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Tales from the Crypt

It’s almost Halloween, and what better time to explore Pittsburgh’s oldest cemetery. Allegheny Cemetery was founded in 1844. The grounds are 300 acres and boasts an astounding 15 miles of roadways. Allegheny is the sleeping place of many prominent Pittsburghers. The oldest graves are some of those whom fought in the French and Indian War.

Some notables whom are buried here are Jane Swisshelm. Jane Swisshelm was an abolitionist, journalist, and women’s rights activist. Swisshelm Park is a Pittsburgh neighborhood that was named after Jane Swisshelm. Josh Gibson is buried here. He played for the Pittsburgh Gray’s. He was considered the best baseball player alive. He never got to play in the major leagues because he was black. Josh died 3 months before Jackie Robinson made his major league debut.

There is sadness on these grounds. The remains of the 54 victims of the Allegheny Arsenal explosion are buried here, they were never identified. Allegheny Cemetery is also home to many unknown U.S. Soldiers. The ones that I saw seemed to be from WWI from what I could tell.

One of the more bizarre stories is that of Harry Kendall Thaw. Thaw suffered from mental illness all his life. He was born into wealth. He spent his wealth foolishly on parties and drug addictions. Although he did attend Harvard. He got in on his family name. Thaw is best known for the murder of Standford White on top of Madison Square Garden in NY. White was the lover of Thaw’s wife…Evelyn Nesbit. Thaw persuaded Nesbit to marry him even though she was in love with someone else, that someone else being Standford White. Thaw went on trial, and pleaded insanity. He was given two trials, and was sentenced. Nesbit, testifying at both. It was said that she was paid off by the family in return for a favorable outcome. After trial Thaw was committed to Matteawan State Hospital in NY. He escaped in 1913, and pronounced free and clear of all charges in 1915. He died in 1947 and is buried in Allegheny Cemetery.

I didn’t specifically go looking for anyone’s grave in particular. This visit I wanted to focus on the beauty of the grounds and the headstones, mausoleums. There is so much more to explore. This cemetery is huge, there is no way to see all in one go. I’m planning another trip soonish. It’s a beautiful landscape, with its share of wildlife, ducks, geese, dear, owls, migrant birds, and such.

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