WPXI Story About Monongahela African American Soldiers Who Served In The Civil War

Capt. William Catlin
Capt. William Catlin

Several folks asked how can view the story WPXI produced about the Ravioli sale sponsored by the Monongahela Main Street Program and Bethel AME church. Proceeds will pay for a historical marker to honor African American soldiers from Monongahela who fought for the United States in the civil war. What makes story unique is that this may be the first time in US history that African American soldiers went into battle under African American officers. Click here to read the story watch the video.

Monongahela Chess Park Greeting Cards Now Available

Chess Park greeting cards are now available!


Each card is 5 1/2″ x 4 1/4″ with a winter scene of Chess Park in Monongahela Pennsylvania on the front. The reverse includes a short history of Chess Park and the two churches in the background. The interior of the card is blank so it can serve year round as a thank you card, a sympathy card, a Christmas card or a general note card that you can use to show your pride in our home town.

Each package of 10 cards and envelopes costs $10 and comes attractively packaged in a clear plastic box with a decorative gold cord making it ready to go as the perfect stocking stuffer or gift! Cards are now on sale at:

Autumn Antiquities And Curiosities – 234 West Main Street, Monongahela PA. Open Wednesdays, Thursdays  and Fridays 11:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m and Saturdays 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Phone 724-292-8222. Both cash and credit cards accepted.

Little City Coffee – 418 West Main Street, Monongahela PA. Phone 724-258-6285. Open Monday through Thursday 8:00 a.m. to  7:00 p.m., Friday 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Closed Sunday. Both cash and credit cards accepted.

**UPDATE 12/17/2015**

Chess Park cards are now available at Joe Fida’s Auto Plate service!

We can also ship the cards to you via mail. Shipping cost is a flat $3.50 no matter how many cards you order. For more information about having your order shipped just send an email to Dan at lostmonongahela@gmail.com with your name, address and phone number and the number of boxes you want.

All proceeds go to the Monongahela Main Street Program which is being formed to revitalize main street Monongahela through historic preservation.

Transfiguration Church, Monongahela PA, Diamond Jubilee Publication 1940 Freely Available Online

Yesterday’s post, Transfiguration Church Through The Years, with 282 views in 24 hours was a pretty popular one. Nothing in that post would have been possible without coming across a physical copy of the Diamond Jubilee publication. It got me thinking, how would I have been able to write such a detailed post about the church’s history without it?


I had stumbled across this amazingly well written resource purely by accident. In addition to church history it has a great section about the history of the Monongahela. It would be one of the first publications that I would recommend to somebody interested in local history.

Continue reading

Transfiguration Church Through The Years

Anybody living in the Monongahela area is familiar with the beautiful Transfiguration church (now named St. Damien of Molokai) located on West Main Street.  I knew that an earlier church building once stood on this site but I never had seen any pictures of it so I was thrilled to discover this photo of the original structure.

(The black and white photographs in this post and the quotes below were found in the Transfiguration Church Diamond Jubilee booklet of 1940. Click the images to zoom and view a larger version of each photograph.)

The construction of the ‘Old Church” began with the laying of the cornerstone on a rainy Friday, August 10, 1865: Continue reading

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Monongahela PA – Then and Now

I came across an old post card showing St. Paul’s church as it appeared years ago when it still had a steeple. It’s always interesting to compare how things change over the years so here is a photograph of the church taken in 2010:

St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Monongahela PA
St. Paul Episcopal Church, Monongahela PA March 2010

And here is how the church appeared on a postcard with a 1909 postmark:

St. Paul's Church, Monongahela PA circa 1909
St. Paul's Church, Monongahela PA circa 1909

The the first thing that grabs your attention are the vines! My gosh, the place looks abandoned. Who would have guessed that the church was actually flourishing under the leadership of Rev. John Palmer Norman, M.D.  In fact the Historical magazine of Monongahela’s old home coming week: Sept. 6-13, 1908 refers to the church affectionately as the  “… ‘ivy walled’ St. Paul’s…” and since St. Pauls is an Episcopal church my guess is that Rev. Norman felt that the ivy gave it the appearance of Anglican churches back in England. According to the blog created to celebrate St. Paul’s 150th anniversary:

Norman was very keen to connect St. Paul’s to its Anglican roots and so started many English-themed organizations and events, including soccer and cricket teams.

At the time, Monongahela was being flooded with immigrants due to the booming coal industry and I’m sure St. Paul’s would have been a comforting sight to somebody arriving here from England.

Rev. John Palmer Morgan, M.D.
The Rev. John Palmer Morgan, M.D.

Another thing I noticed from the postcard is how the steeple had developed a severe tilt. This tilt is apparent in other photographs at the time and eventually the steeple was torn down. According to the history section over at the Monongahela United Methodist Church website:

In 1925, a brick fell from the tower [of the Methodist church]. The Catholic church steeple had just been destroyed by lightning about the same year, and the steeple of St. Paul’s Episcopal, which had been leaning for years, had just been removed.

Now this is pure speculation on my part but I bet the congregation of St. Paul’s waited until after Dr. Norman’s retirement before tearing it down. I bet it would have broken his heart to witness its removal. (Rev. Norman retired in 1918 and moved to Cochranton Pa. where he passed away in 1923 at the age of 83 after serving at the church for 40 years.) It would have cost a tremendous amount to either repair or replace the steeple so removal would have been the most economical thing to do. It’s just a shame that they didn’t keep gables on the tower roof to give the tower a finished appearance. My guess is that the roof valleys at the base of the steeple failed and rotted the rafters.

Just a few other observations:

  • Notice how similar the old and new lamp posts are. Kudos to whoever chose the new design when the sidewalks were replaced and electrical lines buried years ago. (just wish they would turn down the wattage – too much glare when you drive through town)
  • Notice how the old steps have been removed and replaced. The building had a more elegant appearance with the old steps and its gently sloping yard. The new steps however are much more accessible with a wheelchair ramp on the left side.
  • It’s a shame those trees are in the way. I wish I could have seen the building to the left of the church!

And finally, an aerial picture of the church and its surroundings:

St. Paul's Episcopal Church from above. Monongahela PA

Visit the St. Paul’s church website for information about church activities and to view pictures of the interior.

Transfiguration Parish, Monongahela, PA. Then and Now

Transfiguration Parish Postcard Dated August 1912, Monongahela PA
Transfiguration Parish Postcard Dated August 1912, Monongahela PA
Transfiguration Parish, Monongahela PA February 2010
Transfiguration Parish, Monongahela PA February 2010

Although the top picture is postmarked August 1912, the original photograph was probably made several years earlier. It’s interesting to compare the difference 100 years makes. Most obvious is the loss of the steeples to the church, and replacement of those terrific porches on the church rectory to the right.

Notice too the complete disappearance of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church right next door! It’s funny because the Bethel A.M.E. Church was built in 1871, and the Transfiguration Parish church building wasn’t dedicated until February 23, 1908. It does make for a prettier picture with parkland in the distance though.

Here is a scan of the reverse of the post card shown above:

Transfiguration Parish Church Postcard Reverse
Transfiguration Parish Church Postcard Reverse
Transfiguration Church Illustration
Transfiguration Church Illustration circa 1908

Above is the illustration of Transfiguration Parish Church you will find in The Historical Magazine of Monongahela’s Old Home Coming Week. Sept. 6-13, 1908. (click to read more about the history of Transfiguration Parish) I am assuming that a photograph of the completed church wasn’t available at the time the book was printed.

Have any thoughts or pictures of Transfiguration Parish that you would like to share? If so, leave a comment!