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The Old Timers Club of Old Economy Village, Ambridge, Pa.


It has been way too long since I have posted an essay.  This summer proved trying farming as well as personal dealings.  I only had a little time to research in the growing season, and I’ve not made a field trip for quite a while.  But this Fall I caught up with the farm work, and I pulled out some lists about the hired workers at Old Economy, and Ambridge, Pa, the town that followed on the old community’s farm lands.

I was interested in the other workers and their families who worked with my Flueckiger, Schmatz, Jenny, Bauman,  Gross, and Veiock kin, who all worked for the Economites.  These communal Germans, mostly from Wurtemburg, had been told by the leader Father Rapp, that the wold was soon ending in 1847, and they should be celibate to prepare for this event.

But the End of the World never happened, and by 1880 the original settlers and their pre-1847 children were too aged to do much physical labor, but they did have a lot of assets, and they began to hire German and Swiss workers, mostly from Old Allegheny City, which is now part of the Northside of Pittsburg(h).  My family was hired this way in the mid 1870’s, and remained as farmers until the community closed in 1906, when all the lands were sold to American Bridge Company.  That is how my family the Dunns (my grandfather Tom Dunn married Bertha Flueckiger) came to Ambridge.

I was born in 1949 and my family and step-family were all employed by the Bridge Works.  They and other descendants of the OEV workers in the 1930’s formed the Old Timers Club, and held yearly festivals.  So, I have decided to learn what I can about this club, and have been amazed at how many of these Germans and Swiss lived along Sewickley Creek and the small towns that sprang up at the outlying sites of OEV’s farms and factories: Fair Oaks (Leet township), Leetsdale, Baden, Beaver Falls,Sewickley, plus Harmony and Economy townships.

I have so far had success in following the lives of these worker families in the Ambridge area: Hettinger, Steebner, Kuemmerly, and Beesong.  I’ve also learned about their neighbors and fellow workers at the Bridge Works.  I have another dozen of these families to study, and will posts my results weekly.

My collaborator has a lot of information about the Breitenstine family, and she tells their history nicely; all I know is that they were neighbors and co-workers with my Dunn family.      Stay tuned!

Thom Dunn marti

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