Sunday, December 11, 2011

LESSER KNOWN DAUGHTERS OF LIBERTY, PART FOUR

Dear Reader,
   If you would like to start with Part One, click here:





Dicey Springfield Marker


Dear Reader,
This series of entries is about some lesser known Daughters of Liberty.  It is unlikely that you have heard about most of them.  They were common women who stood up for something they believed in.  They made sacrifices so that other people could share and enjoy their belief.


Laodicea Langston Springfield
Dicey Langston was born on 14 May 1766 in North Carolina.  Her father, Solomon, who was a patriot, moved his family to a rural part of South Carolina that was mostly populated by Tories.  One day when Dicey was sixteen years old, she overheard that a group of loyalists were going to attack a nearby settlement of patriots.  Her brother James lived in the settlement.  That night, Dicey walked the twenty miles to the settlement to warn her brother and the other settlers of what was going to happen.  She crossed streams and marshes in the dark, and a swollen river.  She got to her brother’s house before dawn and told of the visit that Bloody Bill Cunningham and his scouts were going to make.  When the scouts arrived, later that morning, they found the settlement was empty of colonials. 
On another occasion, loyalists gathered to attack Solomon Langston in his home, despite his being an old man incapable of resisting them.  When one of the invaders pointed a handgun at Solomon, Dicey is alleged to have jumped between her father and the muzzle of the pistol.  She refused to move despite being told to do so.  A standoff ensued and ended in the loyalists leaving.  Solomon was still alive. 
Laodicea Springfield died 23 May 1837 in Traveler's Rest, Greenville Co., South Carolina


Margaret Catherine Moore Barry
Kate Moore was born in 1752, and married Andrew Barry in 1767.  The two settled in Spartanburg County South Carolina.  When the Revolutionary War began, Kate became a scout for the local patriot forces.  She apparently was a good horsewoman, knew the countryside, and was unafraid of Royal Army soldiers.  Late in the war, in 1781, when Lord Cornwallis was trying to defeat General Greene so the Royal Army could march into North Carolina, Cornwallis sent Lieutenant Colonel Bannister Tarleton to attack General Morgan and the patriots at Ninety-Six South Carolina.  General Morgan moved from the area, so there was no battle.  However, the two opposing sides were not far apart and there would soon be a battle, unless one side or the other retreated.
General Morgan had to continue moving north or his militiamen would become trapped between the forces of Lord Cornwallis and Lt. Col. Tarleton.  This made it difficult for General Morgan to stop and recruit local militiamen into his army.  Kate Barry rode the area near and far for several days.  She found several militia units and directed them on to where they could find General Morgan.  On 17 January 1781, the Battle of Cowpens was fought and won by the patriot forces.  It cannot be said that the battle would have necessarily been lost without the efforts of Kate Barry, but certainly her actions before the battle were part of the victory.


Anna Smith Strong
Nancy (then a common nickname for ‘Anne’) did signal work for the Culper Spy Ring on Long Island during the Revolutionary War.  Her husband, Selah, had been a local judge until 1778, when he was jailed on a prison ship in New York Harbor for corresponding with the enemy (patriots).  Thereafter Nancy lived alone.  She apparently used her clothesline as a telegraph.  If she hung a black petticoat on the line, then a meeting between two certain messengers was arranged.  The number of handkerchiefs also hung on the line designated the meeting place.
Nancy somehow gained permission to send food to Selah, aboard the prison ship, which had to have helped keep him alive.  She is said to have gotten him released by begging for loyalist relatives to intervene with the Royal Army.  (Selah took the three children to live in Connecticut; Nancy stayed behind to maintain a physical claim on their home, which was occupied by military officers.)
Both Nancy and Selah survived the war.  She died in 1812 and he went in 1815.  Both are buried in a family plot on Long Island.


Rebecca Stillwell Willets
Not much is known about this daughter of liberty.  She served in the revolution for only a single morning.
Rebecca Stillwell was born in Cape May County, New Jersey in 1750 (or about).  She married James Willets in 1768 somewhere in Cape May County.  He purchased (or already had) property at the local Beesley’s Point.  During the Revolutionary War, privateers used the point for offloading goods they had captured from English merchantmen.  The goods were stored near by.  (Smugglers had to have used Beesley’s Point before the war for its utility to be known.) 
One day, during the war, Mrs. Willets was alone in her home.  For some reason, she looked out to sea through a telescope.  The ship she saw making its way to Beesley’s Point was an English warship.  Then she saw the ship anchored and a ship’s boat put over the side.  Sailors in the boat began to row for shore.  Mrs. Willets realized they had to be coming for the supplies captured by the privateers.   
In another one of the amazing coincidences in the Revolutionary War, there was a cannon outside of the Willets home.   It was loaded with grapeshot.  The powder box had been filled and there was a fuse stuck in it.  Rebecca stepped up onto the stage of history and waited for the ship’s boat to get close to shore.  When it was within range, so the story goes, she lit the fuse, which touched off the powder, and a few pounds of grapeshot hurtled through the air at the English rowboat.  History has it that the grapeshot passed over the heads of the men in the boat, so there were no casualties.  However, the rowboat was stopped in its approach to shore and turned around.  The sailors likely wanted nothing to do with any more grapeshot.  They rowed back to their ship.
The supplies taken by American privateers from English merchantmen were saved.
Rebecca Stillwell Willets thereafter disappeared on the other side of the stage of history. 




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