Barbara Fritchie House
The Barbara Fritchie House is the reconstructed house that Dame Fritchie lived in during her lifetime. Fritchie was born December 3, 1766, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She married John Casper Fritchie on May 6, 1806, and was known as a unionist during the Civil War. Dame Fritchie was a central figure of Frederick, Maryland, and lived in a house that became a stop on walking tours. According to a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier, at the age of 95 she was outside waving the Union flag in the middle of the street to antagonize Stonewall Jackson's troops as they passed through Frederick.
Backstory and Context
Barbara Fritchie was a great friend of Francis Scott Key, the author of the "Star Spangled Banner." Together, they attended the memorial service in Frederick, Maryland, of George Washington. If that says anything, you can understand Dame Fritchie's links to the country's history.
Unfortunately, the house is not the original as a storm washed the building away. In 1927, the Barbara Fritchie House underwent reconstruction and in turn looks the way it does today.
It is said that Barbara Fritchie waved the Union flag as Confederate troops passed by. When Winston Churchill passed through Frederick, Maryland in 1943 he recited the poem in its entirety, having learned it in school. Part of the poem reads: "Shoot, if you must, this old gray head, But spare you country's flag, she said. A shade of sadness, a blush of shame, Over the face of the leader came; The nobler nature within him stirred to life at that woman's deed and word; Who touches a hair of yon gray head Dies like a dog! March on, he said." The story is likely apocryphal. Fritchie was sick in her bed on the day this event supposedly occurred. Since Fritchie was sick she informed her housekeeper to hide all her valuables and bring inside the United States flag that hung outside the house. The housekeeper was not able to bring the flag inside, and, as a result, Confederate troops shot it, according to the poem by John Greenleaf Whittier.
To this day, it has been said that the Confederate troops never passed by the Barbara Fritchie House and as a result never fired shots at her house. If they did pass by her house they would have been as close as 1000 feet and would have done other damage than fire shots. This story may be a myth but it is up to visitors to decide if it's true or not.