Yearly History of New Kensington, Pennsylvania


The accent was on education.  New Kensington was listed as third in the
county for the number of school children between the ages of six and
sixteen.  Passage this year of the compulsory school law necessitated
appointment of a committee of directors to enforce the law and election
of a truant officer.  W.L. Johns was the first to hold this position,
beginning his work on October 11, 1897.
More new industries sought locations in the New Kensington area.  A new
flour mill, a drilling company and a bolt and nut works were headed for
the community,  Miss E.A. Mainwaring moved her millinery shop from
Leechburg to New Kensington.  As business moved into town the streets
had to be paved.  The first paved street was Fifth Avenues between Ninth
and Tenth Streets. Paul Voelkel laid 130 feet of pavement bricks on
Fifth Avenue in one day.


The call to arms was heard in the borough as men were called to war
against the Spanish in Cuba.  In mid-Aril, it was evident that the U.S.
would be at war with Spain, and many New Kensington's sons began
enlisting in the state militia.  Battery D, consisting of men from New
Kensington, was stationed at Chickamauga before being shipped to Cuba. 
Patriotic flags were raised all over the borough, with a huge one flying
over the town hall, and Burgess Shaffer leading a chant each day when it
was raised.  In September, the heroes were welcomed home by thousands
who gathered to witness their arrival.  The soldiers' pale faces and
stooped shoulders told a tale of terrible hardship.

While the war was moving at a rapid pace, so was New Kensington.  The
industrial boom continued.  The German Plate Glass Company announced
that it would build a factory to employ about 125 men, and the W.A. 
Cochran Foundry was to begin operations which would employ 45.  A mill
was erected on 14th Street, and the Adams Drilling Company began
construction of its second building, adding 75 more jobs.  A new
railroad station was built at Valley Camp.  The New Kensington Milling
Company began operations milling tons of flour each day, and one of the
towns newest industries was New Kensington Brewing Company, which made
"Kensington Ale."

A disastrous fire, causing and estimated $50,000 damage, consumed the
New Kensington Opera House and ten homes.  Lack of water hampered
fireman's efforts at the opera house scene, which was at the site of the
present "U.S.A. Today" offices on Fourth Avenue at Tenth Street.  T.A.
Mellon, one of the owners of Burrell Improvement Company, carried on a
four-month war with Council to get an ordinance adopted to allow street
car service down Fifth Avenue.  Flooding took its tool, with the
Allegheny on its own warpath, delaying mails and halting general
traffic.  Termed the worse flood since the spring of 1884, it spurred
discussion of construction of a dam at Springdale to control the river.

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