The Philip Lefever Burying Ground



     The Reverend Mr. William F. Worner went about Lancaster County copying all the old grave markers he could find, which he recorded as librarian of the Lancaster County Historical Society.  He wrote, "The Lefever graveyard, approximately 50 by 100 feet, was originally on the farm of Christian Lefever [10-098] now owned by Furry H. Frey in West Lampeter Township.  The graveyard, if an almost impenetrable blackberry thicket may be referred to as a graveyard, is about two hundred feet from Gypsy Hill Road that leads from Lancaster to Route No. 222.  The graveyard is about three hundred yards north-east of the "Big Spring," which has long been a landmark in Lancaster County.  On July 13, 1935 we paid our first visit to the blackberry patch and copied as many of the inscriptions as we could under the most scratching conditions.  Doubtless we missed some of the tombstones;  if we did, it could not be avoided for it was almost impossible thoroughly to penetrate the jungle.  We counted 20 headstones, 10 foot stones, and a number of field stones."  We wonder how many graves could be there.

     Circa 1985 a Lefever descendant wrote to Franklin D. Lefever, publisher of THE PENNSYLVANIA LEFEVRES, about this old cemetery.  Franklin investigated, had a difficult time finding it, and when he finally located it in the thicket, most of the markers had been tramped down into the soft earth by cattle who used that cool shady area as a standing place.  Painstakingly he cleared it, set up the markers he could find, and wired together many of the broken remaining markers.  It took him more than a week!  Then the farmer fenced the cemetery to keep the cattle away.  In 1995 Franklin succeeded in finding a Lefever descendant who was willing to keep the cemetery grass mowed.

     Of these remaining records the earliest burial here recorded was for Peter Eckman who died 9/1/1799.  However, this was always known as the Philip Lefever (7-002) Cemetery, and it would be natural to believe he (who died September 1766) and his wife Maria Herr Lefever who died 6/6/1786 were buried here, but markers no longer exist.  So Philip may have been the first to have been buried here in 1766, and his wife some twenty years later.

The latest burial according to these records was for Elizabeth Smeltz, likely the mother of Elizabeth Smeltz Gall Lefever, the second wife of Henry Lefever 9-029.  She died 12/6/1841.

Paul S. Lefever  1996

Photo Collage of the Philip Lefever Burying Ground