Small Town Memories

Exploring the history of SHENANGO VALLEY, PA, one story at a time.

Category: Sharpsville PA Area History

WESTINGHOUSE Park Baseball Field

by Ann Angel Eberhardt

Dick Hudson, our guest author, knows a thing or two about sports. The deep interest he had for sports as a kid continued throughout his adult life. His achievements in college sports gained him places in the Sport Halls of Fame at Slippery Rock University and at Mercer County, PA. Later, after earning his doctoral degree at the University of Georgia, he spent most of his career in charge of the University’s 1996 Olympic involvement and as a Consultant to the 2000 Sydney Olympics, among many other activities. See “Patagonia Memories” for more about Dick.

Here are Dick’s fond memories of the ball fields of his youth, particularly the Westinghouse Park Baseball Field. A brief history of the Sharon’s Westinghouse plant follows his narrative.

Westinghouse Park Baseball Field

Corner of State Street and South Buhl Farm Drive, Sharon, PA

By Dick Hudson

“Sharon Westinghouse Company Baseball Team
Uniform 1940’s Era,” featured on

The Shenango Valley has had plenty of baseball fields over the many years the game has been played. They could be found in the neighborhoods of Sharon, Farrell, Sharpsville, West Middlesex, Hermitage, and surrounding towns of Greenville, Jamestown, Mercer, Transfer/Reynolds, and Grove City.

These fields were carved out of plots of land in all kinds of local environments and built to accommodate various age groups of players, from Little Leagues to Pony Leagues and Babe Ruth Leagues, to American Legion Leagues and Independent Leagues. All the fields had their own attractions, idiosyncrasies, legendary players and games, and held memories from the ages in the worn dirt infields and outfield grasses.

For me, the North Sharon Little League field, huddled at the bottom of a hill and set perfectly in its limited space, was the first one where I played. It was built in the very early 1950s when Little League baseball first arrived in Sharon and had four teams with names such as the Tigers and the Yankees. These names were later changed when team sponsors arrived and the teams took on the sponsors’ names, such as BPO Elks. 

Across town, the South Sharon Little League played on a field on Wengler Avenue, and the All-Stars from each league would often play at the end of the year in playoffs. We knew about names from the other league but only got to know them when we got out of Little League and joined teams for 13 to 15-year-olds (called the Babe Ruth League when we played).

But, again, all the towns and neighborhoods had their fields, and only much later when playing in the Pymatuning League did I get to play on fields in these other area towns.

Growing up and being fascinated by baseball, we watched older players playing at levels that seemed beyond anything we could ever do. How could they throw the ball so fast and so far; how could they hit it; and how could they always seem to catch every ball hit or thrown? We marveled at all of this, and spent our summer days (and winter days in basements) practicing what we had seen.

There was one baseball field that I saw on occasion when very young (six to ten years old). Once when I was about five years old my father was there playing or practicing (maybe even softball), so I was there on the field. It was the first time I held a leather glove and I was completely taken by its feel and its smell.

This field, I later learned, was the Westinghouse Park Baseball Field, a field on a big lot on the corner of State Street and South Buhl Farm Drive. The big Westinghouse Plant built this park for its employees, as the plant in 1956 had about 10,000 working at the plant. The Park had picnic tables out beyond the baseball field, as well as some big fields and a wooded area.

A gravel parking lot (most fields had dirt parking lots) was beyond left field, which was about 300 feet along the line. There was no fence around the big green outfield, but from the foul line in left field straight across left centerfield and then out way past where a centerfield fence would have been was a small hill/incline, maybe going up about 10 feet at an angle and being about six feet higher at the top than the field. When it rained a lot, there would be a small area near the foul line and close to where the bank started that would form a small puddle. In right field, there was also such a hill, but it went the other way from the infield and outfield and down a sloping bank where the grass went another few hundred feet and approached the original McDonald’s restaurant on State Street. If an outfielder went for a ball over that hill, he would quickly disappear from view from the infield.

The infield was dirt, large, and always in great condition, with a tall backstop only about 10 feet behind home plate. Benches were on both sides of the foul lines and behind the benches were small bleachers, extending out behind the third and first base bags a bit. 

Along the third base side and toward the top of the slight hill along South Buhl Farm Drive and all the way out to the parking lot beyond left field was a row of tall, majestic trees that lined the road that ran parallel to the left field foul line. Cars would sometimes park off the road and under these trees to catch a peek at a game in progress.

About 30 feet from the left field foul line, there was an incline/hill that stretched up to that row of big trees, and people would often sit there on the ground or on folding chairs, lining the hill all the way out to the parking lot.

And the grass! This field, the Elysian Field of the Shenango Valley, had grass greener than any of us had in our yards or neighborhoods, and seemed to rival the green that we saw when going for the first time to a major league game in Pittsburgh or Cleveland. 

I now live in Athens, Georgia, area (University of Georgia), and in 1964 the Westinghouse plant in Sharon moved many to Athens to work at a new distribution transformer Westinghouse plant that opened here in 1958 (it later became ABB in 1990). Over the years I have met several who came to Athens from Sharon and they all remember Westinghouse Park Baseball Field.

As do I and so many others . . .

— Dick Hudson (Hickory High School 1963), Colbert, Georgia.


In the 1950s, many of the people who lived in the Sharpsville area either worked in the steel mills or at the Westinghouse plant. Neither the mills nor the plant exist any longer but the sprawling 50-plus-acre Westinghouse building and office complex still front North Sharpsville Avenue (Route 518), not far from downtown Sharon, Pennsylvania. When I lived in Sharpsville in the 1950s and traveled to and from Sharon by car (and particularly on foot), the red brick northern part of the structure with its row after row of tall paneled windows, seemed to stretch forever but it is actually about one mile long.

When the Westinghouse Electric Corporation constructed its plant in 1922, it was known as the “Sharon Works” and produced electric transformers. An interesting historical note is that, during World War II, the plant produced silent torpedoes with electric motors under the supervision of the U.S. Navy. That section of the building still has a 3-foot-thick, reinforced-concrete roof originally built to protect against enemy bombing. The torpedoes were tested at Pymatuning Lake and a unit of a torpedo was tested at Buhl Park’s Lake Julia. 

During the two decades after the war, Westinghouse’s Sharon plant reached a peak of nearly 10,000 employees. However, the plant closed permanently in 1985, dealing another blow to the already economically depressed area. In 2016, a state grant funded a massive overhaul of the deteriorating building, and the resulting renovation now known as The Landing, has attracted several businesses. Last year, the Sharon Historical Society sponsored a popular tour and history presentation of the old Transformer Division.

— Ann Angel Eberhardt (Sharpsville High School 1958), Goodyear, AZ.

Sources (Accessed July 13, 2020):

Engelmayer, Caroline S. “After Westinghouse: Sharon tried to revive its economy but old factory’s environmental hazards lurk.Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 9, 2020. Internet resource.

Pinchot, Joe. ‘Torpedo’ examined.The (Sharon) Herald, March 3, 2013.

Roknick, Michael. “State Pumps $3 million into overhaul of Sharon’s former Westinghouse plant.New Castle News, November 28, 2016. Internet resource.

Other “Small Town Memories” Posts by Dick Hudson:

PATAGONIA Memories: Patagonia School: A Four-Room Schoolhouse
on East Street

How PATAGONIA (PA) Got Its Name: Patagonia, Hickory Township’s
Family to the West


How PATAGONIA (PA) Got Its Name

by Ann Angel Eberhardt

This month’s blog is the second part of Dick Hudson’s narrative about his hometown of Patagonia. Here he explores the origin of the town’s unusual and colorful name.

Patagonia, Hickory Township’s
Family to the West

By Dick Hudson

Often I and others of us who have lived in Patagonia are asked by those who live in the traditional area of “Hickory Corners” why our area is a part of the township, what is its history, and, most of all, why the name “Patagonia.” I offer a response on behalf of all who have lived in that little conclave of families across the river, up the hills, and next to the Ohio line.

Some General History

[The following information is from the Hermitage Historical Society website: A Short History of Hermitage by Mairy Jayn Woge.]

In 1796 or 1797, Thomas Canon settled in what would become Hickory Township. In 1798, Col. Henry Hoagland, William Campbell, Daniel, Bashara and John Hull, William Welch, Archibald Rankin, John Hammel, James Young, and the Rev. Satterfield all settled in Hickory Township. Hoagland built a farm west of the Shenango River in what is now Patagonia.

In 1800, two schools opened in the region. One was three-fourths of a mile east of what is currently downtown Sharon. The other was on the Hoagland farm west of the Shenango River. Education was already important to those living in this area!

The first school teacher in Hickory Township was Revolutionary War veteran David Hayes. He taught at the log schoolhouse on the Hoagland Farm in what is now the Patagonia area of Hermitage.

Later History and the Actual Formation of Hickory Township

Hickory Township was formed 33 years after the Pennsylvania General Assembly organized Mercer County. Until 1833, the land that would become Hickory was split between Pymatuning and Shenango Townships. The dividing line was State Street. Petitions signed by residents of the Shenango Valley led to the founding of Hickory. The township was named after Andrew Jackson, President of the United States from 1829 through part of 1837. Jackson’s nickname was “Old Hickory.”

(Is it simply coincidence that Hickory is now called Hermitage, and that Andrew Jackson’s home in Nashville, TN, is called “The Hermitage”?)

The bulk of the land in the township was divided into 200 to 550-acre parcels set aside by the Commonwealth for Veterans who fought in the Pennsylvania line. Early Hickory Township contained the sites of Sharon, Wheatland, Sharpsville, and Farrell – which was a farming community. Pioneer settlers included Thomas Canon, William Campbell, Col. Henry Hoagland, Andrew Robb and the Moore family. Hoagland had a very early farm (about 1800) in what is now Patagonia.

During the 1800s, the towns of Sharon (1841), Wheatland (1865), Sharpsville (1874), and Farrell (1899) all were incorporated, thus changing the area known as Hickory Township. Hickory Township once extended around Sharon to the north and over the river to the west. When Sharpsville incorporated, it took away that land link, but the “Patagonia” area was left still a part of Hickory Township.

[Click on image to enlarge.]

[Left: A section of Mercer County, PA, showing the location of Patagonia (see arrow). Right: The original boundaries of Sharpsville, PA, shaded in rose. Sharpsville’s three main additions that were carved off from Hickory Township in 1874 are outlined in blue. Source: via Sharpsville Area Historical Society Newsletter, May 2020.]

NOTE: See the May 2020 issue of Sharpsville Area Historical Society Newsletter for more about Sharpsville’s annexation of parts of Hickory Township.

Now, Some Background on Argentina’s Patagonia

[The following information is from “The Fascinating History of Patagonia” on the Chimu Blog site.]

Ferdinand Magellan – the first man to have allegedly circumnavigated our planet – is touted with officially ‘discovering’ Patagonia in 1530, although it’s likely a few explorers came before him and, finding the land inhospitable, simply left. Magellan’s deputy reported seeing patagones, or great giants of men, and it is from this description that the name for the region derives. By the mid-1600s, Christian missionaries had already arrived; yet, although the Spanish attempted to build settlements in Patagonia over the next 200 years, none was very successful.

It wasn’t until the mid-1800s, when some hardy Welsh arrived, that Patagonia in Argentina finally saw some true-blue settlements. Merely 200 adventurous Welsh men, women and children set sail from Liverpool, bound for Patagonia’s Chubut Valley, where they hoped they could live, prosper and protect their cultural ancestry. And so they did. Over the next few decades, they were joined by many more immigrants, all helping to create towns like Gaiman, Dolavon and Trevelin.

Nowadays, although a very small percentage of the local Patagonian population boasts pure Welsh ancestry, there are hundreds of thousands with traces of Welsh blood running in their veins. Nearly 5,000 in the region can still speak Welsh. Bilingual schools and cultural centers remain at the present, all aimed at preserving this truly fascinating side of Patagonia’s history.

The Welsh in the Sharon, PA, Area

[From a journal article, “The Welsh Experience in Sharon,” by Robert Llewellyn Tyler.]

The article identifies the Welsh as a distinct ethnolinguistic community in Sharon during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and provides an analysis of changes in socioeconomic status as indicated by occupational shifts. Further, the article states,

The Welsh from the 1840s and forward characterized themselves in a series of definitions of Welshness, which over time transformed the image of Wales. … The Welsh saw themselves as the most virtuous and hard-working people in Europe, in farm, mine, and factory, the most God-fearing, the best at observing the Sabbath, the most temperate with regard to drink, the most deeply devoted to educational improvement and to things of the mind.

Tyler, Robert Llewellyn. “Occupational Mobility and Social Status: The Welsh Experience in Sharon, Pennsylvania, 1880–1930.” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, vol. 83, no. 1, 2016, pp. 1–27.

There were many people of Welsh backgrounds in the local area. They were proud of their heritage, had great pride in what they had become, and were knowledgeable about travels and the emerging world.

Consequently, in a matter of about 50 years, the Welsh had settled both in Argentina’s Patagonia and in the Hickory Township area as well.

Why the Name?

The question has always been why our small western Pennsylvania town was called Patagonia. The following addresses that question.

In the late 1800s many Welsh settled the area. They were noted for being very industrious and valued education and travel. As written above, the Welsh helped settle Patagonia in Argentina, and those who settled the local area would have known about this far-away enchanting and mysterious place. Around that same time, Patagonia in Argentina had caught the public’s eye around the world. Contributing to this international interest was the narrative, “The Wilds of Patagonia” (1911: MacMillan), written by Carl Skottsberg about his famous Swedish expedition to Patagonia in 1907.  

So, I suggest that those who lived in the area and had some Welsh background, picked that name due to its being this far-away fascinating place that those from their native country helped settle and develop, and they were proud of that.

But, even more evidence: I have since discovered a direct connection between the Welsh in Argentina and those in the Sharon area in the 1800s. Bill Pritchard, who grew up with us in Patagonia, told me that his father was 100% Welsh and that his ancestors came from Argentina in the mid-1800s. I only knew that the Welsh had settled in both Argentina and in the Sharon area, but did not know that some of the Welsh in Argentina then made the next move to “our” Patagonia. Bill’s grandfather built the house he lived in on North Water Street in the late 1800s, and Bill’s father was born there in 1900. Welsh people came up from Argentina’s Patagonia; how about that!

That direct connection between the Welsh in Argentina and those who came to the Hickory area would have certainly been the reason for the locally named “Patagonia.”

— Dick Hudson (Hickory High School 1963).
Colbert, GA, July 1, 2020.

See Other Posts by Dick Hudson:

Sources: (All websites were accessed 17 June 2020.)

Hermitage Historical Society website.

Local Geohistory Project, which educates users and disseminates information concerning the geographic history and structure of political subdivisions and local government. 

Mehler, Ralph C. “Building the Town: Annexation & Development.” Sharpsville Area Historical Society Newsletter, Vol. IX, No. 1, May 2020.

Pattara, Laura. “The Fascinating History of Patagonia” on the Chimu Blog site:

Tyler, Robert Llewellyn. “Occupational Mobility and Social Status: The Welsh Experience in Sharon, Pennsylvania, 1880–1930.” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, vol. 83, no. 1, 2016, pp. 1–27. JSTOR, Tyler is from Newport, Wales. He researches Welsh communities overseas and is widely published.

Woge, Mairy Jayn. “A Short History of Hermitage.” Hermitage History Society website, Woge (1925-2005) was a reporter for The Sharon Herald, 1961-1967, The Youngstown Vindicator, 1967-1971, and The Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1971-1990. She also was a founding member of the Hermitage History Society in 1977.

Designed by Starline / Freepik


by Ann Angel Eberhardt

No, “Patagonia Memories” is not about memories of the geographical area spanning southern Chile and Argentina, but about a place right in our own Mercer County. The latter may not have lakes, mountains, glaciers, and deserts that the South American region is known for, but the Patagonia of Pennsylvania is remembered, with appreciation and nostalgia, by some as a pleasant and peaceful place of their childhood.

Enter Dick Hudson, this month’s author, whose portrayal of life in 1950s Patagonia, PA, brings forth memories many of us can relate to. A big welcome to our newest guest writer!

Patagonia School: A Four-Room
Schoolhouse on East Street

By Dick Hudson

The Patagonia community is on several streets going up the west hill of the Shenango Valley, with North State Line Road as the dividing line between Ohio and Pennsylvania and the towns of Brookfield, OH, and Sharon, PA. One of those streets that goes up the hill off North Water Street (the street that parallels the Shenango River) is Superior Street. A third of the way up the half-mile street, East Street runs to the right and is the street on which the Patagonia schoolhouse was located.

[Sketch of Patagonia Schoolhouse by Dan DeBonis, March 2, 1939.
DeBonis was the artist of several large paintings that were

on the walls of the Sharon (PA) Store for many years.]

The Patagonia community and the school maintained a stable environment, a sense of togetherness. And the teachers at the school remained the same for quite a number of years: Miss Ebert (Principal) first grade; Mrs. Komlos, second grade; Mrs. Shollenberger, third grade; and Mrs. Wimer, fourth grade. Mrs. McGinnis was the custodian. With less than 20 students in each grade, all students were known well by the teachers. I attended Patagonia School from first grade through the fourth, 1951 to 1955.

Map of area surrounding Patagonia, PA
[Google Map showing Superior and East streets, Patagonia, PA.]

After turning off Superior Street onto East Street, the school would be immediately on the left (west side). There were little ditches on both sides of East Street up to the school, and on the corner of the school lot stood a fairly small tree (though big enough for climbing up a bit). Facing the school front, farther up along the left border of the lot were both a large swing frame with two swings on it and a monkey-bar fixture for climbing. Farther up in that direction stood a very large (I think maple) tree out from the back corner of the first-grade classroom.

In front of the school was the entrance area, a large square 40 yards to the street by 50 yards wide (an estimate at best), was covered in gravel, sometimes too thick to ride one’s bike through it. This area led to cement steps on each of the three sides going up and into the building.

Patagonia School: Interior

Inside, there were a few more steps and then the hall (usually with drawings or other artwork of students hanging on both sides). The hall then widened into a square with the first-grade door straight ahead, that classroom being on the back left corner of the school. A small water fountain was to the right of the door. The second grade was in the back right corner of the school, and the door was farther to the right and facing across the square area. In between the second-grade door and the fountain was another door, this one leading downstairs to the basement.

On the left of this square area was the door for the third-grade room that was at the front left corner of the building, and the fourth-grade room was on the right front corner. Also, to the left of the square area were openings that led to stairs going down to one side the girls’ restroom and on the other side to the boys’ restroom.

Also, off the square area to the right was the “teachers’ room,” a room with a cot, running water, and a place for teachers to get away a bit – plus a place where a sick child would go until being picked up and taken home.

Each classroom had eight windows, four on each of the two walls that faced out, and always with one of the windows facing out from the “cloak room” that each classroom had (though not many “cloaks” were worn). These windows, very wide and tall, would be raised in the fall and spring … allowing wasps to often come into the room, hover about on the ceiling (getting the attention of each of us – or at least me!), and then sometimes dropping straight down and landing where luck and fate might have it. That image still haunts me a bit!

In the basement, where a few times we saw movies and a ping-pong table and various games were available. There were pillars that held up the upper floors, and to the right of the stairs (through a door and out of sight) was the coal furnace for heating. On the other end of the downstairs was an opening with cement steps that led out flat doors toward the back left side of the building not very far from the big maple tree. The school had an active Parent-Teacher Association and I think some of their meetings took place in the basement during the years. However, most PTA meetings were held at the fire hall on Superior Street (I think that is correct).

Patagonia School: Exterior

Again, facing the school from the street, to the right of the school and toward the front, were two basketball hoops, though it was typically too muddy (or covered with snow) to play when it was basketball season. Somewhere along that side is where the teachers parked their cars, though very few cars were ever there.

In the back of the school was a big lot where at recess running and playing and letting off energy took place, sometimes organized “Red Rover, Red Rover, let —– come over,” or kickball or dodgeball or when snow was there “fox and the geese” along the snow paths that the students made. Also in winter, snow slides were made at the front of the lot where a few more small trees were and it sloped to the street. These slides would become sheer ice at times and a bit dangerous. Back then it seemed no one much noticed that we would slide and tumble onto East Street.

At one time, while first and second grade did have their own rooms, third and fourth shared one room, and fifth and sixth shared another room – that was before I entered first grade in 1951. When I was there, just four classrooms existed in the school. This earlier doubling up had been typical in many small schools, but it ended when the student population increased and the fifth and sixth-graders went elsewhere.

Behind the school was a large playing area, and in the summers it was part of the summer playground.

The building was torn down in the 1960s, replaced by a more modern one, but it remains a warm memory in the hearts of those who spent time in that modest little schoolhouse on East Street.

About the Community of Patagonia

Patagonia is located in Hickory/Hermitage Township, and at one time was connected to the rest of the Township. In the 1800s, the borough of Sharpsville was formed, taking the land that connected Patagonia with the rest of the Township. Thus, Patagonia was isolated across the Shenango River on the west hill of the Shenango Valley, yet always remained part of the Township.

The Patagonia School was centered in a community of tight streets and that meant that most of the students walked to school. Buses did bring in students from outside of Patagonia, as from Orangeville Road (where I lived) and Myers Hill. Patagonia School was in a real way, a city school — but the “city” of Patagonia was actually quite small though an original part of Hickory/Hermitage.

North State Line was the border between Ohio and Pennsylvania and separated Brookfield, Ohio, from Patagonia, which was in Pennsylvania. At the top of West Hill, the west side of North State Line Road was in Ohio and the east side of the same street was in Pennsylvania. That meant that close neighbors and friends could easily have attended schools in different states (both Sharon, PA, and Brookfield, OH). The others out in the township did not experience that, although there would have been students living in the Pennsylvania towns of Clark, Sharpsville, Sharon, Farrell, or West Middlesex who were just across the street from their friends in Hickory.

One thing Patagonia did NOT have when I was young was a Little League organization. While other boys who liked baseball would have been able to play in the Hickory Little League, boys in Patagonia had to play in Sharon LL. We would walk across the Clark Street bridge, up through the middle of the Westinghouse plant, as Clark Street divided the big plant, turn left and walk along Sharpsville Avenue to the North Sharon Little League Field, about two miles each way. And after each game, we would take our nickel or dime and buy some candy and “pop” at Saul’s little store (I think the name was Saul?).

Other Patagonia Memories

A few more memories: catching falling leaves from the big maple tree behind the first-grade room at recess in the fall and early days of the school year; the smell of new blue jeans until they were washed a few times; our getting polio shots and all of us feeling “sick” (mostly mental) until we went outside for recess and all were fine; getting a physical exam in the back of our classroom with a few curtains blocking the view; Mrs. Shollenberger, on the last day of school, collecting marbles from the boys when they were dropped on the floor, and tossing them out the front window of her third-grade room with the idea that the boys could go and try to find them.

[“My Weekly Reader,” 1964.]

I remember, too, making various artwork for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Presidents in February, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter, with Mrs. Lake coming by every few weeks to give us art lessons. Mrs. Tarr also coming on occasion to give us voice/phonics/enunciating practice. And Mrs. Pasin, the nurse, checking on our general health each year. Also, thinking that cleaning the erasers was a neat thing to do, despite getting chalk flown all about, or emptying the pencil sharpener; getting the Weekly Reader each week, often with a big map coming with it for the teacher, and a student getting to keep the map sometimes.

And the memories keep coming: In the first grade, singing at the beginning of each day, “Good morning dear teacher . . .”; pledging allegiance to the flag; getting in line often and standing at attention for various reasons; sitting up straight at our desks so our row could be first to do something.

An occasional “program” for the PTA when it would meet downstairs on folding chairs. A radio program on WPIC . . . “Hickory Schools are on the air” was the opening. Mrs. Wimer being out some of the time and Mrs. Dresch taking her place in my fourth-grade year. (Mrs. Wimer died here in Athens, GA, some years ago and I went to her funeral, not knowing she was here in a nursing home until she died. Her daughter, whom I met that day, told me that Mrs. Wimer had not spoken for eight years, but I don’t know what illness she must have had.)

[“Hickory Township Schools Broadcast Every Tuesday Morning at 9:05 Throughout the School Year.” Go to “An Old-Timer’s History of Sharon” for more about this program.]

At Halloween we would dress up after lunch (with most being able to go home and back) and we would then guess who each one was. It was pretty easy to tell for the most part as there were not many of us, and we also all knew each other’s shoes – which were seldom covered. And, on our birthday we would bring candy bars for the rest of the students.

The next to last day of the school year, we would go to Conneaut Lake Park for the day, then return to school the next morning for just a few hours to get our report cards. That final short day was one when we could bring a younger sibling and in fourth grade I brought my sister Judy, later being told that I had been “very protective.”

And in the summers, the school was open in the basement, with a ping-pong table set up, and various games to play (checkers, chess, jacks, dominos, and others).

All in all, it was a very fortunate beginning for us, with dedicated teachers, good fellow students, caring parents, and a feeling of being safe.

— Dick Hudson (HHS 1963), Colbert, GA, June 1, 2020.

About the Author

Dr. Richard A. (“Dick”) Hudson grew up in the Patagonia area on the Orangeville Road and graduated from Hickory High School in 1963. He attended Slippery Rock (PA) University, which placed him in their Sports Hall of Fame, as well as designated him as a Distinguished Alumni Recipient one year. (He is also in the Mercer County, PA, Sports Hall of Fame.) Later, he received his doctoral degree at the University of Georgia, where he spent most of his career in charge of the University’s 1996 Olympic involvement and a Consultant to the 2000 Sydney Olympics, served as Director of the University’s Executive Programs, and coordinated several statewide projects and initiatives. Read more in the Spring 2020 issue of Connections / What’s New magazine, pages 18-21, by clicking here:

[HM Carl XVI Gustaf on left, presenting an honor to Richard Hudson. Atlanta, GA, c. 1997.]

He has been honored twice at the White House for projects he did for Georgia, and also by Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden, in a ceremony in Atlanta for coordinating Sweden’s Olympic pre-Olympic training in 1995 and 1996.

Dick Hudson is a retired faculty member at the University of Georgia. His current home is in the countryside near Colbert, Georgia.

See Other Posts by Dick Hudson:
How PATAGONIA (PA) Got Its Name

THE WINDING DOWN of “Small Town Memories”

by Ann Angel Eberhardt

It’s time to slow down. I’m not referring to my life in general (although that’s happening, too) but to the frequency of Small Town Memories blogs. From now on, you may not see a new blog each month, but only when guest writers, co-editor Eric Bombeck or I have put together a new story to share. 

Sharpsville (PA) Service Club sign promoting the Santa Project, c. 2016.

This was bound to occur eventually, as my stay in Sharpsville amounted to only ten years, from the time I was nine years old until my college years. But what a very pleasant time it was, with enough memories to keep the site going for six years! Irene Caldwell O’Neill (1942-2013; SHS 1960) wouldn’t have been surprised. She had the original idea to gather Sharpsville memories, believing that there would be many entertaining stories worth recording. I’d like to think she would be very pleased with the results.

Winding Down: Acknowledgments

Crick’s Pharmacy on the corner of N. Mercer Avenue and E. Shenango Street, Sharpsville, PA, c. 1950. Courtesy of Sharpsville Area Historical Society.

Many thanks to the readers of this blog site whose continued interest in and contributions to Small Town Memories were essential to its continuation. Several responded with stories of their own, each entertaining as well as chock-full of bits of Sharpsville history: Eric Bombeck, Gary Conti, Donna DeJulia, Gail Nitch Hanes, Judy McCracken, Ralph C. Mehler II, Judy Caldwell Nelson, Irene Caldwell O’Neill and Bill Parcetic — all Sharpsville High School graduates. Also, these and others made significant contributions to blogs that I wrote: Allegra Dungan Colapietro (SHS), Tom Hoovler, Jim Jovenall (SHS), Mary Clair Mahaney and DeVaux McLean III (SHS). (See “Author Index” for links to their stories.) As each writer and I worked together on his or her story, I felt as if I’d gained a new friend. 

Also, much credit goes to my brothers Mike and Pat Angel, who added to the Sharpsville stories from their own perspectives, and my father, August Angel, who left a treasure trove of information in his memoir, Trivia & Me.

This Canonsburg, PA, 1950 Isaly’s store-front looks very much like Sharpsville’s Isaly’s in the 1950s. Permission pending from Brian Butko, author of “The Story of Isaly’s: Klondikes, Chipped Ham, & Skyscraper Cones,” Stackpole Books, 2001.

Quite a few others were inspired to send Comments, which have totaled 467 so far (including my replies) and have always been positive. Comments in which the readers enriched the story at hand by adding their own details or submitting corrections were much appreciated.

Also, a big thank-you goes to Ralph Mehler, a board member of the Sharpsville Area Historical Society, who has been supportive and helpful, even submitting two stories of his own. His excellence as a historian is evidenced by the newsletters he writes for SAHS. Mr. Mehler has agreed to accept a collection of printouts of all the Small Town Memories blogs, to be placed in the SAHS collections.

City Building, Sharpsville, PA.,” c. 1930s. Image courtesy of Mike and Fredi Angel.

Throughout the years of researching, creating and editing stories, I was not only reminded of old memories, but I also discovered new facts about the various businesses, people, sites, traditions, events, etc., that I took for granted in my youth. The Small Town Memories project has truly enhanced my understanding of where I lived and ultimately who I am today. 

Pierce Mansion, built in 1874 by James Pierce in Sharpsville, PA. Demolished in 1952.

NOTE: Feel free to browse the site as long as it exists and revisit stories of times past in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding area. And if you’re inspired to do so (and wish to help this site carry on), please send us your own small town memories. You can attach your story (hopefully with photos) to an email or share a Google document with me at

–Ann Angel Eberhardt (SHS 1958), Editor,
Goodyear, Arizona


REMEMBERING RIDGE AVENUE – revisions and additions.

WHEATLAND FLATS II – a new Comment.

PETE JOYCE, COMMUNITY LEADER & OWNER OF ISALYS – A recently added photo of the interior of Isaly’s.

PETE JOYCE, Community Leader & Isaly’s Owner

by Ann Angel Eberhardt

One thing that always reminds me of Pete Joyce from the 1950s is chicken noodle soup.

“And what are we having for lunch today?” asked the tall waiter in a white apron as he advanced from behind the counter holding a receipt pad and pencil. “Chicken noodle soup, please!” answered one of the two children seated in the store’s red upholstered booth. It was the same question and the same answer each weekday for four months. 

[Peter Joyce, January 4, 1956. Excerpt from a photo in The Sharon (Pa.) Herald]

The waiter chose two small cans labeled Heinz’s Chicken Noodle Soup from a shelf, then heated and served this warm and savory lunch along with packets of crisp soda crackers. The children were my brother Mike and myself. (My nine-year-old reasoning was that if we tried any other soup, we may not like it and then go hungry for the rest of the afternoon.) We paid 15 cents for each bowl. The patient and accommodating waiter was Pete Joyce, owner of Isaly’s Dairy on the corner of Main and Third streets, Sharpsville, PA.

This daily routine was occurring in the fall of 1949, during a time when my family was preparing to move about six miles from Wheatland to Sharpsville. Because the remodeling of our new Second Street home and printshop wasn’t completed by September, my parents thought my brother and I should begin the 1949-1950 school year at Robison School in Sharpsville in any case. That meant that we had to commute by public bus (including transfer to a second bus on State Street in Sharon) to attend fourth (my brother) and fifth grades with a break for lunch, ours being at Isaly’s. After school we would meet my dad, who ran a printshop on Walnut Street, and the three of us would return to Wheatland. This commute lasted until we finally moved into our new residence just before Christmas. 

[“Isaly Dairy Co. 306 W. Main Street, Sharpsville, with manager Frank Porter holding grandson Larry Shannon, June 1939.” Photo courtesy of Sharpsville Area historical Society.]

There were a few other direct connections between my family and Mr. Joyce that I can recall. Approximately six years later, Pete Joyce, by then a former burgess and now councilman, swore in three new members of the Sharpsville Council. One of those members was August Angel, my dad. 

[Above: THREE NEW COUNCILMEN FOR SHARPSVILLE — Three men joined Sharpsville’s seven-member borough council last night, when Burgess Peter Joyce, second from left, administered the oath of office to G. Raymond Hittle, D., Clair Osborne, D., and August Angel, R. (hands upraised, left to right). They will serve four-year terms. Looking on at left is the new council president, Maurice Nelson, D. Source: The Sharon (Pa.) Herald, January 4, 1956, p. 12.]

In 1961, Pete Joyce and my dad, “two veteran Sharpsville political personalities,” according to a Sharon Herald article, were unopposed for their party’s nomination for burgess at the May primary elections. Pete Joyce, a Democrat, won the election in November, replacing the retiring Burgess George D. Mahaney.

Throughout our years in Sharpsville my family continued to shop at Isaly’s, purchasing such items as milk and cream and Isaly’s iconic skyscraper cones, chipped chopped ham, Klondikes and half-gallon brick-shaped ice cream in delicious flavors such as Neapolitan (layers of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry) and White House Cherry (vanilla mixed with Maraschino cherries). Mr. Joyce wasn’t always the waiter since he hired young teens to help out.

My younger brother, Pat, recalls that the first hamburger he ever ate was at Isaly’s. Pat says he can still see Pete Joyce in a white waiter’s hat and apron serving him a sizzling patty of ground beef between slices of a round white bun with a dill pickle on the side and squeeze bottles of ketchup and mustard for the taking. The cost of the hamburger was 25 cents.

[Above: This Canonsburg, PA, 1950 Isaly’s store-front looks very much like Sharpsville’s Isaly’s in the 1950s. Source: Brian Butko’s The Story of Isaly’s: Klondikes, Chipped Ham, & Skyscraper Cones, Stackpole Books, 2001.]

I seldom eat canned chicken noodle soup these days except as my comfort food when I have a bad cold. But the chicken-broth odor and salty taste of that soup still bring to mind Isaly’s and Pete Joyce, the man who was mayor of Sharpsville in the 1950s and 60s.


All the while that Pete Joyce owned and operated Isaly’s, an early type of convenience store that provided the community with deli and dairy products, magazines and comic books, and other everyday items, he also tirelessly served in a variety of political, governmental, civil and church endeavors. 

After graduation from Sharpsville High School in 1929, he attended the former Shenango Valley Commercial Institute in Sharon, PA. He first entered politics when serving on the Sharpsville Area School Board in 1940, while, according to the 1940 U.S. Census, he was an A&P store manager. 

His first and second terms on the board were interrupted by World War II. Joyce enlisted in the U.S. Army on January 28, 1942, and served four years as a captain of the Army Truck Company 3891 and was awarded the Bronze Star.

After his war years, Joyce was councilman and mayor of Sharpsville for numerous terms, ending his political career as Mercer County Commissioner. According to The Herald, March 22, 2001,

He followed [his military service] with 18 years as a borough official, including terms as burgess and then mayor from 1953 through 1957 and 1961 through 1969. Joyce also was elected in 1958 and again in 1976 as county commissioner. In 1962 he came within 3,000 votes of being elected to Congress.

“Sharpsville: Hibernians tap Joyce for honor.” The (Sharon) Herald, March 22, 2001

Joyce was a member of many other boards throughout the years. He was a board member of Catholic Charities (for 50 years); the former McDowell Bank (now National City); the Buhl Trustees; Mercer County Board of Elections; and chairman of the board of the Mercer County Area Agency on Aging Inc. He was a member of the Catholic Social Service Club for many years and president of its advisory board. 

He initiated the formation of a pension fund for borough employees and donated his own salary to it. He led efforts that resulted in the establishment of the Mercer County Regional Council of Governments and the Shenango Valley Regional Planning Commission (now Mercer County Regional Planning Commission). He also belonged to the Pennsylvania Economy League. In 1973 he was appointed regional municipal services officer for PennDOT. 

His participation in many other philanthropic and service organizations included a 40-year membership with the Sharpsville Service Club and its past president, chair of the Community Chest (now United Way), as well as a member of the Pennsylvania Economic League. Mr. Joyce was a fundraiser for Kennedy Christian High School in Hermitage, PA, which was established in 1964 and since 2001 is known as Kennedy Catholic High School. 

He was a lifelong member of  St. Bartholomew Church in Sharpsville where he was a Confraternity of Christian Doctrine teacher of young people. He eventually became the church’s oldest male parishioner. In addition, he served as president of the former Mercer County Holy Name Society.

As a member of the Mercer County Historical Society, Joyce was respected for his knowledge of Mercer County history and genealogy. According to his obituary in The Herald

He was fascinated by history, especially of the local area, Thomas Jefferson and the Civil War. He often acted as a source of information for others with similar interests.

“Pete Joyce” Obituary. The (Sharon) Herald, March 22, 2006

Pete Joyce was named “Man of the Year” by Shenango Valley Jaycees and Shenango Valley Junior Chamber of Commerce. In 1977, he was named outstanding Democrat of the year by Reynolds Area 2 Democrats. The date of February 2, 1980, was declared “Peter J. Joyce Day” by local mayors. These and many other tributes show the high esteem that the community held for a man who had a vivid sense of duty to his church, community and country and an indefatigable love of work! 


According to the U.S. Censuses, Joyce’s grandparents, Peter M. Joyce (c.1868-1940) and Nora Murray Joyce (c.1865-1950) immigrated from Ireland in c. 1893 and were among many who were attracted to Pennsylvania by opportunities for work in the steel mills and on the railroads. 

Pete Joyce was born in Sharpsville on April 11 1911, the youngest of six children: Bridget, Mary (1901-1981), Patrick J. (1903-1979), Norah (Nora? 1906-1918), Catharine F. (1909-2002), and Peter (1911-2006).

The 1920, 1930 and 1940 U.S. Censuses record the family as living on Walnut Street in Sharpsville, next door to the Biggins family whose recent ancestors were also from Ireland. James A., one of the Biggins children and close to Pete Joyce’s age, became one of Sharpsville’s well-known and fondly remembered medical doctors. Next door to the Biggins lived George F. Mahaney and his family. George F. was the son of George D. Mahaney, a longtime Sharpsville burgess who was succeeded by Joyce in 1961.

On May 5, 1943, Pete Joyce married Madeline Lucille (O’Connor). They had two daughters, Madeline and Patricia, and a son, Thomas P. Joyce.

Peter (“Pete”) J. Joyce died on March 17, 2006, at the age of 94, and was buried in Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Heritage, PA, where he joined other deceased Joyce family members, including his wife Madeline who died in 2000 at the age of 88.

— Ann Angel Eberhardt (SHS 1958), Goodyear, AZ. 

See Also:


Butko, Brian. Klondikes, Chipped Ham & Skyscraper Cones: The Story of Isaly’s. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2001. Print.

“Find A Grave Index,” database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 January 2020), Peter J. Joyce, ; Burial, Hermitage, Mercer, Pennsylvania, Saint Marys Cemetery; citing record ID 97764525, Find a Grave, Internet resource.

“PETE JOYCE (Peter J. Joyce 1911-2006).” Obituary in The (Sharon) Herald, Mar 22, 2006. 

“SHARPSVILLE: Hibernians tap Joyce for honor.” The (Sharon) Herald, March 22, 2001. 

“United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 January 2020), Peter Joyce in household of Peter Joyce, Hickory, Mercer, Pennsylvania, United States; citing ED 88, sheet 14A, line 22, family 284, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992). Internet resource.

“United States Census, 1930,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 January 2020), Pennsylvania > Mercer > Sharpsville > ED 72 > image 30 of 34; citing NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002). Internet resource.

“United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 January 2020), Peter J Joyce in household of Peter M Joyce, Ward 2, Sharpsville, Sharpsville Borough, Mercer, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 43-83, sheet 4A, line 16, family 60 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration). Internet resource.


by Ann Angel Eberhardt

Ridge Avenue was certainly a suitable name for the street. It was presumably named in Sharpsville’s early days for the section of the street that runs along the top of a hill from South First Street to South Seventh Street. (I personally know that at least part of Ridge Avenue is on a hilltop because I trekked up a very steep Second Street many times in rain, snow, sleet and hail in the 1950s to attend Sharpsville High School on Ridge Avenue!)

Over the decades, Ridge Avenue grew in length and now stretches from Eighteenth Street on its west side to South Mercer Avenue in the east. For the most part, the street runs parallel with Main Street to its north (until Fifteenth Street) and Pierce Avenue to its south. 

Ridge Avenue, with its many wood-framed houses interspersed with small businesses offering a variety of services, three churches offering peace and comfort, and a high school devoted to the education of the town’s young people, was a somewhat busier street in the 1950s than it is today.


When I was growing up in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania, in the 1950s, there were at least four car service shops: 

  • Ridgeway Auto Service, 1417 Ridge Avenue near Fourteenth Street, owned by T. L. Petricini.
  • McKean & Osborne, 965 Ridge Avenue at Tenth Street, owned by Joe McKean.
  • Marrie Pennz-Oil Station, corner Ridge and Walnut streets. “Get Your Car Greased While You Work — We will Call For & Deliver –”
  • D&S Atlantic Service, corner Ridge and Walnut streets.


The three Ridge Avenue churches that I recall are still, after many decades, in operation today: St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church, First Presbyterian Church of Sharpsville and Church of the Nazarene.

St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church, Ridge Avenue, Sharpsville, PA. (Source: Church website)

In June of 1908, Rev. Michael A. Miller began overseeing the construction of a new St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church at 311 West Ridge Avenue. According to A Twentieth Century History of Mercer County Pennsylvania (Lewis Publishing 1909), the church “was built of native stone and Devonshire brick, with Cleveland stone trimmings, and [was] one of the finest and largest buildings in the city.” William Henry Adams was the contractor. It was more than 14 years before the church was entirely completed. (Go to “Italians in Sharpsville” for more about St. Bartholomew R. C. Church.)

The construction of the First Presbyterian Church of Sharpsville, located at 603 West Ridge Avenue, began in 1928 using native stone (since darkened by soot from the Shenango Furnace) from the Blaney farm east of Sharpsville. The building’s site, selected for its central location in town, was purchased from the McCracken family whose house was then relocated. When many pledges remained unfulfilled due to the Depression, the congregation volunteered their labor to build their church. It took until 1935 before they could move into a still-unfinished building, and it wasn’t until 1950 that construction was finally completed.

Construction of First Presbyterian Church, Ridge Avenue, Sharpsville, PA, c. 1929.
Source: Sharpsville Area Historical Society Newsletter, July 2014 (Vol. III, No. 2).

Sharpsville (PA) Church of the Nazarene, c. 2019. Source: Church website.

On the corner of Ridge Avenue and Eighth Street stands the Sharpsville Church of the Nazarene, a Protestant Christian church. The building was formerly occupied by the United Brethren. The Church of the Nazarene congregation held its first service on Christmas Eve, 1938, in the old Presbyterian Church on First and Main streets. Approximately two months later the church used a storeroom at 28 Shenango Street for its then 20 charter members. In the spring of 1941, they moved to the church they occupy to this day, a building at 804 West Ridge that they purchased for $9,000. A new parsonage was purchased at 810 West Ridge Avenue in 1952, replacing the old one on Eighth Street, which was eventually replaced by a parking lot.


The first graduation from Sharpsville High School took place in 1884, approximately 36 years before the construction of the school building in about 1920 on Ridge Avenue between First and Second streets. Where the graduates attended school before then is a mystery, but a clue may be seen in the c. 1910 class photo of Sharpsville High School students. They appear to be standing in front of the Robison School.

The high school was designed by Taylor and Hanna, Sharon architects, and constructed by Wallis and Corley, Sharon contractors. The cost of the building (consisting of 14 rooms, a gymnasium and basement) and furnishings was approximately $150,000, about $3 million in today’s dollars. By 1922 the school graduated 18 students, according to Pete Joyce’s speech celebrating Dr. Bailey’s life in Sharpsville.

I attended Sharpsville High School from grades seven through twelve in the 1950s (in 1958 103 of us graduated). My high school memories and those of others are described in the following blogs: “Junior High School,” “Senior High School Traditions” and “SHS Class of 1958 Celebrates Its 60th!” 

In the year after I graduated, a brand new high school building opened in 1959 on Blue Devil Way for junior and senior Sharpsville students. The old building became the “William P. Snyder Middle School,” named for the owner of Shenango Furnace Company, which operated blast furnaces in Sharpsville from the early 1900s until the 1970s. 

When a new space was created for Sharpsville Area Middle School next to the Sharpsville Area High School, schooldays at the Ridge Avenue building were at an end. Instead, the large red brick structure at 100 West Ridge Avenue was converted to a privately owned mixed-use complex and renamed the TrailBlazer Building, now holding about a dozen commercial tenants as well as 23 apartments. 

I feel a sense of loss and sadness when I think of the demolition of some of Sharpsville’s historic buildings, such as the Pierce Mansion and the Mahaney Building. But how comforting it is to know that a new life has been found for the Sharpsville High School building on Ridge Avenue! 


Among the ads in the 1956 Devil’s Log Yearbook was one for Dick’s TV Center at 211 Ridge Avenue. It read,

Service & Distributors for Sylvania, G.E., Philco,
R.C.A., Admiral, Crosley, Emerson, Stewart Warner

In 1953 my father purchased our first television and it was most likely from this shop. (It was a big event when that black-and-white Philco with a 21-inch screen was placed in a featured spot in our living room, even though the only available TV stations in Sharpsville at that time were channels 73 [WFMJ-TV – NBC] and 27 [WKBN-TV – CBS], both from Youngstown, Ohio.) [Revisions and additions were made to this paragraph on February 10, 2020.]

And this shop was probably the one we regularly called for a repairman when our TV malfunctioned, often when one of the TV’s vacuum tubes burned out. Because a TV set in those days was like a large piece of furniture, repairmen usually made house calls. Today, with modern flat-screen sets being difficult to fix and often disposable, the TV repairman is a relic of the past. The building that held Dick’s TV Center, across Ridge Avenue from the high school, still exists today and is still in use by a small business.

Dick’s TV Center is featured in “A Christmas Kindness,” a blog about the owner’s very nice gesture to my brother and me when we wanted to buy a Christmas tree. I couldn’t recall the name of the store, but a reader reminded me it was Weber’s TV. Possibly the owner’s name was Dick Weber.

Stevenson Funeral Home at 1142 West Ridge Avenue is no longer in operation at this site. Neither is Stewart’s Grocery that occupied a little building on the corner of West Ridge and Seventh Street. In the 1950s we students from the Robison Elementary School would stop at Stewart’s after school with our pennies and nickels to buy candies.

Sandy’s, at 212 West Ridge Avenue, was another after-school stopping place in the 1950s, in this case by the high school students. Located a few doors from Second Street on the same side as Sharpsville High School, it was a popular venue for meeting with friends, listening to the latest rock ‘n roll 45 rpm records on the coin-operated jukebox, chatting on the pay phone or sipping soda from glass bottles. 

Sandy’s on West Ridge Avenue, Sharpsville, PA, 1956. Source: 1956 Devil’s Log Yearbook.

Ridge Avenue served its townspeople well some 70 years ago. And as much as certain features have changed since then on this little street, some have stayed the same. For those things that have been consigned to the dusty bins of the past, all we have left are a few photographs, if any, and our memories.


1956 Devil’s Log Sharpsville (PA) High School Yearbook.

First Presbyterian Church of Sharpsville website.

“First Presbyterian Church.” Sharpsville Area Historical Society Newsletter, July 2014, Vol. III, No. 2, page 4.

Sharpsville Church of the Nazarene website.

“Sharpsville High School Students abt 1910.” Class photo on

“Sharpsville’s Golden Anniversary, 1874-1924.” Supplement to the Sharon (PA) Telegraph, June 7, 1924, pp 10 & 14. Courtesy of the Sharpsville Area Historical Society.

St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church website.

White, John G. A Twentieth Century History of Mercer County Pennsylvania. Chicago, IL: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1909. Pages 647 & 953.

WADE D. MERTZ, Contractor & Burgess

by Ann Angel Eberhardt

In the 1950s while I was growing up in Sharpsville, “Wade D. Mertz & Son” was the well-known name of a store where my dad bought lumber and other building needs.

Today, some 60-plus years later, Wade D. Mertz Towers is an 8-story senior housing apartment building on South Mercer Avenue, built in 1976 on the grounds of the former Deeter Elementary School.

Who was Wade D. Mertz? As evidenced by an article in the 1924 “Sharpsville’s Golden Anniversary” Supplement to The Sharon Telegraph, the Mertz name has been known in Sharpsville for more than 100 years! And Wade D. Mertz contributed even more than a building supplies store to the history of our small town. Check out his story below as it appeared in the “Golden Anniversary Supplement,” as the store was remembered by my brother, and as it comes together through a bit of genealogical research.

Wade D. Mertz, Contractor, Is Active in All Civic Affairs; Was Formerly Burgess

Is Also Interested in Other Lines to Boost Sharpsville

[Source: “Sharpsville’s Golden Anniversary” Supplement to The Sharon (PA) Telegraph, June 7, 1924, page 8.]

Wade D. Mertz, Sharpsville’s leading contractor, a former burgess and once head of the Improvement Association, is one of the community’s most prominent citizens and has long been interested in the town’s progress.

In his late ‘teens, he learned the carpenter trade and worked for several years as a builder.

He was elected burgess of Sharpsville in 1914 and served a two-year term. For two years he was president of the Sharpsville improvement association. With the organization of the Sharpsville Motor Club a few months ago, Mertz was named a member of the board of governors and is highly interested in the affairs of the organization.

In politics he is a staunch Democrat and has long been interested in the affairs of his party, local, county and state.

Fraternally he is a member of the Odd Fellows and Elks.

As a contractor and dealer in builders’ supplies, he has been highly successful, having one of the largest yards in this locality.

Wade D. Mertz & Son: A Fond Memory

Patrick Angel (SHS 1960-1964) submitted the following story, recalling the kindly help he received as a 10-year-old from a Wade D. Mertz & Son employee. Since then he’s often wondered whether that accommodating employee was actually Wade D. Mertz or his son.

In 1960, while studying arithmetic in the sixth grade at Pebly Elementary, Mr. McQuarter (we called him “Mr. McTwoBits”) assigned us a project to somehow visualize 1 cubic foot. He gave us a hint: We could complete our assignment with paper or clay or wood. 

I went to the lumber yard on Fourth and Main streets, told the gentleman who was in charge of the store about my assignment, and asked if he could saw a piece of wood for me that was 1 foot wide, 1 foot long and 1 foot high. I made the request without thinking that there might be a price to pay for such a request. The man told me to come back the next day after school.

I returned the next afternoon to find that the nice man had sawed out 12 pieces of wood that were exactly 1 foot square and 1 inch thick. (Now, as an adult, I realize that he took a 1-inch-thick x 12-inch-wide x 12-foot- long board and sawed it into 12 equal pieces.) On the counter in the store, he demonstrated for me that when the 12 pieces were stacked on top of each other, it made a block of wood that was exactly 1 cubic foot in volume.

Then the man asked in a gentle voice for me to guess the number of cubic inches that were contained in the cubic foot of wood that he had cut for me. When I guessed incorrectly several times, he turned over one of the 12 pieces that he had cut to reveal 144 one-inch squares neatly drawn with a pencil on the surface. He said that each little square represented 1 cubic inch. He showed me how to calculate the number of cubic inches in the single piece of wood by multiplying the number of cubic inches on two sides (12 x 12 = 144). Then he showed me how to calculate the number of cubic inches in all 12 pieces stacked on each other to form the 1-cubic-foot block (144 x 12 = 1728).

He did not mention a charge or ask for a payment. He simply put the 12 pieces of wood in a large paper bag for me, patted me on the head and sent me off to school with my math assignment completed and a lesson so well learned that when I went off to college to study forestry I had no problem visualizing the difference between a lumber man’s “board foot” versus a mathematician’s “cubic foot.”

Patrick Angel, London, KY.

Wade D. Mertz: Family Background

Wade D. Mertz was born on December 7, 1878, to Henry Mertz, a carpenter, and Emaline (Emma) Mertz. At the time of his birth, he had four sisters ranging in age from eight to 17 (Frances, Cora, Naoma, and Austy A.). A younger brother, Norman H., was born c. 1881. The family lived on Seventh Street where Mertz appears to have lived the rest of his life.

At age 22, Mertz was listed in the 1900 U.S. Census as a “laborer, blast furnace,” but by the time he married Minnie Florence Godward in October 1909, he was a contractor, an occupation more closely related to his father’s carpentry work. (Minnie, born in Lowellville, PA, in 1877, was living in Sharpsville and working as a clerk when she married Mertz.)

[Wade B. (sic) Mertz advertisement in The Sharon (PA) Telegraph‘s supplement celebrating Sharpsville’s Golden Anniversary. June 7, 1924, page 2.]

In approximately 1914, the couple had a son, Robert Henry Mertz. As of 1917-1918, Mertz’s lumber supply business was located on Fourth Street.

Four years before the Sharon Telegraph article above, the United States Census of 1920 shows that Wade Mertz, a contractor/builder, continued to live on Seventh Street in Sharpsville, along with Minnie, Robert and his widowed mother, Emma, age 79.

By the time Wade D. Mertz registered for service in World War II in 1942, his business, “Wade D. Mertz & Son” was located at 432 Main Street. The “son” was Robert who, with his wife, Elizabeth Stuart Bradshaw Mertz (1914-1991), also lived on Seventh Street.

Wade D. Mertz died in November 1971 at age 93. His son Robert Mertz died in 1992. Whether through politics or their commercial enterprise, both father and son have left a long legacy of service to Sharpsville, Pennsylvania.

Wade D. Mertz and his business have been mentioned in other Small Town Memories blogs. “Dr. Bailey’s Sharpsville 1920s, Part II” recreates Pete Joyce’s talk describing 1920s Sharpsville in honor of Dr. Nelson Bailey’s arrival in town at that time. Among the thriving businesses at the time, Joyce mentions that “Wade Mertz was doing some building and selling coal and feed, etc.” In the 1954 description of a fire that destroyed Welch House on Main Street, “Mertz lumber yard” is named as a neighboring building. The Deeter Elementary School blog refers to (and has an image of) Mertz Towers, which replaced the school building in 1976.

(NOTE: If you have memories of Wade D. Mertz or the Wade D. Mertz & Son lumber yard, please share them with us. Enter them in the Comments box below or send them — and any photos — to

— Ann Angel Eberhardt (SHS 1958), Goodyear, AZ
and Patrick Angel (SHS 1960-1964, London, KY

“Sharpsville’s Golden Anniversary.” Supplement to the Sharon (PA) Telegraph, June 7, 1924. Courtesy of the Sharpsville Area Historical Society. Internet resource.

U.S. Censuses 1880, 1900, 1920, 1930, 1940. Databases with images, Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. Internet resource.

U.S. Social Security Death Index, U.S. WWI Draft Registration Card, Marriage License dockets, 1885-1905, U.S. WWII Draft Registration Card, 1942, and FamilySearch Pedigree Tree. Databases with images, Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. Internet resource.

Several updates have been made to past blogs on “Small Town Memories.” Asterisks (*) indicate changes made to the following stories: “Main Street Memories,” “Angel’s Casino: The Early Years,” and “The Reluctant Politician.” Also, two stray Comments have been added to “ARCHIVE: Comments” under “About (Introduction).”


by Eric Bombeck

[A jam-packed stagecoach rushes through town. Source unknown.]

It’s hard to believe that around the time Sharon, Pennsylvania, was first settled c. 1800, 500 yards up the west hill was considered “The West,” or more accurately, “The Western Reserve.” In those early days if you wanted to get somewhere you rode a horse, drove a horse-drawn buggy, sailed in a ship, or walked. The 1800s, however, was a century of change. If you were born about the same time Sharon was founded and lived to be 100, you would see life-changing advances in transportation, primarily in steamboats, trains, automobiles and in the increased number of canals and roads.

There were many small communities in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, but they were all isolated from each other. It really was not much different from how it was back in Europe since antiquity. Many communities over there, a mere fifty miles apart, often barely spoke the same language. Here in Pennsylvania and Ohio, the advent of one thing began to tie all the communities together — the stagecoach.

[French forts in the Ohio Valley, 1754. Source:]

In the late 1700s, the French began to expand the ancient Indian trails so that they could build a series of forts in western Pennsylvania to protect their land from the British: Fort Presque Isle in Erie, Fort Le Boeuf in Waterford, Fort Machault in Franklin and Fort Duquesne in Pittsburgh. (Concerned by reports of French expansion into the Ohio Valley, the British sent a young George Washington right through our area in 1754 to negotiate with the French.) 

By the War of 1812, as troops began to travel on foot to Erie, it became clear that better roads were needed. Turnpikes were being built all around the region. It was inevitable then that stagecoach lines would begin to pop up. The first stagecoach lines began to appear here around 1817. The stagecoaches were not initially received very well. In Ohio, when the Conneaut-to-Poland stage line came in, people were so leery of it that they protested. 

[Excerpt from Map of Pennsylvania, 1832, showing (in blue) stagecoach route. General Maps Collection, Library of Congress.]

Soon other lines sprang up. The Franklin & Warren (PA) stage line had three routes in the region. The route between Mercer and Warren, Ohio, ran right through the Shenango Valley. The stagecoach named “The President Jackson” left the Greentree Inn in Mercer at noon, then stopped in Sharon, then Charleston where the horses were switched out with a new team. This was done Nascar-style every 12 miles with teams switching out in under 10 minutes and passengers rarely even getting out. The route continued through Sharpsville, Sharon, Brookfield and Vienna, and ended up in Warren, Ohio. The miracle of the stagecoach: 31 miles in only 8 hours! Or at least that’s how long it was supposed to take.

The “dean of the Mercer-Warren stage line drivers” during the 1860s was the rough-riding, independent Mike Malhony. Even though it was his job to be prompt, Mike was one of those guys who wasn’t exactly tied down to any schedule. Sometimes the stage would leave at noon, sometimes closer to 1:00. Many passengers who were trying to get to the stage stop in Sharon (Tom Porter’s Tavern) often arrived an hour late. 

In the 1840s, Randall D. Wilmot opened up a stagecoach stop on the other side of Warren, Ohio. The complex had a bar, store and lunch stand. Randall, somewhat of an eccentric marketing genius, named the area “The Center of the World.” When the railroad made “The Center of the World” obsolete, Wilmot moved to Cortland, Ohio, and opened a grocery store called “The End of the World.” (If you travel Route 5 on the other side of Warren you’ll still see a road sign that reads “The Center of the World,” where an unincorporated community of a few houses still exists.)

As stagecoach lines grew, so did communication between towns. Travelers from bigger cities carried “gossip” and often newspapers with them that small-town folk could read. Villages that were once isolated now had a lifeline to the rest of the region. The post office, realizing horses were now antiquated, began using stage lines to send mail. (The number of post offices in Pennsylvania rose from only 3,000 in 1815 to 28,000 in 1860.)

The life span of the rough-and-tumble stagecoaches was relatively short. In the earlier years of the 1800s, they contended with the Erie Canal. In later years, railroads offered relatively luxurious travel accommodations and were faster and cheaper than the stage lines. In many places around the country, the stagecoach lines lasted until the automobile knocked them out, some even lasting until World War I.

[George Bancroft, John Wayne and Louise Platt in Stagecoach (1939). Source: “Stagecoach (1939 film),” Wikipedia.]

We all have some image of the stagecoach era in our psyche, something akin to Jimmy Stewart sauntering up to help a pretty pioneer girl off the stage or John Wayne in the classic Western movie, Stagecoach. But the next time you get into your SUV with heated seats and electronic stability control remember this quote from the 19th-century American author Washington Irving on stagecoach travel…

There is certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in traveling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position, and be bruised in a new place.

[The Old Stone House, Slippery Rock, PA.]

If you travel on the William Flynn Highway to Slippery Rock, PA, you can see an old stagecoach stop and tavern. The Old Stone House was constructed in 1822 by John Brown as a resting place for weary travelers on the busy Pittsburgh-to-Erie Pike. Go to for more information about this stagecoach inn and history museum of rural life.

— Eric Bombeck (SHS 1979), South Pymatuning, PA.


Bombeck, Eric. The Way It Was Newspaper, Facebook, June 2019. 

“Center of the World, Ohio.” Wikipedia.

History of Rail Transportation in the United States.” Wikipedia

NCPEDIA, an online encyclopedia about all things North Carolina.

“The Old Stone House” website.

“Tales of the Mahoning and Shenango Valleys.” Recordings made in the 1950s by The Industrial Information Institute, Inc., Youngstown, OH, 1951-10. 

For an eyewitness account of stagecoach travel, read Roughing It (American Publishing Company, 1872), a semi-autobiographical book by Mark Twain. With his rough-hewn humor, Twain tells of his jarring ride over potholes and ruts from Missouri to Nevada.


by Ann Angel Eberhardt

This month marks the fifth-year anniversary of Small Town Memories! We’ve been going strong since August 2014 when the first post, “Coffee Stir,” was published. Who knew that so much history — this is our 78th post — could be gathered for a blogsite that focused mostly on life in one small town during one short period in the mid-20th century! Many thanks to those who joined with us to preserve and share the history of Sharpsville, Pennsylvania, and its surrounding area.

Stories contributed by Eric Bombeck, this site’s co-editor, are helping to expand the time frame and geographical area of Small Town Memories to include the Shenango Valley, a place that the Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce describes as “a charming tapestry of small cities, boroughs and townships.” Stay tuned for Eric’s next story.

NOTE: Posts that have been published in the past are sometimes updated or corrected, so remember to check back on your favorites from time to time to see if anything has changed or something new, such as a photo or comment, has been added. The latest additions are photographs of Reynolds Drive-In and the pavilion at Buhl Park as they look today, submitted by Mike Angel on a recent return visit to Sharpsville, his hometown. Also, a second advertisement for Mahaney’s Clothing Store, submitted by Eric Bombeck, has been included in last month’s blog, Part I of “The Two George Mahaneys.”

“Young” George F. Mahaney

“Young” George F. Mahaney did not exactly follow in the footsteps of his father, “Old” George D. Mahaney, who was a well-known businessman and longtime Burgess of Sharpsville, Pennsylvania. Instead, Young George carved out his own notable path. 

George F. Mahaney: Memories of Early 1900s Sharpsville

In a 1979 interview originally published in The Herald, George F. Mahaney, born in 1908, remembers details of life as it was in Sharpsville in his earliest days. This interview can be read in full in the November 2012 Newsletter for the Sharpsville Area Historical Society under “Reminiscences of George F. Mahaney Jr.” Among the various bits of Sharpsville’s history that Mahaney related are the following excerpts:

  • In 1915, the only three places in Mercer County licensed to sell alcoholic beverages were located in Sharpsville: The Knapp Hotel on Main and Walnut streets run by Mahaney’s father, the Welch House owned by Martin Welch on Fourth and Main, and Pierce House, owned by James Pierce where the plaza is located now on Mercer and Shenango streets.
  • example of streetcar

    “Thornton Hollow Street Car and Public Bridge near Sharpsville, PA.” Used with permission from Wayne Cole, author of Ghost Rails XI: Shenango Valley Steel : Sharon Steel Co, ColeBooks, Beaver Falls, PA, 2014.

    All three hotels followed the law that liquor could not be served after 9 p.m. Special streetcars would arrive in Sharpsville around 5 or 6 p.m., packed with people to visit the hotels before the 9 p.m. deadline. The streetcar operated until 12:30 a.m. Sometimes the motorman would sleep in the streetcar because he had to begin driving it again at 5:30 a.m. to take people to work.

  • People would go to an Erie Railroad station at the foot of Mercer Avenue to board a Pullman train for New York City. This service ended in the 1920s.
  • Downtown Sharpsville had a number of meat markets in the early 1900s: Lamont’s, and Burchart’s, for example. The butchers Sam Faber and Jim Rose sold only meat, which they cut fresh as you waited. Mahaney recalls that the price of 1 1/2 pounds of veal was 45 cents.
  • Sharpsville’s grocery stores in the early 1900s included Holland’s, Mehl’s and Byerly’s. Groceries were delivered by horse and wagons and the kids knew the names of all the horses. There were also milk delivery by Deneen’s Dairy, ice delivery and an ice-cream salesman in a little horse-drawn buggy. Small cones cost a penny and large cones a nickel.
  • Sharpsville featured three livery stables, one on Second Street (which eventually became Hanlon’s Hall for roller-skating then Angel’s Casino for parties, dances and community meetings in the 1950s). The other two were on Main between Walnut and Mercer streets and on Mercer Avenue.

Mahaney continued with anecdotes concerning unpaved streets, gas lights, poolrooms, “Sharpsville Days,” railroad travel, movies, movie theaters, Pierce’s Opera House, vaudeville acts, sports, home ownership, ice cream parlors and the post office. 

George F. Mahaney: Founder of Sharpsville’s Santa Project

GGeorge F. Mahaney (left) & Sid Owen

George F. Mahaney at right with Sid Owen enjoying a coffee stir at Cricks’ soda fountain in 1953. The original photo was taken for a national magazine’s article about the Sharpsville Service Club’s Santa Claus visits. This photo, from the July 2017 Sharpsville Area Historical Society Newsletter is used courtesy of the Sharpsville Area Historical Society.

For the last 75-plus years, Sharpsville has had a special project that has set this small town off from most, maybe all, others. A day or two before Christmas Day, Santa Claus pays a visit to each Sharpsville child (whose porch light is turned on to beckon Santa). A great deal of preparation goes on beforehand so that Santa’s visit is as smooth as possible. All of this is accomplished by volunteers.

Much credit for this delightful tradition goes to George F. Mahaney and his friend Sid Owen. In the blog “Wall-to-Wall Santas in Sharpsville” on this site, Gail Nitch Hanes (SHS 1964) writes the following about the origins of Sharpsville’s Santa Project:

It all began in 1943 when George Mahaney Jr., a Sharpsville attorney, asked his friend Sid Owen to ”play Santa” for his children. Well, Sid was such a big hit with Mahaney’s children that he was asked by neighbors to drop in to visit their homes as well that night. 

The following year, both he and George dressed in the red suits and visited even more homes. By 1947-48 there were so many homes and children to visit, Mr. Mahaney recruited members of the Sharpsville Service Club to assume ‘Santa duty,’ which began our town’s most beloved tradition. This year [2014] marks 71 consecutive years that Service Club members dressed in their red and white suits and, with the help of their special ‘elves,’ scattered throughout the Borough on December 23rd bringing smiles and the Christmas spirit to the children and their families.

Santa Claus suits

Left to right: Stacia Moore, George F. Mahaney, Ralph Mehler I. c. 1958 or 1959. (Photograph courtesy of the Sharpsville Area Historical Society.)

The photograph on the right was included in a newspaper article c. 1958 or 1959, with this caption:

“SHARPSVILLE CARRIES OUT 11th ANNUAL SANTA PROJECT. Twenty-one Santas and an equal number of ‘helpers’ will visit every child in Sharpsville, PA, on Christmas Eve. Miss Stacia Moore, employee of Sharpsville Dry Cleaners, takes the Santa uniform from storage for Atty. George Mahaney, chairman, (center) and Ralph Mehler [I], who is ready to serve as Santa for the 11th consecutive year. ….” (Unnamed newspaper, no date, possibly 1958 or 1959. Photo courtesy of Sharpsville Area Historical Society.)

Read more about Sharpsville’s Santa Project on these pages:
WALL-TO-WALL SANTAS in Sharpsville

George F. Mahaney: His Career As a Lawyer

Both George F. and his younger brother John “Jack” Knapp grew up to become lawyers. George Mahaney lived most of his life in Sharpsville and, as of the 1950s, his office was located in the Boyle Building, Sharon.

George Mahaney was a member of the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs (PSAB), a statewide organization founded in 1911 that served Pennsylvania’s borough governments, representing their interests and helping to shape their laws. Mahaney served as the president of PSAB from 1967 to 1968. 

As president, his talk in March 1968 before the Ford City VFW indicated the direction he felt that boroughs should take. According to The Kittanning Paper, his suggestions included “more power for boroughs to enter into mergers, consolidations, adopting home rule charters, removing all existing debit limits, and permitting the legislature to adopt new debt ceilings.”

See Also: THE TWO GEORGE MAHANEYS: Part I (George D. Mahaney)

Ann Angel Eberhardt (SHS 1958),
Goodyear, AZ, September 1, 2019


Cole, Wayne A, and Vince Skibo. Ghost Rails XI: Shenango Valley Steel: Sharon Steel Co. ColeBooks, Beaver Falls, PA, 2014. Print.

Hanes, Gail Nitch (SHS 1964). “Wall-to-Wall Santas in Sharpsville: A Beloved Memory From Our Past…. .” Small Town Memories, December 2017. Internet resource.

Historical Headlines – March 29.” The Kittanning Paper. Entry for March 29, 1968, describes Mahaney’s talk before the Ford City VFW suggesting “more power for boroughs.” (Accessed 7 August 2019.) Internet resource.

“A Look Back: Reminiscences of George F. Mahaney Jr.” Sharpsville Area Historical Society Newsletter, November 2012, Vol. 1, No. 4, pages 1-3. (From an interview in The Herald, 1979, about Sharpsville in the early 1900s.) (Accessed 7 August 2019.) Internet resource.

Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs (PSAB). (Accessed 7 August 2019.) Internet resource.

“Uniquely Sharpsville: The Coffee Stir.” Sharpsville Area Historical Society Newsletter, July 2017, Vol. VI, No. 2, page 3. (Accessed 7 August 2019.) Internet resource.

“United States Census, 1930,” database with images, FamilySearch : accessed 7 August 2019), George J (sic) Mahaney in the household of George Mahaney, Sharpsville, Mercer, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 72, sheet 10A, line 17, family 255. Internet resource.


by Ann Angel Eberhardt

There are many references to George Mahaney throughout “Small Town Memories” but did you know that there were two of them … and how much this father and son contributed, in their own way, to the betterment of Sharpsville, Pennsylvania?

Even though they were not technically Sr. and Jr., they were often referred to as such, according to Ralph C. Mehler II, board member of the Sharpsville Area Historical Society. However, in the Mehler family (George Sr. was Ralph Mehler’s great-great-uncle) and perhaps more widely, they were referred to as “old George” and “young George.”

The following is the story about “Old” George. Part II, covering “Young” George who originated Sharpsville’s much-loved Santa Claus project, will be covered in a later blog.

NOTE: For reasons only known to WordPress, many Comments are missing from the posts on “Small Town Memories.” Comments submitted by readers have not only been encouraging to the blog authors but many have also added additional – and valuable – bits of history to the story of Sharpsville, PA, and the surrounding area. However, they are not lost. All the blogs and their Comments were copied to Google Documents as backups as they were published. The Comments can now be found on this site’s page titled *ARCHIVE: Comments.* Just click on the link in the menu across the top of any page (under the site’s title) to see the list. Meanwhile, please don’t hesitate to send us your Comments going forward. If appropriate, they too will be added to the Archive list so we won’t miss a one.



Old George, whose full name was George Dennis Mahaney (1878-1966), began his working life at a young age engaged in various small endeavors but eventually became a five-time Burgess of Sharpsville, father of the Shenango Dam, and known as “Mr. Sharpsville.” 

[George Mahaney, article and photo, The Sharon (PA) Telegraph, June 7, 1924, page 9.]

At age 13, planning to be a future banker, Mahaney started at the bottom rung, cleaning floors and polishing brass in a bank. Soon, disillusioned by what he saw as a “tough game” of banking, he moved from there to paperboy, delivering the Pittsburgh morning paper to Sharpsville subscribers, then driving a horse and wagon for the Boyle and Fitzmaurice grocery store in Sharon, PA. After being laid off from his driver job, he worked unloading coke from cars at the Spearman blast furnace. That job proved to be too strenuous and he moved on to performing odd jobs for the streetcar line extension workers.

Nick Mehler, Mahaney’s brother-in-law and a popular barber in town, gave Mahaney his first big break by offering to teach him the barber trade. After four years as an apprentice, lathering faces and, again, sweeping floors, Mahaney became an official barber. But he still hadn’t settled down. 

Mahaney’s next ventures involved working for several grocery companies, gaining a solid knowledge of business along the way. After co-owning a ready-to-wear store in Conneaut, Ohio, for a year, he then took over the Knapp Hotel on Walnut Street, Sharpsville, from his mother-in-law, Anna Knapp in exchange for paying off the debts left behind by her husband, Michael Knapp. When Prohibition began in 1920, causing the hotel to lose business, Mahaney entered the men’s clothing and furnishing business.

GEORGE D. MAHANEY: Mahaney’s Clothing Store

[Mahaney’s, a men’s clothing store. 1917-early 1970s, Sharpsville, PA. Source: Donna DeJulia.]

It was in 1913 when George Mahaney and Joseph McGowan had purchased a men’s haberdashery on Walnut Street from the Cohen Brothers. McGowan was in charge until 1917 when the store was moved a few doors north to the former Knapp Hotel cafe and office and became the Mahaney’s Clothing Store on the northwest corner of Walnut and Main Streets that some of us can still remember. When it was torn down in the early 1970s during urban renewal, it was probably the oldest men’s clothing store in Sharpsville. 

GEORGE D. MAHANEY: Early Civic Projects

The June 1924 issue of The Sharon (PA) Telegraph, celebrating Sharpsville’s Golden Jubilee (1874-1924), told much of this story about “Old” George. It goes on to describe two of Mahaney’s most impressive and well-known legacies: his involvement in the areas of civics and sports in Sharpsville.

According to the Telegraph article, he was a “valuable asset” in the printing of the old Sharpsville Advertiser (which existed from 1870 to 1919). “He and other boys used to earn 50 cents per day for turning the old hand press when the weekly was being printed.”

During World War I, Mahaney did his part by chairing Sharpsville’s Red Cross and visiting camps where Sharpsville soldiers were stationed. On Christmas Day 1919, at the close of the war, Mahaney was presented with a gold watch from the ex-soldiers of the community. 

As of 1924, Mahaney was largely responsible for the success of Sharpsville’s Golden Anniversary celebrations. He was an active member of the Sharpsville Improvement Board and a director of the Automobile Club. At one time, he was a representative of The Sharon Telegraph, selling and delivering the newspaper in Sharpsville.

GEORGE D. MAHANEY: Sports Enthusiast

Rated in 1924 by the Telegraph as “the best baseball umpire in Western Pennsylvania,” Mahaney is described as pursuing his hobby of Sharpsville area sports with enthusiasm and dedication. According to The Sharon Telegraph:

Mahaney was for several years president of the Sharon team in the O. and P. League and a director of the league. In those days, when the Shenango Valley supported a baseball team, Mahaney was the official umpire at all games.

He started umpiring when a “kid” in Sharpsville and records show his services were in demand when the furnace company teams clashed back in 1898. Mahaney at that time was only 20. He carried a bat in addition to a mask, for arguments at that time meant business and the umpire was given the undisputed right to protect himself.

Mahaney has always been a booster for Sharpsville athletics, especially when the high school teams are concerned. Since Sharpsville has awakened from its apparent lethargy in high school athletics and stepped to the foreground, ranking today as one of the leading schools in the county in athletics, George Mahaney has been a regular attendant at all games and his advice has helped the players on more than one occasion.

The Sharon (PA) Telegraph, June 7, 1924, p. 9

His son, “Young” George, was a prominent member of the baseball and basketball teams during his four years in high school. (George F. Mahaney will be the subject of a later blog.) 

GEORGE D. MAHANEY: Later Civic Projects

But Mahaney’s accomplishments didn’t end in those early days. Those for which George D. Mahaney is most renowned were achieved since the 1920s. His involvement in most of the civic, athletic and veterans’ organizations in the area earned him the Shenango Valley Junior Chamber of Commerce’s “Man of the Year” award in 1954. According to his obituary in The Sharon Herald, January 26, 1966, pp. 1-2,

A member of St. Bartholomew’s Church, Sharpsville, Mr. Mahaney included among his membership associations the Sharpsville Service Club, Sharpsville Volunteer Fire Department, Merchants and Businessmen’s Association and the Knights of Columbus. He was named to the Mercer County Housing Authority in 1946.

The Sharon Herald, January 26, 1966, pp. 1-2

In 1953 Sharpsville’s town park was named Mahaney Park by the Bureau Council in honor of his long-time service as Burgess of Sharpsville. Located on the southeast corner of Shenango and Walnut streets, the park was laid out in 1916. (It currently features an ingot mold that was one of the last cast in Sharpsville in 2001, a reminder that Sharpsville was once the nation’s ingot mold capital.)

Mahaney’s untiring lobbying for the construction of the Shenango River Reservoir (also known as the Shenango Dam) was recognized by the Valley Chamber of Commerce in 1959. Built between 1963 and 1965, the dam was designed to control the periodic flooding of the Shenango River that affected Sharpsville and more so Sharon and Wheatland. An extra benefit of the Reservoir was a recreation area which includes the Mahaney Outflow Recreation Day Use Area, featuring a disc golf course and the Mahaney Access Boat Ramp.

[Photographs above and below are courtesy of the
Sharpsville Area Historical Society]

GEORGE D. MAHANEY: Family Background

[George D. Mahaney as Burgess of Sharpsville, PA, sitting at his desk in the Borough Building. Undated photograph]

George D. Mahaney was born in Pennsylvania on January 15, 1878. He was the son of D. G. Mahaney, a locomotive engineer who, for many years, was a resident of Erie. 

When Mahaney was 3 years old (c. 1881), he moved with the family to Sharpsville when the town was merely a station stop and over two decades before its streets were paved. The Telegraph lists the school he attended as “the old Second Ward school.”

The record for County Marriages in Pennsylvania lists the marriage of George Mahaney, a merchant in Conneaut, Ohio, to Kathryn M. Knapp (1880-1955) on May 6, 1903.

The 1930 U.S. Census records the Mahaney family as living on Walnut Street in Sharpsville and consisting of George, a clothing merchant, his wife Katheryn (Knapp) Mahaney, and two sons, George F. Mahaney, age 22, and John, age 19. 

After his first wife died in 1955, he married Rose Havlak on June 11, 1959.

George Dennis Mahaney died in January 1966. Three brothers and two sisters preceded him in death. He was buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Hermitage, PA. His widow survived with two sons, both attorneys, George F., and John K.; six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. (Source: “Geo. Mahaney Dies: ‘Father’ of Reservoir,” The Sharon Herald, January 26, 1966, pp. 1-2.)

See Also:
The Two George Mahaneys Part II (“Young” George F.)
Walnut Street Businesses III
Welch House: Early History

— Ann Angel Eberhardt (SHS 1958), Goodyear, AZ,
with assistance from Ralph C. Mehler II (SHS 1980).