Apollo Cemetery Tour 2019


Welcome to the Apollo Area Historical Society’s Cemetery Tour.  When you came through the gates of the cemetery today you saw the sign that says “Riverview Cemetery, Established Sept 23, 1908.” However, there are actually two cemeteries here on the hill.  The Apollo Cemetery, or the old cemetery, was laid out in 1868 by T.A. Cochran, Gen. Samuel Jackson, and John B. Chambers.  The original entrance was a road up the side of the hill from Kiski Avenue Extension (point this out).  The cemetery is the final resting place of many of the early leaders of Apollo, including Dr. T.J. Henry and Judge Michael Cochran, the father of Nellie Bly.

In 1908, Hugh Owens and his sons laid out Riverview Cemetery to the north of the Apollo Cemetery, and through the years the two have grown close together.  Today, there is a dividing line between the new section (Riverview Cemetery) and the old section (Apollo Cemetery).   There are two white signs about 3 feet by 4 feet in size. They are identical, and are separated by perhaps 60 yards.  They state, “Perpetual care in this old part of the Apollo Cemetery is being taken care of by Apollo Trust Company as trustee of the Apollo Lions Cemetery fund.”   Unfortunately that trust money is running out & the Apollo Lions Club is trying to raise money for maintenance.

From 1908, most of the burials have been in Riverview, although there have been some in the Apollo Cemetery into the early 2000’s. 

The Civil War Memorial

Apollo.  This is my town

   My name is Ray Rusz and I represent the Civil War Soldiers buried here at the Circle of Honor and throughout the Cemetery. In 1861 when President Lincoln asked for volunteers, the town of Apollo responded with about 261 men, 58% of the male population, over 100 of those brave men are buried in this Cemetery.  The cannon pointed skyward in some circles represents the headquarters of a general and in this case it is fitting because we have Brigadier General Samuel M. Jackson, buried in the mausoleum in another part of the cemetery, but his original burial place was just over the hillside on the original entrance to the cemetery he helped to design.

Ray Rusz

The men in the Circle of Honor are as diverse as the citizens of Apollo itself.

We have Eden Eakman, of Peg Town, a substitute who was paid $ 100.00 to serve for another man.  He also collected a pension of $ 6.00 a month in 1890 for service connected disabilities.

Daniel McClain, a Black Soldier, who served in the 39th United States Colored Troop, USCT, 39th Regiment Company I

Andres Sheasley, who deserted from the 204th Regiment 5th Artillery Co M but because he came back and served out his time, no charges were ever brought against him and he was honorably discharged.  He was granted amnesty by President Lincoln.

Jeremiah Brubaker, who was a prisoner of war and survived the POW camp at Salibury, NC.

James Saltsgiver was drafted and Alexander Long served in a Militia Unit, a unit where they served from 2 weeks to 90 days.

Benjamin Shearer served in the 103rd Regiment Company C, described by some as the unluckiest unit in the Army and died at an Old Soldiers Home in Erie, Pa.

Daniel Keiflin served in the 74th Regiment Co G.

Two other soldiers I would like to point out are, John B Guthrie, who formed Guthrie’s Unattached Militia and James Hunter 159th Regiment 14th Cavalry Company M who has a cenotaph, a memorial in another cemetery, his is at the notorious Andersonville National Cemetery in Georgia, marker 11219, under the name Ames Hunter, they forgot the J on his tombstone.  He died of Scorbutus, Scurvy.

These 8 men who make up the Circle of Honor and the other 2 all had one thing in common, they came from here, they returned here and they loved their hometown and you should also.

In the years following the Civil War, veterans across the country established Fraternal Organizations known as Grand Army of the Republic Posts. On January 21, 1878 Post Number 89 of the G.A.R. was organized in Apollo with 29 members. The post was named after Corporal Charles S. Whitworth who was killed in the Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia on October 19, 1864. There were five G.A.R. Post 89 members still living in 1916 when Apollo celebrated its Centennial. In 1907 G.A.R. Post 89 of Apollo erected this memorial to honor those who served in the “War of Rebellion” as it was commonly called then. The granite base holds a Dahlgren Naval Gun pointing skyward. This gun, weighing 4,521 pounds, was made by the Cyrus Alger & Company, Boston, MA in 1866, and used a 32 pound shell. Service of these guns was entirely naval and they were not used on land. Several markings can be seen on the gun including an anchor and initials of naval inspectors.

I hope you enjoyed my story.  Apollo:  They loved their town.

Elizabeth Cochrane (Nellie Bly)

Apollo:  I love my town.

Elizabeth Henderson

My name is Elizabeth Jane Cochran. I’m visiting here from the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York. You probably know me better by my pen name, Nellie Bly. I was born May 5, 1864 to Michael and Mary Jane Cochran. When I was a child, my father, Michael Cochran, was a judge. He tried to be fair to everyone, and that strongly influenced me. He owned a successful mill, but he died without a will when I was six. My mother couldn’t inherit any of his property and became very poor. My mother moved us to Apollo and remarried. Her new husband beat her, and when she filed for divorce, I had to testify in court. It was very frightening, but it gave me my first taste of
the power of words. My mother won the case and we moved to Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Dispatch ran an article that said women were only good for having children and running a household, and shouldn’t have a job. I sent a response to the article, disagreeing. The editor of the newspaper liked my letter and offered me a job. I went to Mexico and wrote about corrupt government officials and the mistreatment of the poor, but had to return home after the government threatened me with jail. Back in Pittsburgh, the newspaper only wanted me to write society and fashion articles, so I quit and moved to New York City. Once there, I got a job for the New York World. I pretended to be insane and convinced nurses, doctors, police, and judges that I was crazy. I was committed to the Blackwell Island Insane Asylum and spent ten days inside. When the newspaper came and got me out, I wrote a scathing report of the
deplorable conditions endured by the patients, many of whom were committed only because they were immigrants who couldn’t speak English. My report triggered reforms of the management and practices of the asylum.
Later, I embarked on my famous trip around the world in 72 days. My trip was inspired by the Jules Verne book, Around the World in 80 Days, and I even stopped to see Jules Verne in France. After my trip, I continued with my career until I married Robert L. Seaman when I was thirty-one. He was a millionaire forty years older than me who owned a very successful business, the Iron Clad Manufacturing Company. After ten years of marriage, he passed away. I took over the management of his company, and I now have several patents in my name for barrels!
I passed away on January 22, 1922, at the age of 57. As I said before, I am buried in the
Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.
I hope you enjoyed my story. Apollo: I love my town.

Willimina McKinstry

Apollo.  This is my town. 

Krista Mason

My name is Willimina Miller McKinstry.  I was born on September 18, 1856 and married William Chester McKinstry in 1879.  My husband was born here in Kiski Township on October 20, 1819, one of ten children.  His father William owned 111 acres of good farming land which he had operated quite successfully for many years. The farm was one of the first to be developed in Kiski Township.  William Sr. was known as a charitable man with kindness to the poor and afflicted.  My husband William was seventh in order of birth.  He attended public school in the area until he was nineteen.  Then he worked with his father on the farm until his father passed away in 1902 at the age of 83.  Just a note here, he and his father James Ross, my husband’s grandfather are also buried here in the cemetery.  That’s three generations of McKinstrys, not counting the descendants who have been buried here up to the present.   Anyway, my  husband and I lived for 27 years in a log cabin on the family homestead.  When his father died, we moved into the main farmhouse and tore down the log house.  William gave much attention to dairying which has been met with well merited success as he carried on the work intelligently and scientifically, helping to raise the agricultural standard in the area.  William was a Democrat and served the township as school director and supervisor for a number of years. We were members of the Lutheran church and were the parents of six children, one set of twins, which has kept me busy through the years.  William died on February 4, 1946 at the age of 89.  I passed away on August 7, 1936 ten years earlier at the age of 79.  Outside of Apollo there is a road off of Rt. 56 named McKinstry Hill Road after my husband’s family. 

I hope you enjoyed my story.  Apollo:  I love my town.

Dianne Knepshield Steele

Apollo:  This is my town. 

Cathee Klingensmith

My name is Dianne Knepshield Steele.  I was born on March 25, 1933 in Apollo.  My parents were Harry and Willavene Knepshield.  As a young girl, I loved working at my grandma Zula Smith’s dress shop in Apollo.  From there I went on to model in Pittsburgh with the Victoria Mannequin Agency.  It was a great job.  I married C. Doyle Steele in 1955.   He had served in the Navy during WWII and opened a law practice in Apollo where I worked as a secretary for many years.  Doyle and I were both very involved in community activities.  He was elected as borough burgess in 1954 and served until 1961.  During that time, plans were made for downtown redevelopment and the Apollo Plaza Project.  Doyle served as a Pennsylvania State Representative from 1967 to 19711 and served on the Pennsylvania Liquor Board in Indiana, PA.  We were both active members of the First Evangelical Church of Apollo.  I was also active in the Apollo Women’s Club, Order of the Eastern Star, and the Young Democrats.  I volunteered for Meals on Wheels in Apollo as well as with the YMCA.  Doyle and I worked with the Democratic party at the local & state levels.  We went to the inaugural ball for President John F. Kennedy.  What a night that was!  And we were delegates to the 1964 Democratic National Convention.  Quite an interesting event.  I love to read and watch old movies and travel.  We’ve been across the United States, Europe, and Australia.  My husband passed away in 1999 and I’ve wintered in Florida the past few years.  I died on November 27, 2010 in Pittsburgh and am buried up on the hill beside my husband.

I hope you enjoyed my story.  Apollo:  I love my town.

Edwin B. Armitage, Jr.

Apollo.  This is my town. 

My name is Edwin B. Armitage Jr.  I was born August 28, 1927 in New. Kensington, Pennsylvania.

Greg Klingensmith

I lived in Apollo most of my life.  When World War II began, I joined the Marines and served proudly.  When I came home, I was the owner and operator of Armitage Supermarket in Apollo.  There were a lot of grocery stores in Apollo.  Mine was just one of several markets, including two owned by the Whitlinger family.  People liked to be able to just walk to a corner market to get what they needed for each day.  Unfortunately most of these markets closed and today everyone has to get in a car to drive somewhere to do their shopping.  The last location of my store was where the Dollar Tree is today in the Apollo Plaza. 

Along with being a market owner, I was a coal stripper in the Kiski Township area for many years. There were a lot bituminous coal mines in this area.  The ones with coal enough to the surface were stripped with power shovels and the coal was loaded up on trucks.  That’s where the term “strip-mining’ comes from.  Mining is a dirty way to make a living, but provided jobs for many of us around here for a long time. 

My family consisted of my first wife Patricia, and after she passed away, my second wife, Vivian Rumbaugh Armitage, my three sons, Edwin B. “Mike” with his wife, Elaine of Apollo, Mark and his wife, Debra of Henderson, Nev., and Michael and his wife, Sherry of Leechburg; and my two daughters, Cynthia, and her husband, Thomas McDermott of Apollo and Catherine (Ward) Kepple of Gilpin.  I also have many grand-children & great grandchildren.  I imagine by now I even have great great grandchildren!  I was 77 when I was laid to rest up there on the hill on November 1, 2004. 

I hope you enjoyed my story.  Apollo:  I love my town.

Mary Alice Townsend

Apollo.  This is my town  

My name is Mary Alice Townsend.  I married Linus Townsend on May 18, 1850.  Linus was born on December 25, 1819. That’s right, a Christmas baby!  He was a farmer here in Apollo.   According to records, we had at least seven children born here in Armstrong County.  Hard to keep track of that many.  Linus  became known as the Poet of the Kiskiminetas because he liked writing poetry.  My family has a copy of my book “Original Poems Vol. 1” copyrighted  in 1882.  Here’s one of his poems that he wrote about the Apollo bridge that was built in 1846 and washed away in 1881. 

Pam Fouse
Poem by Linus Townsend

Linus passed away on Feb. 22, 1904 at the ripe old age of 84.  I hope you enjoyed our story and his poem.

Apollo:  I love my town.

General Samuel M. Jackson

Apollo.  This is my town 

My name is Samuel McCartney Jackson.  I was born on the family farm near Apollo on September 24, 1833.

Jonathon Henderson

My father, John, was born and raised in a pioneer home in Kiskiminetas township.  The farm was owned by my grandfather and after he died, my father inherited it.  My father became one of the most successful farmers of this section, and his small farm of seventy-five acres was gradually increased until he became the possessor, at one time, of between 600 and 800 acres.  Although my father was first a farmer, he took deep interest in public affairs and was one of a company that built the first bridge across the Kiskiminetas, at Apollo.  I got my love of community service from him.

My mother, Elizabeth, would tell me stories about her father Samuel McCartney, whom I’m named after.  Once while he was working in the field with a friend, they were surprised by Indians. The friend was killed and my grandfather was taken prisoner-chained to two Indians. At night an Indian left a tomahawk where my grandfather was able to get it and get loose. He ran to the river and escaped in a canoe, after hiding for a time in a cave.  You can imagine how stories like this excited me and gave me a thirst for adventure!!

 When I was 12, I enrolled as a drummer boy in a company of State militia. For efficient service I was promoted step by step until I obtained a Captain’s commission. When the Civil War broke out, I recruited Company 5, the Apollo Independent Blues of the Eleventh Pennsylvania Reserves. I fought at Second Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg just to name a few.  I eventually earned the rank of Brigadier General.  You can learn more about my military career at the Apollo Area Historical Society.

After the war, I returned to Apollo, where I helped organize the Apollo Savings Bank.  I worked there as a cashier for a while. I helped bring the sheet steel business to the valley and was a stockholder in the firm of PH Laufman & Company who built a rolling mill in Apollo.   I was also interested in the Apollo & Leechburg Electric Railway Company which I was treasurer of when it began in 1902.  This was the trolley line that was 8 miles long & ran along the river between Apollo & Leechburg.  The company was bought by West Penn Traction Company in 1911.

Like my father, I enjoyed politics so I was Burgess of Apollo for a while.  This is similar to being mayor.  I was also postmaster, but had to resign that post when war broke out. Because of my interest in public service, I was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1869, to the State Senate in 1874, and served as Revenue Collector for 1884 to 1888, and finally as State Treasurer in 1893.

About my family,  in 1860 I married Martha J. Byerly, who was known as Mattie. We had two daughters, Mary Gertrude and Lizzie, before Mattie died in 1864.  I married Mary Wilson on Dec. 29, 1869.  We had 5 children, Frank, John, Elizabeth Ruth, Mamie, and Emily Louise. 

Our daughter, Elizabeth Ruth married Alex M. Stewart of Indiana, Pennsylvania.  Through them We’re proud grandparents of actor Jimmy Stewart who often visited our home in Apollo while he was growing up. 

I died on May 8, 1907. I was first buried over the hill in the old Apollo Cemetery but then was re-interred in this mausoleum.  

I hope you enjoyed my story.  Apollo:  I love my town.

Franklin Garris

Apollo.  This is my town  

John Kautz

My name is Franklin Garris.  I was born on July 23, 1879 just down the river in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania. I proudly served during WWI in the military. After the war, in 1925, my wife, Mae, and I moved into one of the few remaining log cabins in Apollo.  We had four children, Frances Wilson, Florence Gamble, Thelma Garris, and Frank Thomas Garris plus  Mae’s son, Art Webber. I worked as a carpenter until my death at age 49 in 1928 from heart problems. I’ll let my wife Mae tell the rest of the story.

 I hope you enjoyed my story.  Apollo:  I love my town.

Mabel Garris Shirey

Apollo; This is my town.  

Bonnie Kautz

 My name is Mabel Garris Shirey, but you can call me Mae.  I lived in Drake’s Log Cabin just over the hill.  You know what I’m talking about?  It’s named for Mrs. Sarah Drake who bought the cabin in 1862 when she was about 30 years old .   As my first husband Frank stated earlier, we moved into the cabin in 1925.  When Frank passed away, I continued to live in the cabin with my four children.  My oldest son Art Webber lived with an aunt.  Sadly my daughter Thelma passed away from appendicitis when she was only 14 years old.

I married Ralph Shirey and we stayed in the cabin.  We never had running water or an indoor bathroom.  We had a spring outside and an outhouse and it never hurt any of us!   The cabin was much bigger than it is today because we added several rooms as well as a nice front porch. I never wanted to leave the cabin, so I lived there after my husband died and my children left home.  My grandchildren have many memories of visiting me in that old cabin.  Every time I made apple dumplings, I swear the grandkids could smell them from over the hill and would come visit.

After I passed away in 1965,  my daughter Frances and her husband Samuel Wilson wanted to sell the cabin to someone who would appreciate it and not tear it down.  In 1970, the Apollo Area Historical Society was formed for the express purpose of saving the cabin.  They bought it for $1000.  The cabin needed much work since the Society wanted to restore it to its original early 1800’s condition.  They removed the additions, as well as the front porch.  Several logs were replaced as well as windows.  They’ve put a lot of labor into the cabin and it looks wonderful today.  I know I appreciated it during the forty years I lived there.  Please try to visit it someday; you’ll be glad you did! 

I hope you enjoyed my story.  Apollo:  I love my town.

Hugh Owens

Apollo: This is my town.

My name is Hugh Owens. I was born in Westmoreland County on May 4, 1842, the son of Henry & Christina Owens. Even though I was number 8 of 12 children, I was the one named after my grandfather Hugh Owens. My father hailed from Caernarvonshire Wales and came to Pennsylvania in 1797 with my father’s parents, Hugh and Martha Owens, Martha’s father, Rowland Griffith Hughes, and a couple of brothers. They spent about a year in Philadelphia before moving to Westmoreland County.  We moved to Apollo shortly after I was born & I lived many years on the Owens farm just east of Apollo. We believe that the property may have been an Indian Village since we found traces of campfires with charcoal and mussel shells at various spots on the farm. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, I enlisted with Company E of the 139th Pennsylvania Volunteers and served with them throughout the war. I was one of the best-known men in my camp since I did my best to quietly care for the sick and wounded and unfortunately I was badly wounded in action during the war myself and I was sure happy to get back home to Apollo.

Bill Miller

After the war I married Emma Townsend in 1871 and we lived on Warren Avenue for 58 wonderful years. Even though I’m wearing my Sunday best, I was a farmer & worked hard on the family homestead. My wife and I had 4 children; daughter Zula May who married W.E. Jones , sons Henry and Labanna and our youngest daughter Grace who sadly passed away at age 15.

My sons and I laid out this cemetery in 1908 which is just north of the Apollo Cemetery named the River View Cemetery which you are touring today! Since I’ve spent all my life in Apollo, I wanted to give back something to my community so in 1921, my wife and I donated about 4 acres at the top of North Second Street as a playground for the town’s children. It was named Owens Grove in our honor and I’m sure many of you have played there or taken your children there through the years. I was a member of the First Presbyterian Church and attended Sabbath School for a total of 15 years without missing a single Sunday!! When I passed away on Tuesday, January 8, 1929 at the age of 87, the pastor from the First Presbyterian Church did my funeral service at the home of my son-in-law W.E. Jones. I am buried here in my own cemetery.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my story.  Apollo: I love my town.

Potter’s Field

Apollo.  This is my town. 

Emma Taylor

We are standing at the site of the Potters’ Field where I’m buried.  I’m one of the many unidentified Apollo area victims of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.  A potter’s field is an American expression for a place for the burial of unknown or indigent people.  When the Apollo bank burned, many records were lost, including the ones for the Potters Field.  The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, the deadliest in history, infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide—about one-third of the planet’s population—and killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million victims, including some 675,000 Americans.  At the time, there were no effective drugs or vaccines to treat this killer flu strain. Citizens were ordered to wear masks, schools, theaters and businesses were shuttered and bodies piled up in makeshift morgues. 

I remember standing on my front porch and staring at the neighbors across the street.  All dead, with bodies lying in the front yard, waiting for someone to pick them up for burial. It was horrible.  I remember feeling the first symptoms, feverish, sick to my stomach,   aches & pains all over.  Then dark spots appeared on my cheeks and I started feeling like I was suffocating.  I guess my lungs were filling with fluid and that eventually killed me.  There were so many deaths that casket makers, like Kepple on N. 4th Street,  could not keep up with demand, so I was just wrapped in a sheet.  A hole was dug,  I was placed in it,  and lime was spread over me.  Plantings, that’s how one gravedigger described his job of burying those who had died from the flu.  The dead had to be put into the ground as soon as possible to prevent the spread of infection. No eulogies. No choirs singing. No services. The lack of ceremony left a lasting impression on the survivors for years to come.

A father’s death in the flu pandemic would affect the family economically, emotionally, and socially.  The Great Depression came and many families were left without wage earners.  The flu pandemic of 1918 drastically changed the trajectory of many lives, including mine.

By the summer of 1919, the flu pandemic came to an end, as those that were infected either died or developed immunity. 

I hope you learned something from my story.  Apollo, I love my town.

Leonard Miller

Apollo.  This is my town  

My name is Leonard Miller.  I was born in Pittsburgh on May 21, 1958 and grew up in Brownstown, just outside of Apollo.  I had always wanted to be a policeman and work in my community.  After high school, I worked as a part-time officer for Apollo borough for a few years.  I was the borough’s first African American officer.

Bill Kerr

The teens around the Kiski Valley got to know me because I seemed to have a special connection to them, especially troubled teens, probably because I was so young myself.   I would reach out to them and help them before they got into real trouble. 

My lifelong dream was fulfilled on January 1, 1980 when I became a full-time police officer for Apollo Borough.  My life was tragically cut short after only 3 days on the job.  The community appreciated my life’s work so much that the Leonard C. Miller Home of Adelphoi Village was established to help kids in trouble.  The new Apollo bridge was also named in my honor.  At my funeral, Rev. Zikeli said it well, “We have lost a good friend…a committed citizen…a fellow police officer.

Apollo:  I love my town.

John James Collins

Apollo. This is my town.

Barbara Collins, sister-in-law of John Collins

My name is John James Collins. I was born on February 21, 1946, in Morningside, Pennsylvania to Jim and June Collins. I had one brother, Ronald Collins, who still resides in the Apollo area. When I was seven years old, our family moved to Washington Township. I attended school in Washington Township. My family attended the Apollo Presbyterian Church. Our home was host to many gatherings of family and friends. One of my favorite pastimes was riding my horse, Penny, in the neighborhood.
After my high school graduation, I enlisted in the United States Army. My basic training was at Fort Benning, Georgia. I went to Fort Polk, Louisiana for Advanced Individual Training. After my training was completed, I volunteered to serve in Vietnam. My last visit to my home town was in late April 1967. I arrived in Vietnam in May of 1967. I became the Radio Telephone Operator for Captain John Falcone. We served in B Company, 3 rd Battalion of the 8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division, The Ivy Dragoons. The friendships made in this band of brothers was very strong. Several of my brothers in arms have kept in touch with my brother, Ron, and two have traveled
here to Apollo to visit my resting place. Every Christmas my grave is honored with a wreath of remembrance from my brother in arms, Ed Goehring.
In November of 1967, in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, at a location called Dak To, U.S. forces were directed to eliminate the NVA in that area. The Battle of DakTo raged from November 3 through November 23. On Veteran’s Day, November 11, 1967, Charlie Company went up Hill 724 to support Delta Company. Bravo Company followed shortly. Two battalions of the NVA were waiting to ambush our men. From our base camp, we ran up Hill 724 carrying 80 to 90 pound packs on our backs. Arriving at
the top of the hill, we had almost no time to prepare for the incoming attack. We were
barraged with rockets, machine guns, and mortars. Captain Falcone exposed himself to danger repeatedly as he directed our men. As his RTO, I stayed close to him. I also carried ammo to the men in front of me and pulled wounded men back to safety. Captain Falcon was hit and killed and immediately after, a mortar round hit me. Medic and good friend, Doug Detman, cared for my wounds, but I died shortly thereafter. Bravo Company lost 18 men that day; the highest death toll of any unit. The total wounded from Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie Companies was over 120. I was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star, with the V device for bravery. I hadn’t yet reached my 22nd birthday.
I rest here by my parents in this beautiful and peaceful place.
Apollo: I love my town.