* First, I hope you had yourselves a Merry little Christmas and were on the receiving end of the gifts you so wanted and needed this holiday season as well as giving the same delight to others! *
A Few Words to start with
Some extra time was taken recently to actually re-gather information, re-classify some items and celebrate the holidays, more or less, in the same space of weeks. Another way of putting it, frankly, I am a bit behind on completing articles.
I sometimes find myself at little key crossroads, not necessarily in a literal sense, but more in the form of searching for more information, talking to or e-mailing other people, usually more enlightened in their field than I, yet sometimes they are engrossed in their own regional endeavors. There are so many posts contemplated that I haven't had the time to give due consideration to the research they each require. Therefore the blog is unfairly left to play catch up and occasionally suffers the consequences of a lapse in judgement.
Driving my high mileage car around the local roads and looking at maps, sitting on my computer like some modern day alchemist sifting through a bunch of arcane material, missing key ingredients of the exact temperature for mercury or how many weeks to distill something for the third time! Thus, much of my profitable allowance of energy is spent without getting enough accomplished which can be a frustrating and humbling experience.
I do not wish to overly bore you with too many details of my unnecessary predicaments. One of which, to appear in good taste, was briefly alluded to only as an aside in the last post. I have faith that everything can and will be smoothed out eventually for the better. I only want to offer some description of the 'WHY' to help explain a conundrum in preparing a good blog article that is acceptable to me and for the visitors willing to allot a percentage of their valuable time browsing these pages.
Behind the Scenes
Much discussion and occasional correspondence takes place among a few truly valued friends, and secondly, with certain acquaintances. Most of these have been on my Honor Roll. I am considering an updated version for this year. To go into the interesting emails and messages now, ones like...well, that's just it, I don't ask if it is alright to include excerpts of my private e-mails with colleagues and correspondents. You see, it is hardly good etiquette to do so without permission. This is a habit gained over the years from noticing such a tell all approach can be more than a bit touchy for others. Unfortunately, such a fairly entertaining pursuit would provide insightful enlightenment. Specifically toward how hard headed Histbuffer can be to making any changes to initial ideas in a speedy way. I know many bloggers and webmasters who do quote others' private emails often without any consultations or preliminary requests; although apparently they are often not openly ostracized for this behavior, yet I think this depends very much on the content and the perceived intent in revealing others private thoughts. My point being this is just not a convincingly proper outlet, at least in my way of understanding. Obviously the problems that enmesh Hillary Clinton are not on this minor level! So there you have it. Some people rarely email me unless something is really on their mind and this might be only a technical matter, or it might be more personal to their own interests. Adjustments are constantly made in this area many are basically familiar with, so I hope this is better understood.
A former collaborator who was suddenly trying to be very helpful wanted to discuss my lack of using You Tube videos on the site. I was a bit skeptical because how much more interesting is a video in the sense of what you can show in a photo? Technically, I have conducted a few of these, but wasn't really pleased yet with either the quality or the audio. I do realize the influence of video and the personable nature of using the medium. A few people I know are also strongly in favor of an upscale website, private hosting and forming a non profit, (something I have yet to get familiar with). H'mmm... I suppose this needs more serious thought...and...time.
One unnamed individual promptly informed me his otherwise helpful services would involve revamping the site, expensive hosting, AND should include leaving any colleagues behind. Basically, drop all collaboration or acknowledgments, especially publicly. See what I mean? Zilch.This appears a tad unsavory and a less than principled approach to improvement, but realistically is likely where the market is headed and I am only being old-fashioned. A darned thing called conscience.
Other ideas were on firmer ground as sensible advice and I will look into those forthwith. The long and short of this is, people can of course become moody and uncommunicative if I don't immediately act on a proposal or respect their intuition. Others are nice, polite and can offer a degree of valuable services. I am not without moods and emotions too. Still, should the fact this would tend to make me feel like a hypocrite and possibly an ingrate not concern me in the least? So goes the days of our lives.
Back a ways, I had a fine talk with Jeff Hann's granddad, who apparently had some info on my grandfather who lived in Bullskin township as well as a few anecdotes about some of my other ancestors. Jeff kindly told me to come out the Butler area back sometime in January, but with the arctic weather, I let this opportunity slip by for too long. I'm glad I made the little trip.
I have been in the process of reading various books. Nothing really unusual about that! A few of them were actually from authors who corrected me on a statement or two I had made on a blog post. I didn't have time to locate the book in the one instance, (it's around here somewhere), so I did as she asked to keep the peace. Seemed like a good idea. In the other, I took the time to explain my position on a couple of points as respectfully as I could. Honestly, I do what I can to not appear offensive to people. Although I'm not certain of exactly how this was received, one authoress proved helpful and even sent me photos of some coke ovens that hadn't been otherwise acquired. This is really appreciated and a nice bonus.
A somewhat rare book on Redstone Fort from the 1930's I purchased online has allowed for fresh ideas. The Indian Chiefs Of Pennsylvania is another one that was sort of long on the shelf and not long ago got around to reading it all. I go back to it now and then, but initially read the primary parts having most to do with the southwest PA region I live in, then I slowly getting into the rest, "WHEN I HAD THE TIME." A saying probably being worn out by yours truly. Yet, this is the reality staring me abruptly in the face.
A nice friend and confidant has kindly lent me a few books, one is on the National Road, even giving me a fairly rare pamphlet in the bargain. A memoir of Route 31 and Mendon. What a bargain! I know I e-mailed her, but here's an extra Thank You too! This does have a small amount of info on the toll houses, something I wrote about that available information is severely lacking on. A lot of people can attempt to guide you and give such sound advice, not too many put it out there in this special fashion, do they? The kicker is, she ended up GIVING me ALL the books! Although I've told her this before and she may get tired of the reminder, THANK YOU so much, dear lady!
This is great and all, God forbid I would complain of small matters. OK, I am perusing a Google book list that keeps growing and growing and.... I'm only one person and my eyes do get tired from the monitor, OK? Would someone like to do the honor of reading and condensing material for me in their spare time? I would welcome this. Well, I have a bunch of draft posts that will be worked on in more depth, sooner than I would estimate, but maybe later than you would expect!
Through reading this post one might form the unwelcome idea "Histbuffer" is a person a little behind on research, especially in a few key areas. Well, I confess you would a discerning person as that is a fair enough assessment - to a point. I am the type of guy that needs to be passionate and informed and am, at times, hesitant in turning a draft post toward reality. The Final Product. Distant interests are alright, practical matters that must be dealt with are all around us. Again. I am no exception. Bills, taxes, dentists, groceries, work, laundry, an off hand get-together, discussions on occasional subjects, holidays, intricate worries that are often there in one form or another. But, I digress, as the factor of delaying a write up is simply a weakness I must confess to.
Please do take a moment to let me know your thoughts, as I truly value getting good advice through your comments and emails. While you're at it, tell me what your favorite articles-are! I'm really very curious.
A Look Back at 2015
Another year has been added to our life account. Already, you say?
In the last twele months we have covered a few of the local festivals and highlighted some others. There is more to come on the subject of forts, but a post on Fort Ligonier was long on the drawing board. A covered bridges post from August 19th receives a mention and which was accepted pretty well. The blog also related the passing of a close family friend that showed a photo of my father and mother and, a bit of a rarity called, 'staying in the modern day', a congressman; we helped to give dates and places concerning the origin of the counties for a substantially large article on the eve of the Fourth of July; an important post full of fresh research was a continuation which if you missed it, visitors should gain some good information from and which is almost a part two, is about Iron Bridge and what has been regularly termed the Mount Pleasant Road with a fine collaboration with author, Lannie Dietle. This was presented in June and included vintage newspaper stories on how dangerous the area had been in times past.
Another post I enjoyed writing that necessarily held a unique air of sadness was of my two heroic uncles in World War Two that was brought to your attention, appropriately enough, by Memorial Day. Other than that, some information was tossed out and presented on gathering research material; a hopefully informative one which would not be amiss in referencing, dealt with alluding to an alternate and as far as I can estimate, formerly unknown, historical slant in 'Scoop on the Old Braddock Road in Westmoreland County'; the importance of the Connellsville Canteen with some valuable additions from researcher Bobbi Kramer; an interview covering West Overton's history was provided in early April with extra material about the old Museum, and let's not forget the Lost Toll Houses. Jeanette and Smithton received proper postings back in March and May respectively; we even broached dealing with the subject of the paranormal in old newspapers for Halloween! Personally, I feel the year gave a good cross-cut representation for our region.
Some Upcoming Posts for 2016
Another issue I have been looking at pretty closely and with some trepidation, is the soon to come expensive Penn Dot roadwork near McClure while planning a rather controversial extension of the Kendi Road along Rt. 119. This could be a touch and go circumstance considering the likelihood that two branches of the Turkey Foot Road and one branch of the Braddock Road ran through the general vicinity. A second branch was traditionally stated to of gone through Broadford to the old Stouffer Sawmill located down Dexter Road to the left of the Jacobs Creek bridge. There will be much more on this subject in the future. Some kind of work or construction has been going on there lately.
Among upcoming posts, we will be soon be examining some of the regional historians, honing in on those of the nineteenth century; plans are afoot to add to the Relatives and Ancestors database; I will be including snippets and tidbits of material to give needed updates relating to old articles that could use an interesting additions without going back and changing them, while local Indian traditions and burial grounds which appear to be little known will get their due in a listing that encompasses parts of both counties of Westmoreland and Fayette here in good ol' southwestern Pennsylvania. A refreshing History Contest is in order, as well as seriously contemplating a new and exclusive interview. I'll keep the bulk of the details under wraps for now. I want to have something to genuinely surprise visitors with! An overdue subject will connect with Uniontown for a historical rundown of the exciting experiences and events the county seat has been involved in since its inception naturally concentrating on lesser known intriguing facts, while Greensburg will not be left out either. A gander at my 'nook' where I do most of this might be in order. Alright, let's take a deep breath! I know a percentage of you skeptical sorts may be wondering if I will get to this by 2017! Believe me, there is much else too long to list that I have planned in the early stages, so keep a stiff upper lip, or something like that.
In the middle of all this, I continue to gain valuable knowledge. Research, yes!
Not to go into details right this minute, but there is the odd coincidence here and there that I chock up to my faith in God. He does help lead those that try to help themselves and all that. I need all the guidance I can get!The inexplicable and unique discovery of the mortarless bridge structure is an excellent example of this kind of thing. I still have not quite gotten it the attention this deserves and this may ultimately be my own fault for not persevering deeply enough. That may yet be forthcoming, we'll have to wait and see what can be gained through a professional assessment.
One of the most fascinating experiences for me is the trans-formative quality of learning while putting two and two together as I gradually move along down the road and around the bend. When I'm not too lazy, or sleepy, or hungry. Everyone requires the small 'get away', to rest the brain, charge the battery and there can be many distractions and just as many excuses. Oh yes, I am usually involved in making inquiries of all sorts, some propitious, some dead ends. Attempting to keep tabs on everything, color coding, entering new items in folders and then trying to locate them again (!), highlighting meaningful sentences, planning talks to important people (which often take place out of the blue); well, those that will give me the time of day! Printing articles, scanning things, making notes, and do understand, this is not job related. If this looks like a plea for sympathy, maybe that's subconsciously true. Normally everything does run smoothly enough. Yet, I had a technicality on scripts on Google which was causing me a few nights of restless sleep. Guess what? Sure enough, it was simply my own cautious browsing approach that was behind it all. And there is a case of writing in a few other areas that could become a nice opportunity if I keep at it. You never know!
Still the Sole Admin for good or ill
The last thing I would mention is to clarify the obvious: that I am the final arbiter of just what material goes on the site and where, in exactly whatever form this takes. This is a privilege I allow myself to indulge in frequently. I try to do this as responsibly as I can manage. Certainly this is a luxury in some aspects, particularly toward man power and time constraints. Any mistakes or lack of dexterity and thoughtfulness lie at no other front door, either. The reins are not likely to be handed over (even with administration duties) to others, unless they would be well tested to be properly vetted and experienced in their own historical position. That's the brakes, folks. DO bear with me, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, as I ponder the future of 'Fayette/Wesmoreland Forgotten History' in all its forms amid possible changes and adjustments. In an open minded frame of reference, I assure you they will be for improvement and quality. I will most likely maintain my equilibrium as well as my complete control. Thank you just the same.
Last, but not least
Finally, we have recently reached the milestone 2nd year of existence and entering onto a third year. Ya ! Here's to the upcoming weeks and months being full of further interesting information to pass on for your enjoyment and consideration. Thank you for your patronage!
We are nearing that peculiar season of the year many of us get the cold, grey blahs. To get a glimpse of melting snow and the sun peeking out from behind wintry clouds does have the opposite effect. You are not alone. Snow and ice are beautiful and serene, until you have to defrost the car or truck and shovel the knee deep white stuff! In a few months again the birds will be tweeting, flowers growing and the spring sunshine will begin working its lush magic. In the mean time, please bear with me and look forward as I attempt to get back on track with key ingredients for the particular recipes needed for brewing our regional history!
Happy New Year!