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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  December, 2008

Did You Know?

Did you know that Uniontown once accounted for newsworthy numbers regarding to its chestnut harvests?

The Huntingdon (Pa.) Journal reported on November 18th, 1874 that during the previous ten days, chestnuts had been hauled into the city from the mountains, by four horse wagon loads.

The same article chronicled the unsold wool in Greene County. There was, according to the report, as much as 40,000 pounds of it still on hand.

Did you know if hadn’t been for Connellsville, there may have never been a Hollywood? Perhaps it’s a stretch, but Connellsville’s Edwin S. Porter, the man who directed the groundbreaking film – The Great Train Robbery – had a lifelong friend and fellow Connellsville native, who also figured prominently in the movie business.

When Charles H. Balsey died at the age of 89 in 1959, newspapers across the country credited him with being the first person to show motion pictures in California.

The Salina (Kansas) Journal reported that Balsey had been listed in Who’s Who in Pennsylvania, and that he’d taken a motion picture projector to California in 1896 – when the heart of the fledgling movie business was still located in New York City.

Did you know that one U.S. president had not one, but two direct connections to Connellsville?
Earl D. Eisenhower, Ike’s brother, had been a resident of Connellsville when he worked for West Penn Power. He would later serve as Vice-President on the board of directors at the Connellsville Daily Courier. His wife, the former Kathryn M. Snyder, was the daughter of the founder of the Daily Courier - Henry P. Snyder.

The second Connellsville connection to Dwight Eisenhower came when he was a patient at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. in 1968.

He was placed under the care of Maj. Susanne Phillips, a 1954 graduate of Connellsville High School, who headed the V.I.P nursing unit at Walter Reed. (Her father, E. Stanley Phillips had been the Connellsville High School principal) The Daily Courier reported in its June 21st, 1968 edition that one of the contacts Maj. Phillips had with the former president, caused him to be “brightened.”
Eisenhower asked her where she was from. She told him Connellsville. He immediately knew the town and that his brother Earl, “had married a Connellsville girl.” He also remembered that his younger brother had been an employee of West Penn Power.

Did you know that sometimes people contact me with corrections and even compliments about my “Did you know” columns? Did you know they’re always welcomed?

I received a letter from Charles D. Davis (a 1945 Uniontown High School grad currently living in Georgia) in October, regarding an item I’d written in June about a Uniontown woman who had died during a church service. The gist of the story was that the preacher continued to preach, although he’d made an adjustment to his sermon by speaking extemporaneously about “sudden death.”
Mr. Davis informed me the woman who died was actually his grandmother, and that her wish was to have died in church.

A recent “Did you know” item I wrote about came from a Canadian newspaper. It was about two Uniontown newlyweds, who’d been gotten a skunk for a wedding present in 1933. That item produced an email I got from Canada. I’d inadvertently said the Lethbridge newspaper is in the wrong province.
“Just a heads up, Lethbridge is in the Canadian province of Alberta not Manitoba,” wrote Jacquie Scantlebury. Ms. Scantlebury should know. She’s a reporter and anchor for the Canadian television network - CVT working out of Calgary, Alberta.

George Zubeck of Dunbar Township, Leisenring sent me an email to inform me he’s not from Wharton Township. Why? Because in November I mentioned the dilemma he had in 1992, when he got stuck in mud for an extended period before getting rescued. The newspaper that originally reported on that incident (the Casa Grande (Az.) Dispatch) said he was from Wharton Township.
Happily, Mr. Zubeck tells me, “I am alive and well and living in Leisenring.”

David Whipkey of Ohiopyle emailed me and asked, “Would you be so kind as to tell me how you are able to research and find the things you write about? How do you get something that some small town newspaper from California wrote about? And did you ever discover why these far away papers were writing about something that happened here in Fayette County?”

The answers to all of those questions are really quite simple. I know everything! (Kidding)
I use the internet and I subscribe to a newspaper archiving service for most of the items.

On the subject of those far away places that report on what’s happening in Fayette County – even if they seem to be only of local interest? You’d be surprised at how news simply travels as fast (and as far) as it does.

Here’s a case in point. That recent story about the diamond ring that was found in the Salvation Army kettle can be found in The Money Times - which is located in INDIA. Did you know that in 1932, the people of Kansas were informed about a sleeping chicken in Connellsville?

You can’t make this stuff up. But I’ll give you the full details next week.