Robert Long Tombstone, Bethel Cemetery

IN MEMORY OF
ROBERT LONG
Who departed this life
August 1st 1832 aged 60
years.
Go home dear friends
And cease from tears.
Here I must lie
Till Christ appears.


W. Savage, Sculptor, Williamsport.

We have seen another pair of tombstones in a similar style in the Bethany Cemetery near Bridgeville: the tombstones of Billingsley Morgan and his (illegible) wife, which were signed by H. Savage. Was H. Savage a brother or other relative of W. Savage? And if “Williamsport” means the only Williamsport Father Pitt knows of in Pennsylvania, then this stone was hauled across the mountains, which must have been quite expensive. Perhaps there was no one in the immediate area who could carve a stone of this quality in 1832—for it certainly is a splendid piece of folk art, well worth the trouble of hauling in from Williamsport.

—An update: Father Pitt has to confess his ignorance sometimes. Williamsport, he has discovered, was the name of the town that is now called Monongahela. The name is remembered in the Williamsport Road, which leaves Elizabeth and heads straight for Monongahela before changing its name to Rostosky Ridge Road, which is probably not the early settlers’ name for the trail, about two-thirds of the way along.

The Inverted Torch

Since Roman times, the inverted torch has been a symbol of death. Here are two examples from the Smithfield East End Cemetery, in both of which we note that the torch keeps burning upside-down in a most unlikely manner. Both couples have German names, both were probably members of the same Reformed congregation, and the stones are nearly contemporary and side by side; but we note that one of them is English and one is German—an indication of how thoroughly bilingual the more prosperous parts of the German community in Pittsburgh were at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Morgan Tombstones, Bethany Cemetery

In Memory of
BILLINGSLEY MORGAN
Who departed this life
[Marc]h the 7th 1836
[in the —]th year of his age

Here is a pair of tombstones by the same extraordinary folk artist—and, because he actually signed one of them, we know his name: H. Savage. Both are badly damaged, but they form a pair side by side, so old Pa Pitt guesses that the illegible stone marks the resting place of Mrs. Billingsley Morgan. Unlike most Western Pennsylvania tombstones of the 1830s, these are handsomely carved in relief, much like the famous New England tombstones of the colonial era, but without the flying skulls.

Even this unusually artistic and ambitious stonecutter did not sketch out his lettering before beginning the inscription, so that he ran out of space for the name “MORGAN” on Billingsley Morgan’s tombstone.