BARBARA BARRETT: From Lewisville to Finland, a life of achievement

BARBARA BARRETT: From Lewisville to Finland, a life of achievement

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Barbara Barrett grew up on a 100-acre horse farm in Indiana County.Long before she reached Saltsburg High School, she was leading people on pony rides near the family farm in Lewisville, Conemaugh Township.“We had horses and ran a riding stable, ” Barrett said. “We had people from all over, people from Indiana County, Allegheny County, Cambria County and Westmoreland County, who would come to our farm to go horseback riding.“Through horseback riding, we had college students from all over country, all over world, who would find their way out to this little, down-in-a-valley farm of ours. It was not fancy. It was 100 acres.”Barrett, 67, was born on a different farm two miles away.
But it was purchased by the government because it was located in a flood plain near the Conemaugh Dam.“Our old farm was razed, but we were close enough that the whole Conemaugh Dam backup area was our playground, ” Barrett said. “We rode horseback and hiked in that area.“At first, we just had one horse. .

People would come in to ride, then we got two horses. They built a little vacation area there and I gave pony rides when I was a little kid. I was like in fourth, fifth or sixth grade, and I would lead kids around in a circle for 25 cents.“Then we ended up getting quite a few horses.”BARRETT’S FATHER, Robert McConnell, was a one-time coal miner, steel worker and cowboy.He eventually worked the night shift at Federal Laboratories in the nearby village of Tunnelton, and would tend to the horses and do some farming during the day.“Sadly, he died on a horse, ” Barrett said.
“He had a group of 14 students from IUP and he was taking them horseback riding — it was one of the biggest rides we ever had — and he died of a heart attack in 1963.”After her dad’s tragic death, Barrett helped run the farm, along with her brothers and sisters.“The family picked it up and did the jobs dad was doing, ” she said. “We sold some of the horses, but kept most of them.”Barrett, who graduated from Saltsburg in 1968, said she already has visited her old family homestead a handful of ....

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