Archive for the ‘Historical’ Category

Nice sunny days were in store for a couple of days so I put the room remodeling project on hold to venture out to old haunts. The one haunt was Cochran’s Mill. This was a community in times past forced to abandon their homes and business. The reason the people of the past had to leave the area was due to the fact of the government building a flood control dam further downstream on the waterways known as Crooked Creek. Many stone foundation remnants are still present throughout the wooded area.

  As a young fellow, my parents and sister and I were present here to see the old Cochran’s Mill bridge  under water. The old bridge would flood annually as the Crooked Creek Dam would hold back water to control flooding in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A new bridge was erected a short time ago and was erected higher than the old bridge. However, this new structure was flooded  with all the rain we have had in recent times. I wanted to visit this area this day. There are two bridges here. One was built new and another repaired in recent years.

As part of this day’s jaunt I elected to walk some of the Baker Trail which runs through the Cochran’s Mill area. One can walk along a steep and high hillside and view the flooding. Here I was fortunate to see a flock of turkeys flying over the watershed. The flock consisted of around twenty birds.

The common ties I have with this area are many. My mother Ruth Yount was raised about a mile or so south of this bridge near a place called locally, Rearick’s Ford. My father, Allen Smail was raised at the present-day Cherry Run intersection.  The Cherry Run Gorge flows between his home and joins Crooked Creek here at Cochran’s Mill. Many relatives lived along this Cherry Run watershed and Crooked Creek. I have fished in these waters many times. My dad and I would gather crayfish here to go and fish for bass.

I can honestly state I have been in every hollow and on every hill from my dad’s homestead to Cochran’s Mill. Today much of this area is posted.

Back in the day a famous writer named Elizabeth Cochran came from this long-gone community. Her per name was Nellie Bly.

Nellie Bly historical marker

I watched two Woodies fly over the waters and heard some Canada geese as well. Later, I ventured down stream some to visit a site named Robb’s Fording.

Cherry Run


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Shooting Rifles


Rain is coming!

Rain was on the way as I settled in the woods to watch a field for deer photos. It was dark, but a hint of illumination could be viewed along the eastern tree line. I had seen some nice buck at this site along with smaller ones. Most of the time I couldn’t use my camera for I was

White Baneberry

hanging onto a flintlock. Any moments would stand a chance to become known to the deer.

I could just see the shape of a deer in the darkness. the animal walked to within twenty yards of me, but the very early conditions failed to make a good visual on this animal. Later, a buck ran across the corner of the field. I never saw this buck again.                       

Around the time of 8:30 I was moving towards the jeep. My next item on the agenda was to do a little shooting. My Remington 760 just had a new scope installed since my old scope went south on me. I couldn’t adjust the crosshairs at all. The gunsmith bore-sighted the scope for me. I shot at fifty yards and the bullet was hitting nineteen inches low. I brought it up to the target.                      

I, also, shot my flintlock rifle, Old Jacob. I missed a shot that shouldn’t had been missed. At fifty yards I shot at a large sheet of paper with a deer I had roughly drawn onto it. Three shots and three round holes in the breadbasket area. I do not see, as well as I had in the past. I can’t deny that fact. The sites are hazy along those long-barreled flintlocks I use. the front site, I find, is hard to see if centered. I believe that is the reason for the misses with this rifle. I need to be conscience and try to learn to center that front site.


Old Fiscus Schoolhouse. My mother attended here in the mid-thirties.

I didn’t get around to shooting the smoothbore, Jeremiah.  I missed two deer with this flintlock, too, after passing some shots at fifteen-twenty yards or so.  The same problem exists with this sighting plane. I cheated and had a fiber optic sight placed on it. Without a rear sight I can fluctuate a slight variance on the horizontal plane.

I, also, shot my Remington 872  rifle. this .22 caliber was shooting well at around thirty yards. I may need to get a squirrel or two.      

Afterwards, I walked around the lower end of Cherry Run reminiscing of things. Many memories of this area from my life. The trout, bass and catfish I had caught. the deer and wildlife I had seen. My father and I spent much time together along this waterways.

Later, just prior to the rain I took a drive to a few areas I hadn’t been too in quite some time. More memories.



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The dark woods trip for the first day of the muzzleloading season yielded the sounds of a Barred Owl. I thought to myself the day was already a good one. A half-mile farther and a Great-Horned Owl began hooting away. I continued walking through the woods quietly and the big bird continued hooting until a crow sounded off. I set a spell waiting for the light to get strong enough to begin sneaking around. Old Jeremiah was anxious to get out for a deer hunt. last year I did not hunt the early season. Jeremiah is my 62 caliber smoothbore flintlock. I try to keep any shots under forty yards since accuracy lessens  after that distance due to the barrel not having any rifling to spin the lead ball.                                

I walked tight along the woods line while walking a field’s edge. two deer were feeding at the other end of the field. Moments later I saw the backs of three feeding deer about sixty yards. I tightened my stance ten feet into the woods to await their movements. The deer slowly fed towards me stopping at thirty yards. I just didn’t feel like shooting. The “hunter mode” had not kicked in! I debated trying to remove my camera from my shoulder bag, but I figured with the sun aiming the bright rays directly upon me that any movements may be amplified allowing the deer to see the movement.

Sure there was plenty of limbs and vegetation to help hide me, but a shot was very much possible. The sun had cleared the treetops and the doe stared at me. I expected she may have seen something shining. After a few moments she turned and entered the woods I was standing in.  I turned left and could see the deer about twenty-eight yards into the woods. The instinct took over and I leveled the flintlock. I could not get a clean shot due to briars and limbs. One deer moved towards me to about eighteen yards. I held off hoping for a clean shot. Funny how the hunter mode happens. I passed up very good and easy shots and only decided to take a deer when no shots were offered. No regrets! Some of my hunting friends will understand!

   I saw a lot of squirrels this day and I searched for some sheepshead mushrooms and found none.  I would see three more deer. By mid-morning I was in my tee-shirt and by 11:15 I was heading home to work in the yard. It was a good day.






*************************************************************************************************************************************************************************On OIL CREEK & TITUSVILLE RAILROAD’S PERRY STREET STATION

  October 13, we rode a train at Titusville, Pennsylvania running along Oil Creek. We spent much time in the open car. We stopped by Drake’s

Laurie with Lori and Allen Leard

oil well site and could see hints of historic oil wells and derricks along the way. Edwin Drake, in 1859, built the first successful oil well in the world here.

Oil creek is a beautiful waterways producing a great fishery. We saw many fly-fishermen as we rode the train along the creek.


We saw a Bald Eagle very close while traveling for the rode. We saw a lot of Mergansers and Canada geese on Oil Creek. I included a few photos of the trip.


Oil Creek


Oil Derricks


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Very near to the community of Brookville, Pennsylvania a very interesting park is located. Today, the area has been worked on through dedicated people. The Jefferson County History center through grant monies has created this park with a parking lot, pavilion, trails and kiosks and such things. (The Jefferson County History Center web site is: http://www.jcjconline.org.)A personal friend, Ken Burkett was instrumental with the development of the area. Ken, an archeologist, has been part of the Jefferson County Museum; Parker’s Landing petroglyph digs; Fishbasket Indian village digs and many others sites.  He has been part of the North Fork Chapter 29 of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology for many years. I am a life member of this group, as well. (The web site for the North Fork  Chapter 29 Society is http://www.northfork29.org.) I applaud Ken and the help for their efforts! (By chance Ken was on the trails as we visited this morning.)

  Scripture Rocks heritage Park is located in woodland surroundings. (Go to http://www.scripturerocks.com for more details.)Many rocks are scattered on the

Death Rock

woodland floor. What defines this historical site are the carvings on  many rocks. At least 65 rocks are inscribed with Bible verses, scripture and some rants from the man who committed to doing these carvings over one hundred years ago.

Laurie and I left early to walk the trails in order to beat the hot, humid afternoon conditions and the predicted heavy rains. We slowly walked the 1.2 miles of trails reading the rocks and pondering as to what possessed the man to carry on with such an undertaking.

The man who did the rock carvings was Douglas Monroe Stahlman born in August 17th of 1861 in Jefferson county, Pennsylvania. He would be a teacher for a time. Later with his wife and family moved to Valprasis, Indiana. He became entangled in a scandal revolving around a religious movement of John Alexander Dowie. This would effect his entire life! The cult was called Dowism named after it’s founder. This sect followed a belief of healing by faith only. The founder declared war on the medical system.

Douglas’ wife would become very ill with blood poisoning and when he returned from being away to find her under a doctor’s care ordered the doctor to leave. The wife would die because of her husband’s desire to use only faith  healing on her because of the cult’s belief. He was jailed and deemed insane. His children would be taken from him.

Mr. Stahlman returned to Brookville in 1908. He was a man who had, and would later, face hardships in his life but he held to his deeply rooted religious convictions.

  Later, he would attempt to court a local woman named Mary Gilbert. Mary did not want to be his wife. This would lead to  carvings on some of rocks expressing some anger and frustrations. He would be inhabiting the woods and even had outdoor prayer services. Mr. Stahlman had a group of followers. He carved words against a Methodist superintendent on some rocks. Rock surfaces with Mary’s name on were marred in an attempt to remove her name.

Other interesting carvings featured big lettering with words such as: LOVE; HEALTH; DEATH; COURAGE: HOPE and others. These carvings were completed in 1912 and 1913.  Some of the lettering goes up to thirty inches in height. At least 165 carved rocks have been found. However, prior to the carvings he had dedicated  over 500 rocks.

Douglas lived on site for sometime as well.

   As time went on Douglas would be again deemed insane and arrested and jailed in 1915. He escaped jail and was later caught again. He spent the remaining years of his life in the Dixmont State Hospital in Allegheny County. He died in 1942.

Was Douglas M. Stalhman insane or just bitter. Probably, both insanity and bitterness would lead to his behavior with the rocks near Brookville.

Scripture Rocks is located south 28 of the Interstate 80 at the Exit 81 exchange.


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At most every turn in America these days the “political correct” mentality rules over the thoughts of far too many. Our American culture has declined in liberty and freedoms because of this way of thinking. Self-thinkers are becoming increasingly rare! One basic right of Americans is the Freedom of Speech found in our Bill of Rights. So many people seek anything they can find to announce another’s word or action as offensive. Lawyers are making fortunes with these people. Today, if one says anything at all chances are someone will be offended. Many years ago while still in school I announced the PC culture, that was beginning to really take hold, would cause the decline in American values. I hate it when I am right!

Today, political correctness has evolved for over fifty years and a cry has been shouted around daily. That cry  of the left is “Separation of Church and State!” Usually the additional word of “unconstitutional” is included somewhere in the cry…you know for added emphasis! These words are screamed constantly with anything pertaining to Christ or God in a public place, and I mean anything. The courts have been used as a tool to complete the left’s attacks. And many courts proudly use their personal agendas to accomplish the goals. Astronomical expenses will occur to fight these challenges. Many succumb rather than spend their precious and limited funds to fight the courts. I believe it will be only a matter of time that the attacks will filter into private displays of anything deemed Christ-like. This is the signs of the times we live. Examples are happening almost daily of such attacks. One recent example pertained to a  teacher wearing a cross necklace. Yes, this is how bad the PC world has become. Commonsense is gone!

Christ-based holidays, even the secular ones, have been attacked constantly. One seldom hears the Christmas songs played during the holiday season if a reference to Christ is included in the lyrics. You’ll happily hear Grandma Got Run Over By A reindeer. (Not me, however.)  The Christmas holiday and Easter have become 90% secular in America culture.

The truth of the phrase, “separation of Church and State” has a completely different origin as we would suspect upon listening to the medias and politicians. Those words actually began many years ago as they were shouted by prominent ministers in the 1500 era of England.  The phrase would enter to the land of America during the 1600 time span as Europeans escaping religious persecution traveled from across the sea! The phrase was used by Bible-oriented ministers and colonists. Yes, the phrase was used by leaders of the Christian faith and not the secular world. This is a far cry from what we are all are lead to believe in today’s left-leaning world. Also, few Americans know the facts and believe the left may be correct because our government court system has permeated this falsehood as well. You have heard about if a lie is told enough the lie will become factual. This has all occurred since World War 2.

Thomas Jefferson is usually given credit for the separation of Church and State. He wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802 to clarify the issue. The ministers were concerned over potential issues of their freedoms from the state. Today, the words in this letter are used against Jefferson’s real response since he actually used the phrase.. The letter reaffirmed Jefferson’s belief on a “wall of separation of Church and State,” however, he was reaffirming the churches freedoms from any meddling into their beliefs from the state. This letter because of the phrase used has been constantly brought up as Jefferson’s belief that anything of Christ not be used in a public place controlled with taxpayer’s expense, etc.

As stated, the history of the “separation of Church and State” phrase goes back much further. The real reason ministers pushed for separation of Church and State began around 390 A.D. under Roman Emperor Theodosius. This man assumed control of the church and decreed Christianity as the official religion of the empire. This would not be a true Christianity! This decree allowed the State (Government) to have control over what could be preached and what the people had to believe. The people would be required to enforce any mandated, religious doctrines of the State.

Anybody who studied the history of Christianity will see the many atrocities committed by the State rulers using the name of Christ as a catalyst for justification. Many Christians, not adhering to the State’s form of Christianity, were tortured; imprisoned and executed by those leaders of the state-controlled Church. And these acts were done by those professing to be Christians, as well. Of course, these people were not true Christians by any means. True Christianity would never commit to such acts of brutality. However, many of the world believe if anyone professes to be a Christian then they must be one and any such actions are permissible as a Christian. WRONG! One poll I have seen claimed 80% of Americans believe they are Christians. I would like to know the reasons these individuals believe they are Christians. I imagine their reasons are wide and varied and not Bible-based.

True Bible-based ministers, in time, demanded that the State separate themselves from the Church. One man and clergyman named Richard Hooker first used the phrase of separation of Church and State.

King Henry VIII started the Anglican Church upon wanting to get divorced. His new church would allow the divorce as needed. Also, Parliament passed laws as to who could take communion and who could be ministers. This added more control over the Church. Are you seeing the trends?

A Reverend John Greenwood was executed for stating a separation was needed. This man started a congregation attended by many English Pilgrims. Parliament passed a law of anyone denying Queen Elizabeth 1 of church supremacy would be imprisoned without bail. Pilgrims began traveling towards the New World of America to escape such laws being enforced upon their beliefs. The Pilgrims believed the government had no right to plant churches by power and force laws and penalties the State deemed correct.

As previously stated, Theodosius took the Church over in 390 A.D. The centuries following lead to even more rulers of the State mandating all church authorities to follow whatever religious doctrines the State decided as doctrine. These many years had a complete lack of religious tolerance. These were the centuries where all the negative attributes of Christianity occurred. many of which are still used today to combat anything Christ-like. A couple of examples of the past were the Inquisition and the Crusades.

Those calling themselves the Puritans began fleeing soon afterwards. Puritans were having their noses sliced, ears cut off and brands placed on their foreheads for not adhering to State-controlled Churches. Over the next hundred years or so many others left for America. These individuals including Jews, Quakers, Anabaptists, Huguenots and Lutherans were part of this migration from religious persecution. William Penn, who founded Pennsylvania, was a Quaker.

Christ is Matthew 24 prophesied of a great “falling away” prior to his Second Advent. Paul in  2 Thessalonians 2:3 stated of a Apostasy prior to the revealing of the Wicked One during the latter days. Apostasy  means to fall away from sound Christian doctrine.This false Christianity permeated the world for these many years. I believe the apostasy mentioned above has been in effect since the very early years of the church’s establishment.

However, there were bright times in Christianity. Bible-oriented leaders began efforts to reform the terrible abuses of the State-controlled Christianity. These were the cries of true separation from the State. Many of these leaders would face tremendous persecution even death. All through the decades the State has controlled and abused the Church. By the time of the New World colonies early years the idea of “separation of Church and state” was firmly planted within the populace’s thinking. Many had witnessed the abuse of the State-run church. They wished to avoid such control in their new world if possible. This mind-set had become prominent with the colonies independence from England in 1776. Read the Declaration of Independence for yourself and you will notice the issues these Americans had with England at that time. So, it is no wonder the Founding Fathers included the Freedom  Religion in the new Bill of Rights. In fact this right was listed as the First Amendment.


“Congress  shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

The idea of “Separation of Church and State” in America changed drastically in 1947.  Many have become completely ignorant of this reality. A supreme court ruling in 1947 used Jefferson’s words of “separation of Church and State” to rule in favor of actually keeping religion from all walks of life concerning public places. HOWEVER, the court did not use the remaining words of Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Association. They used only the phrase! The new America of shame would be now become the normal way of thinking. Later, in the early sixties an atheist found a sympathetic court to the 1947 ruling and the reading of Bibles in schools became the attack. Now, prayer in school is against policy. If a kid would draw a symbol of religion he/she could be disciplined. This is why having the right judge is so important in America. Remember the original intent of separation was to keep the State from meddling, interfering, and controlling the Church’s beliefs, doctrines and expression. The phrase was never  supposed to be used to remove crosses; Ten Commandment monuments, Bibles from the schools; public prayer for graduation ceremonies, Christmas songs and the like. The “separation of Church and State” was to protect such liberties!  Words were spoken stating, “The separation of Church and State does not mean the exclusions of God, righteousness, morality from the State.”  

Now armed with the above knowledge as presented above read the First Amendment again!

The “separation of the Church and State” was intended by our Founding Fathers to keep government away from governing Christianity and not to be intrusive to Christianity. The Founders knew very well what had happened to the European Churches once the state controlled it all. They wanted their new government to not be as the State had been in Europe for those many, many years. Wow! We have come a long way from the original intent!!!!!




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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.


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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

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