Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Good Old Days In Brockwayville

Brockwayville*Snyder Township*Jefferson County
CLICK TO ENLARGE - Down town Brockwayville: PA Family Old Photos

Husband In The Dog House: One Odd Fellow was in big trouble after his wife read the local newspaper. The previous Saturday, George Clinton attended boys night out at the lodge. While the newspaper didn't say what it was exactly that he ended up in Clarion with, they made sure to mention that he and it spent the night as well.  1879

The House Of Ill Reputation: Normally when new people moved to town introductions began with a fresh baked apple pie and handshakes from the neighbors. This was not the case when Dominic Morelli arrived, bringing trouble with him. He made a home in the abandoned dwelling by the railroad tracks. Sometimes the ladies who lived with him sauntered down the street, scantily dressed. Mothers could be seen covering their children eyes as the harlots passed by. Buggies driven by drunken strangers hooting and hollering made the nights less peaceful in town, and they were always coming and going from the Morelli place. Townspeople stuck together back then, and they could smell trouble in the new red light district. A plan to run them out of town was carried out, late one night just after the party started. Tom Myers, Marty Smith, Joe Allen & William Clark hid in the weeds along the track, long cables in hand.  AJ Cooper, the train conductor, drove his train towards town extra slow... and as he neared there were men waiting. They harnessed cables to the locomotive, and the other end to the bawdy house, and Cooper continued on his route, inching forward. A loud crack was heard, beams began to move, and suddenly naked ladies and drunken men were rushing out of every exit. Seconds later the house pulled up from the foundation and its contents tossed in the air and smashing to the ground... including barrels of illegal whiskey which broke and poured out. Needless to say, Morelli took off that night along with his tribe, and was never heard from again. Problem solved and peace was restored in town. 1884

Click to enlarge - Photo from West2K
                                Mysterious Package: 

A B.R.&P. train entered the depot, and package handlers began tossing them out. One package seemed to shake as it was lifted, then suddenly the sounds of wailing were coming from inside. The handler was shocked, and quickly unwrapped the box.  Inside was a very tiny baby boy, swaddled in cloth. An investigation into the matter confirmed the infant was loaded and shipped from an unknown sender in Ridgway to an unknown receiver in Brockway. Unfortunately that was all the could be proven. It was said that the little one was adopted by a local family. 1891

Clay Problems: May came in carrying rain, rain, and more rain. part of Brockwayville was under water. A farm owned by Web Johnson and also the old Anderson farm were pretty much diluted. When things dried up in May, much of the soil from those two farms had been washed away and slightly reddish and very heavy dirt was in it's place. It was confirmed that the flood unearthed massive clay deposits, which was somewhat disappointing at first. Later the land would prove to be valuable as the Clay plant was eventually established in the locale. 1890

The Enormous Elm: Lumbermen cut the giant Elm tree located at the edge of town measuring a whopping 6 feet in diameter and almost 19 feet in circumference. 110 feet tall 24 perfect logs were cut from the massive sapling and the lumber sold for $87.69. In comparison, nowadays the profit would be about $2,500.00. 1897

Click to enlarge - ME Church
From Pa Family Old Photos
Poisonous Treat: An ice cream festival was held at Walburn run, just outside of town, to benefit the ME Church. Soon after the tasty frozen treat was served, 25 guests became violently ill with cramps and other heightened flu like symptoms. A physician was called, who arrived and quickly went to work. The families of John Anderson, Mrs. Mary miller, and Mrs. Starr were the most seriously affected, and there was little hope for recovery. Apparently an ex member of the Church had become disgruntled over not being invited, and had laced the ice cream with arsenic. 1903

No Need For A Curfew In Town: An unusually large black panther had apparently taken up residency in the area. In the evenings just after dark, the large cat was seen strolling through town and lapping up water from a puddle that always seemed to form in from of the post office. When the snow began to fall, the panther must have moved on because it wasn't seen again after December. 1909

Brave Men Rewarded: 32 acts of heroism were rewarded by the Carnegie Hero Fund Association in May. Four of the chosen were locals, who tried to save a fellow co worker, Michelo Rubio, when he was trapped under falling rocks at the West Clarion Mines near Brockwayville. Guiseppe Petrucelli was killed in the process, and his two sisters each received $250 in death benefits, and his brother was given a bronze medal. Vincenzo Stefanelli also lost his life, and his father received $500 and a bronze medal in his honor. Frances DeSantis escaped, and received $1000 towards a home and a bronze medal. Last, but not least, William Harris also made it out alive and received a bronze medal and $1000 towards a home. 1910

The Black Hand Society Gang Pays A Visit To Local Businessmen: 
Members of the Black Hand Society paid a visit to a couple of local business owners that didn't meet their demands. The first was Mr Charles Volsted, who owned a bakery in town and lived above the business with his wife and baby girl. In the previous weeks he had received letters demanding $500 with threats that if he didn't comply, a terrible death for the baker and his family would follow. He didn't pay up, but was still mindful of the dangerous threats, sending his wife and daughter to a safe place until things smoothed over. One bitter cold evening in February, Mr. Volsted was fast asleep when masked men broke in and viciously attacked him, tied him to the bed, and ransacked the place. When they didn't find any money, the blackhanders lit the store on fire and headed to the next mam who didn't pay up... Mr. Samuel Manning, a local brewery agent. He also chose not to meet the demands of the gang, which for him was $250. The masked men found him and Mr. manning was brutally stabbed and left in the road clinging to life. Fortunately after he was found and taken to the hospital, Mr. manning lived, though his injuries pretty severe. As for Mr. Volsted, he was lucky too. When the flames came up through the floorboards of his 2nd story home, he was able to burn his bindings. He drug himself towards the window and crawled onto the roof. When firefighters arrived he was rescued, taken to the hospital, and received treatment for his wounds including 2nd and 3rd degree burns. After that, I'm not sure what became of Mr. Volksted, his family, and Mr. Manning, but the Blackhanders moved on to other communities with their reign of terror. 1911

Giant Shooting Star: The sky lit up one evening in March, and what looked like a giant piece of flaming coal flew through the sky, landing just outside of town. People rushed to the scene, curious about the strange site. As some locals gathered around, a meteor about 3 feet wide began to burrow in the ground, disappearing. Within no time the only thing left was a crater about 6 feet wide. 1921

There were many wonderful inventions that were patented by locals. 
The earliest one I found was the invention of a method to reverse reacting rotary engines. The inventor, Charles Melville Miles, was granted a patent on September 4, 1849.
Two diagrams below are from the Us Patent Office, both from local inventors. 
Diagrams from US Patent Office Records

Click On News Articles & Photos to enlarge...

Stay tuned for old stories from Brockway...
and also the ghost towns of Snyder Township.

Thank you for reading!