The Lawrence Family ancestors date back to the year 1830 in Erie County as documented by the First Families Project (The Fisher Family). The Lawrence Family (Gertrude, Earl, Belle, Effie, Ray and Charles) has contributed significantly to the history of Erie city and Erie County Pennsylvania. The family has perpetually resided in the West Bayfront area.


Gertrude was born in 1858 in Buffalo, NY. The daughter of a black mother and an American Indian father. She found her way to Erie, PA and in 1881 married John Lawrence. To this union were born four children, Earl, Charles, Effie, and Ray). After the death of John she was left to rear four young children by herself. Gertrude took in washing to support herself and family. She became the founder and operator of Lawrence Cleaning and Dyeing in 1906, the first business operated by an African American female in the city of Erie. Gertrude was active in and a member of many civic organizations that aided the community and its benevolent efforts. Gertrude passed away on May 10, 1934 leaving a legacy of accomplishments behind her.


Earl, born in 1881, graduated from Erie High School in 1901 and distinquished himself as an athlete, a gifted and talented musician and a teacher. Earl established and played with various bands and operated his own music studio from about 1916 to the Depression. He taught and played with many of Erie's well known musicians. He was on the faculty of the Erie Conservatory operated by Peter Leseur. Earl was also a member of the Erie Philharmonic. Earl taught music in Fairview, Erie, Girard and Wattsburg school districts.


Belle, Earl's wife, was an active member of many local organizations during the war years. She contributed greatly to the service of our troops during WW I and WW II through the Red Cross and other organizations.

Ray, was an accomplished pianist, singer and dancer having played with many bands and toured many cities.


Charles became the operator of the cleaning business upon the demise of his mother. He was an accomplished singer and was active in many civic organizations.