Revolutionary Fragments, Morris Co., N. J. ó No. 1.
By Rev. Dr. Joseph F. Tuttle, 1850
In our boasts of American patriotism, as shown in the great struggle of '76, we are too apt to think of the great names which are prominently recorded in history. Such names as Washington, Jefferson, Green, Lafayette, Kosciusko, are likely to draw all the attention whilst others, equally meritorious in the self-denial and endurance of those times, receive no mention whatever, except from a few at home in whose memories the history, altogether traditionary, is engraved. We ought not to complain of the honor done to those great men, but we may regret that private friendship has not rescued from oblivion numerous thrilling anecdotes of ancestors who did not occupy such a position as to ensure remembrance. The day for doing this has well nigh passed, and what we do must be done quickly, since these traditions are now becoming fainter every year.
These thoughts pained us, not long since, in meeting a large circle of relations assembled after the burial of an octogenarian. The conversation turned on the various scenes through which she must have passed. Eighty-six years of pilgrimage, and at such a period! Nor was this all. She was born and lived the most of her time in New Jersey, the battle-field of the Revolution. And, as if to make her history as interesting as possible, her native place was Morris County, within seven miles of the American Winter-quarters at Morristown. The venerable woman of whom we speak , was Mrs. Keturah Tuttle Flatt, lately deceased, and greatly lamented.
At the age of eight, having lost her mother, she was taken into the family of her oldest sister, the wife of Mr. Uzal Kitchel. Mrs. Kitchel must have been an extraordinary woman, whose firmness of mind was only exceeded by her piety. On the 23rd of June, 1780, the battle of Springfield was fought, and among the volunteers on that occasion were her husband and several brothers. In fact, the rumors that the British were attempting an inroad into Morris County, had thoroughly excited the people. At the first signal, all who could carry a musket hurried to the scene of danger. The alacrity of these people is well shown, by an anecdote of a valiant soldier named Bishop, whose descendants are still found to honor the country. He resided at Mendham, some nine miles from Morristown. Harvest came very early, and on that morning he was engaged with a hired man stacking his wheat. They had hauled a load, when Bishop exclaimed, "What's that?" His man and he agreed that it might be the signal gun, that the enemy were advancing. "I must go," said the farmer. "You had better take care of your wheat," urged the man. The signal gun again pealed out its alarm, and Mr. Bishop slid down from his stack with the words, "I can't stand this. Get along with the grain the best way you can. I am off to the rescue!"
He had some provisions hastily put up, and shouldered his gun, in a few minutes he was on his way to Morristown. He says that on his way there, he saw men similarly equipped and furnished with himself, issuing from every lane and crossroad, until by the time he reached town, he was one of a small volunteer regiment. Then a messenger met them to announce the retreat of the enemy. Still it showed the magnanimous courage of the men who had been witnesses of the sufferings of the American soldier the winter previous, that hard winter of 1779-80, and had done not a little to relieve them. At a moment's warning they were ready to march even to death for their liberties.
Those who resided nearer Springfield had an opportunity to display their valor on the field. A large number from Hanover township, in which is the village of Whippany, hastened to meet the enemy, and among them the good minister of the place, the Rev. Jacob Green, not as a soldier, but a spectator. Whippany has the honor of raising the first military company in the county for the revolutionary struggle, and this was in 1775.
Among the patriots of that township are found the names of Kitchel and Tuttle. Of the latter no less than five sons of different periods, and one of them as Captain. He was at Brandywine under Lafayette, and one of the remarkable exhibitions of that Americanized Frenchman's memory was made during his visit to Newark in 1824. Lafayette was partaking of a cold collation when Capt. Tuttle said to a young relative "come, let us go and see Lafayette!" After working his way through the crowd, he had nearly reached the Marquis, who at that moment lifted his eyes, and perceived Mt. T. Without the least hesitation or prompting, he stretched out his hand and exclaimed, "why Captain Tuttle, how do you do?" He had not seen him since the disbanding of the army.
To return to Mrs. Kitchel. Her husband was collector of the township and had in his possession a large amount of money in continental bills, and some in specie. At the first alarm he had hurried toward Springfield, leaving his wife alone to protect his property and family. On the first night of his absence she thought if the British should come, they would take away the money, and that she ought to secure it in some way. The bills were in a square box, and the silver in an old stocking. South from the old Kitchel mansion are s\extensive meadows, bordering on the Whippany river. With her sister Keturah, then some fifteen years of age, she took a lantern and went down into the meadow to hide the money, which she did among some logs. After going to bed, she thought "if it rains, the bills will be spoiled, and so nothing be gained." She arose and went after the money. After bringing it back she concluded to hide it in the centre of a straw bed, which she did. Then she thought how insecure it was if any enemy should come after it. It was then that she uttered words which in the circumstances are notable. "How foolish to be so anxious about this! I will now leave it all to the Lord!" It must be remembered, that messengers were coming and going from Springfield with reports of the danger not a little exaggerated. This good woman tells us that after she came to this resolution, she went to sleep without any apprehension, and slept till morning, soundly as a child.
During that year, with many of his neighbors, Mr. Kitchel was in the army at different periods, and if we mistake not, the most of the time during that summer and fall after the battle of Springfield. His wife, aided only by an old negro, carried on the farming operations vigorously, and actually did the most toward husking and housing the corn. In this she was not alone, since there were many other wives and daughters, whose patriotism was sufficient to carry them through the toil and drudgery consequent on the absence of their husbands, fathers and brother in the army. Let them be honored.
During that season, reports were rife of the intentions of the enemy to lay Morris County under contribution. Mrs. K's father, Mr. Daniel Tuttle, I believe I have not mistaken the personówas old and feeble, and she thought how dreadful a thing it would be to have such a helpless old man fall into the hands of the enemy. "She could bear hardship herself, but she could not endure that he should be so exposed." Accordingly she put a horse before "the chair," as it was called, a sort of a gig, and placing her father in it, conveyed him to the house of Mr. Moses Tuttle, a relative who lived at Mount Pleasant, about eleven miles from Morristown, and about three from Dover. And there he remained until the alarm ceased, when he was brought home again. These little incidents sufficiently indicate the anxieties and painful solicitude which afflicted those people.
We must relate one more incident concerning this noble woman in that trying time. Among many it was thought to be almost an absolute necessity to procure from the British authorities a paper stating the holder to be under British protection. I suppose this must have been procured by professions of loyalty to the King. Amidst the alarms of the time, some of Mrs. Kitchel's neighbors were greatly in earnest to secure this protection, and among them a Deacon. He urged Mrs. Kitchel to adopt this course. She replied, "Would it be right or womanly for me to secure a protection from the British, when I have a husband and five brothers fighting against the British? I think not, and therefore I will not do it."
"But," urged the Deacon, "if you don't, your family may be butchered, and your property destroyed. Besides it won't make any odds about your husband and brothers; only this, it may preserve your life and their property. They won't fight any the worse for your getting 'a protection!'"
She replied to this specious reasoning, "I will not get a 'protection' from the British; If the God of battles will not take care of us, then will we fare with the rest!"
It is said that the Deacon was so affected by this magnificent reply, that he never took any further steps to secure a protection for himself, nor did he again advise a friend to do that, which a woman had so nobly rebuked. Rockaway.
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