A friendly resource of information
encompassing parts of Westmoreland,
Fayette, and Somerset Counties in
Southwestern Pennsylvania

Chestnut Ridge Historical Society Inc. 1698 State Route 711, P.O. Box 242
Stahlstown, PA 15687
- Office: 724-593-3102

Join us at Our Monthly Meeting on the third Tuesday of each month, at 7pm!
Meeting Details
Past Events

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of Excellent Photos of the Past!

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

CRHS News!
...to keep you up to date!

*See our Sponsors

September 19, 2017 Meeting Details!

Our Speaker will be Boy Scout Alex Heide.
The Headline in the Mount Pleasant Journals reads: "A Mt. Pleasant Boy Scout's dream is one step closer to becoming a reality after a Mount Pleasant Borough Council meeting. Alex Heide, an eighth grader at Mt. Pleasant and member of Troop 133, presented his Eagle Scout project proposal that would see a team of volunteers build a flag retirement area at Willow Park." Alex will elaborate on this acheivement!

As Always, the Public is Welcome to Attend!
(no charge)

CRHS will be participating in
Donegal's 150th Anniversary,
Stahlstown Diorama Open House,
and LHTD Broadband's Customer
Appreciation Day.

No Meeting in August - see below...

There will be no meeting the month of August., as we will be participating in Donegal's 150th Anniversary,  Stahlstown Diorama Open House, and LHTC Customer Appreciation Day.

More details to follow...

Meeting information...(July 18, 2017)

Seth Meyers, a National Park Service Intern, was the guest speaker at the  recent Chestnut Ridge Historical Society meeting.    Seth explained that he will not be able to wear the official  park ranger hat until he completes his internship.  He shared the history of the National Park Service which was founded in 1916.  It had its beginnings much earlier, when Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir had the dream of preserving the natural wonders of the United States.   John Muir, a famous and influential naturalist is known as " The Father of National Parks".  Seth's slide presentation was mostly of the Western National Parks, however Pennsylvania has 19 National Parks and 167 National Historic Sites, Memorials, and Battlefields.   Within a fifty mile radius,  we have access to five of them. ( Fort Necessity, Friendship Hill, Johnstown Flood Museum, Allegheny Portage Rail Road Site, and Flight 93, )    Some of the sites do charge an admission, however, if you are aged 62 and a US citizen, you can apply for a lifetime senior pass for $10. before August.28th   After August 28,2017 the price of the America the Beautiful senior lifetime pass will increase to $80.00  No this is not a misprint.   Seth was unable to explain the drastic increase and encouraged everyone interested in purchasing a pass to visit a park that sells them.(all parks do not) or purchase one online at www.NationalParkService.gov before August 28th.

June's meeting information...(June 20, 2017)

Jim Kail, CEO of the Laurel Highland Telecommunication Company was the speaker at the Chestnut Ridge Historical Society monthly meeting..  He shared the history of the company which was founded in 1908  in Stahlstown, by a small group of local citizens.  Mr.Kail, having an accounting background, came to the company about 15 years ago and upon the retirement of the president, stepped into the position of CEO.   Since that time, the company has continued to expand the service area and now employs more than 60 employees.   They now provide fiber-to the-home service to over 3500 customers.  Their service area has also expanded to the Yukon and Scranton area of PA and to the Fairmont, WV area.   Cable TV, telephone, and internet service is not their only business.  They also have acquired several radio stations.(Latrobe for one)  Working within the PUC and FCC regulations, the company has been very successful.  The most recent expansion has been the purchase of the "Cady Shack" property in Donegal Twp.   The plans are to improve the facility and use some of the property to construct a  more central office building.   In conclusion, he stated that LHTC provides scholarships to many students attending area high schools.  He attributes the company's success to "treating our customers right and treating our employees right".   LHTC will be showing that at their  10th annual "Customer Appreciation Day" on August 26th at the Flax Scutchin' Grounds in Stahlstown.   The audience responded by saying that it was nice to see a small local company grow and be successful.

...Anyone, Anyone...?
Does anyone have a FIRST EDITION
Chestnut Ridge Historical Society THROW
from many years ago?
The First Edition THROW portrayed
Brown's Store, Plank Road School,
County Line Church, Sparks Supply, etc.
Seeking Original Throw issued for sale by CRHS

CRHS is requesting that anyone who has
to please contact us. If those Original Version
CRHS Throws (now second-hand) would be
available to CRHS, it would be appreciated.
CRHS has had several requests
for second-hand throws.
Seeking Original Throw issued for sale by CRHS

James' Story Corner

...sharing Extraordinary Bits of History
of Local Families!

James G. Kunkle, Local Historian

 by J. G. Kunkle


July 1953, the Pennsylvania Turnpike was haunted by a phantom. No, it was not a Indian Ghost from around Laurel Hill tunnel it was a serial killer who prayed on sleeping truckers on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. His name was John Wesley Wable. He murdered 2 truckers and the 3rd trucker was wounded but survived. It triggered a massive interstate man hunt for the next three months by State Police. It changed forever how and where truckers pulled over for a rest. Here is the article from Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans

"On July 26, 1953, truck driver Lester Woodward was shot in the head and killed as he slept in his truck, parked along the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Irwin. Two days later, trucker Harry Pitts died in identical circumstances, parked near the turnpike's Donegal interchange. On July 31, John Shepperd suffered a head wound while sleeping in his truck on Route 30, east of Lisbon, Ohio, within twelve miles of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. 

Unlike the first two victims, Shepperd managed to survive. Detectives had their pattern, now: three truckers, ambushed in their sleep, each shot with the same .32-caliber weapon. 

All they needed was a suspect, but when he initially confessed, investigators shrugged it off and set him free, continuing their aimless manhunt for the turnpike phantom. On October 9, police in Cleveland publicly announced that 24-year-old John Wable had been jailed on August 8, delivered to police from Uniontown on charges of felonious assault. In Uniontown, he eagerly confessed the turnpike shootings to a jailer, but authorities dismissed him as a "screwball" and returned him to the streets. Belated all-points bulletins were issued on October 10, and Wable was arrested two days later, by police in Albuquerque. Back in jail, the suspect now denied involvement in the crimes, although he did admit possession of the murder weapon. It was sold, he claimed, to an anonymous Cleveland resident, shortly before the series of shootings began. Authorities responded with announcements that Wable had signed statements implicating himself in the murders, and formal indictments were issued on November 14, 1953

Convicted in the death of Harry Pitts on March 13, 1954, Wable was formally sentenced to death nine months later. He died in Pennsylvania's electric chair on September 26, 1954."


During the Murder Trial, as reported in the Connellsville Courier March 8, 1954, the testimony of Toll Taker Joseph C. Kunkle Sr. of Donegal placed Wable on the turnpike at the time of the murder. Joe testified he paid the 15 cents toll for Wable to exit the turnpike. In those days the toll from New Stanton to Donegal was 15 cents. After that my grandfather always carried a hammerless 38 revolver in his pocket (which came into my possession following my dad death in 2002 rusty, but still a priceless heirloom. Joe Sr. was a school teacher by day and afternoons a toll taker at Donegal Exit Pa. Turnpike. He was responsible for counting the money from the Toll Booths at Donegal. Knowing my grandpap, it does not seem that uncommon for him to help someone who said they had no money. But I recall an article from the Ligonier Echo around 1925-1926 that told how Joe Kunkle had won the waffle eating contest at the Football Banquet at Ligonier. When I told this story to the guys I worked with, one of them said he did not know my grandpap but one thing he did know was that the waffles were FREE.     

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of Excellent Photos of the Past!

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Open Saturday: 10am to 2pm
Wednesday: 11:00am to 3:00pm

CRHS Cook Book
Only $10.00!

Our CRHS Cook Book
is now available
for only $10.00!

It is plum full of great recipes
from our members.
Pick up your copy at the center
on Wednesdays or Saturdays
at a cost of only $10.

These CookBooks make great gifts too.
Great Gift!
Give this Great Cookbook!

Thank all of you for your great response
regarding this great CRHS project!

CRHS Throw with
Historical Throw Companion Booklet

(Reg. $27.50) NOW Only $25.00
(Limited choice of colors)

Click to see enlarged image!

CRHS Throw with Historical Throw Companion Booklet: Softcover 31 page booklet containing
a brief history of the illustrations depicted
on the throw.

This beautiful heirloom throw was designed and commissioned by the Chestnut Ridge Historical Society. Woven with pride in the United States by Mill Creek Design from We Love Country Inc., the two-layered, 100 percent cotton Jacquard is color-fast and preshrunk. Measuring approximately 50 inches by 70 inches, the throw is fringed on all four sides and is machine washable.

The 14 illustrations provide but a brief glimpse of the historical richness of the area that we of the Chestnut Ridge Historical Society are dedicated to preserve.

Many Thanks to Our CRHS Business Members
who support our Chestnut Ridge Historical Society!

We appreciate your memberships and your offered resources.

Brady's Restaurant

Champion Lumber Company Inc.

Charles Z. Keslar Agency Inc.

Connie Dennison, Tax Preparer

David W. Sadler  Erie Insurance Agency

Donegal Auto Body

Donegal Dairy Queen

Fay-West Copier Service

Foggy Mountain Lodge & Restaurant

Gearhart Electrical Contractors

Harbor Inn Restaurant

Highlands Heating Inc.

Hoffer's Ligonier Valley Packing

Jerry Temple Tire & Auto Services

King & Guiddy Law Office

Laurel Highland Total Communciation Inc.

Laurel Valley Hardware Inc.

Loyalhanna Veterinary Clinic Inc.

Main Street Wine Bar

Old General Store

S&S Communications Service Inc.

Sarnelli's Corner Market

Shari Bukovac Bookeeping

Somerset Trust Bank

The Country Pie Shoppe

Whispering Pines Antiques


Of the 67 Counties of the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,
we maintain historical data for
part of the Southwestern Region

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Our CRHS Newsletter,
"Down Memory Lane", is now available!
Newsletters are available at the Office, or if you
become a Member, then a Newsletter is mailed!

Our Mission
The Chestnut Ridge Historical Society is dedicated to
collecting and preserving the oral and written history and
artifacts of a portion of the Laurel Mountains that is
known as the Chestnut Ridge!

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