This morning marks a great anniversary of one of my favorite songs from when I was a child. To celebrate the 50 year mark of the songtrack, The Sound of Music, I've been humming along and thinking of those wonderful hills in Pennsylvania from whence I come.
My dad left the Pittsburgh area, courtesy of Uncle Sam, which resulted in only visits to the area during my childhood. My dad loved those hills up there and had lots of stories to tell. I only wish I could remember them all now.
About ten years or so ago, I did take the opportunity to visit the area so I could go play with the dead. That doesn't sound right, does it? Correction, I visited the area so I could participate in two graveside ceremonies. One was for another grave dedication where the family placed a DAR marker on the grave of my dear great aunt, who was instrumental in making sure I was aware of my roots. The other was for the 200th anniversary of the Mt Lebanon UP Church which my family was so much a part of until our last burial in the 1960s at the church cemetery. This cemetery is known to the masses as the old St Clair Cemetery and to me as my family graveyard.
Anyway, on this visit, the family members who had gathered from several states and Pittsburgh took the time to visit another local treasure, the Oliver MILLER homestead in South Park, a suburb of Pittsburgh.
We were given a private tour of the home and the grounds by a wonderful docent. While walking on the property, I could feel the blood coarse through my veins and I couldn't help but sing, "The Hills are Alive with My Family Story."
While most students of history remember the Whiskey Rebellion, others have forgotten. It is reported the first shots of the Whiskey Rebellion were fired on the property of Oliver MILLER. Now, that's history talking!
For me, it was the knowledge that Oliver MILLER's son, James, married Mary SMITH, daughter of John SMITH of Hopewell Twp, PA. James and Mary lived in that house I toured. Their children carried water. The family broke bread together. James kept a ledger for the business. The family made regular use of the cold spring water that still flows today. I'm sure they drank deeply of the water from time to time. Just like my children did some ten years ago.
Why did I feel the past so strongly at the homestead? Ah, it was knowing Mary SMITH had a sister, Sarah SMITH, who was the lovely bride of John HENRY of St Clair Twp, Allegheny, PA. John and Sarah had several children before her early death. John remarried Margaret McMILLAN, and together, raised the children of the two women John loved during his lifetime.
As the will of John SMITH is dated and probated in 1788 where he leaves a little something to his granddaughter, Elizabeth HENRY, who is the daughter of the now deceased Sarah Smith HENRY and son in law John HENRY, we can safely say Sarah's death was by 1788. Where Sarah's remains rest is a mystery.
What makes it madness? Do you know how hard it is to trace a family named John SMITH and wife Jane? To date, I think he may have had a brother Joseph who also lived in the Mt Joy-Hopewell area and whose will was probated in 1792. The coincidence for me are the names of the witnesses which overlap.
James MILLER and his wife, Mary SMITH are both buried at the Bethel Cemetery in Bethel Park, Allegheny, PA.
There is another connection with marriage of the sister of James MILLER, Mary MILLER, to William WALLACE. I have not traced it yet, but how does this William WALLACE relate to Joseph WALLACE who married Sarah McBURNEY in 1898?
Ahhh, genealogy. My blood is alive in Pittsburgh especially when I can walk the same steps through those hills.
Read more of what I have written on the Oliver Miller Homestead and the Whiskey Rebellion:
Washington Co, PA Will Bk #1, pg 84.
email correspondence with Bill Barton, 2004
FindaGrave- Bethel Cemetery, Allegheny, PA