The Grief in The Georgian

The Story of Samuel and Sarah Maccracken

Most people are probably familiar with the large mansion that sits on the corner of Broad Street and Wheeling Street. Known as the Georgian, it has operated as a museum since the 1970s and is a landmark in the city of Lancaster. However, many people are probably unaware of the original owners of the home, Samuel and Sarah Maccracken.

Samual Maccracken, original owner of The Georgian mansion on Wheeling Street in Lancaster, Ohio. Sarah Maccracken, wife of Samuel Maccraken and original resident of The Georgian mansion on Wheeling Street in Lancaster, Ohio.

From the outside, it must have appeared as if the couple had it all. The Maccrackens were one of the richest families in the entire state of Ohio and lived in a remarkable home that would have been the envy of most residents. However, the opulence and glamor withheld something more than beautiful furnishings and opulent decor: grief. A grief that was caused by losing six children.

Samuel Maccracken arrived in Lancaster around 1810 but would often return to his place of birth in Pennsylvania to visit his mother. On one of these trips he met Sarah Craft. They fell in love and Samuel asked Sarah’s mother for her hand in marriage. The two were wed in 1816 in Pennsylvania.

After the wedding, Sarah moved to Lancaster where Samuel had already made an impact. He engaged in several businesses, including a tannery and hardware store. Also known as a real estate mogul, Samuel was constantly buying and selling real estate in the young city, sometimes buying and selling properties on the same day.

Over the years, Samuel amassed a large fortune and in 1830 contracted Daniel Sifford to construct the beautiful home that, today, we call the Georgian. While it must have seemed like the couple were living a wonderful life free of hardship, they did suffer greatly when it came to having children.

According to Statista, in the early 1800s, for every 1,000 children that were born, 46% of them would not reach the age of five.

While this might seem like a high number, the Maccrackens would have preferred this outcome to what their percentage ended up being: 75%.

Six of their eight children would not make it to adulthood and Samuel and Sarah outlived all but one of them. Obviously, records from the early 1800s are not always easy to obtain. However, here is what the research has uncovered in terms Samuel and Sarah’s children:

James (1818 – 1853); John (1820-1876); William (1824-1824); William (1828-1831); Elizabeth (1832-1833); Elizabeth (1837-1838); Infant Son (dates unknown); Sophie (dates unknown). Although James and John would reach adulthood, neither of them lived a long life. James even passed before his parents and John died just three years after his mother.

Even for a period of time in which losing a child was not uncommon, the losses must have been staggering. No amount of wealth or architecture could have contained that level of grief.

If you would like to learn more about the Maccracken family and their amazing home, you can visit the Georgian Museum Wednesday – Sunday. Tours begin at 1:00pm, 2:00pm, and 3:00pm.

Visit for more information.


Wednesday, April 12, 2023

“Thank you for this information, as a descendant I didn’t realize just how lucky I am to be here.” – Joan Maccracken

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Filed under: Featured, Histories & Mysteries, Life, News, People
Michael R. Johnson, marketing director for the Fairfield County Heritage Association based in Lancaster, Ohio.

By Michael Johnson

Lancaster native Michael Johnson is the Marketing Director for the Fairfield County Heritage Association and serves as editor of the Heritage Quarterly – a magazine highlighting local history. Michael is a member of the Sherman Rotary and the Lancaster Fairfield Chamber of Commerce’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee. His bachelor’s degree in history education was earned at Ohio University. Michael is married to Tara Johnson and has two children, Isaac and Mia.