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Ephrata Cloister
Posted: 06/04/2021 | by Olivia

Famous Women in Lancaster County’s History

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

Founder of Pequea Valley

Madame Marie Warenbauer Ferree and her husband Daniel were French Huguenots forced to flee France in 1685. They traveled to Germany, where Daniel passed away. Marie then moved her family to America. In the colonies, Marie received a land grant from William Penn. She settled in Lancaster County and established the town of Paradise in 1712. Madame Marie Warenbauer Ferree is considered the founder of the Pequea Valley.

First Woman in Pennsylvania to hold Public Office

Ann Wood Henry was the wife of patriot William Henry – Treasurer of Lancaster County. She was heavily involved in assisting her husband provide arms, provisions and more during the Revolutionary War. Upon William’s death, Anne carried out his duties and became the first woman in Pennsylvania to hold public office.

The Underground Rail Road

Hannah Weirman Gibbons was a Quaker abolitionist from Bird-in-Hand. For 65 years, Hannah and her husband’s home became a major stop on the Underground Railroad. It is believed that they helped between 900 and 1,000 formerly enslaved people.

Lydia Hamilton Smith was the housekeeper and trusted friend to Thaddeus Stevens, a lawyer, abolitionist, and politician. Smith purchased the home adjacent to Stevens’ – it still stands today in downtown Lancaster. Archaeologists we brought in and helped discover an underground cistern on property. They found it was altered to be utilized as a stop on the Underground Railroad. It provided access from an adjacent brewery basement also owned by Stevens. In recognition of the key role both Stevens and Smith played in the Underground Railroad, this site is now listed on the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.

To learn more about the Underground Railroad in Lancaster County, click here.

The Patriotic Daughters

Rosina Hubley created many relief agencies to help people in need in Lancaster. After her husband Joseph died she took over management of the White Sawn Hotel. Later, she developed an organization called The Patriotic Daughters. They supported soldiers by sending them bandages, bedding, and clothing. Rosina, along with the help of the organization, funded and raised the Soldiers and Sailors Monument that stands in the City of Lancaster to this day. The statue pays tribute to the Lancastrian Union soldiers killed during the Civil War.

Much of this information has been pulled from Lancasterhistory.org. Visit the rotating exhibits and learn more about Lancaster’s rich history by visiting LancasterHistory and President James Buchanan’s Wheatland.

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