Welcome to Jefferson Township Historical Society
The purpose of the Jefferson Township Historical Society (“Society”) shall be to bring together those people interested in history, and especially in the history of Jefferson Township and surrounding areas. Understanding the history of our community is basic to our democratic way of life, gives us a better understanding of our state and nation, and promotes a better appreciation of our American heritage. Read More about JTHS
Click Here to learn about the History of The Jefferson Township Historical Society!
“OPERATION DEEP FREEZE II”
SATURDAY, APRIL 22, 2017
The April meeting of the Jefferson Township Historical Society will be held on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 10:00 am in the White Church building located in Eldersville on Fire Road across from the fire hall. If you are unsure where we are located, type into your GPS the address of 11 Fire Road, Burgettstown, PA 15021.
Guest speaker for our April meeting will be JTHS member Jamie Copenhaver-Cribbs who will provide an oral history presentation of her father, Jack Copenhaver’s, experiences during his time in the United States Navy focusing on the expedition of Operation Deep Freeze II to Antarctica. He was aboard the USS Staten Island, an Ice Breaker that led the USS Wyandot through the Waddell Sea to build Ellsworth Scientific Research Station. Jamie will have slides of photographs her father took on the expedition. Not many people have traveled to Antarctica, so this will prove to be a unique and interesting event. Please join us.
You do not have to be a member of the Society to attend any of our meetings. We welcome everyone, all ages. Please come and enjoy a good program, fellowship and refreshments.
PROGRAMS Vice President Nancy Pienkosky announced that the May program would be “President Lincoln Revisited” by Jim Crouse and the June program would be presented by our Historian Jim Smith who has written two books on the Civil War. Nancy also said that she would welcome suggestions for future programs. She can be reached at 724 947 4743.
“BAKELESS” BAKE SALE. The “Bakeless” Bake Sale has already started. It is going to run the entire month of April. This means that you do not actually have to bake a thing. There will be no standing over a hot oven on a hot day. It does mean that if you care to contribute to the “Bakeless” Bake Sale, you are welcome to put a check in the mail made out to the Jefferson Township Historical Society and mailed to Box 383, Burgettstown, PA 15021. Any amount would be greatly appreciated. Please designate on your check that it is for the “Bakeless” Bake Sale. Thank you.
PLANT SALE A Plant Sale will be again on Mother’s Day weekend. The dates are Friday, May 12 and Saturday, May 13. The hours are 9:00 to 4:00 each day. You are welcome to grow plants to donate to the sale.
YARD SALE The Historical Society will have its annual Yard Sale on Friday and Saturday, July 21st and July 22nd. This will be the weekend after its monthly meeting on July 15th, and we encourage you to come to the meeting and after the meeting bring your donations. The hours are 9:00 to 4:00.
RADA SALES The Board voted to continue selling Rada products for another year.
PENOWA BOOK Dorothy Muzopappa said that she still has Penowa books available to sell. This book was written by Frank Muzopappa and is a great historical book about Penowa.
NEW STORAGE BUILDING The Historical Society is pleased to announce that it has purchased a storage building from Yoder’s Backyard Structures and it was delivered on March 8, 2017. Yoder’s did a magnificent job of placing the new storage building next to the Museum Building. Our thanks to Dave Choman for preparing the gravel pad for the building and starting to fill the building with items from Heritage Hall.
HERITAGE HALL There has been no solution found for tearing Heritage Hall down. Ideally, we would love to find a company that would pay us for what they could salvage in the building. If you have any suggestions for us, we want to hear from you. Call Jean at 1 304 748 6376.
ALBERT’S FINAL CREW by Frank Muzopappa. We are pleased to include another well written historical article by Frank Muzopappa on Albert Miller. Our thanks to Frank for writing these articles.
Albert's Final Crew
by Frank Muzopappa
Having known Albert Miller for most of his adult life, and working for him through all my teens, I feel compelled to conclude his mini-biography with a brief history of his final crew.
As a member of the crew that worked through the decade of the 1940's, only Cecil Tranquill continued through the summers of 1949 and 1950.
By this time, the Jefferson, Penobscot, and Waverly mines shut down operations, and were dismantled. The combination of the closing of the mines, the improving economy, and young men and women ready to enter the job market, prompted most families to migrate to the cities. There would never again be a pool of teenagers to work the local farms.
Fortunately for Albert, some of the George Bertovich, Sr. family members and the Anthony Shore, Sr. family remained in the Jefferson mine patch. Jenny Shore Macugoski, and John Bertovich still live in Penowa. John Bertovich began working for Albert in the late 1950's as a young teenager. He became the mainstay of the few teenagers left in Penowa that worked sporadically for Albert.
John did a hitch with the Army, and in the 1960's, was honorably discharged. He returned to Penowa, and took a job in the Westland mine. John's father, George, Sr., and his grandfather, Julius Simon, Sr., both worked the mines. However, unlike them, John would not be wielding a pick and shovel. John had a knack for working with machinery, and was assigned duties of operating equipment that cut the face of the coal, and loaded the coal into a mine-car to be hauled away.
Later in life, John combined his strong work ethic and mechanical ability into being a busy mechanic, operating his own auto-repair shop in Penowa to the delight of his many customers from surrounding communities. John is now 72 years old, and still operates the shop.
John had a brother, George, Jr. who served in the Army in Vietnam. After serving his time, he returned to Penowa. He was in the process of finding a job when John suggested to George that he should consider working on the Miller farm while waiting for a response to his job applications.
George had worked the farm as a teenager, and was familiar with the terrain of the farm, and the Farmall tractor that he was to use on this fateful day. His job was to operate the tractor so that the rear wheel of the tractor was to run close to the edge of a long furrow which was on the slope of the hill.
At one place along the furrow, the sod caved into the furrow, and the large rear wheel slid into the furrow. George quickly jumped off the tractor realizing that it was about to turn over. As it began to flip, the opposite rear wheel of the tractor had moved ahead to where George was lying on the ground. George was safely away from the path that the wheel was traveling; however, as the wheel reached the area where George had landed, the wheel suddenly broke away from the axel, and the tractor forced the wheel flat upon the ground where George had landed. George was killed instantly, unfortunately he would no longer be a member of the final crew.
This should have been one of the many farm accidents that occur quite often without the death of the person involved: unfortunately, this was not one of them.
This tragedy had to be one of John's low points in his life. However, he was about to experience what I, in my humble opinion, would consider a high point in his work-related years. Albert asked John to attend the ceremony that was scheduled as the official opening of Meadowcroft Village. It was to be a grand celebration that would be attended by many dignitaries. This was not the kind of venue that John envisioned for himself. He finally acquiesced to Albert's pleading, and much to his surprise at the gathering, Albert, from the podium, singled out John. Albert exclaimed to the crowd: "Were it not for John Bertovich, we would not be celebrating this event today." Albert went on to describe the commitment John had made to assist him in most of the work leading up to this celebration.
It was because of selfless acts of kindness, and respect for others that impressed me about this gentle humble man. He had acquired many awards for his numerous accomplishments in farming, environmental protection, and even an Honorary Doctorate from W&J College, but you would never know him to mention these achievements.
Yes, he benefited from the Shore and Bertovich families, but it was reciprocated. From the Shore family, all five of the children worked the farm as teenagers. Bessie, Helen, and Jenny worked at jobs performed by their brothers, with exception of working with the race horses: Tony, Jr. was the only one to do that. Edward worked with Albert's second crew.
Jenny, also, was one of the early members of the Meadowcroft Village that demonstrated the various chores required to survive in the era that Meadowcroft represented. One of the chores that she performed was the shucking of the field corn as a source of food for barnyard animals. This was demonstrated for groups of the school children, as they toured the village.
Thus, we have John and Jenny, that were familiar with Albert, and the Miller (Bancroft) farm from childhood. They also worked the farm as teenagers, and were still with Albert to help him usher in his dream come true at Meadowroft Village.
You may be wondering: where is the reciprocity for those that worked that farm?
If you did not live between the years from October 1929, through the decade of the 1930's, you missed the Great Depression. If you grew up with two siblings, your family would have been smaller than the average family in Penowa at that time. Also, steady daily work at the three mines in Penowa was not to be found, it is why most of these families moved from one mine to another during this era.
In the decade of the 1940's, the pay for an eight-hour day was three dollars on the Miller and the farms of Bill and Joe Burkhart. The farmers also provided a noon meal that was more than adequate, and included all the trimmings. One may consider this as a paltry sum, but consider that a 12oz. bottle of Pepsi Cola was only 5 cents. For a dollar, one could have the Pepsi, a pound of butcher baloney and a loaf of sliced bread, and some change.
Obviously, many large families depended on the income from farm work, especially since there were few options available in Penowa at that time.
Last, but not least, most of us were first generation children, born of immigrant parents from Europe. Our parents were striving to make a living, and to become good American citizens. Albert was already an American of many generations. He was an honorable man with ethics of a wholesome parent, even though he never fathered a child. He helped us to see and learn the greatness of America, as did our teachers with the leadership of A.D. White.
Of the six members of the crew of which I was a member, only Cecil Tranquill did not have an older brother serving in the military during World War II: Cecil was the oldest child in the family. Thus in essence, Albert filled the role of an older brother rather than only being our boss.
Another outstanding trait of Albert was his gentle treatment of the farm animals. He kept two work horses on the farm that were pets, because their work days were over for years, and he never beat an animal.
In conclusion, I believe that the members of the crews would corroborate the statements expressed in this evaluation of Albert's life in relation to those of us that worked for Albert.
Meadowcroft and The Rock Shelter was a dream of Albert’s for decades before it became a reality. However, credit for the finality of the “Dream” involved other members of the Miller family.
Albert’s brother, Delvin, was a major sponsor of Meadowcroft by donating land and finances. The son of Albert’s sister, Margaret, John Townsend, is a lawyer who devoted much legal time to this most worthy project.
Last, but not least, was Amy, Albert’s mother, who was widowed at the time that her fourth child, Orrin, was born; it was she who kept this family together to accomplish what stands as a testimony to their talent, determination, and love of life and country.
I pray that this warrants an AMEN.
Jefferson Township Map - circa 1932
with locations of historical sites noted by Frank Muzopappa.
Click Here to Download a copy of the Map.
Information and Events
The Jefferson Township Historical Society meets at the White Church the third Saturday of every month at 10:00 am.
We will be providing information for the meetings each month. Christmas in the Village is the Historical Society’s biggest fundraiser of the year, look for 216 information soon!
Read more about upcoming events and fundraisers... Read More
Buildings and Monuments
~ Veterans Memorial
It was February 2004 when the Board members of the Jefferson Township Historical Society had a vision for a Veterans Memorial in Eldersville. They owned property where a Memorial could be built. There was a Jefferson Township Honor Roll in front of the former Eldersville Grade School.... Read More
~ The White Church
The White Church is uniquely located in a tri-state area attracting visitors from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. It has been awarded historic landmark designations by the Washington County History and Landmark Foundation for The White Church, built in 1844 and Heritage Hall, built 1876. The White Church Building is a useful site for community events and its monthly meetings and Heritage Hall houses its museum.... Read More
~ Heritage Hall
Heritage Hall is located at 493 Eldersville Road, Burgettstown, PA 15021. In 2012 the Washington County History and Landmarks Foundation awarded Historic Landmark Designations for the Society’s two buildings: Heritage Hall and The White Church....
A contribution of any size is welcome for this worthwhile and commendable White Church Preservation Project. You may mail your contribution to Jefferson Township Historical Society, White Church Project, Box 383, Burgettstown, PA 15021 or contact Frank Malardie, Treasurer at email@example.com.