The Summer Break of 2016 is over and we’re resuming our family history postings. In the last posting before our break we reviewed events in the news related to public school education and community activities in the state of Pennsylvania during the time Nick and Letizia’s children began their school years. We continue on the topic of public school education, this time focusing on the information available about schools in Wilmerding in the same time period (circa 1915 through the 1920s).
The Muro family passed on to their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren a love of learning, reading and ongoing self-improvement through education. To better understand the roots of this influence we are continuing our readings and discussions of the public school education which the Muro children received in Wilmerding, Pennsylvania.
We have learned that “The Wilmerding Times” has not been digitized at the Library of Congress. We will continue, therefore, to research news articles of the period 1912-1920 in other Pennsylvania newspapers available at the Library of Congress. Our focus concerns changes that were made to public school system on a local and state wide basis in Pennsylvania. This will, in some ways, give us an overview of what forces were at work throughout the state and the influence on the Muro children.
We have also researched public domain images and found some wonderful vintage postcards that offer us a view of the parts of town where the early Public Schools were located. We also found a map that gives us an idea of where the Muro family lived in relation to the nearest school their children might have attended.
Meet Letizia and Nick’s children
Nick and Letizia Muro’s first child, Giuseppa, was born in Agropoli on November 1st, 1909. After coming to the United States everyone called Giuseppa Josie.
The next five children were born after Letizia and Josie joined Nick in Wilmerding in 1912. They are:
Peter James, born June 3, 1913
Louis, born July 4, 1914
Philomena, born November 21, 1916
Ernest, born February 17, 1919
Rosie (Rose, Rose Marie), born March 20, 1920
The children were not only close in age but also close in their relationships to each other throughout their lives. As they matured and married some moved to Brooklyn, NY (Josie, Philomena and Rosie) and others Ohio (Louis). Peter moved to Baltimore in the early years of his marriage during the 1930s but returned to Wilmerding around 1937. He remained close to his parents all his life. Ernest died as the result of an accident which we will cover in another posting.
The Neighborhood School in relation to where the Muros Lived
1897 Planning Map of Wilmerding.
We located a very helpful planning map dated 1897 at the Library of Congress. At first it appeared more like a vintage postcard. In the center is the Westinghouse Air Brake Company. In the foreground are the many homes that were first built in the main part of town facing the front of the factory. Here many of the management and executive level employees lived.
At the background of this map lies the land that was eventually developed with homes for the working class employees of the factory. Wilmerding is divided in the middle by Turtle Creek running through the part of town at the back of the factory.
At first we thought the map would not be helpful in locating the two public schools built early in the development of Wilmerding. Then we started to enlarge the map in Microsoft Gallery Viewer. The amount of detail was so clear that we were able to create close-ups to use in locating the public elementary school the Muro children may have attended.
Close-up of the 1897 Planning Map of Wilmerding.
We know from Nick’s WWI draft registration that the family lived at 429 Patton Street in 1918. The 1920 Federal Census shows the family had moved to 304 State Street. P.S. 2 located on Bridge Street one block away from Patton Street. State Street appears to start at corner of Patton street one block up. We have marked the school building with a blue rectangle. Patton Street is denoted by orange dots and State Street by pink stars. At this point we still have to find out at what part of State Street and Patton Street did the family live during 1918 and 1920. This will give us a better idea of how far P.S. 2 was from their home. We will also be able to consider how the children got to school. So far we do not know of other schools in the area during the early 20th century.
P.S. 1 was the built in the other side of town. It was located on Herman Avenue near the lovely Wilmerding Park where George Westinghouse arranged for outdoor concerts and other activities throughout the year. Wilmerding had an extensive network of public trolley cars running through both parts of town. Further research will help us determine how the Muros got around to work, school and church. We also hope to learn more about P.S. 2 and the other elementary schools in the area. According to “Wilmerding and the Westinghouse Air Brake Company”, a photo history of the town and it’s relationship to the factory, P.S. 2 served grades K through 3. We know that all the Muro children graduated 8th grade so we want to find out if P.S. 2 expanded their student base or if the Muro children had to go elsewhere for grades 4 through 8.
Ongoing improvemements sought to the statewide public school system in 1916
Close-up of the front page edition of the December 27, 1916 edition of the Harrisburg Telegraph.
As we continue researching the Pennsylvania newspapers available at the Library of Congress we are impressed by the considerations given by the state to turn out well rounded graduates from the public school system. We have always had the impression that schooling at that time was concerned only with preparing students to go to work. Our research is showing how erroneous that conception is. An article in the December 27, 1916 edition of “Harrisburg Telegraph” details the improvements and additions to the curriculum that were in planning at that time.
- The 67th meeting of the Pennsylvania State Educational Association held its meeting in Harrisburg to discuss solutions to problems that the association wanted to be addressed within 5 years.
- The Association considered it important to add Spanish to the modern languages taught in school. They voted to keep French and German in the curriculum as well. The classic languages such as Latin and Greek would also continue to be taught
- Teachers sought state aid to make more accommodations available so they could take coursework over the summer. Teacher’s salaries had to be raised since they were now behind wages paid to farm and industrial workers.
- County superintendents were also present at the meeting to discuss ways to implement outreach to rural schools. S. Bryan, Assistant School Superintendent of Allegheny County attended this meeting.
Wilmerding is part of Allegheny County. The changes discussed at this meeting would have reached the schools situated there. The Muro children received the kind of education that they never would have received if the family remained in Italy. As we continue our look into the early years of the Muro family in Wilmerding, we better appreciate the good start their public school education provided them. We now have a little more insight into the types of subjects taught at the schools based on the reading done for this posting and the previous one.
Photos of P.S. 2 and Air Brake Avenue
P.S. 2 circa 1913.
P.S. 2 was located on Bridge Street. It was near Air Brake Avenue. The school was built in 1899. It was demolished in the 1960s. Banquets Unlimited now occupies the spot on Bridge Street.
This vintage postcard shows a view of Air Brake Avenue looking east.
A view of Air Brake Avenue looking west.
Photos of P.S. 1 and Westinghouse Park
P.S. 1 circa 1903.
P.S. 1 was also called the Horrocks Shool. Christopher Horrocks was a Wilmerding resident who helped found the first Methodist church in the town.
The Westinghouse General Office overlooks Westinghouse Park in this vintage postcard. The General Office was sometimes called “The Castle.” George Westinghouse worked from this building.
Discussion with Uncle Sammy on Sunday, August 16, 2015 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
We continue to enjoy researching and learning about the public school system during the early 20th century in Pennsylvania. As we increase our knowledge about the subjects offered we come a little closer to knowing how the Muro children were influenced at school. We are starting a process of gathering our memories and family stories into a collection that will be organized for each Muro child. This process will be expanded in later sessions when we begin our review of the children of Nick Muro and his second wife Rose.
There is much consideration and organization needed as to when the profile for each family member is presented. Some family history bloggers move back and forth between different time periods as they present their findings. When one is a member of the same family this does not present many problems in understanding the bigger picture since there is a common pool of knowledge to draw from.
For anyone surfing in for the first time such a posting can be off-putting when it assumes that every reader will know all the details. Even when links are provided in the posting to other postings with earlier information, the process of reading and assimilating the information is not always easy or enjoyable.
With this in mind, we will continue to follow to the best of our ability a chronological order within each family we present. We are beginning a period where family stories and memories will be part of the presentation. Some can be compared to official documentation while others cannot. In such cases we will welcome additional information supplied by closer family members who might locate this blog. If necessary updates and/or corrections will be made to the original posting plus notice of the updates will be made in a new posting.
Today was a very pleasurable session as Uncle Sammy recalled how he remembered his own walks along Air Brake Avenue during the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s when he went to visit Wilmerding. He said that it hadn’t changed that much from the time when the photos for the postcards were taken. One of his vivid memories were of the railroad tracks at the back of the factory and the sounds of the trains as they passed along the tracks.
“Public Schools in Wilmerding”
From Wilmerding and the Westinghouse Air Brake Company, pg. 32, 2002.
Vintage Postcard of Air Brake Avenue Looking West, Wilmerding
Send to your friends!
Vintage Postcard of Westinghouse Park, Wilmerding
Send to your friends!
Library of Congress
Harrisburg Telegraph, Dec. 27, 1916
“See new era of education in this state”
page 1: http://tinyurl.com/nkllec2/
page 7: http://tinyurl.com/qhkqlfk
Library of Congress
Map Wilmerding, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania 1897.
Contributor Names Fowler, T. M. (Thaddeus Mortimer), 1842-1922. Moyer, James B. Created / Published Morrisville, Pa., T. M. Fowler & James B. Moyer 
Call Number G3824.W74A3 1897 .F6 Repository Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C. 20540-4650 USA dcu Digital Id g3824w pm008740 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g3824w.pm008740 Library of Congress Catalog Number 75696557
Pennsylvania USGenWeb Archives
The following vintage postcards were obtained from the site:
- Airbrake Avenue Looking East, Wilmerding, PA circa 1912
- Public School 2, circa 1913