Hannah Freeman

Hannah Freeman, known more usually by her name ‘Indian Hannah – the last of the Lenape’ was born in Kennett Township sometime in 1730 or 31. Her title is something of a misnomer; she was certainly not the last of the Lenape Indians, or even the last of the Lenape Indians in Chester County.  Hannah knew a great deal about the uses of local plant life due to her role as a healer and possessor of her tribe’s knowledge and it is very likely that she communicated some of this to Marshall. Other than John Bartram and his son William “Indian Hanna” was likely Humphry Marshall’s major source of information on Native American botanical pharmacology. She was committed to the new Chester County poorhouse when she was no longer able to support herself due to her advanced age and Moses Marshall recorded her life story as part of the process. Though she was an object of pity at the time, with the benefit of hindsight we can recognize her strength and adaptability.

Here Indian Hanna is depicted under a full moon in a lonely farm in Chester County carrying out what would have been for her a heart rending ritual. The Lenni Lenape Indians had left her behind many years before to faithfully carry out their seasonal cycle of rituals one of which was to care for the tribal graveyard, a task she was no longer able to perform after being sent to the poorhouse.

 

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