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150 years is a long time! That's 54,750
days! Not too many things can lay claim to the fact that they've
survived 150 years. In this case, "survived" is an accurate,
yet ironic choice of words, as in the year 2009, Grove Cemetery
Inc., in New Brighton, PA, will celebrate its
Founded in 1859, and having served the community
for 150 years is quite an accomplishment that speaks for its self
as far as longevity is concerned. Let's think back... what was
happening in the year 1859, let's see... James Buchanan was the
President of the United States; Abraham Lincoln still had two
more years before he would see the Presidency, and the Civil War
hadn't yet happened; Big Ben, the famous clock at the House of
Parliament in London, was first activated in 1859; Ground was
broken for the brand new Suez Canal; George Ferris, inventor of
the Ferris Wheel, and Billy the Kid, were both born in 1859; John
Brown, the noted abolitionist, was hanged at Charles Town, WV;
Charles Blondin was the first to cross Niagara Fall on a tightrope,
and the first successful American oil well was drilled in Titusville,
...Oh yeah ...and Grove Cemetery was founded ...in 1859.
In the late 1850's, burial space in the
New Brighton area had become scarce, as the cemeteries in that
area were nearing capacity. This lack of burial space resulted
in a preliminary meeting of concerned citizens, at which the establishment
of a new cemetery was discussed. A committee was appointed with
the intention of seeking out possible sites for the purchase and
improvement of suitable grounds on which a cemetery could be erected.
This meeting was held on July 12, 1858, with the Reverend Joseph
Taylor, Rector of the Christ Episcopal Church, as Chairman, and
R.E. Hoopes, as secretary.
At the second preliminary meeting, the committee
presented the results of their findings, but as further examination
and consideration was needed, they were instructed to continue
After a series of preliminary meetings,
the committee gathered on August 21, 1858, where they presented
their findings on an attractive 32-acre tract of land that adjoined
Blockhouse Run. This tract was owned by Silas Merrick and John
Miner, two local entrepreneurs who had ventured into the "bucket
and tub" business. The natural beauty of this parcel, combined
with proper drainage, good accessibility and best of all, a reasonable
price, was found to be satisfactory to the committee, so at that
same meeting of August 21, 1858, the committee formed an organization
that was known as the "New Brighton Cemetery Association".
This new association then adopted a listing of Articles of Association,
which placed them in position to move forward with the purchase
of the land. Most of the purchase price was raised by subscription.
The committee held meetings regularly for
about six months, after which, a charter was drawn up under the
name of Grove Cemetery. This charter was then presented for approval
to the General Assembly of Pennsylvania, and on March 19, 1859,
Grove Cemetery was incorporated by an act of the Legislature.
A deed was made, and by September 20, improvements had commenced
on the land in order to make it suitable for a burial ground,
including an access road that crossed over Blockhouse Run.
Grove Cemetery had 21 original charter members,
they were; Joseph P. Taylor, Benjamin Rush Bradford, William Penn
Townsend, Edward Hoopes, William Ely, J.W. Wilson, Henry T. Reeves,
R.E. Hoopes, Benjamin Wilde, James Duncan, M. Gilliland, B.B.
Chamberlain, John Cuthbertson, Thomas B. Wells, Isaac Winans,
Edward Warner, George S. Barker, Charles Lukens, E.J. Henry, B.C.
Critchlow and John Miner. From this board, seven managers were
chosen with William Penn Townsend named as President, George S.
Barker, Secretary and M. Gilliland, Treasurer.
This new burial ground was dedicated as
Grove Cemetery on October 13, 1859, with between two hundred to
three hundred people in attendance. Rev. B.C. Critchlow, of the
Presbyterian Church, recited the opening prayer; Rev. Joseph P.
Taylor was the main speaker and Rev. William Reeves, of the M.P.
Church, gave the benediction. After the ceremonies, the managers
offered lots in section A on sale, but no bids were taken. They
then proceeded to Section F, where spirited bidding took place
for these choice lots, The managers received about $120 in premiums,
selling about 40 lots.
On October 20, 1859, the first interment
was made at Grove Cemetery. James Magaw, the owner of a 160-acre
farm in North Sewickley Twp., had passed over to meet his Lord
and Savior. James was buried high upon the hill in Section E,
where a breath-taking view of the middle and lower falls area
of New Brighton could be taken in. Because of this view, Section
E and F contained some of the choicest burial plots in the cemetery.
Families such as the Merrick's, the Miner's, the Townsend's, the
Rush's, the Sourbeck's and the Reeves' all purchased plots in
In 1860, more land was purchased on the west side of Blockhouse Run for the purpose of creating a new road. This property sat between the current Allegheny Street and the entrance of the cemetery. For many years, it was known as Cemetery Lane, but was later turned over to the Borough of New Brighton. This road is now called Grove Avenue.
Upon the opening of Grove Cemetery in 1859,
many families had the foresight to have their deceased re-interred
from the crowded burial grounds of New Brighton, into the new
and spacious Grove Cemetery. These old burial grounds were to
eventually be converted to industrial and residential neighborhoods,
which in turn, forced the removal of theinterred. When the Standard
Horse Nail building in Fallston burned down in February 1886,
the Merrick family purchased the old Quaker Meeting House in New
Brighton as a new location for the company. When the land was
purchased, the new owners were to remove the bodies that were
interred there; these were re-interred into Grove Cemetery. There
is an entry in the records at Grove Cemetery dated November 20,
1890, which includes 108 bodies removed from Friends burial ground.
The opening of Grove Cemetery also had an
ill effect on the old Presbyterian cemetery, which was located
at the intersection of 14th Street and Penn Avenue. The many early
re-interments into Grove Cemetery, combined with a lack of burials
had caused it to become abandoned and rundown, and many of the
neighbors complained that the place had become nothing more than
a nuisance. In 1891, a quitclaim deed was finally secured by the
First Presbyterian Church, which gave them full ownership of the
property. A mass re-interment took place not long after. An entry
in the records of Grove Cemetery, dated May 22, 1894, states 403
remains in boxes placed on the south side of the Presbyterian
purchased lots. These remains are burial numbers 3694 through
There are many, many entries in the records of Grove Cemetery for re-interments from both the Friend's burial ground, and the old Presbyterian cemetery dated between 1859 and the 1890's. A common stone has been placed in Section A, which reads: "This memorial is raised to honor the memory of early Christians who slept in the old Presbyterian graveyard on Penn Ave. Those who rest here testify to the early Presbyterian and Quaker strength of this community".
A meeting was held on October 24, 1861,
which presented the first reference to the Civil War. A motion
was made to set apart "Lot 24, Section A", and the grounds
adjoining thereto, to be used for burials, free of charge, for
the volunteers from Beaver County, who may die or be killed in
the service of the present war.
Also in 1861, Edward Dempster Merrick, through
the proceeds of the Philharmonic Society, presented $50 for the
purchase and installation of a soldier's monument. After the passing
of a several years, the monument was finally erected in 1883.
On Decoration Day, May 30, 1883, the whole
town of New Brighton closed its doors to business, and the merchants
and citizens of the vicinity focused their attention to the veterans
of their community with the unveiling and dedication of the Soldiers
Monument at Grove Cemetery. The high level of local post-war patriotism
during this era made possible the collection of funds for the
erection and dedication of this monument on that so befitting
The soldiers, whose names are engraved on
the monument, are not buried in Grove Cemetery, even though they
are local soldiers. These men didn't come home. Some sleep where
they fell on the battlefield. Others rest in National cemeteries,
southern prison graveyards or may be buried as unknown southern
trench burials. These local soldiers, also, did not necessarily
fight or die in the battles that are engraved on the four sides
of the monument, being: Gettysburg, Antietam, Chancellorsville
and Appomattox. To etch the names of significant battles into
the sides of Civil War memorials was the trend of the era, even
though the local soldiers may have not participated.
The granite portion of the Civil War monument
at Grove Cemetery was manufactured by R.F. Carter of South Ryegate,
Vermont, and is made of Ryegate granite. The column is 21 feet
tall, and weighs over 5 tons. A representative from R.F. Carter
came to Grove Cemetery to assist in the erection of the granite
column. Grove Cemetery furnished the stone for the base of the
monument, which is 7 feet square, and at one time was surrounded
by a nice concrete walkway. The cemetery also made the
excavation and built the foundation for the monument. While transporting a portion of the column to the cemetery, Dixon and Molter, the haulers, broke through the bridge on the cemetery road, but no serious damage was done.
The soldier statue was 7 feet high and was
manufactured by J.W. Fiske, of 21823 Barclay St., New York. It
was made of zinc, as were many memorial statues of the day. Zinc
soldier statues were cast in many pieces, and then attached to
a metal sub-frame underneath, resulting in a
finished statue when all the pieces were joined together. Different finishes were available for zinc statues, a couple of them being a faux bronze or a faux granite finish.
Zinc has a tendency to "creep upon
itself" and as a result, the
soldier statue had become so unstable that he was deemed unsafe.
Therefore, sometime between the 1970's and 80's, he was taken down. The Civil War monument still has no soldier statue on top to this day.
Grove Cemetery is the final resting place
of numerous abolitionists and conductors from the Underground
Railroad. They hid, housed and fed the long-suffering slaves of
the South, and contributed to their safe passage to Canada, where
freedom would eventually be gained. The New Brighton Quakers (and
many others) were the abolitionists and
conductors of the local Underground Railroad, and subjected themselves and their properties to possible injury, loss and/or fines due to their strong moral belief. The "Fugitive Slave Law", which was passed in 1850, provided a penalty of $1000 to anyone aiding in a slaves escape, and required Federal agents to find escaped slaves in the North, and return them to their owners in the South.
Below is a very small list of the many families
and individuals, who contributed to this moral cause, and chose
Grove Cemetery as the location where dust returns to dust:
* The Townsend family. Milo Townsend had
played a big part in the logistics and planning of many anti-slavery
rallies, was a leading abolitionist and had been in correspondence
with Frederick Douglass. He wrote letters to President Lincoln
urging the passing of an emancipation of the slaves, which did
eventually happen. Milo Townsend was one of New Brighton's leading
abolitionists, and is buried in Grove Cemetery. Robert, Benjamin
and William Penn Townsend, along with many other Townsend's, were
also deeply involved within the Underground Railroad. All of these Townsend's are buried in Grove Cemetery.
* The Clarke family. Sarah Jane Clarke lived
in New Brighton, with her parents Thaddeus and Deborah Baker Clarke.
Thaddeus was the great-nephew of Jonathon Edwards, President of
Princeton University. Sarah Jane was a correspondent for the New
York Times, and was the first American correspondent in Europe.
She also wrote poems and articles for many different magazines,
and was the author of a series of children's books. She wrote
under the pen name of Grace Greenwood, and later married into
the Lippincott Publishing family of Philadelphia. Sarah, now known
as Grace, had began writing and lecturing on abolition, as she
had long been interested in the anti-slavery movement, and when
William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglas lectured at New Brighton
in August of 1847, they visited with the Clarke's. During the
Civil War, she supported the North's cause by helping to raise
money and lecturing on patriotic themes. She lived in Washington,
D.C., continuing to write for the New York Times and other newspapers
and contributing to the Ladies' Home Journal. Her reports from
Washington so helped the Northern cause, that President Lincoln
called her "the little patriot". Sarah Jane Clarke is buried in Grove Cemetery, along with her parents and her brother, Charles Clarke, who was a soldier in the Civil War, and later a Major in the U.S. Army.
* Timothy Balderson White. Timothy White
owned a planing mill, and a sash and door factory, on the canal
in New Brighton. It was Timothy who completed the unfinished Merrick
House (hotel) in 1851, and also built the Beaver County jail,
in Beaver, in 1856. He began production of wooden bridges, but
switched to iron bridges in 1868, and built the first iron bridge
in Beaver County. Timothy B. White belonged to the Society of
Friends, and was such an extreme abolitionist that he refused
to vote until 1856, when Abraham Lincoln became a candidate for
the Presidency. His home was used as a station on the Underground
Railroad, and he helped many run-away slaves who were on their
way to Canada. Timothy White and John Collins, at the insistence
of the Anti-Slavery Committee, went to
Kentucky and rescued two black youths who were kidnapped while on their way to freedom. One of these youths was named Lem Dawson, who was familiarly known as "Lemmons". Timothy made his home in New Brighton, and is buried in Grove Cemetery, as is "Lem" Dawson.
* Dr.David Stanton. In 1850, David graduated
from the Western Reserve Medical College in Cleveland, and then
returned to New Brighton to begin practice. Dr. Stanton hated
slavery, and later enlisted in the Civil War. The Governor appointed
him as Surgeon of the First Pennsylvania Cavalry. In accordance
with his outstanding performance, the President appointed him
Surgeon of the United Volunteers on February 28, 1863. After several
other official appointments, each increasing in responsibility,
he was stationed at Detroit, and made the "Acting Medical
Director of the Northern Department of the Ohio" in November
1865. He was brevetted by the President, to Lieutenant Colonel
in 1865, and to Colonel in 1866.
As a part of the Underground Railroad, Dr.
David Stanton took in fugitive slaves who were sick or injured,
sometimes keeping them for days until they were healed and feeling
better. In October 1871, David was elected Auditor General of
Pennsylvania, but died less than a month later of a short illness
in New Brighton. Dr. David Stanton is buried in Grove Cemetery.
The list of people who were involved in
the Underground Railroad, and are buried at Grove Cemetery, could
go on and on. They symbolize the moral value that the local citizens
of that time placed on life, and would gallantly place their lives
and families in jeopardy, that others could have a better way
To Be Continued