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!

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May 16, 2017 Meeting Details

Topic: "My Writings and Books"

Our speaker will be Thomas Beck, a retired RN
who writes books and articles for the
Ligonier Valley Writer's Group.
Ligonier Valley Writers is a non-profit writers group
in Southwestern Pennsylvania which encourages
interest in the written word and the continued
perfecting of the art and craft of writing.

Mr. Beck has a web blog: www.thomasbeck.blogspot.com
Cook Township Community Center - 7 pm.

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. The next meeting will be May 16th and the speaker will be Thomas Beck who will be sharing his writings and books with us. 
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!


Chestnut Ridge Historical Society
Filled - call in case of cancellation!
Bus Tri
p to Gateway Clipper!
W
ednesday, May 3rd, 2017


The bus is filling up fast, so get your
name on the list to Tom Dix
as soon as possible.
 
The cost will be $90.00 per person
and it will include the bus fare,
bus driver's tip, admission and
the guided tour of Heinz History
Center, and the dinner/cruise
on the Gateway Clipper


.
The $90.00 will be due by April 3. 2017

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

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

Our bus for May 3rd is filled
and we are taking "waiting list"
names in case of cancellations.


We will be going to the Heinz History
Center in Pittsburgh, for a guided tour
and then board the Gateway Clipper
for a dinner cruise.

   We will be leaving Peebles' Parking
Area at Country Side Plaza at 10:00am,
and Chestnut Ridge Community Center
  (formerly Donegal Community Center)
at 10:30am

We will be stopping for "brunch" in New
Stanton and then onto Pittsburgh. Our
guided tour will begin at 1:00 (The group
will be divided into 2 groups). The tour
will last for over an hour and then we
will be free to meander in the museum
and gift shop on our own.

We will leave there to board our bus
to go to the Gateway Clipper
.
We will Board at 4:00pm and have
dinner at 5:00pm. We will probably
leave for home by 7:00pm

*Remember to bring a jacket as
early May might be pretty cool on
the upper deck)


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
to OHIO AMISH COUNTRY!


The bus will be 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

Get Ready 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)

Boarding details will be
posted shortly....




...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
the FIRST EDITION of the CRHS THROW,
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



“THE TURNPIKE PHANTOM”
 by J. G. Kunkle

“THE TURNPIKE PHANTOM”

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 Ligoni