Long Life & Happiness to All Its Residents #15

Becky Weiser

Wednesday Jul 8th, 2020

Long Life & Happiness to All Its Residents #15


I haven’t written about a person lately and one name stuck out in the 1888 book because I have never met someone named Orange before.   So, what started as being intrigued with a name, I discovered many fascinating things about Erie resident Orange Noble.

becky 15

Mr. Noble was born in New York State in 1817 and received very little formal education.  As a teenager, he began dealing in cattle; buying and selling and, according to reports, he always made a profit.  In 1853, he moved to Crawford County, Pennsylvania, where he eventually got into buying farmland near Titusville and made his fortune in the new oil industry. 

In 1864, Orange moved to Erie, becoming “the most public-spirited citizen Erie has ever seen”.  In other words, he died a poor man spending his fortune here in our fair city.  His accomplishments are many:

  • Founder of the Keystone National Bank of Erie.
  • Built the Noble block of buildings on the southeast corner of 8th & State Streets.

becky 15.1801 State Street in 1888

becky 15.2801 State Street in 2020

  • Built the first grain elevator in Erie for Great Lakes shipping.
  • Involved in the manufacture of Carter’s patent medicine (see blog # 6).
  • Bought the Bay State Iron Works in 1867 renaming it Noble & Hall. Located at 321 Peach Street, it began as a supplier to the oil industry, then developed into an engine works selling as far away as Latin America.
  • Served as mayor of Erie from 1867-1870. During that short time period he:
  • Revived street paving in the city.
  • Began the first paid fire department in Erie.
  • Initiated the construction of the water pumping station at the foot of Chestnut Street with water service beginning in 1868. The water at this time was pumped from the bay.
  • Started Erie’s sewer system. The untreated sewage went, you guessed it, into the bay.  Sewage treatment in Erie did not exist until the 1930s.

becky 15.3The Hagen History Center currently has several pieces of original Erie sewer pipe.  This example is simply a hollowed-out log.

  • Served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1881-1882.

Orange Noble died in 1899 and is buried in the Erie Cemetery.  Not only did he have a great name, it appeared he had a long and exciting life. Orange truly did help Erie become the city that it is today.