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Oakland: The Last Duel in Pennsylvania


Partisan political squabbling, obscure factional feuding and name-calling in the press led to "the last duel in Pennsylvania." (63) The duel was between Tarleton Bates, prothonotary of Allegheny County, and Thomas Stewart, a young, local merchant. Stewart challenged Bates, and Bates accepted.

Dueling had been forbidden in Pennsylvania since 1794, under penalty of fine and imprisonment, and loss of citizenship for seven years. An unconverted public sentiment, however, still approved of the code of honor.... (64) The encounter took place [January 8, 1806] in a ravine in Oakland, in what is at present [1916] the Fourth Ward of the city of Pittsburgh. The ravine through which a rivulet coursed, called "Three-Mile Run," long since sewered over, opened on the Monongahela River, at a point now occupied by the lower end of the Jones & Laughlin Steel Company's ore-yard, and by the office of the Eliza Furnace. To-day there are laid out through the ravine several unpaved hillside streets with narrow board sidewalks, one of which is the lower portion of Halket Street. On the upper edge of the easterly border of the ravine is Bates Street, named for Tarleton Bates. The duel was fought near the Monongahela River; the distance ten paces; the weapons were pistols. Both principals displayed undaunted courage. Bates fell at the second fire, shot in the breast, and expired in an hour. (65) Stewart fled to Baltimore and never returned. (66) The ravine...ever since has been haunted with [Bates'] memory. (67)


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