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Sewickley Photos

Signals, May 2016

The first photograph, a rather familiar one from the Society’s Bicentennial collection, shows the transport of one of four 10-inch Rodman cannon, which were emplaced by the statue of “Fame” in Sewickley Cemetery in 1906. The cannon weighed 15,000 pounds each, and it was a challenge for the town’s waggoner, Mr. D. W. Challis, to move them one by one from the train station to the Cemetery. The seldom seen second photograph shows the entire procession on Broad Street that day, about to cross Beaver Street. Note the position of the sole automobile in the photograph, indicating that the first picture is in fact the second taken. Incidentally, the cannon are no longer located at the Cemetery, having been donated to a scrap metal drive during World War II.

This fascinating World War I artifact was found among the effects of Albert Fraser Keister, Harton Semple’s maternal grandfather, who served at a wireless station in France with the Navy. It is a piece of aluminum, 2” x 2”, from the wreckage of the plane of Quentin Roosevelt (1897- 1918), Theodore Roosevelt’s youngest son, who was shot down and killed behind German lines in France near the town of Chamery on July 14, 1918, during the second battle of the Marne. Roosevelt, flying a Nieuport 28, was engaged in aerial combat with several German planes. Two machine gun bullets struck him in the head. He was buried by the Germans with military honors next to the wreckage of his plane. They were impressed that a former President’s son died on active duty. Placed on the grave were the propeller of his aircraft and the wheels. On July 18, the Allies captured the ground, and Roosevelt’s grave became a shrine. It is said Theodore Roosevelt never recovered from the loss, and he died a few months later.

Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, Commander of the 94th Aero Squadron, said of Quentin: “Everyone who met him for the first time expected him to have the air and superciliousness of a spoiled boy. This notion was quickly lost after the first glimpse one had of Quentin, gay, hearty and absolutely square in everything he said and did. He was reckless to such a degree that his commanding officer had to warn him repeatedly about the senselessness of his lack of caution. His bravery was so notorious that we all knew he would either achieve some great spectacular success or be killed in the attempt. He was one of the most popular fellows in the group.”

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