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|| General History
|| August, 2006
Abe Lincoln, A Fayette County Fan!
By Al Owens
I’ve always looked at my visits to libraries with a bit of trepidation. Not
because I wasn’t fond of the experience, but because I always go there looking
for one thing, and I end up finding dozens of facts not related to the purpose
for which I went there in the first place.
Once, while sifting through rolls of microfilm at The Uniontown Public Library,
I came across an interesting front page article that finally settled something
that I’d heard most of my life, but never quite believed. It was early 1900’s
newspaper article that proclaimed that Uniontown, Pennsylvania had more
millionaires per capita than any city in the country….! I was elated, because
I’d found the very newspaper article that confirmed all of those boastful
old-timers who used to make that claim. But for one thing! That sentence went on
to read “…except for Colorado Springs, Colorado”.
Oh Well! At least we were number two. I’d gone to the library that week to try
to find the first ever football game played by Uniontown High School. I found
that too. October 31st, 1903. Uniontown played Scottdale, but neither team
scored a point! They played that game at Baily Park, in the city with nearly the
most millionaires per capita than any city in country!
If you look around in libraries and on the internet you can find out all kinds
of things about Fayette County. Once the Uniontown High School basketball team,
for instance, got its picture in the Chicago Daily News. That’s because they’d
played in the National High School Basketball Championship in Chicago at the end
of the 1925 season.
Uniontown had just won the State Championship in Pennsylvania and in those days
teams from across the country would play for a national championship.
Unfortunately, our team lost to a team from Wichita, Kansas. But that didn’t
stop our team’s picture from finding its way into the Library of Congress!
The Library of Congress has a web site (http://loc.gov) with some fascinating
local information. Like the telegraph I found that was sent to Uniontown’s
General George C. Marshall, from a Colonel that announced the surrender of the
Japanese at the end of World War II. It’s not just the text of the telegram, but
the entire thing! It even has General Marshall’s handwritten correction of the
spelling of General Dwight Eisenhower’s name.
There’s another letter written by Marshall on that web site that was sent as a
thank you note to Orville Wright for sending him an autographed copy of his
book, “The Wright Brothers”.
If you scour Ebay, you can find a number of football cards featuring Uniontown’s
Chuck Muncie and Stu Lantz, and Connellsville’s Jim Braxton when they were all
professional athletes. I happened to get a pack of Muncie’s cards as a birthday
present. I cherish them.
I’ve found Connellsville’s Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Lujack on the cover of
three Sport (that was its name) Magazines. He also graced the cover of Life
Magazine once. All of those covers can be found on the internet if you do a
little searching. A search for Time Magazines covers, can produce four with
Uniontown’s George C. Marshall on them.
Uniontown’s Chuck Muncie got three Sports Illustrated covers, while Uniontown’s
high jumping phenomenon Terence Jackson got his picture and a little story
devoted to him while he was in high school.
If you check out Sports Illustrated online, (http://si.com), you just may able
to find one of their recent features that gave honors to two Uniontown natives.
It’s the one that hails the greatest jersey numbers in college football history.
Uniontown’s Ernie Davis’ number 44 and Sandy Stephens’ number 15 both got
Did you know that Abraham Lincoln wrote and received several letters involving
Fayette County? Lincoln’s handwritten letters are on the Library of Congress web
site. He once wrote his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, about a Uniontown resident he
was hoping to get a cabinet position. “Permit me to suggest a far better man
than Mr. Cameron for a cabinet office -- James Veach Esquire of Uniontown Pa. a
good Republican in the prime of life.”
Mrs. Lincoln probably didn’t like the choice. I can’t find that name among her
husband’s cabinet members.
In April of 1861, Lincoln later tried to get another Uniontown resident another
job. Here’s the text that handwritten effort:
“Ethelbert P. Oliphant, of Uniontown, Pa. is an old acquaintance of mine; and I
wish, if I can make it reasonably convenient to give him a place. He prefers a
Judgeship in Nebraska, but I am to try to find something for him, either in the
Departments here, or elsewhere—“.
That elsewhere became The Territory of Washington, (before it was known as the
State of Washington) where he became a Supreme Court justice.
Abe Lincoln, was not only honest, he knew a few good Uniontown natives!