Extraordinary Stories

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Monday, October 13, 2014

The "Lancaster's Hero and Patriot George Ross" Story

This engraving was done by Ole Erekson in 1876.
It was an ordinary day.  Driving in the car looking for the home of George Ross, famous Lancastrian and signer of the Declaration of Independence.  My grandson and I decided to spend a morning together and roam the streets of Lancaster looking for some neat photos to take.  We both are equipped with our cameras; me with my Sony DSLR and Caden with his iPod 5th Generation.  Told me that the camera in his iPod was just as good as my camera and who am I to argue with someone who grew up with iPods, iPads and iPhones.  
Monument telling were the home of
George Ross was located.
I had an idea that if we started with the George Ross Elementary School in the 800 block of North Queen St. and head east on Ross St. we might come to his home.
 I knew it was situated next to the Ross St. Methodist Church so we headed in the direction of the large steeple that we saw in the distance.  Sure enough, there it was at what was known as 312 East Ross Street, not far from where my dad lived as a child.  George Ross' home no longer stands, but is symbolized by a monument in the location where it had once been.  George was at one time one of Lancaster, PA's prominent men during the Revolutionary War along with Edward Shippen, Jasper Yeates and Adam Reigart.  
Closeup of the plaque.
Edward Shippen was the father-in-law of Benedict Arnold.  On May 10, 1730 George was born to Catherine Gezel and the Rev. George Ross in New Castle, DE.  He was home-schooled until the age of 18 when he left for Philadelphia to study law at his brother John's law office.  
Plaque on the Orange St. side of St. James
Episcopal Church showing those who
were parishioners during the Revolution.
Click on photos to enlarge.
Two years later he was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar and in 1751 began his own practice in Lancaster.  That same year he married Ann Lawler who was one of his clients and they eventually had three children.  Five years after that he was chosen to represent the crown of England as the King's prosecutor in Pennsylvania.  He was at one time a strong supporter of the King of England, but began to change his opinions and became a colonial sympathizer and patriot.  In 1774 he was elected to the First Continental Congress, receiving one less vote than Benjamin Franklin.  When tensions between England and the colonies heated up he became a Colonel in the Continental Army.  
The plaque in the church's graveyard
telling about the tree in memory of
George Ross.
On August 2, 1776 he became an American hero when he signed Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence.    He also introduced his niece, Betsy, to George Washington who eventually created our nation's first flag.  In 1777 he was forced to resign from the Continental Congress because of health problems.  He died two years later as the result on gout due to his fondness for rich food and wine.  Well, Caden and I took lots of photos of the monument in the 300 block of Ross Street and then headed to downtown Lancaster for a few more shots on George Ross.  Seems that Mr. Ross was a member of my church, St. James Episcopal, on the corner of Duke and Orange Streets.  After taking photos of a plaque beneath a large tree in the churchyard dedicated in Ross' honor, Caden and I  left the church and headed east on King Street to take photos in a local park of another plaque in front of a  sculpture made by Blanche Nevin. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.


On a monument in one of Lancaster's parks is this metal plate showing the signature of George Ross.    Pretty interesting to know the extent that Lancaster has gone to preserve our local heroes and patriots.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.



This was the home of George Ross in the "rural" section of northwest Lancaster, City.  The site of the monument now stands where this property used to be and the church is part of the site.  


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