Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Hannah (Watts) Weston 1758 ~ 1855

 

Hannah Weston, who was a granddaughter of the famous Hannah Dustin was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, on the 27th day of November, 1758, and died on the 12th of December, 1856, living very nearly a hundred years. Her father Captain Samuel Watts, gentleman, received his title as Captain by the royal concession of King George III, on the fourth day of May, 1756, under the hand of Governor Wentworth and Seal-at-Arms of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

In 1775 Hannah Weston was living with her husband and his sister, Rebecca, in a humble cottage in Jonesboro, Maine, with no thought of heroism or fame in the minds of any of the three. But word was brought to Josiah Weston that there was danger threatening their neighbors in Machias, who were about to strike a bold blow against England's tyranny and for American liberty. The people of Machias had erected a liberty pole which was plainly visible to the English warship "Margaretta" lying in the harbor.

 They had been ordered, in the name of the King, to take down the pole or suffer an attack by the British soldiers from the warship, commanded by Captain Moore. The Americans, under a young man known as Jerry O'Brien, determined to anticipate the attack and a messenger was sent to Josiah Weston's cottage for help and ammunition. Weston rallied a goodly number of men to go to the rescue, but there was little ammunition for them to take with them. As the recruits passed down the road, Hannah Weston sighed, for she believed her husband had gone on an almost desperate venture; there was to be much fighting and the American troops had each hardly enough powder to shoot a partridge. But suddenly a new thought flashed through her brain, and hastily putting on her shawl and bonnet she hastened out of the cottage. At twilight the young woman returned carrying in her arms a bag of something that appeared both bulky and heavy.

"Why whatever have you got there?" asked Rebecca Weston, her husband's sister, in a voice that expressed querulous surprise.

''Bullets," said Hannah Weston triumphantly. She emptied the bag of its contents. Out they tumbled and clattered, pewter mugs, platters, saucers and all sorts and sizes of spoons before the round-eyed maiden.

"Quick, Rebecca!" continued Hannah, "We must melt these and make bullets for the men at Machias."

"Machias!" gasped the girl, "Machias is a good sixteen miles away." "Never mind that; they must have ammunition. If there be not time to melt them, these pewter dishes must go as they are."

By the time the first streaks of light were showing under the Eastern sky the two women were ready to start out upon their journey. The pewter platters and spoons were secured in Hannah's strongest pillow-case, which made a burden of forty pounds to be borne over a distance of forest and marsh little traveled save by the Indians and the wolves. Shouldering the pillow-case full of material for ammunition, Hannah Weston, followed by Rebecca who carried a smaller bundle of food, set out upon her perilous enterprise with that confidence in God's protection that animated the women of those dark days with courage and upheld them with fortitude. It was necessary to leave the path at frequent intervals, and the masses of tangled woods and briers rendered progress so slow that the day was far advanced before they had reached one half of the journey's length that lay before them.

Rebecca was almost fainting from fatigue, and Hannah, whose courage had stimulated the younger girl to unwonted exercise was now given to fear the consequences of a night's exposure in the woods and its attending dangers. She made the younger woman sit down while she took up her burden and went forward to explore. After much wandering she at length reached the crest of a knoll toward which she bent her faltering footsteps. Looking downward she saw a stretch of land before her, and not far in the distance a house. Her heart gave a great bound, for she knew that the humble dwelling lay on the outskirts of Machias. Hurrying back she aroused the sleeping Rebecca and they headed forward to the cottage which Hannah had seen from the hilltop.

Here they rested until morning, for the kind inmates declared that they were fit for nothing but their beds. The next morning they pressed forward, but the sun was high in the sky when the two women made their way into the little town of Machias, which wore a very bustling and important expression. The first words which reached their ears were: "Margaretta' was captured by brave Jerry O'Brien and his men, and they say the young English captain is like to die from a shot fired by Sam Weston."

Hannah Weston heard the news with joy but some disappointment "We came to bring this ammunition to the men," she said, "but we have had our pains for nothing." "No," answered Jerry O'Brien, on hearing this, "This pewter is in the nick of time, for I warn you before many days be passed the English will be upon us again. And, Mistress Weston, I promise your bullets shall do good work when our visitors come."

History will tell you that Jerry O'Brien was right. In the attack by the British which followed, the pewter, which Hannah Weston's mid-night journey through the woods had brought, was passed in bullets from the muskets of the Americans into the ranks of the attackers with bitter and defeating effect.

A merchant presented Hannah and Rebecca with twelve yards of "camlet," which was divided between them and made into two gowns. This was a small pattern for two gowns, but the fashions of our great-grandmothers' days were very simple. Girls of our times would turn up their noses at such a gift, but Hannah and Rebecca Weston were greatly pleased, and for a hundred years their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren kept bits of these famous ''camlet" gowns, handing down from one generation to another scraps of the narrow petticoats and short bodices as their most cherished heirlooms.

During the ninety-eight years of her life this heroine of Machias had seen much of toil, sorrow and privation. But neither toil nor hardship nor sorrow quenched her brave spirit or hardened the heart that made this woman always brave to entreat and ready to help and comfort when danger threatened or sorrow came near. For many years the grave of this historic woman lay unmarked in the little sea-coast village of Jonesboro, Maine. Some six years ago her descendants from all parts of the United States joined their efforts with the people of the remote town and at last erected a monument fitting to commemorate the brave Hannah Weston.

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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