Wednesday, July 29, 2020

A Company of Women July 29, 2020

 SAR Compatriot:Eugen Foley

I’m very fortunate to have a large percentage of my ancestors having come to America before the Revolution.  What that means, of course, is that I have a lot of potential supplemental SAR entries.  And to scare our registrar even more, my children’s mother comes from a family that has even more patriots from her line than there are in mine.  I estimate that my three sons can claim more than fifty Patriots.

That being said, I find it especially interesting to find a potential patriot that qualifies for reasons other than serving in the military or signing an oath of fidelity.  Since my wife has been telling her family (including spouses of her relatives) that I will do the initial research on their lines, there is a never-ending flow of opportunities to find the oft overlooked qualifying patriots. 

That’s how I found the Stillwell sisters of Beesley’s Point in Cape May, New Jersey, cousins in my wife’s line, both of whom had a significant impact in Southern New Jersey.  Just doing a quick web search will reveal many women who played significant roles in the fight for our independence.  Some, like Molly Pitcher, whose name was Mary Ludwig Hays, immediately come to mind, but there are so many more…many of whom are well documented, but not recognized for their sacrifices and contributions.

One of the ways that women participated as soldiers was to dress and act like men, like Deborah Sampson.  But I’d like to highlight one particular instance, in which only three women were named in the record of that period, but an entire female company was formed for the defense of their community.

In that instance, the able bodied men had mobilized to defend in a nearby community, leaving their own homes unprotected.  The women had become aware, as a result of having heard a discussion among loyalist family members, that a spy would be coming through their village.  The women assembled, elected Prudence Cummings Wright as Captain, dressed in the men’s clothes, scraped up whatever weapons their men had left behind, and assembled along the main road.  They caught the spy, chased off the loyalist family members, and passed the retrieved information to the patriots, foiling the British plans.  Though there was no protocol to compensate them, as would have been the case for militia men, a special provision was made to pay them for their military service after the war ended.

So, don’t just look to see if the men, were patriots!  Look at what the women were doing!