Google+ Georgia On My Mind: Nancy Morgan Hart: Georgia Heroine

Friday, February 23, 2007

Nancy Morgan Hart: Georgia Heroine

It’s hard for my nine year old students to grasp many of the concepts I’m employed to teach them. These kids have televisions, ipods, cell phones, and live with the notion that if you need something you buy it at the store. They have no idea what it would be like to live in the Georgia frontier prior to and during the American Revolutions. Heck, it’s hard for me to fathom it.

No running water, no electricity, no phone, no car, no food unless I hunt it or grow it…..It’s hard to imagine how early Georgians lived on the frontier but they did. It’s even harder for some to realize that most of Georgia was considered frontier during the American Revolution.

A study of Nancy Morgan Hart gives my students pause to ponder how Georgians lived during the frontier days. The website Georgia Women details Hart’s life and escapades quiet well, but I don’t belive the picture is quiet accurate. Hart had a hard life. Various accounts describe her as tall, gangly, rough-hewn, and a great shot despite being cross-eyed.

Along with her husband she lived on a 400 acre claim twenty-five miles southeast of present-day Hartwell in a small cabin. During her marriage she gave birth to eight children.

One could say that Hart was passionate about her Patriot status. Most stories are unverifiable and over the years Hart has taken on the proportions of a character shrouded in myth, legend and local folklore. Local Cherokees honored her with the title ‘Wahatche’ which meant ‘War Woman’and named a creek after her. One story states she worked with General Elijah Clark and assisted him by dressing as a gentleman. This gave her entry to Tory enclaves where she would act insane in order to overhear conversations.

GeorgiaEncyclopedia.org tells the following story that has earned Hart much of her acclaim:

The most famous story of Hart's escapades as a frontier patriot began when a group of six (some accounts say five) Tories came to her cabin and demanded information concerning the location of a certain Whig leader. Only minutes earlier, the Whig, hotly pursued by the Tories, had stopped by the Hart cabin and enlisted Hart's aid as he made his escape. Hart insisted that no one had passed through her neck of the woods for days. Convinced that she was lying, one of the Tories shot and killed Hart's prized gobbler. After ordering her to cook the turkey, the Tories entered the cabin, stacked their weapons in the corner, and demanded something to drink. Hart obliged them by opening her jugs of wine. Once the Tories began to feel the intoxicating effects of the wine, Hart sent her daughter Sukey to the spring for a bucket of water. Hart secretly instructed her to blow a conch shell, which was kept on a nearby stump, to alert the neighbors that Tories were in the cabin.

As Hart served her unwanted guests, she frequently passed between them and their stacked weapons. Inconspicuously, she began to pass the loaded muskets, one by one, through a chink in the cabin wall to Sukey, who had by this time slipped around to the rear of the building. When the Tories noticed what she was doing and sprang to their feet, Hart threatened to shoot the first man who moved a foot. Ignoring her warning, one Tory lunged forward, and Hart pulled the trigger, killing the man. Seizing another weapon, she urged her daughter to run for help. Hart shot a second Tory who made a move toward the stacked weapons and held off the remaining loyalists until her husband and several others arrived. Benjamin Hart wanted to shoot the Tories, but Hart wanted them to hang. Consequently the remaining Tories were hanged from a nearby tree.

This story gained some truth when, in 1912, five bodies were unearthed near the Hart cabin when the Elberton and Eastern Railroad was being built. Therefore, at least for now, there is some proof to the story.

The local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution created a small park where the cabin stood along River Road in Elbert County. Today the site is within Bobby Brown State Park. During the Depression the Civilian Conservation Corp constructed a cabin on the property supposedly using the original chimney stones.

Patriot Hart has received several accolades since feeding the Tories their meal. Hart County, Georgia is the only county named for a woman and their country seat, Hartwell, is named for her as well. State route 77 is named Nancy Hart Highway and we mustn’t forget Lake Hartwell. During the Civil War a group of ladies from Lagrange formed a group called the Nancy Harts. Their aim was to defend their city against Union soldiers.

1 comment:

Celeste said...

The link does not work. It needs www. in it. This is so interesting. I am hoping that Brook will learn more about our State. Her teacher is from California and has never even seen a deer! Poor thing.
Brook did do some research tonight on our stae fish.

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