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Mary Dunlevy ~ New York City


Mary Dunlevy was of Scotch parentage, being born on the voyage of her parents from Scotland to America, in 1765. The family name was Craig. They settled in New York and experienced the early oppressions which brought on the Revolution. Her father's death occurred soon after they reached this country, her mother being left with the care of a little family of three, two daughters and one son.

At the time of the occupation of New York City by the British troops, Mrs. Craig expressed no little alarm for the safety of herself and children. Among her small circle of friends from the old country was a British officer, whom she married. This made a very uncomfortable home life for Mary Dunlevy, who soon sought a more friendly atmosphere in the home of Dr. Halstead, of Elizabethtown, New Jersey.

She was a strong advocate of Independence and in this respect was in sympathy with those of her new home and felt deeply the separation from her family. Her sister married an Englishman and went to England to live, but Mary always felt the warmest friendship for her American friends, and frequently risked her life in efforts to save their property from destruction by appealing to the British Commander, and on one occasion a sword was drawn upon her threatening instant death if she did not leave the room of this austere commanding officer. She, however, persisted and did ultimately accomplish her purpose and save the property of her friends. Frequently she spent whole days and nights making bullets and tending the wounded and dying. She was one of the young girls who witnessed the triumphal march of General Washington and helped to strew the road with flowers as he passed. There was no more enthusiastic participant in the rejoicing over the establishment of independence than Mary Dunlevy.

In 1789, she married James Carpenter, who had recently returned from a visit of exploration to the new North-west Territory. He was so delighted with the new country that he determined to settle there, and thither they went after their marriage in 1789. They made their home near Maysville, Kentucky. Mary had been accustomed to hardship and exposure in her early days and proved her worth in this new home. But Carpenter's difficult labors of the winter in clearing the ground and raising the building which was to form their little home brought on a hemorrhage which two years later resulted in his death.

 Though urged by her friends to take up her home inside the borders which the settlers had erected, she preferred the solitude and independence of her own little home which her husband had made for her. It is said that she planned a way of protecting her little children in case of an attack by the Indians by digging out beneath the puncheon floor of her cabin a small cellar, and every night she lifted the timbers and placed her children on beds in this cellar, keeping a lonely vigil herself. Her fears were not groundless, her cabin being frequently surrounded by savages, and but for her careful provisions for protection, she and her little family no doubt would have been killed.

Cincinnati became the headquarters of the army through the establishment of a garrison there known as Fort Washington. One of the first schools established in the Northwest Territory was that of young Francis Dunlevy who had served in many Indian campaigns, and came to Columbia, in 1792, and established his school. Hearing of Mrs. Carpenter's courage and sacrifices for her children, he sought her out and finding that none of them had been exaggerated he became a suitor for her hand, and they were married in January, 1793. Mr, Dunlevy became one of the most respected citizens of that section of the country, and was afterwards a member of the legislature of the Northwest Territory and the convention which formed the constitution of Ohio. He was also Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. Mrs. Dunlevy had two daughters by her first marriage and three sons and three daughters by her second, and after the death of her eldest child her health failed and she died in 1828, without any apparent cause but that of a broken heart.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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