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indians_del_11310_lgChiefs of the Iroquois Indians and members of Pennsylvania’s government met on November 5, 1768. They sat down together and negotiated what is now called the Treaty of Fort Stanwix. The agreement opened up the Conemaugh Valley and Stonycreek Valley by encouraging their settlement. When the treaty became effective the following April, a warrant was taken out for 249 acres between Conemaugh and Stonycreek rivers. What was initially an Indian town called Conemaugh eventually grew into Johnstown. It also opened up the shortest land route between Philadelphia and the Great Lakes, which was of interest to merchants.

The treaty was a turning point in relations between Whites and Indians in the region. By that time, the two cultures had been trading for about 40 years. The Treaty of Fort Stanwix marked a formal agreement to settle some of the land disputes between the two cultures. It also marked the beginning of some of the problems as formals promises were broken.

Early Contact

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Shawnee Chief Tecumseh

 

Although trade between White men and Indians in the region began in 1728, the White men weren’t living in the area. In fact, pacts that the Penn Family had made with the Indians closed off most of the Allegheny Wilderness from white settlements. White men only came into the area to trade with the Indians.

One of these traders, John Hart, was granted a license to trade with the Indians in 1744. He set up a camp where the Kittanning Indian Trail crossed the Eastern Continental Divide. It was called Hart’s Sleeping Place and “is the first place in Cambria County selected and frequented by white men,” according to the brochure, On the Pioneer Trail in Rural Cambria County.

The Shawonese and Delaware Indians were the principal inhabitants of the Conemaugh Valley, according to Kathy Jones, curator with the Cambria County Historical Society. Henry Wilson Storey also notes in his book, History of Cambria County that while these were the principal tribes, Indians from most of the regional tribes could be found in the area although not in any great numbers.

Records indicate that the Shawonese were near universally considered treacherous and fierce by White settlers while opinion was split about the Delawares, according to Storey.

“The Delawares were natives of Pennsylvania, and, while they were guilty of many acts of cruelty toward the whites, yet it was probably a matter of self-defense, as their property had been taken from them,” Storey wrote.

The largest point of contention between the Delawares and whites was called “The Walking Purchase” even though it didn’t occur in the Conemaugh and Stonycreek valleys. William Penn’s heirs used a 1686 deed to claim land that the Lenape (or Delawares) had agreed to sell them. The Lenape promised to sell the amount of land from a point near modern-day Easton as far west as a man could walk in a day and a half. The Lenape assumed that the distance would be about 40 miles, but in 1737, John and Thomas Penn arranged for the three fastest runners in the Pennsylvania colony to run the trail. The furthest runner went 70 miles and the Whites claimed 1.2 million acres.

 

Shawnee house

A typical Shawnee home.

The Lenape were forced to leave the area and they migrated west with a distrust of White men. Bad interactions like this led to problems.

 

The Shawonese originally arrived in Pennsylvania from the Carolinas in 1698. The Delawares welcomed them, but even they had trouble with the Shawonese. In 1732, it was estimated that there were 700 fighting Indians in Pennsylvania and of that number about half were Shawonese.

“Ever restless and quarrelsome themselves, and being encroached upon by the white man, they retired from one hunting ground to another until they joined the French at Pittsburg, in 1755, and finally drifted to the west,” Storey wrote.

Hostilities

The Indians first mounted a large attack against White men in the area was during the Battle of the Monongahela in 1755. This was at the beginning of the French and Indian War. The French soldiers and Native American warriors joined to fight and defeat British General Edward Braddock.

Braddock was mortally wounded during the battle and died near present-day Uniontown.

Years later, Native Americans started warring on their own against White settlers and the British.

“The Native Americans were upset over British laws being enforced by General Jeffrey Amherst,” said Scott Perry, museum facilitator at the Bushey Run Battlefield.

One problem was that Amherst cut off the Native American supply of gunpowder, which they had grown dependent on for their hunting.

This was named Pontiac’s War after one of the leading Native American generals. The Native American raids were initially quite successful and the conflict spread from the Great Lakes region eastward into the Pennsylvania.

Col. Henry Bouquet was leading an expedition to help re-establish some of the forts in western Pennsylvania when his soldiers were attacked at Bushey Run. The battle that followed was a significant victory for the British and is said to have turned the tide of the war.

“Militarily, the British hadn’t known how to deal with the Native Americans,” Perry said. “However, the British not only defeated them, but defeated them in their own territories in their own kind of fight.”

Kittanning Trail

Shawnee-indian

A Shawnee Indian.

 

The Kittanning Trail was one of four major Indian trails that passed through Cambria County. It ran from Frankstown in Butler County, passing through Cambria County east of Carrolltown, and ended at Kittanning on the Allegheny River. It was used from 1721 to 1781 and helped bring white men into the region.

In the 1750s, Indians who were unhappy that they had lost much of their land rights because of the language of the “walking purchase”, would use the path to reach white settlements near the eastern end of the trail, raid them, and then retreat to Kittanning.

Col. John Armstrong pursued the Delaware Indian Shingas along the path in 1755 after Shingas had raided a white settlement and taken prisoners. Armstrong and his men went on to destroy Kittanning.

 End of Hostilities

In the end, it was simply a matter of numbers. White settlers kept moving into the region and easily outnumbered the small Indian population. The Kittanning Trail was essentially abandoned by 1781.

“By 1800, most Indians whose original homelands were within Pennsylvania’s borders had moved out of the state to new homes in Ohio, Canada, or farther west. With the exception of a small Seneca community living in the northwest corner of the state, there were no officially recognized reservations or self-governing Indian communities remaining within Pennsylvania’s borders,” according to ExplorePaHistory.com.

 

Shawnee Indian signing the treaty with William Penn

Shawnee Indians signing a treaty with William Penn.

Today

 

It’s hard to find traces of the Indians and White pioneers in the area nowadays. You can find some old cemeteries with the graves of white pioneers. One of these is Shanks Cemetery just south of the Chest Springs.

The Indian villages and original white settlements are gone or built over by modern incarnations like Johnstown being built where an Indian settlement had been. You can get an idea of what Indian villages of the time were like at the Fort Hill archaeological site near Confluence in Somerset County.

You can also visit the Bushey Run Battlefield and visitors’ center in Jeannette.

A section of the Kittanning Trail still exists at Carrolltown. It has been surveyed to match the original trail and preserved.

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What’s the oldest photographs that you have seen? I think most people would think of Civil War photos being the oldest, and at close to 160 years old, they are old.

 

They aren’t the oldest photos around, though. A few heliographic photos from the 1820s still exist. Joseph Nicéphore Niépce invented heliography in 1822. He used Bitumen of Judea, a naturally occurring asphalt, to coat on glass or metal. It hardened the more it was exposed to light. When the plate was then washed with oil of lavender, the hardened areas remained. It could then be printed as an engraving would be.

 

Then in the late 1830’s, Louis Daguerre brought the world what is considered the first true photographs. His process was called a daguerreotype. He exposed a silver-plated copper sheet to iodine crystal vapor. The interaction formed a coating of silver iodide, which is light sensitive, on the plate. The plate, which is in a camera, is then exposed to a scene.

 

The problem with both heliographs and daguerreotypes was that they required long exposures. Daguerre realized that shorter exposures created a faint image that could be developed into an easily visible image when exposed to mercury vapor heated to 75 degrees Celsius. The mercury vapor also set the image so that it could be no further developed.

 

A final wash in heated salt water then created a plate that was safe to be handled and displayed.

An article in National Geographic said that upon seeing his first developed image, Daguerre said, “I have seized the light – I have arrested its flight!”

Daguerreotypes are the first type of photos that reached America.

 

The reason I bring both of these up is that I found an interesting YouTube Channel by Chubachus. It shows a series of the oldest surviving photos in the United States. These photos date back to the early 1840s. Another video I found showed the oldest photos in the world, which are heliographs dating back to the 1820s.

These photos aren’t dramatic like many Matthew Brady’s photos from the Civil War, but it is fascinating to see images of the world that are nearly 200 years old.

Forget about imagining America from paintings or descriptions. Why watch a movie that creates an older America using CGI when you can look at the real thing?

The photos in these videos remind me of an article I once saw that showed photographs of people who had lived during the Revolutionary War who managed to still be alive when photography reached America.

For me, it was like having a window opened that looked into the past.

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Thurmont’s Western Maryland Railroad Station.

On March 2, 1915, David Firor kissed his wife goodbye and told her that he would be back on the evening train from Baltimore. Then he headed into the city to buy Easter items for his store on East Main Street in Thurmont.

 

That evening, “The train came but Dave did not come home, and it was taken for granted that he did not get to finish his shopping and remained until next day as he had done on future occasions,” the Catoctin Clarion reported.

When he failed to come home the next day, Firor’s wife and mother began to worry. They began to make inquiries at the places where he typically went, but no one could help them with any information.

Rumors began to run rampant. He had met with foul play in the streets of Baltimore. He was running from creditors because his business was about to go bankrupt. Both of these proved false.

Firor’s brother, J. W. Firor, was a professor at the University of Athens in Georgia. He took a leave of absence from his teaching to join his family in Thurmont. Then he set off for Baltimore to search for his brother in hospitals and other institutions.

Firor was 31 years old and had a medium build.  He stood 5 feet 6 inches tall and had black hair and eyes. He wasn’t particularly distinguishable from among hundreds of men in the city. J. W. made his inquiries, though, and walked through the hospital wards and looked at John Does in the morgue.

No sign could be found of him.

Ten days later, Grace Firor received a telegram from her husband. He was in Jacksonville, Florida.

“Losing all trace of his identity, knowing nothing whatever of his whereabouts until he was put ashore penniless from a dredge boat at Jacksonville, Florida, and cared for by a family of Italians, David Firor, of Thurmont, last Tuesday for the first time in a week realized who he was,” The Gettysburg Times reported.

The cause of the problem was what Firor called “sleepy-headedness” and the doctors called aphasia. In recent months, he had started sleeping a great deal of the time and when he slept, he was nearly impossible to wake. His mother even said that he could fall asleep talking or standing up.

Even after being found in Jacksonsville, he had an attack where he slept for 18 hours straight.

When asked about what had happened to him, Firor said that he couldn’t remember how he came to be on the boat. The last thing he remembered was speaking with Helen Rouzer, formerly of Thurmont, in a Baltimore Department Store.

He also had taken $60 with him to Baltimore when he left Thurmont. It was all missing when he reached Jacksonville. He didn’t remember what had happened to it, but since no orders were delivered to the store, he apparently didn’t spend the money on what it had been intended for.

Some people suggested that he may have been robbed. While this is a possibility, Firor still had his gold pocket watch on him when he was found. It seems unlikely that a robber wouldn’t have taken it as well.

Firor apparently never solved the mystery of what had happened to him during the missing days. He didn’t even know whether he had been conscious for most of them.

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diamonds.jpgIn 1922, York resident Herbert M. Rothery was 64 years old and at the top of his profession. His work was well-known in Europe, although nobody knows it was Rothery. Rothery was a jewel thief, in fact, newspaper reports called him the “Dean of Diamond and Jewelry Thieves.”

The York Dispatch noted that Rothery “is known not alone to the police of the United States, but has for years been sought by the authorities of the European continent. In England, where he once escaped from the Marlborough prison, his record is known to Scotland Yard and for years he was sought, without success, by the London metropolitan police.”

His escape from Marlborough prison was made in 1892, and he remained at large in Europe after that. He continued stealing and making good his escapes. He was feared because his targets were usually expensive hauls, and his getaways were clean.

“Men of Scotland Yard and continental police came to recognize Rothery’s work through it thoroughness and the absolute lack in any case of any definite trace or clue to the identity of the perpetrator of the crime,” the newspaper reported.

Rothery had a police record that dated back to 1886, according to an article in The Jeweler’s Circular. He fine-tuned his skills in Europe until his work was feared for its effectiveness and respected for it professional manner.

The York Dispatch also noted further evidence of Rothery’s success as a thief, writing, “Rothery bears evidence of prosperity, wears expensive clothing and has a distinguished air.”

Then he disappeared from Europe and never returned.

He began stealing again in the United States, but these were smaller jobs and sloppier. Now in his 60s, his skills may have been fading.

Although he was caught and imprisoned several times, he managed to escape despite extra precautions being taken. One of his techniques was to effect a disguise by dying his hair, goatee, and mustache.

He came to live in York for reasons unknown. He roomed with a family on Philadelphia Street near Pine Street. From York, he would make out-of-town trips for days and sometimes weeks, always returning.

“While he was living quietly in York last year, detectives believe, Rothery was planning big jewel and diamond robberies which, because of his arrest in Baltimore, he never got the opportunity to execute,” The York Dispatch reported.

He was arrested in 1919 in Baltimore after selling stolen jewelry to a fence. He was released on bail, but when his case came to trial, Rothery didn’t show, and by that time, he had also left York. He was finally arrested again while in St. Louis in 1922.

At that time, he was wanted in Syracuse, N. Y., for jumping bail; Washington, D. C. for jumping bail; Baltimore for escape; Ft. Madison, Iowa, for escape; Cincinnati for robbery; Buffalo, N. Y. for robbery; Sioux City, Iowa, for robbery; New Orleans for robbery; Denver for escaping from a cop after being charged with assault to kill; Atlanta for robbery; Omaha, Neb., for robbery; and Richmond for robbery.

“For many years he has been recognized as one of the most dangerous thieves operating against the jewelers of the country,” The Jeweler’s Circular noted.

The article also said that he was able to continually make bail because he had “powerful friends in New York and Chicago” who were willing to pay it when needed.

Once the extradition claims were sorted out, Rothery, who also went by the alias Henry McClelland, was sent back to Baltimore where he was sentenced to four years in the Maryland State Penitentiary there.

His luck had finally run out, and his long career had come to an end.

 

 

 

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History Imagined

Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

This much-abused quote is frequently tweaked to say “ignore” or “forget” history. Sometimes people simply choose to ignore it, particularly when there are profits to be made. So it is with the opioid industry, legal and illegal.

We are in the midst of an opioid epidemic that threatens to destroy a generation. The Center for Disease Control’s most recently published numbers are that 91 people a day are dying of opioid abuse of one form or another. One suspects the current number to be higher. One friend told me her son had lost ten friends to opioids. TEN! A recent article in The Guardian describes a ten-year high school reunion in which fully half the class was missing—dead from pills or heroin. It is now the leading cause of death for young people, beating out automobile accidents.

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razor_blade_020Men have shaved their faces for thousands of years. Some of the earliest materials for razors were clam shells, flint, shark’s teeth and pumice stones, all of which were sharpened on rocks. Though they worked, they certainly didn’t leave men’s cheeks feeling smooth as a baby’s bottom. There was also a danger of slicing your throat or your palm while getting rid of your five o’clock shadow.

Clean-shaven men were seen more commonly in the 11th Century. At that time, not only were people focusing more of personal grooming with things like perfumes, but the Roman Catholic Church began urging its men to shave as way to distinguish themselves from men of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The two churches had separated in 1054.

When men began working with metals, bronze razor blades appeared. However, it was the age of steel that allowed razor blades to make their greatest advances. As blacksmiths created sharper knives and axes with more-durable edges, it was only logical that they also use those skills to create better razors.

What has become known as the first modern razor was created by Benjamin Huntsman in the 1740. Huntsman worked in Sheffield, England, which would eventually give its name to the Sheffield Razor. Between 1740 and 1830, these blades were often marked as “cast steel” or “warranted.”

Huntsman used a special process to create steel with superior hardness so that it could hold a thin, sharp edge. These blades were easier to sharpen and held their edge longer. When these early blades did lose their edge, they were sharpened like knives were. Razor-Blades__74514_zoom

The next improvement to razors was to hollow grind them and replace the wedge-shaped edge with a concave, bevelled edge. Hollow-ground razors began showing up around 1825, though the process wouldn’t be fully refined until the end of the century.

As razors became sharper, some inventors began turning their eyes to increasing the safety of razors. The first safety razor was developed in 1770 by Jean-Jacques Perret of France. It was a straight razor with a wood guard. The Kampfe Brothers patented their safety razor in 1880. This razor had a removable handle, a head that caught excess lather and a wire guard along the blade.

King Gillette started developing his innovations to the safety razor in 1895. His idea was to use cheap, disposable blades in a safety razor. Producing this razor was still impossible until 1903 when MIT graduate William Nickerson helped Gillette develop the disposable blade.

Shaving now became convenient and easy. Gillette provided razors to the U.S. military, which allowed him to introduce millions of men to the new technology, which they then went on to use once they left the military.

Jacob Schick followed a different direction for improving the razor. He patented an electric razor in 1923.  However, the design was unwieldy and Schick continued to refine it until he began selling them in 1931.

The Gillette company also introduced the first cartridge razor in 1971. The cartridge had two fixed blades in it and could be easily attached to a handle.

Companies still continue to look for new innovations and refinements to help men and woman find the way to get a closer shave.

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This is a wonderful story about a heroic and humble man.

Pacific Paratrooper

William J. Crawford William J. Crawford

During every intermission I include at least one story from the European Theater.  This following article showed me once again the honor and humility that was common to the Greatest Generation.

Perhaps it was the way he carried himself in an unassuming and humble manner, but day after day hundreds of Air Force Academy cadets would pass this janitor in the hall oblivious to the greatness that was among them.

In the mid-1970s, William Crawford might spend one day sweeping the halls and another cleaning the bathrooms, but it was a day approximately 30 years prior that would create for him a special place in the history of war. In 1943 in Italy, the only thing  Private William Crawford was cleaning out was German machine gun nest and bunkers.

William Crawford – Medal of Honor recipient

Under heavy fire and at great risk to himself, his gallantry…

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