Universal York

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What is wrong with this York tombstone?

Dr. Benjamin Hoover and his committee have been very busy researching all aspects of the history of York’s First Presbyterian Church in celebration of the congregation’s 250th anniversary. They have made some interesting finds, such as the unusual date on the tombstone above.

Was there something different about the year 1846? Or did the stone cutter just not know the rhyme “Thirty days hath September… ?”

A check of the microfilm of the York Republican newspaper at York County Heritage Trust shows that 1846 had the usual number of days, no special leap day in June.

In the “DIED” column of the July 1, 1846 Republican the notice reads:

“ On the 30th ult., at the residence of his Sister, Mrs. Susan Cochran, in Lower Windsor township, STEPHEN J. ARMSTRONG in the 39th year of his age.”

(ult. stands for ultimo, Latin for in the month proceeding the current one. Our forebears seemed to use a lot more Latin than we do.)

So the 31st must have been the stone cutter’s error. He couldn’t have erased it very easily, even if it had been discovered at the time. I wonder if the family got a discount.

Click here for my previous post on the two tombstones of James Smith, Signer of the Declaration of Independence. Smith is also buried in the First Presyterian chuchyard.