Could Marie Warenbuer Ferree’s tombstone be the oldest in Lancaster County?

Could this be the oldest tombstone in Lancaster County? If it is, in fact, the original stone, it would be 16 years older than Elizabeth King’s 1732 Chestnut Level Cemetery tombstone.

Is this Mary Ferree’s original tombstone?

It belongs to Marie (Warenbuer) Ferree, born in 1653 in Picardie, France. She came to America via Nutten Island (today Governor’s Island) between June 13 and August 2, 1710. She then made her way to present-day Lancaster County.

At the time of her death on January 1, 1716, this area was inside of Conestoga Township of Chester County. Lancaster County was not laid out until 1729. After the county’s formation, it became part of Strasburg Township. Then in 1843, it became Paradise Township.

When Ferree died, she was interred at Ferree Cemetery, now known as Carpenter Cemetery, located on Black Horse Road next to the Strasburg railroad track.

The cemetery is in the middle of the 2200 acres that were deeded to her son Peter and son-in-law Isaac Lefever. Legend has it that when she arrived at her new home, she exclaimed, “This is paradise!” Hence the name of the nearby town and eventual township.

You can find Ferree’s grave in the back right-hand corner of the cemetery. Here are the GPS coordinates: 39.994849, -76.119879.

Interesting side note. All of the records from Steinweiler, Germany, until her arrival in Pennsylvania, give her name as Marie Warenbuer, using her maiden name as was the custom of the time in Europe. She was not known as Marie Ferree until after her death.

What do you think? Could this the Ferree’s original tombstone?


6 thoughts on “Could Marie Warenbuer Ferree’s tombstone be the oldest in Lancaster County?

  1. Marie Warenbuer Ferree is my direct ancestor through my great great great grandmother Sarah LeFevre Witmer of Strasburg, PA. I visit her grave often. Marie’s may be the oldest Lancaster County grave, or one in Tschanz Graveyard between Strasburg and Lampeter. Elizabeth King’s grave at Chestnut Level Lower Cemetery near Quarryville of course is also a candidate as oldest. (I have direct ancestors also in Tschanz and Chestnut Level. After researching my paternal genealogy–a long, painstaking process– I’ve discovered that I could be a candidate for “Mr. Lancaster County”…not the bodybuilder!)

  2. It probably is a very old stone because that is NOT the correct name of my ancestor. Her actual name is Maria Warenbaur because regardless of what you read in those Ferree books and on the internet she was born at the time in France when women ALWAYS went by their birth surname for birth until the day that they died.

    In retracing the Ferree genealogy from Steinweiler, Germany in 1681 until they made their home in CHESTER Co. PA in 1712 I was only able to find ONE document where she is called Marie Ferree. That was an error created by the Chester Co. PA county clerk because he was NOT familiar with French naming of women. On the 1681 deed in Germany it clearly says the wife of Daniel Ferree is Maria WARENBAUR.

  3. Unfortunately, regardless of what we’d like to believe, the Mary Ferree stone is not original. The spelling of the name “Ferree” is not used until the 1750’s. Prior to that, it was spelled in the original French way as “Fiere.” Sometimes, in those colonial times, they added or subtracted letters, e.g. Fierre, etc.

    Ferree, as awkward as it is with all of the e’s and r’s, is an Anglicanization of Fiere.

    Moreover, if you compare the stone to the Lefever stones in the back row of the cemetery (to the left if you’re facing them-not sure what direction that is), The oldest stones are from Lefever’s much younger than Mary Ferree and they are not nearly in the same condition. In fact, I question whether the I.L. stone is the original for Isaac Lefever, although I do believe the locations of the gravesites are correct.

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