MAY 2016: 200 YEARS OF UNION PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Today I am going to discuss the two cemeteries adjoining Union Presbyterian Church. You may or may not know that one of them is the property of the church and the other is completely separate from the church, operating as a non-profit organization and managed by a 12 person board of directors that was founded in 1865. These men were not pleased with the condition of the church cemetery and decided to start their own. I will talk more about that cemetery next month. Today we will deal with the small church cemetery next to the parking lot with the single monument in the center. This cemetery started at about the same time the first church building was established across the road. That church building was completed in 1814 and the first person buried there was Peter Hastings, age 12, also in 1814. That cemetery has had about 140 burials. Unfortunately, the state of medicine being what it was, 65 of them, or nearly 50% were under the age of 50. The youngest was stillborn and the oldest 94. John Crawford, a revolutionary war soldier age 90 is buried there. Union’s very first pastor, Reverend Elkanah Dare died of swamp fever at age 44 and is buried there. His son was born seven months later. His wife died of typhoid fever in 1841 and is with him. By the way, that 94 year old in the cemetery is also the earliest born there, Christian Swisher, born in 1746. The last burial made there was in 1880 which was 15 years after the new cemetery started, but Joseph Parker was the last of his family and was buried there. The largest groups of names there are Andrews of which there are 19. The Andrews family owned most of the land around Union and supplied the church with the property upon which we now stand. Some of the most prevalent names in the cemetery are no longer common in this area, such as Caruth, Donohey, Homsher, Marchbank and Magough. Colerain Township was settled largely by Irish Presbyterians and the name Colerain is from a location in Ireland so it is also not surprising that names like Kilpatrick, McCalmont, McGough, McConnell, McClenathon, McCaslin and McCommon are there also. Another sign of a different era are the first names of some of the residents there: Such as Melancton, Cranmer, Uriah, Cromwell, Elkanah, Tirza and Lavina. Some other residents names have held up better over time: such as William Whiteside, John Hastings, William Hogg, John Ferguson and of course James Brown.! In the late 1920's the cemetery was in such disrepair that it was decided to remove all the mostly broken stones and clear the trees and briars and replace with a single monument with all the names listed on it. William Andrews, a direct descendant of the family that supplied the land purchased the large single monument in honor of his family and his late wife, Clara Ferguson Andrews. On October 18, 1930, the weekend of Unions sixth annual homecoming service a dedication service was held including trumpeters. The monument was unveiled by Mr. Andrew’s son and an acceptance speech was given by Frank Greenleaf, President of the Board of Trustees. The memorial brochure for the service was printed by George A. Smith of Quarryville. A few of the old stones were moved to family plots in the new cemetery, but I am aware of at least two farmsteads east of here where the sidewalks into the house are made of those tombstones.
Next month I will discuss the newer cemetery.