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Elizabeth Masser Thorn, pregnant statue at Evergreen Cemetery - Gettysburg, PA

Elizabeth Masser was born in 1832 in Germany. She married Peter Thorn in September of 1855 in Gettysburg. Peter was hired as a caretaker for the Evergreen Cemetery in Gettysburg.

In August of 1862, Peter enlisted in the Union Army, leaving the cemetery caretaking duties to Elizabeth (six months pregnant) and her elderly father.

In June, 1863, General Howard and his men stopped at the Evergreen gatehouse looking for someone who could familiarize them with Gettysburg. Elizabeth volunteered. Even though the Thorns had little food left they prepared a meal for the Union generals. In return, the family and their belongings were moved to the basement in hopes of remaining safe.

When fighting began near Cemetery Hill, Elizabeth and her family went on foot and made it to a farmhouse. There was no food left at the farmhouse when they arrived. The next day Elizabeth and her father traveled back to the gatehouse to retrieve their possessions. Finding the house in shambles and their possessions gone, they went back to the farmhouse to pick up their family and moved on to another farmhouse looking for food.

By July, Elizabeth made her way back to Evergreen to find many dead horses and bodies. The stench was unbearable. Working in mid-July heat, Elizabeth dug at least 105 graves. Her father helped as much as an ederly man could.

There is a 7-foot bronze sculpture created by Ron Tunison of Elizabeth inside the arch of the Evergreen Cemetery which was dedicated on November 16, 2002 to honor the service of the women during the Battle of Gettysburg.

Located at Evergreen Cemetery: 799 Baltimore St, Gettysburg, PA 17325


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