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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  June, 2009

Did You Know?

Did you know that President Bush once visited Connellsville? President B.F. Bush that is. The November 10th, 1910 edition of the Connellsville Daily Courier heralded the upcoming visit of the new Maryland Railroad with the bold front page headline: “PRESIDENT BUSH AND OTHER HIGH OFFICIALS COMING HERE.”

That “President Bush,” who would speak at the Greater Connellsville Chamber of Commerce that December - apparently wasn’t a direct relative of the two President Bushes who would later lead the country.

However, Samuel P. Bush, the grandfather and great-grandfather of the two U.S. presidents, had also headed railroad companies.

Did you know that in the early 1920’s, flies had a tough time of it in Fayette County? That’s because they held “swat-the-fly” campaigns complete with prizes.

The June 9th, 1922 edition of the Uniontown Morning Herald detailed the upcoming “swat-the-fly” campaign. “Already some 3000 swatters have been placed,” through the auspices of the Fayette County Tuberculosis Society the article said.

The competition was simple. The boys or girls or managed to swat the most flies, and then put them in a container to be counted, would win prizes at the end of the weeklong event.

There would also “be a prize for every boy or girl who brings in any dead flies at all,” it said.

Did you know that Gen. George C. Marshall isn’t the only great military leader from Uniontown? There was retired Brig. Gen. Paul Griffith who was the national commander of the American Legion and an Assistant Secretary of Defense. Joseph L. Vicites, too, was elected the Commander-in-Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States in 1971.

But there is another Fayette County native who became a military hero who wasn’t a member of the United States military. Gen. Petrus Jacobus Joubert of Uniontown is considered the “George Washington of South Africa.” Joubert led Boer troops against the British during the Boer Wars in the 1880’s and 1890’s.

According to the Middletown (N.Y.) Daily Argus of March 16th, 1896, Joubert was born in Uniontown in 1841 and, “When he was 14 years of age he left America, going to Holland (with his parents), and thence to South Africa.”

There are accounts of him returning to America during the Civil War and enlisting in the Navy. One published account claims he would later command a company of “colored troops.”

Upon returning to South Africa, he would later game fame as the commander of the Boer forces. So much so, that the largest public park in Johannesburg is named for him. However, there is some dispute about Uniontown really being Joubert’s hometown.

On July 5th, 1899, the Des Moines Daily Iowa Capital carried an item that quoted a supposed “well-informed” citizen of Uniontown who seriously questioned the town as Joubert’s birthplace. “The story of his Uniontown birth and residence had its origin in the fecund mind of some Chicago writer, and is fiction pure and simple,” they claimed. “Some other town, I am sorry to say, has the honor of producing the old warrior,” the unnamed source concluded.

Yet many publications still claim Joubert was, indeed, a native of Uniontown.

Did you know that the rising price of gasoline in 1915, was considered as newsworthy as it is today. On September 23rd of that year, according to the Uniontown Daily News Standard, motorists were forced to pay two more cents for gasoline in recent weeks. All the way up from 15 to 17 cents, to the ghastly price of 18 to 20 a gallon.

Did you know that the daughter of an American president made a number of stops at the Summit Hotel, and she received rave reviews? Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter, Mrs. Alice Roosevelt Longworth, wowed the help staff she encountered with five dollar tips during her 1923 stay at the hotel. The Morning Herald reported that Mr. and Mrs. Longworth were so pleased with they hotel, “that they would stop there on their way back to Washington.”

Did you know that also in 1923, there was a lot of petting going on near the Summit Hotel? (I’m not talking about the kind of petting that takes place these days at the Woodland Zoo) According to the front page headline in the August 10th edition of the Morning Herald, “FIVE ‘PETTING PARTIES’ BROKEN UP NEAR THE SUMMIT BY TROOPERS”

Two carloads of Pa. State Troopers from the New Salem barracks were called out to put a stop to the energetic activities of the three carloads of young people in the woods across the road from the Summit Hotel. “They posted forfeits amounting to $150,” and what was even more noteworthy was that, “Troopers said the parties are well known in Connellsville and Uniontown coming from well-to-do families.”

Did you know that local police officers had their hands full with a very serious crime in Uniontown only two months after the “petting parties?”

The crime (a robbery) was so serious that the Morning Herald called it, “the most serious in the city’s history.”

I’ll reveal the details next week.