Wishaw Culture & Events

Some perspective:

In 1906 The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years.
Only 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.
Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.
There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads.
The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents per hour.
The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at home.
Ninety percent of all U.S. doctors had no college education.

Sugar cost four cents a pound.
Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.
Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.

Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
The American flag had 45 stars.
One out of every five U.S. adults couldn't read or write.
Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.

Wishaw's Origin

Originally known as Trout Run, Wishaw was a large lumber provider settled by Scottish and English immigrants.  Today you will notice Trout Run is a local stream.
In 1901 the R & P Coal company opened their first mine, and owner Adrian Iselin named the town after an important employee; W. I. Shaw.*  This made sense considering most of the current population was Scottish, and there is a Wishaw, Scotland.
Hint:  Around our area (and in the Photo Gallery), 
look at the tops of the buildings from the early 1900's - "W. I. Shaw."

*There are a number of theories about why the name changed from Trout Run to

“One of those was that in the early 1900's mine owner Adrian Iselin named the town after a mine foreman or noted employee.  However, that may well be hearsay and conjecture as there appears to be NO concrete written record of any such person or any credible documentation that Iselin actually named the town after anyone.  [Agreed.  My research concluded the same findings.  -Phil Mennitti Jr.]

A second theory revolved around a N. Brady Street building in DuBois with the initials W.I. Shaw prominently displayed. Could the W.I. Shaw Building somehow relate to Wishaw? DuBois Historical Society secretary Gene Aravich researched the building at my request and uncovered the following obituary that reads in part:

W. I. Shaw Died Suddenly Yesterday About Noon ...at his home on North Brady street, of appendicitis.... He had been about attending to his restaurant and real estate business up until a few days ago. Few men were as well or better known in DuBois than Mr. Shaw.  He was a native of Mifflin county ... and was 62 years old. (Around 1897 he) engaged in the restaurant business in his North Brady street building. …. burial will be in the Rumbarger cemetery.

W. Shaw had NO relationship at all to the town of Wishaw. It is nothing more than a “Believe-it-or-Not” coincidence that his initials and last name on his downtown DuBois building spell out the name “Wishaw.”

When my father-in-law, Jack Tabone, a life-long resident of our beloved Wishaw, shipped overseas in WW II the troops stopped in Scotland for a short layover on their way to England and Europe.
One of the locals chatted with the American soldiers and asked Jack where he was from.  When my father-in-law said, "from a small Village in Pennsylvania I am sure you never hear of. It's named Wishaw."
The Scot answered, "Yes I have, Wishaw is right up the road."
And their Wishaw really was “right-up-the-road” in Scotland then and so it is today ... and, a former mining and then industrial center, it is much, much larger than our tiny Pennsylvania village.

        ^ Downtown Wishaw, Scotland.

The hill at the intersection of Wishaw Road and Wishaw-Panic Road where the schoolhouse stood was once known as Scots Hill. Knowing that both Scottish and then Italian immigrants came to Wishaw to work the mines, it seems most likely that the Scots brought the name “Wishaw” with them.

The Scotland connection started in 1825 when a distillery was established along the line of an ancient Roman road in largely open countryside. The little Scottish village that grew up around the distillery became known as Wishaw. The name Wishaw reportedly came from the Old English for "Willow Wood."
And so, here's to our “Willow Wood,” our Wishaw.  Long may it prosper.”

^ Submitted by Ken Williams

Wishaw Culture & Events
World War I deaths include Pard Gustabella and Reed Dickey.
The main hill at the intersection of Wishaw Rd and Wishaw-Panic Rd was known as "Scots Hill."
The Ku Klux Klan had a large "silent" presence in Wishaw directed against the Italian immigrants.  Crosses were frequently burned outside of the Blocks, and various Italian gatherings around town.  At 14 years old, Frank “Turk” Nocerini, became the catalyst in a major confrontation which lead to the calming of most public racism within town.  He read about targets of the Klan fighting back by burning circles.  Frank removed the spokes of a wagon wheel, nailed it to a phone pole and burned it one evening in protest to a burning cross at a pie social.  The location of this circle burning was where modern day Tomasura's home is beside the old Tavern.  Before Tony Veitz built his home here there was a mine foreman's quarters which was located there.  The mine foreman was a known Klansman, and he boarded teachers for the school.
1918 Wishaw had a successful Metro League Baseball team which lead to the beginning of the Federation baseball level.
"Translating" surnames was a common practice by doctors.  Dr. King, and Dr. Bowser of Reynoldsville frequently "translated" names into German and recorded them onto birth certificates.  This happened to the Vizza family, which is why several of the children carried different names.  Joe and Tony were named Veitz, and Frank was originally named Vitz.  Frank later changed his name legally to the family name of Vizza during his enlistment for World War II.

The legendary "Prince" lived in Wishaw during the 1920's.  Prince was a
beloved, highly intelligent, large, black, Chesapeake Retriever.  The children of the town loved him and took turns riding on his back. Prince would walk to town with a basket around his neck, with a grocery list inside. The grocer would fill the order and Prince would walk it home. Many times he had eggs in the basket and he walked ever-so-carefully when he had the eggs, it was obvious that he knew that he had delicate supplies.

After 1924, many homes around town began burning down.  The popular belief during those hard economic times was that the owners were intentionally burning their homes to collect the insurance money.  An example was the Santini home where the current driveway to Danny Torrell's residence is located.  Mrs. Santini ran into the burning building to save 2 of her children, all of whom perished.
Contrary to popular belief; the remains of the chimney and foundation from the home on the hillside across from Manco's Market was torn down, it was not burned down.  Those remains were removed in May 2009 by the current property owner, which is now the driveway to the Hyde's home.
1927 a cattle disease brought government officials to town without notice.  The officials executed all male cattle and left the cattle lay for the owners to bury/dispose of.
Trolley rides cost 5 cents.  The trolley drove to Reynoldsville, Wishaw, Eleanora, Big Run, and Punxsutawney.  Many of the miners were from Reynoldsville and made the commute each day by trolley.
During the 1930's Silas Buhite purchased the farm now owned by his step-son, John and Sue Horner.  The previous owners were reportedly counterfeiters who passed off their printed money at fairs.
1934 the Trolley tracks were removed and the road was paved.
1934 Frank “Turk” Nocerini became President of the Sons of Italy and retains the title to date.
During the 1930’s-50’s the Homecoming was a huge event, centered at the school and ball field.  Many tents were set up and most local women cooked and dished out meals; Rose Rinaldi, Agnes Mennitti, etc.  The food tents were along the drive bordering George Day's yard, the Beer tents were located along the far corner of the trees which was center field, and the men had Bocce ball tournaments on the field.  The events ended in the early 1970’s.

1940 Wishaw had the Champion Soccer team.

During the 1940’s Wishaw had its own Boy Scout troop lead by Frank “Turk” Nocerini for 4 years.
World War II deaths included 19 Wishaw citizens.
In World War II, Private First Class Frank Vizza earned:  The Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, European Theater Badge with 2 Battle Stars, North African Theater Badge, Combat Infantry Badge for Sharp Shooting with Wreath, and the Victory Medal.  These awards were bestowed upon Frank in 1984 after a federal review of war records.
At 38 years of age, Frank "Turk" Nocerini was drafted for World War II.  The mine supervisors deferred Franks draft.  Frank ran the company store during the war and handled the sugar rationing.  He had to travel to a town named Eckell near Kittanning to obtain the sugar, but the company went bankrupt after 6-7 months.
Dr. Fugate from Sykesville made house calls to Wishaw.  Most children born during the 40’s and 50’s were delivered by Dr. Fugate.  Phil Mennitti Sr. was born in an upstairs bedroom of the current Hyde home, formerly owned by the Stefenellis, located on the hillside of the curve.
In 1995 George and Pat Day closed their pig farm, and focus on produce and vegetables to date.
Wishaw Road

A Pool Room owned by Victor Antonnini was located between Horner’s, and Foradori/Srock’s homes.  Victor was a miner that was injured on the job and became blind in one eye.  He was compensated for his injury and used the money to open the pool hall.  The building he chose was formerly a storage shed for the general store.  The business remained open for only a few years.  Victor went bankrupt due to his kind nature over-extending credit to deadbeat miners. 
On the hill behind the Veitz/Tomasura home was a privately owned mine named the Country Bank mines.
Degeorge’s Grocery store was located along the main road where Eddie Manco's home is today.  The store operated with the mines from 1901-1926.

At the modern day location of Jude Srock's garage:  Along the main road, the Bennini home was purchased by Tony Gallow around 1912 and converted into a grocery store.  Gallow’s grocery store was converted to a Beer Garden/Dance Hall by Jimmy Gorofalo in 1926 with the mine closing.  Tony Veitz then purchased the building and opened the Wishaw Tavern, he sold the business to Johnny Fumante and Joe Zukaskis in the late 1970's, in turn they sold the business to Bob Biggie, who sold it to Pauley Caltagarone who moved the business to Reynoldsville - Falls Creek road, and ultimately sold the building back to neighbor Tony Veitz for his personal wood shop use.
A Protestant church existed at the location where the Rail Road tracks crossed the Trolley tracks.  Today this is just beside the 2 stall garage at the Manco home and across from the Chess driveway.  Most Italians were Catholic and traveled to Eleanora for masses.

The Butcher’s shop on the main curve became a Grocery store and gasoline station closing in 1989.  Some owners included:  William "Bill" Finalle, and George Manco.  It has existed more than 100 years.  Mr. Finalle commit suicide in the small storage room on the far left of the building, he was in the final stages of cancer.  Phil and Shirley Mennitti Sr. lived in the apartment portion of the building, from 1971-74, which was the room on the far right of the building and all the upstairs.
Westing & Carlson General Store was located to the right of the market/butchers and shop between Angeline Canton's home.  The General store sold mining equipment, feed, shoed horses, and sold kerosene.  In the days before plastic spouts, people would "cap" their kerosene cans using half of a potato.  Westing & Carlson were bought out by a group of investors in 1915, the store was then operated by a Notto.  Mr. Notto died during the flu outbreak, and the store closed there after.
Erma (Ghezzi) Shaffer’s home was originally the mine supervisor’s housing quarters.  The home was purchased for $500 and included 90 acres of land.
Jack and “Toots” Chess’s driveway became a gate to the cow pasture after the mines closed.  The pasture extended through Phil Mennitti Sr.’s land.
The Ghezzi home, located to the left of the mine supervisors quarters, had a fresh spring.  A small shack was built around the spring which acted as a refrigerator.  Mrs. Ghezzi made and sold cheeses, milks, and various dairy products from here.
One home further down the road from the Ghezzi's made wine.  In 1916, the horseback riding State Police were investigating a murder of a young woman.  They concluded she was killed by her love interest.  They believe he had escaped by stowing away in a wine barrel and was shipped off out of town.
The Post Office was originally located where Sandy Notto's garage currently sits.  Archie McDonald was the Post Master.  Stamps for postcards cost 1 cent, and letters cost 2 cents.  The vacant lot across from the remains of Manco’s Market was the second location of the Post Office.  This Postmaster was John Webb, who had a picture of Wishaw, Scotland inside.  The Post Office merged with the Reynoldsville Postal system in the 1940’s.
Siple's Upholstery is located at the intersection of Wishaw-Panic Rd and Eleanora Rd.  The establishment has been in business for several decades and is still operated to date.
Art Bussoletti owned a barbershop across the street from modern day Siple's Upholstery.
2004 the 9-1-1 system updated.  Instead of Wishaw addresses being R.D. #3 with a box number, each home was given an address on Wishaw Road, Panic-Wishaw Road, or Geno Road named by Tony Torrell in honor of Eugene Mennitti.
In the summer of 1990, cable television finally came to Wishaw.  Before this, residents had to use antennas on the roof of their homes paired with rotors.  A rotor was a box with a dial near the television which would mechanically turn the antenna outside for better reception.  The only channels viewable in Wishaw by antenna were 3 PBS, 6 NBC, and 10 CBS, none of which were a clear picture and usually faded in and out of color. 
At the intersection of Wishaw Rd, and Panic-Wishaw Rd, is the former location of the Wishaw School House.  The remains of the out-houses still stand along the tree line.  Frank "Turk" Nocerini retains the deed on behalf of the Sportsman's Club.
Adjacent to the intersection of Wishaw Rd, and Panic-Wishaw Rd, the flat vacant lot beside George Day's home is the former baseball field.

 Current Businesses

Siple's Upholstery- Harry Siple
Day's Greenhouse- George and Patt Day
Horner Taxidermy- Bob Horner
Torrell Corral- Gina Torrell
Jazz Katt Productions- Al Lockwood
Willow Web Design- Ken Williams
Weber's Candle Shoppe- Tracy Weber
White Birch Associates- Kelly Williams