Joseph Hughey and the Hughey Farm
Brookline Pioneer

The homes of Joseph and George Hughey.
The homes of Joseph and George Hughey stand atop the bluff along West Liberty Avenue in 1915. Across the
road is the Horseshoeing and Wagon Building business of George Kerr, who was trained by Joseph Hughey.

The Hughey Farm was a 102-acre spread in the heart of the West Liberty section of Brookline. In 1825, he Hughey family moved from Turtle Creek to this section of "Mount Lebanon," then mostly a farming settlement in Lower St. Clair Township. Not much is known about the original Mr. and Mrs. Hughey, but when they resettled they brought along their sons Ephraim (born 1818, age 7), William (born 1820, age 5) and Joseph (born May 10, 1823, age 2), and their daughter Dorcus (born 1820, age 5).

The Hughey's built their home in the relative center of their property, on a plot of land that today resides along Gallion and Berwin Avenues, at the bottom of Wedgemere. The family continued to grow, with the addition of Willison (born 1826), Ann (born 1827) and George (born April 30, 1831). As the children grew, the boys learned the skills of farming their fertile land while the girls tended to the home, prepared meals and became skilled seamstresses.

The Hughey Farm bordered land owned and farmed by several other notable 19th century local residents like the Richard Knowlson, David Hunter, Elizabeth Paul, Philip Fisher and Dr. Lincoln Oldshue. This part of Lower St. Clair Township, later West Liberty Borough, provided plenty of fresh fruit and produce for the many markets in Pittsburgh.

1882 map showing Hughey property.
An 1882 map showing the Hughey property stretching east to west from West Liberty Avenue to Edgebrook Avenue.

As Joseph H. Hughey grew older, he wanted to do something other than farming. He studied to become a blacksmith and wagon maker. In 1847, at age 24, he took an apprenticeship with a neighbor at a wagon shop in Birmingham Borough. Standing 5' 6" tall and known as a dapper dresser, Joseph was soon ready to start his own wagon building business.

Joseph purchased five acres of land in the eastern section of the farm and built a home overlooking Wenzell Avenue and West Liberty Avenue. He also established a blacksmith and wagon shop along the main road, where he worked at his craft for the next half century.

Having a keen eye for real estate, Joseph spent the next several years acquiring property both locally and around the region. One example of this was a 68-acre slice of property in Penn Township that was sold by his estate in 1922 to David Kerr. The land was along Thompson Run Creek and stood adjacent to the Carnegie Steel Works.

2019 map showing the
boundaries of the Hughey property.
The boundaries of the 102 acre Hughey Farm traced on a modern map of Brookline.

Joseph married Mary Jane McDonough on October 28, 1852. The couple had three children Charles H. (born 1857), Harry J. and George (born January 19, 1868). The children grew up working on the family farm. Charles eventually moved to San Francisco while Harry and George remained at their parents home along the bluff at 2507 West Liberty Avenue.

Joseph and Mary were members of the St. Clair (Mt. Lebanon) United Presbyterian Church for sixty years. Joseph was known as a very charitable man and an enthusiastic citizen of West Liberty Borough, helping to fund or contribute otherwise with nearly all of the plans and suggestions offered for the betterment and improvement of the community.

Beginning in 1900, Joseph took his five acres of land, and a few more that he acquired from the family on the eastern side of Pioneer Avenue (then Lang Avenue), and plotted out a residential lot plan. Beginning in 1902 he successfully sold the lots in the Hughey Farm Plan, joining the Fleming Place, King Place and Paul Place Plans as the first developments in what was soon to become Brookline.

The homes of Joseph and George Hughey.
The homes of Joseph Hughey (left) and George Hughey above West Liberty Avenue, shown here in 1922.

Joseph retained one acre of property along the West Liberty Avenue bluff on which stood his original home and a newer home built next door by his son George, now a successful Real Estate Broker, at 2525 West Liberty Avenue.

After selling off the lots in the Hughey Farm Plan, Joseph Hughey retired. He spent his final six years relaxing at home and occasionally working with George Kerr, his neighbor across West Liberty Avenue, at the Kerr Practical Horseshoeing and Wagon Building Shop. Kerr was Joseph's apprentice and then partner for many years who set up his own shop around 1900.

Kerr's Practical Horseshoeing
and Wagon Building in 1912.
Kerr's Practical Horshoeing and Wagon Building on West Liberty Avenue at Wenzell, shown here in 1912.

Joseph Hughey got sick in early 1908, and passed away at the home of his son George on April 23, 1908, at the age of 85. His wife Mary Jane continued to live at the original home at 2507 West Liberty until her passing on June 5, 1922. The original home stood for several more years until the lot was sold to an auto dealership, the hillside cut back and the home razed.

As for the home at 2525 West Liberty Avenue, Joseph's son George continued to live there with his wife Louisa and their daughter Mary Louise and eventually her husband Russell Warner. Russell and Louise Warner had one daughter, Louise.

The George Hughey home in 2019.
The home of George Hughey, above West Liberty Avenue, shown here in November 2019.

George, a real estate broker, was very active in community and regional activities. He was a member of the South Hills Tunnel Association, responsible for the creation of the Liberty Tunnels, and also a founding member of the Brookline Board of Trade. George passed away on November 25, 1937, and his wife Louisa followed on March 10, 1945. Their daughter Mary Louise had moved to her husband's hometown Aliquippa prior to 1940.

George's home was eventually sold outside of the Hughey family. Now listed as the home at 2524 Woodward Avenue, the 130 year-old home still stands atop the bluff along West Liberty Avenue above the Brookline Junction.

As for the rest of the original Hughey family, as best we could find, all of the Hughey children, except Joseph, made their home at the central Hughey estate, along with a second home built next door among the many out buildings.

Location of Hughey Homes in 1910.
1910 map showing the locations of the Hughey estate buildings along Gallion Avenue.
Note the old West Liberty Borough street names.

In March, 1905, Willison Hughey negotiated the sale of the remaining family farmland (with the exception of the 320' by 300' square plot of land at the foot of Wedgemere Avenue that contained the Hughey estate) to the West Liberty Improvement Company. That purchase included nine other farms totalling 500 acres and is considered the "Birth of Brookline."

George W. Hughey died on July 15, 1896. William Hughey died in March 1904. Willison Hughey passed away on September 1, 1906. Dorcus Hughey passed on February 1, 1909. No information was found on the passing of Ephraim or Ann Hughey. Ephraim, William, Dorcus, Willison and Ann all spent their lives at the family homestead along Gallion Avenue.

The Hughey Farm Plan Housing
Development as it looked in 1913.
The Hughey Farm Plan subdivision as it looked in 1913 from Wenzell Avenue in Beechview.
Several homes stand on the lots plotted out by Joseph Hughey in 1900.

In 1906, Joseph Hughey had acquired rights to the remaining Hughey property from the estate of his brother Willison. That remaining square plot was sold on June 6, 1910 to John Price for $6750. A year later, in September 1911, George Hughey bought a large portion of that land back for the same price.

Sometime prior 1923, the century old Hughey homes and out buildings were torn down and individual lots sold off for development, leaving only the former George Hughey home at 2524 Woodward Avenue as a reminder of one of Brookline’s pioneer families. An interesting footnote is that during the 1800s and up to 1908, Edgebrook Avenue was known as either the Township Road, or Hughey Road.

The former Ephraim Hughey property in 1925.
The location of the original Hughey home at the bottom of Wedgemere Avenue along Gallion Avenue. When
the farm was sold for development in 1905, the family kept a plot approximately 320' by 300' bordering
Gallion Avenue and Berwin Avenue. This land was sold in 1910 and developed in the early-1920's.

* Written by Clint Burton - November 14, 2019 *

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