Historian wants to return WW II photos of West Mayfield Marine Henry Thellman

Do you know the Thellman family of West Mayfield?

Earlier this year archaeologist and military photo historian Brennan Gauthier purchased a collection of WW II photos on eBay.  The collection turned out to be from an obscure Marine Nightfighter aircraft unit stationed in the Pacific during the end of WWII. The album held many of the typical photos of the war: military planes, tropical scenes, buildings, vehicles, and several photos of GIs.

In a recent blog post Mr. Gauthier says, “I always try to do research on names in the hopes of tracking down a living veteran.  I’ve succeeded on a number of occasions, but the search usually ends unfulfilled.  In this case, I was able to successfully track down the veteran.  Sadly, he passed way a few months back, but I’m hoping to contact one of the living relatives.”

Mr. Gauthier refers to a Beaver County Times obituary for Henry H. ‘Heinie’ Thellman, who died on January 26, 2012 in Tampa, Florida at the age of 85.  Mr. Thellman lived in West Mayfield during the war years.  In fact, the Thellman family are long-time residents of the Borough.  Daniel Thellman Sr., Henry’s father, was once mayor.

Mr. Gauthier’s search to find the Thellman family uncovered a bit of local WW II history that many would find remarkable.  Like so many other families during the war, the Thellmans answered the call of their nation.  However, far fewer families contributed as much as the Thellmans; four brothers–Dan Jr., Mike, Steve, and Henry–not only enlisted, but they all joined the US Marines and fought in the Pacific.

Unfortunately, Corporal Steve Thellman was killed in action March 25, 1945, just three days before his 25th birthday.  The loss was devastating to the close-knit family.  In fact, for a long time a distraught Mrs. Thellman refused to cash her son’s government insurance check.

At the end of war, the remaining Thellman brothers all safely returned home.  Mike Thellman (4th Ave.) still lives in the Borough.  Passersby can see the USMC banner proudly hoisted on his flag pole.

Mr. Gauthier wants to connect with the Thellman family so that he can share Henry’s photos with them.  After all these years the family might want to see them, he imagines.

His blog, Portraits of War, is dedicated to discussing the various aspects of interpreting military photography from the first half of the 20th century.  It is mainly comprised of WWI and WWII photographs with a broad range of photographic formats ranging from early glass plate negatives to photographic prints, color slide, and B/W  nitrate negatives.

If you can help us reconnect the Thellman family with these long lost photos, please contact Kevin Farkas at farkas.kj@gmail.com or call 412-423-8034.

West Mayfield Vets do it again!

West Mayfield Vets repeat victory!  The Vets last week won the Beechview Wooden Bat 14-U Tournament, upsetting Hopewell 5-4 in the championship game.  It was their second win in three years with a 4-0 record.

Team members starting front row are: Manager Kip Richeal, Jake Ratkovich, Mark Engel, Noah Damazo, Robbie Swinderman, Austin Craig and Nick Zuchelli.  Second row: Coach Dave Ratkovich, Josh McCoy, Hunter Hagy, Michael Boswell, Tristen Stewart, Coach Bob Leist, Cory Chaffee, Brett Thumm, Neil Papageorge, Adam Robinson and Coach Mike Swinderman.  Back row: Coach Shane Stewart, Coach Jeff McCoy and Coach Mike Boswell.


West Mayfield Church among other churches leasing property to gas developer

West Mayfield Bible Baptist Church (High Street Ext.) is among six local churches joining in Beaver County’s current gas development trend.

According to a recent Beaver County Times article, online records from the county’s Recorder of Deeds show that natural gas developer Chesapeake Appalachia has also signed leases with Four Mile Church and New Salem Presbyterian Church in Ohioville, Millcreek United Presbyterian Church in Greene Township, Cannelton Baptist Church in Darlington Township, Bethel United Methodist Church in Hanover Township, and property owned by the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese, including St. Rose Catholic Church in South Beaver (12.26 acres), Christ the Divine Teacher church in Chippewa Township (4.69 acres), and St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in Chippewa (27.14 acres).

The nature of the lease between West Mayfield Baptist Church and Chesapeake Appalachia was not explained, nor was the potential impact of the lease upon the borough’s infrastructure and environment discussed in the article.  

West Mayfield Hosts 2nd Annual “Pitch for a Cause”

On July 21-22, 2012, Catholic Parishes from across Beaver County gathered at the West Mayfield Community Park for the 2nd annual “Pitch for a Cause” charity benefiting youth programs of participating Churches.

West Mayfield Borough hosted the two day tournament, consisting of seven teams. “We’re delighted that the Borough has such a wonderful park to host our event,” said Jim Bostek, Vice President of West Mayfield Borough Council and standout player for St. Rose of Lima Parish, undefeated winner of this year’s travelling trophy.

State Representative Jim Marshall was in attendance as a player for Divine Mercy Parish.  Unfortunately, Mr. Marshall’s team was eliminated twice, but he reportedly had a terrific time.  ‘It’s always good to be in West Mayfield, especially for a good cause,” Rep. Marshall said, “and the fields are always in great shape.”

Click here for photos and more information about the tournament.


Next Council Mtg. Aug. 9. 2012

The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be at 6:30pm on August 9, 2012.

The meeting is open to the public and will take place in the Council Chambers, 4609 W. 8th Ave.  All citizens having business before the council are advised to be on time for the start of the meeting.

West Mayfield Resident Preserving Veterans’ Stories for Future Generations

West Mayfield resident Kevin Farkas is the founder and managing partner of an educational nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the first-hand accounts of military service by southwestern Pennsylvania residents.

The mission of the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Transmedia Oral History Initiative in Partnership with Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum is to preserve and share the voices, images, and experiences of Pittsburgh area veterans of all branches of service and eras, including peace and war-time service.  “Our aim is to move beyond the traditional oral history archive,” Mr. Farkas said.

We believe that a story not told is a story not heard, so our focus is on storytelling by using creative and interpretive techniques across different media, including audiographic, videographic, photographic, and literary genres. Each medium allows for new and creative ways to tell veterans’ stories and to make them more accessible to diverse audiences through a wide variety of opportunities, including social networking, blogging, podcasting, traditional radio and television broadcasting, and print.

In early 2011, Kevin Farkas (a Navy veteran who grew up in West Mayfield) began recording veterans’ stories as part of The Social Voice Project’s Veteran Voices Initiative.  Its goal was simply to help local veterans capture and preserve their stories for their families.  “As a way of saying thanks to our veterans,  I wanted to use my skills as an audiographer to help ordinary veterans preserve their personal histories, ” said Kevin Farkas.  “Most veterans are not war heroes, but they, too, once put their lives on the line to defend our nation.  Their stories of service matter.  Also, most people never get a chance to record and preserve their life stories professionally, so I wanted to use my skills to help create high quality historical legacies for veterans.”

In 2012, The Social Voice Project formed a new multimedia partnership that added videography, still photography, and narrative historiography to the ways in which veterans’ stories can be preserved–and told.  The new project, now called the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Transmedia Oral History Initiative–includes  Todd DePastino of The Veterans Breakfast Club,  Chris Rolinson of StartPoint Media, and Andy Marchese of Andy Marchese Photography as principle collaborative partners.   

With their talents, the project’s new focus is on sharing veterans’ stories.  “Every story matters,” says Todd DePastino (historian, author, and executive director of The Veterans Breakfast Club).  “It’s important that we move beyond mere preservation and the traditional oral history archive and bring these stories to life by presenting them across multiple media platforms.  With the right approach, veterans’ storytelling can be historically accurate and creative.”

Also in 2012, Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh formed a special partnership with Pittsburgh’s Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum Trust, Inc.  Soldiers & Sailors is one of Pittsburgh’s oldest and best known historical landmarks and the nation’s only military museum dedicated to honoring the men and women of all branches of service.  For historical and scholarly purposes, every veteran’s story is carefully preserved and archived in its entirety with Soldiers & Sailors.