This Day In 1864: Remarkable Case Of Petrifaction

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The Monongahela Republican contains the following: “Parties engaged in exhuming the bodies of the MERCER family for removal from the old graveyard to Monongahela City Cemetery on Friday last, found the body of Mr. J.B. MERCER in a singular state of petrifaction. The graves of Mrs. MERCER and the two children on each side were about sixteen inches lower than that of their father, yet while their bodies had returned to dust and were perfectly dry, his grave was filled with water, and his body turned to stone. Mr. MERCER was drowned in May, 1843, at what is called the old wharf, and his body, remaining in the river for eighteen days, was found on the ‘riffle’ near Parkinson’s; he was forty-five years of age, and was buried on the hill in the above described grave.

Through the kindness of Mr. FILSON we were permitted to examine the body closely. It was solid and firm, turned to stone, from the ankle joints to the neck; the feet had fallen off and were mouldered to dust, but the head, which had also fallen off, was petrified, and the hair well preserved. The body was solid, and upon being struck, gave out a dead heavy sound; the petrification was so perfect that the pores of the skin were distinct, and the proportions of the form well preserved. This has been attributed by many to the length of time the body remained in the water before interment. As petrification is never caused by internal action, but is always the result of external deposites and surroundings, this theory cannot explain the circumstances fully.

The bodies of the family were reinterred in the Monongahela Cemetery by the M.E. Church of this city, and a handsome marble shaft placed above their graves by that congregation, to which, it will be remembered, Mrs. AGATHA MERCER bequeathed some $1,000 at her decease.”

~ The New York Times, October 24, 1864

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Vocal Point
A Capella Group Vocal Point

Heard a beautiful song on WESA called “The Sweet Allegheny And Monongahela” by the A capella vocal group Vocal Point. Click on the “Listen” button to hear an interview with the group and also a brief portion of the song. Click on the second section to hear the whole song on Spotify for( free.

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Monongahela Newspaper Editor Recommends McKeesport Residents Drink Beer

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The editor of the Monongahela Daily Republican writes that McKeesport residents have beer as their only option: 1891_01-15_McKeesport_corpse

McKeesport people are in a fix. The body of a man who is missing, is thought to be under the reservoir, and it is covered with thick ice so that the basin cannot be thoroughly dragged. Most people think the corpse is in there, and every time a McKeesporter drinks a glass of hydrant water he imagines he tastes a toe, or a finger or a knee cap. The only resource left to the inhabitants is to drink beer.

- Chill W. Hazzard, Editor, Daily Republican, January 15, 1891.


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Josiah Loves Cordelia At The Monongahela Cemetery

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monongahela cemetery tombstones
Josiah W. Carmack d. June 9, 1893 and Cordelia A. Carmack d. September 26, 1896 (click image for larger view)

Photo of tombstones in an old section of the Monongahela Cemetery.

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A Gushing Invitation – From Monongahela City In 1868

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I usually try save these old articles and post them on Lost Monongahela on the same date as they were published decades ago but I just couldn’t wait with this piece. It was written by the publisher and editor of the Monongahela Republican, Captain Chillion (Chill) W. Hazzard and was published in the Pittsburgh Daily Gazette and Advertiser. Hazzard’s intent must have been to encourage readers to visit Monongahela for the July 4th holiday but since the river was low (ruling out travel by packet boat) and the railroad didn’t reach Monongahela City yet, it would have been a major undertaking to travel from Pittsburgh to Monongahela by any other means.

from the Pittsburgh Daily Gazette and Advertiser – July 3, 1868

A Gushing Invitation

Who can withstand this gushing invitation from the editor of the Monongahela Republican, addressed to our citizens. He says:

“Come up here, ye who dwell upon that baked biscuit, hot and puffy, where the streets smell like a furnace flue, and the air ishazzard_come_to_monongahela filled with dust and coal tar, ye smoked and tired dwellers in Pittsburgh, come up here and see us. Come up the Monongahela, where groves are breezy and cool; where bright streams braid their silver chains along the vales, where hills rise rugged, woody, majestic, frowning, but inviting with green smiles the brave-hearted to their gracious solitudes; where torrents flash and foam, where wild flowers peep from mossy banks; where the partridges drum and the quails whistles in quiet spots where great elms swing their graceful boughs, where the sugar maple sheds her liberal blood in spring; but none the less heaps up her magnificent pyramids of verdure, pile on pile in the summer, or when the pine tree shakes her beautiful green hair, tossing her murmurous cones in the morning breeze, and scents all the groves with her fragrant breath, where there is a meeting-house or two, with ambitious spires struggling up towards the heavens; where there are old-fashioned Sabbath bells, and clean, shaded streets, and plenty of village maids – Yes, come and see us!”

Just think, all this invitation at a time when navigation is closed on the river, and Monongahela City is beyond the reach of the other world.

Now wasn’t that awesome!

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