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Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site



HISTORY of DELAWARE COUNTY

by Jay Gould - 1856


CHAPTER XV.

The following interesting production, from the pen of a daughter of
E. B. Fenn, Esq., is inserted, at the request of numerous friends.

THE ADVENTURES OF A YANKEE WOMAN,

By Maud Sutherland, Jr.

I.

"Honor and fame from no condition rise;
Act well your part - there all the honor lies."

Man was created for the stern realities of life; to wield with a giant's hands the destinies of nations; to dive into the hidden mysteries of this beautiful world; to perfect the arts and sciences, and to perform deeds of noble daring; while woman's sphere is to dispense benevolence, love and charity, to those around her. To this rule there are exceptions. There are females, whose minds are so constituted, that no task is too arduous, no danger too great, for them to grapple with and overcome.

Of such was Harriet Lovejoy. Endowed by nature with a mind far above the common level, and rendered more brilliant by cultivation, she pursued a course that many of the sterner sex would have avoided gladly. She became acquainted with a man, whose sphere of action was the battle-field. Acquaintance strengthened into friendship, and friendship ripened into love. During the winter previous to the close of the last war, they were married. No pomp or splendor reigned during those nuptial services, but there were hearts present that beat high with fond hopes and anticipations. Colonel Leavenworth was to leave immediately for Chippewa, Bridgewater, and Lundy's Lane, and thither Mrs. L., alias Harriet Lovejoy, was to accompany him; and she shrank not from the trials and difficulties attending this undertaking. Early on the morning following their marriage, was the time appointed for their departure. Parents and friends breathed many a prayer for their safe return. Good wishes for their success and prosperity, were tendered them, and the pangs of parting were rendered less acute in the hope of soon returning to their loved home; yet, ere their departure, they were joined by four hundred and thirty brave men, the flower of Delaware County militia, who were to repair with Colonel Leavenworth, to the battle-field, to maintain the peace, rights, honor, prosperity and happiness of their own country; to dispel the dark cloud that hung over a nation's destiny, and to perpetuate to future generations, the rich inheritance bequeathed them by their Revolutionary fathers, - thus proving by their heroic deeds, that they were not degenerate scions of a noble stock. Many hardships and difficulties stared them in the face, sufficient to appal the stoutest heart; but their courage failed not, although exposed to the rigors of intense cold, and with barely provisions sufficient to sustain life. At length their journey is accomplished. They have reached the battle-ground - their feet are treading foreign land.

II.

"There are swift hours in life - strong rushing hours,
That do the work of tempests in their might."

Let us draw aside the curtain. The battle has commenced. The veteran troops of Old England, and the hardy sons of America, are in close contact. Onward they rush to the charge, with hearts burning for victory. Several times the American forces are driven back, and again they rally and rush upon the enemy, eager to obtain that which is dearer to them than life - their altars and their homes. Two horses are killed, on which Col. L. rode, and still he escapes uninjured. Fortune seems to smile on the efforts of the British troops; but this is not a damper on the spirits of the Americans. They know that their cause is a just one, and they feel that the smiles of a righteous Providence will yet be theirs. They are seeking to retrieve their country's safety, that lay bleeding at every pore.

Naught is heard but the clashing of arms, the roar of artillery, and the groans of the wounded and dying. The fate of the day is decided - the British troops are routed - the American flag floats in triumph over the battle-field. Dearly was this victory purchased, for the bravest troops are slain, and only a handful of men are left, to relate the horrors of the day. Among the number of wounded, is Colonel Leavenworth.

Now the assistance of a wife is requisite; and faithfully Mrs. Leavenworth performed her task: tenderly she watched over her husband, administering everything necessary for his comfort, through those long days and nights of pain and anguish; yet her attention was not confined to her husband alone. Like an angel of mercy sent to bless mankind, she visited the sick and dying soldiers, performing all those acts of kindness - springing from a heart formed of benevolence and love - that were necessary to alleviate their distress, to comfort them in their afflictions, and pour the balm of consolation on their stricken hearts.

O woman, kind and tender-hearted! Thou hast a heart to feel for others' woes and sorrows. Thou canst dispense blessings and happiness, that will cause the faint and weary heart to revive, like the parched and withered plant after the gentle rain. Under the kind care and attention of Mrs. L., her husband and his soldiers recovered speedily. Here let me remark, that the soldiers loved Mrs. L. as their own life, and to use the words of one: "I never loved my mother with a greater intensity than I do this woman." There was not one of the army but would have sacrificed his own life to preserve hers.

Delaware County was clothed in mourning for the loss of the slain. Of four hundred and thirty soldiers, who left their happy homes to sustain their country's honor, only twenty-eight survived to accompany their brave Colonel and Lady on their return home.

III.

"Leave me not, leave me not,
Say not adieu;
Have I not been to thee
Tender and true?"

Two years passed away, - the clarion of war is no more heard - peace and plenty is smiling on happy America. Instead of the soldier in uniform, we behold the busy multitude at work in their shops and fields.

They are enjoying the liberty for which they fought so bravely. At this time Colonel L. received an appointment as Indian Agent, to the North-west Territory. He must now leave his wife and child for the first time, and struggle on in the wilds of the distant West, with no one to cheer him in his hours of loneliness. Vainly Mrs. L. urged her husband to allow her to accompany him, but there were hardships to encounter, that he wished his wife not to meet. The hour of separation draws near, and tender was the scene of parting. A tear stole down the manly face of the husband, as he repressed the heaving sigh that was swelling his heart with deep emotion, for he wished not to break up the fountains of a heart, dearer to him than his own life, already heaving with anguish.

"Harriet, Harriet, I must leave you. To the tender care of the 'widow's God,' I now commend you. In His hands you are safe, and may He protect and watch over you and our child, until in His own good time we meet again. Farewell:" and the next moment Colonel L. sprang into his carriage and was fast receding from those who loved him devotedly, sincerely.

Amid the ever-changing scenes he was called to realize, the image of his lovely wife and child was ever with him, serving as a beacon-light to cheer and guide the husband and father, during his lonely pilgrimage.

Could Mrs. L. be forgetful? No. Sweet thoughts of her husband would steal over her mind, ravishing her senses with love and beauty, and causing her heart to grow fonder and fonder, and long more and more for the companionship of an absent dear one.

Soon after Colonel L.'s departure, Mrs. L. occupied her time in teaching a select school, that afterwards laid the foundation for the Delaware Academy. This served in a great measure to dispel her loneliness. Great was her joy whenever she received messages from her husband, filled as they were, with fond regrets and tender recollections. He revealed his heart fully to his wife, and she read therein naught but constancy and affection. Her letters in turn, were such as would inspire his magnanimous soul with confidence, and so deeply was his mind absorbed in their contents, that he seemed to forget his cares and perplexities - I had almost said, their very existence.

IV.

"The scene is changed. Once more
I feel the pressure of thy hand, and
Thy warm kiss on my cheek."

A few years passed, and Mrs. L. received a letter from her husband, wishing her to join him at Prairie Du Chien, and bring their daughter with her. Hasty were the preparations for their departure. Minutes appeared like hours, and hours like days to her. A person unlike Mrs. L. would have shuddered at the idea of undertaking so long and tedious a journey, alone and unprotected, but with her usual courage and fortitude, she only said: "I will try," and half of the task was accomplished.

We how behold her wending her way to the "Far West." Her course is south on the Atlantic, across the Gulf of Mexico, and north on the Mississippi river, to St. Louis. These were lonely hours to her; yet, as she was a great admirer of Nature and its works, she enjoyed many pleasant hours in beholding the sun as it seemed to rise out of the bosom of the sea, decking the eastern sky with all possible loveliness, or watch its decline as it sunk gradually in the ocean, burnishing the waters with a golden light, or watch the foam of the ocean's billow as the noble ship sails swiftly o'er its bosom.

Arriving at St. Louis, she repaired to the hotel her husband had directed her to. Reaching the inn, she inquired of the landlord, "If any person was waiting at his house for Mrs. L." He replied, "there was," and left the room. A few moments elapsed, and Mrs. L. heard a gentle rap at her door. She obeyed the summons. Before her stood the tall and athletic form of an Indian chief. The feathers that adorned his head were beautiful, and waved gracefully to-and-fro. His face was painted after the customs of the chiefs, and this gave a frightful aspect to his countenance. In his belt was a scalping knife, and by his side hung a tomahawk. For the first time Mrs. L.'s heart sank within her, and she thought: "Is this the person who will accompany me during the remainder of my journey?"

Summoning all her courage, she invited him "to be seated." He declined the invitation politely, and handed her a package. She recognized the handwriting. It was her husband's, and this inspired her with new confidence.

"Mrs. Leavenworth, I am sent by your husband to conduct you to him. When will you be ready to commence the journey?"

"To-morrow at sunrise," she replied.

"I will call for you at that time," he replied; and bowing with the native hautuer of an Indian chief, he left the room.

With pleasure and interest, she perused her husband's letters, assuring her of her safety while on her journey through the wilderness. The Indians were friendly, and would protect her from all harm. The distance yet to travel was 700 miles, and a great part of the distance was through a dense forest where the foot of the white man had never trod. At her usual hour for retiring she laid her daughter by her side, and sweet were her dreams. She dreamed of happy hours whose existence seemed the present; while the reality was yet in the future.

Morning dawned. The sun rose in splendor and shed its rays over the earth, giving light and beauty to all around: joy and gladness beamed on the face of nature, cheering her sad and lonely heart. Precisely at the appointed hour the chief called for Mrs. Leavenworth. She made her appearance, and the chief taking the little daughter in his arms - led the way to the door. Here were fourteen Indians dressed in full costume and ready equipped for the journey. They were formally introduced by the chief to Mrs. Leavenworth.

The carriage that was to convey the wife and daughter, was a palanquin, so constructed that the occupants could sit or recline at their pleasure, and this was to be their home for 700 long miles. We now behold them seated in their carriage. The baggage is in order and firmly secured. Everything is ready. Four stout Indians step forward from their fellows, raise the palanquin on their shoulders, and commence their march. Five of the remainder walk before in Indian file - headed by their chief, and the remainder follow the palanquin in the same order. The curtain of the carriage is raised. Mrs. Leavenworth gazes on the scene with mingled feelings of hope and fear. She casts one long and lingering look on all around, as the last abode of civilization fades from her view. Before her lies the pathless forest and the wide prairie, behind her the cultivated fields of the white man. Before her stands the rude wigwam of the savage, behind her the princely dwellings of her own countrymen. Before her roam the savages and ferocious beasts, behind her are peaceful walks and shady retreats of America's enlightened sons. Before her is Nature in its wildest and most picturesque beauty, while behind her Art gives finish to the painting, and renders it more attractive and beautiful.

The day has nearly passed; night draws her sable curtain over all the earth; the last rays of the setting sun gild the mountains, burnishing the western sky with a gold and purple light, as the Indians encamp for the night. A fire is kindled, and the evening repast neatly and comfortably prepared. The wild flowers and green grass serve as a carpet, a board forms the table, and the blue arch of heaven is spread over them as a canopy. The studied formalities of the white man enter not their circle. Order and neatness reign here. The frugal repast is finished. The hour of rest draws near. Weariness and sleep steal over them, and they seek refreshment in repose. Mrs. L. and child lie down to rest, for the first time, among savages and in a wilderness, in their palanquin. The Indians, except two, who are stationed as guards - spread their blankets on the ground, lie down, and are soon "locked in the arms of Morpheus." Not so with Mrs. L.; the screeching of the owl, and the howling of the wild beasts, disturb her slumbers. This was noticed by the guards, and they told her "to sleep as fearless as though in her own home, nothing should harm her." At last the god of sleep woos her to his own home, and her thoughts are wandering over the regions of dreamland.

Morning dawns, and sleep forsakes the eyelids of the sleepers. The morning meal is prepared and finished, and again they proceed on their way. Myriads of flowers strow their pathway, and throw their odors on the passing breeze. Birds of beaufiful plumage sing their sweetest notes, cheering the hearts of Mrs. L. and her daughter.

The chief and his escort are very kind, showing them every attention necessary for their comfort and happiness. Sometimes they cull the choicest flowers, and weave them into bouquets and garlands, or pick the finest fruits, or bring the sparkling water as it gushes from the mountain side.

The Indians often quarrelled among themselves, fearful that one would confer a greater favor on their charge than the other. No insult of any kind was offered the lady and daughter, and the Indians set an example worthy the imitation of the white man.

Thus passed the several days of their pilgrimage. On the 34th day after their departure from St. Louis, the chief stepped to the window of the palanquin, and said: "Do you see those white tents yonder? That one - pointing - is Colonel L.'s."

What must have been Mrs. L.'s feelings, as she drew near her husband's tent? Pen cannot describe; language is inadequate to the task. In a few moments she was locked in her husband's arms. "Harriet, you have come at last;" was all that Colonel L. could utter; and taking his child, he pressed it to his bosom, while tears of heartfelt joy coursed down his manly cheeks, that were never moistened in the din of battle. Here it would be well to remark, that Mrs. L. was the first white woman who had crossed this trackless forest, or these extended and delightful prairies; emphatically termed Nature's flower garden.

The trio were happy, for after many lonely and wearisome days, they were permitted to meet again. The savages gazed on the scene in mute astonishment. Day after day sped rapidly by, and still there was happiness. A few years passed, and Colonel L. was sent by government, 1100 miles father south. Thither his wife and children accompanied him, where they arrived in safety.

V.

"I miss the warm clasp of thy hand,
And thy warm breath on my cheek,
And I still keep listening for the words
That you never more may speak."

A few months passed after their arrival at Cross Timbers, and Colonel L. was taken sick with a fever incident to the climate. With all the care and solicitude of a kind and tender wife, she watched over him day and night with untiring zeal, barely allowing herself time for a moment's repose, and ministering to all his wants; yea, anticipating them, and consoling him with the reflection that "he would once more return to his far distant home." Alas! Death loves a shining prize, and marked him for his victim. The truth became manifest to himself, and those around, that he must die. But how agonizing the thought that he must leave his wife and children, alone and unprotected, in a strange land. The thought was like the sundering of soul and body. His soul was unnerved for the conflict. Long and earnestly he prayed for strength to support him in his dying hour. By degrees his soul became more calm, until he was fully resigned to the will of God. Once more he commended his wife and children to Him, who has promised "to temper the winds to the shorn lamb." He gave them his parting blessing, and sank to rest in the arms of his Redeemer.

This was the severest trial that Mrs. L. had ever been called to meet. Her spirit was crushed to the earth. The hopes and bright anticipations, she had nurtured so long and fondly, were prostrated in the dust. But for her children, she could have calmly laid herself beside her husband, and "breathed her life out sweetly there." She looked to her Heavenly Father for aid, and he granted it. Heavenly messengers were sent to comfort her, and she was prepared for the worst.

Mrs. L. had the body of her husband wrapped in spices, and placed in a vault; she immediately settled her deceased husband's pecuniary affairs, and prepared to return to New York State with her four children. Did she leave the body of her husband in a strange land? No, no. The feelings of the widowed wife were still strong in death. She takes his mortal remains, and carries them with her to her home, in Delaware county. The same Indians that once escorted Mrs. L. and her daughter through the wilderness, are now the escort of herself, four children, and the body of her husband, from Cross Timbers to St. Louis. Their passage on the ocean was very stormy, but they reached New York in safety. At Catskill, the dragoons of Delaware met the remains of their honored friend, and conveyed them to Delhi, where the Rev. Mr. Fenn pronounced the eulogy, and the few remaining soldiers that accompanied Colonel L. to the Battle-field, now followed his remains to their last resting place. "Truly a great man hath fallen in Israel." The Freemasons and Military erected a monument to the memory of the departed. No marble monument was necessary to perpetuate his fame, for his memory was graven on every heart, and his heroic deeds were written in his country's history.

Delhi became the home of Mrs. L. and her four children, for a short time. From thence they removed to Newburgh, where another severe trial awaited them: the eldest daughter was removed by death.

It was my good fortune, a few years since, to see Mrs. L. Her countenance bore the deep traces of sorrow, but grief had not robbed her of her beauty and commanding appearance. Courage and ambition, those predominating faculties of her mind, were unimpared, and like the sun after the cloud passes away, they show with a brighter and steadier lustre.

Florida is now the home of Mrs. L. and her three children. Thus passes the life of one who is fitted to adorn and shine as one of the brightest gems in the higher walks of life.

Davenport, Feb. 26th, 1849.

The following obituary announces the death of this lady:

DIED - on the 7th September, 1854, at Barrytown, Dutchess county, Mrs. HARRIET LEAVENWORTH, widow of the late Gen. Henry Leavenworth, U. S. Army. Mrs. Leavenworth, during the first few years of her married life, was a resident of this village; and although many years have passed, she is still remembered with pleasure by the few remaining of those who had her acquaintance and friendship. Her early life was diversified with many incidents of interest. When her gallant husband was ordered to the frontier, hundreds of miles in the wilderness, to protect the inhabitants from the invasions of the savages, she, like a faithful wife, was at his side, regardless of the many dangers, hardships and privations she had to endure. After the death of Gen. L. she returned to this State, and has resided most of the time at Newburgh, occasionally visiting this, the place of her early joys, and where the remains of her lamented husband rest. - [Delaware Gazette.]

End of Chapter XV

Index to History of Delaware County by Jay Gould

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