Star Iron Works

from 1900 Centennial Souvenir

This is one of the important manufacturing plants of this county, and the oil well
supplies, machine work, etc., are in constant demand all over the various oil fields.
Mr. Sherman also manufactures the Braden Gas Engine, which is conceded to be one
of the best on the market. Mr. Sherman makes a specialty of gas pumps and friction
clutches, and gas engines, and general repairs to all kinds of machinery.

Mr. Sherman is a practical and expert machinist, and has been engaged at this branch
of industry since 1876, when he established a machine shop at Karns City, remaining
there until 1890, when he removed to
Butler, and formed a partnership with B.
Masseth, under the name of Sherman & Masseth. In 1891 he established his present
machine shops, widely known as the Star Iron Works, in the old Union Woolen Mill
Building. He is now enlarging the plant by an addition of a 60 foot extension to the
old building, which is to be used as a foundry. This plant is equipped with a complete
outfit of all the necessary machinery and tools for turning out first class work in every
department of oil well supplies. This plant employs a force of skilled mechanics, who
are all careful and experienced workmen.

The 1905 Russell-Sherman Cars

Mr. Alonzo Ellsworth Russell was a very successful oil man in the Bustler Community,
and Alonzo had a friend who owned a brass metal foundry in
Butler and they
together built two cars in 1905 at a cost of $3,500 each.

These two cars were entirely hand built at the brass factory by using a four cylinder
motor, brass parts formed at the factory, and an aluminum body purchased from the
Pittsburgh Carriage Company. The photo shows one of the cars as it is being lowered
by ramp from the brass foundry for an initial test drive. Mr. Sherman stands outside
the door, and Art Longwell, mechanic, is at the wheel. Mr. Russell is tending to the
rope attached to the car. The car was capable of 48 miles per hour top speed.

Mr. Russell drove his car until 1918. The roads at the time were very unimproved,
and, to quote Mr. Russell, “It tore the cars up”. Never the less, Mr. Russell drove his
car locally and often times to Lake Chautaugua, New York, where the family had a
cabin on the lake. The trip took two full days with a stop over in Northeast, PA. The
car was normally filled with relatives, including the Russell’s five children.

Mr. Sherman did not used his car in the same manner, as he was leery of it, having a
bad experience with starting it one time. He must have left it in gear, and upon
attempting to crank the car, it nearly ran over  him.

These two cars are believed to be the first two cars built in
Butler, and the first two
automobiles owned by anyone in Butler. These cars both performed very favorably in
competition with other cars that came along at the same time, and was equal to the
1906 Packards that came on the scene.

This information is supplied by Richard M. Russell, sone of Richard D. Russell (1900-
1979) and grandson of Alonzo, who built the cars. This family is related to some of
the local Wick, Dole, and Russell families.