father of two children, he set out to seek his fortune in America about
1836 or 1837; but he came alone. His wife, Ann (Lee) with matronly
misgivings, refused to accompany him “to such a wild country” until he had
found a place for his family and made a home. He soon found employment in
the United States with a surveying corps; and one of his first occupations
was in helping lay out the present Mercer Road. Though he continued at the
same work in other places for a time, he established a home in Butler
County where his wife and children soon joined him. His inclinations
naturally turned to the occupation at which he had served as an apprentice
boy in England; namely, the manufacture of woolen goods. An opportunity
presenting itself, he started about 1839 a small carding mill on Wolf
Creek near New Castle, Pa. It was a short lived venture and in the early
“forties” he removed to Fallston. There he found temporary employment at
his chosen vocation.
The year 1846, however, found him as an employer instead of employee.
In partnership with one John Collins a woolen factory was operated as
Smith and Collins, of which he later became the sole proprietor. He
operated it continuously until 1866, maintaining a store at the same time
in connection with it.
In 1868 Ephraim Smith sold the Woolen factory which had been idle for
the previous two years, and gave his attention to Mt. Ephraim and its
resources. He was soon shipping fire clay from his estate, and built a
small red brick plant upon it which was operated more or less until about
1875 when he leased it to Joseph Dewhirst, who reconstructed it and
operated it for about a decade. Mr. Smith spent the rest of his life until
his death in 1880, selling fire clay, and taking care of the several
properties acquired in Fallston and elsewhere. His widow died in 1888.
Alexander F. Smith, son of the former, who was born in Butler County in
1839 and who had for several years been more or less associated with his
father in his several ventures, then became the head of the Smith family.
In 1886 he became a partner with Robert Hay, and under the firm name of A.
F. Smith & Company bought the long established Glass brickyard (Globe
Brick Company) at “Todytown” which had been founded by John Glass in 1845.
A. F. Smith soon became sole owner and was operating the same at the time
of his death in 1901. He had also continued mining and shipping fire clay.
Mr. Smith’s demise was a tragic one. Returning from the post office about
5 :00 P. M. on July 20, 1901, in his buggy, he had reached the top of the
Eleventh Street hill opposite the residence of Prof. J. B. Ritchie, when
he noticed Mrs. Ritchie with whom he was acquainted at the front of the
house. He had a paper in his hand, and instead of lifting his hat he
assumed the privilege of an elderly man to wave the paper at her in
greeting. This was his undoing, for his horse took immediate fright,
rushed toward Penn Avenue and turning north upset the rig throwing Mr.
Smith against a fire plug where his skull was crushed and instant death
resulted. On September fifteenth following, the business was incorporated
as the A. F. Smith Co., which still exists with Perry A. Smith, son of
Alexander and Hannah R. Smith, in charge of operations. Hannah R. Smith
was born in 1843 and died in 1927. A. F. and Hannah R. are survived by the
following children: P. A., Lee B., Edward, Celia and Myra Smith, and Ellen
A doctor’s place in history is usually an unobtrusive one. Even though
gifted with exceptional ability throughout a lifetime of zealous
performance of his chosen duty to mankind, his memory usually becomes a
mere line or two of type, a graven epitaph and then oblivion. But should
the uncommon enter his career, great personal popularity, family
connections, or even eccentricities—he will be assured a place in the
recording of events. However, this very human trait of interest in the
unusual is not entirely limited to physicians, but is as cosmopolitan as
existence. Perhaps it is well that it is so, otherwise the narration of
past happenings called history might be as dry as the seven brass hinges
on the fiery furnace.
History of New Brighton
1838-1939, published by the Historical Committee of the Centennial,
Butler, PA, pages 49-51. More Beaver
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