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James Smith’s gravestone first masterpiece of Emanuel King, York monument maker

James Smith’s gravestone–July 4, 2012

A few months ago I wrote about what was probably Declaration of Independence signer James Smith’s original gravestone. A newspaper clipping from 1887 said it had been found in a basement in South George Street. The present location is unknown.

It was a mystery to the writer of that article, but I speculated that when a more ornate one was erected around 1850, one of Smith’s family may still have been living in the house where the gravestone was found. At one time Smith owned the whole half-block on the west side of George Street from what is now Mason Avenue to King Street. The Smiths and two of their daughters had houses on lots there.

I recently found a contemporary newspaper clipping describing the replacement monument that still glistens in the sun in the First Presbyterian Church of York’s graveyard today:

A Beautiful Piece of Mechanism
Our townsman MR. EMANUEL A. KING has just finished at his Marble Establishment in North George street, a Monument, which is one of the finest specimens of workmanship we have ever seen in that line of business. It is nine feet six inches high, highly polished and surmounted with an Urn, with suitable inscriptions upon it to the memory of the later JAMES JOHNSON, his wife and his father-in-law JAMES SMITH, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, over whose remains it is to be erected in the Presbyterian burial ground of this place. The inscriptions are executed in a neat and tasteful manner. The workmanship reflects great credit upon the taste & skill of Mr. King, as it is certainly a master piece of mechanism. Our citizens should at once call and examine it, and our word for it they will award to our young townsmen the credit of being able to compete with those of his city rivals.
Mr. K. informs us that he will shortly have some other very fine specimens of his work finished.

First Presbyterian Church of York is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year. Click here for multiple pages of their history and watch for upcoming publications.