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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  January, 2009

Did You Know?

Did you know that a simple burglary just outside of Uniontown, gained national news coverage in 1913? A burglar tried to raid two farm houses at Cheat Haven. According to the January 6th edition of the Washington Post, when he attempted to burst into the first house, the woman inside died of fright. She had been carrying her one year old child, who was crushed under the weight of her mother’s fall. On the same day, the Connellsville Daily Courier reported that the burglar had tried to gain entrance into a second home occupied by the dead woman’s sister.

She could see through her window that the bandit was carrying a gun, so she ran out of her back door and next door to her sister’s house seeking refuge. That’s when she discovered her sister had died, and that her young niece was barely clinging to life.

Did you know that another tragic event in Salt Lick Township, in 1852, also gained wide attention? It was reported when a house fire broke out, a woman rushed upstairs to save 12 of the family’s 13 children. She had inadvertently locked the door behind her. She saved the children by throwing them out of their bedroom window. According to the Gettysburg (Pa.) Compiler on March 29th, when the woman herself jumped out of the window, she rushed to the rear of her home and discovered the charred remains of her husband.

Did you know with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I decided to take a look back at one of America’s favorite days? In fact, did you know that (according to the U.S. Greeting Card Association) one billion Valentine’s cards are sent each year worldwide? Did you also know that Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-sending day (behind Christmas) each year?

But back on February 20th, 1880 - the earliest year I could find Fayette County references to Valentine’s Day - the Connellsville’s Keystone Courier seemed a bit pleased the day hadn’t caused too much of a stir. “Valentine day passed off very quietly. We suppose some hearts were made happy. Some of our old bachelor friends look furious,” was the lone reference to a holiday that had only recently (1847) seen the first widespread exchange of Valentine’s cards.

A few years later, on February 8th, 1895, the Connellsville Daily Courier still wasn’t exactly excited about the day. “Valentine Day is coming and the ugly pictures are already beginning to appear in the shop windows,” read the less-than-enthusiastic notice that day. But there had been an apparent editorial change of heart ten years later, when in the same paper, on February 10th, 1905 there was a front page notice that read, “Valentine’s Day is approaching. You have only to look into the shop windows, where all classes of momentoes (sic) of this occasion, from the sublime to the ridiculous, are being displayed.”

So it appeared that newspaper editors and shopkeepers everywhere were warming to the idea that Valentine’s Day could be a legitimate holiday, and worthy of some degree of favorable attention.

Although, there have been times when Valentine’s Day wasn’t celebrated by sweets, flowers and greeting cards. When the readers of the Uniontown News Standard opened their papers on February 14th, 1929, they read the account of an event that will forever be associated with Valentine’s Day – but with none of the romance to go with it. “GANGSTERS SHOOT SIX MEN TO DEATH,” read the headline. Armed gunmen had disguised themselves as police officers, took gang members to a Chicago warehouse and emptied their machine guns into them, in what is now known as the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.

It had been the boldest act in the gang war between Al Capone and “Bugs” Moran. It sparked dozens of movie and television plots since then. Yet, nobody was ever convicted of murder in the case.

Did you know that in 1909 – a hundred years ago – Fayette County had well over a hundred bridges? According to the Weekly Courier of Connellsville on February 18th of that year, there were 135 bridges in the county. Every bridge in the county was listed in the article. “Big” Redstone Creek had the most bridges – 18.

Did you know that next week will mark the 200th year since the birth of Abraham Lincoln?

I take a look back at the county’s celebration of Lincoln’s 100th birthday next week.