Women of Culpeper – Cornelia Hancock – February 8, 1840 – December 31, 1927

March 13, 2024 Food & Drink Things to Do

Women of Culpeper – Cornelia Hancock – February  8, 1840 – December 31, 1927 Image

Research contributed Karen Quaintance, Culpeper Tourism

In honor of Women’s History Month we celebrating the stories of trailblazing women that came from or lived in Culpeper, VA throughout the years.  Cornelia’s story is just one of many that highlights the achievements of the incredible women in our community and honor their legacy.

Ms. Cornelia Hancock was born on February 8, 1840, in Hancock’s Bridge, NJ, and was the youngest of four children to a Quaker family.  Cornelia Hancock is a celebrated volunteer nurse who dedicated her life to serving others not only as a nurse during the Civil War but also as a teacher, author, and co-founder of the Children’s Aid Society of Pennsylvania and the Society for Organizing Charity. She was stationed at the Brandy Station, Virginia field hospital and is one of the rare women who lived and worked near the front lines during the war.

At the young age of 23, Cornelia Hancock, arrived in Philadelphia on July 5, 1863, along with a group of women seeking to become volunteer nurses. However, Dorothea Dix rejected Hancock, deeming her too young and attractive for nursing. Despite this setback, Hancock did not give up on her dream of helping the soldiers, and she boarded the train to Gettysburg to care for the wounded soldiers.

Hancock quickly became a well-respected nurse, despite the lack of official support or resources. Her positive attitude and attention to the soldiers made her a welcome presence to the Union Army, and a dance tune was even named after her – The Hancock Gallop. She cared for the wounded soldiers from many battles, including Brandy Station, Wilderness, Fredericksburg, Port Royal, White House Landing, City Point, and Petersburg. She was also one of the first Union nurses to arrive in Richmond after its capture.

In addition to being a nurse and teacher, she also became a posthumous bestselling author when her letters about life on the battlefield – written from 1863 to 1865 – were published in 1937 under the title “South After Gettysburg.”

Research has uncovered Hancock’s experiments with hops and yeast for medicinal purposes. As a nod to this historic detail Sara Thayer, General Manager and owner; Amanda Hook, Event Coordinator and Manger; and Jessica Sheets, Assistant General Manager, from Old Trade Brewery and Cidery in Brandy Station, Virginia recently collaborated to brew Hancock’s Blueberry Hefeweizen to coincide with International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day (March 8th) and Women’s History Month. 

Visit Culpeper, VA and Old Trade Brewery to raise a glass to Ms. Hancock and all the strong women helping shape the past, present, and future. While your here, be sure to visit the Civil War Trails historical interpretive panel, which honors and tells Ms. Hancock’s story.