Posted: 02/16/2024

Famous Lancastrians

Ever wonder who you might know from Lancaster?

Did you know that Lancaster has quite a reputation? It's true! This charming city is home to some pretty famous people.

Robert Fulton

Born: 11/14/1765 - Died: 2/25/1815
Fulton was an artist, inventor, and engineer who worked with Robert Livingston to develop the first commercially successful steamboat, The Clermont. He was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte to design the first practical submarine. Later, Fulton, Livingston, and Nicholas Roosevelt would work together on another steamboat, the New Orleans.

This steamboat made a journey through lands in the new Louisiana Territory that were not heavily settled or well mapped, changing the outlook of trade and transportation in the American heartland. In Lancaster, you can find the Fulton Theatre, the Fulton Steamboat Inn, and Fulton Elementary School all named after Robert Fulton.

President James Buchanan

Born: 4/23/1791 - Died: 6/1/1868
James Buchanan held many roles in politics, culminating in his term as the 15th President of the United States from 1857-1861. Buchanan was involved in an important decision regarding slavery in the territories and the Dred Scott case, with his presidency ending as the nation found itself embroiled in a Civil War.

After he retired in 1861, he came back to Lancaster to live at Wheatland. Visitors are welcome to tour his mansion and learn more at LancasterHistory.

Thaddeus Stevens

Born: 4/4/1792 - Died: 8/11/1868
Thaddeus Stevens, a powerful statesman, fought in Congress and in the courtroom for the abolition of slavery and for the equality of African Americans in the decades prior to and during the Civil War, and in the era of Reconstruction. His greatest achievements include two of the great reforms of the nineteenth century: the establishment of free public education and of the principle of equality before the law for all Americans, regardless of race. Recent research has confirmed Stevens’ active involvement in the Underground Railroad, assisting fugitive slaves by harboring them at his Lancaster, Pennsylvania property at 45 South Queen Street.

Visit the Stevens and Smith Historic Site and museum that will be opening in 2025, located adjacent to the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square. In Lancaster, the Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology is a part of his legacy, and you can find his grave and monument at the Shreiner-Concord Cemetery in the city.

Milton Hershey

Born: 9/13/1857 - Died: 10/13/1945
Hershey started his career by founding the Lancaster Caramel Company in 1883. After traveling he became more interested in producing chocolate than candy and sold the Lancaster Caramel Company for $1M and started the Hershey Chocolate Company, which produced its first Hershey’s chocolate bar in 1900.

Hershey and his wife created the Milton Hershey School (formerly the Hershey Industrial School) in 1909 which is still open today, offering cost-free private education to students in need. In Hershey, PA, stands Hershey Park, Hershey Park Stadium, Hershey’s Chocolate World, and the Hotel Hershey, all in the town the chocolate company was born.

Charles Demuth

Born: 11/8/1883 - Died: 10/23/1935
Charles Demuth was a painter who specialized in watercolors and oils and developed the Precisionism style of painting. A graduate of Franklin & Marshall College (formerly Franklin & Marshall Academy), he later moved to Paris and became a part of the Avant-Garde scene. His home in Lancaster is now the Demuth Museum, which aims to promote visual arts and local artists in Lancaster as well as to preserve Demuth’s works.

Jonathan Groff

Born: 3/26/1985 - Present
Jonathan Groff is from Lancaster, PA where he attended Conestoga Valley High School. Jonathan then went on to become an actor, most known for his roles as Kristoff in Disney’s Frozen, King George in Hamilton, among other movies and TV Shows such as Glee, Mindhunter, and many more.

Bruce Sutter

Born: 1/8/1953 - Present
Bruce Sutter attended Donegal High School in Mount Joy, and college at Old Dominion University. He signed with the Cubs minor league baseball team in 1971, and later would learn and popularize the split-finger fastball pitch. In 1976 he moved to the majors with the Chicago Cubs, in 1981 he switched to the St. Louis Cardinals, and in 1985 he joined the Atlanta Braves and stayed with them until his retirement in 1989. Sutter was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Kristen Wiig

Born: 8/22/1973 - Present
Wiig lived in Lancaster and attended Manheim Township until high school when she moved to New York with her family. After college, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting but ended up in improv. While doing improv, she sent an audition tape to Saturday Night Live, and got in, starting at SNL in 2005 and staying there until 2012.

In 2006 she transitioned into film, and would soon rise to the starring role in many films, as well as directing and writing them. Some of her best-known films include Bridesmaids, Despicable Me, Ghostbusters, and many more.

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Fulton Theatre

Fulton Theatre

The Fulton is Lancaster County's professional regional...

Demuth Museum

Demuth Museum

A master watercolorist and pioneer of the Precisionist...