EVANS CITY AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Evans City, Pennsylvania

Newsletter

NEWSLETTER

EVANS CITY HISTORICAL SOCIETY

204C South Jackson Street                                Evans City, PA 16033

                                    724-538-3629                                      

E-mail address: evanscityhistory@gmail.com                                        

 

November General Meeting

            The November General Membership Meeting of the Evans City Historical Society will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, November 27, 2017 in the library community room of the Leone and John Irvine Community Center, 204 S. Jackson Street, Evans City,  Our November program guest speaker will be Penny Isaly Logan who will reminisce about life in the Isaly store owned by her father, Gene Isaly, and her grandfather, “Pop” Isaly

            For our February  26, 2018 meeting, we hope to have Jim Lucot, Seneca Valley High School Social Studies teacher, speak about his experiences as a recipient of a grant to travel to Germany and learn about the holocaust.

 

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

We invite you to please be our guests, sit down and enjoy an evening with us,

 

OUR THANKS  to Louis Breitenbach for an American Legion cap and an early metal Social Security card once belonging to Anthony Schoeffel.

OUR THANKS  to Paul R. Ross of Richmond, Texas for a small framed pen & ink and watercolor print of the Evans City railroad station

OUR THANKS  to Kathy Wearing for 8 pictures of the Elliott Nursery, a 1993 aerial view of the Mars-Evans City Road and a 1962 Sanitation Kit #SK IV

 

We Would Like to Find: Evans City High School published yearbooks from 1924 through 1931. When the Depression hit and money became tight , the yearbooks were discontinued.  We have two good copies for every year except 1926 and we have none for that year.When yearbooks were started again in 1949, we have two good copies for every year until 1964 when the school became Seneca Valley. The decision was made not to collect Seneca Valley yearboooks.

 

This is a story of two brothers who fought in the Revolutionary War. It came about when a friend asked me if I knew anything about the Critchlow family from Evans City, and did I know anything about two Critchlow brothers who served in the Revolutionary War. I did not. But as I started my research this amazing story unfolded. – Rita Schoeffel

TWO CRITCHLOW BROTHERS:  JAMES AND WILLIAM,  James Critchlow and his brother William were born somewhere in the vastness of Westmoreland County; James in 1758 and William in 1760.  Their father David came from Ireland in the mid 1700’s  and settled there when there were no roads  and only blazed trees marked pathways. The two brothers first became active in a military outfit of riflemen formed in what is now present day Washington County in May of 1776 for the defense of the western frontier. They were mustered in at Pittsburgh in the autumn of 1776 as the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment. .It wasn’t long, however, until they were ordered east. The march would cover some 300 miles in bitter and cruel winter weather. They arrived at Quibbletown, New Jersey toward the end of February 1777. Enroute some died, many now had fevers and putrid sore throats, and all had suffered from lack of proper food or clothing with no tents for shelter from the weather. Both Critchlow brothers had survived. They would take part in the Battle of Saratoga which occurred on October 7, 1777.

   General Benedict Arnold had in his following at Saratoga that day one soldier whose solitary shot brought on confusion that ended in disaster for the British. James Critchlow told this story many times about his brother William. In this decisive Battle of Saratoga, Colonel Daniel Morgan’s riflemen from Fort Ligonier, of whom William and James were members, played an important role. The British forces were commanded by General Burgoyne and General Frazier. As the battle progressed American General Gates discovered by aid of a field glass that a British  officer was directing the movement of his forces from a point that commanded a view of the American line of battle.. Calling Colonel Morgan to his side, he pointed out the British officer who  was busily engaged in dispatching orderlies hither and thither to different parts of the field, and said to him, ‘That General is maneuvering his forces with strategic ability; he must be gotten out of the way somehow. Will you undertake to dislodge him?’  Morgan replied, ’Yes sir. I’ll see that your wishes are carried out.’ Galloping back to his riflemen, he selected a squad of a half dozen of his best marksmen, among them William Critchlow, a teenager of 17, and sent them to an abandoned house located at an angle to the right of the American line of battle. The sharpshooters were soon at work  in an effort to put the British officer out of the engagement, but the distance was too great for the carrying power of their rifles. They soon found they were wasting ammunition. Around the building and between it and the knoll  on which the British officer and his aides were stationed was a stretch of land cleared off and burnt over on which there was a rank growth of fireweed. William Critchlow said to his brother James and his other comrades, “I am going to slip out and crawl through  the tall weeds to a point one hundred paces nearer to yonder  rise and see if I cannot reach them from that point”. Suiting the action to the word, he started on his perilous undertaking and walking half bent, counting his steps as he went, he stopped a hundred yards from the building, and rising and taking a quick aim, he fired and started on a run back to the building. As he ran the British musket balls cut the poke weed all around him, but he reached  the place of safety unscathed.

               When his trusty rifle cracked, his companions in the building noticed a commotion among the red coated soldiers around their gallant commander. The officer was seen to reel in the saddle and fall backwards in the arms of his aides. The rank of the British wavered and were thrown into disorder by the loss of their commander. Morgan’s riflemen taking advantage of the confusion of the enemy, charged upon them and by aid of Arnold’s division supporting them, the British were dislodged and Gates won the day taking several thousand prisoners,. It was learned the following day that the officer who fell before the unerring aim of William Critchlow’s rifle was General Frazier, next in command to General Burgoyne. He was shot through the body and survived but a few hours. That incident made William Critchlow the Hero of Saratoga. Today, he lies buried in a family cemetery now partly overgrown on what was once a Critchlow farm off  Reibold Road in present day Forward Township, Butler County.

   Following the war, William and James Critchlow were paid in land grants in what was then Connoquenessing Township, Allegheny County. William received about 400 acres and James approximately 200 acres in what is present day Forward Township.

      In 2008 Camron Underwood, a descendant of James Critchlow, undertook as his Eagle Scout project, to refurbish the old Critchlow cemetery. His project not only required much research but much hard work. Among the efforts put into this restoration was to begin with a survey of the cemetery plot, then on to removing trees and rusty wire, finding and setting upright original grave stones, widening and mowing a roadway, mowing the cemetery site, and procuring a new monument on which are inscribed the names .of 19 people known to be buried there, The D.A.R. has placed a bronze marker over the grave of William Critchlow.

   Much of this story comes from a book Camron put together as part of his project. The story of the Battle of Saratoga comes from “An Address Historic & Reminiscent” which was printed in an Old Home Week book published by the Prospect Preservation Society. That about the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment can be found in C. Hall Sipe’s “Fort Ligonier and it’s Times “

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is in the process of organizing a group of members to preserve the cemetery. Hopefully this will be accomplished during November 2017. They also plan to take pictures of the names on the monument and put them on the ‘Billion Graves’ website.

 

 

 

HARRY HARVEY & LILLIAN BERDELA RAHISER McCORMICK   Written by Ruth Critchlow Neibar

Harry (Grandpa) and Lillian (Grandma) were married August 14, 1901 in the Methodist Parsonage in Evans City, Pennsylvania. Grandpa was born in Bruin and Grandma was born near Evans City. They began their married life in a home about a mile east of Evans city. It wasn’t long until they purchased some property just across Route 68 and started to build their home.

            Grandpa was a carpenter and worked for Edward Dambach Lumber Company in  Evans City. His area of work was the 2nd floor in the building which ran along Route 68. He would sit at one of the many windows and wave to all his grandchildren as they walked down town during their lunch hour. I’m not sure what all he built but there was a wooden box behind their kitchen stove with small pieces of wood, exactly the same size, which were used to start the kitchen stove in the mornings. I’m sure they were  the scraps of wood left over from his daily projects .. He never had a car. He rode to work with Harry Rice, his son-in-law. They had 11 children – Helen May Burr, Ina Lillian Burr, Harold Harry McCormick, Florence Loraine Lester, Leland Russell McCormick, John William McCormick, Wesley Robert McCormick, Carl Francis McCormick, Thelma Tinetta Melissa (named for each of her grandmothers) Critchlow, Dorothy Marguerite Rice and Hazel Genevieve Norman.

            Some of the items he made for their daughters were quilting frames and play baby cradles and children’s cupboards. He also made wooden games with inlaid pieces and beds for his children He made a game which we called “Dart Ball”. It was shaped like a baseball field with thin wires to separate the bases, fly balls, home runs, etc. This was a very competitive game at the family gatherings. The rules were comparable to a baseball game except you threw darts instead of batting a ball/ There was also an age where you were old enough to throw the darts.

            All the children played at least one musical instrument. Grandpa could play 3 instruments at a time, the harmonica, drums and violin. The girls played beautiful piano duets. Some of the boys played 2 or 3 different instruments. Grandpa also had a band. He played for weddings and square dances As teenagers it was the highlight of the week to go square dancing at Wonderland Park in the summer or Henry’s Dance hall in Callery in the winter. Many of his children played in the band and other family members played also.

            Grandma also had her specialties. She was a great supporter of the band and would sit on the hard benches and enjoy the music and watch the grandchildren dance. She was a wonderful seamstress. She would use catalogs that came in the mail draw patterns of beautiful dresses etc. and make them for her girls. Feed sacks were used for most fabrics. She was the piano teacher for her girls also. There were also sugar cookies with one raisin on the top in her cookie jar when company came. She taught all her girls to use their hands to make beautiful embroidery pieces and quilts. Most of the granddaughters received something to embroider for Christmas. She had a beautiful penmanship.

            Speaking of Christmas, their home was decorated beautifully with the small fencing, a pond with skaters and other small items. Icicles were draped meticulously over the tinsel. It was a “Fairy Land for all of us grandchildren..

            We had family gatherings starting on Memorial Day and once a month through Labor Day with the corn & weiner roast closing out the summer. Everyone would bring their specialty food and other foods. There were nearly 100 family members and friends at our gatherings. We played volley ball, horse shoes and dart ball and went for walks.

            Our family was a musical family with two different cousins forming their own bands, Margaret McCormick and her husband Bob Kaltenbach and James McCormick and friends forming another band.

            When the sun began to set, we would gather around the piano, with a cousin playing familiar hymns and songs from beautiful sheet music, and harmonize. What wonderful memories with those we love so much. What joy we felt at the end of those days and will remember forever..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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