Molly Pitcher – Patriot and Soldier

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

There were many well known heroes during the Revolutionary War, but there were many more lesser known or unknown heroes. One heroine has virtually disappeared from the history books, but her heroism was celebrated in early American history. She was known as Molly Pitcher.

Molly Pitcher was born as Mary Ludwig in 1754 near Trenton, New Jersey. Although some suggest Molly was a legend or a composite of many women, Mary Ludwig was a real woman and did at least some of the things suggested.

Mary moved to Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1768 where she met William Hays, the local barber. A year later, they married. During the American Revolution, Hays volunteered in the Continental Army and became a gunner. As was common during this time, Mary would follow her husband in battle to help where needed.

On June 28th, 1778, Hays fought in the Monmouth in New Jersey during a extremely hot day. Mary followed him into battle and carried buckets of cold water onto the field to give the soldier cool drinks. This is when the soldiers nicknamed her Molly Pitcher. While on the field, Molly saw her husband collapse at his cannon. She immediately took his place at the cannon and manned the weapon until the Patriots won the battle. One witness said a cannon shot passed between her legs carrying away the lower part of her petticoat, but she was not injured during the battle.

Because of her actions, Molly Pitcher became a legendary figure representing women who helped during the war. After the war, Molly moved back to Carlisle, and after her husband’s death, she married another veteran. She was honored for her wartime service in 1822 when a statue was erected in her honor and she was given a pension or $40 a year for the rest of her life. She died ten years later in 1832.

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US Presidents Who Were Assasinated

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

When asked what US presidents were assassinated while in office, most people remember John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln. Would it surprise you to know there were four presidents assassinated? There were also two presidents who died in office and were rumored to be assassinated, and 30 unsuccessful assassination plots or attempts. Here is a list of the assassinated presidents.

Abraham Lincoln was the first and most famous president to be assassinated. He was shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford Theater on Good Friday, April 14, 1865. After shooting the president, Booth jumped onto the stage, breaking his ankle, and shouting “Sic semper tyrannis” ( “Thus always to tyrants”). Booth was a Confederate sympathizer and was against abolition of slaves. He was part of a larger conspiracy where the vice-president and secretary-of-state were also targeted, but Lincoln was the only one killed. Booth was shot a few days later, and 8 other conspirators were hanged.

James A. Garfield was shot on Saturday, July 2, 1881, in Washington DC, by Charles Julius Guiteau less than four months after taking the oath of office. Garfield’s son, James Rudolph Garfield, and Secretary of State James Blaine, both broke down and wept. Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln, thinking back to the assassination of his father, said, “How many hours of sorrow I have passed in this town.” Garfield died eleven days later from complications and infection. Guiteau was immediately arrested, and after being found guilty, was hanged. Guiteau was assessed as mentally unbalanced and possibly suffered from some kind of bipolar disorder or from the effects of syphilis on the brain. He claimed to have shot Garfield out of disappointment for being passed over for appointment as Ambassador to France.

William McKinley was shot September 6th, 1901 on the grounds of the Pan-American Exposition at the Temple of Music in Buffalo, New York. Leon Czolgosz shot him while he was shaking hands with the public. McKinley staggered backwards and to the right, but was prevented from falling by Cortelyou, Milburn, and Detective Geary who guided him to a chair. Seeing men beating Czolgosz, McKinley ordered it stopped. He then expressed concern for his wife. He was then carried out by an electric ambulance. After an operation and apparent recovery, he died of gangrene eight days later. Czolgosz was an anarchist who had lost his job during the economic Panic of 1893. He considered McKinley as a symbol of oppression and was convinced that it was his duty as an anarchist to kill McKinley. After being found guilty, Czolgosz was executed in the electric chair. After this, the Secret Service was assigned to protect the president.

John F. Kennedy was shot by a sniper on Friday, November 22, 1963 while riding with his wife in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. He died instantly. Texas Governor John Connelly was also shot but recovered. Lee Harvey Oswald, a former Marine who had become a communist was arrested for the crime. Two days later, Jack Ruby, a nightclub owner distressed by the assignation, shot and killed Oswald. He was convicted and spent life in prison. The Warren Commission ruled Oswald acted alone, but to this day, many people believe he had help.

2 Presidents Rumored to Assassinated:

Zachary Taylor died on July 9th, 1850 of cholera morbus, a term that included diarrhea and dysentery, likely caused by food poisoning. In the late 1980s, author Clara Rising raised the possibility Taylor was murdered by poison. She convinced Taylor’s closest living relative and the coroner of Jefferson County, Kentucky to order an exhumation. The tests showed arsenic in Taylor’s system, but it was much less than they would have expected if he had been poisoned.

Warren G. Harding died on August 2nd, 1923 of a heart attack or stroke brought on by food poisoning and pneumonia. While traveling in Alaska and Canada, Harding had been informed of corruption in his administration which he claimed to know nothing about. He gave a speech in Seattle, Washington, then fell ill. His train proceeded to San Francis where he died in a hotel there. Doctors said he died of a stroke, but the Hardings’ personal medical advisor disagreed with the diagnosis. His wife, Florence Harding, refused permission for an autopsy. This led to speculation that the President had been the victim of a plot, possibly carried out by his wife. Harding apparently had been unfaithful to the First Lady. Gaston B. Means, an amateur historian, wrote about his suspicions Harding had been poisoned. He also surmised Harding may have been killed to protect politicians because Harding probably would have been impeached if he hadn’t died. Speculation continues to this day.

How a Native American Brought the Great Awakening to the Indians

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Samson Occom, a native American born in a wigwam, became one of the first ordained Indian preachers, the first Native American to be published, and the only one to travel with Evangelist George Whitefield during the Great Awakening in America. He brought Christianity to the Indian tribes in his area of the country, yet most have never heard his story.

Samson was born in 1723 as part of the the Mohegan tribe near New London, Connecticut. His parents were Joshua and Sarah Ockham, direct descendants of Uncas, a famous Mohegan chief. At the age of 16, Occom heard his first sermon during the Great Awakening. His mother Sarah was one of the first Mohegan converts.

Samson was stirred by what he heard and began to study English so he could read the Bible for himself. A year later he became a Christian under the preaching of James Davenport. He started going to a school for Indians and white boys started by evangelist Eleazar Wheelock and spent four years at Wheelock’s school. He was a gifted student, but poor eyesight prevented him from going to college.

He taught school and ministered to the Montauk Indians for eleven years. He used many creative methods including singing and card games as teaching devices. When Azariah Horton, the white Presbyterian minister to the Montauk, retired, Samson took his place as pastor.

Samson married Mary Fowler in 1751, and they had ten children. The church  paid him a much smaller salary than the white men doing the same job. To make ends meet, he bound books and carved spoons, pails, and gun stocks for his white neighbors. Despite the prejudice he faced, in 1759, Samson became on of the first ordained ministers in the Presbyterian Church.


His passion was to share the Gospel with other Native Americans, and he was commission by the Scotch Society of Missions to preach to the Cherokee in Georgia and Tennessee. Fighting among the Cherokee and white settles put those plans on hold, so instead he went to New York to preach among the Oneida.

In 1765, Samson traveled with George Whitefield, Great Awakening preacher, during his sixth preaching tour in the colonies. Later that year, he traveled to England with Nathaniel Whitaker to raise money for Wheelock’s Indian Charity School. Over the next two years, he preached over 200 sermons in England and was well received. He raised over 11,000 pounds, the most ever raised for a ministry in the colonies. While in England Samson visited with John Newton, writer of Amazing Grace, and received an honorary degree from the University of Edinburgh which he politely declined.

When he returned to America in 1768, Samson found that Wheelock had failed to care for his wife and children as promised. Samson’s family was living in poverty. The rift widened when he learned Wheelock had used the money he’d raised to move the school to New Hampshire and decided to exclude Indians. Wheelock renamed the school Dartmouth.

Samson was a prolific writer throughout his lifetime. He kept a diary from 1743 to 1790 about his work that became an historic document. In 1772, he preached a temperance sermon at the execution of a Native American who murdered a man while he was drunk. That sermon became a best seller. He also wrote and published hymns. He is recognized as the first Native American to become published.


When Samson became a defender of land claims of the Montauk and Oneida against speculators, false rumors were spread that he was a heavy drinker and not even a Mohegan which caused the loss of support from his denomination and several missionary societies. He wrote an autobiography to defend himself, but it did little good.


Throughout the 1770s and 1780s, Samson preached among the Mohegan and other tribes in New England. After the Revolutionary War, he settled in Brothertown, New York on a reservation for New England Indians where he establish the first Indian Presbyterian Church. In 1791, he died while gathering wood to finish the new church building.


His legacy continued after his death through his children, students, and converts who also ministered to Native Americans. Two of his students also became authors. Besides being the first Native American who was published, Samson fought for Native American rights, spread the Gospel to New England tribes, and promoted education for Native Americans. 

 

1920 Changed Fashion Forever

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Studying fashion in 1919-1920 for my
novella, Resurrection of Hope, was difficult because fashion changed so much in the couple of years leading up to the roaring twenties. Only ten years earlier, women had to contend with bustles and corsets. Hobble skirts were gathered
close around the ankles made walking difficult. By the 1915, shirts became full and were just above the ankles. The bustles and corsets that had cursed women for decades were being thrown out. In 1918, straight line dresses were becoming
popular, and skirts were actually a few inches above the ankle. The flapper style we know from the roaring 20s was starting to make its appearance.

In 1918, the flapper era started showing up in the cities first. Most women were conservative and wore their skirts a few inches below their knees which was scandalous five years earlier. By 1922, skirts were worn to the knee even in rural areas. The shift or chemise dress with the lowered waistline became popular in 1916 and continued throughout the 1920s. Tailored suits became popular among working women. Most dresses were sleeveless, and women wore sweaters over them on cold days. Jewelry to accessorize the new look became important, and women wore long beaded and pearl necklaces looped around the neck and large bracelets. In the winter,
women finished the look with long fur coats.

During World War I, many women had to work outside the home. They started to wear bobbed hair styles because they were easier to take care of. By 1920, the style took off and most women bobbed their hair even in more rural areas and conservative areas of the country. Cloche hats that fit tight around the face were becoming popular and went with the new short hair styles.

 

In the Victorian era, make-up was considered vulgar, but that changed in the early 1900s. By 1900, women started wearing powder to achieve a pale look. Once that became acceptable, women started wearing makeup to look younger without looking like they were actually wearing makeup. Max Factor opened in 1909 with its first makeup counter and supplied makeup to silent movie actresses. In 1917, Theda Bara started a trend by wearing heavy eye makeup in the movie Cleopatra. Women in the city started wearing make-up to look like the actresses on the silent movie screen. It was a few more years before the average farmwife would be seen in public wearing makeup.

 

The biggest change was ladies’ undergarments. Although the corsets didn’t disappear completely, one piece camisoles and slips became the desired undergarments. Because of shorter hemlines, silk hosiery was invented in 1920. It became the fashion for years after that. Bras didn’t come out until 1922, so most women either wore modified corsets or only wore camisoles. Never again would the restrictive clothing of the 1800s limit women.

 

Resurrection of Hope

She thought he was her knight in shining armor, but will a marriage of convenience prove her wrong?

After Vivian’s fiancé dies in the Great War, she thinks her life is over. But Henry, her fiancé’s best friend, comes to the rescue offering a marriage of convenience. He claims he promised his friend he would take care of her. She grows to love him, but she knows it will never work because he never shows any love for her.

Henry adores Vivian and has pledged to take care of her, but he won’t risk their friendship by letting her know. She’s still in love with the man who died in the Great War. He won’t risk heartache by revealing his true emotions.

Sarah Edwards – The Mother of the Great Awakening

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Sarah Edwards is often overlooked when the First Great Awakening of the 1700s is mentioned, but her legacy and contribution to her husband’s ministry are enormous.  Over fourteen hundred descendants of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards have been traced in 1900 by A.E. Winship. Of these, fourteen became college presidents, roughly one hundred became professors, another one hundred ministers, and about the same number became lawyers or judges. Nearly sixty became doctors, and others were authors or editors.

Sarah Pierpont was born in 1710. Her father, James Pierpont, was one of the founders of Yale University. Sarah was known for her love of God at an early age. When she was 13, Jonathan attended Yale at age 16. He would often wait outside Pierpont’s church to catch a glimpse of her. He had this to say about her.

They say there is a young lady in New Haven who is loved of that Great Being, who made and rules the world, and that there are certain seasons in which this Great Being, in some way or other invisible, comes to her and fills her mind with exceeding sweet delight; and that she hardly cares for anything, except to meditate on Him…You could not persuade her to do any thing wrong or sinful, if you would give her all the world, lest she should offend this Great Being. She is of a wonderful sweetness, calmness, and universal benevolence of mind; especially after this Great God has manifested himself to her mind. She will sometimes go about from place to place, singing sweetly; and seems to be always full of joy and pleasure…She loves to be alone… and seems to have some one invisible always conversing with her.”

Sarah Pierrepont married Jonathan Edwards on July 28, 1727 at the age of 17. Jonathan was serious and scholarly. Sarah was beautiful and enjoyed conversation. As far as their personalities, they couldn’t be further apart, but what attracted them to each other is their love for God.

Jonathan and Sarah had 11 children, 3 sons and 8 daughters. She prayed consistently for her children and was known for her parenting skills. She treated her children with gentleness and firmness. Although Jonathan contributed with child-rearing, making sure he spent at least one hour with the children every day when he wasn’t traveling, most of the parenting was done by Sarah. All of their sons became pastors, and their daughters married pastors.

Jonathan was also known as being absent-minded, spending as much as 13 hours a day in study, so Sarah was responsible for maintaining the household and keeping things going.One remarkable thing for that time period was Jonathan’s attitude toward Sarah. He valued her intelligence and not only relied on her to manage his personal affairs, but she also helped him with the ministry.

In 1734-1735, an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Northampton and the surrounding ares erupted. Jonathan was at the center of that outpouring, but Sarah experienced it too. Jonathan asked his wife to write a testimony about her experience, and she wrote a long one. One phrased she used to describe it was being “swallowed up in God”.

When George Whitefield, Great Awakening preacher, visited Jonathan and Sarah Edwards in 1730, he said, “A sweeter couple I have not yet seen” and wrote about the peaceful home Sarah had created and how she freely talked about the things of God. He called her a perfect helpmeet for her husband and determined to get married himself.

In 1750, Sarah was by Jonathan’s side when he struggled with the congregation at Northampton Church. He would not allow the members of his church to take communion unless they had a salvation experience. This angered many of them because the town council had to be communicants of the Congregational Church to hold on to their government positions. The last pastor, Solomon Stoddard who was Jonathan Edwards’ grandfather, had allowed anyone to take communion regardless of their salvation.

Many in the church came against Jonathan when he asked for a raise in his stipend due to rising costs. The church said they would only consent after investigating the Edwards’ material affairs. Some were outraged that their extravagant minister had two wigs and two teapots! Jonathan denied possessing even one wig although he did admit they had several teapots. The congregation used this excuse to fire him.

Edwards was still in high demand and in 1751, became pastor of the church in Stockbridge, Massachusetts and a missionary to the Housatonic Indians. In 1757, Jonathan became President of the College of New Jersey, now known as Princeton. 

Jonathan died on March 22, 1758 when he contracted smallpox. He was out of town, so Sarah couldn’t be with him. He did leave a deathbed message for her. Over a year later, Sarah became ill during an epidemic and died at the age of 49.

Sarah was a woman who loved God, her husband, and her children. In many ways, she was a woman who was ahead of her time. She left a legacy that is still alive today.

Where Were You on September 11th, 2001?

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Everybody has a story about that fateful day. Here’s mine.

A couple of days before that notorious event, my son who had just gotten married in July called to tell us his new wife was leaving him to be with a married man. She would move out on Tuesday, September 11th. I tried to get a flight to Tennessee, where he lived for that Tuesday morning, but I couldn’t. I literally couldn’t book the flight online. Something blocked it. Now I know it was God. I would have been stuck in an airport in Cincinnati and wouldn’t have made it in time to be with him, but then, I thought it was just weird.

Since I couldn’t fly down, my husband drove down on Monday. I got a flight for the following week. Tuesday morning, I watched the news while I waited for my husband to call to let me know if my son’s ex-wife was there yet and how he was holding up. A breaking news story came on Fox News. An airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Nobody knew if it was an accident or on purpose. As I watched, the second plane hit. The world seemed to be collapsing while my son’s life and marriage did. The towers fell while my son’s wife moved her stuff out.

After the planes hit the towers, I realized I hadn’t woke up my daughter, and she was sleeping though this. She was a junior in high school and homeschooled. I woke her up and told her what happened. She wondered to the TV and said, “Oh, I thought you were talking about a movie.” At that point, it seemed so surreal.

All air flight was grounded, and the President was rushed from a schoolroom in Florida onto Air Force One. The stunned news broadcasters then announced a plane was headed to the Pentagon and I remembered my cousin had an office there. He was a private software contractor, but his only client is the Pentagon. The plane crashed through my cousin’s office and killed his secretary (his kid’s SS teacher). He’s alive because an hour earlier, he was called away for an emergency meeting at another location.

The news announced Flight 91 in Pennsylvania was headed toward the White House, and fighter jets had been called to chase it down. At that moment, the whole house rumbled as the jets flew over our house. I knew it was the fighter jets because the planes had been grounded. I spent the entire day watching the news, getting reports from my husband about my son, and praying. It was the day terrorism came to America and the world changed.

A year later, I went on a missions trip to New York. I saw Ground Zero. It looked like a bomb had hit it. It reminded me of pictures I’d seen of the devastation in Europe during World War 2. When I visited Grand Central Station, I read all the messages on a board in the center of the station to those who had died. I didn’t cry until I read one message. “Daddy, I miss you. I’ll see you in Heaven. Love, Veronica.” My daughter’s name is Veronica.

I did fly down to see my son six days after September 11th, but there were only a hand full of people on the plane. After the divorce, my son married a girl he met when he came home to recover. She is a sweetheart. They’ve been married 15 years and have two sons. God restores what evil destroys.

So what’s your story? Leave it in the comments.

Bibles in Colonial America

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Bibles were in America from the earliest days of the English colonization. There were four common translations of the Bible in the early 1600s: The Great Bible, The Bishop’s Bible, The Geneva Bible, and the King James Bible. Bibles were allowed to be printed only at official printers approved by the king, so Bibles weren’t printed in America. The first Bible printed in America was Saur’s German Bible in 1743.

In his book written in 1810, The History of Printing in America, Isaiah Thomas claims Gamaliel Rogers and Daniel Fowler printed about 2,000 copies of the New Testament in Boston, Massachusetts as early as 1750. Apparently they falsely added to the first page that the Bible was printed in London to avoid being fined by the English Crown, but there is no proof that happened.

The first English language Bible printed in America that can be verified was in 1771. Robert Aitken, who became the first official printer of the Journals of Congress for the United States Congress in 1776, was disturbed by the lack of Bibles in America so he printed the first English language New Testament. On January 21, 1781, Aitken petitioned the Unites States Congress to authorize, and if possible even fund, the printing of a complete Bible in the English language of the King James Version. On September 10, 1782, Aitken received authorization to commence his American printing of the Bible in English. In 1782, Robert Aitken produced the first English language Bible printed in America. It was known as the “Bible of the American Revolution.

Nobody knows for sure which Bibles were brought to America. A Bible might have been brought to the Roanoke colony in 1585. More likely, it was in 1605 when Jamestown was colonized. The Great Bible translated in 1539 was the first official English translation, and many churches used that version, so it might have been brought to Roanoke or Jamestown. The Great Bible used the outlawed Tyndale Bible as its guide. Another Bible that might have been in early Jamestown was the Bishop’s Bible first printed in 1568 to correct problems in The Great Bible translation. It was the authorized version of the Bible in England until 1611 when the King James Bible was authorized. There may have been King James Bibles later, but in 1605 when the ships sailed for Jamestown, it didn’t exist. By 1620, it might have been shipped to Jamestown for use by the pastor.

When the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth in 1620, there were two Bible translations aboard the ships. John Alden, a prominent member of the Plymouth Colony who was a ship’s carpenter on the Mayflower, brought a copy of the King James Bible. Alden was not originally a member of the Pilgrims which is why he probably brought that version. The Pilgrims used the Geneva Bible first printed in 1560, the most popular English Bible until the mid-seventeenth century. William Bradford quoted from the Geneva Bible. The Bible was given its name because of its associations with the Calvinists in Geneva. The Geneva Bible had study notes in it written by many Protestant reformers including John Calvin. King James considered the translation seditious.