Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sewage Update

    The new post on the sewage pipelines in Fayette County, specifically, Upper Tyrone Township, and the effect this might have on the region's historical preservation is in the process of being updated.

     I apologize to getting a couple of facts wrong. Actually, the explanations were partly garbled in key places and not necessarily anyone's fault. Still this needs to be corrected to adjust the material with the added information. It will be back up soon folks!

    Thanks for the understanding and having some patience.

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


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Milestone: 100,000 Hits!

      I am uploading a quick, brief post for early to mid-March for reaching the milestone of 100,000 page views. Alright! Don't feel cheated in any way. Although on a small scale, this is decidedly a necessary celebration at F/WFH!

 A few points are in order.

    It took well over three years. It may not sound like much in comparison to some highly popular blogs, but I feel a true sense of meaning in getting to this pinnacle. Actually since thinking of whether to share this or not, I noticed the page views are nearly 104,000. Bit of a fast jump. Apparently this is a tad redundant, huh? Oh, well, it's a good thing.

    You know, the truth is I hadn't given the idea a lot of thought, it just happened. Well, 25,000...50,000...nice, sure. Maybe it can be taken for granted too easily. One would suppose, you do eventually get there after all. We won't bother delving into the various posting history, that's east enough to discover for yourselves. There are updates along the way that add such perspectives.

    In a way, the more I considered it, I find myself experiencing a degree of pride and accomplishment to of gotten this far. There is a slow but steady awareness akin to mild surprise that comes with the territory: gaining a slow yet sure momentum over the years and months in the endeavor to create, sustain and hold in place a dynamic blog on local and regional historical topics. We have indeed lasted this long and I hope many of you who have stopped in or spent a fair amount of time checking the posts have found some enjoyment, a few jolts of reality and learned something about southwestern Pennsylvania. Such was the simple goals designed from the start.

   As has surely been done before, but could use repeating, I want to express a sincere and heartfelt gratitude for your patronage and time spent here on this site. On a personal level, I really do enjoy the interaction from comments, fellow colleagues and inquiring emails, so please continue and possibly raise the level of your important feedback, OK? For this I would thank all of you ahead of time.
   Make no mistake, everything here has been thoroughly enjoyed in the blog writing process. This isn't nirvana, it hasn't been perfect. I do try to make the subject matter reasonable and worthwhile.

   We are NOT done. There is more to come, while there are even a couple of posts that need finalized from Part One and a Part Two. Grand ideas are in draft form and there are fresh goals fro me to  attempt. I love providing this service to the public. Enough tooting my own horn.

     Now check back soon. I believe you won't be disappointed!


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Fort of Necessity

   Right at the start, I want to get it in that I am in the process of celebrating...


   Now, I hope you are at least aware of the holiday for what still matters to some people. The story of Fort Necessity fits the occasion almost down to a tee.

   All the visitors to the site are sincerely appreciated and I hope you are all doing fine.

   As is natural, we have broadened out over the years in to various area of interest. But, since we have gone some months without a new post specifically concerning those events in old Westmoreland and Fayette counties of southwestern Pennsylvania which originally brought the blog to your attention, I am aware of a certain impression a fair percentage of visitors are anxious to read more of our own locality. With that thought in mind, starting today, the next few posts should, with one minor exception, lead directly in that familiar and cherished territory.

   On another note, further historical information of a general sort (that wasn't meant as a pun) can easily be found on an early blog posting entitled, "French and Indian War Overview." Actually, I did this one in December of 2013, that's how old it is, but hopefully not completely forgotten!

   One point I continue to make is, never lose faith! 'Fayette/Westmoreland Forgotten History' does eventually get around to most of the promises and claims it makes in one fashion or another. You know what I say, it does take some time.

  Some Background

 This week, we are concentrating on Fort Necessity and Washington's role in it's creation, the battle fought here, and his love of the region in purchasing the property, kept in his possession until his death.


  This special reconstruction is located east of Uniontown, Wharton Township, at the Great Meadows. Go south on Route 40, you won't miss it. This is the history of the fort, as well as a commentary of how it was rebuilt and the prominent Sons of The Revolution who were instrumental in the exciting process.

  In early years, Fourth of July celebrations were held there, also at the Old Orchard Camp of Braddock's Road, according to pages 11-13 of 'Fort Necessity And Historic Shrines Of The Redstone Country', which I am fortunate to own an old copy of in reasonable condition. Some of the photos included are from this vintage book.

   Some historical underpinnings are required to better explain aspects of this cherished and unique structure, how the original came to exist in the past, and again in the future of this state and country.

  The New Fort

  The cornerstone for a monument was first laid in 1854.

  In attempt to accomplish this project various bills were introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature, only to die in committee for one reason or another, mainly for a sad lack of interest.

   The author of 'Historical Highways', the famous Dr. Archer Hulbert, visited the locality in 1905 finding the structue's elusive fourth side , unearthing a part of the bark believed to be from the original stockade and therefore helped to lay out the probable shape of the fort. The fort's actual position was confirmed by Rueben Gold Thwaites.

  Key members of the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons Of The American Revolution of Uniontown proceeded by a joint resolution of Congress, created the George Washington Bicentennial Commission on December 2, 1924 when they initially met to iron out all the details. Present were luminaries such as J. E. Hustead, who became the first President, J. C. Whaley, and others. Once the application for a Charter was made and presented, the Uniontown Country Club was secured for the Benefit and first Banquet on La Fayette's birthday, September 6, 1926. This was soon granted and approved on Lincoln's birthday, Febuary 12, 1927. Thus the Chapter was formed on the same day as the Banquet with many toasts all around.

Early photo of the Ft. Necessity battlefield site

  The first Vice-President was Harry J. Bell, he Secretary, J. C. Whaley Sr., with the Treasurer, Homer Hess. Many other prominent officials were involved, such as the National Geographic Director, Rulef C. Schanck.

  Once this took place, later the Chapter was incorporated on December 16 of the year 1930. It soon acquired 23 acres of prime real estate for the Braddock Memorial Park Association and donated a bronze tablet and $1,000 toward the restoration. Obvious it is, how urgent and important our historical data, restoration and preservation was in these heady glory days.

  Interestingly, to myself, although I haven't any proof these were relatives or ancestors, original chapter members included the likes of Clarence L. Wilson and L.L. Minor, as well as Judge Hudson Allen Beeson a descendant of Henry Beeson and James Veech himself. Who knows, an ancestor may be in the mix somewhere. Possibly one of YOURS!

   .The National Society of the Sons of the Revolution was called 'The Minuteman'.

  Through the project's efforts  they sent Dick Sherrick among others to purchase the farm of Walter Fazen Baker for the sum of $25,000. This had a large area of 234 acres for a National ans State Shrine and Park. Compatriot President Hoover signed a bill to forward this reality on March 4, 1931. On the 200th Anniversary of George Washington's birth, they successfully passed the resolution.

   Altogether, the members raised a whopping $4, 550. A pretty sum back then.

    The magnificent land was finally deeded to the country and especially the great State of Pennsylvania on March 21, 1932., which disbanded and dissolved the Braddock Park Memorial Commission through this endeavor.

   The Great Meadows also had and still has a DAR Chapter that help look after the grounds in various ways.

Fort Necessity monument

   On July Fourth it was once a tradition to hold old celebrations at the grove behind the Fayette Springs Hotel. By the way, the Old Orchard Cap was called Braddock Park, near where General Braddock was hastily buried and later re-buried.

  A Report On The Battle of the Fort

    While the French had made their claim on the Ohio River Valley region as their own and preceded to influence many of the Indian tribes and drive out English traders, a young George Washington had already been engaged in midwinter of 1753-1754, in a futile effort which supported the plans from a large land grant for the Ohio Company centered in Wills Creek, Cumberland, Maryland, as emissary to the northern french forts. The warning was, of course, unsuccessful. The efforts to build a fort at what would become Pittsburgh at the forks of the Ohio found the small Virginian force outnumbered and driven away. Fort Duquesne was built in its place. Clearly, they were here to stay.

    After Colonel Washington and the Half-King Tanacharison's infamous Battle of Jumonville against likely spies, the stakes were set for the next engagement of what is known as the French and Indian War, (and in Europe, the Seven Years' War). The only battle lost by Washington, his lone surrender, and this took place on July 3, in the year, 1754. More can be learned at the Fort Necessity website of the National Park Service.

     By all accounts this was a circular palisaded stockade of seven foot upright logs covered with bark and hides surrounding a small hut for ammo and various provisions made ready by early June, altogether his men came to nearly 400, while most of the Indian support had left the field. Unfortunately, the provisioning was hardly adequate. The French had as many as 700 men including their Indian allies which positioned themselves in the woods; Washington's forces remained in the drenched entrenchments with wet ammunition and meager supplies; not a situation in which to court victory.

An engraving of Washington in Council, from the Darlington Collection

     The number of the enemy was said to be at 700, which doesn't necessarily include all the Indians on the side of the French, while with the 100 of Captain Mackay's regiment there said to be as many as were 400. The toll of the dead was thought to be 30 dead and many wounded on the British side, and as many as 300 dead for the French. This would help explain why the French were so eager to parley with the new Lieutenant-Colonel Washington for negotiations.

    After the surrender, the negotiations led to a mistake in that his interpreter apparently didn't read french properly, Washington certainly could not, and the translated statement of 'killing" of Jumonville was taken to read "assassination", which Washington strongly denied. Such a condition may of been partly arranged by the leader of the french contingent and Jumonville's  older brother, Louis Coulon de Villiers seeking revenge. The fort was quickly emptied. What a blow this must have been to young George, the future general and Commander in Chief! We can rest assured he never forgot any of the experience. The Fort of Necessity was then burned on July, 4.

    De Villers went on to make an exciting attack on Fort Granville in the summer of 1756. He died the next year, in November, of small pox.

    The next year for the colonists was to see the building of Braddock's Road and the defeat of his forces at Baaddock's Field. That would not be the last word written on the subject, not by a whole lot.

   Mount Washington, the name given to the site of the battle and fort by Washington himself, was purchased by him in 1770 for the price of 35 pounds, 55 shillings. Our great general and first President owned the land until his solemn death on December 14, 1799. The Great Meadows were said by Theodore Tilton to be 'the Fountain Head of American Independence.' Who, then, would we be to argue with this bold, patriotic statement?


  As of late, the habit converges on two-parters. Since that seems to works well and I haven't heard any real complaints, there is no reason it can't continue a while longer. You shouldn't have much of a problem with the subject in question because the next installment does contain a certain surprise factor. That, and the fact that the graphically intensive photo opportunities are better suited to something less than a very long post. And, hey, everything just loads quicker too. So, wait and see!

 More To Come... 


Monday, February 6, 2017

Excursion To Bedford Part Two

     Now after checking Founders Crossing, and rather wisely avoiding Gardner's Candies, somehow  skipping the Bedford County Visitors Bureau - we headed to the big flea market, Hoe-E-Geez on Bedford Plaza Road, from Route 31. Partly being anxious from observing the rather 'pricey' establishment mentioned above, and the fact that there wasn't much in the way of historic locales, I simply didn't bother with many photos.

     But wait! I got a few deals. Well not exactly deal per se. The prices are closely calculated, it's just that there might be items to even up on which are interesting enough for which the purchase is worth laying down some money. And that's what I did. I was on vacation and money was burning a small hole in my pocket.

    First, here are the Bedford Museum Gift Shop purchases:                  

Had to have the name sake tee shirt

    The book on the left, below wasn't exactly cheap, Scoroudy, basically consisting of James Smith's journal and description of his capture by the Mohicans and adventures with the 'Black Boys.' So I had to have it. The one on the right was nicely informative.

I was surprised to get this fine shirt for almost a pittance.

A few old coins are always up my alley.

Fort Bedford Museum gift shop receipt
        Below are most of the little items I brought home from Hoke-E-Geez flea market:
Fake Esen medal and Barber quarter

Yes, that is an Edison bottle on the right


Well this is W. C. Fields after all. Gotta love his old movies.
        Sometimes I can be a bit of a sucker:                              

A Statue of Liberty...thermometer.

A once famed book, the Life of Washington

           Don't worry, I sure didn't pay near what this fine book is normally worth since the spine was heavily damaged. Still look at it, not bad.
Oldie, but a goodie.

Ten WW2 German Marks.

          I hope nothing important was left out.
      Last, but not least, we headed back into Somerset County and this time detoured our way to the south through Brothersvalley and into Summit township to locate a region where my maternal great grandfather once lived...

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