The following, regarding Morganza, was extracted from the book, History of Washington County, Pennsylvania with Biographical Sketches of Many of its Pioneers and Prominent Men (Boyd Crumrine, editor):
Pennsylvania Reform School.--The Legislature of the State of Pennsylvania, on the 22d of April, 1850, granted a charter for a "House of Refuge," to be located in Allegheny County, and under the control of twenty-six managers, a part of whom were appointed by the Governor, and part elected by the contributors of the institution. An organization was effected in 1851, and a contract was made in August, 1852, for a building, which was completed and formally opened on the 13th of December, 1854. The institution opened with five inmates (as appears from the first report of the superintendent). The numbers increased rapidly, and inmates were received from Allegheny and adjoining counties.
The managers appointed by the Governor in 1869 were John W. Irvine, R. P. Nevin, James P. Barr, R. S. Waring, A. F. Keating, of Allegheny County; Thomas McKennan, of Washington County; and Jacob Weyand, of Beaver County. The following from the report of the managers made in 1878 shows the progress of the school and the change to Morganza, its present location:
"From 1854, the time of its first opening, until December, 1876, the school was conducted under the congregate system, and the inmates were trained behind high walls and bolts and bars. With further light and wider experience upon such matters, in 1872 the 'family plan' was discussed, and a committee of the board was appointed to visit the 'congresses' held for the advancement of such objects. After due consideration it was resolved to adopt the 'family system,' and to remove the school to a location some distance from the city. After a thorough examination of various sites, the 'Morganza' farm was purchased."
The amount of land purchased was five hundred and three acres, at a cost of $88,621.20. On the 1st of May, 1873, contract was made for laying stone for foundations of two main buildings and four family dwellings. In July the same year contracts for the buildings were given out, and on the 15th of July that year the corner-stone of the main building was laid by Governor John F. Hartranft, with imposing ceremonies. The estimates made for their different buildings were as follows: Main building, $80,000; girls' department, $40,000; boys' department, $25,000; church, $15,000; workshops and improvement of grounds, $40,000; total, $200,000. These buildings were not erected at once, and the church is not yet (1882) erected. The amount of money expended in 1873, according to the report of the managers (February, 1874), was $91,952.54. In May, 1874, another building was erected. The buildings were completed and ready for occupancy in the fall of 1876, and on the 12th of December of that year the inmates from the Allegheny premises were removed to Morganza.
In June, 1876, application was made in the Court of Common Pleas No. 1 of Allegheny County for an amendment of the charter. The amendment provided for putting the institution under control of the State, as under its provisions sixteen of the twenty-six managers are appointed by the Governor, subject to approval by the Senate, "instead of their being elected as heretofore by the contributors." In 1878 there were in the institution forty-five girls and two hundred and fifty-five boys, occupying the main and five family buildings. On the 3d of October, 1878, agreeable to an act passed by the Legislature, the managers transferred to the State all right, title, and interest in about fourteen acres of ground in the Ninth Ward, Allegheny, with buildings, engines, fixtures, etc., known as "the House of Refuge property, Wood's Run," for the sole use and benefit of the Western Penitentiary, excepting certain lots mentioned as sold.
An effort was made to transfer the control of the school entirely to the State. The Washington County commissioners, who had a voice in the control of the school, relinquished all claim to the management on the 31st of January, 1879, and on the 30th of April of that year a bill passed the Legislature authorizing and directing the managers to transfer entire control to the State, which was done. The first meeting of the board of managers (consisting of sixteen members) after the passage of this bill was held on the 5th of May, 1879. The officers were Thomas Wightman, president; John F. Dravo, vice-president; A. J. Keating, secretary; and J. J. Gillespie, treasurer.
The obtaining of a supply of pure water was for a long time a source of considerable trouble and anxiety. The farm committee, in their report of 1878, said,--
"Your committee, after a careful examination of all the facts in the case, came to the conclusion that the only feasible plan of securing a good and sufficient supply of water for the institution was to filter and pump from Chartiers Creek. Acting on this idea, they secured all the information on the subject of filtering they could find access to, and adopted the plan now under contract. The contract was immediately advertised and let to the lowest bidders, Messrs. C. G. Dixon & Co., for the sum of $3700. Your committee also received proposals for a steam-pump, and adopted the 'Eclipse,' manufactured by H. D. McKnight & Co., of Pittsburgh. For furnishing which, together with boilers and necessary pipe to connect pump with main water line, contract was given to Messrs. H. D. McKnight & Co. for the sum of $1875 for pump and boilers complete, and eighty-two cents per foot for furnishing and laying necessary pipe to make connection with main."
The superintendent, in his report for 1878, said,--
"The important improvement for securing a permanent supply of pure water is well under way, also, and in the hands of the farm committee will doubtless be completed early in the coming month. It will include when finished a large basin heavily walled with stone, and filled to the depth of seven or eight feet with the most approved material for filtering purposes. It is built on the margins of Chartiers Creek, and supplied with valve inlets for the introduction of water as required. Much of the excavation necessary to secure a proper depth for this basin has been through beds of solid rock, and several fine springs have been opened, which will help to make the supply inexhaustible.
"In connection with this a receiving well is being sunk, having a capacity of fifteen hundred barrels, to be walled with brick, thoroughly grouted and cemented, and covered for protection from the weather with a substantial roof.
"A new 'Eclipse' pumping-engine, with a capacity of three hundred barrels per hour, together with double fine boilers, are ready for the foundations now in course of construction, which, with buildings for protection of same, now under contract, will complete all the necessary arrangements fo rthe purpose named.
"It may be well to state in this connection that, owing to important changes in the original plan of this improvement, made by your direction, the expense has been greater than at first estimated, even under the most economical management, and will therefore necessitate an application to our next Legislature for additional appropriations to cover the deficit. There can be no reasonable doubt that with the present expenditures the institution will secure a full and lasting supply of spring and filtered water, except perhaps for laundry purposes.
"Plans for an ice-house large enough to store some three hundred tons have been submitted by the building committee. This will be placed near the creek and adjacent to the pumping-engine, in order to secure a steam connection for hoisting apparatus over an incline extending to the creek margin.
"Plans also for a new depot building have been furnished by the architect, and are now under supervision by the building committee. This is expected to include, in addition to a public waiting-room for passengers and a freight-room, sufficient accommodations for residence of the station-agent, dining- and lunch-rooms, and several lodging-rooms for the use of persons visiting the institution. It is expected also that the post-office will be removed to this building when completed. For the purpose named a structure will be required exceeding in cost the appropriation already made from twelve to fifteen hundred dollars."
In his report for 1880 the superintendent mentioned the improvements made up to September 30th of that year, as follows:
"The greater portion of all labor has been done by inmates, the number of days of farm labor aggregating three thousand one hundred and eighty-six, and on improvements to grounds of the institution, seven thousand two hundred and sixty-seven days. During the summer a limestone quarry has been opened on the farm, for the purpose of securing stone for road ways; a crusher for breaking stone has been erected, and the roadways are being evenly covered with broken limestone; some four thousand feet of French drains have been dug at either side of main roadway and the sides laid with brick water tables; about two thousand yards of concrete pavement has been laid at rear of main building, and the passage-way between the main building and bakery graded, macadamized, and otherwise improved. The grounds about the main entrance have been graded and ornamented. Two additional green-houses, eighty by twelve feet each, have been erected for propagating bedding-plants and growing early vegetables, most of the material for which had formerly been in use for hot-beds.
"Much difficulty has heretofore been experienced in securing a sufficient quantity of ice from the small stream skirting the grounds of the institution, and during the present summer an ice-pond has been prepared, covering some two acres of ground, from which we hope to secure an abundant supply of ice; and the sheet of water will be quite an ornamental feature in the beauty of our lawns. In addition to the labor performed by inmates on the farm and grounds, we have five boys employed in the shoe-shop, who have during the year made 657 pairs of shoes, repaired 1135 pairs of shoes, repaired 25 sets of harness. Seven boys in the tailor-shop made 960 pairs of pants, 138 coats, 92 jackets, 38 vests, 20 curtains, 64 bed-ticks, 34 sheets, 40 pillow-slips, 60 napkins, 14 aprons, 70 towels, and repaired upwards of 402 pants and coats. Some twenty-five of the inmates are members of the brass band, which meets weekly for instruction and drill, under the direction of Prof. Arbogast, and perform in a very creditable manner.
"During the month of June a contract was entered into for the erection of workshops, thirty-six by seventy-two feet in dimensions and two stories high, with basement, and the building is now in process of completion, and will soon be ready for occupancy.
"At a meeting of the board held May 10, 1880, Col. G. A. Shallenberger resigned his position as superintendent. The resignation was accepted by the board, and Mr. J. A. Quay, the present incumbent, was unanimously chosen to fill the vacancy. We desire here to bear testimony to the untiring efforts of Col Shallenberger for the interests of the school; and as well to the like efforts on the part of Mr. Quay, who was somewhat suddenly called to so responsible a position, and to the aid and assistance afforded by Mr. C. H. Reid, his worthy assistant. Mrs. Van Meter, the matron of the female department, tendered her resignation, and Mrs. Beacon was chosen to succeed her. It has been cause for congratulation that we were able at once to fill these important offices with so efficient and reliable men and women. No doubt very much of our success is due to the energy and watchfulness of the other officers, who are perhaps the best fitted for their respective duties of any we have ever had."
Following is a list of the present (1882) officers of the institution, viz: Board of Managers--President, Thomas Wightman; Vice-President, James P. Barr; Secretary, A. F. Keating; Treasurer, J. J. Gillespie; James Allison, T. J. Bigham, Josiah Cohen, C. Troutman, James McCullough, Thomas McKennan, John N. Neel, R. P. Nelvin, R. S. Waring, Malcolm Hay, Joseph Woodwell, J. Weyand.
Resident officers: J. A. Quay, superintendent; T. B. Jackson, clerk; Alexander McMorrow, steward; J. W. Alexander, M.D., physician; Andrew Boland, chief engineer; J. P. Stewart, farmer; Mrs. E. H. Beacon, matron.
Crumrine, Boyd (ed.), History of Washington County, Pennsylvania, with Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men (Philadelphia: L. H. Everts & Company, 1882).