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Johnson Bronze Company - New Castle PA

The American Car & Ship Hardware Manufacturing Company, which made metal alloy (brass and bronze) fittings for trains, trolleys, and ships, was organized by the wealthy limestone baron George W. Johnson in New Castle, Pennsylvania, in 1901. The one-room factory had fifty employees and was located south of Croton Avenue on South Mill Street – at the intersection with Mechanic Street. In 1912 a rising executive with the company named Patrick “P. J.” Flaherty returned from a business trip to Muncie, Indiana, with an idea to mass produce parts primarily for the automobile industry. When he returned home the company soon switched its production line and began making bronze bushings and bearings for automobiles, aircraft, ships, and other machines. The firm was guided by George W. Johnson’s son Charles H. Johnson, who served as President until his untimely death in late 1918. The elderly George W. Johnson took over as President until he passed away in October 1919.

In January 1916 the company changed its name to the Johnson Bronze Company to better reflect its new mission. During 1916-1917 the company underwent a major expansion of its facilities along South Mill Street. This effort was just in time as during the Great War (World War I) the plant manufactured various bronze fittings for the U. S. military. In early 1918, with dozens of its skilled male employees serving off to war, the company began hiring woman to work in its machine shops. At the time the Johnson Bronze Company, under general manager (and soon-to-be President) P. J. Flaherty, had 500 employees and was one of New Castle’s biggest manufacturers.

Success continued during the postwar period as the company underwent major expansion efforts throughout the 1920’s. An editorial in the New Castle News of May 10, 1929, had this to say, “Every time I go down around the Johnson Bronze Company it seems as though they have added a new building. No sooner is one building completed than there is another one springing up, like mushrooms.”

It was also in January 1928 that P. J. Flaherty, who had been running the profitable company for over a decade, acquired a controlling interest and became the principal owner of Johnson Bronze. The enterprising Flaherty was born in Ireland in 1879, came to Massachusetts as a young boy, later made his way to Pittsburgh, found employment with the Pennsylvania Railroad Company (PRR), and joined Johnson Bronze as an accountant in c1909. Buoyed by a strong work ethic Flaherty went on became one of New Castle’s most influential industrialists, served on the board of directors for several local corporations, and supported various humanitarian causes throughout the city.

Flaherty expertly guided the company through the tough times of the Great Depression and into the 1940’s, when once again the company began manufacturing products to support the massive military effort during World War II. During 1944 two ironworks plants in Somerville, New Jersey, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, which Flaherty had previous involvement, came under official control of Johnson Bronze. Flaherty also reduced his role with the company, stepping down as President and becoming Chairman of the Board of Trustees. He was succeeded as President by the oldest of his three sons, J. Preston Flaherty. Within a few years the company lost its longtime patriarch as the elderly P. J. Flaherty passed away at the age of seventy in February 1948. One of his last endeavors was to see the June 1947 dedication of P. J. Flaherty Field, a baseball field complex built on a 45-acre lot of property donated to the city by Johnson Bronze.

By the late 1940’s the company had about thirty warehouses/sales offices throughout the country with over 1,500 total employees. In early 1951 the company expanded in New Castle once again by purchasing an old machine shop facility (two buildings on six acres) along Mahoning Avenue in Mahoningtown, where a new process for making machined bronze bars got underway in January 1952. In May 1955 J. Preston Flaherty ascended to the position of Chairman of the Board and his younger brother Edward M. Flaherty, a highly educated lawyer and longtime executive with the company, took over as President. Another brother named Joseph F. Flaherty was also representing Johnson Bronze out of its office in Detroit, Michigan – where he had direct liaison with the automobile industry.

The company continued to thrive and opened a modern Research Lab on South Mill Street in early 1959 and established a subsidiary in Salem, Indiana, known as Ferraloy Corporation in 1960. They also opened two international subsidiaries in South America known as Johnson Bronze de Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Sintermetal S. A. in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and had an interest in Nagato Metals in Tokyo, Japan.

An article in the New Castle News of January 26, 1965, best describes the company’s product line, “The Johnson Bronze Co. prides itself on being able to a make a bearing for any moving part. In fact, there is no other single sleeve bearing manufacturer in the entire world which manufactures as complete a line of sleeve bearings, bushings and bearing materials as does Johnson Bronze.” The outfit sold fittings to an endless list of major players such as the Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Chrysler Corporation, Mack Trucks, John Deere, Caterpillar Tractor, International Harvester, General Electric, and the Westinghouse Electric.

In the late 1960’s the company, which had experienced significant growth throughout its existence, began facing some internal and economic difficulties. The employees went out on strike in September 1967, but returned to work seven weeks later with better pay and increased benefits. In January 1968 the Chairman of the Board, J. Preston Flaherty, passed away at the age of sixty-three. In September 1968, after decades of Flaherty family ownership, the Johnson Bronze Company and its associated firms were sold to Waltham Precision Instruments Inc. of Massachusetts. Charles H. Schubert was brought in from Connecticut to serve as the new President. Edward Flaherty stayed on as the new Chairman of the Board until stepping down two years later. Unfortunately, he also passed away at the young age of sixty in June 1972. All the goodwill that the Flaherty family had built up with in the preceding years would be lost in the coming two decades.

Johnson Bronze, with over 500 employees in New Castle, continued in operation under new ownership but faced increasingly problematic labor issues during the 1970’s. Another strike commenced in September 1976 and shut down production for over four months. The company began threatening to close the plant and announced in September 1977 – the same month that Youngstown Sheet & Tube abruptly shut down in nearby Ohio – that it would be relocating some of its local operations to a newly acquired site in Summerville, South Carolina. The move began in April 1978 and cost 150 employees in New Castle their jobs.

In August 1980 the Johnson Bronze Company filed for federal bankruptcy protection. The company shuttered its New Castle and South Carolina plants in January 1981 and the remaining 300 or so employees in New Castle were laid off. Johnson Bronze’s proud history as an industrial giant in New Castle came to an end after eighty years.

In late October 1981 a four-day auction was held to sell off the contents of the plant. The 13.87-acre property, a few of which were previously owned by CSX railroad, was soon put up for sale. In January 1982 the federal bankruptcy court accepted the bid of $300,000 from Robert A. Frank. Frank soon transferred ownership to the Bertin Realty Company, owned by himself and Bernard W. D’Ambrosi. Before too long the city took measures to seize and sale the property due to unpaid taxes from 1980 and 1981. An agreement was later worked out as the owners promised to pay the back taxes. Meanwhile, the Shenango Valley School of Business began renting – and holding classes in – the main office building of Johnson Bronze along South Mill Street.

In addition to the tax battle a host of city, county, and state officials, alarmed by possible toxic contamination at the site, began pushing for federal inspections. A nasty legal battle ensued as city officials, the owners of the property, and former officials of Johnson Bronze fought to establish who was responsible for the cleanup. In March 1985 the city finally seized the property due to the unpaid taxes. In lieu of attempting to sale the property it was put into a trust for the time being.

Finally, in late August 1985, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted an inspection of the site and determined it to be of concern. An internal EPA document revealed, “An emergency assessment by EPA reveals the presence of extremely incompatible hazardous wasted stored in close proximity to one another and whose containers were in a state of deterioration; inadequate site security; and vandalism as evidenced by smashed lab jars with their containers mixed.”

An 8.3-acre portion of the Johnson Bronze site was soon designated for “Superfund” status, a federal program – officially known as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) – designed to clean up locations severely contaminated with hazardous substances. However, the site was given low priority and due to a lack of funding the cleanup was placed on hold. Meanwhile, the issue of groundwater and soil pollution also became a hot topic. It wasn’t until September 1989 that the U.S. EPA allocated $979,820 for the cleanup of the Johnson Bronze site. These funds were strictly designated for “above-ground toxic material” only, and not to be utilized for cleanup of the soil (groundwater) contaminants or the demolition of the buildings. The cleanup began on September 19, 1989, and progressed slowly and stretched into the summer of 1990.

In March 1990 the city officially purchased the property from the trust for $2,002 and began efforts to transform it into an industrial park. On June 14, 1990, Pennsylvania Governor Robert P. Casey held a brief press conference at the site and presented city officials with a check for $760,000 to commence with the demolition of the buildings. The New Castle News of June 15, 1990, reported that Casey said, “Beginning today, we can stop talking about the Johnson Bronze site in the past tense – instead we can talk about the opportunities for economic growth that this site provides.”

In September 1990, once the EPA cleanup was completed, the city began accepting bids for the demolition of the buildings. Beaver Valley Demolition of Aliquippa was awarded the contract and was eventually paid about $293,000. The demolition commenced in November 1990 and took about five months. The only building left intact was the main office building, which was still occupied by the Shenango Valley School of Business.

In the early 1990’s the city attempted to attract several possible tenants for its proposed industrial park, but it was difficult while efforts continued regarding the cleanup of the soil. The officials of the Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc., who eventually opened a Walmart Superstore in Union Township in December 1995, were even approached about acquiring the property. Meanwhile, in late 1994, the removal of four 4,000-gallon underground storage tanks, each half-filled with contaminants and harmless sediment, was undertaken. In the summer of 1994 the Shenango Valley School of Business vacated the old office building and it was subsequently torn down.

The cleanup of the contaminated soil was finally funded and authorized in early 1995. The New Castle News of March 30, 1995, reported, “Decontamination of the former Johnson Bronze site is expected to take less than three months, and a city development official is optimistic that the property then will be ready to meet new industrial prospects… The operation involves removal, stabilization and disposal of soils containing elevated levels of lead and polychlorinated biphenyls, and backfilling and grading of the excavated areas. Groundwater contaminated with volatile organic compounds will be treated… The contracted company, Autumn Technical Services of Warren, Ohio, began soil sampling March 13. The work is being done in 20-foot intervals and involves removal of soil to a maximum depth of five feet. The potentially contaminated soil on the property will be stabilized with lime and then will be taken to the Browning-Ferris Industries Inc. landfill in Poland Township, Ohio, for disposal.”

By the end of 1995 various state and federal environmental officials deemed the former Johnson Bronze property ready for redevelopment. During a press conference held on May 21, 1996, Mayor Tom Fulkerson announced the site was being renamed as the New Castle Commerce Park. The next day’s edition of the New Castle News quoted Fulkerson with, “That area has been a problem for the city for so long that mention of the name conjures up nightmares. We are about to take the old site and bring in new investors, new businesses and new jobs… We feel that a new name would eliminate the stigma associated with the place.” During the summer of 1996 the city spent almost $105,000 to have tons of fill dirt dumped at the site.

Businesses slowly gravitated to the improved site. D’Vron Ceramics Studio was one of the first companies to build at the site beginning in the fall of 1997. In the coming years additional companies opened facilities in the New Castle Commerce Park, including Rocca’s Italian Foods, Linton Industries, Richardson Cooling Packages, Huston Group, and Castle Maintenance Products. The main building of the smaller Johnson Bronze facility along Mahoning Avenue, which sits at the end of McKinley Street, is still standing today. Johnson Bronze’s one-time parent company reorganized and is still in business in Ozark, Alabama, as the Waltham Aircraft Clock Company.


To read about the company adopting the name Johnson Bronze in 1916 click on: NAME OF CONCERN IS CHANGED ARTICLE. To read about the expansion effort began in 1916 click on: EXPANSION ARTICLES. To learn more about the plant employing women in its skilled positions beginning in 1918 click on: TO EMPLOY WOMEN IN PLANT HERE ARTICLE. To read about the woman employees of the company marching in a Red Cross parade in May 1918 click on: JOHNSON BRONZE GIRLS COLLECT $26 ARTICLE. To read two articles about another expansion began in 1920 click on: NEW EXPANSION ARTICLES. Accidents involving employees at Johnson Bronze seemed less frequent then at other local plants. To read about a heroic effort to stop a potentially major fire at the plant in early 1923 click on: FLEMING PREVENTS DISASTROUS FIRE ARTICLE.


The American Car & Ship Hardware Manufacturing Company, which made brass and bronze fittings for trains, trolleys, and ships, was organized by industrialist George W. Johnson in New Castle, Pennsylvania, in 1901. It started with fifty employees working out of this one-room factory on South Mill Street. Full Size


The wealthy George W. Johnson, who made a fortune in the limestone industry, founded what later became Johnson Bronze in 1901. (c1900)


Charles H. Johnson, the son of George Johnson, served as President of the company until his untimely death in late 1918. He was married to Grace Phillips Johnson, the daughter of oil baron T. W. Phillips. (c1905)


After George Johnson passed away in late 1919 a young executive named P. J. Flaherty took over management of the company. He eventually acquired ownership and guided the firm into prosperity. (c1919)


A view of the American Car & Ship Hardware Manufacturing Company, founded by limestone magnate George W. Johnson in 1901. (c1910) Full Size



The caption for this photo reads, “It is in the foundry that the various blends of alloyed metal take shape in the form of castings.” (c1912) Full Size


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The machine shop of the American Car & Ship Hardware Manufacturing Company. (c1912) Full Size


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The tool and pattern making department. The caption for this photo reads, “Pattern making is, of course, one of the first steps toward the right sort of castings, for if the patterns are not right the castings cannot be. We manufacture everything we sell.” (c1912)


The polishing room, where metal products are polished often in preparation for plating. (c1912)


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The plating room of the American Car & Ship Hardware Manufacturing Company. On page 22 of a 1913 company catalog I have it reads, “The sole thought in this organization is to give satisfaction, and it is being lived up to throughout the plant.” (c1912)Full Size


An overhead view of the Johnson Bronze facilities in New Castle in 1937. Full Size


The Johnson Bronze Company, renamed as such in 1916, was founded as the one-room American Car & Ship Hardware Manufacturing Company back in 1901. The main plant, located along South Mill Street, grew considerably over the years. The inset photo shows the smaller facility established along Mahoning Avenue/McKinley Street in early 1951. Full Size


Another map showing the various buildings of the Johnson Bronze Company along South Mill Street in New Castle. (1937) (Photo courtesy of Mitch Tannehill) Full Size


A float of the Johnson Bronze Company takes part in a parade in New Castle. (c1950) (Photo courtesy of Mitch Tannehill) Full Size


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A new wing completed to the building that made bearings for the automobile industry. When completed it added 75,000 square feet of work space. (1948) Full Size


This building was occupied by the Brass Shop, company hospital, and general offices. (1946) Full Size


Company patriarch and Chairman of the Board P. J. Flaherty breaks ground for a new office building, shown completed in the next photo, along South Mill Street. Flaherty, who joined the firm back in c1909, was the guiding force of Johnson Bronze for almost forty years until his death in 1948. (1944) Full Size


A photo of the completed office building along South Mill Street that housed various administrative offices of the company. (1946) Full Size


J. P. Flaherty succeeded his father and served as President from 1944-1955 and Chairman of the Board from 1955-1968. (1948)


Company President J. P. Flaherty talks to the company’s 1,200 employees in New Castle about plans for expansion – and stresses the need to support the U.S. military effort. (Jan 1951)


Lilyan Flaherty, wife of J. P. Flaherty, visits Mrs. Perriera and her son Ronnie at the luxurious Hotel Nacional in Havana, Cuba. Mrs. Perriera represented Johnson Bronze interests in Cuba. (1950)


Beginning in early November 1948 two representatives of the Glacier Metals Company of England, Fred Maer and William Anderson, undertook a ten-week visit of the Johnson Bronze facilities in New Castle to study production methods. Prior to returning home in mid-January 1949 the two men enjoyed a luncheon (shown above) at the Castleton Hotel with all the top executives of Johnson Bronze. (1949) Full Size


Oscar “Bud” Russler, who started back in 1902, served with the company for forty-seven years before retiring in March 1949. Russler was a well-known supervisor and was very involved in the sporting events hosted by the company. (1948)


Longtime supervisor Fred “Pop” Brundert Sr., with Nick Ross on right, retired from the company in April 1951 after thirty-nine years of service. He headed up the Pattern Shop for most of that time. (1949)


Herman Beulek, a longtime foreman in the Core Room, retired from Johnson Bronze after forty-three years of service in September 1950. (1949)


The plastic globe that graced the lobby of the main office building in New Castle. (1951) Full Size


A new foundry under construction at the new JB location on Mahoning Avenue in New Castle. (1951) Full Size


Longtime Johnson Bronze truck driver Burley R. Brown. (1951)Full Size


The new $500,000 Research Laboratory opened on South Mill Street in early 1959. It was modern facilities like this that helped make the company a world renowned leader in the production of bronze sleeve bearings and bushings. The company reportedly made sales in over sixty countries around the world. (c1965) Full Size


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The Johnson Bronze Company always seemed to be expanding and was constantly adding new facilities, such as the Oakland, California, subsidiary shown above. Nationally, the company had over thirty warehouses/sales offices and employed about 1,500 total workers at its peak. (c1964) Full Size


These photos show engineers at work in the drafting room and the administrative offices of the company. (c1965) Full Size


These photos show men at work in a foundry and also a machine shop of Johnson Bronze. (c1965) Full Size


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Employee Leona Nickum hard at work taking measurements. (Mar 1956)


Another employee checks for the proper diameter of a large bearing. (c1965)


Men at work in a foundry. (c1960)


A worker checks sleeve bearings along a conveyer belt. (c1965) Full Size


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A worker operates a heavy-duty press machine. (c1960)


A workers prepares bearings for shipment. (c1960)


The quality control functions of the company are carried out in the Research Lab. (c1965)


Two badges belonging to employees of the New Castle plant. Full Size


Additional badges of Johnson Bronze employees. Full Size


A small box that once held a product manufactured by the Johnson Bronze Company.


An employee involved in quality control tests the crush weight of a bearing. (c1965)


The composition of the various metals used for production are tested and formulated in the
Chemical Lab. (c1965)



This photo depicts the barren spot where the Johnson Bronze admin building and other facilities once sat along South Mill Street. (Jul 2013) Full Size


Former parking spots of Johnson Bronze executives. (Jul 2013)


(Jul 2013)


The power plant and railroad tracks that supported Johnson Bronze – along Moravia Street and directly across from the old Pennsylvania Engineering/PECor plant. (Jul 2013)


(Jul 2013)


The sign for the New Castle Commerce Park, former site of the Johnson Bronze Company, along South Mill Street. (Oct 2014) Full Size

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Comment

  1. Hi, I am so thrilled to find this website today. I am awestruck by the amount of time and effort that you have put into this site. My father Edward Flaherty was president of the Johnson Bronze until it was sold in 1968. Prior to that hew worked for my grandfather Patrick Joseph Flaherty whow was president until his death in 1948. Thank you so much for sharing all of our hometown history. I am so tickled to find all things New Castle today. All the best ,lyn

    Lyn Flaherty Goekel · 07/24/2012 04:18 PM · #

  2. (EDITOR’S NOTE) Lyn, thanks so much for your posting and the compliments. I’ll have the text and captions up for this page soon. Would you happen to have photos of your father and grandfather that I could use to post on this page? I would really like to share those with my readers. Thanks again. Jeff

    Jeff Bales Jr · 07/24/2012 09:47 PM · #

  3. Hi Jeff, I am so happy to see The Johnson Bronze portrayed today. Needless to say you have done an outstanding job to show the evolving history . I am so appreciative of your endeavors to present the history of Lawrence County. Our hometown has such a rich history. The investment of your time and dedication is a testament to our hometown.

    Lyn Flaherty Goekel · 08/02/2012 04:16 PM · #

  4. It is so exciting to read about Johnson Bronze. I have looked for information occasionally and it was great to read such such a thorough history of the company.
    My grandfather was Joseph F Flaherty. I grew up
    hearing about the company, I was thrilled to read about it!

    Kathy McNerney Darlington · 08/22/2012 06:06 PM · #

  5. Hello Jeff
    Great Job…
    My Great Grand Father was PJ Flaherty.
    What an outstanding job you have done.
    I have many old photos of PJ Flaherty & of JB.
    Plus a very large collection of Bronzes made by the Co.
    Would love to share…
    Thank You
    Mitch

    Mitch Tannehill · 09/27/2012 11:58 AM · #

  6. I am in procession of what may be a bronze ashtray in the shape of a housefly 5” long, 2.5” wide. The wing tilts up revealing a cavity possiblity for cigarette ash. Under the wing it’s labeled “Johnson Bronze Co. New Castle”

    Was it common for them to also make household products and novelities?

    Would you know when the housefly was made?

    Thank you

    Dave

    David Bean · 10/24/2012 08:44 AM · #

  7. (EDITOR’S NOTE) David, I have seen a handful of these well-crafted bronze novelty items made by Johnson Bronze. All the ones I’ve seen have been ashtrays with statues, figures, etc… attached. One was a miniature Liberty Bell. I have never seen any evidence that JB sold these items commercially, so I’m thinking they were probably made exclusively for employees as achievement-milestone-retirement gifts. I’ll try to do some more reasearch on this matter. Jeff

    Jeff Bales Jr. · 11/12/2012 02:35 PM · #

  8. My father Elmer M. Holtz worked for Johnson Bronze Company in the Chicago office in sales all his life until his retirement. He always told me about the great respect he had for the company. I am now 70years old and still have the liberty bell ash tray and a bronze light that looks like a bird. Those were the days your worked hard and stayed with one company until retirement.

    Thank you,

    Dennis Holtz

    Dennis Holtz · 11/16/2012 03:04 PM · #

  9. My father Elmer M. Holtz worked for Johnson Bronze Company in the Chicago office in sales all his life until his retirement. He always told me about the great respect he had for the company. I am now 70years old and still have the liberty bell ash tray and a bronze light that looks like a bird. Those were the days your worked hard and stayed with one company until retirement.

    Thank you,

    Dennis Holtz
    dennisholtz@yahoo.com

    Dennis Holtz · 11/16/2012 03:05 PM · #

  10. nice site, to any one what year did this co close its doors

    slack · 12/07/2012 06:08 PM · #

  11. I have an amazing ash tray by this company, it;s a bronze man hold a smelting pot pouring into a square box of sorts, signed Johnson Bronze Co. About to go on ebay.

    George George · 12/27/2012 05:47 PM · #

  12. My father was employed at the Johnson Bronze for many years, working his way through the Engineering department and up the ranks to become a Vice President. Tom Acker, another VP at the Bronze was a close personal family friend and still is. It’s nice to see a site dedicated to the Johnson Bronze. I remember going to the Scottish Rites Cathedral as a child with my brother in the late 1950’s for the Bronze’s Christmas show and event. They gave all the kids giant red mesh stocking filled with toys and candy. Fond memories.

    David Boatman · 01/05/2013 09:53 PM · #

  13. Again, I am just blown away at your web site on New Castle! My father worked his way up in the Johnson Bronze organization. He started on the pouring gang in the early 30’s and later went into making the molds. In the early 1950’s he was transferred to the operation in Mahoning Town and assisted in supervising production. In October 1957 he was transferred to manage the production work at the new Oakland CA location. That facility closed after a few years due to high labor costs in California. Most all management went back to New Castle but he loved California so much he decided to stay after almost 40 years with the JB.
    THX for such an excellent effort on your part.

    Nick Mitlo , Jr · 09/26/2013 12:36 AM · #

  14. We have some nice pieces from the JB, the liberty bell, a scale, and one of the massive PJF memorial bronze plaques, among other things, including PJF’s manuscript (partial) biography. Can send pics. Nice site, thanks for the effort!

    PJF3

    PJ Flaherty III · 12/12/2013 11:46 PM · #

  15. Wow. I am shocked at this wonderful website. My dad’s family was from New Castle. His mother and father raised their family there and my grandfather commuted to Pittsburgh via the train every day. My grandfather was James Patterson and my grandmother Grace Leslie married in the late 1800’s. I have relatives that worked at Johnson bronze and the way I found this site was by searching for these bronze ashtrays. Per my father, his brother received the ashtrays as a Christmas gift. I too have the liberty bell, a wheelbarrow, a naked lady and a soldier. I still have cousins that live in the Area. You mentioned Cascade Park in you biography…my aunt Sally (my namesake) was Sally Glenn, daughter of Billy Glenn. Billy Glenn was the creator of the roller coaster “the Gorge” in 1922. My aunt told us many stories of living at the park in the summer under the roller coaster….Billy had built a summer home for his family there.

    Many thanks for this great forum.

    sally patterson · 01/05/2014 10:48 AM · #

  16. My father Bud Fraser a mechanical engineer, spent his whole working career at the “Bronze” before and after the war as did most of my aunts and uncles. Dad was a Foreman for many years and later the Plant Manager & also Personnel Manager. He admired and was close with the Flaherty family particularly Press.
    Interesting side note – my uncle John Fraser (Dad’s brother) was head of the Union. We had many family gatherings at our small farmette with all the family coming out for picnics nearly every other weekend. Almost every time my uncle and Dad would go round and round with my Dad trying to convince my uncle that if the union persisted with “strike” plans that they would have to close the plant. My uncle insisted that they weren’t being shown the “real” books – but were being shown “cooked” books regarding finances. He was very stubborn and wouldn’t listed to reason from Dad. They were on opposite sides of the barganing table and Dad proved correct when the Bronze was forced to sell out and the new owners layed everyone off and sold off the pieces of the Bronze. All my family lost their jobs. Dad ended up with a pension of $150/mo. after more that 30 years there. Sad really.

    Arnold Edward Fraser · 02/21/2014 11:49 AM · #

  17. My mother worked at J-B in New Castle during WWII. She said the female workers were impressed with the handsome German POWs that were brought in under armed guard, evidently to work in another area. I am curious how and why this program was instituted.

    Richard Kovacs · 06/25/2014 01:27 PM · #

  18. (EDITOR’S NOTE) Richard, During World War II over 400,000 German and Italian POWs (or simply “POW”)were interned in the United States. To augment the depleted workforce many of these prisoners were approved for “off post” projects such as working on large farms or at industrial factories. A total of 1,868 German POWs were housed at Camp Reynolds in Mercer County, or four outlying camps. A handful of these Germans worked in New Castle at the Johnson Bronze plant. It’s no secret that the local woman fraternized with these “handsome” German soldiers on occasion. Jeff

    Jeff Bales (EDITOR) · 06/26/2014 01:28 PM · #

  19. I was so happy to see this! My father worked there for years! All I remember is, he was either a machinist or tool and dye maker. He got hurt, and they made him a security guard. I still have his badge. His name was William Callahan. Thank You for the memories!

    Kathy Dudash · 07/05/2014 07:43 PM · #

  20. My dad, Ralph Dute, worked there for many years in the 1940’ s until he retired. The only job he ever had besides being a butcher. Thanks for the memories!

    Carolyn Dute Davenport · 07/06/2014 09:28 AM · #

  21. Jeff:
    Old photos of Johnson Bronze brought back sweet memories.My grandfather and father owned and operated a bakery and restaurant @ 423 S. Mill Street directly across from the J.B.I can still remember the employees patronizing the bakery and restaurant.When strikes persisted in the mid to late fifties,my father decided to sell and moved to Sharon,PA to pursue another opportunity. Thanks again for the memories!

    Larry Ciambotti · 07/06/2014 08:09 PM · #

  22. Iam especially pleased to see this for the first time and want you to be able to put a name to the young man in the Quality Control
    Lab in the white coat: His name is Jack Shaw
    and loved the 13 years he worked at the Bronze.
    However, when the layoffs began he did not have enough time in to receive any compensation. His cousin, Carol Sanner Putnam, now in the Carolinas married Mike Flaherty and I don’t know for how long. Jack Shaw loved them both dearly and Jack was asked to be the overseer for Mike. Jack passed away March 27, 2014 and I am not quite over it. He is the only man in the long white coat in two of the pictures. Three hundred attending the funeral and more would have but it had to be done quickly for various reasons. Thank you so much for all of your hard work and the heart you have put in it. We still keep in close touch with Mike Flaherty’s ex-wife in Hilton Head.

    Mildred Shaw · 07/07/2014 03:02 PM · #

  23. Dad (Jim Glaxner) worked for the JB in the tool crib from the early 40’s to the middle 60’s. As a little girl I remember the fun times the company provided for us twice a year. Family day at Cascade Park with free rides and hotdogs in the summertime and at the Cathedral for the annual Christmas day for kids showing movies, live entertainment and finally Santa with a small gift. Two very special days growing up as a child in New Castle.

    Cheryl Glaxner · 07/13/2014 09:40 PM · #

  24. My dad worked for Johnson Bronze Company after service in WWII in the US Navy. He was the warehouse manager of a branch located on Belfield Avenue in Philadelphia for over 25 years. It was a three person operation, a salesman, a machinist and my dad who was responsible for everything, inventory, shipping, receiving, customer service, you name it. I have fond memories as a young boy going to the warehouse with my dad to count inventory in advance of the company’s auditors visit. Sadly, the warehouse was relocatd to South Hackensack, NJ and after a year of commuting and training a new manager he left the compnay rather than relocate our family. He remembers meeting one of the Flaherty family members who visited Philadelphia. I reviewed this website with my dad yesterday, now 87 years old. Thanks for creating this site. Dad really enjoyed it.

    Frank Cellucci · 07/28/2014 08:11 AM · #

  25. One of the Flahertys wrote a biography??? Is that correct. I would LOVE to read it. I worked there from 1976 till JB went under in 1981. I even worked for the auctioneer for a short while. That was sad, because I really liked working there. I was the youngest machine setter (at 24) on the chamfer machines and the semi-progressive dies. My boss was John F McConnell who also became my best friend. Super guy !!

    Terry Dudash · 01/24/2015 05:01 PM · #

  26. Nick Mitlo, My father worked with your dad Bill at Johnson Bronze. I remember meeting your dad over at our house. He was a very nice man and a good friend to my father.

    Lou Delpha · 04/09/2015 11:09 AM · #

  27. I never met my Grandfather Frank Mundziak aka Mundziakiewicz, but he worked at JB until he died of lead poisoning in or around 1940. My mother had a beautiful collection of the bronze figurines. Many were stolen when our house was broken in to, but, I have spent many years searching for as many JB figurines as I can find. I am still searching for the one that was my favorite; a DOG NUTCRACKER…If anyone has one that they would part with, please, PLEASE let me know. My mother is almost 84 and I would love to give her that special piece before she is gone. Thank you for this wonderful site !!!

    Carol Lee Palumbo · 04/24/2015 07:25 AM · #

  28. Can you please give me information on the bronze foundry sculpture od a man pouring steel. I have acquired 2 from parent’s estate. I have seen them online auction for $395.
    Any information would be appreciated.
    Thank you
    Diane
    Eakin

    Diane Eakin · 09/04/2015 08:16 PM · #

  29. I met a Michael Flaherty at WPIC circa 1962. His family was connected to Johnson Bronze Co. of New Castle. Would be interested in re-connecting

    Barbara (Basta) Liberato · 09/30/2016 09:31 AM · #

  30. Both of my parents worked at the JB. My mom Millie Peterson was a machinist in 1942-43 & met my dad Dave Parsons a machinist, inspector, & later salesman for the JB. My father worked for the JB from 1940-72. As a family of 6, we The Parsons were born & raised in New Castle until my Dad Dave Parsons was given the opportunity to move to the Oakland, CA Johnson Bronze warehouse & was made Headsalesman for the West Coast. It was always fun going to the Xmas parties at the Cathedral & having pancake breakfasts & the toys & candy in the stockings. In the summer the JB would have picnics at Cascade Park & give tickets for rides. It seemed like every year in the late 50’s & early 60’s they would go on strike in late Nov.-Dec. We would eat Navy beans & Kraft cheese during those times. The JB really never paid their workers an adequate salary. My dad went to night school via Penn State & took engineering & architect courses to improve himself. My father knew Jack Flaherty & spoke highly of him. My father Dave Parsons died here in Walnut Creek! CA in 1978 at the age of 57. My mother Millie Parsons is 94 & lives in Walnut Creek. I am David Parsons Jr. My brother Bill Parsons, sister Joyce, & sister Yvonne live in Walnut Creek or nearby cities in CA.

    David Parsons · 06/12/2017 03:33 AM · #