George and William Chatterton, “Mayhem” and “Agg.A&B”, 17 June 1936

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Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Henry Waters Hartman founded a new town to the south of New Castle, purchasing acres of farm land to parcel up and sell as sites for factories and housing developments. Isaac Ellwood, an industrialist who had grown rich from barbed wire, supplied the initial investment, as well as a name for the town.

Ellwod City’s grand future never materialised. In its early years, Hartman and Ellwood boosted the town’s prospects as they tried to convince industries to settle in the valley. The town had better railroad facilities than any town in western Pennsylvania, they said, and it had more valuable mineral products than could be found in any other one place. Dozens of new factories were due to open, they claimed, bringing with them thousands of workers. Their advertisements urged, “Buy now! Don’t wait a year until the town is four times as large and value proportionately higher!”

By the turn of the century, only two thousand people had come to Ellwood City. A handful of manufacturing concerns had opened up, but the town was never to live up to its ostentatious name.

In 1936, when George and William Chatterton were arrested for aggravated assault, the population was close to its peak of twelve thousand. The town had no court house so, like all Ellwood City lawbreakers, the brothers were dealt with in New Castle.

The 17th of June had been the hottest day of the year and had culminated in an electric storm with gales that tore down trees and lightning that flashed along overhead power lines, throwing off fire balls in all directions. At half past seven that night, George Chatterton went to the Ellwood City police station to tell them to come out and arrest a man named Adam Klink, who had hit him in the jaw. He was drunk, and the police refused to do anything until he had made out an information at a squire’s office.

George went to meet his brother, William, who accompanied him to Frank Rocco’s saloon on Lawrence street, where they attacked Adam Klink.

During the scuffle, William’s attention was attracted by something that was said by Walter Shinsky, a customer who was sitting at a nearby booth. William went over to the booth and glowered at Shinksy. Shinsky got to his feet and William struck him. Further blows were exchanged, and George came to William’s aid. Shinsky was beaten to the floor and George fell upon him, biting his chin. Other customers separated them, and everyone who was involved in the fight was thrown out of the bar.

In the street, Shinksy was knocked down again. William jumped on him and bit off his lower lip, which was left attached by only a shred of skin.

The police broke up the brawl. William and George were arrested and Shinsky was taken to the hospital, where his lip was stitched back in place. He was left with scars which he was able to display to the jury in New Castle court house three months later, when the Chatterton brothers were found guilty—George of assault and battery and William of mayhem. George was given a $50 fine and four months in the county jail; William a $100 fine and one to two years in the Western penitentiary. There is no further record of either brother.

Sources: New Castle News (27 July 1892, Ellwood City advertisement; 18 June 1936, “Police Arrest Three In Brawl”, “Pa Newc Observes”; 23 Sep 1936, “Shinsky Says Lip Bitten In Fight”; 25 Sep 1929, “Two Chattertons Are Found Guilty”; 3 Oct 1936, “Drunken Drivers Given Jail Terms”)

2 Comments

  1. Johnny says

    I guess William took the phrase, ‘I take no Lip’ pretty damn seriously.

    As always, great website. This flash back of Americana makes me wish other small towns had a similar website dedicated to lawbreakers.

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