Sesquicentennial souvenirs still available (click here)
Blacklick Township sesquicentennial
celebration a great success
By Jon Kennedy, webmaster
The Blacklick Township Sesquicentennial celebration the weekend of July 29-30 was by all measures a great success. The all-class reunion dance at the Blue Goose Sporstmen's Club north of Belsano on Saturday night drew between 1,- and 2,000 people according to Caroline Swalligan, the event's chair, speaking at the closing ceremonies in Twin Rocks the next afternoon.
The Community Center in Belsano, above, and Dr. Prideaux Memorial Park, left, were the main sites for Township Sesquicentennial activities.
There's talk about making a township reunion an annual or biennial event, in the tradition of the annual Vintondale reunions on Labor Day weekends, the enthusiasm for the weekend was so high. At the least, an annual softball tourney is being promoted for the Twin Rocks ballfield, which is likely to draw some former residents and considerable local interest.
My own Blacklick Township High School class of 1960 had a great reunion, despite its relative simplicity, on Friday evening, July 28. The event's keynote was fellowship, and that abounded, with surprise arrivals by two members not expected to make it, and a visit from members of the Class of 1957, the class that “initiated” the Class of '60 as freshmen and who had been holding their own reunion a few miles away. Others who attended other reunions that weekend reported similar experiences.
The township's homeowners outdid themselves by decorating and spruc-
ing up for the weekend, most of the houses and yards decorated with at
least one flag and many others display-
ing more, even lighted trees. The grass was generally mowed and efforts were apparent to make everything ship-shape.
Jackie's Mountain Manor in Twin Rocks, shown right, is an example
of the home decorating done for the Sesquicentennial.
I concentrated my attention on Belsano (where I grew up), going there just after breakfast in the Twin Rocks United Metholdist Church basement Saturday morning, fearing that staying for the parade and opening ceremonies in Twin Rocks would cut into opportunities to meet old—and new—friends, and represent the Home Page (and I had lots of setting up to do as well).
The author in front of sesquicentennial billboard in Belsano.
This apprehension seemed to be validated by the stream of visitors who stopped at my table from the opening, which Desmond Warzel invited me to set up in the memorabilia room of the Municipal Building/Community Center. I hadn't planned to bring memorabilia to the event (other than the photo and information files on my computer, which was operational for the whole time), but had pulled out everything from my high school days for the Friday night Class of 1960 reunion. That—a collection of individual school student photos from the Class of 1960 and the classes near it—turned out to be a crowd-stopper and conversation starter. Scores of residents and former ones introduced or reintroduced themselves, often with hugs.
I was amazed, as most visitors seemed to be, at the wealth of information about Township history and its families that Des Warzel had on display, mostly from his own archives but also including many loaned items from other residents and expatriots. It included photos, banners and posters, and artifacts like bottles from the Nipps Dairy and several bottling plants, both for soft drinks and beer, once produced in Twin Rocks plants. A special “loaner” item was the cradle that Belsano's famed literary figure, Malcolm Cowley, was rocked in as a baby just over a century ago, a possession of Belsano's Cleo Paul, widow of Doss Paul who was a playmate of Cowley in their boyhood days.
PHOTO, RIGHT: Desmond Warzel was the curator of memorabilia at the Belsano Community Center. Here he shows off a 1923 banner (on loan for the event) that seems proof that the former Blacklick Township High School was at one time known as Reed High School. The votech school was reportedly created by County Judge Samuel G. Reed, a Belsano resident, as a private, tuition-based enterprise. When it failed as a business, Judge Reed donated the building to the township as its public high school. Despite being geographically closer to Belsano, it has always had a Twin Rocks mailing address. BELOW: The keystone over the former Blacklick Township High School indicating the building's origin as a vocational school.
Only a few visitors took the personal home pages I was giving away at the event, but the offer was made virtually as an afterthought and intended to give a focus for the home page's presence, primarily to introduce the page and its offerings to the valley on a one-to-one basis and receive feedback, suggestions, and topics to be pursued.
A festival atmosphere prevailed throughout the weekend, with many crafts and arts on display and on sale, along with special postcards and envelopes printed and postmarked commemorating the event, and commemorative clothing items. Wonderful local food specialties from both catering professionals and local church groups (like pierogies from the Orthodox Church in Vintondale) were offered all day long.
Though there were no carnival rides, there were pony rides for the children. The four oldest surviving residents of the Township—Susan Grant, October 27, 1924; Cleo Paul, February 21, 1905; Ruth Kruper, February 22, 1909, and George Mentch, April 17, 1910, were honored and (except for Mr. Mentch who was unable to attend) interviewed at the opening ceremonies.
Door- and drawing prizes were awarded to many winners at the closing ceremonies, but everyone who attended, as best I could tell, felt they all, along with Blacklick Township as a whole, were winners for having been there. Caroline Swalligan and all the members of the committees deserve congratulations and many thanks for their hard work and dedication in bringing to pass a wonderful celebration.Event chairperson Caroline Swalligan at closing ceremony.In closing remarks, Caroline Swalligan thanked all her helpers, including her mother for sharing her with the community for the planning months before, and added that especially she wanted to thank the Lord for hearing her prayers for the generally good weather that prevailed. Ironically, less than an hour after the closing ceremony ended, a property-damaging thunderstorm struck, accompanied by hard rain and, in some quarters, hail.ABOVE RIGHT: The Twin Rocks ballpark and park, spruced up for the celebration, sustained a damaged fence in a thunderstorm that struck no more than an hour after the end of the closing ceremonies.
Souvenirs still available— click here
Additional photos: Sesqui Weekend Scrapbook Links to additional Blacklick Township pages Blacklick Township Home Page
Blacklick Township High School Class Lists
George Warholic's Blacklick Township Pages
Belsano Memories (from Jon Kennedy's growing up there, with Belsano School photo-1)
Belsano Memories (from Trudy Rummel Myers, childhood on the pig farm)
Belsano Memories (from Jon Kennedy's adolescence, writing for Mountaineer Herald-2)
Belsano memories—Halloween in the 1950's (Jon Kennedy-3)
Belsano's famous literary figure - Malcolm Cowley
Spring fever on the Kennedy farm, 1956
Views from the hamlet of Cardiff/Nettleton
The Blacklick Township Class of 1960 35th anniversary reunion photo
Blacklick Valley's most famous athlete - Bill Hartack
The 'good old days' at Blacklick Township High School, by Linda Rae Watson Silbaugh
A Death in the Family and how it forever changed our lives (Belsano crash kills three) |
A virtual hike, Vintondale to Belsano
The Belsano Job—robbery and murder on the C&I Railroad