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Oak Park Cemetery - New Castle PA

Oak Park Cemetery, a community burial ground along Neshannock Boulevard in New Castle, Pennsylvania, was laid out beginning in 1893. I believe the first burial may not have taken place until February 1895. Philip “P.J.” Watson (1851-1917), a civic leader and real estate broker (he laid the heart of what is now the North Hill district), was the driving force behind the founding of the cemetery. A cemetery association was soon formed and George L. Leslie was hired to serve as the first superintendent. Leslie, who passed away in early 1908, was succeeded in that post by W. A. McKee from 1908-1932 and Harry G. Gibson from 1932-1971.

In the summer of 1912 the cemetery association began taking payments for the four hundred or so niches in the massive granite mausoleum it was having constructed. The mausoleum, designed by the local architectural firm of A.L. and C.C. Thayer, was quite a magnificent structure. In June 1914, after a public contest was held, the name Oak Park Mausoleum was selected. About 500 people attended the dedication ceremony held on the afternoon of Thursday, October 15, 1914. The first interment in the new mausoleum took place about two weeks later when Mrs. Appeline Brown of New Bedford was laid to rest. A time capsule of historical items was reportedly sealed within the mausoleum, and was slated to be opened a century later in 2014.

Oak Park continued to grow in the coming years and a military veterans section was dedicated on Father’s Day (Sunday), June 15, 1947. A newer section of the cemetery, comprised of five acres adjoining the neighboring Graceland Cemetery, was opened in May 1975. Today, with well over 20,000 graves, Oak Park is the largest cemetery in all of Lawrence County. The old superintendent’s house, serving as an admin office and rumored to be haunted (big surprise!), was slated for demolition in about 2009. The historic home was fortunately saved when it was sold to the Petrus family. It is currently being restored as a private residence. The cemetery has since opened up a new administrative office on Wilmington Road/Route 18.

Included among the numerous prominent citizens buried at Oak Park are the following:

JOSEPH B. CHAMBERS (1833-1908) – an enlisted Union Army soldier from East Brook who was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions at Petersburg, Virginia, in March 1865.

THOMAS W. PHILLIPS (1825-1912) – a prosperous oil man, college president, and U.S. Congressman from Pennsylvania from 1893-1897.

GEORGE W. JOHNSON (1847-1917) – a wealthy limestone baron, prominent civic leader, and founder of the prosperous Johnson Bronze Company.

GEORGE GREER (1844-1926) – a talented musician, Methodist church choir leader, and founder of the tin plate industry in New Castle.

ODD “O.J.H.” HARTSUFF (1869-1936) – a Croton native and longtime executive with the Carnegie/U.S. Steel interests in New Castle and elsewhere.

CHARLES “C.C.” THAYER (1853-1939) – a skilled architect and designer of many early buildings in New Castle to include the Shenango Valley Hospital, Oak Street School, and the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

EDGAR E. SEAVY (1859-1942) – a well-known area photographer, founder of Seavy’s Studio, and founding member of the New Castle Rotary Club.

FRED L. RENTZ (1868-1946) – a longtime part owner and publisher of the New Castle News, well-respected civic leader, and founder of Camp Rentz.

PAUL F. BUTZ (1883-1968) – the longtime owner of the family-run Butz Flowers and respected community icon often referred to as “Mr. New Castle.”

Walking through this cemetery is like walking through a memorial of local history. You’ll see stones marked with names such as Lockley, Dinsmore, Berger, Wallace, Frew, Hanna, Falls, Fox, Ailey, Dana, Perelman, Stritmater, Hovencamp, Pollock, Hartsuff, and Euwer. Several of my relatives of the Bales and Hake families, including my uncle James “Jimmy” Bales who passed away in September 2009, are buried in Oak Park.



To read a 1908 article about changing the course of a small stream that ran through the cemetery grounds click on: STREAM ARTICLE. To see some large newspaper advertisements about the mausoleum from 1912 click on: JUNE 1912 PRINT AD and JULY 1912 PRINT AD. To read about a proposed time capsule to be placed with the new mausoleum in 1914 click on: SEAL CRYPT FOR 100 YEARS ARTICLE. This excerpt from an article in the New Castle News of October 16, 1914, contains a list of the items to be placed within the time capsule: OAK PARK MAUSOLEUM DEDICATORY SERVICE ARTICLE. To learn more about the first interment in the new Oak Park Mausoleum click on: FIRST BODY LAID TO REST ARTICLE. There was apparently some controversy in the late 1930’s about the reselling of plots at Oak Park for profit. To read one of the several notices placed in the New Castle News by the cemetery’s superintendent in response to this issue click on: PROFITEERING ARTICLE.

For burial info contact the administrative offices of the Oak Park Cemetery Association, now located at 2305 Wilmington Rd (Suite #7), at (724) 652-5851.


Oak Park Cemetery officially opened in early February 1895 as a community burial ground, when William Shira of Croton was the first person to be interred here. This beautiful chapel was opened soon after. (c1904) Full Size


The southern entrance gate and the superintendent’s home/admin office of Oak Park Cemetery. The old house is still there. It was slated to be razed in 2009, but was fortunately sold and converted into a private residence. (c1905) Full Size


The grounds of Oak Park Cemetery. (c1940) Full Size


The old entrance gate site right where Sumner Ave meets Neshannock Blvd. (Jul 2010)


An old postcard of Oak Park Cemetery c1920.


A drawing of the large mausoleum, containing about 400 niches, that would be opened in the cemetery in June 1916. Full Size


This rough map shows the various lettered and numbered sections of Oak Park Cemetery. The large mausoleum is marked by a star in Section P. The cemetery is essentially cut in two by a large ravine, which is connected by the road marked in black. Graceland Cemetery is just off to the north. Full Size


A view of the old section near the entrance. (Jul 2010)


The former superintendent’s home and admin office near the southern entrance to the cemetery. The aging home was scheduled for demolition a few years ago. Fortunately, it was sold to a private owner and is currently being renovated. (Jul 2010)


The old chapel is still standing among several large family crypts or mausoleums within the old portion of the cemetery. (Jul 2010)


Several other family mausoleums. (Jul 2010)


The eerie looking massive mausoleum that opened back in 1916. Its locked but when I get time I’ll inquire about whether its possible to get some photos of the inside. (Jul 2010)


Some impressive sarcophagus-style grave markers at Oak Park. (Jul 2010)


A view of a Brinton family stone and individual markers. (Jul 2010)


Another view of the ancient looking mausoleum. (Jul 2010)


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The stone of little Freddie George Jr. To read an article detailing his heroic struggle that appeared in the New Castle News in 2004 click on: FREDDIE ARTICLE. (Jul 2010)


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Comment

  1. Oak Park Cemetery photos are well done.

    John Fox · 11/27/2012 07:24 AM · #

  2. I am hunting for Margaret (JONES) HESS.
    I understand she is buried in Oak Park Cem.,
    New Castle, PA. Can you help verify this.

    bryan lance · 12/02/2012 11:14 AM · #

  3. I hope you can help me. I am looking for Shirley Goubeaud’s burial cite. She passed away on Novemember 11, 2011. She was my mom’s life-long friend. Unfortunately, we were unable to attend her funeral. Please let me know where she is buried in your cemetary. Thank you very much for your help.

    Beverly Dracar · 02/06/2013 02:16 PM · #

  4. Beverly Dracar, I might be able to help you. If you get this message and if someone else hasn’t already helped you, please send me an e-mail at laurilynn72@verizon.net.

    lauri golonka · 02/28/2013 07:54 PM · #

  5. Bryan Lance, I maybe be able to help you. Please message me at laurilynn72@verizon.net

    lauri golonka · 02/28/2013 07:56 PM · #

  6. I am looking for the directions to the following graves.
    Jacob Francis Burckart 1860 – 1931
    Helena B. Burckart wife of Jacob Francis Burckart.
    Charles Albert Burckart 1889 – 1945.
    Edna S. Burckart 1894 – 1961 wife of Charles.
    Pearle H. Burckart 1892 – 1966.
    Margaret T. Burckart 1896 – 1972.
    These names are all one family.
    I am willing to pay for photos of the markers.
    Thank you,
    Cathy

    cathy hayden · 03/26/2013 12:15 AM · #

  7. Hi Cathy Hayden, my name is Tabatha and, I have found Jacob F. Burckhart 1860-1931 and, Helena B. Burckhart however I have not found the others just yet. I started my search for you today april 16, 2013 and, luck may haved it I was successful with Jacob and, Helena I will continue to search for the rest. If You can e- mail me an e-mail address so I may send you the picture that would be great, you can send me an e-mail address to timtab530@netzero.com or look me up on find a grave. under Tabatha I am glad I could help you, Tabatha
    P.s I am hoping to turn this into a career If you know anyone that might be interested in needing my services to help find a grave of a loved one please pass on the word or let me know thank you, Tabatha

    Tabatha · 04/16/2013 12:01 PM · #

  8. Hi Cathy I wanted to apologize for misspelling the last name, again I did find Jacob and, Helena Buckart sorry for the misspelling. I look forward to hearing from you, Tabatha

    Tabatha · 04/16/2013 12:11 PM · #

  9. I trying to find out where my g grandmother-
    Ida Bell Flanary is buried. I think it might be in Oak Park. She died around 1952.Bonnie
    Marie Ellgass( her daughter took care of the
    arrangements). I think she might be buried in the one of the Ellgass plots.I would appreciate it if you could check the records and see if she is listed in your files.
    Kay Hale
    Kingsport, TN. e7663

    kay hale · 06/22/2013 10:28 AM · #

  10. Dear Sir/Madame , Somerset (ENGLAND) 24 July 2013

    I am trying to find where my great-aunt and uncle (Pemala and Louis McCREARY) were buried on 2 March 1964 .

    Their obituary in the “New Castle News” says : “Internment will be in Oak Park Cemetery” .

    Unfortunately their names are not shown on the Find A Grave website .

    I would be very grateful if some nice person may be able to help this poor unfortunate living on the other side of “The Pond”

    Kind regards from “The Cider County of England” ,
    Mike Wroe

    Mr Mike Wroe · 07/24/2013 10:47 AM · #

  11. An obituary shows that my great grat grandfather was buried in Oak Park cemetary in New Castle, PA. I’m trying to locate his gravesite. Can anyone assist me? thanks

    Vicki Sullivan · 09/04/2013 11:14 AM · #

  12. I also visited this cemetery trying to look for Thomas H Vogan and Margaret J Palmer Vogan, both are buried there but not able to find the head stones. If you can find them, this would be greatly appreciated

    Soozie Evans (Vogan) · 11/08/2013 12:28 PM · #

  13. First of all, what is shown as the cemetery office ISN’T. That is now a private residence, and the Oak Park office is in the plaza behind Tanner’s Restaurant on Wilmington Road.

    Secondly, for those searching for graves, contact the Lawrence County Historical Society. That group has a book by Dwight Copper showing the location of all names/graves/stones when Dwight published the book several years ago.

    Edward Petrus · 11/16/2013 08:11 PM · #

  14. (EDITOR’S NOTE) Edward, At the time of the original posting of this page the red house was serving as the admin office. I was in there more than once seeking information. I just need to update the page to reflect that info that the house has been sold. The cemetery association is usually the best way to search for graves as they have decent records. Dwight’s books are also an awesome resource. I have almost 25 of them at this time and hope to own them all in the near future. RIP Dwight. Jeff

    Jeff Bales Jr · 11/17/2013 09:07 AM · #

  15. (EDITOR’S NOTE) Mike Wroe from England, I found the obituary you mentioned for Mr and Mrs Louis McCreary. It seems they were buried together in Oak Park Cemetery. I’ll see if I can locate their gravesite in the future and get a few photos for you. Jeff

    Jeff Bales Jr. · 11/28/2013 02:32 PM · #

  16. Jayne Zingaro is my friend’s mother.

    John Wesner · 12/11/2013 05:16 AM · #

  17. (EDITOR’S NOTE) Cathy, I can tell you the sections at least for some BURCKART stones at Oak Park.

    1) Charles A & Edna S. in SECTION A

    2) Sara M/George J./Helen M/Anna C./Catherine A./John G in SECTION L

    3) Jacob F. & Helena B. in SECTION 2

    I’ll post a section map of the cemetery here soon. Jeff

    Jeff Bales Jr · 12/18/2013 07:09 PM · #

  18. (EDITOR’S NOTE) Kay Hale, Ida P. Flanary (1880-1953) is buried in SECTION 2 in Oak Park Cemetery. It’s the section nearest the old admin office, which is now a private residence. I’ll try to post a photo of the stone in the near future. Jeff

    Jeff Bales Jr · 12/18/2013 07:30 PM · #

  19. Not sure if Zona family members buried ther but sure would be nice to see particularly Pasquale Zona my grandfather. Thank you

    Anna Hall · 12/28/2013 11:46 AM · #

  20. (EDITOR’S NOTE) Anna, Looking through Dwight Copper’s wonderful volumes I only found one Zona (thru 2005) buried at Oak Park. The entry is for Nickie Zona but has no birth or date dates. Pasquale Zona, who died on April 21, 1961, is buried in St. Vitus Cemetery in Shenango Twnp. Hope this helps. Jeff

    Jeff Bales Jr · 01/05/2014 08:19 PM · #

  21. Can’t find Robert Dickey or Arvilla Dickey
    Are they there?

    DJD · 02/18/2014 11:11 AM · #

  22. Looking for location a graves for Charles Webber Lutton (dod 28 Apr 1936) and Suda Emery Lutton (dod 1928).

    Don Schmitz · 03/18/2014 03:40 PM · #

  23. My great grandfather, Stances “Frank” Porter, was the caretaker at Oak Park Cemetery in 1920 and lived in a cabin which had an outdoor water pump. My father, Ralph Porter Cramer, was born in that cabin in 1920. Is there any written history of the cemetery and its caretakers? Are there any pictures of that cabin?

    LonaMcConn · 03/25/2014 04:32 PM · #

  24. Am looking to find the family name of Badger

    James William Badger d 1941 wife Eva Camelia McClure Badger d 1946 both according to their obits are buried in this cemetery

    and their 1 daughter

    Cletha Ellena Badger br 1892 believe died 1896 and might be buried in this cemetery as her parents were.

    Anyone have any info on Cletha Ellena please?

    Thank you

    Sharon · 04/21/2014 02:09 PM · #

  25. for Sharon Badgers you named are all in section D of Oak Park. James W. 1862-1944 Eva C. 1866-1948 Clethia 1892-1896

    Dave · 04/23/2014 03:44 PM · #

  26. The Luttons are in section 3. Charles Webber 1858-1936 Suda Emery 1860-1928

    Dave · 04/23/2014 03:59 PM · #

  27. Pasquale Zona was buried at ST Vitus Cemetery

    Dave · 04/23/2014 07:20 PM · #

  28. Dickeys are in section D of Oak Park cemetery. Robert J 1903-1970 Arvilla M 1905-1982

    Dave · 04/23/2014 07:22 PM · #

  29. I found a death certificate my great great grandfather and it said he was buried in Oak Park. I have searched everywhere online but it does not show on Find A Grave. Is there any way to find out if he is in fact buried there? Any help or advise would be greatly appreciated!

    Sarah · 04/24/2014 08:30 PM · #

  30. Can anyone help me locate the grave of

    Susan Alma Robison 1882—1889

    She would be my Grand Aunt, my Grandmother’s sister. She died at the age of 7 of measles. There are no official records of her, as she was born and died between census records. I just have a notation about her in some private papers, which indicate she was buried in Oakwood Cemetery. If it would be convenient, could someone locate her grave and perhaps take a picture for me?

    I was named after her. The first-born daughter was always named Susan, going back to Ireland. I would like to have something “official” to record her short life, such as a picture of a gravestone, cemetery records, etc.

    She is not in the New Castle News, she died the year before it went into print.

    Thanks for any help!

    Susan Lantz · 05/10/2014 07:20 PM · #

  31. Sarah, I would like to help but you failed to mention the name of your 2nd great grandfather.

    Dave Haering · 05/15/2014 07:52 AM · #

  32. Susan, my sources don’t show Susan Alma Robison buried in Oak Park Cemetery. That doesn’t mean she isn’t there. There is an office at 2305 Wilmington Road and the phone number is (724) 652-5851. You said Oakwood cemetery in your inquiry. There is an Oakwood cemetery in Sharon, PA just north of New Castle.

    Dave · 05/15/2014 03:10 PM · #

  33. Am looking for gravesites for Thomas and Rachel Jenkins. Appreciate any suggestions on how to find the graves in the Oak Park Cemetery.

    Mike · 06/04/2014 02:06 PM · #

  34. I am looking for my parent’s grave site @ Oak Park cemetery. I plan to visit this month June 2014.
    Their names are: Robert J Dickey (buried in Feb 1970 and Arvilla Buck Dickey (buried in March 1983)
    any help will be much appreciated.

    David Dickey · 06/09/2014 08:55 AM · #

  35. I am looking for the grave of my Great, Great Grandfather Clinton Charles Alexander. I have documentation he was buried at Oak Park. thanks

    Robin Rosselet · 06/20/2014 11:00 PM · #

  36. Tabatha,

    The other BURCKART family members are buried in local Catholic Cemeteries.

    I have found relatives of Jacob Francis BURCKART. I am related to the BURCKART spelling in PA. Their extended family members live in Texas, Arkansas, Maryland, S.Carolina, Ga. MN. IA. CA. OH. WI.
    my phone number is 651-592-4950.
    Do you live in the area? I may travel to PA. to do research, and would like you assistance.
    Cathy

    cathy hayden · 08/14/2014 08:09 PM · #

  37. I want to visit the my grandparents’ graves. They are buried in Oak Park Cemetery. Can you tell me the location of the grave sites for Willard & Helen Hood and Homer & Lorena Gardner. Thank you.

    Linda Massie · 07/06/2015 03:28 PM · #

  38. Hello everyone,
    If you are searching for an interment at Oak Park Cemetery, it is best to contact the office at 724-652-5851. Linda Massie, when I get a chance, I can look in my book to see where the location of your grandparents graves are. You may e-mail me at shadowdomain72@yahoo.com if you would like for me to do so.

    Jeff, great job as usual with the page! Do you happen to know if the time capsule was every opened in 2014?

    Lauri · 07/07/2015 11:48 AM · #

  39. Looking for grave of Emma May Hoagland New Castle PA My family is driving around looking the the right cemetary. They have taveled from Calif so hope you can help. Thank you

    Jacqueline Beck · 08/29/2015 02:22 PM · #

  40. I am trying to find my fathers grave. John Franklin Cearfoss & can’t seem to locate it anymore. Please help if he’s on your records.

    jack cearfoss · 05/14/2016 12:22 PM · #

  41. (EDITOR’S NOTE) Linda, I found the graves you are seeking. Lorena and Homer Gardner are buried together in Section 4 Row 1. Helen and Willard Hood are buried together in Section M. Use the map above to narrow down your search. Section M is behind the large mausoleum and up against a wooded area (ravine). Hope this helps. Jeff

    Jeff (EDITOR) · 05/17/2016 10:22 AM · #

  42. (EDITOR’S NOTE) Robin R., Clinton C. Alexander 1856-1943 and Martha A. Alexander 1849-1916 are buried together in Oak Park Cemetery. The location is Section O. Use the map above and you should be able to find them after a little walking. Section O is towards the front and right of the large mausoleum. Jeff

    Jeff (EDITOR) · 05/17/2016 10:36 AM · #

  43. (EDITOR’S NOTE) Jack C., I found a John F. Cearfoss who died in May 1971 at the age of 58. Is this your father? If so he is buried in the adjoining Graceland Cemetery – and not in Oak Park. Please call the admin staff at Graceland for more info on the location of the grave – (724) 652-7102. Hope this is useful to you. Jeff

    Jeff (EDITOR) · 05/17/2016 10:42 AM · #

  44. (EDITOR’S NOTE) Jacqueline B., Not sure if your family ever found the grave site of Emma Mae Hoagland 1862-1940, but it’s not in Lawrence County. She is buried in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery (or Hoagland Cemetery) in Mercer County. The small cemetery is located SW of Mercer near the intersection of Mercer-West Middlesex Road and Pulaski-Mercer Road. Hope this helps. Jeff

    http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Hoagland&GSiman=1&GScnty=2283&GRid=100772102&

    Jeff (EDITOR) · 05/17/2016 10:56 AM · #

  45. Hello,,, I’m looking for the grave of a dear friend of my grandfather’s- Robert Dobbs- who was buried here in Oaks Park Cemetery. It was most likely in the 1940’s.
    We really appreciate your help!
    Thank you,
    Cindy Brown

    Cindy Brown · 10/27/2016 10:13 PM · #

  46. Hi, I am looking for where my aunt is barred. Her name is Rose Shaffer DOB 8/24/18 passed 3/29/15. Thank You, Nancy

    Nancy Shaffer · 12/18/2016 06:24 PM · #

  47. If you can help, I am looking for Kenneth Platt (husband), John Papst (father) and Dorothy Papst (mother). It has been nearly 40 years since I was able to visit and I don’t remember location.Thank You!

    Norene Greer · 06/14/2017 02:18 PM · #

  48. My great great grandmother, Lucy Cartwright is buried there (1905) and so is her son-in-law, James E. Smith (1909) I would like to know if her husband, Ezekiel Cartwright (1906) and daughter, Sarah M (Cartwright) Smith are also buried there. Can you give me locations for any or all of these sites.

    Jim Cartwright · 10/08/2017 06:55 AM · #