The Civil War Diary of Henderson George



Henderson George was the oldest son of William George, who was the oldest son of James George, was born June 16th. l838, on the farm of his father adjoining the village of North Liberty, Liberty Township, Mercer Co., Pa. Here I lived until I was nineteen years of age going to school and helping with the ordinary work on the farm.

At about the age of six years was started to school in a log school house that stood in the village. School facilities very inefficient; the school system of the state, was, in a general way, in a formative or developing period; public school funds were inadequate; teachers were employed with little or no training because they were willing to put in the time at small compensation, a part of which had to be raised among the patrons by subscription; at the same time school terms weve limited to from three to six months in the year.

These briefly outlined conditions continued in a general way throughout the nine or ten years of my school life; education therefore very limited.

On the 9th day of September 1857, I took leave of home with the intention of making my own way through the world. I had made up my mind to go to the city of Pittsburg, about fifty five miles away, somewhat in a spirit of adventure, without any definite plans as to what I would do when I arrived there.

Accordingly passage was engaged the day before with the agent of the Ohio Stage Co., which ran its line through the village and at two o'clock next morning in company with my boy friend John W. Morrison, boarded the four horse Stage Coach and were off. We arrived in Pittsburg about six o'clock that evening. The next day I was fortunate to find employment in the retail dry goods house of Alexander Bates, located at that time on the N. W. corner of the Diamond and Market street, and was told to report on the following Monday Morning.

Never having heretofore been in a large city, every thing was new, strange, and interesting.

In 1859, I left the Bates store to take employment with the dry goods firm of White & Smiley, at 58 and 60 Market street. I was only a few weeks with the firm before I was sent to Zanesville Ohio, practically in charge of a stock of dry goods which he firm had sold to a young man who was starting a dry goods store in that city.

The young man, (his name not recalled) the party to whom they sold this stock, had just been married. He was probably twenty five years of age, and I soon learned altogether inexperienced in business. He had some money, probably inherited, with which he decided to start a dry goods store in Zanesville Ohio. He came to Pittsburg to buy his stock; and instead of going to one of the wholesale dry goods houses, me way fell into the hands of White & Smiley. The firm deliberately took advantage of his callowness and inexperience, and sold him a large bill of goods, which for the most part were old and out of date, and at the same time charged exhorbitant prices.

Zanesville at this time was a city of about 8,000 population and had some very good retail dry goods stores. Opening up his stock in a store room not well located, the young man soon found that he could do nothing with his stock; it was absolutely dead and unsalable. The firm sent me with the young man ostensibly as one of his salesmen, and instructed me to make frequent reports of how business was succeeding; this I did from time to time with nothing favourable to report. The end of the matter was, that in about five or six weeks the sheriff closed the store. After about ten days legal notice, and advertising, the stock was sold out under the hammer. It caused a finantial loss to the young man of several thousand dollars.

The whole transaction was a deliberate and palpable fraud, which I did not realize until after my arrival in Zanesville. On my return to Pittsburg I resigned my position because of the fraud, and the part the firm led me to play in carrying it through.

This incident proved to be the turning point in my whole future business life.

About 1848, Hough and Anthony brought from Paris France a stock of materials for making the newly discovered Dagueratypes, the process of making pictures by sun-light, and established themselves in business at 64, fourth street Pittsburg. It may be here mentioned that from this French discovery by Daguerre, have been developed the present day marvelous system of instantaneous photos, and moving pictures.

In 1855, Mr. John Haworth of Philadelphia Pa., son of a wealthy manufacturer. of that city, becoming interested in the new process for making pictures by sun-light, came to Pittsburg and bought out the firm of Hough and Anthony.

Soon after leaving the firm of White And Smiley, which was in 1859, and being out of employment, I was offered a place in the store of Mr. John Haworth. This position was offered without solicitation on my part; I had, however, some acquaintance with Mr. Haworth, through John W. Morrison, my boy friend, who was his brother-in-law, and who probably used his influence in my behalf. I was glad to take the position,and was with Mr. Haworth when the war broke out in the spring of 1861.