Cranberry Township Historical Society


September Program - General Membership Meeting: Gangs of Western, PA

Our upcoming fall programs in September and November will reflect upon crime in Western Pennsylvania. Growing up, if you were a boy, you probably played cops and robbers. If you were a girl, you probably watched the stupid boys play cops and robbers, as you knew “crime does not pay”.

In society, it's nice to have friends. Criminals are the same way but their friends are called “Gangs”. When you think of gangs, you may think of Bonnie and Clyde, Ma Barker, the Know Nothings or Al Capone and his Chicago Outfit gang. But gangs were everywhere geographically and throughout history. Out west, the Hole in the Wall gang included leaders Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid who worked two Continents. Las Vegas was run by Bugsy Siegel and friends. The Italian Mafia, also known as the Cosa Nostra, was grouped as families throughout the United States, especially New York. For a time, it was run by Charles “Lucky” Luciano from Italy after he was deported from the United States. Pittsburgh had their own family, the LaRocca's, who ran the area decades ago. Gangs also are formed for different reasons or due to common circumstances. There are biker gangs, prison gangs, and juvenile street gangs. Our next program on Sunday September 13th at 2:00 pm at the Cranberry Township Municipal Center Council Chambers, will discuss the gangs we had in Western Pennsylvania. Our speaker will be Thomas White, professor from Duquesne and La Roche College. Mr. White spoke to our group last year on Witches.

Come hear the stories of the Flathead Gang and the first armored car robbery, Pittsburgh’s first bank heist, and Glenn and Irene – the areas own Bonnie and Clyde. Learn about the notorious Cooley Gang who terrified Fayette County in the 1890s, the escape of the Biddle Boys, and many other tales of the region’s dark side.

Allegheny County Jail

The Biddle Boys brought excitement to Butler County in 1902. They were in the Allegheny County jail for murder and escaped with help from the warden’s wife, then took a trolley to West View. Stole a horse and sleigh, and a shotgun as they stopped in Perrysville and hid in a one-room school. In the dark, headed north and stumbled upon the Butler Plank Road through Butler County. They stopped at a Stevenson’s Hotel in Mt. Chestnut (bit east of Prospect, PA) to eat, rest and especially get out of the January winter. Then all hell broke loose.

Mr. White will talk about what happened next; did they make it to Canada or stay in Butler County. See you on Sunday the 13th.

And learn that crime does not pay!

Capture of the Biddle Boys


May Program - Spring Meeting: Indians of Cranberry Township and the Surrounding Area


The Cranberry Township Historical Society is a Member of the
Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau

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