Posted: 05/21/2021 | by Jessica

Famous Lancastrians

Ever wonder who you might know from Lancaster? Check out these short profiles below on some famous Lancastrians!

Wheatland | President James Buchanan Residence | Discover Lancaster

Robert Fulton
11.14.1765 - 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
4.23.1791 - 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
4.4.1792 - 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, located adjacent to the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square (a museum is currently in development and will open in 2024). 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
9.13.1857 - 10.13.1945

Hershey started his career by founding the Lancaster Caramel Company in 1883. Aftertraveling 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
11.8.1883 - 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
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
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
8.22.1973 - Present

Wiig lived in Lancaster and attended Manheim Township until high school, when she would move 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 direct and write them. Some of her best known films include Bridesmaids, Despicable Me, Ghostbusters, and many more.

Related Content

Many aspects of Lancaster's rich history have been made possible by the incredible bravery, intelligence and compassion of these women.

gettysburg landmark

Learn about Lancaster's ties to the Civil War and the Underground Railroad.

Historic Places to Visit in Lancaster, PA

Explore Lancaster County's history and heritage.

For an authentic immersion in early Pennsylvania German life (1740-1940), visit Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum.

From history to hands on, we’ve got you covered.

Partners

Fulton Theatre

The Fulton Theatre, considered to be the nation's oldest...

Demuth Museum

Go to many major museums across the country, and you have a...

Author

Jessica