I visited the Bridgeville Area History Center this week to borrow a copy of the 1907 R. L. Polk Business Directory for Bridgeville in support of one of my projects – a series of maps of Washington Avenue down through the years. I am starting with the Sanborn 1906 Insurance map as a source and wanted to identify the commercial institution at each street address.
As soon as I entered the building it was obvious something special was happening. As it turned out, a gentleman named Ron Jesiolowski had just brought in an intriguing artifact, hoping someone there could help him identify it. Mr. Jesiolowski is a recent arrival from the North Hills area, who is enjoying taking advantage of the hiking trails in Boyce-Mayview Park.
While walking his dog recently on the “Between Two Worlds” trail he went off on a side trail leading to Chartiers Creek where he found a mysterious artifact, a small monument with strange figures inscribed on it. It is about ten inches tall with a square base, four gently sloping sides, and a small roughly square top.
Three of the four sides contain primitive images of people; apparently a man, a woman, and a child. The heads of the two adult figures are missing; the upper part of the monument has broken off or worn off. The “man” might well be a (legal?) alien, or even a yeti. The “woman” might be a Scotsman wearing a kilt. The “child” might be a gnome with a Van Dyke beard, or a hobbit.
The fourth side has a very neatly inscribed Latin cross, with four circles, one in each quadrant. There is a dramatic difference in it as compared to the other three; it would not necessarily be classified as primitive.
The historical experts who were examining it came up with innovative suggestions as to its origin. Lou Delach opined that he would vote for an alien origin if it weren’t for the cross. Dick Gaetano wondered if it might be a cemetery marker.
Another possibility is that it was a surveyor’s monument, marking the corner of someone’s property. Or is it somehow related to the Mayview County Home?
My modest research into the cross and four circles has determined that this is a symbol sacred to an Inuit tribe on Baffin Island, or alternatively a basic part of the Hopi creation legend in the Four Corners region, or even a possible variation of the Crusaders’ Cross.
At any rate Mr. Jesiolowski left the monument at the History Center, to be carefully cared for by the volunteers there. It warrants a visit to the Center for anyone interested in helping resolve this mystery.
Another visitor at the History Center while I was there was Dr. Adam Greer. His firm, Greer Chiropractic & Rehabilitation, recently purchased the old Bridgeville Trust Company building and is in the process of renovating it prior to moving their practice from Taylor Way (off Hickman Street) into its new location. There is an excellent article on “Bridgeville.org” discussing this recent development.
Dr. Greer was interested in information dealing with the history of the building. A quick visit to the files yielded a fat folder filled with old photographs and articles which served his purpose perfectly. The value of the History Center as a resource for people interested in local history cannot be exaggerated.
Incidentally, his decision to locate his prosperous practice in the heart of Bridgeville’s business district is a very positive bit of news. To quote Tim McNellie’s article on “Bridgeville.org”, it is “symbolic of what Bridgeville can be in the 21st century—a modern business center standing firmly on a foundation established many, many decades ago.”
Based on what I have been able to determine, Whiskey Rebellion celebrations will be back this summer, on a reduced level. The Festival in Washington, Pa. will be limited to entertainment on a single day, July 10, and no vendors. The Woodville Experience will have an encampment of Wayne’s Legion, with a re-enactment of the Bower Hill encounter on July 18. They hope to be able to bring back Market Faire in 2022. Also on July 18 the Oliver Miller Homestead will present a program depicting the encounter between Marshal Lenox and William Miller, the incident that precipitated the Rebellion.
I am pleased that near-normalcy has allowed these celebrations to return. I hope that the three different venues can coordinate their efforts next summer and produce an outstanding Whiskey Rebellion Festival. It is an important part of our heritage, a perfect opportunity for us history buffs to revel in it.
Things do appear to be opening up slowly on all fronts. The Chamber Music at Old Saint Luke’s concert series is coming back live in September. So is the Second Saturday Civil War Series at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall. The Pittsburgh Symphony will launch its season on September 24, Helene Grimaud playing the Ravel G Major Piano Concerto. And how about the Pittsburgh Opera and “Magic Flute” in November?
It is almost too good to be true; I am not going to discard my boxes of masks yet. Despite my claiming that the pandemic was little more than an inconvenience for me, I must admit I have missed all these events.
We certainly have the best of both worlds here in the Chartiers Valley – institutions like the Bridgeville History Center, the Woodville Experience, Old St. Luke’s, the Oliver Miller Homestead, and the Carnegie Carnegie – and easy access to the cultural district and sports venues in Pittsburgh.