Nancy Hunter Dodge
Patron Saint of the Revolutionary Period
Nancy Hunter was a dashing frontierswoman of beauty and daring, whose life story is largely mingled with the early history of the Middle West. She was the daughter of Joseph and Mary Hunger, Scotch-Irish immigrants, who had come into Pennsylvania early in the eighteenth century. Joseph Hunter established a large mercantile business at or near Carlisle, but losing considerable money during the early years of the Revolution joined General George Rogers Clark’s expedition to the West. In his family, which accompanied the expedition, were his wife, his daughter Jane, wife of Captain Josiah Archer; Mary, wife of Major John Donne; Nancy and a younger daughter and three of his four sons, Joseph Hunger, Jr., David, and Abram. James, the oldest son, was in the Continental Army in the East, where he was killed. Of this family, the mother and her youngest daughter, and one son, Abram, were killed by the Indians.
Nancy Hunter is said to have been a handsome and rarely attractive girl. She certainly saw something of a pioneer life and its hardships and dangers and has been called a heroine for the part she played when they were besieged at the time Mrs. Hunter, her youngest daughter, and her son Abram were killed. Not a man could be spared, but food and ammunition must be brought from cache some distance away. Nancy Hunter, mounted on a fleet horse, dashed out of the fort and got safely off. When she returned she came from another direction and succeeded in gaining the shelter of the fort with no other damage than two or three holes through her clothing which had been pierced with arrows.
Nancy Hunter was married at Fort Jefferson, Ind., to Israel Dodge, the ceremony being performed by her father, who was a magistrate. Israel Dodge had been a soldier in the Continental Army, until badly wounded at Brandywine. Their first child, a son, was born at Fort Vincennes—the first American child, it is said, born in what is now the state of Indiana.
Mrs. Dodge was, at the time, at the house of Moses Henry, a British trader, and when the babe was but a few days old a party of Piankesaw Indians came to the house and seeing the infant and knowing that the mother was an American proposed to kill it, saying, “nits make lice.” Henry had some difficulty in preventing them from despatching [sic] the baby and they went away dissatisfied that he thought it best to hide the mother and her child for several days.
In her gratitude, Mrs. Dodge named her son, Moses Henry Dodge. In later days the name Moses was disregarded. Mrs. Dodge had one more child, a daughter. Then her husband died and some years later she married Ashel Linn and bore him a son and a daughter.
Nancy Hunter’s two sons, Henry Dodge and his half-brother, Lewis Field Linn, became eminent in the upbuilding [sic] of the Middle West. General Dodge after service in the Indian wars, both in Wisconsin and Iowa, was twice Governor of Wisconsin and afterward United States Senator. His brother, Lewis Field Linn, was equally prominent in Missouri, where he held many positions of public trust. The sisters married prominent citizens of the new country, and their descendants are to the found in half a dozen States of the Middle West. The Daughters of the American Revolution of Cape Girardeau, Mo., have perpetuated the memory of Nancy Hunter by making her their patron saint.
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.