Friday, May 27, 2016

"To Rescue from Oblivion"

My 6x great grandparents, Cornelius and Phebe (Ward) Vincent, both fought for freedom during the Revolutionary War. Over 100 years ago, a newspaper journalist visited the cemetery where they had been buried more than 100 years earlier. He wrote a wonderful description of the cemetery, and happened to include the inscription of my ancestor's headstone! 

Image of tombstone of Cornelius and Phebe Vincent taken by Jeff Harvey and posted 21 Nov 2012

This headstone is now more than 200 years old and is mostly unreadable. I appreciate Jeff Harvey, a volunteer at Find A Grave, for posting this photo and granting me permission to share it.

The cemetery, located in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, is described in 1911 as follows: 

Within a few miles from this [Watsontown] borough is an ancient cemetery that is without doubt among the most peculiar and noticeable to strangers passing by that can be found in Pennsylvania. It is situated within the shadow of the old Warrior Run Presbyterian church in Delaware township - a church massive in proportions built nearly a century ago of brick, with heavy English pillars in front. It stands upon a rise of ground and is surrounded by a grove of mammoth oaks, under which the open gatherings of its people are held annually.

Image of Warrior Run Cemetery, approximately 100 years after article.
Photo taken by Jeff Harvey and posted 21 Nov 2012
Within the church yard adjoining sleep today hundreds of members who have passed within the vale during the century past after living for many years under the teachings given from the pulpit of this ancient edifice. The cemetery is not large in area, but rows of white marble slabs extend the length of this plot so closely connected that passage between is almost impossible. Almost every foot of ground is occupied by monuments, slabs and markers, the whole presenting a little white city of the dead, imposing and beautiful, and one not to be equaled in this section of the state. Surrounding the while is a heavy wall surrounded by a steel cap. All is kept in excellent repair and everything within is a model of neatness, the result of constant care and attention. A stranger will be impressed with all the surroundings and as he enters the gates and passes among the[m] some strange inscriptions will be seen. Among them the following are of interest.

These Catch the Eye. [My family is the 2nd monument listed, so I'm skipping the first.]

This monument is erected by John Vincent, Esq, to rescue from oblivion the memory of his beloved parents, Cornelius and Phebe Vincent. They were born in Newark, N. J. and died in Milton, Pa. He [last line of paper & very smeared, but the inscription is posted on Find A Grave, so I'll continue...] died July 16th 1812 in the 76th year. She died February 25th 1809, in her 70th year. Here the weary are at rest. [The newspaper has a typo saying "she died... 1908, but it should be 1809.]

I am grateful to this newspaper for publishing this account, and also to John Vincent, Esq (1772-1860), a brother of my direct ancestor, Daniel Vincent Esq (1760-1827), for erecting this wonderful monument to our common ancestors.

Source: [Watsontown, Williamsport Sun-Gazette, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, 25 Apr 1911, page 7, column 6, digital image, ( : accessed 25 May 2016]

My Line of Descent:

  • Cornelius Vincent (1736-1812) m. Phebe Ward (1740-1809)
  • Daniel Vincent (1760-1827) m. Angelchy Hough/Huff/Heuff (1760-1821)
  • Elizabeth "Betsy" Vincent (1789-1846) m. George Watson (1783-1856)
  • Sarah Jane Watson (1826-1853) m. John Quiggle Stewart (1825-1883)
  • Alexander Stewart (1852-1922) m. Catherine Jane McClintock (1850-1929)
  • Andrew McClintock Stewart (1882-1954) m. Bessie Waldron Merrill (1879-1959)
  • My paternal grandfather


  1. How wonderful to be able to see and know so much about your ancestor's final resting place. I believe my Revolutionary War ancestor is buried on private land in Ohio and while I would like nothing more than to visit one day, I really doubt it will happen. Sigh.

    1. Debi, I don't think I'll make it to this cemetery this summer, but I am planning a trip to Pennsylvania next month and will get to visit quite a few of the final resting places of my ancestors. It should be an amazing trip!

  2. How wonderful that a volunteer shared a picture of the headstone. I hope you get to visit the cemetery. There is just a special feeling at standing at their burial place.

    1. Yes, Michelle, I hope I can visit this headstone! If not this trip, then soon!

  3. My ancestors have also featured in published memorial inscriptions, Dana. They’re fantastic, especially when the headstones are no longer legible. Seems, tombs that have been around for centuries have become increasingly illegible in recent decades – maybe the rain is more erosive now or something.

    1. Dara, that's the first time I've seen that, and I just loved it! Someone actually had the transcription for this particular tombstone at FindAGrave - I don't know how! (I've asked, but haven't heard back yet.) However, I also just appreciated seeing the description of this cemetery.


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