COUNTY CHRONICLES, THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: A VIVID COLLECTION OF PENNSYLVANIA HISTORIES. 2010 by Ceane O'Hanlon-Lincoln. The fifth and final book in Ceane O'Hanlon-Lincoln's award-winning series of Pennsylvania histories has been released! Another winner for this author, it delivers even more of the thrilling true tales about the fascinating people, places and events that affected and shaped the "Keystone State." Written in easy-to-read conversational style, each chapter is a separate story. The author not only reveals the true history, but takes you there. She has visited each site in Pennsylvania about which she has written, and has added information crucial to today's traveler. With this volume, readers will be drawn to Pennsylvania's famed Horseshoe Curve in Altoona, the great circus train wreck of 1893, the world's first oil well near Titusville, and the town of Pithole--home of the "wickedest man in the world." Volume 5's up-close and personal look at Pittsburgh is a history, a who's who, and a tourist guide all in one. Of special note is a cozy chat with Pittsburgh's only woman mayor, the effervescent Sophie Masloff. Readers will enjoy chapters about the legendary Johnny Appleseed, a noble man with a noble quest; and Rachel Carson, who found the courage to brave the powerful chemical companies and the US Congress. The "Haunted Pennsylvania" chronicle is as captivating as it is chilling; and the story of Sallie, a Civil War canine mascot, will tug at the hearts of all. Readers may find themselves shedding a tear over "It Might Have Been, the Story of Billy Conn" as well as "They Came to America." This is only a sampling of the mysteries and adventures to be found in this volume. With every story, you won't be just reading history--you'll experience it.
COUNTY CHRONICLES, THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: A VIVID COLLECTION OF PENNSYLVANIA HISTORIES is a collectible hardbound edition that is limited to 1,000 numbered copies, each beautifully designed with cover art by award-winning artist Helen Alt.
246 pages, 7 x 10 hardbound.
Read excerpts from this volume below:
From the opening Chronicle: "When the horrific din of roar and thunder that was the accident quieted, the circus' animal cages lay smashed into kindling. A gigantic gorilla named Man-Slayer, lions, tigers, leopards, wild boars, elephants, and a myriad of other exotic creatures bellowed, roared, screamed and either lay helpless with shattered bones or leaped forth to liberty in the surrounding Pennsylvania woods."
From "The Valley that Changed the World!"
"Oil was the lifeblood of the town [of Pithole], and the place literally reeked with it. Oil was everywhere--in the cellars of buildings, in the water supply; it was in the streets, and seemed to hang in the very air, rendering Pithole folks fearful of even striking a match. Smoking in certain areas became a hanging offense. Despite that strong deterrent, explosions and fires were common, and in 1866, a series of fires burned disastrous. "In the town's numerous saloons, whiskey sold cheaply, but clean water was but a dream. Teetotalers had to travel a right-far distance to get a glass of good water or a cup of good-tasting tea, though a glass of what was supposed to be clear, fresh water sold dearly. Drunks and rowdies could be seen everywhere, spewing vile oaths and profanities as they stumbled about the mucky streets. The town had no sewage system; and refined newcomers, their hands rushing to cover their noses with elegant, lace-edged handkerchiefs, exclaimed that Pithole looked and smelled like a cesspool. "In spite of the filth, the place became a mecca for anyone seeking excitement, fast money and/or a new lease on life. Surprisingly, ugly, dirty, reeking Pithole did not lack the finer things of life. Hotels oozed luxury as the surroundings oozed oil, their windows decorated with elaborate hangings, their carpets glinting in the soft glow of gaslight with a sheen that whispered of silk. Theaters, hung with rich velvets and sparkling Tiffany chandeliers, staged Shakespearean plays; and, rough and tough though their audiences were, the actors played nightly in each to a full house."
From "Valley Forge, the Legend, Lore and Mystery"
"It was the week before Christmas, December 19, 1777. Snow was swirling in a savage north wind, and beneath the gloomy grey skies, George Washington's ragtag army--representing the hopes and strength of the new nation--trudged wearily over the wintry Pennsylvania countryside, up the narrow sloping Gulph Road, a rutted dirt trace that would lead them to their winter headquarters--to the forested plateau and forbidding high bluffs known locally as 'the Valley-Forge.' "Behind the marchers, some as young as twelve, others as old as sixty, lay a landscape of defeat. At Brandywine Creek then at Germantown, the motley force, who called themselves the Continental Army of the United States of America, had valiantly waged battle with George III's superior red-coated battalions--and lost. "As these wearied men and boys tramped along the Gulph Road, I can imagine that, like soldiers throughout the ages, the thoughts of many turned to home with the doleful prospect of being away from loved ones for an unknown spell."
From "Massy Harbison, Terror on the Frontier"
"In the twilight state between sleep and wakefulness, Massy remembered having her feet tugged hard, as someone roughly yanked her out of bed. Her eyes flew open to see the cabin crowded with Indians, their garishly painted appearance taking her breath, as though one of them had hit her hard in the gut. As in the most terrifying of dreams, for a few moments at least, she was stricken helpless and unable to move."
From "The Story of the 11th Pennsylvania's Sallie"
"Another notable thing about Sallie [the regiment's canine mascot] was that she carried herself with pride and dignity. Her bearing was almost what we might call 'regal.' During encampments, she slept by or in the captain's tent--after strolling through the entire area, making her own kind of camp inspection. She quickly learned the bugle and drum-rolls. At reveille, she was the first one out of quarters to attend roll-call. At drills, she stuck close to a particular soldier and pranced alongside him throughout the exercise. At dress-parade, she took up a prominent position beside the proud regimental colors. Sallie was something to behold! "Growing up with the men of the regiment, Sallie became a comrade-in-arms, sharing the marches, the hardships, the extremes of weather, even the dangers of war. "Her first major battle came in 1862 at Cedar Mountain. She dynamically entered the fray with the men, steadfastly remaining close to the 11th Pennsylvania's colors throughout the engagement. In fact, she remained in close proximity to the flag bearer in each action, at bloody Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. In the heat of the battles in which Sallie participated, she would race around the front line, barking ferociously, snarling and flashing her teeth at the grey and butternut-clad enemy. "I suppose no one thought to send the little dog to the rear during a fight, for she was the regiment's spirit--their inspiration. And I seriously doubt she would have stayed in the rear anyway. For all her loving ways, Sallie could be a scrapper; that much is for certain. "One story survives that, during the intensity of one particular battle, when a panicked soldier of the 11th tried to skulk away, the bull terrier sunk her notable teeth into his leg, forcing him back into the fight.
"In a review of the Union Army in the spring of 1863 at Falmouth, Virginia, Sallie marched with her prancing feet in step beneath the colors and alongside the parading men of the 11th Pennsylvania. An extremely tall man in the very center of the review stand caught sight of the little dog. Immediately, a twinkle sparked in his dark eyes, and he raised his stovepipe hat in salute. In that notable manner did President Abraham Lincoln pay special acknowledgment to the Old Eleventh's canine mascot.
"In the summer of that same year, Sallie made the long march from Virginia to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, with her regiment. During the first day's fighting of the pivotal three-day battle, when the Union line collapsed, the 11th Pennsylvania was driven back from their original position on Oak Ridge and into the town. The men of the unit staggered through Gettysburg to Cemetery Hill, where they reformed and counted their losses. Among the missing was Sallie.
"In the confusion and smoke of the battle or the retreat, Sallie had become lost. Three days later, when medical and burial details moved onto the battlefield, a captain of the 12th Massachusetts, Benjamin F. Cook, discovered the courageous dog. Tired, hungry and thirsty, Sallie had wandered out to where her brave comrades had fought and died, somehow managing to find her way back to the 11th Pennsylvania's original position on Oak Ridge. There, she kept a stalwart vigil of the wounded, licking their injuries and guarding the dead of her unit, so that no Confederate could rob or disturb the bodies." From "It Might Have Been--the Story of Billy Conn"
"With a broad grin, Billy met (a recovered) [Joe] Louis at mid-ring. The dancing had stopped as the two fighters circled each other like two cats--big, powerful cats, ready to pounce.
"A minute into round thirteen, Billy moved in for the kill with a terrific combination, a dozen or more punches ferociously launched, most finding their mark. Still Joe remained standing like an unmovable force, his right cocked, waiting--patiently waiting--for the opening he knew he would get.
"When it came, Billy was hitting Louis with a left to the body, then one to the head that allowed the champ the chance he had been waiting for. Bam! With lightning speed, Louis delivered a devastating right to Billy¿s head that visibly stunned him. Bewilderment instantly vanquished the confident look on Conn¿s face, as his knees buckled, and he fell back against the ropes with Joe in hot pursuit.
From "They Came to America, Echoes from our Past"
"Once on Ellis Island, the immigrants lined up in front of the doors of the main processing building. Before setting sail from their native lands, the ships' crew had prepared lists of all their passengers, including steerage, detailing information about each. By use of these manifest lists or simply 'manifests,' immigrants waiting to enter the immigration center were divided into groups of thirty, tagged and labeled.
"Inside was an imposing stairway that led to the processing area. Immigrants could leave heavy baggage on the crowded floor downstairs (if they dared) before heading upstairs to the Registry Room. "A great many prayers were uttered here. If we could somehow reverse time, we would hear the length of that historic stairway--a litany of pleas in Gaelic, Italian, Slovak, Hungarian, Polish, German, Romany, Yiddish, etc., to watch over luggage, to blind officials to flaws, and enlighten them to virtues."
From "They Came to America!"
"You won't find the names of their pioneer and immigrant ancestors in typical history books, but, dear readers, you will most certainly find them in mine. A cross section of the people who get overlooked and lost to history are the people I am presenting to you in this Chronicle--just everyday folks who had their own poignant stories to tell.
"These unsung heroes were not perfect. Like the heroes you will find in conventional histories, these unacclaimed, obscure heroes possessed weaknesses and faults along with their strengths, because they were not demigods; they were human. And like their conventional history counterparts, they shared common denominators of courage and perseverance. "Though most of these family stories are about immigrants who passed through the portals of Ellis Island, a few are family tales of pioneers. Pioneers and immigrants alike carried with them from the old countries their traditions, their foods, their music, and their tried-and-true home remedies. These facets of their homelands helped sustain them as they adjusted to their new country.
"The word 'pioneer' always evokes images of hard work. Americans pushing westward labored hard to conquer forests, mountains, prairies, and rivers. They battled Indians, sicknesses, and the elements to own the land they worked. I have related throughout the preceding volumes of my COUNTY CHRONICLES stories of heroic pioneer women struggling to sustain family and home by working long hours under the most trying conditions. "Work. That word is totally unavoidable when discussing these early Americans. The Native Americans too worked hard, to hold on to their lands and the old ways, and later to assimilate into the American fabric of life.
"After the Civil War, America became a land of immigrants. And ponder this, readers, these were the most daring and energetic members of the nations from which they emigrated. "They did not come here thinking they would be idle. Jobs--work--the chance for a better life for themselves and their children is what drew them in such great numbers. Even those who fled the old countries to escape religious or social oppression came to seek work in America's industrial revolution. Immigrants infused the American ideology with the virtue and efficacy of hard work. Like the pioneers, immigrants to America endured many hardships. Pay was minimal; working conditions were poor and often dangerous, and health and death benefits were non-existent. "This bright tapestry of ethnic peoples created the great melting pot that is America, the very first of which was our own noble commonwealth of Pennsylvania. These courageous trailblazers are the true 'stuff of legends'--the 'stuff of America.' These were the people who molded this country and made it strong! They and their descendents are the reason America endures!"
From "This is Pittsburgh!"
"Fresh off the boat, immigrants didn't need to speak English to use a shovel or tote a heavy load of pipes. Tchekai, the Slavic word for 'Watch out!' often reverberated through the hot-end of Pittsburgh-area steel mills when a crane was taking a huge ladle of hot metal overhead--And oh, a ladle of liquid steel was a lovely terror!--or when torrid, red-hot cinder was shooting out of a gaping furnace door. After a while, even English-speaking workers began to shout the strident warning. Tchekai was a word that cried out to the ears of Slavic workers in their sleep." To read about the author, go to:
www.mechlingbooks.com/chronicles.html. For reviews, click on "Reviews" at bottom of that page.