Gravestone finds new home

The gravestone of the master mason who helped build Pennsylvania’s first capitol building has a new home after years of being stored or used as a doorstep. Members of the Westtown Township Historical Commission rededicated the stone of Valentine Kirgan during a brief ceremony at the Birmingham Lafayette Cemetery in Birmingham Township Saturday.

Members of the Westtown Township Historical Commission, (from left) Gail Guterl, Dave Walter and, former member Jonathan Hoppe, with the newly transplanted and rededicated gravestone of Valentine Kirgan.

Kirgan was born in 1771 in Bradford Township but later moved to Westtown, according to Westtown’s Dave Walter. He was the lead mason on the capitol building project that was completed in 1822. Kirgan died in 1831 and was buried in the Taylor family cemetery on that family’s Westtown Township farm. The gravestone began its journey 140 years later.

Following an archeological recovery excavation that uncovered the remains of 30 persons, work was halted and the farm —  at what is now Street Road and Tower Course Drive — was sold to a developer. The farm became the Pleasant Grove residential community.

Kirgan's stone was found in 1973, being used as a doorstep at Taylor's barn before it was taken to West Chester University. Westtown’s Historical Commission recovered the stone in 2016 as part of a project to honor Revolutionary War militia members, Walter said.

The commission received permission from the Birmingham Lafayette Cemetery to relocate the stone there, near the grave of Kirgan’s daughter Debbe, his son-in-law Joseph Hunt and two of his granddaughters.

 

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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