Click Here to Return to Index
Click Here to Return to Milestones
Good Evening. Sunday night April 22, 1951. Ray Sprigle talking, just yesterday afternoon I sat in the pleasant living room of a gracious lady here in Beaver Falls. I can't say that we chatted because unfortunately my hostess was deaf. But inevitably I talked as I am given to doing, under any and all circumstances. She just smiled. Taken by itself, the visit was just another not too eventful incident in the daily routine of a newspaperman.
But actually and upon reflection, that brief incident, that short visit, became a dramatic and striking episode. This was because the lady whom I visited Saturday, Mrs. Ella Veon nee Courtney of Darlington was born January 14, 1848 and is now in her one hundred and fourth year. Mrs. Veon is not the only Beaver County resident whose span of life has passed the century mark. Six months older than Mrs. Veon, Dorothea Brandenberg, North Sewickley Township, is also in her one hundred and fourth year. All of you must have read of both these ladies at intervals in the past five years. Each is a story of more than passing interest and each year the mere fact that they are living becomes increasingly newsworthy.
I wonder if there comes to you listeners, as it does to me, the realization that here in the persons of these two Beaver County women is recorded in flesh and blood the whole history of the United States of America. When these ladies were born the Revolutionary War had ended just 66 years before. Reflect that in Pennsylvania that there were still scores of people who as children witnessed the end of the struggle to free this nation. Only 62 years before the birth of our centarians, General Mad Anthony Wayne had freed Western Pennsylvania from the menace of Indian massacre at the battle of Fallen Timbers on the Maumee. Fourteen years before these babes prattled in their cribs, American soldiers were again victorious over the finest legions of the British Empire-the War of 1812. When these ladies were close to a year old, the battle harden veterans of the Mexican War came back to Beaver County after having written another glorious page in American history at Chapultapec and Vera Cruz. They were girls of 13 and 14 when the North and South locked in bloody conflict and 17 and 18 when it ended. They read Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and witnessed his passing under the treacherous bullet of an assassin.
Ella Veon and Dorothea Brandenberger were well down the sunset side of the vale of life, when Dewey sank the Spanish fleet at Manilla and the young and strong nation of the West smashed the ancient power of Spain in the new world. They were still living when MacArthur smashed the power of another and greater empire in the bloody shambles of Leyte and Minandao and Manila.
And these two Beaver County girls had reached the Biblical span of life for humankind - three score years and ten when once more the youth of America were hurled into battle. This time in World War One. This time to make the world safe for Democracy. Do you suppose they ask themselves now - where in all the world, is Democracy safe today?
Life has not yet finished with these two children of our Valley. At 93 and 94, they watched the flags go by, leading Beaver County boys to death in far lands beyond the seas - in the stinking swamps of Pellileiu and the bloody hedgerows of Normandy - World War Two.
Ella Veon, she that was so many years ago, Ella Courtney, and Dorothea Brandenberger, she that in her youth was Dorothea Ketterer, were farmers daughters and farmers wives on the fertile soil of the Beaver Valley. They and their fathers before them and their sons and daughters after them are of the breed that has built America. For a hundred years they tilled the soil to feed a growing nation. Now the children and the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren are in the arts and the professions and in industry. So America lives and so America grows.
You know, often in these Sunday night broadcasts when I have talked about almost forgotten days and events in our valley I have thought sometimes - that after all the past is gone - and even its memories are almost forgotten - and who wants to hear about dead and ancient days.
Well, never again will I so doubt. Why, there is nothing ancient, nothing old, in this youthful country of ours. Dorothea Brandenberger and Ella Veon are living proof of that. Why our nation was born only a single life span before they were citizens of Beaver County. They themselves with their own eyes have watched the march of history across a full century - ten decades - a hundred years. And, now they are in their second century.
So, from now on - whatever I talk about in our valley's past - It was only yesterday.
There's much of repetition in these brief weekly messages of mine in discussion of the First National Bank at Beaver Falls.
But I feel that there's no need of any apology for this constant repetition. Because until every businessman in the valley uses to their fullest extent, the manifold resources afforded him by his bank - and until every family in the valley has a savings account for every member - I have not succeeded in getting my message across to my listeners.
First National at Beaver Falls offers every commercial and industrial enterprise in the valley so broad an assortment of services - commercial accounts, various forms of credits, methods of transferring funds, information and advice on commercial and business topics, that until every businessman has discussed with the officers and staff of the bank, the services it is prepared to render, he just does not know what modern banking service means to him and his business.
Drop in, anytime, talk it over - and learn how your bank can serve you.
Thank you - and good night.