Oh the times we live in. People throughout history could have only dreamed about the advances in health and comfort, industry, agriculture; heck, housing with indoor plumbing and hot and cold running water. Early settlers of the American colonies were battling just to remain alive. Famine, disease and indigenous peoples who didn’t like newcomers were a constant thereat to life and limb.
One fall we visited Jamestown, Yorktown and Williamsburg in Virginia and were mesmerized by the beauty of nature there. They were at the edge of a land truly worth fighting for. This Independence Day we honor the lives, choices and sacrifice of pilgrims, patriots and those who gave us the “Land of the free and the home of the brave.”
We’re celebrating at our house in the West this year. we are in the midst of a historic heat wave and drought, everything is tinder-dry. No personal fireworks here!
While we continue to search for property to build on, we are living in a quaint 1940’s brick house in Salt Lake City, Utah. Most of my patriotic goodies are in storage but I managed to find a few pieces of Americana to celebrate the Spirit of America. Happy 4th!
I’ll add more photos as they are available. Right now I’m heading to the pool! …That was refreshing.
I thought it would be fun to look back at other Independence Day celebrations.
And one of my favorite patriot stories about American Revolutionary War heroes Samuel and Elizabeth Duncan Porter.
Elizabeth Porter: America: 1750-1845
Elizabeth was born to Thomas and Elizabeth Duncan in Lancaster Pennsylvania in 1750. The Duncan parents were born in Scotland, moved to Ireland and then to the British colonies in America. They settled in Lancaster, which is known in modern times for an Amish community, lush green farms and hillsides.
Elizabeth enjoyed growing up in the beautiful countryside of Pennsylvania. In the spring she played with the lambs and picked flowers. But childhood ended early for Elizabeth; her father died when she was six years old and her help was needed for the farm and family. She grew to be a strong and lovely woman.
At twenty-five she met a man who would sweep her off her feet and she married her beloved Samuel Porter. He and his brothers had immigrated to the colonies from Ireland. As a member of the Virginia militia, Samuel was one of the men responsible for patrolling the roads and trails to keep travelers safe from Indian raids. The British had enlisted the Indians to attack settlers on the western frontiers of the colonies.
The winds of war began to blow across America.
Samuel, Elizabeth, their two young children, her mother, brother and other family members had established a small village in the hills between Kentucky and Virginia. The entire town was captured by Indians in 1780. It is thought that British soldiers were with them because they were not scalped. The attackers took all of their stock and possessions.
They were marched and carried over 600 miles to Detroit. Elizabeth had to work hard to keep her little children quiet so they would not be killed by their captors. She was pregnant with her third child. Sometimes when she was permitted to ride in a canoe, she sat with her feet in water for hours and hours. Samuel was sentenced to die. The other men were placed in stockades and pens and nearly starved to death.
Elizabeth was put to work cooking for the British officers. She saved scraps of bread and meat from the plates and smuggled them out when she took out the dishwater. As she placed the tub of water and food near Samuel’s prison, he was able to reach through the cracks in the barn to get the food. Her act of courage probably kept him alive.
Elizabeth who was still pregnant, her young children Margaret and Hugh and her mother were marched as a prisoners-of-war another 700 miles from Detroit to Quebec, Canada.
On January 7th, New York Harbor froze over. In the bitter cold of a winter that would become known as the “little Ice Age, ” far from her home, Elizabeth gave birth to baby Samuel. She was a captive of the British and Shawnee Indians because she believed in freedom.
Her husband Samuel suffered as well in the confinement of the prison camp. 8 of 10 American prisoners died in the hulls of British warships. He did not know what had become of Elizabeth, their unborn baby or the other two young children.
Many people sacrificed much for the cause of freedom. Some sacrificed everything.
Elizabeth took care of baby Samuel, little Margaret and Hugh the best she could. She sang to them the Celtic lullabies her mother had sung to her.
She told them the Bible stories she had learned as a child. Tales of Moses leading Israel to freedom, of brave Joseph and how Daniel’s life was spared.
She would have loved to have been home when spring came. She would have loved to have worked in her garden with her children and enjoyed outings with her family and friends. Because the cause of freedom had meant so much to Elizabeth and Samuel; she had no home to return to.
Samuel was a hard worker and as one of many brothers, he knew how to get along and be helpful. His execution was stayed by a British commander who took a liking to him.
The price of independence was very high. When the war ended and freedom was won, Elizabeth, Samuel and the others were released and made their way back to Virginia and to each other.
Elizabeth and Samuel had three more children. In later years as Samuel and his sons were building a house, they were attacked again by natives. A pack of wild dogs appeared and chased away the braves. Another time as their daughters were fetching water, they were watched by another band of Indians. It is not known why, but they were left alone. As the family grew, their lives were filled with both joy and sorrow and their sacrifice blessed their family for generations.
Elizabeth lived 95 years. She died and was buried in Jackson County, Missouri where a marker and plaque were placed to honor the memory of this heroine of the American Revolutionary War.
Elizabeth’s legacy is celebrated today by the Daughters of the American Revolution and Sons of the American Revolution organizations with chapters that have been named for her.