George T. Weingartner was born in Slippery Rock Township, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, on August 4, 1875. He was son of George A. Weingartner and Martha (Warnock) Weingartner. His grandfather George Weingartner had come from Germany, lived in Philadelphia for a time, and settled in Slippery Rock Township in the 1840’s. His father George A. Weingartner was a farmer by occupation, served in the U.S. Army during the Civil War, and was a leading member of the Greenwood Methodist Church.
Young George T. Weingartner attended the local schools, taught school for a few years, and then graduated from the Rose Point Academy in 1896. He then started learning his craft as an attorney in the law offices of Robert K. Aiken, a colorful and accomplished trial lawyer, in New Castle. Weingartner was admitted to the bar in March 1899 and subsequently opened his own law practice in New Castle. He later opened a joint law practice with up-and-coming attorney J. Roy Mercer, a 1908 graduate of Westminster College. Weingartner was married to the former Anna Hazen (1879-1971), of a prominent local family, in May 1901. In the coming years they took up residence in Shenango Township and had four children together.
Weingartner, a religious man, became heavily involved in civic affairs and local Republican politics. As a politician he supported the temperance movement and quickly rose to prominence. He served in the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives from 1905-1907 and 1906-1908 and in the Pennsylvania State Senate from 1909-1913. He was also a longtime member of the Epworth Methodist Church, where he taught a Bible class for several decades.
In about 1907 he founded what became the Weingartner Realty Construction Company, which acquired large parcels of property and built homes for commercial sale. The company was largely responsible for the growth of the residential area of the East Side of New Castle. This and other business ventures made Weingartner a wealthy man. In August 1920 the company was merged into the Citizens Lumber Company and Weingartner, as a major stockholder, continued building homes for that firm. He reorganized his efforts in early 1922 and incorporated the new Weingartner Realty Company, with assistance from minor partners Samuel P. Huey and J. Roy Mercer.
The New Castle News of January 10, 1922, announced, “With Mr. Weingartner are associated in the new company a number of prominent citizens of the city, sound business men who believe that New Castle needs more homes. The company is in short the realization of an idea promulgated by the board of trade several years ago… No particular section of the city will be taken by the new company, it intends to operate in every section of the city, erecting homes wherever the need is shown and building them at a price that will be attractive. Mr. Weingartner, the president and manager of the new company feels that the reputation for “honest houses” that he has borne for the past fifteen years will stand the new company in good stead.”
Over the years Weingartner served as a director with such concerns as the New Castle Hospital, Lawrence Savings and Trust Company, Blair Strip Steel Company, and the Castleton Hotel. He also played an important role in the fund raising and construction efforts of the new Epworth Methodist Church, a magnificent stone structure that was dedicated in July 1931.
Weingartner was elected as a County Commissioner in late 1919 and served for the next four years. He resigned after he was reelected to another four-year term with the Pennsylvania State Senate in November 1924. He was later reelected to the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives and served from 1941-1942.
The New Castle News of Friday, April 1, 1949, mentioned some of his other accomplishments with, “In the party councils he was listed as an independent and in 1912 along with many other Republicans allied himself with the cause of Theodore Roosevelt in the Bull Moose, or Progressive party. He was a delegate to the 1912 Bull Moose convention in Chicago where Theodore Roosevelt was nominated for the presidency. In the early days of the good roads movement he was one of the leaders and as a state official and as a county official he devoted much of his time and energies to getting good roads through the commonwealth. In 1931 he succeeded in interesting Governor Gifford Pinchot in allocating sufficient money to build the Pymatuning dam. To him more than any other man goes the credit for making the dam possible.”
Weingartner, in failing health, retired from active business in about 1945. He passed away in New Castle on Thursday, March 31, 1949, at the age of seventy-three. At his funeral, held at the Leyde Funeral Home, he was hailed as one of the greatest politicians that ever represented New Castle and Lawrence County. He was subsequently laid to rest in Oak Park Cemetery.
Weingartner was involved in the fields of real estate and home construction and initially concentrated on building up the residential district on the East Side of New Castle. He later reorganized his efforts in 1922 and undertook construction projects in all wards of the city. I believe Weingartner is standing on the far right end of the photo. (c1920) Full Size
A newspaper advertisement that appeared in the New Castle News in September 1919. (1919) Full Size