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Pictorial history of Indiana Township needs your help

Tawnya Panizzi
| Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011

It's hard to compile a history book without stories and photos to fill the pages.

Erica Birkner, a member of the Indiana Township Historical Commission, is frustrated by what she calls slow progress in compiling information for a 2012 release detailing the community's timeline.

Birkner makes herself available from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursdays at the municipal building in hope that residents will bring photos to be scanned or stories to be jotted down.

But people aren't flocking in with tales.

"So far, I've come up with almost nothing," said Birkner, who moved into the township only a few years ago, but feels a sense of urgency to solidify its history into a new book.

"It's just important to know the history of the town you live in," she said.

Birkner and other committee members plan a late-2012 release for a pictorial history that shows how the township has changed from its beginnings as a rural coal-mining town to its more-recent stronghold in the industrial sector.

"We want anything that shows old street scenes or maybe things like Roeh's, the old general store," Birkner said. "We want pictures from any period in the township's history."

A second book will condense information from two earlier versions and publish new stories.

Birkner expects it to take several years to collect the stories, but says the book, when complete, will be full of "fun little tales that people will enjoy."

One example comes from Alfred "Hap" Humes, former Fox Chapel fire chief and the owner of property at the corner of Fox Chapel and Old Mill roads.

"His place used to be a peach-tree farm in the 1920s," Birkner said.

"It was 63 acres and had a famous owner back then; the (vaudeville and Broadway) actress Fay Templeton and her husband, William Patterson, lived on the farm," she said.

Birkner hopes those tidbits will give readers a more complete history than the stories they might already know.

Birkner is willing to make house calls to collect memorabilia.

"We know they have all this treasure in their attics," she said. "I'm willing to climb up and get it."

How to be part of the book

Contact Birkner at 216-288-1824 or at the municipal building, 412-767-5333.

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