Evans City, Pennsylvania


November 2018


204C South Jackson Street Evans City, PA 16033


E-mail address: evanscityhistory@gmail.com 
Web site: www.evanscityhistory.com 

November General Membership Meeting

            The November General Membership Meeting of the Evans City Area Historical Society will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, November 26, 2018 in the library community room of the Leone and John Irvine Community Center, 204 South Jackson Street, Evans City, PA


            Our guest speaker will be Steve Mihaly of Gibsonia. Recently retired from H. J. Heinz Co., Steve has been collecting presidential memorabilia for 50+ years. His presentation is called “Marketing the Presidency”. He will bring with him some of his collection (which encompasses between 20,000 and 25,000 political items). The presentation, which lasts about an hour, is a pictorial tour over the past 125 years that shows the often odd and unusual ways presidential candidates market themselves. His program is not a heavy political presentation, but one that is both light and whimsical.          


            Our programs are open to the public. You do not need to be a member of Evans City Area Historical Society to attend. You just need to be interested in local history.


            A THANK YOU to Lewis and Courtney Rape for the donation of a civil war enlisted cavalry  sword belonging to ancestor Philip Zinkhann. Philip Zinkhann was also the great grandfather of Board member, Dean Zinkhann. On the underside of the hilt of the sword is this information: W. Chelms Ford, Massachusetts, CRORY – mfg, US 1865, AGM. A check of the 1860 census records shows us Philip was 1 year old at that time, but he had an older brother, Jacob who was 21. We are guessing Jacob served in the enlisted cavalry in the war and at some time passed the sword to Philip. It has stayed in the Rape family all these years.

A THANK YOU to Lew Sowell for an 8 X 10 portrait of Rhea Elliott who owned Elliott Nursery and a monetary donation.

A THANK YOU to Pat Noto Holt for her father’s 1936 Evans City High School diploma and his 1932 certificate from Dunbar school. Her father was Emilio Noto. Pat also sent along a chain with an Evans City High School pendant

A THANK YOU to Edna Mae Smith for two pictures of the trolley bridge over Connoquenessing creek


OUR SYMPATHY: To the family of  Mildred “Millie” McElhinny, our deepest sympathy. Millie, a Board member and museum volunteer, passed away on September 28, 2018 in Allegheny General Hospital . She had been in the museum on Tuesday September 18, doing whatever was needed and doing her own bit of research. The next morning she suffered a massive stroke. Millie was born in Washington County and grew up in Butler. When she married Ronald McElhinny  she adopted Forward Township as her home and delved into it’s history. She was concerned that the history of a small village once known as Zeno would be lost. She marveled at the work done by a group of dedicated  Stamm school parents ( the Ash Stop Community ) did to raise money  to broaden their children’s education. She would look at a picture of Stamm school and tell you her father-in-law helped to build the protective entrance at the door. We will miss Millie both in the museum and at our board meetings.   

   IN MEMORIUM for Millie:          

From Beverly and Troy Barkley

From Marilyn and Jerome McElhinny

From Sandy and Thomas Pferdehirt

From the Board of the Evans City Historical Society





Here at Evans City we are lucky to have at least two world war veterans still living and willing to share their stories.

CLAIR DRUSHEL was not one of the first to hurry off and join the army, but when he was 20 and knew he would soon be drafted, his dad went along with him to Pittsburgh so he could volunteer for the army. Back then a person had to have their parent’s consent if they were not 21. On November 4, 1942 he enlisted, was sworn into the army, was given a physical and was assigned to 186th Medical Battalion eventually reaching the rank of Technican 4th Grade.. His 6 weeks of basic training was at Maxi, Texas. He remembers some funny stories from those six weeks. One of the fellows refused to take a shower and stunk rather badly; so the other bunk mates decided to give him a GI shower which consisted of cold water, GI brown soap and a scrub brush. Another soldier was know to sleep extra soundly every night, so one night a group moved his bed outside. When he awoke in the morning he could not believe where he was or how he got there. After basic training it was on to Louisiana and maneuvers – war games.  Then to Indio Desert in California to prepare  for assignment to Africa. The days could be very hot and the nights very cold, plus the had to keep their eyes open for scorpions. They washed out of their helmets and if they left water in them it was frozen by morning. The fighting in Africa ended before the men were sent there, so it was back to Camp Mexi in Texas where the army was organizing a headquarters outfit to go to Europe. They asked for a volunteer for a  ‘to be  announced’ position. Clair volunteered . He was sent to England to set up a motor pool with ambulances to service the wounded coming in on ships. The others in his unit in Camp Maxi were sent to the front lines. At one time all of them were captured by the Germans but released because they were medics.

One sight that remains with him to this day was the wounded being brought ashore in England from the Battle of the Bulge The fighting was fierce and many of the wounded were still dressed in battle fatigues and covered in mud. They had not eaten, slept or washed for days and were still in a daze from the effects of the fighting.

By D-Day he had been in England for 21 months. When VE-Day eventually came, the army began to ship men home; married men first. He spent some time in London, but there was little to do because of the devastation from the bombings. When Clair’s turn came he boarded a ship in South Hampton for his ten day trip home. Along the way they  encountered a terrible storm that almost capsized the ship. When they finally reached New York, the Statue of Liberty was one of the welcoming sights he holds dear, On shore they were greeted by a band and singing girls. From there it was on to Indiantown Gap where he was discharged on February 22, 1946. He took a train to Pittsburgh and hitch-hiked at night to Evans City where he went to his Uncle Carl Kinsey’s house.  In the morning Carl drove him home.

During his time in the service he held the following ranks: Private – Medical Basic; Private – Ambulance Orderly; Private – Ambulance Driver; Technician – Auto Mechanic


Today, Clair is 96 and resides at the Southwestern Veterans  Center, 7060 Highland Drive Pittsburgh PA  15206. 


HAROLD SCHOEFFEL went with three of his buddies, Jim Burkett, Eugene Trish and Bill Nicklas, to Butler sometime early in 1943 to enlist in the US Navy. Imagine his surprise when the Navy accepted his three buddies and turned him down. Why? he asked, and was told he had a deferment from National Electric in Ambridge where he was working.  Nat’l Electric considered his work to be  an important part of the war effort and he was needed there. However, the US Army caught up with him in September of 1943 and he was drafted.

He went to Butler to be sworn in, then to Pittsburgh by bus  and by train to Maryland From there  he was sent to Fort Bliss in Texas for Basic Training. He was then assigned to be part of a “Search Light Battalion’.  That duty lasted about a year when the battalion was disbanded and he was sent to Fort Bowie and reassigned to the 278th Engineer Combat Battalion. Harold thought he would be involved in building and maintenance but was told ‘combat means combat’. Before being sent overseas, all the men in the battalion were given a furlough. In September 1944 they were on their way overseas; first stop Swanage, England. Early December found them bound for LeHavre, France. His group/unit was never part of a division, but was sent where needed; Harold serving as a radio operator and jeep driver.

One of his overseas assignment was at Hermalle, Belgium, guarding the big supply depot at Liege, otherwise known as ‘buzz bomb alley’. The Germans were sending over V-1 rockets and bombs at a rate of about one every twenty minutes hoping one of them would strike the depot. They could be heard them coming from the buzzing noise they made. Fortunately, none hit their designated target. In addition to guarding the depot much of the battalion’s work consisted of sanding road in an effort to keep the mud under control and allow Army vehicles to operate.

At the time of the Battle of the Bulge, Harold’s group was lucky in that they did not see action. One evening during the battle, they were told to get their equipment together; they were going to the front the next morning. But by the next morning the Germans had given up their offense.

Another time his unit was preparing to be in the advance party for the Rhine River. His commanding officer said he was putting all group’s names in a hat – 135 of them – and one name would be drawn for leave in England. Guess whose name was pulled. And while his group moved out, Harold was on his way to London.

Being in a recon unit with the jeep, he never knew if he was behind enemy lines or not. One day along with the Staff Sgt. They were out checking roads and pill boxes to blow. When they stopped for lunch they heard a noise and here came a convoy of German trucks, etc. Both he and the sergeant were scared to say the least. Then they spotted an MP in each truck and realized this convoy had surrendered and were on their way to be processed.

At the end of the war a party was planned by some officers. It was up a mountain near Heidleburg. Being a jeep driver Harold was assigned to take the party supplies (including lots of booze) to the location. He thought it was quite a spot for some celebrating, so a few weeks later with some of his buddies it was decided to have a celebration in the same location. Using a ¾ ton truck to carry the party supplies and the soldiers, part way up the steep mountain road the truck hit a large stone. Down over the side of the mountain they went, hitting trees and rolling this way and that. Harold was thrown out through the canvas cover. He suffered a compound fracture of his right arm above the elbow and his jaw was broken in 3 places. It took six people to rescue him and get him back up the hill. He was cared for briefly by a kind German and his wife before getting to a Army hospital. He spent 6 months in Germany before being strong enough for the trip home. Eating was a real problem for him. He never forgot the kind nurse on the ship who melted her candy bars for him. He considered her his life saver.

During the time he spent overseas he never used his rifle in combat, but he did come close to using it once. He was on sentry duty and a number of German planes had been flying low over most of the night. He heard a noise and footsteps in the brush and they kept coming closer. He hollered ‘Halt!” , but the footsteps continued. Again, “Halt!’ no response, but he made out a figure approaching with a backpack (perhaps a parachute?) on his back. “HALT! And this time a voice from about 4 or 5 feet away answered in French. The poor man was on his way to work and had no idea the scare he had given Harold.

            Today Harold is 95 years young, lives in his own house and still loves to dance a couple of nights each week.


WE ARE IN NEED OF one more candidate to fill a vacancy as member-at-large on our Board. The term of office is for three years. The Board meets 5 times a year, the fourth Monday of the months: January, March, May, August and October at 7:15. The only requirement is that you are interested in preserving local history.  Please call the museum 724-538-3629 or email us at evanscityhistory@gmail.com  and leave your name. We will get back to you and answer any questions you might have concerning this opening.

ELECTION OF OFFICERS will be held at the November meeting. The slate of candidates is as follows:

President – Richard Reifenstein                                 Vice President - Barbara Etter

Treasurer - Chris Ripper                                             Recording Secretary - Sandy Knauff

Corresponding Secretary - Rita Reifenstein

Board members (3 needed)  - Kurt Wearing and Kitty Martin

MUSEUM WINTER CLOSURE: The Evans City Historical Society Museum will be closed after museum hours on December 18, 2018. It will be reopened sometime in April. As always, anyone wanting the to visit the museum during this time may contact us at 724-538-3629 and leave a message. We will get back to you and arrange for a volunteer to meet you there.



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