Pennsylvania’s hallowed ground: Exploring the final resting places of iconic women in history

By Ashley Adams

March 6, 2024

From the seamstress credited with making the first US flag to a woman considered by many to be the world’s first supermodel, a number of famous women are laid to rest throughout Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania has not only played a pivotal role in many key points in history, but the Keystone state is also the final resting place for many influential women.

From seamstress Betsy Ross to singer Joni Sledge and author Pearl S. Buck, here are 10 famous women who are buried in the commonwealth.

Joni Sledge: Ivy Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia

Singer Joni Sledge, the founding member of Sister Sledge, is buried in her hometown of Philadelphia. You might know her best from the hit song “We Are Family.”

Jayne Mansfield: Fairview Cemetery, Pen Argyl, Northampton County

One of the early Playboy Playmates, Jayne Mansfield had a short, yet successful Hollywood film career before she died in a car accident in 1967. Mansfield is also the mother of actor Mariska Hargitay.

St. Katharine Drexel: Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Philadelphia

St. Katharine Drexel was the second American-born saint to be canonized by the Catholic Church. She founded Xavier University in New Orleans, which was the first Catholic University in the US for Black Americans.

Marian Anderson: Eden Cemetery, Collingdale, Delaware County

Singer Marian Anderson was the first Black American to perform at New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

Pearl S. Buck: Green Hills Farm Grounds, Perkasie, Bucks County

Pulitzer Prize- and Nobel Prize-winning writer Pearl S. Buck is buried in Bucks County. She is best known for her novel, “The Good Earth,” a portrait of peasant life in China that became a best-seller in the US in the early 1930s.

Ida Tarbell: Woodlawn Cemetery, Titusville, Crawford County

Pioneering investigative journalist Ida Tarbell penned a series of articles in McClure’s Magazine in the early 1900s that led to the dissolution of the Standard Oil company and the eventual creation of the FTC.

Betsy Ross: Betsy Ross House Courtyard, Philadelphia

Elizabeth Griscom Ross, also known as Betsy Ross, was an American upholsterer who was credited by her relatives in 1870 with making the first official US flag, accordingly known as the Betsy Ross flag. She was buried in three separate graves, originally interred in Society Hill before being moved to southwest Philadelphia’s Mount Moriah Cemetery, and then finally resting where she is now in the courtyard of the Betsy Ross House.

Molly Pitcher: Old Public Graveyard, Carlisle

Molly Pitcher is the nickname given to Mary Ludwig Hays, who was married to William Hays, an artilleryman in the Continental Army. She joined him at the Army’s winter camp in Valley Forge in 1777, and when her husband fell during the Battle of Monmouth, she took his place swabbing and loading the cannon.

Gia Marie Carangi: Sunset Memorial Park, Huntingdon Valley, Bucks County

Gia Marie Carangi was an American model, considered by many to be the world’s first supermodel. She was featured on the cover of magazines such as Vogue and Cosmopolitan, and appeared in advertising campaigns for luxury fashion houses such as Armani, Dior, Versace, and Yves Saint Laurent.

Florence Foster Jenkins: Hollenback Cemetery, Wilkes-Barre

Florence Foster Jenkins was an American socialite and amateur soprano who became known, and mocked, for her flamboyant performance costumes and her poor singing ability. Despite – or perhaps because of – her technical incompetence, she became a prominent musical camp cult-figure in New York City from the 1920s to the 1940s.

READ MORE: How 3 Women Left Their Mark on Valley Forge’s History

Author

  • Ashley Adams

    In her 16 years in the communications industry, Ashley Adams has worn many hats, including news reporter, public relations writer, marketing specialist, copy editor and technical writer. Ashley grew up in Berks County and has since returned to her roots to raise her three children.

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