Whole books have been written about the four Girty brothers, Thomas, Simon, James and George. John Turner was their younger half-brother. His mother, Mary Newton Girty, had married John Turner Sr. after Simon Girty Sr. was murdered. The family was captured by Indians in 1756. They murdered John Turner Sr. and separated the other family members. Thomas managed to escape, but the others were captives of the Indians for several years.

When political events mandated that the Indians return their white captives, Mary was able to reunite her five sons. The family moved to Squirrel Hill and blazed a claim to over 100 acres of land to farm. Then the Revolutionary War began. The three younger Girty boys, Simon, James and George decided to fight on the side of the British. Of the three, Simon Girty was feared most by the colonists as a cruel and violent enemy. After the war, the three brothers dared not return home to Squirrel Hill, so John Turner inherited the family farm.

Thomas Girty, the oldest brother, remained loyal to the American cause. After the war he moved north of Pittsburgh to Butler. His wife, Ann Emmons Girty, was branded a witch and murdered by an intruder in her cabin. Thomas later opened a trading post along Girty’s Run, north of Pittsburgh near what is now McKnight Road.

The James Girty who is listed as having been buried in Turner Cemetery in 1853 was moved to Section 17 of Allegheny Cemetery on Nov. 10, 1898. Many Girtys were moved to or buried in that section in the second half of the 1800s. The TC/MSBA Historical Committee has not yet researched how this James Girty is related to the four Girty brothers of the previous generation.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *