General’s funeral will be re-enacted
By Meredith Polley
For the Tribune-Review
Sunday, August 10, 2003
To commemorate the bicentennial of Gen. John Neville’s death, visitors to the Neville House in Collier today can experience a closed-coffin re-enactment of a 19th-century funeral.
The Rev. Richard Davies, of Old St. Luke’s Church, which Neville helped found, will perform a service at 2 p.m. in the parlor of the mansion known as Woodville Plantation.
If weather permits, costumed soldiers and a drummer from the Fort Pitt Royal Americans then will carry the coffin outdoors to a spot where a number of modern dignitaries will assist in recreating the general’s funeral.
They include historian Ron Carlisle, author of “The Story of Woodville;” U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair; and Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation Executive Director Louise Sturgess.
The Neville House Associates volunteers who run the house planned the event to draw attention to Neville’s career and Woodville’s history.
“We want to show people what funerals of the day were like,” said Neville House President Nancy Bishop. “We know it’s unusual, but mostly because it is the 200th anniversary of Neville’s death, we knew we had to do something.”
Neville, who died at 72 on July 29, 1803, served in the Revolutionary War, was a commandant at Fort Pitt and a friend of George Washington. The local tax collector, Neville lost his later residence, called Bower Hill, when angry farmers protested the excise tax on whiskey in 1794.
Visitors who attend the service may be asked to read eulogies to make the funeral authentic and interactive.
The event will include the dedication of a memorial shelter on the grounds built to house three original Neville tombstones — including those of Neville and his wife. The house will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. All events are free.
Mari Jean Ferguson, a Neville House docent and professor at La Roche College, showed off a collection of artifacts Thursday.
Ferguson said she hopes the services will be inspirational.
“It helps to have our heroes,” she said. “To know that others overcame many challenges in the past can inspire us today, and the connections people make with history can show that we are one big family