GREAT NEWS! Ken Girty, direct descendant of Thomas Girty and a dedicated researcher of Girty family history, will come to Mary S. Brown-Ames Church on Sunday, April 13, 2014, at 12:30. Everyone is invited to come to hear him talk about the turbulent events that involved the Girty family in the 1700s.  If you plan to come, please check this site for updates in case the event is cancelled.


Mary S. Brown Memorial-Ames United Methodist Church and Turner Cemetery are located at 3424 Beechwood Boulevard, right on the border between the Squirrel Hill and Greenfield neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, PA 15217. Click on the “About” link for contact information.

The Fifth Annual Turner Cemetery History Walk, held on Saturday, October 26, 2013, was a huge success. Our speaker, Dr. Elisabeth Roark, Associate Professor, Chatham University gave an excellent talk, “Steel City Cemeteries: Turner Cemetery in Context,” showing where Turner Cemetery fits on the timeline of burial practices in Pittsburgh. Dr. Roark is well known for her extensive knowledge of Pittsburgh’s history, and she has been researching the development of the city’s cemeteries.

Other activities at the History Walk were self-guided tours of the cemetery, historical displays, a re-enactors camp, and a hot soup and cool treats sale in the church meeting hall. And for a change, the weather was good! No snow this time.

We received the results of the Mercyhurst study of Turner Cemetery. As expected, the fluxgate gradiometer (magnetometer) scans showed anomalies that could mean burials, and, also as expected, most of the anomalies did not correspond to the present locations of the tombstones, since we knew they were moved around through the years. We are hoping Mercyhurst returns to study the upper half of the half-acre graveyard. We are also trying to find a way to have ground-penetrating radar scans done, which are more accurate. We have no plans to do any excavations in the graveyard. We would just like to mark the graves to honor those buried there.

Click on this link for the Turner-Mercyhurst Press Release.

Click on this link to see the article about the Mercyhurst study that appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on May 6, 2013.

Here is some general information about the Turner Cemetery/Mary S. Brown-Ames Historical Site.

Turner Cemetery and Mary S. Brown Memorial-Ames United Methodist Church are located at 3424 Beechwood Boulevard on the border between the Squirrel Hill and Greenfield neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. The Turner Cemetery/Mary S. Brown-Ames Historical Committee (TC/MSBA) is researching the site because of its historical and genealogical importance. The cemetery dates to 1785 and provides information about many of the earliest settlers of Squirrel Hill. The adjacent church was built in 1908, but several churches preceded it on the same plot of land.

The churches on the site have been known by various names, which are listed on the page about the church. Click on the MSBA Church tab to go to that page. The present church, now known as Mary S. Brown Memorial-Ames United Methodist Church, was originally named Mary S. Brown Memorial Chapel.

The purpose of this website is to disseminate information about the cemetery and church, collect additional information, enable correspondence among interested people, and work toward preserving the site for the future.

So what makes this site so important? The short answer is that the cemetery and church, taken together, form a strand of Pittsburgh’s history extending from the area’s earliest days to the present and relating to every part of it.  The cemetery and church have ties to Native American prehistory, the settlement of the area by colonists from Europe, the first wars fought by the new United States, the Civil War, industrialization, urbanization and, since the church is still a living ministry, events spanning the 20th century. We’re now into our third century at the same location!

Today the cemetery and church site now faces the dilemma of being a priceless treasure in need of restoration and conservation.

6 Responses to Home

  1. Jeff Ebdy says:

    An excellent well planned, easy to navigate, informative site..really enjoyed it…didn’t realise Simon
    Girty was connected..I’d read about him..a graphic novel by a Pa.native called Wilderness. Thankyou!

    • Helen Wilson says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Jeff. I’d like to tell readers that Jeff has a connection to Turner Cemetery. The last known person to be buried there was Edward Schenley Ebdy in 1880. The family later went back to England. Edward’s father was Charles Ebdy, a Civil War veteran who is buried in the GAR section of Homewood Cemetery.

      • admin says:

        I just added a link to well-known Greenfield historian Anita Kulina Smith’s e-book “In the Footsteps of Renegades” that has information about Simon Girty and the Girty/Turner family. It’s an interesting read with lots of illustrations.

  2. Ashley says:

    I really enjoyed the Turner Cemetery History Walk today. I just wanted to mention that one of your signs said that the closest maintained Native American burial mound is in Moundsville, WV, but the Hodgen’s Cemetery Mound in Tiltonsville, OH is actually closer. Worth checking out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hodgen's_Cemetery_Mound

  3. Bob McGowan says:

    I am descended from Mary Newton Girty Turner via her son Thomas Girty (my great x 5 grandfather). Have any of the recent studies located the grave of Mary Turner?

    • admin says:

      The only study I am aware of is the fluxgate gradiometer scan done in 2013 by a Mercyhurst University student. The scan shows several possible graves in the area where Mary Girty is traditionally believed to be buried. We have no way of knowing which, if any, of them is her grave. It would be interesting to find out, but that would involve digging, DNA sampling and possibly other archeological techniques, which we have no plans to do.
      We would like to get a more detailed ground-penetrating radar scan of the graveyard, but right now we don’t have the funds to do so. That kind of scan would be more exact and detailed.

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