Monday, July 24, 2017

Regional Historians of the Nineteenth Century

     It is good to be 'back' with another post for Fayette/Westmoreland Forgotten History.

    As an introduction, I will begin by briefly advising you not to pass this post by on any account. In truth, this is NOT really a boring, drab post, folks. Trust me on this one. Finding proper photos was a problem, especially considering copyrights, so I didn't get too far in that respect.

    There were a few other historians of note, some of a more minor level, which I planned on covering, although there was some difficulty in locating quality information on their background. That being the case, I chose to only include those grand gents that proper research material wasn't too difficult to gain about and were the more pertinent to this post. Historians and folklorists, like Henry W. Shoemaker, were left out basically because we are mainly concerned with biographies which best encapsulate those deeply involved in this region; specifically, Fayette and Westmoreland counties.

 

   Nothing less would be worthy of the honor due to their position as true guardians and forebears of Western Pennsylvania. Please, read on:



   James Hadden

                                                 


   According to the "Acts and Proceeds Annual Meeting of the Pennsylvania Federation of Historical Societies", published in 1905, Mr. Hadden wrote the "The History of Uniontown", in 1913. I suppose it goes without saying, I have read it, along with other volumes by these distinguished gentlemen. He also  edited the book "The Monongahela Of Old", although much of his writing appears to be original ideas prepared by James Veech on older sources compiled by himself and adapted by Hadden and presented in his own unique way. This historian and antiquarian was a native of Uniontown, Pa. was the fourth son of Armstrong and Jane Hadden, born on the 17th of August, 1845.

   His father was a county seat postmaster; he was of Scottish descent, going back to the Isle of Mull and the region of Scone, seat of crowing kings. His family came here soon after the establishment of the county of Fayette back in 1783. His grandfather, Thomas, became a lawyer in 1795 and so he naturally followed in those prominent  footsteps. He also descended from Col. Alexander McClean, the famous surveyor involved with running the Mason and Dixon line as well as a member of the Supreme Executive Council of the state. (Much of this information derives from John Jordan's PENNSYLVANIA book of 1914 of the "Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania Biography"). Young James went to Waynesburg College and was a photographer for fifteen years, then pushed for a memorial park and monument to General Braddock. He was happily married in 1872.


   G. D. Albert

    George Dallas Albert, as far as what I have been able to find out, wrote, or should I say, actually is credited as the editor of "History of the County of Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, with biographical sketches of many of its prominent men" of 1882 with a total of 966 pages. Also, "Report of the Commission to Locate the Site of the Frontier Forts of Western Pennsylvania" as well as "The Frontier Forts of Western Pennsylvania" Volume 1, written in 1896. This included reports of John M. Buckalew, J. Gilfillan Weiser, etc. All in all, a very thorough and insightful study. The last volumes were contained in the prestigious Harvard College Library from August 17, 1903.

    As an example of what can be found in these writings, Albert's story basically begins with Celeron's 1749 journey down the Allegheny and Ohio rivers and back again and the planting of leaden plates in the name of the King of France, leading on to Du Quesne, Le Boeuf, Fort Necessity and Fort La Fayette, Fort Pitt, Fort Allen, Trent's efforts at Redstone and beyond which went some way to counteract the Royal Grant to the Ohio Company of the English of 1748. Conversely, this was partly designed to divert the french occupation. Washington's dispatching to the Ohio country in 1753 began the serious efforts to gain the control of the region and Forbes and Bouquet did much to end the French and Indian obstinacy to control the area and the eventual opening up of Pennsylvania and acquiring the land with proper claims of their own. This friction caused much of the future rivalry and quickly led to the creation of the various forts under examination in Albert's intensive treatment of the subject.

    According to John Newton Boucher's, "History of Westmoreland County", of 1906, pg. 369, Albert was born in Youngstown, Westmoreland County in 1846, appropriately enough, and admitted to the legal bar in 1869. A polite, retiring, yet intelligent gentleman; "he has done more to unearth and perpetuate the history of Western Pennsylvania, and particularly of Westmoreland County, than any other man living or dead." He was a frequent writer of in depth and perceptive newspaper articles, it was considered assured that when he examined a subject it received a painstaking investigation, indeed. He developed cancer and died in 1898 being buried in Latrobe.



    Judge James Veech

    The Esquire usually accompanying his name indicates this man was a successful attorney of the bar of Fayette and Allegheny counties. The epithet of 'judge' was conferred on him through his esteem and popularity. He also wrote various article s along with "Washington's and Braddock's Expeditions", a small volume covering the incidents on a subject of historical import. He was born in Menallen township, Fayette County on Sept. 18, 1808. He then graduated from Jefferson College in Canonsburg, going on to represent the legal profession and did so in Uniontown until 1834 before moving on to Pittsburgh and becoming the Assistant District Attorney for Allegheny County and later returned to Fayette County to practice law. He was actively interested in various proceedings, a dignified man of profound ability, retiring in 1872 and furthering his studies in history and literature. He died near Pittsburg in 1879, buried in Union Cemetery, and should be able to figure out the whereabouts of this place. After a Mr. Freeman Lewis gave up on his researches from 1850, this was taken over by the good judge in grand style and with much energy and thought. "The Monongehela of Old" was first published in 1859 for private use as he did not get to finish it becoming paymaster of the army in the Civil War, and later finished by his daughter E. V. Blaine in 1892. Who knows just how much more information would of been provided since it is said in the Preface by James Hadden in 1910, that he intended for twice as much material as it has in its present condition.

    Here was a perceptive person of understanding who we should be able to agree was a final authority on many matters pertaining to our local and regional history. This is all the more intriguing when reading his early chapters on the origins of our culture, some of his own speculations and educated conjectures and the influence of the Indians and earlier peoples.

  
    Lesser mentions might include  John W. Jordan's editing of "Genealogical and Personal History of the Allegheny Valley, Pennsylvania", from the Librarian of the Historical Society of the state itself, in 3 volumes in 1913, and possibly such works as "The History of the Pennsylvania Railroad" by one William Bender Wilson, privately printed, also in the apparently meaningful year of 1913. There are many more beyond the scope of this article.


  John Newton Boucher

   Mostly, all I was able to discover on this particular historian, who penned a valuable book, "Old and New Westmoreland", was, that he was born to Hiram and Abigal Boucher on Oct. 12, 1854, in Ligonier, Pa., the community that houses the justly famed Fort Ligonier which I've posted an article on years ago.  He married May Hargnett and and was a practicing attorney where he later died in his late 70's in Greensburg, the seat of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, shortly after a fall from his porch, on April 14, 1933. Boucher is buried in the Ligonier Valley Cemetery..
   

    John Lacock

    Professor John Kennedy Lacock. (Nov. 21, 1871- Mar. 8, 1933), is a bit of an exception in the sense of being much a part of the early twentieth century. He gets the nod in this formidable list because of his tremendous influence, especially on a subject dear to the blog - the Braddock Road, the Cumberland Road and Route 40. He also published a book on Boston's historic landmarks. According to findagrave.com, his parents were, Isaac Clark and Catherine Bell Lacock and he is buried in Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church Cemetery. He also compiled a quality map of Braddock's route in 1912, partly from Middleton that included certain improvements, (first published in Olden Time II, pg. 528).

    Lacock was originally from Washington, Pennsylvania. He was the former assistant of Canonsburg's Jefferson Academy of Washington County with close connections to Harvard University. Lacock did lectures around the state, was involved in many organizations and led the way with a large number of influential people; a very knowledgeable fellow indeed, he conducted expeditions over what he termed 'the old Braddock Road', a term with some meaning. One was in 1907 and the other in 1909. What a great mind for detail, in spite of a few mistakes along the way. Lacock was instrumental in providing much needed attention to the matter he specialized in, whether speaking at a college gathering, a high school gymnasium, or a local church and explaining the huge undertaking General Braddock made in the history books in building a road with the help of young George Washington from Cumberland to Braddock's Field, which yet led to an amazing British and colonial defeat. He also introduced some famous postcards illustrated from Ernest Weller's photographs, whom he hired for the task. These were taken of the key camp sites and some of the more picturesque, scenic views showing memorable areas of the old road. They were quite popular and were utilized in Robert Bruce's, 'The National Road.'.

   This historian, alas, died a rather tragic figure after experiencing a fall in his elderly years while  investigating Half King's Rocks off the Jumonville Road in Fayette County, back in the day.


   Conclusion

  As much as we are indebted to modern historians, and their work cannot be disregarded, without the concern and knowledge of the older stalwarts of dedicated research, we would never have the resources to tackle even a fair description of historical matters of these two counties. They were those special folks who treasured and celebrated such a variety of subjects describing our foundations and heritage. Although one has to freely admit their research was not necessarily always without errors, and some of the material collected can appear a bit on the dry side, yet the great depth of knowledge possessed led to a thorough listing of local industry, early settlers, and vast amounts of stories of places detailed so well, within the neighborhoods of people who live here and pass through their boundaries almost every day on our busy way to work, school, or whatever.

   Oh sure, there would be a certain amount of information available in some form or another from other sources such as the occasional old newspaper articles, but not near the proclivity of the specific, explanatory stuff from those that lived here and knew about them and their unique concerns. I feel these fellows of boundless energy and enthusiasm still matter very much in our day and age, since they were intimately connected to the places they studied and loved so heartily. After all, did these men not walk these same streets nearly one hundred and fifty years ago, travel around by horse and carriage, inquiries always on their lips and ideas playing on their minds, carefully documenting what they saw and heard, visiting all they knew with indefatigable questions until they received as many answers as possibly could be uncovered? We can be truly grateful for this information so easily avaliable to us and at our fingertips.

    In fact, the names of the old historians should be on the tongue of every school child and every teacher, even far beyond the confines of southwestern Pennsylvania. They were indeed influential and well known in the nineteenth century. In fact, every citizen should of heard of and read of the books written by their hand. The authorities of our modern state are hopefully as very proud to acknowledge the important and invaluable manner that the early roads of thought so paved the way to our understanding. Contributing so heavily to our sometimes troubled, but sublime estate and learning institutions.

   So stating, if anyone has difficulty in finding these old books, or if they may not be online in some form, which a few of them surely are at this time, please consider a trip to the local or regional library. Either way, it will be well worth the time spent! And as you make the drive around, think of the many landmarks which remain, and how fortunate it is to be able to learn of them. Sadly, there are a substantial amount of important sites which are lost and forever removed from our lives, even as these men have long ago passed on to their reward.
   

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Jeff Hann Interview


     Below, my friend, Jeff Hann, responds enthusiastically to a series of 10 questions posed by me.

     In case anyone does not recall or hasn't read the older posts (shame on you!) back in late 2014, Jeff Hann discovered what is very plausibly portions of the Turkey Foot Road up on Quail Hill and  old Hawk Road. Closely connected to this, Mr. Dietle, Mr. Hann, Kim Brown and myself were interviewed by the editor with the Mt. Pleasant Journal. Jeff Hann, Lannie Dietle, and I were doing fieldwork together a few years ago and located a further portion of this ancient and storied roadbed, while Jeff later found yet another part of the TFR as well. This was a unique historical accomplishment, especially toward our local region.

    I also submitted an article, I believe it was in the spring of 2015, with Jeff's help and Lannie's guidance for the Bullskin Historical Society Newsletter. This apparently proved quite popular which described the more exciting highlights and their various implications.

    If there are any answers, (or questions for that matter), which fans of the blog and this detailed subject are not totally familiar with or aware of, please take a few moments to refer to these links:

      Turkey Foot Road Remnants South Of Quail Hill Near Hawk Road

      The Forgotten Turkey Foot Road in Bullskin Township

 
      Any other comments or inquiries can be made through the blog or send an email to www.histbuffer@outlook.com. Now let's get under way:


                                          


                     Interview Questions


1. How have you and your family been doing and what have you been up to lately?

Everyone's good, you know how it is after you get so old ,everything basically stays the same, go to work, come home, eat, sleep, repeat!  HAHAHA!  But seriously, work seems to be the main focus these days, along with just meeting up with friends on weekends and some evenings for dinner and a few drinks.


2. I sure understand where you're coming from. While I was excited to have the experience in late 2014 of walking much of the route with you on two seperate occasions, once in the presence of Lannie Dietle, author of "In Search of the Turkey Foot Road", how does it feel in retrospect of the last few years having discovered a part of the history of the Turkey Foot Road? Does this knowledge still have any major impact on your life?

  I'm still excited about it and still a little taken aback by the whole experience. At first I thought, ahhh no big deal , but when Lannie Dietle actually flew in from Texas to walk several different locations with you and I it kind of hit home that this was a big deal. I take pleasure in the fact that Lannie named me in his book and referred to that part of the TFR as "The Jeff Hann portion of the Turkey Foot Rd." As far as having any impact on my life , not really , other than the fact that I spend a lot of time thinking about where in the hell does that road go after leaving the Shultz property and heading for Dexter to the crossing of Jacobs creek. Hopefully some day somebody will find a reference on an old property deed so it will ease my mind!


3. It was very exciting and intriguing and I agree, historically, it was indeed a big deal; we can only hope more information will some day come to light. 

   As I am aware you do snow removal in the winter and I personally feel we are fortunate to have you in these key positions as an Auditor for Bullskin and Upper Tyrone townships, could you give a basic description of  your duties and have they changed any since you began the job?
  
  I'm no longer an Auditor for Bullskin Twp.  I lost the bid for re-election 2 years ago. But in all honesty, I didn't lose any sleep over not being re-elected. Although it was a pleasure to serve the people of Bullskin for the six years I was Auditor, I just don't enjoy politics and the election process. 

 As far as being road foreman for Upper Tyrone Twp. the duties are a little bit of everything, plowing snow and salting, mowing grass at several locations and along the roads, replacing drain pipes and culverts, minor paving, maintaining  trucks, heavy equipment , and mowing equipment, minor repairs around the buildings and even scraping up roadkill now and again. I'm sure I forgot some things but we try to stay busy and do as much work as possible with the resources we have.  As far as change , I think the job will always be consistent with some minor changes here and there.


4. It sounds like you are still involved with a fairly hefty amount of responsibility to go around! 


   I'd like to ask, in what manner did the familiarity of knowing people and places help with the different aspects of TFR research in Bullskin Township?

  Knowing people and places was a huge help, without that I don't think it would've been possible to do the research that was done. It's so much easier to ask someone for access to their property or to look at their deed if you know them personally. Knowing the area and the terrain was also a huge benefit for the fact that you know they weren't going cut a road  a certain way because of steep hills or big ravines or creek crossings.


5. Is there a specific part of the Turkey Foot route which intrigues you most, particularly concerning the TFR branches from Mick Lilley's on toward Spruce Hollow and northeast of the Shultz property?

 The very last visible part of the TFR  leaving the Shultz property heading north is very intriguing as to why it snakes around the big rock ledge to the east. When looking at the current Breakneck Road it seems that would have been the more logical route especially when both Breakneck Road and the TFR crossed Butler Run at almost the exact same point. But we can only attempt to guess how much the landscape has changed since the TFR was cut through that area.


6. Was working with the GPS and directional coordinates easy, and was this acumen developed naturally (something I was slow to grasp) ?


 Absolutely not , I'm horrible with GPS and directional coordinates although it is a great tool  I'm like you, very slow to grasp . It's much easier for me to relate an area with a landmark or someone's name than it is to try to find it with coordinates.


7. I am curious if you had any recent breakthroughs in the development of the route to Connellsville beyond the likelihood of a connection to Breakneck Road?
 

 I have two different ideas on the road to Connellsville branching off of the TFR although neither have been proven. (1. On the Melish map the road shows a fork at the top of Rich Hill and  if you're heading north on the road, the right part of the fork being the TFR, the center of the fork being the road to Perryopolis which I believe to be part of present day Englishman Hill Rd. and the left being the part to Connellsville by way of an old road bed found below the present day Rich Hill stone quarry which meets up with the present day route of Breakneck Rd. near Polecat Hollow Rd. and then to Connellsville.   

   (2. There is also another road bed branching off of the center part of the fork described in paragraph one, being Englishman Hill Rd. at the sharp S turn at the top of Englishman Hill and heading south west to Connellsville. There are still many parts of that route still used as private driveways and a large portion of it is very visible on google earth .  But again nothing has been proven.


8 A perceptive answer, Jeff and I could only add that is a meaningful description of the two probable routes involved. 

    Do you think it plausible that Medsgar Road from Rt. 982 to Spaugy Mill consisted, at least to an extent,  in a branch of the TFR?

 No , my personal opinion is that Medsgar Road was a short cut, so to speak, from the Detwieler Mill to the Spaugy Mill. The TFR would have been dryer and shorter to stay the course it was headed on to the Spaugy mill from the known existing part at the end of the Shultz property.  I personally believe the TFR is part of the now existing Breakneck Rd. and on through to the now existing East Keefer Rd. to the Spaugy Mill. I can't prove it, but it makes sense to me. Again hopefully some day we'll find some kind of solid proof to tell us where exactly it does go.


9. For what it's worth, I approve of your educated assessment. In speculating, I sometimes ponder  further about the whole picture as Lannie Dielte has provided in his Addendum some solid evidence for the theory for two branches, possibly more, of the TFR through Bullskin and entering Upper Tyrone, and according to old historians, heading to Dexter and ton to Cherry Hill and Ruffsdale in Westmoreland County.

   In your opinion, is the Hatfield/Lindsey route or branch then, from a later date than the reported Spaugy MIll route?

I think the Hatfield/Lindsey route is later than the Spaugy route for the fact that the portion of the TFR that is now known at the end of the Shultz property would have passed by the Hatfield/Lindsay route. Add to that the knowledge that we already have about where it crossed at the Spaugy mill and headed for Jacobs Creek, I have to believe that the original TFR went to Spaugy Mill first.


10. Fascinating stuff as I've often wondered a lot about that situation.

     Finally, as early on, Lannie Dietle tended to help me to orient the blog better toward deeper historical info, whether or not that was necessarily his actual intention, I have recently reread his hefty book for research purposes. The last question is: have you eventually read it through, and while collaborating with him in the past, especially in consideration of  his intimate input on the subject, what observations did his influence leave you with?

I don't think I ever finished the entire book, there's just so much and to be quite honest I really focused on the section through Fayette County. I still read it now and then just to refresh my mind and to try figure out other portions of the road in the areas that I'm familiar with around Fayette and Somerset counties.  Lannie taught me a lot about old roads, such as the deep trenches they left behind from so much use with horse and buggies and how terrain didn't always deter them the way it would me as far as choice of path. He also taught me something about myself , he said something to the order of , "Jeff has a natural propensity for incisive analysis." Who knew ? HA HA!

      If you don't mind my saying, likewise, I mostly focused on studying Fayette County as the other voluminous southeastern material is so in depth and in regions we are not very knowledgeable about, and am totally in agreement, Lannie Dietle has a way of teaching a person much, sometimes profoundly, and giving new insights into ourselves, as happened with myself too. You've helped in your own way also in my search for historical realities.


      In summing up:
A big thank you to Jeff Hann for your candor and meaningful answers toward my request concerning this post. Your cooperation is much appreciated and will help add to the Turkey Foot Road articles and further interest while enlightening visitors and fans of 'Fayette/Westmoreland Forgotten History', and that certainly is a large part of what is discussed here. Lastly, I can honestly state, I thoroughly enjoyed this most recent collaboration and wish you all the best!


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Excursion To Bedford Part 3: Return Thriough Somerset

     In Part Two the items purchased at the Fort Bedford Museum and Hoke-E-Geez were shown. Here in Part 3, I will offer a brief synopsis of the trip home to Fayette County via Somerset County. Maybe you'll be satisfied to learn that, yes we did make it back in one piece and didn't get too lost!

     The Return Through Somerset

    We needed a fair amount of daylight to find a place where my maternal great grandfather once called home. His name was Israel Hoover, and my family's traditions claimed he was a brave man, in fact, fearless.
    
   The second part of my travels involved getting through a few townships in Somerset County and Berlin, then Garrett (named for John Garrett, one time President of the B&O Railroad) a borough on the Great Allegheny Passage. Then, over to Forge Road, (there are technically two Forge Roads, by the way, one is much further toward the southeast of our  destination), where my great grandfather once lived. This became a quest to see the place special to him and his family.

   This little adventure was taken from Garrett by way of Berlin St. and crossing the Casselman Gorge. This direction becomes Johnson Road heading west then south, there's a part of the distance covered on Old Mule Road as well and then a right onto Laurel Falls Road. And finally taking the right at the sign onto Forge Road with the intimidating name of Spook Run to the north-northeast. An interesting addition to my earlier plans; keep in mind we were traveling the route fairly late in the afternoon. This was bound to be a dirt road and we didn't come prepared enough with a four-wheel drive or off-road vehicle, therefore could only go a half mile or so before the conditions became too rough. According to the maps, there is no real outlet to the north. It would be nice to get back there some day and really explore the Spook Run region...during daylight hours, preferably - lol. Still, I enjoyed the accomplishment of getting that much closer to where my ancestor, Israel Hoover, spent a part of his lifetime.

   Here are a few photos on the circuitous meandering route to this sparsely populated region:

                                                  
                               
The high hills of Somerset.

                                            

                                                   

                                    
                 Below are a few maps to help pinpoint the areas of Somerset County I was heading through and then retracing the miles back home:           
Map showing the route from Garrett to Forge Road.

                    

                                            

                                        
The sign for Berlin.

                                               
A day overcast with drizzle early became pleasant and sunny.

                                                      

                                            
South on the old Forge Road

                                     

                                       
Yet another joyous construction site.
                                                     

                                              
An old roadside tree in Somerset County


    If you follow the blog monthly, then you might of noticed this post appeared due with a bit of a finale a while ago, "back around  the bend." I think there was a small hint that Part Two did not end the whole story. Well, it wasn't forgotten like so much of our old regional history rends to be, it only needed to be written up with a few photos and maps.

   This completes Part Three of the round trip we took from northwestern Fayette County on through Somerset and into Bedford and returning by evening into Fayette.

   Fayette County Again

   I won't go into detail about getting back into the more familiar territory into Bullskin westward and back home toward Upper Tyrone township. Much of the route is referred to elsewhere in one way or another. This took the usual course through Springfield Township and a stretch of Rt. 381 to Jones Mill and old Rt. 31 which includes a slice of Donegal Township, which approaches southwestern Westmoreland County, though the Jones Mill area. By the way, the township is separate from the Borough of Donegal. Also, a brief post on Fayette County's Springfield and Saltlick townships was posted in June of 2014, the same month as the Excursion to  Somerset article which provides a story on Bakersville. Well, this was a nice day for a jaunt in late 2016, fondly remembered and, all in all, an enjoyable experience.

    Join me on the next post for another exciting interview. This time, we will examine the thoughts of a knowledgeable local fellow that should prove informative and entertaining.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Sewage work affecting northeastern Fayette County


  A Layman's Report


 
     A Little History

   It might be hard to judge how Westmoreland County residents would feel about a Fayette County company handling their sewage and water from the confines of Fayette, but what we do know, according to a Department of Health publication of 1909, until fairly recently Fayette County didn't have a Westmoreland Country company in control of these utilities.


   Way back in 1881, October the twenty-seventh to be exact, the smaller water companies of Lemont, Huron, Redstone and Fairchance were merged and consolidated for the transportation and storage of water from the Yough at Broadford through Connellsville to Mt. Pleasant. This was chartered as the Youghiogheny Water Company. The Trotter Water Co. also dealt more with the Monongahela water supply. Now the center of business was where? Can you guess this one? Scottdale, in East Huntingdon of Westmoreland County. The main pumping station was at Dunbar on the west bank of the Yough opposite South Connellsville. This is only an excerpt; but before that, the  Connellsviile Water Company was incorporated in 1883 and built by William S. Kuhn. It was later controlled by the American Water Works and Electric Co. Breakneck Reservoir was one of two in use.

    One obvious feature should be noticeable, and that is companies like this have certainly branched out and expanded considerably since the old days all over the townships of different counties. That is pretty much the norm. Monopolizing through growth and acquisition into many fields concurrently.The purpose of this blog is history, yes, but the discussion must include these salient issues to make sense occasionally. I don't enjoy going this route, folks. The debate is a standard formula to try to bring the matter into a clearer focus.

      Modern Times

   Much of the 400 miles of pipeline in the region of Upper Tyrone was 100 years old. A surprising figure. What should be a staggering fact is that those in charge allowed the problem to get to this critical junction. However this happened, it looks to be a classic case of neglect, pure and simple. Remember, I've made the statement before that I've lived in both counties, so that isn't really an issue. In a nutshell, the MAWC (Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County), out of Greensburg controls quite an extent of the waterlines and supply of Fayette County. According to an article of April 12, 2017 in the TRIB Live, the Authority, (somebody must love that word), was established in the 1940's only for Westmoreland County residents. That fact is obvious by the name alone. They now 'serve' municipalities in Armstrong, Westmoreland, Fayette, Allegheny and Indiana counties. An extensive branching out in the fashion of a monopoly. I say that as MAWC is buying them up all over. CONSOLIDATION is a word more often used in these parts whether it is more suited, or not. Who is the highest bidder? Well, the example provided goes on on a much larger scale in other ways across this great nation of ours.

    MAWC claims these acquisitions allow them to operate more efficiently. Here's just one letter to the Tribune Review Editorial if anyone cares to read it. Christopher Kerr, the manager, is said to also be a part owner of Utilishield, the insurance company used by MAWC for its waterlines. I don't know about efficiency but convenience is another word. Spin is yet another. Mr. Kerr refers to parochialism as a problem in the Ohio River valley. There you go. Down south, the situation also involves the North Fayette County Municipal Authority board chaired by Philip Mahoney. A study was being undertaken by Senate Engineering Co. on purchasing water from MAWC or spending 35 million bucks on a new plant.

    PLEASE become more informed. Voice your cause in the comment section and elsewhere. MAWC can be reached on 124 Park and Pool Rd., near New Stsnton and Youngwood. Their phone no. is 724-755-5800, or toll free at 1-800-442-6829. Email is mawc@mawc.org. Good luck.

   More to the point, we are particularly concerned with one Upper Tyrone Sewage Project. How all this came about and exactly what legal ramifications there are is not necessarily pertinent to this post. The story could go on and on. As it is understood, the company is in the process of using sub-contractors for fixing and replacing service line connections with of the old pipes along roads, sidewalks, and premises that were apparently left to rust and neglect and need an upgrade anyway for way too long. A lot of wanton damage seems to be regularly left behind them. This could be said of a lot of our infrastructure.

   This post had to be updated relative to some of the municipal personnel, there was sent out a proper explanatory packet which helped elucidate on the broader picture of the whole process.

    I was informed that much of the damaging conditions described below will be fixed up better within somewhere between August and ... an unknown date. Also information on the Grinder Pump connections, pipe bedding details and service connections were then provided. Septic tank by-passes, the different boring and capping details are in there. This unexpected graphic material was appreciated, even though it was sent at a late hour. Now the letter claims it is 70% completed and the pump stations are 82% completed. The main areas of operation in are Everson Valley, *(which I could barely get in and out of on a recent trip to the municipal building)*, Kingview, McClure, and Mount Pleasant Road. I don't have info on what is being done in nearby townships. The pumping stations, which are costing a small fortune, are Broadford Road, Kingview, off of Dexter Road, Everson St., McCLure, and probably the main one is in Broadford, or so I was told. The links are on the township web page where the tap agreement is located.

   
                                                  

                        
                                            
No this was not an alley, but a back road near Pigeon Hill.

                                        

Large machinery going to work on replacing sewage pipes
   

                                                          
Dirt mound left. Most photos are from East Scottdale and Everson
                                                                 
Road damage with gravel fill.
                                            

                                        
    Under approval of the chairman of the board, Randy Roadman, last year saw an increase of twenty five percent in sewage bills rates, and yet they also passed that they will charge a hefty sum on the side as well-to some. I read where they were also raised in 2013. Currently this is at $36.00 a billing, and from $1,800 - $2,300 in total extra fees. A piddling sum one would suppose even in a depressed area. By the way, hasn't this type of thing been going on with the electric companies as well? MAWC is apparently not under the supervision of the Public Utility Commission. I'm not informed about NFMA one way, or the other. Ignoring an online petition, Westmoreland County Commissioner, Gina Cerilli,basically says she has no problem with the rate hikes. OK...The word is out that there are suppose to be further increases in 2018 and for sewage bills in Fayette as well. Whoa! MAWC calls this tack, "reinvesting in the infrastructure." A "prudent" thing. Uh-huh. They may not like what some of us might call it. The voice of the people appears to often be muffled, if not muzzled. A sad notice on communities of the state of our welfare mixed with a lack of consideration of a very depressed area.

    Beyond all the above, the North Fayette Municipal Authority located in Dunbar Township at  P. O. Box 368, 1634 University Drive, is claimed by the Upper Tyrone municipal authorities as the main culprit behind this portion of our article. They may even be the main controlling unit as for the sewage of Fayette, it would seem. Phone number for them is 724-626-1211, listed on one website as a Connellsville number. The website doesn't offer much information on this subject at all. For what it's worth, an old explanation of the options and the possible connection with Mawc are in this newspaper article. Apparently, they would either buy the 58 acre property from the Coastal Liumber Company for nearly $29,000,000 or use Mawc for the treated water. In the end, it appears we customers will be paying higher sewage AND water bills.

    In other news, why doesn't the website for the Upper Tyrone Municipal Authority have any updates on any meetings held on the 4th Monday of the month or details of the supervisor meetings held on the fourth Tuesday of the month for the last 9 months? Good question. It is worrying that I haven't received a decent answer when posing it, except something like, that with all that has been going on it's no wonder that is the case... uh-huh. Ah, politics! That's not very satisfactory. There are also those that have been informed that, ultimately, the orders or advice for upgrades, I'm not sure which, come from the DEP. There vehicles have been seen around so that qualifies as being spot on too.  I do know that other departments and organizations are involved. This is only added as a basic rundown and is not really the main point of the post. The whole picture can become overly complicated. Regardless of that situation and the regulations which must make customers flinch, if not on the offensive, at least on the defensive, they are treading near to a region where history is in danger and clearly in need of serious funds for archeological research, especially in key places. (Let's see these fine establishments raise a bunch of money for that urgent purpose). No one will be holding their breath.

   One of these realms of multi-layered need of preservation does indeed lie in small northeastern Upper Tyrone Township. That is not to deny the need in surrounding parts, but they do have associations that cater on a better level. For those that come here frequently, it is no secret that there are fairly recent findings, iwhich encapsulate various types of research and documentation of the meeting of branches of the Turkey Foot and Braddock Roads in Fayette County and parts of Westmoreland County; such circumstances should up the ante at hand. Also, in the post for Westmoreland County, more concerned with East Huntingdon Township, is, almost by accident, where most of these significant links are located on this site to retrace much of this archaic material. At this stage it is doubtful anything can or will be done to alleviate the threat toward a loss to our heritage, if indeed there is a serious threat. That would be a sad state of affairs. The PENN Dot McClure project is not finished, so the eventual extent of the damage can only be a rough estimate at this time. The jury may still be out on that issue. Not that planning couldn't of foreseen these problems and rectified them, or some solution could not be undertaken. This is still a distant possibility, though unlikely. It's partly the idea that history is not always considered when these projects are discussed in the board rooms. This is an irksome truth that sometimes it is the least of the priorities, on the bottom of the list.

                                               
Roack an mound left behind.
                       

                                                      


   The circumstances are ironic in a real sense as the past has seen the sealing of old mines and a general neglect of the old coke ovens. Progress must continue, yet it pushes the treasures of old industrial history aside, even as that very industry polluted our landscape with mine drainage and helped to bury the former heritage even deeper. Obviously with the digging up around the old roads in Upper Tyrone, some of which at this moment make them almost unusable, just patched up with gravel, especially if they are not even bothering to checking this out with archeological experts, that is surely the case. Needs of that stature could be further addressed in many communities.

                                     


                                                    
Alley work.
                                                                  


                                            


     Of course, this is not to claim the upgrades do not need to be done or the company does not hire contractors capable of doing a proper job. The wisdom in commencing the operations in the middle of winter is, nevertheless, up for debate, as are other factors as well.  The stark truth contains the hard kernel that some disruption must take place, even at our  own expense. To a point. As for the Municipal Authority of Westmorleand County, if you take the time to read the basic regulations, they do make this available in a fifty-three page PDF file. Although this is only pertinent to water lines and not sewage, an interesting aside concerns a statement on page 9, No. 37, "The Authority will install and maintain at its own cost all service line connections ...and maintain all service lines from the mains to and including the curb stop and service box which will be placed inside the curb or property line", etc. Apparently this is difficult enough to comprehend and somehow does not include this upgrading work taking place now which supposedly includes some water lines. Don't ask me, ask them!Sifting through the descriptions of the various services and rules is probably not a task for the average consumer to grasp, whatever organization we are examining. Maybe they can make a decent explanation of the whole mess. Maybe somewhere they have and I just haven't seen it.

     In a cursory reading, statements to this effect appear to put the cost on the company, hardly the consumer. That may depend on what is being discussed at a given time and place and under what conditions. Maybe some of the following paragraphs allow for some kind of adjustment of the previous condition. All I can say is, I am not a lawyer and in reading at the website, you might need to be one to comprehend all the ifs, ands, buts and round about language referred to. Being this is more connected to water issues, the argument supplied above may be immaterial and not specifically applicable. So be it. Yet how is it that distribution piping and treatment plants could be a new charge for consumers to bear, if that is the case? One wonders exactly how this comes about.

      Sorry about the quality of many of the pipe work photos. Some were taken on rainy days.                            

Sewage work near Duraloy

                                                                             



Large pipes to install at Dexter Road.


    Is this really overreacting on my part? To arrive closer to the heart of the matter from my own simple perspective, I share the guilt. Since writing about the McClure road construction and being later told it is in early stages, so not to worry. That's another thing. Here, I hadn't realized what was going on, not reacting swiftly enough, and my influence is not all that influential to do what newspapers and local governments, historical societies and PA archeological establishments can. We have tried to make some effort to pass on these concerns.

    I'm not too different than anyone else. I find myself dealing with new medical insurance issues, transportation woes and unusual job decisions of some magnitude and the usual projects in my personal life lately. Evidently there is not the proper oversight needed to tackle and control a situation we find ourselves in agreed upon by county commissioners. For the sake of completeness, the township officials in Upper Tyrone on the fairly new Sewage Authority there are:  Jess Keller, Paul Kendi, Barry Whoric, and Stanely Borek. That's what I have read, anyway. Some of the technicalities are clearly beyond the scope of this article and I am not expert enough to attempt such an explanation to any real satisfaction. That must be addressed by contacting the governing bodies involved.

                                             
Black tarps during last winter.



                                                           

   Hopefully this lone voice is not the only one making complaints, perhaps there are others. Please inform me if you know of anybody else that is on the periphery. I would be happy to have the knowledge and congratulate those persons or entities standing up to be counted.


   One of the key points of this post concerns not just the noise pollution, the machinery up and down the village roads clanking along, the legacy of layers of dust, the mounds of dirt left in people's yards, sometimes with trees and bushes destroyed. That may some day be rectified. But the sad lack of oversight considering the regions vaunted historical significance is most upsetting. One would assume that along the way this constant digging and drilling has or will come upon structure, ancient items, and occasionally, bones that are not only being misplaced and tampered with, probably ignored as so much junk in the way of...PROGRESS. It could be people were better off in the days of outhouses. Well, then again, maybe not!


    Historical Research in the Process of Possible Destruction

    The danger appeared to be at the brink of calamity as they considered work very near to the old structure on the south bank of Jacobs Creek in Fayette County. That is a personal pet project of mine.  If this was indeed the case, it would be appalling. I have recently noted that they appear to be backing away from significant changes in that narrow locality and one can only hope it remains this way. It can be difficult to ask a direct question and be sure of receiving a straight answer. Maybe that depends on who is asking what organization the question at what time.

   An urgent call needs to be made to citizens and caring residents of these communities to inspect the situation for themselves. Nothing less will do to bring a stop to wanton damage of great and meaningful historical implications. If no one gets involved all I can say at this time is: you have been fairly warned. The Turkey Foot Road beds and the routes of the Braddock Road nearby are perhaps the most noticeable features of our old landscape for attention. They are far from the only ones; they appear to be the most significant. Much of this has been previously covered on other posts with handy links above.

                                             
A case of bumpy road conditions. How long until fixed?


..Unfortunately, except for a few conversations and emails, one with state archeologist, Chris Espenshade on the Penn Dot future road construction, gaining an appreciable interest of the proper authorities has not been achieved in any serious fashion. And that is actually an understatement, folks. Personally, there simply hasn't been much success in the aims and needs of having this region examined archeologically, however briefly, let alone minutely on a professional level. I am not alone in this. Cassandra Vivien, author and holder of many positions, particularly in Mount Pleasant, is one person that comes to mind who has voiced frustration in the recent past.

   To sum up, we are seeing a loss of our heritage under the bulldozer and backhoe. To the auspices of those in power  caution is urged. Instead, this looks like a complicit agreement to overrun the land to a certain extent, regardless of the consequences and circumstances in which it is being performed, as long as the job gets done. I want to show some extra empathy with those visitors grueling it out to the end of the article.

  Many of you are watching and observing, sometimes complaining, as taking place in these digs and improvements is a general disregard for historical implications in these parts. Check the authorities that be and voice your important grievances. The seriousness of the problem demands concern. Personally, I predict the historical worries to eventually be ignored, and worse, forgotten. Not to be too gloomy, but it isn't a case lined with much optimism. Experience echoes the reality. The main decisions to get this project to a conclusion appears to be all that really matter toward the price of our heritage. OH, and the prices of sewage and water continue to climb. I've heard various figures. There is a missing formula in their equation: the rights of the people to be represented better than we are at this time in our very own backyards.

    So, our past will be dug up and then covered back and partly patched back up with the approval of the county and township councilors. Those who are there to support us and look after the best interests need to take a second look at things. Granted, times have certainly changed. Consequently, things are very different in every avenue of our fast paced lives. And as most of us well know, not always to our liking or immediate benefit.

    

   NOTE:

    If any of this material is technically incorrect, the blog has tried to get most of it straight and I think it goes without saying, this is hardly the easiest subject to convey to the public in meticulous detail by an outside source. I apologize to anybody if there are any inaccuracies. Again, I have attempted to get it across as best as was able to.

  Hopefully, the next upload will focus on a subject more upbeat and to the taste of all the history buffs out there.


    A Personal Word

   I'm really glad many of you have shown enjoyment and interest with the last post uploaded. There is also a nice surprise in receiving contact and page views for old posts, some with the warts of inexperience and spontaneity openly exposed, competing for attention with the dates, facts. and figures

   Thank you for continuing to offer a word of encouragement and occasionally passing on your own heartfelt stories and knowledge from the places where you live!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Fort of Necessity: Histbuffer's Photo Blog

    In what will be termed Part One, the background history of the Fort Necessity National Battlefield site  was covered. This included information in creating the reconstructed fort and correlating a smattering of old photos.

   The second segment documents a first hand experience on a blustery Veteran's Day not too many months ago.  Actually, time really flies and this was late last autumn. A particularly special day was chosen, and you will soon discover why.

   I was out and about near Farmington on Route 40, the National Road in Wharton township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. I was in the process of a personal jaunt to buy a few books and chat to the rangers while getting some candid photos to show for F/WFH.

  Maybe the sights will encourage you to take a trip to Fort Necessity for yourselves. Remember, Braddock's Grave and Jumonville and the Washington Tavern are close by! Sit back, take a few minutes from a busy day and as I certainly did, revel in the history of the place.



                                    
Heading up the Summit


                                                


                                     
Anyone for the Fort Necessity National Battlefield?



The new Visitor Center of the National Park Service  opened in 2005


                               








A photo inside the Visitor Center at the Fort Necessity Battlefield
               
    The site was named a National Battlefield by Congress on March 4, 1931 and later transferred to the National Park Service. On October 15, 1966 the battlefield was listed on The National Register of Historic Places, and by



                       
A quiet bench to recall and ponder the fact that George Washington himself, a Colonel in the British army while fighting this sadly losing effort, owned the land for many years.




                          



A dapper fellow indeed



           Yes, these photos were taken on Veteran's Day.                             


A Veteran's Day gathering of reenactors
                      
                              

     This early battle of the French and Indian War was lost by the British forces.
                                               


                                              


A close up of the 1970's reconstruction of Fort Necessity
                                   


                                    



                                            
Making a chilly camp in wartime.


All major war eras were represented by these patriotic fellows
                                             


                                           


                                          
A well provided visitor map of the grounds.



Histbuffer pondering...what else? HISTORY

                                
                                     

The pathway leading to Ft. Necessity


                                   





A tempest was brewing above the meadow
                                        





                                         



Supplies of rum, flour and gunpowder inside the fort's storehouse

                                        


Outer redoubt


                                          


Small canon
                                               

                                             
Indian Run

     The Indian tribes in collusion with France were comprised of the Huron, (or Wyandot), Nipissing, Odawa (or Ottawa), the Abenaki and Shawnee. Most of these lived near the Ontario region of what is now Canada.
                                             

The surrounding woods rang with the skirmish of July 3, 1754.

                                          


                                                
Ye ole bridge


     And finally...


                                  
Taking a moment scaring a few children

     (Um, just kidding about terrorizing any kids; for the record. Fortunately there weren't any around at the moment!)

                                                



     Well this was a part of the trip long overdue, specifically undertaken to a justly famed location. Here's hoping folks got some enjoyment from the experience mixed with rich educational underpinnings.

      To sum up, for a touch of edification , I included a couple of photos for the trip back north, the last two as part of the official National Battlefield: :

                       
The historic Stone House

                                      
A slightly earlier story in the life of George Washington

                            
                                      



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