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Austin J. Firestone Sr.


Austin and his fiddle

Austin J. Firestone Sr. was born on Sept. 3, 1865 in Somerset County, PA, the son of Lewis and Sarah Ann (Rose) Firestone.

At the age of 25, on Sept. 4, 1891, Austin was united in the bonds of matrimony with 17-year-old Mary Elizabeth "Mollie" Stillwagon (1872-1931). She was the daughter of Barton S. and Lavina (Barr) Stillwagon of Fayette County. The ceremony took place in Uniontown, Fayette County, PA.

Together, the couple proceeded to produce a family of 11 children – Norman Firestone, Lenora L. Firestone, Woodrow Firestone, John Wesley Firestone, Sarah Messenger Condie, Grace Echard, Lenora Firestone, Eva Parfitt, Lavina Harrison, Austin J. Firestone Jr. and Lydia McCall.

Sadly, daughter Lenora died of diphtheria at the tender age of two years, eight months, on Oct. 24, 1900. She was buried in the family plot at Rich Hill Cemetery near Connellsville, with a short obituary published in the Connellsville Courier.

The Firestones lived in Connellsville, and later near the Pleasant Valley Country Club in nearby Bullskin Township. Said the Daily Courier: "In his early life he was a school teacher at Normalville, Springfield township. He served for a time as a member of the Board of Education of Bullskin township…" Austin's name was listed among those who attended the 37th annual Fayette County Teachers Institute in December 1890, in a story printed in the Uniontown (PA) Genius of Liberty.


Pittsburgh & Lake Erie logo

Later, said the Courier, "for 38 years [Austin] was a brakeman for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, having been retired in 1929." He apparently drew a railroad pension for his years of work. In May 1940, at a dinner in the First Methodist Church of Connellsville, he received an emblem marking four decades of membership in the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, Youghiogheny Lodge. Among the other members of the brotherhood receiving service awards was Austin's distant cousin by marriage, the organization's treasurer and toastmaster John Henry Bowman, with another cousin, Connellsville Mayor Ira David Younkin, providing remarks of greeting.

In April 1912, when family friend David Kirkwood died and the funeral held in Pleasant Valley, Austin was one of the pallbearers, along with distant cousin Calvin Minerd and John Goswick, Jacob Garletts, J.K. Stillwagon and John Workman.

Circa 1927, Austin and Mollie had a telephone in their dwelling, with the number "4100-R-2."

When Austin's mother died in 1929, the widowed father was left alone in his home, "physically incapacitated and receiving little or no attention." The father allegedly asked Austin's brother in law Andrew Calhoun to provide for his well-being , with promises of "ample compensation." Andrew quit his job and together with his wife Sadie spent a significant amount of time at the Firestone home handling the elderly man's "physical requirements." They remained for two months, from May 10, 1929 to July 10, 1929.

Later in life, in November 1937, he was elected justice of the peace near Connellsville.


Pleasant Valley Country Club -- near the Firestone home



Daily Courier

Austin's father died on Jan. 18, 1930, at age 96, in Connellsville State Hospital. Austin and his brother Grant were named to administer the estate. In February 1930, attorney H. George May of Connellsville wrote to Austin, saying "As soon as you and Grant are ready to come in, we can arrange to pay the bills and inheritance tax and close things up. Of course, this does not need to be done for a matter of 40 to 50 days from now, but any time that you are ready for it, we might as well get it out of the way."

Not having received the promised compensation from the father's estate, Austin's brother in law Calhoun presented a $200 bill to the estate as "wages for work and nursing." The brothers objected, and the matter was taken to court. The case was settled on April 30, 1931, when the Orphans Court rejected the claim. 

Austin eventually received his own payment of $115.09 as a bequest from the estate.


Mt. Olive Cemetery

In a twist of irony, Austin and Mary's house burned on the night of Oct. 2, 1930, while the family was away, and fortunately no one was injured. The Daily Courier reported that the fire "started in the attic and before it was discovered the entire upper part of the building was a mass of flames. Only a small part of the furniture was saved." Firemen from Everson and Scottdale as well as neighbors came to the scene and helped extinguish the blaze. The Courier erroneously stated that Austin was at home, playing guitar in his kitchen, but he issued a statement to the newspaper saying "I was away and got home when the fire was coming through the roof." 

Sadly, Mollie passed away on or about May 2, 1931, at the age of 59. The funeral was held at their home near Murphy Siding. She was laid to rest in Mt. Olive Cemetery in Bullskin Township, north of Connellsville, with Rev. J.J. Thompson presiding. Her obituary in the Daily Courier originally said that her husband had died two months earlier, but the newspaper later retracted the statement saying he was still living.

Austin outlived his wife by a decade. He was burdened with heart disease and hypertension. He died at age 75 on Jan. 14, 1941, in Frick Memorial Hospital in Mount Pleasant, Westmoreland County. He joined his wife in repose at Mount Olive Cemetery. At the time of his death, the Daily Courier noted that he was survived by 23 grandchildren. Later that year, the nation was plunged into World War II.


Mt. Olive Cemetery

~ Daughter Grace (Firestone) Echard ~

Daughter Grace Firestone (1892-1943) was born on Feb. 10, 1892, in Pleasant Valley, Bullskin Township, north of Connellsville, Fayette County.

At the age of 15, in about 1907, she moved to Greensburg, Westmoreland County, PA with her parents and siblings.

She married Peter Echard (1889 -1953), son of Nelson and Lanah (Snyder) Echard of Richhill, near Connellsville. 

They had six children -- Mary Orbin Davis, Stanley E. Echard, Richard D. Echard, Robert L. Echard, Wilbur Echard and an infant daughter.

During World War I, they made their home at Murphy's Siding near Connellsville, Fayette County. Later, in about 1928, they relocated to a new home at 321 East Pittsburgh Street in Greensburg, Westmoreland County, PA. By 1940, they had moved again to South Main Street in South Greensburg. They belonged to the Greensburg Christian Church.

Peter was employed in the construction of electrical pole lines by West Penn Power Company, and remained with the company for a total of 28 years. The 1940 census enumeration shows that his specialty was as a "ground man" in "line construction."

Sadly, Grace became ill and underwent surgery as Christmas neared in 1943. Complications arose, and she died in Westmoreland Hospital on Dec. 18, 1943, at the age of 51. Funeral services were held in the Mount Olive United Brethren Church, led by Rev. H. Glenn Carpenter, followed by interment in the church cemetery. 

Grace's father died in 1941, but by the time the estate was administered and closed in 1944, she was deceased. Thus, her five surviving children were entitled to a small share of the estate and received payouts.

Peter outlived his wife, and made his home at 411 South West Avenue in Greensburg. At age 59, he married again, to 51-year-old widow Della Mae (Hoover) Keefer (1897- ? ), daughter of William and Bertha (Hoover) Sanner. The marriage was performed in Washington, Washington County, PA on Jan. 3, 1949, by Rev. J.S. Allison. 

Peter retired from West Penn in about 1949, and moved to Kingsview, PA circa 1953. They were members of the Kingsview Mennonite Church.

Suffering from a heart attack, Peter died at age 64 on June 16, 1953, at home. Said the Courier, "He had been ill for some time." Funeral services were held in the home, and later at Kingsview Mennonite Church, led by Rev. Millard Lind. Burial was in Normalville Cemetery.

Daughter Mary Echard (1909-1978) was born on Aug. 1, 1909 in Bullskin Township near Connellsville. Her first husband was wed Wilbur L. "Bill" Orbin (1904-1963), son of John and Clara (Pickett) Orbin. In 1943-1967, they lived in Dawson, Fayette County, where Wilbur was a stationery engineer with the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad. They had one known daughter, Alice Geraldine Ansell Seaman. The Orbins were members of the Dawson Methodist Church, with Mary serving as president and treasurer of the Sarah B. Cochran Sunday School class for many years, supporting, among other charities, the Jumonville Methodist Training Center near Uniontown. When the World's Fair was held in New York City in 1940, the Orbins traveled there to take in the sights and stayed for a week. Wilbur died at the age of 59, at Connellsville State General Hospital, on Oct. 31, 1963. He was buried in Scottdale Cemetery. She married again to Clifford H. Davis Sr. ( ? - ? ), who brought several adult children to the marriage -- Joann Rende, Clifford H. Davis Jr. and Richard E. Davis. In February 1967, living alone on Main Street in Dawson, Mary was assaulted, and her home robbed, by a local teenager who later was arrested. She relocated to Hopewell Township near Aliquippa, Beaver County, residing at 112 Larry Street. There, she was a member of the First United Methodist Church, the Hopewell Senior Women's Club, the Aliquippa Hospital Auxiliary and the Ladies' Auxiliary of the Elks Lodge. Mary died at the age of 69, in Pittsburgh's Presbyterian University Hospital, on Sept. 4, 1978. An obituary in the Beaver County Times noted that she was survived by 12 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Interment was in Scottdale Cemetery.


  • Granddaughter Alice Geraldine Orbin (1929-1997) was born on Jan. 9, 1929 in Dawson. She was married twice. She first wed George Frank Ansell, Jr. ( ? - ? ) of Dawson, on May 27, 1947. The ceremony was held in the First Presbyterian Church of Cumberland, MD, officiated by Rev. William A. Eisenberger. News of their marriage was printed in the Daily Courier, which said that the newlyweds "are well known and popular in the Tri-Town community." The Daily Courier said that George attended California State Teachers College, where he played varsity football; served as a bombardier in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II; and was employed at the time of marriage by the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad. During the war, George narrowly missed being killed when an enemy shell struck the side of the bomber in which he was flying "during an attack on a Japanese-held island in the Solomons," said the Courier. Later, in 1954, she was married to William M. Seaman (1910-2003). They lived in Scottdale and produced two sons, William M. Seaman Jr. and Thomas C. Seaman. Alice was an exceptionally active volunteer in Westmoreland County and later in Arizona. Said the Daily Courier, she "was chairman of the Frick Hospital Hospitality Shop for more than 15 years and had more than 10,000 hours of service as a volunteer for the hospital. She was also a member of the BPOE Ladies Auxiliary of Green Valley, the Grene Valley Lapidary Club, Green Valley Sheriff's Department Ladies Auxiliary and the Tubac, Ariz., Historical Society. She was a former member of the Pleasant Valley Country Club...." A graduate of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, William owned and operated Seaman Wholesale Candy and Tobacco Company in Scottdale with his brother Walter. When the brother died in 1978, William became sole owner and then brought in his son as business partner. In the late 1980s, he owned Seaman Vending Company. The Daily Courier once said this of William:


Bill was inducted into the armed forces in 1943 during World War II and served with the U.S. Army medical corps in the Asian Theatre and the Philippines, attaining the rank of technical sergeant. He served as a member of the board of directors of H.C. Frick Hospital, Mount Pleasant, from 1967 to 1982, and received a citation for his dedicated service. During that same period, he faithfully served as treasurer for Westmoreland-Fayette Sewage Authority from 1965 to 1995, and also received a citation of appreciation for his service. He was inducted into the Half Century Club of the Pennsylvania Distributing Association Inc. on Aug. 9, 1997, for 50 years of service to the industry. He was also a faithful blood donor for more than 30 years.

Later in life, Alice moved to Green Valley, AZ, where she established a business, Alice's Creations. William apparently remained in Scottdale. Alice died in Arizona on Oct. 26, 1997. William survived her by six years. He passed away at home at the age of 92 on April 15, 2003. He was lowered into eternal rest in Scottdale Cemetery, and an obituary was printed in the Tribune-Democrat.


Mt. Olive Cemetery

Son Richard Donald Echard (1920-1964) was born on March 16, 1920 in Connellsville, Fayette County. He served in the Army during World War II, with training at Camp Rucker, AL. He later held the rank of TEC 5 in Company A of the 159th Engineers Combat Battalion. He was at home on furlough in 1943 when his mother died. Richard eventually was joined in marriage with Eleanor Panichella ( ? - ? ). They lived at 103 Arline Drive in Irwin, Westmoreland County. Richard earned a living as a taxicab driver. The family was plunged into anxiety and later into grieving when Richard was diaghosed with a tumor on his pancreas. He succumbed to his illnesses on Sept. 5, 1964, at the age of 44. Burial was beside his mother in Mt. Olive Cemetery. 


Son Stanley Eugene Echard (1915-1973) was born on March 20, 1915 in Connellsville, Fayette County. At the age of 27, in May 1942, he married 21-year-old Isabel Elizabeth Kost (1920- ? ), daughter of John Paul and Annie Elsie (Fleet) Kost of 2830 Banksville Avenue in Pittsburgh. At the time of marriage, he made his home at 6737 Kelly Street in Pittsburgh, where he worked as a bakery salesman. The couple established a residence in Pittsburgh at 2228 Potomac Avenue. They grieved when their newborn son Stanley Robert Echard, born with intestinal problems, contracted bronchial pneumonia and died in Pittsburgh's Childrens Hospital on May 14, 1944 at the age of only 20 days. The infant's tender remains were lowered into rest in Mount Lebanon Cemetery. Two years later, a daughter was born to the couple, Barbara Lynn "Bubby" Blazovich. In time, Stanley wedded a second time to Audrey Goughnour (Dec. 24, 1922-1999), daughter of Thomas J. and Lillie (Hoffman) Goughnour. They dwelled on Banksville Road but are not thought to have reproduced. Audrey earned a living for 36 years as a cashier with Giant Eagle grocery stores. Without warning, on Dec. 19, 1973, Stanley died at the age of 58. A brief death notice in the Pittsburgh Press said that burial would be in Mount Lebanon Cemetery. Audrey outlived her spouse by 26 years. Toward the end, she was admitted to Integrated Health System in Greensburg. She passed into eternity at the age of 77 the day after Christmas 1999.


  • Granddaughter Barbara Lynn "Bubby" Echard (1946-2019) was born on Nov. 21, 1946 in Pittsburgh. She was joined in wedlock with Anthony "Babs" Blazovich. Their marriage endured for 47 years. The three children born to the couple were Deborah Eutsey, Kimberly Blazovich and Thomas "Timmy" Blazovich. The family relocated to Georgia and settled in Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County. Barbara is said to have loved flowers and apples and baked "famous" apple pies. She volunteered at church, including singing in the choir, and enjoyed touring Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh. Sadly, Barbara Lynn died at home on Feb. 20, 2019, at the age of 72. Her remains were cremated.


Arlington National Cemetery

Son Robert Leroy Echard (1923-2014) was born on Aug. 10, 1923 (or 1926) in Connellsville. He served overseas with the U.S. Navy during World War II and again saw military service in the Korean War and Vietnam War. Circa 1953, he was a sergeant with the U.S. Army, stationed in Germany. Robert later spent many years working as an air traffic controller for the federal government. He married Anneliese Marie Pesold (1927- 2006) and they were together for 49 years. They had one or more children, of whom the couple apparently outlived all. Later in life, they resided in Joppa, MD. Anneliese died on Dec. 10, 2006 in Joppa. She was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. Robert outlived her by eight years. He passed away in Gilchrist Hospice in Towson, MD at the age of 90 on March 13, 2014. Burial was in Arlington, Section 37, Grave #3712. Obituaries were printed for both in the Baltimore Sun.

Son Wilbur M. "Bill" Echard (1933- ? ) was born on Jan. 7, 1933 in Greensburg, Westmoreland County. At the age of 20, in 1953, he dwelled in Scottdale, PA and appears to have remained for good. On Aug. 21, 1955, he was united in the bonds of wedlock with Norma Grace Blackburn ( ? - ? ). Their union endured for an extraordinary 60 years. They were the parents of Dianne Echard Theisen, Eugene Ray Echard, Linda Grace Berish, Janet Pelesky, Alyce Echard, Bryan Echard and Marianne Rose. The family is known to have attended the Grandview Church of God in Smithton. Sadly, at the age of 83, Wilbur passed away on Jan. 26, 2016. He was survived by 14 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

  • Granddaughter Dianne Echard married (?) Theisen and later Doug McClintock. Their home in 2016 was in St. Augustine, FL.
  • Grandson Eugene Ray Echard was united in the bonds of wedlock with Kimberly. They established a residence in Youngwood, Westmoreland County.
  • Granddaughter Linda Grace Echard was joined in matrimony with Samuel Berish. They moved to McClellandtown, Fayette County.
  • Granddaughter Janet Echard entered into marriage with Stephen Pelesky. The couple relocated to Orland Park, IL.
  • Granddaughter Alyce Echard married Charles Vitale. They have dwelled in Trinity, FL.
  • Grandson Bryan Echard wedded Marsha, and the couple lives in Scottdale, PA.
  • Granddaughter Marianne Rose was united in matrimony with Shane Rolin. The pair make a home in Latrobe, Westmoreland County.


~ Son Norman R. Firestone Sr. ~


Norman Firestone

Son Norman R. Firestone Sr. (1893-1969) was born in 1893. 

He married Rose Anna Hochmuth (1898-1948), daughter of Alexander and Mary (Flydell) Hochmuth of Dunbar Township, Fayette County. 

They had seven children, including Dorothy Jeanne Labo, Robert Louis Firestone, Anna Catherine "Skeeter" Kvasnovsky, Victoria Churan, Donald G. Firestone, Norman R. Firestone Jr. and Rosemary Holland. 

He was a veteran of World War I, and during the war he was a member if the Field Signal Battalion, stationed at Camp Meade, MD and at Camp Hancock, GA. Later, he shipped overseas to France as a member of the 109th Infantry. Said the Connellsville Daily Courier, "He was among the first from this section to go to France." He returned home safely in May 1919.

They resided in Connellsville circa 1931 and later at House No. 19 in Searights (1941), a coal mining patch town near Uniontown, Fayette County. 

Two sons served in the military during wartime -- Norman Firestone (World War II) and Robert Firestone (Korea).


Firestone-Stillwagon reunion at Austin and Mollie's home circa 1927 -- image likely taken by legendary Beaver County (PA) photographer Arnold McMahon



Obituary, 1969

Sadly, Rose Anna died at the age of 50 on Aug. 1, 1948. Her requiem high mass was sung at St. Vincent's DePaul Roman Catholic Church in Leisenring, near Uniontown, followed by burial in the church cemetery. 

Norman outlived his wife by 11 years. He was employed as a carpenter by Kinkus Bros. Construction Company, and a member of the Local Carpenters Union 1010. While at work on Sept. 29, 1959, in Mt. Pleasant, Westmoreland County, he fell from a nine-foot scaffold, broke his pelvis and was treated in Uniontown Hospital.

He died on June 23, 1969, in Uniontown Hospital, at age 76. Military honors were provided at graveside, in the old soldiers section of Sylvan Heights Cemetery. The Uniontown Evening Standard reported that he was survived by 10 grandchildren.

Son Norman Firestone Jr. made his home in Salem, OH in 1969.

Daughter Dorothy Jeanne Firestone ( ? -2000) married Charles Labo ( ? - ? ), son of John Semehana and Mary Beban. They were wed on Aug. 28, 1951 in the Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Church of Brownsville, Fayette County. At the time, Dorothy had been employed at Uniontown Hospital, and Charles, a veteran of the Korean War, worked for Conomas Printing Company of Pittsburgh. The couple bore an only son, Jeffrey K. Labo. They began married life in Chillicothe, OH, and by 1969 had moved to Baltimore, MD. Dorothy died on May 27, 2000. The funeral was held at St. Andrew Orthodox Church in Baltimore, with burial in the church cemetery. Her obituary was printed in the Baltimore Sun. Charles survived his wife by two decades. He died on Aug. 22, 2020. His remains were laid to rest in St. Andrew's Orthodox Cemetery in Dundalk, MD.

  • Grandson Jeffrey K. Labo ( ? - ? ) was married and had a family.

Son Robert Louis Firestone (1929-2012) was born on Feb. 5, 1929 in Connellsville. During the Korean War, he served in the U.S. Army. When he was 26 years of age, on Nov. 5, 1955, he was united in marriage with Theresa Barbara Kvasnovsky (Feb. 18, 1933-2017), daughter of Charles and Veronica (Adams) Kvasnovsky of the Continental 1 coal mining patch town near Uniontown. They were wed at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Uniontown. Their marriage lasted for a remarkable 56 years. Together, they produced a daughter, Barbara Anne Firestone and a son Timothy P. Firestone, who died in infancy. The family relocated to Chillicothe, OH, where Robert worked for the Atomic Energy Commission plant in Waverly. They were in Chillicothe in 1969 at the time of death of Robert's father. Robert became a supervisor and eventually retired from the plant in 1992 after a 32-year career. In retirement, he liked to do woodworking and odd jobs around the house. In the community, he was an active United Way volunteer and a member of the St. Mary Church and the Knights of Columbus. Theresa supported the family through her work at Lang's Cleaners. Said an obituary, "She shared abundances of faith, love, joy and hope to all who knew her throughout her life. She loved to cook for her family, bake special items for school and church functions, and dearly loved music and poetry." Toward the end, he became a patient in Adena Regional Medical Center, where he died without warning at the age of 82 on Jan. 21, 2012. His funeral mass was sung at the family church, led by Rev. Lawrence Hummer. Burial of the remains was in St. Margaret Cemetery. The Chillicothe Gazette printed an obituary. Theresa survived as a widow for another five-plus years and remained in Chillicothe. She succumbed to death on Jan. 14, 2017, at the age of 83, in the Vineyards of Concord Assisted Living Facility in Frankfort, OH.

  • Granddaughter Barbara Anne Firestone ( ? - ? )

Daughter Rosemary Firestone ( ? - ? ) wed Delmer Holland ( ? - ? ), son of William Holland of Waltersburg, Fayette County. The nuptials took place in or about October 1951. On Oct. 17, 1951, Rosemary's photograph was printed in the Uniontown Evening Standard, under the headline "Marriage Revealed." The couple lived in Waltersburg, and had at least one daughter, Deborah Ann Holland. Rosemary was deceased by 2012.

  • Granddaughter Deborah Ann Holland ( ? - ? )

Daughter Anna Catherine "Skeeter" Firestone (1935-2015) was born on Nov. 10, 1935 in Connellsville, Fayette County. She married Stephen Paul Kvasnovsky Sr. ( ? - ? ), son of Charles Kvasnovsky of Continental 1. The ceremony was held on Oct. 26, 1957, at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Uniontown, officiated by Rev. Andrew Chupela. The headline about the wedding filled the entire width of a page in the Uniontown Evening Standard, including Anna's photograph. Their bond of marriage endured for half a century. The offspring born to this union were Stephen Paul Kvasnovsky Jr. and Alan H. Kvasnovsky. Stephen worked early in 1957 for the Limbach Co. of Pittsburgh, but later in the year was employed with Armstrong Roofing Company in Kittanning, Armstrong County. The family resided in Uniontown and belonged to St. Mary (Nativity) Roman Catholic Church. Anna made a living as a cook and dietician for 30 years for Uniontown Hospital. Anna died in Golden Living Center at the age of 79 on Oct. 23, 2015. An obituary noted that she was "strong willed and hard working." Her funeral mass was sung in the family church, officiated by Rev. Fr. Peter L. Peretti. Her remains were lowered into eternal repose in Mount St. Macrina Cemetery in Uniontown.

  • Grandson Stephen Paul Kvasnovsky Jr. wedded Rose Ann. They moved to York, PA.
  • Grandson Alan H. Kvasnovsky married Cheryl. They dwell in York, PA.

Son Donald Firestone ( ? - ? ) made his home in 1969 in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, OH. By 2012, he had moved to Willowick, OH.

Daughter Victoria Firestone (1937-2006) was born on Oct. 1, 1937. She wed John Steven "Jack" Churan (Jan. 1, 1937-2005). The couple are believed to have been the parents of Penny Churan-Locher and Kirk Churan. In 1969, their residence was 1090 Edgeorge Street in Pontiac, MI. The children grew up not well-knowing their relatives in Pennsylvania. Sadly, John succumbed to death on Dec. 11, 2005. Burial was in Christian Memorial Gardens West in Rochester Hills, MI. Victoria only lived for less than another year. She was swept away by the angels at the age of 68 on Sept. 28, 2006.

  • Granddaughter Penny Church wedded (?) Locher. Her home in 2012 was in White Lake, MI.
  • Grandson Kirk Churan has resided in Fenton, MI.


John W. Firestone

~ Son John Wesley Firestone ~

John Wesley Firestone (1901-1970) was born on May 23, 1901 in Connellsville. As an adult, he stood six feet tall and weighed 208 lbs. He had blue eyes and brown hair.


John's World War II Coast Guard ID

John worked in a variety of trades, including coal mining (“They call this the Hardly Able Coal Company,” he liked to joke). He also labored in road construction and trucking throughout Western Pennsylvania. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, he migrated to Beaver County, PA, where industrial companies were hiring.

From 1937 through 1966, he was a machinist and millwright in the Roaster Plant Maintenance Division of the St. Joe Lead Company zinc smelter on the Ohio River near Monaca, Beaver County. The Monaca smelter was built in 1930 to produce zinc oxide from zinc sulfide concentrates. As a byproduct, it also made sulfuric acid for the local steel industry. In the mid-1930s, the plant also produced zinc metal from the supplied concentrates.

John also was affiliated with the United States Coast Guard, sponsored by his friend and co-worker George Kennedy, an electrician. His Coast Guard identification card, bearing his photograph image and a fingerprint, is seen below. 

When his father died in testate (without a will) in 1941, John was chosen as the estate administrator, accounting for assets, paying bills and completing court filings.

In 1941, at the age of 40, John married 27-year-old Rita Marian Reinehr (1914-1998).

They had one child, Mary Aloyse Firestone, born in 1942.


Rail line along the Ohio River, Beaver, Pennsylvania. John Wesley Firestone



John's movie camera mounted on a 
gun stock so it could be held firmly

They lived in Vanport, Rochester and Baden, Beaver County. John became an avid still and movie photographer in 1942 at the birth of his daughter. He also enjoyed fishing, automobile trips around the U.S. and Canada with his family, and playing the fiddle and mandolin at country dances. Their daughter once wrote that reading was "one of the great gifts to me from my parents: literacy. Neither of my parents had the opportunity to go to high school, but they read, bought books and the Encyclopedia Britannica. And the atlas."

After his retirement in 1966, John fulfilled a lifelong ambition -- visiting a famous redwood tree in California; he had seen a picture of a horse-drawn wagon driving through a tunnel in the trunk of the giant tree and was able to photograph his own automobile in the very same spot.

John owned a Bell & Howell movie camera which was mounted on a gunstock. His initials "JWF" were carved into the wood. Since the shape of the camera was not well designed to be held steady, his St. Joe co-worker Pop Snyder made this mount, including a handle in the front. John then used it to film "mountains" of footage of his family and travels, primarily of  his young daughter. One memorable outing was at Pittsburgh's Kennywood Park around 1948.  At some point, he obtained splicing equipment and began the time-consuming task of editing his collection down to a manageable number, comprised of 14 six-inch reels. 


John at work

He died of congestive heart failure in 1970, at the age of 69. 

Rita outlived her husband by more than a quarter of a century, and resided in New Brighton. She passed away on March 18, 1998, at the age of 84.

In 2012, some 42 years after his death, his daughter commissioned a commemorative U.S. postage stamp in his memory, labeled "Miner - Trucker - Millwright," and used it for her Christmas cards.

Daughter Mary Aloyse Firestone ( ? -2019) was born in (?). She grew up in Vanport, Rochester and Baden, Beaver County, PA. Mary never married but devoted her life to the arts and the sciences. She was highly educated, studying at Carlow University (1961), Geneva College (1964), Corcoran School of Art  (1975) and Art Institute of Pittsburgh. After relocated to Boston, she took additional studies at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (1982) and Harvard University (1983). Her diverse employment over the years including positions as a technical information specialist at the National Oceanographic Data Center (1965-1976), the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute (1976-1982), the Occupational Health Program at the Harvard School of Public Health (1982) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (1986-1988). Other positions she held were in the Work Environment Program at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell (1987-1991), the JSI Center for Environmental Health Studies (1990)and the Town of Bedford (2003-2016). After retirement, she focused on creating art and writing, despite enduring cancer of the face. She also contributed important Firestone papers and family photographs to be added to this website. She passed away on Dec. 20, 2019.


~ Daughter Eva (Firestone) Martin Parfitt ~

Daughter Eva I. Firestone (1903-1982) was  born on Nov. 23, 1903, in Bullskin Township near Connellsville. 

She was twice married. Her first husband was Grant Martin Sr. (1901-1975), son of Noah and Dinah (Etling) Martin. They were wed in about 1921, when Eva was age 18. 

They had one daughter, Ruth E. Wingard, born in 1923 in Connellsville. 

Soon after the child's birth, the couple divorced. Grant went on to marry again, to divorcee Thelma Mansberry (1907-1951), and had a son of their own, Grant Martin Jr. Grant and Thelma divorced and, sometime after 1944, she married again to Henry King Butterrmore. Thelma died of peritonitis and cervical cancer on March 19, 1951. Grant was employed by W.L. Whipkey Company as a carpenter and was a member of the Millertown Community Church. He made his home in Normalville in later years. At the age of 73, he died at Jeannette's Monsour Hospital on April 10, 1975, with burial at the Normalville Cemetery. In an obituary, the Daily Courier reported that his survivors included a dozen grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Eva's second husband was John M. "Jack" Parfitt Jr. (1905-1977), son of John M. and Phoebe (Pore) Parfitt Sr. They bore one son, Clyde R. Parfitt Sr.

Jack worked for U.S. Steel’s Christy Park works in McKeesport, Allegheny County, PA. They maintained a home in Mount Pleasant in 1931 and later at 123 Market Street in Scottdale, Westmoreland County. Jack was a member of the Slovak Club of Mt. Pleasant, Pleasant Valley Community Church, Scottdale Moose Lodge and Hecla Veterans Club. Eva was active in the Pleasant Valley church and with its Sunday School class.


Daily Courier, 1982

Jack died at the age of 72, at the H.C. Frick Community Hospital in Mt. Pleasant, on June 15, 1977. His funeral was conducted by the Rev. Frank Dean of Vanderbilt, with burial in the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery. At his death, said the Connellsville Daily Courier, he was survived by 16 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. 

Eva outlived her husband by five years, remaining in their home at 318 Pittsburgh Street in Scottdale. She died in the H.C. Frick Community Hospital in Mount Pleasant on Dec. 9, 1982, at the age of 79. At her death, noted the Courier, the number of great-grandchildren had swelled to 25.


Connellsville Daily Courier

Daughter Ruth E. Martin (1923-1994) was born on June 22, 1923 in Connellsville. She married Ernest H. "Tucker" Wingard (1917-1995), the son of William and Anna (Freiberg) Wingard and stepson of William Bush, on Christmas Day 1939. They had nine children -- Ernest  "Red" Wingard, Raymond Wingard, Donald "Butch" Wingard, Anna Susie Tabaj, Rosemary McFern, Dorothy Cooper, Debbie Kenney, Dolores "Lory" Mitchell and an infant daughter who died in 1940. Their home in 1977 was in Connellsville. Tucker was a longtime timber laborer and coal miner. He also enjoyed fishing and was a member of the Sons of Italy of Scottdale. Ruth passed away on May 1, 1994 at Shadyside Hospital in Pittsburgh, at the age of 70. She was laid to rest in Rich Hill Cemetery in Bullskin Township, with Rev. Frank W. Dean leading the service. Tucker died a year and eight days after Ruth, on May 9, 1995, at home in Connellsville. Rev. Dean officiated at the funeral. In Tucker's obituary, the Greensburg Tribune-Review said he was survived by 18 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. 

  • Grandson Raymond Wingard wed Karen Hair. They lived in Dunbar. Their son Albert R. Wingard (1966-1987) joined the U.S. Marine Corps following high school graduation, and underwent training at Camp Lejeune, NC, where he achieved the rank of lance corporal. He was "severely injured" in an automobile accident in January 1987 and, tragically, never recovered. He died on Sept. 5, 1987. Burial was in Green Ridge Memorial Park.
  • Grandson Ernest "Red" Wingard (1942-2013) was born on March 19, 1942 in Bullskin Township near Connellsville. He married Myrtle Overly and had these children -- John Wingard, Mike Wingard, Lisa King, Sherie Brownfield and Barbara Bell. Ernest earned a living for many years in the construction industry in Connellsville. He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 21. He died at age 71 on Dec. 14, 2013. Pastor Vickie S. Lynch officiated at his funeral service, with an obituary printed in the Daily Courier.
  • Granddaughter Anna "Susie" Wingard wed Matthew Tabaj. Their residence was in Dunbar.
  • Grandson Donald "Butch" Wingard ( ? - ? ) was born on (?). He was united in marriage with Debra Lee "Debbie" Bielstein (Aug. 26, 1957-2024), daughter of William and Martha (Schroyer) Bielstein. Three children borne of this union were Shawn Wingard, Amanda Wingard-Smith and Rebecca Watkins. Debra at one time was employed by Somerset Hospital. In about 2007, the Wingards relocated to Connellsville, PA, and remained there for the 17 remaining years of their lives together. Said an obituary, "Debbie was a master crochet artist, although she would never admit it, and was always working on projects to gift to family and friends!" Sadly, at the age of 66, Debra passed away in Greensburg at Independence Health System's Westmoreland Hospital.

    Great-grandson Shawn Wingard wed Elizabeth. They put down roots in Pasadena, MD.

    Great-granddaughter Amanda Wingard married Bryan Smith. The couple settled in West Newton, PA.

    Great-granddaughter Rebecca Wingard tied the knot with Jason Watkins. In 2024, they were in Mount Pleasant, PA

  • Granddaughter Rosemary Wingard married (?) McFern and made her home in Scottdale.
  • Granddaughter Dorothy Wingard was wedded to James Cooper. In 2013, they lived in Connellsville.
  • Granddaughter Deborah "Debbie" Wingard was united in matrimony with Donald Kenney of Mt. Pleasant.
  • Granddaughter Dolores "Lory" Wingard married William Mitchell. They called Connellsville home.

Son Clyde Ralph Parfitt Sr. (1928-2015) was born on Jan. 13, 1928 in Connellsville. After the close of World War II, Clyde served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Japan with the 24th Medical Battalion. At the age of 20, he married Ruby "Gerry" (Betz) Suter ( ? -2014) in Oakland, MD on Sept. 13, 1948. She was the daughter of Gerald and Margaret (Davenport) Betz. They made their home in Scottdale, Mount Pleasant and Hunker, Westmoreland County, and had eight children -- Barbara Miller, Marjorie Henry, John W. Parfitt, Bruce E. Parfitt, Clyde Ralph Parfitt Jr., Linda Huemme, Karen Bish Eggan and James Parfitt. Following his father's occupation, Clyde was a longtime steelworker at the Christy Park works of U.S. Steel, logging 33 years for the company. Ruby was a charter member of the Pleasant Valley Community Church, sang in its choir and belonged to its Ladies Bible Class. Clyde and Ruby celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on Sept. 12, 1998 with a dinner at the Bridgeport Sportsmen's Club. In 2013, they reached their 65th anniversary. Heartache rocked the family as they endured the untimely deaths of their adult daughter Barbara Miller, son sin law James Henry, Paul Bish and Thomas Miller, and granddaughter Dana Miller. Sadly, Ruby died at age 84 on Sept. 7, 2014 in Jo Ella's Personal Care Home in Scottdale. Burial was in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery. Clyde outlived his wife by a little more than six months. He passed away at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg on March 11, 2015. At his death, reported the Connellsville Daily Courier, he was survived by 16 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.

  • Granddaughter Marjorie Parfitt ( ? - ? ) married James D. Henry (1949-2009), son of James L. and Eva Jean (Whipkey) Henry of Bullskin Township. Their marriage was held on Jan. 18, 1972. The couple lived in Alverton, near Mt. Pleasant, and produced these children -- Marla Henry and Melissa L. Henry. James worked for three decades as a warehouse laborer with Super Value in Belle Vernon, PA. He also was a member of Pleasant Valley Community Church, serving there as a deacon, trustee, Sunday School superintendent and youth advisor, and belonged to the Alverton Civic Association. James passed away on Nov. 19, 2009, at age 60, in Select Specialty Hospital in Latrobe. Interment was in Alverton Cemetery. Marjorie outlived her spouse and in 2024 was in Alverton.
  • Grandson John W. Parfitt wed Tina and lived in Smithsburg, MD. In 2024, they were in Myrtle Beach, SC. 
  • Grandson Bruce E. Parfitt (1953-2024) was born on Feb. 16, 1953 in Mount Pleasant. He was a 1971 graduate of Connellsville Area High School. On May 1, 1982, he was united in holy wedlock with Deborah Ann (Szwed) Sherbondy (May 8, 1955-2020), daughter of Edward and Shirley (Kropp) Szwed. Their marital union endured for 38 years until cleaved apart by death. Having been wed previously, she brought four offspring to the second union -- Michael J. Sherbondy, Scott Allen Sherbondy, Deanna Sherbondy and Jason Edward Sherbondy. For three decades, he was employed as a logistics supervisor for Westinghouse Corporation's Waltz Mill Service Center in Madison/Ruffsdale, PA. The Parfitts resided in Alverton, Westmoreland County and were members of Pleasant Valley Community Church in Connellsville, where Deborah taught Sunday School. She also enjoyed vacations at the Outer Banks islands of North Carolina and was a voracious reader. Said an obituary, "Bruce was a devoted life member of Pleasant Valley Community Church in Connellsville. An avid hunter, Bruce found solace and joy in the great outdoors... The moments shared during family gatherings, holiday celebrations, and simple everyday interactions were the times he treasured most." Sadly, Deborah Ann succumbed to death at the age of 64, on March 18, 2020, in UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Oakland near Pittsburgh. Because of the nationwide quarantine at the time due to the spread of the Corona virus, a funeral service was not held. Bruce survived his bride by four years. A day after his 71st birthday, on Feb. 17, 2024, he died in Mount Pleasant at the Frickk Hospital Independence Health System. His funeral rites were conducted by Pastor Scott Martin in the family church.

    Step-great-grandson Michael J. Sherbondy married Laurel. They live in Scottdale, PA.

    Step-great-grandson Scott Allen Sherbondy wed Kristie Leigh. They have made a home in Alverton, PA.

    Step-great-granddaughter Deanna Sherbondy is a companion of Jason Guttilla and resides in Ruffsdale.

    Step-great-grandson Jason Edward Sherbondy dwells in Acme, PA.

  • Grandson Clyde Ralph Parfitt Jr. was united in marriage with Jane. Their home over the years has been in Platteville, CO.
  • Granddaughter Linda Parfitt married William Huemme and made their home in the Penn Hills suburb of Pittsburgh.
  • Granddaughter Barbara I. Parfitt (1948-2012) was born on Dec. 21, 1948 in Mt. Pleasant. She wed Thomas E. Miller ( ? -2003). They had two children, Thomas E. Miller II and Dana Marie Miller. The family resided in Connellsville and Uledi, Fayette County. Tragedy struck when daughter Dana Marie died on April 21, 1990. Barbara was a licensed practical nurse and spent a decade working at Brownsville Hospital. Heartache followed when Thomas passed away in 2003. Stricken with Parkinson's Disease, she outlived him by nine years, and died on Feb. 28, 2012. Burial was in Cochran Cemetery in Dawson, Fayette County.
  • Granddaughter Karen Parfitt ( ? - ? ) wed Paul John Monroe Bish (1961-2009), son of Junior P. and Joan H. (Truswell) Bish of Everson. Their nuptials were held on April 8, 2000. They had two daughters, Bettina Marie Bish and Typhany Marie Bish. Paul served in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, 28th Division, 110th Infantry. For three decades, he was employed as a roofer with Kuzmkowski Roofing of Delmont. They resided in Hunker, Westmoreland County and were members of the New Stanton United Methodist Church. He died at home at the age of 47 on Jan. 23, 2009, with interment in Greenlick Cemetery. She has married again to Gary Eggan and relocated to North Carolina.
  • Grandson James Parfitt married Joni and lived in Clinton, TN in 2020-2024..


~ Levina Pearl (Firestone) Harrison ~


Beaver County Times

Daughter Levina Pearl Firestone (1906-1984) was born on April 15, 1906 in Connellsville. Her middle name also has been given as "Grace."

She married William Howard Harrison Sr. (1905-1983), son of Matthew and Rebecca (Robbins) Harrison of Sunnyside, PA.

They lived in Connellsville and at Crucible, Greene County, PA (ca. 1927-1933) and later in New Brighton, Beaver County. William eventually became a millwright at St. Joe Minerals Corporation (formerly St. Joe Lead) in Monaca, Beaver County. 

The couple produced had three children -- Donald M. Harrison, William Howard 'Whitey" Harrison Jr., Vernon Charles Harrison, Robert Lee Harrison and Norma Jean Holsinger. 

After relocating to Beaver County, the Harrisons resided at 101 Craig Street in Rochester and were members of the First United Methodist Church, where Levina was active with its Womens Circle. William was a member of the Masons lodge in New Brighton and the New Castle Consistory. 

William passed away at the age of 77 on April 7, 1983, in the Medical Center of Beaver. Rev. Frank Bodnar of the family church presided at the funeral service, followed by interment in Sylvania Hills Memorial Park.


St. Joe Lead Smelting Division near Monaca, PA. From a painting by Howard Fogg for the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Co., of the New York Central System.


Levina outlived her husband by 11 years, remaining in their home in Rochester. She died in the Medical Center on May 29, 1984, at the age of 78. Her obituary in the Beaver County Times noted that she was survived by 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. She joined her husband in eternal repose in Sylvania Hills Memorial Park, with her funeral likewise handled by Rev. Bodnar.


Beaver County Times

Son William Howard Harrison Jr. (1924-1981) was born on Oct. 27, 1924 in Connellsville. He also served in the Army during World War II, and relocated to New Brighton in 1953. William married Dolores Foster ( ? - ? ) and had one son, Gary H. Harrison. Their home was at 3928 41st Avenue in New Brighton. William worked for many years at St. Joe Minerals Corporation in Potter Township, near Monaca, and retired as supervisor. He also was a member of the Masons lodge of New Brighton, as was his father. At the age of 57, having been ill for three weeks, William died on Christmas Eve 1981 in the Medical Center of Beaver. The family pastor, Rev. Bodnar, conducted the memorial service.

Son Donald M. Harrison (1927-2017) was born on Feb. 19, 1927 in Crucible, Greene County, PA. During World War II, Donald served in the U.S. Navy as a signalman on the U.S.S. Dale, and later told his family about surviving a typhoon while other vessels in the convoy sank. After the war, in about 1948, he was united in holy matrimony with Dorothy Theresa Meyers ( ? -2000). The couple made their home in Monaca, Beaver County, and produced these children -- Edward Charles Harrison and LaVerne Catherine Shearer. As did his brother Vernon, Donald was employed by the Vanport plant of Westinghouse Electric Company. Said the Beaver County Times, Donald "was loved by all who knew him for his gentle ways and good heart. He loved his grandchildren as if they were his own and adored his Great Grandchildren. He was a good friend and neighbor and would do anything for anybody in need.... He loved fishing and in later years golfing. Mostly he just loved the simple life and visiting his friends and family, of which he had many." Sadly, Dorothy died on Nov. 17, 2000, ending a marriage which had endured for more than 52 years. Donald survived her by 17 years and went to live in Shalotte, NC. Having endured a lingering illness for two years, he succumbed on Feb. 20, 2017. An obituary was published in the Times.


  • Grandson Edward Charles Harrison resides in Monaca, PA.
  • Granddaughter LaVerne Catherine Harrison wed Bruce Shearer and make their home in Beaver, PA.


Westinghouse plant in Vanport

Son Vernon Charles Harrison (1929-2003) was born in 1929. He served in the US Army in Italy during World War II, carrying the rank of sergeant. At some point he had a daughter, Norma " Jean" Hamon McElwain. In about 1962, at the age of 33, he married 37-year-old Marian W. (Dickinson) White (1925-2012), widow of James T. White and daughter of David E. and Jean Dickinson of Rochester. They remained wed for 41 years. She brought two children to the marriage -- Beverly A. Conner and James E. White. Vernon and Marian produced one daughter of their own, Wendy Lynn Longfellow. The family resided in New Brighton, and were members of the First United Methodist Church of New Brighton. Vernon was employed at Westinghouse Electric in Vanport (Beaver) for 36 years and retired from there. Marian worked as a title researcher for Marion Hill Auto Sales and once was employed as a clerk by New Brighton's Puritan Drug Store. In later years, they made their home in Supply, NC, where Marian volunteered her time with Autumn Care Supply. He died in Supply on Dec. 18, 2002, and his remains were returned to New Brighton's Grove Cemetery for a funeral and burial, conducted by Rev. Frank "Doc" Garlathy. His Beaver County Times obituary said he was survived by four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Marian survived her husband by a decade, residing in her home in Pulaski Township. She passed away on Aug. 31, 2012, with interment beside her husband. An obituary was printed in the Beaver County Times. On her bronze memorial marker is inscribed these words: "Beloved mother, friend and gummy."


  • Granddaughter Norma " Jean" Harrison was married to (?) Hamon and (?) McElwain. She made her home in Portersville, PA in 2012.


  • Granddaughter Wendy L. Harrison (1965-2002) was born on Jan. 8, 1965. She married (?) Longfellow. Sadly, she passed away at the age of 37 on May 8, 2002.


  • Step-granddaughter Beverly A. White (1943-2013) was born on Aug. 4, 1943 in New Brighton. She married Walter E. Conner and had two daughters -- Kelly Riddell and Tracy Schroeder. Reported the Beaver County Times, Beaverly "was a retired employee with the Holiday Inn in Beaver Falls, the Beaver County Times and Tuscarora Plastics. She was a member of the New Brighton Methodist Church. She was a volunteer with the Daugherty Township Volunteer Fire Dept., Ladies Auxiliary of which she was a Golden Member." She died on March 7, 2013 in Pittsburgh's Allegheny General Hospital.


  • Step-granddaughter Wendy White married (?) Longfellow. 


Daughter Norma Jean Harrison (1931-2008) was born on Jan. 10, 1931 in Crucible, Greene County. She married Richard Clark Holsinger ( ? -1960) and had three children -- Carol Ann Holsinger, Cindy J. Landman and Vernon T. Holsinger. The family resided in Pulaski Township, Beaver County. Norma "was a retired employee of the former Westinghouse Corporation, Vanport," said the Beaver County Times. "Protestant by faith, she was a former licensed practical nurse with the former Rochester Hospital." She passed away at the age of 77 on April 15, 2008, and was laid to rest in Sylvania Hills Memorial Park, with Rev. Brian Swan officiating in his position as chaplain of Asera Hospice.


  • Granddaughter Carol Ann Holsinger has mades her home in Pulaski Township and New Brighton, Beaver County.


  • Granddaughter Cindy J. Holsinger was joined in marriage with Jon/John M. Landman. They resided in Pulaski Township, Beaver County.


Darlington, PA -- home of the Vernon Holsinger family



  • Grandson Vernon T. Holsinger (1948-2021) was born on Dec. 12, 1948 in Rochester. He served in the U.S. Army as a member of the 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell, KY. Vernon was joined in wedlock with Karen ( ? -living). They bore four daughters -- Jamie Bedits, Kelly Schoedel, Joni Shipley and Lynnette Holsinger. For 41 years, he was employed by Westinghouse Electric Company in a maintenance capacity. At one time they lived in New Brighton, Beaver County, but moved to the Darlington community. He played golf three times a week and was a member of the Rochester Turners and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Said the Beaver County Times, he "volunteered to help make Darlington Boro a better place and helped the former Little Beaver Lioness Club." After a divorce, he was a companion of M. Benois Walton for 25 years. At the age of 72, he died at home on Jan. 30, 2021. An obituary was printed in the Times.

Great-granddaughter Jamie Holsinger wedded Donald Bedits. Their home in 2021 was in Monaca, Beaver County.

Great-granddaughter Kelly Holsinger married Chris Schoedel. The couple put down roots in New Brighton.

Great-granddaughter Joni Holsinger was joined in marriage with Seth Shipley. They relocated to Nashville, TN.

Great-granddaughter Lynnette Holsinger has resided in Florida.


Son Robert Lee Harrison (1933-2009) was born on Jan. 12, 1933 in Crucible, Greene County. After moving to Daughterty Township, Beaver County, PA in childhood, he began working for the Pennsylvania Railroad while still a student at Rochester High School. He served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, from 1952 to 1956. After the war, he returned home and resumed his work at the railroad, remaining for 42½ years in total for the Pennsy and its successors Penn Central and Conrail. During that time, he primarily served in the position of yardmaster. In about 1954, Robert was joined in holy wedlock with Joan Clendenning ( ? - ? ), daughter of Charles Edward and Dorothy E. (McCullough) Clendenning. They remained together for 55 years until the separation of death. They went on to produce three children -- Debbie Johnson, Jan Boyette and Kurt Harrison. Robert retired from Conrail in 1994, and he and Joan retired to Bennettsville, SC, reported the Beaver County Times, "where they continued their passion for restoring older homes." In about 2003, he contracted cancer, and lived with the disease until death at Duke University Hospital in Durham, NC on Jan. 9, 2009, just three days shy of his 76th birthday. The Times printed an obituary.


  • Granddaughter Debbie Harrison made her home in Bennettsville, SC.


  • Granddaughter Jan Harrison wed Tony Boyette and resides in Durham, NC.


  • Son Kurt Harrison married Danetta and resides in Marietta, OH.


~ Daughter Sarah Belle (Firestone) Messenger Condie ~

Daughter Sarah Belle Firestone (1909-1991) was born on Jan. 3, 1909 in Connellsville. 

Her first husband was Donald Grove Messenger (Sept. 7, 1902-1955), son of Harry and Carrie (Liston) Messenger of Moundsville, Marshall County, WV. They were wed on Dec. 13, 1927 in New Cumberland, Hancock County, WV, by the hand of Rev. J.E. Kidwell of the Christian Church. Sarah was age 18 and Donald 25 when married, although on their West Virginia marriage license, she fibbed that her age was 21. At the time of marriage, Donald resided in Rochester, Beaver County.

They went on to produce five known children -- Donald Grove Messenger Jr., Robert Messenger, Eleanor Hogsett, Donna Seidler and Eileen Kullmann. 

In 1931, the Messengers lived in Rochester, Beaver County, PA. Circa the mid-1950s, their address was 485 Delaware Avenue in Rochester. During that time, Donald was employed as a foreman in a local zinc works, possibly St. Joe Zinc in Monaca.

Sadly, in mid-1954, Donald died contracted Hodgkins Disease, a form of cancer. He suffered for eight months and underwent a biopsy in November. He died in Rochester General Hospital at the age of 52 on Feb. 9, 1955. His remains were placed into eternal repose in Sylvania Hills Memorial Park.

Later, Sarah married her second spouse, Charles A. Condie (1908-1973).


Sisters Donna and Eileen Messenger



Over her adult years, Sarah lived in Hopewell Township (Aliquippa) and Rochester, and in about 1981 moved to a house on Dutch Ridge Road in Brighton Township (Beaver).


Beaver County Times, 1991

Sarah was employed as a nurse at the Beaver Valley Geriatric Center in Beaver. She also was a worthy high priestess of the White Shrine of Jerusalem, and a past mother advisor of the Rainbow Girls in Rochester, said the Beaver County Times

In July 1973, Charles passed away, at the age of 65.

Sarah outlived her second husband by 16 years. She died on July 19, 1991, at the age of 82, in the Beaver Medical Center. Following a funeral preached by Rev. Clifford Schaub, she was laid to rest in Sylvania Hills Memorial Park. 

Son Robert Messenger married Brenda Foster, daughter of John Foster of Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. The wedding took place on Jan. 10, 1975, with a photograph of Brenda -- wearing her nurses' hat -- published in the Beaver County Times. At the time of marriage, Robert worked for Jones &Laughlin Steel Corporation in Aliquippa, and she was a nurse at the Royal Victoria Infirmary. They made their home circa 1991-1997 in Center Township, Beaver County.

Daughter Eleanor Messenger ( ? - ? ) was born in (?). In about 1951, she was united in wedlock with 22-year-old Melvin Hogsett (Feb. 15, 1929-2018). The couple remained together for 67 years until the separation of death. They were the parents of an only son, James Hogsett. During the Korean War, Melvin served in the U.S. Armed Forces. After the war, he was employed as a laboratory manager with ARCO. The Hogsetts resided in Exton, Chester County, PA, in the early 1990s. By 1997, they made their home in Brighton Township near Beaver. They enjoyed playing bridge and took part in charity games benefitting Easter Seals. Melvin was a member of the International Order of Odd Fellows and Mason lodges and, said the Beaver County Times, was "an elder at every church he attended." He died on May 4, 2018. An obituary in the Times noted that he "was a great and loving man who was respected and loved by many." A memorial service was held at the First Christian Church of Beaver.

  • Grandson James "Jim" Hogsett married Diane (?). Their offspring were David Hogsett and Stephen Hogsett.

Daughter Donna Messenger wed Charles "Chuck" Seidler and lived in Homewood, near Pittsburgh. In 1997, they lived in Racine, PA.


Donna and Chuck Seidler (left) at their wedding, with her sister Eileen Kullmann and guest


Daughter Eileen Francis Messenger (1938-1977) was born on Dec. 6, 1938 in Rochester. She married twice. Her first husband was Frank Strutt. She later wed Gene Kullmann. Eileen had two daughters, Cathy Ann Strutt and Susan Johnson. Their home in 1991 was Tulsa, Tulsa County, OK. After what the Beaver County Times called "an extended illness," Eileen died at home at the age of 59 on Nov. 4, 1997. Her funeral was held in the Plainsville Baptist Church in Tulsa, followed by burial in a local memorial park. Back in her hometown, a memorial service was held in the First Christian Church of Beaver, led by Rev. Mark Litten.


Greensburg Tribune-Review

~ Son Austin J. Firestone Jr. ~

Son Austin J. Firestone Jr. (1910-1994) was born on Dec. 19, 1910 in Bullskin Township.

At the age of 23, Austin married 21-year-old Lillian Myrtle Breegle (1915- ? ), the daughter of Samuel James Breegle. The ceremony took place in Uniontown, Fayette County, on Sept. 21, 1933, led by Rev. Roland O. Hudson. At the time of marriage, Austin was an electrician in Connellsville, and Lillian a clerk of Foxtown, Westmoreland County. 

They did not reproduce, and "lived in Foxtown for many years," said the 1993 book, My "King" and "Hixson" and Breegle, Dillinger, Silliman Families of Pennsylvania & Ohio, authored by Cy Richard King. 

Austin Jr. was employed at Robertshaw Controls in New Stanton, Westmoreland County, PA. He was a deacon with the First Baptist Church of Greensburg, and a Boy Scout troop leader.


Robertshaw Controls, where Austin worked


In 1932, Austin, his brother Woodrow and brother in law William Harrison found themselves in a legal battle with Emerson Whipkey over the alleged theft of a half-acre of timber, due to uncertainty over who actually owned the property. A jury in the Fayette County Court could not reach a verdict because the facts were so confusing and ownership question unclear.


Austin passed away at the age of 84 on April 1, 1994. Burial was in Westmoreland County Memorial Park, with the funeral led by Rev. Dean A. Davidson of the First Baptist Church of Greensburg. 

Lillian survived her husband by almost a decade. She died on Dec. 3, 2003, age 88.


~ Son Woodrow Wilson Firestone ~


Woodrow Firestone

Son Woodrow Wilson Firestone (1913-1988) was born in 1913. 

He married Sophia Polosky (Dec. 24, 2912-1954), daughter of John and Mary (Hathaway) Polosky of Carmichaels, Greene County, PA, and was nine years older than his bride.

They had four children -- James Firestone, Shirley Firestone, Nancy Firestone and Robert Firestone.

In 1932, Woodrow, his brother Austin and brother in law William Harrison got into a legal dispute with Emerson Whipkey over the alleged theft of a half-acre of timber, due to uncertainty over who actually owned the property. A jury in the Fayette County Court could not reach a verdict because the facts were too confusing and ownership question unclear.

Woodrow and Sophia resided in a home at 400 East George Street in Carmichaels. He drove a light grey, four door 1949 Chevrolet sedan.


Woodrow's obit, 1988

Tragedy rocked the young family the spring of 1954 when Sophia, age 32, contracted a deadly case of cervical cancer. She endured the illness for five months and was admitted to Greene County Memorial Hospital in Waynesburg. She developed a urinary tract infection and died on Oct. 16, 1954. Interment was in Laurel Point Cemetery in Carmichaels. The Connellsville Daily Courier printed an obituary.

Sophia's untimely passing left her husband with four young children to raise. As a widower, Woodrow made his home in Salem, OH. 

He died in 1988.

Son Robert Firestone lived in Parma, OH in 1988.

Daughter Nancy Firestone ( ? - ? ) was born in (?). She wed Archie Crum ( ? -living), son of George and Pauline (Gilman) Crum. The couple produced at least one daughter, Denise Crum. They resided for many years in Salem, OH, where they were members of the First United Presbyterian Church, and Nancy was active with its December Circle and a trustee of Salem Country Club.

Daughter Shirley Firestone married Richard Scott and made their home in Salem, OH. They belonged to the First United Presbyterian Church, where Shirley and her sister Nancy Crum served as Sunday School leaders.


~ Daughter Lydia (Firestone) McCall ~

Daughter Lydia Firestone (1916-1996) was born on March 5, 1916 in Connellsville. 

She married David L. McCall (1917-2003), the son of Hazen and Ella (Powell) McCall. 

They had four children -- Karen Fay Lindsay, David William "Bill" McCall, Richard McCall and Jodi Feyka.



McCall Press advertisement in the New 
Brighton 150th anniversary booklet, 1988


In 1928, at the age of 11, David founded his own printing operation, which later became McCall Press in Beaver Falls, Beaver County. The firm was in operation for many decades and was located at 620 Darlington Road in Beaver Falls. 

When the nearby town of New Brighton celebrated its sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary in 1988, McCall Press purchased an advertisement in the commemorative booklet, promoting its letterpress and offset printing capabilities. An original copy of this booklet, seen here, is preserved in the Minerd.com Archives. We hope to add more examples of the company's work to the archives over time.

Lydia was active in the community and was president of Beaver County Council of the PTA, on the Beaver Falls Mayor’s Advisory Council and a member of the Poetry Society of Beaver County. She also was affiliated with Avon Corporation for two decades and, with her husband, were licensed aircraft pilots and owned their own airplane.

Heartache rocked this family in September 1986 when married daughter Karen Fay Lindsay died at age 43, leaving behind a husband and two young daughters. (See more below.) 


Beaver County Times

Lydia passed away two days after Christmas in 1996, at age 80, in the Medical Center of Beaver. Her obituary in the Beaver County Times noted that she was "the best mother and grandmother in the world" and that she was survived by five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She was interred in the family plot at Grandview Cemetery in Big Beaver Borough, Beaver County, following a funeral officiated by her former church pastor, Rev. Jerry Pia. 

David outlived his wife by almost seven years, remaining in their home in Patterson Township near Beaver Falls. He died unexpectedly at the age of 85 on July 14, 2003. Rev. Mark Guy of East Palestine, OH oversaw the funeral, with burial in Grandview Cemetery. A lengthy obituary was published in the Beaver County Times.


Beaver County Times

Daughter Karen Fay McCall was born on Jan. 22, 1943 in Beaver Falls. She married John R. "Jack" Lindsay and had two daughters, Paula Renee Alexander and Debra Lynn Lindsay. Karen was employed part-time in the family printing business, and "was a well-known cake decorator," said the Beaver County Times. They were members of Berachah Chapel in Darlington, where she taught in its Sunday School. Tragically, Karen died at the age of 43 on Sept. 12, 1986, in the Medical Center of Beaver. She was laid to rest in Grandview Cemetery, following a funeral service led by Rev. Kenneth D. Tritt.

Son David William "Bill" McCall married Elizabeth Ann and lived in Daugherty Township.

Son Richard McCall resided in Patterson Township.

Daughter Jodi McCall married Kenneth Feyka and resided in Patterson Township.

A nephew on the Stillwagon side of the family -- Arnold McMahon, son of Lydia (Stillwagon) McMahon -- was an avid historian and photograph collector. He was active for many years with the Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation. He also published three books of photographs, entitled Beaver County Album, Beaver County Album II and Beaver County Album III. His extensive archive of thousands of old images now comprises the Graule-McMahon Collection of Graule Studios in Rochester, Beaver County.


Copyright © 2004, 2008-2009, 2012-2015, 2017-2018, 2021 Mark A. Miner

Many thanks to Mary Aloyse Firestone for the John Wesley Firestone material and to Denny Shirer of the Shirer Family Genealogy Project for graciously sharing his research findings. Westinghouse Vanport photograph courtesy of the Beaver Area (PA) Heritage Museum.