As the anonymous owners of Anderson's Cash Clothing Store pose proudly for a vintage photograph circa 1900, the signature of the sign-painter is visible just above the proprietor's head and doorway, under the words "One Price Store" -- A.E. Harbaugh.
Harbaugh, the son of Leonard and Maria E. (Eicher) Harbaugh Jr., was a self-taught poet, journalist, sketch artist, sign painter, historian, economic development champion and political analyst. His home was Mill Run, Fayette County, in the years before it became famed as the home of Fallingwater, the nation's most famous modern house. He was nicknamed "The Mountain Poet" and his pen name was "Al-Ed-Ha," an abbreviation of his full name.
His talents in advertising were prized in an age when alternatives were unavailable or unaffordable, with his signs painstakingly lettered in bright hues of hand-mixed paints. Harbaugh traveled to many towns in Western Pennsylvania to paint billboards and buildings, and to decorate homes and churches. The Uniontown (PA) Genius of Liberty once said that "Al-Ed-Ha has no superiors in that sort of work." At his death in 1916, his obituary was widely published in the newspapers of Pittsburgh, Uniontown and Connellsville, PA.
Harbaugh also was a talented writer of poetry and prose, and a sought-after genealogist. His history of the Minerd-Miner family, written for the clan's first reunion in 1913, has been an irreplaceable source of information that otherwise would be lost to history. In 1999, some 83 years after his death, he was the cover story in the Western Pennsylvania History magazine of the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh. [More] >>>