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Whither Do Thou Lie, Philip Livingston? Hither or Thither?

One hates to split hairs. Especially the hairs of the dead. But a joyful discovery in my local cemetery was soon followed by an almost instant disappointment.

 

According to a few 19th-century published references, the remains of New York's own Philip Livingston--one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, on July 4, 1776--were buried in Trinity Church Cemetery. And in 1931, another cemetery ambler had recorded the inscription from Livingston's gravestone verbatim:

 

REMAINS REMOVED
FROM THE MIDDLE DUTCH CHURCH
FAMILY VAULT OF PHILIP LIVINGSTON.
ONE OF THE SIGNERS OF THE
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
LOT 796

So off I ran to see if the stone was still there. And it was! But no sooner had I got home and Googled up Philip Livingston online than I found scads more references and headstone images that located him at Prospect Hill Cemetery in York, Pennsylvania (where he'd died while attending the Continental Congress there in 1778).

But what gives? Here's a pic of the stone at Trinity Church Cemetery, but the story of his remains here remains a mystery. At least for the weekend.

 

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Comment by Allie McCoy on October 21, 2013 at 5:53pm

Eric, I have friends here in Philadelphia who are so interested in our colonial history that they've worked pro bono at historical sites downtown. They will love this story!

Comment by Eric K. Washington on October 21, 2013 at 11:40am

Oddly, wonderfully, this Philip Livingston mystery got better after my original post. Here's a link to an article I wrote last year, with more information under my belt. Check out the slide show on the Examiner article site, too:

"National Archives fetes July 4th, Founding Fathers' legacy, in bla...

Comment by Ed Wetschler on October 21, 2013 at 11:28am

Erik, whenever an Austrian emperor died, the royal coroners had their bodies interred in one church but cut out their hearts for burial in a different church. So maybe...?

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