Mayor of Allegheny 1844-1845. builder of first rolling-mill in Allegheny
Hezekiah Nixon was born in Scott Township in 1802. His father was a farmer who died when Hezekiah was only nine years old, forcing the boy to fend for himself. In a common situation for the time, Hezekiah went to live with and work for a neighbor until he was old enough to apprentice himself to his uncle who was a carpenter. Attaining the rank of Journeyman in the carpenter’s trade, Nixon made his way to Allegheny in 1824. He established himself as an independent contractor and secured the job of building the first rolling mill in the city. Similar commissions followed and Nixon’s good work led to a prosperous career.
Concurrent with his contacting work, Nixon pursued an interest in local politics. He was one of the first councilmen elected in Allegheny and was elected council president in 1842. Two years later, Nixon became the fourth mayor of Allegheny and was reelected the year after. His administration is best known for setting up the city’s first police court, which was presided over by the mayor. After his stint as mayor, Nixon spent eight more years on the Select Council until he was elected recorder of deeds for Allegheny County in 1848.
Nixon had no problem following his conscience and changed political parties frequently. His affiliation moved from Federalist to Whig to Anti-Mason to Republican. Similarly, he was always a Christian but changed congregations as necessary. He first was part of the Associated Reformed Church and then moved to United Presbyterian. Later he helped establish the congregation that became the First United Presbyterian Church of Allegheny and finally, he was a founding member of Third United Presbyterian.
Nixon’s civic and religious beliefs intersected in his support of both temperance and emancipation. Numerous biographical resources cite Nixon as founder of the first Temperance society in Allegheny but none provide the name of that original organization. The 1886 book, Historical Gleanings of Allegheny, describes Nixon as “modest and unassuming,” but “ever ready to fearlessly disclaim against the destroying influence [of liquor], and the manifest injustice [of slavery].”
After leaving the political arena in 1848, Nixon became involved in steamboating on the Ohio River, although in what capacity is not clear. In his later years his eyesight became weak and by 1856 he was forced to retire from those church and business duties he had maintained. He died December 12, 1858, survived by his wife and four of his seven children.