Where are all the bodies?

This was a question posed by Diana Nelson Jones in her City Walkabout blog.  When she was looking at the maps on the Pittviewer site, one of the first questions was about the old graveyards and cemeteries that seem to suddenly vanish over time.  Great question!  Where did all of the bodies go??  Let’s take a look at some of those sites.

“Oakland” Cemetery  [see it on the map]

Oakland Cemetery

The First German Evangelical-Lutheran Cemetery was the official name for the cemetery located between Allequippa, Morgan and Berthoud streets in Oakland.  It was locally called the Oakland Cemetery and even appears as such on some of the Hopkins maps.

Oakland Cemetery in 1904

“That property was purchased as the highest point on the then eastern boundary of the city so that our blessed dead might await the resurrection and be the first in the city to see the return of our Lord. The cemetery dates prior to 1847 when Pastor Godfrey Jensen died on February 19 of that year and was interred in “our Oakland cemetery” according to the church history. That cemetery was used solely by our congregation and was not a public cemetery up until the sale of the property c. 1962.”

Pastor Spittel, September, 2002 

In 1962, the land was sold to the University of Pittsburgh and the graves were-interred to the Oakland section of the Mount Royal Cemetery in Shaler Township.

Boyd’s Hill cemetery   [see it on the map]

Boyd's Hill Cemetery 1872

This cemetery was located next to Mercy hospital on the intersection of Stevenson and Locust Avenues.  This was one of a few cemeteries in the city for St. Mary’s Catholic Church.  However, with the city growing rapidly, there became need to expand and the church purchased land in Lawenceville that became St. Mary’s Cemetery.  Over time, as the hospital grew, all of the graves were transferred over to St. Mary’s.  As of 2008, there have been 100,298 interments in St. Mary’s.

The Forbes Public School was built on part of that cemetery in 1855.  According to the Historic Pittsburgh site: The school was built in 1855 and was closed in October 1973 when it was sold to Mercy Hospital. The third floor of Forbes School was given over to the Adult and Immigrant School. This school, the only day school of its kind in western Pennsylvania, had 175 students from 28 countries and seven teachers. In 1974 the school was razed to make way for a parking garage for Mercy Hospital.

Forbes Public School

Lincoln Memorial Cemetery     [see it on the map]

This cemetery was located in a predominately African-American area in Pittsburgh and on some of the old maps is labeled as a Colored Cemetery.  In 1933, part of the grounds were closed to make way for Greenlee Field, which became home to the Pittsburgh Crawfords, one of the best negro league teams in the 1930s which included hall of famers Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson.  The field and the cemetery were closed in 1938 to make way for the new Bedford Dwellings.

This was the first project created by the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh (HACP). The HACP grew from the U.S. Housing Act signed in 1937 and was the first housing authority in both Pennsylvania and the country. Remains from this cemetery were reinterred to Woodlawn Cemetery on Penn Ave in Wilkinsburg in 1938.

Lincoln Cemetery marker