All Sorts of Pittsburgers, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania, 1892

John Dravo Biography


HON. JOHN F. DRAVO, a prominent factor in the coal and coke interests of Pittsburg, was born at West Newton, Westmoreland County, October 29, 1819. He is the grandson of Anthony Dreveau, a florist, who came to this country as a follower of the Marquis De Lussiere in 1794, and became the pioneer horticulturist in Pittsburg. Michael Dravo, Anthony's eldest son, and the father of the subject of this sketch, is still living with his daughter, Mrs. J. D. Long,. at Oakland.

John Fleming Dravo was brought up in Allegheny County. He received his early education at the public schools, and studied at Allegheny College for two years, when failing health compelled him to abandon the course. He was about 17 years old when he came to Pittsburg, and was just entering manhood when he moved to McKeesport to engage in the business of mining and shipping coal, in which he acquired prominence and fortune. He planned and founded the town of Dravosburg, on the Monongahela River.

In 1868 he disposed of his extensive coal interests and engaged in the manufacture of coke, establishing large plants at Connellsville, and organizing the Pittsburg Gas, Coal and Coke Company, of which he became General Manager and Treasurer, and afterwards executive head. From 1860 till 1870 he was President of the Coal Exchange, and in 1884 he succeeded the late General J. K. Mooched as President of the Chamber of Commerce. He has labored. for years to secure the improvement of the Ohio and Monongahela Rivers.

Captain Dravo's early political efforts were made in the Abolitionist cause. He was one of the organizers of the first Republican Convention, which met at Lafayette Hall, Pittsburg, February 22, 1854, and when the party took the field in 1856 he became one of its leaders. He possesses splendid oratorical powers, and has delivered many notable speeches on finance and the tariff. Two addresses delivered by him on the death of Grant are among the classics of latter-day oratory. In 1886 Captain Dravo was induced to go to the Legislature from Beaver County. It was he that introduced the famous prohibition amendment, and he also had the distinction of nominating M. S. Quay for the U. S. Senate.

President Garfield appointed Captain Dravo Collector of the Port in 1881, and he filled the position with fidelity until after Cleveland's election. President Harrison appointed him to the same office in deference to public opinion in western Pennsylvania.

Captain Dravo is a director and stockholder in many corporations of prominence. He is also a Trustee of Allegheny College, Meadville, and President of Beaver Female College.

He was married in 1842 to Eliza Jane Clark, and has completed, accordingly, a round half century of wedded life. Ten children were born to him, of whom five are living.

Source: All Sorts of Pittsburgers Sketched in Prose and Verse; Burgoyne, Arthur; Pittsburg, PA; The Leader; 1892.
Note: The correct spelling of Pittsburgh in 1892 was Pittsburg. The spelling Pittsburgh was officially restored in 1911.

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