John Kolar’s love of photography left Dillonvale with a pictorial history

DILLONVALE – Louise Pastre has about 10 albums of pictures dating back to the graduating class from Dillonvale High in front of the school in 1906, the 1913 flood in the community, as well as people, businesses, schools, sporting events and parades.

Many of the photos were taken by her deceased dad, John Kolar, who compiled the albums.

“My dad had a basic camera, nothing special, but he was out taking pictures on many occasions and then put them in albums. Other times, he was buying pictures of events that he wanted to remember from photographers,” she said of the vast collection.

“He received aerial pictures of Dillonvale from Leonard Corona, a photographer who took pictures from airplanes, with Hanna Coal, and I think that Leonard enlarged some of dad’s pictures, too,” she said. There are several big framed aerial photos in Pastre’s possession.

Going through the albums is like a history lesson, as Kolar recorded the dates and names on the back of the pictures. “He spent hours doing this hobby,” his daughter said.

Along with collecting stamps and coins, another of his hobbies was picking edible mushrooms. “A telephone call would bring him to our home fast,” she said.

Kolar found adequate time to do all his hobbies after his retirement from Hanna Coal, where he worked as a motorman. An accident with a railroad car jumping the track injured him severely, so he retired.

Some of Kolar’s pictures were snapped at gatherings, without knowing the people, so he then would travel everywhere showing the pictures around so he could identify the people in them, according to Pastre.

“Whether a flood, accident, fire or parade, he was there to take pictures. He did it to occupy his time,” she said.

His wife, Frances, was an excellent cook and baker, and Louise inherited this talent from mom. She has won many Smithfield Apple Festival, Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times Holiday Cookbook contests and contests from other newspapers. Her cooking expertise was useful as a cook at Buckeye Local High Schools, too.

Regarding school houses, her father had a picture of a Dillonvale grade school class that met in the American Legion Building. There were pictures from the Dun Glenn School, Harpersville School, Jug Run School, Briar Ridge School, DeYarmonville School and Pine Grove School. These were all one-room schools that educated all eight grades.

There is a reprinted picture – very clear for its age – of Civil War veterans taken in Dillonvale in 1891. The veterans are Edward Hagau, Henry Clark, Jihu Butler, Isaac Henry, John Thomas-Mercer and the Rev. Steward.

Another is a slightly faded photo of young World War I vets in their iron brim hats and high neck uniforms. Thanks to Kolar, the men can be identified. They are John “Tank” Hardy, George Haynes, Jim Horrigan and George McCannon.

Another military picture is of Don Young, with the 5th Air Force during World War II. It is a picture of him shaking hands with a New Guinea resident. Young lost his life in the war

Another is a picture of the Dillonvale Fire Department in 1927, with open Model T Fords holding 21 men who most likely were associated with the department.

A burning building shows the Dillonvale Brick Yard burned in 1907 and a school was later built there.

Dillonvale had a New York Central train station, and there is a picture of a passenger train parked on the tracks. A round house and water tank to fill the train engines wwere part of the railroad sector in 1918.

Parades, music and sports seemed to be the passion of the residents of the small community that was populated with schools for education; stores for the purchase of food, clothing, housewares, animal food and fencing; a funeral home; fire department; train transportation; scrap yard; and a garage for vehicle repairs.

A photo shows a large gathering of parade viewers and an interesting, horse-drawn float of the boat, the La Pinta, with a large sail and sailors dressed in a fashion of the day for a Columbus Day Parade. The photo was taken in the early 1900s.

Also, there are pictures of an early July 4 parade and a 1953 Bicentennial parade, along with other occasions.

As for music, there was the Italian band, with dazzling uniforms; the Czech band; the New Cooperative band, called the Co-op Band; the Bohemian Old Timers Band; the Dillonvale Dancing Club and Orchestra with Vince Dolezal on violin and Joe Vojtech on piano; and a large Dillonvale High School marching band from 1955, likely when Louise was in high school.

Also, there were many baseball teams and not all were young men. Pictures show quite older men in uniforms with the pants down to their socks and caps like the old-time ones worn by the Pittsburgh Pirates on occasion. There was a Dillonvale Eagles baseball team; a Dillonvale Merchants Baseball team; a Co-op Baseball team; a Dillonvale Hard Ball team, with Joe Dragon as manager; and the Methodist Church baseball team.

A picture of the 1923 high school football team shows little padding in their uniforms and leather helmets that fit close to their heads. There is a picture of the first school basketball team in 1922 and there also was a soccer team.

Three summer events that brought out the people were the Co-op Picnic; the Fourth of July event at the Co-op picnic grounds, with a parade through town and fireworks; and Czech Days in August.

There is a picture of a large crowd attending the Czech Days. This featured lots of polka music, with bands coming in from Cleveland, where polkas seemed to be king, along with local polka bands, with thoughts of Bill Binkiewicz’s group and the Jancura Polka Jacks.

The food there could not be topped anywhere. The ladies spent days making kolache, raised dough buns filled with a fruit, cottage cheese or poppy seed filling; dumplings, sauerkraut and pork roast; and noodle, ham and egg combination, called flicky. There was fragrant, homemade bread, fresh from the oven and slathered with homemade jelly.

Frances, Louise’s mom, made many items for the Czech Days, along with working there, wearing the Czechoslovakia outfit of a white dress with embroidery and an apron with colorful embroidery. Louise provided many goodies for sale there as well.

The Fourth of July carnival held on Main Street was going strong in 1914 but no mention was made of when the first one was held. A picture shows a big crowd gathered on Main Street for the event.

There was the Lake Shore Hotel that served meals at all hours of the day or night, as well as groceries and ice cream.

Much mention has been made about the Co-op Store and there is a picture of the first store that was opened in 1908. It moved twice after that and was shopped in and shares purchased by many of the residents there.

There is a picture of a mule-drawn buggy that delivered groceries to customers and another picture of an enclosed truck from 1930 that was driven by a Jerry Kahout, both driver and butcher.

Fires and floods seemed to play a part in the village as well. There are pictures of the 1913 flood on Main Street and by the old Co-op Store. And another flood from 1978 when a flash flood hit at 11 a.m.

A fire took the Dillonvale school on May 5, 1924, and it even gives the time the fire started – 10:30 p.m. The Mike Leno Shoe shop burned on Jan. 14, 1926, and the Ippolitti Mill burned on Aug. 23, 1931. There was the brickyard that had burned in 1907 and a school replaced it later.

Also, there were many coal mines located in the Dillonvale area, some went by numbers and others names, such as Crow Hollow. The No. 2 mine had a blacksmith shop, necessary for the shoeing of the mules used to pull the coal carts.

The Wilson Funeral Home first had a horse-drawn hearse to carry the deceased to the homes to be shown, as was the custom many times, or to their final resting place.

There were three churches: St. Adalbert Catholic Church, the Dillonvale Presbyterian and the Dillonvale Methodist churches.

Kolar was an avid reader of the newspaper and many clippings were cut out and put on display in the scrapbooks as well. Some of his pictures were sent to the newspaper for the “Remember When” column and these were displayed, too.

All in all, Kolar’s photos show a very busy but happy way of life in the past.

He died on April 21, 1989. He was a child who came from Czechoslovakia at the age of 12, found employment, married, had a family and as a hobby recorded a memorable way of life through his scrapbooks and albums.