The Museum and Library contains many portraits and photographs of events and persons associated with the Civil War. This framed photograph of Anna M. Ross, Civil War nurse, on display in the second floor meeting room, was placed at her gravesite in Philadelphia by members of Post 94 each year during their Memorial Day Services. The following is a brief history of her life of service to others.
Miss Ross was the daughter of Mary Root of Chester County, Pennsylvania and William Ross, an immigrant from County Derry, Ireland. Her mother’s uncle, Jacob Root, held a captain’s commission in the Continental Army and her great grandmother served voluntarily as a molder of bullets during the revolution. A lady of great energy and commanding personal appearance, she devoted her life to works of charity and benevolence. She solicited funds for those in need and nursed patients deserted by others for fear of acquiring contagious fevers.
At the outbreak of the war, in keeping with her character and commitment to others, she immediately recognized the needs of the soldiers and feverishly plunged into activities aimed at providing for their comfort. She joined the volunteers at the Cooper Shop Refreshment Saloon at Otsego and Washington Avenues in Philadelphia where the travelling soldier was given nourishing food and a bed for the night. The men, coming by various routes, would converge at Washington and Delaware Avenues on their way to the trains headed south. Telegrams would be sent informing the headquarters that troops were arriving and a cannon would be fired to alert the women in the neighborhood who would assemble at the Refreshment Saloon and begin the food preparation.
It became evident that many of the men needed nursing care for wounds or diseases. Anna was named Lady Principal of the Cooper Shop Hospital, working with Dr. Andrew Nebinger assisted by Dr. George W. Nebinger. Located on the second floor over the refreshment saloon, the hospital opened in December 1861. From that time on, all of her efforts were devoted to running the hospital. She constantly sought donations of money and goods throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In February 1862, a drug store attached to the hospital became operational, this being staffed by Pharmacist Robert Nebinger.
Many first hand accounts of Anna’s concern for her soldier patients are recorded. She dressed the most loathsome wounds, watched at bedside while others slept, and took an interest in everything concerning the well being of those in her charge. She prepared clothing for the homebound patient, gave them travelling money, and contacted the families of deceased soldiers.
In the spring of 1863, Miss Ross promoted a large fair to raise monies to establish a home for discharged, incapacitated soldiers. Soliciting donations through the area and adding these sums to the proceeds of the fair, she had the means to find a suitable building and make renovations. She personally selected many of the furnishings. The dedication of the home was planned for December 22, 1863.
Shortly before this event, Miss Ross suffered a gradual paralysis and fatigue and lingered for several days before dying on December 22, 1863. Her funeral was attended by a large multitude whose sorrow was deepened by the knowledge that she was not able to be present at the dedication of the Home. A gravestone of white marble depicting a female figure ministering to a soldier was erected at her grave in Monument Cemetery. Although most Posts of the G.A.R. were named for Union Generals and soldiers, the men of G.A.R. Post 94 honored her by naming their post for her. In 1955 her remains were moved to Lawnview Cemetery in Rockledge, Pennsylvania. The Anna M. Ross Camp of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and their Auxiliary hold services at her grave on Memorial Sunday each year.
For more extensive information about Miss Ross, refer to “Woman’s Work in the Civil War” by L.P. Brockett, published 1867; “Women of the War” by Frank Moore, published in 1867, and in a newly published book “The Journal of Women’s Civil War History” published by Thomas Publications, Gettysburg, PA.