12/1/49 - EARLY HISTORY OF SALTSBURG, by courtesy of Howard Ansley BY-WAYS - 12/1/49 - EARLY HISTORY OF SALTSBURG, by courtesy of Howard Ansley - November 26, 1949. -

The following snatches of early Saltsburg history are taken from Mr. Ansley's typed copies of this history, as recorded in the Indiana Progress, June, 1916. He was gracious enough to send me a full set to keep, trusting me to pass the best of it on to you. In 1916 you young whipper-snappers were not yet born, and the rest of us are either approaching or have already entered our second childhood. So we of the latter class do not mind a repetition of this bit of history so dear to our hearts. I think that all of us are interested in the origin of proper names; we learned recently how Cherry Tree and Purchase Line got their names; haven't you wondered about 'Blacklick'? I am guessing at part of this, suspecting that the 'black' part comes from the many veins of coal ending in exposed black shale on a hillside. Now I have learned from this story that the 'lick' part comes from the oozing of salt water through fissures of rock. Deer and other animals came to these places for drinking water and to lick the deposits of salt on the rocks. The salt in the water was barely perceptible to human taste. Many an unsuspecting deer became easy prey to an armed sportsman, hiding in a neighboring tree, and "watching the lick." About the year 1812 or '13 an old lady named "Deemer" discovered an oozing of salt water at low water mark on the Indiana side of Conemaugh River, about two miles above the present site of Saltsburg. (I just wonder if this nice old lady with a normal woman's curiosity might be a great-great-great-great-grandmother of Merle's. And if so, he can tell his son, John Wesley, that Columbus may have discovered the bright sand of San Salvador, that the Pilgrims may have discovered Plymouth Rock, but that John's own ancester found the salt that give Saltsburg its name). This discovery led to the development of one of the most important business interests in the country. The same year that Mrs. Deemer tried out the new-found salt water in cooking mush, an enterprising young man from Franklin County, William Johnston, commenced boring a well at the magic spot. (Perhaps he was the original "Man Who Came to Dinner"). This boring was done by tramp or treadle, the poles being connected with an open mortise and tongue and fastened with little bolts. At a depth of 287 feet, young Johnston found an abundance of salt water. The salt was manufactured by boiling the water in large kettles, using wood for fuel until, in the opening of additional wells, the wood from 50 or 60 aces of wood land had been consumed. At first the pumping was done by blind horses. (Which seems like a cruel deception. These poor horses must have told their colts and fillies how monotonous was the road to Jericho, or Bagdad, or wherever they thought they were going). Production increased to the point (with many competitors) where salt came down from $5.00 per bushel to $1.00 per barrel. This was too low (with no government subsidy in those days) and many wells were abandoned. With others the 'salt' had lost its savor. At last, a price was fixed at $2.00 per barrel, which afforded a fair profit. Soon, great pans, 20 feet by 10 or 11 feet, by 8 inches high, took the place of the old-fashioned kettles, and the steam engine replaced the blind horses. The place was called the Great Conemaugh Salt Works. It was located at what was known as White Station in 1916, and now called Mooween. (And now, pray, will someone tell us how "Mooween" got its name?) *****

I trust you all had a lovely Thanksgiving, and that you found an abundance to be thankful for. We had all our children home for the day, with our beloved pastor sitting in and gnawing on a turkey wing with us - after having had a feast of his own at the home of wealthy members of his flock. Mother Taylor and all the rest of the relatives joined us in the evening for a songfest and games and fun. Life seems very sweet. Until next week and a delightful bit of history by the beloved late J.C. Moore, I am,

Ever yours,
Florence B. Taylor
2907 Hampshire Rd.,
Cleveland Hts. 18, O.

Next - 12/8/49 - No Column this week - Sick Grandchild
BY-WAYS Table of Contents