Stephen Collins Foster Biography - online book

A Biography Of America's Folk-Song Composer By Harold Vincent Milligan

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THE FAMILY                               5
had been a fort at this spot since the middle of the eighteenth century, the location having been selected by Colonel George Washington as the strategic key to the region. For many years it was little else than a fort and a trading post, but gradually the number of houses clustering around the Blockhouse increased, until in 1786 the town of Pittsburgh was laid out, consisting at that time of thirty-six log houses, one stone and one frame house and five stores. The town sprang into prominence after the conclusion of the French and Indian War, and upon the improvement of the military roads laid out over the Alleghany Mountains during that struggle. Located on the main highway leading to the Mississippi Valley, it was the principal stopping-place in the journey from the East to the Louisiana Country. The trip from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh consumed twenty days and the travel was by pack-horse and wagon. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the population of the city was 1565, increasing in the next ten years to 4768.
Hither came young William Foster, and found em­ployment with Anthony Beelen and Major Ebenezer Denny, then partners in an extensive line of general merchandising peculiar to the frontier trade and the re­quirements of the new and growing community. Ac­cording to "The Pittsburgh Gazette" of this date, Denny & Beelen sold "dry goods, hardware, groceries, station­ery, perfumery, china, glass and queensware." Ebenezer Denny became Mayor of the city in 1816.
In those days the rivers were the highways of trade, and huge, unwieldy flat-boats were the common carriers. The products of the neighboring country, furs, peltries, whiskey, flour and salt, were loaded on the flat-boats, which were floated down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans, where the goods were sold for cash or exchanged for a return cargo of sugar, coffee and mo­lasses. The Spanish possessions in the West Indies

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III