Archive for the ‘Historical’ Category

A Hint Of Autumn

Wild Turkey Breast Feather

After enduring some hot and muggy days I found the change of autumn-like mornings refreshing. With the cool and crisp change I left the house before sunrise heading to explore a Butler County property to see what I could find.

My planning was spot-on as I arrived at the time I had hoped for…dawn. The woodlands were bright enough to see, ut the sun had yet to get u and over the eastern hills.

The exploration had begun. The first sighting of wildlife was a doe and her fawn. Later I would watch two turkeys flush off the roost. Later, as I circled back around, I would talk some turkey talk with one of the birds. On the back side of this hill I spooked more turkeys feeding in the underbrush,

I came upon posted lands and returned to the road and walked an old road on the opposite side. here I saw a small buck. I noticed my first buck rubs during this walk.

An old spring.

Old springs are few and far between in these days. Over the years I have seen many closed down by the state. because they didn’t meet with the standards set forth by some “expert-in-their -field.” The interesting fact in most cases people were using them for years with no issue.

Red squirrels have been feasting on spruce cones.

One area had many mature spruce trees. As I walked I could hear the four-to five cones falling through the limbs. One could hear these cones falling for a long distance. The Red Squirrels were eating these cones. The photo shows a pile of cone parts placed by the squirrels.

Foxtails backlit from the morning sun.

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My original painting of the “WHEATFIELD-WHIRLPOOL OF DEATH” hangs in the Armstrong County Historical and Genealogical Society Museum in Kittanning, Pennsylvania. I am proud of that fact. The photo above is a side view of the painting. I couldn’t get a straight-on photo due to lighting glare. This battle was part of the July 1863 Gettysburg Campaign.

Note the Maltese Cross Banner being kept high above the soldiers by the private on the horse. These banners had a purpose in battle. Officers watching the heat of conflict from afar could locate individual groups of soldiers. The officer could adjust battlefield armies by ordering troops to move as needed to repair holes in the flanks and such.

The 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry played an important part of that battle suffering heavy causalities. This painting depicts those brave men of the 62nd. Men from Armstrong County and elsewhere were in this regiment.

The photo shown below is that original banner of the 62nd depicted in the Wheatfield…painting. What an honor ro have the flag/ banner on display where the painting hangs. The original has a number of bullet holes throughout that flag.

The original banner of the 62nd Pennsylvania from the Wheatfield Battle at Gettysburg.

A local group of living historians of the 62nd PVI were present at the museum recently and I was asked to attend due to the painting being on display. These men and women are extremely dedicated at maintaining the integrity with honor for the men of the 62nd. I am honored to know many as friends.

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Kune’s Hunting Camp

The Kune’s Hunting Camp was built in the early 1900 time frame. However, the way this camp was constructed is what makes this story very interesting. The builders of the day utilized two big boulders for two of the sides of this camp. The men brought in cement blocks and bricks to place on the two open ends followed by wood roofing.

The camp was used until 1950 when it was abandoned due to the government project listed in the previous entry about the bunkers concerning nuclear jet engines. Other camps of the area were abandoned, also.

The travel to the camp is about a mile long coming from the Quehanna Highway. A sign states of Kune’s Camp Road, but the road has been absorbed into nature allowing for a nice trail to follow.

the camp is in Clearfield County.

Note the tree growing up from the room.

Inside the camp.

Other huge boulders of the site.

Our last day on this adventure saw falling temperatures and falling snow.

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Someone walking through sections of the Quehanna Wild Area stumbling on this might think they are being filmed for a horror movie. They might hope to not find any bodies around this place. The story of what these sites were is an interesting one. There are two individual sites with separate roads to each.

Way back in the early 1950 era, President Dwight Eisenhower and congress decided on a program called, “Atoms for Peace.” The area needed to for the government consisted of many acres in the wilderness of the Quehanna Wild Area. The goal was to create nuclear-powered jet engines. The idea was to utilize such a concept so fighter jets would not have a need to return from military events for refueling.

Hunting camps were evicted. (Watch for the coming entry on the Kunes Hunting Camp.) Many acres, in Cameron County, Pennsylvania, were obtained for this project. Roads were paved into the wilderness. The years this project operated were between 1955 and 1960. Remember, only ten years in the past the atom bombs stopped World war II. the nuclear race was in full gear by now.

In 1960 the project abandoned the nuclear jet-engine study.

Today, the paved roads are growing over as well as the areas around the bunkers and other cement remnants of those days. Many birch and aspen trees cover the property today, as well. In face we saw a Ruffed Grouse launch from these thickets. This is perfect grouse habitat now. Nature is reabsorbing the lands.

Many Elk rubs were discovered in the area. A pond yielded a number of Red-spotted Newts.

Red-spotted Newt

At some time, bat boxes were placed within these bunkers to encourage bat populations. I am unsure of any great success.

One pleasant surprise for us was the Trailing Arbutus flowers. This is a low-growing plant with sweet-smelling flowers of beauty.

Trailing Arbutus

Elk rubs. Many are over six feet high.

One of the roads leading to the bunker sites.

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I had been past the remains of the dam on several occasions, but for whatever reasons, I couldn’t stop. This morning, Laurie and I were going to visit the site of the Austin community in Potter County, Pennsylvania.

The original dam was built in 1909 after a local paper mill owner realized he hadn’t enough water to operate his paper mill just north of the community during especially dry seasons. The dam was constructed across the Freeman Run Valley to solve that problem. The concrete dam was fifty feet high, five-hundred and forty feet long across the valley and twenty feet thick. Plans called for a thirty feet thick structure. The twenty feet thick dam was constructed to help save costs. Problems were quickly discovered.

The problems of cracking concrete was spoken of natural due to the concrete curing process.

South of the dam was a community of about three-thousand people. The area was known as Austin.

In September of 1911, heavy raids had been occurring and the dam was reaching a crisis level. A young girl reported within the community the warning of failure. many people responded, but others didn’t for whatever reason. It is quite probable not everyone heard the warning.

On the thirtieth of the month the dam failed allowing a wall of water to explode its way south smashing into Austin, Pennsylvania. Seventy-eight people perished.

There is an Austin Dam memorial Park present at the dam’s site.

Old photo of the dam prior to the collapse.

A new dam was built in 1942 and it failed also. The photos here are of the original dam site.

I discovered some beauty above the site with the wildflowers of the Marsh marigold and trout Lily.

Marsh Marigold

Trout Lily (Other names are the Dog-tooth Lily and Adder’s Lily.)

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By Larry A. Smail

In recent years I have been often hearing politicians, media and Hollywood elitists throwing the words, Hitler and/or NAZI against their political enemies. These words are aimed towards any person or group not in alignment with socialistic and progressive ideals. I feel confident of, possibly, as many as ninety-nine percent of these people proclaiming the words know little about either the man or the party. I hope to be brief and explain some facts of the NAZI party.

NAZI stands for the National Socialist German Worker’s Party. Note the second word used in the definition… Socialist!  The NAZI party was a socialist group. The party was organized in the 1920-time frame initially. The man, Adolph Hitler would be a leader. The years following World war 1 were difficult years for Germany. I guess, one could say the times were ripe for evil to enter into their government. remember, the Great Depression had circumvented the world causing further difficulties to the German people.

Upon the death of Germany’s President Hindenburg in 1934, Hitler moved from his 1933 position of  Chancellor to dictator of Germany. (A chancellor is a chief administrator or executive officer.) However, Hitler was already involved with the troubles in Germany prior to becoming the dictator or the Fuhrer (The term Fuhrer by definition may include such words as; leader. dictator, pharaoh, guide and tyrant.). In January 1933, a suspicious fire erupted at the capitol building of Germany known as the Reichstag. Hitler blamed the communists; however, many historians believe Hitler and his NAZI party instigated the fire to cause further chaos within Germany. Socialists and /or communists have as part of their playbook to never allow a crisis to go to waste. If no crisis is present, they create one to cause chaos and/ or anarchy among the people to help hasten their agenda goals.

Hitler reacted immediately and placed the Reichstag Fire Act into existence. This decree occurred in February 1933 and this act began to disrupt the rights of the German people. In March 1933 Hitler began gun confiscation acts. Those not abiding were viewed as enemies of the state and executed or sent to camps. Only members of the SS and SA could use firearms. More on the SA and SS group below. Also, in March 1933, the first concentration camps were starting to be constructed. The SS, or the Protective Echelon, was founded in 1925.

NOTE ON REICHSTAG FIRE DECREE: This decree suspended the German Constitution. Restrictions to the right of assembly, freedom of the press and speech became reality. All restraints of police investigations were removed; political organizations were dissolved., and state and local laws were overruled as needed by the nationalist government. People were now arrested and charged without any evidence as needed.

NOTE: I read a history book of the Germans in France during the war. the Germans would enter a community and gather the gun ownership records. They would give a timetable to turn in any registered guns before going to the homes of the French. Upon finding any guns the Frenchman would be dragged into the streets and usually executed. Just prior to the war the French government created gun registrations so the the Germans knew which homes had firearms.

NOTE: In 1933, Deputy Fuhrer, Rudolf Hess ordered a German in America to form a society in New York City to work at spreading socialism throughout the United States. A NAZI party was formed with many Americans becoming part of the group.

How did the powers in Germany come to existence? As stated, the NAZI party was in position within government. For Hitler to gain momentum for his Third Reich he needed people to do his desires and work within the state. He utilized a group formed in 1921, known to us as the Brownshirts (SA) due to their brown-colored uniforms. Over two million members were grouped by early 1930. They were made up of disgruntled workers and the like who had been struggling since World War I and the depression issues of the times. The abbreviation for their name was the SA. Other names used for these people were the Assault Division, Storm Units and Storm Troopers.

The Brownshirts would be a huge part of the NAZI party. Their techniques were to disrupt and shout down speakers at meetings, cause violence and riots, and make use of intimidations, fires, beatings, and murders. Later they would burn buildings especially of the blamed Jewish people. These people were creating crisis among the German populations. Notice the resemblance to groups of recent times, such as, ANTIFA and Black Lives Matter. Sad times!

Such activities, as stated, come straight from the socialist/ communist playbook. They first need to create chaos, or a crisis, leading to, possible, anarchy and then complete control. The Brownshirts were used as security at pro-NAZI rallies. The Brownshirts were anti-capitalist socialists. They were against communism which is interesting since socialism is a close relation to communism ideals in many ways. I have referred to socialism as communist-light. The German police department for various reasons seemed unable or fearful against the NAZI party and Brownshirts. Can you say, “defund the police?” Sound familiar? History always repeats itself.

As stated above, the socialism playbook  states of the importance of creating a crisis to gain a foothold. The Coronavirus crisis has given socialism much growth here in America like I would not have imagined a few years ago. Germany had a crisis with the chaos from the burning capitol event and the Brownshirt NAZI activities.

So, Germany was seeing chaos, they had a leader of evil in place, a group of power further creating chaos and anarchy. The time was ripe to move towards the next steps of socialism and that would be the dismantling of Germany’s rights. (See Reichstag Fire Act notes above.) Adolf Hitler, and his minions, needed more scapegoats to blame Germany’s woes. the Jews, and others, filled that need.

In 1938 the Brownshirts destroyed and burned Jewish businesses to what became known as the Kristallnacht or the “Night of Broken Glass.”  Jewish businesses were boycotted. Jews were rounded up. Jews were beaten and killed. the Jews began to be rounded up. They would be required to have their papers and wear a Yellow Star of David to indicate they were Jews. (The Book of Revelation records of a future “MARK” of some kind in order to buy or sell. That mark will, also, be an indication of complete loyalty to the powers of the time.)

The Brownshirts, interestingly, would eventually begin to lose favor as Hitler handed over Germany to the SS and Gestapo agencies. The SS was founded in 1925 and means the “Protective Echelon.”  They were anti-Semites and extreme German nationalists. The Gestapo were the “Secret Police.” The SS would become Hitler’s personal security force. They, also, were involved in many aspects of the war effort. They were a major part in the concentration camp events. Interestingly, Brownshirts who were deemed not loyal enough to the NAZI party or were too socialistic were arrested and executed. So, the socialist party was executing those who were leaning towards communism. The SS became the power in 1938. The SS are well known for their brutality and war would be just ahead for Europe. Germany invaded the Rhineland and Poland. The Brownshirts existed until 1945 despite the changes in Germany.

My father told me as a member of the Military Police (MP) some interesting stories of imprisoned Germans. He told me of the differences between the regular German soldiers and the SS. Some of the regular soldiers became friendly, but the SS would kill you if ever an opportunity occurred to do so. Such was their training and indoctrinations. Towards the war’s end those being brought in as prisoners were kids. Many were not imprisoned, and he said they would become pests at times wanting to go on jeep rides.

During his time of power, Hitler promised universal Healthcare. However, his version committed atrocities. The NAZI party began to eliminate or execute any person deemed unnecessary to the state. The elderly, those with dementia, people suffering with mental illnesses, incurable, diseases, retardation, criminals, or social dependent people were executed. Soviet Vladimir Lenin, the well-known socialist/ communist, declared socialized medicine was the key to obtaining a socialist state. Such people listed above along with Jews and gypsies, and others, might become victims  and experimented on. These people and blacks received forced sterilization at times. Human body parts were harvested, much as Planned Parenthood has done recently with baby parts. Are you seeing the similarities yet?

Hitler and the NAZI party decided what books could be read and what books had to be destroyed. Hitler decided on what art could be viewed and what art was to be destroyed. Germany would hire artists to do propaganda paintings. They took over the media and press. All newspapers and radio stations, and such, would be run by the state. No free speech or free press. Are you still seeing similarities in America? Freedom loving and Constitutional believing Americans need to be very concerned over what is happening, yet we are helpless to do much to thwart the coming events.

Indoctrination within the educational system of Germany brainwashed the youth to the point where they would turn in their parents and siblings to the Gestapo. This would be if any anti-Hitler, or anti-NAZI, and other such words were spoken and heard. They learned the ways of socialism and true racism against any populace of a non-Aryan race.

The NAZI Party used men and women of perfection in their minds to breed to create a more-perfect race.

Another step was Hitler’s final solution known as the Holocaust. The goal was to eliminate all the Jewish people.

The NAZI Party experimented with drugs to give the German soldiers increase their fighting abilities and to decrease the need to sleep. Hitler, himself, took drugs to help sleep and combat other issues. Hitler was asleep during the D-Day Invasion and his officers were afraid to wake him from his drug-induced sleep.

Many of those in the NAZI party dabbled in the occult and paganism. Hitler himself hated Christianity and pushed for social Darwinism. Many Germans followed the writings of Charles Darwin accepting his words of inferior races as gospel. This fact made for the execution of people they deemed unworthy or inferior in the evolution scale much easier to accept by the populace.

Thankfully, the war with Hitler and the NAZI party ended in 1945. Millions had died during this war. Those aged American veterans of today would be appalled as to what is happening in America for, they fought against socialism and now the ideal is appearing everywhere.

I would hope those prone to spew forth such language and accusations labeling Christians and others the NAZI word, would reassess their thinking upon studying the truth of the NAZI Party.

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Wartime Rationing

Rationing Books with rationing stamps

Yesterday, I found some items of interest to me. As someone who enjoys history the find was a good one. The items were two World War II era rationing books and some rationing stamps. I don’t imagine many of these exist across this country. the books were dated in 1942 and had my mother’s signature on them. (Ruth E. Yount) One had my grandfather’s signature. (James Edward Yount)

My mother’s most vivid memory was the peoples’ reaction and parade while in Vandergrift, Pennsylvania at the war’s end. She would have been 16 years of age. Interestingly, her future husband was in Europe at the time and I would be born ten years after the war. I am old!

Also, another find was a photo of the R.M.S Queen Elizabeth. (I had found another photo of this ship in the past.)This was the largest ocean liner of the time and my dad went to England aboard this ship with many, many other soldiers. One story of interest he told me concerned this ship. German propaganda machine was placing statements the liner had been sunk by a German U-boat.


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Those who know me understand how proud I was of my father. (Allen K. Smail 1923-1999) Last week I obtained some papers from his school days and his military time in Europe. The above paper is his discharge document. He traveled over a lot of the war areas including being part in the Battle of the Bulge. I wish I would have written down some of the stories. I wish I would have asked more for I do not have a lot information from those years against the Germans. I know he was watching, as part of the military police (MP) a gasoline depot in Belgium with orders to blow it up in the case of the Germans getting through. He said he could hear the war sounds in the distance. He only had a 45 automatic with seven rounds at that time. I can’t imagine the fear one would have in such a situation. His uniform and MP arm band are currently at the Armstrong County Historical Museum in Kittanning, Pennsylvania.

Allen K. Smail -Uniform

My dad had a German Shepherd named Wolf as his companion. Notice in the document where he was a dog trainer.

The document below is of interest to me. My dad had perfect attendance at the Elderton High School. He was awarded this document and a small gold colored trophy for his efforts. He graduated in 1941 as valedictorian. His son didn’t fare as well. I did well in school, actually in my junior year with an average leading to third place. I even made the Honor Society. Who would have “thunked” it! My senior year I slipped.

My father’s son liked to hunt and fish a lot during my school years. Ha Ha

Eleven years of perfect attendance.

My father’s 1941 valedictorian speech from Elderton High SChool

The above photo shows my father’s valedictorian Speech from 1941. The speech has unbelievably words of a prophetic nature, both, in reality and in Biblical prophecy. Yes, I am proud to be his son.

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The Drake Log cabin in Apollo, Built around 1816.

Recently, my wife, Laurie, happened on a write-up in our local newspaper. An event was mentioned. That event was the Armstrong County 4-H Historical Adventure. I called to get information. We decided to participate.

This event was from August 7 through to the tenth. Twenty sites were to be discovered in our travels.

St. Patrick’s Episcopalian Church in East Brady. Built in 1867.

The 4-H supplied a clue sheet f the various sites of the county. I formalized  the routes to travel. here is where my knowledge of the county roads really paid off. I traveled many back roads looking for wildlife, as well. (By the way, we saw two bucks, doe and fawns and a flock of gobblers.) 

Every locale on the clue sheet featured a 12X 12 white cement block with the emblem: 4-H painted on it. Underneath each block was a plastic bag with placards of that particular site. The laminate placards had information of the site. The 4-H people supplied a lanyard to place each placard.

I took plenty of photos of the two day adventure for us. We finished up prior to noon on Saturday  the 8th.

Some photos are included here.

Coaling Tower used to fill railroad cars with coal. Used 1930 -1957.












John Ford Statue in Ford City. FC was founded in 1887.


Armstrong County Memorial Wall


My ancestors died in 1863 during the Civil War.







Grace Presbyterian Church in Kittanning. Built in 1910.


Marshall House in Dayton. Built in 1868.

Grist mill stones in Dayton









Old McCain House, currently, the Armstrong County Museum. Built in 1842.


Nellie Bly Marker in Cochran’s Mill.


Lock #8 Dam. Built between 1928-1931.

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Laurie and I have had a lot of things to do these last two days. last evening, February 25, we and two friends enjoyed an evening out to see the movie, “CALL OF THE WILD.” We all enjoyed the movie and were amazed at how far the technology with computerized  imagery have come. Later, at our home, we enjoyed Laurie’s carrot cake and tea.

Today, February 26, we and two other friends visited the Carnegie Science Center to especially view the exhibition of the,  “Mummies of the World.” I was a little disappointed to learn photography was not permitted within the actual exhibit. the mummy collection on display featured the long-ago Egyptian mummies along with pets. However, they had mummified bodies reaching only a couple of hundred years ago. Some of the mummies wre created through a mummification process while others had become that way through natural processes due to perfect conditions retarding the decomposition.

The Forks of the Rivers. The site of Fort Pitt in 1758.

The exhibition was very interesting, but somewhat eerie. One mummy was created in 1994 by scientists attempting to copy the procedure of Egyptian mummification as close as possible.

We enjoyed spending several hours examining the various hands-on displays. I, particularly, enjoyed the aquariums with fish , reptiles and so forth.

West End Bridge in Pittsburgh

One area was extremely hilarious for the four of us and everybody else. One baby laughed uncontrollable at this site. The site consisted of two cushioned chairs and every time one would raise up and set down loud fart-like sounds exploded.

A large miniature railroad was enjoyed.

I took a few other photos of the West End Bridge as well as, the site where Fort Duquesne once stood at the point. The fort was renamed Fort Pitt in 1758 after the French left their fort to the British during the French and Indian War. Afterwards, we visited a separate building where the kids could enjoy many various adventures, such as a miniature zip-line and rock climbing.





Meteorite weighting 746 pounds.


Yellow Perch




One view of Miniature railroad




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