Dr. Lincoln Oldshue
Prominent Physician

Brookline has had its share of prominent residents over the years. One of those was Dr. Lincoln Oldshue, a highly-esteemed practitioner of Eclectric Medicine, who owned a fifty acre tract of land roughly bordering present-day LaMarido Street, Metz Way, Eathan and Edgebook Avenues. This land was known at one time to kids in the area as The Big Woods.

The doctor established a highly-successful medical practice in downtown Pittsburgh, located at Grant Street and Webster Avenues. To add to his mystique, Dr. Lincoln Oldshue shared a common name with his first cousin, Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States of America.*

Abraham Lincoln, cousin of Brookline's Dr. Lincoln Oldshue.

Dr. Lincoln Oldshue was born in Indiana in 1820. An exeptional student, he studied medicine and received his diploma from the medical college in Rochester, NY. In 1841, he moved to Pittsburgh, where he set up a general practice using the most progressive medical techniques of the time.

He was known for watching closely and adopting the latest improvements and discoveries made by science. Soon he was one of the most esteemed physicians in the city of Pittsburgh. Although not inclined towards politics, Dr. Oldshue took a deep interest in public affairs.

* Source: Pittsburgh Press - August 19, 1903; Pittsburgh Daily Post - August 11, 1917.

Settled in Lower St. Clair Township

Dr. Oldshue was married in the mid-1840s and had two sons, Thomas Lincoln Oldshue and Louis Lincoln Oldshue. His wife passed away and he soon met and courted Mrs. Martha Ann West, daughter of Thomas West of Mifflin Township. The two were married in 1855 in Westmoreland County, then shortly after purchased a fifty acre plot of mostly-wooded land in rural Lower St. Clair Township, just south of Pittsburgh in present-day Brookline.

Lincoln and Martha Oldshue had eight children: John Alfred, John West, Mary A., Anna L., Martha A., Ida H. and Francis J., who lived in the Oldshue estate home, located near the present-day interection of Wolford and Metz Way, with the doctor’s older sons Thomas Lincoln and Louis Lincoln. The Oldshues were converts to Roman Catholicism and worshiped at St. Brigid’s Church on Enoch Street.

1890 Map showing location of Dr. Oldshue's office.
An 1890 map showing the location of Dr. Oldshue's downtown office.

In the 1860s, Dr. Oldshue set up his downtown at 534 Grant Boulevard, on the corner with Webster Avenue (presently the site of the BNY Mellon Tower). By the 1870s he had been joined by his sons Thomas, Louis, and John West, all medical school graduates. The doctors became experts in the practice of diagnosing acute or chronic diseases by the examination of urine.

The cost of physical exams and scientific testing at their office ranged from $3 to $10. Their practice was so well-known throughout the region that their office location at Grant and Webber became known as Oldshue Corner. Dr. Lincoln Oldshue was also the editor of the popular publication "Pittsburgh Medical News."

Dr. James Alfred Oldshue

Perhaps the most well-known of the Oldshue family of doctors was Lincoln’s son James Alfred Oldshue. Born in 1858, James Alfred graduated from St. Vincents College at age 18 and received a Master of Arts two years later. After further schooling he returned to Pittsburgh and joined the staff at the Mercy Hospital.

In 1883, Dr. J. A. Oldshue became the first police surgeon in the city of Pittsburgh. He instituted and trained the initial first-responders, making sure all policemen were trained in the administering of basic medical attention and that all squads carried a kit equipped with a number of life-saving instruments.

Known for his innovative techniques in the field of emergency medicine, James distinguished himself with his tireless and diligent life-saving work giving aid to the victims of the Willy Disaster and the Johnstown Flood.

The young Dr. Oldshue was also friend to the orphans, and paid daily visits to St. Paul's Orphan Asylum. When the scarlet fever epidemic raged among the children of Pittsburgh's Italian colony, he worked day and night, saving many lives. Sadly, Dr. James Alfred Oldshue died from complications of severe over-exhaustion on February 8, 1890.

The Oldshue Estate

The land owned by Dr. Oldshue sat atop the rich coal deposits of the Oak Mine. He soon sold mining rights and also leased a several of his wooded acres to the mining company for use as a supply, storage and logistics camp. A few outbuildings were constructed and stables for the mine mules. Roughly in the center of the Big Woods was an open field known as the "Donkey Field." Every day the donkeys that worked in the mines would be brought up for some fresh air and sunlight.

On March 13, 1886, Dr. Lincoln Oldshue, first cousin of former President Abraham Lincoln, prominent Pittsburgh physician and wealthy Brookline landowner, died at age sixty-six. Pneumonia was the immediate cause of death.

Dr. Oldshue’s will, dated July 3, 1877, decreed that his estate be left to Charles B. Kenny, in trust, the income to be paid to his widow Martha A. Oldshue for her maintenance and the education of the minor children. Upon Mrs. Oldshue’s death the property would be equally divided between children John W. Oldshue, Anna L. Owens, Martha A. Stillwagon, Ida H. Oldshue, James A. Oldshue and Frances J. Oldshue, and son Louis Lincoln Oldshue.

Mrs. Martha Ann Oldshue, widow of Dr. Lincoln Oldshue, died of old age on August 18, 1903 at the age of seventy-nine. At the time of her death she was survived by three daughters – Anna, wife of W. C. Stillwagon, a well-known Pittsburgh attorney; Mrs. C. E. Owens, Mrs. Frederick Robertshaw and one son, Dr. John West Oldshue, all of Pittsburgh.

The W. C. Stillwagon Plan

In February 1905, the Grant Street holdings of Dr. Oldshue’s estate were sold for $52,000. Then in March 1909, six years after Martha Oldshue’s death, the Brookline estate of Dr. Lincoln Oldshue, now measuring nearly 46 acres, was finally sold to W. C. and Anna Stillwagon. The Post-Gazette, on July 8, 1909, printed a short article noting that the Stillwagons had the land surveyed for development.

Blue prints of the Oldshue Farm adjoining Paul Place showed plans for over 200 large-sized lots, all fronting wide streets that conformed to the existing Brookline road network. These ambitious plans never materialized. It wasn’t until the 1950s that the homes in the W. C. Stillwagon Plan were built, including the homes along the Beaufort extension, Hartranft, Elmbank and Perrilynn Streets.

Property Boundaries of the Oldshue Estate (in Surveyors Terms)

Beginning at a pin 7 feet east of the east side of a butternut tree at the side of a lane leading to the Washington Road and on the line of John Paul’s land; thence south 84 degrees east 137.85 perches to a stone at the corner of the lands of John Paul and Wagner; thence south 8 3/4 degrees, east 8 8/10 perches to an ironwood tree; thence south 35 3/4 degrees west 40 1/2 perches across the Township Road to a pin; thence south 36 3/4 east 28 1/2 perches along Marloff’s line to a pin; thence south 64 degrees 85 min. west 21 perches along Marloff’s line to a post; thence north 48 degrees west along the line of Charles Allwes and Langford 55 perches to a pin; thence south 23 drgrees 25 min west along the Langford and Green’s line 31.07 perches to a pin on Joseph Hughey’s line; thence north 71 degrees 10 min. west along said Joselph Hughey’s line 30.60 perches to a pin; thence north 16 degrees 10 min. west along said Joseph Hughey’s line 67.82 perches to a pin at place of beginning. Containing 45 858-1000 acres, on which is erected a two story frame house, stable and outbuildings.

* Thanks to Doug and Mike Brendel for helping with this research. *

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