May 2023 Program
Tour of Saint Luke's Union Church Cemetery
Presented by June Lloyd and Jean Robertson
St. Luke Lutheran Church at New Bridgeville in Chanceford Township celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2022. As part of that celebration, Jean Robinson and June Lloyd put together a cemetery walk. The well-received tour is being repeated for the South Central Pennsylvania Genealogical Society. The tour focuses on the congregation’s long history and then looks into the lives of a sampling of the 125 Veterans known to be interred at St. Luke. The United States military service of these patriots spans eight wars, from the U.S. Revolution through Vietnam. Several of the stories are multi-generational. After 251 years, many present day people have ancestors that rest at St. Luke, on the tract named Icy Hill by the original land owner, Jacob Stehli.
About the presenters: Jean Glatfelter Robinson’s and June Burk Lloyd’s roots both go far back into the 18th century in York County. They both have been actively researching local and family history for many years. Jean is a long-time volunteer at the York County History Center Library and Archives and very active with the Casper Glattfelder Association. June is Librarian Emerita and current volunteer at the York County History Center Library and Archives and is involved with the William Henry and Margaret Eveler Burk Reunion. They got to know each other many years ago at a (What Else?) local history class and have been working together to help preserve and interpret our rich heritage ever since.
Program summary and review by Becky Anstine:
The Sunday cemetery tour was presented on an overcast afternoon against the quiet, pastoral countryside on Furnace Hill Road close to the River Hills. Both June Lloyd and Jean Robinson, Saint’s Luke Church members, led a sizable group of onlookers throughout the cemetery, detailing primarily those individuals who had served in the military from the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam War. The following passage is from a handout comprised of the research of June Lloyd, Lila Fourhman-Shaull and Jean Robinson, which was provided for last year’s Saint Luke Church’s 250th celebration and tour.
St. Luke’s (Stehli’s) church was organized in 1772 as a Union church of Lutheran and Reformed congregations, with records going back to 1773. The first log church and the first part of the cemetery were located on one acre, 126 perches surveyed off of a tract Jacob Stehli had called “Icy Hill.” It is now the far western portion of the cemetery. The log church was replaced by a brick building on the same site in 1866. In 1889, the Reformed congregation dissolved, and the Lutherans replaced the brick church with the present frame building on the eastern side of the cemetery, which had grown over the years.
Although quite early, this first purchase of the land, about 1 ¾ acres from Stehli (also Stahley, Staley), wasn’t recorded with York County Recorder of Deeds until 1821. Then the congregations purchased land as needed over the years. Subsequent purchases included 2 acres from Jacob Tome in 1892; about 2 ½ acres from Frederick and Mary Uffleman in 1889; approximately 2 7/8 acres from John and Ida Shenberger in 1903, 2 acres from Edwin and Edna Hurst and Gerald and Rhoda Nissley in 1980 and 3 acres from Barley family members in 2000, the newest part laying to the east of the church.
The stones in the older part of the cemetery are in German. The earliest legible date of death on a grave stone is that of Nicolaus Troutwein, who died December 17, 1799. There were undoubtedly earlier burials, but many early stones are no longer legible, and some are marked only with initials. Some graves were probably not permanently marked, and some markers have disappeared over the years. Some even disappeared and came back – in 1962 four very old stones that had been stolen in 1946 showed up at the cemetery. Extensive landscaping and leveling was done in the 1920s. At that the Cemetery Association became a separate corporation. More leveling was done in 1946 and St. Luke had Silbaugh Memorials do restoration work in the cemetery in 1989.
There are around 130 known United States Military Veterans buried at St. Luke. They include three or four from the Revolutionary War, four from the War of 1812, one from the Spanish American War, 32 from the Civil War, 13 from World War 1, 56 from World War II, five from the Korean War, four from the Vietnam War and 10 who served during peacetime.
The Historical Society of York County included St. Luke in their York and Adams County cemetery census in the summer of 1932. At that time there were about 800 readable gravestones. For the current database, Richard Craley started updating the inscriptions in 2010 and has been keeping the records up to date.