Elizabeth Thorn of Gettysburg

The Wartime Caretaker of Evergreen Cemetery

Kathryn Porch, Sue Boardman

This is the remarkable story of civilian Elizabeth Thorn: a six-month-pregnant mother, caretaker of aging parents, and head of household, who would dig nearly 100 soldiers' graves in Gettysburg's Evergreen Cemetery in the stinking heat and aftermath of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. The historic burial ground would acquire national fame.
Date Published :
April 2015
Publisher :
Gettysburg Publishing
Illustration :
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9780983863168
Pages : 81
Dimensions : 8.5 X 5.25 inches
Stock Status : Available


According to the history books, the story of the Battle of Gettysburg ended when the armies departed on July 4, 1863. But for the citizens of Gettysburg, their story was only beginning. Many survived three days of battle that raged July 1–3, 1863, through their farms and homes and were left alone to pick up the pieces. To a casual observer, Elizabeth Thorn was no different than all of the other civilians doing their part to restore their town from the devastation of war. However, she was very different. No other woman in town was a six-month-pregnant mother, who simultaneously managed both a household and a cemetery, and acted as sole caretaker to two aging parents. No other woman was asked to dig nearly 100 soldiers’ graves. Elizabeth performed all of these strenuous tasks in the heat and the stench of a battlefield of bodies left to rot in the hot summer sun. This is her story and the story of the Evergreen Cemetery, a small-town burial ground that acquired national fame.

About The Author

Kathryn Porch’s love for the Gettysburg battlefield led her to Gettysburg College, PA, where she graduated with a B.A. in English in 2002. She returned again to Gettysburg as Operations Coordinator for the Gettysburg Foundation, where she was instrumental in the completion of the Museum and Visitor Center. In 2009, Kathryn joined the US Department of State and has served diplomatic tours in Ghana and Kyrgyzstan as a Foreign Service Officer.

Sue Boardman, a Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide since 2000, is a two-time recipient of the Superintendent’s Award for Excellence in Guiding. Beginning in 2004, Sue served as historical consultant for the Gettysburg Foundation for both the new museum project and for the massive restoration of the Gettysburg Cyclorama. Sue served as President of the historic Evergreen Cemetery Association as well as an adjunct instructor for Harrisburg Area Community College and Susquehanna University. Sue currently serves as the Leadership Program Director for the Gettysburg Foundation. A 23-year career as an emergency room nurse preceded her career at Gettysburg.

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