William Jaynes, “Attempted B & E”, 11 September 1939

comments 11

William Jaynes

There is no record of which property William Jaynes was attempting to break into when he was arrested on the eleventh of September, 1939. He got thirty days in jail.

William worked in Johnson Bronze. His wife died of a heart attack in 1953, at the age of thirty-seven. They had no children. He got a job cutting hair at the Lawrence County home for the aged. After a while, he went to work in the Castle restaurant in Youngstown, Ohio.

In 1968, when he was fifty-five, he went back to New Castle to visit his aunts for Christmas. He got a room in the Fountain Inn, a run-down place that had stood on the Diamond since before the civil war and had been known for a spell in the twenties as the best hotel in west Pennsylvania. On Christmas eve, a fire broke out. There were five residents in the hotel’s two hundred rooms. Three died, including William, whose body was found in the ruins a week later. It was the third major fire on East Washington street that winter, and the second antiquated hotel to go up in flames that year. There was talk of arson, but the inquest ruled the deaths accidental.

Six years after the fire, William’s aunts wrote a poem, which they posted in the memorial column of the New Castle News.

“Quickly and suddenly came the call,
His sudden death surprised us all.
It was a bitter grief, a shock severe,
To part with one we loved so dear.

“They say time heals all sorrows and
Helps one to forget,
But time so far has only proved
How much we miss him yet.”

Sources: New Castle News (3 September 1918, “Two Divorces Are Granted”; 2 May 1934, “Engagement News”; 10 August 1934, “Oliphant-Jaynes”; 18 August 1953, “Deaths Of The Day”; 30 September 1939, “Sentence Three For Robbery Here”; 24 December 1968, “Fire Sweeps Fountain Inn”; 2 January 1969, “Body Is Found At Fire Scene”; 21 January 1969, “Fires Claimed 5 Lives”; 24 December 1974, “In Memoriams”).


  1. Jake says

    Love these – keep up the great work. Just out of curiosity, why does the headline say “Fire Claimed 5 Lives” when your retelling has only three?

    • Hi Jake – thanks for writing, and double thanks for the compliment. The headline actually says “Fires”, plural. The story was about the series of likely arson incidents that destroyed old, run-down buildings in the middle of town – three died in the Fountain Inn fire and two died in the others. The loss of life is tragic, obviously, but the loss of those great old hotels was pretty bad news, too.

  2. Deborah Hatchell says

    Hi Diarmid – Many thanks for all of your time and efforts to write such a cool blog. It is so much fun to read these articles (is that what you call them), and get a flavor of the history of New Castle. We’ve only been here in New Castle for 1 year, but we really love it (note to all New Castle haters: go live in California and you’ll be back here quickly saying, ‘it’s good to be home’). Your historical blog has added to our growing affection for the area.

    I love how you weave in information about landmarks, like the Fountain Inn…your article prompted me to search more…and I found this link on the Lawrence County Memoirs page: http://www.lawrencecountymemoirs.com/lcmpages/413/fountain-inn-new-castle-pa

    • Thanks Deborah. Yes, the Fountain Inn was quite something, wasn’t it? It’s great to hear you’re enjoying living in New Castle. I think it’s a great place, too, and I haven’t even been to California…

  3. Steve says

    Thanks for the tiny vignette of one man’s life. The poem was a nice addition to the back story to remind us of the impact of one person’s life. You’ve kept him from disappearing completely.

    • Thanks Steve. You can imagine how pleased I was to find the poem about him. It’s a lovely thing.

  4. Anton says

    Diarmid, the stuff you put online is priceless. I just discovered The Unsung Joe, an incredible goldmine of unique classic film discoveries, including characters I’ve wondered about myself, and it soon lead me to this blog. Wow. You have my sincere respect for sharing all this stuff. Keep it up, mate. Anton

    • Thanks so much, Anton. I’ve been meaning to do more on The Unsung Joe but New Castle has sort of swallowed me up. What I need to find is a bit-part actor in a film noir who turns out to be from New Castle – that would be perfect!

      • Deborah Hatchell says

        LOL!!! Yes, that would be perfect! Maybe connected to the Warner Brother’s first theatre here in NC. 🙂

      • Anton says

        “What I need to find is a bit-part actor in a film noir who turns out to be from New Castle – that would be perfect!”

        Some of them look the part, that’s for sure!

  5. Mario E Perkins says

    I know its late, but there’s a few guys here I know, who have been in movies, and are born and raised here, and if u can’t tell from the stories here, “We are the Part”. I luv New Castle, born and raised on the West Side, neva leaving.

Leave a Reply to Diarmid Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s