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The Cemetery Trail  

Along the River Bed

by: Eric Miller

Cemeteries are like books with magnificent stories to tell, but some tributes to our ancestors can be found in the most unusual places. The Cemetery Trail  this month brings us to west bank of the Allegheny River near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

During certain months of the year, a rock breaks through the water surface and reveals part of an inscription, most of which is buried below. When the water is still, the complete inscription is revealed, complete with spelling errors. "James Law was droned here 1898, 10 years old."

Records from a local cemetery confirm that James Law did drown in the river and was buried in a section known oddly as "Strangers' Ground." This could signify that Law did not actially live in the area. Perhaps the Law family was visiting when the boy drowned.

Further inspection into young John's records revealled there was a month lag between his death and burial. This raises still more questions. Did his family have a distance to travel for the burial? Or was the body lost for a time and discovered and buried later? Was is during this time that his name was carved in the rock?

We'll probably never know. In contrast, inscribed for astronomer and lens cutter John Brashear near his tomb inside the Allegheny Observatory are the words, "We have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night."

Please visit with us next month as we make another stop along The Cemetery Trail.

Return to the Cemetery Trail home page


Eric Miller writes frequently on urban issues and lives in San Francisco. He is the webmaster of http://home.earthlink.net/~urbancentury and is a partner in the soon to launch New Colonist (newcolonist.com), a web publication for urban residents. His articles have appeared in San Francisco Downtown, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and other publications. He can be reached by e-mail at urbancentury@yahoo.com.



Copyright © 2000 Eric Miller All rights reserved. This information is being posted on this site with permission from the author. (Permission granted 3/15/2000)


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