graphicI nominate the late Dr. Frank W. Preston for this honor. Dr. Preston was born June 14, 1886, in Leicester, England. Frank Preston received his formal education in England, obtaining three degrees from the University of London by 1916. He was employed as a civil engineer at Loughborogh at the time he was drafted in World War I. His employer appealed to the local draft body and he was granted a maximum exemption. Personally, he was opposed to the exemption. On February 14, 1917, he wrote to the Board stating his desire to serve "in anything useful and suggested a brief exemption."

The concluding paragraph of Chapter XVI of the Preston autobiography relates to his first trip to America. I quote:

"And sometime in 1920 or possibly early in 1921 (his employer) Mr. Taylor had again been in America and had made arrangements with George Eastman of Eastman Kodak, to have a test made in Rochester, New York, of the relative merits of Taylor’s 'Type E' lens grinding and polishing machine as compared with the Eastman machine of those days. And William Taylor wanted me to represent him in Rochester to carry out the test. So I was prepared for a brief trip to America, little realizing I was going to spend most of the rest of my life there."

One should read Chapter VII of the autobiography to obtain an understanding of his travels, explorations and the personalities that Dr. Preston became acquainted with before he settled in Butler.

Dr. Preston worked in Butler at Standard Plate Glass under an agreement between William Taylor and Frank Troutman. He explored the Butler area including Slippery Rock Village, Muddycreek, McConnells Mills, Wolf Creek and the surrounding area.

A dispute developed between Taylor and Troutman. There was a settlement and Preston decided that he should not go to work for Standard Plate at that time. Instead he started on a tour around the world before returning and starting to work for Standard Plate and Frank Troutman.

Dr. Preston returned to Butler in 1926 after traveling to Africa, Australia, Hawaii and California. Frank Edgar Troutman, son of Henry Troutman asked him to resume his work at the Standard Plate Glass Company. It wasn’t until 1927 that Dr. Preston’s career blossomed. After going into business for himself, he became a citizen of the United States and began publishing many scientific papers.

In 1937 he relocated his office and place of business in Meridian, then known as Eberhart. On June 14, 1942, (which was also his birthday) he married Jane Hufman in the Scottswood Presbyterian Church in Toledo, Ohio.

In the period 1947 - 1955, Dr. Preston devoted a lot of his time to glacial geology and nature conservation. He explored the Muddycreek Swamp with his friend, Edmund Walls Arthur. Mr. Arthur, a Pittsburgh attorney, died October 9, 1948. Together they determined that the swamp had been a glacial lake more than 10,000 years ago. A later companion of his geological surveys was Carl Leathers, a field representative of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

It was John Eisler who interested the writer in the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and introduced me to Dr. Preston. An early experience was when Dr. Preston escorted me to the Mt. Zion Baptist Church near the Old Stone House. From the graveyard at the rear and side of the church building Dr. Preston pointed out to me across the Muddycreek Swamp the location of Portersville Station which he stated was the natural location of a dam for the proposed lake. Portersville Station was on the rail line of the Western Allegheny Railroad that had crossed the Muddycreek Swamp. With the foregoing and other experiences I became convinced that the former glacial lake could be restored as a fresh water lake.

Dr. Preston and I became friends. I learned a great deal about the experiences of Dr. Preston in Central America and elsewhere when the two of us lunched in the main dining room of the Nixon Hotel. I was always pleased when Dr. Preston phoned and suggested that we meet for lunch at the Nixon. These meetings occurred before I became judge and when I was still practicing law in Butler.

In the 1950s with John Eisler and the Conservancy, we embarked on a campaign to involve the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the restoration of the Muddycreek Swamp into a lake and park.

The next major advance took place in December of 1950. The late Senator Pechan and I arranged for a meeting in Harrisburg with the Republican leaders of the State Senate. In addition to contacting the Majority Leader, James Berger, and obtaining his approval I arranged for a group of community leaders to travel to Harrisburg for the meeting. John Eisler drove Chandler Huselton of Armco, Gustave Benz, President of the Butler Chamber of Commerce, and myself to Harrisburg where we were joined by Dr. Lewis, President of the Conservancy.

At noon on a cold winter day during a Senate recess we stated our case for the park project to Majority Leader James Berger, Finance Chairman James Kessler, President of the Senate Harvey Taylor and Senator Albert Pechan.

Later we met with Maurice Goddard, Secretary of Forest and Waters, and told him that we had a commitment that the General Assembly would approve $2 million in financing of park projects through the General State Authority. This was the first of such funding and Dr. Goddard was elated. There followed the legislation, the planning and construction of Muddycreek Park. The official name, Moraine State Park, came much later.

I strongly supported my proposal that the project be named in honor of Frank Preston. Dr. Preston insisted that the lake be named in memory of his late friend, Edmund Arthur, and that the complete project be Moraine State Park. It was the interest, involvement and contribution of Frank W. Preston that was primarily responsible for the development of Moraine State Park and Lake Arthur.

The two volumes of the biography of Frank Preston are available at the Butler Area Public Library.

- George Kiester, Butler County Senior Judge

 

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