LINWOOD— No one knows why Sarah Broadhead decided to call Linwood home after living through the battle of Gettysburg in 1863, or why her husband, Joseph Broadhead, was elected to the town’s first borough council.
But thanks to the work of the local historical society, we now know where her final resting place is: The Friends Central Cemetery in Linwood, along Shore Road, just a few blocks from the Linwood museum.
Broadhead is most well-known for her diary, which chronicled the days leading up to the Confederate Army’s approach on Gettysburg, as well as her work afterwards — tending sick and wounded men at the local hospital and her home. That diary, called “The Diary of A Lady of Gettysburg” is widely quoted by Civil War historians, and even featured in “The Civil War” documentary produced by Ken Burns.
“She was like thousands of women in the Civil War that came out to take care of the wounded,” Carolyn Patterson, president of the Linwood Historical Society, said. “What made Sarah different was that she wrote about it.”
Broadhead and her husband were Quakers, so their grave site was never marked with a tombstone, in keeping with early Quaker beliefs. The Historical Society lost track of the gravesite after Hazel Broadhead, Sarah and Joseph’s granddaughter and a founding member of the Linwood Historical Society, died in 1993.
Documents on file with the Historical Society indicated Sarah Broadhead was buried in Pleasantville, but that turned out not to be the case after a couple from Gettysburg contacted the Linwood Historical Society looking for information on where she was buried. That couple, Jim and Rosanna Clouse, said there was little information on the Broadheads after they left Gettysburg, but they had heard she was buried at the Friends Central Cemetery.
Members of the Historical Society, like Bob Wallace, checked records on file with the Central United Methodist Church, which maintains the records for the cemetery, and was able to determine that the unmarked gravesite was Sarah and Joseph Broadhead’s final resting place. The site is next to the grave of their son, Benjamin Broadhead, and his wife, Lydia. That marker was placed there by Hazel Broadhead, their daughter, in the 50s.
“It was like a puzzle,” Wallace said of the research. “And every little piece you added it in, until it was done.”
Patterson, a self-described history nerd and Civil War buff, said that Sarah’s diary fascinated her, as did the family’s time in Linwood. The couple bought a home on Shore Road in 1887, and within two years, John Broadhead was elected to Linwood’s first borough council.
But the historical society may never know why the Pennsylvania couple decided to call the shore home, or how they gained popularity so quickly.
“A historian is a detective,” Patterson said. “It’s always addicting, and you always have more questions.”
The society is likely not to lose track of the historic grave again, because a modest marker explaining the significance of the grave was erected by the Linwood Historical Society earlier this month. Patterson lost her son, Robert, in October of last year. He had been an avid Civil War reenactor, and in lieu of flowers, the family asked for donations to be made to the Linwood Historical Society. Those donations paid for Sarah Broadhead’s historic marker.
“I know he is up there watching,” Patterson said. “He was as interested in (the gravesite) as I was. He was really an expert on the battle of Gettysburg. He went every year to the reenactments up there.”
The marker includes this quote from Sarah’s diary: “It’s heart-sickening to think of these noble fellows sacrificing everything for us, and saving us, and it’s out of our power to render any assistance of consequence. I turned away and cried.”
A ceremony to dedicate the historic gravesite will be held 11 a.m. June 6 at the Friends Central Cemetery in Linwood, and will be attended by some of Sarah Broadhead’s descendants.
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