Monday, July 20, 2015

Reading Material

   Are you all having yourselves a good summer? We're already into late July and the season sneaks past so quickly. The weather has been hot, but so far, most nights have not been very humid here in my neck of the woods, near the borders of Westmoreland and Fayette counties of Pennsylvania.

  Have any of you heard of It is a bit less expensive than some of the other newspaper sites out there. I've spent much time, off and on, searching through this these archives  gathering old stories and clippings from the yellowed articles lurking amid the astrology columns, headlines, political editorials and comics. Alright, a guy can get a little side tracked!

  My attention is particularly drawn toward the one local paper they list, The Daily Courier. That's the one weak point in that they have- no Mt. Pleasant Journal, no Scottdale Observer, or even the Greensburg Tribune! Are they ever planning on adding these? I have no idea, but feel I am missing out an a lot so am thinking of transferring to another newspaper source which includes these to gain better old info on our region here in southwestern Pennsylania and, of course the northern Fayette and southern Westmoreland base I call home. They are still a good source for much material.

  This article isn't really about critiquing these or any other books, as I am a bit of a greenhorn in fine tuning my perceptions into quality descriptions. This is mostly intended to give some insight into my reading habits.


  I love books, and can't say too little on their behalf. Perhaps many of you feel the same.

 Nope, somehow I just haven't gotten around to adding an official 'Reading List' to the website. Things take time, and like fine wine, you see... At any rate, the gadget might 'pop up' here one of these days. You may ask, why isn't one already planned out? Many other little things in life, would be my most honest answer. Part of the reason might relate to my odd reading habits and much of this is piecemeal style, searching about, here and there . This probably appears overdue to many, I don't want to make false promises. We'll let it at that for now. If you are interested, again, you can contact me.

 A Nice Deviation

  I have been spending some hours, more off than on, at Ken Colton's barbershop in Ruffsdale. That's East Huntingdon in Westmoreland County, for those that are not locals. (I know there a quite a few page views from, not only other states, but many other countries :). With his fine spirit of  knowledge and generosity, from time to time I have been going through his wonderful collection of writings, pamphlets, articles and clippings. Really all kinds,you name it. Ken has a bunch of varied and sometimes valuable stuff in about six large folders which I am making an effort to keep a record of the most meaningful material for historical subjects, although all of it is interesting.

  Could this become an upcoming post? Sure it could.

  A Handful of Books

  I actually purchased 'The Hidden History Of The Laurel Highlands' and I finished reading it not too long ago. This was pretty good book with interesting and less known material. I purchased it while initially interviewing Jimmy, who looks after the bookstore at West Overton. It just caught my eye, I guess.  'The Indian Chiefs of Pennsylvania' is a really good read. I picked it up on Amazon and am getting further into it as I speak. It is available at the Internet Archive here.


  The full name is"The Indian Chiefs Of Pennsylvania, or, A story of the part played by the American Indian in the history of Pennsylvania: (there's more) based primarily on the Pennsylvania archives and colonial records, and built around the outstanding chiefs'. Mostly, I went straight to the chapters on the Seneca Tanacharison and Captain Jacobs because that is what is being researched right now. So, do expect sometime in the next month or two, or at least, the near future, the appearance of a fresh article on Jacobs, and possibly on the half king, pertaining to the information I can locate. Jacobs was apparently a fascinating person and toward the end of his life, he became a hostile character toward the settlers of the early mid-1700's, along with the supremo of the Delaware Indian tribe, King Shingas. All this and so much more can be discovered in this volume.

  'The Braddock Road: Mapping The British Expedition...' by Norman Baker is another. I haven't gone beyond referring to some of these references, let alone an honest to goodness review, (or 'In Search Of The Turkey Foot Road' would surely of been high on the list, as Lannie Dietle requested me to do so well over a year ago). Part of the purpose in buying it concerned a colleague who needed a Westmoreland Deed Book survey for an article from a footnote inside. Nevertheless, all in all, the info is of a good caliber and well updated. My only real criticism would be the brevity. There simply aren't that many pages, and it is a subject I am not expert in, but near and dear to my heart. A nice addition for my taste would be a few highlighted descriptions and directions for some of the lesser known areas. You can likely understand why I would have something to sink my historical teeth into, as it were, although it is a precise volume in important parts of the route. There are other much older books on the magnificent region the Braddock Road navigated. I'll leave it to visitors to do some searching on their own.

  Another thing is, and you could guess this by sheer conjecture, that Google Books is a fine research destination.. Not to be a making an advertisement for any particular company, albeit, a huge one, researchers do swear by it, (not at it). Really, it's an amazing reference tool. What can be gleaned from their Scholar function is also a fine program and well inclined for researching specific topics.  A good service to use if, and when, history buffing becomes a real hobby. There is such a variety online, in many other sites, too many to go into detail. What I was originally getting at, why fill your house with heavy books that take up much space, when I can read and file it for FREE? You need room for the bookcases, of course. You got it. Some might say the same thing about T.V. God forbid! Don't get me started on pet peeves. Remember the reality that books, pamphlets and articles are NOT informatively equal, qualitatively, regardless of quantity. Sourcing, manner of writing, details, bibliographies and indexing, all make a huge difference toward the deeper reading experience.

  And if like me you are REALLY crazy about the idea of having hard copies of your favorite authors and subject matter, you will make a comfortable and hopefully quiet nook for those storied bookshelves.

  Moving toward the idea of possessions, naturally, ONE advantage to owning a book, beyond the cultured look and feel of a walnut cased library of your own with leather chair surrounded by a favorite pet, heck maybe warming your toes at a roaring fire, is the satisfaction of making your colored markings in a soon dogeared hard copy and the well used familiarity that goes with that. There is no exact replacement for this. Book Lovers know this fact. It may leave an eyesore if others peruse your most treasured pages, or you are worried excessively about their monetary value, so do keep that aspect in mind.

A fairly rare book, donated by a good friend

  Here's another book about Mendon, near West Newton. Written in 1967 by Leahettea Albright, and entitled, 'Memories And Hearsay About Route 31 And Mendon'. This is one of those wonderful, quaint, little pamphlets chock full of tidbits, from recipes to directions for small out of the way places rarely heard of, to obscure local information of a revealing caliber. There's one to pick up-if, a big if, you ever see it available! A colleague gave this rare edition to me as a gift, a very nice gesture. I didn't really do anything to deserve it, except, maybe, for writing this blog. Anyone else in a giving mood, e-mail me and I'll happily send you an address!

  'The Old Pike: A History Of  The National Road' originally published in Uniontown, Fayette County, in 1894 by old time toll gate expert Thomas B. Searight, is another. This book has been lent to me by a colleague. I think the return is overdue! I find it rather slow going, with all the old letters and notations from the Pennsylvania Council and I admit to not reading it all. Altogether, there are forty seven chapters. Well, it takes some depth to stay with it and not finding yourself leafing through and wondering if it will ever end. Seriously, it is clearly very well done and serves an important purpose, almost a document in itself; noteworthy, as an historical reference piece on much that happened in the early 1800's on this amazing roadway. I love getting into the many, gritty and capable wagoners and stage drivers. A large part of the contents can be gleaned by deep internet searches, but having the information in concrete form cannot be replaced.

  Wherever you find a good read, treat it like an old friend and they will treat your mind to a mental feast!

   I wanted to add some extra comments on 'The Indian Chiefs Of Pennsylania.' It was first published by Winnawoods, Lewisburg in 1927 by C. Hale Sipe with an intro by Dr. George Donehoo. Ths is one of those books I  just had to own eventually! I am particularly impressed with the fine chapters on Tanacharison, (as the name is sometimes spelt),  and Captain Jacobs. I suspect there a few minor errors as to the Braddock's Great Swamp Camp and hopefully I will have an upload detailing the subject. Otherwise, the sources are spot on, information and research definitely interesting. There is much to recommend, particularly toward what it contains of the various origins of the tribes, from Cornsatlk to Scarouady to Pipe and Shingas. Quite a well thought out and comprehensive tome, right down to the red cover trimmed in gold. I vote it in as a quality product. Being reprinted in 1994 and 1995 is reassuring.

  One last book, for now, about a place way off the beaten path of these Westmoreland and Fayette counties. This is surely enough for my purposes.  'A Historical and Folklore Tour of the PENNSYLVANIA GRAND CANYON.' This comes with the added bonus of an inexpensive price. This is all about the wonders of the north-central Pa county of Potter and the vicinity, written by Elfriede Elizabeth Ruppert, a local, in 1964. Included is Wellsboro, Leonard Harrison Sate Park, Coudersport and stories and traditions of our great resource 'up there', a really marvellous place to visit with a unique history of its own. This is an average sized book, yet is filled with tons of photos of all kinds of things. My dad was in a hunting cabin back in the day and afterwards my brother ended up buying out the other owners, so it is still in our family. From a child, I loved making the long trip up and checking out the scenery, whether fishing or hunting season, or just to enjoy a vacation away from it all. A whole lot has changed in the environs, some of this geared toward commercial values, but, in all this is still a great experience I have been a part of quite a few times. I heartily recommend making the trip.

   By the way, throw a comment my way on the blog, you can easily let me know what are your favorites, alright? Now there is no need to be shy with FWFH, you are among friends here. I'd love to be enlightened by YOUR recent reading habits!

  Keep an eye out for the next post!



No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment

Contact Form


Email *

Message *