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Continental Square.jpg

Continental Square in York, Pa. Courtesy of the York History Center.

The metallic reverberating sound of gongs repeatedly sounded throughout downtown York, Pa., in August of 1925. It was a sound people recognized as the alert on a fire truck. Somewhere in York, a fire was burning.

 

“During the disturbance patrons of theaters, hurriedly snatched their wraps and fled from the amusement places to ‘go to the fire.’ Others telephoned or went to their homes,” The York Dispatch reported.

People attending a municipal band concert at Farquhar Park heard the gongs over the music and streamed out of the park, seeking the fire or their homes to make sure that it wasn’t burning.

The problem was that there was no fire. “A callithumpian band mounted on a truck which also carried, despite their objections the bride and bridegroom, coursed about downtown streets for about an hour last evening,” The York Dispatch reported.

According to the Merriam-Webster website, “callithumpian” is a word that dates back to 19th century England to describe a very boisterous gathering. A callithumpian band wasn’t a performing band. The musicians used noisemakers, such as pots, tin horns, and cowbells, more than instruments. In the case of this callithumpian band, one of the instruments was gongs with a tone that matched the fire gongs.

While the noise was certainly disturbing, because the bells and gongs mimicked those used by the city’s fire engines, it “gave people who heard but could not see the unique procession, the impression that the whole fire department was out hunting a blaze and could not find it,” the newspaper reported.

The groom was J. Morris Crum who had married Alice Thompson in late July in the Grace Evangelical Church. When they returned from their honeymoon to their home on East King Street, they were carried away to a truck by the serenaders.

At first the noise truck seemed content to circle Continental Square, but after it went around several times, Patrolmen Binder, whose beat the square, stopped the truck. He informed the driver that Mayor Ephraim Smyser Hugentugler had recently ruled that vehicles could not circle the square more than once.

“The information did not seem to discourage the celebrants, for they eliminated the square but kept in the central section of the city for some time afterward,” The York Dispatch reported.

After the band continued to cause concern among the citizens, several policemen stopped the truck along its new route. The driver of the truck produced a permit signed by the mayor and the police officers reluctantly let the loud band continue on.

It turns out that the permit was a fake, a fact that wasn’t discovered until the next day.

After an hour or so of noise and fear, the group on the truck finally tired and broke up.

Mayor Hugentugler was asked the next day why he had signed the permit and the mayor denied having done so.

“He said that if he had been in the city last night the party would have been arrested,” the newspaper reported.

He added that if something similar happened again, he would order the police to make “wholesale arrests” because the group’s actions had overstepped the bounds of propriety.

Hugentugler served as York’s mayor from 1916 to 1928. He was a man known to take strong actions. During World War I, he had banned anti-war meetings in the city and prohibited the publishing of anti-war literature, according to the Political Strange Names blog. Hugentugler, “even went as far as to erect a wooden bust of Kaiser Wilhelm in York’s Centre Square that citizens could pound a nail into (at the low price of ten cents a nail!),” the blog noted.

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logoIt’s bad enough to get a call that your son’s in jail and needs you to bail him out, but what happens when you show up at the county jail with bail money and the corrections officer has never heard of your son? You may want to look at a map.

James Ridings was a 21 year old from Keyser, W.Va. was driving through Franklin County, Pa., on the evening of April 7, 1961. He was a mile north of Waynesboro, Pa., when he pulled onto the Waynesboro-Quincy road from a side street without paying attention to oncoming traffic. His car hit a northbound car being driven by Kenny Cook, Jr. from Quincy, Pa.

The crash sent Cook’s car off the road and into a tree. The impact pushed one of the front wheels on the car back three feet. Despite the force of the impact, Cook and his wife, Paneye, only suffered bruises and contusions. They were taken to Waynesboro Hospital and released, but their car was a total loss.

Pennsylvania State Police charged Ridings with failing to yield the right of way, and he was taken to the Franklin County jail.

Ridings used his phone call at the jail to contact his parents and ask them to come get him and bail him out of jail. Then he waited in his cell for his parents to arrive. In those days, the trip from the Keyser to Waynesboro took anywhere from 2 to 2 ½ hours depending on traffic and the route driven. That time passed and then even more with no sign of his parents.

Ridings eventually fell asleep and when he woke up in the morning, his parents still hadn’t arrived.

Then the jailer gave Ridings the news. His parents had set out for Waynesboro immediately after his call and made it to Waynesboro in about 3 ½ hours. The problem was it was Waynesboro, Va.

“This morning they phoned a message to their son telling him they were then setting out for Waynesboro, Pa. and Chambersburg,” the Chambersburg Public Opinion reported.

Both towns are named for the Revolutionary War General Anthony Wayne. To make matters even more confusing there is also the Borough of Waynesburg, Pa., in Greene County that is named after Wayne.

While it is understandable that Waynesboro, Pa., would be named after Wayne since the general was a Pennsylvanian, his bravery and battle victories during the War for Independence, earned him many namesakes. Besides Waynesboro, Va., there are six other cities, two communities, 14 counties, five towns, a forest, a river, 16 schools, 23 streets and highways, five townships, five villages and at least 17 businesses and structures that are named in honor of the general nicknamed Mad Anthony.

So Ridings’ parents could be forgiven their mistake. They were probably lucky that they didn’t wind up in Waynesburg Borough, the community of Wayne, Wayne County or Wayne Township, all of which are also in Pennsylvania.

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Howard Swain of York, Pa., considered himself an unlucky man, so much so, that even when he was lucky, he saw it as unlucky.

For starters, he was 40-year-old divorced man. It wasn’t a situation he would have wanted, but there you have it. He was unlucky, although the marriage probably wasn’t a happy one so ending it could have been seen as lucky.

Swain was a carpenter by trade, but business was slow so he was forced to live with his sister and brother-in-law in their spare bedroom at their home at 10 N. Pearl Street in York. Again, Swain saw this as unlucky, although he was lucky to have a place to live while he got back on his feet.

Then there was the auto accident in August 1925. Swain was driving a car in which his sister and another woman were passengers. They were driving down a straight hill above Dover, “when suddenly probably due to the condition of the road, for it was raining, the car skidded and was turned over several times,” according to the York Dispatch. Luckily, no one was killed, but everyone got thrown about pretty hard.

Of course, seeing the negative in everything, Swain said that he had internal injuries. He was examined at the West Side Sanitarium and no evidence of an injury could be found.

The following morning, near noon, Swain’s sister heard a gunshot. She ran upstairs and found her brother lying on the floor bleeding. She called to her husband, W. R. Jackson, who rushed to the Reliance Fire House and notified the police officer there. The officer and Jackson went to the office of Dr. W. H. Horning, only to find that he was out. They then went to the office of Dr. L. W. Fishel, who returned with them to the house on Pearl Street.

Someone had already notified Dr. Horning. He was examined Swain, loaded him into his car, and driven him back to the West Side Sanitarium, where Swain had been the previous evening after the auto accident.

It was determined that Swain had placed a .32-caliber revolver in his mouth and pulled the trigger in an attempt to kill himself. The newspaper reported, “the bullet of which was deflected from its course by the upper half of a set of false teeth, which was found by the side of the bed in his room in which the shooting took place.”

The bullet had exited at the bottom of his jaw just below his chin. Swain eventually recovered from the accident.

The newspaper noted that “Despondency had been a constant companion of Swain.”  He had even threatened to kill himself over the preceding weeks. The closest he had come to acting on that threat was when he brought home a rusty .32-caliber pistol that was so in need of repair that the hammer could not even be pulled back.

Most likely cursing his bad luck, Swain had tossed it into the cellar.

At some point, he must have cleaned it up enough to use because this was the revolver that he had shot himself with.

Although Swain’s broken plate had saved his life, he probably saw it as unlucky that it had broken.

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kumbuka-gorilla-london-zoo-8238252f-05fb-43f2-ac6f-d6d159dcdbf3.jpgThrough much of 1921, many Adams County, Pa., residents practiced “gorilla” warfare.

“Fleeter of foot than Paddock the great California sprinter, more strongly built for endurance than Jack Dempsey, the heavyweight champion, and far more elusive than a bootlegger to would be captors is the one and only Gorilla,” the Gettysburg Times reported.

That’s right, county residents were hunting an actual gorilla. The first local report appeared in the newspaper on January 20, but it seemed that word might have been circulating already about the creature.

A small group of people first saw the gorilla sitting on a rock near Mount Rock. “When the monstrous animal saw that it was discovered by some Mount Rock citizens, it arose, stretched itself, and disappeared into a nearby wood, according to the report,” the newspaper said.

This first story was met with hearty skepticism. The newspaper quoted a Gettysburg citizen as saying, “It is evident that some of my Mount Rock friends are seeing more peculiar visions now than they did before the advent of the Eighteenth Amendment.”

After the 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution had been ratified in 1919, national prohibition of alcohol production and sale had started at the beginning of the year.

Two days after the initial report, the Gettysburg Times announced in a headline that the gorilla story wasn’t a myth. It stated that the existence of the creature had been verified by authentic sources.

“The animal described by some as a gorilla and by others as a kangaroo was first seen at Snyder’s hill between York Springs and Idaville where a number of men failed in a combined attempt to capture or shoot it,” the newspaper reported.

Fifty armed men had chased the creature trying to capture it without any luck.

It was believed that the gorilla had escaped “from a circus train during a wreck several months ago.” However, the only known circus train wreck in 1920 has been in Canada when the Christy Bros. Circus train wrecked on May 25.

The newspaper reports also noted that no damage had been attributed to the gorilla, although it had been blamed for a smokehouse robbery.

Tensions among county residents rose as they searched for the gorilla. On January 25, the Hanover Evening Sun reported that Abraham Lau of Franklintown had walked out to his backyard to get a bucket of coal when he thought he saw the gorilla. He ran back into the house and grabbed his rifle. When he went back outside, he raised his gun and fired at the mule.

It turns out that he had shot at his neighbor’s mule that had wandered over to his yard. Luckily, the mule wasn’t severely wounded.

The same couldn’t be said for a dog in Rouzerville three days later.

At dusk, the gorilla was seen in an alleyway in Rouzerville. The woman who saw it raised the alarm and the men grabbed their rifles and chased it out of town. They tried to circle the hill where it had run, but it apparently escaped. However, “A black dog running through the underbrush paid the death penalty when an excited hunter mistook it for the ape,” the Gettysburg Times reported.

Somehow the gorilla passed the hunters and went back into town where it was seen again causing alarm.

It was then seen the next day in Monterey. Two men thought they saw a man approaching them on all fours. “When they called the animal rose on its hind legs and came toward them making gurgling sounds. The young men did not investigate further,” the Gettysburg Times reported.

On Feb. 5, John Simmons saw the gorilla walking through a field near Pen Mar. He said that since it was broad daylight, he could see that the creature was definitely a gorilla.

Reports of the gorilla then vanished from the newspapers until August when it was seen in Gettysburg on lower York St. The man who saw it ran into his house, grabbed his rifle and shot at it. When it fell to the ground, he thought that he had killed it.

“Thinking he had bagged his game the gunner went toward the fallen animal. When only a few feet away the beast jumped to its hand legs and chased the man into the house,” the Gettysburg Times reported.

More residents grabbed their rifles and chased the gorilla out of town. It was last seen heading toward Biglerville, but it supposedly left behind footprints that were identified as a gorilla’s.

The Gettysburg Times, which had once proclaimed that the gorilla was not a myth now took a more skeptical approach. “One night he is seen cavorting over the hillsides between York Springs and Gardners in northern Adams county. The next night he looms up in Biglerville, then Gettysburg and ere a week flits by he is seen in the hills of Franklin county of Maryland. What an asset to a football coach planning for a successful season would be this never weary animal who flits from mountain top to mountain,” the newspaper reported.

There was at least one more gorilla sighting in 1921. Ray Weikert said that he saw the gorilla crossing a street that he was riding along in late August. Weikert saw it crossing the street, not too far in front of his horse “Not only did the young man see the beast, but the horse as well, and it was with difficulty it was kept from running away,” the Star and Sentinel reported.

The gorilla purportedly leisurely crossed the road walking on its hind legs. It then climbed the fence and walked into the underbrush.

After a black bear was seen in the county in early November, the Gettysburg Times suggested that maybe all of the gorilla sightings were actually people seeing a black bear.

We’ll never know, though. The gorilla was never captured and reports of sightings ended.

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7277782_f260.jpgPresident Woodrow Wilson turned to conscription as a way to raise an army to fight in World War I. The Selective Service Act of 1917 allowed required all men between 21 and 31 years old to register for the draft, though there were exceptions for dependency, essential occupations, and religious convictions. Local draft boards issued draft calls and determined exemptions. During 1917 and 1918, 24 million men registered and about 3 million of them were drafted into the armed forces. About 3,127 of them were from Franklin County.

Though there was some opposition and fraud, the World War I draft proceeded far more smoothly than the Civil War-era drafts.

One man who didn’t want to fight (at least in the war) was Daniel Kenney of Waynesboro, Pa. When the Franklin County draft board issued a draft call for September 12, 1918, Kenney was in jail.

This registration was the third and final registration call during World War I. The first registration had been on June 5, 1917, to register all eligible men. The second registration on June 5, 1918, was to register men who had turned 21 since the first registration. The September 12 registration was to register all men between 18 and 45 years old because the service age had been extended.

Being in jail was no excuse for getting registered, though. Kenney’s jailer asked him if he needed to register. Kenney said no, he was 49 years old and overage for registering with the draft.

“This was seriously doubted on account of his youthful appearance and Chief Gillan who know Kenney well began an investigation to learn whether this were true,” reported the Waynesboro Daily Record in October 1918.

So the police chief began an investigation into Kenney’s background. Gillan contacted the Hagerstown chief of police to search for Kenney’s marriage certificate, which had occurred in Washington County. The information on the certificate showed that Kenney had been 22 years old when he was married in 1911, which made him 29 years old on September 12, not 49.

Kenney was once again arrested but this time on a federal charge of evading the draft. He was taken to Chambersburg in October where he had a hearing before a United States commissioner and was found guilty.

If he could have held out a little longer Kenney might have gotten away with it. After the armistice was signed on November 11, which ended WWI, selective service organizations were closed. By the end of March 1919, local and district draft boards were closed.

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One of the aircraft spotting stations in Adams County during WWII. This one was located in Biglerville, PA. Gettysburg had one station located on the roof of the First National Bank building in downtown Gettysburg.

Early in the morning of June 22, 1943, air raid sirens blared throughout Adams County. People stumbled out of their beds, tripping in the dark because they couldn’t turn on any lights. Within an hour, it was obvious that the county had bombed.

The county hadn’t been bombed. It had bombed as in “failed.”

“If the surprise air raid test early Tuesday morning had been the real thing the amount of damage done in Adams County would have been terrible,” a member of the County Council of Defense told the Gettysburg Times.

Adams County had been staging air raid drills since the United States had entered World War II, but the U.S. Army had taken over running them in mid-June 1943 and within a week, ran its first drill. The army sent the alert at 4:10 a.m. and the yellow alarm was sounded 15 minutes later. In Gettysburg, the alarm was the undulating sound of the siren on the Gettysburg Fire Hall.

Lights should have been doused and blackout shades drawn all around the county. Instead, people stumbled around in a sleepy daze as the siren became an annoying alarm.

“So realistic was the test, the first sprung by the army, that a number of persons were fearful it was a real raid after they had discovered that the test was in progress,” the Gettysburg Times reported.

The blue alarm was sent at 4:35 a.m., though it didn’t sound until 4:42 because of the volume of telephone calls being made. The only operator on duty at the Gettysburg phone exchange began fielding lots of calls from firemen who wanted to know where the fire was. One of the members of the County Council of Defense said, “The magnificent work of the single operator on duty prevented complete collapse of the local system and allowed the air raid calls to go through.”

The hundreds of air raid wardens throughout the county (Gettysburg alone had 179 wardens and 35 highway entrance police) should have been outside by then walking along their streets to make sure no lights could be seen and people had taken cover. Spotters should have been at their station of the roof of the First National Bank looking for enemy aircraft. That wasn’t the case. Only a small portion had heeded the alarm.

“A number of county communities did not receive the alarms apparently because sleeping wardens did not hear their phones or failed to distinguish their ring on the party lines,” the Gettysburg Times reported.

Early morning defense workers had to dress in the dark and couldn’t leave their homes in time to get to work.

The all-clear alarm finally sounded at 5:02 a.m., less than an hour after the original alarm had been sounded.

People took a deep breath and began assessing what had happened. New Oxford and McSherrystown hadn’t even staged a blackout. When the army took over the air raid drills, the phrasing of how the drill alerts were made was changed. Though it was supposed to be simpler, it turned out to be confusing and so those communities hadn’t even realized that they were in the midst of an air raid drill. The county switched back to using the original phraseology a few weeks later.

In Gettysburg, Texas Hot Weiners, Dr. Bruce N. Wolff and the Sweetland Plaza Restaurant were all fined $5 and court costs for not adhering to blackout conditions.

“The test was the most unsuccessful held so far in regards to performance, but it was the most successful in revealing flaws in the system,” a Defense Council official told the Gettysburg Times.

Another change that was found to be necessary was a new alarm at the fire hall so that the air raid signals wouldn’t be mistaken for a fire alarm. On the east side of Gettysburg, the alarm had been confused with factory whistles, adding to residents’ confusion.

“That the present differentiation is not distinct enough to make everyone understand immediately that is an air raid alarm was proved all too well this morning. If they raid had been real, the result would have been tragic,” the Defense Council official said.

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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

tecumsah

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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