Question of the Week
The Rock Ford Plantation in Lancaster, Pennsylvania was once home to what Revolutionary War general?
Answer: Edward Hand.
The Rock Ford Plantation still stands in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and is open for tours. This was once the residence of Edward Hand, who most notably served as adjutant general of George Washington’s army in 1781. Hand was born in 1744 in Clyduff, County Kings, Ireland. He studied medicine at Trinity College in Dublin and went on to serve with the 18th Royal Irish Regiment as a surgeon’s mate. He traveled to America in 1767 and served for several years at Fort Pitt on the Ohio River.
In 1774, Hand resigned from the army and moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he met his wife Katherine Ewing. A letter, dated 1776, to his “dearest Kitty,” a nickname for his wife, is pictured below. They married in 1775 and soon started a family. That same year, Hand was drawn back into military service – he accepted a commission in the Continental Army as lieutenant colonel of the Pennsylvania Battalion of Riflemen and was promoted to colonel just a few months later. In 1777, his promotion to brigadier general brought him back to Fort Pitt where he commanded American forces. In short succession, he was promoted twice more: to brigadier general of Major Lafayette’s division in 1780 and to adjutant general of Washington’s army in 1781.
Hand resigned from the army in 1783 and moved back to Lancaster where he purchased several hundred acres of land on which he built a Georgian-style brick mansion that became known as Rock Ford Plantation. In Lancaster, Hand resumed life with his family, returned to a career in medicine, and served in a variety of civic and political positions. He died in 1802 and is buried the St. James Episcopal Cemetery in Lancaster.
About the Author
Look for these history stories every Sunday in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The stories, called Memory Stream, are published in the Currents section of the newspaper.