project leader
Eric M
location
Greenfield & Squirrel Hill
(Pittsburgh)
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the project

We are celebrating the complex history of the Revolutionary War in our Pittsburgh region by placing a new historic marker at an iconic city intersection.

The PA Historical & Museum Commission has approved an official historical marker recognizing Simon Girty. The marker will be placed on the site of his former colonial farmstead in Pittsburgh. Girty was a controversial figure during the American Revolution. He had been captured and adopted by Seneca Indians as a child and grew to adulthood under the tutelage of Guyasuta, a great Seneca war chief who had acted as an intermediary between the colonists and his people. Simon Girty would eventually assume a similar role.

At the end of the French & Indian War, the Native Americans of the Northwest Territories signed a treaty with the British which protected their claim to the lands beyond the Ohio River. They were required, however, to return all European captives. Thus in 1764, Simon Girty was returned to Fort Pitt by Guyasuta, himself. Here he was reunited with his mother Mary Turner and his four brothers. They claimed and settled a farmstead on Squirrel Hill, now straddling the Greenfield and Squirrel Hill neighborhoods. Simon, fluent in numerous Indian languages, and skilled in wilderness travel, joined the British Indian Department and became a scout, interpreter and intermediary with the Native Americans. At the outbreak of the Revolution, Simon was an officer in the Virginia Militia garrisoned at Fort Pitt. By 1778, he had clearly observed that the Americans coveted the Indian lands and intended to disregard the treaties. He defected to the British at Fort Detroit and immediately returned to the field of battle where he led and supplied the Native resistance to the American advances. He was an ally of Joseph Brant, Little Turtle, and Blue Jacket - the most celebrated Indian warriors of perhaps all time. He was also a mentor of Tecumseh, who would lead the next generation of Indians. After the Revolution, Indians from every region gathered at Auglaize in Western Ohio in 1794 to try to form a united front. US Secretary of War Knox reported to President Washington that Simon Girty was the only non-Indian invited to participate.

Girty was reviled and vilified by the new American nation and countless lurid and fabricated tales of atrocities were written about him. They were eventually disproved but the legacy lingers to this day. Regarded as a hero by the British, Canadians and the Indians, he was buried with full military honors in Canada. While there are numerous historical markers in the US denouncing him as a White Savage or The Great Renegade, this Pittsburgh historical marker will be the first to recognize his honorable conduct in resisting the Native American Genocide.

This text has been proposed for the marker. The final inscription will be unveiled at the dedication ceremony on September 30.

Simon Girty (1741 - 1818)

In 1756, Girty was captured and adopted by the Senecas. He grew to adulthood as a tribal member, but a 1764 treaty demanded his repatriation. Reunited with his family, he claimed a farm here while working as an interpreter and emissary at Fort Pitt. Increasingly aware that the Americans coveted the Indian lands, he "eloped" in 1778 to join the British and fight alongside the Indians on the western frontier. Vilified by Americans, he was valued by his Indian community as a trusted friend and military leader.

In addition to this official PA state plaque, we hope to create a more extensive outdoor signboard to tell the Girty story. 
The dedication ceremony is set for September 30, 2017 and will be incorporated into the annual History Walk of nearby Turner Cemetery, where Simon's mother and a brother are buried, along with veterans of the first four American wars.

 

the steps

Although the state approves applications for historical markers, the nominators must pay for the cast metal sign and its installation.

The dedication ceremony will be held on September 30 at which the marker will be unveiled.

Speakers will include authors, historians, political leaders who have supported this still-controversial project along with period reenactors and musicians.

The sign will be installed some weeks later.

Additionally, an illustrated signboard will be created to stand near the marker. It will tell the Girty story in greater detail beginning with Braddock's Defeat and extending through the War of 1812. 

why we're doing it

We believe in celebrating the complex history of the Revolutionary War in the Pittbsurgh region. 

In the past 15 years or so, there has been a renewed interest among historians of the American Revolution of the real conflicts and social consequences of the war. 

The Simon Girty Historical Marker will not only become a Signpost on the Trail of History but an actual signpost on the path to a more nuanced and balanced understanding of the Revolution.

budget

Cast aluminum plaque. $1700

installation of plaque.     $300

Dedication ceremony printing. $50

ceremony entertainment.  $300

illustrated signboard.      $400

Research & Development of signboard.  $250

 



Project Subtotal =  $3,000
ioby Platform Fee  $35
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $90
Total to raise on ioby = $3,125

 

updates

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photos

This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration

donors

  • James Adair UE
  • Joseph P.
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Mike S.
  • John B.
  • The Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition