THE WHO. I am Jeff Bales Jr. and I was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania, back in 1967. My parents, Jeff Bales Sr. of New Castle and MaryAnn DeMarc of Chewton, met at Cascade Park as teenagers. My father soon joined the U.S. Navy and while growing up I lived in such places as Scotland, Morocco, Guam, and various places on the East Coast. My father retired in Maryland in the mid-1980’s and I have lived in the MD-DC-VA area ever since. I come from a family proud of our military and/or federal government service and I am a longtime law enforcement analyst with the Department of Defense (DoD). I currently live in the country just outside Culpeper VA. I am related to various folks in the New Castle area, most prominently to the Bales’ of New Castle, the LaPatka’s of Chewton, the DeMarc’s of West Pittsburg, and the Hake’s of Mahoningtown. Some of my relatives include the Robert Aiello of Wampum, former Koppel resident George Teck, Kay Migut of Ellport, the Reiber family of Hickory Township, Mike Perry Sr. of Michael’s Furniture in Ellwood City, Ray Bales Jr. of Slippery Rock Township, Carrie Gierlach of Neshannock Township, John Hake of Texas, Chuck Hake of New Bedford, Charles DeMarc Jr. of West Pittsburg, and Ronnie Teck of Austintown.
THE WHAT. This website contains a collection of photos, postcards, articles, stories, and other tidbits pertaining to the history of Lawrence County in western Pennsylvania and surrounding areas – particularly the northern portion of Beaver County to include Koppel and Beaver Falls. There is no real rhyme or reason to the information contained on this website and it’s mainly a collection of things that I find interesting.
THE WHEN. Despite the distance (about 4.5 hours one-way) I used to make frequent trips up to New Castle to conduct research and take photos. Prior to 2020 I made about 10-12 excursions per year, but usually avoided the months (Jan-Mar) when the inclement weather is quite prevalent in western Pennsylvania. Since 2020 other life events have occupied more of my time and the trips stopped. I made a trip to speak at the Ellwood City Historical Society in April 2022 and I hope to reinvigorate my visits during 2022-2023.
THE HOW. During my research trips I usually arrive at Al’s Corner Store in Koppel about 7:00am – get some snacks and use the restroom – and then off I go. After that I am all over the place exploring locations, taking photos, visiting relatives, and meeting new people. I often return home later that same day, but occasionally stay overnight with relatives in the area and return home the following afternoon. I do my best not to trespass on private property, but I also feel it’s important to go the extra mile to get the photos. During my outings I also meet a lot of people and they often provide me with valuable insight. This site is also supported by research I do on the internet and sometimes in the New Castle Public Library. Back at home I am also on constant lookout to add to my collection of old postcards, high school yearbooks, and other memorabilia that pertain to Lawrence County.
THE WHY. I have had a strong interest in general history from an early age. I started documenting my family history back in 1991. After a few years I started on other projects, but returned to my family history effort full bore in late 2006. It was after the unfortunate passing of my father in December 2008 that I realized how little I actually knew about my hometown – due to the lack of time spent there. I decided to rectify that situation and began in-depth research to find out all I could about Lawrence County. I feel it’s extremely important to document the things I discover for any interested parties, future generations, or history buffs or historians like myself. It’s not easy for some people to understand, but I absolutely love doing research. My mother, who passed away in July 2021, was a huge supporter and I’ll miss that dearly.
Thanks for stopping by, take care, and enjoy my site! Jeff