Thursday, July 24, 2014

Allegheny Cemetery update

One of the problems of writing articles about historic sites from a distance is that you have to rely on photographic evidence, or statements given you by others who have actually visited the sites in question.
On both this blog and blog 2 I wrote articles about the Allegheny cemetery, where nine of CTR’s close relatives are buried, these include his parents, three siblings, and assorted uncles and aunts.

I stand by the information presented in the articles except for one point. I stated in good faith that there were only five grave markers lying flat on the ground on the site – those for CTR’s parents, two siblings, and then his Uncle Charles Tays Russell. Having finally been able to visit the site in person, I can now more accurately report that a total of eight grave markers exist. Likely many of them had been covered in part by grass and earth encroaching over them over the decades.
In the top row, next to Charles Tays Russell, are the graves of James and Sarah. James purchased the family plot originally, and his wife Sarah was the first to be buried there in 1846.

Sarah’s stone reads: Sarah, wife of Jas. G. Russell, died Dec 14, 1846. James’ stone next to her simply reads James G Russell. Both stones are much smaller than the later ones for CTR’s parents or his uncle Charles Tays.

There used to be a family tree of the Russells in circulation that made the assumption that Sarah was James’ sister. However, the grave stone plainly shows her to be his wife.
Then in the front row are the immediate family of CTR. They were buried as they died from right to left. First to die was Thomas, aged 5 years and 3 months. There is a small stone visible there. Sadly it is worn completely smooth, so it is not possible now to make out any inscription. Next are the two larger stones for Lucinda and Joseph Lytle Jr. – both very worn and indistinct now, and finally the stones for his parents. Joseph Lytle was the last to be buried here in 1897 and the site then became forgotten for nearly a century.

The only family member who appears to have never had a gravestone was Mary Russell, Joseph Lytle’s sister, who died in 1886.


One other feature of this site may be of interest and I am indebted to my Pittsburgh guide for the information. If you are on the road, facing the family plot which verges on the road, behind the site and a little to your left are two old monuments, both sadly somewhat vandalised today. One is of a pyramid shape – albeit a rather thin one. The other, behind it, is of books on which names were originally intended. A pyramid and open books for names should bring to mind the cemetery where CTR was buried in 1916 – in what became known as United Cemeteries. The monument to the WT Society (not CTR) was of course a pyramid, with open books on its sides. Installed several years after CTR’s death, it was reported that he had approved the design in 1914. If that is true, maybe the vista at his parents’ final resting place gave him the idea.

1 comment:

jerome said...

My apologies to the good citizens of Pittsburgh, but the damage to the pyramid shaped obelisk in the Allegheny cemetery was not caused through vandalism. I now have it on very good authority that the damage was caused through a local tornado! The Russell gravestones, lying flat on the ground, survived intact at the time.