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  • Writer's pictureRich Condon

William Scroggins - Barber in Allegheny City and veteran of the US Navy in the Civil War

This story originated as a post on the Facebook page "Civil War Pittsburgh." You can find the original post by clicking HERE.


On September 25, 1913, 69-year-old William H. Scroggins wrote to the United States Bureau of Pensions requesting an increase in his pension pay - a monetary appreciation for his services aboard the USS Nansemond during the Civil War.

The son of a former slave, Scroggins enlisted with the US Navy in late 1863 while working as a barber around the port of Baltimore. During his service as a captain’s cook aboard the Nansemond, Scroggins witnessed operations around Wilmington, NC, including the January 1865 capture of a major Confederate stronghold, Fort Fisher.

After his discharge from the Navy in January 1865, the seafaring veteran relocated to Allegheny City where he spent the rest of his days.

Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette - July 19, 1875

Prior to his death in 1916, Scroggins was described by one colleague as a “sober, industrious man of good moral habits.” He was buried with his family in a segregated section of United Cemetery, nestled along Ross Township’s Cemetery Lane.

Among the scores of nearby burials are Scroggins’ two sons, and veterans of the First World War, as well as a veteran of the famed 369th US Infantry, the “Harlem Hellfighters.”

Oliver Scroggins, son of William - 6th US Pioneer Infantry

Walter Jones - 369th US Infantry “Harlem Hellfighters”

Due to years of neglect, however, only a handful of headstones remain in the cemetery. William H. Scroggins’ grave now rests between urban development and rapidly encroaching flora.

This neglected landscape is part of Ross Township’s United Cemetery, where scores of graves remain unmarked.



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