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The adventure below is the latest in a series sharing my quest to explore Pennsylvania by visiting each of the sixty-seven county seats and eating a hot dog while in town.

The next stop on this Selfie-Quest is Lawrence County located on the border of Ohio between Beaver, Butler and Mercer Counties. Lawrence County was part of Beaver and Mercer counties when it was created on March 20, 1849. The record suggests that New Castle was growing so fast it was spreading from Mercer County into Beaver County and the rule at the time was that no town could be located in two counties. (I made that up!) The county was named after Oliver Hazard Perry’s flagship during the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812 (USS Lawrence). New Castles  The ship was named after James Lawrence who’s last command aboard the USS Chesapeake in an earlier battle was, “Don’t give up the ship.” These guys where good at making historic statements. After he won the battle of Lake Erie Perry’s message was, in part, “We have met the enemy and they are ours…”. I am only guessing but I believe we will hear more about Oliver when we visit Erie County. I’ll bet you can’t wait!!

The first stop in New Castle was Coney Island which has been on this spot since 1923. New Castle11  The hot dog joint is on a square downtown oppositie a Civil War Memorial. New Castle12  Cindy recommended “Number One with Everything” and fries drowning in gravy. New Castle5  Be still my heart! I know I had fun because there was food all over my hands! Zane has been cooking at Coney Island for a year. New Castle15New Castle14  He and Cindy arrived at about the same time and were both good sports. I asked the two of them where I might get a photo that depicts New Castle’s motto “Hot Dog City USA”. They both grinned and pointed to their hats! New Castle is also known as “Fireworks City USA”.

New Castle6  The stop at the County Seat was only a couple blocks away and then I headed south to Ellwood City for sentimental reasons. My Grandfather Gobrecht was pastor of a church in Ellwood City and my family visit the area many times. My sister Linda was born here. New Castle7 She doesn’t remember much about this event so I took a picture of what I guess was the Ellwood City hospital. At least the corner stone is dated pre-Linda’s birth and is attached to a new hospital building.

Finding our grandfather’s church proved to be more difficult. There was no Evengelical and Reformed Church or United Church of Christ to be found on my GPS in New Castle. I couldn’t just drive around looking for a church building that looked like the one in my memory. Well, I could have done that but didn’t want to. Fortunately, I found the fire station and Justin. New Castle8  My first thought was, “Oh no, he is too young to be any help in this search.” Of course, he didn’t remember my grandfather or the church. But, Justin is a very knowledgeable young firefighter. He began to go through the files in his brain and came up with four brick church buildings in town. After locating each one in his mind he wrote the addresses down for me. After he had given me the information he said, “Whew, that was a tough test.” (Or something like that.) Justin was a great help. I left the fire station and began exploring New Castle. After I had taken the pictures of the church buildings I sent them to my other sister (the one born in Kittanning) for her expert opinion. She had a torn retina and could only see out of one eye at the time. But, we put our three eyes together and guessed. Our guess was that this was the church where our grandfather was pastor. New Castle2      I have been trying to contact my uncle-our grandfather’s son- who would be a better source, maybe, because he grew up in New Castle. However, he is retired and impossible to find at home. He does have a cell phone but only turns it on when he uses it. So, some time later in another chapter of this quest we might learn more about the mystery of our grandfather’s church. Probably about the same time we are learning more about Oliver Hazard Perry. I’m guessing, you can’t wait! 

On my way out of the county I stopped at one of My Jane’s favorite shopping venues. New Castle4 Volant is a little community full of great shopping. We might still be there if My Jane had been along on this trip. But, I’m only guessing.

See you next time.

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