Hannah Caldwell

1737-1780, Presbyterian Minister’s Wife

My story is a sad one, and it made me a symbol of the fight for freedom.

I lived in Elizabethtown, after moving from Newark to marry my husband, the Reverend James Caldwell, minister of the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth. James played an active role in the protests against the acts of Parliament and then in the movement for independence.

When General Washington led the Retreat Across New Jersey, James sent me and my children along with others to New Providence for two months. After the British left New Jersey in 1777 raiding parties continued to terrorize residents, so in 1780 James decided to move our family to nearby Connecticut Farms.

On June 6, British troops from New York landed at Elizabethtown planning to march towards Morristown. American troops retreated from Elizabethtown to Connecticut Farms. James packed up our older children to take them to safety, but I remained in our house with our two younger children, our nurse and a female friend.  I locked myself, the other women and two children in a small bedroom with only one window. During the Battles of Springfield and Connecticut Farms, people believe a British soldier passed by the bedroom and fired two shots through the window. I was killed instantly.

Word of my “murder” spread quickly and the Patriot cause was energized. Sadly, in November 1781, my husband James was inexplicably shot to death by an American soldier. To this day, we remain symbols of the sacrifices that common people made every day to secure freedom.

You can learn more about our role in the Revolution by visiting the Caldwell Parsonage, or by reading about the Battle of Connecticut Farms.


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Image Hannah Caldwell