Oyler: Flannery brothers made impact on Chartiers Valley region

Date: Oct 14, 2017

The Jefferson College Historical Society recently invited me to speak at their fall meeting.

I decided to discuss the impact of the Flannery brothers on the Chartiers Valley region, knowing that their involvement with the Standard Chemical Company in Canonsburg was historically significant.

James Flannery began the family’s successful business career by opening a funeral parlor in Homewood. By the time his younger brother, Joseph, joined him, there were three Flannery mortuaries in Pittsburgh. In 1904 the brothers decided to diversify. They acquired rights to a patent for staybolts, a key component in the manufacture of locomotive boilers, and incorporated the Flannery Bolt Co. Their manufacturing facility was constructed on the Pennsylvania Railroad just north of Bridgeville.

Once they began manufacturing staybolts, they realized the advantage of using “vanadium steel,” an extremely strong grade of steel that had a tiny amount of vanadium alloyed into it. The vanadium was also extremely expensive. Joseph Flannery convinced his brother they should enter the vanadium production business.

In 1906 they established American Vanadium Co. and began researching vanadium production in their Bridgeville facility. They were able to acquire a mine in Peru that could produce vanadium ore economically.

By 1909, the Flannerys were successfully operating both companies. They built a magnificent five-story building, the Vanadium Building, in Oakland.

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