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

Join Us on Facebook and see lots
of Excellent Photos of the Past!

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

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

*See our Sponsors

Attend our June20th Meeting
(click here for meeting details)

Our speaker for June is Jim Kail of Laurel Highland Communications. He will be speaking of all of the changes that have been happening in the telephone, cable and internet business world and how they affect residents' services.

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

Last month's meeting information...(May 16, 2017)

Thomas Beck, a local author and writer was the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Chestnut Ridge Historical Society.   Tom is a Registered Nurse, having retired from Excela Frick Hospital as a Nursing Supervisor after several years of dedicated service.   Having more spare time, he has devoted some of it to writing poetry and has authored several books.   He read some of his poetry to the audience and brought tears to some of their eyes as memories of loved ones were renewed.  He also shared excerpts of his books and shared how he became interested in writing, the process of having it edited, and published.  He encouraged prospective writers  in the group to"keep a pencil and pad handy and write down things as they come to you, before forgetting it."  Mr. Beck is a member of the Ligonier Writers Association, the Mount Pleasant Writers Group, and the Foothills Writers. Mr. Beck has a web blog: www.thomasbeck.blogspot.com

The guest speaker at the Chestnut Ridge Historical Society meeting in April was Bruce Shirey. Bruce is the past president of the Balzer Meyer Historical Society and presently a very active member in the Latrobe Historical Society. His presentation included an interesting power point show of old pictures of before and after the construction of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Donegal was a "bedroom community" until the turnpike came into the picture. Men became employed and Donegal became a town of motels and service stations overnight. The audience interaction was interesting since some of their fathers had been employed by the contractors who built the "super highway". One fact, that is hard to believe, is that the original road was built from Irwin to Carlisle with seven tunnels through the mountains in two years at a cost of fifty million dollars.

CRHS members Dennis and Kathy Ulery spent some of their winter in Plains, Georgia, volunteering at the Jimmy Carter Library. It was an extremely interesting time and was a lot of fun too!

CRHS Fundraiser at Brady's Restaurant

Saturday June 10th at 6:00pm!

Dinner and Patsy Cline Tribute Show!

Featuring Cathi Rhodes as "PATSY CLINE"

Tickets: $25.00 Per Person
Includes Dinner, Show, Tax & Tips!

Only 90 Tickets are available and must be acquired
in-advance. Please call 724-593-7943 for details!

Chestnut Ridge Historical Society

Our Next Bus Trip will be
on W
ednesday, July 19th, 2017

Two Buses have been Chartered since
the first bus filled up fast and our
waiting list became large enough to
order a second bus!

The buses are filling up fast, so get
your name on the list to Tom Dix
as soon as possible.

The $100.00 will be due by June 19. 2017

Mail to: 
Tom Dix
3913 Route 31
Jones Mills, PA 15646

More information or questions, call
724-593-2497 or 724-423-3802

Join us for another
Great Bus Trip!
Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

We will be going to Ohio Amish Country to
see a Play at the OHIO STAR THEATER
in Sugar Creek, Ohio, (Reserved Seats)
"Home Game".

 We will also be visiting a Candle-Maker
at Schrock's Village, and then have our
evening meal at Der Dutchman
Restaurant in Walnut Creek.
$100.00 per person includes:
Bus Fare, Reserved Seats at the Play,
Dinner, Tax and Tip!
(Payment due: June 19, 2017)

We will be picking up at Peebles in
Mt. Pleasant at 5:30am and
Donegal Community Center at 6:00am.
For more information:
Call Tom Dix at 724-593-2497 or
Call Gerry Marks at 724-423-3802

...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.     

Join Us on Facebook and see lots
of Excellent Photos of the Past!

New Members are always welcome! 
Sign up today so you don’t miss out on what is happening next at CRHS.

Click Here for a Membership Application to print, fill out, and send in with your membership dues.
Our Application is an "All-in-One Form" with instructions for Individuals, Couples or Businesses



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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