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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  February, 2010

Did You Know?
Did you know that operating trains on Sunday during the early part of the 20th Century was against the law in Uniontown?

The March 2nd, 1906 edition of the New York Times carried the story about the seven Baltimore and Ohio engineers and conductors who were fined four dollars apiece (plus court costs) for running their train in violation of Uniontown’s Sunday laws.

The article also said 11 more warrants were to be served.

Did you know that a Uniontown woman’s wedding once made national news because of its unusual circumstances?

The May 26th, 1946 edition of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette carried an Associated Press wire story about the marriage of a Uniontown woman who was allowed to marry her husband while he was serving a life sentence for murder in Florida.

The two first met and married in Uniontown while the man was fugitive from justice in 1921. As it turned out, that made him a bigamist.

After he was caught, and put behind bars (after forty years on the run), he divorced his first wife, and petitioned officials in Florida to marry the Uniontown woman.

They granted his request, and the couple was re-married at a Florida state prison in 1946.

Did you know that a Uniontown woman was once one of the finalists in the Miss America pageant?

In 1948, Lillian Hanford, a 1945 Uniontown High School graduate, was entered in the Miss America competition after she’d won a beauty contest in Uniontown, and then the title of “Miss City of Pittsburgh.”

She won a $1,000 scholarship and was among the 15 finalists that year.

Did you know that a 19 year-old woman once led a strike in Uniontown that resulted in an intervention by the U.S. Department of Labor and concessions by the company?

The April 4th, 1933 edition of the Pittsburgh Press carried extensive coverage of the strike called by 350 “factory girls” at the Berkowitz Shirt Factory in Uniontown.

When the plant announced it planned to institute a wage cut to its 1932 levels (the second wage cut that year), 19 year-old Edna Forman responded by calling a strike.

“All I can do is make a dollar a day now; what can I ask for under this wage cut?” Forman asked.

The strikers held firm for the better part of a week. Representatives of the Pennsylvania Department of Industry and Labor and U.S. Department of Labor were called in to mediate a settlement after several incidents of violence took place.

On April 9th the Press reported that the company had offered to withdraw its proposed wage cuts, and the women announced they would return to work, but after the U.S. Labor Dept. conciliator agreed to study work conditions at the factory.

Did you know that in May of 1917, sports enthusiasts from around the country gathered in Uniontown for some world class activities?

On May 10th, an estimated 30,000 people gathered at the Uniontown Speedway for the 100 mile auto race. Billy Taylor of Los Angeles was the winner, averaging 89.26 miles an hour. (By comparison, the average qualifying speeds at the Indianapolis 500 races of today sometimes top the 220 mile per hour mark.)

Louis Chevrolet, the co-inventor of the automobile that still carries his last name, finished fourth.

The day before the big race, another big sporting event took place at the West End Theatre in Uniontown.

Pittsburgh’s Harry Greb, a future World Middleweight Champion, fought that night.
He’d already fought in Connellsville in 1915. He would actually have four matches in Fayette County during his boxing career. He won all four.

But, perhaps, the one that was most crucial came in June of 1923. (He fought 16 times that year.)
The Uniontown Morning Herald reported that Greb hit his opponent with “everything but the water bottle,” before knocking him out in the third round.

Greb’s very next fight took place at the Polo Grounds in New York City two months after his victory in Uniontown. He won a 15 round decision to become the World Middleweight Champion.

He would also be known as the only person to have beaten boxing legend Gene Tunney.

Fayette County, by the way, has had a long history of sanctioned professional fights. The first was staged in 1895.

According to boxrec.com (an online repository for all known boxing matches through history) Uniontown has had 40 professional fights; Connellsville has had 39, while Brownsville has had six.

Of course, most of those events went off without a hitch, but I did find one oddity.

On May 8th, 1931 Allen Beatty won a fight against Johnny Brown. It seems that Brown was disqualified because, curiously, he “went down without getting hit.”

Did you know that a Fayette County election official was once kidnapped on Election Day?

I’ll fill you in on the details next week.