“The necessity for a public burial ground, adequate to the growing wants of the community, has for some time demanded the establishing of a Cemetery in the vicinity of Homestead. The prosperous village having that name, and the county surrounding it, have been almost marvelous in the development of their interests, and in the growth of their populations, and concerning them it may be said that no suitable public Cemetery existed within the radius of many miles. With a view to supplying this long felt want, a number of gentlemen associated themselves together for the purpose of forming a Cemetery Company, and an application was at once made to the Court of Common Pleas, No. 1, of Allegheny County and on Saturday, September 4, 1886, a Charter of incorporation was promptly granted by that Court to the applicants, under the style and title of “The Homestead Cemetery Company.”” (2)
Thus, begins the history of the Homestead Cemetery Company. The first board, comprised of President, Lowry H. West of Homestead; Secretary, John F. Cox of Homestead; Treasurer, North West of Allegheny City; Superintendent, Samuel G. West of Homestead; and C. P. Seip of Pittsburgh, envisioned a first-class Cemetery, both inviting and desirable, which would be “free from any bias of sect or creed.” (2) An area of roughly 38 acres of land located within the former Mifflin Township was purchased for $64,550.00 from Samuel G. West to accommodate the new cemetery (4). The grounds adjoined the Franklin Methodist Episcopal Church, now known as the Anne Ashley Memorial United Methodist Church, and the original Rules and Regulations state that a “lovelier, more desirable, and more appropriate location could not be found in all the country.” (2) At the time of its inception, graves cost $5.00 for adults, and $3.00 for children, with opening and closing fees of $4.00 and $2.50, respectively. (2)
The initial charter, which can be read below, set the Homestead Cemetery Company as a non-profit organization, meaning, any monies collected from the sale of burial lots were to be used solely for the upkeep, maintenance, and improvement of the grounds in perpetuity. The Board guaranteed, “with fullest assurance, to kindred and friends that while their loved ones are sleeping away the rolling years, theirs will in the highest sense of the term be: “A peaceful and undisturbed repose.”” (2). The Board took great care in ensuring the sacredness of the grounds, and enacted strictly enforced rules, going so far as to allow only visitors accompanied by proprietors with tickets into the cemetery.
The grounds were dedicated on Memorial Day of 1887. The Hon. John F. Cox, Master of Ceremonies, and Burgess D. R. Jones, of Homestead, made dedicatory speeches. Afterwards, C. P. Seip, Board member, presented a gifted deed to a lot of 60 square feet to the General Charles Griffin Post No. 207, Grand Army of the Republic, for the purpose of interring and honoring war veterans. This lot is where the Civil War Soldier's Monument currently sits. (1) More information about the Soldier's Circle Memorial is located here.
The earliest burial recorded within the acreage is thought to be that of Hannah Cox, who died January 14, 1849. It was common practice for family plots to be peppered throughout their respective homesteads, and Hannah, along with Anne Ashley (d. 1854), namesake of the Anne Ashley Church on 22nd Avenue, and Rebecca Ashley (d. 1859), join many others with death dates preceding the charter. (5)
In 1921, the cemetery expanded with the Annex area towards Farragut Street, and a corner section of the property was sold to initially build a gas station. This area is currently occupied by the Medicine Shoppe and Dell’s Sundae Grill. The caretakers home and garage were added some time later. (3)
In 2015, the Homestead Cemetery filed for bankruptcy following years of dwindling interments and mismanaged funds that ultimately drained the savings. The Board that had controlled the Cemetery for decades dissolved, and the grounds fell into disrepair and virtual abandonment. Over the subsequent years, different groups of dedicated volunteers, including family members of those resting within the Cemetery, Steel Valley High School students, and the local Scouts Troop, have tried to keep up with the grass and upkeep, but ultimately disbanded due to an overwhelming amount of work. A new Board was reinstated by Munhall Mayor, Rick Brennan in 2018 and the Board returned the Cemetery to a non-profit status in 2019.
The current Board, formed in 2020, is comprised of community members who are determined to see the Cemetery return to its former status as a beautiful and peaceful place of rest for those who have gone before us.
Butler, Catherine J., and Margaret Murphy, editors. History of Soldier's Monument. 1941.
Rules and Regulations of the Homestead Cemetery with Charter, Certificate, &c, &c. Best & Company, 1886.
Ramseier, Daniel. “Road Map for the Homestead Cemetery.”
“Transactions in Real Estate.” The Pittsburgh Press, 7 Mar. 1888, pp. 6–6.
Vojtko, Margaret Mary. “In Memoriam Homestead Cemetery - 1896-1986.” The Valley Mirror, 8 Jan. 1987, pp. 8–12.
Original Rules and Regulations