Saturday, February 17, 2018

Bringing Historic Homes to Life: The Plympton House

Welcome to the Plympton House.
Have I some tales to tell you!
The Daggett Farm House and the Giddings House - - both are colonial homes once belonging to folks who lived during the time of the founding of our country,  and each structure is now located inside historic Greenfield Village,  the open-air museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
For Daggett and Giddings I've done pretty extensive research on not only the houses, but the people who lived in them as well;  at the bottom of this posting are links to each.
Now it's time to dig deep into the past for another of the 18th century homes inside the walls of Greenfield Village:  the Plympton House. 
And what treasured information I dug up!
All I can say is  "Wow...the walls do talk!" - - - and I believe you will agree.

~   ~   ~

Tales of a Wayside Inn is a collection of poems by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  The book,  published in 1863,  depicts a group of people at the Wayside Inn in Sudbury,  Massachusetts,  as each tells a story in the form of a poem  (this is the same book that carries the infamous verse  "Paul Revere's Ride,"  by the way).
The prelude itself evokes an imagery of the past through the written word penned so eloquently:

One Autumn night,  in Sudbury town,
Across the meadows bare and brown,
The windows of the wayside inn
Gleamed red with fire-light through the leaves
Of woodbine,  hanging from the eaves
Their crimson curtains rent and thin.

As ancient is this hostelry
As any in the land may be,
Built in the old Colonial day,
When men lived in a grander way,
With ampler hospitality...

Now,  let's see how Tales of the Wayside Inn ties in with the Plympton House,  which now sits inside Greenfield Village,  off to the side,  back from the road,  almost unnoticeable as a historical home...and,  though many people tend to pass it by without a thought,  this little red house holds some amazing history - history that begins nearly a century before the United States declared Independence from King George III.
Let's listen to what the walls have to tell us - - - -
Here is the front of the Plympton House.
No,  this is not the original structure that Thomas Plympton built 

in the mid-1600s, though the fireplace and chimney are.  Rather, 
it is the second home of the Plymptons,  built in the early 1700s.
As it stands currently,  upon entering the visitor will hear a recording automatically begin to play...some singing initially,  then a dinner conversation, the voices almost like ghosts as we listen in on a family planning their day...a day three hundred years ago.
Unfortunately,  other than the very basic overview written on the placard out in front of the building,  this is all we get for the historic Plympton House.  Now,  mind you,  I do enjoy the recording very much,  but there is so much more to the story here.
So,  I decided to delve deeper into the ghosts of Plympton past and see what I could coerce out of the walls of this,  the oldest American structure inside Greenfield Village.
These walls talk---are you listening to their stories?
What I found was a story that was waiting to be told,  of people who deserve to be remembered.
To begin with,  we must learn a little about the first of the Plymptons in this line to make it to these shores from England before we get into the roots of the structure now standing inside the walls of Greenfield Village.  You see,  Thomas Plympton was a founding father of the Puritan settlement of Sudbury,  Massachusetts,  but before he came to America,  he lived in Penton,  England,  where he was apprenticed as a carpenter to Peter Noyes.  In 1638,  before Thomas had time to complete his apprenticeship term,  Mr.  Noyes set sail for America,  bringing along his two children and three servants.  After settling in Sudbury and establishing a plantation,  Noyes went back to England,  returning shortly after with more servants and more children,  including daughter Abigail. 
So we can safely assume that Plympton was in Sudbury by 1639 where he continued his apprenticeship to Mr.  Noyes until his time was completed. 
It was not long after that he married Abigail Noyes,  the daughter of his former master,  and the two eventually,  over a thirteen year period,  had seven children:  Abigail  (b. 1653),  Jane  (b. 1655),  Mary  (b. 1656),  Elizabeth  (b. 1658),  Thomas  (b. 1661),  Dorothy  (b. 1664),  and Peter  (b. 1666).  It's been said that because of his carpentry skills,  Thomas helped to erect many of the buildings in the growing town of Sudbury,  including a new meeting house in 1652.  Over this same time-frame Thomas acquired land,  including five acres of meadow from his father-in-law in 1649.  In fact,  he eventually became quite the landowner,  and so did his descendants.  But it's land he was granted in 1658 that interested me the most,  for,  from what I can gather in my research,  it's on this property that the Plympton Home,  now situated in Greenfield Village,  was eventually built.  Lands to the north of the property was owned by a Thomas Goodnow while acreage to the south belonged to John Hains.  I cannot find what was to the east,  but the west was bounded by the wilderness.
The decimation during King Phillip's War
All was good and fine until the year 1676,  during the time of King Phillip's War.  King Philip's War was an armed conflict between American Indian inhabitants of New England versus the New England colonists and their Indian allies in 1675–78.  The war was the single greatest calamity to occur in seventeenth-century Puritan New England and is considered by many to be the deadliest war in the history of European settlement in North America in proportion to the population.  In the space of little more than a year,  12 of the region's towns were destroyed and many more damaged,  the colony's economy was all but ruined,  and its population was decimated,  losing one-tenth of all men available for military service.  More than half of New England's towns were attacked by Indians.
From information garnered from a broadsheet dated April 17,  1676:
Early in the morning of this day,  Mr. Thomas Plympton started from the garrison near the river with a team to remove the affects of a Mr.  Boon who with his son resided near Boons pond in Pampsiticut.  Returning they were fired upon by the Indians at a place now called Boons plain near the western line of Sudbury.  Boon and his son were killed on the spot.  Their bodies were found some days after near the cart,  stript nearly naked and scalped.  Mr. Plympton was found in the bushes,  some distance from them neither stript nor scalped.  The oxen returned the same day about noon.  Mr.  Plympton was probably somewhat in advance of his companions and loosed the cattle from the cart,  on the first alarm,  and received mortal wound in his flight and was not found by the Indians.

After this horrendous murder,  we hear very little from the surviving Plymptons,  aside from the division of lands equally between the two sons,  Thomas and Peter,  after widow Abigail died around twenty years after.  Both sons,  like their father,  also dealt in real estate,  with town records showing multiple land transactions.  Thomas (jr)  and Peter also are prominent in the affairs of Sudbury,  with Thomas appointed a surveyor and Peter a constable  (similar to our modern day policeman).
Digging deeper in our research we find a deed from Thomas to brother Peter transferring,  for 500 pounds,  his dwelling house with barn,  orchard,  "broke-up land & unbroke-up land,"  meadow,  and all his lands in Sudbury.  Likewise all of his cattle,  horses,  and all manner of estate except his arms and one horse.
Peter was now the sole possessor of all the Plympton land and homestead until he died in 1743.
Now,  we know that the original house of the 1st Thomas Plympton burned down in the early 1700's,  but I am not sure when the newer structure was completed,  though we can safely assume it was probably shortly after the first house burned,  for, according to the placard in Greenfield Village,  this also took place in the early 1700s.  And we also know that it was built around the brick chimney and hearth from the first home. 
And this is the house that is now sitting inside the walls of Greenfield Village.
In 1748,  five years after her father Peter's death,  daughter Abigail Plympton Smith  (wife of Elijah Smith),  transferred to her brother,  yet another Thomas  (the 3rd),  130 acres of land.
This grandson Thomas,  who was born in 1723  (his father Peter married late in life),  was also prominent in town affairs,  as well as a soldier during the American Revolutionary War.  It was this Thomas that received the news of the beginning of that War for Independence on the morning of April 19,  1775:
Quickly! I must see Master Plympton!
I have news of great importance concerning
the Regulars heading to Concord!
"An express came from Concord to Thomas Plympton Esq.,  who was then a member of the Provincial Congress in that the British were on their way to Concord - between 4 and 5 o'clock in the morning.  The sexton was immediately called on the bell ringing and the discharge of Musket which was to give the alarm.  By sunrise the greatest part of the inhabitants were notified.  The morning was remarkably fine and the inhabitants of Sudbury never can make such an important appearance probably again."
Even historical author,  David Hackett Fischer,  wrote about it in his acclaimed book,  "Paul Revere's Ride:"
(Abel Prescott)  went to the home of Thomas Plympton,  the leading Whig in Sudbury,  and the town's alarm bell began to ring about 3:30 or 4:00 o'clock in the morning.  Warning guns were fired to summon militia companies on the west side of the Sudbury River and also in East Sudbury,  now Wayland.   Within thirty-five minutes the entire town of Sudbury had been awakened
In researching this event of that April night in 1775,  I have learned that Abel Prescott was the brother of Samuel Prescott,  who was one of the warning riders that rode with none other than Paul Revere and William Dawes!
This third Thomas also had a Revolutionary War son,  and his name was Ebenezer Plympton. Ebenezer,  the great grandson of the 1st Thomas,  grandson of Peter,  and son of Peter's son Thomas,  continued to serve his town as his ancestors had before him,  for he was a Deacon as well as the town Magistrate  (the judge of a police court)  of Sudbury.  And,  like his own father,  Ebenezer Plympton was also involved in the Revolutionary War.  In fact,  he is listed on the muster roll as a private in Captain Aaron Haynes'  Company of Militia  (North Militia 1775)  which was part of an Alarm Company that marched to Cambridge by Concord during the Lexington Alarm on the nineteenth of April,  1775.  He was also part of Captain Asahel Wheeler's company in 1777.
In other words,  this little red Plympton House sitting inside Greenfield Village has direct connections to not only the Revolutionary War itself,  but to the very beginnings of it:  the Battle of Lexington & Concord,  as well as to Paul Revere.  It truly is a special part of American history!
(Giddings House,  sitting across the street in Greenfield Village,  also has Revolutionary War connections.  Click the link at the bottom of this post to read about that).

The Plympton House as it stood upon 
the land where it was originally built.

From the Collections of the Henry Ford
As often as I have been inside the Plympton House,  I never really gave much of a thought as to how or why Henry Ford connected with this particular building.  But research is a marvelous thing.  You see,  there is a neat story behind this little red house that I never knew before:  Ezekiel Howe was the third successive landlord of the infamous Wayside Inn mentioned at the beginning of this post.  Thomas Plympton and Ezekiel Howe,  it is said,  were good friends,  and it was Howe that received the news of the Lexington Alarm in 1775 from Plympton before anyone else in that town.  But it was in 1785,  when Thomas,  for whatever reason,  decided that it was time for the Plympton land - land that had been in the family for over a century - to be sold;  the time of the ownership of the Plympton house and land had come to a close.  And it was Howe who was interested and became the purchaser of the property.  The Plympton/Howe land,  including the house,  was sold again a number of years later to Mr.  Wheeler,  and then eventually becoming the property of the Carr family.  And it's this family that sold the house to Henry Ford. 
Now,  how does all this tie into the interest of Henry Ford?

Well,  when Henry Ford purchased the Wayside Inn in 1923,  he envisioned transforming the old Colonial Inn into a living museum of American history,  an interest that predates the development of both Colonial Williamsburg and his own Greenfield Village.  Pursuing his vision to create a living museum of Americana that would be the first of its kind in the country,  Ford purchased 3,000 acres of property surrounding the Inn,  added eight new buildings to the site,  and collected antiquities for display purposes.  Included in the purchase was lost Howe family property. 
Did you see that?  "included lost Howe family property" - - could it be...?
Digging deeper into my research,  I looked under a file folder heading in the Benson Ford Research Center called "IN-HOUSE NAME FILE WITH SUBJECTS FILING SYSTEM SERIES, 1950-1952," and it's there we find a notation that simply states  'Plympton House on Wayside Inn estate.' 
To add to that,  in the wonderful book entitled  'A History of Longfellow's Wayside Inn,'  there is a note that explains in good detail how Henry Ford not only restored the Wayside Inn itself,  but numerous other buildings on the property surrounding the inn that he purchased, including  "one house,  the circa 1700 Plympton House on Dutton Road,  (which was)  disassembled and moved to Greenfield Village."
So there we have it!
Imagine that!  A historical connection to the Revolutionary War/Battle of Lexington & Concord,  and also to the infamous Wayside Inn!  Now you can see why today's posting began with the Longfellow poem.

Now,  when Henry Ford was creating his Greenfield Village in the late 1920s and early 1930s,  it was Edward Cutler,  his draftsman and architect,  who he closely worked with in not only the lay out of the Village,  but the dismantling and rebuilding of the historic homes brought there.  Each structure, before being dismantled,  would have pictures taken,  sketches made,  and every piece numbered as it was taken down to help in the reassembly and restoration after being shipped to Dearborn.
However,  Cutler stated that the Plympton home was torn down before he even got to the job,  so he had to do what he could to ensure it would be rebuilt properly.  "After it was torn down,  I measured up the foundations and got the line up of the thing.  Because it was torn down and shipped here in a bunch,  there were no drawings.  I think Taylor tried to make some,  but they were a mess;  you couldn't make anything out of them."
Methinks Ed Cutler did a fine job rebuilding and restoring the 
beautiful ancient American structure, don't you?
I collect the old original Greenfield Village guidebooks,  and the earliest that I could find any sort of a listing for the Plympton House is from the one printed in 1941,  and though the Cotswold Cottage,  brought over from England,  is the oldest structure in the Village  (from 1620),  the Plympton House is considered to be the oldest American home there.

This well-preserved primitive two-roomed structure  (one room above the other),  with its simple sheath covering of walls and a low,  open ceiling with a central  "summer"  beam,  reflects the typical colonial architecture of the earliest period of New England,  and the furnishings show the simplicity of home life of these early times.
Do you know what a  “summer Beam”  is?
A Summer Beam has been defined as a major and usually massive horizontal timber.  It is the epitome of  ‘load-bearing’  and is derived from the word  ‘sommier,’  which is French for  “beast of burden.”  
This makes sense,  since it is carrying the burden of the structure above it.  This term has been used since the fourteenth century,  and even back then referred to the massive beams that one can see in the center of the ceiling of each room.
I believe we see a small portion of the summer beam in the upper 
right corner, though I could be wrong. When I make it back out 
there I will make a point to look for it.
1640 front chimney bricks
above the hearth
A particular note of interest are the front bricks of the chimney directly above the hearth.  When the first Thomas Plympton house burned down and this one was erected to replace it,  it was built around the only part of the original home that survived the fire:  the brick fireplace and chimney.  As Henry Ford's chief architect,  Ed Cutler,  mentioned upon tearing it down to be shipped to Greenfield Village:  "They were all little old hand-made bricks.  Of course,  to an ordinary person,  a brick is a brick,  but these were little hand-made things and were crooked as the dickens,  and we built the fireplace of them.
There were four of them that had markings on them.  I think one was 1640, and the other was W.X.P. 
In erecting the fireplace,  I put those thing s (the marked bricks)  right in the front so they could be seen.  That was not quite like the original,  but we wanted those bricks to be the center of interest."

Sketch from the Collections of the Henry Ford
An unusual feature in this home is the convenient inside covered well,  seen to the left of the ladder.  Most wells,  during this period in time,  were outside the home.  Mr.  Cutler said,  "Of course,  we put the well on the inside of the building,  like it was originally.  We dug a well there.  We brought all the stone we could get for it.  Everything was brought here that we could get down there on the job."
I am certain the convenience of an indoor well in the 18th century would be akin to first installing indoor plumbing in the 20th century.  Whereas wells would freeze up during the bitter cold Massachusetts winters,  I am guessing this indoor well just may not have.  Now,  just imagine not having to go out doors in the cold winter,  with a yoke over your shoulders,  to bring in water from the well. 
The ladder for the second floor, and there, under the box, 
is the well.

In the wintertime, when all the leaves are gone and 
the wind blows...
As you can see,  the Plympton House is simply made,  incorporating the kitchen and living quarters within four walls.  The ladder is for the 2nd floor sleeping accommodations,  usually for the kids.  With the low ceiling and large hearth you can bet wintertime wasn't nearly as cold as perhaps the Daggett Farm,  where they most likely sealed off  (as best they could)  all but one room during the cold weather months.
One can imagine visiting the Plymptons in the mid-1700s,  and Mistress Ruth Plympton,  wife of Thomas  (grandson of immigrant Thomas),  invites her visitors to sit on the settle near the fireplace.
The settle
(photo by Darrin Green)
(The settle,  which is little more than a bench,  is very narrow and not very comfortable,  but the high wooden back shelters the guests from the icy drafts that seep into the room).

Colonial cooking,  which made a veritable feast from basic ingredients,  was dominated by fireplace technology;  it was the massive fireplace that was the center of it all.  And,  of course,  all of the necessary cooking tools to go with it:  "A nest of iron pots of different sizes,  a long iron fork to take out articles from boiling water,  an iron hook with a handle to lift pots from the crane,  a large and small gridiron with grooved bars and a trench to catch the grease,  a dutch oven  (or bake pan),  two skillets of different sizes,  a skimmer,  skewers,  a toasting iron,  two tea kettles - one small and one large,  a spider  (or flat skillet)  for frying,  a griddle,  a waffle iron,  tin and iron bake and bread pans,  two ladles of different sizes,  two brass kettles of different sizes for soap boiling, &c." (From Miss Catherine Beecher).
Before the everyone went off to their beds,  Mistress Plympton 
might scoop hot ashes and embers from the fireplace into the 
brass bedwarmer hanging there at the hearth,  and would have 
passed it between the sheets of the beds to make them less biting 
cold.  This move must be done quickly otherwise it can scorch 
the sheets.
Then Master Plympton would bank the fire carefully so that it will burn slowly all night long.  In the morning,  he or Mistress would blow lightly to encourage a new flame.  If the fire should go out,  one of the children would have to go to one of their neighbor's to borrow hot embers.  Since there were no matches at this time,  it could sometimes take a half hour or longer to light a new fire with flint and tinder.
Just in case you are wondering about the original antiques 
situated inside this home,  on the left we have a blanket chest from 
1680 to 1700.  Next, on the back wall,  there is a hutch  (with no 
year given).  In front of the hutch is the settle  (no year given),  and 
the walking wheel.  The table is known as a hutch table,  and three 
of the chairs are called Carver and the one in back is called 
a slat-back.

Again,  from left, this first item looks to be a chest of drawers, but I could be mistaken. 
The tall storage cupboard is next,  
neither of which I know the year built.

For this next picture I peeked through the opposite window to see the inside of the house from a different angle.
That plexi-glass!
Although this beautiful representation of an early colonial home is open for visitors to enter,  it is plexi-glassed off which can make it difficult to photograph the inside of the structure.

Here is also the exterior of the house from an angle most visitors don't see.
Sometimes to see the back of a house can help to give another 
accurate perspective,  especially from a house in an 
agrarian society with most of the farming taking place in the 
back fields.

It is my understanding that,  because the Daggett Farm and the Giddings House are being used as representations of colonial living by way of costumed presenters,  the plexi-glass and push-button recording will remain in the Plympton Home.
No matter,  for just to be able to step into such a house that has so much history within its walls should be enough to please any historian.  And,  as always,  it is my hope that the reader,  upon their next visit to Greenfield Village,  will remember the words and information herein,  and will take a little more time to open the door of this little red house and engulf themselves in its past.
There's a whole lot of history here.
Well, I must return to my duties.  Thank you for visiting.
I do hope to see you again.

Until next time, see you in time.

To learn more on how our colonial ancestors lived, please click the following links:
In the Good Old Colony Days
A concise pictorial to everyday life in America's colonies  

Colonial Cooking: On the Hearth
A post dedicated solely to colonial-era kitchen and cooking - lots of pictures!

Travel and Taverns
To help you understand what it was like to travel and stay at a tavern in colonial times.  

Lighting in colonial times
The candle light at it's brightest

April 19, 1775, As Seen Through the Eyes & Quills of Those Who Were There
A primary source primer of that fate-filled day that was the beginning of the United States becoming independent. This will give you a better idea of what it was like for Ebenezer Plympton when he went to fight the British Regular army.

And here are more links to Greenfield Village structures that I've written about: 
The Daggett House
The Giddings House
The Noah Webster House
The Ackley Covered Bridge
The Eagle Tavern
The Firestone Farm
The Richart Carriage Shop
Doc Howard's Office - Tales of a 19th century circuit-riding doctor

~Many thanks must go to the Benson Ford Research Center. There is such a wealth of information there!
I also received information about Abel Prescott from THIS site

For those of you that have never been to Greenfield Village, you should plan a trip there. If you are a lover of history, especially American history, this should be on your bucket list. Though the Henry Ford Museum is open year-round, Greenfield Village is open mainly from mid-April through November, with a special Christmas program throughout the month of December.
To do it right as a one-time out of town visitor, you will need a minimum of two days...possibly three.
Visit my Facebook page dedicated to Greenfield Village and my friends page dedicated to the Henry Ford Museum

~   ~   ~

Friday, February 2, 2018

Sarah & Rachel: The Wives of Paul Revere

~We hear very frequently that women in history often do not get their just due for all they have done in regards to our Nation's country.  I hope today's posting will help...even a little... ~

Portraying a famous person in history means learning as much about them as you possibly can.  And that's exactly what I've been trying to do since I began interpreting as Paul Revere.  Paul Revere does not have the library of biographies that Benjamin Franklin,  George Washington,  Thomas Jefferson,  or even Abraham Lincoln have,  and that can be a plus and  a minus.
The plus:  since there's not nearly as much information available on Revere in comparison to the most popular of the Founding Fathers,  it makes it a little easier for me to do my presenting of the man since many/most of the minor details are not there.
The minus:  there's not nearly the information to add to my interpreting. that Sarah...
or is it Rachel with Paul Revere?
So,  I have to up my research and dig deeper into the life of the man who helped to spur on the beginning of the Revolutionary War.  Now,  one of the things that's been brought up of late is that,  besides Abigail Adams,  Martha Washington,  or even Dolley Madison,  not too much is known about the women behind the men of the founding generation. However,  please remember that,  besides living in a different era,   the people of this time also lived in a very different environment than our own,  and therefore,  as much as it may frustrate us,  they just did not keep too many records of the  'mundane life'  of the everyday person,  including women  (and most men).  But let's be thankful that we are now in our day and age,  and many of us are digging and scraping to collect whatever biographical bits we can locate to rectify the situation as best as we are able.  So rather than be angry,  which will serve little to no purpose,  let's channel that energy and continue the research on those who we no longer consider to be mundane and move forward from here,  and give the more well-rounded lesson on both the men and the women of Revolutionary times.
With that being said,  I present to you,  as best as I can with what information is available,  Sarah and Rachel Revere.
(By the way, unless otherwise noted,  whatever you see in italics was taken directly from author Esther Forbes'  wonderfully descriptive book Paul Revere & The World He Lived In.  She wrote this in such a manner that it truly does live up to its title.  Since everyday life in the past is what I am all about, I simply  'lifted'  the parts that tended to bring the Revere wives to life,  for I felt it best to keep it as the author's own).

Little is known of Sarah Orne, who was born April 2,  1736.  But through the tiny bits of information we have of her,  we can only do our best to peer into her life as the young wife of  Paul Revere.   
Let's begin with Esther Forbes giving us a possible glimpse on the dating rituals of Paul and Sarah:
He may have taken this girl  (Sarah Orne)  rowing on the harbor,  and,  after a picnic on one of the islands,  lain for hours,  silent, with his head in her lap,  as did other young courting men of the period.  Sarah Orne may have first guessed his devotion when she noticed how,  during Sabbath Meeting,  his eyes sought hers and never the Reverend Ebenezer Pemberton's.  And there he would be afterwards,  waiting to walk home with her.

Whether Paul & Sarah reacted by way of plenty of frolics during which an old English roughness of manner and courting customs came to the top,  or by the more traditional method of exchanging glances in meeting,  we may never find out,  but it is known that the two were wed on the 4th of August,  1757. 
The marriage of Paul Revere and Sarah Orne from 1757
In the family Bible,  her husband wrote her name down as  'Sary,'  so we can assume this is what he must have called her.
Paul took his young bride home to his mother's house where he assumed responsibility for his mother and younger sisters,  a new wife,  and the apprenticeship of his younger brother Thomas.  Here was his shop and his father's tools.  Here his means of livelihood.  Young brides were not often asked whether they liked living with their mothers-in-law or not.  They were adaptable...and humble  (by modern standards).  On April 3rd of the following year,  Sarah was brought to bed of a daughter  (named Deborah after Mrs. Revere),  and this first child was followed by seven more over the next fifteen years – seven daughters and a son,  Paul Jr.,  who followed in his father’s silversmithing profession.
The Paul Revere that  'Sary'  knew
(Painted by Copley 1768)
In February 1770,  Paul Revere and his family were living in a newly purchased home,  which proved ideal for Revere’s growing family and his widowed mother Deborah.
Unfortunately,  virtually nothing else is found on Sarah Revere,  nor her life experiences in the Revere household as her husband played out his role in the Sons of Liberty.  We can assume she was not unlike her contemporaries and spent most of her time between caring for her children - teaching her daughters the art of 18th century womanhood and  'playing doctor'  when one was ill - and being surrounded by the kitchen walls,  continuously making a meal for her family.  (Please click the links at the bottom of this posting to learn more details in greater depth of everyday life in colonial times)~

I found this next moment rather poignant only because it helps us to understand another part of the mindset of one who lived in the 18th century as well as to put a bit more meat/flesh on the bones of the  'mythical'  Paul Revere and his household.
First we must understand that,  for women who lived during the Revolutionary War period,  death during childbirth was a real possibility.  According to THIS site,  about 1200 deaths occurred out of every 100,000 pregnancies/childbirths in the 1700s  (compare that to 15 out of 100,000 today): 
It was on the fifteenth of April,  1772 and Sarah was in labor,  about to give birth to her eighth child.  The midwife was called.  The younger children sent for a night or two to relatives.  The midwife would be in command  (no matter who else was in the room with her),  ordering hot water or warm flannels,  reverting to such primitive beliefs as that a knife under the bed cuts pain,  or if the delivery was hard one can speed matters by opening doors and windows,  unlocking every chest and cupboard in the house.  The only thing that can be said for those old women was the vast amount of experience they had.  If it was the mid-wife’s opinion that this child would be the death of its mother,  she would not hesitate to say so.  The morale of the patient was not much considered and it was thought important that the seriously sick be given as long as possible to make their peace  (and to prepare to meet their maker).
The tombstone of Sarah Revere
Courtesy of Find A Grave
Sarah lived through the spring.  (Newborn daughter)  Isanna was,  doubtless,  one of those weakly babies,  frail and complaining from birth,  born without the wish to live.  It would be hard to leave the other children motherless.  Deborah,  the oldest,  was only fifteen.  Nor would the thought necessarily comfort her that Paul might  (like your average widower)  quickly find another younger,  less worn woman to carry on the burdens she now has to relinquish.  Her place at the table,  her pew in church,  her half of the broad bed would be quickly filled.  Another would care for the children she had brought forth in sorrow and travail---as the Bible said.
Sarah Orne Revere died on the third of May, 1773. 
Paul Revere selected for his wife a type of stone at the moment in great fashion.  It has the bleak skull and crossbones in high relief.
So little is known about this first wife of Paul Revere,  and yet that little to us seems sad.   
I also personally find it unfortunate that there was no likeness of Sarah made.
Folks noticed that Paul Revere was behaving  “perfectly naturally,”  even though he had been widowed only for a few weeks.
Life must go on. 
(Baby)  Isanna lived long enough to give hope she might pull through and to develop a certain type of personality.  (But)  Sarah would not need to wait long underground before this baby would join her.

The children of Paul and Sarah Revere:
Deborah 1758 - 1797
Paul Jr. 1760 - 1813
Sarah 1763 - 1791
Mary 1764 - 1765
Frances 1766 - 1799
Mary 1768 - 1853
Elizabeth 1770 - 1805
Isannah 1772-1773

Yes,  I am certain the thought of leaving her children motherless was painful for Sarah,  for I am sure she knew her place at table,  her pew in church,  her half of the broad bed would quickly be filled. 
Rachel Walker Revere
December 27, 1745 - June 26, 1813
Descended through the Revere family to a 
great-granddaughter of the sitter, 
Pauline Revere  (Mrs. Nathaniel)  Thayer 
And another woman did take Sarah's place...
The family tradition is that one evening that summer Revere was hurrying home from his shop and met Rachel Walker.  Rachel was twenty seven at the time,  a smart-looking girl with dark hair  (as the miniature of her you see on the right that was painted twelve years later shows).  She had the sloping Marie Antoinette forehead and oval facial contours so much admired.  If it were not for the fact that Rachel looks so much like certain other women of the time who were framed for their beauty,  one would be inclined to consider her a plain piece,  with her long nose and the slight double chin...
Clever,  capable,  kindly - but no beauty.  However, so fashions change - she may have been considered extremely handsome

In spite of Rachel's charms,  the man was anxious to be off,  for,  he said,  he always tried to get home before his children were asleep---but wouldn't she go to his house with him?
Probably it was the attraction of Paul himself that made Rachel go with him,  but the story is that it was pity for poor Isanna that made her stay the evening, and soon return for good.
(Rachel)  was a kind and much loved woman.  There was a certain amount of humor in their relationship - even in their courtship,  judging by a rhymed riddle he wrote.  One can imagine Paul sitting at the desk in his shop,  grabbing an old bill,  dipping his quill,  and scratching out the following:
Take three fourths of a Paine that makes Traitors confess
With three parts of a place where the Wicked don’t Bless
Join four sevenths of an Exercise which shop-keepers use
And what Bad men do, when they good actions refuse
These four added together with great care and Art
Will point out the Fair One nearest my Heart.
A  “pain that makes traitors confess”  is the rack,  and three-fourths of that word is RAC.
A  “place where the wicked don’t bless”  is Hell,  and three parts of that is HEL.
Shopkeepers were often on their feet all day walking,  and four-sevenths of that participle produces WALK.
To refuse to do good is to ERR.
Put those sets of letters together,  and you get RACHEL WALKER.
Quite witty,  that Mr. Revere!
On the tenth day of October in 1773,  Rachel Walker and Paul Revere were married by the Reverend Samuel Mather.
Rachel Walker Revere took immediate responsibility for her new home and her husband's six surviving children,  while her husband devoted himself to politics and the assumption of a new role as messenger of the American Revolution,  for he did numerous rides before his most famous in April of 1775.
The marriage of these two seems to have been one of those perfect adjustments between two personalities.  Like Sarah,  Rachel would also have eight children,  and she was as good a step-mother as she was a wife...

Keeping in mind that since Rachel was married to Paul Revere,  who was involved in what might be called numerous treasonous activities,  she had a bit more to worry and think about than the majority of her female contemporaries.  But the absence of her husband due to his work for the Revolutionary cause was nothing new for Rachel Revere;  during the first eighteen months of their marriage,  she already had seen Paul embark on nine separate trips on behalf of the Patriot leadership in Boston to places as far away as New York and Philadelphia,  as well as on local trips to Portsmouth and Exeter,  New Hampshire.  This was all prior to the battle of Concord and Lexington in 1775.  In fact,  only six days after giving birth to their first son,  Joshua,  in December of 1774,  her husband took the ride to Portsmouth.
Paul Revere was already well known to the British for his insurgent activities,  and Rachel,  herself being a Daughter of Liberty,  was concerned that her husband would be stranded away from home with no means of feeding himself or the horse during what would become his most famous of rides that April night in 1775,  so she sent prayers and 125 pounds in British currency,  entrusting it to Benjamin Church for delivery to her husband.  Church was a member of the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts and the surgeon general of George Washington's troops and seemed able to pass through British lines.
Unfortunately for Rachel,  Dr. Church also was a spy for the British.  So,  instead of conveying the letter to Revere,  Church handed it over to Gage.  History gives no mention of Rachel's cash,  and it is presumed that either Gage or Church kept the 125 pounds.

This letter,  written ca April 23, 1775, 
was found a century later in files.
Rachel wrote  (in her own hand in the note on the right):
"My Dear,  by Doctor Church I send a hundred & twenty-five pounds & beg you will take the best care of yourself and not attempt coming into this towne again & if I have an opportunity of coming or sending out anything or any of the Children I shall do it.  Pray keep up your spirits & trust your self & us in the hands of a good God who will take care of us.  Tis all my Dependence,  for vain is the help of man.  Aduie my Love from your affectionate R. Revere."
Paul Revere never saw the letter nor received the money.

In this next letter we do get a brief glimpse of Rachel's character at a moment of crisis in their lives,  for it shows her to have been busy with the momentous events taking place around her.  But she was very anxious and wanted to be of some help to her husband.  Torn by the necessity of offering bribes to the servant of a British officer she clearly detested to secure her family's safety in getting a pass out of town for herself and the many children,  and by the necessity of leaving her fifteen-year-old stepson,  Paul,  behind the British lines in Boston,  she concerned herself with settling family business affairs and supplying her husband with money and clothing.
It is in this piece of correspondence that shows Rachel was a true Daughter of Liberty in her stern words against her husband for asking for a permit to pass through British lines:
Letter of May 2, 1775
Boston 2d May 5 oclock afternoon 75  [1775] 
My Dear Paul
I am exceeding glad to hear you say you are
easy for I thought you where  [were]  very impatient,  but I cannot say I was please'd at hearing you aplyed to Capt Irvin for a pass as I shou'd rather confer 50 obligations on them then recive one from them[.]  I am almost sure of one as soon as they are given out[.]  I was at mr Scolays yesterday and
his son has been here to day and told me he went to the room and gave mine and Deacon Jeffers name to this father when no other person was admited[.]  I hope things will be setledon easier terms soon[.]  I have not recived a line from you to day till this moment[.]  Why have you alterd your mind in
regard to pauls coming with us?  this Capt Irvin says he has not recived any letter and I send by this 2 bottles beer 1 wine for his servant[.]  do my dear take care of your self[.]  o,  I forgot I have not recived but 9£ LM of parkman and that was not enough to pay our friends[.]  mr.S [ . . . ]  promised to pay you shou,d be glad to know that your coat is not made [ . . . ]  John did not incline to do it and I spoke to mr Boit he ingage'd to make it if he Could not get a pass but as he has that in pros-pect he cannot I have got a woman to make Pauls in the house and if you choose I will ask John to cut it and get her to make it[.]  She is a very good work woman and works for Doct mount [f]ort Rand
Yours with affection
R Revere

An original example of the type of pass Rachel needed to pass through British lines.

Paul Revere responded the following day:
My Dear Girl,
We can only imagine Paul Revere
writing the words written here...
I receivd your favor yesterday.  I am glad you have got yourself ready.  If you find that you cannot easily get a pass for the Boat,  I would have you get a pass for yourself and children and effects.  Send the most valuable first.  I mean that you should send Beds enough for yourself and Children,  my chest,  your trunk,  with Books Cloaths &c to the ferry tell the ferryman they are mine.
I will provide a house here where to put them & will be here to receive them,  after Beds are come over, come with the Children,  except Paul,  pray order him by all means to keep at home that he may help bring the things to the ferry,  tell him not to come till I send for him.
You must hire somebody to help you.  You may get brother Thomas.  lett Isaac Clemmens if he is a mind to take care of the shop and maintain himself there,  he may,  or do as he has a mind,  put some sugar in a Raisin cask or some such thing & such necessarys as we shall want.
Tell Betty,  My Mother,  Mrs Metcalf if they think to stay, as we talked at first,  tell them I will supply them with all the cash & other things in my power but if they think to come away,  I will do all in my power to provide for them, perhaps before this week is out there will be liberty for Boats to go to Notomy  (Revere could mean Menotomy),  then we can take them all.  If you send the things to the ferry send enough to fill a cart,  them that are the most wanted.  Give Mrs. Metcalf  [torn] in,  their part of the money I dont remember the sums,  but perhaps they can.
I want some linnen and stockings very much.  Tell Paul I expect he’l behave himself well and attend to my business,  and not be out of the way.  My Kind love to our parents & our Children Brothers & Sisters & all friends.
Revere then added the following to his son:
My Son.
It is now in your power to be serviceable to me,  your Mother and yourself.  I beg you will keep yourself at home or where your Mother sends you.  Dont you come away till I send you word.  When you bring anything to the ferry tell them its mine & mark it with my name.
Your loving Father
P. R.

By May 22,  according to Jayne Triber’s biography  "A True Republican,"  the whole family was in Watertown  (except for oldest son Paul, Jr.,  who stayed behind to look after the shop).
Such times that we think of as being exciting as we look back from our present time with our  '20/20 vision,'  were not quite so for those who lived through it,  who were weary and,  just as Rachel,  anxious.

The next time we hear about the women in Paul Revere's life is two years after his famous ride.
Partly paraphrased from the book,  "A True Republican" by Jayne R. Triber:
Paul Revere had lived with his mother all of his life,  and she had helped raise his children,  but on May 23,  1777,  Deborah Hitchbon Revere passed away at the age of seventy three  "after a tedious confinement."  Her death must have affected her son deeply,  yet Rachel Revere suffered a loss as well.  With her husband frequently away from home because of his obligations,  she bore the burden of her mother-in-law's final illness and the loss of her help in caring for the children:  Joseph Warren,  born not quite a month before his grandmother's death;  Joshua,  who was nearly two-and-a-half;  and three girls under the age of twelve.  Now more than ever,  Rachel would now have to rely on the help of her step-daughters,  nineteen-year-old Deborah and fifteen-year-old Sarah. 
Paul Revere did continue his patriotic duties in numerous ways,  but he found it  "very irksome to be separated from  (Rachel),  whom I so tenderly love, and from my little lambs..."
This is,  for the most part,  all we have for Rachel Revere.

The children of Paul and Rachel Revere:
Joshua 1774 - 1801
John 1776 (b & d)
Joseph Warren 1777 - 1868
Lucy 1780 (b & d)
Harriet 1783 - 1860
John 1784 - 1786
Maria 1785 - 1847
John 1787 - 1847
Portrait of Paul Revere 1800
by Charles Balthazar Julien Fevret 
de Saint-Memin
(Written on frame: Portrait of Paul Revere. 
CBJ Saint Memin, 1770-1852)
I believe it is appropriate at this point to show two more likenesses we have of Paul Revere and one more of Rachel.  There are simply no more images of either to be had.
To the left we see one of Revere from the turn of the 19th century,  and then below we find Rachel and Paul late in life.  An interesting fact not well-known about Paul Revere is that,  "As the century advance(d),  small boys begin to appear---all eyes,  all ears,  they watch  'old Mr. Revere'  in church,  on the street,  at his foundry.  Some sixty or seventy years later,  when asked,  they remember him well.  Rowland Ellis remembers  (Paul Revere)  as a  'thick-set,  round faced not very tall person who always wore small clothes.'  The Ellis family pew in the  'New Brick Church'  was directly behind that of Revere, and there Mr. Ellis says,  "I used to see him as regularly as the Sabbath came."
The oddity of small clothes alone would be remembered by a small boy.  The old elegance of knee-breeches,  ruffled shirts,  long stockings,  and cocked hats had passed out of fashion years before.  Others besides Paul Revere  (also)  clung to their picturesque costume of their youth.  There were a number of these  'last leaves'  about Boston.  It may have been a sin for small boys  'to sit and grin...but the old three-cornered hat,  and the breeches and all that,  are so queer.'

Yes, Paul & Rachel Revere and their generation were becoming the grandparents of the next. 
Son Joseph Warren Revere paid the artist Gilbert Stuart $100 for the portraits 
of his parents on June 1,  1813.  Rachel Revere died just a few weeks later, 
on June 26,  but Paul Revere lived nearly five more years.
But it is in these two paintings that the Revere's 
"look a comfortable and well-wedded old couple." 
Rachel Revere died in Boston of a  "bilious colic"  in 1813,  at age sixty-eight.  Paul Revere died five years later at age eighty-three.  They lie together in the Granary Burying Ground in Boston.
As deep as I could research,  this was all I could find in my books on the revering wives of Paul. Most internet biographies of Sarah and Rachel tended to embellish,  far more than necessary,  their husband's most famous ride,  but little else was set aside for the two wives. 
And it was supposed to be their  biographies!
I did my best to keep this post centered on the ladies,  though I did include some of Paul's information for historical purposes.

Though I could not find much more than what I presented here of Sarah and Rachel,  we can at least learn what their lives may have been like,  which would add more flesh to the bones of not only these two ladies,  but to their generation - both men and women - as a whole.  To do this I highly recommend you checking out my posting on life during Colonial times,  for I give a general overview of everyday life of their time,  and it is loaded with current photographs of actual period homes as well as colonial reenactors:  click HERE if you would like to see the post.  Also,  to learn more on what Sarah and Rachel may have worn,  please click HERE for a wonderful and basic overview of women's clothing of the period.
To learn of a more detailed depiction on a woman's role in the kitchen,  click HERE
And then to read my posting of Paul Revere's famous ride, click HERE

Some of my information for today's post came directly from THIS site,  THIS site,  THIS site,  and THIS site.
And besides Esther Forbes' wonderful book  Paul Revere & The World He Lived In and the excellent Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fisher,  I also gleaned information from another recently discovered by me book:  A True Republican: The Life of Paul Revere by Jayne E. Triber.

Thank you for stopping by - - until next time,  see you in time.

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