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Joseph S. Cauffiel ran for Mayor of Johnstown, Cambria, PA, and was elected 1 January 1912. At this time Johnstown was growing and developing, and the government needed change. The mayor and twenty-one Select Councilmen were changed to mayor and four councilmen.
Joseph Cauffiel was a man of vision and a progressive person with a quick mind. He knew change was needed. The Pennsylvania Railroad passed through the city with its tracks. Many people - men, women, and children - were killed by the rapid trains. The loss of life he abhorred. To bring focus to the problem, he forced the trains to go fifteen miles per hour through the city. The Pennsylvania Railroad Company elevated the tracks and created underpasses, still used today. He also convinced them to build a new passenger and freight station. This was a big accomplishment for the city.
Joseph Cauffiel was a friend of Theodore Roosevelt. When Roosevelt was running for President, after he had served out McKinley's term, Joseph Cauffiel entertained Mr. Roosevelt and drove Roosevelt himself in his American Traveler Automobile in a parade. Mr. Roosevelt talked at Luna Park, Roxbury, (where the band shell is at present). Mr. Roosevelt visited Johnstown several times and always as guest of Joseph Cauffiel. In 1914 Mr. Cauffiel ran as an Independent for Governor of PA but was defeated.
When Mr. Roosevelt ran as a Progressive, the Bull Moose candidate, Joseph Cauffiel went as a member of the Pennsylvania Delegation to the convention in Chicago, Illinois. Both were forward-looking men. They were interested in people and wanted the people to experience growth and development. The same qualities were in both men with kind-heartedness and generosity.
Joseph Cauffiel was a man who did not smoke or drink. He later at age forty-five smoked cigars and always regretted the habit. When he saw miners and mill workers on payday stopping at saloons, spending their paychecks and denying women and children, he started a Mother's Assistance for
the destitute. This was the beginning of the present day Family Service Society in Johnstown. He was an enlightened man.
He tried to get water and electricity under people's ownership but failed. He believed in this for savings. He encouraged wards to join the city; but Dale, Southmont, and Westmont refused and remain as separate entities to this day.
Louis Franke succeeded him as Mayor from 1916 - 1920. Mr. Cauffiel was encouraged to run again and served from 1920 - 1924. Mr. Franke followed from 1924 - 1928. In 1928 people persuaded Mr. Cauffiel to run as an Independent. They did not like the candidates on the two tickets. He did, and this was a mistake. He had enemies, and some were jealous of him and his abilities and his progressive and forward look. He was framed. They were looking for an excuse to add another Judge to Cambria County. He suffered valiantly and kept his faith. He lived
to see honesty restored. The Judges who framed him were defeated, and his friend Governor Gifford Pinchot pardoned him. Pinchot admired Mr. Cauffiel's fortitude. Also, Mr. Cauffiel's health was failing, and at the age of sixty-one, he died of cancer. His faith never wavered, and he died with a good mind, saying, "My trust is in Him for he careth for me." He died at home. Cauffiel Bros. was incorporated and still serves Johnstown since 1892. (Written by his daughter Eleanor Cauffiel Rutledge, now deceased)