Figures of Colonial History
Madaleine de Vercheres
Madeleine de Vecheres (1678-1747) who is best known for her role in the defense of Fort Vercheres at the young age of 14 in New France in 1692. She is remembered as a military heroine, and her image became part of efforts to encourage Canadian women’s participation for wartime work during not only the first but the second world war. Her bravery although not well known is an inspiration still to look fear in the face and say, “You don’t scare me!“
Penelope Barker (1728-1796) a loyal patriot or some would even say an activist of the American Revolution. She organized the famous Edenton Tea Party where they then boycotted the use of British goods. This was the first recorded women’s political demonstration in America. She was a picture of standing up for what you believe in and having a party for it in the process.
Martha Washington (1731-1802) was not only the lovely wife of President George Washington but through marriage became our very first, first lady. When you think of the saying to be a jack of all trades Martha Washington’s name should be one that comes to mind. She not only helped manage her husband’s estates and raise her children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, but she spent half of the Revolutionary War at the front. She was an incredible woman to know and remember.
Paul Revere (1735-1818) was best known for his midnight ride in 1775 where he alerted the colonial militia of the coming British troops before the battles of Lexington and Concord. Some may have believed that he shouted the famous line, “ The British are coming! “ but his ride was conducted in a very discreet manner. Paul Revere was a loyal Patriot who you’d want on your team in the heat and planning of a battle.
King George III
George III (1738-1820) was the third Hanoverian monarch but was the first one to be born in England and use English as his first language. Although he was a good natured person he didn’t make the best king. He was best known for losing the American colonies and then later going mad. Despite George III having his faults he could never be accused of making life boring.
Be on the lookout for the redcoats under his command!
Prudence Cumming Wright
Prudence Cummings Wright (1740-1824) was a militia commander during the Revolutionary War. In 1775 the legendary “ Prudence Wright Guard '' was formed of about 30-40 women who planned to intimidate the coming Redcoats while guarding Jewett's bridge over the Nashua River. They were very successful in their efforts because they not only intimidated the British but they captured multiple soldiers, and stopped important dispatches that consisted of information about troop movements. She inspired the women around her to do more than they ever thought they could. She would be a great person to have dinner with if you were asked the question,
“Who would you like to have dinner with, dead or alive?”
Abigail Adams (1744-1818) was our first second lady as well as our second first lady through marriage to resident John Adams. She was also the mother of future President John Quincy Adams. Her spread sheet of achievements is not a short one. She was a founder of the United States as well as her husband’s closest advisor regarding government and politics. She is most remembered for the countless letters they wrote back and forth to each other about these matters. Her family was made up of quite a few household names and hers isn't any less great.
Betsy Ross (1752-1836) became a patriotic icon in the late 19th century when stories surfaced that she had sewn the first “stars and stripes” U.S. flag or our beautiful red, white, and blue banner of America in 1776. Though that story is likely untrue although known far and wide, Ross is known to have sewn flags during the Revolutionary War. She was the woman that you’d want to be sewing your clothes in the morning.
Molly Pitcher (1754-1832) was also known by the name Mary Ludwig Hays. The nickname Molly Pitcher was given to her by the soldiers at the Battle of Monmouth in 1778 because she carried water with her to give to both the artillerymen and soldiers in her husband’s battery. However, she did more than just carry water. When her husband was wounded in battle she then took over her husband;s cannon for the remainder of the battle. Talk about going into fight or flight mode with a fight mindset.
Sybil Ludington (1761-1839) was another young heroine of the Revolutionary War. She was the daughter of colonel Henry Ludington and at only 16 years old in 1777 she was said to have embarked on an all-night ride that consisted of about 40 miles. She did this because she was going to rally militia forces in neighboring towns to come together after the burning of Danbury, Connecticut. Although the legitimacy of this account is questioned due to the little proof found it does not stop the fact that this young heroine proved to young and old that age is just a number when it comes to doing something right.
Ellen Wallace Sharples
Ellen Wallace Sharples (1769-1849) was a painter born in England and an immigrant to the United States. Her husband was her only known artistic trainer, and she excelled in pastels and watercolor painting. They worked together, and Ellen was incredibly skilled at making miniature portraits on commission. No matter who you went to for your portrait, the prices were the same.
Dolley Madison (1768-1849) was a socialite and quite a popular popular First Lady. She was best known for her social graces, one of which she invited members of two opposing political parties. While her husband was President, and the country was in the midst of the war of 1812, she kept the Presidential portrait of George Washington safe from the British who still saw him as a traitor. Dolley’s social graces remained intact no matter the surrounding turmoil.
Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809) an American explorer, who along with William Clark, led the Lewis and Clark Expedition through the unknown interior of the United States to the Pacific Northwest. During the expedition Lewis worked as the field scientist, recording data on plants, animals, weather, geography, and culture. By mapping the river networks and fur resources in the West, the co-commanders helped the American fur trade advance. They interacted with Indian leaders, traded goods, gave speeches, asked Indian delegations to visit Washington, and had talks about trade, friendship, and peace. After the voyage was over, Jefferson named Lewis governor of the Territory of Upper Louisiana.
(Our Meriwether is often seen with Betsy Ross)
John Chapman (1774-1845) known as Johnny Appleseed was a businessman in the 18th century who supplied apple seedlings for sale for roughly six to seven cents each. By providing apple-tree nursery stock across the Midwest, it aided in paving the way for 19th-century pioneers. Planting apple trees helped settlers get their land claim recognized by the government because an orchard showed that they intended to stay there permanently. A number of apple orchards were planted by Johnny Appleseed, thousands of seedlings were sold or given away to settlers, whose acres of fruitful apple orchards served as a living tribute to Chapman.
(Also Mr. Chapman is named after this legend of a man)
Lucretia Mott (1793-1880) was a leading proponent of abolishing slavery and a feminist activist. She committed her life to speaking out against racial and gender injustice and was a skilled speaker. She was a member of William Lloyd Garrison’s American Slavery Society and helped form the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Association. Women speaking in public was not widely supported.
Although frequently receiving criticism for acting in a manner that was unsuitable for a woman, Mott did not let it discourage her. Her and her husband protested against the Fugitive Slave Act and assisted an enslaved individual in escaping bondage. Mott was elected the American Equal Rights Association's first president in 1866. Committed to advancing all aspects of human freedom, and spent her entire life contributing significantly to the women suffrage campaign.
Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), a freed slave, rose to prominence in the nineteenth century as a vocal supporter of abolition, and women's and civil rights. She is known as being an evangelist, abolitionist, women’s rights activist and author. One of Truth's contributions to the abolitionist cause was her stirring speech at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention in 1851 on equal rights for Black women. Twelve years later, Frances Gage, the Convention's president printed on Truth's remarks in the National Anti-Slavery Standard.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), the 16th president of the United States, who oversaw the liberation of slaves in the country and helped to keep the Union together during the American Civil War. He grew up in a log cabin, and made his way all the way to the White House. During his time in office, he strengthened the Republican Party to become a powerful national force. He also persuaded the majority of northern Democrats to support the Union. He announced the freedom of all slaves within the Confederacy on January 1, 1863, in the Emancipation Proclamation.
Louisa May Alcott
Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) an American author best known for writing children's novels, including the timeless Little Women. Once the American Civil War started, she volunteered to work as a nurse. Her first recognition came when her letters were collected in the book Hospital Sketches, which was published. Alcott's pieces started to appear in The Atlantic Monthly. After writing the autobiographical Little Women it became an immediate success. Little Women tells the domestic tales of a New England family with little finances but an upbeat attitude, which was based on the author's memories of her own childhood. Little Women painted a realistic but admirable portrait of family life that young readers could easily relate to. Alcott's writings for young readers continue to be widely read.
Billy the Kid
William H. Bonney, Jr., known as Billy the Kid (1859-1881) was one of the most infamous gunfighters in the American West and was an American outlaw. Early in his adolescence, Billy developed a career in theft and lawlessness. After being apprehended, tried and found guilty for murder in 1881, he was given the death penalty. He escaped jail however, and remained at large until he was tracked down and found. He’s an Old West legend renowned for his deeds of theft and murder while roaming with a band in the uncharted Western areas.
Annie Oakley (1860-1926) was a markswoman renowned for rising to fame in a sport that was dominated by men and became famous all around the world for her sharpshooting. Her and her marksman husband, Frank E. Butler would tour the country to display her rifle skills, she toured Spain, Italy and France and performed for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in England. She was given the nickname “Little Sure Shot” and was part of the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show for sixteen years. Throughout her career, Oakley demonstrated to people all over the world that women were capable of handling firearms and could even outshoot men.
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) grew up in a settler and pioneer family who had no lack of adventures. She would go on to publish the Little House on the Prairie series of children’s books based on her childhood. The stories of a family moving around celebrating the independent American spirit became wildly popular, and was even made into television series in the 1970’s.