Wishing all who celebrate these Holy Days a blessed All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day and All Souls Day.
All Hallows Eve is a night celebrated by Trick or Treating and telling ghost stories. The deeper meaning is found in the approach of Winter, the season of cold, stark landscapes where nothing grows. It is a time poised between the end of the season of growth and the season of rest. It serve s as a reminder of the growth and decline that precedes the renewal of Spring.
Autumn is shading into Winter as the days continue to grow shorter. The chill outside drives us indoors. Flowers no longer bloom, trees become more bare as the days go by. The bounty of summer has been harvested and preparations for sustenance during the winter months continue. There is a lull that calls us to think about the cycle of growth that has passed in the current year. During this time it is good to part company with laptops, cell phones, tablets and find company in the memories of loved ones who no longer live with us in this world.
I have found that this time dedicated to the beloved departed has a powerful effect upon renewing our memories of those who have taught us, loved us and inspired us. Although they are physically gone, we revive their good examples within our hearts and minds. In a way we are renewed. The influence of our loved ones can once more be felt in the world as we do our best in memory of them.
–EmiyAnn Frances May
–October 30, 2016
The illustrations used here come from My Book House, edited by Olive Beaupre Miller.
In this posting we consider the stories we have learned about the death of Ernest Muro, son of Nick and Letizia Muro. Ernest was 1 year old when he died. The official record of his death is in direct opposition to the cause we learned about during research and family discussions. To help you understand the relationships discussed in this posting we have outlined them in this section.
Ernest Muro was the son of Nicola and Letizia (nee Scotti) Muro. Ernest’s siblings were:
Ernest is related to EmilyAnn and Sammy. Ernest was:
- Sammy’s Uncle (through Josie, Sammy’s Mom).
- EmilyAnn’s Great Uncle (through Josie’s daughter Emily Leatrice).
Ernest’s sister Josie was:
- Sammy’s Mom.
- EmilyAnn’s Maternal Grandmother.
In our previous posting we reviewed the safety issues that surrounded the use of horses in an urban environment in the late 19th-early 20th centuries. We also considered the manner in which pedestrians utilized the pavements and streets. The automobile eventually eclipsed the use of horses by the 1920s. Pedestrians were made aware, through public safety campaigns, that the street was for vehicles and the sidewalk was for people.
George Westinghouse ensured that Wilmerding had a mass transit system within the town when it was first built. Yet even as the 1920s began, there were small companies within Wilmerding that still used a horse drawn cart as a means of transport. As we researched the children of Letizia and Nick Muro we learned about their next to youngest child, Ernest. The family never spoke about him and we were ready to accept the story which official documentation gave about his death. That was until we interacted with other relatives at Ancestry and compared family stories we heard. This is how we learned that Ernest’s death may have been hastened due to an accident caused by a horse drawn cart. Continue reading
As the Industrial Revolution progressed, the populations in urban areas swelled leading to congestion. With the increase in people, came an increase in the use and demand for horses. They were needed for personal and business related transportation. At the turn of the 20th century, the horse could no longer serve as the chief method of transportation.
There were many reasons why urban planners in major cities around the world sought for ways to bring order into the streets. First, horses were unpredictable. Even a good rider on horseback or a skilled coachman might not be able to rein in a frightened horse in time. Horses are skittish and any shock can send them out of control. Second, the streets were used by horses and pedestrians at the same time. There was no thought of where children should play or where people should walk. Pedestrians, horse drawn carts and people on horseback all moved around at the same time in the streets. Third, the increase in the amount of horse manure and urine on the city streets had exceeded the ability of cities to clean up fast enough. The results were large open lots where the waste matter was disposed of. This brought flies and disease in its wake. Fourth, horses were expensive to maintain. Business owners who used them for transportation worked them as hard as possible and put them down when they got sick or collapsed.
As the automobile came into usage, people at first considered it a very risky form of transportation. As improvements were made people began to consider it as a preferred alternative to the horse. Unlike the way we view cars as a major source of pollution today, the automobile was considered a cleaner form of transportation than the horse. By 1920 America had begun what is now called “the love affair with the automobile.” Changes in pedestrian behavior were affected by public awareness campaigns and motorist safety courses offered by such automobile clubs as AAA in the early 1920s. People learned that it was better to walk on the pavement and leave the streets to the cars and trolleys that were now dominant forms of transportation in the big cities and medium sized towns.
Uncle Sammy and I decided to include brief entries whenever possible about the towns near Wilmerding. During our visits to Pennsylvania we sometimes went to visit these towns because relatives lived there. The towns were very close and at times it seemed like one flowed into another. This was because of the closeness the relatives maintained and the frequency of their visits.
The towns of Turtle Creek Valley: Pitcairn
Pitcairn Street Scene, circa 1910.
Public Domain. Image courtesy of Monroeville Historical Society.
Map of Pitcairn, circa 1901
Pitcairn started as a village where a railyard was constructed near Turtle Creek. It was incorporated as a village in 1894. The town had a major switching yard for the Pennsylvania Railroad. Population peaked between 1910 through 1940. After this time there was a decline in the ability of the railroad yards and shops to provide employment.