A Short Trip to some Local Parnassus History

by Jonathan on 2 July 2014

Hello reader people. Jenny and I were sitting on our soon-to-be-rebuilt porch this evening as the light went golden. We were just reading away, enjoying the evening as the temperature started to cool a bit, when I looked up and saw the pretty golden light hitting the houses across the street from us. I just recently picked up a Fuji X100s rangefinder-style digital camera to add to my image-making tools, and I was really wanting to get up to the Logans Ferry Presbyterian (former Parnassus Presbyterian) Church for a couple of photos. That church looks rather pretty in the early evening light, and the sharp shadow angle highlights some of its historic architectural features. I like it a lot in that kind of light.

I grabbed Jenny, the camera, and we walked a brisk pace over to the church to get a couple of photos before the yellow light faded. Above is one of the ones we got today. After getting some of those angles, we walked into the cemetery (still owned and cared for by the Parnassus Presbyterian congregation, whose church is now in the middle of modern-day Parnassus, only two blocks from our home), and headed towards the Alter plot. I knew Frank R. (the builder of our home) was there, and now that I had in my head some of the other relatives, it was interesting to look and see his first and second wife (his first wife, Minnie, died early in their marriage; he had two children with her, if I remember correctly), and his first two children there. He had two more children, I believe, with his second wife Harriet. They are not buried here, though. I’m still trying to find them. One of them is who I call Frank Jr. (also Frank R. Alter, from what I can find), whose name is scrawled in crayon in a few places in our third floor storage area and living areas. There is a Frank R. Alter tugboat owned and operated by an Alter Logistics company in Iowa, where I seem to have found some records of a Frank Alter living and possibly being buried there.┬áThe tug (and several others in the company) were named for family members, according to the history on their site. In their history, they describe how they hauled scrap metal and eventually moved their hauling to the river. There is also an Alter Metal Recycling that has presence through the same areas and along the Mississippi. They list a founding date of 1898, which seems like it would be too close to our Frank R. Alter Jr.’s birth, but it may have started as a different company. Our Frank R. Alter (Sr.) is a pretty interesting guy, having been one of the founders of the Keystone Dairy Company, and he apparently liked to tinker with stuff, having invented some patented milk processing technology used by the Keystone Dairy.

We continued around the cemetery in the dimming evening light, and wandered among some other famous names in Parnassus, including the Logans (they have two plots, one of which has Alex W. Logan, who owned the farm that he later subdivided into lots that became our area of Parnassus), the Dugans, and others of interest, like these fellows:

This cemetery is pretty interesting and has a lot of local history embedded in it (pun not entirely intended). Jenny and I still have to make it over to Round Hill Cemetery across Industrial Blvd. one day to explore there. That cemetery is even older, dating back probably to before the borough of Parnassus was officially “founded.” Its placement is now surrounded by an industrial sand and gravel plant, an asphalt plant, and the sewage treatment plant. Across Industrial Blvd. from the cemetery are the last houses on the streets of Parnassus. The placement of the cemetery leads me to think that there must have been more development in that area at one time in this area’s history. We know the fort was over that way somewhere (local lore places it on the empty plot of land by the church above, though time, construction, and development may have skewed that lore). I wonder if there were other things over there, too? It makes sense to me that the fort would have been somewhere near the intersection of Pucketos Creek and the Allegheny River, which is on the other side of Round Hill Cemetery. Hmm… Things we will probably never be able to answer, but it makes me wonder.

Jenny said, as we were walking around tonight, that it would be fun to have a group that could sit around and have some adult beverages while discussing local history. I have to agree that I think that would be pretty fun. I’d like to have a dinner club, too, where we can get neighborhood people to share dinners and have some social time. Maybe there’s a way we could do both? Parnassus Dinner and History Club. New members welcome. Must be willing to talk and eat food.




{ 1 comment }

1 dennis woytek July 2, 2014 at 22:55

Great comments and fantastic images….

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