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Carnegie, Bridgeville area cemeteries honor country's history

| Friday, Oct. 27, 2017, 11:35 p.m.

The upcoming Veterans Day celebrations give us a chance to pause, honor and reflect on our local history and remember the families who have lived in our communities.

Those who made the ultimate sacrifice are interred at cemeteries throughout the southwest suburbs.

Old St. Luke's on Church Street in Scott is one of the oldest frontier churches west of the Allegheny Mountains.

In 1770, Maj. William Lea, a member of the French and Indian War expedition led by Gen. John Forbes, received a grant of 335 acres of Chartiers Valley from King George. He promptly set aside a plot, 10 rods square, for a church and burial ground.

His daughter, Jane, was baptized at St. Luke's in 1774. On Jane's tombstone, erected in 1859, is the inscription: “Jane Lea Nixon…first white child born in Chartiers Valley.” Major Lea and his descendants are buried at St. Luke's, along with Capt. David Steel of the 13th Virginia Regiment and many other Revolutionary War veterans. There are about 95 graves in the burial ground. A burial garden was begun in 1992 for cremation ashes.

Also located in Scott is the Ukrainian Cemetery on Lindsay Road, belonging to the SS. Peter & Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of Carnegie.

On Swallow Hill Road in Scott Township is Mt. Olivet/St. Luke's Roman Catholic Cemetery, now overseen by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish of Carnegie.

Chartiers Cemetery, at 801 Noblestown Road, Carnegie, was established in 1861 when President Abraham Lincoln was in office. There is a Civil War memorial on the grounds, and many Civil War veterans rest here. It covers 86 acres and includes a large veterans section and a baby section.

The land for Greentree Cemetery on Greentree Road in Green Tree was purchased in 1873 by the German United Evangelical Congregation in Temperanceville (now called the West End section of Pittsburgh).

Located in Collier Township is the former First German Evangelical Cemetery on John Drive and Noblestown Road. Also known as Bethany Cemetery, it is now overseen by St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church of Carnegie.

Also in Collier is St. Barbara Roman Catholic Cemetery, Prestley Road, Bridgeville. Its original one acre of land was purchased from Louis Lebo in December 1895. In 1973, additional property was purchased with a 50-foot illuminated cross being erected at the top of the cemetery in May 1975. To this day, the cross can be seen for miles in all directions.

Robinson Run Cemetery is located on Robinson Run Road, South Fayette Township. The Robinson Run Presbyterian Church began there in 1790, with the latest version of the church being demolished by a big storm in 1902. A soldier's monument is noticeable from the road, erected at the Old Hill Church (as the cemetery was known) in 1907 by members of Lt. S. M. Adams Post No. 330 of the Grand Army of the Republic in Pennsylvania. There are 13 Revolutionary War veterans, 52 Civil War veterans, more than 200 World War I veterans and many veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War buried here.

Melrose Cemetery on Washington Pike in South Fayette received its charter in 1884. One marker is of a deceased man who lived on Baldwin Street and operated a hotel there. The year before he died, he visited Italy where his brother took a picture of him. The brother carved an exact likeness of him in marble, even down to the pen and pencil set in his coat pocket, and sent it to Melrose Cemetery to be placed at the head of his grave. It is one of the few statues in the cemetery.

A few blocks away on Washington Pike is St. Agatha Roman Catholic Cemetery, now overseen by Holy Child Parish of Bridgeville.

St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cemetery is a block away on the same street.

Bethany Cemetery is on Presto-Sygan Road, South Fayette, at the site of the First Bethany Meeting House that was built in 1815. It still is owned and maintained by Bethany Presbyterian Church of Bridgeville and is bounded by an old stone wall. Revolutionary War veteran Frederick Lesnett is buried here. He died in 1830 at age 72. Also in a corner of the cemetery is a headstone with the inscription “Unknown Colored Civil War Soldier.” Bethany burials took place here between 1814 and 1943.

Oakdale Cemetery, off Union Avenue in South Fayette, opened in 1892 and is the final resting place of Rev. John Wilson McCleland, founder of the Boys' Industrial Home of Western Pennsylvania. This home for troubled boys operated for nearly 70 years in South Fayette before closing in 1972 and eventually becoming the site of Boys' Home Park. Prominent in the cemetery is a large four-sided monument reads: “Erected by the Aetna Chemical Company, in memory of those employees who died in the explosion at the Oakdale plant, May 18, 1918. Their lives were devoted to the manufacture of materials necessary to the United States in the prosecution of the war against Germany. Like soldiers, they died in their country's service. The identified repose in this place.”

Old German Cemetery is located on nearby Union Avenue Extension, South Fayette. A band of German Lutherans originally wanted to build a church on the property in 1900. Although they ran out of money and the church never was built, a small cemetery remains. A significant section is set aside to honor members of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). Founded in 1886 by Benjamin E. Stephenson, the GAR was formed to provide care to Civil War widows and orphans. GAR Commander John A. Logan issued an order in 1868 calling members to set aside May 30 as a day to remember fallen comrades, thereby beginning the celebration known as Memorial Day.

The tiny fenced-in cemetery at Fairview Park, South Fayette, remains from when the property was owned by Mayview State Hospital. The cemetery operated between 1913 and 1918. It is unknown how many residents were buried during that time as records were not well kept. There are presently 28 grave markers. These were considered “paupers' graves” and coffins were not used.

Charlotte Smith is a Tribune-Review contributing writer. Reach her at 724-693-9441 or charlotte59@comcast.net.

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