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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Pittsburgh in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Trinity Church Burying Ground

Pittsburgh's Oldest Unreconstructed Landmark

 
 
Trinity Church Burying Ground Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, June 23, 2014
1. Trinity Church Burying Ground Marker
Inscription. This whole city block at one time held as many as 4,000 graves. An ancient Indian tumulus (burying ground) originally occupied part of the site and, subsequently, the French of Fort Duquesne (1754) and the British from Fort Pitt (1758), along with early Americans, were buried here.
Prominent persons whose remains are still interred and legibly marked include Red Pole, who at one time was principal Chief of the Shawnee Indian Nation; Dr. Nathaniel Bedford, city's first physician and founder of the University of Pittsburgh; General William Butler and Colonel James Butler, soldiers of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, for whose family Butler County was named; Oliver Ormsby, early Pittsburgher, for whom Mt. Oliver was named; and Sarah and Jane Ormsby, for whom Sarah and Jane Streets were named in the South Side of Pittsburgh; relatives of General John Neville; Captain Nathaniel Irish, a Revolutionary officer, early settler and one of the founders of Pittsburgh; and many others familiar even today to most Pittsburghers because streets, areas, islands, etc. are named for them.
This green area, sacred to the dead, is a memorial to much of the early history of Pittsburgh.
 
Location. 40° 26.503′ N, 79° 59.911′ W. Marker is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Trinity Church Burying Ground Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, June 23, 2014
2. Trinity Church Burying Ground Marker
, in Allegheny County. Marker is on Sixth Avenue 0.1 miles south of Wood Street, on the right when traveling south. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Pittsburgh PA 15222, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Jane Grey Swisshelm Childhood Home (a few steps from this marker); The Duquesne Club (a few steps from this marker); The Granite Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Founding Convention of the AFL (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); McClurg Iron Foundry (about 500 feet away); The Benedum Center (about 600 feet away); Kaufmann's Department Store and Clock (about 600 feet away); Sisters of Mercy (about 700 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Pittsburgh.
 
Also see . . .  Trinity Cathedral. Your Downtown Cathedral (Submitted on June 23, 2014, by Mike Wintermantel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.) 
 
Categories. Cemeteries & Burial SitesChurches, Etc.War of 1812War, US Revolutionary
 
Trinity Church Burying Ground image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, June 23, 2014
3. Trinity Church Burying Ground
Part of the cemetery
The Burying Ground at Trinity Cathedral image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, June 23, 2014
4. The Burying Ground at Trinity Cathedral
(map of notable graves)
Like most early American cemeteries, many of the tombs are historcally significant individuals, as well as entire families over multiple generations interred in these burial grounds, often played significant roles in the history of their city as well as the history of the country.

Trinity Burial Ground is no exception with a wide range of historical figures laid to rest within the limits of the site. Over succeeding generations, as both the First Presbyterian Church and Trinity Cathedral were built and expanded the burying ground deceased in size. While records show that more than 800 individual burials occured within this burial ground now just 155 graves remain. Many of course, never having been identified permanently, have been lost forever and others have been re-interred elsewhere. Notable persons once buried here include Ebenezer Denny, first Mayor of Pittsburgh; John Wrenshall, founder of the Methodist Church in Western Pennsylvania; Commodore Joshua Barney, Revolutionary Naval hero; Brigadier General John Neville, George Washington's Inspector of Review; Major Isaac Craig, involved with the capture of the Hessians in Trenton; and Colonel James O'Hara, one of Pittsburgh's first industrialists.
Chief Red Pole's Grave image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, June 23, 2014
5. Chief Red Pole's Grave
inscription
Mio-Qua-Coo-Na_Caw
or
Red Pole
Principal Village Chief of the Shawnee Nation.
Died at Pittsburgh the 28th of January 1797
Lamented by the United States
Chief Red Pole's Grave marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, June 23, 2014
6. Chief Red Pole's Grave marker
Mio-Qua-Coo-Na_Caw
or Red Pole

The renewal of the Indian wars after the Revolution placed Pittsburgh in imminent danger. Red Pole, principal village chief of the Shawnee was one of the signers of the Treaty of Greenville on August 3, 1795, which brought lasting peace to the frontier. In 1796 after the treay took effect; Red Pole and his brother Blue Jacket were in Pittsburgh at Christmas, held there by the rivers closed by ice. Red Pole was taken sick, and in spite of the faithful ministrations of Dr. Nathaniel Bedford and doctors Carmichael and Wallace, the Chief died on January 28, 1797. He was buried with great ceremony beneath an older headstone at the request of Washington's Secretary of War, James McHenry.
Dr. Nathaniel Bedford Grave image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, June 24, 2014
7. Dr. Nathaniel Bedford Grave
Dr. Nathaniel Bedford Grave Plaque image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, June 24, 2014
8. Dr. Nathaniel Bedford Grave Plaque
inscription
Dr. Nathaniel Bedford
Died March 21, 1818 Aged 63
Surgeon at Fort Pitt
Trustee under Penn Grant to Trinity Church, 1787
Incorporator of Pittsburgh Academy now University of Pittsburgh, 1806

------------------------------------------ "The mystic band of masons bright
Mourn the deceased a son of light
Whose soul dissolved at misery's grief
Promptly offered sweet relief
A widowed spouse records his name,
Of purest honor, upright fame:
A husband's faith, a parents care
Claim memory's tributary tear"

-----------------------------------------
Record with original Masonic inscription placed by the Pittsburgh chapter Daughters of the American Revolution
1909
Dr. Nathaniel Bedford Grave Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, June 24, 2014
9. Dr. Nathaniel Bedford Grave Marker
inscription
Dr. Nathaniel Bedford was born in Birmingham, England and came to Fort Pitt as a military surgeon. He became Pittsburgh's first physician. Dr. Bedford married Jane Ormsby, daughter of John Ormsby, and through her inherited land along the Monongahela River from 6th to 17th Street (now South Side but originally called Birmingham). He was active in the formation of Trinity parish, being one of the trustees, a member of the building committee, and on the first vestry. He was also one of the incorporators of the Pittsburgh Academy, now the University of Pittsburgh. He was an assistant burgess after Pittsburgh became a borough, and a man of great influence among the young men of the city.
Colonel William Butler Grave image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, June 24, 2014
10. Colonel William Butler Grave
inscription
Died 1789
Buried-Trinity Churchyard-Pennsylvania
Archives 2nd Series Vol. 10 PG. 493 and 489
Lt. Colonel Commission July 30, 1776
Colonel Commission July 22, 1779

Pittsburgh Chapter DAR
Colonel William Butler and Captain James R. Butler Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, June 24, 2014
11. Colonel William Butler and Captain James R. Butler Marker
inscription
Colonel William Butler was a lieutenant-colonel in the Fourth Pennsylvania Regiment and was known for his courage and bravery in battle. In 1783, the legislature granted him a right to operate a ferry from Pittsburgh to the north side of the Allegheny River. He was also a forest ranger for the reserve tract opposite Pittsburgh to "prevent the commission of waste upon the timbers of the reserve tract."

Captain James R. Butler was the son of William's brother, Major General Richard Butler, lawyer, legislator, and soldier, for whom Butler County was named. James, a Captain of the Pittsburgh Blues in the War of 1812, took part in the battle of Mississinewa and the battle of Fort Meigs. The command distinguished itself in both battles and was noted for gallant conduct in General William Henry's reports. The date and death inscribed on this tombstone is incorrect and there is recorded evidence that James lived until 1842.
Ormsby Family Graves image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, June 24, 2014
12. Ormsby Family Graves
Ormsby Family Graves Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, June 24, 2014
13. Ormsby Family Graves Marker
inscription
John Ormsby came to this area with General Forbes, during the French and Indian War and was successively a trader, ferryman, innkeeper, merchant and paymaster at the erection of Fort Pitt. He was one of the four leaders to whom John Penn and John Penn, Jr. deeded the site of the present Trinity Cathedral. He died in December, 1805. Jane McCallister Ormsby, wife of John and mother of Oliver Ormsby, was of the McCallister family whose members served in numerous positions of responsibility during and after the Revolutionary War. Jane Street on the South Side was named for her. Oliver Ormsby, the son of John and Jane Ormsby, was one of Pittsburgh's leading merchants and industrialists having established trade stores in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio. His business enterprises also included a flour mill, a cotton factory in Ohio and the Brighton Industries at Beaver Falls, PA. He was a director of the U.S. Branch Bank at Pittsburgh and one of the founders of Trinity Episcopal Church. He lived in the area known as Mt. Oliver where he owned the area's first horse race track. He died in 1832 at 65 years of age. Sarah Mahon Ormsby was Oliver's wife. Sarah Street on the South Side was named for her.
Captain Nathaniel Irish Grave image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, June 24, 2014
14. Captain Nathaniel Irish Grave
Nathaniel Irish, Sr., Captain Nathaniel Irish and Mary Irish Grave Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, June 24, 2014
15. Nathaniel Irish, Sr., Captain Nathaniel Irish and Mary Irish Grave Marker
inscription
Nathaniel Irish, Sr. was born of English parentage on the Island of Montserrat, British East Indies, about 1680. He came to the colonies in 1730 and settled in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. He died in 1747 and was buried on the property of the Union Furnace near Highbridge, N.J. This furnace, with which he was connected, made cannon balls for George Washington's army. His grave was moved here in 1961 to a site beside his son. His birthdate is the oldest recorded of anyone buried in Western Pennsylvania. Captain Nathaniel Irish served in Washington's army and came west after the American Revolution to settle in Allegheny County where he purchased land from John Penn and John Penn,Jr. He was a member of Trinity's first vestry. Mary Irish was his wife.
History of the Church image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, June 23, 2014
16. History of the Church
The site of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral has been a place of burial at least since the first land grant in 1779 and possibly earlier as a Native American burial mound. Until the construction of the second church in 1822, the land was used exclusively for burials as the first "Round Church" of 1805 was constructed one block to the northwest on a small triangular plot bounded by Wood, Liberty and Sixth Avenues.
With the construction of the congregation's second church on the site, many burials were exhumed and moved to crypts built under the church. The remainder of the open land continued to be used as a burial ground and additional land was purchased in 1827 extending the property east to Carpenter's Alley. According to one diarist, the Trinity and First Presbyterian Church burial grounds were "...a thickly peopled graveyard...above the level of the street, and were protected by a worm fence that ran along the top of a green bank."
The third and present church was constructed on the site from 1869-1872. The larger footprint again required the removal of burials and their original markers to other locations in the yard as well as to other public cemeteries in the city.
From 1900-1908 the church sold land along its eastern edge between Carpenter's Alley and Smithfield Street for the construction of the Oliver Building. Once again burials were relocated off site and to the west yard. Between 1914 and 1923 the entire churchyard was stripped of all vegetation and leaving only grass and a barren landscape of stone. In recent years, modest vegetation has been reintroduced including a few specimen trees in the west yard, flower beds, and foundation plantings flanking the entrance steps.
Despite these building episodes, church and burial ground have co-existing on this site together since 1822 creating a sacred cultural landscape that has remained remarkably constant relative to the dynamic city streetscapes around it. Today approximately 128 tombstones and monuments remain on site commemorating Pittsburgh's famous and anonymous and their fine designs reflect over centuries of local and foreign craftsmanship.
Trinity Church Historic Landmark Plaque image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, June 23, 2014
17. Trinity Church Historic Landmark Plaque
Historic Landmark
Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
Gordon W. Lloyd, Architect 1870-72
Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Mike Wintermantel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 357 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on , by Mike Wintermantel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.   7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. submitted on , by Mike Wintermantel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.   16, 17. submitted on , by Mike Wintermantel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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