Category Archives: St. Clair Cemetery

Originally a churchyard where early settlers were buried, and worth visiting for their locally cut stones. Later it expanded (though it is still quite small) into something of a proper nineteenth-century cemetery, with family burial plots and elegant monuments.

Master of the Italic Dates

Father Pitt is being a little facetious in bestowing the title “master” on this particular craftsman. He is not exceptionally good. We name him, as usual, from a readily identified feature of his style: he always carves the date in italic letters. And it is interesting to see his work in two different cemeteries, fairly far apart. Above, John Frew’s tombstone in the St. Clair Cemetery, Mount Lebanon. The unusual inset name is unique in what Father Pitt has seen of this craftsman’s work, and he suspects it represents, not an aesthetic decision, but an embarrassing correction of the deceased’s name. William Frew‘s, below, is more typical.

Now here are several tombstones in Hiland Cemetery, north of West View. Note that the name “Richey” or “Ritchey” is spelled two different ways, suggesting that John Frew’s tombstone is not the only one in his career where our artist misspelled a name.


James McKnight Tombstone, St. Clair Cemetery

In memory of
Who departed this life
August 22, 1844
In the 51 Year
of his age

This eroded tombstone in the mid-nineteenth-century poster style is almost illegible most of the day; but if you catch it just as the sun is hitting at its most oblique angle, you can just about read the inscription.

Eleanor Cooley Tombstone, St. Clair Cemetery

This is a fine piece of work in the engraved-title-page style of the 1850s, but cut in the native stone (sandstone, Father Pitt believes, but he is happy to be corrected by someone better informed on the subject of rocks) that by this time had almost been abandoned in favor of limestone and marble. If it remains intact, the native stone preserves an inscription indefinitely, so that we can appreciate every flourish wrought by this talented artist.

Wise Monument, St. Clair Cemetery

A zinc or “white bronze” monument, still in very good shape (as they usually are), except that one of its panels is missing.

There is a small genealogical mystery here, and Father Pitt does not have the time to research the answer to it. The monument remembers John (died 1889) and Mary Margaret (died 1891) Wise, as well as Wilhelmina, “daughter of John Wise,” who died at 17 in 1865. But who is the little girl Mary Margaret Schmid, who died at three years old in 1879? Was she a granddaughter, born to another Wise child not mentioned here, and named for her grandmother? Perhaps the answer was on that missing panel.