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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  January, 2009

Did You Know?

Did you know that a Uniontown man once sued his wife over a lottery ticket, and as a result they both made national news?

The San Mateo (Ca.) Times reported in its November 17th, 1973 edition that a man who’d won Pennsylvania’s 9th millionaire drawing took his wife to court after she (unbeknownst to him) signed the ticket and sent it to lottery headquarters.

The suit alleged the woman had “wrongfully and unlawfully converted a lottery ticket by declaring herself to be the owner of the winning ticket.”
That article didn’t report the eventual outcome, or if the next suit the man filed was in divorce court.

Did you know that, according to a published report of the U.S. Census in 1830, Uniontown only had 1,844 residents?
The Gettysburg (Pa.) Republican Compiler listed Uniontown’s population, as well as the populations of a number of towns across the state on June 22nd of that year. Norristown, Pa. only had 1,074 residents at the time. By contrast, Uniontown’s population, according to the 2000 U.S. Census was 12,422 – while Norristown’s was 31,282.

Did you know that the apparent similarities between a mother and daughter from Connellsville was worthy of an international news story?

The Winnipeg (Manitoba, Canada) Free Press carried the picture of Anna and her daughter Elsie Atkins of Connellsville on December 18th, 1939. The reason? The mother-daughter pair was frequently mistaken as being twins. The mother was 32 years-old, while the daughter was 16. The mistaken relationship may have stemmed from the fact that they wore the same dresses and stockings, and according to the article, “Both wear their hats and hair alike.”

Did you know that a hold-up in Uniontown in 1922 produced some rather bizarre results? First, the hold-up netted the bandit only 50 cents.
Next, according to the November 1st edition, the thief shot his gun once – but the bullet wound up killing two people.
“The bullet passed through one man’s heart and through another man’s head,” the article said.

Did you know that some accounts of Fayette County’s Underground Railroad were printed across the nation during slavery?

The Grand Traverse (Michigan) Herald related to its readers on December 3rd, 1858 an incident that is remarkably similar to one related in James Hadden’s masterwork “The History of Uniontown. The newspaper article was titled “Flight of Fugitives – Battle.” Ten slaves had escaped from their slave owners at Pruntytown, Va. They took horses, abandoned them, and continued on foot by using the North Star.

They were followed and overtaken in Fayette County “where a desperate fight on the part of the negroes, and slavery on the part of the whites, took place.”
One of the slave owners was nearly killed by a corn cleaver before the slaves finally escaped.
In Hadden’s book, he wrote about another incident that took place some time after 1856, in which slave hunters arrived in Uniontown. (The book makes a mention of Baker Alley in Uniontown, but it’s unclear if the following incident actually took place there.)

One slave catcher arrived in the county, was confronted by black and white residents and related that he was “quick to take in the situation and determined that the only safety was by immediate and rapid flight.”

Did you know that Fayette County was quite prominent on the pages of a Gettysburg newspaper on March 17th, 1845?
One item was the report that the recent fire that led to the destruction of the Fayette County jail was caused by an “insane man.” The courts were in session at the time.

The Republican Compiler was simply noting the irony of that fire, because a few weeks prior it had reported on the first that burned down the Courthouse – and while the court was in session. On the same page that, there was another, more positive story regarding the county.
Soon-to-be President James Polk, who passed through the county (perhaps on his way to his inauguration), was told that a man was anxious to see him, but that he was too sick to get out of his bed. Polk, hearing about the man, he “immediately had his carriage stopped and he proceeded to the poor sick man’s house.”

Polk was said to have spent some time with him and his family. That bit of personal attention led the newspaper to conclude, “Such characteristics make men great.”

Did you know the Washington Post once carried a story about an attempted robbery near Uniontown that produced some very strange results? I’ll have the complete story next week.