November 28, 2008

Yablonski Murders Not The First Tragic Incident At That Clarksville Home.

Most are aware of the murders of Jock Yablonski, his wife and daughter in Clarksville in 1969. Not as well known are the details of a dramatic scene took place in that same Clarksville house thirty years earlier. Years ago, my Aunt Rose Durdines Krencik ( she, and later I , grew up in a house just over the hill in the background ) told me a story of an event that was witnessed by her and many others. At the time the large stone two story home was a boarding house. She recalled a man staying there had become deranged and had barricaded himself in the home. A large crowd gathered on the road ( visible to the right in photo ) as State Police were called to resolve the situation. Soon after the officers entered the house, she remembered " shots were heard and soon the body of a dead trooper was carried out, dressed in a light colored uniform and his chest was covered with blood ". I had forgotten this story until I read a book , written in the 1940's, on the history of the Pennsylvania State Police . There I found mention of the story. The following is taken from the Pennsylvania State Police site.

At 3:35 p.m. on January 30, 1939, State Police Corporal Naughton ( pronounced Knock-ton ) , Privates Rittelmann and Fair, Washington County Detective Powell, and Sheriff Matt Armstrong responded to a call for assistance. While serving an arrest warrant on Frank Palanzo, Chief of Police William Morgan from Fredericktown was threatened by Palanzo. Palanzo had also threatened his family with a loaded gun. He was barricaded in a home located in a mining town in East Bethlehem Township, Washington County, near Clarksville. Palanzo threatened to shoot anyone who came near him. Corporal Naughton entered the three-story home and climbed the stairs to the second floor while calling for Palanzo to come out and talk it over. Palanzo opened the bedroom door where he was hiding, and shot Corporal Naughton at close range. Suffering a severe chest wound from a shotgun, Corporal Naughton fell face down to his death. Private Rittelmann carried Corporal Naughton from the landing. Reinforcements were summoned and the detail began hurling tear gas canisters into the house. Palanzo surrendered. He was tried for murder and drew a life sentence.
Pa. State Police photo

George Dewey Naughton was born January 12, 1899, at Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania. He served in the US Army Medical Corps from September 28, 1917, to July 23, 1919, and saw service in England and France during World War I. At 21, Corporal Naughton enlisted in the Constabulary on November 1, 1926 and was assigned to Troop A, Greensburg. As a result of the State Police/Highway Patrol merger, he was reassigned to Troop B-1, Washington. Corporal Naughton was buried in Greenwood Cemetery near Sharpsburg. He was survived by his wife, Mrs. Mary E. Naughton, of Dormon. At 40, he had completed 12 years and 3 months of Pennsylvania Motor Police service.

Further information was found in the files of the Washington Observer-Reporter for Jan.6, 1970.
The brutal Murders of Joseph A. ( Jock ) Yablonski, his wife and daughter recalled an incident of nearly 31 years ago when a veteran State Police officer was murdered by a crazed gunman.The two story stone structure was a boarding house when officers were called there on Jan. 30, 1939. Frank Palanzo, 47, an unemployed coal miner had been causing considerable trouble. He had barricaded himself in a second story bedroom and refused to come out at the urging of authorities. At one point he stuck a shotgun out the window and threatened to shoot. Naughton, a 12 years veteran of the force entered the house and climbed the stairway leading to the second floor. He pleaded with Palanzo " lets talk it over ". The door opened and Naughton was blasted twice with shotgun fire. Paul Rittleman, who was later to become State Police Commander, risked his own life by entering the building to drag out the body of his superior officer. Palanzo withstood a barrage of tear gas for nearly 3 hours before surrendering. At the time of his arrest, Palanzo told police he had served with the Italian army in WW I. He was eventually incarcerated in Fairview, an institution for the criminally insane in northeast Pennsylvania.

Frank Palanzo at the time of his arrest, from an unidentified newspaper clipping, courtesy of Ida Mary Wortman Haftman

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to look around in this house. On the handrail , near the top of the staircase is a deep graze from a large caliber bullet. Officer Naughton, after being shot and as he fell, fired his revolver once, the bullet hit that railing, missing Palanzo . Palanzo then fired again ( a 12 guage shotgun ) , killing the trooper. Also visible, in what is now a crawl space, is a modern repair to the chimney about three feet off the floor. This is where the resourceful Palanzo, during the three hour tear gas barrage, picked the mortar out to be able to breath fresh air from the chimney. It was only after the officers put tear gas down the chimney that he finally surrendered. As he was brought out the back door of the house, the story is that in anger at the death of Naughton, one of the troopers fired a shot at him before being restrained by others. Near the door today one can see a gouge in the stone supposedly made by that bullet.

Helen Vogt, in her book Westward Of Ye Laurall Hills, talks of interviewing Jock Yablonski in early 1969. Jock remembered that while he was working in the Vesta mine at California Pa. in 1927, he was " jailed for some offense and miserably treated ( beaten ) by Naughton," and " the chagrin and bitterness stayed with him for many years." Soon after the killing of Naughton, out of curiosity, Jock went to the house, became fascinated with it and then bought it in 1943. He had a extensive renovations done ( including sandblasting the stone and carefully preserving the original floors under new wood flooring ) and moved his family into it in 1947.

The details of the murders of Jock, Margaret and Charlotte Yablonski are well known and will not be covered here at all. To a small degree, I knew all of those people personally so, in respect I will say that the United Mine Workers lost a fearless and dedicated leader and the Clarksville community lost several members of an accomplished family.

I am gathering information for a post on the house's varied history, which goes back to 1776 -78.

All images property of the author unless noted

November 26, 2008

Steamboat Gallery # 1

No steamboats ran regularly on Ten Mile but they ran right past and besides that ........ I love a steamboat. For about 80 years the easiest and cheapest way to get from Ten Mile Country to the big city ( Brownsville or Pittsburgh ) was to take the packet boat. There were actually only two choices, a mud road or the packet boat until the railroad was extended from Brownsville through Fredericktown to Rices Landing ( completed Jan.9,1908 ) and the branch to Besco, in late 1907. Many towboats and packets were seen every day from the banks and people knew them even at night by the distinctive sound of the whistle.
Here are just a few vessels that were very well known to people on our stretch of the Mon.

The Clyde Coal Co.'s very pretty towboat. Imaginatively, she was named CLYDE
. This company had the mine of the same name in Fredericktown. Built at Rochester in 1903, she ran the Mon until 1930.

The Str. JAMES E. LOSE was one of many Carnegie Illinois Steel Co. boats. Later, these boats that ran locally (in the pools between the dams) were called pool boats , were operated under the U S Steel name and the " line haul boats ", which ran down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers became Ohio Barge Line ( 1941- 1985). When I started at OBL in the mid 1970's many of the Mates, Pilots and Captains that I worked with had been deckhands and Mates on these Carnegie Steel boats.
In 1945 there were as many steam sternwheel boats operating as there were diesel boats. In 1949 there were still 42 sternwheelers ( J&L alone had eleven of them ) running on the Allegheny Mon and upper Ohio. By 1953 there were 10, five owned by US Steel, Consol Coal and Crucible each still operated two and Ohio Barge Line still had one sternwheeler working. OBL 's last steamboat, a steam propeller vessel, ran until 1963. History is not that far behind us, just look over your shoulder and there it is.

This is the Str. La BELLE of the Wheeling Steel Corp. downbound at Fredericktown.

The CHARLES R. COX of US Steel downbound at Rices Landing. Her roof bell is now on display at the Monongahela River Buffs Museum

The Str. ADAM JACOBS at Brownsville in 1895. Owned by the Pittsburgh Brownsville & Geneva Packet Co. she regularly ran between these places. She was built at Brownsville in 1885.
This was one huge boat, over 200 feet long. Click on the pic and it will enlarge to actual size.......... just kidding.

The W.P.Snyder Jr. at Marietta

Fortunately for us there is a wonderfully preserved example of a Monongahela River towboat at Marietta Ohio. The Str. W.P. SNYDER JR. is docked there at the Ohio River Museum. The museum has a large and fine collection of river artifacts but their jewel is this vessel. She is exactly as she was in the old days and you can wander over her at your own pace and see how they lived and worked on the river on this Carnegie Illinois and later Crucible Steel owned boat. I'm glad they saved one of these unique vessels, she is the only surviving coal-fired, steam-powered sternwheeler towboat in the US not to mention the only pool boat. The smoke stacks on all the pool boats were made to be tilted back to clear low bridges and the pilot house was built on the forward end of the cabin rather than on top of the roof. They evolved to fit the needs of the river and locks in terms of power, size and draft. In the late 70's my wife and I first visited this boat at the museum. When I returned to work I was on the boat with Captain Leon Lyle of Pittsburgh, originally from Paducah, Ky. I had worked with him when he was a mate and he was of the old school and was as good a boatman as could be found on the river and I learned much from him. I was talking about how fascinating it was to visit the SNYDER. he said to me " I know that boat very well, I spent 10 years as Mate on her, just like you are Mate on here for me now. " For a complete description refer to her National Historic Landmark Nomination here.

Starboard Engine

The galley, not a lot of space to prepare food for 12 - 15 people.

The Str. W. P. SNYDER JR. was originally built as the Carnegie Steel Co. towboat W. H. CLINGERMAN in 1918 by Rees of Pittburgh, Pa. In 1938 she was renamed J. L. PERRY and in 1945 she was sold to Crucible Fuel Co. and again renamed as the W. P. SNYDER Jr. She towed coal on the Monongahela river for 35 years until she was laid up on September 23, 1953 at Crucible, Pa. In the summer of 1955 she was given to the Ohio Historical Society for exhibit at the Ohio River Museum of the Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen in Marietta, Ohio.

November 22, 2008

East Millsboro

I think this town is certainly part of Ten Mile Country. This is the company store at East Millsboro around 1907. On the right is the Monongahela Railroad ticket and freight office and Adams Express Company. My father was born in in this town in 1912 where his father was a miner. Hustead - Semans Coal and Coke Co. was part of Fayette County's J. V. Thompson cartel. They started their mine at East Millsboro in 1903. A trade magazine in 1910 stated it was a slope mine with 8 1/2 feet thickness, was a machine and pick mine and had a daily capacity of 1000 tons. By 1905 the coke works had over 100 beehive ovens with 100 more planned. 150 Men were employed inside and out in 1913. In 1920 Hillman bought it, as they did so many other mines .

preceeding images collection of the author

A different view of the company store from a real photo post card dated 1911. That could likely be a mine animal in the foreground. Of interest is the free standing East Millsboro station sign in front of the building.

collection of Pittsburgh History And Landmarks

East Millsboro children enjoying the Hustead Mine river tipple. I like to think that one of those boys up there could be my father in his youth.These two piers remain at East Millsboro. Now both are in the river because of the raising of the pool due to Maxwell Lock.

image from Fredericktown Then And Now by Bower

A panoramic view of East Millsboro shows the Hustead Mine river tipple and the company store on the far right. This was taken around 1910-1915. Note the packet boat moving downriver at Millsboro.

November 21, 2008


Jefferson Main Street 1866

Likely near the covered bridge at the railroad underpass. W.T. Hays was a photographer from Waynesburg who did a lot of work around Greene County.

This old Post Office was across the street from the present one. Jefferson's first Post Office was established in 1805.

From the History Of Education in Pennsylvania by J. P. Wickersham, 1886 : In the little town of Jefferson, Greene county, the Baptists of Southwestern Pennsylvania founded an institution of learning, in 1867, which was chartered under the name of Monongahela College, in 1871. The grounds consist of fourteen acres, and the buildings are comfortable though small. The endowment is $30,- 00O. Creditable progress has been made in securing apparatus and a library. The College admits both sexes, and several ladies occupy places in its faculty. The students number about seventy- five, only a few of whom are in the regular College course. Rev. H. R. Craig has been President from the first.The college did not make it long as a business and folded in the 1890's. In 1909 the Jefferson High School moved into the building.It was torn down in 1956.

Clicking this image opens a nice large map from Caldwells Atlas 1876

List Of Business 1876

Jefferson looking south, undated photo

Jefferson at one time had around 700 citizens. There was a grain mill, several tanneries, saddle shops,cooper shops, wagon maker shops, five saloons. It was a busy distributing center for the country trade. The Jeffersonian and Jefferson News delivered the latest news. It was often spoken of as the best place for the county seat, being on the main road between Rices Landing and Waynesburg, the two most important towns in the county. Colonel James Maxwell, a very prominent officer in the Revolution, is buried in the Presbyterian cemetery. When slack water was carried above Rices Landing and the Waynesburg & Washington Railroad was built to Waynesburg then the importance of Jefferson waned.


This is an 1902 banknote from the First National Bank of Millsboro Pa. This bank went out of business in the early 1930's.

Harry Brockway's Livery Stable at Millsboro Pa.

Millsboro's "taxable inhabitants" in 1859

George Bumgarner was the original patentee of the area now known as Millsboro, he applied in 1769 and it was granted in 1796. The town was laid out in 1809 and was, at first, a borough. In 1859 it had two stores, a foundry, three cooper shops, a public house, a steam grist mill, a saw mill, a cabinet and wagon manufactory, three churchs and 200 people.
This wooden crate once held 12 quarts of good Monongahela Whiskey made by the James Emery Distillery in Millsboro. The side reads " Established 1864 " though he was listed as a distiller as early as 1859. It was in 1867 that he erected a distillery just above the steamboat landing. It is believed to have stopped working in 1912. I was very excited to find this box years ago, it would probably be easier to find a bottle of the whiskey.

The Emery Distillery at the foot of Mill street in 1901, looking east.

image from W. Scott Bowers' Fredericktown Yesterday and Today

The Patch At Marianna

Marianna was a new town when this image was done about 1908. Judith Florian wrote a concise history of the town, she had this to say of the miners patch :
The houses were 4, 5 or 6 rooms; the largest were permanent for mine bosses, or owners who might need temporary lodging. The smaller homes were for miners, as well as a 14-room boarding house erected on the hillside behind the mine shafts. The homes were made of yellow-color bricks, fired at Johnetta Plant of the United States Sewer Pipe Company (also owned by the Jones' brothers), and shipped by rail to Marianna. Within a few months, this former farmland area became not just a town, but the "model mining town of the world." A 6-room house rented for $6.00 a month; this included free water supplied by a company-built water reservoir to process water from Ten Mile Creek, free electricity provided by the Power Plant, and garbage removal. Each residence had indoor hot water and bathrooms, town sewage treatment, natural gas, and "landscaping" of 1 tree in each front yard. A modern 3-story brick school-house and the Marianna Arcade building were built in 1910' the Arcade had a drug store, ice cream parlor, bowling alleys, billiard tables, dance floor/skating rink, reading/lecture room, and an indoor pool.
Many modern photos of the mine and patch can be found here in a super website done by Chris DellaMea. On the internet there is a lot of reading available on the mine, the explosion and the town in general.
A simple shelter for passengers at this end of the line town. Coal was the real moneymaker here.

Every brick in every house was made just this way, marked for the Pittsburg- Buffalo Company.

Dedication of the Arcade, July4, 1910.

Mary Ann Feehan Jones for whom Marianna was named.

Marianna School class in 1922

Sandy Plains And The Fairground

The fairground at Sandy Plains was a popular spot at the turn of the century. Cars and horses / buggy's can be seen. The Fair was first held in 1874, as many as 4,000 people attended in some years. It's hard to believe that there was this much activity there once. Opposite the entrance to the fairground was a large frame house that was for years operated as a hotel.
When I was growing up in the early 60's, we used to ride our bikes up from Clarksville to Ram Hardin's garage across the road from here and rent go carts to ride around the old racetrack. A baseball field was long in use there.

The last four images above are from the collection of Bill Hess of Millsboro

Sandy Plains was originally known as Racine, the name of the post office near the center of East Bethlehem Township. Among the first three original settlers of Washington County was Eberhart Hupp ( died 1824 at age 109 ). Most early history books on Washington County, Pennsylvania refer to the Hupp Family. Reports differ as to just when the Hupps came to the fork of Ten Mile Creek and the Monongahela River. The older published Washington County histories (Creigh, Crumrine, McFarland and Forrest) agree that the Hupps, Bumgarners and Teagardens were the earliest "recorded" (filed for land titles) settlers in the region. Crumrine says that Everhart Hupp, George Bumgarner and Abraham Teagarden came from Virginia together to the mouth of the Ten Mile Creek in 1766. He cites a specific grant of land to Hupp in 1766. He bought the land from the Indians for the sum of " one black mare and one rifle gun." These were later surveyed as Hupp's Regard (387 acres) and Hupp's Bottom (295 acres). The land begins about a quarter of a mile north of the Ten Mile Creek bridge on Route 88 near Millsboro, extending back into the hills to the north and west. Included is the present town of Besco and part of the hills above, up Hog's Hill road to Sandy Plains. Forrest says that Hupp built a blockhouse on the land in 1769.
Russell Bane, a descendant of the Hupps and Millsboro resident, believed that Everhart Hupp's cabin was on the high hill by the Route 88 bridge over Ten Mile Creek. This was in later years known as "the Point". Everhard Hupp's Mill is believed to have been on Black Dog Hollow. Everhard later purchased two tracts of land farther up Ten Mile Creek near the present village
of Ten Mile.
His wife Margaret was the first white woman west of the Monongahela River, she died at the age of 105.

The Mather Train Station And The Chartiers Southern Railway

The Mather station is actually in Jefferson, was built in 1919 and still looks pretty good today. It, while not being " preserved " is not deteriorating. Now that the leaves are gone I can see this building from my window.
The railroad that built it was the Chartiers Southern Railway, owned jointly by the Pennsylvania, Baltimore & Ohio and New York Central Railroads. It became part of the Monongahela Railway in 1926. It was of two disconnected branches, one between Besco and Mather ( finished 1919) and the other between Crucible and Nemacolin ( finished June 7, 1920 ). This image was taken by the Monongahela Railway in the 1930's, looking northwest. Partly visible is one of the PRR gas electric cars that later ran for mail, freight and light passenger service. All the equipment that ran was PRR or Monongahela Ry's. CS Ry never had their name on any engines or rolling stock. This was a rather large station for the line, at Clarksville there was only a small open sided shelter built to accommodate passengers. I have an original blueprint of this building dated 1919, it was Nov.1,1919 that the railroad reached Mather. This was the end of the line until track was opened to Waynesburg on Jan.1, 1930.
Just south of here, near Stoney Point, the track branched off and crossed Ten Mile on an iron bridge and on into the Mather Mine.

Mather Station March 2009, looking good for 90 years old, image by author

This 1922 map shows the two parts of the CS Ry with the track ending at Mather. Shown also is the proposed track connection with Marianna at Clarksville. This, never built, was to follow Ten Mile's north fork along the Washington County side, past the Yablonski house to Pump Station and on to Marianna.