Monday, November 29, 2010

God's Acre, A Historic Shippensburg Cemetery

Well, those of you who have been reading this blog for some time probably knew this post had to be coming sooner or later. Yes, I've managed to find a historic graveyard in Shippensburg; as Agent Smith says to Neo in the Matrix movies, it was inevitable! There are actually two historic cemeteries in the Shippensburg area. I visited God's Acre on North Prince Street just off King Street today; I'll be visiting the Spring Hill Cemetery, a much larger graveyard, another day.

Just behind the Vigilant Hose Company #1 fire station at the corner of King St. and North Prince St. is God's Acre, a cemetery first established in 1739 which was eventually dedicated to the soldiers of the Revolutionary, 1812, and Civil Wars and their families. Unlike the colonial era cemeteries of Newport, God's Acre is uncrowded. There are also no slate stones typical of New England cemeteries; God's Acre's stones are limestone, marble, or unpolished granite. [Note: For comparison, just click Cemeteries and Gravestones in the category cloud in the sidebar to look at my posts on Newport's colonial cemeteries and stone carvers.] The carving styles and decorative elements are also very different; this was an area settled by a far more diverse and less theologically radical population - Scots-Irish Presbyterians, English Anglicans, and German Lutherans and Mennonites. The imagery is "kinder and gentler" than the winged skulls of the Puritans and other Calvinists of New England. So let's go in through the lych gate on North Prince St. and take a look.

Note the plaque on the left gatepost. Below left is a close-up of it, and below right is a look at a plaque naming the Revolutionary War soldiers buried in God's Acre.

Now let's just wander through the graveyard looking at the different stones and carving styles and think about how different they are from the New England stones. I won't be providing any commentary on the carvers and the style elements because I know nothing (yet) about the funerary arts of this place and era. When my life's dust settles a little more than it has at this point, maybe I'll get a chance to study up on the subject; after all, the Shippensburg Historical Society is almost literally just around the corner!

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger


  1. Roy,
    Your post caught my eye on Willow's blog, and I just had to come check it out. I have lived outside of Shippensburg for 19 years, but your photos from this and previous posts have made it seem fresh and new to me. You definitely have a wonderful talent. Perhaps the local newspapers or the Cumberland County Historical Society would have need of your talents.
    Good luck here in Central PA!

  2. Really crisp detail in you photos, Roy.

  3. wonderful, but then again you know how partial i am to graveyard wandering!! had myself a wee wander in

    to the inevitable!!!

    and to roy!

  4. I Love This Roy ! I Am Discovering the AreaWith You! Happy Exploring!

  5. Wow I bed they're all dying to get in there. Sorry, such a 'dad' joke

  6. LOL at Baino's joke! ha.

    Roy, if you ever come to Cedarville, Ohio I'd be honored to show you our little cemetary. It looks very much like this one in style. Lovely old stones, fence and gate!

  7. Yeah! Always love the cemeteries! Beautiful... (I'm a fan of the Matrix movies as well.)

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