Mary Jane Small, a prominent figure in York County history, was born in Tennessee in 1850. Little is known of her early years. At the age of 23, she married Reverend John Small, who held a respected position as a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church. Despite the societal constraints on women in official clergy roles at the time, Mary Small shattered barriers by becoming the first female elder ordained by the AME Zion Church in York in 1898. Her influence within the church and the community was profound, leaving a lasting impact on those around her.

Today, Mary Jane Small and her husband rest in Lebanon Cemetery in North York, where their legacy is honored by The Friends of Lebanon Cemetery, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the rich history of African American burial grounds in York County. Through research, documentation, restoration projects, and educational initiatives, this group seeks to illuminate the stories of those buried in these sacred grounds, ensuring that their contributions are remembered and celebrated for generations to come.

Mary Jane Small's story of resilience and determination continues to inspire individuals today, showcasing the transformative power of breaking barriers and making meaningful contributions to one's community. The efforts of The Friends of Lebanon Cemetery not only honor Mary Jane Small but also countless others interred in the cemetery, highlighting the significance of preserving history and sharing the impactful narratives of those who have gone before us. By promoting education and restoration, this group ensures that the cultural heritage of African American burial sites in York County is cherished, offering a window into the lives of those who shaped the region's history. Mary Jane Small's remarkable journey serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring influence one individual can wield and the importance of preserving the legacies of those who have made a difference.

Lebanon Cemetery is a part of Explore York's Cultural Trails.