Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rebecca Hubbard Barrett (1717 - 1806)

I have had the privilege and pleasure of becoming Rebecca Hubbard Barrett for several years. We first made an appearance at Minuteman National Park, Concord, Massachusetts with a dedicated group of reenactors as 18th century New England Women. Some of us went on to comprise the Barrett Women: Rebecca, seven of her daughters and daughters-in-law and eight of their children. During and following this period Rebecca also made a number of appearances by herself.

The most gratifying of all occurred this April of 2009, for after decades of trying to acquire the Barrett farm for restoration, it was finally accomplished, and Congress and the President have signed extending Minuteman Park to include the Barrett Farm. In April, at the dedication,I stood at the east door where Rebecca Barrett stood on the morning of 19 April 1775 and faced the regulars sent to search the farm for military supplies, weapons, etc. She faced and dealt with many troops as did her husband Col. James Barrett at North Bridge. She did so with courage and dignity and deserves praise and honor. She is an unsung heroine of the beginnings of our war for independence.

On this Wednesday morn she was a woman of fifty- eight years, exceptionally capable, and her ready wit prevented much loss this April day. Knowing that the house would be searched, the family wanted her to go to a safer place, but she refused, preferring to make sure the house and barn were kept safe. The house surrounded, Rebecca confronted the troops at the east door. Stating their intent to search the house and barn, the men filed off to do just that. Mrs. Barrett was quick to act and remind Captain Parsons of his promise to respect all private property.

Out in the barn some gun-carriages were found and would have been set afire on the spot, but since the barn was only forty feet from the house, Mrs. Barrett promptly interposed, and the pile was shifted into the road where they were partially destroyed.
While the soldiers were searching, Stephen Barrett had returned, an officer arresting him on the threshold, thinking that he was the Colonel. Mrs. Barrett identified him as her son, not the master of the house. She told the regulars that they may take Colonel Barrett when they can find him.

The search was unsuccessful and some of the men demanded food. One soldier asked for spirits, but they were refused. Food was a different matter, for the old lady remarked that we are commanded to feed our enemy if he hunger. She refused payment and called the coins thrown to her - “blood money.”

Restoration continues on this pivotal location and the year 2010 will see a special 300th birthday celebration for Col. James Barrett on July 31st. Much more to come!