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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  November, 2009

Did You Know?

Did you know that when the Baldwin Automobile Manufacturing Company began building its steam-powered cars in South Connellsville in 1900, one of the first people to have ordered an automobile was a man who’d later claim to be the first person to reach the North Pole?

The June 29th, 1900 edition of the Connellsville Courier reported that Dr. Frederick A. Cook, the Brooklyn physician and “famous Arctic explorer” had been among the first people to place an order to buy the locally produced vehicles.

Cook’s claim that he’d reached the North Pole on April 22, 1908, was later disputed - and was eventually widely discounted.

While Fayette County’s entrance into the automobile manufacturing industry began in 1900, did you know that there was still a serious accident involving a horse-driven wagon five decades later?

According to the September 30th, 1952 edition of the Uniontown Morning Herald, “A well-intended horse-and-buggy ride in connection with Old Fashioned Bargain Days here in ended in a mishap yesterday injuring three people.”

The horse had apparently bolted when the brakes on the carriage failed. The carriage tumbled into Coal Lick Run below Mill Street.

One local woman was admitted to the hospital, while two others were treated and released.

While that accident seemed to officially end Fayette County’s horse and buggy days, did you know that a few months earlier, there was another, more modern, mode of transportation getting a lot of local attention?

The front page of the May 20th, 1952 edition of the Uniontown Evening Standard carried a hand drawn map that showed the routes from Uniontown to that “new” Greater Pittsburgh Airport.

The accompanying news story indicated distance was 60.9 miles. James L. Dunn, the president-manager of the AAA Uniontown Motor Club had personally “scouted” the route, and he provided specific details on how to get to the airport from Uniontown.

The new airport was ready to schedule flights through five carriers. Passage on all of those carriers, of course, could be obtained through the local Motor Club.

Chances are that no matter how busy the Greater Pittsburgh Airport was in those days, it didn’t produce nearly as much air traffic over Uniontown, as the U.S. Army did on one day in 1931.

Did you know that on June 2nd, 1931 there was an estimate that 150 Army planes were to have flown over Uniontown?

The Evening Standard reported that by press time that day, 80 planes had already been spotted.

They were heading westward from Washington, D.C. and Cumberland after taking part in air maneuvers.

Unrelated to the air maneuvers, but part of the same news story, there was also word that a hospital “ship” was coming to Fayette County to pick up two men who’d suffered minor injuries the previous Sunday, “when their army plane squatted through trees at the Summit Hotel golf course while attempting a force(d) landing and cracked up.”

A few days later, a Fayette County doctor employed a “brand new method” for determining the sobriety (or the lack of it) of a driver who’d been charged with “driving an automobile while under the stimulating influence of intoxicants,” or as they say today, drunk driving.

The June 11th, 1931 edition of the Uniontown Daily News Standard carried the front page story of a Newell man who was put through the usual tests for drunkenness when he’d been stopped by the police the previous January.

The doctor then had the man recite the phrase, “Around the ragged rock ran the ragged rascal,” to see if the man who get through it without any problems.

However, the man was apparently an immigrant who, according to the story spoke, “English not so good,” and he failed the doctor’s test.

The jury found the man not guilty because it ruled the test, itself, “wasn’t good enough.”

Did you know that in 1952 there was a near panic when supplies of bread to Uniontown were nearly cut-off?

In early May of that year a Chauffeurs, Teamsters and Helpers Union strike caused the shelves of most local grocery stores to be without supplies of bread.

The May 6th edition of the Evening Standard reported that local bakeries that had their bread supplies shipped from Pittsburgh were also without any loaves.

However, within days, while the strike continued, Martin’s, Young’s and Richey’s bakeries were beginning to increase their supplies. Soon they began selling bread from their own stores.

Did you know that when a Lebanon Avenue woman answered a knock on her front door in June of 1931, she got “one of the biggest thrills of her some 80 years of life?”

The June 3rd, 1931 edition of the Daily News Standard carried the front page story about how Mrs. Ellen Garwood had opened her front door and saw her brother, J.M. Williams of San Jose, California, whom she hadn’t seen in over 50 years.

They’d played together near Brownsville as children.
But when the family separated when they were children, Williams went west, while his sister stayed east.
Aside from one visit Mrs. Garwood paid her brother in California, she hadn’t seen him in over a half century.

Did you know that at one time during the Civil War, Uniontown was thought to have been in as much jeopardy of attack by southern rebels as Gettysburg?

The Library of Congress and newspapers from around the country support that. I’ll present the details next week.