Sunday, November 14, 2021

Henry Benbridge 1743-1812 paints 18C Women

Henry Benbridge (1743-1812). Margaret Cantey (Mrs. John Peyre).
Henry Benbridge (1744–1812), early American portrait painter, was born in Philadelphia, the only child of James & Mary (Clark) Benbridge. When he was 7 years old, his widowed mother married Thomas Gordon, a wealthy Scot. The boy's artistic talent was encouraged, as he made decorative designs for his stepfather's drawing-room.

Henry Benbridge (1743-1812) Gordon Family (his stepfather & mother Mary Clark Benbridge Gordon) 1763-65

When he was 21, Benbridge was sent to Italy, where he studied with Pompeo Batoni & Anton Raphael Mengs. From there he journeyed to London before returning to Philadelphia. Like other young Americans he was encouraged by Benjamin West. He wrote, on December 7, 1769, to his stepfather: "Upon my arrival I waited upon Mr. West who received me with a sort of brotherly affection, as did my cousin, Mrs. West." 

He left England in 1770, bearing from West the following note of recommendation to Francis Hopkinson: "By Mr. Benbridge you will receive these few lines. You will find him an Ingenous artist and an agreeable Companion. His merit in the art must procure him great incouragement and much esteem. I deare say it will give you great pleasure to have an ingenous artist resident amongst you."Henry Benbridge (1743-1812) Mrs Charles Coteworth Pinckney Sarah Middleton Benbridge 1773In Philadelphia, Benbridge married & was admitted to membership in the American Philosophical Society in 1771. Suffering from asthma & the cold of Philadelphia, he moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where he succeeded Jeremiah Theus as the region's popular portrait painter. Around 1800 Benbridge relocated to Norfolk, Virginia, & made frequent visits to his native Philadelphia. At Norfolk he gave Thomas Sully his first lessons in oil painting. Earlier in Charleston, he had instructed Thomas Coram. Sully described his master as "a portly man of good address–gentlemanly in his deportment."
Henry Benbridge (1743-1812) Archibald Bulloch Family 1775
Benbridge, who had certainly seen the lastest opulent fashion trends, as he studied in Italy with Pompeo Batoni & in England with expatriate Benjamin West, had a distrust of the trendy fashionable. In 1770, when his sisters were nearing marrying age, Benbridge wrote his mother from London, that his sisters "should not refuse a good plain honest Country farmer if such a one should offer himself with tolerable good estate, for one of the town who perhaps may have a better taste for dress, but not more merit, if perhaps as much."
1784 Henry Benbridge (1743-1812). Rachel Moore (Mrs. William Allston II).
When Benbridge had returned from Europe settling in Charlestown, South Carolina, to make a living painting portraits, he wrote to his sister Betsy in 1773, "Every kind of news here is very dull, the only thing attended to is dress and dissipation, & if I come in for a share of their superfluous Cash, I have no right to find fault with them, as it turns out to my advantage."
1790 Henry Benbridge (743-1812). Mary Boyer (Mrs. Robert Shewell).

In 1785, Benbridge, who loved the simple pleasures of gardening, was still worried about the too fancy dress of his son, Harry, whom Benbridge lovingly called "my little fellow." He wrote to his sister that he felt that his wife was dressing him in "too good things for a boy like him to wair, & likewise too many of them at once; he can't take care of them when he is at play & more common & Strong stuff in my Opinion would answer much better, & not fill his head with foolish notions of dress, which perhaps may be his bane."
1780s Henry Benbridge (1743-1812). Elizabeth Allston (Mrs. William H. Gibbes).
It is not surprising that Benbridge painted many of his female clients in dignified classical gowns looking serious, thoughtful, & restrained.

Henry Benbridge (1743-1812). Lady of the Middleton Family. 1780sHenry Benbridge (1743-1812) Enoch Edwards Family 1779
Henry Benbridge (1743-1812) Mrs Benjamin Simons 1771-76
Henry Bendridge (1743-1812). The Hartley Family. 1787
Henry Benbridge (1743-1812). Sarah White (Mrs. Isaac Chanler). 1770s
Henry Benbridge (1743-1812 The Tannant Family 1770s
Attributed to Henry Benbridge (1743-1812). Rebecca Lloyd (Mrs Edward Davies) 1770s
Henry Benbridge (1743-1812) Mary Bryan Morel and Her Children c 17773
Henry Benbridge (1743-1812) Allegorical Portrait of Sarah Flagg c 1774
Henry Benbridge (1743-1812). Mrs. Mumford Milner (Elizabeth Brewton) b 1786
Henry Benbridge (1743-1812) Rebecca Gordon (his half sister) 1770s
Henry Benbridge (1743-1812) Elizabeth Ann Timothy Mrs William Williamson c 1775-85
1770s Henry Benbridge (1743-1812). Charlotte Pepper (Mrs. James Gignilliat).

Saturday, July 17, 2021

18C Women Planning Meals in Colonial America

 

"Most New Englanders had a simple diet, their soil and climates allowing limited varieties of fruits and vegetables. In 1728 the Boston News Letter estimates the food needs of a middle-class 'genteel' family. Breakfast was bread an milk. Dinner consisted of pudding, followed by bread, meat, roots, pickles, vinegar, salt and cheese. Supper was the same as breakfast. Each famly also needed raisins, currants, suet, flour, eggs, cranberries, apples, and, where there were children, food for 'intermeal eatings.' Small beer was the beverage, and molasses for brewing and flavoring was needed. Butter, spices, sugar, and sweetmeats were luxuries, as were coffee, tea, chocolate, and alcoholic beverages other than beer."---A History of Food and Drink in America, Richard J. Hooker [Bobbs-Merrill Company:Indianapolis IN] 1981(p. 67)

"English settlers in teh seventeenth century ate three meals a day, as they had in England...For most people, breakfast consisted of bread, cornmeal mush and milk, or bread and milk together, and tea. Even the gentry might eat modestly in the morning, although they could afford meat or fish...Dinner, as elsewhere in the colonies, was a midday, through the wealthy were like to do as their peers in England did, and have it midafternoon...new England's gentry had a great variety of food on te table...An everyday meal might feature only one or two meats with a pudding, tarts, and vegetables...The different betweeen the more prosperous households and more modest ones might be in the quality and quantity of the meat served...Supper was a smaller meal, often similar to breakfast: bread, cheese, mush or hasty pudding, or warmed-over meat from the noon meal. Supper among the gentry was also a sociable meal, and might have warm food, meat or shellfish, such as oysters, in season."---Food in Colonial and Federal America, Sandra L. Oliver [Greenwood Press:Westport CT] 2005(p. 157)

"Breakfast. The Colonial American breakfast was far from the juice, eggs and bacon of today. The stoic early settlers rose early and went straight to the chores that demanded their attention. In frontier outposts and on farms, families drank cider or beer and gulped down a bowl of porridge that had been cooking slowly all night over the embers...In the towns, the usual mug of alcoholic beverage consumed upon rising was followed by cornmeal mush and molasses with more cider or beer. By the nineteenth century, breakfast was served as late a 9 or 10 o'clock. Here might be found coffee, tea or chocolate, wafers, muffins, toasts, and a butter dish and knife...The southern poor ate cold turkey washed down with ever-present cider. The size of breakfasts grew in direct proportion to growth of wealth. Breads, cold meats and, especially in the Northeast, fruit pies and pasties joined the breakfast menus. Families in the Middle Colonies added special items such as scrapple (cornmeal and headcheese) and dutch sweetcakes wich were fried in deep fat. It was among the Southern planters that breakfast became a leisurely and delightful meal, though it was not served until early chores were attended to and orders for the day given...Breads were eaten at all times of the day but particularly at breakfast."---A Cooking Legacy, Virginia T. Elverson and Mary Ann McLanahan [Walker & Company:New York] 1975 (p. 14)

"Dinner. Early afternoon was the appointed hour for dinner in Colonial America. Throughout the seventeenth century and well into the eighteenth century it was served in the "hall" or "common room." ..While dinner among the affluent merchants in the North took place shortly after noon, the Southern planters enjoyed their dinner as late as bubbling stews were carried into the fields to feed the slaves and laborers...In the early settlements, poor families ate from trenchers filled from a common stew pot, with a bowl of coars salt the only table adornment. The earliest trenchers in America, as in the Middle Ages, were probably made from slabs of stale bread which were either eaten with the meal or thrown after use to the domestic animals. The stews often included pork, sweet corn and cabbage, or other vegetables and roots which were available...A typical comfortably fixed family in the late 1700s probably served two courses for dinner. The first course included several meats plus meat puddings and/or deep meat pies containing fruits and spices, pancakes and fritters, and the ever-present side dishes of sauces, pickles and catsups...Soups seem to have been served before of in conjunction with the first course. Desserts appeared with the second course. An assortment of fresh, cooked, or dried fruits, custards, tarts and sweetmeats was usually available. "Sallats," (salads) though more popular at supper, sometimes were served at dinner and occasionally provided decoration in the center of the table...Cakes were of many varieties: pound, gingerbread, spice and cheese."---A Cooking Legacy (p. 24-28)

"Supper. What is there to say about a meal that probably did not even exist for many settlers during the eary days of the Colonies and later seemed more like a bedtime snack made up of leftovers?...In the eighteenth century supper was a brief meal and, especially in the South, light and late. It generally consisted of leftovers from dinner, or of gruel (a mixture made from boiling water with oats, "Indian," (corn meal) or some other meal). One Massachusetts diary of 1797 describes roast potatoes, prepared with salt but no butter. Ale, cider, or some variety of beer was always served. In the richer merchant society and in Southern plantation life, eggs and egg dishes were special delicacies and were prepared as side dishes at either dinner or supper...Supper took on added importance as the nineteeth century wore on. This heretofore casual meal became more important as dinner was served earlier in the day."---A Cooking Legacy (p. 79-81)

Colonial Era Cookbooks

1615, New Booke of Cookerie, John Murrell (London) 

1798, American Cookery, Amelia Simmons (Hartford, CT)

1803, Frugal Housewife, Susannah Carter (New York, NY)

1807, A New System of Domestic Cookery, Maria Eliza Rundell (Boston, MA)

1808, New England Cookery, Lucy Emerson (Montpelier, VT)

Helpful Secondary Sources

America's Founding Food: The Story of New England Cooking/Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

Colonial Kitchens, Their Furnishings, and Their Gardens/Frances Phipps Hawthorn; 1972

Early American Beverages/John Hull Brown   Rutland, Vt., C. E. Tuttle Co 1996 

Early American Herb Recipes/Alice Cooke Brown  ABC-CLIO  Westport, United States

Food in Colonial and Federal America/Sandra L. Oliver

Home Life in Colonial Days/Alice Morse Earle (Chapter VII: Meat and Drink) New York : Macmillan Co., ©1926.

A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America/James E. McWilliams New York : Columbia University Press, 2005.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Mary Jemison on The Revolution from the Native American Viewpoint

 Mary Jemison captured by Native Americans from the 1856 printing of The Life of Mary Jemison, Deh-He-Wa-Mis

Mary Jemison (Deh-he-wä-mis) (1743–1833) was probably about 15 years old, when she was captured & adopted by Seneca Indians during the French and Indian War. Mary Jemison recounts her experience of the American War for Independence from a Native American perspective. The Senecas, after first pledging to remain neutral, were persuaded to take the side of the British at the council of Oswego. The resulting conflagration, in which the Senecas faced the advancing colonial army of General Sullivan, pitted Indian against Indian and would prove to have a catastrophic impact on Jemison's adopted tribe.  

Thus, at peace amongst themselves, and with the neighboring whites, though there were none at that time very near, our Indians lived quietly and peaceably at home, till a little before the breaking out of the revolutionary war, when they were sent for, together with the Chiefs and members of the Six Nations generally, by the people of the States, to go to the German Flats, and there hold a general council, in order that the people of the states might ascertain, in good season, who they should esteem and treat as enemies, and who as friends, in the great war which was then upon the point of breaking out between them and the King of England.

Our Indians obeyed the call, and the council was holden at which the pipe of peace was smoked, and a treaty made, in which the Six Nations solemnly agreed that if a war should eventually break out, they would not take up arms on either side; but that they would observe a strict neutrality. With that the people of the states were satisfied, as they had not asked their assistance, nor did not wish it. The Indians returned to their homes well pleased that they could live on neutral ground, surrounded by the din of war, without being engaged in it.

About a year passed off, and we, as usual, were enjoying ourselves in the employments of peaceable times, when a messenger arrived from the British Commissioners, requesting all the Indians of our tribe to attend a general council which was soon to be held at Oswego. The council convened, and being opened, the British Commissioners informed the Chiefs that the object of calling a council of the Six Nations, was, to engage their assistance in subduing the rebels, the people of the states, who had risen up against the good King, their master, and were about to rob him of a great part of his possessions and wealth, and added that they would amply reward them for all their services.

The Chiefs then arose, and informed the Commissioners of the nature and extent of the treaty which they had entered into with the people of the states, the year before, and that they should not violate it by taking up the hatchet against them.

The Commissioners continued their entreaties without success, till they addressed their avarice, by telling our people that the people of the states were few in number, and easily subdued; and that on the account of their disobedience to the King, they justly merited all the punishment that it was possible for White men and Indians to inflict upon them; and added, that the King was rich and powerful, both in money and subjects: That his rum was as plenty as the water in lake Ontario: that his men were as numerous as the sands upon the lake shore: and that the Indians, if they would assist in the war, and persevere in their friendship to the King, till it was closed, should never want for money or goods.

Upon this the Chiefs concluded a treaty with the British Commissioners, in which they agreed to take up arms against the rebels, and continue in the service of his Majesty till they were subdued, in consideration of certain conditions which were stipulated in the treaty to be performed by the British government and its agents.

As soon as the treaty was finished, the Commissioners made a present to each Indian of a suit of clothes, a brass kettle, a gun and tomahawk, a scalping knife, a quantity of powder and lead, a piece of gold, and promised a bounty on every scalp that should be brought in. Thus richly clad and equipped, they returned home, after an absence of about two weeks, full of the fire of war, and anxious to encounter their enemies. Many of the kettles which the Indians received at that time are now in use on the Genesee Flats.

Hired to commit depredations upon the whites, who had given them no offence, they waited impatiently to commence their labor, till sometime in the spring of 1776, when a convenient opportunity offered for them to make an attack. At that time, a party of our Indians were at Cau-te-ga, who shot a man that was looking after his horse, for the sole purpose, as I was informed by my Indian brother, who was present, of commencing hostilities.

In May following, our Indians were in their first battle with the Americans; but at what place I am unable to determine. While they were absent at that time, my daughter Nancy was born....

Previous to the battle at Fort Stanwix, the British sent for the Indians to come and see them whip the rebels; and, at the same time stated that they did not wish to have them fight, but wanted to have them just sit down, smoke their pipes, and look on. Our Indians went, to a man; but contrary to their expectation, instead of smoking and looking on, they were obliged to fight for their lives, and in the end of the battle were completely beaten, with a great loss in killed and wounded. Our Indians alone had thirty-six killed, and a great number wounded. Our town exhibited a scene of real sorrow and distress, when our warriors returned and recounted their misfortunes, and stated the real loss they had sustained in the engagement. The mourning was excessive, and was expressed by the most doleful yells, shrieks, and bowlings, and by inimitable gesticulations.

During the revolution, my house was the home of Col's Butler and Brandt, whenever they chanced to come into our neighborhood as they passed to and from Fort Niagara, which was the seat of their military operations. Many and many a night I have pounded samp for them from sun-set till sun-rise, and furnished them with necessary provision and clean clothing for their journey.

For four or five years we sustained no loss in the war, except in the few who had been killed in distant battles; and our tribe, because of the remoteness of its situation from the enemy, felt secure from an attack. At length, in the fall of 1779, intelligence was received that a large and powerful army of the rebels, under the command of General Sullivan, was making rapid progress towards our settlement, burning and destroying the huts and corn-fields; killing the cattle, hogs and horses, and cutting down the fruit trees belonging to the Indians throughout the country.

Our Indians immediately became alarmed, and suffered every thing but death from fear that they should be taken by surprize, and totally destroyed at a single blow. But in order to prevent so great a catastrophe, they sent out a few spies who were to keep themselves at a short distance in front of the invading army, in order to watch its operations, and give information of its advances and success.

Sullivan arrived at Canandaigua Lake, and had finished his work of destruction there, and it was ascertained that he was about to march to our flats, when our Indians resolved to give him battle on the way and prevent, if possible, the distresses to which they knew we should be subjected, if he should succeed in reaching our town. Accordingly they sent all their women and children into the woods a little west of Little Beard's Town, in order that we might make a good retreat if it should be necessary, and then, well armed, set out to face the conquering enemy. The place which they fixed upon for their battle ground lay between Honeoy Creek and the head of Connessius Lake.

At length a scouting party from Sullivan's army arrived at the spot selected, when the Indians arose from their ambush with all the fierceness and terror that it was possible for them to exercise, and directly put the party upon a retreat. Two Oneida Indians were all the prisoners that were taken in that skirmish. One of them was a pilot of Gen. Sullivan, and had been very active in the war, rendering to the people of the states essential services. At the commencement of the revolution he had a brother older than himself, who resolved to join the British service, and endeavored by all the art that he was capable of using to persuade his brother to accompany him; but his arguments proved abortive. This went to the British, and that joined the American army. At this critical juncture they met, one in the capacity of a conqueror, the other in that of a prisoner; and as an Indian seldom forgets a countenance that he has seen, they recognized each other at sight. Envy and revenge glared in the features of the conquering savage, as he advanced to his brother (the prisoner) in all the haughtiness of Indian pride, heightened by a sense of power, and addressed him in the following manner:

"Brother, you have merited death! The hatchet or the war-club shall finish your career! When I begged of you to follow me in the fortunes of war, you was deaf to my cries you spurned my entreaties !

"Brother! you have merited death and shall have your deserts! When the rebels raised their hatchets to fight their good master, you sharpened your knife, you brightened your rifle and led on our foes to the fields of our fathers! You have merited death and shall die by our hands! When those rebels had drove us from the fields of our fathers to seek out new homes, it was you who could dare to step forth as their pilot, and conduct them even to the doors of our wigwams, to butcher our children and put us to death! No crime can be greater! But though you have merited death and shall die on this spot, my hands shall not be stained in the blood of a brother! Who will strike?"

Little Beard, who was standing by, as soon as the speech was ended, struck the prisoner on the head with his tomahawk, and despatched him at once!

Little Beard then informed the other Indian prisoner that as they were at war with the whites only, and not with the Indians, they would spare his life, and after a while give him his liberty in an honorable manner. The Oneida warrior, however, was jealous of Little Beard's fidelity; and suspecting that he should soon fall by his hands, watched for a favorable opportunity to make his escape; which he soon effected. Two Indians were leading him, one on each side, when he made a violent effort, threw them upon the ground, and run for his life towards where the main body of the American army was encamped. The Indians pursued him without success; but in their absence they fell in with a small detachment of Sullivan's men, with whom they had a short but severe skirmish, in which they killed a number of the enemy, took Capt. or Lieut. William Boyd and one private, prisoners, and brought them to Little Beard's Town, where they were soon after put to death in the most shocking and cruel manner. Little Beard, in this, as in all other scenes of cruelty that happened at his town, was master of ceremonies, and principal actor. Poor Boyd was stripped of his clothing, and then tied to a sapling, where the Indians menaced his life by throwing their tomahawks at the tree, directly over his head, brandishing their scalping knives around him in the most frightful manner, and accompanying their ceremonies with terrific shouts of joy. Having punished him sufficiently in this way, they made a small opening in his abdomen, took out an intestine, which they tied to the sapling, and then unbound him from the tree, and drove him round it till he had drawn out the whole of his intestines. He was then beheaded, his head was stuck upon a pole, and his body left on the ground unburied. Thus ended the life of poor William Boyd, who, it was said, had every appearance of being an active and enterprizing officer, of the first talents. The other prisoner was (if I remember distinctly) only beheaded and left near Boyd.

This tragedy being finished, our Indians again held a short council on the expediency of giving Sullivan battle, if he should continue to advance, and finally came to the conclusion that they were not strong enough to drive him, nor to prevent his taking possession of their fields: but that if it was possible they would escape with their own lives, preserve their families, and leave their possessions to be overrun by the invading army.

The women and children were then sent on still further towards Buffalo, to a large creek that was called by the Indians Catawba, accompanied by a part of the Indians, while the remainder secreted themselves in the woods back of Beard's Town, to watch the movements of the army.

At that time I had three children who went with me on foot, one who rode on horse back, and one whom I carried on my back.

Our corn was good that year; a part of which we had gathered and secured for winter.

In one or two days after the skirmish at Connissius lake, Sullivan and his army arrived at Genesee river, where they destroyed every article of the food kind that they could lay their hands on. A part of our corn they burnt, and threw the remainder into the river. They burnt our houses, killed what few cattle and horses they could find, destroyed our fruit trees, and left nothing but the bare soil and timber. But the Indians had eloped and were not to be found.

Having crossed and recrossed the river, and finished the work of destruction, the army marched off to the east. Our Indians saw them move off, but suspecting that it was Sullivan's intention to watch our return, and then to take us by surprize, resolved that the main body of our tribe should hunt where we then were, till Sullivan had gone so far that there would be no danger of his returning to molest us.

This being agreed to, we hunted continually till the Indians concluded that there could be no risk in our once more taking possession of our lands. Accordingly we all returned; but what were our feelings when we found that there was not a mouthful of any kind of sustenance left, not even enough to keep a child one day from perishing with hunger.

The weather by this time had become cold and stormy; and as we were destitute of houses and food too, I immediately resolved to take my children and look out for myself, without delay. With this intention I took two of my little ones on my back, bade the other three follow, and the same night arrived on the Gardow flats, where I have ever since resided.

At that time, two negroes, who had run away from their masters sometime before, were the only X inhabitants of those flats. They lived in a small cabin and had planted and raised a large field of corn, which they had not yet harvested. As they were in want of help to secure their crop, I hired to them to husk corn till the whole was harvested.

I have laughed a thousand times to myself when I have thought of the good old negro, who hired me, who fearing that I should get taken or injured by the Indians, stood by me constantly when I was husking, with a loaded gun in his hand, in order to keep off the enemy, and thereby lost as much labor of his own as he received from me, by paying good wages. I, however, was not displeased with his attention; for I knew that I should need all the corn that I could earn, even if I should husk the whole. I husked enough for them, to gain for myself, at every tenth string, one hundred strings "of ears, which were equal to twenty-five bushels of shelled corn. This seasonable supply made my family comfortable for samp and cakes through the succeeding winter, which was the most severe that I have witnessed since my remembrance. The snow fell about five feet deep, and remained so for a long time, and the weather was extremely cold; so much so indeed, that almost all the game upon which the Indians depended for subsistence, perished, and reduced them almost to a state of starvation through that and three or four succeeding years. When the snow melted in the spring, deer were found dead upon the ground in vast numbers; and other animals, of every description, perished from the cold also, and were found dead, in multitudes. Many of our people barely escaped with their lives, and some actually died of hunger and freezing.

See: James E. Seaver, The Life of Mary Jemison: The White Woman of the Genesee. 1824. New York.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Mary Jemison captured by Native Americans in the 1750s

Mary Jemison captured by Native Americans from the 1856 printing of The Life of Mary Jemison, Deh-He-Wa-Mis

Mary Jemison (Deh-he-wä-mis) (1743–1833) was probably about 15 years old, when she was captured & adopted by Seneca Indians during the French and Indian War. Jemison was 80 years old, when she told her story to James Seaver who wrote the narrative of the young English woman who chose to remain within the Indian culture which had adopted her.

The night was spent in gloomy forebodings. What the result of our captivity would be, it was out of our power to determine, or even imagine. At times, we could almost realize the approach of our masters to butcher and scalp us; again, we could nearly see the pile of wood kindled on which we were to be roasted; and then we would imagine ourselves at liberty, alone and defenseless in the forest, surrounded by wild beasts that were ready to devour us. The anxiety of our minds drove sleep from our eyelids; and it was with a dreadful hope and painful impatience that we waited for the morning to determine our fate.

The morning at length arrived, and our masters came early and let us out of the house, and gave the young man and boy to the French, who immediately took them away. Their fate I never learned, as I have not seen nor heard of them since.

I was now left alone in the fort, deprived of my former companions, and of every thing that was near or dear to me but life. But it was not long before I was in some measure relieved by the appearance of two pleasant looking squaws, of the Seneca tribe, who came and examined me attentively for a short time, and then went out. After a few minutes' absence, they returned in company with my former masters, who gave me to the squaws to dispose of as they pleased.

The Indians by whom I was taken were a party of Shawnees,* if I remember right, that lived, when at home, a long distance down the Ohio.

My former Indian masters and the two squaws were soon ready to leave the fort, and accordingly embarked -- the Indians in a large canoe, and the two squaws and myself in a small one-and went down the Ohio. When we set off, an Indian in the forward canoe took the scalps of my former friends, strung them on a pole that he placed upon his shoulder, and in that manner carried them, standing in the stern of the canoe directly before us, as we sailed down the river, to the town where the two squaws resided.

On the way we passed a Shawnee town, where I saw a number of heads, arms, legs, and other fragments of the bodies of some white people who had just been burned. The parts that remained were hanging on a pole, which was supported at each end by a crotch stuck in the ground, and were roasted or burnt black as a coal. The fire was yet burning; and the whole appearance afforded a spectacle so shocking that even to this day the blood almost curdles in my veins when I think of them.

At night we arrived at a small Seneca Indian town, at the mouth of a small river that was called by the Indians, in the Seneca language, She-nan-jee, about eighty miles by water from the fort, where the two squaws to whom I belonged resided. There we landed, and the Indians went on; which was the last I ever saw of them.

Having made fast to the shore, the squaws left me in the canoe while they went to their wigwam or house in the town, and returned with a suit of Indian clothing, all new, and very clean and nice. My clothes, though whole and good when I was taken, were now torn in pieces, so that I was almost naked. They first undressed me, and threw my rags into the river; then washed me clean and dressed me in the new suit they had just brought, in complete Indian style; and then led me home and seated me in the center of their wigwam.

I had been in that situation but a few minutes before all the squaws in the town came in to see me. I was soon surrounded by them, and they immediately set up a most dismal howling, crying bitterly, and wringing their hands in all the agonies of grief for a deceased relative.

Their tears flowed freely, and they exhibited all the signs of real mourning. At the commencement of this scene, one of their number began, in a voice somewhat between speaking and singing, to recite some words to the following purport, and continued the recitation till the ceremony was ended; the company at the same time varying the appearance of their countenances, gestures, and tone of voice, so as to correspond with the sentiments expressed by their leader.

"Oh, our brother! alas! he is dead-he has gone; he will never return! Friendless he died on the field of the slain, where his bones are yet lying unburied! Oh! who will not mourn his sad fate? No tears dropped around him: oh, no! No tears of his sisters were there! He fell in his prime, when his arm was most needed to keep us from danger! Alas! he has gone, and left us in sorrow, his loss to bewail! Oh, where is his spirit? His spirit went naked, and hungry it wanders, and thirsty and wounded, it groans to return! Oh, helpless and wretched, our brother has gone! No blanket nor food to nourish and warm him; nor candles to light him, nor weapons of war! Oh, none of those comforts had he! But well we remember his deeds! The deer he could take on the chase! The panther shrunk back at the sight of his strength! His enemies fell at his feet! He was brave and courageous in war! As the fawn, he was harmless; his friendship was ardent; his temper was gentle; his pity was great! Oh! our friend, our companion, is dead! Our brother, our brother! alas, he is gone! But why do we grieve for his loss? In the strength of a warrior, undaunted he left us, to fight by the side of the chiefs! His warwhoop was shrill! His rifle well aimed laid his enemies low: his tomahawk drank of their blood: and his knife flayed their scalps while yet covered with gore! And why do we mourn? Though he fell on the field of the slain, with glory he fell; and his spirit went up to the land of his fathers in war! They why do we mourn? With transports of joy, they received him, and fed him, and clothed him, and welcomed him there! Oh, friends, he is happy; then dry up your tears! His spirit has seen our distress, and sent us a helper whom with pleasure we greet. Deh-hew5-mis has come: then let us receive her with joy!-she is handsome and pleasant! Oh! she is our sister, and gladly we welcome her here. In the place of our brother she stands in our tribe. With care we will guard her from trouble; and may she be happy till her spirit shall leave us."

In the course of that ceremony, from mourning they became serene,-joy sparkled in their countenances, and they seemed to rejoice over me as over a long-lost child. I was made welcome among them as a sister to the two squaws before mentioned, and was called Deh-hew5-mis; which, being interpreted, signifies a pretty girl, a handsome girl, or a pleasant, good thing. That is the name by which I have ever since been called by the Indians.

I afterward learned that the ceremony I at that time passed through was that of adoption. The two squaws had lost a brother in Washington's war, sometime in the year before, and in consequence of his death went up to Fort Du Quesne on the day on which I arrived there, in order to receive a prisoner, or an enemy's scalp, to supply their loss. It is a custom of the Indians, when one of their number is slain or taken prisoner in battle, to give to the nearest relative of the dead or absent a prisoner, if they have chanced to take one; and if not, to give him the scalp of an enemy. On the return of the Indians from the conquest, which is always announced by peculiar shoutings, demonstrations of joy, and the exhibition of some trophy of victory, the mourners come forward and make their claims. If they receive a prisoner, it is at their option either to satiate their vengeance by taking his life in the most cruel manner they can conceive of, or to receive and adopt him into the family, in the place of him whom they have lost. All the prisoners that are taken in battle and carried to the encampment or town by the Indians are given to the bereaved families, till their number is good. And unless the mourners have but just received the news of their bereavement, and are under the operation of a paroxysm of grief, anger, or revenge; or, unless the prisoner is very old, sickly, or homely, they generally save them, and treat them kindly. But if their mental wound is fresh, their loss so great that they deem it irreparable, or if their prisoner or prisoners do not meet their approbation, no torture, let it be ever so cruel, seems sufficient to make them satisfaction. It is family and not national sacrifices among the Indians, that has given them an indelible stamp as barbarians, and identified their character with the idea which is generally formed of unfeeling ferocity and the most barbarous cruelty.

It was my happy lot to be accepted for adoption. At the time of the ceremony I was received by the two squaws to supply the place of their brother in the family; and I was ever considered and treated by them as a real sister, the same as though I had been born of their mother.

During the ceremony of my adoption, I sat motionless, nearly terrified to death at the appearance and actions of the company, expecting every moment to feel their vengeance, and suffer death on the spot. I was, however, happily disappointed; when at the close of the ceremony the company retired, and my sisters commenced employing every means for my consolation and comfort.

Being now settled and provided with a home, I was employed in nursing the children, and doing light work about the house. Occasionally, I was sent out with the Indian hunters, when they went but a short distance, to help them carry their game. My situation was easy; I had no particular hardships to endure. But still, the recollection of my parents, my brothers and sisters, my home, and my own captivity, destroyed my happiness, and made me constantly solitary, lonesome, and gloomy.

My sisters would not allow me to speak English in their hearing; but remembering the charge that my dear mother gave me at the time I left her, whenever I chanced to be alone I made a business of repeating my prayer, catechism, or something I had learned, in order that I might not forget my own language. By practicing in that way, I retained it till I came to Genesee flats, where I soon became acquainted with English people, with whom I have been almost daily in the habit of conversing.

My sisters were very diligent in teaching me their language; and to their great satisfaction, I soon learned so that I could understand it readily, and speak it fluently. I was very fortunate in falling into their hands; for they were kind, good-natured women; peaceable and mild in their dispositions; temperate and decent in their habits, and very tender and gentle toward me. I have great reason to respect them, though they have been dead a great number of years...

After the conclusion of the French war, our tribe had nothing to do till the commencement of the American Revolution. For twelve or fifteen years, the use of the implements of war was not known, nor the warwhoop heard, save on days of festivity, when the achievements of former times were commemorated in a kind of mimic warfare, in which the chiefs, and warriors displayed their prowess, and illustrated their former adroitness, by laying the ambuscade, surprising their enemies, and performing many accurate maneuvers with the tomahawk and scalping knife; thereby preserving, and banding to their children, the theory of Indian warfare. During that period they also pertinaciously observed the religious rites of their progenitors, by attending with the most scrupulous exactness, and a great degree of enthusiasm, to the sacrifices, at particular times, to appease the anger of the Evil Deity; or to excite the commiseration of the Great Good Spirit, whom they adored with reverence, as the author, governor, supporter, and disposer of every good thing of which they participated.

They also practiced in various athletic games, such as running, wrestling, leaping, and playing ball, with a view that their bodies might be more supple -- or, rather, that they might not become enervated, and that they might be enabled to make a proper selection of chiefs for the councils of the nation, and leaders for war.

While the Indians were thus engaged in their round of traditionary performances, with the addition of hunting, their women attended to agriculture, their families, and a few domestic concerns of small consequence and attended with but little labor.

No people can live more happy than the Indians did in times of peace, before the introduction of spiritous liquors among them. Their lives were a continual round of pleasures. Their wants were few, and easily satisfied, and their cares were only for to-day -- the bounds of their calculation for future comfort not extending to the incalculable uncertainties of to-morrow. If peace ever dwelt with men, it was in former times, in the recess from war, among what are now termed barbarians. The moral character of the Indians was (if I may be allowed the expression) uncontaminated. Their fidelity was perfect, and became proverbial. They were strictly honest; they despised deception and falsehood; and chastity was held in high 'veneration, and a violation of it was considered sacrilege. They were temperate in their desires, moderate in their passions, and candid and honorable in the expression of their sentiments, on every subject of importance.

Thus, at peace among themselves and with the neighboring whites -though there were none at that time very near- our Indians lived quietly and peaceably at home, till a little before the breaking out of the Revolutionary War...

Soon after the close of the Revolutionary War, my Indian brother, Kau-jises-tau-ge-au, (which being interpreted signifies Black Coals,) offered me my liberty, and told me that if it was my choice I might go to my friends.

My son Thomas was anxious that I should go; and offered to go with me, and assist me on the journey, by taking care of the younger children, and providing food as we traveled through the wilderness. But the chiefs of our tribe, suspecting, from his appearance, actions, and a few warlike exploits, that Thomas would be a great warrior, or a good counselor, refused to let him leave them on any account whatever.

To go myself, and leave him, was more than I felt able to do; for he had been kind to me, and was one on whom I placed great dependence. The chiefs refusing to let him go was one reason for my resolving to stay; but another, more powerful if possible, was, that I had got a large family of Indian children that I must take with me; and that, if I should be so fortunate as to find my relatives, they would despise them, if not myself, and treat us as enemies, or, at least, with a degree of cold indifference, which I thought I could not endure.

Accordingly, after I had duly considered the matter, I told my brother that it was my choice to stay and spend the remainder of my days with my Indian friends, and live with my family as I hitherto had done. He appeared well pleased with my resolution, and informed me that, as that was my choice, I should have a piece of land that I could call my own, where I could live unmolested, and have something at my decease to leave for the benefit of my children.

See: James E. Seaver, The Life of Mary Jemison: The White Woman of the Genesee. 1824. New York.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Sarah Osborn's Revolutionay War Service


Sarah Osborn (c 1754-1854) of Albany, New York, married blacksmith Aaron Osborn in 1780. He re-enlisted in the Third New York Regiment of the Continental forces as a commissary sergeant & asked Sarah to come with him. She worked as a washerwoman & cook for the troops. She spent about 3 years in the military, during which time she had 2 children, Phoebe & Aaron, Jr.

She was in New Windsor on February 20th, 1783, when the army was disbanded. Her husband Aaron left her at New Windsor. Without benefit of divorce, he married Polly Sloat. Sarah confirmed the remarriage of her husband and returned to her home in Blooming Grove, Orange County, New York, where she married John Benjamin.

After John Benjamin's death, in November 1837, at the age of 81, she was awarded a pension as Osborn's widow. She received a pension of $88 a year & remained on the pension rolls for 27 years

...after deponent had married said [Aaron] Osborn, he informed her that he was returned during the war, and that he desired deponent to go with him. Deponent declined until she was informed by Captain Gregg that her husband should be put on the commissary guard, and that she should have the means of conveyance either in a wagon or on horseback. That deponent then in the same winter season in sleighs accompanied her husband and the forces under command of Captain Gregg on the east side of the Hudson river to Fishkill, then crossed the river and went down to West Point. There remained till the river opened in the spring, when they returned to Albany. Captain Gregg’s company was along, and she thinks Captain Parsons, Lieutenant Forman, and Colonel Van Schaick, but is not positive.

Deponent, accompanied by her said husband and the same forces, returned during the same season to West Point. Deponent recollects no other females in company but the wife of Lieutenant Forman and of Sergeant Lamberson...

Deponent further says that she and her husband remained at West Point till the departure of the army for the South, a term of perhaps one year and a half, but she cannot be positive as to the length of time. While at West Point, deponent lived at Lieutenant Foot’s, who kept a boardinghouse. Deponent was employed in washing and sewing for the soldiers. Her said husband was employed about the camp...

When the army were about to leave West Point and go south, they crossed over the river to Robinson’s Farms and remained there for a length of time to induce the belief, as deponent understood, that they were going to take up quarters there, whereas they recrossed the river in the nighttime into the Jerseys and traveled all night in a direct course for Philadelphia. Deponent was part of the time on horseback and part of the time in a wagon. Deponent’s said husband was still serving as one of the commissary’s guard...

They continued their march to Philadelphia, deponent on horseback through the streets, and arrived at a place towards the Schuylkill where the British had burnt some houses, where they encamped for the afternoon and night. Being out of bread, deponent was employed in baking the afternoon and evening. Deponent recollects no females but Sergeant Lamberson’s and Lieutenant Forman’s wives and a colored woman by the name of Letta. The Quaker ladies who came round urged deponent to stay, but her said husband said, “No, he could not leave her behind.” Accordingly, next day they continued their march from day to day till they arrived at Baltimore, where deponent and her said husband and the forces under command of General Clinton, Captain Gregg, and several other officers, all of whom she does not recollect, embarked on board a vessel and sailed down the Chesapeake...

They continued sail until they had got up the St. James River as far as the tide would carry them, about twelve miles from the mouth, and then landed, and the tide being spent, they had a fine time catching sea lobsters, which they ate.

They, however, marched immediately for a place called Williamsburg, as she thinks, deponent alternately on horseback and on foot. There arrived, they remained two days till the army all came in by land and then marched for Yorktown, or Little York as it was then called. The York troops were posted at the right, the Connecticut troops next, and the French to the left. In about one day or less than a day, they reached the place of encampment about one mile from Yorktown. Deponent was on foot and the other females above named and her said husband still on the commissary’s guard...

Deponent took her stand just back of the American tents, say about a mile from the town, and busied herself washing, mending, and cooking for the soldiers, in which she was assisted by the other females; some men washed their own clothing. She heard the roar of the artillery for a number of days, and the last night the Americans threw up entrenchments, it was a misty, foggy night, rather wet but not rainy. Every soldier threw up for himself, as she understood, and she afterwards saw and went into the entrenchments. Deponent’s said husband was there throwing up entrenchments, and deponent cooked and carried in beef, and bread, and coffee to the soldiers in the entrenchment.

On one occasion when deponent was thus employed carrying in provisions, she met General Washington, who asked her if she “was not afraid of the cannonballs?”

She replied, “No, the bullets would not cheat the gallows,” that “It would not do for the men to fight and starve too.”

They dug entrenchments nearer and nearer to Yorktown every night or two till the last. While digging that, the enemy fired very heavy till about nine o’clock next morning, then stopped, and the drums from the enemy beat excessively. Deponent was a little way off in Colonel Van Schaick’s or the officers' marquee and a number of officers were present, among whom was Captain Gregg, who, on account of infirmities, did not go out much to do duty.

The drums continued beating, and all at once the officers hurrahed and swung their hats, and deponent asked them, “What is the matter now?”

One of them replied, “Are not you soldier enough to know what it means?”

Deponent replied, “No.”

They then replied, “The British have surrendered.”

Deponent, having provisions ready, carried the same down to the entrenchments that morning, and four of the soldiers whom she was in the habit of cooking for ate their breakfasts.

Deponent stood on one side of the road and the American officers upon the other side when the British officers came out of the town and rode up to the American officers and delivered up [their swords, which the deponent] thinks were returned again, and the British officers rode right on before the army, who marched out beating and playing a melancholy tune, their drums covered with black handkerchiefs and their fifes with black ribbands tied around them, into an old field and there grounded their arms and then returned into town again to await their destiny.

Deponent recollects seeing a great many American officers, some on horseback and some on foot, but cannot call them all by name. Washington, Lafayette, and Clinton were among the number. The British general at the head of the army was a large, portly man, full face, and the tears rolled down his cheeks as he passed along. She does not recollect his name, but it was not Cornwallis. She saw the latter afterwards and noticed his being a man of diminutive appearance and having cross eyes...

After two or three days, deponent and her husband, Captain Gregg, and others who were sick or complaining embarked on board a vessel from Yorktown, not the same they came down in, and set sail up the Chesapeake Bay and continued to the Head of Elk, where they landed. The main body of the army remained behind but came on soon afterwards. Deponent and her husband proceeded with the commissary’s teams from the Head of Elk, leaving Philadelphia to the right, and continued day after day till they arrived at Pompton Plains in New Jersey. Deponent does not recollect the county. They were joined by the main body of the army under General Clinton’s command, and they set down for winter quarters. Deponent and her husband lived a part of the time in a tent made of logs but covered with cloth, and a part of the time at a Mr. Manuel’s near Pompton Meetinghouse. She busied herself during the winter in cooking and sewing as usual. Her said husband was on duty among the rest of the army and held the station of corporal from the time he left West Point.

In the opening of spring, they marched to West Point and remained there during the summer, her said husband still with her. In the fall they came up a little back of New-burgh to a place called New Windsor and put up huts on Ellis’s lands and again sat down for winter quarters, her said husband still along and on duty. The York troops and Connecticut troops were there. In the following spring or autumn they were all discharged. Deponent and her said husband remained in New Windsor in a log house built by the army until the spring following. Some of the soldiers boarded at their house and worked round among the farmers, as did her said husband also.

Deponent and her said husband spent certainly more than three years in the service, for she recollects a part of one winter at West Point and the whole of another winter there, another winter at Pompton Plains, and another at New Windsor. And her husband was the whole time under the command of Captain Gregg as an enlisted soldier holding the station of corporal to the best of her knowledge.

In the winter before the army were disbanded at New Windsor, on the twentieth of February, deponent had a child by the name of Phebe Osborn, of whom the said Aaron Osborn was the father. A year and five months afterwards, on the ninth day of August at the same place, she had another child by the name of Aaron Osborn, Jr., of whom the said husband was the father...

About three months after the birth of her last child, Aaron Osborn, Jr., she last saw her said husband, who then left her at New Windsor and never returned. He had been absent at intervals before this from deponent, and at one time deponent understood he was married again to a girl by the name of Polly Sloat above Newburgh about fifteen or sixteen miles.

Deponent got a horse and rode up to inquire into the truth of the story. She arrived at the girl’s father’s and there found her said husband, and Polly Sloat, and her parents. Deponent was kindly treated by the inmates of the house but ascertained for a truth that her husband was married to said girl. After remaining overnight, deponent determined to return home and abandon her said husband forever, as she found he had conducted in such a way as to leave no hope of reclaiming him. About two weeks afterwards, her said husband came to see deponent in New Windsor and offered to take deponent and her children to the northward, but deponent declined going, under a firm belief that he would conduct no better, and her said husband the same night absconded with two others, crossed the river at Newburgh, and she never saw him afterwards. This was about a year and a half after his discharge...

After deponent was thus left by Osborn, she removed from New Windsor to Blooming Grove, Orange County, New York, about fifty years ago, where she had been born and brought up, and, having married Mr. Benjamin...she continued to reside there perhaps thirty-five years, when she and her husband Benjamin removed to Pleasant Mount, Wayne County, Pennsylvania, and there she has resided to this day. Her said husband, John Benjamin, died there ten years ago last April, from which time she has continued to be and is now a widow.

Source: Sarah Osborn’s 1837 application for Revolutionary War pension, Record Group 15, Records of the Veterans Administration, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

For more information on army camp followers see:
Walter Hart Blumenthal, Women Camp Followers of the American Revolution (New York, 1974)

Barton C. Hacker, “Women and Military Institutions in Early Modern Europe: A Reconnaissance,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, vol. 6, no. 4 (Summer 1981), 643-671.

Paul E. Kopperman, “Medical Services in the British Army, 1742-1783,” Journal of the History of Medicine (October 1979), 428-455.

Charlotte Brown, “The Journal of Charlotte Brown, Matron of the General Hospital, with the English Forces in America, 1754-1756,” in Isabel M. Calder, Colonial Captivities, Marches and Journeys (Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, Inc., 1935).

Mary M. Crawford, ed., “Mrs. Lydia B. Bacon’s Journal, 1811-1812,” Indiana Magazine of History, vol. 40 (Dec. 1944).

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1990)
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Friday, July 9, 2021

Quaker Women Preachers in 1753 North Carolina

by David Cecelski, August 11, 1018

Mary Peisley was a Quaker missionary from Ireland, who visited North Carolina's remote back roads & Indian paths in 1753-54 with her compnion Catherine Phillips. Together the two women explored the Carolina backcountry, followed the Cape Fear River to Wilmington & traveled north to the old Quaker meetings above the Albemarle Sound.

Mary Peisley wrote about the trials of traveling in the colony. “We rode two days & an half, & lay two nights in the woods, without being under the roof of a house,” she wrote at one point.

Elsewhere she recalled that they experienced “abundant hardships & sufferings of body” & often found “lodging in the woods in cold frosty weather, on damp grounds with bad firing.”

Yet, in a letter to an uncle, she also described the tranquility that she sometimes found in those hard circumstances. “I have sat down by a brook in the woods, eat my Indian-corn bread, & drank water out of a calabash, with more content & peace of mind than many who were served in plate, & at night have slept contentedly in my riding clothes, on a bed hard enough to make my bones ache, & the house so open on every side as to admit plenty of light & air.“

She wrote to her uncle, “I have compared my passage through these woods, to my pilgrimage through the world, & indeed in some things it bears a just resemblance; the path we rode through was exceeding narrow, & sometimes so closed as not to see a footstep before me, caught by boughs on one hand & bushes on the other, obliged to stoop very low, lest my head should be hurt or eyes pulled out: this I compare to the entangling things of the present world, which are ready to catch the affections on every side & blind the eyes of the soul.”

In that letter to her uncle, Peisley talked of astonishment at the degree of sickness & illness in the Carolina backcountry. “I do not remember that we have been in a house or family since we left Charleston, but one or more were ill of a fever or ague, so that it seems like an universal contagion which has overspread the inhabitants of this quarter.“

Often times the local religious meetings disappointed Peisley, but she & Phillips also preached at gatherings that lifted her spirits above the cold & illness around her.

After a meeting by the Neuse River, for instance, she wrote, “we had a large & comfortable meeting, in which I thought it might be truly said the Lord’s power was over all, & that even devilish spirits were made subject to that power, by which we were assisted to speak.”

As they rode from one Quaker meeting to the next, Mary Peisley remembered, they “were often kindly entertained, according to their ability, at the houses of these not of our society.” In her letters & journals, she expressed gratitude to those non-Quakers who gave them supper or took them in for a night’s lodging.

“Sometimes,” though, she wrote, “at our first entrance they would look strangely at us, because they understood not the lawfulness of women’s preaching, having never heard any.”

They stood out as women ministers, but they also were out of the ordinary, of course, because they were unmarried women & not traveling in the company of a husband, father, brother or son. “Thus did we pass for a sign & wonder,” Peisley wrote.

Though unaccustomed to women ministers, the local people had grown used to seeing other kinds of women traveling in the colony on their own.

In Some Account of the Life, Peisley recalled: “Some would say, when invited to a Quaker meeting, that we were women who ran from our own country for some ill act.” But the roadside inhabitants of colonial North Carolina took the women into their homes anyway.

She knew that they were unfamiliar with the role of women in early Quakerism. She also understood that they were “not …  acquainted with the supernatural power of love, which had influenced our hearts, nor the rules & discipline of friends.“

According to Peisley, many of those who greeted them so warily eventually even proved willing to listen to their Quaker teachings. “Through divine favour,” she wrote, “I have not heard of any of them who went away dissatisfied…”

See: Mary Peisley Neale's Some Account of the Life & Religious Exercises of Mary Neale, formerly Mary Peisley (Dublin, 1795) gives a view of their journey. Also from her journals & letters, her widowed husband, Samuel Neale, published the volume in Dublin in 1795.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Elizabeth Ashbridge (1713–1755) Sails to America & Becomes a Quaker


English-born Elizabeth Ashbridge (1713–1755) eloped at age 14 & was a widow 5 months later. Rejected by her family, she sailed for New York in 1732.

Forced to sign an indenture to pay for her passage, she worked as a house servant in conditions that "would make the most strong heart pity the Misfortunes of a young creature as I was." After 3 years she bought out the remainder of her contract supporting herself as a seamstress.

In New York, she married a man who was frequently violently drunk & who despised the Quaker religion. From New York, Elizabeth traveled to Philadelphia to visit relatives, and her husband followed.

When I came to Trent-town Ferry, I felt no small mortification on hearing that my relations were all Quakers, and, what was worst of all, that my aunt was a preacher. I was exceedingly prejudiced against this people, and often wondered how they could call themselves Christians.

I repented my coming, and was almost inclined to turn back; yet, as I was so far on my journey, I proceeded, though I expected but little comfort from my visit, How little was I aware it would bring me to the knowledge of the truth!

I went from Trent-town to Philadelphia by water, and from thence to my uncle’s on horseback. My uncle was dead, and my aunt married again; yet, both she and her husband received me in the kindest manner. I had scarcely been three hours in the house, before my opinion of these people began to alter.

I perceived a book lying upon the table, and, being fond of reading, took it up; my aunt observed me, and said, “Cousin, that is a Quaker’s book.” She saw I was not a Quaker, and supposed I would not like it. I made her no answer, but queried with myself, what can these people write about? I have heard that they deny the scriptures, and have no other bible than George Fox’s Journal,— denying, also, all the holy ordinances.

But, before I had read two pages, my heart burned within me, and, for fear I should be seen, I went into the garden. 1 sat down, and, as the piece was short, read it before I returned, though I was often obliged to stop to give vent to my tears. The fulness of my heart produced the involuntary exclamation of,

“My God, must I, if ever I come to the knowledge of thy truth, be of this man’s opinion, who has sought thee as I have done; and must I join this people, to whom, a few hours ago, I preferred the papists. O, thou God of my salvation, and of my life; who hath abundantly manifested thy long suffering and tender mercy, in redeeming me as from the lowest hell, I beseech thee to direct use in the right way, and keep me from error; so will I perform my covenant, and think nothing too near to part with for thy name’s sake. O, happy peoples thus beloved of God!”

Alter having collected myself, I washed my face, that it might not be perceived I had been weeping. In the night I got but little sleep; the enemy of mankind haunted me with his insinuations, by suggesting that I was one of those that wavered, and not steadfast in faith; and advancing several texts of scripture against me, as that, in the latter days, there should be those who would deceive the very elect; that of such were the people I was among, and that I was in danger of being deluded.

Warned in this manner, (from the right source as I thought,) I resolved to be aware of those deceivers, and for some weeks did not touch one of their books. The next day, being the first of the week, I was desirous of going to church, which was distant about four miles; but being a stranger, and having no one to go with me, I gave up all thoughts of that and, as most of the family were going to meeting, I went there with them.

As we sat in silence, I looked over the meeting, and said to myself, “How like fools these people sit; how much better would it be to stay at home, and read the Bible, or some good book, than come here and go to sleep.” As for me I was very drowsy; and, while asleep, had nearly fallen down. This was the last time I ever fell asleep in a meeting. I now began to be lifted up with spiritual pride, and to think myself better than they; but this disposition of mind did not last long.

It may seem strange that, after living so long with one of this society at Dublin, I should yet be so much a stranger to them. In answer, let it be considered that, while I was there, I never read any of their books nor went to one meeting; besides, I had heard such accounts of them, as made me think that, of all societies, they were the worst. But he who knows the sincerity of the heart, looked on my weakness with pity; I was permitted to see my error, and shown that these were the people I ought to join.

A few weeks afterwards, there was an afternoon meeting at my uncle’s, at which a minister named William Hammans was present. I was highly prejudiced against him when he stood up, but I was soon humbled; for he preached the gospel with such power that I was obliged to confess it was the truth. But, though he was the instrument of assisting me out of many doubts, my mind was not wholly freed from them.

The morning before this meeting I had been disputing with my uncle about baptisms which was the subject handled by this minister, who removed all my scruples beyond objection, and yet I seemed loath to believe that the sermon I had heard proceeded from divine revelation. I accused my aunt and uncle of having spoken of me to the friend; but they cleared themselves, by telling me, that they had not seen him, since my coming, until he came into the meeting.

I then viewed him as the messenger of God to me, and, laying aside my prejudices, opened; the beauty of which was shown to me, with the glory of those who continued faithful to it. I had also revealed to me the emptiness of all shadows and types, which, though proper in their day, were now, by the coming of the Son of God, at an end, and everlasting righteousness, which is a work in the heart, was to be established in the room thereof, I was permitted to see that all I had gone through was to prepare me for this day; and that the time was near, when it would be required of me, to go and declare to others what the God of mercy had done for my soul; at which I was surprised, and desired to be excused lest I should bring dishonour, to the truth, and cause his holy name to be evil spoken of.

Of these things I let no one know. I feared discovery and did not even appear like a friend.

I now hired to keep school, and, hearing of a place for my husband, I wrote, and desired him to come, though I did not let him know how it was with me.

I loved to go to meetings, but did not love to be seen going on weekdays, and therefore went to them. from my school, through the woods. Notwithstanding all my care, the neighbours, (who were not friends,) soon began to revile me with the name of Quaker; adding, that they supposed I intended to be a fool, and turn preacher.

Thus did I receive the same censure, which, about a year before, I had passed on one of the handmaids of the Lord in Boston. I was so weak, that I could not bear the reproach. In order to change their opinion, I went into greater excess of apparel than I had freedom to do, even before I became acquainted with friends. In this condition I continued till my husband came, and then began the trial of my faith.

Before he reached me, he heard I was turned Quaker; at which he stamped, and said, “I had rather have heard she was dead, Well as I love her; for, if it be so, all my comfort is gone.” He then came to me; it was after an absence of four months; I got up and said to him, “My dear, I am glad to see thee.”

At this, he flew into a great rage, exclaiming, “The devil thee, thee, thee, don’t thee me.” I endeavoured, by every mild means, to pacify him; and, at length, got him fit to speak to my relations. As soon after this as we were alone, he said to me, “And so I see your Quaker relations have made you one” I replied, that they had not, (which was true,) I never told them how it was with me.

He said he would not stay amongst them; and, having found a place to his mind, hired, and came directly back to fetch me, walking in one afternoon, thirty miles to keep me from meeting the next day, which was first day. He took me, after resting this day, to the place where he had hired, and to lodgings he had engaged: at the house of a churchwarden. This man was a bitter enemy of Friends, and did all he could to irritate my husband against them.

Though I did not appear like a Friend, they all believed me to be one. When my husband and he used to be making their diversions and reviling, I sat in silence, though now and then an involuntary sigh broke from me; at which he would say, “There, did not I tell you your wife was a Quaker, and she will become a preacher.”

On such an occasion as this, my husband once came up to me, in a great rage, and shaking his hand over me, said, “You had better be hanged in that day.” I was seized with horror, and again plunged into despair, which continued nearly three months. I was afraid that, by denying the Lord, the heavens would be shut against me.

I walked much alone in the woods, and there, where no eye saw, or ear heard me, lamented my miserable condition. Often have I wandered, from morning till night, without food, I was brought so low that my life became a burden to me; and the devil seemed to vaunt that, though the sins of my youth were forgiven me, yet now I had committed an unpardonable sin, and hell would inevitably be my portion, and my torments would be greater than if I had hanged myself at first.

In the night, when, under this painful distress of mind, I could not sleep, if my husband perceived me weeping, he would revile me for it. At length, when he and his friend thought themselves too weak to overset me, he went to the priest at Chester, to inquire what he could do with me.

This man knew I was a member of the Church, for I had shown him my certificate. His advice was, to take me out of Pennsylvania, and settle in some place where there were no Quakers. My husband replied, he did not care where we went, if he could but restore me to my natural liveliness of temper.

As for me, I had no resolution to oppose their proposals nor much cared where I went. I seemed to have nothing to hope for. I daily expected to be made a victim of divine wrath, and was possessed with the idea that this would be by thunder.

When the time of removal came, I was not permitted to bid my relations farewell; and, as my husband was poor, and kept no horse, I was obliged to travel on foot.

We came to Wilmington, fifteen miles, and from thence to Philadelphia by water. Here we stopt at a tavern, where I became the spectacle and discourse of the company. My husband told them his wife had become a Quaker; and he designed, if possible, to find out a place where there was none: (thought I,) I was once in a condition to deserve that name, but now it is over with me. O that I might, from a true hope, once more have an opportunity to confess the truth; though I was sure of all manner of cruelties, I would not regard them.

Such were my concerns, while he was entertaining the company with my story, in which he told them that I had been a good dancer, but now he could get me neither to dance or sing. One of the company then started up and said, “I’ll fetch a fiddle, and we’ll have a good dance;” a proposal with which my husband was pleased.

When the fiddle was brought, my husband came and said to me, “My dear, shake off that gloom, and let us have a civil dance; you would, now and then, when you were a good churchwoman, and that’s better than a stiff Quaker,”

I had taken up the resolution not to comply with his request, whatever might be the consequence; this I let him know, though I durst say little, for fear of his choleric temper. He pulled me round the room, till the tears fell from my eyes, at the sight of which the musician stopt, and said “I’ll play no more; let your wife alone...”

Finding that all the means he had yet used could not alter my resolutions, he several times struck me with severe blows. I endeavoured to bear all with patience, believing that the time would come when he would see I was in the right.

Once he came up to me, took out his penknife, and said, “If you offer to go to meeting to-morrow, with this knife I’ll cripple you; for you shall not be a Quaker.” I made hint no answer. In the morning, I set out as usual; he did not attempt to harm me.

Having despaired of recovering me himself, he fled, for help, to the priest, whom he told, that I had been a very religious woman, in the way of the Church of England, of which I was a member, and had a good certificate from Long Island; that I was now bewitched, and had turned Quaker, which almost broke his heart; and, therefore, he desired that, as he was one who had the cure of souls, he would come and pay me a visit, and use his endeavours to reclaim me, which he hoped, by the blessing of God, would be done.

The priest consented, and fixed the time for his coming, which was that day two weeks, as he said he could not come sooner. My husband came home extremely pleased, and told me of it. I replied, with a smile, I trusted I should be enabled to give a reason for the hope within me; yet I believed, at the same time, that the priest would never trouble himself about me, which proved to be the case.

Before the day he appointed came, it was required of me, in a more public manner, to confess to the world what I was. I felt myself called to give up to prayer in meeting. I trembled, and would freely have given up my life to be excused. What rendered the required service harder on me was, that I was not yet taken under the care of friends; and was kept from requesting to be so, for fear I should bring a scandal on the society. I begged to be excused till I had joined, and then I would give up freely.

The answer was, “I am a covenant-keeping God, and the word that I spake to thee, when I found thee in distress, even that I would never forsake thee, if thou wouldst be obedient to what I should make known unto thee, I will assuredly make good. If thou refusest, my spirit shall not always strive. Fear not, I will make way for thee through all thy difficulties, which shall be many, for my name’s sake; but, be faithful, and I will give thee a crown of life.” To this language I answered “Thy will, O God, be done; I am in thy hand, do with me according to thy word;” and I then prayed.

This day, as usual, I had gone to meeting on foot. While my husband (as he afterwards told me) was lying on the bed, these words crossed his mind “Lord, where shall I fly to shun thee,” &c. upon which he arose, and, seeing it rain, got the horse and set off to fetch me, arriving just as the meeting broke up.

I got on horseback as quickly as possible, lest he should hear I had been speaking; he did hear of it nevertheless, and, as soon as we were in the woods, began with saying, “Why do you mean thus to make my life unhappy? What, could you not be a Quaker, without turning fool in this manner?”

I answered in tears, “My dear, look on me with pity, if thou hast any; canst thou think that I, in the bloom of my days, would bear all that thou knowest of, and much that thou knowest not of, if I did not feel it my duty.” These words touched him, and he said, “Well, I’ll e’en give you up; I see it wont avail to strive; if it be of God I cannot overthrow it; and, if of yourself, it will soon fall.” I saw the tears stand in his eyes, at which I was overcome with joy, and began already to reap the fruits of my obedience. But my trials were not yet over...

One night in a drunken stupor her husband enlisted himself in the army and was soon called to serve, which he refused claiming his Quaker religion as the reason why. This resulted in a horrific beating that hospitalized & killed him within a year.

Five years later Elizabeth married a third husband, his name Aaron Ashbridge. Aaron was a well-known & respected member within the Quaker community in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Source: Elizabeth Ashbridge, Some Account of the Early Part of the Life of Elizabeth Ashbridge (Philadelphia: H. and T. Kite, 1807).