Mt. Pleasant-based author details area’s ‘Hidden History’
Mt. Pleasant-based author Cassandra Vivian celebrates the richness of the Laurel Highlands in her new book, “Hidden History of the Laurel Highlands.” The book is a series of previously written short stories based in the three counties — Fayette, Westmoreland and Somerset — that compose the Laurel Highlands.
The Monessen native said that this region was shaped primarily by its immigrant culture.
“People immigrated here from many countries to work in the steel mills, the coal mines and the distilleries,” Vivian said. “The whole tri-state area was the fulcrum on which this nation was built. Our products were shipped everywhere, primarily on the rivers.”
Vivian says that geography also defined this region.
“This area is scenically beautiful,” she said. “We have a lot of outdoor recreation. Also, we are rich in natural resources. Our coal fields helped fuel America. These things drew people here because everywhere they turned, there were jobs.”
Vivian also addressed the stereotypes of this region.
“People think we’re a bunch of hillbillies,” she said. “We have a strong Native American community. Our immigrant culture is rich beyond words. We don’t promote it enough to celebrate it.”
The book is divided into four sections:
• Part I: Around the Highlands: This section covers the history of southwestern Pennsylvania from the Revolutionary War to the Industrial Revolution.
• Part II: Into Fayette County: This section expands upon that history, focusing primarily on the Industrial Revolution and the immigration wave that resulted from it.
• Part III: Looking into Somerset County: This section celebrates Somerset County’s maple industry and pays homage to Flight 93.
• Part IV: Around Westmoreland County: This section focuses on Westmoreland County’s famous son, H.C. Frick.
Vivan brings to her writing a wealth of experience she had while living in Cairo, Egypt, for 20 years, teaching English and research at both the high school and university levels.
”I was raised in a strongly ethnic home,” she said. “The peasants in Egypt respect culture and history. I fit right in.”
She will hold a book signing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 6 at ArtWorks in Connellsville,.
To order from Vivian directly, send $20 plus $2 shipping and handling to 208 Ridgeview Court, Mt. Pleasant, PA 15666.
To order from the publisher, call 1-866-457-5971.
Barbara Starn is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.