Lawrence Leathers a
lifelong resident of New Castle, was born February 7, 1896 at 11 l/2
Walnut Street. He was the son
of Charles Lawrence Leathers and Louise Virginia
May 15, 1914 he
married Betsy Ann Hunt, whom he met while
they were both attending Business College in Akron, Ohio.
They were the parents of:
Louise Leathers, born November 5, 1915
Carl (Bud) Leathers, born November 3, 1920, died 22-Nov-1992
lived at 120 North Ray Street, New Castle, PA.
to enlarge photo
enlisted December 11, 1917 at Columbus Barracks, Ohio.
Where he joined the American Expeditionary Forces, Battery F 4th
Artillery (C.A.C.) Engineering Corps.
He served in France until the Armistice, November 11, 1918.
He served at St. Nazaire, Loire-Inferieure.
He was also at Haussimont (Marne).
He was Honorably discharged January 2, 1919
The marriage ended
in divorce in 1922.
In 1924, he married Ann
Holsobus. She died in
1951. They had no children.
They lived at 1004 N. Jefferson in New Castle.
Always interested in
nature and the outdoors, he liked to hunt, hike, explore caves.
He was a civil engineer, surveyor, a cave explorer and geologist.
He was a land agent for Pennsylvania Power.
His work with the
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy used most of his talents as an engineer
doing surveying, making maps, planning and acquiring land from private
owners for use as a State Park at McConnell's Mills.
His energy and enthusiasm were always foremost in any mention of
Some of his most
rewarding relationships were with his friends at the Conservancy.
Carl worked closely with Dr. Otto E. Jennings
of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy as well as Dr.
Graham Netting and Dr. James Swauger, both
Directors Emeritus of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in
From "50 Years
Of The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, The Early Years" by M.
Graham Netting" Carl's association with this group is
delineated in glowing terms, calling him "One of the largely unsung
heroes of local conservation." Dr.
Netting considered Carl's selection as Field Agent one of the most
important decisions of the early beginning of the Conservancy.
Obtaining the contractual services of Carl Leathers was listed as
one of the assets of the Conservancy at an early meeting when they adopted
their new name.
Although in his
early life, Carl had espoused many questionable causes, such as the Ku
Klux Klan and was described by Bart Richards,
one of the Conservancy's Directors and editor of the New Castle News, as a
"Wild-eyed radical, head of the Socialist Party in New Castle, often
getting out news sheets and pasting them on windows."
Dr. Graham thinks It should be mentioned that the Depression had
hit the community so severely that there was much to view with concern.
Dr. Netting was
encouraged to learn that when Louis B. Round,
now President of Pennsylvania Power, had headed the Lawrence County
Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1933 and needed an energetic
assistant, he picked Carl, saying with prophetic insight, "There is
something good in him." Carl
earned Round's esteem in the WPA and was later employed by Pennsylvania
Power as land agent in acquiring its holdings in the Slippery Rock Valley. He was recommended to the Conservancy without qualification
as the best person to option properties they needed in the Slippery Rock
Always the rugged
individualist, for some years, Carl steadfastly refused to by placed on
the payroll as an employee; he felt that as a real estate agent under
contract he could operate more independently, setting his own schedule so
long as he accomplished what he was asked to do.
Dr. Netting and Carl
spent many days in the field together.
Sometimes staying over night at Carl's home where recently widowed,
he lived with his mother (Louise Kroesen Leathers)
who was described by Dr. Netting as, "a
sweet and gentle mother who always had food ready whenever he came
It was a Mutual
Admiration Society actually. Carl's
mother was greatly impressed with Dr. Netting's charm and refinement,
calling him, "Such a gentleman.
So mannerly." She
was always happy to cook them a hearty breakfast before they left to start
their day in the field.
Dr. Netting was
greatly impressed by the way Carl, from many field trips with Dr.
Frank W. Preston, of Butler, had absorbed glacial geology so
thoroughly that he could point out spillways and eskers almost as expertly
as Preston himself.
considered Carl a master in getting options from country people.
He had been present in Muddy Creek kitchens when a farmer would
berate Carl for trying to steal his land for a fraction of its value.
Carl would point out that the bottom was so wet two of the farmer's
cows had gotten mired there the previous month.
They might even curse each other in "Doughboy language"
as Dr. Netting called it, until Carl would say, "You were born in
1889 and I have a silver dollar minted in that very year that I'm going to
give you for your signature on this option form."
The owner would sign, shake hands and say he and his wife wanted to
move to Florida anyway.
Dr. Preston has
written, "Carl's relations with the owners of the land were of the
best, he used to say there was not a seller to whose home he could not
return and be welcomed. His
object was to acquire land at a fair price, fair to both parties, and he
knew what the fair value was."
Carl also had much
to do with the early planning, development, surveying and mapping of
Ohiopyle State Park in the Laurel Highlands, PA in 1959, before he became
incapacitated by his final illness.
One of the greatest
disappointments of his life was becoming terminally ill just before a long
planned trip to Europe with Dr. Jennings in 1960.
He loved McConnell's
Mills so much he spent much time there camping, and taking Boy Scouts
there for Overnight Camp
Outs. He was one of the
originators of the Easter Sunrise Service in a natural amphitheater on
Slippery Rock Creek.
Carl died after a
long illness October 10, 1959. He
was cremated and his ashes flown over and scattered on his beloved
McConnell's Mills Project, which he considered one of his greatest
He was a Charter
Member of the P. S. Gaston American Legion Post 343.
In 1950, Carl was
Executive Secretary of the Lawrence County Service Stations Association;
Active in Scouting; Member
of the National Speleogical Society; Tri-State Explorers Club; Klu Klux
Klan; American Society For Advancement of Science;
as well as The Pennsylvania Archaeological Society.
was infectious," Dr. Netting said, "Carl promoted conservation
with missionary zeal, giving lectures to any group, anywhere.
He located properties, determined their boundaries, negotiated
options, encouraged appropriate uses and watched over them with a devotion
that took no cognizance of working hours or weather.
He was an essential element in making McConnell's Mill and Moraine
State Parks realities; they are his monuments and there his ashes were
scattered after his early death."
Compiled by his daughter:
Ethel Louise Leathers
3705 Rosebriar Avenue
Glenshaw, PA 15116
And Greatly indebted to
Dr. M. Graham Netting's
"50 Years Of The
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy The Early Years."