Bates Street

From Pittsburgh Streets
Bates Street
Neighborhoods Central Oakland, South Oakland
Origin of name Tarleton Bates

Bates Street is named for Tarleton Bates (1775–1806), who was killed in the last recorded duel in Pittsburgh (and probably in all of Pennsylvania).[1][2][3] He has been variously described as "a popular and promising politician,"[3] "a brilliant young newspaperman,"[4] and "a Quaker who left the faith and became an excitable eccentric."[5]

Born in Virginia, he moved to Pittsburgh at age 18 and was appointed prothonotary of Allegheny County in 1800. He was a proud member of the Democratic-Republican Party, and along with Henry Baldwin (see 25th Street) and Walter Forward (eponym of Forward Avenue) he published a Democratic newspaper called the Tree of Liberty. Judge Hugh Henry Brackenridge, eponym of Brackenridge Street, was a major supporter of the paper. A political opponent, Ephraim Pentland, published a rival newspaper, the Commonwealth, and relentlessly abused Bates and others in its pages. Eventually, at the beginning of 1806, Bates had enough, found Pentland in Market Street, and attacked him with a whip. Pentland managed to escape and sent a merchant named Thomas Stewart to challenge Bates to a duel. Bates declined, saying that he viewed Pentland as no more than an apprentice, and insulting Stewart as well. Stewart demanded an apology from Bates, but Bates refused; Stewart then challenged Bates to a duel on his own behalf, and this time Bates accepted. The duel was fought on January 8, 1806, near Three Mile Run, where Bates Street is today. Stewart's second was William Wilkins, eponym of Wilkins Avenue; Bates' was Morgan Neville, son of Colonel Presley Neville and grandson of General John Neville (see Neville Street). The duelists each fired two shots. Stewart's second shot struck Bates in the chest, and he died an hour later. Bates' funeral was the largest that had been seen in Pittsburgh up to that time. He was buried in an unmarked grave, in accordance with Quaker custom, in the burial ground of the Trinity Episcopal Church (now Cathedral) on Sixth Avenue. Stewart fled to Baltimore and never returned to Pittsburgh.[6][7][8][3][9][5][10]


  1. Clifford C. Ham. Marilyn P. Ham, ed. Historic Oakland: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Articles from The Oakland Newspaper: 1989–1995, p. 15. Oakland Planning and Development Corporation, Pittsburgh, 2007. [view source]ham
  2. Torsten Ove. "Site names here are out of sight: From Swamp Poodle Road to Grant Street, locales in the region bear names that are little understood or largely forgotten." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 8, 1998, pp. A-1, A-6. 94754709, 94754864. [view source]ove
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Bob Regan. The Names of Pittsburgh: How the city, neighborhoods, streets, parks and more got their names, p. 63. The Local History Company, Pittsburgh, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9770429-7-5. [view source]regan
  4. George Swetnam. "Here in Pittsburgh." Pittsburgh Press, Sept. 29, 1947, p. 15. 149729673. [view source]swetnam
  5. 5.0 5.1 Lillian Thomas. "City plays the name game." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mar. 26, 2001, pp. C-5, C-8. 90410524, 90410540. [view source]thomas-city
  6. Margaret Carlin. "How our streets got their names." Pittsburgh Press, Feb. 6, 1966, Pittsburgh's Family Magazine, p. 10. 149098376. [view source]carlin
  7. Mrs. Elvert M. Davis. "The letters of Tarleton Bates 1795–1805." Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, vol. 12, no. 1, Jan. 1929, pp. 32–53. [view source]davis
  8. Michael Frachioni. "Pittsburgh's last duel: Wherein we may take heart that the violent means of the past no longer afflict the rivals for office in this Commonwealth." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Oct. 22, 2006, p. H-6. 96587681. [view source]frachioni
  9. T. L. Rodgers. "The last duel in Pennsylvania." Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, vol. 12, no. 1, Jan. 1929, pp. 54–57. [view source]rodgers
  10. James D. Van Trump and James Brian Cannon. "An affair of honor: Pittsburgh's last duel." Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, vol. 57, no. 3, July 1974, pp. 307–315. [view source]van-trump-cannon