York City church finds 222-year-old gravestone under path


Cindy Lobach literally wrote the book on everyone buried in the First Presbyterian Church of York's graveyard a few years ago.

Now that tome, which covered the 178 people known to be there for the 250th anniversary of the church's erection, may need another chapter.

Workers digging up a stone walkway found a previously undiscovered stone dated from 1793, according to Lobach, the archivist for the church at 225 E. Market St. in York City.

The headstone belongs to Elizabeth Smith Kelly, who died Sept. 6 of that year at age 28.

She's the daughter of Col. James Smith, who signed the Declaration of Independence just a couple of decades before then. He had several kids, and the family branched out quickly; now, many are buried there in the cemetery.

"They're all there like in one little spot," she said. Elizabeth Kelly's grave marker is nearby, but somehow ended up under where the path was made. Lobach said many markers have been moved over the years for one reason or another. It's still to be determined whether Elizabeth's remains are with her gravestone.

Illness: According to the church, Kelly's obituary said she died 222 years ago "after a tedious and painful illness, which was supported with equal fortitude and resignation from the first symptoms of approaching dissolution to the last sad moment which was to separate the earthly tabernacle from that pure celestial spirit about to take its flight to the blissful mansions of eternity."

Lobach said Elizabeth Kelly's husband married her older sister Mary a few years after her death.

The goal eventually will be to move the stone to be with the rest of the family's markers, Lobach said.

Despite the stone's age, the words engraved on it are clear and easy to read.

"It's really pristine," she said.

The archivist was delighted to hear they'd found the stone.

"It's really cool to find any stone you didn't know existed," she said. But this one's particularly thrilling because it's so old, and because the person it honors is from a famous York County family.

"It's extra cool," Lobach said, "It's the icing on the cake."

— Reach Sean Cotter at scotter