Haunted Lancaster: Ghastly discovery beneath Cherry Street in 1891

In October 1891, construction workers installing a sewer beneath Cherry Street discovered something unexpected. There in the ground were the remains of two human bodies and their decayed coffins. Opinions as to their origin were mixed.

Some believed that this spot was once part of an old Potter’s field, while others think they are bones of American Revolution soldiers. In fact, it was during the Revolutionary War that barracks stood a short distance away.

The red X on the map shows the relative location of the graves in comparison to the government buildings in 1776.

After the sewer was completed the remains were reinterred where they had been found. Their remains remain there still today.

Paupers or soldiers? What do you think?

The original newspaper 1891 articles detailing the discovery can be found below.

From the News Journal on October 12, 1891

Dry Bones Found.

Contractor Davis Kitch, while engaged in digging on Cherry alley, where he is building a sewer, unearthed the bones of two bodies. Some believe that the place was a part of the old Potter’s field, while others think they are bones of Revolutionary soldiers.


From the Lancaster Examiner on October 14, 1891.

A Ghastly Discovery

The remains of Two Human Bodies and Two Collins Unearthed.

While workmen in the employ of Davis Kitch were engaged in digging the trench for the Cherry alley sewer across Lemon street, Saturday morning, the bones of two human bodies were found, together with the decayed remains of two coffins.

During the Revolutionary War, a soldiers’ barracks stood in that section of the city. It is also said to be the site of a potter’s field. This is the explanation given for finding the bodies there. The remains may be those of soldiers or pauper. They will be returned to the trench when the sewer is completed.

Where the bones were found

The remains were found apparently at the intersection of North Cherry and East Lemon just west of Lancaster Cemetery. Here are the GPS coordinates: 40°02’40.4″N 76°18’13.9″W.

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