Sept. 12, 1918, 'Bridgeville Signal' covered Carnegie, Bridgeville

| Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

At our May “Bridgeville Remembered” presentation, “Woody” Lesnett gave me a 95-year-old newspaper that he wanted to donate to the Bridgeville Area Historical Society. Dated Sept. 12, 1918, its masthead reads “The Bridgeville Signal.” Pasted above it is a label, “Lesnett J W.” Woody found it recently while cleaning and realized the society would be happy to have it.

My first reaction, when seeing it, was to the title. We know C. P. Mayer had a local paper called the “Bridgeville Bulletin” in the early 1900s and that Francis Cavanaugh started “The Bridgeville News” in 1926, while he was a student at Duquesne University, but “The Bridgeville Signal” was a new one on me.

My next reaction was, “It must be a Knepper project.” Sure enough, on the second page it reports that it was published by John W. Knepper. We know that the Knepper family went into the printing and publishing business in 1873, in Carnegie, and published a weekly paper called the “Carnegie Signal-Item.”

Apparently at some point he attempted to publish a newspaper dedicated to Bridgeville, which he called “The Bridgeville Signal.” The edition Mr. Lesnett has donated is a four page, full size (15 inches by 20 two inches), six-column weekly newspaper. Issued every Thursday, it cost subscribers 75 cents a year.

Despite its title, all the items on Page 1 relate to Carnegie, and to the war. Men 32 to 36 years of age were instructed to report for selective service registration in October; 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds were “to be turned over to colleges to continue their education.” Presbyterian minister the Rev. W. M. Woodfin, “fresh from the trenches,” was scheduled to give a lecture “War as Germany Wages It”, aided by stereopticon slides.

Page 3 included a column entitled “Bridgeville Notes.” We learn that “Guy Russell is expected home from Denver, Colo. this week.” Incidentally the same page features an advertisement for “The Car That Satisfies – Buick,” available at W. F. Russell Buick in Bridgeville, complete with a handsome sketch of a Buick Model D-Six45.

Other news included “Mrs. Nellie Patton entertained several of her friends last Friday evening at her home on Bank Street,” as well as “Mrs. Washington Shrum is home from Mt. Clemens, Michigan, where she has been for treatment,” and “Mrs. William Stacy and children were guests of Miss Annie Rimmel last week,”

Another “Bridgeville Note” explains why the Lesnett family had saved this particular issue of the newspaper. “Mrs. T. D. Lesnett heard this week from her son Fred, who is in France. He tells of his experience in being slightly ‘gassed' by the Huns and luckily has recovered.”

Saperstein's Store has a large advertisement reporting a special event occurring on Sept. 12, 13, and 14 at their establishment on Washington Avenue. “Where do your feet hurt? Pain in the region of the ball of the foot? Come to our store and consult Dr. Scholl's foot specialist. It is entirely free. You don't have to pay the specialist — we do — and neither are you under any obligation to make any purchase.” Now, that's an offer no one could refuse.

Another advertisement offered “Residence and Business Property Building Lots. In Choice Locations in Bridgeville. Terms to Suit Purchaser. Call on Wilcox & McCaffrey Company, Trust Co. Building, Bell phone 135–M.” The Classified section included a “Help Wanted” ad for construction workers at the Universal Rolling Mill Company in Bridgeville. Construction Superintendent John H. Froehlich was accepting applications – “skilled experience unnecessary.”

The newspaper also included a “Report of the condition of the First National Bank of Bridgeville, Pa., at the close of business on Aug. 31, 1918.” It reported assets and liabilities of about $547,000, according to Cashier John Zangrilli, verified by Notary Public Frank Scurich, and attested by Directors J.P. Hoffman, C.P. Mayer, and J.J. Wallace.

Three real estate transfers were reported. Howard A. Morrison sold a property on Station Street to James H. Rankin for $6,500; Philip Basson sold one on McKeesport Road to Giovanni DeMarco for $4,000; and Wasil Marchisin sold one on James Street to Peter Marchisin for $470.

Bennett's Drug Store was quoted as guaranteeing San Cura ointment to “relieve any kind of piles, eczema, tetter, salt rheum, boils, carbuncles, ulcers, all kinds of chronic sores, chilblains, and chapped hands, or money back. It's a medicine chest in itself – 30 cents, 60 cents, or $1.20 a jar.”

Our thanks to Woody Lesnett for sharing this view of life in Bridgeville during World War I.

John Oyler, a columnist for Trib Total Media, can be reached at 412-343-1652 or

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