Historical Society Newsletter August 2023
August 31, 2023

Note to Members

Dear members,

Emotions and activities at the museum this summer have been at their heights.  Most of our attention has been directed towards the purchase of the trolley station and we’ve become a bit tired of holding our breath, waiting for the final transaction of that purchase.  Meanwhile, associated activities have been planned for all the work ahead to bring the restoration into reality. Donors of financial help as well as physical assistance with destruction and construction have been pledged from the community and members everywhere. We have been humbly grateful for people’s concern in preserving this historic artifact. 

Our work hasn’t stopped there and will not cease until we’re satisfied that the trolley station is a fine representation of its original state. To attain our goal, Rita and I visited a trolley museum near Altoona across from the Broad Top Railroad Museum. We explored their collection and rode one of their trolleys. Next, we got to visit the Pittsburgh Trolley Museum, where we made some valuable contacts with their archivist and interested on-site workers. We saw their new acquisition, the Wexford Trolley Station which is ready for visitors.  Director, Scott Becker and archivist Bill Fronczek have been and will be great assets to our endeavor. 

A local salvage business has been targeted by me to be on the look out for specific era related articles that may replicate the original furnishings.  On this regard, we will have to use our imagination, because photos of the interior are mostly nonexistent. We also plan some promotional activities to inspire and recruit volunteers to help with the labor ahead, most of which are sweat-related cleaning and destruction of the existing interior facilities.  Some rewards will be offered to those ambitious folks with perks yet to be planned.

It is our hope that our dream with the trolley station will inspire some local citizens to join our group of history preservers and continue those efforts in future pursuits of those goals.  

Rick Reifenstein

In Memorium

Ellen Kline & Mr & Mrs W C Rahiser
by Doug & Nancy Leonburg

Earla Mae Rahiser
by John & Tracy Voelzke

Marge Burek
by Dalton Neal

John West
by Jancie West

Evans City Historical Society:

Where We Came From

Many of you who receive this newsletter, both from near and far, may not know who started our Evans City Historical Society and the why and how.  Concerning our resent projects, we feel it is necessary to bring you this history of our organization, its goals and who has brought us this far since its inception. 

Originally, the Historical Society, as such, was totally contained within the Library Association. Locally relevant artifacts were donated without an appropriate place to contain and display them.  It was then that it was realized that not only a display space was needed, but an organization to supervise and control their presentation.

In 1985, the Evans City Public Library board formed a committee to collect historical data of Evans City. William Sweeney from the Mars Historical Society kindly discussed the formation of a similar society in Evans City.  Interested people present were Miss Ellen Klein, Miss Jean Sutton, Dr and Mrs Thomas Nicholas, Mr and Mrs Oliver Cashdollar. Mr Sweeney informed us that our purpose was the most important thing for consideration. Among the ideas were collecting of artifacts, preservation of historical buildings and oral histories. As well the group was interested in establishing a museum to display artifacts and as a place to maintain town and family histories.

By February 1988 the Evans City Historical Society was incorporated separately and an official letterhead was designed.  Items collected by the Library were handed over to the Historical Society and stored in rooms above Viola’s Grocery.

The guest speaker at the very first membership gathering was Bill Fronczek, author, “Interurban Transit in Pittsburgh”, the Trolley system.

Over the years our Society has provided many items of interest for sale to members, helping to preserve the memories of our town. The miniature replica of town homes, business and churches have been very popular. The third updated edition “History of Evans City” is available and makes a great gift.

Under President Milton Gross in 1989, the board worked to preserve the Miller Hotel. The building was purchased by Patrick Boylan and offices were established for Magistrate Leon Gan on the first floor. A transom was donated to our Museum. That year the first annual membership dinner was held and the Society’s first newsletter was published. Officers were Milton Gross, Pres, Ellen Klein, VP, Margaret King, Sec, Mary Barnes, Trea. Other board members were Fred Bartok, Randolph, Pfeifer, and Martha Burkett.

A Museum became a reality in 1990. A search for a location was made. By October the borough building on Wahl Ave was chosen.  Furnishings such as display cases were purchased, the first of many.  The museum was housed in one room on the second floor. 

One of our most treasured collections was obtained in 1991. A collection of Jim Campbell’s hats was obtained and first displayed. Other collections include art for both Art Ripper and Chuck Ripper and current Evans City artist Barry Spithaler. Artifacts include a buffet from the Evans City Hotel, handmade corner cupboard by master builder Zeno, desk from the Irvine family and Citizens Bank. 

Family Records

Family records of Evans City families is a large part of the records maintained by your Historical Society. Newspaper clippings help create family files. In addition, many families have donated genealogy records to add to a more complete family history. 

The Historical Society has presented many wonderful and varied programs for members of the years. There are at least 4 programs presented every year.  Members are encouraged to join together in February, September and November for programs that are informative, and many times presented as a round table to let members talked about their experiences here in town. Once a year the annual dinner is held along with a program.
Topics have included presentations on western PA history like:

Deprecation Lands Museum, Sue Spanny Massay Harbison, Drenda Gestkowski

Biddle boys, Bill May Murdering Town, Carl Roberson, Charlie Watson

Muddy Creek oil fields, Cindy Webrsck, Joy Gray One Room Schools, round table

Indians of western PA, Dr Donald Kelly Dulcimer Player, Ms Laughead

Homes of Evans City, Night of the Living Dead, Gary Streiner

Buhl Family, Zelienople Historical Soc Moraine State Park, Polly Shaw

Muzzleloader guns, Rick Rosenberg Trolley Museum of Western PA, Bill Frenczak

Your board has been very pleased with the interest and support shown by members over the years.

Thank You!

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