Judge John Handley’s Grave Mistake

Photo courtesy of the Winchester Star

Judge John Handley, Born Jan. 27, 1835; Died February 15, 1895, despite what his memorial may say

Judge John Handley is one of the biggest names in Winchester. The man was important enough to have a library and high school named after him. So if he’s such a big local icon, how did his memorial manage to mess up his place of birth and birth date? The mistakes were only recently discovered, and no one is sure how they managed to go unnoticed for more than 100 years.

John Handley was born in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland on January 27, 1835. He moved to North America in the early 1850s and became a naturalized U.S. citizen on October 24, 1856. A few years later, he moved from his home in New York to Washington D.C. to get a government job. He studied law while in the city, and years later, his studies paid off when he made a fortune in multiple investments and land purchases. In 1874, Handley received his Democratic nomination for a judgeship in Pennsylvania. When he won the campaign over his opposing nominee, Handley served as a judge in multiple counties until 1885, and then died ten years later. The Handley Library was completed in 1913, and a school bearing his name was finished in the fall of 1923.

Handley seems pretty important, and his memorial in Mount Hebron Cemetery only adds to his image, but that didn’t stop somebody from messing up the information on his tomb, which states that he was born in Dublin, Ireland 20 days before his actual birthday. The tomb also states that John Handley was a founder of the Industrial School of Winchester, which, as a matter of fact, does not exist.

Officials in the local public school systems haven’t come to any conclusions as to why the information is wrong, other than it was just a mistake. The funniest part about this is that these mistakes were never publicly noticed until recently. The Handley Board of Trustees will most likely discuss the issue, but it’s currently unknown if anything will be done about the memorial, considering the amount of time and money it would take.