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.
We are gearing up for our Sixth Annual Turner Cemetery History Walk. The date will be Saturday, October 25, 2014. We will again put informational posters in the graveyard for a self-guided tour, sell our scrumptious soups and desserts, and have displays illustrating the history of the site. We are also planning to have re-enactors come. The featured speaker will be me this time. I’ve been doing a lot of research on the history of the area around the church and graveyard and have presented talks about it to various local organizations in my capacity as vice-president of the Squirrel Hill Historical Society. Now it’s time to bring it home to where it all started! My presentation, “The Early History of Squirrel Hill,” will begin at 11:30 in the Fellowship hall of the church.
This past spring Ken Girty, descendant of Simon Girty’s brother Thomas, visited the cemetery and gave a talk in the church community room about his family’s turbulent history. Unlike Simon, George and James, Thomas remained loyal to the United States during the Revolutionary War. After the war he moved a bit north and established a trading post at Girty’s Run, buying land and eventually owning most of what is now Oakmont. The Girtys were half-brothers to John Turner.
A few weeks after his visit, Ken Girty invited the North Hills Past Finders to come to Turner Graveyard with an assortment of metal detectors to examine the graveyard for artifacts. The major find was an ax and possibly a chisel dated to between 1850-1860. Several churches were built on the site beginning in 1842, so it is possible the tools were used to build or maintain one of the structures.
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.