Archive for the ‘Historical’ Category


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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Massey (Massa)was born on March 18, 1770. She married John Harbison in 1787. John was wounded in battle while serving under General Arthur St. Clair. I am assuming his wounds may have been during St. Clair’s defeat in Ohio in November of 1791. The soldiers were terribly defeated while fighting the natives during this conflict. Regardless, John was given lighter duty as a scout along the Allegheny frontier of western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. John spent a lot of time away from him. Massey would eventually divorce the man.

The Escape of Massey Harbison by Larry A. Smail

The Escape of Massey Harbison by Larry A. Smail

At the time of her abduction, the Harbisons had a log cabin, across the Allegheny river,  just south of present-day Freeport, Pennsylvania. (Freeport, PA is in southern Armstrong County.) A blockhouse was within site of the cabin. This was a place of safety in the event of an Indian uprising. On Sunday, May 22, 1792, a group of Indians invaded the log cabin pulling Massey and her two eldest children from their beds. They began plundering.

She was in her sleeping nightgown only. One of her children was killed on site when he cried and fussed. Massey managed to get outside and scream towards the blockhouse. This act of defiance almost cost her life. One of the Indians stopped the tomahawk of another claiming her as her squaw.

They proceeded to a site east of present-day, Freeport and began to go down a steep river hill. A horse fell and injured Massey’s other son. He was killed on Todd Island as they crossed. Massey stated , later, there were 32 Indians (Delaware and Seneca) with two of them being white men. The group continued on to a site about two miles north of, present-day, Butler, Pennsylvania. Most of Indians left this site leaving two Indians to guard Massey. From this site she managed to escape.

The Indians took up her trail in pursuit. At one point, she hid among a tree top while a native stood and waited. He had heard the noise of the baby. Apparently, he believed he was hearing things and left. She used her hand and cloth to keep the baby silent. Imagine the terror she must have felt at this time. (This is the scene depicted in my painting.) On May 27th, 1792, Massey reached the Allegheny near,the present-day, Six Mile Island north of Pittsburgh.(Just above Sharpsburg, PA.) She had been close to death. She had, barely, survived the elements. She had came close to giving up, but thoughts of her baby helped her persevere. Another day in the wilderness would have, no doubt, killed her. Providence!

Massey passed away on December 9, 1837.

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IMG_1921Laurie and I had the honor to share some quality time with friends, Dick, Danna, their son Glenn, daughter-in-law Claudia and  grand daughter, Nettie.

Early sunrise

This area of Pennsylvania consisted of long wooded ridges on both sides of a long and wide valley known as Sugar Valley. The “mountains’ here are not as high and steep of northern Clinton County, but the views are still grandeur to me. I used my imagination to see through the ages as to what the area would have been like in past ages.


This building was where we stayed.

This building was where we stayed.


IMG_1910 This was the first time I had been in this area of Clinton County. A couple of years ago I spent time in northern Clinton. I was at the Alvin Bush Dam area fishing for native brookies, hiking and  visiting Cross Fork and Hammersly Wild Area. I stayed in a tent as I visited various areas of Potter County enjoying quality time with my friend Ruger.


The old grist mill along Fishing Creek.

The old grist mill along Fishing Creek.

Huge Amish farms dominate much of this valley. Horse and buggy teams were constant along the road near to where we stayed at Logan Mill. I respected their desire to not be photographed, however, one man looked around as I shot the photo as I snapped a buggy from the side.

The building we stayed at!

The building we stayed at!


Although, I didn’t do any fly fishing on site, the free-flowing limestone stream of Fishing Creek looked beautiful. Individuals and others lease the home where we stayed for various reasons with Fishing being one favorite.


The 1840 home.

The 1840 home.

Glenn and his family live in the 1840 home. We stayed in an 1880 home beside his place. Much of the home’s integrity and character still remain. I appreciated seeing the original carpentry! His property has the creek  waterway bordering the property where the very old remains of a grist mill still stand. The building is four stories high.                                                                                                    DSC_0099

Fishing Creek... limestone waters!

Fishing Creek… limestone waters!


A covered bridge built in the nineteenth century has been repaired and is still in active use. Directly along side on the road’s curvature stands an old building that was a general store. We were able to tour these buildings. The old store is now Claudia and Glenn’s office space.                                            IMG_1926

DSC_0062    Laurie and I managed to get in some hiking time on trails, fields and old roads. I really enjoyed the lack of television and radio in the house. That was a refreshing break from a world going mad!


One evening we all had some music! Nettie plays a mean piano for an eleven year old. She even helped Grandma Danna sing. Dick played a steal guitar (Steel guitar-inside joke.) and Glenn performed with some great drum works!  To learn more visit:  http://www.theguesthouseatlongmeadow.com

The old general store.

The old general store.


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When one walks through Kittanning, Pennsylvania today it is difficult realizing a great people once lived and died here many years ago. Those people were mainly the people of the great Lenni-Lenape tribe. They are better known as the Delaware Indians.

These natives lived here, possibly,  from as early as 1723. They had been moved west because of the English push and, sad to say, treachery from greedy people of the time. They had lived in peace for many years under William Penn and his fairness to them.

The year of 1755, a different Indian lived in Kit-Han-Ne. (Kittanning) They now had allied themselves with the French and began an all out war with the English, and others to their east.

To thwart these native incursions under the war chiefs, Shingas and Captain Jacobs, a Lieutenant Colonel John Armstrong and 307 men traveled east to attack the natives at their home.

The attack came on September the 8th of 1756. The Indians were miraculously taken by surprise. However, the Pennsylvania troops suffered much as well. the force retreated at one point, but the Delaware and Shawnee living there were met with a morale defeat. They eventually moved further east. Their raids, however, continued.

I wrote a book called The ATTACK ON KIT-HAN-NE. The book can be ordered through: Mechling Bookbindery at http://www.mechlingbooks.com

The original 48 X 30 inch painting shown above was started in 2008. I wasn’t excited about the art and shelved it for a time. The art was much too busy. I was trying to show so much of the area and the art just didn’t work. A couple of years ago I “attacked” the painting and eliminated much of the background.

Hope you like the painting.




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Those Who Fought

The book!

The book!

The recently published Civil War book entitled, “THOSE WHO FOUGHT Allegheny County, PA., and the Gettysburg Campaign” is now on the market. If you enjoy educating yourself with Civil war related writings this is a book you need to check out.

THOSE WHO FOUGHT was written by Arthur B. Fox, M.A with contributions from John Haltigan. My friend, Robert “Slim” Bowser and myself had the honor of meeting with these two historians, as well as, Tom McMillan. (Vice-president of communications for the Pittsburgh Penguins.) The meeting involved becoming acquainted and talking Civil War and the status of this book.

The writings of the book features information on the various regimental units from southwestern Pennsylvania who had fought in the Gettysburg campaign of 1863. Men from my native Armstrong County were involved. One of my ancestors was with the 63rd Pennsylvania at the Peach Orchard.

The 62nd Pennsylvania has a chapter in the book. (Slim is a living historian for our local 62nd group. The site is: http://62ndpvi.wordpress.com )

Other points of interest in the 202 page book are: care of the wounded; regimental action summaries;  maps; public interest stories; over 60 photographs; past Gettysburg reunions; placement of monuments and much more.

I received my autographed copy this past weekend and was elated to search the pages. I was honored to have my painting, “THE WHEATFIELD-WHIRLPOOL OF DEATH” included within the pages. (More on this painting in past entries within the History category. Stories may be found on: July 6, 2011; August 25, 2011; October 30, 2011; September 4, 2012 and June 19, 2013.)

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