3 photographs, 6 illustrations
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On July 28, 1797, an elderly Lenape woman stood before the newly appointed almsman of Pennsylvania’s Chester County and delivered a brief account of her life. In a sad irony, Hannah Freeman was establishing her residency—a claim that paved the way for her removal to the poorhouse. Ultimately, however, it meant the final removal from the ancestral land she had so tenaciously maintained. Thus was William Penn’s “peaceable kingdom” preserved.
A Lenape among the Quakers reconstructs Hannah Freeman’s history, traveling from the days of her grandmothers before European settlement to the beginning of the nineteenth century. The story that emerges is one of persistence and resilience, as “Indian Hannah” negotiates life with the Quaker neighbors who employ her, entrust their children to her, seek out her healing skills, and, when she is weakened by sickness and age, care for her. And yet these are the same neighbors whose families have dispossessed hers. Fascinating in its own right, Hannah Freeman’s life is also remarkable for its unique view of a Native American woman in a colonial community during a time of dramatic transformation and upheaval. In particular it expands our understanding of colonial history and the Native experience that history often renders silent.
Dawn G. Marsh is an assistant professor of history at Purdue University. Her articles have appeared in Ethnohistory, Ohio History, and edited books.
“With great insight and sensitivity, Dawn Marsh has pieced together Hannah Freeman’s story. All who have ever wondered what happened to Pennsylvania’s Native people should read this book.”—Nancy Shoemaker, author of A Strange Likeness: Becoming Red and White in Eighteenth-Century North America
List of Illustrations
Chapter 1. The Examination of Hannah Freeman
Chapter 2. All Our Grandmothers
Chapter 3. The Peaceable Kingdom
Chapter 4. Lenapehoking Lost
Chapter 5. Kindness Extended
Chapter 6. The Betrayal
Appendix 1. The Examination of Indian Hannah alias Hannah Freeman
Appendix 2. Kindness Extended