Sunday, April 24, 2016

Old Grey: The Tale of the Reisinger Rifle

Roe Reisinger in 1920
Editor’s Notes:
James Monroe ("Roe") Reisinger’s family came to the French Creek area from Lancaster via Beaver County. Descended from Hessian immigrants who arrived about 1750, the family settled in the 1840s along French and Sandy Creeks. Peter, Roe’s grandfather, was both a blacksmith and a whitesmith. The boys were encouraged to pursue advanced education and Peter’s son Charles moved to Meadville so that his children could attend the Academy. Three of the boys attended Allegheny College. 

At the outbreak of the War of the Rebellion, James Monroe "Roe" enlisted in the 150th Regiment, Company H, and at Gettysburg was severely wounded while serving under color-Sergeant Samuel Peiffer. Following his nearly year-long hospital stay (until a bullet could be extracted from his knee), he was assigned to Company B of the 14th Reserve Corps and later served as an officer of the 114th US Colored Troops in Texas until 1867. Resigner was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by special act of Congress for his action at the McPherson barn at Gettysburg.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Curious of Life of Phil Miller and his Friend Mark Twain

1865 map showing the site off Miller's home
Of the names associated with the history of Conneaut Lake, none carries the intrigue of Phil Miller. Philip W. Miller was a boat builder and expert outdoorsman with contradictory love for public oratory and quiet eccentricity. The facts surrounding Miller are as hazy as the morning mist rising above the waters of the lake he would become synonymous with. Even his arrival in the newly incorporated town of Evansburg in the 1850’s is clouded with vagaries and rumors. Some claimed he showed up with his wife Annie, along with a Negro man, and another woman. Wilder tales have Miller appearing in prison garb, on the run from the law for killing a man.

Whatever the case, Miller, we do know, took up residence along the west side of the lake on Hotchkiss Island, a piece of high ground cut off from the mainland by the dammed up waters feeding the Beaver and Erie Canal system. Once here, he soon ingratiated himself into the community becoming a member of the congregation at the Methodist church which he and Annie attended regularly.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Meadville Mutuals: Baseball Champions of 1875

Meadville Mutuals Team Photo

Opening day of the 2016 Baseball season is upon us yet again which among other things, presents the opportunity to highlight the area's curious place as part of America's pastime.  Like many towns of the day, organized baseball first started to be played in the area sometime during the 1860's. The sport's growing popularity led to the organization of semi-pro clubs in rural and urban communities across the Eastern and Midwest parts of the country. Crawford County followed the trend with the formation of the Meadville Mutuals in 1871. Other area teams would follow in the decades to come--the "Meadvilles" of the 1880's who eventually entered the Oil, and NYPANO Leagues of the 1890's followed by competition in the Erie Railroad of the 1900's. Allegheny College fielded its first team in 1881, competing against the Mutuals in addition to the Keystones, Meadville Stars, and Meadville Grays. Moving into the new century, teams were built from the employees local companies, such as the Spirella-Pullmans who dominated regional play throughout the tri-state area from 1909 to 1913, and the Meadville Machinery Company Nine who were the main draw of the 1920's.