Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sentimental Sunday

              Happy Birthday, Mom. This week was the first time I couldn't spend her birthday with my Mom.  Every year we always sang Happy Birthday around birthday cakes,( Mom's favorite: German Chocolate) and,  my Dad's favorite, vanilla ice cream.  The whole family came, kids, grandchildren, great-grand children and even some kids from the past. We'd all eat, sing Happy Birthday and cut the cake. Dad always doled out the ice cream.
              Everyone would stay late hanging on to the last bit of conversation. It was always hard to leave 'home' even though we saw each other frequently. We always got caught up in talking and sharing and the time just 'got away'. Those times are over now. No more hanging out at Grumpa and Nonnie's for the grand kids and great-grand kids; no more going home for the 'kids'.

              Happy Birthday, Mom we all miss you so very much and were so lucky to have had you in our lives. We are all better people for the experience.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A collision with the past

Over the Independence Day celebration an old family friend and neighbor died. She and her husband were the last of the Italian couples that lived on the street I grew up on. My family had gotten together to sort through some of my Mom's things at her house that night. It so happened Josephine's family were all there with her because she had a change in her status that day. Luckily we just 'happened'  to be across the street and were able to see her one last time.
At the funeral home and funeral we got to see many 'kids' and some of the parents who no longer live in the neighborhood. It was bitter sweet. Together we were all reminiscing yet saying goodbye to an era of a lifestyle we lived in. It was final.
We grew up on Orchard Ave. Within 5-10 min. of walking distance to downtown yet the neighborhood had everything a kid could want. We were truly lucky. That was said to me repeatedly those few days.
The street had many young couples with 3-5 kids about the same age range. The grade school sat at one end of the street and in the summer time the playground was in 'full swing'. A set of trained college kids ran each playground with crafts, games of skill, physical and mental; and a regular talent show with the band wagon equipped with a sound system. All the playground standards: the huge big kids swings we stood on to pump  them as high as possible (trying to 'go over the top'), the little 'baby' swings, the monkey bars, the sliding board, the merri-go-round (where we played 'dropped it: picked it up) and the sand box. We played Volleyball, badminton, kickball, the carom pool table that fit perfectly over a 55 gal. drum, whiffleball and Basket ball. In the winter the firemen flooded the basketball court so we could play ice hockey..... We had a lot of flat surfaces to bicycle and some really steep hills to fly down. We 'hung out' on the wall in front of my house at the end of the block. All the parents, of all nationalities, watched out for all the kids. We had outside sleep-overs, neighborhood 'fire hall' street fairs with gambling for the adults, bingo for the moms and rides for the little ones. My favorite thing to do was run through the huge woods, quiet and cool yet so much fun. And when I was done I could sit in the crotch of the mulberry tree and eat all the reachable berries.
To get to the point share your memories with your past friends and families as well as those new members. Give them the good memories to continue passing them along. (ie. I bought my toddler grand-niece a pair of frog wellie boots and promptly taught her to splash in the little mud puddles!)
Most of the neighborhood parents and some of the 'kids' are now Resting In Pennsylvania and in all of our thoughts and memories.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Lt. Col. Pomeroy, more info on a revolutionary patriot!

When we first saw the Lt. Colonel's gravestone we smiled and chuckled at the 'Indian killer' reference.  But having lived here in one of the first thriving states in the colonies and being hungry for that time period's history we know a little bit about this areas 'indian' attacks.

To give you a quick overview... first of all most of the people that came to the Quaker State (PA) came for the religious freedom and the ability to make it on their own and possibly own land. As Philadelphia grew and more people moved west the exposure to the native American nomads grew.
Understanding that this is a broad overview here it is: Most natives viewed this great, vast land as a gift of abundance to be utilized and taken care of for all people. They fought with other native tribes to retain the ability to utilize this mother earth. So there was violence among the natives long before the white man came.
During the French and Indian War and following through the Revolutionary War, many of the Indian raids that killed settlers were brought about by the instigation and collaboration of the French or British commanders.
The attack on the Westmoreland Co. seat of Hannah's town July 13, 1782 was just that. Working with the British, about 60 Canadian Rangers and  100 Seneca Indians fighting; under Guyasuta, attacked the small fort during the Revolutionary War. A young girl died trying to protect a child. (to see more about the death of Margaret, Peggy, Shaw and the Hannah's town raid see "Hannah's Town" a book  by local historians Helen Smith and George Swetnam, written in 1973 during Hannastown excavation. "ISBN 0-913228-06-0".) This was part of a multi-day raid on this area. Most attacks occurred during the summer because of the harsh winters and tracks in the snow led to the culprits. See, also,

At that time settlers carried rifles to work their fields and always feared attack from the stealth natives. The Revolutionary War was fought on all fronts including in the backyards of the settlers, who were defending their family(s). Every few miles a family would be the voluntary "block parents" or block house, a safe haven during raids. My ancestors being inhabitants of this area had one such block house not far from where I've lived most of my life.

Pomeroy was one of the magistrates of Westmoreland Co. and  established the county seat at "Newtown", now Greensburg, PA.

His older brother, Thomas Pomeroy is said to have been the first white child born in Lancaster Co, a county between Philly and the Westmoreland co. area . Thomas left early July 21, 1763, to hunt for food for his wife and two children only to return to find a band of Indians had killed and scalped his wife and children. A women named Mrs. Johnson survived the attack. She "had an broken arm, her skull fractured and the scalp torn off her head." From History of the Cumberland County, Counties of Franklin and Cumberland Co.

So one can understand why after surviving the French and Indian War and having been commander of Fort Ligonier in 1777 ( taken from the French in the war)   he could have become "popularly known as the Indian killer". As commander he may have been labeled for actions at that time.

Fort Ligonier on Forbe's Trail, was the only major fort  on the way to Fort Pitt. (Fort Pitt was, also, originally French and known as Fort Duquesne.) Pitt gave  access to the very important Ohio river and thus access north to Canada and south to the mouth of the Mississippi.) Lewis and Clark had a their keel-boat built here before their trip west and of course George Washington was frequently in the area.
 Ligonier was just west of the difficult to navigate Allegheny Mountains at the gateway to the rolling hills of southwestern PA and in the area of many killings of settlers. To go west settlers had to pass through this  glacial gorge so it was the hub of much activity.

People didn't have the communications we have today so many of the natives and settlers only understood that the others had to be 'stopped'. This was self preservation on all sides.

All this history found from researching the inscription on an interesting grave marker.

Other sources: Old Westmoreland, the History of Western Pennsylvania during the Revolution. by Edgar W. Hassler. Fort Ligonier Museum site.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Revolutionary War Veterans

As we celebrate our great nation's independence we would like to remember some of those who risked all and fought for that precious gift. 

The United States of America

 Here are a few of those soldiers buried in Old Salem Church Cemetery  in New Derry, Pennsylvania: 

IN memory of
Thomas Anderson
who departed this life
April 30th, 1828
aged 103 years.

John Barnett
served in the
 war of
the revolution.

In memory of
William Bell
who departed this life
Nov'r 21st 1828 in the 73rd
Year of his age.

Zebulon Doty
Rev. War

memory of
Uriah Matson
died June 6th, 1826 in
77 year of his age..

John Pomeroy
Revolutionary veteran
Lt. Col.of militia
Indian killer
m. Hannah Graham.
( More on Lt. Col. Pomeroy will follow in another post. ) 

Moses Stuert
born 1722
died July
28 1790.

To all those who fought for our freedoms let us remember them as we celebrate.
Thank you for our freedoms!