A Search For A Man


Section of the Stewardson Furnace Cemetery.

Section of the Stewardson Furnace Cemetery.

Research had supplied additional information along with a possible site to search. The  quest was for a man of the past named, Abraham Bechtel. The man searching was Tim Bowser. Another friend, Bob “Slim” Bowser, Tim and I decided to search on this beautiful February afternoon. Tim and Slim are living historians. They represent the Civil War soldiers of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry (PVI) Many of these brave men came from such counties of western Pennsylvania as Armstrong, Indiana, Allegheny, Westmoreland, and Jefferson. Slim had a personal tie with his great-great-great uncle Daniel Swigart. That fact lead to his interest in the 62nd PVI. His quest recently discovered an actual photograph of his ancestor. I am an honorary member of this group. These two men and others, including wives in many cases do not do reenacting. These people do grave rededications, volunteering to do work in Gettysburg, do displays and educational presentations to inform the public of those men of the 62nd PVI.

However, this day was for Tim’s great-great-great grandfather, Abraham Bechtel. Others. within the 62nd unit had discovered information of the site of   imgp0931-001Stewardson Furnace area of a possible burial site. The cemetery is located on a flat terrain side of a hill about a mile and a half east of the town of Mahoning in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. In times past a working furnace for ore was located in the area. Mr. Bechtel served in Company K during the Civil War.

The three of us walked among the tombstones searching for the name of our quest. A couple of stones were discovered with the last name of Bechtel, but the name of Abraham was absent. I expressed many times the sadness I felt upon walking the cemetery.  Most of  the tombstones were unreadable without study and/or paper tracings. That meant getting down to work. Still many stones were totally unreadable. Scattered about the cemetery were numerous stones down among the vegetation. We gathered some up to set back up albeit only temporarily for without major work the stones would fall over in time.


Tim and Slim studying tombstones. (Slim is in orange.)

Tim and Slim studying tombstones. (Slim is in orange.)

A number of stones were merely that. It seems apparent some of the stone markers were placed at graves without inscriptions. Maybe these were very poor people who couldn’t afford the cost of a stone with details. Maybe they hoped to supply a tombstone with inscriptions in their future and just never could.

We were humbled as we walked the site. Of course thoughts of the people under us became apparent. One can’t help wondering details. Many people were under thirty years of age including infants. What caused their demise? Typhoid? Scarlet fever? Accidents? Fire? I guess we will never know just who these individuals were. The research did tell us Abraham had fallen at a stone quarry near Manorville. He died from the fall. The date of his accident and death was May 3, 1876.

Another obvious discovery were the many areas of sunken graves. The old pine board caskets had

Slim resetting flag at Swigart grave.

Slim resetting flag at Swigart grave.

succumbed to the elements over many years underground and had collapsed. Depressions of this fact were common.

Unfortunately Abraham’s grave was not located on site. He, very well, could have been laid to rest here. One depressed area with only a field stone marker yielded a GAR marker with a flag. Could Abraham have been buried here? (GAR stands for Grand Army of the republic.)

Later, we stopped at the Pine Creek Baptist Cemetery to check on Slim’s ancestor Daniel Swigart’s grave site. Slim was disappointed as to the trees and briars in this section of the cemetery.  Slim reset the flag in honor.


dsc_0001 The weather people were stating a warm up was coming for the weekend. I needed to hike some more in snow before this  melted.dsc_0018 We did not have very much snow locally this winter.  My decision was to hike the area of Crooked Creek Park. I was hoping to get some eagle pics as they are always in the area.


I was traveling early and was fortunate to witness a few moments of sunrise. Cloud cover was dominate, but hints of sun would occasionally peak  dsc_0034through. (Later in the day the sun was more prominent.) I arrived on site around 7:20 A.M. The hike was on!

dsc_0025  The lake follows the old creek bottom. It is easy to see how Crooked Creek became known as such. The original waterways meanders in a very crooked manner. At one point which is the current beach area one can stand with water on three sides.

Sycamore seed pod

Sycamore seed pod

While I stood on the, now abandoned, beach area I saw over fifty Canada Geese flying over and landing on the lake. It was obvious the pairing off of the geese was on. Also, on the lake were mergansers and wood ducks. No eagles!


I walked along a high ridge and spotted an immature Bald eagle at about thirty yards or less. However, the branches of hemlocks would not permit a single photograph. Of course, the eagle wasn’t going to allow much time to find a good opening. This would be the only eagle I would see this day.

I hiked below the overflow area. the creek was high since the dam was allowing for back up water to escape. I saw two Great Blue herons flying over the waters.

dsc_0042     Deer were plentiful. I saw twenty deer this day. Some were bedded and others were feeding.


Bayernhof Music Museum

dsc_0003  We finally made a trip to the Bayernhof Music Museum. A friend told me of this museum quite some time ago. Today we had the dsc_0013opportunity to visit the site near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


The overlook

The overlook

The 19,000 square feet building is located hill on a hill overlooking the Allegheny River just outside of the city. Also, the site overlooks the Highland Park area including the zoo, Oakland and downtown Pittsburgh.The view is something to see. the building was built by Charles Boyd Brown. Mr. Brown died dsc_0018in 1999. He was a collector of antique musical instruments. Mr. brown, also, loved anything from the area of Bavaria in Europe.


dsc_0008   The home has ten fireplaces, eight full baths, three powder rooms and three kitchens. It has eleven wet bars scattered around the building. Some secret passageways can be discovered once someone shows them where they are. Spiral steps, an indoor swimming pool with a ten foot waterfall are on the premises. Mr. Brown, also, had a reflecting telescope installed.              dsc_0011

A most unique feature on site is the “cave”. This is a created cave that meanders through the lower basement area and has stalactites and stalagmites built to observe.

Antiques and art and murals can be observed at the museum.  Need to take a sauna?  yes, the building has one along with a tanning room and Jacuzzi.

Each chair was hand-carved with a different animal on it.

Each chair was hand-carved with a different animal on it.

dsc_0010  However, the collection yields to many very old , rare and automatic musical instrument. Many of these were created in the 1800 time frame. One might hear something that would have been used prior to the “talkie” movies.  Many of these had to be restored to their original grandeur.

For more information see: http://www.bayernhofmuseum.com                                                     dsc_0019

Roaring Run Hike

Kiski River

Kiski River

By remembering the mile marker posts and studying the official trail map I determined we may have hiked as much as eight  dsc_0015miles. My friend, Frank Maus an I traveled the trail this cold February morning.  Frankie had never been at this area and was anxious to see the sights. I have hiked on  the Roaring Run Trail before as well as hiked it before.  Check out: http://www.roaringrun.org  for more information on the trail.

The Roaring Run Trail flows alongside the Kiskimineatas River in southern Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. Many years ago I remember the waterways to be orange from mine acid drainage issues. Today the water is clean and beautiful thanks to many efforts to clean it up. Many species of fish inhabit these waters today. There are some small communities of Armstrong County that can be found along this river. Some are Avonmore; Edmon; Apollo; Vandergrift and Leechburg. The “Kiski” River as it is known by many locals flows into the Allegheny River at Schenley, Pennsylvania.  (My father worked over forty years at the Schenley Distilleries located at Schenley. And he didn’t drink!) During the years of approximately 1825 to 1850 a canal was present along this river.


Roaring Run

Roaring Run


Beaver sign

Beaver sign

The first signs of wildlife were a small flock of Canada Geese flying low and close. We weren’t hardly out of jeep yet when they  dsc_0012 appeared. My camera was still in my shoulder bag. Later, we saw two Mallard Ducks along the shoreline. The river was up some and was flowing quickly. We noticed a lot of Beaver activity along the river’s edge.

Eventually, we stopped and turned at Roaring Run’s mouth where it entered the Kiski River. Here we turned to hike the Rock Furnace Trail. Originally this furnace was known as Biddle’s Iron Furnace.

A huge boulder erupts above Roaring Run at the site of long-abandoned furnace. The rock if known as Camel Rock.


Camel Rock

Camel Rock

dsc_0004   Time moved fast as we talked and laughed. We discussed fishing these waters in the future. I plan to do so as well as hike some more as the spring wildflowers bloom.


I had come to the conclusion that a deer season without a deer could be reality. Illness and pains; bad luck and fate; blunders and misses all occurred  dsc_0010within the last  month and a half. My confidence had been shattered.

I didn’t hunt Thursday or Friday and I hadn’t planned on hunting today. (January 14) However, last evening I decided to hunt for a few hours if the weather didn’t get too bad. Freezing rain was a possibility. This began around nine o’clock along with snow. This fact kept me checking the pan powder often. I would have dampness being absorbed into the pan powder at times despite my efforts to keep my powder dry. Several times I needed to dig the caked powder, dry and add fresh powder.

I was sneaking around the best I could under the frosty conditions on the forest floor when I saw a bedded deer about eighty yards away. I soon noticed a second deer bedded along with a meandering doe. (A fourth deer would later be viewed.) This moving doe spotted me standing. She failed to identify me and was curious and walked towards me a short distance. Limbs kept me from shooting, but I hoped for an open shot.

dsc_0006 The fourth deer snorted as the deer began moving around. They walked away wondering what happened. I quickly backtracked and moved to where I hoped they might come through. They went down over the hill. I would see another deer feeding in posted land.

I saw some squirrels and flushed a turkey off a hill.

I was heading towards the jeep to quit since I had planned to exit around one o’clock. However, something interesting happened. I spotted a turkey

Note the eye!

Note the eye!

standing with its head pulled in as if it might be sleeping. I have witnessed something I had called “stupor time” with turkeys. I observed an entire flock one winter stop and go to sleep. the flock of 30-35 birds all did this for about half an hour before beginning to feed again.

I walked close enough to reach down and touch this turkey before it reacted. It few before getting tangled among limbs and falling back to the ground. the turkey began walking about giving the alarm call. The bird went airborne again only to land in multiflora rose. I lost sight of the turkey. I took a number of photos and the left eye appears to be blind. Also, the head seems to me to not look right.


I left the dentist office around one 0’clock in the afternoon on Monday, January 9. Preliminary work was completed for the process of having a tooth again. (I broke my tooth off a week ago.) I went home and decided a should grab the flintlock and try for a deer in the remaining time.

I arrived at the site I had planned to hunt around 1: 40 P.M. I was excited with the changing weather conditions.  The sun had been out some this day and the temperatures and risen from the single digit temps previously. the winds were not as strong either. Also, I had seen 5-6 deer feeding as I was driving to this hunt. Maybe the deer were out feeding due to the changes.

Immediately, I noticed the eastern slope was not as noisy as the previous two hunting days for me. The snow has softened and the frost seemed to be exiting the ground.  That observation changed as I climbed the hill. the top was still crunchy and most of the woodland steps produced the twin sounds of compaction of snow and busting frost.

I was sneaking along on the eastern side of the hill when I saw a deer’s body about eighteen yards away. I readied Old Jacob and tried to determine which side of the body was the vital area. I COULDN”T SEE THE NECK OR HEAD due to brush! With the flintlock read I leaned to my right and saw the definite view of a deer eye and ear. As experienced sneakers know, often the deer will react immediately upon reaching the point of direct eye contact. the doe was up and gone in a second. I saw one more deer this evening.

We were told via the weather people  January 10 would have snow early changing to freezing rain by 9-10 and turning to rain later.  I didn’t plan to hunt for this all sound problematic for a flintlock rifle. If that black powder gets wet the result is a failed shot. However, by 11:00 I decided I should gamble and go hunting. The snow was fresh and no rain had fallen. I was ready to go just prior to 11:30 and I noticed a little very light rain.

I decided to go to a local state game lands to try my luck. Before I pulled out of the drive the rain had picked up still I was going to try a hunt. The five miles produced slightly heavier rain.  I saw a ringneck hen flush.

I soon would look over an embankment to see two deer feeding. I froze. they were about 70 yards. A third deer materialized. A deer began moving towards me at an angle and I was hopeful all of this would come together. The deer stopped at about 45 yards. I couldn’t get a clear shot due to limbs, briars and vines. I could only hope as I noticed the wind wasn’t right for me. The deer would begin snorting, but she held her ground for another five minutes. the other two deer were still feeding but moving away. The close deer eventually moved to them and they all three moved around a hill into posted property. The rains increased.




I still-hunted through an area with a lot of oak trees. Deer feeding had occurred sometime this morning. I was startled to see a mid-size opossum feeding on acorns. I took some pics as the rain increased. the snow in the hour since I started this hunt had decreased by about fifty percent.  I was really wet with an all attempt to keep the rifle dry. I used a treated piece of leather draped over the lock.  dsc_0013

I spotted a deer standing at about fifty yards, but brush didn’t allow for a clean shot. A second deer was spotted. She had two steps to complete her stance for an open shot. The first deer turned and moved and the second deer turned to join. This gully had a section of very thick brush about thirty feet in length and 15 feet in width. If the deer moved out in any direction they would be visible. A major problem for me was a growth of vines and briars blocking my view.

I had set down on a leg in the wet snow figuring the shot was at hand. After five minutes, my leg was soaked and I was getting cold. I believed those deer had to have bedded down. I stood up and moved a couple of steps to my left as I watched two deer jump up and move out. Oh well! I decided to head home. I shot the flintlock as I reached the vehicle and he went off perfectly despite the heavy rain.

I returned home and received a call that the dentist had a cancel and I went and had my tooth completed repaired!     dsc_0012

My painting MOVING THROUGH of a black bear is available for purchase as a print and/ot conservation stamp. See this link if interested.