History

The history of Unity Cemetery and Unity Chapel began nearly
two and a half centuries ago.

Not only does it embrace the immediate area—Unity Township and the city of Latrobe—but it is actually interwoven with the beginnings of Westmoreland County and of western Pennsylvania.

Unity Presbyterian Church, (Unity Chapel) about 1900

The Beginnings of Unity Presbyterian Church (aka Unity Chapel)

One of Forbes’ soldiers was Colonel John Proctor, who—as payment for his services to the British army—was given a tract of land which was located in the lowlands between what is now St. Xavier Road and the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport. On September 4, 1766, Reverends Charles Beatty and George Duffield, Presbyterian missionaries, passed through this area of Western Pennsylvania and stopped at Proctor’s cabin. There they conducted worship services for the pioneer settlers—mostly Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. The services were held outdoors in what is referred to as “Proctor’s Tent,” which was no more than a raised platform with a canopy of branches to provide a little shelter for the minister. The women who came to worship were seated on logs, while most of the men stood, their rifles in their hands.

The old entrance to Unity Cemetery, located along McCullough Road

The Creation of Unity Cemetery

When the founders of Unity acquired the land in 1774, it was used almost immediately as a burial ground. If we could go back in time and visit Unity Cemetery in the middle of the 1800s, we would find it quite different from Unity today. The funerals of this period were more ceremonious than at present. The minister in his buggy led the procession from the home to the cemetery. He was followed by the hearse, and then six pallbearers on horseback, each with a streamer of black crepe, wide and long, attached to his arm, floating in the wind. Behind him came the carriages and buggies of the mourners, the rear usually being made up of more on horseback.