Braddock's Crossing Re-Enactment in Connellsville Continues to
29 June 2014
By Karl Polacek
In 1755, a young Virginia militia colonel named George Washington
crossed the Youghiogheny River as a volunteer with Major Gen.
Edward Braddock's expedition on June 29 and 30. The point where
the British Army crossed was then called Stewart's crossing, in
On Saturday and Sunday, re-enactors and area residents made the
crossing from a point just down river from Crawford's Cabin in
Connellsville's Yough River Park.
Before that 11th annual crossing re-enactment, sponsored by the
Connellsville Area Historical Society, society president Karen
Hechler led a list of people who spoke, including Bryan Cunning of
Washington, Pa., as Col. George Washington.
Cunning told the story of Washington, Braddock and people like
Daniel Boone, also a member of the expedition.
Cunning said Boone may have been influenced by the rich land he
saw in Western Pennsylvania. Later, Boone explored in Kentucky.
Tom and Christopher Rosselot spoke about the Cobblestone Hotel
project, which Tom Rosselot said would soon ramp up at a site just
outside the park near the boat ramp.
“It was just a year ago when we (Hotel d2 Services) approached the
Connellsville Redevelopment Authority to look for opportunities,”
Tom Rosselot said
The Connellsville area seemed the perfect site for a new, smaller
hotel. He said a lot of local people became involved, adding
another person, Linda Boxx, president of the Allegheny Trail
Alliance, who should also get special recognition.
“(Connellsville area residents) will be starting to see more
activity soon,” Tom Rosselot said. “I'm proud of Cobblestone.
Cobblestone really embodies the community spirit.”
His father, Christopher Rosselot, managing partner of Grant Forbes
and project representative and spokesperson, said the surveys have
been completed and the project has closed on the land.
“There were no coal beds, no voids found,” Christopher Rosselot
He added that the next step would be to complete the environmental
work, so filing for a demolition permit for the old bottling works
can be done. He said that could take place in three or four days.
Christopher Rosselot said he was happy to find a local contractor,
Fairchance Construction of Fairchance.
Afterward, someone in the crowd joked that the French — Rosselots
— had returned to Connellsville.
The rest of afternoon was given over to the re-enactors.
Various tents were located around the field in front of Col.
William Crawford's cabin.
Chuck Haines, a member of the Redstone Living Historians of
Brownsville, was decked out in what militia rangers wore. The
rangers were tasked with scouting the areas between the forts.
“The captains of the units were among the rich,” Carl A. Garofalo
Jr., captain of the re-enactors, said. “They were able to spend
the money to supply the units.”
Tom Wetzel, a lieutenant of the volunteers, is a direct descendant
of one of the rangers. He said many were Indian hunters who kept
the areas around the forts clear by killing the Indians.
In front of another tent, Todd “Ghost in the Head” Johnson of
McKeesport, a historical re-creationist and member of the Huron
people, was quick to express his anger at his problems with the
He appeared at Connellsville in complete Indian dress, which was
not much more than a loin cloth and moccasins, face paint and a
cross on a wire through his nose.
He and Aaron Bosnick, historical interpreter from West Virginia,
said Johnson's costume is now barred from Fort Necessity and from
An official at Freedom Hill said she was ashamed of the costume
after the re-enactor had put on a performance, even though Johnson
had received letters from members of Congress praising the work of
the re-enactors and the authentic costumes.
Johnson said the “politically correct” attitude of the federal
government is an “official insult” to his culture.
“Mine is a totally separate culture,” Johnson added.
A flagpole featured a red banner with the letters “IPLF,” which
flew over the site where his tent was located. Johnson said the
letters stand for Indigenous People's Liberation Front. Johnson
and Bosnick said people from all over the world, including
government officials from Europe, have become members of the
Cunning, dressed as George Washington; Clay Kilgore, dressed in a
costume from the same period; and William “Wild Willie” Frankfort
were in another tent, seeking cover from the hot sun.
Cunning said he is an archeologist for Michael Baker. Kilgore is
director of the Washington County Historical Society. The two have
done work for National Geographic TV.
The river crossing featured about a dozen area residents who
signed up, together with several re-enactors. Firefighters from
New Haven Hose Company, Connellsville, provided security,
stretching a rope across the river and stationing themselves to
help anyone who might struggle.
Jim Lauffer, 59, of Eighty Four, Pa., drew the job of carrying the
flag across the Youghiogheny.
“It is nice,” Lauffer said of the water on what had become a hot
afternoon, adding that the crossing was shallow and sometimes
slippery. “Not too bad.”
Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-626-3538.