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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  December, 2008

Did You Know?

Did you know that a Connellsville school student’s gum chewing led to an incident which eventually led to a suspension of her principal and national news coverage?

The Daily Inter Lake of Kalispell (Montana) reported in its January 10th, 1940 edition that the principal at Connellsville Junior High School had been suspended after he’d tried to discipline a 17 year-old for chewing gum while in class – and then denying it.

That may have not been newsworthy, but the resulting incident revealed the principal admitted, “I slapped her lightly.” He added, “I turned to go. She landed a haymaker on my cheek. I thought the side of the building had caved in. I slapped her face three or four times – both sides. She tripped over a chair and sat down with a thump,” he concluded.

The student’s account of the fracas didn’t differ much from the principal’s, except she volunteered, “I got in one good sock to the jaw and he turned pale.”

The school board, the newspaper reported, was still investigating the incident.

Did you know there may be something to that “history repeats itself” thing? There were particularly tough economic times in 1820.

In February of that year, the Adams Centinel (Gettysburg, Pa.) provided a nearly full page report on the state of the Pennsylvania economy after a committee hearing held in the Pa. House of Representatives the previous month.

Petitions and statements had been entered into the record from around the state.
The inhabitants of Fayette County presented (in part) the following statement: "The fictitious capital and boundless credit by banking, the almost universal spirit of speculation, the prostration of manufacturers by the mistaken politic of the national government, the luxuries and extravagance, and a reduction of exports, have produced a long trail of calamities.”Later in the same petition it read, “That many merciless creditors, not content with plunging unfortunate debtors into the most abject poverty, frequently take from them the whole of that property to themselves."

You’d have to wonder what the writers of that petition would think if they saw today’s economic times – that were remarkably similar to those 188 years ago.

Did you know that the congregation of a church in Masontown once staged a political protest that made headlines around the country? In the early spring of 1855 a Baptist church in Masontown was said to have had a congregation of between three and four hundred members. However, according to the Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pa.) on May 7th “nearly two hundred of the members left the congregation because the pastor was found to be a Know Nothing.”

The term “Know-Nothing” was not a description of the pastor’s knowledge (or lack of it). It meant it was alleged he belonged to the political movement known as the Know Nothings – which fought against immigration by Irish Catholics.

The Known Nothing movement mostly ended a year later – in 1856.

Did you know that a Fayette County lawman once spent his days in a movie theatre, and he was really going above and beyond the call of duty? It was reported in the June 30th, 1946 edition of the Daily Capital News (Jefferson, Mo.) that Fayette County Detective Lawrence Haggerty had been assigned to serve a warrant on an “alimony dodger” who vowed to hide in a Uniontown movie theatre until officers tired of their search.

Detective Haggerty claims he’d never seen so many movies in his life.

Did you know that sometimes we never fully understand the historic significance of those people and places we’ve known about most of our lives?

That just could be the case with our own Fort Necessity. It’s true that it’s the place of the very first military battle of this nation’s first president – George Washington. Yet, there are those people who’ve visited that fort from faraway places who’ve written about it quite emotionally. That’s how it affected an unnamed writer for The People’s Press (Gettysburg, Pa.), when they recalled their visit in April 15th of 1835. “My imagination became excited by the surrounding objects,” they wrote. “The battle seemed to be fought over again before me.” The writer then surmises that when the battle had been fought the fort had been the “Ultima Thule” (beyond the borders of the known world) for white civilization - just three quarters of a century before he visited it.

He wrote that the western boundary of the country had expanded a thousand miles “towards (sic) the setting sun.” Then he wrote with great passion about what had really taken place at Fort Necessity and beyond. “Standing amidst these ruins, it requires but little exertion of the imagination to follow Washington from this, his first field, down to the days of the Revolution, and through it until you see him on the field of York-Town, humbling the pride of Britain, and tearing the brightest gem from the Crown of her King.”

Personally, whenever I visit Fort Necessity, I just wonder where they’d put the outhouses.

Did you know that one young Uniontown native had two grandparents serving in the U.S. Congress – and at the same time? I’ll explain further next week.