George Wheale was innocent. He was picked up on Long avenue after a report that the window of the state liquor store had been smashed, and was released after police discovered that the damage had been done by a wheel that had somehow come off a car. The possibility of the arrest resulting from a police officer mishearing “a wheel” as “George Wheale” is entertaining, but unlikely.
George worked for Standard Steel Spring, part of a conglomerate that was owned by a millionaire whose family had come over on the Mayflower. George’s family had also arrived on a boat from England, but they made the crossing three hundred years later, bound for the new factories that were multiplying in New Castle at the end of the nineteenth century. One died of heat stroke working in a steel and tin plate plant only a few years before George was born.
By the 1940s, the descendants of those later immigrants included Dangerfields, Alicks, Manns, Hahns, Groucutts and Mrozeks. They started holding annual reunions, sometimes in Cascade park, sometimes in Gaston park, with basket picnics and games and awards for largest family, longest distance travelled and oldest and youngest family members. The sixteenth one was scheduled for a Sunday afternoon in July 1957 but was cancelled on the Friday. George, who had been ill for three months, had died in hospital and they had to have a funeral instead. He was fifty-four years old.
The reunion went ahead a couple of weeks later. A short report in the local paper recorded that it went pretty well.
Sources: New Castle News (9 July 1937, “News Briefs From City Hall”; 26 July 1957, “Wheale Reunion Cancelled”; 8 Aug 1957, “Wheale Family Has Sixteenth Reunion”); The Evening Standard, Uniontown, PA, 4 September 1975, “Willard F Rockwell Jr…At 61, The Molder Of A Giant Conglomerate”; Wheale family genealogical website.
I really enjoy you blog about my hometown…I am long gone now living in Portland, Or. But like the premise, your ‘voice’ in each profile…what do you research for each profile?
Thanks, Lynda! Glad you like the stories. Almost everything I know about the people and the town comes from the archives of the New Castle News, which I get access to on newspapers.com. I could read those old papers for days at a time — so many stories…
Unusual looking chap. Horrible that he is immortalised this way when he hadn’t done anything. Hope the book is progressing well!
Yes, a great profile. What a nose! The book is in DIRE NEED of a bit of mainstream publicity if it’s going to reach its target. I’ve a couple of things in the pipeline, though…
That sounds positive! Good luck with it. Just saw a Warhol and Ai Weiwei exhibition in Melbourne. Is there any point in drawing parallels with their work with mug shot photos and this project in a press release?
Anything’s worth a shot, isn’t it? There was a Warhol exhibition in Edinburgh, but it was just before the book campaign, so I couldn’t tie into it.
That is a shame. I hope the PR gets taken up. I want my copy of the book!