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Pittsburgh, PA 15201-0015

First in Lawrenceville

Below are a number of firsts associated with Lawrenceville people and companies.

Stephen Foster, who was born and is buried in Lawrenceville was the first American to earn his sole living as a composer. He is also the first known musical composer to refer to an African-American woman as “a lady.” Also, he was the first to portray an African-American marriage in the same way as a white American marriage. He did so in his song “Nellie Was a Lady.”

Bartley Campbell, who is buried in Lawrenceville’s St. Mary’s Cemetery, was America’s first full time playwright.

Fritzie Zivic was the first Croat-American to win a world boxing championship. He became the World Welterweight Champion on October 4, 1940.

Johnny Miljus was the first Serbian-American to play professional baseball. He was also the first ball player to be drafted during WWI.

Harry E. Sheldon, who grew up in the Presbyterian Home Orphanage in Lawrenceville, was the first American to manufacture stainless steel.

Commercial Press on Butler Street is believed to be the first company to make “calendar pals”.

Sister Sean of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Store lays claim to making the first “Steeler Rosary” complete with black and gold prayer beads while the store was located in Lawrenceville in 1996. Sister Sean tells us that the rosaries have made it to all parts of the world including the North Pole.

Lawrenceville’s H. K. Porter Company first developed compressed air locomotive in 1890. They also developed the first fireless steam locomotive in 1915.

In 1963 Pittsburgh Brewing became the first company to use pull tab cans. In 2004 Pittsburgh Brewing Company became the first national brand to sell their beer in aluminum bottles. They were also the first company to use twist off reusable caps.

The “Lawrenceville Test”, which was conducted in October 1886, was the first successful large scale, long distance test using AC electricity.

Samuel Kier, who owned the first oil refinery, is buried in Lawrenceville’s Allegheny Cemetery.

Thomas Enright, was one of the first three, and may have been the first U. S. soldier killed in combat during WWI. He is buried in Lawrenceville’s St. Mary’s Cemetery.

Lawrenceville native, Jude Wudarczyk was the first person to record the rules of three card games, Owcy Glowa (Polish Sheep’s Head), Four Colors (an game from Southeast Asia), and Three Chrysanthemums (also from Southeast Asia) into the English language.