Jeannette, Pennsylvania


40°19'44" N / 79°36'50" W

~ Introduction ~

( Click the arrow in the buttons below for pronunciation. )

Jeannette   , named for Jeannette E. Hartupee, wife of one founding father, H. Sellers McKee, is a city in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, United States, thirty-one miles SSE of Pittsburgh and four miles from Greensburg.

Construction of the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1852 led to the development of Jeannette in 1888. It was first incorporated as a borough on 7 June 1889, and earned the nickname as "The Glass City" in recognition of the numerous glass plants founded in the area. Those factories contributing to the city's original stature—as the first large manufacturing town in Westmoreland County. On 1 January 1938, Jeannette became a third class city with Attorney John M. OConnell as its first mayor.

~ Maps ~

Jeannette, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Map: Copyright ©2015 by Marshall J. KATZ

1897 Map: Jeannette, PA
Township Map: Westmoreland County, PA
Aerial View: Jeannette, PA
Street Map: Jeannette, PA

~ History ~

Perhaps the oldest historical reference to the area that became Jeannette is the role the area played in the Pontiac War in 1763.

The Bushy Run Battlefield marks the spot where Colonel Henry Boquet led the British and American troops to defeat the Indians in a battle on the 5th and 6 August that year. A monument (pictured) was erected on the site of the battlefield.

This victory is credited with helping to prevent the capture of Fort Pitt (at Pittsburgh) and it served the purpose of reopening communication and supply lines.

H. Sellers McKee and his partner, J.A. Chambers—of Mckee Glass Co. (pictured)—had the distinction of naming Jeannette's main street, Clay Avenue—after their financial backer, Richard W. Clay. At times, there were as many as 7 significant glass factories operating in the city of Jeannette including some of the most well known in the history of the glass industry. Names like Mckee Glass, Jeannette Glass, Fort Pitt Glass, the Pittsburgh Lamp, Brass and Glass Company, American-Saint Gobain, Westmoreland Glass and others all supplied the country with everything from plate glass windows, bottles, milk glass and much more for many decades. Some estimates over the years indicate that Jeannette once produced somewhere between 70-85% of the world's glass.

This was due, in large part, to the presence of nearby natural gas wells, which were key to the operation of glass furnaces. Unfortunately, Jeannette's glass industry was one of the early United States industry victims of cheap, foreign competition and only few glass factories remain in the city.

Jeannette's manufacturing history includes the Elliott Company (pictured), dating back to 1914 when William Swan Elliott moved his company to Jeannette. The Elliott Company, owned by the Carrier Corporation 1957-1979 and by United Technologies Corporation until 1987 when a buyout returned it to privately owned, only to become an Ebara Corporation subsidiary in 2000. It has always had a solid reputation in the dynamo, turbine, and large rotating equipment industry. In 1952, the company produced the first diesel-engine turbocharger used in a race car and subsequently built more than 40,000 more of them for other diesel applications.

Today, the Elliott Company is the city's largest employer. Jeannette is also the manufacturing home of Jensen Steam Engine Mfg. Co., Inc., which produces small working models of steam engines and turbines.

The Pennsylvania Rubber Works (pictured), which moved to Jeannette from Erie, Pennsylvania, around 1903, was yet another key part of the city's significant industrial base.

Not only did this factory become a significant supplier of play balls (basketballs, footballs, tennis balls, etc.) and carpet underlay as part of General Tire in its later years; but the original Pennsylvania Rubber Works provided products for Jeeps and gas masks during World War II.

In 1943, the city went before the Supreme Court to defend an ordinance that banned distributing religious materials door to door. Several members of the Jehovah's Witnesses challenged the constitutionality of the law, but were defeated in Douglas v. City of Jeannette.

Today, Jeannette is a small town with about 9,654 inhabitants (2010) and is currently trying to revitalize itself. The Chamber of Commerce and a Renaissance organization are active studying ways to improve the town and environs. One constant has always been the resilience of all of Jeannette's citizens.

~ Jewish Settlers ~

By 1919 Jeannette had about 40 Jewish families, practically all of whom are affiliated with the Orthodox wing of Jewry. In the view of the small number, they have done unusually well in the sum total of their accomplishments. They make up in enthusiasm and interest what they lack in numbers.

Jeannette Jewry can boast of the fact that while they have only 40 families, that one of their number is the Burgess of the town.

In 1917, E. KATZ (pictured, The Jewish Criterion - Vol. 51 No. 22 - 25 July 1919) was elected Burgess of Jeannette. He enjoyed an unusual standing in the community and proved himself to be an able and conscientious executive. He came to Jeannette in 1896 as a partner of Joseph FINKELHOR, and is related to the Finkelhor family of Pittsburgh.

After the death of Mr. Finkelhor, in 1911, Mr. Katz became sole owner of one of the biggest retail stores in Jeannette. Mr. Katz, for a time, realizing that is the duty of every citizen to give up some of his time for the public good, served without pay as Fire Chief.

The business community was a very important one considering the small number of Jewish merchants who are engaged in business in Jeannette. In 1919, such men as Barney ABRAMS, M. I. NEUMAN, C. RATNER, I. WHITMAN, S. LEVINSON, A. LaVICTORE, Frank LEVINE, Hyman LEVINE, M. SANDSON, Joesj SMITH, William SMITH, J. KAPLAN, M. KAPAN and L. WHITMAN were prominent businessmen.

Sources (portions):
Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center
The Jewish Criterion - Vol. 51 No. 22 - 25 July 1919
Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project, Carnegie Mellon University Libraries
Wikimedia Commons

~ Notable Citizens ~

(Click the images below to view a larger image.)

Following are a few notable citizens born in Jeannette:

Steve Paul August, (b. Jeannette, 4 September 1954), played college football at the University of Tulsa. Afterwards, he was a American football offensive tackle in the National Football League.

He played most of his professional football career with the Seattle Seahawks (1977-1984).

He then retired as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers after joining them at mid-season (1984).

Ambrose Battista De Paoli (b. Jeannette, 19 AUgust 1934), was a Roman Catholic cleric and nuncio (Vatican ambassador).

Ordained a priest on 18 December 1960, for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami, in Florida, he entered the Vatican's diplomatic corps in 1966. De Paoli was ordained a Roman Catholic bishop on 20 November 1983 after being named a bishop on 23 September 1983 by Pope John Paul II.

He served, thereafter, as a delegate or nuncio to Sri Lanka, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Japan. In 2004, he was named nuncio to Australia where he remained installed until his death in Miami Beach, Florida on 10 October 2007.

Monica Lee Gradischek (b. Jeannette, 15 December 1971), is a 1994 graduate of New York University (NYU) is a voice actress in animation, commercials, and video games as well as performing arts.

Her carer has spanned Film/Television, Animation Roles, Los Angeles/New York Theater, Broadway, Video Game/CD ROM Roles. In addition, she has done commercials for over 20 major companies including GMC, Honda, Wendy's, and the NHL on FOX.

Monica starred in the Lifetime Television reality series "Off the Leash" in October 2006, while playing the role of Darlene in the Cartoon Network series Squirrel Boy.

Slide Hampton (b. Jeannette, 21 April 1932), is a jazz trombonist, composer and arranger. A master composer, arranger and uniquely gifted trombone player, Hampton's career is among the most distinguished in jazz. The Hamptons were a very musical family in which mother, father, eight brothers, and four sisters all played instruments. Slide Hampton is one of the few left-handed trombone players. As a child, Hampton was given the trombone set up to play left-handed, or backwards; and as no one ever dissuaded him, he continued to play this way. He played with numerous bands during his wonderful career, and in 1998 he won a Grammy Award for "Best Jazz Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s).", and again in 2005 for "Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album." In 2005, he was honored at the jazz festival in Indianapolis where the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation inducted him into their Hall of Fame and that same year, the National Endowment for the Arts honored Slide Hampton with its highest honor in jazz, the NEA Jazz Masters Award.

Richard "Dick" John Hoak (b. Jeannette, 8 December 1939), is a former running backs coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers—the longest tenured coach in the team's history. He was a running back at Penn State University from 1958-1961, and was the Nittany Lions' MVP in 1960, graduating in 1961. Selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1961, he had an impressive career, amassing 3,965 rushing yards in 1132 attempts (3.5 avg) with 25 touchdowns, caught 146 passes for 1,452 yards (9.9 avg) and 8 touchdowns. He was named to one Pro Bowl and led the team in rushing three times. He retired after the 1970 season as Pittsburgh's number 2 all-time rusher, and is currently fifth all time in rushing yards out of all Steelers. Hoak was as the Steelers running backs coach in 1972, and served in that position for 20 seasons. He was the position coach for Steeler greats Franco Harris and Jerome Bettis. On 1 January 2007, Hoak announced his retirement after 45 seasons.

General Jack G. Merrell (b. Jeannette, 8 April 1915), was a United States Air Force four-star general who served as Commander, Air Force Logistics Command (COMAFLC) from 1968 to 1972. First assigned to the Cavalry, but quickly secured a transfer to the United States Army Air Corps, finishing both primary and advanced flying school within a year after leaving West Point. When the United States entered into World War II, Merrell was serving with the Army Air Corps and in May 1944, he went to England and became the air executive officer of the 491st Bombardment Group and later was commander of the 389th Bombardment Group, Eighth Air Force. He served in numerous progressively responsible command positions and in August 1967, he was named vice commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and in 1968, became commander of the Air Force Logistics Command. He was a command pilot and his decorations include Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal and the French Croix de Guerre. He retired in 12 September 1972 and died on 15 August 1993.

Marissa Moss (b. Jeannette, 29 September 1959), is a children's book author. She first submitted a book for publication at the age of nine. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1979. She studied art history in graduate school for two years and then attended the California College of Arts and Crafts to study the publishing world. Moss's work spans the many ages of a child. She started her first career making picture books. Amelia's Notebook was her first deviation from that format. This book is the format of a journal or diary and is penned in a black and white composition notebook. Moss herself says that she loves this format that she stumbled upon because it allows her to explore the world through a child's eyes. In fact, she says, "The things that happened to Amelia really happened to me—from the fire in the school to the marshmallows on the ceiling—though the names have been changed because my sister is mad enough at me already!"

Terrelle Pryor (b. Jeannette, 20 June 1989), is a football quarterback who is currently a free agent. Considered the most recruited high school football-basketball athlete in southwestern Pennsylvania since Tom Clements, Pryor was widely regarded as the nation's top football prospect of 2008, the number one quarterback, and was named "Junior of the Year" by Pryor had originally hoped to be a two-sport athlete, as he was also one of the nation's most heralded high school basketball players, but he later chose football.

Pryor attended Ohio State University where he was the starting quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes from 2008-2010. Later, he was elected by the The Oakland Raiders in the 2011 Supplemental Draft. After playing for the Raiders, he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks. He played in the preseason, but was released in the final roster cuts.

Lt. Col. William A. Shomo (b. Jeannette, 30 May 1918), was a United States Army fighter pilot during World War II and a recipient of the Medal of Honor. He joined the Army Air Corps in August 1941. Assigned to the 82nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, his unit had moved along the northern coast of New Guinea and Morotai supporting General MacArthur's drive to the Philippines. On 24 December, Shomo was put in command of the squadron and ordered to move it to Mindoro, an island off the southwest coast of Luzon, to support MacArthur's landing at Lingayen Gulf. On 9 January, he led his first combat mission, as they approached the Japanese airfield at Tuguegarao, there he scored his first air victory. Shomo flew more than 200 combat missions, becoming an "ace in one day" shooting down seven enemy planes. By 1 April 1945, he had been promoted to major and was awarded the Medal of Honor for leading an attack against heavy odds and destroying seven enemy aircraft. Lieutenant Colonel William A. Shomo died on 25 June 1990.

Sources (portions):
Ambrose Battista DePaoli -
General Jack G. Merrell - Wikipedia
Marissa Moss - Wikipedia
Monica Lee Gradis -
Richard John Hoak -
Slide Hampton -
Steve August -
Terrelle Pryor - Wikipedia
William A. Shomo - Wikipedia

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Compiled and created by:
Marshall J. KATZ, USA
with assistance from:
Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center
The Jewish Criterion - Vol. 51 No. 22 - 25 July 1919
Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project, Carnegie Mellon University Libraries
The Jewish Criterion - Vol. 104 No. 20 - 15 September 1944
Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project, Carnegie Mellon University Libraries
The Pittsburgh Press - 26 June 1911
and the following

JewishGen members/descendants and
contributors of Jeannette Jewish families:


Updated: 07 October 2020

Copyright ©2015
Marshall J. KATZ
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