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Josephine Furnaces:
Josephine Furnace
No. 1,

Josephine Furnace
No. 2

Village of Josephine (Bells Mills),
Burrell Township,
Indiana County,
Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Pennsylvania Iron Furnace Source Book
Indiana County Iron Furnaces

A Tribute to the Iron Masters and Iron Workers
that built and keep in-blast
the old Stone Blast Furnaces of Pennsylvania.

Raymond A. Washlaski, Historian, Archaeologist & Web Master,
Ryan P. Washlaski, Technical Advisor
Virtual Museum of Pennsylvania Iron Furnaces
A Publication of the 19th Century Society of Pennsylvania
Updated Mar. 29, 2002

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Josephine Furnace No. 1 & Josephine Furnace No. 2 and Iron Works, Located on Blacklick Creek, near the Village of Josephine (Bells Mills), Burrell Township, Indiana County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Josephine Furnace No. 1
Date Built: ca. 1905
Date Out-of-Blast: ca. 1926

Josephine Furnace No. 2
Date Built: ca.1908
Date Out-of-blast: ca.1926

Other names Josephine Furnaces were known by:
Josephine Furnace & Coke Company;
Corrigan, McKinney & Company;
McKinney Steel Company;
Republic Steel Company.

Burrell Township

Another significant factor in Burrell Township development was the location of Corrigan, Mckinney & Company on property in Bells Mill and Josephine. The entire village of Bells Mill was torn down and replaced with 165 new homes. Two blast furnaces were built in order to produce pig iron for shipment to the steel center of Pittsburgh. In order to induce the company to locate in the Josephine area, the Buffalo-Rochester and Pittsburgh railway offered concessions such as the building of tracks and trestles for use by Corrigan, Mckinney, and Company

The Company's decision to locate in Josephine was based on several factors including (1) the availability of extensive coal reserves, about 6,000 acres of which were owned by Corrigan, McKinney and Company; (2) water resource in Black Lick Creek and (3) ready transportation to markets through the Indiana Branch of the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad (which had a line extending south of Indiana to the Plant at Josephine) and the Pennsylvania Railroad. The Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad Company served the area almost solely for providing the necessary transportation for pig iron shipments to market.

With high production by Corrigan, Mckinney and Company along with Marshall Foundry and very active coal mining, the Black Lick-Josephine area experienced high employment and bustling industrial center. Trolley service was provided for travel between Indiana and Blairsville with stops in Black Lick and Josephine. The trolley line was still running as late as 1931 according to local citizens. With the closing down of Corrigan, McKinney and Company and the Marshall Foundry around 1926 unemployment began to produce major social problems for the area. With the coming of the great depression of the thirties and the gradual decrease of coal as a major source of power, the local economic situation became acute.

Josephine Iron Furnaces by Adam Smith

The following are historical articles from Indiana County, PA newspapers dealing with the Josephine Furnaces:

The spellings of McKinney vary below, but the paper was apparently incorrect in 1905. Corrigan, McKinney & Co. was quite well known in Cleveland and Michigan and there is little doubt the correct spelling has always been McKinney. However, the newspaper's articles are faithfully transcribed below. Likewise the variant spellings of Pittsburgh are included and all punctuation is faithful to the originals.   (Adam Smith, Knoxville, TN.)

The largest iron Furnaces ever erected in Indiana County, known as Josephine Furnaces, were operated by Corrigan, McKinney & Company.  In october 1902, James Corrigan, senior member of the Cleveland firm, came seeking a block of coal land contiguous to both the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburg Railway Company.  Within a month some 4,000 acres in Blacklick and Burrell Townships had been acquired.  At first the impression seemed to be that the objective was to manufacture coke and it was rumored a new town, "Corrigan," of 400 houses would be built along Tom's Run in Burrell Township.  Then in October 1905 came the headline in the Indiana County Gazette. (Stevenson,1989,II:206)


(From Indiana County Gazette, Oct. 4, 1905)

What will eventually prove to be one of the most important real estate deals ever consummated in Indiana County was closed on Saturday.

It will result in the erection at Bell's Mills of a million dollar blast furnace by Corrigan, McKinnie & Co., of Cleveland, the possible development of the large coal field the company owns in that section, and the re-establishment of traffic on the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburg Railway south of Indiana.

The deal was made possible though the joint effort of Corrigan, McKinnie & Co., and the officials of the railway company and involves, primarily, the acquisition through purchase of the entire village of Bell's Mills and a large area of coal lands in its immediate vicinity.

Corrigan, McKinnie & Co., own one of the largest ore beds in Michigan and carry on extensive trade over the Great Lakes. They have large blast furnaces at various points including Rochester, N. Y.; Cleveland, O., and Scottsdale in this state. The importance of the new industry which they propose to establish will be realized when it is stated that the city of Sandusky, O., offered them a bonus of $90,000 to secure the proposed plant for that city. Mr. Schoonmaker, an official of the Pittsburg & Erie railroad, offered them free ground and a bonus of $50,000 if they would locate the plant at East Pittsburg, where he is largely interested in real estate.

At a joint expenditure between the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburg railway and Corrigan, McKinnie & Co., of a sum closely approximating $40,000, the entire village of Bell's Mills, with the old Bell's Mills property, contiguous land amounting to between 50 and 60 acres, and the old Dalzell property of 100 acres have been secured as a site for the plant.

Corrigan, McKinnie & Co., will start to lay the foundations and lay out the plant for an up-to-date blast furnace at once, and expect to be ready to operate early next summer. The plant when completed will represent an expenditure of $1,000,000. It will employ at the start 350 men which number will be increased as the business develops.

As soon as possible they will build on some of the land, houses for their workmen, but the old mill and all the houses now lying between the creek and the B. R. & P. road will be removed and on this plot of from 20 to 25 acres the furnace and other buildings, sidings, and four steel trestles leading off from the B. R. &. P. will be built. The trestles are for the purpose of delivering ore, coal, coke, lime and the other materials necessary for the operation of a blast furnace.

The finished product will be taken out over the B. R. & P. railway and the P. R. R. It is estimated that the daily tonnage of the furnace will be about 17,000 tons, requiring from 50 to 60 railroad cars a day.
(Indiana County Gazette,1905:Oct. 4)

By March 1906 the old name, Bell's Mills, was changed to Josephine and the BR & P RR. was erecting a passenger station.  In September a story, "Busy Josephine Has A Bright Future," written after an Indiana Gazette reporter visited the site, told of the busting activity there..


From Indiana County Gazette, September 19, 1906

There is an encouraging confusion of sounds - tooting of whistles, crunching of stone crushers, tattooing of riveting machines, and hissing of escaping steam - down on the flat at the old Bell's Mill where are being built the new town of Josephine and the great industries which will give it life.

A visit to this place on Thursday [ Sept. 13, 1906 ] revealed that wonderful progress has been made towards the erection of the great iron plant. The Josephine Furnace & Coke Co., have $750,000 to spend this summer, and the superintendents, engineers and bosses are hustling as though they feared they wouldn't get it all spent.

"Winter is coming!" That seems to be the boogaboo cry everywhere at Josephine. Walter F. Arms, who has in charge of everything except the erection of the iron work, seems to be everywhere at the same time. No little detail is beneath his notice. When he isn't climbing over a wall, or examining a new well, or inspecting a new piece of concrete work, or following a ditch across lots, he's probably conferring with an engineer about the exact location of a new abutment, asking someone about a sick child and explaining the merits of the hot-water bag in case of cramps, or hiring men to go to work.

There are now at work at Josephine about 500 men, and about 80 of these are in the employ of P. J. McGovern, who has the contracts for the concrete work about the plant. Some of the heaviest concrete work in the country has been done here. McGovern has put in a boiler bed 124 feet long, 62 feet wide and nine feet deep, and is now constructing an engine bed 68x30x14 feet.

In addition he has built walls for 100 houses, piers for bridges, and a great amount of smaller work.

The iron work is well under way. Four great smelting furnaces are almost completed, the riveting being done by compressed air machinery. The boilers, which will soon be ready, will furnish steam of 3,000 horse power. Two wells have been drilled and from one of these is obtained water, which is already piped into each of the 100 new homes.

A 30-inch main is being constructed to carry water from Blacklick creek to the plant. A concrete dam will replace the old one now in the creek. Thus the plant will have a duplicate water supply. Some excavating has already been down for the complete system of sewers which will be put in.

The company store building, built of of brick and amply large to accommodate a large trade, is about ready for the roof. Headings are being driven under the hill south of town and already some coal is being shipped. A shaft is being sunk, and coal, which is of superior coking value, will be taken out near the proposed coke ovens.

On the flat between Josephine and Blacklick the company will build 1,000 coke ovens next year. When completed the iron plant will have a capacity double that at Punxsutawny and Dubois, while the coke and coal operation will be very large. Josephine promises to be one of the busiest places in the county, and a population of several thousand people will eventually be established there. (Indiana County Gazatte, 1906:Sept.19)

Walter F. Arms (son of C.T.Arms who produced the "1880 History of Indiana County")


From Indiana Progress, June 7, 1916

In 1905 Corrigan, McKinney & Company purchased the Bell's Mills property owned by Anna M. Guthrie, the Dalzell tract, and the entire village of Bell's Mills, consisting of eight dwellings, for $40,000. The old houses were torn down and 165 new ones were built. The company has built two blast furnaces for the manufacture of pig iron. Through the efforts of Mr. A. G. Yates, president of the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburg Railway Company, this new industry was bought to this county.

Corrigan, McKinney & Company were attracted to this county by the fact that a location was available in the Pittsburg districts, which is one of the chief markets for pig iron. Another reason is that they own a coal field of six thousand acres in Burrell township, extending from Bell's Mills to the Conemaugh river and from West Wheatfield township into Conemaugh township. The site is an excellent one, as pure water can be furnished from Blacklick creek at a small expense, and shipping facilities are afforded over both the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburg and Pennsylvania railroads. All the ore, coke and other material used in the process of manufacturing pig iron is shipped over the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburg railroad, but the product of the furnaces is distributed by both roads. The building was begun 1906 and on January 14, 1907, the first furnace, which cost $1,000,000 was started by the

Josephine Furnace and Coke Company. In 1907, when the coal was being operated and the construction work was being done, one thousand men were employed. In 1911 a second furnace was built and at present there are at least two hundred men employed, with a monthly payroll of $25,000. The output every twenty-four hours is 500 tons - furnaces running day and night. The plant at this place cost the company at least $2,000,000.

At first the company purchased 5,000 acres of coal with the expectation of making their own coke and with no thought of starting a furnace. After the furnace was started it became necessary to connect their coal field with the furnace property, consequently Mr. H. L. Taylor leased one thousand acres of coal that connected the two holdings. (Indiana Progress,1916:June 7)

The following is from a book referenced only as "Stephenson,1989, Vol II."

1918. Josephine Furnace Co. was dissolved January 1, 1918 and reorganized as McKinney Steel Co., W. G. Smith, superintendent. There were 230 employees, By 1925 the plant was idle "but the general opinion is that the new management will soon put the furnaces in operation." Two large blowing engines were being dismantled in early November 1925 to be taken to the main plant at Cleveland. "Quite a number of the old employees" were returning by the end of January 1926 and February 20 one of the furnaces was blown "with very satisfactory results." As will be seen in Chapter 5 this industry did not survive the Depression.

June, 1938. The iron furnaces at Josephine were to be razed in June 1936.

They had been inoperative since 1926 and three small peach trees were now growing on the decaying brick landing. The company town, know as "The Patch," comprised 149 houses, but only 35 were occupied. Nine residents were on relief and 25 men on WPA projects. Walter Ward, rental agent for McKinney Steel Co., gave tenants the first option to buy at "approximately $500 per house."  In November Hetz Construction Company., Niles, Ohio, was in process of demolishing the blast furnaces and expected to complete the job by January 1937. In August 1937 some 160 houses were sold by Republic Steel Co. to Nick Kovalchick of Sagamore at prices ranging from $300 to $600. The brick office building was included. (Stephenson,1989,v.2:n.p.)


From Republic Steel Archives.

Republic Steel began as the Republic Iron and Steel Company in Youngstown in 1899. In 1927, legendary Cleveland financier Cyrus Eaton began purchasing up Republic stock, as well as those in other companies, so that he could put together a new steel corporation that would rival US Steel, the largest steel corporation in America. Under Eaton, Republic added plants in Canton, Warren and Massillon, as well as smaller facilities in Cleveland, Elyria, and other cities. The Great Depression ended Eaton's dream, as well as erasing much of his wealth, but the new Republic Steel Corporation survived under the firm leadership of Tom Girdler, a former manager with Jones and Laughlin.

The new company continued to acquire other companies, and in 1935, acquired the Corrigan McKinney steelworks on the banks of the Cuyahoga River, which were built in the early 1910s. In 1936, the company's headquarters relocated to Cleveland, and the company (Republic) entrenched itself as the nation's Number Three steel maker, behind US Steel and Bethlehem Steel.

The Josephine Project
At left is a letter by Tom Crede stating the reason for starting a project to identify the houses and occupants of the town of Josephine, Burrell Township, Indiana Co., PA
(Courtesy of Adam Smith)

Millionaire's Row  Dubbed "Millionaire's Row," by the workers at the furnace.  This group of large residences was built ca.1906 by McKinney Steel Company, owner of Josephine Furnace and Coke Company, for the families of the foreman and supervisors of the Josephine Furnace.

Occupants of "Millionaire's Row:

House #501 - Dixon  House #509 - W. Ward
House #502 - Sudis - Girard  House #510 - Woods
House #503 - McFarland  House #511 - Smith
House #504 - Clapsaddle - Diltz  House #512 - Lewis
House #505 - Heimbaugh  House #513 -
House #506 - Kime  House 514 - Mauchs - Campbell
House #507 - Doutrich  House #515 - A. Stewart - W. Thompson - Rice Mangus
House #508 - Conchar - Neoistosis - Yanosch
                      Jonco (all Priests)
 House #516 - A. Stewart - J. Smith
Josephine Supply Company   The Josephine Supply Company was the company store operated by the Josephine Furnace and Coke Company.

St. John the Baptist Greek Catholic Church of Black Lick, ca.1906
St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church

Black Lick, PA - OCA - WP 785 Blaire Rd, Blairsville PA 15717


Directions & General Location

St John the Baptist Orthodox Church is located on Blaire Rd in Burrell Township, which is located between the borough of Blairsville and the Village of Black Lick. The Church and rectory are located on five acres of land approximately 1 1/2 miles north of the US 22/119 interchange in Indiana County.

From US 22

Take the Indiana exit (US 119N). After approximately 1 1/2 miles, the Vale Technical School Campus will appear on the right. A sign indicating St John's location can also be seen. Make the first right at the sign and then another right turn on to Blaire Rd. The Church is located 1/2 mile from this turn.

Parish Contact: Rev. David A Lis, Acting Rector,  e-mail:

Parish History

St John's was founded in 1906 as a Greek Catholic parish. A charter was granted to the initial organizers of the parish on July 1, 1908 and the church became officially known as St John the Baptist Greek Catholic Church of Black Lick. St. John the Baptist was chosen as the Patron Saint because the Feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist was the first feast day after the granting of the charter. After the granting of this charter, land was purchased on Seymore St. in Black Lick, where the temple was built. In 1909, Fr Arseny Gavula became the first assigned Rector of St John's.

In the early years of the church, the community was made up primarily of immigrants from Russian, Carpatho-Russian, Serbian, Syrian, Slovak, and Ukrainian descent. These people settled in towns such as Black Lick, Coral, Graceton, Homer City, Tearing Run, Heshbon, Wehrum, and Vintondale. Employment was found in the mines, at the Josephine Furnace and Coke plant, and the Marshall Foundry.

Along with many Uniate parishes in the early years of the 20th century, St John's became involved in the widespread movement towards a reunion with the Orthodox Church. The Black Lick parish was reunited with Orthodoxy in 1910 by Metropolitan Platon, who in the same year blessed the temple and received the faithful.

In 1918, the Rectory was built. Also in 1918, the Church Cemetary was established in Marshall Heights. The Church hall was built in 1949.

During the late 1950's and 1960's the economic climate of the area began to decline, as did the parish. In 1965, discussions concerning the building of a new Church began. In 1966 a major portion of the site for the new Church was purchased. A new building was becoming a necessity because of structural deficiencies in the old building, together with the drastic deterioration of the neighborhood surrounding the old parish complex. During the time period between 1966 and 1975, several options were reviewed in relation to the old Church building. The building of a new Church became more of a reality because of the spiritual renewal which had taken place in the 1970's, which was nurtured by an increase in the celebration of the divine services in their full cycle, which remains the foundation of the life of the parish to this day. In 1975 plans for a new Church were drawn. In 1976, a blessing was received from Bishop Theodosius of Pittsburgh approving the plans and permitting the first service at the new Church site. This service was a Molieben of Thanksgiving held on July 4, 1976, which marked the beginning of actual construction. Finally, in 1984, the new Temple was consecrated by Metropolitan Theodosius, Bishop Kyrill and Bishop Job.


Bibliographical Sources:  This section under construction.                                                    

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