Tag Archives: Beaver County

Darling Darlington

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Just minutes from our home sits the small town of Darlington, population 249. Darlington is one of those one-horse towns that are frequently driven through but rarely visited. Currently Darlington is home to two gas stations, a convenience store, our mechanic and veterinarian, a handful of churches, and a whole lot of history!

Located within the town limits, multiple historic buildings can be found that have been converted into a place of historic preservation. Over the last decade I have passed these charming old buildings hundreds of times, but had never stopped in for a visit. It hasn’t been for lack of desire, however. The history-lover in me has been itching to explore the treasures hidden behind those 200 year old walls and learn a bit more about the local history of the area we call home.

Miss Corrina, a fellow mom in our co-op, was next in line to plan our co-op activities for the month of March. The first outing she planned finally gave me the excuse I needed to do a little local exploration, when she booked a tour with Darlington’s local historical Society. As part of our tour we were led through three different historical buildings in the town.

Because of the large size of our group we were split into two smaller groups, with Molly joining her friends in group A, while the rest of the McCleery clan stayed together in group B. Our first stop on our tour of historic Darlington was to the Greersburg Academy.

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“The Greersburg Academy, a two story stone structure, was established in 1802 by Rev. Thomas E, Hughes.

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In its earliest history it was a prep school for men entering the ministry and later became a classical academy. It is Beaver County’s earliest educational institution, and is the oldest standing public building in the county. Those who attended include William McGuffey and John Brown.

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In 1882 it was transformed into a passenger/freight train station, and is the oldest standing railroad station in the nation.

Today, the first floor contains the Meeting Room, Greersburg/Train Room and the Research Room. One of the main displays on this floor presents the history of the Underground Railroad of which Darlington was a central hub.”

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Next we walked over to the Little Beaver Museum, where we continued gaining an education on the history of the area.

“The Little Beaver Museum, a two story brick structure, was built to carry on the tradition of the Greersburg Academy.

The building was erected in 1883 after the Academy closed. It later became a two-year high school, graduating its first class in 1910.

The building and grounds of the Little Beaver Museum were deeded to the Society in 1964. Today it houses two floors of artifacts and displays.”

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Our final stop on the tour was also the last addition to the Little Beaver Complex…

The log cabin.

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“This historic cabin originally came from Fredrickstown, Ohio. In 2009 it was donated and moved to Darlington. It features a beautiful working stone fireplace and chimney.

The cabin houses a number of traditional artifacts and is used to display and demonstrate traditional cloth arts like wool dying and spinning.”

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It was a wonderful outing.

Who knew so much history played out in our own back yard!

One Step Closer to the Eagle

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It has been 9 years since Rusty first donned the blue and gold uniform of the Cub Scouts. Since then he has spent endless hours learning skills, earning merit badges, camping, hiking, building fires, attending Scout Camp, and participating in service projects, all with the end goal of earning his Eagle.

Eagle Scout is the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Boy Scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America. The designation “Eagle Scout” was founded over one hundred years ago. Only four percent of Boy Scouts are granted this rank after a lengthy review process. The requirements necessary to achieve this rank take years to fulfill.

And we are proud to say that Rusty is one step closer to joining the 4 % who have earned that rank.

One of the final steps in earning the rank of Eagle comes when the scout develops and executes a plan to lead a service project that will benefit  the community. This large project is the culmination of a lot of behind-the-scenes planning, prepping and presenting the planned project to gain approval for their proposed Eagle Scout project.

As Rusty considered possible projects he decided to approach the good people at Ready Yourself Youth Ranch, a non-profit organization that he and his sisters volunteer at two mornings a week to see if they had any possible work projects on their wish list that he and his scout troop could bless them with.

Our family was introduced to Ready Yourself Youth Ranch a year ago as a possible resource for the older kids as we navigated the challenging/explosive behaviors that Ozzie was presenting at the time. Our family based therapy team thought the ranch could be a place of refuge that the older kids could escape to on hard days and allow them to benefit from the therapeutic affects of serving and blessing others.

My kiddos fell in love with the ranch and since that day have committed themselves to waking up early two mornings a week and driving to the ranch to care for the horses from 7:00- 9:00 am. Their responsibilities include feeding/watering  the horses, moving them to the pastures, grooming horses, and mucking stalls.

It not the most glamorous work, but my kids love it. They have found a place of refuge and peace among the dusty stalls of Ready Yourself Youth Ranch…

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And they aren’t the only ones.

“Ready Yourselves Youth Ranch is a non-profit, Christian ministry that connects horses in need of rescue with children dealing with challenges and difficulties who need to learn about the hope and healing found in Jesus Christ. In 2010, the founders and directors, Micheline and Mathew Barkley desired to combine her broken childhood and his equestrian experience to rescue horses and mentor children facing conflicts and challenges of their own.  When God blessed them with fifty acres of land, in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, they gathered a dedicated group of volunteers and mentors to bring their faith, time and talents to make RYYR a place where God’s love and grace enables horses and children to trust and love again.

Ready Yourselves Youth Ranch is for children, ages 6 through 18, who are dealing with challenges and difficulties. We connect one child, one horse, and one mentor for ninety minutes of interactive experience, free of charge. Learning to care for and ride rescue horses, many who have come from environments of abuse or neglect, increases a child’s trust, faith and love. The overall aim of our session program is to love and encourage children which in turn will foster hope and joy.”

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When Rusty approached Micheline (the owner and visionary of the ranch) about projects on her wish list she quickly produced a list of possible projects Rusty could undertake for his Eagle Scout project. He decided that he would present the plan of constructing an outdoor riding arena for the ranch to the board to get approval. Once he received approval the dates were set for his Eagle Scout project.

The project took two Saturdays.

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The support of many made lighter work of what would have been a very arduous task!

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Dozens of fellow scouts, leaders, siblings, and friends from church answered the call and showed up ready to work.

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It was quite the undertaking but the arrival of many helpers was inspiring.

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Rusty couldn’t have done it without the generous support of so many helping hands.

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Here are photos of the many happy helpers and the project they tackled over the course of two Saturdays:

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In Rusty’s attempt to bless others, he too was blessed.

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We are so proud of this young man we call “son.”

A BIG “thank you” to all who have helped mold Rusty into the man he is today.

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He is who he is thanks in part to leaders (both current and past) who have taught Rusty scouting survival skills and basic life skills that will benefit him as a man. We are grateful for the wonderful troop of boys who have grown up with Rusty, and the many friends and families who have cheered Rusty on as he has blossomed from a silent and timid little boy into a confident and caring young man.

It truly does take a village to raise a son…or at least an incredible Boy Scout troop.

How thankful I am for troop 558!

Old Economy Village…a journey back in time!

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For two decades I have resided in the Pittsburgh area and for two decades I have heard tales of the wonders of Old Economy Village but had never managed a trip to visit it in person. That all changed last Friday when we were invited to join friends who are PA Virtual families for a field trip to Old Economy Village. A good portion of our co-op attended and it was fun to catch up with friends. Thanks to a state grant received by the cyber school admission was free (an unexpected blessing!) which just added to the enjoyment of the day.

Upon arriving we had the opportunity to stroll around the Visitor Center and become better acquainted with the history behind this Beaver County gem. Here is an brief overview of the Harmonites who settled and developed this historic community we know as Old Economy Village.

“In 1804, the followers of the Separatist George Rapp (1757-1847) emigrated to America from Iptingen (near Stuttgart) in southwest Germany seeking religious and economic freedom. Nearly 800 farmers and craftsmen followed their leader to Butler County, Pennsylvania where they built the town of Harmony. Ten years later they migrated westward to Posey County, Indiana founding a second town named Harmony, which today is known as New Harmony.
In 1824, the Harmony Society returned to Pennsylvania, this time settling in Beaver County along the Ohio River. There they founded “Oekonomie,” now better known as Old Economy Village. It was here that the Society gained worldwide recognition for its religious devotion and economic prosperity.
The Harmonists developed a simple, pietistic lifestyle based upon the early Christian Church. They turned over everything they owned to the Harmony Society when they became members. Everyone worked together for the good of the Society and received, in turn, what he or she needed to live simply and comfortably. Because they expected Christ’s Second Coming to Earth at any moment, they adopted celibacy in 1807 in order to purify themselves for the Millenium – Christ’s 1,000 year reign on Earth.

The Harmony Society successfully “placed the manufacturer beside the agriculturalist,” an accomplishment held in high regard in the early nineteenth century. National leaders like Thomas Jefferson viewed this as the ideal plan for America’s economic and political future. This ideal would be a national economy that would thrive in both agriculture and industry, independent of foreign influence.

The Harmonists created, adapted, and adopted the new technologies of their day giving them a competitive edge in the growing early American economy, particularly in textile manufacturing—wool, cotton, and silk—and agricultural production.
By 1825 they had constructed textile factories powered and heated by steam engines. They built shops for blacksmiths, tanners, hatters, wagon makers, cabinetmakers and turners, linen weavers, potters, and tin smiths, as well as developing a centralized steam laundry and a centralized dairy for the community. Later, they perfected the technology of silk manufacturing, from worm to fabric, for which they received gold medals during exhibition competitions in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Despite the Society’s economic success, time and events brought about its decline. In 1832, one third of the members left Economy under the leadership of Count de Leon, a self-proclaimed prophet. In 1847 Father Rapp died. Although the Harmonists leaders turned to new business ventures – railroads, oil production, and building Beaver Falls and its industrial complex – their economic vitality, like their membership, eventually waned.

By the end of the nineteenth century only a few Harmonists remained. In 1905 the Society was dissolved and its vast real estate holdings sold, much of it to the American Bridge Company who subsequently enlarged the town and renamed it Ambridge. Six acres of the Society’s original holdings, along with seventeen buildings, were acquired by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1916.

Today, these six-acres, surrounded by Ambridge’s National Register Historic District, are administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission as a National Historic Landmark site.
The historic site, which contains the seventeen restored historic structures and garden built between 1824 and 1830, originally was the religious and economic hub of the Harmony Society. The buildings, grounds, library, archives and 16,000 original artifacts are a memorial to the Society’s commitment to the religious discipline and economic industry that built their American Utopia.”

Once all families had arrived we were led from the Visitor Center to the village, where we stepped back in time 150 years, by walking through the doors of the Feast Hall into historic Old Economy. 

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Old Economy Village is comprised of 17 historic buildings and  various “stations” that function as a living history experience. We had the opportunity to split into self -guided groups and tour the village independently. Many of the buildings had volunteers in period dress demonstrating skills from that time period and sharing more about the history of the Harmonite people.

Other locations offered fun, interactive, hands-on activities common to that time period that the kids could participate in and experience first hand.

In my group I had my four kiddos (Grace was at work), as well as other friends from co-op. They enjoyed moving from station to station, learning about life in the early 19th century from the fascinating and engaging volunteers dressed for the part.

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Here are some of the places we visited during our tour of Old Economy Village: 

Feast Hall / Museum Building  Built in 1827, the first floor showcased a Natural History Museum (now recreated) open to the Society for free and to the public for a ten cent admission fee.  Harmonists gathered on special feast days for communal meals or for musical performances in the second floor Feast Hall.

Here the kids were able to experience school as a 19th century student, complete with a handwriting lesson using a quill and ink.

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George Rapp Garden
Visitors to Economy described George Rapp’s garden as “neatly laid out in lawns, arbors, and flower beds.” The 1831 Pavilion once featured a wooden statue carved by American sculptor, William Rush. The current figure was made in the 1950s.  Also built in 1831, the Grotto’s rough exterior belies its elegant neoclassical interior. Harmonists viewed this building as a metaphor for their Society – rough on the exterior but refined inside.

The gardens were our final stop for the day and everyone enjoyed strolling these beautiful grounds, inhaling the intoxicatingly sweet scents of the garden.

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Baker House, Garden and Family Shed
Storekeeper R. L. Baker, his mother, and sister lived here. Following George Rapp’s death, Baker, Jonathan Lenz, and Jacob Henrici led the Society and maintained their business ventures. The Baker House is a typical Harmonist dwelling. Every household had its own garden, even though food was provided by the Society. The shed was vital to the household as a food storage area, tool and wood shed, chicken coop, cow stall, root cellar, and outhouse.

In this part of the settlement the kids got to walk through the herb garden and learn about its preservation, as well as try their hands out at egg gathering and cow milking.

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Water Pump
Pumps were located on Economy’s streets in various locations. Water was distributed through wooden pipes from a spring on the hill east of town. This pump is a reproduction, plumbed to the city water supply. Visitors are invited to experience wash day at Old Economy.

The water pump was one of the biggest hits of the day. Everyone was impressed with the hand pump and had fun attempting water hauling and hand washing the laundry.

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The woodworking tools that helped build and furnish Economy are exhibited in this original wood frame building.

 

The volunteer who was demonstrating his craftsmanship in the cabinet shop was a delight. He was a retired school teacher who loved sharing his knowledge with the kids and engaging them in what life would have been like for the settlement’s cabinet makers in 1830, including letting them see how cabinets were constructed and allowing them to try out some of the hand tools.

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Blacksmith Shop
This structure was built in the early twentieth century as a garage for the site’s caretaker. It was later converted into a blacksmith and cooper shop for demonstrations. The original structures for those trades were located elsewhere in Economy, outside of the site’s present boundaries.

The two gentlemen who ran the blacksmith shop were equally engaging and we were all fascinated with their work as they created beautiful, decorative hooks as they spoke of their trade.

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Cobblestone Street
This is the original Harmonist Street, where visitors can roll hoops, walk on stilts, and play games of graces.

But the cobblestone street was the biggest hit of all. Home to the old fashioned games available for the kids to try out and play, this was the epicenter of activity for our group. I had a hard time pulling Tyler away once he discovered this stop on our tour of Old Economy.

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It was an absolutely delightful day at Old Economy Village. It took me two decades to make it there but hopefully we will be returning in a more timely manner, with Toby and Grace in tow…

What a lovely day to visit such a lovely place!

 

Flying back in Time

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Yesterday the three older kids and I took a quick flight back in time to explore aircraft from yesteryear, via the Air Heritage Museum.

When we caught wind of this upcoming fieldtrip (located so close to home) we quickly signed up, eager to check out this gem that we had no idea existed in our own backyard.

Then there was the added incentive that it was free admission…what a deal!

Toby was home from work so the two younger boys opted to stay home with Daddy, while the big kids and I headed over to the museum where we met up with the Caylor family.

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Upon arrival the first room we found ourselves in was the artifacts room. In here we were able to stroll through and read the different displays that highlighted the history of aviation. On display were a variety of artifacts like air force uniforms, airplane props, model planes, cameras that would have been strapped to the underside of planes, among other things.

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We were able to take our time exploring this room while we waited for the rest of the families who signed up for this outing to arrive.

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Once everyone had arrived we moved into the hanger where a very knowledgeable volunteer tour guide took us around the hanger, sharing with us the history behind the various planes that were in the process of being restored to their former glory. As we stood before each plane she gave us a history lesson on each plane’s story, as well as explained the workings, creation, and effort that goes into the restoration of these planes.

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As a former air force mechanic, she was able to impart the knowledge she gained over the course of many years of working on planes in such a way that the common man (or woman) could understand and appreciate the artistry and science that goes into making these tubes of aluminum soar through the sky.

I am not an airplane fanatic by any stretch of the imagination,  but I found our tour guide’s enthusiasm contagious and her knowledge engaging. She captured my interest and held it throughout our 1 1/2 hour tour.

It was fascinating to see the wide variety of planes on display from different historical eras and in various states of restoration, with some stripped to bare bones while others sat completed in the lot outside the hanger.

A few of the planes we learned about on our tour were:

The Fairfield 24 Forwarder

“The Fairchild Model 24, is a four-seat, single engine monoplane light transport aircraft that was used by the United States Army Air Corps as the UC-61, and by the Royal Air Force. Built by the Fairchild Aircraft Co., after having some success with the Model 22, this led directly to the Model 24 which gained rapid popularity in the early 1930’s. First flight of the Model 24 was in 1932, and was in continuous production from 1932 to 1948.”

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C-47B Skytrain “Luck of the Irish”

“Our plane was delivered to the 9th Air Force’s 75th Troop Carrier Squadron on September 30th, 1944. The 75th TCS itself was a part of the 435th Troop Carrier Group, which itself was a part 53rd Troop Carrier Wing.

Our plane flew two Resupply missions over the Battle of the Bulge on December 24th and December 26th, 1944 in which it dropped supplies from parapacks as well as from inside the fuselage to the surrounded troops below in the city of Bastogne. It also took part in Operation Varsity, the single largest air drop of troops and supplies during a single day, even to date. Over Varsity it towed two Waco CG-4A gliders full of troops.

Overall, it flew in 25 Fully Combat-Operational Resupply Missions in the European theatre from its base in Welford Park, England and Bretigny, France. It also flew 13 missions in which it evacuated American, British, French and even German POWs. We have records for at least 96 missions of various types, which it had taken part in during the war.”

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F-15A Eagle

This aircraft AF 76-012 was a member of the 36th Fighter Wing stationed at Bitburg, Germany in the late 70’s early 80’s and flew in Desert Storm.

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C-123K Provider

The increased involvement in Vietnam showed a need for a transport aircraft that could operate out of short unprepared fields. The military effort against the Viet Cong brought the C-123 into fields hacked out of the jungle or a smoothed out dirt strip on a hill. If that wasn’t available parachute airdrops were possible by rolling cargo out the open aft fuselage ramp. In “Operation Ranch Hand” eight Providers were modified to spray defoliant to destroy the heavy vegetation which was providing cover to the enemy troops.

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Named the “Thunderpig,” this was our favorite plane on display.

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She was currently on display inside the hanger as she was undergoing her annual inspection. We were able to climb inside and get a unique, up close look at this rare plane (She is the only one of her kind in operation in the lower 48 states.)

The kids were able to get a  look at the cockpit and try their hand at working the seat belts in the jump seats.

This particular plane is a movie star in her own right, having starred in movies like Air America, The General’s Daughter, Die Hard 2, Good Morning Vietnam, and Con Air.

The kids were also given the opportunity to climb in a restored war jeep,

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and a training plane.

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I was very impressed by how hands-on and interactive the tour was. The kids had the opportunity to touch, ask questions, and be inspired by the enthusiasm of our great tour guide.

It was a fascinating, high-flying field trip.

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We give the Beaver Falls Air Heritage Museum two thumbs up!