Monday, September 1, 2014

Entering Everson

  Without further ado, we start out fresh this first of September honing in on a place that, sadly has seen it's better days. This is about the old times in Everson borough in Upper Tyrone Township of Fayette County, bordering to the west on Westmoreland County and Scottdale of East Huntingdon.

   Among the information gathered is that the borough was established in 1903, or, possibly 1905, although there are a few traces of a somewhat tantalizing earlier history. The Main Street here is given the name of Brown Street and heads toward the southwest and to Pennsville. They say, 'you're never a stranger here'. Everson is not too surprisingly named after William Everson, the father of industrialist and tycoon B. M. Everson, (Barclay Mozart), who died in 1915. At one time he was closely affiliated with some of the  movers and shakers hereabouts, particularly the Charlotte Furnace on the bank of Jacob's Creek to the far west of town.

   Well, as can be seen, a few of these photos were originally taken in the winter, giving an indication of how long ago this post was planned!



Everson



Brown Street from Everson Bridge in the summer

 
   I feel the need to touch on a few lesser known and neglected items in this post. According to LaVonne R. Hanlon, When Christopher Gist led the first white settlers over the Allegheny Mountains and into what is now Fayette County, Pennsylvania, (though then believed to be a part of West Augusta, Virginia), they found the land that later became Everson and South Everson occupied by an Indian tribe under the leadership of an Indian who the settlers dubbed Chief Jacob. Well, to muddy the waters a bit, he has been referred to as a Shawnee and sometimes as a Delaware of Native American ancestry. Hanlon goes on to state, a stream of water ran through his reservation and that stream became Jacob's Creek. Thus, it is curious his well known historical and earlier whereabouts are quite a few miles from here near to Kittanning, where he was killed by Colonel Armstrong. This leads me to speculate on the actual identity of  'Jacob', Jacob's, or Jacobs, as I suspect the latter spelling is the proper moniker of the historical Indian chief that was most often referred to as Captain Jacobs. There is some curiosity in that he was said to of had a hunting cabin far to the south, although he was claimed to of had his base near this vicinity in the swamp named after him near Tarrs, and also supposedly a place at Iron Bridge in connection with Hammondville. I suspect the last could be a dubious allocation, allowing only for a remote basis in reality This would appear to derive from the confusion over the travel mileage of Braddock's army from Stewart's Crossings to Greenlick Run and on to the Jacobs Cabin location outside Mt. Pleasant.

   I will have more about this fascinating, shadowy character in a future article. Here you can check out more of what is being planned on "Fayette/Westmoreland Forgotten History." By the way, tradition has a long memory, and claims those first white settlers came here as early as 1755, which makes much sense as they would likely of traveled Braddock's Road.

   Furthering the debate concerning the exact identity of Captain or Chief Jacobs, this was claimed to be the same man Jacob's Creek was named for, (that meanders through the dividing line of Fayette and Westmoreland counties), and associated with Jacobs Cabin(s) outside of Mt. Pleasant, near the old Sony complex near the new and old routes of 119. Thus, this is the basic area his activity centers upon. These particular roads seem to follow old storied places like a dog chasing it's master around a kennel. We do know for a fact Captain Jacobs was considered a terror to colonists during the French and Indian War and he found his fate sealed at Kittanning by Colonel Armstrong, where he was finally listed as having this later home burned and himself  killed in reprisal for depredations to the Pennsylvania settlers. In attempts to establish the fact this was the same name as the Delaware Indian,  this has not been conclusively accomplished. I would add the tradition is strongly in its favor.

   Time certainly has a way of leaving most things in the past, doesn't it?

          
Everson clock in winter

   Now I fully realize the usual custom with websites such as this, which is understandable, is to enumerate the various old businesses that used to be in the area, like the Barber shop and Gino's Pizzeria, (where a rumor was heard locally that rats were found in the storage area, possibly leading to it's demise!), and some of the more prominent people and a few happenings. The laundromat was of service to the community for many years, though it has gone the way of other businesses. They still have the Fire hall and VFW.

   No offense to recent historical trends, and not to disappoint anyone, but I made a decision to fore go some attempt at a labored elaboration developing on the depressing loss of jobs here in favor of the places I feel are even older and, at least to myself, still of lasting interest.

not positive of where this came from


This being a borough where many just seem to pass through to other destinations, and the fact that I'm not writing a travel brochure, I honestly couldn't find much recent activity near the Brown Street vicinity worthy of mention, (once called old Rt. 119). There are a few things, like the Laurel Steel Products on Hill St. working with steel bar grating  and next door, a bit south is Fayette Steel, dealing with the manufacture of all kinds of wire, which I'm led to believe are probably the same company. But I do not know very much about them. Apparently they are subsidiaries of MLP Steel, listed as a division of Marwas. By checking their website it appears they have been in the area 19 years. Jeff Pfeiffer is the President. Whether this reflects on my investigative skills, I will leave to your discretion, but I haven't been able to contact them by phone as of yet and received no response from e-mail. I will add anything of interest as it is discovered, OK?

   Taking into consideration the fact that since the 'shop and store tour' has been done heavily in a few fairly expensive books and pamphlets, it would be just as well not to infringe on others' research without specific permission, and that's alright by me.

    Brown Street was named after one W. H. Brown a land agent near Scottdale. The Home Works were said to be of been owned by J. R. Stauffer of the Kingview area. I suspect this is factually accurate.

   Those of you with fond memories of these times can post a comment, or even start a discussion right below. If you so wish, be my guest.

  


   St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery in conjunction with the old church on the other side of the borough, was begun near to the year 1913. I want to highlight the old Alte Menist Cemetery sometimes referred to as the Sherrick Cemetery.which technically lies close to the Upper Tyrone and Bullskin Township line.  I will be soon address this place in another post connected with the passing of the Braddock Road through South Everson..


Abraham Stouffer's newer grave marker

    It appears to me the cemetery is partly in Upper Tyrone by a few maps I've examined, but I wouldn't swear by it. It is now looked after by the Scottdale Mennonite organization. Abraham Stauffer is buried here, the patriarchal Reverend who owned much of local land and lived much of his life at Kingview where he had a grist mill, and most likely, a distillery. It has been claimed, or more to the point, rumored, there was an Indian burial ground very near to Alte Menist, (old Mennonite), where there was a meeting house near the northwest side. Many of these old traditions have a ring of truth to them. More on that in another month.




   Maybe it's just me, but you use to able to see the old Spring House, though I speculate it might of been dismantled, as it has been hard to locate (?) I probably just haven't noticed it lately.


heading down Jones St. toward old Everson Station
 

                     Valley Works and Summit Mines

  
Broadford Road, going south toward Owensdale


    Going south of the streets of Everson,  past the railroad tracks and further along on the Broadford Road there was once the fairly large operation of the Summit Mines stretching away and on the other side of Jacobs Creek is Chaintown and the Scottdale-Dawson Road. Jackson Shallenberger started up the Summit Mines project back in 1872. Originally called the Owensdale Mines, (at one time,  Owensville), the name was changed in the early 1890's; in 1892, to be precise.

                   You can see some of the mining work that was done here:

1939 overhead photo courtesy of Penn Pilot


     There was a post office, stores and two schoolhouses in Owensdale as well as a Union Supply Company store for the miners families. More historical information would be appropriate when it can be obtained. The mine was based on a room and pillar system and the two main areas were operated for some time by James Cochran's company out of Dawson with one drift opening in and one out.

     The Valley Mine and Coke Works from 1869 to 1918, were across from the defunct Valley Service Station. A main site once served by the Southwestern branch of the PA Railroad. Originally it was owned by Willson, Boyle and Playford. Valley Mines had one hundred and two beehive coke ovens according to 'The Second Geological Survey of Pennsylvania' for 1875. They had 80 employees at one time and again, the Union Supply Company Store was said to be where the old gas station is today. Since I am not a fan of snakes, now that it is in the heat of summer, finding a few of the coke ovens rumored to be nearby, is a challenge that may have to wait, at least until better and higher thick shoes or boots are obtained. On site research is best performed from late autumn to early to mid spring. This might be a good time to heed my own advice.

    Luckily, I have generously acquired some good photos of these coke ovens from 2006, courtesy of author LaVonne R. Hanlon:

       





     In early times Everson also had the Clinton Mine and the Valley Works around the Tank Hill area, which we are now concerned with. This was a drift open mine at the coal patch of Valley Station. There were some coke ovens near the Mt. View intersection in the late 1900's and early twentieth century, (1869-1918), they had a small operation for a while with 20 or so beehive ovens by the mid-1870's, expanding to more than one hundred. This operation, along with Allied Mills and the 'Summit' Mine in Owensdale near to Jacob's Creek on the south and on the north stretching east, comprising much hustle and bustle for the community. Eventually the works were taken over by good ol' H. C. Frick, (of course, who else?). This is taken partly from the 'Second Geological Survey of Pennsylvania,' 1976.

    It must of been exciting at Christmas at the Union Co. Supply Store at Valley Station when Santa Claus came to visit the miner's children with some toys and maybe a ride on the sleigh!

  More Off the Beaten Path

   This spring, as previously alluded to, I took an excursion south of Everson to the Mennonite, or  Alte Menist, Cemetery. I felt this an important subject matter and it will soon be documented on here, so please check back.

    Every other year on All Saints Day, it is said they have a picnicking celebration. The Scottdale Mennonites apparently have taken over the upkeep. This is the statement according to this informative Daily Courier article which I found long after writing up on this area. I've heard this takes place less frequently now a days.

   So, see for yourself, when any of you find the time or inclination, the cemetery may not be so 'lost', after all.

   I've also interviewed a resident who lives nearby with the tradition that his yard had the foundations of a possible stagecoach or tavern site which might be connected to the old Braddock route. The evidence is scanty and, though the stones were used for the drive way some years ago and the elevation is fairly prominent, I won't publish the name or address as to discourage people from trespassing on the land. Still, this is more fodder in relation to the past with the British army that once passed through our region and the opening of the road eventually gaining a foothold for future settlement.

   Pennsville, (not Everson), was said to be owned by prosperous farmer, John Shallenberger, who bought 426 acres in 1791 near the time when Bullskin was a part of Tyrone Township. I would personally have some doubt as to whether he actually possessed all of the hamlet but this is mere speculation as I haven't had the time and hardly the inclination to look into this further; regardless of that, his farm was also said to stand near the cemetery here, as does the Sherrick farm. (Information courtesy of Rachel Basinger of the Tribune Review).


south of Everson, overlooking Pennsville to the east

     Leaving Everson...

     Further into South Everson, heading toward Rt. 119, were the Valley Works as mentioned above. It is from north of Mt. East Street heading south past where the coke ovens were located. Now, the Mennonite Cemetery is very old, just how old, it is difficult to be certain, but is known to date back to the 1700's. This may well be the area of an old Indian fort mentioned by Judge Veech as roughly half a mile from Pennsville. I would like to examine this more deeply 'down the road'. I recall the statement of a mile and a half in another report, again unconfirmed and possibly a garbled account. Yet this is clearly accepted to be a corner of old Pennsville from an old survey, so let's leave it at that for now.

old residence once used as a boy scout cabin near South Everson


    To top things off, in a somewhat more steady historical vein, I'm obviously kind of obsessed with the idea that this was the route rumored to be part of a minor Indian trail of the Catawba Path. We are on very good historical footing that Braddock's British army and the Virginia militia passed through here near the township lione on their way to Braddock's Field. This is also the route taken by a dashing, young Colonel Washington, himself recovering from sickness, and the famous frontiersman, Daniel Boone, among other key players of those times. The route was from the Narrow's Road area to Mt. East, deviating toward the Valley View Road and toward Walnut Hill, and on toward Prittstown and Mt. Pleasant, to the north.

 The old Turkey Foot Road ran not far from Iron Bridge, exactly where is the question. I feel some claims are likely correct this ran very near to Dexter according to some reports with a crossing of Jacob's Creek once, or possibly twice. This might of included a crossing of Sherrick Run close to the old Emma coke ovens. Then the "TFR" met up with and conjoined to Braddock's Road for most of the rest of its excursion to the west. The theory has nary a high percentage to be proven in this late date of a close connection and maybe a possible crossing of these historically impressive ancient road systems which were based on old packer roads near these small hamlets, beyond what has already been done in painstaking investigation. Does anyone else agree? It is yet to be discovered through what little remains, the conjecture that they well could of originated in minor Indian paths that deviated between Crossroads, Woodale, Pennsville, Kifertown, Everson and Prittstown; not in that order.There may, perhaps, be more indirect, yet tantalizing newer evidence to be located, one can never completely count this out. I just feel this makes an innocuous place become alive with the wisps of lost, undetected meaning right under the surface. All in all, a fascinating glimmer of something more, beyond the usual interest of recent history. For now, we do well to look into what is known here and that will have to be sufficient. You can rest assured there will be more articles on this, as I've stated repeatedly!

    I'm going to leave you all with that thought, to ponder this bunch of assorted, but not completely forgotten stories, only adding these insights and supplemental material, amd trust a fair gesture well at home in a blog with a name as appropriate as this one.

   I've upgraded, if not updated, this hastily put together post, as some typos and incorrect grammar were clearly pointed out to me by a well meaning and well known collaborator! Thank you for giving this some needed attention.

  See you soon with a new post!

3 comments:

  1. I am a landowner on the opposite side of the road from the Mennonite Cemetery. One of your photos is actually of my property. I would be interested in chatting more with you if you are still on here. I will check periodically and hope to hear from you.

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  2. Well Dawn, I'm glad to hear from you, especially as I didn't personally know any of the property owners near the cemetery and was simply showing how the area looked. Sorry not to get to your comment sooner. Let me know what you wish to discuss, I'll be anxious to hear any of your ideas, thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner, it was a very difficult year with a lot of family and health problems. I own the land right across from the cemetery and I have been told people have found Indian artifacts on my property, and that they actually had a camp on my property. Just wondered if you have any information regarding this, or what Indian tribe was in this area. I'd love to learn more about the history of my property and this area.

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