An unidentified 21-year-old woman whose skeletal remains have greeted visitors to the Armstrong County Historical Museum in the McCain House on North McKean Street in Kittanning for decades has found a better home.
She now rests in God’s Country, known as Wattersonville in Washington Township, Armstrong County, outside a little white church in the Wattersonville United Methodist Church cemetery on a shady hillside looking down on the Allegheny River.
The unknown woman’s grave is next to the grave of an unknown Civil War soldier whose epitaph is “Here Rests A Soldier Of The Civil War Name Unknown But To God.”
“She should like it here,” said Nancy Watt, wife of the former and late pastor of the church. “Where else could you put her that’s this pretty?”
The church cemetery association donated the gravesite for the unknown woman.
After a Sunday morning special Memorial Day service at the church, more than 100 people gathered for a burial service at her grave.
The McCain House Museum’s longtime resident skeletal remains were removed and cremated in preparation for the burial by Jack Bauer of the Bauer Family Funeral Homes of Kittanning. Bauer donated his services to the Armstrong County Historical Museum and Genealogical Society.
A grave marker with the words “A Young Mother Known Only To God” was provided at no cost to the historical society by Tim Stennett of Custom Design Monuments in West Kittanning.
The remains of the woman have been in the museum longer than anyone can remember, according to museum and historical society officials. An examination of the bones was able to determine the age and gender but not when she was born and died. Her height is measured to be 5 feet, 4 inches.
“She stood vigil over the museum and our artifacts for a long time,” said Ron Crytzer, vice president of the Armstrong County Historical Museum and Genealogical Society.
The congregation followed a procession of Civil War reenactors of the John T. Crawford Camp 43 Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and Sarah A. Crawford Auxiliary to the cemetery.
They circled and prayed around the grave. A gold box containing the woman’s ashes was placed on the grave to be buried there
The Civil War honor guard presented a salute. Flowers were placed at the foot of the grave.
“We’re here to honor the memory of one of your children, (God),” said Sherry Mosley, a lay minister and the church’s pastor, in conducting the graveside service. “Who she was or why she died we are not to know. She was somebody’s mother, somebody’s daughter. Unknown to us but known and precious to you.
“The church is honored to have her,” she added. “We are all God’s children.”
Memorial Day will honor the sacrifices of those men and women who have served their country, and the unknown woman now buried in the cemetery also will be honored for her sacrifices.
“No one knows (what sacrifices she made),” said Bobbi Ruth Blinn, a member of the museum and historical society. “She had children. Did they grow up to be soldiers?”
Blinn was the soloist during the regular church service and dedicated the hymn “Still, Still With Thee, God” to the unknown woman.
“She’s still with God,” Blinn said.