Many great citizens have made history in Gettysburg. In the 1800s, the African American community in Gettysburg was approximately 200 citizens, several who operated businesses and were respected in the community. We invite you to visit a few key stops in Adams County to learn of the history. More can be experienced through guided tours by the Gettysburg Licensed Town Historians.
Lincoln Cemetery – Long Lane
Visit the site where over 30 men that fought in the United States Colored Troops are buried. Wayside and historical markers showcase the history. None of these men fought at Gettysburg but they served valiantly in the later years of the war. Their families endured the battle here and felt the terror of seeing Confederates in their town. Some buried here ran from slavery to find a free life in Pennsylvania and aided others in the Underground Railroad. Kitty Payne, a.k.a. Catherine Brian, was the victim of a kidnapping in 1845 with her three children. Also buried here is Mag Palm, a.k.a. Margaret Devit, who fought three men when they tried to kidnap her and she named them in court, though charges of kidnapping were dropped. Both she and Payne were free African Americans yet their freedom was at risk due to the federal Fugitive Slave Law that allowed slave-owners or their agents to recover enslaved persons in the Northern states.
Frederick Douglass speaks at Agricultural Hall – Corner of Franklin and High Streets
See the small plaque on the southeast corner that mentions Frederick Douglass speaking at Agricultural Hall. Douglass could not freely roam the streets of Gettysburg due to death threats yet he delivered a speech to a packed house in 1869. Here, he stated that if President Lincoln could speak about his assassins, he would say,” Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Daniel A. Payne – Washington Street on the campus of Gettysburg College
See the historical marker here that mentions the many accomplishments of Daniel A. Payne who spent approximately 18 months in Gettysburg in the 1830’s studying at the Lutheran Theological Seminary. Payne wrote in his memoirs how much he enjoyed the view of the mountains and that he vowed to read in his spare time. He later became a bishop in the AME Church; he wrote hymns and published the history of the AME. He and was a founder and president of Wilberforce University in Ohio. He was eulogized by Frederick Douglass and is buried in Baltimore.
Francis Scott Key – Lincoln Square
Francis Scott Key came to Gettysburg in 1831 to free his slave Clem Johnson, noted on the historical marker. Clem paid Key $5 for his freedom when he was 45 years-old. This was 17 years after Key penned the poem that would become our National Anthem with the words, “Land of the Free.”
National Cemetery at Gettysburg – Taneytown Road
Thousands of Union soldiers are buried here, amongst them are two veterans of the US Colored Troops. Henry Gooden of the 127th USCT, interred in Section 13 near the center of the Cemetery, and Charles H. Parker of the Third Regiment USCT, who is rests in the northwestern portion. Gooden, who enlisted in 1864, engaged in combat at Deep Bottom. He was the only black Civil War veteran in the National Cemetery until 1936, having been moved in 1884 from his original burial in the Alms House Cemetery. Parker, who was originally buried in the Yellow Hill Cemetery, was reinterred in the National Cemetery in 1936. Here you can also see where President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address reminding everyone that all are created equal.
Menallen Friends Meetinghouse and burial place – 1107 Carlisle Road, Biglerville
This site in on the National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom marking the place where Cyrus and Mary Ann (Cook) Griest are buried. The Griests were Quakers at Menallen Meeting. They were agents in the Underground Railroad in the Quaker Valley and they worked with the Mathews family on Yellow Hill. The Mathews were free Negroes who moved there from Maryland. Together, the Mathews and Quakers worked together to bring others to freedom from enslavement.
Huntington Friends Meetinghouse and burial place – Quaker Church Road, North of Route 94, one mile south of York Springs
This site in on the National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom marking the place where William and Phoebe (Wireman) Wright are buried. The Wrights were Quakers at Huntington Meeting. They were agents in the Underground Railroad and they worked with the Griest and Mathews families of the Quaker Valley and Yellow Hill.