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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  May, 2009

Did You Know?

Did you know that sometimes it’ll take me as long as a year to correct one of my oversights? Well, last April I’d listed all of the future, sitting and former U.S. Presidents (as well as presidential aspirants) who’d paid visits to Fayette County.

I’d said that Warren G. Harding had stayed at the Summit Hotel in July of 1922. Please forgive my omission. Harding actually stayed at the Summit Hotel twice. The first time he was accompanied by his wife and Gen. John J. Pershing (the man for whom the famous tank was named).

They were on their way to a retreat in Harding’s hometown of Marion, Ohio. (Camp David wasn’t officially opened for that purpose until 1938) A week later, Harding and his entourage returned to the Summit Hotel on their way back to Washington.

The Uniontown Morning Herald took note of the milestone by saying, “Few communities in this country are honored by having a President of the United States as a guest twice in one week. That has been Uniontown’s rare honor and privilege the past week and the famous Summit Hotel is now more famous than ever.”

Did you know there was a lot more going on in Fayette County during the 1880’s than that tragic Nutt/Dukes series of events? On June 8th, 1883, the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Daily Sentinel cautioned its readers to “look out for” a Connellsville woman. It seems she’d already been married three times by the time she turned 18 years of age. She’d “lost” all three of them. And she, according to the item, “is about to start west.”

While five years later, another Fayette County woman had a completely different problem. She’d been left at the altar, and for no discernable reason.

The New Philadelphia (Ohio) Democrat reported on February 9th, 1888 that a Barnesville, Ohio man was supposed to have married a young Uniontown woman – Miss Minnie Coughanon. But, “when the appointed hour had arrived and the invited guests had assembled, the groom could not be found,” the article said.

Later, in the Decatur (Ill.) Daily Republican, the mystery of the disappearing bridegroom was revealed. He’d gone west to Arizona, and he’d returned to Uniontown “in the garb of a cowboy.” That explained where he’d been, but not why he went there.

In fact, Minnie Coughanon, the report explained, “has vowed that she will not recognize him again. It is thought, however, that in time she will relent.”

But there was a little more to that story. The New Philadelphia Ohio newspaper followed up its initial report on the case of the missing bridegroom in April.

It seems that “four masked gentlemen seized him in an alley and told him to leave forever or die.” It’s not known if that explanation would suffice.

Did you know some local stories defy belief? The Jackson Sentinel of Maquoketa, Iowa reported on November 4th, 1887 that a man had driven his wagon pulled by two “bony” horses, all the way from Tom Greene County, Texas to Connellsville.

That, in itself, was amazing tale. But consider this. The story was printed in November. The man had left Texas on his 2400 mile trek on April 1st. He showed no lack of determination since, according to the article, “during the journey his wife had died.”

Did you know that lessons in proper etiquette have long been newspaper staples? Long before Dear Abby and Ann Landers, you could find all kinds of columns that would offer tips on a variety of issues.

I found one that was particularly interesting on the pages of the Uniontown News Standard, dated July 26h, 1915. “HOW TO SHAKE HANDS,” was its headline. The column beneath it could easily be applied today. (For the record, my only “formal handshake training” was to avoid presenting a “dead fish” when shaking somebody’s hand)

That 1915 column explored the art of the handshake more fully. “Do it rather quickly, and the instant you find that your hand is in place bring the grip into play instantly,” was among the techniques.

Oh how I wish some people today would follow the next bit of handshake etiquette. “Don’t grip the hand hard enough to cause pain to the person with whom you are shaking, but give him (this was before it was considered proper for women to engage in handshaking) a good, firm grip.”

And perhaps the most practical, yet, still overlooked techniques contained in that column were “Before your hands touch be sure you are looking the other person square in the eye.” That is still sound advice.

Did you know that a famous military leader (not Gen. George C. Marshall), became a national hero in another part of the world – hailed from Uniontown?

There had been, however, a dispute about him ever “setting foot” in Uniontown – because it was thought he was born in Holland.

I’ll try to unravel the mystery next week.