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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  April, 2008

Did You Know?
By Al Owens
…Phoebe Ann Mosey paid at least three visits to Fayette County. Who? Well, Phoebe Ann Mosey was her real name. The rest of the world knew her as Annie Oakley.

The world famous sharpshooter showed off her uncanny shooting skills in 1895, 1909 and 1912 in Fayette County.
Her 1909 came by invitation of the Fayette Gun Club. The other visits were with travelling shows.
In fact, Oakley wasn’t the main draw when she appeared with one of the greatest showmen of all time, “Buffalo” Bill Cody.

Cody brought his “Buffalo Bill’s Great Wild West Show” to Fayette County in 1895, 1901, 1907 and 1912. And with each visit, there would be newspaper coverage that chronicled the unloading of the show’s animals and staging.

The Connellsville Daily Courier wrote just of the show’s arrival at the train station in 1907, “Water Street was crowded all morning. Hundreds of people stood in the rain for hours, watching the picturesque scene.”

After the trains were emptied, there were also parades through the streets of Connellsville that featured the one man who rivaled the master, P.T. Barnum, in showmanship – “Buffalo” Bill Cody himself.
“He (Cody) received an ovation coming up Main Street, which was repeated when the American soldiers with the stars and stripes went by,” said the Connellsville Weekly Courier in September of 1895.

Did you know that Annie Oakley and “Buffalo” Bill Cody were hardly the only stars of the Wild West to have visited Fayette County over the years?

In May of 1939, movie cowboy Hoot Gibson made an appearance in Connellsville.
Gibson, a “rootin-tootin’ shoot-em-up star of moving pictures,” according to the Connellsville Daily Courier, was the featured act of the Russell Brother’s Circus that was appearing at Fayette Field.

Gibson eventually starred in 217 movies, but another movie star who’d starred in 480 movies brought his live show to Fayette County in April of 1926.

Silent film veteran Snub Pollard performed on stage for three shows each during his three days at the State Theatre in Uniontown. It must have been a rather interesting engagement.

The audiences would see Pollard perform in person, and then they’d see him on the State Theatre screen in the 1922 comedy “365 Days.”

Pollard gained much of his fame by co-starring silent film legend Harold Lloyd. He would also co-star with screen cowboy Tex Ritter in a series of films.
Ritter, by the way, was another veteran cowboy actor who paid Fayette County a visit. He, and his wonder horse “White Flash,” appeared on stage at the Roosevelt Theatre in Republic in May of 1948.

According to the Uniontown Morning Herald, two local youngsters (Joe and Tommy George, the sons of Mallard and G.T. George) got the “thrill of a lifetime,” when they had their picture taken and published the following day.
Four months later, Ritter became a father. His son, the late comic actor John Ritter, was born in September.

Tex Ritter wasn’t the only movie cowboy to bring his famous horse to the city for a personal appearance.

The most famous was Roy Rogers, who appeared on stage at the Penn Theatre in Uniontown with his horse Trigger, on June 12th, 1941.

According one of the Evening Standard’s Junior Reporters, Dick Gray, Rogers appeared in conjunction with the playing of his movie “Sheriff of Tombstone.” It was a day that helped Gray chose Roy Rogers over Gene Autry as his favorite cowboy.

It’s not known if that enterprising young reporter followed Roy Rogers to Lake Lynn that day. It was reported that Rogers and Trigger would also attend a special eighth birthday party for the son of a corporation executive.
Did you know that a man once known as “The King of Jazz” once performed in Uniontown? He did, and I’ll tell you about it next week.