John McAllister, Jr., died December 17th, 1877, aged ninety-one years. He was born at the north-east corner of Market and Second streets, June 29th, 1786. His father, John McAllister, a native of Scotland, was born in Glasgow February, 1753. He came to this country when twenty-two years of age, settling in New York. He came to Philadelphia in 1785, and went into business as a turner and manufacturer of whips and canes, on Market street between Front and Second. In 1798 he formed a partnership with James Matthews of Baltimore, and opened business at No. 50 Chestnut street–afterward No. 48–on the south side, west of Second street. McAllister & Matthews proposed to carry on the whip and cane business, and added to their stock spectacles, glasses, and optical articles. This latter business was found to be more important than the manufacture of whips and canes, which was abandoned; and the attention of Mr. McAllister and his family has since been turned to the manufacture of mathematical and optical instruments. John McAllister, Jr., intended for the business of a merchant, in 1804 entered the counting-house of Montgomery & Newbold, on Water street, having graduated from the University in the preceding year. In 1811 he entered into partnership with his father, Mr. Matthews having retired. The partnership of John McAllister & Son continued until the death of John McAllister, Sr., May 12th, 1830. John McAllister, Jr., with Walter B. Dick, continued the business under the firm of John McAllister, Jr., & Co. In 1835 he retired from the business, which was then conducted by some of the members of the firm and William Y. McAllister, under the firm name of McAllister & Co., and its location was changed to Chestnut street below Eighth, where it still remains. John McAllister, Jr., after 1835, being a gentleman of culture and taste, with a strong liking for local antiquities, devoted himself to the collection of a library rich in works of all kinds, but particularly noticeable for old newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, essays, etc. connected with the history of Philadelphia. He was the oldest alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania, and the oldest member of the Philadelphia Library Company, of the Athenseum, and of the St. Andrew's Society.
Source: Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania in the Olden Time: Being a Collection of Memoirs, Anecdotes, and Incidents of the City and Its Inhabitants, and of the Earliest Settlements of the Inland Part of Pennsylvania - Volume 3 - John Fanning Watson - 1899