Historical Markers
Lane House Historical Marker
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Lane House

Hershey/Gettysburg/Dutch Country Region


Marker Location:
16 N. Main St., Mercersburg

Dedication Date:
July 2, 1953

Behind the Marker

President James Buchanan's niece, Harriet Lane (1830-1903) was the daughter of his younger sister, Jane Buchanan and her husband, Elliott Lane. Harriet was the youngest of four children, and was only nine when her mother, Jane Buchanan Lane, died.
Photograph of Harriet Lane, President Buchanan's niece and first lady of the United States from 1857-1861.
Harriett Lane, circa 1858.

Jane Lane's death had been expected, coming after a long illness, but her husband Elliott Lane also passed away when Harriet was only eleven years old, leaving her orphaned. She became a ward of her uncle, markerJames Buchanan, who was then a prominent Washington politician, and spent several years in boarding schools.

Harriet first stepped into a public role in England while her uncle was serving as Minister to Great Britain. By all accounts, Harriet greatly enjoyed her time abroad, and was quickly accepted by British society. Her experiences in England did much to prepare her for the duties of the White House.

During Buchanan's presidency, Lane served in the role of hostess or mistress of the White House. At the close of her uncle's presidency in 1861, Lane returned to markerLancaster with the former president. For a few years, Harriet enjoyed a more leisurely, private life, visiting friends and vacationing at Bedford Springs. In 1866, at the age of 36, Harriet Lane married Henry Elliott Johnston, a banker from Baltimore.
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