St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: TNT Chemical Blast in Aetna and an Old Headstone Found

"Probing Fatal Blast at Aetna Chemical Plant" is declared in bold print on the front page of the December 6, 1917, Pittsburgh Press.

The article hints of German or Austrian agents "doping" the tanks of the TNT.  The Secret Service was suspicious of the blast.  The world was at war and now, a huge explosion in Heidelberg, Allegheny Co, PA, struck fear and despair into the local residents.

The plant manager thinks it was only an accident.  What caused it?  I don't know, but the list of the dead includes an extended family member.

The dead listed in the article include:

SPROULS, E age 28
MENTE, Andrew age 25
MENTE, Steve
unidentified white man, abt 25
LEA, Ellis  age 28
PORTONA, Tony age 28
PETER, Steve, age 36
MONTAGUE, Chester, age 20
four unidentified men

I became interested in the LEA family while looking deep in early Allegheny Co, PA.  We were friends.  We were neighbors.  We attended church together.  We married.

I have an old picture from 1871 on which the name of the young man is written. Also written is to whom the picture was given.  This was my first clue over a decade ago as I searched for more genealogy finds.

The picture was Cassius Monroe LEA and he gave the picture to his mother-in-law, Margaret Henry SIMMONS.  The young bride of Cassius died in late 1872 as a result of childbirth complications.  Her obit is interesting as it details she died of a "broken heart" after the death of her newborn daughter.  Click here to read more on Maggie's story.

The young Ellis LEA who died in the TNT blast was the son of Cassius LEA and his second wife, Mary HICKEY.  Cassius is buried at St. Clair Cemetery in Mt Lebanon, Allegheny, PA, with both his wives and his infant daughter.

We knew where the plot was thanks to an old map, but had not located any headstone.  We knew Cassius was there thanks to a really old cemetery census published by a genealogy society.

Two events happened yesterday to render me speechless, or rather, wordless.

1- I stumbled across the marriage of the Ellis's widow, Beatrice H, to Cloud BRYAN.  A quick look at ancestry has now led me to send an email to a descendant of his.

2- Another email arrived yesterday asking if I was sitting down.  And it was from the Historical Society of Mount Lebanon's Margaret Jackson. I became friends with Margaret when I assisted her in writing a booklet on the cemetery and its inhabitants back in 2004.  You can see this great booklet  now at

They uncovered the headstone for Cassius and his second wife, Mary!  And it was exactly where I had said it should be!!!!  So cool!!  

I am guessing this was found as they are preparing for some new gravestones for Civil War vets to be installed.  And yes, Cassius is getting a new veteran headstone, along with my Uncle Henry.  Wonder where they will place it now?

I am just so thrilled to see his gravestone!  Will they find one for Maggie and their infant daughter right next to it?  Can't wait to hear!

Update 10 Aug 2010:  The middle name for Cassius has now been confirmed as "Monroe" by an article in the Sept 24, 1905 "Leader" and was sent to me by the g-granddaughter of Mansfield B Lea (brother of Cassius.)

©2010 AS Eldredge

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Finding a Brahm in Pittsburgh

This is such a cool picture taken by my cousin, Jennifer Gardner,  that I thought it worth sharing today. 

The subject is the Brahm family plot in Uniondale Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Allegheny, PA.

While this is not my direct line, it is the direct line of a cousin of mine.  One of the BRAHM sons married into my YOUNG family.

Roy M BRAHM (1898-1974) married Mildred M YOUNG (1899-1971).  Roy and Mildred are both buried at the St Clair Cemetery(aka lovingly as my family cemetery) in Mt Lebanon, Allegheny, PA.

I don't know why Roy and Mildred are buried at St Clair rather than with his family at Uniondale.  The plot in which Roy and Mildred are buried was purchased by her grandfather, Edward J YOUNG (1835-1905), and is the plot where Mildred's mom is resting.  I am making an educated guess that Mildred's dad, George Fleming YOUNG (1850-1912) is probably also buried in the plot although there is no headstone.  EJ is also buried at St Clair but he is further down the line in another plot he owned.  This other plot was between his two aunts.

Ah- grave shots can be so beautiful.  Not only do they bring back precious sweet memories, they also can be such an art form for genealogy buffs.

©2010 AS Eldredge

Monday, March 15, 2010

Madness Monday: Marianna Mine Disaster in Washington Co, PA

Nothing could be more frightening than news of a mine disaster.  These happened quite often in the past in the coal mine country.  In addition, we all watch the news holding our breath and praying for the safety of the workers when a mine collapses even today.

Here is a list of some of the dead in the Marianna Mine Disaster in Washington Co, Pennsylvania, on November 28, 1908,  The writing is hard to read in the old newspaper, but perhaps, this could be of value to genealogy buffs as they search for old coal mine deaths.

It was reported in newspapers at the time that there were 288 feared dead.

Joseph Holmes
Joseph Gresinger
Robert Locket
Charles L Scelrob(?)
William Hall
Henry Belty(?)
Peter Donlin
Clarence Williams from Monongahela City
Alfred Mackin
Samuel Lipton(?)
Frederick Jenkins, mine foreman
Charles Welrah(?)
Patrick Donnellin
Senior Lee of West Monongahela
Edward Maranult of West Monongahela
George Acker

Russell Michener
S W Vance

Brought out alive:
Frank Ellinger

Thought dead:
nephew of John H Jones, President of the Pittsubrgh-Buffalo Company

Brought out and died:
Henry Thompson, mine foreman

At the scene, two women, one a wife and one a mother, apparently went "insane" and tried to commit suicide.

The madness of it all was the state mine inspector had just left the mine.  The mine was thought to be a "model" mine.

More can be found in the November 28, 1908 Pittsburgh Gazette Times.

©2010 AS Eldredge

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Happy Genealogy Day!

Who knew?  Who knew that today, March 13, is National Genealogy Day?  It's certainly not listed on my calendar.  But then, everyday is genealogy day for me.

I spent countless hours trying to feed my addiction, er, hobby.  It's funny.  My spouse approved of it when I started back in 1995.  You see, the ever supportive spouse thought it would be a cheap hobby which would fill some time left void by my becoming unemployed (by choice.)

Oops.  Now 15 years later and countless dollars and hours gone, what can I say?

I love it and I truly feel like I discover a bit of my inner soul every time I uncover a tidbit.  Along the way, I've also uncovered cousins and have many new friends as a result of our shared blood.

So, Happy Genealogy Day!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Follow Friday: Some Leisure Reading for Genealogy Addicts

Those of us who are addicted to genealogy and who are always in the quest for new family treasure finds in books seem to spend a great deal of time reading.  Sometimes, it is even in another language as we struggle to read the mountain of information sometimes found in the "ole Country."

In the event you develop eye strain from trying to read old newspapers, wills, faded pages of old, or another language, just relax.  Take a break and enjoy the old issues of Ancestry Magazine.  The complete old issues from January 1994- October 2009 can now be found online.

Want to discover tips which may help you in your personal quest?  Want to read?  Click  to see the covers of the issues.

I've always looked forward to receiving issues of the magazine.  Now I can easily locate the ones I missed or misplaced.  Happy reading!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: c. 1881 Letter From an Upset Mama

One of the treasures found in the family Bible was a letter my great-great grandmother had written to my great grandfather after he left home. He is listed living with his parents in the 1880 census in Allegheny Co, PA. The year of the letter has faded but we do know it was written in Nov of either 1880 or 1881. She writes "Pleasant Hill" as the location of the letter. Does this correspond with the Banksville area in which she was born, raised, married and died?

How can I deduce the year the letter was written? Apparently, the six page letter is full of admonishments and worry from an aging mama to her youngest child who has now left home. She is concerned he has yet to marry at the ripe old age of 22 and fears he has resigned himself to being an old bachelor. The young man has fled to his older brother's home in Washington County.

The letter tells us he has only written home three times in the three months he has been gone. His mama really wants to see him and see him married soon. She describes the menu she will have if he comes home for Thanksgiving dinner. How she longs to see him settled!

Did her letter work? We don't know if he came home for a grand turkey dinner, but he married in June 1882 and lived to celebrate over 50 years of wedded bliss.

Ah- genealogy. What great treasures there are to find tucked away.