Women and the War

Women and the War

Women history-makers aren’t a new concept in Pennsylvania. While the soldiers waged war on the battlefields families stayed behind in towns and cities. Women, children, and other non-fighting citizens were left to make their own mark on American history. And in the end, it was just as important as what happened on the battlefields. Here’s the story of Pennsylvanian families coming together and the impact they left on the Civil War era.

John Brown – Mary Ritner House – Chambersburg

This quaint and modest boarding house belonged to Mary Ritner. This is where John Brown formulated his plan and secured weapons for his attack on the Federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry on October 16, 1859. Mary was the widow of Abram Ritner, a railroad conductor whose father was governor of Pennsylvania and a well known abolitionist speaker. Upon his death on 1851, she expanded the house to accommodate boarders. The house survived the burning of Chambersburg on July 30, 1864. The house is now part of the Chambersburg Heritage Center and has been restored with period furniture. If John Brown visited Chambersburg today, he’ll feel like things haven’t changed much at all in the Mary Ritner House.

Evergreen Cemetery – Gettysburg

Evergreen Cemetery, adjacent to Gettysburg Battlefield, was established in 1854 as a town cemetery for Gettysburg. Considerable military action took place here during the Battle of Gettysburg. It is believed by many historians that the platform on which Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address was located in the Evergreen cemetery. Elizabeth Salome “Sallie” Myers is buried here. Sallie was a schoolteacher, who still lived with her family when the Battle of Gettysburg began. She was employed by the Gettysburg public school system as an assistant to the principal. At first stunned by the carnage, the 21-year-old soon pitched in to help the wounded who filled Gettysburg's churches, homes and barns. After the Civil War, Sallie returned to teaching. She also became involved with the National Association of Army Nurses, and served as its treasurer during the 1880s. She authored “How A Gettysburg Schoolteacher Spent Her Vacation in 1863.” Sallie died in 1922, and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery on Cemetery Hill in Gettysburg. Stop by to pay homage to one of the women heroes of the Civil War.

Hanover Farmer's Market – Hanover

The Farmers' Market has been a Hanover attraction since 1815. From 6 am to noon every Saturday, visitors can buy anything from local produce and baked goods to the local crafts. It probably saw the likes of Mary Leader among its customers. Mary Shaw Leader was a Civil War pioneer newspaperwoman. She helped her family publish The Hanover Spectator during the Civil War. This young woman was one of only a few reporters who wrote down Lincoln’s address and the only one to recognize its greatness. Her burial site in Hanover’s Mount Olivet Cemetery is marked with a monument commemorating her accomplishments as a pioneering woman journalist. Stop by the Hanover Historical Society and Museum to check out artifacts from Mary Shaw Leaders’ interesting life.


Eat Here: Sheppard Mansion - Hanover

Located in beautiful downtown Hanover, in the heart of the historic district, the Sheppard Mansion offers fine dining with a full bar and wine list. The ever-changing menu of seasonal, organic, local ingredients provides New American twists on old favorites.

Sleep Here: The Beechmont Inn - Hanover

A cozy and charming bed & breakfast minutes away from Gettysburg, sits on a tree-lined street of stately historic homes. A well-stocked library and parlor offer a backdrop for relaxed conversation, while well-appointed, spacious guestrooms assure a comfortable stay.