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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  August, 2009

Did You Know?

Did you know that February of 1931 marked a somewhat notable, but odd milestone in Fayette County history?

It was considered a “murderless” court term. In other words, for the first time in 25 years, Fayette County’s criminal courts would not hold a trial for a murder that had been committed during the previous three months. That got headlines.

According to the Connellsville Daily Courier on February 13th of that year, in “olden days” there had been between four and eight murders committed for each three month criminal court term.

Fayette County’s District Attorney, J.B. Adams claimed he knew the reason for the sudden drop in the county murder rate – Prohibition.

“Times are better. I can and so can you remember a Saturday or Sunday did not pass but there was a shooting or a cutting, usually ending in a murder and there was not a night when we had nine saloons running on Main Street but that the town was full of drunks,” Adams told the Daily Courier.

He was obviously pleased with his assessment of the drop in alcohol induced violence, because it was reported that “his angular features (were) lighting with the glow of enthusiasm as he portrayed and compared conditions then and now.”

During that same criminal court term, there were, however, a number of rather strange court cases that made front page news.

On February 17th, 1931 a New Geneva woman had been granted a divorce from her husband after he’d not taken a bath in seven years.

She had been married to her railroad car repairman husband since November of 1916. He’d refused to take a bath until his wife told him she’d read where a woman in a similar situation had been granted a divorce when her husband had refused to take a bath in nine years.

Well, the New Geneva woman’s husband finally took his bath. But the judge still granted her a divorce – but for additional forms of alleged cruelty.
On March 3rd, 1931 the Uniontown Daily News Standard reported that an Edenborn man, who’d been on trial for the “felonious cutting” of a man in Oliver, died while he was waiting for the verdict of the jury.

The article claimed it was “the first time in Fayette County history that a verdict was returned in favor of a dead man.”

He had been in the courtroom the previous day as the judge had directed the jury to return with its verdict the following morning.

However, three hours after the proceeding was adjourned for the day, the defendant “became violently ill of acute indigestion,” and he died before a doctor could rush to his aid.

The following morning the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. The Deputy Clerk of Courts was said to have been “scratching his head,” because the dead defendant was ordered to pay half the court costs – and he didn’t know where to send the bill.

Did you know that while an increasing number of states have curbed the use of cell phones while driving, there was once a time when Uniontown’s public officials hailed the initial use of “mobile phones” in cars?

On March 11th, 1952 Uniontown Mayor J. Watson Sembower appeared on the front page of the Uniontown Morning Herald smiling, while making the very first mobile telephone call ever made in Fayette County.

At the time there had only been 28 local subscribers who’d signed up for Bell Telephone Company’s brand new mobile telephone service.

Of course, in those days there were none of those arguably annoying ringtones. A person receiving a call in their car would be alerted by a flashing light, and the sound of a bell emanating from their dashboard.

With unemployment still on the rise these days, and unemployment compensation becoming more and more prevalent, it’s interesting to note that in 1938 – during the Great Depression – the unemployed received only a fraction of what they receive today.

According to the February 8th, 1938 edition of the Uniontown News Standard, 5,000 unemployment checks had arrived at the local post office.

The checks ranged from $7.50 to $15.00, with the average check amounting to $10.

The rush to the post office in 1938 may have been only exceeded by another post office run nearly 40 years later – but for a completely different reason.

Did you know that there was an extraordinary demand for the newly reissued $2 bill in April of 1976?

According to Uniontown Postmaster, Roy E. Jones, “people swarmed here as soon as windows opened yesterday morning.”

People, sensing they were about to get collector’s items, had gone to local banks and gotten the crisp $2 bills and had taken them to the post office to have a special stamp applied to them.

“Some people didn’t know why they wanted them stamped, only that’s what everybody else was doing,” Jones said.

He said one woman went to the post office with 200 bills she wanted stamped.

Unfortunately, because so many of the bills were stamped back then, in 2009 they have very little value as a collectable.

Did you know that a woman from Revere once had an extremely cruel joke played on her, when somebody called her and said he was her long lost son – but her son was actually missing-in-action in Korea at the time?

I’ll fill in the details next week.