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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  October, 2008

Did You Know?
By Al Owens

Did you know that George C. Marshall needed a law changed in order for him to have served as Secretary of Defense?

A 1947 law had prohibited a person who had served in the U.S. military from becoming a Secretary of Defense – less than 10 years after leaving service.

Yet, in September of 1950, President Harry Truman – a staunch supporter of Uniontown’s favorite son – called on congress to change the law to allow Marshall to head the Defense Department.

On September 14th of that year, the Uniontown Morning Herald gave the impending change in the law, front page coverage.

"I have said many times on the floor of the Senate of the United States how proud all of us in Pennsylvania are of the statesman and soldier from Uniontown,” boasted U.S. Senator Francis Myers of Philadelphia.

While the 1947 law had been an effort to prevent “warmongers” from taking too large a role in military matters, Truman himself, expressed confidence in his selection.

“George Marshall is no warmonger or saber-rattler,” he told members of congress. “He has demonstrated that he is a man of peace and good will.” Truman’s strong confidence in Marshall as a peacemaker was confirmed in 1953. On October, 31st, 1953, on the front page of the Uniontown Evening Standard: GEN. MARSHALL IS WINNER OF NOBEL PRIZE - read the headline on the front page. He’d become the first and only military person who has ever received the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Did you know that Redstone Creek once made national headlines? The Morning Oregonian (Portland) carried the story of extreme flooding along the banks of Redstone Creek in Uniontown on August 22nd, 1888.

A news dispatch out of “Pittsburg” (before they added the “h”) alerted Oregonians that heavy rains in southwestern Pennsylvania were some of the worst ever.

Uniontown received 4 and a half inches, and “Redstone Creek is higher than ever before and people living in the lower portion of the city are moving out of their houses to-night,” it said.

In Brownsville, “the Monongahela River was rising at a rate of three feet an hour,” it reported.

Severe weather conditions in Uniontown made the national news again in 1901. The Lincoln (Neb.) State Journal chronicled the events that occurred in Fayette County on April 4th of that year.

“The snow storm which has been raging for forty hours and still continues has - done great damage,” had cut off all communications between Fayette County and “Pittsburg.” (Again minus the “h”)

That same newspaper carried a rather unusual story about Uniontown in 1910.

According to the July 23rd, 1910 edition of the Nebraska State Journal, 400 Uniontown dogs had to be destroyed by constables the day before.

According to state health officials, there had been a quarantine that had been declared because of a recent outbreak of rabies. However, Uniontown’s dog owners had failed to observe that quarantine. So, those 400 dogs, and many more were being killed.

Did you know that more than 50 years earlier, there’d been another outbreak of disease in Fayette County that caused some national news coverage?

The Adams Sentinel and General Advertiser (Gettysburg, Pa.), reported in its February, 19th, 1849 edition that a “Fatal Malady” had taken hold in Uniontown.

“The disease is described as being somewhat similar in its symptoms to the Cholera,” the report said. It went on to say that 50 people had come down with the mysterious disease, and 20 people had died from it during the previous two weeks.

Did you know that Fayette County was one of the first places in the United States to have received food stamps under the brand new and untested program was rolled out in 1961?

The Petersburg-Colonial Heights (Va.) Progress-Index carried the story of one of President John Kennedy’s first anti-poverty programs just three months after he took office.

According to the March, 8th report, the food stamp was first tried before World War II. It was announced that hundreds of thousands of needy people would benefit from the new program.

Eight pilot U.S. areas were selected to test how the program would work.

Fayette County was one of the eight to get the new food stamps.

Did you know that a Uniontown skunk once made international news?

You can’t make this stuff up, folks. So, next week I’ll “come clean” with the details.