Tube City Almanac

April 19, 2007

To McKeesport, Via The Greensburg Bypass

Category: default || By jt3y

The Tribune-Review's connection to McKeesport pre-dates its planned purchase of the Daily News and even the launch of its Pittsburgh edition in 1993. In fact, the present-day Trib got its start in McKeesport.

Howzat, you say?

In 1877, a man named Lewis F. Armbrust started a paper in Turtle Creek called the People's Independent. Armbrust was born and raised in Adamsburg (just east of Irwin) and was a descendant of German immigrants and a prominent Westmoreland County family, the Gongawares.

In 1878, Armbrust moved his family and the newspaper to Greensburg, then sold the paper a few years later and moved to McKeesport.

In 1882, Armbrust opened two papers, the McKeesport Tribune and the McKeesport Herald, which he operated until 1890, at which time he moved back to Greensburg and merged his Tribune and Herald with the Independent to form the paper that eventually became the Greensburg Daily Tribune.

. . .

The historical record is a little fuzzy in places. One 1906 history of Westmoreland County indicates that the Greensburg Tribune and Herald were founded before 1870.

But a list of Greensburg newspapers compiled from records at the State Library in Harrisburg implies that the original Tribune and Herald were merged into the Greensburg Press and discontinued circa 1882. And the Library of Congress also records the date of origin of the present Tribune-Review as 1890, when Armbrust moved back to Greensburg. So it seems that the McKeesport Tribune is the direct ancestor of the present Tribune-Review.

The Tribune eventually merged with the Greensburg Morning Review in 1955.

. . .

Another McKeesport connection: The Tribune-Review eventually was purchased by descendants of Indiana County's prominent Mack family, whose most famous members (at least in the Mon-Yough area) might have been John Sephus Mack --- chairman and president of the G.C. Murphy Company until his death in 1940 --- and J. Gordon Mack, a well-known McKeesport attorney.

The editor and publisher of the Tribune-Review in the 1950s was David W. Mack, who was a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, earning the Air Medal for heroism in combat. His plane (a B-17 named Witches Tit, and I'm not making that up) was shot down over Germany in 1943, and he survived in a POW camp until being liberated in 1945.

Appointed publisher of the Trib in 1951, Mack became involved in a number of charitable and civic activities. Tragically, he died of a massive heart attack on Feb. 23, 1962, in the lobby of Greensburg City Hall (the old West Penn Railways trolley station) after attending a meeting there. Mack was only 46.

The Trib was sold by the Mack family in December 1969 to present publisher Richard Mellon Scaife. You could say, then, that by purchasing the Daily News, the Tribune-Review is returning to its historical roots.

And now (to coin a phrase) you know the rest of the story.

. . .

More Useless Information: Incidentally, other English-language McKeesport newspapers, according to the history book published in 1976 by the city's Bicentennial Committee, have included:

  • The McKeesport Standard, founded Dec. 16, 1854 by John Collins at the corner of Walnut Street and Church Alley. It was discontinued in 1861, and one suspects Mr. Collins quit the paper because he joined the Army.

  • The McKeesport Paragon, a weekly founded by John W. Pritchard on June 18, 1870.

  • Another weekly, the McKeesport Record was launched on April 30, 1880, by John B Scott.

  • The Daily Paragon and weekly Paragon Record, formed from a merger of Scott and Pritchard's papers, but they went out of business in April 1889. (The Daily News had begun operation in 1884, and I suspect the competition was too much for the Paragon.)

  • The McKeesport Times, which began as a weekly on Aug. 5, 1871, and went daily in 1876. Its early editors included Bartley Campbell, who had some success as a playwright in the late 19th century. Wikipedia reports that Campbell "was declared insane" and committed to a state mental institution in 1886. (You can write your own joke about "crazy journalists" there.)

  • And the Daily News, founded on July 1, 1884, as a "penny paper," which aimed to reach a wider market than more established papers by printing more news from the lower- and middle-classes. The Pittsburgh Press was another of the "penny papers."

The Daily News was sold in 1905 to J. Denny O'Neil, a prominent McKeesport Republican who later became county commissioner and chairman of the state highway department (O'Neil Boulevard is named for him). It was sold to Senator William D. Mansfield, William J. Cox and several business partners in 1925.

I believe there was also a shortlived Sunday-only McKeesport paper in the 1950s called the Sunday Record, but I've only seen one issue of it, and I have no information about its founding or how long it lasted. (Its slogan was "Let's Get It On The Record.")

. . .

Local News You May Have Missed: This is just awesome. The mayor of Washington, Pa., while chairing a hearing, wrote little disparaging comments next to the names of the speakers. Most of the speakers are African-American. Then he accidentally gave away his notes, with little marginal comments like "retarded" and "who cares," to the president of the NAACP.

Needless to say, comedy ensued. The kicker came when he denied writing the notes until the NAACP had the handwriting analyzed and, yep, it was his. Now, as expected, people are demanding his resignation.

And he had the gall to call the people speaking "retarded"? To quote a great American philosopher, Bugs Bunny (b. 1940): "What a maroon!"

Your Comments are Welcome!

To comment on any story at Tube City Almanac, email, send a tweet to, visit our Facebook page, or write to Tube City Almanac, P.O. Box 94, McKeesport, PA 15134.