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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  December, 2008

Did You Know?

Did you know that a Fayette County chicken once made national news?
On December 14th, 1932, the Emporia (Kansas) Daily Gazette reported that Mrs. F.W. Jones of Connellsville had attracted a lot attention for her “careful driving.”
It seems Mrs. Jones was on her way to church when it was discovered that a chicken had hitched a ride on her back bumper. When she arrived at church, it was observed the chicken was “sound asleep.”

Did you know that in 1929 Uniontown played a role, if only a small one, in aviation history?
The U.S. Army had planned a major exercise on May 21st of that year. It sent a “huge bombing plane” from Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio to New York City – where it would conduct an “imaginary” bombing.
That would have been the first test of mid-air refueling under simulated wartime conditions.

However, when the bomber and two escort planes (a radio plane that would have broadcast the exercise and the refueling plane) reached the Allegheny Mountains - the original plans had to be scrapped. The two escort planes were forced down at Uniontown’s Burgess Field. The bomber circled the field before heading on to New York City without attempting to refuel.

It was reported in newspapers across the country that despite the “low ceiling” over Uniontown, the bomber proceeded to “attack” New York City.

That attack, by the way, only consisted of three flares with parachutes attached to them.

Did you know that in January of 1921, a Utah newspaper devoted an entire page to a Fayette County pyromaniac? The Ogden Standard-Examiner took a very close look at a 19 year old from Fairhope who’d admitted to setting as many as 35 fires. “How Science Explains the Peculiar Mental Disease That Made a 19-Year-Old Pennsylvania Boy Burn Down Churches, Schools, Farm Houses and Barns and Enjoy Their Destruction Just Like Nero When He Set Fire to Ancient Rome,” said the rather long sub-headline in the January 30th edition.

The story quoted the young fire starter as telling the Fayette City police, “I guess I’m insane. I don’t know why I set so many places on fire.” He also confessed that on one particularly busy day he’d walked to Brownsville and then he set a number of fires. But that wasn’t quite enough.
“With five fires started, I thought I had done a pretty good day’s work, so I turned for home. On my way I noticed the big brick house of Harvey Elliott and quickly applied oil and a match from the outside…”

Curiously, that Utah news story didn’t contain the prison sentence he’d gotten in Fayette County court the previous day – 42 years. Or, as the Uniontown Daily News Standard put it, “Young Firebug Gets a Life Sentence.”

Did you know that the readers of that same Ogden, Utah newspaper, would, eight years later, hear about another Fayette County criminal who would actually asked for a life sentence – even though he didn’t deserve one. The Standard-Examiner chronicled the rather unusual crimes of a man who went through the streets of Uniontown, smashing business and church windows with railroad spikes.
There’s nothing new about vandalism. However, on April 27th, 1929, it was reported that when the window smasher was brought to justice, it was rather unusual that he protested the shortness of his sentence.

After getting caught throwing a spike through a church window, the judge sentenced the man to six months in jail. “36 months. That’s fine,” replied the vandal.
The judge responded, “Tut-tut. I only said six months.

Not satisfied with the shorter sentence, as he was being hauled off to prison, he told the judge, “I’ll do something awful yet so I can get a life sentence.”

Did you know that in 1953 a Connellsville native made the front page of a Montana newspaper, for being nothing more than tall? On March 10th of that year, The Independent Record of Helena, Montana printed a picture of Connellsville’s SSgt Kathleen Cage. She was standing beside another SSgt from Maplewood, New Jersey.

The reason for the picture? SSgt Cage stood 6’1” tall. The airman she was standing beside, Robert B. Perkins, only stood 4’9” tall and was believed to have been the smallest person in the entire United States Air Force.

Did you know that a Connellsville gum-chewer once made national news and caused a bit of controversy?

That really happened. I’ll explain more fully next week.