Biography of Jacob Black
Clarion County, PA Biographies





BLACK, JACOB, was born in the State of Maryland on the 25th day of January, A. D., 1809. He was the son of Frederick and Mary Black, who emigrated to this State early in this century, first to Waynesburg, in Green county, and a year or two afterwards to Beaver township, Venango (now Clarion) county, Pa. Jacob was the next to the oldest of a family of five children, four boys and one girl. When he was not over eight years old his father was killed by the falling of a tree. His maternal grandfather, William Rupert, was the owner of the land on which Shippenville Furnace was afterwards erected, and which on his death became the property of his favorite grandson, Jacob Black, who has resided on the property ever since.

In 1832 John Shippen, Richard Shippen, and Jacob Black formed a co-partnership for the purpose of manufacturing pig metal and iron, and in 1833 the Shippenville Furnace was built, metal made and hauled to the Clarion River above the turnpike bridge, and run to Pittsburgh in boats. Some years afterwards the other partners bought out John Shippen's interest, and the furnace was operated by Shippen & Black for many years. Jacob Black lived at the furnace, and was the active partner and manager. The firm built the forge a mile below on the creek, and made blooms and bar iron. A saw and grist-mill were erected, and a large number of hands found employment in cutting cord-wood, digging ore, burning charcoal (all the smelting was done with charcoal), hauling coal, ore, and metal, and operating the works. The "furnace" became the market for all kinds of produce. Farmers came there with grain and marketing from all over the county. Money was paid out for everything and circulated throughout the county, and the "works" became an important factor in developing and improving the neighborhood around. By able management and careful financiering, the firm successfully weathered the disastrous times of 1837, 1847, and 1857. The partners became large real estate owners. At one time they bought three thousand acres of timber land on the upper waters of Paint Creek.

Mr. Black was recognized as one of the most successful and able iron masters in the county, and the poor or unfortunate had no better friend than he. Many of his workmen became farmers and property owners through his assistance and liberality. Although in years of great depression the firm lost money, it was more than made up in prosperous times, and throughout the years the furnace was operated the partners accumulated a handsome competence. On the 18th day of July, 1833, Mr. Black was married to Margaret, the sister of his partner, Richard Shippen. The issue of the marriage was nine children, five of whom, three boys and two girls, are still living. In 1859 the furnace blowed out, and the partnership was dissolved. At that time the firm owned a large amount of land in Beaver, Elk, and adjoining townships, and it was agreed that Mr. Shippen should make a division of all the real estate owned by the firm, and Mr. Black was to have the choice of the two parts into which it was divided. In this way an amicable partition of the property was made, and deeds were executed to each for his purpart. The awkward result of Mr. Black's choice was that it left the house and property at the furnace, where Black lived, in Shippen's division, but a snbsequent trade again vested the homestead in Mr. Black, and he continues to live where he started in business almost sixty years ago. After retiring from the manufacture of metal he bought and sold real estate. The timber tract north of Shippenville, some fifteen hundred acres, was sold to Hahn, Metzgar & Wagner for about fifty thousand dollars.

When the First National Bank of Clarion was organized Mr. Black became a stockholder, has been an officer, and is now president of that institution.

When the oil excitement broke out in Clarion county he became an operator and producer in the vicinity of Edenburg and Shippenville, having wells drilled on his lands in several localities, and spending a considerable amount of money in developing new territory, and is still interested in that business. Being now in his seventy-ninth year, with impaired health, he has retired from active business, but still overseeing his private interests and discharging his duties as president of the bank.


From:
History of Clarion County, Pennsylvania
With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches
of some of its prominent pioneers.
EDITED BY: A. J. Davis
D. Mason & Co., Publishers
1887


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