Explore Women’s History Month with the Revolutionary Neighbors
New Jerseyans from all walks of life were faced with difficult choices during the American Revolution. Many women dealt with special challenges as their men enlisted to fight, leaving them to protect their families and the homestead from the ravages of war and foraging troops.
Their situations were as unique as they were. Many shared their husbands’ and fathers’ political beliefs and gave aid to one side while resisting the other. Some women of means volunteered their homes and land to host officers from either the Continental or British armies, hoping to get protection in return. Others bore the heartache of divided families, as some sons fought for independence while others took up arms as Loyalists. Some were spies for the Patriots, and some refused to support war at all.
What would you do? Read the stories of these female Revolutionary Neighbors to learn more.
I was born in Newark and in 1763 married Rev. James Caldwell, minister of the First Presbyterian Church in Elizabethtown. When the Revolution broke out James played an active role in the protests against the acts of Parliament and then in the movement for independence. When General Washington retreated across New Jersey with the British in hot pursuit, many residents of Elizabethtown fled and James sent me and the children 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.
During that terrible winter near Morristown, many soldiers left the army and 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 our maid. I locked myself, the other women and two children in a small bedroom with only one window. During the battle people believe a British soldier passed by the bedroom window, aimed his gun and fired two shots through the window, killing me instantly. Word of my “murder” spread quickly and the Patriot cause was energized as I became a symbol for the fight for independence. In November 1781, another tragedy for our family occurred when James was inexplicably shot to death by an American soldier.
I was born in 1737 to Judge John and Hannah Sayre Ogden of Newark. In 1763, when I was 26 years old, I married Rev. James Caldwell, the minister of the First Presbyterian Church in Elizabethtown. James had grown up on the Virginia frontier before attending college at Princeton and graduating in 1758. We settled into the pastor’s house in Elizabethtown to begin our family, which over time grew to nine children.
When the Revolution broke out James played an active role in the protests against the acts of Parliament and then in the movement for independence. Early in the war he was chaplain for the Third New Jersey Battalion led by Colonel Elias Dayton, a member of James’ congregation. When the Declaration of Independence was read to the soldiers, he offered a toast wishing “Harmony, virtue, honor, and all propriety to the free and independent United States of America. Wise Legislatures, brave and victorious Armies, both by sea and land, to the American States.” James returned home from the army in September 1776, but when General Washington began his retreat across New Jersey with the British in hot pursuit, Elizabethtown was a prime raiding spot for the Redcoats stationed across the Arthur Kill on Staten Island. Many residents fled to avoid raiding parties stealing livestock and supplies, and James sent me and the children to New Providence for two months.
When we returned in January 1777, we found the town ransacked by the British. Because James, like many Presbyterian ministers, was a spokesperson for the Patriot cause, the British placed a price on his head and targeted his Church, smashing the door, overturning pews, breaking windows and ripping hymnals. Raiding parties continued to terrorize residents, so in 1780 James decided to move our family to nearby Connecticut Farms. On January 25, 1780 a raiding party burned James’ church in Elizabethtown to the ground.
The children and I settled into a small house with a nurse and a young maid. James was now serving as deputy quartermaster for the Army, so he was often away at his office or on the road seeking livestock and supplies from area farmers for the Continental Army, while I cared for the children.
During that winter, General Washington’s 10,000 troops set up camp at Jockey Hollow near Morristown where they endured bitter cold, deep snow, and hunger. Many soldiers left the army and by June 1780, only 4,000 troops remained. The British saw this as an opportunity to attack and destroy our army. On the evening of June 6, 1780, 6,000 British troops from New York landed at Elizabethtown planning to march towards Morristown in the hope that Washington would bring his army out to fight them. American troops attempted to stop them in Elizabethtown, but could not and retreated along Galloping Hill Road to Connecticut Farms.
The attack alarm sounded and James packed up our older children to take them to safety. I told my husband I would wait out the battle in the house, to protect it from being burned by the British. I convinced James that I’d be safe inside the house with our 9-month-old baby, our four-year old son, the nurse and her maid. Reluctantly, James left for nearby Springfield to wait out the battle.
The fighting at Connecticut Farms was furious and lasted three hours. I locked myself, the other women and two children in a small bedroom with only one window to wait out the battle. While there are different theories explaining my fate, there is agreement that a British soldier passed by the bedroom window, aimed his gun and fired two shots through the window, killing me instantly.
According to eye witnesses, British soldiers then broke into the house. Neighbors carried my body outside while the British burned down the house. Hearing the news in Springfield, James broke down and then rushed back to Connecticut Farms.
The Patriots were outraged at what they considered my murder. Word spread quickly and the Patriot cause was energized as I became a symbol for the fight for independence. Today, the Union County Seal memorializes my death. Just a few weeks later the Americans fought valiantly, halting the British advance in Springfield. An inspiring legend grew that James, on hearing the men were running out of wadding for their muskets, ran into the Church, grabbed some hymnals written by Isaac Watts, and brought them to the troops to tear apart for wadding. “Give ’em Watts, boys!” he is said to have shouted. The Americans were victorious and many believe that the Battle at Springfield was a turning point of the war. In November 1781, another tragedy for our family occurred when James was inexplicably shot to death by an American soldier. James and I were buried in the churchyard and the parsonage was rebuilt on the original foundations in 1782. Today the parsonage is owned by the Union Township Historical Society.
I was born in 1754 to farmer Daniel Condict in Pleasantdale, Essex County. In 1772 When I was 17, I began a diary and while most of my entries concerned religious matters, sicknesses and deaths, I was also very aware of the growing anger with Great Britain. On October 1, 1774 I commented that, “It seams we have troublesome times a Coming for there is great Disturbance a Broad in the earth & they say it is tea that caused it.” One day in 1775, I rode down with my father to see our militiamen training and it worried me to hear people saying that “All hopes of Conciliation Between Briten & her Colonies are at an end.” Soon after, on April 23, we heard about the fighting at Lexington and Concord. After the British landed on Staten Island in July 1776 our militia, including my future husband Aaron Harrison, was out on active duty almost constantly. By November our army was in retreat and I wrote “Wat (what) a time is this! A Sickly time & a very Dicing time & the People fleeing before there enemies.” Aaron was one of those fleeing the British army as it marched across our state. In 1777 and 1778 we continued to have problems with the Green Coats and our militia had to contend with them. I stopped my diary in 1779, not long before I married Aaron. Tragically, I died giving birth to our son on November 14, 1779. Aaron continued in the militia throughout the war.
I was born August 24, 1754, the third child of Daniel and Ruth Condict in Pleasantdale, Essex County. My father was a farmer who served as a deacon in the Newark Mountains church. I began a diary in the spring of 1772 when I was still seventeen years old and found an unused portion of my school exercise book useful for the purpose. Most of my diary entries concerned religious matters and sicknesses and deaths, but I was also very aware of the growing feelings of anger with Great Britain and the desire for independence.
On October 1, 1774 I commented that “It seams we have troublesome times a Coming for there is great Disturbance a Broad in the earth & they say it is tea that caused it. So then if they will Quarel about such a trifling thing as that What must we expect But war & I think or at least fear it will be so.” By 1775 my father was a member of the militia and I noted a Monday, which we called a Training Day, when I rode down with my father to see the men train. Several companies met together and it worried me they might have to fight in earnest. I believed it might be soon because I had heard people say that, “All hopes of Conciliation Between Briten & her Colonies are at an end for Both the king & his Parliament have announced our Destruction, fleet and armies are Prepareing with utmost diligence for that Purpose.”
On April 23 I noted that, “As every Day Brings New Troubles So this Day Brings News that yesterday very early in the morning They Began to fight at Boston, the regulers We hear Shot first there; they killd 30 of our men A hundred & 50 of the Regulors.”
Things continued to look grim but the men were not called out until 1776. In March, my future husband, Aaron Harrison, volunteered to go with a militia company to Long Island to put up breast works and fortifications. A few weeks later I wrote in my diary on May 1 that, “This day I think is a Day of mourning” because we received word the British fleet was coming to New York and the men met to decide what measures to take. I wrote that, “they have Chose men to act for them & I hope the Lord will Give them Wisedom to Conduct wisely & Prudently In all matters.” Most of the autumn, Aaron was at Elizabethtown and vicinity guarding against the British forces on Staten Island. With tension building during the summer, I wrote on August 4 that our preacher, Mr. Chapman, preached a farewell sermon and went off to join the army as a chaplain. Some of our neighbors were with the army at New York and on August 16 we learned that Jared Freeman was taken sick there. He was brought home and died soon after.
As winter approached, in November I found myself entering a long string of deaths of family and friends in my diary. The war was not going well and I found myself writing, “Well my Dear friends Wat (what) a time is this! A Sickly time & a very Dicing time & the People fleeing before there enemies.” One of the people fleeing the British army as it marched across our state was Aaron. As 1777 began, the militia worked hard preventing the British from foraging for food for their army at New Brunswick. Finally, in June the British soldiers went back to Staten Island and New York. We were still not safe and on September 12, 1777 I noted a militia alarm because the British had come over to Elizabethtown and had a skirmish with our militia after which they marched “Quietly up to Newark; & took all the Cattle they Could.” Aaron was at that Elizabethtown skirmish and one of our neighbors was killed. The British also fought with our militia at Newark and several people known to us were killed or taken prisoner.
We continued to have problems with the Green Coats and in December 1778 our militia captured three and also sighted one known to us over on Staten Island. So a group of our militia went over and captured him. They took him immediately to Newark where he was kept in close confinement.
I stopped writing in my diary in the spring of 1779, not long before I married Aaron. My marriage was short, though, because I died giving birth to our son, Ira, on November 14, 1779. I was buried in the church cemetery where the First Presbyterian Church of Orange now stands. It was between two and three miles from our home. Aaron continued in the militia throughout the war.
I was born in 1743 in Bergen County and in 1761 married David G. Demarest. When the Revolution broke out David’s family provided soldiers to both sides in the conflict. As a Patriot, I was mortified when David enlisted on November 23, 1776 in the 4th Battalion, New Jersey Volunteers, a Loyalist battalion. Although taken prisoner he was able to get back home and on May 16, 1779 left home and re-joined his Loyalist battalion.
My eldest son, Guilliam, joined the Patriot Bergen County militia and served when called to defend the frontiers of the State. I desperately tried to preserve our property when the State proceeded to confiscate it even though my son was fighting for the Patriot cause.
David left the New Jersey Volunteers in 1780 and joined a Loyalist force raised to supply the British army with firewood. Now Gilliam often opposed Loyalist raiding parties that might include his own father. In August 1781 the Loyalists captured three “notorious Rebels” during raid near Hackensack by David’s battalion. Gilliam was one of them and was sent to the Sugar House prison in New York City. While in prison, David tried to convince Gilliam to join the Loyalists, but he refused. Gilliam was eventually exchanged and came home. I never returned to David and in 1782 he sailed for Canada and settled on land granted by the British. The Revolution had torn our family apart and left us either exiled or homeless, despite fighting for both the winners and losers.
I was born in 1743 and christened Jannetje Zabriskie by my parents, Albert and Tjelltje Akkerman Zaborisky of Bergen County. On March 13, 1761 I married David G. Demarest at Schrallenberg, Bergen County. When the Revolution broke out David’s family provided soldiers to both sides in the conflict. At least thirty five men are known to have served, two dozen on the Patriot side and another eleven fighting for the Crown. David and I disagreed on which side to support in the conflict. I was a staunch Patriot and was horrified when David enlisted on November 23, 1776 in Captain William Van Allen’s Company of the 4th Battalion, New Jersey Volunteers, a Loyalist battalion. He was soon after taken prisoner on December 6, possibly during a raid with his unit on Tappan. Somehow he was able to get back home, but on May 16, 1779 he left home and re-joined his Loyalist battalion, part of a body of about 1,000 British troops that entered Bergen County and drove away the picket at New Bridge that day. When David rejoined the Loyalists, I certainly did not follow him, but I still suffered the consequences for his actions. The State began the process to confiscate his estate, which unfortunately for me and my family, was in his name. In an effort to stave off confiscation, I quickly petitioned Governor Livingston and the legislature hoping to transfer the property title to our Patriot family members. I wrote that I had “incurred the reproaches and hatred” of my husband and many family members because of my “attachment to the interests of America” and my “zeal in instilling those principles” in my children. My eldest son, seventeen year old Guilliam, in spite of his father’s commands to the contrary, joined the Patriot Bergen County militia under the command of Colonel Theunis Dey, and served when called to defend the frontiers of the State. I desperately continued trying to preserve our property that the State was confiscating even though my son was fighting for the Patriot cause. David left the New Jersey Volunteers by 1780 and became one of the initial members of Thomas Ward’s Loyal Refugee Volunteers, raised to supply the British army with firewood. Little did David know that this choice would bring him into direct conflict with our son. The Loyal Refugee Volunteers supplemented their wages by conducting raids into Bergen County, making off with cattle and other plunder. David was one of the 110 defenders of the Bull’s Ferry Blockhouse attacked by General Anthony Wayne’s troops that following July, and was still listed on their rolls in 1782, as David Demerea, a name also used by the family. His actions brought an indictment for high treason in Bergen County that was published in The New Jersey Gazette on November 22, 1780. When the major fighting of the war moved south in 1781, the petit guerre taking place in Bergen County still directly impacted our lives on a daily basis. For David it meant cutting wood on Bergen Neck and raiding up into Bergen County. For Gilliam, it meant defending against Loyalist raids by forces that might include his father. The Royal Gazette, the New York Loyalist paper, on August 1, 1781 carried news that a party of Loyal Refugees who penetrated as far as the New Bridge, near Hackensack, captured three notorious rebels, drove off their stock, and returned without firing a shot. The three “notorious Rebels” were Gilliam, John and Philip Demarest, and they had been taken prisoner by David G. Demarest’s battalion. Two of the three captured Demarests, John and Philip, were imprisoned for less than six months before being paroled home and soon after exchanged. But my son Gilliam remained a captive in the notorious Sugar House prison in New York City. David took advantage of this and tried to convince him to join the Refugees. Gilliam, though, resisted his father’s repeated requests (more like demands) and remained committed to the Patriot cause. He survived the prison, was exchanged and went back into the Patriot military service. Soon after he was wounded in the hand during an engagement, again with his father’s Loyalist troops. At the end of the war our family found itself irreconcilably torn apart. I never again returned to David and spent the rest of my life in the new United States, as did Gilliam. However, we lost the comfort of our three room stone home, confiscated by the State in retaliation for David’s Loyalist actions. And as for David? He left Bergen County for good in October 1782 and sailed with his corps to Nova Scotia, eventually settling in Upper Canada (modern Ontario) on free grants of land provided by the British. The American Revolution left our family either exiled or homeless, despite fighting for both the winners and losers.
1743 – 1816
I was born in 1743 in Philadelphia to Oswald and Lydia Peale. I married prosperous farmer and merchant Robert Field Jr. at his Burlington County mansion called White Hill on the Delaware River. Robert died tragically on the night of January 29, 1775 soon after being appointed to the Committee of Correspondence. He fell overboard from a canoe and sank immediately.
On December 8, 1776 Captain Tom Houston of the Pennsylvania Navy brought some of his men ashore at my landing,seized flour from my stores, and dined at my tavern before leaving. Four days later, British light horsecavalrymen came to my house and accused me of harboring rebels. They went away but another group of horsemen arrived and told me that my neighbors had reported that I had a large number of rebels hiding here. Again, they left without searching my house.
Early on the morning of December 14, I was awakened by Hessian Captain von Wreden who arranged for my house to be his quarters. He was a pure gentleman and ensured that our property escaped plundering. My house was frequently visited by Hessian officers and several prominent Loyalists. Several of these visitors left quickly after hearing of the Hessian defeat at the battle at Trenton. On December 28, American troops came through White Hill looking for horses and wagons for the army. General Mercer very kindly protected mine from being taken.
I married Commodore Thomas Read on September 7, 1779 and after the war we continued to prosper. I died in 1816.
I was born in 1743 in Philadelphia to Oswald and Lydia Peale. I married prosperous farmer and merchant Robert Field Jr. at his Burlington County mansion on the Delaware River called White Hill. It was on land that Robert’s ancestor John Field had received title to in 1674. Our brick house had a large basement with access to the river’s edge by a tunnel, our tavern on the first floor, and our living quarters on the second floor. Robert owned a good sized plantation as well as a bake house, store, tavern, wharves and a ferry across the Delaware River. He also served as a judge on the Burlington County Court of Common Pleas. Together we had seven children, but only three lived to adulthood. When resistance to the acts of Parliament was heating up, Robert was appointed to the New Jersey Committee of Correspondence on July 21, 1774. Robert died tragically just six months later on the night of January 29, 1775 when he fell overboard from a canoe going to his shallop. Our Negro man was with him and threw the paddle to him, but he sank immediately. His death left me to manage our family, our tavern, and a large and complicated estate. In 1776 my family consisted of infant, Robert, and toddler, Molly. In addition, Sally Redman, a longtime friend from Philadelphia and my mother were living with me and my staff of servants. I got caught up in the Revolution during the time that General Washington’s defeat in New York and retreat into and across New Jersey in the summer and fall of 1776. The American army crossed to Pennsylvania on December 7 and 8 and the British army arrived in Trenton on the 8th. I was suffering from a sore throat and fever on December 8 when Captain Tom Houston of the Pennsylvania Navy brought several officers and about 50 sailors ashore, seized flour from my stores, and dined at my tavern before going away. Four days later, I was still sick and confined to my room when British light horse cavalrymen came to my house and accused me of harboring rebels. I denied this, but was ordered to leave my house to talk with their captain out at our fence. The captain was very polite and apologized for making me leave my house when ill. He accepted my assurances that I had no rebels secreted in my house and let me return to it. No sooner did I feel relieved than another body of horsemen arrived and told me that my neighbors were watching White Hill carefully and had reported five times in the past hour that I had a large number of rebels hiding here. Again, they took my word that I was not harboring rebels and left without searching my house. I then went upstairs to look in on little Molly who was sick and we all feared was near death. Our doctor was away and all we could do was sit with Molly and hope. The British troops left the area, but were replaced by Hessians. Early on the morning of December 14, I was awakened when a Hessian captain and private appeared at my house. This was Captain Carl August von Wreden of the First Jaeger Company and he advised me that my tavern was to be used as quarters for either an officer or some privates. I took his advice that an officer would be preferable and my house became quarters for him and his entourage consisting of a cook, footman, waiter, butler, and hostler for his eight horses. He provided his own food and gave me no trouble at all. He was a pure gentleman and I was able to tell people that he was “the sweetest little Dutchman you ever see, the politest, obliging creature in the world.” He helped Molly recover and ensured that our property escaped the plundering that other properties in the area experienced at the hands of the soldiers. During the next week my house was frequently visited by Hessian officers, including Colonel von Donop, and several prominent Loyalists. At Christmas time several men had tea at my house, but they left quickly after hearing of the Hessian defeat at the battle at Trenton. On December 28, American troops came through White Hill looking for horses and wagons for the army. Every horse and wagon in the area had been taken away except for mine, but General Mercer very kindly forbade mine to be taken. Several years later, I married Commodore Thomas Read on September 7, 1779. After the war we continued to prosper. Thomas had a distinguished career in the United States Navy, two of my children married into the Stockton family of Princeton, and Annis Boudinot, the wife of Declaration of Independence signer Richard Stockton, spent her final days at my house. I died in 1816.
1741 – 1824
January 10, 1777 was one of the worst days of my life. The war for independence had been going on for well over a year and it looked like the war would continue on for a long time. My husband, Jacob, had been trying to complete our house in Morristown while also running the gunpowder mill he owned, that was supplying gunpowder to the Patriot forces, and serving as colonel of the local militiaregiment. Several days before, men from the shrinking and dilapidated Continental Army had arrived in Morristown after winning the battles of Trenton and Princeton. My husband had not been well and he died of pneumonia on January 10. I was left alone to deal with his affairs, take care of our children, and deal with the 35 soldiers assigned to spend the winter in our house. I got through that winter, but then two years later General Washington himself asked if he could use my house for his headquarters during another winter encampment. Of course I agreed, but the General’s large “family” of officers meant my family space was reduced to just two rooms. Dealing with all this military activity was very difficult on my entire family, especially since that second winter brought with it the worst weather any of us could remember. However, many important people came through my house, one foreign visitor even died while with us, so life was also very interesting, but still very hard.
I was born in 1741 and into the family of Rev. Timothy Johnes who became rector of the Morristown Presbyterian Church in 1742. I lost my mother when I was just seven years old and my father remarried about a year later. As a young woman I met and married the well to do Morristown landowner and merchant, Jacob Ford, Jr., whose father had established an important iron works in Morris County. The Fords were leading citizens of Morristown due to their business success and civic leadership.
After our marriage in 1762, Jacob built a home for us at nearby Mount Hope. Ten years later Jacob’s father asked him to return to Morristown to handle the family concerns. In 1772, Jacob began to build a large house for us on 200 acres of land his father gave him. About 1774 we moved into our house, even though it was not quite finished yet. We were proud of our house because it was by far the largest in Morristown, but we felt it was not ostentatious. Our “mansion” was a symbol of the Ford family’s status as community leaders. When the Revolution broke out Jacob sided with those opposing England and obtained permission from the New Jersey Provincial Congress to build a powder mill near Morristown to manufacture gunpowder for the Continental army. Jacob was also commissioned as colonel of the eastern battalion of the Morris County militia. My brother, Timothy, was a doctor and became surgeon for the battalion.
After the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777 the remnants of the Continental Army came to Morristown to spend the winter, and just a few days later, on January 10, Jacob died of pneumonia and his father died just a week later on January 19. Their devastating deaths left me a widow at the age of 36 with responsibility for five children, a mansion, several hundred acres of land, a farm, and the gunpowder mill. Our children jointly inherited most of Jacob’s estate and I acted as their guardian while they were young. Our family tragedies were not over yet, though, and I lost my two-year-old daughter Phebe in June to smallpox. As if these problems were not enough, during the army’s winter encampment my home was occupied by 35 men from Thomas Rodney’s Light Infantry regiment of the Continental army.
Two years later, on December 1, 1779 General Washington and his troops arrived back, in the midst of a severe snowstorm, for another winter in Morristown and nearby Jockey Hollow. This turned out to be one of the worst winters of the century with huge amounts of snow and frigid temperatures. General Washington asked to use our house for his headquarters and I agreed. We moved our belongings into two rooms, leaving the rest of the house to General Washington and his staff, whom he called his “family”. Shortly after Christmas, Mrs. Washington arrived and took on the role of official hostess in my house.
Our life was very interesting, but not easy, as we tried to live a normal life amid the beehive of military activity. A number of important guests came and went from our house. One guest, Spanish Ambassador Don Juan de Miralles, fell ill and died while staying with us. General Washington tried to be considerate of our needs, but he admitted to General Nathanael Green on January 22 that, “Eighteen of my family and all of Mrs. Ford’s are crowded together in her kitchen, and scarce one of them able to speak for the colds they have caught.” The General was also concerned because the separate kitchen he had ordered built near our house was nowhere near completion yet and there was nowhere for a servant to lodge “with the smallest degree of comfort.” The soldiers assigned to guard General Washington were camped across the road and were frequently in and about our house. My teenage son, Timothy, was popular with them and joined them as a volunteer. He wore his father’s sword, and was wounded at the Battle of Springfield in June 1780 at the end of the encampment.
I remained in the house during the war and somehow held my family and our businesses together. I never remarried and lived in our Morristown house until my death at the age of 83 in 1824. Today, my home, the Ford Mansion, is part of Morristown National Historical Park. My story is representative of the many women who lost husbands during the war and either gave up their farms or struggled to maintain their family, land, and business. I was fortunate that Jacob left substantial finances to draw on and that General Washington reimbursed me for the expenses of putting up his “family” when he used our home for his headquarters for many months.
I was born about 1748 in a house near Hancock’s Bridge over Alloways Creek in Salem County. My grandfather and father served in the colonial legislature and as judges. On July 4, 1769 I married Thomas Sinnickson, who was also active in politics. When the Revolution broke out, Thomas became an active Patriot and served in the new government and in the militia. Later, Thomas was elected to serve as a Custom House officer; as Naval Officer for the western district.
In March 1778 a British force invaded our county foraging for the army occupying Philadelphia. The British troops were assigned to attack various houses in our settlement the night of March 21 just before daybreak. My father’s large house and several other dwellings were targeted by the British who learned that some of our militiamen were staying there. Once in the house, the soldiers attempted to kill everyone present by bayoneting them and four of the men murdered in this massacre were non-combatant Quakers, including my father. British soldiers stationed at our house in Salem first told me about the massacre and said everyone in the house was dead. I loudly reproached the British officers using such unsparing language that they threatened to hang me. I soon learned that my father was alive, although suffering from ten bayonet wounds. My father died several days later from his wounds. Today my father’s house is a museum in Salem County and there are nearby markers commemorating the massacre that took place there.
I was born about 1748 in a house built about 1734 by my grandparents, William and Sarah Hancock. My ancestor, English shoemaker William Hancock, purchased our property in 1675 from John Fenwick, the English Quaker lawyer who established a settlement called “Fenwick’s Colony” and founded the town of Salem. To help develop the area, Fenwick built a bridge, later known as Hancock’s Bridge, across the Alloways Creek in 1708. The bridge gave our settlement its name and improved the important road connecting Salem and Greenwich. When my grandparents built their brick house they included their initials WHS (W for William, H for Hancock, and S for Sarah) and the building date of 1734 in the ornamental brickwork on the western end of the two and a half story house.
My grandfather was active in the colonial government, serving as a justice of the peace and a member of the colonial legislature. My father carried on this tradition and served in the legislature and as Judge of the Salem County Court. On July 4, 1769 I married Thomas Sinnickson, who was also active in politics. When the Revolution broke out, Thomas became an active Patriot and in June 1776 he was muster master at Gloucester for men enlisting for the defense of New York in Colonel Newcomb’s regiment of General Heard’s brigade of New Jersey state troops. He also served as paymaster for Heard’s Brigade. While the men Thomas mustered into Heard’s Brigade were fighting in and around New York City, he served as a militia captain in Colonel John Holmes’ Second Battalion of Salem County militia serving with the Flying Camp in New Jersey. In 1777 he was elected to the New Jersey State Assembly, where he served on several committees, including one that dealt with property of Loyalists. His brother Andrew also served in the legislature and was a captain in the First Salem County militia regiment. Later, Thomas was elected on December 12, 1778 to serve as a Custom House officer; as Naval Officer for the western district.
In March 1778 a British force invaded our county on a foraging mission for the army occupying Philadelphia. These troops foraged in the area of the three bridges over Alloways Creek; Thompson’s being the upper one, Quintin’s in the middle, and Hancock’s being the lower one. The British troops, guided by local Loyalists who knew the area and the people well were assigned to attack various houses in our settlement the night of March 21 just before daybreak. Some of the soldiers were stationed at our house in Salem that night. My father’s large house along with his cluster of store houses and several other dwellings nearby were targeted by the British who learned that some of our militiamen were staying there. Although my father was a pacifist Quaker who did not take part in the war, British Captain Dunlop led his troops to the rear of my father’s house believing that rebel officers were staying there. A second group of light infantry entered the front door at the same time Dunlop entered the back. There were only about twenty or thirty militiamen present because most of the militiamen had left the evening before. Once in the house, the soldiers attempted to kill everyone present by bayoneting them and four of the men murdered in this massacre were non-combatant Quakers, including my father. As is often the case in tragedies of this nature, the accounts of where and how men were killed or wounded frequently got confused. When British soldiers stationed at our house in Salem first told me about the massacre they said everyone in the house was dead so I was sure my father had been murdered. Frantic with grief and rage I loudly reproached the British officers using such unsparing language that they threatened to hang me. Defying them, I continued to speak against them. I soon learned that my father was alive, although suffering from ten bayonet wounds he had received even though his arm was crippled and he was in bed. British Major Simcoe, who led a force of Loyalists, ordered my father and another Quaker non-combatant, Joseph Thompson, taken to a nearby house where a British surgeon was assigned to attend them. My father died several days later from his wounds.
After the war Thomas and I continued to live in Salem and Thomas continued in public service. He served in the first United States Congress that met in New York City and then served again from 1796 to 1798. For many years he was a judge and county treasurer. Thomas died in 1817 at 72 years of age and I lived a few years longer. Today my father’s house is a museum in Salem County and there are nearby markers commemorating the massacre that took place there.
1725 – 1786
I was born on Long Island in 1725, but came to live in Bordentown, New Jersey at the age of four. My father, John Lovell, was a devout Quaker. By age twenty-one, I had become passionate about art, especially sculpting, and moved to Philadelphia, the center of the American art world. I married fellowQuaker Joseph Wright and we moved back to Bordentown. Joseph died unexpectedly in 1769. My older sister Rachel, also a widow, suggested we start a business making wax sculptures. Although we soon had two thriving waxwork salons in Philadelphia and New York City, I moved to London where Benjamin Franklin introduced me to important people who wanted to be sculpted. While they posed, I entertained each one with my views on current events. I shared my views openly and honestly with people of all stations in life, even the King. I was a strong supporter of William Pitt who tried to reconcile the differences between the British government and the American colonies. Throughout the war that came, I used my wax statues to smuggle out letters to the Continental Congress, passing on whatever military and political news came my way in my many business and social conversations. I also tried to help American prisoners of war in England and supported efforts to compensate Loyalists for their losses. I died in London in 1786 and my burial site is unknown. I had hoped to purchase a burial plot in New Jersey, but my death came before this was accomplished.
I was born on Long Island in 1725, but came to live in Bordentown, New Jersey at the age of four. My father, John Lovell, was a devout Quaker and brought up his children “to acknowledge no distinction between men, but that which is produced by superior virtue or distinguished merit.” He also taught us to be strict vegetarians and avoid using animal-made products like leather, and always dress completely in white, symbolizing purity.
By age twenty-one, I had become so passionate about art, especially sculpting, that I disobeyed my father for the first time and left our farm to move to Philadelphia, the center of the American art world. I had trouble making ends meet though, so when fellow Quaker Joseph Wright asked me to marry him I accepted, though he had little but “age and money” to recommend him, and we moved back to Bordentown. Joseph died unexpectedly in 1769 while I was pregnant with our fifth child. My older sister Rachel, also a widow, suggested we start a business making sculptures out of wax – a newly popular material. Our Bordentown neighbor, Francis Hopkinson, offered to back us financially.
We soon had two thriving waxwork salons; Rachel’s in Philadelphia and mine in New York City. Jane Mecom, Benjamin Franklin’s sister, suggested that I move to London where Ben could introduce me to all the important people. I took her advice and my London waxworks salon was soon full of politicians and celebrities, all wanting me to sculpt them. While they posed, I entertained each one with stories drawn from my sculptures of New Jersey people from my childhood such as my parents and Bordentown area Indian Chief John Pombelus, as well as expressing my views on current events. I shared my views openly and honestly with people of all stations in life, even the King whom I addressed plainly as “George.”
As tensions grew between the British government and the American Colonies, I strongly supported William Pitt who pushed Parliament to adopt a more pro-American policy. After the Boston Tea Party, he hoped for reconciliation and repeal of the laws punishing Boston. Pitt asked me to find information he could use to support his arguments for repeal. I was able to report to him that the destroyed tea had been “three years old, moldy, unsellable.” More importantly, I compiled a list of American merchants who had been willing to compensate the British government for the destroyed tea in order to prevent the passage of the harsh “Intolerable Acts.” They had also “begged time to bring the offenders to justice and not punish the innocent with the guilty.” However, this offer was rejected by Prime Minister Lord North. Pitt’s efforts were in vain and war came, ending my friendship with George III, who I wrote had hardened his heart like Pharoah of the Bible. For the rest of my life I referred to George III as “Pharoah” in my correspondence.
Throughout the conflict, I sent letters to the Continental Congress reporting whatever military and political news came my way in my many business and social conversations. I smuggled out some of these letters by inserting them inside the heads of wax statues that I sent to Rachel’s salon in Philadelphia. Rachel forwarded the letters to the Congress. I tried my best to give accurate information, but I could not verify everything and I may have been given misinformation. I just couldn’t tell.
I also wrote to Benjamin Franklin about the plight of American prisoners languishing in British jails. Although prisoner exchanges were difficult, Franklin used his contacts to assist escapees, supplying them with money and clothing so they could make their way to France and freedom. I even opened my home as a temporary shelter for these refugees. One of my obituaries stated that “those men able to escape and take sanctuary under her roof, will join us in lamenting her loss; … and her generous and indefatigable attention to the prisoners in distress will render her regretted and her memory revered by her country.”
While I supported American independence, my heart went out to American Loyalists who lost their homes and property due to the Revolution. I wrote Franklin supporting his efforts to compensate “those well-meaning honest men who now suffer for their loyalty to the disgrace of Kings.” Meanwhile, I hoped that King George would resign, or be peacefully overthrown, and England could join America in a democratic union. This vision never came to pass.
I died in London in 1786 from a sudden fall after a visit to the home of United States Ambassador John Adams, where I was a frequent guest. I had hoped to purchase a burial plot in New Jersey, but my death came before this was accomplished and my burial site is now unknown. My only surviving full-size wax statue is one of my great friend William Pitt, in the museum of Westminster Abbey in London.
I was born in 1746 to Ann Bartow, and named for my father Theodosious Bartow who died at the age of 34 while my mother was pregnant with me. My mother married British army Captain Philip De Visme in 1751 and when I was 17, I married British army officer James Marcus Prevost in New York City. James purchased land in Bergen County and we named our home The Hermitage. When the Revolution broke out our land was subject to confiscation by the Patriots because James was a British officer. To prevent this, I welcomed leading patriot military and government officials into my home, where I entertained them as hostess and conversationalist. We were not bothered by Patriot forces because James was away and the Loyalist forces did not hurt us because our land was owned by a British officer. One patriot I met was Aaron Burr, who spent some time recuperating at my home after the battle of Monmouth. We began a friendship and correspondence and became very close. None of the repeated efforts to take my land were successful. James’ death in October 1781 ended all efforts to take our lands. It also allowed my relationship with Aaron to advance towards marriage. On July 2, 1782, at age 35, I married 25-year-old Aaron at the Hermitage. After the wedding we settled in Albany, New York where Aaron developed his law practice and eventually went into politics. I died of stomach cancer on May 18, 1794, at the age of 48 – long before Aaron became such a controversial political figure.
I was a fifth generation American born in 1746 to Ann Bartow, the widow of Theodosious Bartow who died at the age of 34 while my mother was pregnant with me and for whom I was named. My mother married British army Captain Philip De Visme in 1751 and by 1768 I had five half brothers and sisters. Growing up I received an extensive education at home and in 1763, when I was 17, I married British army officer James Marcus Prevost in New York City.
My husband served in the army throughout the French and Indian War and in 1767 purchased land in Bergen County. We named our home The Hermitage, after Rousseau’s cottage in France, and our five children grew up there. When the Revolution broke out most of my relatives wanted to stay loyal to Britain, although some supported the fight for independence. When James was called back to active duty in the Royal American Regiment in 1776 I had to take charge of our home, along with our five children, my mother, and my teenage halfsister. Life became very difficult as I figured out how to survive the civil war in Bergen County, as well as the war for independence. I was in an unusual and difficult situation because of my husband’s profession and had to work hard to keep possession of my property. I welcomed leading patriot military and government officials into my home, where I entertained them as hostess and conversationalist. My guests debated political theories, philosophy, and religion and I encouraged the writing of poetry. In the Bergen County civil war, we were not attacked by Patriot forces because we had no men living with us who supported the British. On the other hand, the Loyalist forces did not threaten us because our land was owned by a British officer.
Because the law said a married woman took on the legal identity of her husband, our land became subject to confiscation by the Patriots. Some Patriots even wanted to send me and my family to New York to live behind British lines as Loyalists and then take our property. Nothing came of these efforts and in July 1778, after the Battle of Monmouth, I learned that General Washington and his troops would be in my area on their way to White Plains in New York. I invited him to stay at my house, noting that the accommodations were the “most commodious in the area.” Washington accepted my offer and stayed with us for four days. One of his officers wrote that: “At Mrs. Prevost’s we found some fair refugees from New York who were on a visit to the lady of the Hermitage. With them we talked and walked and laughed and danced and gallanted away the leisure hours of four days and four nights.”
1778 was also the year I met Aaron Burr. His health had been impaired by the Monmouth campaign and heavy work afterwards. Aaron spent some time recuperating at my home, but after he went back on active duty his health continued to be a concern and he retired from the army. He and I kept in touch through correspondence for several years and developed a fondness for each other. During 1778, James was stationed in the West Indies and then in British Florida before assignment to the southern American colonies where he served for a short period as governor of Georgia after the capture of Savannah in December. I sent my two sons, ages 9 and 11, to join their father and begin their life in the British army.
At the end of 1778, the New Jersey Legislature passed a law authorizing confiscation of Loyalist property and my home became a priority target because of my husband’s successes in the south. My efforts to gain the trust of important people paid off and many of them actively supported me. Although there were repeated efforts to take my land, none of them were successful. Then, in October 1781 James died while on duty in Jamaica and this ended all efforts to take our lands. It also allowed my relationship with Aaron to advance towards marriage. Our correspondence continued and I wrote him in May 1781 from his sister’s house in Connecticut that, “Our being the subject of much inquiry, conjecture, and calumny, is no more than we ought to expect. My attention to you was ever pointed enough to attract the observation of those who visited the house.” On July 2, 1782, at age 35 and with five children, I married 25-year-old Aaron at the Hermitage. After the wedding we settled in Albany, New York where Aaron developed his law practice and eventually went into politics. I died of stomach cancer on May 18, 1794, at the age of 48 – long before Aaron became such a controversial political figure.
1716 – 1797
I was born into the Cooper family in Woodbury and married fellow Quaker James Whitall. Between 1760 and 1762 I kept a diary and recorded how to live a Christian life. It concerned me that my husband and sons were not as serious in their religion as I was. The society I saw around me was so dangerously sinful that I worried we would receive judgment from God. That judgment came in 1777 when Patriotsoldiers came to our property to build a fort on the Delaware River. As a Quaker pacifist, James told them, “This is your war and not mine.” But, we could not stop them. When about 1200 Hessians attacked this Fort Mercer on October 22, I calmly sat down to do some spinning. When a stray shot entered the house I simply moved to the cellar to continue. After the battle, I turned our home into a hospital and nursed wounded soldiers. While I cared for their wounds with what I had available, I could not help reminding those who complained that they had brought their misery on themselves by engaging in violence and war. A few weeks later the American army was forced to abandon Fort Mercer and the British army ransacked our house. After the war, life returned to normal. I died at the age 82 during a Yellow Fever epidemic that also took five of my children. My actions when war came to our doorstep led future generations to hail me as the “Heroine of Red Bank.”
I was a hard-working woman who took my Quaker faith and principles seriously. The way I conducted myself when war came to our doorstep led future generations to hail me as the “Heroine of Red Bank.” I was born in Woodbury into the Cooper family. We were devout Quakers descended from William Cooper who had been harassed in England because of his religion. In my early twenties I married fellow Quaker James Whitall and together we had nine children. Between 1760 and 1762, I kept a diary in which I recorded various homemade medical prescriptions and how to properly live a Christian life. I expressed my thoughts that life should be taken seriously with little time for “pratting and talking” on frivolous subjects, laughter, fishing, playing ball, or worrying about nice clothes. I confessed my own sin of over-eating. I was very proud of my grandfather who opposed slavery and chastised Christians involved with it. I once read in a book that “wherever Christianity comes, there comes with it a Sword, a Gun, Powder and Ball.” To me, the people the author wrote about might call themselves Christians, but they did not follow the true religion. It concerned me that my husband and sons were not as serious in their religion as I was. I wrote that they only “go to meeting when they please and … tell me I am no better than themselves nor so good with all my going to meetings.” It truly upset me that “sometimes they are so cross to me all of them and so ugly and unmannerly that there never was a mother so unhappy as I am.” Still, I always honored and took care of my family and even missed Quaker meetings to nurse them when they were sick. The society I saw around me was so dangerously sinful that I worried we would receive judgment from God. That judgment came in 1777 when Patriot soldiers came to our property with orders to build a fort along the Delaware River and they had chosen our farm at Red Bank as its location. As a Quaker pacifist, James told them, “This is your war and not mine.” But, we could not stop them and in the spring of 1777 they built a fort they named Fort Mercer, in honor of General Mercer who had been killed at Princeton the previous January. Their work damaged our property and James drafted a bill for £1526 compensation for making ground unfit for tilling, cutting and destroying timber, and pasturing cattle and horses. In October the fewer than 20 men guarding the fort were reinforced by several hundred soldiers under Colonel Christopher Greene who took command of the fort. They took over most of our house and took our hay to feed their horses. A French officer with them redesigned the fort and ordered our barn torn down and our entire apple orchard cut down for wood to use in the new defenses. When about 1200 Hessians attacked Fort Mercer on October 22, my family has always said that I refused to leave the house during the battle and calmly sat down in our second story room to do some spinning. When a stray shot came into the house near me, I simply gathered up my work and moved down to the cellar to continue with it. After the battle there were several hundred Hessians killed and wounded, but only about 40 of the defenders. I turned our home into a temporary hospital and nursed wounded soldiers. A clergyman who visited later told people that “around 200 were lying on straw in two large rooms, some without arms and legs and others again with their limbs crushed like mush by langrel, some floated in blood, and told me some had died of lack of something to bandage their wounds with.” While I cared for their wounds with what I had available, I could not help reminding those who complained of noise or some discomfort that they had brought their misery on themselves by engaging in violence and war. Several days after the battle we were ordered out of our home by Colonel Greene and he moved into it. He promised to take care of our property, but a few weeks later the American army was forced to abandon Fort Mercer. The British army then ransacked our house and it wasn’t until March 1778 that we were able to return to our home permanently. After the war we continued to seek compensation for damages to our property, but were never paid. We slowly and patiently began to repair the damage done by both armies and eventually things returned to normal. I died at the age 82 during a Yellow Fever epidemic that also took five of my children.
1758 – 1822
I was born in 1758, the youngest of five children in the Wick Family. My father established one of the largest farms in the Morristown containing 1,400 acres with 1,000 acres of good timber, primarily oak and walnut, a large apple orchard and land growing barley, oats and flax. My four siblings moved out of our home before the war for Independence began.
Following its victories at Trenton and Princeton, the Continental Army encamped in the Morristown area in January 1777. Future governor, Major Joseph Bloomfield stayed with us for several months that winter while recovering from illness. Two years later, the Continental Army returned for another and even more terrible winter. Soldiers cut down several hundred acres of trees on our land and our neighbors’ lands to use for building their huts and firewood to keep them warm. Major General Arthur St. Clair and two aides stayed in our house. The next winter soldiers of the Pennsylvania Line arrived in Jockey Hollow. They mutinied on the evening of January 1, 1781 and we heard gunfire and shouting. According to several tales that developed, I hid a horse in our house to prevent its theft by the mutineer soldiers. However, 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.
At the age of 30, I married William Tuttle, who had served in the Continental Army. I lived a good life, passing away April 26, 1822.
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.
I was born in 1720 into the prominent Tucker family of Trenton and spent my entire life there fully involved in the community. I married first, Henry Bellerjeau, and our first son, Samuel Tucker Bellerjeau, was born in 1738. Henry died in 1746 and I married shoemaker Joseph Britton. At some point I began to operate a tavern at our home and continued to own and operate it after Joseph died in 1755. Trenton had about a dozen taverns and stage coaches travelling between New York and Philadelphia often stopped at one of them for a meal or for overnight. My Indian King Tavern was a large, two-story frame house with four rooms on each floor, and a large kitchen building attached to it. During the Revolution, my sons served in the militia and we suffered greatly when the British and Hessians occupied Trenton in December 1776 and two battles were fought in our town. My tavern, on King Street, was in the thick of both battles. My son Isaac took over the family business in July 1779 and operated it through the rest of the Revolution. Unfortunately, we lost our tavern at sheriff’s sale in 1783. I died on April 13, 1790 at Trenton.
I was born in 1720 into the prominent Tucker family of Trenton and spent my entire life there fully involved in the community. My brother, Samuel Tucker, was an important merchant and politician while my brother, William, was a highly respected cordwainer (shoemaker), who also served in many public offices. I married first, Henry Bellerjeau, and our first son, Samuel Tucker Bellerjeau, was born in 1738. Henry died in 1746 and I married shoemaker Joseph Britton. At some point I began to operate a tavern at our home and continued to own and operate it after Joseph died in 1755.
Trenton had about a dozen taverns and stage coaches travelling between New York and Philadelphia often stopped at one of them for a meal or for overnight. Trenton was a market town and the county seat of Hunterdon County so many people came to town needing food and lodging. Taverns also provided meeting rooms and might be used for government meetings, court cases, social events, auctions, or celebrations (such as July 4). I had to apply each year for a tavern license in which I promised to provide food and lodging for travelers and others, as well as their horses. I also pledged to keep good order in my house. My Indian King Tavern was a large, two-story frame house with four rooms on each floor, and a large kitchen building attached to it. My property also had a wood house and shed, a two-story stable that could hold more than 40 horses, and many trees bearing fruit. About three miles from the tavern I also had a ten-acre woodlot to supply the large amounts of firewood I needed in my business.
In 1757 and 1758, during the French and Indian War, I provided housing for six British soldiers for 21 weeks and five days, two soldiers for 13 weeks, and three soldiers for a week and five days. Many other Trenton people also housed soldiers. Although we were reimbursed for the expense, to relieve us from the need to board British soldiers, the townspeople asked the colonial government for a barracks to be built in 1758-1759 (it is now the Old Barracks Museum). During the Revolution, my tavern provided meals for army officers travelling through Trenton on their way to join with George Washington’s army. My sons served in the militia and we suffered greatly when the British and Hessians occupied Trenton in December 1776 and two battles were fought in our town. My tavern, on King Street, was in the thick of both battles.
In May 1777, I was ready to partially retire and rented my house to Francis Costigan who applied for a tavern license. The next year, my son, Samuel Bellerjeau, applied for a license and took over the business. During the winter of 1778, the Continental cavalry came to Trenton for winter quarters while Washington’s army was at Valley Forge. A French doctor, Nicholas de Belleville, came with them and treated soldiers at the military hospital in the Barracks. He stayed with a Loyalist doctor, William Bryant, at Kingsbury (now the Trenton House Museum). After the cavalry left Trenton, he returned sometime later to live in Trenton and boarded at my home before marrying my daughter Ann in January 1780. Nicholas became a highly respected citizen known for his excellent medical skills as well as his kind and soothing manner.
My son Isaac took over the family business noting in his July 1779 license application that he “has settled himself in his own house, lately and long occupied by Mrs. Charity Britton as a tavern.” He operated it through the rest of the Revolution. In October 1779, a joint meeting of the General Assembly and Legislative Council met at our tavern and reelected William Livingston as governor of New Jersey. Two days later they met again at our tavern to discuss making further provisions for wounded officers and soldiers and widows and children of soldiers killed. They met at our place other times as well.
In 1782 Jacob Beck, a blue dyer from Germantown, Pennsylvania used Isaac as his agent in Trenton. Beck dyed linen, cotton, and wool to a deep blue and people from the Trenton area needing his services could drop items off with Isaac “at the sign of the Indian King,” and they would be returned in four or five weeks “dyed in the best manner.” Auctions were often held at taverns and in January 1780, Isaac advertised a public auction to sell an almost new scarlet broadcloth coat, a pair of silk stockings, a piece of silver lace, a neat silver mounted sword, a portmanteau, a bound blank day book, and a pair of four-year-old horses fit for a carriage. Unfortunately, we lost our tavern at sheriff’s sale in 1783. I died on April 13, 1790 at Trenton and my descendants continued to live there for many generations.
1748 – 1814
A Trenton school teacher who helped the American soldiers
I was born in 1748 to John and Sarah Dagworthy of Maidenhead (now Lawrence Township), New Jersey. My father was descended from a well-to-do English family and owned a 180 acre farm plus several properties in Trenton. As the protests against the acts of Parliament were heating up in 1774, I was 26 and living and teaching school in Trenton in the building on South Broad Street later known as the Eagle Hotel. Even though my two older brothers fought in the British army during the French and Indian Wars, we supported the fight for independence. I saw firsthand the suffering of the soldiers and was very active in caring for sick and wounded soldiers as well as providing aid to soldiers traveling through town. In June 1780, I joined with a group of Trenton women raising money and making clothing to aid our soldiers. When General Washington was elected as our first President, he came through Trenton on his way to New York to be inaugurated in April 1789. I was one of the young girls and ladies who serenaded him as he passed through a triumphal arch created for him by the citizens of Trenton. I continued to live in Trenton until my death in 1814 at age 66.
I was born in 1748 to John and Sarah Dagworthy of Maidenhead (now Lawrence Township), New Jersey. My father was descended from a well-to-do English family and owned a 180 acre farm plus several properties in Trenton. He was also a merchant and in 1727 owned a seven ton sloop, the Adventure, registered in Philadelphia. He was recommended for membership on the Governor’s Council for the Province of New Jersey as “an honest, bold man and well affected to the Government, is of the Church of England, a thriving man and at present High Sheriff of the County [Hunterdon] in which he lives.” He died in 1756 when I was just eight years old and left me “a small Silver cup” and, more importantly, provisions for an ample education that allowed me to become an accomplished woman. I became a teacher and was entrusted by my brother, John, with the education of his ward, Elizabeth Dagworthy Aydelott. As the protests against the acts of Parliament were heating up in 1774, I was 26 and living and teaching school in Trenton in the building on South Broad Street later known as the Eagle Hotel.
My oldest brother, John, was in his twenties when I was born. The year I was born he raised a company for a British expedition against Canada. He went to England and was given a Royal officer’s commission in 1753 to command rangers at Fort Cumberland protecting frontier settlements of western Maryland. While at Fort Cumberland he got into an ugly dispute with another young officer, George Washington, because he refused to take orders from the higher ranking Washington who only had a provincial commission while he had a Royal commission. Even though our family might have become Loyalists, we supported the fight for independence. John took up residence in Delaware where he became a militia general when the war for independence broke out.
My brother, Ely, was also older and fought in the French and Indian wars as an officer in the British army and was wounded at Fort Ticonderoga in 1758, when I was ten years old. He was still serving in the British army when the war for independence broke out, but either because he was ill or refused to fight against his fellow Americans, he returned to Trenton in 1775 where he died in early 1776. He bequeathed me a gold seal and I witnessed the signing of a codicil to his will. My older sister, Elizabeth, married William Clayton, a Trenton merchant, who died in 1779. Throughout the war my mother and I lived in Trenton and I taught school. I was a strong supporter of independence and did whatever I could to help us win it.
In addition to the two famous battles fought in Trenton, troops and supplies came through town almost daily during the war. Our town was on the main road between New York and Philadelphia and the Continental Army set up a supply depot and military hospital in it. I saw firsthand the suffering of the soldiers and was very active in caring for sick and wounded soldiers and providing aid to soldiers traveling through town. In June 1780, I joined with a group of Trenton women raising money to aid our soldiers. Most of the women were wives of men serving as militia officers and supply department officials in Trenton and they wanted to contribute also, in addition to caring for their own households. I served as secretary for the group and corresponded with women throughout the State to raise money. By July 17, I was able to write General Washington that we had raised $15,488 and were sending it to him to use as he thought best to help the soldiers. We promised to send additional money as we raised it. Washington wrote back to me that he preferred us to send cloth or clothing – because giving the men money would just cause trouble. While we continued to raise money we also purchased or made clothing items, such as the 380 pairs of stockings we forwarded to General Washington.
I remained single during the war and didn’t marry until 1785, when I was 37. I married Trenton merchant Abraham Hunt whose first wife had died in 1784. When General Washington was elected as our first President, he came through Trenton on his way to New York to be inaugurated in April 1789. I was one of the young girls and ladies who serenaded him as he passed through a triumphal arch created for him by the citizens of Trenton. The arch commemorated the battles that took place in Trenton on December 26, 1776 and January 2, 1777, and the bridge on which the arch was erected had played a critical role in those battles that helped save the Revolution. I continued to live in Trenton until my death in 1814 at age 66.
Elizabeth King Horton
1749 – 1823
Wife of Continental Army Doctor
I was born July 1749 on Long Island, New York and my family moved to Black River, now Chester, in Morris County. In 1768, I married Doctor Jonathan Horton. Jonathan and I lived in Roxbury, Morris County and when the war broke out, the militia and the Continental Army needed doctors to treat the sick and wounded men. Jonathan served as a militia surgeon and then as surgeon in Colonel Ephraim Martin’s Regiment in the New Jersey State militia levies, enlisted to assist in the defense of New York City. After the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777, the army marched to the vicinity of Morristown for its winter encampment. Jonathan became assistant surgeon to a Continental Artillery regiment, and was assigned to the army hospital at Mendham, to help treat soldiers with smallpox. I lost Jonathan on May 24, 1777, to a putrid sickness he caught while treating the smallpox patients. Eighteen days later I gave birth to our son, Jonathan. I was now a 28-year-old widow with four small children under the age of seven. At the time, there were no provisions to assist widows of men who died while serving in the army. I fought through many obstacles for 32 years to be granted a consistent pension and died on October 3, 1823 in Hanover Neck, Morris County.
I was born to Constant and Phebe King in July 1749 Long Island, New York. My family moved to New Jersey and settled at Black River, now Chester, in Morris County, where my younger brother and sister soon joined our family in 1752 and 1754. On February 29, 1768, I married Doctor Jonathan Horton;, I was eighteen and he was twenty-two. Jonathan was the son of Rev. Azariah and Eunice Horton of Bottle Hill, now Madison, New Jersey. Jonathan’s father was a 1735 graduate of Yale College, had served as a Presbyterian missionary in the 1740s to Native Americans living on Long Island, and was a founder of the Presbyterian Church in Bottle Hill. Jonathan was one of seven children and his parents were kept very busy running the family store and farm. In addition, they founded a classical school affiliated with their church.
Jonathan and I lived in Roxbury, Morris County where our first three children were born between 1770 and 1774. Presbyterian ministers and their families frequently opposed the actions of the British Parliament that eventually led the colonies to declare independence, and we were no exception. When the war broke out, the militia and the Continental Army needed doctors to treat the sick and wounded men. Even before independence was declared, from February to June 1776, Jonathan served as surgeon for the Western Battalion of the Morris County Militia. Jonathan was not the only member of our families to serve in the war. His brother, Caleb, was a Morris County minuteman and then commanded a company in the Western Battalion.,Caleb died during the Revolution. My brother, Frederick, served as quartermaster of the Eastern Morris County Battalion. Beginning in June 1776, Jonathan served as surgeon in Colonel Ephraim Martin’s Regiment in the New Jersey State militia levies, enlisted for five months of full-time service to assist in the defense of New York City. Jonathan’s younger brother, Foster, was a captain’s clerk and my brother, Joseph, served as an adjutant in the regiment. Their regiment fought at the Battle of Long Island, where Foster was captured and suffered three months of brutal imprisonment before being released. When their five-month enlistments expired about December 1, New Jersey and the Revolution were in a desperate situation, with the British Army pursuing our battered, demoralized, and disintegrating army through the State towards Trenton. Many of the five-month men went home, while others joined up with their old militia companies and rejoined the American army encamped on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River.
Jonathan came home, but was soon asked to join the Continental Army because of a smallpox epidemic. After the Continental Army won the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777, it and marched to the vicinity of Morristown for its winter encampment. There was a great deal of sickness among the troops during that winter and smallpox was an especially feared disease. Jonathan became assistant surgeon to Dr. Isaac Spafford of Crane’s Continental Artillery Regiment, which was formed on January 1, 1777, and was assigned to the army hospital at Mendham, not far from our home. His father, who had studied some medicine in college, also ministered to the sick at one of the army hospitals, and tragically died of smallpox himself in March. Throughout the time Jonathan was with the army in New York during the fall and then while he was caring for the ill during the winter, I was pregnant with our fourth child. Late in my pregnancy, I lost Jonathan on May 24, 1777, to a putrid sickness he caught while treating the smallpox patients at Mendham. Eighteen days later, on June 11, I gave birth to our son, Jonathan K. Horton. I was now a 28-year-old widow with four small children under the age of seven.
At the time, there were no provisions to assist widows of men who died while serving in the army. I petitioned the Morris County court for a pension in September 1779, well over two years after Jonathan died. General Knox and Surgeon General John Cochran attested to Jonathan’s service on my behalf. On March 17, 1780 the New Jersey General Assembly approved a pension for me of twenty dollars a month, as long as I remained a widow, and approved payments retroactive to May 24, 1777, the date Jonathan died. Due to the terrible inflation, most of the payments I received were in practically worthless Continental money. I couldn’t believe it when the payments stopped inexplicably in 1784. Two years later the Assembly revoked my pension, because they said I had received huge sums of money and Jonathan had died from disease, not from wounds. It wasn’t until 1818 that the New Jersey legislature corrected things and my pension was finally reinstated, 32 years after it was revoked. I died on October 3, 1823, in Hanover Neck, Morris County.
Mary Creighton Stratton
1762 – 1847
I was born in 1762, at Haddonfield, not far from the Delaware River and opposite Philadelphia. My parents operated a fulling mill and a tavern. In 1777 both American soldiers and Hessians came through Haddonfield before and after the battle of Red Bank. Even the American soldiers often took things without paying or paying with the almost worthless paper money. With the British army in Philadelphia, American Continental army troops and militiamen were in and near Haddonfield. On April 5, 1778, American troops in Haddonfield were warned just in time to get out of town before the arrival of 500 British light infantrymen. I was only sixteen years old at the time and my mother and I were awakened at 3:30am by soldiers who destroyed and plundered our property. A militiaman messenger ran into the British troops and his horse was killed right in front of our tavern. Although bayonetted thirteen times by the British soldiers, he was brought into our tavern and my mother and I nursed him through his recovery. Life did not settle down until after the battle of Monmouth in June 1778. After the war, in 1787, I married Dr. James Stratton and left home to establish my own family.
I was born in 1762, to Hugh and Mary Creighton of Haddonfield, Gloucester, now Camden, County not far from the Delaware River and opposite Philadelphia. My father operated a fulling mill where he finished woolens, dyed fabrics, and washed clothing, and my mother operated the Indian King Tavern that they rented. When the war broke out, our tavern served the many people coming to Haddonfield for meetings of the Committee of Safety and the legislature. However, we worried we might lose our lease because our landlord was a Loyalist and his property was subject to seizure. Therefore, on May 1, 1777, my parents purchased three buildings providing excellent facilities for a large tavern.
As a Quaker pacifist, my mother was horrified in 1777 when my brothers joined militia units. On August 25 that year, shortly after we bought the new tavern, a British army landed at the head of Chesapeake Bay and threatened Philadelphia. The Assembly began meeting at our tavern on September 3, but after the American defeat at Brandywine the Legislature fled north to Princeton on September 24.
Increasing numbers of militiamen crowded into our town and Continental soldiers marched through on their way to garrison Fort Mercer at Red Bank. On October 21, some of the militiamen left to intercept hundreds of Hessians marching our way, while other militiamen went to Fort Mercer. The Hessians were not stopped and hundreds of the blue-coated, brass-capped men marched through town in front of our tavern. Several days later, after their defeat at the battle of Red Bank, these men, now wild, frightened, angry and accompanied by wagons full of their wounded came back through town on their way to Philadelphia. The next day our militia under Colonel Joseph Ellis returned, but the windows of our tavern were rattled by a terrible explosion, reported to be a British ship blowing up on the river. For weeks we heard loud reports of artillery fire as the British cannonaded Fort Mifflin. Through December, large numbers of our soldiers marched through town, often taking food and items they needed without paying for them and when officers stayed at our tavern they paid with paper money that was really almost worthless.
During February 1778, some British officers stayed at our tavern for four days. Then in March we heard about British foraging in Salem County and that many militiamen had revolted and were illegally selling produce to the British in Philadelphia. The Second New Jersey Regiment, under Colonel Israel Shreve came to help Colonel Ellis’s militia regain rebel control.
On April 5, a British force of 500 light infantrymen approached Haddonfield and Shreve and Ellis were warned in time to get their men and supplies out of town about ten minutes before the British stormed into town, breaking down doors and terrorizing residents, as they searched for rebel soldiers and munitions. I was just 16 years old and my mother had taken me to bed with her because I was sick and might need help in the night and at 3:30am we were awakened by the turmoil in the street. We were only half-dressed when British soldiers entered the room and began destroying our things with their bayonets and plundering the tavern. They took our clothing and the tavern’s sheets, pillow slips, and napkins. Thomas Carpenter, the militia paymaster, was staying with us but had not been warned. Fortunately, he was able to jump from a tavern window and escaped carrying the militia payroll.
A militiaman messenger named Moses Sage ran into the British troops and tried to gallop through them, but his horse was killed in front of our tavern. Sage was bayonetted repeatedly until an officer came, put his foot on Sage’s head, and asked him if he was alive. Finding that he was, the soldiers brought him into our tavern where my mother and I dressed his wounds, finding that he had been bayonetted thirteen times. Fortunately, he recovered. When the British soldiers left town, some of their stragglers set fire to two houses, including one belonging to a Quaker who had spent two months in prison for opposing the war. The town’s women carried water to help keep the fire from spreading.
When the British army left Philadelphia in June, it came through and ransacked Haddonfield on its way across New Jersey, meeting the Continental army on June 28 at Monmouth where the important battle took place. Life was fairly normal for the rest of the war, but our tavern was very busy. After the war, in 1787, I married Dr. James Stratton and left home to establish my own family. I lived at Stratton Hall, an elegant brick farmhouse on Raccoon Creek, Woolwich Township, Gloucester County, until my death in 1847. Today, Stratton Hall is a privately owned historic site open to the public and my childhood home is now the Indian King Tavern State Historic Site.
1737 – 1816
I was raised in Philadelphia where I received a good education based on Quaker principles. I married William Morris in 1758, but he died young and as a widow with four young children, I moved to Burlington, New Jersey in 1770 to live with a sister and her family.
Throughout my life, I gardened and during the Revolution my garden was divided between food for my family and plants I could use to make medicines. I was respected as a competent doctress and helped provide health care through Quaker organizations. During the Revolution, I treated people on all sides impartially and kept a journal of my experiences. The month of December 1776 was especially troubling because of the recent American army defeats and the arrival of Hessian troops at Burlington. The Hessians did not stay long, but we had to endure shots from Pennsylvania State Navy gondolas on the Delaware River fired at them and then threatening to burn our town. After the American victory at Trenton, many American soldiers came to our town and we cared for them.
I died October 10, 1816 at age 79 after a long decline that partially paralyzed me, but did not prevent me from writing upbeat accounts to my relatives.
I was born near Annapolis, Maryland in 1737, the tenth child in the socially prominent and well-to-do Richard and Deborah Hill family. Financial difficulties forced my family to move to the Azores. I was then sent to live with my recently married sister in Philadelphia, who raised me to adulthood. I received a good education based on Quaker principles.
I married Philadelphia dry goods merchant, William Morris, in 1758. He was committed to pacifist, anti-slavery and philanthropic causes, but died at the young age of 31. Now a widow with four young children, I moved to Burlington, New Jersey in 1770 to live with another sister and her family.
Throughout my life, I gardened and during the Revolution my garden was divided between food for my family and plants I could use to make medicines. From about 1780 to 1782 I ran a small apothecary shop selling medicines I had prepared. I was respected as a competent doctress and helped provide health care through Quaker organizations. At one point, I ran a smallpox hospital with up to thirty patients.
During the Revolution, I treated people on all sides impartially and kept a journal of my experiences. The month of December 1776 was especially troubling because of the recent American army defeats and the arrival of Hessian troops at Burlington. On December 8, I wrote, “every day begins & ends with the same accounts, & we hear today the Regulars are at Trenton – some of our neighbors gone, & others going … but our trust in Providence still firm, & we dare not even talk of removing our family.” On December 11, when some 4 or 500 Hessians arrived in Burlington, several men of our town went out to greet them and their Colonel was able to communicate that “he had orders to quarter his troops in Burlington that night, & that if the inhabitants were quiet & peaceable, & would furnish him with quarters & refreshment, he would pledge his honor, that no manner of disorder shoud happen to disturb or alarm the people.”
However, there were armed Pennsylvania State Navy gondolas on the river that fired on the Hessians. We took safety in our cellar until it ceased. On December 12, although the Hessians had left, there were reports that men from the galleys were going to set fire to the town, thinking there were still Hessians hiding out. Finding the Hessians gone, the gondola men searched for those people who were Tories. My son brought great danger on us when he took my little spyglass and was seen by the gondola men looking at them through it. They thought he was a Tory spy. Explaining things to the officer accusing him and offering him the spyglass, put an end to the problem. This officer was soon after killed at the Battle of Princeton.
I learned on December 27 about the surprise attack at Trenton the day before. Then, on the morning of January 3, “between 8 & 9 oClock we heard very distinctly, a heavy fireing of cannon, the sound came from towards Trenton, about noon a number of soldiers, upwards of a thousand came into town in great confusion, with baggage & some cannon. – From these soldiers we learn there was a smart engagement yesterday at Trenton, & that they left them engaged near Trenton Mill, but were not able to say which side was victorious.” These men quartered in our houses, but none with me. However, “about bed time I went in the next house to see if the fires were safe, & my heart was melted with compassion to see such a number of my fellow creatures lying like swine on the floor fast asleep, & many of them without even a blanket to cover them[.] it seems very strange to me that such a number should be allowed to come from the camp at the very time of the engagement, & I shrewdly suspect they have run away for they can give no account why they came, nor where they are to march next.”
In 1784, I moved my family back to South Philadelphia. I assisted during a yellow fever epidemic in 1793, during which my son, Doctor John Morris and his wife became victims of the disease. My own children were now adults, but I inherited five orphaned grandchildren between the ages of one and nine. Another yellow fever epidemic brought death to several other of my siblings and their spouses. To be nearer to my surviving family I returned to Burlington in August 1799. For the rest of my life I helped the younger members of my family and they cared for me as I aged. I died October 10, 1816 at age 79 after a long decline that partially paralyzed me, but did not prevent me from writing upbeat accounts to my relatives.