Cove Gap in Franklin County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
A Quest for Honor
“To secure for the purpose of a site for a monument . . . an acre or more of ground at Stony Batter, near Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, the birth place of my uncle James Buchanan, and thereon to erect a suitable monument with proper inscriptions . . . ”
Harriet Rebecca Lane was the youngest daughter of James Buchanan’s sister, Jane. Tragically, Harriet’s parents died when she was just 11. Eventually, she came to live with her favorite uncle, James, who became her guardian in 1842. Buchanan made sure that Harriet was trained academically and socially, skills that proved invaluable when he reached the White House.
Buchanan entered the White House as a bachelor, having experienced heart break as a young man when his fiancée tragically died. Lane acted as first lady during his presidency, guiding social functions, being active in hospital and prison reform and working for humanitarian treatment of American Indians.
During her adult life, Harriet fought to honor her uncle. She helped publish his presidential memoirs and spent years dispelling
She limited the time to secure the monument sites to 15 years. The James Buchanan Monument Fund purchased 18.5 acres of mountain land here in 1906, and construction of the monument began in 1907. On March 22, 1911, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania accepted the land and monument from the last monument fund trustee, making it the first gift of land to the state park system.
This monument marks the
birthplace of James Buchanan
fifteenth President of the
Born 23 April 1791 Died 1 June 1868
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Women. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #15 James Buchanan series list.
Location. 39° 52.273′ N, 77° 57.223′ W. Marker is in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania, in Franklin County. Marker is on Stony Batter Road / State Forest Road, on the left when traveling north. Marker is located in Buchanan’s Birthplace State Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Mercersburg PA 17236, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. James Buchanan The Early Years (here, next to this marker); Birthplace of James Buchanan (a few steps Stony Batter Birthplace of a President (a few steps from this marker); President James Buchanan (within shouting distance of this marker); Stony Batter (approx. half a mile away); James Buchanan (approx. 0.6 miles away); Black Boys Rebellion (approx. 3.4 miles away); Big Spring Graveyard (approx. 3.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cove Gap.
More about this marker. An image of Harriet Lane Johnston on the left side of the marker has a caption of “Beyond honoring her uncle with the gift of two monuments Harriet endowed funds to her children’s hospital and the Saint Albans School for Boys in memory of her deceased sons. She also willed her art collection to a national gallery for art, which did not yet exist, spurring the Smithsonian to create what we know today as the National Museum of American Art.”
A photo of the Pyramid includes a caption of “The pyramidal monument is 38 feet square and 31 feet high, constructed of native stone and weighs 300 tons including 50 tons of hammered American gray granite for the tablet, bench and capstone.”
A statue of a seated Buchanan appears at the upper right of the marker. The caption reads “The monument in Washington D.C. was dedicated in 1930. A bronze statue and 82-foot wide stone panel are at the southwestern side of Meridian Hill Park. After considerable political wrangling, Congress had approved a resolution on June 27, 1918, just six days before Harriet’s 15-year deadline.”
Additional keywords. First Ladies of the United States, FLOTUS
Credits. This page was last revised on December 5, 2019. It was originally submitted on August 22, 2012, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 448 times since then and 37 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on August 22, 2012, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.