Mt. Pleasant Historical Society guest has 'inquisitive mind'
Rodney Cavanaugh of Mt. Pleasant was the featured speaker for the Mt. Pleasant historical society speaker series.Cavanaugh spoke on different topics, focusing mainly on Mennonites and the coal and coke industry in the region, touching upon five articles that he had published for Mennonite Family Heritage quarterly magazine."Mr. Cavanaugh has a very inquisitive mind," historical society member Jim Lozier said as he introduced the speaker, who is a friend and fellow volunteer at Excela Health Frick Hospital. "He knows a lot about a lot of stuff and he likes to tell stories."Cavanaugh has been researching area coal and coke history for years and has done studies on the Mennonites of the area and the history of the group.He speaker spoke about the Mennonites and the Amish their histories and backgrounds.One of Cavanaugh's published articles was about a former local man named Henry Yothers, who was born in Mt. Pleasant before heading west."He was really an interesting man," Cavanaugh said of Yothers. "He relocated to the Wooddale area and became a preacher and a bishop."Cavanaugh told the sad tale of Yothers, who lost his wife and child in childbirth, followed by the death of other children within a short span of time."He moved West and helped establish a church out there," Cavanaugh said.Cavanaugh spoke of the Galley family in the area, who have been in the automobile business for decades."The family also used to make buggies and fire trucks," Cavanaugh said.Telling the audience some interesting tidbits, Cavanaugh said that contrary to popular belief, Chief Jacobs of local legend was never actually a chief, and he talked about H.C. Frick and some of his background."Many people are under the impression that he owned all of the H.C. Frick company," Cavanaugh said. "But he was actually only a minor partner.'"Cavanaugh explained Frick's elaborate spending on his own funeral, which he planned years before his death.Touching upon the history of the mining industry, Cavanaugh related some interesting facts."The life expectancy of a coal miner because of conditions and safety was between 30 and 40 years," Cavanaugh said, adding that coal miners brought family members to the mines to help them. "It was not unusual for a miner to bring in a 10-year old to help. Sometimes, wives even dressed as men and went in to the mines to help them."Cavanaugh talked about different types of mine lanterns, and local ties to mining."I think that our speaker series has been great," society member Cynthia Stevenson said. "We have had a lot of interesting speakers and I think that they have brought in some new members and is something that we like to see."