Deborah Scudder Hart
Wife of John Hart, Signer of the Declaration of Independence
1721 – 1776 A.D.
Deborah Scudder Hart, wife of John Hart, was the youngest daughter of Richard B. Scudder and his wife, Hannah Reeder Scudder, who had come to New Jersey about 1717, and settled on the Delaware River near the Falls, She married John Hart, and thirteen children were born to them, nearly all of whom lived to become men and women.
John Hart was generally known as “Honest John,” and he was a grey-haired old man when he was sent as a delegate to the first Continental Congress, where he was an active and outspoken advocate of political liberty. Soon after the Declaration of Independence, New Hersey became the theatre [sic] of war. The progress of the British troops and their Tory allies was marked by rapine and wanton destruction of property. Mr. Hart was away from home and in attendance upon Congress and the two oldest sons were in the Continental army. Mrs. Hart was suffering from a disease that would not allow of her being removed to any great distance. Her children carried her to a place of safety and left their home to be pillage and destroyed by the Hesians and Tories. Mr. Hart hurried home from Congress to his dying wife – for anxiety and exposure had been too much for her wasted strength and she was dying. It was but a short time that he was given to sit by her bedside, before he was forced to fly. He was a marked man and for weeks he was hunted by the Tories like a criminal. Those were dark days for Deborah Hart. While Washington’s fast dwindling army was lying inactive, her home in ruins, and her husband a fugitive, she lay on her deathbed cheerful and trusting in the God of her fathers that the right would yet prevails. And so she died, October 28, 1776, while John Hart, that staunch old patriot, was carrying his grey hairs and the physical infirmities of sixty-year years from one hiding-place to another; for weeks scarcely ever sleeping the second night under the same roof because of the danger it brought the owner of that roof to harbour [sic] him. There came a night of snow and rain when he had not the place to lay his head. He knocked at a cabin door and was refused admission and he was too tired to go farther. The storm was increasing, and he was glad to crawl into an empty stable, used as a dog kennel and rest until morning.
Then came the battle of Trenton and the capture of Rahl’s Hessians. Again the skies of New Jersey began to clear and old John Hart and his scattered flock gathered around their ruined hearthstone and prepared to build up a new home. His personal losses had been heavy, and his health badly broken by his hardships, but he never remained the same ardent and earnest champion of independence until his death which occurred in 1780.
Of the twelve children born to Deborah and John Hunt who lived to adulthood, it is said that the known descendants of John Hart may be found in every State in the Union.
Reference: The Pioneer Mothers of America: A Record of the More Notable Women of the Early Days of the Country, and Particularly of the Colonial and Revolutionary Periods by Harry Clinton Green and Mary Wolcott Green, A.B. Third Volume, Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.