The Story of the Lancaster Cemetery

The Lancaster Cemetery was established in 1846 by the First Reformed Church of Lancaster as a suburban burial ground. A ten-acre plot of land was purchased from the Longenecker Estate, and because of what then seemed like a vast tract of space, lot purchase was made available not only to church members but also to the community at large. (An additional purchase later doubled the size of the Cemetery.) The concept proved so popular that the church eventually agreed to sell the property to the major lot holders and thus relinquished itself from direct affiliation. The first interment took place in June of 1848. A more detailed early history of the Cemetery can be found by clicking here.

Today, the Lancaster Cemetery remains not only a functioning graveyard (burial plots are still available for purchase) but also a fascinating representation of Victorian values and sentiment. This charming fragment of the nineteenth century brings us vividly in touch with the philosophy and ideals of our forebears. Much symbolism and beauty remain on the artfully carved memorials-the flaming torch of knowledge, the rose with a broken stem, the open Bible, and allegorical figures representing wisdom and faithfulness, to name a few.

The remains of many distinguished Lancaster citizens can be found here-statesmen, soldiers, educators, religious leaders, musicians, and community benefactors. Contemplating their monuments makes us aware of the tremendous heritage that is ours. Funds are needed to safeguard this timeless treasure. Contributions may be mailed to Jerrold Smoker, President, Lancaster Cemetery, 205 East Lemon Street, Lancaster, PA 17602.