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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  August, 2009

Did You Know?

Did you know that a future U.S. president, while making a stop through Fayette County, once “sponsored” the baptism of a baby in Brownsville?

On August 26th, 1905, the Connellsville Courier told the story of how Major General Andrew Jackson had been present at the Presbyterian Church in Brownsville in March of 1825.

It had been one of a number of visits to Fayette County by the eventual seventh President of the United States.

In 1905, the baby, Andrew Jackson Isler, had become 81 years-old. Isler still cherished the engraved silver medal he was given as his christening present by Andrew Jackson.

Jackson would return to Brownsville four years later. He was the president-elect at the time, and he was heading to Washington for his inauguration.

Did you know that while George Washington made several stops through what would later become Fayette County, two of his nephews, and one of their cousins were buried near Brownsville?

In the August 22nd, 1872 edition of the Petersburg (Va.) Index, I found the story of George Washington’s two nephews who were taking 85 of their slaves from Eastern part of Virginia to the West.

According to the story, when the slaves and their slave owners reached Brownsville in April of 1818, a number of the slaves poisoned Archibald and John H. Washington, and their cousin.

They died, and were buried nearby. As the story goes, “a tavern keeper, named Vershors, undertook to conduct the slaves to Wheeling after the murder of their owners, and on arriving there, he, too, fell a victim to their malice, and he died by poison.”

Did you know that a Fayette County tribunal once upheld the firing of a teacher after she was considered “immoral” for “permitting sexual intimacies on the promise of matrimony,” even though she would later marry the man and give birth to his child?

What’s ironic is the headline that accompanied the report of the ruling in the Uniontown Evening Standard on February 8th, 1938: IMMORALITY CHARGE AGAINST MARRIED SCHOOL TEACHER IS SUSTAINED BY THE LOCAL COURTS.

Two Fayette County judges (W. Russell Carr and Horatio S. Dumbauld) ruled against the dismissed Upper Tyrone Township school teacher.

The dissenting judge, Harry A. Cottom, maintained that the teacher had actually been “a victim of another,” and that “as the injured party, she is entitled to the protection of the law, not punished by it.”

The majority ruled the teacher’s action was “a violation of the criminal laws of the Commonwealth, hostile to the general public and harmful in its influence upon the minds and characters of the pupils of Fayette County.”

Did you know that a Brownsville couple became the parents of septuplets in 1899?

According to the September 17th, 1899 edition of the Atlanta Constitution, “Seven at one birth came to Mrs. George Hackett of Brownsville, Pa.”

Mr. Hackett, a mine laborer, and his wife lived in a cottage on Water Street, and they already had two children.

Unfortunately, despite the seven children being alive and “perfectly formed” at birth, all but one of them died within minutes.

Did you know that some of the most historic developments in our nation’s history weren’t really considered big deals at the time?
Let’s look at the coverage of the Gettysburg Address.

Well, it wasn’t front page news either - not even in Gettysburg.

On November 24th, 1863, the Adams Sentinel and General Advertiser of Gettysburg printed the complete text of the most famous speech in American history – but on page 2.

Then there’s our Declaration of Independence. While it was dated July 4th, 1776 – when it was first printed in England, in the August 15th edition of the London’s General Evening Post, it wasn’t exactly front page news. It shared space on that newspaper’s page two, with an ad for boot polish.

The same with the verbatim printing of the U.S. Constitution in London’s Daily Universal Register, which appeared on page three.

One could easily argue that an upstart colony boldly declaring itself free in 1776, and then profoundly proclaiming itself to be a fully formed Democracy in 1787 - may not have been the stuff of front page news in England.

Fortunately, England didn’t hold a grudge.

The Lebanon (Pa.) Daily News on June 6th, 1953 was among the newspapers around the world to chronicle the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. A Uniontown native was the American representative at that event.

“The Prime Minister of Great Britain, Sir Winston Churchill, enter the (Westminster) abbey in procession with all the prime ministers of the commonwealth.
When he came to his seat, he did not sit down immediately. Instead, he stepped to one side to greet the American representative of the coronation, Gen. George Marshall,” it said.

Three months later Marshall would return to Uniontown for a visit. Two months after being greeted by his hometown friends, he would head to Oslo, Norway where he would receive the Nobel Prize for Peace.