I’m a big fan of “This Day in History,” so I decided to try my hand at it and see what was going on in Bridgeville and the Pittsburgh area exactly one century ago. A quick look at available newspaper archives confirmed my suspicions that this would be an excellent subject for a column.
This particular date in history was 14½ weeks after the armistice that ended World War I; the news was dominated by the efforts of the Allies to come to agreement on a peace treaty that would ensure that the recent hostilities would indeed be remembered as the “War to End All Wars.”
The major headline on the front page of the Pittsburg Press one hundred years ago today was “Plotted to Slay Both Wilson and Clemenceau.” Three days earlier, French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau had been shot by a would-be assassin. This paper reported that Clemenceau was recovering nicely and would return to the peace conference in a few days. The headline referred to a plot that the French had uncovered which included plans to assassinate President Woodrow Wilson.
The Pittsburg Press for Friday, Feb. 21, 1919, consisted of 40 pages and could be purchased for 2 cents. At least 75 percent of the space was occupied by advertisements, almost entirely by retail stores. Donahoe’s advertised their own brand of margarine at 30 cents a pound, as well as pork loin for 30 cents a pound.
The only mention of Bridgeville in this particular paper was a legal notice reporting that all persons indebted to or having claims on the estate of the late Maria Ostermaier should contact the executrices, Maria and Amelia Ostermaier, R.D. No. 1, Bridgeville, Pa.
Bridgeville did show up in six other Pennsylvania newspaper archives on that date, including two articles in the Canonsburg Daily Notes. A farm (probably McKown) was advertised for rent. One hundred and forty acres on a macadam road half a mile from Bridgeville. “Inquire Lloyd McKown, Bridgeville” if you are interested.
The Daily Notes also reported the passing of a young (29) lady, Mrs. Ella Carlisle Fife, just four months after her wedding to Arthur E. Fife. A member of Bethany Presbyterian Church, she was the daughter of Bridgeville residents, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Carlisle. She was a victim of the horrendous 1919 flu epidemic.
One hundred years ago, Bridgeville’s development was still on the upswing, 18 years after its formal incorporation. The business district along Washington Avenue was booming. Baldwin Street was the center of new construction and entrepreneurship. The 1919 high school graduating class boasted 13 seniors; it was only a year earlier that the school system had added a 12th grade.
Business was good at C. P. Mayer Brick Co., although Mr. Mayer’s attention had turned to aviation and the new airfield he was building nearby. Universal Steel was booming. So were the Flannery Bolt Co. and the Vanadium Corp. The Flannery brothers had shifted their interest to the production of radium in Canonsburg. General Electric was in the process of acquiring the J.B. Higbee Glass Co. plant.
The doughboys who survived World War I were beginning to trickle back home. Next year would begin the Roaring ’20s and a chance for a return to peace and prosperity.