Evans City, Pennsylvania




204C South Jackson Street                             Evans City, PA 16033


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


September 2017 Newsletter

            The September General Membership meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, September 25, 2017 in the community room of the library. We are going to continue our on-going information gathering about local one room schools with a panel discussion about Dunbar, Spithaler and Stamm schools. Following the panel presentations ample time will be allowed for questions and answers


Looking forward to our November 27th meeting, we will have Penny Isaly Logan tell us all she remembers about the Evans City Isaly Store.


**  Our meetings are open to any and all who are interested in local history.

Please feel free to come in, sit down and enjoy an evening with us.


THANK  YOU to Patricia Capella for a monetary donation

THANK  YOU to Tom West for a monetary donation

THANK  YOU to Sandra Kennedy for the loan of two of her brother, Barry Spithaler’s, paintings: one of the Hicks Service Station at the corner of W. Main and Railroad Streets; the other of a Harmony Line  trolley.


OCTOBERFEST will be held in Evans City September 15th through the 17th. The Society will not be down on Wahl Avenue, but we will have the museum open on Saturday, September 16 from 11:00 a.m until 4:00 p.m. and again on Sunday, September 17th from noon until 4:00 p.m. The volunteers who man the museum have put together a nice display of Art Ripper and Barry Spithaler paintings. Plus you can find a wealth of memorabilia pertaining to Evans City history. We hope to set up a small table near the library entrance with items we have for sale, ie: note cards, wooden building models, mugs, and more.



When we think of John Shoup, it seems natural to place him in his hardware store on Main Street.

   John was born in 1894 in the family home, a house that still stands at the corner of East Main Street and Franklin Road. In fact he was not only born there but lived his entire life there.  (When John was born there may even have been an oil derrick located near the back porch of the house.) The exception was when he was serving in the army during World War 1. John’s parents were Oscar and Magdalena Shoup. His grandfather was Jacob Shoup who had immigrated from Prussia and was a farmer in Forward Township. John grew up in Evans City and attended Evans City schools. When World War 1 came along he was drafted into the army and became a member of the 332 Light Field Artillery, a unit that saw fighting at Verdun, the Argonne Forest and Chateau Thierry. He returned home on May 30, 1919, and a few days later was at work in his father’s hardware store.

    John remembered the frequent floods that hit Evans City. When growing up, he remembered Halloween pranks  when the big boys (of which he was probably one) piled buggies in the school house vestibule and even were able to hang a buggy from the school house steeple.

   John was the “owner, manager, clerk, and janitor” of the hardware store which he took over from his father in 1933. The store was established as a hardware and tin shop about 1885 by his father, Oscar, and his two uncles, Philip and Michael Shoup.  It was located on the same site the store occupied in 1974, the year John retired. The original store was replaced, probably in 1922 as part of a new brick structure. The store was open six days a week from early a.m. to late evening and sometimes as late as 9 p.m. When Oscar managed the hardware store, you could find a checkers game being played almost every night with Oscar usually coming out the winner.

   John walked the few blocks from his home to the store every day no matter the weather. He had the unique habit, which many remember, of turning on a light only when needed and when done with it turning it off. He said this was his way of passing along any savings to his customers. When John wasn’t helping a customer he liked to pull up his stool, sit in the doorway of his store, weather permitting, and greet and talk with old time friends.            It has been told that if he didn’t think you needed some particular hardware to do a project, he wouldn’t sell you what you thought you needed.

   The store did much business during the two oil booms to hit the area. The first occurred not only in Evans City but in the surrounding countryside in the late 1800’s; the second in Evans City itself in 1914-15.                 

   When the store closed on Monday, August  26, 1974, it was the oldest business having been in operation 89 years.

   Randy Pfeifer remembers his Uncle John Shoup.  “John Shoup was married to my father‘s sister Emma Pfeifer. My family lived next door to my Aunt Emma and Uncle John until their house was sold in the 1990’s. I spent a lot of time in their house as my main playmate was their grandson, Jeff Shoup. Uncle John fought in World War I as a young man and would tell Jeff and I of his times in France. Some of the stories were pretty racy for the two of us but we thought it was great. When he returned to Evans City after the war he told us that his father had invested in some steel company stock and had forgotten about it but soon received a large dividend check because of production during the war.

   During the spring and summer in the evenings after Uncle John came from the store, he would sit on the large swing they had on the front porch. This is where he would tells his jokes (not politically correct) and his stories of his time in service and just life in general. My sisters and I have a lifetime of many good memories of that swing . I will always remember Uncle John sitting on that front porch swing. When he passed away the swing was never put on the front porch again.

   The one thing I often think about is helping Uncle John feed his chickens.  The chicken coops were across the street  on land the Shoups owned where Ritzert Hall is today. I believe it was about 10 acres and there were four coops. My sisters remember a large goose which would chase them but the goose was gone when Jeff and I help feed. We would help collect the eggs and clean pens and feed the chickens. We thought it was great fun. My sisters told of how Uncle John when the goose was still around would gather the goose eggs  and would paint birds on them at Easter time.  He always took the eggs to the fruit cellar in the basement  where it remained cool at all times. He always said you should never put eggs in the refrigerator. In the fruit cellar was an old round table on which sat  what we called the “egg bowl”.  The bowl was blueware  pottery and when my cousin Joni had a sale of the contents of the house, the bowl sold for over 300 dollars. My sisters and I commented that it was just the egg bowl.”

   I have always liked cars and Uncle John had a great one . He bought a 1948 Chrysler New Yorker, one of the first cars produced after the war. It was burgundy with red plaid wool interior. It was huge. I loved to ride in it. During the 60’s my family ran a little service station at the corner of Main and Railroad Streets. When Uncle John came to get gas the car took up the whole front of the pump area.

   John & Emma Shoup celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on May 23, 1976.

   John died on September 14, 1978. Emma passed away on October 15, 2001


SPITHALER SCHOOL by Beverly Stach Barkley

  The Spithaler one-room school is located on Buhl Road just before the intersection of Spithaler School Road. The building still stands and  is now privately owned and used for a business. 

   When I, Beverly ‘Stach’, attended the school, its exterior was unpainted with large windows - each covered with metal screens for protection from balls, rocks and so forth. There were two privies, one for boys – one for girls. Out front there was a coal/wood shed and a well with a hand pump.The interior was one big room except when you came in through the outside door. There you would find a long narrow space across the front of the building with hooks for hanging coats and a place to leave your boots. You then went through another door into the school room.A teacher’s desk was at the front with a blackboard on the wall behind it. The alphabet stretched above the blackboard. A pot belly stove was in the middle of the room . The 8th grade boys kept it going and also carried in a bucket of water every day.

   The grades were first through eighth. A Mrs. Hamilton was the teacher when I went there. I started school in 1947at age 5. (Back then you could start school if you turned 6 by January 30th of the following year and my birthday is in December). My father drove me to school every morning and I walked home every afternoon, a distance of about one mile. To make it easier for me, my dad cut a short-cut path through the fields. On my first day of school in first grade I asked my dad “Are you sure this is the right place?” I had seen a picture in a magazine of a school and Spithaler School looked nothing like that picture. I started to school disappointed and it took me to third grade to get over it!!!  I attended Spithaler through first and second grades, but Spithaler School closed before school started in 1949. We were sent to Stamm School for the first day of classes in 1949. I was in 3rd grade, my brother Al was in 1st grade. We were there only that one day – there were three kids for every seat, so some of us were bussed to Dunbar School on Watters Station Road. This was a whole new experience for country kids to catch a bus every morning. Mr. Mosser, our bus driver, picked us up right in front of our house. Dunbar School was a two-room school. Mrs. Hazel Marburger taught first, second and third grades; Mrs. Gertrude Marshall taught fourth and fifth. Sixth grade and up went to Evans City. I can not say what year Dunbar closed.

   As Harold Hunter has previously written, it was a fun school with lots of lasting friendships. Those were the good old days..


We rely on you for untold stories of Evans City and the people who once lived here. Do you have a story you remember about something that happened in Evans City? Or a person you remember? Or your own family history? Please write it down and email or regular mail it to us. It is how we get many of our interesting stories for our newsletters.  How about a picture? Or a document? We will copy it/them and return it/them to you immediately. It’s called saving history for future generations, because once we are gone, that story, picture or family history may be gone forever.



1918 INFLUENZA  EPIDEMIC - Natalie Price is researching information about the deadly flu epidemic of 1918. She is particularly interested in the names of people from the local area who died as the result of this disease. If you know the name of a family member who may have died at that time, would you call the museum (724-538-3629) and leave their name. If you know the age of the person, that also would be helpful, as it seemed that younger people rather than the elderly suffered the most deaths. You may also email the information to evanscityhistory@gmail.com. Thank you for your help.


We are now on FACEBOOK. Thanks to Rita Reifenstein you can find us on Facebook. Just type in Evans City Historical Society and be pleasantly surprised by what Rita is adding each week. 


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