Category Archives: Smithfield East End Cemetery

Mostly German Reformed residents here; not as spectacularly rich as the Homewood Cemetery across the street, but with some tasteful and evocative monuments. This is the third location for this cemetery, which was affiliated with the Smithfield Church downtown. It began on Smithfield Street, then moved to Troy Hill in 1860, and then to Squirrel Hill in 1886. In 2002, the church handed it over to the Homewood Cemetery, which continues to manage it as a more or less separate entity.

The Inverted Torch

Since Roman times, the inverted torch has been a symbol of death. Here are two examples from the Smithfield East End Cemetery, in both of which we note that the torch keeps burning upside-down in a most unlikely manner. Both couples have German names, both were probably members of the same Reformed congregation, and the stones are nearly contemporary and side by side; but we note that one of them is English and one is German—an indication of how thoroughly bilingual the more prosperous parts of the German community in Pittsburgh were at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Kaiser Monument, Smithfield East End Cemetery

This statue, a flower-strewing mourner, shares the common fate of marble in city cemeteries, eroding into picturesque featurelessness. Catherine Kaiser died in 1865, and David in 1869; if they were buried in the Smithfield Cemetery, they would have been buried in the Troy Hill location (where the cemetery was located from 1860 to 1886) and moved here when the cemetery moved. The marble statue might date from that time, with a granite pedestal put under it when it was moved here.

Reverend Charles Walther Monument, Smithfield East End Cemetery

This octagonal shaft includes a very unusual portrait head of the Rev. Mr. Walther, along with an open book on which there is an inscription that Father Pitt could not quite read. The date of birth appears to be 1784, but old Pa Pitt could not make out the date of death. The style of the monument is of the 1860s or so, and one suspects that this is one of the monuments moved here when the cemetery moved from Troy Hill. (The Smithfield Cemetery was originally downtown; it moved to Troy Hill in 1860 and to its final home in 1886—thus the name “Smithfield East End Cemetery,” to distinguish this location from its former locations.)

Kleinschmidt Monument, Smithfield East End Cemetery

The Smithfield East End cemetery is very well maintained (it is now owned by the Homewood Cemetery across the street), but for some reason a couple of monuments on the far east side of it are overrun with vines. In this November picture, most of the leaves have fallen, and we can see more of the monument. The leaves that remain are picturesquely colorful.

Vorwerck Mausoleum, Smithfield East End Cemetery

 

A small but tasteful mid-twentieth-century mausoleum, probably a dealer’s stock model. The doors and the carved relief are pleasingly decorative; but there was something about mausoleums in this era that made them look a little like federal office buildings. Or perhaps we should say that there was something about federal office buildings that made them look like mausoleums.

The only Vorwerck mentioned in the cemetery records is Martha Vorwerck, who died in 1945. She was buried three days after her death, so (assuming this is her resting place) this mausoleum was probably put up while she was still alive.