Known Tombstone Carvers

of Pennsylvania

A Project of  the PAGenWeb Archives

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These pages seek to identify and document the known tombstone carvers in the state of Pennsylvania, from all time periods.  If any one has any information about additional tombstone carvers to be included, or have additional information to add to an existing carver,  please feel free to contact Ellis Michaels or Bill Plack

William P. Saunders

(Biographies and Photographs contibuted by Bill Plack

     I have been following William Saunders, and admiring his work, for about 15 years now but I still do not have any idea when or where he was born or died. If anyone can provide that information it would be very much appreciated.

     What I do know from my research is that he worked in Westmoreland County from c.1810 to 1828, he did very nice work, and he had ambitious plans for his future which apparently did not materialize.

     Some tombstone carvers had distinct and unique features so that after you have seen enough examples of their signed stones, you can recognize them even when they aren’t signed. The problem with Saunders is that many of his features were also used by other carvers who worked in the area at the same time. Therefore, I have only attributed stones to him that are signed by him, and these have been found in two distinct and separate areas.

     William Saunders worked in Mt. Pleasant, Westmoreland County, from c.1810 to 1827, and then moved to Greensburg, where he worked in 1828. However, half of the locations where I have found his stones are in Somerset County. I have to wonder why he was so popular in Somerset County when there were already other carvers working in that area, and also how it would be practical to provide tombstones at such a distance when the only means of transportation was horse and wagon. Apparently distance did not bother Saunders though, as witnessed in the newspaper ad below, where he solicited trade in Westmoreland “and the adjoining counties”.

     What puzzles me is the way his customers were geographically “clustered”. One fairly small cluster includes 3 cemeteries in the area south and west of Greensburg, with another just over the county line in northern Fayette County. The other, larger, cluster in Somerset County, extends from Friedens, in the center of the county, 20 miles south to Lower Turkeyfoot Township, and I have not found any stones signed by him anywhere between these two clusters.

     The other puzzle is that, after about 17 successful years of working in Mt. Pleasant, he moved to Greensburg in 1828, solicited business in a newspaper ad, even advertised for an apprentice to help with his business. He apparently had every expectation of expanding his business and yet I have never seen any stones that he made after 1828, the year that he moved.

Newspaper Ad for William Saunders

printable text version of biography


Known Examples of

William P. Saunders'

stone carvings

Friedens Lutheran Cemetery

Somerset Township, Somerset County


Union Cemetery

Somerset, Somerset Township, Somerset County


Jersey Baptist Church Cemetery

Lower Turkeyfoot Township, Somerset County


Samuels Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery

Somerset Township, Somerset County


Old Zion Lutheran Cemetery

East Huntingdon Township, Westmoreland County


Middle Presbyterian Cemetery

Mt. Pleasant Township, Westmoreland County


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Tombstone Carver Page maintained by Ellis Michaels

this page was last updated 27 Apr 2011

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