Monday, August 22, 2016

George C. Marshall of Uniontown

    Note: As many of you likely know, I have been in the habit for well over a year of publishing posts on a Sunday. Well folks,  this time around, I just decided to forego the habit providing another chapter on Uniontown on a Monday instead.
                                       

                      The above photo of George C. Marshall is from 1946
                     

      George Catlett Marshall was surely the most famous and influential human being ever born in Uniontown, the county seat of Fayette County, Pennsylvania.


      Early Career and History

      George Marshall arrived in this world and his hometown on New Year's Eve, December 31, 1880, the son of George Marshall and Laura (Bradford) Marshall. Later in life he married Elizabeth Carter Coles, in 1902. After the death of Elizabeth, he married his second wife, Katherine Boyce Tupper in 1930.

     Marshall was a member of the Episcopal Church; his Alma mater was the Virginia Military Institute. In college he was a VMI Keydets tackle on the All American Southern Team and was later commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the army. George saw action in the Philippine-American campaign of World War One, the Western Front and later under General John Pershing in the Muese-Argonne Offensive helping to defeat the German Army.

   . In 1916 he returned to America to be aide-de-camp of the commander of the Western Department and former Chief of Staff, Major general J Franklin Bell. Eventually he returned to duty for mobilization of the First Division in France and from there Marshall became connected with directing training and operations in planning strategic military attacks. In World War Two he was closely involved in the Chinese Civil War arena and working closely with the War Department in various positions and functions, too many to be related in the scope of this article. He was promoted to brigadier general in October of 1936 and was made Chief of Staff in 1939. He received five star rank in December of 1944.


    Although criticized for some of his choices and his perceived delays in the Pearl harbor Attack, after his time as instructor of the War College, he was instrumental in recommending American generals to top commands. The list includes the famed George Patton, future President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the gifted Omar Bradley.

   During a storied career in the U.. S. army, from 1902-1959 he received many awards. Among these were the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Bronze Star, Silver Star, the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (Great Britain), the Grand Cross Legion of Honor (France), the United States Congressional Gold Medal and in 1953, the Nobel Peace Prize for the plan of recovery for Western Europe. He also received numerous foreign military honors and decorations as well.

    Marshall became the 50th Secretary of State, and was also the United States Army Chief of Staff, and the third Secretary of the Defense Department. Winston Churchill was gave him the moniker, "organizer of victory" for his success in leadership of the Allied Forces. He became the chief military advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

    After a commencement speech at Harvard University in June, 1947, where he suggested the Europeans should properly devise their own economic plan of rebuilding with assistance from the United States, his name was given to the Marshall Plan which was developed by the State Department. He kept a home in Leesburg, Virginia known as Dodona Manor.

   Describing his unique abilities and role, Orson Wells may have said it best, when in an interview  he emphatically stated, " Marshall is the greatest man I ever met...a tremendous gentleman, an old fashioned institution that isn't with us anymore."

   The general was portrayed in at least nine movies, including 'Saving Private Ryan', a 1998 film starring Tom Hanks. Many streets and buildings across America are named in his honor, which was well deserved. Nearby, in Uniontown we have the Marshall Elementary School. Also quite a few books were written about him and foundations were created through his influence, patronage and prestige.

  This was certainly a native born son we can all be particularly proud of, especially in our neck of the woods!

   General George C. Marshall subsequently died in Washington D. C. on October 16, 1959 at the age of 78. He was buried in Arlington Cemetery in Virginia.

                         


   Marshall never forgot how special his hometown was to him; when fielding questions from reporters on a visit during WW2, he deflected their questions to observations of the historic landmarks of the city-a place of fond memories he always treasured with great attachment.

                                   

    A bronze statue of George C. Marshall stands in Uniontown at the corner of Main and Pittsburgh streets at the Memorial Park named after him, the birthplace of this great man and military genius.



    John Marshall

  George Marshall was a distant relative of John Marshall, a former Chief Justice of the United States and leader of the Federalist Party. To provide a brief synopsis of his life, Chief Justice John Marshall, a descendant of colonist William Randolph, was born in a log cabin close to Germantown, Virginia on September 24, 1755. During the years 1782 to 1795, he held an array of offices, mostly political. Working his way up in position, he became Secretary of State in 1800 and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1801.


Chief Justice John Marshall, 1832
                                               
    This Marshall spent one year at Cambell Academy with  a certain classmate also named 'John'. In fact it was future President, John Monroe.

   As John was growing up, his idol was said to be none other than our most famous general, George Washington. Washington was a friend of his father, Thomas Marshall, land surveyor of Lord Fairfax. At the age of twenty, Washington so inspired young John Marshall at the beginning of the Revolutionary War that he entered the Culpepper Minutemen, a state militia. He was duly appointed lieutenant.The unit was then absorbed into Virginia's Continental Army 11th Regiment where they soon achieved success and he was then promoted to an officer of the 3rd Regiment under the authority of Colonel Morgan.

Marshall's depiction on the 1890 $20 Treasury Note

       He was active in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown where he was wounded in the hand. At Valley Forge he was made the chief legal advisor to General Washington. In a visit to Yorktown where his father was stationed, he met Mary Willis Ambler, his future bride. In 1780 he studied law at the college of William and Mary at Williamsburg. He was sent to the state convention as a delegate to ratify the Constitution in 1788, and among other notable achievements, Marshall was an envoy on a diplomatic mission to France; in 1799 was elected to the House of Representatives and was Secretary of State under John Adams. He joined the Supreme Court in 1801, and was heralded as the fourth Chief Justice in the history of the young country, later to develop into the greatest in the world. While Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he was instrumental in many high profile landmark cases, helping to define the law in the pivotal historical processes of early America.

    A unique man exemplifying courageous qualities in an amazing time; John Marshall served faithfully until his death in Philadelphia on July 6, 1835 when the Liberty Bell was rung to honor his funeral procession at a ripe old age. There is a park and a marker at his birthplace where his home once stood, near Midland, Virginia.


     Thanks for visiting. As always, any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Please return to my site for further adventures in regional history!

           

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Intimating Irwin

   Yes, in case you are wondering, it took a minute or two to find a proper header for this one.

  The Borough

    Although the Borough of Irwin was claimed to of begun in simple form at an earlier date, from Jacktown Hill to Veterans Bridge, it was incorporated back in 1864. Located on Route 30 twenty-two miles southeast of Pittsburgh and nearly a square mile in size, the borough lies near the geographical center of North Huntington township. The township holds the honor of being a part of Westmoreland County when it was created out of Bedford in 1773.

                   


   The Forbes Road lay to the north and the Braddock Road was further to the southwest, but as a Reverend Dietrich once pointed out in no uncertain terms, this did not deter early settlers from finding in the Brush Creek Valley between the Big Sewickley Creek and Turtle Creek an ideal position for living quarters: "It must have been an inspiring sight to view its winding expanse from some high ridge as the lone explorer crossed the surrounding water-shed to see the irregular hills and dales, carpeted with the original forests in shades of green and brown."

   In a rather unique situation with the unanimous decision of the council in 2013, the borough purchased the Lamp Theater from The Westmoreland Cultural Trust for the price of one whole dollar to hold on to a grant for $500,000 while matching the funds needed for this acquisition. Quite a feat in itself. Last year they even drew in a big talent from this region with The Clark's.

   One mile to the west of the Pennsylvania Turnpike they perform quality Concerts in the Park at the Irwin Park Amphitheater, properly enough named, precisely at 6:30 in the milder months of the year. This has been taking place, without fail, (as far as I am aware), for twenty-six years to date. These concerts bring in talent from all around the region and are FREE to the public to attend and enjoy, (brought to you by the Irwin Civic Activities Committee).

  

                               
Downtown Irwin looking north from Main and Fourth Street intersections

                              

 As the borough developed into the late 1800's, later concerns of Irwin centered around the large coal deposits, the Westmoreland Coal, controlled by George Ross Scull, and the Penn Gas Coal companies being two examples, while iron foundries, mills and the mirror factories helped build Irwin into a booming town putting it firmly on the map. The modern population hovers near the 4,000 resident mark.

  If there is one thing going for Irwin today, they have a good choice in restaurants-the Firepit, Cenacolo and the Arena Sports Grille know how to serve up a meal! The town also does a big Annual Christmas House Tour in December.

   A Piece of Local Heritage

   Brush Hill, the former Scull House was named for John Irwin Scull who married his daughter, Mary and became the founder of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. This historic mansion was first built in 1798. Incorporating the once popular Federal Era type architecture, the structure itself said to be made of fieldstone and sandstone. The particular style used associates the site with classicism of Regency, (late Georgian), and french Empire architecture closely connected to ideals of the early American republic which derived much of its founding aspirations from ancient Greece and Rome. For those with more than a casual interest, famous architects of the style included Benjamin Latrobe, Thomas Jefferson and Charles Bulfinch. In the 1950's the place was upgraded from a state of disrepair by a denist, Dr. John Hudson. "Brush Hill" was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

    Later, according to a Tribune-Review article from December of 2007,  Brush Hill house was further restored by owners Don and Dilly Miller. During renovation some archaic finds were made.

 Nearby Indian Paths

   More particular material may be found at irwinborough.org. As the good Reverend further related, the township was conveniently crossed through with the four important Indian trails of Nemacolin at Circleville running to the Mon river eastward and then south to Scottdale and on through Dunbar's Gap to the Great Meadows; the Allegheny-Laurel Hill Trail which in the east found it's origin at old Shannopin's Town traveling west near the Allegheny River through Pittsburgh to Ligonier and to Bedford, which he correctly explains was the basic route of Forbes' army in the eventful year of 1758.

   Then there are the lesser trails through New Florence and the Ligonier Valley southward and a trail north of New Kensington heading to the Juniata and on to the Susquehanna river system. Of course, later this was on the "great road" of the Lincoln Highway and a part of the first railroad, the Pennsylvania R x R, in fact.

  Colonel John Irwin

    Saving information that may well be the best for last, the founder of the town was John Irwin, born to James and Jane Irwin in 1811. Through the inheritance of his father's lands he soon became a leading merchant and the most prominent member of the early community.

    Colonel John Irwin was born in Ireland in 1740 and arrived in the colonies in the year 1762. The gentleman in question was known to be at Fort Pitt in 1766, while he may of seen some action there as he was the army's Chief Commisary Officer and was stationed here for a time. After the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, an early settler of Westmoreland County, he made the purchase of the Brush Hill tract at the mouth of Bushy Run to the south near Fort Walthour. He then proceeded to build a cabin near the 'Scull House' to the east of Irwin later occupied by his grandson. While there, he became a trader, mostly in the lucrative fur market with the nearby Indian folk. It was also burned by the Indian raids in 1782.

  Finally, John lived in a stone house near the year 1792 and took up permanent residence after his other establishments had burned to the ground. In spite of these conditions he was the Deputy Commissioner for the Western Divison of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, naturally a proud reminder of the origins of this location. By 1821, in infirm health, he resigned his illustrious position as Associate Justice of Westmoreland County and died in 1822.

   It was the colonel's nephew of the same name that founded the borough of Irwin.

   In 1783, his brother James came to America and joined John in this region and created what was to become Jacktown or Jacksonville. By the creation and opening of the Pittsbugh and Greensburg Road, the place gained advantages as a stagecoach stop and developed a sense of early business, and by becoming a toll road in 1816, the boom of progress slowly, yet inexorably began.

  Thus we have noted another part of our exciting Fayette/Westmoreland history.

 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Uncovering Uniontown Part 1: A Princess In Uniontown

 Introduction

   This post is Part One of a planned series on Uniontown, the county seat of Fayette County, Pennsylvania. 

   Instead of accessing and addressing the large volume of information and much of the routine, though meaningful material tirelessly researched, and then adding my own insights on various aspects of the old city, we will be examining what I feel are the more fascinating historical subjects in reasonably sized installments. Hopefully this will be appropriate in avoiding overly large articles with many chunks of data stretching endlessly to the bottom of the page and help hold the visitor's interest more easily.

   A Princess In Uniontown, really?

   Yes, indeed there was... once upon a time.

   Read on for this exciting true story:


   Princess Lida of Thurn and Taxis, as she became known, was not born a princess. Her life spanned the years 1875-1965. She was an American heiress and socialite and was later considered a bit on the controversial side, especially when it came to lawsuits and the actions as well as some of the personal dealings of her sons.

   Her husband was Prince Victor, 1976-1928, whom she married on November 1, or as some accounts have it, on Nov. 2nd in the year 1911. (These facts are verified partly according to the New York Times, Feb. 16, 1914 and other articles).

    Through her first marriage she became Mrs. Gerald Fitzgerald, but her birth name was Lida Eleanor Nichols of Uniontown, in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Her first husband was Gerald Percival Fitzgerald of Ireland whom she met in 1899. When he moved to Fayette County he set up the small town of Shamrock, near New Salem in Menallen Township. They later divorced in 1906 with Lida receiving a large alimony settlement from Parliament to make the arrangements of the final separation legal.  In her rather humbler beginnings, this lady was the daughter of a grocer, John Nichols, and his wife Lenora.

     Lida Eleanor Nichols, later to become the illustrious Princess Lida, was the niece of Joseph V. Thompson, a big banker and coal operator of his time.

     Her second husband's full name was, according to the new princess, 'Victor Theodore Maximilian Egon Maria Lamoral.'  This was the identifying name she showed proof of in court when she went to London to sue Josephine Moffat, a New York showgirl pretending to royalty as "Her Royal Highness Josephine", who wrongly claimed the title of Princess of Thurn and Taxis. These kinds of happenings were great fodder in the heady days of the early twentieth century, and all the more so since this woman was a phony, pure and simple, losing the injunction to the real Princess with a penalty of $500.

                 

    The region of Thurn and Taxis actually has a board game named after it! The princely coat of arms shows two red dragons and two castles; this certainly makes plenty of sense in representing two cities; it also show an animal, possibly a badger, in the middle. Sorry, no armorial lingo is being included here.

   Some Historical Background on Thurn and Taxis

     The capital of the district was the once Imperial city Regensberg of Bavaria, once a sovereign principality before 1806 and losing its noble status after the fall of the German Empire in 1918. They were also Knights of the Order of the Golden Fleece, a Catholic order of chivalry founded in 1430. The order still exists in two branches, Spanish and Austrian. It appears the historic style of the title for the prince is "His Serene Highness." Quite impressive. Would this mean Lida's title was "Her Serene Highness"?

   Except for a minimal amount of time for the most part, she moved to the Austrian Republic to be with her husband in Europe and only returned for a while when Prince Victor became an officer of the Austro-Hungarian Army at the start of World War One and headed back to Europe by 1920. Following the death of Prince Victor in Vienna, she spent her time alternating between her residences in New York City, Uniontown and in Europe.

           

   While residing in Uniontown her home, shown above, was at the corner of South Mount Vernon Avenue and West Main Street. She died in New York at the age of 90 on December 6, 1965. Most of her art, antiques and valuables were sold at auction in 1966.

    I'll be back soon with another post on our amazing, and sometimes, illustrious history.

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Cluttered Nook

  Hello again, good folks! 

 
   I decided to upload a little perspective originating from my tiny world of computer land, basically consisting of what is usually considered a 'regular' blog post.

   In this instance, visitors to the site will get a glimpse of the kind of experimental treatment seen...somewhere ELSE, but only rarely here, I am quick to add. Please don't expect me to modernize to a greater extent as it just isn't my way and would probably be counter productive. I seriously doubt you would want to see it change to such a large extent. Nor do we get the impression that would be a requirement. THIS is a 1 Time event. There aren't even any links, imagine that!

   For those of you that are only browsing through, this is a blog about old history, ancestry and lost times in Westmoreland and Fayette counties of southwestern Pa. in the good ol' US of A; with dates, names and places. I also chose to include a degree of local tradition and culture. OK, I hope that is a close enough definition of what normally takes place where you are at this moment.

Attempt at a 'Normal' Blog Post:

   Naturally, the working format is rarely tainted with a large splattering of humor, fifteen, no, sixteen  pics of cousins, tales of my personal triumphs and tragedies, endless gym work outs, quick exciting stops for slurpees, or how not to burn bacon. No casual info is included about the old china, recent barbecues, roof repair or wrecked cars. Nor is this a copycat rip off of money making, "how-to" forums. That is an explanation of what you won't find, and I am content most would NOT prefer to read such babble. As such things are always kept at a reasonable minimum and at arms length, people will have to search elsewhere for such tidbits, and those forums and blogs are available in spades, ad infinitum. For the moment this could be a refreshing change of pace. Just maybe. If there are any apologies to be made, I am in a lighter mood, and am not trying to offend anyone, only deciding to briefly indulge a whim by sharing another aspect of blogging.

 Thanks for taking some time out and spending some minutes with me here where I work privately and diligently on YOUR history and MINE. This has become more than a hobby to me and less than a career. And I hope no one is too bored with my inclusion of a personal glimpse of life. Do let me know. (Of course, it's a bit late to change things now that it's out of the bag, you understand!).

 What you see, and don't see on the photos:


   First of all, the photos are not the best; sorry about that. As dark as they appear, you are lucky to notice anything, so I do hope your eyesight is fairly keen.

  Yes, it's just an Acer computer you may observe there in the dim lighting, The same for the flat screen monitor and most of the wires loose and crawling like science fiction tentacles everywhere. They're alright and do get the job done, so calm down now, alright? I'll be careful not to get too tangled up and become one of the 'fallen and can't get up' unfortunates.Actually, a perfectly rid up and sparsely furnished social networking zone kind of turns me off. Too neat, shiny and unused looking.

               

   The computer is not exactly "NEW", and pretty much just a basic model from Walmart.  still we're dealing with 64 bit, with all the glut of ads, some obvious and some hidden in the start menu almost demanding I go on a reckless shopping spree for tons of brand new software and those forced passwords the moment I powered it up. What progress. At least they have allowed the opportunity to revamp the start menu so it is not so darn intrusive.

              


   Ah, the nostalgia for the simple 90's when I was learning about firewalls, adapters, clunky added gadgets and DOS. Ah well...never mind, then. Some go all the way with classy expensive programs and amazing graphics. I would remind people of an old adage called, "keeping costs down' and 'less is better.' Alright, 2 old adages. Point is, they don't interest me that much anyway, but I do find the usual stuff like PDF, Adobe and free anti-virus programs sufficient and well needed. A few newer software programs are nice, I'll grant that. I discovered flash drives and equipment like external hard drives long ago, so I'm not completely in the stone age, thank you.

  We have the fairly new Windows 8.1. Da-dah! H'mmm, I did try to love this BEFORE moving on, and like many, was kind of excited at first. But since this draft was first on the drawing board I've upgraded to Windows 10. Are there those here that feel it is an improvement? Regardless, I am definitely not a real fan of 8, though a few things appear to of improved in 10. I don't consider myself extremely savvy or technically sophisticated, you can clearly count me in for that skeptical movement;  and if asked, I generally use the newer versions of Firefox for added privacy and security, and Internet Explorer 11, finally more HTML5 compliant with hardware acceleration. I hesitate with the Chrome toolbar, though there are advantages to the speedy browser. In fact, there are almost too many browser types to become familiar with anymore. They also managed  to implement the Do Not Track service, mostly to keep up with Firefox. I am yet to use Maxthon, though it has good reviews for night viewing and compatibility.

   Anyway, I was upgrading from the dreaded, but beloved, XP back in early 2015. At least I upgrade when it is absolutely necessary, when there is no choice in the matter. I was so 'use to it' and the thorny little diagnostics needed to keep it in decent shape were an exercise in patience, geek forum instruction and memory, that does contain hidden dividends, you know. OK,  just being slightly testy and defensive, and you probably noted that.

   Have you ever experienced the following senario? I actually fixed a rebuilt computer once, Hewitt-Packard? (Why am I using a question mark? Again.). Um, I was made rather nervous when a tech at a nearby outlet strongly advised me to 'bring it in' or otherwise 'you'll be sorry' giving the non-reassuring and alarming advice that 'you won't be able to fix it' , especially 'All ON  YOUR  OWN' ! The barely veiled threats were replete with the image of blown circuitry, burnt plastic, melted keyboard, temper tantrums, horrible hacking, root kit troubles and so forth not to be contemplated by a sane human being. So, I took the insulting, rude challenge very seriously and put in the indefatigable and herculean effort of trying everything and slowly narrowing it down, (saving some money too),  and did it anyway. How about that, buddy! And so, with the extra software I practically demanded, I can pompously say I patched the problems up MYSELF and it ran for another whole year or so. Maybe it wasn't really worth the effort, BUT I was thrilled that I managed the achievement. You'd have to use your imagination here toward the extent of the damage and viruses involved, what a mess! But you get the picture.


  Enough about computers! I say that reluctantly.

 Various Excuses and Analogies in a weak attempt to entertain my more restless, discerning visitors:

  I am running ever so slightly behind on polishing a few posts for future upload. My choice is narrowed down to four, that's right, four and two are most likely. Nothing really drastic, it never is. Sooo...while you wait, am attempting something entertaining for your distinct benefit, however humble and insignificant it may really turn out to be. I am simply unwinding right now with a wine cooler and chocolate chip cookies, oddly enough.

  It is sort of likened to a doctor or dentist office, (but much more pleasantly!), though I do caution, the wait may be much longer. HERE, you just can't beat this. Come back more often, very cheap rates, stay as long as your heart desires, speak your mind any amount you wish, well, after the comments are cleared with admin - (me, of course),  and leave quicker, if you so wish. No vehicles required, no uncomfortable prodding and gowns to wear either. You make your own appointments at the History Doctor. I can recommend knowledgeable colleagues ans specialists, if you don't find the help you want. What a bargain! No psychological couch in sight, as I won't go that far; you're on your own there. There are no nasty prescriptions or bad news to take back to your husband, wife or children, only a supplement to your education and it's all a fascinating journey. You wouldn't want that kind of professionalism from yours truly, the danger might be too great, alright? You've been summarily and unnecessarily warned.

Now notice the little hints of notes and letters that are a permanent display, or maybe you shouldn't look that closely. Well, now, I didn't say to look at the dust! (Is that cat hair too?) Or to call it 'junk', it's not exactly, just sort of 'cluttered' and a bit messy, is all. Anyway, that's some idea what my hard drive folders look like, except they are much more of a maze and the hellish confusion more deeply hidden--- * argh and gasp #. There is no maid in sight, (where did she go? oh another one quit because of our demanding schedule). I don't worry about the place being spotless and spic and span, I'm afraid. Tsk, tsk. The occasional upkeep simply must suffice. Not comparable to some of the wonderful and majestic homes with spacious manicured lawns you see from your Facebook friends and acquaintances that clean, shine and rid up constantly. I think these persons upload such a bulk of photos and intrepid videos, (no I won't name names), partly because they are ONLINE. It isn't all that bad at my place really. Hell, maybe it's worse. I am a bachelor, understood?! Alright then, now that we've gotten that straight.

   Well, a little exaggeration does make for a better 'gabby' blog post, one would suppose. Take it easy, I'm just having a bit of fun for a change. Now you realize why the posts are usually fairly normal and spot on!

                       


Some Rambling and Petty Complaints bordering on venting:

The lamp came from when I moved from an apartment in Connellsville in 2005 and they sold me the furnishings for a pittance. Then I moved fairly fast to Ruffsdale to a trailer court. That was because a lawyer from Washington, D. C. bought the apartment complex and wanted to raise the rent and do visitations whenever she felt like it. My lawyer, (God hopefully rest his soul), was puzzled with the lease, it was a real doozy, believe you me. Basically claiming myself as the party responsible for everything, including the furnace, and shoveling the sidewalks while I lived on the third floor! I ended up leaving much behind on the most recent move, even a bulky air conditioner, as it was just more convenient not to box so many odds and ends I somehow gathered over 15 years, seemingly willy nilly, including a really comfy leather chair that was too big for where I was moving to.

  A small amount of items around for sentimentalism were from an unnamed female work friend from the late 90's that, still to this day, owes me exactly $1190 that was borrowed in installments with startling promises made no matter that I treated her very well and even still talked to her right up until she started telling me the many things I must do with my life; how I need someone to 'grow old with' no matter who or what qualities this theoretical female would exhibit; that I probably should talk to her own mom, about 'things', huh ? (who, by the way, is getting disabled benefits yet, in the time I knew her, never acted like her back bothered her at all. Ah, she was on the Dart ball team too), ,All too well reminding me of the not so good old days. Hey, I was counting it up; obviously for good reasons and how pathetic she was and, probably IS. Don't worry, I will not tell you about her alcoholic sister who had a 13 year old daughter when I lived in Greensburg. I just won't do it to you! But, wait: or of a pretty oriental bank manager, first name Shana, sort of the old online dating thing, you know what I mean. Well, she lived in California and through instant messages soon insisted she loved me and told me if I ever rejected her it would be "traitorous 'in her book" ! Then she promptly began ignoring my conscientious messages or e-mails.

  This particular internet 'friend' had two psychiatrists, murderous dreams, (she was committing them herself), told me to 'keep checking her profile' only to discover various hardcore porn references and chat rooms, (a long time ago, your right),  and that she was 'coming out', then promptly told me I was being nosy by pointing it out, while she strongly wanted me to fly with her to Disney World! Nope, I won't subject you to all that either, and you just can't make that stuff up folks. Well, if you are possessed of a greater imagination than I, you might be able to, but WHY would anyone insist on doing such a strange thing?  I am sure I got off easy on that one while living way over here in Pennsylvania. These happenings were fewer and farther between that it may sound like. Some day I'll ramble about my good experiences with more normal people; but that could get a little boring and we don't want that.

  This was a quick rundown of my own deservedly forgotten personal history.This is NOT indicative of much of my more normal life events and circumstances.

  Do I still hold out hopes for another maniac to associate with? One that either slowly coaxes your hard earned money from your pocket, or maybe a girl that could decide to knife you to little pieces in bed? To look at it in one way, I feel I've had my share. Most people do fine with all their personal situations, some, well, they just get crazier. Have you noticed this kind of experience?

  Now, I am absolutely comfortable having friends of both sexes, please don't take this the wrong way. These were experiences that took place once upon a time in a interpersonal galaxy long, long ago, and will most likely not happen ever again. Everyone knows there are two sides to every story and all that. Mine is the correct one, please understand. Sorry, that part wasn't very entertaining, but it was true to the letter. The last diatribe was ALMOST left out and you could be thinking, we sure wish it was. BUT...

   I've somehow managed to have some great relationships and am thankful for those. I have never gotten use to moving, or renting moving vans and all that, no matter if I did it every six months. Also, I threw out a bunch of clothes, even if it was a slight rip or little stain, that was a good excuse to toss out most of those sweaters and sports jackets. Enough about moving, right? Disney World had to wait, and the lamp is fairly nice, ah, from my first real apartment. Well, compared to an unreal apartment. Alright. Life is good. You were entertained or at least amused and bemused by the stories if this is to be admitted.

 The other stuff:

 The old computer hutch is from my brother many moons ago when I kept my first expensive computer at his house for convenience while I...moved and didn't take it with me for some time. Do very many of you all remember Windows 95, 98, 2000 and ME ? Well, the old hutch was almost left behind when I moved at the beginning of 2014, but decided to take it along and I'm not sure why I agreed to keep it or why I even mentioned this at all.

  There are various memorabilia, items as Christmas gifts and souvenirs from trips around here, as well. That is a miniature Eiffel tower from Paris and a statue of a knight too:

                         


  The Pan Am airplanes are from 1987 from Pittsburgh to New York and back on a leg with Aer Lingus to Ireland for a 15 day tour. Sometimes I break out the Ireland sweatshirt from the mothballs on St. Patrick's Day. Yep, I managed to find the money back in those heady and youthful prosperous times. No big deal. I think I enjoy the knightly stuff because it is rusting faster than me, and the fact I was a voracious reader of Arthurian books when I was a teenager. OK. By the way, I had the second best dart ball average most of the time at the local Eagles, something I use to be, rather oddly conceited about. That was where I had won the rather cheap little guy from.  Valuable stuff. Well, some of it is obviously not THAT valuable. IF there ever is a blog about European travel, say a travelogue from the 80's, well, you'll be the first to hear all about the details from those heady and active days.

An uncalled for aside of varying meaning:

  I am a Christian y'all, a truth I don't bother to hide no more than I would a form of patriotism as an American. I have great respect for tradition and yet, am not the most traditionally, provincially minded person out there. We're all different, just to be a bit philosophical about it. We're not suppose to be the same, are we? So I don't mind being myself and you shouldn't either and so, there are crosses around the house which I happen to favor. Thank you very much.

  If you're NOT religious or even patriotic, (geez, shame on you!), that's sort of your business in the long run. If you are and it is a private matter, you can elect to keep it that way. I don't personally agree one's beliefs should be kept under a bushel kind of thing. God knows, I need some spiritual guidance and protection. The Bible is an extremely fascinating book on different levels, including the theological perspectives, and I might add, have read it through more than once. Enough said.

  Spot an ashtray? Surely you didn't actually see... oops I thought that was well hidden away. Really I am trying to quit with electronic ones and an occasional puff. Please don't attack me mercilessly folks, it's not heroin or crack! No one is perfect, except you know Who. At least I hid the whiskey bottles and handcuffs; yes, I am really  kidding now! Now isn't this the kind of post you find fairly often and sometimes wonder why you are sitting there taking it all in? This happens even more frequently on Facebook, you know that, don't you?

  I do own a few valuable things, though not many. They are not in this room and some are not here in this vicinity. Neither are my pool trophies, or trumpet from the high school band, or...all under heavy and complicated lock and key in my lead bunker 12 feet under ground, of course watched over by part-time security guards, and with guns, large, dangerous ones. Or, in a safe deposit box, got that?! Good. I am being slightly facetious. How much you might ask? If you really care, it's best let's leave it to guess work. I would only state this is not the best place to come straggling in the wee hours for freebies that aren't tied or bolted down.

  Steelers, Penquins and Pirates are an interest. No more than being a normal sports enthusiast; anyway, I hate it too much when my team up and loses. I am not into every score, trade and statistic, however tiny, just a basic understanding of the moves and calls, key players and watching the games being played out and routing for the home team. Sometimes screaming loudly, especially when there is 'cheating' going on! Uh-huh. I only related this as I don't believe I'm obsessed with too many things. Alright, regional history, you've got me there. That is putting it nicely.

  I do admire old knives, swords and daggers, though I don't own many old ones; just a small collection mostly made up of reproductions. How many of us can afford the genuine article? Looking very closely, there is one in the corner of the first photo.

                 


  I have a few of my mostly old, moldy oil paintings 'hanging around' from the old days when I had to escape the smooth talkers and unstable girls with nightmares for some quiet time. This one was very early, I think from the 1980's and borders on amateurish. The ones still within sight are mostly landscapes, and my Mom had a few she was really fond of. Been there a long time from the days before the Laurel Art Club. There's a plug for them, you know. (Your welcome!). There is actually another plug on the earliest Braddock Road post where I went to the old Mennonite cemetery. Have you noticed that? Let's see a show of hands! Ah...never mind then. Another painting hangs in the living room. I guess it is in the same spot on the wall because my mom liked it, as she cherished the few florals I painted for her, so why move it?



  Is it necessary for more photos of me?

 
  Finally, that is a pic taken against my will, kicking and dragging and biting... no, not really and this could mildly interest a few curious folks that desperately NEED and WANT to see my face.

                                  


   I know another blogger who has been online for more than ten years and he only now gave an interview and a clear photo of himself to the public, though it is fair to state, he had his stalkers to contend with. That's what I would call being very private. The quality of this photograph is somewhat questionable, but you must understand, this is important to keep my shy, retiring image continually vague and mysterious. Often I generally choose not to be too highly placed where it belongs, so that my amazing, though shy personality and encyclopedic intellect, wit and wisdom do not interfere with the normal operation of a rather bland, but never drab, historical website. Could you fall for such shenanigans? I hope not.

   On a serious note, I do trust the visitors are smart and observant enough to have no misunderstandings comprehending all that is written here. It's that simple. And, to be pretty honest and out front with you, my intentions are partly to keep you from discovering just how very mundane much of  my routine really is. Now the secret is out for all to know. The other parts of my life may not be quite this mundane..  A personal preference of mine. Although if you click on the link to the Heritage Festival at Mt. Vernon from last year, there are photos of yours truly. Enough said.

Part of a cluttered poem:

   Sighing in the mist of the quiet, early hushed morning, as the diamond dew sparkles more loudly; I take a lasting swill of my imported coffee from the jeweled and fabled cup, pausing to finally remove my white gloves and gold neck tie,  gazing thoughtfully at a Victorian poem of Wordsworth in green shadow to my right, the aromatic hint of thunder congeals in the odor of beans and the dawning gray light flecked with red and orange, tearing away memories like paper thin leaves as I lie down under a tree of walnut to dream or to awake..etc.


                               
   Here is a shot of what is behind my nook, and a part of it with a small library, mostly of my parents and some holiday stuff we don't really know what else to do with yet. (Actually, I decided this would bore you so much, I just left it out!)  There are a few bookcases with lots of different types of reading material in the back room and I know how to use them! Really, I've always loved books. Much of our reading these days, is done on the internet or Kindle; a great advantage in these digital times. Personally, I wish there was more room for access to had actual,  physical ones that were more valuable in the monetary sense. That's alright, the content is what's so important.

  That's probably more than you should be aware of, or you may rather desire to be informed about! OK, so you may gather I am not the most open person with my daily Facebook and Twitter fixes. Certainly I have a Facebook membership of course. (WHO DOESN'T?!) I don't really need to be constantly uploading photos from my newest smart phone or IPad. I do have my history blog and, for me, with a couple other hobbies thrown in, that is basically enough. Consider yourself more informed about old Histbuffer. That should do it for another few months...or maybe even years.

A Very Small, But Much Needed Perspective:

  Yes, there are unicorns, rare airplanes, a fancy sword in the corner, as I am partial to a medieval outlook in rare moments; a castle as a gift from Blarney in Ireland...etc. Guess I come across as a mystical idealist. I'll hope for this much.


 With a straight face here, I confess that it is with strong emotions I regret my parents and others  weren't alive to see this website. The surprise on their faces could of been quite a special sight and I'm positive they both would've heartily approved at the modest success it has seen in the last two and a half years of service and dedication. What advice they could of given me too! Just maybe the words of wisdom would include not to attempt too many normal blog posts. Lol.

   I think most people would agree I've branched out quite a bit since starting the blog in late 2014, yes, with my father then my mother passing in the first half of that somber year.  Count them. Three whole years after their deaths. I have moved locations with various issues on my former dwelling-various issues with my present habitation; I have changed jobs in the middle of last year, and have many minor concerns, like health care on different fronts, further adventures in historical research, and...too much else on an even smaller scale to relate, really. So in the scheme of things I may of missed out on a few opportunities and struggled briefly with changes as I wrote up blog posts. All in all, I may be humoring myself when I say that I feel I've done fairly well. One has to grow, even if this takes place on a slower level as I would of chosen under other circumstances. We can't have everything exactly the way we want it, can we? Some of you have also grown with me. Some having very little to do with me, certainly in any personal way. I hope that time has been good to you and there has been an even mixture of curiosity and fascination toward the readership of Fayette/Westmoreland Forgotten History as a minor or, on a rarer note, possibly major part of your own lives.

   I know, sincerely, I've had immense enjoyment providing visitors with a stream of veritable history. Looking forward to more great regional stuff.

  An Overly Melodramatic Final Goodbye:

   We'll see you soon. You've heard more about me than you should of, huh? So, bye!

   Oops, what's the beef, not catchy enough? Crap...

  Try this: If by chance I'm not wearing a disguise, we might get lucky and meet in person, who knows? Most likely to fall immediately in love and travel on your money to Switzerland to have a madly wild and somewhat depraved honeymoon while I quickly find a rare medical excuse to slip away to meet some old colleagues in Stresa, Italy for a rousing time at an exclusive nightclub. But then, you'd probably notice my peg leg and buck teeth, glass eye and weird twitch, so maybe I'll deny admitting who I am, mumble my apologies and claim to be the third son of a rajah or the distant relative of Odin. An obscure but extremely interesting, sensitive, yet powerful and influential inside trader and all around international playboy. Just for a second you'll fall for it, right?!

   Nah. See, it just wouldn't work out.

   Now it's time to head back to the shadows and the security of a secluded paneled den with a favorite potpourri and hidden doorways and secret stairs leading to the real strangeness of ...The Attic, (see what happens when people expect too interesting a blog?), for more research for upcoming posts.

   Please check back.

   Not to pull a tooth or a medical miracle, or even about my somewhat drab sheltered nook where there is ever so much musing, a glass of red wine and staring out at the flowers around the hedge, and that's about all. More mundane and normal in contrast with my earlier times. Here I am a pretty fair amount of the time, to carefully prepare another relation of our fascinating regional historical background, in this, our heritage in Fayette, Westmoreland, and the surrounding counties of southwestern Pennsylvania.

                If anyone must see a close friend of the female persuasion that is a dear part of my life...well alright then. Below is a photo of my fourteen year old Mascot, Gypsy, quite a character in her own right:

                        


   Thanks again for reading along and indulging me a while in catching a peek at the other side of things! I relished every minute of it.  
See ya soon for the next post!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day


                        

           


   I recall years ago when my mom and grandmother would take us kids along to decorate the graves. Whether it was Mount Olive or Green Ridge cemeteries or further afield, those trips might of been a bit more than we understood, but the respect in remembering the dead became a palpable and thoughtful learning experience.

  This post is simply a quickly put together thing, a sudden impulse as an occasion approaches that stares me in the face, really making the ease and flow of an article that much more obvious. Taking the kernel from the holiday and shaping this around those that meant so very much to me and my family over the years. Surely many of you can sympathize in relating this to your own circumstances.

   Traditions with a nudge of encouragement


   The origins of the holiday are intrinsically associated with the end of the Civil War and the Grand Army of the Republic (the GAR) on the principles of "Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty initially growing out of the hardy and tough years of the re-constructionist movement of 1865 to 1877. Without broaching too closely the depth of the political situation of the late nineteenth century, the context behind some of our indelible traditions were often touchy stuff indeed. Yes, occasionally, even riots were a reality and as in the later mining days, violence and turmoil could be and was a side issue of the differing factions between the intent of the radical, moderate and conservative Republicans and the Democrats concepts affecting policies and relating directly to the Presidents themselves. Even though such an undertaking might be a bit beyond our normal scope, the material behind these factors could be addressed in a future post, especially if there appears to be enough grass roots interest to help guide my busy and possibly flawed decision making processes.

    Maybe some of you are aware, I had once promised more material on veterans of various wars at one time and still would like to hear your families stories and experiences in this emotional and sometimes overwhelming subject. Such an appeal to viewers naturally includes the broader meaning that no matter where you are from or call home, regardless of how sad or tragic those tales would be, thik about sending information in of your own family's experiences. This is our unique story, and so let us always keep that in mind, while many others, even in various countries with their own internal background and holidays, not necessarily personally connected to regional history, do find this kind of thing interesting and could contribute in a good way too.

   Eventually to better round out this earlier purpose, I will have at least one more post on the subject that is connected to my personal ancestry as a reflection and a microcosm of the Union celebrations and the continuation of a larger yearly get together. These battle reenactments and such were a popular entertainment for the public and a way of reliving and blowing off some healthy steam for those that were actively involved after the Civil War in times past. Of course in the South, the formulation of observances followed other avenues and developments including what was termed,  "Confederate Memorial Day". Those that visit here from time to time, as well as loyal followers, might find this informative and worthwhile. But the concerns of many of our wars could be studied and looked into in the macrocosm of a more formal manner of genuine examination which is not being ruled out for further consideration.

   In the mean time, using my own background as sort of an example, a little history is always a good thing in a day when much that is meaningful seems to be ignored, or just plain given less attention for any number of reasons.


      



     By the late 1860's, particularly on May 5, 1868, General John Logan made a call for a national day of remembrance. and James Garfield, another General, held services at Arlington Cemetery on May 30 and later, by 1968 this became official as the last Monday in May and was also a federal holiday to allow a three day weekend. (Well in actuality, the federal government is always thoughtful when it comes to itself!) Thus Decoration Day gradually morphed into Memorial Day and in many sircles all dead are taken into consideration in some form out of the origins of the traditional ideals while Veterans Day of Nov. 11 marks the observance of honoring those who exclusively partook of military duty. This grew out of World War One and Arimstice Day and was renamed in 1954.


  Photos and Info


    The following photos may not be of the finest quality, (obviously you are not dealing with a professional photographer with Histbuffer!), but represent only some of the graves to be visited, that being if I get to all of them by Monday. I'll see how far I get around in the amount of time left, considering the threat of thundering skies and heavy rain on my camera. But the first batch of these are the dead that were closest to me in life, therefore influenced me so deeply and there loss is felt so keenly. I will fondly think of them often until the day that I too am a memory and a passing shade on the wind.

         

        

          














statue of St. Luke near my two dear maternal aunts and my grandmother's graves
                                
     The above photos were taken yesterday at the Green Ridge Memorial Cemetery




      On the afternoon of Saturday, the28th of May I decided to revisit the old "Slonecker"- apparently sometimes spelled "Stonecker" - family graveyard where my extra great grandfathers are buried as well as few distant ancestors and my 4th great grandmother, Susanna Miner, possibly known as Susan who, interestingly,  has the larger headstone. The details of the reasons behind these plots are not known to me. Does anyone know more about this? Then, please let me know. Were all these people related to eaxh other? George Hatfield married John Miner's daughter,Maria, hence one of the closer ties within these two families that lived practically next to each other. John had another daughter, Nancy, who married David Etling and he is also buried at Slonecker. There is a serious likelihood that since John Miner, a justice of the peace and a blacksmith, donated or sold property for the Mt. Olive church and the adjoining cemetery, there were no more burials that took place at this site. This theory does make some sense.

                  
My arrival inside Slonecker graveyard

                             
John and Susanna Miner
                         
George Hatfield's headstone
     
                               

 
                                                  





A view of some headstones at the back wall
                                             
                                           


    One or two oddities of the old burial place are that her headstone has somehow been removed from its original stone base and the pegs to receive the headstone are quite obvious, while a piece of wood was inserted in front of it so it could be propped up from the front; another would be the fact that George Hatfield's heavy and thick headstone has been moved to the side for whatever reason.

                 

                        


              
The stone walls are very much still intact. It also appears there are markings near the front end of the cemetery that could of been for an old gate, since removed. Almost immediately after I arrived with flowers and flags in hand it began to thunder, and before I left, started to rain. There are more minor, (no pun intended), issues I won't bother to mention here.

                                     





                             


 
                                             
possible gate markings from Slonecker cemetery


 The next are taken from Mt. Olive Cemetery and include a few distant relatives while some are left out because they are already included in the two posts below.

     


                                     





                                      


                   Above is my g, great grandfather and grandmothers' gravestones

Lily Miner means was a great aunt
                                
Elizabeth Rice was another g, great aunt

                 
Revenia was a great aunt that I had the honor to know
                              

    More details and photos are to be found about these people and my relation to them on Relatives and Ancestors Chapter One where much on my discovery of the Slonecker cemetery is covered in depth, and Relatives and Ancestors Chapter Two has information that includes other branches of the family tree.




   This is a special weekend, allowing us precious moments to ponder those that are no longer with us physically. A time to maybe shed a tear and look back into the past.

   As we celebrate this Memorial Day with attending a local parade, hot dogs and burgers on the grill and a few beers with friends and relatives, God forbid we let the true core of the holiday become forgotten family history. Honor and treasure the memory of the lives and passing of those ancestors that held us on their knees, raised and cared for us, even those that are only known from old photos and stories. May they remain a part of our busy days and may we give a word of thanks in prayer that together these people not only enjoyed many of the same simple pleasures and landmarks as well as the difficult experiences many of us deal with daily, but also held such a great piece of who and what we are today.

 

 
   May they all Rest in the Peace that is eternal. Amen

    Have a good holiday folks!

   

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