Archive for May, 2019

The Lady’s slippers are a most beautiful and unique wildflower. Pennsylvania has three species and I believe all are endangered in many areas. This specie of flower has growth and survival demands seldom duplicated by home flower gardens. Therefore they should NEVER BE TRANSPLANTED!  They take a very long time to regenerate even in their element. If one discovers their growth in a woodlot enjoy their beauty only.

The specie of Lady’s Slipper in my area of Pennsylvania is the Pink lady’s Slipper.  Another name for this flower is Moccasin-Flower. This plant requires very acid soil or bogs to survive. I know of a few local sites. The site where I took these photos was discovered by myself some thirty years ago. The area was around a half acre in size. This recent trip to relocate and photograph these flowers remained approximately the same size of half and acre to maybe three-fourth of an acre. Like I said, DO NOT REMOVE!

  The Yellow Lady’s Slipper is  found in bog areas and mossy swamps. I have, yet, to find any locally. There are a few sites in western Pennsylvania. There are two  sub-species in the Yellow lady’s Slipper.

The Showy Lady’s Slipper  is found in northwestern Pennsylvania in acid bog sites. This special is white with pink.




I took some photos of Canada mayflowers and Fire-Pinks as I searched this evening for the Lady’s Slippers.

Canada Mayflower


Fire Pink


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After we left Jumonville Glenn we proceeded to head northerly towards Cucumber Falls and Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania. The first visit was at the beautiful Cucumber Falls. This waterfall is about thirty feet high. The falls gets the name because the water source is Cucumber Run. Laurie and I walked downstream to see the Yough River. (Pronounced Yawk. This is the common term used to describe the Youghiogheny River.)

Later we visited Ohiopyle to walk the park and watch the rapid waters. We enjoyed just some time setting on a bench and watching the fast waters quickly explode over many rocks.


Some photos of the Youghiogheny River



Railroad bridge




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Braddock’s Monument

This is part three of the Fort Necessity trip from Washington’s attack on the French force at Jumonville Glen, his defeat by the French at Fort Necessity concluding with some information about the English general Edward Braddock.  The French and Indian War lasted many years within Pennsylvania. The Delaware and Shawnee living at, what is now, Kittanning, Pennsylvania would begin launching raids of terror across Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia following the event of Braddock’s defeat.

Braddock’s Road and the marker showing where the remains were found in 1804.


Washington’s humiliating defeat at Fort Necessity had some effects on the various players of this beginning of the French And Indian war. First, the  French began to believe the English wasn’t about to be the obstacle they once believed them to be. Secondly, the various tribes of western Pennsylvania were evaluating these recent results. Most were hoping to remain neutral, but I believe most, also, realized staying out of the war of France and England would be impossible.

The English in 1755 had their best commander within America’s borders. General Edward Braddock was a military man of 45 years of service. His mission in America was to send English forces to attack the French at several forts destroying their presence in the Allegheny region. He would spearhead the attack against the French at Fort Duquesne. (Present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.) He proudly admitted his task would be easily completed. After all, he had 2400 soldiers of the great English army at his disposal. One must realize that, at this time,  England had the most powerful military in the world.

Braddock had a great flaw in character. He was an arrogant man with lots of power and he abused it.  One of the beliefs he had followed with statements once arriving in America dealt with his low opinion with the American militias. At a meeting with Delaware Chief Shingas in attendance went poorly for the general, albeit he didn’t know it and/or he just didn’t care.  He made statements that the Indian forces were no match to the powerful English army. He, also, said no Indian should have ownership of any lands. Shingas was angered! He, also, believed Indian warfare techniques of no concern.

General Braddock began to move northeasterly towards Fort Duquesne. The road had to be widened as he progressed. As he approached to around eight miles of the fort on July 9th, a sudden explosion of musketry and whooping and hollering became everywhere within the depths of the forest. The blood-curling screams of the Indians and shots from the shadows  quickly eroded the English into a mass of dead, dying and wounded men. Others ran in terror in retreat often times throwing their muskets to the ground.

The men in retreat couldn’t be changed. George Washington tried to regain control of the men. Braddock was mortally wounded. Washington had two horses shot out from under him and had four musket balls rip holes in his uniform, but he was untouched. The retreat continued. Braddock eventually died a few days later and was buried on the road so the Indians wouldn’t find and mutilate the body.


Close-up of panel

The battle began with approximately 1460 troops. Causalities were approximately 900. The Indians once they understood their victory began plundering and scalping. If the Indians would have ignored their ways of war and followed the army they would have annihilated the entire force.  Causalities for the French were around 43 men and 27 causalities for the natives.

Most Indian historians believe this rout was the determining event for the Delaware and Shawnee Indians joining allegiance with the French soldiers. Shingas lived in Kit-Han-ne and, no doubt, after this managed to persuade the others of present-day Kittanning, Pennsylvania to ally with the French. Shingas may have participated in the Braddock event as well as others from Kit-Han-Ne. History doesn’t tell us. The battle at Kit-Han-ne happened on September 8th, 1756.

Workers working on Braddock’s Road in 1804 discovered the remains believed to have been the general.  The body was moved and reinterred nearby where the present monument stands.

I can’t help to wonder what the general’s last thoughts were in those few days prior to his death. I wonder if he come off his high horse of arrogance to see the reality of Indian warfare. I guess we will never know.

General John Forbes gained the forks of the rivers from the French n 1758. The fort would be named, Fort Pitt later to be known as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.




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Fort Necessaity

I can’t say with any degree of certainty when I first heard of Fort Necessity, but I know I was only a young fellow. I was captivated to learn of this somewhat local event and to realize that the one and only George Washington was actually involved. I really didn’t have a true grasp of the importance of this time.

One sad reality for me, with hindsight, was the fact as to how little was taught about the French And Indian War in schools. I imagine few hear about this great war in today’s educational system. As in the last entry about Jumonville Glen I will not placing a complete detailed report as to everything of the times. Like I said one can discover more into this subject easily if further interested. There are books galore of this battle and the French and Indian War.

   Laurie and I finally  took time to visit the site I have had in my mind for many, many years.  We hiked around some, too  and had a private picnic lunch towards  noon way back in the woods above the site. Indians, French and English soldiers, probably, have walked exactly where we had our lunch.

Lieutenant Colonel George Washington had discovered a marshy, grassy area and allowed this as a point to work out of. Much fodder could be had for livestock.  The area would prove to be a disaster.

On May 27th, 1754, Indians reported of a French force of soldiers encamped nearby. The young Washington went through the night to encounter them in the following morning. The following morning shots were fired and the French were defeated. the French and Indian War had begun, but I doubt anyone knew just how these few shots would be remembered in history. (This event was listed in the previous entry.)

Washington realized the French would feel a need to counter-attack and removed his men back to the Great Meadows. Here earthenware trenches would be made and a quickly-erected fort of necessity was built. Hence the name of Fort Neccessity! Additional men came to the site in early to mid-June giving Washington command of over 400 men.

The fort was a small circular fort erected hastily by placing logs upright with points on the top. A small building was erected within the fort to hold gun powder, rum and other perishables. The interior circumference of this fort was about 155 feet and would only, at best, protect about fifty soldiers. Earthwork trenches, outside the fort, were built to allow soldiers to be concealed behind the ground but they were only about two feet high because the water table was reached by digging deeper.

Improvements were made at the fort whenever realizations were spotted and the wait began. The troops were exhausted and lacked a lot of food.

Washington’s force

would be outnumbered something like three to one. Incessant rains began  pounding the area. There was sickness, desertions and injuries further lessening the number of fighting soldiers, too. The site of the fort now was becoming a muddy, swamp-like bog creating many problems within. Gun powder was becoming wet making firearms impossible to shoot. Seneca Half King Tanacharison knew the fight here was a foolish venture thus he and his warriors slipped away.

  The attack from the French and allied Indians came into reality on July 3rd, 1754 as volleys were fired and positioning began. The French and allied  Indians began shooting cattle, horses and dogs, as well as, any troop  when an opportune shot arose. As time moved along, Washington realized about a third of his troop were causalities. Others became drunk because they believed their time was short. They broke into the stores of rum. Washington knew he was in a dire position. Indians would want to tear them apart once this battle reached a certain point of despair. He needed to sue for peace with the French.

Later, however, that evening the French offered discussion of a surrender and Washington agreed. A serious problem erupted  concerning the signing of the papers, but the extent would not be realized immediately. Those papers for surrender announced Washington had assassinated the French officer at Jumonville Glen. The issue came to be due to translations and the interpreter not understanding the French language as needed, but further questions came to be later on this issue. Once this was realized, and after Washington had signed the paper, the young officer denied that statement. The French would use the letter as a propaganda tool against the English.

Washington and his remaining men left the Great Meadows free on July 4th, 1754.  English General Edward Braddock would be annihilated  near this site the following July in 1755.



George Washington



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Area of French encampment. This would be the view Washington would have seen upon his approach.

Western Pennsylvania is rich with history. This fact is especially accurate when one considers some eighteenth century events. Much was happening and changing beginning within the 1740 time span. A British statesman named Horace Walpole would describe an event of the time as “The volley fired by a young Virginian in the backwoods of America set the world on fire.”  That young Virginian was a man named, George Washington.

My story will be brief, but I urge anyone interested in learning all aspects of these times to further their minds. There is a treasure of information available for details.

The French began descending the Allegheny River Watershed coming south out of Canada. Their goal was to establish claim to the valuable lands west of the Allegheny Mountain range of Pennsylvania. Their secondary goal was to obtain as many Indian tribes as allies as they could. They wanted their trade with them to outgrow English trade. French officer Celeron placed messages of ownership in lead plates at various locations in 1749. (Indians would remove many of these to melt down the lead for musket balls.) Soon French forts were built at strategic locations including a fort at the forks of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers.  The fort’s name was Fort Duquesne. Today this site is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The Indians wanted the trade with the whites, but they did not want any established settlements. The Pennsylvania Colony believed these lands to be their lands as did Virginia. The English wanted these lands for their lands, as well.  Any potential problems here?


The French tried to escape between these rocks only to met the warriors.

Out of Virginia the Governor Robert Dinwiddie sent a twenty-one year old named George Washington  to ascend the Allegheny River area to deliver a letter to the French. The letter’s intent was to convince the French to abandon their plans. This was so important that this mission was in the winter of 1753….not the best time to be maneuvering the wilds of western Pennsylvania.

The plan failed as the French politely rejected the orders and Washington returned to Williamsburg, Virginia with their reply.

Lieutenant Colonel George Washington returned  to the area in 1754 to evict the French out of Fort Duquesne. He had a force of men with him as he established a site at what was the Great Meadows. This site had the grasses needed to help feed the livestock.

Indians reported to Washington of a French force nearby. Washington and some men along with some allied Seneca Indians under their leadership of the Half-King, Chief Tanacharison moved in to encounter the French. The French were at a location with a huge rocky outcrop that would be known as Jumonville Glen.  There was no war at this time only some friction so the French officer named Jumonville didn’t place any sentries as Washington moved in on the morning of May 28, 1754. He came to the encampment from the south. Another officer, Captain Stephen moved into position above the rock outcrop and the ten or so Indians moved in from the north.

Suddenly a shot rang out. Nobody knows who fired that first shot, but an exchange of musketry exploded. The entire skirmish lasted for about fifteen minutes in total. The French tried to escape to the north and met up with the Seneca. Jumonville shouted for a cease-fire which happened. He, while reading in French, began to convey their orders were simply to deliver a diplomacy letter to the English demanding they leave the area. However, Tanacharison who understood French stopped the reading with a tomahawk to the officers head killing him instantly.  A report states he washed his hands in the officer’s brain. The Indians began killing and scalping the wounded and prisoners. Washington had a rough time stopping the Indians from killing the surviving troops. One French soldier escaped to Fort Duquesne. The Seneca chief was getting the war he so desired.

The shot, whomever fired it, would be the one responsible for the beginning of the French and Indian war in America. There would be no turning the tides of war at this point.

The site was named after the French leader who died on site.

The French view towards Washington’s approach.

The next entry here will be of Fort Necessity and Washington’s first defeat.

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So Much Going ON!


The painting



Flier for Ford City Library display.



Display at Crooked Creek event.

To say my weekend was full might be an understatement. First, my cousin called me Thursday to tell me of the passing of a dear friend. His name was Vearl “Pete” Lookabaugh. We had been friends for some forty years. He was quite a friend and I will miss him. Some issues with funeral times occurred. Friday evening I was to be at the Outdoor Discovery Center (ODC) at Crooked Creek Park. Vearl’s funeral service was only six o’clock to eight Friday evening. I would not be able to attend. A Saturday committal service was to be ten to eleven. I had commitments on Saturday, too. I needed to do some adjustments.

So, Friday I needed to remove some of my historical paintings from the Ford City Library and set them up with others at the ODC building. (The   paintings had been at the library for about a month.) After setting them up and enjoying a BBQ meal from the group I was to speak to my talking engagement began. The subject matter for my talk was through their request. the topic was about the attack at the Indian village of Kit-Han-Ne. (Present-day, Kittanning, Pennsylvania.) The group had plenty of comments and questions and I didn’t get home until after nine.

The following morning I was to be at the Armstrong County historical Society’s museum to be available for a Civil war encampment event. My task was to bring in my original acrylic painting called, “THE WHEATFIELD-WHIRLPOOL OF DEATH.”  A stated above I needed some adjustments with my time so I delivered the paining and easel to the museum early on Saturday morning before going to the library.

This painting depicts the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry at the battle of Gettysburg called the Wheatfield. (Click on historical for my blogs and you can get some details of this battle event.)

Saturday morning continued with going to the St. Michael’s Lutheran Church where the service was to be held. Fortunately, my friend had been relocated for additional viewing.to this church. The funeral service didn’t tell this information to me. I stopped by giving my respect to the family and saying goodbye. I made it to the museum around noon or so.

   The museum encampment was a success. Both days had a stream of interested patrons. I spent much time in the museum with the Indian Room. this room is my baby so to speak. I really enjoyed talking with the people educating them about events of our native Indians. I spent some time talking with others about the painting.

The members of the 62nd living history group did an excellent job setting up the Civil war Room. If this is something you are interested in please make plans to visit the museum soon. the museum is opened on a limited time so call first.

To contact the museum call: 724-548-5707. Address is: P.O. Box 735, 300 North McKean Street, Kittanning, PA 16201.

To find out more about the local to Armstrong County area, 62nd Pennsylvania living historians group call Bob “Slim” Bowser at 724-545-1330.

My ancester, Henry Blystone. He marched under General Sherman.












Civil War Room


Native American Room


Document Room features a letter penned by George Washington.



Military Room



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Keeper Of The Stars

Keeper Of The Stars

Well it is complete. My fourth CD called, “KEEPER OF THE STARS” has finally been arranged and placed onto a CD. I have about  nine months of time utilized for this endeavor. The first step was to find songs to place onto the CD. They need to be songs that my feeble voice can succeed with. I breathe very shallow so my lung capacity isn’t the best. Add asthma issues so singing can be challenging at times due to running out of air at the end of a line.

Once the songs were decided upon,  I needed to find out what key works best for that particular song.  I typed the words and determined the chords and plan an arrangement. Then the recording process begins, track by track!

The digital recorder I have has seven individual tracks. I then take various tracks and bounce them onto two tracks. I, at this time, can add more tracks. However, I will need to erase the bounced tracks. This isn’t the ideal way to record, but that is my current capabilities. Sometimes I wish I still had an erased track to increase volume if needed.  Like I said this isn’t the very best way to record. I have had songs with as many as fifteen individual tracks.

Eventually, the tracks have been completed and bounced onto a special track used to do the final CD. My sister Ruthie Smail Wolfe did the CD designs for me. She did a great job and my friend, mark Hamilton did some steel work on seven of the fourteen songs. Mark is a great friend and fellow musician. I did all vocals and all other instruments…guitars, bass guitar, banjo, keyboards…

This CD is available for a donation of ten dollars for pick up. Add five dollars for shipping if I need to mail. Send check to: Larry A. Smail, 481 Butler Road Kittanning, PA 16201.

On a sad note and after many hours I lost two songs and had recorder issues while trying to redo. Those songs were, Wagon Wheel and Lord Send Me Your Angels.

The songs on this CD include:

  1. Blue Ridge Mountain Blues -This is an old bluegrass number and I do play the 5-string banjo on this song. I used an upbeat arrangement style closer to the John Fogerty arrangement. Fogerty was of the Creedence Clearwater Revival days. he, later, was the band Blue Ridge Rangers where he did all instruments and vocals.
  2.  Keeper Of The Stars– Sung by Tracey Byrd. Laurie, my wife, liked the words and requested I do the song.
  3.  How’s The World Treating You was recorded by many over the years. James Taylor and Alison Kraus may have been the most recent duet to record the song.
  4. Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye has been recorded by many singers over the last decades.
  5.  A Way To Survive was recorded by Ray Price. I loved how is voice worked and I worked to copy his style.
  6. Here Comes My Baby Back Again was written and recorded by Dottie West back in the sixties.
  7. The Little Girl was recorded by John Michael Montgomery and has a powerful Christian message at the end.
  8.  Peaceful Easy Feelings was recorded in the seventies by the Eagles. I worked a long time perfecting the instrumental.
  9.  Life Turned Her That Way was recorded by Ricky Van Shelton.
  10. Some Call It Heaven came about in an interesting way. A friend wanted to do the song for her future. I did the musical tracks in the key of F. She couldn’t do it in that key so I tried it and used it. I redid the song for her in the key of E.
  11. Tulsa Time was recorded by many singers. Don Williams and Eric Clapton made it famous.
  12. Help Me Make It through the Night was another song requested by my wife.
  13.  All I Have To Offer You Is Me was recorded by Charley Pride.
  14.  Take Your Memory With You was recorded by Vince Gill.

The other three CDS are: Songs For My Mother; No Rhyme Or Reason and I Believe. (Gospel music)


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I heard the first gobble at twenty-minutes after five this morning, but the bird was far off.  At 5:45 A.M. I decided to move towards the gobbler to see where he was gobbling. I suspected he may be across a road and Cherry Run for I had been fooled before at this exact place. The sound seems to carry and distort. Well, to not write a lot, the bird may have been on my side of the hill, but very low or he may have been low across the above-mentioned hollow. Regardless, I would cross the creek and try to find him. I wonder if any birds sounded off after I moved out of the original listening point. I guess I’ll never know.

Eventually, I reached the top of this hill calling trying to locate the bird. I received an answer and moved close before setting up to call. He liked my calls and moved closer to about eighty to a hundred yards.  He went quiet and after waiting some time I checked things out. This woodlands was very open and I believe the gobbler moved to a vantage point to see the mysterious hen (Me) and after a time walked off. Gobblers use their keen eyesight well. I believe the bird became suspicious after not seeing the source of the hen calling and departed. Remember, I stated the woods was very open. I heard some jakes a few hundred yards to my left on the next hill.

Fall-like colors of spring.

I walked to the jeep and deciding what to do  for time was getting short.

I drove a couple of miles south and walked to the top of a hill where a right-a-way cuts across the countryside. The time was almost ten o’clock. My  call received an answer and I moved closer and set up. The gobbler was across a small tributary on the opposite side  of this hill. I heard hen chatter  off to my right. A second gobbler began gobbling to my left.

The second gobbler came in behind me and at about fifteen feet I just couldn’t align the sights because as to how I was leaning in an awkward position. The turkey became suspicious at the movement and moved off. I could have shot the bird with a shotgun pattern, but I let him go. Remember, the other gobbler was moving too.

I began hammering on the call and the gobbler became excited. The gobbler went quiet.

In moments the full fanned tail appeared. The gobbler was coming in and fast. I leveled the shotgun and when a clear shot visualized the boom of the shotgun disturbed the silence.

I immediately realized this bird was bigger than last week’s kill. I weighed him at home and he was twenty-one and a half pounds. The broom-like beard was over ten inches and each spur was one inch long.

One of several deer I had seen these last two hunts.

I tagged him and off I went back towards the jeep. I felt blessed to witness the beauty of the spring woods and to top it all off with a nice gobbler.

I stopped by to see the landowner for I saw his car on site. I couldn’t talk him in to butchering the gobbler. The task had to be by me again.

I carried a tripod to set up the camera with delayed timer.








Dwarf Ginseng




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The sneezing was inevitable. It happens every year. However, most of the morning was sneeze-free.

I found the pre-dawn venture along a township road to be pleasurable. I could hear the Spring Peepers peeping and the bubbling tributary as I walked along the calm and cool morning. After a jaunt of approximately 1200 feet I crossed that stream and began the trek uphill to listen for gobblers. I have taken around twelve birds, both spring and fall,  from this very place I was heading. Thoughts began crossing my brainwaves. Was a nearby timbering operation going to effect gobbling? Would that same issue help keep hunters coming in from that direction?

I sat down to await the morning events while listening to the growing sounds of the warblers and other birds. they were happy this foggy morning. Would the gobblers be happy? Apparently not!

I failed to hear any birds at all. After six and I moved along the ridge and called in an area where I have often been successful and getting response. I heard him way across a big basin. Off I went. As I moved diagonally downhill I crossed a right-of-way and called again. he answered.

Eventually, I found myself along a bench where I had bagged a tom about six years ago. I called and he answered and was close. I believed he may have still been on the roost, but I set up and called again. Gil-obble was the reply. he would only answer my calls for I allowed much silence between calls. two geese flew over and he answered them.  He ceased answering my calls and I decided to allow the bird some time and exited the area and went uphill to search for Morel Mushrooms.  He never called again and I moved back the way I came to try to stir up another bird with the idea of returning later in the morning.

I was closing back to the original calling site when I could hear a lot of commotion down over. the farmer, apparently, had some cows out of the fence. I could hear bellowing cattle, ATV  and two voices hollering. I moved into the woods and received no calling back to my calls. Did the commotion have him move on and deeper into this woods half of which is posted and timbered?  I set up and called and waited when I could hear some hen talk above me. I waited and watched and assumed it to be of another hunter. For safety sake I moved on.

   I returned to the jeep a little after eleven o’clock wondering what to do with the next hunt.

I enjoyed the morning for the woods appeared so fresh, clean and new.                                                                

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Lots To Do


I haven’t hunted since last Monday when I bagged a nice gobbler.  I had plenty of things to do, so I elected to wait for some time to pursue filling my second spring gobbler tag. Some of the tasks at hand were to complete my fourth CD. I was to work on a painting that is close to being done. However, I failed to accomplish these goals. I had some issues with the digital recorder causing the loss of two songs. That was very frustrating, but even more frustrating were the many hours redoing the one song only to have the recorded stop. These facts caused me to rethink the CD song amounts. There will now be only fourteen songs on this CD…so there!

Also, I had to do music at two places. However, I did spend some time in the woods this past Thursday. I was, and am, still hoping to discover a mess of morel mushrooms. I haven’t had any success to date.

As one might expect of me I did do a lot of photography mainly with wildflowers. I take photos every year of those beautiful species.

Virginia Bluebells


Wild Geranium


Golden Ragwort


Sweet William


Greek Valerian


Yellow Violet


Mayapple (No blossoms yet.)


Old stomping grounds




Purple Trillium


Rue Anemone


White Trillium


Spring Beauty


Dutchman’s Breeches


Blue Violet


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