The City of Weirton has announced the nomination and acceptance of Ernest T. Weir into the Weirton Hall of Fame.
Weir has been chosen for the category of business and industry.
Weir was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. and came from a poor family which resided in a two-room house in Oakland, Pa. He attended school through eighth grade when his father, James Weir, passed away. It was decided that E.T. Weir needed to get a job to support his family.
Ernest T. Weir was the founder of Weirton Steel Corp. and the community which incorporated several smaller areas to establish what is now known as Weirton. -- Contributed
At age 15, he quit school and began to work as an office boy with Braddock Wire Company and later with Oliver Wire Company. The salary afforded to Weir was $3 a week; the family's total income.
While still an office boy, Weir began to think about the future and eventually made his way to becoming the chief clerk. While working for the Oliver Wire plant on the South Side, the workers went on strike leaving a scar on Weir's mind as he watched how devastating the strike was to the company and to the workers.
In 1901, at the age of 26, Weir had established himself with the reputation of a skilled businessman and left Oliver Wire to join the Monongahela Plant of the American Sheet and Tin Plate Company, owned by U.S. Steel Corp. Weir was promoted to general manager of the company's plant in Monessen within two years which lead to his meeting with James. R. Phillips, a steel salesman.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place April 25 at 2 p.m. at the Serbian American Cultural Center. Tickets are $25.
The two men decided to establish a business of their own in the steel industry and searched out the Jackson Sheet and Tin Plate Company in Clarksburg, W.Va. and purchased it for $190,000. Between the two, $25,000 was borrowed to invest in stocks in the company and capitalized at $250,000 and utilized the funds to finalize the purchase of the company in April of 1905.
It was decided Weir would be the general manager while Phillips would go on the road to get orders. While returning from an eastern trip, Phillips was killed in a train wreck leaving the full burden of the company on Weir just two months after the plant's existence and the same month it began operations. However, before Phillips' passing, a man named John C. Williams joined the new enterprise.
Weir believed the Clarksburg plant was not in a good location for the steel industry so he began looking for a site with an adequate water supply. In 1907, he settled for a site in the wheat fields and apple orchards of a place called Hollidays Cove. He believed it to be a good location with an ample water supply and room to grow the company.
Weirton Steel Company was born in 1909 with no shortage of workers due to immigrants pouring into the area by the thousands to work at the company. The first 20 years of the company's operations went above expectation with the production of tinplate, used to make food cans.
In 1929, the Great Depression led Weir to merge his company with Michigan Steel and the interests of M.A. Hanna to form a new steel corporation, National Steel which was the fifth largest steel company in America. National Steel Corp. stayed in business with no strikes for 95 years before going bankrupt in 2003.
Weir is also responsible for starting the People's Bank and the Bank of Weirton, now WesBanco, donated $450,000 for the establishment of the Mary H. Weir Public Library in 1956, approved construction for the Weir High School Stadium with J.C. Williams as well as the Williams Country Club. Weir is also credited with the establishement of the Margaret Manson Weir Memorial Pool and Park.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place April 25 at 2 p.m. at the Serbian American Cultural Center.
Tickets are $25 each and can be purchased at the Weirton City Building, the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce, and from Ward 7 Councilman Max Fijewski.
The public is encouraged to attend.
(Dickson can be contacted at email@example.com)