Jefferson Township Historical Society
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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!

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“ABRAHAM LINCOLN coming to TOWN”

just in time for PRESIDENT’S DAY

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2017

The February meeting of the Jefferson Township Historical Society will be held on Saturday, February 18, 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 February meeting will be JIM CROUSE.  Jim Crouse isn’t always himself.  Sometimes, the area native is “Abraham Lincoln,” a figure in history he admires and impersonates.  Fittingly on February 18, just two days before President’s Day 2017, Crouse will assume the persona of the nation’s 16th President during a special presentation in our historic White Church building.  His talk will be geared toward children and adults and contain many of the antics of the Lincoln children when they lived in the White House.  This is a great opportunity for you to bring children and grandchildren.  They are interested in history.

Always interested in history, Crouse first started researching Benjamin Franklin, noting the two share the same birthday – Jan. 17.  A natural progression fueled an interest to learn about Abraham Lincoln.  That ushered in a two- to three-year period of extensive reading about Lincoln in recent years.

“I was overwhelmed at the number of books there are out there about Lincoln,” said Crouse, who was amazed to discover an entire room dedicated to Lincoln at a Carnegie, PA library.  Do any of you have books about Abraham Lincoln that you could bring to the meeting?

Crouse wondered why so many people were so interested in the man who served as President from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865 and who led the United States through its Civil War.  The answer wasn’t elusive, given some view Lincoln as the country’s greatest president ever, including Crouse.  “It’s just amazing what this man did,” Crouse said.

Learning about Lincoln became a passionate hobby of Crouses’.  You can see evidence of this in talking to him for a very short time.  For Crouse, impersonating Lincoln seemed like a logical way to share with others the information he had found so interesting. 

And besides, looking like Lincoln was easy to pull off.  He is 6’ 4” tall and has already started to grow his beard.  “I realized I was the right height and thin, and I could probably do impersonations.  I could look just like Lincoln,” Crouse said.

Although Crouse said he doesn’t promote himself as an Abraham Lincoln impersonator, he is nonetheless willing to do so on request.  The Historical Society is very fortunate to have him coming to our meeting.  He will give us facts about Lincoln that perhaps we knew at one time but have forgotten.

Did you know that Lincoln was reared in a poor family on the western frontier and was a self-educated lawyer in Illinois?  That Lincoln taught himself so much and had a thirst for learning is a Lincoln quality Crouse admires.  “He used his mind and always kept learning,” Crouse said of the man who “became what was needed to guide the country through the Civil War.” Crouse said he also admires how Lincoln was so curious and would keep reading and the way he learned to deal with people no matter what negative things were said about him.

It will become apparent to you as you listen to Jim Crouse speak how much he enjoys doing this program.  He said that he likes to do this program “so that people will understand much better who Abraham Lincoln was and what an amazing man he was.”  Let’s show our support by being present for this program on Saturday, February 18, just two days before President’s Day.  You do not need to be a member to come to any of our meetings.  We encourage you to come and meet “Abraham Lincoln.”  He is coming to town. There will be refreshments.

CHANGE OF DATE for the YARD SALE After discussion it was decided that our July membership meeting would be Saturday, July 15 and the Yard Sale would be the following Friday and Saturday, July 21st and July 22nd. 

DUES are DUE It is that time of the year again.  Come to the meeting and pay your dues.  The dues are $15.00 for a single membership and $20.00 for a family membership.  If you cannot attend the meeting, mail your dues to Frank Malardie, Treasurer, Jefferson Township Historical Society, Box 383, Burgettstown, PA.  Make your check payable to the Jefferson Township Historical Society.

PLANT SALE A Plant Sale will be again on Mother’s Day weekend.  The dates are Friday, May 12 and Saturday, May 13.  Help John Ratkovitch out this year by growing some plants for the Plant Sale.

“ALBERT’s GREATEST CREW” is an article written by member Frank P. Muzopappa and is posted below and also included in the newsletter for your pleasure reading.  The Society appreciates Frank taking the time to write these articles and sharing them with the Society members.  Thank you, Frank.

Click Here to Download/Print a copy of this newsletter. 

ALBERT’s GREATEST CREW
by Frank P. Muzopappa

On the date of December 7, 2016, America honored the death of thousands of U.S. Military personnel that were killed seventy-five years ago at Pearl Harbor Naval Base, during a surprise attack by Japanese Air and Naval Forces.

President Roosevelt, the next day, took to the radio to announce that America had declared war on Japan. Our entry into the war aligned America with its allies in the fight with the Axis Powers. America had already enacted a draft (conscription) in 1940. It was the first peace-time draft in America's history. This information is presented to establish the events that would greatly influence the future of the Miller farm, and family, along with the lives of the teenagers that became Albert's Greatest Crew.

Until 1936, the farm was operated mainly as a race-horse farm under the leadership of Albert's uncle Alden, grandfather Thomas A. Miller, and Albert's younger brother, Delvin, who, at 22 years of age, was developing a successful career as a driver in Sulky racing.

In 1936, Alden was killed while racing his horse at the track at the Burgettstown Fairgrounds. Albert's grandfather had already died, thus leaving Delvin as the sole supporter of race horses at the farm. Albert had no interest in racing. He concentrated his activity and aspirations in husbandry, which included Dorset horned sheep, cattle, and fowl; along with crop production of hay, corn, wheat, oats, and straw, which was labor intensive in those days.

Alden usually had a hired worker on the farm, but Albert would now need more helpers during the harvesting of crops that began in the spring, and continued through autumn.

The Anthony Shore, Sr. family moved into a house on the Miller farm, and in the family were three girls and two boys. The oldest girl, Bessie, worked with Amy, Albert’s mother at the farm. They worked together to provide three meals a day for three sons, a hired-hand, and also a lunch for the teenagers hired for harvesting and walking the horses. There were frequent occasions when Bessie, with pitchfork in hand, worked the chores with her brother and other members of the crew.

Albert's Greatest Crew was beginning to be assembled. With the exception of Amy's youngest son, Orrin, all were sons and a daughter of coal miners living in the coal patches of Penowa. However, Orrin's father did work at the Waverly mine, weighing the coal that was loaded in cars by the miners in the pits. As the check weigh-man, Albert, Earl worked for a year before succumbing to the flu pandemic of 1918.

The members of the crew were Orrin Miller, Nicholas Negra, Bessie and Anthony Shore, Jr., Julius Simon, Jr., and Patrick Kopa. All five of the young men, in a few years hence, would be serving in the U.S. military during World War II. Delvin, too, would be serving with the army in the mountains of Burma.

Two of the crew were killed in action in Europe. Nicholas Negra lost his life as his Calvary Unit moved through France, a month before the Battle of the Bulge began on December 16, 1944: He was twenty-one years old. His body was returned to America for interment at the Gettysburg National Cemetery with Full Military Honors.

Orrin was a belly-gunner in the turret of a B-24, heavy bomber, known as the Liberator. He died on his 9th bombing run, when his plane was shot down in eastern Europe. His body was brought from a cemetery in France, to the Gettysburg National Cemetery for interment with Full Military Honors. He was twenty-six years old.

Julius Simon, Jr. served in the army as an infantry paratrooper, and participated in five battles and campaigns behind enemy lines in eastern Europe. For his service, he was awarded a citation badge that recognized his service as an O.S.S. member (Office of Security Service), now known as C.I.A.

Albert would have been about 27 years of age when these young teenagers began working for him. With Albert at the helm, he must have had a fatherly influence on them. They were hard working youngsters, growing up during the Great Depression, served their country honorably in a world war, and it cost two of them their lives.

Yes, one must concede that Albert's Crew had a lusty feeling for the horses on the farm. Consider that in their youth, radio programs, news-paper comics, and comic books featured heroes on their horses. Do you recall the Lone Ranger and Tonto, on their horses Silver and Scout? There were others, such as Roy Rodgers and Trigger, Tom Mix and his horse Tony, etc.

Many of the movies for the past 60 years have been those known as Cowboy or Westerns; or the condescending name of "Oaters," referring to the feed-bag holding oats, which is hung from the neck of the horse to enable the horse to eat the grain.
At the Turney School reunions, which began in 1966, and continued until the year 2000, I spoke with some of the sisters of the crew members. Sonya Negra Jason described the enthusiasm that her brother, Nicholas, had for working with the horses. Jenny Shore Macugoski and Margaret Simon related similar stories of their brothers.

I believe that these were youngsters that were outstanding in certain aspects of their younger years and were carried over into adulthood.  They worked hard to earn a few dollars to help their large families survive in an Era that was one of the U.S. of A's most challenging: A Great Depression, followed quickly by World War II.    

Although she did not serve in the military, Bessie worked at jobs that were considered as "man's work", in serving her country at jobs like those done by Rosie the Riveter.

Bessie is 97 years old, living near Washington, Pennsylvania. Patrick is 91, and lives in Weirton, West Virginia.


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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....
Read More

 

Contributions

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 biggmal@zoominternet.net.

Jefferson Township Historical Society