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100 pitch in for book on history of Scottdale and Everson

| Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 10:54 a.m.
For the Tribune-Review
Paul Eckman (left) and Tom Zwierzelewski sign a book for Scottdale resident Ann Kring. Rachel Basinger | For the Tribune-Review
There is a new book out that discusses the history of Scottdale and Everson. Submitted

Scottdale and Everson have recently joined the ranks of Arcadia Publishing's popular Images of America series that highlights the heritage of our country's people and places.

“Around Scottdale and Everson” was written by local authors Paul E. Eckman and Tom Zwierzelewski but represents the collective effort of more than 100 citizens from Scottdale and Everson.

Eckman said he always wanted to write a book about Scottdale and Everson “because of the cherished and vivid memories I have of these places.

“Although I left the region 48 years ago, I continued to read most of the books published on the area, especially those on the coal, coke and steel industries, and the people I knew as a child always talked about the ‘boom' times, before the Great Depression,” Eckman said.

He added that his friends continued to talk about the mills, the railroads, coke ovens, coal patches, strikes and company stores, which all helped to generate his early interest in local history.

“My father, Edward, who was a barber in Everson, collected old pictures, which he displayed in his shop and I inherited the pictures, and always wanted to share them with others,” Eckman said. “Arcadia Publishing provided the perfect venue for realizing this aspiration.”

When Eckman approached Arcadia with a proposal to write a book, they were skeptical because of the small population of Everson and the fact that Eckman now lived in another state.

They agreed to re-examine the proposal if Eckman included a wider geographical area, and obtained the endorsement of a local group.

And that's when Eckman got in touch with Tom Zwierzelewski, president of the Scottdale Historical Society, and asked if he and the society were interested in partnering on a book.

“After consulting his board, they agreed and Arcadia subsequently approved the proposal,” Eckman said. “Without Tom (Zwierzelewski) and the historical society, I would not be a co-author of the book.”

Zwierzelewski said that on behalf the historical society, he was glad to share his collection and co-author the book.

“Paul and I shared many emails and phone conversations and finally met in July of 2010 for a recruiting session where we reached out to the communities for more photos,” Zwierzelewski said.

Recruiting archives continued with the community bringing photos to other historical society events.

“Those sessions brought to light many family stories, photos and the mix of items needed to help complete the project,” Zwierzelewski said. “Paul (Eckman) worked closely with Kelly Linn at West Overton Museums, as well as The Independent-Observer (the community weekly newspaper) and the Westmoreland County Historical Society and many of his family and friends.

“Local residents with a wonderful knowledge of Scottdale were invaluable as well,” he added, naming Bob Percy, Carol Westerman, Joe Hawk, Chuck King, Dave Ramsey, Mike Banaszak and Tinky Nist.

“Eckman's writing skills and love for the local industrial heritage are evident through-out the book and my research and design background made the partnership come together,” Zwierzelewski said.

Eckman said there was never any consideration to approach another publisher or print the book privately.

“Arcadia is the largest publisher of local history,” he said. “Their press is well known, and they offer a standard product which most people recognize.”

In the past several years, Arcadia published books on Uniontown, Greensburg, Norvelt, Latrobe, Ligonier, Dunbar and Monessen and Eckman said Scottdale's history is equally important “and probably more interesting — it was time for a book on Scottdale and Everson.”

Zwierzelewski said one of the biggest challenges with putting the book together was finding enough pictures with good enough quality to use for the project.

Eckman said aside from The Independent Observer, the Scottdale Bank and Trust Co. and West Overton Museums, there were no central archives or collections.

“Tom and I had personal collections; however, my folio contained mostly images on the mining industry and on Everson. Tom's extensive collection consisted mainly of post cards, so the challenge was to assemble a collection of photographs depicting the varied aspects of living in Scottdale and Everson, from shopping and learning to serving and having fun.”

Retailers who sell the book realize a profit and none of these proceeds go to the historical society, however, when the society sells the book directly to the public, all of the profit goes to the society.

“Four generations of the Eckman family were active in the civic life of Everson and Scottdale and I wanted to leave something in memory of my family,” he said.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.