For those that are easily bored with technicalities having more to do with various types of interactions concerned with a local history site, you can skip this first section.
I make reference here, hesitantly, to something that has personally puzzled me deeply as of late and lastly, some congrats and an admission of my own are in order.
Basically, my 'beef' is that it would appear there are a few Historical Society's, (I really would rather not name names), that simply do not answer e-mails directed to them, or return calls. Regardless of how this looks to others, that is certainly their business, of course. Is it really anybody else's?
Well, with every intent to draw more attention to the local history of the surrounding landmarks in these areas, and make proper contact this can, indeed be a difficult pill to swallow. It is understood that open hours vary and in winter months it can slow down progress. Everyone, unless retired, have jobs to go to. We can sympathize. Though, I'm not necessarily an 'insider', at least as of yet, in the sense of putting years of time and effort into helping out with fundraising, scheduling trips and banquets, pooling talents and resources, I'm not surprised that takes a lot of strategic planning. This kind of group effort is not to be belittled and there are responsibilities that can't be neglected in such an undertaking and would soon imperil their existence. Meetings are very important and indispensable. Point taken.
Subsequently, more notice should be taken and my hat is off to the results of their labors.
Many of the historical societies have re-emerged or started up from scratch having their hands full in building strong local support. There is much interaction between them as well, which is a healthy bond and refreshing to learn of. Anyone would have to walk a mile or two in their shoes to know the amount of dedication that it must require to produce positive effects and the respect of a township or borough should be an established fact.
Having said all that, if I haven't gotten more involved from that end, the blog is fairly new, yet nothing controversial. This is the niche I've chosen. I hope to make amends in that it has it's own quirks and to pay attention to detail that approaches a cautious attitude leads me to try to be more meticulous and conscientious. This is probably necessary to achieve a degree of success. Without much thought, or maybe actually being more thoughtful than giving yourself credit for, links are naturally provided in the posts and encourage viewers toward becoming aware of what they are really all about and follow on to these other quality sites.
Some facts about the blog and local history
The blog, 'Westmoreland/Fayette Forgotten History' was meant as a kind of self help therapy for the traumatic loss of my parents within three months of each other, last year in April and July. It was planned with an air of anonymity that was unrealistic as an afterthought. But, the humble kernel it was created from quickly came to convey a long felt enthusiasm of history on all levels, and especially, right here in this region. A vague feeling, even as a teenager that the past is alive on some level. I won't deny I was a bit adventurous and a poetic type, given to much introspection and not likely to be compared to an overachiever. It was in the Dark Ages, (the 1970's folks), with no access to cell phones and the internet. It took imagination then. How did we cope? We couldn't miss what we never had.
Many half known, old places are all around, with barely a name to tell of their origins, usage or fate. Maybe some of you, too, felt an abiding interest in antique traditions, some wisps of folklore; some rousing fishing and hunting stories with a few beers thrown in; listened breathlessly to tales of patriotic war episodes, wondered about the locations of old stores, mills and schoolhouses; fascinated by rumors of old taverns and stagecoaches and toll gates. A few of us are old enough to remember much that is gone. There are lost and forgotten things that took place as little as only 20 to 40 years ago.
The stories our fathers, mothers, uncles and grandparents use to relate to us, when we bothered to pay close enough attention to their large fount of knowledge and wisdom; and then there are the old photos. Many families are in possession of these treasures and it is lucky if there is any remembrance or a faded name scrawled to put with the dignified faces on them. None of this should be taken for granted. Keep tight those old heirlooms and books, half hazardly handed down to you! Alright, maybe this is overstating the case, still, some fine day when the dust and cobwebs are removed, they have a gift of impressing us of a special virtue. Truly, history starts at the hearth and home, branching out to end up in World Wars and peace treaties.
This site has received a decent number of hits and I admit to feeling proud of this recent accomplishment. (If there is a place you want covered, make a request). It was a grassroots experiment all the way and, no doubt, however minor the influence might be comparative to larger websites, this has been nothing less than a silver lining to some large storm clouds.
So, I wanted to express that I do realize the situation with the Societies and the experts. If this is perceived as a 'new' kid on the block, so to speak, then, alright, that's the way it is. No problem. But, I'm not completely sure that's all there is to it. Things aren't always as they should be.
Not being privy with exact connections to certain families and such long standing memberships, maybe an acknowledgement in my direction, however brief, is just too much to ask. I do want to make it clear that I understand and respect their traditions. My ancestry goes back a long way too. Stepping on anybody's toes would be highly inconsiderate of me and the last thing intended. But, to be ignored for whatever reason, that is one thing, to be snubbed, is definitely quite another. A thick skin and a philosophical outlook can take you a good distance.
Yes, I did feel slightly disappointed; specifically, when some overzealous officer in a Historical Society of note, decided to quickly remove a link to an article of mine recently uploaded on their Facebook page within a 24 hour period. Describing the very town they live in, no less. Snobbery? Maybe a mistake? I don't know, it's possible. But the spirit of collaboration is not well served in this fashion. Any mutual attention this would garner is hampered. Is it an example of a rare, if blatant, obvious lack of cooperation? If so, that is unfortunate.
Nothing resourceful can be gained by this attitude. Now, maybe things can change eventually. We will have to wait and see, while trying to keep open the lines of communication. I felt the need to get this off my chest and make no apologies for doing just that.
Some Congratulations and a Small Confession
Now there are those societies, authors and other organizations that are very open and welcoming to my blog and the supporting role I attempt to play. To present our past as is, to bring a further interest in publicizing these regions and things too long forgotten and often, woefully neglected. If this adds another dimension to tourism, that's great, though not the sole purpose.
It is very pertinent that I express my profound appreciation to those that do open themselves to my researches, stories and photos, or allow a small quote or an historical marker.
Congratulations are in order. You know who you are.
Clearly, the third part of this article is implicitly aimed at those that have cooperated in any way, and it hasn't gone unnoticed or been taken for granted here! It is a small service that I try to provide and find the subject fascinating. The basic staff is mostly, myself. Along with a car, computer and camera at my side. My one older brother has helped some when it comes to tips and a few areas he has more knowledge of. For this input and added insight, I do want to thank him here. Yes, you see, the blog is basic stuff and is the articles are purely on an educational level, so it hardly comes as a revelation there has been no financial profit involved.
I confess right now, there is much for me yet to discover, mistakes to be corrected, stories to hear, many things to still learn plenty about and this does continue to excite as writing abilities slowly grow and to meet new people and gather feedback of all kinds from the good citizens from Fayette and Westmoreland counties and beyond. Without that element it would be less of a smooth journey down these main streets to the old back roads and it would seem a lot bumpier. It's a nice experience in gaining a better perspective to the places we live near, travel on, observe, criticize, admire, and wonder about daily.
All of YOU that take the precious time to read the articles found here are of importance to the meaning contained within. Make no mistake. It is you that show interest and read up and I do desire to receive more of your input and ideas; corrections, when needed; your extra tidbits of info, or just an occasional 'tip'. I must confess, this kind of thing has been lacking. Together we can change that.
A Heartfelt Appeal
With so much that has been revealed, I don't want it to seem the blog is about me, the writer behind the words and ideas, per se. I'm far from perfect. There is a page on my ancestors, I freely admit. I value them so highly and can't be expected to think differently. That post seemed fitting when you think about it, I guess. We all have ancestors, some tragically dying in battle, and most of us have relatives. Not just the few you may not be that inclined to visit, unless it's the holidays and there's no way out! So, feel free and send in anything you want on any form of regional info, even if it concerns your backyard or an old abandoned shed. I would be happy to publish your stuff or reply to your comments. If you can, try to do something to reach out to help this blog continue to find some success in reaching more viewers. But not just for that purpose alone. Do it because your history is important, as well. It could be left behind and some day no one will remember.
At least, I ask you to consider for own sakes in preserving something connected to your past. It might make the future more livable. Maybe you already have. Tell us about it. Whether it is to get more actively involved in your local community and state events, or just a simple thing, like taking a look around your attic or basement, finding some souvenir of grandma's house and maybe putting it up on the mantle for the kids to see. Call up, or e-mail another relative, or some cousin that you never met properly and say 'hello'. Pick up something a bit mysterious from the flea market or rescue an antique. keep an eye on your own familiar corner that is precious to you and your family. Visit the local places; the museums, zoos, the attractions nature has to offer. Find a kind word for an old neighbor once in a while. Even if he, or she is kind of gruff and touchy. Well, they could of had a tough life. There may be an area you have in common. Friendship can be enlightening. Contact is always sought out here, and you can write privately if you wish and should receive a prompt response. I won't tell. Communicate. That's mostly what a blog is for. Do it for your own sakes ever as much as this guy who you may not know at all.
I appreciate being informed of anything interesting. Consider sharing your personal experiences and memories. That makes everything so much more meaningful too.
Spring is here, sort of. It will warm up in a few days.
A new article is in the works, so stay tuned. Thanks again.