On July 28| 1797| an elderly Lenape woman stood before the newly appointed almsman of Pennsylvania’s Chester County and delivered a brief account of her life.
In a sad irony| Hannah Freeman was establishing her residency–a claim that paved the way for her removal to the poorhouse.
Ultimately| however| it meant the final removal from the ancestral land she had so tenaciously maintained.
Thus was William Penn’s “peaceable kingdom” preserved..
“A Lenape among the Quakers” reconstructs Hannah Freeman’s his| traveling from the days of her grandmothers before European settlement to the beginning of the nineteenth century.
The story that emerges is one of persistence and resilience| as “Indian Hannah” negotiates life with the Quaker neighbors who employ her| entrust their children to her| seek out her healing skills| and| when she is weakened by sickness and age| care for her.
And yet these are the same neighbors whose families have dispossessed hers.
Fascinating in its own right| Hannah Freeman’s life is also remarkable for its unique view of a Native American woman in a colonial community during a time of dramatic transformation and upheaval.
In particular it expands our understanding of colonial his and the Native experience that his often renders silent.