July 3, 2011

A Stained Glass Window in Brownsville, Pennsylvania




      … at dawn on May 28, 1754, a Mingo Indian named Tanaghrisson who had agreed to scout for Washington spotted a French patrol stalking Washington’s men. Tanaghrisson showed Washington how to surprise the French; in the ensuing attack the French commander Jumonville was killed.

   That the French would retaliate was obvious, and Washington’s men retreated to Great Meadows, PA, where, against the advice of their Indian guides, they hastily threw up a stockade, nicknamed Necessity.** George Washington’s ally, Seneca chief Tanacharison-also known as The Half King…When referring to the fort…said Washington “made no Fortifications at all, but that little thing upon the Meadow.”*

     The Indians, disgusted, abandoned Washington and his small contingent of Virginia militiamen. Sure enough, the French outnumbered him and took the fort easily on July 4, 1754.**


     I’ve discovered that genealogists and historians around the world are a great resource in researching material for a book, newspaper article, journal article, genealogy, etc. This proved all too true when I traveled to Brownsville, Pennsylvania, recently.

     Not long ago my husband Monte and I went to the first annual Market Street Arts Festival in downtown Brownsville, Pennsylvania. My goal was to clear up some foggy points I had in my writing about French emigrants brought to the United States bythe Scioto Associates. The French emigrants trekked from Alexandria, Virginia, to Gallipolis, Ohio. They traveled along Braddock’s Trail from Cumberland, Maryland, to Uniontown (then Beesontown), before continuing to Redstone Old Fort (now Brownsville) on Burd’s Trail. Both trails followed the Nemacolin Indian Trail to the Monongahela River near the confluence of Redstone Creek (then Nemacolin Creek).

     The information I sought is background for a historic romance novel I’m writing. I was able to resolve several issues while in Brownsville, with the help of persons at the historical society and Norma Ryan, who manned a booth in the eating and entertainment area of the Festival.

     Shortly after my return home Norma sent me an e-mail: It was great meeting you at the first annual Market Street Arts Festival in downtown Brownsville.  I do hope your experience was pleasant.  As always we welcome suggestions and comments to it make the event better next year.

     That continued my conversations with Norma, now happening via e-mail. Norma mentioned in one e-mail that There is also a wonderful stained glass window in the historic Church of St Peter that shows the French Chaplain having a religious service for the soldiers and Indians in 1754 when they were enroute to battle Geo. Washington in Fort Necessity near Uniontown. So much history here. Be happy to help you.

     The attack at Fort Necessity was in my writing, so I immediately replied: I wonder—would one of your local addicted-to-clicking-camera shutterbugs be willing to take a photo of that stained glass window for me, and e-mail it to me with his/her name (I give credit for any photos someone sends me). No hurry. I’m preparing a power point presentation on my novel and illustrations are great.

     I also asked for further information on the window, which Norma quickly supplied: The stained glass was installed in our church in 1936 when Fr. Brennan had the church restored to its original stone structure. At that time, there was rumor that the church may be demolished due to the needed repairs inside of the building. The plastered walls had cracked and were in disrepair. It was depression time when Fr Brennan came to Brownsville. He was able to convince the Diocese that he had talent in the church…The Diocese agreed to his terms to send the food and materials and the women would cook and the men would do the work and it worked very well. They stated that often there were so many men who came to eat and help that they ran out of work for them to do…They removed all the plaster and took the walls back to the original stone walls and built new pews etc etc. At that time Fr. Brennan did a lot of research and wrote a book about the rich history of the church and some about the town.

The stained glass windows that had previously been of saints (as in most Catholic churches) were now replaced with a story to be told. Each window has the coat of arms of the popes on the top panel of the side stained windows and the bottom panel has the coat of arms of the bishops and I believe it this goes back to the 1700’s. The western window is the French chaplain having a religious service (this window also have the animals and trees of the region at the time)…the window was installed in 1936 and paid for by the Catholic Daughters of America at a cost of $1200.00

     The pictures were soon e-mailed to me by Brianne Bayer Mitchell, a young mother who had never looked at that particular window until I requested the photograph. It is in the back of the church above the choir loft, she told me, and she just never looked up there.

She was happy I made my request so she could make the discovery. She also e-mailed Norma: Thanks for the opportunity, Norma! You’re the best!

      I’ve encountered this Thanks for the opportunity attitude repeatedly in doing my genealogy and historical research. It’s such an uplifting experience to know that not only my almost-next-door- neighbors, but people across the United States, and in Australia, Sweden, the Netherlands—people all over the earth are not only willing but happy to help if you only offer them the opportunity. And I am so appreciative of that attitude. As a result I have photographs not only of the stained glass window, but of the le Procope Café in Paris (also to be a scene my my novel). I also have unique documents from the early 1800s British Guiana (where one of my characters ends up on a plantation). All this material is supportive of my writing.

     My only hope is that I will support others, as needed, by passing forward the favors they have done for.






The Market Street Arts Festival in Brownsville, PA.

Seeking History in Brownsville (Redstone), Pennsylvania

Tourism in Brownsville, Pennsylvania

Flatboats: A Major Business in 1700s Redstone, Pennsylvania

Writing About a 1790 Journey to Ohio


  1. Beautiful stain glass with so much history. Interesting how we are not observant of our surroundings. Its refreshing in this day and age to be helped by a stranger. Wonderful positive story.

    Comment by pat polcyn — July 4, 2011 @ 1:28 pm | Reply

    • Thanks Pat, I knew you would enjoy this post and the picture.

      Comment by carolyncholland — July 4, 2011 @ 4:59 pm | Reply

  2. Love the picture! I was the Director of Music at this parish for almost 5 years, so I got to sit up close to this window in the loft to play the organ. 🙂

    Comment by Heather Hall — December 1, 2012 @ 8:53 pm | Reply

    • Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to visit the church, and it is only through the willingness of someone in the area to take a picture for me that I have even seen it. Someday I hope to visit the church.
      Thank you for commenting. Carolyn

      Comment by carolyncholland — December 1, 2012 @ 9:27 pm | Reply

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