Temperance Wick Full Biography
I was born on October 30, 1758. The youngest of five children in the Wick Family, I was the only one born in our home near Mendham, New Jersey. My father, Henry, had inherited a farm from his father John in Bridgehampton, Long Island on the road to Sag Harbor and my four older brothers and sisters were born there. In 1746, my father and Nathan Cooper jointly purchased 1,114 acres of good land, bordering the Passaic River. Nathan gave his share of the land to my father two years later. By that time, our family had moved to Morristown, New Jersey where my father purchased more land, expanding the property to 1,400 acres. He built a new, large home on the farm a few years later. Our property, one of the largest farms in the Morristown, had 1,000 acres of good timber, primarily oak and walnut. Our orchards contained several hundred apple trees. Father made good, hard cider from this crop. We also had acreage under cultivation where we planted barley, oats and flax. My four siblings moved out of our home before the war for Independence began.
My two sisters married doctors. Mary wed Dr. Ebenezer Blachly in 1758, and Phebe married Dr. William Leddell in 1770. Brother Henry married in 1760, but James never married.
Following its victories at Trenton and Princeton, the Continental Army encamped for the winter in the Morristown area in January 1777. Tragically, some of the soldiers brought smallpox with them and it ravaged the town, many residents dying from it. Major Joseph Bloomfield of the Third New Jersey Regiment stayed with us for several months that winter while recovering from illness. He was a most gracious guest (little knowing he would later become New Jersey’s fourth governor and a town would be named for him.) Two years later, the Continental Army returned for another winter, arguably the most severe winter of the Revolution. In December 1779, regiments started marching into Jockey Hollow south of Morristown. Some units encamped on our property and cut down several hundred acres of trees to use for building their huts and for firewood to keep them warm. Our neighbors, including Peter Kemble, also lost scores of trees to soldiers camping on their farms. A knock at our door found army officers asking to rent rooms in our house. Father agreed, giving up two rooms on the east side. Soon, Major General Arthur St. Clair (pronounced Sinclair as it was) and his two aides moved in, with their trunks, bedding and other furnishings. They remained with us for six months, though the general did take leave to visit his home in Pennsylvania. It seems his wife was ill and needed him.
After the army left in June, we did not see any soldiers again until the next winter. Alas, my father passed away in late 1780. Though our farm was smaller in size now, it still required much work. Soon, soldiers of the Pennsylvania Line arrived in Jockey Hollow. Though some log huts were still standing, more had to be built to accommodate everyone. We heard axes chopping down scores of trees on Peter Kemble’s farm. However, the soldiers seemed upset about something. On the evening of January 1, 1781, we heard the sounds of gunfire and shouting that woke us from a sound sleep. Peering out our windows we saw hundreds of soldiers milling about in the darkness. An occasional musket was fired. My mother and I were frightened, especially when a group of soldiers surrounded our house. They shouted for us to lead them to our horses. Thinking better of it, we didn’t venture out. After what seemed like hours, the soldiers finally marched away! It was due to this January 1781 mutiny that I unknowingly became part of a legend. According to several tales that developed, I hid a horse to prevent its theft by the mutineer soldiers. The best hiding place I found was, supposedly, inside my own home! One account claims I covered the floor of my bedroom with my good feather mattress to muffle the sounds. Other tales said it was either the British or the Hessians who attempted to steal my horse. If you could see the horse involved, plus the amount of manure it produced, you would understand it wouldn’t be smart to hide a horse in anyone’s home.
My mother lived but six more years. Two years later, at the advanced age of 30, I married William Tuttle, who had served in the Continental Army. We continued living in the house until a larger home was ready for us in Morristown. We needed it for our family of three girls and two boys. I lived a good life, passing away April 26, 1822, at the ripe old age of 63. I was buried at the Cemetery of the Evergreens, in Morristown.
Van Doren, Carl. Mutiny in January. New York: Viking Press, 1973.
Gauch, Patricia and Margot Tomes. This Time, Tempe Wick. New York: Shoe Tree Press, 1987.
Rinaldi, Ann. A Ride into Morning. New York: Harcourt, 1991