Thomas and Jennet McNary Grave, Oak Spring Cemetery

An elevated slab for a Revolutionary War veteran and his wife. The two inscriptions were certainly done by the same craftsman, but from subtle differences in the thicknesses and forms of the letters it looks as though they may have been done at different times, suggesting that Jennet’s was added to Thomas’ already existing stone.

Memory of
Who departed this life on the
9th of July A.D. 1820 in the 76th
year of his age.

Memory of
Consort of
Who departed this life on the
15th of April A.D. 1828 in the 84th
year of her age.

White Family Plot, Oak Spring Cemetery

Oak Spring Cemetery in Canonsburg has a number of slab stones elevated into table-like structures—an arrangement common in some old cemeteries. Obviously the props under these stones are newer than the stones, but they may have replaced older ones that were original. Old Pa Pitt simply doesn’t know whether these slab stones were always elevated or whether graveyard caretakers elevated them later, when they began to vanish under the ground.

to the
Who departed this life
May 12th 1837, In the
82nd year of his

Samuel White, Sr. was a veteran of the Revolutionary War. He married a considerably younger woman named Mary:

to the
wife of
JUNE 12th, 1841 in the
76th year of her age.

In the short time between the death of Samuel in 1837 and the death of Mary in 1841, a new fashion in tombstones had swept over Western Pennsylvania. Samuel’s is a simple slab stone of the sort that had been made here since the late 1700s, but Mary’s is in what Father Pitt calls the “poster style,” with each line in a different style of lettering, like an advertising poster of the same era.

Gutbub-Guttbub-Goodboy Plot, Zion Cemetery

Here in Zion Cemetery, Whitehall, is an interesting document in the German-American immigrant experience.

George and Sophia (Klotz) Gutbub had a number of children who did not survive to adulthood, all buried in a row in the family plot. Those children all died with the name Gutbub—but their father did not.

In 1896, Sophia died as well, and was buried under the spelling “Guttbub”:

George later married a much younger woman, and at some point they decided that “Gutbub” was entirely too German. Father Pitt suspects that point may have come during the First World War, when some German-American families had good reason to fear for their lives.

So they Anglicized their name to “Goodboy,” and the name has stuck with their family ever since.

The plot is still in use, and all subsequent burials bear the name Goodboy. And, as you see in the picture at the top of this article, the family monument has had “Goodboy” added at the bottom, so that all the Gutbubs become Goodboys retroactively.

Thus the story of one family becomes the story of the Americanization of the Germans in America, who are America’s largest, but arguably America’s least visible, immigrant group.