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|| Did You Know?
|| November, 2008
Did You Know?
By Al Owens
Did you know that Uniontown’s one time claim of having a large number of
millionaire citizens was, for some people across the country, a mere curiosity?
That’s how the Racine (Wisconsin) Weekly Journal looked at it on February 20th,
In an article comprised of miscellaneous oddities from around the world, it was
stated that “Brookline, Mass. is the richest city in America, but Uniontown,
Pa., has more millionaires than any other town its size, leaving out health
That sort of thing may have been of great importance to Fayette County residents
at the time, but the people of Racine read about it in a column titled “Gossip
From Here and There.”
Those same readers also learned in that same article such tidbits as
“Wisconsin’s most valuable crop is hay.”
Did you know that Racine’s newspaper readers may have gotten a completely
different impression of the Uniontown area, if they’d seen the following
headline just four years later? COUNTERFIETER’S DEN RAIDED.
That article appeared in Racine’s Daily Journal in August of 1907. It was an
item about a group of “foreign” counterfeiters who’d apparently been discovered
operating out of their Smithfield headquarters.
It seems the neighborhood had been recently “flooded” with counterfeit coins.
The trail led back to five people whose hideout was raided and their molds, as
well as “a big quantity of spurious coin (was) found concealed about the place.”
Did you know that personal domestic strife, in case you didn’t already know
this, can even inflict the highest officials of government?
That’s what happened to William Andrews Clark in April of 1903.
Clark was a U.S. Senator of Montana. He’d been a wealthy miner, an army officer
and had been the president of Montana’s state constitutional convention before
getting elected to the U.S. Senate in 1889 - and again in 1901.
In 1903, however, he’d gained widespread negative notoriety when he was sued for
breach of marriage. The Honolulu (Hawaii) Gazette reported in April of that
year, that despite Clark’s denials, “his name has nevertheless been connected
with many women in connection with matrimony.”
None of this may seem to be worthy of a mention in an article that depends
heavily on historical events with Fayette County origins – until you consider
Sen. Clark was born in Connellsville, Pa. on January 8th, 1839.
Did you know that the grit and determination of a young Uniontown reporter - in
the face of unbelievable tragedy - earned him nationwide acclaim?
Oliver William “Billy” Field had aspired to become a news reporter in 1936 when
he was a senior at Uniontown High School.
He’d been preparing for his future profession while he was a senior at Uniontown
High School. He worked on the school’s Maroon and White news. He also covered
“assignments” as a cub reporter for the Uniontown Evening Genius and the Morning
Herald newspapers, when he wasn’t busily selling daily copies of them as a
In January, young Field’s byline could be found on a story about the end of
Christmas vacation for the city’s school children. Field reported the children
were feeling “low” after being away from school for 12 days.
But there would undoubtedly be more serious stories Field would cover.
One month later, while checking with firemen on the telephone about a local
house fire, he discovered the man inside who had been burned was his father –
According to the account in the February 17th Morning Herald, young Billy hung
up the telephone and told his editor – J.S. “Dad” Albright – “I’m going out
there now but I’ll be sure to phone you all the details as soon as I can learn
them. You can count on me.”
The story continued with Field returning to the newspaper office in a half hour,
“with tears streaming down his face and chin trembling, despite brave efforts to
keep his self-control, the lad turned over his information for the story.”
The account of the contentious cub reporter accompanied his picture in
newspapers around the country.
But the story didn’t end there. A year later, in June of 1937, a new radio
station – WMBS - went on the air in Uniontown. Field became the first “news
broadcaster” for the fledgling broadcasting outlet as the “Radio Voice of the
Did you know that a Uniontown mayor once fought for the rights of people who
wanted to spit on the city’s sidewalks?
As unusual as that may seem, it happened. I’ll unravel that mystery next week.