On a cold winter morning in 2013, three local women attended a County Commissioners meeting at the Adams County Court House. One was in attendance to represent the Survivors Inc. of Adams County, an organization tasked with assisting the victims of domestic violence. Another was the Director of Advocacy and Public Relations at the YWCA, an organization that includes the empowerment of women in their mission statement. These two young women listened as the third woman, a local author, shared the story of Fannie Buehler, an 1863 civilian who resided on the east side of Baltimore Street. Her husband, David Buehler, was the local postmaster who had wisely left the area for fear of capture by the approaching Confederate Army. Fannie left a firsthand account detailing her experiences while the town of Gettysburg was in the hands of the enemy.
After the official meeting, these three women had a meeting of their own. Angela Keen Badjie of Survivors recognized the courage and perseverance that was revealed in their stories. Thus, while the “Women Behind These Walls” project was born on a cold, winter day, it describes the experiences of women in the summer of 1863 as the heat of battle surrounded them.
The decision was made to create a list of memorable local women who had inspiring stories to share. The work of writing biographical sketches was shared by Joanne Lewis, a Licensed Battlefield Guide and Town Guide; Debra Sandoe McCauslin, of For the Cause Productions; and Linda Clark, a Licensed Battlefield Guide and author of books on local citizens. Ashley Andyshak Hayes, of the YWCA, designed the signage and made the posters to be placed around town in the windows of the residences of the 1863 women. Photographs were included when available. Although some of the homes were still private residences with Civil War plaques; some were newer buildings that housed businesses.
Today, “Women Behind These Walls” posters are located throughout downtown Gettysburg and include almost 40 citizens who witnessed the Civil War. Although you can be inspired by the stories as you pass the posters on the street, the actual route begins on Carlisle Street near the Railroad Station, then continues to York Street locations, with the majority of the posters on Baltimore and Chambersburg Streets.
After six years, some of the placards have disappeared; some are faded by the sun; some new women’s stories have been discovered. Nancy Lilley of the YWCA, YWCA Board member Lyne Aurand and Linda Clark, licensed Battlefield guide and author, under the auspices of the YWCA Advocacy Committee, are working to update the placards and the brochures which are made available at businesses throughout the community. The original project was funded through donations of corporate and individual sponsors. The group is hoping that the community will once again support this project which allows local citizens and visitors to view the Battle of Gettysburg from a different perspective — through the eyes of women who survived both the battle and the aftermath! Corporate sponsors will have their business logo displayed on the placard and/or the brochure. Contact Nancy Lilley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-334-9171, ext. 115, for more details or to donate.