You may have driven past it hundreds of times on Steubenville Pike without giving it any thought, but the beautiful cemetery at Union Presbyterian Church – "the church on the hill” – has quite a long and fascinating history.
Like the church itself, the cemetery was founded in 1794. Among the first to be buried there were some 24 soldiers who fought in the American Revolutionary War, and whose 240-year-old graves are still distinguished with metal historical markers depicting a soldier in a tri-cornered hat.
In 1894, to mark the centennial of its founding, Union Church published “The History of the Union Presbyterian Congregation.” Church member and writer Samuel S. Glass (1842-1902) wrote; “There, in that little cemetery, repose those fathers and mothers, those brothers and sisters, those husbands and wives, and those loved ones of precious memories, who, in years gone by, adorned not only their own homes and firesides, but also this inclosure (sic).”
As a poignant postscript to the musings he made about the cemetery while living, Samuel, his family and descendants are buried there.
In 1939, Union Cemetery was constituted as a National Shrine by the National Commissioners of the Federation of Federal Shrines.
“It has within its hallowed precincts the sacred remains of our Founding Fathers, and other distinguished soldiers and patriots. It is the thoughtful testimony of local and state leaders of the National Shrine Association that Union Cemetery and Church constitute one of the most logical and beautiful Shrines in the State and in the nation,” the Commissioners of the Federation of Federal Shrines stated.
Today, servicemen and women from all U.S. wars repose in Union Cemetery.