History Category Factoids
Reconstructed Colonel William Crawford's Cabin
The Connellsville Area Historical Society and the Fayette County Commissioners reconstructed the log home of Colonel William Crawford in 1976. The cabin is 14 X 16 feet and contains one room. Even though the cabin was small for a family of six, their hospitality was legendary. George Washington, Lord Dunmore (the governor of Virginia), and many other passing travelers found a hospitable welcome there. Over the years, William Crawford played an important role in the life of the area. During an Indian scare, he helped plan the defense of the area by having the settlers build several forts to protect themselves. He recruited and led a battalion of southwestern Pennsylvanians to fight in the Revolution and served as a Justice of the Peace for many years. While leading an expedition against the Delaware Indians in Ohio, he was captured and burned at the stake in 1782.The reconstructed home of Colonel William Crawford sits on the west bank of the Youghiogheny River in Connellsville, PA.
Connellsville's First Settler
The first white man in what is now Connellsville, PA was Colonel William Crawford. He was a farmer/surveyor/soldier who was a friend of George Washington and had served with him in the Virginia Militia. In the fall of 1765, he came over the mountains on horseback with his half-brother Hugh Stephenson. When they saw the beautiful meadow lands in the bend of the Youghiogheny River, Crawford decided to build his home there. The two men surveyed a tract of little over 376 acres and put up a log cabin (Crawford's Cabin). The next year, he moved his family into the cabin after a very hazardous trip over the mountains. Hannah Crawford, his wife, and their four children, had to follow what was little better than a path that was exceedingly rough and dangerous in places. As they had just pack horses to carry their possessions, only the essentials could be brought along.
|?}||Connellsville, PA was incorporated as a borough in 1806, but became a city after annexing the former borough of New Haven, PA in 1909. The former community of New Haven is now referred to as the "West Side of Connellsville", as it is west of the Youghiogheny River.|
|?}||Seven Springs, PA borough was incorporated, from Saltlick Township, PA land, to allow Seven Springs Mountain Resort greater flexibility for serving alcohol.|
|?}||The name of the Youghiogheny River is attributed to the Kanhawha Indians who had several villages around the river's highland waters. Youghiogheny translates to "four rapid streams," in reference to the junction of rivers in Confluence, PA.|
|?}||The oldest English settlement in Fayette County, PA of which we have an authentic record, was made in 1751 by Wendell Brown and his three sons, Maunnus, Thomas, and Adam. This was about two years before Christopher Gist effected his settlement at Mount Braddock, PA (North Union Township, PA). The Browns built their first cabin in Provance's Bottom along the Monongahela River, but for some reason the Indians did not want them there, and persuaded them to take up other land in Georges Township, PA. For several years these four men lived in these western wilds alone, with only the Redmen for their neighbors. Yet they were never molested. On one occasion, Thomas was caught spying upon the Indians, and had his teeth knocked out by a tomahawk for his insolence; but aside from this they received the most kind and generous treatment as neighbors and friends. The French occupation of Fort Duquense, in 1754, put an end to this strange experience. The Browns patriotically rallied to the help of Colonel George Washington, doing everything they could to furnish him with provisions for his little army. They were at Fort Necessity at the time of the surrender, July 4, 1754; and, their cabin having been destroyed by the French, returned with the defeated army to Virginia. In 1758, after the expulsion of the French by General John Forbes, they returned to Fayette County, PA, bringing with them their wives and children and establishing themselves permanently in their western homes.|
|?}||External Web Link: Delaware Indian - History and Discussion Web Site|
|?}||The first known religious service to have been conducted in Fayette County, PA was by George Washington at Fort Necessity in 1754. He led his army of Virginia Militia in daily prayers in a Church of England ritual.|
|?}||A lot in the Chestnut Hill Cemetery was purchased, and bodies were moved in 1900 to make way for the Carnegie Free Library. The school board obtained a $50,000 donation from Andrew Carnegie to fund the library's construction. J.A. Nixon of Titusville, PA was awarded the contract for construction as his bid of $39,850.00 (for the building alone) was the lowest of five bids. A ceremony was held July 31, 1901 for laying the corner stone. The buff sand stone and tiled roof two story Carnegie Free Library opened to the public on May 1, 1903.|
|?}||The Fayette Gazette and Union Advertiser appeared in Uniontown, PA on December 5, 1797, and was the second newspaper to be published in western Pennsylvania. The first was the "Pittsburg Gazette" appeared in Pittsburgh, PA on July 26, 1786.|
|?}||The first newspaper published in Connellsville, PA was "The Connellsville Herald" in 1815. That venture soon folded and a second attempt was made in 1855 with "The Connellsville Enterprise," which changed its name to "The Fayette Patriot" in 1859 before succumbing to failure. "The Fayette Monitor and Youghioghenian" became the first permanent paper in Connellsville, PA that started April 12, 1870, its operations were later absorbed by "The Connellsville News" in 1898. On July 17, 1879 "The Keystone Courier" appeared that later dropped the "Keystone" to become "The Courier."|
|?}||Carnegie Free Library was erected on land that was formerly the Connell Grave Yard, which was an original cemetery serving Connellsville, PA.|
|?}||Connellsville, PA's Crawford Avenue was originally called Spring Street.|
|?}||Original roads for the 1806 Connellsville, PA borough were|
|?}||FayWest.com was founded by Michael D. McCumber (and his grandfather) in early 1997 in an effort to cover the greater Fay-West Area on the web. FayWest.com enjoys the distinction of having the first Web site with information on Connellsville, PA and South Connellsville, PA. The Web site has evolved over the years with pictures, articles, and discussion boards. A steadfast element since 1998 has been the history sections on Connellsville and South Connellsville.Late in 2007, Michael conceptualized a unique content management system that'll allow better in depth coverage of the area with information and features.|
|?}||Fort Necessity National Battlefield, site of the 1754 Fort Necessity battle at the start of the French and Indian War, is located near Farmington, PA in Wharton Township, PA.British and colonial forces under the command of George Washington came under attack by a larger force of French and Indians.|
|?}||External Web Link: Official Fort Necessity National Battlefield Web Site|
|?}||Philip G. Cochran Memorial United Methodist Church, in Dawson, PA, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The cathedral style church featuring Late Gothic Revival architecture was built with coal and coke fortunes in 1900 by Sarah Cochran, in honor of her late husband Philip G. Cochran.|
|?}||Kenneth Casparis purchased the acreage where the stone was located and also the Charles Hampshire Farm in 1916 and started the Casparis Quarry.A number of people came with Kenneth Casparis and settled on the mountain above South Connellsville, PA. Eighteen homes were erected to house the families that worked at the Casparis Quarry. One of the carpenters who helped build the houses near the quarry was J.M. Tressler, who was later to become the first president of the South Connellsville, PA Borough Council.A school to educate the children and boarding houses were also part of the Casparis Community. The teachers who taught at the Casparis School had only two modes of transportation available to them. Some rode horses and others would travel by the Suburban Street Railway to the "end of the line" and then walk the last part of their journey. Other teachers were known to travel by horse from the Springfield Pike (Route 711) and Tanyard Hallow Road to Casparis for their daily teaching duties.|
|?}||The quarrying of the stone at Casparis was a tedious job that involved drilling and dynamiting. The larger stone was broken up by pneumatic drills into smaller pieces. These were loaded into small rail cars which were hauled to the crusher, a short distance from the drilling area. After the stones were crushed, they were transported down the mountain by incline and loaded in railroad cars for shipment.Some years later the quarry was purchased by Vang Crushed Stone Company and a new process was implemented for securing the stone. A method of tunneling for the stone was developed and tracks were laid to bring the quarried stone from the tunnels by a small rail buggy. Under the new arrangement, the quarried stone was transported to the bottom of the mountain by aerial buckets, transferred to a crusher, and then into a screener which graded the stone into stone dust, crushed stone, railroad ballast and larger stones used for highway construction. The various stone was stored in designated bins in the tipple. Railroad cars were placed on the siding, and cars were shifted under the tipple for loading as needed.The "caves" (Casparis Mine) as they are called today, still stand. Receding approximately a quarter mile into the mountain, with thirty-foot entrance ways and forty-foot high ceilings, they are a monument to nature and to man's ingenuity to control his environment. Approaching the "caves" on a hot summer day, one is delightfully surprised by a cool airflow from the entrance ways. A visitor in winter is astonished by the seeming warmth of the flow of air coming from the openings. The truth is the caves maintain an almost constant temperature winter and summer. Although Casparis, as it is called, is located in Connellsville Township, PA, it is a well-known landmark that has always been associated with South Connellsville, PA.|
|?}||Kenneth Casparis founded the Casparis Quarry in 1916 at an outcropping of blue limestone below the crest of Chestnut Ridge in an area of Connellsville Township, PA that is now known as Casparis. At the site of the Casparis Quarry, tunnels were dug into the ridge to obtain more of the stone thus creating the Casparis Mine.|
|?}||Kenneth Casparis founded the Casparis Quarry in 1916.|
|?}||External Web Link: Hiker Survives Fall Off Cliff at Lookout Point Overlook (Pittsburgh Post Gazette Article)|
Casparis Mine is made up of four large (thirty to forty foot tall) tunnels dug a quarter of a mile into a portion of Chestnut Ridge for the purpose of obtaining blue limestone. The mine was dug at the Casparis Quarry.PA State Game Land officials had the entrances all but sealed in August of 2005, citing safety concerns and the need for a bat habitat as the reason. Two of the tunnels were left open but sealed with metal gates to allow bats and authorized personnel entrance into the mine, but the gates were vandalized and destroyed within a year of their construction. As of this writing, the PA State Game Land were raising money to have additional gates constructed.Prior to being sealed the "Casparis Caves," as locals call them, were popular as a destination on the remote jeep trails crisscrossing the Casparis mountain area. Illegal camping was common along the entrances of the Casparis Mine.
Campfires inside of the tunnels were blamed for a major roof collapse back in the 1980s, as the extreme heat changes caused fracturing in the rocks. The collapse left a large almost perfectly sphered dome in the ceiling of the largest tunnel.
|?}||Blue limestone mined from the Casparis Mine) was sent down to the railroad along the Youghiogheny River in large buckets down the Incline. Evidence of the incline still exists along Casparis Road about a half mile away from the Casparis Mine.|
By Robert Bailey Sr.The original High School of Fairchance, PA existed between the years 1905 - 1958. On Feb. 12, 1958 the High School was destroyed by fire, and the students were moved to the Son's of Italy Hall and the Windy Hill School, belonging to Georges Township, PA for the remainder of the year. Fairchance-Georges District was formed the next year, and has since become the Albert Gallatin School District.The All-Class reunions for the students, 1905-1958 began with their first reunion on July 3, 1976 with 536 in attendance.
The second was in 1983, was a 3 day celebration June 17, 18, 19 with 400 attending.
The third was in 1989 June 25, 26, 27 with 500 attending.
The fourth 1993 June 25, 26, 27 with 350+ in attendance.
And in 1997 July 4, 5, 6 was our last reunion to date.Fairchance High School's first class was graduated in 1905. Mr. Corpenning was the principal and later became superintendent of Fayette County schools. He was followed by Fred Rubble, Ray Minerd, and Mr. Deppa, followed by Quincy Vincent, H. V. Lucas and Anthony Moats, then Jacob Wentzel, and Leonard Bailey. Jesse Franks was the principal at the time of the 1958 fire.The school became well known through the years for its operettas, three-act plays and minstrels. In the 1920s Chapel was held in the auditorium, consisting of reading the bible, prayer, flag salute and brief remarks from the principal.The first kindergarten was begun in 1947 by late Ellen Belle Hickle. The parent & teachers organization followed in 1948, and the first student council in 1949.Inasmuch as it is impossible for us to retain in any part, the name Fairchance, we must admit that there could be no better name chosen than Albert Gallatin, historically speaking. We should all feel pride in the name when we recall how much this statesman (Albert Gallatin) contributed to our early development and helped in many ways to make this area what it is today.Note: I do possess the teachers' names and the students for each class that attended the school. Any one inquiring about these groups can receive this info through an Email.
Fairchance, PA in the 1940s
By Robert Bailey Sr.During the 1940s Coal Mines, Coke Ovens and Railroads were at their prime. Uniontown, PA was a very busy thriving town, and streets were filled with shoppers every Friday & Saturday evening. The streetcars ran from Fairchance, PA to Uniontown, PA starting at Main & Church St. in Fairchance.At this time Fairchance had a bakery, union supply store, hardware, two dairy bars, appliance store, post office, four barbershops, drug store, theater, shoe repair, clothing store, cleaners, bank, 5&10 cent store, several service stations, two hotels, bars, bowling alley, and several grocery stores.Some of these store names were Jewell Bakery, Hatchets Hardware, Pegs Dairy Bar, The Hut, Dad Dunaways Drug Store, Kukalo Appliance, Darby Humbert Lumber Company, Fairchance Lumber Company, Dolittle Grocery, Gleason Grocery, Trouts Grocery, Marnellas Grocery, Steve Takotch Grocery, Trouts Cleaners, Bob Lowes Ice & Coal Delivery, White Front Meat Market, A&P, American Store, Romesburgh Garage, Archie Miller Service Station, Cloyd Carr Service Station, Rumpy Heavener Service Station, Gaydos Barber Shop, Sechler Barber Shop, Deans Barber Shop, Hunkers Machine Shop, Kapalko Pontiac Garage, Hawkins Photo Studio, Fairchance Feed Mill, Sharps Funeral Home was originally a bank and the Bank Tavern was originally a bank. We also had our own Grade School & High School.Doctors were Dr. Heath, Dr. Gretchner, Dr. Mark Montgomery, Dr. Bruce Montgomery, Dr. Patterson, and Dr. Waldon Moats. Dentists were Dr. Fast and Dr. Patterson.Coal miners made purchases at the Union Supply by charging it on their payroll account. Wires ran from each department to the store office and a carrier traveled this wire carrying the charge slip from each purchase (this was then replaced with a vacuum method).Stores were not self serve and clerks would retrieve each item from the shelves lined around the stores.Shoe stores had a ladder that traveled a rail on pulleys top & bottom of the ladder around the store shelves to retrieve shoes from top shelves.A&P was noted for their coffee they had three kinds 8 o'clock (red bag), Bokart (black bag) and Red Circle (Yellow bag).Each day a large cart on wagon wheels was pulled back and forth from the post office to the train station when the mail train arrived. All large packages were kept at the freight station along the B & O Railroad tracks. We also had the Pennsylvania tracks where coal was loaded on cars from the tipple.There were two outdoor theaters in the mid 1940s, the Moonlight at the top of Hights Hill and the Starlight in town. Roller skating rinks were Melody in town and Shadowland near Evans Manor, and Duck Inn in Fairchance. There was a powder mill off the mountain road on the north side of Fairchance in the early 1940's, and during the construction of Route 857 earlier there was a prison camp along the road near the West Virginia line just south of Fairchance, PA where the prisoners were kept that worked on the road construction.
|?}||External Web Link: Official Dunbar Historical Society Web Site|
|?}||Dunbar, PA has an active historical society, the "Dunbar Historical Society," that serves the community and surrounding Dunbar Township, PA.|